Monday, March 20, 2006


A follower of an eco-terrorism group and two other Newcastle residents were sentenced Friday in Sacramento federal court for their roles in attempted firebombings of buildings under construction. Ryan Daniel Lewis, the 22-year-old admitted adherent of the Earth Liberation Front - a radical group that targets suburban development - was sentenced to six years in federal prison for orchestrating arsons in Placer and Amador counties in late 2004 and early 2005. Two of his acquaintances, sisters Lili Marie Holland, 21, and Eva Rose Holland, 26, were sentenced to two years each in prison. In an earlier plea agreement, the women faced three years and three months behind bars. A fourth person arrested in the case, Jeremiah Colcleasure, 21, also of Newcastle, is scheduled to be sentenced in May. He pleaded guilty to attempted arson earlier this month.

Immediately after U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia sentenced Lewis on Friday, the bespectacled Newcastle man - who had been free on bond since November - was remanded into custody and led out of the courtroom past a row of his sobbing relatives. Garcia called Lewis the ringleader who recruited the Holland sisters and another acquaintance to exact acts of violence on property under misguided ideals. At times, the judge chided defense attorneys for misusing the term "idealism" in explaining their clients' actions. "I don't understand why you and the other lawyers talk about ideals," Garcia said to Lewis' attorney. "I consider this type of terrorism (a) most serious crime."

Earlier in the day, Garcia had allowed the Holland sisters, who reiterated their remorse before the court, to surrender to authorities April 28. Lewis did not make a statement before the judge. Friday's sentencing marked the first successful prosecution of ELF activity from the Oregon border to Bakersfield and should serve, authorities said, as a cautionary tale for others influenced to act on behalf of the shadowy organization.

In January, three other followers of ELF were arrested on suspicion of plotting a bombing campaign on local targets, including Nimbus Dam and fish hatchery and a forest genetics lab in Placerville. "Domestic terrorists mistakenly believe they are on the moral high ground, but their actions are those of cowards," U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott told reporters after the sentences were handed down. "Let today's sentencings be a warning to idealistic young people that if they make the wrong decisions, they will spend several years in prison."

But Lewis' attorney, Timothy Zindel, said he did not believe the six-year sentence was warranted for a "kid who made a serious mistake." He said Lewis was not a terrorist. "I don't agree that the Earth Liberation Front is a terrorist organization; (terrorism) it's a word that is cheapened in how it's thrown around," Zindel said after the sentencing hearing. Anyone involved in a "protest crime has to watch out ... the federal government is very unforgiving."

The trio, who were arrested last year, admitted conspiracy to plant incendiary devices at an upscale housing development in Lincoln after leaving a Christmas party in 2004. On Dec. 27, 2004, four homemade incendiary devices with kitchen timers were found in two homes under construction. "ELF" was painted in a cul-de-sac and other graffiti was discovered, including the statements "U will pay" and "Leave."

Lewis also confessed to placing firebombs inside an office building under construction in Auburn and devices inside apartments near completion in the Amador County town of Sutter Creek early last year. The bombs in Lincoln and Auburn failed to ignite, and sprinkler systems in Sutter Creek managed to abate much of the damage. However, one device did spark a fire, causing at least $243,000 in damage.

In the original indictment, the defendants faced a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison on each charge, including conspiracy to commit arson, attempted arson and additional counts of arson against Lewis. In October, however, Lewis and the Holland sisters pleaded guilty as part of an agreement reached with the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Steven Lapham. They were sentenced Friday on charges reached in their plea agreements: two counts of attempted arson and one count of arson against Lewis; one count each of attempted arson for the Holland sisters.

More here


When millionaire businessman Johan Eliasch decides to head for his country estate, it involves a slightly longer trek than a drive to the Cotswolds. After leaving his office in London's Mayfair, it is a 12-hour journey by air and road before he can view his 400,000-acre plot in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The estate is the size of Greater London.

Eliasch, 43, a banker, film producer and chief executive of the Head sports equipment company, has bought it from a logging company to protect the plants and wildlife. He sees himself as a pioneer on the new frontier of climate change. Eliasch, who is also deputy treasurer of the Conservative party, is part of a growing trend towards "green colonialism". Rich people with chequebooks instead of pith helmets, charities and trusts are buying vast swathes of the Third World or "renting" the timber rights to stop trees being cut down. It is a breakaway from the methods that have characterised the international conservation movement for the past 50 years.

The traditional approach relied on agencies and charities cajoling governments in developing countries to set aside state-owned land to create national parks and nature reserves. Now individuals and organisations are taking direct responsibility for the land.

Eliasch, who is valued at 355 million pounds in The Sunday Times Rich List, is believed to have paid about 8 million for his jungle park in Brazil. He plans to visit again next month. "The Amazon is the lung of the world," he said last week. "It provides 20% of the world's oxygen and 30% of the fresh water." He is now lobbying insurance companies to follow his lead with billions of dollars of their own money. "In theory you can perhaps buy the Amazon for $50 billion," he said. "It would be a very quick payback because a hurricane like Katrina will cost them a similar amount in payouts. "You can plot a direct correlation between cutting down trees which absorb carbon dioxide and the global warming and extreme conditions which lead to hurricanes like Katrina."

He is campaigning for conservationists like himself to be given carbon credits for preserving trees, similar to the financial grants made to timber companies to plant saplings after they have cut down acres of forest. He will use any such money to buy more forest.

Eliasch, the son of a Swedish industrialist, has invited scientists to search his segment of the Amazon for wildlife and plants that may have beneficial extracts for medicine. His estate lies 1,600 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro. It is just north of the Madeira river, an Amazon tributary, where dolphins swim alongside piranhas. Two species of squirrel-sized marmoset monkeys were discovered in the region six years ago. "The biodiversity is amazing," said Eliasch.

Across the Atlantic, Paul van Vlissingen, 65, the owner of Calor Gas who is worth 1.1 billion pounds and owns an 81,000-acre estate in Ross-shire, has spent 15 million pounds buying or leasing land in four African countries to preserve as wildlife parks. Van Vlissingen, who is terminally ill, said in a statement earlier this year: "There is so much more to be done if the great natural museums of Africa are to be saved and restored."

Bill Adams, a professor of conservation at Cambridge University, said: "It is an interesting development. If there is an ethical motive for buying the land, it is likely to be effective. "But I do not know about encouraging insurance companies to buy up the rainforest. I don't think their business managers will go for that."



The latest Science magazine features a paper linking increasing sea-surface temperatures to global increases in the most severe hurricanes, but it does NOT mention global warming as the cause. Think the newspapers won't?

Over the last few decades, hurricane climate experts have largely eschewed linkages between global warming and increases in the number or strength of hurricanes. That is, until late last summer, when a series of highly publicized papers claimed otherwise. The papers pointed out that sea-surface temperatures (SSTs), the essential fuel of hurricanes, have been increasing in the primary hurricane-development regions pretty much globally since 1970 (the start of global satellite hurricane track and intensity records). Over that time, hurricane intensities have also been on the rise. And since global warming causes SSTs to rise, that must be the cause of the recent spate of strong hurricanes.

The problem with this logic is that hurricanes require a very specific environment to flourish. High SSTs are a necessary but not sufficient condition to spin up strong storms. It is also important that there be very little change in the winds with height; that near surface winds blow in such a manner to cause moist air to gather near the storm's center; and that temperatures decline rapidly with height to promote a very unstable atmosphere, among other factors. One criticism of the studies from last summer is that the focus was almost entirely on SSTs only. In order properly to link hurricane trends to SSTs (and global warming), you need to discount trends in these other, critical variables.

This week's Science paper by Hoyos, Agudelo, Webster and Curry again uses data on global hurricane intensity since 1970. They report that the global increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes is linked to SST but not any of the other factors.

The authors base their case on the observation that SSTs are increasing in all ocean basins over the period of record, but the other key hurricane-development variables they examined do not show consistent relationships across the same basins. For example, in the six ocean basins they examined, the authors found a significant increase in atmospheric moisture levels in the East Pacific only, and vertical wind shear (the change in wind height) only weakened significantly in the North Atlantic (more on this observation later).

Let's look at their results more carefully. Figure 1 shows the trend in an index of "moist static stability." Essentially, strong hurricanes can more easily form when this index value is low. In five of the six ocean basins, the authors find a statistically significant decline in moist static stability. But it's especially interesting to note that climate models (run under scenarios of increasing carbon dioxide) are also consistent in their forecasts of temperature changes in the lower atmosphere. They all report that the atmosphere will become more stable (e.g., Knutson and Tuleya, 2004). But that's the opposite of what's shown in Figure 1. So the only way to make the case that these changes are carbon dioxide-induced is to ignore the climate models, and who's willing to step forward and do that?

An examination of the number of category 4 and 5 storms from 1945-present shows that we are indeed currently experiencing a high frequency of major storms. But recent years are comparable to another fairly active period in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The aforementioned Science papers only considered the period from 1970 onward, because those data are believed to be the most accurate and internally consistent. However, the long term data from both the Western Pacific and the North Atlantic (the world's two most active regions) are reasonably good, especially with respect to the number of strong storms, which are obviously more likely to be detected.

Another factor in the recent spate of strong storms is a long-term cycle in SSTs. In the Atlantic, for example, all hurricane researchers are aware of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), a somewhat periodic cycling between high and low SSTs in the North Atlantic, including the primary hurricane formation zones. Figure 3 shows one of several incarnations of the AMO. Note the clear tendency toward positive AMO values beginning in the late 1960s. There were a lot more strong hurricanes from the 1940s through the mid-1960s (positive AMO), which was followed by a quiescent period (negative AMO). Any evidence of increasing SSTs based on a data set that begins around 1970 will identify an artificial trend that is really part of a longer-term cycle. The Science authors had perfectly legitimate reasons to begin their analysis in 1970, but a broader perspective is needed before you can call that increase a global warming signal.

With respect to North Atlantic hurricanes, an interesting paper was just published by Jyotika Virmani and Robert Weisberg in Geophysical Research Letters. One reason SSTs can build up is the lack of evaporation, as evaporation plays a big role in cooling ocean surface waters. Virmani and Weisberg showed that in 2003, 2004 and 2005, the position of the Bermuda High pressure system shifted from its mean position, forcing much weaker trade winds in the primary hurricane development region. Weaker winds mean less evaporation and higher SSTs. They also calculated that most of the 1-2 degrees celsius warming of ocean waters observed can be accounted for by the observed slackening of the trade winds. And when they examined the long-term pattern of trade winds in this region, the winds began weakening in 1970.

A major hurricane is a very unique event - a lot of disparate factors must become organized in just the right way to allow a major storm to develop. While high SSTs are one critical ingredient, they alone are insufficient to generate a whopper storm. SSTs have been increasing since 1970, as have major hurricanes, but the connection is not nearly as simple as some authors are suggesting. And careful scrutiny of ALL of the available data shows the connection to global warming is less than tenuous.

TCS DAILY, 16 March 2006


Shrieks take the place of evidence

UN experts are meeting to determine the risks which climate change poses to some of the world's special places. The UN's cultural and scientific wing Unesco says climate change threatens World Heritage Sites such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Tower of London.

The two-day meeting aims to develop plans of action to mitigate the threat. Environmental groups want such action to include pledges to reduce emissions, but the US says Unesco has no authority to act on climate change.

In a position paper issued in advance of the Paris meeting, the US says Unesco has no brief to consider anthropogenic climate change as a "threat" to protected sites because it is an unproven theory. Its position appears very different from that of the British government, which is funding the meeting. ....

BBC News Online, 16 March 2006


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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