Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nutty old Lovelock is at it again

Climate war could kill nearly all of us, leaving survivors in the Stone Age, apparently

We need a climate change 'Churchill' to lead us away from planet-wide devastation, writes James Lovelock in the latest edition of Conservation magazine. 'We have enjoyed 12,000 years of climate peace since the last shift from a glacial age to an interglacial one,' says Lovelock.

In a small way, the plight of the British in 1940 resembles the state of the civilized world now. At that time we had had nearly a decade of the well-intentioned but quite wrong belief that peace was all that mattered.

The followers of the peace lobbies of the 1930s resembled the environmentalist movements now; their intentions were more than good but wholly inappropriate for the war that was about to start. It is time to wake up and realize that Gaia, the Earth system, is no cozy mother that nurtures humans and can be propitiated by gestures such as carbon trading or sustainable20development.

Gaia, even though we are a part of her, will always dictate the terms of peace. I am stirred by the thought that Gaia has existed for more than a quarter the age of the universe and that it has taken this long for a species to evolve that can think, communicate, and store its thoughts and experiences.

If we can keep civilization alive through this century perhaps there is a chance that our descendants will one day serve Gaia and assist her in the fine-tuned self-regulation of the climate and composition of our planet.

We have enjoyed 12,000 years of climate peace since the last shift from a glacial age to an interglacial one. Before long, we may face planet-wide devastation worse even than unrestricted nuclear war between superpowers. The climate war could kill nearly all of us and leave the few survivors living a Stone Age existence. But in several places in the world, including the U.K., we have a chance of surviving and even of living well.

For that to be possible, we have to make our lifeboats seaworthy now. Back in May 1940, we in the UK awoke to find facing us across the Channel a wholly hostile continental force about to invade. We were alone without an effective ally but fortunate to have a new leader, Winston Churchill, whose moving words stirred the whole nation from its lethargy: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat."

We all need modern Churchills to lead us from the clinging, flabby, consensual thinking of the late twentieth century and to bind our nations with a single-minded effort to wage a difficult war.


Australia: Warmism now a mass-market fad

PRODUCTS with labels spelling out how much they pollute are set to appear on supermarket shelves next year, giving shoppers yet another way to turn consumerism into social activism. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with the entire production of everyday products will be clearly labelled on them, alongside a pledge by those participating companies to reduce them every two years.

A similar scheme has been operating in Britain for two years with the support of 20 companies, including the retailers Tesco and Boots, and products such as chips, soft drinks, laundry powder and even bank accounts carry the black footprint logo. The scheme's owner, Britain's Carbon Trust, has licensed Planet Ark to roll out the scheme here. Planet Ark's project manager, Diane Mann, said: "We are always talking about empowering the consumer to make a change and this is one way that they can do it … by endorsing a company that has committed to change."

Australian consumers are already voting with their wallet. Sales of products carrying the green frog of the Rainforest Alliance have risen 23 per cent in the past year, and sales of Fairtrade products are set to rise by 80 per cent this year.

In Britain, the Carbon Trust looked at every step of the supply chain of a bag of chips - from growing the potatoes to their transport, manufacture and packaging. It found the majority of emissions came from the farming and transport of potatoes to the factory, leading the company - Walkers, which is part of the PepsiCo empire - to pressure farmers to uses potato varieties that retain less water and are lighter to transport. Walkers reduced its overall emissions by 7 per cent - which amounted to 6g less CO2 a bag - allowing it to keep the footprint logo for another two years.

Ms Mann said she was holding talks with a number of international and local companies to sign up for early next year.

Ben Peacock, the founder of Republic for Everyone, an ad agency that specialises in ethical causes, said: "All the research I'm seeing is showing that green issues are still top of the mind for some consumers even though there's a recession."



The UK's Met Office has had its funding for climate research slashed by a quarter, following withdrawal of financial support by the government's Ministry of Defence (MoD). The loss of £4.3 million (US$7.0 million) in funding from the MoD will affect the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change in Exeter, the world-class climate modelling institute whose researchers made key contributions to the last assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007.

"This news comes as a shock," says climate scientist Martin Parry, formerly at the Met Office and now at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London. "The UK's core modelling work on climate change has been funded from this source, up to now." "Global and regional security will be threatened by climate change, and the MoD is hopelessly wrong to think it is outside its responsibility," adds Parry, who co-chaired the IPCC's working group on climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

In a statement, an MoD spokesperson said that the cuts, which will come into effect immediately, were made with a view to "prioritizing success in current operations, such as Afghanistan".

This will be the first time that Met Office climate research has gone without MoD cash, according to a Met Office spokesman. The office became an executive agency of the ministry in 1990 and a commercialized trading fund in 1996. By 2008, one-sixth of its budget of £176.5 million came from commercial services. But government, and the MoD in particular, has continued to be its main customer and funder.

In 2007, the MoD signed a three-year deal worth £12 million with the Met Office, to part-fund its Integrated Climate Programme (ICP), which makes up the bulk of its climate research. Although the MoD has withdrawn its remaining funding, a Met Office spokesman insisted that the programme is not threatened. The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is committed to providing £4 million per year in funding up until 2011 to ICP, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will provide approximately £10 million in annual funding over the same period.

The Met Office is now in negotiations with these departments, and with the Department for International Development (DfID), in an effort to recoup some of the lost funding. "If they don't recoup it, they are going to be in serious trouble," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeller at NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York. "Losing 25% of your funding is a huge deal. Five percent is generally containable, but 25% is not an amount you can hope to absorb easily."...



India fended off pressure at the recently concluded Major Economies Forum to agree to greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments in a declaration being prepared for the G8+5 summit that is to be held in Italy in July. The Major Economies Forum, supported by the US, is a conglomeration of 20 countries, including key emerging economies and industrialised nations. Critics believe it was set up to force a decision at the global climate negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Officials told TOI that at the forum, the US and other developed countries insisted on India and other developing countries to agree to a declaration for the G8 summit that would require GHG reducing commitments from them in the long run. "At the same time, the rich nations stayed ambivalent on what targets they would take in the short to mid-term," an official said.

The rich nations have demanded that growing economies like India and China take on emission cuts in the long run while running shy of either taking deeper short-term targets or discussing technology and funds transfer for adaptation to poorer nations.

The G8+5 declaration, if one is hammered out in time, could become an overarching political statement of the key nations that would force negotiations at the UN meetings in a particular direction. The UN negotiations are seen by developing countries to be far more democratic and where India and China hold the trump card along with the G77 block. The G8 club is perceived by observers to be a forum where pressure on emerging economies can be piled on heavy as it is difficult for them to be seen as "nay-sayers".

There was also limited talk on other issues on the climate table favourable to India - technology and finance.



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that Great Lakes water levels are up from this time a year ago. Lakes Michigan and Huron are up 12 inches, Lake Superior 2 inches and Lake Erie 5 inches while Lake Ontario is unchanged. Even Lake St. Clair is up 9 inches. Erie and Ontario (and St. Clair) are between 2 and 6 inches above long-term monthly averages for June. Superior, Michigan and Huron are only 6 to 7 inches below long-term averages for June. While this change in the water levels is pronounced, it is not unusual. The Great Lakes have a history of considerable fluctuation in water levels.

During the last 10 years, water levels in the Great Lakes have been below long-term averages. For 30 years prior to that the levels were above average. In fact, historical water level data indicates there is no normal water level for the Great Lakes. A normal water level and an average water level are not the same thing.

The press has been quick to report on lower-than-average Great Lakes levels over the last decade. Many of the articles quote environmental and other groups predicting the dire consequences of global warming's influence. "Warming saps Great Lakes: Water levels could take big drop as Earth gets hotter" is the headline of an article that appeared April 7, 2007, in The Detroit News. In the article, Scudder Mackey of Canada's University of Windsor predicts that in a worst case scenario, Lake St. Clair's shoreline could recede by as much as 3.5 miles. In the same article George Kling, a University of Michigan ecologist, suggests that within 30 years summers in Michigan are likely to feel more like those in Kentucky today and that by the end of the century, summer weather will resemble Arkansas and northern Mississippi.

Climate change alarmists predicting doomsday scenarios for the Great Lakes are probably not too pleased with the draft report "Impacts on Upper Great Lakes Water Levels: St. Clair River" released May 1, 2009, by the International Joint Commission. The report found that the difference in water levels between Lake Michigan-Huron and Lake Erie of 9 inches between 1962 and 2006 was caused by three factors:

* A change in the conveyance of the St. Clair River, mostly likely caused by a large ice jam that occurred in the mid-1980s;

* Glacial isostatic adjustment (the rebounding of the earth's crust after the melting of the glaciers about 10,000 years ago);

* Changes in climate patterns.

If lower-than-average water levels in the Great Lakes is caused by global warming, then increasing water levels must be caused by global cooling, right? Of course the global cooling connection to Great Lakes water levels is just as spurious as the global warming claims. Maybe it is time to take a pause and understand that as much as we might like to, man does not control nature. At the very least we should not undertake expensive and job-killing policy initiatives such as cap-and-trade of CO2 because of predictions regarding the Great Lakes, which are proving to be wrong.


Composting is bad for your health

Giant compost heaps used to recycle garden waste and leftover food could be harming the health of those living nearby, experts have warned. Researchers fear the industrial-scale sites increase rates of asthma, respiratory infections and skin complaints among locals unless they are correctly regulated.

There are already nearly a hundred commercial composting facilities in the UK, handling more than 1.7million tons of waste per year. The number is expected to double as councils scramble to meet Government targets for recycling organic household waste.

