GREENIE WATCH: 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007

Sunday, December 31, 2006


I reproduce below a report of a recent Arctic event from what is arguably the world's "Greenest" mainstream newspaper -- the London "Independent" (known to many as the "Subservient"). The event is hailed as evidence of global warming and I am sure that refutations of that will soon emerge but in the meantime I think I should make some preliminary comments:

I am not a physicist or a chemist. I am a much-published psychologist with an interest in the sociology of knowledge. So I see my role in reporting on scientific questions outside my own field as being simply to draw attention to the full range of available information on the question concerned. Most scientists are probably aware that there is a "confirmatory bias" towards accepted theories in what is published in the academic journals so particular attention to non-confirmatory findings is simply good science.

But although I rarely comment personally in fields in which I am not expert, I am always, of course, delighted to point to failures in logic and it seems to me that the "Greenie" interpretation of the recent arctic event is very suspect from that point of view.

Why would a large bit of the Arctic ice shelf break off and fall into the sea? If global warming is happening, it should surely just shrink and melt away, with no reason to lose contact with the land. On the other hand, if the ice-shelf is EXPANDING then it should eventually get so big that it expands beyond the boundaries of the land -- causing the bit that is no longer supported by the land to fall into the sea.

So the recent event points overwhelmingly to an EXPANDING ice mass in that area of the Arctic, not a shrinking one -- which is what the Greenies would have you believe. Pesky eh?

I will leave it to others to comment on the other misrepresentations in the article below

A vast ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has broken up, a further sign of the astonishing rate at which polar ice is now melting because of global warming. The Ayles ice shelf, more than 40 square miles in extent - over five times the size of central London - has broken clear from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 500 miles south of the North Pole in the Canadian Arctic, it emerged yesterday. The broken shelf has formed an ice island, in what a leading scientist described as a "dramatic and disturbing event", citing climate change as the cause.

The news caps a dramatic year of discovery about just how quickly the polar ice is disappearing. It comes as America's leading climate scientist, James Hansen, warns in today's Independent that the Earth is being turned into "a different planet" because of the continuing increase in man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

The break-up of the Ayles shelf occurred 16 months ago, in an area so remote it was not at first detected. "This is a dramatic and disturbing event," said Professor Warwick Vincent of Laval University in Quebec City. "It shows that we are losing remarkable features of the Canadian North that have been in place for many thousands of years."Ice shelves float on the sea, but are connected to land (as opposed to ice sheets, which are wholly land-based). In the past five years, several ice shelves along the fringes of the Antarctic peninsula have started to become unstable or break up. The most spectacular was the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf, the size of Luxembourg.

Until now, there had not been a similar event among the six major shelves remaining in Canada's Arctic, which are packed with ancient ice that is more than 3,000 years old. Professor Vincent, who studies Arctic ecosystems, travelled to the newly formed ice island and was amazed at what he saw. "It's like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf," he said. "Unusually warm temperatures definitely played a major role. It is consistent with climate change." The collapse was picked up by the Canadian Ice Service, which notified Luke Copland, head of the new global ice laboratory at the University of Ottawa. Using US and Canadian satellite images, as well as seismic data - the event registered on earthquake monitors more than 150 miles away - Professor Copland discovered that the ice shelf collapsed in the early afternoon of 13 August 2005. Scientists were surprised at the speed of the event, Professor Copland said - it took less than an hour.

There have already been several disturbing indications this year that the Arctic ice is melting at a much faster rate than expected. In September, two Nasa reports showed a great surge in the disappearance of the winter sea ice over the past two years, with an area the size of Turkey disappearing in 12 months.

Note that the article below points to a COOLING arctic, which again suggests that the ice-shelf breakoff is due to an EXPANDING ice-mass, not a shrinking or melting one. I hope to have more to say about sea-ice versus land-based ice tomorrow

Because global warming is a religious belief rather than a scientific one, however, Greenies do from time to time accept that the ice-mass in places like Greenland and the Antarctic is expanding. They say that global warming produces more evaporation off the ocean and hence more snowfall and hence ice buildup. NO evidence can count against their belief. The global warming belief thus fails the test of falsifiability, which is basic not only to scientific statements but to empirical statements generally. The global warming belief is thus a theological, not a scientific one -- on a par with the Christian ability to explain the existence of evil despite their God being omnipotent and benevolent

Greenland has cooled down since the 1930s

Post lifted from Lubos Motl

Greenland is one of the regions that play a crucial role in the global warming theory. The existing climate models predict an amplified warming for Greenland and other high-latitude areas. Moreover, these regions that are far away from the equator should also get more warming because of the vegetation feedback mechanism. Also, we frequently read that the Greenland's glaciers are reatreating: we're doomed. On the other hand, the name of Greenland suggests that it could have been green in the past. Who is right: hysterical journalists on one side or historians and linguists on the other side?

There exists a better method to decide similar questions than both hysterical journalism as well as history: the method is called science. The following 2006 paper in Journal of Geophysical Research

by B. Vinther, K. Andersen, P. Jones, K. Briffa, and J. Cappelen has looked at the available data and reconstructed the temperatures for winters from 1829 to 2005 and summers from 1855 to 2005.

The results? The warmest winter at some places was the winter of 1917. The authors do not indicate whether the reason was Lenin and his Great October Socialist Revolution. ;-)

The warmest year in all of Greenland was 1941 while the 1930s and 1940s were the warmest decades (see page 8 of 13 in the PDF file above). The coldest year was 1863 while the 1810s were the coldest decade, largely because of two large volcanic eruptions that took place in this period.

Well, the global warming theory and the existing climate models seem to be in trouble because of these observations (and others). Is there an explanation that would be consistent with the climate change paradigm? You bet.

The anthropogenic explanation of the nicely cool decade of the 1810s relies on some of the successful actions of the Luddites who were destroying the textile machines between 1811 and 1816. Once these heroes and predecessors of the contemporary warriors against the climate change were beaten up by the evil capitalists, a catastrophic period of warming started. The only glimpse of hope was the coldest year of 1863 when slavery was abolished and the former slaves didn't have to breath so much and emit so much carbon dioxide. Finally, this cataclysmic period of warming ended around 1941 when the Nazi soldiers were freezing near Moscow which much reduced the expansion and the CO2 emissions of the Third Reich. ;-)

This story sounds great but I will stick with the volcanos, solar activity, and other natural phenomena that seem to explain the observed graphs more naturally.

More comments at WorldClimateReport. A critical perspective on the article by Vinther et al. is offered by Steve McIntyre who argues that they again extract low-frequency signals out of high-frequency patterns which is no good. The paper by Vinther et al. is also discussed by RealClimate from an alarmist perspective.

The nuke train is getting up steam in Australia

Australians are more likely to be attacked by a shark or hit by lightning than die from a nuclear power plant disaster. In releasing a report commissioned on the viability of nuclear power in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard said there were no sound reasons to not go nuclear.

The final report from the Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy review board said the risk of implementing nuclear power is of an acceptably low level. The risk of dying in a nuclear disaster was below that of dying from smoking, driving, owning firearms, drowning, fire, electrocution and snake bites, the report said. There have been 31 direct fatalities from nuclear reactors since 1969 - including the Chernobyl disaster - compared to more than 25,000 fatalities in the coal industry. This did not take into account the estimated 4000 people who could eventually die from cancer caused by radiation exposure from the Chernobyl meltdown.

The report also stated that the particles spewed into the atmosphere by traditional forms of power generation resulted in an estimated loss of life expectancy of 8.6 months for the average European.

Mr Howard said the Government would respond quickly to the board's recommendations. "Nuclear power is part of the solution both to Australia's energy and climate change challenges," Mr Howard said. He agreed nuclear power was not a "silver bullet" and wasn't economically feasible at the moment. "It's not going to come immediately because it's not economic at present, but it will become increasingly economic as we clean up the use of coal," Mr Howard said. He said the Government would, in the short term, focus on the report's recommendation that skilled personnel for nuclear power and uranium mining industries be trained and recruited.

Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd rejected the need for nuclear power and said Labor was committed to renewable sources. "We think the right way involves clean, green energy," he said. "Mr Howard's solution is too expensive, it's too dangerous and it's too slow to bring about real results on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the immediate term."

The review board, headed by former Telstra chief Ziggy Switkowski, was established six months ago to investigate nuclear power as an alternative to coal-fired power plants in the face of growing concerns about climate change. The country's demand for electricity is predicted to more than double by 2050.

Greens Senator Christine Milne said nuclear power would not halt the effects of climate change. "The Government is now scrambling to create a perception that it is doing something, knowing full well that nuclear power is too slow, too expensive and too dangerous to provide any answer to global warming," Senator Milne said.


The Australian environment needs a nuclear China

As does the whole of Asia

We walked west into a fiery red sunset in St. Kilda last night, on our way to pick up some yogurt for dinner. On our way back, the moon rose before us in the east, nearly as dark and orange as the sun setting behind us. We turned sideways with one celestial body on each hand and enjoyed the beauty and symmetry for a few quiet seconds, looking at the skyline of Melbourne in front of us, caught between a nuclear source of light and the dead moon reflecting it. Then we took off our poetry hat and put on our thinking beanie and our brain began to boil.

The Chinese are going to burn enough coal in the next fifty years to make every Melbourne sunset look like the end of the world. For instance just this week China's Huaneng Group launched the country's first 1,000 megawatt coal-fired power generating unit. A little info-mining tells us that a 500 mega watt coal-fired power plant provides about 3.5 billion kilowatt hours of juice per year. That's enough to power a city of 140,000 people and enough to consume about 1.4 million tons of coal.

Sit down for a second and consider the following. China's great migration or rural farmers to urban enclaves means relocating 400 million people into new or existing cities. Those people will live in buildings that need air conditioning and work in factories that use electricity and eat in restaurants that cook with electric appliances and refrigerate with electric freezers. Where will the power come from? If it comes from coal, China will have to build a staggering 2,857 500 mega watt coal-fired plants to meet the demand. This would produce-without cleaner-burning technology-around 10.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year. A 500 mega watt coal-burning plant spews nearly 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year.

We don't know what a ton of carbon dioxide looks like, or how you would carry it on your back. Neither do we know if it causes the earth's temperature to rise. But we do know that when you burn coal you also produce what are called particulate emissions. These include sulfur and nitrous oxides and other pleasant by products like lead, mercury, and arsenic.

We know that all this coal-burning must excite the Australian coal industry. But if China burns this much coal in the next twenty years, its neighbors in Japan and Korea are going to borrow a phrase from Australia and ask, "Where the bloody hell are you?" They'll ask because they won't be able to see each other through the thick pall of smog blown west from China.

Last night's orange moon didn't come from Chinese pollution. It came from bush fires and the normal pollution of hundreds of thousands of cars burning petrol on the way home to watch the beginning of England's second innings in the Adelaide Test of the Ashes. And atmospherically speaking, the jet stream probably prevents Australia from having to bear the brunt of Chinese energy consumption habits, at least directly. But what could Australia do about it if a big orange cloud descended from China? Would the border patrol try and turn it back? Would customs arrest it? Would A Current Affair find someone to blame?

Japan and Korea have complained bitterly to China about the black cloud, but with little effect. It wouldn't surprise us to see the Japanese build giant coastal fans, nuclear powered of course, to blow the smog back. But that wouldn't really solve anything. To solve this problem, we have to get at its root causes. One of the biggest causes is the aversion to nuclear power by the lunatic fringe of the political and environmental world.

You never hear anti-nuclear forces whinge about the sun. But by all rights, if they're being consistent, they should. After all, the sun's radiation causes skin cancer. And the sun itself is a giant nuclear fusion reactor, ceaselessly bombarding the Earth and the other planets in the solar system with heat, light, and energy that is stored in Earth's plant life. This fossilized plant life eventually turned into the oil and natural gas the industrial world has been living off of for the last 200 years.

Why not go straight to the source and nuclear? This would be good for cleaner for global energy needs, in addition to unleashing a "Uranium Rush" in Australia. Yesterday's report by the House of Representatives on Australia's nuclear future emphasized the economic benefits of expanded uranium mining. It also concludes that nuclear energy is the "only means" for cutting green house gas emissions. The 700-page report, which sits on ominously on our desk, is entitled "Australia's Uranium: Greenhouse friendly fuel for an energy hungry world."

And here is our main point. The nuclear debate in Australia isn't so much about Australia as it is about China and India. Australia, like every other major Western economy, ought to develop a safe, efficient, and clean nuclear industry for the day when conventional hydro-carbons like oil, coal, and gas, are no longer plentiful and cheap. That day is fast approaching, and is probably already upon us. But the main reason Australia ought to encourage nuclear power use is that if China and India don't go the nuclear route, the world will soon be a dirtier, sweater, and more dimly lit place. The sunsets might be romantic. But if you can't breathe, you won't be able to enjoy them all that much.

More here

Australia: Landowners standing up for their rights

The natives are getting restless. On February 11 there will be a rally in Hyde Park to protest against the State Government's long-running assault on democracy and private property. At a meeting at Rouse Hill just before Christmas, about a dozen community groups decided to join forces for what they hope will be a big event. The political ramifications could be interesting. Some of the groups are small, but others have previously organised demonstrations of thousands of people in their own areas. They have a range of issues, but as a coalition they are calling for three things.

1. Fair compensation when government legislation, such as rezoning or native vegetation law, reduces the value of private property.
2. An end to developer donations to political parties.
3. Restoration of the planning powers of local councils, possibly by entrenching councils in the constitution of NSW.

Most members of the coalition are in one of three broad categories. The first opposes the way the State Government has taken planning powers away from councils to enforce urban consolidation on municipalities that, as the Herald's front page showed on Tuesday, are unsuited to it and don't want it. This category includes the Coalition Against Private Overdevelopment, which is fighting the replacement of the Royal Rehabilitation Centre at Putney with 795 flats.

The second category of groups is located in western Sydney, often representing people with blocks of land from two to 10 hectares, of whom there are many thousands, who are protesting not against urban consolidation but the way government is going about releasing more land on the fringe. One common complaint is that the process is being done to assist big developers and disadvantage smaller ones. Here, too, the State Government has crushed obstructions from councils. This category includes Hands Off Private Property in the north-west, formed last year when the Government proposed to turn properties zoned as awaiting urban development into green zones. The group managed to stop what would effectively have been the state theft of a big proportion of landowners' assets.

The third group involved in the rally are farmers, many of whom have seen their livelihoods and assets devastated by the State Government. The biggest cause of this is native vegetation legislation, which prevents farmers clearing even woody weeds. Farmers are, naturally, upset and this year have been blockading properties in western NSW to prevent officials from the Department of Natural Resources from entering to investigate suspected illegal clearing of woody weeds. (Officials have the right to enter properties at will.) Another big rural issue at the moment, as reported by Daniel Lewis in the Herald on December 16, is the Government's theft of water that irrigators have been promised and have paid for.

The legal situation regarding compensation for the state theft of property rights was considered in a 2003 paper by Bryan Pape, a senior lecturer at the University of New England's law school. The State Government is legally obliged to pay just compensation if it takes property, but has no obligation at all if it only goes halfway, as it were, and reduces a property's economic value by taking away some of the usage rights previously attached to it. These might be the right to remove scrub on a farm, or in the case of a heritage listing, the right to build another storey on a house (subject to council approval). Pape wrote that "there appears grounds for characterising an uncompensated taking as an unchallengeable tax. Such an implicit tax may be regarded as invalid."

One farmer who will be at the rally is Peter Spencer, who lost the use of about 90 per cent of his property because of native vegetation law. Backed by a new group called the Constitutional Property Rights Association, he is pursuing legal action against his council, because the rates it charges him are still based on the assumption his land is economically productive. He also hopes to take on the Federal Government in the High Court. Although native vegetation law is a state matter, Canberra contributed a great deal of the money used to implement it and now takes credit internationally because affected farms such as Spencer's are carbon sinks. The Federal Government is possibly more vulnerable to legal action than the states for uncompensated "regulatory takings", the term used for the modern version of what was once called the nationalisation of private property.

Regulatory takings have been the subject of successful counterattacks by the community in parts of the US, starting in Oregon, the home of urban consolidation, when landowners found the value of their properties under attack from restrictive rezoning by a state government in pursuit of the urban environmental vote. Some other countries, such as Britain, have long taken a much fairer approach: farmers are paid "stewardship fees" as compensation if they suffer financially in order to achieve an environmental outcome desired by the wider community.

It is the way of democracy that governments can get away with a hell of a lot, but eventually they go too far and the people turn on them. The big question is how far is too far. Turnout at the February 11 rally could provide an indication.

Here are the groups supporting the rally so far: the Aboriginal Housing Company, Alex Avenue Residents Action Group, Anti-Transmission Tower Action Group, Coalition Against Private Overdevelopment, Hands Off Private Property, Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment, Keep Our Property Private, Land and Asset Protection Group, Marsden Park Schedule Lands, North-Western Railway Alignment Injustice Lobby, Property Rights Association (NSW), Rally Ku-ring-gai, Riverstone Release Area Scheduled Lands, Rouse Hill Heights Action Group, and Save Our Suburbs.



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

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

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


Saturday, December 30, 2006


Post lifted from Tim Blair

Geoffrey Lean, the Independent’s environment editor, presents a global scoop of apocalyptic proportions:

Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India’s part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

Terrifying! You’ll note, however, that Lean doesn’t tell us exactly when Lohachara vanished. Was it last week? A few months ago? Maybe we’ll find out later.

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

It’s the domino theory of island obliteration! As environmentalists always warned, once Lohachara falls, that’s it for Egypt.

The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.

Got that right, Geoffrey. I can’t remember Lohachara ever disappearing previously.

Until now the Carteret Islands off Papua New Guinea were expected to be the first populated ones to disappear, in about eight years’ time, but Lohachara has beaten them to the dubious distinction.

By quite a margin, as it happens. Lean doesn’t say so, but Lohachara apparently vanished two decades ago. So much for Lean’s scoop; the event took place back when Lean had hair, and several years before he emerged from a coma. Some locals aren’t buying that global warming line, by the way:

Atanu Raha, director of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, said the islands were getting eroded by oceanic currents, not by rising sea levels. “Erosion and accretion are natural phenomena. Across the world islands submerge and new ones emerge. This is natural,” Raha said.

Not according to Lean, who evidently believes all weather change is due to Meddling Humans. And that’s all change, whether towards cold or heat. In 2004, Lean reported that “Britain is likely to be plunged into an ice age within our lifetime by global warming”. Two years later, he asked: “So where has all the snow gone?” There’s no pleasing Geoffrey.

UPDATE. This nonsense was republished in the NZ Herald.

UPDATE II. Lean has previously been convicted of sins of omission and other crimes against journalism.


The sale of milk and meat from cloned animals moved a step closer yesterday after the US Government ruled that the products were safe to eat and could be sold in supermarkets without labelling. The landmark draft decision, taken by the US Food and Drugs Administration, was condemned by consumer groups and food safety experts, who gave warning of the implications for food consumption throughout the world. FDA officials said that they saw little problem with the controversial technology, which could result in cloned food being sold in the US within months without any labels identifying its origins. They added that cloned food products, if approved, could also be exported.

Authorities in Britain have yet to address the issue of the sale of food from cloned animals, including those approved by the US - cattle, pigs and goats. However, precedents set by the FDA are often followed by UK and European authorities. The Food Standards Agency said last night that it had not received an applications for the marketing of food products from cloned animals in the United Kingdom. The move would have to be approved by the European Union before such products could be introduced, even if they were only being imported from the US. The UK's Advisory Committee for Novel Foods would also be consulted.

The FDA, which overseas food safety for the US Government, determined after a five-year review that food from cloned livestock was as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. The decision was all the more controversial because the agency declared that special labels were not needed to alert shoppers to its origin.

Decrying the ruling, consumer groups gave warning that cloned food would enter the food chain untested on humans, and from a field of science in which cloned animals are often born sick or with severe abnormalities. "Consumers are going to be having a product that has potential safety issues and a whole load of ethical issues tied to it, without any labelling," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Washington-based Centre for Food Safety.

Some US consumer groups maintain that surrogate mothers, in which the cloned animals are grown, are treated with high levels of hormones. They claim that clones are often born with severely compromised immune systems and receive massive doses of antibiotics, opening the way for large quantities of pharmaceuticals to enter the food supply. The US National Academy of Sciences also warned recently that the commercialisation of cloned livestock for food production could increase the incidence of food-borne illness, such as E-coli infections.

Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat senator from Maryland, wrote in an open letter to the FDA: "Just because a scientist can manufacture food in the laboratory, should Americans be required to eat it?" Experts say it would probably take years for sales of cloned food to begin in earnest, because the technology's high cost makes it prohibitive for most farmers. It costs about $15,000 to clone one dairy cow. But already several hundred cattle among America's nine million have been cloned.

The FDA pointed out that many consumers confuse cloning with genetic modification. To produce a clone, the nucleus of a donor egg is removed and replaced with the DNA of a cow or other animal. A tiny electric shock coaxes the egg to grow into a copy of the original animal. Supporters of the technology say that it will be used primarily for breeding good milk and meat producers, and that produce will most likely be drawn from offspring, rather than the cloned animal. The FDA said yesterday that meat and milk from clones was as safe to consume as products derived from naturally raised animals. Within six to eighteen months, cloned animals were "virtually indistinguishable" from conventionally-bred livestock, it said. "Meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, the director of the FDA Centre for Veterinary Medicine.

Final approval for lifting the current ban on cloned food could come early next year. The agency will accept comments from the public for the next three months before announcing a final decision.

The Consumer Federation of America said that it would run a publicity campaign to ask food companies and supermarkets to refuse to sell cloned food. Polls show already that most Americans do not favour eating such a product, and many food companies are skittish about selling cloned food. Opponents also maintain that cloning results in high failure rates and distress for the cloned animals. The Centre for Food Safety points to the example of Greg Wiles, whose Maryland farm was the first to have cloned cows. He says he told the FDA that one of his cloned cows was having terrible health problems, but was ignored.

More here


Climate-change panic is not new, nor is unusual weather

During the long, hot summer of 1976, when Britain faced its worst drought in 250 years, the Government considered a number of unusual solutions. An emergency Drought Act was passed on August 6 and, by August 20, the Government had gathered information on the sinking of bore holes, the use of oil tankers to bring water from Norway, and the seeding of rain clouds - a method of forcing clouds to rain by spraying chemicals into the air. But cloud-seeding was ruled out and ministers were told that building a barrage at Morecambe Bay would be a cheaper way access water than importing it from Norway.

A letter of August 23 from the Home Office to the Prime Minister reported on the challenge facing the fire service: "Everything is tinder dry and the particular difficulty this weekend has been caused by higher wind speeds. The fires in Hampshire and Dorset are under control at present but the situation could change dramatically if the wind increases."

Days later, over the Bank Holiday weekend, the heavens opened and the drought came to an end. But the Government had been shaken and said the population needed to have its complacency about water availability "shattered".


Greenhouse gases 'not to blame' for Australia's partial drought

The drought gripping southeast Australia is due to natural variations in climate rather than the greenhouse effect. The finding, based on CSIRO research, undermines claims by South Australian Premier Mike Rann at a water summit in Canberra last month that Australia was in the grip of a one-in-1000-year drought. "It is very, very highly likely that what we are seeing at the moment is natural climatic variability," researcher Barrie Hunt told The Australian, saying the CSIRO's model of 10,000 years of natural climate variability put the current drought into perspective. "When people talk about it as a 1000-year drought, they haven't got the information. They don't understand that according to natural variability we could get another one in 50 years or it might be another 800 years, and there's no way of predicting it."

The CSIRO's global climate model incorporates measurements of air pressure, temperature and wind at different levels of the atmosphere, sea surface temperatures and rainfall. Mr Hunt's research focused on three 500 sq km sites in Australia: one on the Queensland-NSW border, going down to the coast; southeast Australia, which included Melbourne, Sydney and much of the Murray River basin; and southwest Western Australia, including the Perth region. He looked at the frequency of dry sequences lasting eight years or longer. "In each of those places there are about 30 occasions over 10,000 years where you get one of these eight or more years sequences," he said. "The longest sequence was 14 years in Queensland-NSW, 11 in the southeast and 10 in the southwest."

Mr Hunt said the Queensland-NSW area had had an 800-year period without an eight-year dry, "but there is another period of 462 years where you get five of these". Mr Hunt said the onset, duration and termination of the long dries could not be predicted because they were due to random processes. He said the current drought was an example of a dry sequence that began with an El Nino weather system. "It starts a drought and you get sea-surface temperatures flickering backwards and forwards a bit. The rainfall may go back to fairly near normal but it is still below average, and then you get another El Nino," he said. "This can go on for a decade. Eventually it breaks. You don't know why, it is a random thing. This is just part of the beauty of the climatic system."

Most of Victoria is in a 10-year dry sequence, the Murray River is in its sixth year of drought, while Brisbane and much of NSW are also experiencing a six-year dry.

"It is important that people realise that natural variability says it will break. It may not break next year, because one of these things went on for 14 years, but it will break," Mr Hunt said. Mr Hunt was previously leader of the CSIRO's climate modelling program. He said a problem in assessing droughts -- and giving them titles such as a one-in-1000-years drought -- was that Australia did not have extensive records. Mr Hunt said climate change due to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere built on naturally occurring patterns and would be felt in the coming years. "At the moment I think natural variability dominates. Increasingly, over the next few decades you would expect to see the greenhouse effect start to dominate, particularly with things like temperature," he said.

Mr Hunt said the dry sequence in the southwest was different, with a decline over 30 years, which included the odd year of above-average rainfall. "It isn't violating what I am saying, but it is a very unusual sequence of events there," he said.



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

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

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


Friday, December 29, 2006


Rationality is in short supply in anything Greenies touch and the new "Green" bridge over the river in Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) is no exception. It has a cycle path, a pedestrian path and two road lanes that mostly empty buses trundle over but the road lanes are not open to cars. It is an anti-car bridge! Since there is little additional car-parking close to the bridge, it seems unlikely to be much used -- despite its cost to the taxpayer of $54 million.

The idiocies do not end there, however. It does not encourage pedestrians either. Have a look at the photo above and note the partial awning over the pedestrian path. It is situated on the South of the path but Brisbane is South of the tropic of Capricorn so the sun always comes from the North. So the awning is totally useless as a sunshade. And you can see that it is little use as a rain-shelter either. Someone must not have told the architect that the rain rarely falls straight down!

My previous post about the bridge was on December 17th (scroll down).


Polar bears might be facing extinction and should be on the US endangered species list, the Bush administration said today, in a move that could see a change in US attitudes on global warming. Listing the bears as threatened would force US government agencies to ensure they in no way jeopardised the animal's existence. That in turn could pressure the Government to consider tougher measures to clean up the air because most scientists believe carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming.

"Today the Interior Department's US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act," said interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne. "We are making this proposal because a scientific review of the species by the Fish and Wildlife service found that populations may be threatened by receding sea ice, which polar bears use as a platform for many activities essential to their life cycle, including hunting for their main prey, Arctic seals."

Today's announcement follows a campaign by environmental groups, which sued the Government seeking action to protect the polar bear.

There will now be a period of public comment and scientific review before a final decision in 12 months over whether to list the polar bear as threatened. The only wild polar bears in the US live in Alaska. Andrew Wetzler, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defence Council, one of the groups that sued the Government, said: "Global warming is the single biggest threat to polar bears' survival, and this will require the Government to address the impacts on the polar bear."...

There are 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears alive today. A Canadian group of polar bears, one of the most widely studied, has seen a substantial decline in recent years, but officials said today that the Alaskan polar bears had not suffered a statistically significant decline.

Source. See what the polar bear experts say about polar bear numbers here


Below is an open letter from Neil Craig, of Scotland's 9% growth political party:

The Boss of the National Environment Research Council, Alan Thorpe has called for an open public & online debate to disprove the position of sceptics on warming. That is a very welcome development when one bears in mind that such scientific luminaries as a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland have spoken against allowing debate, becvause the scientific case is "settled". One might even hope that this debate might be hosted by the BBC. By recently hiring David Attenborough to assure us that, such is the current sea rise, that in 20 years much of Norfolk will be underwater yet refusing airtime to scientists who are actually measuring it & could say that this is, quite decidedly not so, the BBC has strayed from impartiality. Hosting an open debate would, if not remove the appearance of propagandising from the allegation (assuming Norfolk doesn't sink by 2026), at least dilute it.

Mr Thorpe's Council however, being committed to "impartial environmental research" (it says so on their website) is clearly in a position to put the catastrophe enthusiast's position robustly. The site does not explain how it receives funding - presumably not from oil companies or organisations committed to a belief in warming either, or how it ensures, when awarding grants, that it maintains an impartial balance in research.

According to the story repeated almost verbatim in a number of papers he believes that the computer models on the enthusiast's side have been consistently proven correct. I would be very interested in reading his explanation of how the Hockey Stick theory which predicted a continuous fast rise since the 1990s has been proven accurate by current figures showing temperature has been lower than that of 1998 for 5 of the succeeding years. He would probably also be able to explain how it was that the Hockey Stick computer programme, the pride of the IPCC's report was, when tested by Stephen McIntyre, able to produce exactly the same warming prediction virtually whatever figures were put into it.

Having myself contributed to this debate in the letters column & online in the "Scotsman" (the online comments, which are not selected by staff, have been overwhelmingly of the sceptical view) I look forward, with some enthusiasm, to see whether Mr Thorpe's "impartial" future contributions, so heavily trailed, prove convincing. Let us see if the media will permit a debate with 2 sides.

In his online version of the above letter, Neil unleashes at the end a bit of good Scottish skepticism in the words "I hae ma douts". People sometimes surprise me by how poorly they understand Scots, so perhaps I should add that the words translate as "I have my doubts"

Global cooling in Queensland

If an unusually hot summer in London proves global warming, surely an unusually cool summer in Brisbane proves global cooling!! Or don't the colonies count?

It still hasn't broken the drought, but more good soaking rain across much of the state yesterday seemed to wash away our concerns - at least for a moment or two. As a southerly air stream brought more record cold December temperatures and unseasonal drizzle, many swapped the traditional post-Christmas day at the beach for a rare stroll in the rain....

There were smiles too on the Darling Downs, where the light drizzle was just enough follow-up to storm rain a fortnight ago. Graingrower Frank Stenzel said the 8mm of light rain that had fallen since Christmas Day at his Greenmount property, 25km south of Toowoomba, was a welcome boost for his 120ha crop of sorghum. But Mr Stenzel said he would need a further 100mm in coming weeks to ensure a reasonable harvest. "The cool weather has allowed the rain to soak in and hopefully well get more by the weekend," he said.

The bureau has forecast cloudy skies and patchy rain for today in a band from the northwest to the southeast of the state, slowly clearing northwards. Tomorrow, rain is expected to ease and clear northwards, with temperatures climbing but still generally below average. The highest rainfall recorded yesterday was 29mm at Baralaba, 200km southwest of Gladstone.

Bureau senior forecaster Geoff Doueal said record low December maximums had been recorded at several places, including Brisbane Airport (19.1C), Toowoomba (13.9C), Ipswich (18.4C) and Oakey (15.5C). Emerald's maximum of 16.7C was the lowest December maximum for a century. The previous lowest December temperature was 18.3 in 1907.

More here

And it is indeed a remarkably cool summer here in Brisbane. There is a distinct nip in the air at night. Usually, at this time of the year, I am accustomed to having a warm shower by turning on the cold water only!


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

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

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


Thursday, December 28, 2006

These lands are your lands

This is the 15th anniversary of the publication of Free Market Environmentalism by Terry L. Anderson and Donald R. Leal, the magnum opus for those who view property rights, local initiative, and economic incentives as friends, not enemies, of the natural world. Max Borders of TCSDaily has said that this is "the book that changed the way many people look at environmental issues." It is "the book that defined a generation of newer environmentalists, a generation that is friendly to markets, to green values, and to the idea that these are not mutually exclusive."

For Anderson and Leal, "At the heart of free market environmentalism is a system of well-specified property rights to natural resources." "Whether these rights are held by individuals, corporations, non-profit environmental groups, or communal groups, a discipline is imposed on resource users because the wealth of the owner of the property right is at stake if bad decisions are made," argued Anderson and Leal, who are part of PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center, in Bozeman, Montana, which is in the vanguard of free market environmentalism. They cite the Nature Conservancy (TNC) as "an excellent example of how free market environmentalism works." TNC is the world's largest land trust with a million members and supporters which has protected 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide. Its primary mission is to protect the highest value expressions of biodiversity.

ANDERSON AND LEAL challenged the reigning paradigm of scientific management of public lands through the instrumentality of the federal government. This was the legacy of Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service (1905-1910) and the Progressive Movement which sought to rely on government experts to regulate and prioritize the multiple uses of land through an administrative or political process. The insights of Anderson and Leal as they relate to the sausage making which is public lands management were revelatory:

There is good evidence that political land management has ignored important recreational and amenity values and that there is potential for providing them through markets in ways that promote harmony between development and ecology.

Incentives matter.That is a bedrock principle of free market environmentalism. There is also the appreciation for the inadequacies of information and the necessity of trade-offs, both of which make "political" management difficult. These realities can trump the best of intentions:

Even if the superintendent of national parks believes that grizzly bear habitat is more valuable than more campsites, his good intentions will not necessarily yield more grizzly bear habitat. In a political setting where camping interests have more influence over a bureaucrat's budget, his peace and quiet, or his future promotion, intentions will have to override incentives if grizzly bear habitat is to prevail. But if a private resource owner believes that grizzly habitat is more valuable and can capitalize that value, then politics will not matter.

If you consider all the infamous battles over public land use, you can appreciate how "scientific management," at least on federal lands, degenerates into the political equivalent of mud wrestling: owls versus logging, salmon versus irrigation and dams, snowmobiling versus cross-country skiing, grazing versus biodiversity.

There are, of course, countervailing arguments, based on equity and ecology, which point to the benefits of public lands. Access is one. Scale, in terms of watersheds, ecosystems, and vistas, is another. But as the TNC example proves, free market, private sector approaches can compensate for or overcome the disadvantages of political management of landscapes.

Free Market Environmentalism also emphasized the tendency of the political sector to externalize costs. The Holy Grail of most economists is to internalize costs, i.e., make those who benefit from the economic activity bear the costs or avoid the spillover effects, e.g., pollution, from their activities. This encourages efficiency and equity by discouraging waste and harm.....

The arguments of free market environmentalists are quintessentially Lockean with their emphasis on well-specified, defendable, transferable property rights. These techniques can work very well for certain consumptive uses such as hunting for fee, or individual fishing quotas for marine fishing allotments. However, for a property rights approach to succeed environmentally in these and other areas such as air and water quality, it is often necessary to adopt some regulatory drivers or mandates to create mechanisms such as cap-and-trade programs which allow for the sale of credits generated by a discharger who can reduce pollution more efficiently than others.

To put it another way, while libertarians view free market environmentalism as an end in itself, many others will view it as a means of achieving community or ethical norms of environmental stewardship. Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute describes the latter position as "free-market socialism," but a Burkean conservative might be more forgiving.

But these are abstract questions which need not worry us. There is ample room to inject more freedom, incentives, and efficiency into our existing regulatory programs while pursing this new paradigm in numerous areas of resources management and protection, up to and including biodiversity or ecosystem protection.

More here

The case of the DDT deniers

Poor little Kenya. That's the message the media have been sending as the United Nations and European nations hold out this African country as the poster child of America's environmental sins. In the weeks leading up today's presentation of oral arguments in Massachusetts v. EPA - the Supreme Court case in which northeastern states are suing the Bush administration to regulate carbon dioxide as a "pollutant" under the Clean Air Act - global-warming alarmists and the media have been pointing to malaria epidemics in the cooler regions of Kenya as proof of the harmful effects of human-induced "climate change."

At the United Nations global-warming summit earlier this month in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi, the Associated Press breathlessly filed a dispatch citing Kenya as the prime example of how "a warmer world already seems to be producing a sicker world." The article proclaimed that because global warming was "disrupting normal climate zones" in Kenya, "malaria epidemics have occurred in highland areas where cooler weather historically has kept down populations of the disease-bearing mosquitoes."

The AP article followed the predictable pattern of blaming America for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, describing how the mostly Europeans signatories were discussing "how to draw the United States into a plan for mandatory emission caps." Many friend-of-the-court briefs point to recent cases of malaria appearing in the world's cooler regions to try to persuade the Supreme Court that carbon dioxide is already affecting public health and thus should be regulated. With examples such as Kenya, they are likely trying to persuade swing justices, such as Anthony Kennedy, who increasingly weigh international considerations in their judgments about laws.

Al Gore's book and DVD, An Inconvenient Truth, also showcases Kenya. Recent malaria outbreaks in the city of Nairobi, Gore proclaims, show that "now, with global warming, the mosquitoes are climbing to higher altitudes." At the Nairobi summit, U.N. head Kofi Annan also turned up the heat by proclaiming that climate change "is a threat to health, since a warmer world is one in which infectious diseases such as malaria . will spread further and faster." Annan then pointed his finger at what he called "the few diehard skeptics" that "try to sow doubt," concluding that "they should be seen for what they are: out of step, out of arguments, and out of time."

But when it comes to global warming and malaria, many of the "diehard skeptics" who are "out of step" with Annan and the media are prominent scientists who have produced studies published by the U.N.'s own World Health Organization. Research papers from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show not only that global warming is not to blame for malaria in Nairobi and the highlands, but that flawed environmental policies are the real culprit. We indeed should cry for Kenya, but our tears need to be directed at the right target. In Kenya and elsewhere, it is modern environmentalism that is "producing a sicker world." And it is now primarily the U.N. and Europe that are blocking Kenya from using the best tool to fight her malarial epidemics. That tool is the "environmentally incorrect" insecticide DDT.

If the AP and other news services had bothered to talk to critics of global-warming alarmism or had even done a simple Google search with words such as "Kenya," "malaria," and "history," they would have discovered a remarkable fact: Epidemics of malaria in Nairobi and in the highlands are nothing new under Kenya's sun. They have occurred many times before in this century. In those regions of Kenya, as elsewhere, malaria was greatly reduced by the use of DDT to combat the mosquitoes spreading the disease. And there as elsewhere, malaria came back with a vengeance after DDT use was halted due in large part to the scare-mongering of Rachel Carson and other enviros.

If Annan, Gore or the AP had bothered to look at a comprehensive 1999 WHO report published in conjunction with the U.N. and World Bank's Roll Back Malaria partnership, they would have come across this startling conclusion about malaria in the Kenyan highlands: "malaria among highland populations is better described as a re-emerging [underlining in original] problem rather than a new, unprecedented phenomena." This paper, written by scientists at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, documents that malaria "[e]pidemics in highland Kenya, varying in magnitude, location, and effect, were to recur throughout the 1940s." As for Nairobi, that city experienced malaria outbreaks in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, according to the WHO report, which is entitled "The epidemiology, politics, and control of malaria epidemics in Kenya: 1900-1998."

What brought an end to malaria in these regions for decades until it recently resurfaced? In substantial part, the spraying of DDT. "Following concerted attempts to interrupt transmission during the 1950s and 1960, . malaria risks declined significantly," says the WHO study. And DDT was a large component of these "concerted attempts." According to the WHO paper, authorities in Kenya began spraying DDT in the 1940s, with an immediate 98 percent reduction in some regions. The report credited this spraying in substantial part for malaria not reoccurring in Nairobi after a flood in 1961.

The WHO report also casts a skeptical eye on climate playing any significant role in Kenya malaria resurgence. Measuring temperature and rainfall in Kenya's Kericho district in the highlands, the study states that "there is no obvious effect of `warming' in this area since 1967." The U.S. CDC reported similar findings in 2005. The CDC study concluded: "Doubts exist as to the plausibility of climate change as proximate cause of epidemic malaria because global warming cannot explain the World War II epidemics. Dramatic increases in malaria in the 1990s are not mirrored by prospectively collected climate data." And malaria researchers have also noted that the disease was endemic in many of other regions of the world, including the American South, until DDT eradicated malaria in those places after World War II.

But the malaria increases do seem to be mirrored in the reduction of DDT use. After the unfounded hysterics of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson and other eco-activists, DDT began to be used in Kenya less and less. Supply was restricted by U.S. and other nations' bans, and in 1990 Kenya itself outlawed the insecticide's use. Now there is extensive debate in Kenya, as elsewhere, about bringing back DDT. Two of the things that may be holding Kenya back from doing this, according to the online magazine Science in Africa, are the United Nations and the European Union. Although the WHO has commendably now called for DDT's use in anti-malaria efforts, the U.N. Treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants phases out DDT. It does have an exception for health reasons, but imposes expensive paperwork requirements on countries that use the substance. The European Union is also shedding crocodile tears for Kenya. "Europe is tightening its restrictions on insecticide residues on East African products," according to the magazine, and this is discouraging DDT's use, even though it would not be used in agriculture.

Imposing strict Kyoto-like reductions on carbon dioxide may worsen Kenya's public-health systems, as well as those of other countries including our own, by making electricity use more expensive in setting such as hospitals. My colleague Marlo Lewis delves into more of these details in his report, "A Skeptic's Guide to An Incovenient Truth." Critics of global-warming alarmism are often slammed as "deniers." But to save Kenya and other poor nations from the ravages of malaria, we need to stand up to the activists and bureaucracies who should be called the DDT deniers.


Australian government points out the high cost of "green" power

THE switch to "clean green" energy sources will cost households up to 40 per cent more on their power bill, Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has said. Mr Macfarlane said it was inevitable there would be "big jumps" in power bills, but said most people were unaware of the looming increases. "I don't think the consumers fully understand the price tag associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions," he told The Courier-Mail in an exclusive interview. "There is no doubt that if we are going to lower greenhouse gas emissions then electricity is going to cost significantly more - for consumers it will be anywhere between 20 and 40 per cent."

Mr Macfarlane said the price rise would occur during the next decade as the nation moved to cleaner, but more expensive energy sources such as clean coal technology. His estimate of a jump of up to 40 per cent in power bills is at the high end of industry expectations. But with the average annual household electricity bill in southeast Queensland about $1300 to $1400, a 40 per cent price rise would add more than $500 - or $125 a quarter - to the average power bill.

Last month, nuclear advocate Ziggy Switkowski said the increase in power bills would probably "not be noticeable" for consumers. But Mr Macfarlane said the cost of electricity production from coal-fired powered stations would almost double from $35 a megawatt-hour to more than $60 as gas emissions were cut. Coal is the main source of electricity and delivers 90 per cent of Queensland's power.

Labor's climate change spokesman, Peter Garrett, yesterday accused the Government of failing to take action on global warming and said it was impossible to make predictions about future energy prices. "In the absence of any targets, timelines and any certainty in greenhouse gas reductions the Government effectively leaves the issue of prices up in the air," Mr Garrett said. Prime Minister John Howard has refused to ratify the Kyoto agreement that sets targets for cutting emissions but earlier this month set-up a taskforce to examine a global emissions trading system.

Mr Macfarlane angrily rejected the accusation the Government has failed to act and said more than three years ago it began pursuing technology-based solutions. He believes it is time for a detailed debate about the impact of cutting emissions and is highly critical of those who promote wind and solar power as a potential solution to future energy needs. He said solar power was four to five times more expensive than electricity from coal and that wind power was twice as expensive - even though it was heavily subsidised. "While the energy source is free, converting that to electricity is expensive," he said of wind and solar power. The Government believes nuclear energy can be a future source of clean energy, but Labor has ruled it out as too dangerous.

All nations, including Australia, are under pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as a blanket of carbon dioxide around the earth and is blamed for heating up the atmosphere. Labor's industry spokesman Kim Carr says the longer the nation waits to change energy sources the more it will cost.



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

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

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


Wednesday, December 27, 2006


A recipe for blackouts

Nature seems to like her little ironies, like the cold weather that pursues Big Al round the world as he promotes his global warming scare. So she provided a stationary high, of the sort mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this page, at the very moment that the new gigantic monstrosity on the Thames Estuary was announced. If all those white elephants were in position now they would be providing no power at all, just when the country is immersed in freezing fog and needing it. This letter in the Telegraph almost says it all:

Sir - Once again the public are being misled by the wind industry. These windfarms, which are going to cover over 100 square miles of the approaches to the Thames Estuary, will never power one third of London homes.

If as suggested the installed capacity of the 400-plus turbines is 1.3 Gw (1300Mw) then even with a generous load factor of 30 per cent the average output will only be 390Mw. This would in fact be enough to provide 5Kw to 78,000 homes, about enough to power an electric kettle and a toaster. If, as there frequently is, a high pressure system is sitting over south-east England , then there will be zero output from these windfarms. The claims about carbon dioxide savings are equally dishonest. Using widely accepted data the annual, theoretical savings of CO2 for these turbines would be approximately 1.46 Mt and would reduce global levels by a farcical 0.005 per cent

What your readers really need to know is that these windfarms will receive approximately œ160 million per year in subsidies, paid for by them. This windfarm scandal has gone on long enough and needs to be exposed for what is. We are destroying our landscapes and now our seascapes for nothing more than green tokenism, and are being expected to pay for it as well.

Bob Graham, Chairman, Highlands Against Windfarms, Orton, Moray

Unfortunately it rather understates the case. Time averages are of no significance in this application. The point is that for about 80% of the time these machines would produce no power at all. Fossil fuel generators would have to provide the missing power and then be switched to warm standby while the wind is blowing. Even if CO2 were a significant factor in global warming, the fraction saved would be derisory.

It was a particularly irksome time to read this nonsense, as the announcement of the latest hike in electricity bills came through the letter box on the same day. Ordinary punters have no idea how much they are paying for these religious observances and they cannot see the connection with the front page headline on the same day.

Pity the poor grid controller when the wind drops suddenly: by the time his call for extra fossil power has been answered, the cascade of failures across the network will already have begun to propagate.

From Numberwatch - Post of Dec 22


By Jeff Jacoby

Remember The Twilight Zone? Back in 1961, Rod Serling wrote an episode that was set in New York City amid rampant global warming. Somehow the Earth's orbit had shifted, and the planet was moving inexorably toward the sun. "This is the eve of the end," Serling intoned in his introduction. "Because even at midnight it's high noon, the hottest day in history, and you're about to spend it -- in the Twilight Zone."

The story revolves around a few desperate New Yorkers struggling to survive the murderous heat. As the temperature climbs, social order crumbles. An intruder, crazed with thirst, breaks into an apartment to steal water. An elderly woman collapses and dies. Thermometers shatter, their mercury boiling over. Finally Norma, the main character, screams and passes out. Then comes the "Twilight Zone" twist: Norma wakes up to find that it's snowing outside. She'd been having a nightmare. The Earth isn't hurtling toward the sun, after all; it's spinning *away* from the sun. The world isn't going to end in searing heat, but in a dark and deathly deep-freeze. Fade to credits. Well, that's climate change for you. Maybe Mother Earth is warming up, or maybe she's cooling down, but either way it's always bad news.

Here, for example, is former vice president Al Gore in 2006, on the threat posed by global warming: "Our ability to live is what is at stake." It doesn't get much more dire than that. Yet here is climatologist Reid Bryson, in Fortune magazine's award-winning analysis of global *cooling* in 1974: "There is very important climatic change going on right now, and it's not merely something of academic interest. . . . It is something that, if it continues, will affect the whole human occupation of the earth -- like a billion people starving." It doesn't get much more dire than that, either.

Bryson's article is quoted in "Fire and Ice," a richly documented report by the Business & Media Institute, an arm of the Media Research Center. Climate-change alarmism, the report shows, is at least a century old. A few examples: "Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again," asserted a New York Times headline in February 1895. Worrisome if true, but just seven years later, the Los Angeles Times reported that the great glaciers were undergoing "their final annihilation" due to rising temperatures worldwide. By 1923, though, it was the ice that was doing the annihilating: "Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada," the Chicago Tribune declared on Page 1.

So it was curtains for the Canadians? Er, not quite. In 1953, The New York Times reported that "nearly all the great ice sheets are in retreat." Yet no sooner did our neighbors to the north breathe a sigh of relief than it turned out they weren't off the hook after all: "The rapid advance of some glaciers," wrote Lowell Ponte in The Cooling, his 1976 bestseller, "has threatened human settlements in Alaska, Iceland, Canada, China, and the Soviet Union." And now? "Arctic Ice Is Melting at Record Level, Scientists Say," the Times reported in 2002.

Over the years, the alarmists have veered from an obsession with lethal global cooling around the turn of the 20th century to lethal global warming a generation later, back to cooling in the 1970s and now to warming once again. You don't have to be a scientist to realize that all these competing narratives of doom can't be true. Or to wonder whether any of them are.

Perhaps that is why most Americans discount the climate-change fear-mongering that is so fashionable among journalists and politicians. Last spring, as Time magazine was hyperventilating about global warming ("The debate is over. Global warming is upon us -- with a vengeance. From floods to fires, droughts to storms, the climate is crashing"), a Gallup poll was finding that only 36 percent of the public say they worry "a great deal" about it.

Still, there is always a market for apocalyptic forebodings. Paul Ehrlich grew rich writing jeremiads with such titles as The Population Explosion and The Population Bomb, which predicted the imminent deaths of hundreds of millions of human beings from starvation and epidemic disease. The Limits to Growth, the Club of Rome's 1972 bestseller, warned that humankind was going to experience "a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline" as the world's resources -- everything from gold to petroleum -- ran dry. Jonathan Schell and Carl Sagan forecast a devastating "nuclear winter" unless atomic arsenals were frozen, or better still, abolished. Those doomsday prophesies never came to pass. Neither have the climate-change catastrophes that have been bruited about for a century.


What Greenie dam-hatred has achieved in Australia

Water restrictions have cut consumption by Australian households to 1950s levels, but a chronic failure by state governments to invest in infrastructure will force further crackdowns on use in 2007 unless the nation receives significant rain.

Research by national water utilities has found water consumption per head has been driven down to 1950s levels by the tough restrictions. Up to 20 per cent of the cuts in household consumption were reported since 2001, when severe restrictions were implemented as rainfall in the catchment areas began to drop. This is despite a doubling in the average size of houses, with more bathrooms and increased numbers of swimming pools.

According to Water Services Australia, in 1955-56 Sydneysiders used 343 litresper person per day, while Melburnians used 330L. In 2005-06, people in Sydney used slightly less -- 339L per person per day -- while Melbourne residents used 331L. Usage peaked at about 500L in the 1980s. But in the same period, the populations of the cities on the eastern seaboard have more than doubled while investment in water infrastructure has failed to keep pace.

After a post-war boom in developing new dams and water storage, investment in new dams has fallen sharply in the past decade, with little investment in alternative technologies such as recycling and desalination -- with the exception of Perth. The water spokesman for the Australian Council for Infrastructure Development, Graham Dooley, said Australia had enough water but was unable to manage it because of chronic infrastructure failures. "We have a supply crisis and we have an infrastructure crisis. We don't actually have a water crisis," he said. "It's in the wrong place and the wrong quality. It's either seawater or stormwater or sewage, not drinking water." The problem, he said, was under-investment in infrastructure. "You can solve all of these problems by being cleverer."

State governments have continued to take the profits from their water utilities rather than reinvesting in new infrastructure, taking $659 million in 2004/05 from urban water authorities. A report by Marsden Jacob Associates found the capital city water businesses had not increased capital expenditure significantly "and certainly not increased it to the levels required to have avoided the current shortfall in supply". Instead, the water authorities have relied on increasingly severe restrictions to manage supply, as dams fall to unprecedented lows. Only Hobart and Darwin are exempt from the national crisis. Sydney's Warragamba dam is at an unprecedented low of 36.7per cent. Only huge transfers of water from the Shoalhaven system this year have kept the Warragamba above the desalination trigger point of 30 per cent.

Southeast Queensland's Wivenhoe dam is in a worse position, and is now 23 per cent of capacity. "We've never seen it this low in all the time we've been coming here," Ipswich resident Steven Ryder said during a visit with his wife Carla. Melbourne's Thompson dam is at 40 per cent. The city will get more severe restrictions on January 1, but what worries water managers is the possibility of bushfire in the dam's catchment. Mr Dooley said Adelaide had even more severe problems because of its heavy reliance on dwindling inflows to the Murray River for water supplies. "Adelaide is basically stuffed," he said. "Adelaide has no option but to recycle or desalinate." Mr Dooley said Perth was the only city to have a thorough water strategy, although its dams received only a third of the inflows they got before 1974. "They have done everything possible, and even so they haven't got enough, and that is because it is the best example in the world of climate change," he said.

Water Services Association chief Ross Young said bringing back consumption to 1950 levels "is an outstanding achievement if you compare it to electricity, gas or ... petrol, which have all risen substantially over that period".



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

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

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


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Love global warming

When talk turns to global warming, there are only three socially acceptable opinions that may be expressed. It's going to be bad, terrible or catastrophic. As our leading alarmist, former Vice President Al Gore, makes clear in his book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth, "the negative impact of climate change vastly outweighs any local benefits."

Researchers have warned us that a temperature rise of a few degrees will bring about plagues of jellyfish on our shores, more poison ivy in our gardens, maple syrup shortages, drowning polar bears, invasions by hordes of smaller and smaller ants, and a proliferation of new types of crime (at least in Australia). Dry areas will become deserts, wet places malarial swamps. Sea levels will rise faster and, worst of all, the effects will fall hardest on women, minorities, children and the poorest people in the poorest countries.

Yes, rising sea levels, if they happen, would be bad for a lot of people. But a warming trend would be good for other people. At the risk of committing heresy, I'd like to suggest that the debate about climate change include, for once, a fair assessment of the benefits alongside the declamations of harm.

For example, cold winter storms kill a lot of people. More people die from blizzards and cold spells than from heat waves. Increased death rates usually persist for weeks after the unusually cold temperatures have passed, which suggests that the cold is killing people who would otherwise live into another season at least. Mortality rates during heat waves are just the reverse. The increase ends and often the rate drops below normal as soon as temperatures cool, which suggests that the higher temperatures are killing people who are likely to die soon anyway. It is true that mortality rates from both cold and hot weather have been declining in rich countries for a long time. That's because wealthier societies can adapt and protect themselves better from temperature extremes. But it also appears that deaths from hot weather have been declining more rapidly than those from cold.

So modest climatic improvement would be to have fewer and less severe big winter storms. Amazingly, that's exactly what we should get if global warming theory turns out to be true. The models say that much of the warming will occur in the upper latitudes and in the winter. At the risk of further ridicule in kooky blogs in England, where global warming alarmism is now a religion, that sounds pretty good to me. Fewer people will die from the cold.

And once you think about it, there are likely to be other beneficial consequences as well. Life in many places would become more pleasant. Instead of 20 below zero in January in Saskatoon, it might be only 10 below. And I don't think too many people would complain if winters in Minneapolis became more like winters in Kansas City.

In fact, there is no question that most people prefer less severe winters. North Dakota and Maine haven't been gaining much in population. Every census since 1960 shows rapid population growth in Florida, California, Arizona, Texas and Nevada. For the elderly and infirm, warmer weather is definitely healthier as well as more pleasant.

This promising scenario of milder winters in northern regions, which would become reality in the unlikely event that global warming turns out to be as considerable as predicted, comes with a catch, however. Air-conditioning is now considered a necessity, not only in Houston and Washington, D.C., but even in some northern climes where no matter how hot it gets during the day, it still cools down at night. Air-conditioning takes a lot of energy. But to stop global warming, we're supposed to use much less energy. Given our obvious preference for living in warmer climates as long as we have air-conditioning, I doubt that we're going to go on the energy diet that the global warming doomsters urge us to undertake.



Without mosquitoes, epidemics of dengue fever and malaria could not plague this planet. The skin-piercing insects infect one person after another while dining on a favorite meal: human blood. Eliminating the pests appears impossible. But scientists are attempting to re-engineer them so they cannot carry disease. If they manage that, they must create enough mutants to mate with wild insects and one day to outnumber them.

Researchers chasing this dream, including an N.C. State University entomologist, know they may court controversy. Genetically modified crop plants such as soybeans and corn have become common in the United States, but an altered organism on wings would be a first.

Critics of bio-engineering, especially in Europe, view some genetic alterations as unnatural, even monstrous. People fearful of so-called Frankenfood could sound similar alarms over Frankenbugs.

But with advances in molecular biology and millions of dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this quest may be within reach. And its promise is huge, the scientists say.

"We're looking at a timeline. But this is coming," said Fred Gould, the NCSU insect expert.

Gould is working on the project with scientists on four continents. They landed $19.7 million under a Grand Challenges in Global Health grant offered by the Gates philanthropy and a National Institutes of Health foundation. The funders selected researchers ready to collaborate rather than compete on risky research aimed at solving massive health threats in poor places.



In one of his final initiatives as governor, Jeb Bush on Monday announced the creation of the Interamerican Ethanol Commission to promote the use of the alternative fuel throughout the Americas and slowly wean the region off gasoline. Bush said his support for ethanol was shaped by watching the suffering of Floridians through eight hurricanes in the past two years, and the resulting damage caused by a temporary loss of fuel supply. "Wouldn't it be nice to have alternative sources of fuel as we prepare for hurricanes?" he said.

Also launching the commission was Luis Alberto Moreno, head of the Interamerican Development Bank, and former Brazilian agriculture minister Roberto Rodrigues, who now heads the country's agribusiness council. "For the last 35 years, I have been thinking how stupid has been humankind to build a whole civilization over oil, which is something that is going to finish one day," an emotional Rodrigues told a crowd of more than 100 mostly business leaders at the Biltmore Hotel.

Rodrigues said in the coming months the group will begin presenting "road shows" on ethanol throughout Latin America. Bush leaves office in January. He said increased ethanol consumption will reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, help improve the environment and provide a catalyst for poor nations to "grow their own energy."

But some experts have questioned whether a sufficient amount of ethanol could be produced to make a significant dent in oil consumption. Brazil meets nearly half its fuel demand for passenger motor vehicles with ethanol, almost all of it made from sugar cane. It is also Florida's top trading partner, with $10.9 billion in trade last year.

Bush acknowledged that broadening an international ethanol push in other parts of the United States is a tough sell, especially in the Midwest, which receives billions of dollars in federal subsidies for corn production, a major source of ethanol.

Earlier this year his brother, President Bush, opposed an extension of the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, but Congress passed the measure Dec. 8. "You can see how agriculture producers in our country worry about ideas that take away some of their protection," he said, joking that the unpopularity of his stance in the Midwest was "living proof that I'm not running [for president]."

But he added that expanding the worldwide consumption of ethanol will create plenty of opportunities for U.S. producers. "There's no possible way that Brazil by itself or the United States by itself could expand capacity that quick. So a level of cooperation, I don't think, is threatening for American agriculture," he said. "In fact I think it will yield lowering of cost and expansion of markets."



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

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

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


Monday, December 25, 2006


The excerpt below is from a review by an atheist of "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. The closing quote is from Karl Marx

The most curious feature of Dawkins' crusade against religion is that it is mounted at a time when the social influence of religion is at a low ebb. In the USA, Dawkins follows liberals in grossly exaggerating the influence of the religious right as a way of avoiding any reflection on the lack of popular appeal of their own agenda. In the UK, Dawkins concentrates his fire on one school in Gateshead where creationism has crept on to the curriculum (allowing him to sneer at Peter Vardy, the vulgar `car salesman' millionaire who has bankrolled the school). Yet, while he happily tilts at windmills, Dawkins ignores much more influential currents of irrationality - such as the cult of environmentalism - which has a far greater influence on the national curriculum than notions of `intelligent design'.

While Dawkins can readily identify common features between South Pacific cargo cults and the Christian churches, he seems oblivious to the religious themes of the environmental movement. Just like evangelical Christians, environmentalists preach a `repent, the end is nigh' message. The movement has its own John the Baptist - George Monbiot - who has come out of the desert (well, Oxfordshire) to warn us of the imminent danger of hellfire (in the form of global warming) if we do not repent and embrace his doctrines of austerity and restraint. Beware - the rough beast of the apocalypse is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born!

Far from challenging the pervasive influence of this bleak outlook, Dawkins goes so far as to endorse the abjectly anti-humanist theories of Peter Singer, one of the movement's most fundamentalist apostles. Though this movement's promotion of the anti-scientific `precautionary principle' constitutes a greater threat to scientific experimentation than the pathetic attempt of a few evangelicals to return the teaching of biology to the Old Testament, it is entirely ignored by Oxford's professor `for the public understanding of science'. While university theology departments are in decline, courses in various schools of `alternative health' (which share only a foundation in pre-scientific thought) have grown apace in recent years - but Dawkins is too busy berating the bishops to notice.

In the turbulent years before the First World War, Jewish anarchists in London's East End provoked riots by picketing the synagogue in Brick Lane on holy days, baiting the faithful while they fasted, by publicly eating ham sandwiches. In a similarly self-indulgent fashion, Dawkins seems to revel in causing offence to the devout. But this sort of posturing against religion does nothing to challenge the roots of religious faith. The Brick Lane synagogue was built as a Christian church and is now a mosque: while much else has changed around it, it is clear that the need for religious worship endures. `Religion is only the illusory sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.'


The toxicity of environmentalism

Recently a popular imported mineral water was removed from the market because tests showed that samples of it contained 35 parts per billion of benzene. Although this was an amount so small that only 15 years ago it would have been impossible even to detect, it was assumed that considerations of public health required withdrawal of the product. Such a case, of course, is not unusual nowadays. The presence of parts per billion of a toxic substance is routinely assumed to be a cause of human deaths. And whenever the number of projected deaths exceeds one in a million, environmentalists demand that the government remove the offending pesticide, preservative, or other alleged bearer of toxic pollution from the market. They do so, even though a level of risk of one in a million is one-third as great as that of an airplane falling from the sky on one's home.

While it is not necessary to question the good intentions and sincerity of the overwhelming majority of the members of the environmental or ecology movement, it is vital that the public realize that in this seemingly lofty and noble movement itself can be found more than a little evidence of the most profound toxicity. Consider, for example, the following quotation from David M. Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service, in his prominently featured Los Angeles Times book review of Bill McKibben's The End of Nature:

This [man's "remaking the earth by degrees"] makes what is happening no less tragic for those of us who value wildness for its own sake, not for what value it confers upon mankind. I, for one, cannot wish upon either my children or the rest of Earth's biota a tame planet, be it monstrous or-however unlikely-benign. McKibben is a biocentrist, and so am I. We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free-flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value-to me-than another human body, or a billion of them.

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn't true. Somewhere along the line-at about a billion years ago, maybe half that-we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.

It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil-energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.

While Mr. Graber openly wishes for the death of a billion people, Mr. McKibben, the author he reviewed, quotes with approval John Muir's benediction to alligators, describing it as a "good epigram" for his own, "humble approach": "'Honorable representatives of the great saurians of older creation, may you long enjoy your lilies and rushes, and be blessed now and then with a mouth-fill of terror-stricken man by way of a dainty." Such statements represent pure, unadulterated poison. They express ideas and wishes which, if acted upon, would mean terror and death for enormous numbers of human beings.

These statements, and others like them, are made by prominent members of the environmental movement. The significance of such statements cannot be diminished by ascribing them only to a small fringe of the environmental movement. Indeed, even if such views were indicative of the thinking only of five or ten percent of the members of the environmental movement-the "deep ecology," Earth First! wing-they would represent toxicity in the environmental movement as a whole not at the level of parts per billion or even parts per million, but at the level of parts per hundred which, of course, is an enormously higher level of toxicity than is deemed to constitute a danger to human life in virtually every other case in which deadly poison is present.

More here

Earth's Climate Changes in Tune with Eccentric Orbital Rhythms

Ocean sediment reveals the pattern behind the rise and fall of ice ages and the shape of Earth's orbit

The useless shells of tiny ocean animals--foraminifera--drift silently down through the depths of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, coming to rest more than three miles (five kilometers) below the surface. Slowly, over time, this coating of microscopic shells and other detritus builds up. "In the central Pacific, the sedimentation rate adds between one and two centimeters every 1,000 years," explains Heiko Palike, a geologist at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, England. "If you go down in the sediment one inch, you go back in time 2,500 years."

Palike and his colleagues went considerably further than that, pulling a sediment core from the depths of the Pacific that stretched back 42 million years. Limiting their analysis to the Oligocene--a glacial time period that lasted between roughly 34 million and 23 million years ago--the researchers found that global climate responds to slight changes in the amount of sunlight hitting Earth during shifts in its orbit between elliptical and circular. "Of all the records so far, this is both the longest and, also, the clearest that most of the climatic variations between glacial and interglacial at that time [were] most likely related to orbital cycles," Palike says.

The researchers pulled specific foraminifera samples from the core and then dissolved the shells in acid. They pumped the resultant carbon dioxide gas into a mass spectrometer and determined exactly what elements comprised the shells. This allowed them to distinguish between shells composed of the relatively lightweight isotopes of carbon and oxygen versus those made with a higher proportion of heavier isotopes.

The isotopes, in turn, reveal a picture of the climate eons ago. Oxygen (O) with an atomic weight of 16 evaporates more readily than its heavier counterpart 18O. Thus, when ice caps form, ocean water bears a higher ratio of the heavier isotope. Because the tiny creatures build their shells from materials in seawater, their calcium carbonate homes reflect the ratio of the two isotopes in the seas of that time. "They are a recorder of how much ice is present on the earth at any given time," Palike notes.

The same is true for the various isotopes of carbon, 12C and 13C. Because plants preferentially use the lighter isotope, its scarcity is a record of how much life the oceans supported. By matching these isotope ratios to the astronomical cycle--Earth's orbit oscillates between an elliptical and circular path on a roughly 400,000-year cycle--the researchers found that patterns of glaciation and ice retreat followed the eccentricity of our planet's orbit, they report in the December 22 Science.

But the eccentricity of Earth's orbit does not cause that much of a flux in the amount of sunlight the planet receives; that energy budget is much more strongly impacted by variances in the degree ofEarth's tilt toward or away from the sun, which would lead one to expect glaciation to occur on a shorter cycle. Instead, the long times required to move carbon through the oceans apparently acts as a buffer. "Each carbon atom that you put in the ocean stays there for about 100,000 years," Palike explains. "The climate system accentuates very long periodic variations and dampens shorter term variations."

Earth is currently nearly circular in its orbit and, if this Oligocene pattern were to be followed, would next be headed into another ice age in about 50,000 years. But the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached levels not seen for millions of years prior to the Oligocene. Thus, to get an accurate picture of what the climate might be like in coming years, scientists will have to continue back even farther in history to a period known as the Eocene.

It is already clear, however, that the effects of the carbon released now will affect the oceans for years to come. "Another effect of this residence time of carbon in the ocean is that it takes a long time to flush the system out," Palike says. "It will take a very long time to go back to the level that existed before a large excursion of CO2. It's not going to be doomsday, end of the world, but a rise in sea level would affect a very large percentage of humankind." Not to mention the shells laid down today on the deep ocean floor of the Pacific.



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

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

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


Sunday, December 24, 2006


There is an interesting site here that uses publicly available data to calculate the cost of getting electricity from wind power rather than from King Coal etc. It turns out to be about as intelligent a policy as sacrificing your children to a false God. And the calculations do not even include the fact that every wind station built has to have a coal station built to back it up when the wind is not blowing -- thus roughly doubling the capital cost of delivering a given amount of electricity. It's about as rational as Devil worship.

CO2, SCOTUS and alarmism

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently addressing a question of crucial importance to the U.S. economy: Is carbon dioxide, from fossil-fuel burning for energy production a "pollutant" that requires regulation? The petitioners, led by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, demand regulation-interpreting the Clean Air Act differently than the respondent, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. CO2 is non-toxic and naturally present in the atmosphere-but also a greenhouse (GH) gas and therefore a potential cause of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

The oral arguments and scientific amicus curiae briefs, pro and con, never addressed the basic issue: Is CO2 the principal cause of current warming? The plaintiff's amici included two Nobelists in chemistry-although this tactic may backfire when law clerks discover that the two have little demonstrated competence in disciplines relevant to the issue.

Absence of good science is evident in the arcane legal dispute about "standing." To buttress his claim that anthropogenic global warming would injure Massachusetts, its assistant attorney general, James Milkey, invoked sea-level rise and loss of coastal lands, relying on a previous affidavit but suggesting the court not inquire into its merits. Indeed, his opponent, Deputy Solicitor General Gregory Garre, did not challenge him. Yet Mr. Milkey's argument is seriously flawed.

All available data show that global sea levels have risen 400 feet since the peak of the most recent ice age 18,000 years ago. In recent millennia, the rate has been 18 cm (7 inches) per century-and there is good argument for this rate to continue until the next ice age. Tidal gauges around the world show no acceleration during the 20th century but only a steady rise-in spite of strong global warming before 1940.

How can this be? Evidently, the rise expected from melting glaciers and a warmer, expanding ocean is largely offset by loss of water from increased ocean evaporation and consequently more ice accumulation on the Antarctic continent. Hence, a short-lived warm period (lasting decades or even centuries) would not accelerate the ongoing sea-level rise of 18 cm per century. In other words, no harm to Massachusetts from anthropogenic global warming.

This idea, discussed in my book "Hot Talk, Cold Science," seems to be penetrating to more climate scientists. For example, in 1990, the U.N.-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated a "best-value" rise of 66 cm by the year 2100; in 1996, the U.N. panel reported 49 cm (with a range of 13-94 cm); in 2001, the U.N. panel gave 9-88 cm, while the 2007 report estimates a more reasonable range of 14-43 cm. By contrast, the affidavit Mr. Milkey relies on gives 58-and as much as 130 cm. Incidentally, James Hansen, an amicus for the petitioners, claims up to 600 cm by 2100. Evidently, Mr. Hansen-and Al Gore, who listens to him-are climate contrarians.

It is strange that both briefs ignore the only relevant evidence, published in May 2006 by the federal Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). Instead, the petitioners give undue weight to a hurriedly assembled National Academy report of June 2001. They are 90 percent sure that current warming is anthropogenic but don't explain why. By contrast, the federal climate-change program report shows quite clearly that greenhouse models cannot explain the observed patterns of warming. (See esp. Fig. 5.4G here) This disparity leads to the inescapable conclusion that most of the warming is of non-greenhouse origin and therefore part of a natural climate cycle. In other words, models exaggerate the effects of CO2, and even drastic efforts to control emissions are unlikely to affect global climate.

In fact, there is good reason to consider rising CO2 levels a blessing-a thesis supported by published economic studies. Agronomists agree that, as the essential plant food, more CO2 would enhance growth of crops and forests. Longer growing seasons and fewer frosts would benefit agriculture. Further, ocean warming inevitably increases evaporation and therefore precipitation, raising global supplies of fresh water. In addition, most warming would occur mainly at night in winter at high latitudes. Such warming may delay or even cancel the next ice age, expected to follow the present warm interglacial period.

Thus, the drive to regulate CO2-and effectively control energy-appears to be based on ideology rather than science or any real concern about climate. Quoting Lenin: "The establishment of socialism in capitalist nations requires only targeting their supply of energy."



A comment from New Zealand, once known as "Godzone" (God's own country) -- and it has improved since then!

Here's a bit of Christmas cheer. Planet Earth is not, contrary to Nicholas Stern, Al Gore and acolytes, ending in a boil-up. According to a book about to be published in Europe later this month, the world is richer, healthier and environmentally better off than ever before. According to the latest Spectator - which hails the book's author Indur Goklany as an "acclaimed American economist" who served as the US delegate to the United Nations' intergovernmental panel on climate change - The Improving State of the World will provoke "intense controversy".

In this country it will be dismissed as rubbish, especially by those on the extreme left, for whom global warming is a fantastic opportunity to attack wealth and happiness. Climate change is suddenly everyone's New Best Friend, including - Gawd help us - the National Party. Global warming is the new threat we must "battle", according to the Labour Government. Oh, that must mean all those other battles are over - the war on terror, Asian bird flu, Sars, not to mention racism and oppression against minorities.

But back to Goklany's statistics, for which we can be grateful. The world's poor, he reckons, now enjoy the most dramatic rise in their standard of living. And, telling us something many of us already know, as countries have abandoned communism, state control and/or poverty, they have become more environmentally clean and their people more healthy. Here's some statistics: in poor countries, the daily intake of calories per person has increased by 38 per cent since the 1960s to an average of 2666 calories per day, and those countries' populations have increased by 83 per cent in the same period.

There was a 75 per cent decrease in global food prices (in real terms) in the second half of the 20th century, attributable largely to improved agricultural productivity and free trade. In prosperous countries, the price of essential foodstuffs like flour, bacon and potatoes has dropped by a massive 82 to 92 per cent in the past century, and Goklany notes that similar trends are now evident in developing countries.

In the late 1970s, the number of people subsisting on the equivalent of $1 a day was 16 per cent of the world's population; today it's down to 6 per cent. Now only one fifth of the world lives in absolute poverty. Which, of course, is no comfort to those hundreds of millions in places like North Korea and sub-Saharan Africa, starving to death as I write. And while we should not simply shrug our shoulders and pretend these dreadful situations don't exist, it doesn't mean we should be so depressingly despondent and pessimistic.

This book, from the previews I have seen, should be required reading for every New Zealand politician over their Christmas break, as they compete to be the most environmentally sanctimonious, and scramble for votes in the process. You may choose not to believe it, but in 2006 the demand for oil from rich countries actually declined, despite the fact their economies continued to grow.

Climate change, Goklany argues, "might exacerbate existing problems, such as malaria, coastal flooding and habitat loss" but this doesn't justify the "heavy-handed interventionism" advocated in Sir Nicholas Stern's report which trips so easily from the lips of New Zealand MPs at National Radio's microphones. What they fail to mention is that Stern is head of the British Labour Government's Economic Service and was commissioned by Gordon Brown to write his report on climate change. When the report was released, recommending the setting of carbon emissions targets and a credit purchase system for businesses which exceed them, Brown was reportedly furious.

Goklany argues that it may be cheaper to adapt to higher temperatures than try to stop them. New Zealand has just suffered the ideal winter for politicians who want to make us all poorer so they can save the planet. Slips, floods, icebergs - we've seen it all. But was it fair to blame global warming? The icebergs took seven years to reach the Dunedin coast. Old farming codgers remember worse flooding, even in summer. I, for one, was known in our district as the flood baby. Born in February 1953, central Hawke's Bay roads were washed out by rain so a tractor, using a dog chain, towed my mother's car up and over steep farmland to get her to the maternity hospital in time for my birth.

And speaking of babies, Goklany's book says infant mortality is now down to 57 per 1000, vastly improved since the days before industrialisation when at least 200 out of every 1000 children died within 12 months of birth. But will this make us happy? Absolutely not. It's chic, right now, to be uber-environmentalist. Green is the new black. And black is New Zealand's national colour.

The New Zealand Herald

Australia: Greenie water hysteria

Greenies are great at turning a problem into a panic

From the country that brought you KD Lang and little else comes water warrior Maude Barlow. The celebrated thinker is legendary in her native Canada for transforming water shortages into the apocalypse. She's in Australia this week, claiming that Sydney will be reduced to having only drinking water within three to five years. "I want to say to people in Australia you have a limited amount of time before you're going to have to evacuate your country. I mean that," she said.

Well, just because you mean something Maude, it doesn't necessarily make it so. The Sydney Catchment Authority concedes the water shortage is dire, but encourages Australians not to abandon their homes and make tracks for Port Moresby just yet. Official forecasts predict that current supplies would last 4 1/2 years on current usage - and if existing rainfall patterns continued.

Before Maude starts charging like an Alberta steer, this does not mean Sydney will run out of water in 2010. If it doesn't rain between now and then we may have to put the cottage garden on hold, but it's hardly cause for national evacuation. The Sydney Catchment Authority's latest figures - gathered last Thursday -- have the Sydney, Blue Mountains and Illawarra dam systems at 37.1 per cent capacity. That is an historic low, but the authorities insist alternatives like desalination and recycling are still being viewed as a last resort. The SCA has done some calculations on what it would take to restore the dams to 100 per cent capacity. About 70mm of rain every day for five days across the system's 1600sq m catchment area would do the trick, but it's unlikely. The last time the dams were full to the brim was not between the wars, as you might have presumed from Maude's hysterics. It was in 1998.

Now, Maude is undoubtedly an authority on water, but in the face of these raw statistics she's coming off sounding a little shrill. Maude reckons Sydney is on a par with Beijing and Mexico City to be the first major city in the world to run dry. She covers such predictions in her book Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of The World's Water, a copy of which should be in every Christmas stocking. "Blue gold" once referred to office Cabcharges, but that's a different kind of corporate theft.



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

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

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


Saturday, December 23, 2006


In introducing Chen et al.'s new study, Science magazine (where it was published) says "satellite measurements of gravity variations show that the Greenland Ice Sheet now is disappearing at the rate of about 240 cubic kilometers per year," stating as factual what is really only suggested by the authors' analysis, and that only tenuously. But why take our word for it? Simply consider what the three researchers themselves have to say about the subject.

Forming the basis for the ice sheet mass balance assessment of Chen et al. were data returned from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission, which was launched in March of 2002 and has since been providing measurements of earth's gravity field at roughly monthly intervals. These data, however, which covered the period April 2002 to November 2005 in the Chen et al. study, had to be significantly "massaged" before they were usable.

First came what the scientists call the "GRACE dealiasing process," which was designed to remove atmospheric and oceanic contributions from the gravity signals and that requires an entire User Handbook to describe its particulars. Then came corrections for post-glacial rebound or PGR, which is the rebounding of earth's crust and mantle from the depressing effects of the crushing weights of past glacial ice loads. With respect to the complexities of this procedure, Chen et al. state that "because PGR effects are present within the same geographical regions as current deglaciation, a PGR model [our italics] is required to separate the effects."

Expanding on this complication and its potential resolution, the three University of Texas at Austin scientists note that "different PGR models may show large discrepancies in modeling the Greenland surface deformation effect," but because "average PGR effects over all of Greenland are estimated [again by models] to be small," they neglect them altogether, not only over the bulk of Greenland, but also over vast regions of the ocean surrounding Greenland.

A third problem is the limited spatial resolution of GRACE gravity fields, which shortcoming the researchers attempt to overcome by using "numerical simulations [our italics] to assign [our italics] mass changes to regions suggested by remote sensing or other observations." But in spite of this dubious attempt at improvement, they still find that the "limited spatial resolution of GRACE estimates causes a large portion of variance to be spread into the surrounding oceans, even though the actual source location is likely on the continent."

A fourth nagging problem, in the words of the researchers, is that "PGR effects from nearby regions such as Hudson Bay may contribute to variations over Greenland." In fact, they admit that "many [our italics] error sources may affect our GRACE estimates, which include the remaining GRACE measurement error (after spatial smoothing), uncertainty in the background geophysical models used in GRACE, and unquantified [our italics] other leakage effects." And for even more errors associated with GRACE assessments of ice sheet mass balance, see our review of the study of Velicogna and Wahr (2006).

So just how questionable might the GRACE results possibly be? In a comparative study of the ice sheet mass balance over Svalbard, Chen et al. note that the technique they employ yields a mass wastage of about 75 km3/year, but that absolute gravity measurements indicate a melting rate of about 50 km3/year, and that surface deformation data suggest an ice loss rate of about 25 km3/year. If one or the other of these results is correct, the GRACE approach employed by Chen et al. could be anywhere from 50% to 200% too high.

Even more telling is Chen et al.'s open acknowledgement that "another study (Zwally et al., 2005) based on 10 years of radar altimetry data during the period 1992 to 2002 suggests a small mass gain [our italics] for Greenland," which is even opposite in sign to their estimate. In light of these many observations, all of which come from Chen et al.'s own paper, we find no need to say anything more. Most rational people should be able to draw their own conclusions about the matter.


New England greenhouse con game

Eight states have joined together to try to pressure Kansas regulators to block a three-unit, 2,100 MW coal-fired power plant planned by Sunflower Electric Power Corp. at its Holcomb station. The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin wrote the Kansas Department of Health and Environment asking the regulators to require Sunflower to develop the project with integrated gasification combined cycle technology. R.I. Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch told Providence Business News, "This is, plain and simple, an issue directly related to global warming. Rhode island is on the front lines in combating this real and increasingly dangerous threat to the sustainability of our plant."

Sunflower is a rural electric generation and transmission cooperative serving distribution co-ops in eastern Kansas. With a straight face, Lynch announced that he is again asking R.I. Gov. Donald Carcieri to reconsider his decision to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program. But neither Massachusetts nor Rhode Island are participating.

In a related irony, Maine-based advocacy group Environment Northeast released a report this week that finds that carbon dioxide emissions in New England and eastern Canada have increased since 2001, despite a joint pledge by New England governors and eastern Canada premiers five years ago to reduce CO2 emissions 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. The report projects carbon dioxide emissions in the region will be 50% above 1990 levels by 2020. One of the purposes of the report is to put pressure on incoming Democratic Gov.-elect Deval Patrick, who will be inaugurated Jan. 4., to join the regional greenhouse initiative.


Climate ideology control

America's vital traditions of free speech, association and debate are under assault. Al Gore bristles at anyone who raises inconvenient truths about climate alarmism. Greenpeace calls us "climate criminals." Grist magazine wants "Nuremberg-style war crimes trials" for climate disaster skeptics, probably followed by hangings, since burning at the stake would release greenhouse gases.

Climate catastrophist Ross Gelbspan told a Washington, D.C., audience: "Not only do journalists not have a responsibility to report what skeptical scientists have to say about global warming. They have a responsibility not to report what those scientists say."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, shamefully treated physician-scientist-author Michael Crichton like a child molester during a congressional hearing, for suggesting climate change theories be reviewed by double-blind studies and evidentiary standards akin to what the Food and Drug Administration uses for new medicine. And Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia have issued a "gag order" against ExxonMobil. "Its message: Start toeing the senators' line on climate change, or else," said the Wall Street Journal.

Earth-centered-universe dogmas have been replaced by a far more intolerant Church of Gaia catechism of cataclysm. We have entered an era of climate McCarthyism and eco-Inquisitions, whose goal appears to be slashing energy use and economic growth, by making activists, politicians and bureaucrats the final arbiters of every energy and economic decision.

Yes, Earth's climate is changing -- again, though far less than it has repeatedly throughout our planet's history. Yes, people influence our weather and climate -- to some degree. But few scientists have joined astronomer James Hansen in saying humans have replaced the sun and other natural forces as the primary cause, Climate Armageddon is nigh and drastic action must be taken immediately.

Cataclysm theorists point to computer models. But models are not evidence. Neither are headlines, hype or Hollywood special effects -- nor incessant claims that every storm, drought, heat wave or cold snap is due to fossil fuels. Moreover, even perfect compliance with the Kyoto Protocol would do virtually nothing to stop hypothetical human-induced climate change. And the true costs of Draconian emission controls would be astronomical.

Carbon taxes, carbon caps and greenhouse gas targets and timetables would send energy prices even higher, raise the cost of every consumer product and service, reduce profits, impair productivity, stifle innovation -- and drive jobs overseas, to countries where energy is still available and priced lower. Simply put, no juice -- no jobs.

In the coming decade, say energy analysts, Colorado alone will need 5,000 megawatts of new electrical generation; Texas, more than 25,000; the United States, hundreds of thousands. Most will have to come from fossil fuels. Will policymakers enable or prevent us from meeting these needs? If 13,000 wind turbines (on 105,000 California acres) are needed to generate the annual electrical output of one 500-megawatt gas-fired power plant, how many turbines on how many once-scenic acres will it take to produce 50,000 megawatts? How many birds and bats will they kill?

If we emphasize intermittent, unreliable wind and solar, will brownouts and outages become routine for offices, factories, schools and operating rooms? If utilities have to sequester CO2 at $40-50 a ton, will they follow Britain's lead, and tell parents who can no longer afford to heat their homes adequately they can just send their children to bed with hats, mittens, sox -- and bags of rice warmed in microwaves? What will bureaucrats tell families of elderly folks who die in summer heat waves, because they can't afford air conditioning -- or AC has been banned as "polluting and unnecessary"?

To reduce electricity demand, will alarmists tell kids they can't have computers or Sony PlayStations? Will they try to ban plasma televisions, which use 5 times more electricity than conventional TVs? How much will California really preserve our environment by locating new power plants in Montana, Idaho, Utah and the Dakotas -- and sending the electricity to Los Angeles via 2,000-mile-long transmission lines -- so legislators can claim to have reduced carbon emissions within the Golden State?

How many Third World families will die from lung and intestinal diseases, because agitators, politicians and bureaucrats continue to pressure banks and companies not to build power plants in poor countries? Will Senate Inquisitors -- and fearmongering green organizations -- now run their offices solely on wind and solar power?

These are just a few of the inconvenient questions and truths that alarmists want muzzled. Raising them -- through open, robust, civil debate -- is the essence of social responsibility, good citizenship and sound science. Even at the risk of being browbeaten by congressional neo-McCarthyites, we must speak out, to prevent enactment of economically and ethically ruinous state and federal laws.

We do not face a looming climate chaos. We have time to respond rationally and responsibly, evaluate competing claims, demand real science and evidence, devise sensible laws and policies, and develop new energy generation technologies that will meet growing U.S. and global demand for abundant, reliable, affordable electricity -- while gradually improving efficiency, reducing pollution, and protecting the health and economic vitality of families, companies and communities. Our energy generation and pollution control technologies changed dramatically between 1900 and 2000. We can do it again -- if we have faith in our creative genius, technological innovation, and ability to engage in robust but civil debate over complex energy, climate, economic and environmental issues.


Antarctica: Inconvenient elephant seals

The scare du jour on global warming is a massive inundation of our coast caused by rapid loss of ice from Antarctica. It's a core point in Al Gore's science fiction movie, and it continues to be thumped by doomsayers around the world, in the echo chamber of the alarmist media. It's also a bunch of hooey. If you could take the boredom, you could have read hundreds of news stories on this since An Inconvenient Truth debuted on May 25. But you'll find very little mention of a paper that appeared a mere six weeks later, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which should have stopped the whole show cold. The work is by Brenda Hall from the University of Maine and several co-authors.

First, Gore's science fiction. Due to the warming of the surrounding ocean, big ice-shelves begin to crack off and float away. Because that ice is floating, it doesn't raise sea level a bit. But then the ice cracks all the way back to where it is grounded on the ocean floor. That stuff isn't floating and the ocean rises dramatically, some twenty feet in a hundred years. Much of Manhattan, the movie suggests, is under water, along with just about every other coastal city.

Now, the truth. The notion that this is going to happen soon has just been fatally harpooned by giant Elephant Seals (Mirounga leonine). They generally hang out a long distance form Antarctica. Most of their breeding rookeries are a good 2,000 miles away on islands in the open ocean, where they feed. Most of the Antarctic coast is hemmed by huge ice shelves that prevent them from finding food.

But that wasn't always the case. According to Hall's paper, a large area of the Antarctic coast was ice-free between 1,100 and 2,300 years ago. Elephant seals established multiple rookeries on the continent. Temperatures had to be much warmer than they are today, for at least 1,200 years, and yet there was no disintegration of the large ice shelves. Hall et al. then noted another similar period, almost twice as long, from 4,000 to 6,000 years ago.

The warm millennium ended as the world's temperature descended from what scientists call the "Medieval Warm Period" into the "Little Ice Age." Antarctica has yet to fully recover from this last period, as temperatures averaged across the continent actually showed a net cooling in the last three decades.

Hall studied ancient Antarctic beaches, which could only contain relics of large numbers of elephant seals if there were open water. Others have examined extinct penguin rookeries and found that those happily footed birds tended to be absent when the seals were present. That's because penguins feed along the edges of sea-ice, so if there isn't any, there aren't any birds.

Of course this also means, even as temperatures warm to degrees seen for more than half of the last six millennia, that penguins will be displaced from their current rookeries. The horror of natural climate variability! Cute little penguins driven from their homes by cruel Mother Nature!!

Hall et al. give a quantitative perspective on today's climate. Current thinking is that the Antarctic ice shelves become susceptible to rapid breakup when the January (Summer) temperature averages about -1.5 degrees Celsius But the seals only thrive, according to the paper, "when the mean January temperature exceeds 0 [degrees] C, usually by considerable margins." So Hall and her colleagues conclude that "January temperatures...surpassed the -1.5 [degrees] C threshold during two long periods at ~1,000-2,300 and 4,000-6,000 years b.p. [before present]."

George Denton, one of Hall's University of Maine colleagues and coauthors, summed it up in the school's U Maine Today Magazine: "Through her discovery of elephant seal remains over a widespread area where they do not exist today, she [Hall] shows evidence not only that a warming occurred, but that the Ross Ice Shelf survived that event. It's important because it speaks to the staying capacity of the ice shelf in the face of global warming."

Stories about an imminent collapse of Antarctic ice shelves can go back to the science fiction shelves, where they belonged all along. For that matter, so can this whole apocalyptic myth. If Antarctic ice remained stable for thousands of years with temperatures considerably warmer than they are today, how in the world are we going to provoke a catastrophe? Among other things, we will still have to be powering our society on fossil fuels in the year 4,100.



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

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

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


Friday, December 22, 2006

Asbestos fears are justified, say government theorists

The naturally-occurring asbestos has been there throughout the California area concerned ever since the area was settled so we should be seeing lots of asbestos-related disease in the area by now. How strange that there has not been a single report of that! A most interesting natural experiment in showing how asbestos problems have been vastly over-hyped

The U.S. Geological Survey on Tuesday confirmed a federal environmental agency's findings of a particularly dangerous kind of asbestos on playgrounds in El Dorado Hills. USGS experts in mineral identification reached the conclusion after closely examining the playgrounds' study samples of tiny particles that the mining industry asserted were not asbestos.

The investigation found that most of those particles did not conform to the traditional commercial definition of asbestos, as the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association had argued. The microscopic bits of minerals nonetheless were within scientists' widely accepted range of sizes, shapes and chemical compositions counted as "asbestos" for health studies, USGS scientists said. "We don't equate the commercial definition of asbestos with toxicity," said Gregory Meeker, a mineralogist with the USGS Denver office who led the investigation. "It has not been health based. It's been for the guy who wants to mine a deposit and make a profit at it."

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials who conducted the October 2004 study of El Dorado Hills' Community Park and nearby schoolyards said the Geological Survey's findings affirmed its pioneering exposure studies of naturally occurring asbestos in El Dorado Hills and elsewhere in the country. "The survey's study refutes assertions made by the R.J. Lee report and supports our findings and conclusions," said Dan Meer, who supervised the playgrounds' sampling by the EPA's San Francisco regional office.

Spokesman for the industry lobby could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. But the consultant who conducted the review of the EPA sampling had maintained that the environmental agency did not follow proper standards for identifying asbestos particles in air samples. "It is too bad that they chose to ignore a very detailed analysis that we had provided to EPA and USGS," Rich Lee, president of R.J. Lee Group of Pittsburgh, said in July. The EPA study found that children and adults in El Dorado Hills can significantly raise their exposure to breathable asbestos particles simply from the dust kicked up riding a bicycle or playing basketball on outdoor courts.

The main public health concern related to such exposures is mesothelioma, an inoperable and almost always fatal cancer of the membranes lining the chest and other body cavities, asbestos health experts say. Short exposure -- months, not years -- can be enough to instigate the disease, though it typically takes 30 or more years to take hold.

The EPA strapped personal air monitors on agency technicians who mimicked children's activities at the park and on sports fields at Silva Valley Elementary, Jackson Elementary and Rolling Hills Middle schools.

About 1,000 of the El Dorado Hills' 31,000 residents packed the Community Park's gymnasium to learn more from federal scientists. Findings prompted the Community Services District to blacktop the New York Creek trail running through the park and increase irrigation on sports fields to cut dust. The schools also adopted dust controls. At the same, the superintendent of El Dorado County schools was widely circulating copies of the Stone, Sand & Gravel Association's critique discrediting the EPA study. Superintendent Vicki Barber stopped short of endorsing the industry view. But she said it reinforced doubts that she and other local officials harbored over the reliability of EPA asbestos testing. Barber declined to comment Tuesday, saying she had not yet read the full USGS report.

County Supervisor Helen Baumann, who represents El Dorado Hills, called the Geological Survey's study a "a fair analysis" and left her confident that the county is "doing everything we need to do to protect public health." The USGS, the scientific arm of the Interior Department, launched the $100,000 investigation at the request of the EPA, which wanted an independent examination of the industry critique. Last April, the USGS team collected dozens of samples of rock, soil and settled dust in the areas where the environmental agency had conducted its asbestos exposure assessment. USGS mineralogists also analyzed samples the EPA had collected using a number of sophisticated tests to determine the chemistry, mineral composition and form of the asbestos structures detected. The USGS investigators said asbestos health experts, not the mining industry or mineralogists, need to take the lead in redefining asbestos from a health perspective. "Ultimately, it is the health community that must determine what particle types are significant with respect to asbestos-related diseases," the report said



Washington is likely to stay out of the U.N. Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gases beyond 2012 even with a shift in power to Democrats from Republicans, a former top U.S. trade and economics official said. Stuart Eizenstat, lead negotiator for former U.S. President Bill Clinton on the Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, said changes were afoot at state and business level but the mere mention of Kyoto was a red rag and would remain so. "In the United States there is growing interest and growing concern but no chance of joining Kyoto," he told Reuters by telephone. "The word is radioactive."

Clinton, a Democrat, did not present Kyoto to the Republican dominated Senate in 1998 knowing it would be defeated. Clinton's Republican successor President Bush turned his back on the treaty -- the only legally binding global accord on climate change -- arguing that it would be economic suicide to sign up to Kyoto while allowing major developing nations like China and India to be exempt. Kyoto obliges 35 developed nations to cut greenhouse gases by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Governments are now wrangling over how to extend the protocol beyond 2012.

Bush is entering the last two years of his administration, but is not expected to change course on the environment. Mid-term elections last month gave Democrats control of Congress by a tiny margin, reawakening speculation of a shift toward accepting Kyoto-style caps. But for Eizenstat, a former U.S. deputy treasury secretary and under secretary of commerce for international trade, the numbers simply do not add up because it needs a two-thirds majority to get laws through -- and that looks unlikely given most Republicans' ideological hatred of Kyoto. "With the changeover in Congress we really do have the potential for greater interest but not really legislation. It hasn't changed the dynamic," he added.

And that is despite the introduction in California by Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of tough climate laws, and a carbon emissions trading deal between seven other states. "California has a formal Kyoto-type emissions law. It is very important to see what they do on emissions trading," Eizenstat said. "The whole history of environmental laws is that they start in California and head east."

There is a chance the Senate might agree a less strict goal. It has voted down calls to set mandatory caps on emissions at 2000 levels -- an easier target than Kyoto. But backers of that bill say they will try again in 2007. However, a law passed in 1997 barred the U.S. from making international commitments on carbon emission cuts unless developing countries did likewise -- and that, according to Eizenstat, cuts across party lines. "It would be very difficult to get the U.S. into some sort of Kyoto commitment without China," he said. "Unless China undergoes a metamorphosis you would have real difficulty."

Talks to extend Kyoto have made little headway -- due partly to U.S. meddling and partly to uncertainty over the intentions of China, which builds one coal-fired power plant a week. Most scientists agree that temperatures will rise by between two and six degrees Celsius this century due mainly to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport, putting millions of lives at risk from floods and famines. Former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said in October that urgent action on global warming was vital, and that delay would multiply the cost 20 times.

Eizenstat said one possibility was that the United States would at some stage be forced by the spreading patchwork of business and state actions to bring in federal emissions laws. But the key would be extending that to the international level, and the hatred of Kyoto made that less than likely.

Reuters, 19 December 2006


For billions of people around the world, these are the best of times to be alive. From Beijing to Bratislava, more of us are living longer, healthier and more comfortable lives than at any time in history; fewer of us are suffering from poverty, hunger or illiteracy. Pestilence, famine, death and even war, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, are in retreat, thanks to the liberating forces of capitalism and technology.

If you believe that such apparently outlandish claims cannot possibly be true, think again. In a book which will trigger intense controversy when it is published later this month, the acclaimed American economist Indur Goklany, former US delegate to the United Nations' intergovernmental panel on climate change, demonstrates that on every objective measure of the human condition - be it life expectancy, food availability, access to clean water, infant mortality, literacy rates or child labour - well-being and quality of life are improving around the world.

