Saturday, June 30, 2007


(From Environmental Science & Policy)

A decision inventory approach for improving decision support for climate change impact assessment and adaptation

By Christopher R. Pyke et al.


Assessing and adapting to the impacts of climate change requires balancing social, economic, and environmental factors in the context of an ever-expanding range of objectives, uncertainties, and management options. The term decision support describes a diverse class of resources designed to help manage this complexity and assist decision makers in understanding impacts and evaluating management options. Most climate-related decision support resources implicitly assume that decision making is primarily limited by the quantity and quality of available information. However, a wide variety of evidence suggests that institutional, political, and communication processes are also integral to organizational decision making. Decision support resources designed to address these processes are underrepresented in existing tools. These persistent biases in the design and delivery of decision support may undermine efforts to move decision support from research to practice. The development of new approaches to decision support that consider a wider range of relevant issues is limited by the lack of information about the characteristics, context, and alternatives associated with climate-related decisions. We propose a new approach called a decision assessment and decision inventory that will provide systematic information describing the relevant attributes of climate-related decisions. This information can be used to improve the design of decision support resources, as well as to prioritize research and development investments. Application of this approach will help provide more effective decision support based on a balanced foundation of analytical tools, environmental data, and relevant information about decisions and decision makers.


Decision support provides a link between decision making, scientific information, and analytical tools. The annual number of publications describing the development or application of decision support systems has grown steadily over the last three decades (Fig. 1) with applications spreading across a broad range of disciplines (Fig. 2). Moreover, these trends underestimates the actual extent of the practice, because it tracks only the use of the term "decision support" and misses important related activities such as soil or agricultural extension services.....


The provision of effective decision support for climate impact assessment and adaptation is a challenging goal. Current approaches are dominated by systems designed to improve the quantity or quality of information available to decision makers. However, theory and practical experience suggest that decision support systems are more likely to lead to desired outcomes when they balance the provision of information with concern for organizational and political processes. These considerations reflect an underdeveloped dimension to existing decision support tools. A more balanced approach will require new data on the characteristics and context surrounding decisions and decision makers. This new information can be used to improve the delivery of decision support, as well as help identify sensitive decisions and valuable adaptive opportunities. Progress in these areas will represent an important contribution toward the long term goal of encouraging the effective use of decision support for adaptation to climate change.


If you have an interest in global warming and its effect on mountain glaciers, you will be thrilled to know that there are over one million websites on the subject. Even before you get to the first site, you already know what you will find. Burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the Earth is warming, mountain glaciers are in full retreat all over the planet, delicate ecosystems are in peril, and humans who rely on the freshwater from mountain glaciers better get creative fast.

Recall that in the Gore film, a great deal of attention was paid to the diminishing "snows of Kilimanjaro" - Gore has made hay in Glacier National Park as well pointing to shrinking glaciers. Retreating mountain glaciers have become a poster-child of the global warming alarmists - no presentation on the subject is complete without one. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says in their recent 2007 Summary for Policymakers "Mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined on average in both hemispheres. Widespread decreases in glaciers and ice caps have contributed to sea level rise."

Someone in Europe missed the memo on this subject as a recent article has appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research entitled "Very high-elevation Mont Blanc glaciated areas not affected by the 20th century climate change." To say the least, we at World Climate Report were interested in what the authors had to say.

The research was conducted by six scientists from leading agencies and departments in France and Switzerland that deal with hydrology and glaciology. Before you see the title of the article and immediately suspect some conspiracy funded by European coal companies, be aware that the research was funded by Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de Grenoble (OSUG), the European Programs ALPCLIM and CARBOSOL, and by the city of Chamonix Mont-Blanc. Given the title of the article, we wonder if the six scientists will ever be funded again by any European agencies.

Mont Blanc is located on the border of Switzerland and France, and the summit of Mont Blanc is clearly visible from the United Nations complex in Geneva - the home of countless meetings of the IPCC and other international agencies addressing the climate change issue. How ironic - based on the title of the article, we doubt the research will be prominently featured in any upcoming IPCC meeting in Geneva.

The Vincent et al. team collected a variety of datasets that could help them understand how the high elevation glaciers of Mont Blanc were impacted by variations and trends in climate. Among other findings, they found that the mass balance of the glaciers is strongly controlled by precipitation, not temperature. The team used accurate survey maps from 1905 to compare to maps they generated with modern GPS measurements, and by subtracting the two surfaces, they could determine changes in the ice fields during the 20th century. Vincent et al. state "The most striking features of these figures are the small thickness changes observed over the 20th century. For both areas, thickness variations do not exceed ~15 m. The average changes are +2.6 m at Dome du Gouter and -0.3 m at Mont Blanc. Considering the uncertainty interval, i.e., ~5 m, it can be concluded that no significant thickness change is detectable over most of these areas".

Putting all their findings together regarding the surface mass balance (SMB) of these two glaciers, they state "All these results suggest that the SMB at Dome du Gouter and Mont Blanc did not experience any significant changes over the 20th century."

The first sentence of their conclusions section states "Geodetic measurements carried out in 1905 and 2005 on the highest ice fields of the Mont Blanc range indicate small thickness changes and show that these very high-elevation glaciated areas have not been significantly affected by climate change over the last 100 years."

Later in the conclusions section, they write "In any case, this study reveals that the very high-elevation ice fields in the Mont Blanc area have not been affected by the climate warming. The 20th century climate warming affected the atmospheric temperature in the Alps by +1øC. However this change did not significantly affect the ice deformation rate in the high-altitude ice fields since the ice temperature remains far below the melting point and therefore keeping the glacier frozen to its bed."

We get the message, but we strongly suspect folks at the United Nations in Geneva would have no time for this message from the top of nearby Mont Blanc!



An interview:

Most leading climate experts don't agree with Henrik Svensmark, the 49-year-old director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen. In fact, he has taken a lot of blows for proposing that solar activity and cosmic rays are instrumental in determining the warming (and cooling) of Earth. His studies show that cosmic rays trigger cloud formation, suggesting that a high level of solar activity-which suppresses the flow of cosmic rays striking the atmosphere-could result in fewer clouds and a warmer planet. This, Svensmark contends, could account for most of the warming during the last century. Does this mean that carbon dioxide is less important than we've been led to believe? Yes, he says, but how much less is impossible to know because climate models are so limited.

There is probably no greater scientific heresy today than questioning the warming role of CO2, especially in the wake of the report issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That report warned that nations must cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, and insisted that "unless drastic action is taken . . . millions of poor people will suffer from hunger, thirst, floods, and disease."

As astrophysicist ?Eugene Parker, the discoverer of solar wind, writes in the foreword to Svensmark's new book, The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change, "Global warming has become a political issue both in government and in the scientific community. The scientific lines have been drawn by 'eminent' scientists, and an important new idea is an unwelcome intruder. It upsets the established orthodoxy."

We talked with the unexpectedly modest and soft-spoken Henrik Svensmark about his work, the criticism it has received, and truth versus hype in climate science.



Many people worry about global warming today. They fear the polar ice caps will melt, raising sea levels and creating environmental chaos. Such concerns are not new. The historical record tells us of many warming episodes - and subsequent cooling periods - that have bedevilled humans for thousands of years.

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, who lived in 427-347 BC, wrote about major climate changes known in his day. In the dialogue, "Timaeus," he argued global warming occurs at regular intervals, often leading to great floods. Said Plato, "When... the gods purge the Earth with a deluge of water, the survivors... are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains. But those who... live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea."

In the dialogue, "Critias," Plato wrote about weather-related geological changes. He referred to "formidable deluges" that washed away all the top soil, turning the land into a "skeleton of a body wasted by disease." What were now plains had once been covered with rich soil, Plato said, and barren mountains were once covered with trees. The yearly "water from Zeus" had been lost, he went on, creating deserts where the land was once productive.

Plato's student, Aristotle, who lived from 384 BC to 322 BC, also recorded evidence of global warming in his work, "Meteorologica." He noted that in the time of the Trojan War, the land of Argos was marshy and unarable, while that of Mycenae was temperate and fertile. "But now the opposite is the case," Aristotle wrote. "The land of Mycenae has become completely dry and barren, while the Argive land that was formerly barren, owing to the water has now become fruitful." He observed the same phenomenon elsewhere covering large regions and nations.

Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle who lived 374-287 BC, discussed climate change in his work, "De ventis," which means "The Wind." He observed that in Crete, "nowadays the winters are more severe and more snow falls." In earlier times, he said, the mountains there bore grain and fruit, and the island was more populous. But when the climate changed, the land became infertile. In his book, "De causis plantarum," Theophrastus noted the Greek city of Larissa once had plentiful olive trees but that falling temperatures killed them all.

In the first century AD, an ancient Roman named Columella wrote an agricultural treatise called, "De re rustica." In it, he discussed global warming that had turned areas once too cold for agriculture into thriving farm communities. Columella cites an authority named Saserna who recorded many such cases. According to Saserna, "regions which formerly, because of the unremitting severity of winter, could not safeguard any shoot of the vine or the olive planted in them, now that the earlier coldness has abated and weather is becoming more clement, produce olive harvests and the vintages of Bacchus [wine] in greatest abundance."

In the Middle Ages, people began recording the temperature and climate-related phenomena, such as the dates when plants began to blossom annually. They were aware of a warming trend that began around 900 and a cooling trend that began around 1300. We know that during the warm period, the Vikings established settlements in Greenland where perpetual ice had previously covered the land. Ancient Norse records tell us these settlements were abandoned after 1250 when falling temperatures made farming less viable and spreading ice in the sea made transportation more difficult.