But critics warn that the sites lead to increased numbers of rats and flies which help to spread disease. Compost also contains bacteria, spores and fungi that can become airborne in emissions known as bioaerosols, which are potentially harmful to humans. A Government-backed study by the Environment Agency and Cranfield University has already found that among 44 sites examined, only eight had produced adequate risk assessments on protecting the surrounding area from bioaerosols.

Studies on workers at composting sites have also shown that there is a risk of respiratory infections from organisms that thrive in decaying organic matter and diseases such as farmer's lung, a common cause of breathing difficulties among farm workers. Peter Sykes, head of the centre for public protection at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, said: 'There is certainly an occupational risk to people working in compost sites, but the risk to residents living nearby is less well known. 'It depends on how the waste is being turned, the weather and the landscape itself.'

A survey of 132 residents living near a composting facility in Coven, Wolverhampton, carried out for Ken Purchase, MP for Wolverhampton North East, found that 66 felt the health of someone in their family had been harmed by the facility. Mr Purchase said: 'What is clear is that the nuisance is persistent and that the smell alone prevents residents enjoying the pleasure of their gardens and, in some cases, means doors and windows have to remain shut even on good summer days.'

It usually takes three months for organic waste to turn into usable compost, during which time temperatures inside the compost heaps can hit nearly 150F (65C).

In most sites waste is piled up in the open and regularly turned over by heavy machinery, which aids composition but spreads dust.

The Environment Agency is now producing new guidance for composting sites on how to reduce their emissions.

The UK produces more than 100million tons of food and other organic waste each year but currently just 2.8million tons are sent for composting.

Trelawney Dampney, managing director of Dorset-based Eco Sustainable Solutions and a director at the Association for Organics Recycling, said the industry was aware of the concerns and followed Environment Agency guidance to try to avoid any risk to the public. He said: 'The Environment Agency advises that all sites should be more than 250 yards from residential dwellings because within 250 yards the exposure to bioaerosols could be reasonably high, especially if they are down wind.'



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Some remnant of sense

Obama opposes global warming tariffs

BARACK Obama has expressed opposition to a provision that would impose trade penalties on countries that did not accept limits on global warming pollution. Obama has told a small group of reporters at the White House that, at a time when the global economy is still deep in recession, he thought "we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there", The New York Times reported. "I think there may be other ways of doing it than with a tariff approach," the president was quoted by the paper as saying.

On Friday. the US House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation to limit pollution blamed for global warming, handing Obama a hard-fought major victory. By a 219-212 margin, lawmakers voted for the first time in US history to limit heat-trapping carbon emissions and shift the US economy to cleaner energy in a move backers said will create jobs and restore Washington's shaky leadership on climate change ahead of global talks set for December. The Senate is still to vote on the measure.

Obama, hoping to build momentum in the Senate after the narrow victory in the House, delayed the start of a Sunday golf game to speak to a small group of reporters in the Oval Office, The Times said. He acknowledged that the initial targets for reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases set by the House bill were quite modest and would probably not satisfy the governments of other countries or many environmental groups, the report said.

But he said he hoped to build on those early targets in fashioning a more robust program in the future as part of his administration's efforts to move the nation from an economy based on fossil fuels toward one built on renewable energy sources.


Polar bear expert barred from conference by Warmists

No dissent from the Warmist Gospel allowed: Mitchell Taylor, who has studied the bears for 30 years, was told his views 'are extremely unhelpful’

Over the coming days a curiously revealing event will be taking place in Copenhagen. Top of the agenda at a meeting of the Polar Bear Specialist Group (set up under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission) will be the need to produce a suitably scary report on how polar bears are being threatened with extinction by man-made global warming.

This is one of a steady drizzle of events planned to stoke up alarm in the run-up to the UN's major conference on climate change in Copenhagen next December. But one of the world's leading experts on polar bears has been told to stay away from this week's meeting, specifically because his views on global warming do not accord with those of the rest of the group.

Dr Mitchell Taylor has been researching the status and management of polar bears in Canada and around the Arctic Circle for 30 years, as both an academic and a government employee. More than once since 2006 he has made headlines by insisting that polar bear numbers, far from decreasing, are much higher than they were 30 years ago. Of the 19 different bear populations, almost all are increasing or at optimum levels, only two have for local reasons modestly declined.

Dr Taylor agrees that the Arctic has been warming over the last 30 years. But he ascribes this not to rising levels of CO2 – as is dictated by the computer models of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and believed by his PBSG colleagues – but to currents bringing warm water into the Arctic from the Pacific and the effect of winds blowing in from the Bering Sea.

He has also observed, however, how the melting of Arctic ice, supposedly threatening the survival of the bears, has rocketed to the top of the warmists' agenda as their most iconic single cause. The famous photograph of two bears standing forlornly on a melting iceberg was produced thousands of times by Al Gore, the WWF and others as an emblem of how the bears faced extinction – until last year the photographer, Amanda Byrd, revealed that the bears, just off the Alaska coast, were in no danger. Her picture had nothing to do with global warming and was only taken because the wind-sculpted ice they were standing on made such a striking image.

Dr Taylor had obtained funding to attend this week's meeting of the PBSG, but this was voted down by its members because of his views on global warming. The chairman, Dr Andy Derocher, a former university pupil of Dr Taylor's, frankly explained in an email (which I was not sent by Dr Taylor) that his rejection had nothing to do with his undoubted expertise on polar bears: "it was the position you've taken on global warming that brought opposition".

Dr Taylor was told that his views running "counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful". His signing of the Manhattan Declaration – a statement by 500 scientists that the causes of climate change are not CO2 but natural, such as changes in the radiation of the sun and ocean currents – was "inconsistent with the position taken by the PBSG".

So, as the great Copenhagen bandwagon rolls on, stand by this week for reports along the lines of "scientists say polar bears are threatened with extinction by vanishing Arctic ice". But also check out Anthony Watt's Watts Up With That website for the latest news of what is actually happening in the Arctic. The average temperature at midsummer is still below zero, the latest date that this has happened in 50 years of record-keeping. After last year's recovery from its September 2007 low, this year's ice melt is likely to be substantially less than for some time. The bears are doing fine.


Energy Myths and Realities

Talk to graduands by by Keith O. Rattie, CEO of Questar, a Utah gas company

Good morning, everyone. I’m honored to join you today.

My perspective on global warming changed when I began to understand the limitations of the computer models that scientists have built to predict future warming. If the only variable driving the earth’s climate were manmade CO2 then there’d be no debate – global average temperatures would increase by a harmless one degree over the next 100 years. But the earth’s climate is what engineers call a “non-linear, dynamic system”. The models have dozens of inputs. Many are little more than the opinion of the scientist – in some cases, just a guess. The sun, for example, is by far the biggest driver of the earth’s climate. But the intensity of solar radiation from the sun varies over time in ways that can’t be accurately modeled. Another example, water vapor is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. [The media now calls CO2 a "pollutant". If CO2 is a "pollutant" then water vapor is also a "pollutant" – that's absurd, but I digress]. Some scientists believe clouds amplify human CO2 forcing, others believe precipitation acts as the earth’s thermostat. But scientists do not agree on how to model clouds, precipitation, and evaporation, thus there’s no consensus on this fundamental issue.

But the reality for American consumers is that whether you buy that the science is settled or not, the political science is settled. With the media cheering them on, Congress has promised to “do something”. CO2 regulation is coming, whether it will do any good or not. Indeed, President Obama’s hope of shrinking the now the massive federal budget deficit depends on vast new revenues from a tax on carbon energy – so called “cap and trade”. Harry Reid has promised cap and trade legislation by August.

Under cap-and-trade, the government would try to create a market for CO2 by selling credits to companies that emit CO2. They would set a cap for the maximum amount of CO2 emissions. Over time, the cap would ratchet down. In theory, this will force companies to invest in lower-carbon technologies, thus reducing emissions to avoid the cost of buying credits from other companies that have already met their emissions goals. The costs of the credits would be passed on to consumers. Because virtually everything we do and consume in modern life has a carbon footprint the cost of just about everything will go up. This in theory will cause each of us to choose products that have a lower carbon footprint. Any way you slice it, cap and trade is a tax on the way we live our lives – one designed to produce a windfall for government.

The long term goal with cap and trade is ‘80 by 50′– an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Let’s do the easy math on what ‘80 by 50′ means to you, using Utah as an example. Utah’s carbon footprint today is about 66 MM tons of CO2 per year. Utah’s population today is 2.6 MM. You divide those two numbers, and the average Utahan today has a carbon footprint of about 25 tons of CO2 per year. An 80% reduction in Utah’s carbon footprint by 2050 implies a reduction from 66 MM tons today to about 13 MM tons per year by 2050. But Utah’s population is growing at over 2% per year, so by 2050 there will be about 6 MM people living in this state. 13 MM tons divided by 6 MM people = 2.2 tons per person per year. Under ‘80 by 50′ by the time you folks reach my age you’ll have to live your lives with an annual carbon allowance of no more than 2.2 tons of CO2 per year.

Question: when was the last time Utah’s carbon footprint was as low as 2.2 tons per person per year? Answer: probably not since Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley (1847). You reach a similar conclusion when you do the math on ‘80 by 50′ for the entire U.S. ‘80 by 50′ would require a reduction in America’s CO2 emissions from about 20 tons per person per year today, to about 2 tons per person per year in 2050. When was the last time America’s carbon footprint was as low as 2 tons per person per year? Probably not since the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

In short, ‘80 by 50′ means that by the time you folks reach my age, you won’t be allowed to use anything made with – or made possible by – fossil fuels.

So I want to focus you on this critical question: “How on God’s green earth – pun intended – are you going to do what my generation said we’d do but didn’t – and that’s wean yourselves from fossil fuels in just four decades?” that’s a question that each of you, and indeed, all Americans need to ask now – because when it comes to “how” there clearly is no consensus. Simply put, with today’s energy technologies, we can’t get there from here.

The hallmark of this dilemma is our inability to reconcile our prosperity and our way of life with our environmental ideals. We like our cars. We like our freedom to “move about the country” – drive to work, fly to conferences, visit distant friends and family. We aspire to own the biggest house we can afford. We like to keep our homes and offices warm in the winter, cool in the summer. We like devices that use electricity – computers, flat screen TVs, cell phones, the Internet, and many other conveniences of modern life that come with a power cord. We like food that’s low cost, high quality, and free of bugs – which means farmers must use fertilizers and pesticides made from fossil fuels. We like things made of plastic and clothes made with synthetic fibers – and all of these things depend on abundant, affordable, growing supplies of energy.

And guess what? We share this planet with 6.2 billion other people who all want the same things.

America’s energy use has been growing at 1-2% per year, driven by population growth and prosperity. But while our way of life depends on ever-increasing amounts of energy, we’re downright schizophrenic when it comes to the things that energy companies must do to deliver the energy that makes modern life possible.

We want energy security – we don’t like being dependent on foreign oil. But we also don’t like drilling in the U.S. Millions of acres of prospective onshore public lands here in the Rockies plus the entire east and west coast of the U.S. are off-limits to drilling for a variety of reasons. We hate paying $2 per gallon for gasoline – but not as much as we hate the refineries that turn unusable crude oil into gasoline. We haven’t allowed anyone to build a new refinery in the U.S. in over 30 years. We expect the lights to come on when we flip the switch, but we don’t like coal, the source of 40% of our electricity – it’s dirty and mining scars the earth. We also don’t like nuclear power, the source of nearly 20% of our electricity – it’s clean, France likes it, but we’re afraid of it. Hydropower is clean and renewable. But it too has been blacklisted – dams hurt fish.

We don’t want pollution of any kind, in any amount, but we also don’t want to be asked: “how much are we willing to pay for environmental perfection?” When it comes to global warming, Time magazine tells us to “be worried, be very worried” – and we say we are – but we don’t act that way. Let me suggest that our conversation about how to reduce CO2 emissions must begin with a few “inconvenient” realities.

Reality 1: Worldwide demand for energy will grow by 30-50% over the next two decades – and more than double by the time you’re my age. Simply put, America and the rest of the world will need all the energy that markets can deliver.

Reality 2: There are no near-term alternatives to oil, natural gas, and coal. Like it or not, the world runs on fossil fuels, and it will for decades to come. The U.S. government’s own forecast shows that fossil fuels will supply about 85% of world energy demand in 2030 – roughly the same as today. Yes, someday the world may run on alternatives. But that day is still a long way off. It’s not about will. It’s not about who’s in the White House. It’s about thermodynamics and economics.

Now, I was told back in the 1970s what you’re being told today: that wind and solar power are ‘alternatives’ to fossil fuels. A more honest description would be ’supplements’. Taken together, wind and solar power today account for just one-sixth of 1% of America’s annual energy usage. Let me repeat that statistic – one-sixth of 1%.

Undaunted by this, President Obama proposes to double wind and solar power consumption in this country by the end of his first term. Great – that means the line on this pie chart would become a slightly thicker line in four years. I would point out that wind and solar power doubled in just the last three years of the Bush administration. Granted, W. started from a smaller baseline, so doubling again over the next four years will be a taller order. But if President Obama’s goal is achieved, wind and solar together will grow from one-sixth of 1% to one-third of 1% of total primary energy use – and that assumes U.S. energy consumption remains flat, which of course it will not.

The problems with wind and solar power become apparent when you look at their footprint. To generate electricity comparable to a 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant you’d have to build a wind farm with at least 500 very tall windmills occupying more than 30,000 acres of land. Then there’s solar power. I’m holding a Denver Post article that tells the story of an 8.2 MW solar-power plant built on 82 acres in Colorado. The Post proudly hails it “America’s most productive utility-scale solar electricity plant”. But when you account for the fact that the sun doesn’t always shine, you’d need over 250 of these plants, on over 20,000 acres to replace just one 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant that can be built on less than 40 acres.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently celebrated the startup of a 14 MW geothermal plant near Beaver, Utah. that’s wonderful! But the Tribune failed to put 14 MW into perspective. Utah has over 7,000 MW of installed generating capacity, primarily coal. America has about 1,000,000 MW of installed capacity. Because U.S. demand for electricity has been growing at 1-2 % per year, on average we’ve been adding 10-20,000 MW of new capacity every year to keep pace with growth. Around the world coal demand is booming – 200,000 MW of new coal capacity is under construction, over 30,000 MW in China alone. In fact, there are 30 coal plants under construction in the U.S. today that when complete will burn about 70 million tons of coal per year.

Why has my generation failed to develop wind and solar? Because our energy choices are ruthlessly ruled, not by political judgments, but by the immutable laws of thermodynamics. In engineer-speak, turning diffused sources of energy such as photons in sunlight or the kinetic energy in wind requires massive investment to concentrate that energy into a form that’s usable on any meaningful scale. What’s more, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. Unless or until there’s a major breakthrough in high-density electricity storage – a problem that has confounded scientists for more than 100 years – wind and solar can never be relied upon to provide base load power.

But it’s not just thermodynamics. It’s economics. Over the past 150 years America has invested trillions of dollars in our existing energy systems – power plants, the grid, steam and gas turbines, railroads, pipelines, distribution, refineries, service stations, home heating, boilers, cars, trucks and planes, etc. Changing that infrastructure to a system based on renewable energy will take decades and massive new investment.

To be clear, we need all the wind and solar power the markets can deliver at prices we can afford. But please, let’s get real – wind and solar are not “alternatives” to fossil fuels.

Reality 3: You can argue about whether global warming is a serious problem or not, but there’s no argument about the consequences of cap and trade regulation – it’s going to drive the cost of energy painfully higher. that’s the whole point of cap and trade – to drive up the cost of fossil energy so that otherwise uneconomic “alternatives” can compete. Some put the total cost of cap and trade to U.S. consumers at $2 trillion over the next decade and $6 trillion between now and 2050 – not to mention the net loss of jobs in energy-intensive industries that must compete in global markets.

Given this staggering cost, I hope you’ll ask: will cap and trade work? If Europe’s experience with cap and trade is an indication, the answer is “no”.

With much fanfare, the European Union (EU) adopted a cap and trade scheme in an effort to meet their Kyoto commitments to cut CO2 emissions to below 1990 levels by 2012. How are they doing? So far, all but one EU country is getting an “F”. Since 2000 Europe’s CO2 emissions per unit of GDP have grown faster than the U.S.! The U.S. of course did not implement Kyoto – nor did over 150 other countries. There’s a good reason why most of the world rejected Kyoto: with today’s energy technologies there’s no way to sever the link between CO2 emissions and modern life. Europe’s cap and trade scheme was designed to fail – and it’s working as designed....

Reality 4: Even if America does cut CO2 emissions, those same computer models that predict manmade warming over the next century also predict that Kyoto-type CO2 cuts would have no discernible impact on global temperatures for decades, if ever. When was the last time you read that in the paper? We’ve been told that Kyoto was “just a first step.” Your generation may want to ask: “what’s the second step?”

That begs another question: “how much are Americans willing to pay for ‘a first step’ that has no discernible effect on global climate?” The answer here in Utah is: not much, according to a poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates published in the Deseret News. 63% of those surveyed said they worry about global warming. But when asked how much they’d be willing to see their electricity bills go up to help cut CO2 emissions, only half were willing to pay more for electricity. Only 18% were willing to see their power bill go up by 10% or more. Only 3% were willing to see their power bill go up by 20%.....

Let me close by returning to the lessons my generation learned from the 1970s energy crisis. We learned that energy choices favored by politicians but not confirmed by markets are destined to fail. If history has taught us anything it’s that we should resist the temptation to ask politicians to substitute their judgments for that of the market, and let markets determine how much energy gets used, what types of energy get used, where, how and by whom energy gets used. In truth, no source of energy is perfect, thus only markets can weigh the pros and cons of each source. Government’s role is to set reasonable standards for environmental performance, and make sure markets work.

I’ve covered a lot of ground this morning. I hope I’ve challenged your thinking about your energy future. Mostly, I hope you continue to enjoy freedom, prosperity – and abundant supplies of energy at prices you can afford!


The Gauleiter complex in Britain

(Gauleiters were local Nazi officials. Post from Prof. Brignell)

In these pages we have frequently remarked that the British experience should be taken as a warning of what could happen in the USA . Nevertheless, Americans have gone ahead with their own experiment in authoritarian socialism. Typical of the phenomenon is hurriedly and ill drafted legislation that puts power into the hands of minor and unelected officials. It is an unfortunate characteristic of some people that such power goes to their heads, and many of those in positions that once were intended to represent servants of the people now come to regard themselves as the masters. In Britain much of the primary legislation comes directly from Brussels in the form of “Directives”, which are diktats, emerging from a secretive bureaucracy, that have never been properly debated or received the benefit of expert advice.

American politicians now have their own version of this process, as exemplified by the bizarre goings-on that led to the House of Representatives passing a weirdly inapposite Climate Change Bill. The cost of the Global Warming Myth, already staggering, is about to increase by orders of magnitude, tantamount to economic suicide.

One of the many dubious claims of the proponents is that it will create Green Jobs. This is a dysphemism for a new class of people living off the taxpayer. A major sub-class is The Snoopers. We had them in the UK during the post-war Labour Government. They were tasked with such duties as preventing private enterprise. It was largely Winston Churchill’s successful campaign against The Snoopers that brought that spendthrift Government to an end. Nowadays opposition leaders are considerably less effective.

