|The Week That Was
April 22, 2006
The Week That Was (April 22, 2006) brought to you by SEPP
Editorial for Earth Day:
Today is Earth Day - and also the anniversary of Lenin's birth. How
appropriate! The Reds have morphed into Greens. In the old days of Marx
and Lenin, capitalism used to oppress the working class; now it despoils
nature. The new religion of environmentalism is on full display in the
"Green" issue of Vanity Fair (May 2006), the magazine of conspicuous
consumption. So amidst the ads for diamond-studded $10,000 watches and
super-powered $100,000 SUVs you find paeans of praise for the moneyed
"defenders of the environment." The irony of it all seems to
have escaped the editors.
On the cover of the May issue sits a grim-faced Al Gore, with Julia
Roberts hovering over him - done up as a wood nymph in a green Bill Blass
dress. There is also actor George Clooney and activist Robert F. Kennedy,
Jr. To find out which is which, I had to consult page 244: George is the
one with the Brooks Brothers suit, Edun shirt, and Ferragamo shoes. Thanks
for yr help, VF.
On page 106, VF inducts James Hansen into its Hall of Fame. He is
the NASA employee whom the "White Housie tried to muzzle," who
received a $250,000 grant from the Heinz Foundation, who endorsed John
Kerry* before the 2004 election, and who has been hyping climate fears
and mishandling data for nearly 20 years, setting some sort of record
unmatched by others. (Not that they haven't tried.) He is seen wearing
a Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit, Calvin Klein shirt, Pringle sweater,
and Tyrwhitt shoes. Very elegant.
* The haughty, French-looking senator from Massachusetts married
to Teresa Heinz, who by the way served in Viet Nam but has yet to release
his service records.
And beginning on page 200, claiming to be "armed with hard science,"
VF explains how New York, Washington, and - yes - Martha's Vineyard (horrors!)
will be all underwater before 2100. (Not even the UN's IPCC science report
agrees with them -although Hansen does.) In the process they manage to
deliver ad hominem attacks on respected scientists. How sad.
New on the Web: Patrick Moore,
co-founder of Greenpeace, has had his epiphany and become a booster for
nuclear energy. Never mind that one of his arguments is his fear of Global
Warming. He may come around some day; who knows?
On the 20-year anniversary, enviro-revisionists are trying to portray
Chernobyl as a cataclysmic disaster. Health physicist John Sutherland
objects and we also have a student's eye-witness account (Item #1).
Windmills just won't get it done: Why we need nuclear power -and fast.
By Lord David Howell (Item #2)
Trenchant observations by Alister McFarquhar on societal support for
Global Warming fears (Item #3). It's not just the media and the money;
society is sick.
Why are Americans more skeptical about GW than Europeans? Online discussion
An analysis of paleo-data eliminates extreme values of climate sensitivity
but may still give values that are too high (Item #5). Modelers can make
mistakes - big ones (Item #6). [I must admit that I had signed up for
this BBC-sponsored project]
Now for Al Gore's movie: Just another "Day After Tomorrow."
See Item #7 and previous issues of TWTW for factual rebuttals and relish
the pointed comments of Jonah Goldberg (National Review) and Wesley Pruden
(Washington Times). Read Item #8 for a panegyric from a Gore booster,
plus my recollection of a personal encounter with Gore and his traveling
slideshow of GW horrors.
And finally: Requiem For Environmentalism: It's the old story: too
much Crying Wolf. By an undergrad at Harvard [There is hope yet] (Item
BALTIC CRUISE with SEPP on NORWEGIAN LINE: AUG 27 SEPT 8. LONDON TO
The newly-established International Panel to Stop the Incipient Ice Age
(IPSIIA) will celebrate its founding in a Baltic Cruise this summer with
a series of mini-symposia aboard ship and in various ports in a region
that was covered with kilometerthick sheets of ice during the first half
of the Holocene as recently as 5000 years ago. Building on a successful
dry run in 2004 with co-founder of IPSIIA Dr. Klaus Heiss, we will start
and return to London, visiting the following ports: Warnemunde (Rostock),
Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen in a 12-day
cruise (Aug 27 to Sept. 8).
Cost per person is about $2000 (incl. tax and port charges), depending
on type of cabin. Contact travel agent Matt Aquino ASAP and mention SEPP
1-800-377-9383 x298 or email@example.com
1. Report on Chernobyl Consequences
http://bellaciao.org/en/article.php3?id_article=11474APRIL 11, 2006
TAKOMA PARK, Maryland - April 11 - A new study being released today in
Kiev, Ukraine directly challenges the findings of a IAEA/WHO (International
Atomic Energy Agency/World Health Organization) report from last September
that predicted 4,000 likely cancer deaths as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl
The study was commissioned by Rebecca Harms, a Green Party member of the
European Parliament, on behalf of the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament
and in conjunction with the April 23-25 Chernobyl+20: Remembrance for
the Future conference in Kiev, Ukraine. The study, titled "TORCH"
(The Other Report on Chernobyl) was prepared by two scientists from the
United Kingdom, Dr. Ian Fairlie and Dr. David Sumner.
Some key findings of The Other Report on Chernobyl (TORCH) (i) include:
Belarus, Ukraine and Russia were heavily contaminated, however more than
half of Chernobyl's fallout was deposited outside these countries fallout
from Chernobyl contaminated about 40% of Europe's surface area about 2/3rds
of Chernobyl's collective dose was distributed to populations outside
Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, especially to western Europe about 30,000
to 60,000 excess cancer deaths are predicted, 7 to 15 times greater than
IAEA/WHO's published estimate of 4,000
The 'greens' have lost the nuclear war, so they are now intent on trying
to terrify people again with guess-timates of future health effects based
upon wild and unscientific extrapolations of junk science.
