|The Week That Was
September 20, 2003
1. New on the Web: WILL UTAH GOVERNOR MIKE LEAVITT BE CONFIRMED AS THE NEXT EPA ADMINISTRATOR - and should he be?
2. THE NY TIMES MISREPORTS GLOBAL WARMING -- AGAIN
3. GLOBAL WARMING SMEAR TARGETS: Hockeystick Fight
4. AMERICANS MOST MISINFORMED ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING
5. ENERGY NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
6. RUSSIAN DOUBTS ABOUT THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
7. CLEAN WATER FOR AFRICA VERSUS KYOTO
8. And finally, THE END OF THE WORLD IS NEAR
2. The Tricks of the Times
By Reed Irvine
August 5, 2003
The New York Times continues to be one of the most ardent proponents of the global warming scam. The Times believes that the "science is settled," the debate is over, and it's time for the federal government to act. Action in this case means mandatory controls on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, which it labels the "main global warming gas." Only through drastic measures, the Times warns, can mankind stave off a coming global catastrophe. The paper has nothing but scorn for the Bush administration's reluctance to follow the Times' policy prescriptions.
But many scientists disagree with the Times. They also believe that the science is settled. They say it shows that predictions of catastrophic warming are baseless. They scoff at forecasts of global catastrophe and argue that, if anything, mankind could benefit from some warming. The real problem, they say, is that climate science has become highly politicized by the global warming doomsayers who, like the Times, advocate policies that could cause a real disaster for the world's economy.
The Times and its science writers, especially Andrew C. Revkin, agree that politics influences the debate over global warming. In an August 5 story, Revkin divided climate scientists into global warming "believers" and "skeptics." He sided with the believers, dismissing the thousands of skeptics as a "fringe element" in the science community. For Revkin, this "fringe element" has served mainly to muddle the public debate and delay governmental action to reduce global warming risks. In classic New York Times fashion, he launched a smear campaign against the skeptics.
He said that they take money from the oil industry and rely on obscure scientific journals to peddle their theories. He cited a scientific paper published in the journal Climate Research in January 2003, in which Harvard-Smithsonian Center astrophysicists Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas presented evidence indicating that the 20th century was probably not the warmest on record and that the claim that the 1990s were the warmest decade in1000 years was also doubtful. If true, this undermines the theory that man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for the warmer temperatures the "believers" predict.
Climate Research had the Soon-Baliunas paper peer-reviewed. Revkin reported that the publisher of the journal said that the reviewers had not detected methodological flaws and he was distancing himself from the paper. Dr. Patrick Michaels, a climatologist at the University of Virginia who is a critic of the global warming hypothesis, claims that a number of climatologists who are on the other side pressured the publisher of Climate Research to disavow the Soon-Baliunas paper.
Revkin reported that their work had been partially funded by a grant of $53,000 from the American Petroleum Institute and that they also had received some income as board members of a think tank that has opposed limits on gas emissions. Both authors rejected the implication that their findings were influenced by monetary grants. This allegation fits the "believers," far better than the "skeptics." Governments have poured billions of dollars into the coffers of the institutions and scientists who claim global warming is a great danger. In the coming fiscal year our government will spend about $4.2 billion on climate change research. The skeptics charge that climate scientists routinely "hype" the threat of global warming in order to continue gorging at the public trough.
Revkin clearly knows what side his bread is buttered on. His August 5 story reported that Dr. Michaels, one of the strongest critics of the global warming crowd, has come around to making temperature predictions that "overlap with those of the dominant group of researchers." He claims that Michaels recently "projected that the global average temperature was most likely to rise about three degrees from 1990 to 2100." Revkin notes that would be three times the increase in the 20th century. What Michaels said was that even if the climate modelers were right, the global average temperature would rise by no more than 2.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Michaels does not think computer models can accurately predict the temperature in 2100, and Revkin knows it. Nevertheless, he dishonestly rounds 2.4 degrees to "about 3," and leaves out "even if," so he can put Michaels "within the mainstream projections" that others have dismissed as "alarmist." The only painful result of such a modest warming would be the red faces of those who keep predicting a catastrophe.
Reed Irvine is Chairman Emeritus of Accuracy in Media
David R. Legates in The Washington Times (8/26/03)
While most of official Washington was captivated with the fight on the Senate floor to pass an energy bill before Congress left town for its August vacation, a vicious campaign was under way behind the scenes to smear two leading scientists for pointing out serious flaws in the science behind the theory of human-caused climate change.
The targets were Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, both astrophysicists at Harvard, who were characterized as fringe scientists whose work should be ignored. What did they do to attract such characterizations? They had the audacity to pull back the curtain on the wizard of global warming.
The issue focuses on their paper that supports the widely held view that the climate of the last millennium has been quite variable and includes a Medieval Warm Period and subsequent Little Ice Age. This is only controversial because it, and the wider body of scientific literature that exists, directly contradicts recent research by Michael Mann, a leading global warming proponent. Mann argues global air temperatures have been stable over the last 1,000 years, with the exception of the last 100. It is the "Mann-made" warming to which Soon and Baliunas have objected.
