An email from John A of Climate Audit [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I focus on the new challenge from Andrew Revkin:
"A question for climate skeptics: I presume you agree there's at least a chance you could be wrong, just as you assert those pointing to a clearcut climate apocalypse have little basis for their claims. On that front, I'd be curious to know what you'd propose as a backup plan if the climate's sensitivity to CO2 turns out to be higher than you think?"
Where is the empirical evidence that the earth's climate has any measureable sensitivity to carbon dioxide rise? Theoretically in an equilibrium situation carbon dioxide rises should cause warming. But then we're not in an equilibrium situation. Personally I am baffled by calculations of "climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide" which ignore the fundamental problem that all reconstructions of carbon dioxide versus temperature from ice cores show that temperatures rise first and then centuries later carbon dioxide (and that other dread GHG methane) begin to rise.
Even while carbon dioxide continues to rise , the previous started warming proceeds at the same rate, and then stops abruptly and begins a relatively slow decline. I am baffled because of two things:
1. How can supposed cause or even amplification of temperature rise by carbon dioxide induced warming be deduced from this behaviour which is the reverse of that assumed in greenhouse theory?
2. If the ice core records are correct about the amount of carbon dioxide in ancient atmospheres being lower than today's value (which in itself opens a whole new can of worms about ice core sampling), and given that the theoretical response of temperature rise to carbon dioxide rise is logarithmic, why don't any ice cores show any sensitivity to carbon dioxide at lower levels when the sensitivity should be much higher?
I ask these questions genuinely openly without sarcasm. Which brings me to Andrew Revkin's question: Andrew Revkin assumes that "climate skeptics" are a priori biased for some reason unable to see the marvellous truth of greenhouse gas theory, but why should anyone believe in a theory for which there is no empirical evidence? What if we've all been steamrollered into accepting a hypothesis of "climate sensitivity" to carbon dioxide which is false? If the sensitivity is even higher, as Andrew Revkin asks us to consider, why has this never been seen in the past when amounts of carbon dioxide were much lower?
So first, before too much else happens, before we invent fantastical geo-engineering schemes to manage the Earth's climate, will someone explain what is the climate sensitivity of carbon dioxide rise eight hundred years hence upon the temperature rise of today?
Man the Lifeboats - Global Warming Alarmism Is Swamping Debate
Media ignore opposition, call scientists 'flat Earthers' to sink climate change dispute
To hear the mainstream media tell it, we have a Titanic problem with global warming. Not large, but Titanic in that they believe "unsinkable" mankind is facing a looming cataclysm. How do they know? Because some scientists tell them that's the way it is. But when other scientists tell them that might not be the case, they only half listen and soon forget.
Such is the fate of the unprecedented 2008 International Conference on Climate Change put on by the Heartland Institute. That event drew 500 scientists, economists and public policy experts to New York to discuss the flaws in the Al Gorean "consensus" on global warming. It should have been big news, but the media never gave it a fair chance. Reporters mischaracterized the three-day event as "quirky" or a "roast" of Al Gore and called attendees "flat Earthers," as if we would sail right off the edge of the world.
The event had such promise. Along with about 100 scientists from around the globe, actual members of the mainstream media attended representing The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and major networks like ABC and CNN. And that's where things went off course. ABC had two of its top people there - John Stossel and Bill Blakemore. But no stories. That was typical. None of the broadcast network coverage the week of the event even acknowledged the conference existed.
CNN viewers would have been better off if the network had followed the same course. One-time anchor Miles O'Brien, famous for dozing during a global warming hearing on Capitol Hill, went full speed to the attack. This time O'Brien was wide awake and compared the conference to "scientific trash talks." He mocked Heartland Institute President Joe Bast, saying, "I can't help but think you're living on a different planet than I am." O'Brien ended his piece by noting "even the Flat Earth Society didn't fold its tent in 1493."
Print coverage was nearly as bad. While some discussed the conference intelligently - like Investor's Business Daily or columnist John Tierney from the Times - others used it as one more chance to sink opposition to the hype surrounding manmade global warming. Times reporter Andrew Revkin seemed perplexed that he was "forced to cover the edges of the discourse" rather than "relax" with his family. But Revkin soon made up for it. Just seven paragraphs into one of the pieces he wrote on the conference, he turned to an expert to help him understand those wacky conservatives, rather than focus on the science being discussed.
He cited "Riley E. Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who has studied the influence of conservative policy institutes," and Dunlap gave the predictable sound bites. He said such groups "can hardly be considered to be underdogs" because they are, in Revkin's words, so "well financed." For one last salvo, Revkin cited a Greenpeace activist who also attacked the event.
