Monday, October 31, 2005


An Idaho weatherman says Japan's Yakuza mafia used a Russian-made electromagnetic generator to cause Hurricane Katrina to strike America. Meteorologist Scott Stevens, a nine-year veteran of KPVI-TV in Pocatello, said he believes the artificially created hurricane was a bid to avenge Japan for the Hiroshima atomic bomb attack -- and that this technology will soon be wielded again to hit another U.S. city. Stevens said he had been struggling to forecast weather patterns starting in 1998 when he discovered the theory on the Internet. It's now detailed on Stevens' Web site.

Scientists discount Stevens' claims as ludicrous. "I have been doing hurricane research for the better part of 20 years now, and there was nothing unusual to me about any of the satellite imagery of Katrina," said Rob Young, a hurricane expert at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. "It's laughable to think it could have been man-made."

Stevens, who is among several people to offer alternative and generally discounted theories for the storm that flooded New Orleans, says a little-known oversight in physical laws makes it possible to create and control storms. That's especially true, he contends, if you're armed with the Cold War-era weapon said to have been made by the Russians in 1976. Stevens became convinced of the existence of the Russian device when he observed an unusual Montana cold front in 2004. "I just got sick to my stomach because these clouds were unnatural and that meant they had (the machine) on all the time," Stevens said. "I was left trying to forecast the intent of some organization rather than the weather of this planet."

Stevens said oddities in Hurricane Katrina storm patterns underpin his theory. And, according to his Web site, so does the fact that Katrina and Ivan -- the name given to a destructive hurricane that hit Florida in September 2004 -- both sound Russian.

Stevens' bosses at KPVI-TV say their employee can think and say what he wants -- as long as he keeps the station out of the debate and acknowledges that his views are his own opinion. Bill Fouch, KPVI's general manager, compared Stevens' musings to political or religious beliefs that journalists suppress on the job. "He doesn't talk about it on his weathercast," Fouch said. "He's very knowledgeable about weather, and he's very popular."



An amused comment by Bob Carter, professor of paleoclimatology at Australia's James Cook University, on some recent pandering to Greenie fantasies by Australia's Environment Minister

The debate on climate change is over, says Ian Campbell. Claiming to be speaking on behalf of the federal Government, and expressly John Howard, the Environment Minister, according to the front page of this newspaper yesterday, said "he agreed broadly with the contention promoted recently in ... Tim Flannery's book The Weather Makers". The report summarised Campbell's opinion as follows: "As far as the Howard Government is concerned, Australians must accept that humans contribute to global warming and adapt their behaviour to save the planet."

Fine environmental rhetoric, which could have come straight out of Flannery's book. But what exactly is the threat that is now proclaimed to be beyond doubt and that we are being exhorted to avoid? Is it "global warming"? Unlikely. Earth's been there and done that plenty of times before, without our help. During the past 5000 years, in Greenland there have been five previous gentle warming cycles similar to that of the late 20th century. Two of these attained temperatures a little higher than was achieved in 1998, which marks the apparent peak of our most recent, and seemingly entirely normal, warming cycle.

Or we could go back another few thousand years, to the earlier part of our present warm, interglacial interval. Climatic records from many places in the world record temperatures then that were 1C-2C higher than today's, which is why that period of time is sometimes called the early Holocene climatic optimum.

We could take a deeper breath and think about four earlier interglacial intervals during the past 400,000 years, when on each occasion temperatures lasted for about 10,000 years at levels comparable with today's.

Each such interglacial interval also features a short, especially warm climatic optimum. Counting backwards in the Antarctic ice core record, these optima attained temperatures respectively of about 4C, 1C, 6C and 3C warmer than today. Must have been lots of parrots dropping out of the trees in Cairns on those heatwave occasions. Where are their bodies?

Ah, but surely it is "human-caused global warming" that's the problem? Who says? The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Recall that its 2001 report said that "there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities." Well, not much credibility left there. Not only has some of the pivotal science of the IPCC report been undermined by later analysis, but its econometric modelling has been so bad that Nigel Lawson, former British chancellor of the exchequer, has recently recommended to the US Senate that the panel be closed down. He is not alone in this view. It seems, then, that it wouldn't be sensible for Australia to base its climate policy on advice from the now-discredited IPCC.

Humans certainly have an effect on local climate. For instance, the surrounds of Melbourne are now about 1C warmer than they were before European settlement. This, the urban heat island effect, is because modern metropolises comprise extensive areas of concrete, macadam, steel, bricks and glass, all of which act to trap more solar energy than did the preceding virgin landscape.

You might think that this effect, aggregated all over the world and added to by other landscape changes associated with modern agricultural practices, would produce the human-caused global warming signature that the minister seems to be worrying about. You might think so. But truth to tell, and IPCC views notwithstanding, no global human temperature-change signal has yet been detected that stands out from the natural background vagaries of the climate system. And this despite worldwide expenditure of about $US50 billion on climate-related research since the early 1990s.

So, finally, it must be the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that's worrying the minister, who says he has "spent an enormous amount of my time getting to understand the problem and getting to understand the solutions", noting that the world's carbon levels began spiking alarmingly in the 1950s and were headed for dangerously high levels. But why is the minister worried about this? Dangerously high? Is this more IPCC mythology? All the evidence is that atmospheric carbon dioxide is beneficial to the ecology of the planet. There have been many times in the geological past when carbon dioxide levels exceeded those of today by up to an order of magnitude. The main result was lush plant growth and a diversified ecology.

The minister may be right to assert that the debate on climate change is over. But only in two ways: that contemporary climate change is proceeding in the same manner as known earlier episodes of natural climate change; and that any human-caused global climate signature is buried in the noise of the climate system.


Books that question the conventional wisdom on the environment

As summarized by MICHAEL CRICHTON

1. "Playing God in Yellowstone" by Alston Chase (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986).

That raw sewage bubbles out of the ground at Yellowstone National Park--after more than a century of botched conservation--would come as no surprise to Alston Chase, who 20 years ago wrote "Playing God in Yellowstone: The Destruction of America's First National Park." Mr. Chase, a former professor of philosophy turned journalist, presents a clear critique of ever-changing environmental beliefs and the damage that they have caused the actual environment. As a philosopher, he is contemptuous of much conventional wisdom and the muddle-headed attitudes he calls "California cosmology."

2. "The Culture Cult" by Roger Sandall (Westview, 2001).

In "The Culture Cult: Designer Tribalism and Other Essays," anthropologist Roger Sandall explores romantic primitivism--the myth of Eden and the Noble Savage. Mr. Sandall's histories of utopian communities (Robert Owen's New Harmony, John Humphrey Noyes's disastrous Oneida) are vivid, and his portraits of leading primitivists, from Rousseau to Mead to Levi-Strauss, are sharply drawn. This ignorant nostalgia for our tribal past ignores the truly horrific reality of tribal initiation, warfare, mutilation and human sacrifice.

3. "Man in the Natural World" by Keith Thomas (Oxford, 1984).

Don't be put off by the academic title of Keith Thomas's "Man in the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800." The book's a delight. Mr. Thomas's account is both detailed and charming as he guides the reader from the Tudor view, that nature was made for man to exploit, through the later sense that nature was to be worshipped and cherished (such that trees became pets and aristocrats gave names to their great estate trees and said good-night to them each evening). Still later came the Romantic preference for untouched nature and rough settings, a rarified taste that required "a long course of aesthetic education." At every turn, Mr. Thomas emphasizes the contradictions between belief and behavior.

4. "The Skeptical Environmentalist" by Bjrn Lomborg (Cambridge University Press, 2002).

No one should miss Bjrn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist." The author, a Danish statistician and former Greenpeace activist, set out to disprove the views of the late Julian Simon, who claimed that environmental fears were baseless and that the world was actually improving. To Mr. Lomborg's surprise, he found that Simon was mostly right. Mr. Lomborg's text is calm and devastating to established dogma.

5. "The Logic of Failure" by Dietrich Doerner (Perseus, 1998).