While most of these arguments are confined to academic discussions that the general public would find less than boring, this fight played out recently in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. It has also been echoed in several news accounts from academic journals to the New York Times.
Mann testified before the Senate committee that his research is the "mainstream view" because it is featured in a chapter of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, of which Mann was a lead author. Soon and Baliunas challenged Mann's claim by reviewing the large body of literature that shows his claims to be unsubstantiated and his research to be fatally flawed. In truth, Mann's work is the scientific outlier - the one study that does not fit with the wealth of scientific evidence.
Soon and Baliunas argue that Mann's conclusions rest on a dubious manipulation of data. While many of the problems in Mann's work require scientific expertise to understand, one flaw is so basic that everyone can understand it. Mann and his colleagues compiled a historical climate reconstruction - called the "hockey stick" because of its shape - using primarily tree ring records to infer air temperature trends. Their use of proxy data is not novel, but the methods they used and thus the results, certainly are. For example, Mann and his colleagues simply attached the surface temperature record of the 20th century to the end of the proxy record. This is an apples-to-oranges comparison as air temperature readings are not directly comparable to proxy records. However, putting the two different sets of data together in this way makes a stunning visual display for the average reader.
Also, in his analysis for the Northern Hemisphere prior to 1400, Mann uses data from nine locations in addition to statistical summaries derived from data for the Western United States only. Four of these additional locations are in the Southern Hemisphere, including Tasmania and Patagonia.
The widespread acceptance of his revisionist history was possible because the global-warming community was eager to accept the "hockey stick" as proof of human-caused climate change.
If it remained merely a disagreement about science and research methods, there wouldn't be much of a story - or reason for concern. Unfortunately, it turned into a scientific lynching of Soon and Baliunas and anyone associated with them. For example, Chris de Freitas, the editor of Climate Research that published the paper, was criticized for having failed in his responsibilities of quality control, even though the paper passed an extensive peer-review process and the publisher defended de Freitas' handling of the paper. It was argued de Freitas should be removed from his position simply for having published it. Mann, in his Senate testimony, dismissed de Freitas' credentials solely because he "frequently publishes op-ed pieces in newspapers attacking IPCC and attacking [the] Kyoto [protocol]."
Why is all this important? Global warming alarmists would have governments impose significant regulations with tremendous economic implications. The Bush administration is under attack simply for stating that the science is uncertain whether human-induced global warming is occurring. At the same time, scientists that add credence to that assertion are being silenced.
Yet if recent global warming were largely a result of natural climate variability, policies to reduce global warming would be unnecessary, costly and ineffective. Before we are asked to incur the pain, we should better understand whether there would be any gain.
David R. Legates is an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis and an associate professor and director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware.
4. Americans most misinformed about global warming
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Despite huge differences in all kinds of resources, citizens of poorer developing countries have essentially the same level of knowledge about the sources of global warming as citizens of richer developed countries -- and that level isn't very high.
"I find this quite remarkable," said Steven R. Brechin, the author of a new cross-national study of public opinion and global climatic change.
A sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brechin presented his findings to the American Sociological Association meeting in August. His study will be published this fall in a special issue of the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy.
For his study of the views and attitudes of ordinary citizens all over the globe, Brechin analyzed a variety of public opinion polls conducted since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement created to regulate the release of greenhouse gases. Polls included various Gallup and Pew Research Center polls and studies by the research group Environics International.
Some of the most surprising findings concern U.S. citizens. Not only are Americans "more or less equally misinformed" as people elsewhere about the causes of global warming, but they also are "among the most misinformed of the developed nations surveyed. Only the Japanese and the French are more so," Brechin wrote.
A 2001 poll, for example, found that only 15 percent of the U.S. citizens surveyed correctly identified burning fossil fuels as the primary cause of global warming. "Even the Cubans, at 17 percent, were slightly more informed," Brechin wrote. The citizens of Mexico led all 15 countries surveyed, with 26 percent of the respondents correctly identifying fossil fuels.
Two years earlier, a 27-nation study of the human sources of greenhouse gases revealed that most of the respondents in each country did not know that burning fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, and their resulting release of carbon dioxide, was the main human source of greenhouse gases. Finland achieved the highest percentage of correct responses (17); the United States and China each got 11 percent.
5. Energy news from around the world
The German Industry Association (BDI) rejected the threat by Environment Minister Trittin to raise the eco-tax further if industry does not lower CO2 emissions. BDI assures that they will lower emissions by 28% by 2005 and 35% by 2012. (TAM News 18.8.03)
The German Association of Energy Users (VEA) objects to Trittin's plan to raise electricity taxes by 30% by 2010. German users are now paying the highest prices in the EU; further one-sided taxation of energy-intensive users cannot be tolerated..(TAM News 22.8.03)
In Belene/Bulgaria, as the result of a citizen initiative, construction of 4 atomic power plants will continue after having been stopped in 1990 because of public protests.
