Wednesday, April 30, 2008


So put that in your pipe and smoke it! There's no way you could lean on THEM!

Russia will not accept binding caps on its greenhouse gas emissions under a new climate regime, currently being negotiated to succeed the Kyoto Protocol after 2012, top officials said on Monday. Kyoto puts a cap on the average, annual greenhouse gas emissions from 2008-12 for some 37 industrialised countries, including Russia. But former communist countries are well within their emissions targets, which are compared to 1990 levels, because their industries and carbon emissions subsequently collapsed after they struggled to adapt to free markets.

As a top energy producer and consumer, Russia welcomed the fact that Kyoto had not limited its carbon emissions and expected the same of any future climate deal, said Vsevolod Gavrilov, the official in charge of Russia's Kyoto obligations. "Energy must not be a barrier to our comfort. Our emerging middle class... demands lots of energy and it is our job to ensure comfortable supply," he said.

"We don't plan to limit the use of fuel for our industries. We don't think this would be right," he said, referring to the current round of Kyoto. Asked if Russia would resist capping the use of fossil fuels, which emit the planet-warming gas carbon dioxide when burned, under a new climate deal after 2012, he said:"In the foreseeable future, this will not be our model, no." He pointed out that the United States had also declined to impose emissions caps.

But Russia welcomed investment from other industrialised countries to help it clean up its energy and industry, saying in this way it could prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Under Kyoto, industrialised countries which are missing their emissions goals can pay for cuts elsewhere -- if that is cheaper -- getting carbon offsets in return.


Industrialised countries spent some 326 million euros last year buying such offsets from former communist countries, under Kyoto's Joint Implementation (JI) scheme. "We see (Kyoto) as a means, not as an end in itself... It is a way to get new technology for our industries," said Gavrilov.

A key way for Russia to profit from the planned 3 billion tonnes of emission reductions will be by trapping and processing natural gas, a by-product of oil production. By 2012, Russia has called for 95 percent of its associated gas to be harnessed and sold, whereas more than 25 percent of it is currently flared, wasting 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

"Why is the flaring of gas so common? It's because of economic barriers to building infrastructure that will process it," said Mikhail Stavsky, vice president of Russia's largest oil firm, Rosneft. With the help of trading in carbon offsets, Stavsky said that the profitability of such gas harnessing will roughly double, and the return on investment in the projects will come in 7 years, compared to 17 years without Kyoto.

Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom will also use these mechanisms to harness the gas, said Alexander Ishkov, the head of its energy saving and environmental department. "We are expecting to cut tens of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent" by 2012, he said.

Out of the twelve emissions-reduction projects that have applied for JI approval, several are from companies at least partly owned by Gazprom, Oleg Pluzhnikov, Gavrilov's deputy at the Economy Ministry, told Reuters. "They are keeping a low profile for now. But when they see it working, I think they will put their name behind it."



The Green/Left elite finally notice the workers

Coverage about global warming in UK tabloid newspapers has been significantly divergent from the scientific consensus that humans contribute to climate change. That's according to Max Boykoff and Maria Mansfield of the University of Oxford, UK, who studied papers from 2000 to 2006. "This was surprising, because in other research on the UK broadsheet newspapers I've found that this coverage has been quite accurate," Boykoff told environmentalresearchweb. "We hope that this work will encourage tabloid newspapers to reflect further on the accuracy of their reporting on human contributions to climate change, particularly given their high readership in the UK publics. Contrarian comments in a column by Michael Hanlon in the Daily Mail or Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun may be off-the-cuff or playful at times, but they have a tremendous influence on how readership may understand climate change science and policy."

The team found that the Daily Mail was more divergent from the scientific consensus than other tabloid newspapers. There were generally two main influences behind the tabloids' divergence. "First was reliance on the journalistic norm of balance, where roughly equal attention was placed the view that humans contribute to climate change, and that our contribution is negligible," said Boykoff. "I had found this journalistic norm as influential in other earlier work on US newspaper and television coverage of anthropogenic climate change."

And secondly, almost a third of the divergent coverage was attributed to 'contrarian' views that make claims that humans' role in climate change is negligible. Tabloids have an important influence on public opinion in the UK as they have average daily circulations as much as ten times higher than many broadsheet newspapers. "Assessments of UK media influence on science-policy interactions have tended to focus on the broadsheet or 'quality' press sources - the Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times and Times of London," said Boykoff. "However, we argue that these analyses have suffered from a blind spot in considerations, by overlooking what are called the 'tabloid press' - The Sun (and News of the World), Daily Mail (and Mail on Sunday), the Daily Express (and Sunday Express), and the Mirror (and Sunday Mirror)."

And readers of tabloids tend to come from different socio-economic backgrounds to broadsheet consumers, typically being more working class. "While these segments of the population have been of secondary importance in previous science-policy and science-media-policy analyses, such examinations need to take on a more central role, as these citizens make up critical components of potential social movements and public pressure for improved climate policy action," said Boykoff.

Many media workers interviewed for the study highlighted the political and economic constraints they face in reporting climate change. "For example, with little specialist science training it was challenging to cover the intricacies of climate change while they were also covering a broad range of other news 'beats'," said Boykoff. "There remain few science and environment correspondents in the UK tabloid newspapers, and this has been a challenge for accurate climate change reporting."

Boykoff and Mansfield have also been studying how various climate change issues are framed in the UK tabloid press, and the tone of the coverage. "From this, I am examining how these factors influence considerations of market-based and regulatory interventions to grapple with ongoing environmental challenges," said Boykoff. The researchers reported their work in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters.


NOTE from Benny Peiser, mentioning his skeptical CCNet newsletter: "Max Boykoff seems to blame a lack of scientific understanding among tabloid journalists for their more critical and less compliant climate change reporting. I rather doubt that lack of understanding is the underlying reason why some of these journalists, from time to time, provide more balanced and less one-sided views on climate change issues. After all, there are more than 30 journalists from the four UK tabloids mentioned (Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Mirror and The Sun) who receive CCNet on a daily basis. I would suggest that many of these journalists are very well informed about the scientific, economic and political controversies that are inherent in the climate debates. It would appear that the main difference between broadsheets and tabloids is that the latter choose to report, from time to time, about conflicting views and research - while the former, most of the time, tend to ignore or stifle them."

Greenies goof again

The worldwide effort by supermarkets and industry to replace conventional oil-based plastic with eco-friendly "bioplastics" made from plants is causing environmental problems and consumer confusion, according to a Guardian study. The substitutes can increase emissions of greenhouse gases on landfill sites, some need high temperatures to decompose and others cannot be recycled in Britain. Many of the bioplastics are also contributing to the global food crisis by taking over large areas of land previously used to grow crops for human consumption.

The market for bioplastics, which are made from maize, sugarcane, wheat and other crops, is growing by 20-30% a year. The industry, which uses words such as "sustainable", "biodegradeable", "compostable" and "recyclable" to describe its products, says bioplastics make carbon savings of 30-80% compared with conventional oil-based plastics and can extend the shelf-life of food.

Concern centres on corn-based packaging made with polylactic acid (Pla). Made from GM crops, it looks identical to conventional polyethylene terephthalate (Pet) plastic and is produced by US company NatureWorks. The company is jointly owned by Cargill, the world's second largest biofuel producer, and Teijin, one of the world's largest plastic manufacturers. Pla is used by some of the biggest supermarkets and food companies, including Wal-Mart, McDonald's and Del Monte. It is used by Marks & Spencer to package organic foods, salads, snacks, desserts, and fruit and vegetables. It is also used to bottle Belu mineral water, which is endorsed by environmentalists because the brand's owners invest all profits in water projects in poor countries. Wal-Mart has said it plans to use 114m Pla containers over the course of a year.

While Pla is said to offer more disposal options, the Guardian has found that it will barely break down on landfill sites, and can only be composted in the handful of anaerobic digesters which exist in Britain, but which do not take any packaging. In addition, if Pla is sent to UK recycling works in large quantities, it can contaminate the waste stream, reportedly making other recycled plastics unsaleable.

Last year Innocent drinks stopped using Pla because commercial composting was "not yet a mainstream option" in the UK. Anson, one of Britain's largest suppliers of plastic food packaging, switched back to conventional plastic after testing Pla in sandwich packs. Sainsbury's has decided not to use it, saying Pla is made with GM corn. "No local authority is collecting compostable packaging at the moment. Composters do not want it," a spokesman said.

Britain's supermarkets compete to claim the greatest commitment to the environment with plant-based products. The bioplastics industry expects rising oil prices to help it compete with conventional plastics, with Europe using about 50,000 tonnes of bioplastics a year. Concern is mounting because the new generation of biodegradable plastics ends up on landfill sites, where they degrade without oxygen, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This week the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration reported a sharp increase in global methane emissions last year.

"It is just not possible to capture all the methane from landfill sites," said Michael Warhurt, resources campaigner at Friends of the Earth. "A significant percentage leaks to the atmosphere." "Just because it's biodegradable does not mean it's good. If it goes to landfill it breaks down to methane. Only a percentage is captured," said Peter Skelton of Wrap, the UK government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme. "In theory bioplastics are good. But in practice there are lots of barriers."

Recycling companies said they would have to invest in expensive new equipment to extract bioplastic from waste for recycling. "If we could identify them the only option would be to landfill them," said one recycler who asked to remain anonymous. "They are not wanted by UK recycling companies or local authorities who refuse to handle them. Councils are saying they do not want plastics near food collection. If these biodegradable [products] get into the recycling stream they contaminate it. "It will get worse because the government is encouraging more recycling. There will be much more bioplastic around."

Problems arise because some bioplastics are "home" compostable and recyclable. "It's so confusing that a Pla bottle looks exactly the same as a standard Pet bottle," Skelton said. "The consumer is not a polymer expert. Not nearly enough consideration has gone into what they are meant to do with them. Everything is just put in the recycling bin."

Yesterday NatureWorks accepted that its products would not fully break down on landfill sites. "The recycling industry in the UK has not caught up with other countries" said Snehal Desai, chief marketing officer for NatureWorks. "We need alternatives to oil. UK industry should not resist change. We should be designing for the future and not the past. In central Europe, Taiwan and elsewhere, NatureWorks polymer is widely accepted as a compostable material."

