Saturday, March 26, 2011

Carbon dioxide is good for you -- particularly if you are an asthmatic

Buteyko was ridiculed for many years in Western medical circles -- in a typical rejection of anything outside familiar parameters. The anecdotal evidence in favour of the technique was so strong, however, that a few trials have now been done -- with striking results. Buteyko techniques also seem to have been quietly adopted as an option in many mainstream asthma clinics

And it appears to be the higher levels of carbon dioxide in the lungs that the method produces which are the key. Since atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been rising as steadliy as global temperature has not, it could just be that the horror world foreseen by the Warmists will in fact turn out to be heaven for asthmatics!

I don’t often write about alternative remedies for serious medical conditions. Most have little more than anecdotal support, and few have been found effective in well-designed clinical trials. Such trials randomly assign patients to one of two or more treatments and, wherever possible, assess the results without telling either the patients or evaluators who received which treatment.

Now, however, in describing an alternative treatment for asthma that does not yet have top clinical ratings in this country (although it is taught in Russian medical schools and covered by insurance in Australia), I am going beyond my usually stringent research criteria for three reasons:

* The treatment, a breathing technique discovered half a century ago, is harmless if practiced as directed with a well-trained therapist.

* It has the potential to improve the health and quality of life of many people with asthma, while saving health care dollars.

* I’ve seen it work miraculously well for a friend who had little choice but to stop using the steroid medications that were keeping him alive.

My friend, David Wiebe, 58, of Woodstock, N.Y., is a well-known maker of violins and cellos, with a 48-year history of severe asthma that was treated with bronchodilators and steroids for two decades. Ten years ago, Mr. Wiebe noticed gradually worsening vision problems, eventually diagnosed as a form of macular degeneration caused by the steroids. Two leading retina specialists told him to stop using the drugs if he wanted to preserve his sight.

He did, and endured several terrifying trips to the emergency room when asthma attacks raged out of control and forced him to resume steroids temporarily to stay alive.

Nothing else he tried seemed to work. “After having a really poor couple of years with significantly reduced quality of life and performance at work,” he told me, “I was ready to give up my eyesight and go back on steroids just so I could breathe better.”

Treatment From the ’50s

Then, last spring, someone told him about the Buteyko method, a shallow-breathing technique developed in 1952 by a Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko. Mr. Wiebe watched a video demonstration on YouTube and mimicked the instructions shown.

“I could actually feel my airways relax and open,” he recalled. “This was impressive. Two of the participants on the video were basically incapacitated by their asthma and on disability leave from their jobs. They each admitted that keeping up with the exercises was difficult but said they had been able to cut back on their medications by about 75 percent and their quality of life was gradually returning.”

A further search uncovered the Buteyko Center USA in his hometown, newly established as the official North American representative of the Buteyko Clinic in Moscow.

“When I came to the center, I was without hope,” Mr. Wiebe said. “I was using my rescue inhaler 20 or more times in a 24-hour period. If I was exposed to any kind of irritant or allergen, I could easily get a reaction that jeopardized my existence and forced me to go back on steroids to save my life. I was a mess.”

But three months later, after a series of lessons and refresher sessions in shallow breathing, he said, “I am using less than one puff of the inhaler each day — no drugs, just breathing exercises.”

Mr. Wiebe doesn’t claim to be cured, though he believes this could eventually happen if he remains diligent about the exercises. But he said: “My quality of life has improved beyond my expectations. It’s very exciting and amazing. More people should know about this.”

Ordinarily, during an asthma attack, people panic and breathe quickly and as deeply as they can, blowing off more and more carbon dioxide. Breathing rate is controlled not by the amount of oxygen in the blood but by the amount of carbon dioxide, the gas that regulates the acid-base level of the blood.

Dr. Buteyko concluded that hyperventilation — breathing too fast and too deeply — could be the underlying cause of asthma, making it worse by lowering the level of carbon dioxide in the blood so much that the airways constrict to conserve it.

