Thursday, November 27, 2008

Beware the church of climate alarm

As the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, an economist, anti-totalitarian and climate change sceptic, prepares to take up the rotating presidency of the European Union next year, climate alarmists are doing their best to traduce him. The New York Times opened a profile of Klaus, 67, this week with a quote from a 1980s communist secret agent's report, claiming he behaves like a "rejected genius", and asserts there is "palpable fear" he will "embarrass" the EU.

But the real fear driving climate alarmists wild is that a more rational approach to the fundamentalist religion of global warming may be in the ascendancy - whether in the parliamentary offices of the world's largest trading bloc or in the living rooms of Blacktown. As the global financial crisis takes hold, perhaps people are starting to wonder whether the so-called precautionary principle, which would have us accept enormous new taxes in the guise of an emissions trading scheme and curtail economic growth, is justified, based on what we actually know about climate.

One of Australia's leading enviro-sceptics, the geologist and University of Adelaide professor Ian Plimer, 62, says he has noticed audiences becoming more receptive to his message that climate change has always occurred and there is nothing we can do to stop it. In a speech at the American Club in Sydney on Monday night for Quadrant magazine, titled Human-Induced Climate Change - A Lot Of Hot Air, Plimer debunked climate-change myths.

"Climates always change," he said. Our climate has changed in cycles over millions of years, as the orbit of the planet wobbles and our distance from the sun changes, for instance, or as the sun itself produces variable amounts of radiation. "All of this affects climate. It is impossible to stop climate change. Climates have always changed and they always will."

His two-hour presentation included more than 50 charts and graphs, as well as almost 40 pages of references. It is the basis of his new book, Heaven And Earth: The Missing Science Of Global Warming, to be published early next year. Plimer said one of the charts, which plots atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature over 500 million years, with seemingly little correlation, demonstrates one of the "lessons from history" to which geologists are privy: "There is no relationship between CO2 and temperature."

Another slide charts the alternating periods of cooling and warming on Earth, with the Pleistocene Ice Age starting 110,000 years ago and giving way, 14,700 years ago, to the Bolling warm period for 800 years. This in turn gave way to the Older Dryas cooling for 300 years, then the Allerod warming for 700 years, and so on, until the cooling of the Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1850. Since 1850, we have lived through the "Modern Warming", one of the most stable climate periods in history. Plimer said some astronomers predict we are headed for a new cooling period.

Plimer said there is a division between those scientists who sit in front of super computers and push piles of data into the mathematical models that drive the theory of climate change, and those who take measurements in the field. We are not sceptical enough about the data. For instance, Plimer cited differences between results from temperature measuring stations in urban and rural areas. Those in urbanised Chicago, Berkeley, New York, and so on, show temperature rises over the past 150 years, whereas those in the rural US, in Houlton, Albany and Harrisburg (though not Death Valley, California) show equally consistent cooling. "What we're measuring is urbanisation," Plimer said. To understand the chaotic nature of climate change, we need to consider all the inputs - cosmic radiation, sun, clouds and so on, he said.

There was much more but essentially Plimer's message is that the idea humans cause climate change has become a fundamentalist religion which is corrupting science. It is embedded with a fear of nature and embraced principally by city people who have lost touch with nature. He likens the debate to the famous 1990s battle he had in the Federal Court, where he accused an elder of The Hills Bible Church in Baulkham Hills of breaching Australia's Trade Practices Act by claiming to have found scientific evidence of Noah's Ark in Turkey. Plimer says creationists and climate alarmists are quite similar in that "we're dealing with dogma and people who, when challenged, become quite vicious and irrational".

Human-caused climate change is being "promoted with religious zeal . there are fundamentalist organisations which will do anything to silence critics. They have their holy books, their prophet [is] Al Gore. And they are promoting a story which is frightening us witless [using] guilt [and urging] penance." It is difficult for non-scientists to engage in the debate over what causes climate change and whether or not it can be stopped by new taxes and slower growth, because dissenting voices are shouted down by true believers in the scientific community who claim they alone have the authority to speak.

Quadrant is under fire for publishing articles by sceptics but, as its editor, Keith Windschuttle, said on Monday night, "People who are really confident [of their facts] relish debate."

In any case, ordinary people already have suspicions. The zealotry and one-sidedness of the debate alarmed an 81-year-old Seven Hills pensioner, Denys Clarke, so much that last month, at his own expense, he hired the ballroom at the Blacktown Workers Club for two public forums, titled The Truth About Climate Change. He invited a climate sceptic, the James Cook University professor Bob Carter, a geologist, to speak. More than 300 people attended, some from as far away as Nowra. Carter, like Plimer and Klaus, has come in for his fair share of vilification. But as Clarke proves, you can't stop people thinking. Yet.


