Friday, August 29, 2008

Another Prominent Scientist Dissents from Warming Fears at an International Conference

"For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?" - Geologist Dr. David Gee

On August 8, 2008, Geologist Dr. David Gee, the chairman of the science committee of the recently concluded International Geological Congress, dismissed the notion that the "science is settled" on man-made climate fears by asking his fellow scientists "How sure can we be?" about carbon dioxide driving global temperatures.

Note: The International Geological Congress prominently featured the voices and views of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears. See Full report here

Gee was perhaps one of the most prominent and accomplished scientists attending the conference in Oslo. Gee, currently a professor at Dept. for Geosciences of Uppsala University in Sweden, was awarded the European Geosciences Union award for his scientific leadership of EUROPROBE, a multidisciplinary research project that brought hundreds of senior scientists, postdocs and doctoral students together to study tectonic structures within Europe. EUROPROBE was a project of the International Lithosphere Program and the European Science Foundation. Gee has led geologic expeditions to such locales as Svalbard, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, the Polar Urals and the Taimyr Peninsula and has authored numerous scientific papers. He also chairs a Swedish Research Council committee. Dr. Gee's full bio here

Full excerpt of Gee's presentation to the International Geological Congress on August 8, 2008:

"Here we look (at the graph) at the last 100 years and here we look at carbon dioxide climbing from about 280ppm to 380 now and we see temperature as well. And we have talked about it all day here haven't we? About the natural variation which produced the ups and downs through the 1910's 1920's, 1930's and 40's, -- increasing -- going down, apparently independent of carbon dioxide and now an increase in temperature thanks to carbon dioxide, apparently. And I think we need to have this in our minds all the time -- How sure can we be? If I could have the next slide please.

If we look at last ten years, this is the thing we have been quarrelling about. You see on left there in 1998, the temperature when we had the El Nino, and the very high peak in 1998 and then a general sinking and flattening and then two years of sharply decreasing temperatures. I don't think anyone quarrels about this; this is international data and well established graphs. You see the carbon dioxide curve going straight across that diagram from left to right, upwards. So my question is extremely simple, we know temperature goes up and down. We know there is tremendous amount of natural variations, but for how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand -- we politicians and scientists-- that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?" the scientist asked to applause from the audience."

Thirty Years of a Failed Democrat Energy Policy

By Alan Caruba

Millions will tune in to hear Sen. Barack Obama's acceptance speech as the Democrat Party's choice to be the next President of the United States. For Americans, the need to pay particular attention to his speech is essential if we are to escape thirty years of a failed Democrat energy policy.

From the days President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House and secured a windfall profit taxes on American oil companies, this nation has been made vulnerable to our enemies by emphasizing alternative energy and biofuels as the answer to our growing need for oil and electrical power.

The windfall profits tax led to the decline of the oil industry's investments in oil exploration and extraction in the United States, and to their understandable reluctance to invest billions in the building of much needed refineries.

Congress, since 2006, has been controlled by Democrats as the majority party. In the Senate, Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, has said that "Oil makes us sick. Coal makes us sick. Global warming makes us sick." This is such blatant nonsense that, were it spoken by anyone else, it would be easily dismissed. However, Sen. Reid controls the legislative agenda of the U.S. Senate! His counterpart in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has said that her job is to "save the planet."

We should consider the total lack of any substantive legislation the Democrat Congress has produced in the two years they have been in control. We should consider the prospects if they are permitted to continue and their candidate should become President. For this reason alone we should listen closely to Sen. Obama.

Fact: Global warming was and is a hoax. Thousands of scientists worldwide have dismissed the false computer models on which it is based, but more importantly at this time is the fact that the Earth has been demonstrably cooling for at least a decade.

Even the venerable Farmer's Almanac predicts "below average temperatures for most of the U.S." The 192-year-old publication which claims an accurate rate of 80 to 85 percent for its forecasts, prepared two years in advance, says in its 2009 edition that at least two-thirds of the country can expect "colder-than-average temperatures this winter, with only the Far West and Southeast in line for near-normal readings." "This is going to be catastrophic for millions of people," said editor Peter Geiger.

I will tell you what also will be catastrophic: the election of Sen. Barack Obama and a Democrat Congress if their thirty years of attacks on the American oil industry continue, along with their thirty years of support for biofuels, ethanol, and so-called "alternative energy" or "clean energy." As my friend, Seldon Graham, Jr., with fifty years' experience as a petroleum engineer and attorney, says, "The U.S. needs to eliminate both ethanol and foreign oil. If it is worth fighting for in the Middle East, it is worth drilling for in the United States."

