Monday, January 11, 2010


I guess I do hate frauds. A reader writes: "I am a frequent reader of your Blog and tried to access it from computers in internet cafes while in the UK last summer. Your site, Greenie Watch, is censored in the UK from public computers such as libraries, internet cafes, etc. It seems your site contains or promotes hate speech and is banned. I presume but don't know if private parties can access your site."

Any readers who encounter such problems should ask the proprietor of the computer service concerned to unblock access. Point out that the blog is an academic one that makes no mention of minorities other than climate skeptics.

In the meantime, there are ways around the block. There are two mirror sites that are unlikely to be blocked. See here.

More on the radon hysteria

The EPA goes ever further downhill scientifically

We read here a summary of the evidence by a consultant on the subject:
"There are NO valid studies that have conclusively demonstrated that typical residential exposures to radon increase the risk of cancer at all. In fact, all of the valid studies performed thus far show one of two things: 1) No risk and/or 2) a decreasing risk of cancer."

"So, just how hazardous is radon? We have to remember that there are degrees of exposure, ranging from massive doses seen in miners who also inhale other contaminants, to minimal, negligible doses seen in residential scenarios. The “hazard” (risk) is incumbent on the dose received, and the duration of the received dose, not on some absolute “harm” associated with the radioactive gas at any dose. Elevated levels of radon (and thus the SLRDs) are unquestionably a significant health hazard, but similarly, we simply do not see those kinds of elevated levels in homes, and at concentrations of radon seen in residences, there appears to be no elevated risk (and many studies show the risk of cancer is actually is lower in an house with a little radon than in an house with “no” radon.)"

When a consultant, whose job depends on being right, to the point of probably being legally culpable for bad advice, contradicts the accepted EPA "wisdom," I think it's probably a good bet we can trust him. He also gives references that allow us to check his conclusions.

For a further debunking of the EPA crap see: Hyping Health Risks – Environmental Hazards in daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology by Geoffrey C. Kabat. The author is a cancer epidemiologist and currently holds the position of senior epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Chapter 6 provides chapter and verse on radon and studies about its impact on cancer, or lack of impact unless you happen to be a smoker.

Editorial reviews from Amazon:
"Hyping Health Risks provides a valuable counterpoint to the confusion and paranoia that seems to grow proportionate to the constant barrage of health risk studies. Examining four of the most persistent and controversial issues in public health, Kabat's lucid and well-written book gives the lay reader all the basic concepts and epidemiological tools she needs to understand the available evidence. His presentation allows us to better discriminate between what matters to our health and what matters to the 'hypers'-a wide array of stakeholders, some well-intentioned, some much less so. -- Ernest Drucker, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Geoffrey C. Kabat, a respected epidemiologist, provides an insider's account of how a number of ostensible health hazards have been blown out of proportion. While we face a daily barrage of health scares, Kabat cuts through the confusion and provides a lucid and rigorous rationale for rejecting much of the fear culture that permeates our society. -- Shelly Ungar, University of Toronto

With clarity and dispassion, Geoffrey C. Kabat challenges widespread beliefs that secondhand smoke, low levels of radon, and other ostensible environmental nemeses are certain killers. In making his case, Kabat draws extensively on scientific evidence while shunning rhetoric and political posturing. The result is an admirable search for scientific truth amid a sea of conflicting and often uninformed opinions. -- Leonard Cole, Rutgers University

Climate change: the true price of the warmists' folly is becoming clear

From the Met Office's mistakes to Gordon Brown's wind farms, the cost of 'green' policies is growing, warns Christopher Booker from Britain

Impeccable was the timing of that announcement that directors of the Met Office were last year given pay rises of up to 33 per cent, putting its £200,000-a-year chief executive into a higher pay bracket than the Prime Minister. As Britain shivered through Arctic cold and its heaviest snowfalls for decades, our global-warming-obsessed Government machine was caught out in all directions.

