Thursday, October 30, 2008

Update about the censorship of climate realist Deming by President Boren at the University of Oklahoma

There is a scathing Facebook entry here from a former OU student about Boren. I don't think it would be wise of me to reprint it. It is basically an attack on Boren's character in response to an attempt by him to censor emails being circulated at OU. Some of the adjectives applied to him are "Fascist", "queer" etc. And "buffoon" is one of the milder descriptions applied to him. My own description of him as a Fascist does therefore have some support. He would appear to be a most unpleasant character beneath the surface.

A possibly encouraging passage in the Facebook entry is as follows:

"Why is everyone so scared of the fathead David Boren? .... As this incident shows, he'll back down in a minute whenever a few people get together and start calling him out."

Self-righteous British legislators fail to look out the window

Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate

Snow fell as the House of Commons debated Global Warming yesterday - the first October fall in the metropolis since 1922. The Mother of Parliaments was discussing the Mother of All Bills for the last time, in a marathon six hour session.

In order to combat a projected two degree centigrade rise in global temperature, the Climate Change Bill pledges the UK to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The bill was receiving a third reading, which means both the last chance for both democratic scrutiny and consent.

The bill creates an enormous bureaucratic apparatus for monitoring and reporting, which was expanded at the last minute. Amendments by the Government threw emissions from shipping and aviation into the monitoring program, and also included a revision of the Companies Act (c. 46) "requiring the directors' report of a company to contain such information as may be specified in the regulations about emissions of greenhouse gases from activities for which the company is responsible" by 2012.

Recently the American media has begun to notice the odd incongruity of saturation media coverage here which insists that global warming is both man-made and urgent, and a British public which increasingly doubts either to be true. 60 per cent of the British population now doubt the influence of humans on climate change, and more people than not think Global Warming won't be as bad "as people say".

Both figures are higher than a year ago - and the poll was taken before the non-Summer of 2008, and the (latest) credit crisis.Yet anyone looking for elected representatives to articulate these concerns will have been disappointed. Instead, representatives had a higher purpose - demonstrating their virtue

And for the first 90 minutes of the marathon debate, the new nobility outdid each other with calls for tougher pledges, or stricter monitoring. Gestures are easy, so no wonder MPs like making them so much. It was all deeply sanctimonious, but no one pointed out that Europe's appetite for setting targets that hurt the economy has evaporated in recent weeks - so it's a gesture few countries will feel compelled to imitate.

The US Senate has Senator James Inhofe, but in the Commons, there wasn't an out-and-out sceptic to be found. It was 90 minutes before anyone broke the liturgy of virtue. When Peter Lilley, in amazement, asked why there hadn't been a cost/benefit analysis made of such a major change in policy, he was told to shut up by the Deputy Speaker.(And even Lilley - one of only five out of 653 MPs to vote against the Climate Bill in its second reading - felt it necessary to pledge his allegiance to the Precautionary Principle.)

It fell to a paid-up member of Greenpeace, the Labour MP Rob Marris, to point out the Bill was a piece of political showboating that would fail. While professing himself a believer in the theory that human activity is primarily the cause of global warming, he left plenty of room for doubt - far more than most members. The legislation was doomed, Marris said. MP Rob Marris had previously supported the 60 per cent target but thought that 80 per cent, once it included shipping and aviation, wouldn't work. We could have a higher target, or include shipping and aviation, but not both.

He compared it to asking someone to run 100m in 14 seconds - which they might consider something to train for. Asking someone to run it in ten seconds just meant people would dismiss the target. "The public will ask 'why should we bother doing anything at all?'

The closest thing to a British Inhofe is Ulsterman Sammy Wilson, Democratic Unionist Party, who'd wanted a "reasoned debate" on global warming, rather than bullying, and recently called environmentalism a "hysterical psuedo-religion". Wilson described the Climate Bill as a disaster, but even colleagues who disagree with his views of environmentalism are wary of the latest amendments. The Irish Republic is likely to reap big economic gains if it doesn't penalise its own transport sector as fiercely as the UK pledges to penalise its own in the bill. Most Ulster MPs were keenly aware of the costs, and how quickly the ports and airports could close, when a cheaper alternative lies a few miles away over the border.

Tory barrister Christopher Chope professed himself baffled by the logic of including aviation and shipping. If transportation was made more expensive, how could there be more trade? "As we destroy industry we'll be more dependent on shipping and aviation for our imports!" he said. "When the history books come to be written people will ask why were the only five MPs... who voted against this ludicrous bill," he said. It would tie Britain up in knots for years, all for a futile gesture, Chope thought.

However, Tim Yeo, the perma-suntanned Tory backbencher who wants us to carry carbon rationing cards, said it would "improve Britain's competitiveness". He didn't say how. Lilley impertinently pointed out that no cost/benefit case had been made for handicapping shipping and aviation. It was the first mention in the chamber of the cost of the commitments being discussed. Estimates put the total cost of the Climate Change Bill at 210bn pounds, or 10,000 per household - potentially twice the benefits.

Quoting Nordhaus, Lilley noted that Stern ("Lord Stern - he got his reward") had only got his front-loaded benefits by using improbable discount rates - and then only half the benefits of making drastic carbon reductions will kick in by the year 2800. The government has said it wasn't using Stern's discount rates to calculate the cost of shipping and aviation restrictions, but a more sensible and traditional rate of 3.5 per cent instead - yet it refused to reveal the costs.

Lilley asked:"I ask the house - is it sensible to buy into an insurance policy where the premiums are twice the value of the house?" Lilley was "building a broad case on a narrow foundation", the Deputy Speaker told him. "I really must direct him to the specific matter that's included in these clauses and amendments."

Earlier, the Tories had said they would be tougher on carbon than Labour, and the Lib Dems the toughest of the lot. Much more representative of the tone of the debate was Nia Griffith, the NuLab MP for Lanelli. Her comments are worth repeating (Hansard link to follow today) because language tells us a lot - not only about the bureaucratic ambitions of the exercise, but how the modern politician thinks about governing. Griffith told the House that the Bill was "a process not an end in itself", and had great value as a "monitoring tool". MP Nia Griffith "It's the targets that make us think," she said. She also used the phrase "raise consciousness" - as in, "it must raise consciousness amongst nations that follow suit."

In other words, if you take a gesture, then pile on targets and penalties, you will change people's behaviour. Maybe she hasn't heard of Goodhart's law. Yesterday, however, it seemed that the only MPs exhibiting enough "consciousness" to actually think - and ask reasonable questions about cost and effectiveness of the gesture - got a good telling off.

The Bill finally passed its third reading by 463 votes to three.



China raised the price of its co-operation in the world's climate change talks yesterday by calling for developed countries to spend 1 per cent of their domestic product helping poorer nations cut greenhouse gas emissions. The funding - amounting to more than $300bn based on Group of Seven countries - would be spent largely on the transfer of "green" technologies, such as renewable energy, to poorer countries. Gao Guangsheng, head of the climate change office at the National Reform and Development Commission, the Chinese government's main planning body, said that even such large funds "might not be enough".

China's toughened stance comes weeks ahead of United Nations talks in Poland aimed at forging a successor to the Kyoto protocol, whose main provisions expire in 2012.

The two-week-long talks scheduled for early December in Poznan, Poland, are not expected to produce much progress in the two-year negotiations, which began last year in Bali and will culminate late next year at a conference in Copenhagen. However, the timing of China's intervention is seen as significant because the Poznan talks will be the first to take place after the US presidential election.

George W. Bush has been seen as the biggest obstacle to a new international framework on climate change, and both presidential candidates have pledged support for cutting emissions. The new president will be under pressure from industry not to jeopardise US finances. Under China's proposals, the US would have to give more than $130bn and the European Union more than $160bn to technology transfer.

Officials involved in the talks said China's demand was unlikely to be agreed by developed countries, but reflected a feeling among poor nations that they were not receiving sufficient funds to help them deal with climate change, despite demands from rich countries that the developing world should bear more of the burden of emissions cuts.

China's demand is the latest signal of developing countries flexing their muscles on climate change. At the Group of Eight industrialised nations meeting in July, China joined with India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa to demand G8 countries cut their emissions by 80-95 per cent by 2050.

Although emissions from China, India and other emerging economies have grown rapidly in recent years - with China now the world's biggest emitter, having overtaken the US - their per capita emissions are still much lower than those of developed countries. "Climate change policies need a lot of money to be invested, however developed countries have not made any substantive promises about how much they are going to spend on," said Mr Gao. "And they did not fulfil some of the promises they made in the past very well either."



The Italian government on Tuesday said it would stick to its opposition to an EU climate plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth by 2020, saying it would be too harmful for industry. A statement said the plan was not acceptable because it would cost Italian companies 40 percent more than other EU countries. "This would be untenable for our production, particularly in light of the current global economic crisis," it said.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi shocked other European Union leaders at a summit this month by threatening to veto the EU proposal unless it was adapted to protect Italian industry. The move added Italy's weight to a group of former communist nations that say the curbs will make their coal-powered industry uncompetitive, particularly with economists now predicting a sharp slow-down in the world economy.

The statement was issued after a government meeting of representatives from the Environment, EU, Development and Economy ministries.



"Going green" doesn't have quite the cachet it used to, at least on Wall Street.

Investors in renewable energy stocks have seen their sector hit hard in recent weeks on concerns that tightening credit and a weak global economy could arrest growth of the high-flying industry despite its long-term promise. "The general economic slowdown is taking everybody's eyes off what was an increasing momentum around concerns of climate change and the cost of energy," said Paul Maeder, a general partner with venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners.

Until credit becomes more available, big solar and wind projects will be more difficult to finance, and certainly more expensive. A drop in demand will also mean lower prices on solar panels and wind turbines, hurting manufacturers' profitability.

In the end, experts said, the downturn will determine who the winners and losers are in what had been a booming environment for all. "There are too many players out there, and there are too many smaller players," Chris Walsh, manager of the $28 million Alger Green Fund, said of the burgeoning solar industry. "You have to be careful about which ones you invest in now."

Solar stocks, considered the darlings of alternative energy for their meteoric rise in 2007, have retreated so much this year that most have given back the triple-digit gains they logged last year. Investors fear that scarce access to credit will threaten development of costly solar and wind projects, while falling oil prices are dampening interest in alternative energy across the board. To make matters worse, a frozen market for initial public offerings and an increasingly picky venture capital community have restricted key avenues of funding for startups.

More here


Oil supplies will actually last for far longer than our politicians think, the scaremongers fear, and the oil companies tell us. So says Dr Richard Pike, head of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and someone who isn't afraid to stir controversy.

In a wide-ranging interview, Dr Pike talked about energy independence, Peak Oil, and how to educate our scientifically illiterate elites.

Before becoming chief executive of the RCS, Pike spent twenty five years in the oil industry. His background hasn't prevented him from calling for alternative energy sources to fossil fuels, and making criticisms that have embarrassed industry executives, latterly over the amount of oil lost to leakages.

But the most intriguing argument is that we're simply not told the truth about how long oil supplies will last. Conventional wisdom reports the oil reserves as 1.2 trillion barrels. There's far more than the oil companies report. This is neither cock-up nor conspiracy, he says, but a combination of conservative reporting, a failure to understand probability theory, and consequently a lack of understanding of the figures actually mean. Oil engineers and planners have their own - these are figures we don't see.

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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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