Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A good spoof

Sadly, it's very close to reality

Greenie misanthropy still going strong

The precursor of the OPT was the ZPG movement, which had as its slogan: "People are pollution". They hide their hatreds a little more now but the thinking is the same

In this post I look at two reports which that show a worrying new trend towards the dehumanization of people by referring to children as simply “carbon emitters” and quite openly arguing that fewer “emitters” would mean lower emissions at less cost.

The first report comes from the London School of Economics, and was sponsored by the neo-Malthusian organization, the Optimum Population Trust (OPT, patron: Sir David Attenborough).

The report, entitled “Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost,” is a cost/benefit analysis which claims that reducing the future population is the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions. Although the report stresses that “non-coercive” means should be pursued to reduce births, its terms of reference are somewhat Orwellian in tone:

A Cost/ Benefit Analysis of Reducing the Number of Additional Carbon Emitters as well as Average Per Capita Carbon Emission

OPT Report: Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost. Appendix A: Terms of Reference.

I don’t know about you, but when organizations with the sort of backing that the OPT has start referring to things like “reducing the number of additional carbon emitters” I find it quite sinister.

The report comes with a statement by the OPT which recommends that climate change negotiators recognize that “population restraint” is a vital part of tackling global warming and says, in part:

All environmental problems, and notably those arising from climate change, would be easier to solve with a smaller future population. Population restraint in rich countries and communities would reduce the future number of major carbon emitters (who will also be victims). Restraint in poor countries and communities would reduce the number of minor emitters and likely major victims

OPT Report: Fewer Emitters, Lower Emissions, Less Cost.

The statement proposes that the “contraction and convergence” targets for Co2 emissions that all countries have accepted in principle (though not formally agreed on) should be on a ‘per capita’ basis to “encourage the adoption of population restraint policies”. What this means in non-jargon terms is that when setting a nation’s Co2 emissions targets in any future treaty, these emissions should be the ‘ceiling’ or maximum allowable amount – if more people are subsequently born, the total emissions allowed for that nation cannot then increase. So, effectively, each individual’s allowed emissions will therefore have to decrease to stay within the emissions target that the nation had previously agreed to.


The other report is ’Reproduction and the Carbon Legacies of Individuals‘ by Paul A. Murtaugha and Michael G. Schlax, published in the journal, Global Environmental Change.

This study looks at now much carbon an individual will generate in their lifetime not only by normal activities, but also the carbon generated by their children and their children’s children. As it takes two people (obviously!) to have children, the authors talk in terms of “genetic units” to indicate responsibility for these future carbon emitters (in other words, your child is 50% your “genetic unit” and 50% your partner’s).

Here is the basic assumption and aim of the study. Consider exactly what their basic premise implies:

"Our basic premise is that a person is responsible for the carbon emissions of his descendants, weighted by their relatedness to him. [p. 14]

Our goal is to quantify the consequences of the child bearing decisions of an individual. The appeal of our weighting scheme is that it provides an accounting of the extent to which a parent’s genetic material propagates through subsequent generations, and it allows the emissions of any individual to be unambiguously traced back and ‘‘assigned’’ to ancestors from any preceding generation. [p. 15]"

The study then proceeds to assign the total carbon emissions of a female alive today under different fertility “constraints”

"Fig. 5 shows trajectories of person years vs. time in the United States, for ancestral females that are constrained to have exactly 0, 1, 2 or 3 children . . . [p. 17]."

They then go on in figure 6 to show how these different projections affect “the average mass of CO2 for which the ancestor is responsible”. The potential for reducing carbon emissions by reducing the number of future “genetic units” was remarkable. Whereas increasing a car’s fuel efficiency from 20mpg to 30mpg saved only 148 metric tons of Co2 emissions over an individual’s lifetime, reducing the number of children by one on a “constant-emission scenario” gave a lifetime saving of Co2 emissions of 9,441 metric tons!

As the study concludes, “Clearly, the potential savings from reduced reproduction are huge compared to the savings that can be achieved by changes in lifestyle” although they caution that reducing the future population on its own is not enough. What is required is that the changes to your lifestyle are then multiplied by you having fewer children who also live a low-carbon lifestyle as well:

"This is not to say that lifestyle changes are unimportant; in fact, they are essential, since immediate reductions in emissions worldwide are needed to limit the damaging effects of climate change that are already being documented (Kerr, 2007; Moriarty and Honnery, 2008). The amplifying effect of an individual’s reproduction documented here implies that such lifestyle changes must propagate through future generations in order to be fully effective, and that enormous future beneļ¬ts can be gained by immediate changes in reproductive behavior [p.18]"

Like the OPT report, this study does not recommend any coercive measures or legislation. It’s looking at the potential for reducing carbon emissions by reducing the number of “emitters”. These are scientific papers: legislation is not their remit. What’s worrying is this new trend towards discussing children in terms of their emissions. It’s the tacit and unspoken way that the equation of humans/gas is taken as somehow acceptable in modern society because of the supposed threat of global warming.

