Sunday, July 06, 2008

India Rejects the IPCC

India has released its National Action Plan on Climate Change. The document reaffirms India's commitment to strong and rapid economic growth, though it will also focus on eight "national missions" - such as sustainability, energy efficiency, solar initiatives, increased climate-science research, and the like. It also notes some market-oriented initiatives recently enacted - and further ones planned - to increase competitiveness, inefficiencies, and innovation.

India can't help but mention "the strong positive correlation between energy use and human development." Hear, hear. They promise to nonetheless keep their per-capita rate of emissions below "developed countries," although developed countries do not have a uniform per-capita emission any more than they play a uniform role in the global economy,

The document is in a PDF format that is non-searchable - I mean, outside of actually reading it - which will surely limit the media's ability to report on it. I'm kidding of course; as I have documented, the Kyoto media rely on friendly press releases for their stories (in "Home of Le Whopper", covering COP-11 for TechCentralStation).

Their coverage so far has emphasized how India now promises to "do something." This line of argument aims to rebuff the U.S. claiming to reasonably continue avoid "binding" international promises, on top of its world-leading domestic achievements at combining economic growth with a reduction in the growth rate of GHG emission. OK, so they don't phrase it that way.

The document is in fact more notable for reaffirming its refusal of any Kyoto-style emission rationing, or cap. India's Liberty Institute has summarized its contents here. But wait, there's more. Here's what you certainly will not read in the coverage: India rejects IPCC claims!!! To wit:

"No firm link between the documented [climate] changes described below and warming due to anthropogenic climate change has yet been established."

That reads ambiguously, possibly stating that, yes, man is warming the planet but we can't pin (other) climate changes on him. But reading further, which the media rarely does, makes clear that the climate changes that cannot be attributed to AGW include surface temperature, rainfall, extreme weather events, rise in sea level, impacts on Himalayan glaciers. Good for you, India.


UN's climate change guru sees record oil price as a positive

The UN's top climate change official said Thursday that record oil prices, which have surged to $146 a barrel, were positive for the environment. 'I think they are a net positive. First of all you see that through decreasing demand in Europe and North America where people are becoming much more conscious of petrol prices,' Yvo de Boer told Agence France-Presse. 'High oil prices also improve the competitiveness of renewable sources of energy and make it more interesting to focus on energy efficiency,' he added.

De Boer, who heads the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), noted however that high prices also made heavy forms of crude oil, which take energy-intensive extracting and refining, more attractive. 'There is a risk that as dirty forms of oil become commercially more attractive that would lead to an increase in emissions,' he said.

One such worry is the Canadian tar sands, a dense mixture of sand, water and petroleum used to extract bitumen, which are controversial because of the environmental impact of extracting and refining the mixture. Experts say the tar sands are only viable if world oil prices remain high. There has been a surge in interest for the resources, however, given the possibility of a major source of oil from a stable country such as Canada.

The head of India's state oil company said Thursday that India could invest up to $10 billion dollars in the tar sands in the future.



People concerned about global warming tend to cheer surging oil prices, figuring that will spur less-polluting alternatives. Perhaps those people should think again. In Europe, natural gas prices track crude oil. Recent crude price spikes have driven natural gas prices higher, too. That has made natural gas even less-competitive against traditional fuels like coal.

So, say carbon-market analysts Point Carbon, the oil price spike is leading some European power companies to switch from burning pricey gas to relatively cheaper coal, then covering their pollution by buying carbon credits in Europe's carbon trading scheme.

European utilities have been flirting with coal since oil prices started rising, but until recently, buying the emissions permits and burning coal was still more expensive than biting the bullet on oil and gas. European utilities have actually trimmed emissions so far this year, Point Carbon estimates.

Now, though, the cost gap between natural gas and coal is getting even wider-making it an economic no-brainer in many cases to switch to coal and pay the carbon-credit penalty.

Of course, greater demand for carbon credits-combined with a gradually-tightening market as fewer emissions-reductions schemes come into the system-will drive up carbon prices. Point Carbon analysts figure the price will rise from about 27 euros per ton today to about 39 euros in 2012.

There are a couple lessons worth remembering here for the U.S., as it staggers toward drafting some sort of climate-change program. If policymakers try to micro-manage the price of carbon permits so they aren't scarily expensive, it will often make more sense for companies to add more GHG emissions than curb them. That's why many environmentalists are so leery of "safety valves" and "off-ramps" in cap-and-trade schemes. And it's another reason why lower carbon prices aren't necessarily a sign of success.

"You can't legislate the carbon price-with escape mechanisms, you are not creating a market, but creating a hybrid sort of carbon tax," Point Carbon's Director of the European Emissions Trading Scheme Henrik Hasselknippe told us.

But if the price of carbon rises in tandem with oil, as it tends to, the economy will have to pay in the end-both the cost of fossil fuels and the cost of compliance will be greater. Yet another reminder that tackling climate change is a mind-bender. And that there's no free lunch.


Harsh winters force Mongolian horsemen to abandon nomadic life

The blockbuster movie, Mongol, depicts the skilled horsemen who helped their leader, Genghis Khan, build one of the greatest empires the world has seen. But the lifestyle of today's Mongolian horseman - and other nomadic herdsmen - is under threat. A succession of climactic disasters in the last 10 years has forced 500,000 of them abandon a nomadic lifestyle that has remained almost unchanged for centuries and to look instead for a new life in the cities

Mongolia is one of the toughest places on earth to live and can boast the coldest capital - Ulaanbaatar - on the planet. Temperatures drop to at least -30C in winter. The country is frozen from November to March.