The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin quoted Gene Karpinski of the League of Conservation Voters, who said he's "sure that the flat Earth society had a few final meetings before they broke up." That quote ran the morning of the CNN broadcast. It's unclear if O'Brien lifted his material from the left. Let's just say he's on board with their agenda. Eilperin also showed she learned nothing from the conference. Less than a week later, she wrote a front-page story saying humans need to "cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades." She included no other viewpoints on that radical statement. I guess that means we all have to stop exhaling soon.
According to Eilperin, the study she cited was based, like many climate predictions, on "increasingly powerful" computer models and "scientists acknowledge that no model is a perfect reflection of the complex dynamics involved and how they will evolve with time." In other words, climate models aren't necessarily accurate. Had she paid more attention to the conference, she would have heard from famous climatologist and hurricane forecaster Bill Gray criticizing the reliance on climate models instead of climate science. She might even have quoted him. Just two days after the conference, "CBS Evening News" was warning that threatened bat populations were "the canary in a climate change coal mine."
Those stories, and hundreds more like them, helped prove one of the very points the conference intended to make - that the mainstream media have given up the role of observer and become advocates for one side in the climate debate.
Sprawl & Climate Change
From the editor of "Ecoworld"
If you read EcoWorld at all, you'll know where we stand. Today we continued to post on the listserve of www.treelink.org, an excellent resource for urban foresters to exchange tactical information on how to plant and maintain healthy urban treescapes. When their dialogue moves from tactics to strategy and theory, a few realities emerge. First of all, most of these urban foresters work for government agencies, and secondly, nearly all of them subscribe to "smart growth" principles. And over the past few days we've indulged in a flurry of posts on that listserve to hopefully convince some of them to think twice about all the conventional "smart growth" wisdom that has become almost impossible to challenge.
Eight fundamental criticisms of smart growth constitute our premise, expressed in some detail in our post "Letter from Wingnuttia." Here are our criticisms of smart growth principles in brief:
1 - It creates "urban service boundaries" that artificially inflate the price of land.
2 - It emphasizes public space over private ownership.
3 - It declares war on the car, the most liberating device ever invented.
4 - It promotes high-density infill even if that destroys semi-rural suburbs.
5 - It embraces a double standard, fighting new suburbs, but embracing (for example) biofuel farms.
6 - It presumes that mandated, subsidized, mixed housing will alleviate social problems.
7 - It falsely claims there is a shortage of open space and farmland.
8 - It arrogantly maintains these principles are well settled and beyond debate.
While we'd like to thank the many people who have anonymously emailed and thanked us for taking on the smart growth crowd, the fact is most public bureaucrats, even those who have given their careers over the noble goal of planting trees, believe in all these principles. So we are attempting to enlighten them. Here is the latest salvo, on the topic of sprawl and climate change.
TO THE URBAN FORESTERS OF THE WORLD:
It is absolutely unproven that CO2 causes climate change. In fact, if you look at the last 10-15 years of temperature data, the average temperature in the troposphere has been going down, which completely belies conventional wisdom regarding global warming. There are virtually no powerful vested interests challenging global warming alarm - the "alarm industry" is the reality, not the opposite. Doesn't that make any of you suspicious?
This is pertinent, because CO2 alarmism is the trump card the smart growth proponants use to end all discussion regarding density, and no matter how you slice it, the greater the density, the fewer trees. Once you take away the CO2 argument, there is a strong case to be made that low urban densities are actually less likely than high density to cause global warming and climate change. Even if CO2 were pollution, and it is not, the electric car uses energy far more efficiently than gasoline powered cars, and they are just around the corner.
The notion that "markets" are actually trying to create high density is also easily challenged. Markets go where the regulatory reality forces them to go. If you force people to do infill projects with ultra high density, through mandates, tax incentives and subsidies, then of course that's what they will do. If you artificially force the price of development entitled land to prices upwards of $300K per acre (when land across the street, non-entitled, is only worth $3,000 per acre - no perversion of the market there!), of course a developer will want to put more homes on that acre. Especially when not only do they get to make more money this way, but they also get to claim they are doing it "for the earth." Markets don't need any help to create high density where there's a genuine market for it, such as in the urban core of large cities. Nor should markets be restricted from delivering affordable low density housing solutions where there's a market for that, on the quiet outskirts of metropolitan areas. Zoning laws should protect low density neighborhoods, not destroy them.
