Monday, February 28, 2011

Shhsshh … don’t talk about the science

by Bob Carter, writing from Australia

Last Wednesday, February 23, Prime Minister Gillard announced, on behalf of her Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change, an in-principle commitment to introduce a carbon dioxide tax in Australia on July 1, 2012.

This despite the irreconcilable breakdown of the Copenhagen and Cancun meetings that were aimed at achieving international agreement on similar action, and despite it now being clear also that cap-and-trade measures are dead for the foreseeable future in the USA.

This representing, first, a broken election promise of some magnitude, and, second, a stupid policy, it is not surprising that the announcement provoked an immediate blizzard of public criticism and resistance. Yet as I write, and after almost 4 days of saturation press coverage, not a single mainstream media commentator appears to have discussed the real issue at hand.

That issue is, of course, supposedly dangerous global warming caused by human carbon dioxide emissions. And note the two adjectives “supposedly” and “dangerous”, for both are critically important to the debate that we are failing to have.

Instead of analysing the global warming issue – about which, more below – press commentary continues to endlessly recycle tired, stale, sanctimonious and entirely misleading clichés about carbon pollution, climate change and energy efficiency. Everyone, it seems, has a strong opinion, yet almost none of these opinions are grounded in the empirical science facts that society used to view as the essential basis for good public policy decisions.

So what about the famous global warming which occurred in the late 20th century, whatever happened to that? Well, not only did the gentle warming terminate in 1998, but in accord with natural climate cycling, that warming has been followed by a gentle cooling since about 2001. That’s ten years of no temperature increase, let along dangerous increase, over the same time period that atmospheric carbon dioxide increased by about 5%.

Run that past me again, Professors Garnaut and Flannery – your advice to government still remains that human carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming?

Do you understand the meaning of the phrases “empirical science” and “hypothesis testing”? Do you understand that the correct null hypothesis is that gentle warmings, such as that which occurred between 1979 and 1998, and equivalent coolings, are to be viewed as due to natural causes unless and until evidence indicates otherwise. Gentlemen, where is that evidence, and why is it not presented in the voluminous reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that you and the government so often refer to?

Despite this lack of evidence for dangerous, or potentially dangerous, warming, and despite the lack of efficacy of cutting carbon dioxide emissions as a means of preventing the trivial warming that is likely to occur (cutting all of Australia’s emissions would theoretically prevent, perhaps, around one-thousandth of a degree of warming), the political course in Canberra is now set on carbon tax autopilot, and the plane is flying squarely into the eye of a storm that is labelled “let’s spin a regressive new tax as a virtuous environmental measure”.

For instance, the Prime Minister says:

I also want to be very clear with Australians about what pricing carbon does. It has price impacts. It’s meant to. That’s the whole point.

No, Prime Minister, that is not the point at all. The point is supposed to be attaining a meaningful reduction in future warming, which a carbon dioxide taxation policy will not achieve – even were it to successfully close down the entire industrial economy of Australia

Climate Minister Mr Combet believes that reducing “carbon pollution” to “drive investment in clean energy …. is fundamentally what a carbon price is about”.

No, Greg, the matter has nothing to do with either carbon or pollution, for the alleged dangerous warming is supposed to be produced by the atmospheric trace gas carbon dioxide. To call carbon dioxide a pollutant is an abuse of logic, language and science, given its pivotal role in the photosynthetic processes that underpin most of our planetary ecosystems. In essence, carbon dioxide is the very staff of life, and increasing it in the atmosphere helps most plants to grow better and to use water more efficiently.

And, so far as energy efficiency is concerned, the market itself will drive any needed changes in future energy supply, as hydrocarbon resources run down, without your wasting more billions of dollars of taxpayers funds in picking white elephant “winners”. If you want to encourage alternative energy then by all means subsidize the introduction of clean, green nuclear power in Australia rather than frittering away scarce public resources on uneconomic eco-bling like windmills and solar farms.

Minister Combet is also prone to saying: “We are committed to tackling climate change”. No, Minister, you are not. Instead, you are playing with ghosts in trying to “stop” a chimerical dangerous global warming, and that for entirely political reasons. Meanwhile, you are offering nothing by way of policy initiatives to deal with the actual and very real hazards that are associated with NATURAL climate events and change in Australia.

Relating to the El Nino-La Nina weather cycle, no part of Australia has escaped climatic hazard in the last two years. Events like the Victorian bushfires, the Queensland floods and landfalling tropical cyclones in northern Australia are of concern to every citizen, indeed some have been killed by these events and many others have sustained crippling personal or business costs.

Despite which, Mr Combet and PM Gillard and their expert climate advisers appear to have no interest in dealing with these only-too-real natural climate problems in a commonsense and cost-effective way, which is by preparing better for them in advance, and adapting better to them as and when they occur. Instead they are busy constructing a tornado of political spin about imaginary global warming.

Dragging another skeletal warhorse out of the cupboard, Mr Combet makes the highly original assertion that “Business needs the certainty of a carbon (sic) price”. Yes, it most certainly does, Minister, and as Terry McCrann has endlessly pointed out, that certainty should be a price for carbon dioxide emissions of zero dollars per tonne. Then the power utility companies can get on with planning the mix of new coal, gas and nuclear power stations that are now urgently needed to secure Australia’s future.

Never has an important national policy issue been so surrounded with public dishonesty and deliberate ambiguity of language as is the issue of dangerous, human-caused global warming.

Choreographed over the years by green lobby groups, politicians and commentators alike now participate like puppets-on-strings in an entirely faux public gigue involving words or phrases like “carbon” (when they mean carbon dioxide), “pollution” (when they are referring to an environmentally beneficial trace gas), “settled science” (when the science is hotly contested, and the onus of proof of danger still rests, unattained, with the climate alarmists of a discredited IPCC), “climate change” (when they mean dangerous global warming), “energy efficiency” (in the same breath that they rule out the environmentally friendly baseload energy source represented by nuclear power) and “international good citizen” (at a time when international action on climate policy has never been less certain).

It is therefore entirely unsurprising that there has been a swing in public opinion against alarmism on global warming, though nervous Labor politicians are doubtless already sucking in deep breaths of surprise at the apparent strength of the swing. One recent online poll, in The Age of all places, received an 89% NO in answer to the question “Would you support a climate tax?”; and another, in the Herald-Sun and with more than 30,000 respondents, received an 85% NO to the question “Do you support a price on carbon (sic)?”.

Plans are already being made for a series of public protest rallies in metropolitan centres on March 23rd, and other organized protests and resistance are inevitable. Any reader who wishes to help fight the introduction of Prime Minister Gillard’s new carbon dioxide tax is invited to send an email expressing such interest to An online petition has also been organised and can be viewed here…

As I wrote in Part I of this article last Thursday, the government’s intention to introduce a carbon dioxide tax represents “a ridiculous attempt to compulsorily reduce the living standards of all Australians, with especial impact on the poorer ones”.

In the interest of good governance and sound environmental stewardship, I urge readers to reject this costly, inefficient, ineffectual, inequitable and unnecessary tax.



Three current articles below

Carbon tax a pledge of suicide

Terry McCrann

JULIA Gillard is embarked on introducing two new taxes. he first is the big lie that last week was turned into a big tax: her Julia carbon tax, the tax you have when you promise not to have that tax. The second is the reworked resources tax.

One is designed to force us to cut our emissions of carbon dioxide. To stress, emissions of the life-enhancing gas, not the so-called carbon pollution of bits of grit subconscious image that Gillard and Co deliberately promote.

The other is based on the assumption that China, in particular, but also India will continue to increase exponentially their emissions of that very same carbon dioxide.

Needless to say, except it does apparently need saying repeatedly, the increase in their emissions will dwarf any reduction we achieve. Rendering any reduction by us utterly pointless.

Indeed, China for all its claimed commitment to aggressive world leadership in alternative energy, plans to get most of its electricity from coal-fired power. Not just today, but tomorrow and, indeed, the day after tomorrow.

Over the next 10 years, it plans to install net new capacity of coal-fired power equal to 10 times our entire power generation sector.

To stress, that's net additional generation. Its existing coal-fired power sector is already 14 times our entire power sector. To the extent it does close down any -- really -- grit-emitting old dirty coal-fired generation, that means even more replacement plants. All fired increasingly by coal from . . . you fill in the blank.

Our real "assistance" to increased Chinese CO2 emissions, though, won't be centred on shipping energy coals from Newcastle. But in pouring hundreds of millions of tonnes of iron ore and coking coal every year into Chinese, and increasingly, Indian mills. And not to forget our old customers in Japan and South Korea.

Gillard's proposed resources tax doesn't just assume huge increases in these exports but is designed specifically to encourage their maximum expansion. Along with -- dare I say it, carbon-based -- natural gas.

Does the Prime Minister have the slightest self-awareness of a certain hypocrisy, but even more an incongruity between her two taxes and the underlying hopes and realities they are based on?

That on the one hand, she has to turn every light switch in the country into a tax collection point, to cut emissions to save the Barrier Reef, if not indeed the planet? Yet, on the other hand, she says a silent, secular, prayer that China and India go gangbusters emitting, to utterly swamp any such domestic emissions cuts; to save her budget from deficit? And not just save her -- or her successor's -- budget; that the foundation of the entire Australian economy will rest increasingly on those increasing emissions?

