Saturday, October 31, 2009

The luck of the Irish

A fun email from a reader below:

I was trying to figure out how much carbon was produced in the manufacture and installation of a wind turbine compared to how much it actually saves over its lifetime. Being mathematically illiterate I had no hope of actually doing this but it was an interesting project and during my searches I came across THIS.

Apparently peat bogs can store "three times as much carbon as is held in tropical rainforests". So naturally, in Ireland they dug one up to build a wind farm. As you do. After causing a huge landslide, polluting the river, killing more than 50000 fish, and annoying the locals the Irish Government is now being prosecuted in the EU Court of Justice.

Great Pumpkin soon upon us

The Senate is losing its grip on unreality, so it may be up to whoever can teach manners to cows and pigs to save us from the consequences of global warming. (We're supposed to call it "climate change" now, but some of us, being strict constructionists, remain faithful to the original text as set down by the founding father, Al Gore.)

Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, a leading Democrat, says he now has "serious reservations" about Sen. Barbara Boxer's global-warming bill, and if he deserts Babs and her coterie of climate hysterics there may be no global-warming legislation this year. This would probably suit most senators, even those who would have to vote for it.

Babs and her like-minded Senate colleagues want to get the legislation passed quickly, just like the health care "reform" legislation, and for the same reason. The longer the wait, the more it smells. A lot of legislation, like mackerel and other fishes, must be consumed quickly, or else not at all. Babs, Al and their congressional friends and colleagues must hurry, before the multitudes notice that the sky is still safely overhead.

Certain kooks insist that we don't have much time before everything goes poof, anyway. The year 2012 is often cited as the year the cosmic screen will go dark, perhaps when the Hadron Collider will either swallow our globe whole, like a python breakfasting on the family dog, or reduce the globe to the size of a tennis ball. "Imagine seven billion of us trying to stand on a tennis ball," observes Rod Liddle in the London Spectator. "You just hope personal hygiene standards won't be sacrificed."

But even being swallowed whole in a nanosecond would be less painful than being parboiled over time, as Al Gore predicts. Better swallowed than sauteed. This could be Al's most persuasive argument if he could only think to make it.

Even short of parboiling, bad times lie ahead. Lord Stern of Brentford, identified by the London Times as "a leading authority on global warming," says we must all consider becoming vegetarians to conquer global warming, or earthly cooling, or climate change, or whatever the season's fashionable terminology may be. "Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases," he says in an interview. "It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better."

Direct "emissions" of methane from cows and pigs is a significant source of greenhouse gases, and methane, Lord Stern says, is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas. Anyone stranded in a crowded elevator on a Friday afternoon, the day Navy bean soup is the special in the cafeteria, would offer no argument to Lord Stern's stern warning.

Teaching cows and pigs to show consideration for their fellow creatures would be only a very long-term solution, perhaps beyond even the persuasive powers of Al, Babs, Barack Obama, John Kerry and others peddling the frantic alarums that somebody has to do something about the weather, even if it bankrupts the nations of the world. Lord Stern concedes that "a successful deal" at the forthcoming Copenhagen conference on global warming, where the United States and the developed nations of the world are expected to answer the altar call to repent and reform, would lead to soaring prices of meat.

Lord Stern, once the chief economist at the World Bank and now a professor at the London School of Economics, predicts that a juicy cheeseburger or a ham sandwich -- not to speak of a tenderloin of beef, medium rare -- will one day be as unfashionable as driving drunk. "People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food." Lord Stern says he is not a vegetarian himself, of course. It is not important to do as he does, but to do as he says do.

Rude as burping sheep, windy cows and flatulent pigs may be, as they go about doing what comes naturally in the rustic innocence of the barnyard, vegetables are sources of bucolic villainy, too. The glorious tomato, the senior partner of bacon and (iceberg) lettuce in that best of all sandwiches, is a source of greenhouse gas, too. So, alas, are many other fruits and vegetables. Beer and booze may have to go, too, since hops and malt generate nearly 2 percent of greenhouse gases in certain countries.

Unless the Hadron Collider can finally get cranked up in time to send us into the safe embrace of an enormous black hole, we may soon be freezing (or parboiling) in the dark, supping on thin pumpkin gruel with Babs and Al. All is woe.


