Friday, November 30, 2007


An email from Tim Ball []

International Herald Tribune 22 November: The Chinese Foreign Ministry representative Song Dong is singing the same song we heard about CFCs. China (and India) said you have received the benefits of CFCs with a 30% reduction in food loss through refrigeration. Now you are telling us that this chemical is destroying the ozone and we should therefore forego the benefits you have already obtained. The proposal was the West reduce their CFCs and allow China and developing nations to increase theirs. We said no. They said fine, then we won't sign the Montreal Protocol.

I appeared before a Canadian Parliamentary Committee on the ozone issue and raised questions about this unilateral application problem. The aide to the Chair scurried out and returned 10 minutes later with the information that China and India were only producing 5% of the world's CFC production. I replied, yes, now, but if China and India increase their production to provide refrigeration for over 2 billion consumers how was our objective obtained? They changed the subject.

There never was a single piece of scientific evidence of CFCs affecting ozone in the ozone layer, no more than there is for CO2 and climate change except in computer models. Later, the IPCC TAR report identified changes in solar radiation as the most likely cause of ozone variations. This is isn't surprising because as I told the Committee and anyone else who would listen that ozone is created by sunlight or at least the ultraviolet portion. At that time climate science was still locked into the concept of a solar constant even though solar physicists were describing it as a variable star.

This mentality carried over into climate studies and still predominates today as two of the major changes in solar activity (Milankovitch Effect and the relationship between solar magnetism and cosmic radiation) that affect climate are ignored. As environmental activists have cynically understood, once politicians have something in their heads facts and logic are redundant. They are doing the same thing with CO2 - the parallels between CFCs and CO2 are amazing and the only difference is the magnitude of impact on western economies are profound.


Dere's a hole in da bucket, Dear Liza, dear Liza!

China and India should be spared the full burden of fighting climate change, the United Nations said yesterday in an agenda-setting report published just days ahead of an intergovernmental conference to agree a successor to the Kyoto protocol. The report of the UN Development Programme recommends that countries such as China and India should be allowed to increase their emissions to 2020, then reduce them by only 20 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2050, while the rich industrialised countries shoulder a cut of 80 per cent.

The report will provide ammunition for developing countries wishing to avoid adopting stringent targets on emissions. Beijing, New Delhi and others have argued that rich countries carry more responsibility for the climate because most of the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere came from the growth of their industries. But the White House has stressed it would not sign up to an agreement that did not include China and other developing nations going through rapid industrialisation.

Heated discussions over the share of the burden that each country should take for cutting emissions are likely to be the main focus of UN talks on climate change beginning next week in Bali. The talks, the most important since the Kyoto protocol was drafted in 1997, will mark the first negotiations on a potential successor to the treaty, the main provisions of which expire in 2012.

The UNDP report estimates that the world needs to spend about 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product each year until 2030 in order to prevent emissions from rising to dangerous levels. In a sign of the scale of the task facing ministers at Bali, the report also risked opening old wounds by questioning whether the carbon-trading system established at Kyoto was less effective at reducing emissions than a carbon tax - such as the one proposed yesterday by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, in Beijing.

Kevin Watkins, lead author of the report, told the FT: "Long-term investment needs predictability of price, and a tax is the way to do that. Cap-and-trade is not particularly working. We need to develop the strategy into a carbon tax." Mr Watkins said cap-and-trade systems had a part to play in the short term but carbon taxes would be more effective in the longer term. "You could go for a really stringent cap-and-trade system in the short run then gradually introduce a tax, with cap-and-trade being phased down and the carbon tax phased up," he said.

But any debate over carbon taxes versus carbon trading could be damaging ahead of the negotiations for a successor to Kyoto. A debate raged for several years before it was resolved in favour of trading, enshrined in the Kyoto protocol. The world trade in carbon was worth more than $30bn (œ14.5bn, _20bn) last year, with most of the transactions taking place under the European Union's emissions trading system, designed to meet the bloc's Kyoto commitments.

