Monday, January 31, 2005

Louis Hissink has just put up such a comprehensive debunking of Greenie myths that it would be superfluous of me to post anything today. Go read Louis. I may expand on some of the points he makes later.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


How serious scientists could have overlooked the obvious here is beyond me. I think it shows what ideologues many scientists are. See if you can spot the fallacy:

A toxic chemical used to prevent barnacles from clinging to ship hulls may cause deafness in marine mammals and could lead whales to beach themselves, Yale researchers say. The hearing loss would be the latest environmental hazard linked to TBT, a chemical already known to be harmful to some aquatic life. TBT is banned in many countries but is still widely used. Yale researchers based their theory on a study of guinea pigs, because mammals have similar ear structure.

Since many marine mammals use sonar to get around, "it's possible this could be contributing to whales and dolphins beaching and hitting ships," said Joseph Santos-Sacchi, professor of surgery and neurobiology at Yale School of Medicine. "I think it's a reasonable hypothesis that this could possibly be happening," said Theo Colborn, a senior fellow at the World Wildlife Fund who has studied TBT but was not involved in the Yale research. "It sounds very logical."

Many scientists also believe the beaching of whales occurs for non-chemical reasons - primarily the Navy's use of sonar. The Yale study will be published in the Biophysical Journal in March.

The generalization from guinea pigs to whales sure gives it away. In the ocean ANY chemical would be diluted away to NOTHING!

More here

Man-Made Global Warming Hoax

Global warming is a hoax, invented in 1988, that combines old myths including limits to growth, sustainability, the population growth time bomb, the depletion of resources, pollution, anti-Americanism and anti-corporate sentiment and, of all things, fear of an ice age. Those that espoused and supported the old myths have joined forced into a new group called "Environmentalists."

Most environmentalists have no technical or scientific credentials whatsoever. What they have are major news outlets ready and willing to publicize their every utterance regardless of whether or not they are backed up by scientific proof. Atmospheric science requires highly technical knowledge and skills, not possessed by the vast majority of the so-called environmentalists, who yet feel qualified to demand that human activity subjugate itself to the whims of their new deity, Mother Nature.

Environmentalists claim that the Earth's atmosphere is getting hotter. They claim that the polar icecaps and glaciers will melt and sea levels will rise over two hundred feet, flooding most coastal cities. They claim that many areas of the Earth will turn into deserts. They make all these claims but cannot substantiate them with real scientific evidence. Parts of the polar icecap and glaciers are melting but other areas of the polar icecaps and glaciers are thickening. The environmentalists base their "proof" of the existence of global warming on the melting areas but are strangely silent, even militant to the point of violence, if anyone mentions the areas that are thickening, and those thickening areas are many.

In the past, there have been many times when the global mean temperatures were warmer, sometimes much warmer and colder, much colder than they are now. Global mean temperatures are cyclical with the seasons but also with other normal cycles, as they have been for the entire history of the Earth. Scientific data from ice cores, tree rings and other indicators of global mean temperatures prove this. Human activity has never been the cause of these global temperature swings as the "global warming" advocates claim. If human activity was the cause, where were the SUVs, the power plants and industries in our historical past? They did not exist. If human activity was not the cause of these global temperature swings, what was?

The energy output of the Sun is far greater in one second than human activity could produce in a million years. The Earth rotates around the Sun. Its orbit is slightly elliptical. The energy reaching the Earth from the Sun varies slightly as the distance from the Sun to the Earth varies due to its elliptical orbit. The Sun activity increases and decreases with fluctuations in the solar flares emitted by the Sun. Differences in these fluctuation rates cause increases and decreases of solar energy hitting the Earth. This causes fluctuations in the global mean temperature of the Earth's atmosphere.

In 2004, the energy from massive solar flares bombarded the Earth with solar energy. This solar energy caused heating of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. Most of the energy of the solar flare eruptions dissipated into space. The amounts of energy ejected were massive, much greater than normal. Had the Earth received a full blast of the solar energy from one of the numerous flare eruptions in 2004, the consequences to life on Earth could have been disastrous. The higher than usual amounts of energy that struck the Earth's atmosphere did have their effects, however, including some heating of the atmosphere.

Then there is the eruption of volcanoes, such as Mt. St. Helens, ejecting dust and ash into the Earth's atmosphere. The amount of dust and ash in the atmosphere varies the amount of energy that can cause heating or cooling of the Earth's atmosphere. Volcanoes also eject the kind of compounds that environmentalists call greenhouse gases. A single eruption the size of the Mt. St. Helens eruption released more of these gases, dust and ash into the atmosphere than all such emissions by human activity since the beginning of recorded human history. And there are numerous volcanic eruptions yearly.

The oceans are also a major source of greenhouse gases, as are trees. Trees and other vegetation take in carbon dioxide and give off other gases such as methane, a major greenhouse gas, and a host of other compounds, many of which are also greenhouse gases. Decaying vegetation also gives off methane gas. Studies of smog in the Los Angeles basin indicate that over 90% of the smog is generated by the vegetation in the area. To aid in perpetuating the hoax, however, environmentalists, aided by major news media outlets, censored and suppressed this study.

Studies have shown that greenhouse gases produced by human activity accounts for around 1 percent of the gases in the atmosphere. The total elimination of human generated greenhouse gases would have a negligible effect on Earth's global mean atmospheric temperatures. The elimination of all U.S. gasoline powered vehicles would reduce worldwide "greenhouse" emissions by less than 0.2%." What would be the effect on global mean temperatures? None. Doubling of manmade greenhouse emissions above current levels would increase the global mean temperature by one degree Centigrade, which is within the normal range of temperature swings.

It is the fluctuations of the Earth's orbit around the sun, volcanic eruptions, the emission of gases by oceans and trees, all natural occurrences, that cause rises and declines in global mean temperatures, i.e., "global warming" and "global cooling," not human activity.

Satellite data taken over the past 25 years indicate no surface or atmospheric warming. If anything there has been a very slight cooling, on the order of 0.01 degree Centigrade.

Recently, astronomers have noticed a thinning of the polar icecaps on Mars. Is this "global warming, Mars style" and do Martian SUVs, power plants, and industries cause it? Hardly, but the "environmentalists" think so. Some even blame it on us here on Earth. Global warming IS a hoax. Those claiming that "global warming" is real have an agenda other than saving the planet from human activity.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, January 29, 2005


Using one tenth of one percent of the land is still too much for the never-happy Greenies

The Bush administration has approved oil and natural gas drilling on federal lands in the Otero Mesa in Mew Mexico, despite pleas from the state's governor and environmentalists to protect the desert grassland from energy exploration. The decision mirrors the White House's national energy plan to open more federal lands to drilling to boost domestic oil and gas supplies.

However, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who is a Democrat and served as U.S. energy secretary under President Bill Clinton, opposes vast drilling in the area and will fight the government's ruling. "I am very disappointed by the Bush administration's failure to respect New Mexico's position on oil and gas leasing in this precious, sensitive and world-renowned area," Richardson said.

The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said energy companies will be closely monitored and only 1,589 acres will be disturbed from well pads, roads and pipelines, which is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the area's total 2 million acres located in the south-central portion of New Mexico on the Texas border. Energy companies would have to replant disturbed areas with native desert plants before other tracts could be developed. "We have the science, the tools, and the will to ensure that the very limited amount of exploration and development allowed under this plan is accomplished under today's strict environmental and social standards," said Linda Rundell, State Director of the BLM in Santa Fe.

There will be only 141 exploratory wells drilled, resulting in up to 84 producing wells, at most, the BLM said. The agency will permanently protect almost 36,000 acres of grassland having the highest potential as habitat for the endangered Aplomado falcon, and drilling will not be allowed on a total of 124,000 acres.



I recently saw a newspaper ad that urged Canadians to take the "one-tonne challenge". Placed by the Government of Canada, the ad featured a picture of none other than Rick Mercer of the CBC's metric hour (22 minutes) fame, holding up a booklet published by the government entitled The One-Tonne Challenge. The ad and the booklet exhorts Canadians to reduce personal emissions of so-called greenhouse gasses by 20 percent per year or one-tonne per person and to "take action on climate change".

