A BOOK REVIEW of "Climate Change Reconsidered" by By Craig Idso and S. Fred Singer (Heartland Institute, 2009)
Have you ever wondered where you can find the most authoritative, comprehensive summary of global warming and the science of climate change? Scientists Craig Idso and S. Fred Singer have ended your search by producing Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).
provides more than 800 pages of in-depth scientific discussion on just about every global warming-related topic imaginable. With literally hundreds of citations to peer-reviewed scientific literature, Idso and Singer document and explain how the best, most up-to-date science refutes the assertion that humans are creating a global warming crisis.
In Chapter One, Idso and Singer demonstrate how computer models have spectacularly failed to reproduce current climate conditions. The authors explain the multitude of factors—many of which are very poorly understood—that can significantly influence current and future climate. Climate modelers, whose jobs and funding are directly dependent on the existence of a perceived global warming crisis, invariably determine that each of these poorly understood factors will lead to more rather than less warming in the future, such that climate models are predisposed to predict more warming than is reasonably likely to occur. Chapter One provides extensive scientific documentation of the warming bias of these flawed computer models.
Subsequent chapters discuss climate feedback factors, historical temperature records, glaciers, polar ice, precipitation, sea level, solar variability, extreme weather events, global warming’s impact on the biosphere, and human health implications of global warming. The highlights are summarized in an eight-page, easy-to-read executive summary.
One of the greatest benefits of owning this book is having on-demand access to a comprehensive assessment of just about any alleged global warming scare imaginable. For example, the next time an evening news story sends your spouse into conniptions regarding the plight of polar bears, you can quickly thumb to Section 8.4 of Climate Change Reconsidered and reassuringly note that polar sea ice is showing little or no sign of shrinkage due to human activity, polar bears survived extended periods of much warmer temperatures than today, most polar bear populations are growing rather than shrinking, and predictions of future population decline are dependent on heavily flawed computer models.
Idso and Singer provide citations to more than 100 scientific studies supporting the conclusion that human emissions of carbon dioxide are not threatening polar bear populations. Supporting the science presented by Idso and Singer, an additional 35 scientists from more than a dozen countries participated as contributors and reviewers of Climate Change Reconsidered.
The book also describes the Petition Project, in which more than 31,000 scientists have signed a petition stating there is no convincing scientific evidence that human emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases are causing a global warming crisis. Climate Change Reconsidered provides the names of all 31,478 scientists, as well as a concise, 12-page summary of the science that accompanies the petition.
Regardless of where you stand in the ongoing global warming debate, Climate Change Reconsidered is an indispensable resource, providing the most authoritative science on every aspect of the issue. For those who are skeptical toward over-the-top global warming claims, Climate Change Reconsidered provides the scientific studies and data that support the realist point of view.
For those who believe humans are causing a global warming crisis, such a position is untenable unless they are aware of, and capable of rebutting, the enormous weight of scientific data and studies presented in this book.
Global warming policies are the real national security threat
Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) is trying to win Senate support for the ruinously expensive cap-and-tax global-warming bill, claiming it will prevent threats to national security, according to the New York Times. He argues that global warming will destabilize the developing world, creating climate refugees and exacerbating conflict. The American military will need to respond to these problems through either humanitarian-relief missions or armed intervention. This argument is flawed for two reasons. First, there is no reason to believe the bill being debated will stop any of this. Second, there is every possibility that the bill might make things worse.
If global warming is as bad as Senator Kerry fears, this bill will do nothing to avert its effects. Most honest proponents of the bill admit that it will do nothing to reduce global temperatures. At most, according to climatologist Chip Knappenberger, the bill will reduce warming by about nine-hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit by 2050, a difference too small to be measured.
Could anything avert those supposed effects? Yes — much more stringent climate policies, which would have adverse effects of their own. The national-security establishment uses “futurist” scenarios to establish possible national-security risks. In that spirit, it should also look at scenarios in which more stringent policies are implemented. Consider the following such scenario.
Developed countries enact strong restraints on emissions, along with high taxes on gasoline and coal energy. The coal, oil and automobile industries collapse. In America, the Gulf Coast states suffer particularly badly. Old automobiles are crushed. The second-hand car market also collapses. Poor people cannot find affordable vehicles. Poor rural families cannot get to work. They and the populations of former oil and coal producing areas move to cities where there is transportation but there are fewer and fewer jobs, leading to widespread urban discontent. Illegal immigration increases as employers bring in thousands of workers whom they house in barracks near their farms and factories. The car once again becomes a symbol of the rich. Is this a recipe for domestic tranquility?
Europe could also be destabilized by carbon restrictions. European politicians call for a de facto reduction of household income so that people will be less tempted to buy frivolous things. Car ownership reaches the level of social stigma. The European Union increases trade barriers on goods from long distances to pay for the external costs of their shipping, with leads to soaring costs. Inflation becomes a serious problem, but politicians defend it as an indicator of social good. Populist politicians rail against immigrant populations, denouncing them as environmental criminals for leaving their home countries. “Economic migrant” becomes a new insult.
Yet, even worse can be imagined. The developed countries set up a World Carbon Organization, which would impose severe economic sanctions on any country that did not enact carbon restrictions. China and India call the organization’s bluff and continue to build coal-fired carbon plants to fuel what is rapidly becoming the world’s economic base. The WCO tries to blockade Chinese exports. Western militaries, however, have been depleted by their own governments’ carbon constraints, and prove inadequate to the job of blockading. A potential “trigger” for a disaster scenario is easy to imagine: A frustrated French captain accidentally sinks a Chinese vessel carrying MP3 players to Australia. What happens then?
This is the sort of scenario the Pentagon should be examining. If global warming can destabilize the globe, so can global-warming policies. That is one reason the world has not reached an international agreement on reducing emissions that binds everyone to reductions, and why we never shall with current technology.
Senator Kerry says that he wants a world free from the dangers of global warming. But the cap-and-tax bill he is promoting is more likely to give us a world with the dangers of global warming and the dangers of protectionist nationalism. That is a bad deal for the security of America — and the world.
P.S. My colleague Marlo Lewis examined the various supposed threats to national security in very great detail for the a hearing held by House Intelligence Committee. You can read his excellent testimony here. You can also see his documentary, Policy Peril, at CEI On Demand.
Carbon capture delusions
Don’t worry about the risks of earthquakes or suffocation or water contamination. Carbon capture is good, really
If you live in or near a community that manufactures chemicals or cement, or that has a refinery or a coal or natural gas electricity generating station, or that has abandoned mines or other suitable geological formations, you may soon be asked to save the planet from global warming by hosting an underground carbon dioxide storage facility.
You and your neighbours will be told not to worry about carbon dioxide poisoning your water supplies. Yes, ruptures or large leaks of the gas could not only make the water undrinkable for you but also kill vegetation and aquatic life, the authorities will acknowledge, but inventors are working on new, improved technology that will prevent underground pipes and other infrastructure from leaking.
You and your neighbours will also be told not to worry about mass asphyxiation in your sleep in the event of an unexpected release of carbon dioxide, a gas that’s heavier than air — to their knowledge, that only happened to humans once before, in rural Africa when a release of naturally stored carbon dioxide from Lake Nyos in Cameroon enshrouded and suffocated 1,700 people. The authorities in Canada promise to take this risk seriously and double-promise to design state-of-the-art carbon dioxide storage plants that won’t fail fed by pipelines that won’t blow out. Plus, they’ll install monitors in case plants fail or pipelines blow out.
Finally, you and your neighbours will be told not to worry about the possibility that your community will become susceptible to earthquakes. Yes, the authorities will admit when pressed, these carbon-storage facilities are expected to become one of the top five triggers of earthquakes — induced seismicity, it’s called — but hey, somebody’s got to save the planet and the authorities have selected you.
In turn, you and your neighbours, having received all these assurances from the authorities — and having confirmed that the government plans to exempt the carbon-storage industry from liability in the event of an accident — will rise up in opposition and try to run the authorities out of town.
I am guessing, of course, at what you and your neighbours will ultimately decide to do — maybe your community can be bribed into acquiescence. But I am not guessing that our federal and provincial governments have a crash program underway to make Canada an early leader in the carbon-storage industry.
