Sunday, January 01, 2006


A large coal-fired power plant at the center of a dispute a few years ago will close at the end of the year rather than violate a court-ordered deadline to install an estimated $1.1 billion in pollution-control measures. Southern California Edison said Thursday the Mohave Generating Station near Laughlin would close. The plant has provided the utility with 7 percent of its electricity, but the company said its 13 million customers would not be immediately affected because of other power sources. Under a 1999 consent decree won by environmental groups, the aging Mohave plant was required to upgrade its pollution controls or close by Jan. 1, 2006.

The groups had argued the 1,580-megawatt plant, about 100 miles south of Las Vegas, had repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act, emitting high amounts of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and fine particles and contributing to haze at the Grand Canyon. The utility, majority owner and operator of the coal plant, had hoped to keep it open as natural gas prices have continued to rise. In a filing Thursday with the California Public Utilities Commission, Edison said it planned to continue negotiations aimed at keeping the plant open but expected to close it for at least a few months. The environmental groups have said they would not agree to a deadline extension.

The plant is the only customer of the nearby Black Mesa mine, which provides about 160 jobs to members of the Navajo Nation. The mine, run by Peabody Energy Corp., will likely be forced to close. "It was the environmental groups that helped bring this about - for altruistic reasons of course - but the result is that a lot of breadwinners are going to be out of work," said George Hardeen, a spokesman for the Navajo Nation. "We will lose about 160 jobs, and these are some of the best jobs on the Navajo Nation, paying upwards of $70,000. It will undoubtedly impact an already weak Navajo Nation economy."

Environmentalists said they sympathized with the tribes, but argued Edison had plenty of time to fix the plant's pollution problems. They suggested Edison invest in renewable energy sources on tribal land. "It's a smart investment for California ratepayers to take income from a dirty power plant and reinvest it in clean energy, in a way that benefits the people who have been exploited all of these years by the greater metropolitan centers of the West," said Roger Clark, director of the Grand Canyon Trust's air and energy program.



The year was 2001, and George Bush, reflecting a 95-0 U.S. Senate vote against the Kyoto Protocol during former president Bill Clinton's last term in office, definitively rejected U.S. participation in the Kyoto Protocol. As a result, global warming alarmists in the United States and Europe called Bush and the United States an "outlaw" and a "rogue nation." Now, just four years later, an amazing thing has happened. The United States has not changed its position, yet it has become the consensus builder for a more forward-looking approach to climate change.

The resolution that unanimously passed the Senate in 1997 stated the United States would oppose any treaty that would impose serious economic harm on the U.S. economy and would place binding limits on industrial nations but would not apply to developing nations such as China and India. As Kyoto contained both of the shortcomings feared by the Senate, Bush held firm and outlined a different U.S. approach to addressing climate change. Among global warming alarmists on both sides of the Atlantic, the reaction was vitriolic.

Time magazine, for example, called the U.S. a "rogue" nation whose "dangerous unilateralism" would end our role as world leader in international affairs. Alarmists in Europe became downright ugly. The London Guardian called the U.S. rejection of Kyoto a "Taliban-style act of wanton destruction." Conveniently forgetting that other nations, including Australia, also opted out of Kyoto, and that nations such as Russia signed on only after publicly challenging the scientific and economic justifications for it, activists portrayed the United States as an outlaw nation that, like a disgraced gunfighter in the Wild West, would be forced to "go it alone."

But, much as an unjustly maligned cowboy on the silver screen inevitably returns with a large posse and truth on his side, our "rogue" nation has slowly but inexorably become the world's leading consensus builder on climate change. In July 2005, the United States led Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea in forming an international partnership to address climate change in a scientifically based and economically sustainable manner.

The transformation in U.S. global leadership was punctuated in November 2005, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared Kyoto and any other treaty demanding mandatory emissions cuts dead. According to Blair, mandatory emissions cuts are implausible unless technology is developed to make emissions reductions economically sustainable and until mandatory cuts apply to such nations as China and India.

Why did this dramatic transformation occur? There are many reasons. Despite the self-righteous statements of European Union leaders, the EU is failing miserably in its attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions and is far short of its Kyoto goals. At the same time, through public- and private-sector cooperation exemplified by a $100 million grant from ExxonMobil to the Stanford University-led Global Climate and Energy Project, the United States has cut its greenhouse gas emissions every year since its 2001 rejection of the Kyoto Protocol. Over the past three years, EU carbon dioxide emissions have risen (despite a tumbling economy), while U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have fallen (during a period of steady economic growth).