I find it interesting that it's no longer about "global warming" and that the newest bug-aboo is "climate change". I remember in the late 70s everyone was concerned about the coming ice age. Clearly no one has a real clue about what is happening to the earth's climate, although the liberal left wants to turn whatever it is into a morality play. It gives me cause to be suspicious of the agenda of those who would impose restrictive compacts, such as the Kyoto Accord on the world. No matter how I look at the treaty and no matter what the treaty purports to achieve, it still looks like a wealth redistribution scheme disguised as a plan to save us from ourselves.

There is so much confusing and contradictory information about climate change circulating today, that it is difficult to make sense of it. Quite frankly, the issue has become too politicized to be meaningful, with complex data being reduced to slogans such as the one currently being touted by the Government of Canada. Both sides of the argument are claiming the other side is lying. Recently John Kerry chided the "non-scientific, pseudo-scientific, anti-scientific nonsense emanating from the right wing". When couched in terms such as these by people like John Kerry, I am given to wonder what the real agenda might be.....

In the 1980s the United Nations formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to act as a clearinghouse for climate research on a worldwide basis. The trouble with that is that the same wonderful group of bureaucrats that brought us the "Iraqi oil for food" scandal runs the IPCC. Except in this case, instead of money and oil disappearing, we're finding that scientific research that contradicts the accepted orthodoxy about climate change somehow doesn't find its way into the public eye, or if it does, it's in a highly edited form to ensure it conforms.

The IPCC's 1990 report, which was its first, acknowledged that there was a great deal of concern that human influence might be responsible for climate change; there was no concrete evidence that this was indeed the case. The 1995 report issued by the IPCC did announce that there was now evidence that there was "a discernible human difference" on the world's climate. One problem: the scientists who worked on this report did not actually say that. What they did say was that they could not tell whether or not there was a discernible human influence on climate. The claim was added after the research was completed and the conclusions were changed by the bureaucrats at the IPCC to conform to their agenda.

All the accepted dogma regarding climate change appears to be flawed in some manner. In his excellent new book State of Fear, Michael Crichton explodes a lot of myths, which many of us tend to accept as gospel. For instance, the idea that ocean levels are rising at an unprecedented level is total hogwash. According to research quoted by Crichton sea levels are rising, but at no faster rate than they have been for the past six thousand years. The rise is miniscule, no more than six to eight inches every century. Additionally, recent trends indicate that sea levels are increasing at a much slower level than they have in the past.

Some members of the scientific community have expressed concerns about glaciers melting. And while indeed there are a number of glaciers that appear to be melting, some are actually increasing in size. There are some 160,000 glaciers in the world today with about two-thirds of them inventoried (497 in California alone). The mass balance data from studies lasting more than 5 years available today only covers 79 glaciers. How can we infer from this small sample that all of them are melting and that man is responsible?

Much has been written about Mt. Kilimanjaro's glaciers melting, with blame going, where else, but to global warming. The facts are that the most recent studies of that mountain have ascertained that the glaciers' melting is actually due to the deforestation of the rainforest at Kilimanjaro's base, which has been responsible for warm, moist air currents feeding the glaciers. With the forests gone the air now rushing up the mountain is hot and dry, hence melting glaciers....

We can all put on hair shirts and suffer for our affluence by participating in the Kyoto accord. Not that it would do any good, as the same projections generated from computer simulations that we rely on to predict the inevitability of severe climate change, predict a decrease in global temperature of only .04 degree Fahrenheit over the next decade, providing the Kyoto accord is fully implemented.

More here


As cold weather sweeps across much of the U.S. and buries New England in several feet of snow, global warming hyperbole reached new heights today as an apocalyptic international report, "Meet the Climate Change," warned the world is reaching a "point of no return" that will bring unprecedented famine and drought catastrophes. The report was assembled by the Institute for Public Policy Research in Britain, the Centre for American Progress in the United States and the Australia Institute....

In addition to famine and drought of spectacular proportions, the report warns of increased disease, sea-level rise and the death of forests. "There is an ecological time bomb ticking away," said Stephen Byers, former British transport minister and a close ally of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The report urges all G-8 countries to agree to generate a quarter of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and to double their research spending on low-carbon energy technologies by 2010.

The controversial Kyoto Protocol became binding on industrialized nations who have signed onto it after Russia reluctantly moved to ratify it.... Vladimir Putin's personal economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, said last summer Russia's approval of Kyoto came under severe duress - an "all-out and total war on Russia" directed by Blair. He said the pressure included "bribes, blackmail and murder threats." Illarionov said global warming advocates refused to answer questions posed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at a Moscow symposium. He claimed British science advisers tried to stop skeptics from being heard. "When this attempt to introduce censorship ... failed, other attempts were made to disrupt the seminar," said Illarionov.

Illarionov said "none of the assertions made in the Kyoto Protocol and the 'scientific' theory on which it is based have been borne out by actual data. ... There is no evidence confirming a positive linkage between the level of carbon dioxide and temperature change. If there is such a linkage, it is of a reverse nature. ... The statistical data ... are often considerably distorted if not falsified."

While some in the U.S. have offered sharp criticism of the ideology driving the global warming crusade, none of the rhetoric has been as penetrating as Illarionov's, who compared it "with man-hating totalitarian ideology with which we had the bad fortune to deal during the 20th century, such as National Socialism (and) Marxism.... All methods of distorting information existing in the world have been committed to prove the validity of these theories," he continued. "Misinformation, falsification, fabrication, mythology, propaganda. Because what is offered cannot be qualified in any other way than myth, nonsense and absurdity.

Illarionov's comments, made in a press conference, were quoted by the Moscow News but received little international attention. He described the protocol as "one of the biggest, if not the biggest, international adventures based on man-hating totalitarian ideology, which, incidentally, manifests itself in totalitarian actions and concrete events, particularly academic discussions, and which tries to defend itself using disinformation and falsified facts. It's hard to think of any other word but 'war' to describe this."

Yuri Izrael, one of the three vice chairmen of the panel, said: "The Kyoto Protocol aims to impoverish our country, and not only us but our children and grandchildren.... There have been examples in our fairly recent history of how a considerable portion of Europe was flooded with the brown Nazi ideology, the red Commie ideology that caused severe casualties and consequences for Europe and the entire world," said Illarionov. "Now there is a big likelihood that a considerable part of Europe has been flooded with another type, another color of ideology, but with very similar implications for European societies and human societies the world over. And now we in Russia are facing a historical opportunity: Are we going to let the genie out of the bottle as the previous generations let the Nazi and Communist genies out of the bottles or not?"

DeWeese concludes: "The fact is that one person now stands between the global warming jackals and economic sanity - George W. Bush. Will he stand firm in his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol? Or will he capitulate to massive international pressure and sell America's soul?"

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, January 28, 2005


An article that the pro-Greenie publication "Nature" would not print is now accepted into the scientific literature

A science article that appears today in Geophysical Research Letters casts serious doubt on the oft-cited claim that global temperatures are warmer now than they have been anytime in the last 1,000 years.

Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick examined the methodology that led Mann et al. (1998) to publish in the popular science journal Nature the famous "hockey stick" shaped temperature curve, which was a centerpiece of the Third Assessment Report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001. The hockey stick curve showed a gradual cooling since around 1400 A.D. (the hockey stick handle) then a sharp warming since about 1900 (the blade of the stick). This was taken as proof that the major climatic event of the last 1,000 years was the influence of humans in the 20th century.

As you might imagine, it's a little difficult to construct a temperature history for a period of record that, for the most part, had no reliable thermometer measurements. Since good thermometer measurements extend back to only around the mid-1800's, "proxy" measurements, primarily tree ring data, have been used to extend the temperature record back additional centuries.