The real harm of Chernobyl to people, occurred in the first two months
of the accident (31 dead). The UN has used the best science (UNSCEAR 2000,
etc.) to try and honestly define present and future health effects.
The Greens on the other hand are using the nonsense of collective-dose
extrapolations from doses that are down to almost zero, and about a thousand
times LESS than natural background radiation to try to stir up the fears
once more. I could do the same with natural background radiation across
the world's entire population as they do, and extrapolate out as far as
I need to, to terrify people with the ever-increasing numbers of millions
to die, but that would be as dishonest as their tactic. At 20 years after
the accident, we've seen the worst already that the accident can do. Now
we are seeing the desperate worst (perhaps) that the hysterical Greens
can invent. They should go back to dressing like killer tomatoes and GM
corn. It fitted their clown image better.
If this is the best science that they can do, they will lose even more
ground in the battle for the hearts and minds of people in an energy-critical
John K. Sutherland.
I was in Tchernobyl in 1990 as student and I had the chance to visit
the place, including Pripiat town. Fortunately, I had also the chance
to have many detectors with me. I well remember being there wearing my
usual clothing and measuring radioactivity below the level of Cambria
or Brittany for example.
I well remember the newspaper, showing in the same place where I was standing,
at the same time (reports showing people standing in june 1990), with
all kinds of special masks and so on, just for the purpose of making a
good picture. I am sorry but this does not seem very serious to me.
Furthermore, I also had the chance to work in Russia for a year and a
half between 1992 and 1994. I knew people who were in the first group
of decontamination there. They received a high dose but their life was
not endangered. I also met people who were not there but got a certificate
that they actually were (with a little money they could get one and this
would allow them to travel free of charge in the underground). I finally
met people who were ready to say black or white for money provided to
them, both in Kiev or in Moscow.
One knows that most of these accidents (except for Bhopal - Union Carbide
for example) translate into a reduced number of deaths since people are
followed by doctors when they were not before. This is a fact not a calculation.
As a further contribution.
The (TORCH) report by Drs. Fairlie and Sumner is an attempt to heighten
future radiation concerns throughout the world, especially as they relate
to Chernobyl. This pits two scientists working for the 'Greens' against
the more than 100 radiation medical specialists of the various branches
of the UN. Of course, even one dissenting scientific voice might be correct,
but not based upon the speculative data they present.
The conference at which the report is to be presented by Dr Fairlie, is
to be held in Kiev just before the 20th Chernobyl anniversary, and is
a meeting of the usual anti-technology and anti-social suspects: mostly
anti-nuclear individuals and organizations, and other related 'greens'.
At this point their agenda becomes immediately suspect. They have nothing
to contribute to society except future unwarranted fear and manipulated
hysteria; as usual. It is a case of them gritting their teeth and reluctantly
accepting the last 20 years of empirical data which already revealed their
never-ending duplicitous intent. They widely floated rumors in 1986 and
a few subsequent years, about many thousands that had died and been bulldozed
into mass graves (this did not happen); circulated other rumors of numerous
birth defects (which never arose but which - through radio-phobia - sparked
about 100,000 unnecessary abortions throughout Europe); decided that Down's
syndrome births in Berlin and other large cities were attributable to
Chernobyl when it was obvious that they were not; blamed later radiation
emissions on a later Chernobyl, when they were actually from large hospitals
and their patients, in all major cities throughout the world; anticipated
human and other genetic mutations related to the accident (which also
did not occur); said that the forests and vegetation had been totally
killed off and that the area would become a desert (wildlife now thrives
there in superb health and diversity, as does the vegetation); and suggested
that the region would be uninhabitable for thousands of years (some people
never left, and are happier, more secure, and healthier for it). The rest
could now return, except that politicians oppose it as it would kill most
of the benefit programs, and the Greens oppose it as it would be a further
nail in the coffin of their deceitful mendacity since 1986.
Having been shown to be repeatedly and magnificently wrong by undeniable
history, they now fall back on the one tool that can never be denied by
anyone: invent future deaths which no-one can yet disprove, by manipulating
some very weak science. To do this, they ignore the major differences
in effects between acute and chronic doses; misuse collective dose statistics,
and extrapolate them out for many decades; they develop tables of data
which show Relative Risk effects of less than 2 and suggest a significant
health effect. Any scientist worth his qualifications knows that an RR
of less than two or even three is unreliable and too shaky to place much
credible reliance upon.
The currently accepted social risks per Sievert (Sv) of radiation dose,
were derived from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings of more than 60 years
ago - still the only reliable data to the present time. These were massive
ACUTE doses delivered in a fraction of a second and in which living cells
receive the full damage possible in the briefest time. All public doses
following Chernobyl were CHRONIC doses, mostly delivered at an ever reducing
rate from 1986 onward, and usually far less than those received in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. Cellular repair mechanisms are continually at work to mitigate
all the small radiation effects spread out over time, just as they do
from natural radiation, and have done for all life for the last few hundred
In Radiation Protection we assume that all radiation is harmful even down
to zero dose (the Linear No Threshold (LNT) hypothesis), but this does
not make it true; it is merely a convenient tool. Acute risks are assumed
to apply to Chronic doses to make the radiation protection assumptions
and process simple and uniform, but this over-estimates chronic radiation
risks by a factor of up to about 10; ignores cellular repair mechanisms,
and ignores a well defined beneficial process called hormesis, in which
a small (still relatively large compared to natural background) amount
of radiation is stimulating.
The assumption of the validity of the LNT, is directly comparable to the
invalid and obviously flawed argument, that if 1 person dies after taking
200 aspirin (a fatal dose), that we would expect one death in a population
of 200 individuals where each of them takes one aspirin (200-person aspirin
collective dose) and also expect one death for every 200 aspirins, distributed
over whatever size of population. THIS is the fatal flaw of the collective-dose
assumptions. I think you would have difficulty persuading anyone rational,
that if a million people each ingest a fraction of an aspirin tablet such
that they reach a collective dose of 200 aspirin in the entire group,
that one of them will die because of the defined toxicity of aspirin.