There is a further point of damning intersection with reference to China that has utterly eluded the Prime Minister. To say nothing of the massed brainpower of Treasury and our down under 21st century da Vinci, Ross Garnaut.

There she was at it again on Wednesday, saying that we had to move to a post-carbon economy. That "the global economy is shifting". That "Australia is at risk of falling behind the rest of the world." That "the longer we wait, the greater the cost to the economy, and the greater the cost to Australian jobs".

Somehow this message seems to have escaped the Chinese. And the Indians. They are making every effort to move to a carbon economy. Indeed, that's precisely the reason argued for giving them a pass on their exploding emissions.

If indeed the future, and the jobs of the future, lie in a post-carbon economy, wouldn't the very canny Chinese go straight to "that bountiful future?" What idiots they are for trying to build the carbon economy that our down-under smarties Gillard, Garnaut and (Treasury secretary Ken) Henry want to discard like yesterday's worn-out snakeskin.

So what is Gillard "saying" with her two taxes? That we should feed the Chinese and Indian carbon addiction? We should profit from the destruction of the planet? Literally, in the case of the government's tax revenues?

The truth is that Gillard and Co have taken policy into the realm of the surreal. She and her cabinet have moved beyond incoherence. Guided you have to say by a Treasury that has lost utterly any semblance of rational analysis and advice.

She makes Kevin Rudd, who had firmly established himself as a prime minister worse than Whitlam, look like the very model of prudent thoughtful judgment in comparison.

His rush to lock in an Emissions Trading Scheme before the Copenhagen conference was ridiculous and mad. It would have left Australia right out there like the proverbial shag on the rock when Copenhagen collapsed without even the most basic binding commitments.

To say nothing of the whole bureaucratic imposition of the ETS. More complicated and more onerous than the GST and open to far more rorts [abuses] than the building insulation fiasco.

But at least before Copenhagen, you could argue the hope of some global agreement requiring an Australian commitment.

Not so now after both its failure and even more the gas-emitting farce of Cancun. Gillard doesn't even have that excuse. She embarks on this destructive absurdity knowing that the world -- read: China, India and the US -- are not going to follow.

If we had a Treasury that retained any of its traditional competence, it would be telling the government that an attack on carbon dioxide emissions is an attack on Australia's core and pervasive national comparative advantage.

Why are we among the biggest emitters per head of CO2? The biggest by far, if we include the indirect emissions from the use of our resource exports?

Because we benefit from our bountiful coal and iron ore. Gillard's attack on the so-called carbon economy is not just designed to hurt every Australian. Permanently. It is effectively a national suicide pledge. From the nation's leader. Incredible. Surreal. All-too real.


Conservative leader hints he'd roll back carbon tax if he wins the 2013 election

Tony Abbott has signalled he will scrap Labor's carbon tax if he wins the next election.

And in a blow to the Gillard government, the Greens have suggested they will not support cent-for-cent cuts to the petrol excise to compensate for petrol price rises under the tax.

The Opposition Leader declared this morning: "We are against this in opposition and we will be against this in government."

The next election is not due until August 2013 - a year after Julia Gillard's carbon tax is scheduled to come into effect.

Mr Abbott said voters should be "crystal clear" that he was opposed to the tax, but said he had to consult with shadow cabinet before announcing his formal policy response. "What I am not going to do is totally pre-empt due process, as Julia Gillard did," Mr Abbott told radio station 2UE. "She didn't send this off to her cabinet, she didn't send this off to her party room and I have to do all those things."

The approach flagged by Mr Abbott appears similar to that taken by Kim Beazley with the GST. The former Labor leader went to the 2001 election promising to "roll back" elements of the GST, but the pledge was dropped at subsequent elections.

The government says no decision has been taken on whether petrol will be included in the scheme. But Greens deputy leader Christine Milne suggested this morning that compensation for petrol price rises should not be given across the board. "We need to be sure that we are compensating low income earners, the people who are most vulnerable," she said. "I want to make sure that we do that because our job is to make sure that they are not suffering because of this."

Selectively compensating voters for petrol price rises could prove difficult for the government, because of sensitivities over bowser prices.

Coalition MPs arriving at parliament this morning accused Ms Gillard of "lying" to the Australian people by reneging on a pre-election pledge not to introduce a carbon tax. "She's trying to weasel her way out of the fact she lied," Liberal MP Dennis Jensen said. "The simple point is she went to the election and quite explicitly stated on not just one occasion that there would be no carbon tax under her government."

But Labor MP Andrew Leigh accused Mr Abbott of running a fear campaign. "It's going to be a strong scare campaign and he's going to run hard on it, but it's not what I think the Australian people want," he said. "Direct action is very, very expensive. How do you pay for that? Probably a big new income tax rise."

Labor MP Janelle Saffin said the transition to a clean energy economy would create more jobs. A report to be released later today by the Climate Institute suggests a $45 a tonne carbon price could create almost 8000 permanent jobs in the electricity sector.

Another 26,000 temporary manufacturing and construction jobs would also be created, according to the research, which predicts billions of dollars would be invested in clean energy projects.


Unilateral action on carbon creates costs without benefits

Henry Ergas

"Hawke and Keating floated the dollar; we will price carbon," Julia Gillard said just prior to last week's deal with the Greens.

The comparison is inaccurate, however, for floating the dollar, like cutting tariffs, was desirable even if Australia acted alone; in contrast, a carbon tax can only yield benefits if major emitting countries do the same.

Moreover, the Hawke-Keating reforms, including floating the dollar and reducing protection, enhanced our long-standing comparative advantage, which is based on our resource wealth. So did those of the Howard government. This policy undermines it.

Indeed, in terms of Australia's national interest, it is difficult to think of a policy more harmful than such a unilateral tax.

This is because a high share of Australia's emissions are accounted for by export-oriented activities: some 33 per cent, compared with 8 per cent for the US. These activities include mining, where large fugitive emissions occur as resources are extracted.

Given the ready availability of alternative sources of supply, including Canada, the US and Brazil, a unilateral tax on these exports cannot cut global emissions: it merely alters their location.

But it would reduce Australian incomes, transferring overseas gains we would otherwise obtain from the resources boom. This policy therefore imposes costs without any obvious benefits.

In its defence, supporters of unilateral action make four claims. None of these stands up to scrutiny. The first is to deny our tax would be unilateral, pointing to carbon abatement policies elsewhere, notably Europe.

In reality, those policies are costly and ineffectual: the abatement they secure could be obtained by a carbon price well below that envisaged here. But even putting that aside, our export industries do not compete with the European economies. So whatever their carbon policies may be, they do not make our action any less unilateral in its consequences.

The second claim is that even if unilateral action did cause income losses, the creation of green jobs would offset them. The whole notion of a green job is confused: jobs are no more colour-coded than are people. And it is even more confused to think low-emission jobs are inherently preferable to those that are emissions-intensive: rather, what matters is each activity's contribution to wealth creation, assessed taking proper account of the social cost of emissions.

The extent of that wealth creation does not depend on whether a job is green, blue or purple; it depends on opportunity costs, that is, on what society gives up to generate a dollar of output in that activity. A well-functioning economy specialises in those activities in which its opportunity costs are lowest: that is what specialisation in line with comparative advantage means. Because we are so abundantly endowed with natural resources, Australia's opportunity costs are especially low in mining. That is why our share of world mineral exports is more than 25 times greater than our share of world exports overall.

And it is that specialisation in line with comparative advantage that makes us well off, as it allows us to import the many goods in which we have a comparative disadvantage from wherever their costs of production are lowest.

Given how pronounced our comparative advantage is in mining, shifting resources to other activities must make us substantially poorer. The claim that jobs tending windmills or speculating on emissions permits could offset those losses is implausible.

It is especially implausible as our pattern of comparative advantage is becoming more pronounced: in the nine years from June 2000, the net present value of Australia's mineral assets more than trebled. With the world placing ever higher value on our natural resources, relative to our other factor endowments (such as capital and labour), the income loss from unilaterally taxing mining exports must rise.

That loss is all the greater because the carbon tax acts like a supplementary royalty, as the amount to be paid rises with volumes produced. It therefore compounds the distorting effect of existing royalties and of the new mining tax. How the government can stridently criticise mining royalties because they tax production but want to aggravate their impact is yet to be explained.

The third claim defenders of the tax make is that by acting now, we increase the prospects of global agreement. That claim is also implausible. It accords Australia an influence at odds with the experience of international negotiations, not least at Copenhagen. Additionally and importantly, it ignores the fact that by undermining our own exports we make preventing agreement even more profitable for our rivals.

That the government has no plan for repealing the tax should international agreement not eventuate in a set time frame makes our rivals' incentive to delay even greater. To believe altruism will trump self-interest in determining their negotiating stance involves a considerable leap of faith. Fourth and last, supporters of a unilateral carbon tax claim it will bring certainty.

However, the only certainty for the community as a whole is that incomes will fall. What is left uncertain is just how great that fall will be, as that depends on what happens when the time comes to shift from a fixed carbon tax to a scheme based on emissions permits.

