Sunday, May 23, 2010

Greenies: the Red, the Dumb and the Angry

By James Delingpole

Just back from the Oxford Union where, last night, we debated the motion: This House Would Put Economic Growth Before Combatting Climate Change. Though I wouldn’t necessarily say I sucked, my performance definitely wasn’t as strong as the one I gave at Heartland. Luckily I had the benefit of a blindingly good team in the form of Lord Lawson of Blaby, Lord Leach and Viscount Monckton – who temporarily ennobled me to Lord Delingpole of Blogosphere so I didn’t feel too left out.

Much to my surprise the motion carried. (133 Ayes; 110 Noes) I suppose I oughtn’t to be surprised, what with all the arguments so obviously in favour of our side and none in favour of theirs. But you never quite know with undergraduates – even frightfully clever Oxford ones – because, never having inhabited the real world, they can all too easily incline to dreamy idealism combined with an utter failure to grasp economic reality.

What really struck me about the occasion, though, was the unspeakable direness of the opposition. I don’t mean the nice girl from Trinity College: as an officer of the Union, she had to take whatever side of the debate she was given to argue. I mean the three others, who embodied pretty much everything wrong with the green movement: its crypto communism; its woeful ignorance; and its sphincter-popping rage.

Representing the ignorance camp was Lord Whitty – a nice chap with a moustache, but totally out of his depth on science, economics or indeed anything else. When you consider that this man was until quite recently our Environment Minister, this is rather worrying. At one point he tried to claim that Earth’s temperature was the hottest it had been in 14,000 years. “What about the Medieval Warm Period?” I asked. No, what he meant, he said was “If temperatures go on rising then by the end of the century we could be experiencing the hottest temperatures in 14,000 years.” This is such unutterable drivel, it’s not even worth deconstructing. Yet this was the guy – I said it before but it bears repeating – in charge of Britain’s Environment Policy. Still, better him than the lethal Chris Huhne, I suppose.

I shan’t bother describing the young man representing the Red faction. Suffice to say that as he rambled away about equality, injustice, the evils of growth, capitalism etc, I leaned across to Lord Lawson and said:

“Jesus. If this is the **** you had to put up with from the opposite benches I’m bloody glad I was never an MP.”

Finally, we were introduced to a fellow named Mike Mason, founder and managing director of something called ClimateCare. Mike was angry. Very, very angry. He showed this by having a go at us, one by one, dismissing Lord Lawson as a “failed chancellor”, or some such, casting aspersions on Viscount Monckton’s title and describing me as a “right wing hack.” I suppose, yes, “right wing hack” is one way of describing me. But I don’t recall, when I took the floor, referring to Mike Mason as a “typical, ranty green libtard who stands to make loads of money fleecing the gullible something rotten by selling carbon offsets.” Of course I do ad hom, now and again. But not in formal Oxford debates. It’s just rude and unnecessary and exposes – as poor Mike went on most impressively to demonstrate – the abject poverty of your arguments.

Both at Heartland and Oxford we were followed by a film crew who are making a documentary about the war between Warmists and Sceptics. The director, who was a very keen Green when he started the documentary, admitted he’d altered his position quite markedly since talking to both sides. What struck him about deniers/sceptics/realists – or whatever you want to call them – was their courtesy and their thoroughness. What struck him about the warmists was their eye-popping rage.

It’s true. The Warmists really are a malign and spleen-filled bunch. As of course you would be if the science was against you, the public were growing increasingly sceptical, and all you really had left to defend your cause was bullying and bluster.


Would Global Warming Really be Cause for Alarm?

We’re often asked, "What really causes all these alarms about global warming disasters?"

As scientists and policy analysts who’ve studied our ever-changing climate for a combined 65 years and attribute the changes primarily to natural forces, we’ve wondered that ourselves and also asked: Why is warming always framed as bad news? Why does so much “research” claim a warmer planet “may” lead to more childhood insomnia, more juvenile delinquency, war, juvenile delinquency, violent crime and prostitution, death of the Loch Ness Monster – and even more Mongolian cows dying from cold weather?

We’re not making this up. In fact, this is just the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg of climate scare stories chronicled at Number Watch. Clearly, too much money is being spent on one-sided global warming advocacy cloaked as “research,” not enough on natural causes and adaptation. Despite the best of intentions, too much money can corrupt, or at least skew the science.

As they say, follow the money. Remember Indiana Jones’ immortal words: “Fortune and glory.”

