Friday, July 24, 2009

Why computer models are a joke as the sole basis for policy

By John Droz, jr., Physicist and Environmental Advocate

Everyone readily admits that things aren't always what they seem. But are we really applying this knowledge in our daily dealings - are we consciously ferreting out the illusionary from the reality? I think not. For instance, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we aren't really being run by pandering politicians, self-serving lobbyists, fanatical environmentalists, and greedy Wall Street manipulators! They are the illusion. There is another even more powerful (but much less visible) agent, behind all of these puppets.

The person behind the screen is the computer programmer. And, just like in the Wizard of OZ, they do not want you to look at this real controller. I'll probably have to turn in my membership card, but as a computer programmer (and physicist and environmental activist) I'm here to spill the beans about the Wiz.

The first hint of trouble is spelled out in Wikipedia's explanation about computer programmers: "The discipline differs from many other technical professions in that programmers generally do not need to be licensed or pass any standardized (or governmentally regulated) certification tests in order to call themselves `programmers' or even `software engineers.'"

Hmmm. My layperson explanation is that computer programming is all about making assumptions, and then converting these into mathematical (boolean) equations. The big picture question is this: is it really possible to accurately convert complex real-world situations into one's and zero's? Hal may think so, but higher processing brains say no. Yet this is continuously attempted, with very limited success.

Let's pull the screen back a bit more. We'll start with an example about how such a model makes assumptions. One of the computer programs I wrote was for debt collectors. A typical scenario was that a debtor was given a date to make a payment, and then the collection company doesn't receive it by that date. What response is then appropriate? In such a circumstance the computer program typically sends out an automatic letter (or makes an automatic phone call) to the debtor. (Remember there are thousands of these debtors, and it would be prohibitively time consuming for an agency person to manually check into and follow up each case.)

So what to say in this correspondence to the debtor? Well, it comes down to the assumptions made by the computer programmer. The programmer tries to simplify such situations into mathematical options. In this case they may decide that it comes down to "does the debtor have the money to make this payment: YES or NO?" This relatively basic choice then leads to a Boolean progression within the program.

How does the programmer (model) decide on YES or NO? Well other indicators would be used (e.g. were prior payments made on time) to come up with a statistical probability. Of course any computer model is not ONE set of choices, but rather a whole series of YES/NO (IF/OR) calculations that lead to a conclusion. In a complex situation (e.g. debt collection, climate change, or financial derivatives) there could easily be a hundred such choices to deal with.

To understand the implications of that, let's just consider the case where there are TEN such decision points - each with a YES or NO answer. At the end of such a pipeline, that means that there are 210 (i.e. 1024) possible results. That's a LOT of different potential conclusions!

Unfortunately there are actually MANY more possibilities! My assumption that this debtor situation could be condensed down to a YES or NO answer, is not accurate. There are several other real situations that fall outside of YES or NO. For instance, what if the debtor never got a notice in to first place that the amount was due by the date the agency is monitoring? Or what if the debtor sent the money and it got lost in transition? Or what if the debtor made the payment to the original person they owed, rather than the collection agency? Or what if the debtor sent in the money on time, and the collection agency incorrectly didn't credit the debtor for the payment? Etc., etc.

For the computer program (model) to be accurate, ALL of these scenarios need to be able to be handled properly (legally, timely, etc.). Can you begin to see the complexity here, just with this very simple example of a payment not being received on time?

There is still another significant factor (we're up to #4 now) not mentioned yet. What about the situation where the debtor hasn't paid, but it's because his child has MS, and he has no insurance? How does a computer programmer write code for more abstract concepts, like "fairness"? In other words, can ones and zeros be arranged in such a way to represent intangibles? I think not.

So the bottom line question is this: is there any way that a computer program can correctly handle ALL of these real-world possibilities - even in this simple debt collection case? The answer is no. NO!!!

We have considerable difficulties just translating the relatively simple thing we call language - e.g. Greek biblical texts into English. How many versions of the Bible are there? Why isn't there just one? Can we possibly hope to translate a process much more complicated than just words?

We can certainly try, but clearly the answer is that there is a LOT lost in the translation of any complex scenario (debtors, energy performance, etc.) into mathematical equations and computer code. Some uninformed parties believe that the user has control of all the variables, and can manually (and accurately) change scenarios. That is incorrect, as the user-controlled elements only represent a small fraction of the actual number of factors that are built into the computer model.

A similar fallacy is to think something like "we know the assumptions that the programmers made, and are adjusting accordingly." Wrong! In writing a computer program of any complexity, there are literally hundreds of assumptions made. The computer programmer does NOT reveal all these to his customer, for much the same reasons that an accountant does not tell his client all of the assumptions made in preparing a tax return. He goes over a few of the more basic items, and then says "sign here."

Oh, yes, this example brings up still another MAJOR variable (#7): the data the programmer uses as the basis for his creation. Just like preparing a tax return depends on two parties working together, writing a computer model is a collaboration between scientist and programmer. If the taxpayer gives incomplete or inaccurate data to the accountant, the result will be wrong. What's disconcerting is that in many cases, neither party will know that the results are in error...

Similarly if the scientist gives incomplete or inaccurate date to the programmer to use in his creation, the result will likewise be wrong. AND neither party will know it! I hate to keep going on here, but this is important stuff! Believe it or not, there is still one more significant variable (#8) that we have to take into account.

After a computer model is generated, there is then an interpreter (e.g. IPCC) that translates the "results" for politicians and the public (i.e. the media). Here's a surprise: these public interpretations are influenced by such factors as political, religious, environmental, financial, and scientific opinions. In their public revelations, do the interpreters explain all of their underlying biases? By now you know the answer: absolutely not. When these are introduced into the equation we obviously have strayed so far from scientific fact that it is not even in sight anymore.

Soooo, we need to think VERY CAREFULLY before we take major actions (e.g. spend a few Trillion dollars based on climate predictions, wind energy projected performance, etc.) that are almost entirely based on computer models. What to do? Should we just scrap all computer models? No, that's the other extreme. Computer models have merit - but shouldn't be the tail wagging the dog. We should realistically see computer models for what they are - tools to assist us in organizing our thoughts, and highly subjective results that are simply starting points for real scientific analysis.

Because of their inherent limitations (which I've just touched on here) ALL computer models should be treated with a very healthy degree of skepticism. To insure appropriate integrity, ALL computer models regarding matters of importance should be subjected to the rigors of scientific methodology. If they can't accurately and continuously replicate the results of real world data, then they should be discarded.

Unfortunately that is not what is happening. We have gotten so addicted to the illusion that these programs are accurate - and some have become so agenda driven - that we are now adjusting or discarding real world date that doesn't agree with the model. This is insane! If a model has not been proven to fully reflect reality, then it has very limited use, and should be treated with the same degree of consideration that one might give a horoscope.


Peer-Reviewed Study Rocks Climate Debate! Nature not man responsible for late 20th century global warming

'Surge in global temps since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean'

A new peer-reviewed climate study is presenting a head on challenge to man-made global warming claims. The study by three climate researchers appears in the July 23, 2009 edition of Journal of Geophysical Research.

Three Australasian researchers have shown that natural forces are the dominant influence on climate, in a study just published in the highly-regarded Journal of Geophysical Research. According to this study little or none of the late 20th century global warming and cooling can be attributed to human activity.

The research, by Chris de Freitas, a climate scientist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, John McLean (Melbourne) and Bob Carter (James Cook University), finds that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a key indicator of global atmospheric temperatures seven months later. As an additional influence, intermittent volcanic activity injects cooling aerosols into the atmosphere and produces significant cooling.

"The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Niño conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Niña conditions less likely" says corresponding author de Freitas.

