Saturday, July 05, 2008


The Russian embassy in Ottawa is suggesting next week's G8 summit in Japan won't likely produce hard targets for cutting the world's greenhouse-gas emissions. Embassy official Sergey Khudyakov says Russia isn't ruling out firm reduction goals for the years 2020 and 2050 - but he adds the summit on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido isn't the place to set global targets.

Khudyakov says the role of the Group of Eight wealthy, industrialized nations is to hatch ideas to help the world solve the problem of climate change, not dictate global policy. He says the Russian position is closely aligned with the Canadian government's in opposing any pact that doesn't include the world's biggest polluters, like China and India.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also said any climate change plan must also balance environmental and economic concerns. The G8 includes Britain, Canada, the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.


NASA Aerospace Engineer: 'Global warming to be recognized as a hoax'

The writer below, Dirck T. Hartmann, worked on the Apollo Space Program and many other significant NASA projects. He is a scientist/engineer/physicist now aged 87 but still clear and lucid

What is your carbon footprint? That is the wrong question to ask. A more meaningful question is--How much carbon dioxide does it take to grow the wheat required to produce a loaf of bread? Or--How much carbon dioxide does it take to grow the corn for the chicken feed required to produce a dozen eggs? Far from being a pollutant, man along with every animal on land, fish in the sea, and bird in the air is totally dependent on atmospheric carbon dioxide for his food supply.

Some politicians complain that the United States with only 3% of the world population uses 25% of the energy. But the clean carbon dioxide which we produce is increasing food production everywhere on earth. China, on the other hand, is building new power plants at a record rate using the abundant domestic supply of coal they have and has now passed the United States as the leading producer of carbon dioxide. Although their coal has a high sulfur content, they are building the new plants without any pollution controls. The sulfur dioxide which these power plants are releasing to the atmosphere, besides smelling like rotten eggs is, in sunlight, readily converted to sulfur trioxide, the highly soluble gas responsible for most acid rain.

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, using energy from sunlight, convert carbon dioxide and water into high energy fuels. It is responsible for all the fuel that feeds forest fires, and for the rapid grow-back of fuel after a fire. But even with the hundreds of millions of tons of coal and the billions of barrels of oil and gasoline that are burned annually, the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere remains about .04%.

It has been estimated that more than two hundred billion tons of atmospheric carbon are fixed yearly by photosynthesis, 10%to 20% by land plants, and the remaining 80%to 90% by plant plankton and algae in the ocean, which constantly resupply us with oxygen. Atmospheric carbon dioxide acts like a thermostat for plant growth, increases triggering vast blooms of ocean algae, and spurts in the rate of growth of land plants. As long as man burns coal and oil responsibly, that is with pollution controls that minimize the production of acid rain, the earth can never have too much carbon dioxide. The plants will not permit it.

Anyone who has lived in a desert area where the relative humidity is frequently below 5%, knows that dry air is a lousy green house gas. It can be 115 degrees F (46 degrees C) during the day yet cool off so rapidly that a sweater is needed two or three hours after sunset. Despite the heat sink of the ground with rocks hot enough to fry an egg, the heat is radiated rapidly away through the dry air to the clear night sky. Since dry desert air has about the same .04% concentration of carbon dioxide as air everywhere else, it is not credible to conclude that carbon dioxide is causing global warming. Water vapor is the most effective greenhouse gas by far. With high humidity, even without cloud cover, the night air cools at a rate so slow as to be nearly imperceptible, particularly if you are trying to sleep without air conditioning.

High humidity is the reason nights are so balmy in the tropics. At 100 degrees F and 100% relative humidity, water vapor accounts for only 2% of the atmosphere. It has a greater effect than all other greenhouse gases combined but, since it cannot be regulated, is rarely mentioned as a greenhouse gas.

If human activity is not the cause, why are the ice sheets on the earth poles receding? They are melting for the same reason that the polar caps on Mars are melting. For the 200 years or so that a record of sun spot activity has been kept, it has been observed that global temperatures on earth correlate closely with sun spot activity,very low activity corresponding to a mini ice age, and high activity to global warming.

Every second the sun converts 564 million tons of hydrogen into 560 million tons of helium, consuming its mass at the rate of 4 million tons per second. It has been doing this for 4.5 billion years and has about 4.5 billion years to go before all its hydrogen is used up. At that time it will have consumed less than 1% of its mass. This enormous solar furnace is responsible for climate change as well as all weather on earth.

