Monday, November 02, 2009

Biblical lessons lost in the rush to control Earth's natural processes

Article below by Richard Courtney from the mainstream "Scotsman"

IN THE Bronze Age, Joseph told Pharaoh that climate had always changed everywhere: it always would. He told Pharaoh to prepare for bad times when in good times, and all sensible governments have adopted that policy throughout the millenniums since. It is a sensible policy, because people merely complain about taxes in good times. They revolt if short of food in bad times. But several governments have abandoned it and, instead, are trying to stabilise the climate of the entire Earth by controlling it.

This attempt at global climate control arises from the hypothesis of anthropogenic (that is, man-made) global warming (AGW). AGW does not pose a global crisis, but the policy does, because it threatens constraint of fossil fuels and that would kill millions – probably billions – of people. There is no evidence for man-made global warming. None, not any of any kind. The existence of global warming is not evidence of AGW, because warming of the Earth does not prove humans warmed it.

At issue is whether humans are, or are not, affecting changes to the Earth's temperature that have always happened naturally. The AGW-hypothesis says increased greenhouse gases – notably carbon dioxide – in the air raise global temperature and anthropogenic emissions are increasing the carbon dioxide in the air to overwhelm the natural climate system.

But empirical evidence says the hypothesis is wrong. Firstly, the man-made emissions and global temperature do not correlate. Secondly, change to atmospheric concentration follows change to global temperature at all time scales. Thirdly, the recent rise in global temperature has not been induced by a rise in atmospheric concentrations.

Global temperature fell from 1940 to 1970, rose to 1998 and has fallen since. That is 40 years of cooling and 28 years of warming. Global temperature is now similar to that of 1990. But atmospheric has increased at a near constant rate and by more than 30 per cent since 1940. It has increased by 8 per cent since 1990. So, the normal rules of science say the AGW hypothesis is completely refuted. Nothing the hypothesis predicts is observed, and the opposite of some of its predictions are observed.

Some people still promote the hypothesis, for several reasons (personal financial gain, protection of their career histories and futures, political opportunism). But support of science cannot be one such motive, because science denies the hypothesis.

Stopping the emissions would mean reducing fossil fuel usage, resulting in economic damage. This would be worse than the oil crisis of the 1970s, because the reduction would be greater, would be permanent and energy use has increased since then. The economic disruption would be world-wide.


Panic, little ones, it's the Carbon Monster

IF you don't reduce your carbon footprint, then puppies will drown and bunny rabbits will die. And a terrifying, jagged-toothed monster with crazy hooked hands will descend from the clouds to eat you up. Believe it or not, that is the message being delivered by the British government to children, in a 6 million pound ($10m) advertising campaign designed to scare the next generation witless about the alleged horrors of global warming.

Taking environmentalist propaganda to a new low, the TV ad shows a father reading a nightmarish bedtime story to his perturbed-looking young daughter. He tells her of a land where the "weather is very, very strange". There are "awful heatwaves" and "terrible storms and floods". A cartoon bunny is shown crying as it starves on the dried, cracked earth, while elsewhere a puppy drowns in floodwaters. Above it all, a sooty, blackened monster - CO2 made hideous flesh - surveys the horrors with a grotesque grin on its face.

And just in case the little girl, and the millions of children that the TV ad is aimed at, thinks this is merely a twisted fairytale, her father makes clear that it is reality. It is the "horrible consequence", he says, of human beings using too much CO2, much of which comes from "everyday things like keeping houses warm and driving cars". In short? Children who live in warm houses and who get lifts to school or football practice should feel guilty, because their evil antics are causing dogs to die and cute rabbits to go hungry.

Not surprisingly, the ad has caused a storm. Nearly 400 people have complained to Britain's Advertising Standards Authority. Some are disturbed by the ad's scientific illiteracy (how one gets from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's relatively sober reports about changing weather patterns to a cartoon dog drowning in a flooded city is anybody's guess). Others have slammed the government for knowingly and deliberately - and with taxypayers' money - scaring kids.