The cooling trend led to heavy rains in 14th century Europe that were too much for the crops, leading to reduced agricultural output and numerous famines. In the 15th century, a warming trend returned, which lasted until the middle of the 16th century when temperatures again started to fall. By the 17th century, it was clearly apparent that a cooling trend was altering sea routes, changing the kinds of crops farmers could grow, fishing patterns and so on. Glaciers began to advance rapidly in many places and rivers that had long been ice-free year round started to freeze in the winter. This "little ice age" continued well into the 19th century.

Since then, we have been in a warming cycle that appears to have accelerated around 1950. The point is that we know a great deal about climate changes from the historical record and need not rely solely on scientific studies of core samples, tree rings and so on. These changes occurred long before industrialization and could not possibly have been man-made in any way. They don't prove man is not now affecting the climate through carbon dioxide emissions, but they do tell us temporary warming trends are common in human history. It may only be a matter of time before another cooling trend comes along.



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 INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Put your money where your `myth' is

Meet the Ivy League professor and expert on forecasting who is challenging Al Gore to a $20,000 bet that he is wrong on global warming

Al Gore's doom-mongering documentary An Inconvenient Truth - in which he turned his rather drab PowerPoint presentation on climate change into a cinematic warning to the world about man's toxic impact on the planet - has generated miles of newspaper column inches. He's won widespread praise from greens for converting `ordinary people' (ie, the previously uncaring popcorn-chomping masses) to the green cause. He's been given a telling-off by some climate scientists for twisting the data in order to send a moral message about mankind's destructiveness (1). Others have accused him of being a hypocrite: apparently Gore, who has two very big homes, used 221,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in 2006, 20 times the American national average (2). And now, in the latest post-Truth twist, Gore has been challenged to a $20,000 wager that he is wrong on global warming.

`The aim of the bet is really to promote the proper use of science, rather than the opinion-led science we have seen lately.' Scott Armstrong is professor of marketing at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, and an international expert on forecasting methods. Last week he faxed and posted (to be on the safe side) his `Global Warming Challenge' to Gore. He challenged the former US vice-president to a 10-year bet in which both parties will put forward $10,000. Gore would put his money on his forecasts that temperature will rise dangerously in the coming decade, while Armstrong will put his money on what is referred to as the `naive model': that is, that temperatures will probably stay the same in the coming years. `Gore says there are scientific forecasts that the Earth will become warmer very rapidly. But I have not found a scientific forecast that supports that view. There are forecasts made by scientists, of course, but they are very different from a scientific forecast', says Armstrong.

Armstrong got the idea for the climate change wager from the late Julian Simon, an economist at the University of Maryland who was a friend of Armstrong's. In 1980, Simon bet the population scaremonger Paul Ehrlich that natural resources were not scarce and shrinking, as Ehrlich and other Malthusian environmentalists claimed. Ehrlich accepted: he chose five metals (copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten) and bet Simon that in 10 years' time the price of these metals would have risen exponentially due to their continued depletion by human adventure. In fact, when 1990 arrived, the price of all of Ehrlich's metals had fallen. Simon won the bet and Ehrlich handed him a cheque for $576.07. Armstrong expects to win his bet with Gore, too (that's if Gore accepts; he hasn't responded yet). But even if he were to lose, `at least I will have started a debate about forecasting', he tells me.

Armstrong and his colleague Kesten Green, senior research fellow at Monash University in Australia and also an expert on forecasting, have been conducting research into the global-warming forecasts put out by Gore and organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And they discovered that most climate-change forecasters use bad methodology. They are set to present their findings at an International Symposium on Forecasting in New York on Wednesday. `What we have is climate forecasters effectively translating their own opinions into maths', says Armstrong. `Their claims are not built on clear and thorough scientific forecasts but on their own outlooks.' In Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts - the paper they are presenting at the symposium, which spiked has seen - Armstrong and Green point out that the IPCC's Working Group One Report predicted `dramatic and harmful increases in average world temperatures over the next 92 years', and they ask: `Are these forecasts a good basis for developing public policy?' The answer provided in their paper is an emphatic `no' (3).

Armstrong and Green - whom I'm sure won't mind being referred to as forecasting geeks - argue that those who predict sweeping changes in the climate break many of the golden rules of forecasting, as laid out in the 2001 book The Principles of Forecasting. In their paper, they assessed `the extent to which long-term forecasts of global average temperatures have been derived using evidence-based forecasting methods'. They surveyed 51 scientists and others involved in making global-warming predictions, asking them to provide scientific articles that contained credible forecasts to underpin their view that temperature will rise rapidly. Most of those surveyed - 30 out of 51 - cited the IPCC Report as the best forecasting source. Yet according to Armstrong and Green, the forecasts in the IPCC Report are not the outcome of scientific forecasting procedures - rather the Report presents `the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing' (4). Indeed, in their `forecasting audit' of the IPPC Report, Armstrong and Green found that it violated 72 of the principles of forecasting.

Such as? `Well, some of the principles of forecasting can appear counterintuitive, so bear with me', says Armstrong. `One of the principles is that agreement amongst experts is actually not a very good measure of accuracy. This is especially true if experts are working closely together, and towards a certain goal, as they do in the IPCC. Such an atmosphere does not tend to generate reliable or accurate forecasts. Another principle of forecasting is that when there is uncertainty, your forecasts should be conservative, you should hedge your bets a little bit. The IPCC and others do exactly the opposite: despite their uncertainty, the fact that they don't know for certain what will happen, they are radical in their predictions of warming and destruction and so on.'

The IPCC Report violated these two principles of forecasting, claims Armstrong, and 70 more. As an example of why forecasting needs to be done properly, in their paper for the symposium he and Green point to various headlines that have appeared in the New York Times over the past 80 years. On 18 September 1924: `MacMillan Reports Signs of New Ice Age.' On 27 March 1933: `America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776.' On 21 May 1974: `Scientists Ponder Why World's Climate is Changing: A Major Cooling Widely Considered to be Inevitable.' (5) `Those forecasts were made with a high degree of confidence, too', he says. `Where are they now? It is very important that forecasts are built on proper forecasting principles, and that uncertain forecasts are treated as such.'

Armstrong and Green may have a point about the IPPC Report consisting more of scientists' opinions rather than scientifically validated forecasts of temperature change. And it will be interesting to see if Gore accepts their bet. But I can't help wondering if one of the main problems with the debate about climate change today is precisely the focus on forecasting, whether it is the allegedly wild forecasting contained in the IPCC Report or the more principled forecasting proposed by Armstrong and Green.

To debate the future on the basis of scientific forecasts about temperature is to denigrate human activity and impact. Humans don't, or at least shouldn't, sit around waiting for the inevitable to occur; we are capable of shaping our world and of addressing and solving problems as they arise. The Forecast View of History - which takes climatic developments of the past and measures them against the present, in order to make predictions about the future - tends to be fatalistic, viewing humans as objects of history rather than as creators of change. Perhaps we should spend less time forecasting what will (allegedly) happen, like modern-day tealeaf-readers, and more time making things happen in the way we want and need them to. I would put my money on human ingenuity over scary weather forecasts any day of the week.



The world is blinding itself to the reality of its energy problems, ignoring the scale of growth in demand from developing countries and placing too much faith in renewable sources of power, according to two leaders of the global energy industry. The chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell today calls for a "reality check".

Writing in The Times, Jeroen van der Veer takes issue with the widespread public opinion that green energy can replace fossil fuels. Shell's chief gives warning that supplies of conventional oil and gas will struggle to keep pace with rising energy demand and he calls for greater investment in energy efficiency. Instead of a great conversion to wind power and solar power, Mr van der Veer predicts, the world will be forced into greater use of coal and much higher CO2 emissions, "possibly to levels we deem unacceptable". Alternative energy sources, such as renewables, will not fill the gap, says Mr van der Veer, who forecasts that even with major technological breakthroughs, renewables could account for only 30 per cent of energy supply by the middle of the century. "Contrary to public perceptions, renewable energy is not the silver bullet that will soon solve all our problems," he writes.

The warning from Royal Dutch Shell coincides with a critique of public energy policy by Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil. Speaking at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, Mr Tillerson pointed to a widespread failure by policymakers to understand the extent to which the aspirations of people in developing countries are fuelling growth in demand for energy. Mr Tillerson said that world energy demand would rise by 45 per cent by 2030, and fossil fuels - oil, natural gas and coal - were the only energy sources of sufficient size, adaptability and affordability to meet the world's needs.

Mr van der Veer casts doubt today on the oil and gas industry's ability to keep up with accelerating demand. "Just when energy demand is surging, many of the world's conventional oilfields are going into decline," he writes. Although there is no shortage of oil and gas in the ground, Mr van der Veer says, the industry currently lacks the technology to recover even half of that resource.

Mr Tillerson, speaking at Chatham House, expressed doubts about the oil industry's ability to raise its game significantly without access to the oil reserves of the Opec countries of the Middle East. "The supply outlook for nonOpec countries will be modestly up or flat," Mr Tillerson predicted. He was sceptical about the drive by governments to increase use of biofuels and said that a fifth of America's corn crop was being used to produce four billion gallons of ethanol, compared with targets of 12 billion gallons by 2012.

The ExxonMobil chief criticised the EU's carbon trading system, calling it an administratively complex system that lacked transparency and failed to deliver a uniform and predictable cost of carbon. "It's all about moving the money around," he said. Mr Tillerson said he would prefer a carbon tax that would enable the cost of carbon to spread through the economy in a uniform way, letting governments use the revenues to mitigate its effect by reducing employment or income taxes.

