Friday, May 17, 2013

German Ministry Of Environment Identifies, Targets American And German Enemy Skeptics

The Stasi lives on

When you look at what’s going on in some of the world’s leading democracies today, with some institutions running rampantly out of control without oversight, we should not wonder why people in droves are losing faith and trust in government.

Government issues pamphlet identifying enemy skeptics

The latest example comes from the powerful German Ministry for Environment: Umweltbundesamt (UBA) with the release of its latest 123-page pamphlet titled: Und sie erwärmt sich doch…Was steckt hinter der Debatte um den Klimawandel (It is indeed warming…What’s behind the climate change debate?). In the brochure the UBA (Germany’s equivalent of the EPA) insists the climate catastrophe is coming, and appeals to the public not to listen to skeptics.

In fact, the German government pamphlet specifically singles out, identifies and targets US and German skeptics, portraying them as “spreaders of half-truths and misinformation“. Welcome to open and tolerant debate in the Federal Republic of Germany!

You’ll recall that the UBA are the ones who recently admitted being baffled by the 15-year global temperature stagnation that has taken hold.

Government makes it clear: climate debate not welcome!

Reading the pamphlet, it is clear that this is a one-sided, catastrophe-obsessed propaganda piece that advocates completely the alarmist side of the debate and outright dismisses and marginalizes the growing non-alarmist side. The pamphlet is truly a disservice to the German taxpayers and a mass deception of the public. The Greens and the Ministry of Environment, as you will see, are brazenly targeting specific individuals and organisations whose only “crime” is having a differing opinion. Skeptics are being viewed as a threat.

I can’t imagine how intimidated those named in the pamphlet (especially the German skeptics) must feel today. The full power of the German government has them in its sights.

Only alarmists are cited as honest sources

Just a look at the references cited at the back of the pamphlet on page 116 already tells the story. Sources cited include radical environmental groups Germanwatch, Greenpeace and, ultra-alarmist institutes like the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and dogmatic outlier scientists like Stefan Rahmstorf, Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, and Naomi Oreskes, just to name a few.

UBA has black list of American skeptics

According to the UBA, all the climate doubt stems mainly from the USA. Beginning on page 100, the UBA lists the Americans responsible for “spreading doubt and false information“, among them: ExxonMobil, Fred Singer, Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, Frederick Seitz, Joe Barton, Pat Michaels, John Christy, Ross McKitrick and the Heartland Institute. The UBA cites the Union of Concerned Scientists and a one-sided Die Zeit smear from November 2012 as its reliable sources for this information.

The name “Rahmstorf” appears throughout the pamphlet. One quickly gets the impression that the pamphlet stems from the German Ministry of Rahmstorf. Little wonder that when taken as a whole, the pamphlet is a huge public deception. Then again, misleading the public is nothing new for Professor Rahmstorf, for German readers, see here

On page 106, the UBA claims that the Climategate e-mails “were stolen”, as if by criminals.

The UBA endorses

On page 116, the UBA tells readers what it feels are reliable information sources of information on climate science. The German Ministry of Rahmstorf , of course, suggests Stefan Rahmstorf, who is ”an international renowned climate scientist who is often featured in up-to-date books, newspapers and television shows” against the “climate skeptical half truths and false reports“. The UBA also recommends Rahmstorf’s Internetblog Klima-Lounge and the Potsdam Institute.

Moreover, the UBA recommends the site of “a group of 11 American and European scientists, among them Stefan Rahmstorf and Michael Mann, RealClimate”. The UBA also suggests alarmist site Klimaretter.Info as a good source of all sorts of information.

Government black list of German skeptics

The UBA also tells us to whom not to go for information (the bad guys) and publicizes a sort of black list of skeptics. On page 110 it lists the “climate change skeptics in Germany“, which include the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE), Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Lüning, journalists and publicists Dirk Maxeiner and Michael Miersch, film-maker and publicist Günter Ederer, and newspaper Die Welt.