Too many people in government, wealthy foundations and activist groups have decided they know what’s best for us, what kind of energy and economic future we should have, and who should be in charge. They intend to implement those policies – and global warming scare stories are key to achieving that objective. They’re pouring tens of billions of dollars into the effort.

A good example of how research money politicizes science is this May 4 headline: “Carbon dioxide effects on plants increase global warming.” The story enthusiastically reported the results of a science journal paper by Long Cao and Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution. Carbon dioxide is not just making the atmosphere trap more heat, they say. It also enables plants to absorb CO2 more efficiently, so they don’t have to open stomata (pores) in their leaves as much, and they evaporate less water.

That should be good news, as it enables plants to survive better under dry conditions, even in desert areas where they couldn’t before. Any botanist or visitor to knows this. Indeed, hundreds of experiments show how growth, water efficiency and drought resistance of crop and wild plants are enhanced by higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. So more CO2 and better plant growth should be celebrated – not serve as another “climate crisis” to further the political goal of ending hydrocarbon use and controlling our factories, jobs, cars, lives and living standards.

But the Carnegie folks turned this good news into bad, ominously saying the reduced evapotranspiration means plants don’t cool down as much, and that supposedly raises global temperatures slightly.

Equally interesting, the researchers based their findings not on actual experiments, but on yet another computer model that allegedly predicts future temperatures. When they tweaked various assumptions about the physiological effects of CO2, global air temperature over land increased 0.7 degrees F (0.4 deg C) above what supposedly would occur just from doubled CO2 levels directly increasing the greenhouse effect. But just six months earlier, the same authors tweaked the same model differently – and got only 0.2F (0.1 deg C) of additional warming. The authors now say this earlier result is “unrealistic.”

However, what guarantee do we have that the new assumptions are “realistic”? Maybe they are but, face it, there’s far less “fortune and glory,” far less headline grabbing, in a mere 0.2 degrees. It’s also far less “realistic” to expect another research grant, if the first one could only come up with 0.2 degrees of crisis. That’s not even 9:00 versus 9:30 on an average summer morning.

Besides fortune and glory, and more research grants and publications in prestigious journals, there’s also the matter of reputation. Dr. Caldeira, besides being a reputable scientist, is also an advisor to billionaire Bill Gates on renewable energy, and in charge of the $4.5 million in geo-engineering research funding that the Gates Foundation has provided over the past 3 years.

How many climate scientists can rub elbows with Bill Gates? Glory indeed. So 0.7 degrees it is.

Of course, this does not mean more robust plant growth can never be harmful. But does it really take five researchers and six funding sources (including the National Environmental Trust, NSF, NASA and NOAA) to model ragweed under doubled CO2 computer scenarios and conclude, “there may be increases in exposure to allergenic pollen under the present scenarios of global warming”?

All this makes us wonder: Why is it a bad thing that more CO2 helps plants tolerate droughts better and revegetate deserts? Should we cut down more forests, to generate even more cooling than the planet has experienced since 2005? Why do “error corrections” always seem to result in more warming than originally predicted, instead of less? And why do taxpayers have to shell out Big Bucks on this stuff?

The United States alone has been spending some $7 billion a year on “climate change research.” That’s a lot of money. But a majority of Americans now say climate change is due to natural forces, not to human CO2 emissions. To alarmists that means more “research” and “education” on the “climate crisis” is clearly needed – but not more on better oversight of questionable research or studying natural causes.

During a March 2009 closed-door meeting, Department of Energy senior advisor Matthew Rogers outlined his “dilemma” over how to comply with his new mandate to quickly spend $36.7 billion in grants and loan guarantees from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka, the Stimulus Act) on renewable energy and climate change. Today, with only $300 million of our taxpayer money and children’s inheritance left to spend, poor Matt says his “popularity continues to decline.”

Nearly $2.4 million dollars of that Stimulus loot may be funding the latest research by Penn State University Professor Michael Mann, father of Mann-made global warming, the debunked hockey stick temperature graph and many infamous Climategate e-mails. In one new project where Mike is the principal instigator, over a half-million dollars in grant money generated only “0.53” jobs in Pennsylvania. We must have missed the headline “Stimulus Creates Millionaire.”

We’re not suggesting fraud or corruption by Caldeira or anyone else. But we do find it curious that the vast bulk of the money goes to research that consistently discovers more “global warming crises.” We find several other phenomena equally curious.

* In an era when ExxonMobil posts all its grants on its website, and we have the “most transparent government in history,” government agencies, liberal foundations and activist groups jealously guard information on who’s getting how much money from whom, to finance all this crisis-oriented research.

* Universities are fighting attorney-general investigations, and insisting that any investigations into alleged misconduct must be conducted in-house and behind closed doors. Yet they are happy to give Greenpeace fishing-expedition access to emails and work product by climate crisis skeptics.

* Despite insisting that their research and findings are completely honest and above-board, climate alarmists still refuse to share their data, computer codes and methodologies, or discuss and debate their tax-funded work with scientists who might “try and find something wrong with it.”

If we didn’t know better, we’d think the operative rules were: Never seek logical or alternative answers, if you can blame a phenomenon or problem (like decreasing frog populations) on global warming. Do whatever it takes and fund whatever research is needed, to advance the goals of ending hydrocarbon use, increasing government control and “transforming” society. And always include the terms “global warming” or “climate change” in any grant application.

It may not be corruption. But it sure skews the research, conclusions and policy recommendations.


Sea Level Rises… What Sea Level Rises?

Another one of the standout presentations at the Heartland Institute’s fourth International Conference on Climate Change was the one by Nils-Axel Morner, former emeritus head of the paleogeophysics and geodynamics department at Stockholm University. His talk focused on sea level increases and the difference between observed data and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model’s predictions.

Morner was a former reviewer on the IPCC report and when he was first made a reviewer he said he was “astonished to find that not one of their 22 contributing authors on sea levels was a sea level specialist: not one.” Morner discussed the realities of a number of countries and islands claimed to be doomed from climate change. He started with the Maldives, which some reports claim will be submerged in the next fifty years. Morner pointed out that the sea level around the Maldives has been much higher before and actually fell 20 centimeters (7.8 inches) during the 1970s. He also asserted that sea levels have been stable for the past three decades.

The same could be said for Bangladesh, another country threatened by sea level rises. Last year US News reported that “brackish water from the Bay of Bengal is encroaching, surging up Bangladesh’s fresh-water rivers, percolating deep into the soil, fouling ponds and the underground water supply that millions depend on to drink and cultivate their farms.” Morner’s analysis of the data, however, shows that the sea level has been stable for the past 40 to 50 years and may have even decreased. Coastal erosion is unquestionably a problem but it’s not from sea level rise, Morner says. He also reports that there has not been an increase recorded in Tuvalu, Qatar, Vanuatu, Venice and northwest Europe.

Of course, rising sea levels could present problems in the future but so far the hysteria has been unsupported by fact. Furthermore, the policies aimed at reducing sea levels (cap and trade, international carbon dioxide reduction treaties) will have little if any impact. Despite the futility of CO2 cuts, there are many cost-effective, adaptive solutions that efficiently target specific problems and do not require globally adopted treaties. Many of these adaptations are driven by markets. Seed companies develop drought and heat resistant strains that have increased agricultural productivity in the face of global warming. Low tech, but efficient, dams create reservoirs in the Himalayas to provide water supplies and irrigation during dry months. Capping CO2 only hinders the overall economic development of poorer countries and thus puts them in a worse position to adapt to climate change and rising sea levels, if it ever becomes necessary.


More malaria disinformation coming

And guess who is involved? None other than "Hockeystick" Mann!

In the Guardian today there is an article following on about the story of malaria and climate change. I like the quote from Peter Gething of Oxford: "If we were to go back to the 1900s with the correct climate change predictions for the 20th century, modellers would predict expansion and worsening of malaria and they would have been wrong, and we believe they are wrong now." That's because despite global warming for the past 30 years, the geographic extent of malaria has lessened, leading logical thinkers to guess that climate change has not worsened the spread of malaria.

Gething was referring to his study published yesterday in Nature that found that bednets and drugs will influence the spread of malaria far more than will climate change, challenging fears that warming will aggravate the disease in Africa.

Many researchers have predicted that rising temperatures will cause malaria to expand its range and intensify in its current strongholds. But unlike usual models, which aim to predict how climate change will affect malaria in the future, researchers looked at how warming affected the disease throughout the last century.

They used a recent epidemiological map of the global distribution of the major malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and compared this with historical data on malaria's prevalence in the 1900s.

The researchers — whose work was published in Nature yesterday (20 May) — found that despite global warming, the prevalence of malaria decreased, which they attribute to disease and mosquito control programmes.

Or so you would think. But Matthew Thomas thinks differently. Matthew Thomas said that the study "plays down the potential importance of climate [change]".

Who is Matthew Thomas? He is a researcher at... Penn State. Matthew Thomas is a researcher... at Penn State... who has just won a $1.8 million grant to study the influence of environmental temperature on transmission of vector-borne diseases. Think he has a dog in this hunt?