Oh, and whom do we have to thank for funding this study? The postscript tells us it was “supported by NASA through contract 1206715 administered by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory”. What is NASA doing funding a study into the benefits of reducing the population? Who knew?


Professor Nir Shaviv Advises Grad Students To Stay Away From Global Warming

By P Gosselin

Yesterday I wrote here a piece on an article that FOCUS magazine had written – about skepticism and the 3rd Climate Conference, which took place in Berlin last month.

The FOCUS article looked at the scorn that skeptics have to endure just for having a different opinion in climate science, for being less pessimistic about the future, and for not being alarmist.

FOCUS quoted a number of scientists, and it’s clear that the alarmists have been running the show. And unless that changes, this eventually will lead to a disaster. We are not that far from it. FOCUS wrote:

"Whoever challenges the notion of man-made climate change gets mercilessly punished by the Establishment. So it is no surprise that one hardly finds any young researchers who take a critical and skeptical view, and that mainly retired professors dominated the conference.”

Focus then presented Nir Shaviv as an example, writing:

"Also 38-year old academic high-flyer Nir Shaviv advises his own students on the threat of sanctions and reminds them to be very careful in challenging official climate dogma: ‘Whoever starts questioning is taking the risk of shooting himself in the knee.’”

Surprisingly, Professor Shaviv responded to this comment here, saying he didn’t mean it quite that way, claiming that the reporter probably got it out of context, and so he cleared up the point as follows:

"My point is that because climate science is so dogmatic students do risk burning themselves because of the politics, if they don’t follow the party line. Since doing bad (“alarmist”) climate science is not an option either, I advise them to do things which are not directly related to global warming. (In fact, all but one of the graduate students I had, work or worked on pure astrophysical projects). I, on the other hand, have the luxury of tenure, so I can shout the truth as loud as I want without really being hurt.”

I really appreciate this kind of honesty, and I do hope that Prof Shaviv indeed does not get hurt, as the atmosphere in climate science, though it has improved a bit lately, is indeed still quite toxic.

But I got to thinking: What are the ultimate consequences of Professor Shaviv’s advice to young grad students? What kind of system will we be left with if grad students continue following this advice? And what will such a system eventually produce?

Advising the best and brightest to keep away from global warming – is it really the best advice to give grad students?

This of course leads to a system that results in only alarmists reaching the field of climate science, as all other grads opt for the greener pastures of other fields. In whose hands does this leave climate science? Is this what we want?

Of course, Professor Shaviv wants to give his students the best advice, and steer them on a career path that will ultimately be the most fulfilling. But I wonder if in the end society will end up paying a terrible price if only alarmists and “bad science” are allowed to dominate particular scientific fields like climate science.

I’d hate to see how this would play out in another field, like psychiatry for example. Imagine here if the consensus was: “lobotomy is the way to go for treating patients, or to use Drug A only. Everything else is quackery. And don’t question our procedures!”

That of course would be a disaster. (It actually was widely practiced for a time – and, was a disaster). There was eugenics, too.

Where are the closed doors to open thinking in climate science taking us?

Now climate science is dominated by the alarmists, some are extremely radical. And today we are already seeing the results that these closed doors to open thinking in climate science are rendering. Just look at the renegade scientific institutions like GISS, CRU, PIK, AWI, NAS, Nature, etc., just to name a few.

Enormous sums of money are being dubiously spent on ”bad (‘alarmist’)” climate science, which has led to bad policy, a poisoned academic and political atmosphere, political opportunism, massive industrial lobbying, and, since recently, even calls for the suspension of democracy and the introduction of “authoritarianism by experts” in its place.

How much worse must it get before we wake up?

Professor Shaviv only wants the best for his students. But maybe it’s high time for him and others in his position to modify where to steer talent. We desparately need balance in thinking in all fields. Seeking the truth is a scientific responsibility and scientific talent has to take on that responsibility, and not run from it.

Unless that happens, climate science will wind up shooting itself in the knee, and then society will risk getting seriously burned – and it won’t be because of runaway global warming.


A RINO on the House Energy and Commerce Committee?

I am receiving extremely credible information that Friday morning House Republicans may put Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Let me be clear here: this would be an affront to conservatives of all stripes. It is bad enough the House GOP chose to ignore conservatives when it came time to choose chairmen of the Energy & Commerce Committee and of the Appropriations Committee. It is a slap in the face to add Leonard Lance to the Energy & Commerce Committee.

Rep. Lance supports cap and trade. As troubling, Rep. Lance is pro-abortion.

For those of you who are libertarian and could care less about Rep. Lance’s abortion position, consider this: Rep. Lance sided with the Pelosi led Democratic 111th Congress to fund Planned Parenthood. It is one thing to support killing kids. Quite another to go along with government funding for killing kids.

For those of you who may question why abortion has anything to do with the Energy & Commerce Committee, it is very simple. It is the Energy & Commerce Committee that will oversee defunding of Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, etc.

Conservatives already upset with the botched handling of House Republicans on the matter of just how much will be cut are going to be less than happy if House Republicans put Leonard Lance on the Energy & Commerce Committee.


The Serious and the Buffoons

I like to congratulate countries that, unlike ours, take energy policy seriously. Serious energy policy simply means that you seriously try to find and exploit new energy sources, using reality-based rather than delusional thinking.

Our present administration, which cherishes the delusion that noisy, ugly, and inefficient windmill farms and costly, ugly, and inefficient solar panel farms will allow us to dispense with oil, gas, and coal, is the paradigm case of unserious (i.e., joke) policy makers.

For being serious, kudos should go to Israel. As noted by the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 30, it has encouraged extensive exploration for fossil fuels off its shoreline, and the search has paid off prodigiously. The most recent discovery may tip the Mideast balance of power in Israel’s favor. A huge field of natural gas, aptly called Leviathan, apparently contains 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (according to Noble Energy, the American firm developing it). That field alone could supply Israel’s gas needs for a century. It might even make Israel a net energy exporting country.

Leviathan was found in the vicinity of smaller fields discovered earlier in the Levant Basin, an area of Mediterranean seabed off the coasts of Israel and Lebanon. The first two fields, Noa and Mari, discovered in 1999 and 2000 respectively, together contain about 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Tamar and Dalit fields, both discovered in early 2009, together contain about 9 trillion cubic feet.

The US Geological Survey estimates that the Levant Basin holds a total of 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, not to mention 1.7 billion barrels of oil. To put that in perspective, the Levant Basin’s estimated gas reserves are nearly half of what America’s entire natural gas reserves are thought to be.

These huge fields, together with Israel’s laws favoring energy exploration and development, caused the Israeli energy sector stock index to soar 1,700% in 2010. They also led to Lebanon’s passing laws to develop its share of the Levant Basin.

A second story appeared in the Journal on Dec. 31. It reports that even as our unemployment rate hovers near 10% and the price of gasoline continues to rise, the harlequins in the Obama administration have issued a directive sealing off even more lands from productive exploration. This directive requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to search its huge holdings to find “unspoiled” back country that it can then decree to be “wild lands” and lock away from development of any kind.

This may block from use many millions of acres of land in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, and everyplace else where the feds own land. (The BLM supervises 250 million acres of land!) You can just forget about the uranium, oil, natural gas, and other valuable resources of the areas the BLM shuts down.

The BLM used this power freely back in the 1970s and 1980s, but in 2003, after a lawsuit from the government of Utah, it relinquished the power. Now Obama, having lost his legislative power, is trying to build up the executive power necessary to carry out his jihad against carbon energy, and reverse the 2003 decision. He seems to think that shortages of — and high prices for — energy are the keys to economic prosperity.

All this inclines me to say “Mazel tov!” to the Israelis, and “Go to hell!” to the Obamanista environmental extremists, who are trying to choke off this nation’s energy.


The icy grip of the politics of fear

The snow crisis of December 2010: what a striking snapshot of the chasm that separates the warming-obsessed elite from the rest of us.

You couldn’t have asked for a better snapshot of the chasm that divides today’s so-called expert classes from the mass of humanity than the snow crisis of Christmas 2010. They warn us endlessly about the warming of our planet; we struggle through knee-deep snow to visit loved ones. They host million-dollar conferences on how we’ll cope with our Mediterranean future; we sleep for days in airport lounges waiting for runways to be de-iced. They pester the authorities for more funding for global-warming research; we keep an eye on our elderly neighbours who don’t have enough cash to heat their homes.

This isn’t to say that the entire climate-change thesis is wrong. I’m not one of those people who believes snowfall necessarily disproves every claim made by warming-obsessed climatologists. Rather the snow crisis demonstrated, in high definition, the gap between the fear-fuelled thinking of the elite and the struggles of everyday people. It illuminated the million metaphorical miles that now separate the fantasy politics of our so-called betters from the concerns of the rest of us.

Not surprisingly, with snowstorms smothering Western Europe and the East Coast of America, many asked: ‘What happened to global warming?’ On the 20-hour bus-and-boat-and-train-and-car journey I took from London to Galway, surrounded by people forced to make a similar trek because their flights were also cancelled, there was much jocular banter along the lines of: ‘So this is the climate change we’ve been warned about…’ As people made new friends and arranged impromptu carpools for the final legs of their journeys, there was a palpable sense that the world we inhabit is not the same as that inhabited by greens.

That isn’t surprising when you consider that greens have been telling us for the past decade that snow will disappear from our lives. Literally. ‘Snow is starting to disappear from our lives’, reported the Independent in March 2000. It quoted an expert from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (of recent Climategate fame) who said ‘children just aren’t going to know what snow is’. In 2006, the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists said winters had become ‘warmer and less snowy’ thanks to global warming.

Other climate-change campaigners told us to prepare for Saharan weather. A book published as part of Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ jamboree in 2007 - The Global Warming Survival Handbook - said there would soon be ‘searing temperatures, killer storms, drought, plague and pestilence’. Award-winning green theorists told us to prepare for life on a ‘hotter planet’ in which ‘the traditional British winter [is] probably gone for good’. Newspapers provided us with a ‘hellish vision of life on a hotter planet’ where deserts would ‘reach into the heart of Europe’ and global warming would ‘reduce humanity to a few struggling groups of embattled survivors clinging to life near the poles’.

Dramatic stuff. And unadulterated nonsense. The thing that occupied people’s minds at the end of 2010 was not how to explain to their sweating children in the deserts of Hampshire why snow disappeared from our lives, but rather how to negotiate actual snow. Again, this isn’t to say that the snow proves there is no planetary warming at all: if it is mad to cite every change in the weather as proof that Earth is doomed, then it’s probably also unwise to dance around in the slushy white stuff in the belief that it proves that all environmental scientists are demented liars. But the world of difference between expert predictions (hot hell) and our real experiences (freezing nightmare) is a powerful symbol of the distance that now exists between the apocalypse-fantasising elites and the public.

What it really shows is the extent to which the politics of global warming is driven by an already existing culture of fear. It doesn’t matter what The Science (as greens always refer to it) does or doesn’t reveal: campaigners will still let their imaginations run riot, biblically fantasising about droughts and plagues, because theirs is a fundamentally moralistic outlook rather than a scientific one. It is their disdain for mankind’s planet-altering arrogance that fuels their global-warming fantasies - and they simply seek out The Science that best seems to back up their perverted thoughts. Those predictions of a snowless future, of a parched Earth, are better understood as elite moral porn rather than sedate risk analysis.

Indeed, The Global Warming Survival Handbook gave the game away when it encouraged people to see the future through ‘carefully crafted “what if?” stories’. Admitting that it is virtually impossible to predict our climatic future - ‘We can’t even forecast if it will rain next week’ - it advised us to host ‘scenario parties’ to ‘pool the imaginations and experiences of your friends’. It’s the closest we’ve had to an admission by the green movement that its warnings of future desert-spread are based on its own feverish teenage imaginings rather than on scientific forecasts. The snow crisis demonstrated this in Technicolor (well, in bright white): that the expert elites have taken leave of the realm of reality, preferring to seek meaning and momentum in the fantasy notion that they are fighting a hot apocalypse.

Anyone with a shred of self-respect who had predicted The End Of Snow would surely now admit that he was wrong. But no. Perhaps the most revealing thing about the snow crisis is that it was held up as evidence, not that the experts were mistaken, but that the public is stupid. Apparently it’s those who ask ‘Whatever happened to global warming?’, rather than those who predicted ‘no more traditional British winters’, who need to have their heads checked. Because what they don’t understand - ignoramuses that they are - is that heavy snow is also proof that our planet is getting hotter, and that industrialised society is to blame, just as surely as the absence of snow was proof of the same thing 10 years ago.

‘The snow outside is what global warming looks like’, said one headline, in a newspaper which 10 years ago said that the lack of snow outside is what global warming looks like. A commentator said that anyone who says ‘what happened to global warming?’ is an ‘idiot’ because nobody ever claimed that global warming would ‘make Britain hotter in the long run’. (Er, yes they did.) Apparently the reason people don’t understand the (new) global-warming-causes-snow thesis is because they are ‘simple, earthy creatures, governed by the senses’: ‘What we see and taste and feel overrides analysis. The cold has reason in a deathly grip.’

This reveals the stinging snobbery at the heart of the politics of global warming. Because what we have here is an updated version of the elitist idea that the better classes have access to a profound and complicated truth that the rest of us cannot grasp. Where we have merely sensory reactions (experience), they have reason and analysis (knowledge). Our critical reaction to the snow actually revealed our failure to understand The Truth, as unveiled by The Science, rather than revealing their wrongheadedness in predicting an ‘end to snow’. We are ‘simple’, they are ‘reasoned’. In 2011, we should take everything that is said by this new doom-mongering expert caste with a large pinch of salt – and then spread that salt on the snow which they claimed had disappeared from our lives.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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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