Monday, December 05, 2005


At the halfway point of the UN climate change talks in Montreal, environmental groups are struggling a bit to work out who the latest villain is in this long-running drama. Usually it is very straightforward. The US is generally a dead cert for the award of 'Fossil of the Day', reviled by green groups for its rejection of the Kyoto protocol, closely followed by Saudi Arabia for what are regarded as obstructive tactics.

After some opening salvos refusing any involvement in talks about future global climate change action, the American delegation here has been fairly quiet in recent days, largely because the discussions have mainly been about the detail of the protocol itself, from which the US has excluded itself. So it was with some surprise that delegates saw that the award, announced each afternoon in a small ceremony in the Palais des Congres, had been given to Japan.

After inquiries with some of the green activists, the BBC News website learned that the sin of the Japanese delegation was to table a conference paper entitled, "Proposal for criteria for cases of failure to submit information relating to estimates of greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks from activities under Article 3.3 and 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol". That must be bad, probably worse than clubbing baby seals on the head.

But somehow the activists who immerse themselves in the jargon and procedural labyrinths of the climate change process seem to have lost sight of how to communicate their message to the other six billion people on the planet. Another example came earlier in the week when community leaders were brought all the way from Africa to stand in the freezing Montreal winter to back a proposal to protect the world's forests. The catchy slogan on the posters read "Support Agenda Item Six Now!" It has a certain ring to it, but it is not quite "Save the Whale" or "No Nukes".

To be fair, it is not just the green activists who speak another language in these conferences - the same is true of the government delegates themselves, the business lobbyists and even sometimes the journalists who have spent too long covering the issue. I am told that the process has been going on so long that there are now second-generation climate change junkies who have been brought up knowing exactly what is meant by certified emissions reductions, joint implementation and the Marrakech Accords.

For the record, the Marrakech Accords are the series of agreements signed in Morocco in 2001, after years of painful negotiation, on the rules of meeting the targets set by the Kyoto protocol. Because Kyoto only came into force earlier this year, it is at this conference that the accords have finally passed into international law, in a series of unopposed decisions hailed immediately as historic by the conference organisers. This may have simply been a rubber-stamping of decisions made four years ago, but in a process as troubled as this one, navigating any stretch of water without hitting a rock is understandably a cause for great celebration.

And in fact the bringing into force of the Kyoto system is not out of the rapids yet. A procedural objection by Saudi Arabia means that the system of enforcing the rules has not yet been agreed. The suspicion is that this is being held as a bargaining tool to gain other concessions later in the conference. The great challenge at the end of this conference will be to judge whether it has been a success or failure in terms of ensuring the long-term future of global action on climate change

The even greater challenge will be to find any of the 8,000 or so participants who can explain to the rest of the world what on earth has been going on.

(From BBC News Online, 3 December 2005)


It's just Greenie religion: That greater cost implies that MORE energy will be used in building the house. Story from Queensland, Australia, where the (moderate Leftist) Premier of Queensland is standing up for existing practices:

New energy-efficiency laws could spell the end of the iconic Queenslander home. Changes to the building code to be adopted next year mean wooden houses and timber floors could be a thing of the past, Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told The Sunday Mail yesterday. The "five-star" energy-efficiency measures to be introduced from May are also tipped to increase the cost of building an average house by up to $15,000.

Mr Macfarlane called the decision a "terrible mistake" and warned it would be the death of elevated homes built with timber floors on stilts. "The ordinary house on stumps - that is the finish of them because everything will have to be concrete," he said. "And it is the end of the use of natural timber - unless you are prepared to substantially increase the cost of houses." Under the system, concrete is more energy efficient than timber.

The National Association of Forest Industries also warned the changes could signal the end of timber homes. Chief executive Catherine Murphy said there had already been a 40 per cent decline in the suspended-timber-flooring industry in Victoria since the introduction of five-star standards three years ago.

Australian Building Codes Board chairman Peter Laver said the states and territories had unanimously supported boosting the four-star requirement up to five-star, in line with Victoria. He denied it would mean the end of timber floors and wooden homes - but conceded it would increase the cost of building a house. "There are a couple of little problems with how you treat Queenslander-type houses up on stilts," he said. "That isn't adequately handled in the existing home energy-rating scheme. But there is a new scheme that will be a launched early next year." Mr Laver said timber homes and floors would require additional insulation to meet the standard.

The Housing Industry Association estimates the change will add up to $15,000 to the cost of building an average $200,000 home. HIA senior executive director business services Malcolm Roberts said the environmental benefits were not proven - with the estimated reductions of greenhouse gas emissions being just 0.8 per cent.

