Tracking the politics of fear....  

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10 February, 2006


From Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, 7 February 2006. It looks like the two Macs have come in from the cold -- thanks to U.S. government pressure on an otherwise hidebound scientific establishment

The National Research Council of the National Academies has empanelled a blue-chip committee to study "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 1,000-2,000 Years". The chairman will be Gerald North. The request came from the House Science Committee - I presume that they are trying to assert possession over this piece of turf. 8-10 speakers are being requested to address the panel on March 2-3 with a reception on Thursday night. Mc-Mc have accepted an invitation to appear.

The reception should be interesting. I've played interclub squash leagues in Toronto for nearly 40 years and one of the things that I like about them is that you have drinks and dinner with your opponents. I've always thought that English traditions for sports in that respect were very civilized. When I played rugby in England (I played for Corpus Christi College at Oxford), you'd have beer afterwards with your opponents and exchange beers with the guy that tackled you the hardest. I think that I overlapped with Bill Clinton by one year, but don't recall meeting him. I guess Mann and I will have to swig down a few and maybe join in some rugby songs. Anyway here's the invitation:


Dear Dr. McKitrick and Mr. McIntyre,

The National Research Council of The National Academies of the United States is empanelling a committee to study "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 1,000-2,000 Years". The committee will be asked to summarize the current scientific information on the temperature record over the past two millennia, describe the proxy records that have been used to reconstruct pre-instrumental climatic conditions, assess the methods employed to combine multiple proxy data over large spatial scales, evaluate the overall accuracy and precision of such reconstructions, and explain how central the debate over the paleoclimate temperature record is to the state of scientific knowledge on global climate change. I have attached the complete study proposal.

As you are intimately aware, this issue has been the subject of considerable debate. Hence, we have taken great care to assemble an unbiased panel of scientific experts with the appropriate range of expertise to produce an authoritative report on the subject. The committee slate will be formally announced tomorrow, but I can tell you that Jerry North (Texas A&M) will be chairing the committee, and NAS Members Mike Wallace, Karl Turekian, and Bob Dickinson will be on the panel, in addition to a half-dozen other scientists with expertise in statistics, climate variability, and several different types of paleoclimate proxy data.

The committee would like to invite you to come to Washington DC on Thursday, March 2nd to speak about your work in this area and to discuss your perspective on the issues noted above and in the study proposal. The committee will be familiar with the relevant peer-reviewed literature, but is also interested in any recently submitted or accepted papers. We will be inviting 8-10 other experts to speak; a complete agenda will be made available prior to the meeting, and the meeting will be open to the public. Speakers will be reimbursed for travel expenses and invited to stay for the entire open session of the meeting (which includes a reception on Thursday evening and will extend into Friday morning).

Thank you in advance for your time and interest, we view your participation in this meeting as critical so I hope that one or both of you are available and willing to meet with our committee. If neither of you are available on March 2nd (or the morning of March 3rd), as a worst case we could arrange for you to speak to the committee via teleconference. We are trying to finalize the meeting schedule by Friday so please let me know if there is a particularly convenient time that I could call you this week to discuss details and answer any questions you might have (or feel free to call me directly).

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
National Research Council of The National Academies


No mention of the environmental and other costs of producing the hydrogen, of course. This is an exercise in Greenie righteousness so cost does not matter. Ethanol-powered cars, by contrast, are here already, cost LESS to run than conventional cars and are more environmentally friendly both in producing the fuel and in running the car. How boring!

Several months ago at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda introduced a wind cheating, earth friendly, fuel cell-powered concept called the FCX. Several weeks ago in Detroit at the NAIAS, Honda quietly announced that they would build a production vehicle based on the FCX concept. With the advancements they've made for this latest generation of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, a production model will be ready within three to four years.

It will probably be available only to a small group of alternative fuel loyalists and devotees, and likely only in Japan or possibly California where Honda previously introduced the FCX-V4 of which a portion of 30 examples found their way into government fleets and at least one famiy, but the packaging solutions Honda has developed for hydrogen storage as well as their clever Home Energy Station, alleviating the need for widespread hydrogen refilling stations on the road, point the way around many of the obstacles, or detours, on the road to the hydrogen highway and zero-emission culture of the future.

Many of the advancements with the new FCX center around Honda's V Flow fuel cell platform. The cells are stacked vertically in the center tunnel and arranged in a vertebral layout (think of it as though the stacks are your backbones if you are lying on your back) for higher efficiency packaging as well as more efficient management of gas flow (from top to bottom). Another breakthrough was in the realm of storage, and with a newly developed higher absorption material in the tanks which allowed Honda to double storage capacity. The FCX can achieve a real-world driving range of over 500 km (350 miles).

More here


Post lifted from the Adam Smith blog

Air travel is often fingered by environmentalist lobbies for contributing a huge share towards pollution. Their solution is (of course) for us all to live more simply, to travel less, and to import less from distant countries. How are we to achieve this? By taxing it heavily so that it reverts to being, as it once was, the prerogative of the rich.

Tony Blair is having none of it. He told a Commons liaison committee that it was 'unrealistic' to think that taxation could achieve that in the UK. It would take what he called a "fairly hefty whack" for people to cut back on flights in the UK and abroad. He's right. Gordon Brown's stealth taxes on air travel have not stopped its increase, even though they are in some cases higher than the cost of the ticket itself.

The Prime Minister also realized, correctly, that it would be very difficult to sell the public on the idea. People like the choices and opportunities which low cost air travel brings, and don't want it shoved out of reach by the bean sprouts and sandals brigade. Tony Blair declared his opposition to such a move.

What he suggested instead as the way forward was a move towards more environmentally friendly aircraft and to invest in other new technology. Mr Blair said that increased investment in new and alternative environmentally-friendly technologies could yield the emissions savings fairly quickly. Again, he sings with the angels. The combination of wealth plus technology achieves things more readily than exhortations and restrictions.

Of course the NGOs have slammed into him for this heresy. What's the point of this new technology if it doesn't make us change the way we live? If all it does is enable us to do what we want to do instead of what THEY want us to do, they think it valueless, or worse still, counter-productive.


Before I unveil my plan for energy independence, let me explain what's wrong with everyone else's. The problem with Americans is not that we're addicted to oil. As soon as oil becomes more trouble than it's worth, we will sensibly stop putting it in our cars. Until then, our problem is that we're addicted to politicians with plans for energy independence, like the Advanced Energy Initiative introduced by President Bush in his budget yesterday.

What exactly is so wrong with burning oil? The best argument is that it contributes to global warming. But so does burning coal and other fossil fuels. The fairest and most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be with a carbon tax on all fossil fuels. But the advocates for energy independence want to do more than just regulate emissions. Since Jimmy Carter put on his cardigan sweater and declared saving energy "the moral equivalent of war," politicians determined to wean us from imported oil have been hectoring us with bogus arguments:

The well is running dry. Government planners have a long history of overestimating the future cost of oil and underestimating the cost of their pet alternatives - which is why we keep burning oil. The government should finance basic research, not pick winners and losers. If there's a better alternative to oil in the near future, don't expect it to be glimpsed by the politicians now doling out subsidies to energy corporations and the corn farmers who vote in the Iowa caucuses.

America needs insurance against "oil shocks." Insurance doesn't make sense if the premiums cost more than the disaster. Mandating fuel-economy standards saved gasoline and made Americans a little less vulnerable to a spike in oil prices, but the rules led to smaller cars and an additional 2,000 deaths per year in highway accidents from the mid-1970's to the mid-1990's, according to the National Research Council.

Storing oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was supposed to moderate the economic damage of price spikes, but there's little evidence that it's ever made any appreciable difference, according to a Cato Institute study by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren. They calculate that the reserve has cost taxpayers more per barrel than the oil itself has ever been worth - even in years when the average price of oil was high, as in 1991 or last year.

We must take away the Middle East's "oil weapon." The only real oil weapon is the one that American politicians use to justify energy plans and Middle East adventures. It doesn't matter if our enemies in the Persian Gulf refuse to sell us oil directly. Once they sell it to anyone, it's in the global market and effectively available to us. The only way to hurt us would be to refuse to sell to anyone, but Middle Eastern countries are far more dependent on oil than we are: their oil revenues constitute a much bigger percentage of their income than their oil represents as a fraction of our imports.

If Osama bin Laden took over Saudi Arabia, why would he want to risk a popular uprising from citizens suddenly cut off from their accustomed cut of the national income? Selling oil makes sense, as bin Laden himself acknowledged when he said in an interview in 1996, "We are not going to drink it."

The United States spent decades propping up the shah of Iran only to see the country fall into the hands of our archenemies, but Iran is still exporting oil - and it is a lot more reliable producer than Iraq, despite all the money and lives we've spent there. The best guarantee of future oil supplies is the sellers' greed, not our diplomatic and military efforts.

When something finally comes along that's cheaper and more reliable than oil, no national energy plan will be necessary. Capitalists will be ready to sell it to eager American drivers. For now, the best strategy is to buy gasoline and stop worrying that it's sinful or dangerous.

When you hear politicians calling you an addict and warning that you'll be cut off, try my plan for energy independence. It's modeled on the Daily Affirmation of Stuart Smalley, that recovering addict and devotee of 12-step programs (whose creator on "Saturday Night Live," Al Franken, will probably be horrified). After you fill up your tank, twist the rear-view mirror so you can gaze at yourself. Repeat these words: "I'm good enough, I'm rich enough, and doggone it, people in the Middle East like my money."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


9 February, 2006


A "Bear's Lair" column by Martin Hutchinson, normally published by UPI but not apparently online other than here as yet. It includes a good comment on the potential for ethanol as an alternative to petroleum products:

About the only bipartisan cheers in President George W. Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday came with his claim that the United States was "addicted to oil" and the inevitable proposals thereafter for various state subsidies to new energy research. Yet neither the diagnosis nor the proposed cure make sense, since they bear little relation to the realities of the market.

According to the American Heritage dictionary, addiction is defined as a compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance. By this definition, the United States is not addicted to cheap oil, any more than it is addicted to water or soybeans; the substance is essential to keep the economy moving, but if an alternative were found the U.S. public would be only too glad to switch to it. The principal U.S. economic addiction is to cheap credit, an addiction fueled by the enablers of the Federal Reserve, but Bush proposed no significant remedies for THAT ailment. In considering the problem of oil however, the underlying easy money, negative-savings-rate, Federal budget deficit environment is a big part of the problem; since Americans consume far too much in general, they will consume too much oil.

The U.S. economy is not addicted to oil. The majority of affluent or comfortably off U.S. consumers have developed a lifestyle that requires a huge amount of private transportation, which in the present state of technology involves burning a lot of petroleum. Choices have been made, notably the suburbanization of U.S. cities that began even before World War I (construction began on the Bronx River Parkway, the world's first automobile divided limited access highway, as early as 1907 and the first section was opened in 1912.)

If cities remain compact, with development proceeding by means of apartments along major arteries, the primary means of transportation can remain bus and rail, as in Paris. With suburbanization, this becomes impossible because the size and cost of a rail or bus network of any given density expands as the square of its radius. Thus a radial subway or rail network that extends 20 miles from a city center has gaps in it, where the network is too far from much of the housing stock, and accessible only after a lengthy bus ride (generally making the total commuting time impossibly long) or with an automobile commute to the station. At that point, the automobile becomes essential, and whining about oil "addiction" becomes equivalent to whining about the public's incessant demand for food and drink.

Complaining about the U.S. addiction to oil is largely a cultural statement, akin to warning of global warming, by which the speaker's credibility at leftist metropolitan cocktail parties can be assured. It is backed wholeheartedly by the global media, most of whom reside in city centers, use automobiles only sparingly and refer to suburbanites among themselves as "bridge" or "beyond the Beltway" people. It is notable that oil company profits, most of which accrue to shareholders, are regarded with much more horror by the media than tech sector profits, much of which are embezzled in one way or another by that sector's overpaid management.

This anti-oil snobbery has over the years had damaging effects on the U.S. economy. It was responsible for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of the 1980s, which forcibly downsized U.S. automobiles through regulatory fiat, left the automobile market vulnerable to imports, and resulted in the invention of the immensely ugly and slightly dangerous Sport Utility Vehicle, which was through regulatory quirk exempt from the controls. The financial decline of Detroit was a direct result of CAFE; which placed the U.S. industry at a disadvantage to imports for decades because its fleet mix was affected more harshly by CAFE standards.

Conversely, anti-oil snobbery has perversely prevented the United States from taxing petroleum products at levels comparable to other countries. The unholy glee of the chattering classes in their attempts to make it more difficult for the non-urban to drive large cars and commute to work was noticed by the voters, who correctly took the view that more than financial motivations were involved. Thus increased gas taxes have always been deeply unpopular - far more so than their equivalent in general sales or other taxes.

Bush's State of the Union address was clearly written for cocktail party consumption, rather than as a rational contribution to policy. State funded "research" at which money had already been thrown in large quantities by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was further increased by 22 percent. No major advance has ever resulted from state funded research in the energy sector but hey, there's always a first time! Bush also announced the Administration's goal of reducing U.S. oil imports from the Middle East by 75 percent by 2025 -- at current 21st Century rates of progress that's 10 major terrorist attacks, 8 invasions, 6 nuclear weapon panics and 3 oil supply crises from now, but the thought's a good one.

Notably absent from the speech were references to Canadian tar sands, Colorado oil shale and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, all of which can be expected to make important contributions to U.S. oil self-sufficiency if allowed to do so by Congress and the environmentalists. Opposition to ANWR drilling, in particular, is a sign that the conversation has degenerated to the cocktail party level; when opponents of ANWR tell you that ANWR oil would supply U.S. oil needs for only 13 months, they omit to point out that a more likely usage pattern is to get 5 percent of U.S. needs for the next two decades, a much more strategically attractive prospect.

Even more than by their refusal to drill in ANWR, the economic un-seriousness of the U.S. political class is demonstrated by their pretence that ethanol, the favored alternative to petrol, must come from corn, wood stalks, soybeans or some other crop grown safely within the United States, preferably in the key Presidential caucus state of Iowa, and therefore to be subsidized in return for campaign contributions. No mention was made of the sugar-cane derived ethanol program in Brazil which supplies 40 percent of Brazil's vehicle fuel, at a price less than half that of gasoline, compared to the price of corn-grown ethanol that is only just competitive with gasoline at today's price of nearly $70 a barrel.

The United States could reduce dependency on the Middle East by importing sugar-cane derived ethanol and save money doing so, even after deducting the cost of retrofitting car engines. Sugar cane is grown in hot, wet tropical countries, not in Iowa (except at exorbitant cost) but there are a whole host of such countries available, in the Caribbean and the northern reaches of South America, only one of which, Venezuela is a significant oil exporter -- in some cases, such as Haiti, the United States is committed to propping the place up anyway.

Ethanol burning in automobiles is even held by environments to be helpful as regards global warming - the rationale is that although ethanol, like gasoline, is a hydrocarbon the burning of which releases carbon dioxide, growing the sugar-cane involves the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and so the loop is closed. This is typical cocktail party arithmetic; it involves assuming that the land where the sugar-cane grows would otherwise be an arid wasteland devoid of plant life. However, if we can avoid environmentalists passing fatuous treaties hindering a partial switch to sugar-cane ethanol, a useful solution to the U.S. energy supply problem, let's not nitpick their logic.

