Sunday, February 07, 2010

Global cooling paralyses US East coast

A RECORD-breaking blizzard dumped thick snow across the US east coast overnight, paralysing the region and snapping power to hundreds of thousands of people, as two people were killed on the roads. The monster storm, dubbed "Snowpocalypse" and "Snowmageddon," stretched hundreds of miles from eastern Indiana across into Pennsylvania and then down through Maryland as far south as North Carolina. With winds gusting at almost 90 kilometers an hour, meteorologists said they had recorded snowfall as high as 96 centimeters in parts of northern Maryland - a historic high for the state.

The heavy, sticky snow toppled trees and sagged power lines, leaving more than 350,000 people without electricity in Maryland and neighboring Virginia, officials said. "Snowmageddon here in DC," President Barack Obama told Democrats in a speech, only a year after chiding the capital city for its cautious response to small snowfalls.

Forecasters warned residents to hunker down, with no let-up in the weather for most of the day, and said chilly temperatures on Sunday would mean the wet snow would swiftly turn icy. "It's hanging on, and hanging on," Paul Kochin, an expert in northeast weather systems with the National Weather Service, said. "Officially this won't break records in DC, but unofficially, you bet it will. It's very rare to have two such big storms in one season," he said, after the capital region was already crippled by a smaller storm in December.

Maryland, followed by neighboring Virginia, were bearing the brunt of the storm and seeing the highest snowfalls, he said. "It's pretty rough out there," agreed Ed McDonough from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. "The roads are very difficult to travel... and we are seeing a spike in power outages. We are telling local residents to stay home, enjoy the time with their families and let the highway crews do their work."

Emergency crews struggled to repair the power outages hampered by the miserable weather. "We have a lot of scattered outages and the road conditions are not really working with us," admitted Pepco spokesman Andre Francis, pleading for patience as some customers were told the blackouts could last days.

Some 200 National Guardsmen had been deployed across Maryland, while in Virginia police confirmed that a father and son were killed Friday when they stopped to help a stranded car. Police in the state had responded to some 3167 calls for help, more than two-thirds of which were due to car accidents or stranded vehicles. Three state troopers were also injured in storm-related accidents. Virginia was also opening up public shelters in local schools for those without power.

In the normally bustling capital, sight-seers were walking thigh-deep in the snow along the famous national mall. Alix Lawe, who works with the US Air Force, was out for a run in the snow, and said: "It's so fun. I'm from Florida, I've never seen so much snow."

Snow plows were out trying to keep emergency routes and main highways clear, but most officials said it would take days to reach the smaller streets, and warned of a difficult Monday morning commute. The National Weather Service (NWS) has put the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area under a rare 24-hour blizzard warning until 10pm (local time).

All flights out of the capital's Reagan National airport were canceled, along with most flights out of Dulles International Airport in Virginia, while there was a limited service at Baltimore. A hangar roof collapsed at the Dulles Jet Center early Saturday according to Rob Yengling, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokesman. Five people spending the night inside to shelter from the storm escaped without injuries.

The capital's subway system has shut down 40 above ground stations, meaning transport links between Washington and its heavily-populated suburbs were snapped with most major roads impassable, knocking out bus services.

But some people were determined to enjoy the winter's second biggest storm in the area, with 5000 turning out for a mass snowball fight in central Washington.


Disclosing the Real Risks on Climate Change

We are not weighing in on the climate debate. We are not opining on whether the world’s climate is changing, at what pace or due to what causes, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Shapiro insisted on announcing the SEC’s new “interpretive guidance” on climate change.

The Commission’s two Republican members objected that the Obama Administration was using the Commission to promote its global warming and renewable energy agenda (along with the EPA, NASA, Defense and Interior Departments and others). It’s true, but irrelevant.

Environmentalists and “ethical investing” groups had pressured the Commission for years to require corporate disclosure on climate matters. Now, as the SEC steps in, the Copenhagen treaty negotiations have collapsed in disarray. Cap-and-trade has bogged down over senators’ fears of further damage to the economy and their reelection chances. The Environmental Protection Agency has decreed that plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide is a “dangerous pollutant,” because senators are increasingly reluctant to micromanage the economy, companies and families, but the regs are likely to go nowhere.

Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph and ClimateGate email scandals have metastasized into a tsunami of revelations that have besmirched the IPCC’s credibility and its role as dominant arbiter on matters of energy and climate. Manipulated and missing temperature data. Doctored computer models and disaster scenarios. Alarmist scientists rejecting any studies that dissent from climate catastrophe claims. Headline-grabbing disaster “studies” about melting glaciers and parched rainforests based on rank speculation or written by World Wildlife Fund activists. “Mann-made” climate change, indeed.

Investors certainly do have a “fundamental right to know” which companies are well positioned to address future crises and opportunities, and which are not – as we are frequently reminded by activist investor groups like Institutional Shareholder Services and CALPERS. However, these groups want to use the SEC decision to drive cap-and-trade laws and “endangerment” rulings forward, and drive hydrocarbon use and users into oblivion.

Many companies have been cowed into going along with this agenda. They seek to gain “a seat at the negotiating table,” curry favorable PR through “greenwashing” and “green-nosing,” protect themselves against lawsuits over CO2 emissions and global warming, or profit from renewable energy mandates, subsidies and stimulus grants.

But the “right to know” extends far beyond the activists’ narrow agenda. Indeed the lesson may be that this SEC guidance offers a tremendous opportunity for any company or investor wise enough to seize it. For the new guidance does not say companies must disclose only alleged risks from climate change.

It says they should also address impacts from legislation, regulation, international accords and their effects on business trends. This creates valuable opportunities for educating investors, customers, employees and voters about climate change issues.

Some 2,400 lobbyists are working on energy and climate issues in Washington. General Electric alone spent $7.6 million lobbying in the second quarter 2009, to secure stimulus, climate change and renewable energy dollars from US taxpayers. GE hopes to garner up to $192 billion over the next several years from projects funded by governments worldwide, including renewables and electricity grid modernization.

Wind turbine and solar panel sales are high on GE’s list, and will play a growing role. However, their electricity is 3-5 times more expensive than coal-based power, which translates into big taxpayer subsidies and more factory layoffs. Moreover, generating just 20% of US electricity with wind power would require some 186,000 turbines, 19,000 miles of new transmission lines, 18,000,000 acres of land (half of Illinois), and 270,000,000 tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass and rare earth minerals (the equivalent of 180,000,000 Toyota Priuses). Even worse, a West Texas wind farm now under construction created 2,800 jobs – but 2,400 of them are in China. Solar power issues are similar.

Insurance companies and reinsurers may want to “disclose” alleged 20-foot higher sea levels and more violent hurricanes conjured up by computer models. These Gore and IPCC scare stories can translate into “increased risk,” higher premiums and additional profits. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says carbon permits could be a “boon” for the Big Apple’s financial sector, creating a commodities market of “as much as $3 trillion by 2020.”

Other members of the climate-industrial-government-activist-scientist complex likewise have a big stake in global warming disasters and massive government spending to “prevent a cataclysm” and terminate our “perilous dependence on fossil fuels.” Exelon, Duke Energy, Penn State (Mike Mann again), NASA and other institutions all see huge potential returns on “investments” in climate alarmism and lobbying.

But 38 states depend on coal for 35-98% of their electricity and a sizable portion of their jobs and tax revenues. While others get rich, they will pay dearly. While a few members left the US Chamber, because it opposes cap-and-trade legislation – most recognize the risks in laws and regs that will send energy costs skyrocketing, ship millions of jobs overseas, and shackle living standards and civil rights across America.

Carbon emissions trading on the Chicago Climate Exchange began at $1 per metric ton in January 2004. Prices then fluctuated wildly, reaching a $7 peak value in May 2008, before crashing to $0.10 in October 2009. Speculators who entered the carbon market on 5/30/08 lost 98.6% of their investment.

Imagine how they might have fared if SEC rules had compelled utility companies, the Chicago Climate Exchange, and Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management firm to truthfully disclose what was going on in the IPCC, Climate Research Unit and NASA. Imagine the roller coaster ride that GE, Exelon and Munich RE investors could take, as more sordid details come out of the IPCC, concerns soar about US deficits and credit ratings, and taxpayer anger rises over climate fraud, subsidies, and sweetheart deals that corporate lobbyists have negotiated with Congress and the Administration.

(Pfizer and Big Pharma’s recent experience with Congress over Obamacare should serve as a cautionary tale. See Kimberly Strassel, “Pfizer’s bad political bet,” Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2009.)

Investors have right to know all of this. That’s where the SEC guidance offers vital opportunities for intelligent investors and socially responsible companies. They should carefully consider how to comply with the Commission’s ruling in the areas it has identified.