When Warming Ideologues Attack

It's still uncertain whether Heidi Cullen, who once wrote that the American Meteorological Society should pull the certification of any weatherperson daring to question AGW, will be a casualty of last week's Weather Channel employee purge. But yesterday's rabid multi-front name-calling attack on an energy and environment reporter who dared question greenhouse gas canons quashed any doubt that the choir of green-snobbery has many voices.

Two pieces by Erika Lovley were published at The Politico Tuesday, one serious, the other -- mostly for laughs. But the Big Green Scare Machine was amused by neither. [Her article] "Scientists urge caution on global warming" opened by getting right down to business:
"Climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill are quietly watching a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation.

The article attempted to present a rational examination of the impact recent cooling -- an alarmist conundrum -- may have on emissions trading schemes Democrats promise to pass through Congress next year. But what should have been seen as a moment of MSM balance was instead seen by the usual suspects as a philosophical punching bag. Indeed, it didn't take long for Think Progress -- the George Soros-backed liberal propaganda machine -- to label it as "toxic stupidity about global warming," containing what they call "zombie lies" about sun-cycles and dissenting scientists.

Or for Joe Romm at Climate Progress to accuse Lovely of "pimp[ing] global cooling for Hill deniers," demean her work as "laughable," and demand she be either fired or pulled "from the environmental/energy beat." But it's unlikely the latter would satisfy his green zeal, given this attack on her overall journalistic skills:
"Even as pure political reporting, the piece is beneath rank amateurish -- as if climate change deniers on the Hill are `quietly' doing anything."

Ouch!When he felt he'd pumped enough lead into Lovley, Romm then turned his sights on the dissenting scientists she mentions, including Weather Channel co-founder and IceCap editor, meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo, who he branded as "a well-debunked denier."

And get a load of this little bit of green reason. Romm called "balancing stories on the reality of accelerating human-caused global warming with a quote or two from deniers" a "mistake." Then, in the same paragraph, complained that Lovley "manages to cite multiple deniers, including Patrick Michaels from the right-wing Cato Insitute and a staffer [Marc Morano] from lead Senate denier James Inhofe (R-OK), but then doesn't bother to quote a single climate scientist in opposition." Wow.

Still, the Xanax moment award goes hands down to David Roberts, the Grist reporter who once suggested that the "bastards" denying AGW be subjected to Nuremburg style trials for their "war crimes." Referring to Politico's journalist malpractice in his title, he blasts Lovley's as "two of the dumbest stories of the decade on climate science," and the author as the "most dimwitted, gullible reporter in D.C."

Jumping on the dissenting scientists denigration wagon, Roberts calls Lovley's "worse" than "those articles you'd see five years ago, `balanced' stories on global warming science quoting the same small group of deniers, citing the same debunked myths." What is it about balance that gets these "experts" into such a tizzy?

But Roberts' reaction to the second article was perhaps the more curious. "Tracking 'The Gore Effect'" takes a blatantly (to anyone with even the most diminutive of funny-bones) comical look at the phenomenon of extreme winter-like weather befalling global warming related events. Lovely cites some great ones, like in March, 2007, when "a Capitol Hill media briefing on the Senate's new climate bill was cancelled due to a snowstorm." And when "Gore's global warming speech at Harvard University coincided with near 125-year record-breaking low temperatures." What - not funny?The point is, the reporter made clear her lampooning intent right from the jump:
"For several years now, skeptics have amusedly eyed a phenomenon known as `The Gore Effect' to half-seriously argue their case against global warming."

Apparently missing the joke entirely, Roberts nominated this "the single stupidest sentence written by any journalist this year, possibly this century:"
"While there's no scientific proof that The Gore Effect is anything more than a humorous coincidence, some climate skeptics say it may offer a snapshot of proof that the planet isn't warming as quickly as some climate change advocates say."

Lighten up, Dave. Most readers managed to visualize the tongue in her cheek.You've got to wonder -- If these guys are so convinced of their position's immutability, then why does the slightest challenge to it unleash such frenzied behavior?


Regular blackouts to hit Britain within three years because there is a shortage of new power stations

Families face regular blackouts within three years because Britain has not built enough new power stations, it has been claimed. Consumers will be hit by an 'energy gap' when a number of existing stations are shut down, a study suggests. Nine oil and coal-fired power plants are to close by 2015 because of an EU directive designed to limit pollution and associated acid rain. At the same time, four ageing nuclear power plants will be shut, further reducing the electricity available to homes and businesses.

