Monday, July 31, 2006

Public disservice: Melting myths

The last two weeks of July are normally the hottest of the year, so it's no surprise that we're being deluged with public-service announcements about the horrors of global warming. Radio and television stations are compelled to transmit these announcements at no charge because of a long-standing policy that they must provide "public good." "Don't Litter" and "Fasten Seat Belts" come to mind. Now the notion has been expanded to "Fight Global Warming." By defining it as something we all should fight, these announcements tell us warming must be bad — something no comprehensive treatise on the science and economics of climate change has ever demonstrated.

Ogilvy and Mather, a prestigious public-relations firm whose for-profit clients include IBM and Motorola, produced the global-warming ads for free on behalf of Environmental Defense, a major environmental nonprofit that clearly advocates certain types of global-warming legislation. Like their ads for Motorola, Ogilvy and Mather's global-warming announcements are clearly targeted towards sullen youth — a brilliant idea, considering the appallingly low level of scientific knowledge our children have in comparison to their counterparts around the world. But scientific exploration requires critical skepticism, and these ads are full of unquestioned certainties.

Perhaps the most egregious is a radio ad, called "The Gift." It mentions dying coral reefs, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, devastating floods, and hurricanes, and accuses us of leaving them all to our children. The ads ignore facts that are widely accepted in the scientific community. Take hurricanes. The frequency of category 4 and 5 storms — the really destructive ones — has increased as the planet warmed. Good sound bite, with only one problem: It's back to where it was in the 1940s and 1950s, long before human beings started warming things up.

In fact, as late as the 1970s, scientists were more concerned with planetary cooling, as revealed in the 1974 CIA report, "Potential implications of trends in world population, food production, and climate," that presented cooling-related food shortages as a major strategic threat. The report first appeared in public in the New York Times on May Day, 1976. Soon, global cooling abruptly reversed into global warming. Crop yields rose.

The public-service announcements are all similarly big on melting polar ice caps and consequent rises in sea level. The Arctic cap loses ice in the summer, but no one bothers to mention that we only began collecting data on it in 1979, at the end of the second-coldest period in the Arctic in a century. The ice had to be abnormally expanded then. It's also floating ice, and melting it and doesn't change sea level at all. And, for all the headlines about loss of ice in Greenland, which does contribute to rising sea levels, the mean temperature there was much higher from 1910 through 1940. Between then and the late 1990s, temperatures in southern Greenland — the region where ice is melting — declined sharply. One has to presume that Environmental Defense knows this.

Around the world, in Antarctica, for the last few decades, average temperatures across the continent have been going down. Snowfall has increased, resulting in more continental ice. In fact, every modern computer simulation of 21st century climate has Antarctica continuing to accrete ice.

Ogilvy and Mather marketed their public-service announcements through the Ad Council, whose website says that "reversing the global warming trend is possible." This suggests that humans have the power to turn planetary warming into cooling — a scientific absurdity. We have neither the technology, the means, the money, nor the political will to do this. Consider the Kyoto Protocol, a "baby step" in the fight against global warming. It "requires" the U.S. to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Requirements vary by a percent or so for most other signatories such as Canada and the EU nations. Yet if every nation of the world met its Kyoto targets, the amount of warming that would be prevented is .07 degrees Celsius per half-century — an amount too small to even measure, as average surface temperatures fluctuate by about twice that much from year to year.

Neither the U.S. nor the EU nor virtually anyone else will be able to fulfill the Kyoto targets. EU emissions rose last year, while U.S. emissions remained unchanged. "Reversing" warming would require reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 60-80 percent, which is simply impossible. The world economy would implode. Ogilvy and Mather's corporate website feature a quote from founder David Ogilvy: "We pursue knowledge the way a pig pursues truffles." But what about knowledge on hurricanes, ice caps, and the real possibilities with respect to global warming? The best course is one in which we continue to use our economic wherewithal to invest in successful companies, which are generally those that produce things efficiently or produce efficient things. Stating that would be a public service. The ads you're seeing and hearing are not.


It's time to drill for natural gas

Gas prices are too high. We can all agree on that. We hear a lot of complaints about how much we are paying to keep our cars moving. But what we don't hear much about is the astronomical increase in the price of natural gas. Since 2000, natural gas prices have more than tripled. That is a hefty hike. Why would we want to remain dependent on anyone else for that which we can provide for ourselves? It's time for us all to ask that question. It is a simple matter of Economics 101, Supply and Demand. Domestic gas production is in decline while demand has increased by 31%. More than 95% of new power plants are gas fired. Where is the gas going to come from if this decline continues?

It doesn't have to be this way, but because of governmental red tape we have a gas crisis. America has great energy potential and specifically North Carolina has the potential to end the crisis here. The Department of the Interior estimates that there is enough natural gas to sustain current production for 75 more years, resting off of our shoreline. It is estimated that North Carolina alone has 36 trillion feet of natural gas off of our coast.

We hear many elected officials lamenting over the loss of jobs in our country. Now there is an opportunity to do something about it. Since the natural gas crisis began in 2000, the US has lost more than 2.8 million manufacturing jobs. North Carolina has suffered many of those losses. Some industries have suffered more than others and many of those industries are right here in North Carolina. Let's take a look at some of the industries that have been especially hard hit.

* Agriculture - Since 2000, 36% of the nitrogen fertilizer plants dependent on natural gas have been shut down or mothballed. The agriculture industry spent $6.2 billion on energy in 2003-2004-16% of production costs.

* Plastics - The plastics sector has lost more than 150,000 jobs and $14.6 billion in business to other countries from 2000 to 2002.

* Chemical - Since 2000, America's chemical sector has lost nearly 90,000 jobs and $50 billion in business to overseas operations.

* Forest/Paper - The forest and paper industry has closed 200 mills and lost 146,000 jobs since the run-up in natural gas prices began.

Congress has an opportunity to remedy this situation. The Senate will be voting within the next few days on legislation that can allow us to become energy independent. Passage of such legislation would bring energy costs down, reduce reliance on foreign energy and bring jobs to North Carolina. I think it's time to do the responsible thing and help our state with a recovery plan to produce natural gas.



By ex-Marxist Mick Hume -- writing from Britain

RIGHT, get your sun-addled brain around this vicious circle. Environmentalists and the authorities argue that the recent heat waves demonstrate the extent of man-made global warming. If that's true, then we must need more air-conditioning to cope. But oh no, they tell us, that will cause - you've guessed it - man-made global warming. Verily, they want us to suffer for our sins. The old puritans cautioned only that we would burn in Hell in the next life. The neo-puritans tell us we must burn on Earth in this one.

Air-conditioning and refrigeration do indeed account for a lot of energy. But then, they are technological cornerstones of modern civilisation. Much of the world as we know it would be uninhabitable without air-con. The booming growth of the American South in the past half-century, from the metropolis of Los Angeles to the space centre of Houston, has been possible only because air-con is ubiquitous there. The UK is hardly California. But we need air-conditioning now almost regardless of the weather, as the success of domestic insulation schemes (ironically, to save energy) means that the problem is less heating up our homes than cooling them down.

Yet the belated spread of air-con over here is greeted with a hum of warnings about global warming. This heated debate typifies the doom-clouded climate. Even if we were to accept the eco-arguments, surely they highlight the need for humanity to adapt so it can thrive in a hotter world. We need to produce more and better air-con and refrigeration technologies, and more energy to power them. Instead, we get sermonising from those who seem less interested in the complex science of climate change than the simple moral parable of man-made global warming.

As far back as the world fairs of the 1930s - Chicago's "A Century of Progress" and New York's "Building the World of Tomorrow" - home air-con was lauded as a product of the future available today. I have just returned from a Turkish village where every apartment seems to have it. Yet in London, Olympic city of the 21st century, we are expected to swelter in our Victorian sweatboxes, and an electricity company has the cheek to claim too much air-con helped to cause yesterday's power cut in Soho. Meanwhile, in California, the world's air-con capital, rackety energy supplies threaten blackouts every time people turn up the dial. These shortcomings really are man-made disasters, and action to change things is needed now.

Let the neo-puritans stick their heads in a bucket of cold water. Some of us would rather put our faith in the miracle of man-made indoor climate change that is air-conditioning.



For California, sporadic blasts of withering heat are as typical as earthquakes. Not new. Not unexpected. But able to dominate our days, our nights and our conversations with an oppressive drumbeat of discomfort. So those who study weather and climate weren't surprised to be asked repeatedly if the recent stretch of killing heat was yet another effect of global warming.

Their short answer is, if so, global climate change would be just one factor stirred into a confounding brew of other effects, including the routine variability of weather. "There certainly is global warming, but . it's not like every summer is going to be like this one," said Jan Null, a Bay Area meteorologist. The changes are likelier to come in fractions of a degree each decade. "Back in '97 and '98, everything was El Ni¤o," said Null, who teaches meteorology at San Francisco State University and runs his own consulting firm. "The media likes easy labels to put on events. They don't like to hear, 'Well, this is just a normal cycle.' " Null leans toward blaming the normal cycle for Sacramento's record-breaking string of 100-degrees-or more days, noting that as recently as spring, the capital region was much cooler than usual instead of warmer.

Sacramento suffered through 11 days of 100 degrees or higher, easily surpassing the previous nine-day record, before the latest heat wave broke on Thursday. While records show the capital's longest hot spells have clustered largely in the past two decades, that doesn't necessarily tell us anything about global climate, said Jim Ashby, a climatologist with the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno.

A different man-made weather change could be warming Sacramento, Ashby suggested. Concrete and asphalt trap heat during the day and retain it overnight much longer than dirt and trees, creating the well-known "urban heat island" effect. Some rapidly growing cities, including Reno, are seeing much warmer nights than they used to and fewer overnight freezes, both clearly caused by urban development, he said. Like the vast majority of climate experts, Ashby believes there is overwhelming evidence that Earth's atmosphere is getting hotter. He stresses, though, that looking for global warming's effects in any fast-growing city is particularly tough because of urban heat islands.