But Mr Laver said three independent studies suggested the cost increase would be closer to $2000. "Where the cost impost is going to be higher is the million-dollar houses sitting on cliff tops," he said.

Premier Peter Beattie said he would intervene to ensure the legislation did not apply to Queenslanders in their Queenslanders. "We are not going to give up the very essence of Queensland," said Mr Beattie, who owns a Queenslander in Brisbane's inner-north. "I am not going to give up my Queenslander for something that suits Sydney or Melbourne."


Population as a resource, not a bomb

In 1968 the best-selling book "The Population Bomb" by Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich was published. In it Ehrlich predicted that in the 1970s hundreds of millions of people would die of starvation, because population growth would outpace the world's ability to supply food. Ehrlich's predictions were accepted as gospel by many and he became a media darling. In 1974 "The End of Affluence" appeared, a book Ehrlich had co-written with his wife Anne. Here the Ehrlichs increased their death-toll predictions, saying that by the middle of the 1980s a billion or more people could die of starvation and that the world would enter an era of scarcity by 1985.

In April 1968, a group known as The Club of Rome was founded by Italian scholar and industrialist Aurelio Peccei and Scottish scientist Alexander King. This group issued numerous warnings and dire predictions about the future of mankind based on the view that economic and technological growth and resource use could not be sustained and that food and resource shortages and environmental degradation were inevitable unless human attitudes and governmental policies were changed. The Club's most influential work was a book, "The Limits to Growth," subtitled "A report for the Club of Rome's project on the predicament of mankind" and published in London in 1972. It was full of complex graphs that predicted, if global policy changes weren't changed by 2000, "Population and industrial capital reach levels high enough to create food and resource shortages before the year 2100." The book "stated that if the world's consumption patterns and population growth continued at the same high rates of the time, the earth would strike its limits within a century." It got enormous attention, selling some thirty million copies in more than thirty languages.

No one did a more thorough, sustained, and effective study and refutation of the neo-Malthusians such as Ehrlich and the Club of Rome than the late Julian Simon (1932-1998), a professor of business administration at the University of Maryland in College Park. As he reported in his book "The Ultimate Resource 2" (1996), which is the second edition of "The Ultimate Resource" (1981), Simon began by "assuming that the accepted view was sound. I aimed to help the world contain its 'exploding' population, which I believed to be one of the two main threats to humankind (war being the other). But my reading and research led me into confusion. Though the then-standard economic theory of population (...hardly changed since Malthus) asserted that a higher population growth implies a lower standard of living, the available empirical data did not support this theory."

The real population and resource problems, Simon wrote, "is not that there are too many people or that too many babies are being born. The problem is that others must support each additional person before that person contributes in turn to the well-being of others." A few lines later he wrote, "From the economic point of view an additional child is like a laying chicken, a cacao tree, a computer factory, or a new house. A baby is a durable good in which someone must invest heavily long before the grown adult begins to provide returns on the investment. But whereas 'Travel now, pay later' is inherently attractive because the pleasure is immediate and the piper will wait, 'Pay now, benefit from the child later' is inherently problematic because the sacrifice comes first."

Simon presented a great deal of data and evidence to show that his conclusions, rather than those of the Malthusians, were the correct ones. We do have resource problems, as we always did; these resources "are scarce, in the sense that it costs us labor and capital to get them, though we would prefer to get them for free." Instead of our entering an age of scarcity, the data show that "natural resources have been becoming less scarce over the long run, right up to the present." In terms of pollution, there is a problem as there always has been because people have to dispose of their waste products, "but we now live in a more healthy and less dirty environment than in earlier centuries."

Is there a population problem? Yes, just as always, because when a couple is about to have a child, they must prepare a place for it, and then after it is born they must feed and clothe it; it must also be educated - all of which require expense and effort, not just from the parents alone. "When a baby is born or a migrant arrives, the community must increase its municipal services - schooling, fire and police protection, and garbage collection. None of these are free." These costs and others are born by the parents, siblings, neighbors, community, and taxpayers. In addition, when this child "grows up and first goes to work, jobs are squeezed a bit, and the output and pay per working person go down. All this clearly is an economic loss for other people."

The upside, however, is that "an additional person is also a boon. The child or immigrant will pay taxes later on, contribute energy and resources to the community, produce goods and services for the consumption of others, and make efforts to beautify the environment. Perhaps most significant for the more-developed countries is the contribution that the average person makes to increasing the efficiency of production through new ideas and improved methods."