Ask his co-investigator on the project. Michael Mann... Where do we ask for a refund?

Malaria spread throughout the world, as far north as Siberia before being beaten back in the 20th Century. Bjorn Lomborg dealt with claims that climate change would increase its spread very convincingly in The Skeptical Environmentalist 10 years ago, showing that malaria would not increase past the borders of poverty, and that economic development would increasingly push malaria into smaller and smaller enclaves. Why we need a hockey stick for malaria is beyond me.

I still don't think we need an Attorney General to investigate this, but somebody should pull the plug on this study. Think about it--even if they discover something interesting, who's going to believe it with Mann on board? And that's the most damning thing I could write.

If you want to know what the fuss is about regarding Michael Mann, it is well covered in the book Steve Mosher and I wrote, called Climategate: The CRUtape Letters. It is available on Create Space here, Amazon here, Kindle here and Lulu here.

One Amazon reviewer wrote, "Mosher and Fuller do a good job putting the ClimateGate documents in context, and the book is a riveting read. I received my copy yesterday, and find the book to be faithful to the climate war events that I have followed over a period of years. It reports actual email communications of a small group of paleoclimatologists and their roles in perhaps the biggest scientific hoax since Piltdown Man."

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Deluded dreams of power from the sea in Scotland

A letter published by The Scotsman from Colin McInnes

Jenny Fyall writes that the £4 billion to be invested in wave and tidal schemes in Scottish waters will deliver 1,200 MW of electrical power (your report, 19 May). However, the power output of the scheme is to be split almost equally between wave (capacity factor of 25 per cent) and tidal (capacity factor of 40 per cent) so the average power delivered will be in the order of 400 MW.
If the same £4bn was invested in a 1,650 MW EPR nuclear plant (capacity factor of 90 per cent) the average power delivered would be in the order of 1,480 MW, more than three times greater than the renewables scheme, without the need for back-up.

Moreover, a modern nuclear plant has a design life of 60 years compared with 20 years for marine renewables, so more than 10 times as much energy would be delivered.

In addition, it is proposed that wave schemes are supported by five Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for every MW-hour of energy produced, while tidal will attract three ROCs.

Each ROC provides £37 per MW-hour to generators (on top of the sale of electricity), so the £4bn scheme will attract renewable obligation costs in the order of £480 million a year. An industrial scale demonstration of wave and tidal power is an exciting development and is to be welcomed. It will allow innovation in engineering design to flourish and will provide real experience of operating costs. However, let's not delude ourselves that we are on the verge of a low-cost energy bonanza.


Follow-up from Neil Craig also published:

Colin McInnes (Letters, 20 May) admirably sets out the nuts and bolts of sea turbine cost and efficiency, showing that the £4 billion to be spent will produce 400MW.

His price comparison of this as being equal to a 1,650MW nuclear plant, excluding greater maintenance costs for turbines, may well be what our government is aiming at. It is not, however, what nuclear need cost.

to be owned by British Nuclear until our government forced it to sell it to Japan) is selling its AP 1000 generator off the shelf for £1,200 per KW for the first reactor, which may fall to £800 per KW for subsequent reactors, so for the same £4bn we could get 4,500MW of electric capacity, 11 times as much.

Of course we won't get that because even self-styled "pro-nuclear" politicians want massive amounts of time and money-consuming regulation which, as can be seen, triples the cost, even though it still leaves nuclear less than a third of the cost of turbines and nearly a tenth of that of windmills. However, it is important that, whatever the final cost, the people are aware of the true options.

All economic experience shows that the formula, economic freedom + cheap power > economic growth, holds true. Britain already has some of the world's most expensive power, which is why we use less power per unit of GNP than any developed countries other than Ireland, Denmark and Singapore.

If our politicians insist on making it worse and increasing the 25,000 deaths a year from fuel poverty we have the right to know that this is what they are doing.


Spanish Report: ‘Green Economy’ a Disaster

Following PJM's exclusive story on a leaked Spanish government report, a newspaper in Spain confirms that the country's "green economy" policies — the model for the Obama administration's "green jobs" efforts — have been a disaster: expensive, ineffective, and unworkable

As predicted was inevitable, today the Spanish newspaper La Gaceta runs with a full-page article fessing up to the truth about Spain’s “green jobs” boondoggle, which happens to be the one naively cited by President Obama no less than eight times as his model for the United States. It is now out there as a bust, a costly disaster that has come undone in Spain to the point that even the Socialists admit it, with the media now in full pursuit.

