Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Often on these pages we have made the case that the debate that rages over hurricanes and climate change is largely irrelevant to climate policy, even as it used as a symbol in climate politics. The reason for the insensitivity of policy to this debate is the overwhelming influence of societal factors in driving trends in the growth in disaster losses even under assumptions that global warming has significant effects on hurricanes. We have made the case in a wide range of fora and in a wide range of ways, and yet, it seems that the urge to use hurricanes as a justification for climate-related energy policies is just too appealing, despite its grossly unsupportable scientific grounding. It does not matter whether or not scientists can establish a link between global warming and hurricanes - it won't affect how we think about climate policy.

More evidence for this perspective is provided in a recent news story about the insurance and reinsurance industries: "Regardless of whether climate change is leading to increases in the number of storms or their intensity, analyses by ISO's catastrophe modeling subsidiary, AIR Worldwide, indicate that catastrophe losses should be expected to double roughly every 10 years because of increases in construction costs, increases in the number of structures and changes in their characteristics," said [Michael R.] Murray [ISO assistant vice president for financial analysis], "AIR's research shows that, because of exposure growth, the one in one-hundred-year industry loss grew from $60 billion in 1995 to $110 billion in 2005, and it will likely grow to over $200 billion during the next 10 years."

Assume a doubling of losses every ten years for the next 80, and you get a multiple of 256. Can anyone cite a study that suggests that hurricane frequencies or intensities will increase by 1/100 of this amount? (Note that damage is not linear with intensity, but even so.) You can't. Even with less aggressive assumptions about societal change one still gets very, very large increases in impacts. For the simple math of why it is that societal growth dominates any scenario of the projected effects of climate change, and hence climate mitigation, on hurricanes, see this post we did a short while back. And there are umpteen others available on this site. I await the acceptance of this argument by the mainstream climate science community (as well as the relevant parties of the blogosphere), of which a troubling number have ignored or openly resisted this argument, and some very publicly yet without substance. But they shouldn't, as it is about as solid a policy case as one can imagine.

As we have often said, climate mitigation makes sense, and so too does preparing for future disasters, but linking the first with the second is simply unsupported by an honest policy assessment. And it seems to me that honest assessments of policy action help the case for action on climate change.

More here


Is Tony Blair our last hope? I realise that just by posing the question regular readers will think I have flipped. In fact, I am deadly serious. Blair may well be the only British political leader ready to face up to an issue on which turns the economic life or death of this country. I refer to energy - and more especially electricity - policy. Without reliable, continuous and competitive supplies of power, we have no comfort, no convenience, no economy, no jobs, no lifestyle worth having and no protection for civilised society.

While David Cameron poses as a cuddly green with a windmill and solar panel on his roof, Sir Menzies Campbell has emptily adopted "environment, environment, environment" as his mantra. Both are pathetic. After being similarly afflicted for years, a legacy-conscious Blair now seems to have plugged into reality: unless he does something about it, this nation will rightly blame him for the blackouts and chaos that are almost inevitable in 10-15 years.

On that timescale, pygmy politicians would let some other fool take responsibility for the problems to come. But they misjudge energy policy. It unerringly points the finger at the culprits for failure, because long-term security of supply requires long-term decisions. You cannot build power stations overnight and you cannot plan and build the right sort of power stations in much less than 10 years.

The British problem can be briefly stated. Coal (33 per cent) and nuclear (20 per cent) power stations currently generate just over half our electricity. Within 15 years, we could easily lose half that generating capacity because of closures on grounds of age and, in the case of coal, its carbon pollution.

On the basis of its 2003 White Paper, the Government proposes to fill that gap by reducing demand through energy conservation and with renewable sources of energy - wind, waves, tides, solar, geothermal and all kinds of biofuels - and natural gas. Gas already generates 40 per cent of our electricity but, in future, most of it will have to be imported from such unstable places as Russia, the Middle East, Algeria and Nigeria, at soaring prices as China and India demand ever more energy.

Understandably, after Mr Putin's interference with the Ukraine's gas supplies in mid-winter and Europe's hoarding of gas in cold weather, Whitehall has got the wind up. It is even more of aflutter because after 15 years' development - and growing hostility in the countryside - wind generates only 0.5 per cent of our electricity. The rest of the array of renewables, apart from fully-developed hydro-electricity, contribute little or are unproven, undeveloped or a mere gleam in the eye. Worse still, for all the improvements in the efficient use of electricity wrought by scientists and engineers and the insulation of houses, electricity demand rises inexorably by 1-1.5 per cent a year.

The Institution of Civil Engineers is more or less guaranteeing blackouts by 2020 unless we go nuclear which we know, after 50 years' generation, can produce power reliably, economically, safely and cleanly - it emits next to no greenhouse gases. Only Blair seems ready to face up to this.

Instead, wherever I go to talk on this subject as an advocate of nuclear power, I find people utterly besotted with renewables and energy conservation and what they call micro-generation.

