Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Willful ignorance in IPCC report (WG2 SPM)

An email below to Benny Peiser from Prof. Aynsley Kellow [], Head of the School of Government, University of Tasmania. Pic below

Thank you for publishing Indur Goklany's insightful critique of the SPM for the WG2 Fourth Assessment Report. I would like to add a couple of comments, if I may be permitted.

I was a referee for Ch 19 in the Report on 'Key Vulnerabilities and Risk Assessment', and made in essence the criticism Indur does that the whole exercise fails to take account of the increases in wealth that give rise to the emissions that drive the climate models, that drive the impact models. It is nonsensical to suggest that vulnerabilities will be as they would be if the projected climates impacted upon present developing countries. The Report persists in this nonsense in the face of at least this reviewer drawing it to their attention, so the persistence is quite willful.

It is, of course, such a fundamental criticism that it virtually renders the whole report invalid, so it was not likely too be well-received. I also added that the chapter exaggerated the hazards of climate change and almost totally ignored any benefits. I put it that the First Order Draft read as if (in a warmer, and therefore wetter, world) no rain would fall in any form that would be in any way useful to anyone: there would be only floods and droughts.

The Second Order Draft included some language to the effect that this was because the Committee had decided that it should be so, to which I responded that they should not then represent their analysis as a risk assessment, since any sensible risk assessment must include benefits as well as costs. I'm not holding my breath for this criticism to be taken on board either, which underscores a fault in the whole peer review process for the IPCC: there is no chance of a Chapter ever being rejected for publication, no mattter how flawed it might be.

But then I'll be counted as one of the 2,500 experts who agree with this nonsense!


By Jeff Jacoby (Jeff seems unaware that the Lindzen article appeared only in overseas and online editions of Newsweek. The magazine's editors were not game to put it in their U.S. edition)

"Why So Gloomy?" asks the headline over Richard Lindzen's guest commentary about global warming in the April 16 issue of Newsweek. The cover of the magazine features a dire warning -- "Save the Planet -- Or Else" -- but Lindzen, a world-class climate scientist who holds an endowed chair in meteoroly at MIT, doesn't buy it.

Yes, he writes, the planet has warmed a bit, and human-generated greenhouse gases may be partly responsible, but that is hardly cause for panic. Alarmism over global warming may be in vogue, but climate change is normal -- "the earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year." The current fearmongering, says Lindzen, "rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week."

Though you'd never know it from Al Gore's movie or the latest National Resources Defense Council press release, most long-range global-warming forecasts rely on computer models that Lindzen describes as "inherently untrustworthy." There is still much about climate dynamics that science cannot explain. One puzzle, for example, is why temperatures climbed for two decades before 1940, yet dropped during the decades of the postwar boom, when carbon-dioxide emissions were so much greater.

But to global-warming True Believers, Lindzen's essay is just one heresy after another. It suggests that "a warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now." That extreme weather events might actually be *less* likely in a warming world. That sea levels have been rising gradually for centuries. That higher levels of CO2 could be a boon to agriculture. And that a warmer planet is preferable to a colder one. ("Exposure to cold," he writes, "is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.")

Lindzen is not the only climate expert to express skepticism about global-warming doomsaying -- not by a long shot. But so pervasive has the alarmist narrative become that anyone who dissents from it can expect to be smeared as a shill for polluters or compared to a Holocaust denier. So perhaps Newsweek was just trying to do Lindzen a favor when it ran this credit line following his piece: "Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the US government. He receives no funding from any energy companies."

The implication is about as subtle as a two-by-four. Apparently Lindzen's scientific and professional credentials aren't sufficient to lend authority to his views; readers must be explicitly reassured that "energy companies" haven't paid him off. Well, if that's what it takes to keep climate-change commentary on the up-and-up, fine. But if scientists who take a non-hysterical approach to global warming are going to be scrutinized for ulterior motives, shouldn't we be just as suspicious about the alarmists? There is no shortage of incentives and inducements, after all, for those who paint global warming as a deadly and growing peril.

To begin with, staggering sums of money are channeled to researchers who emphasize the human role in global warming. The greater the sense of anthropogenic crisis, the greater the flow of research grants to address it. And it isn't only government that ladles out the dollars. Last year, Virgin Atlantic Airways founder Richard Branson pledged $3 billion to fight global warming; more recently he offered another $25 million for the first person who devises a way to annually remove a billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. In 2002, ExxonMobil announced a $100 million grant to establish a Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University for research into "the potential long-term risk of climate change." Last week, yet another pot of cash was established to deal with global warming. Are experts who raise alarms about global warming being unduly influenced by such funding?

