Sunday, November 20, 2005


What a backdown from Britain's most ardent global warmer! It shows he just says whatever he thinks Tony Blair wants to hear

Worldwide interest in the threat from greenhouse gases has undergone a "massive change", the government's chief scientific adviser has said. Sir David King told the Commons Environmental Audit Committee he had noticed a "culture change" in attitudes to pollution in the last two years. But this had to be translated into a greater international effort. Sir David warned of rising sea levels and melting ice caps if global warming was allowed to worsen.

He told MPs no government in the world would switch off its power stations to maintain carbon dioxide levels below 400 parts per million, if this seemed to threaten the country's economy. He said that globally, if carbon dioxide was to be kept below 550 parts per million, there would need to be a reduction of CO2 by 2050 of between 60% and 65%. But this would mean getting a worldwide agreement to cutbacks in fossil fuel, which was "unrealistic".

Sir David said: "We are not anticipating that Africa and India will reduce their emissions, let alone reduce them by that amount over that period of time. "If we could maintain China, India, and Brazil to a relatively low growth in emissions, we'd be doing rather well." However, environmentalists had "managed to achieve something of a culture change. I'm not saying that we're all the way there. "But certainly when I went out to Australia a few weeks ago, there was an enormous amount of interest in climate change. It got a lot of media attention. "So climate change is very much up there and people are considering it."


Poverty: The killer that matters most

A new study by a University of Wisconsin - Madison research group has concluded that global warming is causing the deaths of about 150,000 people each year. Part of the research draws upon World Health Organization (WHO) estimates from a few years ago that addressed warming-related increases in malaria, diarrhea, flood related fatalities, and drought-related malnutrition. Poor countries, especially those in Africa, are noted to be, by far, the most affected. This new study will likely be a hot topic at the next U.N. climate conference to be held in Montreal in early December, at which representatives from countries around the world will discuss future policy responses to increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from the use of fossil fuels.

Coincidently, at the same time this study was released, I happened to be at the Ugandan Embassy in Washington D.C. The Ambassador to the U.S. from Uganda, Edith Ssempala, spoke forcefully and passionately about the negative influence that western policies have had on her people. Due to the unintended negative consequences of policies that the wealthier countries of the world have adopted, Africans continue to die by the millions each year.

But the policies the Ambassador was criticizing had nothing to do to with global warming. What is killing Africans in greatest numbers is poverty, and international trade policies that prevent Africans from protecting themselves from diseases that are easily preventable. The Ambassador mentioned pressure from environmentalists in wealthy nations that has prevented the construction of hydroelectric dams in Africa, denying electricity to millions of people. Two billion of the Earth's inhabitants still do not have access to electricity, leading to massive death tolls from problems such as food-borne illnesses (due to a lack of refrigeration) and pneumonia brought on by breathing air contaminated by the burning of dung or wood for heat and cooking. Anyone that has had to suffer through a loss of electricity for any length of time becomes quickly aware of how necessary electricity is for daily life.

Worries over death tolls from global warming is a case of misplaced concern and priorities. Stop using fossil fuels tomorrow and see how many people die within one month. Sure, that is an extreme example, but it raises a valid point. Even if warming does indeed cause an increase in malaria-related deaths, is it better to go ahead and use what works (safely!) to rid humanity of the disease, or to instead punish the world's production of wealth in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? One thing history has taught us is that wealthier is healthier. As they say, those that haven't learned the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

The Ugandan Ambassador was particularly critical of westerners that have a romantic view of how Africans should live, as if the simpler life is a preferable one. How many people in the industrialized world with this view would be willing to trade places? There is a reason poor countries are much more concerned with achieving a decent standard of living than whether there might be some environmental consequences. Haven't you ever wondered why environmental concerns are almost exclusively restricted to people with a good standard of living? Those that have access to abundant refrigerated food, clean water, and health care? They can afford to spend some of their wealth to reduce pollution. Much of the world can not. As it is, many areas of poor countries have been mostly deforested as people forage for wood to cook and heat with. Is this what environmentalists want? Also, the poorest countries have the greatest rates of population growth. Is this what environmentalists want?

But, you might argue, doesn't the generation of wealth increase certain risks (e.g. global warming)? Sure! But the possibility that you might choke to death on your food doesn't keep you from eating. When environmentalists don't mention that the benefits of wealth generation far outweigh the risks, they are at best supremely naive, or at worst dishonest and inhumane. It has been calculated by many reputable economists that the cost of doing anything substantial about global warming far exceeds the cost of adaptation to it. I am not suggesting that we do nothing, only that we be smart about what we do. And if we are truly interested in solving the global warming problem (to the extent that one exists), technological advancement is the only way to achieve large greenhouse gas reductions. And guess what it takes to make those technological advancements? Wealth.

