Tuesday, May 30, 2006


In a country where it rains every second day or thereabouts!

Circus clowns have been warned to stop throwing water at each other or risk violating a drought order. The entertainers, who work for Zippo's Circus, typically get through 20 buckets of water during their slapstick "slosh" shows. The circus is in Wallington, Surrey, this weekend and Martin Burton, who is in charge, has been warned that the routines violate the drought order issued by Sutton and East Surrey Water. "The water board has had a complete sense of humour failure," he said. "I called them up to check the act was OK and they said it broke the rules and threatened me with hefty fines and cutting off our access to water.

"It is ridiculous and they need to chill out. The great British public don't like getting wet themselves but absolutely love seeing others getting drenched. "And this treat is confined to the circus. I could collect rainwater or use mineral water but the water board are so zealous I can't be sure they won't just cut our water off without investigating if someone reports it."

A drought order has been granted by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to allow Sutton and East Surrey Water to restrict the "non-essential use" of water throughout its area of supply. The order authorises the company to prohibit or limit the use of water. It means the clowns will not be able to use water pistols or squirt water from plastic flowers.

Stuart Hislop, a spokesman for the company, said: "No-one else is allowed to fill buckets from a hose in their back garden and throw them over each other, so why should the clowns? It is a total waste of water. "Twenty buckets of water per show can soon add up and we hope Mr Burton will follow the sensible advice he has been given. "It is not setting a very good example to all these children going to the circus. We are talking about a situation here where we could run out of water."

Under the order, 275,000 properties served by the company will be banned from using hosepipes or sprinklers to water gardens, lawns, allotments, parks, golf courses or to wash vehicles. Deliberate breach of the order is a criminal offence and punishable by a fine of up to 5,000 pounds.

Mr Burton said: "I think my clowns are secretly smirking because it means they get to stay dry but I am annoyed. It means we will have to rely on mime gags instead."



One of the more distasteful features of environmental rhetoric is the terminological confusion with which it is riddled, whereby certain grants of privilege are constantly confused with rights. The rights to which serious political discourse has traditionally referred are negatively conceived and refer to limitations on how governments may act towards their citizens or how citizens may act toward each other. This conception of rights is the one put forward in, among other documents, the Declaration of Independence, the American Bill of Rights and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Rights so conceived do not require that others be forced to act in specific ways if I am to exercise my rights but only that they refrain from intervening in certain areas without my consent. Thus, my right to life does not entail that others are obligated to do everything within their power to keep me alive but only that they cannot kill me.

Unfortunately, environmentalists have a tendency to employ the term "rights," not in this negative manner but in its far more vulgar sense, to refer to some privilege that entails that others not refrain from acting, but positively act in certain ways. They are, of course, not alone in this. The last hundred years have witnessed a serious erosion in political discourse as politicians have increasingly invoked such terms as "liberty" and "rights" solely to elicit certain emotional responses in their hearers. This deterioration in political language has reached a point where it is now not uncommon to hear people speak of their "rights" to "higher education," to "quality health care," even to "truth in airline scheduling," and so on. Environmental discourse, far from being immune to such imprecision, has embraced it. And environmentalists, especially those employed as government functionaries of one kind or another, regularly use the term to refer to privileges that entail an obligation on others to provide certain services. Thus, Principle 1 of the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in 1972 declared that "man has the fundamental right to . adequate conditions of life in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being." Similarly, the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development refers to "the right of individuals to know and have access to current information on the state of the environment" and "the right to participate in decision making on activities likely to have a significant effect on the environment."

Even when the term "rights" is employed by ecologists in what is seemingly its more traditional, negative sense, as, for example, when environmentalists write of "the right to live free from pollutants" it is often so used without any regard to the context in which these rights are situated. When one refers to "the right to a smoke-free environment," as numerous spokesmen of the anti-smoking campaign often do, surely it makes sense to ask "of just whose environment are we speaking?" While I might indeed have such a right to demand of others that they not smoke on my property, have I the same right when it comes to the property of others? But even put in such bald form, the majority of environmentalists would argue that, in most cases, I would indeed have such a right. Such rights obtain, they argue (and in this they are by no means alone), because most private property is not, in reality, private at all, since members of the public (either all members of the public, as is the case with, say, a department store, or certain specific members of the public, as is the case with a business office) are invited onto the property. By virtue of this fact, nominal private property is transmuted into commonly owned property, the disposal of which can justifiably be determined by political means. Indeed, most environmentalists have extended this notion of public ownership to the whole of the natural world. They write of the "common heritage of all humanity" and of "sharing the world's resources equitably." It is as if each of us, when born, inherits our pro rata share of all the wealth of the world, the land and the oceans of the earth, and all that is on, above, or below it, without regard to the prevailing ownership of these resources. It is apparent that the term "right," as here used, designates something quite different from what is signified in the expressions "right to life," or "right to one's liberty." A "right" to a portion of the world's resources clearly obligates the civil authorities (and the population at large, who ultimately must fund the operations of the civil authorities) to certain positive acts. This is particularly true in this instance since one's "right" is, on examination, not an individual right at all, but rather a "collective" right (if such a perverse notion makes any sense at all) that, by its very nature, can be exercised only by some authority ostensibly representative of the collective.

The language of environmental science is particularly debased when the rights to which environmentalists refer pertain to non-humans. Even so eminent a jurist as William O. Douglas has referred to "the rights of nature," and this notion has been adopted by a host of other ecologists. These writers, in their attempt to emphasize the physical and biological interdependence of all life, have perverted the language of morals and politics to apply to all of nature, thus undermining all arguments that place man in a unique position with respect to the environment in which he lives. As one ecologist has observed: "Humanity has no extraordinary moral claim or rights over the natural world." Christopher Stone, Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, has proposed that "we give legal rights to forests, oceans, rivers, and other so-called 'natural objects' in the environment - indeed, to the natural environment as a whole." The extension of rights to animals, it is argued, is nothing more than a continuation of the same movement that broadened the notion of rights to encompass all human beings, regardless of color or gender. Thus Peter Singer, one of the founders of the "animal liberation" movement and the person responsible for having first formulated the notion of "speciesism," writes that "the basic element - the taking into account of the interests of the being, whatever those interests may be - must, according to the principle of equality, be extended to all beings, black or white, masculine or feminine, human or nonhuman."

The "deep ecologists," of which Singer is a less extreme example, propose nothing less than that animals, plants, trees, even minerals, have rights that must be respected lest man violate the moral injunctions ultimately derived from natural law. Indeed, the extension of the ethical universe to such natural phenomena as mountains and rivers, thus closes the circle with the most primitive forms of mysticism. If we were to accept the claims put forward by what, in the movement, are called "the deep ecologists," that rights extend to all forms of life and, in some instances, to inanimate objects as well, humanity would be frozen into inaction lest it trespass on the prerogatives of nature. What is particularly alarming is that this senseless conclusion, a clear reductio ad absurdum to most, is actually espoused by many prominent environmental spokesmen, whose antipathy for all human endeavor is one of the more repugnant aspects of their creed. For these writers humanism is a term of derision, which asserts the superiority of human life over animal and plant life and denies to non-human entities the rights that a properly construed morality dictates they possess.

Lest it be supposed that an ardent emotional attachment to the world of nature is incompatible with an abhorrence for humankind, we would do well to remind ourselves that National Socialism also embraced both a comprehensive ideology and an extensive legislative program for the "protection of nature." Shortly after taking power the Nazi government sought to give legislative voice to the notion that modern capitalist society and its property relationships had uprooted man from his legitimate place in the natural, organic world. Laws aimed at protecting animals and limiting hunting were soon followed by the law of 1 July 1935 for the protection of nature (Reichsnaturschutzgesetz). The preamble to the 1935 legislation, setting forth the rationale and intent of Nazi environmental legislation, displays the same romanticization of nature and disdain for the economic achievements of modern society that permeate current environmental literature.

Today as before, nature, in the forests and the fields, is an object of longing, joy and the means of regeneration for the German people.

Our native countryside has been profoundly modified with respect to its original state, its flora has been altered in many ways by the agricultural and foresting industries as well as by the unilateral reallocation of land and a monoculture of conifers. While its natural habitat has been diminishing, a varied fauna that brought vitality to the forests and the fields has been dwindling.

This evolution was often due to economic necessity. Today, a clear awareness has emerged as to the intellectual, but also economic, damages of such an upheaval of the German countryside..

The German government of the Reich considers it its duty to guarantee our fellow citizens, even the poorest among them, their share in the natural German beauty. It has, therefore, enacted the law of the Reich with a view toward protecting nature..

"Protecting nature" was apparently perfectly compatible with a remorseless hatred of certain groups of humans, particularly those, as Luc Ferry has pointed out, who were not rooted in the community, the "cosmopolites," whose heritage placed them outside the bounds of the social organism and who lacked connection with the soil. Ferry notes that

the philosophical underpinnings of Nazi legislation often overlap with those developed by deep ecology, and this for a reason that cannot be underestimated; in both cases, we are dealing with a same romantic and/or sentimental representation of the relationship between nature and culture, combined with a shared revalorization of the primitive state against that of (alleged) civilization.



With Al Gore's new movie opening this week, there are some inconvenient truths its maker should consider: Gore himself has done incalculable harm to the cause of combating global warming. His efforts to call attention to the dangers of climate change may prove prescient but his policy prescriptions have been nothing short of disastrous.