Now The Snoopers are back. They pry into our garbage bins, secretly film us and employ covert agents to follow us (justified by legislation originally promoted as being anti-terrorist). One couple were subjected to a prolonged stake-out to check that they were living where they claimed to be and not evading the equality rules in the educational lottery. A teenager was prosecuted for allowing a toddler to discard a sweet wrapper. Fortunately, our judges still have enough power to treat such cases with the derision they deserve. What is not disclosed is how much this snooping impoverishes the taxpayer, but it is not difficult to imagine the cost of several weeks of secret surveillance. Also typical is the fact that the actions in question were not even offences until the advent of New Labour Government. It is not only a crime to want to select a school for your child (unless you are rich), there are now so many new offences that no one, even the lawyers, knows what is legal or illegal. There are literally thousands of new crimes (including the Orwellian sounding enviro-crimes). When the Government is enacting seven new laws every day, without a semblance of proper debate, ordinary people are exposed to legal hazards of which they are completely unaware.

These are the conditions under which the Gauleiters thrive. Every citizen is threatened with the circumstances of Kafka’s Joseph K, arraigned for crimes and misdemeanours unknown, and helpless in the face of an all powerful officialdom. Furthermore, ordinary people are now encouraged to become informers. Records show that 28 Gestapo were able to rule a million people by the use of informers. Many people were wrongly arrested owing to accusations motivated by malice or revenge. When journalists enquire about cases like those mentioned above, the response always comes from someone called “A Spokesman”, anonymous and unelected. There is no comeback if they get it wrong. The ultimate insult is that the poor chumps they pick on have been forced to contribute to the inflated salaries these officials command. One of the greatest financial burdens carried by the poorer elements of society, such as pensioners, is the dramatic inflation of local taxes.

Look on this America. It is your future.


Pesky! Old light bulbs can be more efficient than the twisty monstrosities

Just as authorities in much of the Western world have moved to phase out the incandescent lightbulb, American boffins believe they have developed a process which can make the oldschool lights more efficient than energy-saving lamps. Optics boffins at the Rochester Uni in New York state say they've developed a process in which an ordinary lighbulb is zapped with a femtosecond-long pulse of extremely high-energy laser light. The laser blast travels through the glass to hit the tungsten filament, causing complex nano- and micro-structures to form on its surface.

Once the lasered light bulb is than powered up, according to the Rochester scientists, it emits a lot more light for the same energy compared to an untreated bulb - equivalent to 40 per cent energy savings. The process of lasing incandescent bulbs wouldn't be expensive, apparently, so they'd remain cheap compared to fluorescent energy-saving jobs. According to Rochester Uni:

"The process could make a light as bright as a 100-watt bulb consume less electricity than a 60-watt bulb while remaining far cheaper and radiating a more pleasant light than a fluorescent bulb. Despite the incredible intensity involved, the femtosecond laser can be powered by a simple wall outlet, meaning that when the process is refined, implementing it to augment regular light bulbs should be relatively simple."

It seems that Professor Chunlei Guo of Rochester hit upon the idea of brightening-up lightbulb filaments following earlier experiments in which he and his team used laser zapping to turn metals completely black. This worked so well that Guo and his cohorts wondered if they could reverse the process. "We fired the laser beam right through the glass of the bulb and altered a small area on the filament," says the prof. "When we lit the bulb, we could actually see this one patch was clearly brighter than the rest of the filament, but there was no change in the bulb's energy usage."

It seems that Guo and his team of lightbulb-blasting boffins can also produce other strange effects, getting incandescent bulbs to emit partially polarised or differently-coloured light - without the energy-wasting filters that would normally be necessary.

It's the efficiency-enhancement aspect of the studies which could make headlines, however. Both the US and European Union governments are now committed to firm timetables which will see incandescent bulbs phased out in favour of more energy-efficient alternatives, such as fluorescents. This is being done in order to save energy and so lower carbon emissions. But if it's as simple as Guo suggests to enhance an incandescent with his laser process, this may turn out to have been an unnecessary or even retrograde step.

Guo's research has been accepted for publication by the journal Applied Physics Letters, but isn't out yet. In the meantime, there's a pop-sci release from the university here.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Bye, Bye Jobs! U.S. oil companies may cope with climate laws by 'closing fuel plants, cutting capital spending and increasing imports'

America’s biggest oil companies will probably cope with U.S. carbon legislation by closing fuel plants, cutting capital spending and increasing imports. Under the Waxman-Markey climate bill that may be voted on today by the U.S. House, refiners would have to buy allowances for carbon dioxide spewed from their plants and from vehicles when motorists burn their fuel. Imports would need permits only for the latter, which ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulva said would create a competitive imbalance.

“It will lead to the opportunity for foreign sources to bring in transportation fuels at a lower cost, which will have an adverse impact to our industry, potential shutdown of refineries and investment and, ultimately, employment,” Mulva said in a June 16 interview in Detroit. Houston-based ConocoPhillips has the second-largest U.S. refining capacity.

The same amount of gasoline that would have $1 in carbon costs imposed if it were domestic would have 10 cents less added if it were imported, according to energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie in Houston. Contrary to President Barack Obama’s goal of reducing dependence on overseas energy suppliers, the bill would incent U.S. refiners to import more fuel, said Clayton Mahaffey, an analyst at RedChip Cos. in Maitland, Florida. “They’ll be searching the globe for refined products that don’t carry the same level of carbon costs,” said Mahaffey, a former Exxon Corp. refinery manager.

The equivalent of one in six U.S. refineries probably would close by 2020 as the cost of carbon allowances erases profits, according to the American Petroleum Institute, a Washington trade group known as API. Carbon permits would add 77 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline, said Russell Jones, the API’s senior economic adviser. “Because it’s going to be more expensive to produce the stuff, refiners will slow down production and cut back on inventories to squeeze every penny of profit they can from the system,” said Geoffrey Styles, founder of GSW Strategy Group LLC in Vienna, Virginia. “We will end up with less domestic product on the market and a greater reliance on imports, all of which means higher, more volatile prices.”

U.S. motorists, already facing the steepest jump in gasoline prices in 18 years, would bear the brunt as refiners pass on added costs, Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson told reporters after a May 27 meeting in Dallas.

“U.S. refineries get 2 percent of allowances to cover any increases in costs they may incur,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi. Drivers, airlines and trucking companies would pay an additional $178 billion annually, or about $560 for each man, woman and child in the U.S., according to the API, whose 400 members include Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil and the U.S. unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company.

“That kind of price impact would significantly hurt the competitiveness of U.S. refiners versus importers,” said Glenn McGinnis, chief executive officer at Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma, a Phoenix-based company that’s attempting to build the nation’s first new refinery in three decades.

Such estimates and talk of rising imports are scare tactics that oil companies are using to wheedle concessions from lawmakers, said John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s chief lobbyist in Washington. Refiners are trying to gain relief on carbon-permit costs that’s meant for manufacturers such as steelmakers that are threatened by foreign competition, he said. “It’s definitely saber rattling, and it’s a hell of a threat,” Coequyt said. “The strategic value of this is pretty obvious. They want to qualify for rebates under the competitiveness test, which of course they do not.”

GSW’s Styles, a former Texaco Inc. refinery and trading manager, said the risks are real. Plants unable to turn a profit under the new rules would be closed, he said.

The permit-cost imbalance would open the door for overseas refiners, such as India’s Reliance Industries Ltd., owner of the world’s largest crude-processing complex, to ship more fuel to U.S. oil companies, said Bill Holbrook, spokesman for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association in Washington. "It’s going to give domestic refiners a distinct disadvantage,” said Holbrook, whose trade group represents such fuel makers as Chevron Corp. and Valero Energy Corp.

Companies such as San Antonio-based Valero, the biggest U.S. refiner, will respond by stepping up efforts to acquire overseas plants that can ship fuel to their home market, said Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in Des Peres, Missouri. Valero said last week that it will continue to seek acquisition opportunities after Total SA bought the stake it had agreed to purchase in a Netherlands refining venture.

About 2 million barrels of daily U.S. refining capacity will shut down because carbon costs will be several times the operating profits for some plants, Ihne said. That’s equivalent to 12 percent of the nation’s fuel-making capacity. Jones, the API economist, said there could be as much as 3 million barrels of idled processing capacity.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Sunday, June 28, 2009


A suppressed EPA study says old U.N. data ignore the decline in global temperatures and other inconvenient truths. Was the report kept under wraps to influence the vote on the cap-and-trade bill?

This was supposed to be the most transparent administration ever. Yet as the House of Representatives prepared to vote on the Waxman-Markey bill, the largest tax increase in U.S. history on 100% of Americans, an attempt was made to suppress a study shredding supporters' arguments.

On Friday, the day of the vote, the Competitive Enterprise Institute said it was releasing "an internal study on climate science which was suppressed by the Environmental Protection Agency."

In the release, the institute's Richard Morrison said "internal EPA e-mail messages, released by CEI earlier in the week, indicate that the report was kept under wraps and its author silenced because of pressure to support the administration's agenda of regulating carbon dioxide."

Reading the report, available on the CEI Web site, we find this "endangerment analysis" contains such interesting items as: "Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until at least 2030), there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data."

What the report says is that the EPA, by adopting the United Nations' 2007 "Fourth Assessment" report, is relying on outdated research by its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The research, it says, is "at best three years out of date in a rapidly changing field" and ignores the latest scientific findings.

Besides noting the decline in temperatures as CO2 levels have increased, the draft report says the "consensus" on storm frequency and intensity is now "much more neutral."

Then there's one of Al Gore's grim fairy tales — the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and glaciers the size of Tennessee roaming the North Atlantic. "The idea that warming temperatures will cause Greenland to rapidly shed its ice has been greatly diminished by new results indicating little evidence for operations of such processes," the report says.

