Sunday, December 24, 2006


There is an interesting site here that uses publicly available data to calculate the cost of getting electricity from wind power rather than from King Coal etc. It turns out to be about as intelligent a policy as sacrificing your children to a false God. And the calculations do not even include the fact that every wind station built has to have a coal station built to back it up when the wind is not blowing -- thus roughly doubling the capital cost of delivering a given amount of electricity. It's about as rational as Devil worship.

CO2, SCOTUS and alarmism

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently addressing a question of crucial importance to the U.S. economy: Is carbon dioxide, from fossil-fuel burning for energy production a "pollutant" that requires regulation? The petitioners, led by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, demand regulation-interpreting the Clean Air Act differently than the respondent, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. CO2 is non-toxic and naturally present in the atmosphere-but also a greenhouse (GH) gas and therefore a potential cause of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

The oral arguments and scientific amicus curiae briefs, pro and con, never addressed the basic issue: Is CO2 the principal cause of current warming? The plaintiff's amici included two Nobelists in chemistry-although this tactic may backfire when law clerks discover that the two have little demonstrated competence in disciplines relevant to the issue.

Absence of good science is evident in the arcane legal dispute about "standing." To buttress his claim that anthropogenic global warming would injure Massachusetts, its assistant attorney general, James Milkey, invoked sea-level rise and loss of coastal lands, relying on a previous affidavit but suggesting the court not inquire into its merits. Indeed, his opponent, Deputy Solicitor General Gregory Garre, did not challenge him. Yet Mr. Milkey's argument is seriously flawed.

All available data show that global sea levels have risen 400 feet since the peak of the most recent ice age 18,000 years ago. In recent millennia, the rate has been 18 cm (7 inches) per century-and there is good argument for this rate to continue until the next ice age. Tidal gauges around the world show no acceleration during the 20th century but only a steady rise-in spite of strong global warming before 1940.

How can this be? Evidently, the rise expected from melting glaciers and a warmer, expanding ocean is largely offset by loss of water from increased ocean evaporation and consequently more ice accumulation on the Antarctic continent. Hence, a short-lived warm period (lasting decades or even centuries) would not accelerate the ongoing sea-level rise of 18 cm per century. In other words, no harm to Massachusetts from anthropogenic global warming.

This idea, discussed in my book "Hot Talk, Cold Science," seems to be penetrating to more climate scientists. For example, in 1990, the U.N.-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated a "best-value" rise of 66 cm by the year 2100; in 1996, the U.N. panel reported 49 cm (with a range of 13-94 cm); in 2001, the U.N. panel gave 9-88 cm, while the 2007 report estimates a more reasonable range of 14-43 cm. By contrast, the affidavit Mr. Milkey relies on gives 58-and as much as 130 cm. Incidentally, James Hansen, an amicus for the petitioners, claims up to 600 cm by 2100. Evidently, Mr. Hansen-and Al Gore, who listens to him-are climate contrarians.

It is strange that both briefs ignore the only relevant evidence, published in May 2006 by the federal Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). Instead, the petitioners give undue weight to a hurriedly assembled National Academy report of June 2001. They are 90 percent sure that current warming is anthropogenic but don't explain why. By contrast, the federal climate-change program report shows quite clearly that greenhouse models cannot explain the observed patterns of warming. (See esp. Fig. 5.4G here) This disparity leads to the inescapable conclusion that most of the warming is of non-greenhouse origin and therefore part of a natural climate cycle. In other words, models exaggerate the effects of CO2, and even drastic efforts to control emissions are unlikely to affect global climate.

In fact, there is good reason to consider rising CO2 levels a blessing-a thesis supported by published economic studies. Agronomists agree that, as the essential plant food, more CO2 would enhance growth of crops and forests. Longer growing seasons and fewer frosts would benefit agriculture. Further, ocean warming inevitably increases evaporation and therefore precipitation, raising global supplies of fresh water. In addition, most warming would occur mainly at night in winter at high latitudes. Such warming may delay or even cancel the next ice age, expected to follow the present warm interglacial period.

Thus, the drive to regulate CO2-and effectively control energy-appears to be based on ideology rather than science or any real concern about climate. Quoting Lenin: "The establishment of socialism in capitalist nations requires only targeting their supply of energy."



A comment from New Zealand, once known as "Godzone" (God's own country) -- and it has improved since then!

Here's a bit of Christmas cheer. Planet Earth is not, contrary to Nicholas Stern, Al Gore and acolytes, ending in a boil-up. According to a book about to be published in Europe later this month, the world is richer, healthier and environmentally better off than ever before. According to the latest Spectator - which hails the book's author Indur Goklany as an "acclaimed American economist" who served as the US delegate to the United Nations' intergovernmental panel on climate change - The Improving State of the World will provoke "intense controversy".

In this country it will be dismissed as rubbish, especially by those on the extreme left, for whom global warming is a fantastic opportunity to attack wealth and happiness. Climate change is suddenly everyone's New Best Friend, including - Gawd help us - the National Party. Global warming is the new threat we must "battle", according to the Labour Government. Oh, that must mean all those other battles are over - the war on terror, Asian bird flu, Sars, not to mention racism and oppression against minorities.

But back to Goklany's statistics, for which we can be grateful. The world's poor, he reckons, now enjoy the most dramatic rise in their standard of living. And, telling us something many of us already know, as countries have abandoned communism, state control and/or poverty, they have become more environmentally clean and their people more healthy. Here's some statistics: in poor countries, the daily intake of calories per person has increased by 38 per cent since the 1960s to an average of 2666 calories per day, and those countries' populations have increased by 83 per cent in the same period.

There was a 75 per cent decrease in global food prices (in real terms) in the second half of the 20th century, attributable largely to improved agricultural productivity and free trade. In prosperous countries, the price of essential foodstuffs like flour, bacon and potatoes has dropped by a massive 82 to 92 per cent in the past century, and Goklany notes that similar trends are now evident in developing countries.

In the late 1970s, the number of people subsisting on the equivalent of $1 a day was 16 per cent of the world's population; today it's down to 6 per cent. Now only one fifth of the world lives in absolute poverty. Which, of course, is no comfort to those hundreds of millions in places like North Korea and sub-Saharan Africa, starving to death as I write. And while we should not simply shrug our shoulders and pretend these dreadful situations don't exist, it doesn't mean we should be so depressingly despondent and pessimistic.

This book, from the previews I have seen, should be required reading for every New Zealand politician over their Christmas break, as they compete to be the most environmentally sanctimonious, and scramble for votes in the process. You may choose not to believe it, but in 2006 the demand for oil from rich countries actually declined, despite the fact their economies continued to grow.

Climate change, Goklany argues, "might exacerbate existing problems, such as malaria, coastal flooding and habitat loss" but this doesn't justify the "heavy-handed interventionism" advocated in Sir Nicholas Stern's report which trips so easily from the lips of New Zealand MPs at National Radio's microphones. What they fail to mention is that Stern is head of the British Labour Government's Economic Service and was commissioned by Gordon Brown to write his report on climate change. When the report was released, recommending the setting of carbon emissions targets and a credit purchase system for businesses which exceed them, Brown was reportedly furious.

Goklany argues that it may be cheaper to adapt to higher temperatures than try to stop them. New Zealand has just suffered the ideal winter for politicians who want to make us all poorer so they can save the planet. Slips, floods, icebergs - we've seen it all. But was it fair to blame global warming? The icebergs took seven years to reach the Dunedin coast. Old farming codgers remember worse flooding, even in summer. I, for one, was known in our district as the flood baby. Born in February 1953, central Hawke's Bay roads were washed out by rain so a tractor, using a dog chain, towed my mother's car up and over steep farmland to get her to the maternity hospital in time for my birth.

And speaking of babies, Goklany's book says infant mortality is now down to 57 per 1000, vastly improved since the days before industrialisation when at least 200 out of every 1000 children died within 12 months of birth. But will this make us happy? Absolutely not. It's chic, right now, to be uber-environmentalist. Green is the new black. And black is New Zealand's national colour.

The New Zealand Herald

Australia: Greenie water hysteria

Greenies are great at turning a problem into a panic

From the country that brought you KD Lang and little else comes water warrior Maude Barlow. The celebrated thinker is legendary in her native Canada for transforming water shortages into the apocalypse. She's in Australia this week, claiming that Sydney will be reduced to having only drinking water within three to five years. "I want to say to people in Australia you have a limited amount of time before you're going to have to evacuate your country. I mean that," she said.

Well, just because you mean something Maude, it doesn't necessarily make it so. The Sydney Catchment Authority concedes the water shortage is dire, but encourages Australians not to abandon their homes and make tracks for Port Moresby just yet. Official forecasts predict that current supplies would last 4 1/2 years on current usage - and if existing rainfall patterns continued.

Before Maude starts charging like an Alberta steer, this does not mean Sydney will run out of water in 2010. If it doesn't rain between now and then we may have to put the cottage garden on hold, but it's hardly cause for national evacuation. The Sydney Catchment Authority's latest figures - gathered last Thursday -- have the Sydney, Blue Mountains and Illawarra dam systems at 37.1 per cent capacity. That is an historic low, but the authorities insist alternatives like desalination and recycling are still being viewed as a last resort. The SCA has done some calculations on what it would take to restore the dams to 100 per cent capacity. About 70mm of rain every day for five days across the system's 1600sq m catchment area would do the trick, but it's unlikely. The last time the dams were full to the brim was not between the wars, as you might have presumed from Maude's hysterics. It was in 1998.

Now, Maude is undoubtedly an authority on water, but in the face of these raw statistics she's coming off sounding a little shrill. Maude reckons Sydney is on a par with Beijing and Mexico City to be the first major city in the world to run dry. She covers such predictions in her book Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of The World's Water, a copy of which should be in every Christmas stocking. "Blue gold" once referred to office Cabcharges, but that's a different kind of corporate theft.



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 generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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