Other users said it was too soon to judge the new technology. "It's very early days," said Reed Paget, managing director of Belu. "The UK packaging industry does not want competition. It's shortsighted and is blocking eco-innovation." Belu collects its bottles and now sends them to mainland Europe. "People think that biodegradable is good and non-biodegradable is bad. That's all they see," said Chris Goodall, environmental analyst and author of How to Live a Low-carbon Lifestyle. "I have been trying to compost bags that are billed as 'biodegradable' and 'home compostable' but I have completely failed. They rely on the compost heap really heating up but we still find the residues."

Bioplastics compete for land with biofuels and food crops. About 200,000 tonnes of bioplastics were produced last year, requiring 250,000-350,000 tonnes of crops. The industry is forecast to need several million acres of farmland within four years.

There is also concern over the growing use by supermarkets of "oxy-degradable" plastic bags, billed as sustainable. They are made of conventional oil-based plastic, with an additive that enables the plastic to break down. The companies promoting it claim it reduces litter and causes no methane or harmful residues. They are used by Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut and KFC in the US, and Tesco and the Co-op in the UK for "degradable" plastic carrier bags. Some environmentalists say the terminology confuses the public. "The consumer is baffled," a Wrap briefing paper said. "It considers these products degradable but ... they will not degrade effectively in [the closed environment of] a landfill site." A spokesman for Symphony Plastics disputed that. "Oxy-bioplastic can be re-used and recycled, but will degrade and disappear in a short timescale", he said.


A Greenie recognizes Green Fascism

He seems unaware, though, that Fascism and environmentalism were associated from the beginning -- particularly in "Das dritte Reich". See here.

Here is something all right-thinking liberals can agree on. Saving the planet is good; manipulating humanity through eugenics is bad. The trouble is that these two ethical opposites come together when we talk about population control as a means of protecting the environment. Most of us breed. And those of us who do have one ecological footprint in common: our offspring. Me included. So all greens have to ask: is having babies bad for the planet?

Fair enough. But there is another question that I find increasingly being asked. Should we be trying to stop others having babies, especially people in poor countries with fast-growing populations?

I must say I thought this kind of illiberal thinking had been banished from the environmental movement. But it keeps seeping back. When I give public talks on climate change, I am often asked if all the efforts in the rich world won't be wiped out by rising populations in the poor world.

Isn't overpopulation more dangerous than overconsumption? I say no. But the unpalatable truth is that a lot of environmental thinking over the past half century has been underpinned by an unhealthy preoccupation with the breeding propensity of Asians and Africans. They were, it was often held, polluting the human gene pool as well as the planet. Such thinking was not fringe: it involved some of the great names of the environment movement.

So the American academic Garrett Hardin said in his classic and still-revered environment text Tragedy of the Commons in 1968, "Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all." It must be "relinquished to preserve and nurture other and more precious freedoms." Lest we have any doubt who should do the relinquishing, he wrote elsewhere about how college students should have more children than those with low IQs.

Or take Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb from the same era. That book said the world could no longer feed itself and called for population control "by compulsion if voluntary methods fail." Meanwhile the British book Blueprint for Survival, published by The Ecologist magazine, sided with the demagogue-of-the-day Enoch Powell in calling for "an end to immigration". Far from being ostracised as a right-wing tract, its recipe was supported by Friends of the Earth and Peter Scott, the TV wildlife king and founder of the World Wildlife Fund. And this is not ancient history. Only recently, US groups opposed to all migration tried to get their policies adopted by the blue-chip environment group, the Sierra Club. To many they sounded like a fringe group. Actually they were an echo of the earlier mainstream.

And the echo is becoming louder. We hear it in the climate change debate. No matter that the average European or North American has carbon emissions 10 times greater than the average Indian or African, somehow it is those pesky breeding foreigners who are really to blame. And now food shortages are growing and we will get more. Ehrlich, we are bound to be told, was right after all. You have been warned: green fascism could soon be on the march.


The Precautionary Principle: Possibly the biggest sham of our time

Post below recycled from Depleted Cranium.

A Precautionary principle sounds logical: When you aren’t sure if something might cause harm, be careful and don’t do anything that could be dangerous, especially to anything really important like human lives, the environment and so on. It also seems like it would not be a new or revolutionary concept. However, Precautionary Principle is really a lot more extreme and a lot less common sense than one might think.

The term actually dates back to 1998, when The Wingspread Conference on the Precautionary Principle was convened by the Science and Environmental Health Network was issued the statement: ”

“When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

And with this one statement, “Precautionary Principle” became the next big thing and was totally the “in” concept for everyone in the enviro-political movement to go to workshops on and state talking about - just to show how up to date they are.

The concept was pushed as if it were somehow amazing and should be the guiding principle behind EVERYTHING. The EU formally adopted Precautionary Principle in 2000 as the fundamental basis of environmental policy, without really ever defining what it was or how it should be applied. Not surprisingly, San Fransisco in the US has adopted the policy as well.

But there’s a problem. precautionary principle assumes that something should be considered harmful or potentially harmful until proven otherwise. Depending on your definition of “proof,” you may run into some problems here. If one goes by the principle that nothing in science is ever proven true beyond any doubt, then you automatically have a paradox where it is impossible to ever do anything on the grounds that it might possibly maybe be harmful.

In precautionary principle, no evidence is needed that something is harmful or even could be harmful. No plausible reason to believe it could be harmful is needed either. In many cases no amount of scientific evidence against the thesis that something is harmful ever seems to be reasonable to counter the argument that something is “not proven safe.” Good scientists are often reluctant to state something is “impossible” - for example, the designer of a nuclear reactor may be highly confident that the reactor will never melt down and that even if it did the containment vessel would hold the material. But despite this, the designer would understandably be reluctant to say it *cannot* happen. After all, it’s not impossible that the containment structure won’t be breached by a hit by a massive meteor, even if it is astronomically unlikely.

In this circumstance, precautionary principle moves the burden of proof, creating a ridiculous burden to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that any claim of harm, no matter how far fetched is 100% false. Since no evidence is ever needed to make a claim and no reasoning for the claim is required either, it’s possible to claim anything might be harmful in one way or another.

Therefore by this logic:

“I think CF lightbulbs will increase the number of herpes cases.”


“I just do. I think I had a dream about it or something.”

“Is there proof to the contrary?”

“No no studies have ever been done into the use of CF lightbulbs and the transmission of herpes”

“Can we do one?”

“Yes, but it’s hard, if not impossible to be totally conclusive about that kind of link, especially if it’s small.”

“Therefore we must ban CF lightbulbs”

On the risk of doing nothing:

Another big issue with “precuationary principle” is that it assumes that it is always best to do nothing when the action is not proven beyond the smallest shadow of a doubt to be harmful. However, since it always favors inaction, this can be significantly worse than taking an action. For one thing, refusing to accept anything new or anything which might possibly be harmful will tend to have economic and societal consequences, which although indirect, can lead to a much greater harm to life health and the environment.

Furthermore, failure to take an action or adopt a method or technology will always favor approaches of inaction which will commonly have a greater impact. For example, if seat belts were a new technology, one might be able to use precautionary principle to argue that there is no proof that they will not injure the body by trying to stop it too quickly or that they will not trap people in burning cars. One might even go as far as to say that there is no proof that they will not have the effect of making people feel secure and therefore drive more erratically and therefore cost lives. Thus, by precautionary principle, no matter how many crash test studies are done and no matter how much theory and design goes into seat belts, there would be grounds for banning them.

This presents another paradox because precautionary principle does not allow for any kind of “risk management” or “acceptably small risk” no matter how small. It can be taken to the point of being ridiculous and often is. It does not allow for any assessment of the risk of inaction. Building a cell phone tower near a school would be considered to be against precautionary principle because there “may be some risk,” but it does not consider that if it were not built near the school it may be more difficult to build and therefore put the lives of workers in more danger. It may also offer poorer coverage and therefore cost the life of a motorist who is unable to call in an emergency. These possibilities, though small, are certainly no smaller than the risk of building near a school.

Example of Applying Precautionary Principle to Inaction:

“The house is on fire. We had better put it out with this extinguisher before the fire spreads and consumes the house.”

“How do we know the extinguisher will not make it worse? Perhaps the extinguisher is full of gasoline and pressured with propane instead of CO2.”

“But how could that happen?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps someone filled it with gas as a joke. Perhaps someone who did not understand the English writing on it believed it was a gas container and filled it.”

“That sounds far fetched.”

“Yes but you cannot prove it could not happen. We have no proof this is not the case.”

“You are right, by precautionary principle we should not attempt to put out the fire.”

Some common sense and when to be cautious:

If you’re not absolutely certain something is safe, then you probably shouldn’t bet your life or anyone else’s on it. Sounds like common sense, right? And in general it is. This is why, even if an aircraft company is pretty damn sure their latest design is totally safe and reliable from wind tunnel testing and calculations, they still build a prototype and give it a good shakedown with an experienced test pilot before it gets the all clear to carry passengers. This is why drugs are tested on tissue cultures, animals and controlled volunteer groups many times before they are put out on the market. It’s also why lifeboats are installed on ships, even if the owners are really damn sure that the ship is not going to sink. It’s always a good idea to take that extra measure of security in case you’re wrong.

In engineering a concept which is goes along these lines is called “factor of safety.” It basically means the margin between what stresses an item is going to be subjected and the stresses that would cause it to fail. Factor of safety tends to be very high for items where there is any uncertainty involved and where a failure could be catastrophic. Exactly how much of a factor of safety is considered necessary depends on certain things. In circumstances where a failure could result in a loss of life, factor of safety is generally high. This is especially true whenever there are uncertainties, such as when a certain type of structure is being built for the first time or in high risk environments like space flight or submarines.

For example, if a bridge is intended to carry a certain amount of traffic, then the design will call for enough strength to support the maximum possible load expected on the bridge, plus an extra load beyond its intended capacity. The reason is simple: to insure a comfortable margin of safety so even if one of the calculations is a little off or if one of the gutters has an undetected flaw in it or even if there has been some damage to the bridge, everyone can rest assured that it won’t come crashing down. (At least, it is not supposed to. If not maintained properly or too much load is placed on it.. well that’s another thing.)

Engineers are asked to work between opposing forces of safety and cost. In many cases, a large factor of safety is practical because the cost of adding more material than is absolutely necessary is nominal. However, in some cases, there is also a need to keep effeciency of materials and construction to the maximum. An example of this is aircraft. Building an aircraft considerably stronger than it needs to be for routine operation would add too much weight and could actually effect safety (as well as effeciency and performance) negatively. In such circumstances, the factor of safety may be smaller, but in order to achieve this while still maintaining acceptable confidence in the safety of the aircraft, the degree of uncertainty must be reduced, thus necessitating rigorous testing and quality control.