For a start, we saw Met Office spokesmen trying to explain why it had got its seasonal forecasts hopelessly wrong for three cold winters and three cool summers in a row. The current cold snap, we were told with the aid of the BBC – itself facing an inquiry into its relentless obsession with “global warming” – was just a “regional” phenomenon, due to “natural” factors. No attempt was made to explain why the same freezing weather is affecting much of the northern hemisphere (with 1,200 places in the US alone last week reporting record snow and low temperatures). And this is the body on which, through its Hadley Centre for Climate Change and the discredited Climatic Research Unit, the world’s politicians rely for weather forecasting 100 years ahead.

Then, as councils across Britain ran out of salt for frozen roads, we had the Transport Minister, Lord Adonis, admitting that we entered this cold spell with only six days’ supply of grit. No mention of the fact that the Highways Agency and councils had been advised that there was no need for them to stockpile any more – let alone that many councils now have more “climate change officials” than gritters.

Then, with the leasing out of sites for nine giant offshore wind farms, there was Gordon Brown’s equally timely relaunch of his “£100 billion green revolution”, designed, in compliance with EU targets, to meet a third of Britain’s electricity needs. This coincided with windless days when Ofgem was showing that our 2,300 existing turbines were providing barely 1/200th of our power. In fact, 80 per cent of the electricity we used last week came either from coal-fired power stations, six of which are before long to be closed under an EU anti-pollution directive, or from gas, of which we only have less than two weeks’ stored supply and 80 per cent of which we will soon have to import on a fast-rising world market.

In every way, Mr Brown’s boast was fantasy. There is no way we could hope to install two giant £4 million offshore turbines every day between now and 2020, let alone that they could meet more than a fraction of our electricity needs. But the cost of whatever does get built will be paid by all of us through our already soaring electricity bills – which a new study last week predicted will quadruple during this decade to an average of £5,000 a year. This would drive well over half the households in Britain into “fuel poverty”, defined as those forced to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on energy.

Finally, following Mr Brown’s earlier boast that his “green revolution” will create “400,000 green jobs”, there was the revelation that more than 90 per cent of the £2 billion cost of Britain’s largest offshore wind farm project to date, the Thames Array, will go to companies abroad, because Britain has virtually no manufacturing capacity.

At last, in all directions, we are beginning to see the terrifying cost of that obsession with “global warming” and “green energy” which for nearly 20 years has had all our main political parties in its grip. For years governments, including the EU, have been shovelling millions of pounds into the coffers of “green” lobby groups, such as Friends of the Earth and the WWF, allowing them in return virtually to dictate our energy policy. Not for nothing is a former head of WWF-UK now chairman of the Met Office.

The bills for such follies are coming in thick and fast. Last winter’s abnormal cold pushed Britain’s death rate up to 40,000 above the average, more than the 35,000 deaths across Europe that warmists love to attribute to the heatwave of 2003. Heaven knows what this winter will bring. And remember that the cost of the Climate Change Act alone has been estimated by our Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband at £18 billion every year until 2050 – a law that only three MPs in this Rotten Parliament dared oppose. Truly have they all gone off their heads.


British Warmists undercut German Warmists

Climate science faces a new controversy after the Met Office denounced research from the Copenhagen summit which suggested that global warming could raise sea levels by 6ft by 2100. The research, published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, created headline news during the United Nations summit on climate change in Denmark last month. It predicted an apocalyptic century in which rising seas could threaten coastal communities from England to Bangladesh and was the latest in a series of studies from Potsdam that has gained wide acceptance among governments and environmental campaigners.

Besides underpinning the Copenhagen talks, the research is also likely to be included in the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This would elevate it to the level of global policy-making.

However, the studies, led by Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of ocean physics at Potsdam, have caused growing concern among other experts. They say his methods are flawed and that the real increase in sea levels by 2100 is likely to be far lower than he predicts. Jason Lowe, a leading Met Office climate researcher, said: "These predictions of a rise in sea level potentially exceeding 6ft have got a huge amount of attention, but we think such a big rise by 2100 is actually incredibly unlikely. The mathematical approach used to calculate the rise is simplistic and unsatisfactory."

The row comes just weeks after the so-called climategate affair when emails leaked from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit revealed how scientists tried to withhold data from public scrutiny.