Physical impacts of climate change: Are the impacts real, or generated by computers and activists? What is the current state of climate science and its integrity, transparency and accountability?

Impacts of legislation, regulation and international accords: Are purported future profits based on current and reliable vote counts? Realistic assessments that a binding climate treaty will be agreed to? As Climategate unfolds and 2010 elections approach, will wind turbine makers and carbon traders benefit – or will it be hydrocarbon-based industries like chemicals, manufacturing, airlines and tourism?

Indirect impacts on business trends: Are profit projections based on melting glaciers and other Climategate fraud, greenwashing, backroom lobbyist deals, or wishful carbon trading? How will new laws affect demand for goods in industries that have recently been extolled – or vilified?

It is becoming increasingly clear that the real risks to businesses, investors, employees, and low-income, minority and elderly families are not due to climate change. They are the result of policies enacted in the name of preventing climate change. The SEC guidance can help identify risks and opportunities – and advise people about them in a timely, accurate, responsible manner. Socially responsible companies will seize the opportunity.


Warming advocates feel the heat

The beware-of-warming crowd is starting to feel the heat. And it isn’t because of a warming planet either. It almost seems as if everything that could go wrong for them, is going wrong.

Now, I would never be one to claim that weather anomaly is proof that anthropogenic warming is wrong. I know that particular weather disproves climate change. We all know that such things can only prove that warming exists. In the realm of warming activism weather is a one way street. So Katrina was proof of warming. That 1998 was a particularly warm year was proof of warming. That California experiences droughts is all part of warming. Ditto for droughts in the UK, or floods, either will do. But still those nasty cold winters that seem worse than usual are never proof of anything but they do cause the public to wonder.

And this winter has been another very nasty one. Consider the poor people on Hiddensee, an island just off the German mainland. This resort island is completely ice bound. The German military has been flying in to rescue tourists on the island. Resident of the island rely on trade with the mainland for their food supplies and so shelves were getting bare. The military also flew in food. According to Spiegel the sea between Hiddensee and the island of RĂ¼gen “is now an ice sheet around 30 centimeters (12 inches) thick. An icebreaker failed to make it through to Hiddensee on Monday forcing the authorities to use helicopters to supply the island and pick up trapped vacationers.” Spiegel says that the ice “is not expected to melt until the end of February” which seems to imply that regular helicopter food deliveries will be required. Some tourists, trapped on the island when ferry service as shut down due to the ice, didn't heed the advice of authorities and walked across the Baltic Sea in order to get home.

Like the awful cold that gripped North American and the UK, this weather front is bringing record snows as well. Roofs have collapsed due to the weight of snow and “hundreds of drivers were forced to spend the night in their cars and truces on the A45 and A5 highways due to heavy snowfall.”

Floridians might also be wondering where the warming went. The L.A. Times reports “January’s bitter cold may have wiped out many of the shallow-water corals in the Florida Keys.” The paper reports that “given the depth and duration of the frigid weather” some damage was expected. But Meaghan Johnson of Nature Conservancy reported widespread, severe damage. “Star and brain corals, large species that can take hundreds of years to grow, were as white and lifeless as bones, frozen to death, she said. Dead sea turtles, eels and parrotfish also littered the bottom.”

The paper says that Florida Fish and Wildlife reported “that a record number of endangered manatees had succumbed to the cold this year—77, according to a preliminary review. The previous record, 56, was set last year.”

Meanwhile the scientists who have led the campaign to convince the world of the dangers of warming are under scrutiny as never before. Major media sources, for the first time in memory, are starting to investigate the InterGOVERNMENTAL Panel on Climate Change and the tiny band of warming advocates who make up the elite in that field. The New Zealand Herald, the largest newspaper in the country, recently editorialized about the need for “facts, not anecdotes” from the IPCC.

The editors at the Herald, previously staunch warmers themselves, noted that they way to discredit a report is to find one mistake. But when it comes to the IPCC: “more than one mistake had been found” and the errors (if unintentional) “are hardly peripheral.” The editors listed claims regarding the Himalayan glaciers as one example and said that the IPCC was “notified of this [error] in 2006 and yet the claim appeared in the 2007 report.” They also lament the IPCC using “a student dissertation and an article in a climbing magazine” as evidence for “disappearing ice in the Andes, the European Alps and Africa.”