Future environmentalists will heed Dietrich D"rner's "The Logic of Failure." Mr. Doerner is a cognitive psychologist who invited academic experts to manage the computer simulations of various environments (an African herding society, a town in Maine). Most experts made things worse. Those managers who did well gathered information before acting, thought in terms of complex-systems interactions instead of simple linear cause and effect, reviewed their progress, looked for unanticipated consequences, and corrected course often. Those who did badly relied on a fixed theoretical approach, did not correct course and blamed others when things went wrong. Mr. Doerner concludes that our failure to manage complex systems such as the environment reflects bad habits of thought, overreliance on theory and lazy procedures. His book is brief, cheerful and profound.


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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, October 30, 2005


The latest twist in the endless saga of Greenie nuttiness. These guys must have very little to do with themselves if they have time to worry about this stuff. I'll bet not many of them are raising families

Anti-globalists and environmentalists often decry the increasingly complex interactions between producers and consumers. They prefer that people buy products grown or made closer to home even when they cost substantially more than goods transported longer distances.

Take, for example, Locavores, a San Francisco-based "group of concerned culinary adventurers" who try to only eat foods that were grown within a hundred miles of that city. This summer the group suggested that people try to go the entire month of August without buying food produced more than that distance from home.

Locavores obviously has not heard of "roundabout methods of production" as described by Austrian economist Eugen von B”hm-Bawerk in the late 1800s. He concluded that productivity increases often result from more time-consuming methods of production. (See Economics for Real People by Gene Callahan, pp. 133-37, for a short explanation of the concept.)

The only reason a longer production process would be adopted is because it is more economically efficient than the alternatives. In a developed economy most of the direct approaches to increased productivity have already been tried and only the roundabout ones remain to be pursued.

The Locavores claim that our food travels an average of 1,500 miles en route to our homes. They do not cite a source, but that seems reasonable to me. Sound economic reasons have caused food-supply chains to lengthen over the past 50 years. Most of the population growth of the United States over that time has been in the coastal states, while much of the best farmland is in the heartland of the country. People have chosen to live in suburbs with more living space, which means that land which 50 years ago could have grown locally produced food now is unavailable for food production.

As family incomes have gone up over that time, we have sought out more varied diets. People in Boston have grown accustomed to Florida orange juice and California whole oranges. We also want oranges 365 days a year, not just as a Christmas treat, as was common a few generations ago. Chilean grapes are available in my suburban-Chicago grocery store in the middle of the winter. Consumers in Minneapolis would have a pretty bland diet in January if all their food came from within a hundred miles.

The supply chain has also lengthened because North Dakota is simply a better place to grow high-protein wheat for pasta than is Florida. Economies of scale in production and processing also create longer supply chains. Many places in the country could grow processing pumpkins, but about 60 percent of the harvested acreage is in central Illinois because that provides the greatest economic efficiencies.

What is true in the United States is even truer in the rest of the world. Our country is blessed with some of the best farmland in the world, a varied climate, and a large population. Try anything close to the locavore approach in Tokyo or Helsinki, and it would be a disaster.

The Locavores website makes obvious that their concerns are broader than just eating locally to get fresh food. The members believe that corporations are the principal beneficiaries of the global food system rather than family farms, local businesses, and consumers. In reality, corporations serve as a vital link between crop and livestock producers and consumers. A family hog farmer in central Nebraska needs some type of business, such as a corporation, to transform a hog into a pork crop and transport it to consumers on the West Coast. Local firms in central Nebraska would be out of business without an intermediary linking farmers to consumers in far off cities.

More here

Facts catch the loudmouths on the hop

The keen defence of kangaroos means real dangers to native animals are overlooked, writes a really sincere environmentalist -- Barry Cohen. Barry Cohen was an Australian federal legislator from 1969 until 1990. He recently sold his feral-animal-proof wildlife sanctuary on the Central Coast, which was created to show that the exclusion of cats and foxes would ensure native wildlife would not only survive, but thrive.

On my first trip to Britain as federal environment minister, having just announced the 1984 annual kangaroo cull quota of 2 million, I was unprepared for the reception at my London hotel. A seven-metre-high inflatable kangaroo and a sign, "MR COHEN THE KANGAROO KILLER IS IN TOWN", greeted me.

I asked the protester what concerned him. "This Cohen fellow is massacring Australia's national symbol. They'll soon be extinct," he bellowed. "Which species do you object to Australia culling?" He looked at me blankly. "Do you know how many species there are?" After a long silence he answered, "Three? Five?"

"Close. There are 51 species of kangaroos (macropods) of which seven are believed to be extinct with many others rare, endangered or vulnerable. Smaller species, under five kilograms, such as the parma, yellow foot, brushtail and bridle nail-tailed rock wallabies, are very rare and highly protected. The species culled are the eastern and western grey kangaroos, the red kangaroo, the wallaroo, whiptail, agile and Bennett's wallaby. Increased crops, pastures and dams and the lack of natural predators ensures these larger species are often in their tens of millions and in plague proportions. If we didn't control their numbers there wouldn't be any farmers left."

He looked at me with disbelief. "How do you know all this?" "I'm Barry Cohen."

Discussion elicited that he had been fed "information" by some Australian conservation organisations. The lies some told were legendary, their predictions grotesque. Foremost among the predictions was the imminent extinction of the "kangaroo". It never happened. A few years ago the cull quota rose to about 7 million. This year, it's just under 4 million.

When their dire predictions failed to eventuate the conservationists talked of the inhumane methods of killing. One fanatic produced a photograph of a kangaroo supposedly skinned alive to save the cost of a bullet. I suggested she try catching a kangaroo and skinning it alive. Not surprisingly, the tabloid press and TV had a field day.

I had thought this nonsense had finished but with the release of the book Kangaroos: Myths and Realities, by the Australian Wildlife Protection Council, the usual suspects surfaced mouthing the same old cliches. No one ever asks them the obvious question: "You were predicting the extinction of the kangaroo 40 years ago, yet despite an annual cull quota averaging about 3 to 4 million the population of the culled species is still in the tens of millions. How is that?"

I loathe this nonsense because of the damage it does to the cause of the preservation of species that are genuinely endangered - the small species - and the failure by governments to tackle the problem of the introduced predators - cats and foxes - that are also destroying a vast array of native wildlife including birds, reptiles and amphibians. More than 20 years ago the NSW government, under pressure from the anti-fox-fur lobby, abolished the bounty on fox skins. The fox population exploded. The effect on native wildlife was devastating. I take a different view from the animal liberationists. Every woman who wears a fox fur should get an Order of Australia medal.

And then there are cats. Beautiful creatures, but they have no place in the Australian bush. No matter how well fed, they are natural hunters. You can have cats or native wildlife; you can't have both. Fortunately, a more environmentally aware generation is opting not to have cats as pets. Don't, however, hold your breath waiting for politicians or conservationists to call for action against cats. One politician in Western Australia did and was pilloried. Foxes and cats do more damage to our native wildlife than all the farmers, loggers, miners and developers put together. The latter do their share of damage but don't come close to that wrought by the ferals.

The danger from the latest outburst against the scientifically determined kangaroo cull is that it will divert attention from the task of preserving genuinely endangered native wildlife.

One More Chance For Sound Energy Policy

As debate begins in the U.S. Senate on an energy bill, government needs to remove barriers outside of Hurricane Alley that restrict domestic energy production and refining that would benefit consumers, according to NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett, noting that private firms both prepared for and responded to the recent hurricanes better and with more effectiveness than governments.

"The moratorium on new oil and gas development and production along the Atlantic shelf and California must end, and we must move forward with production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)," Burnett said. "A disruption in the supply of energy, especially gasoline, as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has highlighted a problem that policy makers have ignored for too long." A bill has already passed the House of Representatives, but contains several potential pitfalls, Burnett explained:

* The House bill does not provide for expanding energy production outside the Gulf of Mexico.

* Political road blocks - federal, state and local - continue to inhibit expansion, even though market conditions were already encouraging companies to seek out new opportunities.

* Allowing new refineries to be built on public lands could preempt state and local restrictions, but the bill should make it clear that any leasing arrangements should be done at market rates with subsidies.

Burnett also pointed out that new energy legislation need not address price gouging, since government already has the power to investigate such behavior through the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies and, indeed, an investigation of pricing following the devastation from Katrina and Rita is already underway. Based on past experience, another study of the issue will be a waste of scarce federal resources at a time when money and manpower are scarce. "There is very little that can be done short-term to improve America's energy prospects in the short term," Burnett added, but allowing states to share the wealth from new energy development off their coasts is a good start to correcting these errors."



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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, October 29, 2005


The research abstracted below shows that decreased snow cover is a major CAUSE of regional warming in the Arctic. But what causes the decreased snow cover? The authors assert, of course, that it is our old villain, global warming. But, in very cold climates, the amount of precipitation is the major influence on what builds up on the ground so it seems likely that the reduced snow cover is the effect of reduced precipitation (snowfall) rather than anything else. And since global warming should INCREASE precipitation, that effect can hardly be traceable to global warming -- so is most probably traceable to more local climate cycles

Role of Land-Surface Changes in Arctic Summer Warming

By F. S. Chapin, III et al

A major challenge in predicting Earth's future climate state is to understand feedbacks that alter greenhouse-gas forcing. Here we synthesize field data from arctic Alaska, showing that terrestrial changes in summer albedo contribute substantially to recent high-latitude warming trends. Pronounced terrestrial summer warming in arctic Alaska correlates with a lengthening of the snow-free season that has increased atmospheric heating locally by about 3 watts per square meter per decade (similar in magnitude to the regional heating expected over multiple decades from a doubling of atmospheric CO2). The continuation of current trends in shrub and tree expansion could further amplify this atmospheric heating by two to seven times.


Some realism about the inevitability of nuclear power from an editorial in "The Scotsman"

There were floods in Hawick this week. Not quite Hurricane Katrina, but with basking sharks invading Scottish waters we all know our climate is doing funny things. A consensus has emerged over the past couple of decades that it is best to be safe rather than sorry in this situation. So public policy has moved in the direction of redirecting the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which scientists have implicated as a possible factor behind global warming. But just how serious are our politicians about cutting carbon dioxide emissions? Do they really mean it or is it just playing to the gallery? And how committed are the various environmental pressure groups to making the many political compromises needed to effect change in the energy market? Are they players or merely utopians who reject any compromise solution - which is no solution at all.

The facts speak for themselves. The Blair government has set a target for achieving 10 per cent of Britain's energy from renewable sources by 2010. however we can barely manage 4 per cent, & most of it from large-scale hydro-electric plants which the environmental lobby would oppose if built today. Wind power is the only practical renewable technology available in the timeframe but it struggles to produce 0.5 per cent of electrical power after 15 years of development at enormous public subsidy. Besides the environmental lobby has now turned its guns against shore-based wind turbines. Lesson: the government will not meet its 2010 renewable energy target as the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, hinted loudly in his speech to the Labour Party conference a few weeks ago.

In Scotland, championed by the environmental minister, Ross Finnie, illusions regarding renewable power illusions are even more fanciful. Scotland has the advantage of the great hydroelectric schemes built in the 1940s & 1950s, which provide around 13% of our electric needs. Rather than build on this legacy in a sensible fashion, Mr Finnie has set an absurd target of generating 40 per cent of power generation needs provided by renewables in 2020. This makes the Executive - especially its Liberal Democratic part - look heroic to the more impressionable part wing of the environmental lobby. However any sensible observer realises Mr Finnie's figure is either hopelessly farfetched or a cynical ploy be a politician who won't be around in 15 years time when it is exposed as a fraud.

A look at the small print of the Executive's policy on renewables reveals it is premised on the untenable assumption that future growth in energy demand is limited to between zero and 1% per annum. But governments of all parties have championed energy conservation in Britain for 30 years only to see demand soar by 60%. Electricity demand in the United Kingdom rises at 1-1.5% a year. Unless Mr Finnie plans to knock down most of Scotland's houses over the next 15 years & rebuild them with a serious eye to energy conservation you can forget the 40% figure. Even if Mr Finnie did succeed in his plans, renewable energy is substantially more expensive than other forms of generation. Household bills would skyrocket, while what is left of Scottish industry would be put at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Fortunately a little common sense has started to break out in government circles in the past few weeks, especially at Westminster. Mr Blair has begun a not-so-subtle campaign to put nuclear power back on the agenda as an alternative that renewables or conservation can do the job of cutting down on fossil fuel emissions fast enough to help with global climate change.

A clue as to how serious the Prime Minister is can be found in the fact that that the Department of Trade & Industry has recently confirmed it has been holding preliminary talks with major nuclear utilities in Germany & France. The DTI has already identified 3 sites to host new reactors, including Hunterston in Ayrshire. That puts Scotland squarely in the nuclear frame.

Not for the first time, the Executive is prevaricating. The Hunterston B nuclear power station in Ayrshire is set to close in 2011, while Torness in East Lothian will last until around 2020. Together they supply some 20% of Scotland's electricity. Take them out of the game & renewable will have to fill even more than that impossible 40% target. Unless new nuclear stations are commissioned, the reality is that Britain & Scotland are going to have to burn a lot more expensive, imported natural gas. So much for cutting fossil fuel emissions. So much for security of energy supply.

The conclusion is inescapable: if we want to cut fossil fuel emission in a reasonable timeframe, the only practical policy is to build a new generation of nuclear generating plant. Others are thinking this way too. China plans to build 30 new reactors by 2020, while environmentally-conscious Finland has already broken Europe's long moratorium on commissioning atomic power stations.

The latest designs of nuclear plant embody passive safety systems that do not require human intervention in the case of an accident. The Chernobyl reactor on the other hand, relied on human operating procedures which were violated. The new reactors are also much more economical to build, operate & maintain than the current generation.

Long term waste storage remains an issue, but if there is a choice to be made it is surely more to cut the fossil fuel emissions now and sort out the nuclear waste at our leisure. Half a loaf is always better than nothing to a starving man. It is just such hard political choices that the Executive has to start making.


Revised EU climate change programme launched

The second European programme includes road transport, aviation and shipping, plus carbon capture and storage, for the first time. The programme will form part of the EU’s strategy on climate change after 2012, which will include setting new targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Commission plans to develop its climate change programme by bringing new sectors under carbon management, including shipping, light-duty vehicles and aviation - which is also due to be included in the EU emissions trading scheme. The Commission wants a “strong push for innovation” in new technologies such as carbon capture and storage, and in “adaptation to those aspects of climate change that are unavoidable”.

Four working groups will report to the Commission next spring on: The existing climate change programme: This includes EU Directives that seek to reduce energy demand and change the energy mix, plus the contribution of agriculture, transport and greenhouse gases other than CO2. The Commission plans to issue a policy paper on the review by mid-2006. Carbon capture and storage: The technology’s potential, costs and risks will be examined, plus the outline of a regulatory framework that would encourage its development. A Commission Communication is planned by early 2007. Aviation and how it should be incorporated into the emissions trading scheme. Reducing emissions from light-duty vehicles. A fifth working group will report in September 2006 on measures to help the EU adapt to climate change, including the likely impacts on land, agriculture and water resources, and on human health and habitation.

The existing climate change programme: This includes EU Directives that seek to reduce energy demand and change the energy mix, plus the contribution of agriculture, transport and greenhouse gases other than CO2. The Commission plans to issue a policy paper on the review by mid-2006. Carbon capture and storage: The technology’s potential, costs and risks will be examined, plus the outline of a regulatory framework that would encourage its development. A Commission Communication is planned by early 2007. Aviation and how it should be incorporated into the emissions trading scheme. Reducing emissions from light-duty vehicles. A fifth working group will report in September 2006 on measures to help the EU adapt to climate change, including the likely impacts on land, agriculture and water resources, and on human health and habitation.



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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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, October 28, 2005


California water-quality enforcers have agreed to drop all allegations of wrongdoing against the world's largest cheese factory in the biggest water pollution case in Central Valley history, according to a tentative settlement released Tuesday. In exchange, Hilmar Cheese Co. of Merced County will pay $3 million to be divided between the state and a Hilmar-commissioned study of groundwater pollution of the food processing industry as a whole, according to the agreement. The pact becomes effective upon approval by the politically appointed members of the state Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, which is scheduled to consider it at a Nov. 28-29 meeting in Sacramento.

Settlement talks began six weeks ago after Hilmar launched a vigorous legal defense against a $4 million penalty, the largest the environmental enforcement agency has levied in the Central Valley. The penalty followed a Sacramento Bee investigation showing that the company saved millions of dollars by delaying required wastewater treatment. Neighbors of the plant south of Turlock have complained of hordes of flies and putrid odors coming off fields of milky waste. The factory produces more than 1 million pounds of cheese daily.

The agreement effectively acknowledges the company's key argument that the water board's pollution limits were technologically impractical to meet, considerably relaxing for the interim restrictions on salinity in Hilmar's wastewater. The settlement explicitly releases Hilmar from all allegations, not only those raised by the water-quality regulators, but also allegations of criminal wrongdoing - including illegally dumping wastewater into an irrigation canal. The criminal allegations were under investigation by the attorney general's office, which determined in July it would not file charges. In all, the settlement shifts the enforcement spotlight away from its wastewater disposal practices to those of food processors statewide, many of which operate under less restrictive pollution limits. "We are embracing this settlement because it sets the foundation for solutions to the issues that plague the entire food processing industry in the Valley," said John Jeter, Hilmar's chief operating officer.

Attorneys for the regional water board accepted the settlement "to avoid the uncertainty and expense of protracted litigation, and for Hilmar to focus its resources and efforts instead on seeking solutions to salinity issues confronting the Central Valley and other areas of the state," the agreement states.

The enforcement action against the cheese maker spotlighted the salty wastes from lightly regulated cheese manufacturers in the nation's No. 1 dairy state along with the factory leftovers that wineries, canneries and other food processors routinely spread on land. Industry representatives say the wastes break down as they percolate through the soil, keeping harmful levels of salts and other pollutants out of groundwater. Hilmar Cheese's own pollution tests in the past 15 years, however, showed otherwise, The Bee found. And state water board regulators said that the more they look, the more they find high levels of salinity in the groundwater beneath other waste fields of food processors.

The settlement requires Hilmar to dedicate $1 million of its $3 million payment to studying ways food processors can reduce salinity in wastewater. Although the salts, sugars and organic wastes from food processors are not considered toxic, [Salt and sugar not toxic! Phew! Glad we found that out] high levels can render groundwater economically untreatable for drinking water and irrigation.

The agreement states that the study "will not directly benefit" state water-quality regulators. "We're not directing the study, but we're hopeful that it will be beneficial across the board to government, to industry and to the public," said Catherine George, an attorney with the regional water board. The settlement payment also includes $1.85 million to the state for water pollution cleanups and $150,000 to reimburse the attorney general's office for helping the water board fend off Hilmar's legal challenges.



The truth is, the number and scale of disasters worldwide has been rising rapidly in recent decades because of changes in society, not global warming. In the case of hurricanes, the continuing development and urbanization of coastal regions around the world accounts for all of the increases in economic and human losses that we have experienced.

Even if tomorrow we could somehow magically put an end to global warming, the frequency and magnitude of climate-related disasters would continue to rise unabated into the indefinite future as more people inhabit vulnerable locations around the world. Our research suggests that for every $1 of future hurricane damage that scientists expect in 2050 related to climate change, we should expect an additional $22 to $60 in damage resulting from putting more people and property in harm's way.

None of this means that we should not pursue reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or that mitigating climate change is a bad idea. But we simply cannot expect to control the climate's behavior through energy policies aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

The current international policy framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions - the Kyoto Protocol - is far too modest to have any meaningful effect on the behavior of the climate system. And even the modest agreements reached under Kyoto are failing.

For example, the European Environment Agency reported in 2004 that 11 of the 15 European Union signatories to Kyoto "are heading toward overshooting their emission targets, some by a substantial margin." And the other four are meeting their targets only because of non-repeatable circumstances, such as Britain's long-term move away from coal-based energy generation. To make matters much worse, most of the growth in emissions in coming decades will occur in rapidly industrializing nations such as China and India, which are exempt from Kyoto targets.

To make matters still worse, because of the way that greenhouse gases behave in the atmosphere, even emissions reductions far more rapid and radical than those mandated under Kyoto would have little or no effect on the behavior of the climate for decades. As James Hurrell, a scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, testified before the U.S. Senate in July, "It should be recognized that [emissions reductions actions] taken now mainly have benefits 50 years and beyond now."

The implications are clear: More storms like Katrina are inevitable. And the effects of future Katrinas and Ritas will be determined not by our efforts to manage changes in the climate but by the decisions we make now about where and how to build and rebuild in vulnerable locations.

Do we have the will to pay the upfront economic and political costs of strict building-code enforcement and prudent land-use restrictions? Will we have the imagination to build resilience into the local economy, rewarding companies that find ways to preserve jobs after a disaster and contribute to a faster recovery? Do we have the decency to counter the market forces that cause poor people to live in the most vulnerable areas?

As we learn the lessons of this terrible hurricane season, the answers we give to these kinds of questions will create the conditions that determine the effects of future hurricanes. We are, that is, about to begin the process of managing the next disaster. What kind of disaster do we want it to be?

More here


Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the muscular headliners of this hurricane season, are just a preview of what to expect in coming years: More powerful storms. And the trend could span decades.... "We are solidly into one of these active periods," said Colin McAdie, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center. "We're figuring we're 10 years into this one. We could be looking at 10 to 20 more years."

That means next year, and the years after that, could be just as scary as this one, with mega-storms taking aim at Florida, the Carolinas or the Gulf Coast, spiking the anxiety levels of those in their path.

Hurricanes feed on warm water and scientists say the pattern of increased storm frequency and strength is caused by a cyclical rise in ocean temperatures. Besides fueling more powerful hurricanes, a higher number of storms means more of them will be stronger. "Certainly, with more frequency of active systems, we can see a lot more chances to have more intense hurricanes," said another storm forecaster, Chris Sisko.

The cycles commonly run about 25 to 30 years, scientists say, but can vary and see breaks of as much as a decade. The current cycle started around 1995. Prior to then, from 1975 to 1995, only four major hurricanes, defined as a Category 3 or higher, impacted the state. "In the `70s and `80s," McAdie said, "people were saying, `I guess we don't get hurricanes any more.'"

By contrast, 23 hurricanes hit South Florida alone during the last cycle of high hurricane activity, from 1926 to 1965. Of those storms, 15 were major ones. "We had about a 40-year period when it was very busy," said meteorologist Chris Landsea with the National Hurricane Center. During that cycle, on Labor Day 1935, a Category 5 hurricane hit the Florida Keys....

A cycle of warm ocean water fuels individual storms like Rita, and gives rise to stronger hurricanes during high activity cycles such as the present one. Researchers say a higher salt content in the Atlantic causes the water to become more dense, which in turn causes the water to grow warmer, perhaps by as much as a degree. That single degree can make a difference in whether a tropical wave rolling across the sea will develop into a devastating hurricane.

Researchers have yet to decipher the rhythm of the storm cycles. "The oceanographers are looking into that, trying to understand that," Landsea said. Contrary to speculation, the cycles may not result from human-induced global warming. Prevailing scientific opinion says global warming has little or nothing to do with the trend. "The science is not settled on that," McAdie said. "It's an open question."

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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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, October 27, 2005


Biotechnology holds the promise of some day allowing people to enhance themselves and their children using pharmaceuticals or genetic interventions. This prospect is welcomed by some, but causes a great deal of anxiety in many people: Are there enhancements whose benefits would come at the price of our humanity?

The President's Council on Bioethics worries that people who choose to use biotech enhancements would somehow lose themselves: The Council's report "Beyond Therapy" warns "we risk 'turning into someone else,' confounding the identity we have acquired through natural gift cultivated by genuinely lived experiences, alone and with others." Liberal bioethicist George Annas from Boston University is pushing for a global treaty that would ban all inheritable modifications to any person's genetic makeup. He favors such a treaty because he believes that "species-altering genetic engineering [is] a potential weapon of mass destruction, and [that] makes the unaccountable genetic engineer a potential bioterrorist." These are not objections grounded in concerns about safety or equity, but in the fear that such changes threaten the very humanity of those who choose them. But do they really?

At the annual conference of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences last month, George Washington University philosopher David DeGrazia offered a quite different perspective. DeGrazia, who was participating in panel discussion on "Genetic Engineering and the Concept of Human Nature" asked: Are there core characteristics of being human that are inviolable? He concluded that "traits that are plausibly targeted by enhancement are not problematic." DeGrazia considered several traits as candidates for inviolability: internal psychological style, personality, general intelligence and memory, sleep, normal aging, gender, and being a member of the species Homo sapiens. He then systematically demolished various concerns that had been raised about each.