The total Collective Dose of about 600,000 person-sieverts from Chernobyl
is made up of some few who received relatively massive but non-fatal chronic
doses, and millions who received doses considerably less than natural
background radiation. For perspective, this collective dose should be
compared with the collective dose each and every year to the population
of the entire world from nature of 120,000,000 person-sieverts, and which
does not definably kill or injure anyone, though one can (dishonestly)
calculate that it may do so (12 million deaths per year!).
As further perspective for those who seem to be impressed with large -
but actually meaningless numbers - each of us is exposed to natural radiation
in the following inescapable way and without definable injury:
From the Sky: About 100,000 cosmic ray neutrons and 400,000 secondary
cosmic rays pass through us each hour; more if we live in high-rises,
or at elevation, as in Colorado.
From the air we breathe: About 30,000 atoms of radon, polonium,
bismuth and lead disintegrate each hour in the lung. In some high-radon
areas it can be even thousands of times larger than this without definable
injury, though the EPA disagrees.
From Diet: About 15,000,000 potassium-40 atoms per hour disintegrate
within our bodies, and about 7,000 natural uranium atoms disintegrate
each hour within us.
From soil and building materials: Over 200,000,000 gamma rays
pass through us each hour.
In short, the TORCH report is unscientific. It does not see any difference
between acute and chronic doses; it misuses population (collective) dose
data - which is the entire basis of their argument; it lacks necessary
perspective, especially on collective doses; and it misuses relative-risk
[It was also annoying to see that the authors went to the trouble to wrongly
define a 'curie' as 3.7E9 Becquerels, when any reputable student of radiation
knows that a curie is 3.7E10 Bq.]
John K. Sutherland. is a retired Health Physicist. He has worked with
radiation for the last 40 years in university, industry and reactors.
He conducted a radiation dosimetry program covering 600 nuclear workers
and managed an environmental radiation monitoring program
2. Windmills just won't get it done: Energy crunch
By David Howell
International Herald Tribune, December 23, 2004
Western governments are proving astonishingly slow to face up to the
four-pronged energy crisis that lies ahead and which could in due course
· World consumption of fossil fuels is soaring when it should be
· Dependence on supplies from politically unreliable and unstable
regions is increasing when it was meant to be diminishing.
· Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are expanding worldwide
when they should be shrinking.
· Investment in alternative energy sources is at best marginal,
with the one really major source of clean energy, nuclear power, being
held back in most countries by political pressures.
All these trends are heading the wrong way, and their effects may unfold
on different (and maybe quite unexpected) time scales. World oil consumption
is officially 80 million barrels a day, compared with 60 million in 1980.
But the real figure could well be higher, some say as much as 84 million
barrels a day. Without radical policy changes, world consumption will
be 122 million barrels a day within two decades, the International Energy
The second crisis springs from the first. By 2030, the IEA estimates,
more than half the world's supplies will originate from shaky and troubled
regions. But events will not wait until then. Two decades ago Margaret
Thatcher was dismayed to learn that 14 percent of Western Europe's gas
imports were from the Soviet Union. Today, 40 percent comes from those
regions, and the upheavals in Ukraine, which is crossed by pipelines carrying
much of this huge volume, give a whiff of what is to come. As for oil,
consider the sources of what are supposed to be huge future supplies.
Iraq sees its pipelines blown up almost every day. Iran may yet be the
scene of another war. Saudi Arabia is under attack and wobbly, and unease
runs through most of the other Gulf states. The Russian oil industry is
in turmoil, and in other Central Asian producers and the various pipeline
transit states, like Georgia and Ukraine, the political landscape is generally
Nigeria has strikes and sabotage, Sudan is at war, Venezuela is politically
unsettled and Algeria still has a bad dose of Islamic fanaticism. Libya
may be on the path of virtue, but it is too early to be confident. The
golden age of North Sea oil and gas is drawing to an end, and Britain
will shortly become a net importer once again.
The prospects might be manageable if governments were all set firmly on
the path to a cleaner and greener energy future. Europe has tried, with
high taxes and the new system of carbon emissions ''trading'' - though
even in Britain, carbon emissions rose last year, when they should have
been falling, and the government now reluctantly concedes that its goals
for emissions reductions are being missed.
But these noble efforts are dwarfed by opposite pressures elsewhere. China
is building 60 new coal-fired stations a year. America is still relying
on coal for over half its electric power while drinking more oil than
ever, helped by gas-guzzling SUV's. Energy issues received hardly a mention
in the recent elections. Acres of giant wind pylons, the current Great
Green Hope, cannot conceivably fill the gap.
The one obvious alternative, nuclear power, remains largely stymied by
politics. China may have bold longer-term plans for new plants. But elsewhere,
nuclear programs have been in limbo for years. In Britain, a pioneer in
civil nuclear power, the policy is to phase out nuclear capacity altogether,
though the nuclear option is still claimed to be ''open.'' Yet the plain
truth about the world's energy future is that the massive electric power
that industry and 21st-century life need will have to come increasingly
from nuclear energy if it is not to come from coal, oil and gas.
The experts know this, as do the technicians. But do the politicians dare
to break the news to a still nervous public, or will they wait until the
lights go out, industry seizes up and governments are bundled from office
by angry and frightened voters? Advisers to President George W. Bush are
said to be warning him that America needs a radically new energy policy.
They are right. So do we all.
Lord Howell , a former British energy secretary and president of the
British Institute of Energy Economists, is Conservative spokesman on foreign
affairs in the House of Lords
3. Climate and socio-political culture
http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/ 15 April
By Dr Alister McFarquhar in: Environment o
There are interesting developments in the climate warming war. Channel
4 news on 13 April reported a systematic Government suppression of renewables
in favour of nuclear, with overt support just "a pretense."
They certainly fooled me, with Wales wasted with windmills and Scotland
exposed to pollution with pylons to transport windpower. And Sir David
King now says a 3-degree temperature rise is "inevitable." As
inevitable perhaps as his predisposition to utter alarmist statements
unsupported by science or evidence, but sure of coverage by a gullible
Meanwhile UK media bias is more endemic than bird flu. In an open letter
to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the National Post [copied to the Minister
of the Environment, and the Minister of Natural Resources] sixty scientists
call on Harper to revisit the science of global warming. I was happy to
sign myself; there were few other Brits. Philip Stott complains justifiably
Except for the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mail, the silence in the
UK has been deafening
there has been nothing from the Guardian,
from the Independent, nor, sadly, even from the Times, and certainly not
from the BBC. Yet, there can be no excuses. For one, I personally alerted
relevant correspondents at The Guardian, at The Times, and at the BBC
about the story.
And, just imagine the headlines if 60 senior scientists had written
to encourage the new Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to act at
once on 'global warming' and to support vigorously the Kyoto Protocol.
The story would have been everywhere.
Richard Lindzen in a trenchant critique on reported climate science says
Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential
to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can
stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate
scientists, advocates and policymakers.
He details the failure of formerly reputable science journals to publish
papers which do not support the IPCC consensus. The loss of respect for
science research will be hard to regain. The cost to society, misled into
mistaken energy policy, will be crippling, as cheap energy is linked to
But I doubt that a propensity to exaggerate alarm is driven solely by
funds and fondness for fame. The scientists I meet in Cambridge are all
verdant green and mostly impeccable. They are not driven by money or they
would not be here.
There is a deeper and more dangerous mood in society, and society produces
the science it deserves. Most of my colleagues have no faith in markets,
hate big business, multilaterals, executive reward, privatization, international
trade - the whole panoply of capitalism. I daresay the same applies to
schoolteachers and most government employees. And not all Guardian and
Independent readers are social workers. Many are intelligentsia, PC executives
and grand bourgeois in the shires. Were scientists to turn pure overnight
another peg would be found in Europe on which to hang hatred of America
4. Why Americans don't believe in Global Warming.
Online discussion: Apr 19, 2006
I generally agree with the analysis by [PBS-NOVA] producer David Sington.
The theory of the Greenhouse effect is certainly beyond dispute but its
application to the real atmosphere is complicated by the existence of
a multitude of feedbacks -- both positive and negative. Many issues are
still disputed, for example the effects of sun- modulated cosmic rays.
My book "Hot Talk, Cold Science" (1997 and 1999) discusses the
GH effects of contrails, a still-unsettled instance of a possible human
influence on climate that does not involve carbon dioxide. Ultimately,
however, climate models must be validated against actual and somewhat
imprecise observations -- and here is where we find a real absence of
any scientific consensus. Should we believe the theory or the atmosphere?
However, this scientific dispute cannot account for the striking difference
in public opinion on Global Warming between Europeans and Americans. Let
me add another point to those listed by David Sington. Europeans seem
to feel more comfortable with "Big Government" and less averse
to emission controls that go with belief in serious consequences from
GW. Americans generally distrust government. I would be interested to
hear comments on this issue.
5. Climate Change Will Be Significant but Not Extreme, Study Predicts
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006; A08
Earth will experience significant climate change in the coming century
as a result of greenhouse gas buildups, but the more extreme estimates
of global warming generated by some studies are unlikely to occur, according
to newly published research.
"This still commits us to quite a bit of climate change, but it leaves
the door open to avoiding the largest and most devastating consequences,"
said Gabriele C. Hegerl, a Duke University climate expert who led the
The new work extends a difficult line of research that uses historical
climate data and computer models to predict the impact of atmospheric
carbon dioxide levels, which are increasing as a result of human activity,
such as burning fossil fuels.
Specifically, the research aims to refine a value known as "climate
sensitivity," which is defined as the global average temperature
change that can be expected to occur in response to a doubling of carbon
Climate scientists from around the world have for more than a decade concurred
that climate sensitivity's most likely value is in the range of about
2.5 degrees to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. But because many factors can affect
global temperatures in poorly understood ways -- including the extent
to which the oceans have tempered climate trends -- scientists have not
been able to rule out more extreme calculations suggesting a warm-up of
16 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Moreover, most of the modeling done to date has been based on data gathered
over just the past century, a period that has experienced a potentially
confounding increase in aerosols that can blunt temperature buildups by
reflecting incoming radiation from the sun.
The new work, described in today's issue of the journal Nature, reaches
back 700 years. It recalculates the relationship between atmospheric composition
and climate, taking into account the climate-affecting impacts of sun-blocking
volcanic eruptions; carbon dioxide levels derived from air bubbles trapped
in Antarctic ice; and temperature data derived from tree rings.
6. Climate Change: A Model Cock-Up
by Rob Lyons
Spiked Online, 20 April 2006
A climate model program downloaded by thousands of PC users had an internal
error that meant it overstated how hot the world might get. Oops.
Researchers behind a much-hyped climate model downloaded by hundreds of
thousands of home PC users have had to admit that many of their results
are wrong because of errors in the program. And it's not just their software
The software, produced by Oxford University in conjunction with a consortium
of research institutions, was launched with great fanfare in February
by the BBC. Around 200,000 people downloaded the programme, which runs
in the background on PCs, each one working on one of thousands of very
slightly different scenarios about how the world's climate might change
in the future.
However, after two months it's been discovered that there were errors
in a data file which was supposed to take account of particles in the
atmosphere that suppress rising temperatures. Consequently, the world
was - virtually, at least - getting too hot, too quickly.
