Monday, December 12, 2005

TCS COP 11 Coverage: Culture Shock in Montreal

Excerpt from Roy Spencer

As one of the very few scientists at the UN's eleventh Conference of the Parties climate meeting (COP-11), I feel like an outsider. That's because I am. The army of thousands in attendance (international delegates, NGOs, and all manner of stakeholders in the climate change issue), have little interest in knowing how certain or uncertain the science of global warming is. All these people know - or need to know - is that the "glaciers are melting," it's getting "hotter every year", and "climate change is killing people now" (all of these are direct quotes from presenters).

For example, I learned at a Pew Center briefing that anyone (like me) who is skeptical of climate change is a "Flat-Earther." While I thought that had a nice ring to it, it was pointed out to me the term wasn't intended as a compliment. I also learned that the term "climate change" no longer needs the qualifier of "human-caused," because it has apparently been decided that all purported climate change is caused by the activity of mankind. (Attention: henceforth, all unusual weather events will be due to our burning of fossil fuels.) Natural climate variability has been relegated to the status of quaint myth. Mother Nature wouldn't cause a Category 4 hurricane to hit Louisiana unless mankind forced her hand.

I reflected on this new information during my four-block walk from the hotel to the conference center this morning. I was wearing a sweater, but no coat (big mistake). It was 16 degrees F, with a stiff head wind, and my hands were just about popsicles by the time I got there. "Darn global warming" I thought to myself. I remembered what I'd already learned at COP-11, that unusually cold as well as unusually warm weather can be explained by global warming. "I should try to catch the Inuit event this afternoon," I reminded myself. The event is appropriately titled "The Right to be Cold."

Safely inside the comfortably heated convention center, I marveled at this massive, UN-guided, international effort to avert global catastrophe. The effort has been gathering momentum for about fifteen years, and now has taken on a life of its own. Entire careers have been born due to this effort, I mused. There are many young people here just starting out -- learning what is important in life from UN mentors and their procedures. What better way to help humanity than to tell everyone else in the world how they should live?

I wonder whether this is where all Miss America contestants end up, following through on their collective desire to make the world a better place? There are also so many Ph.D.'s here -- speakers citing their credentials in order to push nostra that are little more than good intentions wrapped in a surfeit of economic ignorance (garnished with a touch of elitism). If only everyone in the world would follow the advice of these experts, our problems would obviously be solved.

Unwilling to give up on sanity, the US and various market-oriented organizations are also being represented here at COP-11 -- trying to get the word out that technological progress is the only way to meet such ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by mid-Century. But they are clearly in the minority. The prevailing view is that mandatory reductions, starting now, are absolutely necessary.

While hundreds of people milled around, comfortably sipping beverages, visiting kiosks designed around various global warming themes, I observed two fellows at the US booth. They had no visitors and looked pretty lonely. Fortunately, though, a number of speakers - apparently realizing that policies that stunt economic growth are going to be politically unpopular - are now including market-based buzzwords in their presentations. While I'm not sure these folks understand what 'free market' means, but I take is as a step in the right direction.

Still an anti-development and anti-technology undercurrent frequently bubbles to the surface as presenters and their questioners phrase their statements in a way that belies their contempt for modern life and affluence. While the speakers are too polite to mention the names of countries who would subvert their plans for saving the earth, a wink or a smile is sufficient to get their meaning across (hint: the lonely guys at the booth). The idea that we can grow our way out of a global warming problem with technological progress is not acceptable to the throngs here at COP-11. By their lights, technology is ultimately the source of our problems. At least that's the gist of what I saw one young lady typing into her late-model Dell. "Nice laptop", I said. "Thanks, I like it," she replied with a smile.

The people at COP-11 are well-fed, well-dressed, have been transported half way around the world by fossil-fueled aircraft, and are totally dependent upon myriad goods and services that require access to affordable energy. But that hasn't seemed to cross their minds. If it has, they are under the illusion that the world can live on a whole lot less energy than it is right now. I look around and wonder how all of these people would contribute to life on Earth if they were not so busy trying to save it.....

Americans Told to Bypass Govt. in 'Global Warming' Fight

As many industrialized nations continue struggling to comply with the greenhouse-gas-limiting Kyoto Protocol, American citizens are being told to bypass the Bush administration and support a grassroots "ratification" of the treaty. This will prevent the earth's "environment and its people and our children [from being] destroyed by greed, selfish profit and stupidity," said the liberal group Indymedia Climate. "Governments rarely reflect what their citizens want. People from the U.S ... have created their own 'People's Ratification of Kyoto' to send a message to George W Bush ... and the rest of the world that it is our duty to respond," a statement from Indymedia Climate read.

Supporters of a petition called "The People's Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty" were among those attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal on Dec. 3, which was designated an International Day of Action to Stop Global Warming. The petition includes a pledge " to support subsequent phases of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce worldwide greenhouse emissions by 70 percent." It was created by a U.S. group called The Climate Crisis Coalition, which has the support of Environmental Defense, Greenpeace, Energy Action and "other really great, really dedicated groups," including celebrity activists like actor Ed Asner and singer Pete Seeger, according to Indymedia Climate.

