Saturday, June 28, 2008

Climate models fail again! Scientist 'startled' to discover 50% of ozone destroyed in lower atmosphere

"Destruction Of Greenhouse Gases Over Tropical Atlantic May Ease Global Warming"

Large amounts of ozone -- around 50% more than predicted by the world's state-of-the-art climate models -- are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. This startling discovery was made by a team of scientists from the UK's National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Universities of York and Leeds. It has particular significance because ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas and its destruction also leads to the removal of the third most abundant greenhouse gas; methane.

The findings come after analysing the first year of measurements from the new Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory, recently set up by British, German and Cape Verdean scientists on the island of Sao Vicente in the tropical Atlantic. Alerted by these Observatory data, the scientists flew a research aircraft up into the atmosphere to make ozone measurements at different heights and more widely across the tropical Atlantic. The results mirrored those made at the Observatory, indicating major ozone loss in this remote area.

So, what's causing this loss? Instruments developed at the University of Leeds, and stationed at the Observatory, detected the presence of the chemicals bromine and iodine oxide over the ocean for this region. These chemicals, produced by sea spray and emissions from phytoplankton (microscopic plants in the ocean), attack the ozone, breaking it down. As the ozone is destroyed, a chemical is produced that attacks and destroys the greenhouse gas methane. Up until now it has been impossible to monitor the atmosphere of this remote region over time because of its physical inaccessibility. Including this new chemistry in climate models will provide far more accurate estimates of ozone and methane in the atmosphere and improve future climate predictions.

Professor Alastair Lewis, Director of Atmospheric Composition at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and a lead scientist in this study, said: "At the moment this is a good news story -- more ozone and methane being destroyed than we previously thought - but the tropical Atlantic cannot be taken for granted as a permanent 'sink' for ozone. The composition of the atmosphere is in fine balance here- it will only take a small increase in nitrogen oxides from fossil fuel combustion, carried here from Europe, West Africa or North America on the trade winds, to tip the balance from a sink to a source of ozone"

Professor John Plane, University of Leeds said: "This study provides a sharp reminder that to understand how the atmosphere really works, measurement and experiment are irreplaceable. The production of iodine and bromine mid-ocean implies that destruction of ozone over the oceans could be global".


Don't be Fooled by America's "Armchair Environmentalists"

Despite a vast U.S. marketing and media coverage trend toward green affinity and awareness in recent years, most Americans admit putting personal comfort ahead of the environment, and a significant percentage voice ambivalence - even negativity - about increased media attention regarding the environment. So reports Eco Pulse, the newest national study on U.S. consumers and green affinity, produced by Shelton Group (, a Tennessee advertising agency focused on energy, energy efficiency and sustainability.

"What we've quantified in Eco Pulse is that by and large, consumers behave as 'armchair environmentalists' at best," said Suzanne Shelton, CEO of Shelton Group. "Folks who talk up their green purchases and lifestyles at a cocktail party really aren't doing as much as they say they're doing."

Eco Pulse reveals how few Americans actually put their own environmental views into practice at the check-out counter. When asked, "How much, if any, does a company's environmental record and/or practices impact your decision whether or not to buy their products?" 49 percent said "somewhat" to "very much."

However, when asked a specific follow-up to this question, "Have you ever chosen one product over another based on the environmental record/practices of its manufacturer?" only 21 percent said "yes," and of those, only 28 percent - six percent of the total population - could name the actual product.

When asked, "Given a choice between your comfort, your convenience or the environment, which do you most often choose?" 46 percent chose comfort, while 31 percent chose the environment, and 23 percent chose convenience. When asked if they feel like they are often asked to choose between their comfort and the environment, most consumers (48 percent) were undecided, but 26 percent agreed.

In addition, a significant percentage (40 percent) admitted to a less-than-enthusiastic response to increased media attention covering human impact on the environment. While 60 percent answered in a positive fashion (such as feeling better educated or glad as a result of environmental media attention), the rest chose negative or ambivalent responses such as irritated, skeptical, guilty or unaffected.

"The market for green messages is not nearly as mature as the media often leads the public - including businesses and marketers in the sustainability sector - to believe," Shelton said.

"We work with clients all the time who initially think consumers collectively hold widespread, uniform views about the environment and have a wealth of knowledge," Shelton said. "This corporate lack of understanding about the consumer mindset can lead to a lot of poorly crafted messaging - such as promoting things about a company's sustainability that mean little or nothing to consumers, often because a proper education process was never implemented first. For example, some companies just assume consumers know what a carbon credit is and that consumers will buy into a company's green credentials based on that sort of claim alone. Not true."

"The green marketing movement is very cart-before-the-horse right now, and it seems that few players in this space really understand that investing in educational groundwork will ultimately be needed to achieve meaningful connections between green messages and consumers."

Eco Pulse respondents also confirmed the skepticism that Shelton Group has been monitoring in recent nationwide focus groups regarding green corporate positioning.

When asked why most companies that adopt environmentally friendly practices do so, most (47 percent) responded "to make their company look better to the public." Only 13 percent believed it was "because their owners/shareholders care about the environment."



Gordon Brown suffered the humiliation on Friday of Labour crashing to fifth place in the Henley by-election on his first anniversary as prime minister. The unprecedented result, which placed the government behind the Green party and the far-right British National Party, is likely to raise further questions about Mr Brown's leadership and increase calls for change from Labour MPs.

The Conservatives comfortably held one of their safer seats, vacated by Boris Johnson when he left parliament to serve as London Mayor. John Howell, the Tory candidate, secured a majority of 10,116, increasing the Tory share of the vote from 53.5 per cent in 2005 to 57.5 per cent. In his acceptance speech he said "the British public has sent a message to Gordon Brown to 'get off our backs, stop the endless tax rises and help us cope with the rising cost of living'".

Labour expectations were extremely low ahead of the vote. But even the most pessimistic Labour MPs will be shocked that the governing party won little more than 1,000 votes, lost its 500 pounds deposit and trailed two parties with no representation in parliament.

Martin Salter, the Labour MP leading their campaign in Henley, described it as a "grim result" in which the government "reaped the whirlwind" of voter dismay over the credit crunch and faltering economy. "It is very difficult to divine a clear message for Gordon Brown in a seat in which we had no chance at all," he said.

Labour's share of the vote slumped from 14.8 per cent in 2005 to about 3 per cent - well short of the 5 per cent share required to keep their deposit. Lord Renard, the Liberal Democrat chief executive, said it was "abject humiliation" for Mr Brown.

More here

And below is the high-tax "Green" mentality that lost the election:

GORDON Brown was set to signal today he is prepared to take on public opinion over green taxes. The Prime Minister was to insist "real leadership" is necessary to reduce Britain's carbon footprint.

Announcing a 100 billion pound programme to slash greenhouse gas emissions, Mr Brown was due to say UK lifestyles must change over the next decade. The Government has been under pressure over green incentives such as tax hikes for owners of the most polluting, gas-guzzling vehicles.

But, at a lower carbon economy summit in London today, Mr Brown was to say a low carbon society will not emerge from a "business as usual" approach. "It will require real leadership from government - being prepared to make hard decisions on planning or on tax, for example, rather than tacking and changing according to the polls. It will require an investment programme of around 100 billion over the next 12 years. "It will involve new forms of economic activity and social organisation. "It will mean new kinds of consumer behaviour and lifestyles. "And it will demand creativity, innovation and entrepreneurialism throughout our economy and our society."

Thousands of new wind turbines could be built across the UK over the coming decade as part of the radical blueprint being unveiled today. Business Secretary John Hutton acknowledged the "green" power plants would cost more and take up more land than conventional electricity generation, but said Britain had "no choice" about moving to lower-carbon energy.



Germany might reintroduce a _5bn-a-year (œ4bn, $7.8bn) tax break for commuters to shield consumers from rising petrol prices.

Senior officials from the Christian Democratic Union led by Angela Merkel, the chancellor, told the Financial Times the pressure to bring back a tax subsidy that was abolished last year, was so high that "we will not have the political strength to resist it". The admission comes as legislators frantically seek to alleviate the effects on voters of rising food and energy prices, which they fear could weaken consumption and dent support for the ruling parties in the run-up to next year's general election.

Using taxes to offset rising petrol prices would mark a U-turn for Germany, which recently rejected French suggestions that European governments should cut levies on petrol to protect consumers' purchasing power. Coalition parliamentarians yesterday said such a move would garner a broad majority in the house.

More here


As Japan prepares to host the Group of Eight Summit in ten days' time, it appears that the agenda will undergo a change to reflect current world concerns over the prices of food and oil. According to Japanese officials directly involved in the summit preparations, the summit's focus is likely to shift from climate change to rising prices, as leaders of the world's richest countries search for solutions to escalating costs that are affecting rich and poor nations alike.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, following a summit early this month in Rome, is working on ways to implement action plans adopted at the summit to improve food security.

The results of a policy dialogue among major oil producing and consuming nations in Saudi Arabia last weekend were disappointing; the host country promised to increase production by 200,000 barrels a day, but this was not expected to have much impact on the global oil market. "The world economic outlook is quite different from that prior to the previous Heiligendamm summit," said Masaharu Kono, deputy foreign minister in charge of economic affairs, referring to last year's G8 summit in Germany. Kono was speaking to the foreign press in Tokyo last week.

Originally, the summit was expected to focus on climate change - hardly a promising agenda for leaders interested in a "successful" outcome for the meeting. This issue is "one of the most difficult problems mankind has ever faced," said Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura Tuesday at a meeting of foreign journalists in Japan. The complexity of the task was apparent at the latest Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, which took place last weekend in Seoul, South Korea. More than 12 hours of debate failed to produce a common language of consent on long-term - let alone mid-term - carbon emissions targets.

At the G8 meeting Japan is determined to sell its Cool Earth Partnership program, outlining its proposed policy incentives and demonstrating its energy-saving technologies and low-carbon products at the summit venue. "Our main goal is to forge a post-Kyoto framework in which all the major emissions nations can participate," stressed Komura.

On the third and final day of the summit, an extended meeting between G8 leaders and what is known as the Outreach Five nations - Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa - will be held. These 13 nations produce almost 80 percent of global carbon emissions.

Another major item on the agenda will be Africa. Japan has invited eight African leaders to dialogue with G8 leaders on July 7, the first working day of the conference.

The summit's political issues will cover nuclear non-proliferation, focusing mainly on Iran and North Korea, as well as peace building in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan.

For the host Japan, the issue of North Korea has suddenly come to the fore, as the U.S. administration is expected to remove North Korea from its list of terrorism-supporting nations and grant it other benefits, after Pyongyang submitted details of its nuclear programs to China on Thursday as part of an earlier agreement. The delisting, Japan fears, may undermine its efforts to push Pyongyang to release more than a dozen Japanese citizens abducted nearly three decades ago.

On Wednesday U.S. President George W. Bush held a 20-minute telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, affirming that he would "never forget about the abduction cases" and promising close cooperation on the matter, according to a Foreign Ministry press release.

Among the nine leaders expected at the G8 summit - eight plus the European Union Commissioner - there will be four new faces: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The merit of the annual summit is the fact that "these leaders can talk freely and interactively without any interference," said Kono, who will serve as aide to Fukuda, the summit chairman.

This year's G8 summit carries echoes of the very first summit - then the G6 - held in Rambouillet, France in 1975, in the wake of a global recession sparked by the 1973 oil crisis. More recent summits have drifted away from economic issues to focus on post-9/11 terrorism, infectious diseases, African development and climate change. In addition to the state actors, non-state actors including non-governmental organizations - invited and uninvited - as well as business and interest groups are expected to converge around the otherwise pristine volcanic Lake Toya, site of the summit. "This summit will be very colorful and with much diversity," Kono predicts.


How "Smart Growth" Exacerbated the International Financial Crisis

The U.S. mortgage meltdown has dominated business news for months. The crisis seems to deepen daily, and its impacts are felt throughout an increasingly interdependent financial world. Only recently, the Organization for Economic and Development (OECD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have suggested that losses of an additional $250 billion to $1 trillion may yet be in the offing. In the ongoing debate over the causes and cures of the mortgage meltdown, one of the most important factors has been virtually absent: the role of excessive land use regulations in exacerbating the extent of losses.

What Is Excessive Land Use Regulation?

As we know from introductory courses in economics, scarcity raises prices. In a number of metropolitan markets across the country, excessive land use policies have been adopted, such as urban growth boundaries, huge areas recently declared off-limits to development, building moratoria, confiscatory and unprecedented impact fees, and excessively large minimum lot sizes.