Last month, the Alberta government, which has already committed $2-billion to carbon-storage schemes, announced the province’s first host communities as if it had selected lottery winners. “Alberta announces three winning projects for carbon-capture funding,” reported the Calgary Herald. “[They] will each receive a portion of $2-billion in carbon capture and storage funding, if final negotiations between the province and companies are successful.”
The neighbours to the winners — Edmonton-area ventures involving Shell Canada, Chevron Canada and Epcor, among others — may feel more like guinea pigs after the public consultations begin, and concerns get aired. The government expects the storage facilities to be up and running by 2015, meaning that the pressure will soon be on to ram these projects through. Look for environmental groups to be enlisted as government persuaders — the Alberta-based Pembina Institute has already recommended that environmental groups take on this enabling role. And look for the environmental groups to be held in the same regard as the governments and companies they are working with.
Last September, a carbon-storage demonstration scheme in northern Germany — Vattenfall’s Schwarze Pumpe project in Spremberg — opened to wide acclaim. The $110-million facility was touted as the first to trap carbon dioxide at a coal plant before transporting it for burial. Last week it came out that the burial never happened. Because of local opposition, the town had refused to give Vattenfall a permit for burial. Rather than storing the gas underground, Vattenfall revealed during a conference, it has been quietly (and safely) venting the carbon dioxide straight into the atmosphere all along. Similarly, local opposition foiled Shell’s plans to store carbon dioxide in depleted gas fields under the Dutch town of Barendrecht, near Rotterdam, in March. After sitting through a public consultation, and receiving assurances from Shell that the technology is proven to be safe, 1,300 residents lodged their protests.
The Numby phenomenon — Not Under My Back Yard — is not limited to opposition by local residents: industries with a stake in safe water are also alarmed. The American Water Works Association, a trade group representing 4,700 water utilities that produce 80% of America’s drinking water, has added the carbon-storage industry to coal and the other resource industries that threaten its interests and those of its customers.
“Our biggest concern is the prevention of degradation of underground sources of drinking water” by interfering with the complex chemistry of water in underground settings, the association told Congress in detailed testimony last year, citing the numerous ways that carbon dioxide burial threatens aquifers with profound contamination, and noting that many communities don’t have alternative sources of affordable drinking water.
The association also noted that carbon-storage technology is unproven and may not even succeed in its primary goal, of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Why risk a nation’s water supplies without the evidence being in, it asked Congress. Why indeed.
Debunking 'climate change myths'
Speakers challenge global warming during Springfield, Missouri event
Those convinced that the earth is warming -- and that such warming is going to trigger catastrophic disasters -- have jumped on to the latest eco-scare that just isn't backed by science, said Marc Morano who runs a Web site called Climate Depot. Morano was among the speakers Thursday at a one-day conference called "Debunking Climate Change Myths" in Springfield. About 150 attended the conference, presented by a group called "Scientists for Truth." Attendees included high school students, local politicians and others.
On ClimateDepot.com, Morano links to news stories about climate change, as well as providing his own thoughts on the issue. In his speech, he said those who believe in global warming and its dangers also post messages -- noting the different sides of the debate may not get along. "But at least they are fighting, they are engaging each other," he said.
While other speakers at the event presented scientific critiques, Morano offered quotes he's collected from various news sources, politicians and scientists. In 1975, for instance, Newsweek Magazine sounded alarms over climactic change. But the difference was writers were warning of an impending ice age, he said.
In the 1980s and the 90s, the popular eco-cause became saving the Amazon Rainforests, a topic Morano made a documentary about in 2000. But, Morano pointed out that even the New York Times reported that for every acre of rain forest being cut, 50 are growing back.
Until March, Morano worked for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works committee, where he wrote a dissenting report that 700 scientists signed. He said more scientists and others who previously supported a belief in catastrophic climate change are looking at data and challenging conventional wisdom.
However, he expressed amazement that more aren't challenging statements made from supporters like Nobel Prize winning economist Thomas Schelling. According to Morano, Schelling was quoted in The Atlantic as wishing for natural disasters: "I sometimes wish we could have over the next five or 10 years a lot of horrid things happening, you know, like tornados in the Mid west and so forth. That would get people concerned about climate change." Morano called characterized such statement as insane. "A man who can't convince people on the science because the science isn't there, so he's now wishing for death, destruction on people through tornados," he said.