Source was global warming that brought down the Babylonians?...

Post lifted from The horny-headed economist. See the original for links

I just made my morning coffee, only to discover (thru Drudge) the UN now contends it is my engergy use and my carbon footprint that has caused all the slaughter in Darfur. The same source organization, however, has often said that nothing about this is new:

Desertification, the phenomenon of encroaching desert lands, is hardly a novel occurrence in the history of mankind. It has played a salient role in hastening the decline of civilizations since ancient times. For example, both the Sumerian and Babylonian empires suffered telling blows when their agricultural productivity was destroyed, a gradual process principally attributable to improper drainage practices that allowed excessive salt concentrations to pollute their irrigated lands.

Archaeologists also have suggested that prolonged desiccation undercut the agricultural basis of the Harappan culture, a people who lived in the third millennium B.C. in what is now Pakistan. Finally, there seems little question that the Mediterranean littoral of Africa was far more fertile and cultivatable in the Carthaginian era (600-200 B.C.) than it is today.

Nonetheless, while man's experience with desertification may not be new, realization of it and its far-reaching ecological impact is. Worldwide recognition of desertification as a transnational environmental problem did not come about until 1968, when a severe drought struck the Sahel, a region in western Africa lying along the southern margin of the Sahara.

For six years, the countries of the Sahel - Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad - were devastated by uninterrupted drought and resultant famine. The natural and human consequences were tragically catastrophic: Lake Chad shrunk to only one-third of its normal size; the Niger and Senegal river systems failed to flood, thus leaving barren much of the most productive croplands in the region; shallow wells dried up, seriously restricting the grazing range of pastoralists; vegetation was denuded as starving animals stripped the land.

Reasonable rainfall did return to the Sahel in 1974, but not before drought, famine, and disease had killed an estimated 250,000 people and millions of domestic animals. As the tragedy and human suffering of people in the Sahel unfolded between 1968-1974, international attention became focused on their plight and the primary reason behind it: the inability of man to cope with spreading deserts in harsh climes.

More Proof!

(Post lifted from GM's Corner. See the original for links)

Of what? Don't ask.

South Africa: Johannesburg recorded its first confirmed snowfall for almost 26 years overnight as temperatures dropped below freezing in South Africa's largest city....

Australia: Local citrus producers have their fingers crossed waiting to see if their fruit suffered frost damage after the area experienced its coldest June day ever last week.


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 INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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.


Thursday, June 28, 2007


By W J R Alexander et al.


This study is based on the numerical analysis of the properties of routinely observed hydrometeorological data which in South Africa alone is collected at a rate of more than half a million station days per year, with some records approaching 100 continuous years in length. The analysis of this data demonstrates an unequivocal synchronous linkage between these processes in South Africa and elsewhere, and solar activity. This confirms observations and reports by others in many countries during the past 150 years. It is also shown with a high degree of assurance that there is a synchronous linkage between the statistically significant, 21-year periodicity in these processes and the acceleration and deceleration of the sun as it moves through galactic space. Despite a diligent search, no evidence could be found of trends in the data that could be attributed to human activities. It is essential that this information be accommodated in water resource development and operation procedures in the years ahead.

More here


If you want to convince the world that an overwhelming majority of scientists believe in global warming, then start by ignoring scientists who are not true believers. First, establish lists of scientists with your approved position, then smear dissidents. Soon, up-and-coming scientists will be afraid to cross the rigid green line.

So the Society of Environmental Journalists put together a guide on climate change that lists a number of publications on global warming, scientists and seven environmental groups, each with positive descriptions. Under the "Deniers, Dissenters and 'Skeptics' " category are four listings -- all negative -- they suggest that these folk are venal, partisan and bad scientists or all of the above.

According to the SEJ guide, University of Virginia professor Patrick Michaels "still claims to be the Virginia 'state climatologist' although the state has disavowed him." The publisher of George Mason University professor Fred Singer's books is connected with the "Moonie" leader, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank has received oil money. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has a flack "whose resume brags of starting the 'Swift Boat' story that injured candidate John Kerry."

The short list, with a senator even, suggests they had run out of dissident scientists -- or dissident scientists they could squeeze into the venal-lightweight box. James O'Brien -- director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies and former Florida state climatologist, and not listed in the SEJ guide -- said of the guide's terms for nonbelievers: "I don't like the term 'deniers.' They're trying to say we're like Holocaust deniers."

He didn't make that up. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman recently wrote that "global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future."

It ought to tell you something that the guide focuses not on the issues, but personal issues and credentials of nonbelievers. Oooooo, a senator has a flack who spins. How nefarious. I'm sure global warming guru and former Vice President Al Gore only hired monks. Most insulting is the insinuation that skeptics are after money, while believers are pure.

Nonsense, David Legates, Delaware state climatologist, told me. Dire global warming predictions draw the big bucks in research these days: "There's a lot more money to be made by saying the world is coming to an end than to say that this is a bunch of hooey."

"Hooey" is the term also used by Reid Bryson, the father of scientific climatology, with the (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times, as he explained, "If you want to be an eminent scientist, you have to have a lot of grad students and a lot of grants. You can't get grants unless you say, 'Oh global warming, yes, yes, carbon dioxide.' " Legates tells students who are not global-warming true believers, "If you don't have tenure at a major research university, keep your mouth shut."

Dissenting scientists do not deny that the planet is getting warmer. As O'Brien noted, "I believe that there is global warming and it's probably due to natural as well as human causes." But also: "It's not occurring as fast as the alarmists say," and its consequences won't be as dire as they say.

SEJ should see the value in skeptics who challenge the global-warming orthodoxy -- which can make global warming forecasts more concise -- instead of suggesting that no good scientists have alternative views. O'Brien sees a schism in the science community, with real-world scientists -- think former director of the National Hurricane Center, Neil Frank -- on one skeptic side, and environmentalists and ecologists, who "if they see more turtles this year than last year, they write a paper" on the worst-case-scenario other.

Legates noted that state climatologists deal in patterns and cycles and "tend to be more skeptical of the extreme climate change scenarios." Politicians, thus, have begun to stifle state climatologists who are not global-warming boosters -- oddly with little complaint that evil politicians are trying to censor noble scientists.

Oregon state climatologist George Taylor is a skeptic. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, asked Oregon State University to stop Taylor from using a title he had used without complaint since 1991. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, also a Democrat, pulled a similar move on Michaels, who is now the American Association of State Climatologists-designated state climatologist in Virginia.

As if it's a bad thing to be recognized by fellow climatologists, instead of a politician -- at least to the Society of Environmental Journalists.



Rich countries are being hypocritical in criticizing China's greenhouse gas emissions while using the country's cheap labor in industries that pollute, Asian business and government leaders said Monday. "This is green imperialism," Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Malaysia's deputy finance minister, told a panel discussion on global warming at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, a two-day conference that ended Monday.

The next meeting will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's main city, in June 2008. China has come under increasing pressure from the United States in particular to take more forceful measures to curb carbon dioxide emissions. China relies on coal, among the dirtiest fuels, to provide two-thirds of its energy. Asian leaders also criticized the U.S. and Australia for not signing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which caps the amount of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that can be emitted in industrialized countries. China signed the treaty but is exempt from emission reductions because it is considered a developing country, a situation often cited by the U.S. and Australia for rejecting the treaty.

Nor Mohamed said there was no point singling out one country when climate change is a global problem. "Companies that are polluting in China are owned by American, European, Japanese and others. They are benefiting from the cheap labor, from the resources and at the same time accusing China of pollution," the Malaysian official said. "Let's take the hypocrisy out of the equation," he said.

Addressing another session, Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co., said the private sector must play a leading role in addressing climate change while governments take their time formulating laws to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The industry has to make technically sophisticated cars that are less polluting, he said. "You cannot forget the fact that when someone's going to go and buy a car, you want him or her to be relieved of the guilt of emitting CO2, and that's something that we need to address."

China overtook the United States in carbon dioxide emissions by about 7.5 percent in 2006, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency's report. While China was 2 percent below the U.S. in carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, voracious coal consumption and increased cement production caused the numbers to rise rapidly, the agency said.

China also uses other numbers to contend that it is not the worst offender: With 1.3 billion people, China spews about 10,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per person, while the United States releases nearly 42,500 pounds per person, about four times as much. Chen Feng, the chairman of China Hainan Airlines, said now was not the time to assign blame but to create an international solution, saying developed nations were the original polluters. "So the way I see it is, you were bandits before you became right-minded people," he said.

President Bush recently proposed a meeting of the 15 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases to set an emissions goal. Japan's environment minister called the proposal "significant" but said it was crucial that the top emitters participate. "Without the participation of United States, China and India - the main emitters - we will not stop global warming," Masatoshi Wakabayashi said.

Ralph R. Peterson, the chairman of a U.S. management, design and construction firm, said Asia's economic growth path appears unsustainable because of high and inefficient energy consumption that contributed to pollution. He said Southeast Asian nations produce 11 percent of global output and use 21 percent of world oil. China's output is 5.5 percent of world gross domestic product while it uses 15 percent of global energy. India's energy efficiency is one-tenth the global average, while China's water use per unit of GDP is four times the world's average. "If it takes much more energy to produce one unit of GDP in Asia, then we have a problem," he said.


Renewable energy?

Republicans and Democrats are currently at loggerheads in the Senate over a bill to require the nation's utilities to draw a fixed percentage of their electricity from so-called "renewable energy." The Democratic bill, sponsored by Democratic Energy Committee Chairman Dave Bingaman, of New Mexico, would have utilities get 15 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other "renewable" sources by 2020. This version seems to be one vote short of beating a promised Republican filibuster.