There are other complications, too. Equipment changes over the decades. Mercury and alcohol thermometers have been replaced with twitchier digital ones. Measuring sites move, and Sacramento's has been especially active. The city's temperatures were taken from five different downtown sites before being monitored for decades from a post office's tarred roof, a spot ultimately abandoned for giving unusually warm readings, said Weather Service forecaster George Cline. Since 1999, Sacramento's weather has been recorded by equipment tucked away at a water treatment plant near California State University, Sacramento.

Different surroundings -- how much grass, how many trees, how much asphalt -- can easily alter temperature readings by a couple of degrees, potentially changing a 99-degree day to a 100-plus scorcher. Even irrigation can affect the weather, said Bryan Weare, a professor of atmospheric science at UC Davis. Just as paving drives up temperatures, water in the soil sends them down, and irrigation appears to have reduced summer highs for much of the Central Valley over the past 100 years, Weare said. That's just a reminder, he and others said, that no one year, no one hot spell, is evidence of much of anything.



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.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

The real cause of blackouts

Sometimes (well, often) you just want to say: down with the state! Consider that an outburst, the kind you feel like making when the lights won't come on. And the heat wave - and the public utility response - is the news that prompts it. All last week, major parts of Queens, New York, were without electricity following a failure of power that plunged major parts of the city into darkness amidst sweltering heat for more than a week. For many, it was the Ten Days of Hell. There were thousands who were without air conditioning, lights, refrigeration, internet connections, and, well, modern life generally.

And get this: no one is sure why, precisely, it happened, other than to say that the system became overloaded. What will happen as a result? Hearings, reports, meetings, yammering, resolutions, reforms, and, in time, another blackout followed by hearings, reports, meetings, etc., all of which will be filed in that huge warehouse where all the other reports on past blackouts reside.

What do the consumers do about it? They follow the news and keep paying the bills, to the same company that let them down. They can't switch. They can't influence the production process. They are powerless in more ways than one. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, California residents are putting up with blackouts, threats of more blackouts, denunciations from politicians, and even death: 56 people so far. All because of a heat wave, and all because the structure of the industry is not designed for extremes.

Now, if markets were in charge, a heat wave would not be looked at as a problem but an opportunity. Entrepreneurs would be swarming to meet demand, just as they do in every other sector that is controlled by markets. The power companies would be praying for heat waves! After all, do shoe manufacturers see a massive increase in footwear demand as a problem? Do fast food companies see lunchtime munchies as a terrible threat? On the contrary, these are profit opportunities.

Just who is in charge of getting electricity to residents? A public utility, which, in the absurd American lexicon, means "state-run" and "state-managed," perhaps with a veneer of private trappings. If you look at the electrical grid on a map, it is organized by region. If you look at the jurisdiction of management, it is organized by political boundaries. In other ways, the provision of power is organized precisely how a central planner of the old school might plan something: not according to economics but according to some textbook idea of how to be "organized." It is "organized" the same way the Soviets organized grain production or the New Deal organized bridge building.

All centralization and cartelization began nearly a century ago, as Robert Bradley points out in Energy: The Master Resource, when industry leaders obtained what was known as a regulatory covenant. They received franchise protection from market competition in exchange for which they agreed to price controls based on a cost-plus formula - a formula that survives to this day. Then the economists got involved ex-post and declared that electrical power has been considered a "public good," under the belief that private enterprise is not up to the job of providing the essentials of life.

What industry leaders received from this pact with the devil was a certain level of cartel-like protection, the same type that the English crown granted tea or the US government grants first-class postal mail. It is a government privilege that subjects them to regulation and immunizes companies from business failure. It's great for a handful of producers, but not so great for everyone else.

There are many costs. Customers are not in charge. They are courted only for political reasons but they are not the first concern of the production process. Entrepreneurial development is hindered. Our current system of electrical provision is stuck in time. Meanwhile, sectors that provide DSL and other forms of internet and telecommunication services are expanded and advancing day by day - not with perfect results but at least with the desire to serve consumers.

In markets, we aren't denounced for our "consumerism" and "greed"; if anything, it is courted and encouraged. Indeed, isn't this why markets are denounced? They encourage consumers to spend, spend, spend, consume, consume, consume. Well, think about the alternative. It exists right now with electrical provision. We are denounced for not wanting to live in 90-degree houses and sleep in puddles of sweat.

How New York and California consumers would adore a setting in which power companies were begging for their business and encouraged them to turn down their thermostats to the coldest point. Competition would lead to price reductions, innovation, and ever more variety of services - the same as we find in the computer industry.

What we are learning in our times is that no essential sector of life can be entrusted to the state. Energy is far too important to the very core of life to be administered by a bureaucracy that lacks the economic means to provide for the public. How it should be organized should be left to the markets. We can't say in advance. Whatever the result, you can bet the grid would not look like it does today, nor would its management be dependent on the whims of political jurisdiction.

What we need today is full, radical, complete, uncompromised deregulation and privatization. We need competition. That doesn't mean that we need two or more companies serving every market (though that was common up through the 1960s). What we need is the absence of legal barriers to enter the market. If that market is served by a single company, fine. Competition exists so long as the state is not prohibiting other companies from trying their hand.

More here

Hurricane expert queries global warming

Chris Landsea comes out fighting again

Historical data on hurricanes is not accurate enough to conclude that they are becoming more ferocious or that global warming is to blame, as some studies have suggested, a noted storm researcher says. In an article published in the journal Science, Chris Landsea, a leading researcher at the US National Hurricane Centre, challenged studies that found a dramatic jump in hurricane intensity in recent years. The paper is the latest salvo in the debate among climate scientists on whether human-induced global warming is producing stronger hurricanes.

The argument reached boiling point during last year's record-shattering Atlantic hurricane season, which produced 28 tropical storms and hurricanes including, for the first time in a single season, four of the most destructive Category 5s. Because of improvements in technology, including more and better satellites, forecasters now produce more accurate estimates of a storm's power, which could mean more hurricanes are now recognised as powerful Category 4 and 5 storms, Mr Landsea said. "It's a consequence of us better monitoring things the last 15 years than we did back in the '70s and '80s," he said.

Some climate scientists argue that global warming is causing more intense hurricanes, which draw their energy from warm sea water. Sea surface temperatures have increased about 0.55C in the past three decades, they say. Last year, respected researcher Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote in Nature magazine that the energy dissipated by hurricanes in the North Atlantic had doubled in the past 30 years. Another study, by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers and published in Science, found the proportion of hurricanes reaching Category 4 and 5 had nearly doubled in the past 35 years.

Mr Landsea is among a group of scientists who say the impact of global warming on hurricanes is not clear, and the studies do not account for inaccurate information in storm databases. "It's not to say that global warming isn't causing changes. I don't dispute the fact that global warming is going on or that it can have an impact on hurricanes," Mr Landsea said. He said researchers had data from only two geostationary satellites to monitor storms in 1975. Now, much better pictures were available from eight satellites. Today's scientists could get readings on hurricanes around the clock, where only daylight images were available decades ago. Together, the technology changes meant forecasters were more likely than in the past to determine that a hurricane had higher winds. "The hurricane doesn't change. But you're getting a better analysis of how strong that hurricane is," Mr Landsea said.

The Science article said reanalysis of historic data had found about 70 previously unrecognised Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the eastern hemisphere from 1978 to 1990. Such a finding would weaken the argument that the number of intense hurricanes is rising. "For some of the storms in the north Indian Ocean, if they were to occur today, we would say they are Category 4 or 5 and yet they are listed in the data as Category 3 or weaker," Mr Landsea said. A cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1970 and killed up to 500,000 people was not even listed as a hurricane, he said.


Stupid British Leftists ignore reality

Leftists are good at that

Whatever we say or do, they will burn the coal. Neither preaching nor politics will stop the mining and burning. Furnaces will be stoked, hydrogen molecules will ignite and millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide will be released as China and India burn the fuel that lies under their feet. This simple truth, which stands out like a sore thumb from any book of energy statistics, is ignored by our Government, which has turned the pursuit of carbon-free energy into a moral crusade. Yesterday, after years of prevarication, the Prime Minister's energy review backed the construction of nuclear reactors to replace ageing plant soon to be decommissioned. No more pandering to the green lobby (the Cabinet's own Greens were sacked or sidelined), because Tony Blair has belatedly discovered a gaping hole in the nation's future power supply which cannot otherwise be filled except by fossil fuels.

There will be lots more windmills and more nukes, because the Government believes reducing carbon is a moral issue, like binge drinking. This absolutist view is shared by few nations and acted on by none, bar one. Britain was alone in imposing onerous carbon limits on industry in the EU's carbon trading scheme. Most of Europe was lenient, setting easy targets for emission reduction, and as a result the price of a carbon permit fell sharply - the cost of pollution fell.

What happened? The price mechanism came into operation. Britain's power generators looked at the price of coal - cheap. They looked at the price of carbon permits - cheap. The price of gas - expensive. Power companies stuffed their coal-burning generators to the brim, earning a mint from the widening "dark spread", the margin between the cost of coal and the price of a kilowatt of power. Power companies everywhere are looking at the fattening "dark spread" and comparing it to the thinner "spark spread" and "quark spread", respectively the margins from gas or nuclear power generation.

Global coal consumption rose by 5 per cent in 2005, a year in which the overall rate of growth in energy consumption declined from 4.4 per cent to 2.7 per cent, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy. More coal means more carbon and global emissions rose 3 per cent, higher than the rate of energy use. Oil and gas are dear, so the world is looking for a cheap burn and the price mechanism, always reliable, is pointing to coal. There is an awful lot of it about - 155 years of proven coal reserves compared with 41 years of oil and 65 years of gas at current consumption rates.