The U.S. has a domestic supply of coal that is alone sufficient to meet our present power needs and projections for growth for at least 1,000 years, even without building any new nuclear power plants. Burning the coal responsibly and releasing the carbon locked up in it as clean carbon dioxide will benefit crop yields all over the earth. The great atmospheric patterns of air movements ensure a steady supply of carbon dioxide for crop growth, and a steady supply of oxygen for animals and people.

To increase the rate at which photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a respected scientist proposed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, seeding the ocean to trigger algae blooms. This practical, inexpensive, highly effective means for sequestering carbon dioxide would benefit the food chain in the oceans and increase fish populations. But because it did not impose hardships, require trading carbon credits, punish the U.S. or any other nation, or require increased governmental control, the IPCC rejected it. The IPCC uses the hoax of man made global warming to increase its power and that of a corrupt, anti-American United Nations that has proven itself impotent in combating world wide acts of terrorism, genocide in Sudan, the real threat of nuclear proliferation in the mid-east from Iran and Syria, or human rights violations in China and Africa.

Our mainstream media uses every opportunity to hype the hoax of man made global warming by repeated reporting of data and events that appear to support it, and ignoring those that contradict it. When the NFC championship game In 2007 between the Packers and the New York Giants was played at Green Bay in record low temperatures and blizzard conditions, there was no mention of global cooling; nor was there any in 2007 when below freezing temperatures threatened the vegetable crops in the south and the citrus crops in Florida. The drought in California is the result of colder than normal conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and the fact that ocean temperatures along the Pacific coast have been falling for the last three years is never mentioned. But after hurricane Katrina we were fed a host of dire predictions which warned of the increasing severity of storms, the melting of the polar ice caps, and the flooding of coastal areas from rising sea level, if we do not drastically reduce the release of greenhouse gasses to combat global warming. Which greenhouse gasses is not specified. We already have pollution controls in the smokestacks of most power plants, steel mills, and factories that minimize the release of sulfur dioxide.

The only completely uncontrolled exhaust gas is carbon dioxide, and photosynthesis automatically controls its atmospheric concentration for us.

Three billion years ago when the earth's atmosphere was an unbreathable brew of noxious gases with almost no oxygen, a small green algae evolved in the ocean which, using the energy from sunlight over a few million years, completely altered the earth's atmosphere. This oceanic green algae, the first plant to use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide and water into high energy fuel, was of course followed by the evolution of an almost limitless number and variety of carbon dioxide consuming plants.

Fortunately for mankind and all animals, fish,and birds, all of whom are totally dependent on plants, the oceanic green algae continues to perform its magic in the oceans of the earth today. Every three centuries all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and dissolved in the waters of the earth goes through the cycle photosynthesis, decay, photosynthesis, with the cycle constantly renewing the earth's supply of oxygen.

People on the left claim global warming is real, a threat to the continued existence of mankind, and the debate as to its cause is over! Although none of this is true, it nevertheless is what four of my grandchildren were taught in high school. Most politicians on the left have little respect for truth and no regard for clarity, and apparently many high school teachers reflect their views.

My oldest granddaughter just graduated from MIT, where she was spared the political rhetoric of the left on global warming. However Caltech's Argyros Professor and professor of chemistry, in an article titled "Powering the Planet"states "The carbon dioxide we produce over the next 40 years, and its associated effects will last for a timescale comparable to modern human history. This is why, within the next 20 years we either solve this problem or the world will never be the same."

This is nonsense. It ignores the more than 200 billion tons of carbon that is sequestered yearly through photosynthesis from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Since this has been known for 40 years, I can only assume he is politically motivated to make such a statement. Hopefully man made global warming will come to be recognized for the hoax It truly is.


"Footprint" myths

As concern over global warming grows, urban planning advocates have jumped on the bandwagon by claiming cities should reduce their carbon footprints by investing more in transit and compact development. However, these claims are not supported by the data, most of which show that transit and dense development are no more environmentally friendly than autos and low-density suburbs.

This debate is an echo of efforts to reduce toxic air pollution, such as carbon monoxide and smog, which began in 1970. Some said we should encourage people to drive less and take transit more. Others said we should use new technologies to make the cars we drive cleaner.