Little evidence? Outdated U.N. research? No reason to rush? This is not what the Obama administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were telling us when they were rushing to force a Friday vote on Waxman-Markey. We were given the impression that unless we passed this cap-and-tax fiasco, polar bears would be extinct by the Fourth of July.

We have noted frequently the significance of solar activity on earth's climate and history. This EPA draft report not only confirms our reporting but the brazen incompetence of those "experts" that have been prophesying planetary apocalypse.

"A new 2009 paper by Scafetta and West," the report says, "suggests that the IPCC used faulty solar data in dismissing the direct effect of solar variability on global temperatures. Their report suggests that solar variability could account for up to 68% of the increase in Earth's global temperatures."

The report was the product of Alan Carlin, senior operations research analyst at the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE). He's been with the EPA for 38 years but now has been taken off all climate-related work. He is convinced that actual climate observations do not match climate change theories and that only the politics, not the science, has been settled.

Thomas Fuller, environmental policy blogger with the San Francisco Examiner, wrote Thursday in a story developed in conjunction with Anthony Watts' Web site wattsupwiththat.com: "A source inside the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed many of the claims made by analyst Alan Carlin, the economist/physicist who yesterday went public with accusations that science was being ignored in evaluating the danger of CO2."

All this is particularly interesting because of the charges by Al Gore, NASA's James Hansen and others that the Bush administration and energy companies actively suppressed the truth about climate change.

One of the e-mails unearthed by CEI was dated March 12, from Al McGartland, office director at NCEE, forbidding Carlin from speaking to anyone outside NCEE on endangerment issues such as those in his suppressed report.

Carlin replied on March 16, requesting that his study be forwarded to EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, which directs EPA's climate change program. Carlin points out the peer-reviewed references in his study and points out that the new studies "explain much of the observational data that have been collected which cannot be explained by the IPCC models."

For saying the climate change emperors had no clothes, Carlin was told March 17: "The administrator and the administration have decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. . . . I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office."

In other words, the administration and Congress had their collective minds made up and didn't want to be confused with the facts. They certainly didn't want any inconvenient truths coming out of their own Environmental Protection Agency, the one that wants to regulate everything from your lawn mower to bovine emissions and which says the product of your respiration and ours, carbon dioxide, is a dangerous pollutant and not the basis for all life on earth.

The problem the warm-mongers have is they now are in a position of telling the American people, who are you going to believe — us or your own lying eyes? Forget the snow in Malibu, the record cold winters. Forget that temperatures have dropped for a decade.

In April, President Obama declared that "the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over." Apparently not, for as he spoke those very words his administration was suppressing science to advance a very pernicious ideology.


Monckton summarizes the skeptical case

The warming effect of greenhouse gases is less than one-tenth the UN's central estimate.

Spencer et al. (2008, cloud albedo); Douglass (2008, tropical mid-troposphere temperature change); Lindzen & Choi (2009 in press, outgoing long-wave radiation); and Armstrong, Green & Soon (2009 in press, zero-change benchmarking of climate forecasts) empirically confirm theoretical demonstrations (Schwartz, 2007; Monckton, 2008; Monckton & Evans, 2009 in draft) that climate sensitivity - the warming effect of all greenhouse gases, not just of CO2 - is less than one-fourth of the UN's current central estimate. A CO2 doubling would cause just 1.5 Fø warming, not the 5.9 Fø imagined by the UN.

`Global warming' is nothing new.

It was 10 Fø warmer than today in each of the past four interglacial periods; 2-3 Fø warmer for most of the past 10,000 years; warmer in the Minoan, medieval, and Roman warm periods. The rate of warming is nothing new either: the warming rate equivalent to 2.9 Fø/century from 1975-1998, when humankind might have had a small influence, was exactly the same as the warming rates from 1860-1880 and from 1910-1940 (House of Lords Written Answer, 2009).

There has been no statistically-significant `global warming' for almost 15 years.

In fact, for almost eight years, on all measures, there has been global cooling at 3.4 Fø/century. Oceans have also been cooling ever since 3300 automated bathythermographs were deployed in 2005. The ocean cooling definitively proves the UN wrong about "global warming": if there were any, 80% of it would have to show up in the top 400 fathoms of the world's oceans, but it is not happening. It follows that all recent reports that "global warming" has caused adverse weather events must be incorrect, because there has not been any. The UN's central estimate, on its "business-as-usual" scenario, is for 6 Fø warming in the 21st century, but in the 30 years since accurate satellite temperatures became available in 1980 the warming rate has averaged just 2.7 Fø/century - less than half the UN's prediction.

CO2 concentration is rising at less than half the UN's predicted rate.

The UN's central estimate is that CO2 concentration will grow exponentially to reach 836 parts per million by volume this century, but in fact it is growing linearly towards just 575 ppm. This factor alone demands a halving of all UN temperature predictions. Methane concentration stopped rising in 2000 and has hardly changed since.

Contrary to reports, the climate is doing just fine:

Global Sea-ice Extent A steady heartbeat for 30 years.

Arctic Sea Ice Normal in winter, down a little in recent summers, but well within natural variability.

Arctic Temperature Warmer in the 1930s and early 1940s than today.

North-West Passage Amundsen sailed through it in 1903. It was also open in the mid-1940s.

Greenland Mean ice-sheet thickness grew by 2 in/yr from 1993-2003 (Johannessen et al., 2005).

Polar Bears Population up fivefold since the 1940s.

Antarctic Sea Ice Growing for 30 years.

Antarctic Temperature Little change in 50 years.

Antarctic Peninsula Ice-shelves about 1/55 the area of Texas have gone, but were not there in the Middle Ages.

Sahara Desert Greening so fast that 300,000 km2 has become vegetated, allowing nomadic tribes to settle where they haven't been seen in living memory.

Droughts and Floods Variable as usual. Hurricanes and Other Tropical Cyclones Lowest activity for 30 years.

Sea Level Rising at 1 ft/century since satellite measurements began in 1993, compared with average 4 ft/century over the past 10,000 years. No sea-level rise in the last three years. UN High-end Forecast Slashed from 3ft to <2ft sea-level rise by 2100: UN best current estimate 1 ft 5 in.

Bangladesh Has gained 70,000 km2 land area confounding UN sea-level forecasts.

Pacific Atolls Not at risk: corals can grow towards the light at 10x the rate of sea-level rise, which is why so many atolls are just above sea level.

Maldives No sea-level rise in 1250 years (Morner, 2004).

Ocean acidification is a scientific impossibility. Henry's Law mandates that warming oceans will outgas CO2 to the atmosphere (as the UN's own documents predict it will), making the oceans less acid. Also, more CO2 would increase calcification rates. No comprehensive, reliable measurement of worldwide oceanic acid/base balance has ever been carried out: therefore, there is no observational basis for the computer models' guess that acidification of 0.1 pH units has occurred in recent decades.

There is no economic case for costly measures to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions. To prevent 1 Fø of warming, 1-10 trillion tons of CO2 emission would have to be foregone - the equivalent of shutting down the entire US economy for 170-1700 years. The Waxman/Markey Climate Bill would cost $160 billion/year (White House estimate) and, even if implemented fully, would cool the climate by just 0.0005-0.005 Fø/yr.

Secretary Chu's grand plan to paint the world white would cool the climate 0.2 Fø at the very most, at a cost of $200 trillion.

Overtaxing & overregulating US fossil-fuel industries would increase the world carbon footprint. Not that the carbon footprint matters (see point 1). However, if the US kills its own fossil-fuel industry, US corporations and jobs will move to China and other third-world economies, where carbon emissions per unit of output are higher than in the US. China and India will not be cutting their emissions



American researchers say they have uncovered a mathematical mistake made by the dinosaur boffinry community, meaning that the weight of live dinos has long been massively overestimated. In a development with devastating consequences for various much-fancied works of fiction, it now appears that in fact the dinosaurs were significantly slenderer than had been thought.

"Paleontologists have for 25 years used a published statistical model to estimate body weight of giant dinosaurs. By re-examining data in the original reference sample, we show that the statistical model is seriously flawed," says Gary Packard of Colorado State University.


Sun spot cycle impacting global warming and cooling

The sun has been very quiet, with a decreasing number of sunspots and flarings since January 2002, and predictions of a return to the higher cycle seen at the end of the 20th century have not verified. But there have been some recent signs of increased sunspots as of early to mid June, but it's too soon to tell if it will prove meaningful.

The calm on the surface of the sun ultimately will have some say in the course of weather across the Earth. For one, if the sunspot pattern does not revitalize soon, and continues for the next few months or years, it is conceivable that a more volatile pattern of trough formation and cold intrusions could occur, with the polar ice caps undergoing some growth and global sea surface temperatures less prone to rise in critical areas.

For instance, with an emerging El Nino the lack of solar energy influx may provide a critical boost of equatorial SSTs from going into the "strong" +ENSO designation. A weak to moderate El Nino episode, against what appears to be a neutral PDO configuration, may mean better capacity for -EPO and +PNA ridge development against an invigorated storm track running close to 30 N Latitude.

That, in combination with better-organized snow and ice fields in northern Canada, may well mean that the character of the upcoming autumn and winter could be far different (yes, longer-lasting and more frequent cold advection cases) than the past three NDJFM periods. The sun has been very quiet, with a decreasing number of sunspots and flarings since January 2002.

An active sun outputs a little more energy, more ultraviolet, which cause warming in the atmosphere through ozone chemistry, and through the diffusion of galactic cosmic rays, which normally cause increased low clouds through ion-mediated nucleation. Fewer cosmic rays mean fewer clouds, more sun. The opposite happens when the sun is quiet as it has been the last few years.

The sun has become more active so far in June with cycles 24 spots in middle latitudes.

This has been an unusual cycle. In 2003 and as late as 2006, NASA was expecting a start to the new cycle in December 2006 and a big cycle 24 peaking in 2010 or 2011. In subsequent releases by NASA, the new cycle was pushed back and estimates for the amplitude decreased.

On Sept. 23, 2008, in a briefing at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing power. "The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s," says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "This is the weakest it's been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago."

This activity came late enough in the month of May, to keep the monthly number for May below the value of 14 months ago of 3.2 that it is replacing in the 13-month running mean. That means the solar cycle minimum can’t be earlier than November 2008, making it at least a 12.5 year long cycle 23. This is about two years later than the early estimates of the solar minimum.

The value needs to fall below 3.4 in June to move the minimum to December. That is still possible if the sunspot group continues to decay as most have done as they crossed the disk in recent months. If it stays below that value, we will likely see the solar minimum in December 2008 as 14 months before that the sun was very quiet with just a sunspot number of 0.5. If not, the minimum will be November.

We added 22 more sun spotless days to the total for this cycle transition, which as of June 1 had now reached an amazing 614 days. We are likely to add additional days and add 2009 to 2007 and 2008 as recent years in the top ten since 1900. Only the early 1900s had a similar 3-year stretch of high sunspot days (1911, 1912, and 1913).

It also marks the longest cycle in 150 years, tying the one that peaked in 1848. You have to go back to the Dalton minimum in 1816 to find a longer cycle 12.7 years. In 3 of the 5 most recent cycles, the sun had rebounded significantly by years 12 and 13 well into the next cycle.

Theodore Landscheidt in New Ice Age Instead of Global Warming warned the decline could continue in solar activity until a Maunder Minimum like level was reached about 2030.

The Russians appear to agree. Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Russian Academy of Science said he and his colleagues had concluded that a period of global cooling similar to one seen in the late 17th century - when canals froze in the Netherlands and people had to leave their dwellings in Greenland - could start in 2012-2015 and reach its peak in 2055-2060.

The late Rhodes Fairbridge of Columbia University had found with the help of NASA and the JPL, every 179 years or so, the sun embarks on a new cycle of orbits. One of the cooler periods in recent centuries was the Little Ice Age of the 17th century, when the Thames River in London froze over each winter. The next cool period, if the pattern holds, began in 1996, with the effects to be felt starting in 2010. Some predict three decades of severe cold..

Clilverd et al (2006) in a paper “Predicting Solar Cycle 24 and Beyond” found by using an harmonic analysis of the multiple cycle frequencies of solar cycles in a model that correctly has caught the activity the past 250 years with a sunspot number standard deviation of 34. Their analysis suggest cycles 24 and 25 will be the lowest (quietest and thus coolest) in nearly 200 years. The two cycles should be like those of the Dalton Minimum.

Much will be learned the next 5-15 years if the solar cycle decline with cooling temperatures continues. Past studies have shown that sunspot numbers correspond to warming or cooling trends. The twentieth century has featured heightened activity, indicating a warming trend.

Solar activity has shown a major spike in the twentieth century, corresponding to global warming. This cyclic variation was acknowledged by a recent NASA study, which reviewed a great deal of past climate data. The report indicates solar cycles have been impacting Earth since the Industrial Revolution.

Some researchers believe that the solar cycle influences global climate changes. They attribute recent warming trends to cyclic variation. Skeptics, though, argue that there's little hard evidence of a solar hand in recent climate changes.

A new research study from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland looking at climate data over the past century has concluded that solar variation has made a significant impact on the Earth's climate. The report concludes that evidence for climate changes based on solar radiation can be traced back as far as the Industrial Revolution.

Past research has shown that the sun goes through eleven-year cycles. At the cycle's peak, solar activity occurring near sunspots is particularly intense, basking the Earth in solar heat. According to Robert Cahalan, a climatologist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, "Right now, we are in between major ice ages, in a period that has been called the Holocene."

Thomas Woods, solar scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder concludes, "The fluctuations in the solar cycle impacts Earth's global temperature by about 0.1 degree Celsius, slightly hotter during solar maximum and cooler during solar minimum. The sun is currently at its minimum, and the next solar maximum is expected in 2012."

According to the study, during periods of solar quiet, 1,361 watts per square meter of solar energy reaches Earth's outermost atmosphere. Periods of more intense activity brought 1.3 watts per square meter (0.1 percent) more energy.

While the NASA study acknowledged the sun's influence on warming and cooling patterns, however it concluded that man had replaced the sun as the primary cause of current warming patterns.

NASA's own new study acknowledges that solar variation has caused climate change in the past. I don’t know any scientists who disagree with that fact. And even the study's members, mostly ardent supports of AGW theory, acknowledge that the sun may play a significant role in future climate changes. Peer reviewed papers are necessary since it allows the two sides to debate the science and not the politics. Both sides claim flaws in the others methods and/or data. This ongoing process is healthy, as I doubt either side has all the answers. As I said in my global warming position paper a few years ago, we may not have to wait more than 10-15 years for indications of which side is right, the AGW side or the sun and ocean side. Both have made predictions, time will tell.


Forest owners stand to win big in climate bill

For years, landowners have gotten paid for not farming. Now they may get paid for not cutting down trees. While U.S. families could see their annual energy bills rise hundreds of dollars under a massive climate bill that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to push through the House, owners of large swaths of forestland — timber companies, large farms, even foreign countries — could reap billions of dollars.

The bill is aimed at curbing the gases, largely carbon dioxide from power plants and vehicles, blamed for global warming. But it would allow polluters to buy credits from owners of forestland as an alternative to switching to fuels other than coal and gas or installing expensive equipment to capture the greenhouse gases. The land owners would get the credits because trees suck up greenhouse gases, preventing them from reaching the atmosphere and acting like a blanket to warm the Earth.

The premise is that at some point, the sources of greenhouse gases will find it cheaper to switch to other fuels or install pollution controls than to keep paying for the credits. "In effect, the public is going to pay polluters to plant trees," says Frank O'Donnell of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch. "Does that really lead to a major improvement in global warming? I don't know and I'm not sure anybody knows."

Calculating carbon. Here's how it works, hypothetically: Say an acre of forestland sucks up two additional metric tons of carbon after a landowner plants more trees on his land or promises to rotate the way he cuts them down so more are standing at once. If the pollution market created by the legislation is currently trading at $20 a ton, then the landowner could stand to make $40 per acre if he qualifies for the program — a potentially good investment for owners of thousands of acres of forest, such as timber companies or large corporate farms.

The legislation would also extend to international forests, promising to pay some countries that agree to slow their harvesting of trees abroad. The Agriculture Department, which includes the U.S. Forest Service, will oversee the domestic program and develop regulations for verifying whether a forest owner's particular tract of land is actually capturing carbon. Farm state lawmakers had threatened to vote against the bill if the Environmental Protection Agency was given that authority. Rep. Collin Peterson, the Minnesota Democrat who led the fight to include the offsets for forests and other agricultural programs, said many farmers don't trust the EPA.

The program is not unlike another set of payments that many farmers have been receiving for years — conservation subsidies that pay farmers not to plant on environmentally sensitive land. Farmers and foresters are also exempt from the bill's greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements under the bill.


More Telling Tall Tales With Trends

This post is from last year but well worth repeating for the light it shines on the darkness at the heart of Warmism

This Spring, I pointed out a couple of times [here and here] that the inherent flaw in the Global Warming argument was the selection of an unusually low temperature period as a starting point. This results in an upward overall linear trend for all conditions. It is this "cherry picking" of historical data that allows alarmists to make "startling" comments that earth's temperature has increased by about 1° F over more than a century. This chart was used to illustrate the phenomenon:

Now a post at Icecap by George Taylor, CCM, points out another tall tale using trends. This time, the starting point was from an exceptionally snowy period so that a return to a more normal period would be seen as a dramatic reduction of snow cover in the Northwest.

The top chart was used to "prove" that global warming was causing a dramatic reduction in snow cover. The bottom chart shows the "unabridged" version. Where's Waldo? The Machiavellian approach of alarmists is obvious: the end [proving global warming] justifies the means [deception and deceit].

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The U.S. Senate is now the only hope for sanity

House narrowly passes major energy-climate bill

In a triumph for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled House narrowly passed sweeping legislation Friday that calls for the nation's first limits on pollution linked to global warming and aims to usher in a new era of cleaner, yet more costly energy. The vote was 219-212, capping months of negotiations and days of intense bargaining among Democrats. Republicans were overwhelmingly against the measure, arguing it would destroy jobs in the midst of a recession while burdening consumers with a new tax in the form of higher energy costs.

The House's action fulfilled Speaker Nancy Pelosi's vow to clear major energy legislation before July 4, and sent the measure to a highly uncertain fate in the Senate.

Obama lobbied recalcitrant Democrats by phone from the White House as the debate unfolded across several hours, and Al Gore posted a statement on his Web site saying the measure represents "an essential first step towards solving the climate crisis." The former vice president won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work drawing attention to the destructive potential of global warming.

On the House floor, Democrats hailed the legislation as historic, while Republicans said it would damage the economy without solving the nation's energy woes. It is "the most important energy and environmental legislation in the history of our country," said Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts. "It sets a new course for our country, one that steers us away from foreign oil and towards a path of clean American energy."

But Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican leader, used an extraordinary one-hour speech shortly before the final vote to warn of unintended consequences in what he said was a "defining bill." He called it a "bureaucratic nightmare" that would cost jobs, depress real estate prices and put the government into parts of the economy where it now has no role.

The legislation would require the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by about 80 percent by mid-century. That was slightly more aggressive than Obama originally wanted, 14 percent by 2020 and the same 80 percent by mid-century. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are rising at about 1 percent a year and are predicted to continue increasing without mandatory limits.

