Wednesday, April 05, 2006


The Center for Science and Public Policy (CSPP), a Washington, D.C. based think tank, announces the release of three new papers dealing with energy and climate change issues. "The release of these papers comes at an opportune time," says Robert Ferguson, executive director. "The current issue of TIME offers a series of essays reputedly about climate science, carrying the ominous head line: 'Be Worried, Be Very Worried'. If viewed through a prism of current science, it should read: 'Be Skeptical, Be Very Skeptical'. The entire series is ill- informed, biased and unacceptable for serious public policy decisions. It is, in short, nearly hysterical advocacy designed to frighten readers toward supporting far-reaching policy decisions that would be both harmful and useless."

Concludes Ferguson, "For too long, Scientists who challenge alarming claims are rarely given voice by the media, and are often labeled as "skeptics" and dishonest fronts for "corporate polluters." TIME has an explicit policy not to print anything contrary to the 'end-of-the-world' warming orthodoxy. What is truly ironic is that the purveyors of alarm are the real skeptics who cling to virtual alarm against widely accepted empirical findings."

The first paper, "Issues in the Current State of Climate Science" is a guide for policy makers and opinion leaders. It explores the constantly shifting scientific literature of climate change, discussing what is and what is not known about such issues as melting polar caps, species migration and extinction, coral reefs, mosquito-borne diseases, extreme weather events, sea level rise, polar bears, great white sharks and butterflies. The paper concludes with a reprint of MIT Professor Richard Lindzen's recent testimony to the UK House of Lords on the nature of the present climate debate, what is trivial and what is not. (see here PDF )

The second paper, "Wind Farms Provide Negligible Useful Electricity" by Richard Courtney explains why wind farms for power generation can only provide negligible electricity to grid supply systems, make no significant reduction in pollution, cause significant environmental damage, increase the costs of electricity and create risks of power failures. (see here PDF)

The third paper, "An Assessment of Montreal COP/MOP 1" by Chris Horner explores the looking-glass legal world that is the Kyoto Protocol. It shows with pole-star clarity that Kyoto's own long and tortured path toward approval manifests that enthusiastic support for its regime is not matched by a desire to codify it. (see here PDF )

Explains Ferguson, "Sadly, alarmists exploit the observation that few laymen understand what global warming is all about. And most people (including scientists) can rarely follow 15 minute discussions of somewhat complex science; the conclusion of the listeners is that the objections are too obscure to challenge their basic prejudice. We trust that these papers will help develop an antidote to that malady."


Let Cooler Heads Prevail: The Media Heat Up Over Global Warming

By George Will

So, "the debate is over." Time magazine says so. Last week's cover story exhorted readers to "Be Worried. Be Very Worried," and ABC News concurred in several stories. So did Montana's governor, speaking on ABC. And there was polling about global warming, gathered by Time and ABC in collaboration.

Eighty-five percent of Americans say warming is probably happening, and 62 percent say it threatens them personally. The National Academy of Sciences says the rise in the Earth's surface temperature has been about one degree Fahrenheit in the past century. Did 85 percent of Americans notice? Of course not. They got their anxiety from journalism calculated to produce it. Never mind that one degree might be the margin of error when measuring the planet's temperature. To take a person's temperature, you put a thermometer in an orifice or under an arm. Taking the temperature of our churning planet, with its tectonic plates sliding around over a molten core, involves limited precision.

Why have Americans been dilatory about becoming as worried -- as very worried -- as Time and ABC think proper? An article on ABC's Web site wonders ominously, "Was Confusion Over Global Warming a Con Job?" It suggests there has been a misinformation campaign implying that scientists might not be unanimous, a campaign by -- how did you guess? -- big oil. And the coal industry. But speaking of coal . . .

Recently, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer flew with ABC's George Stephanopoulos over Glacier National Park's receding glaciers. But Schweitzer offered hope: Everyone, buy Montana coal. New technologies can, he said, burn it while removing carbon causes of global warming. Stephanopoulos noted that such technologies are at least four years away and "all the scientists" say something must be done "right now." Schweitzer, quickly recovering from hopefulness and returning to the "be worried, be very worried" message, said "it's even more critical than that" because China and India are going to "put more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with conventional coal-fired generators than all of the rest of the planet has during the last 150 years."

That is one reason why the Clinton administration never submitted the Kyoto accord on global warming for Senate ratification. In 1997 the Senate voted 95 to 0 that the accord would disproportionately burden America while being too permissive toward major polluters that are America's trade competitors.

While worrying about Montana's receding glaciers, Schweitzer, who is 50, should also worry about the fact that when he was 20 he was told to be worried, very worried, about global cooling. Science magazine (Dec. 10, 1976) warned of "extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation." Science Digest (February 1973) reported that "the world's climatologists are agreed" that we must "prepare for the next ice age." The Christian Science Monitor ("Warning: Earth's Climate is Changing Faster Than Even Experts Expect," Aug. 27, 1974) reported that glaciers "have begun to advance," "growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter" and "the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool." Newsweek agreed ("The Cooling World," April 28, 1975) that meteorologists "are almost unanimous" that catastrophic famines might result from the global cooling that the New York Times (Sept. 14, 1975) said "may mark the return to another ice age." The Times (May 21, 1975) also said "a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable" now that it is "well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate "has been getting cooler since about 1950."

