Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Some Inconvenient Omissions by the "Global Warming" camp

The environmentalists have been pitching this `consensus' nonsense that man-made emissions of greenhouse gasses is going to lead to catastrophic global warming for some time now. They cite charts and graphs created by grossly exaggerated computer models and say that everyone in the scientific community agrees (despite a recent US Senate report where over 400 scientists dispute these claims). They tell us that it is hotter now than ever before, but don't bother to tell us about the closure of hundreds of measuring stations in the Russian arctic.

They also neglect to mention that much of the `warming' is occurring at night and that Southern Hemisphere temperatures remain virtually unaffected. Instead they pull up their custom tailored charts and models and say that manmande CO2 emissions are to blame, even though we only contribute 3% of all CO2 emissions. They also never mention that CO2 is one of many greenhouse gasses which, by the way, make Earth inhabitable, unlike any other planet.

Speaking of other planets, how do they explain that the temperatures on Mars are increasing too? Well, they simply ignore it. The fact of the matter is that ending `global warming' isn't about the environment, its about regulating and taxing corporations for their `carbon footprint' (another bogus term), becoming `energy independent' (ending the use of those pesky fossil fuels and ignoring nuclear power for some reason) and redistributing wealth.

But I digress, this is a topic that deserves its own post. Below, I have comprised a small list of `recommended reading' for anyone who wants to discover more about this so-called `global warming'. It is by no means conclusive, but I hope that it will help you to be more skeptical of the next `global warming' piece that is spewed out by the mainstream media.


Blurred truth: Climate change fact or fiction?

Although audiences at midsize dailies are not as vast as the behemoths on the left or east coasts, some of us feel an obligation to pass along to a few friends and neighbors impact pieces you'll never read in the New York Times and Washington Post, or view on CBS, NBC or ABC. It isn't that such stories are undeserving of national attention, but rather because the sacred media gods determine what thou shall or shall not read or watch. Before Fox News, CNN, the internet and talk radio came into being, one wonders how many inconvenient truths were covered up in the 1950s, `60s,' 70s and so forth? Oh well, we'll never know.

The latest impact piece you'll never read or view in the suffocating liberal media is the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change that just concluded in New York City. On Feb. 12 noted doomsayer Jim Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, told the Denver Post, "You could have a convention of all scientists who dispute climate change in a relatively small phone booth." Jim's prediction was about as close as the coming ice age his cronies forecasted in the 1970s.

More than 200 climate and environmental scientists from Australia, Canada, England, Poland, France, Hungary, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden and the United States attended the three-day conference in New York. They were joined by environmental authorities from Harvard, The Institute Pasteur in Paris, Johns Hopkins, the Universities of Virginia, Alabama, Arizona State and many other fine universities.

They came to discuss the other side of the global warming issue - its causes, and priority as sensitive issue. They discussed the reliability of computer models in future climate conditions; how much modern warming is natural and how much is the result of human activity; and how reliable are the data used to document the recent warming trend. "The alarmists in the global warming debate have had their say over and over again in every newspaper in the country every day," said conference host Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute. "They've been seen in countless news reports and documentary films. They have totally dominated the media's coverage of this issue. They have swayed the view of many people, and many of them have gotten very rich in the process."

Bast pointed out many scientists appeared, despite the potential loss of research grants, tenure, and the ability to get published in the future. Many even dared to speak out vehemently against what they consider "the mass delusion of our time." "We are not in this for money," he continued. "The scientists with us today have been published thousands of times in the world's leading scientific journals. They deserve to be heard."

Nobel Prize, Emmy and Academy Awards winner Al Gore was asked to participate, and he declined. Likely he was jetting off somewhere to tell followers they need to be riding bikes to work. Incidentally, isn't it interesting that a group of Norwegian socialists select the Peace Prize winner each year, and past nominees included Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini?

"The claim that global warming is a `crisis' is itself a theory," said Bast. "It can be falsified by scientific fact just as the claim that there is a `consensus' that global warming is man-made has been disproved by the fact that this conference is being held."

Is global warming a crisis, as we've been told so often by media, politicians and environmental activists? Or is it moderate, mostly natural and unstoppable, as we are told by distinguished scientists who are not looking to make billions peddling carbon offsets? Doesn't it seem logical that both sides have a right to be heard? This debate will ebb because, as George Will once wrote, "People only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of what might be learned if it continues."


CO2 output must cease altogether: Research points to years of warming even with ambitious emission cuts

Sounds like we had better stop breathing then

The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures may be far more difficult than previous research suggested, say scientists who have just published studies indicating that it would require the world to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades. Their findings, published in separate journals over the past few weeks, suggest that both industrialized and developing nations must wean themselves off fossil fuels by as early as mid-century in order to prevent warming that could change precipitation patterns and dry up sources of water worldwide.

Using advanced computer models to factor in deep-sea warming and other aspects of the carbon cycle that naturally creates and removes carbon dioxide (CO2), the scientists, from countries including the United States, Canada and Germany, are delivering a simple message: The world must bring carbon emissions down to near zero to keep temperatures from rising further. "The question is, what if we don't want the Earth to warm anymore?" asked Carnegie Institution senior scientist Ken Caldeira, co-author of a paper published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "The answer implies a much more radical change to our energy system than people are thinking about."

Although many nations have been pledging steps to curb emissions for nearly a decade, the world's output of carbon from human activities totals about 10 billion tons a year and has been steadily rising. For now, at least, a goal of zero emissions appears well beyond the reach of politicians here and abroad. U.S. leaders are just beginning to grapple with setting any mandatory limit on greenhouse gases. The Senate is poised to vote in June on legislation that would reduce U.S. emissions by 70 percent by 2050; the two Democratic senators running for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), back an 80 percent cut. The Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), supports a 60 percent reduction by mid-century.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is shepherding climate legislation through the Senate as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the new findings "make it clear we must act now to address global warming." "It won't be easy, given the makeup of the Senate, but the science is compelling," she said. "It is hard for me to see how my colleagues can duck this issue and live with themselves."

James L. Connaughton, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, offered a more guarded reaction, saying the idea that "ultimately you need to get to net-zero emissions" is "something we've heard before." When it comes to tackling such a daunting environmental and technological problem, he added: "We've done this kind of thing before. We will do it again. It will just take a sufficient amount of time."

Until now, scientists and policymakers have generally described the problem in terms of halting the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere. The United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change framed the question that way two decades ago, and many experts talk of limiting CO2 concentrations to 450 parts per million (ppm). But Caldeira and Oregon State University professor Andreas Schmittner now argue that it makes more sense to focus on a temperature threshold as a better marker of when the planet will experience severe climate disruptions. The Earth has already warmed by 0.76 degrees Celsius (nearly 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Most scientists warn that a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) could have serious consequences.

Schmittner, lead author of a Feb. 14 article in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, said his modeling indicates that if global emissions continue on a "business as usual" path for the rest of the century, the Earth will warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. If emissions do not drop to zero until 2300, he calculated, the temperature rise at that point would be more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit. "This is tremendous," Schmittner said. "I was struck by the fact that the warming continues much longer even after emissions have declined. . . . Our actions right now will have consequences for many, many generations. Not just for a hundred years, but thousands of years."

While natural cycles remove roughly half of human-emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere within a hundred years, a significant portion persists for thousands of years. Some of this carbon triggers deep-sea warming, which keeps raising the global average temperature even after emissions halt.

Researchers have predicted for a long time that warming will persist even after the world's carbon emissions start to fall and that countries will have to dramatically curb their carbon output in order to avert severe climate change. Last year's report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said industrialized nations would have to cut emissions 80 to 95 percent by 2050 to limit CO2 concentrations to the 450 ppm goal, and the world as a whole would have to reduce emissions by 50 to 80 percent.

European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, in Washington last week for meetings with administration officials, said he and his colleagues are operating on the assumption that developed nations must cut emissions 60 to 80 percent by mid-century, with an overall global reduction of 50 percent. "If that is not enough, common sense is that we would not let the planet be destroyed," he said. The two new studies outline the challenge in greater detail, and on a longer time scale, than many earlier studies. Schmittner's study, for example, projects how the Earth will warm for the next 2,000 years.

But some climate researchers who back major greenhouse gas reductions said it is unrealistic to expect policymakers to think in terms of such vast time scales. "People aren't reducing emissions at all, let alone debating whether 88 percent or 99 percent is sufficient," said Gavin A. Schmidt, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "It's like you're starting off on a road trip from New York to California, and before you even start, you're arguing about where you're going to park at the end." Brian O'Neill of the National Center for Atmospheric Research emphasized that some uncertainties surround the strength of the natural carbon cycle and the dynamics of ocean warming, which in turn would affect the accuracy of Caldeira's modeling. "Neither of these are known precisely," he said.

Although computer models used by scientists to project changes in the climate have become increasingly powerful, scientists acknowledge that no model is a perfect reflection of the complex dynamics involved and how they will evolve with time. Still, O'Neill said the modeling "helps clarify thinking about long-term policy goals. If we want to reduce warming to a certain level, there's a fixed amount of carbon we can put into the atmosphere. After that, we can't emit any more, at all."