The strategic problem with oil is not that it has to be imported, but that it has to be imported from a relatively small group of countries, most of which are both corrupt and intrinsically somewhat hostile to the United States. Since oil production requires a large concentration of capital equipment, under extraction agreements with the host government, oil revenues tend to produce massive corruption of government officials, wasteful prestige projects and arms buildup rather than genuine economic development. Sugar-cane, on the other hand, is intrinsically a private sector crop, requires only modest capital investment and is fairly labor intensive even with modern cutting technology. Hence growth in the sugar-cane sector is likely to help development and facilitate the growth of a stable middle class in countries of the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America for which the United States has always taken a fatherly interest.

There's a reason for the absence of sugar-cane from Bush's speech: the demands of domestic U.S. politics. Sugar-cane growers in the Caribbean and South America are unlikely to provide significant campaign contributions, so are not a favored class. Indeed, sugar imports to the United States are currently regulated by the "Global Refined Tariff Rate Sugar" program, which prevents significant competition to coddled domestic sugar producers. Needless to say, domestic sugar producers ARE major campaign contributors, particularly in the key state of Florida.

"New Energy" technologies offer significant promise of replacing part of our oil consumption, and indeed must do so if we are not to suffer increasing scarcities, higher prices and eventually a shortage of this essential fuel. Nuclear energy and clean coal are important parts of the answer, but for wholesale power generation not transport. Fuel cell technology is promising, but the gasoline consumption figures of the "hybrid" Toyota Prius and its competitors appear to bear little relation in practice to those achievable in theory. Wind power is very ugly and intrinsically limited in scope, while solar power suffers from the problem that photovoltaic cells tend to overheat - hence the largest solar array in 2005 was in Leipzig, Germany, not generally thought of as a sun-seeker's paradise. Conservation can also help, but is most effectively encouraged by the European method of high taxes on gasoline rather than by command and control edicts from politicians.

The New Energy sector is not short of private funding; its "cocktail party" popularity and the pressure of the Kyoto climate change agreement has produced an ever increasing devotion of resources to research, and a huge boom in speculative investment in the last couple of years. Private equity investments alone in the New Energy sector (excluding investments by existing corporations or government or fund-raising by publicly listed companies) totaled more than $1.6 billion in over 150 transactions in 2005, double the level of the previous year.

As always with such explosive growth, much of the development in the sector is ill thought through. Indeed the popularity of the sector appears to be producing yet another bubble, and has undoubtedly attracted many sharp operators and indeed outright crooks. A boom/bust cycle appears to be inevitable, which is a pity because it could set back genuine progress in the field for a decade.

Price signals from the market and the "cocktail party" credibility of New Energy will produce oil-replacing developments at a rapid pace provided government does not impede the progress. More important than "New Energy" itself, existing technology, both to extract oil reserves from Canada and Alaska and to produce ethanol economically from sugar cane, offers most if not all the additional energy sources we need to avoid over-dependence on the unstable Middle East. Only politics can cause a crisis but as usual, politics appears to be driving government firmly in the direction of obstruction, waste and economic illiteracy.


"Nature", that famous global-warming propaganda rag, recently put out a paper under the title Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. The poor reasoning of the paper was pointed out almost immediately and it is now clear what a load of codswallop the paper was. As we see from the report below:

"An outbreak of an infectious disease called chytridiomycosis, attributed to the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has infected and caused rapid die-offs in eight families of Panamanian amphibians, scientists report in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). A survey of amphibian populations in central Panama has uncovered a case of chytridiomycosis that is rapidly radiating outward from western Panama into the El Cope region, spreading from northwest to southeast from Costa Rica toward Colombia. "Chytridiomycosis is an alarming model system for disease-driven extinction of a high proportion of an entire class of vertebrates," the scientists write in PNAS. "It is no longer correct to speak of global amphibian declines, but more appropriately of global amphibian extinctions."

The fungus has been implicated in the decline of more than 40 amphibian species in Central America and 93 such species worldwide. But few researchers have been able to detect and monitor the presence of the fungus before a disease outbreak, and then witness the impact of an epidemic as it occurred, said zoologist Karen Lips of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, lead author of the report. "We anticipated the eastward movement of the fungus, and chose a fungus-free study site near a previously infected area," she said. "Indeed, the fungus found its way there, and when it did, it quickly caused local amphibian extinctions and devastated frog and salamander biodiversity."

Pathogens, or disease-causing microbes, "rarely cause extinctions in the species they infect," said James Collins, assistant director of biological sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Collins is on leave from Arizona State University, and is a co-author of the paper. "There are only a few examples where we think a pathogen resulted in extinction of a species in an area. This is one of them."

The rockhopper frog, for example, which lived along El Cope riverbanks, disappeared completely within one month. Chytridiomycosis wasn't detected at the El Cope study site, said Collins, until Sept. 23, 2004, when scientists found the first infected frog. From then through mid-Jan. 2005, the fungus went on a rampage, killing so many frogs within 4 months that amphibian abundance was reduced by more than 50 percent. Dead frogs included individuals in 38 species (57 percent of the amphibian species at the site). All but three of the dead amphibians were infected with chytridiomycosis, and six of seven samples from substrates like stream boulders tested positive for the fungus, the researchers report. "None of the 1,566 individuals of 59 amphibian species sampled before Sept. 2004, was infected with this fungus," said Lips. "Our results demonstrate that the prevalence of the fungus very rapidly went from zero to high at this site." The timing of the outbreak, said Collins, "indicates that chytridiomycosis is rapidly moving southeastward, allowing us to predict its entry into amphibian communities in central Panama."

When the disease emerges at a site, it is thought to spread through a combination of frog-to-frog and environment-to-frog transmission. In the lab, some species of amphibians can carry the infection for up to 220 days before dying. The die-off at El Cope occurred during the peak of the rainy season. Many mountain-dwelling frogs in the New World tropics make their way to water bodies to breed during the region's prolonged rainy season, thereby transmitting the waterborne fungus. "Our findings definitively link the appearance of chytridiomycosis to amphibian population declines," said Lips. The area had no evidence of climate anomalies in 2004; its temperature and rainfall patterns were similar to those found in long-term records. "These results support a model of amphibian declines in which this fungus enters and quickly spreads through a community with no previously infected individuals," Lips said. The researchers predict the loss of many more amphibian species from the region, most likely from mountainous areas directly east of the study site."



Excerpt from here:

While today's balance between the icecaps and global sea level has been relatively steady since about 1000 B.C., it would be careless to assume that this is the Earth's natural state and that it should always be this way. What could happen to climate naturally in the next few thousand years? If the Earth continued to warm and break from ice age conditions, some of the remaining ice caps could melt. On the other hand, climate might swing back into another ice age. (In fact, some of the environmentalists now worried about global warming were worried about another ice age in the 1960s and 1970s.)

In either case, such a change in climate would take thousands of years to accomplish. Note that it has taken 18,000 years to melt 60% of the ice from the last ice age. The remaining ice is almost entirely at the north and south poles and is isolated from warmer weather. To melt the ice of Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years under any realistic change in climate. In the case of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which accounts for 80% of the Earth's current ice, Sudgen argues that it existed for 14,000,000 years, through wide ranges in global climate. The IPCC 2001 report states "Thresholds for disintegration of the East Antarctic ice sheet by surface melting involve warmings above 20ø C... In that case, the ice sheet would decay over a period of at least 10,000 years." [31] The IPCC is the United Nations' scientific committee on climate change; its members tend to be the minority that predicts global warming and its statements tend to be exaggerated by administrators before release. Given that the IPCC tends to exaggerate the potential for sea level rise, it is clear that no scientists on either side of the scientific debate on global warming fear the melting of the bulk of Antarctica's ice. Consider also this abstract of an article by Jacobs contrasting scientific and popular understanding:

A common public perception is that global warming will accelerate the melting of polar ice sheets, causing sea level to rise. A common scientific position is that the volume of grounded Antarctic ice is slowly growing, and will damp future sea-level rise. At present, studies supporting recent shrinkage or growth depend on limited measurements that are subject to high temporal and regional variability, and it is too early to say how the Antarctic ice sheet will behave in a warmer world. [32]

This statement alludes to the significant point that the Antarctic ice cap appears to currently be growing rather than shrinking. In fact, were the climate to warm significantly in the next few centuries (not a certain future, but supposing it happened), current models suggest that Antarctica would gain ice, with increased snowfall more than offsetting increased melting.

How much concern should we have about the 20% of world ice outside the East Antarctic Ice Sheet? Some sources have recently discussed the "possible collapse" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). It is suggested that this sheet (about 10% of Antarctic ice) could melt in the "near term" (a usefully vague phrase) and raise sea level 5 to 6 meters. Current understanding is that the WAIS has been melting for the last 10,000 years, and that its current behavior is a function of past, not current climate. [23] The abstract of an article by Alley and Whillans addresses this:

The portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet that flows into the Ross Sea is thinning in some places and thickening in others. These changes are not caused by any current climatic change, but by the combination of a delayed response to the end of the last global glacial cycle and an internal instability. The near-future impact of the ice sheet on global sea level is largely due to processes internal to the movement of the ice sheet, and not so much to the threat of a possible greenhouse warming. Thus the near-term future of the ice sheet is already determined. However, too little of the ice sheet has been surveyed to predict its overall future behavior. [34]

Similarly, recent stories have periodically appeared concerning the potential receding of the Greenland ice cap. Two points may be made regarding current understanding here. First, there is considerable disagreement as to the current rate of net ice cap loss--or even if there is net loss versus net gain. Second, even with temperature increases far greater than the dubious predictions of the IPCC, models indicate that Greenland's ice cap would take 2,000 to 10,000 years to disappear.

Some discussion of the concerns about near term sea level rise may be found in Facts and figures on sea level rise. The predictions that have been made for ice cap melting in the next century rely mostly on melting of glaciers in mountain regions, not melting of the polar ice caps. Even the pessimistic models cited by the IPCC tend to predict an increase in the volume of the Antarctic ice cap with warmer temperatures due to increased snowfalls. In general temperature changes of a few degrees do not seem to be sufficient to begin to melt the polar ice caps, particularly the Antarctic ice cap.....

The article goes on to show what would happen if all the polar ice DID melt:

Today the Earth has 148 million sq. km of land area, of which 16 million sq. km is covered by glaciers. A sea level rise of 66 meters would flood about 13 million sq. km of land outside Antarctica. Without polar ice, Antarctica and Greenland would be ice free, although about half of Antarctica would be under water. Thus, ice-free land would be 128 million sq. km compared to 132 million sq. km today.

As a result, in terms of total habitable land area, the Earth might have more than today. The coastal areas reclaimed by the sea would be mostly offset by now habitable areas of Greenland and Antarctica. Again, remember that such climate change would take thousands of years. Over such time scales vegetation would be restored to newly ice-free regions even without human activity. Also, vast areas which are now desert and tundra would become more fit for human habitation and agriculture.

The illustrations above do not depict any changes in vegetation. In reality, local climates would be very different in ways that are currently difficult to predict. It might be that the warmer climate would lead to generally greater precipitation (this is suggested by comparison to the last ice age, when cooler temperatures caused expansion of the Sahara). Unfortunately, current models are not reliable enough to give a confident answer.

So why wouldn't people drown? Again, a change in the Earth this dramatic would take thousands of years to effect from any realistic cause. Over generations people would migrate as the coasts changed. Consider that virtually all of the settlements in the United States were established only in last 350 years. Of course, many settlements inhabited for thousands of years would have to be abandoned to the ocean--just as many would have to be abandoned if ice age conditions returned and covered vast areas with ice sheets. But people can comfortably adjust where they live over periods of decades, far shorter than the thousands of years needed for these climate changes to naturally take place. Also, that's if they occur, and we have no evidence to indicate what would happen to climate over the next few thousand years.


I cannot resist reproducing one of John Daly's graphs of the historical temperature record at the Eureka station on Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic.

You see what happens when there is no urban heat island effect and when you use thermometers to measure temperature rather than tales from Eskimos.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


8 February, 2006


Low solar activity could trigger a global freeze in the middle of the 21st century, a Russian astronomer said Monday. Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory said temperatures would begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reached its peak, and that the coldest period would occur 15-20 years after a major solar output decline in 2035-2045. Abdusamatov said dramatic changes in the earth's surface temperatures were an ordinary phenomenon, not an anomaly, and resulted from variations in the Sun's energy output and ultraviolet radiation. The Northern Hemisphere's most recent cool-down period of 1645-1705, known as the Little Ice Age, left canals in Holland frozen solid and forced people in Greenland to abandon their houses to glaciers, the scientist said.



Electricity generators have warned that placing an even greater burden on the sector to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, under a forthcoming official plan, will threaten Britain's already struggling power network. Power stations and other heavy users of energy fear that they will again be seen as a "soft touch" for a government desperate to meet its ambitious target of a 20 per cent cut in UK carbon dioxide emissions by 2010. Electricity producers believe it will be very difficult to reconcile the need for billions of pounds of new investment in power stations, to make up for a rapidly approaching shortfall in Britain's ageing generating capacity, with having to also shoulder almost the entire country's effort in cutting emissions of carbon dioxide.

David Porter, chief executive of the Association of Electricity Producers, said: "Companies want to invest in new, clean power plant, but it must be recognised that their choice of technology is affected not just by fuel prices, but by carbon costs, too. That could affect the extent of diversity in the UK's generating industry." Separately, the CBI said the 20 per cent figure simply could not be achieved and the Government must set different targets. Matthew Farrow, head of environment policy at the CBI, said that there were "diminishing returns" attainable from ever-greater demands of emissions cuts from heavy industry. He said that households and other parts of the economy needed to share the burden. "Government needs to understand that targets are not something that businesses can achieve by themselves, but that is the only lever they seem to have," Mr Farrow said. He said that there was a series of relatively low-cost measures aimed at the consumer that could be used. For instance, he suggested that stamp duty payable on buying energy-efficient homes could be reduced.

The Government admits that the 20 per cent emissions cut figure, which has featured in the last three Labour election manifestos, will be tough to meet. However, a plan of action, called the Climate Change Review Programme, has been repeatedly delayed amid reports that the Department of Trade and Industry wants to ditch the goal. The DTI apparently has the support of the Prime Minister, who is fearful that it would harm British industry.

Britain's obligations under the Kyoto protocol only require a 10 per cent reduction by 2010, so an aim to double that figure would place restrictions on British business that key competitors do not have. However, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is said to be determined to stick by the 20 per cent figure. A spokesman said the Climate Change Review Programme would be published "shortly". The Government must also publish its next proposed "National Allocation Plan" before the summer. This would become the UK's submission to the European Commission for the country's permitted carbon emissions, for the period from 2008 to 2012.

According to Defra's figures, under the last National Allocation Plan, which covered the period from 2005 to the end of 2007, power stations had to cut 21.5 per cent of their historic emissions. All the other sectors covered by the scheme - except food, drink and tobacco - were actually allowed to raise their emissions over that time. As electricity generators do not export, analysts said the Government believes it can hit them without hurting British competitiveness.

Mr Porter said: "The brunt of the emissions cuts in Phase 1 was borne by the electricity generating sector. Eventually, that burden will have to be spread, or it will be impossible to meet government targets. But I have an uncomfortable feeling that we might be singled out for a hefty cut in emissions reduction when the next allocation plan emerges."

The Independent, 6 February 2006


Making Sense of Chemical Stories is a welcome corrective to the abundance of misinformation about chemicals. Chemicals are often presented as substances that are harmful to our health and the environment and should be avoided. But the idea of a chemical-free existence is absurd: the world is full of chemicals, both natural and manufactured, and we could not exist without them.

