Friday, May 26, 2006


A 'chilly war' has already begun, says Putin's former advisor, in which the very basic pillars of Western society are at stake. Andrei Illarionov, former economic advisor (2000-2005) to Russian President Vladimir Putin, argues that Europe's own policies have contributed to the current uncertainty over its energy security and that the Russian authorities are now able to take advantage of this situation - to the detriment of Western values and institutions:

"It is no surprise that Europe is facing a cold, dark future deprived of energy. In recent years, many European leaders have been obsessed with energy rationing. They intentionally have demonised energy production and use. They have claimed that hydrocarbon energy is too cheap and demanded a carbon tax. They have adopted the Kyoto Protocol - and cajoled Russia into joining," said Illarionov.

"Now that the bear of state interventionism and central planning is out of its cave, the Russian authorities are effectively offering the energy rationing so desired by European leaders. They shouldn't be surprised: this 'chilly war' is exactly what they have worked so hard to secure," he continued.

Illarionov suggests that the response, or absence of response, by Western leaders to actions by the Russian authorities - including violation of individual rights, disregard for freedom of speech, and aggressive behaviour towards democratically-oriented former Soviet states such as the Ukraine, Georgia and Maldova - has effectively led to a "chilly war" between Russia and the West.

"What we see now is a great battle unfolding in front of our eyes, one with implications similar to those of the Cold War. It is a battle not predicated on military, political or economic power. It is about the fundamental institutions that define western civilization - the market economy, liberal democracy, the rule of law - and the moral standards and values underlying these institutions," said Illarionov.

Illarionov explained that, in his view, energy security is symbolic of a larger issue between Russia and other G8 members in the lead-up to the July G8 meeting in St. Petersburg. "Are G8 members serious about defending the very cornerstones, defining values and institutions of Western civilisation - or will they compromise and bow to the demands and caprices of the new energy tsars?" Illarionov asked.

"The upcoming G8 meeting in St. Petersburg will be the first public test of how serious the West is about defending the values and institutions of Western civilisation. Judging by the actions of G7 leaders so far, it remains unclear whether they will stand up to this threat or not. Without this courageous leadership, Europe's future certainly will be cold and dark" he concluded.

International Policy Network. 23 May 2006


Pete du Pont is a former governor of Delaware

Since 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, America's population has increased by 42%, the country's inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has grown 195%, the number of cars and trucks in the United States has more than doubled, and the total number of miles driven has increased by 178%. But during these 35 years of growing population, employment, and industrial production, the Environmental Protection Agency reports, the environment has substantially improved. Emissions of the six principal air pollutants have decreased by 53%. Carbon monoxide emissions have dropped from 197 million tons per year to 89 million; nitrogen oxides from 27 million tons to 19 million, and sulfur dioxide from 31 million to 15 million. Particulates are down 80%, and lead emissions have declined by more than 98%.

When it comes to visible environmental improvements, America is also making substantial progress:

* The number of days the city of Los Angeles exceeded the one-hour ozone standard has declined from just under 200 a year in the late 1970s to 27 in 2004.
* The Pacific Research Institute's Index of Leading Environmental Indicators shows that "U.S. forests expanded by 9.5 million acres between 1990 and 2000."
* While wetlands were declining at the rate of 500,000 acres a year at midcentury, they "have shown a net gain of about 26,000 acres per year in the past five years," according to the institute.
* Also according to the institute, "bald eagles, down to fewer than 500 nesting pairs in 1965, are now estimated to number more than 7,500 nesting pairs."

Environmentally speaking, America has had a very good third of a century; the economy has grown and pollutants and their impacts upon society are substantially down.

But now comes the carbon dioxide alarm. CO2 is not a pollutant--indeed it is vital for plant growth--but the annual amount released into the atmosphere has increased 40% since 1970. This increase is blamed by global warming alarmists for a great many evil things. The Web site for Al Gore's new film, "An Inconvenient Truth," claims that because of CO2's impact on our atmosphere, sea levels may rise by 20 feet, the Arctic and Antarctic ice will likely melt, heat waves will be "more frequent and more intense," and "deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years--to 300,000 people a year."

If it all sounds familiar, think back to the 1970s. After the first Earth Day the New York Times predicted "intolerable deterioration and possible extinction" for the human race as the result of pollution. Harvard biologist George Wald predicted that unless we took immediate action "civilization will end within 15 to 30 years," and environmental doomsayer Paul Ehrlich predicted that four billion people--including 65 million American--would perish from famine in the 1980s.

So what is the reality about global warming and its impact on the world? A new study released this week by the National Center for Policy Analysis, "Climate Science: Climate Change and Its Impacts" ( looks at a wide variety of climate matters, from global warming and hurricanes to rain and drought, sea levels, arctic temperatures and solar radiation. It concludes that "the science does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures over the 21rst century, nor does it support claims of human influence on weather events and other secondary effects of climate change."

There are substantial differences in climate models--some 30 of them looked at by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--but the Climate Science study concludes that "computer models consistently project a rise in temperatures over the past century that is more than twice as high as the measured increase." The National Center for Atmospheric Research's prediction of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warming is more accurate. In short, the world is not warming as much as environmentalists think it is.