Republican Senator Pete Domenici, also of New Mexico, has offered an alternate bill that would keep the same requirement but allow nuclear power and -- bizarrely -- "clean coal" to be included under the rubric of "renewable." That bill was soundly defeated, 56-39, with seven Republicans joining the Democrats to defeat the measure. A special committee is now trying to work out a compromise.

There is only one small point that makes this whole discussion rather irrelevant. According to the laws of physics, there is no such thing as "renewable energy."

The Second Law of Thermodynamics, developed during the 19th century, is said to be the only principle of Newtonian physics that survived the Einsteinian revolution. Therefore it is worthy of respect. The Second Law is expressed in a variety of ways -- "entropy," "disorder," the "dispersal of energy," the irreversibility of time. For the sake of this discussion, one of its principal corollaries is more than sufficient -- "Energy cannot be recycled."

The First Law of Thermodynamics (actually discovered after the Second Law) says that energy is always conserved and never destroyed. This seems to suggest perpetual motion. If we could only keep recycling the same energy, we would never run out.

The Second Law -- first posited by Sadi Carnot in 1824 -- contravenes this possibility. It holds that as energy is used to do work, some of it inevitably becomes irrecoverable. Energy is never destroyed. It transmutes from one form to another -- heat to mechanical motion to electricity to mechanical motion and perhaps back again to heat. In the process, however, some of the energy inevitably becomes inaccessible as "waste" or low-grade heat. Once dispersed, this energy achieves a state of high disorder or entropy. It cannot be reused, renewed, or recycled because it would take more energy to reassemble it than could be recovered.

The gasoline in your automobile engine, for example, transforms into mechanical motion. As it is consumed, however, some energy is inevitably thrown off as engine heat or friction against the road. Eventually all the momentum of your car will eventually be transformed into low-grade heat. The energy is still out there but it cannot be recycled or renewed. Therefore you will need a refill.

Calling some sources of energy "renewable" suggests that they can be used over and over, as opposed to other forms of energy, which will eventually run out. This is very misleading. What we really mean is that some forms of energy are inexhaustible, at least for our purposes. The energy of the sun is inexhaustible with respect to life on the planet. But it is not infinite. The solar energy falling on New York would not be enough to run the city, even if 100 percent of it were utilized. Therefore it must be collected elsewhere and transported, which itself consumes energy. The sun may come up day after day, but it does not provide unlimited amounts of energy.

Most "solar energy" actually comes to us in indirect forms, where the gathering and transporting is the limiting factor. Hydroelectricity derives from the sun's power to evaporate water and return it as rain. Yet there are only so many good dam sites. Hydro power supplied 20 percent of our electricity in 1980 but only 10 percent today, since most of its potential has been used. Wind comes from the sun's uneven heating of the atmosphere, but wind power is highly dispersed and must also be gathered and transformed. The wind is unpredictable and cannot be relied upon for large amounts of dispatchable electricity. Once wind reaches 20 percent of a grid, it begins to create voltage balance problems.

Direct solar electricity is free for the taking but does not arrive in very large amounts. The solar energy falling on a square-meter card table is enough to power one 100-watt light bulb. At best it could probably provide our indoor lighting. It is not enough, however, to run industrial machinery or highly sophisticated electronic networks. The great advantage of solar electricity is that it is strongest when it is needed most -- on hot summer afternoons when electrical demand peaks. Solar electricity could definitely relieve natural gas peaking plants in powering our summer air conditioning.

Fossil fuels are stored solar energy and renewable over the geological ages. We just don't have time to wait around for them to renew. Oil and gas supplies are somewhat limited and now lie mostly in countries that are politically unpredictable. We have so much coal in the U.S. we will probably never run out, but it is the prime source of air pollution and greenhouses gases. "Clean coal" is extremely expensive and will create huge problems in trying to bury whole oil fields worth of liquid carbon dioxide deep in the earth.

"Biofuels" are a gray area. They are "solar" and "renewable" but only within very strict limits. Sunshine is just one contributing factor. Much more important are land, water, fertilizer and other agricultural resources. Growing energy will compete with growing food. Nor are biofuels "carbon neutral." Burning this year's crop instead of leaving it in any of the numerous carbon sinks -- plant material, soil, the food chain -- increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Calling biofuels "carbon neutral" is just poor accounting. They will both strain agricultural resources and contribute to global warming.

There is one other source of energy that is close to being as inexhaustible as the sun. That is nuclear power, which might be called "terrestrial energy." Our planet generates huge amounts of heat. The temperature in its interior -- 7,000 degrees C. -- is hotter than the surface of the sun. What is the source of this heat? Some of it comes from the pressures of gravitational collapse, but almost half is generated by the disintegration of two tiny elements, uranium and thorium.

Terrestrial energy is tapped at geothermal sites, where heat from the earth's molten core comes in contact with groundwater. We perform this same heat exchange in what is called a "nuclear reactor." A nuclear plant is simply the duplication of a geothermal site under more controlled conditions.

Terrestrial energy is not infinitely renewable, but then neither is any other source of energy. It does not rely on solar energy stored in carbon bonds and therefore does not put carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. It is about as "green" as energy can get. It can probably stand by itself but is definitely worth including in any portfolio of "clean, renewable energy."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is 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 INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Swedish Scientist Accuses UN's IPCC of Falsifying Data and Destroying Evidence

If you listen to the global warming alarmists working for the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or folks like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore, sea levels across the globe are rising at a rate that will eventually doom us all.

According to Swedish paleogeophysicist Nils-Axel Moerner, who's been studying and writing about sea levels for four decades, the scientists working for the IPCC have falsified data and destroyed evidence to incorrectly prove their point.

Moerner was recently interviewed by Gregory Murphy of Executive Intelligence Review, and began by making it clear that the sea level claims made by the IPCC are a lot of nonsense (emphasis added throughout, h/t Eduardo Ferreyra):

[W]e can see that the sea level was indeed rising, from, let us say, 1850 to 1930-40. And that rise had a rate in the order of 1 millimeter per year. Not more. 1.1 is the exact figure. And we can check that, because Holland is a subsiding area; it has been subsiding for many millions of years; and Sweden, after the last Ice Age, was uplifted. So if you balance those, there is only one solution, and it will be this figure.

That ended in 1940, and there had been no rise until 1970; and then we can come into the debate here on what is going on, and we have to go to satellite altimetry, and I will return to that. But before doing that: There's another way of checking it, because if the radius of the Earth increases, because sea level is rising, then immediately the Earth's rate of rotation would slow down. That is a physical law, right? You have it in figure-skating: when they rotate very fast, the arms are close to the body; and then when they increase the radius, by putting out their arms, they stop by themselves. So you can look at the rotation and the same comes up: Yes, it might be 1.1 mm per year, but absolutely not more.

1.1 mm per year? That means that if this were to continue for 1000 years, sea levels would be 1.1 meters higher. Doesn't sound very catastrophic, does it?

Moerner then addressed what in his view was a ridiculous error by the IPCC:

Another way of looking at what is going on is the tide gauge. Tide gauging is very complicated, because it gives different answers for wherever you are in the world. But we have to rely on geology when we interpret it. So, for example, those people in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], choose Hong Kong, which has six tide gauges, and they choose the record of one, which gives 2.3 mm per year rise of sea level. Every geologist knows that that is a subsiding area. It's the compaction of sediment; it is the only record which you shouldn't use. And if that figure is correct, then Holland would not be subsiding, it would be uplifting. And that is just ridiculous. Not even ignorance could be responsible for a thing like that.

But that was just the beginning of Moerner's problems with the IPCC:

Now, back to satellite altimetry, which shows the water, not just the coasts, but in the whole of the ocean. And you measure it by satellite. From 1992 to 2002, [the graph of the sea level] was a straight line, variability along a straight line, but absolutely no trend whatsoever. We could see those spikes: a very rapid rise, but then in half a year, they fall back again. But absolutely no trend, and to have a sea-level rise, you need a trend.

Then, in 2003, the same data set, which in their [IPCC's] publications, in their website, was a straight line-suddenly it changed, and showed a very strong line of uplift, 2.3 mm per year, the same as from the tide gauge. And that didn't look so nice. It looked as though they had recorded something; but they hadn't recorded anything. It was the original one which they had suddenly twisted up, because they entered a "correction factor," which they took from the tide gauge. So it was not a measured thing, but a figure introduced from outside. I accused them of this at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow -I said you have introduced factors from outside; it's not a measurement. It looks like it is measured from the satellite, but you don't say what really happened. And they answered, that we had to do it, because otherwise we would not have gotten any trend!

That is terrible! As a matter of fact, it is a falsification of the data set. Why? Because they know the answer. And there you come to the point: They "know" the answer; the rest of us, we are searching for the answer. Because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don't find it!

Pretty extraordinary, wouldn't you agree? A "correction factor." Honestly, the way these folks manipulate data is nothing less than astounding. Yet, Moerner wasn't finished, as he later detailed an incident when IPCC scientists actually destroyed evidence which refuted their rising sea level claims:

This tree, which I showed in the documentary, is interesting. This is a prison island, and when people left the island, from the '50s, it was a marker for them, when they saw this tree alone out there, they said, "Ah, freedom!" They were allowed back. And there have been writings and talks about this. I knew that this tree was in that terrible position already in the 1950s. So the slightest rise, and it would have been gone. I used it in my writings and for television. You know what happened? There came an Australian sea-level team, which was for the IPCC and against me. Then the students pulled down the tree by hand! They destroyed the evidence. What kind of people are those? And we came to launch this film, "Doomsday Called Off," right after, and the tree was still green. And I heard from the locals that they had seen the people who had pulled it down. So I put it up again, by hand, and made my TV program. I haven't told anybody else, but this was the story.