Another application of “factor of safety” can be found in pharmaceuticals. In general, doctors are not permitted to prescribe the amount of a medication which would theoretically kill a patient. They’re not even allowed to prescribe anything close to it. Furthermore the greater the difference between a therapeutic dose of a drug is from the lethal dose of the drug is, the greater the factor of safety and thus the safer the drug is considered. Drugs with smaller factors of safety are always monitored very carefully, but those which have very little chance of causing problems are not subjected to the same scrutiny. A drug with a small factor of safety might be considered unsuitable for situations where it is not completely necessary to preserve life or health.

In a few circumstances, there is known to be a very high probability of danger or there are great unknowns. In these circumstances it is considered justified to expend more on safety than would be normally considered necessary in other circumstances. A case in point would be sending men to the moon. The Apollo program had vigorous safety measures, which were increased after the tragic Apollo-1 accident. Despite being tested on static stands and simulations, all rocket stages were tested without humans on board before being used for a manned flight. The Apollo command and lunar modules were completed by Apollo-7, but they were tested in earth orbit and then in lunar orbit before the first attempt to land on the moon. The first landing was brief and carried sparse equipment to save capacity. Later landings increased capability and duration. These safety measure would prove worth their price when Apollo-13 was nearly lost. Despite all the safety measures taken on the program, it was still understood to be a high risk mission and was undertaken by astronauts who understood the dangers. Richard Nixon’s speech writers had even prepared a speech to be given in the event of a loss of the crew.

Precautionary Principle: This is where common sense gets twisted into something very nonsensical.

Case in point: Cell Phone Towers and Wireless Transmitters

According to some, precautionary principle should be applied to cell phone transmitters and other RF devices. The proposals are to restrict the deployment of such towers and to especially assure that they are never placed remotely near to residential structures, schools, population centers and similar. Furthermore, proposals have been made for shielding on buildings in order to reduce exposure.

The consequences of doing so would include great expense on both mobile companies and customers, dramatically reduced quality of service and the need for cell phones to transmit at higher power levels in many areas, thereby actually increasing local RF field intensity. Such restrictions would also dramatically reduce the potential revenue to site owners from leases, including excluding schools and public property from lucrative site leases. Furthermore, the reduced quality of service can impact the use of cell phones for reporting emergencies as well as the ability of the system to triangulate the location of emergency calls. Because many of these protests also address government and dispatch radio services, such as TETRA, restrictions can also have an impact on the quality and reliability of communications to first responders, law enforcement and other emergency services.

Reasons not to worry:

-Extensive scientific study has failed to find any proof or even solid evidence showing any adverse health effects.

-Several extremely large and well controlled studies have been done on the subject and approved by well respected and credible scientific bodies.

-The inverse square law assures that any RF radiation exposure is extremely small at a normal distance from the transmitter.

-The levels at the base of a transmitter are often lower than those near a phone or even around wireless headsets, baby monitors, remote controls and alike.

-More than a half century of use of UHF and microwave communications, many much more powerful has failed to produce any noticable effects on health at low levels.

-The exposure limits set for RF radiation from transmitters are significantly lower than the levels at which damage to health has even been shown to be possible.

-No credible mechanism by which low-level RF radiation could have chronic health effects has been proposed.

-All or nearly all the claims of electrosensitivity, acute effects, health problems around transmitters and alike have failed to be verified by scientific tests, but they are very easily explained by very well established psycological and sociological effects which are analogous to numerous other cases seen throughout history.

Reasons to worry:

-RF radiation fields are rare, but not unheard of in natural settings where humans evolved.

-A lot of people have claimed that they could be harmful, although no valid evidence has been produced.

-RF radiation is known to be hazardous at very high levels, although this is primarily due to dielectric heating.

- It is remotely possible that a long term health effect from exposure to RF fields exists, but is so extremely weak and exists in so few cases that it has failed to stand out from the statistical noise despite the extensive studies done. Long-term associations with conditions like cancer can be difficult to verify when the link is not statistically strong and clear-cut.

The Interest in Precautionary Principle:

One might think that something as general as “Precautionary Principle” would not really be exciting enough to have any organizations devoted to it. This is not the case, however. There are several organizations which not only support Precautionary Principle, but have made it a major part of their reason for being or are entirely dedicated to the idea of precautionary principle. Seems a bit strange really to sit around and talk about precautions and how they can be stretched to the extreme, but that’s what they do!


The Precautionary Principle Project - The Environmental Research Foundation

The Science And Environmental Health Network

Taking Precaution - The Bay Area Precautionary Principle Working Group

Environmental Commons

Be Safe Precautionary Campaign

Southeast Regional Precautionary Conference

The Center For Health, Environment and Justice

A Small Dose of Toxicology

Oregon Center for Environmental Health


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.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Newsweak makes some interesting admissions

Article below on global warming's absence as a campaign issue makes two observations that are true, critical, and almost never admitted by the chattering class. First, only the (bi-coastal) elite are interested in the issue or deeply concerned. Second, reducing emissions will be hugely expensive. But in their typical Left-Elitist way they do not even consider the possibility that people may have good reason for being skeptical of the scare

In the summer of 2006 I went to see Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who was running the Democrats' successful effort to regain control of the House of Representatives. I had been reading a great deal about global warming in the mainstream press ("Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid" warned Time). So I asked Emanuel, how are the environment and global warming playing out there in the heartland? Is it stirring voters? No, he replied. In the 2006 congressional elections global warming was virtually a nonissue, he said, a low-priority item way behind the war and the economy and old staples like education and health care. Global warming is an issue for the elites, he said, not for the average voter.That's still true. The mainstream media continues to write urgently about global warming. Last month NEWSWEEK asked on its cover which candidate will be the most green. On Sunday the New York Times Magazine produced a special issue on how to reduce your carbon footprint-from changing your light bulbs to walking more to eating "slow food." Any reader of old-line mainstream media-the traditional news source of the upper middle class-would think that the country is rallying to a crisis.

But the disconnect persists. National polls show that the environment ranks fairly low as an issue that moves voters. In the Pennsylvania primary global warming was such a peripheral issue that exit pollsters did not even bother to measure voter attitudes toward it. Many younger voters wish the candidates would talk more about global warming. But most voters worry more about jobs and keeping fuel cheap. Aside from speaking in broad generalities and making vague promises, the candidates steer away from involved debate on global warming. (Enabled, it should be said, by political reporters. Of the more than 3,000 questions asked in the more than 20 presidential debates, fewer than 10 mentioned global warming.)There is an enormous class divide on the subject. The chattering classes obsess about greenhouse emissions. The rest of the country, certainly the older and less well-off voters, can't be bothered. Slow food to most people means that the waitress at the local IHOP is falling behind. The politicians duck the issue, or so it seems.

It may be, though, that the politicians know something they are not saying-and that the green-conscious upper classes do not wish to confront. Making a serious dent in global warming would be hugely costly. Fueled by population growth and a growing prosperity in underdeveloped parts of the world, greenhouse emissions will more than double by 2050, according to most estimates. About three-quarters of the growth will come in developing countries like China and India that, for understandable reasons, are not about to forgo economic growth at a time when their average citizen still consumes about a fifth as much energy as the average American.

President Bush talks about cutting the rate of growth by 20 percent or so. But that won't do much to keep the temperatures down or the seas from rising. Other politicians posture. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger boasts of a plan to drastically cut his state's greenhouse emissions. But he doesn't spell out how this goal can be achieved.The only way to get from here to there on slashing greenhouse emissions is by massively enforcing limits on consumption, which means heavy regulation, or much higher taxes. Or by developing breakthrough technologies, like a way to cheaply recapture carbon emissions or safer nuclear technology. (The technology has to be so cheap that China and India will buy it.) Higher oil prices will stimulate investment in alternative fuel sources, but every halfway believable estimate leaves us still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.It would be nice to hope that the scientists will solve our problems, and I pray for them. But the politicians will have to get involved and put the thumb of government on the scale-and then lean hard. That means calling for sacrifice-serious wartime sacrifice.


If lies and misrepresentations earned you the name "Hero of the planet", you might well keep repeating them too

Immortalized by Ernest Hemingway, the fabled snows of Mount Kilimanjaro look like a mere dusting [Groan! How often does that nonsense have to be debunked?]. Lake Chad, once a major African water resource, is now only 10 percent of what its surface area was decades earlier. And closer to home, Montana's Glacier National Park seems a misnomer as the ice mass continues to recede. "I'm showing you these not so that you should be panicked," Christiana Figueres said. "We should be more than panicked."

The author and Kyoto Protocol negotiator for the United Nations spoke yesterday morning before an audience of about 250 in the PepsiCo Theater at Norwalk Community College. Figueres, whom National Geographic and the Ford Motor Co. dubbed "Hero of the Planet" in 2001, was speaking as part of an Earth Day 2008 celebration sponsored by NCC's Student World Assembly. She had been invited by Madeline Barillo, the college's director of public relations....

Figueres cited climate changes due to deforestation and dependence on fossil fuels that have increased the planet's greenhouse gases. She said that scientists have discovered that dips and swells in atmospheric carbon dioxide "over the past 600,000 years," have been pretty consistent, with maximum carbon dioxide levels of less than 300 parts per million. That number is now 380 parts per million, she said, "and within 40 years, we will be at carbon dioxide concentrations we can't predict." "Lo and behold, we have one home, our planet," Figueres said. "We are all absolutely interconnected and interrelated." For example, rising temperatures that caused Lake Chad to shrivel resulted in a mass migration to Darfur, which, in turn, led to genocide.

Figueres also described doomsday scenarios in which melting polar ice caps would cause water levels to rise, flooding sections of Manhattan and Florida, and wiping the Maldive islands in the Indian Ocean off the map. Underscoring that this is not apocalyptic hyperbole, Figueres noted that 10 of the hottest years on record occurred in the last 14 years, with 2005 being the hottest [An outright lie. 1998 was the hottest].

Yet Figueres offered some hope. "The good news is that it can be averted," she said, mentioning alternative energy resources and the benefits of cutting carbon emissions. "We have a psychological barrier," she said before the talk. "It's not even a technological barrier, because the technology is there. The problem is that we've grown comfortable in our obsolete ways."