This comment about new ideas and improved methods is the key to Simon's view. He understood that human ingenuity, creativity, and the ever-increasing stock of useful knowledge - knowledge that is created and discovered and held by humans - is the greatest resource of all. He wrote, "Minds matter economically as much as, or more than, hands or mouths. Progress is limited largely by the availability of trained workers." A bit later he wrote, "Wealth is far more than assets such as houses and cars. The essence of wealth is the capacity to control the forces of nature, and the extent of wealth depends on the level of technology and the ability to create new knowledge."

Simon's view of technology was cornucopian; he thought that human problems of scarcity, resource depletion, disease, and environmental pollution would be solved by new technology. Moreover, new technology is created through human inventiveness and ingenuity and the growing stock of useful knowledge.

Simon showed through analysis of many historical examples that the optimistic cornucopian view he advocated is true, whereas the Malthusian view and the gloomy predictions of Ehrlich and the Club of Rome have not come true. He looked at a whole range of human concerns - food, land, natural resources, energy, pollution, the standard of living, human fertility, immigration, and others -- and showed that things are, in fact, getting better. There is in the world today more food, more agricultural land, more natural resources, more energy, less pollution, and a worldwide rising standard of living. He favored immigration: "The migration of people from poor to rich countries is as close to an everybody-wins government policy as can be." This happens because through receiving immigrants, countries in North America and Western Europe gain higher productivity, a higher standard of living, and "an easing of the heavy social burdens caused by growing proportions of aged dependents." .....

Besides Simon, numerous other people have questioned the methods, conclusions, and predictions of the Malthusian doomsayers such as Ehrlich, and many have pointed out that the gloomy predictions of Ehrlich and the Club of Rome have not come true. It has been noted that, though world population has grown by more 50 percent since 1968, food production has grown at an even faster rate due to technological advances. But, for his effort and pains, Simon received a great deal of ad hominem attacks, epithets, and ridicule, as well as attacks on his integrity. Paul Ehrlich especially directed a lot of such language at him; among other things he accused Simon of a combination of stupidity and scientific ignorance.

In 1980 Simon did get Ehrlich to agree to a celebrated bet. Based on his Malthusian views, Ehrlich had "been predicting massive shortages in various natural resources for decades, while Simon claimed natural resources were infinite. Simon offered Ehrlich a bet centered on the market price of metals. Ehrlich would pick a quantity of any five metals he liked worth $1,000 in 1980. If the 1990 price of the metals, after adjusting for inflation, was more than $1,000 (i.e. the metals became more scarce), Ehrlich would win. If, however, the value of the metals after inflation was less than $1,000 (i.e. the metals became less scare), Simon would win. The loser would mail the winner a check for the change in price.

Ehrlich agreed to the bet, and chose copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten. By 1990, all five metal were below their inflation-adjusted price level in 1980. Ehrlich lost the bet and sent Simon a check for $576.07. Prices of the metals chosen by Ehrlich fell so much that Simon would have won the bet even if the prices hadn't been adjusted for inflation." (

Simon offered the bet to Ehrlich and any other takers again, with the proceeds if he won to go to charity. No one else accepted the bet, and, although Ehrlich claimed that he had made a good bet and the outcome didn't prove that Simon was right, Ehrlich too declined the new bet. It seems clear that his decline of any further bets was a strong signal that, whatever he said or wrote to the contrary, Ehrlich knew that his Malthusian pessimism does not fit the empirical facts, while Simon's optimism, cornucopianism, and belief that humans are the ultimate resource are supported by the actual empirical facts and data, and that predictions of coming doom, resource depletion, and environmental degradation are mistaken.

(Excerpt from World Peace Herald)


Scientists from across Canada have endorsed a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin, warning Canada faces more drastic weather conditions due to climate change and calling on the government to take urgent action to curb greenhouse gases. The letter, signed by 41 leading climate scientists, states there is "unambiguous evidence of a changing climate in Canada and around the world'' due to greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. The scientists, who are members of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, said "there is increasing urgency to act on the threat of climate change.''

Far from decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions, Canada has actually increased them by 25 per cent since 1990. "Significant steps are needed to stop the growth in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations by reducing emissions," the letter states. "The scientific community is saying the case for climate change is real and there is need for urgent action," Dr. Gordon McBean, chairman of the science foundation, said in an interview.

The federal government gave the foundation a mandate and $110 million in 2000 to study climate change. Now the research is showing that the situation is worse than first imagined and our climate systems are more sensitive than people realized. [...] Meanwhile, the government has not given any more funding for scientific research into climate change, McBean said.

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.


No comments: