Sunday, May 31, 2009

Japan considering an INCREASE in CO2 emissions

The high costs Japan would incur if Tokyo promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 would be hard for the public to accept during the recession, Prime Minister Taro Aso said on Friday. His comments showed there was still no consensus within the government after Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito said earlier this week that setting a mid-term target for cuts in a range of 15 to 25 percent was one option.

Aso has said he would announce Japan's mid-term target by mid-June, so he can set out Japan's views at a July meeting of G8 leaders and a U.N. conference in December that is meant to agree a new global climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Japan, the world's fifth largest emitter, is under great pressure from developing nations to show leadership by opting for deep emissions reductions to ensure a strong outcome in December's gathering in the Danish capital Copenhagen. A panel of experts, professors and industry officials has presented Aso with a choice of six target options relative to 1990 levels. It said that curbing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by regulations or other measures would boost energy costs, increase job losses and thus have a net negative impact on the economy.

The other five options, ranging from an increase of 4 percent to a cut of 15 percent, all fall short of a 25-40 percent cut required of rich nations by a U.N. panel of scientists to minimise the risk of the worst impacts of global warming. "At a time of deep recession like this, it would be difficult to ignore the (larger) costs for the public to bear," Aso said, when asked about the minus 25 percent option. "To trust their morale only would not be the resolution," Aso told a budget committee in Friday's parliament session.

Aso referred to an assessment by economists of the effect of each option on the economy, which showed under the minus 25 percent target scenario, energy costs in 2020 would be 140,000 yen ($1,453) per household per year more than those under the weakest one. The same estimate also showed annual disposable income per household would be 220,000 yen less than that under the weakest option, in which users are allowed to keep the current pace of buying low-emission goods and facilities, resulting in emissions exceeding by 4 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

Aso also told the same committee that he would take into account that the plus 4 percent option attracted the largest number of comments from the public in the past month.

How to gauge voters' views is critical for Aso as public opinion polls put the opposition Democrats ahead of his Liberal Democratic Party in the run-up to an election, which many speculate will be in August and must be held by October.



According to Germany's Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD), there is no chance of the emissions trading scheme being introduced for the EU airlines industry anytime soon. He said: "The Federal Government supports in principle the plans of the EU Commission, but the emissions trading scheme should not be a competitive disadvantage for Europe's leading airlines."

Given current circumstances, this could not be guaranteed as the U.S. and other non-European countries continue to reject the EU emissions trading process for all incoming and outgoing flights.

SOURCE. (In German; Transl. BJP)


An international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle. Solar Cycle 24 will peak, they say, in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots. "If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78," says panel chairman Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.

It is tempting to describe such a cycle as "weak" or "mild," but that could give the wrong impression. "Even a below-average cycle is capable of producing severe space weather," points out Biesecker. "The great geomagnetic storm of 1859, for instance, occurred during a solar cycle of about the same size we’re predicting for 2013."...

The latest forecast revises an earlier prediction issued in 2007. At that time, a sharply divided panel believed solar minimum would come in March 2008 followed by either a strong solar maximum in 2011 or a weak solar maximum in 2012. Competing models gave different answers, and researchers were eager for the sun to reveal which was correct.

"It turns out that none of our models were totally correct," says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA's lead representative on the panel. "The sun is behaving in an unexpected and very interesting way."



It's a surprisingly common phenomenon generally and the way Warmist scientists repeatedly refuse to release their raw data and details of their analytical procedures tells its own story

It's a long-standing and crucial question that, as yet, remains unanswered: just how common is scientific misconduct? In the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh reports the first meta-analysis of surveys questioning scientists about their misbehaviours. The results suggest that altering or making up data is more frequent than previously estimated and might be particularly high in medical research. [That I can believe. Any reader of my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog will know of the low to juvenile standards in medical research]

Recent scandals like Hwang Woo-Suk's fake stem-cell lines or Jon Sudbø's made-up cancer trials have dramatically demonstrated that fraudulent research is very easy to publish, even in the most prestigious journals. The media and many scientists tend to explain away these cases as pathological deviations of a few "bad apples." Common sense and increasing evidence, however, suggest that these could be just the tip of the iceberg, because fraud and other more subtle forms of misconduct might be relatively frequent. The actual numbers, however, are a matter of great controversy.

Estimates based on indirect data (for example, official retractions of scientific papers or random data audits) have produced largely discrepant results. Therefore, many researchers have asked scientists directly, with surveys conducted in different countries and disciplines. However, they have used different methods and asked different questions, so their results also appeared inconclusive.

To make these surveys comparable, the meta-analysis focused on behaviours that actually distort scientific knowledge (excluding data on plagiarism and other kinds of malpractice) and extracted the frequency of scientists who recalled having committed a particular behaviour at least once, or who knew a colleague who did.

On average, across the surveys, around 2% of scientists admitted they had "fabricated" (made up), "falsified" or "altered" data to "improve the outcome" at least once, and up to 34% admitted to other questionable research practices including "failing to present data that contradict one's own previous research" and "dropping observations or data points from analyses based on a gut feeling that they were inaccurate."

In surveys that asked about the behaviour of colleagues, 14% knew someone who had fabricated, falsified or altered data, and up to 72% knew someone who had committed other questionable research practices.

In both kinds of surveys, misconduct was reported most frequently by medical and pharmacological researchers. This suggests that either the latter are more open and honest in their answers, or that frauds and bias are more frequent in their fields. The latter interpretation would support growing fears that industrial sponsorship is severely distorting scientific evidence to promote commercial treatments and drugs.

As in all surveys asking sensitive questions, it is likely that some respondents did not reply honestly, especially when asked about their own behaviour. Therefore, a frequency of 2% is probably a conservative estimate, while it remains unclear how the figure of 14% should be interpreted.

More information: Fanelli D (2009) How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Survey Data. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5738



Democrats in the White House and Congress are now making the most serious push ever for legislation to force reductions of U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions. The stated purpose is to reduce potential future harm from human-caused climate change, and the vehicle is a climate-and-energy bill commonly referred to as Waxman-Markey. But the reasoning behind this proposal is innumerate, even if we accept the scientific and economic assumptions of its advocates.

According to the authoritative U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), under a reasonable set of assumptions for global economic and population growth, the world should expect to warm by about 2.8°C over the next century. Also according to the IPCC, a global increase in temperature of 4°C should cause the world to lose about 3 percent of its economic output. So if we do not take measures to ameliorate global warming, the world should expect to be about 3 percent poorer sometime in the 22nd century than it otherwise would be. This is very far from the rhetoric of global destruction. Because of its geographical position and mix of economic activities, the United States is expected to experience no net economic costs from such warming through the end of this century, and to begin experiencing net costs only thereafter.

A government program to force emissions reductions to avoid some of these potential future losses would impose a cost of its own: the loss in consumption we would experience if we used less energy, substituted higher-cost sources of energy for fossil fuels, and paid for projects — which are termed “offsets” — to ameliorate the effect of emissions (an example would be planting lots of trees). It’s complicated to estimate the cost of an emissions-reduction program, but the leading economists in this area generally agree that it would be large, and that we should simply let most emissions happen, because it would be more expensive to avoid them than to accept the damage they would cause. This makes sense, if you consider that most such plans (for example, Waxman-Markey) call for eliminating something like 80 percent of carbon emissions within the next 40 years or so. Even if the economy becomes more efficient over this period, such a quick transition away from our primary fossil-fuel sources will be expensive.

If a) the total potential benefit of emissions abatement is about 3 percent of economic output more than 100 years from now, b) we can avoid only some of this damage, and c) it’s expensive to prevent those emissions that we can prevent, the net benefit of emissions reduction will likely be a very small fraction of total economic output. William Nordhaus, who heads the widely respected environmental-economics-modeling group at Yale, estimates the total expected net benefit of an optimally designed, implemented, and enforced global program to be equal to the present value of about 0.2 percent of future global economic consumption. In the real world of domestic politics and geostrategic competition, it is not realistic to expect that we would ever have an optimally designed, implemented, and enforced global system, and the side deals made to put in place even an imperfect system would likely have costs that would dwarf 0.2 percent of global economic consumption. The expected benefits of emissions mitigation do not cover its expected costs. This is the root reason that proposals to mitigate emissions have such a hard time justifying themselves economically.