Under the bill, the government would limit heat-trapping pollution from factories, refineries and power plants and issue allowances for polluters. Most of the allowances would be given away, but about 15 percent would be auctioned by bid and the proceeds used to defray higher energy costs for lower-income individuals and families. "Some would like to do more. Some would like to do less," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in advance of the final vote. "But we have reached a compromise ... and it is a compromise that can pass this House, pass that Senate, be signed by the president and become law and make progress."

One of the biggest compromises involved the near total elimination of an administration plan to sell pollution permits and raise more than $600 billion over a decade — money to finance continuation of a middle class tax cut. About 85 percent of the permits are to be given away rather than sold in a concession to energy companies and their allies in the House — and even that is uncertain to survive in the Senate. The final bill also contained concessions to satisfy farm-state lawmakers, ethanol producers, hydroelectric advocates, the nuclear industry and others, some of them so late that they were not made public until 3 a.m. on Friday.

Supporters and opponents agreed the result would be higher energy costs but disagreed vigorously on the impact on consumers. Democrats pointed to two reports — one from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the other from the Environmental Protection Agency — that suggested average increases would be limited after tax credits and rebates were taken into account. The CBO estimated the bill would cost an average household $175 a year, the EPA $80 to $110 a year.

Republicans questioned the validity of the CBO study and noted that even that analysis showed actual energy production costs increasing $770 per household. Industry groups have cited other studies showing much higher costs to the economy and to individuals.

The White House and congressional Democrats argued the bill would create millions of "green jobs" as the nation shifts to greater reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and development of more fuel-efficient vehicles — and away from use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. It will "make our nation the world leader on clean energy jobs and technology," declared Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who negotiated deals with dozens of lawmakers in recent weeks to broaden the bill's support.

Pelosi, D-Calif., took an intense personal interest in the measure, sitting through hours of meetings with members of the rank and file and nurturing fragile compromises.

At its heart, the bill was a trade-off, less than the White House initially sought though it was more than Republicans said was acceptable. Some of the dealmaking had a distinct political feel. Rep. Alan Grayson, a first-term Democrat, won a pledge of support that $50 million from the proceeds of pollution permit sales in the bill would go to a proposed new hurricane research facility in his district in Orlando, Fla. "This is revolutionary. This is a moment in history," declared Markey, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Republicans saw it differently. This "amounts to the largest tax increase in American history under the guise of climate change," declared Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.


The hot one from the Democrats

By Wesley Pruden

You can't blame the Democrats for hurrying to enact their hot-air legislation. The public is finally paying attention, recognizing the global warming crisis for what it is, a giant scam that will cost every American plenty. The globe isn't warming - it's actually cooling, in fact - and there's no crisis.

The only "crisis" Thursday in Washington was what to do with Al Gore. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had invited the ex-veep to Washington to appear Friday with senior Democrats to make a last-minute appeal for votes for the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Note there's not a word about "global" or "warming" in the title of the legislation. Once you stink up perfectly good words, you have to find new ones. (That's why liberals now call themselves "progressives.")

Mrs. Pelosi canceled Al's invitation late Wednesday night because one of his signature rants - "the sky is falling, the earth is melting" - would likely harm, not help her cause. Mrs. Pelosi said she would prefer to have Al making harmless telephone calls from his palatial house in Tennessee, and an aide says she doesn't want him "in the air for five and half hours" when he could be sitting down outside Nashville dialing for votes. (She presumably sent him a prepaid calling card.) "It's a question of what was energy efficient for the vice president," she said. "We were narrowing the list of undecideds. We had a great narrowing of the undecideds."

Given the size of their margins in Congress, the effort to pass the global warming bill shouldn't even be close. But it is. President Obama, who imagined only yesterday that he could remain royally aloof atop Mount Olympus, parsing his favorite Urdu poetry for Islamic insights, had to step out into 91-degree heat Thursday to make still another pitch to the undecideds. "We've been talking about this issue for decades," he said. "Now is the time to act." Quickly, before the globe cools even more than it has over the past decade, he didn't dare to say.

Despite all the pressure the speaker and her flacks and minions can exert on reluctant Democrats, a considerable number of Democratic congressmen who know better and understand that their constituents are learning better every day, are reluctant to walk the plank. They don't look forward to explaining to the home folks later why their congressman voted to squeeze the life out of their communities with the largest tax increase in history.

Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, the partner in this crime with Rep. Henry Waxman of California, jokes that the global warming tax will cost every American family only $175 a year, "no more than a postage stamp a day." That's just for starters; the tax rises every year. But the tax won't rise dramatically until the year 2020, when Messrs Markey and Waxman and a lot of their colleagues are counting on being safely dead, beyond human punishment.

Like most good scams, cap and trade as outlined in the Markey-Waxman legislation is simple. The government sets a cap on how much pollution the nation's factories, cars (and flatulent cows) are allowed to expel into the atmosphere. Companies can buy, sell or trade their emissions, or lack thereof. (If the cows must be cited for violations, Al Gore, a onetime tobacco farmer, can measure the barnyard effluvium.)

But the most acute pain will be the rising costs of everything as companies pass the effects of the tax on to consumers. Nobody knows this better than Mrs. Pelosi and her merry band of robbers. When this far-reaching legislation was debated in the House Energy Committee, the Republicans offered amendments to suspend the legislation if the price of gasoline exceeds $5 a gallon, if the price of electricity rises more than 10 percent over 2009, and if the unemployment rate, now hovering close to 9 percent, exceeds 15 percent. The Democrats, who know very well the devastation this "biggest tax increase in history" is likely to wreak on American families, nevertheless defeated all three amendments.

Hypocrisy, as we know, is the tribute vice pays to virtue, and nobody is louder in tribute than certain Democrats. Just before the Gores moved into the vice presidential residence on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, they were invited by Marilyn and Dan Quayle to inspect the premises. Tipper Gore was disappointed to see that the fireplace in the master bedroom had been closed. "Well," Mrs. Quayle told her, "the fireplace is wasteful and contributes to pollution." "Oh, I know," Tipper replied. "But a fireplace in the bedroom is so cozy." When the Quayles moved out, the fireplace was reopened.



As in America, the Senate is the crucial battleground

As the US Congress considers the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the Australian Senate is on the verge of rejecting its own version of cap-and-trade. The story of this legislation's collapse offers advance notice for what might happen to similar legislation in the US-and to the whole global warming hysteria.

Since the Australian government first introduced its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation-the Australian version of cap-and-trade energy rationing-there has been a sharp shift in public opinion and political momentum against the global warming crusade. This is a story that offers hope to defenders of industrial civilization - and a warning to American environmentalists that the climate change they should be afraid of just might be a shift in the intellectual climate.

An April 29 article in The Australian described the general trend-and its leading cause.
There is rising recognition that introduction of a carbon tax under the guise of "cap and trade" will be personally costly, economically disruptive to society and tend to shift classes of jobs offshore. Moreover, despite rising carbon dioxide concentrations, global warming seems to have taken a holiday....

With public perceptions changing so dramatically and quickly it is little wonder Ian Plimer's latest book, Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, has been received with such enthusiasm and is into its third print run in as many weeks. [It's now up to the fifth printing.]

The public is receptive to an exposé of the many mythologies and false claims associated with anthropogenic global warming and are welcoming an authoritative description of planet Earth and its ever-changing climate in readable language.

One of the most remarkable changes occurred on April 13, when leading global warming hysteric Paul Sheehan - who writes for the main Sydney newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, which has done as much to hype the threat of global warming as any Australian newspaper - reviewed Plimer's book and admitted he was taken aback. He describes Plimer, correctly, as "one of Australia's foremost Earth scientists," and praised the book as "brilliantly argued" and "the product of 40 years' research and breadth of scholarship."

What does Plimer's book say? Here is Sheehan's summary:
Much of what we have read about climate change, [Plimer] argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modeling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as "primitive."...

The Earth's climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Despite this crucial relationship, the sun tends to be brushed aside as the most important driver of climate. Calculations on supercomputers are primitive compared with the complex dynamism of the Earth's climate and ignore the crucial relationship between climate and solar energy.

To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable-human-induced CO2-is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly.

In response, this is Sheehan's conclusion: "Heaven and Earth is an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." This cannot be interpreted as anything but a capitulation. It cedes to the global warming rejectionists the high ground of being "evidence-based," and it accepts the characterization of the global warming promoters as dogmatic conformists.

The political impact has been manifested in a series of climb-downs as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government has been forced to delay its plans for cap-and-trade controls. On May 4, the government announced it would postpone the onset of the scheme until mid-2011, a year later than originally planned.

On June 4, this delayed emission trading scheme passed the House of Representatives despite a vote against it by the opposition. But it now faces almost certain defeat in the Australian Senate. Whereas the Labor government controls 32 votes in the Senate, the opposition Liberal-National coalition controls 37 and is committed to vote against it if the Rudd government will not grant more time to consider the outcome of the Copenhagen climate conference in December and US Senate deliberations. This itself is a compromise position, because many of the coalition parliamentarians now want to vote unconditionally against an ETS in any form.

There are 7 other votes in the Senate: five Greens who say the scheme doesn't go far enough but who could be induced to go along; one independent, Nick Xenophon, who has pledged to vote against the bill unless the government waits till after Copenhagen; and one other, Senator Steve Fielding of the Family First Party, who has decided to investigate the whole thing first hand. Fielding could turn out to be the single deciding vote.

His story is particularly interesting. Andrew Bolt, who has been leading the charge against the global warming hysteria for years, notes that Fielding's investigation "could blow apart the great global warming scare."