In government’s view, skeptics are crackpots

In a nutshell, here we have the German government informing the public which people to be on the look-out for. If this holds up legally, remains to be seen. It is not the job of the government to tell the public who the goods guys and bad guys are in a public debate.

In its closing statements, the UBA pamphlet writes (p. 113) that:

    - Parts of industry are financing campaigns to spread doubt and a false information over the results of climate science; the target is to fool the public;

    - Often scientists of foreign disciplines and without any knowledge of climate science appear in public with climate-skeptical claims.”

In the UBA’s view, those who publicly doubt the coming climate catastrophe are to be viewed as crackpots and industry hacks, and are thus to be ignored. The pamphlet reads like a declaration of war. I have a feeling that we have not heard the last of this story.


New paper suggests cosmic rays trigger lightning strikes

Cosmic rays are thought to have significant effects upon climate by increasing cloud formation and acting as amplifiers of solar activity [Svensmark's theory of cosmoclimatology]. A new paper may finally solve the mystery of what triggers lightening, finding cosmic rays interacting with water droplets within thunderclouds could play an important role in initiating lightning strikes. If confirmed, the finding could represent another mechanism by which tiny changes in solar activity can have amplified effects upon climate and weather via cosmic rays.

New insights into what triggers lightning

Cosmic rays interacting with water droplets within thunderclouds could play an important role in initiating lightning strikes. That is the claim of researchers in Russia, who have studied the radio signals emitted during thousands of lightning strikes. The work could provide new insights into how and why lightning occurs in the first place.

A cracking mystery

Although most people have witnessed a flash of lightning during a thunderstorm at some point in their lives, scientists still do not completely understand what triggers the discharge in the first place. Lightning has been studied for hundreds of years, yet while many possibilities for observation are available – there are about 40 to 50 lightning strikes per second across the globe – predicting the onset of a strike is difficult.

There are three basic types of lightning: lightning that occurs within a single cloud; lightning that occurs between two clouds; and lightning that occurs between a cloud and the Earth's surface.

In a typical cloud-to-ground lightning strike, scientists know that an electrically-conducting plasma channel forms between the cloud and the ground, which allows the discharge to occur.

However, the factors that cause the initial charging of the cloud and its subsequent discharge are not clearly understood.

Cosmic ray kick-off

Now, Aleksandr Gurevich of the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow and Anatoly Karashtin of the Radiophysical Research Institute in Nizhny Novgorod have suggested a new model that includes two crucial factors that could help explain the process: the behaviour of water or ice particles inside clouds, dubbed "hydrometeors"; and showers of ionized electrons that might be created by cosmic rays.

The theory that cosmic rays may cause the ionized showers that initiate lightning was first put forward by Gurevich more than 20 years ago. Known as "runaway breakdown", Gurevich suggested that the ionized particles create free electrons within thunderclouds that are then accelerated to extremely high energies by electric fields within the clouds. These electrons collide with other atoms in the air to cause an "avalanche" of high-energy particles within the cloud – and this provides the seed for the onset of lightning.

While the theory was widely discussed, Gurevich was not able to find proof that cosmic rays do indeed trigger the avalanche.

In a bid to gather more evidence, Gurevich and Karashtin have now done a new analysis using a radio interferometer of radio pulses emitted at the onset of 3800 lightning strikes across Russia and Kazakhstan. A long series of these short yet strong pulses is emitted just before lightning strikes and, according the researchers, the pulse data match Gurevich's model of electrical breakdown.

Pulses of information

The researchers also point out that the amplitude of a pulse is proportional to the number of secondary electrons, and so also to the energy of the initial cosmic ray that generates the shower. But when they calculated the cosmic-ray energy, Gurevich and Karashtin found it to be about 1017 eV – a surprising figure as cosmic rays of this energy are too rare to explain what was measured.

To explain why such high energies were observed, the researchers suggest that the hydrometeors they used become electrically polarized as the strong electric field inside the cloud builds up and that a further "micro-discharge" occurs at the hydrometeor as the field reaches its threshold, thereby effectively amplifying the cosmic-ray-initiated breakdown. When this is taken into consideration, then much more common cosmic-ray particles with energies of about 1012–1013 eV are sufficient to initialize a discharge.

