Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"N*gger-hating" Greenie?

David Attenborough argues the planet cannot handle more people and wants births reduced. Since almost all the countries with positive population growth are in Africa, the target of this guy's ill-will would seem obvious. European birthrates are already half what is required for replacement of deaths

SIR David Attenborough has become a patron of an organisation that campaigns to limit the number of people in the world, arguing that the growth in global population is frightening. The television presenter and naturalist said the increase in population was having devastating effects on ecology, pollution and food production. "There are three times as many people in the world as when I started making television programs only a mere 56 years ago," Sir David, who has two children, said after becoming a patron of the Optimum Population Trust think-tank. [It's not a think-tank. It's just the successor to the old "people are pollution" ZPG movement. Calling it a hate-tank would be more accurate]

"It is frightening in the sense that we can't go on as we have been. We are seeing the consequences in terms of ecology, atmospheric pollution and in terms of the space and food production. "I've never seen a problem that wouldn't be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more. Population is reaching its optimum and the world cannot hold an infinite number of people." The OPT counts among its patrons the environmentalist Jonathon Porritt and the academic Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta. However, Sir David's appointment has already been criticised.

Austin Williams, author of The Enemies of Progress, said: "Experts can still be stupid when they speak on subjects of which they know little. Sir David may know a sight more than I do about remote species but that does not give him the intelligence to speak on global politics. "I have a problem with the line that people are a problem. More people are a good thing. People are the source of creativity, intelligence, analysis and problem-solving. "If we see people as just simple things that consume and excrete carbon, then the OPT may have a point, but people are more than this and they will be the ones to find the solutions."

Sir David said the OPT was drawing attention to the issue of population and being a patron seemed a worthwhile thing to do. Roger Martin, the chairman of the trust, said the appointment would put pressure on organisations to face up to what he said was the taboo issue of population. "The environmental movement will not confront the fact that there is not a single problem that they deal with which would not be easier with fewer people."

The trust campaigns for global access to family planning and for couples to be encouraged to stop having more than two children. In Britain it wants to stabilise the population by bringing immigration into balance with emigration and making greater efforts to reduce teenage pregnancies.

Mr Martin said the UK population must be reduced to a sustainable level because Britain was already the most overcrowded country in Europe. He said the world could not increase production to meet the needs of a growing population. "We can't feed ourselves with some of the most intensive agriculture in the world - we're only 70 per cent self-sufficient." Mr Martin said that Britain could not rely on the world food market because, when food runs short, exporters do not export it. "It's completely cuckoo to imagine that these globalised economies are going to keep us fed when we can't do it ourselves," he said.


No SUVs Around During the Roman Global Warming ‘Crisis’

Self-hating humans need to relax and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

Ah, spring, when the earth slowly wakes from its winter slumber, a warming welcomed by nearly every living thing. Hard to believe some silly people are deathly afraid of warming weather — worried sick because the earth has warmed a degree or two over the last 150 years.

Make no mistake — the earth has warmed. Unfortunately for the climate-change catastrophists, warming periods have occurred throughout recorded history, long before the Industrial Revolution and SUVs began spitting man-made carbon into the atmosphere. And as might be expected, these warm periods have invariably proven a blessing for humanity. Consider:

Around the 3rd century B.C., the planet emerged from a long cold spell. The warm period which followed lasted about 700 years, and since it coincided with the rise of Pax Romana, it is known as the Roman Warming.

In the 5th century A.D., the earth’s climate became cooler. Cold and drought pushed the tribes of northern Europe south against the Roman frontier. Rome was sacked, and the Dark Ages commenced. And it was a dark age, both metaphorically and literally — the sun’s light dimmed and gave little warmth; harvest seasons grew shorter and yielded less. Life expectancy and literacy plummeted. The plague appeared and decimated whole populations.

Then, inexplicably, about 900 A.D. things began to warm. This warming trend would last almost 400 years, a well documented era known as the Medieval Warm Period. Once again, as temperatures rose harvests and populations grew. Vineyards made their way into Northern Europe, including Britain. Art and science flourished in what we now know as the Renaissance.

Then around 1300 A.D. things cooled drastically. This cold spell would last almost 500 years, a severe climate event known as the Little Ice Age. Millions died in famine as glaciers advanced all over the world. The plague returned. In Greenland, the Norse colony that had been established during the Medieval Warming froze and starved. Arctic pack ice descended south, pushing Inuit peoples to the shores of Scotland. People ice skated on the Thames; they walked from Staten Island to Manhattan over a frozen New York Harbor. The year 1816 was remembered as the year without a summer, with some portions of the Northern Hemisphere seeing snowfall in June.

But around 1850 the planet began to warm up yet again. Glaciers retreated. Temperatures rose. This is the warming period which we are still enjoying today. And once again, the warmth brought bounty: The last 150 years have seen an explosion in life expectancy, population, and scientific progress like never before.

Of course, even before the appearance of humans, the earth alternated throughout its history between extremes of heat and cold: 700 million years ago the planet was covered entirely in ice; 55 million years ago, a swampy greenhouse.

Why? What drives these ancient cycles? There are a lot of theories. The waxing and waning of solar output; cosmic rays and their role in cloud formation; the earth moving through plumes of galactic dust as it travels up and down through the arm of the Milky Way; plate tectonics redirecting the ocean currents; vulcanism. Perhaps it is a combination of all of these things. Perhaps it is something as yet undiscovered. One thing for sure that it’s not: SUVs.

Why, then, do otherwise sensible people believe that we are both causing the current warming and that the warmth is a bad thing? To me it seems some grotesque combination of narcissism and self-loathing, a mentality that says at once “I am so important that my behavior is causing this” and “I am so inherently tainted that it must be bad.” For these self-hating humans who want us to cut our carbs (carbons, not carbohydrates), I say relax and enjoy the warmth while it lasts. Because it won’t. No matter what we do, the ice and the cold and the dark will come again. That should be our worry.


More than 100 campaigners arrested over British 'power station plot'

More than 100 people are in custody after police smashed a major plot to sabotage one of Britain's biggest power-stations. Officers swooped on environmental protesters as they prepared a mass raid that could have disrupted supplies to tens of thousands of homes. The demonstrators are thought to have gathered at night in readiness to move on Ratcliffe-on-Soar power-station, Nottinghamshire.

They were rounded up shortly after midnight on Sunday at the Bakersfield Community Centre in Sneinton, Notts, by scores of officers. Detectives later revealed they recovered specialist equipment that suggested the group represented a "serious threat" to the station's safety.

Supt Mike Manley, of the Nottinghamshire force, said 114 men and women from across the UK were detained during the dramatic swoop. They were being questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass and criminal damage at Ratcliffe-on-Soar. Supt Manley said: "In view of specialist equipment recovered by police, those arrested posed a serious threat to the safe running of the site. "This was a significant operation, with large-scale arrests. There were no injuries during the arrests, and the police investigation is ongoing."

Witnesses told how officers in more than 20 police vans descended on the plotters' apparent rendezvous point in the early hours. Tess Rearden, who lives near the scene, said: "We were woken up by the sound of doors slamming and saw all these police vans and riot vans.... One resident told how the protesters did not fight with officers during the swoop but signalled their defiance as they were being led away. She said: "The police jumped out of their vans and ran behind the community centre. The people they brought out were singing: 'We'll be back again.'"

It is thought detectives had prior knowledge of the plot but chose to wait till the demonstrators were together in one place before moving in. Local city councillor David Mellen added: "I understand there was some kind of gathering of people here in connection with the power-station. "If the police had information that there was a danger to the power supply in the East Midlands then obviously they had to take action."

The Derbyshire and Leicestershire forces helped in the operation and later provided additional custody facilities for some of those arrested. Ratcliffe-on-Soar has been the target of a number of protests in the past, including one two years ago in which protesters tried to shut down the plant. Environmentalists who stormed the site on that occasion later failed in a landmark legal bid to prove they were acting in the interests of humanity.

Climate-change campaigners admitted they attempted to force the site's closure by chaining themselves to conveyor belts and filtration systems. But they argued that, because they were saving the planet from global warming, their actions were legal under the so-called "defence of necessity". Had they won their case they would have paved the way for campaigners around the country to stage similar protests without fear of prosecution.

At the time Eastside Climate Action, the group involved, said the break-in reflected "the threat climate change poses to the human population". A spokesman said: "We argue that the threat to human life is so serious that it is a proportionate and reasonable response to take direct action."

Giving evidence at the court hearing, station manager Raymond Smith told how production at the site was threatened during the incident. He said: "People chained themselves to the conveyor system and the filtration system. They were non-violent, but none had permission to be on the site. "If the protest had continued to the extent that the power station ran out of coal we would have had to shut it down. But we called the police."

Eastside denied any involvement in yesterday's events - thought to be linked to plans for a new coal-fired power-station in Kingsthorpe, Kent. E.on, the power giant behind Kingsthorpe, owns Ratcliffe-on-Soar - allegedly Britain's second-largest producer of carbon-dioxide emissions. An E.on spokesman said: "While we understand everyone has a right to protest peacefully and lawfully, this was clearly neither of those things. "We will be assisting police in their investigations into what could have been a very dangerous attempt to disrupt an operational power-plant."


Climate bill could trigger lawsuit landslide

Allows action from those 'expected to suffer'

Self-proclaimed victims of global warming or those who "expect to suffer" from it - from beachfront property owners to asthmatics - for the first time would be able to sue the federal government or private businesses over greenhouse gas emissions under a little-noticed provision slipped into the House climate bill.

Environmentalists say the measure was narrowly crafted to give citizens the unusual standing to sue the U.S. government as a way to force action on curbing emissions. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sees a new cottage industry for lawyers. "You could be spawning lawsuits at almost any place [climate-change modeling] computers place at harm's risk," said Bill Kovacs, energy lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The bill was written by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, and Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat. Both lawmakers declined repeated requests for comment. The Waxman-Markey blueprint, including the lawsuit provision, has just been released, and the Senate is drafting its own energy bill. But Mr. Waxman has set an accelerated schedule for passing the bill through his committee by Memorial Day and President Obama lists an energy overhaul bill as one of his top priorities.

David Doniger, senior counsel with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the measure is similar to a landmark environmental ruling from the Supreme Court allowing states to sue the federal government for damages from climate change - largely on the basis of lost shorelines from rising sea levels - but did not set grounds for people to file lawsuits. "The [Chamber of Commerce] is trying to say the global-warming legislation is scarier than global warming itself," Mr. Doniger said. "It's part of a menu of scare tactics they are compiling."

Under the House bill, if a judge rules against the government, new rules would have to be drafted to alleviate the problems associated with climate change. If a judge rules against a company, the company would have to purchase additional "carbon emission allowances" through a cap-and-trade program that is to be created by Congress.

The measure sets grounds for anyone "who has suffered, or reasonably expects to suffer, a harm attributable, in whole or in part," to government inaction to file a "citizen suit." The term "harm" is broadly defined as "any effect of air pollution (including climate change), currently occurring or at risk of occurring."

It would allow citizens to seek up to $75,000 in damages from the government each year, but would cap the total amount paid out each year at $1.5 million, committee staff said. It is unclear whether the provision would actually cap damages at $75,000 per person, because the U.S. law referenced does not establish payouts by the government. The $1.5 million cap reflects a compromise reached with House Republicans in a 2007 version of the measure introduced by Mr. Waxman, committee staff said. Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey wrote the measure into a broader climate plan introduced last week, although it was left out of a bill summary that committee staff provided at the time.

Republican committee staff said the measure has the potential to muddle the judicial system. "Perhaps a more accurate title of the bill would be 'The Lawyer Full-Employment and As-Seen-on-TV Global Warming Act of 2009,' " said Larry Neal, deputy Republican staff director for the House committee.

Democratic staffers said the measure provides guidance to the courts on how to apply existing Clean Air Act provisions. Private citizens can sue the government based on harm caused by pollutants currently regulated under the Clean Air Act - including nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide - but they lack standing to sue for damages resulting from climate change.

Regulating carbon dioxide has been a hard slog for environmentalists, and some energy analysts say that the Waxman-Markey bill and parallel efforts by the Obama administration constitute a multifaceted attempt to achieve the goal by regulation if legislative attempts fail.

The "citizen suit" would allow people to force government action on climate change, seemingly a redundancy in a bill that would achieve that goal if passed. But environmentalists have been cautious in their tack, arguing that many environmental protections on the books were not vigorously enforced under the Bush administration.

Environmental lawyers played down the significance of the provision. The measure would not guarantee payouts from the government or successful lawsuits, Mr. Doniger said, but would set the bar for people seeking to force the government to act on climate change. He likened the measure to tort laws regarding cigarette smoke or cancer-causing chemicals, in which the harmful effects are not seen for decades. "If this pollution isn't curbed, it isn't just today or tomorrow you have problems, it's also 20 to 30 years from now," Mr. Doniger said.

Expansion of the Clean Air Act to allow "citizen suits" on climate change has been a goal among environmental groups and moderate to liberal Democrats for many years - although the measure has never succeeded. But amending the Clean Air Act is "potentially a big gamble" because it opens other sections of the act to modification during the bill-drafting process, said a Democratic energy lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ties to committee members.


India Rejects Calls For Emission Cuts

Officials Say Growth Will Be Compromised

Days after the Obama administration unveiled a push to combat climate change, Indian officials said it was unlikely to prompt them to agree to binding emission cuts, a position among emerging economies that many say derails effective action. "If the question is whether India will take on binding emission reduction commitments, the answer is no. It is morally wrong for us to agree to reduce when 40 percent of Indians do not have access to electricity," said a member of the Indian delegation to the recently concluded U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany, which is a prelude to a Copenhagen summit in December on climate change. "Of course, everybody wants to go solar, but costs are very, very high."

India's position goes to the heart of the vexing international debate over how quickly nations should try to phase out carbon-spewing fuels such as coal and switch to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. In India, the debate has been cast as a choice between pursuing urgently needed economic growth to reduce poverty and addressing climate change.

More than 60 percent of India's power is generated from coal. As India rapidly climbs the list of global polluters, analysts say coal will continue to fuel the economic demands of the country's 1.1 billion people for two decades. But India has repeatedly said that it will not compromise on growth by committing to emission reduction goals set by developed nations, which it deems bigger culprits when it comes to pollution.

President Obama's promise of a leading U.S. role in combating climate change is a clear departure from the stance of his predecessor, George W. Bush. A climate bill recently introduced by Democrats in the House calls for a 20 percent cut in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, along with a substantial increase in renewable-energy use. "I am reasonably optimistic. But it is not entirely upon President Obama. He has to carry the Congress and the Senate with him," said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He added that India is "very unlikely" to change its official position.

In a policy document released in January, India calls for industrialized countries to commit to significant emission reduction targets while aiding sustainable development in developing nations with funds and technology. "But it was informally made very clear to us by the developed countries that there will be no money available for developing countries because of the global economic slump," said the Indian delegate to the Bonn meeting. About 2.5 percent of India's gross domestic product is spent on measures to address climate change, including introduction of cleaner technologies, energy-efficient consumer products and renewable energy.

Indian officials say it is unfair to group their country with the major emitters because, per capita, India's emissions are a tenth of those in the United States. Last week, India's special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran, told reporters in Bonn that he opposed any attempt by the European Union and the United States to impose "carbon tariffs" on exports of Indian goods produced in energy-intensive industries such as steel, aluminum, cement and fertilizer.

Another issue raised was the controversial carbon capture and storage technology, or CCS. The expensive, unproven and environmentally contentious technique is intended to help combat climate change by injecting carbon dioxide emissions into deep underground reservoirs. The United States recently committed money to the technology in its economic stimulus package, and more funding may be proposed in the climate bill expected to be debated later this year. In January, India joined a handful of nations gingerly experimenting with CCS.

Scientists at India's National Geophysical Research Institute released preliminary findings from ongoing government-funded research that seeks to inject carbon dioxide into the basalt rock formation called the Deccan Traps, which is about 60 million years old. S. Nirmal Charan, a senior scientist at the institute, said researchers wanted to determine whether carbon dioxide can be trapped for tens of thousands of years within the basalt. He said more simulated laboratory tests are underway, but initial results show the process to be "environmentally benign."

Critics say it is a gimmick that allows carbon-spewing industries to carry on with business as usual. "The idea of CCS allows our addiction to coal to remain. It ensures that we keep burning coal," said Chandra Bhushan, associate director of the Center for Science and Environment. "Who will monitor whether there are carbon dioxide leaks from underground storage?"

Norway and Canada have begun implementing various carbon-storage initiatives. Last week, Germany approved a draft law to develop the technology, and China has identified two sites for storage. India has not formally committed to conducting CCS field experiments. But an official in the Power Ministry said it has the "potential to be an extremely important technology." "But we are unsure about how it will work," the official said. "Let the world first demonstrate. We will learn from them."


Australian energy industry warns of blackouts

CONSUMERS face possible blackouts and power stations could go broke unless the Rudd Government offers an extra $6billion worth of free permits under its planned emissions trading scheme, the energy sector has warned.

If the extra assistance is not forthcoming, the sector, responsible for about 70 per cent of Australia's carbon emissions, will ask the Government for a Rudd Bank-style financing facility to help raise the capital.

A survey by the Energy Supply Association of Australia has found the sector will need to find $100 billion over the next five years for refinancing, essential upgrades and new investments in low-emission generation to comply with the emissions trading scheme and new renewable energy targets.

The industry says it is facing a "perfect storm" of a credit squeeze caused by the financial crisis and the Rudd Government's bank guarantee, inadequate compensation under the carbon pollution reduction scheme, and a decision by the Australian Energy Regulator that could reduce the profitability of energy network providers.

The Government has offered the electricity industry $3.9billion in free pollution permits to compensate for the "most probable and most extreme" writedowns in power station asset values because of the carbon pollution reduction scheme - an acknowledgement that the scheme will cause upheaval in the sector as it shuts down some high-polluting power plants early and invests in new low-polluting generation.

The ESAA said this amount must be increased to at least $10billion, to be delivered over the first five years of the scheme.

"If the Government does not increase the level of compensation, we will have no choice but to go to them asking for another finance facility for our sector," association chief executive Clare Savage said.

"What is at stake here is the future of the energy market. If nothing is done, power stations are likely to be bankrupted, and if they closed, then there would be problems with electricity supply, or more likely governments would have to step in to take them over, and that would unravel the last 10 years' hard work to set up a national electricity market."

An ESAA survey found the energy sector would need to find $50billion for refinancing over the next five years, $6.3 billion for planned spending on existing assets, $12 billion for new lower-emission generation and $31billion for investments in the electricity networks.

The sector needs to fight for access to that capital in a market where banks and state governments have received federal government guarantees and where the carbon pollution reduction scheme means asset values are being written down.

The $40 billion energy distribution industry is facing a large reduction in its returns if the Australian Energy Regulator confirms a recent draft decision at the same time as it is being asked to fund billions of dollars in new network investments as the industry shifts to new types of generation.

According to the Energy Networks Association, the draft decision would reduce returns to the industry by more than 10 per cent.

"When you combine the effects of these decisions with the debt guarantees being offered to other sectors, it is tantamount to tying one hand behind the industry's back while it fights for capital in the midst of a global financial crisis," Ms Savage said.

"To help ensure these assets remain in service to support the transition to lower-emission technologies and give new investors in the energy supply sector confidence that when the Government institutes major policy change that has the potential to strand long-lived infrastructure assets, the value of these assets must be adequately recognised."

The Government says the revenue it will raise from auctioning permits under the carbon pollution reduction scheme is already fully allocated in compensation to industry and households, meaning any increase in compensation to one sector would require taking something away from another.



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