Caldeira and his colleague, H. Damon Matthews, a geography professor at Concordia University in Montreal, emphasized this point in their paper, concluding that "each unit of CO2 emissions must be viewed as leading to quantifiable and essentially permanent climate change on centennial timescales."

Steve Gardiner, a philosophy professor at the University of Washington who studies climate change, said the studies highlight that the argument over global warming "is a classic inter-generational debate, where the short-term benefits of emitting carbon accrue mainly to us and where the dangers of them are largely put off until future generations."

When it comes to deciding how drastically to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, O'Neill said, "in the end, this is a value judgment, it's not a scientific question." The idea of shifting to a carbon-free society, he added, "appears to be technically feasible. The question is whether it's politically feasible or economically feasible."


Britain returns to coal power

The Government will today anger environmentalists by signalling its support for a controversial new generation of coal-fired power stations and warning that Britain needs to burn more fossil fuels to prevent power cuts. John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Business, will say that "clean coal" has a crucial role to play in filling Britain's energy gap for the future. He will accuse the green lobby of "gesture politics" by opposing any coal-fired plants, putting energy supplies at risk and presenting a false "black and white" choice to the public over coal. Mr Hutton, the cabinet minister responsible for energy, will speak about the future of coal for the first time at a speech to the free market Adam Smith Institute in London.

But his speech is bound to raise questions about government environmental policy just two days before the the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, tries to reassure the green lobby by raising taxes on gas-guzzling vehicles. Mr Hutton's remarks will be seen as a clear sign that the Government will approve plans to build Britain's first coal-fired power station since 1984 at Kingsnorth, Kent. Green campaigners view the 1 billion pound proposal as a vital test of the Government's commitment to the environment. The energy company E.ON UK wants to demolish an outdated plant and replace it with two units using cleaner coal to supply 1.5 million homes by 2012. The firm claimed it would cut carbon emissions by nearly two million tones a year and could be a ground-breaking "clean coal" plant, with the carbon emitted stored under the North Sea.

Critics are worried the new technology remains unproved and a new coal programme would undermine efforts to secure a new worldwide agreement to combat global warming. A further seven coal-fired plants are in the pipeline if, as expected, ministers give the go-ahead to Kingsnorth. Other possible sites include Blyth, Northumberland; Tilbury, Essex; Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire; High Marnham, Nottinghamshire; Longannet, Fife and Cockenzie, East Lothian.

Ministers insisted they recognised the environmental concerns, claiming Britain was taking a global lead on clean coal power generation. They argued the Government could not afford to play fast and loose with energy supplies and must ensure "the lights stay on". Mr Hutton will tell the Government's critics that its commitment to "decarbonise" Britain's electricity mix by the middle of the century remains "non-negotiable". "But over this period, as we develop low-carbon technologies, we should be under no illusion - generation from fossil fuels will continue to play a key role," he will add.

Mr Hutton will say that nuclear and renewable sources jointly account for just over 20 per cent of UK electricity at present. By 2020, the nation may need to secure about 15 per cent of the total from renewables in order to meet its EU target. A new generation of nuclear plants might maintain or increase the nuclear contribution. But that would still leave a significant proportion of electricity, and the majority of overall energy, coming from fossil fuels, he will argue.

Mr Hutton will declare: "As a country we have to accept the reality that, even in meeting our EU 2020 renewables target, fossil fuels will still play a major part for the next couple of decades at the very least. And there is nothing wrong with that - provided we are meeting our international obligations to reduce our carbon emissions. "For critics, there's a belief that coal-fired power stations undermine the UK's leadership position on climate change. In fact the opposite is true. Developing economies need to be able to see by the actions that we are taking that it is possible to use indigenous energy reserves and decarbonise your economy.

"Leadership isn't about forcing people into making binary choices. Low carbon energy production or fossil fuels, particularly when the primary goal - substantial emission reductions - can be achieved without having to make binary choices in the short term. The world will use a mix of energy sources for the foreseeable future. Our leadership role is best promoted by the actions we take on capping emissions, carbon pricing and supporting the development of new CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology. Not by gesture politics that could put our future energy security at risk."

Environmental groups last night denied that they would be playing "gesture politics". Russell Marsh, director of policy at the Green Alliance, said: "The reason UK emissions have risen for the past 10 years is because we have increased our reliance on coal-fired generation. The Government cannot expect to meet its legally binding targets, soon to be imposed through the Climate Change Bill, if it sanctions a new fleet of unabated coal-fired power stations." Mr Marsh said that this week's Budget could only be viewed as "tinkering" on green issues if the Government went ahead with an expansion of both aviation and coal.