NCC student Matt Loter, president of the school's Student World Assembly, said Figueres was the perfect choice for a speaker on Earth Day because "of the interconnectedness of the world in all the decisions we make. "It's the idea of getting people to think on the global and local scale, and the changes you can make in both."


Another university that dislikes intellectual diversity

Good evidence of intellectual mediocrity

By pioneering the science of seasonal hurricane forecasting and teaching 70 graduate students who now populate the National Hurricane Center and other research outposts, William Gray turned a city far from the stormy seas into a hurricane research mecca. But now the institution in Fort Collins, Colo., where he has worked for nearly half a century, has told Gray it may end its support of his seasonal forecasting. As he enters his 25th year of predicting hurricane season activity, Colorado State University officials say handling media inquiries related to Gray's forecasting requires too much time and detracts from efforts to promote other professors' work.

But Gray, a highly visible and sometimes acerbic skeptic of climate change, says that's a "flimsy excuse" for the real motivation - a desire to push him aside because of his global warming criticism. Among other comments, Gray has said global warming scientists are "brainwashing our children."

Now an emeritus professor, Gray declined to comment on the university's possible termination of promotional support. But a memo he wrote last year, after CSU officials informed him that media relations would no longer promote his forecasts after 2008, reveals his views: "This is obviously a flimsy excuse and seems to me to be a cover for the Department's capitulation to the desires of some (in their own interest) who want to rein in my global warming and global warming-hurricane criticisms," Gray wrote to Dick Johnson, head of CSU's Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and others.

The university may have moderated its stance since last year. Officials said late last week that they intend to support the release of Gray's forecasts as long as they continue to be co-authored by Phil Klotzbach, a former student of Gray's who earned his doctorate last summer, and as long as Klotzbach remains at CSU. When Klotzbach leaves, he will either produce the seasonal forecasts at his new position, or end them altogether.

Not only does this internal dispute reveal a bit of acrimony at the end of Gray's long career at CSU; it highlights the politically charged atmosphere that surrounds global warming in the United States. "Bill Gray has come under a lot of fire for his views," said Channel 11 meteorologist Neil Frank, a former director of the National Hurricane Center and a friend of Gray's. "If, indeed, this is happening, it would be really sad that Colorado State is trying to rein in Bill Gray."

CSU officials insist that is not the case. The dean of the College of Engineering, which oversees atmospheric sciences, said she spoke with Gray about terminating media support for his forecasts solely because of the strain it placed on the college's sole media staffer. "It really has nothing to do with his stand on global warming," said the dean, Sandra Woods. "He's a great faculty member. He's an institution at CSU." According to Woods, Gray's forecasts require about 10 percent of the time a media support staff member, Emily Wilmsen, has available for the College of Engineering and its 104 faculty members.

A professor of public relations at Boston University, Donald Wright, questioned why the university would want to pull back its support for Gray now, after he has published his forecasts for a quarter-century. "It's seems peculiar that this is happening now," Wright said. "Given the national reputation that these reports have, you would think the university would want to continue to promote these forecasts." Gray, he said, seems to deliver a lot of publicity bang for the buck. The seasonal forecasts are printed in newspapers around the country and splashed across the World Wide Web.

There also seems to be little question that prominent climate scientists have complained to CSU about Gray's vocal skepticism. The head of CSU's Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Dick Johnson, said he has received many comments during recent years about Gray - some supportive, and some not. The complaints have come as Gray became increasingly involved in the global warming debate. His comments toward adversaries often are biting and adversarial. In 2005, when Georgia Tech scientist Peter Webster co-authored a paper suggesting global warming had caused a spike in major hurricanes, Gray labeled him and others "medicine men" who were misleading the public.

Webster, in an e-mail from Bangladesh, where is working on a flood prediction project, acknowledged that he complained to Johnson at CSU. "My only conversation with Dick Johnson, which followed a rather nasty series of jabs from Gray, suggested that Bill should be persuaded to lay off the personal and stay scientific," Webster wrote....

Although he ceded lead authorship of the forecasts to Klotzbach in 2006, Gray has remained the headliner in storm prognostication. He annually is among the most popular draws at the National Hurricane Conference. In recent years, as he has increasingly made sharp public comments about global warming, Gray quickly became one of the most prominent skeptics because of his long background in atmospheric sciences. His views on the climate - he says Earth is warming naturally and soon will begin cooling - have been applauded by some scientists, particularly meteorologists such as Frank. But they are out of step with mainstream climate science. The most recent report by an international group of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, concluded that there was 90 percent certainty that human activity had caused recent warming of the planet.

Yet at U.S. universities, threats to the rights of scientists who hold minority viewpoints are generally frowned upon. A prominent legal scholar, Stanley Fish of Florida International University, said university public relations offices should not pick and choose where resources go, based upon the content of a professor's work. "If it can in any way be established that (Gray's) global warming views were the basis of this action, then it is an improper action," Fish said.

In his memo, Gray clearly indicates that he believes his academic freedom is imperiled: "For the good of all of us in the Department, the College and at CSU, please believe me when I say this is not a direction any of you want to go," he wrote. "Our department and college are strong enough to be able to tolerate a dissenting voice on the global warming question."



As world food and energy prices rise, look for the policy community to come up with new rounds of explanations and fresh batches of bad policy. A current favourite among United Nations' operatives and the CBC is to blame the current all-purpose whipping boy for adverse economic developments: hedge funds and speculators.

No doubt speculators are playing the food and energy markets. But speculators don't make much of a scene working stable commodities and smooth-functioning markets. It's a dull business of dodging and covering and protecting, as buyers and sellers play out strategies to offset their risks. Speculation is a hot business only when outside forces conspire to upset the tedium - a hurricane that wipes out oil supply routes and orange groves, or a drought that dries up grain fields. Speculators follow the storms, they don't create them. They rescue markets from crises created elsewhere.

The "elsewheres" of the current global spikes in key food and energy markets are not hard to find. All roads lead to government policies and state-run institutions, beginning with central banks. There seems little doubt that the U.S. Federal Reserve and other controllers of monetary policy have set conditions for a global bout of inflation. The U.S. dollar price of oil, rice, wheat and other commodities is in large part the story of a falling U.S. dollar, weakened by U.S. government policies.

In developing countries, the U.S. dollar is still the only true purchasing unit, and consumers who don't have enough of them - due to fixed exchange rates or currency controls - bear the burden of the falling U.S. dollar through higher costs for food and energy.

But food and energy prices are both heavily influenced by government policies in other ways. World trade in food, especially key commodities, is blanketed by market-killing incentives and disincentives, and smothered by central-planning agencies. We have Canada's supply-managed dairy regimes, massive U.S. trade-distorting agricultural policies, European protectionism and paralyzed world trade talks. In the developing world, uncountable regulations, subsidies, taxes and trade restrictions freeze and distort market forces.

The world food system cannot cope with shocks because markets can't function. A microcosm of the kind of policy paralysis that exists is Indonesia, where rice supply and demand is at the mercy of government agents and price controls. As Steve Hanke, of Johns Hopkins University, reports below, the situation is likely to get worse, not because of speculators, but because governments are now seizing the opportunity. "Now that governments in the rice-consuming countries have hit the panic button, we are witnessing a stampede to introduce more interventionist measures, discredited central-planning solutions and more government-to-government trade deals."

In a part of the world with rampant trade in everything from television parts to shoes and shirts, only about 6% to 7% of the number one basic food, rice, is traded. The rest is locked down by national farm protectionism and misguided attempts to control local prices.

The world is not "running out of food," as some have glibly claimed, any more than it is running out of oil. There is certainly rising demand for food, but what the world doesn't have is markets and trade systems capable of responding to that demand. The idea that there might be limits to global food production is just another formulation of the ancient belief that there is only room for so many people consuming so much resources. The world is running out of the open trade and free-market options that can cope with changing demand and supply patterns.

One reason for rising food prices is rising energy prices, another commodity group that in recent years has come under aggressive government control around the world.

The World Investment Report last year highlighted the transformation of world oil and gas supply from a private investor-controlled - and market driven - business to a state-controlled business. The top 10 oil firms in the world are all state owned, accounting for 77% of the total, with Russian firms controlling another 6%. Only about 10% of world oil reserves are in the hands of investor-owned firms such as Exxon Mobil.

State control delivers the usual benefits: erratic and politically driven policy and, in places such as Russia and Venezuela, a national petroleum industry whose production rates are declining. State-generated supply problems are a major factor behind rising oil prices.

These twin pillars of the world's state-dominated industries - food and energy - converge in many ways. Food production needs fuel. But never before has fuel production needed food. Thanks to biofuels, the two most controlled and regulated industries in the world are converging. And we wonder why prices are going up.



Another failed energy policy, courtesy of the Washington central planners

Big-government, command-and-control technocrats believe that when central-planning fails, the solution is a better plan and smarter planners. They never step back and look at whether planning makes sense in the first place. This was true of the Soviet Union, with tragic five-year plan after five-year plan. It was true of Communist China, with Mao's revolutionary upheavals. And today, here in the United States, it is true of government energy policy.

The 1970s and early 1980s saw all manner of failed energy policies - from Nixon's Project Independence price controls, to Ford's CAFE mandates, to Carter's Synthetic Fuels Corporation and windfall profits tax, to Bush and Clinton's publicly financed push for electric cars. The latest example is the 36 billion gallon biofuel mandate enacted into U.S. law last year.

U.S. dependence on imported energy continues to reach record levels while no commercially viable biofuels have been produced. At the same time, the government-subsidized burning of our food supply to create ethanol has both increased carbon dioxide emissions and driven up food prices at a startling rate. This must end.

Even environmentalists are calling for a halt to government subsidies and mandates on biofuels. Lester Brown, founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, and Jonathan Lewis, a climate specialist with the Clean Air Task Force, spoke out on Earth Day with an article titled "Ethanol's Failed Promise." They outlined the desperate need for Congress to abandon a policy that should never have been enacted. In a daze over rising fuel costs, increased dependence on foreign oil, and a fear of carbon emissions, Congress has been backing the politically favored food-to-fuel ethanol program. But "the mandates are not reducing our dependence on foreign oil," wrote Brown and Lewis. "Last year, the United States burned about a quarter of its national corn supply as fuel - and this led to only a 1 percent reduction in the country's oil consumption."