A remarkable compendium of inform-ation at odds with the present fashionable pessimism, Goklany's The Improving State of the World, published by the Cato Institute, reveals that, contrary to popular belief, it is the poorest who are enjoying the most dramatic rise in living standards. Refuting a central premise of the modern green movement, it also demonstrates that as countries become richer, they also become cleaner, healthier and more environmentally conscious.

Needless to say, Goklany has already been accused of naive Panglossianism by the doom and gloom merchants, to whom all must always be for the worst in the worst of all possible worlds. This is deeply unfair to Goklany: like the rest of us, he is concerned at the shameful deprivation, disease and misery that continue to affect hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa, North Korea and all the rest of the world's horror spots. But he argues convincingly that to recognise their horrific plight should not prevent us from also acknowledging our progress in liberating even larger numbers of people from extreme poverty.

We should be especially proud of the fact that humanity has never been better fed: the daily food intake in poor countries has increased by 38 per cent since the 1960s to 2,666 calories per person per day on average. The population of those countries has soared by 83 per cent during that time, so this is a stupendous achievement which puts the final nail in the coffin of Malthusianism.

Together with a 75 per cent decline in global food prices in real terms in the second half of the 20th century, caused by improved agricultural productivity and freer trade, fewer people than ever before are going hungry. The rate of chronic undernourishment in poor countries has halved to 17 per cent, compared with a little over a third 45 years ago. In wealthy countries, the cost of essential foods has collapsed, with the price of flour, bacon and potatoes relative to incomes dropping by between 82 and 92 per cent over the past century; similar trends are now visible in developing countries too.

There is still a long way to go; but never before in human history have so many people been liberated from extreme poverty so quickly. The number of people subsisting on $1 a day has declined from 16 per cent of the world population in the late 1970s to 6 per cent today, while those living on $2 a day dropped from 39 per cent to 18 per cent. In 1820, 84 per cent of the world's population lived in absolute poverty; today this is down to about a fifth.

Famine and declining life expectancy are problems now limited to the small number of countries unfortunate enough to continue to suffer from horrendous misgovernment by kleptocratic elites or which persist in rejecting capitalism and globalisation. There is only one way to ensure that the most deprived in the poorest countries are fed and clothed: their governments must embrace the market economy, strong property rights, sound money, free trade and technological progress. That is the only road to higher economic growth; and increased wealth is the prerequisite to better living standards.

To see how far we have come, consider that anyone born in Britain during the Middle Ages would have been exceptionally lucky to live to see their 30th birthday. The average person could expect to live only to the age of 22, before succumbing to disease, injury or famine. By 1800, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, life expectancy in Britain had climbed to 36 years, then the highest ever seen but less than the life expectancy enjoyed today in even the most war-torn and deprived countries. By the 1950s the average Briton could expect to live to the age of 69; today this has increased to almost 78 years.

Life expectancy in poorer countries has improved even faster. In China it has surged from 41 years in the 1950s to 71 years today; in India it is up from 39 years to 63 years, almost doubling the average lifespan of 2 billion people. In 1900 average life expectancy around the world was a mere 31 years; today it is 67 years and rising.

Just as remarkably, the gap between poor and rich countries has been shrinking fast. By the early 1950s a child born in a wealthy country such as Britain could expect to live 25 years longer than a child born in a poor country such as Algeria; today accidents of birth matter far less. The gap has closed to 12.2 years, thanks to diffusion and transfer of public health practices and medical advances pioneered in the West.

We are not only living longer; we are also living healthier lives, in poor as well as in rich countries. Disability rates in the leading developed countries have declined strikingly and the onset of chronic diseases has been significantly delayed during the course of the past century - by nine years for heart disease (despite increased obesity), by 11 years for respiratory disease (despite smoking) and by nearly eight years for cancer.

All of these and other improvements to well-being have come despite a hundredfold increase in the use of man-made chemicals, demolishing the oft-repeated but obstinately incorrect claim that pollution, urbanisation and modernity have made life more dangerous. In truth, before industrialisation, at least 200 out of every 1,000 children died before reaching their first birthday. Infant mortality globally is now down to 57 per 1,000, thanks to huge strides made in nutrition, hygiene and medical care in the developing world.

Children are not only much more likely to survive infancy; they are also far more likely to spend their childhood in school. Child labour, while still all too prevalent, has been in steady decline for years. In 1960 a quarter of all children aged ten to 14 were in work, a share which has fallen to a tenth today. Partly as a result, the global illiteracy rate has declined from 46 per cent in 1970 to about 18 per cent today.

There are many other ways in which life has improved across the developing world. Compared with 20 years ago, people are generally more free to choose their rulers and express their views; more likely to live under the rule of law and less likely to be deprived of their life, liberty or property through the whim of a ruler. Social and professional mobility is less circumscribed by accidents of birth and location. Fewer people are toiling 18 hours a day in mines; more are working in offices and able to afford holidays.

When Charles Dickens depicted the industrial town as hell on earth in The Old Curiosity Shop, he was chronicling the dark phase of economic development which some parts of China and India are undergoing today. But the forces that eventually lifted Britain from that Stygian gloom had already been set in motion, as they have in emerging economies today. Remarkably, there is mounting evidence that as countries become richer, they eventually also become greener, cleaner and healthier.

Increased productivity and better technology have allowed us to conserve energy resources, cut emissions of noxious substances such as lead and sulphur dioxide, provide cleaner drinking water and ensure better quality air. London's great smog of December 1952, which killed 4,000 people, is now a mere historical footnote, as is the Great Stink of 1858, when the Thames was so filthy and polluted that Parliament had to be evacuated.

The widespread view that Western societies are squandering natural resources on an unprecedented scale doesn't stand up to scrutiny. A ton of coal produces 12 times more electricity in modern power stations than a century ago. Energy intensity in the rich countries has been falling by 1.3 per cent a year for the past century and a half. This year the demand for oil from rich countries will actually fall, despite buoyant economic growth. Because one acre of agricultural land produces so much more food today than it did even a decade ago, Western countries have been able to cut back on the amount of space devoted to agriculture. Forests are growing again, replacing fields.

To the doom merchants, however, none of this really matters. Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are on the rise globally which, they claim, will trigger devastating global warming and a catastrophic relapse in living standards. But Goklany begs to differ. Climate change might exacerbate existing problems, such as malaria, coastal flooding and habitat loss, he acknowledges, but this doesn't justify the heavy-handed interventionism called for in Sir Nicholas Stern's recent report.

In fact, equally rigorous modelling using different assumptions suggests that, for the next 80 years at least, the benefits of faster economic growth in further improving quality of life across the developing world will outweigh any cost of global warming. Some reductions in carbon emissions may eventually be needed, Goklany says, but in most cases it would be cheaper to adapt to higher temperatures than to try to stop them.

Our best bet, therefore, is to allow technology, trade and the global economy to continue growing unimpeded. Such is Goklany's plea: if the present rate of improvement continues, he argues, we could soon be living in a world where 'hunger and malnutrition have been virtually banished; where malaria, TB, Aids and other infectious and parasitic diseases are distant memories; and where humanity meets its needs while ceding land and water back to the rest of nature ... even in sub-Saharan Africa infant mortality could be as low as it is today in the United States, and life expectancies as high'.

Hope has become a commodity in short supply in the West. Even though more progress will always be required, our victories over famine and extreme poverty during the past two centuries are civilisation's greatest achievement. It is time we took a well-deserved break from worrying about terrorism, rising crime, social dislocation and all our other problems to celebrate what we have actually got right.

The Spectator, December 2006

For more on Goklanys' new book see details on the CATO website here

Beware the ecosexual

I'm not sure whether to blame it on the Stern report on climate change or Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, but being green has never been more fashionable nor annoying. The competitiveness by some to be an eco-warrior is so out of control that it now extends to the world of dating and the birth of the "ecosexual". Good looks, a sense of humour, education and high income count for zilch these days if you don't eat organic, wear organic and recycle. To get lucky, you have to think globally and act locally in your day-to-day living.

But while being ecosmart may "turn on" the ecosexual, don't presume that slipping between the allergy-free sheets with one will mean happy ever after with loads of children. Oh no, because if you truly live by the Three Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) you should also belong to the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, a group of people dedicated to phasing out the human race in the interest of the health of the Earth. I kid you not. They exist and their slogan is "May We Live Long and Die Out" (apologies for not knowing the Latin translation). To think I have been congratulating myself for separating my rubbish.

The movement's American founder Les Knight, who had a vasectomy in the 1970s when he was 25, believes humans are inherently dangerous to the planet and inevitably create an unsustainable situation. "As long as there's one breeding couple, we're in danger of being right back here again," he says. How's that for logic?

But while VHEM and its members may be the extreme fallout of global warming, there are plenty of ecofriendly people bordering on the obsessive. As one friend recently lamented after a blind date from hell: "Give me a man who loves a beer and a steak any day." She went out (once) with Mr Blind Date after mutual friends sold him as Mr Long-Term. But her summary of him the morning after was very different to the guy they had talked up the week before. His first mistake was mentioning his ex-wife within the first five minutes - then referring to her about another 10 times over the course of the evening: Always a turn-off. His second was the revelation he was a non-drinking vegan. Carnivores, it seems, are a dying breed. But the third cross against his name, and which seemed to be the clincher, was the fact he lived in a cave for a year after his divorce - something about getting back to nature.

Meanwhile, a colleague told me last week of a friend who broke up with her boyfriend when she discovered he didn't recycle his newspapers. She felt she couldn't continue to see a man who didn't realise we all have a responsibility to the environment. Another has a mate who was dumped by a farmer because of the drought. How can you compete with an act of God, she asked. A raindance perhaps? In hindsight the stresses of "the drought" may have been a furphy, given it's now worse than ever and the farmer has found himself a Russian "friend" he met over the internet.

The true ecosexual is a frightening evolving breed who mainly resides in the city and not surprisingly uses the internet to meet like-minded "sexy-conservationists". In the US, there are sites for vegans wanting more than just to exchange tofu recipes such as Earth Wise Singles, which promises to help "green-living and environmentally responsible adults" meet their "soulmate". There's also Green Passions, which is particularly popular on the West Coast, where it seems being green is an obsessive trend like aerobics was in the '80s.

It also doesn't take long to come across horror testimonials from people who claim to have been led up the organic garden path by fake ecosexuals. San Francisco designer Rachel Pearson, 33, who owns a successful line of children's clothing made from organic cotton writes: "For a while I was happily dating a film producer from Los Angeles who I thought was definitely on my eco-wavelength. But one morning we went out for breakfast and he ordered an all-meat meal and doused his coffee with several packets of Equal. "I was dumbstruck. I think I ate my entire meal in silence. Pork plus NutraSweet? That was definitely our last date."

Another, a stockbroker-turned-acupuncturist, revealed his dark secret of dating a woman who once admitted to eating half a chocolate cake for dinner. "Not exactly a mindful way to eat," he wrote, before warning others "that's a red-flag". While it's good to know that there are people out there doing their bit to try and stop the melting polar ice-caps, it's disheartening to discover that perhaps love can't conquer all. That if you eat meat, or occasionally wear nylon, or buy takeaway in plastic disposable containers, you are destined for a loveless life. I do however, take solace in the fact that groups such as the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement really are a dying breed



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

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

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


Thursday, December 21, 2006


And Brisbane, Australia, where I live, is having an unusually cool summer. So what does it all prove? Precisely nothing

Traditional scenes of pristine snow and ice have given way to rain and muddy grass from Reykjavik to Moscow as unseasonably warm weather puts a damper on festivities. Russians normally revel in the bitter harshness of their winters, but the warmest December since 1879, when records began, has left Muscovites despairing about a lack of snow to see in the new year. Staff at the Yakhroma Park resort, 30 miles north of Moscow, have turned to artificial snow machines to try to open at least one ski run in what should be the peak season. Natalia Silinskaya, the park’s commercial director, said that attendance was down 70 per cent on last year. Skiing has been possible on only two weekends so far this winter....

Moscow experienced a record winter high last Friday of 9.3C (48.8F), far above the average of -5C. The city received a light dusting of snow yesterday for the first time this month, but it was not expected to stay on the ground for long. Temperatures are predicted to rise above freezing again before the weekend. This winter is in stark contrast to last year, when temperatures in the capital plunged to -40C in the coldest winter since 1940. In St Petersburg, where the temperature set a new record of 10.7C last week, organisers of an ice sculpture festival had to create a refrigerated enclosure to prevent the artwork melting.


Update: And it's unusually cool elsewhere in Australia too. How amazing that weather is changeable!

Update 2: A reader writes: "Well, it might be warm in Northern Europe but it’s f*cking cold here in NorCal. We seem to be experiencing early cold weather with lots of snow predicted for the Sierras and Snow in WA, OR, and even in Vancouver (where we are heading for Christmas)."

Do economists agree on climate change? Yes

What long-term impact is global climate change likely to have on the economy? To answer this question (and a slew of others), I polled Ph.D. economists, randomly selected from the ranks of the American Economic Association.

Like almost everyone else, economists must, essentially, take on faith predictions and calculations by scientists about the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. They realize that such predictions are based on complicated models and tentative scenarios, informed by self-interest. But they have been trained to understand what makes the economy hum and to think through how people will respond to changing conditions of all kinds.

Specifically, I asked this challenging question: "In comparison to a world in which greenhouse gas (GHG) levels were stable, rising levels of greenhouse gases by the end of the twenty-first century will cause GDP per capita in the U.S. to be a) more than 10 percent lower, b) about 5 to 10 percent lower, c) about 1 to 5 percent lower, d) less than 1 percent lower or higher, e) about 1 to 5 percent higher, or f) more than 5 percent higher." (Remember that GDP or gross domestic product equals the value of all final goods and services produced in the economy or equivalently the level of aggregate income.)

A couple of these choices may seem odd to the lay person, since few media accounts hold out the prospect that any global warming and other climate changes induced by rising greenhouse gas levels could be beneficial to our standard of living. However, some economists credit this possibility - pointing to the fertilization effect of higher carbon dioxide levels on plant growth and the amenity value of warmer weather, for example.

The results show that most economists are not alarmed by the likelihood of continued carbon dioxide emissions. The Great Depression of 1929 to 1933 caused inflation-adjusted GDP to fall a numbing 27%. Few economists think that rising GHGs will have anywhere near this impact - only one in eight predict that GDP will fall by more than 10 percent. Almost twice as many believe that rising greenhouse gas levels will cause the economy to grow. The most popular response is that rising greenhouse gas levels will have virtually no impact on income per person (less than 1 percent lower or higher). The vast majority (73.2%) predict that the impact will be less than 5 percent one way or the other. (Here are the complete responses: a) more than 10 percent lower = 12.5%; b) about 5 to 10 percent lower = 7.1%; c) about 1 to 5 percent lower = 21.4%; d) less than 1 percent lower or higher = 35.7%; e) about 1 to 5 percent higher = 16.1%; f) more than 5 percent higher = 7.1%.)

Assuming that "more than 10" = 15, "more than 5" = 10, and taking the midpoint of the other intervals, this averages to -1.86%. Since the end of World War II, inflation-adjusted GDP has risen by about 2 percent per year on average. Thus, the collective wisdom of these economists is that greenhouse gas emissions will shave about one year of economic growth off the economy over the next century.

Why do economists generally conclude that the economic impact of climate change is likely to be small, not large? The growing literature on this topic suggests that most parts of the economy are not very vulnerable to climate change. Just as importantly, parts of the economy that might be negatively impacted are pretty flexible and adaptable to change. If climate does change, crops can be modified, different crops can be planted and crops can be planted in different places, for example. If sea levels rise, we have the ability and resources to build protective structures or, in a worse case scenario, simply move to higher ground.

Thus, while potential climate changes might be devastating to parts of the environment, most economists don't think that it will affect our economic standard of living much, one way or the other. The bottom line is that recent history has shown economists that the primary cause of economic growth is technological improvement. Climate change cannot staunch the global torrent of new discoveries, processes and products. Human ingenuity is the ultimate resource and - as far as most economists are concerned - rising greenhouse gas levels cannot imperil this.



Out from under their hoodies they came, awkward Eagle Rock High School intellects eager to weigh in on a controversy that has been oozing like an oil slick across the online environment: Al Gore - self-promoting propagandist or lonesome crusader for planet Earth? More precisely, the question being yakked out on education and political websites nationwide goes more like this: Was the National Science Teachers Assn. behaving as immorally as one Hollywood activist claims when it rejected an offer of 50,000 free DVDs of "An Inconvenient Truth," the former vice president's global warning alarum?

Listen to Laurie David - a producer of the Gore documentary, environmentalist and wife of "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David - and it's easy to believe that the 57,000-member science teachers association turned down her generous offer because it had already sold its soul to the pro-greenhouse gas forces of Big Oil. It's also easy to suspect that writing on this subject means I've been suckered into providing publicity for the recently released DVD or Gore's undeclared but inevitable presidential run. But what the heck. The question of whether science instruction can be kept pure is just too interesting not to poke at.

The brouhaha began with an e-mail from Paramount Pictures to the science teachers group. It asked if the organization would distribute donated DVDs to its members. In the ensuing exchange, forwarded around by the Natural Resources Defense Council - for which Laurie David serves as a trustee - the teachers explained: "There is strong consensus that we should pass on this." The group's members, the e-mail explained, might perceive the distribution as a political endorsement and it could open the door for all sorts of other distributions.

What really set David off, though, was the association's concern that handing out the DVD would place "unnecessary risk upon the capital campaign, especially [with] certain targeted supporters." Could free-spending oil companies be among those "targeted supporters?" David publicly wondered. In a Washington Post op-ed piece, she noted that whenever she screened the film, admiring viewers clamored that "every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie." So how could a teachers' group turn down her generous offer while scooping up millions of dollars of oil company dough - including $6 million from Exxon Mobil since 1996? "These companies have spent years misinforming the public about global warming . lying to the public about global warming!" David railed in a phone conversation that singed my right ear. If Big Oil really had students' best interests in mind, they could build playgrounds, she said, rather than trying to spin curriculum. "They're trying to infiltrate the schools."

Bill Aldridge, who served 16 years as executive director of the science teachers association, has followed the controversy and is appalled at his former organization's decision. "They don't want to offend oil companies and American Petroleum Institute," he said.

Linda Froschauer, president of the group, confirms that it has accepted money from corporations, including those in the oil business. Much of that Exxon Mobil money went to distributing the national science standards materials published by the uncontroversial National Academy of Sciences, and Shell sponsors a speaker at the group's annual conference. It's all in the open and does not affect the message, she says.

Froschauer, an eighth-grade science teacher, gives the Gore movie a wobbly thumbs up. "A great deal of the science was very good," she says - although she would fail students for turning in projects with graphs that present information without the full context, as some in the documentary do, she added. The "supporters" her group doesn't want to offend, she says, are all those who would bridle at the way "Inconvenient Truth" presents its information or at any hint that science teaching is being politicized.

The problem is that educators need money and taxpayers aren't going to be endlessly generous. Last week, for example, Los Angeles City Hall announced that Verizon had kicked in $1 million for after-school programs. Will that money influence what's taught? Probably not. But the purity of any teaching or scholarship can be subtly or overtly twisted by an underwriter's preoccupation with profit or ideology.

To which many teachers I talked to say: "So?" Kurt Holland, a science teacher at Santa Monica Alternative School and member of the science teacher's group, independently ordered five copies of the DVD without knowing about the flap. Hearing about it doesn't bother him. "I see controversy," he says, "as a complete and total learning opportunity."

Across town, those Eagle Rock ninth-graders possess more healthy skepticism than many adults. They'd read the book "An Inconvenient Truth" for an English class. They were eager to opinionate. Danny Leventon: "I didn't like the parts where Al Gore talked about his family and himself. I didn't really care about his family." Camilla Manciati: "It had a lot of pictures, and the pictures affected me emotionally. When they talked about the family, it made you realize this man cares about family and the environment." Gerry Zhang: "I'm in the Academic Decathlon, and we're studying climate change. The decathlon coaches challenged what Al Gore says.. They say scientists are very careful about predicting what will happen." Jake Goranson: "I felt the book was often misleading in the language that Al Gore used. He used loaded language instead of giving us straight facts." Moises Escamilla: "I liked it. They gave you helpful tips to avoid global warming. You know, the 'Three Rs' - reduce, reuse, recycle."

That about nails it. The book is a remarkable echo of the film, and the inconvenient truth about the film is that it's peculiar, as much a hagiographic biopic as a science documentary. I watched the closing credits with almost as much concern for Gore's ego as for those sweltering polar bears. That said, "An Inconvenient Truth" is also a powerful, emotion-engaging primer on the potentially devastating impact of global warming.

David says Paramount is going to give the DVDs to teachers without the association's help. If I were a science teacher, I'd jump at the offer. I'd use the DVD to spur discussion of science in all its sometimes-tainted complexity. I'd talk to students about corporate shortsightedness, conflicts of interest and disinformation campaigns. I'd tell them about zealotry and the temptation to propagandize. I'd remind them that scientific inquiry requires testing and proof. I'd trust them to sort out the truth. [If it is given to them]



A wind farm in the Thames Estuary was approved by the Government yesterday despite a warning from the shipping industry that it would significantly increase the risk of massive pollution in the event of a collision. It will be located 12 miles off the coast between Margate in East Kent and Clacton in Essex and consist of 341 turbines spread over 90 square miles, making it the world's largest offshore wind farm.

The Chamber of Shipping said that the decision had been rushed through by the Department of Trade and Industry without proper consideration of the risks to mariners. More than 100 ships a day would pass close to the wind farm. The chamber said that the wind farm would be too close to shipping lanes, leaving little margin for error. It said the turbines would interfere with radar, preventing ships from spotting smaller boats. "With visual and radar detection of vessels impaired, the risk of collision is increased, and should such a collision involve a chemical or oil tanker, the repercussions would be immediate and far-reaching.

"The decision ignores expert advice on the safety of those using the estuary [and] disregards the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's guidance as to the minimum distance which should separate shipping lanes from wind farm sites. It is hard to understand why an environmentally minded project has been pushed forward with little consideration given to its potential to cause an irreversibly damaging environmental disaster."

A spokesman for the DTI said that the approval contained a condition that required more work to be done on navigational safety.



A letter to the editor of the WSJ by Senator James Inhofe, (R., Okla.), Chairman of the United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

I write to applaud your Dec. 4 editorial "Global Warming Gag Order." I also read with interest the responses from your readers ("Senators' 'Chill Out' Letter to Exxon Creates a Heated Reaction," Letters to the Editor, Dec. 13). As chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for the past four years, I have held several hearings examining the fears of manmade catastrophic global warming, and I have spoken publicly on this issue more than any other senator.

Those who wish to quell opposing viewpoints on manmade global warming do so because of a number of inconvenient facts about both the science of climate change and the economic harm their proposed "solutions" would cause the American people. What the activists and special interest groups don't want you to know is that 60 scientists wrote an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Harper this year stating, "If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary."

They don't want you to know that Claude Allegre, a leading French scientist who is a member of both the U.S. and French National Academies of Sciences, recently defected from the alarmist camp, and now says the cause of global warming is "unknown." They don't want you to know that the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to revise downward significantly its estimate of man's contribution to global warming in its upcoming Fourth Assessment Report or that another U.N. report recently found that emissions from cows were more damaging to the planet than C02 from cars.

And they certainly don't want you to know that their favored solution, the Kyoto Protocol -- often referred to by supporters as merely a "first step" -- would cost the average American family more than $2,700 a year while having no measurable impact on global temperature.

Despite enjoying a huge advantage in funding over skeptics, liberal special interests groups have had almost no impact in convincing policymakers to pass economically destructive climate legislation in the U.S. Now it appears those same alarmists are panicking and adopting a new agenda: to silence those who disagree with their views. I find it troubling that two of my colleagues in the Senate would join the campaign to shut down the ongoing debate on the science of global warming.



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

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

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Has the new ice age begun?

Post below lifted from Lubos Motl

According to the most recent data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the year 2006 is set to be

despite the new El Nino that has been warming the Earth again for a couple of months at the end of 2006 and that will probably continue in 2007. Yes, right now it seems that 2006 will become the coldest year among the most recent five years, and it will belong to the colder half of the years in the last decade.

The number of hurricanes in 2006 was below the long-term average. The total number of Atlantic tropical storms was the second lowest number during the last 12 years, after 1997.

Using the WMO terminology, 2006 is set to become the "sixth warmest year" after 1998, 2005, 2002, 2003, and 2004: see WMO's top five. Nevertheless, when a naive and innocent girl would read most of the newspapers, she would most likely start to think that we live in an era of a spectacular global warming. In reality, we live in an era of a spectacularly inexpensive propaganda produced by unusually blinded zealots.

And that's the memo.

Figure 1: Global cooling. This graph, depicting 6 warmest years since 1998 according to their rank, shows how Al Gore and other people with comparable moral and scientific standards would be presenting the recent temperature records if cooling became more convenient for their goals than warming.

Note that various tricks that are popular with some politicians and journalists-activists are used although not as intensely as in the media. The beginning of the graph is appropriately chosen. Some years that would lead to undesirable conclusions are removed. The decreasing links are emphasized and scientifically interpreted while the increasing links are suppressed and painted as scientifically irrelevant episodes.

Some particular years, in this case 2005, are drawn as exceptions from the underlying trend if it can help the case. In fact, I forgot:

They would also add pictures that would make it clear that the past climate is what it should be while the future is a disaster: yes, the guy is stuck in between two glaciers and all of us will be. ;-)

They would also extrapolate the graphs in some catastrophic way up to 2050 and beyond and shoot a cynical movie about all these threats. A campaign showing that the CEOs of the companies producing heating devices - together with the nasty owners of the ski resorts - are vampires who are ready to sacrifice the planet to increase their profits would follow. Steve Jobs is a vampire, too: he is selling millions of white iPods that increase the reflectivity of the Earth, via the mirror effect, and bring us closer to the new ice age.

Media would inform you that they want to hide that a new ice age is imminent. We would be constantly reading about 25,000 Britons who froze to death during the 2005-2006 winter. Scary hurricanes would be described as a consequence of global cooling and heat waves would either become unimportant weather events or consequences of the global cooling.

The world would be different in details but the general picture would be isomorphic.

The Improving State of the World

Indur Goklany, a former EPA official, has collected 450 pages of data showing that the world is cleaner, happier, and healthier than ever before. The new book is recommended by various famous people such as Nobel prize winners and Chicago economists but not only them.

Goklany shows amazing numbers how the economic growth and technological progress has improved nutrition the in the third world, how it has made the environment cleaner - the countries that have abandoned communism are an important example. The food prices in real terms dropped by 75 percent in the last 50 years. The life expectancy has grown tremendously and the infant mortality has decreased four-fold. Also, it is cheaper to adapt to different temperature than to try to stop its change by introducing heavy-handed interventionism.

One of the things that the book disproves is the hypothesis that the economic growth leads to an increasing damage of the environment.

Irradiation back on the table

Food-related illnesses renew calls for a known safe process -- but one that freaks out the Greens

Two high-profile E. coli outbreaks this year have some in the food business wondering -- once again -- if it's time to go nuclear. For decades, many food safety experts have argued that irradiation -- zapping food with high-energy rays to kill microorganisms -- could avert hundreds of deaths and perhaps millions of illnesses each year. But for just as long, federal regulators and food retailers have been leery of bringing the technology to market.

Despite exhaustive reviews by federal scientists and endorsements by public health and medical groups around the world, irradiation by its very name conjures up images that are anything but wholesome: nuclear fallout, for one. That imagery, combined with some lingering uncertainties about irradiation's effects on food, has helped grass-roots activists make a potent case against it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved irradiation as a disinfectant for a limited range of foods, including spices and ground beef. But a food industry petition to greatly expand that approval to include many ready-to-eat products -- fresh bagged greens, for instance -- has been awaiting review by the agency for more than seven years. Now, with both government officials and the produce industry feeling pressure to respond to the recent outbreaks, irradiation is again up for debate.

Jeff Barach, vice president of the Food Products Association, the trade group that brought the 1999 irradiation petition, said he had for months been unable to get an audience with FDA officials -- until September's outbreak of E. coli in Salinas Valley spinach. "We all of a sudden got a meeting" with the head of the department that is evaluating the petition, Barach said. He said that he offered to limit the scope of the request to fewer products -- to focus only on fresh packaged vegetables, lunch meats, and a few other items -- in exchange for a quicker decision from the agency. "I think we've made some good progress," he said. An FDA spokesman said the agency can't comment on the petition's status.

Members of California's fresh greens industry recently have been discussing irradiation -- among other strategies -- in their ongoing negotiations on food safety standards, according to Trevor Suslow, a specialist in perishable produce at the University of California, Davis, who has been present at some of the sessions. One appeal of irradiation to the produce industry has to do with the difficulty of pinpointing the source of contamination following a foodborne illness outbreak. By the time someone gets sick, there is a good chance the offending bacteria have died off. So, farmers and food processors -- and federal investigators -- can't tell where safeguards failed. Irradiation introduces the prospect of a final "kill step," for fresh produce, an additional layer of protection if other precautions fail.

The high-energy rays can penetrate packaging, making it possible to do a final disinfection after, say, spinach leaves have been washed and sealed in a bag. The technology can also kill pathogens nestled where disinfectants like chlorine don't always reach: in a crevice in a leaf of spinach, for instance. Recent studies have shown that the technology will reduce populations of common foodborne disease pathogens by at least 99.9 percent without hurting the quality of most fresh produce, according to Brendan Niemira, a lead scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Intervention Technologies lab in Pennsylvania.

Irradiation disinfects food by damaging the DNA of microorganisms, rendering them unable to reproduce. The most common irradiation machines employ the high-energy gamma rays produced by radioactive cobalt. Newer alternatives use X-ray and electron acceleration techniques that do not require radioactive material. Units suitable for mass food processing cost between $4 million and $8 million, according to executives at two U.S. food irradiation firms. Irradiation was first identified as a food disinfectant in the 1920s. It does not make food radioactive, and its safety is supported by the results of nearly all studies of the technology performed over the past 50 years.

Still, were the irradiation of ready-to-eat produce to be approved, it would likely be the target of fierce campaigning by some public-advocacy groups. "I would characterize our view on irradiation as calling for a moratorium," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. In 1999, when the USDA was considering whether to allow irradiation and genetic engineering in certified organic foods, Kimbrell's group helped build strong opposition that included 300,000 public comments. The agency decided to keep both technologies out of the production of organic foods. Kimbrell says that research results don't provide proof of the safety of irradiation. He also argues that its widespread use would lead the food industry to be sloppy in other areas.

Michael Pollan, an influential writer on food and agriculture, raises another objection: If a costly food safety technology like irradiation becomes a standard step in food processing, small producers are likely be hurt more than large ones who are in a better position to absorb major expenses. That's particularly galling, Pollan says, since the national-scale outbreaks of foodborne illness that tend to prompt the use of such technologies are usually linked to big operations.

The average grocery shopper doesn't have much of an opinion one way or the other about irradiation, said Christine Bruhn, a cooperative extension specialist at UC Davis who has studied consumer attitudes toward the technology for more than 20 years. About 15 percent know about the technology and support it, while 10 percent express strong opposition, she said. While the recent E. coli episodes have again prompted discussion of wider use of irradiation, a major change isn't likely unless the produce industry's troubles continue, she said. "I suspect it's going to take a few more outbreaks," she said.



Benny Peiser gives his personal view of global warming -- and says that the politicians have painted themselves into a corner with their panic rhetoric

Peiser believes the lack of a practical short-term solution means that policymakers should be trying to tone down the current climate change discourse and prepare citizens for the long haul. "You have to say, 'Okay, these are the challenges, these are the issues, we won't be able to do it in the short-term but in the long-term we might'." Currently, however, the discourse in the UK is heading in precisely the opposite direction. Earlier this month Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, criticised politicians, environmental groups and the media for talking about the potential impacts of climate change in catastrophic terms (LTT 16 Nov). Peiser has been making this point for some time and sees a strong cultural dimension to the alarmist discourse. "The emergence of environmental apocalypticism is perhaps the most significant ideological development in the western world since the demise of Marxism," he says.

He acknowledges that his technological approach is at odds with the more alarmist predictions. "If I were to counsel people to take this more long-term perspective they would say 'You underestimate the severity of the problem and that we're facing Armageddon now'," he says. "I personally think this kind of hype is unhelpful. This is not the first time in history that a population has been stirred up, become very emotional to the point of near hysteria over an issue. It's very, very poisonous for a rational policy-making process when emotions are so high and people stop pondering and weighing different options. Whenever the end is nigh, the solutions are worse than the malady."

Trapped by rhetoric

Peiser says the catastrophic emphasis in climate change discourse has been stoked by all three of Britain's main political parties because each is desperate to capture the 'green' vote. "The Conservatives are now greener than the Greens," he laughs. "From a policy perspective it is a situation where you can only lose because any government, whether it is Labour or the Conservatives, will be faced with the reality that their policies don't match the rhetoric," he says. "Tony Blair has made climate change top of the agenda but actually hasn't done anything to bring down emissions." "Where does that leave policy-makers?" asks Peiser. "It leaves them looking very exposed. But that's the price you pay for exaggerating a risk that you actually cannot address." Politicians, he says, "have cornered themselves". "They have dug themselves into such a hole that there is no way out. There is currently no way out of this hole for any British party."

Peiser says the tensions between the rhetoric and the reality are now becoming apparent. He cites the pressure that the Government is facing from over 400 MPs and Friends of the Earth to include annual carbon dioxide reduction targets in the Climate Change Bill. "If you want to sacrifice the British economy then please include annual targets in the legislation," he says." But politicians should be very honest about that and say, 'You want to save the planet? Okay, but don't come and complain about unemployment, rising energy prices and industries simply relocating to other parts of the world where they are taking a different approach'."

"[Chancellor] Gordon Brown knows that it is impossible to realise annual targets," says Peiser. "But once you actually hype up the problem of climate change and then say, 'Hold on, we cannot reduce CO2 year-on-year,' you look very bad. You look like someone who doesn't take the problem seriously. So that is the problem for any policy-maker: you exaggerate the threat and then you don't follow it up because you can't. You will be found out as a hypocrite. And that's what this Government looks like."

Runways and roads

Transport policy will give the Government particular problems, Peiser believes. "The Government will find itself in an increasingly difficult situation to legitimise spending money on any road improvements and any airport expansions," he says." Unless you actually do what the green campaigners say and make flying a luxury for the rich you will have an increase in air flights. The same is true for traffic on the roads. So the Government is faced with a conundrum."

Surprisingly, Peiser actually praises environmental commentator George Monbiot who, following the Stern Review, called for the road and airport expansion programmes to be scrapped, and even out-of-town shopping centres to be closed in the longer term (LTT 2 Nov). "George Monbiot is spot on as far as I'm concerned," says Peiser. "He's the only person who is actually consistent. He says 'Listen to the science, we've got ten years to solve this problem, otherwise it's too late. That means the complete halt of road expansion, airport expansion, a reduction of road traffic - make it more expensive, tax left, right and centre'." Peiser, of course, disputes the foundation of Monbiot's argument. "I question the disaster scenarios. That's why I say I have no problems with expanding a few airports because I don't think they're going to cause our civilisation to collapse."....

Perhaps nowhere are the tensions between the climate change and economic agendas more apparent than in the media. The Guardian and Independent newspapers have been among the most prominent in reporting and commenting on the threats that climate change could present, with both giving extensive coverage to the more alarming predictions. Yet, at the same time, both papers carry reader travel offers to far-away destinations and adverts for cars, cheap flights and energy-intensive consumer products.

"The problem with the Guardian and the Independent is that if they took the climate change threat seriously, they would stop advertising all the trappings of the 'good life'," says Peiser. "They would stop all ads for cars and all ads for holidays. If we really are facing disaster and collapse, why are they then profiting from all the companies and all the industries they blame for this?"

"In reality, the newspapers contribute to the problem perhaps just as much as the car industry, oil industry or any other, because they are promoting the lifestyles. They are the ones who are promoting and encouraging people to go on holiday and to fly and to use flashy cars - that's the ads they place for their readers." "They're claiming the 'End is nigh' but 'Look at this flashy car', 'Look at this cheap flight to Spain'. What signals are they sending out?"

Peiser says the contradictions simply illustrate our reliance on fossil fuels. "Without advertising the Guardian and Independent wouldn't survive. The problem for any person and any institution is that you can't actually drop out [of the carbon economy]."...

Chancellor Gordon Brown is expected to announce tax increases on motoring and air travel in next week's pre-Budget statement and is likely to cite concern about climate change as a key justification for doing so. But Peiser believes that, though the public is undoubtedly concerned about climate change, many people will not be prepared to accept the pain associated with the measures to tackle the problem.

He points to the "field day" that the tabloid newspapers had with the leaked memo from environment secretary David Miliband urging the Chancellor to make motoring and air travel more expensive (LTT 2 Nov). "The Daily Mirror had a comment column saying: 'Thank God there are still scientists who think this whole climate change thing is nonsense'," he says.

"So would you believe it, if policy goes against people's own interest then they start asking questions. As long as it's free everyone wants to be seen to be green and everyone is green. But once people start to feel the pain, they will start wondering, 'Hold on, is that actually right?'" Similarly, Peiser believes the idea of personal carbon rationing (championed by commentators such as Mayer Hillman and George Monbiot, and even floated by Miliband) is politically impractical. "Let's go back to rationing and see how long the Government survives," says Peiser. "Good luck to them. It's political suicide even to attempt it unless other countries are doing the same thing. People in Britain would realise that their living standards are going down while other countries' living standards are going up."

More here

New Australian Leftist leader ignores the Greens

Kevin Rudd has infuriated green groups by shutting them out of a key national environment debate, the formation of Labor's Tasmanian forest policy, and pledging strong support for the island state's forest industry. In one of his biggest policy moves since assuming the Labor leadership, Mr Rudd has rejected the party's previous position on Tasmanian forests and backed existing deals between the Howard Government and the pro-logging Lennon Government. Stopping in Tasmania on his national "listening" tour, Mr Rudd declared that former Labor leader Mark Latham had got it wrong with his pledge on forestry conservation before the 2004 election - which was blamed for Labor losing two seats. In rejecting the Latham policy, Mr Rudd confirmed that there was no place for the conservation movement in shaping Labor's new policy on Tasmania's forests.

Green groups reacted angrily, with the Wilderness Society saying Mr Rudd had paved the way for a sell-out on forests. Mr Rudd also came under fire from Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown and conservationists for not taking new Labor environment spokesman Peter Garrett with him on his trip to Tasmania.

But the local forest industry warmly welcomed Mr Rudd's pledge to support the existing Regional Forests Agreement and Community Forests Agreement, negotiated between the state and the Howard Government. Mr Rudd's statement on forests came days after he pledged to push for relaxation of Labor's restrictive policy on uranium mining - a move that has put him at odds with Mr Garrett.

On Tasmanian forests, Mr Rudd said Labor's guiding principle was that it wanted to see a long-term sustainable industry, based on three pillars:

* Close consultation with the State Government, unions and forest industries.
* No overall loss of jobs.
* Consultation with the State Government over conservation and protection of old growth forest areas.

Mr Rudd said he was in Tasmania to listen carefully to local communities, but confirmed that he had spoken to no-one in the forest industry on his visit. He said he would talk to the conservation movement from time to time. "But when it comes to the architecture of our forests policy here in Tasmania, it is as I've described before, based on those three principles and two sets of agreements which we support." Labor's loss of two seats in Tasmania at the last election, Bass and Braddon, was attributed to Mr Latham's $800 million package that would have secured [locked up] nearly all remaining contested old growth areas.

Industry and unions instead backed the more modest Howard conservation package in what was widely portrayed as a poll-eve political coup by the Prime Minister. Mr Rudd followed his predecessor, Kim Beazley, in distancing himself from the Latham policy. "Labor got it wrong. Part of the reason it got it wrong was that it didn't listen to the local community," he said.

His statement yesterday was welcomed by the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania. "We support and endorse the approach that Kevin Rudd has outlined," said executive director Terry Edwards.

The conservation movement, which has fought for more than 20 years for the protection of the state's old growth forests, came out swinging. "The policy Kevin Rudd is set to adopt is the one endorsed by the Lennon Labor Government which is destroying our forests," said the Wilderness Society's campaigns manager, Geoff Law. "It is desperately ironic that it comes almost 20 years to the day after Peter Garrett came to the Lemonthyme forest in Tasmania, and stood beside Bob Brown and said these forests must be saved."

The Australian Conservation Foundation said it was surprised that Mr Rudd was closing doors during a "listening" tour. "I think he should be certainly talking to the wide range of environmental stakeholders to get a full picture of issues as complex as these," said Matt Ruchel, Manager of Land and Water for the ACF.

Mr Rudd deflected questions about Mr Garrett, the former rock star and ACF head who now holds the Climate Change and Environment portfolio on Labor's front bench. In 2004, Mr Garrett described the Tasmanian timber industry as logging gone mad and carnage in the forests. Mr Rudd said that he was now leader of the party, and Mr Garrett had a job to do on climate change. Mr Rudd was speaking on a visit to bushfire-ravaged areas of Tasmania's east coast, where he said he had seen no indication of any gaps in the federal response to the fires. The main east coast fire has burned more than 20 homes and 25,000 hectares of land.



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

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

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


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

British energy survey reveals gap between attitudes and action

The Electricity Policy Research Group (EPRG) at the University of Cambridge commissioned YouGov to survey 1000 UK residents on issues ranging from the future of the electricity supply to their current purchasing decisions. While climate change concerns are voiced most strongly among the young, Liberal Democrat voters and Guardian/Independent readers, these attitudes are not translated into personal action. The poll showed, for example, that Guardian/Independent readers are no more likely to have taken any specific energy saving actions than tabloid readers, and are actually less likely to have insulated their homes.

Paradoxically, older people who are least concerned with climate change are also far more likely to have taken concrete action to save energy, including buying energy efficient light bulbs, insulating their homes and lowering their thermostats.

The survey also revealed that while half of the respondents had changed electric or gas suppliers in the past five years, 90% cited reasons of price and just 4% claimed greener energy as the reason they switched.

The EPRG report ranked environment and fuel prices among the top ten issues facing the UK and placed climate change as the top environmental concern. The poll discovered significant support for investing in renewable energy, with over two-thirds of respondents saying they would support wind farms even if situated in their own locality.

Roughly half of the people surveyed supported the building of new nuclear power stations, provided they were based on existing sites. Surprisingly, one-third supported the establishment of new sites around the country.

Coal-power was considered the least popular energy option, although opinions improved when those surveyed learnt more about developments in carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies.

Dr David Reiner, Course Director of the MPhil in Technology Policy at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and author of the report, said: "There is a real engagement among the British public on questions of energy and environment, particularly over climate change. There is a willingness to support government policies, but even those groups that are the strongest supporters of policy action do not translate this support into their personal energy saving behaviour. They show a clear divergence between their views as citizens and their actions as consumers."



(Holden is the Australian tentacle of General Motors. Their biggest-selling model is the Commodore, available as a straight six or a V8)

Australians bought a record number of V8-engined cars last month despite growing fears of global warming and uncertainty over petrol prices. One in four Commodores and Statesman/Caprices sold in November had a 5.7-litre V8 under the bonnet. As a percentage of total Holden sales, it was the highest number of V8-engined cars sold since the company began keeping reliable records in 1991. Holden spokesman Philip Brook said V8s usually made up less than 20 per cent of sales. More than 1440 V8-powered cars were sold by dealers last month -- the highest number sold since 2002.

"It's certainly something we're happy about and those figures are driven by private sales, because fleets don't tend to buy V8s," Mr Brook said. "They're not designed to be just basic transport. If you love driving, the V8 is the sort of car you'll be attracted to." Holden also believes the fuel price issue has died off in the past few months. "The sort of customers who buy V8s are a bit less price sensitive, both with the price of the car they are buying and the running costs, but people have also got used to payingover $1 a litre for fuel," Mr Brook said.

Josh Budd, 26, of Bellevue Hill, bought a new HSV R8 ClubSport last week. "It's the Aussie way - buying a big V8," he said. "I love the sound, the look and the performance I've always loved Bathurst and the whole V8 thing."

It's a similar story at Ford Performance Vehicles, the majority of which are powered by V8 engines. The company smashed its all-time annual sales record in November, with a month left to set a new mark.



(As America's more market-driven economy shifts manufacturing to China -- where global warming concerns don't apply, apparently)

Climate-change activists and Democrats on Capitol Hill are gearing up to push the U.S. to limit so-called greenhouse gases. In their telling, America must save mankind from an eco-Apocalypse by adopting the arbitrary targets popular with Europe and other Kyoto Protocol signatories. Well, let's look at results in the real world, as opposed to this Kyoto spin. Recent data show that placing artificial limits on emissions not only fails to make the world cleaner, it is also counterproductive, even on the environmentalists' own grounds. Contrary to caricature, the American approach offers more promise than the European one.

As the nearby chart shows, CO2 emissions growth in the U.S. far outpaced that of the 15 "old" members of the European Union from 1990-95 and especially from 1995-2000, when Mr. Climate Change himself, Al Gore, was the second-most powerful man in America. But, lo, the U.S. has outperformed the EU-15 since 2000, according to the latest U.N. data. America's rate of growth in CO2 emissions from 2000-04 was eight percentage points lower than from 1995-2000. By comparison, the EU-15 saw an increase of 2.3 points.

As far as individual EU states go, only two, Britain and Sweden, are on track to meet their Kyoto emissions commitments by 2010. Six more might meet their targets if they approve and implement new, as yet unspecified, policies to restrict carbon output, while seven of the 15 will miss their goals.

Cynics play down America's improvement, noting that its economy cooled from the earlier years to 2000-04. True, but the EU-15 also had lower economic growth in the latest period and still saw its emissions growth rate double. What's more, the U.S. economy expanded 38% faster than the EU-15 in 2000-04, and its population twice as fast. So the trend lines, for now, are reversing. That may make the green lobby choke on its alfalfa wrap, because its fund raising depends on vilifying the U.S. But facts are facts, no matter how underreported they are.

Europe's dismal record is explained by its approach to reducing emissions. The centerpiece of the Continent's plan is a carbon-trading scheme in which companies in CO2-heavy industries receive tradable permits for a certain amount of emissions. If they emit more CO2, they must buy credits from firms that are under quota. The idea is to force companies to emit less CO2 by making it prohibitively expensive to keep the status quo.

All this scheme has done so far is provide further proof that government cannot replicate the wisdom of markets. A red-faced European Commission recently admitted that it allowed more permits than there were emissions in 2005-07, keeping permit prices low and undermining the entire system. When Brussels tried to make amends by ordering several member states to cut carbon permits by 7% more than expected for 2008-2012, industry and national capitals squealed. The market hadn't priced in such a dramatic reduction. With carbon permits trading relatively cheaply, firms have been able to get by with minimal changes to the way they do business. That has minimized Kyoto's economic impact.

Once the supply of permits is more in line with the eurocrats' ambitious environmental goals, though, expect European industry to take a big hit. The number of firms moving manufacturing work to countries without emissions caps, such as China and India, will only grow. That might make Europe's emissions data look good, but it will have zero net effect on world's production of greenhouse gases.

Some companies may elect to purchase cleaner equipment, but the rising cost of compliance -- i.e., buying more carbon permits at higher prices once the supply is slashed -- will eat into the money available for developing the next generation of clean technology. In short, Europe offers no magic solution for capping greenhouse gases.

America may even have a few things to teach the Old World. The U.S. strategy has been to keep economic growth strong and provide incentives for private industry to develop cleaner technologies. For instance, the Bush Administration has granted $1 billion in tax credits for nine new coal-fired power plants that will double efficiency and reduce pollution compared with older generations. China is picking up on these tactics. This year it bought $58 million in machines from Caterpillar Inc. that trap methane in coal mines and use it to power electric generators.

If global-warming activists were as interested in lowering air temperatures as they are in expanding the role of the state, they'd understand that the key to reducing emissions lies in unleashing the private sector, not capping it. That's the real lesson from the policies -- and the results -- in Europe and the U.S.