How can we persuade power generators not to burn the naughty, carbon-rich but inexpensive fuel? In the absence of an outright ban on coal, there must be a price disincentive that makes virginal windmills, and whizzy atoms look a bit less the Rolls-Royce option. We fall back on emissions trading, but is the rest of Europe in the mood for expensive power? Where is our Government's strategy to persuade the entire world that coal is bad? Moreover, the coal is exactly where we need it most. It is not owned by troublesome sheikhs but by Australians and South Africans. Most of the world's coal is owned by by the biggest consumer; America has 27 per cent of the known coal deposits, some 240 years' worth.

And here is the final rub. China has 13 per cent of the world's coal and India 10 per cent. They scour the world for oil and gas, having little of their own. Both nations have a burgeoning requirement for fuel; India suffers a massive power deficit which will be satisfied, in large part, by burning coal in new power stations. What is to be done? There is emerging technology, still expensive, to extract clean fuels from coal. But, we cannot ask these nations not to burn coal, not to light their homes, not to become affluent, urban consumers like us. Morally, politically, rationally, it is not a sustainable argument.

There was a time when Britain had a useful, instead of a preachy role in the world. It was at the dawn of nuclear power when Calder Hall, the first commercial reactor, was commissioned in 1956. Nuclear engineering has suffered since, banished by ideologues and buried in economic decline. It is affluent, wealthy countries that clean up the environment and develop new energy technologies. There is an easy way to emit less carbon - become poor.


When the wind stops blowing

A new form of renewable energy has come on stream in the UK: the incandescent environmentalist. Once started, it lasts forever, but tends to generate far more heat than light. In a startling outbreak of long-term thinking, the Government has made clear its belief that nuclear power must be part of Britain's energy mix. Yet to judge by the furious response of environmentalists, you would think Blair had declared Britain must go 100 per cent nuclear. Not at all: the energy review makes clear renewables should also have a role in ensuring diversity of supply.

Environmentalists have always had problems distinguishing fact from fantasy in their attitude to nuclear power. For them, all nuclear reactors are like the one that exploded at Chernobyl, and all of them are underwritten by huge government subsidies.

For those whose world view has failed to move on since the Summer of Love, such beliefs are at least partly excusable. Back then, the Soviet Union did build a number of dodgy Chernobyl-style reactors, and the industry received massive hand-outs. But that was then. Chernobyl-type reactors - built in the face of bitter protests from western experts - have gone the same way as the Soviet Union. Today's nuclear power reactors have an impeccable track record, and are so efficient that the French company EDF says it will build Britain's next generation without the need for subsidy.

Compare that to renewables, which receive an estimated one billion pounds a year in handouts. And when Germany's wind-farms were hit by a six-hour lull in November 2003, the nation suddenly lost the equivalent of three conventional power stations. The eco-warrior view of all things nuclear has not shifted since the publication of When the Wind Blows. But even then it was clear nuclear power keeps going when the wind stops.



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, July 29, 2006

Obligatory global warming scares of the day

Post lifted from Reason to Freedom

Warming Warning causes 139-car chain-reaction pileup on Ventura Freeway.

When scientists at the Golden State Global Warming Detection and Advanced Warning Center in Palo Alto detected a sudden, sharp increase of .0013 degree Celsius in the Global Warming Temperature Index (GWTI), they immediately initiated a Warming Alert, which caused all of the Warming Warning sirens in coastal Southern California to go off and emergency alerts to be broadcast over all media including XM radios, cell phones and iPods. Many drivers panicked and hit their brakes, causing a multi-car smashup that went on for thirteen minutes. No fatalities were recorded, but first-responders reported thirty-two cases of airbag deployment facial burns and at least seven incidents of hyperventilation. Most victims were treated at the scene and released back into their SUVs.

Eco-historians discover evidence of manmade global warming.

The common bow-and-arrow was the preferred "environmentally friendly" way of killing people for centuries, say eco-archeologists. However, the crossbow, a Chinese invention introduced into Europe in the 11th century, chucked iron bolts through the air at speeds greater than any manmade objects in the prior history of manmade objects. This human activity rent the ether and disrupted the celestial firmament, which contributed to the demise of the Little Ice Age (which most public school educated people have never heard of) and caused a return to "normal" temperatures which today we refer to as "global warming," a condition that will, among other things, allow England to once again develop vineyards and "fine English table wines" as was common before Global Cooling destroyed them.

Increased crime caused by GW-enhanced "fuller moon" effect

Crime increases during a full moon. But global warming, scientists say, has caused the moon to be even fuller than in the past. Here's how it all works, according to eco-urology specialist Albedo Greenhouse: human destruction of forests causes more birds to spend more time airborne. Flying birds urinate, leaving uric acid droplets suspended in the air. These droplets act as tiny magnifiers, which cause a full moon to appear even fuller than normal. Since the full moon causes crime, a fuller moon causes even more crime. While studies conducted over the years have completely pooh-poohed the notion that crime is affected by the full moon, Greenhouse pooh-poohs the pooh-poohing. "My studies say this all happens as I say it happens," insists Greenhouse, "and it must be true because the mainstream media printed it."

GW behind surge in silver screen pollution

Empirical evidence alone identifies the public's irrational fears about global warming as the primary trigger for the deluge of low budget, incredibly stupid made-for-TV Shlockbusters featuring old has-been and young unknown wannabe actors playing second fiddle to special effects such as blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, locust swarms and yet more remakes of cruise ships turned upside down by tsunamis. These movies teach us that when the earth is destroyed through our own arrogant refusal to pay higher ticket prices, the destruction of tall buildings will look suspiciously like old footage from The Towering Inferno and at least thirteen early Godzilla movies.

GW causes mental disease in otherwise healthy individuals

People who identify themselves as libertarians tend to be deeply skeptical of global warming claims because every "cure" inevitably demands colossal socialist-fascist style big government central planning schemes requiring massive infusions of our taxbucks and the total annihilation of all individual freedom. This suspicion generally renders libertarians resistant to a severe psychosis identified by psycho-political epidemiologists as "eco-obsessive syndrome." The disease typically manifests itself when the afflicted person babbles phrases beginning with "If I was president I'd force everyone to ." and then degenerates into incoherent gibberish featuring any of the following delusional clich‚s: ". recycle, bicycle, eat organic, worship Gaia, wear hair shirts, pretend the global cooling hysteria of the 60s never happened while riding in limousines to Hollywood fundraising dinners for future President and Planetary Savior Al Gore."

Unearthly warming disaster

Feeling completely left out of the GW mania that has made ecologists seem important and sexy, a group of astronomers has announced that the seasonal planet-wide dust storms on Mars is caused by global warming. Their proof rests on the unassailable evidence that they said it and the mainstream media printed it.

Bird flu

Global Warming will be the cause of the bird flu pandemic that hasn't swept America yet. This cannot be proved. But it is true nonetheless because some eco-hysteric said so and the mainstream media printed it.


Georgia Tech researchers have created a new combustor (combustion chamber where fuel is burned to power an engine or gas turbine) designed to burn fuel in a wide range of devices ? with next to no emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO), two of the primary causes of air pollution. The device has a simpler design than existing state-of-the-art combustors and could be manufactured and maintained at a much lower cost, making it more affordable in everything from jet engines and power plants to home water heaters.

"We must burn fuel to power aircrafts and generate electricity for our homes. The combustion community is working very hard to find ways to burn the fuel completely and derive all of its energy while minimizing emissions," said Dr. Ben Zinn, Regents' professor, the David S. Lewis Jr. Chair in Georgia Tech's Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering and a key collaborator on the project. "Our combustor has an unbelievably simple design, and it would be inexpensive to make and inexpensive to maintain."

Attaining ultra low emissions has become a top priority for combustion researchers as federal and state restrictions on pollution continuously reduce the allowable levels of NOx and CO produced by engines, power plants and industrial processes.

Called the Stagnation Point Reverse Flow Combustor, the Georgia Tech device, originally developed for NASA, significantly reduces NOx and CO emissions in a variety of aircraft engines and gas turbines that burn gaseous or liquid fuels. It burns fuel with NOx emissions below 1 parts per million (ppm) and CO emissions lower than 10 ppm, significantly lower than emissions produced by other combustors.

The project's initial goal was to develop a low emissions combustor for aircraft engines and power-generating gas turbines that must stably burn large amounts of fuel in a small volume over a wide range of power settings (or fuel flow rates). But the design can be adapted for use in a variety of applications, including something as large as a power generating gas turbine or as small as a water heater in a home. "We wanted to have all the clean-burning advantages of a low temperature combustion process while burning a large amount of fuel in a small volume," Zinn said.

The combustor burns fuel in low temperature reactions that occur over a large portion of the combustor. By eliminating all high temperature pockets through better control of the flow of the reactants and combustion products within the combustor, the device produces far lower levels of NOx and CO and avoids acoustic instabilities that are problematic in current low emissions combustors.

To reduce emissions in existing combustors, fuel is premixed with a large amount of swirling air flow prior to injection into the combustor. This requires complex and expensive designs, and the combustion process often excites instabilities that damage the system.

But Georgia Tech's design eliminates the complexity associated with premixing the fuel and air by injecting the fuel and air separately into the combustor while its shape forces them to mix with one another and with combustion products before ignition occurs.


I'll Have a Big Mac, Three Disposable Planets, and a Large Coke, Please

Post lifted from Agoraphilia

I am proud and happy to announce that if everyone on the planet lived like me, we would need 6.5 planets -- this according to BBC News Online's Disposable Planet Quiz.

I suppose I should feel suitably chastened, trade in my car for a bicycle, become a vegetarian, reduce my electricity usage to what I can pull from solar panels in my windows, and (most important of all) support the recommendations of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development.

I'm not buying. The Eco-Footprint approach relies on the same faulty assumptions behind Paul Erlich's _Population Bomb_ (which was supposed to explode a couple of decades ago -- what happened?) and other Malthusian nightmare scenarios. The quiz's result is based on the number of "biologically productive global hectares" available in the world, relative to how many I allegedly consume. There are, the site says, only 1.8 such hectares per person worldwide, whereas the average American creates an "Ecological Footprint" of 9.7 (I beat the average with a whopping 11.7!). The problem is that this term "biologically productive global hectare" is based only on current technology. How many hectares are biologically productive (that is, usable for agriculture or similar purposes) and how much they produce will undoubtedly change in the future. As the Quiz authors admit in their explanatory page, "Technology can alter the productivity of land, or the efficiency with which resources are used to produce goods and services."

