Note below from Dr. Thomas P. Sheahen, an MIT educated physicist, author of the book An Introduction to High-Temperature Superconductivity, and writer of the popular newspaper column "Ask the Everyday Scientist."
One day back in February on a ski-lift, I commented to the others that 2008 would be the year when the "Anthropic Global Warming" (AGW) bubble would burst. My prediction seems to be coming true.
Owing to bad economic conditions, most of the countries in Europe are fleeing from the commitments they once made to the "Kyoto treaty" to reduce emissions of CO2. Scientists all over the world are speaking up against the notion of a "consensus", the presumption that "everybody agrees" that global warming is caused by mankind (the AGW hypothesis). Nobody has any confidence any more in long-range computer calculations that are unable to predict the past, let alone the future. And most of all, people are beginning to remember that CO2 is plant food.
This all comes at the time when the incoming administration of Obama seems about to impose draconian and expensive regulations (on CO2 emissions) upon American industry and utilities.
The article [reproduced immediately below] about NASA's embarrassing correction of faulty data, is typical of what is going on in the world. Five years ago, a blunder like this would have been swept under the rug by the mentality that "it's so important that we raise awareness of people that we should overlook little things like numerical facts." But now when it happens, it gets publicized.
The whole "sure thing" AGW tapestry began to unravel about 5 years ago when a widely-publicized historical temperature graph known as the "hockey stick" was completely discredited based on statistical analysis. That began a slow trickle of scientists saying "Oh yeah ... and another thing ..." Gradually the number of scientists willing to speak out (against the presumption that mankind causes global warming) has increased, and by now you can read of controversy every day.
Probably what will happen in the USA will mirror the European response. Dire predictions about climate will have to wait "just a little bit" while economic recession is cured, but "we'll get to it right away just as soon as we can." With the passage of a few more years of unexciting world temperature data, while CO2 from India and China continues to climb, perhaps the whole AGW issue will finally be discarded.
The world has never seen such freezing heat
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.
This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.
So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.
The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.
A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with.
This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen's institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.
If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)
Yet last week's latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen's methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.
Another of his close allies is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, who recently startled a university audience in Australia by claiming that global temperatures have recently been rising "very much faster" than ever, in front of a graph showing them rising sharply in the past decade. In fact, as many of his audience were aware, they have not been rising in recent years and since 2007 have dropped.
Dr Pachauri, a former railway engineer with no qualifications in climate science, may believe what Dr Hansen tells him. But whether, on the basis of such evidence, it is wise for the world's governments to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist, is a question which should give us all pause for thought.
REALITY DAWNS (1): EUROPE, JAPAN FACE $46 BILLION KYOTO-PENALTY
Will they pay? No chance. So it will be lip-service only all round. The whole system will be shown clearly as just hot-air and an all-round farce
Twenty nations including Japan, Italy and Australia may be releasing more greenhouse-gas pollution than they agreed to under the Kyoto treaty to curb global warming. They're failing to rein in carbon-dioxide output enough to meet their pledges signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, according to reports by individual countries. As a penalty for missing their goals under the treaty, the nations are required to buy permits for every excess ton of the heat-trapping gas released through 2012. That will total 2.3 billion permits for 20 nations, New Carbon Finance, a research firm in London, has estimated.
The potential penalty, 36 billion euros ($46 billion) for the group based on current permit prices, and the fact that only a minority of 37 Kyoto signatory nations may meet their pledges bodes poorly for international efforts to limit global warming.
"This shows there's a lot more interest in promising stuff than actually keeping those promises," Bjorn Lomborg, author of the book ``The Skeptical Environmentalist,'' said in a telephone interview from Copenhagen. "What you should be doing is investing in research and development to make much more dramatic emissions cuts much cheaper in the future."
In three days the UN will publish a report on emissions data for 2006, compiling figures from national reports already released. Analysts have been using that data to estimate emissions for Kyoto's 2008-2012 measurement period because a nation's CO2 output from factories, power plants and vehicles varies little year to year. It takes about 10 years, for example, to build a low-emissions nuclear plant to replace several dirtier coal-fired power stations.
Kyoto's binding targets are a cornerstone in the international effort to limit global warming. The U.S. is the only developed nation not to ratify the pact. Under the treaty, countries that are unable to meet targets must buy permits from nations that have a surplus. The government must pay the bill, and some such as Italy and Spain are requiring industry to share in the costs.
Alternatively nations may buy credits representing greenhouse-gas reductions made abroad through investments in clean-energy and forestry projects. That comes at a cost. UN- Certified Emission Reduction credits, or CERs, which double as a Kyoto permit, today traded at 15.80 euros for a 2008 contract.
The U.K., Sweden and several eastern European nations are headed to meet their Kyoto obligations, according to carbon analysts. Others are set to miss by a wide margin, with Canada, Japan, Italy and Spain the worst transgressors. Canada, facing the biggest emissions overshoot, has already said it won't meet its Kyoto target, even by buying permits. It wasn't included in New Carbon Finance's forecast.
