Monday, February 21, 2011

"Green" America burns food for fuel while poor people go hungry

Throwing the huge U.S. corn crop onto the open market would slash food prices worldwide. And importing ethanol from the much more efficient Brazilian producers would slash the price of ethanol as well.

Brazil makes ethanol from sugarcane, which has much more sugar (and hence ethanol) in it than corn does. And there are many sources of sugarcane worldwide. Australia alone could easily match Brazil's production

In a perverse sort of way, the failure of the G20 finance ministers meeting over the weekend could be seen as an indicator of increasing confidence in global economic recovery. Without the blow torch of crisis to concentrate minds, the world's supposed economic leaders fell back into self-serving politics and platitudes.

So there was plenty of talk about food prices, with G20 types from the French to the Indians wanting to do something about evil speculators who must be behind the jump in soft commodities. Nice to have a convenient and simple scapegoat for a very complex problem.

The American scapegoat of choice though is China's foreign exchange policy. While the United States' dipsy and inefficient biofuels policy means it is literally burning somewhere between a third and 40 per cent of its massive corn crop as a gift to its farm lobby, Washington wants everyone to focus on the renminbi.

The supposed big achievement of the Paris meeting was an agreement, vaguely worded, on the sort of indicators that might be used as yet-to-be-established “indicative guidelines” for the health of the global economy. The idea is to highlight economic imbalances before they turn into crises and a nice idea it is – but then politics intervenes.

What it mainly seems to be about is the United States' ongoing attempt to blame someone else, anyone else, for its own gross policy failures. Specifically, the US would have the world believe it's all the fault of those inscrutable Chinese manipulating their currency, keeping it artificially low and therefore making Chinese exports artificially attractive. The US wanted the G20 meeting to sharpen the spotlight on the renminbi and partially succeeded – everyone needs a scapegoat.

Never mind Washington's own currency manipulation in the form of “quantitative easing” and a decade of lousy policy that destroyed faith in the economic management of the world's biggest economy. That'll knock a currency around no end. The suspicion that the US will only be able to deal with its massive debt by inflating it away will keep knocking it. The Americans are just annoyed that they haven't been able to knock it down enough against China's stubborn peg.

The US Treasury Secretary, little Timmy Geithner, used the Paris meeting to demonstrate again that he's as bad as his predecessors. He would have us believe that the cheap RMB means China is growing too fast and that's what's causing food inflation.

Economic growth, a nation of more than 1.3 billion people forging a way out of poverty, does result in increased food consumption, among other things. Effectively, if only more people ate less, were happy to starve for the greater good, food would be cheaper. And this sort of suggestion from the Treasury Secretary of the world's most obese nation.

The US trashing its own dollar has had a much bigger impact on prices as the greenback happens to be the world's currency of trade. And then there's the ethanol policy.

The big driver for US grain farmers has been biofuels policy that effectively links the price of corn to the price of oil while absorbing $US7.7 billion a year in government subsidies.

And the bad news is that it's early days yet. As told in a Goldman Sachs report the current US production of more than 10 billion gallons a year (nearly 9 per cent of America's gasoline supply) is slated to increase to 36 billion gallons by 2022 under the Renewable Fuels Standard of the Energy Independence and Security Act introduced in 2007. And it could get worse:

“Lately there has been a push for raising the ethanol-gasoline blending requirements from 10 per cent all the way to 15 per cent and we would not be surprised if the EPA agrees to something closer to 11-12 per cent. Each percentage increase in ethanol blending is equal to 550 million bushels of corn or approximately the equivalent of 4.5 per cent of total US production.”

There's a lot more to higher global grain prices than just the US preoccupation with gas-guzzling cars and subsidising farmers. Drought in China, floods in Australia, fires in Russia, more people wanting more food, they all play a role. But while natural disasters and human hunger happen, willfully burning food is a particular form of obscenity.

What's more, American corn isn't even an efficient source of ethanol. The scale and productivity of Brazilian sugar cane plantations perhaps makes a case for turning that sweet giant grass into fuel – but tariffs and tax subsidies for the locals keep it out of the US. American corn farmers can't begin to compete with it.

With oil prices back up around $US100 a barrel, there's increased incentive to grow more corn and thus more is being planted at the expense of other crops. Such is the totally interrelated nature of the world economy that dumb US agricultural policy plays a roll in changing third-world governments and improving the lot of Australian wheat farmers as they face less competition from the US.


An ignorant EPA administrator

By geologist H. Leighton Steward

The statement is being made in response to statements submitted to the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Committee on Energy and Commerce, United States House of Representatives, February 9, 2011 by EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and American Public Health Association representative Lynn Goldman, M.D.

Administrator Jackson begins by stating that all Americans rely on the Clean Air Act to protect them from harmful air pollution. I agree. Next, Administrator Jackson says she is relying on the 2007 Supreme Court decision that EPA could consider greenhouse gases an air pollutant.

Administrator Jackson neglected to include that the Supreme Court also said the Administrator could exclude a greenhouse gas if she could present evidence that the gas was not a pollutant or endangerment to mankind.

This gets to the heart of the issue since Administrator Jackson has singled out carbon dioxide as the key substance to regulate on the grounds that, as Administrator Jackson so frequently comments, "CO2 is a pollutant and an endangerment to mankind."

That anyone would say that CO2 is a pollutant is incredible, but particularly when said by Administrator Jackson who is a degreed chemical engineer. There is not a single case, short of multi-thousands of parts per million (ppm) of this trace gas, that indicates CO2 to be a pollutant. CO2 is the staff of life. Earth's food chain begins with plants and as we all learned in elementary school, CO2 is what plants eat. In fact, as thousands of peer reviewed laboratory and field studies show, the more CO2 plants "eat", the more robustly they grow.

This is not speculation based upon man-made models; this is from real, empirical observations. I present three examples demonstrating that CO2 is not a pollutant; first, many commercial greenhouse operators grow the fruits and vegetables we buy in the grocery and where they and their staffs work, in an atmosphere of 1,000 ppm CO2. The workers suffer no ill effects and the plants grow profusely. Earth's current atmosphere contains only 390 ppm.

Secondly, as testified to the Unites States Senate, Princeton distinguished Professor William Happer has pointed that our very own government allows CO2 levels to build up to 8,000 ppm in our nuclear submarines where our sailors reside for weeks at a time.

Thirdly, we breathe in the current 390 ppm of CO2 and breathe out 40,000 ppm (!) with our lungs incurring no toxic or detrimental effects. For this Administration and especially Administrator Jackson to continue to refer to CO2 as a pollutant is far worse that a slip of the tongue or exaggeration; it is grossly misleading to our country's citizens.

That man-made CO2 is a primary cause of climate change is just a hypothesis. The hypothesis has not been proven and even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits that when they do not say that they are 100% certain it is true. While proving that the hypothesis is true for such a complex subject is probably impossible, it is only prudent to examine whether it can be shown to be false. Webster's dictionary defines hypothesis as a provisional theory accepted for the sake of argument and testing. Scientists are taught that a hypothesis must withstand its claims being verified or falsified by observing available empirical evidence.

When Albert Einstein, in 1905, proposed the theory of relativity, he encouraged other scientists to try and refute it as demanded by the scientific method. Therefore, as a geologist and accustomed to looking back at what has happened in the past to understand why the Earth is physically like it is, I decided to use the same forensic approach to review Earth's old climates, her paleoclimates.

Sir Winston Churchill is credited with saying, "The farther backward you look, the farther forward you are likely to see;" certainly applicable here. Five years ago I began this forensic endeavor thinking I could look back at old temperatures and the often thousands of ppm of atmospheric CO2 and show the tremendous impact such elevated CO2 levels had on Earth's paleoclimates. I could not find such impacts. I did find however, after reviewing "all" the scientific studies of others, determine that the hypotheses of significant CO2 induced climate change to be false and here is why:

1. Per Dr. Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University, which is the prime source of climate data for the IPCC, despite the steep rise in CO2, there has been no statistically significant warming of the Earth for the last 15 years. Dr. Jones also has publicly admitted that, regarding anthropogenic global warming, the science is not settled.

2. When climate proxies, such as ice cores, tree rings, isotopic analysis of ocean, lake and soil samples, stalagmites, corals, and leaf shapes and stomata densities are cross correlated, they give us a good relative measurement of Earth's old temperatures vs. those of the last 150 years. These studies indicate that, even at much lower levels of CO2 in the past, the USA's temperatures today are not the warmest of the last 100 years (1934 was warmer) the last 1,000 years (the Medieval Warm Period was warmer), the last 10,000 years (the Roman Warm Period, Minoan Warm Period and Holocene Optimum were as warm or warmer according to proxy studies), the last 400,000 years (where of the last five interglacials our current interglacial has had the highest CO2 level yet is the coolest of the five) and to go way back, 430 million years ago, when there was glaciations down to 60 latitude while CO2 levels were about 4,000 ppm; over 10 times as high as today.