But, you might say, we don't know technology will improve, so we have to assume current technology. I don't buy that, because market economies create powerful incentives for technological innovation. But even if we assume current technology, the Eco-Footprint still underestimates the productivity of the planet, because "the calculations assume that the technologies used in resource exploitation are the average of those prevailing in the world today." Remember that the incredibly low-tech agricultural techniques used in many underdeveloped nations of the world are included in that average. In short, the Eco-Footprint tells us nothing about what the planet's productivity would be if currently available technologies became more widespread.

In addition, as Julian Simon argued in his book _The Ultimate Resource_, "resource" is not a physically defined entity. A resource is whatever human beings have found a way to use productively. Things not currently perceived as resources will be so perceived with future technologies. (Think about the value of silica before the invention of silicon chips and fiber optics.) This is yet another reason why the fixed pie assumptions underlying the Eco-Footprint approach just don't fly.

So eat, drink, drive, live in a big house, blast your A/C, turn up the TV, and be merry.

Australian public broadcaster gets a slap on the wrist over Greenie bias

The media regulator has given the ABC's Four Corners program a slap on the wrist for using emotive language and providing inaccurate information during an "impartial" report on the forestry industry in Tasmania. The finding comes more than two years after the first complaint was made about the program, Lord of the Forests, which appeared on the ABC in February 2004 and included allegations by a close connection between the Tasmanian government and the forestry industry, in particular the timber company, Gunns Limited.

"The manner in which the report was presented would have given an ordinary reasonable viewer the impression the program favoured the anti-forestry, anti-logging perspective," the Australian Communications and Media Authority said in its 25-page report. "The many instances of subjective and emotive language over the course of the program are sufficient to find that the program was not impartial." The authority told the ABC to review its procedures for preparing television current affairs programs so "every reasonable effort is made to ensure the impartiality of those programs".

A spokeswoman for the ABC said the matter would be referred to its board. In an earlier response to the findings, the ABC defended reporter Ticky Fullerton's use of language. It said many of the phrases highlighted by the regulator - including "overwhelming devastation" and "voracious appetite for timber" - were taken out of context or were "reasonable journalistic descriptions".

The authority said yesterday the ABC was found to be in breach of its code seven times in the 12 months to June 30 last year. A spokesman conceded the investigation took a long time to complete. He said the authority's boss, Chris Chapman, wanted to improve investigation processes.

The ABC has often come under fire from the Government because of claims of impartial reporting. During a senate estimates hearing earlier this year the news director, John Cameron, was pummelled with questions from a Liberal senator, Michael Ronaldson, about a former ABC policy banning journalists from calling members of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists. Three years ago, the then communications minister, Richard Alston, hit the ABC with 86 complaints about its Iraq coverage.



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, July 28, 2006


This is a dtory about dodgy statistics. It is intended more as a cautionary than a moral tale so you will find no villains or heroes in it. Though interesting, the issue itself is secondary. Being neither a statistician nor an engineer, I may in what follows make blunders of my own: but my purpose is not to initiate you into the mysteries of energy conservation but to offer a real-life example of how a dud fact can enter the national mind with no valid passport and no real corroborating paperwork.

Some of us are sure we saw or heard of a claim by the Chancellor, in April, that "up to 10 per cent of the electricity supply" is being wasted on electrical appliances left on "standby". I thought I heard this on a BBC radio news report. A colleague on The Daily Telegraph thinks it must have been a press briefing that led him to report on April 20 that "the Chancellor will be addressing the UN on the need for international co-operation to protect the environment. He intends to highlight the `huge waste' from consumer goods left on standby - about 10 per cent of the electricity supply".

The Evening Standard reported likewise. Gordon Brown flew off to speak in New York: "Consumer goods left on standby worldwide are responsible for 1 per cent of global emissions." That is, of course, a very different claim, which Mr Brown's civil servants say is partly based on an academic study in California. Of which more later.

As for the 10 per cent claim, the Treasury informs me (in so many words) that if it isn't true then Gordon Brown didn't say it, we must have misheard, and even if he did, it would be somebody else's fault - probably another department, so why don't I talk to them? Funny how civil servants begin to resemble their masters.

Meanwhile, it's fair to say that the startling "approximately 10 per cent" figure has entered the public imagination. Everyone I ask has noted claims about the wastefulness of appliances in standby mode. Politicians - who have to be communicators - need striking killer facts, and Westminster has embraced this one with a passion. Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat Environment spokesman, has been asking parliamentary questions about it, and so has Baroness Perry of Southwark. There have been many newspaper reports: "Energy waste soars as we fill our homes with gadgets" said the headline in the Daily Express.

Ministers love nothing better than a simple, graphic certainty. And so it was that last week Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary, in a statement to Parliament on the energy review, declared: "Mr Speaker, it is estimated that leaving electric appliances on standby uses about 7 per cent of all electricity generated in the UK. So we will work with industry . . . to phase out inefficient goods limiting the amount of standby energy wasted." "About 7 per cent?" A new figure? Or is that "about 10 per cent"? More importantly, where did the phrase "all electricity generated in the UK" come from? We need not bother ourselves with this mystery because a written correction came fast from Mr Darling: "Further to my statement to the House on Tuesday July 11, it has come to light that the statistics quoted on electricity appliances on standby should have referred to 8 per cent of electricity used in the home, not 7 per cent of the electricity generated in the United Kingdom." This erratum slip reduced the estimate for wasted power to less than half the earlier figure - but, hey-ho, what's a few hundred gigawatts between friends?

Friends of the Earth took a similarly cheerful attitude when I rang them."In a way it doesn't really matter. In the meantime the Government should act." I rather warmed to that: at least it was honest, and made the not un- reasonable point that whatever the figures, there's a hell of a lot of electricity being wasted in lots of ways you might not have thought about.

Nevertheless, in the belief that the facts do still matter a bit, I tried to find out where all these figures were coming from. First I was directed to A Worldwide Review of Standby Power Use in Homes, conducted for the US Government by Alan K. Meier of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's energy analysis department. This is an old paper, published in 2000. It is carefully couched. It does not support the certitudes expressed by ministers or journalists. Dr Meier's report estimates that "between 3 per cent and 12 per cent of electrical power is being wasted on standby".

The guess is based on surveys in 22 countries. The United Kingdom has almost the best record of all of them: a fraction of the wastage in the United States or New Zealand. But in Britain only 32 homes were surveyed. There must (I thought) be a better basis for ministers' claims than a 20th-century survey of 32 houses. I inquired further and was led by the exceptionally helpful Institution of Engineering and Technology to a report, The Rise of the Machines, from the government-sponsored Energy Savings Trust. This document estimates that the figures for standby wastage "range from 3 to 10 per cent of residential electricity use".

But from where do such estimates come? I am redirected again, this time to a baby of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, named Market Transformation Programme. Its Report BNXS 36 is headed Estimated UK Standby Electricity Consumption in 2004. Here at last are hard figures - or what seem to be. 9.2 terawatt-hours wasted per annum: about 360kWh per household, 8 per cent of domestic electricity consumption, costing about 27.50 pounds per household. In other words, about 10 pounds from each of us. You could recoup that by replacing one 100w tungsten light bulb with a low-energy equivalent (though in winter an appliance on standby is slightly helping to reduce your heating bill). Curiously, the MTP's 9.2 terawatt global figure includes commercial, retail, hotel and office use. To divide this by the number of private households seems misleading - if that is indeed what they've done.

Have they? I put a call in to the Defra press office, who promise someone will come back to me - but nobody does. Finally they re-send me the EST report - with a press release saying the figure is 10 per cent. Better tell Mr Darling, whose 8 per cent figure comes from the MTP report. But where, in turn, did the MTP folk find their figures? My eye moves to the references quoted at the end of the report.

And what's this? Alan K Meier again: that old 2000 study. So I make one final dive into what is turning into our rather flimsy Holy Grail. Near the end of Meier's report I spot this: "Estimates of standby power use and savings opportunities are based on just a few, scattered measurement studies . . . (they are) inadequate. More complete information is needed to answer these questions:

* What is the overall size of standby (nationally and globally)?
* What are the key contributors to standby?
* Is standby growing or declining?
* What are the potential savings from reducing standby?"

Meier is asking these questions! Everyone else is pointing to him as the man who answers them. The truth is plain. Nobody has the least idea. All we do know amounts simply to this: that some small energy savings are available from switching some appliances right off.

At the start of the Iraq war, Jack Straw, then the Foreign Secretary, announced that Iraq was more than twice the size of France. Soon everyone was repeating this. Actually Iraq is smaller than France. But why fret? Journalists and politicians bring you the essential not the literal truth. The essential truth is that you must remember to unplug your mobile phone charger; and Iraq is awfully big.


On Global Warming: Who's Censoring Now?

Post lifted from Amy Ridenour

Next time you hear U.S. government physicist James Hansen claim the government is trying to censor him, consider this (paid subscription required) from Environment & Energy Daily (7/21/06):
A chronic illness only partly explains why James Hansen decided to skip the House Government Reform Committee's on global warming in seven years. The embattled NASA scientist also passed on yesterday's event because lawmakers are "still in denial" about the reasons for dramatic changes in the Earth's climate, he said last night in an e-mail.

In the message Hansen sent to reporters to explain his absence from yesterday's hearing, the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies said he had a conflicting doctor appointment to deal with a cold that interacts with his asthma... But he also indicated he would have adjusted his schedule if the witness list did not also include skeptical points of view.

"I would get out of my sickbed to testify to Congress on global warming, if they were ready to deal responsibly with the matter," Hansen wrote. "But obviously they are still in denial, inviting contrarians to 'balance' the science of global warming."

