The Week That Was
July 24, 2004

1. New on the Web: AFTER ITS DEFEAT IN THE SENATE LAST YEAR, MCLIEBERMAN IS STILL TRYING TO PASS A KYOTO-LIKE BILL. Heartland Institute's Jay Lear and Joe Bast analyze its high cost and negligible benefits.










2. Apparent Disagreement Between Solar And Temperature Data Since 1980

The sun is burning hotter than usual, offering a possible explanation for global warming that needs to be weighed when proceeding with expensive efforts to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, Swiss and German scientists say.

Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, led the research that shows a brightening sun in the last 100 to 150 years

The team studied sunspot data going back several hundred years. They found that a dearth of sunspots signaled a cold period -- which could last up to 50 years -- but that over the past century their numbers had increased, as the Earth's climate grew steadily warmer. Mr. Solanki does not know what is causing the sun to burn brighter now or how long this cycle would last.

He says that the increased solar brightness over the past 20 years has not been enough to cause the observed climate changes. David Viner, senior research scientist at the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, agreed the research showed that the sun did have an effect on global warming. He added, however, that the study also showed that over the past 20 years, the number of sunspots had remained roughly constant, while the Earth's temperature had continued to increase.

This suggested that over the past 20 years, human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation had begun to dominate "the natural factors involved in climate change," he said.

SEPP Comment: We have a different interpretation of the disparity between solar observations and surface temperature data of the past 20 years. The simplest explanation of why there is an observed warming --- without an increase in solar brightness - is that the observations are wrong and that THERE IS NO WARMING in the past 20 years. Indeed, this is shown by all other evidence from satellites and balloons - as discussed by Douglass, Pearson, and Singer in the July 9 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

3. Higher Sea Surface Temperatures Do Not Cause More Intense Typhoons

As discussed at the 26th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology (Miami, May 2004), there is no support that higher SST cause more intense typhoons -- in fact, there is a negative correlation.

"Climate models need to demonstrate their ability to simulate this observational result before they can be used to project what might happen to future climate " Johnny C.L. Chen (City Univ of Hong Kong) and Kin Sik Liu

4. Big Insurance Companies Support Global Whining

From Financial Times 4/27/04
Swiss Re has joined with like-minded companies to campaign for immediate action to reduce GH gas emissions. The new public-private partnership, the Climate Group, was launched in London by Tony Blair.

From Die Welt (Hamburg) 4/27/04
Munich Re, the world's largest re-insurer, announced huge profits for first quarter of 2004, exceeding estimates. They hope to net over 2 billion Euros in 2004.

5. Massive Switch To Renewable Energy Will Conquer International Poverty: BBC

This report by Alex Kirby, BBC News Online environment correspondent will surely be of interest to the World Bank and to Sir David King

The only way to meet international poverty targets is by a massive switch to renewable energy, such as solar power, a UK think-tank says. In a report, The Price Of Power, the New Economics Foundation says: "Renewable energy is the great, barely-tapped solution to the two great challenges of the coming century - poverty and global warming." It wants an end to subsidies for fossil fuel projects and nuclear power.

6. Green Pragmatism Encouraged: Washington Post

A recent editorial in The Washington Post chastened environmental groups that "continue in an Utopian, denounce-everything mode." The editors criticized activist groups that take an all-or-nothing approach, citing as a particular example attempts to force the World Bank to cease lending to coal and oil projects. Instead, the Post argues, NGOs should appreciate the efforts the World Bank has made to provide better environmental oversight and planning for projects that are necessary for the improvement of the developing world. "Now that the world has accepted the basic message that the environment matters, campaigners have to move beyond denouncing everything that has an environmental cost; they have a duty to say which costs are most serious and how the expense of mitigating them should be apportioned."

7. The Oil Refinery Bottleneck

Before drivers vent all of their anger over high gas prices at foreign-oil exporters, they might consider one homegrown factor behind the higher prices: a shortage of domestic refineries, says USA Today (July 9, 2004).

