Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Greenies hate anything that would help meet their alleged goals -- from hydropower (damned DAMS!) to nuclear power to genetically modified organisms. And when people do begin to do what the Greenies demand, they oppose that too. Windmills, for instance, are now condemned for killing birds and blighting the landscape. The real Greenie agenda is to agitate, not to solve anything. It is a religion of self-display, nothing more. Another example of something practical below that they will undoubtedly oppose

If 4 million cars were taken off the road in a single year, stopping 9 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide being discharged, most environmentalists would whoop with joy. But what if the same saving came from planting genetically modified crops?

This is the claim of an annual audit of GM crops by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), which is funded largely by the GM industry.

The audit, published on 18 January, bases its estimate on GM planting in 2005 in the US, Canada and Argentina. Graham Brookes of PG Economics in Dorchester, UK, who supplied the data, says 85 per cent of the savings come from the fact that farmers growing weedkiller-resistant GM crops don't have to plough their fields to get rid of weeds, so organic matter in the soil is not exposed to the atmosphere. This, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, prevents the release of 300 kilograms of CO2 per year per hectare. The rest of the figure is from fuel savings (Agbioforum, vol 9, p 139).

Gundula Azeez of the Soil Association, which represents UK organic farmers, says the ISAAA is only interested in promoting GM crops.



Genetically modified bacteria can produce a biodiesel from plant materials, researchers have shown. The GM bugs could help cut carbon dioxide emissions while also reducing the need to grow crops to make greener fuels, they say. Biodiesel, also known as biologically-derived diesel substitute, can be made from rapeseed (canola), soy and oil palm, by heating it with a chemical catalyst. This type of fuel can help offset greenhouse gas emissions because it is made from organisms that naturally remove CO2 from the atmosphere. However, large areas of land are still needed to cultivate raw materials, and toxic chemicals are also used to process them. The machinery used to harvest the materials also consumes fuel and oil themselves.

"Biodiesel is a good alternative energy source and a substitute for petroleum-based diesel fuel," says Alexander Steinbuechel, who created the new form of biodiesel with colleagues at the University of Munster in Germany. "But the current method of production is still costly."

Steinbuechel's team created a fuel-refining strain of the common bacteria Escherichia coli by modifying it with genes taken from two other bacteria species. The modified E. coli were cultured in a mixture of glucose and the main constituent of olive oil, which it processed into a fatty acid diesel-substitute dubbed "microdiesel". The German team used two genes from the bacterium Zymomonas mobilis to give E. coli the ability to produce alcohol from the sugar. A third gene, taken from the bacterium Acinetobacter baylyi, enabled the E. coli to then combine this alcohol with plant oils to produce microdiesel.

Unlike regular biofuel, microdiesel is produced without toxic chemicals. Steinbuechel says future work could allow microdiesel to be made using plant waste instead of plant oils. As plant waste is regularly generated through food production this would reduce the need to grow crops specifically for biodiesel. "Due to the much lower price of those raw materials, as well as their great abundance, the microdiesel could result in a more widespread production of biofuel at a competitive price in the future", Steinbuechel says.

Microdiesel could also help alleviate demands on land, says Trevor Price, an environmental expert at Glamorgan University in Wales. "Biodiesel is seen by some as the answer to our problems with carbon dioxide and fossil fuels, but its does need a lot of land," he told New Scientist. "Borneo's rainforest is being destroyed for palm oil plantations and other countries may have to choose between food and fuel." However, Price says simply stepping up biodiesel production will not address environmental pollution. "Instead of trying to satisfy our demands for fuel by greener means we should first be trying to reduce them through better efficiency and other measures," he says.


Climate Dead Horse

"Fossil fuels are to blame, world scientists conclude", blare the headlines on USA Today. It's obviously a slow news week, the Iran nukes fail to spark into flame, the Hillary/Biden candidacy is a non-starter, the plunging value of dollar on world markets is ignored (again), and oil prices are falling (again). So why not fan the flames one more time on the global warming hysteria dead horse? This strident moan from government scientists for greater funding and wider powers is deafening, and it obscures the science.