"We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis.”

Climate researchers have long been aware that ENSO events influence global temperature, for example causing a high temperature spike in 1998 and a subsequent fall as conditions moved to La Niña. It is also well known that volcanic activity has a cooling influence, and as is well documented by the effects of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption.

The new paper draws these two strands of climate control together and shows, by demonstrating a strong relationship between the Southern Oscillation and lower-atmospheric temperature, that ENSO has been a major temperature influence since continuous measurement of lower-atmospheric temperature first began in 1958.

According to the three researchers, ENSO-related warming during El Niño conditions is caused by a stronger Hadley Cell circulation moving warm tropical air into the mid-latitudes. During La Niña conditions the Pacific Ocean is cooler and the Walker circulation, west to east in the upper atmosphere along the equator, dominates.

"When climate models failed to retrospectively produce the temperatures since 1950 the modellers added some estimated influences of carbon dioxide to make up the shortfall," says McLean.

"The IPCC acknowledges in its 4th Assessment Report that ENSO conditions cannot be predicted more than about 12 months ahead, so the output of climate models that could not predict ENSO conditions were being compared to temperatures during a period that was dominated by those influences. It's no wonder that model outputs have been so inaccurate, and it is clear that future modelling must incorporate the ENSO effect if it is to be meaningful."

Bob Carter, one of four scientists who has recently questioned the justification for the proposed Australian emissions trading scheme, says that this paper has significant consequences for public climate policy. "The close relationship between ENSO and global temperature, as described in the paper, leaves little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions. The available data indicate that future global temperatures will continue to change primarily in response to ENSO cycling, volcanic activity and solar changes.”

“Our paper confirms what many scientists already know: which is that no scientific justification exists for emissions regulation, and that, irrespective of the severity of the cuts proposed, ETS (emission trading scheme) will exert no measurable effect on future climate.”

Reference: McLean, J. D., C. R. de Freitas, and R. M. Carter (2009), Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature, Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, D14104.


Time series for the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and global tropospheric temperature anomalies (GTTA) are compared for the 1958−2008 period. GTTA are represented by data from satellite microwave sensing units (MSU) for the period 1980–2008 and from radiosondes (RATPAC) for 1958–2008. After the removal from the data set of short periods of temperature perturbation that relate to near-equator volcanic eruption, we use derivatives to document the presence of a 5- to 7-month delayed close relationship between SOI and GTTA. Change in SOI accounts for 72% of the variance in GTTA for the 29-year-long MSU record and 68% of the variance in GTTA for the longer 50-year RATPAC record. Because El Niño−Southern Oscillation is known to exercise a particularly strong influence in the tropics, we also compared the SOI with tropical temperature anomalies between 20°S and 20°N. The results showed that SOI accounted for 81% of the variance in tropospheric temperature anomalies in the tropics. Overall the results suggest that the Southern Oscillation exercises a consistently dominant influence on mean global temperature, with a maximum effect in the tropics, except for periods when equatorial volcanism causes ad hoc cooling. That mean global tropospheric temperature has for the last 50 years fallen and risen in close accord with the SOI of 5–7 months earlier shows the potential of natural forcing mechanisms to account for most of the temperature variation.


British wind power plan blown off course

The Government was facing a growing credibility gap over green jobs last night as environmental campaigners and trade unionists united to fight the closure of Britain's sole major wind turbine plant.

Only last week, ministers proclaimed a green employment future for the UK involving 400,000 jobs in environmental industries such as renewable energy – yet this week they are declining to intervene over the forthcoming closure of the Vestas Wind Systems plant on the Isle of Wight, with nearly 600 redundancies.

Workers at the Newport factory, which makes wind turbine blades, were last night staging their third night of occupation of the plant in an attempt to prevent the closure which is scheduled for 31 July. In an alliance not seen before, they were being helped by climate-change campaigners who have set up an ad hoc camp outside the factory and yesterday helped to get food to the occupiers.

Vestas, a Danish company which is the world's biggest wind energy group, announced in April it was pulling out of the UK, citing the difficulties of getting wind farms built in Britain in the face of local "Nimby" opposition campaigns and the slowness of the planning system.

"A problem we are facing is our inability to get planning consent," said a senior company executive. "We needed a stable long-term market and that was not there in the UK. We have made clear to the Government that we need a market. We do not need money."

Several weeks before the closure announcement, Vestas bosses led by the chief executive, Ditlev Engle, went to 10 Downing Street for a high-level meeting attended by the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, where they made specific demands for more direct government support. When this was not forthcoming, the closure was announced.

While the Government may not have felt able to respond to what were in effect threats from a private manufacturing company, the consequence of allowing the country's major wind energy manufacturing plant to fold has attracted ferocious criticism from the green movement.

This was not least because of the prospect that the 7,000 or so wind turbines Britain will install over the next decade to help meet its climate-change targets will have to come from abroad, even though last week both Mr Miliband and the Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, launching the Government's climate strategy, went to great lengths to stress the green business opportunities of Britain becoming a low-carbon economy.

"Last week Labour promised Britain would install thousands of wind turbines in the coming years. Are ministers really now saying they'd rather buy those turbines from abroad than make them here in the UK?" said Robin Oakley, head of the Greepeace climate campaign. "Letting this factory close is like a football manager saying he's up for the cup then dropping his only goal scorer. It just doesn't make sense.

"It is factories like this and engineers like the ones occupying it that Britain desperately needs if ministers are serious about launching a green industrial revolution."

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party leader and the Isle of Wight's MEP, sent a message of support to the workers and called for immediate government intervention to save the factory from closure. "The decision to close the facility represents a spectacular failure by government ministers to adequately promote green industries, and protect the future of manufacturing in this country," she said.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "This closure exposes the hollow truth of Labour's climate change strategy." Five Labour MPs have already signed a Commons motion protesting against the closure.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said the company had taken a commercial decision to reduce its production capacity across northern Europe. She acknowledged there were "cultural and planning issues" behind the construction of wind farms, but promised they would be tackled by the climate strategy. She said: "We are hopeful Vestas will go ahead with their plans for a research and development facility on the Isle of Wight which could provide up to a further 300 jobs and also help develop and test products that are suitable for the UK offshore market."

Vestas erected a fence around the site in response to the protest. Workers claimed it was being put up to stop food or drink being sent in. One said: "We are convinced this is against the Human Rights Act because we are being denied humanitarian aid."

Three protesters were arrested outside the site. Hampshire Police said a 28-year-old man from Southampton had been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and a 49-year-old man from Portsmouth was arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace.

A London man, aged 38, was arrested on suspicion of a breach of the peace and later released without charge.


Source Of Man Made Warming Discovered!

It's imperfect ground-based measurements, used in preference to more accurate satellite data. Excerpt only below

Folks, after years of scientific measurement and debate we have determined global warming is indeed man made, and we have isolated the source for 100% of the man made global warming.

The reason it took years to resolve is we had to have a few decades of actual measurements to confirm global warming is a man-made phenomena and to determine the source. With decades of highly accurate, global and time correlated satellite data we have succeeded in both goals!

What we have seen in the last decade or so is a divergence between the models predictions of warming and the actual measurements. This divergence has been getting worse up until the point the someone had to take action. And what they did proved beyond a doubt the real source of global warming:

NOAA proclaimed May 2009 to be the 4th warmest for the globe in 130 years of record keeping. Meanwhile NASA UAH MSU satellite assessment showed it was the 15th coldest May in the 31 years of its record. This divergence is not new and has been growing. Just a year ago, NOAA proclaimed June 2008 to be the 8th warmest for the globe in 129 years of record keeping. Meanwhile NASA satellites showed it was the 9th coldest June in the 30 years of its record.

