Wednesday, May 02, 2007


An email from Oliver Manuel []

Readers who want to understand the forces that impact Earth may enjoy reading Stuart Clark's non-fictional account of a solar eruption in September of 1859:

"In September of 1859, the entire Earth was engulfed in a gigantic cloud of seething gas, and a blood-red aurora erupted across the planet from the poles to the tropics. Around the world, telegraph systems crashed, machines burst into flames, and electric shocks rendered operators unconscious. Compasses and other sensitive instruments reeled as if struck by a massive magnetic fist. For the first time, people began to suspect that the Earth was not isolated from the rest of the universe."

Imagine the impact of such an event on our electronically connected society today.


European union green fuel targets will accelerate the destruction of rainforests in South-East Asia and threaten the habitat of endangered species, such as the orang-utan

In March EU leaders agreed to set a binding climate change target to make biofuel - energy sources made from plant material - account for 10 per cent of all Europe's transport fuels by 2020. But the European Commission has admitted that the objective, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions, may have the unintended consequence of speeding up the destruction of tropical rainforests and peatlands in South-East Asia - actually increasing, not reducing, global warming.

European consumption of plant-based fuels will soar from around three million tons at present to more than 30 million tons in 2010, driving a boom in imports of cheap biofuels. Europe is still years away from self-sufficiency in biofuels produced from straw and other waste vegetation. As a result, demand for cheap imports of fuels, such as palm oil, is expected to soar.

Countries such as Indonesia have already begun planning an increase in the production of palm oil, a development campaigners fear will see more rainforest fall to the axe and rare peat soil burned. Andris Piebalgs, the European Energy Commissioner, has confirmed that, despite setting the biofuel target, the EU has no system to certify that imports exclude palm oil or fuel production that has resulted in the destruction of rare natural resources. ''No mandatory certification exists at present that will guarantee that tropical rainforests or peatlands in South-East Asia are not destroyed for the production of palm oil," he said.

In a written response to a European Parliament question, Mr Piebalgs went on to confess that without a scheme EU targets "would supplement the pressure caused by growth in palm oil use and would make an additional contribution to the pressure on tropical forests and peatlands".

Commission declarations that it plans to develop a "sustainability" scheme, similar to one applying to the logging of tropical woods, have been greeted with scepticism. Chris Davies, a British Liberal Democrat Euro-MP, doubts that any EU measures can be properly policed. ''We haven't been able to halt the supply from rainforests of illegally felled timber so how can we have confidence that sustainability certificates would be worth the paper on which they are written?," he asked.

Environmentalists have called on the commission to ensure that biofuel policy does not wreak eco-destruction before setting targets. ''The biofuel policy of the European Commission is a complete mess," said a Friends of the Earth UK spokesman. He added: "We think these targets are not only not useful but are destructive. ''Abandoning them is the only responsible thing to do."

Efforts to agree international eco-standards for biofuel will be on the agenda of an EU-US summit in Washington next Monday. Many developing countries are opposed, on free trade grounds, to green import restrictions on commodities such as palm oil and America disputes that a problem even exists, making agreement unlikely.



Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on "carbon credit" projects that yield few if any environmental benefits. A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place. Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.

The growing political salience of environmental politics has sparked a "green gold rush", which has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of businesses offering both companies and individuals the chance to go "carbon neutral", offsetting their own energy use by buying carbon credits that cancel out their contribution to global warming. The burgeoning regulated market for carbon credits is expected to more than double in size to about $68.2bn by 2010, with the unregulated voluntary sector rising to $4bn in the same period.

The FT investigation found:

* Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.

* Industrial companies profiting from doing very little - or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.

* Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.

* A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.

* Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.

Francis Sullivan, environment adviser at HSBC, the UK's biggest bank that went carbon-neutral in 2005, said he found "serious credibility concerns" in the offsetting market after evaluating it for several months. "The police, the fraud squad and trading standards need to be looking into this. Otherwise people will lose faith in it," he said. These concerns led the bank to ignore the market and fund its own carbon reduction projects directly.

Some companies are benefiting by asking "green" consumers to pay them for cleaning up their own pollution. For instance, DuPont, the chemicals company, invites consumers to pay $4 to eliminate a tonne of carbon dioxide from its plant in Kentucky that produces a potent greenhouse gas called HFC-23. But the equipment required to reduce such gases is relatively cheap. DuPont refused to comment and declined to specify its earnings from the project, saying it was at too early a stage to discuss.

The FT has also found examples of companies setting up as carbon offsetters without appearing to have a clear idea of how the markets operate. In response to FT inquiries about its sourcing of carbon credits, one company,, said it had not taken payments for offsets. Blue Source, a US offsetting company, invites consumers to offset carbon emissions by investing in enhanced oil recovery, which pumps carbon dioxide into depleted oil wells to bring up the remaining oil. However, Blue Source said that because of the high price of oil, this process was often profitable in itself, meaning operators were making extra revenues from selling "carbon credits" for burying the carbon.

There is nothing illegal in these practices. However, some companies that are offsetting their emissions have avoided such projects because customers may find them controversial. BP said it would not buy credits resulting from improvements in industrial efficiency or from most renewable energy projects in developed countries.



On Monday, regional Spanish media in Galicia reported yet another story revealing the wonders of carbon cap-and-trade, such that Spain is rapidly pulling ahead as the ideal case study for what awaits us for our moral leaders bent on applying the ETS or its ilk to the US economy.

This latest comes on top of a) plants being closed in Valencia and Zaragoza for lack of a Kyoto permit and b) Acerinox's CEO announcing his (steel manufacturing) investment would all go outside Europe now (the US - so far, 175 jobs in Carroll County, KY - and South Africa)..

Ceramics are an industry that Spain seeks to protect from Brussels like Germany (ideally) would its chemicals - they tried, e.g., in the REACH debate - and they require a bit of energy to make their products. Now, in Galicia, a manufacturer announced that last year it earned more from selling credits than ceramics (reminding me of an email I once got in which a French pharma company announced that selling credits was where its future lies, not pharmaceuticals).

Their statement was couched in terms of thanking the government for generously (that is, "over-") allocating ETS credits to them (for free, as industry lobbyists already demand of Congress), and noted that with the credit price having skyrocketed (before collapsing) they were able to reap a windfall by selling what the government had given them. They lamented that the price collapse, however, indicated this wasn't, er, sustainable.

Buried in this however was the phrase that, taking that price spike into account, they had decided to "equalibriate" their operations so as to maximize profits with an ideal mix of selling allocations and using them by, well, using electricity to make stuff...which is to say they also went into the business of making nothing, dedicating more of their operations to the task, which is far less labor intensive. That is, they found it more profitable to partially shut down, to idle workers. In the name of the environment, mind you.


Global warming on Mars again

Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake

Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period. Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.

The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds. In a paper published in the journal Nature, she suggests that such winds can stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet's temperature.

Fenton's team unearthed heat maps of the Martian surface from Nasa's Viking mission in the 1970s and compared them with maps gathered more than two decades later by Mars Global Surveyor. They found there had been widespread changes, with some areas becoming darker. When a surface darkens it absorbs more heat, eventually radiating that heat back to warm the thin Martian atmosphere: lighter surfaces have the opposite effect. The temperature differences between the two are thought to be stirring up more winds, and dust, creating a cycle that is warming the planet.



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

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

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


No comments: