Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Melting" Greenland

You would be hard put to keep track of all the "scientific" announcements about the Greenland icecap melting. Yet below is the temperature chart for central Greenland in recent years. Greenland sure is cooling, whether or not the earth as a whole is. Melting, my foot. Truth is the first casualty of Leftism

The graph is from the Wolfram Alpha scientific database. To see the graph there for yourself, see the "history & forecast" section, where it displays "Current Week," and from the dropdown selections it gives, click on "All." That will display a graph of average temps from 1983 to 2008

Beliefs About the Environment Ruled as Equivalent to Religious Beliefs

A British tribunal has ruled that employers must treat strongly held views on climate change practices the same as they would religious beliefs

Senior executive Tim Nicholson claimed he was unfairly dismissed by a property investment company because his views on the environment conflicted with other managers’ “contempt for the need to cut carbon emissions”.

In the first case of its kind, an employment tribunal decided that Nicholson, 41, had views amounting to a “philosophical belief in climate change”, allowing him the same legal protection against discrimination as religious beliefs.....

“[My belief] affects how I live my life including my choice of home, how I travel, what I buy, what I eat and drink, what I do with my waste, and my hopes and fears,” he said. “For example, I no longer travel by plane, I have eco-renovated my home, I compost my food waste and encourage others to reduce their carbon emissions.”

Judge David Sneath said at the employment tribunal: “[Nicholson] has certain views about climate change and acts upon those views in the way in which he leads his life. In my judgment his belief goes beyond a mere opinion.”

The decision, which is being challenged by the company, comes two years after the law on religious discrimination was changed so that beliefs no longer had to be “similar” to religious faith to receive protection in the workplace.

Under the new law “philosophical belief” is protected by the law alongside religious belief if it passes a legal test requiring it to be cogent, serious and “worthy of respect in a democratic society”....

I have no problem with a belief system being treated with the same deference and respect as established religions—provided they are willing to submit themselves to the same scrutiny and evaluation of how they are allowed to be applied in the public square. For example, if believing in climate change is a protected belief, then its antithesis—disbelief in climate change—must also be protected. Is that really the game environmentalists want to play?



A new Wall St extravaganza?

The legitimacy of the $100 billion (£60 billion) carbon-trading market has been called into question after the world’s largest auditor of clean-energy projects was suspended by United Nations inspectors.

SGS UK had its accreditation suspended last week after it was unable to prove its staff had properly vetted projects that were then approved for the carbon-trading scheme, or even that they were qualified to do so.

The episode will be embarrassing for European lawmakers in the run-up to the global climate summit in Copenhagen, where they will attempt to lure big polluters such as America and China into a binding agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol. SGS is the second such company to be suspended – Norway’s DNV was penalised last November for similar infractions.

The EU’s carbon-trading system, which puts a price on pollution through carbon permits that can be bought and sold, is the key element in Europe’s fight against climate change.

About a fifth of the $100 billion of credits traded annually come from projects funded under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The heavily criticised programme allows industrialised countries to offset their pollution by buying “certified emission reductions credits” generated by low-car-bon schemes in the developing world. China and India are the biggest generators of the credits: more than 900 projects are now running, producing billions of credits, with thousands more in the pipeline. Critics say the system is not sufficiently policed and allows western polluters to buy their way out of more costly carbon-cutting measures.

All such schemes must first be approved by organisations such as SGS. DNV was the single biggest auditor until it was suspended last year, when much of its workload was shifted to SGS, which was simply unable to cope.

Simon Shaw, chairman of EEA Fund Management, a backer of emission-reduction projects and an investor in Climate Exchange, the carbon-trading platform, said: “There was obviously a lack of resources. We knew this was coming.”

UN inspectors said they found six irregularities in a recent spot check. The firm has now rectified these, but remains suspended until the UN verifies sufficient changes have been made. SGS could not be reached for comment.