Today, it is especially the 'man-made', 'synthetic' or 'industrial' chemicals that we are encouraged to avoid. 'But how do we explain the fact that we are living longer and healthier lives?' asked Andrew Cockburn, director of Toxico-Logical Consulting Ltd, at the launch of the Sense about Science report. In the UK in 1840 the average life expectancy was only 40 years of age; today it is nearer to 80. 'That makes us the healthiest hypochondriacs that ever existed', said Cockburn.

In the late nineteenth century the population was indeed exposed to a number of hazardous chemicals. In 1871 the Royal Sanitary Commission noted that the water in Bradford Canal was so contaminated that a dropped lamp could set it alight. Chemicals used in hat-making gave off mercury vapour, causing muscle tremors, distorted vision and slurred speech. Hence the origin of the phrase 'mad as a hatter'. This chemical, and many more, are now carefully regulated, allowing us to live better and healthier lives.

But that does not stop some people from fretting. Not many of them end up as red faced as the Californian city councillors who in 2004 took steps to protect the public from the 'potentially deadly' chemical, dihydrogen monoxide. A hoax website had warned that this 'odourless, tasteless chemical' kills thousands of people every year, mainly through accidental inhalation. The website pointed out that dihydrogen monoxide causes severe burns in its gaseous state and severe tissue damage through prolonged exposure in its solid state. City officials considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production. But dihydrogen monoxide is, of course, H2O; in other words, water.

The chemical terms for certain substances may sound ominous. The research scientist Derek Lohmann asks: 'If someone came into your house and offered you a cocktail of butanol, iso amyl alcohol, hexanol, phenyl ethanol, tannin, benzyl alcohol, caffeine, geraniol, quercetin, 3-galloyl epicatchin, 3-galloyl epigallocatchin and inorganic salts, would you take it?' Maybe not. But if they offered you a cup of tea - a chemical mixture containing the above chemicals - you may not be as reticent.

Making Sense of Chemical Stories has shed some much-needed light on a murky debate. It clearly spells out that whether a substance is manufactured by people, copied from nature or extracted directly from nature, tells us nothing about whether it is 'good' or 'bad' for us. The old rule that it is the dose that makes the poison still holds: everything is potentially poisonous, depending on the quantity. Rather than fear synthetic chemicals we should recognise that flame-retardants, cleaners, disinfectants, anti-bacterials and DDT have helped to save millions of lives and improved the quality of life for many more.

More here


The Common Agricultural Policy is classically criticised for producing too much food at too high prices and for undermining cheaper Third World producers by dumping the remainder on world markets. America is not much better. The Doha Round is in limbo because the EU has told the rest of the world that it must offer juicy trade advantages if reforms in the CAP or EU tariffs are to go beyond the restructuring of subsidies.

In a few years, however, agriculture in Europe could be transformed, virtually abandoning many commodity food crops. Instead of being our nations’ larders, the fields could become giant intensive fuel factories. Fuel crops, in this vision, will become the most practical way to use solar energy, turning the sun’s rays into a few standard forms of vegetable matter to power vehicles and generate electricity in less environmentally objectionable thermal power stations.

The latest “vision” comes from President Bush. He used his annual State of the Union address to tout a new energy policy that would free America from the chains of dependence on Middle East oil. He backed all the usual things: nuclear power, solar cells, wind farms, hydrogen, petrol-electric vehicles and fuel efficiency. But his focus was on something called “cellulosic” ethanol, a patented process developed in Canada that aims to turn prairie grasses, corn straw and wood chips into an ethanol alternative to petrol in cars, vans and lorries. Vehicle fuel accounts for nearly half America’s oil use.

Ethanol is certainly a practical fuel. Brazil makes enough from sugar cane to deliver more than half the power for the cars on its roads, though it took a long time and massive interference with markets. Ethanol production is not without problems. In America it comes from ears of corn and takes nearly as much energy to convert as it delivers. The new process uses enzymes to break down tougher material, such as the heavy corn stalks.

In Europe cellulosic ethanol would not be the obvious choice for renewable vehicle fuel. To reduce our dependence on fossil energy and the associated extra carbon dioxide emissions, it would make more sense to use biomass to generate electricity, while rebuilding nuclear power capacity. But these alternative ways of generating electricity do not really help on fuel for vehicles. Here biodiesel, which uses vegetable oil crops such as that yellow-flowered colza, is at present several times more efficient at turning produce into car miles. It is even more practical if the rest of the plant is burnt for electricity or used as fertiliser. Burning straw is claimed to emit no more harmful gases than letting it rot.

All such projections presuppose, however, that President Bush’s dash for freedom and Europe’s focus on cutting carbon emissions are serious. The sheer self-indulgence of the UK’s 2001 Energy White Paper and the history of US drives for self-sufficiency suggest that they may just be fancies that will quickly pass if and when oil and gas prices subside. President Bush’s call for action echoes similar initiatives by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, the first George Bush and Bill Clinton at times of high oil prices or Middle East conflict. None of them came to much once oil prices fell back or tension eased. Only the pet technologies have changed.

Unless cellulosic ethanol turns out to be much cheaper than its rivals, which would be surprising, none of these alternative vehicle fuels is economical unless oil prices remain historically high. They are the equivalent of the Canadian tar sands, whose development is occasionally considered and then shelved again. Vegetable fuels are a better proposition in countries such as Britain, where petrol is heavily taxed and a bit of biodiesel can readily be slipped into the mix. But it will take over only in the unlikely case that the Treasury is prepared to give up the best part of £25 billion a year in revenue for the sake of environmental improvement, the balance of payments or national security.

In America high prices have proved the only reliable method of cutting oil imports. High fuel costs reduce demand, for instance, by persuading people to use more economical cars, and stimulate investment in domestic production, which is still huge but in worldwide decline. US oil imports halved after the 1979-81 oil price boom, but not for long.

If President Bush and his successors want to go beyond rhetoric and funds for special interests, they would have to persuade Americans that fuel will not get any cheaper. To give investors the confidence to put capital into ethanol on a massive scale, they would have to know that oil taxes would rise pro rata with any fall in refined oil prices. Mr Bush has failed to offer this assurance.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


7 February, 2006


National Grid has added a small charge on all of their heating customers’ bills for January because the company didn’t deliver as much energy as it expected to. How does the company decide when it needs to add the surcharge to bills? If the temperature is two degrees higher than the 30-year average during the months of October through May, customers will have to pay the surcharge.

If it’s two degrees lower than the average, you get a credit on your bill. The last time customers saw a credit was in December. In fact, National Grid has issued seven credits in the past two years. But in that same time period, they’ve added surcharges to your bill 11 times. A National Grid spokesman says it is all part of the way they do business. They have setup this mechanism because the cost of their utility almost solely depends on the weather.

More here


.... But one statistic offered last week by a top Chinese environmental official should stimulate genuine alarm inside and outside China. The official, Zhang Lijun, warned that pollution levels here could more than quadruple within 15 years if the country does not curb its rapid growth in energy consumption. China, it seems, has reached a tipping point familiar to many developed countries, including the United States, that have raced headlong after economic development only to look up suddenly and see the environmental carnage. The difference with China, as is so often the case, is that the potential problems are much bigger, have happened much faster and could pose greater concerns for the entire world. "I don't think it will jump four or five times," Robert Watson, a senior scientist with the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, said of the pollution prediction by Zhang. "But it could double or triple without too much trouble. And that's a scary thought, given how bad things are now."

China is already the world's second-biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions and is expected to surpass the United States as the biggest. Roughly a third of China is exposed to acid rain. A recent study by a Chinese research institute found that 400,000 people die prematurely every year in China from diseases linked to air pollution. Nor does China's air pollution respect borders: On certain days almost 25 percent of the particulate matter clotting the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Environmental experts in California predict that China could eventually account for roughly a third of the state's air pollution.

The air problem could become a major embarrassment if, as some experts believe, Beijing does not meet its environmental targets for 2008, when the Olympic Games will be played here. For the Chinese government, the question is how to change a booming economy without crippling it. President Hu Jintao has made "sustainable development" a centerpiece of his effort to shift the country from unbridled growth to a more efficient economy. Hu and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao have repeatedly mentioned environmental protection in speeches.

The political attention comes as environmental problems are begetting social and economic problems. Violent riots have erupted in the countryside over contaminated water, stunted crops and mounting health woes. In a handful of villages, farmers have stormed chemical factories to stop the dumping of filthy water. Roughly 70 percent of China's rivers and lakes are polluted. In cities, people drink bottled water; in the countryside, most people are too poor to pay for bottled water, so they boil polluted water or simply drink it untreated.

Public anger is also rising in cities. In some, air pollution is so thick that on the worst days doctors advise, impractically, against going outside. Last week, hundreds of people living in the outskirts of Beijing protested plans for a factory that they fear would inundate the neighborhood with pollution. The severity of the situation has created an opening for environmentalists in and out of the government. Environmentalism is a chic issue at universities. Students participate in garbage cleanups and join the growing number of nongovernmental organizations focused on pollution. The once-meek State Environmental Protection Administration, or SEPA, has become more aggressive in identifying and going after polluters and calling for reforms.

But the political and practical obstacles are formidable. Car ownership has become part of the Chinese middle-class dream, and the car industry has become a major contributor to tax coffers and a force in the overall economy.

Industrial pollution is difficult to control because local officials often ignore emissions standards to appease polluting factories that pay local taxes. The SEPA has closed factories, only to see them reopen weeks later. To make a serious reduction in air pollution, experts say, tougher, enforceable standards are needed, and many factories would need new pollution control equipment. "There has to be the political will," said Steve Page, director of the U.S. EPA office of air quality planning and standards. "The challenge they face is how will these plants be lined up and told this will happen?"

Politically, the Communist Party has based its legitimacy on delivering economic growth and understands that the boom cannot be taken for granted: high growth is needed simply to keep unemployment in check, and top leaders fear that a slowdown could lead to social instability. Local officials are promoted, foremost, for delivering economic growth. This is why environmental officials have pushed for a new "green GDP," which would alter how China's gross domestic product is calculated to reflect losses inflicted by environmental degradation. The party is suspicious of environmental groups because of the role similar groups played in promoting grass-roots democracy in the "color" revolutions of central Asia. Human Rights Watch reported that some environmentalists were recently arrested in China.

But if there is resistance, there is progress, too. A law taking effect next year will require that China produce 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Fuel efficiency standards for new cars are already stricter than those in the United States. At an air pollution conference on Oct. 24, environmental officials solicited advice from their peers in Europe and the United States. Page, the American EPA official, praised Chinese officials and said China is considering the sort of regional pollution abatement strategies used in the United States. They are wrestling with a lot of the same pollution problems that we wrestled with several years ago and that, to some extent, we still are grappling with," said Page, who attended the conference.

More here


`They call me a global warming heretic," says David Bellamy, the conservationist who has dismissed the imminent demise of the planet under a tidal wave of melted polar ice caps as "poppycock". "I have assured them that they cannot burn me at the stake because of all the dioxins my body will give off." The bearded botanist emits a hoot at this scientific bon mot, but in truth he isn't finding his current predicament very funny at all.

Ever since he stuck his head above the undergrowth to question the view that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for climate change, Bellamy has found himself frozen out of the debate on global warming. Rather than blaming pollutants, he argues that the current change in climate is simply part of an eons-old global cycle; one that humans are as powerless to stop as they are blameless in starting. "Natural climate change has been happening for a long time," he says. "If you were sitting in London 10,000 years ago there would be woolly rhinos walking around because it would be the end of the ice age. Now we are in a pretty wobbly phase and some people are saying that this is caused by carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere and drowning us all. I just don't believe that."

The problem is that the thought police of the conservation community will brook no dissent and have contrived to silence his voice and that of his supporters. "I always thought that was what science was all about: arguing publicly and publishing both sides of the point, finding the answer," he says. "But we simply cannot get our stuff published. They don't tolerate dissent because they are not telling the truth. There is no consensus whatsoever on global warming; there are just as many people dissenting but they will not publish those papers in journals."

He believes the reason that non-believers are being silenced is fear: after all it is reassuring to think that whatever the cataclysm ahead we at least have the power to head it off. Much less comforting to believe that there is nothing we can do.

Bellamy, who endeared himself to a generation with his mangled pronunciations and saliva-soaked enthusiasm on television, might make an unlikely rebel, but that is what, reluctantly, he has become. He is no apologist for the car industry, he says, though his views are likely to be more acceptable around the water coolers of General Motors than Greenpeace. "If you believe that CO2 actually is causing man-made global warming then the car is bad news," he says. "But I think the car industry should be patted on the back. They are all doing their bit making more and more efficient cars, and increased fuel efficiency is a good thing because it will make the oil last longer."

More here


(By Boris Johnson)

I used to have a mother-in-law called Gaia, so any book called The Revenge of Gaia is likely to cause a flutter of panic in my breast; and by the time I had finished the new best-seller by green prophet James Lovelock, I am afraid I was in a state of brow-drenched hysteria. The good news is that the Gaia in question is not my ex-mother-in-law. The bad news is that she represents a chthonic deity even more capable of vengeance upon errant mankind. Gaia is the Earth herself; she is Mother Nature; she taps her foot in ever-growing impatience at the antics of our species; and, according to Professor Lovelock, she is about to exact the most terrifying punishment for our excesses. She is about to get carboniferous on our ass.

Lovelock has been studying climate change since the 1960s. He has been described by the New Scientist as one of the great thinkers of our age, and he was made a Companion of Honour in 2003. He knows his onions, and, indeed, how much moisture they require. He has been around the world looking at the rising tidelines, sniffing the smoke from the burning rainforest, listening to the roar of the ice-melt from the glaciers, and he has come to the conclusion that the climate change lobby has got it hopelessly wrong.

We delude ourselves, says Lovelock, if we think that the global temperature is going to rise in small increments over the next century. We are like the blindfolded crew of a boat approaching Niagara Falls, and there will come a moment when the temperature will rise with all the equivalent vertical horror. Some time in the next hundred years, he says, it is suddenly going to get hotter and hotter and hotter. "Billions will die," says Lovelock, who tells us that he is not normally a gloomy type. Human civilisation will be reduced to a "broken rabble ruled by brutal warlords", and the plague-ridden remainder of the species will flee the cracked and broken earth to the Arctic, the last temperate spot, where a few breeding couples will survive.

It is going to be a "hell of a climate", he says, with Europe 8C warmer than it is today; and the real killer, says Lovelock, is that there is not a damn thing we can do about it. We are already pumping out so much carbon dioxide, with no prospect of abatement from the growing economies of China and India, that our fate is sealed.

We in Britain produce only two per cent of the world's carbon output and, even if we closed down British industry overnight; even if we abolished the winter fuel allowance and ordered the pensioners to wear more sweaters; even if we forested the entire country with windfarms, it would make not a bean of difference. It would be like trying to cool a volcano with an ice cube. The Kyoto protocol; the climate change levy; the windows and doors regulation - they are all as pointless as telling a patient with terminal lung cancer that he should give up smoking.

And when the Great Heat has destroyed our industry, and wrecked civilisation, it will get worse, says Lovelock. Because then we will lose the aerosol of dust and smog that has kept out some of the sun's rays; and it will get hotter still. There is nothing for it, he says, but to forget the piffling Kyoto-led regulation, and build nuclear power plants, so as not to be dependent on Russian gas, and send bodies of fit young men and women to East Anglia, there to build levees against the coming inundations. An international solution is now beyond our reach, he says, and we must look to Britain first.

Phew-ee. Is Lovelock right? I haven't the faintest; but as I listen to his Mad Max-style vision of the coming century, I find my mind bubbling with blasphemous thoughts. Wasn't it pretty hot in the 10th century? Didn't the Romans have vineyards in Northumberland? And is it really so exceptionally hot in modern Europe? According to yesterday's paper, Lisbon has just had its first heavy snowfall for 52 years. What's that about?

I feel I cannot possibly disagree with Lovelock, or with the overwhelming body of scientists who attest to the reality of climate change. I am sure that they are, in some sense, right; and it feels instinctively true that we are a nasty, over-polluting species; and there is something horrifying, when you look at those pictures of the world at night, to see the phosphorescent sprawl of humanity. But the more one listens to sacerdotal figures such as Lovelock, and the more one studies public reactions to his prophecies, the clearer it is that we are not just dealing with science (though science is a large part of it); this is partly a religious phenomenon.

Humanity has largely lost its fear of hellfire, and yet we still hunger for a structure, a point, an eschatology, a moral counterbalance to our growing prosperity. All that is brilliantly supplied by climate change. Like all the best religions, fear of climate change satisfies our need for guilt, and self-disgust, and that eternal human sense that technological progress must be punished by the gods.

And the fear of climate change is like a religion in this vital sense, that it is veiled in mystery, and you can never tell whether your acts of propitiation or atonement have been in any way successful. One sect says we must build more windfarms, and these high priests will be displeased with what Lovelock has to say. Another priestly caste curses the Government's obsession with nuclear power - a programme Lovelock has had the courage to support.

Some scientific hierophants now tell us that trees - trees, the good guys - are the source of too much methane, and are contributing to global warming. Huh? We in the poor muddled laity scratch our heads and pray. Who is right? Who is wrong?

If Lovelock is only half-right, then we must have an immediate programme to pastoralise the global economy and reduce emissions. The paradox is that, if he is completely right, there is not a lot we can do, and we might as well enjoy our beautiful planet while we can. Or is he completely wrong? To say that would be an offence not just against science, but against a growing world religion.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


6 February, 2006


The White House has inserted last-minute changes to a proposed national air pollution rule that distort scientific findings on the health effects of breathing dust, according to a panel of independent scientists that advises the Bush administration. The federal Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee said the effect of the administration's changes is to cast doubt [Heaven forbid!] on key studies that link fine-particle pollution to heart disease, strokes, asthma attacks and shortened lifespans, or "premature deaths."

The committee also said Friday that the administration misrepresented the panel's view on dust pollution in rural areas to support an exemption for mining and farming. The revisions, penned by officials at the White House's Office of Management and Budget, were made in December, shortly before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the proposal for public comment. The panel of prominent air-pollution experts raised their objections to the changes in a public teleconference Friday. A majority of the advisory committee had recommended that the limits be tightened on annual exposure to fine particle pollution - mainly dust and soot from human activity. Scientists on the panel and other experts, including those with the California Environmental Protection Agency, have said the preponderance of health studies show that tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year by moderately tightening the limits.

But EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson decided that the current limit should be retained and that the standard for coarser airborne particles be dropped altogether in rural areas. In issuing the proposal a few weeks ago, Johnson said, "The evidence to date does not support a national air-quality standard that would cover situations where most coarse particles in the air come from sources like windblown dust and soils, agricultural sources and mining sources."

More here


The Greenies would probablly find something wrong with it anyway -- not close enough to nature, or something

A Worldchanging post rounds up three different airborne power-generation systems -- a flying windmill, a windmill-equipped zeppelin, and a kite-based windmill. According to their figures, one flying windmill rated at 240kW with rotor diameters of 35 feet could generate power for less than two cents per kilowatt hour--that would make them the cheapest power source in the world. For greater power needs, several units would be operated in the same location--Sky Windpower says that an installation "rated at 2.81 megawatts flying at a typical U.S. site with an eighty percent capacity factor projects a life cycle cost per kilowatt hour at 1.4 cents." And they would have far better uptime than most windmills--since the jetstream never quits, they should operate at peak capacity 70-90% of the time. Output would also be less dependent on location than it is on the ground, simply because terrain doesn't matter much when you're at 35,000ft; however, since the jetstream and other "geostrophic" winds don't blow much at latitudes near the equator, it would be useful primarily for middle- and higher-latitudes.



A reader writes:

"A real blue sky idea indeed. They are talking about generating 20MW with eight rotors all with wind energy only. Even if you generate at high voltages, say 10KV, that means currents of the order of 2000 A if you generate DC or about 400A if you generate three-phase AC. 400A requires a conductor of at least 1 inch dia, which weights about a pound per feet. That's three copper conductor plus a steel cable to support the whole thing. (Copper is rather weak in tension) Let's be generous: half a pound per feet per conductor times 4 (3 copper, one steel) is 2 pounds per feet times 35,000 feet equals 70,000 pounds or 35 tons of cable only. Even if you use ASCR cable (Aluminum Conductor, Steel Reinforced) we are not going to be far from those 35 tons. Add the weight of the generators and whatever and you are in trouble right there."


Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change brings together the material presented at a conference of the same name a year ago in Exeter. The argument put forward is that unless carbon emissions are tackled immediately, average global temperature is likely to rise by between 0.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius by 2050 - with the potential for much bigger changes further down the line. Some of the possible consequences of this include the melting of vast swathes of ice in Greenland and Western Antarctica, the shutdown or shifting of the ocean currents that keep northern Europe warm, the inundation of many low-lying areas, and loss or damage to plant and aquatic life.

More alarming speculation suggests that positive feedbacks might occur, resulting in runaway temperature rises with much more dramatic effects. As UK prime minister Tony Blair states in his foreword to the book: 'It is clear from the work presented that the risks of climate change may well be greater than we thought.'

This is essentially the same material that was so widely publicised in February 2005, but it is interesting how each new report about climate change turns up the volume of screeching fears about our future. For example, Dr Chris Rapley of the British Antarctic Survey suggests that sea levels could rise by 16 feet if the West Antarctic ice sheet were to melt (although this could take up to a thousand years).

The problem with the discussion about climate change is the way in which the politicisation of the scientific debate makes it increasingly difficult to come to a balanced view on what is really happening. We are presented with a message - 'we must reduce carbon emissions drastically and quickly' - without any sense of the caveats and uncertainties in the science. As one attendee at the Exeter conference put it, 'such was the spectacle of pending disaster that anyone who dared - or was allowed - to question whether the sky is really about to fall on us... was branded a "usual suspect"' (1).

For example, the most important single factor in the regulation of Earth temperature is cloud, yet it is still unclear what overall effect cloud will have in the future. Cloud and water vapour may tend to damp down the effects of increased greenhouse gases, or they may act to magnify such effects. In fact, while the science is clearly developing, there are still genuine problems with the computer models, data, physics, even the economics, of climate change that mean that even the best guesses about our future still reveal widely divergent scenarios.

An influential group of climate scientists and environmental campaigners are clearly taking one particular view of the evidence - that we are heading for disaster. In this view, change will be traumatic and the benefits of warming limited and isolated. For this group climate change is not just a big problem, it is the problem. Other problems we face, such as disease and poverty, are seen as subordinate to the need to tackle carbon emissions.

But given the huge potential costs of rapidly shifting to a low-carbon society, the policy of 'wait and see' has a lot going for it. Before we devote so much of society's energies and resources to solving a problem, let's be absolutely sure that we have got one. Before we sign up to hugely expensive attempts to prevent climate change, we should try to work out whether adapting to change, aided by greater economic development, could be more fruitful.

Human adaptability seems to be the missing factor in the whole discussion. The notion that we could use climate change to our advantage is anathema to the doom merchants. Indeed, both sides of the debate are marked by conservatism. There is a tendency among some climate change sceptics to suggest that the current way of organising society's energy supply and transport is the only sensible one, and that reducing carbon emissions will inevitably cause more problems than it solves.

What the debate about climate change desperately needs is a questioning approach that untangles science and politics; a sense of perspective about the scale of the problems; and a large dose of faith in the ability of society to adapt to change in a positive manner. This new book is unlikely to be much help.



Post lifted from Marginal Revolution

Long before Larry Summers shocked the elite by suggesting that men and women might be different he signed on to a World Bank memo noting:

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to it."

A number of people suggested that the US was doing just this as lower tariff barriers made it easier to export dirty manufacturing industries and import the goods.  An NBER paper, however, finds no evidence for this effect.  Quoting from the NBER Digest:

Imports overall grew by 318 percent during the period. But according to World Bank data that characterizes industries by their pollution intensity, imports of goods manufactured in highly polluting processes grew at a much slower rate. In other words, just as the U.S. manufacturing sector was growing while simultaneously shifting toward clean industries, the same thing was happening to our imports: they were rising, but the percentage of goods coming from polluting industries was going down. "The cleaner U.S. manufacturing composition is not offset by dirtier imports," the authors write. "Rather, the composition of imports has also become cleaner."

One reason pollution hasn't been exported may be that the dirtier (older) industries have more political power and have resisted tariff reductions.  The authors find, however, that even if one eliminated all tariffs on manufactured goods pollution would still not be exported.

It's not that this wouldn't be a good idea, it's just that it so happens that poor countries don't have a comparative advantage in producing the goods that require a lot of pollution. Of course, if we tax pollution in the United States at higher levels it will make more sense to export it - an interesting dilemma.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


5 February, 2006


An oceanographer charts the ebb and flow of opinion on ocean currents

(By Carl Wunsch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA)

Many scientists believe that high-latitude cooling drives the ocean's currents as cold, dense water sinks then flows towards the Equator, creating a convective heat engine. Since I was a student in the 1960s, when a colleague at MIT, Thomas Rossby, had seemingly shown that such a flow could be set up in the lab, this view has been entrenched. But a flaw in the heat-engine model was pointed out as early as 1908 by the Swedish meteorologist Johan Sandstrom.

Heating a saucepan from below causes an instability: lower, warmer fluid rises and displaces the fluid above, leading to a vigorous convection current. In the ocean, heating and cooling both occur at the same level - the surface. Sandstrom argued that this situation should be stable. In my student days, Sandstrom's argument was simply dismissed because he had considered an ideal, non-turbulent fluid. Recently, however, some of us became interested again - in part because of public concern that the ocean circulation is 'shutting down', and more sensibly because of the need to understand the oceanic energy budget.

In one example, two experimentalists revisit the problem (W. Wang & R.- X. Huang J. Fluid Mech.540,49-73; 2005) and find that cooling salty water at or below the level of heating always produces some motion. So Sandstrom wasn't strictly correct. But the observed flow is so weak that the efficiency with which the ocean converts heat to motion must be vanishingly small. The circulation in the ocean - and in retrospect, in Rossby's original experiment - depends on details of how cold and warm waters mix. That means the winds and tides are the real drivers of the ocean currents. How long will it be until the literature catches up?

(Article above from Nature, "Research Highlights", 2 February, 439, 512 - 513 of 2006).


Judicial time wasted on attacking a reasonable opinion. All in the hope of legal loot, of course

A federal judge blasted former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman on Thursday for reassuring New Yorkers soon after the Sept. 11 attacks that it was safe to return to their homes and offices while toxic dust was polluting the neighborhood. U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts refused to grant Whitman immunity against a class-action lawsuit brought in 2004 by residents, students and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who said they were exposed to hazardous materials from the collapse of the World Trade Center. "No reasonable person would have thought that telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to lower Manhattan, while knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws," the judge said. She called Whitman's actions "conscience-shocking," saying the EPA chief knew that the fall of the twin towers released tons of hazardous materials into the air. A call to a spokeswoman for Whitman was not immediately returned.

The judge let the lawsuit proceed against the EPA and Whitman, permitting the plaintiffs to try to prove that the agency and its administrator endangered their health. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and reimbursement for cleanup costs and asks the court to order that a medical monitoring fund be set up to track the health of those exposed to trade center dust. In her ruling, Batts noted that the EPA and Whitman said repeatedly - beginning just two days after the attack - that the air appeared safe to breathe. The EPA's internal watchdog later found that the agency, at the urging of White House officials, gave misleading assurances.

Quoting a ruling in an earlier case, the judge said a public official cannot be held personally liable for putting the public in harm's way unless the conduct was so egregious as "to shock the contemporary conscience." Given her role in protecting the health and environment for Americans, Whitman's reassurances after Sept. 11 were "without question conscience-shocking," Batts said.



Ministers expect a "huge row" with businesses over plans to cut greenhouse gas output under the European Union's emissions trading scheme. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs intends to push ahead with tougher limits on emissions than are required under EU-wide plans set out by the European Commission last month. Businesses in energy-intensive sectors covered by the scheme fear this will put them at a disadvantage compared with competitors in other member states.

By the end of March, the government will publish its draft "national allocation plan" showing how much carbon dioxide businesses will be allowed to emit in the second phase of the emissions trading scheme, from 2008 to 2012. Businesses argue that the government is creating an unnecessary burden by adopting unilaterally a tougher standard for cutting emissions. Other EU countries will base the calculations for their national allocation plans on their commitments to reduce greenhouse gases under the Kyoto protocol on climate change. This will mean many member states have to impose much stricter reductions on their industry than they face at present. Cuts of about 6 per cent on average from 2008 will be required, according to the Commission.

However, the UK is on track to meet its Kyoto targets, so British businesses could expect to receive broadly similar emissions limits in the second phase of the trading scheme as in the first, which began on January 1 2005. However, the government is committed to its own, more stringent, targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. These targets were an election manifesto pledge. Defra wants to base its calculations for the national allocation plan on that tougher target, meaning that businesses covered by the EU scheme could expect a significant reduction in their allowances to emit greenhouse gases.

Margaret Beckett, environment secretary, said: "Our allocations for phase one [of the trading scheme] should be viewed as the minimal starting point for phase two allocations." Another minister told the Financial Times he expected emission cuts to be required from business to help to meet government targets, and predicted a "huge row" with business over plans to tighten the screw on industry's emissions. He said some businesses were co-operating on emissions reduction but others were resisting.

Ian Peters, director of external affairs at the EEF, the engineering employers group, said: "If we were to aim for the [government's own] targets, then clearly that would put UK manufacturing at a severe disadvantage compared with European businesses. Our concern is that British manufacturing is already under enormous pressure." He called for more of the burden of cutting emissions to fall on consumers, transport and other business sectors outside manufacturing. Plans to bring service businesses and small businesses within the scope of emissions trading are under consideration.

But environmental groups called for further reductions of emissions from businesses. Matthew Davis, climate change campaign director for WWF, said: "If you don't put more pressure on business, how do you meet the 2010 targets? It is a bigger challenge [to persuade consumers to cut their emissions] than to get businesses to accept further cuts."

About half of the UK's total emissions are estimated to be created by consumers. But a recent Mori poll found that although most people supported action on climate change, only 12 per cent were in favour of regulations or taxes to encourage people to use energy more efficiently.



There is an awful lot of weather lately that is looking very pesky for the global warmers. "Gaia" must be playing a joke on them. First we had the record cold in Europe and now below we see the latest news from Alaska:

Huge ridges of sea ice brimmed over the Arctic Ocean and crashed onto a Barrow roadway earlier this week, threatening to cut off traffic and knock out power poles in the state's northernmost town. The two massive ice surges, known to Alaska Natives as ivus, were the city's largest in more than a quarter of a century and stunned residents who had never seen large blocks of ice rammed ashore. "It just looked like a big old mountain of ice," said L.A. Leavitt, 19, who left his night-shift job at the city early Tuesday morning to check out the ridges.

Ivus are like frozen tsunamis and crash ashore violently. They've killed hunters in the past and are among the Arctic's most feared natural phenomena. Residents said the northernmost ivu, about 20 feet high and 100 feet long, contained car-sized blocks and left coastal Stevenson Road with only one lane. The ice stopped about 30 feet short of a borough pump station that provides access to Barrow's underground water and sewer system, said North Slope Borough disaster coordinator Rob Elkins. Elkins said strong winds from Russia and eastward currents began pushing pack ice toward Barrow on Saturday. By late Monday night, thick sea ice, which is called multiyear ice and can sometimes grow as thick as 40 feet, had shoved the younger, thinner ice onto shore.

Elkins, who got a 5 a.m. wake-up call from police, said a second ivu on the south side of town came to rest near a smaller coastal road and an empty playground. That ridge stretched about 200 feet. "It was just an amazing sight," said Elkins, a five-year Barrow resident. "It looks like huge stacks of huge ice cubes." The ivus, about two miles apart, had stopped moving by the time Elkins arrived. But the borough quickly called out bulldozers to clear the ice. Elkins also assembled a joint-agency response team, with Inupiaq whaling captains providing traditional knowledge of ice behavior and scientists reading satellite weather, Elkins said.

As winds from the west slowed that afternoon, an army of heavy equipment had cleared the road. Whalers also pointed out that a protective pressure ridge had formed more than a mile offshore. Whaling captain Charlie Hopson, who coordinates oil spill responses in the area, said he could see large blocks of ice churning slowly in the frozen ocean.

For whalers, the approach of multiyear ice presages a good spring season. Whalers need a solid platform of near-shore ice for safer travel and for butchering. "We always want this thing to happen before the whaling season to help get the ice solid and safe to travel on and then we can pick our way out to the lead," Hopson said.

Whaling co-captain Lloyd Leavitt, who attended the response meeting as special assistant to the mayor, said he hadn't seen such a big ivu since 1978. That's when winds peaked at 80 mph and blocks of multiyear ice about 12 feet thick slid ashore like pancakes from a frying pan. "It knocked down all the power poles on the beach front, every last one from the Barrow mechanical building to Browerville," he said.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


4 February, 2006

Paying Airlines to Pollute? (Airbus Offers Money In Lieu of Fuel Efficiency)

Those Oh so virtuous Europeans in the real world.. Post excerpted from Enplaned

Extraordinary article at Flight International in which Airbus concedes Boeing's 777-200LR/300ER has a significant fuel burn advantage over the A340-500/600. But, says Airbus supersalesman (technically Chief Operating Officer - Customers (*), but supersalesman is more descriptive of his role) John Leahy the A340-600 and 777-300ER have:
comparable ranges and seat counts and Rolls-Royce guarantees that maintenance costs for four engines are the same as the twin. I can agree a figure with a customer that reflects the fuel burn delta and run that out over 12 years and pay it to them. But if the 777's fuel burn advantage was to give it greater range, then we'd have to look at [improving the A340].
So first of all there's the interesting statement that Rolls guarantees engine maintenance for four engines (on the A340) will be the same as the two engines on the 777. That could be true, if, say, there's something really differentially expensive about materials on the GE90-115 engine on the 777. That's never been reported, so it seems unlikely. Apart from that it seems highly unlikely that four engines can be maintained in the same number of labor hours as two. That's quite a guarantee.

Move on to the main course. He's saying essentially that yup, the aircraft's got a problem, it burns more fuel, but we'll just give customers the present value of that. There are two issues with that, one money, the other the environment....

The other aspect is the environmental issue, which matters to some of Airbus's better customers, including Lufthansa, one of the home-teams. How seriously does it take the environment? Well, they're German, so of course they take it very seriously indeed, both because the environment is a serious issue in Germany and because, of course, Germans are serious, thorough people.

So in particular, Lufthansa produces a yearly 37-page magazine called Balance: The Lufthansa Journal for Aviation, the Environment and Sustainability (pdf). But that's not all. They also produce yearly something called Balance, Facts and Figures: Key data on environmental care and sustainability at Lufthansa (noch einmals pdf). 70, yes, 70 pages. You can't imagine a single US carrier doing this, but we doubt that makes them any less fuel concious, somehow. You don't need to be an earth-firster to want to save fuel in the airline business these days.

Page 23. Specific fuel consumption: Liters/100 passenger kilometers (for Americans, this is the reverse of how we think of miles/gallon -- here it's gallons (actually liters) per mile (actually kilometers) so lower is better, yeah we think that's bass ackwards too. A340-600 is 4.12(***), not as good as the A340-300 (3.99), but we'd guess that's to do with lower seating density on longer-range A340-600s (in many airlines, A340-300s have been relegated to much shorter routes than they were originally designed for). By the way, a full 25% or more better are the charter/LCC aircraft in the Lufthansa group (like Thomas Cook), which just goes to show that if you really want to be environmentally friendly, you need to give up legroom.

So very seriously environmentally-concerned Lufthansa is polluting the earth something like 10-20% more than it needs to by running A340-600s? How will that look to the deep green German public? Sure, you can make up the cost of the kerosene with money from Airbus, but what about the damage to the earth? Who's going to pay for that? At the very least, Airbus ought to plant a few trees to make amends.

It may sound like we're joking, but we're not, at least not entirely. Environment is a serious issue in Europe. In fact, the European Union is trying to drag the airlines into Europe's emission's trading program (we'll do a separate post on that, but it's a program where a company must buy the right to emit incremental carbon dioxide, which obviously gives them an incentive to emit less CO2). It's a particularly emotional issue in Germany.

Were we running Boeing's sales programs, we'd make sure that everyone in Europe understands the gap Airbus now acknowledges in fuel burn between the two aircraft, and that Airbus intends to, essentially, pay airlines to pollute -- worse than blood money, it's CO2 money. The environmentally pure thing to do, surely (and here we are deeply tongue in cheek) is for Airbus to stop selling the A340 if it can't improve it. Think of global w-a-a-a-r-r-m-i-i-n-g....


"America is addicted to oil"

"The President offered bracing new rhetoric about where he would like to take energy policy in the coming year, but he suggested little more than a bit more money for the same old programs that have failed in the past. In short, it reminds me of the metaphor about 'old wine in new bottles.'

"Regarding the rhetoric, it's odd that the President would complain that America is 'addicted to oil.' Another way of putting it is that American consumers are attracted to the lowest cost sources of energy to meet their energy needs. It's a bit distressing to call that sensible inclination an 'addiction.'

"As far as the new subsidies for coal, wind, solar, nuclear, and ethanol energy are concerned, if those technologies have economic merit, no subsidy is necessary. If they don't, then no subsidy will provide it. Those subsidies have failed to produce economic energy in the past and there is little reason to expect that they will do so in the future.

"Nor is it the government's job to design automobiles. Although government funded R&D projects to redesign the internal combustion engine are nothing new, they have never amounted to anything. For instance, while the Clinton Administration was engaged in a similar undertaking called 'The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles' and producing nothing of consequence, Japanese auto companies -- without significant government help -- were busy designing the hybrid powered engines that are now all the rage within the auto industry. When government ties to pick winners, it usually finds itself stuck with losers and often sets the entire domestic industry back.

"Finally, achieving the President's goal of reducing Middle Eastern oil imports by 75 percent would be economically meaningless. A supply disruption in the Middle East would increase the price of crude everywhere in the world no matter where or how it is produced.

"There is nothing really new in this speech as it pertains to energy except more money for old programs -- the political equivalent of the triumph of hope over experience."



If George W. Bush needs an example of how ethanol can help to reduce dependence on oil imports, he need look no further than Brazil. What Saudi Arabia is to crude oil, Brazil is to ethanol - the environmentally friendly, renewable fuel of which it is the largest producer. Brazil makes the fuel by fermenting and distilling its sugar cane crop, the biggest in the world, and then using the liquid to fuel a rapidly increasing proportion of its transport fleet.

Seven out of 10 of all new cars sold in Brazil are now "flex-fuel" - owners can fill them with either ethanol or petrol. Computer sensors inside the engine then decide what will be the best mix of whatever is in the tank for optimum performance. Finding ethanol is not a problem either - almost all petrol stations have pumps selling pure ethanol, while all regular petrol sold at the pumps is in fact a mix called "gasohol", a blend that contains up to 25 per cent ethanol. Ethanol produces a cleaner burn than petrol, resulting in less pollution and smog.

One downside is that ethanol engines require about 25 per cent more fuel per kilometre than petrol. But in Brazil this is offset by ethanol's lower cost. It typically sells for 50-66 per cent of the price of petrol. The country first turned to ethanol as a substitute for petrol after the oil crises of the 1970s. Its ethanol industry has saved it billions of dollars since then. It is also better for the environment because ethanol consumes carbon dioxide as part of its production cycle. Besides sugar cane, ethanol can be produced from corn, sugar beet, wood chips, grass and organic waste. [But not as economically]

Recent technological developments have overcome many of the disadvantages traditionally associated with ethanol, such as its corrosive effect on tanks and engines. Fuel injection starters and the computer sensors in the flex-fuel engines mean that starting cars in the cold is no longer an issue and the sluggish performance of ethanol-run engines is a thing of the past.

Now Brazil's main challenge is meeting demand. The country aims to double ethanol production by 2013. Already demand is straining supplies between harvests, causing ethanol prices to rise to close to where petrol becomes more cost effective for flex-fuel drivers. But the industry says expanding sugar cane plantations and new ethanol plants will quickly solve the problem.


Global propaganda: "If global warming was real, it makes sense that there would be winners and losers. If the earth warms up, places like Canada and Siberia would be more temperate. There would be more moisture in the air, so deserts would get more rainfall. This presented a real problem to Global Warming's True Believers, so they began torturing the weak 'science' behind global warming to make it seem bad for everybody. Live in a cold climate? Global warming will make it colder. Live in a dry climate? Global warming will make it drier. Live in an area with lots of mosquitos? Global warming will breed more mosquitos! At some point, intelligent people will roll their eyes and realize they are simply listening to propaganda."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


3 February, 2006


Benny Peiser has recently had a correspondence with some of the people at "Nature" magazine over the way their online site ignored an article (by Raper and Braithwaite). in their own magazine about sea-levels NOT rising as much as was once thought and promoted another article (by Church & White) in another journal that said the opposite. Below is a fairly devastating excerpt from one of Benny's emails to "Nature" staffers. Benny points out, among other things, that the alarmist paper even contradicts what the IPCC (the world HQ of the global warming religion) says:

"But let's forget for a moment how this editorial accident happened and why Nature editors selected an alarmist paper on sea level rise for the spotlight instead of an anti-alarmist paper published by Nature on the same day. Is there really "no real contradiction between the two papers in any case," as you claim?

For a start, the paper by Raper and Braithwaite is a fundamental critique of the 2001 IPCC model that assumes "that glaciers melt away completely for any warming rather than approaching a new equilibrium." Instead, the two new models used by Raper and Braithwaite estimate a sea level rise due to the melting of glaciers and icecaps of ~0.05 m by 2100, "about half of previous projections." [Note for those of us who still cannot hack metric: 5 centimetres is about 2 inches -- a tiny rise]

Now, the irony of the latest Nature affair is that the lead-author of the "previous projections" criticised by Raper and Braithwaite, is none other than John Church himself, the star of your news story. Given that Church's IPCC chapter on sea level rise is questioned and his high estimates essentially halved, it does look a bit dodgy to provide him - on the same day that his high estimate is debunked - a platform to announce that his latest finding "matches up nicely with (IPCC) model predictions."

What is more, you didn't even mention that the contentious claims by Church and White are more alarmist than (and in fact contradict) the current IPCC TAR "consensus" which states: "No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected." It will be interesting to monitor whether Nature's media promotion given to a 'consensus-breaking' paper will be able to overturn the 2001 IPCC stance. Perhaps we are even seeing the beginnings of another "hockey stick" controversy. After all, Church and White haven't provided any new sea level data - they've only applied a different statistical method to the same data set, data that previously didn't show any significant acceleration.

In fact, Cabanes et al. (2001) who analysed sea level trends between 1950-1998 suggest that the very limited coverage of historical tide gauges cannot provide a meaningful estimate of the average global sea level rise for the past century. And since most historical tide gauges were located in regions of substantial ocean warming, they suggest that the estimates of 20th century sea level rise from tide gauge records may have been overestimated by a factor of 2.

Finally, a recent paper by Volkov and van Aken (2005; see abstract below) suggests that "the recently reported local trends of sea level are not necessarily related to the global sea level rise, but may be part of interdecadal fluctuations."

These any many other papers confirm the existance of huge uncertainties. What this means is that the jury is still out whether or not there is any significant acceleration of global sea level. Nature editors would be well advised to provide more balanced and a less alarmist coverage of climate change research and debates. But after years of complaints, I'm not holding my breath. Nature's apparent addiction to worst-case scenarios and prophecies of fire and brimestone are difficult to kick".


(New paper in GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 32, 2005 L14611 (2005) by Denis L. Volkov, Hendrik M. van Aken. Abstract only. Note also the lead post on this blog on Feb. 1st below which argued for large paleo-climate events being regional rather than global).

Climate-related change of sea level in the extratropical North Atlantic and North Pacific in 1993-2003


Climate-related change of sea level is one of the most challenging concerns for humankind. Here we present a comparative analysis of the interannual variability of sea level in the extratropical North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans based on the high-accuracy TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and ERS-1/2 measurements from November 1992 to June 2003. We found indications of the interdecadal variability of the sea level in the North Pacific possibly related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and suggested that the observed decadal rise of sea level in the subpolar and eastern North Atlantic may have been related to the interdecadal change. While the North Atlantic subtropical and subpolar gyres decelerated, the opposite occurred in the North Pacific. The year-to-year variations of sea level showed coherence between the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Ni¤o/La Ni¤a and Pacific Decadal Oscillation events and respective gyre-scale changes.


(Below is a summary from CO2 Science Magazine, 1 February 2006 of the Volkov & Aken paper above)

What was done

Noting that satellite altimetry data have shown sea level change to be characterized by an uneven spatial structure, with positive trends in some regions and negative trends in others (Cazenave et al., 2004), the authors constructed maps of Sea Level Anomalies (SLAs) for the extratropical North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans that they obtained from merged Topex/Poseidon-Jason-1+ERS-1/2 altimetry data for the period October 1992 to July 2003, after which they used Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis to identify dominant modes of interannual SLA variability.

What was learned

Volkov and van Aken found that "the spatial patterns of the observed sea level trends in both oceans [were] identical to the spatial patterns of the EOFs-1 of the interannual SLA data," and that "the year-to-year variations of sea level showed coherence between the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Ni¤o/La Ni¤a and Pacific Decadal Oscillation events and respective gyre-scale changes."

What it means

In the words of the two Dutch scientists, "the results of this work suggest that the recently reported local trends of sea level are not necessarily related to the global sea level rise, but may be part of interdecadal fluctuations." This conclusion is reminiscent of the upper-ocean heat content findings of Levitus et al. (2005), who concluded that "phenomena associated with the variability of the 0-700 m global ocean heat content integral for 1956-2003 are characterized by gyre and basin-scale spatial variability and time-scales approximately decadal and longer," which variability, in their words, "is dominated by the reversal of polarity of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in the late-1970s and El Ni¤o phenomana."


Below is a summary of the non-alarmist article that was almost completely ignored by the media:

Manchester scientists studying global warming are predicting a much lower rise in sea levels than previously feared. Researchers say melting glaciers and ice caps will cause just a 0.1m (sic) rise in global sea levels by 2100 - less than half the increase of several earlier predictions. But they show that melting of glacial and mountain areas is accelerating fast leading to flooding and land slides in mountainous regions such as Nepal.

