Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Trees Before Poverty at Durban

New Report Reveals World Bank Forestry Scheme Ignored Deforestation Emissions Data; Donor Aid Money Being Misused

A new report by World Growth released today in the lead up to the Durban climate talks reveals how the World Bank ignored a report it commissioned that indicated forestry from tropical developing countries could account for as low as 6 percent of all global emissions; yet, the Bank continues using donor aid money amounting to US$4 billion from countries like the United States, Australia and others to pursue a forest and climate policy strategy based on the overstated figure that forestry accounts for 17 percent of global emissions. We call upon World Bank President Robert Zoellick to undertake an urgent blue-ribbon panel review of the Bank’s forestry and climate strategy, and halt all activities while the review is underway.

World Growth Chairman Ambassador Alan Oxley released the following statement:
“The Bank’s strategy to reduce emissions by limiting forestry in developing countries is not working. This strategy is based on overstated data that corroborates with the Bank’s fashionable new agenda to reduce global emissions rather than its original stated mission to reduce poverty.

“The World Bank strategy to spend US$4 billion on claims that forestry in tropical developing countries generates 17 percent of global emissions is based on unproven information. The Bank has therefore wasted taxpayers’ money on a blatantly manipulated environmentalist agenda – this represents a disgraceful outcome for a formerly effective development agency that has now undermined its goal to alleviate poverty.

“This strategy – to co-opt select data in order to push an anti-forestry agenda – is part of a larger campaign by the World Bank. This week in Guatemala at the International Tropical Timber Organization’s (ITTO), the World Bank pushed for its preferred scheme to reduce emissions and restrict forest development – the Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme – a program that only serves to provide aid money to poor countries to restrict their own development.

“At the time of great uncertainty about the direction of the global economy, the World Bank should not be advocating climate change strategies that would retard, not support, expansion of economic growth in developing countries. Negotiators at the upcoming Durban Climate Summit should be cautioned against advancing skewed forestry emissions data to push for a global climate change agenda that’s increasingly not welcome in the developing world.”

World Growth is an international non-governmental organization established to expand the research, information, advocacy, and other resources to improve the economic conditions and living standards in developing and transitional countries. At World Growth, we embrace the age of globalization and the power of free trade to eradicate poverty and create jobs and opportunities. World Growth supports the production of palm oil and the use of forestry as a means to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. World Growth believes a robust cultivation of palm oil and forestry provides an effective means of environmental stewardship that can serve as the catalyst for increasing social and economic development.

For more information on World Growth, visit www.worldgrowth.org. To speak with World Growth's experts or find out more about its work, please email media@worldgrowth.org or call +1-866-467-7200.

Press release received via email

British wind turbines turned off when it's windy ... because high winds make them too noisy for nearby residents

You can't make stuff like this up

Wind turbines are being turned off during high winds because they are too noisy. Documents from local authorities show that 269 complaints were received about noise from the rotating blades in the past three years. Some came from residents living up to three miles away.

In nearly half of these cases, operators switched turbines off or reduced their speed. The owner of one wind farm in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was served with a noise abatement notice.

At Askam wind farm near Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, a control system was installed to turn the seven turbines off at high wind speeds.

Council officers found 12 turbines on a former RAF base in Lissett, near Bridlington in East Yorkshire, had exceeded noise limits after complaints from residents. They arranged with the operators for some to turn more slowly. Similar action was taken following complaints about turbines in Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire and Skelmonae in Aberdeenshire.

A quarter of the complaints were related to small wind turbines which can be fitted on to homes, schools and hospitals. But the rest involved large turbines which can be more than 400ft high.

One in six large wind farms built since 2008 have attracted noise complaints, with residents reporting that humming sounds disrupt their sleep. Locals near a 22-turbine farm in Fullabrook, Devon, said the noise was like a tumble dryer.

A 2009 study of people living close to wind farms in Britain, the U.S., Italy, Ireland and Canada found they caused stress and could increase the risk of heart disease, panic attacks and migraines.

A spokesman for Renewables UK, which represents the industry, said: ‘Wind farm operators strive to be good neighbours and are conscientious in responding to local concerns.’


The Duke of Edinburgh has said just what we’re all thinking about Britain's disgraceful wind farms

By Clive Aslet (Clive Aslet is Editor at Large of 'Country Life’)

You have to hand it to the Duke of Edinburgh. At 90, he is still as incisive as ever. Once again, the Royal family has articulated what ordinary people, without the ear of the media, have long felt. His son might have called the wind farms that are besmirching our mountains and waving their giant arms inanely out at sea “a monstrous carbuncle”. Prince Philip chose “disgrace”. So they are. The politicians who foisted them upon us should be put in the stocks.

