Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The price of dissent on global warming

By David Bellamy

When I first stuck my head above the parapet to say I didn't believe what we were being told about global warming, I had no idea what the consequences would be. I am a scientist and I have to follow the directions of science, but when I see that the truth is being covered up I have to voice my opinions. According to official data, in every year since 1998, world temperatures have been getting colder, and in 2002 Arctic ice actually increased. Why, then, do we not hear about that?

The sad fact is that since I said I didn't believe human beings caused global warming, I've not been allowed to make a television program. My absence has been noticed, because wherever I go I meet people who say: "I grew up with you on the television, where are you now?"

It was in 1996 that I criticised wind farms while appearing on children's program Blue Peter, and I also had an article published in which I described global warming as poppycock. The truth is, I didn't think wind farms were an effective means of alternative energy, so I said so. Back then, at the BBC you had to toe the line, and I wasn't doing that.

At that point, I was still making loads of TV programs and I was enjoying it greatly. Then I suddenly found I was sending in ideas for TV shows and they weren't getting taken up. I've asked around about why I've been ignored, but I found that people didn't get back to me. At the beginning of this year there was a BBC show with four experts saying: "This is going to be the end of all the ice in the Arctic," and hypothesising that it was going to be the hottest summer ever. Was it hell! It was very cold and very wet and now we've seen evidence that the glaciers in Alaska have started growing rapidly, and they have not grown for a long time.

I've seen evidence, which I believe, that says there has not been a rise in global temperature since 1998, despite the increase in carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere. This makes me think the global warmers are telling lies: CO2 is not the driver. The idiot fringe has accused me of being like a Holocaust denier, which is ludicrous. Climate change is all about cycles. It's a natural thing and has always happened. When the Romans lived in Britain they were growing very good red grapes and making wine on the borders of Scotland. It was evidently a lot warmer.

If you were sitting next to me 10,000 years ago, we'd be under ice. So thank God for global warming for ending that ice age; we wouldn't be here otherwise.

People such as former American vice-president Al Gore say that millions of us will die because of global warming, which I think is a pretty stupid thing to say if you've got no proof. And my opinion is that there is absolutely no proof that CO2 has anything to do with any impending catastrophe. The science has, quite simply, gone awry.

In fact, it's not even science any more; it's anti-science. There's no proof, it's just projections, and if you look at the models people such as Gore use, you can see they cherry-pick the ones that support their beliefs. To date, the way the so-called Greens and the BBC, the Royal Society and even political parties have handled this smacks of McCarthyism at its worst.

Global warming is part of a natural cycle and there's nothing we can actually do to stop these cycles. The world is now facing spending a vast amount of money in tax to try to solve a problem that doesn't actually exist. And how were we convinced that this problem exists, even though all the evidence from measurements goes against the fact? God knows.

Yes, the lakes in Africa are drying up. But that's not global warming. They're drying up for the very simple reason that most of them have dams around them. So the water once used by local people is now used in the production of cut flowers and vegetables for the supermarkets of Europe. One of Gore's biggest clangers was saying that the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan was drying up because of global warming.

Well, everyone knows, because it was all over the news 20 years ago, that the Russians were growing cotton there at the time and that for every tonne of cotton you produce you use a vast amount of water. The thing that annoys me most is that there are genuine environmental problems that desperately require attention. I'm still an environmentalist, I'm still a Green and I'm still campaigning to stop the destruction of the biodiversity of the world. But money will be wasted on trying to solve this global warming "problem" that I would much rather was used for looking after the people of the world.

Being ignored by the likes of the BBC does not really bother me, not when there are bigger problems at stake. I might not be on TV any more but I still go around the world campaigning about these important issues. For example, we must stop the destruction of tropical rainforests, something I've been saying for 35 years. Mother nature will balance things out, but not if we interfere by destroying rainforests and overfishing the seas. That is where the real environmental catastrophe could occur.



German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced calls from fellow conservatives Sunday to fight to water down a European Union climate pact until the recession-wracked economy is moving again.

Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he had written to Merkel calling on her to back away from EU climate protection goals to be approved next month for a time. "The carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction targets at the EU level must be organised so they do not endanger jobs," said Seehofer, whose state is home to such German automakers as BMW and Audi. "The automobile industry needs more room to manoeuvre in its implementation" of the targets, he said. "What good are multi-million-euro fines (for violating emissions rules) if at the end of the day the jobs are gone?"