You will not hear such straight talk from Sen. Obama and you have not heard it from the leadership of the Democrat Party. Instead you have heard the steady drumbeat of attacks on the American oil industry and the advocacy of failed energy policies that cost Americans millions at the gas pump and leave millions vulnerable to high costs when they heat their homes this winter.

Even Sen. McCain, who still believes the global warming hoax, has called for off-shore drilling. That is a small step in the right direction. A pragmatist, he will no doubt come to see the folly of further legislative programs to address a non-existent global warming threat, but it will be Sen. Obama's energy policies that hold the greatest threat to the nation's economy and future.


When Good Lizards Go Bad: Komodo Dragons Take Violent Turn

Indonesian villagers Blame Environmentalists for Reptiles' aggression

At least once a week, an unwelcome intruder crawls under a clapboard wall and, forked tongue darting, lumbers its way into Syarif Maulana's classroom. Then, everyone screams, there is no more school, and we all run away very fast," says the 10-year-old boy. "We are very afraid." The intruder, a Komodo dragon, is the world's largest lizard, an ancient, fierce carnivore found only on a handful of remote islands in eastern Indonesia. Reaching 10 feet in length, the dragons feed on buffaloes, deer and an occasional human. Just a year ago, a boy about Syarif's age died in a dragon's jaws, his bones smashed against rocks to facilitate reptilian digestion.

That killing, and a spate of other close encounters, has fanned a panic in the dragons' main habitat, the Komodo National Park. Touted by Indonesia as its "Jurassic Park," this rocky, barren archipelago is home to some 2,500 dragons and nearly 4,000 people, clustered in four fishing villages of wooden stilt houses. These locals have long viewed the dragons as a reincarnation of fellow kinsfolk, to be treated with reverence. But now, villagers say, the once-friendly dragons have turned into vicious man-eaters. And they blame policies drafted by American-funded environmentalists for this frightening turn of events.

"When I was growing up, I felt the dragons were my family," says 55-year-old Hajji Faisal. "But today the dragons are angry with us, and see us as enemies." The reason, he and many other villagers believe, is that environmentalists, in the name of preserving nature, have destroyed Komodo's age-old symbiosis between dragon and man. For centuries, local tradition required feeding the dragons -- which live more than 50 years, can recognize individual humans and usually stick to fairly small areas. Locals say they always left deer parts for the dragons after a hunt, and often tied goats to a post as sacrifice. Island taboos strictly prohibited hurting the giant reptiles, a possible reason why the dragons have survived in the Komodo area despite becoming extinct everywhere else. "For us, giving food to the dragons is an obligation, our sacred duty," says Hajji Adam, headman of the park's biggest village, Kampung Komodo.

Indonesia invited the Nature Conservancy, a Virginia-based environment protection group, to help manage the park in 1995. An Indonesian subsidiary of the group, called Putri Naga Komodo, gained a tourism concession for the park in 2005 and is investing in the conservation effort some $10 million of its own money and matching financing from international donors.

With this funding and advice, park authorities put an end to villagers' traditional deer hunting, enforcing a prohibition that had been widely disregarded. They declared canines an alien species, and outlawed the villagers' dogs, which used to keep dragons away from homes. Park authorities banned the goat sacrifices, previously staged on Komodo for the benefit of picture-snapping tourists. "We don't want the Komodo dragon to be domesticated. It's against natural balance," says Widodo Ramono, policy director of the Nature Conservancy's Indonesian branch and a former director of the country's national park service. "We have to keep this conservation area for the purpose of wildlife. It is not for human beings."

When people hunt deer, it poses a mortal threat to the dragons, which disappeared from a small island near Komodo after poachers decimated deer stocks there, officials say. "If we let the locals hunt again, the dragons will be gone," says Vinsensius Latief, the national park's chief for Komodo island. "If we are not strict in enforcing the ban, everything here will be destroyed."

But, while the deer population remains stable in the park, many dragons these days prefer to seek easier prey in the vicinity of humans. They frequently descend from the hills to the villages, hiding under stilt houses and waiting for a chance to snap at passing chicken or goats. Much to the fury of villagers, park authorities, while endorsing the idea in principle, so far haven't acted on repeated requests to build dragon-proof fences around the park's inhabited areas. The measure is estimated to cost about $5,000 per village. "People are scared because, every day, the dragons come down and eat our goats," complains Ibrahim Hamso, secretary of the Kampung Rinca village. "Today it's a goat, and tomorrow it can be our child."

