The Week That Was
Sept. 11, 2004


September 11, 2000 who remembers?
September 11, 2001 no one had time to think about how to think about it.
September 11, 2002 was, necessarily, a reopening of horrible wounds
September 11, 2003 passed quietly
September 11, 2004 a shared experience with victims of terrorism around the world

Here I wish to express our deepest sorrow and sympathies to our Russian colleagues at the barbaric acts of terrorism and the unbelievable cruelty against innocent children and their parents in Beslan.

Blixful Amnesia
By Charles Krauthammer
Wash Post, July 9, 2004

Thank God for Hans Blix. Whenever we become lax and forgetful about how the world changed on Sept. 11, former chief inspector Blix is there to make the case for mindless complacency. In a recent speech in Vienna he warned that one should be wary of the claim that "the risk that reckless groups and governments might acquire weapons of mass destruction is the greatest problem facing our world today." Why? Because "to hundreds of millions of people around the world, the big existential issue is hunger, and also that wherever you live on this planet, the risk of global warming and other environmental threats are existential."

The new idea, expressed by Blix representing the decadent European left, and recently amplified by Michael Moore representing the paranoid American left, is that this existential threat is vastly overblown. Indeed, deliberately overblown by a corrupt/clueless (take your pick) President Bush to justify American aggression for reasons of . . . and here is where the left gets a little fuzzy, not quite being able to decide whether American aggression is intended simply to enrich multinational corporations -- or maybe just Halliburton alone -- with fat war contracts, distract from alleged failure in Afghanistan, satisfy some primal masculine urge, or boost poll ratings.

We have come a long way in three years. The idea that Sept. 11 was a historic turning point, a wake-up call to a war declared by our enemies but ignored by us, has begun to fade. The week after the attacks, the late-night comedy shows went dark -- and upon returning to the air they were almost apologetic about telling jokes, any jokes, ever again. Today, Moore produces a full-length film parody of Sept. 11 and its aftermath that is not just highly celebrated but commands a huge popular audience. To be sure, Moore's version is not quite as crazed as the French bestseller claiming that the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center were remotely controlled by the CIA at the behest of the president. Moore merely implies some sinister plot, citing connections between the Bush and bin Laden families. It's a long way from two years ago, when Rep. Cynthia McKinney was run out of Congress for suggesting that Bush had foreknowledge. (She is today in a tight race, with a very good chance of regaining her seat.)

Unlike the French book or the Moore movie, Blix is not deranged. He is merely in denial, discounting the uniqueness of the WMD-terrorism issue by comparing it to global warming and hunger. Yes, hunger is an existential issue to the people suffering it. As are car accidents, heart disease and earthquakes. But they hardly threaten to destroy civilization. Hunger is a scourge that has always been with us and that has not been a threat to humanity's existence for at least 1,000 years. Global warming might one day be, but not for decades, or even centuries, and with a gradualness that will leave years for countermeasures.
There is no gradualness and there are no countermeasures to a dozen nuclear warheads detonating simultaneously in U.S. cities. Think of what just two envelopes of anthrax did to paralyze the capital of the world's greatest superpower. A serious, coordinated attack on the United States using weapons of mass destruction could so shatter America as a functioning, advanced society that it would take generations to rebuild.

What is so dismaying is that such an obvious truth needs repeating. The passage of time, the propaganda of the anti-American left and the setbacks in Iraq have changed nothing of that truth. This is the first time in history that the knowledge of how to make society-destroying weapons has been democratized. Today small radical groups allied with small radical states can do the kind of damage to the world that in the past only a great, strategically located and industrialized power such as Germany or Japan could do.

It is a new world and exceedingly dangerous. Everything is at stake. We are now deeply engaged in a breast-beating exercise for not having connected the dots before Sept. 11. And yet here we are three years after Sept. 11, with the dots already connected, and we are under a powerful urge to ignore them completely.











2. The futility of Kyoto and McLieberman

Coal is world's fastest-growing energy source, acc to BP Review of World Energy (June 2004), rising by 6.9% in 2003. World primary energy production increased by 2.9%.

China's coal consumption increased by 15.2% and total energy by 13.8%. Its production increased by 12.2%, of which 91% was in coal for domestic use.