Wall Street Journal, 14 December 2006

Solar Global Warming

I have reproduced the rather colourful post below from Hall of Record

I've had some communication with Dr. Tim Patterson of Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Patterson is among a growing number of scientists from various fields who have a minority view about global warming: climate change is ongoing and primarily driven by solar activity and some apparent increases in temperature can be linked directly to urbanization.

Part of his argument with those who claim atmospheric carbon dioxide is driving climate change (i.e. global warming) is that the geological record does not support that contention. Carbon dioxide is about 2-3% of the so-called "greenhouse" gases in our atmosphere. Water vapor comprises pretty much the rest of this greenhouse gas. Any increase in carbon dioxide will have a minuscule impact on overall climate and, indeed, over millions of years the concentration of carbon dioxide has been significantly higher... even when global temperatures were colder... during ice ages. Dr. Patterson is not arguing that global warming isn't happening, just that popular wisdom has the wrong drivers of this phenomenon.

I have had online conversations with some, including one person who claimed that Dr. Patterson and anyone like him were "mouthpieces of the coal industry." Actually, Dr. Patterson is far removed from the coal industry. Most of his research is geological and paleontological in nature. Although not the primary focus of his work, by using sedimentary deposits from the ocean floor, he provides a wonderful history of earth's biology directly related to climate changes in some of his work.


My research program is presently concentrated on the use of foraminifera to identify: neotectonic and paleo sea levels; paleoceanographic phenomena on the coastal regions of Canada; strategic significance of natural variability in NE Pacific fish populations; the further development of arcellacea as a new class of paleolimnological indicators; and whether the methods of complex systems are applicable in the study of evolutionary phenomena.

For those who fear global warming caused by increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, I suggest that you plow your way through just two of Dr. Patterson's publications in Adobe format: Late Holocene sedimentary response to solar and cosmic ray activity influenced climate variability in the NE Pacific and Application of Wavelet and Regression Analysis in Assessing Temporal and Geographic Climate Variability: Eastern Ontario, Canada as a Case Study.

Of course, the titles alone may discourage some of you so I will provide summary extracts that may bring out the important points:
Marine-laminated sediments along the NE Pacific coast (Effingham inlet, Vancouver Island) provide an archive of climate variability at annual to millennial scales. A 7.75-m portion of piston core TUL99B-03 was deposited during a ~3045-year interval [~1440–4485 years before present (yBP)] under primarily anoxic conditions. Darker clay laminae were deposited under higher precipitation conditions in winter, and diatom-dominated laminae were laid down when marine productivity was higher in the spring through autumn.

Wavelet transform and other time-series analysis methods were applied to sediment color (i.e. gray-scale values) line-scans obtained from X-ray images and compared with global records of cosmogenic nuclides 14C and 10Be, as well as the Ice Drift Index (hematite-stained grains) record to detect cycles, trends, and nonstationarities in the climate and sedimentary pattern. Our results show that the marine sedimentary record in the NE Pacific responded to abrupt changes and long-term variability in climate that can be linked to external forcing (e.g., solar and cosmic irradiance). Specifically, a strong cooling in the NE Pacific at ~3550F160 yBP can be correlated to a weakening of high-frequency (50–150 years) pulses in sun activity at the Gleissberg cycle band, similar to what occurred at the onset of the Little Ice Age at ~1630 AD.

Three intervals of unusually low sun activity at ~2350, 2750, and ~3350 yBP are characterized by thick, clay-rich annual sedimentation that we interpret as representative of unusually wet conditions. These intervals of higher precipitation conditions may have been related to a regional intensification of the Aleutian Low (AL) caused by an eastward migration of the Center of Action (COA) of the AL, which occurs during intervals of solar minima. Dryer conditions in the region occur when the COA of AL migrates westward and the COA of the North Pacific High (NPH) migrates northward during intervals of solar maxima. A cyclicity of 50–85, 33–36, and 22–29 years in the sediment color record, lamination thickness, and 14C cosmogenic nuclide, characterized the relatively warm interval from 3550 to 4485 yBP. This record is similar to that of present-day low- and highfrequency variants of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Aleutian Low.

2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
as well as...
Our research results indicate that a significant portion of the long-term temperature record in the annual and multidecadal spectrum in urban Ottawa is a result of episodic urbanization (i.e., heat island effects). Analysis of normalized monthly temperature records from three stations in eastern Canada indicates that there was: (a) no significant temperature increase outside the urban Ottawa area during the last century, and (b) most of the interannual variability in the urban and rural areas could be related to non-periodic natural fluctuations.
Also see this.


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

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

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


Monday, December 18, 2006


But Greenies won't like it because it won't hurt anybody or send us back to the caves

In the summer blockbuster of 1998, Armageddon, Bruce Willis led a crew of courageous malcontents on a space expedition to destroy an asteroid on a collision course with the Earth. The movie is science fiction, of course, but the concept that man could employ technology to avert such a natural disaster is anything but fantasy. Research is underway on several fronts to prepare to deflect our inevitable appointment with an asteroid.

This summer's catastrophe movie, An Inconvenient Truth, casts man as villain rather than problem solver. However, if one accepts the premise Al Gore promotes in the film--that disasters are just around the corner as a consequence of industrialization--one must wonder: Where are the technological knights in shining armor?

Enter Dr. Gregory Benford, a science fiction author and physicist on the faculty of the University of California at Irvine Department of Physics and Astronomy. Benford has been an advisor for NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the White House Council on Space Policy. At the June 2006 Skeptics Society conference at the California Institute of Technology, Benford, with this reporter in attendance, proposed a plan to shield the Earth from the sun's radiation--controlling the climate on purpose instead of by accident.

Benford's proposal involves suspending thousands of one-micron particles high in the stratosphere (approximately 82,000 feet above the Earth) to reflect solar radiation. Benford formulated the plan with colleagues from Stanford University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Benford's widely publicized January 21, 2005 San Diego Union-Tribune article with Martin Hoffert, "Fear of Reason," criticized Michael Crichton's climate contrarian novel State of Fear on several fronts. That led to expectations Benford might use the Skeptics address to promote plans for limiting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Instead, he came out swinging in the other direction, suggesting drastic limits on fossil fuel combustion intended to stabilize atmospheric CO2 were not likely to be adhered to and were undesirable.

Benford dismissed as unrealistic the possibility that alternative forms of energy could supplement nuclear power to meet the world's foreseeable energy needs for the next 50 years. He acknowledged the possibility that people may be able to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester or store it underground in porous rock formations, but said he sees more promise in the unexplored frontier of directly managing solar radiation.

First, Benford revisited a plan he had suggested earlier to control solar radiation by placing a 1000-kilometer-wide mylar lens between the Earth and sun. But Benford's newest idea is even simpler: Creating a particulate shield that takes advantage of the same kind of modeled climate responses to relatively minor changes in atmospheric composition that are driving belief in manmade climate change in the first place.

The cooling effect of atmospheric sulphate aerosols has led many climate modelers to suggest these particles have been counteracting global warming. Despite much research supporting this cooling effect, global warming alarmists have downplayed the suggestion that this knowledge could be employed usefully. Stephen Schwartz, an atmospheric chemist at Brookhaven National Labs, said, "This is an attractive thought, but it cannot work in the long run because aerosols are so short-lived in the atmosphere, whereas greenhouse gases accumulate over time."

But Benford and his scientific team, expanding on research suggesting a significant albedo, or reflection, effect of one-micron sulphates, suggest lofting a shield of designer particles--one possibility being diatomaceous earth, commonly mined for filtration and pest control--crushed uniformly to the requisite particle size. Benford suggests the shield could be deliberately fashioned to increase solar reflection in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum, thus limiting warming and the potentially harmful effects of UV radiation on plants and animals while maintaining the wavelengths beneficial to photosynthesis. By choosing the right particles and height in the atmosphere, the principal downside of sulphate aerosols--acid rain--can be avoided, Benford maintains. Dispersing the shield in the stratosphere would place it largely above the water vapor cycle.

Benford thinks the shield could be established and maintained for the relatively paltry sum of a billion dollars a year. If so, direct management of solar radiation could accomplish an order of magnitude more than the Kyoto treaty while costing several hundred times less.

Benford proposes testing the idea with a relatively small-scale experiment over the Arctic, where he believes stratospheric circulation patterns would confine a first deposition of particles, allowing their effect to be carefully studied. Some financially capable sources were sufficiently impressed by the presentation in Pasadena to approach Benford to discuss funding the research, according to Dr. Michael Shermer, the conference host and publisher of Skeptic magazine.

A great deal of research must be conducted before Benford's idea could be implemented if it should prove to be feasible. Nevertheless, his supporters assert, if there truly is an impending climate change problem, why not investigate means to fix it directly and in a manner that does not severely punish world economies?

Benford does not foreswear some Earth-based strategies--such as making roads and buildings in lighter colors to reflect more solar radiation--or discount the value of energy efficiency and improved alternatives to fossil fuels. But he is convinced by energy demographics that, rather than limit fossil fuel consumption, we should have near-term technologies on the shelf to shield the world from severe warming should any of the worst-case scenarios actually appear likely.



A simple sea creature could help to address the problem of global warming, a scientist claims. Tiny tube-like salps mop up greenhouse gases by feasting on carbon-dioxide-soaked algae from the oceans. The US researcher told an American Geophysical Union meeting of his plans to adjust nutrient levels in the ocean to boost the sea animal's populations. But other scientists warned of the unknown consequences of meddling with the ocean's complex ecosystem.

The salp is a transparent hollow tube, no bigger than an unshelled peanut, that swims around vacuuming up microscopic plants. Because it is efficient in sucking up marine algae that have absorbed dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2), the salp is seen by one scientist as the key to sequestering excess atmospheric gas to the ocean bottom. "It's just a feeding tube," said Phil Kithil, CEO of Atmocean Inc, a private research firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "It eats at one end and excretes at the other." The solid carbon pellet that emerges from the salp sinks and dissolves deep enough in the ocean to be effectively taken out of the carbon cycle.

Mr Kithil wants to increase the algae-eating salp population in the world's oceans by boosting its food supply. He proposes to bring deep-water nutrients to the surface with arrays of wave-activated pumps. With an infusion of nutrients, the algae bloom would mushroom, according to the untested proposal, and absorb mass quantities of dissolved CO2, before being eaten and excreted by salps.

The speculative idea includes releasing thousands of coiled pumps that un-spool when they hit water, extending like organ pipes. Each pump consists of a flexible tube, up to 1,000m in length, which would draw cold, nutrient-rich water to the ocean surface. Mr Kithil estimates 1,340 pump arrays, each consisting of 100,000 tethered pumps over 100,000 sq km, could sequester nearly a third of manmade CO2 annually.

So far, the pumps have only been tested for proof of concept. Next summer, in an experiment with 25 pumps off the coast of Bermuda, Mr Kithil will see whether he can actually increase algal blooms and lure salps to feed. Mr Kithil's idea falls under the umbrella of geoengineering - a diverse and growing collection of proposals, mostly untested, to employ large-scale engineering solutions to the planet in an attempt to restore its energy balance.

But some climate scientists warn the possible side-effects of tinkering with the Earth's climate do not justify the risk. [Yet tinkering with the earth's climate is exactly what THEY want to do!] "The ocean is such an alien system for us to be tinkering with based on the current level of science," said Jim Bishop, a bio-geochemist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "We don't understand the ecosystem dynamics well enough to predict what will happen.

Biologist Larry Madin at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has previously highlighted salps' CO2 mopping abilities. But as a cure for global warming, "it's just not that simple," he told the BBC. "You can't count on the fact that these organisms will show up." Salps grow in some places and not in others, Dr Madin explained. "It's easy enough to add nutrients and make things grow faster," he said, "but the next step is harder - to try controlling what happens to larger more complex animals with more complicated life cycles."



I called my idea crop residue sequestering, or CRS, and I admit it sounded crazy, almost too easy - even to me. But as I learned when I surveyed the landscape of ideas, CRS is tame compared to many of the schemes to reduce global warming that have been proposed by scientists and amateurs alike.

The folks making these proposals fall into two broad categories. Some, the ecoengineers, want to tweak a naturally occurring process to remove carbon; and some seek ways to alter the heat balance of the planet - I call them geoengineers.

The classic tweaking approach involves fertilizing the ocean to increase phytoplankton growth, which in turn pulls more CO2 out of the atmosphere to feed the floral bloom. Other approaches can be as simple as growing more trees or as complicated as using chemical and biological scrubbers to cut down the CO2 before it escapes from chimneys. All these schemes have a common element: sequestration. A few plans call for dumping the carbon beneath depleted gas and oil fields or inside salt domes, but the most popular dumping site is the bottom of the ocean...

This raised a question: Generally speaking, is it more efficient to sequester CO2 before it enters the atmosphere, or is better to release it, let the global carbon cycle remove half of it, and then use a process like CRS to remove a portion of the CO2 that remains? The answer seemed obvious: Forget about all those methods that collect CO2 as it flies up the world's smokestacks, and concentrate instead on amplifying the global carbon cycle's effect, which is automatic and free of charge. We folded this larger argument into the CRS paper and sent it to the two most widely read and respected journals around, Science and Nature. Our Plan B was the journal Climatic Change.

Science and Nature weren't interested (compared with the detection of extrasolar planets and quantum teleportation, dumping crop residue off the sides of boats isn't very sexy, I guess). Climatic Change bit.

But first there was the peer review that every scientific article must undergo before publication. Here we ran into some problems. We were not told that our idea was crackpot fantasy - the peer review process is far too genteel for that. Instead we were informed that "this is a creative concept that might eventually yield an interesting paper - the current paper is not yet there. It needs much more thought." And as for our epiphany that, in general, hijacking the global carbon cycle was the best way to rid the world of its excess CO2, we were told that "the authors do not appear to understand the global carbon cycle."

The editor of Climatic Change told us that if we could address the reviewers' concerns, we could resubmit the paper. Fair enough. There were some genuine problems - in particular, we didn't distinguish between organic and inorganic carbon in our discussion of carbon's circuit through the biosphere. The reviewers spent several pages showing why our numbers couldn't possibly be correct, without realizing that we had grouped inorganic and organic carbon together. (This is one of the dangers of being an outsider - we didn't realize that atmospheric scientists generally consider the biosphere to contain only organic carbon.)

We rewrote from scratch. And as we did so, we began to receive not-so-subtle feedback from readers to whom we'd given the paper. One confessed that his first thought was that CRS was fundamentally a bad thing: Because it takes advantage of the global carbon cycle to sequester CO2, it could actually encourage polluters to emit more pollutants, rather than cut down on emissions. Then it slowly dawned on us. We were not fighting a technical battle so much as a moral one.

It was a battle I ultimately lost. To satisfy the reviewers, who held the keys to the atmospheric science kingdom, I cut out the larger implication that ecohacking is inherently more efficient than trying to sequester carbon at its source - though the CRS concept itself made it through the peer review process. My paper, titled "Sequestering of Atmospheric Carbon Through Permanent Disposal of Crop Residue,"will be published in Climatic Change within the next 12 months. After three long years, I'm part of the club - but I doubt I'll ever really feel like I belong, because even if CRS proves to be a bad idea and not a single bale of crop residue ever gets tossed off a boat, I will always believe that hacking the carbon cycle is our only real chance of fixing this global-warming mess.

More here

My first reaction was that crop waste would float to the surface, but if it is tightly baled, I guess it would not

Yet another wrong guess in the conventional climate models

Climatologists believe the Southern Ocean may slow the rate of global warming by absorbing significantly more heat and carbon dioxide than previously thought. The new study, appearing in the Journal of Climate, notes that westerly winds in the Southern Hemisphere have moved southward over the last 30 years. As the winds shift south, they can do a better job of transferring heat and carbon dioxide from the surface waters surrounding Antarctica into the deeper, colder waters, say the researchers.

Lead researcher, Joellen L. Russell, stressed that the effect won't reverse or stop global warming, but will slow it. She noted that previous models of the Southern Hemisphere westerlies and Southern Ocean circulation did not have the winds properly located. In simulations of present-day climate, those models distorted the ocean's response to future increases in greenhouse gases.

The new model does a better job of depicting the location and observed southward shift of the Southern Hemisphere atmospheric winds than do the previous models. Developed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, it shows that the poleward shift of the westerlies intensifies the strength of the winds as they whip past the tip of South America and circumnavigate Antarctica. "It's like a huge blender," Russell explained. "Those winds propel the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The current drives the upwelling of cold water from more than two miles deep. The heavy, cold water comes to the surface and then sinks back down, carrying the carbon dioxide and heat with it."

The poleward intensification of the westerlies will allow the ocean to remove additional heat and anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. "Because these winds have moved poleward, the Southern Ocean around Antarctica is likely to take up 20 percent more carbon dioxide than in a model where the winds are poorly located," said Russell, an assistant professor of geosciences at The University of Arizona in Tucson. "More heat stored in the ocean means less heat stored in the atmosphere. That's also true for carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas."

While a slowing of the planet's warming is welcome news, there is widespread concern at what effect raised CO2 levels will have on marine ecosystems. Adding more CO2 to the oceans will change their chemistry, making the water more acidic and less habitable for some marine organisms. As a next step, the team hopes to contribute to figuring out how warming, ice-melt and ongoing shifts in the Southern Hemisphere westerlies will affect the complex biogeochemistry of the Southern Ocean.



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

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

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


Sunday, December 17, 2006


There's no substitute for nuclear power and coal. No wonder the Greenies hate both

Russia is preparing to cut off natural gas supplies to neighbouring Belarus and Georgia unless the two former Soviet republics agree by the year-end to pay much higher prices in 2007. Coming a year after Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, briefly cut gas to Ukraine in a similar pricing dispute, such a move could provoke further international criticism that Moscow is using energy as a political tool. It might also intensify pressure on Russia to ratify the European Energy Charter treaty, which would require such disagreements to be resolved through arbitration.

Action against Belarus could affect supplies to Poland and Germany since a transit pipeline runs across the republic, though it carries only a third of the volumes running through a bigger export pipeline across Ukraine. Last January, pressure in the trans-Ukrainian pipeline to western Europe dropped as a result of what Gazprom said was Ukraine "stealing" gas for its own use.

Gazprom has made clear it is prepared to reduce price increases in exchange for stakes in the republics' gas distribution networks. It is pushing hard for 50 per cent of Beltransgaz, the Belarusian company that also controls the export pipeline across the country, although Russia and Belarus differ sharply over its value. Dmitry Medvedev, Gazprom chairman and Russia's first deputy prime minister, declined to comment directly to western reporters this week on whether the company was prepared to cut off supplies. But he admitted negotiations were "not easy". "I wouldn't want tensions to arise," he said.

Sergei Kuprianov, a Gazprom spokesman, told a radio station he could not exclude a cut-off to Belarus, although he added: "We would hate to see that." But it is understood Gazprom is preparing for a worst-case scenario if agreements are not reached. Senior Russian officials say the increases are a move away from subsidised supplies for former Soviet republics towards transparent market pricing for all, which Gazprom hopes to achieve by 2008.

While Belarus has been happy to remain in Moscow's orbit, western-leaning Georgia sees the threat as politically motivated. It has seen Russia sever transport and mail links in a feud and portrays the demand to double the price it pays from $110 per thousand cubic metres to $230 - close to European levels - as a matter of more than economics. Georgian officials say that since Georgia's gas is sourced from nearby Central Asia, it should pay less than more distant European customers.

Georgia says it can replace Russian gas with supplies from neighbouring Azerbaijan and from Iran. But as well as trying to raise prices to $230 to Azerbaijan, Russia is reducing its gas exports to the country next year, limiting Azerbaijan's scope to re-export surpluses to Georgia.

The proposed price increase to Belarus is striking since the republic has been a close Russian ally. The fact Gazprom left prices at $47 for Belarus last January while demanding $230 from western-orientated Ukraine was seen as evidence of Russian discrimination. This year, Russia is pushing for a four-fold increase from Belarus to $200. Analysts see the demand as punishment for the failure of Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian Belarus president, to deliver on promises of closer integration with Russia. Mr Lukashenko is pressing for the same price Ukraine has agreed for next year - $130 - but economists say even that could damage the Belarusian economy.



Nice toys for the rich -- thanks to a Leftist government!

One minute the quirky electric cars are as rare as a bobby on the beat. Next minute they are as common as parking wardens - you'd swear there's one on every corner. And in a stroll through highly-fashionable and well-heeled Mayfair in London the Daily Mail spotted all these G-Wiz electric cars - and more.

The reason for the boom is simple - these 'plug and play' cars are exempt from the London Mayor Ken Livingstone's controversial congestion charge of o8 a day - which he wants to increase from 8 pounds a day to 10 - adding a whopping 25 pound levy for the most polluting 'gas-guzzlers.'

Costing from 6,999 pounds, these electric cars have a range of about 40 miles per charge - though you can knock-off 10 miles if you put on the heater in chilly weather. Top speed is a pedestrian 42mph - but fast enough in 30mph and 20mph zones. But fuel efficiency is immense - and equivalent to between 200mpg and 600 miles to the gallon, depending on conditions. Range is about 40 miles before the battery needs a re-charge. But there's another downside - they have all the excitement of a milk-float. Trendy or planet-conscious owners include TV presenter Jonathan Ross and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. It will also get you a free parking permit in Richmond on Thames where council chiefs are cracking down on 'Chelsea Tractor' 4X4s,

Charging your electric car overnight adds around 30p to your electricity bill, giving a fuel cost of under a penny a mile compared to around 15p for the average petrol car. But there are only two on-street chargers in Westminster. So you need off-street parking to juice it up. And there is a sting in the tail - electric cars need new batteries every three years or so, at a cost of around 1,200 pounds. And although they produce no pollutants themselves, electric cars aren't necessarily the greenest vehicles on the road. With normal power from the mains you'll create less carbon dioxide (CO2) the so-called 'greenhouse gas than with a regular car. But the emissions, though lower, are merely displaced to the power station.



What about India's millions of sacred cows? Will the Greenies want to slaughter them next?

India, considered to be one of the world's top polluters, said on Thursday that it was not doing any harm to the world's atmosphere despite increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. Experts say unchecked greenhouse gas emissions could see global temperatures rise by 2-3 degrees Celsius in the next 50 years and could result in devastating climate change.

While India is not required under the Kyoto Protocol to cut emission levels at this stage, experts say its emissions are rising due to its rapid economic development and could become a significant contributor to global warming. But the country's environment minister told parliament India's emissions were insignificant compared to those of richer nations which should take the lead in curbing greenhouse gases. "India is very little in terms of emissions and we are not the biggest polluters when compared to the developed nations," said Environment Minister A. Raja. "We are not doing any harm to the entire world. We are, in spite of the developmental activities taking place in this country, very categorical that our emissions are below three percent which is within limits," he said, referring to India's percentage contribution to total global emissions.

According to a World Bank survey in May, carbon emissions from two of the world's fastest growing economies, China and India, rose steeply over the past decade. India increased carbon dioxide emissions by 33 percent between 1992 and 2002, said the bank's "Little Green Data Book," a survey of mankind's global environmental impact. New Delhi says it must use more energy to lift its population from poverty and that its per-capita emissions are a fraction of those in rich states which have burnt fossil fuels unhindered since the Industrial Revolution.

But environmentalists say India does not need to invest in carbon-intensive industries. "We understand that the country is on a development path and that India still needs to provide energy to much of its population," said K. Srinivas, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace India. "But that doesn't mean we need to rely on primary sources of energy like coal to do that. There are so many other sources of renewable energy which we should be focusing more on."

According to figures from the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, the top five sources of greenhouse gases were the United States, China, Russia, India and Japan. The United States' per-capita greenhouse emissions were 24 tonnes based on 2004 data. China was 4 tonnes and India 2 tonnes based on 2000 data, the secretariat said. India's annual emissions were growing about 2-3 percent, said Srinivas.

The Indian subcontinent is expected to be one of the most seriously affected regions in the world by global warming, which will mean more frequent and more severe natural disasters such as floods and droughts, more disease and poor crop yields. Officials say India is taking steps to use energy more efficiently and is curbing the use of pollutants which harm the atmosphere, but it needs more financial resources and the transfer of new technologies to achieve this.


Australia: A useless "Green" bridge

It's in the middle of the suburbs, it won't take cars and there is little parking at either end of it so whom do they think will use it?

The Eleanor Schonell Bridge will be officially named and opened tomorrow but it already has an interesting history. The 520m cable-stayed bridge deck, which links Brisbane's Dutton Park and St Lucia, is Australia's first dedicated pedestrian, cycle and bus bridge. It will open two months ahead of schedule and $1 million under the original $55 million budget, and was built to ease the stress on the CBD by providing an alternative route to the University of Queensland's St Lucia campus. UQ is 7km from the city and 70,000 vehicles enter the area every day, much of it through the CBD. It is hoped [No harm in hoping -- except to the taxpayer's pocket] many UQ travellers will instead use the bridge.

In July 2004, Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced 69 per cent of Brisbane residents wanted the bridge and four months later, developer John Holland was awarded the contract. Accompanying the opening will be three new bus services, which will be theoretically linked to 120 existing services. The bridge, known as the Green Bridge, has been designed to withstand earthquake, flood, pedestrian-overload and, in the future, light rail.

Its new name honours Dr Eleanor Schonell, a noted teacher, academic and author. The main road from the CBD leading to the campus is named Sir Fred Schonell Drive, after her husband. During the construction, workers also made some significant archaeological finds. About 600 artefacts dating back to the 1870s were uncovered from the area. These included bottles, ink wells, a World War II US Army issue toothbrush, relics from Brisbane cafe society, and platform shoes and paisley shirts. Then two prominent Brisbane poets were provided with historical research and archeological reports from the site excavation to provide inspiration for the poetry that is now embedded on the steel handrails and footpaths.



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

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

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


Saturday, December 16, 2006


The geological record certainly tells us we are overdue for one. And 5,000 years ago the Sahara was green, which is what happens in warm periods, as warmer seas give off more evaporation to fall as rain. Deserts are a feature of ice ages. Article below by Pierre Jutras

Carbon dioxide has been given a bad rap. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol identified carbon dioxide emissions and their effect on global climate as the main environmental threat to tackle. Environmental activists, such as Greenpeace, are also putting most of their energy into defeating the same beast. From a geologist's perspective, however, this could be seen as an interesting paradox. To help explain, here are a few common misconceptions about carbon dioxide and global warming.

1. Carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is, in fact, the "greenest" gas in our atmosphere, and the most essential ingredient for life itself. It has no odour, no colour and no ill effects whatsoever. All it does is nourish life and keep our climate warm. It is the primary and most essential nutrient at the very base of the food chain, as photosynthetic plants, algae and bacteria remove it from the atmosphere and hydrosphere to store it in their tissues. Along with water vapour, it keeps our planet away from the temperature extremes experienced daily by planetary bodies that are devoid of it, such as our own moon.

2. A lot of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere originally came from fossil fuels.

This is also not true. All the carbon that is stored in fossil fuels originally came from the atmosphere and hydrosphere before being stored in organic tissues and carbonate rocks. If there were no processes for sending some of this carbon back to the atmosphere and hydrosphere, the latter reservoirs would long ago have been depleted in carbon due to organic activity, and life would have eventually ceased to exist.

3. High atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are bad for ecosystems.

During life's long history, carbon dioxide levels have been continuously fluctuating, causing alternating periods of global warming (greenhouse ages) and global cooling (ice ages). During greenhouse ages, which are characterized by carbon dioxide levels several times higher than today's, life goes through tremendous expansion and diversification, whereas periods of low carbon dioxide levels, such as today's, are affected by severe extinctions.

4. Global warming will force deserts to increase in size.

The geological record says otherwise, as greenhouse ages are characterized by an absence or quasi-absence of desertic conditions, which are a feature of ice ages.

5. Global warming will cause hurricanes and other atmospheric turbulences to increase in energy and frequency.

Because hurricanes are caused by steep gradients in atmospheric pressure, and therefore temperature, this is very unlikely. A greenhouse Earth is characterized by moist and temperate conditions from the poles to the equator, with a much less significant latitudinal gradient in temperature than exists today.

6. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have never been so high.

In fact, on a geological time scale, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have hardly ever been so low, and ecosystems are suffering greatly because of that. The last time carbon dioxide levels were so low, near the end of the Paleozoic era (about 250 million years ago), the Earth's biosphere went through its greatest extinction, as 90 per cent of Paleozoic species were gone by the beginning of the Mesozoic era (age of the dinosaurs). The last time that life went through a major expansion and diversification was during the Cretaceous period (135 million to 65 million years ago), when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were more than six times those of today. Moreover, when life first started, around 3.8 billion years ago, carbon dioxide levels were hundreds of times higher than today's. Since then, most of the original carbon dioxide content of Earth's primitive atmosphere has been stored in carbonate rocks, coal, oil and gas.

7. We are now in a period of global warming.

This is only true on a short time scale, such as the past 500 years or so. It is already not true at the scale of 5,000 years, when Earth's climate was considerably warmer, and it is certainly not true at the scale of five million years, which takes us out of the current ice age. The main control on large-scale carbon dioxide fluctuations, which ultimately control climatic fluctuations, is plate tectonics. When global plate tectonics are dominated by continental collisions, leading to the formation of supercontinents, the erosional rates of calcium and magnesium from continental crust increase. This leads to an increase in carbonate deposition (limestone and dolostone), which forms the main long-term storage of carbon away from the atmosphere.

Due to this, the formation of the four supercontinents in Earth's history (Arctica, Rodinia, Pangea and today's "Afrikeurasia") was synchronous with the four major ice ages (Eoarchean, Eoproterozoic, late Paleozoic and Quaternary). When plate tectonics are dominated by continental drift, limy sediments are recycled into the Earth's mantle, and much of their carbon content is then sent back to the atmosphere via volcanism. These are times of high carbon dioxide levels, global warming, and life expansion and diversification.

We are now in the middle of the fourth ice age, and biodiversity has been shrinking very rapidly over the past two million years (i.e. since long before the time when anthropogenic activities became meaningful).

Due to orbital cycles, ice ages are affected by regular, second-order climatic fluctuations. We have gone through warm peaks for the three main types of orbital cycles over the past 5,000 years, and all these cycles are now on a cooling trend. It is predicted that ice sheets will start forming again in mid-latitudes in about 3,000 years, and that half of North America and Europe will be covered by kilometres of ice in 5,000 years. Hence, the present warming trend is just a small notch in an otherwise cooling trend.

In a nutshell, we are putting a lot of energy into preventing global warming, whereas the threat of global cooling should perhaps be our main concern. Who knows, maybe one day we will burn fossil fuels for the sole purpose of preventing global cooling. Geological history has proven that ecosystems thrive better with a higher carbon dioxide budget. Yet, we are trying really hard to keep them in their present state of starvation.

Is the current trend of global warming a good thing? Not necessarily. There are two sides to every coin. If there are winners, there are bound to be losers, too. For example, polar bears would have to drastically change their lifestyle on a greenhouse Earth.

We need, therefore, to better evaluate the general outcome of global cooling versus status quo, and versus global warming, before making drastic moves such as the Kyoto Protocol. The geological record states quite clearly that global warming is best for ecosystems in general, but what about humans specifically?

Because we rely so much on agricultural production, chances are that mostly good would come from global warming, as it would increase agricultural productivity in mid to high latitudes.

Yet, one major concern that remains is the rate of temperature increase. Changes that are too rapid can be harmful to ecosystems, even if they head in the right direction. However, it is the tendency of humanity to look at any change as intrinsically bad. There is this ingrained biblical attitude and belief that the Earth was a static Garden of Eden before humans came to mess it up. In fact, the Earth is always changing, has always been changing, and always will be changing. It is better to adapt to changes and try to mould them to our benefit, than to hopelessly try to maintain things in a static state.

For mankind, the main ill effect of global warming is the accompanying rise in sea level that is caused by the gradual melting and shrinking of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets. The transition from an ice age to a greenhouse age forces ecosystems to migrate inland and toward higher latitudes. If the rate is reasonable, they do this effortlessly.

However, this would cause major civil engineering problems for concrete monsters such as New York City, which cannot migrate as readily. This is, of course, a major concern and the main reason why decision makers usually view environmental changes as negative. For example, billions of dollars have been spent on trying to stabilize the Mississippi Delta, a naturally unstable system, just to make sure that cities like New Orleans maintain a controlled waterway and do not find themselves, instead, in the path of this continuously shifting waterway. When the people of Greenpeace rail against global warming, are they really concerned with the future of these concrete monsters? Is the global warming problem really a "green" concern?

I offer this message to environmentalists: Please, leave the carbon dioxide and global warming problem to urban and economic planners, and deal with real atmospheric pollutants instead, such as carbon monoxide, aerosols, chlorofluorocarbons, tropospheric ozone, volatile organic compounds and sulphur oxides.


Pierre Jutras is an associate professor of geology at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada.


Severe flood warnings were the order of the day in Scotland yesterday as more than 40 days of gales and rain showed little sign of letting up. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency said that there was "serious danger to life and property" from the rivers Lyon and Tay in Perthshire, and the River Teith at Callander. There were also nine flood warnings and twenty-two flood watches in place elsewhere.

Scotland has suffered the wettest November on record, and there is more bad weather to come. Worst hit has been Glasgow, which has endured the highest levels of rainfall on record since the First World War. The city recorded 342mm of rain last month, double the expected average, while Scotland was drenched by 244mm of rain, significantly higher than the average 166mm November total.

Continuing torrential downpours have already delivered 141.5mm of rain this month, about 91 per cent of the total average for December. The outlook for this week continues to be poor for the West Coast and Central Belt, with up to 40mm of rain expected in some parts. The Highlands and the Northern Isles will be hit by 80mph gales. A Met Office spokesman said: "It has rained every day in Scotland for more than 40 days and so far every day in December has brought wet weather. It's not going to get any better."



The article below if from the deep-green "Independent" of London

It's a word that's been generating a steady, background hum in the scientific community for decades now. And the glow of hope emanating from the word "thorium" is now burning brighter than ever. Is this element really the nuclear fuel of the future? Is it really - as some are claiming - cleaner, greener and safer than its scarcer cousin uranium? One thing's for sure: there are massive reserves of thorium throughout the world, and if the power that represents could be harnessed, it could keep us in energy-saving light bulbs for thousands of years to come. So why aren't governments investing in the technology needed to make that potential a reality?

Over the past year, Professor Egil Lillestol of the Institute of Physics and Technology at the University of Bergen, has been attempting to convince the world that nuclear reactors fuelled by thorium could be the answer to the world's energy problems. If we accept that we need alternatives to the CO2-belching fossil fuels, then, Lillestol says: "We all have to do whatever we can to reduce the consumption of energy and to develop solar and wind energy. These are, currently, the only two sources that can give us substantial amounts of renewable energy, but unfortunately far from enough."

Lillestol believes that nuclear power is the only solution. But nuclear power has a bad reputation. The public remembers the disasters all too well, from the Sellafield fire of 1957 to Chernobyl's meltdown in 1986. We are frightened, too, by the prospect of waste from spent fuel rods that remain lethally radioactive for many thousands of years. If that's not nasty enough, some nuclear waste can also be reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium. The processing of plutonium for re-use as fuel for reactors is difficult and consequently much of the waste is left to build in weapons-grade stockpiles that could pose a serious security threat were some to fall into the wrong hands.

But according to some, including Lillestol, thorium - a silvery white metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder - could solve all these problems. As Lillestol points out, thorium is "three times more abundant than uranium in the earth's crust, and produces 250 times more energy per unit of weight than uranium in the present reactors". Unlike a uranium reactor, a thorium power station would produce no plutonium. Consequently, the waste produced from burning thorium in a reactor would not be such a security risk if it fell into the wrong hands, and the spent fuel rods are dramatically less radioactive than conventional nuclear waste. Dr Paul Norman of the University of Birmingham's Physics department talks in terms of "hundreds of years of radioactivity as opposed to thousands".

Furthermore, thorium requires an accelerator-driven system (or ADS) reactor, and these have significant differences from reactors commonly used for uranium. When a uranium-235 atom splits, it releases a wave of high-energy neutrons which can then collide with other U-235 atoms, releasing more neutrons. This is the chain reaction responsible for the explosive power of an atom bomb, and when out of control, it is also the force that can drive a disastrous meltown in a reactor's core.

But in an ADS reactor, that chain reaction cannot get out of control. "The technology for building such a reactor became ripe some 10 years ago. It uses an external beam of protons to kick-start the reactions," says Lillestol. The thorium does not then continue the reaction on its own - it needs the external beam of protons to keep it running. To stop the reaction, and close down a power station, all that would be needed to be done would be to pull the plug on that external beam of protons.

"In the first step, the protons enter into molten lead where a large number of neutrons are produced," continues Lillestol. "These neutrons enter into the thorium blanket. In fact the proton accelerator has to have a rather intense proton beam, and such accelerators could not be built 10 years ago. This is no longer considered to be a major obstacle."

Lillestol says that the problem is political will - and money. "Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia began work on the ADS while he was director-general at CERN [the European Organisation for Nuclear Research]. He and his group made so much progress that we all believed that a prototype would be built within a decade. However, when the EU turned down the application for $500m first in 1999 and then in 2000, Rubbia gave up pushing and concentrated on solar energy which he then was also heavily engaged in."

Lillestol - whom Rubbia appointed as deputy division leader of CERN's Physics Division back in 1989 - has continued to fight for the thorium cause. He estimates the cost of a prototype reactor at 550m euros and believes it will take around 15 years to develop: "Molten lead becomes highly corrosive - and the problem is, how do we contain that lead? But the greatest difficulty is getting the world's experts to work together in one place and on one prototype. This, I believe, can only be achieved if all the participating countries have equal rights to all the results." Of course, the supply network for uranium has already been established, and is an important issue for governments all over the world. Switching to thorium would move the goalposts and put new power in the hands of the countries that have the thorium. And on such massive issues, it seems that no one likes change.

India, which has about a quarter of the world's total reserves, has already planned its nuclear power program eventually to use thorium, phasing out uranium. But Greenpeace thinks this is a bad idea. The organisation's senior adviser on nuclear energy, Jean McSorley, says: "Operating thorium reactors would mean taking an enormous risk with untried and untested reactors. We shouldn't forget that we need to reduce energy demand, and fully embrace clean, safe and secure alternatives such as renewable energy systems."

But Dr Norman says that new nuclear technology, of some description, is the future. "If you want evidence that nuclear power is back on the agenda, then take a look at what's happening at universities. Our Masters course on the Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors was launched 50 years ago, and this year we've got 36 students - the most we've ever had, almost double the previous highest number which was 19 students back in 1957. Global warming is proving far more deadly than Chernobyl. We could try and keep running with the current reactors, which will run as long as uranium-235 lasts. Or we could try something new." He agrees the something new could well be thorium. Or nuclear fusion, which, he admits, "is technically harder to achieve". Perhaps a thorium reactor is not so far-fetched.



The article below is from another surprising source -- the New York Times. Occasionally they let a bit of truth leak out

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change was released Oct. 30 and became front-page news because of its striking conclusion that we should immediately invest 1 percent of world economic activity (referred to as global gross domestic product in the report) to reduce the impact of global warming. The British report warned that failing to do so could risk future economic damages equivalent to a reduction of up to 20 percent in global G.D.P.

These figures are substantially higher than earlier estimates of the costs of global warming, and environmental economists have studied the 700-page report to try to figure out why the numbers are so large. Recently two noted economists, William D. Nordhaus of Yale and Sir Partha Dasgupta of the University of Cambridge, have written critiques of the Stern report that try to solve this puzzle. The reports are available at and

The two critiques emphasize different but related aspects of the Stern Review's economic model. Mr. Nordhaus's major concern is with the Stern Review's choice of the "social rate of time discount," the rate used to compare the well-being of future generations to the well-being of those alive today. The choice of an appropriate social time discount rate has long been debated. Some very intelligent people have argued that giving future generations less weight than the current generation is "ethically indefensible." Other equally intelligent people have argued that weighting generations equally leads to paradoxical and even nonsensical results.

The Stern Review sides with those who believe in a low discount rate, arguing that the only ethical reason to discount future generations is that they might not be there at all - there could be some cataclysmic event like a comet hitting the earth that wipes out all life. The report assumes that the probability of extinction is 0.1 percent per year. For all intents and purposes, this implies a social rate of discount that is effectively zero, implying almost equal weight to all generations.

The report not only chooses to weigh all generations' welfare almost equally, it also makes an extreme choice when specifying the relationship between consumption and welfare. These choices together imply that a 1 percent reduction in consumption today is desirable if it leads to slightly more than 1 percent increase in the consumption of some future generation, even though, in the model, future generations will be much wealthier than the current generation.

Given these assumptions it is easy to see where the large numbers come from. Unchecked global warming will certainly make future generations worse off to some degree. If we add up these losses over all time using a zero social discount rate, we get a large sum: a dollar a year over a million years is a million dollars.

Mr. Nordhaus examines a model of climate change that is similar to the one used in the Stern Review but with a 3 percent social discount rate that slowly declines to 1 percent in 300 years rather than the 0.1 percent discount rate used in the Stern Review. In his model, the welfare of future generations is given less weight than the current generation's welfare. He finds that preventive measures like a tax on carbon emissions are certainly required. But they are of a much smaller magnitude than those recommended in the report. As Mr. Nordhaus says, "While the findings of such mainstream economic assessments may not satisfy the most ardent environmentalists, if followed they would go far beyond current global emissions reductions and would be a good first step on a journey of many miles."

So, should the social discount rate be 0.1 percent, as Sir Nicholas Stern, who led the study, would have it, or 3 percent as Mr. Nordhaus prefers? There is no definitive answer to this question because it is inherently an ethical judgment that requires comparing the well-being of different people: those alive today and those alive in 50 or 100 years. Still, we may at least ask for consistency in our decisions. Forget about global warming and consider the much simpler problem of economic growth. How much should we save today to bequeath to future generations if we really believed in a 0.1 percent social discount rate and the other assumptions built into the Stern model? The answer, according to Sir Partha's calculation, is that we should invest 97.5 percent of what we produce today to increase the standard of living of future generations.

Sir Partha's stripped-down model leaves out uncertainty, technological change and population growth, but even so, such a high savings rate is totally implausible. It is even more implausible given that future generations will be much richer than those now living. According to Mr. Nordhaus, the assumptions used in the Stern Review imply that per capita yearly consumption in 2200 will be $94,000 as compared with $7,000 today. So, is it really ethical to transfer wealth from someone making $7,000 a year to someone making $94,000 a year?

As these examples illustrate, the choice of an appropriate policy toward global warming depends heavily on how one weighs the costs and benefits it imposes on different generations. The Stern Review chose a particular way to do this, but many other choices could have been examined. Exploring the implications of alternative assumptions is likely to lead to better policy than making a single blanket recommendation. At least at this stage of our understanding, exploration beats exhortation.



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

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

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


Friday, December 15, 2006


An email to Benny Peiser from Jack Perrine []

I read with interest and amusement all the comments about trains, cars and planes. Granted I know little about England never having been out of the United States. On the other hand the same problems seem to occur in the United States concerning more efficient / smaller cars to reduce CO2 use.

But much to my amazement hardly anyone suggests changing auto usage as opposed to changing fuels / car sizes to reduce CO2. Granted I think worrying about Global Warming is silly. On the other hand for those who are desparate to reduce CO2 usage I would think zoning changes could reduce CO2 usage more or less instantly and instead of causing great irritation would make lots of people very happy.

In particular change the zoning codes to encourage granny flats. That is most homes in the US have ample space in the back yard for another dwelling that is at present absolutely forbidden by zoning codes. But if there were more granny flats then seniors would quickly find a place that cheap / nice to live in and they could watch the children of the people in the front house. This would instantly get rid of all the extra driving to take small children to day care and then retrieve them at the end of the day. Perhaps, with a bit of planning only one trip for both households would do most of the shopping getting rid of driving.

I would not expect that seniors in granny flats could do all the teaching the schools do. On the other hand I think a great deal of teaching could be done by programs in PCs which are in virtually every household. The problem being getting the students to spend the time with the teaching programs on the PCs. But with seniors in the granny flat the parents could leave their children at home to have a much better education at home than most now get in school. At least I suppose the main problem at present in leaving kids home to study is thinking they would always be elsewhere but with seniors to watch this should not happen so much. And suddenly there is no need for so many school busses, parents driving kids to school and getting them at the end of the day.


They're just big pussycats after all!

Conservation experts say the wild tiger may be headed for extinction. Twenty years ago, there were tens of thousands of these big cats in the wild. Today, there may be fewer than 3,000. One of the biggest threats to wild tigers is poachers, who kill the animals with snares and poisons. Almost every part of a tiger can be sold. But by most accounts, it's the booming black market for traditional Asian medicines, such as tiger-blood wine and powdered tiger bone, that keep the poachers in business. Attempts to close this market by cracking down on poachers and banning products made from tiger parts have failed, especially in China.

Some conservationists say it's time to take a radical step to save the wild tigers: Legalize the sale of tiger bones and organs taken from the carcasses of big cats raised on Chinese tiger farms. "There are roughly 4,000 tigers living on these farms, which means about 300 to 400 tigers die a natural death each year," said Barun Mitra of the free market Liberty Institute in New Dehli, India. "The question is: What do you do with their bones and carcasses?" Mitra wants to flood the traditional medicine market with those bones and carcasses. So do the owners of the 14 registered tiger farms in China. Mitra says prices will fall sharply if it happens. If prices fall far enough, tiger poachers will be undersold. If that happens, they'll stop killing tigers in the wild because they can't make money from it.

Mitra says the profits from the legal sales could help fund beefed-up anti-poaching programs, or nature programs that turn former poachers into park guards in the tiger's range. In other countries, these kinds of programs bring in millions every year. "If even a fraction of that kind of money made its way to rural parts of India and China, you would see a sea change in attitudes" toward the wild tiger, says Mitra.

Mitra is the unofficial spokesman for the plan to save wild tigers by selling bones and organs from the tame ones. Recently, he toured some of China's tiger farms at the invitation of the Chinese government. China has no official position on the plan to open a market for farm-tiger parts, but conservationists and representatives of other governments say it's clear that the Chinese government likes the plan, as do the owners of the tiger farms.

Most of China's tiger farms are open to the public. At the biggest farms, busloads of visitors drive around with big groups of tame tigers following behind. In others, according to Grace Gabriel of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, tourists pay to watch gangs of tigers shred cows dumped out of passing trucks. Gabriel thinks these practices are inhumane and that the parks should be closed. She also worries that a legal trade in farmed tiger parts would lead to increased poaching, since there's no way to certify that a particular container of tiger-blood wine or powdered tiger bone came from a farmed animal. "It could come from wild tigers just as easily," Gabriel says. "It's going to make law enforcement (much) more difficult." Gabriel doesn't think the owners of the tiger parks will agree to funnel any of the profits from these sales into beefed-up anti-poaching programs or into nature programs in the wild tiger's range. And she doesn't think the market-based plan to sell farmed tiger parts makes any economic sense.

That's a point that should be underlined, says economist Richard Damania of the University of Adelaide. He says there's no way a poacher who spends a maximum of $20 to kill a tiger will ever be undersold. Tiger farmers have to feed their animals from birth to death, which can costs thousands. "That gap is so wide that it can never be closed," Damania said, "even if you factor in the cost of hunting down a tiger in the wild." If anything, Damania says, the Mitra plan will lead to increased poaching by attracting a lot of buyers who would never think of purchasing anything on the black market. That would drive up demand, which would in turn drive up prices, he says. The incentive to poach would rise, and more wild tigers would be killed. Damania says wild tigers living inside small preserves could be wiped out by poachers in a matter of years. Tigers living in bigger protected areas might manage to hang on, but not for very long. "This new plan would be a death sentence," for the world's wild tigers, says Damania.

But Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute thinks those wild tigers may already be doomed, so why not gamble with the farming plan? "I cannot understand how such an enormous and valuable economic asset can be left to rot" because of a ban on sales, he said, referring to the tiger carcasses he saw lined up in warehouses at some of the Chinese tiger farms.

One thing everyone involved in this debate agrees on is that poachers aren't the only threat facing the wild tigers of the world. For example, since the 1990s, nearly half of the lands the wild tigers used to live on have been cleared and occupied by people.