Physicist and lightning expert Joseph Dwyer of the Florida Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the current research, said that the new model is "an interesting idea, but much more work is still needed, for example experiments to measure radio pulses and air showers at the same time", which is something that Dwyer and his colleagues are currently working on themselves.

Gurevich and Karashtin said that their observations show that the radio emissions are generated by the specific discharges in thunderclouds, which are different from the conventional electric discharges expected and that the “runaway breakdown” plays a significant role too. Further observations will be necessary to finally crack the mystery of the atmospheric crackle.

The research is published in Physical Review Letters.


Green energy 'folly will put £600 on bills': Annual charges to hit British living standards, says report

Britain's green energy ‘folly’ will cost every family an extra £600 a year by 2020, a report warned last night. The cost to consumers of green energy subsidies will exceed £16billion a year within seven years, according to a leading industry analyst.

Dr John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, warned that the huge burden on taxpayers could lead to the first long-term decline in living standards since the Industrial Revolution.

He estimates that a third of the £600 annual cost will land on energy bills.

The rest will be borne by businesses who will pass on the costs to consumers by charging higher prices for their goods.

In a report titled Are Green Times Just Around The Corner?, he said: ‘Shifting to current renewables for the bulk of our energy would result in a reversal of the long-run economic trend since the Industrial Revolution.

'More people would be working for lower wages in the energy sector, energy costs would rise, the economy would stagnate and there would also be a significant decline in people’s standard of living.’

He added: ‘The annual additional cost to consumers will be upwards of £16billion a year in 2020, which is over 1 per cent of current GDP.

‘One third of this cost would hit households directly through their electricity bills, regardless of income, making it an intensely regressive measure.

‘The remainder of the cost would be passed through from industrial and commercial customers and eventually be met by households from increases in the cost of living. The total impact would be in the order of £600 per household per year, assuming there are 26million households.’

Under EU laws, Britain’s energy consumption from renewables needs to reach 15 per cent by 2020 – one of the largest proportional increases in Europe. It is currently around 6 per cent.

Dr Constable said the Renewables Obligation – the amount customers pay on their fuel bills to fund green energy – currently costs consumers £2billion a year.

This will have to rise to almost £8billion to meet the targets, he said – costing an average family some £200 extra a year.

The Carbon Price Floor policy, which is a charge on businesses for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit, will cost an additional £1billion.

Experts say this will make  Britain’s firms uncompetitive and force them to pass on costs to consumers.

Additional charges to help fund wind farms are likely to add around £5billion a year, the report claims.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘With many families struggling to make ends meet in these tough economic times, taxpayers will be disgusted at how much of their cash is subsidising green energy.

‘Millions of people are worried about the cost of living, yet the Government’s own policies are making bills even more expensive for households up and down the country.

‘Ministers should be looking to reduce the burdens they are placing on people by scrapping expensive green taxes and subsidies which are unnecessarily pushing up our energy bills.’

Last night a Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: ‘We don’t recognise these numbers. The costs of renewables are coming down.

‘We’ve already cut the subsidies for onshore wind and solar and in future all green technologies will have to compete to deliver the best bang for the buck.

‘Renewable energy is helping support growth through jobs and investment.’


British Greenie doctor upsets mother

When Charlotte Comer went to her GP with a sore throat, she got more than she was expecting.

As well as being prescribed antibiotics for tonsillitis, the mother of two received an unwelcome lecture on family size.

Her doctor told her she would be ‘irresponsible’ if she had a third child, and went on to call for a limit on how many children couples can have, as happens in China.

Miss Comer said she was left ‘gobsmacked’ by the comments of Dr Justin Landen at the Hill Barton Surgery in Exeter, Devon.

The 21-year-old travel agent said she was leaving the surgery on Monday when Dr Landen questioned her about contraception and asked whether she wanted more children.

When she replied that she and her partner Lee Hook were thinking of having another child after they get married, the GP launched into a ‘lecture’ advocating a two-child limit on families, she said.

