|The Week That Was
June 18, 2005
G-8 will break no new ground, writes our associate in Scandinavia
(Item #1). Discussing the Statement of the national academies of sciences,
Benny Peiser puts forward a novel view: Tony Blair will use G-8 to save Europe from the Kyoto predicament (Item #2). Meanwhile the US Senate is trying in various ways to saddle the US with the quasi-Kyoto economic burden of capping CO2. (Item #3). Our hope is that the competing bills (McLieberman versus Bingaman) will cancel each other and allow Sen. Inhofe's Ratepayer Protection Act to emerge the winner.
Gerald Marsh objects to climate alarmism of the Financial Times (Item #4), while Alan Caruba and Fred Singer take on USA Today (Item #5).
The Greens complain about the G-8 draft statement (Item #6) but others in Britain have a more cheerful view (Item #7) as they explore the psychology of the Greens and their need for catastrophe.
Friends of Science (Canada) sponsor a letter to media urging pullback
from Kyoto (Item #8). And in New Zealand, government gets all balled up
on emission tax credits - illustrating the law of unintended consequences.
UK prime minister Tony Blair's effort to change the US position on climate change seems to have gotten nowhere, in spite of the relative success of campaigns to mobilize supporters in the scientific establishment and among those companies in industry that wish to appear "progressive." A draft text on climate and energy circulated in early May in connection with G8 energy ministers' meetings laid out the UK agenda on energy, but again it found only limited support from the US and some others. The summit declaration in July will probably collect language already public earlier.
Science Bodies Cross Line from Science to Politics
The UK Royal Society had attempted to gain the support of other similar scientific bodies in G8 countries, including the US National Academy of Sciences, for a statement supporting the current majority view among IPCC scientists that humans are the primary cause of recent observed warming. They succeeded in this, and also got the scientific establishments in China, India and Brazil to join in the statement, which was released to coincide with a meeting in Washington between Blair and US president George Bush.
While trying to maintain at least an appearance of balance and objectivity, the statement comes down strongly on the side of endorsing and pushing the scientific "consensus" position. It basically ignores that fact that some recent research has challenged the key IPCC finding that rests on the so-called "hockey stick" graph.
Perhaps more serious, in terms of the current climate debate, the statement crosses the important line between scientific examination and policy advocacy outside the boundaries of science. Science can and in fact must 'inform' public policy, but this is not the same as 'guiding' public policy; IPCC needs to be very clear that its reports can not tell policy makers what they should do but only facilitate informed decision making.
By crossing this invisible line between science and politics, the scientific establishment bodies have done the public, and themselves, a disservice. To the degree that future research may call for a revision or even reversal of some elements of the "consensus," the current advocacy of specific public policies could cause government to go down a wrong (and possibly very costly) road. In the process, the scientific community will have seriously undermined its own credibility and diminished its ability to provide sound and objective scientific input into future policy development in other areas.
Future historians of science are likely to look back on the current period as one in which a significant portion of the scientific community "lost its way" with regard to both basic scientific assessment and its role in the broader area of service to the general public. Scientists are also human, and much of the present confusion about how to handle the science comes from certain human traits that are common to us all.
Who says that Tony Blair really wanted to win the alarmists' climate 'gamble'? Remember that he has been saying for months that any large-scale emission caps would be harmful to both the British and global economies. Remember his speech at the World Economic Forum? Remember what he told Channel Four only six weeks ago: "I don't believe the way to tackle global warming is by introducing policies that will undermine our prosperity or economic growth" (Tony Blair, Channel Four, 25 April 2005). It is Blair's common-sensical position that will be the key focus of the G8 climate change document.
Let's face it: The old EU order and its red-green cheerleaders are disintegrating
in front of our noses. Tony Blair hasn't looked stronger for years. In
recent days, the openly Kyoto-critical Angela Merkel has even joined him
in his campaign for economic reform. There is little doubt in my mind
that Blair will sell the G8 declaration on climate change, whatever its
final version, as the only game in town. Instead of converting the US
to climate alarmism, Blair may become the political genius who could provide
the international community with a cost-effective way out of the political
and economic fiasco Kyoto has wrought on many industrialised nations.
Blair may have gambled indeed; but it would appear that it is the green
lobby and climate alarmists who are increasingly looking like losers,
while Blair might very well come out of these shenanigans (once again)
as one of the winners. How lucky can you get?