It is, for example, widely rumoured that the carbon tax will be around $20, increasing annually by 4 or 5 per cent more than inflation. Given that starting point, were the government, at the end of the three year period, to set the number of permits so as to cut emissions in 2020 to 15 per cent below 2000 levels, the implied carbon price would treble, causing enormous dislocations.

The government knows that; little wonder it is determined to postpone those decisions to a later date. But far from providing certainty, thus multiplying decision points, with fuzzy decision criteria at each juncture, compounds uncertainties and invites rent-seeking. Finally, would these problems be ameliorated were the tax only on domestic consumption, exempting exports but taxing imports, as Geoff Carmody has proposed?

Of course they would. But that is only because we are acting unilaterally, damaging our exports. Shifting the burden on to domestic consumption reduces the harm. But the harm does not go away: it is just diminished. The question remains, therefore, why we would act unilaterally, creating costs for so few environmental benefits. To that question, the community still awaits a sensible answer.


The Flip Side of Extreme Event Attribution

Any mitigation achieved by carbon reduction would be both minute and detectable only in the distant future

I first noticed an interesting argument related to climate change in President Bill Clinton's 2000 State of the Union Address: "If we fail to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, deadly heat waves and droughts will become more frequent, coastal areas will flood, and economies will be disrupted. That is going to happen, unless we act.

Taken literally, the sentences are not wrong. But they are misleading. Consider that the exact opposite of the sentences is also not wrong: "If we reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, deadly heat waves and droughts will become more frequent, coastal areas will flood, and economies will be disrupted. That is going to happen, if we act".

The reason why both the sentence and its opposite are not wrong is that deadly and economically disruptive disasters will occur and be more frequent independent of action on greenhouse gas emissions. If the sentences are read to imply a causal relationship between action on greenhouse gases and the effects on the impacts of extreme events -- and you believe that such a direct causal relationship exists -- the sentences are still misleading, because they include no sense of time perspective.

Even if you believe in such a tight coupling between emissions and extremes, the effect of emissions reductions on extreme events won't be detectable in your lifetime, and probably for much longer than that.

Why do I bring up President Clinton's 2000 State of the Union in 2011? Because I have seen this slippery and misleading formulation occur repeatedly in recent weeks as the issue of carbon dioxide and extreme events has hotted up. Consider the following examples.

First John Holdren, science advisor to President Obama: "People are seeing the impact of climate change around them in extraordinary patterns of floods and droughts, wildfires, heatwaves and powerful storms."

He also says: "[T]he climate is changing and that humans are responsible for a substantial part of that - and that these changes are doing harm and will continue to do more harm unless we start to reduce our emissions"

It would easy to get the impression from such a sentence that if we "start to reduce our emissions" then climate changes will no longer be "doing harm and continue to do more harm" (or more generously, will be "doing less harm"). Such an argument is at best sloppy -- particularly for a science advisor -- but also pretty misleading

Second, Ross Garnaut, a climate change advisor to the Australian government: "[T]he systematic, intellectual work of people who've spent their lifetimes studying these things shows that a warmer climate does lead to intensification of these sorts of extreme climatic events that we've seen in Queensland, and I think that people are wishing to avoid those awful challenge in Queensland will be amongst the people supporting effective action on climate change."

It would be easy to get the impression that Garnaut is suggesting to current Queensland residents that future Queensland floods and/or tropical cyclones might be avoided by supporting "effective action on climate change." If so, then the argument is highly misleading.

It is just logical that one cannot make the claim that action on climate change will influence future extreme events without first being able to claim that greenhouse gas emissions have a discernible influence on those extremes. This probably helps to explain why there is such a push to classify the attribution issue as settled. But this is just piling on one bad argument on top of another.

Even if you believe that attribution has been achieved, these are bad arguments for the simple fact that detecting the effects on the global climate system of emissions reductions would take many, many (many!) decades.

For instance, for an aggressive climate policy that would stabilize carbon dioxide at 450 ppm, detecting a change in average global temperatures would necessarily occur in the second half of this century. Detection of changes in extreme events would take even longer.

To suggest that action on greenhouse gas emissions is a mechanism for modulating the impacts of extreme events remains a highly misleading argument. There are better justifications for action on carbon dioxide that do not depend on contorting the state of the science.


The missing link in the global warming theory

Announcing a new book, John Quinn [] writes:

I have examined numerous scientific papers in a wide range of scientific journals concerning Global Warming. In fact, I was examining these articles with one question in mind: What are the fundamental links between greenhouse gas increases, particularly CO2, and Global Warming? This is the basic question. If such a connection can be shown to exist, then environmentalists and climatologists would then be well on their way to making the case that human activity is indeed responsible for Global Warming, since there is already ample evidence that human beings have in recent years increased their output of greenhouse gases.

So, the immediate question to be answered is: What evidence has been presented that increases in CO2 levels of either natural or anthropogenic origin have any connection with Global Warming. I found no substantive answer to my question in the literature. What I found in article after article were research providing evidence that the sea levels are rising, that glaciers are melting, that the polar ice caps are melting, and that global temperatures are steadily increasing, among other related facts. All of these articles then ended with the implicit assumption, base only on the Enhanced Greenhouse Theory itself and computer modeling based solely on that theory, that these climate-related effects were all human induced and concluded in many cases by saying just that.

This of course is nonsense, since such evidence only indicates that there is in fact Global Warming, nothing else. This sort of evidence does not point to the underlying cause and the conclusions based on such reasoning are incestuous.

My examination resulted in the recent publication of a book, titled: GLOBAL WARMING: Geophysical Counterpoints to the Enhanced Greenhouse Theory, published by Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc., Pittsburgh, PA. It is available from and from the Dorrance bookstore Web site:

I refer to my view as the Solar-Terrestrial Theory of Global Warming. My book clearly shows, using data rather than hand-waving, heuristic arguments, and unsupported opinion, that CO2 and other greenhouse gases have a negligible effect on Global Warming. Instead, Global Warming is the result of very complex set of actions, reactions, and interactions derived from an assortment of phenomenon stemming from the Sun all the way to Earth's core.

I believe that my book is just the first step in truly understanding Global Warming. It is by no means the last word. The book opens many new questions and points in many new research directions that hitherto should have by now have been thoroughly explored, but, due to scientific bias and functional fixedness (a psychology term), have largely been ignored.

A small EPA backdown

EPA eases pollution rules for industrial boilers

The Obama administration, responding to a changed political climate and a court-ordered deadline, issued significantly revised new air pollution rules yesterday that will make it easier for operators of thousands of industrial boilers and incinerators to meet federal air quality standards.

The new regulations represent a major step back from more demanding and costly rules proposed last spring that provoked an outcry from members of Congress from both parties and from thousands of affected businesses. One industry-financed study said the proposed standard would cost businesses $20 billion to comply and cause the loss of more than 300,000 jobs.

Environmental Protection Agency officials said the new rule was consistent with an executive order issued by President Obama in January calling for a broad review of environmental, health, safety, and financial regulations to ensure that they were not imposing too heavy a cost on the economy.

The softening of the boiler rule could foreshadow a less aggressive approach to air pollution rules due for power plants next month and a series of regulations of greenhouse gases to be rolled out over the next several years.

The rule issued yesterday affects roughly 200,000 boilers, small power plants, and incinerators operated by factories, chemical plants, municipalities, universities, churches, and commercial buildings.

About 187,000 of these are relatively small sources of the target pollutants — lead, mercury, soot, and toxic gases — and their operators will have to do little more than perform routine “tuneups’’ every year or two to meet the new standard.

They will be allowed to achieve the cuts using readily available control technology at what the EPA said was a reasonable cost. The agency said the earlier version, which would have required boiler operators to apply “maximum achievable control technology,’’ set too high a bar.

“The original standards for these have been dramatically refined and updated to ensure maximum flexibility for these sources,’’ the agency said in a press release.

The 13,800 larger facilities, including refineries, chemical plants, and large factories, will have to meet numerical targets for pollution reduction, although the agency said it had narrowed the standards to lower compliance costs.

The government will provide technical assistance in meeting the new standards and grant incentives for switching to cleaner-burning fuels such as natural gas.

The power plant rules are being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

EPA officials said the altered rule would cost half as much as the previous proposal while achieving virtually the same health benefits. The agency pegged compliance costs for the new version of the rule at $2.1 billion a year and said it would generate more than 2,000 new jobs.

Gina McCarthy, director of the agency’s air and radiation office, said the pollution reductions would save 2,600 to 6,600 lives a year by 2014 and avert 4,100 heart attacks and 42,000 asthma attacks annually.

“These health protections will save between $23 billion and $56 billion in health-related costs,’’ McCarthy said in a conference call for reporters. “They are realistic, they are achievable and they are reasonable, and they come at roughly half the cost to comply compared to that in the proposed rule in May 2010.’’

The EPA withdrew the earlier rule in December, saying it needed an additional 15 months to rewrite it to respond to complaints and new data. A federal judge rejected the extension, saying the agency had already spent three years developing the regulation, and ordered it to produce a new rule by this week.

The agency grudgingly met the deadline but said it would remain open to comments and proposals for changes from lawmakers, businesses, and citizens.


Britain's £25,000 eco-classroom that can't be used because solar panels don't provide enough heat

Eco-campaigners who built a classroom powered by the sun believed they were paving the way for the future. Instead they have been taught a valuable lesson - there is not enough sun in North London to sufficiently heat their building.