Miss Comer and Mr Hook, a 28-year-old courier, are parents to Harrison-Lee, two, and Freddie, 11 weeks.

The couple do not claim employment or housing benefits and Miss Comer is currently on maternity leave. ‘I was walking out with Freddie in my arms and he [Dr Landen] asked me if I wanted any more kids,’ she said. ‘I told him we were thinking of having another, but not until after we got married.

‘I started explaining that we both came from big families so we’d like more children but he said he didn’t think coming from big families justified having more children.

‘He then started talking about how the country is overpopulated and anyone who has more than two children is irresponsible. He started going on about how this country should be like China where people are allowed only one child.’ China’s one-child law has been used to control its booming population since 1979.

She added: ‘I was gobsmacked. I never cry, but as soon as I got out I just burst into tears. I was so angry.’

Miss Comer could not understand why the conversation was relevant to her visit but said Dr Landen told her it was his job to advise on such matters. ‘He started saying that in a few years’ time the Government wouldn’t be giving out benefits as much,’ she said. ‘I felt like I was being judged.

'I told him my partner works 70 hours a week as a courier and I am on maternity leave, and we weren’t on benefits.'

‘I don’t think he knew what to say to that, so he asked me why we would want more children if my partner works 70 hours a week and doesn’t have enough time with his children already. He used that as a reason for us not to have more children.’

She said Dr Landen, 43, contacted her after the appointment to apologise but she decided to lodge a  formal complaint.

‘All the way through he kept saying, “I’m a doctor, I have to give advice on things like this, it’s my job”.

‘I was shocked to be having this conversation. I went in for some antibiotics and came out with a lecture. It upset me, as I already feel judged, being young and having two children, but to get this from your doctor – there’s no way anyone should be spoken to like this.’

A statement issued through the NHS said Dr Landen issued ‘advice’ regarding contraception.

A spokesman said: ‘There was no intention whatsoever to cause offence or distress and Dr Landen apologises if this has upset his patient. Dr Landen’s priority as a GP is always to meet the health needs of his patients and at no point was this advice ill intended.’


Maiden speech of Viscount Ridley in the House of Lords

We have another Viscount among us.  And unlike Viscount Monckton, Matt Ridley DOES get to sit in the House of Lords

Listening to debates over the past few weeks, it has become clear to me that this is a House that not only respects but expects knowledge and expertise. This is something that my father made clear to me when he was enjoying a long and distinguished career in this House, but he would speak only on subjects that he knew something about—in his case, particularly the Territorial Army, the north-east of England and local government. When I spoke to the hustings a few weeks ago before being elected here, I said that if elected I would speak on three main issues: the north-east of England, science and technology, and enterprise and innovation.

I am here to fill the vacancy caused by the sad death of Lord Ferrers, and I pay tribute to that giant of a parliamentarian, who was on the Front Bench under no fewer than five Prime Ministers. I may hope to match his long legs but I do not expect to match his length of service.

I am that strange chimera—an elected hereditary Peer. As a result, I am acutely aware that I am here thanks at least as much to the efforts of my ancestors as to my own. I would not be human if I did not feel a smidgen of pride in being the ninth Matthew Ridley in direct succession to sit in one of the Houses of Parliament since the son of a buccaneering Newcastle coal merchant was elected to the other place in 1747. That brings me to the subject of my speech.

In 1713, exactly 300 years ago, the Newcomen steam engine was just coming into use all over the north of England. One of the very first was commissioned at Byker on the north bank of the Tyne by my buccaneering ancestor, Richard Ridley, in 1713. Within 20 years, more than 100 of these great clanking monsters were transforming the coal industry by pumping water from deep mines and vastly increasing productivity.

The effect of that innovation was momentous and global. By lowering the cost of energy and raising the wages of labour, it set in train a whole series of events, including the mechanisation of industry and the increase in demand for the products of that industry, and so the great flywheel of the industrial revolution began to turn. For the first time, an economy grew not through an increase in land or labour but through an increase in energy, because mineral energy from beneath the ground showed an unusual property that had not been shown by wood, wind and water or by oxen or people—that is, it did not show diminishing returns; the more of it you dug up, the cheaper it got.