Consider the facts: The Kyoto Protocol, which Gore personally negotiated for the United States, was a colossal mistake-a fundamentally flawed approach that has taken nearly a decade (and counting) to recover from. If ever a treaty was dead on arrival, it was Kyoto, given that the Senate had voted 95-0 against two of its essential elements before it was negotiated. (That vote rejected any treaty that would seriously harm our economy while exempting the developing world from any obligation to reduce its emissions-a sensible litmus test.) That didn't stop Gore from agreeing to its terms, knowing full well that it would never be ratified-a remarkably cynical political move.

What's wrong with signing an impractical treaty? A lot, actually. Kyoto stopped us from pursuing more realistic alternatives. Even now, Kyoto's misconceptions haunt us: Having already agreed that the developing world need not reduce its (rapidly increasing) emissions of greenhouse gases, it will be hard to persuade those countries to reconsider. Yet without their participation, no limits on global emissions can be effective.

Before Kyoto, the world was seriously engaged in thinking through the challenge of climate change. That started in earnest after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which committed the world to working together to avoid dangerous interference with the global climate. It left open the more difficult question of precisely what to do but it set the right goal, and for five years scientists, economists, engineers, and government officials struggled with that question. After Kyoto, that process largely ground to a halt.

Of course President Clinton never even tried to get the Senate to approve the treaty, and for seven years the rest of the industrialized world wrestled with ratification. A year ago, the Protocol finally came into effect-at least on paper. We have next to nothing to show for it. Canada is the latest country to admit (just this week) that it cannot meet its Kyoto targets; it wants to pursue voluntary measures when the Protocol expires in 2012. The rest of the participants aren't doing much better: No country has actually made substantial reductions in its greenhouse gas emissions because of Kyoto, and many European countries will miss their targets by double digits. Moreover, those limits are only a small fraction of what many scientists think is needed to stabilize the climate.

The problem with meeting these targets is simple: the necessary technologies don't exist. At best, Kyoto would mean spending a lot of money to accomplish very little. Kyoto-style targets may promote modest reductions in emissions today but they aren't going to produce the research needed for fundamental technological breakthroughs that could slash overall global emissions. Short-term, modest targets aren't incentives for ambitious long-term research.

After wasting almost a decade pursuing Al Gore's answer to climate change, Kyoto's failure is clear. The much-celebrated "trading" mechanism that was expected to cut the cost of compliance is barely functioning. Trading emissions credits works well when the technologies exist, such as smokestack "scrubbers" to remove sulfur dioxide. But greenhouse gases are another matter: There are so many sources of carbon dioxide, and so few affordable ways to get rid of it. Establishing an effective market for trading these credits is much more complicated than advocates ever imagined.

So, if not Kyoto, what? Environmentalists should thank President Bush for breathing new-albeit indignant-life into the stagnant climate-change debate when he announced in 2001 that he wouldn't pursue ratification of Kyoto. New policy opportunities opened up and people went back to the creative drawing boards. We're taking small steps in the right direction, but activists are more enamored with their politics-which dictate that anything that Bush supports must be wrong-than with spurring these nascent efforts on. Clinton and Gore continue to mislead Americans by telling us that the solutions are simple and cheap-all we need is political will to implement them. Nothing could be further from the truth: the answers to climate change are expensive and elusive; they will be found in the Los Alamos labs, not the halls of Congress.

The only way to make meaningful reductions in global greenhouse-gas emissions is to develop new clean energy and transportation technologies-and not just hybrid cars and windmills. Doing politically correct things like building solar panels would shave a few points off our total emissions, but only breakthrough technologies like hydrogen fuel cells will make real cuts possible. And their cost is the key: We can build fuel-cell cars now-for $1 million. When we figure out how to sell them for $30,000, we won't need an international treaty to get people to buy them. Almost every major car company in the world is frantically trying to unlock that puzzle and-are you sitting down?-George W. Bush, the ex-oil man who once mocked Al Gore's fascination with green cars, is pouring billions of federal dollars into the effort.

Bush has also spearheaded other efforts to develop clean energy technologies, such as the Asia-Pacific Partnership, which includes key developing countries such as China and India. Activists scorn these initiatives because they don't require emissions reductions today, but in the long run they are our only hope. The real question is how to best advance this research-government labs, private sector R&D, or some combination? What's the right level of funding, and the best way of organizing the research?

In the meantime there is one technology that could dramatically reduce America's greenhouse-gas emissions-and yet environmentalists are fervently opposed to it. Al Gore doubts it has much potential. But the only cost-effective way we know right now to produce thousands of megawatts of zero-emissions electricity is nuclear power. America, of course, hasn't built a new nuclear plant since Three Mile Island, but that's going to change. Just how many plants are built, and how quickly, will depend in part on how fierce the environmental opposition is. Will Al Gore lead the way?