They call themselves scientists, and they're destroying evidence! A scientist should always be open for reinterpretation, but you can never destroy evidence. And they were being watched, thinking they were clever.


The very "Green" founder of The Whole Earth Catalog believes the environmental movement will eventually reverse its position on four core issues

The success of the environmental movement is driven by two powerful forces -- romanticism and science -- that are often in opposition. The romantics identify with natural systems; the scientists study natural systems. The romantics are moralistic, rebellious against the perceived dominant power, and combative against any who appear to stray from the true path. They hate to admit mistakes or change direction. The scientists are ethicalistic, rebellious against any perceived dominant paradigm, and combative against each other. For them, admitting mistakes is what science is.

There are a great many more environmental romantics than there are scientists. That's fortunate, since their inspiration means that most people in developed socie-ties see themselves as environmentalists. But it also means that scientific perceptions are always a minority view, easily ignored, suppressed, or demonized if they don't fit the consensus story line.

Take population growth. For 50 years, the demographers in charge of human population projections for the United Nations released hard numbers that substantiated environmentalists' greatest fears about indefinite exponential population increase. For a while, those projections proved fairly accurate. However, in the 1990s, the U.N. started taking a closer look at fertility patterns, and in 2002, it adopted a new theory that shocked many demographers: human population is leveling off rapidly, even precipitously, in developed countries, with the rest of the world soon to follow. Most environmentalists still haven't got the word. Worldwide, birthrates are in free fall. Around one-third of countries now have birthrates below replacement level (2.1 children per woman) and sinking. Nowhere does the downward trend show signs of leveling off. Nations already in a birth dearth crisis include Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Russia -- whose population is now in absolute decline and is expected to be 30 percent lower by 2050. On every part of every continent and in every culture (even Mormon), birthrates are headed down. They reach replacement level and keep on dropping. It turns out that population decrease accelerates downward just as fiercely as population increase accelerated upward, for the same reason. Any variation from the 2.1 rate compounds over time.

That's great news for environmentalists (or it will be when finally noticed), but they need to recognize what caused the turnaround. The world population growth rate actually peaked at 2 percent way back in 1968, the very year my old teacher Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb. The world's women didn't suddenly have fewer kids because of his book, though. They had fewer kids because they moved to town.

Cities are population sinks-always have been. Although more children are an asset in the countryside, they're a liability in the city. A global tipping point in urbanization is what stopped the population explosion. As of this year, 50 percent of the world's population lives in cities, with 61 percent expected by 2030. In 1800 it was 3 percent; in 1900 it was 14 percent.

The environmentalist aesthetic is to love villages and despise cities. My mind got changed on the subject a few years ago by an Indian acquaintance who told me that in Indian villages the women obeyed their husbands and family elders, pounded grain, and sang. But, the acquaintance explained, when Indian women immigrated to cities, they got jobs, started businesses, and demanded their children be educated. They became more independent, as they became less fundamentalist in their religious beliefs. Urbanization is the most massive and sudden shift of humanity in its history. Environmentalists will be rewarded if they welcome it and get out in front of it. In every single region in the world, including the U.S., small towns and rural areas are emptying out. The trees and wildlife are returning. Now is the time to put in place permanent protection for those rural environments. Meanwhile, the global population of illegal urban squatters -- which Robert Neuwirth's book Shadow Cities already estimates at a billion -- is growing fast. Environmentalists could help ensure that the new dominant human habitat is humane and has a reduced footprint of overall environmental impact.

Along with rethinking cities, environmentalists will need to rethink biotechnology. One area of biotech with huge promise and some drawbacks is genetic engineering, so far violently rejected by the environmental movement. That rejection is, I think, a mistake. Why was water fluoridization rejected by the political right and "frankenfood" by the political left? The answer, I suspect, is that fluoridization came from government and genetically modified (GM) crops from corporations. If the origins had been reversed -- as they could have been -- the positions would be reversed, too.

Ignore the origin and look at the technology on its own terms. (This will be easier with the emergence of "open source" genetic engineering, which could work around restrictive corporate patents.) What is its net effect on the environment? GM crops are more efficient, giving higher yield on less land with less use of pesticides and herbicides. That's why the Amish, the most technology-suspicious group in America (and the best farmers), have enthusiastically adopted GM crops.

There has yet to be a public debate among environmentalists about genetic engineering. Most of the scare stories that go around (Monarch caterpillars harmed by GM pollen!) have as much substance as urban legends about toxic rat urine on Coke can lids. Solid research is seldom reported widely, partly because no news is not news. A number of leading biologists in the U.S. are also leading environmentalists. I've asked them how worried they are about genetically engineered organisms. Their answer is "Not much," because they know from their own work how robust wild ecologies are in defending against new genes, no matter how exotic. They don't say so in public because they feel that entering the GM debate would strain relations with allies and would distract from their main focus, which is to research and defend biodiversity.

The best way for doubters to control a questionable new technology is to embrace it, lest it remain wholly in the hands of enthusiasts who think there is nothing questionable about it. I would love to see what a cadre of hard-over environmental scientists could do with genetic engineering. Besides assuring the kind of transparency needed for intelligent regulation, they could direct a powerful new tool at some of the most vexed problems in the field.

For instance, invasive species. Most of the current mass extinctions of native species is caused by habitat loss, a problem whose cure is well known-identify the crucial habitats and preserve, protect, and restore them. The second greatest cause of extinctions is coming from invasive species, where no solution is in sight. Kudzu takes over the American South, brown tree snakes take over Guam (up to 5,000 a square kilometer), zebra mussels and mitten crabs take over the U.S. waterways, fire ants and fiendishly collaborative Argentine ants take over the ground, and not a thing can be done. Volunteers like me get off on yanking up invasive French broom and Cape ivy, but it's just sand castles against a rising tide. I can't wait for some engineered organism, probably microbial, that will target bad actors like zebra mussels and eat them, or interrupt their reproductive pathway, and then die out.

Now we come to the most profound environmental problem of all, the one that trumps everything: global climate change. Its effect on natural systems and on civilization will be a universal permanent disaster. It may be slow and relentless -- higher temperature, rising oceans, more extreme weather getting progressively worse over a century. Or it may be "abrupt climate change": an increase of fresh water in the north Atlantic shuts down the Gulf Stream within a decade, and Europe freezes while the rest of the world gets drier and windier. (I was involved in the 2003 Pentagon study on this matter, which spelled out how a climate change like the one 8,200 years ago could occur suddenly.) Can climate change be slowed and catastrophe avoided? They can to the degree that humanity influences climate dynamics. The primary cause of global climate change is our burning of fossil fuels for energy.

So everything must be done to increase energy efficiency and decarbonize energy production. Kyoto accords, radical conservation in energy transmission and use, wind energy, solar energy, passive solar, hydroelectric energy, biomass, the whole gamut. But add them all up and it's still only a fraction of enough. Massive carbon "sequestration" (extraction) from the atmosphere, perhaps via biotech, is a widely held hope, but it's just a hope. The only technology ready to fill the gap and stop the carbon dioxide loading of the atmosphere is nuclear power.

Nuclear certainly has problems -- accidents, waste storage, high construction costs, and the possible use of its fuel in weapons. It also has advantages besides the overwhelming one of being atmospherically clean. The industry is mature, with a half-century of experience and ever improved engineering behind it. Problematic early reactors like the ones at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl can be supplanted by new, smaller-scale, meltdown-proof reactors like the ones that use the pebble-bed design. Nuclear power plants are very high yield, with low-cost fuel. Finally, they offer the best avenue to a "hydrogen economy," combining high energy and high heat in one place for optimal hydrogen generation.

The storage of radioactive waste is a surmountable problem (see "A New Vision for Nuclear Waste," December 2004). Many reactors now have fields of dry-storage casks nearby. Those casks are transportable. It would be prudent to move them into well-guarded centralized locations. Many nations address the waste storage problem by reprocessing their spent fuel, but that has the side effect of producing material that can be used in weapons. One solution would be a global supplier of reactor fuel, which takes back spent fuel from customers around the world for reprocessing. That's the kind of idea that can go from "Impractical!" to "Necessary!" in a season, depending on world events.

The environmental movement has a quasi-religious aversion to nuclear energy. The few prominent environmentalists who have spoken out in its favor -- Gaia theorist James Lovelock, Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore, Friend of the Earth Hugh Montefiore -- have been privately anathematized by other environmentalists. Public excoriation, however, would invite public debate, which so far has not been welcome.

Nuclear could go either way. It would take only one more Chernobyl-type event in Russia's older reactors (all too possible, given the poor state of oversight there) to make the nuclear taboo permanent, to the great detriment of the world's atmospheric health. Everything depends on getting new and better nuclear technology designed and built.

Years ago, environmentalists hated cars and wanted to ban them. Then physicist Amory Lovins came along, saw that the automobile was the perfect leverage point for large-scale energy conservation, and set about designing and promoting drastically more efficient cars. Gas-electric hybrid vehicles are now on the road, performing public good. The United States, Lovins says, can be the Saudi Arabia of nega-watts: Americans are so wasteful of energy that their conservation efforts can have an enormous effect. Single-handedly, Lovins converted the environmental movement from loathing of the auto industry to fruitful engagement with it. Someone could do the same with nuclear power plants. Lovins refuses to. The field is open, and the need is great.

