Friday, August 22, 2008


An email from Wendell Krossa []

In the article from The Economic Times of India this comment was made- "Every year more than 30 million hectares (74 million acres) of forest -- which soak up 20 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere -- are lost largely due to illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture".

I am not sure where the writer got his information but the FAO reports that world forests still cover about 30% of the overall land area on earth. It has been around this percentage since the 1950s (see Bjorn Lomberg's graph of the FAO Production Yearbooks data- the longest data series- on page 111 of Skeptical Environmentalist). Which is to say that world forest cover remains fairly stable over long time frames and there is no forest holocaust occurring. This is amazing when one considers the significant increase in population and consumption over this same time frame.

Contrary to the 30 million hectare figure used in the noted article, the FAO states that deforestation rates are around 12-13 million hectares per year. A brief summary of FAO data is available at sites like this.

The FAO, and similar sites such as World Resources Institute (WRI), tends to present forest information in alarmist language, referring to the harvest of forest resources as "alarming deforestation". The authors of such material tend to ignore or downplay the fact that deforestation rates have fallen over past comparison periods. They also tend to ignore or downplay reforestation data or when including such data they will emphasize problems such as the loss of original forest cover and the supposed relation of this to biodiversity loss. But the famous 1992 IUCN study (see Julian Simon's summary of this report in Scarcity or Abundance) noted the remarkable ability of species to adapt to secondary habitat and the discovery that there was absolutely no evidence for increased species loss, despite deforestation (massive deforestation in some areas). This report clearly undermined the alarmist claims of massive biodiversity loss.

Surprisingly, even amongst the alarmist chatter on their site the WRI has also noted that deforestation is isolated to a handful of hotspots (Brazil and Indonesia) and is not spread over many nations (See here). This is a refreshing note of rational perspective amongst the usual hysteria, panic, and generalized claims of forest holocaust.

Alan Grainger, in his report No Convincing Evidence for Decline in Tropical Forests, also shows in a review of FAO data and methods that there is no hard evidence that tropical forests are declining overall (See here).

Granted, it is important to investigate such issues as the loss of primary or original forest cover and the relation of this to biodiversity. But so far evidence shows there is apparently little to be concerned about and no cause for outright alarm. One of the underlying issues here may have something to do with a personal aesthetic sense.

Latest analysis: Global temperature has not increased significantly since 1979!

Much ado has been made about global warming stopping since 2001, since 1998 or not increasing in the last decade. Here is more grist to the skeptic mill. The analysis below shows the global temperature has not increased significantly since 1979!

Data are from the TLT Sellite measurements of the Earth's lower troposphere at RSS MSU. When you calculate the global surface temperatures from July to July 1979-2008, the earth has warmed the grand amount of 0.295 degrees C. The standard deviation of temperature changes from each July to July is 0.2522C, putting the change over 30 years at just over a non-significant one standard deviation (actually p=0.13, significant if p<0.05) of the expected change in just one year. Stated another way, temperatures would be expected to change by a similar amount to the increase in the last 30 years, every one out of eight years.

You have to wonder what all the fuss us about. The effect of 30 years of global warming is no greater than the expected change in a single year. The data support low estimates of CO2 doubling as the Spencer climate sensitivity.

The frequency of July-July annual differences with a normal curve is plotted above using R language for the statistics. The temperature difference from July 1979 to July 2008 is marked as a big red dot.

Here is another view of July temperatures over the last 30 years, with the levels of the start and end points marked by red dashed lines.


BOOK REVIEW OF "The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud" By Lawrence Solomon

Review by Jay Lehr, Ph.D

Lawrence Solomon, a longtime environmental activist, began wondering a few years ago how it could be that some scientists were questioning the apparently solid consensus that humans are causing a global warming crisis. He began seeking them out, and interviewing them on the topic. Before long, Solomon came to realize a substantial number of the world's leading scientists are making a very strong case that humans are not causing any sort of global warming crisis.