The false premise behind climate change

Energized by the latest election results, the global warming community is getting ready for a major push to stop what is referred to as climate change. Claiming that it represents a major threat to our survival, they argue for tough laws to contain the ecological calamity that is allegedly unfolding even as we speak. At the center of their legislative efforts will be Barbara Boxer, the incoming chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. A fierce environmental crusader, Ms. Boxer has already promised `a very long process of extensive hearings.' It is to be hoped that among the many dire scenarios that will undoubtedly be painted, someone asks this simple question: Have you ever wondered how it is possible that coal deposits exist in Alaska?

Given that coal forms from plant matter smoldering in the basins of warm swamps, the Alaskan tundra must have once been overgrown with Amazon-style forests. But for those forests to flourish a hot and humid climate was required, completely unlike the one that prevails there today.

Even though the possibility of such a profound climatic transformation may shock today's environmental activists, it has been commonplace in the course of terrestrial history. In fact, that history is one of a long series of alternating cycles of cold and warmth. When the Earth's climatic past is expressed graphically, the result is an EKG-style curve oscillating between extremes of some 18o Fahrenheit.

In the last several million years there have been a number of glacial periods occurring on average every 70,000 years during which snow blanketed large stretches of the planet. The latest episode was in full swing only some 15,000 years ago and is known as the Wisconsin glaciation in North America. At its height, most of Canada, the Upper Midwest, and New England, as well as parts of Montana and Washington were permanently covered with ice. The grooves left by the glaciers are visible to this day as far south as New York's Central Park.

The Earth's glacial ages were invariably followed by warm interludes, many of which were appreciably warmer than our present era. So much so, that during some periods even Alaska enjoyed a sub-tropical climate and it was during one of those that its coal reserves formed. It was then that dinosaurs roamed the luxuriant forests of the land which was destined to become the frozen tundra of our day. In the light of our planet's well-documented history of climatic oscillation, the claim that any temperature change must be prevented at all costs is as irrational as it is silly.

Inherent in this thinking is the notion that the Earth's s climate should be permanently preserved in its present incarnation. Given that the Earth's weather has never been static, it would be difficult to conceive of a more impracticable project. Any effort to freeze it at the current readings is not only doomed to failure, but wholly at variance with the flow of nature. It is paradoxical that those who normally preach non-interference with the natural order seek to alter its course in such a fundamental way.

Even more curious is the claim that a one degree shift in the average global temperature over a period of a hundred years must be caused by human activity. The argument's fallacy lies in its premise that until the advent of humanity the Earth's temperature had remained unchanged. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Man has existed only during the most recent moments of the Earth's geologic time. If we imagine the whole of its past as one twenty-four hour period, mankind appeared at 11:59:58 PM. In other words, we have been around only during the last two seconds of our planet's cosmic day. Industrialization made its entrance later still - in the final two thousandths of the last second. And yet all during that preceding time, the Earth's atmosphere kept undergoing sweeping shifts as the eras of ice and warmth succeeded one another in a never-ending cycle. The cold-warm pendulum has never kept still with each of its numerous swings reshaping the previously existing weather patterns in radical fashion.

All these upheavals took place without any input or interference by man. Yet today there are some who profess that any measurable climatic alteration must be attributable to mankind's influence as if things had been static until the SUV came along. This surely must be one of the most incongruous claims ever made and we have the testimony of almost five billion years of history to prove it.

The most surprising aspect of the whole controversy is that those who promulgate this idea still enjoy any credibility. That they do shows just how ignorant our society is about the Earth's climatic past. A couple of simple questions, however, should drive home the obvious. Did industrialization set off any of the numerous ice ages and global warmings that have taken place in the past? Did man turn Alaska hot and then made large portions of it disappear under snow again? Did human activity transform the formerly moist and fertile plains of the Sahara into a dry sun-scorched wasteland?

Man did not and could not have done any of this, because all these climatic revolutions had taken place long before he built his first chimney stack. All the evidence of the billions of years of terrestrial history makes it overwhelmingly clear that climatic change is not a man-made phenomenon but is inherent in the very nature of our planet's existence. The Earth's climate is a dynamic, continually changing system which has been experiencing shifts and fluctuations ever since it came into being. Fantasizing about arresting it at its present readings - as some would like to do - is as ill-conceived as it is futile. It is nothing but a doom-fated rebellion against nature itself.



By Professor Mike Jackson

Not since wholesale calamity was predicted as a result of the so-called millennium bug has so much coverage been given to a topic. Miles' worth of column inches are now dedicated to global warming. The predictions by media commentators are becoming more numerous and more strident as each new piece of evidence appears to support their case. They have progressed from possibilities to probabilities and are now becoming certainties.

Global warming is a hypothesis, not fact. And even if temperatures are increasing, that does not necessarily mean it is a result of human activities, nor does it mean that the outcomes will necessarily be overwhelmingly detrimental.

That average temperatures have risen over recent decades - globally and here in the UK - is undeniable. The evidence from records is that the hottest years of the last millennium have probably occurred in the past two decades. However, the years from 1800 to 1900 were particularly cold, so the increase in average temperatures from 1800 to 2005 may not really be as significant as it first appears. Also, the temperatures in the upper parts of the atmosphere (the lower stratosphere) appear to have been falling at a faster rate than those at the earth's surface have been increasing, at least since 1960. In addition, the increase in average temperature over much of the land masses appears to be the result of higher night-time temperatures rather than higher day-time temperatures. This is possibly due to increased cloud cover over those land areas.

Although the actual temperature has been higher during the last two decades than at any time since 1800 (with the exception of a few isolated years during the 1940s) there have been periods when the rate of increase of temperature has been at least as great as now. The periods from about 1860 to 1880 and from about 1910 to 1940 show sharp and consistent increases; whereas the periods from about 1880 to 1910 and from about 1940 to 1955 show the opposite. So, over the last one and a half centuries, the average temperatures have fluctuated periodically.

The further back in time we look for records of atmospheric temperatures, the more uncertain the data become. Clues as to what the weather was like at particular times in history are provided by evidence from tree rings, from core samples of ice and from written material, but these must be read with caution. Accurate scientific records are a recent arrival, relative to the time that has elapsed since the last ice age. From such evidence, however, it would seem that, some two millennia ago, parts of the UK were at least as warm as now. There are reports of the Romans growing grapes and of malaria being present in parts of the south-east of England.

The evidence, which is much more comprehensive than that intimated above, needs to be judged with caution. Most scientists working in this field will liberally use such terms as "may", "perhaps" and "appears" rather than "will", "definitely" and "shows" when discussing the significance of their findings, particularly when this applies to predictions about the future. On the other hand, some politicians, some journalists and some who have a vested interest seem intent on talking up the possible occurrence and the worst consequences of an increase in global temperatures.

Many now believe global warming is already an environmental problem; many more believe that it is in the throes of becoming one. Nevertheless, there are still many who remain to be convinced. Nor is this surprising when the record of environmental catastrophe predictions is examined. Caution applies in all walks of life. The only thing we seem able to say about the future with any degree of confidence is that it is unpredictable.

In 1972, a group of scientists known collectively as the Club of Rome predicted the world was using resources at such a rate that most reserves would be exhausted by the end of the century. The data they used certainly supported their case; what was at fault was their ability to predict the future. Take oil as a prime example. The authors confidently predicted that there were only 550 billion barrels of oil reserves, which would be exhausted before the end of the twentieth century. Some six years into the 21st century, we have known reserves of 1200 billion barrels that could last until the end of this century.

Rather than just being wrong, predictions can cause serious problems. In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote her book Silent Spring, which became the foundation for the case against the use of DDT. The case against DDT went something like this: the evidence that DDT can be harmful was incontrovertible; surveys found residues of DDT in the tissues of animals across the globe; a reduction in some bird populations was detected; the eggs of these birds appear to have thinner than normal shells, leading to a failure in reproduction; this must be due to DDT; the use of DDT must stop.

It is now understood that the decision to ban the use of DDT was a mistake. None of the steps in the argument above is wrong; what was wrong was the prediction that the consequences of the continued use of DDT would be worse than those of discontinuing its use. The replacements were less effective and because the control of mosquitoes was less effective so too was the control of the spread of malaria. Malaria is now once again a major killer, particularly of children. The premature decision to ban the use of DDT led to the illness and deaths of perhaps millions of people in the developing world.

Because of serious air pollution, especially by particulates, there was a fear in the 1950s that (ironically as it now seems) we could be heading for a new ice age. This did not happen. By the 1980s, it was acid rain. The worst-scenario proposition was that we would soon have no life in inland waterways because of the acidification of the water by rain, and that forests would die because of the effect of the acid on the trees. This did occur to a limited extent but the term catastrophe is hardly appropriate.

Another fear at this time was the destruction of the ozone layer. It is difficult to say whether the danger here was overstated because action was swift and relatively painless. CFCs in aerosols were replaced by less damaging alternatives and the problem was superseded by the current problem, namely global warming. Those who castigate the USA for the role it plays - or fails to play - in the global warming debate should note that the USA (together with Canada and Scandinavia) was some two decades ahead of the rest of the world in tackling the problem.

The reason why some people are sceptical about the dangers of an environmental disaster from global warming is that in the past, almost without exception, predictions of such disasters have turned out to be wrong. But what about the argument that the potential for disaster is so great that we cannot afford to take the risk? Following that argument, we should take precautions against the worst possible scenario.

To predict how a small rise in temperature will affect the weather decades or even centuries from now presupposes weather-predicting capabilities that we do not at present possess. At the moment we can be reasonably sure of the weather forecast up to about 24 hours ahead. After that the predictions become much more imprecise and much less reliable. Yet the whole basis of the global warming debate on the "pro" side is that the weather is destined to change throughout the world.

The other aspect of these predictions is that such changes will inevitably be detrimental. Why? In the UK it has been suggested that we could expect a Mediterranean-type climate. It is then suggested that many people will die as a result of the stress of the raised temperatures. The people of the Mediterranean area seem to enjoy a long and happy life so why shouldn't we also? In any case, would not the people dying because of the raised temperatures, if any, be more than offset by the much larger numbers who currently die of the cold each winter?

The same arguments can be made about flooding and starvation. These problems might be manifested in areas that currently have no such problems. Are the people proposing these arguments unaware of the millions who are presently affected in this way in other parts of the world? Maybe those presently suffering people will be better placed in the future and who could say they did not deserve their lucky break?

So should we turn our backs, like Luddites, on so much of modern technology? We are being exhorted to cut out flights abroad. The effect on people doing the flying might be a short-term disappointment but the loss of tourism in those countries that would expect to receive the flyers could be devastating. We are also exhorted to stop buying goods that are transported around the world. Shop locally, we are told. Again, this could be devastating to the economies of many underdeveloped countries to which such income is essential.

We now have the intervention of the noted economist Sir Nicholas Stern. An impressive contribution to the debate, it nevertheless ends up by saying, among other things, that much more work is required from scientists and economists to resolve the uncertainties. In terms of predicting the future, economists probably have a poorer track record than almost any other group.

Should we do nothing for the environment? Certainly not. Conservation of the environment is essential if we are to leave a worthwhile planet for future generations. The halting of deforestation, for instance, is of the utmost importance. We should all economise on the use of resources and energy.

Sir Nicholas Stern advocates the spending of enormous amounts of money to mitigate the worst effects of global warming. But his premise is based on the effects of global warming being so disastrous that almost any price is worth paying to ensure it does not happen. This ignores the fact (not hypothesis) that life is currently awful for a large proportion of the world. Disease, starvation, drought and flooding are realities that many people already live with. If we would invest the sums proposed by Sir Nicholas into, for instance, sub-Saharan Africa, what an effect it would have. The provision of clean, safe water supplies, the elimination of malnutrition, the provision of medicines to prevent childhood death and disease and the provision of education to children who presently receive little or none. Over a few years we could save millions of lives and prevent terrible suffering to many millions more and make communities self-sufficient. Now that would change the world as we know it.

Mike Jackson is emeritus professor of environmental health at the University of Strathclyde and honorary fellow of the faculty of medicine of the University of Edinburgh



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

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

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


Thursday, December 14, 2006

England spends $2.5 Billion on Cars - Millions Starve

Post lifted from Gust of Hot Air

England will spend AU$2.5 Billion over the next four years replacing the governments 78,000 vehicles with cars that are much greener and slash carbon emissions by 15% according to TimesOnline.

What? a 15% decrease in carbon emissions and the are prepared to fork out $2.5 billion for this?

Ok, the average car produces about 6 tons of carbon dioxide a year. So 78,000 cars and we have 468,000 tons. A 15% decrease means that AU$2.5 billion will save the world from about 70,000 tons, which is of course a good effort.

In 2001, the world produced around 24,000,000,000 tons of carbon into the atmosphere. This means that the 70,000 tons that the UK government is going to save will be about 1/300,000th of the carbon emissions saved. Basically, jack shit.

According to Wigley (1998), if we are to reduce our emissions by 43% this will result in a decrease in world temperature of 0.07 degrees C. Basically immeasurable by normal ground thermometers.

So lets do some more maths, and we find that England, in spending AU$2.5 billion in changing their cars over will reduce the world wide temperature of around 0.000000023 degrees Celsius.

Well done.

But wait there's more. According to World Vision Australia. For just AU$468, one can sponsor a child in Africa or Bangladesh. They will receive education, medicine against diseases, and fresh drinkable running water. What we all take for granted, but is a luxury in some of these parts of the world. Essentially, the British government could have spent their AU$2.5 million on this, and sponsored 5.3 million people, but they obviously have other vote grabbing agendas.

Tell me which you would rather do. Reduce the world wide temperature by 0.000000023 degrees Celsius or give over 5 million starving malnourished children shelter, water and medicine?

There is no need to answer that question.

Most Everything You Know About Air Pollution Is Wrong

NCPA Study Shows How Regulators, Environmentalists and Journalists Exaggerate Levels and Risks

Contrary to what many environmental activists, regulators and journalists regularly assert, air pollution is not a growing problem or a serious threat to the public's health, according to a new study from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). "The truth is air quality in America's cities is better than it has ever been," said Joel Schwartz, author of the study and an adjunct scholar with the NCPA. "Air pollution of all kinds has sharply declined because of cleaner cars, power plants, factories, home appliances and an array of consumer products." According to the study, air pollution levels have dropped substantially. For example, from 1980 to 2005:

* Fine particulate matter declined 40 percent and carbon monoxide concentrations fell 74 percent

* Peak 8-hour ozone levels dropped 20 percent, and days per year exceeding the 8-hour ozone standard fell 79 percent.

* Nitrogen dioxide levels decreased 37 percent and sulfur dioxide dropped 63 percent.

What makes these air quality improvements so extraordinary is that they occurred along with increasing motor vehicle and energy use and economic growth. For example, during the same period automobile miles driven each year nearly doubled (93 percent), while coal burned for electricity production increased 61 percent.

Schwartz also noted that "Americans harbor health fears about air pollution that are far out of proportion to minor risks posed by current air quality." According to the study:

* While the incidence of asthma has nearly doubled in the last 25 years, air pollution cannot be the cause, since air pollution of all kinds declined at the same time. Emergency room visits and hospitalizations for asthma are lowest during July and August, when ozone levels are at their highest.

* Reducing nationwide ozone from 2002 levels (the highest of the last six years) to the federal 8-hour ozone standard would reduce respiratory hospital emissions by 0.07 percent and asthma emergency room visits by only 0.04 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

* Particulate matter does not kill animals in laboratory studies, even at levels many times higher than ever occur in the air we breathe. Recent studies with asthmatic human volunteers found no evidence of harm, even with particulate levels a few times greater than occur in the most polluted cities.

Regulators and activists claim low-level air pollution kills thousands of people each year, but the research evidence shows this claim is implausible.


Logging 'would have lessened fire threat'

Australia is in the midst of its annual wildfire season and it is looking like one of the bad ones

Tasmania's bushfire crisis would not be so severe if the state's forests had been logged rather than protected, Federal Forestry Minister Eric Abetz said today. Senator Abetz said today the severity of the bushfires, which have destroyed 14 homes in Tasmania's east, called into question the value of making forests off-limits to logging and grazing. He blamed a build-up of fuel in wilderness areas for the severity of the fires. "Many Australians are starting to feel cheated that they were sold a line that you could simply lock up our forests and keep them forever," Senator Abetz said on ABC radio. "And then fire comes through and destroys the koala habitat, the alpine plant species and, in Tasmania ... those areas that people have argued to be locked up are now just there in ashes."

Firefighters have prepared a control line on the edge of the Wielangta State Forest, which is the subject of a court battle by Greens leader Bob Brown who wants to prevent the area from being logged.

Senator Brown rejected Senator Abetz's arguments. "The majority of the forest that we've been talking about in the Federal Court wasn't burnt in the fire," he said on ABC radio. The areas that had been burnt would recover quickly and remain an important habitat for key species, Senator Brown said.



An email to Benny Peiser from Madhav Khandekar []

I quickly converted the value 17 inches to centimeters and I get about 43.18cm. This value is still a bit higher than the 290+/-150 mm projected by IPCC Clim Change Docs 2007 ch 10 which I am presently reading. The IPCC projections has high error bars, so in reality the SLR may be no more than about 20 cm for next 100 years or so, a value most nations, including Bangladesh (which was one of the nations mentioned repeatedly by IPCC scientists in the 1990s as a prime-target of GW deleterious impacts) with a population of about 120 M with large number of people living on small islands can cope with.

Allow me to make some observations here: The IPCC and the 'warmoholics' are slowly changing their tunes by moderating the GW impacts over the last 15 years or about. In the early 1990s, all climate alarmists, including Jim Bruce (former ADM of Environment Canada and who inititaed IPCC in 1988, while at WMO), were using Bangladesh & Maldive Islands as "victims' of GW. When it was shown by Prof Morner that the Maldive Islands are under NO such threat and further, in the last 15 years, Bangladesh has had NO serious threat from any Tropical Cyclones (for reasons which neither I nor my good friend Tad Murty, tsunami & a storm surge expert do not fully understand), the alamists 'invented' Tuvalu Island as a GW Victim. I had never heard of Tuvalu Island before that. Most studies and SL data now show Tuvalu Islands are NOT experiencing escalating SLR in recent years. Now the alamists are pointing at Greenland & Antarctic Ice sheets melting away, producing massive flooding etc. Recent papers (e.g. Sarah Raper & Roger Braithwaite, Nature 2006) show that SLR due to mountain glaciers and icecaps melting will be only about 5 cm by 2100, about half of previous estimates.

The Toronto Star (Canada's largest daily newspaper) had a news item a few days ago, about Europe enjoying a balmy weather past several weeks, with very little snow on the Alps (disappointing news for ski operators, who could have used Canada's Rockies this year where there is "tons of snow") and places like Sweden even discovering growth of some species of mushroom & flowers! I am hoping that in next few years, more Europeans will realize the benefits of global warming and will stop worrying about climate scare-mongering.


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

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

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


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

UN cuts estimate of sea level rise, human effect on climate

Post lifted from Rossputin

According to an article in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, [See below] the upcoming report from the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) will reduce its estimate of the human effect on climate change by 25% and cut in half their estimate of the maximum rise in sea levels which climate change could cause.

The changes are in part due to a re-thinking of the way the climate is working, i.e. the effect of aerosol sprays in keeping temperatures from rising, as well as using newer and better data since the last report was completed five years ago.

It would be amusing, were it not so dangerous for policy considerations, that articles like that linked above have headlines pointing toward at least a slight retreat in global warming alarmism but then fill the article itself with the most scare-mongering fact-free text one could imagine outside the National Enquirer. (I take that back…it’s an insult to the National Enquirer.)

Some quote snippets from the Telegraph article:

“People are very worried…”

“…paints a bleak picture…”

“…expect more storms of similar ferocity…”

“…we are storing up problems for ourselves in the future.”

It’s enough to make you put your head in the oven.

But at least we have one politican who has the sense and courage to stand up against so much hype based on junk science, and that is the often-derided Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). Inhofe’s reaction to the story [also see below] is summarized nicely by this quote (by him): “”We are all skeptics now. It appears that the UN is now acknowledging what an increasing number of scientists who study the climate have come to realize: Predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming are simply unsustainable.”

There is an ongoing battle for the “hearts and minds” of people in all industrialized countries, in which liberal anti-capitalists or else well-intentioned but poorly informed environmentalists suggest policy choices which would be devastating to the world’s economy and which would have benefits that are limited at best. However, their side is winning the rhetorical war, in large part due to Tony Blair and the so-called Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. When you hear people like them say “the debate is over”, don’t believe it for a minute, but hold on to your wallet because your taxes and cost of living are likely to increase when their fears translate into new laws.


From "The Telegraph", London:

Mankind has had less effect on global warming than previously supposed, a United Nations report on climate change will claim next year. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organisation has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 per cent. In a final draft of its fourth assessment report, to be published in February, the panel reports that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has accelerated in the past five years. It also predicts that temperatures will rise by up to 4.5 C during the next 100 years, bringing more frequent heat waves and storms. The panel, however, has lowered predictions of how much sea levels will rise in comparison with its last report in 2001.

Climate change sceptics are expected to seize on the revised figures as evidence that action to combat global warming is less urgent. Scientists insist that the lower estimates for sea levels and the human impact on global warming are simply a refinement due to better data on how climate works rather than a reduction in the risk posed by global warming. One leading UK climate scientist, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity surrounding the report before it is published, said: "The bottom line is that the climate is still warming while our greenhouse gas emissions have accelerated, so we are storing up problems for ourselves in the future."

The IPCC report, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, has been handed to the Government for review before publication. It warns that carbon dioxide emissions have risen during the past five years by three per cent, well above the 0.4 per cent a year average of the previous two decades. The authors also state that the climate is almost certain to warm by at least 1.5 C during the next 100 years.

Such a rise would be enough to take average summer temperatures in Britain to those seen during the 2003 heatwave, when August temperatures reached a record-breaking 38 C. Unseasonable warmth this year has left many Alpine resorts without snow by the time the ski season started. Britain can expect more storms of similar ferocity to those that wreaked havoc across the country last week, even bringing a tornado to north-west London.

The IPCC has been forced to halve its predictions for sea-level rise by 2100, one of the key threats from climate change. It says improved data have reduced the upper estimate from 34 in to 17 in. It also says that the overall human effect on global warming since the industrial revolution is less than had been thought, due to the unexpected levels of cooling caused by aerosol sprays, which reflect heat from the sun. Large amounts of heat have been absorbed by the oceans, masking the warming effect.

Prof Rick Battarbee, the director of the Environmental Change Research Centre at University College London, warned these masking effects had helped to delay global warming but would lead to larger changes in the future. He said: "The oceans have been acting like giant storage heaters by trapping heat and carbon dioxide. They might be bit of a time-bomb as they have been masking the real effects of the carbon dioxide we have been releasing into the atmosphere. "People are very worried about what will happen in 2030 to 2050, as we think that at that point the oceans will no longer be able to absorb the carbon dioxide being emitted. It will be a tipping point and that is why it is now critical to act to counter any acceleration that will occur when this happens."

The report paints a bleak picture for future generations unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. It predicts that the climate will warm by 0.2 C a decade for the next two decades if emissions continue at current levels. The report states that snow cover in mountainous regions will contract and permafrost in polar regions will decline.

However, Julian Morris, executive director of the International Policy Network, urged governments to be cautious. "There needs to be better data before billions of pounds are spent on policy measures that may have little impact," he said.



Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, commented on today's article in the UK Telegraph titled "UN Downgrades Man's Impact on the Climate." The Telegraph reported that a draft of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) upcoming fourth assessment has lowered mankind's estimated impact on the Earth's climate by 25 percent and scaled back sea level rise upper estimates by nearly half since the last IPCC report in 2001. "We are all skeptics now. It appears that the UN is now acknowledging what an increasing number of scientists who study the climate have come to realize: Predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming are simply unsustainable," Senator Inhofe said.

The upcoming UN IPCC assessment is reported to `halve its predictions for sea-level rise by 2100,' according to the Telegraph article. The UN's lowering of mankind's impact on the climate is reportedly because of "a refinement due to better data on how climate works." "It is remarkable that sea level rise upper estimates have been cut nearly in half since the last IPCC assessment in 2001, because of scientific `refinement due to better data.' Climate science is always going through these `refinements.' The erroneous prediction of a coming ice age in the 1970's also faded away due to `a refinement due to better data,'" Senator Inhofe said. "As I detailed in my Senate floor speech on September 25, the media has alternated between four separate global cooling and warming scares since 1895. Each climate scare eventually faded away due to similar `refinements due to better data.'

"Even the UN appears to now be sobering up and dousing much needed cold water on the global warming alarmism promoted by much of the mainstream media, Hollywood, NASA scientist James Hansen and former Vice President Al Gore. News that global warming alarmism is more hype than fact should not surprise those who viewed my committee's "Climate Change and the Media" hearing last week or read the EPW's new publicly released `Skeptics Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism,'" Senator Inhofe added. (For more info on `Skeptic's Guide' go here) "As Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, I have given over 10 climate change speeches and held four full committee hearings since 2003, examining the global warming issue. After more than 20 years of climate hype, the UN's appears to finally be conceding that previous estimates of climatic doom have been over hyped and the science was simply not there to project these frightening `extreme scenarios,' Senator Inhofe added. "Eventually, even the pedlars of climate alarmism will have to concede that the hoopla over manmade catastrophic global warming and the proposed solutions like the costly and ineffective Kyoto Protocol, will prove to be one of the history's most misguided concerns-- joining the 1970's coming ice age fears, overpopulation and famines scares -- to name just a few.

This news from the UN will not be greeted warmly by advocates of climatic doom. One can almost imagine the grieving faces of the Hollywood celebrities and environmentalists as they hear the new UN climate assessment and realize that they are way outside the `consensus' on manmade global warming. With the continued scientific demise of manmade catastrophic global warming fears, the environmentalists and publicity and grant seeking scientists and many in the media, may now have to find another dubious environmental doomsday cause to scare the public and policy makers," Senator Inhofe concluded. Growing skepticism in 2006 that human C02 emissions are creating a "climate catastrophe" caps a year in which numerous scientific studies have bolstered the claims of climate skeptics and are shattering the media-promoted scientific "consensus" on climate alarmism. See here.


Pesky rainforests defy the global warmers

Banfai and Bowman (2006) report that "a number of processes are thought to be threatening the ecological integrity of monsoon rainforests in Northern Australia," including "the combined effects of an increase in late dry season fires, feral animal damage and weed invasion." In addition, climate alarmists everywhere contend that rainforests the world over are in danger of succumbing to the supposedly deleterious effects of the continuation of what they call the unprecedented global warming of the late 20th century, which they claim was driven by concomitant unprecedented increases in the air's CO2 content, which together comprise the "twin evils" of what we call the radical environmentalist movement.

Against this backdrop of despair, the two Australian researchers from Charles Darwin University's School for Environmental Research decided to test this retracting rainforest claim with a comprehensive repeat aerial photography study of the Northern Territory's Kakadu National Park, where monsoon rainforest exists as an archipelago of hundreds of small patches scattered within a larger eucalypt savanna matrix. In this undertaking, in the words of the two scientists, "changes to the boundaries of 50 monsoon rainforest patches were assessed using temporal sequences of digitized aerial photography [taken in 1964, 1984, 1991 and 2004], with a view to understanding the relative importance of the drivers of change."

So what did they find? Banfai and Bowman report that "rainforest patches increased in size between 1964 and 2004 by an average of 28.8%," and after lengthy analyses of several phenomena that might possibly have been responsible for the range increases, they concluded that "the expansion is likely to have been primarily driven by increases in variables such as rainfall and atmospheric CO2." In this regard, for example, they note that "the average [area] change for dry rainforests from 1964 to 2004 was an increase of 42.1%, whereas for wet rainforests [the increase] was one-third of this at 13.1%." In addition, in the case of dry rainforests, they report there was "an almost linear increase in rainforest area over the study period," in harmony with the concomitant upward trends of both atmospheric CO2 and rainfall.

In further support of the validity of their findings, and "contrary to the view that monsoon rainforests are contracting," which is one of the chief pessimistic mantras of the world's climate alarmists, the two researchers inform us that other repeat aerial photography studies conducted in Northern Australia have also revealed rainforest "expansion at the expense of more open vegetation." These studies include those of monsoon rainforests in Litchfield National Park near Darwin (Bowman et al., 2001) - where forest patches nearly doubled in size between 1941 and 1994 - and in the Gulf of Carpentaria (Bowman et al., in press). In addition, they write that "these changes parallel the observed expansion of tropical rainforest on the east coast of Australia (Harrington and Sanderson, 1994; Russell-Smith et al., 2004)."

Added to these Australian findings, we note that in a recent review of the scientific literature Lewis (2006) reports that most other tropical forests around the world also experienced significant increases in productivity over the last several decades; and he too concludes that the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 concentration is likely the key factor responsible for their increased robustness. Hence, it would appear that wherever one looks around this amazing planet of ours, the greening of the earth continues, which is our optimistic mantra.


The British Green/Left want transport to be a privilege for the rich only

That from the alleged friends of the worker! I suspect that the Green/Left folks concerned have the spare cash to be among the privileged. No buses for them!

Here is the news for the weekend of 2 and 3 December: In London, `Red' Ken Livingstone, the mayor, held his first West End VIP Day - VIP standing for `Very Important Pedestrians'. The mayor banned cars, buses and taxis from Oxford Street and Regent Street between 10.30am and 5pm on Saturday, so that shoppers could shop without having to `dodge vehicles'. A report commissioned by the British government floated various ideas for relieving gridlock and congestion on British roads - no, not by building more roads, but by introducing a national road-pricing scheme where motorists will be charged for driving on motorways and A-roads. And finally, EU bigwigs in Brussels finalised plans to enforce `carbon quotas' on airlines, which could see the price of flights go up by 40 Euros as passengers are charged for the impact their journeys have on the climate.

Welcome to the stay-at-home society. It seems the only `innovation' in transport these days is to find new ways to punish us for using it: motorists will effectively be fined for driving their cars, and the cost of cheap flights - which allow people of all income levels (and even none) to jet around Europe - could be more than doubled. Modern forms of travel, which any progressive society should take for granted, are now seen as luxuries that we can ill-afford; selfish indulgences enjoyed by those hardnosed and uncaring sections of society. A new anti-movement movement wants to put the brakes on cars and planes and propel us back to a medieval state of affairs, where we only leave our local patch if we really, really must, and have to pay a big fat toll to a big fat sheriff for the privilege of doing so. Honk if you think this is out of order.

Today's narrow vision for transport and travel is clear in the Eddington Transport Study published last week by the UK Department for Transport (which really ought to be renamed the Department against Transport). Written by Sir Rod Eddington, former chief executive of British Airways, the study argues that Britain's road system is clogged up with cars. But instead of reaching the logical conclusion that more roads are required to accommodate these cars, it suggests making driving by car more expensive and thus less attractive. In short: ease congestion on the roads by forcing people off the roads.

After the launch of the study, the secretary of state for transport Douglas Alexander `ruled out more road-building as a solution', arguing that: `Most informed commentators realise we can't simply build our way out of the challenge of congestion.' This has become a mantra in government circles, always asserted but never explained. The Department for Transport's big 2004 report The Future of Transport declared no fewer than three times that `We cannot build our way out of the problems we face'; a similar sentiment is expressed in the Eddington Study. In fact, building more roads looks like a simple and obvious solution to the apparently terrible problem of congestion. Indeed, it would appear to be successive governments' reluctance to build more roads that caused today's congestion problems. In 2004, British motorists travelled a total of 306 billion miles, more than three times the number of miles travelled 40 years earlier in 1964 (95 billion miles); and there were around four times as many licensed private cars in 2004 as there were in 1964: 26 million compared with seven million back then. And yet over this 40-year period, as car ownership quadrupled and car journeys trebled, total road length in Britain increased by approximately 20 per cent, from 200,000 miles in 1964 to 245,000 miles in 2004.

I don't know if I'm one of those `informed commentators' referred to by Douglas Alexander (who apparently all recognise that we cannot build our way out of congestion), but I do know that if you don't build enough roads to accommodate the rising number of cars, then there will be traffic jams. It's simple maths, innit? And yet one of the reasons the Eddington Study proposes national road tolls is as a means of putting off, forever, the need to build more and better roads. It argues: `A national scheme [of road pricing] is estimated to reduce the case for inter-urban road build beyond 2015 by some 80 per cent.. Pricing also has the potential to have positive air quality benefits by providing for freer-flowing traffic [while] reducing the need for new infrastructure build.' For all the talk of road tolls as a short-term solution to the problem of congestion - as has been suggested by various commentators who support the road-pricing measures - in fact they are intended to be a long-term solution to the government's unwillingness to invest in `new infrastructure build'.

Indeed, the Eddington Study proposes shutting down the debate, for once and for all, about whether Britain needs more targeted solutions such as road-pricing or a grander vision of a new and improved road network. It says that, `[T]he UK needs to decide between: a very significant road build programme, or widespread pricing with much more moderate road build'. It then concludes, unsurprisingly, that `congestion-targeted road pricing is the most cost-effective and flexible way to deliver the benefits of reducing unreliability and to tackle congestion'. And finally it recommends (seriously, in Recommendation 3.3) to: `Stop the debate on whether to do this, and move on to debating how to do it.' So screw all of those who think Britain needs a `very significant road build programme': that debate is over, and now we must focus on the finer points of how to charge drivers a tenner every time they venture more than a few miles from their front doors.

Meanwhile, London mayor Ken Livingstone is doing his bit to keep car drivers in their place, announcing that he plans to extend his congestion charge outside of central London and charge bigger cars in Tax Band G 25 pounds a day for the luxury of driving in the capital. That could cost some motorists 6,000 a year. Yet the idea that congestion in London is caused by too many cars - by school-run mums, wideboy businessmen in BMWs, and the rest - doesn't stand up to scrutiny. In fact, again the problem seems to be too little road space. Writing on spiked when the congestion charge was introduced in 2003, Edmund King of the RAC Foundation pointed out there are fewer roads in London than in the past, due to a widening of pavement space, increased pedestrianisation, more bus lanes, and so on; he also pointed out that in 2001 there were 35,000 fewer cars entering London in the morning than there were in 1991, and `traffic levels have fallen by 18 per cent [between 2001 and 2003]'. As with the road pricing scheme, Livingstone's congestion charge punishes individual motorists for what are officialdom's own failures: its failure to build more and decent roads both in and around London.

If you're thinking of jetting off to sunnier or more relaxed climes to escape all this anti-movement miserabilism, think again - or at least be prepared to pay more than usual. Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner, is expected to announce new laws this week which will enforce annual emissions limits on airlines. It is presented as a clampdown on Big Airlines that carelessly damage the environment, but in fact, as The Times points out, it is `cheap flights that are under threat' - the costs are likely to be borne by passengers. This new measure seems to be motivated by a killjoy-ish suspicion of what is deemed `unnecessary travel'. A recent study by The Economist found that aviation's contribution `to total man-made emissions worldwide is around three per cent' - way below the contributions of industry, electricity generation, and other modes of transport. What the dull Dimas and other joyless suits in Brussels really dislike about air travel (especially the cheap variety) is that it seems frivolous and fun, and we can't have any of that.

So it is okay for Dimas and the rest to transport the whole European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg once every month - which involves transporting 732 MEPs, 2,000 parliamentary staff and hundreds of other EU officials hundreds of miles by coach, train and plane at a cost of 209 million Euros each time - but it is not okay for the rest of to take a cheap jaunt to Spain once a year. Double standards, or what?

One of the greatest advances of the past 200 years has been man's ability to travel beyond his garden gate - to move to cities, visit different continents, meet various peoples, and broaden his horizons. The horse and cart was replaced by the car, and the long-haul ship by the aeroplane, as we began to view the world outside our windows as something to be explored and enjoyed rather than as something strange and dangerous. Yet today, six years into the twenty-first century, our rulers look down their noses at free and easy travel and do all they can to clamp down on it. Maybe they want us to stay in our local towns, like our peasant forebears did, and only travel beyond what we know when it is strictly necessary to do so.

They should bear in mind the words of aviation innovator Wilbur Wright: `The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors, who in their gruelling travels in prehistoric times looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space.' Sir Rod, Ken and Stavros Dimas can partake in prehistoric `gruelling travels' if they like; most of the rest of us would rather soar freely like birds in aeroplanes, or like cheetahs in our cars.



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

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

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


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Storms, floods, tornadoes, heat waves. So, what's new?

There's nothing freaky about Britain's 'freak' weather

So, why all the fuss about the weather? The media were aghast that a tornado could rip through quiet residential streets of London last week, leaving 100 houses damaged and several people injured. “Freak” was the favourite description — after all, this is the sort of thing that happens in Oklahoma City, not London NW10. But tornados have been ripping through Britain for centuries. London was hit by an even worse one almost exactly to the day 52 years ago, which left a scene of devastation reminiscent of the Blitz and ended up in Willesden, next door to Kensal Rise. And the deadliest tornado in British history struck in October 1913, when six people were killed at Edwardsville, Glamorgan.

There is nothing freakish about tornados in this country, though they usually get the headlines only when big urban areas are hit. Only two weeks ago a village near Aberystwyth was badly hit when a tornado turned over caravans, sent chimneys crashing and left debris scattered up to 20 miles away. It was barely mentioned in the national media.

The trouble is that we seem to think British weather is a bit of a pussycat — soft and mild most of the time, with the occasional outburst when it gets temperamental. But in reality our “freak” weather is not so freakish after all. In some cases it can be truly monstrous. The floods of 1953 along the East Coast and Thames estuary killed more than 300 people, and came close to inundating London; it led to the Thames Barrier being built. The London smog of December 1952 killed an estimated 12,000 people, the worst air pollution episode in the world; the ensuing public outcry led a reluctant government to pass the Clean Air Act to rid urban areas of coal smoke.

The storm in October 1987 killed 19 people, felled 15 million trees and cost around £1.5 billion. Even more insidious were more than 2,000 deaths attributed to the effects of the blistering hot summer of August 2003. The Boscastle flash flood two years ago showed the horror of a sudden torrential downpour funnelled down narrow valleys.

Lightning strikes in some quite horrifying ways. This summer, in Kidderminster, a mother and her baby were hurled across a bedroom when their house was hit. A woman in Liverpool was electrocuted talking on a phone when lightning ripped down the cable. Lightning bolts have blown up some 20 or so houses, their electrics blasted apart and the buildings set ablaze. Lightning is reckoned to cause £24 million damage each year in the UK to electronic equipment, computers, fax machines, scanners, printers and telephones — even when the equipment is switched off but still plugged into wall sockets.

No, the British weather is a beast, not a pussycat, and demands respect. We live on the battlefront between warring air masses: bitterly cold Arctic air to the north, balmy, sub-tropical air to the south. It is the source of our current storms, downpours, winds and, of course, tornados. Britain has always been a dangerous place. It was no accident that the first Roman invasion 2,000 years ago got blown out by a storm in the Channel, as did the Spanish Armada and many other unwelcome visitors. The old town of Winchelsea on the South Coast was obliterated by a storm in 1287 — its remains lie buried under Pontins on Camber Sands. The greatest recorded natural disaster in British history was the storm of December 1703, which left a scene of apocalyptic proportions: 400 windmills burnt down when the sails spun round too fast, the lead rolled off church roofs, coastlines and rivers were strewn with the wreckage of ships, some 8,000 sailors were killed. A similar storm today is reckoned capable of causing damage reaching £15 billion and a death toll of perhaps thousands.

There was a great deal more respect for the weather when ships were driven by the winds and much of the population worked the land. Modern life is largely cossetted from the elements, but the violence of the weather is finally becoming clearer — in home buildings insurance. The insurance industry knows well that natural disasters are growing worse and more expensive as sea levels rise, storms turn more violent, torrential rains set off floods and heatwaves reach sub-tropical proportions.


Zero carbon home is little more than hot air

Britain's first and only community experiment in "zero-carbon" living raises serious questions about Gordon Brown's ambition that all new homes should be carbon-free. BedZed, an award-winning development of 99 apartments in south London, was supposed to be exactly that: zero-carbon and entirely sustainable. More than four years after opening its doors, however, the landmark eco-village is neither.

The revolutionary wood-burning technology that should have produced all the heat and power is not working and has been abandoned. A "green" water sewage system that used reed beds to mimic natural waste filter systems is also temporarily out of action because of management costs. Power is drawn from the national grid, backed up by gas boilers, and only a quarter of the 300 or so residents use organic food boxes. Each BedZed apartment - thickly insulated and hermetically sealed - also emits about half a ton of carbon dioxide each year. Modern homes built to standard building regulations produce about one ton.

Pooran Desai, who helped found the project with the charity BioRegional Development Group, admitted he is disappointed that the prototype has not quite worked. "This hasn't turned out to be a zero-carbon development, and we have learned as much about how not to do things as how to do them," he said yesterday. "It was designed to be a completely renewable energy site, powered by solar panels and a wood-chip powered heat and power plant (CHP). But while the solar panels produce about 10 per cent of our power, the CHP has not been successful, because the burning produced tar that clogged the filters. The maintenance was very expensive."

BedZed - Beddington Zero Energy Development, near Wallington, Surrey - was started in 1998. It has been thrust into the spotlight by the Chancellor's pre-Budget announcement this week that all new homes should be "zero-carbon" by 2016, and would be rewarded by escaping stamp duty. The project was pioneered by BioRegional Development Group, and funded by the Peabody Trust, one of London's largest social landlords. Designed by the architect Bill Dunster, it was to be a trailblazer for affordable, ecological living, with all but 44 apartments reserved for public sector workers, council tenants and first-time buyers.

Despite the power problems, much about the project has been a success. The walls are about 60cm thick and filled with four times as much insulation as the industry norm, and the windows are double or triple-glazed. As a result, there is no need for central heating and residents pay less than 400 pounds a year for power and water. The apartments are naturally ventilated using a roof funnel system, which draws in fresh air and expels stale air, and each has a garden and access to an allotment [garden]. Waste for recycling is collected, the taps and showers are fitted with flow restrictors, which save 19 litres of water per minute, and the lavatories are flushed with rainwater. The futuristic design means the development is now locally popular; a three-bed sold for more than 260,000 pounds recently. But they are currently nowhere near "zero-carbon", and would not qualify for the stamp duty exemption that Gordon Brown is proposing.

In this respect, they are like every other house in Britain, because there is currently no such thing as a "zero carbon" house existing on its own energy, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Mr Dunster said the wood-chip power-generator would be replaced in spring and insisted that it would make the project completely zero-carbon. "Technology has advanced hugely in the 10 years since we first chose the CHP system, and the new machine is working very successfully elsewhere," he said. "It is not right to say that BedZed cannot be zero-carbon. It will be when the system is replaced, and it is a viable route to go down." [Sounds a lot like Marxism -- it will work one day -- if only we wait long enough]



Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the outgoing Chairman of Environment & Public Works Committee, is pleased to announce the public release of the Senate Committee published booklet entitled "A Skeptic's Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge To Journalists who Cover Global Warming."

The color glossy 64 page booklet -- previously was only available in hardcopy to the media and policy makers -- includes speeches, graphs, press releases and scientific articles refuting catastrophe climate fears presented by the media, the United Nations, Hollywood and former Vice President turned-foreign-lobbyist Al Gore. The "Skeptic's Guide" includes a copy of Senator Inhofe's 50 minute Senate floor speech delivered on September 25, 2006 challenging the media to improve its reporting.

The "Skeptic's Guide", which has received recognition by the LA Times and Congressional Quarterly, is now available free for international distribution on the Senate Environmental & Public Works Web site. The book, which features web links to all supporting documentation, also serves as a handbook to identify the major players in media bias when it comes to poor climate science reporting. The guide presents a reporter's virtual who's-who's of embarrassing and one-sided media coverage, with a focus on such reporters as CBS News "60 Minutes" Scott Pelley, ABC News reporter Bill Blakemore, CNN's Miles O'Brien, and former NBC Newsman Tom Brokaw. Senator Inhofe's "Skeptic's Guide" also includes hard hitting critiques of the New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Associated Press, Reuters, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post.

Senator Inhofe has challenged the media in a series of speeches and hearings to stop the unfounded hype. "The American people are fed up with media for promoting the idea that former Vice President Al Gore represents the scientific "consensus" that SUV's and the modern American way of life have somehow created a "climate emergency" that only United Nations bureaucrats and wealthy Hollywood liberals can solve."


Greenie "artist" does his best to upset children: "A Vancouver Island artist has put an effigy of a crucified Santa Claus on his front lawn, causing some neighbours to complain it's traumatizing their children. Jimmy Wright said the figure is intended to be a comment on society's growing appetite for consumer goods. "I don't know how it came into my mind but I thought I'm going to take Santa Claus and I'm going to crucify him." Wright said his latest work is not for sale. "I think it's an evil way," one woman said. "Kids see things like that and children - they see that on the front page - I think that's terrible." Others are also wondering what motivates someone to crucify Santa. "All I wanted to do was to promote a dialogue," Wright said. "Global warming is consumption-driven so there's the argument. We have to come to terms with our hang-up on consumption. We're in a consumptive orgy, I feel." Critics are concerned the effigy will spoil the magic of Christmas for children. "If that magic is Santa and if that magic is `oh boy lots of stuff,' well then that kid needs the message right away and so does the parent," Wright said."


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

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

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


Monday, December 11, 2006


An original article by Duggan Flanakin []

In mid-November, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi, Acting OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo made two astounding - and profound -- statements. Neither was reported by the European or American press, perhaps because they did not grasp the significance of Barkindo's pronouncements.

The first was that, "For developing countries, poverty alleviation, economic development and social progress are the overriding priorities. Climate change is adding more challenges and creating additional vulnerabilities for these countries, although they are not responsible for the current state of our planet."

The second was equally stunning: "Energy is fundamental for economic development and social progress. While the use of all forms of energy is welcome, it is clear that fossil fuels will continue to satisfy the lion's share of the world's growing energy needs for decades to come."

Two months earlier, at a conference in Riyadh, Barkindo had chastised first-world nations for failing to provide promised investment capital, capacity building, and technology transfer that are so desperately needed by developing nations as they pursue economic growth, social progress, and environmental protection.

Barkindo further insisted that "technological options that allow the continued use of fossil fuels in a carbon-constrained world must be actively promoted." Carbon capture and storage (CCS), in conjunction with CO2-enhanced oil recovery, he noted, offers a win-win opportunity by not only storing CO2, but also increasing oil reserves in mature fields.

Simply put, Barkindo was telling the world that oil is both abundant and irreplaceable as the world's leading energy source for the next several decades, so we had better get busy finding ways to make oil a cleaner fuel - without slowing down on development of low-polluting renewable sources of energy.

Barkindo is not alone in his sentiments. Claude Mandil, executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, agreed at Nairobi that fossil fuels have such a grip on the world's energy market that renewables will remain minority sources of power for decades. And a brand-new study from the Rand Corporation indicates that renewables will at best provide 25% of U.S. energy needs by 2025 - and a much smaller percentage of world needs.

Without nitpicking about whether all "renewable" energy is "clean," the question to answer is whether energy from oil and other fossil fuels has to be "dirty." Technology has already brought cleaner vehicles and cleaner fuels to the transportation sector; the FutureGen project (if allowed to go forward) promises truly clean energy from coal. Another new technology of interest is the helium-cooled, inherently safe, pebble bed modular (nuclear) reactor being developed in South Africa.

If America is to retain its position as a world leader, it is imperative that we both solve the technological problems that keep oil from being a clean fuel and transfer that technology to the nations of the developing world. China - and India, too - as they develop will soon surpass the United States in pollution output, and even Africa is eager for economic development. The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) predicts that world oil demand will grow from 80 million barrels per day in 2003 to 118 million BOPD by 2030, with most of the increase in China, India, and other developing nations that will not likely develop clean fuels technology.

Many U.S. and European policy makers, however, object to investment in fossil fuel technologies because they believe either that fossil fuels are inherently evil (coal in particular has been demonized) or that we are "running out of oil" and thus that our only hope is renewable energy. This is not so.

Historically, worldwide oil consumption to date has totaled about 1.08 trillion barrels, while as of January 1, 2006, proved world oil reserves totaled 1.293 trillion barrels. Moreover, according to the EIA, "Historically, estimates of world oil reserves have generally trended upward." Indeed, the 2006 number is up 15 billion barrels from 2005.