Wind farms are Blairism incarnate. Wanting to look big on the international stage, he committed Britain to some preposterously over-ambitious targets for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. As ever, this was glittering, shop-window stuff, the bill for which would somehow be obfuscated by the dour Scot in accounts. After due nail-biting, Brown came up with a system so convoluted that most people have only just realised that the person who ultimately pays is the consumer.

We are all generously subsidising the wind farms which many of us hate through our electricity bills. Why? Because unlike other forms of renewable energy, which would have required the Treasury to build huge civil engineering projects, the cost could be met through a trade in Renewable Obligations Certificates (ROCs). It works like this. Power companies are required by law to provide a proportion of green energy and if they don’t meet the target, they are fined. But they can avoid the fine if they buy-in green energy credits, which are traded in the shape of ROCs.

The money from selling ROCs is far more attractive to the wind farm speculators than the value of the energy itself. The power companies simply pass on the cost to the poor sap who buys their electricity. It’s Machiavellian. Worse, it’s Brownian — and, as the Duke says, a disgrace. But from the Blairite shallows, it was much better than having to confront a decision that might have incurred short-term unpopularity, but is all but inevitable for our future energy security: the building of more nuclear power stations.

Of course, in the boom times, when the economy was growing, this green indulgence might have been like that extra chocolate you shouldn’t have; nobody would notice it when the suit had been let out. We have now found that the waist band isn’t infinitely elastic. But just as belts are being tightened, green energy has bloated our bills by, as Lord Marland from the Department of Energy and Climate Change revealed in the House of Lords last month, a whopping £7.1 billion. Think how many libraries that would keep open. It is due to get worse. According to the Renewable Energy Foundation, whose sums have so far proved accurate, that figure will have risen to some £40 billion by 2020 — that’s between £6 billion and £8 billion a year; nearly all of it taken by wind.

I’m not the first person to have noticed that wind farms only generate electricity when the wind is blowing. On a freezing day, when the country turns up its electric blanket, the ear hearkens to what Robert Bridges called “the stillness of the solemn air”. No wind. However many turbines bristle on Welsh mountain tops or pylons stride through the Great Glen, we’ll only be tickling the nose of our energy crisis. We’re missing those targets to reduce emissions by a country mile. Yet as the winter progresses, life for some of the poorest members of society will become more difficult because of it. Food and fuel are going up in price, fuel by more than it need do because of those wretched wind farms.

We all know about David Cameron’s green instincts: he paraded them before the election as part of the campaign to convince voters that the Tories weren’t simply driven by the bottom line. He even put a windmill on his London chimney, even though there is not enough wind in cities. Now he should go and see that Meryl Streep film, and remind himself of the great lesson that Mrs Thatcher taught us: subsidies for industry don’t work.

We need more research into renewables, to find technologies that will work. But no form of green energy except nuclear is ready to take over from present sources of production. As fossil fuel prices rise, entrepreneurs will find ways of producing energy more cheaply. Wind farms are the modern British Leyland; the Government tried to pick a winner, but picked wrong.

Throw them out. Throw out the windmonger in chief, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, and leave it to the money men. Green MP Caroline Lucas may instinctively defend the interests of people rich enough to put solar panels on their roofs against those of the lowly consumers who have to pay to subsidise them, but the Treasury is, quite rightly, reducing the feed-in tariff for solar panels.

Less attention has been attracted by the intention to reduce subsidies for wind. Not by very much, mind you, and not by enough; but sufficient to send a signal to would-be investors that this rash, fierce blaze of riot cannot last. We can’t go on wrecking the landscape and spending money we don’t have. As the Admiral would have said in Mary Poppins, heavy weather is brewing for wind farms. It can’t arrive a moment too soon.


Private property is the solution

What to do about certain environmental problems is the great question of our age. It's obvious that, steering clear of contentious matters like the atmosphere, that we're driving some ecosystems entirely into extinction. How to stop this, how to solve these sorts of problems, is something we really ought to be concentrating on. And as it turns out, private property rights are indeed, for some subset of these problems, that very answer.

Take fishing for example: we're vacuuming everything edible out of the seas at present and we're really not going to be able to do that much longer. The current bureaucratic methods of trying to control this aren't working: we're still vacuuming just about everything edible out of the oceans. Which is what makes this story so interesting.

Chesapeake Bay is that huge squiggle on the map, running some 200 miles south from Washington DC in between Maryland and Virginia. It's also long been the source of bounteous harvests of oysters (my own immediately post-school teenage years were spent opening such delights for restaurant patrons in the area). However, the legal regimes on each side have been completely different. On the Maryland side, only the "hunting" of wild stock was allowed, on the Virginia the leasing of seabed and planting then harvesting.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to find out that Virginia produces vast numbers of fat oysters and has similarly vast numbers still in the water. Maryland has been pretty much fished out.

