Sunday, April 30, 2006


China is going to be pumping oil out of the Gulf of Mexico - at the same time the United States cannot. What? How's that again? Here's how it works, information courtesy Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho who made a speech on the House floor about this Wednesday.

China is bidding on, and will win, rights to explore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, which are offered for development by Cuba. By the way, Mexico just hit a huge offshore oil find in the Gulf of Mexico and expects to be frolicking in oil cash as a result. The United States will not be participating in these hot, new finds because offshore of Florida is off limits to oil exploration.

Why is that? Because enviros have managed to put such a stranglehold on Florida that even Gov. Jeb Bush is calling his brother, President George Bush, to say, "Just say no to oil off Florida." We have to save the everglades, the keys, the bone fishing, the manatee, the whatever. We certainly cannot give up precious environmental resources just to make certain someone gets another day of oil for their big, fat, piggish SUV and its oil-sucking V8 engine and it's bottomless tub of a gas tank.

So, the end result? We're paying through the nose for gas. Oil hit through the roof. Cuba is exploiting the situation. China is cashing in. Mexico is singing, "Happy days are here again." And the U.S. will be buying oil from those guys while forsaking its own untapped Florida oil fields. This same thing is happening offshore in California and in Alaska, ANWR in particular.

I've always said this makes no sense. The United States enforces the strictest oil production environmental regulations in the world. And for what? So we can say to the oil companies: "Don't worry, you won't have to obey these regulations anyway because we're not going to let you drill here. Instead, go drill in Azerbaijan and Nigeria where you will have to obey virtually no regulations at all." If you're a real environmentalist, don't you want oil development in places where real environmental regulations will be enforced? And if we really want to help ourselves out of our own oil problem, shouldn't we drill our own oil before China gets to it first?



Even primitive man coped well with climate change

(From Journal of Archaeological Science. Article in Press)

Climate deterioration and land-use change in the first millennium BC: perspectives from the British palynological record

By: Petra Dark

Department of Archaeology, University of Reading


Climate deterioration at around the time of the Bronze Age/Iron Age transition has for long been argued to have resulted in upland abandonment in northern and western Britain, and recent research has provided evidence that a major climate downturn from 850 cal BC caused settlement abandonment in western Europe and potentially worldwide. It is, however, unclear to what extent only 'marginal' sites were affected, due to the lack of any systematic attempt to view the evidence for settlement and land-use change across a range of landscape types with differing sensitivities to environmental change. This paper addresses this issue by an evaluation of 75 pollen sequences spanning the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age in Britain to assess whether climatic deterioration was sufficient to cause widespread land abandonment. The results provide no evidence for wholesale land-use change at this time; the overall picture is one of continuity of land use or even increased agricultural activity. There are, however, hints of regional variability, with a greater tendency to abandonment of upland areas in Wales, and signs of woodland regeneration in agriculturally productive areas of lowland central southern England. The latter pattern may reflect a combination of rising ground-water levels affecting local land-use in the immediate vicinity of the mires which provide the source of the pollen data, against a backdrop of regional-scale social and economic changes at the Bronze Age-Iron Age transition.

1. Introduction

The Bronze Age/Iron Age transition in north-west Europe has long been recognised as a period of climate deterioration, corresponding approximately to changes in peat sequences defining the Sub-Boreal/Sub-Atlantic transition of the Blytt-Sernander scheme for division of the Holocene [89], and the recurrence surface known as the Grenzhorizont [115], reflecting a shift from warm/dry to relatively cool/wet conditions. In his 1982 review of evidence for climate change from mires, Barber concluded that there was 'a catastrophic decline to a cooler and/or wetter climate around 2850-2550 BP' [3, p. 110]. Subsequent research on mires, and other sources of proxy climate data, has continued to provide evidence for a substantial downturn in climate at about this time (see below).

Climate deterioration has often played a role in explanations of settlement and land-use change apparent from the archaeological record of the late Bronze Age in Britain, especially in 'marginal' upland areas such as Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and parts of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Burgess [28] and [29] argued the case particularly forcefully for settlement abandonment and population collapse ca. 1300-1000 BC, suggesting that 'evidence of this disaster is seen in upland and lowland alike in the abandonment of agricultural systems and a dislocation of settlement, cultural and burial traditions' [29, p. 195]. Subsequently a more 'catastrophic' explanation for upland settlement abandonment was suggested, linked to an eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Hekla [1] and [30]. Most recently, van Geel and co-workers have identified a period of rapid climatic deterioration at ca. 850 cal BC (2750 BP), apparently attributable to a decline in solar activity, argued to have triggered settlement abandonment in marginal areas in The Netherlands (at sites susceptible to water-table rise) and more widely [65], [108], [109], [110], [111], [112] and [113].

Despite the abundant evidence for widespread climate change in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, and archaeological indications of settlement abandonment at some sites, it is unclear how significant this change was for human settlement and land use. Were only 'marginal' sites affected, e.g. those prone to flooding or at the altitudinal limits of cultivation, or was climatic deterioration of sufficient magnitude to cause a wholesale shift in subsistence strategies across substantial areas of the landscape? The aim of this paper is to address this question by a systematic examination of pollen sequences for a large area (Britain), representing a range of 'marginal' and 'optimal' sites for settlement and agriculture.


7. Conclusions

* Climate deterioration in the late Bronze Age and Iron Age did not cause widespread settlement abandonment and long-term land-use change across Britain. More sites show an increase than decline of agricultural activity/woodland clearance in this period.

* 'Marginal' upland landscapes were not generally preferentially abandoned, and in some areas underwent increased levels of agricultural activity. In Wales, however, there may have been a shift away from the uplands.

* There is no evidence for a general shift from arable to pastoral agriculture as a response to climate deterioration, but more extensive agriculture, requiring additional woodland clearance, may have been practiced in some areas as a means of dealing with the increased risk of crop failure.

* In central southern England consistent evidence for woodland regeneration phases may reflect local land abandonment resulting from water-table rise and need not be indicative of major landscape-scale events away from sites prone to waterlogging.

* Pollen sequences provide no evidence that Icelandic volcanic eruptions had a significant impact on land use in Britain in the first millennium BC.


(By Licia Corbella in The Calgary Sun, 27 April 2006)

Exactly 31 years ago tomorrow Newsweek carried a story that predicted a rapidly cooling world that would result in a "drastic decline in food production -- with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth." Hmmmm? It's the same doom and gloom scenario we hear today except turned on its ear -- now, however, it's not about devastation caused by cooling but rather by global warming. Confused? Well, you need not be much longer.

Today, just one day prior to the anniversary of that April 28, 1975, Newsweek article about global cooling, Dr. Chris de Freitas, a world-renowned climatologist, geographer and environmentalist from the University of Auckland in New Zealand will help decipher all the hype and pseudo-science surrounding global warming during a lunchtime lecture at the Metropolitan Conference Centre, 333 4 Ave. S.W., ($40 tickets can be purchased at the door.) "Recently, media and politicians have virtually stopped talking about global warming and are now referring to climate change instead," states de Freitas. "That's because predictions of doom and gloom from warming just aren't coming true. But with 'climate change,' Kyoto advocates can now cite any change or phenomenon as proof that CO2 emissions have upset the global apple cart."

It's the old 'heads-I-win, tails-you-lose' trick played on a massive scale by "the global warming industry" who want to keep their hundreds of millions of research dollars flowing when their dire predictions of catastrophic warming are proven false, if not completely fraudulent. In the Newsweek piece about cooling it states: "In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually."

De Freitas points out that predicting the weather for the next two weeks, let alone the climate for the next 100 years or so, is impossible. What he can safely predict is the Earth will cool again one day and it will warm again, too. "There certainly isn't any evidence that there's going to be dramatic climate change because of human activity," says de Freitas over a glass of wine at a downtown restaurant. "The fear-mongering about more droughts and more floods is pure hype and pure speculation and is not based on science," he adds.

De Freitas says in the 1930s it was warmer in the Arctic than it is now -- before there was massive industrialization and man-made greenhouse gasses -- and between 1600-1800, Greenland actually lived up to its name -- it was green.

Currently, Greenland is losing ice on its southern margins but is gaining ice in its interior -- a measurable fact. Meanwhile, the Antarctic is cooling, with the exception of a small Antarctic peninsula as a result of currents. "There's been global cooling since 1998 because 1998 was the hottest year in the last 150 years," says de Freitas, adding "10,000 years ago it was much warmer than it is now." "From 1900 to 1940 there was global warming," he says, even though large scale industrialization didn't start until 1948. "Then, from 1940 to 1979 there was global cooling and that happened when we were putting heaps of carbon into the air."

