Friday, August 31, 2007


What is so scary about free thought?

Whatever happened to liberals? One thing I have learned by writing columns on global warming the past two weeks is that liberals are less interested in free expression of ideas than in total compliance with their ideas, less interested in critical thinking than in being critical, and less interested in the truth than in their truth.

It wasn't always so. In fact, considering that I was raised as a good Democrat and a proud liberal, it pains me to have to admit such distaste for the current state of liberalism. But how can I remain silent when so many people tell me that they agree with my ideas, but are afraid to speak up for themselves because of the names they will be called?

How can I remain silent when I have a position of power to defend myself, and I know that young people in colleges across this nation are afraid to turn in papers that contradict the liberal social agenda of their professors? How can I remain silent when there is so much at stake?

Week after week, I endeavor to write columns which raise questions and propose answers. Week after week I am told by my liberal friends that my questions are foolish and my answers are stupid. Yet I wait in vain for anyone to read my last two columns on global warming and show me where I went wrong. What I hear instead is that "all" the climate scientists in the world agree that global warming is man-made and ruinous, with the implication left hanging or spoken aloud that I am supposed to shut up, get in line and do what I am told.

Sorry, but I don't work that way. What I believe in is looking at the evidence for myself, weighing it with the scales of logic and reason, and then making up my own mind. I have been studying the evidence on global warming for more than two years, and for all the reasons already listed the past two weeks I am convinced that this is a manufactured crisis.

Telling me that “all” the climate scientists in the world disagree with me doesn’t counter my argument; rather, it demonstrates that my opponent is willing to fabricate evidence. Many, many scientists disagree with the hypothesis that human industry has accelerated global warming to a dangerous level. To claim otherwise does not make it so.

The other argument repeatedly used by global warming advocates to belittle their opponents is to say that their case is supported by “peer-reviewed” research. That’s fine, but many opponents of the Global Warming Movement have also published in “peer-reviewed” journals. Besides, peer review does not ensure that the conclusions of an article are correct — merely that the author followed accepted principles of the scientific method in striving to prove a significant hypothesis. It should also be noted that when a vast majority of scientists concur with a theory, peer review may easily turn into peer pressure. Thus peer review could be a form of peer-imposed censorship as alternative viewpoints are marginalized or denied publication.

It is certainly a form of elitism — basically limiting discussion of serious ideas to a few thousand degreed academicians. Well, sorry, but I spent eight years in college and graduate school, and I don’t buy the idea that universities are the fount of all knowledge. A good idea is just as good whether it came from the barbershop or the “Journal for the Preservation of Self-Important Professorships.” Indeed, the marketplace of ideas is of no value whatsoever unless it is an open market.

At least, that is what I believe. So, too, I think, did Socrates — the father of philosophy. And so too did liberals in the days when I counted myself among them. In fact, liberals are supposed to welcome debate, free expression and open exchange of ideas. But you would never know it when you read the words of the global warming cabal. They are intent on halting debate, even to the point of proposing to make it a crime to “deny” global warming.

It is almost as though liberals are at war with liberalism itself — with the spirit of freedom. Consider, for instance, what liberals themselves say they believe in. Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, wrote an interesting essay on “What it means to be a liberal” in which he lists 10 fundamental principals that encapsulate the liberal position. Here are the first three:

1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others.

2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference.

3. Liberals believe individuals have a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate....”

Say what?

I just need to look at my mail bag to know that some liberals have gone seriously astray in their efforts to “doubt their own truths” and “be tolerant and respectful of difference.” And as for rights, the only one I know for sure that liberals apportion to me is “the right to remain silent.”

Much more here

How Greenies make droughts worse

Water shortages in California are nothing new; the last major drought occurred during the late 1980's and early 1990's. But there's a bitter irony in the critical shortage currently plaguing the state, which could cause major crop and pasture losses and widespread restrictions on water usage. Two of the three counties where water use is currently restricted by the local water authorities, Mendocino and Marin-both boasting chronically goofy, politically correct, far-left politics, not coincidentally-have banned a key technology that could conserve huge amounts of water.

This technology is gene-splicing, sometimes called genetic modification (GM), which gives plant breeders the tools to make old crop plants do spectacular new things, including conserve water. In the United States and at least 21 other countries, farmers are using gene-spliced crop varieties to produce higher yields, with lower water inputs and reduced impact on the environment. In spite of research being hampered by resistance from activists and discouraged by governmental over-regulation, gene-spliced crop varieties are slowly but surely trickling out of the development pipeline in many parts of the world. For the last decade, more than 100 million acres of them have been cultivated each year. Cumulatively, more than a billion acres have been cultivated worldwide during the past 15 years.

Farmers are using gene-spliced crop varieties to produce higher yields, with lower water inputs and reduced impact on the environment. Most of these new varieties are designed to be resistant to pests and diseases that ravage crops; or to be resistant to herbicides, so that farmers can adopt more environment-friendly no-till farming practices and more benign herbicides. Others possess improved nutritional quality. But the greatest boon of all both to food security and to the environment in the long term will likely be the ability of new crop varieties to tolerate periods of drought and other water-related stresses. Where water is unavailable for irrigation, the development of crop varieties able to grow under conditions of low moisture or temporary drought could both boost yields and lengthen the time that farmland is productive.

Even where irrigation is feasible, plants that use water more efficiently are needed. Irrigation for agriculture accounts for roughly 70 percent of the world's fresh water consumption-even more in areas of intensive farming and arid or semi-arid conditions, such as California-so the introduction of plants that grow with less water would allow much of that essential resource to be freed up for other uses. Especially during drought conditions, even a small percentage reduction in the use of water for irrigation could result in huge benefits. Plant biologists have identified genes that regulate water utilization and transferred them into important crop plants. These new varieties are able to grow with smaller amounts or lower quality water, such as water that has been recycled or that contains large amounts of natural mineral salts.

Aside from new varieties that have lower water requirements, pest and disease-resistant gene-spliced crop varieties also make water use more efficient indirectly. Because much of the loss to insects and diseases occurs after the plants are fully grown-that is, after most of the water required to grow a crop has already been applied-disease resistance means more agricultural output per unit of water invested. We get more crop for the drop. In spite of intensive cultivation of gene-spliced plants for more than a decade-during which time not a single person has been injured or an ecosystem disrupted-four California counties have banned them entirely!

The use of gene-splicing technology can conserve water in other ways as well. Salty soil is the enemy of agriculture: Fully one-third of irrigated land worldwide, including much of California, is unsuitable for growing crops because of the presence of salt, and every year nearly half a million acres of irrigated land is lost to cultivation. Repeated fertilization, growing seasons and cultivation causes this accumulation of salts. Scientists have enhanced salt tolerance in crops as diverse as tomatoes and canola. The transformed plants not only grow in salty soil, but also can be irrigated with brackish water, conserving fresh water for other uses.

Incredibly, in spite of intensive cultivation of gene-spliced plants for more than a decade-during which time not a single person has been injured or an ecosystem disrupted-four California counties have banned them entirely! These actions in Trinity, Mendocino, Marin, and Santa Cruz counties represent political leadership and voter ignorance at their worst. The measures are unscientific and logically inconsistent, in that their restrictions are inversely related to risk: They permit the use of microorganisms and plants that are crafted with less precise and predictable techniques but ban those made with more precise and predictable ones.

Even where gene-spliced crops are being cultivated, unscientific, overly burdensome regulation by the EPA and US Department of Agriculture has raised significantly the cost of producing new plant varieties and kept many potentially important crops from ever reaching the market. The deeply entrenched, discriminatory and excessive regulation-which flies in the face of scientific consensus that gene-splicing is essentially an extension, or refinement, of earlier techniques for crop improvement-adds millions of dollars to the development costs of each new gene-spliced crop variety. These extra costs, and also the endless (and gratuitous) controversy over cultivating these precisely crafted and highly predictable varieties, discourage research and development.

Agricultural innovation that uses gene-splicing techniques to conserve water has become very costly and risky. That should provide food for thought as farmers' profits dry up, our lawns turn brown, and the costs of food and water increase.


The Dangers of Wind Power

Wind turbines continue to multiply the world over. But as they grow bigger and bigger, the number of dangerous accidents is climbing. How safe is wind energy? Report from Germany

It came without warning. A sudden gust of wind ripped the tip off of the rotor blade with a loud bang. The heavy, 10-meter (32 foot) fragment spun through the air, and crashed into a field some 200 meters away. The wind turbine, which is 100 meters (328 feet) tall, broke apart in early November 2006 in the region of Oldenburg in northern Germany -- and the consequences of the event are only now becoming apparent. Startled by the accident, the local building authority ordered the examination of six other wind turbines of the same model.

The results, which finally came in this summer, alarmed District Administrator Frank Eger. He immediately alerted the state government of Lower Saxony, writing that he had shut down four turbines due to safety concerns. It was already the second incident in his district, he wrote, adding that turbines of this type could pose a threat across the country. The expert evaluation had discovered possible manufacturing defects and irregularities.

Mishaps, Breakdowns and Accidents

After the industry's recent boom years, wind power providers and experts are now concerned. The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim. Indeed, with thousands of mishaps, breakdowns and accidents having been reported in recent years, the difficulties seem to be mounting. Gearboxes hiding inside the casings perched on top of the towering masts have short shelf lives, often crapping out before even five years is up. In some cases, fractures form along the rotors, or even in the foundation, after only limited operation. Short circuits or overheated propellers have been known to cause fires. All this despite manufacturers' promises that the turbines would last at least 20 years.

Gearboxes have already had to be replaced "in large numbers," the German Insurance Association is now complaining. "In addition to generators and gearboxes, rotor blades also often display defects," a report on the technical shortcomings of wind turbines claims. The insurance companies are complaining of problems ranging from those caused by improper storage to dangerous cracks and fractures.