In Italy's case, ``It's obvious the goals are not possible,'' Corrado Clini said today at an energy conference today in Rome. Italy will need 421 million permits over the five-year period, and Spain, 405 million, the research firm said. That would cost each country more than 6 billion euros, using the current price of CERs, though both governments have said they may share the costs with local industry. Point Carbon, an Oslo-based emissions-market analysis company, estimates Italy will need 325 million permits and Spain 395 million. Italian government and corporate officials are increasingly criticizing the Mediterranean nation's looming emissions costs. Kyoto is ``pure folly,'' Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of Eni SpA, the nation's largest oil company, said Nov. 10 on an Il Sole 24 Ore Radiocor report.
Italy is among countries that may go the Canadian route of choosing not to buy the permits they need to meet their targets, said Steven Knell, a London-based energy analyst at the economic consulting and research firm Global Insight Inc. "It is unlikely that Italy would formally drop out of the Kyoto, however non-compliance is a distinct possibility,'' Knell said. "The cases of non-compliance may well pile up as many states are well off the mark."
REALITY DAWNS (2): GERMANY WANTS EXEMPTIONS FOR ITS HEAVY INDUSTRIES
Note from Benny Peiser: Angela Merkel's shrewd move has the potential to kill the EU's entire ETS strategy, post-2012. That's because unless all EU member states are essentially given the same exemptions, Germany will be granted a colossal competitive advantage. As a result, it would become extremely attractive for industries all over Europe to relocate to Germany in order to get free emission rights and free carbon credits worth billions of euros. Should be fun
The German government wants extensive exemptions for energy intensive industrial sectors for their carbon emissions caps from 2013, Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief spokesman said on Friday. "We've got to prevent companies from being threatened by climate protection requirements," government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told a news conference. Wilhelm gave no further details and said negotiations were taking place.
The Financial Times Deutschland newspaper reported on Friday that Germany wants to liberate companies from charges for EU allowances (EUAs) if they produce more than 4 kilograms of CO2 per 1 euro of turnover. That would free companies in the steel, glassmaking, cement, paper, ceramic, and chemical sectors from paying for permits.
The European Union aims to slash emissions of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) by a fifth by 2020 with the help of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the flagship of the 27-nation bloc's efforts to combat global warming. The European Commission wants to force utilities to buy all such permits from 2013 and to phase in auctioning for energy intensive industries which compete in global markets.
Global Warming --A Political Context
European and American statists, including activist NGOs like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), assert that the moderate climate warming that occurred until 2002 is a man-made catastrophe, and have embraced the dystopian fantasy that coercive policies for the elimination of fossil fuel production and usage can prevent or turn back the current warming cycle. They have, thus, made the "global warming planetary emergency" into the central plank of their ongoing campaigns for more centralized government. Leftist commentator, Alexander Cockburn, put it this way:
This turn to climate catastrophism is tied into the decline of the left, and the decline of the left's optimistic vision of altering the economic nature of things through a political programme. The left has bought into environmental catastrophism because it thinks that if it can persuade the world that there is indeed a catastrophe, then somehow the emergency response will lead to positive developments in terms of social and environmental justice [liberal fascism].
For decades environmental activists have insisted that capitalism is not a "sustainable" (sufficient to "save the planet") economic system. We now hear brazen declarations that democracy is no longer a "sustainable" political process. Al Gore lends a popular, philosophical/theological underpinning to collectivist impulses by casting the root of all environmental evils - real and imagined - in the scientific and industrial/technological revolutions. Put differently, for Gore and the EDF, the planetary environment, not human life, appears the supreme standard of value. Therefore, everything, most importantly Science and Economics, must be pried away from the benefit of man and pressed into total service of the State.
Given just a decade or two of such "sustainable" policies, bolstered by Gore's religion, the world will be well on its way to a new Dark Ages, and the human misery it breeds.
The American people who owe their long, comfortable and healthy lives to the accomplishments of modern industry, technology, medicine and affordable fossil energy ought to be outraged by activists' claims and policies. They should come to grasp the terrible costs and futility of the left's policies; they must understand that life lived as the left envision it for them and their children is baneful; life lived in submission to the hard natural forces of climate and disease, increasingly lived without labor-saving technology, without the fruits of sophisticated agricultural techniques, and without modern medicine, sanitation, electrification and transportation systems is, to borrow a phrase from Thomas Hobbes, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."
Economic growth requires energy growth, and restricting energy growth through self-interested international agreements such as Kyoto or domestic policies such as carbon taxes or cap-and-trade schemes is a recipe for global poverty and human deaths.
As Christopher Monckton has pointed out, the necessity of getting the "big" policy decisions right, applies with the greatest force to those fields of policy where wrong decisions could kill and/or impoverish millions. The international community, spurred on by "green" NGOs, "too often gets the big ones wrong, and kills tens of millions, and does not care much." The moral dimension, Monckton ever reminds us, is crucial:
"The policies advocated to mitigate climate change would condemn the Third World to remain abjectly poor, for unless all other countries cut their carbon emissions atmospheric concentrations will continue to rise even if the entire West shuts down and goes back to the Stone Age, but without even the ability to light fires...It is the poor who have been the victims of unscientific but fashionable political decisions in the recent past; it is they who will die in their tens of millions if, yet again, an unscientific but fashionable political decision is taken by us and inflicted upon them. We must get the science right or we shall get the policy wrong. We have failed them before. We must not fail them again."
The destructive outcomes of policies advocated by the EDF for the non-problem of modest global warming will also be inflicted on Americans, and not only will it fail "them" in the Third World, but will malevolently fail us, too.
The green pseudo-revolution
Whatever the enviro-lobbyists say, subsidising inefficient green industries is not the way to tackle climate change
With a worldwide recession advancing, strong action on global warming has been thrown into jeopardy. This matters, because in little more than a year, the world will sit down in Copenhagen to negotiate the follow-on treaty to the failed Kyoto Protocol. Yet, with people losing jobs and income, immediate economic help seems to matter more than temperature differentials 100 years from now.
Many green pundits have, however, started saying that the financial crisis only makes the need for action on climate change greater. They urge America's president-elect Barack Obama to pursue a "green revolution" with big investments in renewable energy, arguing that this could create millions of new "green collar" jobs and open huge new markets. Such sentiments, no surprise, are strongly voiced by business leaders who live off such subsidies. But are such pleas smart investments for society?
The problem with the green revolution argument is that it doesn't trouble itself about efficiency. It is most often lauded for supplying new jobs. But billions of dollars in tax subsidies would create plenty of new jobs in almost any sector: the point is that many less capital-intensive sectors would create many more jobs for a given investment of taxpayers' money.
Similarly, green initiatives will open new markets only if other nations subsidise inefficient technologies bought abroad. Thus, the real game becomes which nations get to suck up other nations' tax-financed subsidies. Apart from the resulting global inefficiency, this also creates a whole new raft of industry players that will keep pushing inefficient legislation, simply because it fills their coffers.
A good illustration is Denmark, which early on provided huge subsidies for wind power, building thousands of inefficient turbines around the country from the 1980s onwards. Today, it is often remarked that Denmark is providing every third terrestrial wind turbine in the world, creating billions in income and jobs. A few years ago, however, the Danish Economic Council conducted a full evaluation of the wind turbine industry, taking into account not only its beneficial effects on jobs and production, but also the subsidies that it receives. The net effect for Denmark was found to be a small cost, not benefit.
Not surprisingly, the leading Danish wind producer is today urging strong action on climate change that would imply even more sales of wind turbines. The company sponsors the "Planet in Peril" show on CNN, which helps galvanize public pressure for action. The crucial point is that many green technologies are not cost-effective, at least not yet. If they were, we wouldn't need to subsidise them.
The standard reply is that green technologies seem more expensive only because the price of fossil fuels does not reflect their climate costs. That makes some sense. Given that fossil fuels contribute to global warming, standard economic theory suggests we should tax them according to their cumulative negative effects. But this would make little difference to the inefficiency of most green technologies. The most comprehensive economic meta-study shows that total future climate impacts justify a tax of 0.012 euros per litre of petrol ($0.06 per gallon in the US). This is dwarfed by the tax that many European countries already impose, and it is much less than in the European trading system.
Yet it is argued that much higher taxes and subsidies are the best way to increase research and development in new, cheaper renewable energy sources. This is untrue. During the massive investment associated with the Kyoto treaty, the participating countries' investment in R&D as a percentage of GDP has declined , not increased. It is rather obvious that if you invest massively in inefficient solar panels, most of your money will go to buy the physical panels, whereas only a very small part will go to R&D. If you want more R&D, you should spend your money directly on R&D. This could tackle global warming in the longer run.
Finally, it is often claimed that high CO2 taxes and subsidies for green technology will actually do good, and again Denmark is often taken as an example. After all, it is argued, Denmark has kept its CO2 emissions flat while enjoying 70% economic growth since 1981. But could it have grown more if it had not restricted CO2 emissions? During the same period, US emissions grew 29%, but its GDP grew 39% more than Denmark's, indicating a simple truth: CO2 cuts and subsidies don't necessarily mean no growth, but they probably do mean slower growth.
President-elect Obama is now facing countless people who claim that subsidies for renewable energy and CO2 taxes are great ways to tackle global warming and forge a new green economy. Unfortunately, this is almost entirely incorrect. Taxes and subsidies are always expensive, and will likely impede growth. Moreover, if we really want to tackle global warming, we shouldn't spend vast sums of money buying inefficient green technology - we should invest directly in R&D to make future green technology competitive.
Obama should seize the initiative and make the meeting in Copenhagen next year not about bloated subsidies for inefficient technologies, but about lean investments in future breakthroughs. That is the way to tackle global warming and support a genuinely vibrant economy.
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