The new controversy, which has no connection with Climategate, dates back to January 2007, when Science magazine published a research paper by Rahmstorf linking the 7in rise in sea levels from 1881-2001 with a 0.7C rise in global temperature over the same period. Most scientists accept those data and agree that sea levels will continue to rise. However, Rahmstorf then parted company from colleagues by extrapolating the findings to 2100 — when the world is projected to have warmed by up to 6.4C unless greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced. Based on the 7in increase in 1881-2001, Rahmstorf calculated that such a spike in temperature would raise sea levels by up to 74in — a jump that stunned other experts. They say it is unsafe to use the relatively small increases in sea levels seen in the 19th and 20th centuries to predict such extreme changes in future.

Another critic is Simon Holgate, a sea-level expert at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Merseyside. He has written to Science magazine, attacking Rahmstorf's work as "simplistic". "Rahmstorf is very good at publishing extreme papers just before big conferences like Copenhagen when they are guaranteed attention," said Holgate. "The problem is that his methods are biased to generate large numbers for sea-level rise which cannot be justified but which attract headlines."

One key problem cited by Holgate is that much of the 1881-2001 sea-level rise came from small glaciers melting in regions such as the Alps and Himalayas. Such glaciers are, however, disappearing fast and will be largely gone by 2050. It means further rises in sea levels would have to come from increased melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.

These hold enough water to raise global sea levels by more than 200ft, but their recent contribution to sea-level rise has been negligible. Jonathan Gregory, a sea-level specialist at the Met Office, said: "We do not know enough about the physics of large ice sheets to predict how global temperature rise will affect them. My concern about these extreme predictions is that they could discredit the whole process because they are not backed up by solid science and that is vital in such a political area of research.”

Rahmstorf said he accepted the criticisms but his work was "the best system we have got". He added: “I agree that there has been too little research into the behaviour of ice sheets but that is exactly why I did this research. It uses simple measurements of historic changes in the real world to show a direct relationship between temperature rise and sea level increase and it works stunningly well.”

Rahmstorf said the last decade had, however, seen preliminary evidence suggesting that the ice sheets of Greenland and West Antarctica were becoming unstable. He said: "In my heart I hope my critics are right because a rise of the kind my work predicts would be catastrophic," he said. "But as a scientist I have to look at the evidence . . . my figures for sea-level rise are likely to be an underestimate of what the world will face by 2100."


Britain's thinking on climate is frozen solid

The recent icy temperatures have been accompanied by negligible amounts of wind. If we had already decommissioned any of our fossil-fuel power stations and replaced them with wind power, we would now be facing a genuine civil emergency rather than merely inconvenience

Here’s how it is down our way. The oil tank that powers our central heating is running worryingly low, but for days fuel lorries have been unable to navigate the frozen track that links us to the nearest main road. We would have gained much welcome heat from incandescent light bulbs, but as those have been banned by the government as part of the “fight against climate change”, no such luck.

On the good side, the absence of delivered newspapers — even the faithful paperboy has given up the unequal struggle to reach us — means I won’t be getting any more headaches from attempting to read newsprint under the inadequate light shed by “low-energy” bulbs. Nevertheless, the news has reached our Sussex farmhouse that the Conservatives have already begun the general election campaign, covering hoardings nationwide with pictures of David Cameron looking serious.

Many will be appalled by the promise of months of being force-fed with party political argument. There is something much worse than being confronted with non-stop debate, however: it is the prospect of being offered no choice and no debate when all three main parties have the same policy. This is what happened in the general election of 1992, when the Conservative government and its Labour and Liberal Democrat opponents were united in the view that sterling should remain linked to the deutschmark via the exchange-rate mechanism (ERM). This had been forcing the unnecessary closure of thousands of businesses as Bank of England interest rates went up and up to maintain an exchange rate deemed morally virtuous by the entire political establishment — and, indeed, by every national newspaper.

