Saturday, February 20, 2010

UN top climate change official quits

Rats deserting a sinking ship?

The senior United Nations climate change official has announced his resignation, weeks after admitting that the Copenhagen climate summit had failed to reach a robust deal on cutting greenhouse gases. The departure of Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and a passionate supporter of carbon reduction policies, is a setback for the global environmental movement.

The Dutchman is trusted as an honest broker by the 194 countries who are members of the convention. He exerted pressure on world leaders to raise their commitments on climate change and was widely credited with bringing the issue to the top of the global political agenda before the December summit in Copenhagen. Finding a figure who commands similar respect will be a difficult task.

Mr de Boer, 55, broke down in tears and had to leave the debating chamber at the Bali climate summit two years ago during bitter infighting over UN procedures. He returned to the platform to an ovation from the thousands of delegates.

Only two weeks ago, Mr de Boer was forced to admit that even the weak and not legally binding accord reached in Copenhagen was beginning to unravel. Several countries failed to meet the January 31 deadline agreed in the Danish capital for committing to emissions reductions.

His resignation takes effect on July 1, five months before the 194 nations are due to reconvene in Mexico for another attempt to reach agreement on controlling greenhouse gases.

Mr de Boer — who will be joining the consultancy group KPMG as global adviser on climate and sustainability as well as working with several universities — denied that his resignation was related to the failure of the Copenhagen summit. He said that he had begun looking for another job before the summit.

Jake Schmidt, a climate adviser for the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council, said: “I saw [Mr de Boer] at the airport after Copenhagen. He was tired, worn out. [The summit] clearly took a toll on him.”

Mr de Boer said yesterday: “Copenhagen wasn’t what I had hoped it would be. We were about an inch away from a formal agreement. It was basically in our grasp, but it didn’t happen. So that was a pity.” In his resignation statement, he said that he would continue to work for an improvement in emissions but through the business community and academia .

Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, will make the final decision on who will replace Mr de Boer.


The Yucca Mountain Blues

By Alan Caruba

Are you worried about your “carbon footprint”? Still think “global warming” is real despite the fact that one of its leading advocates, a climatologist, recently said that there’s no significant data to demonstrate any warming since 1995? Can’t figure out why the White House is still trying desperately to pass the “Cap-and-Trade” bill based on the totally discredited claim that carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere are “causing” the non-existent “global warming”?

Do you increasingly think that you are Alice in Wonderland and now living in a nation where the White House and Congress keep telling you things that are totally absurd?

Let’s put aside the claim that we have to borrow and borrow in order to keep on spending and spending to save the economy when common sense says that is the worst way to end the economic death spiral they have created.

The latest ploy by the White House was a move in the direction of nuclear power to generate the electricity the nation needs for its current and future needs. Since the 1970s, for reasons that defy understanding, several administrations, Democrat and Republican, have done little to encourage nuclear power despite the fact that a nation like France derives most of its electricity from it.

Even so, nuclear provides about twenty percent of the electricity we use while coal provides just over fifty percent. In both cases, neither has anything to do with “greenhouse gases” because the gases play no role in climate change. Indeed, more carbon dioxide, being plant food, would greatly enhance the growth of crops and forests.

“Cap-and-Trade” is nothing more than a tax on energy use. Simple put, it has been cheap, abundant energy that has fueled the economy of the United States since it was founded. The discovery of oil in 1859 also played a major role and, despite the lies, the U.S. has an abundance of oil.

Like nuclear power, however, successive administrations since the 1970s have ensured that U.S. oil companies were kept from exploring for it, extracting it, refining it and selling it to us at affordable prices. This is in sharp contrast to the endless babble about the need to be “energy independent.”

The talk about support for the nuclear energy industry is welcome, but what the White House is not saying is that his proposed budget has no funding for the nuclear waste facility in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.

Congress passed a Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1982 and amended it in 1987. Yucca Mountain is the only permanent nuclear waste repository in the nation. I repeat, the only one. Why isn’t it in operation? Glad you asked. Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has blocked its completion and use.

So we could build two or a dozen new nuclear plants—a very good idea—but there would still be no place to put the waste despite the fact that the U.S. has spent $9 billion on the first phase to build the Yucca Mountain site. A $13 million tunnel boring machine sits idle at the site.

That has not stopped the White House from wanting to put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for $8 billion in loan guarantees for two new reactors in Georgia.

The purpose of all this is to get a few senators to sign on to the passage of Cap-and-Trade, a bill based on a non-existent threat from “greenhouse gases” in order to avoid a non-existent “global warming.” There are two fears; one that the Senate might pass the bill and, two, that the White House might impose it by executive order.

What we are witnessing is yet another really big, really bad idea out of the White House that continues to lie to everyone and anyone who thinks the problem is “global warming” when the problem really is a mad desire to destroy of the nation’s economy.