It hurts to admit that I read USA Today, even if infrequently and always for free in a hotel lobby or looking down on a pile of them while waiting in a check out line at the mini-mart, but yes I do. As a devotee of LRC, Mises Institute and a fair amount of mathematical physics, this is tantamount to admission of a paid subscription to the Weekly World News (WWN). The painful truth is that both the McPaper and the WWN reach a wider audience than any of my favorites and that is the rub: allegation, posed as science, repeated uncritically ad nauseum, will be mistaken as science, and accepted as fact when it is not.

Patrick O'Driscoll and Dan Vergano, in USA Today report the finding of the "gold standard" Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents "a real convergence happening here, a consensus that this is a total global no-brainer," says U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, former director of the federal government's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in New Jersey. They go on with another bold quotation from this statist shill, I mean impartial scientist:

Mahlman, who crafted the IPCC language used to define levels of scientific certainty, says the new report will lay the blame at the feet of fossil fuels with "virtual certainty," meaning 99% sure. That's a significant jump from "likely," or 66% sure, in the group's last report in 2001, Mahlman says. His role in this year's effort involved spending two months reviewing the more than 1,600 pages of research that went into the new assessment.

Among the findings, Tebaldi says, is that even if people stopped burning the fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas blamed most for the warm-up, the effects of higher temperatures, including deadlier heat waves, coastal floods, longer droughts, worse wildfires and higher energy bills would not go away in our lifetime. "Most of the carbon dioxide still would just be sitting there, staring at us for the next century," Mahlman says.

Where is the science in this report? The claim that 66% has gone to 99% and is thus certain? The 1,600 pages are all government-funded research with funding allocated to those that already believe in the conclusion else there would have been no funding to begin with. This is a club after all and divergent opinions are not welcome and definitely not funded. The smacks of statistical legerdemain: questionable data followed by a foregone conclusion.

Let's look at some secondary school science. Carbon Dioxide is a basic food for the plant kingdom. The process of photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide into complex carbohydrates using sunlight as the free energy input on which the entire animal kingdom ultimately depends for food. The increase in carbon dioxide is measured in a few parts per million, whereas the oxygen content is almost 20%, a massive differential. Anybody think having more oxygen is a bad idea? Oxygen is the waste product of plant respiration.

We learned (should have anyway) in junior high science that a system which is disturbed from equilibrium will tend to oppose the disturbance over time. This might occur through higher crop yields which will mean more food produced at a lower cost for the world's hungry. Anybody think this is a bad idea?

The earth is near (in astronomical terms) a large fusion reactor we call the sun. One half of the surface of the earth subtends a very small solid angle of the solar sphere absorbing the life giving energy flux (we call this daytime). The amount of energy produced by the sun is immense and what the earth can absorb is tiny. The amount absorbed is proportional to the solid angle subtended of the solar flux. A reasonable estimate is 6 ten-billionths, a very tiny fraction overall. A miniscule variation in solar output would thus have a dramatic change on the earth and its ecosystems.

Solar models are notoriously poor, just like weather models. Why? The models are incomplete, inaccurate, with poor quality input data, with initial and boundary values conditions that are primarily designed to allow model convergence rather than to properly represent physical reality. To get a feel for the true dynamism of the sun you might check the Space Weather site, a quick perusal of its data and links will rapidly convince the skeptical that it is inherently a dynamo and little understood except in the crudest term. The sun actually has no physical boundary but is a gas polytrope so any boundary value condition is a figment of the user's imagination.

Global warming models fundamentally depend upon the rate with which earth radiates waste heat into space with the problem being that the heat is trapped by the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus warming it. The problem with this is that the carbon dioxide molecules have no directionality with respect heat flow, and just as they will keep ground radiation in, they will also keep incident solar radiation out (cooler on cloudy days), that old equilibrium thing again. In the long run, these effects may cancel.