Morano predicted that the next "eco-fears" will include a so-called oxygen crisis -- a crisis caused by a shrinking supply of oxygen on earth -- and a crisis of plastic waste. Laure David, producer of Al Gore's film on global warming, has been trying to draw attention to the issue of plastic waste, calling it "in some ways more alarming" for humans than global warming, Morano said.
The conference was organized by Ron Boyer, who runs a consulting firm. He also sits on the Missouri Air Conservation Commission -- though the conference was not connected to the commission. Boyer said he wanted to hold the conference because he was tired of hearing that the debate on climate change is over. "That's not how science works. Science continues to examine," said Boyer, who has an undergraduate degree in chemistry. Boyer said future conferences will depend on whether or not the Senate passes the Cap and Trade legislation. "If they do pass it, the debate is over because it will be a done deal," said Boyer. But, he said, if it doesn't pass this year there will be a chance to continue debating the science another year.
John Lilly, a medical doctor and Willard school board member, said he attended the conference because he wanted to support the scientists who are trying to debunk global warming. "Those who support global warming do it for political reasons rather than actual scientific reasons," he said.
It's Fish Versus Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley
Crops rot and people stand in line for food while the EPA engineers a drought
In 1931, a severe drought began that within a few years engulfed the Oklahoma panhandle and a third of the Great Plains in a "Dust Bowl." Tens of thousands of people fled the region—many traveling to California along Route 66, which John Steinbeck called "the mother road, the road of flight" in "The Grapes of Wrath."
A lot of the "Okies" settled in the San Joaquin Valley. In the decades that followed, state and federal officials built dams and other irrigation projects that helped turn the valley into some of the world's richest farmland.
But today the San Joaquin Valley is being transformed into a dust bowl. Hundreds of thousands of acres are fallow, while almond and plum trees are being left to die in the scorching sun. Tens of thousands of people have been tossed out of work—the town of Mendota alone has an unemployment rate of about 40%—and the lines for food donations stretch down streets. The reason? There isn't enough water to go around this year, and the Obama administration is drawing up new reasons to divert more of it from farms and people and into the San Francisco Bay.
The valley has traditionally been a place where someone with few belongings, little education and even no ability to speak English could prosper by picking grapes, milking cows, or hoeing cotton fields. The hearty people who came here were Portuguese, Mexican, Armenian, Italian, Basque and Dutch, along with westward-traveling Americans and Okies. More recent arrivals are from El Salvador, Vietnam and India. I am the product of a Portuguese family that came decades ago.
California has the largest water storage and transportation system in the world. With 1,200 miles of canals and nearly 50 reservoirs, the system captures enough water to irrigate about four million acres and provide water to 23 million people. In many cases, as with the San Joaquin Valley, water in this system is sold to communities by the federal government.
Some claim that California is facing a three-year-old drought. But, according to the state's Department of Water Resources, California reservoirs have received 80% of their normal amount of water and precipitation in the northern Sierras has been 95% of its yearly average this year. So why isn't there more water for farms? Because theirs is a regulatory-mandated drought. The 1973 Endangered Species Act requires that the government take steps to save endangered species. In California, that's meant diverting vast sums of water into rivers and streams to protect fish. Those diversions this year have forced federal authorities to decide who to serve—fish or farmers.
On Dec. 15, 2008, the Bush administration's Fish and Wildlife Service chose fish, a decision driven by a lawsuit filed in federal court in 2006 by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups. To settle the suit, the Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to divert more than 150 billion gallons of water this year away from farmers south of San Francisco in hopes of protecting the Delta smelt—a three-inch bait fish. The water is now flowing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and out into the Pacific Ocean.
Of course, the Delta smelt isn't a particularly attractive species to protect when it means throwing Americans out of work. On June 4, the National Marine Fisheries Service declared that delivering water to farms in the San Joaquin Valley would harm killer whales in the Pacific. And to save the whales, the Obama administration is now demanding even greater water restrictions beyond what has been diverted for the smelt.
