Thursday, November 12, 2009

Georgia Tech: “50 percent of the [USA] warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes rather than greenhouse gases”

From a Georgia Tech Press Release:

Reducing Greenhouse Gases May Not Be Enough to Slow Climate Change

Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning Professor Brian Stone publishes a paper in the December edition of Environmental Science and Technology that suggests policymakers need to address the influence of global deforestation and urbanization on climate change, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Stone’s paper, as the international community meets in Copenhagen in December to develop a new framework for responding to climate change, policymakers need to give serious consideration to broadening the range of management strategies beyond greenhouse gas reductions alone.

“Across the U.S. as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases,” said Stone. “Most large U.S. cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole – a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change. As a result, emissions reduction programs – like the cap and trade program under consideration by the U.S. Congress – may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live and where land use change is the dominant driver of warming.”

According to Stone’s research, slowing the rate of forest loss around the world, and regenerating forests where lost, could significantly slow the pace of global warming.

“Treaty negotiators should formally recognize land use change as a key driver of warming,” said Stone. “The role of land use in global warming is the most important climate-related story that has not been widely covered in the media.”

Stone recommends slowing what he terms the “green loss effect” through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. Forested areas provide the combined benefits of directly cooling the atmosphere and of absorbing greenhouse gases, leading to additional cooling. Green architecture in cities, including green roofs and more highly reflective construction materials, would further contribute to a slowing of warming rates. Stone envisions local and state governments taking the lead in addressing the land use drivers of climate change, while the federal government takes the lead in implementing carbon reduction initiatives, like cap and trade programs.

“As we look to address the climate change issue from a land use perspective, there is a huge opportunity for local and state governments,” said Stone. “Presently, local government capacity is largely unharnessed in climate management structures under consideration by the U.S. Congress. Yet local governments possess extensive powers to manage the land use activities in both the urban and rural areas.”

The Environmental Science and Technology article is available at

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Climate bill's 'emergency provision' gives Obama strong-man powers

Both the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy approved earlier this year and the version just okayed by Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Democrats (Republicans boycotted the vote) contains an obscure but nasty bureaucratic provision that requires President Obama to act like Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez.

Here’s how: The bills require a federal declaration of a “climate emergency” if world greenhouse gas levels reach 450 parts per million. Guess what? The Pacific Northwest National Lab says it is a virtual certainty that level will be reached within a few months. The bill then requires the president to “direct all Federal agencies to use existing statutory authority to take appropriate address shortfalls" in achieving needed greenhouse gas reductions.

When Vitter asked EPA Administrator what would be done in such a situation, she refused to say. So it must be asked: Would the president be empowered to do things like nationalize whole sectors of industry, ban coal use, restrict private automobile use, or anything else the “emergency” requires?

The Examiner's David Freddoso reports that Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, is holding a news conference later today concerning this provision. Vitter wonders if companies that support cap-and-trade in the hope they will profit from going green realize what could happen to them soon after enactment. More to the point, we wonder what the American people will do when they realize what is actually going on here.

UPDATED: CEI's Horner says it's about power, not climate

In a detailed post on, Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar and environmental expert Chris Horner warns that this provision is clearly intended to concentrate power in an unprecedented manner:

"But as we have been warning you in detail, this agenda transparently is not about GHG concentrations, or the climate. It’s about what this provision would bring: Almost limitless power over private economic activity and individual liberty for the activist president and, for the reluctant leader, litigious greens and courts that in this case would only have two choices. Those are follow the law, or declare it unconstitutional knowing the predilections of the appellate courts and what will very soon be Obama’s Supreme Court."


Its Not Easy Being Green

A recent feature story inadvertently illustrated the sinister extremes of the environmental movement. The AP profiled a New York City couple who had spent a year trying to reduce their net environmental impact to almost zero. “They stopped using anything disposable or buying anything new. . . they had given up elevators. They went everywhere by bicycle, bought food directly from local farmers, had even sworn off toilet paper.”

The one-year experiment is now the subject of a documentary and book. The story details how the couple and their three-year old daughter were predictably changed, and it is littered with matter-of-fact references to the “devastation wrought by worldwide human consumption” and the “growing awareness of. . . the damage our lifestyles cause.”

The story ends with the wife deciding not to buy a dishwasher — at least not for now — lamenting the huge box and packaging. She also feels a “weird feeling of grief” before boarding a plane to visit her parents. The husband couldn’t bring himself to go, though he now flies to promote his book.

Their devotion to living green is undoubtedly extreme, thus their approving national profile, and one could argue that environmentalists are only proposing modest day-to-day adjustments to fight global warming. Still, an unintentional sadness permeates the whole dreary piece, leaving the reader to wonder if modern environmentalism doesn’t harbor an agenda less concerned with human needs than with the aim of building an American socialist utopia with the same world significance of, say, Sweden.

