Thursday, May 31, 2007

Britain's new Greenie righteousness: Don't drive your kids to school

For the sake of the planet, let them get attacked by pedophiles and other predators. People are pollution, after all

If there is one thing likely to make parents like me send our children to school in a stretch limo, it is sanctimonious lectures about how not walking risks global destruction. It is government-backed Walk to School Week, billed as "a celebration of how walking to school can reduce air pollution and help save the planet". I admit that, when needs must, my wife, rather than the Devil, drives our daughters to the local junior school. Otherwise, I enjoy walking them - often my most strenuous exercise, and our longest uninterrupted chat. I now discover, however, that it is also meant to be my moral duty.

In the leaflet for Walk to School Week given to children, "Strider", a cartoon talking foot, attacks car-produced "evil pollutants" that increase global warming and are "going to destroy your planet". Strider warns children: "Each time you use a car their army gets stronger and stronger." It's war! So, "Come on mum," say the multi-ethnic kids in the pictures, "let's walk to save the world!"

Let us pass over questions about Strider's scientific expertise at this point, since none of this has anything to do with teaching the complex science of climate change. It is about delivering a simplistic moralistic warning of man-made doom to our children - and through them, to us. The Walk to School website even declares that "We want people to see walking to school as a great way to `do your bit' in the same way as recycling your bottles or turning off lights". When did it become the job of schools to help to forge a pseudo Blitz spirit in the Government's "war" on global warming?

Educational crusaders are using alarmist warnings to re-educate our children in how to behave. Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, plans to make geography lessons even more explicit morality tales about man-made global warming, in order to help to "lock in a culture change that could, quite literally, save the world". So messing around with the curriculum or walking to school can avoid an apocalypse? In the name of global warming it seems that we are now expected to believe "quite literally" anything.

This policy of indoctrination, indoctrination, indoctrination risks raising children's "awareness" at the expense of their education. They can end up "aware" that life on Earth is ending but ignorant of where the planet's great rivers begin; less well-schooled in geography than in guilt-tripping their parents.

Campaigners complain that "only" 49 per cent of primary pupils walk to school. By coincidence, a survey suggests that half of 7 to 11-year-olds often lose sleep worrying about the havoc they have heard climate change will wreak. Maybe they are too scared to get out of bed - or just too tired to walk the straight and narrow path with Strider.


Green attack on British football

What did you do on Saturday, the sunny day of the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Chelsea which took place at the rather spectacularly done-up Wembley Stadium? Maybe you were one of 89,826 fans jammy enough to get tickets for the game and to watch it underneath Wembley's new gleaming, cathedral-style arc. Or perhaps you were one of the estimated 500million people who watched it on TV (United and Chelsea's fanbases stretch way beyond the white cliffs of Dover into Europe, Africa and Asia). Maybe, like thousands of others, you watched the game over a pint in a local pub. Or perhaps you don't very much care for football and did something completely unrelated instead: shopping, sleeping, sunbathing.

Or.were you one of a small handful of miserabilist windbags who spent the day pointing out how destructive the FA Cup Final is likely to be for the environment? We should have seen it coming. A few hours before the Cup Final kicked off, it was reported that the event would make an `eco-footprint' 3,000 times the size of the Wembley pitch. Academics totted up the number of pies and other unsavoury savoury products the Wembley-attending fans were likely to consume (the fat bastards) and the number of miles they were likely to drive, and worked out that each fan's `eco-footprint' would be nearly 10 times what it would have been if he or she had watched the game from home.

What curmudgeonliness. The anti-FA Cup miserabilism provided a striking (if somewhat unwitting) snapshot of the inherently elitist streak in the politics of environmentalism. Where millions of people around the world were glued to watching a major annual event in that most mass of mass sports, football, certain green-minded individuals seized an opportunity to lecture and hector the nation about its dirty habits. It was the political equivalent of a dirty tackle from behind. It's high time we showed these greens the red card.

Claims that the first FA Cup Final to be played at Wembley in seven years would make a damaging dent in the natural environment emanated from academics at Cardiff University. I know - you would think that a university has better things to do than put the dampers on a big sporting event. And Cardiff? Maybe they're bitter that Wembley has re-assumed its rightful place as Britain's big national stadium, thus kicking Cardiff's Millennium Stadium into touch. According to the Guardian, Cardiff University found that `the average fan's taste for beer and pies makes up a large chunk of the ecological impact [of the FA Cup Final in Wembley]'. Cardiff's Andrea Collins said, `They are highly processed food and drink products which require a lot of energy to produce' (1). She also said that a lot of waste would be `generated outside [Wembley] stadium', especially by fans driving their cars or using up some other breed of `transport miles' (2).

Cardiff's claims were based on a study it carried out of the FA Cup Final of 2004 when Manchester United played Millwall at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium. Back then researchers found that before, during and after the game Man Utd and Millwall fans ate 37,624 sausage rolls, pies or pasties, 26,965 sandwiches, 17,998 hot dogs, 12,780 burgers, 11,502 packets of crisps and 23,909 portions of chips. They rinsed it all down with 303,001 pints of lager, 66,584 pints of beer, 38,906 pints of cider, 12,452 bottles of wine, 90,481 shots and 63,141 bottles of alcopops. This `binge' left a mark on Cardiff city centre: 37 tonnes of glass, eight tonnes of paper and 11 tonnes of uneaten food were left behind, and none of it was recycled! Can you believe it? Football fans watched a game and then went out to celebrate/commiserate over grub and booze and they didn't even take their rubbish home with them to deposit it in their recycling compost machines (3).

During the 2004 Cup Final, fans' use of transport contributed the largest part of the `eco-footprint'. The researchers found that fans travelled an average of 367 miles each (well, if you are going to hold an English Cup Final in Wales.), 47 per cent of them by car, 34 per cent by rail and the rest in coaches or minibuses. Apparently, all this travelling made an `eco-footprint' that measured 1,670 `global hectares' - though quite how you get from miles travelled by football fans to a footprint measured in hectares is anyone's guess (4). Extrapolating from these 2004 findings, the Cardiff boffins now say that Saturday's final at Wembley will have caused an `eco-footprint' 3,000 times the size of the Wembley pitch. Got that? A study of what fans ate and drank during an FA Cup Final in 2004 can throw light on the amount of land (the eco-footprint) required to provide the necessary resources to replenish those used up by fans at an FA Cup Final in 2007. And they say that those who question the green ethos use dodgy science..

Having colonised the educational sphere and the political sphere, the rapacious green ethos is now spreading into the world of leisure. Even that previously purely emotional sphere of football fandom is being subordinated to the demands of the green priests. Last year's World Cup was similarly measured in terms of its ecological impact. The German authorities claimed that the event would emit 100,000 tonnes of CO2, which they tried to offset by investing $1.5billion in environmental protection projects in Africa and Asia. They also `educated' fans attending World Cup games by issuing them with green advice leaflets, making them drink from recyclable and refillable beer cups, and serving hotdogs without any packaging (5). In Britain, the Football Association has set itself the task of making football `carbon-neutral' (6).

Behind the claims that big cup finals are destroying the environment there lurks an old-fashioned fear and loathing of football fans, of their cavalier attitudes and their potentially destructive and violent impact. Old concerns about large gatherings of working-class men (and some women) are now swaddled in PC environmentalist lingo. Where thousands of fans were traditionally seen as a heaving riot waiting to happen (and sometimes still are), now many see them as toxic waste-creators; where fans used to be looked upon as a threat to public order, now they are described as a threat to the natural order. You can see the fear of the masses in those scary-sounding numbers of how many pints they drink and portions of chips they eat: they are not seen as individuals coming together to cheer their team, but as an out-of-control mass, an intolerable blob, eating tonnes of food, drinking tonnes of booze and leaving behind tonnes of shit.

The anti-fan component to the greening of football is clear in the solution put forward: to change mass behaviour. David James, until recently the England team goalkeeper and a leading light in the football world's efforts to make the game more planet-friendly, says the real problem is `habit and tradition': `Football is pure bloke territory: it's still acceptable to spit out gum and chuck bottles on the floor, and the industry mirrors this selfishness across the scale.' James says the football authorities must re-educate people and reshape their `attitudes' - that is, effectively de-bloke them. `We've got to make use of football as a driving force for environmental change. We'd be stupid not to. It doesn't take a think tank to see that the game holds a powerful influence over kids and adults around the world.' (7) In short, the authorities should exploit football to change the way fans think and behave. Even the old fan-hating law'n'order lobby never tried that - they might have whacked fans across the head, but they didn't try to change what was inside their heads.

It takes a killjoy of the highest order to hector football fans for not thinking about the consequences of their behaviour while they're watching a game. Like Catholic priests of old, the greens demand that we stop and think before doing anything potentially `destructive' or `immoral'. They seem not to understand that there are moments in life when we simply lose ourselves in passion or fury and throw `good sense' and `good behaviour' to the wind. No self-respecting football fan is going to think about recycling a hotdog napkin when his team is 1-0 down and there are only five minutes left; no fan whose team has just won the FA Cup is going to collect together all his beer bottles as he drinks himself silly and put them in a bottle bank on the way home. Life, love, football: they just don't work like that. And if you can't see why, then maybe you'd be better off watching bowls.


Coal to motor fuel push undermines the Greenies

Hardly unexpected though. There is no such thing as a happy Greenie. NO alternative would suit them. Even windfarms are out of favour now that a lot of them have actually been built

Even as Congressional leaders draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gases linked to global warming, a powerful roster of Democrats and Republicans is pushing to subsidize coal as the king of alternative fuels. Prodded by intense lobbying from the coal industry, lawmakers from coal states are proposing that taxpayers guarantee billions of dollars in construction loans for coal-to-liquid production plants, guarantee minimum prices for the new fuel, and guarantee big government purchases for the next 25 years.