Yet the ad is only an extreme version of what has become mainstream environmentalist policy in recent years: terrifying children. The environmentalist ethos, whether it is spouted by official bodies or radical, dreadlock-sporting campaigners, presents itself as caring and considerate, yet it is shot through with the politics of fear. In place of grown-up, adult debate about the future, environmentalists continually use scaremongering - conjuring up horrid, squalid future scenarios based more on their fantastic imaginations than scientific fact - to try to force people to lower their horizons and change their behaviour.

And this green politics of fear is starting to have a detrimental effect on children. As popular culture bombards kids with messages about a fiery, bunny-hostile future, and as many schools in Britain and elsewhere rebrand themselves as "eco schools", devoted to reducing children's carbon footprints as much as expanding their minds, so children are becoming paralysed by fear. In 2007, a survey of 1150 seven to 11-year-olds in Britain found that more than half had lost sleep as a result of worrying about climate change. "It's making me and my friends go mad," said a 12-year-old girl.

The children were most likely to be kept awake thinking about "the possible submergence of entire countries" and the "welfare of animals", indicating that hysterical, fact-lite, The Day After Tomorrow-style scare stories about worldwide flooding or the wiping out of polar bears have hit children where it hurts.

Worryingly, the survey also found that one in seven children blamed their own parents for the coming climate doom. This suggests that environmentalists' emphasis on the destructiveness of people's everyday behaviour - their driving habits, their food choices, their holidays - has successfully convinced kids that all adults, even mummy and daddy, are dirty and dangerous.

Indeed, environmentalist activists now cynically exploit children's fears to try to get them to snitch on their parents. A book called How To Turn Your Parents Green, by James Russell, encourages children to "nag, pester, bug, torment and punish the people who are merrily wrecking our world", that is, grown-ups, or "Groans".

It tells kids to become "Guardians of a Glorious Green Future" and to get their parents to sign up to a "Glorious Green Charter". Traditionally, it has only been the most authoritarian regimes on Earth - think Mao's China or Stalin's Soviet Union - that encouraged children to spy on and squeal on their parents. Now environmentalists do it, too, though with a Little Green Book rather than a little red one.

When I was a child in the 1980s, the spectre of nuclear war was used to keep children in a permanent state of panic; today climate change plays that role. We should be wary indeed of any campaign that makes children feel scared and guilty and even drives them mad, and which turns them against their own parents.



With just five weeks to go before world leaders meet for a global climate summit in Copenhagen, a split has emerged within the European Union. Nobody, it seems, can agree on who should foot the bill. In the past, Europe has played a crucial role in pushing for global consensus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But the bloc may lose its position at the fore of environmental protection if it can't come to an agreement on how to spread the costs fighting climate change.

European politicians said one of the main tasks of a two-day summit that began in Brussels on Thursday would be to work toward a compromise on financing climate protection measures. Developing nations have said they will not agree to tackle climate change unless they receive funding from rich countries, whose industries are largely responsible for the problem.

According to the European Commission, poorer countries will need an annual sum of 100 billion euros ($147 billion) until 2020 to help fight global warming. The EU is proposing that it should contribute 15 billion euros to this annual figure.

Despite falling far below the 35 billion euros called for by environmental organizations, the EU's proposal has met with vocal protest from Poland and eight other central European countries. Poland, which depends largely on coal for its energy, objects to the idea that countries should pay according to what they pollute. "There is a possibility to agree on a mechanism under which, the richer the country, the more it pays," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. "We will not agree to a mechanism which means the more you pollute, the more you pay."

Some in the EU are looking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for progress on the funding because Berlin has resisted calls to set a precise sum for funding, saying the EU should wait for others to show their hand. "I want Copenhagen to be a success," Merkel said after arriving in Brussels. "The EU has to make clear its ideas. But it is crucial that the United States and China also make clear what they are willing to contribute."