The mechanism for mitigation proposed in the Waxman-Markey bill is a “cap and trade” plan. The idea is quite simple: The government sets a fixed annual limit to total carbon-dioxide emissions and distributes ration cards for the right to emit a portion of this amount (that’s the “cap”); it also allows those who receive ration cards to sell them (that’s the “trade”). Now, “distributes” is an artfully chosen word: How would the government decide who gets the ration cards? One method is to sell them; another is to give them away, theoretically based on some objective criterion such as historical emissions, but in practice more likely based on campaign contributions. Waxman-Markey doesn’t specify how the distributing is to be accomplished. The Obama administration expects to sell ration cards, bringing the government $80 billion a year in revenue over the next decade. This revenue represents a cost increase for more or less any company that uses lots of fossil-fuel energy in one way or another (i.e., most of the economy). Like all raw-material cost increases, these will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices. So in reality this is a backdoor tax on energy that conscripts private companies into being collection agents.

Would these costs be justified by the benefits we could expect Waxman-Markey to create? No, for the reasons outlined above.



We all know that the financial stakes are enormous in the global warming debate — many oil, coal and power companies are at risk should carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases get regulated in a manner that harms their bottom line. The potential losses of an Exxon or a Shell are chump change, however, compared to the fortunes to be made from those very same regulations.

The climate-change industry — the scientists, lawyers, consultants, lobbyists and, most importantly, the multinationals that work behind the scenes to cash in on the riches at stake — has emerged as the world’s largest industry. Virtually every resident in the developed world feels the bite of this industry, often unknowingly, through the hidden surcharges on their food bills, their gas and electricity rates, their gasoline purchases, their automobiles, their garbage collection, their insurance, their computers purchases, their hotels, their purchases of just about every good and service, in fact, and finally, their taxes to governments at all levels.

These extractions do not happen by accident. Every penny that leaves the hands of consumers does so by design, the final step in elaborate and often brilliant orchestrations of public policy, all the more brilliant because the public, for the most part, does not know who is profiteering on climate change, or who is aiding and abetting the profiteers.

Some of the climate-change profiteers are relatively unknown corporations; others are household names with only their behind-the-scenes role in the climate-change industry unknown. Over the next few weeks, in an extended newspaper series, you will become familiar with some of the profiteers, and with their machinations. This series begins with Enron, a pioneer in the climate-change industry.

Almost two decades before President Barack Obama made “cap-and-trade” for carbon dioxide emissions a household term, an obscure company called Enron — a natural-gas pipeline company that had become a big-time trader in energy commodities — had figured out how to make millions in a cap-and-trade program for sulphur dioxide emissions, thanks to changes in the U.S. government’s Clean Air Act. To the delight of shareholders, Enron’s stock price rose rapidly as it became the major trader in the U.S. government’s $20-billion a year emissions commodity market.

Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay, keen to engineer an encore, saw his opportunity when Bill Clinton and Al Gore were inaugurated as president and vice-president in 1993. To capitalize on Al Gore’s interest in global warming, Enron immediately embarked on a massive lobbying effort to develop a trading system for carbon dioxide, working both the Clinton administration and Congress. Political contributions and Enron-funded analyses flowed freely, all geared to demonstrating a looming global catastrophe if carbon dioxide emissions weren’t curbed. An Enron-funded study that dismissed the notion that calamity could come of global warming, meanwhile, was quietly buried.

To magnify the leverage of their political lobbying, Enron also worked the environmental groups. Between 1994 and 1996, the Enron Foundation donated $1-million to the Nature Conservancy and its Climate Change Project, a leading force for global warming reform, while Lay and other individuals associated with Enron donated $1.5-million to environmental groups seeking international controls on carbon dioxide.

The intense lobbying paid off. Lay became a member of president Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development, as well as his friend and advisor. In the summer of 1997, prior to global warming meetings in Kyoto, Japan, Clinton sought Lay’s advice in White House discussions. The fruits of Enron’s efforts came soon after, with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol.

An internal Enron memo, sent from Kyoto by John Palmisano, a former Environmental Protection Agency regulator who had become Enron’s lead lobbyist as senior director for Environmental Policy and Compliance, describes the historic corporate achievement that was Kyoto.

“If implemented this agreement will do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring of the energy and natural-gas industries in Europe and the United States,” Polisano began. “The potential to add incremental gas sales, and additional demand for renewable technology is enormous.”

The memo, entitled “Implications of the Climate Change Agreement in Kyoto & What Transpired,” summarized the achievements that Enron had accomplished. “I do not think it is possible to overestimate the importance of this year in shaping every aspect of this agreement,” he wrote, citing three issues of specific importance to Enron which would become, as those following the climate-change debate in detail now know, the biggest money plays: the rules governing emissions trading, the rules governing transfers of emission reduction rights between countries, and the rules governing a gargantuan clean energy fund.



As government representatives head for the next round of UN climate talks in Bonn starting Monday, hopes for an agreement that would avert catastrophic climate change are being seriously undermined by the developed world in two key areas: targets for emissions cuts and finance for developing world mitigation and adaption, Greenpeace said today.

Developing countries – such as China - are showing the willingness to take real action, provided that industrialised countries show leadership. However, a small group of rich countries are placing the climate in peril because of their lack of commitment to make dramatic cuts in emissions. Most notable is the US, closely followed by Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“If the US doesn’t strengthen its position significantly, President Obama will put a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen at risk,” said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace International. Kaiser warned, however, that the weak US position should not be used as an excuse for inaction by other developed countries.



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 is a mirror of this site here.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Their track record shows up forecasters

An email from Mark Lawson [], an editor at The Australian Financial Review. He is commenting on an emailed draft of the confident but poorly supported forecasts by enthusiastic Warmist Andrew Glikson. Glikson seems to think that a lot of pretty graphs will be enough to make his arguments convincing

As forecasts of varying quality are the bread and butter of business journalism, I believe I can offer a few comments.

Firstly, almost everyone but climate scientists have abandoned forecasting of complex systems. I would be interested to hear of any complex system in science, aside from day-to-day forecasts in meterology, where forecasting is of any use. But certainly in disciplines everywhere - demography, the social sciences, economics and in particular in business, long-term forecasting has been largely abandoned. In the exceptions in science that I know of, such as astronomy or quantum mechanics (for the later I'm talking about lab results, not forecasts as such), scientists can point to track records.

Outside of those fields it's harder. If say a business wants to forecast what might happen in its field, such as telecommunications, one of the approaches may be to construct a series of scenarios and then try and match current developments in the field with those scenarios, or wait a year of two and see what's happening.

Okay, so what's happening with the earth? If we look at the recent results from Hadley without benefit of extensive training in climatology it looks as if temperatures are coming off a peak. No tipping point in sight. Yes there is a distinct increase in temperatures in previous decades, but one of the rules of forecasting is that achievements must be measured against data unknown at the time of the forecast. In that run up, the rate of increases might have briefly touched 0.3 degrees centigrade a decade. Forecasts in 2001 and 2007 by the IPCC pointed to top range increases at the rate of 0.6 degrees and 0.45 degrees centigrade a decade respectively (in other words, an acceleration), and a bottom range of around 0.1 degrees a decade. The actual result is now well into negative territory.

In short to speak convincingly of tipping points, one has to point to a forecasting track record, and it isn't there. For that matter the climate models at the centre of all the fuss have yet to demonstrate any real success in modeling known climate changes outside the past 100 years or so.

What of all this talk about melting glaciers etc? Is any of that showing up in the figures? A glance at the sea height data compiled by the University of Colorado through various satellites doesn't show anything much, and certainly no marked acceleration.

Glikson does say this: "Given that warnings by scientists have proven mostly correct, as contrasted with watered-down reports percolating upward through bureaucracies, there is little evidence the authorities are listening to the recent dire warnings by climate scientists [16]."

What warnings have proved correct? Footnote 16 is a reference to an article in the West Australian newspaper about scientists asking a coal plant operator to shut up shop to save the planet. Before we pay much attention to Dr Glikson's erudite discussion concerning future tipping points, we need to examine what forecasts, if any, have proven correct, given that the major forecasts have failed dismally. Until there is more of a track record, I would ask him nicely not to clutter up the newsroom.