Regarding psychological style, there is no ethical reason to require that a particular person remain worried, suspicious, or downbeat if they want to change. As DeGrazia pointed out, psychotherapy already aims at such self-transformation. If a pill will make a person more confident and upbeat, then there is no reason for them not to use it if they wish. Personality is perhaps the external manifestation of one's internal psychological style, and here, too, it's hard to think of any ethical basis for requiring someone to remain cynical or excessively shy.

But what about boosting intelligence and memory? Of course, from childhood on, we are constantly exhorted to improve ourselves by taking more classes, participating in more job training, and reading good books. Opponents of biotech enhancements might counter that all of these methods of improvement manipulate our environments and do not reach to the genetic cores of our beings. DeGrazia points out that that the wiring of our brains is the result of the interaction between our genes and our environment. For example, our intellectual capacities depend on proper nutrition as well as on our genetic endowments. DeGrazia concludes that one's genome is not fundamentally more important than environmental factors. "They are equally important, so we should bear in mind that no one objects to deliberately introducing environmental factors [schools and diet] that promote intelligence," declares DeGrazia. It does not matter ethically whether one's intellectual capacities are boosted by schooling, a pill, or a set of genes.

All vertebrates sleep. Sleep, unlike cynicism, does seem biologically fundamental, but so what? Nature is not really a reliable source for ethical norms. If a person could safely reduce her need for sleep and enjoy more waking life, that wouldn't seem at all ethically problematic. I suspect that our ancestors without artificial light got a lot more sleep than we moderns do, yet history doesn't suggest that they were morally superior to us.

As everyone knows, the only inevitabilities are taxes and death. Death used to come far more frequently at younger ages, but globally average life expectancy has now risen from around 30 years in 1900 to about 66 years today. "Is normal aging an essential part of any recognizable human life?" asks DeGrazia. He falters here, admitting, "Frankly, I do not know how to determine whether aging is an inviolable characteristic." The question, then, is whether someone who does try to "violate" this characteristic by biotechnological means is acting unethically. It is hard to see why the answer would be yes. Such would-be immortals are not forcing other people to live or die, nor are they infringing on the rights and dignities of others. DeGrazia does recognize that biotech methods aimed at slowing or delaying aging significantly are not morally different from technologies that would boost intelligence or reduce the need for sleep. He concludes, "Even if aging is an inviolable core trait of human beings, living no more than a specified number of years is not."

In the age of transgendered people, it seems a bit outmoded to ask if one's biological sex is an inviolable core characteristic. Plenty of people have already eagerly violated it. Yet, the President's Council on Bioethics declared, "Every cell of the body marks us as either male or female, and it is hard to imagine any more fundamental or essential characteristic of a person." Clearly, thousands of people's fundamental sexual identities depend on more than the presence of an X or Y chromosome in their bodies' cells.

Finally, DeGrazia wonders if even being a member of the species Homo sapiens constitutes an inviolable core trait. He specifically thinks of a plausible future in which parents add an extra pair of artificial chromosomes carrying various beneficial genetic modifications to the genomes of the embryos that will become their children. Such people would have 48 chromosomes, which means that they could not reproduce with anyone who carries the normal 46 chromosomes. "It seems to me, however, that these individuals would still be 'human' in any sense that might be normatively important," concludes DeGrazia. I believe that DeGrazia is correct. After all, infertile people today are still fully human. Oddly, DeGrazia thinks that this "risk to reproductive capacities" might warrant restricting the installation of extra chromosomes to consenting adults only. But why should one think that a person with 48 chromosomes who falls in love with a person with only 46 chromosomes can't simply use advanced genetic engineering techniques to overcome that problem?

DeGrazia convincingly argues that whatever it is that makes us fundamentally us is not captured by the set of characteristics he considers. The inviolable core of our identities is the narrative of our lives—the sum of our experiences, enhanced or not. If we lose that core, say through dementia, we truly do lose ourselves. But whoever we are persists and perhaps even flourishes if we choose to use biotech to brighten our moods, improve our personalities, boost our intelligence, sleep less, live longer healthier lives, change our gender, or even join a new species.



In the 1970s, disco was groovy and Congress enacted a lot of counterproductive, over-regulatory energy policies. Subsequent years saw both polyester suits and command-and-control energy policy fall out of favor, to the nation’s benefit. The heavy hand of Uncle Sam, however, today still governs automakers with an outdated scheme called the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. In some quarters, disco is making a comeback, and similarly the bad ideas embodied in CAFE are also threatening to make another go-round on Capitol Hill.

Back in 1975, Congress responded to the 1973 OPEC oil embargo by creating the CAFE regulatory program. CAFE works by mandating a “sales-weighted mean” or average of the fuel economies for the fleets of new cars and light trucks that a manufacturer sells each year. As it currently stands, every automaker must meet a total average mileage requirement for their fleet of cars of 27.5 miles per gallon. For heavier trucks and SUVs, the standard is lower, rising from 21 mpg this year to 22.2 mpg in 2007. Got that?

In the face of rising gasoline and oil prices, some in Congress and the Administration are feeling the temptation to tighten the CAFE standards for U.S. automotive fleets.

In September, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a major tightening of CAFE for light trucks. And earlier this month, Sen. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee told The Hill newspaper that "…we must take another look at the CAFE standards” in the wake of Katrina. Tightening CAFE, however, would be a major policy blunder. In fact, CAFE needs to be substantially reformed or even repealed and replaced with market-based incentives to reduce fuel consumption and improve air quality.

First, CAFE has not really worked. America’s national “total fleet fuel economy” peaked in 1987 at 26.2 mpg and has been declining slightly since then, primarily because the nation prefers heavier and more powerful light trucks and SUVs, which have a lower fuel economy. Beyond consumer preference, CAFE also does not work in part because as cars become more fuel-efficient, we drive them further.

More troubling is the tragic unintended consequence of CAFE, which prompts automakers to build cars that are lighter and use less steel. The result is cars that are less safe, and the additional deaths of literally thousands of Americans on our roadways every year. A 1999 USA TODAY analysis of crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that CAFE standards have resulted in about 46,000 people dying in accidents where the victims would have survived if their cars had been bigger and heavier. That is an extraordinary loss of life and a largely untold story.

Many in Congress and the environmentalist movement, and their co-conspirators in the mainstream media, seem to care more about imposing misguided feel-good conservation measures on American motorists than protecting the lives of innocent drivers. It is outrageous that some of the biggest Congressional supporters of CAFE also oppose new drilling for U.S. oil in Alaska (drilling that can be done using modern techniques that minimize the environmental impact) and oppose construction of new oil and gas refineries. These politicians and their environmentalist supporters are making an explicit choice that values the false promise of CAFE over safer cars and trucks for American families.

CAFE was part of a number of ill-considered policy responses to the oil shock that also included lowering the national speed limit to 55 mph and imposing price controls on oil and gasoline. Price controls and the national speed limit were both foolish ideas and have been repealed, but sadly CAFE lives on.

The goals of CAFE are admirable, but there are much better ways to encourage conservative than mandating the design of automotive fleets. We will never be able to regulate our way to fuel economy. It is time to reform or repeal CAFE, and instead pass forward-thinking policy measures that use market mechanisms to advance the goal of conservation while also giving consumers more choice and safety. Let consumers choose and let markets work.



The excerpt below is from an environmentalist site

Two hugely challenging global issues have dominated the UK's Presidency of the G8 - climate change and Africa. So far, there is no doubt that the second has captured the limelight, in terms of public awareness, media attention, political progress and the effectiveness of campaign groups. Ashok Sinha is in a unique position to understand the interface between the two issues and, perhaps, to redress the balance. In the 1990s, his background as a physicist led him into research on renewable energy and climate change issues, culminating in work for Forum for the Future on solar power. "I'd always been interested and active in development issues, but not professionally," Dr Sinha says. "It's become clear that there is a need to bring together development and environment campaigns."

Four years ago, the chance came to put this thinking into practice when he took over as coordinator of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, a coalition of local and national groups campaigning for the cancellation of debt for the poorest countries. It built on the hugely successful Jubilee 2000 movement, which secured 24 million signatories for its petition.

