Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Crazy assumptions lead them into to crazy alliances

The growing number of people who migrated from developing countries to over-populated Western states in search of a better life was damaging the planet and could be avoided, a think-tank said today. Governments and aid agencies should encourage families to stay put by tackling environmental degradation, such as the spread of deserts, that forces many to leave, rather than promote migration, the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), a British group that campaigns for a sustainable population, said.

At the same time, Britain should continue to fulfil its humanitarian obligation to genuine refugees and asylum-seekers, the think-tank said in evidence to a parliamentary inquiry on population. Parts of the planet that have been damaged by climate change, soil erosion and water shortages merely deteriorated further once their inhabitants fled. In addition, migrants typically increased their ecological footprint - the damage each person inflicts on the environment - by moving from low to high-consuming countries. "The priority must surely be to prevent or cure environmental damage, and help people to remain in their homes and communities, not abandon damaged areas of the planet to their fate," the OPT said in a report.

The ecological footprint of someone from Bangladesh increases sixteen-fold if he or she emigrated to the US, while that of a Somali citizen rises more than thirteen-times when he or she migrated to Britain. The push factors behind migration could only be solved by reducing the impact of consumption and population in richer countries and supporting environmentally sustainable development in poorer nations, the OPT said.

More here


The area in France covered by forest has grown by a third in the last 50 years, partly due to to private investors who have funded reforestation programmes as part of long-term, tax-efficient investment plans. One third of France is covered by trees, the farm ministry says, and at more than 16 million hectares, the country's forest takes up more land than all the arable crops combined.

The investment yield is not even close to that achieved on stock or bond markets. But investors do enjoy tax breaks and they get something that an equity stake can't provide -- a slice of the countryside they can pass on to the next generation. Seventy percent of France's forest is privately owned while the remaining 30 percent is state owned with just over one million proprietors owning at least one hectare of trees. "In exchange for looking after their piece of forest, owners obtain significant tax rebates," a top manager at the largest forest fund management business, CDC Foret, told Reuters. He said many people chose to invest in forests in the late 1970s, seeing them as safe havens at the time of the oil crisis. "Forests then became for many a sound investment," he added.

The country gains something too. Forests absorb the equivalent of 138 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and provide three percent of the country's energy consumption.

Investing in forests became even more attractive after the wind storm of 1999 that destroyed many trees throughout France. But even with the fastest growing trees, investors have a considerable wait to see any return on their money. Poplars are one of the fastest trees to reach maturity. "Poplars take on average 25/30 years to grow and if the wood sells well, it can yield a return of up to six percent on investment," the manager said, adding that to be economically viable a unit requires an investment of more than 50 hectares.

French retail bank BNP Paribas says taxpayers who invest in wooded land, forests, or parts of a forest group from mid-2001 until end-2010, can benefit from a tax deduction that equals 25 percent of their investment within a limit of 5,700 euros for a single person and double for a couple. "This brought capital into forests and revived investment in this section of the economy," the CDC Foret manager added......

Reuters, 25 May 2006

Biopharm thrilla in Manila

Fruits and flowers are not the only things blooming in the tropics. At the invitation of the U.S. State Department, I presented a series of lectures and briefings in the Philippines about an exciting advance in agricultural biotechnology: "biopharming" -- the programming of plants to produce pharmaceuticals that can be purified, or that might even be delivered by eating the plant material itself. The early-stage R&D I saw during my travels was astonishing. University of the Philippines, Manila, Professor Nina Barzaga -- "The Illustrious Nina," as she is known locally -- has introduced into banana plants the genes that express potential vaccine proteins for typhoid fever, rabies and the HIV virus. She and her collaborators intend to process the bananas sufficiently to be able to standardize the dose -- by converting them to dried banana chips, for example -- and then to carry out clinical testing.

As I met with scientists, regulators, agency heads and senior politicians, I found that while much of the science is stunning, over-regulation is a significant obstruction to progress.

The concept of biopharming is not new. Many common medicines, such as codeine, morphine, bulk laxatives and the anti-cancer drugs taxol and vincristine have long been purified from plants. But biopharming's great promise lies in using gene-splicing, or genetic modification (GM), techniques to make old plants do radical new things. Gene-splicing has been applied to plants for decades in order to improve their nutritional value and agronomic traits (yield, pest- and drought-resistance and the like). The production of high value-added substances is a logical, straightforward extension.

Biopharming offers tremendous advantages over traditional methods for producing pharmaceuticals. There is great potential for reducing the costs of production: The energy for product synthesis comes from the sun, and the primary raw materials are water and carbon dioxide. And if it becomes necessary to expand production, it is much easier to plant a few additional hectares than to build a new bricks and mortar manufacturing facility. (Think Tamiflu, the anti-influenza drug, which is in short supply.)

Finally, vaccines produced in this way will be designed to be heat-stable, so that no "refrigeration chain" from manufacturer to patient will be required -- a major advance for use in developing countries, especially in the tropics and throughout Africa.

Approximately two dozen companies worldwide are involved in biopharming, and about half have products in clinical trials. The spectrum of products is broad, ranging from the prevention of tooth decay and the common cold to treatments for cancer and cystic fibrosis. Just last month, California-based Ventria Bioscience reported favorable clinical results with two human proteins biopharmed in rice and used to treat pediatric diarrhea.

There are major, interrelated obstacles to moving these projects through to commercialization, however. Excessive, unscientific regulation, the bleating of anti-biotech NGOs, and shortfalls in funding -- all conspire against the projects. Worse still, these negative factors reinforce one another. Over-regulation makes field trials difficult and hugely expensive to carry out, which makes it hard to attract Big Pharma collaborators or funders; and the NGOs endlessly wring their hands about risks and point skeptically (and cynically) to the absence of medical breakthroughs.

Critics of the new technology have made dire predictions of contamination of the food supply, warning of "drugs in your corn flakes." However, the sophistication of modern agriculture enables us to sequester different crop varieties when necessary and to cultivate safely the same species of crops for food and for new pharmaceuticals. Having said that, one must admit that human error is inevitable, so it is reasonable to ask: What is the likelihood of consumers' sustaining injury if a few biopharmed plants find their way into the food supply?

In order for unwanted health effects to be realized, several highly improbable events would have to occur. First, the active drug substance would have to be present in the final food product -- say, corn chips or oil, if the drug were made in corn, for example -- at sufficient levels to exert an adverse effect from either direct toxicity or allergy. But there is generally a huge dilutional effect, as small amounts of biopharmed material are pooled into a much larger harvest; with few exceptions (e.g. peanuts), even an allergic reaction requires the presence of more than a minuscule exposure. Second, the active agent would need to survive milling, other processing, and cooking. Third, it would need to be orally active (usually, proteins are not because they are degraded in the gut).

The probability that all of these events would occur is extremely low.

To be sure, biopharming misused could present valid safety concerns. It would be irresponsible, for example, to produce the anti-wrinkle drug Botox in an edible plant, except under very high conditions of containment, probably in a greenhouse or screenhouse: the active ingredient in the drug is, after, all, the highly lethal botulinum toxin (which is safe when injected under the skin in tiny doses).

One constant around the world is the over-regulation of agricultural biotechnology, especially biopharming. For example, the regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture impose highly prescriptive standards that fail to take into account the actual risks of a given situation, but mindlessly dictate one-size-fits-all, draconian requirements. These include large buffer zones between biopharmed and other crops; the requirement to leave land used to grow biopharmed plants fallow for a year following harvest; and the setting aside of planting, storage and harvesting equipment exclusively for biopharmed crops. Moreover, USDA has imposed a zero-tolerance for any biopharmed crop in food -- which is unscientific, unrealistic and unnecessary. (Regulators seem to have forgotten about the long-established tolerance levels in grains for unwanted substances such as insect parts, rodent droppings and harmful fungal toxins.)

Countries such as the Philippines that lack large, sophisticated regulatory apparatuses often follow the lead of the United States or the United Nations, whose regulations are lethal to innovation in poorer countries. If you're running a small-scale but high-quality R&D operation that can't test its biopharmed plants in the field, it's hard to convince potential commercial collaborators that you're for real.

If we can't break this vicious circle by injecting science into public policy, biopharming's development costs will continue to be hugely inflated, only very high-value-added products will become development candidates, and consumers worldwide ultimately will see few biopharmed drugs in the pharmacy. And in the process, the impressive work of people like The Illustrious Nina will be for naught.


New Study Points to an Inconvenient Truth about Global Warming

Mistakes, Ignored Data Bely Claims of Catastrophe and Extinction

Al Gore's global warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," is the latest in a line of films, TV shows and news features warning of a impending global catastrophe caused by human-induced climate change. Yet according to a new study published by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), the most inconvenient truth is that the science behind these claims is fatally flawed. "The complexity of the climate and the limitations of data and computer models mean all projections of future climate change are unreliable at best," said David Legates, author of the study and the director of the University of Delaware's Center for Climatic Research. "Science does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures, nor claims of human influence on weather events or extinctions."

The study notes that climate models used as the basis for global warming claims routinely miss key climate factors, which results in false predictions of catastrophe. Furthermore, some official reports, including the U.S. National Assessment, published in 2000, describe only the 2 most extreme predictions, ignoring 30 other models that are far less radical.

Many activists have attributed increases in hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornados, hail storms and heat waves to global warming caused by human activities. However, scientific evidence does not support their claims. For instance, the unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was blamed on climate change - but experts say these recent storms were part of a natural cycle and the increased damage was due to increased coastal populations and development. Some have also attempted to link global warming to species extinction. However, the study notes that the link is tenuous. For example:

* Recent claims that polar bear populations are threatened by global warming ignore the fact that only two polar bear populations are declining (both in regions were temperatures are falling), while others are increasing and most are stable.

* Recent claims that coral reefs are "bleaching" (losing color and dying off) due to warming oceans ignore evidence that bleaching appears to be a healthy response in which corals expel one symbiotic species of algae for a better-adapted species that allow corals to thrive in warmer waters.

"These over-hyped claims of extinction are the 'Coca-Colalization' of science," concluded NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. "If you want to sell a product, or a cause, just tie it to a cute, cuddly animal. Snails, snakes and spiders withering in the sun just don't pack the same emotional punch as a cuddly, furry polar bear slipping beneath the melting ice."