Looking back, we now know that technical solutions were phenomenally successful: though we drive three times as much as we did in 1970, total auto emissions are down by about two thirds. Meanwhile, attempts to change people's lifestyles were miserable failures. Despite investing hundreds of billions in transit, the share of people and commuters riding transit has declined throughout the U.S.

A new study from the Brookings Institution ignores this history when it recommends that cities invest in transit and compact development to reduce their carbon footprints. On a per-passenger-mile basis, transit buses emit more greenhouse gases than an average SUV, and most light-rail lines emit more greenhouse gases than the average automobile. Denver's light rail is even worse than the average bus.

Meanwhile, data gathered by the Australian Conservation Foundation revealed that per-capita carbon emissions from people living in single-family homes are lower than people living in low-rise, mid-rise, and high-rise apartments and condos. This suggests that compact development will increase, not reduce, our carbon footprint.

Even to the extent that transit and compact development could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have to ask: at what cost? A recent report published by McKinsey, the famous consulting firm, found that America could significantly reduce its total greenhouse emissions by investing in technologies that cost no more than $50 per ton of reduced emissions. Neither compact development nor transit would meet this cost test.

More efficient cars

Instead, McKinsey urged auto manufacturers to make cars out of lighter weight, energy-saving materials. This would pay for itself in lower fuel costs.

Traffic congestion causes motorists to waste nearly 3 billion gallons of fuel and spew 26 billion tons of CO2 into the air each year. Relieving that congestion by tolling freeways can reduce greenhouse emissions at practically no cost, while coordinating traffic signals on city streets will reduce emissions at a cost of about $11 per ton.

Transit improvements, however, will cost far more than $50 a ton. Converting buses to biodiesel, for example, costs nearly $200 per ton. Using buses with hybrid motors costs more than $1,000 a ton.

When you count the carbon footprint from building rail transit, rails almost always lose, especially in regions where fossil fuels are used to generate most electricity. The Minneapolis light rail is one of the more successful lines in the country (which isn't saying much). It operations produce less carbon emissions than the average auto, but at a cost of nearly $5,000 per ton-not counting the carbon emitted during construction.

Even in regions that rely on hydro and other renewable energy for electricity, rail transit loses when you count the carbon emissions from the feeder bus systems needed to support the rail lines. Transit systems in Portland, Sacramento, and other cities ended up consuming more energy and emitting more greenhouse gases, per passenger mile, after they open new rail lines because of extensive, but little-used, feeder bus networks.

Nor is there any evidence that compact development can cost-effectively reduce CO2 emissions. One study found that compact development reduces emissions, but estimated the cost would be more than $60,000 per ton.

Again, better technology makes more sense than trying to change people's lifestyles. Homeowners can save more energy and greenhouse gas emissions by installing better installation than by moving into high-density developments. The concrete and steel needed to build mid-rise and high-rise apartments, for example, emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

If global warming is truly a problem, we can't waste resources trying to get people to make expensive and ineffective changes in their lifestyles. Anyone who recommends changing your lifestyle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without showing you that those changes are cost effective is wasting your time and money.



If truth is the first casualty of war, then environmental concern is the first casualty of economic recession. Surveys of Canadian voters showed the environment to be their first or second concern in 1989-90. At that time, though, the economy was booming, pumping out tens of thousands of new jobs a month. A year-and-a-half later, with the economy locked in the worst recession in 60 years, government finances were imploding, jobs disappearing and foreclosure wolves circling, the environment vanished from the top 10.

There will always be a small, hard-core voter base motivated by eco-issues. They're not worried about losing their jobs in an environmentalist-driven recession. They know that if they get laid off from the alternative music store, they can always go clerk at the Gaia Vegan Market or Wiccans 'R' Us. But for most people, the environment is a luxury good -- easily expendable when their livelihoods and homes are threatened.

As with most other bad, but fashionable left-wing political ideas, Europe glommed onto carbon taxes before North America. But now that the worldwide credit crunch and commodity-price boom have hit the European economy, voter hostility to carbon taxes is growing-- rapidly.

Any Canadian political leader thinking an environmental tax on gasoline, home heating, air travel, electricity and construction materials would be a good idea, while Canada's manufacturing and tourism sectors are bleeding profusely, might want to take a lesson from Gordon Brown.

Mr. Brown succeeded Tony Blair as British prime minister last year. At the time, he and his Labour party were reasonably popular, well ahead of the opposition Tories in all major opinion polls.