The failure to reduce oil dependence is not the only flaw in the ethanol program. It also has driven food prices disturbingly high. The World Food Program is warning that the upward pressure on food prices is likely to lead to a "silent tsunami" of hunger. Josette Sheeran, the program's executive director, warned that "The price of rice has more than doubled in the last five weeks." The World Bank estimates that food prices have increased by 83 percent in three years. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown acknowledged what many have been saying for years: "The production of biofuels needs to be urgently re-examined."

Unintended consequences are the inevitable result when politicians pick untested feel-good solutions to market-created concerns. A decade of ethanol policies has once again proven this true. But we now stand on the cusp of an even larger congressional blunder: cap-and-trade. And this time higher food prices will not be the only negative result.

The Congressional Budget Office says current cap-and-trade legislation would amount to a $1.2 trillion tax hike on the American economy over the next ten years. This tax will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices for gasoline, electricity, heating oil, food, and any product that is transported to market. In the throes of an ethanol disaster, it would be inexcusable for politicians to ignore these hardships.

But we've seen this too many times before. Each new generation of central planners believes the previous generation wasn't smart enough. Yet central economic planning is forever doomed to failure since the approach itself limits human freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and innovation. These are the true engines of prosperity, and they will best manage all our problems, including those in the energy arena.


Something Strange Explained

Post below recycled from the Australian blog A Western Heart. See the original for links

Sydney Morning Herald environment reporter, Ben Cubby ominously writes, "Something strange is happening to our weather." Cubby recently came to our attention when he published statistics purporting to show that Australians each used one tonne of plastic bags per year, or that they were using bags weighing 5.5kg each. The article was belatedly corrected with national plastic bag usage reduced by a factor of 1000, but not before the hyped-up message got through.

Now under the hyped-up headline, "Extreme weather is here to stay," Cubby tells us that, "Sydney has endured the most sodden school holidays in living memory," and, "the longest unbroken spell of April drizzle for 77 years," and, "unseasonably early snow fell in the mountains at the weekend." That's what passes for "extreme" these days. It reminds me of then-ALP leader Kim Beazley telling us how Howard planned to replace his "extreme IR laws" with something, well, "even more extreme".

Experts from the BoM are quoted, "The weather's been anything but normal over the last six months... I can't recall a longer period of sustained weather patterns, of various kinds."

Various kinds of weather! Sodden school hols; extreme April drizzle; hopeful skiers. Cubby sounds like he's channeling Eric Oldthwaite from the Ripping Yarns series: When it weren't drizzlin', it were extreme drizzlin'. What could be causing these remarkable weather patterns?
"A zone of high pressure in the Tasman Sea is the main cause of the record-breaking weather because it has a "blocking" effect, meaning that once a weather pattern arrives, it sticks around for a long while."

Oh well, there you go. Seems that "something strange" can be explained quite easily. Let's hear from another expert:
"This has less to do with global warming and more to do with the natural kinks and dips you see in weather patterns each year."

This was from the co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW. It's pretty tough when even the climate change guy won't get excited about your various kinds of weather patterns.


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.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Wikipedia bias

Because the actual temperature record of the last 10 years is decisively against them and the only "science" that supports Warmism is speculative, the Green/Left normally rely very heavily on defamation of those who disagree with them in order to "support" their theories. And, although Wikipedia is well-known as an unreliable source of political information, they of course do their best to debauch what appears there. As Fred Singer is a leading skeptic, his Wikpedia entry has recently come under heavy attack. I reproduce below some interesting comments about that from various sources:

Jim Peden writes

I note with interest that today ( 27 April 2008, at 15:49 ) Dr. Singer's biography on Wikipedia was "modified". See

While I don't know the exact nature of today's modifications, it is clear that the AGW folks have been at work there, judging by a number of elements which are uncomplimentary and prejudicial and totally unwarranted on a general "biography". This is becoming commonplace - when the science does not support AGW, then attack the messenger trying to expose the hoax. There may be a silver lining here ( at Dr. Singer's expense ) - the AGW hysterics are now clearly in panic mode.

Under the GLOBAL WARMING section, we have

A 2007 Newsweek cover story on climate change denial reported that: "In April 1998 a dozen people from the denial machine - including the Marshall Institute, Fred Singer's group and Exxon - met at the American Petroleum Institute's Washington headquarters. They proposed a $5 million campaign, according to a leaked eight-page memo, to convince the public that the science of global warming is riddled with controversy and uncertainty." The plan was reportedly aimed at "raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom'" on climate change. According to Newsweek, the plan was leaked to the press and therefore was never implemented.

Fred Singer replies:

1. Unfortunately, Jim Peden is correct. Unnamed parties have been inserting bizarre items into my Wiki biography. Larry Solomon has just published an article about this in the National Post.

The latest Wiki version makes me out to be some kind of wacko who believes in the existence of Martians.

2. Global Warming: The Newsweek allegation is completely untrue. No one from my organization attended such a meeting at the American Petroleum Institute. The NY Times ran the story originally and retracted it later when it was shown to be incorrect. We complained to Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and to writer Sharon Begley. But Newsweek has never corrected its story.

3. NIPCC: On ABC World News (March 23, 2008) reporter Dan Harris asserted that (unnamed) scientists at NASA, Princeton, and Stanford referred to NIPCC as "fraudulent nonsense." On the ABC web story, he changed the words to "fabricated nonsense" but never identified the scientists. I am pretty sure I know who they are (Hansen, Oppenheimer, and Schneider) and wonder if they really used the word "fraudulent" or if Harris made it up. If we sue for libel, we could find out. But is it worth it?

As an aside, ABC clearly stated that the Exxon donation of a decade ago was "unsolicited." The Wiki account does not, and attempts to link it to NIPCC.

4. When all else fails, there's always tobacco. I am nonsmoker, belong to an anti-smoking organization (ACSH), and hate cigarette smoke. But this does not affect my science. Expert epidemiologists, including those at the Congressional Research Service, all agree that EPA cooked the data in order to link 'second-hand' smoke to lung-cancer deaths. See, e.g., here or here

I wanted you to know all this but don't really expect to change Wiki.

Viscount Monckton comments:

There is a well-organized team under a computer nerd called Kim Dabelstein-Petersen who are responsible for dive-bombing the biographies of anyone known to question the alarmist viewpoint on the climate. They did it to me. When I said I would sue, they said legal action would be ineffective because they shelter behind a jurisdiction of convenience in Florida, where the publication of lies is permitted. So I told them that I'd obtain an interdict from the Scottish courts, forbidding the Internet trunk carriers from carrying any Wikipedia inaccuracies about me. That got their attention. My page has been cleaned up and locked against further tampering (for the time being, at any rate).

Lawrence Solomon comments:

Fred Singer, one of the world's renowned scientists, believes in Martians. I discovered this several weeks ago while reading his biography on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. "Do you really believe in Martians?" I asked him last week, at a chance meeting at a Washington event. The answer was "No."

Wikipedia's error was neither isolated nor inadvertent. The page that Wikipedia devotes to what is ostensibly Fred Singer's biography is designed to trivialize his long and outstanding scientific career by painting him as a political partisan and someone who "is best known as president and founder (in 1990) of the Science & Environmental Policy Project, which disputes the prevailing scientific views of climate change, ozone depletion, and second-hand smoke and is science advisor to the conservative journal NewsMax."

Innocent Wikipedia readers would be surprised to learn that Dr. Singer is no conservative kook but the first director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Center; the recipient of a White House commendation for his early design of space satellites; the recipient of a commendation from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for research on particle clouds; and the recipient of a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award for the development and management of weather satellites. He is, in short, a scientist of the highest calibre, with a long list of major scientific achievements, including the first measurements, with V-2 and Aerobee rockets, of primary cosmic radiation in space, the design of the first instruments for measuring ozone, and the authorship of the first publications predicting the existence of trapped radiation in the earth's magnetic field to explain the magnetic-storm ring current.

Honest accounts of Fred Singer and his accomplishments have been available on Wikipedia, and on hundreds of occasions. Those occasions don't last long, however - often just minutes - before the honest accounts are discovered and reverted by Wikipedians who troll the site. Such trolls continually monitor Wikipedia's 10 million pages to erase any hint that the science is not settled on climate change. Dissenters by the dozens have been likewise demeaned - to check for yourself, just look up Richard Lindzen, Paul Reiter, or any of the other scientists or organizations that have questioned the orthodoxy on climate change.

In contrast to the high-handed treatment that greet global warming skeptics, those who support the orthodoxy are puffed up and protected from criticism, their errors erased and their controversies hushed. This is the case with Naomi Oreskes, a scientist with a PhD who had arrived at an absurd finding: That no studies in a major scientific database questioned the UN view of climate change.

The trollers insist on characterizing Fred Singer as believing in Martians, in reality it is the Wickipedian trollers who are from Mars. Read more on this here and as most honest professors do, discourage your children from relying on Wiki as an encyclopedia of truth on at least this issue. The Martians have turned it into yet another propaganda vehicle.

The Black and White Aerosols Show

A paper published in Nature Geoscience last month received a lot of media attention. And rightly so. It showed that the Black Carbon (BC) component of soot is responsible for up to 60% as much warming as CO2. That is significant for many reasons, only some of which were covered in the newspapers. The Guardian's account is fairly typical:
Scientists warn of soot effect on climate

* Coal and wood 'more damaging than thought'

* Black carbon harms environment and health

Most reports also mentioned that BC-induced warming is more amenable to mitigation than that caused by CO2. This is because BC persists in the atmosphere for periods of days rather than the decades that CO2 does, so reductions in BC output will take more immediate effect, and because BC and the so-called white aerosols such as sulphates, which have a cooling effect, have only partially overlapping sources, providing the potential to decouple white and black aerosol production. So far, so interesting. But what didn't get mentioned is even more so.

First, there are the implications of the research for the climate models. It hardly needs pointing out that the identification of a factor that causes 60% as much warming as CO2 is going to require something of a re-adjustment of the models. The graph that usually gets wheeled out on such occasions is this one, which shows how the models juggle what are thought to be the five major forcing factors to come up with a line that kind of agrees with observed temperature variation over the last century:

Black carbon doesn't even feature. In its latest round of reports, the IPCC assigns BC a warming effect of 0.2-0.4 Wm-2 (a consensus figure based on 20-30 modelling studies), in contrast to the Nature Geoscience paper's estimate of 0.9 Wm-2 (the result of a review of the models combined with new empirical data from satellites, as well as aerial and terrestrial measurements of "brown clouds" over the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea).