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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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


In a country where it rains every second day or thereabouts!

Circus clowns have been warned to stop throwing water at each other or risk violating a drought order. The entertainers, who work for Zippo's Circus, typically get through 20 buckets of water during their slapstick "slosh" shows. The circus is in Wallington, Surrey, this weekend and Martin Burton, who is in charge, has been warned that the routines violate the drought order issued by Sutton and East Surrey Water. "The water board has had a complete sense of humour failure," he said. "I called them up to check the act was OK and they said it broke the rules and threatened me with hefty fines and cutting off our access to water.

"It is ridiculous and they need to chill out. The great British public don't like getting wet themselves but absolutely love seeing others getting drenched. "And this treat is confined to the circus. I could collect rainwater or use mineral water but the water board are so zealous I can't be sure they won't just cut our water off without investigating if someone reports it."

A drought order has been granted by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to allow Sutton and East Surrey Water to restrict the "non-essential use" of water throughout its area of supply. The order authorises the company to prohibit or limit the use of water. It means the clowns will not be able to use water pistols or squirt water from plastic flowers.

Stuart Hislop, a spokesman for the company, said: "No-one else is allowed to fill buckets from a hose in their back garden and throw them over each other, so why should the clowns? It is a total waste of water. "Twenty buckets of water per show can soon add up and we hope Mr Burton will follow the sensible advice he has been given. "It is not setting a very good example to all these children going to the circus. We are talking about a situation here where we could run out of water."

Under the order, 275,000 properties served by the company will be banned from using hosepipes or sprinklers to water gardens, lawns, allotments, parks, golf courses or to wash vehicles. Deliberate breach of the order is a criminal offence and punishable by a fine of up to 5,000 pounds.

Mr Burton said: "I think my clowns are secretly smirking because it means they get to stay dry but I am annoyed. It means we will have to rely on mime gags instead."



One of the more distasteful features of environmental rhetoric is the terminological confusion with which it is riddled, whereby certain grants of privilege are constantly confused with rights. The rights to which serious political discourse has traditionally referred are negatively conceived and refer to limitations on how governments may act towards their citizens or how citizens may act toward each other. This conception of rights is the one put forward in, among other documents, the Declaration of Independence, the American Bill of Rights and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Rights so conceived do not require that others be forced to act in specific ways if I am to exercise my rights but only that they refrain from intervening in certain areas without my consent. Thus, my right to life does not entail that others are obligated to do everything within their power to keep me alive but only that they cannot kill me.

Unfortunately, environmentalists have a tendency to employ the term "rights," not in this negative manner but in its far more vulgar sense, to refer to some privilege that entails that others not refrain from acting, but positively act in certain ways. They are, of course, not alone in this. The last hundred years have witnessed a serious erosion in political discourse as politicians have increasingly invoked such terms as "liberty" and "rights" solely to elicit certain emotional responses in their hearers. This deterioration in political language has reached a point where it is now not uncommon to hear people speak of their "rights" to "higher education," to "quality health care," even to "truth in airline scheduling," and so on. Environmental discourse, far from being immune to such imprecision, has embraced it. And environmentalists, especially those employed as government functionaries of one kind or another, regularly use the term to refer to privileges that entail an obligation on others to provide certain services. Thus, Principle 1 of the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in 1972 declared that "man has the fundamental right to . adequate conditions of life in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being." Similarly, the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development refers to "the right of individuals to know and have access to current information on the state of the environment" and "the right to participate in decision making on activities likely to have a significant effect on the environment."

Even when the term "rights" is employed by ecologists in what is seemingly its more traditional, negative sense, as, for example, when environmentalists write of "the right to live free from pollutants" it is often so used without any regard to the context in which these rights are situated. When one refers to "the right to a smoke-free environment," as numerous spokesmen of the anti-smoking campaign often do, surely it makes sense to ask "of just whose environment are we speaking?" While I might indeed have such a right to demand of others that they not smoke on my property, have I the same right when it comes to the property of others? But even put in such bald form, the majority of environmentalists would argue that, in most cases, I would indeed have such a right. Such rights obtain, they argue (and in this they are by no means alone), because most private property is not, in reality, private at all, since members of the public (either all members of the public, as is the case with, say, a department store, or certain specific members of the public, as is the case with a business office) are invited onto the property. By virtue of this fact, nominal private property is transmuted into commonly owned property, the disposal of which can justifiably be determined by political means. Indeed, most environmentalists have extended this notion of public ownership to the whole of the natural world. They write of the "common heritage of all humanity" and of "sharing the world's resources equitably." It is as if each of us, when born, inherits our pro rata share of all the wealth of the world, the land and the oceans of the earth, and all that is on, above, or below it, without regard to the prevailing ownership of these resources. It is apparent that the term "right," as here used, designates something quite different from what is signified in the expressions "right to life," or "right to one's liberty." A "right" to a portion of the world's resources clearly obligates the civil authorities (and the population at large, who ultimately must fund the operations of the civil authorities) to certain positive acts. This is particularly true in this instance since one's "right" is, on examination, not an individual right at all, but rather a "collective" right (if such a perverse notion makes any sense at all) that, by its very nature, can be exercised only by some authority ostensibly representative of the collective.

The language of environmental science is particularly debased when the rights to which environmentalists refer pertain to non-humans. Even so eminent a jurist as William O. Douglas has referred to "the rights of nature," and this notion has been adopted by a host of other ecologists. These writers, in their attempt to emphasize the physical and biological interdependence of all life, have perverted the language of morals and politics to apply to all of nature, thus undermining all arguments that place man in a unique position with respect to the environment in which he lives. As one ecologist has observed: "Humanity has no extraordinary moral claim or rights over the natural world." Christopher Stone, Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, has proposed that "we give legal rights to forests, oceans, rivers, and other so-called 'natural objects' in the environment - indeed, to the natural environment as a whole." The extension of rights to animals, it is argued, is nothing more than a continuation of the same movement that broadened the notion of rights to encompass all human beings, regardless of color or gender. Thus Peter Singer, one of the founders of the "animal liberation" movement and the person responsible for having first formulated the notion of "speciesism," writes that "the basic element - the taking into account of the interests of the being, whatever those interests may be - must, according to the principle of equality, be extended to all beings, black or white, masculine or feminine, human or nonhuman."

The "deep ecologists," of which Singer is a less extreme example, propose nothing less than that animals, plants, trees, even minerals, have rights that must be respected lest man violate the moral injunctions ultimately derived from natural law. Indeed, the extension of the ethical universe to such natural phenomena as mountains and rivers, thus closes the circle with the most primitive forms of mysticism. If we were to accept the claims put forward by what, in the movement, are called "the deep ecologists," that rights extend to all forms of life and, in some instances, to inanimate objects as well, humanity would be frozen into inaction lest it trespass on the prerogatives of nature. What is particularly alarming is that this senseless conclusion, a clear reductio ad absurdum to most, is actually espoused by many prominent environmental spokesmen, whose antipathy for all human endeavor is one of the more repugnant aspects of their creed. For these writers humanism is a term of derision, which asserts the superiority of human life over animal and plant life and denies to non-human entities the rights that a properly construed morality dictates they possess.

Lest it be supposed that an ardent emotional attachment to the world of nature is incompatible with an abhorrence for humankind, we would do well to remind ourselves that National Socialism also embraced both a comprehensive ideology and an extensive legislative program for the "protection of nature." Shortly after taking power the Nazi government sought to give legislative voice to the notion that modern capitalist society and its property relationships had uprooted man from his legitimate place in the natural, organic world. Laws aimed at protecting animals and limiting hunting were soon followed by the law of 1 July 1935 for the protection of nature (Reichsnaturschutzgesetz). The preamble to the 1935 legislation, setting forth the rationale and intent of Nazi environmental legislation, displays the same romanticization of nature and disdain for the economic achievements of modern society that permeate current environmental literature.

Today as before, nature, in the forests and the fields, is an object of longing, joy and the means of regeneration for the German people.

Our native countryside has been profoundly modified with respect to its original state, its flora has been altered in many ways by the agricultural and foresting industries as well as by the unilateral reallocation of land and a monoculture of conifers. While its natural habitat has been diminishing, a varied fauna that brought vitality to the forests and the fields has been dwindling.

This evolution was often due to economic necessity. Today, a clear awareness has emerged as to the intellectual, but also economic, damages of such an upheaval of the German countryside..

The German government of the Reich considers it its duty to guarantee our fellow citizens, even the poorest among them, their share in the natural German beauty. It has, therefore, enacted the law of the Reich with a view toward protecting nature..

"Protecting nature" was apparently perfectly compatible with a remorseless hatred of certain groups of humans, particularly those, as Luc Ferry has pointed out, who were not rooted in the community, the "cosmopolites," whose heritage placed them outside the bounds of the social organism and who lacked connection with the soil. Ferry notes that

the philosophical underpinnings of Nazi legislation often overlap with those developed by deep ecology, and this for a reason that cannot be underestimated; in both cases, we are dealing with a same romantic and/or sentimental representation of the relationship between nature and culture, combined with a shared revalorization of the primitive state against that of (alleged) civilization.



With Al Gore's new movie opening this week, there are some inconvenient truths its maker should consider: Gore himself has done incalculable harm to the cause of combating global warming. His efforts to call attention to the dangers of climate change may prove prescient but his policy prescriptions have been nothing short of disastrous.

Consider the facts: The Kyoto Protocol, which Gore personally negotiated for the United States, was a colossal mistake-a fundamentally flawed approach that has taken nearly a decade (and counting) to recover from. If ever a treaty was dead on arrival, it was Kyoto, given that the Senate had voted 95-0 against two of its essential elements before it was negotiated. (That vote rejected any treaty that would seriously harm our economy while exempting the developing world from any obligation to reduce its emissions-a sensible litmus test.) That didn't stop Gore from agreeing to its terms, knowing full well that it would never be ratified-a remarkably cynical political move.

What's wrong with signing an impractical treaty? A lot, actually. Kyoto stopped us from pursuing more realistic alternatives. Even now, Kyoto's misconceptions haunt us: Having already agreed that the developing world need not reduce its (rapidly increasing) emissions of greenhouse gases, it will be hard to persuade those countries to reconsider. Yet without their participation, no limits on global emissions can be effective.