Global warming is a hot issue in Congress right now, but not just because of pressure from the usual suspects in the radical eco-activist movement. Instead, a few businesses are leading the charge - which happens to be calculated to fill their coffers at the public's expense.
Though Americans already have successfully dodged the global warming bullet twice - the Senate rejected the international treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol by a vote of 95-0 in 1997 and President Bush pulled the U.S. out of the treaty in 2001 - there are three bills in the Senate that supporters are trying to attach to the energy legislation moving through Congress.
The bill that looks like it has the most support - but not yet enough to pass at the time of this column - was introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. It favors nuclear power, mandates limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, and would make consumers financially responsible for emissions in excess of permitted levels.
Bingaman's bill was developed from the recommendations of a group calling itself the National Commission on Energy Policy - a somewhat misleading name since it has none of the federal government backing that its name implies. The NCEP, in fact, was established by a group of left-leaning private foundations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, the MacArthur Foundation and the Packard Foundation.
These foundations have supported global warming alarmism for some time and so their support of emission caps is hardly unexpected. The NCEP, however, is co-chaired by John Rowe, the chairman of Exelon Corporation, the largest operator of U.S. nuclear power plants.
While it's understandable that Exelon supports increased use of nuclear power, what seems far less above-board is the company's effort through NCEP and the Bingaman bill to tax its competitors - producers and users of oil, natural gas and coal - thereby making consumers pay higher prices for energy.
Under the Bingaman bill, for example, power plants and industrial facilities whose emissions of carbon dioxide exceed allowances (to be determined in the future by government bureaucrats) would be forced to purchase "extra" allowances from the federal government at a cost of $7 per ton of carbon dioxide released.
For a coal-burning utility company like American Electric Power, which emits more than 220 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the cost of extra allowances could be substantial and would most likely be passed on to consumers.
The Bingaman bill would make nuclear-generated electricity from the likes of Exelon more competitive price-wise with coal-generated electricity from the likes of AEP.
This might make sense if there were some tangible and worthwhile benefits to be derived from favoring nuclear power over coal, but in terms of global warming at least, there don't seem to be any.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Marlo Lewis estimates that the Bingaman bill would cost $331 billion in lost productivity between 2010 and 2025 while perhaps avoiding an insignificant 0.008 degrees Celsius of potential global warming by 2050 - a projection in line with JunkScience.com estimates that the Kyoto Protocol has cost about $49 billion since its inception in February 2005 while possibly averting about 0.05 degrees Celsius of warming by the year 2050.
Competing with the Bingaman bill is legislation introduced last year by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., which, like the Kyoto Protocol, would establish a national cap on industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. This Kyoto-in-disguise legislation would also establish a trading system under which industrial facilities could buy and sell greenhouse gas emissions allowances.
But even with its absurd provisions for trading hot air permits as if they were valuable commodities, McCain-Lieberman is a bill that only appeals to environmental activist groups. Even global warming-friendly oil company BP opposes the bill's mandatory emissions caps, in favor of a third global warming proposal - a bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., that offers tax breaks to energy companies that voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But there is yet one more Senate bill - the Ratepayers Protection Act of 2005 - that would address global warming hysteria as the quintessential junk science phenomenon it is.
Some power companies, like Duke Energy and Cinergy, have embraced global warming-mania and are starting to take steps to address their carbon dioxide emissions, the costs of which will be passed on to ratepayers (consumers).
But the Ratepayers Protection Act, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., would ensure that the costs associated with voluntary actions taken by utilities under the guise of global warming are not passed on to consumers.
"As the need for those reductions is not grounded in science, it is important that those costs are not passed on to electricity consumers," stated the bill's media release. Sen. Inhofe's bill would rightly make utility shareholders, not consumers, responsible for footing the bill of corporate management's folly concerning global warming.
While it's not likely that companies looking to profit from global warming
alarmism will support the Ratepayer Protection Act, the rest of us should
rally behind Sen. Inhofe rather than bear the costs of all this hot air
The claim by the science academies of the G8 nations (your lead editorial of 9 June 2005) that "the scientific evidence about man-made climate change is now clear enough for there to be no further excuses about the urgent need for cost-effective steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" is a political statement not a scientific fact.
While the majority of climate scientists may believe there has been some slight warming of the globe, there is no consensus that the primary cause is due to emissions of carbon dioxide by human activity. To claim that the status of the science has now exposed "the remaining sceptics as an extremist rearguard" is unjustified and insulting.