German Economy Minister Michael Glos, also of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, agreed that Germany could ill-afford to make a priority of climate protection with the economy hobbled by the global financial crisis. "It is not the time to burden the economy with excessive environmental targets," he said.

And the conservative premier of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, also called for a two-year hiatus for the EU climate package, which is to be passed at a Brussels summit of EU leaders in three weeks.

Merkel is a champion of the EU's climate change plan, having brokered a vow last year by EU leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel's fractious left-right ruling coalition, rejected the conservatives' calls for exceptions out of hand. "It is astounding how backwards the debate about climate change is in the Union," he told Saturday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, ruling out exceptions for sectors such as automobiles or energy. He said it was only sensible for industry to cut its spending on energy during an economic downturn.

During a German-Italian summit last week, Merkel warned that the global financial crisis could cause leaders to renege on their environmental pledges made in March 2007 under the German EU presidency. "The goals of 2020 remain, but let's see how we can meet them" without putting too much pressure on a weak economy, she said.

Official data released this month showed Germany has slipped into recession for the first time in five years, just as the 15-nation eurozone fell its first-ever recession.



Britain is poised to expand its coal mining industry, despite fears that the move will lead to a rise in climate change emissions and harm communities and the environment.

Freedom of information requests and council records show that in the past 18 months 14 companies have applied to dig nearly 60 million tonnes of coal from 58 new or enlarged opencast mines. At least six coal-fired power stations are planned. If all the applications are approved, the fastest expansion of UK coal mining in 40 years could see southern Scotland and Northumberland become two of the most heavily mined regions in Europe.

The demand for new mines is being driven by dramatic increases in the price of coal. This has quadrupled in two years and has risen by 45 per cent since the start of this year. Opencast, or surface, mines are much cheaper than deep mines, but those living nearby can suffer years of pollution.

The increase in mining will embarrass the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, who is arguing that Britain must reduce carbon emissions. Ministers must soon decide whether to approve a controversial new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent, the first in 30 years. 'Attention has been focused on the decision at Kingsnorth, but over the past 18 months local authorities have approved more than 24 new opencast mines and 16 expansions of existing mines,' said Richard Hawkins, of the Public Interest Research Centre (Pirc), which conducted the study.

'There is a clear contradiction between the government's 80 per cent target for climate change emissions cuts and investment in new coal. With industry and government saying carbon capture and storage is at least 20 years away, this shows that the 160m tonnes of carbon dioxide released by burning this coal would not be captured,' he said.

More here


The Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farms, off the east coast of England, are a flagship project for their operator Centrica, the UK energy group, and for Europe. Its 54 Siemens turbines have a total capacity of 180 megawatts, making Centrica the leading company in Britain, and Britain the leading country in the world for offshore wind power.

Offshore wind is a vital part of what Jos‚ Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, has described as the "third industrial revolution": the transformation of the energy industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the European Union's reliance on gas and oil. If the EU is to hit its target of deriving 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, offshore wind will play a crucial role.

Centrica has big plans to join that revolution, building a total of 1,600MW of offshore wind capacity. Yet those plans are under threat. Centrica has said it is reviewing that programme, which would demand a further œ4bn ($6bn) of investment, as the cost of building offshore wind farms has soared.

Similar stories are being played out across the EU. As the credit crunch bites, utilities are going over their investment plans to see whether they are still viable; not just for renewable energy but for all projects. Several, including Eon of Germany and Iberdrola of Spain, have warned they are likely to slow the rate at which they are investing.

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The Green Party was forced to admit today that two of its former leading lights were on a list of British National Party members leaked on the internet this week.

The party conceded this morning that Keith Bessant, a two-time parliamentary candidate, and Rev John Stanton, a former local party chairman, had defected to the far-right nationalist organisation.

Doctors, prison officers, teachers and a Buckingham Palace servant were among the 12,000 names published in a blog post on Sunday. The leak has caused recriminations within the party and a nationwide search for members working secretly in the public services.

A spokesman for the Green Party claimed today that Mr Bessant was in the BNP not because he was a racist but because he felt they had better environmental policies.

"He formed the opinion that the BNP climate change policy was more radical than ours," he said.

More here

Florida boaters say ethanol is harming engines

There's an ailment afflicting boats in Florida and elsewhere with symptoms of poor performance and clogged fuel systems. The problems may be staved off by preventive measures, but boat owners caught off guard may face repairs that can cost hundreds of dollars -- or even thousands. The culprit is ethanol in gasoline, required in Florida following passage of a law this past spring that gasoline contain 10 percent ethanol, which is called E10 fuel, by the end of 2010. A half-dozen other states have similar laws.

By early summer, gas stations statewide began receiving E10 fuel. Notices on pumps say the gas can contain 10 percent ethanol or less. Marinas and airports are exempt and can sell ethanol-free gas. But since spring until recently, many marinas had no choice but to accept E10 fuel. Apart from that, many people with boats on trailers pull up at the gas station or fill portable gas tanks for cheaper fuel, unwittingly setting themselves up for potential disaster.

Ethanol is alcohol, and one characteristic of alcohol is that it attracts water, and therefore pulls moisture into vented fuel tanks in boats. If the E10 fuel sits long enough, the water and ethanol separate from the gas, and can cause poor engine performance and damage the fuel system.

A second and equally damaging trait of alcohol for boats is that it is a solvent. The ethanol loosens fuel varnish build-up and rust in the fuel tank and that gunk gets carried into the fuel system, potentially clogging and damaging parts, such as carburetors and fuel injectors.

Two lawsuits, in California and Florida, have been filed to date against oil manufacturers that produce E10 fuel, on the basis the companies knew of potential harm to boat engines and failed to warn the public. "They had to have known," said Jeffrey Ostrow, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who filed the Florida lawsuit in August in U.S. District Court in South Florida....

Some marinas and boat yards in Florida began noticing something strange this past summer. Boaters were calling or coming in asking what could be wrong with their engines. Their boats would idle but wouldn't throttle up to full performance. Some boats broke down and required towing in. "We're seeing one or two people a day come in," said Glen Harris, parts manager at Naples Boat Mart on Airport-Pulling Road. "And a lot of the local people."

Ethanol-blended gas hit service stations in the spring and early summer, so local boaters were the first to fill up portable gas tanks from gas stations with E10. They were the first to experience problems, he said. "It hit me and I do everything I was supposed to do right but ethanol got to me," Harris said. "A lot of people don't believe you at first." He anticipates winter residents returning now and getting boats out of storage will be the next group to experience problems.

Just as boats may sit and the separation of the gas and ethanol in the tanks can lead to problems, there are reports that homeowners are facing similar problems with their lawn equipment.

A second issue with ethanol is that it cleans everything it has contact with, from whatever point it is mixed in with gas at the refinery or tanker and it carries all those contaminants to a boat's fuel tank, said Rush of San Carlos Marine. Those contaminants can clog fuel filters and the injection system. "You will limp in if you can even get home," Rush said. "A lot of the repair bills come from the intrusion of water and contaminants in the water," said Kaestner of Matanzas Marine.

There also are reports that ethanol can cause polyester resin in older fiberglass fuel tanks to degrade to create a gunk that clogs the fuel system. "Pre-1991 fiberglass tanks are the most affected," Kaestner said.

Boat owners need to be diligent about preventive measures or avoid E10 fuel entirely, he and other marine service operators say. If a boat doesn't have a water separating fuel filter, it's prudent to add one that is a 10-micron filter and change it frequently, he and others say. "I went down to the Keys in July with my personal boat and I went through three water-separating fuel filters," Rush said, referring to his 17-foot flatbeds boat with a 115 Yamaha engine. "At the first sign (of trouble), I changed it and put in a new filter. I did three in two weeks." He keeps spares on his boat with each filter running $18.95...

The Naples City Dock began receiving E10 fuel on May 26 but has been ethanol free since the end of October, dockmaster Mike Klein said. "We were basically forced to take ethanol in the beginning because they did not want to have separate tanks at any of the ports," he said. "Ports did not set aside a tank for ethanol free. I knew (the law) excluded marinas but that was all we could get."...

"I cannot find gas without ethanol to purchase," said Lou Penido, harbormaster of Port of the Islands Marina in southeast Collier County. "It wasn't available. My problem is I don't sell many gallons, I have to buy from suppliers close by."

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