|The Week That Was
Mar. 5, 2005
New on the Web: Geologist David Deming (U of OK) reviews Michael Crichton's State of Fear and relates it to the gradual breakdown of the scientific arguments that the IPCC uses as evidence for anthropogenic Global Warming. In her review of the book, Elizabeth M. Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, relates it to the fear of chemicals, another phobia cultivated by environmental NGOs (Item #1).
We continue with Chemophobia (Item #2). First, the classic DDT, but surprisingly -- in the NY Times; then perchlorates and Teflon. Then, the "Spitzer effect," the growing tendency for attorneys-general and other politically ambitious state officials to take action while claiming that federal regulations are not strict enough. It's astounding how many forget: "It's the dose that makes the poison." Any substance will poison in large enough amounts.
And were you aware that the first global health treaty has just gone into force. No, not Kyoto, but the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, ratified so far by 57 nations, but not by China and the US. Will it be effective? Find out what it calls for (See Item #3). It targets so-called second-hand smoke - even though its harmful effects are disputed. They will soon outlaw cigarette lighters and even matches. The treaty has no targets, carries no penalties. It does have a new UN bureaucracy and calls for financial help to poor countries so they can set one up too. So what else is new? I fully expect that they will soon have annual meetings of the Parties to the Treaty to discuss its goals and how to enforce them. Shades of Kyoto and COP
And as we reminisce about Kyoto, let's see how countries are meeting its targets. A German government report (which another branch has tried to suppress) exposes the financial fraud of wind power (in which Germany leads the world), while a Danish report points to lack of reliability of supply. (There are also safety problems from turbine blades breaking off.) (Item #4). Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Cal, the Rancho Seco nuclear plant remains shut while the city foists unreliable and expensive solar energy on its electricity users. (Item #5). California deserves blackouts! Finally, the automobile industry is challenging California's attempt to introduce CO2 caps via car emission standards (Item #6). [Caution: The story is written by an affiliate of the notorious Institute for Policy Studies and cites favorably the opinions of the Union of Concerned Scientists.]
Turning to climate issues, we were pleased to see the favorable press coverage generated by the Scientific Alliance's London conference APOCALYPSE -NO! (Item #7). We were particularly gratified by the notice in Chemistry World, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. [Recall that global warming fanatic Sir David King is himself a chemist.] We only wish that the American Chemical Society's Chemical & Engineering News would follow suit.
The BBC sticks to its alarmist position, as is evident from the critical letter by Neil Craig (Item #8). But in Australia, GW skeptics are going strong, centered on the Lavoisier Society, named after the famous French chemist (Item #9). Continuing with climate science, many believe that rising CO2 levels may avoid or at least postpone an inevitable new ice age (Item #10). Bill Ruddiman's ideas even penetrated to the current issue of - dare we say it - the Scientific American (March 2005). Finally, Ray Evans discusses the quasi-religious nature of GW promotion (Item #11).
With the fall of the Hockeystick, the GW proponents are taking a licking - esp. as former promoters like Hans von Storch have emerged as critics (Item #12). Even climate modeler Ulrich Cubash has now joined the critics, complaining that Hockeystick originator Michael Mann won't release his data and algorithms to permit independent checks (for details see http://www.climateaudit.org ). Cubash points out, however, that this debacle does not invalidate the IPCC 's main conclusion (Item #13).
An interesting point: Cubash is correct, of course. The IPCC claim based on the widely promoted Hockeystick, that the 20th century is "unusually" warm, never proved that the warming was of human origin. The IPCC can still point to two other claims; unfortunately for them, these are also phony. As shown by Douglass, Pearson, and Singer (Geophys Res Lett 9July 2004), the observed temperature trends of surface and atmosphere of the past quarter-century are in disagreement with the results of climate models. And the IPCC claims that models can fit the surface data of the 20th century are nothing more than exercises in "curve-fitting" with judicious choices of arbitrary model parameters. This latter fact is beautifully demonstrated by the model results (published in Nature 27 Jan. 2005) that show climate sensitivities ranging from 1.9 to 11.5 degC, depending entirely on "tweaking" of certain atmospheric parameters dealing with clouds.
We are currently questioning the authors of the Nature paper about
the details of the tweaking but have so far received no replies. We are
considering further steps to smoke out the information.