While the EU scores public relations points by vowing carbon dioxide cuts that never reach fruition, the U.S. has invested in and reaped the benefits of new technologies that, for example, dramatically reduce emissions of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

As the European economy stumbles under its Kyoto burden, energy-intensive industry is relocating to China, where the government refuses to cut greenhouse gas emissions and where the economy sizzles. As Blair and others have come to realize, all the promised cuts in European greenhouse gas emissions will fail to make any dent in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels if cuts in Western emissions are outweighed by corresponding increases in Chinese emissions.

The final blow to Europe's Kyoto delusions may have been the November 7 release of an international study predicting substantial harm to European economies that abide by their Kyoto promises. Putting still more pressure on the already-reeling European economy, Kyoto would spark an approximately 25 percent jump in electricity prices and a roughly 2 percent reduction in gross domestic product if Europe were to meet its reduction targets, which it has yet to do. Any additional cuts required after Kyoto expires in 2012 would be even more punitive economically. Tony Blair and other world leaders have come to realize that if you love "That 70s Show," wait until you see a rerun of "That 70s Economy" throughout Europe if the EU fails to follow Bush's lead on global warming.



Two recent events underscore the predictability of global warming distortion by those who gain from exaggeration. The events were the Montreal Conference of the Parties that signed the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. Both took place in early December.

The sheer volume of hype was impressive. Following are the headlines, along with sources, generated on the afternoon of Dec. 7, first from the Montreal U.N. conference. (University news sources are those eventually picked up in other stories). These were obtained from Google's news search page:

Global warming to halt ocean circulation (University of Illinois).
Warming trend adds to hazard of Arctic trek (Salem, Ore., News).
Pacific islanders move to escape global warming (Reuters).
Tuvalu: That sinking feeling (PBS).
World weather disasters spell record losses in 2005 (Malaysia Star).
Arctic peoples urge U.N. aid to protect cultures (Reuters).
Threatened by warming, Arctic people sue U.S. (Agence France Presse).
Next, from San Francisco:
Ozone layer may take a decade longer to recover (New York Times).
Earth is all out of new farmland (London Guardian).
Forests could worsen global warming (UPI).
Warming could free far more carbon from high arctic soil than earlier thought (University of Washington).
Rain will take greater toll on reindeer, climate change model shows (University of Washington).
Methane's effects on climate change may be twice previous estimates (NASA).
Average temperatures climbing faster than thought in North America (Oregon State University).

How can things be so bad? Each story carries an "it's worse than we thought" subtext. There was a single additional story to the contrary, carried by AP, which indicated plants may store more carbon dioxide than previously thought, which would help limit warming. That gives us a score of "it's worse than we thought" winning by 14-1. What's the chance this is really true?

Start with a prediction about climate change. For example, perhaps some computer model predicts the next 50 years will see about three-quarters of a degree (Celsius) of warming (actually the most likely value). Now, given new information, what's the chance this forecast will be raised rather than lowered, i.e. that "it's worse than we thought" rather than "it's not as bad as we thought it was."

Fifty-fifty. Unless the world is a very strange place, each new piece of information that causes us to change an estimate of some future quantity has an equal probability of raising or lowering that forecast. That's the same probability as in a coin toss. The odds of two successive "heads" are 1 in 4. So what's the chance of only one "head" in 15 successive coin tosses? One in 2,000.

The most casual observer would have to remark on this prima facie evidence for rampant bias in climate science, but the most casual social scientist might find it quite predictable. Scientists compete with each other for finite resources, just like bankers and corporations. In this case, successful competitors are those rewarded by their universities or institutions. In all science, this means publishing research articles in the refereed scientific literature. That research costs tremendous amounts of money and there really is only one provider: Uncle Sam (i.e. you and me).

No one gets much of this pie by claiming his or her issue may, in fact, be no big deal. Instead, any issue -- take global warming, acid rain and obesity as examples, must be portrayed in the starkest of terms. Everything is a crisis, and all the crises compete with each other. Similar logic applies in the policy arena. Remember that the job of policymakers is precisely that: to make policy, which does not get made unless whatever policy "absolutely necessary" to avoid certain doom.

Then, finally, what gets played on TV and in the papers? More crises. Near-death experiences sell newspapers and attract viewers. Those who question this need only look at ratings for The Weather Channel. Some people may remember it once was the station you turned to for round-the-clock national and local weather. The ratings were in the tank.

Now, in prime time, you are likelier to see the 20th rerun of how this tornado went over that house and how everyone almost died, usually with some pretty snappy home video. Or, just to get your attention for sure, a re-enactment of the sinking of an oil rig in a howling cyclone -- re-enacted because everyone on board drowned. Ratings have boomed.

Perhaps it is dismaying that science has become as blatantly biased toward tragedy as television. But, given how we fund and reward science and scientists, it was inevitable, and global warming is only one of science's many predictable distortions.



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

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

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


No comments: