|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
3. HIGHER SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES DO NOT CAUSE MORE INTENSE TYPHOONS
4. BIG INSURANCE COMPANIES SUPPORT GLOBAL "WHINING"
5. MASSIVE SWITCH TO RENEWABLE ENERGY WILL CONQUER INTERNATIONAL POVERTY: BBC
6. GREEN PRAGMATISM ENCOURAGED: WASHINGTON POST
7. THE OIL REFINERY BOTTLENECK
8. THE "HOCKEYSTICK" CONTROVERSY: AN UPDATE
9. HUMAN HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCARES : NEW BOOK FROM IPN
10. GERMAN COURT STOPS GREENPEACE CAMPAIGN AGAINST MILK
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.
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.
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
From Financial Times 4/27/04
From Die Welt (Hamburg) 4/27/04
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.
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."
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.
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 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.
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: http://www.policynetwork.net/main/article.php?article_id=622
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.