As everyone now knows (and as we deeply unfashionable “ERM deniers” warned at the time), it would all end in tears. A few months after that general election, the re-elected Conservative government was compelled by the forces of reality to abandon this discredited bulwark of its economic policy, a humiliation that destroyed the Tories’ reputation for competence or even common sense.

Now, almost a generation later, we face another election in which the main parties are united in a single masochistic view: that the nation must cut its carbon emissions by 80% — this is what all but five MPs voted for in the Climate Change Act — to save not just ourselves but also the entire planet from global warming. For this to happen — to meet the terms of the act, I mean, not to “save the world” — the typical British family will have to pay thousands of pounds a year more in bills, since the cost of renewable energy is so much higher than that of oil, gas and coal.

The vast programme of wind turbines for which the bills are now coming in will not, by the way, avert the energy cut-offs declared last week by the national grid. Quite the opposite: as is often the case, the recent icy temperatures have been accompanied by negligible amounts of wind. If we had already decommissioned any of our fossil-fuel power stations and replaced them with wind power, we would now be facing a genuine civil emergency rather than merely inconvenience.

There are other portents of impending crisis caused entirely by the political fetish of carbon reduction. As noted in this column three weeks ago, the owners of the Corus steel company stand to gain up to $375m (£234m) in European Union carbon credits for closing their plant in Redcar, only to be rewarded on a similar scale by the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism fund for switching such production to a new “clean” Indian steel plant. That’s right: the three main British political parties — under the mistaken impression that CO2 is itself a pollutant — are asking us to vote for them on the promise that they are committed to subsidise the closure of what is left of our own industrial base.

The collapse of the UN’s climate change summit in Copenhagen makes such a debacle all the more likely. Countries such as India, China and Brazil have made it clear they have not the slightest intention of rejecting the path to prosperity that the developed world has already taken: to use the cheapest sources of energy available to lift their peoples out of hardship, extreme poverty and isolation. Britons may be forced by their own government to cut their carbon emissions — equivalent to less than 2% of the world’s total; but we can forget about the idea that this will encourage any of those much bigger countries to defer their own rapid industrialisation.

Just as the British public never shared the politicians’ unanimous worship of the ERM totem (which is why the voters’ subsequent vengeance upon the governing Tories was implacable), so the public as a whole is much less convinced by the doctrine of man-made global warming than the Palace of Westminster affects to be: the most recent polls suggest only a minority of the population is convinced by the argument. This has caused some of the more passionate climate change catastrophists to question the virtues of democracy and to hanker after a dictatorial government that would treat such dissent as treason. As Professors Nico Stehr and Hans von Storch warned in Der Spiegel last month: “Climate policy must be compatible with democracy; otherwise the threat to civilisation will be much more than just changes to our physical environment.”

The threat of a gulf between a sceptical public and a political class determined — as it would see it — on saving us from the consequences of our own stupidity can have only been increased by the Arctic freeze that has enveloped not just Britain but also the rest of northern Europe, China and the United States. Of course one winter’s unexpected savagery does not in itself disprove any theories of man-made global warming, as the climate change gurus are hastily pointing out. Steve Dorling, of the University of East Anglia’s school of environmental sciences — yes, the UEA of “climategate” email fame — warns that it is “wrong to focus on single events, which are the product of natural variability”.

Quite so; but it would be easier to accept the point that a particular episode of extreme and unexpected cold was entirely due to “natural variations” if the UEA’s chaps had not been so adept at publicising every recent drought or heatwave as possible evidence of “man’s impact”, and if David Viner (then a senior climate scientist at UEA) had not made a headline in The Independent a decade ago by warning that in a few years “British children just aren’t going to know what snow is”.

A period of humility and even silence would be particularly welcome from the Met Office, our leading institutional advocate of the perils of man-made global warming, which had promised a “barbecue summer” in 2009 and one of the “warmest winters on record”. In fact, the Met still asserts we are in the midst of an unusually warm winter — as one of its staffers sniffily protested in an internet posting to a newspaper last week: “This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”

After reading this I printed it off and ran out into the snow to show it to my wife, who for some minutes had been unavailingly pounding up and down on our animals’ trough to break the ice. She seemed a bit miserable and, I thought, needed cheering up. “Darling,” I said, “the Met Office still insists that we are enjoying an unseasonably warm winter.”

