Monday, February 18, 2008

Not a conspiracy but ....

An email from Prof. Lindzen [rlindzen@MIT.EDU]

I would suppose that you are sometimes accused of thinking that the global warming issue is a conspiracy. Whenever such an accusation is made to me, I respond that no conspiracy is needed. However, increasingly it is evident that conspiracy has played a role.

For example, Tony Socci, who played a significant role in the Singer affair, is now the spokesman of the American Meteorological Society in Washington. John Firor, who was for many years the administrative director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, was also the chairman of the board of the Environmental Defense Fund. R. Napier, president of the World Wildlife Federation - UK, is also chairman of the board of the UK Meteorological Office (which includes the Hadley Center).

Jim Hansen is closely associated with Michael Oppenheimer who was long the Barbara Streisand Scientist at Environmental Defense, and, apparently Michael was on the EPA review panel that recommended the funding of Hansen to get into climate modeling (after NASA had cut funds for the New York lab). Oppenheimer, despite only being a minor author of 3-4 peer reviewed scientific papers on climate, is now a professor at Princeton University. It would be interesting to know who endowed his professorship.

There are many other examples of such interlocking relations between environmental activism (in political or organizational form) and seemingly authoritative academic bodies. I doubt that these relations are accidental.

Moreover, intentional slander seems to be a standard tactic. One matter which involved me was the accusation by Gelbspan that I had lied about a debate in the UK with Bert Bolin. I informed Gelbspan that I had a tape of the debate. Gelbspan said that he wasn't interested. Much of this happened quite long ago, but the situation only seems to be getting worse. My hope is that this is simply a fever before the disease breaks.

New doco coming

Called: "Carbon Dioxide and the "Climate Crisis" - Reality or Illusion?"

Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, calls the host of negative consequences that he predicts will accompany the on-going rise in the air's CO2 concentration "a planetary emergency -- a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the earth." James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, similarly claims that the earth "is close to dangerous climate change, to tipping points of the system with the potential for irreversible deleterious effects," and he contends that "ignoring the climate problem at this time, for even another decade, would serve to lock in future catastrophic climatic change."

Do these dire contentions reflect reality? Or do they portray but a marvelously-crafted and hugely-effective illusion?

A new feature-length DVD -- Carbon Dioxide and the "Climate Crisis" - Reality or Illusion? (copyright c 2008 CO2Science) -- explores this perplexing problem through an insightful review of numerous scientific studies that have been largely ignored by the world's climate alarmists, and by illuminating commentary provided by a number of researchers who have spent the better parts of their careers studying the many facets of this complex subject.

The approximately 87-minute DVD is introduced by its creator-director, Dr. Craig Idso, after which the following topics are discussed: Climate Models, Earth's Climatic History, Extreme Weather Events, Ice Sheet Disintegration, Sea Level Trends, Atmospheric Methane, Land and Ocean Extinctions, and Feeding Humanity. In addition, the entire text of the film will be posted online, along with an extensive list of complete citations to the peer-reviewed scientific papers that support the many footnoted statements of fact that are presented in the text.

See what science really has to say about the issue. Acquire and view the DVD, study its text, and examine the scientific literature that is cited therein. Then, decide for yourself. Is the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content truly "a planetary emergency -- a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the earth"? Or is it something far, far different from what the world's climate alarmists incessantly claim it is? These are high-priority questions that all of us are going to have to confront in the not-too-distant future. We owe it to ourselves, and to all who will follow us, to be thoroughly prepared for the choice we will have to make when the day of decision arrives.


Al Gore collects prize from Israeli believer

Al Gore, famous for educating the world about the dangers of global warming and climate change, will be arriving in Israel this May after winning one of Israel's most prestigious prizes, the Dan David Prize, valued at $1 million. The prize is part of $3 million in award money offered annually by the Dan David Foundation, a philanthropic organization housed at Tel Aviv University and endowed by Israeli businessman Dan David. The foundation's mission is to award cash prizes that will impact the fields of human knowledge and foster the next generation of scholars. "The 2008 Dan David Prize honors Al Gore for establishing climate crisis as a moral and spiritual imperative, thereby helping to galvanize international action against global warming," said the prize jury.....

Founded in 2001, the Dan David Prize regularly acknowledges US achievements in science and the arts. Past American prizewinners include cellist Yo-Yo Ma and scientist James Hanson.


Reward the rare skeptics

Bob Lutz, Chairman of General Motors is a rare man. He actually says what he thinks and this time what he thinks is absolutely right.Lutz told a group of reporters that "global warming is a crock of sh*t." Lutz then went on to hit Toyota, saying the Prius "makes no economic sense."

Lutz is reacting to a tsunami of propaganda now pouring out of the corporate world telling us all to "Go Green." These corporations are reacting to massive lobbying and black mail from radical environmental groups which threaten the corporations unless they toe the "green" line. But the science is beginning to show that it's all unnecessary and, as Lutz says, is a "crock of sh*t."

The fact is Lutz is not alone. As the politics of Global Warming invades more of our personal lives and affects the economy, skeptics are growing by leaps and bounds.In late December of 2007 a U.S. Senate report noted that over 400 prominent scientists for more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming.