The Herald editors then refer to the IPCC claims about “extreme weather” which “turns out to have been based on a paper that had not been peer-reviewed or published at the time.” The paper even “included a caveat that the evidence was insufficient” but the IPCC deleted all such caveats from their report. The Herald, while not yet ready to abandon the comforting fear of warming, says:
The IPCC's reputation is not helped now by the argument of authority its supporters have employed for so long. Criticism was dismissed as conceit in the face of a "scientific consensus" that by implication could not be wrong.

The editors note that “the consensus has been wrong, or at least careless on several points” and that the IPCC “urgently needs new leadership and a return to strict scientific rigour if it hopes to be taken seriously again.”

Even one the staunchest media allies of the warmers, the left-wing Guardian newspaper in the UK, has started investigating claims of the warmers and finds them wanting. They report the scientists at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, the home of climategate “’hid’ data flaws.” The report says:
Phil Jones, the beleaguered British climate scientist at the centre of the leaked emails controversy, is facing fresh claims that he sought to hide problems in key temperature data on which some of his work was based.

A Guardian investigation of thousands of emails and documents apparently hacked from the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit has found evidence that a series of measurements from Chinese weather stations were seriously flawed and that documents relating to them could not be produced.

Jones and a collaborator have been accused by a climate change sceptic and researcher of scientific fraud for attempting to suppress data that could cast doubt on a key 1990 study on the effect of cities on warming – a hotly contested issue.

Today the Guardian reveals how Jones withheld the information requested under freedom of information laws. Subsequently a senior colleague told him he feared that Jones's collaborator, Wei- Chyung Wang of the University at Albany, had "screwed up."

The Guardian, of course, is not willing to question warming orthodoxy itself, but they do say their investigation does “call into question the probity of some climate change science.” To be precise it doesn’t call climate change science into question, but climate change theory.

In particular the Guardian investigate the date used to show warming in China and says there were “apparent attempts to cover up problems with data from Chinese weather stations…” The Guardian explains the problem:
The history of where the weather stations were sited was crucial to Jones and Wang's 1990 study, as it concluded the rising temperatures recorded in China were the result of global climate changes rather the warming effects of expanding cities.

The IPCC's 2007 report used the study to justify the claim that "any urban-related trend" in global temperatures was small. Jones was one of two "coordinating lead authors" for the relevant chapter.

The leaked emails from the CRU reveal that the former director of the unit, Tom Wigley, harboured grave doubts about the cover-up of the shortcomings in Jones and Wang's work. Wigley was in charge of CRU when the original paper was published. "Were you taking W-CW [Wang] on trust?" he asked Jones. He continued: "Why, why, why did you and W-CW not simply say this right at the start?"

Already London’s Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph have been exposing IPCC errors and distortions fairly regularly. But it isn’t a small feat to have shaken the confidence the editors at the New Zealand Herald had previously shown for the IPCC. And it is a huge step when the very left Guardian starts exposing some of the antics of leading warming advocates.

It’s bad enough that nature is not cooperating with warming theory. But, if more main steam media outlets starting turning a critical eye on the IPCC and its core group of scientist/activists, the whole political agenda at work here could unravel.


Environmentalism as self-glorification for airheads

These days when I hear the words “ethical” and “sustainable” applied to objects as unaffordable or bizarre as £1,000 designer bark chairs or frocks made of milk — a fibre from an industrial process of dubious eco-merit — I feel like knitting a scarf from endangered butterflies or buying some conflict-diamond bling. While the ethical fashion cause is undeniably sound — it is a disgrace that developing-world sweatshops make one-season wonders for jaded Western trollops — it is not enhanced by rich celebrities using it as a means to buy indulgences and entry into eco-Heaven.

Yet celebrities who purport to be “ethical” can never see how funny they are. Or how likely we are to point out the shortfall between their noble intent and personal practice. And when we do they get huffy, like Sting did when Jeremy Paxman queried how owning several homes could be helping the rainforest.

Gwyneth Paltrow, creator of the Goop website, which encourages you to “nourish your inner aspect” with organic seeds and ayurvedic unguents, seems to believe — as many stars do — that the worst thing about pollution or global warming is that it frizzes her hair, clogs her complexion and toxes up her temple-like bod. Ecological change can be achieved, she suggests, through the sheer force of her vanity.

And, meanwhile, Gwynnie has bought half her London street and, to the horror of her neighbours, wants to enclose it in a huge metal fence. She drives her children to school in a monster 4x4. Can she not see this is hysterical? And Livia, jetting between Venice, New York, London and LA on her “green-carpet” quest: unless the plane is also fuelled with milk, how sustainable is that?