Dr Sarah Raper, a climatologist from MMU's Centre for Aviation Transport and the Environment, said: "Our research predicts a relatively low sea-level rise from glaciers and icecaps, compared with earlier work, but the local effect of accelerated glacier melt is going to be very important and may already be increasing catastrophic damage in the form of glacier lake outbursts in high mountain regions.

The Manchester research, published in the scientific journal Nature, suggests that the slow-down or lower estimate, is due to a greater amount of the world's ice being located at the ice-caps - around « - which because it is slower melting than glaciers, is contributing less water flow into the oceans.

Dr Raper and Dr Roger Braithwaite, a geographer at Manchester University, projected expected future climate statistics to a sophisticated model of glacier mass and volume which accounts for a host of variables including glacier shrinkage. Dr Braithwaite said: "Our analysis should not been seen as diminishing the importance of sea level rise since glaciers and icecaps are only one of the contributors." Glacier and icecap melt is responsible for roughly a third of sea level rise, the main cause being simple water expansion due to temperature rise, known as thermal expansion.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


2 February, 2006


You may walk the countryside and you can even shoot foxes there (so far) but you may not use it for hunting with dogs nor may you travel about it on motorbikes. The recent ban on hunting to hounds is explicable as traditional Leftist class envy -- even though the great majority of those affected are just ordinary country people. But the steady closing of tracks to motorbikes is a direct attack on how lots of working class people like to enjoy the countryside. It shows how captive to the arrogant and dictatorial Greenies the British Labour party now is. They may still claim to represent the working class but that is in reality now history. Below is an email to me from one of the bikers affected that explains exactly what is going on

As things stand in Europe there is a move to amalgamate for the sake of harmonisation and conformity - at least from the politicians point of view, and even there, there is uncertainty. From the layman's point of view, his national identity is being stripped piece by piece, amalgamated into ever increasing ethnic communities with which he is encouraged to accept for fear of racism, but in whose presence he feels discomfort. It's not so much a lack of understanding another's race or religion, it's the single minded exclusion to everything that is indigenous that rankles. "When in Rome . . . " but they want none of that.

The 'PanEuropean' policy exists, but the individual does not. In schools our children are not taught feet and inches - they do not exist. No longer excercise books with measurements of the world on the back cover, yet we buy timber in sheets of 8' x 4' or studding 4" x 2" so many metres long. Our road signs are in miles, yet all government communication of linear distance is in kilometres. We are being dragged in against our will.

The Prime Minister says on TV about the latest policy - "We need to do this . . " When he really means 'Tough - you are going to get this like it or not.' Your copied piece on wind farms is a classic example. The Isle of Lewis will be changed forever more. The native people that stay will tell of how it used to be. Those that listen will disbelieve. Those who lobby against such developments will be black brushed as against the environment; cranks, nutters, unrealistic of the futures needs.

I have personally spent many hours researching events around a Rights of Way subject and lobbying the House of Commons and Lords against certain clauses in a Bill currently proceeding through parliament which is about to extinguish the right to drive or ride a mechanically propelled vehicle along certain lanes in England and Wales. The lanes are historic roads, which once carried carriages and carts, some of which developed into major arterial highways, others dwindled into backwaters, became overgrown, hidden from sight in favour of a parallel route. As such, many disappeared completely, others became downgraded to bridleway (foot, cycle or ridden horse only), and others to footpath status. Since the 1930's these lanes were unthought of and largely forgotten. Then in 1968 County Definitive Maps were to be overhauled and an attempt at updating began. All roads, byways and footpaths were to be reclassified, with special attention to RUPP's (Roads Used as Public Paths) - they were to be reclassifed as BOAT's (Byway Open to All Traffic). These remaining Rights of Way with vehicular status are in a small minority, currently making up just 5% of all other unsurfaced byways, they being footpath & bridleway.

Since 1968 local authorities have had a duty to update and reclassify existing RUPP's within their areas to BOAT, but they have singulary failed to do much about them, other things taking more prominent importance. It was left to a few individuals, and organisations which came into being during the early seventies, to apply for Definitive Map Modification Orders to try and catch up on the reclassification process. The reason for this was the old lanes were being lost bit by bit as downgrading became - for the authorities - the easier option as it saved seeking evidence of vehicular use. The haunts of the few who wished to carry on exploring the historic byways on two wheels, was rapidly shrinking.

In 2000 the Countryside Rights of Way act was passed, and gave local authorities until 2026 to get all their aforementioned reclassifications completed. Some did, most have not. Then in 2003 the shit hit the fan. Reports started to spread about groups of 4 x 4 drivers, hoards of maniacs on trail bikes tearing up the countryside disturbing the peace and quiet, and conflict with other users. Much of this however, was being reported by one specific group - the Ramblers Association. Also with vested interests were property and land owners with land adjacent to, or which had a Right of Way passing through their property. The value of which could be seen to be affected by a route with vehicular status nearby. The Tar Brush was waved around with great vigour and influence. The real culprits, (as there are always some culprits) were a few riders with unlicenced machines tresspassing in woodlands and clay pits, and generally acting irresponsibly, but from the few does the 'glory' spread.

The upshot is, that the fine words spoken by Government Ministers at the turn of the century ensuring the bona-fide responsible groups that the available mileage to them will under no way be jeopardised or compromised, and that they have nothing to fear in the way of loss of their pastime and recreation, have been replaced with clauses in a Bill that expressly prevent any further reclassification of RUPP's to BOAT's, and that the existing applications for DMMO's (Definitive Map Modification Order's) will be curtailed. Not only that - but applications made backdated to April 2005 will be denied. The result is a loss of 62% of available route miles, from 5% of the network - to 1.8% - this - after the government had commissioned an independent report a year in the making, that concluded vehicle useage of the routes and byways was perfectly sustainable as was, and that over seventy percent of damage where caused was done by forestry operations and agriculture - it's the recreational user on two and four wheels that gets the chop.

Is it any big deal? Well, to majority of people certainly not. But if you are actively engaged in a hobby through which you get huge amounts of pleasure, and seldom meet any confrontational situations, it makes you wonder where any democratic voice may rest. As the Bill proceed through committee stage, amendments are being attached, but they are carefully and legally worded in such a way as to baffle the layman, and to ensure access denied. Will it stop the illegal riding? Of course not. With existing laws almost unenforceable, what's another one!

Such experiences as this load the camel with more straws. Small businesses suffer at the hands of large multinationals. Corner stores and Post offices close. Green grocers disappear, the independent butchers, the hardware-cum-toolshop replaced by a warehouse do-it-all, with assistants who couldn't-care-less. Identity cards with databases of all personal information, biometrics - iris readers - cardless, cashless - 'look into the scope' security devices in your local cafe. Computer chipped engines speed controlled from some central computer via satellite, charging by the foot travelled - sorry Centimetre!. Fines for misdemeanours such as trying to start your car with one number-plate bulb blown (An MoT failure here, therefore an offence) automatically deducted from your bank account within seconds - the on board computer disabling the engine simultaneously.

David Blunkett (cruelly named Dodgy Blindgit) spoke in an interview yesterday about making no compromises about ID cards - they had to be total with a full database of information to meet the security needs of the 21st Century. Currently shelved, I suspect the policy is in the pits for a tweaking prior to further attempts at re-entry subtly disguised as something else. Straws - every one. No wonder Jack feels at home.

Lies, deceit, incompetence and ignorance - weapons of mass control. Sledgehammers and walnuts. In such ways does the moral of the individual suffer. George Orwell's 1984 is but a history book of the last twenty five years. Whistleblowers get silenced.

My background is working class, parents couldn't have afforded further education, so I started my 'Jack of all trades' education on a farm aged 15. A poor mixer, prone to silence and mechanical devices - with the exception of this one. Never before have I communicated with so many people from around the world, and learned the startling fact - everyone gets shat upon from the same quarter - yet they still sit in the same spot year after year. Deckchairs on a crowded beach. Shout out loud - no-one hears.

The galling part about the whole affair is the devious and back tracking way government have gone about their task. Despite assurances of retaining present mileage for 'mechanically propelled vehicles', and despite a voluntary moratorium of applications to re-classify existing RUPP's to BOAT's - as was requested by goverment - they have in essence gone back on their words (not an unfamiliar strategy). It is fuelled by the popular image of kids tearing around field and woods on unlicenced bikes, and crashing through undergrowth destroying all in their path.On occassions this has been seen, and of course remebered well.

In reality, small groups of bikes will poodle along quiet grassy track, across downs and peaks, maybe tacle some fords and mud. Very often unseen, and barely heard - so to many, we only exist as marauding maniacs. Some go in 4x4's with disabled persons to get away from the tarmac and into the hills for a different day out. The Bill has hundreds of amendments currently attached, and is as wes write going through committee. Much of what is available to view via the House of Lords website reveals a complicated web of denial of access for all but possibly the aforementioned disabled, private access, and agriculture.

I personally used to ride the lanes local to me thirty years ago, and have done precious little since, but the whole overpowerful legislative machine just bugs the hell out of me. It's a tool used by the wealthy and selfish to increase the value of property, in the name of environmentalism on a local scale. It's a pushover. The very few trails left are being slashed further

I recently flicked the radio on - and straight away heard 'The Archers' - and an episode about 'illegal' dirt bikers on a Bridleway!! Terrific!

Just goes to show how much influence some have in scuppering the enjoyment of a few. That's national radio to middle Britain being fed a dose of bias. I went into the BBC website and accessed the message board - and sure enough, plenty of hostile comment to one in defence. I chipped in coming over as Farmer Brown - very middle of the road -- leaning on the discrimination by the majority against the minority. Quite enjoyed that. See here


I have received the following email comment on the above from another writer:

"Nice to hear from a like minded soul who is able to express himself so articulately. I can only do about two sentences on the subjects you have commented upon without blithering and speaking in tongues, usually with a lot of F's. I just want to quietly poodle up and down the hills and wild places on my monkey bike taking the odd photo and breathing in the vastness and beauty of our island. The only problem is I am now crapping myself that some spotty faced arrogant copper will be waiting at the end of the track to confiscate my bike. Makes me want to emigrate."


A moderate reply to the doomsters

When researchers scan the global horizon, overfishing, loss of species habitat, nutrient run-off, climate change, and invasive species look to be the biggest threats to the ability of land, oceans, and water to support human well-being. Yet "there is significant reason for hope. We have the tools we need" to chart a course that safeguards the planet's ecological foundation, says Stephen Carpenter, a zoologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "We don't have to accept the doom-and-gloom trends." That's the general take-home message in an assessment of the state of the globe's ecosystems and the impact Earth's ecological condition has on humans.

Thursday, officials released a five-volume coda to the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an ambitious four-year attempt to explore the relationship between the environment and human development. Summary reports of the findings as they affected four international environmental treaties were released last year. These new volumes represent the detailed information that underpins the earlier reports. In the process, it outlines four plausible ways the planet could develop politically, economically, and socially by 2050, and the effect they would have on people and the environment.

The pathways for political and economic development the authors use - ranging from a relatively wide-open global system to a circle-the-wagons, fragmented world - emerged out of discussions with political and business leaders, scientists, and nongovernmental organizations worldwide. The authors then drew on the latest research to estimate the impact of these paths. The assessment was conducted by 1,360 researchers from 95 countries.

By 2050, it estimates that the highly global approach - with liberal trade policies, and concerted efforts to reduce poverty, improve education and public health, yet respond reactively to environmental issues - could yield the lowest population growth and the highest economic growth. But the environmental scorecard would be mixed.

In a fragmented world that focuses largely on security and regional markets and takes a reactive approach to ecological problems, economic growth rates are the lowest and the population is the highest of the four pathways.

Two other paths, which place a greater emphasis on technology and a proactive approach to the environment, yield population growth rates somewhere in the middle, and economic growth rates that may be slow at first, but accelerate with time.

Even under the most environmentally beneficial paths, however, ecological trouble spots are likely to remain - central Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia. In the end, Carpenter says, "there is no optimum approach, no one-size-fits-all. It's all about trade-offs."

To put the planet on a sustainable path, he continues, the report makes clear that people must view Earth's ecosystems as one interlinked system, rather than as fragments. People must begin to actively manage those ecosystems in ways that ensure that they will receive the benefits those ecosystems provide - from blunting the surge from ocean storms and filtering water to feeding a hungry world. Indeed, with efforts now under way to develop worldwide observing systems to monitor the oceans, atmosphere, and land use, technology is moving into place to support such broad management efforts.

Unfortunately, humans have "badly mismanaged" the ecosystems that support them," says Walter Reid, a professor with Stanford University's Institute for the Environment and director of the assessment. "We need to manage for the full range of ecosystem benefits, not just those that pass through markets."

For instance, the report holds that to safeguard the availability of fresh water and encourage its more ecologically prudent use, governments could consider replacing their subsidies with a more market-based pricing system. To ensure that the poor aren't priced out of the system, Carpenter says, one could adapt South Africa's approach. It guarantees a minimum allotment per person. Once the meter ticks beyond that amount, market prices kick in.



Comment from a NASA insider

A nasty little spat has arisen as a result of NASA's leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), speaking out on the Bush Administration's reluctance to begin imposing carbon dioxide restrictions to help slow global warming.

The first salvo by Hansen was fired on October 26, 2004 when, speaking to an audience at Iowa State University, he said, "In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now," referring to pressure he apparently has experienced from the Administration. The issue has now surfaced again after a more recent lecture, and Hansen has said he will ignore NASA's restrictions on him. Those restrictions call for coordinating with NASA's public affairs office, and getting management approval for any of his talks that touch on policy, as opposed to science.

I have some familiarity with these restrictions on government employees, as they were a major reason I resigned from NASA over four years ago. But back then, the shoe was on the other foot. NASA knew I was not supportive of the popular gloom-and-doom theory of global warming, and before any congressional testimony of mine on the subject, I was "reminded" that I could speak on the science, but not on policy matters. Well, it turns out that expert witnesses on this contentious subject are almost always asked by a senator or congressman, "What would you do about policy if you were me?" When the question came, I dutifully dodged it.

I am not sure, but disobeying my superiors would probably have been grounds for dismissal, if they wanted to press the point. In Jim Hansen's case, even if this was theoretically possible, I suspect the political fallout would be enormous, as he as done more than any scientist in the world to impress upon the public's consciousness the potential dangers of global warming. Hansen is a smart, productive public servant that is on a crusade for what he believes in. I understand why he believes as he does -- but I still disagree with his conclusions, both scientific and policy wise.

For example, Hansen has been able to devise a scientific scenario whereby all warming in recent decades can be attributed to mankind. I believe, however, he has ignored possible natural mechanisms, for instance a change in cloudiness during the same period of time. And in the policy area, it would be stupid to not do something now about reducing carbon emissions -- if it were that easy. But I believe that major technological advances are the only way humanity can substantially reduce carbon emissions in this century. And as readers of my previous articles here know, I have argued that only the wealthy countries can afford the R&D to make these advances. So, my conclusion is, we should not shoot ourselves in the economic foot to gain reductions equivalent to only, say, 10% in emissions. While this is also similar to the Bush Administration's position, I have had no influence from them or anyone else the last 20 years to change what I believe on this subject.