The EU's bickering is the latest in a series of blows which threaten to undermine the Copenhagen summit before it has even begun. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that while he's still optimistic a political deal to slow climate change can be reached in Copenhagen, negotiaters will not be able to reach the wide-ranging deal many observers had hoped for at the beginning of 2009. The UN head is now urging leaders to make nonbinding agreements with a view to working out the details once the summit is over.

On Wednesday, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, pushed nations to make commitments to fight climate change quickly. "What has to be absolutely clear is that we do not have another year to sit on our hands," he said.


"Clean" Coal a delusion

Here’s a bit of unalloyed pessimism for you: Carbon capture and sequestration, more widely known as clean coal technology, is not going to work out. Governments and the coal industry are trying to bite off too much at once.

In theory, clean coal is a fine idea. The process of burning coal releases gases, which all modern plants already “scrub” of harmful substances like sulfur dioxide. To fight global warming, coal mine and plant owners want to do the same for carbon dioxide.

Sounds great, except that a fairly average-sized 1,500 megawatt coal plant produces about three billion [million? -- JR] tons of CO2 yearly. All that CO2 has to be separated out, a process that uses up a lot of the energy the plant produces. Then, according to current thinking, we must bury the CO2 and hope that it doesn’t come back up.

That’s a hell of a challenge. A report released Thursday by the pro-CCS Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute helps outline just how much. A few bullet-points:

* Clean coal research is currently moribund; only seven CCS projects exist today, and all are attached to gas plants

* The GCCSSI expects national governments to coordinate to give $100 billion yearly to CCS research

* Provided the money is forked over immediately, we might have 20 plants by 2020

* And if those initial plants work out as expected it will take until 2030 to have a significant number operating

* If the technology works as expected, it will add an average of 78 percent to the cost of electricity from coal

Anyone familiar with the basics of risk wouldn’t bet on that many “ifs”, especially given the looming difficulty of not only coaxing governments to throw trillions of dollars into research, but also share the technology as it develops.

Nevertheless, everything could work out perfectly and clean coal could be spreading in 2030. By that time, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere may be over 500ppm. That’s no problem if the climate change skeptics are right; if the 97 percent of climatologists who study climate change are right, that number would mean we’re in for some major upheaval.

In other words, we need better solutions, right now. For coal, there are already some available. Old, inefficient plants can be shut down in favor of new ones that operate at a much higher thermal efficiency, and work onnew concepts like underground coal gasification could be accelerated.

The $2.4 trillion the International Energy Agency says we should spend researching clean coal sould also be spent other ways; research and investment into renewables like geothermal and solar power come to mind, and it’s also enough money to buy several hundred nuclear plants.

If we do insist on clean coal, the concept needs a rethink. Trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to scrub CO2 is enough of a challenge. The additional problem of permanently sequestering it underground adds too much expense and uncertainty.

There are better ways. One would be to use the CO2 to create liquid fuels for transportation. Oddly, this idea is rarely brought up in the debate over clean coal, although scientists are already working on ways to use CO2 they captured from ambient air for fuel.



A new report (PDF) from the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) reveals the high costs being imposed on British and European consumers by the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The ETS is intended to reduce carbon emissions across Europe by increasing the cost of energy for households, businesses and other organisations. This increases household bills, but also increases business running costs and the cost of running public services such as hospitals.

As well as calculating the cost of the scheme, the report investigates the flaws in its design and function. These include the problem of the burden falling disproportionately upon the poor, the highly volatile price of carbon emissions under the Scheme and the failure of the Scheme to properly balance the social costs of carbon emissions with the cost of reducing them.

Key Findings

• The Emission Trading Scheme cost British consumers nearly £3 billion in 2008, equivalent to around £117 per family, by increasing the cost of energy. The report also presents estimates of the cost to consumers in every country participating in the scheme, in each year of the scheme’s operation.

• From its introduction on 1st January 2005 to the end of 2008, our central estimate of the Scheme's cost to consumers across Europe is £67 billion (€93 billion). That is equivalent to around €185 (£132) for every person in the ETS participating countries.