In a largely secular society, we are still trying to figure out the practicalities of our ethical code. Too often, what is done in the name of our new god, The Planet, is steeped in self-glorification. At Christmas, when someone announces that, instead of buying you a present, he has given money to Oxfam to buy Africans a goat, what should one say? “Oh you shouldn’t have! Yes, if you want to make a charitable donation, do it with money you planned to spend on yourself, not on me.” Instead, the goat-giver enjoys both a virtuous glow and the lovely gift you bought for him. You, meanwhile, have nothing.

Similarly, the stars who can afford to wear organic cotton, eat lavishly raised poultry or buy a wood in Pembrokeshire as offset penance for their transatlantic commutes, lord it on the green high ground. Meanwhile, the poor wander far below, clad in unsustainable clothing, surviving on cheap factory protein, taking budget flights to the sun. Green celebrities have so much, we so little. Yet somehow they are saintly and we the damned.

Ethical fashion is, anyway, almost an oxymoron. The very nature of the industry is to instill a cycle of perpetual dissatisfaction and consumption. Buying less is the only way to confound its purpose, and the eco-WAGs certainly won’t do that. Like Livia, they just ditch Gucci for dresses made of “sasawashi, bamboo, sea cell and soya”. And next season they will be bored, just as Peta-supporting supermodels stopped caring about critters once fur was back in style. The dogged, unglamorous work of groups such as Behind the Label, who have championed garment workers, hassled greedy high street stores into paying a living wage and guilt-tripped brands such as Nike and Gap into weeding out child labour, have made a difference. Not the shopping fancies of the rich.

Fashion itself has no soul; cares only about surfaces and stuff. Tom Ford, the designer who directs the Oscar-nominated A Single Man, styles it into sterility. The camera lingers on the gorgeous Frank Lloyd Wright house and exquisite clothes, and a bathroom drawer opens to show toiletries prissily arranged like a magazine still life. It is a movie of cold edges and empty silences: thankfully, Ford chose Julianne Moore and Firth to fill them.



Four current articles below:

Reality dawns: The Greenest of the Greenies suddenly want factories -- but nice ones, of course

A factory owner would need to have a lot of heart to risk locating himself among such intolerant loonies

It's the Queensland town renowned for a postcard setting, caring community and laidback lifestyle ... but has Maleny become too green for its own good? As the children of a generation of tree-changers begin their working lives, Maleny is discovering that being green is no protection against that scourge of rural communities: youth unemployment. While other towns can rely on mining or agriculture to provide job opportunities, Maleny's young people are increasingly forced to desert the Sunshine Coast hinterland to find work, leaving behind an ageing population.

Community concern has become so acute that even local greenies are calling for drastic action and putting out the welcome mat for new industry. In the town that famously opposed Woolworths, business leaders, families and greenies are now united in their calls for a light industrial precinct to boost employment. Such a precinct could attract anything from brick making to glass fabrication but would have to meet local environmental guidelines. However, under existing council plans, there is no land set aside for industrial growth in Maleny.

Young job seekers currently have to compete for the few jobs at the town's biggest employers, Supa IGA and Woolworths, which both have workforces of about 100.

Latest census figures show Maleny has a median age of 42, compared to 36 for the whole of Queensland.

Hinterland Employment Service owner Jenny Jones said families who moved to Maleny in search of an idyllic lifestyle were often disappointed. "It's a great place to live and bring up children but when the kids leave school, there's just not a lot up here," she said.

Maleny Commerce president Stephen Dittmann said green activists had traditionally held sway in the town but there was now recognition that some development was necessary. "We need measured growth, we can't stand still," Mr Dittmann said.

Paul Gilmour-Walsh, president of local environmental group Green Hills, said even so-called greenies could see the need to grow the town. "There's definitely a need for an area, to put aside land for something like that up here," Mr Gilmour-Walsh said. "We need a balanced community so kids leaving school have somewhere to work; it's as simple as that."

David Schaumberg, 19, loves Maleny, his home since the family left Brisbane for a better lifestyle 16 years ago, but he cannot find a steady job. David recently worked for four months as a jackaroo in Kingaroy to earn some cash but is back in Maleny looking for a job. His friends are in the same situation, with many leaving town. "I actually think an industry precinct would be good for variety . . . as long as they do it the right way and not impact on the environment," he said.

Mother of five Maria Dodd said her eldest son Andrew, 19, held little hope of attaining his goal of a local electrical apprenticeship. The family moved from Brisbane about 10 years ago. "He keeps getting bit jobs. He's a hard worker but there's not much around," she said.


Costs of the greenhouse gas scheme remain a mystery to the party behind it

The Rudd government has failed its first GST-style test over the details of its emissions trading scheme and the compensation being offered to Australians for rising prices. Lulled into a sense of false security through Coalition support for an ETS last year and a largely sympathetic media, Kevin Rudd and his ministers have found themselves ill-equipped and under-prepared to answer basic questions people want answered, whether they are climate change believers or sceptics. After three years of Labor being formally committed to an ETS, ministers can't answer simple questions. The Prime Minister himself has conceded the government has failed to address the "complexity" of the ETS.

In parliamentary question time and in interviews, ministers, including Rudd, have blathered and blustered, dissembled and distracted when asked simple questions. Tony Abbott, once an adviser to John Hewson in his failed campaign to introduce a GST, knows how to run an aggressive retail political campaign on rising food and energy prices and to exploit complexity in policy.

As the treasurer who introduced a GST, Peter Costello rehearsed offsets and compensation for almost three years. He declared later it "scarred my life". But that drab work equipped Costello to answer the thousands of questions he received about the price of Coca-Cola and even the Hockey Bear pyjamas from Korea that Labor's Simon Crean produced in parliament one day, without falter.

This week in parliament, Rudd was unable to answer questions about what compensation a single person earning $45,000 a year would get or what a double-income couple on $65,000 each -- a NSW policeman and teacher -- would get.

Small Business Minister Craig Emerson blustered about the "most stupid question" he had heard when a dairy farmer's concerns were raised about electricity price rises from the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme being added to price rises everyone was already feeling now.

Aged Care Minister Justine Elliott could not address a concern that had been raised for months about pensioners in nursing homes facing increased living costs because of higher energy bills and not getting compensation. Some opposition frontbenchers actually won a bet that Elliott would read her set- piece answer to everything that didn't mention the ETS.

Yesterday, Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said "low- and middle-income earners are fully compensated" for prices rises passed on by power stations. In fact, half of all households will be "fully compensated".

When a government has not laid the groundwork for a major policy, when it can't explain it and makes mistakes about the costs to families it's on the back foot and in the wrong argument.


More Greenie-inflicted costs on the whole Australian community

ALL Australian homes will soon have to undergo a mandatory energy-efficiency assessment costing up to $1500 per property. The assessment has to be done before any property can be sold or rented under new laws to tackle carbon emissions.

The mandatory assessment - being drafted into law by the federal and state governments - will rate homes by an energy efficiency star system, similar to the ratings given to fridges and washing machines. It will apply to all commercial properties from later this year and to all residential properties from May 2011, Adelaide Now reports.

A spokesman for State Energy Minister Pat Conlon said the ratings would inform prospective owners or tenants of a building's energy use, so they could factor it in to their buying or rental decision. The spokesman said details of the "Mandatory Disclosure" scheme - including who would carry out the assessments and how much they would cost - were yet to be decided.

Energy efficiency expert Arthur Grammatopoulos, of Helica Architecture, said rating properties could cost up to $1500 per house. "I think this is a positive move for the industry but the question has to be asked, will there be enough experts to cope with demand when the law is introduced?" he said. A similar scheme with a six-star rating has been operating in the Australian Capital Territory's property market for several years.

Queensland's State Government introduced a mandatory Sustainability Declaration form on January 1, requiring homeowners to declare their property's green credentials to prospective buyers or risk a $2000 fine.

Mandatory disclosure has been criticised by property experts as an unwarranted expense that will not influence purchasing decisions or cut household pollution. The Real Estate Institute of SA said governments were playing environmentally "popular politics" by introducing a law that they say will simply add to the cost of selling and renting a home. "I think they are patronising people who are making the biggest purchase decision of their life by thinking a rating system will influence that decision," REISA chief executive Greg Troughton said. "It's already hard enough to buy and sell a home and this is just another financial impost that also has the potential to delay the sale of a property."

While Mr Troughton said vendors would bear the cost of having their home rated by a licensed expert, independent SA MLC and former Valuer-General John Darley said landlords would look to pass the cost on to tenants. "This will be an extra cost to working families who have to rent because they can't afford a mortgage," he said. "And we need this like a hole in the head unless the governments can convince us there is a definite benefit, like a reduction in household pollution."

The Council of Australian Government's National Strategy on Energy Efficiency says Mandatory Disclosure will "help households and businesses prepare for the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme".


A professor of baseless insults

(Professor Andrew Pitman is Co-Director, Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) at the University of NSW)

Last week a paid public servant spoke untruths, but instead of being exposed by the media, he was aided by our taxpayer-funded public broadcast network. Andy Pitman spoke about the socio-economic position of a group he avoids, and let down UNSW, abused the title “Professor”, and misled the public.

The journalists allowed the baseless smears to be broadcast without question, not just once, but twice. Professor Andy Pitman on ABC Radio: Sarah Clark interviews Andy Pitman on glaciers. Robin Williams thought it was so “useful” he rebroadcast the same factually incorrect, irrelevant material on his “science” show. Oops. It’s hard to cram more anti-truths into one declaration:
“My personal view is that climate scientists are losing the fight with climate sceptics. That the sceptics are so well funded, so well organized, have nothing else to do, they kind of don’t have day jobs, they can put all of their efforts into misinforming and miscommunicating climate science to the public, whereas the climate scientists have day jobs and this isn’t one of them. All of the efforts you do in an IPCC report is done out of hours, voluntarily, for no funding and no pay, whereas the sceptics are being funded to put out full scale misinformation campaigns…”

Let’s correct the six seven-delusion paragraph

1. Skeptics are well funded?

Let’s put a perspective on just how spectacularly wrong these claims on ABC radio are. ExxonMobil paid all of $23 million to skeptics worldwide in total, over ten years. In the same period, the US government alone was spending around $2 billion a year on climate scientists. And if you include other climate industry players, from 1989-2009, the total funding is $79 billion dollars. Hence believers of the big-scare could dip into a pot that was at least 3,500 times as large as anything the skeptics of the same scare could draw from. (All this info comes from my Climate Money paper).

If there was any equivalent funding for skeptics, Greenpeace would have found that paper trail and the scare-friendly press would have told you all about it. Big-Oil could hardly hide $79 billion now could they?

Andy Pitman earns far more from his beliefs than this skeptical advocate and infinitely more than most skeptics (who earn nothing) while he postulates on things he has done no research on and misleads the public. (Take me to court Andy. I don’t mind discovery of documents, but I don’t pander to bullies’ requests in public.) Most skeptical scientists are those no longer in the pay of government or other alarmist organizations, free to speak up without losing their jobs. They are mainly retired.

In reality it can cost money to be an active skeptic. To print out handouts, to organize speeches at local community halls, to do mail outs to our representatives, or to pay for transcripts of interviews that misrepresent the science. It says a lot that there are so many people willing to put themselves out, money and time-wise, in order to save us from the scare with no evidence.

Pitman has received over $6 million in grants – obviously not paid to him personally, but paid into accounts he controls–for research he directs. Presumably he also earns at least the base salary of a UNSW Professor, I gather, $190,000 a year. For a science PhD that’s not bad, especially if you throw in multiple overseas trips with all expenses paid, and the odd-rock-star-radio interview with no hard questions. It’s a wicket worth defending.

2. Skeptics are “well” organized?

Organized how exactly? With no PR department, no union, no association, no office, no UN agency, usually no budget, and … though you can see how we fund national multi-million dollar televised Ad campaigns like “Think Climate, Think Fraud”, oh that’s right … that was Kevin Rudd: “Think Climate, Think Change” (give us your money). That cost Australian taxpayers $13.9 million dollars.

Pitman cries poor while his scare campaign team includes the major western governments, the UN, the banks, big oil (they always funded alarmism more, and now don’t fund skeptics), the green movement, the alternative energy suppliers, the reinsurance industry, and many businesses. About all the skeptics have is donors on blogs and a few dedicated organizations of like minded people, such as the indefatigable Heartland (which is in turn funded mostly by private donations, with no more than 5% from any single corporation). Skeptics are tiny voices against vast machines.

Pitman wouldn’t recognize a genuine grassroots movement if it mowed him down.

3. Skeptics are misleading the public?

Misleading? You mean like climate scientists who are using tricks to “hide the decline”, removing data from 75% of worldwide temperature stations, ignoring the best ocean temperature network data, colluding to keep contrary papers out of publication, avoiding FOI requests, abusing statistics to make scary hockey sticks no matter what data you feed them, and ignoring the masses of data and analysis (much of it peer-reviewed) that undermines the carbon dioxide theory of global warming? Or, how about putting most “official” thermometers next to airport-tarmac or air conditioner outlets, or pretending that one tree in far north Russia can measure global temperatures?

Strangely, it’s not skeptics who howl that “only peer review counts” while at the same time pretending that speculative information from the WWF, Greenpeace and a student’s paper of mountaineering anecdotes were peer-reviewed research by hundreds of experts.

4. “Explaining science is not my job”.

According to the UNSW Guidelines, it is. It’s what Professors are paid to do: to foster leadership and excellence in their academic area within the university and the community. As it happens, over the last 18 months, I’ve asked Pitman in writing to publicly name any misleading points from the Skeptics Handbook. He has refused.

5. I, Andy Pitman, volunteer to help the IPCC

As Andrew Bolt so aptly pointed out, Andy Pitman’s grants list includes around $60,000 in funding “for costs incurred as lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”. That’s not most people’s idea of volunteer work.

6. Skeptics don’t have day jobs

Pitman, contradicting himself suddenly, claims many “fully funded” climate skeptics don’t have day jobs, and for once he’s half-right, but scores an own goal by using the truth. Most active skeptics don’t have day jobs, precisely because there aren’t any paid climate skeptic positions to have. Many skeptics are retired, because no one else has time to audit the IPCC “for fun”.

As far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong), total ARC grants specifically available for research aiming to disprove the theory of AGW in 2010 are exactly $0.00, as has been the case since time began. (That’s another scandal, for another day.)

Who should be protecting Australia from paying reparations based on bogus science? When the bogus science is climate science, Andy Pitman ought be high on that list. Instead, he helps to sell out the nation that supports him to a corrupt unaudited foreign committee whose recommendations will mainly end up profiting large financial houses.

7. An ad hominem attack is “scientific”?

Notice how we’re not talking about climate science? Why, on a planet that goes around the sun, is a professor of science launching ad hominem attacks? A science undergraduate should grovel with embarrassment for making this mistake. High school debaters have stronger reasoning skills. Yet, the science reporters on the ABC don’t even blink.

So what if I was paid, oh, let’s say, $190,000 a year, by… an oil sheik (I’m not). But if I was, how would that change the satellite recordings that I write about from Universities on the other side of the world from me? What kind of conspiracy theory do you have to hold in your head to nullify the evidence with any information about funding? I’m a commentator forgoodnesssake, I don’t even collect, hold or publish results from the sediments, corals, ice cores, pollen, diatoms, boreholes, or tree rings that I talk about.

Aren’t we all grown up enough now to attack the ball and not the man? (Which goes for Penny Sackett too, our Chief Scientist, who said that exact thing tonight on The 7.30 Report. Where was Sackett last week? Did she miss the chance to admonish Pitman for attacking skeptical scientists?)

Look Mum. No logical errors here: Lest anyone think I’m committing the same logical error as Pitman by pointing at his vested interests, let’s put a razor fine point on it. He claims we are winning the debate because we have so much funding. We claim he’s losing because he has no evidence. At no point have I ever said his science is wrong because he is paid. So why post about his funding?

One: To show that he’s not only illogical, but spectacularly wrong as well. It’s a baseless smear campaign.

Two: The $6 million in research grants vs the $0 in skeptical grants tells us nothing about the atmospheric climate, but shows that there is a Gravy Train, and he is on it. And he’s the one who suggested that people’s opinions were affected by funding. Go soak in that irony.

Three: If people are going to try to bully and smear us, it helps to make it painful for them, by pouring the truth right back at them.

Since he effectively said “follow the money”, I just said, “ok”. And did I mention that the carbon market was worth $130 billion last year?

Speaking of money, who is paid to audit the IPCC? Officially, no one is. No agency, no institution, no government department. Information from that UN conglomerate committee controls global markets, and yet answers to no elected government, no ASIC, no SEC, no ACCC. Nothing. There ought to be teams of skeptical scientists paid to check on the alarmists, but no one at all is checking, except a few unpaid scientists and bloggers.

The bottom line: Pitman peddles misinformation about science and misinformation about skeptics. He could start by apologizing to the Australian people who pay his salary. Then he could say thanks to the Australian scientists working pro bono to do part of his job for him.

What a sad week for Australian science, a dismal day for Australian universities, and a low point for the ABC. It’s not so hot for taxpayers either, we’re funding someone who throws baseless speculation and insults back at the same Australian citizens he’s supposed to serve.

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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


1 comment:

Just Me in T said...

Just discovered you and am thrilled. You are sensible and outspoken.... we need more activists like you. I shall be linking to you from my blogs.
Just ME in T