I will spare readers any further diatribe about the bad math, bad modeling, and erroneous conclusions resulting from same. I covered those in a previous LRC article. They are true for these assertions as well. Serious climatologists can send me their models and I will critique and publish my comments on the LRC blog for this article.

I do agree with the data that lately things have been warming up, it's the weather after all and even most children know how unpredictable the weather is. I was raised in Michigan during the sixties and seventies when a return to a little ice age was feared by the scientific community. However, the same people that cannot get weather right for next week, or next year, should not be given free reign as omniscient experts for the future weather indefinitely, that is an obvious paradox.

It does not take a great deal of technical expertise to raise viable and serious objections to the unproven and unprovable assertions of statist scientist and environmentalists alike. The problem is that the unscientific and uncritical mass media accept this tripe as fact. This repetitious braying at the national level condition the populace to accept these assertions as fact which then rapidly turns into legislation which is quickly accompanied by the inevitable legions of bureaucrats, regulators, monitors, and agencies (real threats). These are all funded from the productive economy impoverishing the rest of us, all to save us from the peril of warm weather, and cheaper food.

Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in climatology and environmental science we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:

* Buying a stronger whip.
* Changing riders.
* Saying things like "This is the way we always have ridden this horse."
* Appointing a committee to study the horse.
* Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
* Increasing the standards to qualify as a dead horse rider.
* Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.
* Pass legislation declaring that "This horse is not dead."
* Unilaterally declaring, "No horse is too dead to beat."
* Blaming the horse's parents.
* Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.
* Do a Cost Analysis Study to see if government labs can ride the horse cheaper.
* Declare the horse is "better, faster and cheaper" dead.
* Revise the performance requirements for horses.


High price to pay for avoiding throw-away culture

Our DVD player stopped working the other day. There had been no hint of trouble beforehand. Presumably that part was specially programmed to self-destruct a few months after the warranty period had done its job. Now, this was not one of those $79 players of obscure branding you can pick up at the supermarket these days. This was a well-known Japanese brand, bought from a proper electrical outlet. I'm no overzealous greenie, but I hated the thought of just chucking it out and decided to get it repaired.

I logged on to a website to search for my "nearest" service centre. I found four, all conveniently located about 20 kilometres from my home. I should have stopped and reflected then, but by this time I was on a crusade. Off I set the next Monday, small child in tow. I headed east to one of those mysterious industrial suburbs you never normally visit. I got lost on the way, somehow ending up at the airport, and eventually arrived at my destination an hour after leaving home. I was advised that there was a minimum service fee of $88 and they would call me with a quote for the repair to see if I wanted to proceed.

I waited and waited for my call. On Friday I got fed up and called them. It was clear from the sheepish tone of the clerk that they had not even glanced at my machine. They said they would call "on Monday or Tuesday" with a quote. I said I would liked to be called Monday, thanks. The following week was particularly busy and it was not until late Tuesday that I realised I still had not got my quote. On Wednesday morning I was on the phone and the hapless clerk got the full force of my wrath. I did not swear, but in a particularly heated moment described their service as "pathetic". I'm not sure what they said about me after I hung up, but I'm pretty sure it was not very complimentary. Miraculously, I received my quote within the hour.

My DVD player received its stay of execution and is now back home. It took 10 days and cost the price of two supermarket DVD players to fix, but there is one less DVD player in landfill and I feel very virtuous. Admittedly any environmental benefit has probably been offset by the car emissions produced in my 80-kilometre drive to drop off and pick up. But hey, you can't have everything. More importantly the children are happy, at least until that special part programmed to self-destruct after the repair warranty period does its job. Then you'll see me at the supermarket.



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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1 comment:

Anonymous said...


If the data at these sites is correct, then the we are currently experiencing both temperature and CO2 deficits, and almost as far away from excess as we've ever been.