The Week That Was
October 12, 2002

1. NO ENERGY BILL WILL BE BETTER THAN THE PRESENT ONE. It's time to kill H.R.4. In our view it was a big mistake for the White House to push comprehensive energy policy when there is no energy crisis

The worst option is the one reported by Reuters, 23rd September 2002:
U. S. Lawmakers may deal on drilling, climate change
WASHINGTON - The chairman of the congressional committee trying to hammer out a final energy bill indicated that Republican House lawmakers might accept a climate change package if Senate Democrats agreed to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

2. THE SENATE ENERGY BILL MANDATES 10% RENEWABLE POWER: Will they support windmills on Cape Cod?



5. THE GREAT EU SUGAR SCAM: How Europe's sugar regime is devastating livelihoods in the developing world




2. An Open Letter to Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and other New England Senators

Dear Senators:

We are writing to inquire about your positions on the proposed offshore wind "farm" off Cape Cod and the Renewable Portfolio Standard in the Senate's version of the energy bill.

On March 14, 2002, you voted for Senate Amendment 3017 to the Senate version of H.R.4, which would establish a first-ever national electricity Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). This version of the RPS would have required privately-owned electric utilities to generate 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The amendment was defeated despite your support, but the Senate-passed bill still contains a 10 percent RPS by 2020.

Although much more costly than conventional sources, renewable power may look attractive in the Northeastern States. Your States are against coal-fired power plants, want to shut down nuclear plants, have blocked new natural gas pipelines, and strongly oppose offshore oil drilling. The question arises, how is increasing demand for energy in the Northeast going to be met?

One possible alternative is wind power. The proposed Cape Wind project would consist of 170 wind turbines, each 426 feet high (the U.S. Capitol is 300 feet high), spread over 26 square miles of one of the world's premier fishing, boating, wildlife, and scenically beautiful areas. Since it would produce only about the same amount of power as a single small-to-mid-sized (250 Megawatt) natural gas plant (or about 1 percent of New England's annual consumption), clearly many more wind farms along the New England coast and around Long Island will be needed to meet surging demand.

Since you support forcing increased production of renewable energy across the nation through the Renewable Portfolio Standard, we assume that you also support the Cape Wind project and other similar proposals in your States. The fact that many local citizens oppose the Cape Wind project because it will destroy their views and other amenities should not weaken your support. If renewable energy is going to be required by federal mandate, then people on Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket, as in South Dakota or Iowa or Minnesota, are just going to have to get used to it. Merely living in a very nice spot with high real estate values should not exempt anyone from sharing the renewable burden. Indeed, advocates of Environmental Justice would argue that since poor people will be paying a much larger share of their incomes in higher electricity prices because of the RPS than will the wealthy, wind farms, biomass generation facilities, and rights-of-way for transmission lines should be sited in wealthy neighborhoods.

On the other hand, if you oppose or plan to oppose the Cape Wind project because of local opposition, then it seems to us that consistency demands that you also oppose the Renewable Portfolio Standard. If wind farms should not be forced on the unwilling residents of one particular locality because you happen to represent it, then they should not be forced on anyone anywhere in the country.

We hope this way of putting the issue will cause you to re-think your support of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which we think is a regressive and coercive policy. If it does not, then we hope you will feel obliged to support the Cape Wind project. By supporting the local implementation of a national policy, however misguided, your position will at least have the virtue of consistency.

In our view, continuing to support the RPS while opposing a wind farm off Cape Cod (and possible expansions along the New England coast) is an indefensible position. But if that is your position, we think the public would be interested in hearing how you defend it.

We hope that you will be able to let us know where you stand on these two closely related issues before the Congress completes its work on the energy bill.

Myron Ebell
Director, Global Warming Policy
Marlo Lewis, Jr.
Senior Fellow September 25, 2002


3. House Rejects Senate's Greenhouse Gas Provisions in Energy Bill

On October 3, conferees from the U.S. House of Representatives voted 15-2 to reject the "greenhouse gas" provisions in the Senate version of the energy bill, which is now in conference. The Senate provisions would establish a voluntary reporting system for carbon dioxide and other emissions that would become mandatory in five years. They would also lay the groundwork for a "cap and trade" system for emissions that is favored by very large energy producers for the competitive advantage it would give them over their smaller competitors.

The Senate's insistence on energy bill measures which would have restricted both the availability and use of energy, in direct opposition to House proposals to increase energy independence (such as environmentally-safe oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), may be a blessing in disguise. It is difficult to see how a useful compromise between the House and the Senate bills could have been reached.

Energy-independence issues, such as oil and gas exploration in ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico, the outer continental shelf and the inter-mountain west, as well as "renewable fuels," such as ethanol, might best be dealt with in the next Congress.

From National Center for Public Policy Research


By Fred Pearce
New Scientist, 18 September 02

The southern Saharan desert is in retreat, making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa. Burkina Faso, one of the West African countries devastated by drought and advancing deserts 20 years ago, is growing so much greener that families who fled to wetter coastal regions are starting to go home.

New research confirming this remarkable environmental turnaround is to be presented to Burkina Faso's ministers and international aid agencies in November. And it is not just Burkina Faso. New Scientist has learned that a separate analysis of satellite images completed this summer reveals that dunes are retreating right across the Sahel region on the southern edge of the Sahara desert. Vegetation is ousting sand across a swath of land stretching from Mauritania on the shores of the Atlantic to Eritrea 6000 kilometres away on the Red Sea coast.

Nor is it just a short-term trend. Analysts say the gradual greening has been happening since the mid-1980s, though has gone largely unnoticed. Only now is the evidence being pieced together.

Aerial photographs taken in June show "quite spectacular regeneration of vegetation", in northern Burkina Faso, according to Chris Reij of the Free University, Amsterdam. There are more trees for firewood and more grassland for livestock. And a survey among farmers shows a 70 per cent increase in yields of local cereals such as sorghum and millet in one province in recent years. The survey, which Reij is collating, was paid for by Dutch, German and American overseas aid agencies.

Meanwhile, Kjeld Rasmussen of the University of Copenhagen has been looking in detail at sand dunes in the same area. Once they seemed to be marching south. But since the 1980s, he says, there has been a "steady reduction in bare ground" with "vegetation cover, including bushes and trees, on the increase on the dunes".

Desertification is still often viewed as an irreversible process triggered by a deadly combination of declining rainfall and destructive farming methods. In August, the UN Environment Programme told the World Summit in Johannesburg that over 45 per cent of Africa is in the grip of desertification, with the Sahel worst affected.

But there is confusion over why the Sahel is becoming green. Rasmussen believes the main reason is increased rainfall since the great droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s. But farmers have also been adopting better methods of keeping soil and water on their land.


SEPP Comment: Will Greenpeace run a headline: "Global Warming is destroying the fragile desert ecosystem? Or will the UN take credit for this under the anti-desertification treaty? We think it's a toss-up

5. EU sugar regime in opposition to comparative advantage

Under the common agricultural policy (CAP), the EU has emerged as the world's largest exporter of white sugar. Subsidies and tariffs generate vast profits for big sugar processors and large farmers whilst vast surpluses are dumped on world markets.
This briefing paper highlights that the EU's sugar regime is in opposition to the theory of comparative advantage. According to such, the EU would be importing sugar rather than being the world's biggest exporter.
Developing countries are hit by Europe's sugar policies through four channels:
· high tariffs and import quotas prevent some of the world's poorest countries from accessing EU markets, with attendant losses for rural incomes, employment and foreign exchange earnings
· by dumping excess production overseas, Europe prevents more efficient southern sugar producers from taking advantage of export opportunities
· policies inhibit the development of value-added processing
· EU subsidies depress world sugar prices - often to levels below the cost of production for even the lowest-cost producers such as Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia
Oxfam calls for an immediate 25% cut in EU quota production in order to make the following 3 measures possible:
· End EU dumping. This would mean ending quota exports and storing all non-quota production for use in the following year
· Full and immediate access for imports from the least developed countries through the 'Everything but Arms' imitative (EBA)
· Maintain quotas for CAP preferential imports and reverse their quota cuts that have already been made for imports under the EBA
Finally Oxfam calls for farmer and processor levies to be used to help fund the cost of eventual full reform facing small-scale EU farmers and the CAP exporters.