More recently, Dr Sinha sat on the coordinating committee for Make Poverty History, the coalition set up to pressurise G8 leaders to deliver on third world debt and aid. Members of this coalition are concerned that they were sold short at July's Gleneagles summit - but even so, there is no doubt that the summit achieved much more for Africa than on climate change (ENDS Report 366, p 53 ).

Coming back to climate change issues as director of Stop Climate Chaos "wraps things together on a personal level," Dr Sinha says. "Climate change is the most cross-cutting, unifying moral issue of our time. No sector of society is unaffected - it brings together really hard questions on global energy security with working with community groups in sub-Saharan Africa to help them adapt."

Stop Climate Chaos, launched in September, is explicitly modelled on the Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History campaigns. "Jubilee 2000 is a great example of how it's possible to take a difficult issue that's widely seen as remote and detailed, and effect change by pooling resources, developing a diverse but common platform, and taking a strong moral stance," Dr Sinha says.

The new climate movement employs only three people, but its mission is ambitious: "To build a massive coalition that will create an irresistible public mandate for political action to stop climate change." The coalition will draw strength from supporting organisations. So far it has won backing from 18 campaign groups, representing several million supporters. Major environmental groups - Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF and the RSPB - are key players. But other participants include large development groups such as Oxfam, Cafod and Christian Aid, together with several faith organisations and the National Federation of Women's Institutes.

Dr Sinha argues that the breadth of the coalition is one of its key strengths. "We've got to turn climate change from an environmental question to a moral imperative, the same way we did with third world debt and poverty. If we continue to be seen as 'green' we're not going to be successful - we've got to break out of the green ghetto." .....

The launch of Stop Climate Chaos coincided with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The images of a flooded New Orleans, and scenes of the world's superpower struggling to cope with a climatic disaster, provided a powerful reminder of the potential impacts of global warming. Stop Climate Chaos took out a full-page advert in the Times under the headline "Global warning". "We can't be sure Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming," the advert read. "But without urgent action to slash greenhouse gas emissions we can expect hurricanes as powerful as Katrina to occur more often."


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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, October 26, 2005


The following moan is about a capital city (Adelaide) of an Australian State but I am sure similar moans are coming from Greenies in many American cities too. The claim is that housing drives out wildlife -- and that claim is is just plain wrong. I live in an old inner-city suburb of another Australian State capital (Brisbane) and over the years people have planted or let grow on their properties all sorts of trees and other greenery -- so that there are in fact many more trees than houses -- and many of them are towering trees at that. And all sorts of wildlife have taken up residence in the habitats so provided. I hear all sorts of bird calls of a morning, possums thunder around in my roof at night so much that I would be scared stiff if I was not used to them. I have a blue-tongue lizard living under my front stairs that occasionally frightens my Asian tenants to death (although it is of course harmless), I once had to rescue one of my Indian tenants from a large moth that had fluttered into his room and was terrifying him and a large python (about 8' long) recently took up residence in one of the toilets here. And I see little geckoes scuttling about nearly every day. And as for tadpoles, there are plenty of toads about so all of them would have been tadpoles once. And we won't mention the spiders and wasps.

The land may have originally have been cleared but it has been recolonized with a vengeance over the last 100 years. No doubt the pattern of species at present is different to what it once was but there is life abundant here nonetheless. The passage I have highlighted in red reveals the authoritarian intentions behind this massively overblown scare

"Seventy-five of the state's top scientists have issued an alarming warning that unless attitudes change towards Adelaide's environment, it will become an "urban wasteland" devoid of much of the plant and animal life existing today. In a groundbreaking new book, to be launched next month, the team of scientists claims that by 2036 Adelaide's range of naturally occuring flora and fauna could be reduced from thousands of species to about 100.

Adelaide, Nature of a City is the largest biodiversity analysis of a city done in the world. A team of historians, geographers, architects, biologists and social scientists spent the past three years documenting the city as a living, breathing environment. Co-editor of the book and environmental biology professor Chris Daniels says a loss of biodiversity could make quality of life "appalling". "Children could grow up in a community that's free of our natural environment, so they don't get exposed to blue tongues and tadpoles," he says. "If we lose contact with the environment, our children could grow up thinking concrete and bricks is all there is. I don't think life would be worth anything, the quality of life would be appalling."

The study comes as Adelaide's urban sprawl - now stretching across 80km in mainly single storey housing - has reached proportions exceeding Rome, Mexico and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). The book finds that if Adelaide continues to develop without being sympathetic to the natural environment: WEEDS such as boneseed and feral olive trees will continue to overtake parks and open areas; NATIVE animals will empty from national parks; Thousands of animal species today could be reduced to a meagre 50 species of birds, 16 species of mammals, 20 reptile species and as few as two frog species by 2036.

But the authors of Adelaide, Nature of a City stress while the predictions are dire, the 600-page book empowers people to do something about it - but we need to act now. Dr Daniels said poor planning, a lack of open space, habitat clearance and new housing and city office developments which failed to consider biodiversity were killing the natural environment. "For years we have been driving out our plant and animal life, building without thinking about how it will affect the ecology," Dr Daniels said. "We are building sprawling developments, clearing native habitats and creating tiny backyards. And when we compare our open space to other cities it is not as impressive as we might think." As the cityscape becomes more dense, residential blocks decrease in size and inner city living becomes more popular, there is less green space. Already, Adelaide is the most urbanised Australian city with 1.1 million of the 1.3 million South Australians living in the metropolitan area between the Hills and the sea.

In order to avoid a desolate future, people had to realise their backyards and parks interacted with native ecosystems and had a profound impact on local biodiversity, Dr Daniels said. "What you plant, clear, build and tear down could be the difference between a species' survival and extinction. To be visionary, we must be conservationists." "

More here


A new report by economic consultancy Castalia reiterates and amplifies earlier warnings about the cost to the economy of attempts to meet greenhouse emission goals set out by the Kyoto accord, saying significant social and economic dislocations are in the cards should the government make a serious compliance attempt. The report was prepared by Castalia for the Greenhouse Policy Coalition, an industry association representing energy intensive companies on greenhouse gas and climate change issues. Last year, Castalia prepared an immensely controversial report saying the government had massively underestimated the costs of Kyoto compliance. Rubbished at the time by the government, the report has since been validated in its central points.

Author of that -- and this -- report, Alex Sundakov, says until new technologies have been developed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use and agriculture, it will be impossible to reduce emissions in New Zealand if we want to continue to grow our economy. “With nearly half our greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture, where there are no easy solutions, it will be very expensive if we have to try to wring the required national emission reductions out of the remaining sectors of the economy”, he said. “In addition, increasing CO2 emissions from transport are closely related to economic growth.”

He says another factor is that industrial process emissions are all associated with sectors that are globally mobile, so companies can move their operations to countries where they would not face carbon taxes and price based measures. The result would be a loss of business for New Zealand - the emissions simply moving to another country.

The Castalia report notes that New Zealand already has a large amount of renewables in our electricity generation system (hydro, wind, geothermal) and looking into the future, we have more thermal than renewable options to meet increasing demand for electricity. The report says the economic growth that New Zealand has enjoyed recently has been and will continue to be driven by the industrial processing/commodity exporting sectors and tourism, and while these are energy intensive activities this does not mean we are inefficient in our use of energy.

“We can not let climate change policies put a handbrake on the economy when we produce only 0.2 per cent of global emissions, half of which are from agriculture which is still the backbone of the economy," said Catherine Beard, executive director of the Greenhouse Policy Coalition. She said it is clear that price based measures like carbon taxes or carbon trading will do nothing in the absence of alternative technologies to reduce emissions, rather they will be a drag on the economy. “Even Britain’s Tony Blair has recently conceded that technology is the answer to the problem and that no country will willingly sacrifice its economic growth." She said the Asia Pacific Partnership -- a partnership between Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States of America -- represents nearly half the world’s population and 48 per cent of global emissions. "They are investing in technology solutions – we need to ask is this a more effective path for New Zealand to take?," she asked.


Why 'Green Bunnies' will always be 'Unhappy Bunnies' (or the rage of impotence).....