New York, NY, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The master of techno-suspense, Michael Crichton, has a new thriller heading for the top of the best-seller lists. In "State of Fear," Crichton -- a Harvard Medical School graduate -- confronts the conventional wisdom that the Earth is becoming dangerously warm, causing dire environmental and health consequences (flooding, agricultural destruction, disease, and more) that will only get worse unless the villain (U.S. industry, with its nasty habit of burning fossil fuels) is brought to its knees and held accountable.
Crichton's storyline portrays those working in the alleged public interest by protesting global warming as clinging to unproven scientific hypotheses, demanding action to solve a crisis that may not exist.
Readers quickly become aware that his fictional characters support a political and ideological cause rather than a scientific one. In the course of his novel -- and the accompanying non-fictional author's notes -- Crichton skewers those who hyperbolize about the risks of global warming and attribute its root causes to irresponsible actions of profit-hungry corporations. He targets the narrow-mindedness and stubbornness of radical environmentalists, their unwillingness to examine data that conflict with their agenda. He zaps those advocates who dismiss their critics -- not by addressing the points of scientific debate -- but by claiming that each and every critic is an industry stooge.
In a particularly insightful exchange, Crichton presents an attorney who rejects any studies skeptical of global warming as being "supported by the coal industry." The attorney is challenged by the book's scientific hero, who notes that the lawyer himself represents environmental groups and thus could just as easily be characterized as a stooge and spokesman for a well-funded cause.
Crichton's book focuses on the lack of scientific merit for the hypothesis that rapid industrialization has caused a warming of the Earth. But his theme -- the politicization and misuse of science -- applies to a broad range of other junk science issues.
Indeed, "State of Fear" could have focused on the radical environmentalists' campaign to terrorize people about carcinogens -- defined as chemicals that cause cancer when fed in high doses to laboratory animals.
Like the mantra "burning fossil fuels causes life-threatening global warming," the claim that a chemical that causes cancer in high doses in lab animals must be assumed to cause cancer even at low dose in humans is the gospel of today's self-appointed consumer and environmental groups (and their allies in the media and regulatory agencies).
The "rodent as little man" premise has caused countless cancer scares -- from the great cranberry scare of 1959 to the scares over cyclamate (1969), saccharin (1977), Alar (1989) and acrylamide (2002), just to mention a few. It has also spawned extraordinarily expensive laws, regulations, and product labeling, ostensibly to protect consumers from chemicals that cause cancer in rodents.
But -- much as Crichton argues relative to global warming and its alleged causes -- the emperor has no clothes when it comes to using animal tests to predict human cancer risk. There is absolutely no justification for assuming that a chemical that causes cancer in a rodent must therefore be assumed to cause cancer in humans. Indeed, the findings of cancer tests on mice cannot reliably predict cancer in rats, much less humans.
Crichton pored over years of climate data when he wrote his latest book, only to conclude that -- if global warming exists -- the claim that industrialization caused it is another naked emperor.
A memo to MC: Please consider focusing your next novel on the sham of animal cancer testing to predict human cancer risk. The arguments against assuming "a mouse is a little man" are compelling:
-- An impressive percentage of everyday natural foods (mushrooms, peanuts, coffee, spices, and more) contain chemicals that cause cancer in animals, but trace levels of animal carcinogens -- whether from natural or synthetic sources -- are everywhere and pose no apparent harm to us.
-- The high doses used in animal cancer tests are themselves enough to cause malignancies, overshadowing whatever the effect of the specific chemical being tested might be.
-- The doses used in animal cancer tests are totally unrelated to human exposures to those chemicals. For example, the amount of saccharin a consumer might ingest is worlds apart from the huge, near-lethal amounts fed to rodents.
-- There is no evidence from human studies that animal carcinogens, like saccharin, cyclamates, acrylamide, and the other carcinogens in the news, cause cancer in people. Indeed, with respect to the artificial sweeteners, there is evidence from studies of diabetics -- who use lots of sugar substitutes -- that they do not cause an increased frequency of cancer.
-- Terrorizing consumers about the animal carcinogen du jour has the unintended consequence of distracting us from the real, preventable causes of human cancer, including cigarette smoking and overexposure to sunlight.
"State of Fear" is about the myths of climate change, but hopefully
it will spur consumer skepticism about the other myriad scares we confront
today, putting the spotlight on contemporary, real-life advocates who,
like the characters in this techno-thriller, twist and distort scientific
facts to achieve their ideological goals -- ones primarily characterized
by an antipathy toward industry.
DDT's Role in Combating Malaria: Nicholas Kristof, a regular op-ed
columnist for The New York Times, observed in a recent column that "mosquitoes
kill 20 times more people each year than the tsunami did, and in the long
war between humans and mosquitoes it looks as if mosquitoes are winning."