Surfing the crest of "green" sentiment, Mr. Brown's government introduced a raft of environmental taxes and charges to show how eco-friendly and Earth-empathetic it was.

The average British motorist now pays nearly $2,000 in fuel taxes a year, the most in Europe. Tolls on roads and surcharges on vehicle purchases have risen, too, to discourage use of private automobiles and herd commuters onto public transportation.

Industrial energy costs have gone up as much as 20% (not counting recent rises in oil and natural gas), thanks to a new national carbon-trading scheme and green levies on factories and transportation. In all, British businesses now pay an estimated $45-billion annually in green fees and taxes. Nearly half of that sum has been added since 2001, a period during which, not coincidentally, the country has witnessed the loss of 1 million manufacturing jobs.

The Brown government even flirted with a campaign called "Zero Carbon Britain." Designed to reduce Britain's carbon emissions to zero by 2027, the plan would have meant an end to most air travel and the elimination of gasoline and diesel cars. Meat would been forbidden from most meals and an "armada" of wind turbines would have blighted nearly every square kilometre of British coastline.

Carbon "credit cards" would have been issued to every Briton. Each time the bearer purchased carbon-based fuels, he would have had to swipe his carbon card. If he ran out of credits before the end of the year, he would have had to buy more from people not using all of theirs.

Not surprisingly, after Mr. Brown's Labour party lost two safe seats (think of Canada's Liberals in Montreal's Outremont riding) in byelections last month -- the first byelection

wins for the rival Tories in 26 years -- the zero-carbon plan was shelved within two days. The government's own report estimating that the conversion of Britain to renewable energy would cost every family an additional $7,000 a year was a major issue during the campaign.

The situation is the same in other European countries:

-Denmark introduced a carbon tax in the mid-1990s and cut carbon emissions by 10%, but at the cost of one-quarter of that country's manufacturing jobs.

-France, also facing a sharp decline in jobs, is considering whether to jettison its commitment to the Kyoto accords or impose carbon tariffs on goods coming in from countries with no Kyoto carbon limits, such as China and India.

-Germany's Angela Merkel, who bills herself as the "Climate Chancellor," has recently been keeping a low profile, as last year's popular "green" initiatives have tightened the screw of this year's recession.

European politics are in turmoil because the environment is a good-times-only issue for voters, and good times are disappearing. Talk of a Canadian carbon tax should be tempered accordingly.


Some plastic bag realities

By Justin King, chief executive of British supermarket, Sainsbury's

Data suggests that following the introduction of a bag levy in Ireland, polythene imports returned to original levels after an initial dip. This was partly due to an increase in the sale of polythene bin liners as people had previously used plastic bags. People are also said to have become used to the tax and now ask for plastic bags again.

Like many environmental issues, plastic, and its use in bags, is a complex problem. Customers are concerned about three key aspects: that a valued raw resource is being used (in this case oil); the environmental impact (or carbon effect) of the manufacture, transport and use of bags; and the impact of their disposal, whether in landfill or as litter.

The effect plastic has on the environment is a wider issue than the number of bags we use. For a start, not all bags are equal. Sainsbury's is still the only major retailer to have reduced the amount of plastic used to manufacture bags. Today we've also announced that our bags, currently made with 33pc recycled content and 10pc chalk, will by June use 50pc recycled content. In this way we have reduced the amount of plastic used. Last month Wrap acknowledged our 40pc reduction in our environmental impact to date versus an industry average of 14pc, and also ahead of the agreed 25pc target by the end of 2008.

If plastic is the demon then the bag is just one of many uses. For many customers, packaging is a bigger issue. Why would we wrap a cucumber in plastic or put apples in a bag? Well, because they last nearly two weeks longer. In April, Wrap research showed storing fruit and vegetables in their original plastic wrapping in the fridge makes them last significantly longer. It also retains the nutritional goodness of the food. So what's the bigger evil - food waste or packaging?

The environmental impact of the manufacture, distribution and use of plastic bags also busts another myth - that paper is the answer. An irony in Ireland following the levy was that many retailers introduced paper bags. Although they can degrade or rot in a compost heap, they are on average six times heavier than plastic bags and take up 10 times the space. They therefore need more fuel and vehicle space to transport than a plastic bag. A University of Winnipeg study concluded that in their manufacture "paper bags are twice as energy intensive as a plastic one". They're also weaker, especially when wet, so cannot be reused as often, so it's likely we could end up using even more.