The much feted zero-carbon Living Ark classroom was opened three months ago to great fanfare. It boasts laudable green credentials and is made from sustainable wood, sheep’s wool and soil. The roof is made of mud and grass and it has its own ‘rain pod’ and solar panels.

But there is snag - its solar panels only provide enough energy to power a few lightbulbs. As a result the classroom is bitterly cold and uninhabitable for lessons. Parents have branded it ‘useless’, an ‘expensive piece of wood’ and a ‘great idea for the Caribbean’.

The Living Ark was built at Muswell Hill Primary School, North London, at the cost of £25,000. Local councillors, at Labour run Haringey council, who were behind the initiative, opened it with great fanfare in December as a beacon of their climate change policy.

But today a local parent at the 419-pupil school said teachers weren't allowing pupils into the classroom because it was too cold. ‘What is the point of a classroom that can’t be used when it’s a bit cold outside? My kids have been told it’s too cold for them to use as nobody can figure out how to heat it,’ said the parent, who did not want to be named. ‘This is just an expensive piece of hollowed out wood and no use to anyone. We are living in Britain, not the Caribbean.’

The ‘waste’ of money comes as councils across the country are facing a severe shortage of school places. By 2018 they will need to find an additional 500,000 primary places due to a population surge.

Charlotte Linacre, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, accused the council of wasting money on pet projects which do not benefit pupils. She said: ‘It’s an awful waste that so much money has been ploughed into this eco-mistake. ‘This project fails to meet the needs of staff and pupils by giving them a classroom that is most useful when the kids are on their summer holidays.

‘Lessons have to be learned at the local authority. They must stop spending taxpayers’ hard earned cash on expensive pet projects that do nothing to improve pupils’ education. ‘All this will teach kids is how poorly planned and costly local authorities projects can be.’

Lib Dem Councillor Gail Engerts said: ‘It is such a shame that, considering the fanfare, it emerges that this facility cannot be used by the children all year round.’

Headteacher Jill Hughes defended the project and said she hoped classes would be held in the classroom when the weather gets warmer. She said: ‘We’re delighted to have the Living Ark - its a tremendous resource both for the school and the local community and is an important part of the Muswell Hill low carbon zone initiative.’



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 are mirrors of this site here and here


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Warmists round on the media

Having a friendly media is not enough for them. They want a Soviet-style media that allows no dissent from the official line. Know the Warmists by the company they keep

As glaciers melt [Some are; some aren't] and island populations retreat from their coastlines to escape rising seas [which aren't rising], many scientists remain baffled as to why the global research consensus on human-induced climate change remains contentious in the U.S.

The frustration revealed itself during a handful of sessions at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., this past weekend, coming to a peak during a Friday session, "Science without Borders and Media Unbounded".

Near the forum’s conclusion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientist Kerry Emanuel asked a panel of journalists why the media continues to cover anthropogenic climate change as a controversy or debate, when in fact it is a consensus among such organizations as the American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Physics, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Association and the National Research Council, along with the national academies of more than two dozen countries.

"You haven't persuaded the public," replied Elizabeth Shogren of National Public Radio. Emanuel immediately countered, smiling and pointing at Shogren, "No, you haven't." Scattered applause followed in the audience of mostly scientists, with one heckler saying, "That's right. Kerry said it."

Such a tone of searching bewilderment typified a handful of sessions that dealt with the struggle to motivate Americans on the topic of climate change. Only 35 percent of Americans see climate change as a serious problem, according to a 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

It's a given that an organized and well-funded campaign has led efforts to confuse the public regarding the consensus around anthropogenic climate change.

And in the absence of such a campaign, as in South Korea, there is no doubt about the findings of climate science, said Sun-Jin Yun of Seoul National University. All three of the nation's major newspapers—representing conservative, progressive and business perspectives—accept climate change with little unjustified skepticism.

Still, it is hard to explain the intransigence of the U.S. public and policy-makers on the issue.

Explanations abound: Is it the media? Under-education? Denialism?
Tom Rosenstiel of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism pointed at the media, focusing on its overall contraction in the past two decades. Shrinking budgets have led to a proliferation of quick, cheap reporting, as well as discussion and commentary formats that rarely provide informative discussions of actual science results.

"What is shrinking is the reportorial component of our culture in which people go out and find things and verify things," he said. Truth has little chance to make itself known in the new narrow and shallow public square.....

Scientists must engage with the public and be vigilant against projecting stereotypes of their profession—such as the elitist, arrogant scientist, Schmidt said.

Rosenstiel echoed this advice and further urged scientists to bypass the media, who are no longer critical intermediaries for reaching the public given the growth of the blogosphere and the general fragmentation of the industry.


The latest Greenie propaganda from Hollywood

What Hollywood won't tell you follows the excerpt below

Carteret Islanders have been called the world's first climate refugees. Their homeland, a remote chain of six small islands in the South Pacific, is fast losing ground to rising sea levels. The 1,000 or so people whose families have lived there for dozens of generations have made an agonizing decision to relocate their entire community before it disappears beneath the rising waves.

In June of 2008, filmmakers Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger learned of the refugees' plight and headed to the Carteret Islands, video equipment in tow, hoping to share their story with the world. Their documentary, "Sun Come Up," was released last year. Sunday night, it’s up for an Academy Award in the best documentary short category.

Redfearn has a background in environment studies, a journalism degree from Columbia University, and had worked on several television series, but "Sun Come Up" is her debut film. She first heard about the Carteret Islanders from a forwarded humanitarian e-mail alert; after reading about them, she could focus on little else. Three months after receiving the e-mail, Redfearn and filmmaking partner Metzger landed in the South Pacific and started shooting. They weren't sure what to expect, but they had been encouraged to come by Ursula Rakova, the head of the Carteret relocation program.

They were well received, and the islanders were, according to Redfearn, "really generous with their time and sharing their stories." They were well aware of why their islands were shrinking and the global issues behind the local changes. "When they first started to witness changes, they didn't know why," Redfearn explains. "But Ursula was born on the Carteret Islands and has traveled abroad to get her education, so she has become aware of what's happening internationally. She taught the community about the science."

The filmmakers didn't find the islanders to be helpless or angry. "More than anything else," Redfearn says, "there's a great feeling of uncertainty." The island's elders would prefer to stay, despite the risks. They grew up there, spent their whole lives there, and "have no interest in moving and adapting to a new society or culture." But the younger generations are looking at things differently. "They're looking ahead at how to rebuild their community somewhere else."


Now for some facts:

The Carteret Islands are coral atolls that have been damaged by the indigenous fishing industry. Homemade Ammonium Nitrate bomblets, used to stun fish for easy "harvesting" (by lazy fishermen) had the unintended effect of breaking up the surrounding Coral beds, which are the foundation of the "islands."

Once blasted, the Coral is destroyed and can't recover. The underpinning of the remaining land is then impaired and "duh," the islands begin to sink. Some depletion of the fresh water aquifer may also contribute to the sinking. The region is also tectonically active and subsiding land is a real possibility.

Of course, the Sea-Level is being blamed, but a quick look at NASA's Jason satellite data shows that Sea-Level has outright FLATLINED since January 2004 to the present (Flatlined = ZERO rise) within a 20mm ± zone!!!

The whole movie is simply environmental "spin."

Hollywood sign could be covered in snow for first time in over 50 years - just in time for Sunday's Oscars

But will they notice? Given their absorption in fantasy, probably not

The A-list movie stars waltzing up the red carpet at the Oscars this weekend will need to wrap up warm as temperatures plummet in Los Angeles. And there is even a chance the iconic Hollywood sign which towers over Tinseltown could be covered in snow on Sunday.

The last time the southern California metropolis – with average February temperatures of nearly 60F – encountered snow was way back in 1954 when a third of an inch fell. Today temperatures were a mere 44F.

A NOAA weather chart shows snow covering northern Nevada and will push into southern California by Sunday. Midwest and northeast states will be worst hit

But forecasters are predicting up to seven inches could coat the 45-foot tall letters as the blizzard which started in Washington state and Oregon continues its assault on California.

Snow is already predicted for downtown San Francisco – itself a stranger to snow for 25 years – after the surrounding hills received a dusting over the weekend.


OU professor says stormy winter has nothing to do with global warming

Lucky for him, he's a professor of engineering. They might find him hard to replace -- particularly at OU

Nobody can do anything about it, but everybody has an opinion on it — this winter’s weather. Bill Deedler, weather historian at the National Weather Service’s White Lake Township office, said the weather has been impacted by two factors.

One is La Nina, an ocean effect that causes colder than normal temperatures in the Pacific, he said, and it’s acting in conjunction with an Arctic low dropping from Canada’s eastern half. “Between the two, we have a formula for a strong storm track with more snow and ice from the Southwest into the Great Lakes,” said Deedler. “Earlier this winter, it was in the South and up the East Coast. It has nothing to do with global warming.”

Chris Kobus, an Oakland University associate professor of engineering who has made a study of weather, also dismisses the winter as having anything to do with global warming. He noted that we experienced similar severe weather in the late 1970s.

“This is just climate variability,” said Kobus. “We haven’t experienced it in decades.” Kobus recalled how some scientists said warm winters in recent years were caused by global warming. “Now the same people are blaming global warming (for the more severe weather),” he said. “I don’t buy it. (Global warming) is a hoax.” He said studies indicated the planet has only warmed half a degree in centuries.