But four climactic disasters, known as 'dzuds', since 1999 have made life almost impossible for even the toughest of Mongolia's nomadic people who roam over a country three times the size of France. Three particularly harsh winters since 2000 have killed a third of the nation's livestock.

In 2001, the temperature dropped to a record-breaking -57C. Some 15,000 herders lost all of their animals through starvation and cold, and with them, their money and food. More than a quarter of the 2.6m population has left the vast rural areas, where herdsmen have lived since before Ghengis Khan's empire was established in the 13th century, and have fled in desperation to the cities. Among them is Byambaa Nurdev (22) a former herder in the Gobi Desert. She and her husband Tumenbayar (31) had some 600-700 sheep and goats, making them relatively wealthy. But between 2002-5 they lost every single animal....

Today the family, including seven-month-old Odonchimeg, live in a ger (a traditional felt tent) in a slum on the edge of Mongolia's capital, Ulaan Baatar. There is no running water or sanitation. Because they lack official paperwork, the couple can't find work and survive on hand outs from the Red Cross, which gives them flour, rice, sugar and oil every month. The rest they beg from neighbours....

More here

NC: Charlotte temperature hits 123-year low

This morning was downright cool in the Charlotte region -- cool enough to break a record that had stood for more than a century.The temperature at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport was 56 at about 5:30 a.m., breaking the July 2 record of 58, set in 1885. The normal low for this time of year is 70.

It'll warm up quickly today, though. Temperatures today are expected to peak at 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. But it'll still feel pleasant because of humidity levels between 20 and 25 percent, said NWS meteorologist Doug Outlaw.

Conditions will be cool again overnight, with the low descending to 59, one degree warmer than the record for July 3, set in 1932.


Stop Raising Kids with 'apologetic guilt for the footprint they're leaving behind'

A friend of mine gave his 11-year-old daughter a pair of sneakers the other day, thinking she'd be pleased. She was not. She became agitated when she saw the label and told him, "I can't wear these, because of child labor!" It took half an hour of Internet research for him to persuade the girl that her anxieties were unfounded, and that Nike did not enslave small children in remote foreign places.

What's a pre-pubescent child doing, panicking about the industrial origins of her shoes? She's behaving obediently, internalizing the urgent, incessant adult talk of danger and crisis and bad things happening. "She worries about the repercussion of her smallest action," her father sighs, "what she eats and wears, and even where she goes."

The Cold War may be over, but American children are ducking and covering more than ever. They're not crouching in fear of nuclear conflagration, as in Soviet days. They're not even ducking to avoid a wild-eyed jihadi with a dirty bomb. What they fear is - well, what don't we teach them to fear?

Children are worried about global warming and logging in the rain forests. They're anxious about the plight of the polar bear and the manatee. They are fearful of genetically modified foods, of trans fats, of salmonella in tomatoes. They dread the lurking stranger: Even small children are now trained by parents and teachers to detect the luring techniques of pedophiles.

Children who have been slathered from infancy with super-SPF unguents are scared of getting skin cancer. They're scared of lung cancer, too, thanks to childhoods infused with anti-tobacco propaganda. A child we know holds her breath, like a superstitious peasant passing a graveyard, if she catches even a whiff of cigarette smoke.

Children in especially right-on households may balk at salmon that is not wild-caught, yogurt that is not organic, and coffee drunk by parents who are insufficiently aware of fair-trade practices.

This anxious, defensive crouch is just terrible. Of course life is beset with uncertainties, perils and injustice - and the occasional stogie-smoking passer-by. But when hasn't it been? Children deserve to know that the world is here to be enjoyed, that it is full of adventure and beauty, and not some depressing pit of pollution and seething social inequity that they are despoiling every time they fail to turn off a lightbulb. American children in particular ought to know that they are fantastically lucky to have a seat at the greatest banquet table in history.

The vast majority of American children live like sultans, with comfortable beds, few chores, diets of dainties, and doting parents who whisk them from one interesting venue to another. They ought to be encouraged to look about the world with dash and optimism, not apologetic guilt for the footprint they're leaving behind.

There's something horribly cringing in the fashion of minimizing one's effect on the world. By all means, we can conserve energy, but must we inflict our eco-alarmism on children quite so wantonly? Suicide is the quickest way to reduce your effect on the environment, as someone said. That's hardly a helpful message for the kiddies.

We have friends in Canada who are so intent upon leaving only mouselike traces behind that they have confined themselves voluntarily to a single square mile. This might sound charming: Two people sacrificing whatever swagger and swashbuckle they might have enjoyed, so as to compensate the cosmos for the rest of us stinking parasites. Yet isn't it awful, that centuries of human achievement should produce such guilt? The square-milers make me think of a cartoon vacuum cleaner that eventually sucks itself up its own tube and vanishes with a little "pop."

Adults are free to live in as shrunken a preindustrial manner as we like. We perhaps ought to think hard about the sustainability of this, and the fairness of that. But we should stop devolving these anxieties onto children, because they haven't yet had their own kick at the can.



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


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