The frail turbines coming off the assembly lines at some manufacturers threaten to damage an industry that for years has been hailed as a wild success. As recently as the end of July, the German WindEnergy Association (BWE) crowed that business had once again hit record levels. The wind power industry expanded by a solid 40 percent in 2006, according to the BWE, and it now provides work for 74,000 people.

Germany, moreover, is the global leader when it comes to wind power: More than 19,000 windmills now dot the countryside -- more than in any other country. Green power has become a point of pride in Germany in recent years, and Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel would now like to construct vast new wind farms along the country's North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts.

No Time for Testing

Generous government subsidies have transformed wind power into a billion-euro industry within just a few years. Because energy providers have to purchase wind power at set prices, everyone, it seems, wants in. But it is precisely the industry's prodigious success that is leading to its technological shortcomings. "Many companies have sold an endless number of units," complains engineer Manfred Perkun, until recently a claims adjuster for R+V Insurance. "It hardly leaves any time for testing prototypes."

Wind power expert Martin Stoeckl knows the problems all too well. The Bavarian travels some 80,000 kilometers (49,710 miles) across Germany every year, but he is only rarely able to help the wind farmers. It is not just the rotors that, due to enormous worldwide demand, take forever to deliver, but simple replacement parts are likewise nowhere to be found. "You often have to wait 18 months for a new rotor mount, which means the turbine stands still for that long," says Stoeckl.

"Sales Top, Service Flop" is the headline on a recent cover story which appeared in the industry journal Erneuerbare Energien. The story reports the disastrous results of a questionnaire passed out to members of the German WindEnergy Association asking them to rank manufacturers. Only Enercon, based in Germany, managed a ranking of "good." The company produces wind turbines without gearboxes, eliminating one of the weakest links in the chain.

Even among insurers, who raced into the new market in the 1990s, wind power is now considered a risky sector. Industry giant Allianz was faced with around a thousand damage claims in 2006 alone. Jan Pohl, who works for Allianz in Munich, has calculated that on average "an operator has to expect damage to his facility every four years, not including malfunctions and uninsured breakdowns."

Many insurance companies have learned their lessons and are now writing maintenance requirements -- requiring wind farmers to replace vulnerable components such as gearboxes every five years -- directly into their contracts. But a gearbox replacement can cost up to 10 percent of the original construction price tag, enough to cut deep into anticipated profits. Indeed, many investors may be in for a nasty surprise. "Between 3,000 and 4,000 older facilities are currently due for new insurance policies," says Holger Martsfeld, head of technical insurance at Germany's leading wind turbine insurer Gothaer. "We know that many of these facilities have flaws."

Flaws And Dangers

And the technical hitches are not without their dangers. For example:

* In December of last year, fragments of a broken rotor blade landed on a road shortly before rush hour traffic near the city of Trier.

* Two wind turbines caught fire near Osnabrck and in the Havelland region in January. The firefighters could only watch: Their ladders were not tall enough to reach the burning casings.

* The same month, a 70-meter (230-foot) tall wind turbine folded in half in Schleswig-Holstein -- right next to a highway.

* The rotor blades of a wind turbine in Brandenburg ripped off at a height of 100 meters (328 feet). Fragments of the rotors stuck into a grain field near a road.

At the Allianz Technology Center (AZT) in Munich, the bits and pieces from wind turbine meltdowns are closely examined. "The force that comes to bear on the rotors is much greater than originally expected," says AZT evaluator Erwin Bauer. Wind speed is simply not consistent enough, he points out. "There are gusts and direction changes all the time," he says.

But instead of working to create more efficient technology, many manufacturers have simply elected to build even larger rotor blades, Bauer adds. "Large machines may have great capacity, but the strains they are subject to are even harder to control," he says. Even the technically basic concrete foundations are suffering from those strains. Vibrations and load changes cause fractures, water seeps into the cracks, and the rebar begins to rust. Repairs are difficult. "You can't look inside concrete," says Marc Gutermann, a professor for experimental statics in Bremen. "It's no use just closing the cracks from above."

The engineering expert suspects construction errors are to blame. "The facilities keep getting bigger," he says, "but the diameter of the masts has to remain the same because otherwise they would be too big to transport on the roadways."

Not Sufficiently Resilient

Still the wind power business is focusing on replacing smaller facilities with ever larger ones. With all the best sites already taken, boosting size is one of the few ways left to boost output. On land at least. So far, there are no offshore wind parks in German waters, a situation that Minister Gabriel hopes to change. He wants offshore wind farms to produce a total of 25,000 megawatts by 2030.

Perhaps by then, the lessons learned on land will ward off disaster at sea. Many constructors of such offshore facilities in other countries have run into difficulties. Danish company and world market leader Vestas, for example, had to remove the turbines from an entire wind park along Denmark's western coast in 2004 because the turbines were not sufficiently resilient to withstand the local sea and weather conditions. Similar problems were encountered off the British coast in 2005.

German wind turbine giant Enercon, for its part, considers the risks associated with offshore wind power generation too great, says Enercon spokesman Andreas Dueser says. While the growth potential is tempting, he says, the company does not want to lose its good standing on the high seas.



The European Commission is heading for a tough meeting today, as its two commissioners, in charge of trade and industry, are locked in an internal struggle over whether to end import duties on low-energy light bulbs imported from China - a case also seen as a significant test of free trade. Later on Wednesday (29 August), EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson is set to push through the idea of lifting import duties imposed in 2002 to shield European lightbulb producers from the import and subsequent sale of Chinese bulbs on the EU market at below-cost price.

The tariffs add up to 66 percent on the value of bulbs, with critics claiming they harm European importers and retailers. However, EU industry commissioner Guenther Verheugen has rejected Mr Mandelson's call to scrap the duties, arguing it would result in job losses in Europe. Instead, he has suggested a two-year extension of the duties - an idea reportedly supported by several other commissioners, including commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

Industry has also stepped into the fighting arena, as many manufactures have already moved their production to China and will be greatly affected by Brussels' decision. Most European producers, led by Dutch electronics group Philips, have urged the commission to back Mr Mandelson's proposal, saying continuing protectionism would come at the expense of consumers as well as the EU's target to reduce energy use by 20 percent, by 2020.


Empty talk on climate policy from Australia's Left

NEXT week's Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum meeting in Sydney won't be its last, but if we accept Kevin Rudd's view of the world then, like John Howard, its days may be numbered. The press release accompanying Rudd's speech to the Australian Institute of International Affairs on Monday bore the headline, "APEC'S Future: Confront the Economic Challenge of Climate Change" . According to Labor's Great Helmsman, if it fails to embrace "real action" on climate change, APEC has "little future".

What does real action mean? To quote Rudd: "APEC must set concrete emissions targets, as it languishes behind the European Union and the G8 on tackling the economic impact of climate change." This is an interesting comparison, for reasons I will come to in a moment. But we already know that setting action plans in concrete is not APEC's modus operandi. China and the other Asian developing economies don't want anything to do with Kyoto-style targets, which would cripple their economic growth. Bringing their living standards up to those of the West is their greatest economic challenge, not climate change.

A leaked draft of the Sydney Declaration to be released at the end of next week's APEC meeting speaks only of a long-term aspirational target for emissions reductions. So presumably one of the early actions of a Rudd government will be to withdraw from APEC, an institution with little future. Or is Rudd just bluffing? His speech implies a readiness to compromise his policy ideals. After all, as he says, a Labor government helped create APEC.

The ambiguity is typical of the approach to climate change by all governments, for which we may be duly grateful when it becomes apparent the planet isn't on the brink of becoming uninhabitable without immediate, drastic action to stop global warming. The European Union and the G8, Rudd's exemplars of climate action, fall decidedly short when it comes to meeting commitments they have undertaken, notably in the Kyoto treaty (the US, of course, never ratified it). And several of the new eastern European members of the EU are refusing to accept emissions caps imposed by Brussels, for the same reason China and India don't want a bar of them: they inhibit economic and social development.

Yet on Monday, Rudd repeated that one of his first acts if he becomes prime minister will be to ratify Kyoto. This is just one more illustration of the fact that when deliberately created global warming hysteria takes hold, silliness isn't far behind. Kyoto is dead. It was never going to make any real difference to global warming anyway, and its most vociferous supporters will miss their emissions reduction targets, or meet them by fraud. Two weeks ago The Guardian newspaper reported a secret briefing to ministers that Britain had no hope of meeting the EU's target of 20 per cent energy from renewables by 2020. Former prime minister Tony Blair, an ardent climate change believer, signed up to the target only a few months ago.

However, the problem isn't missing these targets but that efforts will be redoubled to impose harsher ones to make up for backsliding, because despite claims of a scientific consensus, the science of climate change is not settled. For a start, the predictions of what is going to happen to the Earth's climate over the next 100 years are based on climate change models that are the subject of considerable dispute. Reputable climate change scientists such as Richard Lindzen and economists who specialise in forecasting have strongly criticised them.

For example, Scott Armstrong from the Wharton School in the US and Kesten Green from the Business and Economic Forecasting Unit at Monash University checked a set of forecasts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change against 88 principles of sound forecasting and found the scientists had breached 72 of them.

The assumptions underlying the climate forecasts have also been frequently challenged. Critical assumptions about the role of clouds and water vapour, for example, are disputed by other scientists.

The economic modelling used to predict the economic costs and benefits of curbing greenhouse emissions, most notably in the British Stern report, has been widely challenged by leading economists. William Nordhaus, a world expert on the economics of climate change, has recently looked at the proposals by Al Gore and Stern to dramatically cut emissions of greenhouse gases. He found that the costs in both cases substantially exceeded the benefits. In the case of the Stern proposals for deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, Nordhaus found the benefits totalled $US13 trillion and the costs $US27 trillion.