He recommends people research both sides of the climate question by visiting and for opposing viewpoints. “You have to look at both sides,” Kobus said.

He believes the debate boils down to funding. “(Advocates of global warming) are well-funded and have deep connections with the media,” he said. “So-called skeptics (of global warming) are neither well-funded nor organized via advocacy organizations. It is a one-way debate.”

There are many who disagree, saying the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests has dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise.


Unscientific hype about the flooding risks from climate change will cost us all dear

The warmists have sound financial grounds for hyping the dangers of flooding posed by climate change, writes Christopher Booker

As the great global warming scare continues to crumble, attention focuses on all those groups that have a huge interest in keeping it alive. Governments look on it as an excuse to raise billions of pounds in taxes. Wind farm developers make fortunes from the hidden subsidies we pay through our electricity bills. A vast academic industry receives more billions for concocting the bogus science that underpins the scare. Carbon traders hope to make billions from corrupt schemes based on buying and selling the right to emit CO2. But no financial interest stands to make more from exaggerating the risks of climate change than the re-insurance industry, which charges retail insurers for “catastrophe cover”, paid for by all of us through our premiums.

An insight into this was given by a paper published by Nature on February 17, which claimed to show for the first time how man-made climate change greatly increases the risk of flood damage. Among the eight authors of the paper are two of the most influential scientists at the heart of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Prof Peter Stott of the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre and Dr Myles Allen, head of Oxford’s Climate Dynamics Group. Two of their co-authors are from Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a California-based firm which is the world leader in advising the insurance industry on climate change.

The study, based entirely on computer models, focused on the exceptional flooding that took place in England and Wales in the autumn of 2000. Its conclusion – that climate change could increase the chance of flooding by up to 90 per cent – was widely publicised, without questioning, by all the usual media cheerleaders for global warming, led by the BBC’s Richard Black (“Climate change increases flood risk, researchers say”).

When less partisan observers examined the paper, however, they were astonished. Although Nature has long been a leading propagandist for man-made climate change, this example seemed truly bizarre. Why had this strangely opaque study been based solely on the results of a series of computer models – mainly provided by the Hadley Centre and RMS – and not on any historical data about rainfall and river flows?

The Met Office’s own records show no upward trend in UK rainfall between 1961 and 2004. Certainly autumn 2000 showed an unusual rainfall maximum, but it was exceeded in 1930. The graph between then and 2010 shows no significant upward trend. While 2000 may have seen a lot of rain, 1768 and 1872 were even wetter. In the real world, the data show no evidence of an increase in UK rainfall at all. Any idea that there is one seemed to be entirely an artefact of the computer models.

On Friday came the fullest and most expert dissection of the Nature paper so far, published on the Watts Up With That website by Willis Eschenbach, a very experienced computer modeller. His findings are devastating. After detailed analysis of the study’s multiple flaws, he sums up by accusing Nature of “trying to pass off the end-result of a long daisy-chain of specifically selected, untested, unverified, un-investigated computer models as valid, falsifiable, peer-reviewed science”.

His conclusion is worth quoting at some length: “When your results represent the output of four computer models, fed into a fifth computer model, whose output goes to a sixth computer model, which is calibrated against a seventh computer model, and then your results are compared to a series of different results from the fifth computer model, but run with different parameters, in order to show that flood risks have increased from greenhouse gases…” you cannot pretend that this is “a valid representation of reality”, let alone “a sufficiently accurate representation of reality to guide our future actions”.

This is precisely why the Nature study is of such significance – because it will undoubtedly be used to guide future actions, which will in one way or another impact on all our lives.

For a start, consider the players in this drama. Prof Stott and Dr Allen have long been among the most influential scientists in the world in stoking up climate alarmism. A famous analysis by John McClean showed that they played a key part in compiling the single most important chapter in the IPCC’s last report, in 2007. The chapter, entitled “Understanding and attributing climate change”, cited many more papers by them than anyone else. They have now been appointed as lead authors of the relevant chapter in the next IPCC report, “Detection and attribution of climate change”, which will guide the actions of governments all over the world.

As for their two colleagues from Risk Management Solutions, this is not the first time that this leading adviser to the world’s re-insurance industry has been involved in a controversial bid to heighten alarm over the consequences of climate change.

In October 2005, in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, RMS held a meeting in Bermuda with four hurricane specialists, all of the alarmist persuasion, to quiz them as to how they thought hurricane activity was likely to be affected between 2006 and 2010, thanks to climate change, and how this would impact on the southern United States, notably Florida. On the basis of this meeting, RMS advised the re-insurers that the risk of hurricane damage over the next four years was hugely increased. The companies found that their reserves were $82 billion short of what they might be expected to pay. Premiums, particularly in Florida, accordingly rocketed upwards.

Under the heading “The $82 billion prediction”, the details of this episode are chronicled on his blog by Dr Roger Pielke Jr, who in 2008 advised RMS that the methodology on which it relied was so biased that “a group of monkeys would have arrived at the exact same results”. Dr Pielke, an expert in environmental impacts, recently published a chart showing how, although the RMS prediction for hurricane damage between 2006 and 2010 was a third higher than the historical average, the actual cost proved to be well under half the average figure. But, thanks to RMS, the insurance industry had made billions from higher premiums.

In 2008, following the disastrous floods of summer 2007, that vociferous climate alarmist Bob Ward, now at the Grantham Institute but then a director of RMS, called for the British government to work more closely with the insurance industry “to devise mutually beneficial strategies for dealing with flood risks”. We understand how working with RMS might be beneficial to the insurance industry. But whether, in light of the Nature study, the Government would find it beneficial is another matter – never mind the rest of us, as we are asked to pay ever higher insurance premiums, based not least on the findings of those RMS computer models.


Britain's eco-towns: A parable of a wet and wimpy state

Eco-towns, we were told, would help to 'save the planet' and provide thousands of new homes. Tim Black investigates why they were never built

Eco-towns – remember them? For a while they was a flagship New Labour project. Then they became a flagging New Labour project. And now? ‘As it stands, it’s up to the local authorities whether they get built’, came the rather non-committal response (1) from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Not that this should have been a surprise. The Lib-Con government, Localism Bill or not, seems very keen to wash its hands of this particular New Labour initiative, as indicated by its July announcement that the £60million funding for the shortlisted sites was to be cut in half. So while it is still possible that three new towns-cum-villages will be built – at Bicester in Oxfordshire, St Austell in Cornwall and Elsenham in Essex – it is fair to say the project that was once to provide around 200,000 new homes, not to mention several new towns, is, to all intents and purposes, defunct.

How things have changed. The willingness with which the eco-towns scheme is being quietly abandoned is in marked contrast to the fanfare with which it was announced in the summer of 2007. Back then, Gordon Brown, all affected smiles in his new position as prime minister, saw fit to make eco-towns his first major policy announcement. It was meant to be big. It had to be green. And it was going to define Brown’s prime-ministerial vision. Speaking to the Labour Party conference that September, Brown declaimed: ‘For the first time in nearly half a century we will show the imagination to build new towns – eco-towns with low and zero carbon homes.’ So it was that in the summer of 2007 a mixture of local authorities, construction firms and developers were invited to come forward with their plans for these new, ecologically sound towns.

And come forward they did. By April 2008, a shortlist of 15 prospective eco-towns had been unveiled. Then housing minister Caroline Flint continued to hype up the importance of the scheme: ‘We have a housing shortage in this country, and that’s why we need to build more homes. But we also need to think about sustainable homes in sustainable communities.’ The following January, the shortlist had been whittled down to 12. Then, in July 2009, four eco-towns were given the go-ahead (Rackheath in Norfolk, Whitehill Bordon in East Hampshire, Bicester in Oxfordshire and the China Clay community scheme in St Austell), with the promise of more to come.

So what happened to the eco-towns project? After all, this was meant to be a massively important scheme. Not only was it to show off the government’s commitment to a low-carbon future, it was to demonstrate how best to address the UK’s chronic housing shortage, something Brown had acknowledged in 2007 with his pledge to build three million homes by 2020. As he stated in July 2009, ‘eco-towns will help to relieve the shortage of affordable homes to rent and buy and to minimise the effects of climate change on a major scale’. The original 2007 eco-towns prospectus even went so far as to draw parallels between the situation today and that faced by the ‘postwar generation 60 years ago’ - that is, when the original 11 ‘new towns’ were built. So why, given the much-trumpeted historic urgency of the task, has so little come to pass?

As James Stevens from the Home Builders Federation told spiked, ‘eco-towns were failing before the financial crisis’. The ostensible problem was that the private sector developers had little to gain from building eco-towns. Given that most of the funding for the eco-towns was meant to come from the private, not the public sector, this was a significant problem. What is more, it was a problem largely of the state’s own making.

When the scheme was first launched, the criteria for its ecological correctness were already quite strict. According to the initial 2007 prospectus, eco-towns were to be zero-carbon communities demonstrating excellence in one ‘particular aspect of environmental sustainability’, from drainage to technology. As for the actual houses, they were to be built to ‘at least’ code level 3 (out of 6) as laid out in the 2006 housing regulations. This meant that their carbon emissions would be 25 per cent lower than what was then the current standard.