Another comment on Glikson from John C. Menzies []:

I wonder if Dr Glikson can answer the following: Dr Glikson could you please provide a statistical argument for your statement: "Since the mid-1990s the mean global temperature trend has become increasingly irregular, representing an increase in climate variability with global warming,....."

From this data temperature looks pretty irregular most of the time.

Glacial cycles unpredictable

Sounds like this guy should have got the Warmists and their "models" to do his predictions for him. They would have solved all his problems for him in two ticks

How glacial-interglacial cycles and the long-term variability of sea level depend on the amount of energy received by Earth from the Sun is unclear. Thomas et al. report results from fossil corals found in Tahiti that indicate that sea level began to rise when insolation at 65° North latitude was near a minimum, not after it had begun to rise, as predicted by the Milankovitch theory. In contrast, the timing of the last deglaciation agrees well with the Milankovitch theory. Thus, glacial cycles do not behave as simply as the Milankovitch theory suggests.


Journal abstract follows:

Penultimate Deglacial Sea-Level Timing from Uranium/Thorium Dating of Tahitian Corals

By Alex L. Thomas et al.

The timing of sea-level change provides important constraints on the mechanisms driving Earth’s climate between glacial and interglacial states. Fossil corals constrain the timing of past sea level by their suitability for dating and their growth position close to sea level. The coral-derived age for the last deglaciation is consistent with climate change forced by Northern Hemisphere summer insolation (NHI), but the timing of the penultimate deglaciation is more controversial. We found, by means of uranium/thorium dating of fossil corals, that sea level during the penultimate deglaciation had risen to ~85 meters below the present sea level by 137,000 years ago, and that it fluctuated on a millennial time scale during deglaciation. This indicates that the penultimate deglaciation occurred earlier with respect to NHI than the last deglacial, beginning when NHI was at a minimum.

Science Vol. 324. no. 5931, pp. 1186 - 1189


By Roger Pielke, Jr.

I am quoted in today’s NYT on a new report issued by the Global Humanitarian Forum which makes the absurd claim that 315,000 deaths a year can be attributed to the effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations. Here is what I said:
Roger A. Pielke Jr., a political scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who studies disaster trends, said the forum’s report was “a methodological embarrassment” because there was no way to distinguish deaths or economic losses related to human-driven global warming amid the much larger losses resulting from the growth in populations and economic development in vulnerable regions. Dr. Pielke said that “climate change is an important problem requiring our utmost attention.” But the report, he said, “will harm the cause for action on both climate change and disasters because it is so deeply flawed.”

Strong comments I know. Shoddy work on disasters and climate change is the norm, unfortunately, and something I’ve been closely following for well over a decade. I have no illusions that this latest concoction will be repeatedly cited regardless.

Below are my comments to the NYT upon reading the report (cleaned up and formatted). Caution, strong views ahead.
Let me apologize for the length of this reply. But it is important to be clear and to set the record straight.

Let me say first that human-caused climate change is an important problem requiring our utmost attention. Second, the effects of disasters, particularly in poorer countries, is also an important problem that to some degree has been overlooked, as I have argued for many years.

However, I cannot express how strongly I feel that this report has done a disservice to both issues. It is a methodological embarrassment and poster child for how to lie with statistics. The report will harm the cause for action on both climate change and disasters because it is so deeply flawed.

It will give ammunition to those opposed to action and divert attention away from the people who actually need help in the face of disasters, yet through this report have been reduced to a bloodless statistic for use in the promotional battle over climate policies. The report is worse than fiction, it is a lie. These are strong words I know.

1. Let me first start by noting that the same group that did the analysis for the UN, the Geo-Risks group in Munich Re, earlier this year published a peer-reviewed paper arguing that the signal of human-caused climate change could not presently be seen in the loss data on disasters. They wrote (emphasis added):
It should be noted when assessing the results of both this paper and Schmidt et al. (2008) that it is generally difficult to obtain valid quantitative findings about the role of socioeconomics and climate change in loss increases. This is because of criteria such as the stochastic nature of weather extremes, a shortage of quality data, and the role of various other potential factors that act in parallel and interact. We therefore regard our results as being an indication only of the extent to which socio-economic and climate changes account for the increase in losses. Both studies confirm the consensus reached in May 2006 at the international workshop in Hohenkammer attended by leading experts on climate change and natural catastrophe losses.

I co-organized the Hohenkammer workshop (referred to in the quote above) with Peter Hoeppe of Munich Re and that workshop concluded (among other things):
Due to data-quality issues, the stochastic nature of extreme event impacts, the lengths of the time series, and various societal factors present in the disaster loss records, it is still not possible to determine what portion of the increase in damage may be due to climate changes caused by GHG emissions.


The quantitative link (attribution) between storm/flood loss trends and GHG-induced climate changes is unlikely to be determined unequivocally in the near future.

On p. 84 the GHF report itself says:
However, there is not yet any widely accepted global estimate of the share of weather related disasters that are attributable to climate change.

One would think that would be the end of the story. However, to fill in for the fact that there is no accepted estimate, the report conjures up a number using an approach that is grounded in neither logic, science, or common sense.

2. Specifically, to get around the fact that there has been no attribution of the relationship of GHG emissions and disasters, this report engages in a very strange comparison of earthquake and weather disasters in 1980 and 2005. The first question that comes to mind is, why? They are comparing phenomena with many “moving parts” over a short time frame, and attributing 100% of the resulting difference to human-caused climate change. This boggles the mind. The IPCC itself says that 30 years are needed for the detection of changes in the climate system, and this time frame does not even reach that threshold. More to the point earthquakes and weather events do not have the same variability and earthquake disasters affect only a small part of the total inhabited area of the earth, whereas weather disasters occur much more widely. The assumption that weather disasters should track earthquake disasters is flawed from the outset for both geophysical and socio-economic reasons.

An alternative, more scientifically robust approach would be to look specifically at weather-related disasters, and consider the role of socio-economic changes, and to the extent possible, try to remove that signal and see what trends remain. When that has been done, in every case (US floods, hurricanes, Australia, India TCs, Latin America and elsewhere, all in the peer-reviewed literature) there is not a remaining signal of increasing disasters. In other words, the increase in disasters observed worldwide can be entirely attributed to socio-economic changes. This is what has been extensively documented in the peer reviewed literature, and yet — none of this literature is cited in this report. None of it! Instead they rely on this cooked up comparison between earthquakes and weather related disasters.

(Consider also that in no continental location has there been an observed increase in tropical cyclone landfalls, and yet this accounts for almost all of the windstorm disasters cited in the report. The increase must therefore be due to factors other than geophysical changes. This fact renders the comparison with earthquakes even more meaningless).

Munich Re’s own peer-reviewed work supports the fact that socio-economic factors can explain the entire increase in global disasters in recent decades.
Consider that in 2005 there were 11 earthquakes magnitude 7 or higher and in 1980 there were 14. by contrast, 1980 was a quiet weather year, and 2005 was very active, and included Katrina.


3. The report cites and undates the Stern Review Report estimates of disaster losses, however, in a peer-reviewed paper I showed that these estimates were off by an order of magnitude and relied on a similar sort of statistical gamesmanship to develop its results (and of course this critique was ignored):

Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2007. Mistreatment of the economic impacts of extreme events in the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, Global Environmental Change, 17:302-310. (PDF)

This report is an embarrassment to the GHF and to those who have put their names on it as representing a scientifically robust analysis. It is not even close.


Climate smart aid is anything but

International organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations are supposed to help the world’s poor escape poverty, but fully convinced they are doing good, these development agencies are pushing an anti-development agenda.

Now here’s an inconvenient truth: curbing the planet’s carbon footprint necessarily slows economic growth, the primary engine of human well-fare. International aid organizations need to carefully consider the impact of the climate “solutions” they advocate, lest they do more harm than good.

The International Energy Agency estimates that it would cost $45 trillion through 2050 to mitigate global warming through efforts aimed at “greening” the global economy. Most of that would be spent in developing countries, to prevent them from fueling their growing economies with hydrocarbon energy sources like coal and oil. These fossil fuels are cheap and still plentiful, but burning them to create energy frees the CO² they store, contributing to climate change.