World carbon emissions from energy production increased by 3.8% in 2003 to a level of 18% over 1990 levels. Of this increase, 51% took place in China.

Coal beds are often a source of clean-burning methane. TheAlaskan resource of coalbed methane is estimated at 1000 trillion cubic feet (TCF), with 250 TCF in the Cook Inlet region. Proven world reserves are 6200 TCF. World consumption in 2003 was 92 TCF, with 27 TCF in the US

US oil refinery capacity peaked in 1981, but US refiners began to shut down less efficient plants and consolidate operations due to more stringent environmental regulations that forced expensive modifications to gasoline and other fuels.

A OGJ survey listed 301 operating refineries in 1982, with a peak capacity of 18.5 mbd. The number dropped to 133 in the most recent survey, with a production of about 16 mbd. US consumption of products exceeds 20 mbd, requiring substantial imports of gasoline

Refinery utilization rates increased from about 70% in 1982 to the 90+% level seen today - putting the system on edge

3. Chemical Plants Are Vulnerable -- Not Nuclear Reactors

The Department of Homeland Security has put forward new figures for the number of people at risk from a chemical plant accident or terror incident. According to statistics cited by EPA, there are 7,728 U.S. chemical plants where an accident could affect 1,000 or more nearby residents and 123 that could threaten more than one million people. The new figures from DHS put the number of high-risk facilities at 4,391, with only 2 plants potentially affecting more than a million people.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Department of Homeland security reworked EPA models using more stringent criteria. "What EPA did was to consider the release of the most hazardous chemical at the plant in an accident and then assume that the plume [of toxic gas] threatened all residents living in a 360 degree circle around the plant equally," said a DHS official. In revising the models, DHS assumed a catastrophic incident would result in the release of all the chemicals at a plant instead of just one. Then, using prevailing weather patterns at each plant -- a factor not considered by EPA -- DHS modelers directed the plume of gases through the most densely populated nearby areas. The result was to create a wedge-shaped "kill zone" instead of the EPA's circular "vulnerability zone." That decreased the number of dangerous plants, giving Homeland Security what it says is a better priority list from which to work.

4. Clearing the Record on Oil
The National Interest -Online, September 1, 2004
By S. Fred Singer

There are a number of myths about oil that are prevalent in the United States, especially regarding U.S. "dependence" on foreign oil and military action as a "subsidy" for the oil industry. It is especially dangerous, however, when these myths become the basis for policy recommendations.

First, in the United States, the principal use of petroleum is for transportation, not for electrical generation. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), transportation accounted for 68 percent of total petroleum consumption in 2002. Petroleum consumption for transportation is heavily taxed - not subsidized - by local, state and federal governments. Annually, the federal government alone collects about $40 billion. Of this, more than $33 billion is spent for highways and similar improvements, about $6 billion on mass transit and about $70 million for the EPA administered Leaking Underground Storage Tanks Fund.

Second, to claim that U.S. military action subsidizes the petroleum industry by insuring secure sources is dubious at best. After the first Gulf War, we returned the captured oil fields to Kuwait. We are returning the oil fields in Iraq to that government. According to the EIA, in 2002 less than 12 percent of total U.S. petroleum consumption came from the Persian Gulf states. These sources are more important to Europe and the Far East than to the United States.

Third, the geographic sources of the petroleum are not important, because there is a world market for oil in which the U.S. is a major component, but not the defining factor. The defining factor is the combination of the competition among various energy sources and the competing consumption of many users in all countries, which, together, establish the worldwide price. Lengthy disruptions of supplies from one region will cause a temporary increase in world price that will result in expansion of production and facilities in other regions. Although inconvenient, a major disruption could trigger the use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to smooth price increases. Many nations are more vulnerable than the United States to such disruptions.

Fourth, we do not need the military to secure stable sources. For decades, nations, tyrants and dictators have willingly sold petroleum because it is in their benefit to do so. And it is in their benefit to protect their sources. Permitting disruptions deprives these countries of needed revenues. An exception to this "need to export" occurred in the 1970s when certain nations attempted to influence American policy towards Israel by initiating what was called the Arab Oil Embargo and denying export to the United States. The attempt failed totally. During the embargo, the United States imported more oil than it did prior to the embargo. This failure is clear evidence of a world market in a fungible (interchangeable) commodity in which no nation, or region, can dominate. The long lines many Americans experienced at the gas pumps during this time were a result of a foolish government policy to allocate the distribution of fuel - rather than a shortage of fuel.

