The Week That Was
May 4, 2002

1. BOB WATSON IS OUT AS IPCC CHAIRMAN; PACHAURI IS IN. Paul Georgia recounts some of Watson's manipulations that got him into trouble with the White House.


3. CLIMATE CHANGE IS POLITICAL 'SCIENCE': Global warming projections used to justify the Kyoto Protocol are based on fictional 'storylines' that have much more to do with politics than research







2. Maintaining the climate consensus
Nature 416, 771 (2002)
The election of a new chair for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has left wounds that the victor must heal.

The circumstances under which the Indian energy economist Rajendra Pachauri won the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are not auspicious. As soon as he was elected, Pachauri was denounced in The New York Times by former US vice-president Al Gore as "the 'let's drag our feet' candidate". For the new head of the body that is supposed to advise the world's governments on the complexities of global warming, things can only get better.
Previously, consensus had emerged on the IPCC's leadership. But an orchestrated campaign by the US administration and the fossil-fuel lobby forced the vote on 19 April in which Pachauri defeated the incumbent, atmospheric scientist Robert Watson, by 76 votes to 49.

Climate researchers appreciated the way in which Watson defended their findings from politically motivated attacks during his tenure. Many will now be wary of Pachauri, who appears to have tarnished his reputation by collaborating with those whose objective was to ditch Watson.
But Pachauri has the credentials to make a go of his main role, which is to build confidence in the impartiality of the IPCC's advice. His expertise in energy policy and economic development is central to the panel's mission, and his involvement with the oil industry - he is a director of the Indian Oil Corporation - may help to establish more credibility with business interests. And after two leaders from rich nations (Watson's predecessor, meteorologist Bert Bolin, was Swedish) it is good for the IPCC to be run by someone from a developing country.

Pachauri will have to establish his credibility with scientists quickly, however. Researchers give their time to the panel for free, and they need to feel that the chair will back them up. Pachauri must reassure the IPCC's rank and file that he will fend off any attempts to bully the panel into watering down its findings.

He should also be thinking about negotiations on greenhouse-gas emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol from 2013. Talks begin in 2005, two years before the IPCC's next assessment is due. An interim report from the IPCC would inform the negotiations about the latest science. Such a document can only be requested by the panel's member states, but Pachauri should make it clear that his teams are ready and willing to provide it.

3. Climate Change is Political 'Science':
By Prof. Ross McKitrick in the National Post (of Canada) (4/4/02)

The public's concerns about global warming heated up last year after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected that temperatures could increase by "up to" 5.8C over the next century. In 1995, the projected range was only one degree to 3.5C. The stunning rise in the upper-end forecast prompted headlines worldwide to the effect that the world was warming "faster than expected."

Reporters at the time did not ask why the warming projections rose so much. The estimated sensitivity of the climate to changes in the CO2 concentration did not change between the IPCC Report in 1995 and the Third Assessment Report last year. Nor, for that matter, did satellite-borne instruments pick up any distinct warming of the troposphere; the region climate models say will bear the first fingerprints of any CO2-induced warming. So why did the warming forecast jump?

The answer lies with the new scenarios used for the recent report. These are based on fictional "storylines" (the official term) drawn up by an IPCC sub-group in 1996 for the Special Report on Emission Scenarios. The SRES group wrote the scenarios which scientists were asked to analyze. They were specifically instructed not to comment on the likelihood of the scenarios but to treat them all as equally probable.

To fix the range of reasonable emission scenarios, examine the graph. Since 1970, global CO2 emissions per capita have been remarkably constant at about 1.14 (metric tons of carbon equivalent) per person per year. Emissions per capita are higher in industrialized countries than in poor countries. Income growth generates two offsetting effects. As poor countries grow rich they produce more CO2 per person, but they also get more efficient in their energy use. These effects seem to cancel, leaving the global average remarkably constant over the past three decades.

A few weeks ago, the UN released its latest population growth forecasts. The world population over the coming century is now expected to reach just over nine billion souls by the middle of this century. Depending on fertility trends, it could peak out at or around this level. So we can construct a simple CO2 emissions scenario for the next century. If global emissions per capita remain at 1.14 tons, and population peaks at 10 billion in 2050, total emissions will rise from the current level of about 6.7 billion tons to about 11.4 billion tons, and then decline through the latter half of the century. If emissions per capita were to increase to, say, 1.2 or 1.3 tons per person, the peak could be 12 or 13 billion tons. Or if energy efficiency improvements accelerate, the peak may be lower: maybe 8 to 10 billion tons. But we could reasonably expect a peak emissions rate of about 9 billion to 12 billion tons sometime in the middle of the coming century.