This has always been the single goal of the environmental movement when the global warming fraud began in the late 1980s. It accelerated with the UN Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The U.S. has never accepted the Protocol and those nations that did have since discovered that it’s been a very costly fraud.

Cap-and-Trade is a fraud. Let your senators know you oppose their vote for it. Any senator that does vote for it should be replaced if they are running for reelection in the November midterm elections


Reality dawns in broke Britain

Major power plant suspends plan to replace coal with greener fuel -- because coal is cheaper

Britain’s biggest power station has suspended its plan to replace coal with greener fuel, leaving the Government little chance of meeting its target for renewable energy. Drax, in North Yorkshire, which produces enough electricity for six million homes, is withdrawing a pledge to cut CO2 emissions by 3.5 million tonnes a year, or 17.5 per cent.

The power station, which is the country’s largest single source of CO2, has invested £80 million in a processing unit for wood, straw and other plant-based fuels, known as biomass. The unit is designed to produce more renewable electricity than 600 wind turbines, but will operate at only a fraction of its capacity because Drax says it is cheaper to continue to burn coal.

Drax is also one of dozens of companies delaying investments in new biomass power stations because of uncertainty over the Government’s policy on long-term subsidies. Hundreds of farmers growing biomass crops may now struggle to sell their produce.

Drax’s decision will make it almost impossible for the Government to meet its commitment to increase the proportion of electricity from renewable sources from 5.5 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020. Renewable energy is a key component of Britain’s legally binding targets to cut overall emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. In an interview with The Times, Dorothy Thompson, Drax’s chief executive, blamed the Government for failing to give sufficient subsidy to biomass to make it competitive with coal. Drax has bought two million tonnes of biomass, but Ms Thompson said that it was considering selling it overseas because it no longer made economic sense to burn it in its six boilers.

Ms Thompson said: “We are not confident that the [subsidy] regime for what is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy will support operating the biomass unit at full load. The UK is missing out massively on the potential for renewable energy from biomass. We want to run in a lowcarbon way but policy is against us.”

She accused the Department of Energy and Climate Change of lacking the skills to develop a successful biomass policy and focusing too heavily on expensive and unreliable wind turbines. “I think they simply have not put enough expertise into biomass. Wind is not a silver bullet; its benefits have been overstated.”

Ms Thompson said that the Government was holding back biomass by offering it only a quarter of the subsidy given to offshore wind farms and capping the amount of crops that can be burnt in coal-fired power stations. She said that it was cheaper for Drax to pay for emissions permits to burn coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, than to switch to biomass. Each megawatt hour of electricity costs Drax £31 to produce from coal and £40 from biomass.

Ms Thompson said that Drax would also be unable to proceed with its £2 billion plan for three new biomass power plants unless the Government offered longer-term support. “We do not believe we can create a credible investment case for our shareholders if there is complete regulatory uncertainty. This is a very serious issue because renewable energy through biomass is a key component for delivering the 2020 target.”

The Renewable Energy Association said that plans for more than 50 biomass projects, totalling £13 billion of investment, had been suspended because of uncertainty over policy. Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, the Energy Minister, said this month that the subsidy regime for biomass needed to be reviewed. Wind farm developers are guaranteed fixed subsidies for 20 years, but biomass investors could have the subsidy cut after four years.


Britain's bleak winter could be the worst for 81 years

The long, hard winter looks like dragging on into March. And if the bitter winds carry on for the next two weeks, there is a very good chance that this winter will turn out to be the coldest across the UK since 1929.

The National Trust reports that spring flowers have been set back by up to four weeks compared with recent years, although they expect that when some decent warmth arrives it could unleash a huge burst of flowering.

In the latest outbreak of wintry weather, heavy snow swamped much of the South West, Wales, the Midlands and parts of East Anglia, with the threat of ice on those roads not covered with snow. There’s a risk of a similar snowfall returning on Monday, stretching from the M4 corridor across Wales, the Midlands, East Anglia and parts of the North.

These snowfalls have come from a collision of wet, mild, Atlantic air smashing into freezing colder air stuck over northern parts of Britain. This stems from a problem that has plagued much of this winter — the weather patterns have become blocked and sent the jet stream running south.

This wind runs a few miles high and marks the battlefront between Arctic air and tropical air, and usually lies close to the UK during winter, delivering mild but wet weather. This winter, though, bitterly cold air from the Arctic thrust down into Europe and sent the jet stream off-course.

And the same happened in the eastern US, where the bitter cold has produced monster-sized snowfalls that have set new records in many places.

While much of Europe, North America and Asia have shivered, other places have been ridiculously warm. Just like squeezing a balloon, mild air has shifted to other regions such as Vancouver, where the Winter Olympics are in dire trouble with incredibly warm weather, heavy rains and fog.

The blame for this mess is partly thanks to El Niño, the warming of the tropical seas of the Pacific, which causes a huge upheaval in weather patterns across much of the globe.

This current El Niño is fairly powerful, and has swept warm air across Alaska and the West Coast of Canada, which is why Vancouver broke its record for the warmest January. Even the UK has caught the turmoil from El Niño, despite being thousands of miles away. Warm air from El Niño shot up into the stratosphere and shunted a surge of cold air from the Arctic down across the Continent and the UK this month.

Despite the snow and recent rain, this winter could turn out to be one of the driest on record, based on Met Office figures up to February 15. Although snowfalls through January and February were often heavy, they did not amount to much in terms of rainfall. Even showers forecast next week will not substantially change the average rainfall for the whole winter.


British government lavished £9m on climate change stunts... but public opinion is left cold by global warming 'propaganda'

A disastrous series of failed climate change publicity stunts cost taxpayers £ 9million, it emerged yesterday. The projects paid for by the Government’s Climate Challenge Fund did next to nothing to change public opinion, a Whitehall report found. It said the initiatives were almost entirely preaching to the converted and that trying to drum up interest through sensationalism only put people off.

Schemes included a £40,000 DVD in which schoolchildren explained that in ten years everyone will have to wear sunglasses all the time, because the sun will be shining more.

A tent set up in shopping centres and labelled an ‘experiential climate dome’ was subsidised by Whitehall to the tune of nearly £400,000; a computer game cost £47 every time it was played; and a series of ‘ challenging pub quizzes’ about climate change cost more than £85,000.

Large grants went to councils, schools and youth groups for ‘ attitude modification’ programmes and to assure the public that man-made global warming is an established scientific fact. And £200,000 went to Oxford University to ‘take climate change into the community’.

Details of the projects and the report for Ed Miliband’s Department of Energy and Climate Change – which was never published – were unearthed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance through Freedom of Information requests. Matthew Sinclair, the group’s research director, said: ‘The Government has clearly crossed the line from public information to propaganda on climate change. ‘Many of the Climate Challenge Fund projects are utterly bonkers and misleading, and come with a huge price tag.

‘Despite a fortune having been spent on these projects, the fund has failed even on its own spurious terms. It is infuriating for taxpayers to see their money squandered on attempts to scare and indoctrinate the public.’

The report by consultants Brook Lyndhurst said the projects largely failed to produce any changes in the opinions among their target audiences. It judged that ‘the aggregate picture is one of neutral or very modest positive shifts’. Future programmes should ‘avoid sensationalist or shocking imagery in climate change messages, since respondents are likely to find this off-putting’, it said.

The report added that those attracted to the projects were ‘already interested in climate change’. It suggested that in many cases organisations viewed the funding as ‘a way to secure additional resources’, and said the people running the projects often did not have ‘necessary skills’. The money was paid to public organisations and voluntary groups between 2006 and 2008.

Details emerged after several other high-profile climate change failures in recent months. The Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, which received £16,000 from the Climate Challenge Fund, has come under fire over leaked emails which show scientists attempted to hide data from sceptics.

And the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been found to have made exaggerated and ill-informed claims, for example over the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are melting. Its chief, Rajendra Pachauri, has faced calls to resign.


The lies of Aussie Climate Minister, Penny ‘Wrong’

A comment from Britain

Our Australian skeptic friend, Val Majkus, has sent me a link to a speech made yesterday by Australian nutjob, Penny Wong, who is the Aussie Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water. Wong somehow kept a straight face when she told the crowd: “Climate change [is] happening more quickly than we previously thought.”

Wong was addressing the first national forum on coasts and climate change in Adelaide and promulgating all the usual doomsaying myths for her dwindling band of climate cult followers that global temperatures are fast rising and sea levels, as a consequence, will rise by a meter this century.

Then, the self-serving climate minister showed no remorse for going on to smear tens of millions of concerned citizens that form the grassroots movement of climate skeptics by implying they are under the sway of the tobacco lobby! Wong will come to rue her ludicrous statements. Projecting herself as some kind of high priestess. She is, in fact, no more than another gray-suited peddler of snake oil patter.

Here in Britain the mainstream media has remembered what it means to do objective journalism. Sadly, the Aussie press hasn’t yet woken up to Wong’s wonky word spin–but they will. The days of her ilk are numbered. So I need only proffer a couple of simple facts to debunk Wong’s ‘catastrophic’ global warming myth. But the minister won’t want her audience to hear such basic truths:

First, as widely reported, Professor Phil Jones, one of the world’s key alarmist climate scientists, admitted to the BBC last week that there has been no statistically significant rise in global temps for 15 years.

Second, scientists from 50 research and operational agencies from 26 countries have proved that world sea levels have fallen for the past six years.



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