Before Kyoto, the world was seriously engaged in thinking through the challenge of climate change. That started in earnest after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which committed the world to working together to avoid dangerous interference with the global climate. It left open the more difficult question of precisely what to do but it set the right goal, and for five years scientists, economists, engineers, and government officials struggled with that question. After Kyoto, that process largely ground to a halt.

Of course President Clinton never even tried to get the Senate to approve the treaty, and for seven years the rest of the industrialized world wrestled with ratification. A year ago, the Protocol finally came into effect-at least on paper. We have next to nothing to show for it. Canada is the latest country to admit (just this week) that it cannot meet its Kyoto targets; it wants to pursue voluntary measures when the Protocol expires in 2012. The rest of the participants aren't doing much better: No country has actually made substantial reductions in its greenhouse gas emissions because of Kyoto, and many European countries will miss their targets by double digits. Moreover, those limits are only a small fraction of what many scientists think is needed to stabilize the climate.

The problem with meeting these targets is simple: the necessary technologies don't exist. At best, Kyoto would mean spending a lot of money to accomplish very little. Kyoto-style targets may promote modest reductions in emissions today but they aren't going to produce the research needed for fundamental technological breakthroughs that could slash overall global emissions. Short-term, modest targets aren't incentives for ambitious long-term research.

After wasting almost a decade pursuing Al Gore's answer to climate change, Kyoto's failure is clear. The much-celebrated "trading" mechanism that was expected to cut the cost of compliance is barely functioning. Trading emissions credits works well when the technologies exist, such as smokestack "scrubbers" to remove sulfur dioxide. But greenhouse gases are another matter: There are so many sources of carbon dioxide, and so few affordable ways to get rid of it. Establishing an effective market for trading these credits is much more complicated than advocates ever imagined.

So, if not Kyoto, what? Environmentalists should thank President Bush for breathing new-albeit indignant-life into the stagnant climate-change debate when he announced in 2001 that he wouldn't pursue ratification of Kyoto. New policy opportunities opened up and people went back to the creative drawing boards. We're taking small steps in the right direction, but activists are more enamored with their politics-which dictate that anything that Bush supports must be wrong-than with spurring these nascent efforts on. Clinton and Gore continue to mislead Americans by telling us that the solutions are simple and cheap-all we need is political will to implement them. Nothing could be further from the truth: the answers to climate change are expensive and elusive; they will be found in the Los Alamos labs, not the halls of Congress.

The only way to make meaningful reductions in global greenhouse-gas emissions is to develop new clean energy and transportation technologies-and not just hybrid cars and windmills. Doing politically correct things like building solar panels would shave a few points off our total emissions, but only breakthrough technologies like hydrogen fuel cells will make real cuts possible. And their cost is the key: We can build fuel-cell cars now-for $1 million. When we figure out how to sell them for $30,000, we won't need an international treaty to get people to buy them. Almost every major car company in the world is frantically trying to unlock that puzzle and-are you sitting down?-George W. Bush, the ex-oil man who once mocked Al Gore's fascination with green cars, is pouring billions of federal dollars into the effort.

Bush has also spearheaded other efforts to develop clean energy technologies, such as the Asia-Pacific Partnership, which includes key developing countries such as China and India. Activists scorn these initiatives because they don't require emissions reductions today, but in the long run they are our only hope. The real question is how to best advance this research-government labs, private sector R&D, or some combination? What's the right level of funding, and the best way of organizing the research?

In the meantime there is one technology that could dramatically reduce America's greenhouse-gas emissions-and yet environmentalists are fervently opposed to it. Al Gore doubts it has much potential. But the only cost-effective way we know right now to produce thousands of megawatts of zero-emissions electricity is nuclear power. America, of course, hasn't built a new nuclear plant since Three Mile Island, but that's going to change. Just how many plants are built, and how quickly, will depend in part on how fierce the environmental opposition is. Will Al Gore lead the way?

National Review Online, 25 May 2006


There are a lot of folks running around shouting that recent Arctic warming is, to use a favorite alarmist word, "unprecedented"-which means, to them at least, that we are approaching "dangerous" levels of climate change. It seems a bit odd to equate "unprecedented" with "dangerous," since the former implies something that is novel, while the latter implies something that is known. So, for instance, since we know that for a good 90% of the past 400,000 years the earth was locked into ice age conditions, it would seem that a "precedented" cooling would be perceived to be far more "dangerous" than an "unprecedented" warming, wouldn't it? But we digress.

In any case, how close to being "unprecedentedly" warm are we in our northerly latitudes? (We focus here on the Arctic because the Antarctic has been cooling for the past several decades, so that pretty much eliminates temperatures there from being unprecedented).

The answer, not very. In fact, today's temperatures aren't even close to being "unprecedented." Writing in the journal Quaternary Research, Jason Briner from the Geology Department of the University of Buffalo and a host of colleagues from the United States and Canada state:

This study offers a high-resolution lacustrine Holocene climate record that spans the last ~11,200 years. The most notable feature of Holocene climate at Lake CF3 [located on Canada's Baffin Island] was the well-defined HTM [Holocene Thermal Maximum] between ~10,000 and 8500 cal yr B.P., when chironomid-inferred summer temperature was ~5ºC warmer than today and the duration of seasonal lake ice cover probably was the shortest since deglaciation.

Putting this finding in context, Briner et al. continue:

Pollen records from several Baffin Island lakes indicate middle Holocene temperatures ~1 or 2ºC warmer than present (Kerwin et al., 2004). Because pollen-based temperature reconstructions rarely extend beyond 7 or 8 ka [thousand years], they may not capture maximum Holocene warmth. Chironomid taxonomy- and ?18O-based summer temperatures from Qipisarqo Lake on southern Greenland indicate that conditions were 2 to 4ºC warmer in the early Holocene versus the late Holocene (Wooller et al., 2004). Diatom-inferred temperature data from Fog Lake, ~420 km south of Lake CF3 , reveal a ~4ºC difference between the middle and late Holocene (Joynt and Wolfe, 2001). Dynocyst assemblages from northern Baffin Bay marine cores reveal ~5ºC difference in sea surface temperature (SST) between the middle and late Holocene (Levac et al., 2001). Greenland ice sheet borehole paleothermometry indicates a temperature change of ~3.5ºC between the middle and late Holocene (Dahl-Jensen et al.,1998)

So, Briner et al.'s results add to a large amount of evidence that conditions in the Arctic were several degrees warmer than present during extended periods since the end of the last ice age (the "holocene" era). And if you think that this only applies to the region around Baffin Island, think again. UCLA's Glen MacDonald and colleagues reported this, a couple of years ago, in the same journal,

Radiocarbon-dated macro fossils are used to document Holocene treeline history across northern Russia (including Siberia). Boreal forest development in this region commenced by 10,000 yr B.P. Over most of Russia, forest advanced to or near the current arctic coastline between 9000 and 7000 yr B.P. and retreated to its present position by between 4000 and 3000 yr B.P....During the period of maximum forest extension, the mean July temperatures along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5º to 7.0ºC warmer than modern.

And Darrell Kaufman from Northern Arizona University and his colleagues took a comprehensive look at research performed over the remainder of the Arctic and summed things up in Quaternary Science Reviews as,

The spatio-temporal pattern of peak Holocene warmth (Holocene thermal maximum, HTM) is traced over 140 sites across the Western Hemisphere of the Arctic (0-180ºW; north of ~60ºN). Paleoclimate inferences based on a wide variety of proxy indicators provide clear evidence for warmer-than-present conditions at 120 of these sites. At the 16 terrestrial sites where quantitative estimates have been obtained, local HTM temperatures (primarily summer estimates) were on average 1.67±0.8ºC higher than present (approximate average of the 20th century), but the warming was time transgressive across the western Arctic. As the precession-driven summer insolation anomaly peaked 12-10 ka (thousands of calendar years ago), warming was concentrated in northwest North America, while cool conditions lingered in the northeast. Alaska and northwest Canada experienced the HTM between ca 11 and 9 ka, about 4000 yr prior to the HTM in northeast Canada.

So there you have it. Based upon the scientific literature, it would appear that rather than approaching an era of "unprecedented" temperatures in the Arctic, we are fast approaching and era of "unprecedented" hype. We certainly hope the folks responsible for putting together the new Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the U. N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are taking notice of these developments.

World Climate Report, 25 May 2006


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.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Sickening: Dutch told to return land they won from the sea

A photograph of a grinning boy, riding a toy tractor, has pride of place in the kitchen of Aarnout and Magda de Feijter, the owners of a 148-acre farm in the Dutch province of Zeeland. The picture is of their first grandson, Louis, and the de Feijters have always dreamed that he will one day take over the expanse of wind-rippled flax fields that has been in their family since 1835.

But there are other plans. In the name of European Union environmental directives, their farm is earmarked for flooding - the first time in Holland's centuries-long battle against water that a substantial piece of land is to be deliberately returned to the sea. Some 230 years after its flat pastures were wrested from the waters, the de Feijters' farm - their home for 33 years - is to be re-flooded to reverse the disappearance of Zeeland's mudflats and salt marshes.

For the family - raised in a province that owes its very existence to dyke systems dating from the Middle Ages - the plan is "un-Dutch". Breaching dykes is behaviour associated with invading armies, noted Mr de Feijter. Flooding a "polder", as land enclosed by a dyke is known, "has always been an act of war", he said. The couple have planted chestnut trees and apple orchards and resent hearing that it is ecologically less important than salt marshes. "Isn't this landscape beautiful?" said Mrs de Feijter. "There are birds, there are flowers. It's green."

The final decision must be ratified by parliament next year, but chances of a reprieve look slim. Dutch officials support the project, part of a scheme to re-flood 1,500 acres of land on the banks of the Western Schelde estuary. The re-flooding has been imposed by the EU Habitats directive, and the EU Birds directive. The end will be quick. Engineers will build a new dyke behind the de Feijters' land and demolish their 150-year-old farmhouse. Then they will breach the high, grass-sided dyke at the bottom of their drive and the sea will rush in.

Mrs de Feijter was eight during the flood of February 1953, when almost 2,000 people died across Holland. Now, their farm is serene. There is no feel of the coast about their polder. You could imagine yourself a hundred miles inland - until you notice the top decks of a container ship slowly slide past.