The project's principal investigator, Dr Myles Allen, found a silver
lining to this climate-modelling cloud. 'What we've seen in the runs is
the unadulterated impact of global warming which means that all of the
models have warmed up too fast', he told BBC News. 'At some point in the
future, we may have done an experiment like this anyway.'
The real problem is not an individual cock-up in one computer program,
but the excessive reliance on models in the broader debate about global
That is not to say models are completely without value. It is reasonable
to put together our best guesses as regards future trends like gas emissions,
population change, solar outputs and so on with what we know about climate
physics to produce some broad estimates about what might happen next.
But these are sophisticated guesstimates, no more. They allow us to think
through what are the parameters of the discussion; they do not represent
viable predictions of the future.
There are many good reasons why the models will be inadequate, not the
least being the possibility of bias, conscious or unconscious, in the
initial setup. For one thing, the data we have will always be incomplete.
Satellite measurements are better than they were in the past, but they
only go back to the late Seventies. Before that, weather records are based
on stations that were unevenly spread, with relative high concentrations
in developed countries and relatively few over the 70 per cent of the
Earth covered by water.
The physics of individual climate elements is not fully understood, particularly
in relation to clouds; we don't know how much cloud will be produced in
a warming world and what the net effect of that cloud will be. In addition,
new announcements from research teams are made regularly about factors
that hadn't been fully appreciated before.
Also, models are, by their very nature, simplifications of the real world.
Consider a non-climate example: the Millennium Bridge in London. This
was a relatively simple system to model. But when the bridge opened in
June 2000 it had to be quickly closed again because the effect of people
actually walking on it caused the whole thing to 'wobble'. So even engineers
with far less complex problems than world climate to solve can get things
Which brings us to the bottom line in climate modelling. How can we test
that the models actually work? Attempts to see how the models replicate
the known temperature from the past are problematic because we know, given
the inadequate coverage and mixed standard of ground-based weather stations
in previous decades, that this temperature record is incomplete and almost
certainly inaccurate. We could wait a few decades to see how real temperatures
pan out, but that rather defeats the object of the exercise, especially
if you believe we'll all be parched or drowned in a century's time.
So, we should accept the conclusions of climate models critically, and
look into how other sources of experience agree or disagree with them.
But unfortunately, this is not what happens. Instead, for reasons quite
unrelated to climate science, each new set of results and each new report
is leapt upon by one side or the other as confirmation of their own position.
Take the recent comments by Britain's chief scientific adviser to the
government, Sir David King. On BBC Radio 4's Today programme he said,
'If you ask me where do we feel the temperature is likely to end up if
we move to a level of carbon dioxide roughly twice the pre-industrial
level - and the level at which we would be optimistically hoping we could
settle - the temperature rise could well be in excess of three degrees
This immediately sparked fevered discussion about how many millions -
or billions - of people would be effected. In fact, the effect of that
rise in carbon dioxide in isolation from other factors would be about
one degree celsius. Whether the temperature would rise more than this
depends on feedback effects that are still not properly understood. Plucking
one figure out from a report as if there were any certainty about it is
The discussion, driven by excessive enthusiasm for one particular form
of research, is one-sided and perverse. It is one-sided because it very
often ignores the fact that societies adapt to changing circumstances.
If the world did see a significant rise in temperature overnight, it is
quite likely that there would be dramatic and negative consequences for
many people - although equally, warmer weather would benefit other areas,
too. However, over the course of the next century it is perfectly possible
to change how land is used, to build flood defences and create proper
water supply infrastructure, especially if societies become wealthier
in the meantime. So anything that holds back development would cause far
more problems than it would solve.
And the discussion is perverse because it ignores very major problems
in the here and now in favour of flagging up some potential medium-term
apocalypse. These are not just technical or scientific problems, either.
Why is it, in the twenty-first century, that so much of the world lives
such a marginal existence that changing weather patterns could prove disastrous
for them? That is a political problem that has slipped a long way down
the agenda in popular debate.
Most perversely of all, the discussion of climate science has become a
political clash between, in the main, environmentalists on one side and
free marketeers on the other - while political debate about the best future
direction of society is left in the hands of climate modellers.
7. Al Gore's upcoming movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", is
full of scares and untruths
By Gretchen Randall, April 20, 2006
Issue: The movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is a "companion
documentary" to Gore's book of the same name. According to pre-release
information, Gore claims global warming is one of the "biggest issues
facing future generations" and predicts one hundred million refugees
from a twenty-foot rise in sea levels if glaciers continue to melt.
Movie trailers show frightening scenes of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes,
drought and dams breaking. Amid the scenes, Gore, who says he "used
to be the next president", spews many false and inaccurate statements.
Below, we've debunked a few of them.
Accusation #1: "If you look at the ten hottest years ever measured,
they've all occurred in the last fourteen years and the hottest of all
Response: According to Bob Carter, a geologist at James Cook University,
Queensland, "the official temperature records of the Climate Research
Unit at the University of East Anglia, [show] that for the years 1998-2005
global average temperature did not increase." Global warming believers
use the statistics that the earth warmed between 1970 and 1998 but fail
to mention that temperatures also rose between 1920 and the 1940s when
industrial production was much lower than today.
Bob Carter, "Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable
cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic
shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that
our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly
warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last
two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder,
than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural
cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and
economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming."
Accusation #2: "Scientific consensus is that we are causing global
Response: Not true. Look at all the quotes from scientists on this page.
However, it is becoming more difficult for scientists who disagree with
the conventional position on global warming to dissent. Professor Richard
Lindzen wrote, "Climate of Fear" ( http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220)
in which he says that scientists who disagree with the alarmists predicting
catastrophic global warming risk loss of grants and being discredited
in the media. He says papers which question "accepted climate wisdom"
are often refused at scientific journals such as Science and Nature as
"being without interest."
Accusation #3: "Temperature increases are taking place all over the
world and that's causing stronger storms."
Response: "All previous and current research in the area of hurricane
variability has shown no reliable, long-term trend up in the frequency
or intensity of tropical cyclones, either in the Atlantic or any other
basin. Moreover, the evidence is quite strong and supported by the most
recent credible studies that any impact in the future from global warming
upon hurricane[s] will likely be quite small." Christopher Landsea,
director of historical hurricane reanalysis at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), January, 2005.
Accusation #4: "The Arctic is experiencing faster melting. If this
[pointing to part of Antarctica] should go, sea level worldwide would
go up twenty feet."
Response: "While data seem to indicate that temperatures over much
of the Arctic have increased over the past several decades (to levels
last experienced in the 1930s), data from Antarctica suggests just the
opposite. Not only have temperatures cooled a bit over Antarctica, but
snow and ice accumulation is increasing. . . . . Most news stories about
Antarctica don't report that the continent as a whole is not behaving
like its northern counterpart. Instead, one hears reports on conditions
along the Antarctic Peninsula a relatively small piece of the continent
that juts northward toward South America. Antarctic Peninsula temperatures
have been warming. . . . What is taking place on the Antarctic Peninsula
comprises less than two percent of the total area of Antarctica. Conditions
at the Peninsula no more reflect what is occurring over the entire continent
than those in Florida reflect what is happening all across North America."
Richard Lindzen, professor of climatology at MIT. (http://ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/20060331_issues.pdf)
Links: To check your carbon footprint or read more about the movie:
Link to a synopsis of the movie and a trailer: http://movies.aol.com/movie/main.adp?mid=24916
For Apple users, the trailer is at: http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount_classics/aninconvenienttruth/trailer/
Conveniently Missing the Truth - Al Gore's Green Battiness.
National Review ^ | 4/21/06 |
By Jonah Goldberg
Meet Al Gore, scaremonger. In 2004, Gore denounced President Bush for
"playing on our fears." Today, he is at the forefront of a "green
scare" about global warming intended to terrify Americans into submitting
to his environmental policies.
Consider the trailer for An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim's documentary
about Gore's green crusade. It promises to be the most adept piece of
scaremongering ever captured on film, making The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
seem like Toy Story 2. The movie's poster shows penguins walking across
a desert. The trailer says, "If you love your planet ... if you love
your children ... you have to see this movie." In case you're thick
in the head, the producers spell it out for you: "By far, the most
terrifying film you will ever see!" And: "You will soil your
pants!" (O.K., I made that last one up).
Of course, Gore is not alone. A host of new environmental scare books
are out or on the way. Last month, Time magazine's cover warned, "Be
Worried. Be Very Worried." Those renowned climatologists who make
up Vanity Fair's editorial board have unveiled a "green issue"
that informs us that "green is the new black" and that global
warming is a "threat graver than terrorism." It says so right
there on the cover, above Julia Roberts's hip. And she's dressed like
a forest nymph, so it's got to be true.
Now, it's true that Earth has gotten warmer one degree since the 19th
century and it will probably get warmer still. And it's probably true
that human activity plays a significant part in all that. But it's also
true that we don't have a clear picture of what's happening now, never
mind what will happen. Just ask the 60 climatologists from around the
world who wrote Canada's prime minister that "observational evidence
does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason
to trust model predictions of the future." But that's all beside
the point to Gore & Co., who say the time for debate is over. And
if you disagree, get ready for the witch-hunt. Major news media have gone
after scientists who argue there's still time to study global warming
rather than plunge into some half-baked environmental jihad that could
waste possibly trillions of dollars.
As Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at MIT, recently lamented
in the Wall Street Journal: "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism
have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves
libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently,
lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face
of the science that supposedly is their basis."
In Vanity Fair, writer Mark Hertsgaard alleges that Frederick Seitz,
the former president of the National Academy of Sciences and the former
president of the prestigious Rockefeller University, was a shill for,
of all things, the tobacco industry. A press release by the National Environmental
Trust proclaims "Scientist Who Spearheaded Attacks on Global Warming
Also Directed $45M Tobacco Industry Effort to Hide Health Impacts of Smoking."
Seitz, a giant in American science, says this is all "ridiculous,
completely wrong." Now 94, Seitz explains that R. J. Reynolds had
given Rockefeller University $5 million a year for basic research. Seitz
says he directed the money toward non-tobacco-related efforts in the study
of prions (the virus-like proteins that cause mad cow disease), tuberculosis
and other diseases. Prion researcher Stanley Prusiner thanked both R.
J. Reynolds and Seitz in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
But Gore & Co. aren't troubled by such details because the smears
are all for a good cause. That's why Gore saw nothing wrong in bullying
dissident climate change scientists when he was a senator or waging a
mean-spirited campaign to discredit the work of his old mentor, Harvard
oceanographer Roger Revelle, because Revelle thought alarmism was unwarranted.
Hence the irony of the title An Inconvenient Truth. It is the green scare
that has no patience for inconvenient truths. For example, Gore blames
the disappearing snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro on global warming, but a study
in Nature magazine identified the clear-cutting of surrounding moisture-rich
forests as the culprit. In the famously fact-checked New Yorker, editor
David Remnick pens a love letter to Gore in which he laments that Earth
will "likely be an uninhabitable planet" if we don't heed Gore's
jeremiads. Oh ... come ... on!
This is just a small taste of the millenarian battiness running through
the green scare. Sure, a one- or two-degree-per-century rise in average
global temperatures may have unpleasant consequences with some pleasant
ones as well, but in what study did The New Yorker's fact-checkers verify
that Earth will become uninhabitable? Moreover, the Greens' proposed solutions
to global warming are even more otherworldly. Reducing global carbon-dioxide
emissions to 60 percent of 1990 levels before 2050, while China, India,
and (hopefully) Africa modernize, is inconceivable, ill-conceived, and
also immoral because it would consign generations to poverty.
