Friday, December 15, 2006


An email to Benny Peiser from Jack Perrine []

I read with interest and amusement all the comments about trains, cars and planes. Granted I know little about England never having been out of the United States. On the other hand the same problems seem to occur in the United States concerning more efficient / smaller cars to reduce CO2 use.

But much to my amazement hardly anyone suggests changing auto usage as opposed to changing fuels / car sizes to reduce CO2. Granted I think worrying about Global Warming is silly. On the other hand for those who are desparate to reduce CO2 usage I would think zoning changes could reduce CO2 usage more or less instantly and instead of causing great irritation would make lots of people very happy.

In particular change the zoning codes to encourage granny flats. That is most homes in the US have ample space in the back yard for another dwelling that is at present absolutely forbidden by zoning codes. But if there were more granny flats then seniors would quickly find a place that cheap / nice to live in and they could watch the children of the people in the front house. This would instantly get rid of all the extra driving to take small children to day care and then retrieve them at the end of the day. Perhaps, with a bit of planning only one trip for both households would do most of the shopping getting rid of driving.

I would not expect that seniors in granny flats could do all the teaching the schools do. On the other hand I think a great deal of teaching could be done by programs in PCs which are in virtually every household. The problem being getting the students to spend the time with the teaching programs on the PCs. But with seniors in the granny flat the parents could leave their children at home to have a much better education at home than most now get in school. At least I suppose the main problem at present in leaving kids home to study is thinking they would always be elsewhere but with seniors to watch this should not happen so much. And suddenly there is no need for so many school busses, parents driving kids to school and getting them at the end of the day.


They're just big pussycats after all!

Conservation experts say the wild tiger may be headed for extinction. Twenty years ago, there were tens of thousands of these big cats in the wild. Today, there may be fewer than 3,000. One of the biggest threats to wild tigers is poachers, who kill the animals with snares and poisons. Almost every part of a tiger can be sold. But by most accounts, it's the booming black market for traditional Asian medicines, such as tiger-blood wine and powdered tiger bone, that keep the poachers in business. Attempts to close this market by cracking down on poachers and banning products made from tiger parts have failed, especially in China.

Some conservationists say it's time to take a radical step to save the wild tigers: Legalize the sale of tiger bones and organs taken from the carcasses of big cats raised on Chinese tiger farms. "There are roughly 4,000 tigers living on these farms, which means about 300 to 400 tigers die a natural death each year," said Barun Mitra of the free market Liberty Institute in New Dehli, India. "The question is: What do you do with their bones and carcasses?" Mitra wants to flood the traditional medicine market with those bones and carcasses. So do the owners of the 14 registered tiger farms in China. Mitra says prices will fall sharply if it happens. If prices fall far enough, tiger poachers will be undersold. If that happens, they'll stop killing tigers in the wild because they can't make money from it.

Mitra says the profits from the legal sales could help fund beefed-up anti-poaching programs, or nature programs that turn former poachers into park guards in the tiger's range. In other countries, these kinds of programs bring in millions every year. "If even a fraction of that kind of money made its way to rural parts of India and China, you would see a sea change in attitudes" toward the wild tiger, says Mitra.

Mitra is the unofficial spokesman for the plan to save wild tigers by selling bones and organs from the tame ones. Recently, he toured some of China's tiger farms at the invitation of the Chinese government. China has no official position on the plan to open a market for farm-tiger parts, but conservationists and representatives of other governments say it's clear that the Chinese government likes the plan, as do the owners of the tiger farms.

Most of China's tiger farms are open to the public. At the biggest farms, busloads of visitors drive around with big groups of tame tigers following behind. In others, according to Grace Gabriel of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, tourists pay to watch gangs of tigers shred cows dumped out of passing trucks. Gabriel thinks these practices are inhumane and that the parks should be closed. She also worries that a legal trade in farmed tiger parts would lead to increased poaching, since there's no way to certify that a particular container of tiger-blood wine or powdered tiger bone came from a farmed animal. "It could come from wild tigers just as easily," Gabriel says. "It's going to make law enforcement (much) more difficult." Gabriel doesn't think the owners of the tiger parks will agree to funnel any of the profits from these sales into beefed-up anti-poaching programs or into nature programs in the wild tiger's range. And she doesn't think the market-based plan to sell farmed tiger parts makes any economic sense.