Finally, an interruption in world oil supplies -- for whatever reason and no matter where it occurs - will raise the world price to all oil consumers and damage the national economies of importers, like China and - of course - poor nations that depend greatly on oil. In this respect, the United States is less vulnerable. In 2002, petroleum generated about 2 percent of total electricity. That same year, solar generated about 0.01 percent of the nation's electricity. Coal, in contrast, generates about 54 percent of the nation's electricity. Moreover, the source of this coal is the United States, which has more than adequate amounts and requires no military commitments outside its borders to protect it.

It's important to have a national dialogue on energy policy. But getting the facts straight is the first order of business.

S. Fred Singer is the president of The Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) <> .

5. Sloppy Science For Federal Dollars

Many "scientific" papers predicting dire consequences from global warming are flawed, says Patrick J. Michaels of the Cato Institute. Furthermore, doom-and-gloom research on global warming is motivated by the promise of federal research dollars.

According to Michaels, a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts that global warming will create numerous deaths in California and destroy the state's wine industry. However, the paper is flawed for several reasons:

* It uses 15-year-old research on heat-related deaths and a computer model that is incapable of predicting U.S. temperatures (much less California temperatures).

* One of the models -- from the British Meteorological Office -- was used in a similar version by the Clinton administration, but it was shown to perform worse than a table of random numbers in predicting temperature changes.

* The paper downscaled the original model (which had a resolution of 36,000 square miles) to 56 square miles to predict California's temperature, in spite of the fact that it could not accurately predict surface temperatures.

Moreover, a model that cannot accurate predict surface temperatures, says Michaels, cannot accurately predict precipitation either, even though the paper estimated that decreased rainfall would ruin California vineyards.

Furthermore, the 15-year-old research on heat-related deaths did not take into account that people have adapted to heat, through air conditioning, improved emergency care and new precautions. It instead assumes what scientists refer to as the "dumb people scenario" -- that inhabitants will "fry and die" instead of adapting to changing climate.

However, without sloppy science predicting the dire consequences of global warming, scientists might miss out on the $4 billion allotted annually to climate change research.
Source: Patrick J. Michaels, "Global Warming has Doomsayers Riding Federal Gravy Train," Investor's Business Daily, August 24, 2004, Kathryn Hayhoe, et al, "Emissions Pathways, Climate Change and Impacts on California," PNAS 2004 101.

6. "Clean-Coal" Technology Doesn't Reduce CO2 Emissions

American Electric Power Co., the nation's largest coal-burning utility, plans a 1000-megawatt plant using IGCC (Integrated Gasified Combined Cycle), considered a "clean-coal" technology (WSJ Aug 31). Indeed, IGCC removes pollutants. But contrary to general impressions, it produces about the same amount of carbon dioxide as a plant using pulverized coal.

According to DOE,,
the conversion efficiency of gasifying coal (considering the energy content of all products) is 45%. Burning the gas in a combined-cycle power plant results in an overall efficiency of about 35% (assuming that all of the gasification products could be so used), which is about the same as that of modern coal-fired plants with conventional flue-gas clean up. In both systems, CO2 could be sequestered and disposed of -- but only at a high additional dollar and energy (i.e., CO2) cost.]

The proposed plant is four times as large as the existing pilot plants built and operated with federal subsidies. AEP now must convince Wall Street and utility regulators that the technology is commercially mature and reliable. It may also require federal loan guarantees and state cost-recovery assurances.

So why go the IPCC route? AEP may simply be trying to improve its image (at ratepayers' expense) by overreacting to unrealistic pressures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - such as the absurd lawsuit recently filed by several state attorneys-general. It's clear, AEP would rather look Green than fight. But IGCC is not the answer.
S. Fred Singer.
The writer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and president of the non-profit Science & Environmental Policy Project.