3. Ice core analysis from Antarctica and Greenland show many intervals where CO2 levels lag or follow temperature changes, not vice versa. A cause does not follow an effect.

4. The physical heat trapping ability of CO2 declines logarithmically or very rapidly and at today's level cannot "trap" a significant amount of additional heat, consistent with the observations wherein paleotemperatures did not become catastrophically high even at CO2 levels of several thousand ppm.

The above is empirical evidence. Administrator Jackson said the EPA reviewed thousands of public comments. Those comments included much of the same data I reference, yet she has refused to even mention this very most basic of scientific tests, the empirical test. The answer appears obvious; EPA cannot prevail in a discussion of real evidence so must rely on the output of climate modelers whose grants and very futures depend on generating the potential man-made catastrophes that satisfy the position articulated by the funding source.

What about the public position papers of the leading scientific societies that declares a belief in man-made global warming? None, to my knowledge, have agreed to take a vote of their membership. Most societies are run by a small group of leaders, mostly academics, whose universities depend, in part, on government grants. Why didn't Administrator Jackson mention the recent poll by "Scientific American", a very popular publication with scientists, which found that 77% of the thousands of respondents said they believed that climate was driven by natural causes, 83% said the IPCC was a corrupt organization, and 91% said the doubts about what is causing climate change should be publicly discussed.


British Weather Guru Labels Met Office as Evil Dictator of Science

John O'Sullivan

As more evidence shows the sun drives our climate a leading forecaster labels the cult of man-made global warming “the Mubarak regime of Science.”

Britain’s best independent weatherman, Piers Corbyn of WeatherAction launches a blistering attack on the UK’s Met Office for repeatedly trumpeting claims that floods can be attributed to human impacts on climate. The Met Office has long been a key supporter of climatologists claiming carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by humans will bring about catastrophic climate change.

Corbyn counters: “If there were any truth in their claims we would have seen a continuous increase in floods (and other extremes according to their catechism) during the last century and also in the last ten years because CO2 has been rising continuously.”

With his usual flamboyant cut and thrust the maverick marvel from WeatherAction puts the doomsaying cult to the sword with a visual presentation created specifically for a new series of talks and seminars. Corbyn claims his set of damning slides are based on indisputable facts and are geared towards better explaining the basics to non-scientists.

In his easy to follow step-by-step analysis Corbyn expertly debunks the claims of a clique of self-serving “carbon crazy” climatologists. He asks us to compare their forecasts to his own sensational results. This, he says, is the best evidence to show who is more credible on the science. Corbyn is adamant that climate varies strictly according to changes in our enormous and powerful sun and not in any way determined by a tiny amount of CO2 (under 0.04 percent) in our atmosphere.

More Extreme Weather Events Coming Says Corbyn

After years of being shunned by a mainstream media that are still sold on the doomsaying spin, Piers has nonetheless become a notable figure always pressured to speak at meetings and conference events across Britain whenever he can. Attentive listeners are most impressed with his masterful display in what is such a contentious field of applied science.

Dismissive of the billion dollar propaganda machine that has been touting the global warming scare for two decades, Corbyn insists changes in solar activity are, and always will be, the key and humans have no measurable effect whatsover on our climate.

Speaking recently in front of a packed audience the guru from WeatherAction spelled out the facts: "It’s time for a reality check. What works works and what doesn’t doesn’t. We can now show the events on the sun which precede our predicted extreme events which we can usually get right 85% of the time to a day or so from months ahead.”

Corbyn is a tough cookie to eschew. With his uncanny knack of foreseeing a long list of extreme weather events - including the Russian heatwave and Pakistan floods; the coldest December for 100 years in Britain; the series of giant blizzards in America and supercyclone Yasi that thrashed Queensland - no one can doubt his success rate.

In acknowledgement of his astonishing achievements 2010 ended as an award-winning year for Corbyn as he scooped the Stairways Press Ernst-Georg Beck Award plus a check for $10,000.