What warming there is turns out to be caused by solar radiation rather than human pollution. The Climate Change study concluded "half the observed 20th century warming occurred before 1940 and cannot be attributed to human causes," and changes in solar radiation can "account for 71 percent of the variation in global surface air temperature from 1880 to 1993."

As for hurricanes, 2005 saw several severe ones--Katrina and Rita both had winds of 150 knots--hitting New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and Florida. But there is little evidence linking them to global warming. A team of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists concluded that the increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995 "is not related to greenhouse warming" but instead to natural tropical climate cycles.

Regarding Arctic temperature changes, the Study found the coastal stations in Greenland had actually experienced a cooling trend: The "average summer air temperatures at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet, have decreased at the rate of 4 degrees F per decade since measurements began in 1987." Add in Russian and Alaskan temperature data and "Arctic air temperatures were warmest in the 1930s and near the coolest for the period of recorded observations (since at least 1920) in the late 1980s."

As for sea ice, it is not melting excessively. Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans concluded that "global warming appears to play a minor role in changes to Arctic sea ice." The U.N.'s IPCC Third Assessment Report concluded that the rate of sea level rise has not accelerated during the last century, which is supported by U.S. coastal sea level experience. In California sea levels have risen between zero and seven millimeters a year and between 2.1 and 2.8 millimeters a year in North and South Carolina.

Finally come the polar bears--a species thought by global warming proponents to be seriously at risk from the increasing temperature. According to the World Wildlife Fund, among the distinct polar bear populations, two are growing--and in areas where temperatures have risen; ten are stable; and two are decreasing. But those two are in areas such as Baffin Bay where air temperatures have actually fallen.

The Climate Science study concludes that projections of global warming over the next century "have decreased significantly since early modeling efforts," and that global air temperatures should increase by 2.5 degrees and the United States by about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the next hundred years. The environmental pessimists tell us, as in Time magazine's recent global warming issue, to "Be Worried. Be Very Worried," but the truth is that our environmental progress has been substantially improving, and we should be very pleased.


Awkward nuclear facts for the Left

They have probably never heard of pebble-bed technology before

New-generation nuclear reactors could be built safely anywhere in Australia because they did not pose a risk of meltdown and did not necessarily require water for cooling, according to Parliament's only doctor of physics, Dennis Jensen. The Opposition yesterday challenged the Government to rule out likely sites for reactors, but Dr Jensen, a West Australian Liberal, said later there were "all sorts of places", including in the desert. So-called generation IV reactors were gas-cooled and it was "physically impossible for them to melt down", said Dr Jensen, who is a former defence scientist and who has a doctorate in high-temperature ceramics.

As the new reactors did not require the large quantities of water for cooling needed by conventional reactors, they did not have to be on the coast, as speculated by critics this week. "The new technology allows you far more flexibility in location," Dr Jensen said. "Labor, by attempting to define potential sites for a nuclear reactor, are hoping to generate fear among people who live nearby." One version of the generation IV reactors was being developed in South Africa with support from China, he said, and the technology was attracting interest from Britain, the US and other countries. The reactors were cheaper to build than current versions and Dr Jensen said their generating costs were likely to be about the same as coal-fired stations.

In Parliament, the Treasurer and acting Prime Minister, Peter Costello, yesterday declined to answer an Opposition question about whether the Government would rule out possible sites, such as NSW's Northern Rivers region. The Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley, asked where the Government would find a place to dispose of high-level nuclear waste given it had not been able to find a place for low-level waste. National security was also a worry, he said. "Nations tend to regard those developing nuclear power for the purposes of power generation as retaining options for weaponising it, and that would be a very bad signal to send to this region," Mr Beazley said. [How dreadful!]

But the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, accused Mr Beazley of being a "charlatan", given the numerous Asian countries already with or planning to get nuclear power, including Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.

In Dublin, two days after accusing Mr Beazley of being unable to take a position on nuclear power, the Prime Minister, John Howard, accused him of hypocrisy for opposing it. Mr Howard said Mr Beazley's reaffirmation on Tuesday that Labor opposed nuclear power in Australia did not make sense. It was inconsistent to support uranium exports to other countries for nuclear power, but not be prepared to embrace it in Australia, Mr Howard said. "If nuclear power is unsafe, unacceptable . you shouldn't export any uranium to any other countries," he said. "I'm . in awe of [Mr Beazley's] hypocrisy on the issue."



On July 15, the leaders of the world's eight great industrial nations will convene in St. Petersburg, Russia, to discuss the future of the global economy. Chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin, it will mark the culmination of Moscow's 20-year transformation from the spiritual home of communism into a major capitalist power.

But the meeting will be held against a backdrop of increasing international tension about Russia's resurgence. Relations between Washington and Moscow are at their lowest ebb in 10 years, and in his recent Address to the Federal Assembly -- equivalent to the State of the Union address -- Putin remarked that "far from everyone in the world has abandoned the old bloc mentality and the prejudices inherited from the era of global confrontation."