The coalition, which says it is made up of "good global citizens," claims to have at least 650,000 signatures on the petition against "global warming." Ross Gelbspan, the author of two books on "global warming" -- "The Heat is On" and "Boiling Point" -- wrote the text of the petition.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, many organizations attending the Climate Change Conference have declared the Kyoto Protocol "dead" because of the signatories' lack of compliance. The treaty establishes a 2012 goal of having top industrialized nations cut their industrial emissions 5.2 percent below the level that was produced in 1990. Canada, Japan and at least 11 of the 15 European Union nations that ratified Kyoto are struggling to meet their emission targets. In addition to the numerous problems with its implementation, the Kyoto Protocol is not expected to impact any potential "global warming" even if fully implemented. At the 2004 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, environmentalists conceded to Cybercast News Service that the Kyoto Protocol would not affect climate change and would instead be a "symbolic" gesture.

Even the "People's Ratification" petition acknowledges that Kyoto will not halt what some consider to be the coming man-made climate crisis. "We recognize the current goals of the Protocol are too low and its timetable too long to effectively halt the escalating instability of the global climate," the petition stated. But the supporters of "The People's Ratification" still believe that Kyoto is vital to saving the planet. "The ability of our earth to sustain life is deteriorating. If we do nothing the collapse will accelerate and intensify each season. As difficult to believe and emotionally debilitating as it is, these events are happening," the unsigned author of the Indymedia Climate statement read. "My experience has been that after a wavering denial period was over and the shocking realization of impending climate catastrophe sank in, it was agonizing to create anything. Art pieces seemed insignificant, useless or just sad," the Indymedia Climate statement continued.

The group explained that bypassing the U.S. government's opposition to Kyoto is necessary to protect future generations. "Many of us have been feeling very worried, and sad and angry that the Bush Administration and Congress and our Representatives have been putting our childrens [sic] lives and future at risk. The Bush Administration does not want to stop Global Warming, and in fact, has debilitated the protection of our country's air, water, public lands and wildlife, deceiving us and under the White House's rule, the very government agencies entrusted to protect our children from polluters have destroyed environmental laws," the Indymedia Climate statement asserted.

But a Washington, D.C.-based group that opposes the Kyoto Protocol and rejects claims of catastrophic human caused "global warming" dismissed the necessity of the "People's Ratification." "In the U.S., we have a constitution, we have a representative government. If people don't like the way their congressman or senators are behaving, they should throw them out of office," said William O'Keefe of the Marshall Institute in an interview with Cybercast News Service. O'Keefe rejected the need for the Kyoto Protocol and reiterated that the agreement is "dead." "Kyoto is not going to work. It implies that there is a total disconnect between energy use and economic growth," O'Keefe said. "It simply is not going to happen. There is no available technology that is going to make it happen," he added.


Kyoto's Dead Hand: Even signatories are giving up on their emissions targets

Global gabfests can be fun, which may explain the paradox of the 12-day U.N. conference on climate change that ended yesterday in Montreal. On the one hand, the conferees spelled out the fine print that will make the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which has been ratified by 156 countries, "fully operational," according to conference chairman Stephane Dion.

On the other hand, even those who support radical cuts in carbon-dioxide emissions are realizing that the Kyoto Protocol is a failed instrument for achieving their goals. "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge," says British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He can say that again. India and China, which are exempt from Kyoto's emissions cuts, have no plans to submit to those mandates any time soon, though China is the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The U.S. has also consistently rejected Kyoto. This has been true throughout the Bush years, but it was equally so during the Clinton ones. In 1997, the U.S. Senate adopted the Byrd-Hagel Resolution by 95-0, urging the Clinton Administration not to sign any climate-change protocol that "would result in serious harm to the economy." In 1998 Al Gore signed the Protocol. Yet President Clinton, who was in Montreal yesterday to scold the Bush Administration for its inaction, never submitted it to the Senate.

And then there is the performance of Kyoto's signatories in meeting their own targets. Kyoto requires developed nations to bring their total greenhouse-gas emissions to 5% below their 1990 levels by 2012. Yet in 2003, emissions were above the 1990 baseline by more than 10% in Italy and Japan, more than 20% in Ireland and Canada, and more than 40% in Spain.

Germany and Britain have met their Kyoto targets, but this is the result of one-time events: the collapse of British coal and the shuttering of much of the former East Germany's industrial base. Given Germany's anemic economy and Britain's reduced growth forecasts, the appetite in either country for costly environmental virtue is not likely to increase. Nor should it. For even as the Montreal crowd treats man-made global warming as established fact, the science behind the long-term forecasts remains ambiguous and sketchy, while the benefits of "doing something about it" are by no means clear.

Consider a few recent developments. In 2003, Canadian researchers Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demonstrated that the "hockey-stick" analysis--a key element of global-warming dogma that purports to demonstrate that global temperatures held steady for centuries until rising sharply in the last 100 years--was riddled with "collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data," and so on. The Canadians found that the Medieval warm period had indeed occurred, suggesting that periods of warming and cooling were natural trends unrelated to the number of SUVs on the road.