This technique may seem counterintuitive: when short of breath or overly stressed, instead of taking a deep breath, the Buteyko method instructs people to breathe shallowly and slowly through the nose, breaking the vicious cycle of rapid, gasping breaths, airway constriction and increased wheezing.

The shallow breathing aspect intrigued me because I had discovered its benefits during my daily lap swims. I noticed that swimmers who had to stop to catch their breath after a few lengths of the pool were taking deep breaths every other stroke, whereas I take in small puffs of air after several strokes and can go indefinitely without becoming winded.

The Buteyko practitioners in Woodstock, Sasha and Thomas Yakovlev-Fredricksen, were trained in Moscow by Dr. Andrey Novozhilov, a Buteyko disciple. Their treatment involves two courses of five sessions each: one in breathing technique and the other in lifestyle management. The breathing exercises gradually enable clients to lengthen the time between breaths. Mr. Wiebe, for example, can now take a breath after more than 10 seconds instead of just 2 while at rest.

Responses May Vary

His board-certified pulmonologist, Dr. Marie C. Lingat, told me: “Based on objective data, his breathing has improved since April even without steroids. The goal now is to make sure he maintains the improvement. The Buteyko method works for him, but that doesn’t mean everyone who has asthma would respond in the same way.”

In an interview, Mrs. Yakovlev-Fredricksen said: “People don’t realize that too much air can be harmful to health. Almost every asthmatic breathes through his mouth and takes deep, forceful inhalations that trigger a bronchospasm,” the hallmark of asthma.

“We teach them to inhale through the nose, even when they speak and when they sleep, so they don’t lose too much carbon dioxide,” she added.

At the Woodstock center, clients are also taught how to deal with stress and how to exercise without hyperventilating and to avoid foods that in some people can provoke an asthma attack.

The practitioners emphasize that Buteyko clients are never told to stop their medications, though in controlled clinical trials in Australia and elsewhere, most have been able to reduce their dependence on drugs significantly. The various trials, including a British study of 384 patients, have found that, on average, those who are diligent about practicing Buteyko breathing can expect a 90 percent reduction in the use of rescue inhalers and a 50 percent reduction in the need for steroids within three to six months.

The British Thoracic Society has given the technique a “B” rating, meaning that positive results of the trials are likely to have come from the Buteyko method and not some other factor. Now, perhaps, it is time for the pharmaceutically supported American medical community to explore this nondrug technique as well.

SOURCE. More coverage of the Buteyko technique here. A quote: "The Buteyko Breathing Technique is based on the premise that raising blood levels of carbon dioxide through shallow breathing can help people with asthma. Carbon dioxide is believed to dilate the smooth muscles of the airways."

More on the corrupt American Lung Association

Further to my leading post yesterday -- JR

A member of the Project 21 black leadership network is criticizing the American Lung Association for the misleading nature of its billboard campaign denouncing Rep. Fred Upton.

Upton has introduced legislation, the "Energy Tax Prevention Act," that bars the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing costly and job-killing carbon dioxide regulations without congressional approval.

The billboards say, "Rep. Fred Upton, protect our kids' health. Don't weaken the Clean Air Act." The billboards feature a photo of a girl wearing a mask to assist her breathing.

Upton's legislation would not weaken the pollution-control elements of the Clean Air Act, but prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide, which is not a pollutant. Carbon dioxide regulations have nothing to do with our childrens' ability to breathe.

"It's outrageous that a charity purportedly dedicated to health issues is exploiting children to protect the EPA's power grab," said Project 21 full-time fellow Deneen Borelli. "The American Lung Association of Michigan's action against Congressman Upton puts the group's reputation at risk of becoming known as just another liberal front group trying to manipulate public opinion through fear and deception."

One billboard is situated directly opposite Upton's Kalamazoo office.

After the Democratic majority in the Senate declined to adopt a "cap-and-trade" emissions bill in the last congressional session, President Barack Obama ordered the EPA to begin regulating greenhouse gases. He did so under the authority of a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling determining that, although Congress did not state so explicitly at the time (and did not consider carbon dioxide a pollutant at the time), Congress intended for the EPA to have this authority under the Clean Air Act. Upton's bill specifies that Congress will retain this lawmaking authority for the legislative branch.

"It's up to Congress to write the laws, and there is little enthusiasm among elected leaders to regulate our nation's energy industry so that prices will skyrocket," added Project 21's Borelli. "The biggest health risks will be derived from the economic consequences of EPA's regulation greenhouse gas emissions. When families end of paying more and more for power, they will have less to spend on medical care, education and savings."

A 2010 report by Management Information Services estimated EPA regulation of carbon dioxide could destroy 2.5 million jobs by 2030 and lower the average American household income by $1,200 a year. And, while emissions regulation is expected to increase energy prices, a new study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found that lower-to-middle-class families are already paying much more for energy than they did just a decade ago -- a 12 percent to 20 percent increase of after-tax income, for example, for a family earning less than $50,000 a year.

"Transferring regulatory authority back to elected lawmakers merely stops a radical agenda at the EPA that will raise energy prices. Carbon dioxide is what we exhale -- it doesn't cause cancer or acid rain," said Borelli. "This is not the American Lung Association's fight, and their intervention -- in light of receiving EPA funding -- also questions the intent."

According to the EPA's online Grant Awards Database, the American Lung Association of Michigan received $78,000 from the EPA over the past decade. Grants to the Association and its affiliates during that time total over $20 million.


Reality strikes back

The Japanese Reactor Leaks - Without the Hype

By Don Petersen, PhD and Bill Stratton, PhD, American nuclear experts

Loss of coolant events at several of Japan's nuclear reactors are eerily similar to the Three Mile Island incident of 1979, except that four reactors and spent fuel pools are involved, and tens of thousands perished in a massive earthquake, and devastating tsunami. With all the monumental loss of life and and the unbelievable destruction, the US media still takes most of its time to report hysterically on a "Meltdown" and "Radiation"!

The panic reporting is exactly the same as Three Mile Island--inflated and misinformed. It is hard to separate the facts from the assertions and the media are not helping, but with each passing day more information relevant to the outcome emerges and the hand wringing of previous days lessens. The level of severity at Fukushima Dai-Ichi has been increased to equal Three Mile Island, a desirable condition that appears to be developing--no major radiation release, no one killed, and no serious long term hazard. Even the aftermath of Chernobyl--the worst accident ever--does not reflect the exaggerated initial casualty predictions. Similar exaggerated cancer death predictions undoubtedly will be made for this accident.

The Japanese reactors, forty-year-old GE BWR Mark-1s, were shut down automatically when the earthquake, 5 times greater than the building design, struck. All containment remarkably survived the 9.0 quake intact . Loss of core cooling resulted from the tsunami interrupting offsite electrical transmission and inundating the emergency diesel generators that powered the cooling systems. Fresh water supply also was destroyed by the tsunami, leading to the use of sea water and boron in attempts to cool down the reactor cores and the spent fuel storage pools close to the reactors. The reactor cores cannot be saved but the catastrophe predicted by the frantic reporting will not happen. The spent fuel has been in the pools for a year, about half the time required for fuel to cool enough for dry cask storage. It will heat, but It is more accessible for cooling, and there will be no massive Chernobyl-style releases.

Hydrogen explosions have occurred, 137-cesium and,131-iodine have been detected around Fukushima Dai-Ichi units one through four, resulting from intentional venting to relieve strain on containment, but no major radiation releases have occurred, and the containment appears to remain intact. If cooling conditions can be maintained, most of the spent fuel melting will have been averted and the final outcome will be a huge economic loss for the power company, an engineering nightmare to decommission all four units and associated pools, but with no serious injuries, nobody killed, and little or no long term radiation-related consequences.

Recall that the reactors were shut down and that the core heat comes from the decay of fission products. The residual heat is a small fraction of what would have been present from fission. If core geometry can be cooled and preserved, the cores will not become critical (new nuclear reactions) again. It is important to distinguish between decay heat and criticality which would introduce a new temperature excursion. So far, the Japanese are dealing only with decay heat. A new and serious feature of the Japanese reactor reports is the suggestion that containment has been breached but falling radiation levels indicate that containment is intact.