Breaking the Spanish government’s admission here at Pajamas Media probably didn’t hurt their interest in finally reporting on the leaked admission. Obama’s obvious hope of rushing into place his “fundamental transformation” of America into something more like Europe’s social democracies — where even the most basic freedoms have been moved from individuals and families to the state — before the house of cards collapsed has suffered what we can only hope proves to be its fatal blow. At least on this front.

La Gaceta boldly exposes the failure of the Spanish renewable policy and how Obama has been following it. The headline screams: “Spain admits that the green economy as sold to Obama is a disaster.”

This is now an explosive scandal in Spain, coming on the heels of shabby treatment over there in payback to an academic team for having pointed the disaster out (joined by equally shabby treatment by the Obama administration).

I’d say “I hate to say I told you so,” but I revel in it. My only regret is that they couldn’t have admitted it about three weeks ago to coincide even more perfectly with the release of Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America. In the book, I detail the folly of Obama’s claims about European “green economy” miracles and what cramming them down here means for you, unless you stand up and fight back now.

The man who exposed the disaster, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, kindly praises the dissection of “free ice cream” “green jobs” economics on the jacket. That fight begins anew next week with the likely Senate vote on S.J. Res. 26, the Murkowski resolution to disapprove of the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to impose much of this agenda through the regulatory back door without Congress ever having authorized such an enormous economic intervention. Read Power Grab to get your head around the numerous fallacies and fabrications, and give Washington hell.

(The article below was published in La Gaceta on May 21, 2010.)

Spain admits that the green energy as sold to Obama is a disaster

The Spanish government leaks a report that admits the ominous economic consequences of betting in favor of renewable energies.

by Cristina Blas

The president of the United States, Barack Obama, doesn’t seem to have chosen the right model to copy for his “green economy,” Spain. After the government of José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero demonized a study of different experts about the fatal economic consequences of renewable energies, an internal document from the Spanish cabinet that it is even more negative has just been leaked.

To one of the authors of the first report, Gabriel Calzada, “the government has leaked it intentionally in order to turn the media against renewable energies and to be stronger in negotiations with businesses.”

Because even though Zapatero himself opposes abandoning his grand bet, some voices — such as the minister of Industry, Miguel Sebastián — are beginning to express their worry over the enormous debt that has been generated by the investment in so-called clean energies, which could even delay Spain’s exit from the economic crisis.

On eight occasions, the occupant of the White House referred to the Spanish model as an example to follow. The paradox is that it is a model that Obama himself wants Spain to abandon, as made clear in his call to Zapatero last week in which he asked him to change his strategy on the crisis.

The internal report of the Spanish administration admits that the price of electricity has gone up, as well as the debt, due to the extra costs of solar and wind energy. Even the government numbers indicate that each green job created costs more than 2.2 traditional jobs, as was shown in the report of the Juan de Mariana Institute. Besides that, the official document is almost a copy point by point of the one that led to Calzada being denounced [lit. "vetoed"] by the Spanish Embassy in an act in the U.S. Congress.

The presentation recognizes explicitly that “the increase of the electric bill is principally due to the cost of renewable energies.” In fact, the increase in the extra costs of this industry explains more than 120% of the variation in the bill and has prevented the reduction in the costs of conventional electricity production to be reflected on the bills of the citizens.

If the document indicates that the development of renewable energies has had a positive impact, especially in the reduction of emissions, it has also admitted that the evolution has been too fast, due to subsidies.

“Between 2004 and 2010, the quantity of subsidies has been multiplied by five,”,says the text of the Spanish Ministry. In 2009 alone they were doubled from the previous year to 5,045 million euros, the equivalent of the whole public investment in I+D+i ["Investigación + Desarrollo + Innovación tecnológica", or "research, development, and technological innovation"] in Spain.

The numbers in the long run are even scarier. The government itself says that the alternative energies sector will receive 126 billion euros in the next 25 years. Just an example: The owners of solar plants make 12 times more than what they pay for the energy coming from fossil fuel combustion. The majority are subsidies charged to the consumer.

The conclusion is that with the economy at the point of bankruptcy, it is not possible to keep injecting money in such a costly sector. And the government seems to realize this now.

But aside from all this, Obama’s green energy project might cost him votes. The republican Rand Paul, animated by the tea party movement, won the primary on Tuesday for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat owing to, among other things, being a fierce critic of the president’s agenda on climate change.

Obama has made the focus of his economic and environmental politics a change towards a “green economy,” which, to the judgment of some analysts, could be a risk for the recovery of the world’s biggest economy.



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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