The whole DDT issue is a good example of stupid environmental policy. Insiders say the de facto ban on DDT was the result of politics, not of overriding human health and environmental concerns. Threats of trade bans on countries that dare to use DDT, one of the safest and most effective insecticides available, have contributed to over one million malaria-related deaths each year in Africa. Literally hundreds of millions of people contract the disease each year. While the knee-jerk hostility to DDT is now increasingly being realized to be bad policy (the reinstitution of DDT use in South Africa has reduced malaria deaths there by about 95%), it is but one example of how disinformation spread by well-meaning environmentalists lead to massive human suffering.

Gradually, though, the tide is turning. More and more politicians, such as Tony Blair, are realizing that it is impractical to ask people to suffer economically for unmeasurable reductions in future levels of global warming. Governmental representatives (such as those that will attend the Montreal conference next month) that make a career out of finding new ways in which to restrict the freedom of people around the world to serve one another as they wish through market economies can not be allowed to succeed in implementing ill-conceived solutions to environmental problems. Or, as one man from South Africa put it, Africans should not be forced to suffer simply so rich tourists can drive by in their air-conditioned Land Rovers and take pictures of their quaint way of life.



Greenpeace protested by dumping tonnes of coal outside Downing Street. 'We've blockaded Downing Street with coal because Tony Blair has failed on climate change', said executive director Stephen Tindale. 'They told us things can only get better, but Blair's burning more coal than ever, our CO2 emissions have gone up, he's set to miss his own global warming targets and now it seems he's trying to kill off the Kyoto Protocol.'

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has also gone on the attack. 'Despite the huge difference in historic rhetoric on the key issues of climate change and the control of hazardous chemicals, the actual negotiating position of the prime minister becomes daily less discernable from that of US President George W Bush', said campaigns director Andrew Lee.

These campaign groups are not alone in their concern. Lord Robert May, president of the Royal Society, has spent much of the past year making increasingly dramatic statements on climate change policy. As the BBC's Roger Harrabin noted on the Today programme recently, 'Lord May, if you have been following his utterings of the past year or so, has been getting more and more and more shrill on the issue of climate change. He is sounding like a desperate man. But he is shouting and shouting, and people aren't hearing'.

They have good reason to be worried. It had been widely assumed that Kyoto would be the first of a series of agreements setting tough targets to reduce greenhouse emissions. However, the cost of implementing even this treaty, which is widely recognised to be no better than a starting-point even by its most ardent supporters, is now starting to cause alarm.

The New Labour government smugly announced that Britain would set even tougher targets for itself than Kyoto demanded; yet it now seems likely that Britain will fail to reach those self-imposed goals, or even the Kyoto targets. As Baroness Byford noted in a House of Lords debate on the subject last week, 'At Kyoto, the British government agreed to reduce UK carbon dioxide emissions by 12.5 per cent by 2012. Since 1997, UK emissions have risen by 5.5 per cent, and that increase steepened by 1.5 per cent in the last six months of 2004 and by 2.5 per cent in the first half of this year.'

Having spent a fortune promoting renewable energy, particularly wind power - about œ1billion in subsidies are expected over the next five years - and having imposed a Climate Change Levy on homes and businesses making energy use more expensive, there seems to be less and less stomach for imposing the kind of additional burdens that would enable the UK to meet the targets it set itself only a few years ago.

If the fears of climate scientists are confirmed, significant climate change will happen anyway regardless of whether the Kyoto targets are met. In fact, as 'skeptical environmentalist' Bjorn Lomborg has noted elsewhere on spiked, even if you accept the worst fears about climate change, setting targets about carbon emissions is likely to be a horrendously expensive way of achieving very little. 'Despite our intuition that we naturally need to do something drastic about such a costly global warming, economic analyses show that it will be far more expensive to cut CO2 emissions radically than to pay the costs of adaptation to the increased temperatures', Lomborg argues.

Therefore, a shift towards adaptation rather than prevention as the basis of policy seems to be underway. The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) last week announced a consultation into existing preparations for climate change. Environment minister Elliot Morley commented: 'Climate change is happening and it will impact on all organisations across the country. The government is aiming to put together an adaptation strategy to assist in this planning. But first we need to know what is already in hand.'

Whether or not there really will be substantial climate change remains unknown. But warmer weather, if it comes, should be balanced against all the other competing demands placed on society that are not given privileged status. As it happens, Blair is still banging the drum about the dangers of climate change - all he has suggested is a change in the way it is tackled.

But even this change of emphasis threatens to downgrade the status of environmental campaigns. Their response is tantamount to a child's tantrum at being ignored.


Mobile phones no health risk: WHO

The World Health Organisation has a simple message for people who think mobile phone transmissions or their signal emitting base stations are making them sick. Televisions and radios pose more of a risk.

The organisation's Mike Repacholi said signals from mobile phone base stations were generally less powerful than those from TV and radios. People had been exposed to these for decades. He said people were generally scared by new technology but after $250 million worth of research had been carried out over 10 years there was still no evidence that mobile phone masts posed a substantial health risk.

Dr Repacholi was in Melbourne this week for a two-day workshop during which the latest findings relating to radio frequency fields were discussed.



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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