Saturday, May 19, 2012

Only global poverty can save the planet, insists WWF - and the ESA!

Windfarms for all, but without using steel or concrete (?)

Analysis Extremist green campaigning group WWF - endorsed by no less a body than the European Space Agency - has stated that economic growth should be abandoned, that citizens of the world's wealthy nations should prepare for poverty and that all the human race's energy should be produced as renewable electricity within 38 years from now.

Most astonishingly of all, the green hardliners demand that the enormous numbers of wind farms, tidal barriers and solar powerplants required under their plans should somehow be built while at the same time severely rationing supplies of concrete, steel, copper and glass.

The WWF presents these demands in its just-issued Living Planet Report for 2012. It's a remarkable document, not least for the fact that it is formally endorsed for the first time by the European Space Agency (ESA) - an organisation which would cease to exist in any meaningful form if the document's recommendations were to be carried out.

The report is also unusual in that it seeks to set policy on economics and energy, but doesn't anywhere give any figures expressed in units of energy (watt-hours, joules etc) or currency (dollars, euros or what have you). Instead the WWF activists prefer to base their argument on various indices invented either by themselves or by other international non- or quasi-governmental organisations.

For instance one key figure used in the report is the Living Planet Index, invented by the WWF, which apparently shows "trends in the overall state of global biodiversity".

It does this by examining the number of individuals (or sometimes pairs) in various local populations of 2,688 selected species - of vertebrates only. Every two years WWF changes what species and populations are included, in large numbers: and anyone would acknowledge that a limited, localised picture of a couple of thousand vertebrate-only species is an utterly minuscule, extremely selective pinpoint on the picture of all the Earth's life.

Nonetheless WWF think that their LPI number offers conclusive proof that "biodiversity has decreased globally".

This is bad, because:

* Biodiversity is vital for human health and livelihoods ...

* All human activities make use of ecosystem services – but can also put pressure on the biodiversity that supports these systems.

If that's not enough for you, the document is liberally spattered with case studies showing how various animal populations have plunged. For instance there are now many fewer wild tigers than there were in 1970, which is plainly a bad thing for human health and livelihoods.

The report then assumes that global resources in general are limited, which is easily achieved by measuring them in terms of "biocapacity" expressed in hectares of Earth surface, and further stipulating that no resources can come from beyond Earth (which seems an odd idea for a major space agency to endorse, but there). WWF goes on to assign numbers showing how much of these hectare-resources everyone is using, their "ecological footprint".

In these terms, the only people on Earth who are living within their means are those in the poorest nations - their "footprint" exactly matches the "biocapacity" in their countries (doubtless a coincidence) offering a picture of the sort of life all human beings could aspire to in a WWF-run world. Middle-income nations use more "biocapacity" than they actually have, and high-income ones - all the ones where you as a Register reader are most likely to live - use nearly twice as many eco-resources as they produce.

What does this mean?

* The Earth’s natural capital – biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services – is limited ...

* Human demands on the planet exceed supply.

The WWF eco-nomists also argue that human beings actually don't - or anyway, shouldn't - want to get richer, as people getting rich means economic growth and that (regardless of what all world governments and almost all economists think, especially right now) is a Bad Thing as it leads to consumer demand which leads to resources and energy being used.

"We need to measure success beyond GDP," says WWF, an argument they've made before. In particular the organisation argues that "human development" or the still-flakier metric "inequality adjusted human development" is a far better one than GDP per capita. (One may note that under the normal HDI (Human Development Index) it is better to live in Ireland, Hong Kong, Israel, Korea, Slovenia, Spain, Italy or the Czech Republic than in the UK.)

As the green hardliners note:

* In countries with a low level of development, [HDI] development level is independent of per capita [ecological] Footprint.

* As development increases beyond a certain level, so does per person Footprint — eventually to the point where small gains in development come at the cost of very large Footprint increases.

Or, paraphrased, provided that development and consumption are both miserably low, you can achieve some development without noticeably increasing consumption. Of course only a cynic would suggest that the very design of the "human development" index - whether adjusted for inequality or not - ensures that there will come a point where only tiny increases in development can be achieved no matter the resources used. This is because the Human Development is on a scale from zero to 1, with 1 being unachievable.

It's not just resources that are limited, in the WWF's view: human potential itself is up against a hard limit beyond which the race cannot ever advance. Even progress thus far, as seen in the wealthy nations, has been achieved only by an unfair and wasteful over-use of precious resources: we rich Westerners are already beyond the practical limits that humans should ever aspire to achieve in terms of health, wealth - and even of education.