In 2006 he began publishing his interviews with these leading scientists in Canada's National Post newspaper. In his outstanding new book, The Deniers, Solomon presents the best of these interviews, while sharing additional insights for which his newspaper columns did not have room. Solomon's book breaks new ground in the global warming discussion, presenting the most important scientific evidence in the words of the scientists themselves.

The Deniers is not just a series of interviews and vignettes, however. Solomon carefully divides the information gleaned from his prestigious dissenters into chapters asking the very questions most of us have on our minds, and he allows the scientists' own words to answer the questions collectively.

All of the "dissenters" profiled in the book are recognized leaders in their fields, with many even active in the official body that oversees most of the world's climate change research, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Thus the book provides absorbing insight into both the scientific issues and the ferocious political and media battles being waged about global warming. Solomon shows how noble scientists have suffered for their integrity and how attack dogs have mounted an all-out campaign against these scientists, portraying them as hacks bought by profit-mad oil companies or as non-credentialed cranks and lunatics.

The book offers well-written brief biographies of each of their illustrious careers. Here is a sample of the dozens of scientists the author interviewed, with a very condensed indication of who they are and what they believe:

Claude Allegre, Ph.D.: A member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and French Academy of Science, Allegre was among the first scientists to sound the alarm on potential dangers from global warming. His view now: "The cause of this climate change is unknown."

Richard Lindzen, Ph.D.: A professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Lindzen says global warming alarmists "are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right."

Habibullo Abdussamatov, Ph.D.: Head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academy of Science's Pulkova Observatory and head of the International Space Station's Astrometria Project, Abdussamatov reports, "the common view that man's industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from misinterpretation of cause and effect relations."

Richard Toi, Ph.D.: Principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit and adjunct professor at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Toi calls the IPCC reports "preposterous ... alarmist and incompetent."

Sami Solanki, Ph.D.: Director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, Solanki argues changes in the sun's state, not human activity, may be the principal cause of global warming. Says Solanki, "The sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures."

Freeman Dyson, Ph.D.: A professor at Princeton University and one of the most eminent physicists in the world, Dyson reports the models used to justify global warming are "full of fudge factors" and "do not begin to describe the real world."

Eigil Friis-Christensen, Ph.D.: Director of the Danish National Space Center and vice president of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, Friis-Christensen argues changes in the sun's behavior could very well account for most of the warming during the past century.

Necessary Second Opinion

Global warming has become a critical question for citizens who must decide whether the cures being bandied about are not in fact worse than the disease. In matters of health, most intelligent citizens seek a second opinion before undergoing a serious medical procedure, but in the case of global warming, a second opinion is exactly what global warming activists do not want you to seek, for fear it will reduce the effectiveness of their fear-mongering. Therefore, we are treated to a continuous drumbeat of the words, "the science is settled."

All the scientists Solomon interviews in his book are prominent in climate science and are not just nitpicking over the interpretation of some small piece of data. Throughout the book Solomon artistically includes boxes of highlighted quotes from his subjects, taken from their own publications. Here is one from Lindzen:
"How can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes? The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. "Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policymakers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes."

In his interview, Dyson points out from long experience that models packed with numerous "fudge factors" are worthless. As a mathematician and physicist, Dyson is known for the unification of three versions of quantum electrodynamics, as well as for contributions to space flight and the development of a safe nuclear reactor used today by hospitals and universities around the world. But today he is known more widely as a scientific heretic for disagreeing with claims of a central human role in global warming.

In his 2005 winter commencement address at the University of Michigan, Dyson said the mathematical computer models on which the alarmist claims are based "do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry, and the biology of fields, farms, and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in."

In Solomon's interview with Friis-Christensen, the scientist states he was originally optimistic about the work IPCC would do in studying the sun's influence on climate change. To his surprise, however, IPCC refused to consider the sun's effect on the Earth's climate as a topic worthy of investigation. IPCC conceived its task only as investigating potential human causes of climate change.