Anton van Haperen, a wetlands expert with the Dutch national forestry service, is blunt. Since 1960, Zeeland has lost two thirds of its wetlands, he said. "Farmland has less value, ecologically." Yet he has no doubt that, without EU laws, politicians would not dare to flood farmers' fields.

The de Feijters will be given compensation, worth 2 million pounds. They talk of buying a new farm and starting again, though they are in their 60s. They do not rail against the EU, instead blaming "environmental extremists". Arguably, their foes are the shoppers of Holland and Belgium, with their appetite for cheap goods from the Far East. In order to allow ever bigger container ships into Antwerp harbour, a deeper channel is to be dredged that will speed up erosion of the banks. It is that loss of habitat that must be compensated for. Gerard van Overloop, the government official who will oversee the flooding, said: "For hundreds of years, Zeeland was built by taking land from the sea. Now we are doing the opposite and it goes against our nature."



The Green/Left always pretend to find great wisdom in primitive people but that idea vanishes instantly if they see an opportunity to disrupt the fulfilment of basic human instincts. Attacking people is what environmental extremists are all about. And the fact that they have to lie about polar bears dying out does not faze them either. Even the NYT article below admits that there are more bears than ever these days

Bob Hudson says he has played in the Rose Bowl, jumped out of airplanes, scuba dived off Fiji and stalked bighorn sheep in the Rockies. But for all the excitement of his 67 years, there was one thrill he still craved: hunting polar bear in the high Canadian Arctic. He sold his beloved Jaguar XKE on eBay for $26,000 to do it. After heavy wind and snow ruined his hunt in April, he took another $14,000 out of his retirement account for a return trip. "Life is short," Mr. Hudson joked. "The last check you write should be to the undertaker, and it should bounce." Mr. Hudson, a McDonald's franchise owner from Oxford, Miss., got his trophy: a nine-foot bear bagged with a single shot from 30 yards. But the future of the hunt is far less certain for those who may want to follow his tracks.

Polar bear hunting has gotten caught up in the larger debate over global warming. Scientists and environmentalists are pushing for measures to protect the animal, whose most immediate threat, they say, is not hunters, but loss of habitat. As its icy environs shrink, the polar bear has, improbably perhaps, become the new poster face of Arctic vulnerability. Move over, baby seal. "People care about polar bears - they're iconic," noted Kassie Siegel, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The reality of the threat to polar bears is helping to get the word out," she said, about the effects of climate change. Her group, along with Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a petition with the United States government to list the polar bear as threatened as a way to push the American authorities to control greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide from cars.

The message has alarmed American polar bear hunters, who could be barred from bringing their trophies home from Canada, the only country from which they can legally do so. It has also run up against unbending opposition from local communities of Inuit, also known as Eskimos, and the Nunavut territorial government, which has expanded sport hunting in recent years. For polar bear hunters, who are typically wealthy Americans past 50, the trip in a caribou-skin suit on a dog sled is an age-defying passage in a land of disorienting beauty, where the sun does not set for months and nothing but a dreamy blue strip of sky distinguishes ice from cloud.

For their Inuit guides, the sport hunt is a preserver of tradition and a welcome source of income in snowbound settlements where jobs are almost as scarce as trees. "The environmentalists can say no more hunting of polar bears, but we'll keep killing them," said David Kalluk, 65, a Resolute village elder. "That's the way it has been for generations and generations."

But while the hunt may be unchanging, the globe's climate is not. Global warming and over-hunting could diminish [And pigs could fly one day] the polar bear population by at least 30 percent in coming decades, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, a network of 10,000 scientists, predicted in May. "Given what the climate models predict for continuing warming and melting of sea ice, the whole thing leads to an extinction curve," said Peter Ewins, director of the World Wildlife Fund Canada's Arctic Conservation Program. "And it's not a question of if, it's a clear question of when." Hunting, when insufficiently controlled, he added, "has the potential to really compound the problem."

Nunavut increased its annual hunting quotas by 29 percent last year - to 518 kills, an increase of 115 - saying that Inuit hunters were actually seeing an increase in polar bear populations. That impression, some scientists and environmentalists say, is simply a matter of the bear's greater visibility, as shrinking ice pushes them closer to Inuit communities. Those experts tick off a list of stresses on the polar bear: Global warming is melting the bear's icy migration routes, critical for breeding and catching seals for food, around Hudson Bay and Alaska. Poaching is threatening populations in Russia. Pollution is causing deformities and reproductive failures in Norway.

Other experts see a healthier population. They note that there are more than 20,000 polar bears roaming the Arctic, compared to as few as 5,000 40 years ago, before Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to strong restrictions on trophy hunting in the 1970's. Some scientists say northern polar bear populations are safe from global warming, and those farther south might well find ways to adapt or simply migrate north.

Mitchell Taylor, manager of wildlife research for the Nunavut government, said warming trends had so far seriously affected only western Hudson Bay, just one of 20 areas where polar bears live. He acknowledged that over-hunting could be a problem in Baffin Bay, between Canada and Greenland. "In other areas, polar bears appear to be overabundant," he added. "People have to quit thinking of polar bears as one big continuous mass of animals that are all doing the same thing."

In Canada, a committee of scientists recommended in 2003 that the government list the polar bear as a species of "special concern," which would require federal monitoring. But the environment minister sent the recommendation back, under pressure from Nunavut officials, who complained that traditional Inuit knowledge had been ignored. "The bears are getting smaller, their reproduction is getting less effective, and I have heard about data that show their survival is in decline," said Marco Festa-Bianchet, a biology professor at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec who recently stepped down as chairman of the committee. He said the panel would complete a new report in 2008. In the meantime, he said, "the fact that the hunting quota has been increased clearly increases the level of concern."

Meanwhile, officials at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service expect to rule in December on whether the polar bear should be designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. That designation is a real possibility, they said, at least for several of the 13 areas where Canadian bears now roam.

The possibility that wealthy American hunters may stop coming north has raised concern among Inuit people and politicians, even those who also decry global warming as a threat to their way of life. Nancy Karetak-Lindell, an Inuit member of the House of Commons, called the effort by American environmentalists "a little intrusive and very disrespectful." In an interview, she added that the bear hunt "is more than a way of life, it's a way of survival." In Resolute, a snow-swept hamlet of shacks hugging a salty ice-packed Arctic channel, Inuit villagers hold an annual lottery to see who will get the permits to kill the local quota of 35 bears a year. Fifteen of those bears will be consumed locally, as food and to make rugs, mattresses, wind pants and mittens. The 20 other permits are sold to American hunters. With each permit, or tag, worth nearly $2,500, that means a fast infusion of nearly $50,000 a year into the community, on Cornwallis Island some 500 miles above the Arctic Circle. On top of that, the guides earn almost $8,000, and their assistants another $4,500, per hunt.

If the Americans stop coming, the guides say, they will seek other foreign hunters or kill the entire quota for themselves. Demand is already pent up. Outfitters who organize the hunting trips say there is a three-year waiting list for Americans who want to go. Hunters say few experiences can compare with the sensation of sighting a bear, then watching the Inuit guides release their huskies to surround and confuse the prey long enough for the hunters to shoot it. "This is my Disney World," said Manuel Camacho, a 60-year-old urologist from Miami, before he set out on his hunt in May.

More here


`We are fighting the same battle, for the liberation of black people. In the past that meant taking on old racists and colonialists - now it means challenging environmentalists too.' Roy Innis doesn't mince words. As national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the New York-based black civil rights group founded in the Forties, he has caused a mighty stink with his attacks on greens. Innis thinks that environmentalist thinking is helping to `strangle Africa'. He argues that European Union restrictions on the use of the pesticide DDT to combat malaria are `killing black babies'; that Western liberals' handwringing over genetically modified crops and food is `holding Africa back'; and that ideas of sustainable development are causing a `stagnation in African development'.

As you can imagine, he hasn't made himself especially popular in the process - he's even earned the tag `Uncle Tom', a stooge for Big (White) Business, from some of the more intemperate greens. `Yeah, I've heard that one', he says. `I'd like to know where these people were in the Fifties and Sixties when my organisation provided the shock troops on the civil rights battlefield. Look at my work on civil rights and you'll see I'm the opposite of an Uncle Tom.'

How has the chairman of an organisation whose members confronted the racist cops and KKK members of the American Deep South in the heady summer of '64 ended up eye-balling greens, those usually well-meaning young trendies, in 2006? CORE was founded in 1942, as the Commission of Racial Equality, by a group of interracial students in Chicago. It grew through the Fifties and Sixties to become one of the main groups involved in the protests against segregation in the South in 1963 and 1964. It organised the `Freedom Rides', when both black and white activists rode on public buses through Birmingham and Montgomery in Alabama in a naked challenge to that state's segregation of public transport, and sponsored the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King delivered his `I Have A Dream' speech. CORE also opposed imperialism and colonialism in Africa and other parts of the Third World.

Yet now Innis, chairman of CORE since 1968, speaks passionately about challenging greens. That's one hell of a turnaround, isn't it, from taking on the racist authorities to attacking people who care about nature? `We're being consistent', he says. `Our aim has always been to raise up black people, at home and in Africa. Some of the old barriers to doing that are still around but there are new ones as well.' And one of the biggest new barriers, he reckons, is the politics of environmentalism. He's particularly disturbed by the global restrictions on the use of DDT to fight malaria. His wife is a Ugandan, some of whose friends and family members have been killed by the disease. Innis has been on numerous fact-finding trips to African countries to uncover the impact of malaria on people's lives and livelihoods. `What hits me every time - every time - is that this is a disease we can control', he says. `We eradicated it in America and Europe with DDT, so why not in Africa?'

DDT - or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, to give it its full, if rarely used, name - is a flashpoint issue in the debate about environmentalism. The pesticide kills mosquitoes, the blood-sucking pests that spread malaria. It was one of the main weapons in the Western authorities' war on malaria in the mid-twentieth century. Malaria once killed thousands of Americans and Europeans every year. It did in Oliver Cromwell, among others. As Innis has written, `From Italy and Romania to Poland to the English Channel.malarial mosquitoes ruled over Europe for centuries'. The development of DDT in the twentieth century helped to put an end to that. After the Second World War governments in Europe and the US intervened aggressively against malaria, including with DDT, and consigned the disease to the dustbin of history - at least in the West - where it belonged.