McIntyre & McKitrick found that the Mann et al. methodology included a data pre-processing step, one which was not reported in the original study, that essentially guaranteed that a hockey stick curve would result from their analysis. They demonstrated this by applying the same methodology to many synthetic temperature records that were constructed with random noise. In almost every case, a hockey stick curve resulted. The claim of unprecedented warmth and the hockey stick shape appear to hinge on the treatment of one species of tree, the bristlecone pine, from North America in the 1400's. Further statistical tests showed that this critical signal in the early 15th century lacked statistical significance. This suggests that the results of Mann et al. were simply a statistical fluke, which greatly exaggerated a characteristic of the bristlecone pines, which may or may not be related to global temperatures.

The new article, like so much published science, simply points out errors in previously published science, which is the way science should work. So why should there be so much fuss this time? Because the original Mann et al. article has had huge repercussions. The hockey stick, along with the "warmest in 1,000 years" argument, has become a central theme of debates over the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, in governments around the world. The question begging to be answered is: Why did the IPCC so quickly and uncritically accept the Mann et al hockey stick analysis when it first appeared? I cannot help but conclude that it's because they wanted to believe it.

More here


The post below was lifted from Spear Shaker. See the original for links

This blog has been critical of the Global Warming lobby, and skeptical of both the case and the proposed remedy for the perceived climate crisis.

This post isn't going to address the relative merits of the proponents vs. the skeptics. But I do want to point out that there seems to be a momentum shift away from the Global Warming Orthodoxy, and not just because Crichton published his book.

How can you tell? By the increasingly ominous rhetoric and doomsday scenarios that are being released into the media:

From the UK's Independent - A joint Australia, UK, and US report sponsored by the Center for American Progress (a liberal thinktank chaired by John Podesta, Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff), and the Australia Institute (an advocacy group which argues for communal rights over private property rights as it relates to environmental concerns), gives us ten years before the "point of no return" is reached in Global Warming - i.e., two degrees above the average temperature in the year 1750 - which the report says will be reached within the decade. The consequences, according to the report, will be dire:

These could include widespread agricultural failure, water shortages and major droughts, increased disease, sea-level rise and the death of forests - with the added possibility of abrupt catastrophic events such as "runaway" global warming, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, or the switching-off of the Gulf Stream.

Fixing a date and precise temperature trigger to the onset of environmental cataclysm is not the sign of a self-assured movement that is confident in its data and policy prescriptions. By ratcheting up the fear factor, these groups are attempting to stall the counter-momentum that is being felt as adoption of Kyoto guidelines loom and skeptics challenge the policy prescriptions; Canada is having serious second thoughts, the E.U. is threatening many of its members for dragging its feet, Japan is going squishy, and Blair is desperately trying to fashion a Kyoto-lite that doesn't include CO2 caps.

The fever pitch of the hysteria, and The Day After Tomorrow media scenarios suggest that, instead of a concerned citizenry recognizing a real threat, thinking people are looking at all the evidence and determining that reasonable environmental limits, investments in technology, and the underlying principles of economic growth are the appropriate path forward. After Global Cooling, Nuclear Winter, the Population Explosion, and Acid Rain, people hear "ten years until catastrophe" and just step on the gas.


Greenies hate big cities but big cities use the least resources per head

My wife and I were married straight out of college, in 1978. We were young and naive and unashamedly idealistic, and we decided to make our first home in a utopian environmentalist community in New York State. For seven years we lived quite contentedly in circumstances that would strike most Americans as austere in the extreme: our living space measured just 65 square metres, and we didn't have a dishwasher, garbage disposal, a lawn or a car. We did our grocery shopping on foot, and when we needed to travel longer distances we used public transport. Because space at home was scarce, we seldom acquired new possessions of significant size. Our electricity bills worked out to about a (US) dollar a day.

The utopian community was Manhattan. Most Americans, including most New Yorkers, think of New York City as an ecological nightmare, a wasteland of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams, but in comparison with the rest of America it is a model of environmental responsibility. By the most significant measures, New York is the greenest community in the US, and one of the greenest cities in the world. The most devastating damage humans have done to the environment has arisen from the heedless burning of fossil fuels, a category in which New Yorkers are practically prehistoric. The average Manhattanite consumes petrol at a rate that the country as a whole hasn't matched since the mid-1920s, when the most widely owned car in the US was the Ford Model T. Eighty-two per cent of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit, by bicycle, or on foot. That's 10 times the rate for Americans in general, and eight times the rate for residents of Los Angeles County. New York City is more populous than all but 11 states; if it were granted statehood, it would rank 51st in per-capita energy use.

"Any place that has such tall buildings and heavy traffic is obviously an environmental disaster - except that it isn't," says John Holtzclaw, a transportation consultant for the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defence Council. "If New Yorkers lived at the typical American sprawl density of three households per residential acre [0.4 hectares], they would require many times as much land. They'd be driving cars, and they'd have huge lawns and be using pesticides and fertilisers on them, and then they'd be overwatering their lawns, so that runoff would go into streams." The key to New York's relative environmental benignity is its extreme compactness. Manhattan's population density is more than 800 times that of the nation as a whole. Placing 1.5 million people on a 60-square kilometre island sharply reduces their opportunities to be wasteful, and forces the majority to live in some of the most inherently energy-efficient residential structures: apartment buildings. It also frees huge tracts of land for the rest of America to sprawl into.....

When most Americans think about environmentalism, they picture wild, unspoiled landscapes - the earth before it was transmogrified by human habitation. New York City is one of the most thoroughly altered landscapes imaginable, an almost wholly artificial environment, in which the terrain's primeval contours have long since been obliterated and most of the parts that resemble nature (the trees on side streets, the rocks in Central Park) are essentially decorations. Ecology-minded discussions of New York City often have a hopeless tone, and focus on ways in which the city might be made to seem somewhat less oppressively man-made: by increasing the area devoted to parks and greenery, by incorporating vegetation into buildings themselves, by reducing traffic congestion, by easing the intensity of development, by creating open space around structures. But most such changes would actually undermine the city's extraordinary energy efficiency, which arises from the characteristics that make it surreally synthetic.

Because densely populated urban centres concentrate human activity, we think of them as pollution crisis zones. Calculated by the square metre, New York City generates more greenhouse gases, uses more energy and produces more solid waste than most other American regions of comparable size. On a map depicting negative environmental impacts in relation to surface area, therefore, Manhattan would look like an intense hot spot, surrounded, at varying distances, by belts of deepening green.

If you plotted the same negative impacts by resident or by household, however, the colour scheme would be reversed. My little town has about 4000 residents, spread over 100 thickly wooded square kilometres, and there are many places within our town limits from which no sign of settlement is visible in any direction. But if you moved 8 million people like us, along with our dwellings and possessions and rates of energy use, into a space the size of New York City, our profligacy would be impossible to miss, because you would have to stack our houses and cars and garages and lawn tractors and swimming pools and septic tanks higher than skyscrapers. (Conversely, if you made all 8 million New Yorkers live at the density of my town, they would require a space equivalent to the land area of the six New England states plus Delaware and New Jersey.) Spreading people out increases the damage they do to the environment, while making the problems harder to see and to address.

Environmentalists have tended to treat big buildings as intrinsically wasteful, because large amounts of energy are expended in their construction, and because the buildings place intensely localised stresses on sewers, power lines and water systems. But density can create the same kinds of ecological benefits in individual structures that it does in entire communities. Tall buildings have much less exposed exterior surface per square metre of interior space than smaller buildings do, and that means they present relatively less of themselves to the elements, their small roofs absorb less heat from the sun during cooling season and radiate less heat from inside during heating season. (The beneficial effects are greater still in Manhattan, where one building often directly abuts another.) A study by Michael Phillips and Robert Gnaizda, published in CoEvolution Quarterly in 1980, found that an ordinary apartment in a typical building near downtown San Francisco used just a fifth as much heating fuel as a new tract house in Davis, a little more than 100 kilometres away. Occupants of tall buildings also do a significant part of their daily coming and going in elevators, which, because they are counterweighted and thus require less motor horsepower, are among the most energy-efficient passenger vehicles in the world.....