As for the science, it is evolving and some assumptions made in the exercises carried out by the IPCC are being questioned and found wanting. One example is the so-called hockey stick, which was at one stage at the centre of IPCC findings on global warming, but has since been discredited. Recently, earlier findings that the behaviour of Atlantic Ocean currents, which climate change was reportedly causing to alter in ways that would bring a mini ice age to Europe, have been overturned. There are other examples.

Equally disturbing, there is evidence that some key IPCC scientists have been witholding data from independent reviewers wanting to look at their work, which goes right against the idea of how good science is done. There have also been cases of discrimination against scientists who don't toe the IPCC line.

In some ways most damning of all, there is a deliberate attempt to close down any public debate on climate change issues and brand those questioning the orthodoxies of the IPCC as climate change deniers, comparing them with Holocaust deniers or painting them as in the pay of big oil, big coal, or some other vested interest. While the suppression of dissenting views by the scientific establishment is hardly new, the increasingly shrill tone in the face of growing questioning of the work of the IPCC and the data and models it relies on is disturbing.

In the face of this, whatever its faults, Howard's cautious approach to climate policy looks much more sensible than the alternative, however unpopular it might be in the opinion polls.



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowleging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

$100 million to promote global warming!

Not too long ago, a premier ad agency wouldn't touch a campaign warning about the effects of global warming, fearing backlash from the automakers and oil companies that keep Madison Avenue's lights on. But now one of the most hotly contended pitches out there is for the Alliance for Climate Protection, the organization formed last year by Al Gore.

Four elite agencies -- Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the Martin Agency and Y&R -- are squaring off for the business and are expected to present to the former vice president himself early next month, according to executives familiar with the review. The budget for the "historic, three-to-five-year, multimedia global campaign," as the request for proposals puts it, is contingent on how much money the alliance raises. Media spending will likely be more than $100 million a year.

That elite shops aren't scared off from crafting environmental messaging that could be tacitly critical of big business's sometimes unsustainable ways is yet another sign of the mainstreaming of green thinking within the corporate world at large. And within the ad community it points to newfound willingness to embrace hot-button social causes. The alliance account, some are saying, could even lend some luster to the winner's roster, given many major marketers' recent embrace of sustainability throughout their value chains, from product development to manufacturing to marketing communications.

Formerly taboo

Many agencies do high-profile and often award-winning work for causes such as smoking cessation, drug-use prevention and disaster relief, but they typically steer clear of more divisive issues and political campaigns, making executives who want to work on them do so outside the auspices of the agency.

Until very recently at least, global warming would have been seen as such an issue. Long accepted by the scientific community, research suggesting human activity is raising the earth's temperature with dire environmental consequences has been disputed by many in the business community, especially automakers and other sectors with big industrial outputs.

But corporate America has begun an about-face in the wake of a groundswell of popular interest, having seen what developing an environmentally friendly product such as the Prius has done for Toyota's reputation and its bottom line. July's Live Earth concert, whose proceeds are going to the alliance, was loaded down with corporate sponsors, among them Microsoft, whose MSN division had web rights to the show.

Chris Becker, chairman-chief creative officer of DraftFCB's New York office, said blowback from less-than-eco-friendly marketers is unlikely. "It's such a loud issue and so accepted that no one can get away with that," he said. "There's already such a broad platform for agencies."

Y&R, for instance, was involved in promoting Live Earth, despite counting oil giant Chevron as a client. Y&R CEO Hamish McLennan even appeared with Mr. Gore at this year's Cannes Advertising Festival. A Chevron spokesperson couldn't be reached for comment. And as more evidence of just how comfortable agencies are with the issue, DraftFCB last week sponsored an auction of global warming-inspired art created by employees at the agency that benefits an environmental nonprofit organization.

Doing something

The Alliance's RFP is, as you might expect, part inspirational -- quoting Gandhi, M. Scott Peck, Erik Erikson, and of course Mr. Gore -- and part detailed description of the task ahead for the winner. That will involve convincing people to making the climate issue, which already has high awareness, a more actionable priority.

"The world probably doesn't need much more meek communication on the issues of climate change," said David Hessekiel, founder and president of the Cause Marketing Forum. "Anybody with a pulse probably now knows that there are serious environmental issues facing us, but that doesn't mean there's been a huge sea change in consumption of energy."

A winner likely will be chosen shortly after the final pitches, given that the Alliance wants at least a soft launch online in September, with test-market advertising beginning later in the fall. A spokesman for the Alliance declined to comment, as did agency representatives.

Despite the big media budget attached, agencies eager to change the world shouldn't expect to get rich in the process. The winner won't be expected to work on a pro-bono basis, but the RFP cautions that most of the Alliance's partners are working "at below their regular market rates."


Twisted science

The complexities of global warming, (renamed as climate change) should be the domain of scientific discussions. Such discussions should be held within the constraints of science, the scientific methods, the careful collection, management, and analyses of the climate data. There should include careful resolutions and explanations of conflicting data, replication, and passing the essential demands of explaining the observations of the climate data. I have never been in discussions of science and engineering issues where these values weren't highly respected and determinant. Even competing designs, processes, and theories were lightly defended since the common understanding was that the data would determine which was superior. In contrast, falsely representing the data supporting a particular theory or design, would have been severely dealt with and career limiting.

We have been told by Al Gore and others that there should be a grand debate about global warming. Yet there has been precious little debate worthy of the name. In fact the alarmists have spent much of their time hurling insults, ad hominem attacks, suppression of speech, termination of miniscule funding, calling for Nuremburg Trials, treating opponents as traitors, etc. The professionals in this group remain silent about these insults in apparent silent support of the nastiness and unprofessional conduct. This is not a debate, this is not science, this is bullying. This suggests there are weaknesses in the global warming theory which can't stand scrutiny.

One explanation of this may be described by John Ray (M.A., Ph.D.), writing from Brisbane, Australia: "The Holy Grail for most scientists is not truth but research grants. And the global warming scare has produced a huge downpour of money for research. Any mystery why so many scientists claim some belief in global warming?"

This is not a scientific debate, it is not even science. It is too many people, some which Ph.D.s, hardwired into the $5 billion annually spent in the US on global warming issues. This amount of government money available each year is enough to alter human behavior and personal ethics for some people.

The nastiness has happened before many times. For example, consider the fate of Dr. William Happer who was dismissed from his position at the Department of Energy. At the time of his firing he was the Director of Energy Research at the DOE, and a past professor of physics at Princeton University with impressive scientific credentials. As described in the June 1993 issue of Physics Today, Happer was fired for his attempt to perform some excellent physics and resolve major uncertainties in national "ozone hole scare" of those days. At the time (and still so) major discrepancies existed between the estimated levels of UV-B radiation and actual measured levels of UV-B. He had proposed a network of UV monitors around the nation to perform the actual measurements and resolve the differences.

Such a program to minimize ozone uncertainties posed a threat to the environmentalists who had promoted ozone hole scare stories about skin cancers, cataracts in animals, and other musings. This proved to be too great a threat to the environmental myths, and Happer was fired. The guy behind the firing was the powerful and unscientific vice-president Al Gore. For the readers of the article in Physics Today, it was intimidating to see the firing of a resourceful scientist, the political suppression of sound science, and the irrelevance of science in environmental policies.

There were many more examples of hostility to such scientists. In a major dustup with Dr. Fred Singer ( misrepresenting his relationship with oceanographer and Al Gore mentor, Roger Revelle, Singer was forced to sue the Gore team for defamation of character which he subsequently won. This is how rough these people are willing to attack their opposition and bend the truth to suit their beliefs. Singer and Revelle had written a mild admonition about global warming. They had made the simple statement that "The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time." This contradicted statements in Al Gore's book "Earth in the Balance", and as a result, Singer (Revelle had died by then) came under attack by the Gore machine.

Mr. Gore had even contacted Ted Koppel in 1994 to look into the skeptics of global warming. It backfired when Koppel concluded "There is some irony in the fact that Vice President Gore---one of the most scientifically literate men to sit in the White House in this century--[is] resorting to political means to achieve what should ultimately be resolved on a purely scientific basis. The measure of good science is neither the politics of the scientist nor the people with whom the scientist associates. It is the immersion of hypotheses into the acid of truth. That's the hard way to do it, but it's the only way that works.

The calls for a debate on global warming are empty. There has been little debate and instead personal attacks, threats, loss of funding, calls for speech suppression, and even Nuremburg Trials. In fact Al Gore has a number of unanswered standing offers to debate the global warming issues. ( This isn't science and it never was. It is naked power politics and very destructive and dangerous in the potential impact on the U.S. energy systems. To the extent that CO2 is the source of nearly all life on Earth, the control of CO2 would be a national nightmare. In the words of Richard Lindzen, the regulatory control of all life would be a bureaucrat's dream. All of this needs to be understood and avoided.



The German chancellor's call for China to do more on climate change has drawn swift criticism from Beijing, which said developed countries had been polluting the skies for much longer than developing countries such as China. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, said the Chinese, like all people, wished "for blue skies, green hills and clear water". But, he pointed out to the visiting Angela Merkel, that the task of reducing emissions in China was tougher than in Germany because it had more people and was still below the growth rate of industrialised countries. He added: "China has taken part of the responsibility for climate change for only 30 years while industrial countries have grown fast for the last 200 years."

Global problem

China is set to overtake the US as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases by 2008. Merkel's remark on climate change comes four months before a scheduled meeting of environmental ministers in Bali, Indonesia, for fresh talks on extending the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. At a June summit chaired by Merkel, G8 leaders agreed to pursue substantial but unspecified cuts in greenhouse gases and work with the UN on a new deal to fight global warming. Kyoto obliges 35 rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but developing nations such as China - which is set to overtake the US by 2008 as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases - are exempted.