But in the Sixties and Seventies, green activists raised concerns about the impact of DDT on wildlife and the environment. Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring, widely described as the `bible of environmentalism', claimed that DDT harmed birds of prey and their eggs. Following intense lobbying and campaigning, DDT was banned in America in 1972 by the Environment Protection Agency and its use was severely restricted in Europe, which impacted on its use in countries in Latin America and Africa where malaria is still a big problem. And all of this happened despite the fact that, as a member of the organisation Africa Fighting Malaria points out, where heavy use of DDT in agricultural settings did occasionally cause harm to birds of prey that harm subsequently `proved reversible', and `after 50 years of study there is not one replicated study that shows any harm to humans at all'.

Yet African states are still put under pressure to avoid using DDT. This year the EU warned of possible agricultural sanctions against Uganda, Kenya and other countries that defiantly use DDT and vow to continue doing so. An EU official warned the Ugandan authorities that if indoor spraying of DDT meant there was `a risk of contamination of the food chain', then while `[it] would not automatically lead to a ban of food will mean that that particular consignment cannot be sent to Europe'. `The EU should be saying that DDT is safe and poses no threat to EU consumers', says Innis. `Instead they make either direct or oblique threats about possible trade sanctions. What they're really saying is, "We've benefited from DDT and gotten rid of malaria but you people in Africa cannot do the same".'

Innis has seen for himself the devastation caused by malaria. At Christmas his nephew, also a CORE activist, returned to a school in Uganda that he sponsors and found that 50 of the 500 children had died from malaria in a 12-month period. `What a waste of human life', says Innis. `What an avoidable tragedy.' He says the reason the malaria thing makes him so angry is that even in the poorest parts of Africa this disease can be stopped by a simple application of DDT. `You just spray a small amount, twice a year, on the walls of homes and it keeps 90 per cent of mosquitoes from coming in. It irritates those that do come in, which means they rarely bite. Every African home that needs it should have DDT sprayed on the walls.'

It isn't only the restrictions on DDT that anger Innis. He also champions the development of genetically modified crops, arguing that they could massively benefit African farmers. `Lots of people in America and Europe panic about GM, but I've spoken to Africans who want it', he says. `We don't want Africa to be left behind again and to lose out on this scientific revolution. GM could increase yields and ensure a good quality of nutrition.' And he isn't very impressed by arguments for sustainable development, claiming that it `stagnates real development, which is what Africa needs'.

Innis recognises that most green activists mean well. `They want to do right, but they are so wrong on some things', he says. His main concern is that environmentalist thinking has been elevated into an official dogma, taking centre stage in numerous debates about the developing world at the UN and the EU. He goes so far as to claim that green thinking about the Third World is `like a new form of colonialism'; he talks of `eco-imperialism'. `It is a colonialist mentality', he says. `Making decisions for other people from one's own perspective rather than from the perspective of the people being affected - that is my definition of a colonialist mentality and that is the approach taken by some officials and green activists to the Third World.'

The attitude of green groups (and other aid organisations) towards Africa and its problems are certainly deeply patronising and even dangerous. But I wonder if perhaps Innis, and other commentators and activists who try to challenge environmentalist orthodoxies, focus too much on the individual greens themselves - as if Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth were single-handedly, as part of some dastardly plot, subjugating the Third World to their political whims and storming the UN and the EU to force officials to spread environmentalism around the world. I would argue that these groups merely express, if in a more explicit form, the narrow outlook and low horizons of Western politics more broadly today. From the top down in the West - and especially in that creaking and slothful institution, the EU - meaningful development and industrialisation are seen as too risky and potentially damaging. Greens add a radical gloss to what is in fact a mainstream orthodoxy.

And by focusing on flashpoint issues such as DDT or GM, anti-green critics could also be said to be avoiding the hard arguments about what the Third World really needs. No doubt easy access to DDT would help to combat malaria and make life more pleasant for hundreds of thousands of Africans. But there are more fundamental reasons - to do with lack of development and widespread poverty - that means diseases can take hold in Africa in a way that they don't in most of the West. I'm sure introducing GM to Africa would be beneficial to farmers, but it would be no substitute for industrialisation and urbanisation, for liberating people from being reliant on farming in the first place, whether it be of the GM or non-GM variety.

Yet Innis is raising important - and controversial - questions. He's received a lot of flak for his arguments. Some greens seem especially irritated that a black man with a track record of fighting for civil rights is daring to criticise their aims and agenda. They claim that he has taken CORE from its civil rights roots to `the far right'. One commentator has awarded CORE the `Uncle Tom award', and the organisation has been accused of accepting `Black Gold' (geddit?) from oil companies and from Monsanto, the multinational biotech company developing GM technologies. Innis denies it. `I wish it was true. Where is the money at? I haven't seen it. I wish government and industry were giving more support to our programmes, but it's just not true.' Anyway, what does it matter where he gets his funds from if his arguments are on the money? Too often in these kinds of debates there is a tendency to look endlessly for some hidden pay packet or agenda instead of addressing the arguments being put forward. Forget about CORE's bank balance: what do greens make of CORE's arguments about the impact of environmentalism's low horizons on progress and development in Africa?

`If you criticise these things, you get a rough ride', says Innis. `Environmentalism is seen as the gospel truth, but it's far from that. We should be free to debate these things. For some people, it will be a life-and-death debate.'


Strange Bedfellows: Evangelicals learn to love big government.

When Al Gore's film on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," arrived in theaters on Wednesday, it had the usual endorsements from Hollywood stars, left-leaning politicians and radical professors. But it also had a blurb from a more surprising figure: Richard Cizik, the vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. Mr. Cizik has been hobnobbing with an unlikely crowd lately. One day he is in a Newsweek photo spread, clutching a Bible in front of the nation's Capitol. The next he is posing barefoot in Vanity Fair, looking suspiciously as if he is walking on water. The following week he is chatting up Berkeley professors and joining political powwows with Bono.

With Mr. Cizik's help, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)--representing 52 member denominations and about 30 million evangelicals--has become one of the most talked-about lobbying groups in the nation. But what are evangelicals lobbying for these days?

Take the Evangelical Climate Initiative, endorsed by Mr. Cizik, which has "put global warming on the evangelical agenda," according to the NAE's Washington Insight newsletter. The initiative pushes the government to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. It has been supported by Christian leaders from across the spectrum, including Rick Warren, the author of "The Purpose Driven Life"; Peter Borgdorff, the executive director of the conservative Christian Reformed Church; and Jim Wallis, the editor of the liberal Sojourners magazine.

While alliances like these may raise the eyebrows of a few purists, many evangelical leaders are too busy plotting policy to be bothered--and the environment is just the beginning. "We have a realist strategy," Mr. Cizik told me. "You go to the gays to pass the AIDS bill. You go to the ACLU to pass the prison-rights bill. You work with your erstwhile opponents to achieve the common good."

You also, it turns out, expand your notion of what the "common good" is all about. Just ask Ronald Sider. In its April 2000 issue, Christianity Today named Mr. Sider's "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger" (1977) one of the most influential books of the 20th century. Recently rereleased and touted at pulpits across the country--the Presbyterian Church USA encourages its 11,000 congregations to use it--the book rails against the "ghastly injustice" of the free market.

Such cliches are music to the ears of NAE members. The group recently recruited Mr. Sider to co-chair the committee drafting its latest public-policy statement: "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility." It's an ambitious document, proposing more government regulation of health care, an expansion of welfare benefits, more protections for the environment and various efforts to correct "unfair socioeconomic systems." It also rests on one central assumption: the government can solve all of our problems.

This sweeping agenda stands in stark contrast to earlier evangelical views. During the early part of the 20th century, evangelicals shied away from politics altogether, viewing it as a dirty business. It was only after the social upheaval of the late '60s that they finally emerged on the Beltway radar screen. Then, evangelicals tended to embrace small-government reforms like tax cuts and the Contract With America.

But the past few years have brought a new liberal breed of evangelical. "Why are these people punting to the federal government?" asks Jay Richards, an evangelical and a research fellow at the Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. "You can't be compassionate with other people's money. Even worse, they're not thinking about the consequences of these policies. They're too busy feeling warm and fuzzy and absorbing liberal ideas."

And now, these ideas are trickling out of the Beltway. In bulletins from four different Chicago-area churches, parishioners are being asked to write their senators, not a personal check. Groups representing more than 40 denominations have signed on to the public declaration of the so-called ONE campaign, whose mission is to dedicate 1% of the U.S. budget to foreign aid each year. ONE boasts the support of George Clooney, Naomi Watts and, of course, Bono. It's all very hip, and very vague. "ONE isn't asking for your money," the Web site declares. "We're asking for your voice." Well, actually, ONE is asking for your money, but the checks go to the IRS rather than directly to charity

Are evangelicals concerned that they're putting too much faith in government? "You know," Mr. Cizik told me, "I don't hear that very often. I don't think that's a huge concern among most people. I think they're enthusiastic about the progress we're making." In the past, evangelicals managed to progress without Uncle Sam. And today, there are still thousands of Christian charities around the world that use only private funds. That they are generally more effective than government-run programs seems now to be an inconvenient truth.



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.


Sunday, May 28, 2006


California air regulators have voted to develop a plan to phase out a hazardous dry cleaning solvent. Thursday's move by the state Air Resources Board could make California the first state to ban perchloroethylene, or "perc," the primary chemical used in dry cleaning. The vote came despite protests from the industry and against the recommendation of the board's own staff.

State regulators have previously declared the chemical a toxic air and water contaminant that can cause serious health problems such as cancer. The board directed its staff to study the economic effects of the phase-out to find ways to provide incentives for small businesses to replace their expensive dry cleaning equipment. New cleaning machinery can cost up to $140,000. "They made it very clear they don't want this to happen overnight, but they want to send a strong signal to dry cleaners that they should not be buying any expensive new perc equipment in the next year or two," said board spokesman Jerry Martin.

The California Cleaners Association opposed the decision, citing a 20 year study of dry cleaning employees in four European countries it says showed no increased health risks. "California and the numbers they choose to use have regulators in the rest of the nation shaking their heads," said association spokeswoman Sandra Giarde. In 2002, the South Coast Air Quality Management District became the first regulators in the nation to ban perchloroethylene, forcing more than 2000 Southern California cleaners to give up use of the chemical by 2020.