When I told a friend recently that I thought New York City should be considered the greenest community in America, she looked puzzled, then asked, "Is it because they've started recycling again?" Her question reflected a central failure of the American environmental movement: that too many of us have been made to believe that the most important thing we can do to save the earth and ourselves is to remember each week to set our cans and bottles and newspapers on the curb. Recycling is popular because it enables people to relieve their gathering anxieties about the future without altering the way they live. But most recycling has, at best, a neutral effect on the environment, and much of it is demonstrably harmful. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart point out in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, most of the materials we place on our curbs are merely "downcycled" - converted to a lower use, providing a pause in their inevitable journey to a landfill or an incinerator - often with a release of toxins and a net loss of fuel, among other undesirable effects.

By far the worst damage we Americans do to the planet arises not from the newspapers we throw away but from the 3.2billion or so litres of oil we consume every day. We all know this at some level, yet we live like alcoholics in denial. How else can we explain that our cars have grown bigger, heavier and less fuel-efficient at the same time that scientists have become more certain and more specific about the consequences of our addiction to gasoline?

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, January 27, 2005


Tucson's Center for Biological Diversity must pay rancher and banker Jim Chilton $600,000 because the environmental group defamed him with a press release and photos posted on its Web site, a jury decided Friday. In a 9-1 verdict, jurors in Pima County Superior Court awarded Chilton $100,000 for the harm done to his reputation and Arivaca cattle company. The jury tacked on an additional $500,000 in punitive damages meant to punish the center and deter others from committing libel. Chilton, whose wife, Sue, is chairwoman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, sued the center over material that alleged he mismanaged his 21,500-acre Forest Service allotment, northwest of Nogales.

Many of the center's 21 photos depicted barren patches that captions described as "denuded" by cows. But Chilton's lawyer showed jurors wide-angle photos taken at the same locations that revealed the surroundings as worthy of a postcard, with oaks and mesquites dotting lush, rolling hills. The center countered that the material it published in July 2002 couldn't be libelous because it was honest opinion. The photos weren't doctored, the center said, and they were public records that were part of its failed bid to block renewal of Chilton's grazing permit.

The center, which is typically the plaintiff in court, will probably appeal the decision, and its insurance should pay for at least some of the damages, if they're upheld, said policy director Kieran Suckling. "We did things with the best of intentions. If there were some mistakes, they were honest mistakes," he said. Suckling said he was most worried about the verdict's "chilling effect" on advocacy groups. "We really feel victimized by a wealthy banker who can afford to hire a large legal team to nitpick you to death," he said.

Chilton, donning a white cowboy hat outside the courtroom, said he doubted he'll be able to collect all the money from the center, which he described as "schoolyard bullies." ... "It does not matter if I ever collect a dime. We were in it because it's a righteous, just cause. People have taken too much abuse for too long in this community," he said. "I'm glad our system has a watchdog, and that's the jury system." Chilton said he'll use the award to pay his lawyers, reimburse himself for costs, then donate what's left over to the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association legal fund so it can "fight for justice."....

To prove the material was defamatory, Chilton not only had to show it was false and hurt him, but also demonstrate the activists knew they had lied or shown "reckless disregard" for the truth. Such evidence of malice had to be "clear and convincing." The bar would have been lower had Chilton not been ruled a public figure by Judge Richard Fields. An ordinary citizen would only have to show the center was negligent through a preponderance of the evidence. Kraig Marton, Chilton's attorney, told jurors in closing arguments Thursday that he'd proved at least four photos weren't even on Chilton's allotment and that the center willfully ignored scientific studies praising Chilton's grazing practices. "They were out to do harm, out to stop grazing and out to do whatever they can to prevent the Chiltons and others like them from letting cows on public land," Marton said....

But because the First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech, Judge Fields instructed jurors they couldn't consider the center's statements libelous if they viewed them as opinions, rather than facts. "We must enforce the people's right to express their opinion and have public debate over issues," Robert Royal, the center's attorney, told jurors. "That is what makes this country great."

But Marton told jurors they only had to look at the center's anti-grazing agenda and refusal to apologize in court for proof of its contempt toward Chilton and his way of life. If you're gonna lie," Marton said, "you have to pay the consequences."

More here


As we see the amazing pictures and data from the Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan, perhaps it's better not to waste time worrying over environmentalist scaremongers. But it is worth remembering that environmentalists opposed the launch of the mission that has sent back the new data. The Cassini satellite runs on nuclear energy - its Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) is powered by plutonium. Back in 1997 Greenpeace wrote to then US President Bill Clinton 'to express dismay and steadfast opposition to the planned launch of 72 pounds of plutonium into space onboard the Cassini space probe', and warn that '[d]ispersal of the plutonium in the event of a launch pad accident or disintegration in the atmosphere could pose a grave health risk'.

Yet this warning was based not only on playing up the small risk of an accident, but also on junk science that massively overestimated the toxicity of plutonium if the worst did happen.

A successful launch didn't stop the anti-Cassini activists. In order to pick up the speed to reach Saturn, Cassini had to swing by Venus and then the Earth. Protesters feared that a collision with the Earth during the flyby could poison billions of people. They demanded that the mission be aborted at Venus, and petitioned the UN to invoke the precautionary principle When their campaign to stop Cassini failed, the 'No Flyby' newsletter warned that we should prepare for the flyby by stockpiling food, buying gas masks, and turning off the air conditioning so as to keep out contaminated air.

Of course space exploration can be risky. But the success of Cassini-Huygens reminds us that some risks are worth taking and that worst-case scenarios generally don't come true. As John Zarnecki, professor of space science at the Open University and principal investigator of an experiment on the Huygens probe, wrote on spiked: 'If we had followed the precautionary principle, there would have been no exploration so far of the outer Solar System - no Voyager flybys of Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus; no Galileo mission to Jupiter and Europa (with the discovery of oceans below the surface of Europa, and the possibility of primitive life existing there).'

If we are to see more successful space exploration, and especially if US President George W Bush is serious about his proposal for manned space exploration, we will need a robust attitude to risk. The precautionary principle would have stopped Cassini-Huygens. We shouldn't give it the chance to stop future exploration.



A case can be made, not a certain one but a strongly persuasive one, that Canada would have done a lot more good for the cause of global climate control by not signing the Kyoto treaty, which comes into effect in just four weeks. Having signed on (and having endlessly congratulated ourselves for doing more than those selfish, rapacious Americans), our government finds itself in the embarrassing position that there's quite obviously no way we can fulfill the Kyoto commitments we've taken on.

The government can't admit this, of course. So it's going to spend most of the time to 2012 (when the target of a 5.2 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases is supposed to be met) by faking it, by cheating and by fibbing - to us and to others. This last is the real rub. We pride ourselves on being "model world citizens." Quite a few countries actually sort-of believe this about us. If the good guy cheats, why shouldn't everyone else? This is why our contribution to reducing global warming is more likely to be an actual minus than just a zero. This unpleasant truth is just starting to break into public view.

Outsiders know it well. At a U.N. conference on climate change in Buenos Aires last month, the Japanese representative remarked, casually, as if it were self-evident, that when the Kyoto treaty comes up for renewal in 2012, Japan, Russia and Canada will all withdraw. Back here, our own insiders know it equally well. A document prepared for cabinet by senior officials that's just been leaked to the press declares that under current policy and programs, "Canada is still going to be significantly off the Kyoto target."

Unstated in this document is that faking and fibbing are already key parts of our current policy and programs. Canada intends to claim as a reduction in our greenhouse gas output any increase in natural gas sales to the U.S. on the grounds these substitute for more polluting oil sales. This proposition is patently rubbish. Kyoto or no Kyoto, we'll be selling all the natural gas we can to make more money, not to make less carbon dioxide.....

Our signing of Kyoto has been an exercise in political opportunism. Mostly, it enables us to do precious little while reassuring Canadians we're better than those awful Americans.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Humans 'may have saved world from ice age'

Humans may have unwittingly saved themselves from a looming ice age by interfering with the Earth's climate, according to a new study. The findings from a team of American climate experts suggest that were it not for greenhouse gases produced by humans, the world would be well on the way to a frozen Armageddon.