Within the environmental movement, scientists are the radical minority leading the way. They are already transforming the perspective on urbanization and population growth. But their radicalism and leadership will have to increase if humanity is to harness green biotech and step up to its responsibilities for the global climate. The romantics are right, after all: we are indi-visible from the earth's natural systems


A relic of the days when the earth REALLY had global warming -- without a power station or motor vehicle in sight

The fossilised remains of a giant tropical penguin have been uncovered by paleontologists. The extinct creature was at least 1.5m taller than even the emperor penguin, and had the longest beak ever known among the aquatic birds. It would have swum in tropical waters 36 million years ago during one of the warmest periods on Earth since the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Researchers were astonished by the size of the penguin, especially the beak, which, at 18cm, is more than twice as long as the rest of its skull. Remains of the Icadyptes salasi were unearthed on the southern coast of Peru along with another previously unknown, ancient tropical penguin, Perudyptes devriesi, which was alive 42 million years ago.

Until the fossils were found, penguins had been thought to have first swum in low-latitude equatorial waters 10 million years ago. But the new discoveries have put back the date by about 30 million years. The two fossilised penguins, the most complete and among the earliest discovered, are casting new light on the how the features of modern penguins evolved, and when and where they were distributed in the oceans.

Their appearance in equatorial waters took place long before the world started to cool, from about 34 million years ago, to the point where ice-caps formed at the poles. Julia Clarke, of North Carolina State University in the US, was one of the team of scientists from Peru, Argentina and the US who studied the fossils, which were discovered in 2005. She said: "We tend to think of penguins as being cold-adapted species - even the small penguins in equatorial regions today. "But the new fossils date back to one of the warmest periods in the last 65 million years of Earth's history. "The evidence indicates that penguins reached low-latitude regions more than 30 million years prior to our previous estimates." ...

Despite the two extinct species showing a willingness to leave the cooler waters of the high, southern latitudes, Dr Clarke cautioned against assuming that modern penguins will be able to cope with the warmer temperatures predicted through climate change today. "These Peruvian species are early branches of the penguin family tree - comparatively distant cousins of living penguins," she said. "In addition, current global warming is occurring on a significantly shorter timescale. The data from these new fossil species cannot be used to argue that warming wouldn't negatively impact on living penguins." [Religion speaking: There already ARE penguins in warmer waters right now. Below is a picture of a Galapagos penguin. The Galapagos Island are right on the equator. You can't get more tropical than that]



Anyone who thinks that climate change is purely a partisan issue isn't paying attention. Increasingly, the national debate on global warming is breaking down between carbon states - those that produce coal, oil and automobiles - and those that see a future beyond fossil fuels. Republicans and Democrats are all over the map.

This carbon-state split flared up in Washington last week when Rep. Rick Boucher, a Democrat from the coal state of Virginia, unveiled draft energy legislation that would prevent California and other states from enacting their own greenhouse gas laws. The legislation would also restrict the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions - a reaction to a Supreme Court ruling in April that said the EPA must treat these gases as a pollutant, regulate them or explain why it won't.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, is also mulling energy legislation that could block California from implementing its "clean-car" law - enacted in 2002 and opposed by auto manufacturers in his state. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a strong statement Tuesday aimed at Boucher and Dingell. "Any proposal that affects California's landmark efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or eliminate the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will not have my support," Pelosi said.

The speaker's statement effectively kills any chance that Boucher's bill will reach the House floor. But the issue isn't going away. Although polls show that U.S. residents are increasingly concerned about global warming, the nation remains divided over how to control industrial emissions. The divisions do not align themselves with the red-state, blue-state checkerboard. They are aligned based on a presumption of politicians that their home states and districts could win or lose with mandatory caps on greenhouse gases, or with an increasingly warming climate.

You can see this trend playing out in the presidential race. Some Republicans running for president - John McCain comes to mind - are stronger on climate policies than many Democrats in Congress, particularly those who represent carbon states such as Michigan, West Virginia, Alaska and Texas. On the Democratic side, Sen. Christopher Dodd has a stronger climate platform than Sen. Hillary Clinton, who seems as hesitant to affiliate herself with Al Gore as Al Gore did in affiliating himself with Bill Clinton back in 2000.

While Democrats hope to position themselves as the counterpoint to President Bush and his dithering policies on global warming, they have yet to unify their ranks behind a coherent strategy for responding to this threat. To do this, leaders such as Pelosi must not only blunt the clumsy legislative efforts of fossil fuel apologists, such as Boucher and Dingell, they need to rebuke the false choice that climate laws are sure to doom places such as Detroit and the Appalachian coalfields.



Record chill blitzes Tasmania. If record hot weather anywhere proves global warming (as the newspapers and Greenies so often tell us), then the story below must surely prove global cooling. Or am I missing something?

THE spate of chilly weather is set to ice southern Tasmania's coldest June on record. Grove, just south of Hobart, has had 21 mornings in a row when the mercury plunged to 2C or below, the Bureau of Meteorology said yesterday. And the average minimum for Hobart this month has been just 3.1C -- a dramatic low compared to the usual 5.2C.

A balmy May and 20 years of mild winters made the chill more of a shock, said Ian Barnes-Keoghan, from the bureau's climate section. "It's been very dramatic," he said. "Overnight temperatures have been creeping up in the past couple of decades, so cold nights have become less common and this is a bit of a flashback."

Southern Tasmania's figures were a standout for June. "And May was so warm, the temperature didn't drop below 5C," Mr Barnes-Keoghan said. "A couple of places are on track for the coldest June on record, although the temperatures might pick up during the rest of this week."

The frost has been good for fruit-growers. Huon Valley grower and Fruit Growers Tasmania spokesman Thomas Frankcomb said apples and cherries needed the chill. "It helps the fruit buds mature so when they pop in the spring they pop evenly and with good, strong flowers," Mr Frankcomb said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Malpractice in science

I was writing at my laptop on Saturday, June 16, while watching television and the disbarment proceedings of the lawyer and prosecutor Mike Nifong of Raleigh, North Carolina. The proceedings were led by the chairman of the disciplinary committee, F. Lane Williamson, who stripped the prosecutor of his lawyer's license and disbarred him. According to Williamson, Nifong had broken North Carolina's rules of professional conduct more than two dozen times. Stunningly he had also withheld exculpatory DNA evidence showing that all 3 of the defendants were innocent.

The legal process of exoneration of the 3 young men had taken more than a year, destroyed their lives, and sullied the entire lacrosse team, the reputation of Duke University and its hate-filled faculty. It directly impacted the families, friends, and the community not to mention the several million dollars spent in the defense of innocent young men. At least we can acknowledge that in the legal systems in our nation we do have an appeals process for legal malpractice, however slow, ponderous, and costly it is.

Unfortunately, we do not have such a corrective system to appeal scientific malpractice, no fixed rules for scientific misconduct and few penalties of any significance. A few get noticed, a few are embarrassed, but serious sanctions are rare and are quite sporadic ( Examples abound in environmental science, regulation, and litigation. Adding to this are too many editors of science journals who have assumed advocacy roles for promoting specific agendas, as well as the failure of the peer review processes.

DDT is one of the most effective tools ever in the fight against malaria ( Yet it was banned in 1972 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is still banned and the malarial death rates continue by the thousands. And talk about the repression of evidence. During the DDT hearings of 1972, some scientists stated that DDT was a human carcinogen. This was shown to be untrue. Some scientists said that DDT caused eggshell thinning in birds. This was also shown to be untrue. Some scientists said that DDT caused declines in bird populations. This was untrue. A number of bird populations increased many times during the periods of DDT use. Even with substantial contrary evidence available at the time, the EPA proceeded to ban DDT. And talk about scientific malpractice ruining lives. The EPA ban with full support of the environmental movement has led to the malaria deaths of more than 30,000,000 people since then. Additionally, hundreds of millions suffer from the non-fatal effects of the disease. Yet we have no appeals process for such scientific malpractice, not even follow-up activities to determine impacts of the decision to ban DDT.

There are many other environmental issues as well which have involved heavy use of scientific malpractice, with no threat of scientific review or penalties. Without any viable process for appealing the malpractice of science, the nation and the world continue to suffer egregiously both in horrendous wasted costs and millions of lives lost. The global warming issue is just the latest in a long series of pseudo-alarms involving scientific malpractice.

And talk about the misrepresentation of data. The `hockeystick" issue is but one. The irresponsible research paper which developed the hockeystick chart was presented by the authors as representing the last 1000 years of global temperature data. In actuality it did not do this. Problems were found immediately. The chart did not show, for example, the well-known Middle Age Warming which peaked around 1100 AD at a warmer time when Vikings were farming in and raising sheep in Greenland. It did not show the Little Ice Age which lasted for centuries and extended into the 1800s. Yet this chart was approved by the IPCC editors and reviewers, was embraced by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and incorporated into its 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR). Based in part on these findings the IPCC had urged the nations of the world to embrace these findings and use them to formulate crippling multi-national energy and emission policies.

Only with great diligence and phenomenal computer and statistical skills by two men, was the fraud discovered. Without them this may never have been discovered, certainly not by the IPCC and supporters. See for example, ( All of those parties above, the authors, the IPCC editors, the peer reviewers, and the IPCC itself are culpable in promoting the fraud of the hockeystick. The warmer times of the Medieval Warming Period and the cooler times of the Little Ice Age and the million years of earlier global climates all tell a different story of climate change and its likely causes. And these didn't involve mankind, CO2, or the so-called crimes of capitalism. Talk about withholding exculpatory evidence.