Michael Grubb of Cambridge University said: "I find it extremely boring [to talk about taxes versus trading] as we did that 10 to 15 years ago. Taxes combine a price on carbon with a huge revenue transfer from business to government, which is a dumb place to start." Paul Klemperer, professor of economics at Oxford University, said there were sound economic reasons for preferring a tax, but warned that economists must also take politics into account, and a cap-and-trade system might be more palatable to voters than a tax. He said: "We are not in a perfect world so to take a position on this purely on economics would be foolish."

Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US and a prominent sceptic on global warming, said: "We are fairly confident that we can defeat a carbon tax in the US. Cap-and-trade is going to be harder to defeat if the Democrats gain more House and Senate seats in the next election and win the White House."



Gordon Brown today gave his unequivocal support for a third runway at Heathrow in an address to a conference of business leaders. Speaking at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, the prime minister said that business was right to call for airport expansion and that Britain's prosperity depended on it. "Even as we place strict local environmental limits on noise and air pollution and ensure that aviation pays its carbon costs, we have to respond to a clear business imperative and increase capacity at our airports," Brown said. "Our prosperity depends on it: Britain as a world financial centre must be readily accessible from around the world."

He added that the government had demonstrated its determination not to shirk the long-term decisions but to press ahead with a third runway. The prime minister's insistence that airport expansion is necessary comes a week after he set out his green vision for cutting C02 emissions in Britain by 60% by 2025.

Critics described Gordon Brown's plans for tackling climate change as "confusing and deeply worrying". "Last week he talked about making Britain a world leader in developing a low-carbon economy. But allowing airports to expand will seriously threaten our targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The Government must tackle aviation emissions. It should include the UK's share of carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation in its new Climate Change Bill, scrap airport expansion plans and fundamentally re-think this country's unsustainable transport strategy, " said Friends of the Earth director, Tony Juniper.

Other green campaigners questioned whether Mr Brown is capable of listening to responses to the public consultation over Heathrow which is currently underway. "You're left wondering if this prime minister is capable of listening to the public. He certainly doesn't seem to be listening to climate scientists," said Greenpeace's executive director, John Sauven.



In his recent testimony to the Iowa Utilities Board, Rev. James Hansen argued that the construction of a new coal-based power plant is equivalent to the holocaust. The trains that bring coal to the new power plant are nothing else than the death trains that were moving the Jews to extermination camps:

"... If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains - no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species ..."

Kraig Naasz, the president and CEO of the U.S. National Mining Association, suggested that this comparison was both repellant and preposterous. It trivializes the suffering of millions of people while it irrationally evaluates the actual reasons behind various climate phenomena: one additional power plant in the U.S. surely can be no "tipping point" especially when China builds a new plant every week.

Naasz recommended Hansen to apologize to the hard-working men and women in the coal mining and railroad industries. What did Mr Hansen do? You may guess.

Hansen sent Naasz a letter advocating additional delusions about an unprecedented motion towards a climate catastrophe. He has also confused the U.S. founding fathers with Lenin and Stalin when he mentioned that the U.S. founding fathers created America for [a couple of communist cliches]. And what about the very paragraph comparing power plants with the Nazi extermination camps?

Well, Mr Hansen simply repeated it and wrote that there was nothing scientifically invalid about the paragraph. If the paragraph makes Mr Naasz uncomfortable, maybe it should. ;-) Mr Hansen should be treated as a mentally ill person, the healthy people should be protected from him, and I assure you that there is nothing scientifically invalid about this sentence of mine. If it makes Mr Hansen or other lunatics feel uncomfortable, maybe it should.


Britain: Recycling isn't anything like as eco-friendly as its propagandists would have us believe

For obvious reasons I am not going to tell you where I live, but for aggrieved council taxpayers whose wheelie bins have been left unemptied because the lid wasn't quite shut I know of an alternative way of disposing of waste: come and dump it round my way. I can guarantee you that you won't get caught. Whenever a pile of rubbish has appeared illegally dumped on a roadside the council has scratched its head and come to the conclusion: sorry, there is not a lot we can do, other than to scrape it up at taxpayers' expense and sent it to landfill.

Illegal dumping is a problem that is only going to get worse as the Government continues its ham-fisted efforts to reach its recycling targets. Every time a local authority devises another punitive scheme - fining householders for the crime of failing to fulfil the evermore prescriptive rules for putting out the rubbish - it is another powerful incentive for antisocial householders to tip their rubbish under the nearest hedge. If I was the South Wales man fined recently because a single sheet of paper had found its way into the wrong recycling container I know what I would be tempted to do: deposit next week's rubbish on the council's doorstep.

We don't have a coherent strategy for dealing with waste. Rather, in recycling, the Government, local authorities and their contractors have discovered a very useful device for raising money and excusing slovenly service. Need some extra revenue and can't put council tax up any more? Fine those who put a tin can in a bag meant for plastic bottles. Need to slash your budget? Switch to fortnightly collections and say you are doing it to encourage recycling - even though in many countries with higher recycling rates than ours urban areas have daily waste collections.

Few conscientious, middle-class folk who sort out their waste into half a dozen different containers each week realise that technology already exists to make this palaver redundant. Many American cities have increased their recycling rates by switching to single-stream collections of recyclable waste that are then sorted in an automated plant. The collected waste is emptied on to a conveyor belt, where systems of magnets and optical scanners pick out most of what can be recycled, leaving humans to sort out the residue. When introduced in Maryland it resulted in 30 per cent more waste being recycled than under the previous system, where householders were made to sort out their recyclables by hand.

But I suspect it will be a long time before we see such technology here thanks to the near-religious fervour for recycling collections among British environmentalists. We are made to go through the weekly ritual of sorting our bottles from our magazines not because it is the best way of collecting recyclable material but because it is thought to be good for us.

The whole issue of recycling has been clouded by green ideology. The EU set it targets for increasing recycling back in 1999 without properly questioning whether that is always the best way of disposing of rubbish. That we can't go on covering the country with landfill sites is obvious, but it is far less clear-cut whether recycling or incinerating waste is the best environmental option. Recycling your plastic bottles may make you glow with virtue, but if they have to be carted halfway around the world to be recycled, and then large quantities of energy are consumed in the recyling process, it is far from obvious that you are doing the planet a good turn.

Alternatively, your plastic bottle could be burnt in a power station, its stored energy used to generate electricity that would otherwise require fossil fuels, and the waste heat distributed to local public buildings and homes. This is exactly what happens in the case of the Eastcroft combined heat and power plant, which has been consuming nearly a third of Nottinghamshire's waste since it opened in 1973. Further development on waste incinerators in Britain has stalled, however, thanks to the assumption that waste must be recycled at all costs.

In a retrospective attempt to justify the policy on recycling, the Government's waste quango, the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), recently asked the Technical University of Denmark to undertake a review of worldwide research on the debate between recycling and incineration and their respective contributions towards greenhouse gas emissions. The review has been quoted by green groups wanting to "debunk the myth" that recycling isn't all it is cracked up to be. But it fails to debunk anything. Of 37 studies into the issue of paper recycling, for example, six arrived at the conclusion that paper is better incinerated than recycled, and nine indicated it makes little difference environmentally either way. Of 42 studies into plastic recycling, eight concluded that plastic is better incinerated and two said there was little difference.

Notably, all but one of the remaining that came down in favour of recycling used the assumption that 100 per cent of the plastic could be recycled, which is not reflected in practice. In studies where a more realistic assumption was made, that 50 per cent of the plastic could be recovered, the conclusion was firmly that incineration was better for the environment.

In any case, none of the studies reflected what we know from anecdotal evidence happens in practice: that an unknown quantity of recyclable material exported to China ends up being burnt or dumped. It is certainly better for the British environment if waste is shipped off to China, but not so good for the Chinese who have to live with the consequences.

In some cases, recycling is unquestionably the best option. We have, after all, been melting down and recycling metals since long before the word recycling was invented, because it has made economic sense to do so. But to make a blanket assumption that only recycling can save the planet, as current policy says, owes more to religion than science. From the rats poking around unemptied dustbins in Barnet to the piles of smouldering plastic waste in backwoods China, this is a policy that needs urgent review.



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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