Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Upper crust arrogance in Britain

Thousands of ordinary families faced airport hell yesterday - as well-heeled youngsters blockaded Stansted's runway in a demo over climate change. The protesters - whose Plane Stupid campaign counts sons and daughters of peers among activists - chained themselves together to halt flights.

Armed police took five hours to clear them as more than 150 take-offs and landings were delayed or cancelled at the Essex airport - Britain's third-busiest. Fuming passengers almost came to blows in the scramble to check in for alternative flights - as gun cops battled to keep order amid chaos.

Last night the campaigners - 57 of whom were arrested - were blasted for causing planes to be diverted . . . putting MORE carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Adam May, 24, from Clapham, South London, whose flight to meet his girlfriend in Berlin was scuppered, raged: "It makes no sense. They should be banged up." [i.e. put in jail]

Demonstrators held by cops included Olivia Chessell, 20, whose family hails from posh East Dulwich in South East London. She took part in a demo on the roof of the Commons in February against a new runway at Heathrow. Tamsin Omond, 23 - a baronet's grandaughter - was also part of that protest, along with Leo Murray, 31, who is the grandson of the late Labour peer Anthony Greenwood. Another arrested was campaigner Liz Snook, 30, from Harlow, Essex. [Snook on the left in the pic below. Kember on the right]

In yesterday's demo, chained protesters surrounded themselves with a "cage" of fencing. As police cut them out, Plane Stupid's Lily Kember, 21, defended her group's protest about greenhouse gas emissions, insisting: "It's a strong message." She was taught at 15,000 pounds-a-year Godolphin and Latymer school in Hammersmith, West London.

More than 3,500 Ryanair passengers were among those hit as the budget carrier cancelled 56 flights. The airline blasted Stansted's security after the protesters breached the airport's 5ft perimeter fence with wire-cutters at 3am. Among those forced to scrap holiday plans were 20 excited pupils aged 11 to 12 heading for Hamburg. Teacher Vanessa Lamb said: "The children are obviously upset."


A fumbling, stumbling Warmist "scientist"

As usual, it's all abuse, not science. "How dare people rat on the club of the holy and the righteous!" is his underlying attitude

Someone just sent me a transcript of a taped interview with Jerry North of Texas A&M doing what he can to diminish climate skepticism and some individual skeptics - and, in the process, merely diminishing himself.

North was the Chairman of the National Research Council Committee empanelled on the hockey stick, at the request of the former congressman from the Sierra Club, Sherwood Boehlert (R., NY). They were tasked not with evaluating the hockey stick proper, but with critiquing the exposes of said icon which, when finally assessed, got pantsed by the Wegman Report, along with the rest of the insular "climate" community (see Red Hot Lies pp. 326-28).

During these proceedings, North aggressively fended off criticism of and sought to rehabilitate the hockey stick — only to admit finally that he agreed with Wegman’s defrocking of the sham. As MIT’s Richard Lindzen notes,
one of the reports assessing the Mann et al Hockey Stick was prepared by a committee of the US National Research Counsel (a branch of the National Academy) chaired by Gerald North (North, 2006). The report concluded that the analysis used was totally unreliable for periods longer ago than about 400 years. In point of fact, the only basis for the 400 year choice was that this brought one to the midst of the Little Ice Age, and there is essentially nothing surprising about a conclusion that we are now warmer. Still, without any basis at all, the report also concluded that despite the inadequacy of the Mann et al analysis, the conclusion might still be correct. It was this baseless conjecture that received most of the publicity surrounding the report.

North doesn’t seem to like that Lindzen notes things such as these. Here is North, the apparently reluctant if highly sought-after orator, in the interview:
So, you know, by - by this time I'm not a publicity seeker. I'm happy to do this. And I never asked to do something like this, I'm always asked to do it. And I think most people who you see doing it are in that category, except for the skeptics. The skeptics in global warming are - they're - and it's the same ones over and over again. You might notice, they're always there. They're always at the phone ready to be - and they take - they take lessons on debating, and so on. They're very good at it.

