Friday, April 03, 2009


An email from Kenneth Green []:

The irrationality of the claim that developed countries have a responsibility to act first in reducing greenhouse gases never ceases to amaze me. Here's why this claim is completely absurd:

1) Climate change is, according to the scientists of the IPCC, a problem that will run its course over many hundreds, possibly thousands of years, based on the atmospheric persistence of certain gases.

2) The developed world did indeed "go first," emitting "greenhouse" gases *they thought harmless* as a by-product of development. And, we do indeed have a responsibility to fix it if those emissions cause harm to others who did not benefit from our development.

3) At the same time, the developed world positively ripped through its development cycle over about 100 years, while their populations were quite small. They made difficult choices to erect democratic-capitalist institutions that led to the rapid development of technologies that were more efficient, and easier on the environment, such that in the last 40 years, developed countries have eliminated most environmental threats of significance in their borders. They created social welfare programs funded by surpluses generated by capitalism, rather than having large families as a social safety net. These were very hard choices, and several wars were fought defending democratic capitalism against fascism and communism. Many died defending democratic capitalism, the only proven institution of rapid development with inherent rewards for efficiency, and which generates wealth surpluses that enable environmental protection to rise as a social value.

4) The developing countries, by contrast, were not willing to muster the political will to adopt democratic capitalist institutions, even as they could witness the superiority of democratic capitalism in the then-developing world, of the 1900s, when information flow was global, first via newspapers, and later by radio and television. The leaders of developing countries, chose, with the tacit (or overt) agreement of their populations, communitarian, facist, dictatorial, or other social institutions all of which lead to social arrangements where success in youth, and security in old age depend on having large families rather than in having a social safety net funded by the proceeds of capitalism and development.

5) In the thousand-year scheme of things that is climate change, the developing countries, by deferring development until their populations were vastly larger than those of the developed world will have a correspondingly vast footprint on the world's ecology, and, (if GHGs really are potent climate forcings), the world's climate. Looking back even 200 years from now, the initial "pulse" of greenhouse gases from the developed world will look trivial in comparison to the titanic flux of GHGs that the developing world will have emitted as it developed. And they're doing it with the full knowledge that these pollutants may harm others. If anyone has harmed anyone, the developing countries, through their inability or unwillingness to adopt capitalist institutions will inflict massive harms on the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those in the developed world, not only through GHGs, but through conventional pollution as well.

So how is it, if the developed world is "responsible" for going first, that the developing world isn't "responsible" for dallying in development, and creating this population bomb? How is it that if the developed world is responsible for the environmental harms of capitalism the developing countries aren't responsible for foregoing the environmental benefits of capitalism? How is it that the developed world gets no credit for sacrificing many of its own children to protect capitalism-- the only social system that speeds development while rewarding efficiency--and the developing world gets no blame for attempting to hinder that system in every way that it could, embracing elements of it (in China) only in the last few decades?

In my opinion, the "you went first" argument is not only rubbish; it obscures the reality that the developing countries are the ones who will ultimately harm others through environmental degradation. And the idea that everyone has a "per-capita" right to the environment is also rubbish, as it's a fundamentally communist notion that perpetuates the very thinking that retards development. Does everyone have a per-capita right to space on the moon, if a private company or only one country develops it? Does everyone have a per-capita right to plasma televisions? Do I have a per-capita right to Ming vases? If China discovers a new diamond mine, do I have a per-capita right to a share? Do I get a per-capita piece of Bollywood? One has a "right" not to be harmed by another, one does not have a "right" to a share in everything the universe offers, regardless of the choices one makes as one lives one's life.


An email from Bryan Leyland []:

In case it is useful, here is some basic information on power systems and renewable energy technologies.

Most power systems have a capacity factor of between 50% and 70%. (Capacity factor is the ratio of the average load to the peak demand in MW.) In some countries the peak demand occurs in winter evenings (heating loads) and other countries in the middle of summer (air-conditioning loads).

There are basically three types of generating plant. a) Base load that operates ~90% of the time generating efficient low-cost electricity. Coal and nuclear plants are prime examples. b) Mid-range plants that are often shut down in the early hours of morning and generate maximum power during the day and during peak demand periods. Hydropower and gas-fired stations, are examples. c) Peak load stations that operate for between 1% and 20% of the time during peak demand periods. Open cycle gas turbines, hydropower stations and pumped storage hydropower are common examples. All these plants can be relied upon to operate when needed - unless they break down or fail to start which occurs about 2% of the time.

Power systems also have a need for "frequency keeping" because the amount of electricity generated must always match the demand exactly. So if there is a sudden large change in load -- the beginning and end of a popular TV programme is a classic example -- generating plant must be available that can increase its output very rapidly -- or decrease its output - very rapidly.

If there is a sudden loss of a large amount of generating capacity then it is sometimes necessary to shed some of the load to avoid a system collapse. Frequency keeping stations are designed to cope with these fluctuations.

The much touted new renewable energy technologies add to the problems of operating a power system because they are unpredictable and their output changes rapidly. In the case of wind power, a change in the output of 50% in a few minutes is not all that unusual. Attempts to predict the output of wind farms more than an hour or so ahead have not been successful. Capacity factors vary from 18% to 37%. Wind power costs about US$2200 per KW. This transfers to a cost of 8 -10c /kWh.

In the case of solar power, the capacity factor is around 20%. The output varies predictably every day and unpredictably every time a cloud passes over the sun. A cloud can drop the output by as much as 60%. The capital cost is in excess of $5000 per KW. The unit cost in around 40 cents. Various forms of marine power are also expensive, more or less unpredictable and have high capital costs. Operation and maintenance costs are unknown but likely to be very high. Reliability is likely to be low. The much touted Pelamis wave power generator project off the coast of Portugal has been abandoned because of financing and technical problems.

None of these renewable energy technologies would exist without grants and massive subsidies.

I had just done a theoretical study based on a notional power system supplied by nuclear power supplemented by pumped storage or by wind power also supplemented by part storage. The system has a load of 10,000 MW at a capacity factor of 60%. The nuclear power option as an installed capacity of about 12,000 MW and the cost of generation is about 8 cents per unit.

Assuming a wind power capacity factor of 25%, the alternative system needs 52,000 MW of installed capacity and the total cost of power is about 25 cents. These figures appear to be incredible but, as far as I can see, they are realistic.

The energy generated from wind has to be sufficient to meet the load and, in addition, to meet the 25% losses from the pumped storage. This requires 32,000 MW of wind power. As the system load is no more than 10,000 MW, something like 20,000 MW of pumped storage capacity is needed to absorb the surplus wind energy when the wind is blowing and store it until it is needed. So we finish up with 52,000 MW of capacity to supply 10,000 MW of load. Hence the electricity is very expensive.

All the promoters of renewable energy ignore the need for storage. What is needed is a large scale, efficient low-cost technology that can store huge amounts of electrical energy for weeks or months. No suitable technology exists or has even been contemplated. Hydro pumped storage is the best we have. It is expensive -- at least $1500 /kW -- and requires two very large storage lakes not far from each other end with one lake something like 700 m higher than the other. The losses are 25%. The cost, the losses, and the difficulty of finding a suitable site are insuperable barriers to the large scale adoption.

So people who tell us that it is possible to run modern power systems almost entirely from wind power, and solar and marine energy are not telling the truth.


Attempt to bypass open debate defeated. See what was proposed here

The Senate is making it tougher to pass the cap-and-trade legislation President Barack Obama wants as part of an effort to reduce global warming.

Lawmakers voted 67-31 on Wednesday to deny the legislation a filibuster-proof path through the Senate. That means 60 votes instead of a simple majority will be needed to pass the cap-and-trade proposal.


Shock! New study finds warming may have 'negligible effect on pathogens or even reduce their ranges'

Recent research has predicted that climate change may expand the scope of human infectious diseases. A new review, however, argues that climate change may have a negligible effect on pathogens or even reduce their ranges. The paper has sparked debate in the ecological community.

In a forum in the April issue of Ecology, Kevin Lafferty of the U.S. Geological Survey's Western Ecological Research Centre suggests that instead of a net expansion in the global range of diseases, climate change may cause poleward range shifts in the areas suitable for diseases as higher latitudes become warmer and regions near the equator become too hot.

The newly suitable areas for diseases will tend to be in more affluent regions where medicines are in widespread use and can more readily combat the diseases, Lafferty says. He cites model estimations that the most dangerous kind of malaria will gain 23 million human hosts outside of its current range by the year 2050, but will lose 25 million in its current range. 'The dramatic contraction of malaria during a century of warming suggests that economic forces might be just as important as climate in determining pathogen ranges,' Lafferty says.

Mercedes Pascual of the University of Michigan sees the situation very differently. Pascual is the lead author of one of five Forum papers published in response to Lafferty. Although she agrees that disease expansion in some areas could be accompanied by retraction in others, she emphasises that disease range does not always correlate with the number of humans infected. In regions of Africa and South America, for example, humans have historically settled in high latitudes and altitudes. If climate change makes these areas more fit for mosquito breeding and for pathogen development, she writes, then a number of infections could expand. She notes that scientists are already seeing evidence of this pattern.

'It would be very unfortunate if the conclusions in Lafferty's paper were taken as evidence that climate change does not matter to infectious diseases,' Pascual says. 'Range shifts will matter and should be better understood.'

Lafferty agrees that range shifts mean there will be winners and losers among human populations. Knowing how disease ranges will shift, instead of assuming a global expansion of diseases, will be the key to distributing resources effectively, he says.

Scientists have used the fact that infectious diseases are most prevalent in the tropics to argue that warmer, wetter conditions that might occur under climate change would lead to an increase in infectious disease transmission. However, Lafferty points out that climate change isn't making the whole world warmer and wetter: Warming trends over the last 60 years have led instead to an increase in hot, dry, desert-like climates.

Further, he says, infectious diseases don't all increase during warm, wet weather. Meningitis peaks during the tropical dry season, for example, and influenza is an obvious staple of winter weather in temperate climes.

Pascual argues, however, that humans have a history of altering the landscape to suit their needs and thus might unintentionally create better habitat for disease carriers. For example, humans seldom leave accessible arid areas alone; instead, they irrigate them for use as farmlands. According to Pascual, the creation of water sources could provide havens for mosquitoes, and thus malaria parasites, to remain in areas that would otherwise dry out.

'We live in a world in which urban and rural areas are increasingly interfacing with each other,' says Pascual. 'This underscores the challenges for predicting the Earth's changing environment.'

Lafferty agrees that climate isn't the only issue that affects disease ecology, and maintains that climate may play only a small part in determining disease ranges. 'If we over-emphasise the role of climate, which we have little control over, at the expense of other factors that drive disease dynamics, we may be missing the forest for the trees,' he says.


A Cooling Trend Toward Global Warming

Over the past several years, it appeared that our society was doomed to succumb to what Weather Channel founder John Coleman has described as "the greatest scam in history": anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming (AGW). For two decades there has been an incessant drumbeat of propaganda attributing every weather-related event to an increase in carbon dioxide caused by the burning of fossil fuels. With the election of a president who is solidly in the global-warming-alarmist camp - and with many high-level appointees who are bona fide climate-change alarmists - coupled with a Democratic legislature anxious to please their environmentalist and media benefactors, the passage of legislation causing some form of economy-crippling energy taxation seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

But then came the unexpected: a recession brought on and exacerbated by the heavy hand of government, and a second consecutive severe winter. Indeed, we may look back and see that our current financial crisis and Mother Nature were the saviors of free-market capitalism. They may have slowed the statist steamroller long enough for the proponents of climate realism to make such socialistic schemes as "cap and trade" understood for what they are and what they are not. They are not about anything to do with global warming or climate change. They are instead a massive transfer of wealth from the productive to those who will not adopt free markets.

While the primary promoters of the warming hoax have not "broken and run" yet, there is much evidence that there is an increasing tide of defectors and that climate catastrophists have completely run out of dry powder.

Temperatures Stopped Increasing

Satellite data from NASA shows no increase in average global temperature since 1998, a year when El Ni¤o caused a worldwide spike having nothing to do with carbon dioxide. Alarmists contend this is just a pause in a continuous rise in temperatures and that it will begin to increase again. Ironically that is the same argument that the warming skeptics have been using for years. There was warming for the first 40 years of the 20th century - until the very time CO2 began to climb significantly - and then came cooling, which sparked concerns in the '70s about a looming Ice Age. Then rising temperatures resumed until 1998 and now we're back on a cooling trend. This fits well with a general planetary warm up, but is in conflict with climate forcing by CO2 that calls for a continuous upward temperature movement.

Unfortunately for the alarmists, nothing seems sacred these days. It has long been known that the disintegration of the Soviet Union ended temperature data from large parts of that country, especially Siberia. Without massive re-calculations to exclude temperature readings from these stations during the Soviet era, a significant increase in global temperatures would be seen from the absence of this data during the post-Soviet period. From available literature there is no indication that any meteorological body went to such trouble. But what about the weather data from the United States - the "best in the world"?

In his presentation at the International 2009 Conference on Climate Change, 25-year veteran meteorologist Anthony Watts showed alarming data for the global-warming alarmists. But first we should note that the global temperature rise that we are supposed to be concerned over was less than 1øC for the entire 20th century, meaning minor errors in measurements can contribute significantly to an apparent warming trend. Watts was certainly aware of the "urban island" effect that causes cities like Tucson to have temperature increases three times those of surrounding rural measurement stations. But how have reporting stations, "urbanized" by a spreading population, been affected? With 650 volunteers, more than 860 of the National Weather Service's 1,221 climate-monitoring stations were inspected and photographically documented. Of these, 89 percent did not meet the Weather Service's own requirement of being 30 meters away from artificial heating or reflecting sources such as pavements or building.

Public Opinion Is Shifting

According to a January Rasmussen poll, 44 percent of U.S. voters now say "long-term planetary trends are the cause of global warming - up from 35 percent two years ago, while only 41 percent blame it on human activity, down from 47 percent. The remainder either attribute global warming to some other reason or are unsure. This means that only about 4 in 10 of the polled "expected voters" are still falling for the "greatest scam."

For the alarmists to pass their "cap and trade" or "carbon tax" legislation - the purpose of all this turmoil - they must do so before the awakened voters reach the 70-percent level, at which point some political analysts believe that even many liberal Democrats will abandon a sinking ship.

When people are more informed on the issue, the tide swings dramatically away from the alarmist position. In the Czech Republic where President Vaclav Klaus, a speaker at the climate-change conference and current president of the European Union, is educating his countrymen on the climate debate, a mere 11 percent believe in anthropogenic global warming. The more informed people are, the less likely they are to be in the alarmist camp.

This was evidenced by a 2007 Oxford-style debate in New York sponsored by National Public Radio, a more difficult venue being hard to imagine for warming skeptics, or "deniers" as they were popularly referred to. The issue under debate was "Global Warming Is Not a Crisis." Prior to the debate about 30 percent of the audience agreed with the motion, and 57 percent were against, with 13 percent undecided. After the debate 46 percent agreed, while 42 percent were opposed with 12 percent apparently still unsure, a swing of 19 percent of those with an opinion toward the climate-realist position.

More and more scientists are also publicly coming out against the anthropogenic global-warming hypothesis. On March 21, 59 additional scientists from NASA, the EPA, the Navy, the Air Force, the Defense and Energy Departments, and major universities joined the previous 650 who disagree with this hypothesis, according to Senator James Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Goodbye CO2, Here Comes the Sun

Because of undeniable properties of the spectral properties of atmospheric gases and the wavelengths of solar radiation and terrestrial re-radiation, all climate predictive models have a "hot spot" in the atmosphere at a height of 8 to 10 kilometers above the equatorial regions. Sought after for years as proof of CO2-induced warming, thousands of radiosonde (balloon) and satellite measurements have failed to find this critical signature or "fingerprint" of CO2 as a climate-forcing agent. Lack of such evidence caused the defection of Dr. David Evans from his post with the Australian Greenhouse Office. But there is other evidence of this disconnect presented by none other than Al Gore in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Featured in the video is a large graph with two lines of data, one being temperature as calculated by the thoroughly discredited and phony "Hockey Stick" graph, while another plots the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The data are separated for a reason: if you put them together, it is evident that a rise in temperature precedes the increase in CO2, as if the oceans give up the gas when they are heated. Which they do.

On the other hand, the controversy has brought to light a correlation that seems to have been lost in history: temperature change versus solar activity, not only solar irradiance that can account for only a small change in temperature, but activity that includes solar winds and magnetic fields.

Let us take two end points: first the coldest temperatures of which we have a historical record, the depth of the Little Ice Age from about 1645 to 1715, and the second being today's global temperatures. Next to this we plot the lowest sunspot activity, a period known as the Maunder Minimum where there were no sunspots for five decades, and then the solar activity that occurred at the end of the 1900s, estimated to be the highest in the last 11,000 years.

It is interesting that the lowest temperature is associated with the Maunder Minimum while the highest is found in the late 1900s temperatures. Unfortunately while this may bring thinking people to discount the warming hoax, there is a possible downside for the human race. In the last two years there have been almost no new sunspots while scores, if not hundreds, were expected in a new solar cycle. Not wanting to sound like an alarmist, nonetheless, this condition bodes ill for a continued warming trend and is likely the precursor of significant cooling - the real problem for the human race.

One can imagine a scene 10 years hence when government has shut down coal-fired power plants while global temperatures are plunging toward those last seen in the mid 1800s.

Alarmist Leaders Avoid Questions

The two most vocal and quoted leaders in the campaign to convince the public that global warming is both caused by human activity and is a threat to mankind are former Vice President Al Gore and NASA employee James Hansen. Both were invited to speak at the March 8-10 Conference on Climate Change. Neither accepted.

In his closing address to the conference, producer of the informative DVD Apocalypse, NO!, Lord Christopher Monckton remarked: "Gore's speaking contract stipulates that he will not debate, he will not answer unscripted questions, and he will not be interviewed except by journalists acceptable to him. Which journalists are they? The dim ones that don't know any science, and the prejudiced ones that don't care. Just about all of them."

Gore appeared before the U.S. Senate a few weeks ago in a "public" hearing, except the public was not invited. The former V.P. showed "science slides" to the senators. Would you like to know what they were about? Me too. Sorry, but they are secret, and the Senate is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Fancy that.

Meanwhile Chief Alarmist James Hansen wasn't too busy to lend a hand at a March 2 demonstration, self-proclaimed as "Mass Civil Disobedience at the Coal-Fired Capitol Power Plant in Washington D.C." The nation anxiously awaited Capitol Climate Action's report proclaiming: "Courageous activists have now occupied three of five gates at the Capitol Power Plant. The march of thousands is continuing to circle the plant." The report didn't mention that the plant no longer generates electricity and is already slated to be changed over to natural gas.

At this point the entire cabal of global-warming alarmists must realize that all it would take is a single mainstream news organization to opt for truth, and their entire house of cards would come tumbling down. Through public pressure on our legislators and through letters to the editor, we can hasten this glorious day.


Margaret Thatcher: A Free Market Environmentalist

Thatcher's environmental views from a new perspective

By Iain Murray

Tracy Mehan's account of Margaret Thatcher's approach to the environment reminds us that this remarkable lady was both concerned and informed about the issues. Yet Mehan's concentration on speeches in 1988-90 means that a wider context is missing.

In my view, Lady Thatcher's approach to the environment is as deeply connected to her belief in the importance of the free market as it is to her belief in tradition and our shared inheritance. She has been consistent in her belief that when the two come into conflict, we should not be blinded by our love of the latter into sacrificing the former. This became all the more apparent to her as she realized the real motives of some of her initial allies.

As Thatcher explains in her autobiography's first volume, The Downing Street Years (1993), she "always drew a clear distinction" between different sorts of environmental concerns (638-39). Many were primarily local concerns that she believed could be addressed through the privatization of badly run municipal services. She also inherited state-run programs that she saw through to success, including the cleanup of Britain's rivers (although the hugely successful private cleanup of London's River Wandle shows that those programs could well have been run privately).

Then came concerns about land use and overdevelopment. On this subject she stood close behind one of her chief political allies, her secretary of state for the environment, Nicholas Ridley. As she summed up the issue: "If people were to be able to afford houses there must be sufficient amounts of building land available. Tighter planning meant less development land and fewer opportunities for home ownership" (638). (She also supported Ridley against what she called the "romantics and cranks" of the "environmental lobby" [758].)

Yet Thatcher saw traditional environmental concerns as very different from "the quite separate question of atmospheric pollution." There her background as the only major world leader to be a trained scientist drove her approach. As she said: "There had always to be a sound scientific base on which to build--and of course a clear estimation of the cost in terms of public expenditure and economic growth foregone--if one was not going to be thrust into the kind of a "green socialism' which the Left were eager to promote" (639).

This issue was complicated by the nature of British science funding. Prior to Thatcher's intervention, most government science funding supported industry, which engaged in extensive lobbying. But she thought that industry should pay for research and development, and directed government science funds to universities and scientific institutes.

In her latest book, Statecraft (2002, 449-58), Thatcher devotes ten pages to the subject of "Hot Air and Global Warming." Thatcher is quite clear that she feels things have gone in the wrong direction since former British ambassador to the United Nations-turned-global-warming- campaigner Sir Crispin Tickell convinced her to tell the Royal Society, "it is possible . . . we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself." She notes that the doomsters' favorite subject today is climate change, which "provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism" (449).

Thatcher's critics might claim that she has--to use a fashionable term--flip-flopped on the issue, but that is not necessarily the case.

First, she stresses that she was initially skeptical of the arguments about global warming, although she thought they deserved to be treated seriously. She points out that there was "rather little scientific advice available to political leaders from those experts who were doubtful of the global warming thesis" (451). However, by 1990, she had begun to recognize that the issue was being used as a Trojan horse by anti-capitalist forces. That is why she took pains in her Royal Society speech in 1990 to state: "Whatever international action we agree upon to deal with environmental problems, we must enable our economies to grow and develop, because without growth you cannot generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment" (452). In fact, Thatcher makes it clear that she regards global warming less as an "environmental" threat and more as a challenge to human ingenuity that should be grouped with challenges such as AIDS, animal health, and genetically modified foods. In her estimation,

All require first-rate research, mature evaluation and then the appropriate response. But no more than these does climate change mean the end of the world; and it must not either mean the end of free-enterprise capitalism. (457)

As Tracy Mehan implies, Thatcher's environmentalism is founded on Edmund Burke's conservative view of our inheritance as being worth defending. Yet that view is tempered by her classical liberal belief that human wealth and progress are crucial. That is why Lady Thatcher can be described as a true free market environmentalist.



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1 comment:

John A said...

I won't re-quote a whole paragraph, but highlight the closing sentence, from one part of "Cooling Trend"

"Satellite data from NASA shows no increase in average global temperature since 1998, a year when El Niño caused a worldwide spike... This fits well with a general planetary warm up, but is in conflict with climate forcing by CO2 that calls for a continuous upward temperature movement."

This is part and parcel of why IPCC reports should be a blip on the weather radar rather than the driving force of climate policy. FOrmed to investigate possible human influence on climate (whether local or global) it devolved into taking the stance that no other influence should be admitted. The changes of the last decade, for example, are excused for being contrary to their computer models because the non-human influences, despite being well-known even to middle-school science pupils, were quite deliberately excluded from the models. They are saying "Yes, our nodels do not work, but you must believe in them because we want you to."
- - - ranting follows - - -
Until there is actually a reliable model, even semi-accurate, and I think even with such a model, if monies are to be allocated related to "Climate Change" I would much prefer investing in methodology to counteract the effects regardless of temperature direction. More electric power, better distributed, for a start. Rather that than move to Antarctica if things warm up, or Brazil if things cool. Certainly better than only being able to light/heat/cool my home for perhaps two hours a day while unable to see outside because sunlight is blocked by a roof of solar panels over all non-agricultural lands, or wondering when a sixty-foot blade will shear off the windmill in the front yard (given the lack of infrastructure maintenance on roads, bridges, etc do you really think these things will be more successful? well, maybe, as long as they remain privatized rather than government-run).