(A post lifted from Prof. Stott)

I'm so glad I am not an ecofundamentalist. To be a 'Green Bunny' is to doom oneself to perpetual unhappiness, frustration, and anger with your fellow human beings and the state of the world. The reason is simple. Ecofundamentalism is utopian (and remember "utopia" means "nowhere"). People will just not do what you demand. You are never going to achieve even a smidgen of your desires, and whatever you do manage to squeeze from a reluctant and unconvinced populace, you will always, like Oliver Twist, be left wanting more.

'Global warming' is the classic instance. Forget the science. The real drive for 'global warming' has always been a neo-puritan agenda to limit growth, to make small beautiful, to reduce population to some nebulous optimum, to rein in the 'Great Satan' (America), to crush the car and aeroplanes, to curb capitalism and globalisation, to continue to laud it over the developing world, especially those rampant Asian dragons, and to return us all to a 'Golden Organic Age' that never was. So powerful is 'global warming' as a legitimising 'science' for this deeply emotional agenda that there is no way the 'Green Bunnies' can drop it, whatever the scientific, economic, and political realities. The burrow would collapse. I actually feel sorry for them.

For reality will always bring a cold chill to the burrow. As Mr. Blair reminded us only a couple of weeks ago, no country can afford to abandon growth, and debating globalisation in the face of Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, South Africa - you name them - is like arguing whether summer comes before autumn. Indeed, rising CO2 levels are little more than a proxy measure of much-needed growth.

The truth is that the 'Green Bunny' agenda is just not going to happen, whatever the column inches of angst and anger in The Guardian, The Independent, and on Channel 4 (watch out for the new digital spin-off channel, More4, which launches this Monday, the 10th). There will be no limits to growth. Humans will continue to outpace limitations through constant adaptation and technological wizardry. Population will continue to rise naturally to around 8.9 billion, before the curve flattens through normal economic processes, through increasing wealth, and, hopefully, through the empowerment of women. Overall, life expectancy will continue to rise, despite the inevitable setbacks of AIDS and other viruses.

We will also, of course, continue to be afflicted by an ever-unstable earth, with earthquake, fire and flood, although the evidence clearly indicates that the more wealthy the country, the less damage these inflict. But stuff happens; that's life on a restless planet. And, there may indeed be that ultimate supervolcano or asteroid about which we can do absolutely nothing but pour out the single malt.

The 'Green Bunnies' are silflaying in the wind, and their increasingly shrill squeaks will follow, one by one, a pattern outlined in a brilliant article in The Economist way back in 1997 (I précis):

In Phase 1, some obscure scientists discover what they think is a potential threat to the Earth. In Phase 2, left-wing journalists oversimplify and grossly exaggerate the threat. The scientists become minor celebrities (The Big Brother Lab?). In Phase 3, the 'Green Bunnies' seize their opportunity, and they deliberately aim to polarise the issue - in the words of the original article: "Either you agree that the world is about to come to an end and are fired by righteous indignation, or you are a paid lackey of big business." In Phase 4, the bureaucrats emerge out of their cocoons, with international conferences mooted, thus keeping public officials well plied with club-class tickets and treats abroad. This inevitably diverts the argument to regulation, and totemic targets are set - and then ignored. In Phase 5, it is time to pick on a scapegoat. This is usually America, or 'big business'. Phase 6 sees the entrance of the sceptics who declare that the scare is grossly exaggerated. Again, in the words of The Economist article: "This drives greens into paroxysms of pious rage. 'How dare you give space to fringe views?' cry these once-fringe people to newspaper editors." Phase 7 witnesses the politicians and bureaucrats, and even some of the scientists who first proposed the scare, waivering, and trying to re-emphasise the scientific and political complexities. Meanwhile, the journalists start to get bored with the topic. Phase 8 becomes the quiet climb-down, while the issue slowly dies away from the headlines, to be replaced, of course, by a totally new scare. "And so", as Samuel Pepys might have said, "Back to Phase 1"...

In the long run, to be a 'Green Bunny' is going to make you a very 'Unhappy Bunny' indeed. Rupert Bear's 'Nutwood' is but a childhood Utopia; 'Virtualia', by contrast, is a future we cannot even yet conceive.

And 'Green Bunny' anger (not to mention More4) is but the rage of impotence.

[For an excellent reader on Utopias see: The Faber Book of Utopias, ed. John Carey, Faber & Faber, 1999 (2000).]

Philip, academically intrigued by Utopian 'Golden Ages'. They always end in tears before bedtime.


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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, October 25, 2005


(Part of a summary of Kurzweil by the excellent Arnold Kling)

Labor productivity is perhaps the most important statistic in the economy. Over time, output per worker is what drives wage rates and the standard of living. Economists routinely forecast annual growth in U.S. labor productivity of roughly two percent for the next several decades. For example, the Trustees' Report for the Social Security Administration assumes productivity growth of 1.6 percent in its "intermediate" scenario.

To Kurzweil, this forecast would be ludicrously pessimistic. He would see it as an example of what he calls "intuitive linear" thinking, in which people forecast the future on the basis of a linear extrapolation of the past. For example, from 1960 through 1992, productivity growth in the nonfarm business sector averaged 1.6 percent. Accordingly, that may seem to be a reasonable rate of increase to project going forward.

However, since 1992, productivity growth has sped up. As this article from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco points out, "The performance of productivity in the U.S. economy has delivered some big surprises over the last several years. One surprise was in the latter half of the 1990s, when productivity growth surged to average an annual rate of over 3%, more than twice as fast as the rate in the previous two decades. A bigger surprise has been the further ratcheting up...productivity growth averaged around 3.8% for the 2001 through 2004 period." This good news on productivity rarely surfaces in the media. In part, this represents a general pessimistic bias in the media and among the population at large. In part, it reflects the inability of people to grasp nonlinear thinking.

Technological innovation is what drives productivity growth. Kurzweil argues that the rate of technological innovation is doubling every decade, which to me would imply that the rate of productivity growth will double every decade. If annual productivity growth was 3.5 percent in the decade ending in 2005, then it will be 7 percent in the decade ending in 2015 and 14 percent in the decade ending in 2025. By that time, productivity would be more than 7 times what it is today. Thus, if average income per person is $35,000 today, then it will be over $250,000 per person (in today's purchasing power) in 2025.

At a growth rate of 14 percent, output per person "only" doubles at a rate of about every 5 years. Using a more elegant mathematical model of technological change, George Mason University economist Robin Hanson arrives at an even more striking forecast. He writes, "we might see yet another transition to a much faster mode, if such faster modes are possible. The suggestion is fantastic, namely of a transition to a doubling time of two weeks or less sometime within roughly the next century."....

In The Great Race, an essay that reflects the influence of Kurzweil's earlier writings, I pointed out that a question going forward is whether the economy can grow faster than Medicare. I argued that Moore's Law favors the economy, but demographic and political considerations favor Medicare.

If output per person in 2025 is more than 5 times what it is today, then the economy will have won the race. That means that all of the concerns that economists raise about the middle of this century, such as the external debt of the U.S. economy (the cumulative trade deficit), the fiscal implications of Social Security and Medicare, or gloomy scenarios for global warming, will be trivialized by the sheer heights that economic wealth will have scaled by that time. If Kurzweil is correct, then the mountain of debt that we fear we are accumulating now will seem like a molehill by 2040. We will pay off this debt the way someone who wins a million-dollar lottery pays off a car loan.

I hope that the lottery-winning Kurzweil scenario materializes, but I am still not comfortable watching our government accumulate obligations to future entitlement recipients at the current rate. As of now, however, the data on average productivity growth over the past decade is reasonably consistent with the hypothesis that the economy is winning the Great Race.


But that's still bad news to the Greenies, of course

Rainfall over parts of Africa's Sahel appears to be rising but its greening could prove a mixed blessing if the population surges as a result and drought follows, a leading ecologist said on Monday.

"Climate change models suggest the Sahel should be getting drier but observations suggest it is currently getting wetter," Jon Lovett of the University of York in Britain told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on climate change in Johannesburg. "This could lead to an increase in food production and population, but this will be bad if it suddenly goes into another cycle of drought which cannot support all of the additional people and livestock," he said. "It has cycles of boom and bust."