That is a huge omission, Abdussamatov points out. He notes there has been global warming on other planets and moons in the solar system, and this demonstrates other forces may be at work regarding the Earth's moderate recent warming. "Mars has global warming, but without a greenhouse and without the participation of Martians," he observes.

Abdussamatov, at the pinnacle of Russia's scientific establishment, is one of the world's most eminent critics of the notion carbon dioxide is driving global warming. He argues these "parallel global-warmings observed simultaneously on Mars and on Earth--can only be a straight line consequence of the effect of the one same factor: a long-time change in solar irradiance."

Abdussamatov believes the recent global warming will be short-lived and that we are actually on the brink of a global cooling, and likely a severe one. He argues Earth has hit its temperature ceiling, demonstrated by cooling currently occurring in the upper layers of the world's oceans. In addition, Abddussamatov notes, solar irradiance has begun to fall, likely ushering in a protracted cooling period beginning in 2012-2015.

The lowest depth of the solar irradiance reaching Earth will occur around 2041 (plus or minus 11 years), Abdussamatov estimates, and will inevitably lead to a deep freeze around 2055-60. The freeze will last into the twenty-second century before temperatures rise again. For now, he says, "we continue to bask in the remains of heat that the planet accumulated over the twentieth century."

This is an excellent book. It is written for non-scientists, and I guarantee you will understand every word. It will inspire you as you witness the courage of the deniers to take a stand and endure the wrath of global warming activists for having the audacity to report sound science.


Polical Courage: MD County Commissioner stands up to Climate Establishment?

By Charles A. Jenkins, a member of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners

I can't help but respond to the letter from Joyce Phillips of Thurmont ("Jenkins can't see the light through the smog," The Gazette, Aug. 14). Not believing in manmade global warming does not in any way suggest a "total disregard for Earth."

Regarding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, even John Christy, a member of the panel's team that won the Nobel Prize, has stated that he sees neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for warming: warming that has not occurred for 10 years.

The famed Mann hockey stick was removed from the panel's 2007 report because of the flaws in that science. That professor Ernst Beck has discovered that carbon dioxide levels have been higher than at present several times in the past 200 years should be fascinating reading for anyone who works in this field.

The panel's report is subject to much debate, including that so few actually write the executive summary, and those selected for that task tend to have their own environmentalist agendas.

In the past 10 years, we have seen unprecedented growth of infrastructure in China and India (even by the Industrial Revolution standard of the United States). Collectively, their carbon dioxide emissions have jumped considerably as a result, yet there has been no global warming since 1998.

About 1 million planet earths fit inside of our sun. New research from Victor Velasco Herrera indicates that Earth is more likely to experience cooling in a fairly short time horizon due to a decrease in solar activity. Increased solar activity equals warming; decreased solar activity equals cooling. It's all very natural, and predictable. Change happens.

Ms. Phillips can call me ignorant when it comes to the environment. It's a fairly common tactic to call names when your argument can't be won. Nor do I accept her comments that I have no interest in making our planet a better place for my children or future generations. Such moralistic supremacy is all too common from zealots, regardless of their cause. As for my behavior as an elected official, if you're looking for a lemming you won't find one here.



Prime Minister Rudd's zeal in the Warmist religion has forced lots of Australians to look closely at what he proposes. And they are not "going gently into that good night". Three current articles below

Warmist nonsense 'a company killer'

The nation's peak business group has joined the growing chorus across Australian industry warning the Rudd Government that local companies will close and move offshore unless it fundamentally rethinks its proposed emissions trading scheme. A "real world" analysis of the impact of the Government's plans - based on 14 companies that opened their books for the Business Council of Australia - revealed that even with the Government's proposed compensation, three firms would face a carbon cost so high they would close.

The future of a further two of the 14 companies - drawn from hard-hit sectors such as aluminium refining, cement manufacturing, petroleum refining, steel making, sugar milling and zinc and nickel refining - would be extremely bleak.