These policies, often referred to as "smart growth," create a scarcity of land, artificially raise the price of housing, and, again, have increased the exposure of the market to risky mortgage debt. When more liberal loan policies were implemented, metropolitan areas that had adopted these more restrictive policies lacked the resilient land markets that would have allowed the greater demand to be accommodated without inordinate increases in house prices.

A few voices in the wilderness on both sides of the political spectrum have pointed to the role of excessive land use policies in driving up housing costs. For example: Liberal economist Paul Krugman of The New York Times put most of his conservative colleagues to shame in noting that the house price bubble has been limited to metropolitan areas with strong land use regulation. Conservative Thomas Sowell, no stranger to being a voice in the wilderness, has made similar points. More recently, Theo Eicher of the University of Washington produced a working paper placing much of the blame for house price escalation on land use regulation in cities around the nation.

Consequences of Excessive Land Use Regulation

How does all of this relate to the mortgage meltdown and the subprime crisis? It is very simple. There is no question that more liberal loan policies were the proximate cause. But the strict land use regulations forced prices up much more than would have been the case if the previous more traditional yet environmentally sound regulation had been retained.

Places like California, the Northeast, the Northwest, and Florida have implemented excessive land use controls. As a result, their land use planning systems have not been able to accommodate the stronger demand created in the more profligate lending environment. At the same time, as a result of its more relaxed land regulation, much of the rest of the nation was far better able to accommodate the higher demand. This includes the high-income world's three fastest-growing metropolitan areas with a population of more than 5,000,000: Atlanta, Georgia, and Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.

This is illustrated by developments in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan markets. Between 2000 and 2007, house prices increased an average of more than $275,000 compared to incomes (house price to household income ratio) in the 10 markets with the greatest price escalation or the greatest affordability loss. Among the second 10 markets with the greatest affordability loss, prices rose $135,000 relative to incomes. By contrast, in the markets with the least affordability loss, house prices increased only $5,000. (See table.)

What the 20 markets that have lost the most affordability have in common is excessive land use regulation. Virtually everyone knows the distress that such cost increases mean for America's households.

But there are broader economic consequences that have expanded to the international market. From 2000 to 2007, the gross value of the U.S. housing stock rose $5.3 trillion relative to household incomes. It is estimated that $4.4 trillion of this increase occurred in the 20 most escalating markets, all of which are characterized by excessive land use planning. In each of four markets (Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Washington, and Miami), the aggregate escalation above incomes was a third of a trillion dollars or more.

While there have been modest house price reductions in the most expensive markets, far larger drops would be required to restore previous levels of housing affordability in the most expensive markets. Moreover, Bureau of the Census estimates indicate that many of the markets that have lost so much affordability are also losing large numbers of households to more affordable areas of the country, which could suggest that house prices may well drop even further.[1]

Over the same period, the nation's gross residential mortgage exposure rose $4.8 trillion relative to household incomes. If the distribution of mortgage exposure increase tracked with the increase in excess value noted above, then 83 percent is attributable to the 20 most escalating markets-again, all with restrictive land use planning or smart growth. Stated another way, if price-escalating smart growth policies had not been adopted in state capitals, county courthouses, and local planning commissions, the financial risk in the current crisis would be at least $4 trillion less. This is a very high concentration of excess mortgage exposure, since these markets account for only 26 percent of the nation's owner-occupied housing stock.

The tragedy is that when most of these decisions were made, there was not the slightest consideration of economics-the upward pressure on house prices-or the number of households that would be denied home ownership in the years to come. Yet these local decisions played a major role in what The Economist magazine called a near global collapse.

Exacerbating the International Finance Crisis

Simply put, without smart growth, the international financial crisis that has raised so much appropriate concern would have been much less severe. Thus far, the policies of the Federal Reserve Board have failed to take notice of this important connection. Any serious effort to prevent a repeat of such destructive price volatility will require removing these destructive land use regulations that have done so much to destroy housing affordability in many markets while adding inordinately to the financial distress that is being felt around the world. Economics-challenged state and local politicians must not be permitted to steer the international economy into an iceberg.



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.


1 comment:

John A said...

Ozone? Destroying it is a good thing? When did that happen? Does anyone else remember "the hole in the ozone layer" for which our refrigerators, aerosols (hair spray etc), and air conditioners were forcibly removed and replaced somewhat when re-engineered to use less-efficient components and methodologies?

Bring back CFCs! For the good of the environment!