In fact, the Earth is always experiencing either warming or cooling. But suppose the scientists and their journalistic conduits, who today say they were so spectacularly wrong so recently, are now correct. Suppose the Earth is warming and suppose the warming is caused by human activity. Are we sure there will be proportionate benefits from whatever climate change can be purchased at the cost of slowing economic growth and spending trillions? Are we sure the consequences of climate change -- remember, a thick sheet of ice once covered the Midwest -- must be bad? Or has the science-journalism complex decided that debate about these questions, too, is "over"?

About the mystery that vexes ABC -- Why have Americans been slow to get in lock step concerning global warming? -- perhaps the "problem" is not big oil or big coal, both of which have discovered there is big money to be made from tax breaks and other subsidies justified in the name of combating carbon. Perhaps the problem is big crusading journalism.


CHANGE AND DECAY in all around we see. The End of the World is Nigh. "I didna' ken," protests the Scotsman to a thunder-faced St Peter. "Well, y'ken noo," replies Heaven's gatekeeper. How we relish those gleeful lines in John Newton's hymn: "Fading is the worldling's pleasure/ All his boasted pomp and show." Says the Book of Revelation: "Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the Earth will mourn because of Him." Running like a silver thread through the history of the world's religions you will find the same refrain. Apocalypse. We have erred and strayed like lost sheep. We have been worshipping false gods. We shall be punished for it. We are doomed.

We are doomed because we are living not as we should, but too much in the material world. Jesus kicks over the tables of the money-changers. Moses reproaches the Israelites as they feast before a golden calf. The Buddha counsels us to transcend the material world. And time and again the people of the Book are enjoined to turn our eyes from lives of pleasure and ease, and in our spirits head toward the desert.

The desert. Ah, that other Eden for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Here is the closest geographical metaphor human poetry and divine prophecy can find for the healing power of austerity. Here, wand'ring in the wild, sunbeams scorching all the day, chilly dewdrops nightly shed, prowling beasts about our way, stones our pillow, earth our bed, we shall be tempted - and yet undefiled. In every text the lesson is clear. Our age is not living as it should. The pursuit of riches has distracted us. Lives have been corrupted by lust, vanity, wastefulness and greed. We have become lazy and selfish. Our spirits are sick. And - count upon it - we shall be punished. One way or another we shall have to pay.

Well maybe. I cannot speak for God. Perhaps His prophets are right. These judgments are founded upon theology, and if you accept the theology then other claims will follow. I cite them neither to defend nor to deny them, but to remind you how deep they run in the history of belief.

Religion in this case is probably only the messenger. So rooted and insistent is the nagging fear (and secret pleasure) we take in seeing signs in the stars, the weather and the natural world, that sinful man is heading for apocalypse, that I suspect there is something buried in the collective unconscious of every age, feeding the glee and the gloom. Perhaps the world's religions tap into this, using it as a recruiting sergeant.

In the still of the night everyone knows what it is to fear that we are heading for some half-sensed and ill-defined disaster. In the still of the night everyone knows the vague guilt that comes with a recognition that we are selfish. In the still of the night we know the gnawing resentment that there are others more selfish than we - yet who do not seem to be punished.

Guilt, resentment and apocalypse. Prophets have since the dawn of history recognised the power they can unleash by linking these three. Elijah told of earthquake, wind and fire; Jeremiah of disasters unnumbered. Ignatius Loyola, Luther, Calvin, the Wesleys, Moses, Mohammad . . . and countless other seers, ayatollahs and divines, have called upon us to bail out of whatever version of Sodom and Gomorrah it has pleased them to paint, before those cities burn.

The prophets of climate change are their inheritors, reclothing new belief in the metaphor of the old, reconnecting it to those ancient drives. The Archbishop of Canterbury has sensed as much. Dr Rowan Williams told politicians this week that they would face "a heavy responsibility before God" if they failed to act to control climate change. He described the lifestyle of those who contribute most to global warming as "profoundly immoral". Asked how God would judge our age if we fail to act, Dr Williams said: "If you look at the language of the Bible on this, you very often come across situations where people are judged for not responding to warnings."

So there you have it. The Friends of the Earth are Elijah's latest recruits. Eco-apocalypticism is the new religion.At once I hear you protest: "But climate change is true." And it may be. So may the Book of Revelation. Accept, please, that I am not urging upon you the truth or otherwise of any of these claims, religious or scientific. I am simply pointing out that as a belief system - scientific or otherwise - eco-apocalypticism runs powerfully with the grain of the collective human unconscious. It has its sheet-anchor down into a powerful current in the history of belief.