The companies, with annual revenues ranging from $90 million to more than $3 billion, revealed their confidential financial data to BCA consultants Port Jackson Partners on the basis that their identity would remain secret. But the research shows that, on average, the companies' pre-tax earnings would be cut by 22 per cent. The worst affected would suffer a 136 per cent reduction in earnings.

The Labor Government plans to introduce an ETS by 2010, forcing big polluters to buy permits to cover their greenhouse gas emissions. "Our research tells us the Government's plans would have significant and unintended consequences for business ... we don't believe the Government intended to design a scheme to achieve the outcome of businesses and jobs moving offshore, but that would be the outcome of the Government's plans," BCA president Greg Gailey said. "We want to ensure that industry plays its part but that the cost is kept at a level which allows them to stay in Australia, rather than move to a less demanding jurisdiction."

The BCA analysis follows a call from the Minerals Council of Australia this week for the Government to consider auctioning only 20 per cent of emissions permits. Also this week came warnings from the liquefied natural gas, cement and petrol refining sectors about the potential impact of the ETS. Wayne Swan said he had "taken on board some of the criticisms" industry had made during consultation over the Government's ETS green paper, but the Treasurer added that "at the end of the day, we've got to understand there is not a bottomless pit of money here".

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said she was "open to discussion of different methods of allocating" compensation to industry. Under its existing proposal, a handful of big emitters exposed to international competition could receive some of their permits for free.

But the BCA wants the Government to completely ditch the formula by which it proposes to compensate some companies that cannot pass on a carbon price to customers, saying it is both inadequate and unfair. Instead, the BCA proposes a compensation formula that would be on average far more generous to its members. It says the 1000 Australian companies required to buy emission permits should be required to buy them until they had paid between 3 and 5 per cent of their gross income, after which they should receive their permits from the Government for free. They say this would still cost the companies on average about 10 per cent of their profits, but this cost would be fixed rather than rising to "unsustainable" levels with an increasing carbon price.

The Government has been adamant that it must limit the proportion of permits given away to trade-exposed industries to 30per cent to avoid putting impossible burdens on the rest of the economy, including households, and to make sure it reaps sufficient revenue to pay compensation to families and businesses.

According to Port Jackson director Rod Sims, who undertook the research, the BCA's alternative compensation model would meet its 30 per cent target at a carbon price of $20 a tonne. The proportion of free permits required would rise to 44 per cent if the carbon price rose to $40 a tonne and the Government, rather than the trade-exposed companies, bore the increasing pain. But the BCA is recommending that the Government not allow the carbon price to rise to those heights until an international agreement is reached, saying it must either set a path for emissions reductions so gentle that the price is kept at between $10 and $20 a tonne, or else fix the permit price at those levels.

The Climate Institute chief executive John Connor warned the Government against succumbing to the business push for "climate protectionism". "Serious questions need to be raised why the Government should transfer billions of dollars of taxpayers' revenue to businesses who have known an emissions trading scheme was coming over a decade ago," he said. The Australian Conservation Foundation said the BCA plan was "totally irresponsible". "Polluting industries that have spent the last decade doing little or nothing to prepare for a carbon-constrained economy should not get a free kick," said executive director Don Henry.


Rudd thrown an emissions time bomb

AUSTRALIA'S business leaders have thrown a political time bomb into the Rudd Government's lap. Business rejection of the Government's emissions trading system model has lethal consequences. It signals that Australia is moving into dangerous territory for individual corporates, the economy and investor confidence. The analysis unveiled yesterday by the Business Council of Australia says the Government's ETS green paper "leaves too much scope for uncertainty for business to continue to invest in existing and new facilities".

This warning constitutes a degree of commercial threat dangerous for any government to ignore. It is contained in the commissioned report by Port Jackson Partners on the application of the green paper's ETS to 14 businesses across Australia's trading sector, the first such corporate analysis. This was led by former federal government senior economist Rod Sims. Its sharpest conclusion projects the Rudd model to 2020, assumes a $40-a-tonne carbon price and concludes that corporate boards "will be unlikely to invest while such outcomes are possible". The graphic shows a series of financial disasters.