The ghosts of global warming

By John Humphreys

In just over a month, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen to work out a plan of action to tackle climate change. But something spooky is happening in America that may get in the way of an agreement. According to the latest Pew poll on climate change, only 36% of Americans agree that the Earth is warming and that humans are responsible. By comparison, a Gallup poll has found that 37% of Americans believe that houses can be haunted.

At first the two issues don’t seem linked – but there are some similarities between global warming and ghost stories. Both are supposed to be dangerous. Both are hard to see. Both are used to frighten children and simple-minded people. Stephen King has made a fortune writing about haunted houses while Al Gore has made a fortune talking about global warming.

But there is a very important difference. Belief in ghosts is silly but harmless. There is no Copenhagen ghost conference, with more than 15,000 officials discussing ways to introduce a ghost trading system and arranging multi-trillion dollar compensation for ghost victims.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that higher concentrations of greenhouse gases are going to warm up the world. Temperatures haven’t changed much in recent years, but many climate watchers expect the upward trend to continue eventually.

When that happens, there will be costs and benefits. William Nordhaus and Joseph Boyer estimated that 2.5 degrees of warming may cost America 0.5% of GDP. Richard Toll has a higher estimate of 1.5% of GDP, while Robert Mendelsohn and James Newmann predict a net benefit from warming of 0.1% of GDP, primarily due to benefits to agriculture. So climate change is a potential threat. But the bigger threat comes from what politicians are going to do to ‘save’ us.

The movies tell us that if a meteor is going to hit Earth, all we need to do is shoot Hollywood actors at the inbound rock while we listen to emotional music. In the same vein, when the Earth is threatened with climate change, all we need to do is to send our politicians to a conference and have them agree to global treaties.

But the Copenhagen conference is almost guaranteed to fail. The developing world is not going to agree to give up cheap energy, and the developed countries are going to find ways to look busy while not doing too much. The Copenhagen agreement will be as useful as the Kyoto Protocol.

Unfortunately, while a global treaty may not achieve much, it will still be costly. If an emissions trading system (ETS) wasn’t bad enough, we’re also facing suggestions of massive compensation payments and even a global tax. Belief in ghosts is much less costly.

The above is part of a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated October 30. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590. Telephone ph: +61 2 9438 4377 or fax: +61 2 9439 7310

Exaggerated claims undermine drive to cut emissions, scientists warn

Al Gore exaggerates?? Who knew? A big backdown from some prominent Warmists below. They are not climate atheists yet, though: More like climate Anglicans. They think there is a big Daddy somewhere but are not quite sure where

Exaggerated and inaccurate claims about the threat from global warming risk undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and contain climate change, senior scientists have told The Times. Environmental lobbyists, politicians, researchers and journalists who distort climate science to support an agenda erode public understanding and play into the hands of sceptics, according to experts including a former government chief scientist.

Excessive statements about the decline of Arctic sea ice, severe weather events and the probability of extreme warming in the next century detract from the credibility of robust findings about climate change, they said. Such claims can easily be rebutted by critics of global warming science to cast doubt on the whole field. They also confuse the public about what has been established as fact, and what is conjecture.

The experts all believe that global warming is a real phenomenon with serious consequences, and that action to curb emissions is urgently needed. They fear, however, that the contribution of natural climate variations towards events such as storms, melting ice and heatwaves is too often overlooked, and that possible scenarios about future warming are misleadingly presented as fact. “I worry a lot that NGOs [non-governmental organisations] are very much in the habit of doing exactly that,” said Professor Sir David King, director of the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, and a former government chief scientific adviser.

“When people overstate happenings that aren’t necessarily climate change-related, or set up as almost certainties things that are difficult to establish scientifically, it distracts from the science we do understand. The danger is they can be accused of scaremongering. Also, we can all become described as kind of left-wing greens.”

Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: “It isn’t helpful to anybody to exaggerate the situation. It’s scary enough as it is." She was particularly critical of claims made by scientists and environmental groups two years ago, when observations showed that Arctic sea ice had declined to the lowest extent on record, 39 per cent below the average between 1979 and 2001. This led Mark Serreze, of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, to say that Arctic ice was “in a downward spiral and may have passed the point of no return”. Dr Pope said that while climate change was a factor, normal variations also played a part, and it was always likely that ice would recover a little in subsequent years, as had happened. It was the long-term downward trend that mattered, rather than the figures for any one year, she added.

“The problem with saying that we’ve reached a tipping point is that when the extent starts to increase again — as it has — the sceptics will come along and say, ‘Well, it’s stopped’,” she said. “This is why it’s important we’re as objective as we can be, and use all the available evidence to make clear what’s actually happening, because neither of those claims is right.”

Myles Allen, head of the Climate Dynamics Group at the University of Oxford, said: “Some claims that were made about the ice anomaly were misleading. A lot of people said this is the beginning of the end of Arctic ice, and of course it recovered the following year and everybody looked a bit silly.” Dr Allen said that predictions of how the world was likely to warm also needed to be framed carefully. While there was little doubt that the Earth would get hotter, there were still many uncertainties about the precise extent and regional impact.

“I think we need to be very careful about purporting to be able to supply very detailed and apparently accurate information about how the climate will be in 50 or 100 years’ time, when what we’re really giving is a possible future climate,” he added. “We’re not in a position to say how likely it is and what the chances are of it being different. There’s an understandable tendency to want to make climate change real for people and tell them what’s going to happen in their postcode, and that’s very dangerous because it gets beyond the level on which current models can operate.”

Chris Huntingford, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “I think the research scientists in general are extremely cautious about making projections for the future, but that caution is vital. We don’t dispute that warming is happening, but it’s important that the NGOs and other people interested in the issue don’t always pick the high scenario and present it as fact.”

Temperature trends of the past two decades have also been widely mis-interpreted to support particular points of view, the scientists said. Rapid warming in the 1990s, culminating in the hottest year on record in 1998, was erroneously used to suggest that climate change was accelerating. Since then, temperatures have stabilised, prompting sceptics to claim that global warming has stopped. “In 1998, people thought the world was going to end, temperatures were going up so much,” Dr Pope said. “People pick up whatever makes their argument, but this works both ways. It’s the long-term trend that counts, which is continuing and inexorable.”


EU countries fail to agree on fund to help developing nations go green

The host of the Copenhagen climate change talks made a desperate appeal to European leaders to stop arguing and open their wallets to save the prospects of a deal next month.

Nine Eastern European countries have refused to commit to an international fund to pay developing countries to go green, despite a plea from Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister. Gordon Brown was one of the few leaders to push an EU plan to pay €10 billion a year into a global fund of €30 to €40 billion from 2020, which he warned was crucial to success in Copenhagen.

But Germany was leading another group of countries, including France, that argued it was bad tactics for the EU to show how much it was prepared to pay this far in advance of the talks.

“Some countries have a position where for strategic reasons they think we should keep the wallet in our pocket for some weeks. I really disagree,” Mr Rasmussen said.

“Copenhagen is a definite deadline and the people of the earth will be very disappointed if we do not reach a comprehensive agreement. There must be money on the table and hopefully we can agree that we are prepared to pay our share.”

Poland led the opposition from Eastern European countries who want to know how much they are in line to pay to countries in Africa and South America before signing up to a general EU commitment.

The former Iron Curtain countries argue that they cannot pay in the next few years while they adapt their own coal-based economies to meet strict EU emissions targets. Gordon Bajnai, the Hungarian Prime Minister, said that sharing costs between all nations was not acceptable for the poorer members. He said: “We want a result this weekend, but not at any price.”

But Mr Brown warned: “Unless we have a plan for funding the action we are taking on climate change we will not get agreement in Copenhagen.”


Republicans may stall climate change bill

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer said late Thursday that she wants to hold drafting sessions as early as Tuesday on the climate change bill pending before her committee, but the meetings could be delayed by Republican stalling tactics.

A spokesman for Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the panel, said committee Republicans were leaning toward boycotting the sessions and would meet soon to decide whether they would stay away. At least two members of the minority must attend the sessions, known as markups, for them to be convened, according to committee rules.