At this point, I should like to declare an interest because I am still in the coal-mining business, albeit indirectly. However, my aim here is not to praise any particular kind of energy but to praise the cheapness of energy.

Today, an average British family uses as much energy as if it had 1,200 people in the back room on exercise bicycles pedalling away on eight-hour shifts. It is worth remembering that when people talk about how many jobs can be created in any particular sector of energy. We could create a lot more jobs by making energy on treadmills. What counts is not the jobs we create in producing energy but the jobs we create in consuming energy if we make it affordable—or, indeed, the number that could be lost if we make it unaffordable.

One reason why we in this country are falling behind the growth of the rest of the world is that in recent years we have had a policy of deliberately driving up the price of energy. To quote a recent report from the Institute of Directors:

“The UK’s energy and climate policies are adding more to industrial electricity prices than comparable programmes in competitor countries, putting UK industry at a disadvantage and making a rebalancing of the economy more difficult”.

Household energy costs have doubled in the past 15 years. In the US, where gas prices used to be the same as they are here, they are now one-quarter or one-fifth of the level here. That is an enormous competitive advantage to the US and a disadvantage to us. The chemical industry, as a result, is very keen to move to the United States, and other industries, including the cement industry, are feeling the pinch from high energy costs. Near where I live at Lynemouth on the north-east coast, the country’s largest aluminium smelter recently closed with the loss of 515 jobs, largely due to the rising cost of energy.

A nation can compete on the basis of cheap labour or cheap energy but if it has neither then it is likely to be in trouble. Surely these are not controversial remarks.


UK shale gas programme to 'accelerate', say ministers

Britain is on track to "accelerate” its shale gas programme, according to Michael Fallon, the energy minister, as he confirmed a new licensing round for oil and gas explorers will take place next year.

The Government will next year launch the UK’s 14th onshore licensing round, he said, announcing that engineering consultancy AMEC has been hired to do the environmental assessment of plots' suitability for exploration.

The last such licensing round closed in February 2008, meaning this will be the first to take place since the shale gas revolution in the US, which has been at the forefront of the drive to extract methane gas trapped in layers of shale rock.

Under each licensing round, companies take the first step towards developing land for oil or gas extraction, although they would need to get further permissions to carry out work such as fracking – hydraulic fracturing – to release shale gas.

“The Government is creating the right framework to accelerate shale gas development in a responsible way,” Mr Fallon said. “We announced fracking could resume with robust regulation last December and there is nothing now stopping licensees from bringing on new drilling plans.

“It is up to licensees to come forward with plans to explore the shale potential, engaging with local communities and gaining the necessary planning permissions and permits.”

More than 330 licences for the onshore exploration and exploitation of energy sources both conventional and unconventional – such as shale gas – have already been issued in the UK.

Considerable interest is expected under the coming round, as companies look to explore the potential for fracking in the UK, with the Government appearing keen to harness the economic benefits.

Opponents of the process, which involves using a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to fracture rock, allowing the gas or oil trapped within to flow out, worry about the environmental impact and upset to residents in affected areas. Tremors related to fracking activity near Blackpool led to initial work being halted.

“Shale gas has great potential and we have the right regulation in place so the UK benefits as quickly as possible in terms of energy security, investment and jobs,” Mr Fallon said. “But development must be done in partnership with communities. We are working hard with industry on a package of community benefits and to ensure that their concerns are properly met.”

Mr Fallon was speaking at the first meeting of the new All Party Parliamentary Group for Unconventional Gas & Oil (APPG) in the House of Commons, a forum to discuss unconventional oil and gas exploration and development, and its impact.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


1 comment:

slktac said...

I'm surprised the doctor didn't also demand the woman go in for weight counseling for herself and her children. Surely that would have been more important than a lecture on "no more kids". Politically correct, also.