An ideological movement that instills guilt for boarding a plane to visit family cannot be predicated on human well-being. ‘Carbon credit’ stands to replace ‘frequent flyer miles’ in the traveler’s lingo (thanks, also, to Cap & Trade). How far is modern culture from stigmatizing SUV ownership and traditional light bulbs the way it once did pornography and pre-marital sex?

Planet Green is a channel — not a show but a channel — devoted to, you guessed it. Their fun-filled line-up, including actor Ed Begley, Jr. competing for the honor of greenest household, imbues their mission with the civic virtue of voting or feeding the hungry. Likewise, the Discovery Channel will launch Planet Green, expected to reach 50 million households, continuing a trend that saw thousands of cities worldwide earlier this year go dark for Earth Hour. By green standards, can one not reasonably ask if the darkened jungles of South America are morally, albeit not economically, superior to the glaring nighttime skylines of New York or Chicago?

Meanwhile, in a story known but to aviation enthusiasts, in late October United Airlines retired its last Boeing 737, opting to use Airbus aircraft on its short and medium-range routes. Still a mainstay of the airline industry in its 40th year, the 737’s benefit to humankind has been incalculable. Because of passenger jets, journeys that once took weeks or months, if taken at all, are now completed in mere hours. Automobiles, elevators, air conditioners, etc., represent not disposable luxuries or necessary evils but staples for better living. Technology and innovation solve problems, including, yes, pollution, and the most fuel-inefficient 737 has benefited humanity far more than cloth shopping bags and copies of An Inconvenient Truth.

A culture dedicated to the betterment of human-kind emphasizes individual freedom and encourages technological advancement. Granted, the green movement will never eliminate jet airplanes and dishwashers, but neither should it be allowed to instill fear and guilt for their use. Furthermore, it is as true for cultures bent on their own demise as it is for individuals: Be careful what you wish for. . .


Ethical Travel Company Scorns Carbon Offsetting

One of Britain's leading ethical travel operators has launched a scathing attack on the carbon offset industry and has decided to stop offering offsets to its customers as a way of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Justin Francis, the founder of, said he had decided to abandon offsets because he believes they have become a "medieval pardon that allows people to continue polluting".

In 2002 his company became one of the first British travel operators to begin offering customers the opportunity to buy into an offsetting scheme. By paying money to a third party operator that ran carbon-reducing projects in the developing world, holidaymakers could jump on board flights supposedly happy in the knowledge that any carbon dioxide released during their journey would eventually be reduced by the equivalent amount somewhere else.

Supporters of the scheme, which has now become a multibillion pound industry, say it is a vital way of quickly reducing the world's carbon emissions and combating climate change. But a growing number of critics say it is simply a way for people and businesses in the developed world to buy their way out of a problem without actually committing themselves to reductions in their own emissions. After years of falling into the former camp, Mr Francis has now joined the growing number of offset critics.

"Carbon offsetting is an ingenious way to avoid genuinely reducing your carbon emissions," he said yesterday. "It's a very attractive idea – that you can go on living exactly as you did before when there's a magic pill or medieval pardon out there that allows people to continue polluting."



Five current articles below


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG draws our attention to a video by an Australian Liberal Party Senator Cory Bernardi that pisses all over proposed global warming laws

Open Letter to the Australian Prime Minister from Dr David Evans

The letter below appears on the site of Science Speak, a scientific modeling and mathematical research company. David Evans [] has a background in mathematics, computing, and electrical engineering. He helped build the carbon accounting model for the Australian Government that tracks carbon in plants, debris, soils, and agricultural products

Dear Gullible Kevin

The banks want us to trade carbon. The big financial institutions saw you coming, didn't they? Make you feel all important and "progressive", save the planet, lead the move to save humanity from disaster. No you patsy, they are just taking Australia's sovereignty and locking in a profitable carbon trading scheme for themselves. A world "emissions" currency manufactured from thin air, world government, and worldwide wealth redistribution based on imaginary carbon "crimes". There will be no escape.

You are rushing to sign away our wealth and impoverish us, because you wouldn't take a couple of hours to understand the science of global warming and it's weak points. You never audited it did you? Just jumped into the scam feet first. "Oh, all those people said it was right", you smirk, "and those who don't believe are so.evil and inferior!"

That's the thing about scams Kevin, they always rush you so you don't have time to check it out properly, you just have to get in right away. All those admirers telling you how smart and compassionate you are, for swallowing an unaudited tale about wind and clouds, invisible trace gases, and will-o-the-wisps! Smartest man in the ALP, but you cannot understand what the "boneheads" in the National Party already know?