If you are concerned about the Administration possibly muting some of its employees' influence in this area (remember, NASA is part of the executive branch), don't despair. Our government heavily funds a marching army of climate scientists -- government, university, and private -- whose funding depends upon manmade global warming remaining a threat. The government agencies, like NASA, that the money flows through also depend upon these issues remaining alive for continued funding. This is not to suggest that there is a conspiracy going on. It's merely to point out that climate scientists aren't always unbiased keepers of truth. The arena of global warming overflows with more strongly held opinions than it does unbiased or scientific truths


CSIRO now warms to that evil coal

Australia's chief scientific organisation has thrown its weight behind the controversial "coal-friendly" technologies favoured by the Howard Government, backing away from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. The CSIRO revealed yesterday that it would boost resources in water, health and energy research, with a focus on developing low-emission projects such as capturing carbon and burying it underground in a process known as sequestration. CSIRO will spend $90million developing new energy and minerals projects, with $50million coming from government funding and $40million from "partnerships" with Australia's resources and power industry. But jobs will be shed from its current workforce of 6500 and cuts will also be made to the organisation's traditional research projects in agriculture and manufacturing.

The shift in research priorities for 2006-07 was blasted yesterday by the federal Opposition and the CSIRO's staff association. "Australia has the world's highest greenhouse emissions percapita but the CSIRO doesn't seem to care about renewable energy research," Labor science spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said.

But CSIRO chief executive Geoff Garrett told The Australian that, "like it or not", industry and consumers remained heavily dependent on coal to fire electricity and that reality was unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. CSIRO deputy chief executive Ron Sandland said: "We can have more impact by focusing our energies more in clean coal."

The new six-country Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is focused on developing cleaner methods of developing power using the world's existing coal resources. The group - the US, Australia, Korea, Japan, India and China - has drawn fire from environmental groups concerned that the countries are ignoring renewable energy sources.

Four or five renewable energy projects will be wound up by CSIRO over the next couple of years in areas such as solar power, biological hydrogen and photo-catalytic water-splitting. CSIRO said it would be proceeding with major new R&D in areas such as solar-thermal technology and was not abandoning the renewables field altogether. But its shift in priorities indicates the organisation is conforming to government policy, which argues that the solution to fighting greenhouse gas lies with developing new technologies designed to capture and store carbon emissions.

Dr Garrett also stared down recent criticism of his organisation's pursuit of partnerships with industry, declaring he would continue to chase external revenue - like that generated by the recent best-selling Total Wellbeing Diet part-funded by Australia's meat and dairy industries. Despite the book's popularity, it created a storm of controversy, with some high-profile nutritionists such as Rosemary Stanton questioning the science behind the eating plan. "We have an internal mantra - partner or perish," Dr Garrett said. "Partnerships are absolutely pivotal to our overall strategy. The key point is making great science and great research accessible to Joe Public."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 February, 2006


Paleo-climate events probably regional rather than global

(New article in press at Quaternary Research)

Abrupt climate change: An alternative view

By Carl Wunsch (Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA)


Hypotheses and inferences concerning the nature of abrupt climate change, exemplified by the Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events, are reviewed. There is little concrete evidence that these events are more than a regional Greenland phenomenon. The partial coherence of ice core d18O and CH4 is a possible exception. Claims, however, of D-O presence in most remote locations cannot be distinguished from the hypothesis that many regions are just exhibiting temporal variability in climate proxies with approximately similar frequency content. Further suggestions that D-O events in Greenland are generated by shifts in the North Atlantic ocean circulation seem highly implausible, given the weak contribution of the high latitude ocean to the meridional flux of heat. A more likely scenario is that changes in the ocean circulation are a consequence of wind shifts. The disappearance of D-O events in the Holocene coincides with the disappearance also of the Laurentide and Fennoscandian ice sheets. It is thus suggested that D-O events are a consequence of interactions of the windfield with the continental ice sheets and that better understanding of the wind field in the glacial periods is the highest priority. Wind fields are capable of great volatility and very rapid global-scale teleconnections, and they are efficient generators of oceanic circulation changes and (more speculatively) of multiple states relative to great ice sheets. Connection of D-O events to the possibility of modern abrupt climate change rests on a very weak chain of assumptions.


The widely-held view of abrupt climate change during the last glacial period, as manifested, particularly, in the so-called Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events, is that they are at least hemispheric, if not global, in extent, and caused by changes in the ocean circulation. A version of the much disseminated curve that stimulated the discussion is shown in Figure 1.

The canonical view that ocean circulation changes were the cause of the abrupt changes seen in Greenland isotope records is widespread (e.g., Schmittner, 2005 and Cruz et al., 2005) and is usually implied even where not explicitly stated. The possibility of abrupt climate change occurring because of the ongoing global warming and its oceanic effects is attracting great attention. For examples of how the hypothesis is influencing the debate about modern global warming, see Broecker, 1997 and Broecker, 2003, or The Guardian, London (2005). Major field programs are underway seeking to see early signs of "collapse" of the North Atlantic circulation, e.g., the UK RAPID Program; see, with some anticipating the shutoff of the Gulf Stream (Schiermeier, 2004).

Given the implications for modern public policy debate, and the use of this interpretation of D-O events for understanding of past climate change, it is worthwhile to re-examine the elements leading to the major conclusions. Underlying the now very large literature of interpretation are several assumptions, assertions and inferences including:

(1) The d18O variations appearing in the record of Figure 1 are a proxy for local temperature changes.

(2) Fluctuations appearing in Greenland reflect climate changes on a hemispheric, and probably global, basis and of large amplitude.

(3) The cause of the D-O events can be traced back to major changes (extending to "shutdown") of the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and perhaps even failure of the Gulf Stream.

(4) Apparent detection of a D-O event signature at a remote location in a proxy implies its local climatic importance.

The purpose of this paper is to briefly re-examine these assumptions and assertions, but with emphasis on lk and lk. A summary of the outcome of the survey is that (1) is in part true; little evidence exists for (2) other than a plausibility argument; and (3) is unlikely to be correct. Inference (4) can only be understood through a quantitative knowledge of controls of local proxies and is briefly likened to the problem of interpreting modern El Ni¤o signals. The paper ends with a discussion of how to move forward.


North Atlantic circulation control

Our focus now changes to the separate issue of the cause (or "trigger") of the rapid changes seen in central Greenland. Consider the widely accepted scenario that Greenland D-O events are a direct consequence of a major shift in the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. Some confusion occurs at the outset because of a failure to specify which elements of that circulation are supposed to generate the climate change (Wunsch, 2002). Often, the focus is on the mass flux associated with the meridional overturning, and the mass flux is indeed central to the dynamics of the ocean. But in terms of the impact on the climate system, it is the oceanic poleward heat flux that has the most immediate consequences for the atmosphere. Alternatively, sea-surface temperatures are most often used to determine how the ocean is affecting the atmospheric state, although these will be in large part a consequence of the heat flux divergence (exchange of enthalpy with the atmosphere).

Figure 10 displays the estimated net meridional transport of heat by the combined ocean-atmosphere system, as well as separate estimates of the oceanic and atmospheric contributions (Wunsch, 2005). A number of features stand out in this figure. First, the oceanic Northern Hemisphere contribution poleward of about 25øN falls very rapidly as heat is transferred to the atmosphere through the intense cyclogenesis in the mid-latitude storm belts, and as the relative oceanic area rapidly diminishes. By 40øN, the oceanic contribution is less than 25% of the atmospheric contribution. Of this 25%, most is in the North Atlantic (e.g., Ganachaud and Wunsch, 2002). The assumption that a fractional change in this comparatively minor contribution to the global heat flux is the prime mover of abrupt climate change is not very appealing, if there is any alternative possibility (one will be proposed below). Furthermore, air mass trajectories circling the globe at high latitudes are in contact with the North Atlantic Ocean for only a very short time compared to the North Pacific, Asia and North America. The oceanic tail may not necessarily be wagging the meteorological dog.

Second, note that within the significant error bars, the "conveyor" (the real "global conveyor" is the combined ocean and atmospheric transport) is nearly indistinguishable from being antisymmetric about the equator. The net oceanic transport is asymmetric about the equator, with the atmospheric contribution compensating within observational error. An overall anti-symmetry, despite the asymmetry of the separate oceanic and atmospheric fluxes, is one of the more remarkable, but rarely noted, elements of the modern climate system. Stone (1978) discusses some of the physical elements controlling the total fluxes.

If this anti-symmetry is maintained as the climate system shifts (assuming the modern antisymmetry is not mere accident), a reduction in the Northern Hemisphere oceanic heat transport would be compensated by a corresponding increase in the atmospheric transport. That is, on a zonally integrated basis, one plausible outcome of a hypothetical "shutdown" of the North Atlantic overturning circulation, with any consequent reduction in oceanic heat transport, is a warmer (and/or wetter) Northern Hemisphere atmosphere rather than a colder one. This argument says nothing at all about a regional atmospheric cooling in the North Atlantic sector, only that should it occur; it would have to be compensated elsewhere so as to maintain the balance of incoming and outgoing radiation. Claims that it is obvious that the North Atlantic sector atmosphere must cool are difficult to sustain (how the tropics, and e.g., its albedo, might shift through all of this, are unspecified in most discussions).

Setting the global problem aside, turn now to the question of how a hypothetical North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation shutdown would occur. The conventional explanation connects it to a strong decrease in surface salinity from melting glacial ice. The hypothesis is that an injection of fresh water would dramatically reduce the meridional overturning circulation (MOC)-that is, the zonally integrated mass flux. An extensive literature (e.g., Manabe and Stouffer, 1999) has collected around this hypothesis and it has been the focus of numerous modeling efforts as well as being presented as "fact" to the public. Despite its intuitive appeal, there are a number of serious difficulties with it. That fresh water injection controls the North Atlantic circulation can be questioned from several points of view. First, existing climate models, which are the main tool that have been used to study the hypothesis, do not have the resolution, either vertical or horizontal, to properly compute the behavior of fresh water and its interaction with the underlying ocean and overlying atmosphere. Models of the modern ocean contain special, high resolution subcomponents designed to calculate mixed layer behavior (e.g., Price et al., 1986 and Large et al., 1994). Despite the great effort that has gone into them, systematic errors in calculating mixed layer properties remain. How these errors would accumulate in climate-scale models, with much less resolution is unknown. Second, some models also use a physically inappropriate surface boundary condition for salinity, leading to serious questions about the physical reality of the resulting flows (Huang, 1993).

Third, the models have almost always been run with fixed diffusion coefficients. A series of papers (Munk and Wunsch, 1998, Huang, 1993, Nilsson et al., 2003 and Wunsch and Ferrari, 2004) have noted that, (a) mixing coefficients have a profound influence on the circulation; (b) fixed mixing coefficients as the climate system shifts and/or as fresh water is added are very unlikely to be correct; (c) depending upon exactly how the mixing coefficients are modified, fresh water additions can actually increase the North Atlantic mass circulation (Nilsson et al., 2003). Finally (d), the prime mover of the ocean circulation, including its mixing coefficients as well as providing the major direct input of energy (Wunsch and Ferrari, 2004), is the wind. If one wishes to change the ocean circulation efficiently and very rapidly, all existing theory points to the wind field as the primary mechanism. Scenarios that postulate shifts in the ocean circulation leading to major climate changes (e.g., D-O events) imply important changes in the overlying wind field in response, with a consequent feedback (positive or negative). It is extremely difficult to evaluate proposals that the climate shifted owing to a "shutdown" of the MOC if no account is taken of how the overlying atmospheric winds would have responded. In any event, much of the temperature flux of the modern North Atlantic is carried in the Gulf Stream; scenarios requiring wind shifts sufficient to shut it down are likely a physical impossibility because of the need to conserve angular momentum in the atmosphere. Apparent correlations of the Greenland ?18O shifts with possible corresponding events in North Atlantic deep-sea cores (e.g., Bond et al., 1993) are rationalized most directly as reflecting oceanic circulation changes induced by moderate, acceptable, changing wind stress fields.

Coupled models that have been claimed to show atmospheric response to oceanic mass flux shifts do not themselves resolve the major property transport pathways of either ocean or atmosphere. Some of these models are of the "box" form, with as few as four parameters. More sophisticated models are commonly described as "intermediate complexity" ones; despite the label, they still lack adequate resolution and dynamical and physical components required for true realism. Little evidence exists that such simplified representations of the climate system can be integrated skillfully over the long periods required to describe true climatic time scales as both systematic and random errors accumulate.1 Whether dynamical thresholds in oversimplified models correspond to those in the enormously higher dimension real system also remains unproven. Combined with the resolution issue, one concludes that as yet, modeling studies neither support nor undermine the canonical scenario. They remain primarily as indicators of processes that can be operating, but with no evidence that they dominate.

Furthermore, there is no known simple relationship between the zonally integrated overturning stream function defining the MOC, and either the heat flux or the sea surface temperatures. Even if the MOC did weaken, there is no logical chain leading to the inference that the sea-surface temperatures must be reduced (although in some models, they are reduced).

Much of the evidence for "shutdown" deals with elements of the circulation that do not directly imply anything about shifts in heat flux or sea-surface temperature. Some of the inference concerns the net export of properties from the North Atlantic (e.g., Yu et al., 1996 for protactinium). But in the modern system (e.g., Ganachaud and Wunsch, 2002), estimation of the mean meridional property transport depends upon the property (temperature, oxygen, etc.) and the ability to calculate the integral of velocity times property concentration as a function of longitude and depth across the entire ocean basin. That is the net meridional property flux is,

Other evidence (e.g., Boyle, 1995 and Curry and Oppo, 2005) strongly supports the inference that the high latitude distribution of water masses has shifted through time-unsurprising in an ocean with a radically different overlying atmospheric state. The simplest, and widely accepted, interpretation of much of the data is, for example, that during the Last Glacial Maximum, the equivalent of North Atlantic Deep Water shifted upward in the water column. Displacement of a water mass and a change in its defining properties carries no information about changes in either its mass flux or temperature transport properties: they could separately or together increase, decrease or remain unchanged. Indeed, the export of some properties could increase and some simultaneously decrease, without any contradiction. If, as is widely believed, the North Atlantic Deep Water migrated upwards, its southward cold temperature transport could actually have increased if its mass flux increased correspondingly (no evidence exists one way or the other). Furthermore, because HC involves an integral over the entire water column, one also needs to understand the changes in properties and mass fluxes of all of the water masses making up the North Atlantic. Specific attention (e.g., Wunsch, 2003b) is called to the question of whether the southern component waters, with their extreme properties, were not more actively present in the North Atlantic during this time, probably because of an intensified, not a weakened, circulation. One cannot calculate oceanic heat fluxes without specifying a complete oceanic cross-section mass flux and temperature distribution.2

Postulate, however, that the scenario of a weakened MOC requires a reduced air/sea transfer of heat in the North Atlantic. What will the atmosphere do? The net outgoing radiation must balance the incoming, and so compensation for a reduced ocean heat transport must occur. It can occur by increasing the ocean heat transport somewhere else (the North Pacific?) with consequent changes in atmospheric circulation, or by having the atmosphere compensate, as it seems to be doing in Figure 10, or by quite different changes elsewhere (increased tropical albedo, for example). Will the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere warm on average? It seems foolhardy to speculate further at this time. What does seem clear is that the hypothesis of a reduced North Atlantic MOC produces at best a regional story, one whose global implications have to be determined using convincing global data and models.



The observational record supports at least one alternate interpretation of the D-O events as being primarily a central Greenland phenomenon, dependent for their existence upon the Laurentide and Fennoscandian ice sheets. A possible exception to this inference lies with the methane record of the Greenland ice cores, but the interpretation rests upon the sketchy knowledge of the behavior of glacial-period methane source and sink distributions. The primarily local interpretation implicates the wind field as the central element by which central Greenland temperatures change abruptly, and the mechanism by which larger-scale signatures would be carried to distant locations, including those induced by ocean circulation shifts under the changing wind system. Given the comparatively small contribution of the ocean to the high-latitude meridional flux of heat, it seems an unlikely primary stimulus of major climate shifts beyond the North Atlantic basin. It can readily operate as an integrator and as a transmitter of signals, but that is a different role.

Like the widely accepted view, this reinterpretation has not been demonstrated. But maintenance of an open mind is important when the data are so ambiguous. Several steps can be taken to reduce the uncertainty about how the D-O events were generated and manifested. The most important parameters, wind-direction and speed through time, may be beyond reach of the proxy record. But perhaps the search for such proxies will be rewarded (dust, sand dunes, pollen distributions). The question of the spatial extent and intensity of D-O events can be addressed by continuing efforts to reduce age model uncertainties. Existing oceanic 14C dates have an typical uncertainty of ñ300 yr, with a multi-valued structure, through much of this period-sufficiently wide that great freedom is available in adjusting records to apparently coincide. Interpretation of the methane signature in ice cores would be greatly strengthened by better understanding of how, and how rapidly, wetlands evolve under glacial conditions, and particularly with an ability to distinguish low and high latitude sources. Other gases detectable in ice cores (e.g., N20; see Fliikiger et al., 2004) might, if there is adequate knowledge of the changing source/sink distributions, shed light on the spatial extent question. The presence in other proxies of signals, perhaps convincingly, corresponding to remote manifestations of D-O events needs, however, to be interpreted very cautiously as they may be no more than measurable signals not corresponding to important local climate shifts: the analogy is drawn with remote detectability of modern Los Ni¤os (one might detect El Ni¤o signals over central Asia; they may not be of any importance).

Modeling efforts, with sufficient spatial resolution to respond to shifts in the ice orography, and to produce realistic feedbacks as begun by Jackson (2000) and Roe and Lindzen (2001), would be very informative. If interactions do not produce atmospheric flows exhibiting sustained multiple state shifts in the hemispheric standing wave patterns, then the hypothesis proposed here would be less attractive. Existing models are unlikely to have adequate skill when integrated over the thousands of years required to understand D-O type events, given the propensity, as the duration of the computation increases, of all models to accumulate random and systematic errors.

Finally, a better understanding of how the global ocean and atmosphere conspire to maintain outgoing radiation sufficient to balance the incoming component would be very helpful in understanding how the coupled system actually behaves.


Prof. Brignell's comments on the latest pack of official British lies are reproduced below

Some people get upset when you use the L word. They find it unduly provocative and therefore counterproductive. But what other word is there for the creation of an elaborate structure of deliberate falsehoods and exaggerations designed to bamboozle the public into a baseless panic? The British Government has issued a "new" report. It was described across the media as more bad news about global warming: yet it was recycled from something that got full blown coverage last year. Number Watch covered it in a piece entitled A tale of two conferences. Your bending author paid to attend one conference out of his meagre pension, including the rail fare and a modest buffet, but the galling aspect is that he also paid for the other through extortionate taxes, covering elaborate banquets and all the other benefits of a Government sponsored jamboree. Benny Peiser bravely attended both and gave us his depressing account of the second.

This recycling a year after the event is a typical ploy by the Green establishment, but you have to hand it to them. They never miss a trick. We have seen them take over international organisations, media outlets (including the once fiercely independent BBC) and major scientific journals, such as the once great Nature. But who would have given them a chance of taking over the British Conservative Party in a bloodless coup? Yet they have done just that! Any bookie would have given you a million to one against only a year ago. Unfortunately, one of the more tragic errors of Margaret Thatcher was to ignore the party in the country. The arrogance that accompanies a large majority was responsible for this, and we can see the same thing happening on the other side now. The best people left, one by one, and the world's most efficient electoral machine was allowed to wither away. The remaining rump were mostly lifeless and incompetent. In their panic they bought a pig in a poke, with the result that they lost control of their party to a faction (the Green Toffs) that was an offence to everything in which they believed. The new leadership demands absolute loyalty and democracy be damned.

What is not generally known is that an iron curtain has descended around the Conservative Party. All debate is suppressed. Would-be candidates who have given their all to the cause are told "If you are white, male and middle class, forget it!" Not only policy, but party procedures are handed down from on high. MPs, MEPs and ministers stay silent, in fear for their jobs.

All this is, of course, rather unnerving for the Great Leader. He chose to ride the Green tiger and, despite all his prevarication, is having to face up to the consequences, such as the disastrous energy policy that has opened him to blackmail by the ex-KGB man in the Kremlin.

Yet the Government have decided to issue a report on the basis of that year-old conference, whose outcome was decided before it even opened. It recycles many of the ludicrous extrapolations that were already fully covered a year ago. The people who cannot tell us what the weather is going to be next week can predict sea levels in a thousand years time. And not, of course, one mention of water vapour, the only important greenhouse gas.

Why do they do it? The answer was of course given to us by that great seer H L Mencken, quoted here only last month:

The art of practical politics is to keep the public in a state of constant alarm by menacing it with hobgoblins, both real and imagined, - so making people clamorous to be led to safety.


Below is the BBC promotion for the report discussed above by Brignell. But it sadly notes that the UK government has recently changed course and no longer buys the panic scenario

Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases may have more serious impacts than previously believed, a major new scientific report has said. The report, published by the UK government, says there is only a small chance of greenhouse gas emissions being kept below "dangerous" levels. It fears the Greenland ice sheet is likely to melt, leading sea levels to rise by seven metres over 1,000 years. The poorest countries will be most vulnerable to these effects, it adds. The report, "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change", collates evidence presented by scientists at a conference hosted by the UK Meteorological Office in February 2005.

The conference set two principal objectives: to ask what level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is too much, and what are the options for avoiding such levels? Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said the report's conclusions would be a shock to many people. "The thing that is perhaps not so familiar to members of the public... is this notion that we could come to a tipping point where change could be irreversible," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "We're not talking about it happening over five minutes, of course, maybe over a thousand years, but it's the irreversibility that I think brings it home to people."

One collection of scientific papers sets out the impacts associated with various levels of temperature increase. "Above a one degree Celsius increase, risks increase significantly, often rapidly for vulnerable ecosystems and species," concludes Bill Hare from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research in Germany, who produced an overview of more than 70 studies of impacts on water resources, agriculture and wildlife. "In the one to two degree range, risks across the board increase significantly, and at a regional level are often substantial," he writes. "Above two degrees the risks increase very substantially, involving potentially large numbers of extinctions or even ecosystem collapses, major increases in hunger and water shortage risks as well as socio-economic damages, particularly in developing countries."

The European Union has adopted a target of preventing a rise in global average temperature of more than two Celsius. That, according to the report, might be too high, with two degrees perhaps being enough to trigger melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This would have a major impact on sea levels globally, though it would take up to 1,000 years to see the full predicted rise of seven metres. The western half of the much larger Antarctic ice sheet is also causing concern to the British Antarctic Survey, whose head Chris Rapley describes it as a "sleeping giant". Previous assessments had concluded the ice here was unlikely to melt in significant amounts in the foreseeable future; but Professor Rapley says that question needs revisiting in the light of new evidence.

A key task undertaken by some scientists contributing to the report was to calculate which greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere would be enough to cause these "dangerous" temperature increases. Currently, the atmosphere contains about 380 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, compared to levels before the industrial revolution of about 275ppm. "For achieving the two Celsius target with a probability of more than 60%, greenhouse gas concentrations need to be stabilised at 450 ppm CO2-equivalent or below," conclude Michel den Elzen from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Malte Meinshausen of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. "A stabilisation at 450 ppm CO2-equivalent requires global emissions to peak around 2015, followed by substantial overall reductions in the order of 30%-40% compared to 1990 levels in 2050."

But, speaking on Today, the UK government's chief scientific advisor Sir David King said that is unlikely to happen. "We're going to be at 400 parts per million in 10 years time, I predict that without any delight in saying it," he said. "But no country is going to turn off a power station which is providing much-desired energy for its population to tackle this problem - we have to accept that. "To aim for 450 (ppm) would, I am afraid, seem unfeasible."

A rise of two Celsius, researchers conclude, will be enough to cause:

* Decreasing crop yields in the developing and developed world
* Tripling of poor harvests in Europe and Russia
* Large-scale displacement of people in north Africa from desertification
* Up to 2.8bn people at risk of water shortage
* 97% loss of coral reefs
* Total loss of summer Arctic sea ice causing extinction of the polar bear and the walrus
* Spread of malaria in Africa and north America

But Miles Allen, a lecturer on atmospheric physics at Oxford University, said assessing a "safe level" of CO2 in the atmosphere was "a bit like asking a doctor what's a safe number of cigarettes to smoke per day". "There isn't one but at the same time people do smoke and live until they're 90," he told Today. "It's one of those difficult areas where we're talking about changing degrees of risk rather than a very definite number after which we can say with absolute certainty that certain things will happen."

More here


Including that NASA guy. For someone who was gagged, he is pretty talkative. See below. Extreme assumptions (I was going to highlight all the "ifs" in red but it looked too big a job) all round, of course. Note that their assumptions concerning the Gulf stream are contradicted by the article leading today's posts on this blog.

There is a skeptical Early-English saying still sometimes heard today that is very relevant to the prophecies of doom below: "If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there'd be no room for tinkers". In Middle English and Early New English, "an" was a synonym for "if" (Cognate with the German "wenn"). A tinker, of course, used to repair pots and pans. But you would not find that out from a modern literary education, of course. Only specialist linguists and old guys like me now know that stuff.

"Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend. This "tipping point" scenario has begun to consume many prominent researchers in the United States and abroad, because the answer could determine how drastically countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. While scientists remain uncertain when such a point might occur, many say it is urgent that policymakers cut global carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of changes that would be irreversible.

There are three specific events that these scientists describe as especially worrisome and potentially imminent, although the time frames are a matter of dispute: widespread coral bleaching that could damage the world's fisheries within three decades; dramatic sea level rise by the end of the century that would take tens of thousands of years to reverse; and, within 200 years, a shutdown of the ocean current that moderates temperatures in northern Europe.

The debate has been intensifying because Earth is warming much faster than some researchers had predicted. James E. Hansen, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, last week confirmed that 2005 was the warmest year on record, surpassing 1998. Earth's average temperature has risen nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, he noted, and another increase of about 4 degrees over the next century would "imply changes that constitute practically a different planet." "It's not something you can adapt to," Hansen said in an interview. "We can't let it go on another 10 years like this. We've got to do something."

Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer, who also advises the advocacy group Environmental Defense, said one of the greatest dangers lies in the disintegration of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets, which together hold about 20 percent of the fresh water on the planet. If either of the two sheets disintegrates, sea level could rise nearly 20 feet in the course of a couple of centuries, swamping the southern third of Florida and Manhattan up to the middle of Greenwich Village.

While both the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets as a whole are gaining some mass in their cold interiors because of increasing snowfall, they are losing ice along their peripheries. That indicates that scientists may have underestimated the rate of disintegration they face in the future, Oppenheimer said. Greenland's current net ice loss is equivalent to an annual 0.008 inch sea level rise. The effects of the collapse of either ice sheet would be "huge," Oppenheimer said. "Once you lost one of these ice sheets, there's really no putting it back for thousands of years, if ever."

Last year, the British government sponsored a scientific symposium on "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change," which examined a number of possible tipping points. A book based on that conference, due to be published Tuesday, suggests that disintegration of the two ice sheets becomes more likely if average temperatures rise by more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit, a prospect "well within the range of climate change projections for this century."

The report concludes that a temperature rise of just 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit "is likely to lead to extensive coral bleaching," destroying critical fish nurseries in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Too-warm sea temperatures stress corals, causing them to expel symbiotic micro-algae that live in their tissues and provide them with food, and thus making the reefs appear bleached. Bleaching that lasts longer than a week can kill corals. This fall there was widespread bleaching from Texas to Trinidad that killed broad swaths of corals, in part because ocean temperatures were 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average monthly maximums.

Many scientists are also worried about a possible collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, a current that brings warm surface water to northern Europe and returns cold, deep-ocean water south. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who directs Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, has run multiple computer models to determine when climate change could disrupt this "conveyor belt," which, according to one study, is already slower than it was 30 years ago. According to these simulations, there is a 50 percent chance the current will collapse within 200 years.

Some scientists, including President Bush's chief science adviser, John H. Marburger III, emphasize there is still much uncertainty about when abrupt global warming might occur. "There's no agreement on what it is that constitutes a dangerous climate change," said Marburger, adding that the U.S. government spends $2 billion a year on researching this and other climate change questions. "We know things like this are possible, but we don't have enough information to quantify the level of risk."

This tipping point debate has stirred controversy within the administration; Hansen said senior political appointees are trying to block him from sharing his views publicly. When Hansen posted data on the Internet in the fall suggesting that 2005 could be the warmest year on record, NASA officials ordered Hansen to withdraw the information because he had not had it screened by the administration in advance, according to a Goddard scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity. More recently, NASA officials tried to discourage a reporter from interviewing Hansen for this article and later insisted he could speak on the record only if an agency spokeswoman listened in on the conversation. "They're trying to control what's getting out to the public," Hansen said, adding that many of his colleagues are afraid to talk about the issue. "They're not willing to say much, because they've been pressured and they're afraid they'll get into trouble."

But Mary L. Cleave, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Office of Earth Science, said the agency insists on monitoring interviews with scientists to ensure they are not misquoted. "People could see it as a constraint," Cleave said. "As a manager, I might see it as protection."

John R. Christy, director of the Earth Science System Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said it is possible increased warming will be offset by other factors, such as increased cloudiness that would reflect more sunlight. "Whatever happens, we will adapt to it," Christy said.

Scientists who read the history of Earth's climate in ancient sediments, ice cores and fossils find clear signs that it has shifted abruptly in the past on a scale that could prove disastrous for modern society. Peter B. deMenocal, an associate professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said that about 8,200 years ago, a very sudden cooling shut down the Atlantic conveyor belt. As a result, the land temperature in Greenland dropped more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit within a decade or two. "It's not this abstract notion that happens over millions of years," deMenocal said. "The magnitude of what we're talking about greatly, greatly exceeds anything we've withstood in human history."

These kinds of concerns have spurred some governments to make major cuts in the carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming. Britain has slashed its emissions by 14 percent, compared with 1990 levels, and aims to reduce them by 60 percent by 2050. Some European countries, however, are lagging well behind their targets under the international Kyoto climate treaty.

David Warrilow, who heads science policy on climate change for Britain's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that while the science remains unsettled, his government has decided to take a precautionary approach. He compared consuming massive amounts of fossil fuels to the strategy of the Titanic's crew, who were unable to avoid an iceberg because they were speeding across the Atlantic in hopes of breaking a record. "We know there are icebergs out there, but at the moment we're accelerating toward the tipping point," Warrilow said in an interview. "This is silly. We should be doing the opposite, slowing down whilst we build up our knowledge base."

The Bush administration espouses a different approach. Marburger said that though everyone agrees carbon dioxide emissions should decline, the United States prefers to promote cleaner technology rather than impose mandatory greenhouse gas limits. "The U.S. is the world leader in doing something on climate change because of its actions on changing technology," he said.

Stanford University climatologist Stephen H. Schneider, who is helping oversee a major international assessment of how climate change could expose humans and the environment to new vulnerabilities, said countries respond differently to the global warming issue in part because they are affected differently by it. The small island nation of Kiribati is made up of 33 small atolls, none of which is more than 6.5 feet above the South Pacific, and it is only a matter of time before the entire country is submerged by the rising sea. "For Kiribati, the tipping point has already occurred," Schneider said. "As far as they're concerned, it's tipped, but they have no economic clout in the world."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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