National Review Online, 25 May 2006


There are a lot of folks running around shouting that recent Arctic warming is, to use a favorite alarmist word, "unprecedented"-which means, to them at least, that we are approaching "dangerous" levels of climate change. It seems a bit odd to equate "unprecedented" with "dangerous," since the former implies something that is novel, while the latter implies something that is known. So, for instance, since we know that for a good 90% of the past 400,000 years the earth was locked into ice age conditions, it would seem that a "precedented" cooling would be perceived to be far more "dangerous" than an "unprecedented" warming, wouldn't it? But we digress.

In any case, how close to being "unprecedentedly" warm are we in our northerly latitudes? (We focus here on the Arctic because the Antarctic has been cooling for the past several decades, so that pretty much eliminates temperatures there from being unprecedented).

The answer, not very. In fact, today's temperatures aren't even close to being "unprecedented." Writing in the journal Quaternary Research, Jason Briner from the Geology Department of the University of Buffalo and a host of colleagues from the United States and Canada state:

This study offers a high-resolution lacustrine Holocene climate record that spans the last ~11,200 years. The most notable feature of Holocene climate at Lake CF3 [located on Canada's Baffin Island] was the well-defined HTM [Holocene Thermal Maximum] between ~10,000 and 8500 cal yr B.P., when chironomid-inferred summer temperature was ~5ºC warmer than today and the duration of seasonal lake ice cover probably was the shortest since deglaciation.

Putting this finding in context, Briner et al. continue:

Pollen records from several Baffin Island lakes indicate middle Holocene temperatures ~1 or 2ºC warmer than present (Kerwin et al., 2004). Because pollen-based temperature reconstructions rarely extend beyond 7 or 8 ka [thousand years], they may not capture maximum Holocene warmth. Chironomid taxonomy- and ?18O-based summer temperatures from Qipisarqo Lake on southern Greenland indicate that conditions were 2 to 4ºC warmer in the early Holocene versus the late Holocene (Wooller et al., 2004). Diatom-inferred temperature data from Fog Lake, ~420 km south of Lake CF3 , reveal a ~4ºC difference between the middle and late Holocene (Joynt and Wolfe, 2001). Dynocyst assemblages from northern Baffin Bay marine cores reveal ~5ºC difference in sea surface temperature (SST) between the middle and late Holocene (Levac et al., 2001). Greenland ice sheet borehole paleothermometry indicates a temperature change of ~3.5ºC between the middle and late Holocene (Dahl-Jensen et al.,1998)

So, Briner et al.'s results add to a large amount of evidence that conditions in the Arctic were several degrees warmer than present during extended periods since the end of the last ice age (the "holocene" era). And if you think that this only applies to the region around Baffin Island, think again. UCLA's Glen MacDonald and colleagues reported this, a couple of years ago, in the same journal,

Radiocarbon-dated macro fossils are used to document Holocene treeline history across northern Russia (including Siberia). Boreal forest development in this region commenced by 10,000 yr B.P. Over most of Russia, forest advanced to or near the current arctic coastline between 9000 and 7000 yr B.P. and retreated to its present position by between 4000 and 3000 yr B.P....During the period of maximum forest extension, the mean July temperatures along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5º to 7.0ºC warmer than modern.

And Darrell Kaufman from Northern Arizona University and his colleagues took a comprehensive look at research performed over the remainder of the Arctic and summed things up in Quaternary Science Reviews as,

The spatio-temporal pattern of peak Holocene warmth (Holocene thermal maximum, HTM) is traced over 140 sites across the Western Hemisphere of the Arctic (0-180ºW; north of ~60ºN). Paleoclimate inferences based on a wide variety of proxy indicators provide clear evidence for warmer-than-present conditions at 120 of these sites. At the 16 terrestrial sites where quantitative estimates have been obtained, local HTM temperatures (primarily summer estimates) were on average 1.67±0.8ºC higher than present (approximate average of the 20th century), but the warming was time transgressive across the western Arctic. As the precession-driven summer insolation anomaly peaked 12-10 ka (thousands of calendar years ago), warming was concentrated in northwest North America, while cool conditions lingered in the northeast. Alaska and northwest Canada experienced the HTM between ca 11 and 9 ka, about 4000 yr prior to the HTM in northeast Canada.

So there you have it. Based upon the scientific literature, it would appear that rather than approaching an era of "unprecedented" temperatures in the Arctic, we are fast approaching and era of "unprecedented" hype. We certainly hope the folks responsible for putting together the new Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the U. N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are taking notice of these developments.

World Climate Report, 25 May 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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