Between science, religion and fashion there exist no impermeable divides - and for two reasons. First, scientists are human beings: they share the drives, hunches and unconscious preconceptions of the rest of us. True, they have learnt not to fabricate or falsify, but they are not immune from the human tendency to screen in what tends to support a favoured line of reasoning, and screen out such doubts and uncertainties as might weaken it.

Secondly, research will follow funding. It is the familiar refrain of the green movement that "climate-change denial" finds funding from the pockets of carbon-producing or carbon-hungry big business, especially in America. That is a fair point, and a reason for scepticism, but it is sauce for both goose and gander. Eco-alarmism has a ready market of its own among politicians, journalists and moralists. They have deep pockets too.

Groupthink is everywhere, even in science. Some data is beyond refutation: sea levels are surely rising; carbon dioxide levels are up; and the climate is changing. There are likely to be linkages of some sort. Around these rocks of hard fact, however, swirls a sea of guesswork and speculation. It is here where - as we observe philosophical currents at work that are not so much scientific as driven by guilts, envies and yearnings - we need to observe particular caution.

I'll tell you how we can know this. Buttonhole a passionate eco-apocalypticist and tell him a way has been found for us to cut carbon emissions perfectly painlessly, and carry on living as we do. Observe the involuntary anger cross his face. Or tell him it's anyway too late and we'll never stop China polluting. Observe that his objections remain: to how his own countrymen live. He may talk science but his underlying motives are of a different kind.

Near what is today the Bolivian shore of Lake Titicaca, a pre-Inca civilisation once dwelt among temples whose ruins are now called Tiahuanaco. They held that the wellspring of their divinity was located on an offshsore island later named the Isla del Sol. When the Incas overthrew them and wanted to win local loyalty they had the good sense to discover that in fact their god, the Sun King, had come to Earth on the Isla del Sol. When the Catholic Conquistadores overthrew the Incas - behold! A new miracle occurred. The Virgin Mary appeared by the lake, at a place called Copacabana. A magnificent church has been built there. Truckers come from afar to wash their lorries in the holy waters, affording them protection from road accidents. The Virgin of Copacabana is the patron saint of Bolivia.

The gauleiters of today's green consciousness would be well advised to visit Lake Titicaca and, with the ruins of the Temple of Tiahuanaco across the plain behind them, the Church of the Virgin of Copacabana at their back and the sacred Isla del Sol at their feet, await the arrival at this holy place of some new and terrifying intimation that we are all doomed. Then there could be founded on the shores of the lake a new institute for the study of climate change.

"The Times" of London, 1 April 2006


The new Conservative government in Ottawa has abruptly stopped funding groups across the country that have been promoting the One Tonne Challenge, the quirky program to persuade Canadians to do their bit to help the environment by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. The Conservatives are also reviewing about 100 other climate-change programs set up by the previous Liberal government.

The One Tonne Challenge is likely the best known of the dozens of federal government efforts to fight global warming. It has been heavily publicized through television ads featuring comedian Rick Mercer as pitch man for a program that urged people to drive less, turn down their thermostats and take other steps to forestall climate change.

Environmental groups that received contracts to urge people in local communities to participate in the challenge were hastily contacted by Environment Canada officials earlier this week, and told that as of this morning , their efforts were no longer being funded. "I received a call [Thursday] from Environment Canada that indicated that as of April 1st, they have no budget or directives to continue funding" local activities for the challenge program, said Stephane Thorson with Toronto's Clean Air Foundation.

The story was similar in Quebec. "We got clear indications from the Ministry of Environment that we cannot publicize the One Tonne Challenge, so all the material we had printed, all the advertisements we had, had to be put on hold," said Hugo S,guin, a member of Equiterre, an environmental group overseeing the program in Quebec. He said the program hadn't been given a budget for the government's new financial year, which begins today, "so all the projects that are ongoing are stopping on March 31. Nobody knows across the country what is going to happen after that." The group wrote to Environment Minister Rona Ambrose this week asking for clarification about future funding, but hasn't received a reply.

Officials at Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada, the two government departments that share responsibility for climate change, say they are reviewing all of the approximately 100 different programs run by Ottawa to combat global warming. "The review hasn't been completed yet and decisions on funding for climate-change programs have not been finalized," said Ryan Sparrow, a spokesman for Ms. Ambrose.

Environmentalists are worried that the new government, which they perceive as being hostile toward actions on climate change, is poised to slash global warming projects set up by the Liberals. The Liberals pledged about $1.1-billion to fight climate change from 2000 to early 2006. John Bennett, a spokesman for the Sierra Club of Canada, accused the new government of beginning "a campaign of stealth destruction" of the programs by allowing funding to lapse.

Public servants working on climate-change programs are being audited by the Environment Commissioner for a report that is expected in September. There is speculation inside government that the audit's release will provide the Conservatives with the political justification to cut spending in that area. But Mr. Sparrow said the decision on funding will depend on amounts earmarked to fight global warming in the spring budget. Most of the climate programs were directed to industries. The One Tonne Challenge was different because it tried to engage individuals in cutting emissions because of their personal activities.

The Globe and Mail, 1 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

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