The Week That Was
August 17, 2002

1. AT THIS TIME OF GREAT EXCITEMENT ABOUT "CRAZY WEATHER," LET'S GO BACK 3 YEARS and look at the weather then. Read what we published in 1999 after Hurricane Floyd, the Clinton/Gore reactions, and comments from knowledgeable meteorologists.








2. On BBC, British climate expert disdains global warming

The customary response to most extreme weather is to point the finger at climate change. well-regarded Dr Tim Osborn, a climatologist from the University of East Anglia, told BBC News Online on Aug 13:

"If this had happened in winter, then it might be reasonable to talk about global warming. However, the models suggest that rainfall in summer is likely to remain the same, or perhaps even fall, if climate change continues."

The European Union has now funded a new study to look at the likelihood of more river flooding in the future, but this will not report for some years.


German climate expert Dr. Gerd Weber writes:

The last few days (and weeks for that matter) we witnessed remarkable events in central Europe. We've been hit with some of the worst flooding in ages in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic of the Danube, Elbe river and others, flooding of Prague, Dresden etc. Well, you climate scientists out there, what do you think German climate scientists, environmentalists and politicians claim in unison? Yeah, right! It's of course global warming!

Here's the lead headline of the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung", one of the most respected dailies, from 12 August 2002: "Meteorologists and climate scientists are certain: The greenhouse effect is acting, the climate catastrophe is moving closer." Numerous other papers are chiming in, along with TV and Radio. Next thing you know, environmentalists and politicians (Environment minister Trittin) are demanding an increase of the eco-tax in Germany in order to prevent further flooding. I'm not making any of this up.

This debate is not about science, it is about politics. And science, which is supporting this BS -- and a significant segment of climate science in this country is supporting it -- is corrupt to the core. It is not science, but simply advocacy.

If you look at this flooding in terms of extreme events and analyze extreme precip data in Germany of the last 50 years (max daily amounts, or number of days with precip above a certain threshold), there has been no increase in extreme events. If you further look at monthly precip amounts in summer, separately for June, July and August, no increase, no change, except for a pronounced decrease in variability (less extremes either way) in the last 20 years. Decrease in August though.

But now we have a very wet summer, the first in decades, and here we go.
It has to be global warming, they say.


3. Climate Change Action Plan by New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers

A "Climate Change Action Plan 2001" report, prepared by The Committee on the Environment of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, aims to reduce GH gas emissions to the 1990 level by 2010 and by 75-85% (!) eventually.

While the scientific bases for the recommendations and action plan are superficial, the report is consistent with a strategy to improve energy and resource efficiency, increase penetration of renewables, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. They have addressed adaptive measures (Action item 7) as well as GHG reduction measures. Emissions' trading is covered in Action item 9 and they use language and endorse programs that "encourage the development of markets and implementation of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technologies"

SEPP COMMENT: Lots of fine language there but not one word about what it takes to achieve these emission goals: Energy taxes. We will believe it when they raise state gasoline taxes, starting with one dollar and going up to $5.


4. Politicians try to gain advantage by (mis)using discredited Climate Action Report

In a joint letter of July 17, 2002, the attorneys general (AGs) of Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont urged President Bush to adopt mandatory controls on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas targeted by the Kyoto Protocol, the non-ratified UN global warming treaty. CO2 is the inescapable byproduct of the hydrocarbon fuels that supply 70 percent of U.S. electricity and 84 percent of all U.S. energy. Like the Kyoto Protocol, the AGs demand, in effect, that the United States institute a regime of energy rationing.

Marlo Lewis, Jr., Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy, Competitive Enterprise Institute, explains what is behind the letter:

That these particular AGs should lambaste Bush's energy policies and call for CO2 controls is hardly surprising. The AGs are politicians, and nothing is more ordinary than a politician pursuing partisan advantage. Also quite common is the attempt to use tax and regulatory policy to reward home-state interests and penalize out-of-state competitors. Ten of the eleven AGs are Democrats, and none is a Republican. Ten are from states where all or most electricity comes from fuel sources other than coal. On average, the AG's eleven states generate only 16 percent of their electricity from coal, compared to 59 percent for the rest of the country. CO2 regulation would make coal-generated electricity less (or non-) competitive.

The AGs build their case for energy rationing on Chapter 6 of the Bush Administration's Climate Action Report 2002 (CAR). That chapter presents scary projections of U.S. temperature increases and climate impacts over the next century. The AGs claim the President's refusal to regulate CO2 is "inconsistent" with the Report's "dire findings and conclusions."

There is a massive problem with this line of argument. Chapter 6 of the CAR is a summary of the Clinton-Gore Administration's "U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change" (USNA). Out of 26 available computer models, the USNA picked the Canadian Climate Centre Model and the British Hadley Centre Model. Both are "worst-case" calculators. The Canadian model is the "hottest" or most "sensitive" to "forcing" by greenhouse gases. The UK model is the "wettest," projecting the largest increases in rainfall.

When Virginia State Climatologist Patrick Michaels analyzed those models, he found they are no better at replicating U.S. temperature trends over the past century than a table of random numbers. The climate scenarios on which the AGs build their case for energy rationing are computer-aided storytelling - science fiction, not science. The Bush Administration has stated that the USNA climate scenarios "do not represent government policy" and "are not policy positions or statements of the U.S. Government." Yet the CAR - an official statement of the U.S. Government - incorporates the USNA scenarios.

Rather than embrace energy rationing, the Bush Administration should withdraw the CAR from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and redact it from the public record. Otherwise, it will continue to lend the color of legitimacy to those, like the eleven AGs, who advocate economy-chilling restrictions on energy use.

5, Kyoto lacks a scientific basis (published Aug. 9, 2002)

The economic arguments against the Kyoto Protocol and its mandate to ration the use of energy should be sufficiently persuasive. But Alberta's Premier Ralph Klein and Canadians generally should be made aware also that climate science does not back Kyoto either. The only truly global measurements of temperature, from weather satellites, show no appreciable warming of the Earth's atmosphere -- contrary to all theoretical climate models. This fact is spelled out in a little-quoted report of the US National Academy of Sciences of Jan. 2000. Even if there is a measurable warming in the next 100 years, it is not likely to exceed a global average of 1 degree Celsius and occur mainly in the winter and at night. This hardly spells a calamity for Canada and certainly does not justify committing economic suicide.

Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia,
Former Director of the US Weather Satellite Service


6. Asian Smog Cloud Threatens Millions, Says U.N.

(Reuters) - A two-mile-thick cloud of pollution shrouding southern Asia is threatening the lives of millions of people in the region and could have an impact much further afield, according to a U.N.-sponsored study.

It said the cloud, a toxic cocktail of ash, acids, aerosols and other particles, was damaging agriculture and changing rainfall patterns across the region, which stretches from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka. The lives of millions of people were at risk from drought and flooding as rainfall patterns were radically altered, with dire implications for economic growth and health.

``We have an early warning. We have clear information and we already have some impact. But we need much, much more information,'' U.N Environment Program chief Klaus Toepfer told a news conference. ``There are also global implications not least because a pollution parcel like this, which stretches three km high, can travel half way round the globe in a week.''

Toepfer said the cloud was the result of forest fires, the burning of agricultural wastes, dramatic increases in the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles, industries and power stations and emissions from millions of inefficient cookers. He said the U.N.'s preliminary report into what it dubbed the ``Asian Brown Cloud'' was a timely reminder to the upcoming Earth Summit in Johannesburg that action, not words, was vital to the future of the planet.


Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan, one of the more than 200 scientists involved in the study, said the cloud was cutting the amount of solar energy hitting the earth's surface beneath it by up to 15 percent. ``We had expected a drop in sunlight hitting the earth and sea, but not one of this magnitude,'' he said.

At the same time the cloud's heat-absorbing properties were warming the lower atmosphere considerably, and the combination was altering the winter monsoon, leading to a sharp reduction in rainfall over parts of north-western Asia and a corresponding rise in rainfall over the eastern coast of Asia. The report calculated that the cloud -- 80 percent of which was man-made -- could cut rainfall over northwest Pakistan, Afghanistan, western China and western central Asia by up to 40 percent.

Apart from drastically altering rainfall patterns, the cloud was also making the rain acid, damaging crops and trees, and threatening hundreds of thousands of people with respiratory disease. Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen -- one of the first scientists to identify the causes of the hole in the ozone layer and also involved in the U.N. report -- said up to two million people in India alone were dying each year from atmospheric pollution.

The report called for special monitoring stations to be set up watch the behavior of the cloud and its impact on people and the environment. ``The concern is that the regional and global impacts of the haze are set to intensify over the next 30 years as the population of the Asian region rises to an estimated five billion people,'' the report said.

A spokeswoman for environmental group Friends of the Earth said urgent action was needed. ``Actions must include phasing out fossil fuels and replacing them with clean, green, renewable energy and tough laws to protect the world's forests,'' she said.

SEPP Comments: The lady from FoE is quite wrong, of course. Poor villagers cannot afford fossil fuels and therefore use dirty but renewable biomass fuels like cow dung. The slogan should be: Bring back the Indian monsoon by burning more fossil fuels!

Meanwhile, some Indians blame the failure of the monsoon on global warming, while others blame US warplanes over Afghanistan. The UNEP report on the cause and effects of the "Asian Brown Cloud" puts egg on their faces.


7. Will ultra-clean coal prove commercial?

Australia has reached a milestone in the development of ultra-clean coal with the first bulk sample being sent to Japan for combustion tests. Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, said the Ultra Clean Coal pilot plant at Cessnock in the Hunter Valley, which produced the coal samples, had set a world first for Australia. "The impurities or ash in the bulk sample are less than 0.2 per cent, compared with ash levels typically exceeding 10 per cent in normal export coals. I am not aware of coal with such purity being produced outside of a laboratory."

"Ultra clean coal (UCC) is an environmental breakthrough - near zero ash means cleaner combustion and no solid wastes. Most importantly, it has the potential to achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions," he said. The Commonwealth Government has committed almost $15 million to the construction and operation of the UCC Energy Research Center and pilot plant at Cessnock. This is in addition to the $25 million already spent on UCC technology, including $19.5 million by Whites and the CSIRO's Division of Energy Technology.

The Commonwealth Government has also worked closely with the Japanese Government and industry to establish a program in Japan to trial UCC. The Center for Coal Utilization Japan has arranged for the first bulk samples to undergo combustion tests by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Idemitsu Kosan Company Ltd.

The main application for UCC is a cost-competitive for natural gas in gas-turbine power stations. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions can be cut by a quarter for a combined-cycle gas-turbine power plant running on UCC, compared with normal coal in a coal combustion plant. Over the whole UCC lifecycle, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 10 per cent.

SEPP Comment: A certain amount of skepticism is in order - until we know the dollar cost and energy cost of cleaning the coal.



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