“Well, why don’t you tell the animals, too?” she said. “Because that would mean they are drinking water instead of staring at a block of ice and I am not jumping up and down on it in front of them like an idiot.”


Japan loses patience with Australia's support for ecoterrorists

JAPAN has risked an open breach with the Rudd government by hitting back hard at Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard's handling of last week's whaling confrontation in the Southern Ocean. Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials have accused Ms Gillard of aggravating the whaling controversy between Tokyo and Canberra, and called for Australian action to prevent further illegal activities by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

The officials warned a senior Australian diplomat on Friday that Ms Gillard's statements immediately before and after the collision between Sea Shepherd's speedboat and a Japanese whaling ship were inflaming public opinion in Japan and making diplomatic resolution of the underlying dispute harder to realise.

This is the toughest public stance a Japanese government has taken towards Australia on Antarctic whaling -- or any other issue -- in recent times and is also highly unusual in singling out for criticism a senior member of a friendly government.

The move betrays Japanese frustration with the Australians' political management of the issue, including Kevin Rudd's repeated threats of international legal action against so-called scientific whaling, while not obviously helping to curb hazardous protest activities, including Sea Shepherd's efforts to disable whaling ships.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs senior officials told acting Japan ambassador Allan McKinnon it was "not appropriate" for Ms Gillard to urge Japanese whalers and the activists in equal terms to show restraint, "notwithstanding the Sea Shepherd itself was conducting the unlawful rampage".

Sea Shepherd accuses the Shonan Maru 2 crew of deliberately running over Ady Gil during a day of confrontation in which the activists' speedboat ran across the Japanese factory ship's bow and allegedly tried to entangle its propellers.

Ms Gillard yesterday stood by her call for calm on both sides and for Japanese and Sea Shepherd skippers to ensure crews' safety as their first duty. "These are extremely dangerous conditions and it is likely Australia would be called upon to deploy a search and rescue mission if things were to go horribly wrong," Ms Gillard said. "It is not therefore inappropriate for Australia to call for calm from both sides in these circumstances."

Japanese officials questioned the jurisdiction of Australia's Maritime Safety Authority to investigate last week's collision. Without access to the crew of Shonan Maru 2, any finding by an Australian inquiry into the collision is likely to be meaningless.

The Japanese have agreed to co-operate with a New Zealand investigation (Ady Gil was New Zealand-registered) and they are expected to vigorously contest a piracy complaint lodged in a Dutch court by Sea Shepherd on Friday...

Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, in answer to questions from The Australian, have called for the Australian Federal Police to investigate Sea Shepherd's actions the next time its vessels put into an Australian port. Japanese officials were already annoyed that the Steve Irwin, which uses Australian ports for its annual Southern Ocean campaigns, was allowed to put into Hobart without question late last month after initiating the first clashes of the season.

They told Mr McKinnon that Ms Gillard's call for the Institute of Cetacean Research to suspend charter flights monitoring the Sea Shepherd vessels that have been harrying the whaling fleet since mid-December "has already unnecessarily provoked the Japanese public opinion". "This has invited the Japanese public (to) call for a strong protest and it might impair both governments' will to lead the whaling issue to a resolution through diplomatic efforts," said a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Japan aims to slaughter nearly 1000 minke whales this summer for "scientific research", as well as 20 rare fin whales and 50 humpbacks. It has urged Canberra to distinguish between official Australian opposition to Antarctic whaling and illegal acts in international waters that put at risk Japanese crewmen and ships....

Ms Gillard yesterday maintained that the Australian government was "pursuing its anti-whaling position through the appropriate diplomatic and legal channels very strongly". "The government also respects the right of those who also oppose whaling to protest, and to do so peacefully," she said. [The ecoterrorists are "peaceful"???]

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said yesterday the government's handling of whaling was damaging Australia's relationship with Japan. She said Mr Rudd should either fulfil his pre-election promise to pursue international legal sanctions against Japan or withdraw the threat.



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


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