Raising hundreds of billions of dollars a year to finance a global green energy revolution is a key component of current negotiations for a successor climate treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas recently declared, “No money, no deal.” And clean energy aid was a topic of discussion at last month’s Major Economies Meeting, hosted by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Naturally, international aid agencies are jockeying for position to broker this wealth transfer.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that his organization is the “natural arena” for coordinated international action on climate change. To that end the U.N. operates two programs to facilitate the flow of climate mitigation aid to developing countries—the Global Environment Facility and the Clean Development Mechanism.

Not to be outdone, the World Bank recently unveiled a “Strategic Framework” for global warming and development that calls for “unprecedented global cooperation” for the “transfer of finance and technology from developed to developing countries.” The Bank established a Carbon Finance Unit and several Carbon Investment Funds to distribute climate change mitigation aid.

Besides the inefficiencies inherent to duplicative bureaucracies, there are major problems with this “climate smart” approach to development. For starters, it is unlikely that Western bureaucrats can create a green energy infrastructure in developing countries. The history of development assistance is littered with abandoned projects backed by the best of intentions. Already there is evidence that climate aid is more of the same.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, for example, companies subject to climate regulations can meet their carbon “cap” by paying for emissions reduction projects in developing countries. According to the journal Nature, the U.N. certified $6 billions’ worth of emissions “savings” for reductions in HFC-23, a potent greenhouse gas. Yet removing the HFC-23 cost $130 million. That’s a lot of waste.

There are also ethical considerations. A coal-fired power plant may offend environmentalist sensibilities, but it would be a blessing for the almost 2 billion people in the world today who use charcoal, dung, and wood to heat and cook.

In his book, Global Crises, Global Solutions, Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg persuasively argues that humanity faces many problems that are more pressing than warming decades down the road. After all, what good is a slightly cooler planet a century from now to a child dying of malaria today? In terms of saving lives, Lomborg shows why climate change mitigation is an inferior, albeit far less ‘sexy’, investment to water sanitation and halting disease.

Aid agencies should also consider forgone economic development. The U.N. and the World Bank want to redistribute trillions of dollars to create new green energy infrastructure whereas in the free market these scarce resources would be allocated to create wealth. In a globalized world, inefficiencies of this magnitude lower the tide and all boats with it.

Slowing economic growth has very real human consequences, such as fewer schools, worse health care, and lower environmental quality. That’s why a richer-but-warmer future is better for human well being than a poorer-but-cooler future, according to Indur Goklany, author of The Improving State of the World.

Instead of economically harmful global warming policies, development agencies should concentrate their considerable institutional knowledge on advancing pro-growth policies, like trade liberalization. Today, free trade needs an influential booster like the World Bank. Energy intensive export industries in developing countries are threatened by carbon taxes imposed by rich countries, under the pretext of fighting climate change. Retaliatory tariffs would be likely, which could easily escalate into a global trade war.

That would be a tragedy. By allowing developing countries to use their comparative advantage—inexpensive labor—international free trade has proven the fastest route out of poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

To avoid giving atmospheric chemistry priority over human welfare, the aid industry should ensure that the risks of global warming policies are considered as rigorously as the risks of global warming itself.


Warmism: A vitriolic climate in the academic hothouse

By Ian Plimer, emeritus professor of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Plimer once again has the temerity to mention some of the "missing facts" that Warmists ignore

It is well known that many university staff list to port and try to engineer a brave new world. The cash cow climate institutes now seem to be drowning in their own self-importance. In a wonderful gesture of public spiritedness, seven academics who include three lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a former director of the World Climate Research Program wrote to Australian power generating companies on April 29 instructing them to cease and desist creating electricity from coal.

In their final paragraph, they state with breathtaking arrogance: "The unfortunate reality is that genuine action on climate change will require the existing coal-fired power stations to cease operating in the near future. "We feel it is vital that you understand this and we are happy to work with you and with governments to begin planning for this transition immediately. "The warming of the atmosphere, driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases, is already causing unacceptable damage and suffering around the world."

No evidence is provided for this statement and no signatory to this letter has published anything to support this claim.

These university staff are unctuously understanding about the plight of those who face employment extinction in the smokestack towns of Australia. They write: "We understand that this will require significant social and economic transition that will need to be managed carefully to care for coal sector workers and coal-dependent communities.". This love for fellow workers brings tears to the eyes.

The electricity generating companies should reply by cutting off the power to academics' homes and host institutions, forcing our ideologues to lead by example. Some 80 per cent of Australia's electricity derives from coal, large volumes of cheap electricity underpin employment and our self-appointed concerned citizens offer no suggestion for alternative unsubsidised base-load power sources to employ Australians.

The Emissions Trading Scheme legislation poises Australia to make the biggest economic decision in its history, yet there has been no scientific due diligence. There has never been a climate change debate in Australia. Only dogma. To demonise element number six in the periodic table is amusing. Why not promethium? Carbon dioxide is an odourless, colourless, harmless natural gas. It is plant food. Without carbon, there would be no life on Earth.

The original source of atmospheric CO2 is volcanoes. The Earth's early atmosphere had a thousand times the CO2 of today's atmosphere. This CO2 was recycled through rocks, life and the oceans. Through time, this CO2 has been sequestered into plants, coal, petroleum, minerals and carbonate rocks, resulting in a decrease in atmospheric CO2. The atmosphere now contains 800 billion tonnes of carbon as CO2. Soils and plants contain 2000 billion tonnes, oceans 39,000 billion tonnes and limestone 65,000,000 billion tonnes. The atmosphere contains only 0.001 per cent of the total carbon in the top few kilometres of the Earth.

Deeper in Earth, there are huge volumes of CO2 yet to be leaked into the atmosphere. So depleted is the atmosphere in CO2, that horticulturalists pump warm CO2 into glasshouses to accelerate plant growth.

The first 50 parts per million of CO2 operates as a powerful greenhouse gas. After that, CO2 has done its job, which is why there has been no runaway greenhouse in the past when CO2 was far higher. During previous times of high CO2, there were climate cycles driven by galactic forces, the sun, Earth's orbit, tides and random events such as volcanoes. These forces still operate. Why should such forces disappear just because we humans live on Earth?

The fundamental questions remain unanswered. A change of 1 per cent in cloudiness can account for all changes measured during the past 150 years, yet cloud measurements are highly inaccurate. Why is the role of clouds ignored? Why is the main greenhouse gas (water vapour) ignored? The limitation of temperature in hot climates is evaporation yet this ignored in catastrophist models.

Why are balloon and satellite measurements showing cooling ignored yet unreliable thermometer measurements used? Is the increase in atmospheric CO2 really due to human activities? Ice cores show CO2 increases some 800 years after temperature increase so why can't an increase in CO2 today be due to the medieval warming (900-1300)? If increased concentrations of CO2 increase temperature, why have there been coolings during the past 150 years?

Some 85 per cent of volcanoes are unseen and unmeasured yet these heat the oceans and add monstrous amounts of CO2 to the oceans. Why have these been ignored? Why have there been five significant ice ages when CO2 was higher than now? Why were warmings in Minoan, Roman and medieval times natural, yet a smaller warming at the end of the 20th century was due to human activities? If climate changed at the end of the Little Ice Age (c.1850), is it unusual for warming to follow?

Computer models using the past 150 years of measurements have been used to predict climate for the next few centuries. Why have these models not been run backwards to validate known climate changes? I would bet the farm that by running these models backwards, El Nino events and volcanoes such as Krakatoa (1883, 535), Rabaul (536) and Tambora (1815) could not be validated.

In my book, I correctly predicted the response. The science would not be discussed, there would be academic nit-picking and there would be vitriolic ad hominem attacks by pompous academics out of contact with the community. Comments by critics suggest that few have actually read the book and every time there was a savage public personal attack, book sales rose. A political blog site could not believe that such a book was selling so well and suggested that my publisher, Connor Court, was a front for the mining or pastoral industry.

This book has struck a nerve. Although accidentally timely, there are a large number of punters who object to being treated dismissively as stupid, who do not like being told what to think, who value independence, who resile from personal attacks and have life experiences very different from the urban environmental atheists attempting to impose a new fundamentalist religion.

Green politics have taken the place of failed socialism and Western Christianity and impose fear, guilt, penance and indulgences on to a society with little scientific literacy. We are now reaping the rewards of politicising science and dumbing down the education system. If book sales, public meetings, book launches, email and phone messages are any indication, there is a large body of disenfranchised folk out there who feel helpless. I have shown that the emperor has no clothes. This is why the attacks are so vitriolic.



Environment Minister Jim Prentice says Canadian industrial emitters might not face greenhouse gas limits for another six years. The government is delaying the development of regulations until next year, in order to match a proposed U.S. timetable. It's a far cry from the Conservative government's former "Made in Canada" climate change plan that was supposed to come into force on Jan. 1, 2010.

Prentice, speaking to reporters by conference call from London, said regulations for big industrial emitters will have to be harmonized with U.S. rules in order to protect Canadian jobs and investments.

The current American timetable won't see anything taking effect until between 2012 and 2016. Former Tory environment minister John Baird said last year that his government was taking real action and that rules would come into force next Jan. 1.



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 is a mirror of this site here.


Friday, May 29, 2009


An email from Norm Kalmanovitch []:

The CO2 molecule is linear and symmetrical and therefore doesn’t have a permanent dipole moment, thus limiting its effect on the Earth’s thermal radiation to a single vibrational bend mode centred at 14.77microns. Spectral measurements of the Earth’s thermal radiation clearly show that this effect is near saturation within this band and further increases in atmospheric CO2 can only have an exponentially diminishing effect on the small amount of energy remaining in this band.

The greenhouse effect from the current atmospheric concentration of 386ppmv CO2 is less than 10% of the Earth’s total greenhouse effect of 34°C. Because this radiative band is near saturated, a doubling of CO2 could only add an additional 0.3°C to the 3.4°C greenhouse effect already caused by the current level of CO2. (This is a maximum value with a more likely computed value being less than 0.1°C.)

The IPCC 2007 Fourth Assessment Report states that models predict forcing of 3.71watts/m2 for a doubling of CO2 Using the stated conversion to temperature of 1watt/m2 giving rise to an increase in global temperature of 0.75°C, the IPCC predicts warming from a doubling of CO2 of 2.78°C.

Physics and observational measurement predict 0.3°C but models predict 2.78°C; a value over nine times greater than what would be deemed physically possible.

Atmospheric CO2 is increasing at a rate of 2ppmv/year. At this rate a doubling from the current level of 386ppmv will occur by the year 2202, and the IPCC predicts that the temperature will be 2.78°C warmer 193 from now.

The global temperature has been dropping at a rate of 0.025°C per year since 2002. If we project this 193 years into the future, the world will be 4.83°C cooler than today. If we remove the warming effect from CO2 increases as predicted by the IPCC models this will be reduced to just 2.05°C of cooling, instead of the 4.53°C of cooling that would be predicted using the actual physical values for the effect of CO2 instead of the contrived values from the models.

Either way, unless there is some way to predict that this current cooling trend will end before 2202, there is no possible global warming threat for at least the next 193 years regardless of how much CO2 gets pumped into the atmosphere.

It boggles the mind to know that the world leaders are ignoring all physical evidence and are willing to sacrifice the global economies based on nothing more than speculative rhetoric from mindless climate alarmists.

Climate change 'kills 315,000 a year'

Since there has been no global warming for the last 10 years, the article below is propaganda that would make the old Soviet disinformation practitioners proud. But it is only for those who want to believe. Blind Freddy knows that winter is the time of most illness so any warming would save lives

CLIMATE change kills about 315,000 people a year through hunger, sickness and weather disasters, and the annual death toll is expected to rise to half a million by 2030. A study commissioned by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, estimates that climate change seriously affects 325 million people every year, a number that will more than double in 20 years to 10 per cent of the world's population (now about 6.7 billion).

Economic losses due to global warming amount to over $125 billion ($160 billion) annually - more than the flow of aid from rich to poor nations - and are expected to rise to $340 billion ($345 billion) each year by 2030, according to the report. "Climate change is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time, causing suffering to hundreds of millions of people worldwide," Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general and GHF president, said. "The first hit and worst affected are the world's poorest groups, and yet they have done least to cause the problem."

The report says developing countries bear more than nine-tenths of the human and economic burden of climate change, while the 50 poorest countries contribute less than one percent of the carbon emissions that are heating up the planet.

Mr Annan urged governments due to meet at UN talks in Copenhagen in December to agree on an effective, fair and binding global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, the world's main mechanism for tackling global warming. "Copenhagen needs to be the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated," he wrote in an introduction to the report. "The alternative is mass starvation, mass migration and mass sickness."

The study warns that the true human impact of global warming is likely to be far more severe than it predicts, because it uses conservative UN scenarios. New scientific evidence points to greater and more rapid climate change.

The report calls for a particular focus on the 500 million people it identifies as extremely vulnerable because they live in poor countries most prone to droughts, floods, storms, sea-level rise and creeping deserts. Africa is the region most at risk from climate change, home to 15 of the 20 most vulnerable countries, the report says. Other areas also facing the highest level of threat include South Asia and small island developing states.

To avoid the worst outcomes, the report says efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change must be scaled up 100 times in developing countries. International funds pledged for this purpose amount to only $400 million ($510 miilion), compared with an average estimated cost of $32 billion ($40 billion) annually, it notes.


VIDEO interview with Professor Ian Plimer, "Author of Heaven and Earth - Global Warming, The Missing Science"

In an extensive interview with Professor Plimer, Carlton takes the pragmatist's chair and speaks with the author about the new book.

Challenging the Climate Change status quo, Plimer reveals why he thinks that the new Climate Change Religion is a "load of hot air".

"Well, I am not skeptical about climate change at all. Climates always change, they always have and they always will, and that's in many ways the purpose of the book, that if you ignore history you come up with a conclusion that just doesn't fit in with the evidence. And that is, that we are suddenly in a period where climates change. We're not! Climates always change, they've changed much quicker and much greater than anything we measure today."

Ian Rutherford Plimer is an Australian geologist and academic. He is a prominent critic of creationism and of the theory of anthropogenic global warming. He has authored approximately 60 academic papers over 36 years, and six books.

Video here


EU ministers responsible for industry, trade and research are due to agree a new approach to industrial policy that takes greater care of key sectors such as the chemicals and automotive industries as Europe battles through its worst economic recession since the 1930s. Germany in particular reckons that all additional environmental legislation should be put on ice until economic conditions return to normal, according to one senior diplomatic source.

The REACH regulation on chemicals and the extension of carbon dioxide emission limits to light duty vehicles in the automotive sector were both cited as areas where industry will be offered special treatment. The aim is to soften the impact of Europe's strict environmental rules as industries fight their way through the economic recession.

Draft conclusions of the ministerial meeting point to the risk that "regulatory burdens could lead to 'production leakage', notably in the present economic crisis". The term refers to the risk that manufacturing industries might relocate abroad due to strict environmental rules in Europe (see EurActiv LinksDossier on 'carbon leakage'). "Compliance with new requirements should not cause excessive costs to businesses in all policy areas," the draft conclusions read.

"The conclusions [...] will contain horizontal measures targeting all industrial sectors and particular measures for specific sectors (chemicals, cars, the electric and electro-technical industries) following recently concluded work on these sectors by various high-level groups," according to a statement by the Czech EU Presidency.

"At the same time, the conclusions will acknowledge that focused and coordinated measures may be extended to cover other sectors of the economy facing the consequences of the economic crisis," the statement adds.

This sectoral approach to industrial policy seems to find consensus among EU member states. "We need to have concrete measures, sector-by-sector," said a diplomat from one of the larger EU member states. "We will welcome European action along those lines," said another.



Rural Democrats are threatening to vote against climate change legislation unless the Environmental Protection Agency halts new proposals that could hamper the development of corn ethanol.

Ethanol has long been an energy third rail in Congress, with lawmakers — particularly those from the Midwest and other states with large agricultural industries — clamoring to support the biofuel both to transition away from foreign energy and to support rural economies. But in recent years, environmentalists, livestock producers and grocery manufacturers have raised concerns about the fuel, claiming that it threatens to exacerbate global warming and that it raises food prices...

Peterson and the 26 Democrats on his committee say they will vote against climate change legislation passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week unless it better addresses several concerns raised by farmers, including reversing the EPA decision.

The issue could be even dicier in the Senate, where Democrats most likely need almost every Democratic vote to pass a climate change bill. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and 12 other farm-state senators sent a letter in March asking the EPA to refrain from including the effects of indirect land-use changes in their calculations; the agency has not yet responded, Harkin said last week.



ATTEMPTS to toughen carbon emissions targets were rejected by MSPs yesterday. Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes called for Scotland's climate change laws to include a target of 3 per cent annual emissions reductions. This was rejected by members of Holyrood's Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee.

As the climate bill stands, the draft laws will only bring in annual 3 per cent reduction targets from 2020.

Campaign group Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said the lack of early action in the current draft legislation "put at risk" hopes that it would be "world leading".

MSPs also voted against an amendment by Green MSP Robin Harper to increase the 2050 target for emissions reductions from 80 to 90 per cent.


"Green" Labor party trading Australia's future away with very poor politics

Piers Akerman

CLIMATE Change Minister Penny Wong says the Federal Government is determined “to keep, continue to press forward” on emissions trading legislation because “it is the right thing to do”.

No, it is the Wong thing to do.

Of all the useless things the Rudd Labor Government has proposed - and we could cite many - the ETS is the most dangerous and damaging to Australia. Yet an ETS would not alter the climate. That Wong is flying the flag for this meaningless gesture and is prepared to sacrifice the jobs of Australians to this empty goal is the height of vanity politics. Both the Government and the Opposition claim they want to give “business” certainty so it can plan for the future. They should think of their other constituents.

The “business” community has no natural national interest. It has shown time and time again, through companies like Bonds or James Hardie, that it is prepared to take jobs offshore if the bottom line is at stake. Their responsibility is to shareholders, not citizens. Strip away business arguments and the proposed ETS legislation is exposed as futile. It won’t affect the Great Barrier Reef, as Kevin Rudd claimed. Or put more water in the Murray-Darling or change the weather.

The Government’s claim that the Great Barrier Reef would be saved if Australians sacrificed the equivalent of $1-a-day is an absolute nonsense. Every MP who spouts this bilge should have their mouths rinsed out with untreated effluent and be charged with false advertising. It is just not true.

What it will do is take jobs away from the mining sector at the very time Australians are looking to the miners to rebuild the economy. It will drive energy-intensive industries offshore to developing nations.

The legislation is based on the assumption that human activity is a major factor in climate change. This remains unproven and contentious, although the Rudd Government does not want to engage in this debate. Instead, it has put forward a model for an ETS that is among the most ambitious in the world. It would require that 70 per cent of carbon permits be purchased. By comparison, the US is looking to have 15 per cent of permits purchased and the European model calls for 4 per cent of permits to be purchased. It can only be concluded from proposing such a fanciful target that the Rudd Government wants to grab the international spotlight when it goes to the Copenhagen summit at the end of this year.

But the assumptions behind the Rudd Government scheme only get worse, as it is based on the hope that the US would sign up to an equivalent scheme next year, China by 2015 and India by 2020. As Opposition spokesman on emissions trading Andrew Robb has said repeatedly, none of this is remotely possible.

Rudd and his ministers are trying to nail the Opposition for deferring this ridiculous legislation but it is the Labor Government which should be put through the wringer. Labor has been so delinquent in its role to present reasonable policy that it has not even factored the impact of the global financial crisis into its climate change proposal.

An analysis leaked from the NSW Government revealed all major regional centres - the Hunter, Gladstone, Central West Queensland, Illawarra, the Kimberley, Whyalla, Port Pirie, Geelong, Gippsland and parts of Tasmania - would shrink by 20 per cent or more under the scheme. Who do they really think they are kidding with their phony protestations of good governance and concern for the future? The flaws in the scheme are obvious. It is the greatest threat facing our economic recovery, and it is coming from Canberra.



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 is a mirror of this site here.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Green" technology gives China the whip-hand

JAPAN'S increasingly frantic efforts to lead the world in green technology have put it on a collision course with the ambitions of China and dragged both government and industry into the murky realm of large-scale mineral smuggling. The robust international trade in illegally mined, quota-busting rare-earth metals highlights China's near monopoly on the raw materials for environmental technology - a 95 per cent dominance of world supply that is likely to become more widely noticed as China tightens its grip.

The weight and magnetic properties of rare-earth metals have made them important for wind turbines, essential to hybrid cars, and indispensable if the world ever hopes to covert to fully electric vehicles.

One mining company president told The Times that governments that had promised a way out of economic turmoil with bold schemes to subsidise green cars, solar panels and other environmental technology had "spoken without understanding the upstream of modern products". Don Burbar, the chief executive of Avalon Rare Metals, said: "The crux of the matter is that there are now a lot of technologies that can't work without rare earths, and China is currently in effective control of the global supply. China has positioned itself to retain control, and meanwhile politicians around the world do not appreciate how the supply side of green technology works."

In Japan, the world's biggest importer of rare-earth metals, more than 10,000 tonnes per year about a fifth of the country's total annual consumption are thought to enter the country through a thriving black import network without which Japan would already be in a severe supply crisis, a senior government official said.

China has been lowering its export quotas for rare-earth metals by about 6 per cent annually since the start of the decade, with Japan expected to be allotted only 38,000 tonnes in 2009. Toyota and Honda alone will consume about that quantity and experts in Australia have predicted a wider global supply crunch within three years as demand surges beyond existing refinery and extraction capacity.

But rare-earth specialists at two of Japan's largest trading houses said that loopholes and smuggling substantially raise the quantities of rare metals that enter Japan each year. Kazunori Fukuda, deputy director of the non-ferrous metals division at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said: "If the Chinese export quota limits were the reality of what comes into Japan each year, we would be even more worried than we already are. All green technology depends on rare-earth metals and all global trade in rare earth depends on China."

Ginya Adachi, from the Japanese Rare Earth Association, said that China's dominance of rare earths would serve the developed world with a rude shock about global trade: Japan, America and Europe must now realise that some markets are not real, but political. But he added: "The Chinese Government wants full control but it doesn't have it. It is not in control of the rare-earths market in the same way that OPEC is in control of oil. Local miners will sell even if the government tries to control the price or the quotas."

The Japanese Government has begun looking for alternative supply sources in Vietnam and elsewhere; rare earths are not as rare as the name suggests. There are potential supplies around the world, but prospective miners in Australia and the US are experiencing financing difficulties and as soon as new facilities have emerged in Asia and elsewhere, Chinese companies have quickly become majority investors.



Among the many catastrophes that are to befall our world due to global warming, the imminent demise of coral reefs is one of the worst. According to climate change proponents, as waters warm the ocean's reefs will bleach out and die, leaving the seas aquatic deserts, devoid of life. Now comes news that scientists have discovered live, healthy corals on reefs already as hot as the oceans are supposed to get 100 years from now, according to IPCC predictions. Looks like the corals didn't read the IPCC reports.

Climate catastrophists have warned that more than half of the world's coral reefs could disappear in the next 50 years, in large part because of higher ocean temperatures caused by climate change. Supposedly, corals—tiny sea creatures that, working together, manage to build gigantic ocean reefs—are so delicate that a shift in water temperature of little more than 1 degree Celsius can cause them to whither and die. Corals create the most diverse ecosystems in the oceans: the beautiful and vibrant tropical reefs. If corals were to go extinct, the repercussions would likely affect all life on Earth.

Corals live in a symbiotic relationship with tiny, single-celled algae. It's a partnership, with the corals provide a home for the algae and the algae provide nourishment for the corals. Rising temperatures can stress the algae, causing them to stop producing food. The corals evict the deadbeat algae, spit them out to fend for themselves. Without their algal partners, the reefs die and turn stark white, an event referred to as coral bleaching.

In a report this month in Marine Ecology Progress Series, Stanford University scientists have found evidence that some coral reefs are adapting and may actually be able to shrug off the worst of the IPCC's predicted global warming. They discovered that some corals resist bleaching by hosting types of algae that can handle the heat, while others swap out the heat-stressed algae for tougher, heat-resistant strains.

“The most exciting thing was discovering live, healthy corals on reefs already as hot as the ocean is likely to get 100 years from now,” said Stephen Palumbi, a professor of biology and a senior fellow at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment. “Corals are certainly threatened by environmental change, but this research has really sparked the notion that corals may be tougher than we thought.”