Greenies going organic

Why not? It's just as hokey

Courtesy of Time Magazine, with a hat tip to HockeySchtick, we see how the " Greens move on from 'climate change' to organic food movement".

Whoa! But, yep. The 'greatest threat facing mankind!(!!!)' flopped, in the end, so it's time to go back to small ball. Remember that. Greatest. Threat. Evah! Then...not so much.

Basic salesmanship says to get them nodding. And the greens did that, peddling easy issues demanding "action!" (if usually by the federal government) even if on that which often had been addressed by concerned citizen groups before lawmakers intervened with legislation now inaccurately romanticized as having stopped the cause célèbre (e.g., Cuyahoga River fires, plural, as in ten over a century thanks to government being government).

Move on to local initiatives, poisoning the school curricula, and then POW!, Kyoto, energy rationing, Gore-, Wallstrom- and Chirac-extolled 'leveling [of] the playing field', 'global governance' and the whole shootin' match of riding the excuse, the vehicle they created to finally enacting the long-held policy agenda.

But now, as Time writes, "These are dark days for the environmental movement. A year after being on the cusp of passing landmark legislation to cap greenhouse gases, greens are coming to accept the fact that the chance of national and international action on climate change has become more remote than ever."

Hardly a coincidence. What the scribbler here misses is the connection between the overreach and the consequential setback, reflecting something I have touted for years: when Americans are presented the check, they'll stop the agreeable, cocktail-party level 'well, sure, we should do 'something'" nodding and ask to see the science. And fortunately by the time cap-and-trade rolled around the science had already exposed itself.

So while they've got a few backdoor 'other ways to skin that cat' cooking, it's back to square one for the greens. Soon enough they'll rehabilitate themselves with soothing overtures and checkout-line magazine teases -- 'simple ways to live green!' -- then leap back in with the hype, demonization and power grabs.

It's their move, how they roll, and what they're all about.

P.S. With its next sentence, and all that follows, Time's little item also affirms the asininity of the establishment media: "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under attack by newly empowered Republicans in Congress who argue that the very idea of environmental protection is unaffordable for our debt-ridden country."

Quick: name one who argues that. Sorry, two, it says "Republicans". Unless 'environmental protection' only means an ever-expanding EPA, and restricting domestic energy production, permissible energy sources and individual freedoms, that is.

Which, to Time, it clearly does. Pretty well reaffirming the rest of the above.

SOURCE. See also here.

Green/Left bias at Australia's national broadcaster

Accompanied by a sweeping disregard for the facts, unsurprisingly

THE ABC's charter calls for balance and professionalism but it seems these values are no longer held by some of its staff. Don't believe me? Here's just one example.

In late November last year Sara Phillips, ABC's environment editor, posted an opinion piece about climate negotiations at Cancun to her taxpayer-funded blog. I left a comment suggesting she might be better off covering a recent paper published in the Journal of Climate co-authored by Steve McIntyre. This work refuted an earlier study published in Nature in the summer of 2009 and widely covered by the ABC which claimed there was unusual warming in west Antarctica due to man-made global warming. McIntyre and co-authors O'Donnell, Lewis and Condon proved the statistical methodology of the Nature study was flawed and the results erroneous. I directed Phillips to a post on the subject by McIntyre, at his Climate Audit website.

The following anonymous comment was posted to Phillips's blog shortly afterwards:
Annie : 03 Dec 2010 7:07:53pm

The denialist clowns return again . . . . . . run by Stephen McIntyre a known climate denialist and extremist right-wing provocateur . . . you are a joke as are your answers . . . laughing hysterically.

On seeing the comment I alerted Phillips, suggesting the comment should be removed as it contravened ABC posting rules, namely, 4.4.1 defamatory, or otherwise unlawful or that it violates laws regarding harassment, discrimination, racial vilification, privacy or contempt; 4.4.2 intentionally false or misleading; 4.4.4 abusive, offensive or obscene; 4.4.5 inappropriate, off topic, repetitive or vexatious; 4.4.9 deliberate provocation of other community members.