6. The Origins of Media Bias

Lorne Gunter
National Post (Toronto)

You asked: "Why do you think most of the media do not say more about the very large uncertainties in the science of climate change?"

Journalists never even entertain the idea that the science of global warming is undecided. To them, GW makes perfect sense. They take it on faith that man is so powerful and rapacious that, of course, his activities are a threat to the environment. So most don't even think to ask if there are alternatives to the GW theory, and they presume anyone who would question it would be a nutcase anyway.

There are a lot of reasons for this, mostly cultural and ideological. The most basic is that reporters, like voters and even most politicians, lump all enviro issues into the duffle of "global warming/greenhouses gases/climate change." Dirty air, over logging, biodiversity, acid rain, even a better living standard for the Third World, are all somehow connected -- and Kyoto is the solution to them all. In a way it has become the symbol for how much one cares for Mommy Nature.

But the lack of curiosity on GW goes much deeper. Most reporters, being 20 to 50 years old, have been indoctrinated since elementary school with several vague notions that suppress any urge they might have to investigate any doubts about GW. They accept as a given that without government regulation the free market would destroy itself and all those too weak to fight for themselves. Therefore, they have an inherent suspicion of the marketplace, just as they have an inherent trust in the wisdom and capability of government. Then there is their unease with the profit motive. They assume the profit motive is only selfish and as such cannot lead to collective good. On the other hand, government, being motivated only by the noble pursuit of the greatest good for the greatest number of people -- well, it can be trusted to act in the best interests of the commonwealth.

Then there's the cultural factor -- journalists mostly hang out with other people with similar educations, incomes, interests, worldviews, etc., as everyone does. And most of the decent people -- reporters and editors - know and believe GW is happening and we are the cause. Government scientists, academics, govt-funded researchers, bureaucrats, liberal politicians, enviro-activists all believe it and those people are the extent of most journalists' social circles. This creates a real impediment to honest investigation of GW:

First, few journalists know anyone who disputes the theory, or even where to look for doubters. And, second, even if they thought to look for opposing voices, they would risk censure from their social circle if they began reporting the cracks in the accepted doctrine. The effect would be like loosing some flatulence in a crowded elevator, and sighing "Ahh!" in a satisfied tone -- your fellow passengers would not only think you uncouth, but insane as well. Not to mention they'd stop inviting you to parties.

None of this is a conspiracy, though. It's worse -- it's a mindset, which is vastly harder to shatter than a plot to conceal the truth. There are no newsrooms I know of where editors and reporters sit around plotting to report only one side of this story. Rather it just never occurs to most journalists that there is anything wrong with this theory or Kyoto's big-govt solution. If someone ever suggests there might be another side, that suggestion is dismissed out of hand, "The skeptics are just a fringe element, not serious scientists. The debate's been settled."

Oh, yeah, and it helps the GW case enormously that few journalists ever doubt the benevolence or impartiality of the UN. So when that benighted organization puts it imprimatur on GW, that's as good as Rome approving a new catechism.


7. Arctic Pollution Causing Polar Bears to Change Sex -
The Independent/UK -- 10/03/2002

Polar bears, Arctic foxes, and Inuit peoples are under threat from man-made toxins such as PCBs, as reported by

But when we tried to access this interesting story to discover animal transvestites, we were greeted by this announcement:

"We're sorry but we have been forced to temporarily disable this feature.
During the night of August 25th our 'Share This Article With Your Friends' feature was hacked into by unknown parties who used us to spam tens of thousands of e-mail addresses with a link to a pornographic website."

SEPP Comment: Nude polar bears, no doubt



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