The speech as a whole was an intricate balance between the need to arrest Russia's internal societal decline -- one-third of the population, which is shrinking rapidly, lives in poverty -- and a desire to play an ever-greater role in world affairs. Moscow's involvement in the Iranian nuclear affair is a case in point. Its refusal to sanction serious Security Council measures against Tehran is a growing source of concern to the United States and Britain.

This newfound confidence has its basis in Russia's economic resurgence since the collapse of the rouble in 1998, the single largest cause of which is the high (and rising) price of oil. Russia is the world's second-largest producer of oil, and the wealth pouring into Moscow has allowed it to retire most of its foreign debt and build up a $62 billion "stabilisation fund" to buttress its economy against a fall in oil prices. But if oil is underpinning Russia's economic growth, natural gas is the basis for its geopolitical resurgence. It possesses the world's largest reserves, and through its ownership of Gazprom -- now the world's third-largest company -- the Kremlin exercises a total monopoly on exports.

There is a growing concern in Washington and some European capitals that the actions of Gazprom and RAO UES, the state-owned electricity monopoly, are not solely driven by the profit motive. Both companies are pursuing an aggressive policy of acquiring "downstream" (i.e. distribution) assets in Europe and the Caspian basin to complement their "upstream" (i.e. production) facilities in Russia. For example, RAO UES recently purchased a majority stake in both Georgia's and Armenia's electricity networks in return for the offer of subsidized electricity. And Gazprom is currently purchasing transmission networks and distribution companies, often through middlemen organizations (one of which is being investigated by the Justice Department), in Eastern Europe and Germany. As a consequence, these state-owned monopolists are increasing Europe's structural dependence on Russian energy. And unlike oil, which can be transported anywhere in the world, gas and electricity require considerable investment in infrastructure, and hence long-term supply contracts, to be delivered to the market.

While such dependence has been growing for some years now, it was not until the Ukrainian crisis in December -- when Gazprom cut supplies to Kiev on the basis of an irresolvable "commercial dispute" -- that Europe and the United States began to question Russia's reliability as an energy partner. Since then, the EU has been scrambling to develop a new energy policy towards Russia, but a consensus remains elusive. Some countries are already too reliant on Russian energy, by dint of pipelines that date from the Soviet era, to ruffle any diplomatic feathers.

The Baltic States, Hungary and the Czech and Slovak Republics all receive more than 80% of their gas from Russia. By contrast, Berlin recently signed an agreement with Moscow to build a pipeline from the vast Shtokman field in the Barents Sea to the north German coast via the Baltic Sea. The plan has provoked a furious response from many Eastern European nations.

The Polish Defence Minister, Radek Sikorski, likened it to the pre-World War II Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact, wherein Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union secretly agreed to divide up Poland. But while such fears are overstated, the fact remains that, if the pipeline is completed, Poland and other Eastern European nations will be more vulnerable to Russia's political machinations because any 'disruptions' to supply won't now have a knock-on effect on the politically powerful Western European markets.

Such concerns were the basis of Vice President Cheney's recent comments in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius when he accused Moscow of using its energy resources as "tools of intimidation and blackmail" and its "back-sliding on democracy." Europeans share many of the same concerns, and following the rift over the Iraq war, the issue of Russia's growing assertiveness may offer the opportunity for greater transatlantic cooperation. Notwithstanding its traditional antipathy towards Russian authoritarianism, Washington has another considerable reason for weighing in on behalf on Europe: China.

Moscow has rapidly scaled up its diplomatic efforts with Beijing over the last few years -- both are fervent supporters of a multi-polar world order -- and trade tripled to $16 billion between 1999-2004. China's growing demand for energy, combined with Russia's vast untapped resources in Eastern Siberia, represents an opportunity for a further deepening of relations. However, Russia will struggle to meet both projected Chinese demand and its current European commitments without massive investment in new infrastructure. Such investment is unlikely to come from foreign investors as the climate for business in Russia becomes ever less encouraging, and it will therefore have to come from the Russian government.

If Europe feels that it cannot rely on Moscow as a stable source of energy, it will seek to diversify away from Russian gas and oil toward more expensive forms of power generation including nuclear and renewables, further undermining the continent's weak economic growth. Similarly, investing in exports to China is a very expensive, long-term proposition for Moscow, but one they are willing to undertake if they feel their European market share is sufficiently threatened.

By contrast, a free-market approach would greatly facilitate the trade in energy between Russia and Europe, because it makes eminent economic sense -- the infrastructures already exists, and demand is slowly rising. The EU, therefore, needs the United States' support to pressure Russia toward further integration into global trading system of liberalized markets and the privatization of its vast state-owned energy firms which too often conflate Russia's economic and political interests -- often to the detriment of both.

Human Events Online, 23 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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1 comment:

ChinaLawBlog said...

I have heard Gore holds up China as having better emission standards than the United States. This is a joke.

China is an environmental disaster and it is not because of its laws. It is because of the lack of enforcement of the laws. China’s care emission laws may be better than the United States’, but that is basically irrelevant because there are a huge number of cars there whose emissions would probably not meet anyone’s standards.