And talk about harmful agendas and the ethically challenged among the warmers. In December, 2006 Dr. David Deming, a geophysicist at the University of Oklahoma, gave testimony to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works ( In 1995 he had published an article in Science on borehole data which indicated a slight warming in North America over the past 100 to 150 years. And talk about media bias. The week his Science article appeared he was contacted by a reporter at National Public Radio (NPR). He offered to interview Dr. Deming only on the condition that Deming state that the warming was due to human activity. Deming refused and the reporter hung up. Talk about the suppression of information. In that same testimony Deming said he got an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area of climate change. The researcher said "We have to get rid of the Medieval Warming Period". The MWP was inconsistent with the warming agenda. "An Inconvenient Truth", one might say.

Such unscientific and irresponsible behavior can go unchecked and uncorrected indefinitely because there is no formal corrective structure in place in science, as there are in the legal community. There is no price to be paid by abusers. Orchestrating pre-determined scientific outcomes is dishonest, unethical, costly, and dangerous. We saw this in the DDT fiasco. In fact it is not science. It is naked dishonesty. In promoting the case of "man-made global warming" which specifically targets and limits the US capacity to produce energy from fossil fuels (providing transportation and 55% of our electricity), it is also treasonous.


Hold the line on global warming

What should conservatives do about global warming? Jim Manzi suggests in his June 25 National Review cover story ("Game Plan") that conservatives embrace junk science and "manage" global climate change so that they can "peel off" 1 percent of the votes from the "opposing coalition" in some future presidential election.

Manzi's is a recipe for social, political and economic disaster - not just for conservatives, but for everyone, with the possible exception of the misanthropic, back-to-nature socialists among us. "It is no longer possible, scientifically or politically, to deny that human activities have very likely increased global temperatures.," intones Manzi, who has apparently spent too much time watching "An Inconvenient Truth." It's clear from his article that he neither understands the science nor the politics of global warming.

Manzi says we should believe in global warming because of the "underlying physics." He writes, "All else equal, the more CO2 molecules we have in the atmosphere, the hotter it gets." But both the underlying physics and historical climate data debunk this statement. Different greenhouse gases absorb different wavelengths of energy emitted by the Earth. The fact that only a limited amount of the Earth's emitted energy is available for absorption by CO2 and that CO2 has to compete with water vapor and clouds for that energy, results in a crucial (but little publicized) logarithimic relationship between CO2 and temperature - that is, as atmospheric CO2 increases, it absorbs less and less additional energy to produce correspondingly less and less additional warming. At some point, adding more atmospheric CO2 doesn't significantly change atmospheric temperature.

To analogize, consider a window with many shades, each blocking half the incoming light. As successive shades are pulled, the transmitted light is halved and the effect of each shade is diminished. Eventually, there's no additional effect because previous shades have already absorbed the light to all but a vanishing degree. As more shades won't block more light, more CO2 won't cause significantly more warming.

In fact, there's been more than enough greenhouse gas in the atmosphere to cause much greater warming than actually occurs since long before humans discovered fire. From a historical perspective, consider the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature for the period 1940-1970. As atmospheric CO2 levels steadily increased during this period, global temperatures decreased, giving rise to the 1970s-era scare of an impending ice age. It's also clear that, if there has been a relationship between atmospheric CO2 and global temperature since the 1970s, it's not readily apparent.

And let's not forget the third-rail of global warming debate - one that Al Gore carefully slid over in his movie - the actual relationship between carbon dioxide and global temperature. While alarmists would have us assume that increases in atmospheric CO2 precede and cause increases in global temperature, the scientific data say the exact opposite. Historical data taken from polar ice core samples indicate that increases in temperature have preceded increases in atmospheric CO2 by several hundred years. Not letting this "inconvenient truth" spoil his movie, Al Gore only describes the relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature as "complex."

Indeed, it is. So why let it get in the way of the most subtle yet audacious political power grab of our time. Manzi has taken Gore's bait and is running with it. We'll get to the politics in a moment, but there are a few other points to make about Manzi's presentation of the science. Manzi writes that, "The most important scientific debate is really effects," by which he refers to the notion that changes in atmospheric CO2 cause a complicated set of feedback effects that supposedly magnify and reduce the greenhouse effect. Manzi specifically mentions that higher atmospheric temperatures melt the polar ice caps, which in turn, supposedly causes more warming, and that more atmospheric CO2 increases plant growth which removes CO2 from the atmosphere, thereby cooling the climate.

The reality, however, is that these feedback loops are hypothetical in nature and no one really understands them, if they exist. No one knows why the Arctic ice caps seem to be receding. Glacial melting is a complex geologic event that seems to have little to do with atmospheric temperatures.

During the warming period from 1880 to 1938, it's estimated that the atmospheric CO2 increased by an estimated 20 parts per million. But from 1938 to 2003 - a period of essentially no increase in Arctic warming - the atmospheric CO2 increased another 60 parts per million. It doesn't seem plausible, then, that Arctic temperatures are significantly influenced by atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases.

Global warming worriers can take no comfort from Antarctic data either. Over the last 30 years, atmospheric CO2 increased by about 15 percent, from about 328 parts per million to about 372 parts per million. But the Antarctic temperature trend for that period indicates a slight cooling. This observation contrasts sharply with the relatively steep Antarctic warming observed from 1949 to 1974, which was accompanied by a much more modest increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

As to trees removing CO2 from the atmosphere, well, some do and some don't. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (April 17) that while tropical forests exert a cooling influence on global climate, forests in northern regions, because of their absorption of sunlight, exert a warming influence - and it's not just a trivial climatic effect. Based on the researchers' computer modeling, forests above 20 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere - that is, north of the line of latitude running through Southern Mexico, Saharan Africa, central India and the southernmost Chinese island of Hainan - will warm surface temperatures in those regions by an estimated 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. It would seem that climate jihadists might well start their anti-warming campaigns in the chainsaw isle of their local hardware stores, rather than coming for our SUVs, incandescent light bulbs and thermostats.

Manzi's reading of the political situation is as wrong-headed as his facts and reasoning on the science. He suggests that conservatives turn global warming alarmism into a political advantage by essentially out-marketing the enviros on the solutions. "Conservatives should propose policies that are appropriately optimistic, science-based and low-cost. A key political question is there fore which side could more effectively use its position on carbon taxes to peel off 1 percent of the relevant votes from the opposing coalition," he writes.

Why won't putting a happy-face on being the low-cost-provider of planetary apocalypticism work? Because averting planetary disaster is not what global warming alarmism is all about. There are many nefarious agendas driving the global warming controversy, none of them have anything to do with "saving" the planet, and to pretend they don't exist is to truly live in denial.

First, there are the radical left-wing environmentalists whose goal - through control of energy production and use, and ultimately the economy - is global socialism. As Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore related in the recent Channel 4 (UK) documentary, entitled "The Great Global Warming Swindle," by the mid-1980s, environmental goals - e.g., clean air and clean water - had become so mainstream that activists had to adopt more extreme positions to remain anti-establishment. Then when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, many "peace-niks" and left-wing political activists moved over to environmental activism, bringing their "neo-Marxist" political philosophy with them. As Moore puts it, environmentalism became the "new guise for anti-capitalism."

Then there are the Europeans who are responsible for launching global warming alarmism in the first place. When Margaret Thatcher became UK Prime Minister in 1979, her mandate was to reduce Britain's economic decline. Thatcher wanted to make the UK energy-independent through nuclear power - she didn't like her country's reliance on coal, which politically empowered the coal miner unions, or oil, which empowered Middle Eastern states. So Thatcher latched onto her science adviser's notion that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide warmed the planet in a harmful way, thereby providing the perfect political cover for advancing her nuclear power agenda without having to fight the miners or Arab oil states. She empowered the U.K. Meteorological Office to begin global climate change research, a move that eventually led to the 1988 creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations' group that has come to be the "official" international agency for global warming alarmism.

The Europeans now see global warming as a means of hampering U.S. economic competitiveness through increased energy prices. In a global warming-worried world, it becomes more expensive to use coal, for example. About 52 percent of U.S. electricity is produced by burning coal. France, in contrast, gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Guess whose economy takes the hit. The Europeans also know that environmentalists and trial lawyers will ensure that greenhouse gas emissions regulations are strictly enforced in the U.S. The same cannot be said for Europe.

There is also the gigantic global warming bureaucracy that's been created over the last 20 years. Whereas there used to be only a handful of scientists who called themselves atmospheric scientists, now there are legions of self-proclaimed "climatologists" along with the attendant bureaucracies to support them. U.S. taxpayers alone support this gang to a tune of about $5 billion per year. Where a zoologist might previously have had difficulty getting a grant to study the mating habits of squirrels, a whole new world of possibilities opens up if the newly minted climato-zoologist asks for funding to study whether changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide are making female squirrels friskier.

Perhaps the most effective of these pro-global warming groups is big business. The alternative energy industry uses global warming fearmongering to sell subsidized, but still high-priced energy. Wal-Mart wants us to pay $5.99 for inferior but climate-friendly light bulbs, rather than $0.75 for traditional incandescent bulbs. Dupont and other manufacturing giants want Congress to dole out global warming pork for their past, voluntary reductions in greenhouse gases. Goldman Sachs owns part of the climate exchanges on which permits to emit greenhouse gases are to be traded. Global warming hysteria was just that, until big business climbed aboard the climate railroad. Now with its army of lobbyists in Washington, many businesses see global warming as a lucrative endeavor and they are trying to engineer congressional action for their own limited interests.

And let's not forget Congress and other state and local politicians who, not surprisingly, have adopted the Green veneer of virtue. "Green-ness" has become the new moral high ground that few dare to challenge. Those that do are pilloried as "skeptics" and likened to Holocaust deniers. It's no surprise that so many politicians - not a courageous lot to start with - have opted to join the Big Green machine.