Lawmakers are expected to reform the CDM in Copenhagen in December. A research firm that tracks trends in clean energy and carbon trading has been put up for sale with a £30m-£40m price tag. New Energy Finance was set up in 2004 by Michael Liebre-ich, a former McKinsey consultant who owns a key stake.

Its backers include former Reed Elsevier boss Sir Crispin Davis and Mike Luckwell, a one-time investor in Hit Entertainment. The corporate finance firm Quayle Munro was brought in to advise on options after takeover approaches were received.



Sixteen months ago Costco and Sam’s Club stores in the U.S. limited how much rice customers could buy at one time, while ‘food riots’ erupted in a number of countries as food prices spiraled upward. Concerns about food supply and distribution spread worldwide.

We were asked to make introductory comments and moderate a discussion on “The Global Food Crisis” at a meeting sponsored by the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the World Affairs Council of last month. The World Affairs Council is a non-profit organization seeking to increase awareness and understanding of international business and political issues.

Our introductory comments on global trends in the agriculture sector last month were as follows:

Mankind’s greatest challenge over the next 50 years will be supplying adequate supplies of reasonably priced energy and food to support the globe’s growing population and economy

The “Green Revolution” of the 1950’s and 60’ is only 60 years old: U.S. corn yields have increased from 25 bushels per acre in 1900 to 40 bushels per acre in 1950, the start of the Green Revolution. We produced 120 bushels per acre in 2000. Time magazine noted last month U.S. farms now produce “an astounding 152 bushels per acre”. The amount of energy used to produce these yields has increased 30 to 50 times from that used in 1950

This revolution has allowed world grain output to more than triple since 1950 The keys to the “Green Revolution” are twofold:

Agriculture moved from organic focused to inorganic focused technology, using increasing amounts of petroleum based or energy intensive fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and machinery – as well as antibiotics and steroids. Organic agricultural methods could support roughly 4 billion people – but the global population has grown to over 6.5 billion

Crops were effectively cross-bred to enhance characteristics that support higher yields and efficient harvesting

The Western diet is very energy intensive with 7 calories or more of input needed for every calorie of food consumed. Asian populations are rapidly moving toward a “Western” style, energy-intensive diet, as their economies develop

Over the last 5 years global excess grain inventories have dropped in spite of generally good global harvests. The USDA projects near record corn and soybean harvests this year in the U.S. – but crops have been slow to develop and could be subject to an early freeze. One-third of the U.S. corn crop will be used for ethanol or alternative fuel production. Roughly 1 calorie is needed to produce around 1 calorie of ethanol liquid fuel – making this alternative energy policy somewhat suspect

In our opinion four major threats exist for the global agricultural sector:

Irrigation and fresh water will be required in increasing amounts to support the expansion of global agriculture. Groundwater is becoming more difficult and expensive to pump in many areas, and is non-existent in others. Currently major portions of California and Texas are in severe drought. Desalination of seawater is very energy intensive and generally is not economic for agriculture use.

Energy is becoming a more expensive input. When diesel fuel and fertilizer costs increase substantially growers reduce planting reflecting the economics. The volatility of energy and fertilizer prices also make it very difficult to plan what crops to plant, and in what quantities. When energy prices increase agricultural prices must increase substantially or economics will dictate fewer acres are planted. Many parts of the globe cannot afford expensive grains.

Asian population and economic growth will result in more people eating increasingly energy intensive foods as they “Westernize” their diets. Demand for grains should increase as grains are increasingly used as a biofuel or animal feedstock.

A crop failure in North America would have severe implications for global grain prices. The U.S. and Canada are the major global grain exporting countries. An early freeze in the grain belt, or a disease such as UG-99 (a wheat stem rust now threatening India), could severely impact crop yields. The U.S. experienced a major wheat crop failure due to disease back in the 1950’s; a repeat would be much more disruptive.

Historical trends in the Midwest indicate a severe drought occurs every 20 years or so (tree rings indicate this cycle has persisted for 600 years) – and it has been roughly 20 years since the last major drought. Some meteorologist also suggest a correlation between the sunspot cycle, the sun’s energy that reaches the earth, and long term weather trends – claiming the lack of sunspots can cause global cooling.

The “Maunder” and “Dalton” sunspot minimums correlated with the “Little Ice Age” of roughly 1650-1800. Global cooling trend would adversely impact growing seasons. The current sunspot cycle should have recovered from a low point of activity and resulted in dozens of sunspots by now – yet sunspots are eerily missing, and have been for about a year now. Scientists are unsure why this has occurred.



The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Yvo De Boer ruled out the possibility that a "comprehensive" international climate treaty will be ratified at Copenhagen in December.

De Boer, speaking at a press conference during the ongoing Summer Davos in Dalian, Northeast China said it is "impossible to craft and draft" a detailed climate treaty in "the time that remains" to address climate change.

"That is not possible. But it is also not necessary," he said, "I think what Copenhagen has to achieve is a basic political understanding" on the essential issues of climate change.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark in December and expectations were raised that a possible climate treaty could be signed by both developed and developing nations.

There is a gap between developing and developed countries on how much they should reduce their carbon emissions based on the 1990 level.

Developing countries such as China and India have said that developed countries should offer at least a 40 percent reduction by 2020.

The European Union has promised to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels and by 30 percent if other developed nations follow suit.

The US Congress is debating a bill that would reduce emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels.

Japan’s incoming Prime Minster, Yukio Hatoyama pledged a 25% reduction.

According to the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), industrialized nations such as the G8 should reduce 25 percent to 40 percent from the 1990 levels by 2020 if the world intends to control temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.


Australia: Leftist leader in rare stand against the Greenies

Brisbane could run out of drinking water unless the federal government backs the nation's greenest new dam, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh warned yesterday. "Ultimately the lives of more than two million people and their ability to drink is at stake here," she said. "The next time a drought hits southeast Queensland, and it will, I want to make sure people have got the water they need to drink and to conduct their lives."

Ms Bligh said the state government would have to build two new desalination plants or resort to recycled water for drinking if federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett blocked the proposed $1.5 billion Traveston Dam on environmental grounds. "The ball is now in the court of the federal government," she said. "All I ask ... of Peter Garrett is that they assess this dam rationally and objectively on the best science."

Ms Bligh said she sympathised with residents affected by the Traveston Dam, to be built by flooding the Mary Valley near Gympie, two hours' drive north of Brisbane. "Unfortunately I get the hard decision of making sure everybody has enough water to drink," she said. "We've just been through a period when we came perilously close to running out of it, and I'm not going to be guilty of short-sightedness on the preparation for the future water needs of southeast Queensland."

Ms Bligh said the dam could be functioning by 2017 if the federal government gives the green light before Christmas. The Premier last November deferred the project, which was opposed at the March election by the Liberal National Party opposition.

The dam could have been filled 10times over - providing water for 800,000 people a day - since her government first announced the project three years ago. "This is a dam that will hold all the water southeast Queensland needs for decades to come," Ms Bligh said yesterday. "If the federal government does not give the go-ahead for the dam ... we will have to go back to the drawing board. "I know there are many people who are opposed to this dam, but the southeast corner of Queensland is the fastest-growing part of Australia, and quite frankly it needs water if it's going to survive and thrive."

The Queensland Co-ordinator General has submitted tougher environmental conditions to Mr Garrett's office. Islands and sandbanks would be created for the rare Mary River turtles in the main water storage area, and trees would be planted to increase the area of vegetation around the river and its tributaries from 260ha to more than 2000ha over 20 years.

Ms Bligh blamed farming during the past 150 years for degrading the Mary River habitat to the point of endangering fish, frogs and turtles. Queensland Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said environmental rehabilitation works associated with the new dam "absolutely will provide the opportunity to save those species".

A spokesman for Mr Garrett said yesterday the project would undergo "thorough and rigorous scrutiny" under the national environment laws. Greens leader Bob Brown denounced the dam as "the most damaging project that's conceivable", and said he did not believe Mr Garrett would support it.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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