The alarmist theory is based on an assumption made in 1984, when there was insufficient data. The chronology is important. That assumption was disproved beyond reasonable doubt in 1999, after the IPCC had been set up, Kyoto was signed, a huge bureaucracy was in place to deal with carbon emissions, carbon trading plans were hatched, and the western climate establishment was lavishly spending billions looking to blame carbon dioxide for global warming. Too much at stake for the bureaucracy and government scientists to turn back. Hence the fracas.

Here's a clue Kev, find out about "feedbacks", especially those involving water-clouds, water vapor, humidity, evaporation, rain, and so on. How does the Earth respond when it is warmed a little by our carbon dioxide? Does the Earth amplify the warming, tripling it due to water feedbacks as the carbon dioxide theory claims? Or does it dampen the warming, as any stable system would do, as recent radiosonde and satellite data indicate? But the banks want carbon trading.

Carbon emissions will be the biggest "commodity" market soon, bigger than oil. Carbon traders will trade back and forth, creaming off a few percent on all those government issued permits created out of thin air, and the rest of us will be compelled to pay for them. Brilliant Kev! Why not a carbon tax if you just want to reduce carbon emissions? And it's no use asking shiny-pants over in the opposition, because he used to be head of Goldman Sachs in Australia. No wonder he wants carbon trading.


Warmist data manipulation shames science

Kevin Rudd went over the top last week in a speech to the Lowy institute, declaring it was "time to remove any polite veneer" from the climate change debate, which he claims is the "moral challenge of our generation". Then he launched an extraordinary tirade against "the climate change sceptics, the climate change deniers" who he claims are "powerful", "too dangerous to be ignored", "driven by vested interests … quite literally holding the world to ransom … Our children's fate - and our grandchildren's fate - will lie entirely with them."

If he had any shame, the Prime Minister would be mortified to be associated with such a hysterical, undergraduate piece of ad hominem hyperbole. History will record his embarrassment and the debasing of his office. But the speech shows Rudd's desperation in the week before his Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Emissions Trading Scheme) is debated in Parliament and less than a month before the Copenhagen climate summit at which he wants to parade a signed-off scheme. As the public cools towards this new energy tax, politicians, green groups and other alarmists with the real "vested interest" in this debate are stooping ever lower in their attempts to shun dissenters....

Against the apocalyptic rhetoric pushed by Rudd comes a cool-minded new book which unpicks the science underpinning the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's reports. Global Warming, False Alarm by Ralph Alexander, an Australian-born US scientist with a PhD in physics from Oxford, is subtitled ''The bad science behind the United Nations' assertion that man-made CO2 causes global warming". Alexander wrote the book, "because I'm a scientist. Because I'm offended that science has been perverted in the name of global warming."

He became a sceptic when he taught a course on physical science and found the textbook presented the "alarmist line on man-made global warming without question". "To me that made a mockery of the history of science presented in the course, which featured several examples of how mainstream scientific thinking has been wrong in the past."

The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change says the earth has effectively developed an allergy to CO2. The effect of a tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is amplified by water vapour and clouds - in a positive feedback loop which enhances the climate's sensitivity to extra CO2 and causes "runaway global warming". That is the big Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change hypothesis. Alexander explains the three problems with the hypothesis.

* First, recent satellite observations show cloud feedback to be a negative loop, that is, clouds reduce global warming, rather than amplify it in a positive feedback loop, as the panel's models predict.

* Second, the panel has used flawed data. It "stooped to trickery and rewrote history" to make the temperature and CO2 records correlate over the past 2000 years, creating the notorious "hockey stick" graph that wiped out the well-documented Medieval Warm Period (a warm spell about the year 1000) and Little Ice Age (cool period in about 1650). The graph relied on data from a few tree rings to estimate historic temperatures, which have since been shown to be inaccurate.

* The third problem for the panel hypothesis is that CO2 lags behind temperature in the Ice Age era, which has been explained by the delayed release of stored CO2 from oceans, but the panel model has CO2 and temperature rising together since 1850. "Either temperature and CO2 go up and down at the same time or they don't … You can't have it one way during the ice ages and another way today."

Alexander says data manipulation has been the panel's main tool of deception. For instance, it has ignored the bias in the modern temperature record caused by the "urban heat island effect" that inflates warming near cities.

The panel has also ignored the bias in its temperature data caused by the shutting down of weather stations in cold parts of the world in the 1990s - from about 5000 to 2000 or so - most notably in the former Soviet Union. Again, this artificially increases the recent warming rate. Alexander says the panel has "cherry-picked" 19th century CO2 data to exaggerate the rise in CO2 levels since pre-industrial times, and has trivialised the sun's contribution to the present warming trend.

Don't get him started on computer climate models which he says are "full of unfounded assumptions". He points to the drop in the earth's temperature since 2001 which wasn't predicted by the models. Ultimately, "trillions of dollars could be wasted to fix a problem that doesn't exist''.