De Freitas says today he will urge the Canadian government to scrap the Kyoto protocol and embrace the Asia-Pacific Partnership, something federal Environment Minister Rona Ambrose announced on Tuesday the government is considering. "If you do consult the facts, have an unbiased, open mind and you don't have an agenda, you can't help but be at least an agnostic on this," he adds.

De Freitas then cracks a smile and challenges Canadians who believe the unsubstantiated hypothesis of human-created global warming by saying it's "environmentally irresponsible to live in Canada where it's cold and large amounts of energy are needed to survive." He facetiously suggests the pro global warming crowd all move to Florida. Then again, if the scientists quoted in that Newsweek piece were right, Florida would be downright chilly, too.


(By Dr. Roy Spencer)

As part of the current media frenzy over the imminent demise of the Earth from global warming, it has become fashionable to demonize global warming skeptics through a variety of tactics. This has recently been accomplished by comparing scientists who don't believe in a global climate catastrophe to those who deny the Holocaust, to those who denied cigarettes cause cancer, or to 'flat-Earthers'.

It is interesting that it is not the scientists who are making the comparisons to Holocaust-deniers, but members of the media. For instance, Scott Pelley, who recently interviewed NASA's James Hansen for CBS's '60 Minutes', has been quoted on the CBS News PublicEye blog: "There is virtually no disagreement in the scientific community any longer about 'global warming'....the science that has been done in the last three to five years has been conclusive."

Pelley posted this quote to the same blog: "If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?"

This comparison between global warming skeptics and Holocaust-deniers illustrates the upside-down worldview that makes the public increasingly distrustful of the media. The Holocaust has mounds of documented evidence: survivors, eye witnesses, photographs, movie footage, concentration camps, artifacts, death showers, ovens, human bones. What does manmade global warming have? The theory that mankind has caused the globally averaged temperature to be 1 degree F warmer than it was a century ago. (I'm sure holocaust survivors appreciate the minimization of their ordeal through use of this analogy.)

In stark contrast, what we do have as a direct result of the environmentalist-led restrictions on the use of DDT is tens of millions of deaths, and hundreds of millions of cases of severe illness, from malaria in Africa. The silence from scientists on this is remarkable. Thankfully, the trend against DDT bans is finally changing, with countries like South Africa virtually eliminating malaria with DDT. Is mankind really ready for another major policy catastrophe based upon environmentalist (and media) rhetoric?

Whenever you see any media statement that "the science is settled" on global warming, note that exactly what is settled about global warming goes unmentioned. If it were stated, the statement would either be false, or at least it would not convey the necessary urgency to 'do something about global warming'. Or maybe today's journalists can not deal with that level of complexity...but for the time being I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

So, just what part of, "the science is settled on global warming", is really settled? Well, I would say that our current period of globally-averaged warmth is pretty indisputable, though possibly over-estimated. I say "globally-averaged" because some areas have actually cooled in the last 100 years. Furthermore, the majority of climate scientists would probably agree that some part of that warmth is manmade. But in contrast to the warmth itself, which has actually been measured with thermometers, its attribution to mankind's greenhouse gas emissions is only one possible explanation among many.

A minority of us would suggest that we really don't know how much of the current warmth is manmade versus natural. I suspect we are the Holocaust-denying, cancer-ignoring, flat-Earthers who still think the Moon landing was staged.

Marc Morano of Cybercast News Service recently reported on a curious teleconference where environmental group representatives, members of the media, and a Democratic congressional staffer joined in bashing those who would stand in the way of convincing the public that we should all "be afraid, be very afraid". One of those participating was Mark Hertsgaard, author of an article in the recent Earth Day issue of Vanity Fair, which had a (literally) green cover that included environmental experts such as Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and (of course) Al Gore.

In his article, Morano related some of Hertsgaard's comments: "People in the American media in the last six weeks have begun to say 'the debate is over'. [There is] a lot more coverage than we have ever seen of 'global warming'; a lot more pointed coverage than we have ever seen. It is very striking that it is years behind the coverage in Europe," Hertsgaard said. "People in Europe talked about the 'the climate loonies in the United States.' The Brits do not understand why people pay attention [to skeptics]", he added.

So, once again, we apparently need to look to Europe for our cues on what we should believe about global warming and climate policy, just as we should rely on their judicial rulings.

Further, the teleconference group derided "free-market think tanks". Reporter Paul Thacker offered, "I have often felt that these think tanks are kinda there just to dissuade journalists from covering these issues effectively...". Yes, and you know it's a well kept secret that free-market advocates only exist to keep everyone from learning how well socialism has worked throughout history. (Note the free-market comfort from which a free speech-loving journalist in a free-market economy can so freely bite the invisible hand that feeds him.)

Even Dr. Global Warming himself, James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies -- who participated in the same teleconference -- cautioned the others against pushing the rhetoric too far: "I am a little concerned about this, in the sense that we are still at a point where the natural fluctuations of climate are still large -- at least, the natural fluctuations of weather compared to long-term climate change." This is a much more moderate musing than some of his recent views, which include the warning that we might have only ten years left to turn things around, global warming-wise.

Dr. Hansen's advice might be too late. With upcoming movies, books, and the inevitable continuing stream of news stories about global warming science being settled, the tone of the debate does not appear to be ready to moderate any time soon. Despite the recent Gallup Poll results which indicated that, even though Americans believe that global warming will probably be worse than the media coverage suggests, on the environmental worries scale, global warming still only rates a 2.

Still, I'm left wondering...why does the global warming issue seem so much more important to the media than to the public -- to the point where they have do demonize skeptics with ad hominem attacks? Do they know something we don't know? I suspect it is more the reverse.

And how, exactly, do the media make the jump from "global warming being real", to the warming being entirely manmade, to the warming being catastrophic, to the faulting of the U.S. government for not implementing policy changes (Kyoto, Domenici-Bingaman) that won't help the problem anyway? That wasn't a rhetorical question...I really do want to know the answer. Send me an e-mail if you happen to know.

TCS Daily, 27 April 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

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, April 29, 2006


But Greenies might block this one too as it could involve the dreaded "Genetic engineering"

What happens to malaria parasites in their wild mosquito vector? Riehle et al. examined wild mosquitoes fed on the blood of naturally infected people in Mali and identified four genes that affect the insects' ability to resist the parasite. The genes act against at least three different species of malaria parasite. One of the genes, which causes parasite melanization in the lab, probably has little effect in natural systems. The three other genes, however closely resemble pattern-recognition resistance genes found in a many plants and animals. A large proportion of wild mosquitoes remained uninfected despite being fed malaria-infected blood.


Environmental Education: School of Crock

If there is anything worse than Americans' knowledge about the environment, it is their perception of it. Ask the experts. "Most Americans believe they know more about the environment than they actually do," the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation concluded from a Roper poll in 2003.

The poll found that:

120 million Americans think spray cans still have CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) in them. But CFCs were banned in 1978.

120 million think disposable diapers are the leading problem with landfills. They actually represent about 1 percent of the problem.

130 million believe that hydropower is America's top energy source. In fact, it accounts for just 10 percent of the total.

In spite of this, the foundation concluded that, "The pursuit of environmental literacy in America is widespread and popular." It should have added, "but not effective."

If Americans are confused, it's because they are spoonfed by sources with little information, but with alternative agendas. Consider where the average American gets that "information" on the environment. About 60 percent of respondents in Roper polls cited mostly television and newspapers; about 25 percent credited the government and 33 percent said radio or environmental groups. (More than one source could be chosen.)

Don't be duped into believing that governmental agencies given charge of the environment lack bias in what they share with the public. Consider these examples of selling an agenda:

The Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality in its 2001 Annual Report, "Driving a car is probably the most environmentally damaging activity a Connecticut resident will engage in."

From a journal article by staff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "With their vast asphalt parking areas and treeless streets, these (sprawling) cities coddle the automobile while denying children the opportunity to experience the wonder and joy of the natural world."

The environment, like so many other topics, has become a vehicle for cultural and political agendas. Former Greenpeace director Patrick Moore told John Stossel in an ABC-TV program in 2001 that the environmental movement has been hijacked by political activists. "They're using environmental rhetoric to cloak agendas like class warfare and anti-corporatism that, in fact, have almost nothing to do with ecology."

The lack of objective and accurate views characterizes most reports by interest groups, government agencies and even educational enterprises. Visitors to a Duke University Web site on its environmental experts see this: ( "America's Environmental Outlook for 2006 Isn't Sunny. Global warming clouds our future. Pollution degrades our air, soil and water. Environmental toxins compromise the health of our children. Misuse threatens the sustainability of our forests, fisheries, wetlands and coasts, and the health of species that live there." Why such a dreary prospect, when our environment has improved dramatically in the last 30 or 40 years?

Students are often subjected to unwarranted indoctrination. The syllabus for Ecology 1000 at the University of Georgia says, "Finally we ask the students to make an environmentally defensible change in their life style, and to quantify its potential impact on creating a sustainable future." The report makes up 20 percent of the laboratory grade and is discussed in two lab periods. So, it is not enough to educate students about the environment; they must change their lives! Imagine the uproar from such a requirement in religion or political science.

Bias is also obvious in the choice of books for a required report in that course. Of the nine listed for Fall semester 2005, not one told of progress; all were pessimistic about the future. Among the titles: "And the Waters Turned to Blood," "Our Stolen Future," and "Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy." Another, "The Boiling Point," about global warming, says "Under the administration of George W. Bush, the White House has become the East Coast branch office of ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal ..."

Students need contrasting viewpoints, but where is the contrast? Not in these books. This course is probably not typical, but it is safe to say that most are neither complimentary of environmental progress nor optimistic about future solutions. If professional environmentalists are so negative, how can the public get a balanced view?

Americans' need education about the environment, not distorted pessimism. A Yale University poll in 2005 found that 52 percent of Americans believe the environment in the United States is getting worse and only 15 percent think it is getting better. The majority in the Yale poll surely didn't know that the number of days of unhealthy air has decreased by 60 percent since 1980 (see graph), or that the federal ozone standard was not exceeded a single time in Illinois in 2004, down from thousands of times each year in the mid-1970s. They also couldn't have known that a 2000 EPA study of sewage treatment and restoration of rivers concluded, "tremendous progress has been made in improving water quality, restoring valuable fisheries and other biological resources, and creating extensive recreational opportunities in all nine case study sites."

It is fairly clear why Americans are so pessimistic and know so little of environmental progress. Environmental education in America is misdirected and failing.


Reducing Emissions Without Signing Treaties

Post lifted from Blogger News

If it was proposed that the United States reduce the following pollutants (based on 1970 levels)...
  • Carbon monoxide by half
  • Particulate emissions by 80%
  • Sulfur dioxide emissions by half
  • and virtually eliminate lead emissions

...would you consider that a reasonable proposal and ask the government to sign it? If we didn't sign it, would you consider it proof that we don't care about the environment? Do you believe that the free market or our own legislation couldn't possibly do this without an international treaty?

You'd be surprised. That's exactly what we have done, all without the Kyoto Protocol. The Wall St. Journal covered the "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators", which is published annually around Earth Day and it has its own web site as well.

The WSJ reminds us that the dire predictions of today are coming from the same people and groups that have a poor track record.
This year, for example, Vanity Fair has inaugurated an "Earth Issue," comprising 246 glossy, non-recycled pages of fashion ads, celebrity worship and environmental apocalypse. Highlights include computer-generated images of New York City underwater and the Washington mall as one big reflecting pool. The magazine also includes a breathless essay by U.S. environmental conscience-in-chief Al Gore. The message is that we are headed for an environmental catastrophe of the first order, and only drastic changes to the way we live can possibly prevent it.

If arguments were won through the use of italics, Mr. Gore would prevail in a knockout. But as Mr. Hayward notes in his "Index," the environmental movement as a whole has developed a credibility problem since the first Earth Day 36 years ago. In the 1970s, prominent greens were issuing dire predictions about mass starvation, overpopulation and--of all things--global cooling. Since then, population-growth estimates have come way down, biotechnology advances have found ways to feed more people than the doomsayers believed possible, and the global-cooling crisis has become the global-warming crisis without missing a beat.

The democratic process, the free market and scientific advancement really don't get enough credit in all of this. Treaties from on high that try to micromanage the process are a type of environmental socialism that has been shown not to work so many times in other ares of human behavior.


Feds going cold on windfarms (Hooray!)

Environment Minister Ian Campbell's campaign against unpopular wind farms will include a national code giving him new powers to veto any project facing community opposition. As Senator Campbell used the death of an endangered wedge-tail eagle to support claims that wind farms threatened birds, he vowed to defy threats of a constitutional challenge from Labor states to forge ahead with plans for the code. It would give him new powers to block any wind farm based on community opposition, not just on environmental grounds. Senator Campbell said he was close to securing a national agreement with the states, with the exception of Victoria and Western Australia. If he could not win their backing, he warned last night he would unilaterally extend federal powers as a "last resort". Senator Campbell last month infuriated the Victorian Government by stopping the Bald Hills wind farm project in Gippsland to "save" the endangered orange-bellied parrot. This week, he froze funding for a similar wind farm project on the south coast of Western Australia, which won state government approval but faced opposition from members of the local community. His hardline position came as it emerged yesterday that the rare wedge-tail eagle died after colliding with wind turbines at the Woolnorth Wind Farm in Tasmania's northwest in wind gusts of 140km/h. According to a report, it appears the eagle's wings were severed and the bird was decapitated by the turbines. Senator Campbell said the death sent a message to "those who sneer about me making a decision based on killing birds". "Wind farms kill birds very regularly," he said. "I think all those who snigger about environment ministers trying to protect threatened species - hopefully, this will be a bit of a wake-up call."

More here

Some Australian Greenies applaud Feds on windfarms

For a good part of his life, licensed surveyor Peter Mortimer has plied the waves of the pristine beaches around the idyllic West Australian town of Denmark. "It's one of those special places where you are isolated from anything man-made. It's a totally natural environment," he said. Mr Mortimer surfs one beach in the summer when the wind dies down and another, more sheltered, beach in winter when the fierce gusts blast their way over the southern Indian Ocean. Between the two beaches lies a local landmark, Wilson's Head, and it is there that a group of Denmark locals want to plant two or three turbines to harness the same strong winds. Mr Mortimer does not like the idea of having such machines, with their huge blades spinning away, overlooking him as he's trying to catch a wave. In Denmark, population 5000, it's the battle of who's greenest. Mr Mortimer say he is not against wind farms per se, he just thinks it is idiotic to put such an eyesore in one of the few spots on the state's southeast coast that has not been developed. He says that principle applies not just for locals, but for Perth types who go to Denmark to "wash away the pressures of the built environment". Mr Mortimer is outraged that the state Government overrode the views of the local council and rezoned Wilson's Head to accommodate the proposed wind farm. He is delighted that federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell has said he will block any further federal funding of the project, which received $240,000 for a feasibility study.

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.


Friday, April 28, 2006


Riding a motorbike through the countryside is one way to enjoy it but that pleasure has now been just about extinguished in Britain -- by The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERCA 2006). One understands that motorbikes should be kept out of SOME environments but the near-total ban now in force in the British countryside seems excessive. Below is an email received from a motorcycling lover of the British countryside who now has just about nowhere legal to go on his rural motorcycle rambles

"Like baying hounds, anti vehicle movements have cajoled DEFRA Ministers, Lords and MP's into extinguishing rights of way to motorised vehicle users using claims of damage, noise intrusion, and turning the countryside into a mud-bath for motors. What utter nonsense!

Britain's countryside is criss-crossed with ancient highways that were bypassed by the developers concrete and tarmac, and remain as a small 5% of un-surfaced Right of Way with vehicular access. Some of these old roads were correctly reclassified as Byways Open to All Traffic - these are true roads, and require the same documentation as any other - as such they give enormous pleasure to those few who take to their ways on two wheels and four. But the landowners intent on capitalising on their estate wealth, the curtain twitching do-gooders of middle England, and the fanatical 'ramblers only' brigade have waged war on a legitimate few thousand, claiming roads conceived for horse and cart were not suitable for motors. Would that some of those people could step back in time to when the horse and cart were king - most roads of such type were virtual quagmires for much of each year. Would they also have the farmer, forester, and works engineers revert to the horse as motive power? No, field, furrow, and forest will still ring to the sound of the chain saw and 200+hp turning five foot wheels to churn the ground.

The passage of some type of vehicle benefits many lanes, and the activities of user group working parties ensure clearer passage for all. There are four times more obstacles encountered on pure footpaths for this very reason. Even DEFRA's independently commissioned report declared the system of byways fit for sustained use - ignored! It didn't suit their previously conceived plan to relieve local authorities the onerous burden of fulfilling their statute duty which had been left unfulfilled since 1968 - to correctly re-classify their Definitive Map and Statement and bring it up to date.

With a mountain of red tape, a few users of such byways (0.25% of the National population), and the squeals of selfish organisations demanding vehicle extermination from the countryside - agriculture, forestry and civil works, the three major contributors to real damage will be allowed to continue, while legitimate and considerate users are denied. Those who indulge in illegal 'off road' activities will be unaffected - just another law to break - so what?

Another nail in the coffin of responsible government. Is "live and let live" so bad? Who's next for the chop - horse riding, fishing, canoeing, hang gliding, mountain biking? If you enjoy the outdoors it could be you!"

Another Note on Global Warming

Post lifted from Cafe Hayek

MIT Professor of Atmospheric Science Richard Lindzen has this to say about global warming. I found the most intriguing paragraph to be this one:

"If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less--hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.
(Hat tip to Vernon Smith.)

I'm not an atmospheric scientist, a climatologist, a meteorologist, or any other kind of hard scientist you care to name. -- (By the way, I'll bet that the vast majority of people who opine on global warming are just like me.) -- but I do know a thing or two about economics and the economics of politics. Regardless of the scientific merits of claims of global warming and claims of humankinds' role (or not) in promoting global warming, it is unscientific in the extreme to assume that government can or will handle whatever problem there is wisely. Simply to assume that, if problem X exists, giving power to government to solve problem X will actually solve problem X, or will do so without creating even worse problems Y and Z, is to ignore history and our scientific knowledge of politics


Comment by Mick Hume in the UK. If you don't know who Ming Campbell is, don't worry -- but "mingis" is how the Scottish name "Menzies" is pronounced

This fashion for ethical politics is a desperate attempt to compensate for the melting away of principles. Politicians who have no distinctive vision of the future are reduced to standing on their personal record of ethical correctness. Instead of a battle between competing worldviews, we are left with a contest to see which party leader has the biggest windmill.

These "I'm a good girl, I am!" gestures are designed to demonstrate that one is a decent person. They are the modern equivalent of the affectations of the genteel mode of living in Victorian times. Ming Campbell has left his Jag in the garage in the way that some might leave the bottle alone for Lent. David Cameron's domestic windmill is the energy equivalent of wearing a charity wristband (and likely to have about as much impact in the real world).

Yet there is something more going on here than mere spin. The message behind the new ethical politics appears to be that it is almost unethical to be human today. Just about everything associated with the progress of humanity from the caves to the 21st century seems to be on the "bad" list. From blue/green Dave Cameron to Newsnight's own "ethical man", we are lectured to do less, give up more, leave a smaller "footprint" on the planet.

Michael Meacher, the former Labour Environment Minister, has described humanity as a "virus" on the Earth. And one prominent environmental writer thinks it is more ethical to be gay than straight, since having children is a crime against the planet. To live, it seems, is to be guilty of stomping on the face of Gaia.

Just asking, but who gave environmentalists a monopoly on the meaning of ethics? Why is the ethical option always to lower expectations, to impose restraints, to bash humanity? From the point of view of a more rational, human-centred morality, it ought to be perfectly ethical to experiment on animals, to build new nuclear power stations, to start a population boom or even (whisper it) to drive a dreaded 4x4. And there should surely be a moral right to reach for your gun any time a politician tries to play the ethical card.

More here


Pesky observations from India

The clamour over climate change the world over notwithstanding, the country's weather agency believes that variation in rain and temperatures over the country being experienced over the years fall within the "natural variability". "We are keeping a watch. We are not denying.... It (the variations) are still under the natural variability," Director General of the India Meteorological Department Dr B Lal told reporters here today. There has been no significant change in terms of temperature and rainfall on year-to-year basis, he said. Monsoon was bad in 2002 while prediction was perfect in 2003. In 2004, there was a little deviation from the predicted rainfall but July rainfall that year was perfect, he said.

Similarly there has been a change in temperature of only 0.4-0.5 degrees. But it has been in pockets - some pockets have undergone cooling, others have undergone warming, he said. "For example, when one enters Delhi from other areas, there is a general feeling of warming, but this is due to population (density)," he said. "Thus, there is no clear cut signal...We are keeping a watch over temperatures," he said.

Lal said there had also been no increase in intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones. Since October 1999, there had not been any super cyclone in the country. Last year there were only five disturbances, of which two became cyclones of marginal value, he said. Scientists in the country have been claiming that evidence of climate change is all too evident and the government should initiate studies in the area.

ZeeNews, 25 April 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

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, April 27, 2006


An article from Britain's "The Economist". Note: In Britain, gasoline is called "petrol"

In 1894 Le Petit Journal of Paris organised the world's first endurance race for "vehicles without horses". The race was held on the 78-mile (125km) route from Paris to Rouen, and the purse was a juicy 5,000 francs. The rivals used all manner of fuels, ranging from steam to electricity to compressed air. The winner was a car powered by a strange new fuel that had previously been used chiefly in illumination, as a substitute for whale blubber: petrol derived from oil.

Despite the victory, petrol's future seemed uncertain back then. Internal-combustion vehicles were seen as noisy, smelly and dangerous. By 1900 the market was still split equally among steam, electricity and petrol-and even Henry Ford's Model T ran on both grain-alcohol and petrol. In the decades after that great race petrol came to dominate the world's transportation system. Oil left its rivals in the dust not only because internal-combustion engines proved more robust and powerful than their rivals, but also because oil reserves proved to be abundant.

Now comes what appears to be the most powerful threat to oil's supremacy in a century: growing fears that the black gold is running dry. For years a small group of geologists has been claiming that the world has started to grow short of oil, that alternatives cannot possibly replace it and that an imminent peak in production will lead to economic disaster. In recent months this view has gained wider acceptance on Wall Street and in the media. Recent books on oil have bewailed the threat. Every few weeks, it seems, "Out of Gas", "The Empty Tank" and "The Coming Economic Collapse: How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 a Barrel", are joined by yet more gloomy titles. Oil companies, which once dismissed the depletion argument out of hand, are now part of the debate. Chevron's splashy advertisements strike an ominous tone: "It took us 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil. We'll use the next trillion in 30." Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, believes "the debate has changed in the last two years from 'Can we afford oil?' to 'Is the oil there?'"

But is the world really starting to run out of oil? And would hitting a global peak of production necessarily spell economic ruin? Both questions are arguable. Despite today's obsession with the idea of "peak oil", what really matters to the world economy is not when conventional oil production peaks, but whether we have enough affordable and convenient fuel from any source to power our current fleet of cars, buses and aeroplanes. With that in mind, the global oil industry is on the verge of a dramatic transformation from a risky exploration business into a technology-intensive manufacturing business. And the product that big oil companies will soon be manufacturing, argues Shell's Mr Van der Veer, is "greener fossil fuels".

The race is on to manufacture such fuels for blending into petrol and diesel today, thus extending the useful life of the world's remaining oil reserves. This shift in emphasis from discovery to manufacturing opens the door to firms outside the oil industry (such as America's General Electric, Britain's Virgin Fuels and South Africa's Sasol) that are keen on alternative energy. It may even result in a breakthrough that replaces oil altogether. To see how that might happen, consider the first question: is the world really running out of oil? Colin Campbell, an Irish geologist, has been saying since the 1990s that the peak of global oil production is imminent. Kenneth Deffeyes, a respected geologist at Princeton, thought that the peak would arrive late last year.

It did not. In fact, oil production capacity might actually grow sharply over the next few years. Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), an energy consultancy, has scrutinised all of the oil projects now under way around the world. Though noting rising costs, the firm concludes that the world's oil-production capacity could increase by as much as 15m barrels per day (bpd) between 2005 and 2010-equivalent to almost 18% of today's output and the biggest surge in history. Since most of these projects are already budgeted and in development, there is no geological reason why this wave of supply will not become available (though politics or civil strife can always disrupt output).

Peak-oil advocates remain unconvinced. A sign of depletion, they argue, is that big Western oil firms are finding it increasingly difficult to replace the oil they produce, let alone build their reserves. Art Smith of Herold, a consultancy, points to rising "finding and development" costs at the big firms, and argues that the world is consuming two to three barrels of oil for every barrel of new oil found. Michael Rodgers of PFC Energy, another consultancy, says that the peak of new discoveries was long ago. "We're living off a lottery we won 30 years ago," he argues.

It is true that the big firms are struggling to replace reserves. But that does not mean the world is running out of oil, just that they do not have access to the vast deposits of cheap and easy oil that are left in Russia and members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). And as the great fields of the North Sea and Alaska mature, non-OPEC oil production will probably peak by 2010 or 2015. That is soon-but it says nothing of what really matters, which is the global picture.

When the United States Geological Survey (USGS) studied the matter closely, it concluded that the world had around 3 trillion barrels of recoverable conventional oil in the ground. Of that, only one-third has been produced. That, argued the USGS, puts the global peak beyond 2025. And if "unconventional" hydrocarbons such as tar sands and shale oil (which can be converted with greater effort to petrol) are included, the resource base grows dramatically-and the peak recedes much further into the future.