With both House and Senate Democrats hoping to pass "energy independence" bills by mid-July, coal supporters argue that coal-based fuels are more American than gasoline and potentially greener than ethanol. "For so many, filthy coal is a dirty four-letter word," said Representative Nick V. Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. "These individuals, I tell you, have their heads buried in the sand."

Environmental groups are adamantly opposed, warning that coal-based diesel fuels would at best do little to slow global warming and at worst would produce almost twice as much of the greenhouse gases tied to global warming as petroleum.

Coal companies are hardly alone in asking taxpayers to underwrite alternative fuels in the name of energy independence and reduced global warming. But the scale of proposed subsidies for coal could exceed those for any alternative fuel, including corn-based ethanol. Among the proposed inducements winding through House and Senate committees: loan guarantees for six to 10 major coal-to-liquid plants, each likely to cost at least $3 billion; a tax credit of 51 cents for every gallon of coal-based fuel sold through 2020; automatic subsidies if oil prices drop below $40 a barrel; and permission for the Air Force to sign 25-year contracts for almost a billion gallons a year of coal-based jet fuel.

Coal companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying on the issue, and have marshaled allies in organized labor, the Air Force and fuel-burning industries like the airlines. Peabody Energy, the world's biggest coal company, urged in a recent advertising campaign that people "imagine a world where our country runs on energy from Middle America instead of the Middle East." Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat whose district is dominated by coal mining, is writing key sections of the House energy bill. In the Senate, champions of coal-to-liquid fuels include Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Larry Craig of Wyoming, both Republicans.

President Bush has not weighed in on specific incentives, but he has often stressed the importance of coal as an alternative to foreign oil. In calling for a 20 percent cut in projected gasoline consumption by 2017, he has carefully referred to the need for "alternative" fuels rather than "renewable" fuels. Administration officials say that was specifically to make room for coal.

The political momentum to subsidize coal fuels is in odd juxtaposition to simultaneous efforts by Democrats to draft global-warming bills that would place new restrictions on coal-fired electric power plants. The move reflects a tension, which many lawmakers gloss over, between slowing global warming and reducing dependence on foreign oil. Many analysts say the huge coal reserves of the United States could indeed provide a substitute for foreign oil.

The technology to convert coal into liquid fuel is well-established, and the fuel can be used in conventional diesel cars and trucks, as well as jet engines, boats and ships. Industry executives contend that the fuels can compete against gasoline if oil prices are about $50 a barrel or higher. But coal-to-liquid fuels produce almost twice the volume of greenhouse gases as ordinary diesel. In addition to the carbon dioxide emitted while using the fuel, the production process creates almost a ton of carbon dioxide for every barrel of liquid fuel.

Coal industry executives insist their fuel can actually be cleaner than oil, because they would capture the gas produced as the liquid fuel is being made and store it underground. Some could be injected into oil fields to push oil to the surface. Several aspiring coal-to-liquid companies say that they would reduce greenhouse emissions even further by using renewable fuels for part of the process. But none of that has been done at commercial volumes, and many analysts say the economic issues are far from settled. "There are many uncertainties," said James T. Bartis, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, who testified last week before the Senate Energy Committee. "We don't even know what the costs are yet."


The Greenhousers Strike Back and Out


I began this series of critiques of the greenhouse fearmongers with an evocation of the papal indulgences of the Middle Ages as precursors of the "carbon credits"-ready relief for carbon sinners, burdened, because all humans exhale carbon, with original sin. In the Middle Ages they burned heretics, and after reading through the hefty pile of abusive comments and supposed refutations of my initial article on global warming I'm fairly sure that the critics would be only to happy to cash in whatever carbon credits they have and torch me without further ado.

The greenhouse fearmongers explode at the first critical word, and have contrived a series of primitive rhetorical pandybats which they flourish in retaliation. Those who disagree with their claim that anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of the small, measured increase in the average earth's surface temperature, are stigmatized as "denialists," a charge which scurrilously combines an acoustic intimation of nihilism with a suggested affinity to those who insist the Holocaust never took place.

The greenhousers endlessly propose that the consensus of "scientists" on anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming. By scientists they actually mean computer modelers. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and their computer-modeling coterie include very few real climatologists or atmospheric physicists. Among qualified climatologists, meteorologists and atmospheric physicists, there are plenty who do not accept the greenhousers' propositions. Many others have been intimidated into silence by the pressures of grants, tenure and kindred academic garottes.

Peer review, heavily overworked in the rebuttals I have been reading, is actually a topic on which the greenhousers would do well to keep their mouths shut, since, as the University of Virginia's Pat Michaels has shown, the most notorious sentence in the IPCC's 1996 report ("The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate") was inserted at the last minute by a small faction on the IPCC panel after the scientific peer-review process was complete. Here's how Dr Fred Goldberg describes the probable culprit, Professor Bert Bolin, a politically driven Swede who was the first chairman of the IPCC, from 1988 to 1998. Goldberg's very interesting paper is entitled, "Has Bert Bolin fooled us all concerned climate change caused by humans?":

""In 1995 IPCC presented its second report: The Science of Climate Change". In this report a large number of researchers work through hundreds of scientific reports and delivers a comprehensive report where they conclude that there is no evidence that human beings have had an influence on the climate. This conclusion is of course very important for politicians and policymakers around the world. But what happened? The editor of the IPCC -report then deleted or changed the text in 15 different sections of chapter 8 (The key chapter concerning whether human influence exists or not) which had been agreed upon by the panel of contributors involved in compiling the document. In practice politicians and policymakers only read the so-called Executive Summary for Policy Makers. In this document consisting of a few pages it is clearly stated that humans have influenced the climate, contrary to the conclusions of the scientific report.

"Professor Fredrik Seitz, former chairman of the American Science Academy, wrote in the Wall Street Journal already the 12th of June 1996 about a major deception on global warming: "I have never before witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report." He gave many examples of changes and redefinitions and finished by demanding that the IPCC process should be abandoned.

"Had somebody subordinate to Bert Bolin within IPCC made these changes it is reasonable to think that Bert Bolin himself would correct the errors. That he has not done is why I draw the conclusion that it must be Bert Bolin himself who is responsible for the changes and no subordinate person has dared interfere with his boss."

I should acknowledge one imprecision in my description of Dr. Martin Hertzberg's graph in my first column-"the smoothly rising curve of CO2"-that prompted several intemperate responses, charging that I couldn't possibly expect CO2 or carbon levels to drop just because of a one-third cut in manmade CO2. Indeed, I should have written "one could not even see a 1 part per million bump in the smoothly rising curve." Even though such transitory influences as day and night or seasonal variations in photosynthesis cause clearly visible swings in the curve, the 30 percent drop between 1929 and 1932 caused not a ripple. Empirical scientific evidence that the human contribution is in fact less than a fart in a hurricane, as Dr. Hertzberg says.

As for the alleged irrefutable evidence that people caused the last century's CO2 increase, the "smoking gun" invoked by one of my critics, Dr. Michael Mann, and his fellow fearmongers at, the claim is based on the idea that the normal ratio of heavy to light carbon-that is, the Carbon-13 isotope to the lighter Carbon-12 isotope, is roughly 1 to 90 in the atmosphere, but in plants there's a 2 percent lower C13/C12 ratio. So, observing that C13 in the atmosphere has been declining steadily though very slightly since 1850, they claim that this is due to man's burning of fossil fuels, which are generally believed to be derived from fossilized plant matter. On the naive and scientifically silly assumption that the only way that plant-based carbon can get into the atmosphere is by people burning fuels, they exult that here indeed is the smoking gun: decreases of C13 in the atmosphere mean that our sinful combustions are clearly identifiable as major contributors to the 100 ppm increase in CO2 since 1850.

This is misguided, simply because less than a thousandth of the plant-based carbon on earth is bound up in fossil fuel. The rest of the huge remaining tonnages of plant-based carbon are diffused through the oceans, the forests, the grasslands and the soil. In other words, everywhere. Obviously, lots of this C13-deficient carbon has the opportunity to oxidize into CO2 by paths other than people burning fuel, i.e., the huge amount of plant material that's naturally eaten or decayed by the biosphere.

Perhaps even more significantly, cold ocean waters absorb lightweight C12 preferentially, resulting in lots of C13-deficient carbon in the oceans. This low-C13 carbon most certainly would have been released massively into the atmosphere over the course of the world's warming trend since 1850, when the Little Ice Age ended. All of these larger natural pathways for emitting low-C13 carbon into the atmosphere have been considerably accelerated by this same warming trend. So once again, the greenhousers have got it ass-backward. The 100 ppm increase in CO2 can't be uniquely attributed to humans because at least as plausibly it could be the effect, not the cause, of the warming that started after the Little Ice Age denied by Dr. Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann.

I had promised that this third column would pose the question "Are things really so bad," a theme I will take up in this series, along with a continuation of these rebuttals. Originally I had hoped to deal with criticisms at the end of the series. I have changed my plans since committed greenhousers like George Monbiot (honorary chairman of the King Canute Action Committee, committed to beating back non-existent anthropogenic global warming by tactics which would have zero impact anyway) that I have ignored their rebukes. In actual fact I was offline, in Russia, flying thither over the Arctic and thus able to make a direct review of the ice cap. So wait a couple of weeks for my next column before you critics let fly again. Coming up: how greenhouser theologians deal with the global water cycle and the highly embarrassing and persistent lag between temperature and subsequent atmospheric CO2 change. After that, I'll offer a real treat: the nightmare visions of the greenhousers and how many of their quavering predictions have fallen under the implacable guillotine blade of reality.



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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007


An email from Michael Martin-Smith []

Last year I made, slightly tongue in cheek, the suggestion in an open letter to Ha'aretz that the confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme could be defused by offering to help that country develop reactors powered by Thorium rather than Uranium 235. I even proposed, that if Iran herself were to undertake the R&D as a nationalistic programme, the Iranians would not only achieve their nuclear ambitions, but also would win a technological/ commercial lead which they could legitimately exploit in the global economy. Furthermore, since a Thorium reactor would produce much lower levels of waste than present day reactors, and no Uranium or Plutonium, Iran would, by going down this path, achieve nuclear power generation without having to constantly deny an intention or even possibility of manufacturing nuclear weapons at all! Israeli leaders could give their Air Force Commanders a well earned break, and ease their fingers twitching, as they now are, nervously over their little red buttons.

Also, with much lower intensity of its nuclear wastes, the idea of a "dirty" terrorist bomb would be essentially nullified, since evidence is that low levels of waste do NOT justify the expensive and disruptive contamination exercise as carried out at Chernobyl, and which would be the principal aim of the putative terrorists of Al Qa'eda et al. In our radiation phobic culture, the frenzied reaction to such a "weapon" would be far more destructive of lives and welfare than an attitude of benign comparative neglect followed by regular medical checks; no I131, no carcinoma of thyroid, should simplify matters.Follow up studies at and near Chernobyl after 20 years suggest that such an approach would have worked as well as all the dislocation; with a Thorium based reactor,or an attempted terrorist "dirty bomb" based on Thorium generated wastes, this would be true a fortiori. A good response to terrorists is to refuse to be terrorised?

Come back, Terry Thomas and David Niven - such divine nonchalance would be a tonic to us all... I was delighted to learn in another recent article that within two-three years, scientists at Imperial College in London, together with counterparts in the USA, are to further investigate and develop the potential for Thorium based reactors.

Recent work at the Technion Institute in Israel, with collaboration at Russia's Kurchatov Institute, on the safe and economic glassification of low level wastes suggest that by 2010 or so , we may have at last learned how to "close the loop" in safe nuclear power generation - safer production, no risk of terrorism/proliferation, and safe disposal of fewer and less radioactive wastes.

Thorium, I understand, is actually more plentiful for miners than is Uranium, and would bring India (a major site of deposits) a considerable boon in economic development. An opportunity to save Iran's face, and avert the looming confrontation with its nuclear ambitions, bring wealth and development to a still struggling India, free us from Mid East oil, combat carbon dioxide emissions without penury or hyper-regulation, and buy time for Helium 3 based nuclear fusion and advanced space based solar power over the next 50 years or so? Such an opportunity is rare indeed; too good to be true? - I suspect not. But too good to be taken up - very likely!!


The environmental movement began as a protest against Western culture's alienation from nature. This alienation was said to have its roots in the Judeo-Christian heritage that sets man apart as a special creation above the natural kingdom (see Genesis 1:28, 29). Environmentalism advanced the antithesis that puts an all-wise Mother Nature on a pedestal above the human race. The natural is lauded and, to quote an old one-liner, "only man is vile."

There is a very pervasive anti-human bias in environmentalism, and it is expressed in a bias against human technology, economic growth and human prosperity. Global warming theory is popular because it is just another big stick to beat up on human activity. Human activity cops the blame for everything from the disappearing green tree frogs to almost any natural disaster.

It is as if Augustine's old doctrine of original sin has come back to haunt us again. It was a doctrine that said every single calamity on the earth, including the disaster of death itself, was all man's fault - or was it woman's fault? Anyhow, in this present orgy of human blaming, eagerly supported by media sensationalism, the alienation of man from nature has become worse than what it was before environmentalism tried to correct it.

I want to propose that we look at our human relationship to nature in a new way. This will be like putting on a whole new pair of glasses that puts biotechnology and every other kind of human technology in a much more positive light. I propose that we recognize that the same natural evolutionary process that brought bees, birds and mammals into existence, has also brought Homo sapiens into existence.

By saying this I am not trying to empty this emergence of everything of its awe and wonder. I am just pointing out the scientific reality that humankind emerged through the same natural processes as every other living thing. This means that the human species is nature too. If every other form of life made up of living cells with genes and DNA is what we call nature, then Homo sapiens, whose genes are 98.7% the same as the chimpanzee, is also nature.

When ants accomplish an amazing feat of technology in constructing a termite's nest, or elephants make water holes with their feet, or beavers construct a dam across a stream, we call that nature. On what basis can we then say that human technology is man-made rather than natural? This is philosophical and scientific nonsense, yet we keep repeating this nonsense like the slogan of the pigs in Animal Farm, "Four legs good, two legs bad" - as if what is done by a creature with four legs, six legs or no legs is natural and must be good for the environment, whereas what is done by a creature with two legs is man-made and must be bad for the environment.

If human intelligence evolved through the same natural process that produced a fox's cunning and a beaver's dexterity, then all human intelligence is natural and all human technology is natural. I am not saying it is necessarily good, but it's undeniably as natural as the technology of a bee hive, the weaving of a spider's web or the navigational equipment of migratory birds.

In human consciousness nature has finally become conscious of itself. "We may think of ourselves," says the great mythologist Joseph Campbell, "as the functioning ears and eyes and mind of this earth." Heretofore nature could only act in a random order of hit and miss. As such, nature has often been wasteful and prone to structural flaws, as the ABC science reporter, Robyn Williams, has made all too clear in his recent satire, Unintelligent Design. But now Mother Nature has acquired in this human mind what Julian Simon has called "the ultimate resource," and a power that the brilliant Princeton physicist, Freeman Dyson, has described as being "infinite in all directions."

"Nature has structural flaws and physical limitations" writes Greg Easterbrook (A Moment on the Earth) "Genus Homo may be able to change that. People may be here because nature needs us - perhaps needs us desperately...There is no reason in principle why nature ought to oppose the arrival of the high-speed analytical powers of the mind. Nature may have been dreaming of these very powers for 3.8 billion years." (pp.668-669).

This is why the late physicist Heinz Pagel could write in Dreams of Reason that it is high time that we discard "the radical distinction between mind and nature." This includes, of course, the distinction between natural and man-made.

Full paper here

Blue Skies, High Anxiety

Our air is cleaner than it's been in a century, writes Joel Schwartz. So why do Americans worry it's so dirty and dangerous?

Americans are driving more miles, using more energy, and producing more goods and services than ever. But at the same time, the air quality in America’s cities is better than it has been in more than a century—despite the fact that the U.S. population has almost quadrupled and real GDP has risen by a factor of nearly thirty. But Americans aren’t aware of this good news—or don’t believe it. Polls show the public thinks that air pollution has been steady or even rising over the last few decades, that it will worsen in the future, and that it is still a serious threat to people’s health. They are convinced that pollution is a serious problem throughout the country, that it is a major cause of asthma and other respiratory diseases, and that it shortens the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Much of what Americans think they know about air pollution is false. Through exaggeration and sometimes even outright fabrication, the main purveyors of the story—journalists, government regulators, environmentalists, and even health scientists—have created public fear out of all proportion to the actual risks.

Air pollution has been declining for decades across the United States. The chart below tells the story. Between 1980 and 2005, average levels of air pollution fell between 20 percent and 96 percent, depending on the pollutant. For example, sulfur dioxide, which results mainly from the burning of coal and the smelting of some metals, is down 63 percent, while carbon monoxide, the vast majority of which comes from automobiles, is down 74 percent. At the same time, coal usage increased more than 60 percent and miles of driving nearly doubled.

Virtually the entire nation now meets federal standards for sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead. The country is also near full compliance for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s older standards for ozone (the “one-hour” standard) and particulate matter (the “PM10” standard for airborne particulate matter less than ten micrometers in diameter).

Compliance has also greatly improved for the more stringent ozone and PM standards the EPA adopted in 1997. In 1980, about 75 percent of the nation’s ozone monitors violated the eight-hour ozone standard, but the rate was down to 18 percent at the end of 2005. About 90 percent of the nation violated the fine particulate matter (PM2.5, or airborne PM under 2.5 micrometers in diameter) standard in 1980, but the proportion had dropped to 16 percent by the end of 2005.

Much of what Americans think they know about air pollution is false. Journalists, government regulators, environmentalists, and even health scientists have created public fear out of all proportion to the actual risks.

Air pollution will continue to decline. The EPA tightened automobile emission standards in 1994, 2001, and 2004. The last of those rules requires reductions that will cut automobile emissions (including those from SUVs and pickups) by 90 percent below the emissions of the current average car. Even after accounting for expected increases in total miles of driving, the net effect will be a reduction of more than 80 percent in total automobile pollution emissions over the next couple of decades. Emissions from on- and off-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles will follow a similar trajectory as 90 percent reduction requirements come into effect for these vehicles in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Industrial emissions will also continue to fall under the EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule, which will eliminate most remaining power plant pollution.

Despite the nation’s spectacular progress, polls show that most Americans think air pollution has stayed the same or even increased, and will worsen in the future. Typical is a 2004 poll by the Foundation for Clean Air Progress, which found that only 29 percent of respondents believed that “America’s air quality is better than…it was in 1970.” Some 38 percent said it was worse, and 31 percent said it was about the same. In fact, by any measurement, air quality is enormously improved.

Nevertheless, it’s hardly surprising that Americans are pessimistic about air pollution, since much of the information they receive is at odds with reality. Here are a few examples of the distortions:

  • In November 2001, the Sierra Club reported, “Smog is out of control in almost all of our major cities.” Those words were published just after the nation had achieved two record-low years in a row for both ozone and PM2.5. In 2002, near the end of a fourth consecutive record-low year for PM2.5, the Public Interest Research Group published “Darkening Skies,” which claimed PM2.5 was increasing. Although the number of days exceeding the eight-hour ozone standard declined more than 70 percent between 1973 and 2003, The Washington Post nevertheless lamented early in 2004 that “ozone pollution has declined slightly over the past 30 years” (emphasis added). Despite large reductions in automobile emissions during the last few decades, a 2003 USA Today article claimed Americans now drive “vehicles that give off more pollution than the cars they drove in the ’80s.”

  • In December 2005, the EPA proposed lowering the allowable daily PM2.5 concentration from 65 micrograms per cubic meter (g/m3) down to 35 g/m3. The change, which the EPA recently made final, will increase by two-thirds the number of metropolitan areas that fail to comply with federal particulate standards. Yet activists and journalists have created the impression that the EPA has not tightened the standards at all. “EPA proposes ‘Status Quo’ revisions to [particulate matter standards],” claimed an American Lung Association press release. According to Clean Air Watch, another environmental group, “President Bush gives early Christmas present to smokestack industries.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s headline read, “EPA Barely Budges on Soot; Health Advice Disregarded.” The tougher PM2.5 standard represents a major expansion of the reach and stringency of the Clean Air Act, but environmentalists and many journalists passed it off as no change at all.

  • The years 2003 through 2005 were the three lowest on record for ozone. Over this short period, the proportion of the nation’s ozone monitors violating the EPA’s eight-hour standard plummeted from 43 percent to 18 percent. Instead of celebrating, shortly after the 2005 ozone season ended, a Clean Air Watch press release proclaimed, “Smog Problems Nearly Double in 2005.” Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection warned, “Number of Ozone Action Days Up from Last Year.” Ozone levels were indeed higher in 2005 when compared with 2004, but the alarmist headlines were extremely misleading. In fact, 2005 was the second-lowest on record for ozone since the 1970s, and 2004 was the lowest. Ozone levels were so improbably low in 2004 that it would have been astounding if ozone had not been higher in 2005. What was remarkable was that 2005 was one of the hottest years on record, and warmth increases ozone formation. But ozone levels still remained near the all-time low. Opinion makers turned this success into an apparent failure.

The lack of context adds to misperceptions about pollution. Clearly, some place in the United States has to be the worst at any given time. But even in the worst areas of the country, air pollution is much lower now than it used to be. Riverside, California, has the highest PM2.5 levels in the country, but PM2.5 in Riverside has dropped by more than half since the early 1980s, even as the area’s population has more than doubled. Ignoring and obscuring these large improvements add to the gap between public perception and actual air quality.

The most serious claim leveled against air pollution is that even at current levels it kills tens of thousands of Americans each year. The EPA credits federal pollution regulation with preventing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths during the last 35 years, and, as a result, believes the Clean Air Act has delivered tens of trillions of dollars in benefits. But the existence of these benefits depends on whether the comparatively low air pollution of the last few decades is deadly. Controlled human and animal studies suggest that it is not.

Even air pollution at levels many times greater than Americans ever breathe doesn’t kill laboratory animals. As a recent article in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology concluded, “It remains the case that no form of ambient [particulate matter]—other than viruses, bacteria, and biochemical antigens—has been shown, experimentally or clinically, to cause disease or death at concentrations remotely close to U.S. ambient levels.”

Researchers cannot, of course, do laboratory studies on people to see if air pollution will kill them. But they can look for milder health effects in human volunteers. Such studies also provide little support for claims of serious harm.

Two major forms of particulate matter—sulfates and nitrates—are simply nontoxic. In fact, ammonium sulfate, the main form of particulate matter from coal-fired power plant emissions, is used as an “inert control”—that is, a substance without any health effects—in human studies of the effects of acidic aerosols. Inhaler medications to reduce airway constriction are delivered in the form of sulfate aerosols. Nevertheless, in a glut of reports with scary titles like “Death, Disease, and Dirty Power” and “Power to Kill,” environmentalists have been running an aggressive campaign against coal-fired electricity, claiming that tens of thousands of deaths are caused by power plant particulates.

Even “carbonaceous” particulate matter—the noxious, sooty emissions from diesel trucks and other motor vehicles—causes surprisingly little reaction, at least at concentrations encountered in urban air. Studies sponsored by the Health Effects Institute had healthy and asthmatic volunteers ride an exercise bike while breathing concentrated PM2.5 collected in the Los Angeles area, or concentrated diesel exhaust. In both cases, the exposures were many times greater than typical levels in urban air, and even a few times greater than peak levels in the most polluted cities. Nevertheless, there were no changes in symptoms or lung function in either the healthy or asthmatic subjects.

Controlled laboratory evidence, therefore, indicates that low-level air pollution doesn’t cause premature death. The claim that tens of thousands of Americans die each year from even the relatively clean air in modern American cities instead rests on indirect evidence from so-called “observational” epidemiology studies, in which researchers look for correlations between air pollution and risk of death in large groups of people.

Observational studies work with subjects who are not randomly selected and with pollution exposures that are not randomly assigned. Researchers use statistical methods to try to remove the biases inherent in the resulting data. Most epidemiological studies you read about in the newspaper—studies that assess the effects of diet or health habits on the risk of cancer or heart disease, for example—are of this nonrandomized, observational variety.

Most health claims based on such observational studies are turning out to be false when tested in large, randomized clinical trials—a “gold standard” methodology that avoids the biases of observational methods and is the type of study required for drug approvals. Spurious health claims from observational studies have become such a pervasive concern in the medical literature that health researchers have been creating new journals specifically designed to combat the problem.

Perhaps not surprisingly, regulators, environmentalists, and most air pollution epidemiologists have ignored these weaknesses and continue to assume that observational studies provide valid information about air pollution’s health effects. They point to the thousands of observational studies that have reported a positive association between low-level air pollution and risk of death as proof that the harm is real. But implementing an invalid methodology over and over again doesn’t improve its validity.

Of course, air quality regulation isn’t just about preventing death, but also about mitigating lesser, but still serious, health concerns. The entire corpus of air pollution health claims, however, rests on surprisingly thin evidence. Asthma is the most conspicuous example. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the prevalence of asthma nearly doubled in the U.S. during the last 25 years. Environmentalists have made asthma sufferers the literal poster children for air pollution activism, parading them before regulatory agency hearings and creating the impression that air pollution is a major culprit. The Carolinas Clean Air Coalition’s website goes so far as to claim that “1⁄3-1⁄2 of all asthma in North Carolina is due to air pollution.”

Only 29 percent of those polled believed that ‘America’s air quality is better than…it was in 1970.’

But how can air pollution be the cause of rising asthma if asthma prevalence rose at the same time that air pollution of all kinds sharply declined? Also, asthma is most common in wealthy Western countries that have relatively low air pollution levels, while developing countries with awful air pollution have comparatively little asthma.

Environmentalists and regulators also create the impression that air pollution accounts for a large proportion of all respiratory distress. According to an EPA fact sheet, “Ozone can irritate lung airways and cause inflammation much like a sunburn…. People with respiratory problems are most vulnerable, but even healthy people that are active outdoors can be affected when ozone levels are high.” “Digging Up Trouble,” a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists on diesel construction equipment in California, claims that “as much as 10 to 20 percent of all summertime hospital visits and admissions for respiratory illness are associated with ozone.”

But regulators’ own technical studies belie these exaggerations. Researchers from both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, have published technical reports suggesting that eliminating all human-caused ozone (somewhere around one-quarter to one-half of ozone is natural or transported from other countries) in the United States—a much larger reduction than required to comply with the current eight-hour ozone standard—would prevent no more than 1 or 2 percent of all asthma emergency room visits and respiratory hospital admissions.

Even these small benefits are inflated, because they omit contrary evidence. For example, researchers from Kaiser Permanente studied the relationship between air pollution and respiratory distress in California’s Central Valley, and reported that higher ozone was associated with a statistically significant decrease in serious health effects, such as hospital admissions. Although it was the sponsor of the Kaiser research, CARB omitted this result from its study of the benefits of ozone reductions.

The pattern of asthma attacks also indicates that ozone can’t be a significant factor in exacerbating such respiratory diseases. Emergency room visits and hospitalizations for asthma are lowest during July and August, when ozone levels are at their highest.

What about the long-term effects of pollution on respiratory health? Key evidence comes from CARB’s Children’s Health Study (CHS), long-term research begun in 1993. After following more than 1,700 children from ages 10 to 18, University of Southern California scientists published a study in The New England Journal of Medicine using CHS data that found no association between ozone and lung growth or capacity—despite the fact that some of the communities in the study exceeded the federal eight-hour ozone standard more than 100 days per year.

The same report also suggests that particulate matter, even at the highest U.S. levels, causes little developmental harm. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 at twice the level of the federal standard was associated with only a 1 to 2 percent decline in children’s lung capacity.

The researchers’ press release on the study created a false appearance of serious risk. Titled “Smog May Cause Lifelong Lung Deficits,” the release asserted, “By age 18, the lungs of many children who grow up in smoggy areas are underdeveloped and will likely never recover.” This is what newspapers reported, rather than what the study actually found. It is just one of many cases in which health experts have created an appearance of much greater harm than justified by the underlying evidence.

The most recent results from the CHS, published in The Lancet, the respected British medical journal, last January, concluded that even growing up near a major freeway was associated with only about a 1 percent decline in total lung capacity. That finding was based on pollution levels during the 1990s, when measurements showed that automobile and diesel truck emissions were two to four times greater than now. Nevertheless, in a familiar pattern, the researchers claimed they had uncovered serious harm, and this is what newspapers uncritically reported.

Still, if air pollution is not the threat most Americans think it is, don’t we have the Clean Air Act and aggressive regulatory authorities to thank? Not really. Regulators and environmentalists have created the impression that air pollution was on an ever-rising trajectory before the federal government stepped in to protect Americans from unrestrained capitalism. In reality, air pollution had been dropping for decades before the 1970 adoption of the modern Clean Air Act.

Pittsburgh reduced particulate levels by more than 75 percent between the early 1900s and 1970. Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York all have records going back to the 1930s or 1940s showing large reductions in smoke levels. Nationwide monitoring data demonstrate that particulate levels declined nearly 20 percent between 1960 and 1970, while sulfur dioxide declined more than 30 percent. Los Angeles began reducing ozone smog in the 1950s, soon after skyrocketing population and driving created this new form of air pollution. Ozone levels in Los Angeles have been dropping ever since.

Air pollution is not unique in this respect. For decades before the federal government got involved, a range of environmental concerns was being mitigated by a combination of ad hoc local and state regulation, nuisance lawsuits, and market forces that pushed for better efficiency and technology. Other dangers were declining as well. Per mile of driving, the risk of dying in a car accident dropped 75 percent between 1925 and 1966, the year Congress created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The risk of dying on the job declined 55 percent between 1930 and 1971, the inaugural year of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And for all of these risks, the rate of improvement was about the same before and after the federal government stepped in.

After several decades living under what legal scholar David Schoenbrod calls the “modern administrative state,” it may seem unimaginable that public goods like cleaner air or safer cars could be delivered without the command and control of powerful national regulators. Unfortunately, we didn’t merely trade a decentralized system for an equivalent centralized one. Instead, federal air quality regulation has added a great deal of collateral damage into the bargain.

A good example is a policy called New Source Review (NSR), which requires businesses to install state-of-the-art pollution controls when they build a new plant or upgrade an existing one. Routine repair and maintenance are exempt, allowing existing older plants to keep operating without cleaning up their emissions. The idea was that emissions would decrease over time as existing facilities reached the end of their natural useful lives and were replaced by clean modern plants.

It didn’t work out that way. By increasing the costs of new and upgraded plants relative to existing ones, NSR encouraged businesses to keep old plants running as long as possible—ironically slowing progress on air quality. And NSR is just one among many requirements with perverse outcomes.

By the mid- to late-1990s, regulatory economists estimated that the Clean Air Act was costing Americans on the order of 1 to 2 percent of GDP per year—about $1,000 to $2,000 per household. The incremental costs of attaining the tougher ozone and PM2.5 standards that the EPA has adopted since then will likely add an additional $1,000 or so a year to the average household’s outlay, but will provide little or no incremental health benefit in return.

Between 2003 and 2005, the proportion of the nation’s ozone monitors violating the EPA’s eight-hour standard plummeted from 43 percent to 18 percent.

The EPA’s war on pollution marches on, nevertheless. The agency recently adopted a new PM2.5 standard, and plans to propose a tougher ozone standard in June that will represent a vast expansion of the Clean Air Act’s reach. About 23 percent of the nation’s metropolitan areas violate the current standard. This fraction would double even under the EPA’s least stringent alternative. Under the most stringent alternative, literally the entire nation would become a Clean Air Act “nonattainment” area.

Federal air quality regulation suffers from incentives to create requirements that are unnecessarily stringent, intrusive, bureaucratic, and costly. The Clean Air Act charges the EPA with setting air pollution health standards. But this means that federal regulators decide when their own jobs are finished. Not surprisingly, no matter how clean the air, the EPA continues to find unacceptable risks. The EPA is like a company that gets to decide how much of its product customers must buy. Congress also charges the agency with evaluating the costs and benefits of its own programs. Not surprisingly, the EPA finds the benefits to be far in excess of the costs.

But the conflicts of interest go much deeper. The EPA and state regulators’ powers and budgets depend on a continued public perception that there is a serious problem to solve, yet regulators are also major funders of the health research intended to demonstrate the need for more regulation. Regulators decide what questions are asked, which scientists are funded to answer them, and how the results are portrayed. Regulators also provide millions of dollars a year to environmental groups, which use the money to augment fear of pollution and seek increases in regulators’ powers.

Before the EPA was created, decentralized actions were delivering the improved air quality that an increasingly wealthy and educated polity was demanding. Before the era of compulsively detailed regulation, the government’s role was, to paraphrase economist Sam Peltzman, complementary to market forces, evolving gradually and incrementally, and largely working in concert with people’s values and preferences.

By contrast, today’s federal regulatory system imposes revolutionary institutional changes that often override people’s preferences and suppress individual initiative and creativity. Schoenbrod, a law professor and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, began his career as an idealistic attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council during the 1970s. But his experiences convinced him that the modern administrative state is unkind to the people it claims to be protecting. Regulators, he says, have “left the public more anxious about pollution than ever. Such anxiety fuels the growing power of the administrative state.”

The prospects for improving air quality regulation are not encouraging. Even the Bush administration has aided alarmism rather than reform. Environmentalists and many newspaper editorial boards have relentlessly pilloried the president for supposedly “gutting” the Clean Air Act and increasing air pollution. Meanwhile, back in the real world, air pollution continues to hit new record lows; the Bush EPA has imposed the nation’s toughest-ever air pollution standards and regulations, going far beyond where the Clinton administration chose to tread; and, perhaps most ironic, the Bush administration has justified this vast expansion of the Clean Air Act based on the same spurious health claims through which environmentalists and regulators maintain unwarranted public anxiety.

Realistic public information on air quality is a prerequisite for popular support for a sensible regulatory system focused on results and net improvements in Americans’ welfare. Unfortunately, the media have so far shown little interest in improving environmental reporting. True, many journalists realize that environmentalists are often prone to exaggeration and that the regulatory system suffers from significant structural problems. But they also seem to believe regulators and environmentalists are well-intentioned, while the critics of regulation must have nefarious motives. Alas, speculation about motives is a poor basis for judging the value of public policies or regulatory institutions. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.… [T]hose who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”


Dangerous "Green" car

The shocking image of this tangled wreck of what was a Reva all-electric car has prompted road safety authorities to keep it off Australian roads. The wreckage of the Indian-built car is the result of a simulated crash at just 48 km/h.

The crash test dummy at the wheel of the Reva has its legs crushed, and hangs limply and exposed out of the door, its head having taken the full force of the disintegrated bonnet and windshield during the crash. Watch the crash test below:

But the man who wants Australian metropolitan commuters to go green in the Reva, says the shocking crash test has little relevance and that he knows the car is not as safe as other vehicles on our roads. Adrian Ferraretto, general manager of The Solar Shop in Adelaide, has been pushing for trials of the Reva here for years, and yesterday defended its safety record on the basis that it is allowed on roads elsewhere under the classification of a heavy quadricycle.

"We know the car's not as safe as say an S-Class Mercedes Benz or a Hummer or other passenger cars, but it has a different application," Mr Ferraretto said. "It's for low-speed city motoring. I don't think (the crash tests are) relevant. While it's not as safe as other passenger cars, it's safer than a motorbike."

The test on the Reva was conducted by UK motoring magazine Top Gear. It prompted road authorities in Britain to conduct their own crash tests and re-examine the road laws which allowed it on the roads there. Footage from the test was shown at a recent Australian Transport Council meeting of state and federal transport ministers. At the start of this month, as an outcome of that meeting, the Reva all-electric car was banned from use on Australian roads as it had failed a frontal crash test and did not comply with safety standards. An application by the West Australian Government to trial the Reva, an automatic two-door hatch, was rejected by the Australian Transport Council.

In Britain, however, the Reva - known as a G-Wiz - is classed as a heavy quadricycle and therefore has not had to meet the same safety standards as a car. Australia has no such vehicle category.


Global cooling? Britain colder than Alaska!

The Brits were widely certain that their unusually warm summer proved global warming. What now?

More than 74,000 homes across the east of England were left without electricity yesterday as wind and heavy rain brought down power lines. EDF energy said last night that it had restored power in most areas but 4,000 homes were still without electricity. The disruption came as millions of Britons shivered through the washed-out Bank Holiday, which weather forecasters had predicted.

Plummeting temperatures, gales and torrential rain persisted. Public transport was disrupted, events were cancelled and emergency services were kept busy. In Alaska temperatures hit 16C (61F) – practically balmy compared with England’s average of 11C. Parts of Siberia were warmer than High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, the coldest spot in the country, where temperatures fell to 5C. The Met Office reported that the weekend was one of the wettest and coldest bank holidays for years, far below the May average of 17C.

However, indoor attractions were celebrating the bad weather. Shops and museums in London were bustling and the new 62 million Dickens World, an indoor theme park in Kent, was filled to capacity. Thames Water confirmed that the deluge had made water restrictions less likely this summer.

Seaside resorts were heavily booked by families counting on bursts of sunshine. But by Saturday afternoon all hope had evaporated. Much of England endured downpours topping 50mm (2in). St Catherine’s Point, on the Isle of Wight, had received almost 75mm since the start of the Bank Holiday. Ferries to the island were cancelled and two yachts from France had to be rescued in the Channel.

In Exeter, three teenagers who camped beside the River Exe had to be rescued after being surrounded by fast-flowing water. One of Britain’s biggest carnivals, the Luton International Festival, which was expected to attract more than 100,000 people, was cancelled.

Most of Western Europe suffered too. The weather will improve today, then it is misery again for most of the week.



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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More Debunking Of The Global Warming Hysteria

Post lifted from Flopping Aces. See the original for links

A new study released this week by the National Center for Policy Analysis, "Climate Science: Climate Change and Its Impacts", is taking the Environazi's to task once again. Here is an editorial from the WSJ which breaks it down a bit:

"It concludes that "the science does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures over the 21rst century, nor does it support claims of human influence on weather events and other secondary effects of climate change."

There are substantial differences in climate models--some 30 of them looked at by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--but the Climate Science study concludes that "computer models consistently project a rise in temperatures over the past century that is more than twice as high as the measured increase." The National Center for Atmospheric Research's prediction of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warming is more accurate. In short, the world is not warming as much as environmentalists think it is.

What warming there is turns out to be caused by solar radiation rather than human pollution. The Climate Change study concluded "half the observed 20th century warming occurred before 1940 and cannot be attributed to human causes," and changes in solar radiation can "account for 71 percent of the variation in global surface air temperature from 1880 to 1993."

As for hurricanes, 2005 saw several severe ones--Katrina and Rita both had winds of 150 knots--hitting New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and Florida. But there is little evidence linking them to global warming. A team of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists concluded that the increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995 "is not related to greenhouse warming" but instead to natural tropical climate cycles.

Regarding Arctic temperature changes, the Study found the coastal stations in Greenland had actually experienced a cooling trend: The "average summer air temperatures at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet, have decreased at the rate of 4 degrees F per decade since measurements began in 1987." Add in Russian and Alaskan temperature data and "Arctic air temperatures were warmest in the 1930s and near the coolest for the period of recorded observations (since at least 1920) in the late 1980s."

As for sea ice, it is not melting excessively. Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans concluded that "global warming appears to play a minor role in changes to Arctic sea ice." The U.N.'s IPCC Third Assessment Report concluded that the rate of sea level rise has not accelerated during the last century, which is supported by U.S. coastal sea level experience. In California sea levels have risen between zero and seven millimeters a year and between 2.1 and 2.8 millimeters a year in North and South Carolina.

[...]The Climate Science study concludes that projections of global warming over the next century "have decreased significantly since early modeling efforts," and that global air temperatures should increase by 2.5 degrees and the United States by about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the next hundred years. The environmental pessimists tell us, as in Time magazine's recent global warming issue, to "Be Worried. Be Very Worried," but the truth is that our environmental progress has been substantially improving, and we should be very pleased.

Meanwhile ANOTHER climate scientist, this time Dr. William Cotton, has come out in opposition to this man-made global warming hysteria, saying exactly what we have been saying for some time. We just don't understand climate enough to predict what will happen 10 years from now, let alone 100. And there is just no solid evidence to suggest we humans are causing global warming:

"I am not exactly speaking out against global warming. But, I don't think the science is as solid as many lead us to believe. Don't get me wrong, the science of how greenhouse gases directly affect climate is strong. But where it gets messy is all the feedbacks in the system that the theory relies upon and most particularly the role of clouds. Also when it comes to future scenarios (predictions?) decades or longer I point out there are many other factors affecting climate and some of these can be quite large but often are not predictable. Many of these are related to aerosols either natural (volcanoes) or manmade. Then there is also the wildcard with respect to solar variability impacting climate. I think there is something going on there that we just don't understand. I try to keep up on papers in that area and so far am not convinced about their physical arguments especially the cosmic ray/cloud cover arguments But just because we can't explain it doesn't mean something important isn't happening.

I have attached a copy of the recent talk I gave at the University of Tel-Aviv. I didn't put it on a slide but I also point out that this position is purely from my personal scientific evaluation. My book on "Human Impacts on Weather and Climate," 2nd Edition by Cotton and Pielke published by Cambridge is out by the way.

I also point out that I am very "green" as I ride a bicycle to and from work 12 miles a day, I have a Toyota Prius, fly a sailplane, sail boats and paddle kayaks, have an electric lawnmower and weedwacker, florescent lights throughout the house, and support reducing pollution of all sorts.

I put the figure showing the correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and population to show that the bottom line is we are overloading our planet and that as long as we keep putting more and more people on it we will be increasing the likelihood of serious impacts on water resources, air quality, and weather and climate. However, as a scientist I have to draw the line between being "objective" and being an advocate of policies."

Now this is an honest assessment by someone who quite obviously believes humans are impacting the planet, but is not following the money to advocate the man-made global warming industry. Because make no mistake about it.... It is a industry...

Devastating Critique of Climate Modeling

Post lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

This Website posting (hat-tip NRO's Iain Murray) from Dr. R.A. Pielke Sr., a bona-fide climate scientist and author of a book on climate modeling, is just devastating to Global Warming alarmists.

'That the (UN's) IPCC states that this (climate modelling) is a "much more easily solved problem than forecasting weather patterns just weeks from now" is clearly a ridiculous scientific claim.'

Although there is a fair bit of scientific jargon, let's count the ways it refutes the UN IPCC:

1. This direct rebuttal from a leading climate modeler is ipso-facto evidence belying claims of "scientific consensus".

2. It correctly notes that climate models must, by definition, be more complicated than weather models. Long term factors such as ocean currents, changes in vegetation, the global economy, etc, which have no bearing on short term weather must be accounted for in climate models. The sets of mathematical relations are thus inherently more complex, requiring more equations to account for these extra parameters, leaving more room for error.

3. "Tunable components" refers to non-dimensional coefficients or correction factors that are adjusted (tuned) so that the predictions of the equations fit the real world data with high fidelity. This is done to improve the models' accuracy for further predictions. Despite the fact that weather models may be tuned quite frequently with real-world data, they still cannot predict accurately beyond four or five days. In contrast, many years or decades must pass before the predictions of "multi-decade climate models" can be compared with empirical data for the purposes of "tuning".

But I found some of the most devastating revelations in the comments from other climate scientists:

"....we've been modeling the climate with supercomputers for more than a decade, why is there no public "scorecard" comparing predictions to actual reality? I think if we are going to base massive changes to the economy on the predictions of these models, they should at least make public predictions, a decade out, each year. Then we should be able to compare them to the previous year's predictions and climate measurements."

Dr. Pielke replies that he has previously called for testable climate model predictions to be verified (or not) with careful measurement of heat accumulating over time in the oceans -- with a weblink to that page of his site recording this request -- but his call has apparently fallen on deaf ears at the IPCC and among the climate modelling community at large. Perhaps this further comment referring to Dr. Pielke's proposed test of climate models sums up the situation best:

"Thats the metric alright. But the energy-deprivation-crusaders aren't going to be signing up for this. Because they've been on a years-long evidence-filibuster."

Arnold confronts his most powerful enemy ever: the laws of physics

Post lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

The Governator, a.k.a Arnold Schwarzenegger, is now talking up "the hydrogen economy of the future," which will supposedly save us from our energy woes. Or maybe it'll be electric cars, biofuels and solar. Or all of the above. If this were a wrestling match, Governor Arnold would have that dirty old oil economy down on the wrestling mat, begging for mercy.

The trouble is that the stern laws of physics are different from pro wrestling and Hollywood action epics. Because the current crop of "solutions" have one thing in common. They require more energy to manufacture than they yield. They are lousy energy conversion and transport methods, not new energy sources. High school physics students are supposed to know that energy sources can only be converted from one kind to another, but there's no "conventional" way to create it. Only in your dreams, Governor, Sir.

Science knows of only two ways to obtain energy on this planet. Either we convert it from the fusion reactor of the sun --- using solar collectors or green plants, or through sun-made oil, coal, methane, shale sands, water flow, wind, or tidal power. Or, we can produce energy from a radioactive mass, like the sun itself. That's nuclear energy, which produces radiant heat from uranium or plutonium.

It is still true that oil, coal and nuclear are far and away the biggest and best, most cost-efficient methods available. The United States is fortunately rich in coal, shale, and natural gas, but because of environmentalist overkill, the country has a declining future in oil. You can convert any energy source into a different form, as long as you don't mind slipping down the efficiency hill, step by step, with all the finality of the Frankenstein Monster clumping downstairs. There's nothing we can do about it. We can turn oil into hydrogen, and coal into electricity --- and end up running "clean" electrical or hydrogen cars. Trouble is, you lose BTUs at every single step. And you get more total pollution, because now you're using even more coal, oil, and nuclear input for the same energy output. There's no free lunch, in economics or physics.

You can always dream of efficiency improvements that could theoretically make up for these basic facts of physics. So maybe hydrogen fuel cells will let us store energy at high efficiency. Great, but we still have to get the energy from the same old sources: coal, oil or nuclear. So Reuters was far out into Fantasyland the other day when it claimed that new hydrogen storage discoveries will help us get to energy paradise. But hydrogen storage won't help energy production. We still have to get it in the first place. Too bad, but the media flunks high school physics. (Just like most of them probably did the first time.)

Or we could make everybody drive small cars and motor scooters --- and be at the mercy of bigger vehicles... Bottom line for Arnie's hydrogen-electric cars? Barring a scientific miracle, they are inherently much worse than gas-powered cars. It's the Tinseltown "solution" to reality --- expensive and wasteful, much dirtier to start with, but cleaner once we see it. It looks great, as long as you don't peek behind the cardboard scenery. So this is a shell game, covered up by hype and scientific ignorance. The end users think they're not using those bad old fuels. In fact, they are still using them and getting less for their money. Millions of people will end up using more petroleum and coal - it'll just be out of sight somewhere in Nevada.

So the next time Governor Arnie talks up a "hydrogen economy" for California, will somebody please ask him what energy sources he is proposing to use, to free up hydrogen molecules from water or methane? Reporters never seem to remember basic physics --- it would get them fired. But somebody please ask. If the Goobernator is an honest man, he will say:

Hydrogen will be produced from oil, coal, and nuclear power at a big loss in efficiency. It's going to take billions and billions of dollars in tax money to create a Giant Monument to My Ego, and it's not going to pay for itself in the foreseeable future. Solar energy isn't ready, and won't be for years.

If he doesn't say that, he's ignorant or lying. Even the Governator can't fake out the laws of physics.