Wind power subsidies threaten jobs. Workers at Vestolit, a German PVC producer, are up in arms that the company is losing money through higher electricity costs and has become less competitive. To avoid layoffs, 700 workers gave up their Christmas bonus. In California, companies are leaving Silicon Valley because of higher energy costs
Electric power imports to Denmark and Sweden rose sharply in 2003 (by factors of 3 to 5 during the first 6 months) because of the effects of drought on hydropower. (TAM-News 9.9.03)
LES (Louisiana Energy Services) has announced construction of a uranium-enrichment plant in New Mexico at a cost of $1.2 billion. http://c.moreover.com/click/here.pl?t88716432 (Power Engineering International, 9. Sept 03)
In Taiwan, construction of a fourth nuclear power plant is proceeding. Now half completed, it will start operation in 2006. (FreshFUEL 1.9.03)
Wind turbines are hard to insure - too high to reach with fire dept ladders. Damage risk rises with increasing size. Insurers must pay when facility is not producing.. Yearly premiums run at 12,000 Euros for a 1.5 MW turbine. Typical accidents: burnout when brakes fail; failure during a storm when blades fly off, etc.
Munich airport has world's largest solar PV installation. Cost $3 million. Capacity 457 kW(peak) and should produce 445 MWh yearly, about the same as a large nuclear plant does in 20 minutes.
German labor union president questions planned phase-out of nuclear reactors
by 2021 (as decided in 2000). Nuclear energy now supplies 30% of German
electric power. He considers Trittin's proposal of renewable supplying
50% of power by 2050 completely unrealistic.(Financial Times-Germany,
22 Aug. 2003)
6. Russian doubts about the Kyoto Protocol
By Vyacheslav NIKONOV, director of the Politika Foundation, in Pravda,
9 Sept. 2003
7. Clean water for Africa versus Kyoto
A German reader of the Lomborg article in TWTW of Sept 13 supplies supporting information:
"I travelled in Africa, mainly Zaire (now Congo) and Rwanda. In order to sterilise water I carried a chemical with me, a mixture of hypochlorite and complexed silver ions (product information in German: http://www.certisil.de/de/index_to.html ). Adding this chemical to biologically contaminated water sterilises it and makes it potable after half an hour, preserving it sterilised for several months. During my travelling I took water from any source (like not too dirty rivers, wells etc.), sterilised and drank it, and did not get sick during the entire period of two months. In contrast, in Rwanda I observed the following: native women walked to a Roman-Catholic mission, sometimes for many hours, received something like 20 liters of high-quality uncontaminated water from a deep well for free and walked back with the water container on their heads.
"The cost for sterilising and preparing potable water: Chemical
cost is 65 Euro (European end-user, VAT included) or about 70 US$ for
a quantity sufficient to sterilise 50 cubic meter or 50,000 liters of
water. From which follows:
"Of course one has not only cost, but also benefits. Contaminated water is the main source of cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, infantile paralysis. So one would avoid cost of treatment (if there is any) of these illnesses, mortalities etc.
8. And finally, the end of the world is near (Parody)
John Kerry, in a field of nearly a dozen nationally known Democrats, decided to distance himself from the pack with a new issue.
"George Bush is not a friend of the environment," said Kerry to a crowd of thousands in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. "And his blithe attitude towards asteroid 2003 QQ47 is the most egregious example."
The recently discovered asteroid is on a trajectory to pass near the Earth in 2014. Experts put the odds of a collision at just greater than a million-to-one.
"But the odds will be one-to-one that Bush will ignore this dire threat!"
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan responded to the asteroid threat. "The President believes that the government has no place dealing with the so-called 'threat' of this alleged asteroid. Supply and demand are just as powerful as gravity. If the market wants a collision, there'll be a collision."
Kerry was quick to respond: "The last major space-body collision with the Earth was the Tunguska Blast of 1908, during the administration of Theodore Roosevelt... a Republican! Go ahead! Tell me that's a coincidence!"
2003 QQ47 was unavailable for comment. Halley's Comet passed near the
Earth during two Republican administrations: William Howard Taft's in
1910 and Ronald Reagan's in 1986. "Reagan was a great communicator,
though a little weak on domestic issues," said the Comet. "Taft
was just a big blowhard."
Frank Loy, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs under Clinton/Gore, sets up Environment 2004. This new organization is to "express outrage" and remind voters that Bush turned down Kyoto. Charter members: former secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and former EPA administrator Carol Browner - which tells all.
Loy was chief US negotiator at COP-6 in The Hague where his extreme efforts at abject compromises to achieve agreement on Kyoto were undercut by the French (see TWTW of Dec 2 and Dec 9, 2000) and where a cream pie was thrown in his face.
This man has staying power.