A year ago, a 9-year-old named Mansur was one such victim. The boy went to answer the call of nature behind a bush near his home in Kampung Komodo. In broad daylight, as terrified relatives looked on, a dragon lunged from his hideout, took a bite of the boy's stomach and chest, and started crushing his skull. "We threw branches and stones to drive him away, but the dragon was crazed with blood, and just wouldn't let go," says the boy's father, Jamain, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name. Unlike in the U.S. and many other Western countries, park rangers here don't routinely put down animals that develop a taste for human flesh.

A few months later, Jamain's neighbor Mustaming Kiswanto, a 38-year-old who makes a living selling dragon woodcarvings to tourists, and whose son had been bitten by a dragon, was attacked by another giant lizard after falling asleep. In June, five European divers, stranded in an isolated part of the park, said they successfully fended off an aggressive dragon by throwing their weight belts at it.

One of the most famous lizard attacks occurred half a world away in 2001, when a Komodo dragon kept by the Los Angeles Zoo tried to ingest the foot of Phil Bronstein, then editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and husband of actress Sharon Stone.

To the villagers in Komodo, the recent incidents provide clear evidence of an ominous change in reptile behavior. "I don't blame the dragons for my boy's death. I blame those who forbade us from following custom and feeding them," says Jamain. "If it weren't for them, my boy would still be alive."

Officials at the Nature Conservancy's Indonesian headquarters in Bali dismiss such widespread belief about a connection between the attacks and the ban on feeding the dragons as "superstition." The group and its Komodo subsidiary reject any responsibility for Mansur's death. The boy "shouldn't have crouched like a prey species in a place where dragons live," says Marcus Matthews-Sawyer, tourism, marketing and communications director at Putri Naga Komodo. "You've got to be very careful about extrapolating and drawing any conclusions."

Despite such disbelief in the Komodo villagers' theories, executives at the Nature Conservancy's headquarters in the U.S. pledge to reach out and tackle local fears. "Any concern expressed by the villagers will be taken seriously and we will address it if we can," says Chief Communications Officer James R. Petterson. "The Komodo effort is a work in progress."

Dragon and man could coexist here in harmony in the past, Komodo park officials add, because at the time the area's human population was a fraction of today's size. Now, with local villages pushing deeper inland and attracting new settlers from elsewhere in Indonesia, conflict may be inevitable -- and even a fence won't be able to prevent dragon infiltrations. "The smell of the village -- goats, chicken, drying fish -- all this invites the dragons," says Mr. Latief. "And if the dragons can't grab the animals, they will bite the villagers."


Comment on the above from a reader in Oregon:

Actually, it is not entirely wrong to discourage feeding of dangerous predators. Just up the coast here, in Florence, they are having an awful problem with bears getting into people's homes, having to be trapped and destroyed. A lot of retired people who had moved to Florence thought it was cute to feed them, but this year on account of the cold weather (thanks, Global Warming!) the spring berry crop was poor so the bears wanted more garbage from the humans and people started finding bears on their porches, breaking their doors and windows, and eating pets. Then the trappers come in and catch or shoot the bears which is good because they should not be dependent on humans - fear them, in fact. And, of course, it is perfectly legal for homeowners to shoot threatening bears.

On the other hand, with regard to the Komodos, it sounds like the locals had a modus vivendi worked out, but here come the American earthniks who know better, and there's trouble in Komodo City. And, since apparently the earthniks outlawed dogs as well as guns, the villagers are left defenseless. The attitude of the earthniks is one I've observed before; animals come first, people we can do without. It's widespread in leftist circles.

Food shortage amelioration from an unexpected place

Now that Russia is Fascist (semi-capitalist) instead of Communist, we begin to get a glimpse of its huge agricultural potential -- even amid global cooling

Russia has harvested 75.3 million metric tons of grain to Aug. 25 on 25.7 million hectares (63.5 million acres). The total grain-planted area in Russia is 46.3 million hectares (114.4 million acres). The average yield so far has been 2.93 tons a hectare (1.19 tons / acre).