Hansen apparently was objecting to the House panel's late addition of John Christy, a professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In his testimony yesterday, Christy told lawmakers that scientists "cannot reliably project the trajectory of the climate" for large regions of the United States.

Christy also said it would be a "far more difficult task" to predict the effects should the United States adopt a mandatory greenhouse gas policy.

Hansen's e-mail said skeptical points of view cloud the climate debate rather than enlighten it. "The function of the contrarians is to obfuscate what is known, so as to keep the public confused and allow special interests to continue to reap short-term profits, to the detriment of the long-term economic well-being of the nation," he said.

Hansen said Congress should direct the National Academy of Sciences to update its 2001 report to President Bush on the state of the science surrounding global warming. "Until then, it is just a charade," he wrote...
Perhaps he meant it to be perceived differently, but Dr. Hansen's actions fit the description of a hissy fit. If Hansen disagrees with Dr. John Christy (whose testimony to the commitee can be found in pdf form here), why not participate in the hearing and explain why?

Science is supposed to be about considering all points of view and then rejecting those that cannot be proven valid, not about throwing hissy fits because alternative points of view are under consideration.

Had the House Government Reform Committee taken a page from Dr. Hansen's playbook and refused to invite Dr. Christy solely because of Christy's views, it would have been censorship.


Magistrates in Exeter, England, have binned a test case for the laws making recycling compulsory. But while the local council may be squealing that this makes the rules unenforceable, nobody seems to be asking the more uncomfortable questions about why green policies are proving to be increasingly authoritarian. Donna Challice, a 31-year-old single mother of three, was charged by Exeter city council with placing food waste in bins designated for recyclable items. Challice claimed that the food waste, including takeaway containers, was being put in her bins by passers-by. The council was unable to prove who was doing it, and lost the case.

Mike Trim, recycling officer for the local council, said: `We will have to look at the implications for us and other local authorities. It will be hard to bring cases like this if there has to be direct evidence of an individual contaminating a recycling bin. It's hard to see how you can carry out surveillance practically on what people do in their own homes and their own back gardens. This case shows the Act is not working in its current form.'

The prospect of jobsworths from the council environment department staking out housing estates is a less than attractive one. Presumably Mr Trim and his colleagues regard having to provide evidence in court as a messy business - much like separating your waste - and would be happier if they could slap a fine on householders and ask questions later.

Luckily for them, that's an idea the government has already had. Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, councils will have the power to hand out fixed penalty notices for breaking the recycling rules. Those fixed penalties could still be challenged in court, but the authorities know that this is much less likely than if a case has to be brought to court in the first place.

The steady drip of letters, notices and fines against individuals charged with breaking the recycling rules might make some sense if recycling was a worthwhile activity. However, as Richard Tomkins points out in the Financial Times, `recycling household waste makes little difference to resource depletion because the quantities involved are too small'. Noting that the vast majority of resources in society are used in manufacturing, construction, commercial and public sector activities, he concludes that `the sort of recycling that makes a difference occurs outside the home, not in it'.

Daniel K Benjamin, professor of economics at Clemson University in South Carolina, notes that there are numerous myths about recycling, including:

-- We're overwhelmed by rubbish. In fact, our rubbish takes up a small fraction of available land. In many cases, rubbish is used to fill holes made by other activities, like mining or quarrying. There are other alternatives, like incineration, which can greatly reduce the volume of what is sent to landfill.

-- Waste is harmful. The vast majority of waste is harmless and perfectly safe in landfill.

-- Packaging is a huge problem. A combination of technical development and a desire to save money means the packaging on most goods has been steadily reduced over the years, and packaging reduces other forms of waste, like rotting or damaged food.

-- We're squandering resources if we don't recycle. The scarcity of a resource tends to be reflected in its price - if the stuff we throw away was really valuable, we wouldn't throw it away. Moreover, we are not concerned with a particular substance but rather with what that substance does - if we find something else that does it better and cheaper, resources can become obsolete long before they run out.

-- Recycling is better for the environment. Given that recycling is a manufacturing process in itself, it also uses energy and raw materials - and running separate rubbish collections burns extra fossil fuels. Whether recycling a particular type of waste is really better for the environment needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

-- Without compulsion, recycling wouldn't happen. Actually, lots of recycling goes on all the time. Numerous industries, large and small, have grown up around recycling, particularly with regard to commercial and industrial waste. The difference is that in these areas, recycling makes economic sense.

To summarise: household waste makes up only a small part of total waste and it is relatively expensive to collect. In fact, if we are to believe Exeter councillor Pete Edwards, what is collected is so close to being worthless that any contamination (for example, a takeaway carton) appears to make an entire batch of recyclable waste uneconomic to process: `Every day, thousands of people in the city diligently sort through their rubbish, separating residual waste from recyclables. It only takes one person to contaminate their green bin and we have to discard a whole lorry-load of recyclables. We cannot let the thoughtless minority spoil it for the selfless majority.'

None of which takes into account the time it takes all of us householders to separate waste and manage two or three different bins. Some might argue that moaning about this extra work is petty. But if there's no good reason to do it, then the whole recycling process becomes an expensive charade. No wonder the authorities, unable to convince many of us that recycling makes sense, have resorted to heavy-handed tactics.

Household recycling only makes sense as the practical form of a morality tale: that humans are essentially greedy and rapacious. The physical expression of that greed is the amount of rubbish we create. The lesson is that we should all rein in our expectations and demand less - be less `thoughtless' and more `selfless', to use the councillor's words. Western politicians have failed in recent decades to provide substantial economic growth. The environmentalist argument is that growth is not just difficult to produce - it isn't desirable, either. This suits political parties that have run out of ideas for how to carry society forward (see Who's afraid of economic growth?, by Daniel Ben-Ami).

The environment is also just the kind of lowest common denominator issue that the political classes are scrabbling round for right now to give themselves an excuse for existing. Who, after all, is not in favour of saving the planet? No one should have been surprised that David Cameron's Conservatives, a party with a particularly pressing need to find a reason to keep going, ran their local election campaign under the slogan `Vote Blue, Go Green'.

The case of Donna Challice captures in microcosm where society is headed: to a situation where our leaders try to convince us that we should lower our horizons, and where they wield the big stick against those who think otherwise. What a waste.


Loony Green/Left government in the Australian State of Victoria

In Victoria, rivers are no longer water SOURCES. They are now water USERS! Comment below by Andrew Bolt

John Thwaites says we use too much water and too many plastic bags. But our state Environment Minister uses too little of something far rarer than water and even better than bags. Try brains. Has any government put out anything more irrational and half-baked than did green-priest Thwaites last week with his "Sustainability Action Statement"?

Here is proof that the true battle isn't between those who want to save the environment or use it. It's between those who have given in to superstition and those who still defend reason. Last week's statement promised, without a blush of shame, to make your power bills rise, your water dry up and your shopping bills rise, yet -- incredibly -- the media clapped like mad.

Indeed, this was mad. Take Thwaites' promise to force retailers to charge you 10 cents for each of those wicked plastic bags you use to carry home the shopping. Says Thwaites's statement, 10 million of them each year become litter "that endanger the health of marine wildlife", clog drains or "detract from the beauty of our environment". So from 2012 the poor will be fined for using these bags of evil, forcing them to use something else -- a pram, perhaps? -- to get their tins and packages home. (The rich won't feel any hurt at a lousy 10 cents a bag, which is why the rich-pleasing media barely cares about all this.)

But does the 10 cents actually make sense? Not if you believe the Productivity Commission. A draft commission report in May found that plastic bags make up only 0.2 per cent of land fill, where they probably do some good, reducing toxic leakage and keeping the fill stable. And there was little proof the bags caused harm to wildlife, which tends not to shop with them anyway. They might make a mess here and there, but there were probably cheaper ways of dealing with that than a ban, said the commission's boss, Philip Weikhardt. Besides, they are just so useful, which is why we don't carry our groceries home in, say, an Esky or a suitcase. More than 60 per cent are reused lining bins or for other household jobs such as keeping food fresh. Heavens, that might save lives. In fact, as the Environment Protection and Heritage Council concluded: "Plastic bags are popular with consumers and retailers as they are a functional, lightweight, strong, cheap, and hygienic way to transport food and other products."

So what was the Government's excuse for slapping on the 10 cent fine when it makes so little sense? I think I've found the answer on page 47 of Thwaites' statement: "(P)lastic bags are a symbol of our inefficient use of resources . . ." Note that the bags themselves aren't inefficient. They are bad because they are symbols of other things that are. And so must go. Mad. Next!

Next is Thwaites' promise to force energy retailers to buy 10 per cent of their power from green-approved solar and wind generators. Which sounds so earth-cuddling. Except for this: these huge mills and reflectors of "green" power wreck our views more than plastic bags ever could. And they'll crank out power that costs us big without cutting global warming by any amount anyone can measure. Figure it out for yourself: Most climate modellers -- such as Tom Wigley, senior scientist at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research -- say even if all the Kyoto-approved cuts to the world's greenhouse gases were put in place right now, they would delay the rise in temperature predicted for 2100 by a measly six years. The heat expected in 2100 will come anyway in 2106.

Now imagine what small contribution wind-power will make in producing that tiny effect. Break that down even more: what share of that contribution is Victoria's? See? These wind farms we're building will make all the difference of a bat-squeak in a grand-final roar. But measure the cost, and not just in ruined views. The Government says the extra green power will make your power bills go up by $1 a month. In fact, the Opposition is correct in warning the true cost is more likely to become more than five times that -- and we'll still need coal-fired plants as backup for the days the wind doesn't blow. Or blows too hard. Again, this is just an expensive symbolic gesture to please green gods. We must pay so Thwaites can pray.

Next! Yes, there is a next because the one thing we're not running out of under this Government is irrationality. Next is Thwaites's manic determination to stop any future government from building a dam for Melbourne on the river once set aside for that very purpose. Not content with already having turned the dam reservation at Gippsland's Mitchell River into a national park, Thwaites now says the Government will pass a law to declare the Mitchell a heritage river that can never be dammed. Don't think he doesn't know he's locking up good drinking water that one day we will badly need. His statement admits the "Mitchell River (is) the largest free-flowing river without a dam in southeastern Australia". So, you'll think there must be a good reason to deny us this water when our dams are already less than half full, with dry Melbourne expecting a million more thirsty residents within 25 years.

And I've found them. Well, not good reasons, but the only ones Thwaites's allies at Melbourne Water can dream up to justify their minister's dam ban. Says Melbourne Water: "New dams do not create any new water." How about that for a reason not to build one? Might as well not have built any of Melbourne's dams, then. None of them create water either, do they? On struggles Melbourne Water: "If a new dam were built for Melbourne, it would need to be filled with water that is currently used by rural and regional communities and the environment."

Pardon me? How is water "used ... by the environment"? Who can tell if a river really is "using" water, or just wasting it? And if a river really is "using" water, who says I can't take it anyway? But isn't all river water "used by the environment"? Um, well, yes, actually. So this nonsense statement tells us we should empty every dam we've ever built and never drink another drop of water that could be "used" by the rivers instead.

Indeed, this Government is already pulling the plug on the reservoir at Lake Mokoan, and promising to send more water from our dams down half a dozen of our rivers to flow to waste in the sea. This, during our worst recorded drought. You'll find all this hard to believe, so go check the October issue of Melbourne Water's A Source magazine. There you'll find Thwaites's plan for the giant Thomson Dam, which holds 60 per cent of Melbourne's water but is less than 40 per cent full. Does Thwaites plan to plug any leaks? Cut back on releases into the river? Hell, no. His big idea is to empty the reservoir of an extra 8 billion litres of drinking water each year to baptise more fish and bless more plants. So, while sacred fish soak we mere humans must heed Preacher Thwaites' call last week to "save the planet" by taking "four-minute power showers instead of the average seven minutes".

I cannot be the only person to think all this is so irrational as to border on the mad. Less water, dearer power and higher grocery bills -- just to genuflect to the earth gods that seem to have moved into Spring St. One day, of course, the crunch will come. We'll have a real water crisis. We won't have enough power to drive export industries such as our aluminium smelters. We'll price ourselves out of competition with our neighbours. Pray then to the nature gods of John Thwaites, asking them to return our pious favours. Learn then how deaf they are. And how pitiless.


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, July 27, 2006


In a window-clad showroom on a busy downtown corner here, the future of U.S. motoring could be on display. Scattered across the polished linoleum floor of the ZAP auto distributorship are brightly painted "micro-cars" with names like Smart, Xebra and Obvio. All carry two people, get extraordinary mileage and park in spaces not much bigger than a desk.

Steve Schneider, who broke into the auto industry working at a Renault dealership two decades ago, is chief executive of ZAP (Zero Air Pollution), a publicly traded company that imports these pint-size cars into the United States. He's convinced a confluence of events -- soaring gas prices, unrelenting turmoil in the Mideast and increasing fears of global warming -- means Americans are ready for the miniature, environmentally friendly runabouts. It's "an untapped market that is phenomenal," Schneider said.

Indeed, micro-cars, which are generally half the length of a beefy Chevy Tahoe SUV, are ubiquitous in Europe and Asia, where stratospheric gas prices and crowded streets make them highly practical. But among American drivers, with access to relatively cheap gas and a love for brawny vehicles and the open road, the tiny cars have never caught on. That could change soon, experts say. The Smart car, for one, could become a big U.S. seller when its manufacturer, DaimlerChrysler, begins importing it in 2008 at a price expected to be less than $15,000. "It appears there's a significant market for micro-cars," said Philip Reed, consumer editor for the automotive Web site "People are really frustrated with high gas prices."

David Anderson of El Cerrito recently bought a Smart car from a Nevada dealership after seeing one on a trip to Europe. He said the parking, fuel economy and handling make it well worth the $25,000 he paid. "It's (made by Mercedes) so it drives a lot better than we expected," said the law-enforcement retiree. "Everywhere we go, people see it and they just love it."

Anticipating reactions like Anderson's, ZAP brought its first Smart cars into the United States in 2002 and spent $10 million developing ways to modify them to meet U.S. safety and air pollution standards. Like other micro-cars, the Smart car is so compact it can park head-on to a curb and not stick out into traffic. It boasts gas mileage that ranges from 40 to 75 mpg. And to meet safety concerns, it's built with an internal roll cage similar to those found in NASCAR race cars, designed to protect passengers in case of a crash.

ZAP says it sells every Smart car it brings into the country, even at $25,000 each. About 280 have gone to dealers in other states, and another 350 are awaiting safety and emissions modifications for the American market. ZAP said it is currently seeking authorization from California regulators to sell the cars in this state. Within 90 days of exhibiting a U.S.-ready Smart car at a National Automobile Dealers Association show in early 2005, ZAP said it received more than $2.2 billion in purchase orders from dealers around the country. "You would have thought we were passing out $100 bills at our booth," Schneider said of the attention the Smart car drew at the show.

But when ZAP officials met with DaimlerChrysler in March 2005 to explain their marketing strategy and the modifications they're doing for the U.S. market, things turned ugly, according to a suit ZAP filed against DaimlerChrysler last October. According to the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, ZAP announced it would place a purchase order with DaimlerChrysler to bring more than 76,000 Smart cars into the United States. Shortly afterward, according to the suit, DaimlerChrysler officials said publicly they knew nothing about such an order and questioned ZAP's financing, as well as the safety of its modifications -- even though the cars had already passed muster with all federal and most state regulators.

Its credibility questioned, ZAP saw its stock plunge from $5 a share in late 2004 to $1 a share in May 2005, and as low as 25 cents by the end of last year. It has since rebounded to about 70 cents a share. The suit hasn't yet gone to trial, and DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman Bettina Singhartinger declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Last month DaimlerChrysler announced its own plans to sell the Smart car in the United States at a price that could be $10,000 below what ZAP charges. Meanwhile ZAP continues to buy Smart cars through independent brokers in Europe and then modifies them to meet U.S. standards at a plant in Southern California. Despite the high price, ZAP says demand is relentless.

Tom Day, an auto dealer in Scottsdale, Ariz., said he's sold more than 30 Smart cars since March, at about $28,000 each. "I have everyone from teenagers to (rock star) Alice Cooper buying them," he said. His customers like the the car's look and its high gas mileage, which some buyers have told him tops 70 miles to the gallon. He compares the car to the Mini Cooper, a car with such a high "cool"-quotient that it sells briskly despite a price that can exceed $30,000. "People are really excited about the car. They tell me they've been waiting for this kind of car for years," Day said.

Even if its Smart car business is eclipsed by DaimlerChrysler's expected leap into the U.S. market, ZAP has alternatives waiting in the wings. One is the Xebra, a Chinese-built three-wheel electric car, which costs less than $10,000 and has a range of up to 40 miles between charges. Larry Dye, who owns Electric Wheels Inc. in Salem, Oregon, said he's taken delivery of 11 Xebras and sold them all. "A lot of people are buying them as commuter vehicles to get to and from work," he said. One Xebra owner is Dave Johnson of Fultano's Pizza in Cannon Beach, Ore. He said his new three-wheeled Xebra doesn't have enough range to be his primary delivery vehicle, but says its visibility helps promote his business. And he hopes his purchase will encourage the development of electric cars. "I think it's a good cause to get behind," the pizza purveyor said.

ZAP is also preparing to import the Brazilian-made Obvio [above], a flashy 175-hp rocket with Maserati-style doors that open like butterfly wings. Schneider said ZAP could bring Obvios into the market by 2007 and sell them for as little as $14,000. Asked about the Obvio's potential, Scottsdale auto dealer Day replied, "I think it will be one of the hottest-selling cars on the market."

But even as ZAP burrows into the micro-car market, it's facing competition from companies like Honda and Toyota, both of which have introduced small, fuel-efficient cars in recent months. Because they seat four people and are several feet longer than micro-cars, the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris are not quite in the same class as the Smart car or Obvio. David Thomas, an editor with, said the good mileage and slightly bigger size of Honda's and Toyota's subcompacts could lure plenty of customers. But Joel Baker, a futurist and author based in St. Paul, Minn., predicts both kinds of cars can co-exist and even help fertilize the small-car market.


Call Off the Dioxin Dogs

Way back in 1985 the EPA decided it wanted dioxin to be cancer-causing and made it so, labeling it a "probable human carcinogen." Fifteen years later it upped the ante, concluding -- to a round chorus of applause from the media and environmentalist groups -- that the cancer risks for the most exposed people were 10-fold higher than it previously thought. Three years after, it strengthened dioxin's label to "carcinogenic to humans." And last Tuesday ... one big fat fly from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) plopped into the ointment.

Indeed, the recommendations of the NAS's National Research Council (NRC) review of the EPA's latest draft report on dioxin could -- or at least should -- turn the entire cancer-rating system of the EPA (and other agencies) on its head.

Dioxin is created as an unintentional byproduct of certain industries and processes, including burning trash, land application of sewage sludge, coal-fired utilities, and metal smelting. (It was formerly common in trace amounts in herbicides including Agent Orange, widely used in Vietnam.) As a result, we all carry dioxin in our bodies.

Although dubbed "the most dangerous chemical known to man," incredibly this was based entirely on the acute toxicity (poisoning) to a single species of animal -- guinea pigs. In humans incredibly massive doses have never been shown to cause any long-term damage besides severe acne, as was the case with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in 2004.

The cancer accusations didn't come along until much later and now the Veteran's Administration makes "presumptive" payments to Vietnam vets with certain cancers regardless of evidence of exposure to Agent Orange exposure and notwithstanding that an ongoing study re-evaluated every three years of those with by far the highest levels of exposure have indicated no increased risk.

The NRC committee was split on whether the available evidence met all the criteria for classifying dioxin as "carcinogenic to humans" under the new guidelines, but it was unanimous in agreeing that dioxin should at least be considered "likely to be carcinogenic to humans." That would seem to at least justify the EPA's original 1985 decision but doesn't.

That's because while it's long been accepted that for acute toxicity that "the dose makes the poison" the EPA uses as a rule for all potential carcinogens that if exposure to a rat of something at a level of, say, a quart a day for 30 years is cancer-causing then exposure of a hundredth of a gram a day for one week must also be carcinogenic to humans. No matter that FDA doesn't advise against women taking a daily iron pill because if they took 100 daily they would die.

It was this EPA assumption that the National Research Council directly challenged, concluding the "EPA's decision to rely solely on a default linear model lacked adequate scientific support." It said compelling new animal data from the National Toxicology Program -- released after EPA completed its reassessment -- when combined with substantial evidence that dioxin does not damage DNA, is now adequate to justify the use of nonlinear methods for estimating cancer risk at relatively low levels of exposure.

In other words, the EPA can't just choose a formula because it's convenient and serves its political ends. It can't ignore the results of myriad animal and human studies and the determination of how a certain chemical affects human cells in favor of simple mathematics. Nor can it apply that formula because it favors environmentalist groups who make a living by terrifying us into believing that a single molecule of this or that threatens the existence of "peoplekind."

The NRC doesn't go so far as to say the linear model can be sent to the trash compactor. It may have applications in some cases. In fact, the NRC report merely restates conclusions from the EPA's own "Guidelines for Carcinogenic Risk Assessment," issued last year. "Both linear and nonlinear approaches are available," the assessment states and "In some cases, they may be combined in a way that best represents human cancer risk." The problem is in getting the Agency to apply the guidelines it devised.

So where does this leave us regarding both dioxin and other potentially carcinogenic substances? Given the poor evidence for low-dose carcinogenesis of dioxin in humans and that according to the EPA dioxin emissions in the environment have been reduced by 92% since 1987 it would seem time to call off the dioxin dogs. That includes both new government regulations and the environmental groups demanding them.

For every other would-be cancer-causer, we need something besides the knowledge that it kills a certain kind of rat or mouse or hamster when given massive doses. That's just not enough anymore to ban valuable chemicals or to leave tens of millions of Americans in fear that they and their children will sprout tumors like mushrooms because "The Man" wants to stuff his pockets and doesn't care who he sickens or kills in the process.


Global warming didn't cause California scorcher

Don't blame the seemingly endless heat wave just on global warming - this one's the product of a high-pressure system to the east and California's rapidly expanding growth, said Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert. Together, he said, they have combined to push the temperature 12 to 16 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. "Of the 12 degrees, how much is global warming? I would say 1 degree," Patzert said. "The other 11 degrees is meteorology" and lots of new heat-soaking pavement and other developments.

As in most mid-summers, a region of high pressure over Arizona and New Mexico is pulling hot, moist air from the Mexican desert. But this summer, Patzert said, "it's so intense it's actually included us in the pattern. It's kept the marine layer off the coast, what I call Southern California's air conditioner." "We didn't get any May Gray and June Gloom, so we kind of skipped spring," he said.

But what has made these conditions especially unbearable, Patzert said, is the new face of California's landscape, repaved by ever-expanding development. "As soon as you start putting in agriculture, golf courses, especially housing developments, it starts to retain heat. The nights are not cooling. That's why we get warmer and warmer temperatures by mid-afternoon, because we're starting warmer," he said.

Southern California used to be a land of low, dry brush, collectively called chaparral. "The heat that was gained during the day - like if you go out in the desert - was released at night because the land surface was pretty dry," Patzert said. No longer. Over the past century, Southern California's "extreme makeover" has raised downtown Los Angeles temperatures an average of 3degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 7degrees at night. "If it seems like it's hotter at night, it is," Patzert said.

As for the forecast for the rest of the summer, "there is definitely no relief in sight," Patzert said. "As we get into August and September, those are usually our hottest months." And there are different difficulties to come. "As that high pressure shifts up north, that's when we get Santa Anas," he said, "That's when the fire danger goes sky high."


Australian Labor Party self-detonates over nukes

A deep split has opened in the Federal Opposition concerning the proposed scrapping of the party's no new uranium mines policy. A day after Labor leader Kim Beazley declared the long-standing policy should be dropped, two Labor premiers and a member of his own Cabinet openly attacked the backflip. Opposition Environment Minister Anthony Albanese said the move was bad policy and bad politics. "I oppose any watering-down of Labor's anti-uranium policy," he said. Mr Albanese said his position was strongly supported by party affiliates such as the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Miscellaneous Workers Union. "Our existing policy serves us well," he said.

Mr Beazley told the Sydney Institute on Monday night he remained opposed to nuclear energy and uranium enrichment, but the no new mines policy was outdated, especially given Australia was already the third biggest uranium exporter in the world. Yesterday, he said the "vigorous debate" was to be expected.

A planned vote on the policy shift at Labor's national conference in April is looming as a defining moment in Mr Beazley's leadership. A defeat on the conference floor a few months out from the next election, scheduled for the second half of next year, would be a devastating blow for Mr Beazley's electoral prospects.

Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter refused to back the change of direction, fearing it would lead to his state becoming a nuclear waste dump. "The majority of Western Australians support this position," he said. Former WA premier Carmen Lawrence also attacked Mr Beazley's position, although the Opposition Leader received welcome support from the Northern Territory's Chief Minister Clare Martin, Labor's resources spokesman Martin Ferguson and up-and-coming union leader Bill Shorten.

Prime Minister John Howard said Mr Beazley's policy backflip was a "no brainer". "There's never been any justification for discriminating between mines that were already in operation and those that weren't," Mr Howard said. "It was just a political compromise to settle a dispute within the Labor Party about 25 years ago. It made no policy sense and it's got no public rationale."

Greens leader Bob Brown said Australia was at greater risk of becoming a nuclear waste dump.



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, July 26, 2006


Press release below from the Senate Majority Press Office (

Naomi Oreskes, History of Science professor at the University of California at San Diego, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, "Global Warming -- Signed, Sealed and Delivered," set out to defend the validity of her study titled "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (Science Magazine, December 3, 2004). The study purportedly shows a 100% consensus on human caused global warming. In today's op-ed, however, Oreskes failed to acknowledge several key criticisms to her analysis of peer reviewed literature allegedly showing there is 100% scientific consensus that human activity is primarily responsible for warming the planet in the last 50 years.

FACT: Oreskes's study contained major flaws. Oreskes did not inform readers in today's commentary that she admitted to making a search term error that excluded about 11,000 papers -more than 90% of the papers- dealing with climate change. Oreskes also failed to inform readers that, according to one critique of her study, less than 2% of the abstracts she analyzed endorsed what she terms the "consensus view" on human activity and climate change and that some of the studies actually doubted that human activity has caused warming in the last 50 years.

Oreskes originally claimed she analyzed the peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 under the keywords "climate change" and found just 928 articles. It turns out she was not accurate, according to British social scientist Benny Peiser a professor at Liverpool John Moores University.

A search using the terms "climate change" actually turned up almost 12,000 papers that were published during the time frame Oreskes claimed to have researched. In other words, her supposedly comprehensive research excluded about 11,000 papers. Only after Peiser's analysis pointed out this error in her study did Oreskes reportedly admit that her study was not based on the keywords "climate change," but on the far more restrictive phrase "global climate change."

Peiser noted: "These objections were put to Oreskes by science writer David Appell. On 15 December 2004, she admitted that there was indeed a serious mistake in her Science essay. According to Oreskes, her study was not based on the keywords "climate change," but on "global climate change."

Oreskes's 100% "consensus" would potentially be accurate only by excluding well over 90% of the available papers in the time frame she was researching, according to Peiser. Eliminating about 11,000 papers (even if a small portion would not be considered `peer reviewed') in favor of just 928, hardly proves a "consensus." In addition, Peiser found that less than 2% of the studies Oreskes examined supported her "consensus view" and some of the studies actually disagreed with that humans were the chief cause of the past 50 years of climate change.

Peiser also found: ".While the ISI database includes a total of 929 documents for the period in question, it lists only 905 abstracts. It is thus impossible that Oreskes analyzed 928 abstracts." ( "Oreskes entire argument is flawed as the whole ISI data set includes just 13 abstracts (less than 2%) that explicitly endorse what she has called the 'consensus view.'" "In fact, the vast majority of abstracts do not mention anthropogenic climate change. Moreover - and despite attempts to deny this fact - a few abstracts actually doubt the view that human activities are the main driving force of "the observed warming over the last 50 years." (

No "Scientific Consensus"

Furthermore, sixty scientists recently wrote an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Harper calling for a complete review of the science behind climate alarmism. Additionally, recent scientific analyzes dispute the claims of those promoting human-caused catastrophic global warming. The United Nations media hyped "Hockey Stick" was broken in June by a National Academy of Sciences report reaffirming the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age. Finally, just last week, three researchers -- Edward J. Wegman of George Mason University, David W. Scott of Rice University and Yasmin H. Said of Johns Hopkins University, further debunked the "Hockey Stick."


Restrictions have pushed land costs so high that middle class people can no longer afford to live in L.A. so they migrate elsewhere or are forced into poor neighborhoods. And, as always, California is the harbinger of insanities to come elsewhere

A growing body of research shows Los Angeles to be a region of extreme polarization, where rich and poor live in separate neighborhoods, surrounded by others like themselves. Demographers at Wayne State University in Detroit recently found Greater Los Angeles to be the most economically segregated region in the country. The study found only about 28% of its neighborhoods to be middle-class or mixedincome, compared with more than half of those in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Portland, Ore.