By comparison, the SRES report instructed modelers to assume peak 21st century global emission levels from a low of 11.7 billion tons to a high of (get this) 29 billion tons. The "up to 6 degrees" warming forecast follows directly from feeding this range of emissions into climate models.

This range is based on a family of emission projections. The "B1" scenario projects emissions growing to 11.7 billion tons mid-century, and then slowly declining thereafter. The "A1FI" scenario projects emissions rising to an astonishing 24 billion tons by 2050, and rising further to almost 29 billion tons through the rest of the century. That would imply global per capita emissions somehow triple in the next few decades! The fantastic increase in wealth and consumption around the world needed to accomplish this would, in any other context, be considered a dream come true.

The biggest source of CO2 emissions is coal use. The scenarios were dated to begin at 1990, and consumption levels were guesstimated at 10-year intervals. Over the 1990s coal consumption was projected to grow by a minimum of 4% (in the B1 scenario) to a maximum of 31% (in A1FI). The final model simulations for the Third Assessment Report were done in 2000, so it would have been easy to verify these assumptions against data available from the International Energy Agency. Those data show that actual global coal consumption fell by over 10% during the 1990s. Yet none of the scenarios were revised downwards to reflect this fact. The projected increase in coal use for the three decades from 2000 to 2030 ranges from a low of 50% (B1) to a high of 160% (A1FI). By comparison, actual world coal consumption grew only 40% in the three decades from 1970 to 1999. Again, none of the scenarios were revised to bring projections into line with past trends.

So the world could warm up to six degrees this century. It is equally true that pigs can fly up to six miles a day.

The A1FI scenario was not included in the draft report released in November 1999 for expert review. The projected warming range at that point was 1.5C to 4C, virtually the same as five years previous. But the final draft released in October 2000 included the new A1FI scenario run on a set of models with a wider range of (assumed) climate sensitivities, yielding a new warming range of 1.4C to 5.8C. The upper end of the warming forecasts rose almost two degrees in 11 months, not by any change in the science but by inclusion of an extreme emissions scenario.

One of the experts invited to review the IPCC Report was Vincent Gray, a Climatologists in New Zealand. When he saw the final report with its astonishing new upper end, he wrote a letter of protest to fellow New Zealander Martin Manning, vice-chairman of one of the IPCC working groups. Mr. Manning replied to Gray in an e-mail subsequently cc'd throughout the climate research community. He confirmed that: "The higher warming projections that arose towards the end of the TAR process are due to a high fossil fuel emissions scenario rather than changes to climate models." He emphasized that the A1FI scenario was not produced by climate modelers or any of the scientists working on the report but "came from the SRES community and in particular was a response to final government review comments for the SRES." He also emphasized that he and many of his colleagues think the A1FI emissions are "unrealistically high."

It is a curious feature of the IPCC process that the final review stage is not done by scientists but by government bureaucrats. The fact that they could cause the warming range to be bumped up two degrees gives you an idea of how political the report-writing process has become.

If only scenarios in the range of, say, 10 billion tons to 15 billion tons peak annual 21st century emissions were used, the projected warming range would have been 1.5C to 3.5C over the next century. In other words, after five years and US$10-billion worth of research we have the same warming projections as we had in 1995. Why didn't they just say so?

Perhaps because this would have shown that the fundamental uncertainties surrounding climate modeling are not going to get resolved any time soon. And perhaps announcing the same old news wouldn't get the kind of attention the IPCC likes. As political theatre, the announcement of the 5.8-degree warming limit succeeded brilliantly. But as an exercise in science? It's only when people have a wobbly argument that they have to
resort to theatrical stunts.

4. Bush Seeks Support on POPs Treaty:

President Bush plans to ask Congress to support the international treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Bush said last year that he would sign the treaty, a move supported by the chemical industry. Now the administration is formally asking the Senate for ratification and for Congress to approve the legislation required to implement the treaty. The administrations package does not include controversial provisions for adding more chemicals. "The intention is to work with the Congress on the process of adding additional chemicals," an administration official told the Associated Press. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants must be ratified by 50 countries to take effect..


5. Environmental Protection and Trade Agreements:

Members of the Senate Finance Committee are split over whether the Bush administration should move to limit the ability of foreign companies to challenge U.S. environmental standards and other regulatory in future trade agreements. According to Chemical Policy Report, the dispute comes as President Bush is pushing the Senate to grant "fast track" authority for the President to negotiate trade agreements, but signals uncertainty over whether that bill will allow the U.S. government to push for limits on so-called "investor suits." Investor suit provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allow a country to challenge another country's environmental controls, arguing that the rules are a form of expropriating property. Under Chapter 11 of NAFTA, residents or corporations of a signatory country can bring a complaint seeking damages or a reversal in policy to a trade tribunal if they feel their property has been unfairly expropriated by another member country. Environmentalists argue that it allows industries from one country to challenge another country's environmental standards as being barriers to free trade.


6. Russia to Resume Nuclear Shipments

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia will resume shipments of nuclear fuel from Soviet-era weapons to the United States this month for use in U.S. power plants, after months of debate over prices, Russia's nuclear energy minister said.

The shipments are part of a U.S.-funded program aimed at keeping nuclear materials out of terrorists' hands. The Russian fuel accounts for about half the low-enriched uranium used in U.S. nuclear plants.

The program appeared to be in jeopardy after the previous contract for the fuel expired at the end of last year. USEC Inc., the U.S. government-appointed middleman that buys the fuel and resells it to American utility companies, and its Russian counterpart, Tenex, were at loggerheads over prices in the new contract. After protracted negotiations, officials from both countries reached a deal in February.

``We reached a compromise, and as a result, the real supplies will start in April,'' Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev was quoted by the Interfax-Military News Agency as saying. He did not give a specific date. He said Russia would receive about $500 million annually under the new deal. The program has already funded the destruction of 5,600 Soviet-era nuclear warheads. Under the February deal, the price USEC would pay for the nuclear fuel would fluctuate with the markets annually and would be based on a three-year average. USEC had argued that the old, fixed price was too high and too inflexible. The Bethesda, Md.-based company is a former government entity that was privatized in 1998.


7. The New Republic Supports Bush Environment Policy
Howard Kurtz Wash Post, May 1, 2002

What's gotten into the water at the New Republic? First the left-leaning magazine discusses the Democrats on taxes; now it's environmental policy:

"In an April 19 New York Times photo, John Kerry and Paul Wellstone high-five as if they've just won the Super Bowl; various staffers and environmental lobbyists look on, clapping. The victory party was to celebrate last week's defeat of the Bush administration's plan for exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The defeat was happy news for Kerry's presidential prospects, for green fund-raising, and for Democratic political positioning in the 2002 congressional campaign. But it was bad news for the nation.

"On Earth Day this year, it's worth reflecting on the symbiotic, and increasingly pernicious, interaction between the environmental movement and the Democratic Party. The former has grown so adept at raising money by warning of imminent environmental catastrophe that it is losing all sense of proportion; and the latter, eager for environmentalist votes and financial support, has been all too happy to go along.

" To listen to the Democrats--particularly those running for president--is to learn that the environment is in bad shape today and, with the smallest push, could be in disastrous shape tomorrow. . . .
"Fortunately, this alarm is a false one. All forms of pollution in the United States--air, water, and toxic materials--have been declining for decades. Boston Harbor and the Hudson River, along with many other long-polluted bodies of water, show steadily improved quality. . . . And it means that the popular notion that the Bush administration has launched a wide-ranging assault on environmental regulation is simply wrong. . . .

"In other words, the green lobby and their Democratic allies put environmental demagoguery before environmental progress. Excuse us if we don't consider that a reason to celebrate."
We double-checked to make sure this wasn't printed in National Review.


8. British wind farm plans draw derision
(From The Financial Times, 1/4/2002-that's April 1 in the US)

".....Speaking at the launch of the Policy last Thursday, team leader Dr. Heinz Funfzig-Sieben said....." (

Trust you caught the jab in the name: - The Junior Senator from Massachusetts (John Kerry, second only to Algore in pushing alleged Global Warming) is married to the widow of the deceased Senator Heinz from Pennsylvania, and heiress to the pickle fortune. But he probably never will Ketchup.



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