For their investigations, Palumbi and Tom Oliver, a former student, traveled to Ofu Island in American Samoa. Ofu, a tropical coral reef marine reserve, has remained healthy despite gradually warming waters. In cooler lagoons, Oliver found only a handful of corals that host heat-resistant algae exclusively. But in hotter pools, he observed a direct increase in the proportion of heat-resistant symbionts, suggesting that some corals had swapped out the heat-sensitive algae for more robust types. “These findings show that, given enough time, many corals can match hotter environments by hosting heat-resistant symbionts,” Oliver explained.

The whole matter of coral delicacy is a bit puzzling, since reef building corals have been around since at least the Permian period. All corals in the sea, particularly the familiar kinds that form reefs, have hard external skeletons. In a 2006 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a team of researchers led by Allen Collins dated the origin of stony corals to between 240 and 288 million years ago, much more closely matching the fossil record of corals than earlier estimates.

This means that corals survived the worst ever mass extinction event in the history of Earth—the Permian-Triassic Extinction, 251 million years ago—and lived through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. During this span of nearly 200 million years, CO2 levels were 5-10 times higher than they are now with temperatures as much as 10ºC higher than today.. After surviving the event that killed off the dinosaurs, corals have remained the ocean's primary reef builders during the Cenozoic era, roughly the past 63 million years. Scientists should have known that any creatures who can live through all that are tough enough to put up with slight fluctuations in water temperature.


Corporate Sellouts on Global Warming

Communist Godfather Vladimir Lenin is alleged to have famously said, "The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."

Nowhere is that observation more relevant than in the sorry spectacle taking place in Congress as corporations, in exchange for short-term government handouts, fall over themselves to endorse a carbon dioxide regulation bill that will impose a crushing energy tax on the American people.

Sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), the "cap-and-trade" legislation, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act, would put a cost on carbon dioxide by imposing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. On May 22, the committee approved the legislation, which will be referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and other committees for consideration. The bill would establish a market in which regulated industries, such as the electric power and petrochemical sectors, would buy and sell allowances in an auction market. As the cap is reduced each year, companies that emit too much carbon dioxide would have to buy an ever-decreasing number of permits from "clean" companies with extra emissions credits.

Besides being complex, the Waxman-Markey bill would be enormously expensive for both companies and workers. A recent Heritage Foundation study estimated it would destroy over 1.1 million jobs, hike electricity rates 90 percent, and reduce the U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $10 trillion over the next 25 years.

That is why it is inexplicable that corporations, some of which used to be against such onerous environmental measures, are jumping on the "Green" bandwagon.

As is too often the case, the reason is that companies are selling out their long-term interests for short-term financial gain -- or at least what they perceive to be short-term gain. Instead of the companies having to buy all of their emissions permits, the government will give most of them away provided the recipient companies spend billions of dollars on supposedly cleaner technologies. In other words, it is a multi-billion dollar Green Bailout.

The list of corporate sellouts reads like a Who's-Who of the Fortune 500: General Motors, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, Alcoa, and Caterpillar. Wal-Mart has not officially endorsed the Waxman-Markey bill but is on record as supporting cap-and-trade in principle. This corporate support was pivotal in reviving a bill that appeared to be fatally stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In trying to get his bill reported out of the committee, Waxman ran into stiff opposition from about a dozen Democrats representing districts dependent on coal or petrochemical industries. With near-unanimous Republican opposition, Waxman was forced to make major changes in the bill to lessen the impact on energy-sensitive industries and woo back wayward Democrats.

The original bill, reflecting President Obama's goals, called for the government to sell off all 100 percent of the emissions credits. The idea was to raise $646 billion over ten years to help pay for Obama's massive expansion of government-run health care. The bill set a goal to cut carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020. However, several Democrats balked at a measure they feared would cost their districts jobs. These included Rick Boucher (D-VA), Gene Green (D-TX), and Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX).

The revised plan would cut greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. The most dramatic change, though, is in the allocation of credits. It would give away 85 percent of the emissions credits for free. That includes 35 percent for the electricity sector, 9 percent for natural gas companies, 3 percent for the auto industry, and 2 percent for oil refiners. All of the free credits will be phased out by 2025. The 15 percent of permits that will be auctioned off is expected to generate $12 billion in 2012, the first year the program could start working.

Free credits for the refiners was the price for winning the support of Texas Democrats Gonzalez and Green. John Dingell was won over because the auto industry's share of the permits is supposed to total $12 billion to $15 billion over the first six years of the trading program. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers praised the allocation of credits as an "encouraging" development.

However, the most dramatic reversal of position came from the utility industry. Given that half the nation's electricity is generated by coal, utility companies stand to get hit especially hard by a punitive program to reduce fossil fuel use. Thus, the industry has always been strongly opposed to any such measure. Not anymore. The utilities are estimated to get $21 billion in free credits in 2012. While not yet giving a full endorsement, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the utility trade association, says it is committed to seeing the bill passed. Said Jim Owen, EEI's media-relations director, "There are probably some things that different people want to see tweaked in the legislation, but…we would like to see it get into the end zone."

Individual power companies are publicly endorsing the Waxman bill. On May 19, David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, wrote a letter to Waxman praising his "admirable" leadership on the issue and said NRG "will do what we can to support you and your colleagues in advancing your critically important bill."

This was all the cover needed for coal-state Democrats to end their opposition to the bill. Rep. Boucher, who led the push for the allocation of credits to the utility companies, said that while he still has "remaining concerns," he is now "committed in the full committee to be supportive of this bill, to encourage others to be supportive."


House Democrats battle new emissions standards … again

Even as some House Democrats moved closer last week to installing first-of-a-kind limits on the carbon emissions blamed for global warming, others are in a full-court press to kill a separate White House effort to curb those same greenhouse gasses.

The episode is just the latest in a series of confrontations between liberal Democrats who favor strict emission-cutting reforms and a number of moderates who have sided with the various industries that would be affected by the changes. Unfortunately for environmentalists, the moderates, thus far, are winning the fight.

On Thursday, for example, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed sweeping climate change legislation sponsored by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) — but not before the proposal was diluted to satisfy panel Democrats representing the coal, oil and automobile industries. As a result of the changes, many environmental groups are opposing the Waxman bill outright.

In the latest episode, most members of the House Agricultural Committee contend that newly proposed White House emission rules for biofuel producers would hobble the industry and increase the nation’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. Similar to the earlier E&C debate — where key Democrats leveraged their votes in order to water down Waxman’s bill — many of the Democrats on the Agriculture panel are poised to join Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) in opposing the Waxman bill unless something is done to eliminate the biofuel rules being proposed by the White House.

The saga is emblematic of the difficulty facing environmentally minded lawmakers as they push reforms opposed by enormously influential industries like those found in the energy and agriculture sectors. It also highlights the difficulty of moving such reforms in the middle of a recession when any actions imposing additional costs on industry — even if they’re done in the name of public and global health — are quickly labeled job-killers. In what is quickly becoming a common theme in Washington, the Obama administration’s plans to cut emissions are running smack into an industry buzz saw that they just might not escape.

The new White House proposal, unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency this month, aims to shift the country away from foreign oil by mandating an increase in renewable fuel usage — to 36 billion gallons by 2022, up from 9 billion gallons in 2008. In a controversial move, EPA has also outlined a plan — mandated by Congress in 2007 — for ensuring that the shift to biofuels won’t unintentionally hike carbon emissions elsewhere. For example, there are fears that increasing the U.S. production of corn for ethanol — once the darling in the renewable fuels debate — would lower food supplies on the global market. In that case, EPA’s model is designed to account for deforestation by overseas farmers who might be forced to expand cropland in response to higher food costs. Those fuels failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by certain amounts relative to the gas and diesel they would replace would no longer be eligible for federal subsidies.

Appearing last week before the House Appropriations environmental subpanel, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told lawmakers that the agency “did propose to take into account indirect land use because that’s what the law required us to do.”

Although the proposal exempts most corn ethanol from the so-called “indirect land use” requirements, the biofuels industry and its congressional champions are up in arms. Peterson, who voted for the 2007 energy bill that mandated the EPA’s new rules, said Thursday that the proposed limits “are short on science and long on obstructive and excessive restrictions for domestically produced biofuels.” Tom Buis, who heads Growth Energy, a biofuels lobbying firm, told House lawmakers Thursday that “it’s about the most bizarre concept I’ve ever heard.” Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the EPA is preparing to penalize ethanol producers for overseas decisions “over which our industry has absolutely no control.” And Carlos Riva, president and CEO of Verenium Corporation, a cellulosic ethanol company, said the EPA is “putting stumbling blocks in front of the infant before it’s learned to walk.”