More than two-thirds of L.A.-area residents live in neighborhoods that are solidly rich or poor, according to the analysis, which is based on 2000 census data. That share has been steadily growing for three decades, said one of the study's authors, George Galster, a professor of urban affairs at Wayne State. "The situation in L.A. is certainly at the extreme of American cities," Galster said, adding that every one of the 100 metropolitan regions he looked at has grown more economically segregated over the last 30 years.

The trend parallels a well-documented loss of middleincome jobs in the United States over a generation. But the study found that middle-class neighborhoods are disappearing at a much faster rate than the comparable jobs. Researchers attributed the faster pace to a kind of self-sorting. In other words, people are moving out of economically diverse neighborhoods to live in areas dominated by their own income group. Los Angeles leads the trend. "I think that poses real challenges to any society, politically and socially," Galster said. "The fact that our society is moving to a situation where we don't rub shoulders on a daily basis means that, more and more, people's impressions of others will not be formed by personal experience but by images in the media."

The study defined neighborhoods by residential census tracts, and defined middle income as between 80% and 120% of the metropolitan area's median. Los Angeles' spot on the list can be explained, in part, by two factors that create bulges at each end of the economic spectrum: Large numbers of low-skilled immigrants earning low wages and a rarefied club of wealthy entertainment and business moguls. Los Angeles County "has more billionaires than any other part of the country. It's also the capital of the working poor," said Peter Dreier, chairman of the Urban and Environmental Policy Program at Occidental College.

That wasn't always the case. A generation ago, the region was a model for the post-World War II, middle-class lifestyle. High-wage manufacturing jobs were abundant, particularly in the aerospace industry. When the industry collapsed in the early 1990s, many middle-class residents left the region. In the meantime, large numbers of immigrants arrived seeking work. Other changes mirrored national trends, including the development of large, similarly priced housing tracts outside city cores.

Now even the suburbs are growing apart. In a study conducted two years ago, Dreier and three colleagues found an increasing polarization of the rings surrounding U.S. cities. "There are a growing number of wealthy suburbs, a growing number of poverty suburbs and an absolute decline in the number of middle-class suburbs," he said. Los Angeles' suburbs also were among the nation's most extreme. Only suburbs of Phoenix and Palm Beach, Fla., were more polarized, the researchers found. Both reports on geographic polarization were released by the Washington, D.C.,-based Brookings Institution.

Alan Berube, a Brookings urban affairs specialist, said the pulling apart of rich and poor has immediate and tangible effects. For one thing, it can diminish choices and raise prices for everyone. "The retailers in the two neighborhoods are very different," he said. "It's the difference between a Whole Foods and a corner grocer, or Citibank and the local check casher. They're not competing, and in the end, you have higher prices for all basic goods and services." More broadly, Berube maintained, the shrinking of mixed or middle-income neighborhoods limits the ability of low-income residents to move up economically without leaving the region. It can even contribute to civic instability.

More here

Convoluted study finds residential water crisis where none exists

By Dan Walters -- Sacramento Bee and Modesto Bee Columnist

California has no shortage of critical political and public issues -- public education, traffic congestion, housing costs and medical care, to name but a few. Too much green grass isn't one of them, despite the assertions of a new think-tank study. Ellen Hanak, an economist at the Public Policy Institute of California, would have us believe that as population grows, lawns and other residential greenery will consume inordinately high amounts of water. "Do the math," Hanak said in a statement accompanying release of her study. "We're facing the prospect of many more people, with more lawns and gardens, in the state's hottest, driest regions; that adds up to a lot of water."

Hanak's math, framed in complex equations based on assumptions about population growth, housing patterns and water use, works like this: Urban water use in 2000 was about 9 million acre-feet, a fifth of the water devoted to human use in the state, with 6 million acre-feet of that consumed in residential households and perhaps half of the household use outdoors. Bottom line: somewhere between 2.5 million and 3 million acre-feet used to maintain residential greenery each year.

Hanak then expostulates that population growth -- 11 million more Californians over the next quarter- century -- higher-than-average growth in hot and dry inland areas, and the tendency for inland growth to be single-family homes rather than apartments or condominiums will increase demand for outdoor water, but never calculates how much that demand will be in the aggregate other than "a lot of water."

Despite the dearth of quantification, Hanak launches into a series of policy suggestions to curb the demand, clearly intimating that inlanders are water hogs whose thirst needs to be curbed. She disparages the large lots found in inland residential tracts, approvingly cites denser multifamily housing in the coastal areas, and even suggests that California follow Las Vegas' water conservation model.

"A lot of water" is a less than satisfactory basis for policy decisions (at another point Hanak refers to her calculations as "only a guesstimate"), so let's round out the water numbers. Let's assume that the population growth she assumes is accurate, a little less than a one-third increase in 25 years. Let's also assume that over half of that growth is in single-family homes with lawns and gardens in inland areas, a very generous estimate, so that the amount of water needed for lawns and shrubs increases by 40 percent over that period, another generous figure. That would indicate that outdoor water use would increase from 3 million acre-feet a year (still another generous number) to 4.2 million acre-feet.

If the issue is 1.2 million acre-feet a year (and it's probably much less), we should put it into some context other than "a lot of water." All human uses of water in California -- residential, commercial, industrial and, most of all, agricultural -- amount to an estimated 43 million acre-feet a year, a fifth of the estimated 200 million-acre feet that flow through the state. So watering the additional greenery would amount to perhaps one-half of 1 percent of the total.

Here's the supposed problem from another standpoint: During the height of last winter's storms, the Sacramento River alone was carrying two acre-feet of water each second to the sea, or 1.2 million acre-feet each week. Funny how those numbers work out. It illustrates how California's water situation is often distorted by those pushing other agendas, such as discouraging people from living in single-family homes and pushing them into multifamily complexes simply because of some ideological bias against personal property and for communal living. Hanak may not personally hold that bias, but her misleading numbers will be used by those who do.

There's nothing wrong with a family living in a single-family home with a cool green yard and a flower garden; it reflects the legitimate desire of most people to own property they can enjoy as they see fit and build estates for their families. And California doesn't have a water shortage; it has a conflict over how water should be distributed and priced that could be settled quickly were ideological agendas set aside and rational economics applied.



But it's UNESCO research so it must be right

A Sydney conference has heard that climate change led to the fall of the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor. The theory has been presented to an international gathering under the patronage of UNESCO. Sydney University's Roland Fletcher says the famous temples were the medium-size constructions of Angkor. From the 8th century 1,000 square kilometres of rainforest made way for the low density city. "The magnitude of the place is an important factor in how it ultimately collapsed," he said. "It also had a gigantic infrastructure nearly the equivalent of freeways that you get in a modern city except that these are canals and embankments."

Associate Professor Fletcher believes the medieval mini ice age caused climatic instability that lead to water and sediment overwhelming Angkor's delicately balanced infrastructure. "Our field work is leading us to conclude the city was abandoned when destabilised river flows, due to land clearing, and new monsoon patterns, due to climate change, made the site unsustainable," he said in a statement. "As the canals filled with sand, it appears water broke through their embankments, badly damaging this essential infrastructure."

People attending the conference have been able to see a new three dimensional simulation of the city and what the daily life of its citizens was like during its heyday in the 12th century.


Australian Left slowly going nuclear too

Kim Beazley has withdrawn his support for Labor's long-standing ban on new uranium mines in Australia, staking his leadership on a policy of more mining and exports. As part of his efforts to appear decisive, the Labor leader has set out an alternative to John Howard's plans for Australia to become "an energy superpower". The Opposition Leader said last night his change of position was aimed at lifting prosperity but he remained totally opposed to nuclear power in Australia because it was "not in our national interest". In the Sydney Institute speech, Mr Beazley also said he did not believe uranium enrichment would happen in Australia for years -- and not if he became prime minister.

His declaration brings forward the debate on one of Labor's most divisive issues, which threatens to split the ALP conference in April next year, only months before an election. "I believe the real issue is what we do with the uranium we mine -- not how many places we mine it," Mr Beazley said. "I will seek a change to my party's platform to replace the 'no new mines' policy with a new approach based on the strongest safeguards in the world. "Banning new uranium mines would not limit the export of Australian uranium to the world -- it would simply favour incumbent producers."

Mr Beazley's public position was immediately opposed by his frontbench environment spokesman and left-wing factional leader, Anthony Albanese. "I will be opposing this all the way to the national conference next year for all the reasons I have opposed it all along," Mr Albanese told The Australian last night. "I was consulted on this decision, I counselled against it and said I thought it was wrong."

Mr Beazley said Labor's new policy should focus on export controls rather than the mines themselves, because Australia was already the world's second biggest supplier of mined uranium and the expansion of South Australia's Olympic Dam mine would make us the biggest. He is proposing three tests for countries wanting to buy Australian uranium: accept the nuclear non-proliferation treaty; accept the world's strictest safeguards on the peaceful use of uranium; and join Australia's new diplomatic initiative against nuclear proliferation.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell said Mr Beazley had taken 20 years to do a backflip on uranium mining and it highlighted Labor confusion over a comprehensive energy and environment plan. Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said Mr Beazley could not wait months before setting out the policy, but had to do it now. "If this is Mr Beazley's position, then we need to see the policy now and the West Australian and Queensland Labor Governments can act on it," Mr Macfarlane said.

But Labor's resources spokesman, Martin Ferguson, another left-winger, supports the Beazley decision. Australian Workers Union leader and Labor candidate Bill Shorten said yesterday Mr Beazley's change of position showed that the party was serious about winning the next election. Mr Shorten said Mr Beazley's intervention was significant and the policy would be changed at the ALP conference next year. "The policy of no new mines was a 'half-pregnant' policy and people got around it in South Australia by linking any number of mines with a road and calling it one mine," Mr Shorten said. "Kim's calling a spade a spade. The no new mines policy was an economic ball and chain around Labor's leg and doing away with it makes economic sense." Acting South Australian Premier Kevin Foley said the decision was sensible and "will give great confidence to the mining industry in South Australia". Mr Foley said: "We're on the verge of a mining boom, this is a great leadership decision by Kim Beazley supporting that shown by Mike Rann."

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.