Scientists have traditionally viewed the relative stability of the Earth's climate since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago as being due to natural causes, but there is evidence that changes in solar radiation and greenhouse gas concentrations should have driven the Earth towards glacial conditions over the last few thousand years. What stopped it has been the activity of humans, both ancient and modern, argue the scientists.

Over the last 8,000 years carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have gradually risen, when previous trends indicated that it should have dropped. Methane, another greenhouse gas, had also increased instead of fallen. The unexpected trends could be explained by massive early deforestation in Eurasia, rice farming in Asia, the introduction of livestock, and the burning of wood and plant material, all of which led to an outpouring of greenhouse emissions.

The United States researchers, led by William Ruddiman from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, used a climate model to test what would happen if these greenhouse gases were reduced to their "natural" level. They wrote in the journal, Quaternary Science Reviews: "In the absence of anthropogenic contributions, global climate is almost 2C cooler than today and roughly one-third of the way toward full glacial temperatures."

At the peak of the last ice age, which began 70,000 years ago, 97% of Canada was covered by ice. The research showed that without the human contribution to global warming, Baffin Island would today be in a condition of "incipient glaciation".... "Portions of Labrador and Hudson Bay would also have moved very close to such a state had greenhouse gas concentrations followed natural trends," said the scientists. The experiment had probably underestimated the amount of ice that would exist today in north-east Canada without human interference, they said.

Anthropologist Dr Benny Peiser, from Liverpool John Moores University, said: "If the research findings are correct, a radical change in the perception of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will be required. "Instead of driving us to the brink of environmental disaster, human intervention and technology progress will be seen as vital activities that have unintentionally delayed the onset of a catastrophic ice age."



Some answers to the "spiritual counsellors" and other expert protestors:

"Newspaper columns in Southern California newspapers are bubbling with a new paranoia from those on the left side of the political spectrum about the recently released new safety guidelines for perchlorate in drinking water recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The suspicion is that the Bush administration has somehow put its thumb on the prestigious National Academy, and like allegedly rigged elections and deceitful wars, is jeopardizing children's health by loosening the former EPA standard of 1 part per billion to 20 parts per billion of perchlorate in drinking water.

Letter writer Dr. Michael Storrie-Lombardi, M.D., in the Jan. 18 issue of the Pasadena Star News writes:

"Please encourage L.A. County and the governor to implement a higher set of water quality standards for our children's drinking water in spite of the federal government's malign intent."

South Pasadena resident Megeen McLaughlin writes in the Jan. 22 issue of the Star News:

"As a spiritual counselor, mother, sister, and friend, I speak with all too many mothers who are tormented by the suffering of their children from learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and other maladies. To think that these
afflictions may be linked to drinking water contaminated by perchlorate (a component of rocket fuel) is all the more disturbing."


The problem with the fear of perchlorate, according to many independent university toxicologists, is that other natural substances in the human diet have the same or greater effect as perchlorate. Thiocyanates (a salt) can inhibit iodine production in the thyroid and are found in milk, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. A 3.5 ounce serving of Brussels sprouts has the same effect as eating about 8,000 ppb's perchlorate, 8-ounces of milk not laced with perchlorate has the same effect of about 16 to 80 ppb's of perchlorate, and even drinking water that meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) standard for nitrates equates to about 90 parts per billion of perchlorate. U.C. Riverside toxicologist Bob Krieger states that the perchlorate risk is poorly understood and amounts to no more of a danger than eating Brussels sprouts. Moreover, it has now come to light that soybeans, used in tofu and soymilk, are another natural glandular disrupter similar to perchlorate.

There are even more disturbing problems with mandating costly cleanups of perchlorate from groundwater supplies.

The vast majority of the population in Southern California has for some 50-years been exposed to standard perchlorate levels (6 ppb) from Colorado River water without any documented widespread increase in hormonal abnormalities.

Secondly, casting aside the questionable methodologies of experimental studies with small sample populations, it would seem that the most reliable study of the health effects of perchlorate was that conducted on nearly 10,000 children from three cities in Chile where naturally occurring nitrate deposits make it the only place in the world where the effects of natural perchlorate have been measured for decades. Perchlorate is found in the groundwater in the Atacam Desert of Chile at about 120 parts per billion and dilutes into groundwater at 7 parts per billion, or about the same level as occurs in the Colorado River Aqueduct. Yet no effects on thyroid health among infants and children have ever been found beyond typical levels (J. Occup. Med. 2004, Jun: 46(6): 516-7).

The claim that perchlorate has entered the food chain and poses a health hazard in milk has also been proven to be bogus. As pointed out by Dr. Brahama Sharma, PhD, Fellow Royal Society of Chemists, it is chemically impossible for perchlorate to pose a health hazard in milk. Perchlorate (one atom of chlorine and four atoms of oxygen) is an ion which is negatively charged. Milk is composed of compounds of carbon, such as carbohydrates like lactose, which are abundant in milk and positively charged (Brahama D. Sharma, "Perchlorate Scare," Letter to Star News circa July 4, 2004). Thus, lactose in milk neutralizes perchlorate. In fact, one method of treating perchlorate contamination is by carbohydrate injection, which uses molasses or corn syrup as a neutralizer.

Dr. Michael Payne, a toxicologist at U.C. Davis, has stated: "Perchlorate definitely blocks (thyroid function) at high levels. But at these miniscule levels, any damage is theoretical. In fact, two studies conducted with populations' drinking water with much higher perchlorate levels than (those found in California milk) showed no adverse affects" ("Rocket Fuel Found in California Milk," SF Chronicle, June 22, 2004)"........

More here


Inconveniencing people is what it is really all about

San Francisco may become the first city in the nation to charge shoppers for grocery bags. The city's environmental commission is expected to ask the mayor and board of supervisors Tuesday to consider a 17-cent-per-bag charge on paper and plastic grocery bags. Their goal is to reduce plastic bag pollution. Environmentalists say plastic bags jam machinery, pollute waterways and often end up in trees. Officials believe that the city spends five-point-two cents per bag annually for street litter pickup and one-point-four cents per bag for extra recycling costs. But grocers and bag manufacturers argue that many people already reuse their plastic bags. Other opponents call the plan an unfair and regressive tax on shoppers.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Panic: 'Child cancer "link to pollution"', says BBC News today, reporting new research that suggests that women exposed to air pollution during pregnancy are more likely to have children that develop cancer in childhood. Professor George Knox of Birmingham University compared data on child cancer deaths between 1966 and 1980 with pollution records from 2001, and found that women living within one kilometre of a pollution source were between two and four times more likely to have children with cancer.

Don't panic: The immediate problem with this study is that the cancer data is at least 20 years older than the pollution data. Many older pollution sources will have disappeared or been diminished, as a result of changing regulations and the decline of UK manufacturing.

But even if the two sets of data referred to the same time period, this would still not provide an accurate measure of the exposure of women to these pollutants. Even when a pollution source is close by, the place someone lives does not necessarily best reflect their exposure. Surely some account would need to be taken of where they worked, too? Different weather conditions and housing might also have an effect.

In any event, international comparisons of childhood cancers suggest that environmental hazards are unlikely to be to blame. Dr Anthony Michalski from the Institute of Child Health told the BBC: 'The rates of most paediatric tumours are relatively similar in industrialised and non-industrialised countries and that would not be expected if this hypothesis was correct.'

Even Knox accepts that this research should not be of much concern to the general public. 'The risk of a random child having a cancer is about one in 1000. In the hotspots it is two to four in 1000 so it's still a low risk.' Yet, on the basis of this study, he believes that there should be a substantial shift in research into the causes of childhood cancer. The real problem is the publicity given to studies such as this, which tell us little about the true causes of childhood cancer, and can only serve to alarm parents.



Excerpts from an article by David Henderson, formerly (among other things) Head of the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a joint subsidiary of two international agencies, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was created by the member governments of these two agencies in 1988. Since then it has produced three full-scale Assessment Reports, issued respectively in 1990, 1995 and 2001. Work is now in progress on the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), which is due in 2007.