The Imperial Japanese Navy tried to burn down Oregon. It failed. Sixty years later, radical environmentalists almost succeeded.

The Los Angeles Times' banner headline read "REPORT OREGON BOMBING. Jap Aircraft Carrier Believed Sunk." It was September 15, 1942. A seaplane had been spotted near Mt. Emily, Oregon, nine miles north of Brookings. A forest fire had been started near the mountain. Harold Gardner, a forest service lookout, rushed to the area and quickly extinguished the flames. Then a forest service patrol found a foot-deep crater. Nearby were forty pounds of spongy pellets and metal fragments, some of which were stamped with Japanese ideograms. A metal nosecone was also found. That same day a Japanese submarine was sited in the Pacific thirty miles off the Oregon coast due west of Mt. Emily. An Army patrol plane bombed the sub, but results of the bombing were unknown. Less than a year after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese had set out to strike a blow against the American mainland, but they failed to cause a massive fire in the dry Oregon forest.

Fast forward sixty years to July 13, 2002. An Oregon Department of Forestry pilot spotted a rising column of black smoke near Chetco Peak, not far from where the Japanese bomb had landed. The pilot immediately reported it to the dispatcher at Grants Pass. This fire would be named Biscuit 1. Thirty minutes later a California Department of Forestry pilot, who was directing fire fighting efforts at Six Rivers National Forest, saw a new column of smoke to the north, up in Oregon. He called in the fire to the Fortuna dispatch center. This blaze would be named the Carter Fire. A lightening storm was passing over southwest Oregon. Within thirty minutes the pilot would spot three more fires. Over the next two days, lightening would ignite hundreds more fires in the Siskiyou forest. The fires merged and spread into a vast conflagration that became known as the Biscuit Fire. It burned for the next five and a half months, destroying half a million acres of forest--60 miles north-to-south at its longest, and 35 miles east-to-west--causing $150 million in damage. The fire was not extinguished until New Year's Eve.

The Biscuit Fire was only one of many that season, such as the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in east-central Arizona (467,000 acres), and the Hayman Fire southwest of Denver (135,000 acres, 133 homes destroyed, 5,300 people evacuated). During the summer and fall of 2002, 88,000 wildfires charred seven million acres, an area the size of Massachusetts. More than 800 structures were destroyed. Fire fighting efforts cost $1.7 billion in addition to the lives of twenty-three firefighters.

The calamity prompted the Bush administration and Congress to act about as quickly as Washington ever does. In August, while the fires were still burning, the president proposed his Healthy Forests Initiative, which Congress soon passed as the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. The president signed it into law on December 3, 2003.

Agitation by extremists within the environmental movement had produced decades of misguided attempts at forest management. The new law will make our forests less susceptible to catastrophic fires. But because the remedy involves a concept that is anathema to extreme enviros-- logging-- they oppose it, and are actively working to maintain our forests as tinderboxes.

A hundred years ago, each acre of a ponderosa pine forest contained about 25 mature trees. A horse-drawn wagon could be driven through the forest without the aid of a road. Ponderosa pine is intolerant of shade, and the trees grow aggressively toward the sun, throwing shadows that discourage growth below. Today that same forest might have 1,000 trees per acre. Usually these are Douglas firs, which prosper in shade, and which grow in thick stands, often so dense that a hiker cannot pass between the trunks.

As a result of this fuel load (Forest Service terminology), forest fires today are entirely unlike those of a century ago. They are hotter, faster, and more destructive. Today, 190 million acres of public forests are at an elevated risk of fires, and twenty-four million acres are at the highest risk of catastrophic fire.

What happened to the forests? Why did they degrade? Two main reasons: the suppression of small fires that destroy weak trees and underbrush and that create fire breaks, and a lack of thinning. Which is to say, logging. The failure to cull the forests has left them little more than kindling.

And why haven't the forests been thinned over the years? A vast maze of laws and regulations promoted by environmentalists had made it virtually impossible to enter the forest with a chain saw or a feller buncher. Laws and regulations effecting thinning of the national forests ran to the thousands of pages.

Prior to the 2003 law, preparing environmental documents for even a modest thinning of a patch of national forest took anywhere from six months to ten years. Then a review of plans to sell the removed timber would take another two to four years. Eight hundred requirements had to be reviewed for each forest thinning decision and a proposal to thin a few acres might be eight hundred pages long. This paperwork added up to forty percent of the Forest Service's total workload and cost $250 million each year.

In a June 2002 report, the Forest Service concluded that it "operated within a statutory, regulatory, and administrative framework that has kept the agency from effectively addressing rapid declines in forest health." The Service termed it "excessive analysis."

Even this standard of care wasn't sufficient for the extreme environmentalists. They routinely appealed any decision to thin national forests. A glimpse of the enviros at work: between January 2001 and July 2002 they appealed every single decision to thin by logging in northern Idaho and Montana. For example, the Forest Service determined that the Payette National Forest, near Hell's Canyon in Idaho, needed to be culled. Seven law suites were filed against the plan. Only one in ten of the Forest Service's decisions to thin a forest is reversed by a court on appeal.

The delays imposed by these environmentalists can be costly, and not just in Forest Service paperwork. Mark Flatten and Dan Nowicki of Mesa's East Valley Tribune give an example. In 1999, the Forest Service approved a plan to thin 7,000 acres in the Baca Ecosystem Management Area in Arizona. The Center for Biological Diversity filed a law suit in May 2000 alleging that the Forest Service didn't adequately analyze the effects of its plan on the pygmy nuthatch, among other claims. A court agreed with the environmentalists. Thinning was allowed on only 306 acres, and only trees with less than six-inch trunk diameters could be removed. In 2002 a fire swept through the Baca project area, destroying 90 percent of it.

Not too long ago, the typical environmental lawsuit raised three or four issues. Today, they may bring up twenty or more. Five thousand actions are pending against the Forest Service. Flatten and Nowicki quoted Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who blamed "radical environmental groups" for creating a paralysis in the Forest Service's decision-making. "They [the Forest Service] end up doing so much paperwork that is redundant and unnecessary that they don't want to even put these things out because it just takes too much of their time and effort and all they do is get sued."

How does the new law work? The amount of required paperwork is reduced, but its most powerful provisions streamline the decision process. The law specifically directs courts "to expedite, to the maximum extent practicable, the proceedings. . . ." Suits can only be brought in the district court where the land is located, which prevents judge shopping. Preliminary injunctions are limited to 60 days and the court must now take into consideration the effects of doing nothing, and must specifically consider the risk of future fires. The law also puts a strict timeline to the appeals process. New regulations allow the Forest Service to take immediate action when public lands are at substantial risk of fire due to drought or fuel buildup.

Faced with a law that has made the courts less useful, the enviros have squealed like hogs caught in a gate. The Heritage Forests Campaign decried the law as "exploiting the fear of wildfires in order to . . . boost commercial logging." Matthew Koehler of the Native Forest Network said the Bush administration and some in Congress were "cynically using the wildfires in their never-ending quest to cut more trees . . ." The Alabama Environmental Council accused President Bush of trying to "'greenwash' his logging agenda." Wilderness Society president William H. Meadows called it "cynical politicking," and said the forest "is too valuable to be handed over to the logging industry." Gazing steadily into Alice's looking glass, the Sierra Club argued that logging can increase the risk of fires.

Does thinning work? In early May 2004, 35 acres of the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge were given a "fuels treatment," as the Department of Interior calls thinning the stands of trees and removing dry brush. On May 11--a week later--lightening started a fire which the wind drove toward Ortonville, Minnesota. But the thinned forest provided the fire fighters with staging areas and fire breaks, and allowed them to quickly suppress the fire. Only 350 acres were burned.

Even reliable friends are deserting the extreme environmentalists on this issue. The liberal San Francisco Chronicle said that "leaving forests alone equates to watching them burn," and lamented that the enviros "still cling to no-action ideologies."

But facts don't mean much to ideologues. In Montana, the first major plan under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act is to remove the fuel load from the Middle East Fork drainage area in the Bitterroot National Forest. The Missoulian reports that the plan calls for logging 6,400 acres out of the area's 26,000 acres. In April, the Missoulian cautioned, "Some people view commercial logging the way others might regard loan-sharking in a cathedral." Sure enough, earlier this month, Friends of the Bitterroot, the Ecology Center, and the Native Forest Network filed a suit against the Forest Service seeking an injunction.


Free markets, forests and ownership

A great deal of nonsense has been spouted about the economics of logging and of woodchips in particular. I take the stance that only the market can determine the true value of our resources, including forests, and the uses to which they should be put. Despite the dishonesty and emotional silliness of the greens and their allies in both major parties it must be remembered that trees, like cattle, only have value to the extent that they serve human needs.

Unlike cattle, however, trees can serve to a considerable degree as consumption goods, that is, people can directly derive pleasure from them. Alternatively, trees also serve as capital goods; they are cultivated, harvested and then converted through various complex stages of production into higher value goods such as furniture, housing, paper, etc.

The question is to which use should trees be put? The market solves this problem for forestry as neatly as it solves for the wheat farming, mining or manufacturing. In the market place trees are valued, as are all other economic goods, by the subjective evaluations of consumers. Let us say that because of a forest's location the owner only faces three choices

1. He can withdraw the forest from the market and keep it as it is for his own personal pleasure.
2. He can charge people to camp in it.
3. He can cultivate and harvest the trees.

Which one will it be? The first choice is one of pure consumption and there is absolutely nothing irrational about it. However, we shall assume he eschews 1 in favour of an income. Having done his calculations, he decides (horror of horrors) on logging. What is to stop him from logging every tree? The same thing that stops the cattle farmer from slaughtering all his cattle - and that is the loss of future income. The trees are now his capital and his future income depends on maintaining his capital stock, i.e., trees.

He does not need politicians, bureaucrats or Green activists to direct his actions to conserving his capital any more than does the wheat farmer, rancher or manufacturer. The value of the forest will be the discounted sum of its anticipated income. Therefore it is in the interest of the owner to maximise the present value of his forest by not exploiting its resources beyond the point where its capital value will be reduced. (Strictly speaking, it is the internal rate of return that is maximised). Whether the trees are chipped, used as weatherboard or transformed into furniture is totally irrelevant. What is relevant is that they are turned into higher valued goods to serve the needs of consumers.