Finally, in the worst case, the reactor cores will melt but remain contained without massive release of a radioactive plume. Residual heat in an uncooled but shut down reactor is enough to melt the core. The Three Mile Island core melted, the containment held, no significant radiation was released, and no one was injured or killed--not even a grasshopper. The search for cesium at Three Mile Island was intense. Finally, a pike from the Susquehanna River gave evidence of 134-, and 137-cesium but it turned out to be from a nine-month-old Chinese atmospheric weapons test, not from Three Mile Island. The story illustrates the incredible sensitivity of detection instruments. The information that "radiation" has been detected on returning commercial aircraft, dutifully reported by the distracted press, also illustrates the remarkable sensitivity of detection devices, as does reporting of 131-Iodine in local milk, and activity in leafy vegetables. Little information on amounts or identity of contributing nuclides escaping from the reactor complex is available except that measured spikes of radioactivity exceed accepted emergency annual worker exposure limits fivefold (500 millisieverts). That value suggests that relatively small amounts have been released consistent with the notion that it comes from intentional venting and not a breach.

To put the event in perspective, the four reactor cores and associated spent fuel in pools are being stabilized, iodine and cesium releases are relatively small but indicate damage to the reactor cores, exposures of recovery personnel are low, and there have been no fatalities. Thus, Fukushima Dai-Ichi is worse than Three Mile Island, but far, far less serious than Chernobyl. The event is inconsequential by comparison with the awful tragedy that has befallen the Japanese people, and eventually someone should take the melodramatic media to task for misplaced priorities that virtually ignore the genuine tragedy.


Congressman Barton takes dim view of federal light bulb policy

The light bulb you grew up with likely won't be the light bulb you'll grow old with unless U.S. Rep. Joe Barton has his way. The Arlington Republican is spearheading an effort to tell Congress to keep its hands off everyone's light bulbs, trying to repeal a section of a 2007 energy independence act geared to start phasing out 100-watt incandescent light bulbs next year.

The act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, would essentially remove incandescent light bulbs by 2014, leaving consumers to mostly use the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs.

"This is about more than just energy consumption," Barton said. "Voters sent us a message in November that it is time for politicians and activists in Washington to stop interfering in their lives and manipulating the free market. "The light bulb ban is the perfect symbol of that frustration," he said. "People don't want Congress dictating what light fixtures they can use."

Supporters say the bulb change is about advancing technology, saving energy and money, and helping the environment.

Energy Star statistics show that if one light bulb in every American home were replaced with an Energy Star-approved compact fluorescent, enough energy would be saved to light 3 million U.S. homes a year, reduce energy costs by about $600 million and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, the amount generated by about 800,000 cars.

"Replacing all the nation's inefficient bulbs with energy-efficient ones will save as much electricity annually as that consumed by all the homes in Texas," said the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental group.

New standards

The new rule doesn't completely ban incandescent light bulbs but creates new standards for the bulbs, such as requiring 100-watt bulbs to be 25 percent more efficient. After that, similar changes will go into effect for 75-, 60- and 40-watt bulbs.

Some companies are designing new bulbs, but last year, General Electric shut the doors on its last major U.S. plant, in Virginia, that makes incandescent bulbs. Most compact fluorescents are made in Asia. Energy Department officials say traditional bulbs waste as much as 90 percent of their energy as heat. Officials say replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 13-watt compact fluorescent light bulb can save a household at least $30 in energy costs during the life of that bulb -- which can be 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb's. Many incandescent bulbs last 750 to 1,000 hours.

Fluorescent bulbs can cost more than $3 each; incandescent bulbs can cost as little as 35 cents each.

"Traditional incandescent bulbs are cheap and reliable," Barton said. "From the health insurance you're allowed to have, to the car you can drive, to the light bulbs you can buy, Washington is making too many decisions that are better left to you and your family."

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, is carrying the bill in the Senate. "Thomas Edison wouldn't be happy if he knew that Congress was essentially banning his invention," he has said.