All this apparently is lost on Manzi whose penultimate thought is, "But by getting past denial and taking a science-based approach to the issue, a clever candidate could take a principled stand that pays major tactical dividends." But cleverness will not likely protect our freedoms and wallets from the Greens, Europeans, global bureaucracy, rent-seeking businesses and Congress. These groups need to be sternly faced-down with the scientific and economic realities of global warming. Right now, conservatives are leading the charge in favor of sound science, and against climate clamoring and profiteering. That should continue to be our "game plan." That is the principled stand.


Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren: Most Economists Predict a Bright Future

Will our children and grandchildren live in a better world, or will economic and social conditions decline? Every culture has worried over this question-often for good reason. One would think that modern man, living amid ever-rising material comforts and a security unimagined by his ancestors, would have moved beyond this fear. But despite our growing prosperity there is a renewed fear in many quarters that we are living on borrowed time, because we're running out of resources and endangering our very environment.

Once, economists would have been counted among the pessimists. The moniker "the dismal science" surely stuck for such a long time because so many economists followed the lead of Thomas Malthus, who predicted that population growth in the face of resource constraints would inevitably squelch hopes for a broad-based rise in standards of living. Today, however, there are strong indications that the fog of gloom among economists has evaporated. The evidence of more than two centuries of burgeoning economic growth worldwide is hard to refute, and economists have revised their expectations and models in this light. Economic histories now bear titles like Growth Triumphant; a history of twentieth-century global investment is titled Triumph of the Optimists; and introductory textbooks work through the New Growth Theory, forecasting unchecked economic growth and likening the economy to a perpetual motion machine.

Further evidence that it's time to rename economics the "cheerful science" comes from a recent survey I conducted of professional economists. I found that by wide margin economists are exceptionally optimistic about the future of the American economy: most predict that the robust economic growth of our recent history will continue into the foreseeable future. My respondents' median prediction is that per capita income in the United States will grow at a rate slightly less than the 2 percent inflation-adjusted growth rate of the past sixty years. Almost half forecast a growth rate equal to or greater than 2 percent. Only one economist in my poll predicts economic decline for our grandchildren.

If my respondents are correct and economic growth continues at this pace, incomes will rise more than three-fold in the next sixty years-average incomes would equal approximately $147,000 in today's dollars. If the growth rate does dip slightly, say to 1.8 percent per annum, incomes would almost triple, rising to only $131,000. These predictions are eye-popping.

In addition, economists believe that the U.S. will continue to be one of the world's richest countries sixty years from now. Twenty-eight percent predict that the U.S. will have the highest per capita income in the world six decades from now. The largest group, 71 percent, expects the U.S. to be "not the highest, but in the top tier." Again, only a single pessimist predicts that the U.S. will fall from the top tier.

Finally, economists expect that within the next couple of generations many (perhaps most) countries and regions that are currently poor and economically underdeveloped will achieve standards of living equaling or surpassing today's level in the richest countries. My survey asked: "Sixty years from now what countries or regions (if any) will have joined the group of developed nations with an income per capita approximately equaling or surpassing today's level in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and Western Europe?" Of those who answered the question, 62 percent put China on the list, two-thirds mentioned other places in East Asia, one-third mentioned India, and 40 percent selected all or parts of Latin America-with Chile mentioned most frequently, followed by Brazil and Mexico. Unfortunately, the vast majority also believe that deep poverty will persist in Sub-Saharan Africa for generations to come.

The bottom line is that most economists are very optimistic about the economic future of almost all the world. They find pessimism implausible because the forces that have driven past growth-the accelerating pace of technological innovation and the strong incentives embedded in the capitalist system that steer us around potential roadblocks-aren't likely to disappear anytime soon. Moreover, the consensus among economists is that climate change has very little potential to slow down our economic growth machine. Rather, economists identify the major challenges facing the American economy over the next sixty years as coping with the effects of an aging population and flaws in the Social Security system, exploding health care and health insurance costs, and our inefficient educational system.

Perhaps it's time for us to stop worrying about a future of deprivation and finally learn how to handle unrelenting prosperity.


Energy policy: Big, bold and bogus

Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says their energy plan involves "bold steps and big ideas." These steps, if taken, will trod on the necks of American consumers, because Reid's big ideas will counterproductively impose arbitrary mandates on our auto, food, fuel and appliance industries. The latest Senate sham, spuriously referred to as the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007, will actually hurt consumers, reduce energy efficiency and swindle more money from the taxpayers. The misleading title isn't worth repeating; let's just call it S.1419.

A New York Times article on June 12 emphasized lobbying by competing interests relative to the spoils that will be spilled from the federal treasury and the damage expected from this bill promoted by our inept and self-serving, pardon the expression, "representatives." Some say this proposed legislation may be even more divisive than the attempt by the Senate to codify illegal immigration. Former Senator John Breaux (D-La), now lobbying for a corporate management company, called it "the mother of all bills."

And this mother is designed to stick it to all of us.

Sen. Reid says the Democrat plan "is all about harnessing power.." Right, Harry. It's about your power over the hapless citizens of this country. You would mandate phony fuels that will raise energy and food prices; impose government designs on appliances that will increase their costs and reduce product performance and reliability; restrict gasoline industry profits that will interfere with normal market economics and induce shortages; and force arbitrary gas mileage numbers on our auto industries that will make cars more expensive, less safe and reduce our choices. I call this an abuse of power, Sen. Reid.

Apparently duped by environmental utopians, Reid and others spout the "renewal" energy mantra that "exists literally all around us," as he naively states. In their feeble minds grass and grain will substitute for highly efficient "fossil fuels." Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, and many others have debunked the renewable fuels scam that Congress perpetrated on us back in 2005 with what he calls "the biggest energy policy failure in recent years."

Government mandated corn-made ethanol costs more and is less efficient that gasoline. It does not decrease "greenhouse" emissions. It won't reduce "dependency" on foreign oil. It did lead to higher food prices. According to an Iowa State University study, this stupidity has already cost everyone of us in America nearly $50 more for food annually. What will be our cost increase when S.1419 requires four times more ethanol production than the current mandate?-not to mention many other unintended (and intended) consequences.

The Times reports that this onerous proposed law was authored mainly by Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, chairman of the Energy Committee (more likely crafted by his left-leaning staffers and environmental lobbyists). Experiencing abundant sunshine in that desert-state may have made him light-headed with the idea that we can replace gas, oil and coal energy with such things as solar panels. Windmills will also help us to "energy independence." Picture these people walking around wearing beanies with little propellers on top, symbols of the wackiness they want to impose on us all: doing whatever to save the planet from God only knows what.

Bingaman's bill, clearly divisive, pits various segments of our economy against each other-reason enough to declare this bad law. Government restrictions and subsidies create lobbyists representing business groups who know the economic damage that will be inflicted by do-good, know-nothing regulation and taxation. For example, former Democrat representative Charles Stenholm from Texas now lobbies to protect oil producers and cattle ranchers from the unfair federal subsidies given to corn-made ethanol producers.

The food industry has fired off a letter warning the senators-ignorant or disdainful of our economic system-that their heavy-handed subsidies for ethanol will increase the cost of food to consumers. Energy-consuming companies are broadcasting TV ads pointing out to our resident subversives that our foreign enemies support Congressional self-inflicting attempts to hurt our economy. Naturally, our auto industry fights government actions that will subvert their struggles to provide Americans with high-quality and safe vehicles competitive with foreign makers. Electric utilities and coal producers oppose government requirements to force them to produce 15 percent of the power we all need with "renewable"-read, costly and inefficient-energy sources.

While the dim-bulbs in our Capital inflict us with requirements to use more renewables, they have restricted sugar-based ethanol imports from Brazil; guaranteeing a market for one of their favorite domestic charities. Mr. Lieberman believes that ethanol subsidies will eventually cost each American household $200 "for the privilege of higher fuel and food prices." He also documents that by forcing us to buy reduced energy use appliances we can expect poor performance and more expensive machines we need to maintain our already efficient and comfortable standard of living. Harry Reid and Senate meddlers would change that by bureaucratically giving "efficiency priority over everything else," says Lieberman.

And what will this misguided policy do to our safety on the highways? Lighter personal vehicles necessary to meet government Corporate Average Fuel Economy, arbitrarily picked to achieve some unknown (and unjustified) reduction in vehicle emissions of carbon dioxide, will likely increase deaths on the highway. The National Academy of Sciences believes downsizing vehicles has resulted in annual deaths matching the numbers of our soldiers killed in Iraq over the past several years. The market will produce smaller vehicle for those consumers willing to buy them. We don't want government forced price increases, limited choice and greater safety risks.

Finally, S.1419 will make it a crime to profit from selling gasoline to us. If a company charges an "unconscionably excessive price" for its product, government power kicks in and kicks us consumers. Make no mistake, this draconian action will slow the free flow of this critical commodity and result in shortages. Mr. Lieberman says the "vague and subjective phrasing" in this bill will effectively result in price control and reduce supplies. Even the government Federal Trade Commission "is on record stating that such legislation is a bad idea," says Lieberman. If our legislators can't write clear and concise law, they have no business doing so.

This Senate bill is so potentially destructive to our comfort, convenience and economic welfare that it cannot be defended with rational debate. Wild conjecture, unreasonable emotion and subversive intent drives this legislation. Mr. Lieberman says, S.1419 "is so counterproductive it would need substantial improvements just to be ineffective."

This bill must be buried quickly, or we all will suffer from the plague it will spread.



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 INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL 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.