7. The CONFERENCE BOARD Embraces Global Warming - But Why?.

A non-profit organization of some 2,000 major corporations from around the world, the Conference Board is best known for monthly surveys of consumer confidence and economic indicators. But on Tuesday, it issued a report "Climate Change: Clear Trajectory Haze in the Details," warning that "businesses that ignore the debate over climate change do so at their peril." The report concludes: "The Earth - for whatever the exact reasons - is on a trajectory toward an ever warmer climate. This cannot be avoided at this point, but the trajectory can be jiggled and potential risks associated with the warming can be mitigated. Ultimately the trajectory could be reversed."
Here is my letter to WSJ reporter Jeffrey Ball who wrote up the CB story:

Dear Mr Ball

Yr story (WSJ 9/8/04) reports on the regrettable position of the once-respected Conference Board on the issue of Global Warming. It is apparently based on a June conference supported by the CB, financed by the "ever-green" Hewlett Foundation, and organized by the editor of Science. Don Kennedy, a Stanford biologist, is well known for his blatant editorial advocacy of GW scares and partisan attacks on the Bush Administration .

The AAAS-CB "scientific conference" didn't even pretend towards balance in existing views --and I note with regret the absence of such balance in yr story. Still -- yr story is well written. I suggest you next investigate and write about what motivates the industry-friendly Conf Board to take an anti-growth, anti-industry position. I am sure yr readers are wondering -- as am I.

S Fred Singer

PS I am intrigued by the headline of yr story "Evidence Grows that Global Warming is a Priority." This may hold true for the CB but I can assure you that growing evidence demonstrates GW is not significant. Pls read my Letter below: It effectively responds also to a quite similar editorial in the NYT (Aug 27)

Letter to News-Observer (Raleigh-Durham- Chapel Hill, NC)
Published Sept 7, 2004

Warming? Unproven

Your Sept. 1 editorial "Warming trend" claimed that the Bush administration admits that carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning is the cause of recent climate warming. But the government report says no such thing. It says only that theoretical models show this -- hardly a new result. Actual observations published in peer-reviewed science journals do not show significant warming of the atmosphere based on data from weather satellites and, quite independently, from weather balloons.

The real purpose of the federal climate research program is to find out why the theory disagrees with what the atmosphere tells us. Until we understand the reason, we would be foolish to institute costly control programs for nontoxic, non-polluting carbon dioxide that effectively ration the use of energy by Americans. You deplore the lack of action. I say: Look before you leap.

S. Fred Singer, Ph.D.
The writer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service.

[This Letter also responds to a quite similar editorial that appeared in the NYT on Aug 27. A direct Letter to the NYTimes was sent by Prof Fred Decker of Oregon State University]

Only satellite data best describe global air temperatures

To the Editor, NYT:
The "best possible" data on global temperature change could not appear in the August report to Congress reported by Andrew C. Revkin's Aug. 26 Times news article. He quotes administration official Dr. James R. Mahoney as thus describing the basis for the report.

"Best available" (not "possible") does apply only to the twice-daily satellite measurements taken globally (verified by balloon soundings) during the past quarter-century. These do not show appreciable atmospheric warming. Lively debate surrounds the disagreement between those actual measurements and the theoretical model predictions. Even present satellite temperature data do not fully cover all parts of the globe during 24-7. The rating "best possible" would apply to such in-depth temperature profile data continuously obtained simultaneously for the entire atmospheric envelope surrounding the earth.

Our "lower 48" weather stations do not have locations ideal for the numerical models. Worse yet, urbanization shifted the environment, affecting most stations' readings. Compared to this best network on the planet, all other areas have less adequate networks or none at all.

The Times editorial "Warming to Global Warming" on Aug. 27 demanding government-imposed limits to carbon dioxide emission would rely upon preliminary studies using primitive data distorted by changing environment of most weather stations, and including only very sparse data over the oceans, which comprise two-thirds of the earth's surface. If our economy suffers such arbitrary regulation of fuel-burning energy generation, it risks permanent recession without any assured climate benefits.

Fred W. Decker, Ph.D., Corvallis, OR. President, Mt. Hood Philosophical Society (Emeritus Faculty in Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Retired USAF Weather Officer, Meteorologist since 1937, and currently a Forensic Meteorological Consultant.)

8. Good Advice To Climate Worriers

"The best prophet of the future is the past"
(found in a Chinese fortune cookie)



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