That's not economics - that's religion. And not very nice religion either.

All this is followed up with some standard rehashing of the standard carbon-driven apocalypse arguments, so setting the stage for WWF's policy agenda. Some of it is relatively uncontroversial: creation of nature reserves, efforts to control overfishing, efforts to ease deforestation.

But then we get onto the big stuff. First up, there must be an "immediate focus" on "drastically shrinking the ecological footprint of high income populations".

That means you, Reg reader: you are to accept a massively lower standard of living, in order to reduce your "footprint" to match your nation's "biocapacity". Then you'll have to take another cut, because your nation - being rich - has more "biocapacity" than a poor country does (despite their claim that planetary resources are finite, WWF acknowledges that new "biocapacity" can be created in the form of cropland, forests etc), but this should be shared with the poorer lands under "equitable resource governance".

That means less heating when it's cold - no cooling at all, probably, when it's hot. It means sharply limited hot water: so dirtier clothes, dirtier bedding and a dirtier you - which will be nice as you will also have to live in a smaller home and travel almost exclusively on crowded buses or trains along with similar smelly fellow eco-citizens. Food will be scarcer and realistically much less nutritious (milk for kids will be a luxury, let alone meat, fruit, coffee, that sort of stuff. Get ready to eat a lot of turnips, if you're a Brit.)


Environmentalism and the Decline of the West

A major contributor to our current societal malaise has been a tendency to moral crusades which have only exacerbated the problems they were intended to fix while generating an ongoing residue of collateral damage, unintended consequences, bureaucracy and repression. Over the past century major initiatives of this nature have included prohibition, the war on drugs, the war on terror and repeated efforts to impose or repress various political ideologies.

Although all these efforts have inflicted great suffering and socio-economic damage, probably none have resulted in such ongoing, widespread and ever increasing detriment as has environmentalism. While the benefits of cleaner air and water have been apparent and undeniable, the damage inflicted by misguided environmentalism has been largely unrecognised even though massively extensive and deleterious to human wellbeing.

This damage has included direct impacts and benefits prevented as well as the more indirect effects of repression and loss of freedom and opportunity:

Some Direct Damages of Misguided Environmentalism

* Tens of millions of deaths and debilitating infections by malaria which could have been prevented by indoor use of DDT with minimal environmental impact.

* Destruction of millions of Ha of rainforest to grow biofuels for an immeasurably trivial reduction in CO2 emissions.

* It has been estimated that as many as 20 million people have been robbed of their lands and forced into poverty as conservations refugees. After millennia of harmonious co-existence with their natural environment they have been driven out to “protect” it.

* Even in developed countries multitudes of honest, productive families of small farmers, stockmen and fishermen have also been stripped of a long standing sustainable livelihood to pander to the uninformed notions of green urbanites.

* In recent years significant increases in food prices have resulted from large areas of land being removed from food production in order to grow uneconomic subsidised biofuels. In addition food production has suffered from reductions in water rights, prohibition of native vegetation clearance, expansion of parks along with myriad environmental restrictions and demands that reduce productivity or increase cost with little or no actual environmental benefit. A further direct consequence has been an increase in malnutrition, especially in underdeveloped countries dependent on staple food imports. This affects tens of millions of people and the trend is getting worse not better.

* One of the more serious effects of misguided environmentalism has also been the corruption of science. This is resulting in a marked dulling of our most effective tool for informed decision making at a time when it is needed more than ever to deal with an increasingly complex world. In the environmental sciences repeated exposures of junk science and concerted scientific misconduct along with exaggerated predictions which fail their reality test have damaged public trust in all science. Lavish funding for agenda driven junk science has also resulted in a virtual abandonment of sound basic research in favour of research aimed at promoting the existence of purported threats.

Benefits Denied through Environmentalism

* Ignorance and ill-founded fears about genetically modified crops has prevented their introduction in many places. While reasonable prudence is warranted in the adoption of this powerful technology, its blanket prohibition is unwarranted by extensive experience as well as our best scientific understanding. The benefits of increased production, disease resistance, and nutritional improvements as well as the reduced use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are huge. They amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year in addition to more and better food for billions of people.

* Unbelievably the GMO hysteria has extended even to the rejection of food aid in a famine in Africa because of concerns about it possibly containing GM material. Apparently the eco-logic is that it is better to starve than to risk an undefined possibility of some unhealthy effect from eating GM food which is consumed by hundreds of millions of people elsewhere with no adverse consequences known.