A decision is expected from committee Republicans on Friday. Mrs. Boxer, a California Democrat, told reporters she would "use every tool" to get the bill voted out of the committee, where it is expected to pass easily with no more than two Democratic votes against it. "We're going forward, we're going to do our job," she said.

The exact timing of any drafting sessions depends on Mrs. Boxer, who must give Republicans at least three days notice before scheduling a committee meeting. No notice had been sent as of Thursday evening.

She said her staff planned to work over the weekend to address the concerns of Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, who wants a less-stringent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than is contained in the bill, as well as the elimination of regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Democrat, also raised concerns about the so-called price collar that would establish minimum and maximum prices for emissions permits, or allowances, that polluters would need to obtain to comply with the law. Asked whether she was planning to alter the bill, Mrs. Boxer said "we may have a couple of small things," in order to address Mr. Specter's concerns.

She said, however, that committee staff would be sending additional information to Mr. Baucus in the hopes of winning his support. She said the 2020 reduction target of 20 percent in her bill has become more easily attainable because emissions have already fallen up to 8 percent during the economic recession.

Her comments came after the conclusion of three days of sometimes contentious hearings on the climate change bill. Republicans, led by Mr. Inhofe and Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio, said the committee should not proceed to votes until it had a full economic analysis of the bill from EPA. No Republicans have signaled that they will back the bill.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson told the committee Tuesday that her agency relied heavily on its economic analysis of the House-passed version of the bill in writing its analysis of the Senate bill co-authored by Mrs. Boxer and Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat. She said they were similar enough not to require a repeat of a full analysis.


Warmism means salvation to the British Left

Beyond the change-your-lives-or-the-planet-gets-it hectoring, the government’s increasingly intense call to reduced-energy arms meets a political need, too. It provides a fading New Labour administration with an urgent purpose, an objective, no matter how doom-infused, around which they can rally an anxious citizenry. And with international climate talks due in Copenhagen in December, there is a prime opportunity to posture as warriors in the good fight. Little wonder that energy minister Ed Miliband sounded almost proud when speaking at the climate map’s launch: ‘With less than 50 days left before agreement must be reached, the UK is going all out to persuade the world of its need to raise its ambitions so we get a deal that protects us from a four-degree-celsius world.’

The more heightened the threat, the grander the posture. This logic was also at work when prime minister Gordon Brown addressed the Major Economies Forum in London recently. Enthusiastically talking up the prospect of droughts and a rising wave of floods, he stated: ‘If we do not reach a deal at this time, let us be in no doubt: once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement, in some future period, can undo that choice. So we should never allow ourselves to lose sight of the catastrophe we face if present warming trends continue.’

Despite the catastrophe-friendly content, there is a sense that when it comes to climate change, New Labour is enjoying itself. Where fighting the ‘war on terror’ lost its purpose-giving, moral-authority-providing function in Iraq, and now on the demoralising plains of Afghanistan, the good war is still there to be fought, but this time on the field of climate change. At every opportunity ministers trumpet this historic moment, and their own historic role. At the Science Museum, Ed Miliband was proclaiming Britain’s ‘historic responsibility’ to reduce carbon emissions, and, at the Major Economies forum, Gordon Brown was keen to play the world statesman: ‘In every era there are only one or two moments when nations come together and reach agreements that make history, because they change the course of history’. If we were in any doubt, that day of reckoning arrives in December in Copenhagen.

The problem with all the bluster, its catastrophism and its hope is what we, as a society, are being asked to do is so limited and limiting. It amounts, as the father (New Labour) said to his little girl (the public), to not using so much energy to heat homes or move around. This miserable vision of the low-wattage good life is presented as the national mission in which we are begged to believe. ‘To tackle the problem of climate change’, boomed Ed Miliband, ‘all of us, foreign ministries, environment ministries, treasuries, departments of defence, and all parts of government and societies, must work together to keep global temperatures to two degrees Celsius’.

There we have it. If ever a vision captured the bankruptcy of the today’s rulers it’s one based around temperature. They have given up on development, on all the gains of modernity, and on all the aspirations towards a better future; instead they just want to turn the heat down.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


No comments: