The Week That Was
January 26, 2002

The Week That Was Jan 26, 2002 brought to you by SEPP

1. ENRON AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: The inside story (New on the Web).





The inside story of how Enron CEO Ken Lay tried to ensnare George Bush to adopt mandatory limits on the emission of carbon dioxide from the nation's power plants. Gordon Prather gives the background and tells how it was all started by Clinton-Gore-Browner; he explains why such a scheme would have led to huge profits for Enron. Bob Novak relates how Ken Lay and Tim Wirth (former Under Secretary of State) managed to get Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund, together with Candidate George Bush to convince him the CO2 caps were a great idea. (For Enron and other companies involved with the Heinz Foundation and the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, perhaps, but not for the American consumer.) Finally, Patrice Hill writes in the Washington Times how the Enron scheme was scotched and a lesson learned: Money may get you access, but not results.

2. A press release from the Competitive Enterprise Institute warns that bankrupt Global Warming policies are still alive.

Many members of Congress are criticizing the Bush Administration for not having tried to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs and pensions when Enron Corp. collapsed last month. Dispute is nearly nonexistent among economists, however, that far more jobs would be lost if Enron ever achieved one of it its main political goals--limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

A recently revealed Enron memo asserted that the Kyoto global warming treaty and ensuing limits on fossil fuel energy use would do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States. It was also reported today that Enron lobbied both the Clinton and Bush Administrations frequently and vigorously to cut carbon dioxide emissions under cover of a market mechanism, i.e., an emissions trading program.

As a natural gas producer, gas pipeline owner, wind power generator, and energy trading middleman, Enron knew that it could make huge profits from government programs to cut carbon dioxide emissions, said Myron Ebell, director of global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. But Enron's profits would come at the expense of other industries and consumers. Every economic study that has been done on the various proposals to ration energy has shown that the economic losses would be enormous--far larger than those caused by Enron's bankruptcy. Any emissions trading scheme is simply a hidden tax on energy, as a Congressional Budget Office study reported.

Unfortunately, Enron s collapse doesn't mean that these policies have disappeared. Several major corporations joined Enron to lobby for the same energy rationing schemes because they stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the backs of consumers and taxpayers. These corporations include members of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change's Business Environmental Leadership Council and of the Clean Power Group.


London - Scientists from British Antarctic Survey warn that there is a one in 20 chance of a dramatic rise in world sea levels over the next century due to global warming. The caution comes in to a new risk assessment published on December 28. BAS and the Norwegian environmental safety group, Det Norske Veritas, wrote that there was a 5% chance of the giant West Antarctic Ice Sheet disintegrating due to climate change and raising sea levels by 1 meter in the next 100 years.

According to BAS researcher David Vaughan, which group is responsible for British scientific research in Antarctica, scientists have already predicted a rise in sea levels of 50 centimeters over the next century due to a combination of climate change and increased extraction of ground water, even with no contribution from melting Antarctic ice. "So we might be looking at something like one and a half meters in the next century," Vaughan told the Reuters News Agency.

He said the possible breakup of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which accounts for 13% of ice on that continent, had nothing to do with the impact of human industrial activity on the climate, but was part of a far older process. But, he said, major world polluters could not walk away from the problem. Not only would there be flooding on a potentially vast scale, Vaughan added, but changes in ocean currents could also have untold consequences on weather patterns. Previous calculations have said low-lying countries such as Bangladesh could lose 17% of its land area and as much as half of its farmland if sea levels rose by 1 meter and small island nations could be completely swamped.

SEPP Comment: Notice the hype from Veritas (which means "truth") all speculation and no data lots of "could" words. The data show that Antarctic has cooled and that the ice sheet is growing. So there…

Antarctica overall has cooled measurably during the last 35 years -- despite a global average increase in air temperature of 0.06 degrees Celsius during the 20th century -- making it unique among the Earth's continental landmasses, according to a paper published in the online version of Nature [].

Researchers with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Antarctica's Dry Valleys - a perpetually snow-free, mountainous area adjacent to McMurdo Sound -- argue in the paper that long-term data from weather stations across the continent, coupled with a separate set of measurements from the Dry Valleys, confirm each other and corroborate the continental cooling trend.

"Our 14-year continuous weather station record from the shore of Lake Hoare reveals that seasonally averaged surface air temperature has decreased by 0.7 degrees Celsius per decade," they write. "The temperature decrease is most pronounced in summer and autumn. Continental cooling, especially the seasonality of cooling, poses challenges to models of climate and ecosystem change."

The findings are puzzling because many climate models indicate that the Polar Regions should serve as bellwethers for any global warming trend, responding first and most rapidly to an increase in temperatures. An ice sheet many kilometers thick in places perpetually covers almost all of Antarctica.

Temperature anomalies also exist in Greenland, the largest ice sheet in the Northern Hemisphere, with cooling in the interior concurrent with warming at the coast.

Peter Doran, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, the lead author of the paper, and his co-authors, acknowledge that other studies conducted in Antarctica have deduced a warming trend elsewhere in the continent. But they note that the data indicate that the warming occurred between 1958 and 1978. They also note that the previous claims that Antarctic is warming may have been skewed because the measurements were taken largely on the Antarctic Peninsula, which extends northwards toward South America. The Peninsula itself is warming dramatically, the authors note, and there are many more weather stations on the Peninsula than elsewhere on the continent.

Averaging the temperature readings from the more numerous stations on the Peninsula has led to the misleading conclusion that there is a net warming continent-wide. "Our approach shows that if you remove the Peninsula from the dataset, and look at the spatial trend. The majority of the continent is cooling," said Doran.

He added that documentation of the continental cooling presents a challenge to climate modelers. "Although some do predict areas of cooling, widespread cooling is a bit of a conundrum that the models need to start to account for," he said.


WASHINGTON (AP)- New measurements show the ice in West Antarctica is thickening, reversing earlier estimates that the sheet was melting. Scientists concerned about global warming had worried that higher temperatures could melt the massive ice sheet, causing a rise in sea levels worldwide.

But new flow measurements for the Ross ice streams, using special satellite-based radars, indicate that movement of some of the ice streams has slowed or halted, allowing the ice to thicken, according to a paper in the Jan. 18 issue of the journal Science.

If the thickening is not merely part of some short-term fluctuation, it represents a reversal of the long retreat of the ice, say researchers Ian Joughin of the California Institute of Technology and Slawek Tulaczyk of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Their finding comes less than a week after a separate paper in Nature reported that Antarctica's harsh desert valleys - long considered a bellwether for global climate change - have grown noticeably cooler since the mid-1980s.

Air temperatures recorded continuously over a 14-year period ending in
1999 declined by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the polar deserts and across the White Continent, that paper said. The cooling defies a trend spanning more than 100 years in which average land surface temperatures have increased worldwide by about 1 degree Fahrenheit. The scientists said Antarctica is the only continent that is cooling. They could not say why.

In their paper, Joughin and Tulaczyk suggest the West Antarctic ice streams may be undergoing the same transition from shrinking to growing that appears to have occurred on a neighboring stream 150 years ago. The results, they add, suggest a reduced possibility of the feared massive collapse of the ice field.

"Perhaps, after 10,000 years of retreat from the ice-age maximum, researchers turned on their instruments just in time to catch the stabilization or re-advance of the ice sheet," Richard B. Alley of Pennsylvania State University, wrote in a commentary accompanying the Science paper.

But he warned that coastal property owners should not become too optimistic about the findings, since the instrumental record is short and coastal ice streams have changed periodically over the centuries.



Australian Greens attack the arguments in papers by the Lavoisier Group:

There is no evidence of global warming.

If there is evidence of global warming, then warming is not due to human activity.

If global warming is occurring and it is due to human activity, then it is not going to be damaging.

If global warming is occurring, it is due to human activity and it is going to be damaging, then the costs of avoiding it will be too high, so we should do nothing dramatic.

The Greens conclude: It is impossible to have a rational discussion with people like this for they are immune to evidence and argument.

But the Lavoisier Group happens to be right on all counts!



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