The Panel operates through three Working Groups. WGI is concerned with scientific aspects of climate change, WGII with the prospective impacts of such change and ways of adapting to it, and WGIII with mitigation of the impacts. Each of the Groups produced its own report as part of the Third Assessment Report. Alongside them was the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), prepared for WGIII, which provided in particular a range of projections of greenhouse gas emissions, covering the period from 1990 to 2100....

Over the past two and a half years or so, I and a co-author---Ian Castles, formerly Head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics---have put forward a joint critique of economic aspects of the work of the IPCC. While our main single target has been the SRES, our concerns extend to the IPCC process and milieu as a whole, including the Panel's sponsoring departments and agencies. Moreover, we have gone beyond criticism, by putting forward proposals for action. The main heads of our critique of the SRES can be summarised as follows:

* For the base year of 1990 it compares real GDP across countries on the basis of market exchange rates (MERs), rather than purchasing power parity (PPP) converters. These comparisons greatly overstate the differences in GDP per head between developing regions and OECD member countries.

* It gives a misleading account of the factors that bear on the choice between MERs and PPPs, and of the implications of such a choice.

* It builds in, for reasons that are open to question, rapid convergence in GDP per head between developing regions and OECD member countries. By thus assuming the substantial closure of a greatly overstated initial gap, it arrives at projections of output and GDP per head for developing regions which are higher than they would have been if the 1990 starting point had been correct, and high by comparison with other projections

* As a result, total projected world GDP is pushed up; and this in turn is reflected in higher projected emissions. Hence even the scenarios which show the lowest cumulative emissions over the present century do not in fact represent lower limits. The SRES projections do not, as is claimed for them, adequately encompass the full range of uncertainties about the future.

Our critique thus covers not only the results of the exercise, in the form of specific projections of emissions, but also the approach, the analytical basis of parts of the Report.

Our arguments have been strongly contested by authors who were involved with the SRES. Interested readers are referred to a series of articles that has appeared in recent issues of the journal Energy and Environment: the first four of these---two on each side---comprise the exchanges between us and the SRES authors, and three further articles have since appeared. Those who would prefer to invest considerably less time can be recommended, first, to two articles from the Economics Focus page of The Economist (15 February and 8 November, 2003), which weigh in on our side, and second, to an official press release issued by the IPCC in December 2003 and now posted, in a somewhat less impolite form than the original version, on the Panel's website. This latter document is concerned to expose our critique as baseless. Among other things, it states that 'In recent months some disinformation has been spread questioning the scenarios used by the IPCC'; and it refers to Castles and me as 'so called "two independent commentators"'. Along with our critique, our suggestions for change have been rejected by the Panel. The main proposals that we have made are three:

* That the SRES, because it is open to serious criticisms, should not be taken as the basis and starting point of AR4: an alternative and firmer basis should be sought, through less elaborate and more short-cut procedures than those of the SRES.

* That in assessing possible future developments in the world economy, and ways of projecting them, the involvement of economic historians and historically-minded economists should now be ensured---for the first time.

* That more generally, and going well beyond scenario-building, the IPCC process should be broadened, in particular through the active involvement, first, of national statistical offices in member countries, and second, of ministries of finance and economics.

As to the first of the above suggestions, the IPCC has determined that 'the SRES scenarios provide a credible and sound set of projections, appropriate for use in the AR4'. As to the other two, the Panel and its member governments appear as fully content with the present established procedures and arrangements for participation. The opening paragraph of the press release referred to above says of the IPCC that

"It mobilises the best experts from all over the world, who work diligently on bringing out the various reports,,, The Third Assessment Review of the IPCC was released in 2001 through the collective efforts of around 2000 experts from a diverse range of countries and disciplines. All of IPCC's reports go through a careful two stage review process by governments and experts and acceptance by the member governments composing the Panel".

In relation to economic aspects, there is good reason to question the claims to authority and representative status that the IPCC makes on its behalf. Those of us who are sceptics do not question the numbers of those involved, their diligence, or the existence and observance of formal review processes. But we think that when it comes to the treatment of leading economic issues, the milieu is neither fully competent nor adequately representative. We also hold that building in peer review is no safeguard against dubious assumptions, arguments and conclusions if the peers are all drawn from the same restricted professional milieu. A leading illustration of our case (it is not the only one) is the issue of MERs versus PPPs. Here the internationally agreed System of National Accounts (SNA), which dates from 1993, gives unambiguous guidance. In its opening chapter, it specifies (paragraph 1.38) that:

"When the objective is to compare the volumes of goods or services produced or consumed per head, data in national currencies must be converted into a common currency by means of purchasing power parities and not exchange rates ... Exchange rate converted data must not ,,, be interpreted as measures of the relative volumes of goods and services concerned".

Despite this ruling, misleading MER-based international comparisons have been uncritically made, not only by the SRES, but also in the reports of both WGII and WGIII; more recently, in a report issued by UNEP; and more recently still, in a document prepared for an IPCC-sponsored conference by one of the three current Vice-Chairs of the Panel. It seems probable that not one of the many participants in these various proceedings had heard of the SNA, and it is not referred to in either the text of the SRES or its 17 or so pages of references.

In the context of national accounts, there is a specific error in the SRES which, though only incidental, shows that mere numbers are no guarantee of representative status. On p. 115 of the Report the concept of GNP---now more usually referred to as GNI---is wrongly defined. This basic error was not picked up by any of the 53 authors, 4 review editors and 89 expert reviewers who are listed as participants in the preparation of the SRES.

In the IPCC press release referred to above, the statement is made that 'the economy does not change by using a different metrics (PPP or MEX), in the same way that the temperature does not change if you switch from degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit'. This assertion could be interpreted in different ways, but on any interpretation the analogy appears as false. Admittedly, not all economists would accept without qualification the case for using PPP-based converters, rather than some exchange-rate-based alternative; but even the sceptics do not argue that the choice is immaterial.

In the British case, it might be supposed that one or two members of the Government Economic Service, now said to be 800 strong, not to mention a person from the National Statistics Office, would have been drawn into the economic work of the IPCC and made it less unrepresentative. There is no sign of any such involvement. Speaking in the House of Lords last April on behalf of the responsible department, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Baroness Farrington said that 'the views of Mr Castles and Mr Henderson were considered extremely carefully,,, by the Government,,,' If such consideration has indeed been given, its results have not been communicated to me.

The economic content of AR4 can be strengthened only if new participants are brought into the process, and this can be achieved only if and in so far as member governments act accordingly: the IPCC milieu appears impervious to unofficial criticism. In this context, it is the central economic departments of state---treasuries, ministries of finance or economics, and organisations such as the US Council of Economic Advisers---that have a potentially key role. Up to now, and despite the large amounts that are at stake, they have been content to leave the handling of economic issues within the IPCC process to the departments and agencies directly concerned. The questionable treatment of these issues by the IPCC and its sponsoring organisations, which Castles and I have drawn attention to as independent outsiders, has apparently not been noticed by a single official in a single finance or economics ministry in a single country. It is high time for this situation to change, and for these latter departments to become involved.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, January 24, 2005


Sounds like a "Yes Minister" fix is being tried

The Government is secretly trying to backtrack on its commitment to take action on global warming, according to campaigners Greenpeace. The environmentalists have posted documents on their website which show the UK Government asked for targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to be excluded from EU climate policy. The British Government asked for the phrase "substantial reductions by up to possibly 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels" to be removed. It also asked for a commitment of 60% to 80% reductions to be replaced with "significantly enhanced reduction efforts".

However, the amendments, which were proposed to draft council conclusions on climate change dated December 9, 2004, were overruled by other member states.

In his key speech on climate change in September last year Mr Blair said: "In the longer term, The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's seminal report on energy concluded that to make its contribution towards tackling climate change, the UK needed to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050. "This implies a massive change in the way this country produces and uses energy. We are committed to this change." He said climate change was a top priority for the G8 presidency, saying: "We have to recognise that the commitments reflected in the Kyoto protocol and current EU policy are insufficient, uncomfortable as that may be, and start urgently building a consensus based on the latest and best possible science."