Fielding went to the US to assess the American evidence for global warming at close quarters. As Melbourne's Age reported on June 4:
Senator Fielding said he was impressed by some of the data presented at the [US Heartland Institute's] climate change skeptics' conference: namely that, although carbon emissions had increased in the last 10 years, global temperature had not.

He said scientists at the conference had advanced other explanations, such as the relationship between solar activity and solar energy hitting the Earth to explain climate change.

Fielding has issued a challenge to the Obama White House to rebut the data. It will be a novel experience for them, as Fielding is an engineer and has an Australian's disregard for self-important government officials. Here is how The Age described his challenge:
Senator Fielding emailed graphs that claim the globe had not warmed for a decade to Joseph Aldy, US President Barack Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, after a meeting on Thursday…. Senator Fielding said he found that Dr. Aldy and other Obama administration officials were not interested in discussing the legitimacy of climate science.

Telling an Australian you're not interested in the legitimacy of your position is a red rag to a bull. So here is what Fielding concluded:
Until recently I, like most Australians, simply accepted without question the notion that global warming was a result of increased carbon emissions. However, after speaking to a cross-section of noted scientists, including Ian Plimer, a professor at the University of Adelaide and author of Heaven and Earth, I quickly began to understand that the science on this issue was by no means conclusive….

As a federal senator, I would be derelict in my duty to the Australian people if I did not even consider whether or not the scientific assumptions underpinning this debate were in fact correct.

What Fielding's questioning represents is just the tip of the kangaroo's tail. He speaks for a growing number of Australians who will no longer take green propaganda on trust.

And that's what makes Plimer so influential—not just his credibility as a scientist, but the righteous certainty with which he dismisses man-made global warming as an unscientific dogma. He writes: "The Emissions Trading Scheme legislation poises Australia to make the biggest economic decision in its history"—Australia generates 80% of its electricity from coal, which would essentially be outlawed—"yet there has been no scientific due diligence. There has never been a climate change debate in Australia. Only dogma."

Plimer is not a "skeptic," a term which would imply that he merely has a few doubts about the global warming claims. Instead, he rejects the whole myth outright, and this seems to have emboldened and liberated a great many Australians who were already chafing under global warming conformity. As Plimer puts it:
[T]here are a large number of punters [Australian for "customers" or "gamblers"—in this case, skeptical customers who may or may not buy what the government's selling] 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 onto a society with little scientific literacy.

Australia is not that different from America. If a shift in public opinion against the global warming dogma can happen on one side of the earth, it can happen on the other—especially when the US edition of Plimer's book, scheduled for July 1, hits the stands.

His role, Plimer says, is to show "that the emperor has no clothes." After three decades of relentless global warming propaganda, it's about time.


Lights out

Already President Obama and the Democratic Congress have raised taxes on smokers, boosting the cigarette tax. But a tax increase that affects just a fifth of the electorate is unlikely to lead to a second Boston Tea Party. The Obama budget blueprint anticipates a return to Clinton-era marginal tax rates on upper-income earners, but that can easily be justified as a tax hike borne by the wealthy who failed to pay their "fair share" while the Republicans were in office.

Cap and trade will hit the wallets of many Americans who are firmly middle-class and fancy themselves admirers of Hope and Change. That's why Republicans, even after unveiling their own energy alternative this month, have kept up the rhetorical assault against the Democrats' "national energy tax."

In every conference call and press conference on energy policy since the start of the year, House Republicans have pilloried "cap and tax." The National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a fundraising letter on Tuesday containing the following broadside: "Cap-and-trade is nothing more than a tax which starts accruing the moment you flip on your light switch. This 'light switch tax' will raise energy costs by hundreds of dollars for the average family and between 1.8 and 7 million American jobs could be lost."

Bill Clinton's honeymoon came to a close when he shelved his middle-class tax cut and proposes tax increases that didn't just fall on the top 1.5 percent. Southern and industrial state Democrats stripped his budget of the most egregious tax increases -- such as the BTU-based energy tax -- but the damage was done. Democrats in marginal districts didn't want to vote with Clinton to raise their constituents' taxes. Those who did often went down to defeat in 1994. Thus did a Congress with Democratic majorities almost as large as those President Obama enjoys today come within one vote in each house of defeating the Clinton tax increase. Were it not for the votes of Al Gore in the Senate and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky in the House, Clinton's 1993 tax-and-budget bill would have been defeated despite tiny Republican minorities.

Ask yourself where Al Gore and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky are now.

Democrats have tried to save Obama and Pelosi from the cruel fate of Waxman-Markey. Congressman Colin Petersen (D-MN) stalled the bill in the Agriculture Committee. Factions ranging from the Blue Dogs on the right to the Congressional Black Caucus on the left expressed their concerns about the bill's price tag. Petersen relented after Pelosi cut a deal. And the Blue Dogs once again seem to content to roll over and have their tummies scratched by the leadership...

According to a least one poll (pdf), cap and trade is deeply unpopular among the most Democratic voting bloc in the country: African Americans. That survey was commissioned by a group of black conservatives, but the reluctance of some in the liberal Congressional Black Caucus to support Waxman-Markey suggests that the concerns within this community are real.

Just a few more votes like this and it could be lights out for some red-state Democrats.


Trojan hearse

Indeed, the Waxman-Markey bill (as it’s commonly called, after its two chief sponsors) would be the largest tax increase in world history, as well as transfer vast wealth from consumers to big-business special interests.

And it would put Washington in charge of people’s lives in a way not seen since the Second World War—which was the last time Americans needed ration coupons to buy gasoline, food and other commodities.

The core of the complex 1,201-page bill is what’s called a “cap and trade” system. This would put a cap or limit on greenhouse-gas emissions—mainly on carbon dioxide produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas, three fuels that provide more than 80 percent of America’s energy. And the law lowers the cap every few years—ordering emissions to drop 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below by 2050.

The “trade” part of the scheme would let companies buy and sell the government-issued ration coupons. Thus, a business closing down a factory and moving overseas could sell its no-longer-needed coupons to a firm that’s still trying to stay in business.

Cap-and-trade backers tell us that it’s a reasonable, effective way of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources and higher energy efficiency. But it’s proving anything but reasonable or effective in the European Union, which started a similar scheme several years ago. The prices of ration coupons have fluctuated wildly, electric rates have risen steeply and emissions haven’t gone down (at least not until businesses began curtailing production in this recession).

But even if it produced the promised results, cap-and-trade wouldn’t be worth it. For starters, the bill’s sneaky, indirect tax is still a tax—and a huge one. This would vastly increase fossil-fuel prices—which would make greens happy by making higher-priced alternatives such as wind power competitive, but would make Americans as a whole miserable, by forcing us to use less energy and pay much more for it.

Realize, too, that almost every recession of the last 60 years, including today’s mess, has followed a sharp rise in energy prices. Why would we want lawmakers to mandate a recession?

Understandably, Waxman-Markey’s supporters pretend the bill’s impact won’t be too severe. But independent economic studies have estimated the costs from $1,500 to more than $3,000 per year for the average family.

Then, this week, the Congressional Budget Office released an estimate of just $175 a year per family—then dropped it to $80. Green groups crowed—but no one really believes that number.

Certainly, the bill’s supporters in Congress don’t. If they did, these Democrats wouldn’t have voted down Republican amendments to the measure that would have suspended cap-and-trade if gasoline hit $5 a gallon, electricity prices doubled or unemployment topped 15 percent.

For that matter, similar government policies in Britain are already costing families $1,200 a year—and that’s in just the early stages.

During last year’s campaign, Sen. Barack Obama acknowledged: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

And the Obama plan was less pernicious than Waxman-Markey. It would at least auction off the ration coupons, giving the federal government revenues that could fund programs or reduce the debt. Waxman-Markey gives away 85 percent of the ration coupons to big corporations. So while American consumers are stuck with ever rising energy prices, special interests will make enormous windfall profits.)


The Climate Change Climate Change

The number of skeptics is swelling everywhere


Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation. If you haven't heard of this politician, it's because he's a member of the Australian Senate. As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to pass a climate-change bill, the Australian Parliament is preparing to kill its own country's carbon-emissions scheme. Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming.

Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as "deniers." The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)

The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Credit for Australia's own era of renewed enlightenment goes to Dr. Ian Plimer, a well-known Australian geologist. Earlier this year he published "Heaven and Earth," a damning critique of the "evidence" underpinning man-made global warming. The book is already in its fifth printing. So compelling is it that Paul Sheehan, a noted Australian columnist -- and ardent global warming believer -- in April humbly pronounced it "an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." Australian polls have shown a sharp uptick in public skepticism; the press is back to questioning scientific dogma; blogs are having a field day.

The rise in skepticism also came as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected like Mr. Obama on promises to combat global warming, was attempting his own emissions-reduction scheme. His administration was forced to delay the implementation of the program until at least 2011, just to get the legislation through Australia's House. The Senate was not so easily swayed.

Mr. Fielding, a crucial vote on the bill, was so alarmed by the renewed science debate that he made a fact-finding trip to the U.S., attending the Heartland Institute's annual conference for climate skeptics. He also visited with Joseph Aldy, Mr. Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, where he challenged the Obama team to address his doubts. They apparently didn't.

This week Mr. Fielding issued a statement: He would not be voting for the bill. He would not risk job losses on "unconvincing green science." The bill is set to founder as the Australian parliament breaks for the winter.

Republicans in the U.S. have, in recent years, turned ever more to the cost arguments against climate legislation. That's made sense in light of the economic crisis. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi fails to push through her bill, it will be because rural and Blue Dog Democrats fret about the economic ramifications. Yet if the rest of the world is any indication, now might be the time for U.S. politicians to re-engage on the science. One thing for sure: They won't be alone.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.