But none of that seems to matter to the Greens. To them, the only thing
we have to fear is the lack of fear itself.
A little warming, a lot of hysteria
Commentary by Wes Pruden
April 11, 2006
Al Gore has been looking for work for five years now, and he's still steamed
about the warm weather. Somebody has even made a movie about it, though
it won't necessarily be opening soon at a theater anywhere near you.
The movie is an "indie," short for movies made independently
of one of the big studios. Indies usually show up on cable at 3 in the
morning. The movie about Al is called "An Inconvenient Truth,"
and The Washington Post describes it as "a movie about global warming.
Starring Al Gore. Doing a slide show. About 'soil evaporation.'"
Which gives you an idea.
Al has been a true believer since before anyone else believed. Al came
to lunch with us at The Washington Times years ago, even before Bill Clinton
picked him as a running mate, to tell us that even if some of his facts
were cooked, his cause was so noble that we ought to help him peddle the
cooked stuff, fibs, stretchers, tall tales and all. (We passed, of course.)
The debate was supposed to be over by now, but it's not. Nearly everyone
agrees that some of the planet's colder neighborhoods are a little warmer
than they used to be, and Al thinks the devil made us do it. Al and proponents
of global warming argue that whatever bad happens, happens because of
the greed of man, and mostly Americans at that. Icebergs floating too
far south? Man did it. Torrential rains in Monument Valley? Blame it on
global warming. A drought in Tacoma-Seattle? Fog in Phoenix? Man set fire
to the globe. Keep it scary, and keep it coming.
Al has been going coast to coast (always in coach class, with his lunch
in a paper sack), collecting wild applause from other true believers,
and just when he imagines he can take a day off from his Oldest Established
Permanent Floating Clap Game, a reputable skeptic comes along with actual
"Since the early 1990s," writes Prof. Robert Carter, a professor
of geology at Cook University in Australia, "the columns of many
leading newspapers and magazines, worldwide, have carried an increasing
stream of alarmist letters and articles on hypothetical, human-caused
climate change. Each alarmist article is larded with words such as 'if,'
'might,' 'could,' 'probably,' 'perhaps,' 'expected,' 'projected' or 'modeled'
-- and many involve such deep dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts
and principles, that they are akin to nonsense."
The professor, writing in the London Daily Telegraph, does not dispute
the evidence that we're in an era of rising temperatures. Who does? But
he suggests that man exhibits considerable hubris -- insolence, even --
if he imagines that he's responsible. Consider the official temperature
records, kept at the University of East Anglia in England: Between 1998
and 2005, global average temperatures actually went down.
This seven-year period, he observes, nevertheless coincides with a period
in which man was pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as if there
were no tomorrow, which is, of course, exactly what Al and his fellow
hysterics keep telling us. Of course, this is only a tiny blip of time.
But Al and his pals argue triumphantly that the 28 years between 1970
and 1998, another tiny blip, were decades of deadly manmade warming. Then
what should we make of the warming trend between 1918 and 1940, well before
the years of greatest carbon dioxide making? How to explain the period
between 1940 and 1975, years of pell-mell worldwide industrialization,
when the earth recorded not warming, but cooling temperatures?
Not so long ago, the media fad was all about the coming ice age. Newsweek
reported in 1975 that the earth was cooling and the effects on food production
would be catastrophic. Farmers in Northern Europe could expect the growing
season to shrink by two weeks by the end of the century. That didn't happen.
Well, nobody's perfect. But our scientists were aware of their modest
gifts then. "Our knowledge of the mechanisms of climatic change is
at least as fragmentary as our data," the National Academy of Sciences
concluded in 1975. "Not only are the basic scientific questions largely
unanswered, but in many cases we do not yet know enough to pose the key
questions." They should ask Al to explain this. He could take them
to the movies.
Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The WashingtonTimes.
8. We Can't Allow Gore To Lose This Campaign
By Richard Cohen,
Investors Business Daily,Apr 19, 2006; Section:Issues & Insights;
Boring Al Gore has made a movie. It is on the most boring of all subjects
- global warming. It is more than 80 minutes long, and the first two or
three go by slow enough so that you can notice that Gore has gained weight
and that his speech still seems oddly out of sync. But a moment later,
I promise, you will be captivated, and then riveted, and then scared out
of your wits.
Our Earth is going to hell in a hand basket. You will see the Arctic and
Antarctic ice caps melting. You will see Greenland oozing into the sea.
You will see the atmosphere polluted with greenhouse gases that block
heat from escaping. You will see photos from space of what the ice caps
looked like once and what they look like now and, in animation, you will
see how high the oceans might rise. Shanghai and Calcutta swamped. Much
of Florida, too. The water takes a hunk of New York. The fuss about what
to do with Ground Zero will turn naught. It will be under water.
"An Inconvenient Truth" is a cinematic version of the lecture
that Gore has given for years warning of the dangers of global warming.
Davis Guggenheim, the director, opened it up a bit. For instance, he added
some shots of Gore mulling the fate of the Earth as he is driven here
or there in some city, sometimes talking about personal matters such as
the death of his beloved older sister from lung cancer and the close call
his son had after being hit by a car. These are all traumas that Gore
had mentioned in his presidential campaign and which seemed cloying at
the time. Here they seem appropriate.
The case Gore makes is worthy of sleepless nights: Our Earth is in extremis.
It's not just that polar bears are drowning because they cannot reach
receding ice flows or that "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" will exist
someday only as a Hemingway short story - we can all live with that. It's
rather that Katrina is not past, but prologue. n the future, people will
not yearn for the winters of yesteryear, but for the summers instead.