After Ghawar

It is also true that oilmen will probably discover no more "super-giant" fields like Saudi Arabia's Ghawar (which alone produces 5m bpd). But there are even bigger resources available right under their noses. Technological breakthroughs such as multi-lateral drilling helped defy predictions of decline in Britain's North Sea that have been made since the 1980s: the region is only now peaking.

Globally, the oil industry recovers only about one-third of the oil that is known to exist in any given reservoir. New technologies like 4-D seismic analysis and electromagnetic "direct detection" of hydrocarbons are lifting that "recovery rate", and even a rise of a few percentage points would provide more oil to the market than another discovery on the scale of those in the Caspian or North Sea.

Further, just because there are no more Ghawars does not mean an end to discovery altogether. Using ever fancier technologies, the oil business is drilling in deeper waters, more difficult terrain and even in the Arctic (which, as global warming melts the polar ice cap, will perversely become the next great prize in oil). Large parts of Siberia, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have not even been explored with modern kit.

The petro-pessimists' most forceful argument is that the Persian Gulf, officially home to most of the world's oil reserves, is overrated. Matthew Simmons, an American energy investment banker, argues in his book, "Twilight in the Desert", that Saudi Arabia's oil fields are in trouble. In recent weeks a scandal has engulfed Kuwait, too. Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW), a respected industry newsletter, got hold of government documents suggesting that Kuwait might have only half of the nearly 100 billion barrels in oil reserves that it claims (Saudi Arabia claims 260 billion barrels).

Tom Wallin, publisher of PIW, warns that "the lesson from Kuwait is that the reserves figures of national governments must be viewed with caution." But that still need not mean that a global peak is imminent. So vast are the remaining reserves, and so well distributed are today's producing areas, that a radical revision downwards-even in an OPEC country-does not mean a global peak is here.

For one thing, Kuwait's official numbers always looked dodgy. IHS Energy, an industry research outfit that constructs its reserve estimates from the bottom up rather than relying on official proclamations, had long been using a figure of 50 billion barrels for Kuwait. Ron Mobed, boss of IHS, sees no crisis today: "Even using our smaller number, Kuwait still has 50 years of production left at current rates." As for Saudi Arabia, most independent contractors and oil majors that have first-hand knowledge of its fields are convinced that the Saudis have all the oil they claim-and that more remains to be found.

Pessimists worry that Saudi Arabia's giant fields could decline rapidly before any new supply is brought online. In Jeremy Leggett's thoughtful, but gloomy, book, "The Empty Tank", Mr Simmons laments that "the only alternative right now is to shrink our economies." That poses a second big question: whenever the production peak comes, will it inevitably prompt a global economic crisis? The baleful thesis arises from concerns both that a cliff lies beyond any peak in production and that alternatives to oil will not be available. If the world oil supply peaked one day and then fell away sharply, prices would indeed rocket, shortages and panic buying would wreak havoc and a global recession would ensue. But there are good reasons to think that a global peak, whenever it comes, need not lead to a collapse in output.

For one thing, the nightmare scenario of Ghawar suddenly peaking is not as grim as it first seems. When it peaks, the whole "super-giant" will not drop from 5m bpd to zero, because it is actually a network of inter-linked fields, some old and some newer. Experts say a decline would probably be gentler and prolonged. That would allow, indeed encourage, the Saudis to develop new fields to replace lost output. Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali Naimi, points to an unexplored area on the Iraqi-Saudi border the size of California, and argues that such untapped resources could add 200 billion barrels to his country's tally. This contains worries of its own-Saudi Arabia's market share will grow dramatically as non-OPEC oil peaks, and with it the potential for mischief. But it helps to debunk claims of a sudden change. The notion of a sharp global peak in production does not withstand scrutiny, either. CERA's Peter Jackson points out that the price signals that would surely foreshadow any "peak" would encourage efficiency, promote new oil discoveries and speed investments in alternatives to oil. That, he reckons, means the metaphor of a peak is misleading: "The right picture is of an undulating plateau."

What of the notion that oil scarcity will lead to economic disaster? Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute, an American think-tank, insist the key is to avoid the price controls and monetary-policy blunders of the sort that turned the 1970s oil shocks into economic disasters. Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard professor and the former chief economist of the IMF, thinks concerns about peak oil are greatly overblown: "The oil market is highly developed, with worldwide trading and long-dated futures going out five to seven years. As oil production slows, prices will rise up and down the futures curve, stimulating new technology and conservation. We might be running low on $20 oil, but for $60 we have adequate oil supplies for decades to come."

The other worry of pessimists is that alternatives to oil simply cannot be brought online fast enough to compensate for oil's imminent decline. If the peak were a cliff or if it arrived soon, this would certainly be true, since alternative fuels have only a tiny global market share today (though they are quite big in markets, such as ethanol-mad Brazil, that have favourable policies). But if the peak were to come after 2020 or 2030, as the International Energy Agency and other mainstream forecasters predict, then the rising tide of alternative fuels will help transform it into a plateau and ease the transition to life after oil.

The best reason to think so comes from the radical transformation now taking place among big oil firms. The global oil industry, argues Chevron, is changing from "an exploration business to a manufacturing business". To see what that means, consider the surprising outcome of another great motorcar race. In March, at the Sebring test track in Florida, a sleek Audi prototype R-10 became the first diesel-powered car to win an endurance race, pipping a field of petrol-powered rivals to the post. What makes this tale extraordinary is that the diesel used by the Audi was not made in the normal way, exclusively from petroleum. Instead, Shell blended conventional diesel with a super-clean and super-powerful new form of diesel made from natural gas (with the clunky name of gas-to-liquids, or GTL).

Several big GTL projects are under way in Qatar, where the North gas field is perhaps twice the size of even Ghawar when measured in terms of the energy it contains. Nigeria and others are also pursuing GTL. Since the world has far more natural gas left than oil-much of it outside the Middle East-making fuel in this way would greatly increase the world's remaining supplies of oil.

So, too, would blending petrol or diesel with ethanol and biodiesel made from agricultural crops, or with fuel made from Canada's "tar sands" or America's shale oil. Using technology invented in Nazi Germany and perfected by South Africa's Sasol when those countries were under oil embargoes, companies are now also investing furiously to convert not only natural gas but also coal into a liquid fuel. Daniel Yergin of CERA says "the very definition of oil is changing, since non-conventional oil becomes conventional over time."

Alternative fuels will not become common overnight, as one veteran oilman acknowledges: "Given the capital-intensity of manufacturing alternatives, it's now a race between hydrocarbon depletion and making fuel." But the recent rise in oil prices has given investors confidence. As Peter Robertson, vice-chairman of Chevron, puts it, "Price is our friend here, because it has encouraged investment in new hydrocarbons and also the alternatives." Unless the world sees another OPEC-engineered price collapse as it did in 1985 and 1998, GTL, tar sands, ethanol and other alternatives will become more economic by the day.

This is not to suggest that the big firms are retreating from their core business. They are pushing ahead with these investments mainly because they cannot get access to new oil in the Middle East: "We need all the molecules we can get our hands on," says one oilman. It cannot have escaped the attention of oilmen that blending alternative fuels into petrol and diesel will conveniently reinforce oil's grip on transport. But their work contains the risk that one of the upstart fuels could yet provide a radical breakthrough that sidelines oil altogether.

If you doubt the power of technology or the potential of unconventional fuels, visit the Kern River oil field near Bakersfield, California. This super-giant field is part of a cluster that has been pumping out oil for more than 100 years. It has already produced 2 billion barrels of oil, but has perhaps as much again left. The trouble is that it contains extremely heavy oil, which is very difficult and costly to extract. After other companies despaired of the field, Chevron brought Kern back from the brink. Applying a sophisticated steam-injection process, the firm has increased its output beyond the anticipated peak. Using a great deal of automation (each engineer looks after 1,000 small wells drilled into the reservoir), the firm has transformed a process of "flying blind" into one where wells "practically monitor themselves and call when they need help".

The good news is that this is not unique. China also has deposits of heavy oil that would benefit from such an advanced approach. America, Canada and Venezuela have deposits of heavy hydrocarbons that surpass even the Saudi oil reserves in size. The Saudis have invited Chevron to apply its steam-injection techniques to recover heavy oil in the neutral zone that the country shares with Kuwait. Mr Naimi, the oil minister, recently estimated that this new technology would lift the share of the reserve that could be recovered as useful oil from a pitiful 6% to above 40%.