After a day or so it was clear my request had been ignored, so I submitted a formal complaint to the ABC. This was turned down by the ABC's audience and consumer affairs. The reply I received on December 16 included the following rationale from Phillips:
"The moderator has explained this decision as follows: "Mr McIntyre is described by Annie as being an 'extremist right wing provocateur'. Mr McIntyre's views are seen by some as extreme. Annie clearly believes they are. He could reasonably be described as 'right wing' as a speaking member of the George C Marshall Institute, which is known for its right-leaning politically conservative views. 'Provocateur' is a name given to describe those whose thinking goes against that of the status quo, another label that could reasonably be given to Mr McIntyre. As such, the comments from Annie are not unfounded and therefore not defamatory."

I thought McIntyre might be interested in our national broadcaster's view of him so I passed on ABC's official response. These views perhaps account for the lack of coverage of McIntyre's ground-breaking work on climate change by the ABC. McIntyre responded to the ABC, in an email sent on December 17:
I am not a "member of the George Marshall Institute". This allegation on your part is untrue. I once spoke at a briefing session sponsored by George Marshall Institute, but that does not make me a "member" or imply any endorsement on my part of their views. I would have been delighted to make the same presentation at a session sponsored by the Pew Centre.

Nor is there any basis for characterising my political views as "extremist right wing". I have seldom expressed political opinions, though I once said that, in American terms, I would have been a Bill Clinton supporter. My only recent political contributions have been to a left-wing municipal politician in Toronto, Pam McConnell. I challenge you to provide any evidence that I hold "extremist right wing" political views. The comments by Annie are totally unfounded and defamatory.

Yours truly, Stephen McIntyre

On December 23 ABC advised that the offensive comments had been removed.

The level of bias and base ignorance inherent in the views of a senior ABC journalist, in supporting the defamatory comments, are truly astonishing.

The affair leaves one questioning the credibility and objectivity of ABC's environmental reporting, along with the independence and efficacy of ABC's system of self-regulation.

Why did it take so much effort to remove the offensive comment? How did Phillips obtain permission to run such a biased and unbalanced opinion page at the taxpayers' expense?

In an era where there are a multitude of opportunities for ABC staff to express their opinions by setting up their own blogs or personal web pages, how does Mark Scott justify the use of taxpayer funds to foot this bill?

As the government is looking for budget savings to fund flood and cyclone reconstruction I can't help but think that a few dollars could be saved by forcing ABC staff to fend for themselves in the blogosphere, rather than continue to sucker on our old Auntie's sagging teat.

It's not about shutting down the debate, it's about moving it to an appropriate venue. One where the taxpayer does not have to wear the cost, or bear the risks of paying out on defamation cases brought about by poor moderation.

With environmental activists posing as journalists at the ABC it's no wonder Maurice Newman's plea to end the Climate Groupthink has been ignored. And the ABC is yet to apologise to McIntyre, or provide any coverage of his important work.


India builds "Green" bridge

Yikes! "We used minimum cement to reduce greenhouse effect". A bridge built on sand????

The scenic Kerala backwaters can now boast of an engineering marvel — the longest rail bridge in the country at 4.62km. The bridge is part of a 8.6-km railway link connecting Idapalli to Vallarpadam in Kochi, where the shipping ministry has constructed the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT).

Built by the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd at Rs 200 crore, the bridge came up in a record 28 months.

The rail link between Idapalli railway station and ICTT can also boast green technology to address environmental concerns. The alignment cuts through densely populated habitations and backwaters. "We used minimum cement to reduce greenhouse effect," said a rail official. Land acquisition being a sensitive issue in Kerala, RVNL took an elevated route — a 40m-long girder erected at a curve of 2.5 degrees — to cut down on land use in densely populated areas and also go across the backwaters.

"This led to the conceptualization of a 4.62km-long elevated structure," RVNL managing director Satish Agnihotri told TOI.

The project, which will serve as the first SEZ port in the country, will eliminate transhipment of goods from Colombo port to Indian ports. Mega mother ships and Panamax vessels can directly reach Vallarpadam. It will also save the cost of transportation by $300 per container, making export and import cheaper.

"The work had to be completed fast as the rail connectivity to the container terminal was a time-bound exercise being monitored by the Prime Minister`s Office," an official said.

The new bridge eclipses Dehri-on-Sone's record as the longest rail bridge in the country. The three-km-long bridge on the Sone River was constructed by the East India Railway in 1900.



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


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No damage to our lungs from exhaling 40,000 ppm of CO2? Try 1,000,000 PPM from belching out CO2 after chugging a whole can of beer during a drinking game!