What about the lucrative and prestigious prizes global-warming alarmists have received? NASA's James Hansen, a prominent global-warming Cassandra, won a $250,000 Heinz Award in 2001. Last month he was a co-winner of the Dan David Prize and its $1 million purse. Other awards and other purses have frequently gone to other prophets of doom. And the potential rewards don't stop there. For those who toe the politically correct line on global warming, there have been big book contracts, hefty speaking fees, worshipful magazine profiles, softball TV interviews -- even an Academy award. Should that automatically call their objectivity or sincerity into question?

Our global-warming debate is contentious enough as it is. The last thing we need is to be disparaging the integrity of every scientist who takes a strong stand one way or the other. Tempting though it may be to think otherwise, not all true believers are scoundrels -- and not every heretic is a shill.


A New Kyoto?

Even though the current agreement is predicated more on faith than science, European politicians are anxious to create a new Kyoto-style pact. This is predictable, especially since it opens up new rationalizations for taxation and regulation. It also is no surprise that the Europeans want to target the United States while simultaneously creating easier rules for other nations. The EU Observer reports:

EU environment minister Stavros Dimas wants increased European efforts to help kick-start an international post-Kyoto climate deal aimed at limiting the world's greenhouse gas emissions. ...Environment ministers from across the world are widely expected to agree on a mandate to start negotiations to replace the UN Kyoto Protocol - the international plan to fight global warming by limiting CO2 emissions which runs out in 2012 - at a December meeting in Bali, Indonesia, this year. ...

The EU executive is keen to get rapidly growing economies such as Brazil, China and India on the bandwagon for a global deal albeit with a "differentiated" treatment to the already industrialised countries. He explained that from meetings with China and India, it has become very clear that if the world's number one CO2 polluter - the US - would not sign up to the agreement, then neither will they. "We have to focus on the US. We must be both cooperative and critical and give them the arguments in order to press the decision makers," Mr Dimas said.


California's Continuing Self-Inflicted Economic Suicide

Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks writes in the Wall Street Journal about California's attempt to limit greenhouse gas. Assuming this bill is not repealed, this will accelerate California's economic decline. But as Kibbe warns, this gives California politicians an added incentive to impose bad policy on the entire nation:

"Assembly Bill 32, the "California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006," makes California the first state in the nation to broadly limit CO2 emissions. Cosponsored by radical groups like Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council, AB 32 establishes an overall cap on the production of CO2 and a mandatory new reporting system to track emission levels across the state. This law will force California to ramp CO2 production back to 1990 levels by the year 2020. ...

Less allowable carbon means less energy. Less available energy, coupled with higher expected demand, means higher energy prices. Higher energy prices mean a booming market in "carbon offsets" for wealthy movie stars and their patrons and extremely unaffordable energy for the rest of working, commuting California. ...even if one agrees that global warming is occurring and that human activities are the cause, California's unilateral restrictions are counterproductive and will simply force businesses to leave the state. ...

The first real casualty of all the hype surrounding global warming seems to be simple economic common sense. Just a few years ago, in 1997, a Senate resolution sharply criticized proposed CO2 limits under the Kyoto Protocol, calling on then-President Clinton not to sign it or any other international climate change agreement that ". . . would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." The Kyoto Protocol would have compelled the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 7% below 1990 levels by the years 2008 to 2012. Adopting Kyoto-style restrictions would have cost the economy 4.9 million jobs, something Sen. Boxer and 96 of her Senate colleagues apparently found morally, or at least politically, unacceptable.

Unfortunately, with AB 32, California has adopted its own mini Kyoto, so Sen. Boxer, Rep. Pelosi and Rep. Waxman are "all in" at a high-stakes game of tax, cap and trade. This push from the California delegation stands American federalism on its head. Competition and innovation among the states are the driving force behind federalism, but Sen. Boxer and Speaker Pelosi hope to take an extravagantly expensive idea from their state and force it on the rest of us, even as similarly draconian carbon restrictions are failing miserably in Europe.


NOTE: I have fixed some typos in the above article -- but I WAS rather inclined to let "Califonia" stand!


Rising population isn't going to destroy the planet

The BBC's Reith Lectures are not known for their humorous content, but the opening words of the 2007 series had me rocking with laughter. Professor Jeffrey D Sachs [pic above] told his audience that "It is with profound humility that I speak to you". Jeffrey Sachs is a man with many positive attributes, but humility is certainly not one of them. This can be seen in his new book, The End of Poverty, which might well have been subtitled "My plan to save the world". It has an introduction by Bono, which, as one reviewer pointed out, is appropriate: the economist as rock star meets the rock star as economist. Such an alliance must surely have titillated the BBC.

I suppose it will also have been aware of MTV's series The Diary of Angelina Jolie and Dr Jeffrey Sachs in Africa. Alas, Angelina was not among Sachs' audience at the Royal Society, an audience he described (with all humility) as "a unique gathering of leaders of action and thought" - but Geri Halliwell showed up, which was nice. So Professor Sachs is cool.

This is a relatively new phenomenon for the man described by himself as "internationally renowned for his work as an economic advisor to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa". He is indeed renowned for all that, but not, it must be said, universally admired for it. In the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe he and a handful of other Harvard economists introduced so-called "shock therapy", characterised chiefly by instant and massive privatisation and the simultaneous removal of all price controls.

In Russia this was hardly a great success, and not just because of the traumatic consequences in the short term. Sachs insists that Yeltsin, rather than his American advisors, was responsible for the fact that the privatisation policy amounted in practice to the theft by a handful of favoured apparatchiks of the industries previously ran - in its own inimitably corrupt fashion - by the state. The former World Bank economist David Ellerman counters that it was the rapidity of the privatisation which made such an outcome inevitable, declaring that "Only the mixture of American triumphalism and academic arrogance could have produced such a lethal dose of gall."

Not surprisingly, those on the left with long memories are somewhat cynical about Sachs' new plans to solve poverty in Africa, although they warmly endorse his appeal to America to devote more money to international aid and less to international warfare: "I hope he gets what he wants, but that he doesn't get any credit for it", commented David Ellerman, in a somewhat sour jibe at Sachs' elemental ego.

In one respect there is a consistency between Sachs' Russian debacle and what he now demands for Africa. He wanted the US to provide much more in aid to the new Russia, and was openly critical when it failed to come up with the sums he thought necessary. It seems incredible to me that such an intelligent man couldn't see that the same corrupt elites who stole entire industries would appropriate aid dollars with exactly the same attention to detail.

His main academic critic in the US, Professor William Easterly of New York University, is similarly dismissive of Sachs' view that the solution to Africa's problems lies principally in an enormous expansion of aid budgets. Easterly, a former development economist at the World Bank, is the author of The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, cataloguing the corrupt practices which have ensured that almost two-and-a-half trillion dollars of aid have achieved nothing but economic stagnation in Africa.

Sachs' retort is that the aid had been spent in the wrong way - and, of course, he knows the right way. Even supposing that he does, there is still the matter of transmitting the money. Perhaps because Sachs is now a special advisor to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, he proposes that this task be allocated to various UN agencies. These, I take it, would be the same bureaucratic geniuses who managed the Iraq Oil-for-Food Programme.

This is not an argument for ignoring the wretched of the world: Sachs is obviously right that we have a moral duty to do the best that we can, but that will involve learning from those countries which have transformed their prospects over the past quarter century. In Fighting the Diseases of Poverty (International PolicyPress) Indur Goklany points out that, while Sub-Saharan Africa has a higher food supply per capita than it did 25 years ago, its growth in that most basic measurement of individual well-being has been vastly outstripped by China. The world's most populous nation has achieved this by the same means which brought prosperity to the developed world: industrialisation. Aid had nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, however, Professor Sachs seems to subscribe to the fashionable view that this is a bad thing because it is killing the planet. In his first Reith lecture, he denounced something called "The anthropocy, in Beijing, which soon will be the country (sic) that is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet". He linked this to the claim that we - the anthropocy, presumably - are "over-hunting, over-fishing and over-gathering just about anything that grows slowly or moves slowly".

The Malthusian myth is an unconscionable time a-dying. Sachs' first lecture was entitled "Bursting at the seams". Yet humanity has consistently demonstrated that there is no causal link between population growth and increasing poverty. Our numbers are higher than they have ever been - and the average member of our species has never been further from starvation. As Indur Goklany points out, "Since 1950 the global population has increased by 150 per cent, but at the same time the real price of food commodities has declined 75 per cent... average daily food supplies per person in developing countries increased by 38 per cent."

Yet on BBC's Newsnight the same day as Sachs' lecture, the Secretary of State for the Environment, David Miliband, declared that it was impossible for the rest of humanity to aspire to the level of consumption that we currently enjoy: "If the world were to have the same living standards as we have in the UK, then we'd need three planets to support us." In the studio the environment spokesmen of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats nodded sagely.

Possibly Jeffrey Sachs and David Miliband are right that the planet is doomed if we carry on as we are. Yet for 200 years since Thomas Malthus wrote his Essay on the Principle of Population, economists and politicians have continued to make fools of themselves by writing books and delivering lectures prophesying famines and planetary apocalypse, unless we take their advice. It's one way to make a living, I suppose.



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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