Everyone reading this should ask themselves - how would all this "smart growth" feel if they had to wonder when a subsidized multi-family dwelling was going to get constructed next to their home on a traditional sized lot (with all the trees on the adjacent lot being cut down)? Who are these social engineers, using questionable scientific justifications, to ruin the neighborhood via high-density infill where people have invested their life savings? Would you wonder that, if you didn't work in the public sector, where your retirement pension depends on artificially jacking up property values to raise property tax revenues in order to keep public entities solvent? Did it ever occur to those of you working in the public sector that if you got social security and medicare like the rest of us, maybe we'd finally reform and bolster those programs?
Social engineers, spouting questionable science, in the name of "smart growth," are refusing to let the market drive development, and they are going to make our cities and suburbs unlivable. The only trees that will exist in this urban model advocated by the smart growth crowd will be trees on public land maintained by public employees. People will be made to feel guilty and will have to pay punitive taxes if they have a big yard with trees. Everyone in low density neighborhoods will be at risk of seeing a high-density low-income subsidized infill project ruin their neighborhood.
Do you love trees, or do you love trees when they create public sector jobs? That is a pertinent question. Do you believe CO2 is going to destroy the earth, or is it a convenient way to keep your pension solvent and fund your public sector tree plantings, while trees on private land are exterminated via infill? That is also a pertinent question.
Pollution a byproduct of `Clean' fuel
After residents of the Riverbend Farms subdivision noticed that an oily, fetid substance had begun fouling the Black Warrior River, which runs through their backyards, Mark Storey, a retired petroleum plant worker, hopped into his boat to follow it upstream to its source. It turned out to be an old chemical factory that had been converted into Alabama's first biodiesel plant, a refinery that intended to turn soybean oil into earth-friendly fuel. "I'm all for the plant," Mr. Storey said. "But I was really amazed that a plant like that would produce anything that could get into the river without taking the necessary precautions."
But the oily sheen on the water returned again and again, and a laboratory analysis of a sample taken in March 2007 revealed that the ribbon of oil and grease being released by the plant - it resembled Italian salad dressing - was 450 times higher than permit levels typically allow, and that it had drifted at least two miles downstream. The spills, at the Alabama Biodiesel Corporation plant outside this city about 17 miles from Tuscaloosa, are similar to others that have come from biofuel plants in the Midwest. The discharges, which can be hazardous to birds and fish, have many people scratching their heads over the seeming incongruity of pollution from an industry that sells products with the promise of blue skies and clear streams.
"Ironic, isn't it?" said Barbara Lynch, who supervises environmental compliance inspectors for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "This is big business. There's a lot of money involved."
Iowa leads the nation in biofuel production, with 42 ethanol and biodiesel refineries in production and 18 more plants under construction, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. In the summer of 2006, a Cargill biodiesel plant in Iowa Falls improperly disposed of 135,000 gallons of liquid oil and grease, which ran into a stream killing hundreds of fish.
According to the National Biodiesel Board, a trade group, biodiesel is nontoxic, biodegradable and suitable for sensitive environments, but scientists say that position understates its potential environmental impact. "They're really considered nontoxic, as you would expect," said Bruce P. Hollebone, a researcher with Environment Canada in Ottawa and one of the world's leading experts on the environmental impact of vegetable oil and glycerin spills. "You can eat the stuff, after all," Mr. Hollebone said. "But as with most organic materials, oil and glycerin deplete the oxygen content of water very quickly, and that will suffocate fish and other organisms. And for birds, a vegetable oil spill is just as deadly as a crude oil spill."
Other states have also felt the impact. Leanne Tippett Mosby, a deputy division director of environmental quality for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said she was warned a year ago by colleagues in other states that biodiesel producers were dumping glycerin, the main byproduct of biodiesel production, contaminated with methanol, another waste product that is classified as hazardous.
Glycerin, an alcohol that is normally nontoxic, can be sold for secondary uses, but it must be cleaned first, a process that is expensive and complicated. Expanded production of biodiesel has flooded the market with excess glycerin, making it less cost-effective to clean and sell. Ms. Tippett Mosby did not have to wait long to see the problem. In October, an anonymous caller reported that a tanker truck was dumping milky white goop into Belle Fountain Ditch, one of the many man-made channels that drain Missouri's Bootheel region. That substance turned out to be glycerin from a biodiesel plant.
In January, a grand jury indicted a Missouri businessman in the discharge, which killed at least 25,000 fish and wiped out the population of fat pocketbook mussels, an endangered species.
Back in Alabama, Nelson Brooke of Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Black Warrior River and its tributaries, received a report in September 2006 of a fish kill that stretched 20 miles downstream from Moundville. Even though Mr. Brooke said he found oil in the water around the dead fish, the state Department of Environmental Management determined that natural, seasonal changes in oxygen levels in the water could have been the culprit. The agency did not charge Alabama Biodiesel. In August, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, in a complaint filed in Federal District Court, documented at least 24 occasions when oil was spotted in the water near the plant.