That's a point that should be underlined, says economist Richard Damania of the University of Adelaide. He says there's no way a poacher who spends a maximum of $20 to kill a tiger will ever be undersold. Tiger farmers have to feed their animals from birth to death, which can costs thousands. "That gap is so wide that it can never be closed," Damania said, "even if you factor in the cost of hunting down a tiger in the wild." If anything, Damania says, the Mitra plan will lead to increased poaching by attracting a lot of buyers who would never think of purchasing anything on the black market. That would drive up demand, which would in turn drive up prices, he says. The incentive to poach would rise, and more wild tigers would be killed. Damania says wild tigers living inside small preserves could be wiped out by poachers in a matter of years. Tigers living in bigger protected areas might manage to hang on, but not for very long. "This new plan would be a death sentence," for the world's wild tigers, says Damania.

But Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute thinks those wild tigers may already be doomed, so why not gamble with the farming plan? "I cannot understand how such an enormous and valuable economic asset can be left to rot" because of a ban on sales, he said, referring to the tiger carcasses he saw lined up in warehouses at some of the Chinese tiger farms.

One thing everyone involved in this debate agrees on is that poachers aren't the only threat facing the wild tigers of the world. For example, since the 1990s, nearly half of the lands the wild tigers used to live on have been cleared and occupied by people.


The false premise behind climate change

Energized by the latest election results, the global warming community is getting ready for a major push to stop what is referred to as climate change. Claiming that it represents a major threat to our survival, they argue for tough laws to contain the ecological calamity that is allegedly unfolding even as we speak. At the center of their legislative efforts will be Barbara Boxer, the incoming chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. A fierce environmental crusader, Ms. Boxer has already promised `a very long process of extensive hearings.' It is to be hoped that among the many dire scenarios that will undoubtedly be painted, someone asks this simple question: Have you ever wondered how it is possible that coal deposits exist in Alaska?

Given that coal forms from plant matter smoldering in the basins of warm swamps, the Alaskan tundra must have once been overgrown with Amazon-style forests. But for those forests to flourish a hot and humid climate was required, completely unlike the one that prevails there today.

Even though the possibility of such a profound climatic transformation may shock today's environmental activists, it has been commonplace in the course of terrestrial history. In fact, that history is one of a long series of alternating cycles of cold and warmth. When the Earth's climatic past is expressed graphically, the result is an EKG-style curve oscillating between extremes of some 18o Fahrenheit.

In the last several million years there have been a number of glacial periods occurring on average every 70,000 years during which snow blanketed large stretches of the planet. The latest episode was in full swing only some 15,000 years ago and is known as the Wisconsin glaciation in North America. At its height, most of Canada, the Upper Midwest, and New England, as well as parts of Montana and Washington were permanently covered with ice. The grooves left by the glaciers are visible to this day as far south as New York's Central Park.

The Earth's glacial ages were invariably followed by warm interludes, many of which were appreciably warmer than our present era. So much so, that during some periods even Alaska enjoyed a sub-tropical climate and it was during one of those that its coal reserves formed. It was then that dinosaurs roamed the luxuriant forests of the land which was destined to become the frozen tundra of our day. In the light of our planet's well-documented history of climatic oscillation, the claim that any temperature change must be prevented at all costs is as irrational as it is silly.

Inherent in this thinking is the notion that the Earth's s climate should be permanently preserved in its present incarnation. Given that the Earth's weather has never been static, it would be difficult to conceive of a more impracticable project. Any effort to freeze it at the current readings is not only doomed to failure, but wholly at variance with the flow of nature. It is paradoxical that those who normally preach non-interference with the natural order seek to alter its course in such a fundamental way.

Even more curious is the claim that a one degree shift in the average global temperature over a period of a hundred years must be caused by human activity. The argument's fallacy lies in its premise that until the advent of humanity the Earth's temperature had remained unchanged. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Man has existed only during the most recent moments of the Earth's geologic time. If we imagine the whole of its past as one twenty-four hour period, mankind appeared at 11:59:58 PM. In other words, we have been around only during the last two seconds of our planet's cosmic day. Industrialization made its entrance later still - in the final two thousandths of the last second. And yet all during that preceding time, the Earth's atmosphere kept undergoing sweeping shifts as the eras of ice and warmth succeeded one another in a never-ending cycle. The cold-warm pendulum has never kept still with each of its numerous swings reshaping the previously existing weather patterns in radical fashion.

All these upheavals took place without any input or interference by man. Yet today there are some who profess that any measurable climatic alteration must be attributable to mankind's influence as if things had been static until the SUV came along. This surely must be one of the most incongruous claims ever made and we have the testimony of almost five billion years of history to prove it.

The most surprising aspect of the whole controversy is that those who promulgate this idea still enjoy any credibility. That they do shows just how ignorant our society is about the Earth's climatic past. A couple of simple questions, however, should drive home the obvious. Did industrialization set off any of the numerous ice ages and global warmings that have taken place in the past? Did man turn Alaska hot and then made large portions of it disappear under snow again? Did human activity transform the formerly moist and fertile plains of the Sahara into a dry sun-scorched wasteland?

Man did not and could not have done any of this, because all these climatic revolutions had taken place long before he built his first chimney stack. All the evidence of the billions of years of terrestrial history makes it overwhelmingly clear that climatic change is not a man-made phenomenon but is inherent in the very nature of our planet's existence. The Earth's climate is a dynamic, continually changing system which has been experiencing shifts and fluctuations ever since it came into being. Fantasizing about arresting it at its present readings - as some would like to do - is as ill-conceived as it is futile. It is nothing but a doom-fated rebellion against nature itself.



By Professor Mike Jackson

Not since wholesale calamity was predicted as a result of the so-called millennium bug has so much coverage been given to a topic. Miles' worth of column inches are now dedicated to global warming. The predictions by media commentators are becoming more numerous and more strident as each new piece of evidence appears to support their case. They have progressed from possibilities to probabilities and are now becoming certainties.

Global warming is a hypothesis, not fact. And even if temperatures are increasing, that does not necessarily mean it is a result of human activities, nor does it mean that the outcomes will necessarily be overwhelmingly detrimental.

That average temperatures have risen over recent decades - globally and here in the UK - is undeniable. The evidence from records is that the hottest years of the last millennium have probably occurred in the past two decades. However, the years from 1800 to 1900 were particularly cold, so the increase in average temperatures from 1800 to 2005 may not really be as significant as it first appears. Also, the temperatures in the upper parts of the atmosphere (the lower stratosphere) appear to have been falling at a faster rate than those at the earth's surface have been increasing, at least since 1960. In addition, the increase in average temperature over much of the land masses appears to be the result of higher night-time temperatures rather than higher day-time temperatures. This is possibly due to increased cloud cover over those land areas.

Although the actual temperature has been higher during the last two decades than at any time since 1800 (with the exception of a few isolated years during the 1940s) there have been periods when the rate of increase of temperature has been at least as great as now. The periods from about 1860 to 1880 and from about 1910 to 1940 show sharp and consistent increases; whereas the periods from about 1880 to 1910 and from about 1940 to 1955 show the opposite. So, over the last one and a half centuries, the average temperatures have fluctuated periodically.

The further back in time we look for records of atmospheric temperatures, the more uncertain the data become. Clues as to what the weather was like at particular times in history are provided by evidence from tree rings, from core samples of ice and from written material, but these must be read with caution. Accurate scientific records are a recent arrival, relative to the time that has elapsed since the last ice age. From such evidence, however, it would seem that, some two millennia ago, parts of the UK were at least as warm as now. There are reports of the Romans growing grapes and of malaria being present in parts of the south-east of England.

The evidence, which is much more comprehensive than that intimated above, needs to be judged with caution. Most scientists working in this field will liberally use such terms as "may", "perhaps" and "appears" rather than "will", "definitely" and "shows" when discussing the significance of their findings, particularly when this applies to predictions about the future. On the other hand, some politicians, some journalists and some who have a vested interest seem intent on talking up the possible occurrence and the worst consequences of an increase in global temperatures.

Many now believe global warming is already an environmental problem; many more believe that it is in the throes of becoming one. Nevertheless, there are still many who remain to be convinced. Nor is this surprising when the record of environmental catastrophe predictions is examined. Caution applies in all walks of life. The only thing we seem able to say about the future with any degree of confidence is that it is unpredictable.

In 1972, a group of scientists known collectively as the Club of Rome predicted the world was using resources at such a rate that most reserves would be exhausted by the end of the century. The data they used certainly supported their case; what was at fault was their ability to predict the future. Take oil as a prime example. The authors confidently predicted that there were only 550 billion barrels of oil reserves, which would be exhausted before the end of the twentieth century. Some six years into the 21st century, we have known reserves of 1200 billion barrels that could last until the end of this century.

Rather than just being wrong, predictions can cause serious problems. In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote her book Silent Spring, which became the foundation for the case against the use of DDT. The case against DDT went something like this: the evidence that DDT can be harmful was incontrovertible; surveys found residues of DDT in the tissues of animals across the globe; a reduction in some bird populations was detected; the eggs of these birds appear to have thinner than normal shells, leading to a failure in reproduction; this must be due to DDT; the use of DDT must stop.