There are 130 animal species in California on the federal endangered list, including five salmon species, five steelhead species, four trout species and the North American green sturgeon. To date, not a single fish within the California water system has been removed from the Endangered Species List over the past 35 years. Despite massive amounts of water diverted to help them, the "protected" smelt, sturgeon and salmon populations have continued to decline. It is hardly unreasonable to ask why farmers should continue to suffer if diverting water hasn't even helped the fish.
Congress has the power to solve this crisis. In 2003, a fish-versus-families debate erupted in New Mexico after water deliveries to Albuquerque from the Rio Grande River were cut off to protect habitat for the silvery minnow—another three-inch bait fish. Congress temporarily suspended portions of the Endangered Species Act and guaranteed that water would be provided to Albuquerque. The situation in California is virtually identical and repeating what was done in New Mexico would do wonders for San Joaquin Valley farmers.
It would also accomplish more than what the administration currently has in mind. Next month Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is planning to hold a hearing on the situation in California, following up on a visit he made to the valley in June.
A spokesman for the Interior Department recently declared that San Joaquin Valley's water problems are a top priority for the Obama administration and that the river that flows through the valley and eventually to the ocean to form the San Joaquin Delta is as precious a natural resource as Florida's Everglades. What is precious and what President Barack Obama should come to see for himself are the 40,000 people in the valley who are desperate for water so they can get back to work.
If it doesn't start flowing any time soon, perhaps he can tell them where they should go. Back to Oklahoma?
The humble light bulb: a victim of political stupidity green zealotry and economic ignorance
Every journalist in the land seems to be going ga-ga over the new "energy saver globe". This is the eco-friendly alternative to the devilish and grossly inefficient incandescent bulb. We are being incessantly told by our media mavens that the new alternative is cheaper in the long term than the old light bulb and that it will save just oodles and oodles of energy and that it would be irrational not to buy it.
The funny thing is that Joe Public has to be mandated by arrogant politicians into buying the next best thing to sliced bread. Why is this so? Because in the eyes of his intellectual and moral superiors in the media and politics he is just too dumb to know a good thing when he sees it. Therefore his betters must intervene to save him from his ignorance short-sightedness.
Irrespective of what smart-aleck journalists and pompous politicians think Joe Public is being perfectly rational in choosing the incandescent bulb over the new wonder light, despite the fact that calculations showing the technical superiority of the new product are correct. The principal problem is that politicians and journalists are economic illiterates. If it were otherwise they would never have confused technical efficiency with economic efficiency.
If technical efficiency was the sole determinant then consistency would demand that these advocates should also promote silver, gold and platinum as alternatives to copper wiring because they are superior conductors. But, as they would argue, these metals are too expensive for the job and that's why we need copper.
The same goes for solar panels. If these were 100 per cent efficient they would still be grossly inefficient economically because they involve massive diseconomies of scale where as centralised power generation gives us economies of scale. When it is realised that what really matters is economic efficiency the case for mandating fluorescent lighting and other alternatives falls to the ground.
Philips' figures show that the running costs of a $6 11 watt energy globe (the equivalent of a 60 watt incandescent globe) over a three year period would be $6.60 while the $1.0 alternative would cost 36 dollars for the same period. A "slam dunk deal", as Americans say. Only it ain't. Let us return to our hapless consumer, the one who is too stupid to know how he should spend his money.
In a free market he would have the choice of both products and he would choose on the basis of which one gave him the greatest satisfaction. In this case let us make it the destructive incandescent bulb. Running this light for one year will cost him $12 while the other one will cost $2.20. What is being overlooked, however, that he is not calculating costs in this mechanical way. He is comparing $1.0 for the incandescent bulb with the $6 for the so-called eco-friendly alternative.
By spending $1 he finds himself with $5 to spend on other goods. What we have here is an example of opportunity cost. It is very clear, therefore, that he values the additional goods more than he values the 'eco-friendly' light. But what about future savings? This question brings us to time preference, the preference for present goods over future goods. In other words, we value present goods more highly than those in the future.