It's only a handful of guys. Same ones over and over. There's this guy at University of Virginia, and there - there's a guy at Huntsville Alabama, there - two of them there. And they're, you know, a half a dozen people, and they're always the same guys. Same guys. And you don't see the same guy on the other side, because there are thousands of us. So - so that's - that's another little sociological issue there.

Some of them for religious purposes, you know. They're - they do - they don't believe. I know two people who are very religious. And they're good scientists, outspoken, but they're skeptics because they really just don't believe that the earth is changing. They just don't believe this can happen. So - that happens. .

Finally wrapping up, about two minutes later:
You know, de - good debaters, that - that's not - ha - it has nothing to do with their expertise, it's their expertise in debating that matters. You know, they know how to pull strings, and you know, put your buttons, and - they're good.

I haven't caught any debates involving UVA's Pat Michaels, or John Christy and Roy Spencer (the two prominent denizens of Hunstville) up against alarmists - who generally decline the prospect, though such events may have taken place. I do know about the one involving Richard Lindzen, who is obviously the ultimate target of North's ire ("the famous skeptic from MIT. Hope he doesn't see this"; read the rant for yourself, at minutes 33-35).

But what a sniveling take on things - oh, and what sort of publicity seeker agrees to an interview, make that interviews, by the way? - just because the skeptic scientists clean the alarmists' clock in the rare debate means they must have taken debating lessons, a supposition which in turn means something, if one left unsaid.

Also notice the reasoning: the fact that it's usually one of a specific few skeptics who gets called for the "but, not everyone agrees" line that a handful of journalists feel it their duty to include in a climate piece - that they should dare to answer the phone for a media inquiry (obviously something no alarmist would ever do) - is evidence that a small group of skeptics exist, and they are publicity seekers.

This childishly blinkered thinking comes from an intellectual, mind you. The fact the media turn to the same small group of alarmists says nothing about anyone, except about the media for the sloth of only turning to the same small group of skeptics for the throwaway skeptic line.

Now name alarmists featured in these scare stories other than the half-dozen usual-suspects, apparently self-promoting phone-answerers. Of course, other alarmists do get in print for alarmist claims - that's the principal day-to-day focus of their industry, for heaven's sake, and what the media thrive on.

Then the press tosses in the "but, not everyone agrees" line . . . sometimes. I suggest a comparison is in order: how often are the noisiest four alarmists quoted, vs. how often North's four targets get ink? I recall how North's pal Michael Mann was the go-to guy for every sort of alarmist story for years, until his "hockey stick" was finally subjected to scrutiny, and debunked. And James Hansen has apparently been on every reporter's speed dial, giving 1,400 interviews over the period of time he claimed to have been "muzzled" by this Bush administration (just as he claimed to have been by the first Bush administration, both of which assertions are demonstrably false).

North doesn't say what these examples tell him. To be charitable, North's commentary reflects a double standard. To be more direct, it's whiny nonsense from someone who proves that alarmists not only have a poor track record at debating, they do themselves no favors when given an open mic.



Seldom has a politician's call to action been so rapidly answered. Mr Ed Miliband gives a newspaper interview in which he demands "popular mobilisation" to force the world's governments to push through an agreement to limit carbon emissions. Within hours, members of the Plane Stupid campaign occupy the runway at Stansted Airport, causing arriving planes to circle for hours before being diverted. Well done, Ed!

In fact the Secretary of State for the Environment's demand for a "countervailing force" to be applied to the carbon foot-draggers was anticipated: last week, "climate protesters" broke into one of Britain's biggest power stations, managing to cut almost two per cent of the nation's power supplies. I imagine that the Secretary of State for Energy will be having stern words with Ed Miliband. This, though, would mean Mr Miliband shouting at himself, like a lunatic on a street-corner, since he is the Secretary of State for Energy, as well. Who says we don't have joined-up government?

Both of these "mobilisations" were presumably designed, … la Miliband, to put pressure on the world's environment ministers who are now gathering in the Polish city of Poznan to come up with the outlines of a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Accord, which expires in 2012. The truth, however, is that Kyoto, as a means to reduce carbon emissions, has been like Monty Python's parrot, long dead, despite all the protestations to the contrary by its salesmen.

You don't have to be a "climate change sceptic" to assert this unwelcome fact. Professor Gwyn Prins, Director of the LSE's Mackinder Centre for the Study of Long Wave Events, has been advocating measures to reduce what he sees as man-made climate change since 1986. He was a lead author on the Third and Fourth Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and on the Advisory Board of Friends of the Earth UK. For some years now, Prof Prins has been warning that the Kyoto approach is hopelessly flawed - and his unpopularity in the environment ministries of Europe has grown, precisely as his criticisms of their approach have been vindicated.

His basic critique was originally outlined in a paper entitled "The Wrong Trousers" (after the Wallace and Gromit film): "The Kyoto Protocol seeks to square a circle. It seeks to articulate a market-driven trading mechanism, with a top-down detailed specification of how it will work. It is an example of a form of output target-setting that seeks to prevail by institutional fiat, based on over-confident assertion of fragile knowledge, through the sanction of tax and associated punishment. It has been applied to an entirely novel, indeed, a fabricated market."

This fabricated market in carbon has at its heart the UN's Clean Development Mechanism. This is how the EU, which had an obligation under Kyoto to reduce its emissions by two per cent by 2012, has managed to claim success while actually increasing its emissions by 13 per cent. By purchasing so called "offsets" from countries such as China, Britain, for example, proclaims itself a "leader in the fight against climate change".

Most of this is entirely fraudulent, in the sense that the Chinese have been paid billions to destroy particular atmospheric pollutants, such as CFC-23, which have actually been manufactured in order to be destroyed - and for no other purpose. This is hardly surprising: if something is accorded a price (especially a fixed one) then companies will queue up to produce it.

The EU is inordinately proud of its Emissions Trading Scheme - which it calls "the world's first carbon market" - and it is this scheme which has created the creative accounting scam known as "offsets". Even mortgage-backed securities, the financial instrument at the heart of the credit crunch, at least had something useful - houses - at the bottom of the pile of junk. Some people have described offsets as the carbon market equivalent of the mediaeval sale of Indulgences by the Catholic Church; but as Prof Prins points out, the Church sold them only as a means of atoning for the sins of the past - "carbon offsets" are sold to absolve us from sins in the future, an even more preposterous transaction.

Now that the EU is attempting at Poznan to set up a scheme which will make its industries buy carbon allocations via an auction, rather than simply receiving them free of charge, reality is finally intruding on the madness. Angela Merkel, as environment minister in Helmut Kohl's administration, was noted for her promotion of policies solely designed to reduce Germany's carbon emissions. As Chancellor, however, she has become better acquainted with the arguments of her country's industrial base. Thus last week in Berlin Merkel declared: "We must ensure that our energy-intensive industry, which is driven by exports, is of course excluded from the emissions quotas. We cannot stand by while jobs in the chemicals, steel and other industries move to regions of the world where climate protection is less stringent than here."

Similar remarks have been made in the run-up to Poznan by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's Prime Minister. It is not thought that Signor Berlusconi had read the Kyoto treaty, when he signed it during his previous term of office-but then the most convincing fraudulent documents have real signatures.

As for the host nation Poland, it produces 94 per cent of its energy from its own supplies of coal - the devil's fuel, according to the Kyoto process. Other European countries have, in effect, attempted to bribe the Poles to agree to take Russian gas instead of using their own coal to keep the country going. If they understood anything about the history of Poland, they would surely realise that there is not a chance that the Poles would voluntarily make themselves reliant on Russia to keep the lights on. I wonder if the hosts might suddenly arrange to have the delegates' hotel heating turned off in freezing Poznan, just to get the point across.

I tuned in to the BBC's Today programme yesterday morning to hear someone expostulating passionately on this general issue. He exclaimed: "I really can not believe that the EU will not come up with a deal [in Poznan]. The EU can not afford to fail on this. Our credibility will be absolutely nil." I wondered which member of Plane Stupid was talking; but then the presenter said: "Thank you, Roger Harrabin," and I realised that I had been listening to the BBC's "Environment Analyst".

Mr Harrabin's evident panic at the idea that the EU might appear to fail to keep the "Kyoto process" alive is, in a way, understandable: the Corporation's coverage of this issue has been at all times based on the idea that the Kyoto Treaty is A Good Thing: as that rare subversive, Jeremy Paxman, said last year, "The BBC's coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago." This is why you won't be hearing Prof Prins being interviewed by Mr Harrabin.

Never mind. As with Monty Python's rigid Norwegian Blue, it doesn't matter how desperately convincing the salesman is: in the end, the public knows a dead parrot when it sees one.


Obama's "Green Jobs" Plan Will Not Work

Obama's "green jobs" plan would indeed create jobs, but it would do so by killing other jobs

There may be good reasons to switch from existing energy sources to renewable. But President-elect Barack Obama's energy plans have significant costs. His energy promises rely on questionable science and even more questionable economics. Creating "green jobs" would kill other jobs.

Obama has put energy policy at the forefront of his agenda. He says that his plan will boost our national security, help us achieve "energy independence," reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote job creation. Indeed, Obama vows to create around 5 million new jobs by increasing federal spending on renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and biofuels.

As many experts have observed, the science behind the Obama plan is dubious, particularly when it comes to ethanol. The renewable energy industry simply does not have the capacity--at least not yet--to power large swathes of our fossil fuel-driven economy. Just look at the United Kingdom, where a shortage of windmill-building capability has hindered the government's plan to replace aging nuclear reactors with wind power.

If Obama's energy promises rely on questionable science, they rely on even more questionable economics. We are to believe that replacing conventional energy sources (especially coal) with renewables (especially wind) will create 5 million new "green jobs." The hope is that armies of workers will be enlisted to build tens of thousands of windmills; to manufacture and deploy solar-power installations; to harvest, transport, and process huge amounts of biofuel feedstock; and to string the power lines that will allow the U.S. power grid to incorporate a major expansion of intermittent energy.

Unfortunately, the idea of government "job creation" is a classic example of the broken window fallacy, which was explained by French economist Fr‚d‚ric Bastiat way back in 1850. It is discouraging to think that nearly 160 years later, politicians still do not understand Bastiat's basic economic insight.

He explained the fallacy as follows: Imagine some shopkeepers get their windows broken by a rock-throwing child. At first, people sympathize with the shopkeepers, until someone claims that the broken windows really are not that bad. After all, they "create work" for the glassmaker, who might then be able to buy more food, benefiting the grocer, or buy more clothes, benefiting the tailor. If enough windows are broken, the glassmaker might even hire an assistant, creating a job.

Did the child therefore do a public service by breaking the windows? No. We must also consider what the shopkeepers would have done with the money they used to fix their windows had those windows not been broken. Most likely, the shopkeepers would have plowed that money back into their store: perhaps they would have bought more stock from their suppliers, or maybe they would have hired new employees. Before the windows were broken, the shopkeepers had intact windows and the money to purchase more goods or hire new workers. After the windows were broken, they had to use that money to repair the windows and thus were unable to expand their businesses.

Now consider Obama's "green jobs" plan, which includes regulations, subsidies, and renewable-power mandates. The "broken windows" in this case would be lost jobs and lost capital in the coal, oil, gas, nuclear, and automobile industries. Currently, these industries directly employ more than 1 million people. Conventional power plants would be closed, and massive amounts of energy infrastructure would be dismantled. After breaking these windows, the Obama plan would then create new jobs in the renewable energy sector. The costs of replacing those windows would ultimately be passed on to taxpayers and energy consumers.

In short, the Obama plan reflects fallacious thinking of the first order. There may be sound reasons to switch from existing energy sources to renewables, including the need to slash greenhouse gas emissions, the need to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, and the need to meet growing energy demand. If Americans wish to pay for a wholesale transformation of the energy industry, that is their choice. But let us not lie about the costs, and let us not espouse an economic fallacy that is nearly 160 years old. Obama's "green jobs" plan would indeed create jobs, but it would do so by killing other jobs. Is that really the type of energy policy Americans want?


Rare 50 year Arctic Blast Set for Southern California

With a warm November, Southern California is finally ready for cold storms to make their way in. Resort level snow will be likely next week, and in pretty hefty amounts if things stay on track. Meteorologist Kevin Martin predicts a 50 year event. While Martin is usually conservative on these events, the pattern highly favors it. "We are in a pre-1950 type pattern, "said Martin. "We know we are due for a winter storm sometime this year. The type we may be dealing with will be ranked up there with the known years before 1950, which set record low daytime temperatures into the forecast region. With this, may come low elevation snow."

Forecaster Cameron Venable is seeing very cold temperatures in the Los Angeles areas as well. Torrance is not usually known for winter weather, thus making this an interesting event for Venable to track.

"Temperatures in Siberia, Russia will be -81 degrees this week, "said Martin. "With those type of temperatures the arctic air mass has to spill somewhere. Our answer of the exact track will become more clear this week. All residents in the mountain communities should prepare this week for very cold, winter weather, with snow." Indications are a second, colder storm could hit near the 18th-22nd time-frame. The details on that will have to be sorted out.


Australia: Conservative Senator refuses to back Warmist laws during economic downturn

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce has insisted he cannot support an emissions trading scheme during an economic downturn, again setting himself at odds with Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull. The Opposition Leader is struggling to maintain unity as he ends the year with both the Coalition and his own satisfaction levels sliding in the polls, and divisions emerging on key issues including emissions trading and industrial relations.

Former Liberal president Shane Stone yesterday suggested Senator Joyce and his fellow Nationals in the Senate should leave the Coalition so they could find out how effective they would be as independents, but Mr Turnbull is trying to defuse the row that erupted when the Nationals senators twice ignored his voting instructions in parliament's final week.

Senator Joyce was being careful with his words yesterday, saying he did not want to inflame the Coalition dispute, but he did say there was no way he could support an ETS in the current financial climate.

Mr Turnbull fiercely resisted attempts by his predecessor, Brendan Nelson, to adopt a more sceptical policy on the Government's proposed ETS, which will be introduced in 2010. Mr Turnbull and others successfully insisted the Coalition stick by the position that it would offer in-principle support for an ETS but push for a delay -- until 2011 or 2012 -- to allow for proper implementation.

The Rudd Government, which will unveil the final design of its scheme on Monday, has said it wants to negotiate it through the Senate next year with the support of the Coalition -- rather than the Greens, independent Nick Xenophon and Family First's Steve Fielding -- delivering a clear message to business that it expects the Senate to soften the impact of the scheme. But Senator Joyce, who leads the Nationals' four-person Senate team, told The Australian he believed the ETS should be delayed until the downturn was over. "I do not believe in an ETS when we are in the middle of a recession. Full stop," he said. "It's fiscally imprudent to impose a new tax in this environment. "We don't support it in its current form and it's not a matter of delaying it for a year, or for two years, we just don't support it in these financial times and they're going to last for quite some years yet."

The Coalition position is that the ETS should be informed by the outcome of next year's UN meeting in Copenhagen on a global climate change deal and that if the rest of the world fails to agree, then Australia's ETS scheme should start very slowly and with a low carbon price. Apart from the start date, the Coalition's conditions are broadly in line with what the Government is expected to announce.



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