So how could satellite data - which covers the entire globe and is measured many times a day (not just once or twice) record May 2009 as the 16th warmest year in 31 years, while NOAA reports the same month as the 4th warmest in 130 years? Clearly, one set of data is clearly flawed and in error. And the fact this divergence is consistent means the error is systemic - it repeats no matter what satellite data is used (satellite instruments are swapped out constantly as the birds end their missions and new ones take over).

The answer is basically called smearing bad data over good data. Modern satellite sensors are incredibly accurate. We can measure the height of the ocean waves to the centimeter level from space. No buoys on the surface can do this, and not across the entire globe. Maybe you can get a rough data point within a couple thousand square miles, but only satellites can measure ocean wave heights across the globe from a single sensor (which makes all the measurements consistent to one sensor’s performance, not the random performance of innumerable and un-calibrated sensors spread all over the globe).

Satellite systems are by far the most accurate and global measurement systems - unless they tell you something you would prefer to pretend did not exist. Then they all of sudden become secondary to antiquated, aging and inconsistent ground based sensors. It like saying I would prefer to navigate via sextant and clock than use a GPS receiver with built in maps and routes.

And that desperate grasp to outdated and error prone measurements is the only methodology showing any global warming, and even this requires a significant amount of massaging the accuracy out of the data to create the science fiction that is man-made CO2 driven global warming:

NOAA and the other station base data centers suffer from major station dropout (nearly 3/4ths of the stations) many of them rural, there has been a tenfold increase in missing months in remaining stations, no adjustment for urbanization even as the population grew from 1.5 billion to 6.7 billion since 1900 and documented bad station siting for 90% of the observing sites in the United States and almost certainly elsewhere.........

Anthony mentions how in testimony in March 2009 before congress, NCDC’s director Tom Karl opined about satellite data and the “adjustments” required:

“It is important to note raw satellite data and rapidly produced weather products derived from satellite sensors are rarely useful for climate change studies. Rather, an ordered series of sophisticated technical processes, developed through decades of scientific achievement, are required to convert raw satellite sensor data into Climate Data Records (CDRs).”

It is not all that sophisticated really. It is, in fact, a cheesy and blatant act of misinformation. There is no reason for the 30 years of satellite data not to be right in and of itself. It is fair to say when you go back into history before the era of satellite-based temperature measurements there is room to debate. But within the satellite era the measurements cannot be inconsistent.

There is no way the ground experienced 4 warmer Mays in the last 30 years when the satellites measured 15. And when we go back 130 years this premise or theory becomes improbable, at best. Here is the real data, un-smeared:

So we now have irrefutable proof of the existence and source of man-made global warming. The source is falsified data that spreads low quality and less precise measurements over more consistent and higher precision satellite data, masking the fact the Earth has not seen any warming in 3 decades and is right now cooling off slightly (as anyone can see from the cold records being broken).

The cause is man-made bad data, the source is the alarmist. Is there a direct correlation between CO2 and warming? Well, if you correlate all the hot air these snake oil salesmen produce as they raise the false alarm bells then I guess there is one.

Face it, these people are trying to steal our money by taxing energy so they can get rich. It’s not all that complicated.


Green Desperation

By Alan Caruba

The environmental movement and, in particular, “global warming”, has become a joke. That is always a sign of decline. Unless you’re a comedian, when people start laughing at you it’s never a good thing.

There are often defining moments in the death of a movement and I think I may have spotted one when the Australian July issue of Rolling Stone featured a naked Miranda Kerr on its “Green Issue” cover, chained to a tree while demurely covering her naughty parts to advance the cause of koala bears. Ms. Kerr is described as a “super model” and terribly concerned that there are only 100,000 koalas left. Apparently, “global warming” has something to do with that.

If you have to use nudity to sell your nonsense, you are scrapping bottom; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals does it all the time.