The concerns are timely. Following the passage of the Waxman bill through Energy and Commerce, Democratic leaders must decide how to bring it to the floor without diluting it even further. On Wednesday, they dodged a bullet when the panel killed an amendment, sponsored by Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry (R), that would have prevented the EPA’s indirect land use proposal from ever taking effect.

Peterson, for his part, is pressing for the entire bill to pass first through his Agriculture Committee, where members would surely be more successful than Terry in killing the land use provision. Indeed, Peterson and Rep. Frank Lucus (Okla.), the senior Republican on the Agriculture panel, have already introduced legislation to do just that.

Waxman’s office said Friday that it will be Democratic leaders who decide how the bill will reach the floor. Peterson’s office did not return calls for comment.

If opponents of the indirect land use proposal are successful in stripping it out, environmentalists argue, it would spell bad news for the fight against climate change.

Kate McMahon, an energy policy expert at Friends of the Earth, was quick to point out that the EPA’s proposal is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not prop up biofuel industries that might be contributing to the problem more than they’re solving it. “If we’re going to call these advanced biofuels,” McMahon said, “then they should be better than what’s already out there.”

The EPA’s proposal is similar to new emissions standards adopted by California in April. The California framework rates the “carbon intensity” of the various fuels imported into the state — everything from oil squeezed from the tar sands of Canada to corn ethanol produced by coal-fed refineries in the mid-West. The state is currently gathering data from the industries that will reveal baseline carbon intensity figures by 2010. Those baselines will then have to be reduced by 10 percent by 2020.

Like the EPA proposal, the California strategy also takes into consideration the use of food crops to create fuel — an international land use standard designed to see to it that the cumulative effect of using the renewable isn’t to add to global emissions. That international approach, said Dimitri Stanich, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, “accounts for emissions that would overwhelm our effort to reduce climate change.”

Stanich said the pushback from the corn ethanol industry is probably an indication that those companies recognize that corn-based fuels could be phased out in coming years in favor of more advanced recipes that emit fewer greenhouse gasses. “They’re feeling bullied,” he said, “but [California’s rule] doesn’t single anyone out … The regulation is designed to gravitate toward any of the cleanest fuels.”

Even some farm state Republicans are beginning to doubt the powers of corn-based ethanol to solve the world’s energy and climate change problems. At last week’s Appropriations hearing with Lisa Jackson, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) conceded that the popular fuel is beginning to lose its luster. “I’m not sure ethanol, in retrospect, will have turned out to have been as wise a choice as we thought when we started down this road,” Cole said. “But it’s got quite a political constituency behind it now.”


Sarkozy in climate row over reshuffle

President Nicolas Sarkozy's desire to appoint an outspoken climate-change sceptic to a new French super-ministry of industry and innovation has drawn strong protests from party colleagues and environmentalists. Claude Allègre argues that global warming is not necessarily caused by human activity. Putting him in charge of scientific research would be tantamount to "giving the finger to scientists", said Nicolas Hulot, France's best-known environmental activist.

Mr Sarkozy wants to bring Mr Allègre, 72, a freethinking, former socialist education minister, into the government in a reshuffle after next month's European parliamentary elections. The president appears to reckon that appointing someone from outside his own centre-right party will help to counter perceptions that he is a polarising, sectarian leader who decides everything himself. Several portfolios are already held by figures from the left and centre.

Alain Juppé, the former centre-right prime minister, said the appointment would send a "terribly bad signal" ahead of international negotiations to secure a successor to the Kyoto treaty on cuts to carbon emissions. One critic said that associating Mr Allègre with the government's ambitious environmental policy was like putting "organic farming alongside Chernobyl". Mr Sarkozy is said to value Mr Allègre's experience, his plain speaking and his convictions on the need to free up the economy and shake up the public sector - particularly the university research establishment.

The president's allies rode to Mr Allègre's defence yesterday. Xavier Bertrand, the general secretary of the ruling UMP party, paid tribute to his qualities as a "reformer", saying Mr Allègre had "an interesting profile in French political life".

Mr Allègre hit back at his critics and their "lies and distortions" about his record and beliefs. The climate was certainly changing, he said, but not all the reasons for it were known. "As a scientist and citizen, I, unlike others, do not want environmentalism to accentuate the crisis or make the least well-off suffer more," he said.

The idea of a super-ministry of industry and research is not favoured by Christine Lagarde, the finance minister. Ms Lagarde has been tipped for an exit, with a possible move to Brussels as France's European commissioner. But government insiders say she is unlikely to be moved.

Mr Sarkozy will have to reshuffle his government before the summer because Michel Barnier, agriculture minister, and Rachida Dati, justice minister, look likely to win seats in the European parliament.

*Mr Sarkozy opened a French military base in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Dubbed "Peace Camp", it is France's first permanent military base in the oil-rich Gulf and will be home to about 500 personnel, writes Andrew England in Abu Dhabi.

The United Arab Emirates has a defence accord with France dating back to the 1990s. However, the opening of the base comes at a time of tensions in the region, with concerns among Arab Gulf states about Iran's rising influence and nuclear ambitions. Mr Sarkozy said the base was aimed at "no one", but was a sign of France's willingness to contribute to regional stability.


Britain: Green homeowner hit with noise abatement order because 40ft wind turbine is driving his neighbours mad

When Stephen Munday spent £20,000 on a wind turbine to generate electricity for his home, he was proud to be doing his bit for the environment. He got planning permission and put up the 40ft device two years ago, making sure he stuck to strict noise level limits. But neighbours still complained that the sound was annoying - and now the local council has ordered him to switch it off.

Officials declared that the sound - which Mr Munday says is 'the same pitch as a dishwasher and quieter than birdsong' - constituted a nuisance, and issued a Noise Abatement Order. This is despite the turbine being more than 164ft from the nearest neighbour's house, as ordered by the planners. The ruling could have serious implications for the Government's drive to promote wind power and the use of renewable domestic energy if repeated across the country.

Electrician Mr Munday, 55, and his wife Sandra, a veterinary nurse, challenged the decision by the Vale of White Horse district council in Oxfordshire. But Didcot magistrates rejected their appeal and they were left to pick up the £5,392 court costs as well.

The turbine generated five kilowatts of electricity a day - the equivalent of boiling 300 kettles - and provided two-thirds of the family's energy needs. It also saved them an average of £500 a year in electricity costs.

Mr Munday, of Stanford in the Vale, near Abindgon, said: 'I am very disappointed. 'We were trying to cut down on our electricity bills and help the environment but have been clobbered for doing so. 'Everyone is encouraged to be environmentally friendly and we wanted to do our bit. We never dreamed that going green would land us in court and £25,000 out of pocket.'

The Government planning inspector granted planning permission on the condition that the turbine did not make more than five decibels of noise above that of the 'prevailing background'. It stands in a paddock 230ft from the Mundays' four-bedroomed detached house. But five neighbours complained about the noise after the turbine began generating power in February 2007.

Patrick Legge, team leader of the council's environmental protection team, said: 'We accept that the noise did not breach the conditions in the planning application but it was decided that the character of the noise was a nuisance. 'There are no strict overall noise limits but each case is examined by their independent circumstances.'

Michael Stigwood, an independent noise and nuisance adviser to the council, told the court that the noise affected people's ability to 'rest and relax'. 'The noise was continual,' he said. 'It's irritating and gets under your skin and is intrusive.'

Neighbour Virginia Thomasson, 49, said: 'I can hear it inside and outside my house - at night, in the daytime, all the time. 'I cannot sleep with the window open. 'I am a tolerant person but with this noise it superimposes itself over everything I hear.' Another resident, Michael Brown, 49, added: 'The rhythmic mechanical noise is very irritating and incessant.'

Chairman of the bench Liz Holford told the Mundays, who represented themselves in court, that the council's order was 'reasonable and necessary'. Now their only option is to appeal to the High Court - but they cannot afford to do so.

According to the BWEA, the wind industry trade body, more than 10,000 small wind turbines have been set up since 2005 and an estimated 600,000 could be installed by 2020.



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