* The energy from fossil fuels is the very foundation of modern society and its rising cost is now having a damaging economic impact on all developed economies. Despite its vital importance, however, increasing imposts, restrictions and liabilities have become a major impediment to production. It appears probable that we are headed for a severe energy crisis including some nations with large natural reserves such as the U.S. and Australia. Certainly the increasing cost of energy is already having a significant negative impact on the prosperity of millions of people even in the most prosperous nations.

* Although aquaculture has been highly successful in producing affordable high quality animal protein with minimal environmental detriment it has also become subject to increasing restrictions, prohibitions and costs imposed on the basis of ill-founded environmental concerns. At the same time recent large scale clinical and epidemiological studies have found strong correlation between increased seafood consumption and significant health benefits. These encompass a broad spectrum of major disorders including cardiovascular diseases, a variety of immune related disorders and neurological development and functioning. There is strong indication that increased seafood consumption in most Western nations could save billions of dollars annually in health care costs along with a greatly improved quality of life for tens of millions of people. Although globally there is limited potential for further increasing production in wild caught fisheries, there is great potential for expanded aquaculture. The only real impediment is misguided environmentalism.

Repression and loss of freedom and opportunity imposed by environmentalism

* Hunting, fishing and camping for recreational and food supplementation purposes have long been healthy activities open to people of all ages and social classes. Over the past few decades, however, increasingly harsh, restrictive, complex and costly regulations enacted under the banner of environmental management have taken much of the fun as well as the affordability out of these activities.

* Strong property rights have been a core element of long standing in the development of Western democracies. A person’s home has been their castle and private property was indeed private. However, that is now history. The new eco-fascism is busy imposing myriad restrictions and demands regarding what one can, cannot and must do on one’s own land. Land ownership is becoming more a matter of onerous, ever increasing and arbitrary obligations than of any secure rights. Land holding is effectually in the process of being transformed into a new form of serfdom with the state as the true owner and the liege lord to whom all obligations must be paid and permissions sought.

* For millennia fishermen were among the freest of people, the industry was open to anyone and the price of entry was only time and effort. The ideal of fisheries management was to maximise the sustainable yield. Then came the development of academically trained office based eco-management conducted by experts in theoretical ideas about things they have never seen and about which little is actually known. Management claims have expanded to include the entire marine ecosystem with a focus on the maintenance of species diversity and community resiliency while protecting from an endless array of possible threats, all with an eye to erring on the side of precaution. The favourite tool has become the computer model which can be readily adjusted to provide any desired result, lends an aura of high tech certainty and is safely inaccessible to independent examination. The freedom to fish has been transformed into privatised, corporatized, tradable rights accompanied by blizzards of paperwork. The result has been a declining industry with ageing participants and no new generation coming on to replace them. The rights to the most valuable fisheries are all becoming the private property of corporations and investors to be fished by struggling share croppers who bear all the risk and effort but enjoy only a minority of the profit.

The inverse relation of environmentalism and productivity -

While concern for the environment has unquestionably resulted in valuable benefits from pollution reduction, preservation of nature and more sustainable utilisation of natural resources; it has also spawned the development of environmentalism as a malignant ideological offshoot with far less benign consequences. Environmentalism has become both a powerful political lever putting dangerous power in the hands of ignorance as well as a convenient cloak for sundry hidden agendas. That it has cost tens of millions of lives, hundreds of billions of dollars and had significant impacts on health, prosperity, freedom and enjoyment of life over much of the world is all too real even if still largely unrecognised.

In most developed nations a large majority of the population now dwell in cities and only a minority toil to produce the goods and services which support us all. For many urbanites in particular the environment has acquired a romantic, somewhat sacred, status. Though themselves voracious consumers, they are removed from the production that supplies their demands. Those who provide their needs tend to be seen as greedy exploiters and defilers of nature. Even more ironically, their own lifestyle has virtually annihilated the natural world in a small portion of the environment and that is where they choose to live.

Environmental delusions and deceptions -

The reality of a constant struggle for survival in a dynamic, ever changing, often harsh natural world has been replaced by a romantic notion of nature in a blissful state of harmony and balance, something pure and perfect where any detectable human influence is by definition a desecration. This sacred perspective of the environment manifests itself in language where fragile and delicate become almost mandatory adjectives in describing the natural world.