However, a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted the Government was not opposed to setting targets but felt they should be based on cost benefit analysis which was still on-going. "When that's finished we feel it would be better to look then and not use a figure plucked out of nowhere," he said. "It shouldn't be interpreted as suggesting that we don't have a commitment but rather that we feel the figure should be based on full information."

More here


'I don't think we can put our hands on our hearts and say mobiles are safe.' This quote from Sir William Stewart was reported on the front page of the Sun, beneath the headline 'Mobiles "a danger to children"'. With these words, Stewart - former chief scientific adviser to the government and author of an influential report on mobiles back in May 2000 - launched a report by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), the government's advisory board on radiological issues, on 11 January 2005. There was little new in the report, which is simply a restatement of the existing knowledge that there is no evidence of human harm from mobiles. The report didn't even recommend the enforcement of new restrictions on the erection of mobile masts, as many in the industry had feared.

The only thing for news editors to hang their headlines on was Stewart's personal intervention at the conference, when he took it upon himself to 'speak from the heart' and say that children under eight shouldn't be allowed to own a mobile. He reiterated his personal restriction of his grandchildren's mobile usage, and suggested that mobile companies were irresponsible for encouraging such a growth of usage among children.

This split between a scientific and more personal face is at the heart of the mobile phones saga. The original Stewart Report back in 2000 was essentially two reports in one. The first was an exemplary scientific review of knowledge in this particular field, which concluded that there was no significant evidence of harm. But the other aspect of the report was about self-consciously acknowledging public anxieties.

Public meetings were held - although these were attended only by a handful of anti-mobile activists. Through the course of these meetings Stewart established himself as a darling of the anti-mast campaigners (even they were taken aback at some of his precautionary recommendations). At the same time, the established scientific authority on the subject, the NRPB, was attacked in the report for not being sufficiently proactive in relation to public anxieties. The upshot was, in the mind of many, a clever blending of science and public fears that blandly stated that there was no evidence of harm, but precautions were nonetheless advisable.

Everybody was happy - except perhaps the billions of mobile phone users (the Stewart findings were publicised around the world) disconcerted by the 'no problem, but there may be a problem' message.

The mobile phone scare was kicked off by the London Sunday Times back in 1996, with the infamous headline that mobiles could 'fry the brain'. Subsequently the issue became a campaign focus for newspapers such as the Daily Express, with the media publicising any study that suggested some form of problem associated with mobiles, from disorientating homing pigeons to weakening sex drives or giving us cancer.

It was made clear in parliament that the Stewart Inquiry was set up in response to this media campaign (although the letters MPs were receiving from those angry at nearby mobile phone mast sitings also helped to create support). As some newspapers crowed, the seriousness with which the UK authorities took the mobile risk issue was testament to the power of the media in influencing a government that is clearly nervous about the extent of its connection to public concerns.

The ridiculous thing about this saga is that everybody knows that nothing will change - the mobile network is here to stay, and even the anti-mast campaigners only object to the specific location of masts. Sounding off about possible risks can therefore only be posturing without consequence; raising an alarm, but aware that the inevitable anxieties raised have nowhere to go.

But it is not strictly true that the scare is without consequence. One can safely speculate that levels of parental anxiety have increased. Many people now wrestle with the dilemma posed between warnings from an apparently definitive voice of science, and more direct experience that suggests no problem with allowing their children to use society's most popular means of communication.

The emphasis upon the risks posed to children has far more to do with presentational politics than it does with science. Instead of reflecting some new research involving children, it reflects the way in which a focus upon children's welfare is becoming de rigeur in contemporary Anglo-American science policy.

Meanwhile, the mobile phone companies have been set up as pantomime villains, hawking dangerous devices to toddlers. Stewart has frequently attacked their 'irresponsibility', putting himself on the side of the innocent public. Yet it is a myth that children have ever been specifically targeted through advertising. They don't need to be, given that texting in particular is so central to teenage social life. In any case, children can't get a mobile phone without parental consent and financing. The much-publicised MyMo phone that has been withdrawn in the wake of Stewart's pressure was not a serious mass-market device, but a gimmick pushed by a small group of entrepreneurs. (I was on a Scottish radio phone-in when a spokesman dramatically announced MyMo's withdrawal, after explaining it was a Chinese product they had picked up at a trade fair in Germany.)

There is one key mistaken assumption that it is particularly important to challenge. In a 'what every user should know' article in The Times (London) on 13 January 2005, for example, it was explained that the latest report 'noted gaps in the scientific literature and, accordingly, recommended a precautionary approach'. In fact, there is actually no necessary relationship between an issue of scientific knowledge, and the politics of precaution. Gaps in scientific literature might represent a case for further scientific research but they are certainly not grounds, in themselves, for advising precautionary changes in people's behaviour.

The world's leading experts in the field have themselves warned against the application of non-science-based precaution, making clear that some proof is required of a hazard. Even the consumer safety-obsessed European Commission, for its own reasons, has felt obliged to explain in an important communiqu, that one cannot simply invoke precaution without some kind of identifiable hazard, as opposed to mere uncertainty.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, January 23, 2005


There are countless ways to show how China is climbing the world's economic ladder, hurdling developed countries in its path, but few are more pronounced than its rush into nuclear energy - a technology that for environmental, safety and economic reasons most of the world has put on hold. Current plans in China call for new reactors to be commissioned at a rate of nearly two a year between now and 2020.

Planners predict a quadrupling of nuclear output to 16 billion kilowatt-hours by 2010 and a doubling of that figure by 2015. And with commercial nuclear energy programs dead or stagnant in the US and most of Europe, Western and other developers of nuclear plant technology are lining up to sell reactors and other equipment to the Chinese, whose purchasing decisions alone will determine in many instances who survives in the business.

China still derives as much as 80 per cent of its electricity from coal. The problem with nuclear power, some experts say, is that the country's energy needs are so immense that even the enormous expansion program will do little to offset the skyrocketing demand for power. China's eight nuclear reactors now in operation supply less than 2 per cent of current demand. By 2020, assuming the national plan is fulfilled, nuclear energy would still meet less than 4 per cent of demand.

There has been almost no public discussion of the merits and risks of nuclear energy, as the Government strictly censors news coverage of such issues. But critics of the program question whether such a small pay-off warrants exposure to the risk of catastrophic failures, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and the still unresolved problems of radioactive waste disposal. "We don't have a very good plan for dealing with spent fuel, and we don't have very good emergency plans for dealing with catastrophe," said Wang Yi, a nuclear energy expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. "The nuclear interest group wants to push this technology, but they don't understand the risks for the future. They want to make money. But we scientists, we want to take a very comprehensive approach, including safety, environment, dealing with waste and other factors, and not rush into anything."

Chinese nuclear operators scoff at such concerns. "In China we have state-owned power companies, whereas abroad they have private companies," said Yu Jiechun, an engineer at the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. "It's not a matter of someone's profit here."......

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Neil Craig has been having a bit of success in getting the MSM to publish his letters. This one in "The Independent" (widely known as "The Subservient") is good:


Martin Parkinson (letter, 18 January) acknowledges that we need nuclear power if we are to avoid massive blackouts but says that, for reasons undisclosed, new reactors can only be a short-term solution. May I make the alternative case, accepted by the peoples of France, Russia, China, Japan and India among others?

We have sufficient known resources of uranium to keep current nuclear generation going for 4.5 billion years. Nuclear power has a safety record far surpassing that of any other major world industry. Since the 43 deaths at Chernobyl there have been four accidental deaths, all in Japan, in an industry that provides 20 per cent of the world's electricity. By comparison, with coal, we tolerate over 100,000 deaths from black lung and emphysema every year. High-level reactor waste amounts to only a cubic metre per reactor year. Because of the short half-life inherent in high radioactivity it is, in 50 years, normally down to the level of the ore it was mined from.

It is the only possible system which can permanently generate enough to give everybody in the world the amount of power, and therefore a substantial fraction of the standard of living, we currently enjoy. This would take 5,500 reactors, which if mass produced would be very much cheaper than the current bespoke system. World-wide waste over 50 years would be equivalent to a single cube 65 metres on a side.