A top United Nations official says he is no longer alarmed by Canada's stand on the Kyoto Protocol now that he better understands the Conservative government's position. "I must admit, I was worried for some time, but I was much encouraged by the clarification," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in Montreal Tuesday. He said he now understands that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government wasn't rejecting the value of the Kyoto accord, but rather observed its objectives cannot be met within the target deadline.

De Boer was responding to reporters' questions after addressing about 300 delegates, including environmentalists and politicians. The UN official's statements clearly pleased federal Environment Minister John Baird, who was at the media event and also addressed the delegates. Since coming to office 16 months ago the Conservative government has committed $9 billion of new money to protecting the environment, Baird said. He used the event to announce the federal government will also contribute $4.5 million of new money to Environment Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program to protect species at risk.

Baird also praised his government for its energy and fuel efficiency strategies. Last month, the Conservatives announced an environment plan that would force large industries to reduce the intensity of their emissions by at least 18 per cent, starting in 2010.

Baird's words failed to impress conference delegate Faisal Moola, director of science for the David Suzuki Foundation, who accused the minister of using the "government's baby steps" on climate change as evidence of Canada's commitment to the biodiversity treaty. In fact, Moola said, Canadians would be surprised to know that both the previous Liberal government and the current Conservative one have failed to make use of Canada's Species at Risk Act to protect iconic species such as the beluga whale, the polar bear and caribous. Canada's most endangered species is the northern spotted owl, which lives in British Columbia - there are only 14 left, Moola said. Yet Ottawa has refused to use the Species at Risk Act to halt the logging of its habitat, Moola added.



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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Bush ratchets up atrocious CAFE regulations

President Caves to Environmentalists in Expanding Failed Fuel Economy Scheme

President Bush this week ordered increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, exacerbating an already-defective fuel economy program. This dramatically reverses several years of White House policy, which had previously issued studies detailing the negative cost/benefit consequences of CAFE mandates. The disappointing announcement also indicates a surrender to hysterical environmental special interests but will achieve none of its advertised goals.

Rather, the regulations will merely impose even more new burdens on the nation's beleaguered automobile industry and gasoline refineries, at great cost to America's economy and infrastructure. Within the next ten years, carmakers will be forced to produce vehicles with greater fuel efficiency, and refiners must add more inefficient more expensive ethanol and other additives to their gasoline.

Beginning promptly next year, the proposal mandates a 4% annual increase in fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to 34 miles per gallon by the year 2017. By comparison, current federal CAFE standards require that passenger cars achieve 27.5 miles per gallon, and light trucks must achieve 22.2 miles per gallon. The regulations will also require an increase in renewable and alternative fuels to 35 billion gallons per year (from approximately only 5 billion gallons per year currently).

As always, this government folly will result in even higher gas and automobile prices, as well as decreased auto safety, for consumers. The ominous nature of the President's proposal is perhaps best illustrated by those who applaud it. According to Sierra Club Director Dan Becker, "right now, they seem to be saying things the right way."

The more fundamental problem with the regulations, however, is that they simply don't work. The CAFE system was imposed in 1975 as a response to the oil embargo, but America today imports an even greater portion of foreign oil than it did then.

In addition, heightened mileage requirements have backfired on their intended purpose because consumers responded to greater fuel efficiency by driving even more miles, buying even more cars, and using even more gasoline. Ever since the 1975 CAFE standards imposed mileage mandates, people chose to buy bigger cars and live in increasingly-distant suburbs from their workplaces. Between 1990 and 2000, for example, the number of workers whose commutes exceed 60 minutes increased almost 50%, according to the Census Department.

Consumers have also opted for the increased safety of bulkier models that are better able to scoot the kids to soccer practice, haul hardware store and remodeling purchases home and tow recreational trailers and boats. Simply put, CAFE masterminds foolishly ignored the countervailing incentives that they created for consumers, and assumed that people would just maintain their driving habits and options preferences.

Furthermore, increased mandates will do nothing to address the mythical "climate change" issue. With worldwide economic expansion in places like China and India so frenzied, global greenhouse emissions will grow regardless of any miniscule reduction in American automobile emissions. As it is, auto emissions only constitute 20% of total American emissions, which themselves are a small portion of worldwide manmade emissions, which themselves are a tiny portion of global carbon emissions compared to natural processes such as oceanic releases, volcanoes, methane from dying plants, live animals, swamp seepage and other non-manmade emissions.

On the other hand, these mandates will put American auto makers at even greater competitive disadvantage, because Japanese and other foreign competitors will be better able to adapt to the new standards. As it is, the American Big Three are hemorrhaging losses, shuttering manufacturing plants and laying off thousands of American employees. What a deal - more losses by the Big Three, more layoffs and higher gas and car prices.

It is particularly disappointing that President Bush mischaracterized last month's atrocious Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA to rationalize his decision. The Court in that case simply held that the EPA could either regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) or decide that it would not or could not do so. The White House, however, inaccurately stated that "the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA must take action under the Clean Air Act regarding greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles." The Supreme Court's decision was abysmal enough, but President Bush should not attempt to duck responsibility by misrepresenting its ruling.

Unfortunately, ailing automakers and gas suppliers simply present too soft a boogeyman, and feel-good environmental platitudes too easy a justification. With the White House apparently surrendering, it is now up to American consumers and voters to resist this counterproductive policy before we suffer additional damage.


Honour for a Greenie mass-murderer?

At times it seems that there are more sites honoring Rachel Carson than Josef Stalin at his peak. There's an environmental advocacy institute (at Chatham University, her alma mater), a state office building in Harrisburg, several research institutions, a number of schools (no less than eight, by my count), and here in Pittsburgh, we got this bridge.

The bridge in question, once known as the 9th Street Bridge, was renamed the Rachel Carson Bridge late last year at the request of Esther L. Barazzone, president of Chatham University. It's one of three downtown suspension bridges crossing the Allegheny. Together they're known as the "Three Sisters". The other two are named for Roberto Clemente and Andy Warhol, respectively. (Andy probably wouldn't have minded the "sisters" appellation, but as for Roberto... I wouldn't care to speculate.)

The renaming resolution was a piece of political boilerplate passed unanimously by the Allegheny County Council with no debate or publicity. According to Eileen Watt, who sponsored the motion, the Council was looking to honor a woman who was a native of Pittsburgh. (Which is not quite the case, Carson having been raised in Springdale, twenty miles north.) Very little mention was made concerning Carson's actual accomplishments, something for which the Council may come to feel grateful.

Because Carson's accomplishments are effectively wrapped up in Silent Spring, a book hailed as "one of the five most influential of the 20th century" (Modern Library) and "One of the hundred most significant of the past millennium" (Life Magazine), but one which many view as one of those books, like Das Kapital and Mein Kampf, that we'd very much like to somehow see unwritten.

In 1958 Carson received a letter from her close friend Olga Huckins, which told a strange and alarming story. A short time previously, Huckins' bird sanctuary north of Cape Cod had been sprayed for insects, leading to a mass die-off of birds. The pesticide implicated was DDT. Carson looked into it, her alarm deepening she discovered several similar incidents involving fish and birds. Originally set on treating the subject in an article, she instead embarked on a book-length project, spending over four years on the manuscript that became Silent Spring.

Silent Spring was published in September 1962 to immediate and near-universal acclaim. It was a strange time in American history - the public had only recently endured scares over radioactive fallout from nuclear testing and a horrifying incident involving the pregnancy drug thalidomide, which led to gross birth defects. Silent Spring rode this wave of paranoia as if designed for it.

Along with a thirty-week run on The New York Times bestseller list, the book was discussed in the Senate, debated by Congressional committees, analyzed by the presidential Science Advisory Committee and widely covered on television. All of which was a deep pity, because Silent Spring was an extremely dishonest and flawed piece of work.

Carson's book was rife with omissions, misrepresentations, and errors. She neglected to mention that the spraying of Huckin's bird sanctuary was accompanied by fuel oil, which would have harmed the birds in and of itself. The fact that DDT had eliminated malaria in the northern hemisphere went unnoted. The threat of cancer (Carson herself had been diagnosed with breast cancer while at work on the book) was overemphasized -- to put it mildly -- on no scientific basis.

But far worse was the tone of hysteria permeating the entire work. DDT was not simply a chemical compound, to be analyzed dispassionately like any other. No - it was representation of absolute evil, a demonic threat to all forms of life, one that had to be ousted from the environment at all costs. Such an overwrought treatment is perhaps understandable from a woman effectively writing under the gun of cancer, but it's scarcely acceptable in a work purporting to be a serious scientific study.

This attitude of Carson's was imported into environmentalism whole, becoming the standard for dealing with environmental matters of all kinds. DDT became target number one for the new environmental movement (one organization, the World Wildlife Fund, was founded with no other goal than its elimination). It was an uphill battle for several years, since serious scientific analysis of Carson's claims overthrew virtually all of them. DDT did not cause cancer. It had no health effects whatsoever on humans, mammals, or any other higher animals. The sole deletorious effect involved the eggs of raptors, where ambiguous evidence of shell-thinning was discovered. Even the Environmental Protection Agency, founded in answer to the uproar generated by Silent Spring, dismissed claims against DDT.

The environmentalists solved that one by going straight to the top. The EPA's head, William D. Ruckelshaus, was a committed environmentalist and a member of several environmental organizations, with widespread connections throughout the movement. On June 14, 1972, Ruckelshaus rescinded the registration for DDT, effectively banning the compound. (Many sources, such as this site, claim that there never was any such ban, a contention easily answered by this EPA release.) Ruckelshaus later worked for the World Wildlife Federation, a fact that may or may not be relevant.

With the Ruckelshaus ban, the DDT story deepens into tragedy. One thing unmentioned throughout the debate was the fact that DDT had effectively eliminated malaria in the developed world. Though not as fearful as diseases such as plague or tuberculosis, malaria was a greater killer than any of them, perhaps responsible for up to 300 million deaths in the 20th century alone. Malaria was a slow killer, a parasite that debilitated and weakened over years of repeated attacks. Even when it didn't kill, it reduced its victims to lives of unending misery.

DDT had ended its reign throughout Europe, the American South, and Latin America, one of the greatest humanitarian advances in recorded history, and one effectively forgotten by the 1970s. Also forgotten was the fact that one more challenge remained. Africa had been left out of previous international efforts due both to its vastness and the fact that the anopheles mosquito and the malaria parasite differed slightly from the species of other regions, seriously complicating any eradication campaign. Consideration was being given to overcoming those problems when the DDT ban undercut all such efforts.

Environmentalists and aid bureaucrats insisted that DDT could be replaced by other pesticides and procedures such as "integrated vector management." But mosquitoes quickly developed resistance to newer pesticides, and vector management was a gimcrack theory that failed everywhere it was tried.

Malaria rates began soaring worldwide, not only in Africa but in areas which a few years earlier had been malaria-free. Only a small number of nations with the financial ability to fund their own programs, such as Ecuador, Mexico, and South Africa, continued DDT use. In all cases, these countries remained healthy. (The Clinton administration demanded that Mexico give up DDT as a condition for NAFTA being put into effect. This was done, and malaria rates shot sky-high.)

Despite clear evidence as to the effects, international aid groups such as the World Health Organization and USAid ceased supporting DDT operations. By the mid-80s, malaria had reached and surpassed previous levels. Up to 500 million people were suffering attacks each year. Two to three million of them died as a result. Up to nine-tenths of the dead were children under five. So it continued for a quarter of a century. The tide began to turn when South Africa was persuaded in 1995 to abandon DDT in favor of the more expensive pyrethroid. Within three years, resistant mosquitoes appeared. By 2000, malaria cases had shot up by more than 1200%, to 62,000. The government resumed DDT spraying, and within months the disease rate dropped by four-fifths.

Other African nations began pleading for DDT. The UN had been attempting to ban the pesticide worldwide, but could not ignore evidence of such magnitude. An exception was made for spraying for health purposes, and aid organizations encouraged to begin financing such programs. Even so, it took another five years (and ten to fifteen million-odd deaths) to overcome bureaucratic inertia. It was only last September that the WHO acquiesced to such programs. Environmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace all applauded the decision. It was what they'd wanted all along, so they said.

One of the crucial figures in the fight for DDT was Sen. Tom Coburn, who spent a decade or more fighting alone against Greens, international aid bureaucrats, and the media on behalf of the wretched of the earth. Coburn spent those years contemplating armies of children dead for an empty ideology. So it's no surprise that it was he who stepped in to put a halt to Sen. Benjamin Cardin's resolution honoring Rachel Carson for her great work on the occasion of her centennial this Sunday.

Carson was not directly responsible. She is far from the equivalent of Hitler or Pol Pot that some overheated individuals claim to see in her. Neither are Ruckelshaus or the faceless aid bureaucrats, though we're getting closer to the bone there. No malice was involved in this case, no hatred, no hostility. We are simply confronted with the terrible mystery of human stupidity rendering the highest intentions more murderous than the worst.

But Rachel Carson lit the fuse, and no reinterpretation can ever change that. As Coburn is well aware, you do not pass resolutions in favor of people who were involved in the deaths of millions, however inadvertently. Neither do you name bridges after them, or institutes, or office buildings, or schools. (Or put up statues to them, which is Esther Barazzone's latest scheme.) In particular the schools, since you do not want to give naive children any notion at all that Carson's way is the way that things ought to be done.

It's doubtful that Sen. Coburn or anyone else will ever make any real impression on Carson's reputation. She is an archetype now, something of a goddess-figure embodying human decency and right action. People will sacrifice at her altar despite everything. But that doesn't mean that such gestures as the senator's are empty - at the very least, they embody a statement that the truth is there for those who want it. That counts for quite a bit. And there's also the fact that people still call it the 9th Street Bridge, in defiance of all the signs and fanfare. That voice of the people counts for something too.


Mobile homes and SUVs defended in Congressional inquiry

Today's full committee hearing on "The Issue of the Potential Impacts of Global Warming on Recreation and the Recreation Industry" revealed that misguided government regulations may help steal part of the American way of life away from recreation seekers. Today's hearing uncovered the dangers of so called global warming "solutions" as they may potentially impact the recreation industry. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said:

"The recreation industry's true threats come not from climate change -- which has always changed and will always change -- but from the so-called global warming `solutions' being proposed by government policymakers. Misguided efforts to `solve' global warming threaten to damage the travel and recreation industry and consequently threaten the American dream."

As Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition testified, the biggest threat to recreation may very well come from legislative "solutions" to climate change. "We ask the Congress to be wary of the danger of actions that would discourage healthy active lives and travel to see special places like national parks," Crandall said.

"The reality is that a reasonably fuel-efficient SUV - or even a large motorhome - gets more passenger miles per gallon when occupied by a family than does even the most fuel efficient car available today when occupied solely by a driver. And the benefits to the nation are large," Crandall explained. "We ask your help in protecting the ability of Americans to purchase vehicles that meet these needs," he added.

Barry McCahill, the president of the SUV Owners of America, noted that the cars of yesteryear were able to tow large recreational trailer or boats, but current cars do not have the ability.

"Today, just one percent of cars have the capacity to tow a small trailer or fishing boat. Why? Because of Federal fuel economy mandates," McCahill testified.

McCahill also spoke about how the use of four wheel drive vehicles for towing recreational vehicles and trailers was a key component of the American dream by bringing "families together outdoors, having fun and creating memories."

"This lifestyle, along with boating, horse shows and many other forms of outdoor recreation, could disappear if fuel economy mandates are pushed to the extreme -- or at minimum a luxury that only the wealthy could continue to enjoy," McCahill testified.

The safety of four wheel drives vehicles over passenger cars was also an important consideration, according to McCahill. "Based on 10 years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that SUVs are 5-7 times safer than passenger cars," McCahill said. "Declines in death rates (since 1978) have been largest for SUV occupants, showing that larger vehicles are safer than smaller ones," he continued.

"Thousands of lives have been lost because of unintended safety consequences from CAFE-induced vehicle downsizing. Whole forests have been decimated to print enough paper to explain its complexities," he added. "We are not a one-size-fits-all society and light trucks fill an important economic and social niche," he concluded.


WHAT WARMING? Both Hemispheres Report Unusual Cold and Snow

The media loves to seize on every warm winter day or summer heat wave as some kind of "proof" of man-made catastrophic global warming. But what the establishment media likes to conveniently ignore is periods of unusual cold or snow. (See post: "Hysterical Global Warming Hypocrisy From ABC Regarding Heat Waves and Cold Snaps" ) Several nations on Earth are currently experiencing rather cold and snowy weather at the moment.

[Note: The mainstream media also loves to ignore the sea change occurring in the scientific community as many scientists who once believed in man-made climate doom now have reversed themselves and are skeptical.] (See EPW Blog: Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics )

The below articles detail some of the unusual cold and snow occurring at the moment. One article below chronicles the Memorial Day snow advisory for the Colorado Mountains where up to 8 inches is expected. (and this after the Denver area received "one of the snowiest winters on record" in 2007.)

Parts of Wyoming are also being buried under a snowstorm while winter weather is persisting in Oregon and parts of Canada. A huge snowstorm in China has closed highways and stranded motorists. In addition, South Africa just set 54 new cold weather records with some parts seeing snow for the first time in 33 years as snow and ice continue to fall. Finally, winter has arrived early in Australia as the snow season is off to a promising start for the winter recreation industry.

Now the question is, will the same media that sensationalizes every warm weather event to promote climate alarmism, highlight the current icy grip of winter for many areas?

Articles from past few days beg question -WHAT WARMING?

Colorado Mountains under Memorial Day snow advisory, up to 8 inches expected
Denver had "one of the snowiest winters on record."
California seawater temperatures are unusually cold
Family stranded in Oregon snow found OK
Highways closed, motorists stranded as snow buries China
A taste of winter; Freezing rain, snow hits parts of Canada
Heavy snow forecast for Wyoming Mountains
Winter arrives early as Australia's snow season off to promising start
South Africa sets 54 cold weather records as snow and ice continue
First snow in parts of South Africa in 33 years leaves poor out in cold
Cold causes power cuts in Pretoria
21 killed as South African cold snap persists
Homeless bear the brunt of the S. African big chill
Cold affects S. African vegetable trade



US carbon-dioxide emissions declined by 1.3 per cent in 2006 even as the world's largest economy expanded by 3.3 per cent, the White House announced late Wednesday. The US Energy Information Administration issued a so-called flash estimate of carbon-dioxide emissions that showed a decline of 78 million metric tons last year in the United States.

In a statement, US President George W Bush touted the report as validating his energy and climate-change policies. He called in 2002 for the US to reduce so-called greenhouse-gas intensity or emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 18 per cent within a decade. The 2006 emissions report shows a decline of 4.5 per cent in carbon-dioxide intensity, the largest one-year drop since 1990, "putting us well ahead of what is needed annually to meet my greenhouse-gas intensity reduction goal ... by 2012," Bush said. "We are effectively confronting the important challenge of global climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong economic investment," Bush said.

Bush has been widely criticized by other governments for withdrawing the US from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which was never ratified by the US Senate. A recent United Nations conference found that manmade factors were likely a strong and growing factor in global climate change, taking a much stronger stance on the issue than the Bush government.



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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.