Kristof suggests that one of the most effective things Western countries
could do to provide relief in the wake of the tsunami would be to ease
restrictions on the use of DDT for mosquito control. In general, the U.N.
and Western donor agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for International
Development, do not provide funding for mosquito control projects that
include the use of DDT. Kristof pointed to the success of DDT when used
selectively, emphasizing that 450,000 people can be protected in the developing
world with the same amount of DDT that was applied in the 1960s to a single
1,000-acre American cotton farm. He also quotes officials from the World
Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace as saying that the use of DDT is acceptable
when necessary for anti-malaria programs.
Mothers Worry About Chemicals in Breast Milk: In a feature article
for February 9, 2005, The New York Times, environmental writer Florence
Williams, a nursing mother, advocates for breast feeding while speculating
about the possible effects of chemical contaminants in breast milk. The
article pays particular attention to brominated flame-retardants, but
chlorinated compounds such as PCBs and DDT are mentioned several times.
The in-depth article acknowledges that researchers do not yet know if
any health effects would occur from the trace levels of chemicals usually
found in breast milk. It does report many of the positive health outcomes
to breast-fed children. However the article infers the need for greater
testing and regulation of chemicals. The author does quote David Ropeik
of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis in saying "the mom who lets
her kids get sunburned and worries about PBDE's is worrying about the
Researchers Question Safe Perchlorate Levels: Researchers at Texas
Tech University report that in a limited study of 36 samples, levels of
perchlorate in human breast milk were found to be well above thresholds
proposed in a report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that
was released last month. According to the Texas Tech study, which appears
in Environmental Science & Technology, perchlorate was found in breast-milk
samples at an average concentration of 10.5 parts per billion, and was
also detected in 46 out of 47 dairy milk samples, at an average level
of two ppb. According to The Wall Street Journal, the study raises questions
for EPA, which officially adopted the NAS threshold limits last month.
EPA has not indicated that it will use the new thresholds to change perchlorate
standards for drinking water, but has noted that the NAS threshold recommendation
includes a safety factor to shield sensitive populations such as children
and pregnant or nursing women.
The Attack On Teflon Won't Stick: By Terrence Scanlon, March 4, 2005. Last September -- after being hounded for years by environmentalists, trial lawyers, panicked residents and the EPA -- DuPont Corp. agreed to pay $340 million to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming it "contaminated" water supplies in Ohio and West Virginia with the chemical PFOA. PFOA is used to make Dupont's popular non-stick product, Teflon.
Approximately 20 years ago, I studied the Teflon issue when I was chairman
of the Consumer Products Safety Commission. The health and safety concerns
were unfounded then and they are unfounded now.
EWG is a client of Fenton Communications, a public relations firm whose
founder, David Fenton, is on EWG's board of directors. Fenton orchestrated
the 1989 Alar scare campaign, targeting mothers. Fenton's clients include
dozens of other extreme environmental groups and high-powered plaintiffs'
law firms, while the Environmental Working Group's funding comes from
a host of left-wing foundations and the Association of Trial Lawyers of
America. Trial lawyers, of course, have their own vested interests in
generating lucrative class-action lawsuits against corporate "poisoners."
The "Spitzer Effect" Is Spreading: The Washington Post
recently looked at how state attorneys general are increasingly taking
up regulatory and legal challenges on issues that have traditionally been
the provenance of federal regulators. Dubbed the "Spitzer Effect,"
AGs in states including Connecticut, Ohio, California and others have
followed the lead of New York attorney general Elliot Spitzer in pursuing
issues where they feel federal regulations are inadequate, such as emission
controls, securities fraud, and pharmaceutical marketing. Like Spitzer,
the AGs in many of these states are considered to have aspirations for
higher office, and relish the attention that these high-profile cases
provide. According to the Post, the trend of state-initiated actions is
likely to accelerate in President Bush's second term, as Democratic state
officials attempt to counter market-oriented approaches favored by the
The world's first global health treaty - the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - has come into force. The anti-smoking pact has been signed by 168 countries, and ratified by 57 of them, which will now have to tighten their anti-tobacco laws.
Key requirements of treaty
The World Health Organization has designed the FCTC to force countries to implement stricter tobacco legislation. Dr Douglas Bettcher, the co-coordinator of the FCTC Unit, explained why the world needed binding international law on tobacco:
The industry had initially opposed the treaty but Dr Chris Procter of
British American Tobacco says that on the whole it is a good thing: How
effective the treaty will be remains to be seen.
Worldwide Anti-Tobacco Treaty Takes Effect
GENEVA, Feb. 27 (AP) - A global anti-tobacco treaty came into effect on Sunday, but a leading expert said it needed strengthening quickly if it was to be effective in curbing smoking, which claims five million lives a year. The treaty requires countries that ratify it to restrict tobacco advertising and sponsorship, put tougher health warnings on cigarettes and limit use of language like "low tar" and "light."
Of the 168 countries that signed the accord, only 57 have ratified it. China and the United States are among those that have not ratified the pact. Dr. Derek Yach, the World Health Organization's former anti-tobacco chief and the official who oversaw the drafting of the treaty, hailed the accord, known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, as a first step. However, he said late last week that the treaty lacked what the United Nations called protocols - additional agreements that toughen specific areas of a looser accord." The framework without protocols is toothless," Dr. Yach said. "Yet even preliminary work on these is over a year from even being discussed, let alone planned for."
The ratifying nations are to enact price and tax increases, create controls on secondhand smoke and sales of cigarettes to youngsters, and clamp down on smuggling. Dr. Yach, who is now professor of global public health at Yale University, was deeply involved in four years of often-bitter negotiations brokered by the W.H.O., the United Nations health agency.
The treaty, which was completed in May 2003, aims to reduce substantially the number of deaths from tobacco-related illnesses, like cancer and heart disease, which the W.H.O. estimates kills one smoker every 6.5 seconds. The world has an estimated 1.2 billion smokers and W.H.O. surveys show that smoking rates among 13- to 15-year-old children are about 20 percent. Health officials say they fear those figures will explode as the world's population grows. By 2010, the annual death toll is expected to double, to 10 million - with 70 percent of the victims in developing countries least able to pay for treating smoking-related illnesses.
Dr. Yach said governments, particularly those with few anti-tobacco policies,
needed clear, exact guidelines on what they should do to carry out the
treaty. "Evidence suggests that the only way to have a rapid impact
on deaths from tobacco is to step up cessation efforts and combine them
with smoke-free policies," he said. But he said the treaty was "relatively
weak on these issues." With the new rules in place, studies suggest
the demand for cigarettes would fall only 1 percent to 2 percent a year,
W.H.O. officials have said. "No targets were ever discussed"
for the treaty, "so we do not have a sense of what constitutes success,"
Dr. Yach said. He also said poor countries would need substantial financial
help in carrying out the treaty's provisions. Ratifying countries that
fail to enact reforms face no penalties.
Wind farms are an expensive and inefficient way of generating sustainable energy, according to a study from Germany, the world's leading producer of wind energy. It costs €41-€77 ($50-90) to avoid emitting a tonne of carbon dioxide by using wind energy, the report says. The report by the German government-backed agency says it will cost Germany 1.1bn euro (£700 million) to link its wind farms to the national grid - which it must do if it is to reach its target of 20% of energy coming from renewable sources by 2015. With more than 15,000 turbines, the nation has the most wind farms in the world.
The report, which may have ramifications for the UK's rapidly growing wind-farm industry, concludes that instead of spending billions on building new wind turbines, the emphasis should be on making houses more energy efficient. Drawn up by the German government's energy agency, it says that wind farms prove a costly form of reducing greenhouse gases.
The study is likely to feed the bitter debate on whether Britain should continue to emulate Germany and dramatically expand its wind farm programme. Germany has the largest number of wind farms in the world, producing more wind energy than Denmark, Spain and the US put together.
The UK's wind power movement is the fastest growing in the world, with up to £10bn (`$20 billion)expected to be invested in the next five years, attracting government subsidies of roughly £1bn.
But more than 100 national and local groups, led by some of Britain's most prominent environmentalists, including David Bellamy, Sir Crispin Tickell, and James Lovelock, have argued that wind power is inefficient, destroys the countryside and makes little difference to Britain's soaring carbon emissions.
"At last. This report confirms what we have been saying," said Angela Kelly, director of Country Guardian, an umbrella group for the anti-wind-power lobby. "Wind power is three times more expensive than conventional electricity. It is a scandalous waste of taxpayers' money."
A government spokeswoman said the UK was in a different position to Germany.
Anti-wind farm groups say the revelation, from a country which in some
areas already has 20% of its energy supplied by wind power, confirmed
their views. They also said government grants paid to the sector meant
the taxpayer was subsidising "this madness".
Experts Show Official Wind Power Claims Are Hot Air
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build thousands of wind turbines across Scotland will make almost no difference to greenhouse gas levels, according to new research by leading environmental scientists. The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies says that even on the most optimistic assumptions, renewable sources of energy, such as wind power, will have only a "minor impact" on reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The report, by one of the UK's leading think tanks on energy policy, is a serious setback for the Scottish Executive. Ministers hope to convince voters that around 70 new wind farms will make a significant contribution to slashing carbon dioxide levels by at least 20% over the next 15 years.
But the institute's report argues that previous experience shows governments fail to meet their targets for building wind farms, and even when they do deliver their promises, they have little impact on greenhouse gas levels.
Other technologies, such as nuclear energy, which produces no carbon dioxide, now deserve to be given closer consideration by ministers, even if they are unpopular with voters, the report says.
New nuclear power stations in countries such as France have played a
major role in reducing carbon dioxide levels over the past two decades,
it adds. But reliance on renewables and energy efficiency measures "is
not a proven or reliable way of making big carbon dioxide reductions".
During the windstorm of Jan 8, 2005 output dropped by 95% and stayed
well under target for nearly two days. See animation
From Clinton Bastin
A battle between car manufacturers and the government of the U.S. state of California, which is trying to sharply cut so-called greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, could have national and even international repercussions, activists say.
NEW YORK, Feb 26 (IPS) - The U.S. transportation system alone gives off more carbon dioxide, the leading culprit behind climate change, than any other national economy, except China, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, based in the eastern state of Virginia.
With the George W. Bush administration contesting the scientific consensus
on global warming, many U.S. states are pursuing their own strategies
to clear the skies. And few have been more aggressive than the western
state of California, which adopted a law last September that is the first
in the world to require limits on so-called greenhouse gas emissions from
passenger vehicles. The new rules give car companies a decade to achieve
a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in all new vehicles
sold in the state
So far, clean- car bills similar to California's have passed in seven northeastern states: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont.
Not surprisingly, the California law is being challenged in court by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, which together represent the world's major auto companies. Most carmakers recognise that air pollution and global warming is a problem, but they argue that the California standard is unrealistic and would end up costing consumers thousands of dollars in higher vehicle prices.
They also say that California has exceeded its authority in trying to set a uniform fuel economy standard, which is the purview of the federal government.
The car manufacturers ''have a very short-term investment strategy that hasn't proven to be a prudent business model. Japan has been winning over market share for decades,'' the Union of Concerned Scientists told Tierramérica. ''Ultimately at stake in this lawsuit is transforming the auto industry in the United States.''
UCS says technology exists today to cut emissions by 20 percent in all new vehicles sold in California, using improvements in air conditioning systems, engines, and transmissions, as well as reductions in vehicle loads. And, according to the group, new technologies still on the horizon could help reduce emissions a total of 40 percent over the next five years.
AAM spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist said, ''the auto industry already spends billions developing advanced technology vehicles. We have more than 30 models that are on sale or in development.'' It would take up to 16 years for buyers of the cleaner vehicles to recoup in fuel savings the higher price tag of those cars (between 1,000 to 3,000 dollars). ''Even if there's a payback down the road, consumers are reluctant to take on the added cost,'' she said.
The new legislation was received with some scepticism by Japanese carmaker Toyota, which has sold 100,000 hybrid cars in the United States since 2000, and is part of the California Fuel Cell Partnership, a collaboration of auto manufacturers, energy companies, fuel cell companies, and government agencies working to advance cleaner vehicle technology.
''We're sympathetic to the goals of the legislation, but we think it's not workable,'' Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman, told Tierramérica.
She said the company considers global warming ''a serious issue, and all Toyota affiliates worldwide ''have to formulate five-year action plans on a number of environmental issues, including carbon dioxide emissions.''
Hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles, which get better gas mileage with less tailpipe pollution, also appear to be slowly catching on amongst the wider public, especially with oil prices hitting record highs.
The federal government currently offers a tax incentive of up to 2,000 dollars for consumers who choose a hybrid, but that will be cut to 500 dollars next year and eliminated altogether in 2007.
Some Asian carmakers, which have been in the vanguard of industry efforts to improve its ''green'' profile, have announced plans to increase energy efficiency in factories and expand production of eco-friendly vehicles. Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's biggest automaker, said Monday that it had launched a task force to ''systematically'' comply with the Kyoto Protocol.
Next year, Toyota plans to unveil two hybrid sports utility vehicles -- a highly popular model in the United States -- and pledges to cut carbon emissions by 10 percent from 1990 levels by 2010.
''The Japanese companies are run by engineers, but the U.S. companies are run by accountants,'' said UCS activist Mark. ''And we've seen dramatically different results.''
Ford Motor did not have anyone available to respond to Tierramérica's questions.
(*Originally published Feb. 19 by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.)
7. COVERAGE OF APOCALYPSE NO:
Don't Panic; Is It Getting Hot In Here?
UK reports of global warming are greatly exaggerated, say members of
the Scientific Alliance, a non-profit organisation for scientists and
non-scientists who say they are committed to rational discussion and debate
on the challenges facing the environment.
Global Warming? We Need It To Prevent An Ice Age
There was a time when people were cheered by the first signs of spring
in their garden or local park. Not any more: the mere appearance of a
budding tree is seized on by environmentalists as proof positive that
our seasons are being driven haywire by climate change and It's All Our
The Danger Is Hot Air, Not Global Warming
To lift Africa from the ravages of poverty and Aids would to most world
leaders seem a big enough topic to fill a single speech. But not Tony
Blair. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, the Prime
Minister moved swiftly between the subjects of Africa and climate change.
"On both," he said, "there are differences which need to
be reconciled. If they could be reconciled or at least moved forward,
it would make a huge difference to the prospects of international unity,
as well as to people's lives and our future survival."
Evidence Of Green Effrontery
Green lobbyists have always been good at getting their retaliation in
first. A whiff of GM pollen, carbon dioxide or nuclear fuel, and the press
releases come thick and fast.
Climate Change Impact Disputed
Here is the truth about global warming: it is an anti-capitalist agenda,
a Machiavellian political plot and a convenient rumour started by bungling
Japanese pineapple farmers. It is a front for paranoia about immigration,
an incitement to civil war, and the reason that the world's attention
was distracted from the risk of a tsunami. And it hasn't killed as many
people as Hitler or Stalin.
Cool Heads Required: As Long As Climate Change Debate Is Fuelled By
Politics, The Science Will Remain Up In The Air
At a recent global warming conference in Exeter called by UK Prime Minister
Tony Blair, all the usual fears were aired. Yet real debate about climate
change seems to be strictly prohibited.
Climate Change: The Debate Is Warming
Climate change activists are coming under fire from two sides in London.
One band of opponents is trying to shoot them down for exaggerating the
problem. A second group argues that although global temperatures are set
to rise, money should be spent first on more immediate crises in developing
countries, such as lack of clean water.
Let's Debate The Science
It is clear that many GW promoters feel themselves under threat. They can't get away anymore by dismissing skeptics by calling them names (flat earthers, contrarians, lackeys of the oil industry, creeps, greenwashers --- the list is endless, the worst being environmental terrorists). They will have to engage in proper scientific debate, which they so far have managed to avoid. One can only get away with crying Wolf for so long.
One example of increased global warming scare mongering was a scientific
symposium earlier this month (1-3 Feb), organised by the UK Met Office,
on the instigation of Prime Minister Tony Blair. The title of this symposium
was "Avoiding dangerous climate change. A scientific symposium on
stabilisation of greenhouse gases." It was obvious from the title
that this scientific symposium was not about discussing the science of
climate change. Beforehand it was accepted that climate change will be
dangerous and that greenhouse gases have to be stabilised (the objective
of the Kyoto Protocol, of course).
8. BBC Bias Exposed
I have just seen the Horizon programme on global dimming which is the alleged reduction in global temperature by pollution caused by evil industrialists. This is apparently the cause of famine in Africa (rather than the incompetence & wars of local governments conventionally blamed).
This is not to be confused with global warming which is, according to the normal BBC line, caused by evil industrialists & is the cause of disaster worldwide.
May I say that the almost continuous use of eerie mood music to show how we are all "Doomed, doomed" throughout the documentary was not really consistent with a scientific programme.
I do not say that the basic claims about dimming are wrong, although it is clearly too early to be sure either way. What this really proves is:
A) That we do not know. The hypotheses about various sorts of climate change are all unproven theories that require much more research rather than being treated as an uncritical scare story. The "declaration of war on fire" that is the Kyoto system, which the BBC so completely, in its impartial way supports, is clearly, at the very least an expensive, simplistic & very partial solution to a problem that may not exist.
B) That pro-active methods of climate control (in this case deliberately seeding the stratosphere with microscopically pulverised dust) are potentially vastly cheaper & more effective, if less scary, methods of solving any actual problems of global warming/cooling.