• Some countries' energy markets pass on these costs to consumers at different rates, meaning that at best the Scheme cost around £33 billion (€46 billion) and at worst £83 billion (€116 billion).

• New evidence uncovered using the Freedom of Information Act shows that the British Government has not just accepted this significant burden on consumers, but has actively worked to increase it. Despite continuing rhetoric about reducing fuel poverty, the Government in fact spent £42,899.69 of taxpayers’ money to assist the European Commission in legal attempts at the European Court of Justice to forcibly reduce the supply of emissions allowances and thereby increase the emissions price further.

Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“The EU Emissions Trading Scheme has cost ordinary families billions, while energy companies have made huge windfall profits. Despite that, it has failed to produce a stable carbon price, leaving consumers with an unpredictable addition to their bills. Manufacturers already struggling to compete with emerging economies like India and China cannot cope with such a substantial addition to their costs, and driving them abroad won’t help cut emissions but will mean fewer jobs in Britain. The Government claim to be against high energy prices but then embrace policies like this and even use taxpayers’ money to support European Commission legal cases which threaten to increase the bill to British families further. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme has been an expensive failure and should be abolished.”



Bid to gag scientific attack on Australia's proposed Warmist laws

Censorship of disagreement is a kneejerk reaction among Leftists but it is sad to see it from a major science organization. The CSIRO is obviously putting politics before science

THE nation's peak science agency has tried to gag the publication of a paper by one of its senior environmental economists attacking the Rudd government's climate change policies. The paper, by the CSIRO's Clive Spash, argues the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is an ineffective way to cut emissions, and instead direct legislation or a tax on carbon is needed. The paper was accepted for publication by the journal New Political Economy after being internationally peer-reviewed.

But Dr Spash told the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics conference that the CSIRO had since June tried to block its publication.

In the paper, Dr Spash argues the economic theory underpinning emissions trading schemes is "far removed" from the reality of permit markets. "While carbon trading and offset schemes seem set to spread, they so far appear ineffective in terms of actually reducing GHGs (greenhouse gases)," he says. "Despite this apparent failure, ETS remain politically popular amongst the industrialised polluters. "The public appearance is that action is being undertaken. The reality is that GHGs are increasing and society is avoiding the need for substantive proposals to address the problem of behavioural and structural change."

Dr Spash said trading schemes did not efficiently allocate emission cuts because their design was manipulated by vested interests. For example, in Australia, large polluters would be compensated with free permits while smaller, more competitive firms would have to buy theirs at auction. The schemes were also flawed because: global warming was caused by gases other than carbon; emissions were difficult to measure; carbon offsets bought from other countries were of dubious value; and the schemes "crowded out" voluntary action by individuals. He concludes that more direct measures, such as a carbon tax, regulations or new infrastructure would be simpler, more effective and less open to manipulation.

Dr Spash could not be contacted by The Australian. However, his presentation to the ANZSEE conference in Darwin last Wednesday stated: "The CSIRO is currently maintaining they have the right to ban the written version of this paper from publication by myself as a representative of the organisation and by myself as a private citizen." Dr Spash said CSIRO managers had written to the journal's editor demanding the paper not be published.

CSIRO spokesman Huw Morgan said the publication of Dr Spash's paper was an internal matter and was being reviewed by the chief executive's office. However, he said that under the agency's charter scientists were forbidden from commenting on matters of government or opposition policy.

The CSIRO charter, introduced last year, was trumpeted by Science Minister Kim Carr as a way to guarantee freedom of expression for scientists. Senator Carr said he was seeking a briefing from the CSIRO. Opposition science spokesman Eric Abetz accused the government of empty spin.

Julian Cribb, adjunct professor of science communication at the University of Technology, Sydney, said gagging scientists deprived the public of scientific knowledge they had funded. ANZSEE president Wendy Proctor said if Dr Spash's research questioned current orthodoxy, it should be made public to inform debate.



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