Earlier, in November, 2007, the founder of the Weather Channel, John Coleman, wrote an article attacking the global warming hype.Coleman wrote, "It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the "research" to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed consensus."

But oh, you say, this is all a right wing conspiracy to discredit true science. Consider this from the New York Times as it quoted Alex Gourevitch, a doctoral candidate in political theory at Columbia University, who said global warming is "the politics of fear."Gourevitch added, "Environmentalism is not just some politics. It's a political project, a full-bodied ideology, and one that presents itself in terms of progress and aspiration. But when you look at what this ideology is built on, it's built in the idea that a collective threat that makes security the basic principle of politics and makes the struggle for survival the basic and central aim of our social and political life." He then compared the environmental movement with the war on terror.

The Green Con is being dumped on us through the massive advertising budgets of multi-national corporations like Toyota British Petroleum and General Electric as they fight to be politically and environmentally correct. They also are using the climate change panic to encourage government to pass legislation that coincidentally helps them sell a product. Case in point is General Electric which helped write the new energy bill that bans the incandescent bulb in favor of GE's new "green" lights. It just happens that the new bulbs cost 6 times more than the incandescents. Welcome to the new planned economy run by partnerships between business and government. But don't call it free enterprise.

The science is there for all to see. While proponents of Global Warming consensus like Al Gore are trying to hush and even punish skeptics for speaking out on our supposedly free society, more and more skeptics are starting to be heard. Man-made Global Warming is not a proven fact and more debate needs to be heard before draconian laws in its name are allowed to destroy our very society. So the Chairman of General Motors, through all of this bad science, hype and political correctness has actually managed to utter some truth. Of course he's being drawn and quartered for it. But to quote General Patton, "A man that eloquent must be saved." Buy a car from GM and take a stand for truth.


Britain: Ban on bottled water coming?

Drinking fizzy water is a perfectly reasonable choice. People tend to like bubbles in ALL their drinks. But drinking still bottled water is just posing in most localities. And posing is mostly a bad thing. But if we outlawed all posing that would be the death of Leftist politics! So principles are taking as back-seat here

Drinking bottled water is almost morally indefensible, a government minister has suggested in a scathing attack on the industry. Phil Woolas, the Environment Minister, said it was daft that six million litres of bottled water were drunk every day in Britain when safe tap water was universally and cheaply available. His comments echoed concerns among environmentalists, who believe that the packaging, transportation and disposal of bottled water products creates unnecessarily high carbon-dioxide emissions.

But they provoked a furious response from the industry, which is worth œ2 billion annually. Representatives demanded an immediate retraction of his remarks. Mr Woolas has further riled the industry by giving his backing to a campaign to persuade the public to use the tap as their primary source of drinking water.

Next week Thames Water, supported by Friends of the Earth and Mr Woolas, will start a campaign to persuade restaurants, pubs and hotels to make tap water more easily available to customers. By persuading people to switch back to tap water the organisers of the initiative hope to reduce the impact on the environment by cutting out the carbon-dioxide emissions from transportation and manufacture of the bottles.

Bottled water has been calculated to have a carbon footprint more than several hundred times bigger than tap water for some brands. Many bottles are transported thousands of miles to get to Britain from countries including the United States and Fiji.

The minister was particularly concerned about water being imported to Britain because of the potential damage to supplies in other countries. "It borders on morally being unacceptable to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on bottled water when we have pure drinking water, when at the same time one of the crises that is facing the world is the supply of water," he told the BBC Panorama programme. "There are many countries in the world who unfortunately haven't got pure tap water. We should be concentrating our efforts on putting that right in my opinion."

He received unexpected backing from Peter Ainsworth, the Shadow Environment Secretary, who agreed that the industry and consumers had big moral questions to answer. "I don't think Phil Woolas is wrong," he said. "Huge amounts are imported from other countries - some now ludicrously from the Far East. This is an ecological nightmare and it doesn't make economic sense either. It certainly raises questions about the basis on which we have constructed our economic lives. By any rational standard it's crazy to be importing water from countries far away when there's perfectly good water in our taps. "It looks like the epiphany of any unsustainable human activity. I think as consumers we should consider the impact we have on the environment. If they think about it they might change their behaviour."

Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said that the environmental impacts caused by the bottled-water industry were sufficiently worrying that the Government should introduce taxes to pay for damage to be put right. Taxes, either directly on the sales of each bottle or through mechanisms such as landfill tax, would put pressure on consumers to change their behaviour. A Swedish study calculated that the environmental impact of bottled water was 90 to 1,000 times greater than tap water, and could be higher.

Jill Ardagh, director-general of the Bottled Water Information Office, led the industry's angry response to the minister's remarks. "Mr Woolas is clearly ill-informed about bottled water and the role it has to play in society, either in this country or other parts of the world," she said. She said that an estimated 20,000 jobs depended on the bottled water trade and demanded that he retract his comments.


Sunny side down: Going solar is a luxury few can afford

IT'S not easy being green-nor is it cheap. With the best will (and some of the most generous handouts) in the world, solar power still makes little sense for the average homeowner, even in sunny southern California. Under pressure from his environmentally conscious ten-year-old daughter, your correspondent has spent the past week talking to experts around the state and running the numbers to see if he could reduce Mayhem Manor's carbon footprint.

Solar power ought to be the answer. The house faces south-east, lacks trees or other shadow-casting obstructions, and its flat roof offers ample space for a sizable solar array. At 720 feet up the hillside, it is well above the "marine layer" (the locals' fancy name for morning fog) and gets about 300 sunny days a year. So what's the problem?

It's not even as though the place gobbles electricity. When the house was being rebuilt five years ago, the new roof came with over a foot of thermal insulation. The floor-to-ceiling windows along two sides of the structure were replaced with double-glazed "low-E" glass (the sort that blocks infra-red radiation), and thermal linings were included in all the exterior walls. Even during the summer, the air conditioner usually stays off. Admittedly, the architect went overboard on lighting. Fully illuminated, the house demanded seven kilowatts of raw lighting-power before fluorescent lights replaced thirsty tungsten filaments. Overall electricity consumption is now a reasonable 8,300 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year.

Given the local utility's rate of 10.8 cents per kWh, that adds up to a modest $900 for the year-or just $2.50 a day. At those prices, solar energy simply cannot compete with juice from the local power-station, even with California-level subsidies. The problem is that solar-energy technology has been improving incrementally, but its costs have been falling slowly. If solar cells had abided by Moore's Law, they too would have halved in price every 18 months or so-and we would all be running our homes on sunshine. But getting photons from sunlight to dislodge more and more electrons in semi-conducting materials like silicon, and so generate electricity, is harder than building a better microchip.

The first solar cells-built more than a century ago-had conversion efficiencies of around 1%. Since then, their efficiency has doubled once only every 30 years-a veritable snail's pace compared with the speed of microchip development. It was not until the 1950s, for instance, that America's famed Bell Labs stumbled on a way of boosting a solar cell's conversion efficiency by "doping" its silicon with certain impurities. It then took another 50 years to raise the efficiency to nearly 20%. The performance of solar cells has picked up recently. But that's only for the most exotic cells used in space. Today's satellites have solar panels based on thin films of gallium arsenide that boast efficiencies of over 35%. Meanwhile, in the laboratory, exotic "quantum wells" promise photovoltaic conversion efficiencies of 45% or more. But the solar panels used in space cost millions to make and last for a decade at most. Back on earth, the only ones affordable enough to be used commercially are early models based on crystalline and amorphous silicon with efficiencies of around 15%.

And even these aren't exactly cheap. Sanyo's 200-watt module, one of the better panels used by the industry, offers 17% efficiency and costs $1,500 retail. As a rule of thumb, the industry reckons that a solar panel capable of generating one kilowatt of power at peak times will average roughly 20% of that over the whole day. In other words, every kilowatt of installed capacity should be good for 4.8 kWh of daily consumption-or around 1,750 kWh per year. By that reckoning, Mayhem Manor would need 4.8 kilowatts of solar capacity to be able to generate the amount of electricity normally consumed from the grid.

Unfortunately, that ignores all the losses that occur between the sun's rays striking the solar array and that direct current being converted into alternating current to run the house. Such losses can easily mop up 25% of the solar panel's output. So, better install at least 6.4 kilowatts worth of solar panels on the roof.

Here's where going green gets tough. At today's prices, your correspondent would have to stump up $48,000 for the solar panels alone. Add the cost of the switching modules, the power controller, the fault protector, the DC-to-AC inverter and the service panel-not to mention the installation charges and the contractor's profit-and the final bill could easily come to $65,000.

What about incentives and tax credits? That depends on where precisely you live and how effective an installation you have. To get anything like a full grant in your correspondent's neck of the woods, the array would have to be facing due south and tilted at an angle of 34 degrees to the sun. The first might be possible; the second would definitely not. At best, Mayhem Manor would qualify for about $12,000 worth of local assistance plus a $2,000 federal grant.

Borrowing the balance at today's interest rates would mean repayments of roughly $600 a month for ten years, even after setting the interest charges against tax. And all that just to feel good about saving $75 of electricity a month. Better to buy a couple of tons worth of carbon offsets each year for $70 and have done with it.



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1 comment:

OBloodyHell said...

There may come a time when we get some reasonable percent of power from solar cells, but I would not hold my breath. The solar constant at 1AU is about 1kw/sq-meter, which even with perfect efficiency is not what you'd call a real good deal.

The only solar power system I've seen which seemed likely to be worth spending money on is Ocean Thermal, which effectively uses the surface of the ocean as a giant thermal collector. Might work, but somehow, it never gets out of the "pilot stage", although I've yet to hear a good reason why.

I recall reading some years back in the WSJ about a system that might actually make wind power feasible by making it (cooling tower, spray water mist at the top, put low-speed turbines at the bottom as gravity forces the cooling air downwards). Haven't heard anything more about that one, either.

Funny how the only systems that seem to get really pushed/funded at the government level are the distributed ones which don't actually work woth a crap. Anything with a centralized design (i.e., which would still be run by power companies) never seems to get heard from again.