Not one new refinery has been built since 1976. And refiners have shut more than 150 inefficient plants in the past two decades, leaving 149 operating at full throttle. Now, the nation is paying a price for this inaction. Among the problems:

o With refineries pressed to their limits, imports of gasoline refined abroad have grown from 3.5 percent of gasoline supplies in 1995 to 6 percent last year, according to the U.S. Energy Department; each imported gallon costs approximately two cents more than domestically refined fuel.

o The refinery bottleneck means that an accident at a single plant can have a major effect on price; for example, a 2001 fire at a Citgo refinery in Lemont, Ill., caused prices in the Midwest to spike up as much as 50 cents a gallon for several weeks, and refining capacity at the time was not as tight as it is now.

o Oil companies are using supply problems and high gas prices as excuses to relax air-pollution standards; on Wednesday, the heads of two industry trade groups, the American Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, urged a Senate panel to ease provisions of the 1990 Clean Air Act as an inducement for companies to expand capacity at decades-old refineries.

In the long run, the development of an alternative to the gas-guzzling internal-combustion engine could help break the nation's addiction to oil. Meanwhile, replacing older refineries with state-of-the art facilities could ensure a more stable supply of domestic gasoline and less pollution, says USA Today.


8. The "Hockeystick" Controversy: An Update

Human-induced global warming enthusiasts and Kyoto supporters quickly adopted the Mann, Bradley and Hughes study (Nature 1998) as the smoking gun they desperately needed to support their warming fantasy. [MBH claimed that the 20th century was the warmest in the past 1000 years, a claim adopted by the IPCC in 2001 as supposed proof of greenhouse warming.] Critics were dismissed as a fringe minority, or as "outlier scientists" operating "on the margin of the issue." To question the validity of the hockey stick became a sacrilege deemed unworthy of public discourse and governments everywhere began to tune their environmental policies to the new paradigm.
In science it is standard procedure to have the validity of important research results checked by other scientists who use the same data and methods to see if they get the same outcome. Despite the enormous stakes involved, a proper assessment of MBH98 was not published until October of last year when Canadian analyst Steve McIntyre and University of Guelph economist Ross McKitrick published the results of such an audit study. Using the MBH98 methodology and corrected data, their results were dramatically different.
McIntyre and McKitrick wrote "Our conclusion, after detailed study of Mann et. al. data base is that the "hockey stick" is an artifact of poor data handling, selective use of sources, reliance on obsolete versions of source data and erroneous statistical calculation." These are harsh judgments in the scientific world.
Of course, Mann, Bradley and Hughes, and their supporters, vehemently protested, but a science editorial board ordered a correction, and on July 1, 2004, the MBH98 "Corrigendum" was published in Nature. McIntyre and McKitrick maintain that this document is a clear admission that the disclosure of data and methods behind MBH98 was materially inaccurate.
To follow the developing controversy, consult

9. Human Health And Environmental Scares : New Book From IPN

In a new book, Environment & Health: Myths & Realities, released this week by the International Policy Network, a group of 10 scientists from the U.S. and Europe challenge many of the theories that link human health problems to our industrial society. The group claims that "environmental scare stories in the media have been unbalanced" and often do more harm to human health through unnecessary or incorrect public policies.

Examples from the book include:

ˆ Dietary nitrates from fertilizer runoff pose no threat to human health.
ˆ On balance, synthetic pesticides are beneficial because they enable better nutrition and environmental protection.
ˆ Trying to prevent or test for low levels of radiation is a waste; natural radiation levels are much higher without causing human health problems.
ˆ There is no evidence linking dioxin to cancer.
ˆ Warmer temperatures should not be feared as they are generally more beneficial in the medium term for most of the world.

The authors express their concern that science is being undermined by activist groups that care more about achieving media coverage than actually protecting the environment. Co-editor Kendra Okonski, "Rather than focusing on the negative consequences of modern life, we should discuss why people in wealthier economies are healthier, live longer and happier lives."

The authors include Bruce N. Ames, University of California, Berkeley; Lois Swirsky Gold, University of California, Berkeley; Stephen Safe, Tex A&M; Lucas Bergkamp, Erasmus University, Netherlands. To read more about the book, its authors and where to obtain it, go to:

10. German Court Stops Greenpeace Campaign Against Milk

A court in Cologne, Germany, issued an injunction (June 23) against Greenpeace' "defamation" campaign against Mueller-Milk In particular, it prohibited the misleading use of the term Gen-Milk - since all food products contain genes.



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