All this was restrictive enough for prospective developers – not to mention for those, cycle in hands, who would have to live in these ‘exemplars of sustainability’. But the problem was that having made these new towns ‘eco’, it meant that critics quickly held the plans to account on the basis that they weren’t ‘eco’ enough. In February 2008, for instance, historian and commentator Tristram Hunt (now a Labour MP) called the eco-towns project a ‘smokescreeen’ for unscrupulous developers. ‘All too predictably’, he wrote, ‘Britain’s leading developers are using the eco-towns template to dust off long-rejected proposals and re-submit shoddy housing schemes’. In other words, if a project was being put forward by the private sector, it was automatically suspect on environmental grounds. Hunt’s was not a lone criticism; it was part of a ‘green-washing’ chorus. Eco-towns were not doing what they said on the tin, claimed an unholy trinity of planning experts, disgruntled locals and reluctant local authorities.

The government’s response was to play to the eco-elite gallery and make the eco-town requirements ever stricter. Developers now had to build the houses to code level 4 and, from 2016, to code level 6. As then housing minister Caroline Flint said in July 2008: ‘These would be the toughest standards ever set out for new development, and would demonstrate that there will be no compromise on quality when it comes to eco-towns.’ This may have been music to the ears of green-horned critics of the scheme, but as Stevens explained to me, it is ‘extremely difficult to build to a high code level, especially as regards energy efficiency and water, and still make a sufficiently attractive return on investment – something that is necessary to allow the development to go ahead.’ He added: ‘This is one of the reasons why the three survivors of the eco-towns programme are progressing so slowly.’

More off-putting still was the one thing that initially made eco-towns potentially attractive to the private sector – that is, the extent to which the existing, notoriously bureaucratic planning regulations would be relaxed. And in the 2007 prospectus, there is more than a hint that the government was prepared to circumvent the planning process. Given that even if you own the land you want to build on, planning permission can usually only be obtained after endless, not to mention costly, private and public consultations with local planning authorities, the chance to skip over this would certainly have been appealing to developers. So to hear the DCLG actually talk of ‘minimising delay’, of dealing with the proposals quickly and, more explicitly, of using ‘the powers in the New Towns Act 1981 [where] appropriate’, actually made it sound as if the government was serious about a large-scale development project.

This is certainly what planning consultant David Lock believed. And considering that Lock was not only the former head of the Town and Country Planning Association, but, in its early stages, an official adviser on the eco-towns project, he should know. ‘When the government first launched the scheme’, Lock tells me, ‘their initial documents implied that they were in a hurry and were willing to alter the planning procedures to let people get ahead’.

But once again, just as with the eco-town building regulations, the government caved in, this time under pressure from lobby groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England and a few ‘sad middle-aged people holding up a “eco-towns will destroy my life” poster on a village green somewhere in the Midlands’. Very quickly, Lock tells me, the government’s ‘proactive, “we’ll bend the system” approach’ to planning permission was abandoned. Lock is in no doubt that this reversal, following ‘a bit of negative publicity’, put off prospective developers. ‘The government was making [eco-towns] an ordinary initiative that would have to go through existing processes, so why would anyone bother? A promoter can spend five years trying to push through other projects instead.’ And at considerably less cost, too.

In the ease with which the government tried to appease environmentalist critics, in the speed with which it went back on its promise to circumvent planning legislation with the New Towns Act, there is a parable of the contemporary state. ‘Wimpy and wet’, as Lock called the government, the state simply seems incapable of getting anything done. Even a scheme in which it invested so much political capital, such as the eco-towns project, quickly lost momentum. Lacking the popular support that comes through winning an argument, the government lacked the political will to realise its objectives. For new housing, read energy. For energy read transport. Before any large-scale infrastructural projects, the state proves cowardly and ultimately impotent.

But the main point still stands. Faced with a chronic housing shortage, the state, regardless of stripe of government, seems incapable of doing anything about it. As it stands, housebuilding rates are set to dip to their lowest level since the 1920s. Yet, too cowed by adverse publicity, too weak to actually justify a major undertaking such as housebuilding or a new generation of nuclear power stations, the government is content to look as if it is doing something while achieving nothing. While the state is happy to preoccupy itself with our behaviour, nannying then, nudging now, it seems unable to provide its citizens with the things we might actually want.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 are mirrors of this site here and here


Saturday, February 26, 2011

An introduction to environmental issues

Gordon J. Fulks, PhD Physics

The story of environmentalism is generally portrayed as one of citizens triumphing over evil corporate polluters, of public awareness, science, and affluence working together to solve pressing problems. There is no problem so huge or so abstract that we cannot solve it if we put our minds to it And solving these problems yields all sorts of positive side-effects and no drawbacks.

While that may be the perception, it is far from the fact. Public awareness is easily swayed by media campaigns that are little more than propaganda and supported by a press that would rather take sides than present balanced reports. Science is largely bought and paid for by politicians who control the agenda and the outcome.

And our affluence, or what is left of it, is viewed as an inexhaustible source of revenue for whatever fantastic ideas the political class can dream up. Negative consequences of such folly are viewed as so impossible as to be unworthy of discussion.

Consider the plight of the Orangutan, a creature in such dire peril that biologists place its chance of survival beyond a few years to be near zero in the wild. Do we hear much about Orangutans? No, we are constantly treated to pictures of a lone polar bear floating away on a shrinking piece of sea ice.

But polar bear populations are rising so much that they are becoming an increasing threat to arctic villages as these huge white grisly bears roam ever further in search of food. When I lived in Fort Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay, we had to be on the lookout for bears that would come into town after raiding the city garbage dump. Their preferred meals in town were sled dogs tied up outside the barracks buildings. We made sure that we did not also become part of their diet.

There was an amusing story a couple of years ago about an Irishman who was determined to be the first to sail across an ice-free arctic ocean. When he got stuck in the supposedly non-existent pack ice, he was last reported pleading with the Russians to come to his rescue with one of their icebreakers. Part of his pleading involved a description of polar bears closing in on him! I do not know how the story turned out, but the Russians were themselves preoccupied ferrying tourists across the Arctic Ocean and having to deal with one of their icebreakers trapped in the pack ice!

Bears as a species are very adaptable, just as we are. That is why they have survived for manythousands of years, with many natural changes of climate and of diet. I remember one black bear just ahead of me in the Olympic National Park eating huckleberries. I remember another in Sequoia National Park trying to get into my backpack. And I remember one in my yard in Corbett contemplating a battle with my bees for some honey. Bears of whatever color are a huge success story.

Orangutans, in contrast, are more like many other animals and plants, heavily dependent on a tropical rainforest habitat. They have not needed to be greatly adaptable to a changing climate because tropical regions change much less dramatically over time than polar regions. That is until man appeared on the scene.

Initially, man lived in the forest as just another creature making a home there. But now he seeks to heavily exploit the forest for valuable hardwoods like teak. Then he goes a step further by completely leveling what remains of the forest and burning the residue. That allows him to plant cash crops like palm trees for palm oil.

Why the interest in palm oil? Although it is considered an inferior cooking oil, it is the #1 choice in the manufacture of bio-diesel because it is relatively cheap compared with other vegetable oils. The former colonial rulers of Indonesia, the Dutch, got the bright idea that they could produce electricity back home from bio-diesel and found it easy to entice poor people to produce more palm oil.

The only way to do that was to clear the last remaining tropical rainforest. Orangutans, “people of the forest” in Malay, are large powerful apes, very closely related to man. Because they are gentle creatures, humans once considered them to be people hiding in the forest to avoid work. But with the destruction of their forest homes, Orangutans will resist. The net result is horrible: the natives shoot the adults and take their children as pets. Since they have no way of caring for the cute baby Orangutans, the babies quickly perish like their parents.

It is an enormously sad story that few hear, because it is politically incorrect to think ill of bio-diesel. We are assured that the large bio-diesel refinery built recently on Puget Sound will not use tropical oils. But then why was it built where it will have easy access to cheap tropical oils delivered by tanker from Indonesia?

Now let's step back for a moment to consider the concept of risk. We are perpetually told that we are poisoning the planet with everything from pesticides to carbon dioxide such that our world is rapidly becoming unlivable. This feeds our enormous egos that tell us we are far more important to this planet than we really are. This is not to say that we have done no damage to our host, mother earth, but that we are more of an irritant than a serious threat. Perhaps we are to the earth what fleas are to a dog, irritating for sure, but not threatening the planet as a whole.

And if anything the overall trend in the affluent developed world is toward greatly reduced environmental risks. Take for instance, the beautiful country between Hood River and Mt. Hood. If you buy a piece of property there, your real estate agent will quietly inform you that the soils are “leaded.” That is a euphemism for the prevalent insecticide used on apples in the early 20th century; acutely toxic lead arsenate.

If you had a liking for strawberries in that same time frame, it was a good idea to wash them thoroughly because they were treated with Paris Green, a popular name for the extremely poisonous copper acetoarsenite. It gained its name from its use in the sewers of Paris to kill rats. For killing pests on cotton, workers used to fill burlap bags with a mixture of arsenic compounds and shake them over their crops. During 1944 and 1945, vast amounts of Paris Green were sprayed by airplane in Italy and Sicily to control malaria.