All this explains why, in the words of Exxon Mobil, the oil production peak is unlikely "for decades to come". Governments may decide to shift away from petroleum because of its nasty geopolitics or its contribution to global warming. But it is wrong to imagine the world's addiction to oil will end soon, as a result of genuine scarcity. As Western oil companies seek to cope with being locked out of the Middle East, the new era of manufactured fuel will further delay the onset of peak production. The irony would be if manufactured fuel also did something far more dramatic-if it served as a bridge to whatever comes beyond the nexus of petrol and the internal combustion engine that for a century has held the world in its grip.



It is the fashion these days to apply the overused phrase the "tipping point" to just about everything, especially when it comes to bad news for the environment. And nowhere is the pessimism greater than when it comes to China, whose spectacular economic growth and voracious appetite for natural resources is said to be leading the region and perhaps the world toward irreversible ecological catastrophe.

This story line, played out in countless media headlines over the past few years, has it backwards. China has indeed reached a tipping point on the environment - the point at which it begins to make environmental improvements.

It's about time. China has some of the worst pollution problems in the world. Nearly two-thirds of China's 343 major cities currently fail to meet the nation's air quality standards. The World Health Organization seven of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in China. Pollution levels in China's major cities are 10 to 50 times higher than the worst smoggy day in Los Angeles.

The story is much the same with water pollution. China is desperately short of potable water. Groundwater has been badly depleted, and surface water sources are equally overused. The Yellow River, for example, has run dry every year since 1985 because of diversions; in 1997, it failed to reach the ocean for 226 days. Severe water pollution has led to shutdowns of major urban water systems, such as occurred last year in the city of Harbin following a chemical spill in the Songhua River. The city of 3.8 million people was without running water for nearly a week.

These and other environmental trends are supposedly going to get worse as China continues its headlong drive to become a modern industrial nation. "China's Next Big Boom Could Be the Foul Air," the New York Times reported last October. Yet these predictions are already out of date. A look at the data shows that China is on the curve that other modern industrialized nations followed in the mid-20th century, whereby pollution starts to fall even as the economy continues to grow. Sulfur dioxide and particulate levels have actually fallen in Beijing and other major cities over the last decade, at the same time as the number of motor vehicles China nearly quadrupled and total energy consumption increased by one-third.

China is slowly turning the corner on the environment for the same reason the U.S. and other advanced economies reversed course a generation ago - economic growth provides the means to implement better technology to reduce pollution. China has been enacting environmental laws that resemble the landmark legislation the U.S. and Europe enacted in the 1970s, and China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) reports that spending for environmental projects is increasing about 15 percent a year. China has adopted the European Union's automobile tailpipe standards, for example, and has even begun to emulate our Environmental Impact Review process for major construction projects.

China is working at breakneck speed to reverse its water pollution and supply problems as well. Industrial discharge of petroleum-related pollutants and heavy metals into rivers and oceans has been cut in half over the last decade. Wastewater treatment facilities are quickly being built; between 2000 and 2005, total wastewater capacity doubled. China's reforestation program appears to be taking flight; SEPA reports that 4.8 million hectares of forestland were planted in 2004, and that forestland has been growing at slightly more than 1 percent a year over the last decade.

China today is roughly where the United States was in 1950 terms of environmental performance. In those days the U.S. still poured raw sewage and chemicals directly into rivers and lakes and the ocean, and had little along the lines of air pollution controls. Like the U.S. 50 years ago, China has a long way to go. Some of the environmental news out of China is going to get worse before it gets better. The central point remains, however, that China's environmental news is going to start improving a lot sooner and a lot faster than people expect.

The most intriguing possibility from this story is how environmental reform might contribute to political reform and liberalization. Many of the changes in China's environmental performance are coming in response to large public protests - and frequent riots - over pollution. The environment, often an anti-democratic force in American governance, might prove to be a tipping point toward democracy in China.

National Review Online, 21 April 2006


An Editorial from "The Scotsman", 23 April 2006

The most bizarre sight of last week was that of David Cameron driving a team of huskies across the Norwegian snows. If it is hard to imagine how the ruddy-cheeked Tory leader could more blatantly illustrate his commitment to the environment, it was also difficult to take the scene entirely seriously.

The same cannot be said about the green agenda, however. Concern about the environment is no longer a minority preoccupation: it engages people across the whole spectrum of society, of all political opinions. To that extent, Cameron is right to address the issue. But it is an issue that needs to be examined closely, scientifically and dispassionately, not fuelled by hysteria. Apocalyptic alarmism from green activists has become the secular equivalent of those religious cults that regularly assemble on mountain tops in expectation of the imminent end of the world.

What are the facts about global warming? The only honest answer is: we do not know. Nor is our knowledge advanced by scientists who are not climatic experts issuing sensational pronouncements. Detailed temperature records date only from 1860. These show that between then and 1915 there was no change in the northern hemisphere. Between 1915 and 1945 there was a rise of 0.4C, countered in the following 20 years by a fall of 0.2C. During the remainder of the 20th century there was a rise of 0.4C, making an overall increase of 0.6C over the century.

That is hardly grounds for panic in the streets, especially when we recall that Britain had almost tropical temperatures in the Roman period and was at least as hot as today in the Middle Ages.

What casts further confusion on the issue is the supposition that our curbing sulphur dioxide emissions (which have a cooling effect) from 1965 allowed carbon dioxide full rein to heat up the planet. In that case, might China's planned 562 new coal-fired power stations, while emitting twice as much warming carbon dioxide as gas-fired stations, also restore cooling sulphur dioxide emissions to pre-1965 levels? The equation is unreadable.

The other major environmental issue is the sustainability of oil supplies. Is the oil supply about to dry up? Yes, in about a century from now - by which time science, advancing exponentially, will certainly have provided an alternative energy source. We already have such man-made fuels as ethanol, derived from plants, and diesel based on coal and gas. Greener fossil fuels are in the pipeline, with Britain's Virgin Fuels prominent in this development.

Meanwhile, it has been estimated by Cambridge Energy Research Associates that the world's oil-production capacity could increase by up to 15 million barrels per day. The United States Geological Survey has concluded that the world has about three trillion barrels of recoverable conventional oil underground, of which only one-third has been produced. The oilfields that look most likely to fail are in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Otherwise, there is no shortage.

Whatever the answer to environmental concerns may be, it most emphatically is not Kyoto - a cynical exercise in gesture politics. It is characteristic that the first country to sign the protocol was Romania, whose toxic emissions can be seen from outer space. America is vilified for having refused to endorse Kyoto (by a telling 95-0 vote in the Senate). But it has devoted $20bn to serious exploration of environmentally friendly alternative energy.

Science and the market are the twin pillars on which environmental recovery will be supported. Instead of fining firms for carbon emissions, they should be offered tax breaks to clean up their act. Incentive rather than coercion should be the motor of environmental improvement. If there is an urgent need for something, the market can react by producing it. We do not know the scale of the risk. But we must allow for the possibility that the more pessimistic forecasts are right. We need an insurance policy; but we should shop around discriminatingly and calmly. We are not a' doomed; but we need to research, to plan and to invest in a sensibly green future.

Australia: New dams at last

It looks like the water shortage in Queensland has finally trumped the dam-hating Greenies

The $1 billion the Queensland government expects to earn from the sale of its power retailers will be used to build two new dams and set up a special infrastructure fund. Premier Peter Beattie said today his government would sell the retail arms of its power suppliers Energex and Ergon Energy, in a trade sale expected to earn more than $1 billion. The sale will take place in several tranches before the end of the year, ensuring the state market is ready for full retail contestability from July 1 next year.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Anna Bligh said the sale would not influence the government's Budget, which was in good shape and expected to deliver a "very healthy surplus" when brought down on June 6. Instead, the expected $1 billion windfall would be ploughed into a Queensland Future Growth Fund, to be managed by Treasury, with legislation ensuring proceeds are spent solely on infrastructure needs. The fund's first projects include financing two new dams, located along the Mary and Logan rivers in south-east Queensland, to be built by 2011.

The Mary River dam, north of Brisbane, will service Gympie and the Sunshine Coast - it will rival the size of Brisbane's Wivenhoe Dam. A second dam would also be built along the upper reaches of the Logan River, either at the already-proposed Wyaralong Dam site or at Tilleys Bridge, near Rathdowney, providing water to western areas including Ipswich, Springfield and Beenleigh. Two new weirs will also be built in central Queensland and $300 million invested in clean coal technology.

Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg said while he approved of the decision in principle, the government's move was a "fire sale" to cover up black holes in its next budget



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, April 26, 2006


The 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident of April 26, 1986 is prompting a new wave of alarmist claims about its impact on human health and the environment. As has become a ritual on such commemorative occasions, the death toll is tallied in the hundreds of thousands, and fresh reports are made of elevated rates of cancer, birth defects, and overall mortality.

This picture is both badly distorted and harmful to the victims of the Chernobyl accident. All reputable scientific studies conducted so far have concluded that the impact of radiation has been less damaging than was feared. A few dozen emergency workers who battled the fire at the reactor succumbed to acute radiation sickness. Studies are still under way into elevated rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease among the "liquidators" who worked at the reactor site in the months following the accident. And some 5,000 cases of thyroid cancer, attributed to radioactive iodine absorbed through consumption of milk in the weeks immediately following the accident, have been detected among those who were children at the time.

There has been real suffering, particularly among the 330,000 people who were relocated after the accident. About that there is no doubt. But, for the five million people living in affected regions who are designated as Chernobyl "victims," radiation has had no discernable impact on physical health.

This is because these people were exposed to low radiation doses that in most cases were comparable to natural background levels. Two decades of natural decay and remediation measures mean that most territories originally deemed "contaminated" no longer merit that label. Aside from thyroid cancer, which has been successfully treated in 98.5 percent of cases, scientists have not been able to document any connection between radiation and any physical condition.

Where a clear impact has been found is mental health. Fear of radiation, it seems, poses a far more potent health threat than does radiation itself. Symptoms of stress are rampant, and many residents of affected areas firmly believe themselves to be condemned by radiation to ill health and early death.

In part, this is because the initial Soviet response was secretive: Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader at the time, addressed the issue on television only weeks later, on May 14, 1986. Myths and misconceptions have taken root, and these have outlasted subsequent efforts to provide reliable information. Combined with sweeping government benefit policies that classify millions of people living in Chernobyl-affected areas as invalids, such myths encouraged fatalistic and passive behaviors and created a "culture of dependency" among affected communities.

The United Nations Chernobyl Forum, a consortium of eight U.N. agencies and representatives of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, reinforced these findings. Chernobyl Forum was created to address the prevailing confusion concerning the impact of the accident, both among the public and government officials, by declaring a clear verdict on issues where a scientific consensus could be found. The Forum succeeded in this effort, and a fresh and reassuring message on the impact of radiation was made public in September.

The Chernobyl Forum findings should have brought relief, for they show that the specter haunting the region is not invincible radiation, but conquerable poverty. What the region needs are policies aimed at generating new livelihoods rather than reinforcing dependency; public-health campaigns that address the lifestyle issues (smoking and drinking) that undermine health across the former Soviet Union; and community development initiatives that promote self-reliance and a return to normalcy.

But the reception given to the Chernobyl Forum's message has been surprisingly mixed. Some officials have reverted to alarmist language on the number of fatalities attributed to Chernobyl. Some NGO's and Chernobyl charities have responded with disbelief, citing as evidence the general population's admittedly poor health. Opponents of nuclear power have suggested that self-interest has compromised the Chernobyl Forum's integrity.

Set against the impressive body of science underpinning the Chernobyl Forum, such responses reflect the tenacity not only of myths and misconceptions, but also of vested interests. The new view on Chernobyl threatens the existence of charities - such as those offering health "respites" abroad for children - that depend for their fund-raising on graphic footage of deformed babies.

The new understanding also deprives the region's officials of a routine way to seek international sympathy, even if the repetition of such appeals after two decades yields little financial aid. By misstating the problems, these approaches threaten to divert scarce resources into the wrong remedies.

The twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl accident is an ideal occasion for all actors to do some honest soul-searching. Governments are right to worry about the fate of Chernobyl-affected territories, but the way forward will require fresh thinking and bold decisions, particularly a shift in priorities from paying paltry benefits to millions to targeted spending that helps to promote jobs and economic growth. Similarly, charities are right to worry about the population's health, but they should focus on promoting healthy lifestyles in affected communities rather than whisking children abroad as if their homes were poisonous.

All parties are right to worry about the affected populations, but, more than any sophisticated diagnostic equipment, what is needed is credible information, presented in a digestible format, to counter Chernobyl's destructive legacy of fear. The children of Chernobyl are all grown up; their interests, and those of their own children, are best served not by continually evoking the nightmare of radiation, but by giving them the tools and authority they need to rebuild their own communities.



Greenpeace on Tuesday released a report claiming the death toll from Chernobyl is many times higher than a 2005 UN estimate. But is the report based on "bad science" as critics claim? Just how many people may ultimately die as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster two decades ago has long been one of the largest questions raised by the meltdown. Almost every year, a new study comes out on or near the catastrophe's late April anniversary with yet another estimate.

This year, it was the turn of Greenpeace, which on Tuesday released a controversial new report (pdf) that argues that the number of Chernobyl dead may be much higher than the 4,000 estimated in a 2005 report (pdf) issued by the United Nations group Chernobyl Forum. As many as 90,000 victims may eventually succumb to radiation-related illnesses, the Greenpeace report says.

The report relied on extrapolations from data on cancer incidence taken from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine -- all countries hit hard by the vast radiation cloud which spewed out of Reactor Four after it exploded in the early morning hours of April 26, 1986. Statistics from Belarus, for example, indicate that there are 270,000 cases of cancer attributable to the Chernobyl disaster in the hardest hit areas with 93,000 of those cases likely to be fatal, according to the report. Greenpeace also cited a report by Veniamin Khudolei of the Center for Independent Environmental Assessment of the Russian Academy of Sciences which found that the mortality rate in western Russia has sharply increased in the last 15 years, suggesting a possible connection with Chernobyl radiation.

Greenpeace used the report's release as an opportunity to blast the findings of the UN Chernobyl Forum. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is part of the Forum, came in for particular abuse during the presentation of the study in London with Greenpeace accusing it of playing down the dangers of nuclear energy. "The nuclear industry is the most dangerous in the world, and they (the IAEA) are definitely trying to minimize the results of the Chernobyl catastrophe," Ivan Blokov of Greenpeace's Russia office told the Associated Press. "We have a report showing the incredible damage caused to humans ... . Nearly every system of the organism is damaged."

The Chernobyl Forum firmly rejects the Greenpeace accusation. Its report, which said that fewer than 50 deaths can be conclusively linked to Chernobyl, argues that death by cancer among the some 5 million people who received low radiation doses would be almost statistically invisible. The report was put together by experts from a number of different agencies from within the UN including the IAEA and the World Health Organization (WHO). "Peer reviewed science only really started developing in Russia and the Soviet states after the Soviet Union collapsed," Mikhail Balonov, Scientific Secretary of the Chernobyl Forum, told SPIEGEL ONLINE in criticizing the Greenpeace results which relied entirely on locally produced studies. "If you want to get some serious conclusions from the data, it has to be in peer reviewed papers. Unfortunately none of the studies cited in the new report have been peer reviewed ... . It relies on bad science."

Gregory Haertl, a Geneva-based spokesman for WHO -- which was responsible for the health data used in the Forum report -- likewise warns against accepting the Greenpeace report at face value. "I would approach this study with care. One always has to remind people why people make such estimates," H„rtl told SPIEGEL ONLINE, in reference to Greenpeace's staunchly anti-nuclear stance.

Indeed, many scientists concede that determining where an individual health problem comes from is difficult, particularly in a part of the world characterized by poor economic conditions and unhealthy lifestyles including high rates of drinking and smoking. Haertl also says that the further one travels from the disaster zone, the more difficult it becomes to conclusively link illnesses to Chernobyl radiation.

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NASA Expert Tells Alarmists to Cool Down Climate Hype

NASA scientist James Hansen warned that environmental activists and the media better be more cautious with their rhetoric regarding "global warming." In addition, a CBS News "60 Minutes" reporter recently compared skeptics of "global warming" to Holocaust deniers. Hansen, who was responding to a question about the increased media coverage of "global warming" in recent months, issued the warning during a teleconference with a top Democratic congressional staff member, liberal environmental groups and journalists. "I am a little concerned about this, in the sense that we are still at a point where the natural fluctuations of climate are still large -- at least, the natural fluctuations of weather compared to long-term climate change," Hansen, director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the participants in the April 13 teleconference. "So we don't want the public to hang their hat on a recent storm, recent hurricanes for example, because those will fluctuate from year to year," he said.

Hansen, who alleged in January that the Bush administration has been suppressing science for political purposes, believes that humans must curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert a climate catastrophe.

Speakers who participated with Hansen during the teleconference called the GOP-controlled Congress "regressive," referred to U.S. scientists and policymakers skeptical of the catastrophic effects of possible temperature changes as "climate loonies," derided free-market think tanks and linked scientists skeptical of "global warming" to the past tobacco industry tactics of manipulating the science on the health effects of cigarette smoke. The National Environmental Trust hosted the teleconference, which featured Hansen, Phil Schiliro, the Democratic minority chief of staff of the House Government Reform Committee, and Mark Hertsgaard, who wrote a cover story on the environment for an issue of "Vanity Fair" magazine timed to coincide with Earth Day, April 22

Schiliro, who staffed Congressman Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) investigation and hearings on tobacco industry executives and cigarette smoking, blamed the GOP for the failure to address "global warming" issues. "There is a deep-seated, regressive view in the House on not dealing with these issues," Schiliro said. "Point well taken," responded Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust and moderator of the teleconference.

This is not the first time Hansen has aligned himself with officials from the Democratic Party. As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Hansen publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife. In addition, he acted as a consultant earlier this year to former Democratic Vice President Al Gore's slide-show presentations on "global warming." Hansen, who also complained about censorship during the administration of President George H. W. Bush in 1989, previously acknowledged that he supported the "emphasis on extreme scenarios" regarding climate change models in order to drive the public's attention to the issue.

'Climate loonies'

During the teleconference, the lack of perceived scientific consensus by some in the media and government was cited as the reason coverage has failed to inform the American people on the seriousness of "global warming," according to Hertsgaard, who wrote the April 2006 Vanity Fair cover story entitled "While Washington Slept." "People in the American media in the last six weeks have begun to say 'the debate is over.' [There is] a lot more coverage than we have ever seen of 'global warming;' a lot more pointed coverage than we have ever seen. It is very striking that it is years behind the coverage in Europe," Hertsgaard said. "People in Europe talked about the 'the climate loonies in the United States.' The Brits do not understand why people pay attention [to skeptics]," he added.

The teleconference was open to the media and fielded questions from New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin, CNN, U.S. News & World Report and other media outlets. Not a single question was posed to the panel during the teleconference challenging the panelists' views on climate change or the politics surrounding it. Some of the media questions even elaborated on the points made by the panel and offered helpful advice on strategy.

During reporter Paul Thacker's question to the panel, he helped them make one of their points regarding how D.C.-based free market think tanks are trying to cloud the "global warming" science. Thacker is associate editor at Environmental Science & Technology. "Don't forget that Steven Milloy is also the science columnist for Fox News. Give them credit," Thacker said after one panelist attempted to discredit Milloy. Milloy publishes the website, which takes a skeptical view of catastrophic climate change. Thacker then offered his own supportive thoughts to the panelists on the impact of free market think tanks. "I have often felt that these think tanks are kinda there just to dissuade journalists from covering these issues effectively and to do the sort of 'he said, she said' two-sides quote," Thacker said, referring to the free market think tanks that take a skeptical view of "global warming."

Cybercast News Service was not given the opportunity to ask a question during the teleconference despite having registered for the event. The moderator told panelists that there were no more questions from the media even though Cybercast News Service made repeated attempts to ask a question.

Skeptics compared to 'Holocaust denier'

Revkin, the reporter from the New York Times, has previously noted that industry-funded groups want "to dust the discourse with just enough uncertainty and confusion to make the public go 'never mind' and the[n] press snooze," and these efforts "have been extraordinarily effective." Revkin told the Spring 2006 issue of Society of Environmental Journalists that he hopes his upcoming climate change book, "The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles & Perils at the Top of the World," will educate politicians.

"There might even be some politicians who'll finally have a book on climate change they can understand. I haven't quite given up on grownups yet, but I'm getting close," Revkin said of his book, which is aimed at children 10 years of age and older. "Basically, my orientation as a reporter and a human being is to focus on avoiding or mitigating irreversible losses where they can be anticipated. Extinction and long-term climate change are the two biggies in the environment arena. And that shows no sign of changing," Revkin said.

CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley, who has done several high-profile reports for "60 Minutes" on climate change, also agrees that the science of "global warming" is settled. "There is virtually no disagreement in the scientific community any longer about 'global warming,'" he said. "The science that has been done in the last three to five years has been conclusive," Pelley told the CBS News's PublicEye blog in February. Pelley's profile of Hansen in a March "60 Minutes" segment failed to note any of Hansen's ties to the Democratic Party or his receipt of a $250,000 from Teresa Heinz Kerry's foundation. In addition, Pelley compared scientists skeptical of human-caused catastrophic climate change to Holocaust deniers. "If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel," Pelley asked, "am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?" he said in a separate interview on March 23 with CBS News's PublicEye blog. Pelley claims he attempted to find respected scientists who would contradict scientists like Hansen on "global warming" but could not locate any. "This isn't about politics or pseudo-science or conspiracy theory blogs," Pelley explained. "This is about sound science."

'Climate hysteria'

Milloy of blasted Hansen for appearing with Democratic Party officials and environmental groups. "It's disappointing to see someone who holds himself out to be an unbiased 'scientist' politicize himself by aligning with Democrat Party interests. On the other hand, at least he's publicly acknowledged that he's a 'political' scientist," Milloy, who is also the portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, told Cybercast News Service. Milloy also said he was glad to see Hansen attempt try to rein in the linkage of recent storm events like Hurricane Katrina to "global warming." "It's good to see Jim Hansen recognize that the global warmers have gone off the deep-end in terms of climate hysteria. I'm certain, though, that we'll have to remind him of his statement next time he takes his usual dive off that cliff," said Milloy.

Milloy said he was not surprised that many in the news media now believe the debate over climate change is over. "The 'global warming' lobby hopes to stop all dissent by shutting out, shouting down and intimidating any opposition," Milloy said, noting that Gore has refused the opportunity to debate climate skeptics on this issue. "The warmers apparently know that their hysteria doesn't hold up to scientific analysis, so silencing the opposition is their primary tactic," Milloy said.

During the April teleconference, Hansen did not back down from his belief that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity are going to have dramatic negative impacts on the earth's climate. "But the reality to the scientists is that there are many signs now that things are going in the direction expected and at the rates expected and even in some cases" faster than expected, Hansen said.


Another Australian windfarm project bites the dust

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell infuriated another state government yesterday by overriding plans to build a wind farm. Less than a month after he blocked a wind farm in Victoria to "save" the orange-bellied parrot, Senator Campbell froze funding yesterday for a similar project near Denmark on the south coast of Western Australia. The minister said he had written to Regional Services Minister Warren Truss asking him to refuse further requests for funding for the project. "Senator Campbell strongly opposes further funding for the Denmark Community Windfarm group until the expressed wishes of the local community are taken into account through the introduction of a national wind farm code," Senator Campbell's spokeswoman said.

Earlier this month, the minister set off a war between Canberra and Victoria when he invoked rarely used federal powers to block the $220 million Bald Hills wind farm in Gippsland on the grounds it could kill one rare orange-bellied parrot a year. The Victorian Government has demanded he reconsider.

Last night, West Australian Planning Minister Alannah MacTiernan described Senator Campbell's latest decision as tragic. "It is a joke that at a time when we have got some really hard issues to deal with, we've got an environment minister who has no interest in sustainability, that at a national level we are not only getting zero leadership, we're getting minus zero leadership," she said. "These are big issues. We need leadership at a national level and Campbell is as much a joke as (Denmark area MP) Wilson Tuckey is as an environment minister. Other than going around and doing a bit of bashing of the Japanese on whales, he hasn't shown any capacity to deal whatsoever with the big issues we are facing."

Ms MacTiernan has been accused of ignoring advice from a state government planning committee that voted three to two against the proposed wind farm. But she said a departmental report prepared on the project was "substandard and flawed". The report excluded information from Western Power recommending the wind farm site, and ignored advice from its own department that the farm was not visually obtrusive, she said. "This has got nothing to do with this report, because Campbell, well before he had ever seen this report, had been down there (at the proposed site) with Wilson Tuckey trying to stir the possum," she said. She said the project was formally opposed by only about 60 families, including many who did not live at Denmark.

Senator Campbell will also have the final say in the development of a new iron ore mine in northern Western Australia, which yesterday won state government approval despite the possible presence of a bird even rarer than the orange-bellied parrot - the night parrot. The West Australian Government gave its final environmental approval for Fortescue Metals Group's iron ore mine at Cloud Break in the Pilbara, part of a $1.8billion development stalled by sightings last year of three night parrots, which were once thought to have been extinct.

State Environment Minister Mark McGowan was critical yesterday of Senator Campbell's decision to block the Bald Hills wind farm on environmental grounds, saying it had been possible to approve the Pilbara mine by imposing strict conditions. "I would be surprised if Senator Campbell was to knock back this (iron ore mine). I'm positive he won't knock it back. His decision in Victoria was based on it being a marginal seat - it was not environmental," he said.



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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