For those who believe that cost-effective steps to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions are justified in the current climate of scientific uncertainty,
there is a cheap insurance policy: vastly increase the use of nuclear
power to replace coal-fired electricity generating plants. If the environmental
impact of coal burning were made an in-house cost rather than treated
as an externality, use of nuclear power would not only greatly reduce
carbon dioxide emissions, but easily pay for itself by the reduction of
coal-burning pollution and the resulting tens of thousands of excess deaths
each year about which there is a consensus. Contrary to popular misconceptions,
nuclear power is safe, environmentally benign, and sustainable for many
thousands of years.
On June 13, USA Today declared that "The Debate's Over: Globe is Warming." That's another headline you can ignore. The world has been warming ever since the last Ice Age, but it is not rapidly warming in ways that threaten our existence, nor warming in a way that requires the industrialized nations to drastically cut back on their use of energy to avoid the many scenarios of catastrophe the Greens have been peddling since the 1980's.
Global warming is a classic scare campaign initiated by the Greens after a previous effort in the 1970s to influence public policy by declaring a coming Ice Age failed to generate any response. What we are seeing now is yet another worldwide coordinated campaign by the Greens to rescue the global warming theory from the junk heap to which it should be consigned.
In early June, the National Resources Defense Council, one of the large Green organizations, declared that, "Global warming is fast becoming the number one environmental problem of our time." It has organized an Internet campaign led by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Sen. John McCain, and other so-called environmental leaders to drum up the fears of people who know little of the real science of the Earth in order to force the US to implement the United Nations Kyoto protocol on "climate control." Anyone who thinks humans have any control over the Earth's climate is willfully ignoring the evidence that we have none.
The NRDC declared, "The world's leading scientists now agree that global warming is real and is happening right now. According to their forecasts, extreme changes in climate could produce a future in which erratic and chaotic weather, melting ice caps and rising sea levels usher in an era of drought, crop failure, famine, flood and mass extinctions." Scary, eh? One huge volcanic eruption could this. As to the weather, it is the very definition of chaos and has been for billions of years.
The good news is that leading climatologists and meteorologists are actively debunking this nonsense. One of them, Dr. S. Fred Singer, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, is in the forefront. He debunks a June 7 statement issued by several national academies of sciences just before Britain's Tony Blair arrived for talks with President Bush, saying, "The Statement simply regurgitates the contentious conclusions of the (UN) International Panel on Climate Change report of 2001, which has been disputed by credible scientists. The so-called scientific consensus is pure fiction."
Among the data he cites is the fact that, "Since 1940, there has been a 35-year-long cooling trend and not much warming in the past quarter-century, according to global data from weather satellites." Moreover, "an extrapolation of the satellite data gives at most a fraction of a degree rise for the 2lst century," adding that, "The IPCC further claims that the 20th century was the warmest in the past 100 years, but this myth is based on a seriously flawed publication. The IPCC also claims that sea levels will rise by up to nearly a meter by 2100; but every indication is that they will continue to rise inexorably and much less, as they have for nearly 20,000 years since the peak of the last Ice Age."
Bear in mind that the IPCC is a creation of the United Nations and we have all seen how corrupt that institution has become, failing to fulfill its mandate for a more peaceful world while seeking to become a world government that would destroy the sovereignty of the United States and all other nations.
Other scientists have joined Dr. Singer to dispute the global warming claims. Paul Knappenberger of the University of Virginia, says of the claims made by the science academies that, "What is missing is the scientific assessment of the potential threat. Without a threat assessment, a simple scientific finding on its own doesn't warrant any change of action, no matter how scientifically groundbreaking it might be." What passes for a threat assessment is simply the claims being made. Knappenberger noted, "The fact of the matter is that there does exist a growing body of scientific evidence that the climate changes in the coming decades will be modest and proceed at a rate that will lie somewhere near the low end of the IPCC projected temperature range."
Here's what you must keep in mind; the IPCC claims are based on what virtually every scientist knows to be seriously flawed computer models for its projections. In short, we are being asked to believe what computer engineers are telling us, not what credible climatologists and meteorologists are telling us. There isn't a computer model for the world's weather that can reliably predict the future by more than a week at best. This is why tracking the routes of hurricanes proves so difficult. This is why blizzards often turn out to be better or worse than initial projections.
Iain Murray laid into the statement of the national academies for having committed the sin of advocacy. "Climate alarmists in the scientific community now face a long retreat, while the victory of President Bush's position on the issue seems assured. Even the hopes of European intervention are dashed." The US Senate unanimously rejected signing the Kyoto protocol many years ago. "Rational nations will not take action if the costs of the action outweigh the benefits," said Murray of the protocol's demand for energy caps on emissions -- while exempting nations like China and India, each with more than a billion people.
Meanwhile, in Congress we have people like Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, seeking to introduce legislation that would put "caps" on emissions of greenhouse gases and implementing what is essentially the Kyoto protocol that the Senate rejected long ago. The US Department of Energy has estimated that a cap-and-trade program such as Bingaman proposes would cost $331 billion in lost GDP between 2010 and 2025. Other Senators like McCain and Lieberman have similar strategies. Caps are idiotic and, in my view, treasonous.
There is no scientific consensus. There is only the manipulation of public
opinion and the effort to influence public policy. There is no rapid global
warming and no way that any limits on energy use could have any effect
on it if it did exist. Global warming is a classic scare campaign and
we may well be witnessing its last desperate gasps as more and more scientists
step forward to debunk it.
Letter to USA Today
Dan Vergano (June 13) and your editorial (June 15) both claim the global warming debate is over. Not so; Senator Inhofe's response is right on the mark. Apparently, Vergano talked only to believers and to those who profit from climate scares. Five years ago, our National Academy of Sciences pointed to a serious disparity in global temperature data, many of which - like satellite measurements -- show little if any warming. Since then, the major conclusions of the UN-IPCC report have all been shown invalid. This includes the publications of Vergano's scientific sources: Michael Mann (University of Virginia) who claimed that the 20th century was the warmest in 1000 years and James Hansen (NASA) whose recent claim of "trapped energy" created by carbon dioxide emissions cannot stand up to scrutiny. Vergano also quotes Science editor Don Kennedy, a biologist not a climate scientist. I doubt whether the chairman of GE has the right scientific qualifications. I am sure the governor of California has none.
The two quotes about consequences are also debatable: The IPCC models
cannot predict the patterns of future rainfall; they give contradictory
results. Sea level will continue to rise by only seven inches per century
-as it has for thousands of years -- no matter what we do or what the
EPA says. And temperatures in the next 100 years will likely rise by less
than one degree F - not exactly a catastrophe. (More detail on www.sepp.org)
LONDON, June 15 (Reuters) - A new draft communique on climate change for next month's Group of Eight summit has removed plans to fund research and put into question top scientists' warnings that global warming is already under way.
The text seen by Reuters, titled Gleneagles Plan of Action and dated June 14, has been watered down from a previous draft which itself had no specific targets or timetables for action.
The latest draft also explicitly endorses the use of "zero-carbon" nuclear power -- another development that will dismay many environmentalists three weeks before the summit of the world's eight richest nations at Gleneagles in Scotland.
"The text is getting weaker and weaker. There are no targets, no timetables, no standards -- and even the money is gone," a source close to the negotiations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"You are looking at a very, very serious problem for Blair," the source added.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has pledged to put the fight against climate change at the heart of Britain's year-long presidency of the G8. He visited three G8 leaders in two days this week to drum up support for his priorities.
The leaders of the G8 and major developing nations South Africa, Brazil, India, Mexico and China will meet at the heavily guarded Gleneagles countryside hotel, 40 miles (65 km) northwest of the Scottish capital Edinburgh, from July 6-8.
But the United States, questioning the scientific basis for global warming, refuses to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol that finally came into force in February aimed cutting emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The new draft starkly illustrates the weakening process that has gone
on in just six weeks.
Research Funding Disappears
All references in a draft dated May 3 to unspecified dollar funds for research and development into new, clean technology and fuels have been excised from the latest version.
References in the May 3 draft to "setting ambitious targets and timetables" for cutting carbon emissions from buildings has completely disappeared from the June 14 text.
Even a suggestion that the developed world has a duty of leadership in combatting global warming is given the square bracket brush off.
A section on managing the impacts of climate change which previously talked about global warming happening and bringing with it more floods, droughts, crop failures and rising sea levels now contains just one reference to the global crisis. And even that is in square brackets, indicating that there is deep disagreement over its inclusion.
Scientists have warned that the planet could warm by at least two degrees centigrade this century, bringing with it more gales and floods and rising sea levels, threatening coastal communities and disrupting food supplies.
Most also agree that the change is already happening, is due in part to human activities like burning coal and oil, and will continue for some time whatever is done now.
But U.S. President George W. Bush and his scientific advisers question
the scope and scale of the problem and do not agree that people are a
serious contributor to it.
[...] Speaking of which, there has been some rethinking about global warming that has made me squirm. I am not talking about whether climate change is happening - there seems to be just too much solid evidence that it is. No, the question is whether it is a disaster or a good thing, overall.
There are serious scientists who point out that cooling down generally hurts biodiversity more than warming up; that climate change could help boost rainforest growth and spread trees and agriculture to new areas of the world; that the seas around us could seethe with new life; and that with the political will, global warming need not spread hunger or create impossible human disruption.
This is not the place, and I am not expert enough, to assess whether that is true or not. Selfishly, I'm more interested in my own reaction, which is queasy and half-appalled. At some level, the thought of looming environmental catastrophe gets me up in the morning, a pleasant dirge in my heart. Once, I needed looming nuclear disaster to keep interested.
When that went, climate change came along just in time: any sneaking suspicion that everything might be all right after all is profoundly unsettling.
What's going on here? Is it native Scottish pessimism, getting close to my inner Private Frazer? Do some of us need the thought of impending disaster to keep going - as in Cavafy 's poem about a Roman city waiting for barbarian attack, which doesn't come: "Now what's going to happen to us without the barbarians? / They were, those people, a kind of solution."
Or is it that journalists, with our notorious inability to contemplate
boredom, simply find mild progress too dull? Ah well, if by any chance
global warming does prove to be beneficial, there's always viral mutation.
Real science is based on the precept that constructive, intelligent debate is not only welcome but essential to progress. However, as you can see from the Daily Telegraph article at <http://www.sepp.org/NewSEPP/Censorship.htm>, censorship is now rampant by important science journals and governmental organizations, such as the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Climate-change science is in danger of losing its status as real science. Instead, it is increasingly used as a convenient tool by governments and special-interest groups, more interested in pushing their political agenda than in promoting policies that protect the environment.
A prime example of this growing trend is previous Prime Minister Jean Chretien's single-handed ratification of Kyoto and Canada's subsequent climate-change policies. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mr. Chretien entirely ignored our open letter (signed by Canadian and US climate scientists) urging his government to convene unbiased science hearings on Kyoto before ratification [You can see our letter at http://www.envirotruth.org/openletter.cfm].
The situation is no better with current Prime Minister Paul Martin -- as he continues to ignore even his own country's leading experts in the field. The following open letter to Mr. Martin - http://www.sepp.org/NewSEPP/LttrtoPaulMartin.html - was also ignored. Apparently, Environment Canada has no qualms about developing climate change policy contrary to the opinions of leading international non-governmental climate scientists.
Thousands of scientists from many countries now fully understand that Kyoto and other efforts to control human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are ineffective and entirely unfounded scientifically. Even if you ignore the enormous cost of Kyoto (estimated recently by Prof. George Taylor of Oregon State University (see http://www.sitewave.net/news/s49p628.htm) at one trillion US dollars a year for full implementation in OECD countries), climate science research is rapidly moving AWAY from the hypothesis that the human release of greenhouse gases, specifically CO2, is in any way significantly contributing to global climate change. The 23 minute video on-line at http://www.friendsofscience.org/index.php?ide=3 explains this well, and I encourage you to take the time to view this presentation in which eight leading climate experts - six from Canada, one from the US (not myself), and one from New Zealand - dispel many of the more serious Kyoto science myths.
I would be pleased to speak with you further about this. My coordinates follow:
S. Fred Singer, Ph.D.
New Zealand earlier projected a 33 million tonne surplus. However, the convenor of the ministerial group on climate change Pete Hodgson as told a parliamentary select committee that New Zealand now faces a 30 million tonne deficit. On current estimates he said this amount would place this country about a billion dollars in hock.
The admission comes after a week of debate surrounding forestry owners attempts to sidestep liability under the Kyoto protocol. The Forest Owners Association claimed people are hacking down their immature forests at a great rate to avoid the Kyoto liability for trees planted before 1990, but cut down after 2007. [Under New Zealand's calculations on carbon credits for the Kyoto Protocol, trees cut down from 2008 onwards will incur a penalty.]
The government says it will carry the liability for post 1990 forests
that aren't replanted. It says it will do the same for pre 1990 forests,
but only to a cap of up to 10% of the total forests. Forest Owners say
this imminent liability is scaring foresters into felling their trees
down early and converting to other land uses.