What of plastic disposal? There are limited facilities in the UK for plastic recycling, no meaningful incentives for these to be established and no consistency between councils. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that if you live within reach of a Sainsbury's supermarket we'll get them recycled for you. Last year customers brought back 85m bags to be recycled. Surely action on recycling would be a better area for legislation? If all councils had a uniform approach to recycling how much easier life would be.

As I said, it's complex. Sainsbury's focuses on "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". Only take a disposable bag if you really need it, and fill it - it's been designed for the purpose. Reuse bags whenever you can. And when they've served you well - give them back. So I'm not saying plastic and bags are not an issue, but let's engage people in sensible debate to effect real and sustainable change. Surely that's the overall goal.


The good old ocean acidity scare gets another outing in Australia

The writers below DO NOT believe in global warming. They only say they do. Why? Because warmer oceans are capable of holding LESS CO2. Open a bottle of Coke when it is warm and see how the gas surges out if you doubt it. And if the oceans have less CO2 in them, they contain less of the carbonic acid that the CO2 becomes while in solution! So the oceans would have a REDUCED tendency towards acidity under warming. The fact that corals etc. have survived much warmer periods in the earth's past is also conveniently not mentioned.

Now that Ross Garnaut's draft report has been released, most of the climate change debate in Australia will focus on the economic effects of any emissions trading scheme. However, there's another carbon problem, which will profoundly affect our oceans, that has received scant attention beyond a small band of marine scientists and is largely independent of global warming. The public, aware of the role of carbon dioxide in climate change, doesn't know of its function in acidifying the oceans and the hundreds of years that would be required for recovery.

Ocean acidification refers to the natural process whereby carbon dioxide dissolves in the sea, forming a weak carbonic acid. The ocean is a major sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide and has absorbed about 48 per cent of the CO2 emitted by human activities since the pre-industrial age. A recent report from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre claimed that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its highest level in 650,000 years, and possibly 23 million years, and half has been dissolved in the oceans, making them more acidic.

Australia has a direct stake in the ocean acidification problem: it will affect every part of our marine environment. And our offshore estate has just become a lot bigger. Three months ago the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, while not accepting all bids, recognised Australia's claim to the continental shelf where it extends beyond our exclusive 200 nautical mile economic zone. This is a vast oceanic area: 2.5 million square kilometres, or 10 times the size of New Zealand and 20 times the size of Britain.

Rising levels of acidity in the oceans surrounding Australia could have a profound impact on marine industries and dire consequences for many Pacific Island communities, presenting strategic and humanitarian challenges.

Mounting levels of CO2 in the Southern Ocean has caused deep concern among scientists studying the long-term productivity of the world's oceans. Under conditions of increasing acidification, parts of the oceans will deteriorate and progressively become uninhabitable for certain types of plankton, central to the ocean food chain, and coral structures. The Southern Ocean is particularly important because it is very efficient at absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere: it's here where the first effects are being felt.

Ocean acidification is likely to have a cascading effect, reaching parts of the food chain such as fish and shellfish. Marine researchers are saying that a business-as-usual scenario of CO2 production will ultimately result in destruction of marine life on an enormous scale. Some shell-forming species will struggle to maintain or reproduce their vital shell structures and skeletons, which will have a direct effect on the ocean food web. Some species will decline, others will be displaced or will disappear, and patterns of fisheries will change, potentially threatening the food security of millions in the Asia-Pacific and damaging Australian fisheries economically.

Another study identified ocean acidification as a primary causal factor in common reef fish getting lost at sea during a crucial stage of their development. And rising acidification could also interfere with the respiration of fish, the larval development of marine organisms and the ability of oceans to absorb nutrients and toxins.

Coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef, which are hot spots of biodiversity, will suffer. Acidification will weaken coral structures and stunt coral growth, leading to a significant decline by the middle of this century. This will deprive parts of the Australian coastline of a natural protective barrier against the ocean, leading to greater threats from storm activity and cyclones.....

As the debate about who wins and who loses in the future Australian emissions trading regime intensifies, we should remember that with ocean acidification there will only be losers. Discovering the ecological effects of our souring oceans requires urgent action.

The authors above: Anthony Bergin is director of research programs at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Ross Allen is a research analyst at ASPI. The above are their personal views. It looks like both of them reply on others for a knowledge of chemistry and physics

More here


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.


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