An unholy coalition of politicians, activists, bureaucrats, academics, and the media have found it profitable to feed into and use the urban eco-delusions for sundry other agendas. For the politicians it affords a cheap shop at green votes. For activists it’s campaigns that attract public attention and donations. For bureaucrats it’s increased authority and budgets. For academics it’s grants and recognition. For the media it’s the attention grabbing drama of threats and conflicts.

Like every effective propaganda machine environmentalism has created it’s own special terms of emotional index designed to trigger reflexive notions of good and evil. Terms such as sustainable, biodiversity, ecosystem-based management, ecologically sustainable development, modelled, precautionary, overexploited, threatened, endangered, deniers and even the very words environment and ecology have been co-opted and associated with desired connotations to serve as buzz words.

A peculiar adjunct of all this has been the enshrinement of an imaginary precautionary principle concocted to mandate that any suggestion of a detrimental environmental effect must be addressed with full measures to prevent it. Its formulation makes no reference to probability, cost, or risks and it offers a ready cloak for sundry other agendas. Logically it would even preclude itself as everything we do or don’t do entails risk, including precautionary measures themselves. Amazingly, this vacuous and pernicious piece of nonsense has even been written into the enabling legislation of various government agencies charged with various facets of environmental management.

To make matters worse, environmentalism has also become heavily infected with the intellectual malignancy of political correctness wherein certain attitudes, beliefs and perspectives are deemed to be so unarguably true and proper as to be beyond any questioning or critical examination. To attempt to do so is not simply to be mistaken. It is evidence of moral degeneration and wilful evil.

This then brings us to the mother of all environmental threats, Anthropogenic Global Warming (a.k.a. Climate Change). AGW has been the eco-saviour’s ultimate wet dream. In the short term it has afforded healthy portions of fame, fortune, authority and great righteousness. Further along it promises to save the world, punish unbelievers and bring about a fair, harmonious, balanced, sustainable restoration of Eden. The fact that all such dreams of ideal societies have had a 100% track record of failure is not even a consideration. To the faithful every time, this time is always different and each time the believers are certain they “know” the truth and surely couldn’t be wrong because it is confirmed by all their fellow believers and politically correct as well.


Britain's Energy Policy Is An Unmitigated Disaster

The cost of household energy has risen seven times faster than household income since 2004, according to a study.

The average household's annual energy bill of £1,252 now accounts for 11pc of a couple's basic state pension of £11,175 a year, the study by price comparison website found.

The cost of energy is now the top household worry for Britons (90pc), ahead of the rising cost of food (77pc) and mortgage payments (42pc). Almost a third of consumers (32pc) say that household energy is unaffordable in the UK, the poll found.

While the average UK household income has increased by 20pc from £32,812 in 2004 to £39,468 today, the average energy bill has risen by 140pc, according to uSwitch figures. Households were spending an average of £522 a year for their energy in 2004, but now pay £1,252 a year - 3.2pc of income or double the 1.6pc of eight years ago.

Britons now have an average of £297 of disposable income left each month after all essential household bills are paid.

The study found 83pc of people believe that rising energy bills have had an impact on their disposable income, with 17pc of these reporting that they no longer have any disposable income as a result and 27pc saying energy bills have reduced their disposable income dramatically.

Director of consumer policy at Ann Robinson said: "This is the cold reality facing households today; in less than 10 years our energy bills have rocketed by 140pc. The break-neck speed at which energy prices have sprinted upwards has caught many people unawares. Consumers are still playing catch-up.

"Energy now accounts for a significant slice of household income which is why the numbers rationing their energy use have risen so steeply in recent years. But going cold or without is a short-term and potentially harmful fix and not a long-term solution.

"The fact is that consumers can control how much they spend on energy by making their homes more energy-efficient and paying less for the energy they do use by moving to a competitively-priced energy plan.

"Those who are on a low income or benefits could even benefit from free insulation from their energy supplier, so it's always worth contacting them first to see what financial help you can get."


LOL! Shale gas boom threatens European renewables investments

Investments in renewable energy could be put on hold while European governments develop clear policies on shale gas, according to a biomass energy expert.

The prospect of increasing production of cheap shale gas in Europe has impacted investors’ forward planning, Chris Moore, CEO of MGT Power, a UK-based large-scale biomass developer, told a forest industry conference in London on Thursday.