Wen said "China's development is an opportunity, not a threat". Dispelling suspicions Merkel said she had attempted to dispel Chinese suspicions that other countries felt threatened by its development and were trying to block that growth. But she said China needed to respect international norms, a nod to recent scandals over tainted or poisonous Chinese exports, rampant copyright piracy, and human rights abuses.

"In our talks, I made clear that every country has the right to development," Merkel said. "But at present there are a great many large countries such as China that are developing fast and there is a need to respect the rules of the game."

She pressed for stronger protection of intellectual property rights and said the ground rules for gathering resources should be the same worldwide, an apparent criticism of China's relations with Sudan. China has sizeable economic interests in Sudan and Beijing has been accused of aiding Khartoum to feed the violence in the country's war-torn Darfur region.

Hacking concerns

Wen also responded to reports in a German magazine that Chinese hackers had infected government ministries, including Merkel's office, with spying programmes. "We in the government took it as a matter of grave concern," he said, adding that China would take "firm and effective action" to prevent hacking attacks. But he also said that "hackers breaking into and sabotaging computers is a problem faced by the entire world".

Merkel also met Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, on Monday and discussed human rights and ways of expanding relations beyond trade. "I pointed out that, especially with the [2008 Beijing] Olympic Games coming up, the world will be looking at China with increased scrutiny," she said. She will head to Japan on Wednesday where she will also address climate change and economic issues.



President George W. Bush has invited leaders of the world's "major economies" to a conference on climate change September 27 and 28 in Washington. In his letter of invitation to 15 national governments plus the European Union and the United Nations, the president said the conference will place "special emphasis" on technology. President Bush said he will address the conference, which will consider how to deal with global climate change after the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012. "At this meeting, we would seek agreement on the process by which the major economies would, by the end of 2008, agree upon a post-2012 framework that could include a long-term global goal, nationally defined mid-term goals and strategies, and sector-based approaches for improving energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Bush wrote. "We expect to place special emphasis on how major economies can, in close cooperation with the private sector, accelerate the development and deployment of clean technologies, a critical component of an effective global approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he wrote.

President Bush has long favored the technology rather than binding emissions limits as the best way to address climate change. The president's preferences run to nuclear power, clean coal, ethanol and other biofuels. The White House said in February that including the 2008 budget request the Bush administration "will have spent $15 billion since 2001 to develop cleaner, cheaper, more efficient, and more reliable energy sources." By contrast, the war in Iraq has cost more than $500 billion to date.

The Bush conference, where the United States will set the agenda, comes three days after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosts an international high-level climate conference just prior to the general debate of the incoming General Assembly. Ban will seek to advance progress towards negotiations on a new global agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions to follow the Kyoto Protocol, but Ban says he will not seek to engage governments in negotiations. Formal negotiations will begin at the annual UN climate conference that will be held this year in Bali, Indonesia in December.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel said that the Bush administration's conference is intended to support, not conflict with, the United Nations' work on climate change. "We feel that this effort is intended to aid the UN process that is ongoing," Stanzel said Friday, "We're pleased to have the support of the secretary-general and the head of the UNFCCC. We expect the results in 2008 from these major economies to contribute to the global agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by 2009. So we think it can enhance that process."

Bush has designated Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to host the conference, which he told invitees is the first of a series of meetings throughout 2008 "to further refine our plans and accelerate our progress on this important challenge." James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will serve as the president's personal representative, and the U.S. delegation will consist of senior officials responsible for economic, energy, and climate policy, Bush said. Invited governments include - Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, plus the European Union and the United Nations.

Some environmentalists say that the Bush climate conference is an effort to deflect international pressure for the United States to accept mandatory greenhouse emissions gas limits, something the president still refuses to do. In response, Stanzel said, "We have always said that we think that this issue should be addressed with developing nations, with the countries that are involved today, that the President invited to this conference." "We think it's an opportunity for those nations and those countries to come together to talk about what we can do in the post-2012 environment to address greenhouse gas emissions; what we can do to advance new technologies to help those developing nations reduce their emissions and help us all have a cleaner environment with a healthy economy."

On May 31, 2007 when Bush first announced his intention to host a climate change conference, UNFCCC chief Yvo de Boer said Connaughton had personally promised him that the president's climate meeting would feed into the United Nations process. At the G8 meeting in Germany in June, Bush agreed with the other G8 leaders for the first time to establish common goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases as part of the United Nations process. Now the world's number two emitter of greenhouse gases, after China, the United States has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandates cuts in the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. President Bush has cited the fact that the protocol does not apply to developing nations such as China and India as a major reason for not backing the protocol, which the United States signed during the Clinton administration.


Rural Australians are climate atheists

Because climate is important to them, rural people know from experience and tradition that climate fluctuations are normal

ABOUT 98 per cent of rural people do not believe climate change exists, according to engineer Steve Posselt. He is paddling a canoe through inland waterways from Brisbane to Adelaide. Mr Posselt, who is delivering a message about the impact of climate change to rural communities on his nine-month adventure, said yesterday the strong anti-climate change beliefs might in part explain the lethargy of conservative politicians to the issue.

"About 98 per cent of adults I've met along the river say there's no such thing," Mr Posselt said. "They think it's just a short-term cycle and everything will soon be back to the way it used to be. "I've suggested to some councillors that maybe they should learn about the issue but they just say it's a load of crap. "They say, 'how can scientists get that right when they can't even tell us when it's going to rain'."

Mr Posselt, an Australian Water Association convener, sensed the beliefs were tied to the inherent conservatism of bush people who liked to work things out for themselves. The exceptions were schoolteachers and children.

Mr Posselt said his trek, which had taken him to Wentworth, at the confluence of the Murray and Darling rivers near the Victorian border, had also taught him that the level of water harvesting in the system was unsustainable. "There's not enough understanding of science behind things," he said. "To a man they think all you have to do is divert the Clarence River inland and everything will be all right. "It's just like in Queensland you get people saying the old Bradfield scheme (of diverting rivers inland) should go ahead. "Even people on the land do not make enough of the link between what you do on the surface and how this affects underground water supplies."

Four months into his trip Mr Posselt has so far walked 1011km, dragging his wheeled canoe, and paddled more than 1300km. Wentworth is 590km northwest of Melbourne and was once NSW's busiest inland port. He said he would be able to paddle the rest of the way to Adelaide.



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowleging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

BBC news chiefs attack plans for climate change campaign

It shows how much pressure they have been under that the Beeb wants to return to impartiality

Two of the BBC's most senior news and current affairs executives attacked the corporation's plans yesterday for a Comic Relief-style day of programming on environmental issues, saying it was not the broadcaster's job to preach to viewers. The event, understood to have been 18 months in development, would see stars such as Ricky Gervais and Jonathan Ross take part in a "consciousness raising" event, provisionally titled Planet Relief, early next year.

But, speaking at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival yesterday, Newsnight's editor, Peter Barron, and the BBC's head of television news, Peter Horrocks, attacked the plan, which also seems to contradict the corporation's guidelines. Asked whether the BBC should campaign on issues such as climate change, Mr Horrocks said: "I absolutely don't think we should do that because it's not impartial. It's not our job to lead people and proselytise about it." Mr Barron said: "It is absolutely not the BBC's job to save the planet. I think there are a lot of people who think that, but it must be stopped."

Planet Relief appears to contradict BBC guidelines on impartiality. In June a BBC-endorsed report set out 12 principles on impartiality, warning that the broadcaster "has many public purposes of both ambition and merit - but joining campaigns to save the planet is not one of them". A BBC spokeswoman said: "This idea is still in development and the intention would be to debate the issue and in no way campaign on a single point of view."

Meanwhile, in a session at the festival yesterday titled How Green is TV, the documentary producer Martin Durkin attacked the BBC as stifling debate on climate change. Durkin, whose film The Great Global Warming Swindle attracted a large number of complaints when it was shown on Channel 4 this year, said: "The thing that disturbs me most is that the BBC has such a leviathan position ... that if it decides that it is going to adopt climate change as a moral purpose, I have got a lot of trouble with that. I don't think it is the role of the BBC to spend my money on a moral purpose."


Key Lesson from the NASA temperature-record debacle

The key lesson here is not that NASA GISS or Jim Hansen or anyone else was intentionally making mistakes, but that in complex data compilations and analyses, no matter how diligent you try to be, mistakes work there way in. This is why it is important to be as open as possible as a scientist about what you did and how you did it, i.e. to make full disclosure of all your data and methods. This allows others to replicate your work and helps assure that science moves forward on the best possible footing, and that policy-makers operate off of factual data and not belief systems.

It is for this reason that it is of the gravest concern that leading climate scientists and organizations, up to and including even the IPCC, are still failing to make full disclosure regarding many of the data that they spin into the public domain. Stephen McIntyre's earlier work that exploded the myth of the hockey-stick temperature curve should have been all that was needed for politicians and agencies to enforce full disclosure of all data that is related to public climate policy formulation. Alas, McIntyre's revelations were not adequate to overcome the vested interests and bureaucratic inertia of the responsible persons, and so now he has had to repeat the dose of education with his second discovery regarding the flawed GISS temperature data. How many flaws is this unpaid investigator going to have to discover before someone establishes the needed climate audit agency (perhaps as an organ of the Asia-Pacific climate partnership)?

Policymakers and voters, take note

Surely there are other problems in the variety of temperature data collected and compiled on local, regional, national and international scales. Just in the past few days, there's been news about defects in all three of the global temperature datasets upon which the entire climate scare is founded. McIntyre and McKitrick have taken apart the Hansen GISS dataset as discussed above (, of which there's always been suspicion; another researcher has accused Jones (who masterminds the Hadley/CRU dataset) of falsification of his results (; and now NCDC, after exposure of the unsuitable heat-island locations of many of its US temperature stations, has responded by withdrawing from the public domain the list of station locations, which had previously been public for years, vacuously citing "privacy considerations ("


Errors of the sort described herein may sometimes lead to either an underestimate or overestimate of temperature trends, whereas other errors may have little impact at all. But one thing is certain, errors are undoubtedly present in all large, complex datasets. In reality, it is impossible to develop the one and only U.S. average temperature or THE global average temperature. There are simply too many confounding factors that cannot be accounted for. Policy makers also need to understand that one certainly cannot project temperature or climate trend decades or centuries into the future, however stridently the CGM modelers promulgate their wares.

So, next time you encounter a breathless announcement that we have set another "all-time record" high temperature, first realize that there is always a level of uncertainty in both what is being measured and how it is being compiled and interpreted. And second, reflect upon the fact that such records have absolutely no meaning unless they take account of the natural cyclicities that are present in all climatic data.

Has the earth been in a modern warming cycle coming out of the Little Ice Age? Yes. Is it therefore significant that any given year should be a couple of hundredths of degrees warmer or cooler , give or take, from some other nearby year in the record? Of course not . Unless, that is, someone is trying to sell you something, to con you, to raise taxes, to increase the reach of the state, or is simply trying to be elected President of the United States - or perhaps even all of the above.

More here

"Consensus"? What "Consensus"? Among Climate Scientists, The Debate Is Not Over


It is often said that there is a scientific "consensus" to the effect that climate change will be "catastrophic" and that, on this question, "the debate is over". The present paper will demonstrate that the claim of unanimous scientific "consensus" was false, and known to be false, when it was first made; that the trend of opinion in the peer-reviewed journals and even in the UN's reports on climate is moving rapidly away from alarmism; that, among climate scientists, the debate on the causes and extent of climate change is by no means over; and that the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature conclusively demonstrates that, to the extent that there is a "consensus", that "consensus" does not endorse the notion of "catastrophic" climate change.

The origin of the claim of "consensus"

David Miliband, the Environment Minister of the United Kingdom, was greeted by cries of "Rubbish!" when he told a conference on climate change at the Holy See in the spring of 2007 that the science of climate and carbon dioxide was simple and settled. Yet Miliband was merely reciting a mantra that has been widely peddled by politicians such as Al Gore and political news media such as the BBC, which has long since abandoned its constitutional obligation of objectivity on this as on most political subjects, and has adopted a policy of not allowing equal air-time to opponents of the imagined "consensus".

The claim of "consensus" rests almost entirely on an inaccurate and now-outdated single-page comment in the journal Science entitled The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (Oreskes, 2004). In this less than impressive "head-count" essay, Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science with no qualifications in climatology, defined the "consensus" in a very limited sense, quoting as follows from IPCC (2001) -

"Human activities . are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents . that absorb or scatter radiant energy. . most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."

The limited definition of "consensus"

Oreskes' definition of "consensus" falls into two parts. First, she states that humankind is altering the composition of the atmosphere. This statement is uncontroversial: for measurement has established that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen over the past 250 years to such an extent that CO2 now constitutes almost 0.01 per cent more of the atmosphere than in the pre-industrial era. However, on the question whether that alteration has any detrimental climatic significance, there is no consensus, and Oreskes does not state that there is.

The second part of Oreskes' definition of the "consensus" is likewise limited in its scope. Since global temperatures have risen by about 0.4C in the past 50 years, humankind - according to Oreskes' definition of "consensus" - may have accounted for more than 0.2C.

Applying that rate of increase over the present century, and raising it by half to allow for the impact of fast-polluting developing countries such as China, temperature may rise by 0.6C in the present century, much as it did in the past century, always provided that the unprecedented (and now-declining) solar activity of the past 70 years ceases to decline and instead continues at its recent record level.

There is indeed a consensus that humankind is putting large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; that some warming has resulted; and that some further warming can be expected. However, there is less of a consensus about whether most of the past half-century's warming is anthropogenic, which is why, rightly, Oreskes is cautious enough to circumscribe her definition of the "consensus" about the anthropogenic contribution to warming over the past half-century with the qualifying adjective "likely".

There is no scientific consensus on how much the world has warmed or will warm; how much of the warming is natural; how much impact greenhouse gases have had or will have on temperature; how sea level, storms, droughts, floods, flora, and fauna will respond to warmer temperature; what mitigative steps - if any - we should take; whether (if at all) such steps would have sufficient (or any) climatic effect; or even whether we should take any steps at all.

Campaigners for climate alarm state or imply that there is a scientific consensus on all of these things, when in fact there is none. They imply that Oreskes' essay proves the consensus on all of these things. Al Gore, for instance, devoted a long segment of his film An Inconvenient Truth to predicting the imminent meltdown of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice-sheets, with a consequent global increase of 20 feet (6 m) in sea level that would flood Manhattan, Shanghai, Bangladesh, and other coastal settlements. He quoted Oreskes' essay as proving that all credible climate scientists were agreed on the supposed threat from climate change. He did not point out, however, that Oreskes' definition of the "consensus" on climate change did not encompass, still less justify, his alarmist notions.

Let us take just one example. The UN's latest report on climate change, which is claimed as representing and summarizing the state of the scientific "consensus" insofar as there is one, says that the total contribution of ice-melt from Greenland and Antarctica to the rise in sea level over the whole of the coming century will not be the 20 feet luridly illustrated by Al Gore in his movie, but just 2 inches.

Gore's film does not represent the "consensus" at all. Indeed, he exaggerates the supposed effects of ice-melt by some 12,000 per cent. The UN, on the other hand, estimates the probability that humankind has had any influence on sea level at little better than 50:50. The BBC, of course, has not headlined, or even reported, the UN's "counter-consensual" findings. Every time the BBC mentions "climate change", it shows the same tired footage of a glacier calving into the sea - which is what glaciers do every summer.

What Oreskes said

Oreskes (2004) said she had analyzed - "928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords `climate change'." She concluded that 75% of the papers either explicitly or implicitly accepted the "consensus" view; 25% took no position, being concerned with palaeoclimate rather than today's climate; and -

"Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position. . This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect. . Our grandchildren will surely blame us if they find that we understood the reality of anthropogenic climate change and failed to do anything about it. . There is a consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change."

It is not clear whether Oreskes' analysis was peer-reviewed, since it was presented as an essay and not as a scientific paper. However, there were numerous serious errors, effectively negating her conclusion, which suggest that the essay was either not reviewed at all or reviewed with undue indulgence by scientists who agreed with Oreskes' declared prejudice - shared by the editors of Science - in favour of the alarmist position.


Sometimes "saving the planet" is even more harmful

There is a certain amount of amusement in watching the Greenies trip all over themselves trying to figure out what they can do to "save" Mother Earth. After all: the planet is dying! Now another one of their more radical exponents is complicating the simplistic views that Greens often love to embrace. For instance, they like the simple message that cars are bad and walking is good. Walking is natural where cars are evil since they are man-made. So save the planet and walk instead.

But Greenie Chris Goodall argues, in his book How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, that the choice isn't so simple. That is only one side of the equation. People know driving emits carbon but assume walking is carbon free. But it isn't. Goodall notes that if you walk you burn calories and calories need to be replenished or you die (which is the ultimate green solution). He says that if you walk 3 miles you burn 180 calories. If you replenish that with a piece of beef that would require 100 grams of meat.

A driving that distance, he says, would add about .9kg of carbon to the atmosphere. But the 100g of beef, he contends adds 3.5 kg of emission. Walking emits more carbon than driving. He says: "The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better." People forgot that walking consumes energy which requires replenishment which is also carbon based.

The Times of London notes that there are many such problems for the environmentalist.
Catching a diesel train is now twice as polluting as travelling by car for an average family, the Rail Safety and Standards Board admitted recently. Paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic because of the extra energy needed to manufacture and transport, the Government says.

The train issue is interesting because government policies are often based the simplistic slogans of the Greens. If cars are evil then mass transit is good, or at least less evil. So there has been a tendency to penalize driving and subsidize mass transit. But, in the case of these trains, that is actually increasing environmental impact not decreasing it.

It also appears that organic is not helpful either, at least not when it comes to cattle. Cows belch and belching releases methane so cows are killing Mother Earth. But the Times notes, "Organic beef is the most damaging because organic cattle emit more methane."

Mr. Goodall suggests a solution: "Don't buy anything from the supermarket or anything that's travelled too far." I suppose we are to forage like squirrels.

Alas Mr. Goodall still thinks life is simple when it comes to the distance food traveled. Apparently he assumes that food from a distance is more carbon intensive than local food. That is not necessarily the case. Mr. Goodall is only looking at that which is seen -- the miles traveled by the imported food.

James McWilliams, in the New York Times, says this concept of "food miles" "joins recycling, biking to work, and driving a hybrid as a realistic way that we can, as individuals shrink our carbon footprint and be good stewards of the environment." Apparently Mr. McWilliams, in promoting biking to work, is unaware of the point Mr. Goodall is making. But that's fair. Mr. Goodall seems to be oblivious to the point Mr. McWilliams makes regarding food miles.

McWilliams refers to a study undertaken by Lincoln University in New Zealand. They tried to look at a broader picture than just the simplistic miles traveled equation. They expanded,

...their equations to include other energy-consuming aspects of production - what economists call "factor inputs and externalities" - like water use, harvesting techniques, fertilizer outlays, renewable energy applications, means of transportation (and the kind of fuel used), the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed during photosynthesis, disposal of packaging, storage procedures and dozens of other cultivation inputs.

Once the broader picture were put into context the picture changes substantially.

Most notably, they found that lamb raised on New Zealand's clover-choked pastures and shipped 11,000 miles by boat to Britain produced 1,520 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per ton while British lamb produced 6,280 pounds of carbon dioxide per ton, in part because poorer British pastures force farmers to use feed. In other words, it is four times more energy-efficient for Londoners to buy lamb imported from the other side of the world than to buy it from a producer in their backyard. Similar figures were found for dairy products and fruit.

In reality the food mile scam is a combination of antiquated protectionism and counterproductive mercantilism. Many Greens would do well to read the essay by Frederic Bastiat, That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen. Understanding this one essay undoes a lot of economic fallacies.

The food miles are easy to see. That which is harder to see is the different kinds of input for agricultural products around the world. Miles are easy to measure. Total input is hard to discern, especially for the layman. Often the simplest statements in economics are riddled with falsehoods. There are two sides to the economic coin and proponents of new programs tend only to look at the benefits and never the costs. And if they do consider costs they do so in only the most cursory of ways.

For instance when a government has a "make work" project they focus only on the jobs created. Those are easy to see. The funds, however, came from the productive economy reducing demand there. The result is a decline in employment. At best the state has merely rearranged things, creating nothing in the process. In truth, it tends to produce something people didn't want as much, at the expense of something they wanted more, making the consumers worse off on average.

Food miles are a similar myth. The carbon reduction obtained by limiting miles traveled is seen easily. That this forces production away from more efficient producers to less efficient producers, increasing the carbon impact along the way, is far more difficult to see. It gets ignored and replaced with the simplistic sloganeering that is so prevalent among the Green Left.

Too much environmental slogans are based on one-sided thinking, focusing only on the most obvious costs and ignoring the benefits. Then they flip-flop when it comes to their solutions at which point they concentrate only on the benefits while ignoring the costs.



Comment from India

Inquisitors propagating the theory of climate change cannot do today what had been done to Galileo. We recently went to see Bertolt Brecht's Galileo, which provides interesting parallels between the last large paradigm shift about Man's relationship to the stars, and the current one, in the new theory of cosmoclimatology discussed in my last column. The scientific establishment was wedded to a theory which the celestial observations of the scientific sceptics Copernicus and Galileo contradicted. The Inquisition tried to suppress the heretics, by excommunication (Copernicus) or silencing them through showing them the instruments of torture (Galileo).

Today, the peer reviewed process of funding and validation of scientific research in climatology is equally controlled by the modern equivalent of the Collegium Romanum (the Vatican's Institute of Research), the Inter-government Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). They in turn answer to the equivalent of the Inquisition, the Green ideologists, who, mercifully, can only torment through derision or denying the heretics research funding, and not the frightening instruments of torture.

But, even the Collegium Romanum was imbued by the rational scientific spirit and confirmed Galileo's discoveries in his lifetime, though it took the Pope till 1993 to formally recognise the validity of Galileo's work. Finally, in both cases the new theories were dismissed by the theologians as they seemed to downgrade the primacy of God's agents (human beings) in the universe.

Fortunately, it is much more difficult to suppress the scientific enterprise today. A recent seriously flawed paper (Lockwood and Froelich, Proc. R. Soc. A, 25 May, 2007) hyped in the media seeks to reinforce the CO2 theory. It argues that, whilst the sun had an effect on the climate during most of the 20th century, since 1988 its activity has declined but global warming has continued.

However, the paper's data stop in 2000. In fact, the global temperature record shows that, when the sun was active the world warmed, and since "it peaked in the late 1980's within a few years global warming stalled" (Whitehouse: "The truth is we can't ignore the sun," Sunday Telegraph, July 15, 2007).

When the CERN CLOUD experiment is completed in 2010 and (hopefully) vindicates Svensmark's cosmoclimatology theory, the CO2 theory of climate change will be buried. It will be recognised that humans cannot control the climate and must adapt as they have done for millennia to its continual changes. Hence it is ironic that many economists (and policymakers) base their climate change policy recommendations on acceptance of the CO2 theory upheld by the IPCC as the irrefutable scientific truth, the latest example being the Stern Review put out by the UK government.

There is nothing particularly novel about the cost-benefit methodology which is used, nor about the model used to incorporate the scientific judgments, as William Nordhaus (the author of the most serious previous study of the economics of climate change) has noted in a recent review (W D Nordhaus: "The 'Stern Review' of the Economics of Climate Change," NBER WP. 12741, December 2006). What is novel is its conclusion that, without drastic immediate action to curb greenhouse emissions, the world faces economic catastrophe "on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century".

This is a dramatically different conclusion from earlier models of climate change (Nordhaus: Managing the Global Commons, MIT, 1994; Nordhaus and Boyer: Warming the World, MIT, 2000) that find that the "optimal climate change" policies involve modest reductions in emissions in the near future. The reason for the contrary Stern results is the near zero social rate of discount used, representing a contentious ethical judgment of the weight placed on the consumption of future relative to present generations.

Apart from the "pure" time preference component of the discount rate, there is also the component that depends upon the fact that, with ongoing economic growth, future generations are going to be richer than the current generation. Hence a rupee accruing to the richer future generation should be less valuable than that accruing to the current poorer generation. How much less valuable depends upon the inter-generational distributional judgment. The discount rate crucially determines how far future costs and benefits need to be counted. If the discount rate is close to zero, the whole of the infinite future stream of costs and benefits becomes relevant.

Hence, the highly speculative economic damage the Stern Review adduces from rising temperatures two centuries from now can be valued equally with any economic costs we have to currently incur to mitigate them. But, as Nordhaus rightly notes, this low discount rate can lead to absurd results. It would imply trading off a large fraction of today's income to increase the income stream of those living two centuries from now by a tiny fraction. For, with a near zero discount rate, this tiny increase in the future generations income stream is cumulated to near infinity.

By contrast, the estimates I made for the Planning Commission in the early 1970s (see Lal: Prices for Planning, HEB, 1980) based on the same methodology as the Stern Review, but with more plausible parameters, yielded a social discount rate of 7 per cent for India. At this discount rate, the present value of Re 1 accruing 75 years from today would be worth nothing, making most of the speculative economic costs and benefits, and the apocalyptic predictions of the Stern Review, irrelevant for India.

This does not downgrade the serious current environmental problems caused by rapid growth in India and China. Anyone who has choked in the fetid air of Chungking, Xian, Beijing or Delhi will know that no climate scares are needed to provide a case for dealing with their unhealthy air pollution. Similarly India and China face a growing water crisis irrespective of what is happening to global CO2 emissions. Subsidies to energy and water use need to be removed for efficiency reasons.

Whilst, given the political instability and growing political determination of supplies of fossil fuels from the countries where they are concentrated, it is sensible to diversify energy sources. Both nuclear power and India's coal reserves provide more secure alternatives. Bio fuels, by contrast, have the disadvantage of competing for limited land with essentials like food.

However, the sun, which most probably controls the climate, also offers the backstop technology which will provide the unbounded energy for India's continuing economic growth. In thinking about all these economic issues, the changing climate is a red herring.



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowleging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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, August 28, 2007

Miserable, Cold, Wet Summer In France

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

Kind of interesting. France has had the third worst summer in recorded history, only 1954 and 1977 were more miserable. Most of the nation has been much wetter and considerably cooler than historical averages.
It's official: France's rainy, grey and generally cold summer has been the worst for the past 30 years, the weather service said Friday, but tourist arrivals were the highest in five years. July and August were wet across two-thirds of the country while the Mediterranean region was too dry, said Frederic Nathan, meteorologist at Meteo France. "Yes we can say that it was a rotten summer," said Nathan. But the summers of 1954 and 1977 were worse, he added..

..Rainfall in northwestern France reached record levels, with cities like Le Havre registering 21 days of rain in July, beating the previous record of 16 in 1980. In the northern city of Caen in Normandy, the weather service registered 592 hours of sunshine from May 1st to August 21, well below the average of 809 hours. Temperatures on the Atlantic coast have been on average two or three degrees Celsius below seasonal averages, said Jean-Marc Le Gallic from Meteo France.

Britain has also had a miserably wet and cold summer. Interesting, no?

The Return of the Old Gods: A Challenge to Green Evangelicals

"And the Lord spoke all these words:
I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
(Exodus 20: 1-3)

Their names are Legion, for they are many; the Romans knew them as Juno, or Diana, or Ops. Freyr, Gerd, Idun, and Jord ruled the Norse, Dziewona and Mokosh were their names to the Slavs. The Hawaiians had Papa, the Aztecs Coatlicue, the Egyptians had Geb and Nut. The Celts had many: Cerunno, Cyhiraet, Druantia, Maeva. The ancient Canaanites had their Baal, who would cause so much trouble for the Israelites. They are all gods and goddesses of the earth, of nature, the old rulers of the ancient world. Far older than Christianity, older even than Hinduism, worship of nature gods is a cultural element shared by every race and tribe of Man since before recorded history. They are the gods of the worldly, the gods of the Fall.

Their demands have differed, their gifts have traditionally been good fortune, magic and fertility. Often earth gods have doubled as fertility gods, and sex has often been an integral part of Gaia worship. Their rule over the world of Man lasted a long, long time, stretching back into the mists of prehistory. That rule was broken, perhaps, on Mt. Sinai when an old man trudged down from the peak carrying stone tablets and castigating a people who had made for themselves a graven image. Carved onto those tablets was the Command quoted above, an admonition against the old gods of this Earth. To make the matter beyond dispute, it was further commanded of those ancient Hebrews:

"Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live. Any woman using unnatural powers or secret arts is to be put to death." (Exodus 22:18)

Those secret arts were the magical practices of the nature worshipping people. Much later, Saul, the first King of Israel, would be cursed with madness for consulting such a practitioner.

The end of the reign of the natural gods may have come when the Man of Galilee cast the demon Legion into swine, or when He was put to death on a tree, or when He rose from the dead.