But Kyle Pitsor, vice president of government relations for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, said requiring the change makes sense.

"The reality is that consumer preference already has been shifting away from incandescent products, with the market for standard household incandescent bulbs declining by 50 percent over the last five years or so," Pitsor said.

Health concerns

Some leaders say they are concerned about compact fluorescents because they contain mercury, a toxic metal linked to birth defects and behavioral disorders. The Environmental Protection Agency has said the average bulb has 4 to 5 milligrams of mercury, enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen.

No mercury is emitted while the bulbs are in use, but vapors can escape if a bulb is broken.

"Exposing our citizens to the harmful effects of the mercury contained in CFL light bulbs, which are being manufactured in China, is likely to pose a hazard for years to come," U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, has said.

Opponents of Barton's bill say there is too little mercury to be much of a concern.

"We understand concerns about mercury, but people are only exposed if the bulb breaks and the amount is one one-hundredth what you would find in an old-fashioned thermometer," Ronnie Kweller, spokeswoman for the Alliance to Save Energy, a Washington, D.C.-based energy independence organization, has said.

Energy savings

Barton is working to get a hearing on the bill scheduled in the House. The Senate version has been heard by the Energy and Resources Committee.

But many customers don't know that they may soon have to buy different light bulbs, said Alex Duran, a salesman at the Fort Worth Lighting Co.

"Most people who walk in here don't know about it," he said. But once employees tell them the changes that lie ahead, "they're not very happy. They blame the government for it."

Duran said that the store is receiving more shipments of compact fluorescents and that an increasing number of lighting fixtures are configured to hold the fluorescents.

"It does save a little more energy, but everyone grew up with incandescent light bulbs," Duran said. "They grew up with the natural light."

The Natural Resources Defense Council said it's time to change.

The bills to revoke the 2007 law "would push aside innovation, derail plans for new job-creating lighting factories and eliminate an estimated $10 billion in annual energy cost savings -- taking as much as $200 a year out of the checkbooks of every U.S. household," a council statement said.



Four posts below


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is very dismissive of "Earth Hour"

Juliar Says That A Carbon Tax Will Make The Ski Season Longer

We read:
"Julia Gillard has told Labor MPs to warn voters that a failure to back a carbon tax will lead to more bushfires and droughts as well as coastal inundation and shorter skiing seasons.


After she broke her promise not to legislate for a carbon tax, it became customary for many Australian conservatives to call Prime Minister Julia Gillard "Juliar". I refrained from doing that on the grounds that a broken promise is not quite a lie. Now, however, she has done it: A barefaced lie that is not even plausible.

Even if we accept as gospel every word that the Warmists say, there is no way any conceivable Australian legislation would have any perceptible effect on the world climate -- simply because Australia's carbon emissions are such a small fraction of the world total.

Those who have done the math generally come up with one hundredth of one degree or thereabouts as the effect on world temperature of the proposed legislation. And that microscopic change would have NO effect on the ski season or anything else

Influential Leftist says Green Party are "basket-weavers" and labels leader 'soapbox' Bob

RESOURCES Minister Martin Ferguson has attacked Labor's minority government partner the Greens as "basket-weavers" and taken a personal swipe at leader Bob Brown.

Mr Ferguson described the Greens leader as "soapbox Bob Brown" and hit out at his politics over the minerals resource rent tax and the government's proposed carbon pricing regime.

The minister said Senator Brown's push for a more punitive tax regime on the resources sector was a short-term solution, and accused him of setting aside economic realities in a pitch for votes on carbon pricing.

The Gillard government has granted mining companies major concessions in its revamped mining tax, the details of which were finalised yesterday. But with the Coalition opposing the deal, Labor must win crossbench support to get it through parliament.

Mr Ferguson said the Greens' push for a tougher policy position on the mining tax would cripple investment and force it offshore.

"Of course we're going to have people jumping up and down and soapbox Bob Brown, in terms of (saying) it's never enough in terms of taxation," he told ABC radio.