Until clear policies emerge on whether countries will allow the exploitation of shale gas reserves, investments in biomass and other renewables might be put on hold, while investors whether better opportunities lie in shale gas than renewables.

“If anything, it’s going to cause a waiting period, and that’s bad for [renewable energy],” Moore told Pöyry’s Forest Industry: Challenges and Opportunities conference.

Currently, most shale gas operations are concentrated in the US, but deposits have been found in Europe and Asia, creating investment opportunities.

The UK government released a report in April backing shale gas extraction in the UK and is also planning to launch a new gas-fuelled power generation strategy this year.

“This is a clear signal to the market that we’re moving towards a higher [proportion of] gas generation”, which could put renewable energy under a lot of pressure, said Moore.

Investment firm F&C has said that shale gas is a “viable investment opportunity” in which UK pension funds will increasingly invest, predicting the industry will grow throughout Europe.

“You’re going to see a lot of question marks on renewables and their affordability,” said Moore.

However, he said “more expensive” renewable sectors, such as solar and wind, face a bigger challenge than biomass, should the shale gas industry expand significantly.


Gore targets Heartland Skeptic Conference With Billboard

Climate Depot Responds:

The New York Times is promoting a billboard sponsored by Al Gore's Climate Reality Project. The billboard asks: “Who to believe on climate? Heartland ... or EVERY National Scientific Academy in the world?”

The billboard is timed to counter Heartland Institute's 7th International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago from May 21-23. (Note: CFACT's Climate Depot is a co-sponsor of the conference and Climate Depot's Morano is a featured speaker.) Maggie L. Fox, chief executive of the Climate Reality Project, said the Gore billboard touting the National Scientific Academies was “a small reminder of who is really on the fringe.”

Climate Depot Response:

This claim that the alleged “consensus” is true because the governing boards of politically savvy National Academy of Sciences endorse UN IPCC like statements -- is pure politics.

Only two dozen or so governing board members of the academies of sciences votes on bland UN IPCC like statements. The governing boards are steeped in funding and the state sponsored science of the day. The full membership, ie., the rank and file scientists, do not get to vote on this statement and in many cases are completely unaware any such warmist statement has been released to the public by the governing board.

Many science organizations have been under munity by their skeptical rank-and-file member scientists for such warmist statements. See: Climate Revolt: World's Largest Science Group 'Startled' By Outpouring of Scientists Rejecting Man-Made Climate Fears! Clamor for Editor to Be Removed!

The governing boards of these organizations reflect the politically correct view of UN and Gore-inspired science and they refuse to allow a direct vote on the statemetns by their member scientists.

U.S. National Academy of Sciences Turns to Advocacy
In the case of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, it has morphed into a warmist climate advocacy group. NAS, under Ralph Cicerone, is dedicated to producing science that fits the man-made global warming narrative.

Gore would have us accept as “unbiased”, the science from the NAS under Cicerone, despite the fact that NAS took $6 million from Congress and lobbied for a cap-and-trade bill. See: National Research Council Chaired by Warmist Ralph Cicerone: Turned Org. into political advocacy group: $6 million NAS study used to lobby for climate bill

Despite the fact that Cicerone personally lobbied the for nations to reduce emissions at a UN conference. See: This is 'science'? NAS's Ralph Cicerone goes political -- Urges nations to reduce emissions at UN climate talks

Despite the fact the U.S. National Academy of Sciences views on man-made global warming are predetermined. See: MIT's Lindzen Slams: 'Ralph Cicerone of NAS/NRC is saying that regardless of evidence the answer is predetermined. If gov't wants carbon control, that is the answer that the Academies will provide'

More HERE (See the original for links)

Australian conservative leader rejects claim the carbon tax will have trivial impact

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has rejected claims he's "over-egged the pudding" with his warnings on the climate tax.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet yesterday said Australians would realise Mr Abbott had been scaremongering when the tax is implemented in July.

But Mr Abbott is standing by his claims, saying the more people know about the tax the less they like it.

"This is a gratuitous act of economic self-harm," he said at Flemington Markets in Sydney's west today.

"The carbon tax is socialism masquerading as environmentalism.

"The more the public see of the carbon tax, the less they like it.

"I think the public understand that compensation is for today, but the tax is forever and it's going to go up and up and up as time goes on."

From July 1, the Government will make less than 500 of Australia's biggest polluters pay an initial $23 for every tonne of carbon they put into the atmosphere.

This will be followed by a market-based emissions trading scheme in 2015.

The aim is to cut 160 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2020.



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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