It is now understood that the decision to ban the use of DDT was a mistake. None of the steps in the argument above is wrong; what was wrong was the prediction that the consequences of the continued use of DDT would be worse than those of discontinuing its use. The replacements were less effective and because the control of mosquitoes was less effective so too was the control of the spread of malaria. Malaria is now once again a major killer, particularly of children. The premature decision to ban the use of DDT led to the illness and deaths of perhaps millions of people in the developing world.

Because of serious air pollution, especially by particulates, there was a fear in the 1950s that (ironically as it now seems) we could be heading for a new ice age. This did not happen. By the 1980s, it was acid rain. The worst-scenario proposition was that we would soon have no life in inland waterways because of the acidification of the water by rain, and that forests would die because of the effect of the acid on the trees. This did occur to a limited extent but the term catastrophe is hardly appropriate.

Another fear at this time was the destruction of the ozone layer. It is difficult to say whether the danger here was overstated because action was swift and relatively painless. CFCs in aerosols were replaced by less damaging alternatives and the problem was superseded by the current problem, namely global warming. Those who castigate the USA for the role it plays - or fails to play - in the global warming debate should note that the USA (together with Canada and Scandinavia) was some two decades ahead of the rest of the world in tackling the problem.

The reason why some people are sceptical about the dangers of an environmental disaster from global warming is that in the past, almost without exception, predictions of such disasters have turned out to be wrong. But what about the argument that the potential for disaster is so great that we cannot afford to take the risk? Following that argument, we should take precautions against the worst possible scenario.

To predict how a small rise in temperature will affect the weather decades or even centuries from now presupposes weather-predicting capabilities that we do not at present possess. At the moment we can be reasonably sure of the weather forecast up to about 24 hours ahead. After that the predictions become much more imprecise and much less reliable. Yet the whole basis of the global warming debate on the "pro" side is that the weather is destined to change throughout the world.

The other aspect of these predictions is that such changes will inevitably be detrimental. Why? In the UK it has been suggested that we could expect a Mediterranean-type climate. It is then suggested that many people will die as a result of the stress of the raised temperatures. The people of the Mediterranean area seem to enjoy a long and happy life so why shouldn't we also? In any case, would not the people dying because of the raised temperatures, if any, be more than offset by the much larger numbers who currently die of the cold each winter?

The same arguments can be made about flooding and starvation. These problems might be manifested in areas that currently have no such problems. Are the people proposing these arguments unaware of the millions who are presently affected in this way in other parts of the world? Maybe those presently suffering people will be better placed in the future and who could say they did not deserve their lucky break?

So should we turn our backs, like Luddites, on so much of modern technology? We are being exhorted to cut out flights abroad. The effect on people doing the flying might be a short-term disappointment but the loss of tourism in those countries that would expect to receive the flyers could be devastating. We are also exhorted to stop buying goods that are transported around the world. Shop locally, we are told. Again, this could be devastating to the economies of many underdeveloped countries to which such income is essential.

We now have the intervention of the noted economist Sir Nicholas Stern. An impressive contribution to the debate, it nevertheless ends up by saying, among other things, that much more work is required from scientists and economists to resolve the uncertainties. In terms of predicting the future, economists probably have a poorer track record than almost any other group.

Should we do nothing for the environment? Certainly not. Conservation of the environment is essential if we are to leave a worthwhile planet for future generations. The halting of deforestation, for instance, is of the utmost importance. We should all economise on the use of resources and energy.

Sir Nicholas Stern advocates the spending of enormous amounts of money to mitigate the worst effects of global warming. But his premise is based on the effects of global warming being so disastrous that almost any price is worth paying to ensure it does not happen. This ignores the fact (not hypothesis) that life is currently awful for a large proportion of the world. Disease, starvation, drought and flooding are realities that many people already live with. If we would invest the sums proposed by Sir Nicholas into, for instance, sub-Saharan Africa, what an effect it would have. The provision of clean, safe water supplies, the elimination of malnutrition, the provision of medicines to prevent childhood death and disease and the provision of education to children who presently receive little or none. Over a few years we could save millions of lives and prevent terrible suffering to many millions more and make communities self-sufficient. Now that would change the world as we know it.

Mike Jackson is emeritus professor of environmental health at the University of Strathclyde and honorary fellow of the faculty of medicine of the University of Edinburgh



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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