Analysts Capgemini warn that we will not have new nuclear power plants until around 2018. And they are concerned that the rush to build wind farms will not deliver the power needed to ensure the lights stay on. Energy consultant for Capgemini UK, Alistair Green, said: 'An energy gap is looming, which could lead to black-outs or so-called brown-outs.' Brown-outs occur when the voltage in the system needs to be turned down because of a lack of electricity in the system, effectively dimming the lights.

Mr Green said: 'We are looking at the possibility of black-outs and brownouts within three to four years. 'We might get to a situation of rota disconnections, where all the domestic homes and businesses are cut off in an area of a town on a rota basis.' He added: 'Electricity is key to homeowners and businesses. This is a pretty frightening prospect.'

Mr Green said the problem had occurred because Britain's privatised power industry has not taken the decision to build more stations sooner, largely because they could not be sure of making a profit from them. The first application to build new plants will not be made until next year, which will trigger a public consultation that is expected to take more than a year. Even if permission is granted in 2010, it would take at least seven years to build stations and upgrade the National Grid wires network to cope.

Mr Green said the National Grid might have to commission its own new power stations if there are any further delays. Similar measures have been taken by the authorities in Ireland, Greece and South Africa to ensure the lights stay on.

Dr Jon Gibbins, of Imperial College, recently issued a similar warning of black-outs because of a failure to replace ageing power plants. 'You can't guarantee that the lights will stay on,' he said. 'You are just taking a tremendous risk. People die when you lose electricity supplies.' Dr Gibbins and many other industry experts are concerned the UK is becoming increasingly reliant on imported gas. This puts us at the mercy of gas-rich states in the Middle East and Russia, which is flexing its muscles as the world's first energy superpower. Dr Gibbins said it is vital that Britain takes its electricity from diverse sources.

Energy minister Michael O'Brien insisted that the UK is building enough power stations. He pointed to the fact that French company EDF is committed to spending 12.5billion pounds on new nuclear power stations. 'It is the case that National Grid has said total power station capacity is predicted to rise by 37 per cent by 2015. Not only will the lights not go out, but actually they will be brighter,' he said. 'In the long term, there will be new nuclear. In the shorter term there will be gas, renewables and the oil industry has the flexibility to deal with supply emergencies.' He said that new North Sea exploration licences are being granted to firms that aim to recover an additional 20billion barrels of oil.



He makes Communists seem wishy washy

James Gustave "Gus" Speth is the consummate environmental insider. For over thirty years he has played a key role in the development of environmentalist organizations and agendas. He was present at the founding of the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970 and later launched the World Resources Institute, a $27 million enterprise that may be the most influential environmental think tank in the world. He served on, and eventually chaired, President Carter's Council on Environmental Quality, where he oversaw production of the apocalyptic Global 2000 report. During the 1990s he worked on President Clinton's transition team and headed up the United Nations Development Program, and he is now dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

His prominence within the environmental establishment means that when Gus Speth speaks, environmentalists listen. He is not only an academic dean but, in many respects, the dean of contemporary environmental thinkers. Like others, he advocates ambitious and far-reaching environmental programs; unlike many, he has held positions in which to make such things happen. Few with his green bona fides have his currency in the halls of power or connections with global leaders. Yet like so many celebrated environmental thinkers, he lacks a clear or compelling vision of how to reconcile contemporary civilization with the need for environmental protection.

In The Bridge at the Edge of the World, Speth argues that all the environmental progress of the past thirty to forty years may be for naught, as an environmental crisis of global proportions is still with us. The resource shortfalls and ecological ruin predicted by the Global 2000 report may not have come to pass on schedule, but they are imminent nonetheless. Thus, he seeks radical change to our economic, political, and social systems. "The end of the world as we have known it" is inevitable; the only question is whether we will suffer planetary ruin or a radically transformed civilization. Speth's hope is to point the way to the latter course.

Speth's eco-pessimism is not particularly new or original, but his critique of the modern environmental movement could be. In his view, the modern environmental establishment has proven itself impotent. It has accomplished much, but not nearly enough. Working within the system failed, he maintains, because it did not seek sufficiently radical change. Saving human civilization from collapse requires more than minor adjustments, he warns, as environmental degradation is but a symptom of broader social problems, and is "linked powerfully with other social realities, including growing social inequality and neglect and the erosion of democratic governance and popular control."

Reversing course will require a "transformative change in the system itself," including an "assault on the citadel of consumption" and the remaking of corporations. "Our duty," Speth proclaims, is "to struggle against the contempocentrism and anthropocentrism that dominate modern life." A "bridge" to a sustainable society requires revisiting democratic capitalism, remaking industrial civilization, and reorienting human consciousness; "we must return to fundamentals and seek to understand both the underlying forces driving such destructive trends and the economic and political system that gives these forces free rein." Nothing less will do.