Lovett said the Sahel was relatively green during the 1940s through to the 1960s but since then it has gone into a dry phase that seems to be ending. Intriguingly, he said research done more than a decade ago linked a wetter Sahel to increased hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico -- and this appeared to be occurring in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "This shows that what is happening in Africa can have an affect on the Gulf of Mexico," he said.

The Sahel is a transition zone between the arid Sahara to the north and the wetter more tropical areas in Africa to the south. It includes Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Chad. Niger experienced a famine this year brought on by poor rains and locust swarms, underscoring the region's vulnerability.



They're aptly named, anyway. Most likely just a student prank

Green Pirates for Peace landed outside MP Martin Salter's west Reading office to demand Tony Blair be keelhauled for caving-in on international efforts to avert climate change. The pirates - from environ-mental action group Rising Tide - want the Prime Minister to declare an immediate state of emergency in a last ditch attempt to avoid "catastrophic" climate change. Rising Tide also wants the government to slap economic sanctions on the USA for refusing to sign up to the Kyoto agreement.

The pirates almost ran their ship aground when they heard Tony Blair's "brutally honest" statement on drafting a successor agreement to Kyoto. He said: "The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem."

The pirates are also demanding the prime minister get down to work and negotiate a "fair and equitable" replacement for Kyoto, and to make a full apology for his comments.

But, after avoiding the plank over his captain's sins, Mr Salter said: "I do not believe in engaging in childish gesture politics such as calling for sanctions against the USA, or merely shouting at those who take a different point of view. "But when parliament returns after the summer recess I will be sponsoring two private members bills on climate change and sustainable energy and on the management of energy in buildings."


The smart-growth scam: "Transportation is essential to the daily life of nearly every American. Millions of people flock onto the freeways and streets to accomplish innumerable tasks each day. Americans love their cars. No other mode of transportation provides the same individualized choices, schedules, and overall convenience as the automobile. Despite the obvious advantages of automotive transportation, politicians and environmentalists continue to praise mass transit. They cite all kinds of data aimed at denigrating automotive transportation while claiming that public transportation works better and is more efficient. However, even though billions of dollars have been spent on such systems, they continue to lose money and passengers."


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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, October 24, 2005


As I've often said: There's no such thing as a happy Greenie. This one certainly believes in the old ZPG slogan: "People are pollution"

It is healthier to walk along a busy road and breathe in exhaust fumes than to sit in the comfort of an airconditioned car, a U.S. researcher said on Wednesday. Robert Baker, president of the non-profit U.S. Indoor Air Quality Association, said American scientists have found the air inside cars to be more contaminated than the air outside, even in urban areas. This was due to unfiltered air from exhaust fumes and chemical smells from car seats, audio equipment and air fresheners. "The air in an indoor space does not clean itself, unlike the outdoors, where air travels," Baker told a news conference at the launch of a Singapore Web site on car cabin air quality.

The site,, says prolonged exposure to bad cabin air can cause cancer and respiratory diseases. Drivers often install air cleaning devices, such as airconditioner filters.

The biggest pollutants in indoor spaces, however, are people, said Baker. "We release gases, bacteria and fungi into the air. The more people there are in an enclosed area, the more harmful it is," he said. One solution was to open the car's windows, though the Web site recommends doing so only along country roads.


The Fake Energy Crisis

(Post lifted from Cafe Hayek)

Twice in the last week I've seen mention of a new "crisis" in energy markets. The crisis? We may have reached the peak in oil production, meaning that in future years, the amount of oil available will dwindle. This story is the lead story on today's front page of USA Today. The headline:
Debate Brews: Has Oil Production Peaked?
The story begins:

Almost since the dawn of the oil age, people have worried about the taps running dry. So far, the worrywarts have been wrong. Oil men from John D. Rockefeller to T. Boone Pickens always manage to find new gushers.

But now, a vocal minority of experts says world oil production is at or near its peak. Existing wells are tiring. New discoveries have disappointed for a decade. And standard assessments of what remains in the biggest reservoirs in the Middle East, they argue, are little more than guesses.

The first expert is an investment banker:

"There isn't a middle argument. It's a finite resource. The only debate should be over when we peak" says Matthew Simmons, a Houston investment banker and author of a new book that questions Saudi Arabia's oil reserves.

In case you think this is no big deal, think again:

If the "peak oil" advocates are correct, however, today's transient shortages and high prices will soon become a permanent way of life. Just as individual oil fields inevitably reach a point at which it gets harder and more expensive to extract the oil before output declines, global oil production is about to crest, they say. Since 2000, the cost of finding and developing new sources of oil has risen about 15% annually, according to the John S. Herold consulting firm.

As global demand rises, American consumers will find themselves in a bidding war with others around the world for scarce oil supplies. That will send prices of gasoline, heating oil and all petroleum-related products soaring.

"The least-bad scenario is a hard landing, global recession worse than the 1930s, says Kenneth Deffeyes, a Princeton University professor emeritus of geosciences. "The worst-case borrows from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: war, famine, pestilence and death".

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? War, famine, pestilence and death?  They ought to put this quote in the next OED under "hyperbole". And I thought this guy was trying to really scare us (Ht: Alan Nemes) but it turns out he's a moderate.

"This fear that we're running out of oil or some other key resource is a steady feature of the worrying class.  The worriers have a bad track record. I understand that just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean people aren't chasing you and just because the worriers have always been wrong doesn't mean this won't be the time they get it right. But I still sleep well.

"There's nothing inherently worrisome about a peak in oil production. Such imagery preys on a quick emotional response--before the peak, we're going up. After the peak, it's all downhill.  But there's nothing significant about a world where we produce and consume less oil next year than this year. If that's because remaining oil stocks are increasingly costly to bring up from the ground, that increases the incentive to economize on oil usage and find cheaper ways to get it out of the ground. That mitigates the harm.

"The worriers like to say that we've had cheap oil in the past and now we're going to have expensive oil in the future. They make it sound like it's a geophysical relationship between production and prices.  As long as we're finding more oil, oil is cheap. When we're past the peak, it'll be expensive. Cheap oil means the good life. Expensive oil means misery. But prices aren't high or low. They move around. They are high or low relative to other prices. If oil becomes increasingly scarce, we'll do a thousand, (more like a billion) things to find other ways of doing what oil does.

"If it happened tomorrow, if tomorrow, there were no gas in the pumps and this persisted forever, it would be a very unpleasant adjustment.  It isn't going to happen tomorrow. If it happens gradually over the next 30 or 50 or 100 years, it will have little or no impact on our overall well-being.

"And wasn't it supposed to be good not to rely on fossil fuels? Why all this new worrying? I think the worriers are trying to exploit the recent spike in gasoline prices to push public policy in directions that won't happen otherwise.

"Meanwhile, read Julian Simon. Remember that human creativity is the ultimate resource. Remember that the geophysicists don't understand prices. Sleep well, despite the worriers' desire to keep you tossing and turning. And if you hear the sound of hoofbeats in the still small spaces of the night, it's probably just a horse.

For more on why the "peak oil" simpletons are wrong, see my own article on peak oil here


(Post lifted from Marginal Revolution)

The NYTimes Magazine has an excellent article on the housing market based around a discussion of the development firm Toll Brothers. Bob Toll the president of the firm is predicting that US housing prices will converge with those in Europe.

"In Britain you pay seven times your annual income for a home; in the U.S. you pay three and a half." The British get 330 square feet, per person, in their homes; in the U.S., we get 750 square feet. Not only does Toll say he believes the next generation of buyers will be paying twice as much of their annual incomes; in terms of space, he also seems to think they're going to get only half as much. "And that average, million-dollar insane home in the burbs? It's going to be $4 million."

Toll agrees with Glaeser et al. that the key force driving up prices is zoning and growth regulations. In New Jersey it now takes Toll Brothers up to two million dollars in legal fees and ten years in time to get the permits necessary to build.

Susan Wachter, a housing economist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, has an interesting public choice insight about why zoning is worse in Europe.

European towns also have less incentive to encourage development, Wachter says, because they generally do not, unlike their American equivalents, depend on their local tax base to pay for education and services, which tend to be federalized.

This implies that towns in states that reduce their reliance on the property tax - often done, as in CA, in order to "equalize" school funding or other expenditure - will soon restrict development. Go to it graduate students.


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.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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.