Thursday, June 14, 2007


An email from Jay Lehr, Science Director, The Heartland Institute []

Why doesn't some one call a spade a spade and explain that essentially all G8 Summit efforts to forge a global warming pact are nothing more than a charade to make the world think these world leaders are doing something for humanity while in most cases they are powerless to even improve the economies and quality of life for their own citizens.

Margaret Mead the famous anthropologist once told me that in every culture she studied there was an effort by the haves to collectivise the have-nots. She said it would appear that socialism is to society what weeds are to a garden. Both will always be with us. The wave of global warming rhetoric sweeping the world is just the latest example of this on a larger scale than ever attempted before. While it will fail as have all efforts to collectivise society, it could well set progress for mankind back a few decades.


George Monbiot, the environmental campaigner, scourge of the automobile industry and champion of not owning cars, has finally bought himself . . . a car. Notwithstanding pledges to live a green lifestyle and be a model to others, he has given in to temptation and acquired a secondhand Renault.

The car industry will be silently celebrating the news. Monbiot has championed an anticar movement that has grown rapidly in influence to the point where many owners now feel guilty about using their cars. His most recent book Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning was a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. He once described the pro-car lobby as "antisocial bastards" and has blamed cars for ruining children's lives. "Our children are growing upsocially stunted: instead of playing together they are playing alone on their computers, partly because the streets are both dangerous and choked with cars."

In what can only be described as a comprehensive U-turn, Monbiot has chosen a Renault Clio, an economical hatchback but not the most frugal in fuel consumption or carbon emissions. He bought it from a friend for an undisclosed amount. As zealots will be quick to remind him, it emits 115g/km , 10% higher than a Toyota Prius, the petrol-electric hybrid belovedof CO2 of the green movement.

Jeremy Clarkson, Monbiot's long-standing antagonist, said: "I'm glad he hasn't gone for a Prius - that would have marked him out as an idiot. I just hope the bonnet doesn't fly up [Renault Clios have been criticised for faulty bonnet catches] because he'll be killed - then where would the world be?"

Monbiot says the Clio is the first car he has owned since he sold a Ford Escort in 1989. His move from Oxford to rural Wales with his family in January meant a change of lifestyle, and he discovered he needed personal transport. "I had cars from 1982 to 1989, then I didn't have a car until about six weeks ago," he says. "I've had to break a long-time commitment, but the only way to get by, we decided, was to have the occasional use of a car."

For ordinary motorists struggling with their consciences, Monbiot's decision will come as no surprise and will prompt the obvious question: if one of the country's highest-profile green campaigners can't manage without a car, how can the average commuter? Monbiot admits he is open to charges of hypocrisy but says people he has so far confessed to have been understanding. "I still feel pretty awful about it," he admits. "The rule is, if it's at all possible to travel by any other means, then that's what we do. The car is a last resort and I haven't even used a tank of petrol yet." (The Clio is in fact a diesel.)



This is only a theory but so is what it displaces. It is however a theory based on new evidence

Don't look now, but another big chunk of the "evidence" for man-made global warming suddenly disappeared. Poof! Researchers just reported that the world's most recent case of "abrupt climate change" - which occurred a mere 12,000 years ago - was probably due to a comet strike, not to "climate sensitivity." The Younger Dryas occurred as an Ice Age was ending. As the climate began to warm, a huge and sudden rush of fresh meltwater broke out from the Great Lakes and swept out to sea. The water surge was monumental enough that the meltwater lowered the salinity of the ocean, shut down the Atlantic conveyor currents, which disperse the planet's heat, and threw the northern hemisphere back into another thousand years of Ice Age. It raised temperatures near Greenland by a startling 15 degrees C, even as it doubled annual rainfall.

Modern climatologists have savored the Younger Dryas event as massive evidence of what comes when we push the planet's climate too close to a "tipping point." Further human-driven warming, they say, will make such abrupt climate changes more likely, with searing droughts, torrential rainfall, and extreme heat. The National Academy of Sciences issued a 2002 report titled Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises, which said abrupt climate changes have been especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. According to that theory, greenhouse warming today could be drastically increasing risks from climate change.

At least, that's what the experts said until the latest meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Acapulco on May 23rd when James Kennett of the University of California/Santa Barbara presented evidence of a dramatically different cause for the Younger Dryas event: a comet that struck somewhere near the Great Lakes. "Highest concentrations of extraterrestrial impact materials occur in the Great Lakes area and spread out from there," Kennett says. "It would have had major effects on humans. Immediate effects would have been in the North and East, producing shockwaves, heat, flooding, wildfires, and a destruction and fragmentation of the human population."

Paleontologists had assumed a huge lake of meltwater accumulated near the Great Lakes due to the Ice Age ending, but had never located its possible site. Nor have they explained a thin layer of charred sediment found throughout North America that dates from 12,000 years ago. The sediment layer contains carbon spheres whose creation would have required temperatures of at least 4000 C. Electron microscopes reveal that the carbon beads contain tiny diamonds whose creation would have required enormous temperatures and pressures. The U.S. sediment layer does not contain much iridium, which is the telltale signal of an asteroid strike. That argues for a comet, made up primarily of "dirty ice," rather than an asteroid like the one which hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs.

Kennett says the ice sheet could have absorbed the impact of the comet's "dirty ice," even as the comet's heat produced the flood of meltwater. Kennett says the comet may have destroyed 15 mammal species and might have left only a few surviving humans from North America's early Clovis culture. America's bison survived, but much smaller in size and with a remarkable similarity in their DNA-indicating that they descended from a small group of comet survivors.

The comet theory comes as a crushing blow to the climate alarmists. It follows the publication of Unstoppable Global Warming-Every 1,500 Years, which assembles the historic and scientific evidence of a long, natural climate cycle that swings temperatures about 2-4 degrees C over its lifetime-accounting for the Medieval Warming, the Roman Warming and the Holocene Warming 5,000 years ago.

Then came Henrik Svensmark's demonstration at the Danish Space Research Institute, of how cosmic rays link changes in the sun's irradiance to the formation of the low, wet clouds that cover more than 20 percent of the earth. The clouds are nature's thermostats, deflecting more or less heat back out to space depending on the sun's strength.

Now the alarmists have lost the "abrupt climate change" of the Younger Dryas. More and more, recent science is pointing to our modern warming as being part of a 1500-year cycle that stretches back at least a million years. If the Younger Dryas was caused by a comet, perhaps we should rethink being frightened by the neighbor's SUV.



THE government's policy of promoting biofuels for transport will come under harsh attack this week from one of its senior science advisers. Roland Clift will tell a seminar of the Royal Academy of Engineering that the plan to promote bioethanol and biodiesel produced from plants is a "scam".

Clift, professor of environmental technology at Surrey University, sits on the scientific advisory council of Defra, David Miliband's environment department. He will tell the seminar that promoting the use of biofuels is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions. Clift's comments will amount to a direct challenge to Miliband, who has published a strategy promoting biofuels.

It coincides with a surge of anger among environmentalists over the weak pledges on climate change that emerged from last week's G8 summit. The audience on Thursday will also include Howard Dalton, Miliband's chief scientist at Defra, who is expected to speak in defence of biofuels.

Clift said: "Biodiesel is a complete scam because in the tropics the growing demand is causing forests to be burnt to make way for palm oil and similar crops. "We calculate that the land will need to grow biodiesel crops for 70-300 years to compensate for the CO2 emitted in forest destruction."

Clift will also condemn plans to produce British biodiesel from rapeseed, pointing to research showing the crop generates copious amounts of nitrous oxide - an even more powerful global warming gas than CO2

The attack comes as the government increases its support for biofuels. Next year it will introduce a requirement for 3% of all fuel sold on UK forecourts to come from a renewable source. Across the EU the renewable transport fuels obligation will increase this to 5% by 2010, with the British government pushing for a target of 10%. Miliband wants British farming to diversify into biofuels. "It is an important part of our vision for a diversified farming sector," he said in a recent speech.



Last week we held a school meeting to tackle the disturbing problem of childhood obesity. The jolly headmistress put forward a plan by which we should all subscribe to a binding target that the children will reduce their average weight by five kilos in five years' time. George, the school bully, disagreed. George said the targets plan was purely rhetorical and the operative date so far in the future that it relieved everyone of the burden of doing anything now. We would do better to focus on policies rather than statements of aspiration and undertake research and analysis of why children were so fat and what could be done about it.

But George is less fractious since the Iraqi gang started teasing him and we all went away having strongly agreed to consider losing weight. The rest of the world berates the US for failure to ratify the Kyoto treaty but it makes little difference whether countries adhere to the treaty or not. Apart from the estimable Swedes, the only important countries likely to come close to meeting their carbon reduction obligations are Britain and Germany, and these for unrelated reasons.

Margaret Thatcher took revenge on the union leader Arthur Scargill by closing coal production and market forces shut down the polluting heavy industry of the old communist provinces. The carbon emissions trading scheme borders on farce, doing little to reduce emissions but providing a subsidy to emitters. Angela Merkel, born in the east, would surely recognise the problem.

Planners at the centre, conjuring targets from the air and marshalling stage armies of workers and resources, were distant from the realities of what was happening on the ground. That dissonance leads to a frame of mind in which every failure is the preliminary to yet more heroic declaration. The general reaction to Kyoto's operational irrelevance has not been to ask why the agreement has failed to achieve its aims but to assert that we must embrace still more ambitious goals in a successor treaty.

It is boorish of the US to point out that this is humbug, but their offence is to articulate what any sensible person should feel. Energy, along with agriculture, is the last home of the methods of socialist planning. Agriculture exemplifies micro-management, in which yet more complex measures follow from the unintended consequences of earlier plans, and carbon trading promises to go the same way.

Energy offers an irresistible temptation to engage in long-range planning because of the extended lead times associated with investment in both production and consumption. All such planning requires that those who would undertake it hold information that they do not have and to which they cannot realistically aspire. Britain is still paying for the massive programme of investment in electricity generation begun in the 1960s, forged in the then prime minister Harold Wilson's "white heat of technology", language reminiscent of Mao's great leap forward and with results only somewhat less disastrous.

The plans ran massively over time and over budget, which mattered less than it might have because the capacity was not needed anyway. The antidote is modesty of aspiration and acknowledgement that many uncertainties cannot be resolved. Britain, perhaps alone in Europe, has learnt this lesson about energy policy, even though the preoccupation with climate change has revived the delusion that computer modelling can allow us to describe the future.

New investment has been small-scale and incremental and has required no leaps of faith or technological breakthroughs. So it should remain. In an uncertain world, successful economic development - whether directed towards economic growth or environmental friendliness - is piecemeal, tentative and adaptive. That is why we should not allow Europe's energy needs to be planned by multinational, multi-utility behemoths or set a target for the temperature of the world. It is also why when people tell us what the planet will or should be like in 2050, we should recall how large and unforeseeable have been the economic, political and environmental changes in every 50-year period for the past several centuries.



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 INTERNATIONAL, 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.


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