It may have come when the Emperor Constantine dreamed his momentous vision of the crucifix with the words "in hoc signo vinces," which roughly translate "in this sign you will conquer." It may have come at every juncture, with the blood of every martyr who preached to the worshippers of Legion, of every toiler in a savage wilderness who built and prayed and fought to survive amidst those who would kill him. But the end came, and the old gods crept back into the realm of shadows to await their opportunity.

In 1890 Sir James Frazer published the first volume of The Golden Bough. Building on the myth-collecting work of anthropologists such as Lewis Morgan, Frazer made a serious effort to compare and classify the details of disparate myths originating in very different cultures worldwide. He concluded that mythology was a type of primitive science, an attempt to explain the universe and man's place in it. This was a break from the Enlightenment view that mythmaking was an ignorant superstition, unworthy of the man of reason. According to Jacques Barzun in his book From Dawn to Decadence:

"For 200 years myths had been dismissed as ignorant superstitions, now they were seen as expressions of important thought. That they were richly symbolic comforted both the Symbolist poets and the critics of materialism in science, while the rehabilitation of the primitive mind encouraged the renouncers of civilization. The western mind was experiencing one of its attacks of primitivism." [emphasis added]

This primitivism had been around for some time; certainly it can be seen in Thoreau`s Walden, and philosophically it lies at the heart of Rousseau`s utopian vision with the concept of the "noble savage" free from the encumbrances of modernity. Based on a denial of the concept of Original Sin, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, argued at the beginning of the 18th century that Man is in a far happier and freer state when not shackled by the "arbitrary" rules and customs of civilization. It was further advanced at that time by Sir Richard Steele, and can be seen to a limited degree in John Locke and later 18th century Philosophes. Certainly the celebrity of Benjamin Franklin is attributable in no small part to his "primitive" background as a humble "Quaker" colonist and yet brilliant man of science. (Franklin had been raised an Episcopalian, and was probably a Deist as an adult, but many in Europe assumed him a Quaker.) It was thought that Franklin's intelligence was born of his "savage" upbringing in the hinterland.

Primitivism and Utopianism lie at the heart of modern Liberalism, and most certainly are the roots of the Green movement; many Greens want to return the Earth to a mythical pristine paradise, to expunge the "plague" of industrialism and bring back the forgotten Eden which we have despoiled.

This Primitivism flies in the face of the Christian tradition of rationalism, the heritage of Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, William of Occam, Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, etc., and of the older Jewish tradition of scholarship and philosophy, as well as many of the Greek philosophers such as Aristotle. This Primitivism would find a home in the 19th century works of Nietzche with his belief in the self-willed Superman and his rejection of the intellect in favor of emotionalism. It would find a home in the psychological interests of Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung, who would seek after the unconscious "primitive" non-rational parts of the human psyche while curiously rejecting the God of the Bible. It would root itself in the irrational faith in Socialism that permeated the 19th century, a faith with no empirical basis. It would be at the heart of Nazism and Fascism, a belief in a fantasy golden age of the Volk, one ruled by the old gods who gave power to the Nation and who commanded the sacrifice of blood. It would be at the heart of the strange beliefs of Marxists who faithfully awaited the worker`s paradise.....

The goddess movement, such a large part of Wicca, leads naturally to Ecofeminism, the fusion of feminist thought with radical environmentalism. In short, earth worship is at the core of the modern environmentalist movement. Gaia Theory draws its name from the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth, and there is a touch of mysticism involved; the theory is that all life and the inorganic parts of the Earth are hopelessly interrelated to the point of forming a sort of berlife. Gaia theory is a major factor in the thinking of many environmentalists, and consequently looms large in the whole Global Warming debate.

So, too does socialism, that 19th century worship of blind economic processes, and the fusion of the two is called Ecosocialism. It is interesting to note the many socialists are involved in the "save the planet movement" -- most notably Mikhail Gorbachev, former dictator of the defunct Soviet Union. Why, one may ask, would environmentalism appeal to socialists? Every action of a human being has some affect on the environment. People must eat, which means someone must use land for farming, people must drink clean water, which means disturbing lakes, rivers, and wetlands, people must breathe which means exhaling the evil greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. By the very act of existence, a person necessarily disturbs his or her environment.

A doctrine which advocates the radical reorganization of civilization must find some impetus to compel people to make those radical changes. The promise of a future utopia was not enough to convince people to allow the communist yoke to remain around their necks, so the threat of extinction is being employed. We simply MUST force obedience to government if we are to survive! ....

Now the time has come for the environment, and Environmentalism is the perfect vehicle for promoting the materialist worldview. The sea change from conservationism to activist environmentalism occurred as a result of Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring. Before Carson, conservationists sought to preserve lands and forests, but the success of Carson's crusade to ban DDT -- which condemned millions of people in Third World countries to death by malaria -- led to the birth of a new movement, one which would use the courts, legal machinations, and traditional activist techniques to achieve specific environmental goals.

With the first Earth Day in 1970 the Left had a movement uniquely poised to damage free market economies worldwide, and both socialists and neo-pagans swarmed into the movement. The collapse of the Eastern Block in the `80's, followed by the rise of Global Warming theory, gave great impetus to those who believe in a command economy, as this movement had the means, the emotional appeal, and could be manipulated to produce the desired ends; the radical reorganization of Humanity.

So what we have witnessed in the Global Warming debate is a perfect storm of anti-Christian philosophies parading as science. Materialists, Socialists, and Left-leaning types found common cause with neo-pagans and anti-Christian spirituality to advocate a New World Order dressed as a movement to save the planet. A friendly media has nurtured and supported it, and it has advanced through a string of sacraments; separating trash, installing low wattage light bulbs, driving hybrid vehicles, etc. frightened by end-of-the-world scenarios by the prophets of doom while having the Green ethos inculcated in them through letter-writing campaigns and "Earth friendly" checklists. The Environmentalists, heavily financed by left-wing think tanks and environmental-activist organizations, are hurrying to push through Draconian emission standards and to stifle any debate-and that debate is plentiful, indeed.

This is not settled science, nor are scientists in agreement about this matter. Increasingly it is becoming obvious that the 1degree F warming we have witnessed in the last century is related to solar cycles. Many scientists have disagreed with this notion of Anthropogenic Global Warming from the beginning; we had the Statement by Atmospheric Scientists, The Oregon Petition, the Leipzig Petiton, and the Heidelberg Appeal. The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has a long list of scientists who have changed from believers into skeptics.

In fact, the consensus we are told exists among scientists appears to be largely hot air. Even Roger Revelle, one of the fathers of Global Warming theory and the man much touted by Al Gore in his mockumentary, came to, well, not disavow his theory, but to dismiss it as not any sort of credible threat to Mankind before he passed away. The reality is that a large body of science supports a different interpretation of the amazing 1degree rise in temperature; mainly, that normal cycles are at work. The Sun has been more active with extraordinary sunspot activity. A more active sun suggests a warmer sun, and a more active sun means a stronger solar wind to broom away cosmic rays, which means fewer clouds to reflect sunlight. Since the solar cycle has peaked the Earth`s albedo has increased, suggesting that Heinrick Svensmark`s theory about cosmic rays is correct....

Which brings us to the matter of Christian Environmentalism. The principal argument by Evangelicals is that the science is settled, that Man is causing an environmental catastrophe, and that, in the interest of being good stewards of God's creation, we should be active in keeping the Earth pristine. A number of Evangelical leaders have issued a statement calling for action on Global Warming, and have created an Evangelical environmental network. They base their thinking on Genesis 1:28-29:

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

Note that it says be fruitful and multiply, as well as replenish the earth and subdue it. It in no way mentions maintaining the Earth or saving it. In short, it does not call man to be God, and exercise Divine control for the sake of the natural world; on the contrary, it calls for Man to expand and improve things for man's benefit.

Environmentalist Christians are in a state of error in that they have placed their trust in the powers of Man rather than the absolute control of God. They rightly believe that we should not despoil nature, but this comes out of an arrogant belief in the divine powers of Man, while ignoring the fact that God is in control of things. The salvation of souls is the purpose of life, not the preservation of the lesser parts of creation, and environmentalist Christians have confused the issue, believing they are doing the Will of God when they are ultimately feeding their own egos......

This Green Evangelical attempt at "relevancy," this tossing of the ecumenical religious salad with a heavy dollop of green goddess dressing is more in line with the old-line liberal churches that long ago shook hands with the devil of Modernism. This is a turning away from the very principles on which Evangelicalism was founded. This is serving the creature over the Creator.

The Books of Daniel and Revelations both make it quite plain that environmental disasters come from the Almighty as punishment for Sin, and Christians are to have faith that God is in control. God was in control during Noah's flood, in the environmental plagues of Egypt, in the workings of Elijah, in the great storms and snake bites which plagued the early disciples. Biblically these things are from the Lord, yet Christian environmentalists refuse to accept the notion that God is firmly in charge. In many ways, this movement sets itself up in opposition to God`s purposes. In the Old Testament, God was quite severe when Israel worshipped strange gods; He made them wander in the desert for 40 years when they made a golden calf to worship as they were coming out of Egypt, and he exiled them for 70 years to Babylon when they worshipped the nature god Baal. He exiled them for 1,882 years for their acceptance of Pan Hellenism.

In the New Testament Jesus stated "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Environmentalism glorifies another god, an ancient serpent of the earth, one whose rule was broken with the coming of the Messiah. God is not amused by the acceptance of strange gods before Him. Why do the Green Evangelicals believe otherwise?

More here

Chickengreens of the upper crust

Since I've done my bit this morning to foster undifferentiated anxiety over global climate change, I feel that I have earned some skeptic-offsets that I can apply to bashing the chickengreens -- rich people who demand enormous sacrifices from not-rich people so as to reduce anthropogenic global warming, while dumping tons of carbon themselves to travel without having to rub elbows with the Great Unwashed. If you have access to today's Wall Street Journal, read "Living Large While Being Green" in today's "Wealth Report" column. If you do not have access, enjoy this fair use excerpt:
It's not easy being green -- especially if you're rich. With their growing fleets of yachts, jets and cars, and their sprawling estates, today's outsized wealthy have also become outsized polluters. There are now 10,000 private jets swarming American skies, all burning more than 15 times as much fuel per passenger as commercial planes. The summer seas are increasingly crowded with megayachts swallowing up to 80 gallons of fuel an hour.

Yet with the green movement in vogue, the rich are looking for ways to compensate for their carbon-dioxide generation, which is linked to global warming, without crimping their style. Some are buying carbon "offsets" for their private-jet flights, which help fund alternate-energy technologies such as windmills, or carbon dioxide-eating greenery such as trees. Others are installing ocean-monitoring equipment on their yachts. And a few are building green-certified mansions, complete with solar-heated indoor swimming pools....

Others say the efforts are little more than window-dressing, designed to ease the guilt of the wealthy or boost their status among an increasingly green elite. Environmentalists say that if the rich really wanted to help the environment, they would stop flying on private jets, live in smaller homes, and buy kayaks instead of yachts. "Carbon offsets and these other things are feel-good solutions," says Lester Brown, founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute. "I'm always interested in people who buy a carbon offset for their jet to fly between their four big homes. These kinds of programs postpone more meaningful action."

Either way, an increasing number of companies are launching programs designed to help the rich live large while staying green., a private jet service, plans to start a program in early September in partnership with the Carbon Fund. After they take a trip, customers will get a statement on their bills telling them how much carbon dioxide their flight emitted and what it would cost to buy offsets from the fund. The offsets are a bargain compared with the flights: A round-trip private-jet flight between Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Boston costs about $20,000. The offsets for the 13 metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted would cost about $74, the company says.

V1 Jets International, a jet charter company, rolled out its "Green Card" program that it says accentuates "the positive effect your flight emissions will have on the environment." The company calculates the total emissions from the trip and then buys a carbon offset from the Carbon Fund. "From a jet perspective, we have a responsibility to look after the damage that these planes do," says Andrew Zarrow, V1's president. The company also has created technologies designed to make flights more efficient by selling seats on "deadleg" trips -- flights that are returning empty from one-way trips.

A fully loaded Gulfstream G400 burns 100 gallons of fuel per passenger per hour. The comparable figure for a Boeing 777 is 6 gallons. Per hour, the Gulfstream dumps one ton of CO2 per passenger, compared to 0.06 tons for the Boeing. If you believe that incremental CO2 is driving changes in our climate which may lead to catastrophe, then there is simply no defense for routinely traveling by private jet.

Look, it is wonderful to fly by private jet, but it is also entirely unnecessary. Yes, celebrities particularly will bleat that it is uniquely burdensome for them to fly commercial, but that is basically hogwash. Twenty years ago one used to see celebrities and other wealthy people in the first class cabins of scheduled commercial flights. Only the ultra-rich had their own jets. Today, the fractional jet business has made private jet travel affordable for the merely wealthy. People spend the money for the extravagance because it is so much more pleasant and convenient than commercial travel. But that is all it is -- pleasant and convenient. Surely that is not a reason to destroy the world?

As Glenn Reynolds put it a few days ago, it would be much easier to believe that CO2 emissions have led to a crisis if the people who are most vocal in promoting that idea acted as if they believed it. One way they could do that is to buy offsets and not fly on private jets. The two actions, after all, are actually and morally independent. The linking of offsets to indulgence is either self-deceptive or propagandistic, but it is not logical or moral.



By David Henderson

1. A flawed process

The Stern Review on the economics of climate change has given rise to a spirited professional debate. My purpose here is not so much to extend that debate as to comment on a related and wider topic, namely, the questionable treatment of climate change issues by governments across the world. The Review is best seen in context, and part of that context now is the massive Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since the Review appeared in final form, much though not the whole of AR4 has seen the light of day; and in particular, all three Summaries for Policymakers (SPMs), one for each of the IPCC's three Working Groups, are now in the public domain.

The whole of the Report is due to appear by November 2007. Altogether, AR4 may well run to 3,000 pages, and some 2,500 experts were apparently involved in preparing it: I refer to this array of persons as the IPCC network. A related document to be noted, since it formed the point of departure for AR4 as for its predecessor, is the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), commissioned by Working Group III and published in 2000.

Both the Stern Review and AR4 form part of a much wider picture. They are recent and important contributions to a large-scale worldwide continuing process which goes back over 20 years. Within it, governments are informing themselves about issues relating to climate change, defining and reviewing possible courses of action to deal with it, and shaping policies accordingly.

I have come to believe that this official process is seriously flawed. There are grounds for concern about the way in which governments across the world, and more particularly the governments of OECD member countries, are viewing and handling climate change issues. The concerns relate both to the basis and rationale for current policies, and to their actual content. Under both headings, a new and more considered approach is called for-a new framework for policy.

My main emphasis here is on the former area-that is, on the considerations which have formed the basis for official beliefs, actions, and proposals for further action. These considerations, the arguments and evidence which have carried weight, have chiefly emerged from the established official process of inquiry and review which is conducted through the mechanism of the IPCC and results in the Assessment Reports. Up-to-date top-level official confirmation that this is so is contained in the Declaration issued after the G8 Summit meeting of June 2007 (para 49): "Taking into account the scientific knowledge as represented in the recent IPCC reports, global greenhouse emissions must stop rising, followed by substantial global emission reductions."

Hence it is the IPCC process in particular that has to be a primary focus of attention: I give reasons for questioning it, and suggest ways in which it could be both strengthened and supplemented. To define the leading issue in this way does not at all imply a concern for procedures as opposed to substance. To the contrary: since the IPCC's assessments provide the basis and rationale for far-reaching conclusions, decisions and actions by governments everywhere, the reliability and integrity of the IPCC process constitutes a key substantive issue.

Governments and Climate Change Issues

The climate change agenda is not new, and governments are not starting from scratch. Policies to deal with perceived problems are well established and in course of being taken further. In the section that now follows, I sketch in some relevant background.

In Section 3, I comment on some aspects of both the Stern Review and AR4, and raise the question of how far the two documents convey the same central message. I note here, and comment on, the strong and growing official emphasis on the risks and dangers of global warming.

Section 4 sets out my central thesis. I outline what I call the problem of unwarranted trust in the IPCC process of inquiry and review: I put in question both the role of the Panel, as the chief instrument of governments, and the working assumptions of the departments and agencies that it reports to.

In the final sections, I turn from criticism to positive proposals, and sketch out a suggested alternative framework for policy. This alternative comprises two interrelated elements:

* measures to strengthen the basis for decisions, by providing for a more balanced treatment of the issues and the evidence (Section 5); and

* a more coherent and less presumptive approach to policy, together with a stronger emphasis on taxation, rather than regulation, as a means to curbing emissions (Section 6).

In the Annex I comment on disturbing features of some scientific contributions to the current debate on climate change.

Excerpt above from WORLD ECONOMICS * Vol. 8 * No. 2 * April-June 2007

Australia: Illegal fishing sunk by new rules

This is something that should even make the Greenies happy -- if there is such a thing as a happy Greenie. Australia's very extensive territorial waters are heavily protected from overfishing by Australian laws and therefore ensure extensive habitat preservation for marine species. But Australia's Muslim neighbours need heavy pressure before they will pay any attention to Australia's right to control its own waters and resources. They have negligently fished out their own extensive waters and see no reason why they should not steal fish from Australian waters. The Australian government does however now seem to have got the attention of most of them

MORE warships and planes, greater co-operation from Jakarta and tough new rules allowing the navy to "shoot to sink" the vessels of suspected poachers has led to a 90 per cent drop in the number of illegal fishing boats this year. And those boats that are spotted are more likely to be seized, with a doubling of the apprehension rate, defence spokesman Brigadier Andrew Nikolic said yesterday.

Operation Resolute -- the name given to fisheries protection -- combines the resources of the Australian Defence Force, Customs and Quarantine and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority. Orion spy planes, mine hunters, a missile-armed frigate and Armidale class patrol boats can be called on to enforce the vast northern fishery zone, Brigadier Nikolic said. In the 12 months to June 30, the navy alone had boarded 235 suspected illegal fishing boats, he said. Area surveillance had increased by about 10 per cent.

The figures indicate new federal government strategies to tackle the scourge of illegal fishing were beginning to work, a spokesman for Fisheries Minister Eric Abetz said. "In the 18 months since the ramped-up budget package came into place with an extra $390 million, we've seen a decline (in illegal fishing boat sightings) of around 90 per cent," he said. At the weekend, three Indonesian boats equipped with sophisticated diving gear were seized off Evans Shoal, 320km northwest of Darwin.

Last year's budget measures paved the way for a big boost in patrol hours and the deployment of additional maritime resources for cracking down on illegal fishing. A total of 365 illegal fishing boats were caught last year, compared with 281 in 2005. Still of concern to authorities were the estimated 6700 sightings last year of illegal vessels in Australian waters. While many of these are likely to have involved the same boat, the number is still high and according to federal Labor justifies its policy of a national coast guard service.

The cost for the (Indonesian) owners of losing their fishing boats has proven a decisive factor in the fall in the number of sightings this year, the minister's spokesman said. Relaxed rules of engagement also allow warships to fire on illegal fishing boats if they fail to heed warnings to stop. Education programs in poor Indonesian fishing communities and better co-operation between Australia and Indonesia since the 2006 Lombok Treaty were also helping stem illegal fishing.



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowleging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

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.