Grain harvested to date was 22 million tons more than on the same date last year, with the average yields exceeding those reported on the same date last year by 0.55 tons a hectare. Wheat harvest to date was 43.2 million tons on 13 million hectares (32 million acres), with the average yield of 3.35 tons a hectare (1.36 tons / acre). Barley harvest was 17 million tons on 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres), with the average yield of 2.84 tons a hectare (1.15 tons / acre).

The total grain planted area to be harvested this year is 47 million hectares, 2 million hectares or also 5 million acres more than last year. This year's grain harvest is expected to come in at 95 million tons in clean weight. This will be up 13 million tons on the 2007 harvest or up 16%.


Leisure time has value too

One of the things that I've been banging on about here and there recently is the way in which the costs of recycling systems are misstated. For no one ever adds in the costs of the time taken by households to sort the materials so that they can be recycled. My own crude numbers tell me that the costs of this labour are greater than the costs of the rest of the entire system put together. No, I don't think those numbers are right but I am insistent that the basic concept is correct. Which is why I've been rather blindsided by those who say that time spent not working for money doesn't actually have a value.

Eh? Of course such time has a value, there's an opportunity cost to your being forced to labour instead of doing something else. All of which rather leads me to this assertion by Robert Fogel (yet another Nobel Laureate at U. Chicago).
A reader has questioned Fogel's assertion that Americans spend only 13% of their incomes on necessities, noting that sounds low. To make meaningful comparisons across centuries, Fogel has looked at how much of the increase in incomes over a person's lifetime has gone to buy leisure - that is to work fewer hours, including more years in retirement. He put up a table at the Lindau meeting that showed that Americans used 18% of their incomes to buy time off in 1875 but 68% in 1995.

The table and argument are at page 190 of this book.

If, from the gargantuan rise in wealth over the past century and a bit we've decided to purchase more leisure rather than more goods and baubles, then we value that leisure higher than the baubles. So if someone starts telling us that we must labour, for free, to sort our rubbish, that has a cost to us as we now are spending our time on neither the leisure we prefer nor the baubles we've given up to get it. It still leaves, of course, the determination of exactly what that time is in fact worth and as I say, I know that my numbers are not right in detail. I just wish that someone would in fact let us know what are the correct numbers.

Fogel's argument does of course entirely slay another set of arguments, those of all who complain about the ever longer working hours, the way in which modernity leaves us with ever less leisure time. They are, quite literally, spouting rubbish for we've never been so rich in leisure as we are now.


Australia: Arrogant architects who think they know what's best for other people

Regardless of what the people themselves want, of course. NOTE: 1). This is just a regurgitation of the failed American "Smart Growth" strategy. 2). Low quality houses throughout the metropolitan areas are already often torn down and replaced by apartment blocks -- so that people who are willing to live in apartments can do so almost anywhere they choose

AUSTRALIA'S big cities are being urged to ban outer suburban housing estates to cut urban sprawl and be more like London and Rome. The nation's peak architectural body wants Australian cities to focus on boosting their inner and middle suburbs' density rather than release land in outer areas, to become more sustainable.

The Royal Australian Institute of Architects' new urban design policy also pushes for greater regional development, which in Victoria would mean more people to living and working in cities such as Geelong or Ballarat. However, Victoria's peak housing developer group says a move away from outer suburbs would cripple the economy and hurt families who were calling for more housing in affordable areas.

RAIA president Howard Tanner said increasing urban density to maximise efficiency and sustainability of infrastructure was the only way forward for Melbourne and Sydney. "You have got people encouraged to buy a block of land way out of the city and they are having to travel for three hours a day to commute. That's not sustainable," he said. Mr Tanner said a roads-based city like Los Angeles was seeing infrastructure crumble, and Australian cities would do better to aim for the city models of London and Rome. "People there live in town houses or terrace houses, the houses are never one-storey and you have got the population that lives closer to the city," he said. "We have to curtail land subdivisions at the extremities of the city. The other option is to put in some very fast trains to regional centres. Somewhere like Geelong could be an attractive destination for working and living."

Victoria's housing estate developers are represented by the Urban Development Institute of Australia, and executive director Tony De Domenico said banning estate developments on Melbourne's fringe was unrealistic and blinkered. "The population is still growing and there's a demand for these properties," Mr De Domenico said. "It's near impossible to dictate to the market what should happen. The thing that's keeping Victoria's economy very competitive compared to the mining states is we are very competitive in housing." Mr De Domenico said RAIA members should spend more time in outer suburbs and see what people wanted.

Victorian Council of Social Service policy manager David Imber said a sweeping ban on outer-suburban estates was wrong.



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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