It can be said that this is all well and good in theory but what about externalities? What if logging damages local agriculture by reducing water yields? Again, there is no real problem. It must be remembered that part of the local farmers' water supply is being produced by the forest owner's capital. Until he employs that capital, the farmers are really receiving a gift from him. It is only because of his trees that they get the present water yield. The farmers can calculate the estimated value of the output they will lose when the forest owner utilises his capital and then make him an offer.

The point is that the value of the farmers' lost output should at least be equal to the value of the forest owner's income from the trees. To prevent him from harvesting his trees (i.e., force him to withhold his capital from the market) in order to save the farmers' output is, in effect, forcing him to subsidise their activities thereby distorting production by misdirecting resources to the farmers thus lowering consumer welfare.

So long as all parties have property rights and are free to negotiate there is no real problem. The essence of the argument is that private ownership of forests is far more beneficial for the public interest than state control, meaning control by politicians, bureaucrats and pressure groups. Politicians tend to serve their own interests; to them, profit maximisation only equals the maximisation of votes. And the forest industry now knows what that means. In truth, if those who favour state ownership of our forests were consistent they would also apply the same logic to demanding state ownership of agriculture.

As for the greens, if they do not want to see trees used as capital goods then the solution is simple: they can compete with consumers for the trees by offering to buy the forest. But being socialists by temperament as well as conviction, they much prefer to pick the public's pocket rather than dip into their own. Whenever greens succeed in having forest production curtailed, the pockets of the general public become that much smaller and the tax burden that much bigger.


Gore Uses Religion to Attract Convert 'Global Warming' Converts

Former Vice President Al Gore used religious references Thursday night in New York City in an attempt to convince a "town hall" meeting that human-caused catastrophic climate change is real. Gore's "Town Hall on the Climate Crisis," held at a New York theater, was timed to coincide with the release of his "global warming" disaster film, "An Inconvenient Truth," distributed by a division of Paramount Pictures. Gore compared global warming skeptics to conspiracy theorists who believe the U.S. faked the moon landing in 1969. He also announced that he supports a "petroleum tax," and he suggested a boycott of the oil giant Exxon-Mobil for its allegedly poor environmental record.

Another panelist appearing with Gore compared the effort to combat "global warming" to the 19th century movement to end slavery in the U.S. "Every faith tradition has teachings that are directly on point [to climate change]," Gore told the packed audience, which included former first daughter Chelsea Clinton. "The Book of Revelations [says] God will destroy those who destroy his creation," Gore said, noting that some evangelical Christian leaders have expressed concern about climate change. "Whatever works," Gore added, prompting applause and laughter.

Gore departed the event, sponsored by Wired Magazine, with his wife Tipper in a chauffeur-driven black Lincoln Town Car provided by a New York City limousine service. Gore noted that the Bible promotes good stewardship of the Earth. "Noah was commanded to preserve biodiversity," he said.

Lawrence Bender, the director of Gore's documentary, echoed the religious undertones when he described the conversion of his home to solar energy. "I have become evangelical basically," Bender said during the two-hour panel discussion. Joining Gore and Bender were NASA scientist James Hansen, celebrity activist Laurie David and former Dateline NBC correspondent John Hockenberry, who is currently a contributing editor to Wired Magazine. The panel discussion did not include any scientists who are skeptical about human-caused global warming.

An impassioned Gore employed apocalyptic language in urging the crowd to believe that Earth's climate is in crisis because of human activity. "If you believe what [NASA scientist] Jim Hansen said just a moment ago -- if you believe, if you accept the reality that we may have less than 10 years before we cross a point of no return -- if you believe that, this is a time for action," Gore said. He suggested that the current inhabitants of the Earth are facing a "collision between our civilization and the planet." "People [who] are alive today have been placed at a point in history that puts on us the burden of action that is almost unimaginable in the context of human history," Gore said. "We are the most powerful force of nature now. We are literally changing the relationship between the Earth and the Sun," he said. "It has the capacity to bring civilization itself to a dead halt."

Hockenberry compared the righteousness of combating "global warming" to the movement to abolish African American slavery in the 19th century. "We are here at a similar moment. We are witnesses to the emergence of an issue that could not be more urgent," Hockenberry insisted.

'Giant wake-up call'

Other panelists also used dire rhetoric to convince the audience that action must be taken to stave off what they believe is climate doom caused by the buildup of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. "I am hoping that [Gore's] movie will be a giant wake-up call for this country," Laurie David told Cybercast News Service before the event began. David, the wife of comedian/director/producer Larry David, served as the producer for "An Inconvenient Truth." "It's embarrassing that [the U.S. is] not leading on this issue," David said. "I don't even consider this an environment issue anymore. I really consider this a national security issue -- a public health issue," she added.

Despite the urgent call to action, Gore conceded that little can be done to combat what he termed a "planetary emergency." He said politics falls short of "the minimum necessary to really address this crisis." Gore dismissed the scientists who are skeptical of catastrophic human-caused climate change, comparing them to industry-funded tobacco scientists who denied a link between smoking and cancer. "There is no longer any debate. The consensus is as strong as it ever gets in science," Gore said. "[There is] still a percentage of people who think that the moon landing was staged," he added.

Gore also accused the oil and gas industry of attempting to mislead the public on the urgency of climate change. "Some of the executives of Exxon-Mobil will soon look back and feel ashamed of what they're doing by confusing the debate," he said. "I don't know why it's considered no longer acceptable to have a boycott of companies like Exxon-Mobil," he added to applause. Gore also said he supported a "petroleum tax" as long as it was "revenue neutral" and did not place an undue burden on poor Americans.

Legal liability?

Hansen, director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, agreed with Gore's characterization of climate science and wondered what culpability the U.S. will face from the consequences of "global warming." "When nations must abandon their lands because of rising seas, what will our legal liability be?" Hansen asked.

Gore praised Hansen as an objective scientist, ignoring his partisan Democratic Party ties. As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Hansen publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Hansen also has acted as a consultant to Gore's slide-show presentations on "global warming," on which the movie is based.

Hansen, who alleged in January that the Bush administration has been suppressing science for political purposes, previously acknowledged that he once emphasized "extreme scenarios" on climate change to drive the public's attention to the issue. In the March 2004 issue of Scientific American, Hansen wrote, "Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate-forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions."

Hansen defended the $250,000 grant from the foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry, during an interview with Cybercast News Service following Thursday's panel discussion. "That was an environmental award," Hansen said. "I can't imagine anyone would turn down an environmental award. You don't check the politics of who provides the awards. I frankly don't understand the question," he added. Hansen bristled when Cybercast News Service asked him about his "extreme scenarios" quote. "It's pure horsesh**. That statement was taken out of context. I did not say that I had ever used extreme scenarios," Hansen insisted before ending the interview.



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.


Saturday, May 27, 2006


Al Gore's new global warming movie is apparently causing some to think that a major turning point in the debate is at hand. The ranks of the so-called global warming "skeptics" were supposedly thinned this week when prominent environmental commentator Gregg Easterbrook announced his defection in a May 24 New York Times op-ed. "As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert," wrote Easterbrook, a senior editor with The New Republic and a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Easterbrook a "skeptic"? With "a long record of opposing alarmism"? Are there two Gregg Easterbrooks? Though Easterbrook is far from a household name, readers of environmental commentary are certainly familiar with his reputation as a left-of-center eco-contrarian - an image secured by his 1995 book entitled, "A Moment on Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism." Publicly reviled by environmentalists and hailed by their opponents, Easterbrook's book examined human impact on the environment and concluded that the environment was getting better, not worse. But 1995 is so over and now in 2006, Easterbrook concluded in the Times that "[Global warming] research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger."

So what changed Easterbrook's mind? Ironically, it was a report from the Bush administration released earlier this month. Before we get to that, consider what developments Easterbrook says in his op-ed didn't persuade him. Easterbrook writes that, in 2003, the American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Service "both declared that signs of global warming had become compelling" and "In 2004, the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that there was no longer any `substantive disagreement in the scientific community' that artificial global warming is happening." He also notes that in 2005 the national science academies of the U.S., U.K., China, Germany and Japan issued a joint statement announcing that "significant global warming is occurring."

But it wasn't "case closed," according to Easterbrook's op-ed, until the Bush administration's Climate Change Science Program announced this month that research supports "a substantial human impact on global temperature." It's difficult to take this alleged conversion seriously. Since at least 1998, Easterbrook has consistently regurgitated global warming alarmism. In a 1998 New Republic article, Easterbrook wrote that "the scientific consensus on global warming has strengthened," that projected warming could be "quite nasty" and that "coming temperature increases appear cast in stone."

In 2000, Easterbrook criticized CBS for "trivializing the greenhouse effect" by broadcasting the 1993 miniseries "The Fire Next Time," which depicted the U.S. as destroyed by global warming in the year 2007. Later in 2000, Easterbrook wrote, "The signs of global warming keep accumulating. realistic steps against global warming could start right away. A warming world need no longer be our destiny." In 2003, Easterbrook criticized Democrats for being too critical of President Bush and discouraging him from "proposing. meaningful global warming rules." In 2004, Easterbrook wrote that, "There are troubling problems with Bush administration attitudes toward science, especially greenhouse gases." In 2005, Easterbrook wrote that "restraining greenhouse gases" was "our next great environmental project."

Contrary to assertions in his Times op-ed, Easterbrook's writings indicate that he became a global warming convert long ago - not just this month. So what's up with the melodramatic announcement of his "conversion"? Easterbrook may be thinking that Al Gore's movie and attendant hoopla will finally cause sufficient public panic to catapult the global warming alarmists to rhetorical victory. If so, Easterbrook may want to atone to the environmental activist community that he previously alienated by "A Moment on Earth" and any other eco-contrarian "moments" he has had over the last decade. Easterbrook will no doubt be welcomed and forgiven for any past sins by the environmentalists since, as a prominent eco-contrarian writer, his supposed "conversion" from skeptic to convert purports to signal the public that a major turning point in the global warming debate has been reached.