The Rudd Government's response to climate change now becomes a diabolical challenge. It is trapped between its political pledge to price carbon to alter investment flows and this business analysis showing that under Rudd's model, a range of Australian-based companies will struggle to stay viable, facing hefty profit declines, a crippling of new investment and significant carbon leakage offshore at Australia's economic cost. The Government will rely upon the imminent Treasury modelling to quell such concerns.

The BCA document demands assessment for its three different messages. First, it argues the proposed ETS with its compensation mechanism is untenable. Second, it proposes an alternative model, different in conception. Third, it offers an overview of Australia's climate change strategy that finishes, in effect, suggesting a carbon tax is probably the best way forward. In its concluding overview, the report supports either a modest abatement target until global deals are done or the alternative of a fixed carbon price of $10 to $20 a tonne, meaning there would be no annual cap pending a global agreement. It leans towards the de facto carbon tax option.

The analysis for the electricity generating sector warns that any 10 per cent emissions reduction target by 2020 involves a "major risk" to power supply, a lift in retail prices of 25 to 40 per cent and stretches to the limit investment capacity in alternative energy. It suggests that a lower 2020 emissions target may be required.

The business community also insists that any ETS must see the removal of all retail electricity price caps and abolition of the renewable energy target scheme. While Kevin Rudd and senior ministers are attached to their green paper ETS model, such support will be severely tested by this document. The BCA analysis rejects the formula under which 30 per cent of carbon pollution permits would be issued for free.

It finds the threshold mechanism based on tonnes of emission intensity in relation to revenue is "quite simply, the wrong starting point". This is a problem not of numbers, but of design. The analysis finds the green paper compensation "is inadequate and contains significant anomalies". Businesses with average profits and modest emission intensities of 500 to 2000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per million dollars of revenue "will face significant profit declines". Anomalies are such that firms at 1490 tonnes per million dollars of revenue get no compensation while firms at 1500 tonnes per million dollars of revenue get 60per cent of their permits free.

The BCA wants an entirely new compensation model. It seeks 90per cent compensation for trade-exposed companies. It proposes full compensation above a threshold defined as 3 to 5 per cent of industry value added. And it wants permits issued outside the national cap to allow for growth in trade-exposed industry in the absence of a global carbon price. This will strain government-business ties to the limit.


Business leader pushes nukes

QUEENSLAND will need nuclear energy more than any other state in Australia, former Telstra chief and nuclear physicist Ziggy Switkowski said last night. Mr Switkowski, who chairs the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, launched the Australia Nuclear Association Queensland in Brisbane last night.

He said the need for cleaner energy was more urgent in Queensland because of the state's population growth. "Queensland's economy is booming; its appetite for electricity is growing faster than any other state in Australia," he said. "It's going to have to make decisions earlier than other states in terms of what the next generation of power plants are going to be. "Given 90 per cent of electricity comes from fossil fuel and in the future we can't use fossil fuels, at least not to the same extent, the creation of this group to stimulate an objective debate about nuclear power makes a lot of sense."

The ANAQ has five corporate members including stockbroking firm ABN AMRO Morgans and 13 individuals ranging from lawyers to engineers. Association secretary Kate Holmes said the aim was to crank up the nuclear debate but she did not see the association as a lobby group. "Nuclear energy has been going for 50 years but not many people know much about it," the Brisbane lawyer said. "The idea is to be an education forum to help educate people on the pros and cons of nuclear energy."

Dr Switkowski said nuclear power was used in 31 countries and Australia would soon have to look at it as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. He said the ban on uranium mining in Queensland was contentious. "There is no logic I can see for Queensland to not develop uranium reserves," he said. The former chief executive officer of Telstra was appointed by the Federal Government to chair an inquiry into the viability of nuclear power in Australia in 2006.



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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