Alexander's book is a useful tool to make sense of climate change. As they did in the republic debate, regardless of elite consensus, Australians make up their own minds, and are probably turned off by official attempts to stifle dissent.


A footshot by the Federal "Greens" -- they block new Queensland dam to save fish, turtles etc.

So the "Green" Queensland State government now plans to meet water needs by building and running desalination plants at huge cost -- which will gobble up huge amounts of electricity -- while Federal "Green" policy is trying to REDUCE electricity use!

AFTER the emotion and relief that accompanied yesterday's no-go for the Traveston Dam comes the sobering reality. There are three major outcomes that flow from federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett's decision and none of them are especially pretty.

Australia's fastest growing region is welcoming thousands of new residents each week yet remains without a sustainable water supply adequate to meet its needs. The Bligh Government is now the biggest landowner in the Mary Valley, with 17,000ha it has no use for.

And water policy in southeast Queensland consists of a desalination plant that is rusting, a recycled water facility that is not being used properly and plans for a dam that will never get built.

The ad hocery that has afflicted the Government's approach to meeting the region's water needs was exposed for all to see yesterday. It has spent six years drawing up a regional water supply strategy and billions of dollars borrowed at the top of the market to arrive at a place where it still cannot guarantee it has the definitive answer to our water problems.

The Government now faces yet another fight to convince residents of the merits of more desalination plants at a time when Queensland needs to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint or pay dearly for its energy usage. One of those plants will have intake and outfall pipes traversing Mt Coolum National Park, hardly a good look for a Government desperate to be seen to be greener than green.

The proposed Marcoola desalination facility also could affect a major economic driver for the region, the Sunshine Coast Airport. But its biggest problem is likely to be cost. No matter where they are located, desalination plants are extremely energy intensive. The existing Tugun plant uses enough electricity to power every home in a town the size of Mt Isa. Think what another two plants of the same size mean for the region's electricity use. The abacus at Energex would have been working overtime yesterday.

Consultants Marsden Jacob estimated last year that, compared with building and operating Traveston Dam, the cost of a desalination plant would be up to $807 million more expensive over its life. That translates into ever higher power and water prices, which is what Anna Bligh was referring to when she said yesterday that axing Traveston meant people would pay more for water sooner.

But blaming Canberra entirely would be disingenuous. Ms Bligh painted herself into a corner last year when she declared purified recycled water would not be added to the drinking supply unless there was a repeat of the so-called millennium drought. The price to be paid for the region's explosive growth keeps getting greater and greater and this Government is beginning to show signs of being overwhelmed by the task before it.


And even the existing desalination plant is so troubled as to be virtually useless

Fortunately, the Good Lord took charge and sent down lots of rain, so the plant is not for the moment needed

FEARS the $1.2 billion Gold Coast desalination plant was rushed, compromising its quality, have been raised by officials overseeing the troubled project. The Tugun plant, meant to be a showpiece of the State Government's $9 billion water grid, has been plagued by problems including rusting pipes, cracking concrete, faulty valves and leaching of contaminants from a rubbish dump. The Government is refusing to take delivery of the facility until next June because of serious faults that have delayed the handover by 18 months.

Now, documents obtained by The Courier-Mail under Freedom to Information laws reveal serious concerns were raised about the pace of construction. Executives from what is now WaterSecure, the Government authority in charge of the water grid, held crisis talks in January this year after it became clear the technical problems would delay the plant from meeting its operational targets. Minutes from an executive meeting reveal at least 10 problems with the plant had been identified, including excessive vibration and rusting and leaking parts. "The EMT (executive management team) expressed concerns . . . about more issues and problems which may surface," the minutes stated.

The executives, including current WaterSecure chief Keith Davies, held "lengthy discussions" about construction time versus quality and cost. The mammoth plant was built in about two years by a consortium known as the Gold Coast Desalination Alliance, headed by French water giant Veolia and construction company John Holland. "The EMT believes that the GCD Alliance have focused on time as a priority, compromising quality . . . ," the meeting minutes said.

WaterSecure executives questioned whether Veolia and John Holland were liable for the faults and also sought legal advice. They also discussed withholding payments to the alliance. "VWA (Veolia Water Australia) and John Holland stand to gain a lot of money from gain share," the minutes said. "If WaterSecure decides to withhold money, this will be a major issue."

The minutes reveal WaterSecure officials held an emergency meeting in mid-January on the same day Deputy Premier Paul Lucas held a press conference at the plant to announce expected delays. Officially opened by Premier Anna Bligh last November, the desalination plant has been periodically shut down for weeks at a time and has failed to meet production targets.

Last month Mr Davies said the facility had been running at full capacity that month. But he said the faults were still being fixed and the Government was not expected to take ownership until next June.



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