If allowing all our fellow members of the human race a decent standard of living were considered desirable, and I so consider it, a permanent commitment to expanded nuclear power would be an absolute requirement.


Neil has also been taking the Greenies on over economic growth. The letter below made it into "The Scotsman" on 21st.

For the Green Party spokesman to accuse the Executive of being to active in pursuing growth (letter 17th Jan) is a bit like accusing our national football team of being to successful.

World average growth this year is expected to be 5%, with Asia pushing up the average & Europe & Africa holding it down. Scotland will be lucky to achieve 2% & will certainly manage less than England.

The reason for this is that governments in Holyrood, Westminster & Brussels practice a dilute version of the anti-technology, nanny statist & anti-capitalist policies which, in a pure version, form the subtext to almost all green Party policies.

He hits a better note in saying that the pursuit of happiness is more important than wealth. However such, fairly imprecise, methods of measuring as exist show, as a recent Economist report detailed that the happiest nations (Ireland & Switzerland) are those where freedom & enterprise are acceptable & the most unhappy are those where it is not (Zimbabwe & Haiti). Happiness, freedom & economic success are closely linked & that is the path we should choose. To quote Mr Burt Rutan, the builder of the private enterprise spaceship "see what free men can do" - a sentiment which would have Green members calling for more government controls.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Globally dim

Below is a recent post from the inimitable Prof. Brignell. It clarifies the media reports somewhat (mentioned here on 19th.) but still leaves standing the logic that efforts to reduce pollution should WORSEN global warming, not reduce it. The assumptions underlying global dimming theory are probably as fanciful as the assumptions underlying global warming theory but showing that the assumptions concerned lead to such inconvenient conclusions might just upset the whole applecart

10.05 pm and just trying to cool down after the latest dose of global warming from the BBC. It was absolutely magnificent - wonderfully photographed, compelling, convincing, relentlessly frightening - and total codswallop. Every trick in the book was there, non-sequiturs, ratchet reporting (deaths of heat in Europe in 2003, but no mention of the unusually large number of deaths from cold in the same year throughout the northern hemisphere), lies (that carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas) and the old testament prophet in the form of a "climate scientist" from the Hadley Research Centre calling down fire and brimstone upon us unless we adopt Green ways and start riding bicycles (not horses, because they fart greenhouse gases). It was called "Global Dimming", based on the thesis that pollution has been reducing the radiation reaching the surface of the Earth: a brilliant conceit, which at once explains away why global warming hasn't actually happened yet despite the prophecies, while promising even worse to come unless we mend our evil ways. Any uninformed punter who accidentally strayed onto the channel must have been terrified out of his wits. No horror was left unturned, even the ghastly famine in Ethiopia, while England's green and pleasant land was transformed into a desert before our very eyes. No wonder they are all turning to "reality" TV.

There has never been such brilliant visual propaganda since Germany in the late 1930s. The final outcome? Estimates of global warming will have to be revised upwards.



Just some excerpts from a long and comprehensive article

So today we use 40 percent of our fuel to power the [electricity] plug, and the plug powers 60 percent of GDP. And with the ascent of microwaves, lasers, hybrid wheels, and such, we're moving to 60 and 80 percent, respectively, soon. And then, in due course, 100/100. We're turning to electricity as fuel because it can do more, faster, in much less space-indeed, it's by far the fastest and purest form of power yet tamed for ubiquitous use. Small wonder that demand for it keeps growing.

We've been meeting half of that new demand by burning an extra 400 million tons of coal a year, with coal continuing to supply half of our wired power. Natural gas, the fossil fuel grudgingly favored by most environmentalists, has helped meet the new demand, too: it's back at 16 percent of electricity generated, where it was two decades ago, after dropping sharply for a time. Astonishingly, over this same period, uranium's share of U.S. electricity has also risen-from 11 percent to its current 20 percent. Part of the explanation is more nuclear power plants. Even though Three Mile Island put an end to the commissioning of new facilities, some already under construction at the time later opened, with the plant count peaking at 112 in 1990. Three Mile Island also impelled plant operators to develop systematic procedures for sharing information and expertise, and plants that used to run seven months per year now run almost eleven. Uranium has thus displaced about eight percentage points of oil, and five points of hydroelectric, in the expanding electricity market.

Renewable fuels, by contrast, made no visible dent in energy supplies, despite the hopes of Greens and the benefits of government-funded research, subsidies, and tax breaks. About a half billion kWh of electricity came from solar power in 2002-roughly 0.013 percent of the U.S. total. Wind power contributed another 0.27 percent. Fossil and nuclear fuels still completely dominate the U.S. energy supply, as in all industrialized economies.

The other great hope of environmentalists, efficiency, did improve over the last couple of decades-very considerably, in fact. Air conditioners, car engines, industrial machines, lightbulbs, refrigerator motors-without exception, all do much more, with much less, than they used to. Yet in aggregate, they burn more fuel, too. Boosting efficiency actually raises consumption, as counterintuitive as that sounds. The more efficient a car, the cheaper the miles; the more efficient a refrigerator, the cheaper the ice; and at the end of the day, we use more efficient technology so much more that total energy consumption goes up, not down..... No conceivable mix of solar and wind could come close to supplying the trillions of additional kilowatt-hours of power we'll soon need.

Nuclear power could do it-easily. In all key technical respects, it is the antithesis of solar power. A quad's worth of solar-powered wood is a huge forest-beautiful to behold, but bulky and heavy. Pound for pound, coal stores about twice as much heat. Oil beats coal by about twice as much again. And an ounce of enriched-uranium fuel equals about 4 tons of coal, or 15 barrels of oil. That's why minuscule quantities contained in relatively tiny reactors can power a metropolis.

What's more, North America has vast deposits of uranium ore, and scooping it up is no real challenge. Enrichment accounts for about half of the fuel's cost, and enrichment technologies keep improving. Proponents of solar and wind power maintain-correctly-that the underlying technologies for these energy sources keep getting cheaper, but so do those that squeeze power out of conventional fuels. The lasers coming out of the same semiconductor fabs that build solar cells could enrich uranium a thousand times more efficiently than the gaseous-diffusion processes currently used.

How worried should we really be in 2005 that accidents or attacks might release and disperse a nuclear power plant's radioactive fuel? Not very. Our civilian nuclear industry has dramatically improved its procedures and safety-related hardware since 1979. Several thousand reactor-years of statistics since Three Mile Island clearly show that these power plants are extraordinarily reliable in normal operation.

And uranium's combination of power and super-density makes the fuel less of a terror risk, not more, at least from an engineering standpoint. It's easy to "overbuild" the protective walls and containment systems of nuclear facilities, since-like the pyramids-the payload they're built to shield is so small. Protecting skyscrapers is hard; no builder can afford to erect a hundred times more wall than usable space. Guaranteeing the integrity of a jumbo jet's fuel tanks is impossible; the tanks have to fly. Shielding a nuclear plant's tiny payload is easy-just erect more steel, pour more concrete, and build tougher perimeters.

In fact, it's a safety challenge that we have already met. Today's plants split atoms behind super-thick layers of steel and concrete; future plants would boast thicker protection still. All the numbers, and the strong consensus in the technical community, reinforce the projections made two decades ago: it is extremely unlikely that there will ever be a serious release of nuclear materials from a U.S. reactor....

Greens don't want to hear it, but nuclear power makes the most environmental sense, too. Nuclear wastes pose no serious engineering problems. Uranium is such an energy-rich fuel that the actual volume of waste is tiny compared with that of other fuels, and is easily converted from its already-stable ceramic form as a fuel into an even more stable glass-like compound, and just as easily deposited in deep geological formations, themselves stable for tens of millions of years. And what has Green antinuclear activism achieved since the seventies? Not the reduction in demand for energy that it had hoped for but a massive increase in the use of coal, which burns less clean than uranium.

The best thing we can do to decrease the Middle East's hold on us is to turn off the spigot ourselves. For economic, ecological, and geopolitical reasons, U.S. policymakers ought to promote electrification on the demand side, and nuclear fuel on the supply side, wherever they reasonably can.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.