"Do you put in place a taxation system which means for a short term period you get a huge jump in taxation, but you stifle investment because capital is footloose and (there are) plenty of opportunities in places such as Africa? They're the choices companies make."

Mr Ferguson said if the government's mining tax was not supported in the parliament then "Bob Brown better start explaining to the Australian community, as should Tony Abbott, how you're going to actually get the revenue to cut company taxation, how you're going to get the revenue to assist small business".

He also attacked the Greens for engaging in populism over the government's proposed carbon tax, suggesting they were living in a fantasy land where people had no jobs and weaved baskets under trees.

"It's easier again to play to the gallery and say we should have $60, $70, $80 per tonne, pull something out of the air and suggest it without actually modelling the potential implications on the Australian community, and the standard of living that we expect," he said.

"We can all sit under the tree and weave baskets with no jobs, if that's what some people in the NGOs and the Greens want."

He played down the government's political concession to credit mining companies for increases in state royalty payments under the MRRT, saying state leaders knew there were upper limits on how much royalties could be raised.

"I think (WA Premier) Colin Barnett understands, there is an absolute limit to how much he can take in terms of royalties. Yes, you can beat the drum and play to the gallery. He's done well in terms of the recent grants commission process," he said.

Mr Ferguson said the MRRT was a crucial reform to address the impacts of the nation's two-speed economy, which were evident even in Western Australia, where the state's tourism sector was unable to get sufficient workers because of the high wages on offer from the mining industry.


Experts undermine Australian government's climate policy

APART from settling on a carbon tax for five years as an interim measure before introducing a flexibly priced emissions trading scheme, the other big changes the Gillard government has sought to make to Kevin Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme have been to reframe climate change politics and rhetoric.

Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and Greg Combet have recast their own position and logic after deciding the former prime minister's advocacy of action on climate change as the "greatest moral and economic challenge of our time" relied too heavily on the moral and not enough on the economic.

As a result, much of the positive debate from the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Climate Change Minister has been framed in economic terms. The negative, emotional side of climate change politics is no longer just to run scare campaigns about rising water levels and killer storms but also to portray Tony Abbott as a climate change denier, an extremist and scaremonger.

Although Labor MPs are still being urged in their "talking points" to talk about the potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef, the Labor leaders are concentrating on economic arguments, compensation and the Opposition Leader's denial of a Liberal free-market tradition.

This approach is designed to appear reasonable in the face of "oddball" extremist opposition to a carbon tax to fight global warming and to reassure households and business that compensation will be financial and not just a warm feeling of self-satisfaction about saving the planet.

In the past week, Gillard, Swan and Combet have talked about generous tax cuts for middle and low-income earners, the Opposition's plan to rip away these tax cuts and a fundamental market-based reform to reduce carbon pollution.

Swan said on many occasions the Coalition did "not believe in the power of free markets any more" and Gillard accused Abbott of giving up the Liberal tradition of assisting good economic reform from opposition, while arguing Australia had to act on a carbon price or lose out to countries that were reforming their economies.

Yet three of the government's most senior advisers on the issue - economics professor Ross Garnaut, productivity commissioner Gary Banks and Climate Change Department chief Blair Comley - have expressed views that undermine the government's new argument on free markets, compensation share and international competitiveness.

Garnaut, whose suggestion of adopting the income tax cuts to compensate for carbon tax price rises as part of the Henry tax reforms was promoted by Gillard for days before Swan knocked it on the head yesterday, has suggested in his latest discussion paper that a greater part of the carbon tax revenue be used to develop renewable energy sources.

Garnaut's suggestion was pursued even more enthusiastically by the Greens, who suggested funding for renewables be increased four or fivefold. Given the cost of the Henry tax cuts for middle income earners and potential blowout in renewable energy funding from a finite revenue source, Swan killed off the tax cuts.

Although the government allowed Garnaut's tax-cut suggestion to run, it knew all along the cuts were unsustainable and actually pushed up the taxes of some middle-income earners.

As Swan said yesterday: "The two-tiered rate that was put forward in the Henry report . . . actually causes increases in taxation for some middle-income groups and some low-income earners. So I said that is not necessarily ideally the way to go." Thus, the bursting of the Garnaut thought bubble on Henry's tax cuts.

The Productivity Commission chief, who has been tasked to work out where Australia stands on a global scale as far as carbon reduction, trade competitiveness and economic efficiency are concerned, dealt an even harsher blow to government hopes of economic justification for a carbon tax.

As well, Banks undermined Gillard's claims about China's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by pointing out that countries took steps for economic efficiency that had the welcome by-product of reducing greenhouse gas emissions but that should not necessarily be counted towards a nation's efforts to cut carbon output. After an initial stumble on China's closing of coal-fired power stations, Gillard recovered to admit they were replacing them with more efficient coal-fired power stations but Banks's point undercuts the logic that Australia has to act to match China's actions.

More seriously for the government, Banks declared: "Crucially - and this point seems not to be widely understood - it will not be efficient from a global perspective (let alone a domestic one) for a carbon-intensive economy, such as ours, to abate as much as other countries that are less reliant on cheap, high-emission sources.

"It's common sense that achieving any given level of abatement is likely to be costlier in a country with a comparative advantage in fossil fuels," Banks said.

"An appropriate carbon price for Australia cannot be readily inferred from cross-country estimates of the abatement costs of existing schemes," he said. Banks has signalled his report is not going to be easy to complete nor will it contain the information and justifications many may hope.

And as Swan and Combet cited various sources backing their economic judgment on a carbon price as a free-market mechanism there was a sobering assessment from the head of the Climate Change Department sitting on the department's website.

In June last year, three weeks before Kevin Rudd was dumped - after dumping his own emissions trading scheme - the then deputy secretary of the department declared that "the key point I want to make is that carbon markets are regulatory interventions".

"At one level this is so obvious that it need not be said," the former senior Treasury official said, but he was struck by some comments about carbon markets that he wanted to correct. "The first is that carbon markets must be the right answer as it is a 'market' solution, often said in such a way as to imply that markets are naturally occurring beasts.

"Carbon markets may be the right answer, primarily due to the way in which they harness information and utilise decentralised processes, but they only continue to exist supported by institutions," Comley said.

The government may have given up on Rudd's moral imperative on a carbon price and embarked on an economic campaign, but the finite revenue from the carbon price and the huge and growing demands for a share, plus the increasingly wobbly arguments about overseas action and "free markets" suggests there's just as many hard yards ahead.



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1 comment:

Panta Rei said...

RE light bulb ban "not being a ban"..

Setting allowable standards on products is the same as banning any
product that does not meet those standards.

There is No Free Lunch:
Replacement (mains voltage) type Halogens are indeed a more energy efficient type of incandescent light, but they are nothing new: They have been available for some time, and consumers hardly buy them.

Because, not only do they still have some differences with ordinary simple incandescents, in construction, appearance and in the whiter light given out, but they also cost much more - the small energy/lifespan savings don't justify the much higher price, typically 5-8 times the price of a regular bulb.

But governments don't actually like Halogens either - any purchase increases makes a ban (even) more irrelevant in the stated aim to save energy
March 23 2011 announcement from the U.S. Energy Information Administration:
"As the standards start to take effect in 2012, the Annual Energy Outlook 2011 projects that CFLs and LEDs gain significant market share"
= No great Halogen uptake envisaged, then...

"The second tier of efficiency improvements becomes effective in 2020, essentially requiring general service bulbs to be as efficient as today's CFLs"
As in the EU, no future in America for current incandescents then, Halogen or not.

LEDs are not yet ready as general replacement bright omnidirectional lighting at a good price – which leaves CFLs.

For manufacturers,
it's all about making what is most profitable arising from the regulations - not what a government hopes they will consider making:
and since the cheap (and unprofitable) competition from regular bulbs has been wiped out, the door is opened for the "significant market share" of profitable CFLs - and indeed expensive replacement Halogens, while they are allowed - that people would not otherwise buy.

How manufacturers and vested interests have pushed for the ban on regular light bulbs,
and lobbied for CFL favors:
with documentation and copies of official communications