Translated this means doing what Cameron proposes to do with his new house in Notting Hill - convert it into a mini-power station. The idea is that if we were all to do this, we would avoid nuclear and combat global warming by reducing steadily rising carbon dioxide emissions. If only these people would consult engineers. They will tell you that, since we cannot store electricity in bulk, the National Grid is a second-by-second balancing act. How, they ask, are we to balance supply and demand if we don't know where supply is coming from, when it is so disaggregated?

The greens ignore the question. For them replacing the National Grid with local, house-by-house, provision is the Holy Grail, even though the National Grid brought huge economies of scale nearly 70 years ago. Nor can they tell me where you and I will get alternative power or an engineer to repair our domestic generating system when it blows a fuse. It's bad enough now trying to get an electrician.

This is why I call these ignorant green fanatics enemies of the people. They are putting your future at serious risk. Let us pray that Tony Blair has enough political fuel left in his tank to do the right thing.

Yorkshire Post, 12 April 2006. Hat tip Philip Stott


The decision by David Cameron to cycle to work each day symbolised the reinvention of the Tories as the blue party that thought green. But last night the Conservative leader's carbon-friendly cycling was exposed as nothing more than, well, spin. Last Wednesday Mr Cameron set off as usual for Westminster on his mountain bike. But as the photographers captured him confidently pedalling away, a sleek limousine pulled up outside his Notting Hill home. Out stepped Mr Cameron's chauffeur to collect a package. Two minutes later he set off for Westminster bearing a pair of polished shoes, a briefcase and a crisp new shirt for his Lycra-clad boss. One 9km car journey and 1.7kg of carbon emissions later, and Mr Cameron was reunited with his documents and clothes for the office.

Tim Jackson, from the Centre for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey, said that the revelations, in today's Daily Mirror, showed that Mr Cameron's environmental pitch to voters was "just spin and rhetoric". He said: "If he was doing what he said [cycling to work] his carbon emissions would be zero. If this turns out to be true [his chauffeur regularly driving to Westminster] then it blows Mr Cameron's reputation out of the water."

Since being elected party leader Mr Cameron has introduced several initiatives on the environment, including setting up a policy group with Zac Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist magazine. He has also pledged to install a wind turbine on the roof of his family home as part of a 10,000 pound eco-makeover.

Last week he was criticised by green campaigners after failing to pick the most environmentally friendly option for his new car. The Conservative Party has decided not to accept the government-provided car for its leader and chosen to lease, at normal commercial rates, a Lexus GS 450h, the carbon emissions from which are far higher than one of the government options, a petrol-electric hybrid Toyota Prius. However, the Lexus, also a hybrid, produces fewer emissions than the government-provided Vauxhall Omega that he currently uses.

The Tories admitted last night that Mr Cameron's chauffeur regularly picked up his belongings, adding: "David Cameron has always enjoyed cycling and if he could carry all of his documents for work he would. But he has changed his car for one that has lower carbon emissions and he has made other personal changes to help the environment such as making his home more energy-efficient, and changed his electricity supply to renewable energy."

Yesterday Mr Cameron was again out demonstrating his desire to stamp out carbon emissions by extolling the virtues of public transport in Bury. He had arrived by helicopter.

The Times, 28 April 2006

8-year legal quagmire for landowners continuing in Australia

Tim Moore will have to tread carefully when he sets foot in Cudgen Paddock at Kings Forest on the North Coast today - the tinkling froglet can be hard to see but all too easy to find. The froglets' friends say its "tching tching" call sounds like a tinkling bell. Tweed Heads property developers must sometimes think they can hear a taunting, broken till. Mr Moore, a one-time Liberal state environment minister, will take the Land and Environment Court to Cudgen Paddock to find out how wallum froglets would fare against four dozen head of cattle. The future of a billion-dollar housing project - and of Tweed Shire Council - may turn on the commissioner's assessment of what he finds.

Tweed Shire Council was sacked one year ago amid allegations it was too pro-development. The former lord mayor of Sydney Lucy Turnbull, the former Tweed mayor Max Boyd and the Department of Local Government director-general, Garry Payne, were appointed administrators. Now the Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, is threatening to "call in" the biggest development proposal on the Tweed coast by declaring the site "state signicant" and seizing planning control.

Leda Holdings wants to build 4500 to 5000 homes at Kings Forest but has been trapped in the Local Environment Plan amendment process for the past eight years. Until recently, Leda's chairman, Bob Ell, could not even get approval to run 45 head of cattle on 80 hectares of the 1064-hectare site - grazed for the past century. Last month the council approved grazing, but due to six objectors the council's solicitors would not issue consent orders or withdraw from defending an appeal Mr Ell had begun in the Land and Environment Court.

Mr Moore will hear objections from the Caldera Environment Centre and Valerie Thompson, the president of the Tugun Cobaki Alliance, who objects to the grazing on Cudgen Paddock and the nearby $543 million Tugun bypass project. She fears for the wallum froglet, common planigale and long-nosed potoroo.



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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