Brand-new research, however, shows that even this number is minuscule. Cambridge Energy Research Associates on November 14 published a report by Pulitzer Prize winning oil historian Daniel Yergin, who says the remaining global oil resource base is at least 3.74 trillion barrels - three times current proved oil reserves. This number, too, may be conservative, given new oil discoveries and new technologies that lower the cost of exploiting known deposits. World coal reserves are even larger.

The reality is that fossil fuels (and uranium, to a lesser extent) hold the best promise for helping the world's poor to escape pestilence, disease, malnutrition, and even political oppression over the next fifty years. Energy is essential for developing transportation networks, operating schools and hospitals, operating manufacturing and service industry facilities, and providing refrigeration and sanitation and other services that will foster improved public health.

Just as true, rich nations will continue needing fossil fuel energy for decades to come. This means that the best hope for reducing pollution is to find technological solutions that will further reduce or mitigate emissions from fossil fuel use and then to transfer those technologies to developing nations as they build their own energy infrastructure.

Finally, the window of opportunity for the West to influence energy policy worldwide is dwindling. If Western nations continue to insist on a renewables-only approach to future energy needs, the developing world will "just say no" and move ahead without either our help or our standards for clean development. We will not find the answers the developing world needs if we fail to realize that we, too, are in the same boat on energy and pollution.


She "forgets" the basic truth that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. An email to Benny Peiser from Dennis Bray below

In The US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Hearing on Climate Change and the Media Dr. Naomi Oreskes made the following statement:

'Since then, scientists around the world have worked assiduously to flesh out the details of this broadly affirmed picture. The purpose of my 2004 study of the scientific literature, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science, was to assess how much disagreement remained in the scientific community about the basic reality of global warming and its human causes. The answer surprised me: not one scientific paper in the random sample disagreed with the consensus position. Scientists, my study showed, are still arguing about the details, but the overall picture is clear. There is a consensus among both the leaders of climate science and the rank and file of active climate researchers.'. See here (PDF)

Of particular note here is the phrase 'not one scientific paper in the random sample disagreed with the consensus position'. I would like to ask anyone more familiar with the study if the sample explicitly states that they do agree with the so called consensus? If one looks at the original paper it states:

'The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories [how many explicitly in the first category is not disclosed] either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view [how many explicitly is not disclosed], 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current [was there a previous?] anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position. [...] Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimate might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argues that point' . See here

Consensus cannot be claimed by omission. I am sure not many, if any, of the papers in Dr. Oreskes' study disagreed on the existence of Santa Claus either. There we have it, another scientific consensus!

Benny Peiser replies:

Let me repeat that the ISI data set used by Oreskes includes, according to my count, only 13 abstracts (less than 2% of the sample) that explicitly endorse the consensus view. The vast majority of abstracts do not mention anthropogenic climate change. See here. Nevertheless, I think it is quite obvious today that - for numerous reasons - openly sceptical climate researchers have become a very small minority indeed. To claim that they don't exist or no longer publish in peer-reviewed journals is, of course, ridiculous.

Bias in Climate Change Research?

Post lifted from Tim Worstall

No, no, of course there isn't is there? Everyone involved is simply a scientist doing their absolute best to uncover the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Except, unfortunately, this appears not to be the case. Read James Annan.

To give you the background. Annan and his co-author were looking at climate sensitivity. This is, (forgive me if I make this too too simple as I'm not a scientist), essentially, how much should average temperature change if atmospheric CO2 doubles from pre-industrial levels. There have been any number of attempts to work this out for it is an extremely important number. Much of the work of the International Panel on Climate Change depends upon it, of course, as do things like the Stern Review and so on.

Think of it this way: we can extrapolate into the future the amount of CO2 (and other greenhouse gasses) that are being emitted, we can make some guesses about population change, technology change and all the rest, but these only tell us how much CO2 there will be in the atmosphere. The next crucial stage is, OK, well, but what effect will that have?

What Annan et al did was use a completely different method (from memory, using some Bayesian statistics) to revise earlier estimates of what that climate sensitivity was. The range was rather sharply reduced, and most certainly the higher of the previous estimates were ruled out.

That's pretty important news, right?

Just as a note, yes, I know I'm thought of as being something of a climate change denier (which I'm not but let's leave that aside) but this approach was praised by Tim Lambert. Someone a long long way away from being a climate change denier (and with a deep and abiding (ahem) love for people like myself and Iain Murray. Coff coff, again, just in case anyone didn't get that.)

So, we've got new information of importance to the whole climate change debate. Can they get it published? Err, no, there seems to be some resistance to getting this result into the literature. Yes, it's been peer reviewed and Annan's actually posted up the results of such review:

Couldn't he have made that judgment 10 weeks ago, rather than waiting for 3 broadly favourable reviews (even Ref 1 clearly thought it was important and publishable) and then cherry-picking the worst?

Now, something like this, that blogs have already made generally known (well, to that small number of people who read these sorts of blogs), not getting publication as a scientific paper, is that really all that important?

Well, yes:

Meanwhile, people like Stern and the IPCC can only go by what is in the literature, and the Convenient Untruth of high climate sensitivity is very useful for one wing of the political debate. So I'm sure the disinformation will march on apace...

Now remember, this is a climate scientist, telling us that some of the more vibrantly excited over-estimates of climate sensitivity (and thus how much warming for how much CO2) are in fact incorrect and he can't get published. As it's not published in a climate science journal those making policy and the IPCC and so on not only do not have to, they can't, take notice of his findings.

So, is there any bias in the research and science of climate change? You choose. Will of The Stoat with more.


One month after Sir Nicholas Stern published his review of the economics of climate change, his peers have had time to say what they think of his work. And the answer, it seems, is: not a lot. Sir Nicholas, the head of the British government's economic service, concluded that the potential costs of climate change were so large, and the costs of shifting away from fossil fuels so relatively modest, that the world should take urgent action. Those who disagree with that analysis and prescription fall into three main camps.

The first group says that he lacks political realism?a charge made by Robert Samuelson, in the Washington Post, when he called the report "a masterpiece of misleading public relations." Policies that might curb greenhouse gases, Mr Samuelson said, would "require politicians and the public to act in exceptionally `enlightened' (read: `unrealistic') ways." They would have to impose and bear costs that would not deliver returns until after they were dead. This may be true, but it is unfair as a criticism of the Stern review, which took this problem as a starting point.

A second camp has accused the report of selection bias. One eminent climate-change economist, Richard Tol, complains that, "For water, agriculture, health and insurance, the Stern review consistently selects the most pessimistic study in the literature." There is something in this, though Sir Nicholas would claim that he chose his studies according to the robustness of their methodology.

A third line of criticism, made by William Nordhaus, a father of climate-change economics, has emerged as the most forceful. It turns on fairness, and how we place a value today on benefits in the future. When economists do a cost-benefit analysis, they try to place a present-day value on benefits assumed to be enjoyed in the future. To do this they discount the future value by an annual percentage rate, a discount rate, which is typically set at around 3-5%. But such calculations are typically done for benefits expected to come in 20, 30 or, at most, 50 years' time. Climate-change economics requires a time horizon of centuries. A typical discount rate would assign almost no current value to benefits accruing in, say, the 23rd century. So why spend money today on something with no apparent value today?

Sir Nicholas argues that, in this case, we are wrong to use a typical discount rate. How can we say that our great-great-great-grandchildren are worth less than we are worth ourselves? He argues for a discount rate of 0.1%. That places a much higher present-day value on benefits accruing centuries into the future, and thus makes a stronger case for spending money now.

Mr Nordhaus retorts that there are other ways to look at the ethics of inter-generational investment. One option would be to take into account the expected wealth of future generations. Global per capita consumption is increasing by 1.3% a year in real terms. At that rate today's average income per head, of $7,600, would rise to $94,000 by 2200. If climate change were to reduce global income by 13.8% over the same period (a figure derived from Stern), the average income per head would rise to $81,000 rather than $94,000. On that basis, says Mr Nordhaus, it would be fairer to constrain the income of future and richer generations, than to impose additional costs on a poorer generation today.

Mr Nordhaus does not contend that the world should do nothing about greenhouse-gas emissions. But he questions the confidence with which the Stern report concludes that lots of things should be done, and fast. The "central questions" about any policy response to global warming, says Mr Nordhaus, "how much, how fast, and how costly?remain open". As far as he and like-minded critics are concerned, the Stern report has informed the debate about climate change, but has not come anywhere near resolving it.



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

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

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


Sunday, December 10, 2006

What is the maximum temperature of the Earth?

Questions and thought experiments around global warming and the greenhouse effect

Author: Ian Schumacher

The greenhouse effect is well known, although perhaps not well understood. Essentially greenhouse gases in the atmosphere act as a band-pass filter. High energy visible light can easily come in, heat up the ground and the atmosphere, and be converted to lower energy infrared light which the atmosphere absorbs and reflects. A question has not been asked of this process: How far can it go? What is the maximum possible temperature the greenhouse effect can produce? This paper attempts to answer this question and other related questions, and to discuss the postulates that arise as a result.

Black bodies

A black body absorbs all of the light that reaches it. It has an absorptivity of 1. Thermodynamics states that objects at thermodynamic equilibrium radiate as much energy as they receive. The Stefan-Boltzmann equation describes the energy flux as it relates to temperature for a body in thermodynamic equilibrium:

A reasonably close approximation to a black body is a spherical cavity with a small hole for radiation to enter and exit. Many of us in our youth may have imagined such a cavity with a mirrored inner surface and a small hole in which to shine a light, mentally imagining how this might "trap" the light allowing it to build up and up to some bomb-like explosive level. However, now we know that the light energy will not build up to infinity but will be exactly balanced by outgoing thermal radiation once the temperature inside the sphere reaches a sufficient level.

Now imagine that we place a high-pass filter over the entrance of the cavity. High-energy high-frequency light will go in, hit the inner surface, bounce around, and be absorbed; low-energy, low-frequency thermal radiation will be produced which will hit our high-pass filter and be rejected. Have we changed anything? At first glance it might seem that we have, if we consider an idealized high-pass filter that does nothing but filter light. However, a real filter will have a temperature, and at thermodynamic equilibrium, by definition, the temperature of the filter will be the same as the temperature of the walls inside the sphere, and so at equilibrium the situation is exactly the same as before. Once we reach equilibrium the filter becomes irrelevant and the incoming and outgoing radiation will be equal as in the case where we don't have a filter.

Postulate 1: The average temperature of a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with an external energy source can never exceed the temperature of a black body in the same environment.

The total energy flux must be equal; however, can there be temperatures inside of the spherical cavity that are much higher than the average? No. At first it seems as though energy flux can be concentrated in some areas and spread out in others. A magnifying glass, or a parabolic mirror are obvious mechanisms to achieve such a concentration. However, unlike an external energy source such as the sun, the thermodynamic radiation inside the cavity at equilibrium will have no directional bias and therefore there are no mechanisms available to be able to focus this energy.

Postulate 2: The maximum temperature of a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with an external energy source can never exceed the temperature of black body in the same environment.

Postulates 1 and 2, do not seem particularly revolutionary and to most people with a physics background they probably seem rather trivial and obvious. However, their statement up front is unfortunately necessary in order to overcome the common misinterpretation of the greenhouse effect that allows for conditions to violate postulates 1 and 2. When trying to determine the maximum temperature of the Earth, it is important to know which mechanisms limit this maximum. The parallels between our high-pass filter example and the greenhouse effect are obvious, so does this mean that the greenhouse effect does not exist? No, it does not mean any such thing. The greenhouse effect is real, however it does mean that the greenhouse effect can never produce a temperature that is higher than the temperature of a black body in the same environment.

Postulate 3: The greenhouse effect can never produce a temperature that is higher than the temperature of a black body in the same environment

For many readers this will cause a great pause and some reflection. It has become conventional wisdom that the greenhouse effect has essentially no limits, but this is clearly not true. The greenhouse effect works exactly as previously described. High energy visible light can easily come in, heat up the ground and the atmosphere, and be converted to lower energy infrared light which the atmosphere absorbs and reflects. High-energy high-frequency light enters through the atmosphere and is absorbed by the surface and atmosphere to produce low-energy low-frequency thermal radiation. This low frequency thermal radiation is more readily absorbed by the atmosphere and is radiated back to the surface and out to space. The result of the greenhouse effect is to raise the equivalent absorptivity of Earth closer and closer to unity (but never exceeding it). To those having trouble believing postulate 3, I recommend they work through postulated 1 & 2 in their mind until it becomes clear that this must be the case.

The sun, the moon, and the earth

It should now be clear that the maximum temperature of Earth can be no higher than the maximum temperature of an equivalent black body. We will now try to evaluate what that maximum is. For simplicity, all values and graphs have been obtained from Wikipedia unless otherwise stated.

The moon is quite close to a black body. It is estimated to have an absorptivity of 0.88. Conveniently the moon is nearly in the same environment in space as the Earth. The maximum temperature found on the moon is approximately 390o K. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation described earlier the maximum flux on the moon is

which for our values gives a flux of . Already we have a problem. The flux on Earth from the sun as measured by satellites is widely reported to be around , or significantly lower. Why the discrepancy? It is interesting to note that even with only these three elements, moon data, sun data, and the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, we end up with slightly inconsistent results, which may give us some insight into the level of uncertainty in the data that still remains in this area. Since we are interested in the maximum temperature we will take the maximum value of .

The earth is approximately spherical and receives light from the sun on a cross-sectional area of a circle, but radiates thermal energy from the area of a sphere. The ratio of the spherical area to the circular area is 4. Dividing the incoming energy flux by 4 gives the Earth an approximate maximum temperature of 285o K. Again we have another inconsistency as this maximum temperature is below the widely reported global average temperature of 288o K. Also the earth has an uneven distribution of temperatures and therefore an uneven distribution of flux, the end result of which would be to lower the average temperature even more. Still the result is quite close and it suggests that the Earth is behaving very closely to a black body and is operating very close to its maximum possible temperature.

Postulate 4: The earth is operating very close to its maximum possible temperature.

Again, this will cause many to pause as it goes against the conventional wisdom. However we will attempt to provide two pieces of evidence to support this case:

- ice ages and the runaway greenhouse effect

- climate variability/stability

Ice ages and the runaway greenhouse effect

There is a surprising amount of debate about what causes ice ages and their ending. The core feature of ice ages is their remarkable periodicity. The figure below shows sample data for the last four ice ages.

The most likely cause of the ice ages is due to fluctuations in the intensity and the distribution of solar radiation caused by changes in the tilt in the Earth's axis. This theory was first described by the Serbian scientist, Milutin Milankovitch, in 1938. There are three major cyclical components of the Earth's orbit about the sun that contribute to these fluctuations: the procession (tilt of the Earth's axis), as well as Earth's orbital eccentricity and orbital tilt. The exact cause and effect relationship between orbital forcing and ice ages is still a matter of great debate, however the match of glacial/interglacial frequencies to the Milankovitch orbital forcing periods is so close that orbital forcing is generally accepted. Other theories include greenhouse gas forcing, changes in the Earth's plate tectonics, changes in solar variation, and changes in absorptivity due to dust and gases spewed by volcanoes.

The exact cause of the ice ages is not critical to our discussion other than to note that the Earth appears to have two metastable states: an ice age period and a warm period.

Of note in the above figure is the strong correlation between carbon dioxide and temperature. As the temperature increases, ice sheets recede, which increases the absorptivity of the earth, and more carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and other greenhouse gases are released. This increases the temperature further, which causes the ice sheets to recede further, and causes more greenhouse gases to be released, etc. This is a positive feedback loop and is the "runaway greenhouse effect" in action. The positive feedback also works in the opposite direction causing the earth to drastically fluctuate between these two metastable states. What causes this runaway greenhouse effect to end? The answer is that once the earth has achieved its maximum absorptivity (or very close to it), additional receding ice or greenhouse gases becomes irrelevant. The climate is "pinned" to the maximum possible value.

Postulate 5: The transition from Ice Age to warm period and back to Ice Age is achieved through a runaway greenhouse effect and its opposite

Climate variability/stability

Another remarkable feature is the relative stability of the climate at the peak of the warming cycle. The variability of temperatures during an ice age is relatively high compared to periods of warming. However this makes perfect sense if one considers the climate as being "pinned" to the upper limit during the warm periods and therefore remaining stable due to strong positive feedback. At the upper limit, the major driver of upper temperatures becomes solar input as this is the only thing remaining that can effectively increase temperatures.

Postulate 6: The runaway greenhouse effect ends when the Earth has achieved a effective absorptivity as close to unity as it can get after which the earth becomes insensitive to further positive feedback changes.

Can there be a tipping point or a runaway greenhouse effect from a sudden injection of CO2/methane or the melting of ice?

No there can not. The Earth has already experienced a runaway greenhouse effect thousands of times during its lifetime. Each time it is run to the maximum possible level that it can, bringing us the much more habitable climate that we have today. It is not possible for there to be a tipping point to spiral us into a third metastable climate state that has not been shown to exist during the entire history of Earth. Barring a sudden change in input from the sun, changes in climate upwards can only occur in a smooth, slow and limited fashion. A tipping point is possible, however, towards another ice age as has happened thousands of times before.

(The paper above is an original publication. Ian Schumacher [] has a degree in Engineering Physics and has done a master's program in physics and mathematical modeling. He used to work as a contract research scientist for the Canadian military, but has long since moved on and is now a programmer/software architect living in Vancouver, Canada)


Eppur si muove -- "and yet it moves" -- was supposedly Galileo's final statement after being forced by the Church to retract his revolutionary cosmological theories. He had run up against the overwhelming consensus of his time -- that the Earth was the center of the universe and that saying otherwise was detrimental to the public good, not to mention Galileo's health. For centuries, the scientific method has been an antidote to such persecution. Right or wrong, scientists should be free to advance their theories without the threat of extra-scientific censure, except perhaps when national security is at stake. Science alone should judge scientific validity.

Yet today, there appears to be a band of scientists and agitators who are willing to use the methods of Galileo's persecutors to protect their own cherished theories. In the field of climate science, some people want to declare the scientific debate closed, allowing only those public statements that advance the approved idea that global warming is occurring, that man is responsible for it, and that it will probably be catastrophic unless greenhouse gas emissions are drastically curbed.

In its most extreme form, this phenomenon has involved calls for scientific versions of the Nuremberg Trials (from a writer at the environmental magazine Grist) and the equation of "climate change denial" with Holocaust denial. Others have branded as criminal those who question restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. In September 2006, on CNBC's Global Players program, Jeremy Leggett, CEO of a solar power company, called for fellow guest Fred Smith, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (the think tank where I work), to be locked up for expressing his views. James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who has vociferously complained in the media of being silenced by the Bush administration for his research on global warming, suggested -- without a hint of irony -- that Mr. Smith should not even have been given such a platform for his views.

So just what is the nature of the "denial" that these scientists and environmentalists want to eradicate? First, there is the proposition that the Earth may not be warming at all. The truth is that there are not many scientists who publicly express this view nowadays. While there are many who question the reliability of surface temperature records, there are few who dispute the evidence from satellite records showing that the Earth has warmed 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade since the start of the data in the 1970s. These records, however, also show virtually no warming in the Southern Hemisphere (global warming isn't very global). There is ongoing scientific debate about the calibration of the data, but essentially this debate is over: The Earth has warmed since the 1970s.

Yet that isn't a very long time at all, certainly not long enough to establish whether or not the warming is so unprecedented that civilization and the biosphere have not had to deal with similar warming before. So the second target of the "denial" charge is those who dispute that the current warming is unprecedented. Yet here there is clearly ongoing scientific debate, with developments in just the past few months. A small group of paleoclimatologists issued a series of temperature reconstructions finding that global temperature was mostly stable for the past thousand years until a precipitous recent rise. Questions, however, were raised about the quality of the data and the statistical methods used to achieve this result. A team of eminent statisticians charged by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to investigate the scientists' methodology confirmed that the methods they had used virtually guaranteed the result they obtained. Meanwhile, the National Research Council (NRC) found that the quality of the historic data meant that nothing more could be said with certainty than that the current warm period is warmer than at any time since the 1600s, which the NRC agreed was part of the "Little Ice Age" -- something that the paleoclimatologists' reconstruction suggested had not occurred. The NRC found that the suggestion that the current warm period was the warmest for a thousand years was merely plausible, but both unprovable and unfalsifiable given the current state of the historic data. The NRC also upheld the methodological criticisms. It is therefore somewhat of a stretch to claim that science has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the current warm period is unprecedented.

Third, the "denial" charge is aimed at those who purportedly suggest that mankind has nothing to do with the current warming. This represents a considerable oversimplification of the issue. Such "contrarian" scientists -- such as S. Fred Singer, Patrick J. Michaels, and Richard S. Lindzen -- have affirmed time and again that mankind is responsible for some of the warming. Basic physics indicates that the more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the more heat will be trapped there. Yet there are far more climate "forcings" than just greenhouse gases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the NRC both admit that our current understanding of these other forcings is low. Until we know much more about land-use change, aerosols, and solar activity, to name but a few, we cannot be certain that greenhouse gases have been driving the recent warming trend. That is why the NRC concluded that, "Because of the large and still uncertain level of natural variability inherent in the climate record and the uncertainties in the time histories of the various forcing agents (and particularly aerosols), a causal linkage between the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the observed climate changes during the twentieth century cannot be unequivocally established."

The final charge against "deniers" is that they fail to acknowledge that global warming will be catastrophic. Most deniers would happily cop to this accusation, and they have plenty of evidence to back up their stance. When Al Gore talks about twenty feet of sea-level rise from the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), he is failing to acknowledge the science. The IPCC estimates less than a meter of sea-level rise this century and considers catastrophic destabilization of ice sheets unlikely. Even if the WAIS were to melt, research indicates it would take several thousand years to do so, more than enough time for people to get out of the way.

The facts are similar with regard to most other supposed "catastrophic" impacts. Even if the theories linking increased sea surface temperature to more intense hurricanes are correct -- and the hypothesis is the subject of intense ongoing debate -- hurricanes will only be about 5 percent stronger by 2100 in a worst-case scenario. Polar bear biologists dispute whether or not the Arctic ursines are under any real threat from the melting of Arctic ice -- 15 of 17 populations do not even appear to be affected. Some evidence from nineteenth-century Arctic explorers even suggests that ice sheet extents were as receded then as they are today. The same holds true for claims about air quality, heat waves, and precipitation. There is no uncontested, compelling scientific evidence that the effects of global warming will be catastrophic to health and welfare.

So if that's all that the climate change denial charge can mean, why is it being made with such enthusiasm? The answer seems to be the chilling effect it has on the scientific debate. It makes public profession of opposing views unpalatable. Thus, Richard Lindzen of M.I.T. argues, "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks, or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."

There is another, even more worrying result of the denial charge. It enables alarmists to portray the science as dispositive. The only way to solve the problem, science supposedly shows, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions radically. Anyone who argues against this conclusion is deemed a denier.

Yet in public policy, science is not dispositive. Economic, political, and moral considerations also need to be taken into account. Practical tradeoffs and competing priorities need to be considered. By tarring those opposed to climate-change policy with the charge of denial, the alarmists have elided the economic, political, and moral debate to their great advantage.

Even worse, the denial charge obscures the many uncertainties that surround our understanding of climate change and its implications. Global warming is a serious enough subject that it needs to be debated fully, submitting every hypothesis to rigorous testing and hard-headed analysis. When the alarmists say the debate is over, responsible scientists and policymakers must reply, like Galileo, "And yet it moves."



Investors are pouring billions of dollars into "renewable" energy sources such as ethanol, biodiesel and solar power that promise to reduce the world's reliance on petroleum. But exploiting these alternatives may produce unintended environmental and economic consequences -- fallout that could offset many of the expected benefits.

Here on the island of Borneo, a thick haze often encloses this city of 500,000 people. The cause: forest fires that have blazed across the island, some of which were set to clear land to produce palm oil -- a key ingredient in biodiesel, a clean-burning diesel fuel alternative.

The bluish smoke is at times so dense that it leaves the city dark and gloomy even at midday. The haze has sometimes closed Pontianak's airport and prompted local volunteers to pass out face-masks on city streets. From July through mid-October, Indonesian health officials reported 28,762 smog-related cases of respiratory illness across the country.

"I feel it in my breath when I breathe," said Imanuel Patasik, a 26-year-old delivery man, as he sat in one of Pontianak's many open-air coffee shops on a recent evening. When the smoke is really bad, he wears a mask to work, but still wakes up feeling sick. "It's part of life here," he said with a sigh.

Seasonal rains have helped quell the fires over the past few weeks. Even so, the miasma of smoke from Borneo and the island of Sumatra -- an annual phenomenon that blankets large parts of Southeast Asia in smog, including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur -- underscores a troubling dark side of the world's alternative-energy boom. Among other problems, the fires set to clear forest land spew millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, experts say. In doing so, they exacerbate the very global-warming concerns biofuels are meant to alleviate.

Such side-effects aren't an isolated problem. In Indonesia and Malaysia, forests are being slashed for new energy-yielding crops or other unconventional fuels. In India, environmental activists say, water tables are dropping as farmers try to boost production of ethanol-yielding sugar.

"Let's be brutally frank: (The push for alternative fuels) is going to cause significant changes for the environment," says Sean Darby, an equities analyst and expert on alternative-energy companies at Nomura International in Hong Kong. He is most worried about the strain on water resources caused by accelerated crop production. Water, he says, is "just as precious" as oil.

Some experts are also concerned that crops for biofuels will compete with other farmland, possibly driving up global costs of basic food production.

It isn't clear how serious these problems will become -- or whether they eventually will be resolved through new technologies and stricter environmental measures. Proponents of alternative energy, including palm-oil industry executives, say the dangers are exaggerated and are outweighed by the benefits new fuels promise.



They LOATHE air travel -- except for themselves of course

A big expansion of Heathrow, including a new runway, will be endorsed by the Government next week after a decision by ministers that the economic benefits vastly outweigh the environmental damage.

BAA, which owns Heathrow, is secretly developing a pollution charging scheme targeted at lorries to overcome the problem of poor air quality around the airport in West London. An internal BAA document states that the best way to resolve the problem of nitrogen dioxide pollution is to reduce the number of older, more polluting lorries passing the airport on the M4 and nearby roads. Lorries emit about 15 times more nitrogen dioxide than cars. BAA believes lorries could be deterred either by road tolls or by penalties for the most polluting trucks.

The new runway would allow an additional 500 flights a day to pass over London and create a new flight path over Acton, Chiswick and Fulham. Up to 700 homes, including eight Grade II listed buildings, would have to be demolished to make way for the runway and a terminal.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has accepted the argument put by Sir Rod Eddington in his report last week on the future of Britain’s transport system, that expansion of Heathrow is crucial to the economy and to maintaining London’s position as Europe’s financial centre. This week’s Pre-Budget Report said: “To avoid the economic consequences of constraining aviation growth, further expansion of UK airport capacity is needed. Heathrow plays a unique role in the UK as a hub airport and demand for capacity already significantly exceeds supply, leading to less competition, greater congestion, reduced choice and higher prices for passengers.”

The report made no mention of Stansted, which the Government had promised, in its aviation White Paper of December 2003, would receive a new runway before Heathrow. Next week’s progress report on the White Paper will continue to support a second runway at Stansted but the Government no longer believes Heathrow should have to wait for the Essex airport to be expanded. None of the leading airlines support BAA’s plans for a new runway at Stansted. Ferrovial, the Spanish company which recently bought BAA, agrees with British Airways that the priority should be expanding Heathrow because demand for flights is far greater there.

The Department for Transport has been monitoring air pollution levels around Heathrow and is confident they can be reduced to comply with European limits by the time a third runway opens. BAA hopes to submit a planning application for a third runway at Heathrow in 2008 and to open it by 2017. A BAA source said: “We are completely committed to expanding Heathrow.”

Ministers are also keen to allow more take-offs and landings on the existing two runways while the third runway goes through the planning process. A consultation paper will be published in the new year proposing the ending of runway alternation, which gives residents under the flight path respite from aircraft noise for half the day. The two runways could accommodate an extra 60,000 flights a year if each was used for take-offs and landings throughout the day.

John Stewart, chairman of ClearSkies, which opposes the expansion of Heathrow, said: “The Government is gearing up to allow a new runway at Heathrow before Stansted but they won’t be honest about it. “There will be the mother of all battles over Heathrow because the environmental movement sees it as a cause celebre. It will be the Newbury bypass of the skies.” In October 40 people living near Heathrow attended training sessions on direct action techniques. One idea is for a convoy of cars to stop inside the road tunnels under the northern runway, causing chaos for people trying to reach the terminals.



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

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

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


Saturday, December 09, 2006


From Prof. John Brignell -- replying to a claim that the current scientific orthodoxy is not biased

Dear Richard Black

I will take your piece at face value and assume that you are not being disingenuous. What on earth makes you believe that we sceptics think that science is against us? We know that science is for us. Science and its methods are essentially sceptical. From the Bacons, through the likes of Locke, Hume and Russell, to the magnificent climax of Popper's statement of the principle of falsifiability, the scientific method was painfully established, only to be abandoned in a few short decades. The method was essentially sceptical, as Thomas Huxley put it:

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

Scientists of the old school are not just sceptical about global warming, they are sceptical about everything. That is the way we were trained. Fortunately, even in this new era of blind faith, there are an admirable few among the new generation who also adhere to the principles of pure science.

It is not science that is against us, it is the Green establishment -- politics, media and, alas, the major scientific institutions and journals. Consensus had never had a legitimate place in science. As Einstein is reputed to have remarked, when the Nazis published a book in which one hundred German scientists pronounced him wrong, "It only needed one of them to be right." There was indeed a consensus in physics at the start of the twentieth century that "the science is settled", but that was blown apart by Einstein and his contemporaries.

As for the implication that there is no evidence of bias in publication and the award of research grants, that arises from one of the fallacies of the historical method. No one is going to write down the fact that they made a decision through pure bias. People do not leave behind an audit trial of their misdeeds for posterity. To see an example of how it works, you only have to look at the history of the editor of Nature jumping through hoops to prevent publication of valid criticism of the so-called hockey stick; or the authoritative Wegman Report. That theory was a ludicrous contradiction of the findings of history, art, archaeology, entomology and many other disciplines, yet it was strenuously maintained by voluntary censorship.

Take it from one who found it more honourable to take early retirement (and write independently about these and other matters) than conform to the diktats of the Green establishment; for the last decade there has been only one game in town as far as research is concerned. When your university is locked in a struggle for financial survival and is dependent on large chunks of taxpayers' money for politically approved programmes, you do not earn friends by rocking the boat. Thus, with a few notable exceptions, the sceptics (the true scientists) have been weeded out. Would-be researchers are told the fields in which funding is available. They are no longer physics, chemistry, engineering etc. They are new subjects, such as sustainability and pollution.

You create a Catch 22 situation by specifically excluding web sites as sources; for that is where the sceptics are now mainly obliged to operate, some of them very distinguished professors emeriti.

Your final paragraphs: "But if research is being skewed and distorted, we ought to know, because good climate science is the key to good climate policy. If it is not, then the most damaging accusation raised by the sceptical community will have been laid to rest" contain two misunderstandings. The first is one of hubris, that there can be a "climate policy". Human effects are orders of magnitude below natural ones and lost in the noise.

The second is in the way that science works (or, more accurately, used to work). If in any field there were a disagreement, a conference or colloquium would be called. The opponents would carry on a vigorous altercation to resolve the issue. Then they would retire amicably to the bar.

Now there have to be two conferences, one for the traditional scientists, which is largely ignored, the other a lavish media and political jamboree, which receives wide coverage. Furthermore, any sceptic who raises his head above the barricade can be assured of a campaign of calumny and ad hominem attacks from self-appointed guardians of political correctness.


Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, said today's hearing about the media and climate change revealed that "Scare tactics should not drive public policy." The hearing's purpose was to examine the media's presentation of climate science and featured scientists and media experts.

"As the Democrats rush to pass costly carbon cap legislation in the next Congress, today's hearing showed that the so-called `scientific consensus' does not exist. Leading scientists from the U.S. and Australia denounced much of the media for becoming advocates for alarmism rather than objectivity," Senator James Inhofe said.

"I was particularly interested in testimony by Dr. Daniel Schrag of Harvard University, who believes that manmade emissions are driving global warming. Dr. Schrag said the Kyoto Protocol is not the right approach to take and agreed it would have almost no impact on the climate even if all the nations fully complied," Inhofe added. Currently 13 of the 15 EU nations are failing to meet the requirements of Kyoto.

During his opening remarks, Senator Inhofe stated, "Rather than focus on the hard science of global warming, the media has instead become advocates for hyping scientifically unfounded climate alarmism." Senator Inhofe cited criticism from believers in manmade global warming who have slammed the media for presenting "a quasi-religious register of doom, death [and] judgment" and compared the media's coverage to the "unreality of Hollywood films."

Scientists testifying at the hearing described how much of the media has over-hyped the coverage of global warming and used scare tactics to garner public attention. Paleoclimate researcher Bob Carter of Australia's James Cook University, who has had over 100 papers published refereed scientific journals, noted that "there is huge uncertainly in every aspect of climate change."

"If you look at the ice core records, you will discover that yes, changes in carbon dioxide are accompanied by changes in temperature, but you will also discover that the change in temperature precedes the change in carbon dioxide by several hundred years to a thousand or so years. Reflect on that. And reflect on when you last heard somebody say that they thought lung cancer caused smoking. Because that is what you are arguing if you argue on the glacial time scale that changes in carbon dioxide cause temperature changes. It is the other way around," Carter testified.

Carter also noted that the media promotes "Couldism, mightism and perhapsism, fueled by computer modeling." Carter explained, "If, could, may, might, probably, perhaps, likely, expected, projected ...Wonderful words. So wonderful, in fact, that environmental writers scatter them through their articles on climate change like confetti. The reason is that - in the absence of empirical evidence for damaging human-caused climate change - public attention is best captured by making assertions about "possible" change. And, of course, using the output of computer models in support, virtually any type of climatic hazard can be asserted as a possible future change."

David Deming, a geophysicist from the University of Oklahoma, testified that "Every natural disaster that occurs is now linked [by the media] with global warming, no matter how tenuous or impossible the connection. As a result, the public has become vastly misinformed on this and other environmental issues."

Dan Gainor of the Business & Media Institute noted that reporters are violating their own code of ethics with their one-sided climate coverage. "It also violates the ethical code of the Society of Professional Journalists which urges the media to `Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.' That code calls for reporters to "distinguish between advocacy and news reporting.'" Gainor added.



People were worried. Considering the barrage of bad news bombarding them about how global warming was going to rearrange their world, who can blame them? Hurricane after hurricane had battered North America through the late summer and fall of 2005, including the infamous monster that swamped New Orleans and caused billions in damage, Katrina. The causal link between global warming and more hurricanes that Al Gore and other 'environgelicals' pitch to the eager-to-be-believers contains just enough plausibility -- warmer Earth, warmer ocean; warmer ocean, bigger hurricanes -- to raise legitimate concern. And even if one doesn't accept that humans are the primary drivers of climate change, it's indisputable that the Earth is in a warming trend. So, since we all know hurricanes gain their strength from warmer waters, it seemed reasonable to believe that rising temperatures might spur greater storm activity.

'Warm oceans are like fuel to a hurricane,' climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzer, of the U.S. union of concerned scientists' national climate education program, warned last September. 'It's like throwing gasoline onto a fire.' CNN, no doubt trying to be helpful, dumbed it down. Hurricanes, the news network explained, were becoming 'bigger and meaner.' (Makes one pine for the days when storms were 'nice,' huh?) Then, to top it all off, hurricane forecasters were unanimous. 2006 was going to be an another above-average year in the frequency of the terrible wind wraiths.

Of course, the inconvenient truth is that forecasters had totally messed up in the prediction department heading into 2005. Last year, the hurricane seers previously intoned, would be about an average year for named tropical storms, including hurricanes. They forecast perhaps 11 named storms and six hurricanes; instead, there were 28 named storms and 14 hurricanes. Still, what were the chances of them getting it totally wrong again? Pretty good, it turned out.

Their predictions for an above average year for hurricanes in 2006, mean or otherwise, were as off target as their 2005 forecasts for a ho-hum, business-as-usual hurricane season. Despite endorsement from Gore's trendy summer movie, which warned watchers that global warming was going to spawn ever more ferocious wind storms, this year's hurricanes refused to follow the script, appearing in smaller numbers and packing weaker winds than had been widely feared. In other words, a below-average year.

So, what happened? Why, if the planet is slowly cooking on a manmade spit, didn't 2006 follow 2005 (and 2004) and produce more of the kind of mean, monstrous hurricanes that spark impassioned activists and headlines? Simple. The link between global warming and hurricanes is controversial, at best. There's no consensus among scientists about how climate change will affect hurricanes. Some believe warmer temperatures will lead to more storms, others that the result will be a dampening of activity. During most of the last quarter of the 20th century, as the Earth continued to heat up - thanks, according to Kyoto enthusiasts, to humanity's ever-growing spewing of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere - hurricane activity was, on the contrary, decidedly muted. In fact, for the 25 years between 1970 and 1995, fewer hurricanes than the historical average materialized. Hurricanes have been with us since the end of the last Ice Age, increasing in some years, or periods of years, and decreasing in others. Many scientists believe the recent upswing in hurricanes - 2006 excepted - has been nothing more than the normal gyrations of a cyclical phenomenon, swinging to the high side of its frequency range.

To the high priests and priestesses of the Church of Climate Change, however, any natural disaster provides potential kindling for imparting 'the message.' Thus, earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes are all opportunities -- despite being naturally-occurring phenomena that have affected the planet for thousands of years -- to preach the impending doom of higher temperatures.

I have no quarrel with the proposition that the Earth is warming; I am, however, skeptical about both the extent of man's impact on that trend and the 'end of days' calamities that supposedly await us in a hotter future. Historically, human hubris has often placed us at the centre of the universe. No surprise, then that, according to the Kyotoites, we're now apparently the biggest reason that the planet -- which has cooled and warmed, to temperatures far above today's, in vast cycles over billions of years - is, gasp, getting warmer.

Those proposing alternate theories - such as, most persuasively, solar activity - are slapped down and derided, much like, well, much like the many former skeptics of the conventional wisdom (later proven inaccurate) throughout history. Man's emissions doubtless have some impact, but there is no hard scientific proof that they are the main driver of global warming. Meanwhile, a warmer Earth will bring new problems, of course, some of which could be catastrophic. But we're not headed for a return to the Stone Age. Man's ingenuity and technology have already solved countless problems once seen as overwhelming. There's no reason to believe we won't tackle new challenges just as energetically as we've done in the past. That's not to say that I am completely sanguine about the future. But neither am I convinced that we're all headed over the falls in a canoe.

Will the great global warming panic of the late 20th and early 21st centuries be one day regarded as an example of humanity's inability to avert disaster, despite being forewarned? Or as an interesting subject for the study into the dynamics of mass beliefs, scientific consensus and political opportunism? Beats me. The answer, no doubt, is blowing in those globally-warmed, 'mean' winds that took 2006 off.



Hurricanes and cyclones can NOT be linked to global warming

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has just released two updated statements on the state of science on tropical cyclones and climate change. The statements have been released today through the Instituto Meteorologico Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica. Anyone referencing this post or the statements, please do acknowledge them as the source.....

The summary statement (PDF) is one page and reflects a consensus among all particpants (125 people from 34 countries) at the just-concluded International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones in Costa Rica. The statement describes its authorship as follows: The global community of tropical cyclone researchers and forecasters as represented at the 6th International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones of the World Meteorological Organization has released a statement on the links between anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change and tropical cyclones, including hurricanes and typhoons.

The ten consensus statements are as follows: Consensus Statements by International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones-VI (IWTC-VI) Participants

1. Though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point.

2. No individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change.

3. The recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones has largely been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions.

4. Tropical cyclone wind-speed monitoring has changed dramatically over the last few decades, leading to difficulties in determining accurate trends.

5. There is an observed multi-decadal variability of tropical cyclones in some regions whose causes, whether natural, anthropogenic or a combination, are currently being debated. This variability makes detecting any long-term trends in tropical cyclone activity difficult.

6. It is likely that some increase in tropical cyclone peak wind-speed and rainfall will occur if the climate continues to warm. Model studies and theory project a 3-5% increase in wind-speed per degree Celsius increase of tropical sea surface temperatures.

7. There is an inconsistency between the small changes in wind-speed projected by theory and modeling versus large changes reported by some observational studies.

8. Although recent climate model simulations project a decrease or no change in global tropical cyclone numbers in a warmer climate, there is low confidence in this projection. In addition, it is unknown how tropical cyclone tracks or areas of impact will change in the future.

9. Large regional variations exist in methods used to monitor tropical cyclones. Also, most regions have no measurements by instrumented aircraft. These significant limitations will continue to make detection of trends difficult.

10. If the projected rise in sea level due to global warming occurs, then the vulnerability to tropical cyclone storm surge flooding would increase.



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

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

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


Friday, December 08, 2006


Greenies have tried to ignore or play down the fact that CO2 is plant food and that increased CO2 would therefore lead to bigger crops. A scholarly comment below answers one of those attempts -- commenting on "Food for Thought" by Long et al., Science 312:1918 to 1921, 2006


Recent conclusions that new free-air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE) data show a much lower crop yield response to elevated CO2 than thought previously -- casting serious doubts on estimates of world food supply in the 21st century -- are found to be incorrect, being based in part on technical inconsistencies and lacking statistical significance. First, we show that the magnitude of crop response to elevated CO2 is rather similar across FACE and non-FACE data-sets, as already indicated by several previous comprehensive experimental and modeling analyses, with some differences related to which "ambient" CO2 concentration is used for comparisons. Second, we find that results from most crop model simulations are consistent with the values from FACE experiments. Third, we argue that lower crop responses to elevated CO2 of the magnitudes in question would not significantly alter projections of world food supply. We conclude by highlighting the importance of a better understanding of crop response to elevated CO2 under a variety of experimental and modeling settings, and suggest steps necessary to avoid confusion in future meta-analyses and comparisons of experimental and model data.

1. Introduction

A recent review of free-air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE) studies concluded that the positive effects of elevated CO2 on several food crops are roughly half those shown by earlier experiments conducted in non-FACE environments (Long et al., 2006). On the basis of such strong differences, it was argued that crop models -- based on the old data -- may simulate response to elevated CO2 too strongly, thereby downplaying otherwise potentially large negative effects of future projected changes in temperature and precipitation on crop yields. Thus, estimates of world food supply for the 21st century, as reviewed by IPCC (2001), might be too optimistic and in need of substantial downward revisions (Long et al., 2006 and Long et al., 2005).

While discussions focusing on uncertainties of crop model projections of yield under climate change and elevated CO2 are important (e.g., IPCC TAR, 2001; Reilly et al., 2001 and Tubiello and Ewert, 2002), current literature shows that these recent conclusions are incorrect, for several reasons. Here we argue that:

(1) The meta-analysis of Long et al. (2006) does not show significantly lower crop yield response to elevated CO2 in FACE compared to non-FACE experiments.

(2) Simulated yield responses to elevated CO2, as implemented in most crop models used for climate change impact assessment, are consistent with FACE results.

(3) Any remaining differences in CO2 response based on FACE results would not significantly alter projections of world food supply in the 21st century.


4. Conclusions

Several decades of research on the effects of elevated CO2 concentration on crop growth and yield have produced a wealth of valuable information, critically increasing understanding of the dynamics of photosynthesis, biomass accumulation and crop yield that are necessary to project future impacts of climate change on agriculture. In particular, some key interactions between elevated CO2 effects and crop management, especially irrigation and fertilization regimes, are fairly well understood. Yet the jury is still out concerning the real strength of the effects of elevated CO2 on crop yields in farmersY_T fields, due to several key uncertainties. To this end, much more research is needed to increase understanding of the interactions of elevated CO2 with increasing temperatures, worsening air pollution, changes in moisture availability and mineral nutrition, and altered incidence of pests, diseases and weeds.

It is also necessary to assess response of crops other than the key cereal grains, and in climate regimes other than temperate, especially those of importance to developing countries in the sub-tropics. The strength of the CO2 effect in comparison to other drivers of change in the world food system (e.g., market forces) needs to be further assessed.

Our analyses show that crop yield responses to elevated CO2 are similar across FACE and non-FACE experimental data. Not only is this important for interpreting existing projections of global food supply, but it also has implications for the future of experimental work on plant response to elevated CO2 and environmental stress. In particular, our results indicate that many experimental frameworks, from controlled environments to FACE, have useful roles. While FACE systems are invaluable in many respects, several considerations --for instance cost, interest in evaluating CO2- temperature interactions, or the need to test at CO2 levels higher than 550 ppm -- make it important to know that controlled environmental chamber, greenhouse, closed-top or open-top field chambers, or gradient tunnel approaches can continue to be used with reliable results. Such approaches can provide at least valuable initial screening of the effects of multiple environmental stresses on crop yields, even if eventually one might hope to examine field-level consequences in a FACE environment.

Importantly, even greater co-operation is warranted between experimentalists and modelers, and across disciplines, so that key questions of importance to crop yield, crop production and food supply under future climate, environmental and socio-economic change can be framed within comprehensive and mutually beneficial research programs.



Property developers were given the go-ahead yesterday to build on the green belt with radical proposals to speed up the construction of homes and shops. Kate Barker, the economist commissioned by Gordon Brown to address planning delays, called for an urgent review of green-belt boundaries. She suggested that some of it could meet housing needs. Ms Barker also proposed giving the go-ahead for more supermarkets and shopping malls, both in town centres and on their outskirts. She made it clear that the market, rather than councils, should dictate development.

The Barker Review of Land Use Planning argues that economic and social benefit should take precedence in siting future developments, even if that meant encroaching on undeveloped land. Many of her proposals, including a new planning commission for national projects such as nuclear power stations, are expected to be contained in a White Paper next year.

The report, which enraged environment and rural groups such as Friends of the Earth, says that business developers and communities face high costs due to a slow and bureacratic planning system. Current restrictions had also stifled competition and choice while more houses were desperately needed.

Ms Barker, a member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, argued that green belt boundaries often led to increased emissions and pollution caused by commuters in cars, buses and trains. She recommends redrawing the green belt to include "green wedges" or "green corridors" with spaces for homes and other developments. Much of the green belt, which accounts for 12.9 per cent of all land in England, was "low value agricultural land with little landscape quality and limited public access", Ms Barker said. Much of the urban fringe was run down and could be used to develop homes or businesses, she argued, citing a poll suggesting that most people were unaware how little land was already developed. But Friends of the Earth said that her recommendations would give business and supermarket chains a much bigger say and have a "devastating impact on the environment and local democracy".

Hugh Ellis, Friends of the Earth's planning adviser, said: "Barker's vision of uncontrolled development will mean communities have little or no say in how their local area is developed." The Campaign to Protect Rural England said that her recommendations would speed up urban sprawl all over the countryside. "Green belts have never been entirely sacrosanct, nor should they be, but they are one of England's most effective, best known and most popular planning tools," Shaun Spiers, the CPRE's chief executive, said.

Caroline Spelman, the Shadow Communities Secretary, said: "The Conservatives will oppose the plans for a new, undemocratic government quango to impose development on local communities. I fear that Gordon Brown, the arch-centraliser, is consigning local democracy to the scrapheap."

Although Ms Barker has suggested that the current presumption in favour of building first in town centres should remain, her proposals will encourage building on outskirts. Property experts said that retailers would be given freer rein to develop out-of-town hypermarkets and warehouse-style stores if her recommendations are accepted.

Ms Barker has suggested the removal of the "needs test", under which local authorities can block retail, housing or commercial property development if a community is already well served with such facilities. "Investors who are risking their capital and whose business it is to assess likely customer demand are better placed than local authorities to determine the nature and scale of demand," she said.

However, Stuart Robinson, head of planning at CB Richard Ellis, the property company, said: "She might as well rip up the whole town-centre-first policy. There is no way local authorities could prevent a whole raft of different buildings going straight out to unsustainable locations."