Back in the U.S. one of the biggest idiots in the U.S. Senate, a former candidate for President, John Kerry, had convened a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which predicted that “massive crop devastation, melting glaciers, water shortages, (and) millions of displaced people…will drag the U.S. military into conflict if global climate change goes unchecked.”

Observers may have noticed that Greens no longer refer to “global warming” much anymore as opposed to “climate change.” This is because (a) there is NO global warming and (b) the climate has always been in a process of change over the past 4.5 billion years. If you wanted to ensure that the U.S. military continued to receive billions for defense, claiming that “rising sea levels” will lead to conflicts is a pretty silly way of justifying it, given the threats to peace in the Middle East and elsewhere.

My friend, John Brignell, a British emeritus professor and expert on statistics, maintains a website that features a page devoted to the endless events, trends, and predictions attributed to “global warming.” It is a hoot.

Among the things attributed to “global warming” are acne, a saltier Atlantic Ocean, a decline in the duck and goose population, and, my favorite, why “global warming” is responsible for blizzards and colder winters.

A recent story on claimed that the dark-colored sheep of the Scottish St. Kilda islands may fall victim to “rising temperatures”, replacing them with lighter ones. The whole of the British Isles has been experiencing colder weather thanks to a cooling cycle that has been occurring for the past ten years. It’s worse than mere twaddle, a story like this is just one of thousands desperately trying to advance and keep alive the absurd “global warming” theory.

$79 Billion Spent on Climate Change "Science"!

Here in the United States, the Science and Public Policy Institute just announced the publication of “Climate Money”, a study by Joanne Nova that reveals the federal government has a near-monopoly on climate science funding and has spent “more than $79 billion of taxpayer’s money since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, propaganda campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks.”

The study concludes, understandably, that “Most of this spending was unnecessary.”

The entire bogus “Cap-and-Trade” Act languishing in Congress is about selling “carbon credits.” This is just one degree more disingenuous than selling bottled water when the H2O that comes out of your kitchen faucet is as clean and safe as any you will find from an artesian well. Meanwhile, worldwide, the trading reached $126 billion in 2008.

This is why everything about environmentalism is a scam. Can you think of a single good reason to spend $126 billion for the right to emit carbon dioxide when 97% of it comes from nature? The Earth emits CO2 all the time in the form of volcanic activity, the action of the oceans, storing and releasing it. When you exhale six pounds of it every day?

The desperation you’re seeing and hearing represents Green organizations whose entire agenda is devoted to keeping Americans from having access to any form of energy, destroying our economy, and from the bankers like Goldman Sacks who figure to make billions trading carbon credits.

Americans, many of whom are increasingly out of work, losing their homes and cars, putting off vacations, college for their kids, and any prospect of ever being able to retire are growing tired of this insanity. They have more important things to worry about.


Humanity can't power progress with green faith

By Martin Ferguson (Martin Ferguson is the federal Resources and Energy Minister in Australia's centre-Left Federal government)

ENVIRONMENTALISTS who oppose everything except renewable energy are condemning billions to poverty. THE federal government's support for a liquefied natural gas development in the Kimberley and the Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia has generated heated opposition from people who say they are true environmentalists.

The same people oppose the government's $2.4 billion commitment to accelerate low-emission coal technologies. And, despite a renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020 and more than $2bn also being spent to accelerate and commercialise renewable technologies, they don't like biomass even though it is proven and often the most affordable, efficient and practical of the renewable technologies on offer today. Some also oppose geothermal energy.

Such opposition demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of where our electricity comes from, how much it costs, who pays for it and what the future global energy landscape looks like. There are 1.6 billion people in the world with no access to electricity. They are the poorest people on the planet. As the developing world continues to modernise and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development economies continue to grow, global energy consumption is set to nearly double in the next 20 years.

China is the obvious case study. It already has 11 nuclear power stations in operation and a further 29 under construction or announced. China's LNG imports are set to double this year and increase a further 50 per cent next year. It already has more renewable energy capacity than any other nation and renewable energy's share of domestic capacity in China will grow to 15 per cent in 2020.

And every four months, from now until 2020, China will build new coal-fired power stations possessing the same capacity as Australia's entire coal-fired power sector. Clearly, no serious response to climate change can ignore the need to clean up coal. Those who oppose the development of Australia's uranium and LNG resources, and low-emission coal technologies, need to answer the following two questions.

Do they want the world's poor to have access to electricity? If so, how do they propose to generate it? The answers would be yes and renewables. Admirable, but impossible today. I have yet to meet anyone who opposes the use of cheap, reliable renewable energy. However, the factors limiting the uptake of renewables remain technical, not political. We must have a rational, science-based pathway to overcome those hurdles. Faith alone will not get us there.

That is precisely why the federal government is making unprecedented investments in clean-energy technology development and our budget this year contained $4.5bn to achieve this goal. Governments across the world are taking similar steps because technology created this problem and only an energy technology transformation will solve it. Many different technology pathways are being pursued because it is too early to pick winners.

Technologies capable of producing clean, affordable, reliable base-load power from the sun, the wind or the ocean, or from low-emission coal, may still be several years away. Any objective assessment of available global energy options would conclude that gas and uranium are essential transition fuels as the world moves to a cleaner energy future.

During the next few decades, uranium and LNG are set to play a significant role in the global response to climate change and, put simply, blanket opposition to these industries is a political stance, not a practical one. As an energy-rich nation with a wide range of options, Australia does not need to pursue a domestic nuclear power industry, yet many nations are not so lucky. For them, a nuclear energy capacity is vital to respond to the challenges of climate change and energy security.

With about 40 per cent of the world's uranium, Australia has an obligation to be a responsible supplier of uranium for peaceful purposes and an opportunity to make a significant contribution to global carbon dioxide abatement efforts.

This comes with significant economic benefits. Australia's uranium exports are forecast to nearly double by 2014, to $1.6bn. Our LNG sector is set to have an even greater impact.

Australia is already the fifth largest LNG exporter, with exports worth nearly $10bn in 2008-09. With the range of projects under consideration in northwestern Australia and at Gladstone, LNG exports could triple in the next decade. These are big employers and big investors. Take Woodside's Pluto LNG project in the Pilbara, Australia's largest single investment project at about $12bn. Today, at the peak of construction, it is employing about 4000 people, one in four of whom come from the east coast.

Later this year, Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil expect to make a final investment decision on the Gorgon LNG project, also in the Pilbara. And the race is on to develop Inpex's Ichthys project in Darwin, the Sunrise project in the Timor Sea and various coal seam methane-based LNG projects in Gladstone, Queensland. The Gorgon project alone could involve total investment in the order of $50bn. That's a one-project, private sector economic stimulus package.

The federal government is also working with industry, the West Australian government and the Kimberley Land Council to establish a new regional LNG hub in the Kimberley to develop Browse Basin gas reserves. We have committed more than $340 million in the West Kimberley during the next four years to close the gap on indigenous disadvantage. An LNG hub could secure the future economic and social empowerment of indigenous communities in the Kimberley as well as add to national wealth and provide a new clean energy source for our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region.

As an electricity source that emits about half the CO2 of coal today, a rapidly expanding Australian LNG industry will have a very positive environmental effect for the planet. When LNG is used instead of coal to generate electricity in China, nine tonnes of CO2 emissions are saved for every tonne of LNG produced.

The global energy landscape of the 21st century is complex and dynamic. As the world moves -- appropriately -- to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, the true environmentalists are those willing to embrace science and technology in the search for safe, environmentally sustainable and affordable ways to deliver uranium, LNG, low-emission coal and renewable energy technologies. The world needs all of them for a cleaner energy future.



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


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