If one were to ask these journalists if they would prefer to have a $100 today or $100 in a year's time, they would choose to have $100 today. By making this choice they reveal that they value $100 today more highly than $100 in the future. This means that these sums of money are being correctly treated as two different goods, with time making the difference. (Incidentally, this is why we have interest). If they were being treated as identical goods it would then be a matter of complete indifference to our journalists whether they chose $100 today or vice versa. The same goes for buying lights or any other goods.
Future cost savings are just that — in the future. If the consumer chooses the incandescent light then he is clearly stating that the cost of the alternative exceeds the value of its future benefits. In general, the lower the consumer's income the higher his time preference is likely to be. From this we conclude that mandating these lamps reduces the welfare of the less well off, as does the absurd tax on plastic bags. (Plastic bags v. greenie bigotry). However, this fact didn't faze [Australian politician] Malcolm Turnbull, one of the economic illiterates responsible for the policy of banning incandescent light bulbs.
This leaves our activists with the externality argument. According to them the humble light bulb is a case of market failure that is 'polluting' the environment and as this cost is not built into their price they must phased out in favour of an alternative that produces very little in the way of externalities. Two free market economists nailed this argument when they pointed out:
Taxes do not result from a market process, nor do they reflect allocation decisions of resource owners . . . In other words, taxation is a method of intervening, not an alternative to intervention or nonmarket allocation. (O'Driscoll and Rizzo, cited in Efficiency and Externalities in an Open-Ended Universe, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2007, p. 13).
(For those who might be a little confused on this point, there is no fundamental difference between mandating incandescent bulbs out of the market or putting a prohibitive tax on them. As for pollution, Co2 is a nutrient and not a pollutant. Moreover, thousands of scientists are now challenging the phony science of man-made global warming. In addition, there has been no global warming for ten years. These scientists know that the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is a mere 0.38 per cent while the Martian atmosphere is 95 per cent carbon dioxide. These are facts that you will not find in our scaremongering rags)
We must now examine the greens' hypocrisy. Back in the late '60s or early '70s green fanatics whipped up hysteria about traces of mercury being found in tuna and how it would poison us. Research later found that the amount of mercury found in tuna was perfectly normal and had nothing to do with industry. I raised this case because mercury is a necessary component of the greens' new wonder lamp. So the same fanatics who railed against traces of mercury in tuna are perfectly happy to bully us into installing mercury-laden lamps in every room in the house. (This raises the question of who should be sued if someone is harmed by mercury from one of these 'eco-saving' lamps).
If I break a an ordinary bulb I merely have to sweep up the bits and put them into a bin. Not so with 'green lights'. When they break they need to be disposed of in a responsible manner. Philips, one of the companies manufacturing these lights, states:
All mercury-containing products must be disposed of responsibly. As more of us adopt CFLs to help save energy and contribute to a better environment, it becomes more important that our community has a recycling programme for mercury and other environmentally unsafe materials. (Make the switch to energy efficient lighting).
Will the policy of phasing out the incandescent raise the demand for electricity?
Minimising energy in an effort to lower production costs is self-evidently good business practice — but it also has the ironic effect of raising the demand for electricity. This is because reducing the use of electrical energy per unit of output in production processes is similar to reducing its price. What matters is not the ratio of energy to output but the ratio of the value of the output to the value of the inputs, of which the energy source is one. Therefore it does not matter for demand whether the fall in the cost of energy as an input is caused by a reduction in price or by an innovation, the result is the same. Economic history has numbers of examples of this process and only economic rationalism (market economics journalists) can explain it.
The steam engine is an excellent example of this process. Before Watt's innovations the steam engine was horrendously wasteful. The introduction of Watt's separate condenser alone improved 'energy conservation' by a factor of four. This not only increased the demand for coal but also for more steam engines which in turn led to more innovations which in turn.... This very early example of 'energy conservation' was brought about by market forces, not meddling politicians or ignorant 'journalists', and its reverberations were quickly felt throughout the economy by stimulating economic growth and raising the demand for labour.
Those who may think that the steam engine is only isolated example should look at the findings by Herbert Inhaber and Harry Saunders in a 1994 study, Road to Nowhere; Energy Conservation Often Backfires published by the New York Academy of sciences. The authors gave historical examples to support their case that as the amount of energy per unit of output falls the demand for electricity RISES.
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