Environmental writers have made a cottage industry from warning of ecological Armageddon and calling for greener forms of economic growth. Yet it is rare to hear so radical a charge from someone with Speth’s influence, and unusual to hear someone with his experience offer an ecological assessment that is so misguided. He purports to offer “a deeper critique of what is going on,” but his principal complaints echo familiar ones we have heard from other environmental thinkers, his “new approach on the environment” seems quite like the old, and his analysis is ultimately shallow. Speth wants to offer “impractical answers”—but the problem is not so much their impracticality as their wrong-headedness.

Speth catalogues an ever-growing list of environmental insults inflicted upon the Earth by human civilization to document the “great collision” between the human economy and our fragile planet. He tries to shock with numbers and graphs illustrating dramatic increases in population or industrial activity of one sort or another. Such data is easy to find, but trends by themselves do not substitute for a complete diagnosis. It takes more than identifying recent exponential trends to demonstrate unsustainability. Exponential growth rarely (if ever) continues indefinitely, and the same factors that cause growth spurts can cause them to level off. Nor do negative environmental trends necessarily translate into harmful effects on human well-being. I share his concern for conserving biological diversity, but merely asserting that biological diversity is important for economic well-being does not make it so.

Climate change plays a central role in Speth’s account, as one might expect. The threat of anthropogenic contributions to climatic warming is real, and the policy challenge immense. Yet so eager is he to impress upon the reader the severity of the problem that he embraces the flimsiest of evidence to support his claims. For instance, he cites a largely discredited World Health Organization report concluding climate change already causes 150,000 deaths per year, and could reach 300,000 by 2030. Climate change is a serious concern—sufficiently so that there is no need for such hyperbole to demonstrate its importance. Overstating the threat is part of Speth’s method, all the better to promote the radical changes he seeks.

The first item on his agenda is the replacement of modern capitalism with some undefined “non-socialist” alternative. “The planet cannot sustain capitalism as we know it,” he warns, calling for a fundamental transformation. But he does not understand the system he wants to reform, let alone what he would substitute in its place.

According to Speth, “most environmental deterioration is a result of systemic failures of capitalism.” This is an odd claim, as the least capitalist nations of the world also have the worst environmental records. The ecological costs of economic statism are far worse than those of economic liberty. The environmental record of the various Soviet regimes amply bears this out: The West’s ecological nightmares were the Soviet bloc’s environmental realities. This is not due to any anomaly of the Soviet system. Nations with greater commitment to capitalist institutions experience greater environmental performance.

While Speth occasionally acknowledges pockets of environmental progress, he hardly stops to consider the reasons why some environmental resources have been conserved more effectively than others. Fisheries are certainly declining throughout much of the world—some 75 percent of fisheries are fully or over-exploited—but not everywhere. It is worth asking why. Tropical forests in less-developed nations are declining even as most temperate forests in industrialized nations are rebounding. Recognizing these different trends and identifying the key variables is essential to diagnosing the real causes of environmental deterioration and prescribing a treatment that will work. Speth acknowledges that much of the world is undergoing “dematerialization,” such that economic growth far outpaces increases in resource demand, but seems not to appreciate how the capitalist system he decries creates the incentives that drive this trend.

More here


The EU has failed to reach agreement on new rules to cut car emissions after a day of talks foundered over the issue of penalties to be levied on non-complying automakers, officials said on Tuesday. Talks between the EU French Presidency, the European Commission and the European Parliament on the package were brought to a close overnight without a compromise plan being agreed, German conservative euro MP Werner Langen said.

A fifth such "triologue" on the issue has been scheduled for December 3. "We still need to discuss the amount of fines to be levied and also the long-term objective for 2020 on CO2 reduction," Langen said.

More here

Survey: 'You're much more likely to be sceptical about global warming the older you get'

We old guys have seen too much media sensationalism all our lives to be much impressed by new scares!

90 per cent of motorists say they don't feel guilty about driving their cars, just one of the survey findings conducted by Despite being taxed increasingly punitively by the government and indoctrinated otherwise by much of the mainstream media the survey respondents feel that cars are here to stay and to be used....

There's plenty of optimism left for the average British motorist, it seems: nearly 90 per cent of respondents expect the car ownership experience in 20 years time to be broadly similar to how it is now.

And finally, it seems that you're much more likely to be sceptical about global warming the older you get; 54 per cent of respondents over the age of 54 said they don't believe in the link between carbon dioxide emissions and rising planetary temperatures, compared with only 15.4 per cent for those under 25.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, 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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