The minister will argue that fossil fuels will also play an important role in ensuring the flexibility of the electricity generation system for which demand fluctuates, particularly in winter. Neither wind nor nuclear power could fulfil this role, so back-up from fossil fuels will be needed, with coal seen as the most reliable source. Although gas is cleaner than coal, Mr Hutton will warn that an over-reliance on gas would leave us more exposed to the international gas market as Britain's own resources decline.

Within seven years one of the world's first commercial-scale clean coal demonstrator plants could be up and running in the UK, generating electricity from coal with up to 90 per cent less carbon emitted.


Electric Vehicles Could Strain Water Supplies

As environmentally friendly as hybrid and fully electric cars are, it turns out replacing normal vehicles with them might dangerously strain already scarce water reserves. Hybrid electric vehicles run on electric mode for a limited distance before they switch to an internal combustion engine for longer trips, while fully electric vehicles operate solely off batteries. Both are presumed to be better for the planet than normal vehicles, because they release fewer emissions into the air.

But hybrid and fully electric cars rely in part on water. Specifically, the power plants that produce the electricity typically use water primarily to cool down the systems. Such water consumption might be especially of concern in the United States "in the Southwest and Southeast and the West, where water resources are definitely strained," said researcher Michael Webber, a mechanical engineer at the University of Texas at Austin.

Webber and colleague Carey King compared the amount of water used, withdrawn and consumed during petroleum refining and electricity generation in the United States. They estimate that hybrid and fully electric vehicles could sharply increase the country's water consumption, with each mile driven with electricity demanding roughly three times more water than gasoline. The researchers note these concerns do not necessarily mean electric cars are undesirable. "It just means there might be some tradeoffs," Webber said.

Policymakers may want to move to less water-intensive cooling technologies, such as air cooling. Seawater or recycled former wastewater unsuitable for drinking might also help cool power generators. Power generators that use little to no water, such as wind or solar technology, might also find use, Webber noted. Webber and King are scheduled to detail their findings in the June 1 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.


Huge costs to Australia of heeding the dubious warming claims

HUNDREDS of prominent scientists this week attended a conference in New York hosted by the US Heartland Institute. The scientists rejected claims that we are seeing catastrophic human-induced global warming. They concluded that the earth may be undergoing a period of modest warming but that it and cooling are constant features of the earth's climate. There was agreement that present global temperatures are not abnormal.

The debate on global warming has displaced the struggle about whether socialism or capitalism was the best approach to running an economy. Radicals once sought to replace private enterprise with state control. Now they want the removal of coal, oil and gas to justify a new and more comprehensive form of state control. As with the march of socialism, even politicians sceptical about the claims of an impending catastrophe are being forced to go along with measures promoted by the radicals. Taxes and regulations to reduce carbon emissions are being steadily introduced while governments pray that their effect will be minor.

The all-embracing of measures being touted, for example in the Garnaut report, involve everyone in the world being allocated the same amount of carbon dioxide and this being steadily reduced. For Australia, average emissions would be reduced to a fifth of their existing levels, from around 16 tonnes per person of carbon dioxide equivalent to less than 3 tonnes. Victorians would be particularly badly placed because of our reliance on the Latrobe Valley's fabulous deposits of brown coal for cheap electricity generation.

Nobody knows how an economy could operate with standards of living like Australia's while adopting the sorts of measures proposed. Carbon dioxide emissions are the automatic outcome of driving cars, generating electricity, smelting metals, making concrete and just about every other activity. To reduce carbon dioxide emissions to a fifth of present levels would require, at the very least, replacement of coal by nuclear - something the present government has refused even to contemplate. It would require an almost complete ban on car use. It would certainly be the end of any holidays overseas or on the Gold Coast - and air-conditioning and central heating too.

Victorians have pioneered the use of low-quality brown coal as feedstock for power stations that produce some of the cheapest electricity in the world. This has been the backbone of our economy and it is impossible to envisage how we could be competitive with the rest of the world without it. Not only would the emission control proposals cause a trebling of electricity costs to households - especially without nuclear - but Victoria would lose its low-cost energy advantage. We would see the departure of aluminium smelting, metal production, the chemical industry, and car manufacturing. Costs of services like retailing would rise considerably.

Before further dangerous excursions into energy-control policies, governments need to take note of the grave doubts of so many of the world's eminent scientists at the Heartland Institute conference.



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