More generally, the findings reveal how little is understood about the role of aerosols (regarded as having a net cooling effect) on climate dynamics. Which is especially interesting because aerosols are absolutely central to the standard way of explaining away a thorny problem for global warmers - the period of cooling (~1944-1974), which occurred in defiance of rising CO2 concentrations (see graph above). The argument goes that the temperature slump is the result of white aerosols - released from coal and oil burning - masking the warming effect of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, until various clean air acts in the US and Europe allowed the anthropogenic warming signal to re-emerge.

Indeed, this is one of those items of 'settled science' flagged up in an open letter to Martin Durkin's Wag TV, makers of the infamous The Great Global Warming Swindle, organised by Bob Ward, former Senior Manager for Policy Communication at the Royal Society and now Director of Global Science Networks at risk analysis firm RMS and signed by 37 scientists. The letter demanded that Wag TV correct "five major misrepresentations of the scientific evidence" before distributing the DVD version of the program. One of those major misrepresentations concerned the post-war temperature slump:
However, the DVD version of the programme does not make any mention of the impact of atmospheric aerosols on the record of global average temperature. The producer of the programme, Martin Durkin has attempted to justify this by suggesting that if aerosols caused the cooling between 1945 and 1975, then global average temperatures should be lower today, because he believes that atmospheric concentrations of aerosols should be even higher today than they were during that period. But the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report pointed out that "[g]lobal sulphur emissions (and thus sulphate aerosol forcing) appear to have decreased after 1980".

However, according to the authors of the Nature Geoscience paper, it is nothing like so clear cut. First up, University of Iowa atmospheric chemist Greg Carmichael:
Climate Resistance: Are we now not so certain that the post-war cooling is due to aerosols?

Greg Carmichael: This is an added complication. But it's also an added level of understanding. And as we get better measurements of the present, and better models that can drive these simulations for the last 50 years, or so, we'll see that we've improved our understanding and that the aerosol effect is as important as we've indicated.

CR: But we don't actually know that yet?

GC: We still have a way to go before understand how the heating-cooling push-pull really plays out.

UC San Diego atmospheric physicist Veerabhadran Ramanathan is more candid:
Climate Resistance: What are the implications of this work for the idea that the post-war temperature decline is the result of sulphate aerosols masking the warming effect of CO2 emissions?

Veerabhadran Ramanathan: After the 1970s, when the West was cleaning up pollution, there was a rise in temperatures. We stopped burning coal in cities etc, and coal puts out a lot of sulphates, and sulphates mask global warming. At the same time, in the tropics, China and India, they were growing fast and putting a lot more Black Carbon.

CR: So the sulphate component must have been reduced more than the Black Carbon component for the aerosol masking theory to hold? We now need empirical data to compare the effect of black and white aerosols during the post-war temperature slump?

VR: Exactly.

CR: Do we have that empirical data?

VR: No. The data we have is for 2002-2003. We don't know what happened in the '50s, '60s and '70s. The implication of this study is that we have to understand what is the relative change in the sulphur emissions versus the Black Carbon emissions - and we don't know that.

CR: So what is the empirical evidence that, 50 years ago, white aerosols were masking GW due to CO2?

VR: It's pretty flimsy. The main information we have [...] is our understanding of the SO2 emissions by coal combustion, and oil. But we need to know not so much how much SO2 we put out, but how much was converted to sulphates, how much was removed [etc]

CR: So you don't even know the life cycle of the SO2 and sulphates?

VR: No. All the information we have is from models... It could still be true [that white aerosols account for the post-war temperature slump]

CR: But it could not be true?

VR: Yes. The picture is complicated. But this paper is not saying it is wrong [...]

CR: So we now have a better idea of what is happening aerosol-wise in the present, but what was going on in the 1950s/'60s is still elusive?

VR: Yes, There's a lot of research needs to be done on that - what happened in the '50s and '60s, and then why the rapid ramp up [from the '70s]. I'm not saying our current understanding is wrong, just that it is a more complicated picture. I would say it's uncertain.

All of which tells a rather different story about the state of knowledge than Bob Ward's letter would have us believe. It continues:
[The Great Global Warming Swindle] misrepresented the current state of scientific knowledge by failing to mention that the cooling effects of aerosol need to be taken into account when considering the period of slight cooling between 1945 and 1975.

Just like Bob Ward failing to mention that the empirical evidence that aerosols account for the period of slight cooling between 1945 is "pretty flimsy", in fact - which is perhaps why Durkin didn't mention it. And just as Ward slights Durkin for bolstering his case by omitting 'inconvenient' facts, there is little difference between what he accuses Durkin of, and the way he and his fellow accusers carried on.


Can Scientists Really Predict a Global Climate Catastrophe?

Just as Al Gore did not invent the Internet, he did not invent global warming theory. Scientists invented it, and they continue to fuel the mass hysteria they created by making predictions about climate change and its dire consequences for our planet. But have any of their followers stopped to consider how scientists are able to predict a global catastrophe in the distant future without being able to make accurate short-term predictions?

For the last two years, scientists were predicting high hurricane activity in the United States. Yet, according to David Demming, writing in the Washington Times last year, "...neither the intensity nor the frequency of hurricanes has increased." The article points out that "the 2007 season was the third-quietest since 1966," and that "in 2006 not a single hurricane made landfall in the U.S."

Seasonal predictions are also challenging for scientists, which might help explain why we have been consulting a groundhog for so long. I live in Buffalo, and when scientists try to forecast our summer or winter weather, they are rarely accurate. Although scientists have sophisticated maps and models and cutting-edge technology, my own predictions based on intuition and conjecture would probably be just as accurate - if not more so.

Even the next day's weather forecasts are a formidable task for scientists. This past winter, on several occasions, they predicted one to two feet of snow in our area, and we barely got a white coating. Last summer, when my wife and I were trying to grow our new lawn, forecasters predicted rain every day for a week, but it hardly rained at all.

Of course, weather predictions are not always wrong. Sometimes scientists are right on target with their predictions, but often they are not, and sometimes they are way off the mark. The point is that their weather predictions should be significantly more accurate before trying to predict the destiny of the planet 50, 100 or 1000 years from now. Otherwise, it would be analogous to a student struggling with arithmetic but mastering calculus. It just doesn't happen.

It's not just scientists' predictions that cast doubt on their ability to predict a global catastrophe; it's also the predictions they don't make. They didn't predict, for example, Buffalo's surprise snow storm in October 2006, which destroyed many trees, knocked out power in Buffalo for several days, and sent the whole city scrambling to find alternative sources of heat. An early warning from scientists would have enabled us to prepare for the storm.

Nor did scientists predict that most parts of the world would be colder rather than warmer in 2007, but that is what happened. In fact, many places experienced record low temperatures and more people died from cold than warmth, according to "Year of Global Cooling." Even some Mediterranean countries like Greece and Israel that normally have mild winters were hit hard by snowstorms.

These events, which seem to conflict with both scientists' predictions and global warming theory, are often explained by global warming itself. Thus, one explanation for the cold weather worldwide is that global warming is creating strange weather patterns. Does this mean that, since global warming is supposed to happen, any event that is not consistent with global warming is strange? Also, why didn't scientists predict that global warming would -- or even could -- manifest as global cooling? In the minds of global warming enthusiasts, all events, whether they were expected or not, are proof of global warming since global warming is a foregone conclusion.

The reason scientists struggle with predictions and should be careful about making too many of them is that the world is incomprehensibly fluid and complex. The earth has always gone through warming and cooling phases. On April 28, 1975, a Newsweek article by Peter Gwynne titled, "A Cooling World," warned about the dangers posed by the earth's cooling. A few years after that article appeared, temperatures rose again, bringing us back to pre-cooling levels.

Scientists, of course, know all of this. So why do they continue to instill fear and guilt in their followers through gloomy prophecies? Perhaps they don't want to take any chances, and feel it is their duty to prevent a global catastrophe.

But how can they help us save the planet when they can't even help the poor farmer in the Midwest by warning him of the upcoming drought, or the newlyweds whose honeymoon plans have been shattered due to an unexpected storm, or the retired couple who spent their life savings on a dream vacation only to have it ruined by rain?

Although scientists are intelligent and serve an important function in our society, they are not soothsayers. Their inability to predict short-term events with a high degree of accuracy suggests their knowledge about the planet and universe is still quite limited. So can scientists really predict a global climate catastrophe? I doubt it.


Anchorage digs out after record storm: Spring dump is heaviest on record after April 1

A day after Anchorage endured one of the city's heaviest one-day snowfalls on record, people spent what would normally be a spring Saturday digging out and slogging through nearly 2 feet of fresh snow and slush.

People who had planned to put on shorts and T-shirts for the popular annual Heart Run instead got out hats, gloves and boots and postholed through the snow. The race, like other events, was postponed. In a place that saw a run of blue-sky days in the 50s earlier in the week, it felt a bit like whiplash to look out the window. Some rejoiced, others cursed, many just threw up their hands and gave over to the oddity of it. "Last night, I looked outside at 10 p.m. It was snowing AND light out," said Kenny Hood, who was playing indoor hockey in South Anchorage. "It certainly does mess with your mind."

The snowfall was the third-heaviest in a single day - measured midnight to midnight - since the National Weather Service started keeping records in Anchorage in 1915. Counting Saturday morning, 17 inches fell in West Anchorage and up to 22 inches in Muldoon. Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday, snow fell at the rate of nearly 2 inches per hour, according to the weather service. Before Friday, the most snow that had ever fallen in one day after April 1 was 8.3 inches. The day's official tally at the airport: 15.5.

"Everyone's grumpy," said Trace Carlos, who had been looking at bicycles to buy and getting ready for his summer kite surfing. "We need summer, and old man winter comes along and gives us a big dump."

By afternoon, much of the snow on the major roads had been plowed or melted. In many neighborhoods, though, drivers had to practically swim through it, listening to the sound of the slush on their cars' underbellies. Juliana Jaroslaw took in her car Friday morning to have the studded tires switched over. She had started thinking about wearing flip-flops. "I hate it," she said Saturday. "Everything now gets put on hold. My gardening. Everything."

The snow bent tree branches, causing electricity outages affecting more than 2,500 customers of Municipal Light and Power and Chugach Electric Association. Outages are par for the course in Alaska in the fall because snow accumulation snaps smaller branches and brings down lines, said Chugach Electric spokeswoman Patti Bogan. This much snow this time of year is highly unusual, though, and had the same effect, she said.


Premature snowfalls in Australia

As we see above, the Northern winter is not yet over but the snow has already started to fall in parts of Australia. More of that global cooling that we have been seeing in recent times. The recent Northern hemisphere winter was deadly in many places

A COLD snap across Victoria's alpine region dumped a heavy layer of snow over the weekend in an encouraging sign that the coming ski season could begin early.

After sub-zero temperatures at Falls Creek early yesterday, resort operators hope the colder than normal weather could result in the best conditions on the slopes in several years. About 15cm of snow was dumped on Falls Creek and Mount Hotham yesterday and forecasters expect more falls in the region over the next 24 hours.

Keen young skiers rugged up and hit the slopes early yesterday while snow and ice covered trees and cars around the resort. With weather experts predicting bigger than expected snowfalls in Victoria this season, Melbourne Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Stewart last night said the heavy falls around Falls Creek followed a cold snap in the area on Saturday night. "There have been some fairly good snowfalls in the last 12 to 18 hours in the alps," he said. "The main rain-producing cloud that led to the falls has pushed east of the alpine area. So over the next 24 hours there's going to be further showers pushing up over the alps."

Mr Stewart said more rain and snow were expected to fall before the weather cleared on Tuesday. "As far as the big dumps go, they've had that already, but there could be some more showers in the next day or so," he said.

Falls Creek spokesman Ian Talbot said the cold weather could herald the best skiing conditions since 2000, when the official season began two weeks early. The season is due to begin on the Queen's Birthday weekend of June 7. "All the predictions suggest we may have a season like 2000," he said. "That started off really well too." Mr Talbot said bookings were already strong for the school holiday period, and yesterday's heavy dumping of snow meant visitors could be confident of a good winter ahead. "For this time of year, it's been quite unusual weather, but from the industry's point of view it's very encouraging," he said.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning late yesterday for people in the southwest of NSW. Severe thunderstorms were expected to produce damaging winds in the region overnight, with towns including Wagga Wagga, Albury and Cobar likely to be most affected. Residents were urged to move cars away from trees, secure loose items around homes and avoid using their phones during the storm.



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.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Climate Change 101: Key Global Warming Facts

By Dennis T. Avery (Dennis T. Avery is director of the Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute and co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years").

The Earth's warming since 1850 totals about 0.7 degrees C. Most of this occurred before 1940. The cause: a long, moderate 1,500-year climate cycle first discovered in the Greenland ice cores in 1983. The cycle abruptly raises our temperature 1 to 3 degrees C above the mean for centuries at a time--as it did during the Roman Warming (200 BC to 600 AD) and Medieval Warming (950 to 1300 AD).

Between warmings, Earth's temperatures shift abruptly lower by 1 to 3 degrees C--as they did during the 550 years of the Little Ice Age, which ended in 1850. The ice cores and seabed fossils show 600 of these 1,500-year cycles, extending back at least 1 million years.

CO2 Increases Lag Temperature Increases

In Al Gore's movie, the ice record from the Antarctic shows temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels tracking closely together through the radical ups and downs of four Ice Ages. The movie implies that more CO2 in the air produces higher temperatures. But we've recently done more refined ice studies, which show the temperatures changed about 800 years before the CO2 levels. More CO2 did not produce higher temperatures; instead, higher temperatures released more CO2 from the oceans into the atmosphere.

If the climate models' original greenhouse predictions had been valid, the Earth's temperatures would have risen several degrees more by now than they have. The Earth's net warming since 1940 is a barely noticeable 0.2 degrees C, over 70 years.

For the sake of argument, let's give the alarmists credit for half of this, or 0.1 degree C. Moreover, the Earth has experienced no discernible temperature increase since 1998, nearly nine years ago. Remember, too, that the atmosphere is approaching CO2 saturation-- after which more CO2 will have no added climate forcing power.

Temperatures, Sunspots, Cosmic Rays

There is a 95 percent correlation between Earth's temperatures and sunspots since 1860. There is virtually no correlation between our temperatures and CO2 in the atmosphere. The sunspot number has recently dropped to zero. In the past, when sunspot numbers and our temperatures have diverged, the sunspots have been the leading indicator. The temperatures have soon shifted to follow.

Does this mean that Earth's temperatures will soon decline? History says yes. How long will the global warming alarmists be able to sustain the public hysteria without strongly rising temperatures? This will be a key factor in the short-term future of climate warming legislation. Henrik Svensmark of the Danish Space Research Institute says cosmic rays are the link between the sun's variability and Earth's temperatures. More or fewer cosmic rays, depending on the strength of the solar wind, seed more or fewer of the low, wet clouds that cool the Earth. Further experiments to document this impact are planned in Europe.

"There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing, or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate". That statement comes from a petition signed by more than 19,000 American scientists, available online at a site hosted by the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine at .

Warming Cycles Are the Norm

The Earth has had eight warming cycles since the last Ice Age. Several of these were apparently warmer than today, based on the evidence of fossils and isotopes. The Medieval Warming until recently was known as the little climate optimum. Human numbers increased with the long, stable growing seasons; there were fewer and milder storms; and there were fewer deadly disease epidemics. Bubonic plague attacked Europe during both the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age.

No wild species have gone extinct due to higher temperatures during the unprecedented warming of the past century. All of the existing species have been through even stronger warmings in the past. We have not examined their coping strategies, preferring to demand instead that somehow the climate cycle be stopped.

Arctic ice area has hit a modern low in recent months, but this cannot be due to global warming because the Antarctic simultaneously has the most ice in modern times. The polar regions have their own climate cycles, which operate within the longer 1,500-year cycle. Earth also has the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the El Nino cycle, and a 22.5-year sunspot-related cycle in Southern Hemisphere rainfall.

The new book Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years cites hundreds of peer-reviewed studies by more than 500 fully qualified scientists who found evidence that: 1) a natural, moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced several global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun's irradiance; 3) sea levels are failing to rise importantly; 4) our storms and droughts are becoming fewer and milder with this warming as they did during previous global warmings; 5) human deaths will be reduced with warming because cold kills far more people than heat; and 6) corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate.

Despite being published in such journals such as Science, Nature, and Geophysical Review Letters, these scientists have gotten little media attention.


Another dissenter

Indiana State treasurer Richard Mourdock has a graduate degree in geology and is a licensed professional geologist and former field geologist

After running 26.2 miles in the Boston marathon Monday, Richard Mourdock, Indiana's state treasurer, spoke with students Thursday evening about issues in Indiana....

Mourdock serves as the chief investment officer for the state of Indiana, so he decides where to invest the money."The value of the U.S. dollar is dropping," Mourdock said.

"We've probably never been in as turbulent a time as now. I predict we'll see $200 per barrel of oil in the next 18 months. "With a graduate degree in geology, Mourdock said his studies have convinced him that global warming is not happening."I'm scared to death about each of the three candidates and their positions on global climate change," Mourdock said. "Global caps in the last 15 years receded until last year on Mars, but what do we have in common with Mars? Last time I checked, only the sun."

Mourdock explained that humans aren't the cause of global warming and that it's something bigger in the universe, such as the sun. He also discussed hydrogen fuel cell-driven vehicles, the world's first full-scale coal gasification plant in Knox County, Ind., and the largest wind farm in the U.S. with hypermodern wind turbines in Benton, Ind.


Global Warming Holiday

Polls are cruel. Voters consistently say they want to stop global warming. They also say consistently that energy prices, especially for gasoline, are too high. So what are politicians supposed to do? The answer, apparently, is to pretend the contradiction doesn't exist. The latest episode in this long-running bipartisan ruse aired last week, when John McCain proposed a "gas tax holiday" that would suspend federal levies between Memorial Day and Labor Day. "Americans need relief right now from high gas prices," a press release put it, and the holiday will "act immediately to reduce the pain." His Arizona colleague, Jon Kyl, promptly introduced it as Senate legislation.

The 18.4 cent tax per gallon of gas (24.4 cents for diesel) funds interstate highway repairs and other transit needs, though general revenue would offset losses from the moratorium. But even assuming such savings are passed on to consumers, it won't offer much help at the pump. Most of the price of gasoline is determined by the global price of crude oil, which is spiking now due to a combination of the weak dollar and commodity speculation. The source of the problem isn't the tax. Domestic demand for gas always goes up with summer driving, but the McCain holiday doesn't affect production, and anyway, only applies over the short term.

More notably, it makes a hash out of the climate-change policies that the candidate purports to favor. In 2003, Mr. McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced the first Senate bill to mandate greenhouse-gas reductions through cap and trade. "There is no middle ground," Mr. McCain said in 2005. "You've got to have an immediate effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Anything less than that is a fig leaf and a joke."

As honest environmentalists admit, any effective policy to reduce emissions must increase the price of carbon, encouraging cuts in consumption and creating an incentive for competing energy sources. This is justified as a necessary sacrifice to avert "dire consequences . . . if we let the growing deluge of greenhouse gas emissions continue," as Mr. McCain said last year.

But as the gas-tax moratorium gambit shows, such purity is dumped as soon as voters start complaining about high prices. Not that the Republican is alone: Hillary Clinton, slipping into her new role as tribune of the working class, has endorsed the holiday, while Barack Obama is opposed because he believes a windfall profits tax on oil companies would provide more relief.

The evasions continue down the line. It is easy for everyone to say the U.S. needs a "Manhattan Project" for alternative energy because the phrase is meaningless. Most politicians favor a cap-and-trade regulatory policy, instead of a carbon tax, because it would shift higher emissions costs onto businesses, which would pass them on to consumers indirectly. Yet the most popular Senate bill that would create a cap-and-trade program applies only to utilities and industry. It excludes automobiles, though about one-third of annual U.S. carbon emissions come from cars and trucks.

Such contradictions are easy to paper over now, because big climate change legislation is still a ways off in Congress. But it's becoming clearer all the time that whatever emerges will be so shot through with loopholes and exemptions that its effect on carbon emissions will be minimal, while still imposing economy-wide distortions. No one could get elected, or for that matter govern, on a platform that called explicitly for increased energy prices. So we get contradictions like a gas tax moratorium married to cap-and-trade carbon limits. To quote Mr. McCain, it's "a joke."


Cooked Books, Warmed Earth

Two Experts Say Data Are Wrong

It may be folly or even apostasy - but only in the eyes of some - to do this mere hours after another Earth Day has passed. But, as we see it, now is the perfect time to praise courageous men, those who persistently stick to their own data and conclusions as they swim against the gadarene tide of global warming. Men like William Gray and Patrick Michaels.