Ms Barker argues that other guidelines, including a "sequential test", which determines that developments must opt for a town-centre location if at all possible, and an "impact assessment", which examines the economic and environmental impact of developments, would promote towncentre development. But her report indicates that more out-of-town development would be desirable in promoting competition among retailers. They gave a cautious welcome to Ms Barker's recommendations. Tesco said that the proposals would speed up planning decisions and reduce the complexity of the system.

Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco's corporate and legal affairs director, said: "This should lead to smoother and faster development, wind turbines included, but it reiterates support for the town-centres-first policy." A spokesman for Asda said: "We believe these changes in the planning regime would be good for customers by increasing choice, while being consistent with sustainable development."



Discussing: Larsen, C.E. and Clark, I. 2006. "A search for scale in sea-level studies". Journal of Coastal Research 22: 788-800.


The authors, who are employed at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Center in Reston, Virginia, note that "the concept of proportionality between CO2 and sea level implies that the rate of sea-level rise accelerates in tandem with an exponential increase in CO2 and atmospheric temperature," and that "this simple concept has been used to argue that the rate of sea-level rise was low over the past 6000 years, began to increase during the 19th century, and will continue to increase during the next century."

What was done

In an analysis of this concept, which is essentially the climate-alarmist view of the matter, Larsen and Clark considered data bases that represent three different time scales: (1) the last 6000 years, based on radiocarbon-dated organics from basal peat deposits below salt marshes and estuarine sediments along stable or apparently subsiding coasts, (2) the last 1000 years, based on peat samples and benthic foraminifers from coastal salt marshes, and (3) the historic record of the last few hundred years, based on actual tide gauge data.

What was learned

The researchers report that when the three scales of sea-level variation are integrated, adjusted for postglacial isostatic movement, and replotted in terms of depth relative to present mean high water, they are able to "view the historic record as a continuation of the past rather than as a perturbation." In addition, they thereby demonstrated the strong linearity in the historic rate of sea-level rise over the past century and a half, which, as they describe it, "shows no indication of the pronounced mid-20th-century increase in temperature indicated by Mann et al. (1999)," noting further that "neither is there a relationship to the atmospheric CO2 record."

What it means

In contrast to the oft-stated claim that the rate of sea-level rise has been accelerating in tandem with the rate of rise in the air's CO2 concentration and/or its temperature, Larsen and Clark could find no evidence that supports that contention.


The relevant journal abstract follows:

A search for scale in sea-level studies

By: C.E. Larsen and I. Clark

Many researchers assume a proportional relationship among the atmospheric CO2 concentration, temperature, and sea level. Thus, the rate of sea-level rise should increase in concert with the documented exponential increase in CO2. Although sea surface temperature has increased in places over the past century and short-term sea level rose abruptly during the 1990s, it is difficult to demonstrate a proportional relationship using existing geologic or historic records. Tide gauge records in the United States cover too short a time interval to verify acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise, although multicentury tide gauge and staff records from the Netherlands and Sweden suggest a mid-19th-century acceleration in sea-level rise. Reconstructions of sea-level changes for the past 1000 years derived using benthic foraminifer data from salt marshes along the East Coast of the United States suggest an increased rate of relative sea-level rise beginning in the 1600s. Geologic records of relative sea-level rise for he past 6000 years are available for several sites along the US East Coast from 14C-dated basal peat below salt marshes and estuarine sediments. When these three scales of sea-level variation are integrated, adjusted for postglacial isostatic movement, and replotted, the range of variation in sea level suggested by basal peat ages is within [+ or -] 1 meter of the long-term trend. The reconstruction from Long Island Sound data shows a linear rise in sea level beginning in the mid-1600s at a rate consistent with the historic record of mean high water. Long-term tide gauge records from Europe and North America show similar trends since the mid-19th century. There is no clear proportional exponential increase in the rate of sea-level rise. If proportionality exists among sea level, atmospheric CO2, and temperature, there may be a significant time lag before an anthropogenic increase in the rate of sea-level rise occurs.


Can British Wine Grapes Resolve a Global Warming Question?

By Dennis T. Avery

British wine grapes are suddenly in the midst of the global warming controversy. Historic records tell us that Britain grew wine grapes 2000 years ago during the Roman Warming, and 1000 years ago during the Medieval Warming. Since 1300, however, Britain has been too cold for wine grapes. The debate: Is human-induced warming boosting British temperatures to "unnatural" levels, or is the gradual warming a repeat of previous cycles?

The website says there are more than 400 vineyards in Britain today, and ". . . the good news about English wine [is] how good, even superb, it can be." It certainly sounds like Britain has gotten warmer recently, but why? The same web site has a "History" section, which reveals: "In England [today], it is only in about 2 years in every 10 that grape production will be really good, 4 years will be average and 4 years poor or terrible-largely due to weather and/or disease exacerbated by weather." (Sounds as if we aren't quite to "wine country warmth yet, doesn't it?)

The same web site also says: "In the 1990s the increase in the number of vineyards and the acreage under cultivation has leveled off, maybe even declined a little. There are a number of reasons for this- many English vineyards have undoubtedly been established with little knowledge of, or even concern for, their financial viability. A saying has grown up that the best way to get a small fortune is to have a large fortune and buy an English vineyard. Whilst this is cruel, it is also pretty certain that it is true."

The web site RealClimate, though it believes fervently in man-made global warming, accurately laid out the last 1000 years of British wine-making on July 12, 2006: "The earliest documentation that is better than anecdotal is from the Domesday Book (1087 AD) . . . Selley quotes Unwin (J. Wine Research, 1990) who records 46 vineyards across Southern England [at that time] . . . production clearly declined after the 13th century, and had a modest resurgence in the 17th and 18th centuries, only to decline to historic lows in the 19th century when only 8 vineyards are recorded. . . . English and Welsh wine production started to have a renaissance in the 1950s. By 1977, there were 124 reasonable-sized vineyards in production-more than at any other time over the previous millennium."

So, British wine-making thrived during the Medieval Warming, failed during the Little Ice Age (1300 to 1850), and began to make a comeback in the 1950s, after major world temperature surges between 1850-70 and 1920-40. The uncertain quality of today's British wine grapes indicates that Britain still isn't as warm now as during the Roman and Medieval Warmings.

This argues that we're in a long, natural climate cycle. So does the fact that more than 70 percent of the planet's recent warming occurred before 1940, and thus before humans emitted much CO2. Ice cores and seabed sediments show the 1500-year cycle extending back 900,000 years, and carbon 14 isotopes say it's linked to variations in the sun's irradiance.

British wine-growers are likely to have several more moderately warmer centuries in which to prosper. And wine-lovers will have more-pleasant weather in which to enjoy the wines than they did during the cold, cloudy and stormy Little Ice Age. A reduction in fossil fuel use might be a good strategy for the future, but apparently would have little impact on earth's climate.


Mr Avery might also have mentioned that modern British winegrowing is materially assisted by modern agricultural techniques, including selective breeding of varieties suited to different climates and the use of hardy American rootstocks that were not available in Britain prior to a certain voyage by Christopher Columbus


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

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

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


Thursday, December 07, 2006


In an effort to give credibility to the European Union (EU) Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), the European Commission (EC) has demanded that member states make additional cuts in greenhouse gas emission limits in their National Allocation Plans (NAPs). The main tool the EU will use to meet its Kyoto target is the ETS. In the ETS, companies that have been able to successfully reduce their greenhouse gas emissions below their caps and have excess credits, can sell them to companies that cannot stay within their emission caps and must purchase additional credits.

In the ETS initial commitment period, which runs from 2005-2007, the EU member states had made the caps on greenhouse gas emissions too generous and as a result, the price of carbon emission credits collapsed. The NAPs the member states submitted this year are for the second commitment period, the Kyoto period, which runs from 2008-2012. In order to meet its Kyoto commitment and make the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it is in the interest of the European Union that the carbon trading market be credible. So to avoid the experience of the first commitment period the EC demanded additional cuts from all of the member states who submitted NAPs except Great Britain which had submitted an acceptable plan.

Now however, as reported by Reuters/Planet Ark, Germany is balking at the additional cuts demanded by the EC.

"Germany will ignore a ruling by the European Commission on Wednesday that rejected Berlin's climate change targets for 2008-12, the economics ministry said on Friday....

Joachim Wuermeling, a high-ranking economics ministry official said Germany planned not to implement the EC's changes. It was up to member states how they fulfilled their Kyoto Climate Protocol targets, he said. Germany felt relaxed about a possible law suit if the EC sued as it could take years to be resolved, which was not in the Commission's interest, he said."

Ironically Germany has said it wants to put climate change at the top of the agenda of the G8 next year while it is chaired by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This may just be an overreaction by the Economic Ministry in Germany or perhaps it is part of some sort of negotiating strategy. However, if Germany bucks the system and refuses to make the additional cuts, other countries will be tempted to do so as well. If it gets out of hand, the whole ETS could collapse and that would have reverberations around the world. It is increasingly clear that the most recalcitrant industrialized countries when it comes to fighting global warming, the United States and Australia, are coming under increasing pressure internally to mandate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at the national level. In the United States, a number of bills that have been introduced to do just that. The bills include emission trading schemes as one of the primary tools to fight global warming. If emission trading fails in Europe, it will almost certainly cause the congressional sponsors of the bills in the United States to reconsider how they approach greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Are the comments of the German Economic Ministry just a bump in the road on the way to the ultimate success of the European ETS or is it something more dangerous?



Below is the now infamous attempt to lean on ExxonMobil by Senators Snowe and Rockefeller -- a letter addressed to the chairman but copied widely

Allow us to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your first year as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the ExxonMobil Corporation. You will become the public face of an undisputed leader in the world energy industry, and a company that plays a vital role in our national economy. As that public face, you will have the ability and responsibility to lead ExxonMobil toward its rightful place as a good corporate and global citizen.

We are writing to appeal to your sense of stewardship of that corporate citizenship as U.S. Senators concerned about the credibility of the United States in the international community, and as Americans concerned that one of our most prestigious corporations has done much in the past to adversely affect that credibility. We are convinced that ExxonMobil's longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.

Obviously, other factors complicate our foreign policy. However, we are persuaded that the climate change denial strategy carried out by and for ExxonMobil has helped foster the perception that the United States is insensitive to a matter of great urgency for all of mankind, and has thus damaged the stature of our nation internationally. It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the "deniers." Likewise, we look to you to guide ExxonMobil to capitalize on its significant resources and prominent industry position to assist this country in taking its appropriate leadership role in promoting the technological innovation necessary to address climate change and in fashioning a truly global solution to what is undeniably a global problem.

While ExxonMobil's activity in this area is well-documented, we are somewhat encouraged by developments that have come to light during your brief tenure. We fervently hope that reports that ExxonMobil intends to end its funding of the climate change denial campaign of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) are true. Similarly, we have seen press reports that your British subsidiary has told the Royal Society, Great Britain's foremost scientific academy, that ExxonMobil will stop funding other organizations with similar purposes. However, a casual review of available literature, as performed by personnel for the Royal Society reveals that ExxonMobil is or has been the primary funding source for the "skepticism" of not only CEI, but for dozens of other overlapping and interlocking front groups sharing the same obfuscation agenda. For this reason, we share the goal of the Royal Society that ExxonMobil "come clean" about its past denial activities, and that the corporation take positive steps by a date certain toward a new and more responsible corporate citizenship.

ExxonMobil is not alone in jeopardizing the credibility and stature of the United States. Large corporations in related industries have joined ExxonMobil to provide significant and consistent financial support of this pseudo-scientific, non-peer reviewed echo chamber. The goal has not been to prevail in the scientific debate, but to obscure it. This climate change denial confederacy has exerted an influence out of all proportion to its size or relative scientific credibility. Through relentless pressure on the media to present the issue "objectively," and by challenging the consensus on climate change science by misstating both the nature of what "consensus" means and what this particular consensus is, ExxonMobil and its allies have confused the public and given cover to a few senior elected and appointed government officials whose positions and opinions enable them to damage U.S. credibility abroad.

Climate change denial has been so effective because the "denial community" has mischaracterized the necessarily guarded language of serious scientific dialogue as vagueness and uncertainty. Mainstream media outlets, attacked for being biased, help lend credence to skeptics' views, regardless of their scientific integrity, by giving them relatively equal standing with legitimate scientists. ExxonMobil is responsible for much of this bogus scientific "debate" and the demand for what the deniers cynically refer to as "sound science."

A study to be released in November by an American scientific group will expose ExxonMobil as the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate change denial front groups in 2004 alone. Besides a shared goal, these groups often featured common staffs and board members. The study will estimate that ExxonMobil has spent more than $19 million since the late 1990s on a strategy of "information laundering," or enabling a small number of professional skeptics working through scientific-sounding organizations to funnel their viewpoints through non-peer-reviewed websites such as Tech Central Station. The Internet has provided ExxonMobil the means to wreak its havoc on U.S. credibility, while avoiding the rigors of refereed journals. While deniers can easily post something calling into question the scientific consensus on climate change, not a single refereed article in more than a decade has sought to refute it.

Indeed, while the group of outliers funded by ExxonMobil has had some success in the court of public opinion, it has failed miserably in confusing, much less convincing, the legitimate scientific community. Rather, what has emerged and continues to withstand the carefully crafted denial strategy is an insurmountable scientific consensus on both the problem and causation of climate change. Instead of the narrow and inward-looking universe of the deniers, the legitimate scientific community has developed its views on climate change through rigorous peer-reviewed research and writing across all climate-related disciplines and in virtually every country on the globe.

Where most scientists dispassionate review of the facts has moved past acknowledgement to mitigation strategies, ExxonMobil's contribution the overall politicization of science has merely bolstered the views of U.S. government officials satisfied to do nothing. Rather than investing in the development of technologies that might see us through this crisis--and which may rival the computer as a wellspring of near-term economic growth around the world--ExxonMobil and its partners in denial have manufactured controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too reminiscent of those used by the tobacco industry for so many years. The net result of this unfortunate campaign has been a diminution of this nation's ability to act internationally, and not only in environmental matters.

In light of the adverse impacts still resulting from your corporations activities, we must request that ExxonMobil end any further financial assistance or other support to groups or individuals whose public advocacy has contributed to the small, but unfortunately effective, climate change denial myth. Further, we believe ExxonMobil should take additional steps to improve the public debate, and consequently the reputation of the United States. We would recommend that ExxonMobil publicly acknowledge both the reality of climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it. Second, ExxonMobil should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history. Finally, we believe that there would be a benefit to the United States if one of the world's largest carbon emitters headquartered here devoted at least some of the money it has invested in climate change denial pseudo-science to global remediation efforts. We believe this would be especially important in the developing world, where the disastrous effects of global climate change are likely to have their most immediate and calamitous impacts.

Each of us is committed to seeing the United States officially reengage and demonstrate leadership on the issue of global climate change. We are ready to work with you and any other past corporate sponsor of the denial campaign on proactive strategies to promote energy efficiency, to expand the use of clean, alternative, and renewable fuels, to accelerate innovation to responsibly extend the useful life of our fossil fuel reserves, and to foster greater understanding of the necessity of action on a truly global scale before it is too late.



Washington has no shortage of bullies, but even we can't quite believe an October 27 letter that Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe sent to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Its message: Start toeing the Senators' line on climate change, or else.

We reprint the full text of the letter here, so readers can see for themselves. But its essential point is that the two Senators believe global warming is a fact, and therefore all debate about the issue must stop and ExxonMobil should "end its dangerous support of the [global warming] 'deniers.' " Not only that, the company "should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history." And in extra penance for being "one of the world's largest carbon emitters," Exxon should spend that money on "global remediation efforts."

The Senators aren't dumb enough to risk an ethics inquiry by threatening specific consequences if Mr. Tillerson declines this offer he can't refuse. But in case the CEO doesn't understand his company's jeopardy, they add that "ExxonMobil and its partners in denial have manufactured controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too reminiscent of those used by the tobacco industry for so many years." (Our emphasis.) The Senators also graciously copied the Exxon board on their missive.

This is amazing stuff. On the one hand, the Senators say that everyone agrees on the facts and consequences of climate change. But at the same time they are so afraid of debate that they want Exxon to stop financing a doughty band of dissenters who can barely get their name in the paper. We respect the folks at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but we didn't know until reading the Rockefeller-Snowe letter that they ran U.S. climate policy and led the mainstream media around by the nose, too. Congratulations.

Let's compare the balance of forces: on one side, CEI; on the other, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, the U.N. and EU, Hollywood, Al Gore, and every politically correct journalist in the country. We'll grant that's a fair intellectual fight. But if the Senators are so afraid that a handful of policy wonks at a single small think-tank are in danger of winning this debate, they must not have much confidence in the merits of their own case.

The letter is so over-the-top that we also wonder if Mr. Rockefeller in particular has even read it. (He and Ms. Snowe didn't return our call.) The Senator hails from coal-producing West Virginia, where people know something about carbon emissions. Come to think of it, Mr. Rockefeller owes his own vast wealth to something other than non-carbon energy. But perhaps it's easier to be carbon free when your fortune comes from a trust fund.

The letter is of a piece with what has become a campaign of intimidation against any global warming dissent. Not only is everyone supposed to concede that the planet has been warming--as it has--but we are all supposed to salute and agree that human beings are the definitive cause, that the magnitude of the warming will be disastrous and its effects catastrophic, that such problems as AIDS and poverty are less urgent, and that economic planners must therefore impose vast new regulatory burdens on everyone around the world. Exxon is being targeted in this letter and other ways because it is one of the few companies that still thinks some debate on these questions is valuable.

Every dogma has its day, and we've lived long enough to see more than one "consensus" blown apart within a few years of "everyone knowing" it was true. In recent decades environmentalists have been wrong about almost every other apocalyptic claim they've made: global famine, overpopulation, natural resource exhaustion, the evils of pesticides, global cooling, and so on. Perhaps it's useful to have a few folks outside the "consensus" asking questions before we commit several trillion dollars to any problem.

Imagine if this letter had been sent by someone in the Bush Administration trying to enforce the opposite conclusion? The left would be howling about "censorship." That's exactly what did happen earlier this year after James Hansen, the NASA scientist and global warming evangelist, complained that a lowly 24-year-old press aide had tried to limit his media access. The entire episode was preposterous because Mr. Hansen is one of the most publicized scientists in the world, but the press aide was nonetheless sacked.

The Senators' letter is far more serious because they have enormous power to punish Exxon if it doesn't kowtow to them. A windfall profits tax is in the air, and we've seen what happens to other companies that dare to resist Congressional intimidation. It's to Exxon's credit that, in its response to the Senators, the company said that it will continue to fund free market research groups because "there is value in the debate" that helps promote "optimal public policy decisions." Too bad that's not what the Senators care about.



India understands the gravity of the climate change story but feels it's not ready to take on any commitments to cut carbon emissions for now. This was communicated to Nicholas Stern, whose review on the economic impact of climate change added a new and alarming dimension to the debate after it was released in October. He is in India to share findings of his research with key stakeholders in the Government. His report estimated that a temperature rise between 2-3.5 degrees Celsius over the next century could lead to a revenue loss of 9-25%.

In the next three days, he will meet officials of the Ministry of Power, External Affairs and Environment and the Planning Commission. His first meeting with key policymakers was chaired by Montek Singh Ahluwalia in the Planning Commission today. After Stern presented a summary of his review, India responded by presenting a paper by Indian economists to show that there is no need for India to agree to any binding emissions and the focus must clearly be on achieving domestic goals like eradicating poverty.

Ever since the Kyoto mechanism came into force, developing countries like India and China are under pressure to agree to some commitments to cut carbon emissions in the next phase. An academic paper by Jyoti Parikh and CK Krishnamurthy was presented that showed that unless there is adequate compensation, India will lose significantly in terms of GDP if it takes on binding targets. According to the paper, contrary to many predictions, the emission intensity of the Indian economy is seen to reduce after a point while the per capita emission shows a rising trend. "There can be a broad understanding on the agreed baseline but if we emit more, there should be no penalty,'' said Kirit Parikh, member, Planning Commission, after the meeting.

Earlier in the day, at a meeting organised by ICREAR, Stern admitted that the equity debate was important. The common but differentiated principle in the Kyoto protocol should be followed, which would mean that mitigation measures should be financed by richer countries since they had polluted the earth several time more than countries in the developing world. He said it was not true that countries like the US were not taking action. California and some of the other US cities had very ambitious targets. The US was investing a lot in R&D on energy-efficiency and renewable energy sources.

If it were business as usual, according to Stern, the global temperatures were likely to go up by 4 to 5 degrees Celsius within the next 100 to 150 years. This according to Stern would be comparable to changes seen during the Ice Age. Stern then went onto explain what it would mean to stabilise the emissions to a manageable level like 550 ppm (they are 450 ppm now). It would mean cutting emissions by 60-80 per cent by 2050. "We start moving now and start peaking in 15-20 years and then begin reducing emissions,'' he said. The costs for all this would be 1% of the GDP every year for the world. The way out, he said, was to tax carbon, find technology alternatives to carbon and making markets work to influence behaviour leading to "low-carbon economy''. According to him, countries like India and China have to fuel the "supply side of the carbon market'' to keep the carbon prices high.

The report has a substantial background paper on India by Joyshree Roy, professor, Jadavpur University. It finds that climate change will lead to crop yield decrease, change in forest cover and desertification among other things.


Warmest European winter for 1300 years

They sure must have had a lot of SUVs 1300 years ago

IT was warmer in Europe's Alpine region now than at any time in the past 1300 years, the head of a wide-ranging climatic survey said today. From Ottawa to Moscow, temperatures generally have been way above average at the start of winter in the northern hemisphere, with flowers blooming on snow-starved slopes of Alpine ski resorts and bears struggling to hibernate.

"We are now experiencing the warmest period (for this season) in the past 1300 years,'' said Reinhard Boehm, chief climatologist at Austria's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geo-Dynamics in Vienna. He cited a study by a group of European climatic institutes that reconstructed more than a millennium of weather patterns in a region ranging from France's Rhone Valley in the west to Hungary in the east, and from Germany's Nuremberg area in the north to Italy's Tuscany in the south.

Temperatures generally did not diverge from a naturally frigid winter level except for one thaw between the 10th and 12th centuries, and Alpine glaciers reached their greatest size around 1850, Boehm told Austrian press agency APA. Industrial pollution originating in the 19th century began to affect climate from the mid-20th, he said. Unfiltered factory smoke and other emissions initially cooled temperatures somewhat as they impeded the sun's rays, he said.

The latter-day warming trend set in about 20 years ago from the cumulative use of fossil fuels giving off clear greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, Mr Boehm said. "This has led to ever higher temperatures since the 1980s and the models indicate that it's going to get even warmer in future,'' Mr Boehm said.

Many scientists say a single warm winter is most likely part of the natural variations of an unpredictable climate. Still, years of mild temperatures fit predictions of global warming, widely blamed on human use of fossil fuels. Like many places, Austria had its mildest autumn since records began and many ski resorts have delayed the season's kick-off. Snow cannons sit still on green slopes that would usually be pistes, shrinking the billion-dollar winter business.

Glaciers are receding. Rare December pollen is troubling asthma sufferers as far north as Scandinavia, sales of winter clothing are down and Santa Claus is having to reassure children his sleigh will take off on Christmas Eve, snow or no snow. From Siberia to Estonia, bears have had trouble going to sleep for their winter hibernation because their dens are uncomfortably warm, soggy and damp.



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

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

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


Wednesday, December 06, 2006


David Williams, an environmentalist and global warming acolyte, challenged Dr. David Wojick, a Virginia scientist and journalist who is a skeptic about manmade global warming, to make his case in 500 words. The Wojick response is below. Wojick, a civil engineer who has a doctorate in epistemology, once taught in the Carnegie Mellon University economics and society department, led by 1978 Nobel laureate in economics Herb Simon, who died in 2001, and who was cited for his work in the politics of science. Wojick is an expert and consultant on the subject of how science and the understanding of science interact. He runs the web site

Whether or not humans are causing global warming is still an open question. In fact it is one of the greatest earth science research questions in history. Begun in 1990, the U.S. Global Change Research Program has spent about $40 billion looking for the human footprint in global warming. The jury is still out. The problem is that we now know that the earth warms and cools naturally, so how do we identify the human influence?

To begin with, the earth appears to have warmed over the last century or so, by one degree Fahrenheit. During this period atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose steadily. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so it seems natural to conclude that the CO2 rise caused the temperature rise. This seems simple enough but as soon as one looks closely this picture falls apart and the hard science begins.

For example, while the CO2 levels rose steadily, the global temperature actually went down for the middle third of the last century. Scientists predicted a coming ice age. This shows that rising CO2 levels do not necessarily cause rising temperatures. The CO2 went up but the temperature went down.

Then too, it is now generally accepted that the temperature increase in the first third of the century was due to increased solar input, not increasing CO2. We now know that the sun varies over time. This shows that rising temperatures are not necessarily caused by rising CO2 levels. The temperature went up but not because of CO2.

It is possible that the temperature rise of the last 25 years is due to rising CO2. However it has to be explained why the steady rise of CO2 over more than a century waited until the last 25 years to show up? Moreover, some parts of he earth are cooling, not warming. Others, especially parts of the Arctic, are warming very rapidly. This is inconsistent with being caused by the gradual CO2 rise.

We also know now that it may have been just as warm a thousand years ago, and maybe a lot warmer 5,000 years ago, when there was no CO2 increase. Twenty-five years of research has taught us a lot about natural global warming, but this has only made the picture more complicated. In most cases we do not know why this natural warming occurs.

There are many theories and counter theories regarding all of these issues, and many more issues as well. The result is an incredibly complex and expensive program of scientific research. Today there are three schools of scientific thought on global warming. The first holds that humans are causing the recent warming. The second is that most, if not all, of the warming is natural. The third school is the skeptics who say we really do not know what is happening, and will not know until we understand natural climate change. Among these schools there is a loud scientific debate. Whether humans are causing global warming is anybody's guess at this point.


Climate Warming INCREASES Species Richness

Discussing: Walther, G.-R., Beissner, S. and Burga, C.A. 2005. Trends in the upward shift of alpine plants. Journal of Vegetation Science 16: 541-548.


The CO2-induced global warming extinction hypothesis claims that as the world warms in response to the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content, many species of plants and animals will not be able to migrate either poleward in latitude or upward in elevation fast enough to avoid extinction, as they strive to escape various debilitating stresses imposed by rising temperatures.

What was done

The authors investigated this climate-alarmist contention by resurveying (in July/August 2003) the floristic composition of the uppermost ten meters of ten mountain summits in the Swiss Alps, applying the same methodology used in earlier surveys of the same mountain tops by Rubel (1912), which was conducted in 1905, and Hofer (1992), which was conducted in 1985. Hence, their analysis covered the bulk of the Little Ice Age-to-Current Warm Period transition (1905-2003), the last portion of which (1985-2003) is claimed by climate alarmists to have experienced a warming that was unprecedented over the past two millennia in terms of both the rate of temperature rise and the level to which the temperature rose.

What was learned

Whereas the mean increase in species numbers recorded by Hofer (1992) for the time interval 1905 to 1985 was 86%, Walther et al. report that "species numbers recorded in 2003 were generally more than double (138%) compared to the results by Rubel (1912) and 26% higher than those reported by Hofer (1992)." Put another way, they say "the rate of change in species richness (3.7 species/decade) was significantly greater in the later period compared to the Hofer resurvey (1.3 species/decade)." Most important of all, they say "the observed increase in species numbers does not entail the replacement of high alpine specialists by species from lower altitudes [our italics], but rather has led to an enrichment [our italics] of the overall summit plant diversity."

What it means

In spite of the apparent reasonableness of the global warming extinction hypothesis, whereby high-altitude species are expected to be "squeezed out of existence" by other species migrating upwards from lower mountain levels to escape the stress of increasing temperatures, Walther et al. find no sign of this dire consequence over an entire century of warming in the Swiss Alps, in harmony with the similar findings of other researchers that we describe in more detail in our major report: The Specter of Species Extinction: Will Global Warming Decimate Earth's Biosphere?


CERA slams 'Peak Oil' hypothesis

Cambridge Energy Research Associates has declared war on the "peak oil" crowd, faulting the assumptions, analysis, and calculations of those who argue that the world is running out of oil. "The `peak oil' theory causes confusion," says CERA's Peter M. Jackson, who follows oil for the consulting group, "and can lead to inappropriate actions and turn attention away from the real issues. Oil is too critical to the global economy to allow fear to replace careful analysis about the very real challenges with delivering liquid fuels to meet the needs of growing economies. This is a very important dabte, and as such it deserves a rational and measured discourse."

In a report release Nov. 14, Why the Peak Oil Theory Falls Down: Myths, Legends, and the Future of Oil Resources, CERA concludes that the remaining world oil research base is 3.74 trillion barrels - three times larger than the 1.2 trillion barrels used by the peak oil advocates. Says Jackson, "The global resource base of conventional and unconventional oils, including historical production of 1.08 trillion barrels and yet-top-be produced resources, is 4.82 trillion barrels and likely to grow."

Rather than peaking and then declining, the CERA report says global oil product will follow an "undulating plateau" for a decade or more before declining slow. CERA says that production profile "will not be a simple logistic or bell curve postulated by geologist M. King Hubbert, but it be asymmetrical - with the slope of decline more gradual and not mirroring the rapid rate of increase - and strongly skewed past the geometric peak. It will be an undulating plateau that may well last for decades."

Said CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin, long an expert on the world oil industry, "This is the fifth time that the world is said to be running out of oil. Each time - whether it was the `gasoline famine' at the end of WWI or the `permanent shortage' of the 1970s - technology and the opening of new frontier areas has banished the specter of decline. There's no reason to think that technology is finished this time."



Electricity prices could double in Europe if power firms are to meet emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto protocol, says a report. Carbon prices are set to surge, and firms might pass this rise on to the wholesale market, says a report by consultancy Global Energy Decision. The report said European nations, such as France and Germany, will find it ever harder to meet emissions targets. The carbon market is deemed a key tool under Kyoto to reduce emissions.

The report, entitled Countdown to Kyoto 2008-2012: The Carbon Challenge for Europe's Electric Power Sector, examined Northwest Europe including France, Germany, Benelux, Austria and Switzerland. The report argues that forward carbon prices will be between 40 and 80 euros per metric ton - more than double current levels.

However the report also says it is unlikely "that costs will be permitted to be passed on to electricity consumers for long durations".

As the deadline looms to meet Kyoto's phase one targets, firms will be trying to buy additional carbon allowances. But allowances expected to be provided on a national basis "will fall far short of meeting industry requirements alone", which will further push up carbon prices. "Utilities will need to make substantial purchases from the Kyoto mechanisms," to meet its targets, says the report. These mechanisms refer to carbon reduction schemes in developing countries, which allow firms to reduce their carbon emissions at the lowest possible price.

One obvious way for firms in the power sector to reduce their emissions is to switch the type of energy they use, for example from inefficient coal-fired power stations to efficient gas stations. But some European nations lack the flexibility in their power sectors to change from high to low carbon fuels. And it would be impossible to completely cease using coal-fired power stations - especially in Germany - because of a lack of alternative capacity.

Moreover, industry "does not have the power sector's flexibility to respond to changes in carbon price by reducing their emissions". "The fundamentals of this new reality must be more carefully assessed and understood by government, industry and especially the electric power sector," said Ron Mahan, chairman of Global Energy.



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

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

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


Tuesday, December 05, 2006



The paper below is very technical but focuses on the fact that much time-series data has gaps in it -- and that it is usual to replace the missing data with "estimates". The author shows that this can make the data look like it supports some theory when it does not. The parallel with global warming "models" (which are full of guesswork) is obvious. Excerpts only below.

Comment on "Long-period astronomical forcing of mammal turnover" by van Dam et al., Nature 443:687-691

By Mensur Omerbashich


[1] claimed 2.4-2.5 and 1.0 Myr turnover cycles in a Spanish rodent lineages record. However, the record's variance-spectrum, which is missing in [1], shows that the varying reliability and multiple alterations of raw (gapped; unaltered) data by [1] unnaturally boosted the 2.5 and 1.0 Myr noise-cycles to the 99% confidence level, while failing to recognize a third such "99% significant" noise period, of 0.55 Myr at 5.3 var%. Thus at least one claimed period (of 1.0 Myr) is a simple modulation of a relatively stronger noise cycle (of 0.55 Myr) overlooked by [1]. All "99% significant" periods reach mere 5-6% var levels which can be hardly distinguished from noise: those periods' fidelity is at staggering 1-2 orders of magnitude below the usual signalnoise separation marker at 12.0. Remarkably, at least ten noise-periods got boosted to 95% confidence level, and some five noise-periods to near 95% confidence level, as well. Even the zero padding of just 4% of data, as done by [1], significantly suppresses (hence unreported) the strongest 99% significant period, of 7.28 Myr at 7.5 var%. Therefore, the periods claimed are due to strong noise reflection of some intermediary. As hand-waving cyclic-cataclysm claims start to frequent scientific journals, revision of editorial policies is called for on spectral analyses of inherently gapped long records, and of records composed mostly of natural data of significantly inconsistent reliability.


Studies claiming that cataclysmic events are responsible for cyclic variations in long records of natural data appear occasionally in scientific journals. Due to their obvious sensationalism, such reports are almost certain to attract broader public attention. However, long records of natural data in many cases are inherently gapped, and since they are also long the information that they carry are burdened with various influences from many different intermediaries that played a role in the creation of the record.

Unfortunately, it is a common approach in the spectral analysis community to simply proceed to edit such records in order to make them fit the (mostly Fourier) spectral analysis algorithms. This means that the original raw (gapped; unaltered) data and all of data distributions present generally are assumed as entirely understood. One assumption follows another, and it soon becomes easily and erroneously believed by many that data "preparation" could not affect the raw data significantly. Consequently, records end up heavily edited, zero-padded, with values invented, trends subtracted etc.

One such recent study of a mammal record from central Spain [1] reported "new periods" allegedly so close to certain astronomical cycles that a claim of cataclysmic causality was immediately laid.

Yet another recent study claimed to have found a new period in a world fossil record [2], which was unlike any other known astronomical cycle but still those authors too made a catastrophic causality claim... In the latter case a closer inspection showed that the cycles claimed by [2] were in fact byproduct of the data treatment applied therein [3]. I show here that the former study too is biased in the same manner, except it produces a result that is coincidentally (by way of a noise intermediary) close to a known astronomical period. The notion of wrong data treatment stands since both of those studies claimed cataclysmic disappearance / reappearance of genera / species, without seriously addressing the characteristics of the spectral analysis technique or its applicability to the data of interest.



Experience teaches us that even a single catastrophic event claim, when promoted in the media, could result in havoc. It seems inevitable that researchers could soon start making "predictions" out of the many reports alleging some "99% certain" past recurring cataclysms. As the handwaving cyclic-cataclysm reports start to frequent scientific journals, revision of editorial policies is called for in cases of the spectral analyses of long and inherently gapped records of natural data, or, more generally, records that contain natural data most of which have significantly varying reliability. Such revisions could entail approaches presently unthinkable of when refereeing those reports, like the imposing of mandatory blind test(s) using synthetic data, or/and repetitions of critical computations, or/and testing results (using independent methods) for spectrum distortion due to data manipulations, and so on. Although seemingly elementary, such measures could prevent researchers from missing a bigger picture, as they get technical.

Spectral analysis is at least as much art as it is science, requiring various choices to be made prior to punching the data into an algorithm. Proper choice of the analysis technique (algorithm) must not be the first but instead the last of those choices to be made. This should be preceded by considerations such as selection of the criteria for data treatment approaches to be used. (A fundamental such criterion, of using raw data, was applied here.)

Hopefully, this could prevent blunders like [1] from ever entering into press. The primary goal of scientific analyses of physical time series should be to responsibly produce publicly useful information on cyclic natural phenomena, so that science is not being undermined by the ill reputes of cyclic failures. This call for action coincides in time with challenges faced by humankind in taking full responsibility (instead of accusing nature and divine acts alike) for harming life and environment on Earth.



Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation, according to a new United Nations report released on Thursday. "Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld was quoted by the Ghana News Agency as saying on Thursday. "Urgent action is required to remedy the situation," he said in a statement released by the UN Information Centre in Accra. According to the report, smarter production methods, including improved animal diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions, are urgently needed.

Cattle-rearing is also a major source of land and water degradation, according to the FAO report, Livestock's Long Shadow-Environmental Issues and Options, of which Steinfeld is the senior author. "The environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level," it warns.

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2.

The report said this accounted for respectively 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain. "With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year," the report notes. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons in 1999/2001 to 465 million tons in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tons.



They are at last admitting that the "hockey stick" picture of temperature stability before the 20th century is wrong -- but only because they think they can find an explanation for one of the earlier cold periods that does not upset their theories too much. The most honest sentence in the article is however the last one -- which I have highlighted in red.

The Gulf Stream - the ocean current that helps to bring warm weather to much of the North Atlantic region - was significantly weakened during the period known to historians as the Little Ice Age, new research reveals. The discovery supports the notion that a slowing of ocean currents - as some fear might happen in our future - can have significant consequences for climate.

From around 1200 until 1850, during which average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere dipped by around 1 oC, the strength of the Gulf Stream also slackened by up to 10%, oceanographers report. The Gulf Stream, which is part of a vast pattern of currents nicknamed the ocean conveyor belt, carries warm surface waters from the tropical Atlantic northeastwards towards Europe. The reduced flow that occurred during medieval times would have transported less heat, contributing to the icy conditions that persisted until Victorian times.

"This gives us some sense of the natural range in strength. If the change is greater in the future then maybe that will mean something unusual is happening," says David Lund of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who led the research while based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Weakened waters

A weakening Gulf Stream has been predicted to have dire consequences for temperate climates in the Northern Hemisphere. But oceanographers say that it is very unlikely to shut down, as depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow. "That's definitely an absurdity," Lund says.

But the new research by Lund's group shows what can happen if the Gulf Stream is weakened. He and his colleagues studied the remains of tiny animals called foraminifera in sediments off the coast of Florida, where currents feed into the Gulf Stream. Changes in the composition of oxygen isotopes in their shells reflect changes in water temperature and salinity, which in turn reveals the density of the water they were living in.

Mapping the water density between Florida and the Bahamas gives the researchers a picture of how fast the current was moving between them. Lund and his team report their results, which extend back some 1,000 years, in this week's Nature1.

Fresh or salty

Lund and his colleagues think that the Gulf Stream's weakening was caused by a southward shift of the zone of tropical rains that usually feed fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. This rain provides a less-dense top layer of water that bolsters the surface current flowing north. Their measurements show that, during times when the current was weakest, the waters were saltier, suggesting that they contained less fresh water from rain.

The slowing of the current this way can fix itself, however - the extra saltiness of the water should help the water to sink at the northern end of its cycle, Lund says, driving the bottom half of the ocean circulation and re-energizing the current.

This process is in contrast to current fears about the Gulf Stream. Climatologists are worried that continued melting of the Greenland ice sheet could dump too much fresh water into the northern end of the circulation system, where cold waters normally sink and drive the bottom half of the current - dense waters flowing south along the ocean floor. Too much fresh water in the north makes the water less dense and less likely to sink, slowing the current.

Some fear that this process would not fix itself, but rather lead to a runaway effect that slows the current even more severely. Researchers measuring the ocean currents today say that the Gulf Stream shows no clear signs of slowing. Last month, a scientific meeting on the issue resulted in media reports that the Gulf Stream had shut down completely for 10 days in 2004. But as Harry Bryden of the University of Southampton, who led that study, explains, the temporary shutdown actually occurred in deeper currents that form just part of the complex circulation system. The Gulf Stream, he says, was unaffected. "The Gulf Stream seems rather robust to us," he adds.

But big changes could lie in our future. "Now, with the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we're in a 'no analogue' situation," Lund says. With the world warming and the poles melting, it's impossible to say what might happen to the currents.

"We just don't know."


The relevant journal abstract follows:

Gulf Stream density structure and transport during the past millennium

By David C. Lund et al

The Gulf Stream transports approximately 31 Sv (1 Sv = 10^6 m^3 s^-1) of water 1, 2 and 1.3 10^15 W of heat 3 into the North Atlantic ocean. The possibility of abrupt changes in Gulf Stream heat transport is one of the key uncertainties in predictions of climate change for the coming centuries. Given the limited length of the instrumental record, our knowledge of Gulf Stream behaviour on long timescales must rely heavily on information from geologic archives. Here we use foraminifera from a suite of high-resolution sediment cores in the Florida Straits to show that the cross-current density gradient and vertical current shear of the Gulf Stream were systematically lower during the Little Ice Age (ad 1200 to 1850). We also estimate that Little Ice Age volume transport was ten per cent weaker than today's. The timing of reduced flow is consistent with temperature minima in several palaeoclimate records4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, implying that diminished oceanic heat transport may have contributed to Little Ice Age cooling in the North Atlantic. The interval of low flow also coincides with anomalously high Gulf Stream surface salinity10, suggesting a tight linkage between the Atlantic Ocean circulation and hydrologic cycle during the past millennium.



A slowing of the Gulf Stream--the Atlantic Ocean's massive warm-water current--may have been responsible for a minor ice age that occurred between 1200 and 1850 C.E. If true, the finding could have implications for tracking future climate change in the northern hemisphere.

Ocean currents can influence weather on a continental scale. Witness the impact of El Nio, the building up of warm water in the western Pacific Ocean, which causes droughts and severe storms across North and South America. Similar effects can happen with the Gulf Stream, which carries tropical waters from the southeastern United States to Scandinavia--and thereby provides western Europe with a more temperate climate than its latitude would justify. A team of scientists hoped to get a better handle on the Gulf Stream's climatic influence by studying its history during the Little Ice Age. Between 1200 and 1800 C.E., average temperatures in Europe dropped about 4o Celsius.

It turns out that as temperatures chilled in Europe, the Gulf Stream decelerated. The team, led by David Lund, now at the California Institute of Technology, came to this conclusion by analyzing ocean sediment cores going back 1000 years from two widely separated sites in the Florida Straits, where the Gulf Stream originates. In particular, the researchers charted the chemical composition of foraminifera, microscopic creatures whose fossilized shells contain evidence of salinity. From the shells of the forams, as they are called, Lund's team deduced a spike in salinity at the water's surface, suggesting cooler temperatures and a slower current. The team's calculations, reported tomorrow in Nature, indicate the Gulf Stream slowed by about 10% just about the time the Little Ice age began, and resumed its current speed around 1850.

Not everyone is convinced. Some scientists have suggested the core-sample data aren't precise enough. Part of the reason is continuing uncertainty about the entire North Atlantic circulation system itself (ScienceNOW, 17 November). Further skepticism comes from oceanographer Carl Wunsch at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who thinks the researchers are overinterpreting their data. "There are many problems," he says. For example, it is an "unjustified inference" that a weakened Gulf Stream implies less heat being transported northward, leading to a colder Europe.



The European Commission imposed swingeing cuts in permitted carbon emissions by industry yesterday, provoking a storm of protest from European governments and warnings that the cost of Europe's emissions trading system (ETS) would drive up electricity prices. Brussels has drawn a red line through the national allocation plans of nine EU governments and demanded overall cuts of 7 per cent in annual greenhouse gas emissions in the second phase of ETS, from 2008 to 2012.

Germany has been forced to cut its carbon cap from 482 million 453 million tonnes, a reduction that Michael Glos, the Economy Minister, judged "totally unacceptable". Latvia and Lithuania have seen their proposed allocations halved. Greece, Ireland, Malta, Slovakia and Sweden have also suffered big cuts. Of the ten national allocation plans considered, only Britain's passed muster. The UK offered to cap its emissions at 246 million tonnes.

A spokesman for the Commission said that there was no appeal against its ruling. The crackdown on carbon follows the ETS's disastrous first year, in which the price of carbon permits plummeted because of massive over-allocation of permits by EU governments. Under the scheme, governments are expected to allocate carbon permits to firms such that emissions are capped at a level that creates a shortage of permits and an incentive to reduce emissions. Companies that emit less than their allocation of carbon can sell permits to polluters.

Fearing a humiliating outcome, France withdrew its national allocation plan on Monday after an emergency meeting between Nelly Olin, the Environment Minister and Stavros Dimas, the European Environment Commissioner. Mr Dimas said: "Today's decision sends a strong signal that Europe is fully committed to achieving the Kyoto target and making the EU ETS a success."

However, German utilities complained that the tighter caps on carbon dioxide could hinder new power generation and Latvia's Environment Minister said that the ruling was "far too tight for us to fit into".

The ETS has come under fire for allowing free allocations of carbon permits instead of a sale by auction. Power generators have enjoyed billions of pounds in windfall profits because electricity suppliers are entitled to pass on the cost of carbon to electricity consumers, despite having received their carbon permits at nil cost.

The windfall profits are deterring investment in cleaner power generation and encourage utilities in Germany to continue operating power stations that use dirty coal, argues Centrica, the British utility.

David Miliband, the UK Environment Secretary, said that the Commission's decision was good news. "The EU has a responsibility to ensure scarcity in the carbon market and a sustainable price of carbon," he said.

The Commission is assessing a further eight national plans and has taken out infringement proceedings against six states - Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy and Spain - for failing to submit their plans.



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

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

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


Monday, December 04, 2006

Is it ethical to go Down Under for the Ashes?

Dear Ethan,

I have been a cricket fan for years. I even named my daughters Willow and Maiden. I would dearly love to follow our boys Down Under as they defend the Ashes (or fail to, if early evidence is anything to go by!). However, Australia is an awfully long way away and I'm concerned that my own Ashes tour might turn parts of the planet to ashes.. Is there an ethical way to follow the Tests?

Freddie Shaw-Toulouse

Dear Freddie,

I've never been a big fan of competitive sport. My own experience of cricket was to end up covered in bruises from that horrible, hard red ball they use. Sometimes, I think those bowlers were actually aiming it at me.

But leaving personal feelings aside, as we all must do when the planet is at stake - I'm afraid that flying to Australia simply isn't cricket. You might get to watch your favourite sport but you will also dent the planet's sporting chance for survival. It won't only be the little red ball that is knocked for six (and let's not forget that those balls are made of cork, which is stolen from the beautiful Cork Oak tree, and leather, which is stolen from the hides of peace-loving cows); all our futures will also be knocked for six by your moment of sporting selfishness. Remember the first rule of the ethical life: LBW - Let Biodiversity Win!

Flying to Australia is never acceptable, as I recently told a friend who was thinking of going to Sydney to visit his dying grandfather. (We eventually organised a video link-up powered by solar energy and wind.) So flying to Australia simply to watch 22 men hit a ball around, while 22,000 more men shout, drink and sweat, is nothing short of morally reprehensible. The flight will produce 3.75 tonnes of CO2 for each passenger, meaning you will have metaphorically chopped down 20 trees even before touching down Down Under.

The journey isn't the only problem. By travelling to see the cricket, and helping to sustain the cricketing industry, you are contributing to environmental genocide! Trees are felled to make bats and balls and ticket stubs; food and drink are transported hundreds of miles to keep the portly fans happily stuffed while they watch the game; and think of all the detergent required to get those red stains off Freddie and Co's whitey whites. In this case, cleanliness is not next to Godliness; instead, their bright white outfits help to leave a big dirty skidmark on the planet.

As we know, tourists suck up valuable resources - and sporting tourists are even worse, an environmental double-whammy. Travellers demand taxis, adding to congestion and pollution; hotels with clean beds and fresh towels and air-conditioning (don't get me started on air-conditioning); guide books, tourist offices and bus tours. That's right - buses that just go round in a circle and end up back where they started! And travellers consume large amounts of food and booze. How much of that will be local and seasonal? Will your hotdog in the stands be made from a soya-based meat replacement and locally sourced bread made in a traditional stove? Being Australia - land of men and meat - I very much doubt it.

Sporting tourists also don ridiculous fancy dress outfits and demand junk food and carbonated drinks. That's right - carbon-ated drinks. Think of how those fizzy drinks damage the planet every time you belch out the excess gas. It is not going too far to say that a beer-bellied thug burps in Australia and a flood kills hundreds in Bangladesh - never forget that we are all intimately bound together on this threatened mortal coil.

All the beer and beef consumed at a cricket match also produces pretty nasty smells. This can make the local environment a less pleasant, less breatheasy place - and worse, it might encourage people to spray air freshener, and I don't need to tell you that `air freshener' is a profound contradiction in terms (these noxious sprays actually damage air in the long run). Personally, I can't imagine why you would want to be couped up with so many other sweating men. I suppose you could offer them some homemade deodorant. I have a fabulous recipe for one based on lavender and beeswax; every time I wear it, intrigued people ask: `What is that smell?'

Sport is not only bad for the environment; it is bad for people too. Have you not read the research produced by reputable Abuse Studies departments in British universities, which shows that women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence during a major sporting event? Men get so het up over the game that they end up taking it out on the missus. And how can we be sure that Third World women won't be trafficked to Australia to keep Ashes fans happy, in the same way they were trafficked to Germany during the World Cup? A feminist-environmentalist colleague of mine recently uncovered the shocking, disgusting truth of human trafficking: every woman driven in a truck across borders contributes five tonnes of CO2 to the beleaguered planet! Man, sex slavery sucks.

Freddie, you won't like what I'm about to say: you should even avoid watching the Ashes on TV. That uses electricity, and there's the whole domestic violence thing. Instead, we should deny sport the oxygen of publicity by banning it from TV screens, just as sport seeks literally to deny us actual oxygen with its great balls of carbon. Why not watch local sports instead? Get yourself down to the park and watch the kids working off their junk food. Some might say the cricket is not as `good'. But good is exactly how it will make you feel.


The above is satire, of course. But the England cricket team is in fact playing in Australia at the moment. "The Ashes" is the international cricket trophy. "Tests" are the highest form of cricket and are played between national sides only. A single match can continue for up to five days. Did you get the meaning of the enquirer's name? It encapsulates the usual experience of the English when playing Australia


On the eve of our annual holiday season, Warner Bros. released the lavish animated extravaganza Happy Feet, featuring the voices of Robin Williams, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Elijah Wood in a PG-rated story about a tap-dancing penguin. The studio promoted the picture as a feel-good frolic for the whole family, featuring an endorsement quote that promised, "Adults and kids alike will be dancing in the aisles."

Unfortunately, the marketing never acknowledged the movie's unmistakably alarming, discomfiting and politically potent elements - enraging no small number of unprepared parents. The endearing creatures on screen face the deadly menace of leopard seals, killer whales and, most of all, human pollution, overconsumption and exploitation. In the advance screening I attended, one worried mother of a 5-year-old took her anxious, fretful, anguished little boy from the theater during the film's relentless scenes of cute and cuddly penguins in intense pain and deadly peril. The next week, a correspondent who called himself "MikeP29p" wrote on my website: "Unfortunately I read Michael's movie review a day too late. We took our kids ages 6 and 4 last night because they wanted to go because they saw the commercials. I thought an animated movie about penguins would be OK. One of the darkest most disturbing movies I have ever seen. Needless to say, my 4-year-old was terrified."

Even some of the premier critical advocates for Happy Feet acknowledged its nightmarish aspects, but praised them as appropriate because of the film's powerful pro-environmental messages. In The New York Times, film critic Manohla Dargis described this animated offering as "a piercingly sad story about the devastation being visited on the natural world." She allows that director George Miller "plunges his hapless hero into a nightmare worthy of Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor. As politically pointed as it is disturbing, it is a view of hell as seen through the eyes and ears of creatures we foolishly, tragically call dumb." .....

Regardless of the aesthetic virtues (or shortcomings) of either Happy Feet or And Tango Makes Three, it's easy to see why even non-partisan parents would object to their targeting of very young children. In school and elsewhere, it makes sense to introduce preteens to ongoing debates about global warming, environmental degradation or the redefinition of marriage and family, but most mothers and fathers would prefer to spare preschoolers from such grown-up arguments.

Some adults may choose to expose the youngsters in their lives to Al Gore's powerful and skillfully crafted documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, but they will know before they go that they're taking the kids to an occasionally frightening message movie. In Happy Feet, on the other hand, you'd have no reason to expect so much unhappy and worrisome content ....

As children grow and develop, their natural curiosity and ongoing media exposure will lead them inevitably into divisive issues, which all conscientious parents should prepare to help explain. In the earliest stages of life, however, it makes sense to keep them protected from such conflicts and to avoid using preschoolers - and penguins - as the pawns of propaganda.


Massachusetts v. EPA

Post lifted from Lubos Motl -- who points to the perversity of the idea that a gas we all breathe out should be regulated as a "pollutant". It certainly reminds one of the old ZPG slogan: "People are pollution"

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court had one of the strangest hearings in many years. The environmental NGOs decided that no act is too ridiculous for them. So they have simply sued EPA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for causing global warming.

Here is the transcript - thanks to YS!

The environmental organizations have not been regulated at all so they have literally spread like mosquitos which is why I can't enumerate all of them. But you can guess who is the main eco-activist group in this list. Yes: the main dissatisfied environmental organization is called the

which is why the case is called Massachusetts v. EPA. That's a very painful name for all people in Massachusetts with some traces of common sense left. What is the sin of the EPA and how did this environmental agency become the main target of the eco-attacks? Well, according to these environmental groups which includes the elected officials of 12 states of the union, EPA should have protected the atmosphere against carbon dioxide according to the 1990 Clean Air Act. You don't exactly have to be a physics PhD to see that it is a complete absurdity.

The Clean Air Act is a law that protects the air against pollutants such as pesticides and smog. Of course that the people who were writing this law were not quite silly so they wrote it in such a way that it can't be misinterpreted by the first vicious organization that would intend to misuse the law. So if you look at the explanation what the pollutants are, you will see that they must cause at least one of the following things:

  1. injure health
  2. cause environmental damage
  3. cause property damage

Does CO2 injure health?

Well, if the concentration exceeds thousands of ppm, it could. In the atmosphere, CO2 represents about 380 ppm (parts per million of volume) and this number increases roughly by 2 ppm every year and is expected to reach 560 ppm around 2100 which will mean that the pre-industrial CO2 concentrations will have been doubled; see climate sensitivity.

Does 380 ppm of carbon dioxide injure health? Given the fact that we live for many years longer than the people 100 years ago who were breathing a 300 ppm air, you could guess that 380 ppm of carbon dioxide doesn't injure health. Moreover, you could also notice that the typical office concentration of CO2 is between 600 and 800 ppm. Many people keep on spending hours in their offices whose CO2 concentration mimicks the atmosphere in 2200, assuming that we will continue to use fossil fuels for 200 more years.

If you read the actual Clean Air Act, you will see that by health problems, they really meant things like cancer in the context of pesticides etc. CO2 can't come anywhere close to what they meant - and wrote. The only reasonable summary is that the existing emissions of this natural gas don't injure health.

Does CO2 cause environmental damage?

The notion of environmental damage is not defined rigorously but it is not completely ill-defined either. By environment, all these lawmakers clearly meant the fauna and the flora, together with the soil, rivers, oceans, and rocks where the organisms live. Are these things harmed by carbon dioxide? Animals generally live in these conditions as happily as the humans, and the previous paragraphs about the human health apply to these animals, too.

The plants, on the other hand, really love higher concentrations of CO2. They're thriving because carbon dioxide is what they eat. Because the oceans don't disappear and the stones don't break up, the conclusion is that I can't imagine any stretch of imagination that would allow someone to argue, under the pledge of honesty, that the carbon dioxide emissions are causing environmental damage.

Property damage

The question is equally clear if we look at the property damage. The people have invented many fantasies how the carbon dioxide could start to damage the civilization and as far as I know, none of them was able to survive a few couple of observations or more detailed checks. For example, some people have argued that the rising sea levels could destroy cities. Despite the huge CO2 emissions, the sea levels currently rise by 1-2 millimeters per year or so and it is pretty clear that this trend is not going to destroy any cities or houses in any foreseeable future even if it accelerates, because of some unknown reason, by a hypothetical factor of five or more.

Other people have argued that the CO2 emissions measurably increase the number or intensity of hurricanes. After the most quiet Atlantic hurricane season in 10 years, these speculators prefer not to speak about their hypothesis and try to wait for "better" years that would provide them with some evidence. There has never been any scientific evidence for this hypothetical link and the available recent data strongly disfavor it and perhaps rule it out. I could go on and on and on but the conclusion is clear: the carbon dioxide emissions don't cause any property damage.

In the legal context, it is very clear that the causal relationships must be very sharp and a pseudoscientific speculation about carbon dioxide emissions in New Jersey that may contribute to a collapsing cottage in Indonesia 30 years later just can't be good enough evidence for the lawyers.

Carbon dioxide clearly can't become a subject of the 1990 Clean Air Act. The lawmakers wanted be very certain so they have essentially enumerated the compounds that should be regulated. The priority air pollutants are ozone, sulfur dioxide, respirable particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead. They gave a similar explanation of the hazardous air pollutants such as methyl isocyanate. These things have clearly nothing to do with compounds like CO2.

Old gas, new ideology, and precedences

One of the characteristic features of the environmental activists is their megalomanic messianism. They believe that they have just learned about the most important holy spirit - or gas, if you wish - that decides about the life on the Earth and these new religious sentiments - or "scientific findings", as they call them - supersede and exceed all previous knowledge of the mankind.

Is carbon dioxide a new player in the town?

Such a feeling couldn't be further from reality. The truth is that carbon dioxide was one of the first gases that was distinguished from air. In the 17th century, Jan Baptist van Helmont burned charcoal and saw that the ash was much lighter than the original charcoal. He figured out that what happened was a transmutation of his charcoal into an invisible substance that he called "spiritus sylvestre" (wild spirit) or "gas".

Some of the chemical properties of this spirit were understood very quickly and the following 3+ centuries expanded our knowledge about CO2 tremendously. CO2 is an extremely important gas in the cycle of life and biologists, together with some of us, have learned very many things about it.

"But the authors of the 1990 Clean Air Act didn't know about the greenhouse effect," many of the activists will say. Well, that won't be the brightest ones among the activists. The greenhouse effect was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and quantitatively described by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. Even James Hansen's testimony - with all the predictions that were falsified in the next decade - about the importance of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect came 2 years before the Clean Air Act was written down. No really new important insight for this lawsuit occured since 1990. The only insight about CO2 that has really changed since 1990 is that some people became really mad.

The authors of the Clean Air Act have known not only the carbon dioxide but also all of its effects and hypothetical effects that we know today and they intentionally excluded it from the list of pollutants, for a very good reason. Identifying CO2 as another pollutant is just another way to defend "phasing out" of the human civilization and the animal life in general.

Anton Scalia may sometimes confuse the troposphere and the stratosphere, and frankly speaking, I sometimes confuse them as well, but I can't imagine that he doesn't realize that his agreement with the environmental activists would mean to start a decay of the whole American legal system and the U.S. society in general. If CO2 is legally identified as a pollutant because it is a greenhouse gas, what about water vapors? CO2 is the second most important greenhouse gas but water is the number one. With the precedence of a monstrous anti-CO2 decision, people could start to sue others for cooking, sweating, breathing, and emitting CO2 or H2O or any other of the new "pollutants" that could, in principle, contribute to an unexpected change of the weather on the opposite side of the planet 50 years later.

I can't imagine that a responsible lawyer would allow EPA to lose and the profoundly unreasonable environmental activists to win. And according to everything I know, any scientist who claims in front of the Supreme Court that CO2 is a pollutant according to the Clean Air Act definitions should be arrested for false testimony.

And that's the memo.


Journal abstract below:

Phytoplankton and Cloudiness in the Southern Ocean

By: Nicholas Meskhidze and Athanasios Nenes

The effect of ocean biological productivity on marine clouds is explored over a large phytoplankton bloom in the Southern Ocean with the use of remotely sensed data. Cloud droplet number concentration over the bloom was twice what it was away from the bloom, and cloud effective radius was reduced by 30%. The resulting change in the short-wave radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere was -15 watts per square meter, comparable to the aerosol indirect effect over highly polluted regions. This observed impact of phytoplankton on clouds is attributed to changes in the size distribution and chemical composition of cloud condensation nuclei. We propose that secondary organic aerosol, formed from the oxidation of phytoplankton-produced isoprene, can affect chemical composition of marine cloud condensation nuclei and influence cloud droplet number. Model simulations support this hypothesis, indicating that 100% of the observed changes in cloud properties can be attributed to the isoprene secondary organic aerosol.



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

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

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


Sunday, December 03, 2006


As the journal article abstracted below notes, it is a "puzzle" that Indian rainfall has not increased with global warming

Increasing Trend of Extreme Rain Events Over India in a Warming Environment

By: B. N. Goswami et al.

Against a backdrop of rising global surface temperature, the stability of the Indian monsoon rainfall over the past century has been a puzzle. By using a daily rainfall data set, we show (i) significant rising trends in the frequency and the magnitude of extreme rain events and (ii) a significant decreasing trend in the frequency of moderate events over central India during the monsoon seasons from 1951 to 2000. The seasonal mean rainfall does not show a significant trend, because the contribution from increasing heavy events is offset by decreasing moderate events. A substantial increase in hazards related to heavy rain is expected over central India in the future.


Russian scientists predict new Ice Age in 50 years

Researchers with the Russian Academy of Sciences warned Wednesday that the Earth could be headed for a 60-year cooldown, the news agency Interfax reported. Scientists based at the academy's Pulkovskaya Observatory in St Petersburg, Russia, said they expected a gradual decrease in global temperatures in 2012-15, followed by a more dramatic, 60-year period of cold to come in 2055-60. Khabibullo Abdusamatov, chief researcher at the observatory, said the predictions were based on solar cycles, and that after the 60-year glimpse of the Ice Ages warmer weather could be expected. Abdusamatov did not say how much cooler the Earth would get.

Little is known about long-term weather patterns. Evidence that the globe's surface temperature has warmed by about a half-degree Celsius in recent years has livened debate about whether a buildup of greenhouse gases is to blame for global warming, or if it is part of a naturally occurring cycle. The United States' National Academy of Sciences has reported it cannot say with any certainty what has caused the current warming. Scientists have noted a warming of the surface temperature appeared to have occurred between the 1890s and 1940s, and that a 30-year period of cooler temperatures followed.

What is clear is that a little warming goes a long way: During the most recent ice age, which ended 10,000 years ago, much of North America, including New York, is thought to have been covered in glaciers. The global surface temperature then was some 4 to 5 degrees colder than it currently is.

The Russian academy, meanwhile, did not use its predictions to weigh in on whether greenhouse gases will lead to catastrophic global warming. Abdusamatov, the researcher, did add that his colleagues had prepared instruments to monitor changes in the Earth's temperature from outer space. The technology is hoped to be installed on the International Space Station in 2008, with observations to begin in 2009. 'Such a highly accurate apparatus does not yet exist anywhere in the world,' Abdusamatov said without specifying what exactly the apparatus was.

He said the Russian government had contributed 20 million rubles (7.5 million US dollars) to cover half the project's costs. The scientists, Abdusamatov added, are hoping to find sponsors to provide the other half.


More on the Russian prediction below:

About 87 percent of Russians believe that the weather in January of 2006 was colder than usual in their regions. More than one-fourth of the polled Russian citizens said that they experienced health problems because of the cold. Therefore, pessimistic forecasts predicting even colder times on the planet sound quite trustworthy against such a background.

Many media outlets both in Russia and abroad have already exposed their forecasts about the new Ice Age. Journalists paid special attention to the statements released by the chief of the Space Exploration Department of the Central Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the supervisor of the Astrometria project of the Russian part of the International Space Station, Doctor of Physical Sciences, Khabibullo Abdusamatov.

The scientist particularly said that a global reduction of temperatures would hit planet Earth in the middle of the 21st century because of receding solar radiation. Mr. Abdusamatov told Pravda.Ru that the new Ice Age will start very slowly. According to the scientist, the process will gather pace in 2050-55.

Abdusamatov compares the imminent reduction of temperatures with Maunder's minimum of solar activity registered in 1645-1715 (named so in honour of the English astronomer of the 19th century, Walter Maunder), when all canals froze in Holland and severe cold forced many people to leave their settlements. "The coldest years of the middle of the 21st century will be warmer than at the end of the 17th century," the scientist clarified.

Khabibullo Abdusamatov also explained the structure of solar activity cycles that last for 11 and 100 years. The scientist said that 11-year cycles do not affect the Earth's climate. Eighty-year cycles do not have much influence either, although 200-year cycles are much more powerful. The theory, the scientist told Pravda.Ru, was not considered a common scientific theory in the world. "The whole world has recognized the global warming theory, which pictures catastrophic situations in the future. I do not march in step with the world at this point. However, my theory has raised a certain interest in other countries. Hardly had I made a statement to RIA Novosti when I received several messages from scientists living in the USA, Iceland and other countries. They wanted to know more of my theory. They also want to know if I have delivered a detailed report on the matter and where it was published," the scientist said.

More here


Post below lifted from Lubos Motl

Four days ago, the daily cold records were set in most of the South Florida.

Yesterday, i.e. on Monday, the Yukon territory in Canada has seen its coldest November day on record: in -41 Celsius degrees which also happens to be around -41 Fahrenheit degrees, they could test some kinds of superconductors. Congratulations! ;-)

In Calgary, Canada, they're just approaching the record chill in the 110-year history. Nanaimo, British Columbia had a record daily snow for November and 56 cm for the weekend, and they are expecting a deep freeze.

In Vancouver, Canada where they broke the precipitation records two weeks ago, 30 centimeters of snow caused outages, a death, and flight cancellations. With an update, British Columbia that broke the snowfall record has seen four people killed by the cold so far.

Victoria, Canada has seen its record two-day snowfall on Monday and now it's time for a big chill.

Juneau, Alaska has broken the record low from 1985.

Oregon and Washington where they improved the record for the monthly rain in November are preparing for a winter storm and, together with Idaho, a deep freeze. Seattle has broken cold records for 11/29 by four degrees.

Sliding down icy SW 164th Street in Burien, WA, on Tuesday, before the cold really came to the town...

Monterey, California has near-record and near-freezing conditions on Wednesday and a real "freeze warming" is in effect for the interior valleys of San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas for Thursday morning. Sacramento is forecast to match or beat the 1880 record low of 30 degrees F overnight.

Winter chill will hit Arizona soon, too. Utah has seen its record low afternoon temperature and received it first snow. Salt Lake City broke its previous record cold temperature by 5 degrees and Nevada is not far from the record either. Most of the fresh seven Northwestern storm casualties died in Colorado. In Texas, they learn that temperatures can plummet by 30-40 degrees F in less than one day.

What was happening on the opposite hemisphere yesterday, for example in Antarctica? Employees from New Zealand are responsible for maintaining Scott's sleeping bag in the historic Antarctic hut. The four guys had to shovel 85 tons of snow which improved the previous record for a snowdrift by 33%.

When you read these comments, you must be almost certain that the researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences must be right when they predict a new ice age for the next 60 years. Before you make this conclusion, notice that here in New England, people only go skiing on artificial snow. ;-) At the end of November, Massachusetts has normal temperatures but Norway and Finland have a kind of summer in November.

Some places often get warm and other places often get cold. It has been like that for billions of years even though this is not the conclusion you would make after reading most of the newspapers these days. ;-)

Note that the DPA article under the previous "new ice age" link says that the U.S. National Academy of Sciences reported that it couldn't be said with any certainty what caused the recent warming: the long-term weather pattern remain largely unknown, they correctly write.

The only clear thing is that most of Northern America, including Manhattan, was covered by a mile-thick glacier in the period that ended 10,000 years ago, they argue. We will see whether the advocates of the action against the global warming can return the Earth to these natural and nice conditions before the evil capitalist species called homo sapiens (together with corrupt Mother Nature) started to ruin the planet. ;-)

The previous posting about record cold temperatures was focusing on Australia

Australia: No substitute for new dams

As any engineer will tell you, when it comes to water infrastructure, Sydney cannot avoid building a new dam indefinitely. Everything else - desalination, recycling, stormwater retention, rainwater tanks, reducing demand, water trading, ruining irrigators - is tinkering at the edges, buying time until the inevitability of a new dam sinks in, as a growing population outstrips supply. Yet for 30 years politicians of all stripes have been loath to utter the "D" word, for fear of antagonising the green vote.

Debnam [NSW conservative leader] is no exception, refusing to mention dam building as part of any water strategy. Morrison confirmed yesterday that Debnam's shadow cabinet this week ruled out building a dam at Welcome Reef, the Shoalhaven River location identified by water planners of a previous generation. "It is definitely not on the Liberal agenda." By deleting Welcome Reef as an option, Debnam has endorsed a ploy of the former premier Bob Carr to lock up 6000 hectares of land that had been set aside for the dam by our more foresighted forebears. Rather than promising to reverse that shameful decision, Debnam has legitimised easily contested green propaganda which claims Welcome Reef is in a hopeless rain shadow and would destroy endangered species.

The Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, has shown that advocating a new dam, or even two, does not have to be the electoral poison of conventional wisdom. This week he began to make good his election promise by selling the power retailer Energex to raise $300 million towards the cost of new dams.

Even the NSW Premier, Morris Iemma, bowed to the inevitable last month when he announced the first big dam in 20 years would be built at Tillegra, north of Dungog. Existing dams serving the rapidly growing Central Coast are down to a critical 15 per cent. Debnam's response was to dismiss the dam as a diversionary bluff.

At a national level, the Prime Minister, John Howard, and his water tsar, Malcolm Turnbull, have given the appearance of taking water management seriously, with a new Office of Water Resources and the $2 billion Water Fund to deliver infrastructure. But, again, policy appears to be heavily influenced by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, which was founded and funded by the green group WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature) and is opposed to dam building. While Turnbull has stressed "no option should be pre-censored", last month he released a discussion paper, Securing Australia's Urban Water Supplies, which effectively ruled out dams as an option.

The paper, prepared by the financial and economic consultancy Marsden Jacob Associates, cites the Wentworth Group as its authority, talking at length about why the construction of major dams is "unlikely in the future". It cites environmental damage and cost, claims the "best sites are taken" and says climate change makes dams less reliable. Meanwhile, dissenting voices in water management are being ignored.

Take Peter Millington, who was the director-general of the NSW Department of Water Resources from 1986 to 1995 and now works as a consultant on water management with the World Bank. While not billing himself as a dam fanatic, he says governments need to acknowledge that "probably" dams have to be part of the solution. "We don't want to stuff up the rivers but people want balance . Sooner or later we will have to build Welcome Reef Dam." Millington spends time in developing countries advising on long-term water planning and then despairs when he comes home "and we're doing nothing". He says there has been "no long-term rational water planning here for at least 15 years". The policy he sees is "Band-Aid, ad hoc stuff".

Then there are the Tamworth engineers and dam advocates Michael Firth and Colin Joyce, who managed to get a meeting with the Prime Minister earlier this year to present their ideas for vast projects across Australia, including more than 10 dams, pipelines, weirs, river diversions and recycled water schemes. Buoyed by what they saw as his enthusiastic response, they travelled around the country at their own expense surveying sites for water infrastructure projects - from the Welcome Reef Dam to an ambitious and probably impossibly controversial inland diversion of the Clarence River. The result is an 83-page document they hope will be taken seriously. They say private companies are keen to get involved in building the infrastructure. All it would take is someone in government to acknowledge dam building as part of the solution to Australia's water problems. "There is plenty of water," Joyce says. "We just need to catch the floodwaters and store them. No one has yet found a better way than a dam."

With an election looming, Debnam had a chance to be bold like Beattie, to show real leadership on the state's most pressing problem. But it seems he has squibbed it, and no amount of clever strategy from Morrison will hide that fact.



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

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

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


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Inaccurate 2006 Hurricane Forecast Should Remind Americans that Climatology is an Uncertain Science - And Political Science, Even More So

As the 2006 hurricane season comes to a close, the failure of forecasters to accurately predict the frequency and intensity of this year's hurricanes should remind Americans that climatology is an uncertain science. It should also cause Americans to question the reliability of definitive claims made by prominent environmental activists that global warming is increasing the intensity of hurricanes.

Today marks the official end of the 2006 hurricane season. The number of hurricanes was 38 percent below the number originally forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The number of hurricanes that qualified as "major" - category 3 or above - fell 50 percent below NOAA forecasts. Not a single hurricane made landfall. "If we can't depend on hurricane forecasts made one to six months ahead of time, how can we expect to depend on predictions about the behavior of hurricanes decades from now," asked David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Those who claim that rising global temperatures would definitely lead to more intense hurricanes appear to be relying upon political science, not climate science."

Forecasters say their projections this year were off the mark, in part due to a late-developing El Nino, which produced wind sheers that destabilized developing hurricanes. El Ninos are a phenomena that some climate scientists believe would increase in frequency if average global temperatures rise. "If increasing global temperatures increases the frequency and duration of El Ninos as these scientists suggest, global warming could result in less intense hurricanes," said Ridenour. "That is exactly the opposite of what Albert Gore and other often-quoted advocates of immediate action on climate change have been saying."

With uncertainty surrounding the actual effects of planetary warming, The National Center contends that catastrophic scenarios are frequently raised to make the case for action more compelling. "When it comes to hurricanes and global warming, the rhetoric was only thing that grew in intensity in 2006. It is now at such a fevered pitch that even those who believe action on climate change is needed are growing uncomfortable with the shrill nature of the discourse on climate change," said Ridenour. "Mike Hulme, one of Britain's top climate scientists, and a man who believes climate change is underway, probably put it best: 'The language of catastrophe is not the language of science.'"



The British Government is planning to spend 1 billion pounds replacing 78,000 ministerial and civil service vehicles under a programme to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions from its fleet by 15 per cent. The Government has recruited 15 manufacturers from Europe, Asia and North America to supply cheaper, greener cars over the next four years, The Times has learnt. The cost will be shared by 38 government departments and agencies which have agreed to "green'' their fleets in exchange for large discounts on cars available under the partnership.

The programme, which is limited to light commercial cars and vans and does not cover heavy diesel vehicles, aims to slash carbon emissions from the public sector fleet by 15 per cent by 2010-2011 under targets set by the Government this year. The programme is expected to save departments œ100 million, and comprises some of the efficiency savings to be outlined in next week's Pre-Budget Report. The initiative, spearheaded by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), comes as Britain faces pressure to fall into line with EU moves to limit greenhouse emissions, the debate over green taxes and national efforts to combat climate change.

After a tender process of unprecedented size and scale earlier this year, Vauxhall, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, Ford - including Volvo - and BMW won places in the programme. Ford, which already supplies Jaguar and Volvo cars as well as its "Blue Oval" models to Whitehall and the NHS, will now have access to a vast range of agencies and suppliers. Ford currently supplies Jaguars at close to half price to the Government Car and Dispatch Agency, which organises cars for Ministers.

The NHS, which keeps a fleet of 48,000 cars, and the Department for Work and Pensions, which has 2,500 vehicles, joined the programme to satisfy targets set by the Government. The NHS expects to spend 420 million replacing its fleet with the new range of cars, 19.7 million less than it would have cost the department to replace its fleet with the same vehicles again.

Departments wanting to join the programme must calculate the amount of pollution caused by their current fleet by entering engine size, carbon dioxide emission and "Euro 4'' engine rating into a model designed by the OGC. They can then access a database of cars available under the programme, and "shop" for their desired vehicles. They are expected to use the OGC model to monitor the desired fleet's carbon footprint. Annual reports outline the department's progress on environmental targets.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, the Work and Pensions Minister, pledged to use the scheme to meet the Government's targets. "This will not only contribute to the Government's efficiency goals but will also help the public sector to hit its targets on vehicle emissions." The Department for Work and Pensions expects to save about 15 per cent with the discounts that are available under the scheme. Toyota, which currently supplies the popular Prius model being adopted by ministers, hopes that the programme will entice departments to its British-made Avensis model


Australia: Mainstream clergy often prefer Greenie faith to God

By Christopher Pearson

Last Saturday's column was devoted to eco-fundamentalism, the new deep-green religion. It may have come as a surprise to some readers who had imagined themselves sceptical agnostics or atheists to learn that they were in the grip of an essentially religious enthusiasm. Some have written in to deny it and others have wondered whether I may have been carried away by a metaphor or trying to taint the greenhouse hypothesis by associating it with superstition.

To answer the last point first, I'm not remotely anti-religious and use the term fundamentalism in a diagnostic rather than a dismissive way. There is a vast gulf fixed between the sceptical, rational approach and a religio-magical view of the world. The crucial distinction is that scientific propositions have to be falsifiable, to be capable of being proved wrong. Religious conceptions of what is true come from one or other form of higher authority (gods, prophets, the zeitgeist) and have to be accepted at face value, without question. They are, by definition, unfalsifiable.

The conviction that greenhouse gas-induced global warming is about to endanger mankind's survival is an article of faith rather than an assertion of science. The parallels with previous apocalyptic movements are readily apparent in Norman Cohn's classic, The Pursuit of the Millennium. That the greenhouse scaremongering is endorsed by so many people with science degrees says more about the state of contemporary scholarship than anything else. For, as Nigel Lawson so powerfully reminds us, the science is not settled and it is dishonest to pretend otherwise. Not only is it dishonest; it's also a betrayal of the West's tradition of reason and tolerance and a retreat into irrationality and dogmatic thinking.

How is it that people with no conscious sense of religious convictions should find themselves enthralled by unexamined and, prima facie, outlandish beliefs? It happens quite easily over time if most of your friends and family take what they see on television or learn at school for granted. Anyone beguiled by ingratiating invitations to help save the planet has a primary responsibility to reinforce the fear that, in one way or other, it's at risk.

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

There is a further refinement of bad faith that is worth mentioning here. Those most inclined to assertions of collective guilt and sin are usually those with the least to reproach themselves about. So they can enjoy the catharsis of self-denuciation and the inner certainty of being relatively blameless.

Lawson points out the role of weather in religious meta-narratives from the flood onwards. "In primitive societies it was customary for extreme weather events to be explained as punishment from the gods for the sins of the people, and there is no shortage of examples of this theme in the Bible either, particularly but not exclusively in the Old Testament. The main change is that the new priests are scientists (well rewarded with research grants for their pains) rather than the clerics of the established religions, and the new religion is eco-fundamentalism. But it is a distinction without much of a difference. And the old religions have not been slow to make common cause."

How, you may be wondering, could the old religions and Christianity in particular, make common cause with a pagan apocalyptic cult? Are they not completely antithetical? Where even 30 years ago the answer to that question might have been a resounding affirmative, Australian Christianity has undergone a sea change. Readers looking for a timely account of matters should get themselves a copy of Michael Gilchrist's Lost! Australia's Catholics Today (Freedom Publishing). It is especially instructive about the process by which fashionable add-ons such as socialism, environmentalism and feminism have come to colonise Catholicism's religious orders and eventually the church at large. Gilchrist's analysis is also sufficiently broad-brush so that it can be applied pretty much across the board to the other denominations.

Considering the same phenomena, I'm inclined to an explanation that is rather more radical than Gilchrist's. Where he sees mostly bewilderment and educational or leadership failures, I see an explicit collapse of faith. There has been a problem, at least since the Enlightenment, of ostensibly Christian priests and teachers who - with varying degrees of furtiveness - shared a gnosis, a hidden understanding. Their secret conviction was that Christianity wasn't ultimately true and that the best that could be done was to turn it into an engine of political change, redistribution of wealth and even revolution.

The theological modernists the Vatican tried to suppress at the turn of the 19th century went underground until the 1950s. The de-mythologisers in the Protestant churches were far freer to pursue the modernist project, especially in the groves of academe. It wasn't until the "God is dead" ructions in the '60s that it became suddenly clear how many senior theologians in all the churches no longer believed in the resurrection but still thought themselves entitled to their benefices and to speak in the name of the church on anything that took their fancy.

Apart from those Catholic and Anglican bishops who decline to affirm the Nicene Creed when asked, I have no way of knowing which of them are wolves in sheep's clothing. The charitable thing to do is to assume the best. Perhaps the conversion of so many of them to eco-fundamentalism betokens nothing more than theological lapses, scientific ignorance, susceptibility to pagan superstition or the zeitgeist and perhaps the frailties of age.

It is in these terms, rather than bad faith, that we ought to view last year's position paper on climate change on behalf of the Catholic bishops. It was endorsed by archbishops John Bathersby and Adrian Doyle and bishops Christopher Toohey, Christopher Saunders, Eugene Hurley and Patrick Power. It began with a false assertion: "Rapid climate change as the result of human activity is now recognised by the global scientific community as a reality." It concluded that the least the federal Government could do was to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

Had the bishops considered Australia's national interest and the relative equity of Kyoto's allocated emissions targets? Had they pondered the possibility that Kyoto may have capriciously or corruptly favoured some classes of nations at the expense of others? Had they reflected on the almost entirely symbolic character of signing up in the face of general non-compliance? We can safely conclude that in each case the answer was in the negative and that they were carried away by posture politics. More recently Bathersby told a Brisbane Walk Against Warming rally: "I don't think we can be Christian unless we are ecologically converted." In terms of sheer fatuity and presumption, it was on par with the former Anglican primate Peter Carnley announcing that he didn't think it was possible to be a Christian and a conservative.

The Anglican communion has no shortage of eco-fundamentalists, but the most egregious is the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, George Browning. The bishop, who was obliged to resign his see over a sexual affair but was in short order forgiven by a broad-minded diocese where matters of that kind are nowadays deemed not so serious, is, if anything, even more sanctimonious than he was before his lapse became public. In early November he wrote to John Howard and Kim Beazley, telling them that "Australians could not morally vote at next year's federal election for a party that did not have a comprehensive policy on climate change. This is the most serious issue facing global humanity ... We desperately need leaders who can act on this imperative with courage, vision and passion ... We now know that what we are doing is harming the Earth; our living is tilting the balance against life with catastrophic and immediate consequences. We have no mandate to ruin what does not belong to us and our actions are nothing short of apocalyptic." If this is how the bishops talk in public forums, just imagine how much twaddle the average family in the pew must have to endure from younger and less educated clergy.


Australia: The pain of a Greenie judge

Justice Nicola Pain's ruling that the NSW Government must consider the greenhouse gas impacts of all new developments before approving them will be recorded as one of the most ill-considered decisions of the state's Land and Environment Court. When she took up her appointment to the bench in 2002, Justice Pain brought with her baggage stacked with green credentials. The judge's background is as an environmental activist lawyer. She was the principal solicitor with the non-government Environmental Defender's Office, effectively the green movement's legal wing, from 1987 until 1992 and a member of its board for seven years up to 2001. When former premier Bob Carr appointed her to the court, Justice Pain was the EDO's acting director. The move made headlines within the international green movement. This is not the first of Justice Pain's rulings that appear to defy common sense. In September, she approved the development of a brothel in western Sydney despite police evidence that one of the brothel's managers was "unfavourably known" to them. The judge said that "the reputation of a person seeking development consent is not generally a matter for the court to consider in an application of this nature".

On Monday, Justice Pain laid her green credentials on the line in a ruling that could prove devastating for the state's coal and many other industries and pose a giant headache for the Iemma Government in the countdown to the March 2007 election. In a far-reaching decision, the judge found that the director general of the NSW Department of Planning had erred in accepting the environmental impact statement for a new mine proposed for the Upper Hunter. This was because the EIS did not consider the greenhouse impact of burning the 10,000 million tonnes of coal expected to be extracted from the mine each year. Justice Pain fell short of rejecting the application for Centennial Coal's Anvil Hill mine. But in an extraordinary move she then proceeded with a landmark ruling that means all planning approvals in NSW may have to include an assessment of a development proposal's future greenhouse emissions. The court's review of the EIS approval followed a challenge by Newcastle student Peter Gray, a member of the climate change group Rising Tide. Mr Gray's applied to the court to overturn the director-general's approval on the grounds that there was no consideration of the mine's climate change effects.

Justice Pain's ruling is problematic from whatever angle it is examined. Does the judge really imagine that one iota less coal will be burned around the globe or one gram less carbon emitted into the atmosphere if her decision makes it harder for NSW to open new coal mines or expand existing operations? Indonesia, one of the fastest-growing exporters of thermal coal in the world, or South Africa will happily fill any contracts Australia is unable to supply. Recognising this reality, the International Energy Agency has reported that fossil fuels will still be the dominant source of world energy in 2030, with global consumption of coal, oil and gas predicted to increase by about 1 per cent a year. Even more concerning is Justice Pain's apparent use of her judicial authority in what looks like an attempt to dictate government policy from the bench. Climate change is a serious global issue exercising some of the brightest minds of governments, industry, science and environmental experts. The debate has long since advanced from alarm to finding solutions to complex problems. Narrow ideological decisions of the kind produced by Justice Pain aimed at closing down the coal industry mine by mine, pit by pit, contribute nothing to finding the solutions.



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

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

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


Friday, December 01, 2006


In the light of the predictions of economic doom emanating from the Stern report, I thought it might be worth re-running some excerpts from a large econometric paper on one major aspect of the subject. Abstract and conclusions below

The Economic Impacts of Climate Change: Evidence from Agricultural Profits and Random Fluctuations in Weather

By Olivier Deschenes and Michael Greenstone*

Executive Summary

This paper measures the economic impact of climate change on US agricultural land by estimating the effect of the presumably random year-to-year variation in temperature and precipitation on agricultural profits. Using long-run climate change predictions from the Hadley 2 Model, the preferred estimates indicate that climate change will lead to a $1.1 billion (2002$) or 3.4% increase in annual profits. The 95% confidence interval ranges from -$1.8 billion to $4.0 billion and the impact is robust to a wide variety of specification checks, so large negative or positive effects are unlikely. There is considerable heterogeneity in the effect across the country with California's predicted impact equal to -$2.4 billion (or nearly 50% of state agricultural profits). Further, the analysis indicates that the predicted increases in temperature and precipitation will have virtually no effect on yields among the most important crops. These crop yield findings suggest that the small effect on profits is not due to short-run price increases. The paper also implements the hedonic approach that is predominant in the previous literature. We conclude that this approach may be unreliable, because it produces estimates of the effect of climate change that are very sensitive to seemingly minor decisions about the appropriate control variables, sample and weighting. Overall, the findings contradict the popular view that climate change will have substantial negative welfare consequences for the US agricultural sector.



This study proposes and implements a new strategy to estimate the impact of climate change on the US agricultural sector. The strategy exploits the presumably random year-to-year variation in temperature and precipitation to estimate their effect on agricultural profits. Specifically, we use a county-level panel data file constructed from the Censuses of Agriculture to estimate the effect of weather on agricultural profits, conditional on county and state by year fixed effects.

Using long-run climate change predictions from the Hadley 2 Model, the preferred estimates indicate that climate change will lead to a $1.1 billion (2002$) or 3.4% increase in annual agricultural sector profits. The 95% confidence interval ranges from -$1.8 billion to $4.0 billion so large negative or positive effects are unlikely. The basic finding of an economically and statistically small effect is robust to a wide variety of specification checks including adjustment for the rich set of available controls, modeling temperature and precipitation flexibly, estimating separate regression equations for each state, and implementing a procedure that minimizes the influence of outliers. Additionally, the analysis indicates that the predicted increases in temperature and precipitation will have virtually no effect on yields among the most important crops (i.e., corn for grain, soybeans, and wheat for grain). These crop yield findings suggest that the small effect on profits is not due to short-run price increases.

Although the overall effect is small, there is considerable heterogeneity across the country. The most striking finding is that California will be substantially harmed by climate change. Its predicted loss in agricultural profits is $2.4 billion and this is nearly 50% of current annual profits in California. Colorado (-$610 million) and Oklahoma (-$580 million) are also predicted to have big losses, while the two biggest winners are Pennsylvania ($570 million) and South Dakota ($540 million). It is important to note that these state-level estimates are demanding of the data and therefore less precise than is optimal.

Finally, we re-examines the hedonic approach that is predominant in the previous literature. We find that the estimates of the effect of climate change on the value of agricultural land range from -$200 billion (1997$) to $320 billion (or -24% to 39%), which is an even wider range than has been noted in the previous literature. This variation in predicted impacts results from seemingly minor decisions about the appropriate control variables, sample, and weighting. Despite its theoretical appeal, we conclude that the hedonic method may be unreliable in this setting.

Our results indicate that there is room for much additional research in the valuation of climate change. For example, there is little research on the impact of climate change in nonagricultural regions and sectors. Future research should endeavor to produce estimates of the impact of climate change that have a sound theoretical basis and rely on credible identification assumptions.

Thorium reactors could safely solve any Global Energy Crisis

Accelerator driven nuclear reactors based on Thorium may present a solution to the global energy crisis and could help ease political tension globally. Norway could play a key role in this development. This is the opinion of Mr. Egil Lillestol, professor at the Institute of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen. The past year he has spent much of his effort and time convincing the Norwegian public and authorities that nuclear reactors based on Thorium could be the answer to the major energy challenges the world is facing. The professor from the University of Bergen believes that a Thorium power plant is much safer and more efficient than traditional nuclear power reactors:

* There is no danger of a melt-down like the Chernobyl reactor
* It produces minimal radioactive waste
* It can burn Plutonium waste from traditional nuclear reactors with additional energy output
* It is not suitable for the production of weapon grade materials
* The energy contained in one kilogram of Thorium equals that of four thousand tons coal
* The global Thorium reserves could cover the world's energy needs for thousands of years
* Norway has an estimated 180 000 tons of Thorium which based on the current price of oil is equivalent to 250 thousand billion US$, or 1000 times the Norwegian oil fund.

It was the Italian Nobel Laureate, Carlo Rubbia, who came up with the idea of this project which Professor Lillestol wants Norway to initiate. Estimates of energy gains and waste transmutation have been verified in several experiments, which in turn have been checked by the IAEA. What is now needed is the building of a prototype. This will take about 15 years to build and cost approximately 550 M_. It is expected that several countries and institutions will contribute with money as well as know-how if the prototype is realized as an international collaborative effort.

- The current energy crisis dictates us to save energy. Alternatives to the use of fossil fuels must be developed as soon as possible, with direct conversion of solar heat and nuclear power as the only viable options. As an energy nation with large Thorium reserves, Norway has a special responsibility to push the development of an accelerator driven reactor based on Thorium. Within an international project group, Norway should take the lead in the financing, projecting and building of the first prototype of such a reactor inside an international co-operation, says Professor Egil Lillestol



Global warming seems not to include Africa!

Vulnerability to nature is, unfortunately, characteristic of life for most Africans. Millions of people live in conditions of poverty, malnutrition and disease, and are vulnerable to natural disasters and weather-related events like floods and droughts.

At the UN's global warming conference in Nairobi, activists and government agencies are touting these problems as evidence that the continent is already experiencing the devastating effects of global warming. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that water will be drastically affected by the earth's rising temperatures, especially through a decline in rainfall on the African sub-continent. This, it is alleged, will cause more droughts and damaging floods, resulting in threats to water supplies, harming agriculture, human health and the natural environment.

Yet current predictions of adverse effects of global warming on water supplies, floods and droughts on the African continent are completely unfounded, both in theory and measurement. Alarmists have been quick to uphold regional variations in rainfall as evidence of global warming - but no evidence supports this claim. More broadly, they have assumed that all climatic change is undesirable. In fact, an increase in the magnitude and frequency of heavy rains would be beneficial over most of Africa.

South Africa is the ideal sub-continental region to observe climatic signals related to global warming and water. The eastern part has high rainfall, while the west is an arid desert. The south receives rain in the winter, while the north receives it in summer. The average annual rainfall for the whole region is 500mm, compared to a world average of more than 850mm.

Studying the South African data, we find that the mean annual precipitation over almost the whole of South Africa has progressively increased by at least 9 per cent during the 78-year period of record with a high degree of assurance. The 19 districts that constitute the southern and Western Cape benefited from a 17 per cent (57mm) increase in rainfall from 1950 to 1992. Obviously, in a region like South Africa that suffers from water stress, such change is desirable.

Although the 1990s were reported to be the warmest decade of the past millennium, this was not reflected in an unusual increase in the numbers and magnitudes of exceptional hydrological events in South Africa. More recently, the 2005 global temperatures were proclaimed to be higher than any in the recent geological past. Yet again, no exceptional rainfall, river flows, floods or droughts occurred during the year.

Any additional global warming will further increase the annual rainfall over South Africa. The possibility that it will decrease the rainfall in the foreseeable future is remote and without scientific merit. Meanwhile, neither South African climatologists, nor their overseas counterparts, have produced evidence that links increased carbon dioxide emissions to South African rainfall patterns. The increases discussed above were already occurring early in early parts of the 20th Century - well before post-World War II increases in industrial activity and carbon dioxide emissions.

While the causal linkage between variations in solar activity and global climate can be debated, the parallel increases in sunspot numbers, surface air temperature, open water surface evaporation and rainfall during the last century are incontestable. Records show a significant 21-year periodicity in the South African annual rainfall and river flow records that is synchronous with solar activity.

It is water, not temperature, which determines the habitability of our planet. Furthermore, temperature is a measurement - not a property. It does not feature in hydrological analyses: their principal variables are rainfall, river flow and open water surface evaporation. Their relative values vary greatly from region to region in South Africa. Moreover, it is the consequences - such as changes in rainfall and river flow - that are important, not changes in the atmospheric and oceanic processes that produce them. Proof of global warming is not proof of the postulated undesirable consequences.

In recent years, high losses of life and damage to property in South Africa and elsewhere in the world were primarily the consequence of rising populations and not enough space, so people moved to flood-prone areas. The floods were worsened by socio-economic conditions - not increases in flood magnitude or frequency. This is similarly the case with droughts.

Recently, some scientists have repeated their predictions that global warming will degrade the natural environment, based on the assumption that future climate will be warmer and drier. This alarmist view suffers from two fundamental errors.

First, rainfall is increasing - not decreasing. Second, the predicted increases in temperature are no more than the temperature increase between dawn and midday, to which South Africa's vegetation is well adapted. It is thus unlikely that large swathes of natural vegetation will be destroyed.

Sadly, many claims about how global warming will affect Africa are not backed up by scientific evidence - and those who make them appear to be indifferent to the needs of much of humanity. Environmental doomsayers and alarmist scientists have effectively stifled the debate over climate change, with serious implications for other issues.

For instance, South Africa is rapidly approaching the limit of its available water resources. The only large-scale, viable alternative is energy-consuming seawater desalination. The most economical source of this energy is from coal-fired power stations near the site. If this is not possible because it will increase greenhouse gas emissions, the inevitable consequence will be that South Africa's future development will be increasingly constrained by lack of water supplies.

If the present alarmism continues, Africans will be the first casualties of the war on global warming.



Concerning the discount rate assumptions used in the Stern climate review, Partha Dasgupta [Professor of Economics at Cambridge University] writes:

suppose, following the Review, we set delta [the rate of subjective time preference] equal to 0.1% per year and eta [the elasticity of marginal utility with respect to consumption] equal to 1 [so utility is logarithmic] in a deterministic economy where the social rate of return on investment is, say, 4% a year. It is an easy calculation to show that the current generation in that model economy ought to save a full 97.5% of its GDP for the future!

Thanks to Greg Mankiw for the pointer. What Dasgupta is saying is that the approach Stern uses to evaluate intertemporal trade-offs would, if applied generally, suggest that our consumption should drop from over 80 percent of GDP to 2.5 percent, in order to leave the target legacy to our children. What Dasgupta's comment does is crystallize for me the magnitude of the intellectual swindle that Stern is attempting to pull off. Any time you assign a far-from-plausible interest rate to a long-term intertemporal problem, you get distorted results.

In the Social Security privatization debate, pro-privatization fanatics like Peter Ferrara were using far-from-market interest rates to make privatization sound like a free lunch.

Or consider the swindle of biweekly mortgages, which promise to save you "thousands of dollars of interest." In fact, those savings assumed a zero interest rate. Once you discount at the mortgage rate (or even at a lower short-term rate), and take into account the fees charged by those offering to do biweekly mortgage conversion, you actually come out behind Ed Lathrop's article concludes, "So you think my calling biweekly mortgage plans, "a scam", is being a little harsh? I don't think so, in fact, I think they are out and out robbery!." I used to have an even more biting article about the biweekly mortgage on, but it's no longer available. The closest thing I can find is a Google cache of a highly sanitized version that I was forced to put up when we got some threatening correspondence from one of the biweekly-conversion scam artists.

The Stern Review is arguably the policy equivalent of biweekly mortgage conversion. I hope that is not true for the anti-global-warming crusade as a whole.



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

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

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