I suppose a major turning point has been reached - Al Gore and the alarmists have seemingly gone over the edge in thinking that a movie rather than scientific debate is the way to resolve the global warming controversy. There certainly has been no change in the science - there is still no persuasive evidence that humans are adversely affecting global climate or that humans can manipulate global climate by regulating greenhouse gas emission. Moreover, it's quote ironic that the tipping point for Easterbrook was a statement about global warming from the Bush administration whose viewpoint apparently is not credible until it coincides with his own. It's quite laughable that Easterbrook and the New York Times fancy his imaginary status as a new convert of any importance to the global warming debate. It's the science that's important, not a journalist's self-aggrandizement for political and possible career-advancing purposes. And if there are two Gregg Easterbrooks, will the real skeptic please stand up?



By Dr. Roy Spencer

Dear Mr. Gore:

I have just seen your new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," about the threat that global warming presents to humanity. I think you did a very good job of explaining global warming theory, and your presentation was effective. Please convey my compliments to your good friend, Laurie David, for a job well done. As a climate scientist myself -- you might remember me...I'm the one you mistook for your "good friend," UK scientist Phil Jones during my congressional testimony some years back -- I have a few questions that occurred to me while watching the movie.

1) Why did you make it look like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and ice calving off of glaciers and falling into the ocean, are only recent phenomena associated with global warming? You surely know that hurricane experts have been warning congress for many years that the natural cycle in hurricanes would return some day, and that our built-up coastlines were ripe for a disaster (like Katrina, which you highlighted in the movie). And as long as snow continues to fall on glaciers, they will continue to flow downhill toward the sea. Yet you made it look like these things wouldn't happen if it weren't for global warming. Also, since there are virtually no measures of severe weather showing a recent increase, I assume those graphs you showed actually represented damage increases, which are well known to be simply due to greater population and wealth. Is that right?

2) Why did you make it sound like all scientists agree that climate change is manmade and not natural? You mentioned a recent literature review study that supposedly found no peer-reviewed articles that attributed climate change to natural causes (a non-repeatable study which has since been refuted....I have a number of such articles in my office!) You also mentioned how important it is to listen to scientists when they warn us, yet surely you know that almost all past scientific predictions of gloom and doom have been wrong. How can we trust scientists' predictions now?

3) I know you still must feel bad about the last presidential election being stolen from you, but why did you have to make fun of Republican presidents (Reagan; both Bushes) for their views on global warming? The points you made in the movie might have had wider appeal if you did not alienate so many moviegoers in this manner.

4) Your presentation showing the past 650,000 years of atmospheric temperature and carbon dioxide reconstructions from ice cores was very effective. But I assume you know that some scientists view the CO2 increases as the result of, rather than the cause of, past temperature increases. It seems unlikely that CO2 variations have been the dominant cause of climate change for hundreds of thousands of years. And now that there is a new source of carbon dioxide emissions (people), those old relationships are probably not valid anymore. Why did you give no hint of these alternative views?

5) When you recounted your 6-year-old son's tragic accident that nearly killed him, I thought that you were going to make the point that, if you had lived in a poor country like China or India, your son would have probably died. But then you later held up these countries as model examples for their low greenhouse gas emissions, without mentioning that the only reason their emissions were so low was because people in those countries are so poor. I'm you really want us to live like the poor people in India and China?

6) There seems to be a lot of recent concern that more polar bears are drowning these days because of disappearing sea ice. I assume you know that polar bears have always migrated to land in late summer when sea ice naturally melts back, and then return to the ice when it re-freezes. Also, if this was really happening, why did the movie have to use a computer generated animation of the poor polar bear swimming around looking for ice? Haven't there been any actual observations of this happening? Also, temperature measurements in the arctic suggest that it was just as warm there in the 1930's...before most greenhouse gas emissions. Don't you ever wonder whether sea ice concentrations back then were low, too?

7) Why did you make it sound like simply signing on to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions would be such a big step forward, when we already know it will have no measurable effect on global temperatures anyway? And even though it represents such a small emission reduction, the economic pain Kyoto causes means that almost no developed country will be meeting its emission reductions commitments under that treaty, as we are now witnessing in Europe.

8) At the end of the movie, you made it sound like we can mostly fix the global warming problem by conserving energy... you even claimed we can reduce our carbon emissions to zero. But I'm sure you know that this will only be possible with major technological advancements, including a probable return to nuclear power as an energy source. Why did you not mention this need for technological advancement and nuclear power? It is because that would support the current (Republican) Administration's view?

Mr. Gore, I think we can both agree that if it was relatively easy for mankind to stop emitting so much carbon dioxide, that we should do so. You are a very smart person, so I can't understand why you left so many important points unmentioned, and you made it sound so easy. I wish you well in these efforts, and I hope that humanity will make the right choices based upon all of the information we have on the subject of global warming. I agree with you that global warming is indeed a "moral issue," and if we are to avoid doing more harm than good with misguided governmental policies, we will need more politicians to be educated on the issue.

TCS Daily, 25 May 2006

Australian report: Nuclear power 'viable, economical'

Nuclear power makes economic sense for Australia and is viable even without government support. Science Minister Julie Bishop said a report commissioned by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation showed that a nuclear power station would be competitive with a newly built coal-fired station. "It found there are significant health risks associated with coal energy production but minimal risks with nuclear power," Ms Bishop said. The report suggested two ways that construction of a nuclear power plant could be funded, which were similar to models in operation in the US. "Overall, the report is positive about the economic basis for establishing a nuclear power industry in Australia."

It is understood the report, due to be handed to the Government today, considers public and private funding models and finds that when environmental costs are taken into account, the economics of nuclear power make more sense. It has also emerged that had plans for a nuclear power station at Jervis Bay in NSW been acted on in the 1970s, it would today be producing the world's cheapest electricity.

"It's time we did get down to a really detailed examination of what are nuclear power's prospects in Australia," said Keith Alder, the last general manager of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Mr Alder said he hoped the renewed nuclear debate would focus on Australia developing a uranium enrichment industry. "Whether we want to remain a quarry for the rest of the world or whether we establish a full industry in Australia and (export) the processed product: enrichment should take priority at this stage over whether or not we now look into nuclear power," he said. It was "crazy" that Australia held 40 per cent of the world's uranium "but we don't have any industry that processes it". And with fast-growing nations such as China and India going for nuclear power, it was time for Australia to act. "In 50 years it's going to be a bigger industry than coal," Mr Alder said. "We should be thinking about our role."

Attempts to develop an enrichment industry had got as far as negotiating a deal with an international consortium but were killed by the election of the Hawke government in 1983. "I think it's one of the greatest tragedies in Australian industrial history," he said. "It could have been the start of an enormous enterprise, very profitable in jobs and money."


The High Price of Land-Use Planning

Most people know that the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. However, not everyone realizes that, as recently as 1970, Bay Area housing was as affordable as housing in many other parts of the country. Data from the 1970 census shows that a median-income Bay Area family could dedicate a quarter of their income to housing and pay off their mortgage on a median-priced home in just 13 years. By 1980, a family had to spend 40 percent of their income to pay off a home mortgage in 30 years; today, it requires 50 percent.

What happened in the 1970s to make Bay Area housing so unaffordable? In a nutshell: land-use planning. During the 1970s, Bay Area cities and counties imposed a variety of land-use restrictions intended to make the region more livable. These restrictions included urban-growth boundaries, purchases of regional parks and open spaces and various limits on building permits. These regulations created artificial land shortages that drove housing prices to extreme levels. Today, residents of Houston, Texas, can buy a brand-new four-bedroom, two-and-one-half bath home on a quarter-acre lot for less than $160,000. That same house would cost you more than five times as much in Marin or Contra Costa counties, seven times as much in Alameda County, and eight to nine times as much in Santa Clara, San Mateo, or San Francisco counties.

In fact, planning-induced housing shortages added $30 billion to the cost of homes that Bay Area homebuyers purchased in 2005. This dwarfs any benefits from land-use restrictions; after all, how livable is a place if you can't afford to live there? The benefits of protecting open space are particularly questionable. The 2000 census found that nearly 95 percent of Californians live in cities and towns that occupy just 5 percent of its land. Many San Francisco Bay Area counties have permanently protected more acres as open space than they have made available for urban development. When such actions make it impossible for middle-class families, much less low-income families, to afford their own homes, they represent a sad distortion of social priorities.

Moreover, as in the 1980s, California's fast-rising home prices have attracted speculators who have created huge bubbles in the state's housing markets. Bay Area prices fell by 10 percent in the early 1980s, 20 percent in the early 1990s, and are likely to fall even more as the bubble deflates in the next few years.

The impacts of high housing prices are also reverberating throughout the region's economy. First, economic growth has slowed as businesses look elsewhere to locate offices and factories. High housing costs have also increased prices for food and other consumer goods; retailers now pay $1 million per acre or more for store locations. Far from reducing driving as planners desire, high housing prices force many commuters to live farther away from their jobs, forcing more cars onto the roads. Ironically, an obsessive focus on protecting Bay Area "farmlands" (in fact, mostly marginal pasturelands) forces people to move inland and more rapidly develop the highly productive croplands in California's not-yet-so-unaffordable Central Valley.

The people most enthused about all these planning rules like to call themselves ''progressive.'' But the effects of planning on home prices are entirely regressive. Planning-induced housing shortages place enormous burdens on low-income families but create windfall profits for wealthy homeowners. Does this steal-from-the-poor, give-to-the-rich policy reflect the Bay Area's true attitudes?

Homeownership is more than just a dream, it is a vital part of America's economic mobility. Most small businesses get their original financing from a loan secured by the business owner's home. Children in low-income families who own their own homes do better on educational tests than those who live in rental housing. Barriers to home ownership reduce this mobility and help keep low-income people poor.

Predictably, planners' solutions to the housing affordability problem often make the problem worse. Planners typically require that homebuilders sell or rent 15 percent of their homes at below-market rates to low-income families. The homebuilders simply pass that cost on to the buyers of the other 85 percent of the homes they sell. Existing homeowners, seeing that new homes suddenly cost more, raise the price of their homes when they sell. The result: A few people benefit and everyone else pays more.

The solution to the Bay Area's housing affordability crisis is not a few units of affordable housing, but widespread land-use deregulation that will make housing more affordable for everyone.



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.