Mr. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State, is the world's pre-eminent authority on hurricanes. He is also an outspoken foe of the global-warming "consensus," one who has testified before Congress, delivered numerous speeches, and penned myriad articles on the subject. Here's his pungent take on the matter: "I am of the opinion that this is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people. I've been in meteorology over 50 years. I've worked damned hard, and I've been around. My feeling is some of us older guys who've been around have not been asked about this. It's sort of a baby-boomer, yuppie thing."

Still, Mr. Gray, now 79, has not merely been ignored. He has been ostracized, his research funding cut off. But such is his conviction that he has poured more than $100,000 of his own money to fight what he deems a rank canard.

Mr. Michaels, a professor of environmental sicence at University of Virginia, knows the feeling all too well, though he is reputed to be the nation's most popular lecturer on the subject of global warming. But he, too, is a warming "skeptic." This mindset was most recently revealed in his commentary piece — "Our Climate Numbers Are a Big Old Mess" — in Friday's Wall Street Journal. Mr. Michaels not only cast a cool eye on recent legislative and executive endeavors to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions — we'll have to do with less energy, as no technology is available to achieve said goals — but also implied that, given the skewed state of data accumulation, these initiatives may not be necessary.

The key paragraph in Mr. Michaels' article is the fourth: "The earth's paltry warming trend, 0.31 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since the mid-1970s, isn't enough to scare people into poverty. And even that 0.31 degree figure is suspect."How so? While records from surface thermometers have indicated a warming trend these last 30 years, data from satellites and weather balloons did not concur — that is, until incessant revisions were made, always in the direction of a warming trend.

Mr. Michaels doesn't say so in such pungent terms, but his piece seems to contend the books have been cooked, or at least "warmed." Consider this, as he does: Six major revisions have been made to warming figures in recent years, all trending the same way. "[I]t's like flipping a coin and getting tails each time," he wrote. "The chance of that occurring is 0.016, or less than one in 50. That doesn't mean that these revisions are all hooey, but the probability that they would all go in one direction on the merits is pretty darned small."

Furthermore, Mr. Michaels takes issue with what the "consensus" scientists abjectly refuse to discuss — for instance, the state of the Eurasian arctic. For thousands of years after the last ice age, it was so much warmer in summer than it is now that green forests extended all the way to the Arctic Ocean. How do we know? Because the trees of these forests are buried in areas now too cold to support them. In other words, what once was forest is now tundra. These facts are conveniently overlooked.

But such is the state of climatology that the news is always bad, Mr. Michaels said. Mr. Gray would attribute this to a zeal, bordering on the religious, to "organize, propagandize, force conformity, and exercise political influence."The key word in that sentence, we believe, is "political." The one missing, but clearly implied, is "power."


Jeb Bush skeptical about global warming

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he is "light green" on the environment and is skeptical that humans are causing global warming. Bush, whose two terms ended in 2007, also said Wednesday that he "can't imagine" running for national office and isn't interested in being Sen. John McCain's running mate.

The younger brother of President George W. Bush made the comments during an address to several hundred business people meeting in a hotel ballroom. Earlier in the day, he met with other directors of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp., the hospital chain whose board he joined last year.

As governor, Bush, a Republican, was largely silent on global warming. His successor, Charlie Crist — who is often mentioned as a possible GOP running mate for McCain — has said Florida should become a leader in addressing climate change because its low elevation makes it vulnerable if ocean levels rise.

Bush said those who advocate action to limit climate change are acting out of something like religious zeal. "I don't think our policies should be based on emotion; they should be based on sound science," he said. Rather than reducing oil consumption, Bush said the United States should focus on "energy security" — reducing dependence on oil imported from hostile or politically unstable countries by encouraging alternative fuels.

In response to a question, Bush said he isn't thinking of running for national office. He said he only wanted to be governor. "I loved every minute of it, and when I finished, I finished," he said. He said he didn't "have any burning ambitions" beyond his foundation, which advocates education testing. "I can't imagine that I would get recharged up to do something else," he said.


A cool idea to warm to

The article below by Christopher Pearson appeared in Australia's national daily

About the beginning of 2007, maintaining a sceptical stance on human-induced global warming became a lonely, uphill battle in Australia. The notion that the science was settled had gathered broad popular support and was making inroads in unexpected quarters. Industrialists and financiers with no science qualifications to speak of began to pose as prophets. Otherwise quite rational people decided there were so many true believers that somehow they must be right. Even Paddy McGuinness conceded, in a Quadrant editorial, that on balance the anthropogenic greenhouse gas hypothesis seemed likelier than not.

What a difference the intervening 15 months has made. In recent weeks, articles by NASA's Roy Spencer and Bjorn Lomborg and an interview with the Institute of Public Affairs' Jennifer Marohasy have undermined that confident Anglosphere consensus. On's bestseller list this week, the three top books on climate are by sceptics: Spencer, Lomborg and Fred Singer. Archbishop of Sydney George Pell, a shrewd cleric who knows a dodgy millennial cult when he sees one, has persisted in his long-held critique despite the climate change alarmism of his brother bishops. Even Don Aitkin, former vice-chancellor of the University of Canberra, whom I'd previously been tempted to write off as a slave to political correctness, outed himself the other day as a thoroughgoing sceptic.

The latest countercultural contribution came in The Australian on Wednesday. Phil Chapman is a geophysicist and the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut. He makes the standard argument that the average temperature on earth has remained steady or slowly declined during the past decade, despite the continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, with a new twist. As of last year, the global temperature is falling precipitously. All four of the agencies that track global temperatures (Hadley, NASA Goddard, the Christy group and Remote Sensing Systems) report that it cooled by about 0.7C in 2007.

Chapman comments: "This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record and it puts us back where we were in 1930. If the temperature does not soon recover, we will have to conclude that global warming is over. It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to begin contingency planning about what to do if we are moving into another little ice age, similar to the one that lasted from 1100 to 1850." A little ice age would be "much more harmful than anything warming may do", but still benign by comparison with the severe glaciation that for the past several million years has almost always blighted the planet.

The Holocene, the warm interglacial period we've been enjoying through the past 11,000 years, has lasted longer than normal and is due to come to an end. When it does, glaciation can occur quite quickly. For most of Europe and North America to be buried under a layer of ice, eventually growing to a thickness of about 1.5km, the required decline in global temperature is about 12C and it can happen in as little as 20 years.

Chapman says: "The next descent into an ice age is inevitable but may not happen for another 1000 years. On the other hand, it must be noted that the cooling in 2007 was even faster than in typical glacial transitions. If it continued for 20 years, the temperature would be 14C cooler in 2027. By then, most of the advanced nations would have ceased to exist, vanishing under the ice, and the rest of the world would be faced with a catastrophe beyond imagining. Australia may escape total annihilation but would surely be overrun by millions of refugees."

Chapman canvases strategies that may just conceivably prevent or at least delay the transition to severe glaciation. One involves a vast bulldozing program to dirty and darken the snowfields in Canada and Siberia, "in the hope of reducing reflectance so as to absorb more warmth from the sun. We may also be able to release enormous floods of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) from the hydrates under the Arctic permafrost and on the continental shelves, perhaps using nuclear weapons to destabilise the deposits".

He concludes: "All those urging action to curb global warming need to take off the blinkers and give some thought to what we should do if we are facing global cooling instead. It will be difficult for people to face the truth when their reputations, careers, government grants or hopes for social change depend on global warming, but the fate of civilisation may be at stake."

The 10-year plateau in global temperatures since 1998 has already sunk the hypothesis that anthropogenic greenhouse gas will lead to catastrophic global warming. To minds open to the evidence, it has been a collapsing paradigm for quite some time. But Chapman's argument about last year's 0.7C fall being "the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record" ups the stakes considerably. It replaces an irrational panic in the public imagination with a countervailing and more plausible cause for concern. It also raises, more pointedly than before, a fascinating question: since there are painful truths with profound implications for public policy to be confronted, how will the political class manage the necessary climb-down?

In Australia, Rudd Labor's political legitimacy is inextricably linked to its stance on climate change. If the Prime Minister wants a second term, he'll probably have to start "nuancing his position", as the spin doctors say, and soon. A variation on J.M. Keynes's line - "when the facts change, I change my mind" - admitting that the science is far from settled and awaiting further advice, would buy him time without necessarily damaging his credibility.

Taking an early stand in enlightening public opinion would be a more impressive act of leadership. While obviously not without risk and downside, it would make a virtue out of impending necessity and establish him, in Charles de Gaulle's phrase, as a serious man. I don't think he's got it in him. But we can at least expect that some of the more ruinously expensive policies related to global warming will be notionally deferred and quietly shelved. Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister Kim Carr will be allowed to invest in high-profile nonsense such as funding "the green car". But the coal industry is unlikely to be closed down or put into a holding pattern. Nor are new local coal-fired power stations going to be prohibited until the technology is developed to capture and sequester carbon.

Since the greater part of the funds for the research underpinning that technology is expected to come from the private sector - and there's a limit to what government can exact by administrative fiat - as the debate becomes calmer and more evidence-based, business will be increasingly reluctant to outlay money on a phantom problem. Budgetary constraints and rampant inflation provide governments with plenty of excuses for doing as little as possible until a new and better informed consensus emerges on climate.

Ross Garnaut could doubtless be asked to extend his carbon trading inquiry for the life of the parliament and to make an interim report in 12 months on the state the science. In doing so, he could fulfil the educative functions of a royal commission and at the same time give himself and the Government a dignified way out of an impasse.

Whatever happens in the realm of domestic spin doctoring, economic realities in the developing world were always going to defeat the global warming zealots. Before the election, Kevin Rudd had to concede that we would not adopt climate policies that were contrary to Australian interests unless India and China, emitters on a vastly larger scale, followed suit.

However, it has long been obvious that neither country was prepared to consign vast parts of their population to protracted poverty and to embrace low-growth policies on the basis of tendentious science and alarmist computer projections. Even if their governments were convinced that global warming was a problem - and they clearly aren't - it's doubtful they could sell the self-denying ordinances we're asking from them to their own people.

A likelier scenario would be full-page ads in our broadsheets and catchy local television campaigns paid for by the Indian and Chinese coal, steel and energy industries that buy our raw materials. Their theme would surely be that if many of the West's leading scientific authorities no longer subscribed to catastrophic global warming, why on earth should anyone else.



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.