WILL KYOTO TURN EUROPE INTO CUBA?
By Dennis Avery [email@example.com]. (DENNIS T. AVERY is a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and is the Director for the Center for Global Food Issues. (www.cgfi.org) He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State.)
The EU steel industry is terrified that Europe's new cap-and-trade system of penalizing steel-plant emissions will cost 50,000 of its 300,000 steel-industry jobs. But don't worry, if the EU gets serious about cap-and-trade, it will simply violate the rules of the World Trade Organization and start taxing imported steel for the CO2 emissions from Indian and Chinese steel plants.
The problem won't be lost jobs in Europe's steel or plastics industries. The problem will be that virtually nothing new will be manufactured for Europe.
* No new appliances or autos. They take too much steel.
* No new concrete roads or brick buildings. Cement-making produces about 7 percent of the human-emitted CO2 emissions. Bricks must be fired in CO2-producing kilns.
* No nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen fertilizer currently uses 5 percent of the world's fossil fuels. If Farmers are forced to go all-organic, their yields will fall by half. There will either be wide-spread hunger and/or Europe's remaining wildlife will be crowded off the continent by the need to plant more low-yield crops.
* Factories will turn back to water wheels to save electricity.
In fact, the model for Europe low-emission future is-Cuba! Under Castro, especially since the Soviets stopped gifting the Cubans with free oil and fertilizer, Cuba has developed the closest thing on the planet to a "modern low-energy society."
Instead of making new cars in emission-prone factories, Cuba's workers spend their time machining new parts for the island's few 1950s relics on elderly lathes left over from its sugar-exporting days. Castro originally sold clothing through the food rationing system, but now most of the clothing comes from antique sewing machines run by Cuba's women.
The women also produce much of their families' food in urban gardens, since the ration system doesn't deliver much. Cuba's ration cards are good for 6 pounds of rice per capita per month, 20 ounces of beans, six pounds of sugar, and 15 pounds of potatoes or bananas. Cubans get less than one quart of milk for each kid under 7 per month, but cool, rainy Europe may offer its consumers a bit more milk and cheese and a lot fewer bananas.
Cubans get a pound of beef per month, and two pounds of chicken-though often the "meat" is hamburger mixed with soy flour, or "chicken tenders" made partly with chicken and mostly with "other." Europe's per capita food supply will plummet to similar levels when fertilizer plants consume too many "energy points."
The official Cuban transport system is energy-efficient hitch-hiking. With so few vehicles, and little gasoline, cars and trucks that refuse to pick up hitch-hikers on the highway are fined for a "crime against society."
Tourism is Cuba's biggest industry now, but that won't work for a Kyoto-driven Europe. The EU won't have any fuel for airplanes, and precious little for buses. Nor is Cuba building big rental houses on the beaches any more to attract their tourists. In fact, one of Cuba's big problems is that Hurricane Michelle in 2001 destroyed or damaged 100,000 homes, which the Castro economy has been largely unable to rebuild. There isn't much heavy equipment for such projects. As a Kyoto bonus, Michelle's damage to Cuba's electric grid was severe.
Best of all, 90 percent of the jobs are with the Cuban government. No complaints allowed, even if your wife has to sew your shirts and hoe the garden in the hot sun. Kids over 11 owe 45 days per summer working on the farms, which teaches them how to control weeds and bugs without any nasty pesticides. What a perfect post-fossil Green society!
Stop washing your hair: Greasy hair makes for clean air
Greasy hair may not help you to attract the object of your affection, but it might reduce the amount of ozone you breathe in. Lakshmi Pandrangi and Glenn Morrison from the University of Missouri in Rolla exposed eight washed and eight unwashed hair samples to ozone for 24 hours. They found that, on average, unwashed hair absorbs around seven times as much ozone as freshly washed hair. "Ozone is probably reacting with components of hair oil," says Morrison.
Ground-level ozone can cause respiratory problems and has been associated with increased mortality. Morrison says that having greasy hair could reduce your ozone exposure if you are indoors. "For dirty hair, the ozone concentration around the head is likely to be substantially lower than the level in the room," he says.
However, just before you throw out your shampoo, Pandrangi and Morrison found that unwashed hair samples produced more secondary-reaction products, such as the respiratory irritant 4-oxopentanal, because of the ozone reacting with the hair oil.
Since elderly and sick people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, Pandrangi and Morrison suggest that indoor air should be filtered to reduce ozone, rather than focusing all our efforts on cleaning up ozone smog.
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