But then a scientific miracle came along in the form of synthetic pesticides that were far less toxic topeople but highly effective against insects. Among the best were malathion and DDT. Malathion was developed in Nazi Germany as a part of their research into organophosphate nerve gasses that inhibit a particular neurotransmitter. It is probably the most common insecticide used in the United States today.

DDT was developed much earlier, but its value as an insecticide was not discovered until 1939. It proved vastly beneficial against the mosquito that carries malaria.

With the end of World War Two another environmental scare became a topic of endless concern: nuclear radiation. Prior to the dropping of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, few people were aware of the dangers of such radiation. Madame Currie had been badly burned by the glowing bottle of radium that she kept on her laboratory table and eventually died of cancer likely the result of radiation poisoning.

After the atomic bombs were dropped, people who were nearby started dying of mysterious causes clearly attributable to the radiation. But as time went along, the predicted excess of deaths from leukemia did not materialize. In other words, nuclear radiation in small doses is not to be feared. Because of cosmic radiation and naturally occurring radio-isotopes, we get a certain background dose of radiation anyway, whether we like it or not. As long as the excess dose we receive from man-made sources does not add appreciably to the background dose, it cannot have a significant impact on us.

This is the fundamental logic underlying the concept of acceptable risk for virtually all hazards. We never argue that risks can be reduced to zero, only that they can be greatly minimized to naturally occurring levels.

When I lived in Chicago during the 1950's, 60's and 70's, environmental problems abounded. Cars belched large amounts of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and lead. Steel mills in Gary, Indiana spewed vast clouds of smoke over South Chicago that left metal flecks on everyone's cars overnight. Oil refineries were big polluters Coal-fired power plants spread fly-ash and sulfur dioxide across the city. The city's trash incinerator on the South Side was a large polluter situated next to the SherwinWilliams paint factory that exuded such a foul odor that it was difficult to drive by without gagging. Radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear testing was easy to detect on your car in the morning. And cancer rates were clearly a function of where you got your drinking water. The more sewage systems and factories upstream from you, the worse off you were.

Today those problems have largely been addressed in a triumph of sensible environmentalism that utilized best available mitigation technologies.

But as these triumphs were occurring, a new and dangerous form of environmentalism began to take hold, involving theoretical problems, far less rigorous science, and a political component that suppressed dissenting views. It began with Rachael Carson and her famous book 'Silent Spring' published in 1962 that railed against the evils of DDT and caused it to be banned in the United States and much of the rest of the world. This resulted in the recovery of predatory bird species said to be especially sensitive to DDT but badly damaged vector control programs around the world for malaria. Malaria subsequently surged back to epidemic proportions. The number of excess death attributed to this fiasco total today about forty million people. That is comparable to the number of deaths in Russia or in Germany during the Second World War. With malaria substantially confined to Black Africa, the devastating impact is largely ignored in the developed world.

The success of Rachel Carson's brand of environmentalism was not lost on the political class, who saw great possibilities for the techniques she pioneered for stampeding public policy changes past skeptical citizens. Ironically, Carson is said to have never advocated the complete banning of DDT, perhaps realizing that such a ban could cause great harm.

Scaring people into irrational action had dangerous consequences, not only for the resurgence of malaria but for the environmental issues that were to arise later.

Little noticed in the 1960's was the commencement of measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide on a volcano in Hawaii. Twenty years later the steadily increasing levels were to spark concern, not only amongst scientists, but amongst politicians who saw great possibilities for advancing their own agendas.

The first politician to raise the alarm was not Al Gore but someone at the opposite end of the political spectrum: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She was in a desperate battle with British coal unions and wanted an excuse to move Great Britain toward nuclear power. Unfortunately, her advisers suggested the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

A short while later with the fall of the Soviet Union, the far left was cast adrift and began searching for a new cause. Then Vice-President Gore suggested that they join his environmental crusade to save the world from Global Warming, and they accepted.

In the 1970's, another theoretical environmental scare was attracting attention: ozone depletion. It was to become a dry run for action on Global Warming. Based on the calculations of three chemists who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their efforts, it appeared that we were headed for catastrophic consequences from our use of the chlorofluorocarbons commonly known by their DuPont trade name, Freon.

Following a now familiar pattern, the National Academy of Sciences supported the credibility of the ozone theory, leading to a ban on CFC's in aerosol cans, a “Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer,” and in 1987 the Montreal Protocol phasing out Freon.

But what was the bottom line that is never discussed in official circles? Other researchers later discovered that those who had done the original work had made a big mistake with one chemical reaction rate such that the problem that had been touted as “critical” was really minor. The ozone hole was likely a natural phenomenon, devoid of human contributions.

What about “Acid Rain” that was allegedly turning lakes in the NE United States to a dangerously acidic state? Power plants burning high sulfur coal were said to be responsible. Indeed some lakes were becoming more acidic, but only those close to and downwind from power plants could be gaining acidity from the power plants. Lakes in other areas far removed from power plants were also substantially acidic. The obvious conclusion: natural causes.

What about “Ocean Acidification,” the latest scare intended to succeed Global Warming hysteria when it becomes less of a research funding vehicle. The 2005 report from the British Royal Society paints a scary scenario and argues that massive new research funding is necessary to head off yet another disaster.

But at the very end of that report, far beyond the Executive Summary intended for politicians, they point out the essential truth. Our oceans are so heavily buffered with calcium carbonate that they can NEVER become acidic. The slight variations in pH about the nominal alkaline value of 8.0 are caused by natural variations such as temperature. Colder water more readily dissolves atmospheric carbon dioxide and is therefore a little less alkaline. Corals said to at imminent risk if we do not take action have survived on earth for hundreds of millions of years, through many natural climate and carbon dioxide variations

Much more HERE

Teleconference will attempt to explain huge snowstorms are due to global warming

The fact that there has in fact been no global warming is a mere bagatelle!

In an apparent bid to counter skepticism of the specious claim that global warming caused the string of heavy snowfalls in the US and Europe this winter, a media teleconference with "two leading climate and weather experts" has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, 2011. Mark "death spiral" Serreze and Jeff Masters will "discuss how a rise in the number of snowfalls of 6 inches or more may be related to an increase in moisture in the atmosphere," allegedly due to global warming.

Major problems with this argument include weather balloon and satellite data showing that 1) tropospheric relative and specific humidity has significantly declined since the 'safe CO2 levels' of 1948, 2) atmospheric water vapor has declined since satellite measurements began in 1983, 3) there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995, and 4) the IPCC predicted milder winters and that the "milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms."

Most climate models assume that as an increasing amount of atmospheric CO2 induces slightly increasing atmospheric temperatures, the overall evaporation will increase from the planet surface, and thereby the specific humidity of the lower part of the atmosphere (the Troposphere) will increase as well. As water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, additional warming will come about, resulting in a much larger temperature increase than that induced from CO2 alone. Climate models therefore, in general, assume the relative Tropospheric humidity to remain more or less stable, as increasing air temperatures are compensated by increasing specific humidity.

The above diagrams indicate that none of this has been the case since 1948. Only near the planet surface, the relative humidity has remained roughly constant (although with variations), but in the remaining part of the Troposphere below the Tropopause the relative humidity has been decreasing. Even for the specific humidity, this appears to be the case.

SOURCE (See the original for graphics)

Grist: You Don't Care About Globull Warming Because Your Brain Is Wired Wrong

William Teach mocks some evidence-free speculation below

The headline at Grist is an attention grabber: Maybe no one cares about climate change because we’re wired for extinction. Yet, the article doesn't really support that, as George Black goes on a tear that our brains are wired wrong
In my unending (and thus far, I have to confess, largely fruitless) attempts to figure out why Americans aren't more alarmed about climate change, one of the more intriguing ideas I've heard recently was put to me by a psychologist named Andrew Shatté.

Well, it's easy to understand: you're hypothesis is a bunch of mule fritters, ripe with lies, distortions, hysterical crystal ball pronouncements, idiotic talking points, little actual scientific method, scare tactics, and you say everything is called by Mankind's release of greenhouse gases, from drought to flood to hot to cold to snow to no snow name it. Most people aren't that stupid. They catch on to reality. At one point Pet Rocks were the hot thing, then people realized they were paying $3.95 for a ...... rock, which they could find outside for free.

Anyhow, after a discussion of some extinct Irish Elk, we get
So why are we like the Irish elk? The problem is the human brain, Shatté says. Our evolutionary development has not yet caught up with the change in our circumstances. More specifically, the problem is our brain's fear triggers. Our instincts are still paleolithic; our fear reflexes respond to all the wrong things. They lie dormant in the face of climate change, no matter how ominously scientists predict its probable consequences. But we're programmed to pump adrenalin at the sight of spiders, snakes, and other mortal threats slithering into our caves. We still run a mile from snakes, although they only kill about five or six Americans a year. The most recent annual figure for fatalities from lightning strikes is 58, but would you go anywhere near a golf course in a storm?

See? It's because our brains haven't caught up enough to be scared from the climate changing into a warmer one. Or, perhaps, we have a collective remembrance of what it was like during all the cool periods back to the last glaciation period, and the hardships, pestilence, and crop failures that resulted. Nah. Your brain must be stooooopid.

Of course, American brains are even worse, because Americans believe in "climate change" even less than the rest of the world. You should read the whole hilarious thing, way too much to excerpt without creating a massive post, but, hmmmm
I don't really buy that. I spend a fair amount of time in the West, which is experiencing at least three spectacularly visible impacts of global warming: prolonged drought, raging forest fires, and the destruction of forests by the mountain pine beetle. Sit on your front porch in Wyoming or Idaho and you can almost see the trees dying in front of your eyes -- and then hold your breath to see if they will burst into flames come summer. The conundrum, though, is that these states are among the reddest in the country, the most likely to distrust the science on climate change and the most hostile to any government effort to reduce carbon emissions.

The rest is funny, especially the part about trees spontaneously combusting, but, focus on the bold part, and let's see who George is
OnEarth's executive editor has reported from five continents, chronicling civil war in Central America, the democracy movement in China, and climate change in countries from Bangladesh to Peru. His next book, Empire of Shadows, to be published by St. Martin's Press in Fall 2011, on the 19th century exploration of Yellowstone.

So, apparently, George's brain is wired wrong, because he is certainly killing Gaia by using trees to publish his next book, and taking unnecessary fossil fueled flights around the world, which apparently doesn't scare the daylights out of him.


NH: House votes to end participation in cap-and-trade

The New Hampshire House voted yesterday to end the state’s participation in a cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing carbon emissions at the end of the year. The House voted 246-104 for a bill that would repeal the law under which the state joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

New Hampshire is one of 10 Northeastern states participating in a cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide. Under the program, generators must reduce pollution or bid at auction for allowances giving them the right to produce certain amounts of carbon dioxide.

Proceeds from the auction are used for energy-efficiency programs. Critics complain electric users are funding efficiency programs that don’t directly benefit them. But Governor John Lynch, who supports the initiative, says repealing the law would cost ratepayers up to $6 million a year while the state forfeits $12 million a year in funding.

New Hampshire belongs to a regional power pool and that affects the electric rates paid by pool members. If New Hampshire withdraws from RGGI, New Hampshire’s rates would still reflect cap-and-trade costs included in rates by RGGI members that belong to the pool.

Under the bill, Public Service of New Hampshire, which owns three of the five power plants covered by the law, could not recoup from ratepayers costs for buying allowances to cover future emissions.

House Science, Technology and Energy chairman James Garrity said the utility could sell the allowances on the carbon market.

Garrity, Republican of Atkinson, argued lawmakers adopted RGGI based on unproven science about greenhouse gases. “Three years ago when RGGI was approved, the rallying cry was that we must join RGGI or the planet will dry up. Here we are three years later . . . and the rallying cry is we can’t lose RGGI or the money will dry up,’’ he said. Garrity said the current law is a stealth tax on electric users.

Last year, New Hampshire raided its fund to help pay for other state spending — a move Lynch supported and defended by saying the overall goal of reducing energy demand was being met through a mix of state and federally funded programs.

State Representative Beatriz Pastor, Democrat of Lyme, rejected Garrity’s position as unwise. If one accepts the science is uncertain, the risks of doing nothing are too great, she said. By the time the question asis answered, the damage to the environment will be irreversible, she said.

“Noah got intelligence a natural disaster was about to occur. He could have looked out the window and said, ‘It doesn’t look like it is going to rain,’ ’’ she said.

The House Finance Committee next reviews the bill, but the 2-to-1 vote margin reflects November’s Republican takeover of the House since Democrats were in charge and adopted New Hampshire’s RGGI law in 2008.

The bill calls for any money left in the fund when New Hampshire withdraws from RGGI to be used for energy efficiency.


The EPA's Latest Unscientific Power Grab

Why would the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overturn its own scientists and decide to regulate trace levels of perchlorate in drinking water after it recently decided it didn't need to be regulated? Earlier this month, the EPA announced it will develop a standard for how much perchlorate would be allowed in tap water.

When the EPA reviewed the chemical's safety profile in 2008, it found that the low level of perchlorate in water supplies did not present a health concern that could be reduced by regulation. And there haven't been groundbreaking studies to change that. Nor does it cite any major change in our exposure to the chemical.

What has changed is an increasing adherence to the unscientific precautionary principle, which requires that unless we can prove something absolutely safe, we should assume it is not.

In this case, because the chemical presents risks to animals at high doses, advocates argue it must be regulated, reduced, or perhaps banned, without consideration of cost or whether the regulatory action shows any health benefit. As EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson awkwardly put it at a recent Senate hearing on water regulation, "I don't know how you price the ability to forestall a child who may not get autism if they are not exposed to contaminated water." In other words, we don't know, but we have to protect children from industrial chemicals regardless of the cost or our lack of knowledge. (Her example about autism and water is completely out of left-field.)

Perchlorate, which occurs naturally in the environment and is also man made, has even been used as a medication. At appropriate doses, the chemical blocks iodine uptake in the thyroid, which is useful in an overactive thyroid. So activists have been claiming that it has the same effect at very low level environmental levels. But the environmental exposure is many thousands of times smaller than the pharmaceutical dose of 400 milligrams daily and has not been shown to affect the thyroid.

In fact, human studies of workers exposed to perchlorate showed no increased thyroid function.

But you won't hear that from the advocates seeking to regulate perchlorate. Because one major source of exposure to the chemical is from rocket fuel, activists repeatedly argue that citizens shouldn't be forced to have rocket fuel in their drinking water. This rhetoric disregards the fact that there are traces of almost everything everywhere. When you are arguing against rocket fuel in tap water, you don't need the science. Unfortunately, celebrity medical correspondents such as CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta repeat the scary claims without even questioning their validity.

Journalists ought to investigate these activist-driven scares, educate the public about basic science, and explain how science applies to such controversies. Instead, all too often, reporters drink it up and spout it out, lending credibility to the misinformation but shedding no light on the issue. Once the populace is sufficiently scared, regulators become apparent heroes by promulgating draconian, unscientific and self-justifying regulations.

But regulations have costs. We all want safer air, water, food, and products. But so long as we have finite dollars to spend, we must prioritize our regulatory agenda based on scientific evidence rather than fear, hyperbole, rhetoric, and anti-capitalist elements always out to demonize industry.

Will EPA use actual science to regulate perchlorate? Why should they? They are lauded by self-appointed environmental groups each time they come down on the side of precaution. The more they regulate, the more they are rewarded. Over-regulation may invite litigation from self-interested industry, but this only allows the regulators to further assume a mantle of the champion of the people.

In fact, the agency touts the nearly 33,000 comment letters on their earlier decision not to regulate perchlorate, as a reason for reversing course. This will make great fund-raising fodder for the activists who prompted the letters, but it isn't how we ought to go about regulating chemicals.

It is impossible to accurately calculate the cost of each unnecessary regulation, but the cost to all of us is staggering. Perhaps these costs would be worth it if they saved lives, but because the charges against perchlorate in drinking water are so unfounded it makes this particular regulatory plan particularly hard to swallow.


The Skibbereen Eagle warns the Tsar....

The [Australian] Greens have threatened a trade boycott against the world's second-largest economy in an attack on China by one of its high-profile NSW candidates. Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne, who is running for the state seat, has revealed her council would consider boycotting China out of sympathy for Tibetans.

Labor labelled the policy as "stupid and dangerous" and warned such a ban could threaten Chinese trade with NSW - worth more than $3.2 billion to the state's economy - and damage cultural and student ties with China. "This is one of the most destructive policies announced by any mayor in Australia's history," Labor's campaign spokesman Luke Foley said. He has called for Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown to step in and rule out suggestions of a boycott of Australia's largest trading partner.

Mr Brown, however, could not be contacted by his office yesterday to seek clarification on whether he would back Ms Byrne's proposal or not.

A spokeswoman for Mr Brown said the Greens did not have a "written" policy on Tibet. But Greens Senator Christine Milne, who this week shocked Labor MPs with her claim that the Greens' "power sharing" deal with the Federal Government had delivered the carbon tax, has previously questioned Australia's free trade agreement with China based on its human rights record in Tibet.

Ms Byrne's backing for a China ban follows her boycott of Israel last month over its treatment of Palestinians. In retaliation, Labor and Liberal councillors have already joined forces on neighbouring Randwick Council to boycott Marrickville Council.

Her latest threats against China were recorded at a candidate forum on Wednesday night in Sydney. Ms Byrne said her council had expressed solidarity with the local Tibetan community. While the Tibetan community had not asked specifically for a boycott, Ms Byrne said council would adopt one if asked.

"If the local Tibetan community came to us and asked us to look at boycotting China, I'm sure council would do that," Ms Byrne said. "So we actually have done things [for] our local community ... provide action, and support our local community around those issues and I'm quite proud of that, quite proud to do that."

Mr Foley said: "It's hard to believe that anyone could come up with such a stupid and dangerous policy. "If she had her way, it would cost hundreds of thousands of Australian jobs. Bob Brown needs to step in, disown the policy and disown the candidate."

The seat of Marrickville is held by Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt by a 3 per cent margin. The Greens have consistently raised the issue of human rights in Tibet and have called for China to recognise Tibet's autonomy. Almost 35 per cent of people living in Marrickville were born overseas, many of them Chinese.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 are mirrors of this site here and here