In 2004, a conference of leading economists met in Copenhagen to prioritize the world's environmental needs, and they put global warming at the bottom of the list. "The benefits [of dealing with climate change] are far into the future and the substantial costs are up front and immediate," wrote Nobelist Douglass North. "Given the uncertainties associated with both the projections and the consequences, climate change cannot compete with other urgent issues we confront."

More recently, scientists have been grappling with data distortions caused by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. That eruption initially caused ocean temperatures to cool; now temperatures are rising as the "Pinatubo Effect" unwinds and distorts the long-term trend data. Scientists have also noted weakenings in Atlantic currents that move cold waters south and warm waters north, leading to predictions that Britain may experience Siberia-like temperatures in the coming decades. Whatever else that is, it isn't "warming."

The lesson we draw from all of this is that the uncertainties in climate forecasting remain huge. And given the costly and fraudulent scares we have just lived through--mad-cow disease, genetically modified foods--the End Is Nigh crowd should be held to a higher standard of proof than it has been before. The needs of the world's poor and sick are too pressing to squander limited economic resources on what could be another false alarm.

Fortunately, there's another game in another town. Next month, the U.S., Japan, China, South Korea, India and Australia--collectively accounting for nearly half the world's population--will meet in Sydney to launch the Asia-Pacific partnership. Unlike Kyoto, which pits developing countries against developed ones, the Partnership is a collaboration to develop cleaner energy resources.

Unlike Kyoto, too, it is a voluntary partnership that seeks to address environmental issues through economic growth and technology, and not by targets and command-and-control mechanisms. Some of the technological fixes--zero-emissions power plants, efficient hydrogen fuel cells--may be decades away. Then again, so are the real-world consequences of global warming, if they materialize at all.

So many politicians and activists have committed so much to their faith in man-made global warming that events like Montreal will continue regardless of the evidence. But anyone who cares seriously about the needs of the poor--and of the environment--needs to get out from under Kyoto's dead hand.



Post lifted from SOS Forests:

We will be getting back to forest history next post, but I couldn't let this bizarre bit of daily news pass by without comment.

Protest Targets Climate Change: Activists Worldwide Rally Against Big Polluters, Global Warming Issues

Montreal - Associated Press - Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005 - Thousands of protestors took to the streets in cities worldwide Saturday to demand urgent action on global warming .

Police said about 7,000 people marched in downtown Montreal - some dressed up as polar bears. Five environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Climate Crisis Coalition, delivered a petition signed by 600,000 Americans to the U.S. Consulate in Montreal urging President Bush and Congress to help slow global warming.

The AP neglected to report that the temperature peaked Saturday in Montreal at -3 degrees C and a light snow was falling. Humidity was 83 percent. It was bone-chillingly cold, which might explain the polar bear suits. The protestors chanted, "It's too hot." No, I made that part up. I don't know what they chanted, but I bet the steam rose like frozen fog when they did. Much love was expressed for tundra and frozen wastelands.

"We're worried about climate change, about ways of life in the Canadian Arctic disappearing," said Sarah Binder of Montreal's Urban Ecology Center.

Canadian Inuit traveled to Montreal from the isolated Arctic north to join the protest there. Indian leader Jose Kusugak told The Associated Press that he brought along hunters, trappers and elders to reassure them that people from the south were not indifferent to their plight. "It was important to show there are a lot of people in the world who care," he said.

Canada's Environment Minister Stephane Dion, who is presiding over the 10-day U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal, also took part in the march and said final negotiations next week involving some 120 environment ministers and other government leaders would be crucial to improving the Kyoto agreement.

Care? Is it an expression of goodwill toward humanity, anywhere, to promote an Ice Age stadial? Are tundra and desert so wonderful that we need more of them. Tundra is a treeless vegetation characteristic of polar regions, with sun-less winters and a growing season of 6 to 12 weeks. The wind rages over the tundra, and the permafrost ices the soil from below. Biodiversity is low. Most tundra plants are invaders frequently found in more southerly climes, where they grow much better.

Tundra includes polar deserts where precipitation is less than in American Southwest deserts. Plant cover ranges from 1 to 5 percent in the ice free areas. It is a nearly lifeless landscape. Tundra currently covers 20 percent of North America north of Mexico. One out of five acres is tundra. However, only a handful of NA residents live on tundra, if you could call it living. Those folks are totally dependent on the warmer 80 percent of the continent supplying them with everything they need for survival, except ice. Nobody "lives off the land" on tundra, anymore. Nobody. And there never were many folks who did that in the past, either.

If the planet warms up so much that tundra disappears, I, for one, will be happy to see it go. Tundra is totally useless. That's not likely to happen, though. What is more likely is that the Earth will continue along on its Malinkovitch Cycle and a new Ice Age stadial will reappear, just as a stadial has, 19 or 20 times in a row, following short interstadials like the current one. That is what is written in the paleontological record. Why would it not happen again? Has the Earth's orbit been altered recently from its multi-billion-year-old pattern?

If the frozen protestors in Montreal get their wish, Montreal will cease to be. Even Canada's vast oil reserves will not be able to melt the mile-thick ice sheet that will crush Montreal, and the rest of Canada, into oblivion.


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

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