We really do need to take note of where fisheries are abundant and where they're not and then copy the management methods of the abundant ones: the Alaskan halibut fishery, the Icelandic and Faroese general fisheries, the New Zealand Orange Roughy. These are the places which have granted private property rights to fishermen and which as a result have waters still teeming with fish.

In effect, we've got to stop fisheries operating on hunter gatherer economics and move them over to working on farming such.


Secretary Chu’s ‘Clean Energy Race’ Blather

There simply is no green energy race with China. No one needs the product.

The House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee grilled Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu for four hours yesterday about his role in approving and managing a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra. The solar technology company — celebrated by President Obama and other top administration officials as a “green jobs” and Stimulus success story in 2009 and 2010 — closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2011.

Yesterday’s hearing was part of a nine-month investigation. The Committee reviewed 186,000 pages of documents from DOE, 10,000 pages from the White House, and another 1,000 from Treasury. Oversight Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and other GOP Members charge that Obama officials rushed the Solyndra loan out the door without due diligence, ignored the company’s significant financial problems, and illegally gave investors first dibs over taxpayers in collecting $75 million loaned to the company in early 2011.

The Committee developed this case in several briefing memos (Sep. 12, Sep. 23, Oct. 12, Nov. 17) and published collections of supporting emails and documentation (here, here, here). Allegations — as yet unproven — have also been raised claiming the DOE loan and taxpayer subordination were political payoffs to George Kaiser, a big-time bundler for Obama’s presidential campaign who was also a major investor in Solyndra.

As expected, Chu denied that DOE officials acted incompetently or improperly, or that politics intruded in any of the decisions DOE made in reviewing, approving, and restructuring the Solyndra loan. However, Chu had so little to say about specific emails, most of which he had not seen until published by the Committee, that he came across as a man out of the loop at his own agency.

Chu probably failed to persuade any Republican on the Committee that Solyndra was just a good bet gone sour. On the other hand, GOP Committee members did not produce smoking-gun evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Chu’s written testimony — barely three pages long — recycled his customary spiel about the promise and peril of the global “clean energy race.” The argument has become a staple of green rhetoric: China is spending billions subsidizing its clean tech sector, if we don’t “invest” in “our” clean tech firms America will lose the race and China will “eat our lunch.”

Talk of a clean energy race harkens to the “space race” and “arms race” of the Cold War era. But although those races had economic spinoffs, they were first and foremost geopolitical, not commercial. Renewable energy advocates now try to recreate a Cold War sense of drama about companies like Solyndra. Nukes and missiles had an obvious potential to affect the outcome of a global power struggle. But wind turbines and solar panels?

The global marketplace comprises countless races, because each firm typically faces competition from many others. Dannon, Yoplait, General Mills, Kraft Foods, and Chobani, for example, are engaged in a global yogurt race, and by all accounts “we” (General Mills, Kraft) are losing. Yet you probably won’t read about the yogurt race in the Washington Post.

Chu has probably done more than any other official to popularize the notion of a clean energy race. A testimony he gave in November 2009 offers a more complete explanation than the one he gave yesterday.

Chu argued that the world would need to invest $2.1 trillion in wind turbines and $1.5 trillion in solar panels to meet global emission reduction targets. Thus, to his mind: “The only question is … who will invent, manufacture, and export these clean technologies and which countries will become dependent on foreign products.”

Chu warned that China was investing “about $9 billion a month on clean energy” and lamented that America had “fallen behind” other countries in global market share, but said the Stimulus was helping U.S. firms make a comeback. However, he cautioned the only way to ensure our clean tech companies can compete is to put a steadily tightening “cap” on carbon emissions. “That critical step will drive investment decisions toward clean energy.”

This does not compute.

China does not cap carbon. China is fueling its development chiefly with coal, oil, and hydro-power, not wind and solar. Almost 80% of China’s electricity comes from coal, and China is investing billions in Canadian tar sands oil production. If China is both threat and model, won’t America fall further behind in the “economic growth race” if we wage political warfare on coal and block the Keystone XL Pipeline?

Be that as it may, from day one President Obama’s goal has been to make wind and solar power “the profitable kind of energy” by handicapping economically efficient power generation from coal and natural gas. Banking on this, Solyndra’s business plan assumed that Congress would pass the Waxman-Markey bill, with its carbon caps and renewable electricity mandates.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the clean energy future. One month after Chu’s 2009 testimony, the Copenhagen climate conference fizzled. In 2010, Senate leaders pulled the plug on a Waxman-Markey companion bill, and the November elections nailed the coffin shut on cap-and-trade.

By Chu’s (and Solyndra’s) logic, the clean energy race, predicated as it was on handicapping carbon-based energy, should be over. Nonetheless, we hear the same old, same old. China is pumping billions into wind and solar. If we don’t do the same, we’ll become dependent on Chinese products.

This is bad advice for three reasons.

First, the easiest and cheapest way not to become “dependent” on Chinese wind turbines and solar panels is not to shoot ourselves in the foot in the first place. The Chinese are selling to an artificial market, one created by European and U.S. policies mandating reliance on high-cost, intermittent electricity sources. Get rid of these Soviet-style production quota, and we won’t be tempted to buy Chinese products!

Second, we cannot beat China in catering to this ersatz market, and cannot afford to do so even if we could.

As my colleague Chris Horner points out, America’s strength is innovation but China’s is mass production. Chinese solar panels are not more innovative than Solyndra’s — quite the contrary. But China, with its cheap labor, coal-based power, and a government free to fleece consumers and taxpayers for the benefit of favored producers (they’re communists, after all), will always be able to undersell competitors in a market where what really counts is not satisfying non-coerced customers but simply meeting politically imposed quota.

To suppose that we can subsidize our way to a level playing field is to forget that Beijing is flush with cash and Washington is broke.

Third, even China’s profits may turn into losses, because the renewable energy market looks like a bubble about to burst. As CCNet’s Benny Peiser reports, the recession and sovereign debt crisis are putting pressure on governments to scale back green energy subsidies. Spain’s Industry Ministry announced it intends to cut the feed-in tariff for wind turbines by 40%. Britain too may cut subsidies for wind farms and household solar panels. Japan, worried about the billions it is paying other countries for carbon credits, is reconsidering its commitment to cut carbon dioxide emissions 25% by 2020. Even the European Union acknowledges a “trade-off between climate change policies and competitiveness,” and is questioning whether it should press ahead with decarbonization if other countries don’t follow suit.

China is to our times what Japan was to the 1980s — an economic rival that supposedly proves the superiority of politically directed industrial policy to free markets. But Japan, Inc. turned out to be a bubble economy, with the booming 1980s followed by the “lost decade” of the 1990s.

In August, China instituted a feed-in tariff program to offset declining demand as large buyers such as Germany and Italy shrunk their subsidies for solar panels. The feed-in tariff may be enough to keep the bubble inflated, but it too is a subsidy. And subsidies consume wealth, they do not create it.


Poisoner targets birds in Australian city

The story below is extremely unpleasant but is entirely predictable. Despite nuisance birds like crows and magpies not being remotely "endangered species" they are protected by law. So people cannot shoot ones that are a particular nuisance and the government almost never does anything to remove them. So where the law fails people you have got to expect somebody to become so fed up that they take their own measures. And inevitably those measures will be crude

IT'S a murder of crows . . . and magpies and seabirds. The hunt continues for an elusive bird killer in greater Brisbane's bayside. The killer has been stalking the streets of Cleveland in Redland City, poisoning prey with chemical-laced meat.

The entire local magpie population may now have been successfully wiped out.

The stealthy perpetrator is believed to be responsible for the poisoning death of 68 birds, including 50 magpies and 16 crows, in the central business district.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said he was shocked by the scale of the poisoning campaign, which was the worst he had seen. "I've not seen anything on this scale," Mr Beatty said. "There are lots of cases where a few birds have been poisoned but not an ongoing campaign like this and certainly not on this scale."

Scores of dead or paralysed birds have been found on green spaces within blocks of each other on Bloomfield, Doig and Waterloo streets and Taylor Cres. Another two dead birds turned up last week.

Sample testing has shown the presence of an organophosphate chemical that is particularly toxic to birds.

However, almost five months of investigations and a public information campaign has failed to uncover any tangible leads.

Pelican Seabird Rescue vice-president Natalie Forrest, who is caring for five surviving magpies, said she was sickened by the parade of carcasses that also included a black-faced cuckoo shrike, a flying fox and a mouse.

"It's totally unnecessary and very cruel," Ms Forrest said. "It's an absolutely terrible sort of cruelty and I would like to see the offender found and punished appropriately. I have never seen anything like it. "Yes we have seen poisoning but it's usually a one-off event. This has been very deliberate now for six months."

The first poisoned birds began appearing in June, but the number of cases then dropped off again until last month when more dead birds began turning up.

If found, the killer could face a fine of up to $100,000 or two years in jail, depending on the relevant law.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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