If the BBC is to continue its traditional stance of leaning neither on the one hand towards partiality, nor on the other towards impartiality, Horizon should be devoting at least a little time to reporting the doubts about & alternative solutions to climate change, not involving increasing worldwide government controls on our lives.
9. Climate Change Made Easy - It's The Sun
Consensus is not science, but politics; and the advancement of scientific understanding is not a matter of voting. The scientific consensus invoking a stable pre-industrial climate, disturbed only now by human intervention, is nonsense. Scientists seeking to regain the (imaginary) stability of those halcyon days must first stabilise the Sun.
The 300-year warming trend since the Maunder Minimum has followed the Sun, because its energetic eruptions drive our ever-changing climate. Global warming occurs at times of increasing solar activity; and the resulting magnetically-modulated reduction in Earth's cloudiness leads to reduced reflectance, increased penetration of the Sun's little-varying irradiance, and more solar heat reaching Earth's surface. Calculated eruptive variability matches climatic history during the Mediaeval Maximum and subsequent Little Ice Age minima; and since 1940, the Sun has been more active than at any time in the past millennium. Similar calculation predicts the Landscheidt Minimum at 2030.
The Global Climate Shift of 1976/7 is the most influential climatic event for 50 years; and is the latest warming step in a 60-yr warm/cold cycle overprinted on the longer-term warming trend. The last cooling step was in the 1940s; and both are associated with vast changes in upwelling quantity of cold, deep water in the equatorial eastern Pacific. While oceanic heat transportation and its variability are "redistribution" not "warming", the consequent changes in sea-surface temperature drive global climate on decadal scales. At the intra-decadal level, El Niño/La Niña upwelling events in the Pacific influence climate in similar fashion. All involve exchange of angular momentum between stony Earth and its fluid overcoat of oceans and atmosphere. These are inertial events, as confirmed by changes in Earth's rotation rate. Humans can't do that.
The Summary for Policymakers of IPCC's Third Assessment Report "Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis" ignores two prominent clues: variable eruptive activity on the Sun, and variable length-of-day on Earth. IPCC's Summary forsakes science in favour of catastrophism; in particular, it:
* Portrays (Figure 1b) a stable pre-industrial climate during 1000-1900AD
- despite hundreds of peer-reviewed papers to the contrary in reputable
IPCC's high-end case has CO2 growing from 380 now to an amazing 970 ppm by 2100 = 5.80C warming. Not implausibly, it has US per-capita GDP growing x5, from 22 in the 1990 base year to 114 in 2100 (all in 1990 US$ thousands); but it grants LDCs an almost-unimaginable average of x65. Last century, the Japanese economic miracle was x20. IPCC favours South Africa - the world's most carbon-intensive economy (coal is 76% of primary energy use) - with x170 from 2.8 to 474 by 2100; and awards China/India (also carbon-intensive - coal 68/54%) a healthy x240/120. From such hats it pulled its CO2 rabbit; an average annual increase of 1.5 ppm since 1960, becomes 6 ppm from now on.
IPCC's authoritative-sounding analysis is worthless as a guide to policymakers;
but it has triggered a blizzard of assertion by mainstream opinion-formers:
Why not reduce CO2 pollution anyway? Because this gas is no 'pollutant', but a natural atmospheric constituent and vital plant food. Its concentration in the early Cenozoic was x5 that of now, and many of our land-plant families evolved in a high-CO2 environment. Commercial growers enrich greenhouses with it, so their vegetables grow better. Satellite observations during 24 years of atmospheric CO2 increase, see continental greening.
The mainstream offers a bogus choice: decarbonise the global economy
("decarbonise" means impoverish), or face climatic retribution
- only by giving alms to the greenhouse industry shall we be saved. But
the intangible, distant, and global nature of 'greenhouse catastrophe'
enables policymakers to ignore irreversible regional and local environmental
threats. Genuine current threats will remain unaddressed for as long as
the growing army of greenhouse rent-seekers controls the green agenda.
Global warming disasters may be much ado about nothing. In fact, a team of climatologists concludes that man-made greenhouse gases may have averted a potential ice age, according to new research.
Scientists traditionally attribute the Earth's climate stability over the past 10,000 years to natural causes. But the climate team's research, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, shows that human intervention may have played a part:
o Changes in solar radiation and greenhouse gas concentrations should have moved the earth towards glacial conditions over the last few thousand years.
o However, ancient and modern human activity have produced higher levels of carbon dioxide during the past 8,000 years, delaying the onset of another ice age.
o Researchers attribute many pre-industrial activities to the increase of greenhouse gas, such as early deforestation in Eurasia, rice farming in Asia, the introduction of livestock, and the burning of wood and plant material.
The team, led by William Ruddiman from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, modeled what might happen if greenhouse gases remained at their natural levels. They found:
o Global temperatures would be cooler by 2 degrees Celsius than they are today.
o The Earth would be about one-third of the way toward full glacial temperatures.
Source: Rhiannon Edward, "Man-made Greenhouse Gases Saved World
From Big Freeze," Scotsman, January 24, 2005; and William Ruddiman,
et al., "A Test of the Overdue-glaciation Hypothesis," Quaternary
Science Reviews, vol. 24, no. 1, January 2005.
11. Interview with Ray Evans
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ray Evans' article "Is the Atlantic Rift Unbridgeable?"
My understanding of it is that the European Union itself is in desperate need of legitimacy; a legitimising principle which will draw the Europeans together. And, for some reason or other, the Kyoto Protocol (global warming, to be more precise) is the instrument that they have devised. So, any attack on the Kyoto Protocol, any attack on global warming as an article of faith is therefore an attack on the European Union.
And because the EU itself, in my view, is on very fragile ground, that it's problematic as to whether it will survive or not, then of course this makes the issue all that more passionate. So I think in Europe there is this need for a legitimising principle and they've picked on global warming.
Secondly, it fulfils a religious need. They need to believe in sin, so
that means sin is equal to pollution. They need to believe in salvation.
Well, sustainable development is salvation. They need to believe in a
mankind that needs redemption, so you get redemption by stopping using
carbon fuels like coal and oil and so on. So, it fulfils a religious need
and a political need, which is why they hold onto it so tenaciously, despite
all the evidence that the whole thing is nonsense."
12. Interview with Hans von Storch, March 2005
"Two aspects deserve attention in connection with the discussion of Mann's Hockey Stick: On the one hand, who is going to win the argument; it's the Tragedy of the Commons of climate research. McIntyre found a technical error in Mann's methodology; in a SCIENCE study published in October 2004, my team discovered another, in our opinion even more serious error. It is actually the task of reviewers of specialist science journals to identify such errors.
Yet with regards to NATURE, there is another criterion apart from that of scientific quality, which is often enough reviewed shoddily: the public interest, which is essentially equated here with the sales figures of the magazine. Mann's study was apparently so interesting that it was accepted. A precarious fact.
But it is even more precarious that the powerful people in charge of the IPCC turned the publication into an icon, the symbol of proof of anthropogenic climate change. That was not only stupid, but irresponsible. As a result of this elevation, the entire hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change is being unjustifiably questioned.
Which brings me to the second point: Is the hockey stick curve crucially affected by Mann's shoddiness? We tested it by way of a one-thousand-year simulation with a climate model and found that the effect wasn't significant. The error is real, but probably not far-reaching. Nevertheless, it is a good thing that the debate about the temperature history of the last millennium can be conducted again unconditionally.
Steve McIntyre contributed substantially to this development; he deserves
to be thanked for it.
13. Ulrich Cubasch On The Hockey Stick Controversy
"In my view, the present debate about Michael Mann's diagram is actually an expression of a healthy scientific discussion. Whoever questions the curve does not have to be a climate sceptic. My team of researchers is also working on the curve. I had set one of my PhD students the task to replicate Mann's work. Quite soon, she came to the conclusion that she cannot reproduce his diagram. We strove to look deeply into it - and promptly found a can of worms. After all, that's how science works.
The real problem in this case, in my view, is that Michael Mann does not disclose his data. It is also problematic that the discussion has become politically explosive. As climate sceptics notice that there are uncertainties in the results, they immediately see that as proof that climate research produces only nonsense. I consider it inadmissible to turn a completely specialist science debate into a fundamental criticism of climate research and of the IPCC. After all, Mann's study appeared in NATURE, a renowned peer-reviewed specialist journal. In such cases, the IPCC team has to rely on peer review. To check each publication used in the IPCC report would take far too long.
In the meantime, a European Union project named "Soap" has
been set up, which is looking into the problem with Mann's climate curve.
Climate researchers from seven institutes are working on temperature curves
for the last 1000 years. The project has a budget of nearly 1.4 million
euro over a period of three years - which is the period one needs to examine
Mann's curve reliably.