Katrina produced several hundred thousand evacuees. The flooding of Calcutta
would produce many millions. We are in for an awful time.
You cannot see this film and not think of George W. Bush, the man who
beat Gore in 2000. The contrast is stark. Gore - more at ease in the lecture
hall than he ever was on the stump - summons science to tell a harrowing
story and offers science as the antidote. No feat of imagination could
have Bush do something similar - even the sentences are beyond him. But
it is the thought that matters - the application of intellect to an intellectual
Bush has been studiously anti-science, a man of applied ignorance, who
has undernourished his mind with the empty calories of comfy dogma. For
instance, his insistence on abstinence as the preferred method of birth
control would be laughable were it not so reckless. It is similar to Bush's
initial approach to global warming and his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol
- ideology trumping science.
It may be that Gore will do more good for his country and the world with
this movie than Bush ever did by beating him in 2000. Gore insists his
presidential aspirations are behind him. "I think there are other
ways to serve," he told me. No doubt. But on paper, he is the near-perfect
Democratic candidate for 2008. Among other things, he won the popular
vote in 2000. He opposed going to war in Iraq, but he supported the previous
Gulf War - right both times. He is smart, experienced and, despite the
false caricatures, a man versed in the new technologies - especially the
Internet. He is much more a person of the 21st century than most of the
other potential candidates. Trouble is, a campaign is not a film.
Gore could be a great president. First, though, he has to be a good candidate.
In the meantime, he is a man on a mission. Wherever he goes - and he travels
incessantly - he finds time and an audience to deliver his (free) lecture
on global warming. It and the film leave no doubt of the peril we face
and neither do they leave any doubt that Gore, at last, is a man at home
in his role. He is master teacher, pedagogue, know-it-all, smarter than
most of us, better informed and, having tried for and failed to gain the
presidency, has raised his sights to save the world. We simply cannot
afford for Al Gore to lose again.
Response: Ltr to IBD
By S. Fred Singer
I read Richard Cohen's panegyric on Al Gore ("We Can't Allow Gore
To Lose This Campaign" IBD, April 19) with great amusement. All I
can say is that Hillary has a real problem -- and I am glad it's hers
and not mine. Gore presented his slide show to a group of conservative
Republicans in Washington DC recently. He was just superb. In the discussion,
I congratulated him on the technical brilliance of his presentation and
told him it was absolutely convincing -- "to anyone who didn't know
I don't think he liked that.
9. Environmentalism is dead; long live the environment!
The Harvard Crimson, 20 April 2006
By PIOTR C. BRZEZINSKI
This pronouncement might seem a touch premature, especially to the 500
million people who will celebrate the 37th Earth Day this weekend--a collective
"not dead yet" wheeze. However, these numbers mask the growing
irrelevance of the environmentalist movement. Having lost its credibility
with alarmist rhetoric and obsolete ideological ballast, the movement
must develop a moderate discourse while challenging its previous assumptions
and outdated theories.
The contemporary environmentalist movement faces a stark choice: change
tactics or fade into irrelevance. Over the past decade, environmentalists
have achieved few political victories and utterly failed to influence
the general public. As indicated by a recent MIT study, the public knows
little about environmental problems, and cares less. Out of 21 national
and international issues, Americans ranked environmental problems 13th,
well below terrorism, taxes, crime, and drugs.
Alarmism - the environmental movement's basic strategy - has led to this
dead end. Since Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" the movement
has been dominated by doomsday scenarios. Even on the first Earth Day
in 1970, biologist George Wald predicted that "civilization will
end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken" -- while
the New York Times warned that "man must stop pollution and conserve
his resources...to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible
extinction." Fortunately, such apocalyptic forecasts have repeatedly
proven to be wrong.
Take biologist Paul Ehrlich's popular Malthusian broadside, "The
Population Bomb." Farsighted Ehrlich predicted that a "population
will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food
supplies we make," causing worldwide famine and the death of "hundreds
of millions of people" annually from starvation. Oops: -in the subsequent
35 years, increased agricultural productivity exceeded population growth
and the total amount of cultivated land barely increased.
Ehrlich is hardly alone; the environmental movement has spawned a remarkable
number of would-be Cassandras. Between 1970 and 2006, global cooling predictions
mysteriously morphed into global warming fears. Concerns about rampant
Dodo-ism proved baseless: the rate of animal extinction in the U.S. has
been declining since the 1930s, and only seven species have gone extinct
since 1973. And rather than running out of resources, the world has experienced
a commodity glut, with the prices of most metals and minerals dropping
by 30 to 50 percent. The litany of failed apocalypses goes on.
Not that this history of crying wolf has chastened contemporary environmentalists.
Activists and researchers still issue dire warnings with mind-numbing
regularity. Just three weeks ago, a panic-stricken Time magazine story
on global warming shouted, "Be Worried, Be Very Worried." Harping
on worst-case scenarios like a 220-foot rise in the ocean's water level,
the article more closely resembled "The Day After Tomorrow"
than a serious report.
Although such scare mongering persists, it has reached the point of diminishing
returns. Knowing the movement's track record of false alarms, the American
public dismiss dire environmental warnings out of hand. Moreover, these
alarming reports attract a disproportionate amount of media attention,
discrediting the environmentalist movement twice over: First when the
sensational predictions drown out more plausible reports, then again when
the highly-publicized disaster fails to occur.
Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. environment is getting healthier.
The U.S. population has more than doubled since 1970, yet forest coverage
has increased. Measurements of major air pollutants -- sulfur, suspended
particulates, and carbon monoxide -- have registered declines of 15 to
75 percent. Likewise, the number of healthy rivers and lakes has roughly
doubled since the first Earth Day, and Lake Erie, declared "dead"
in the 1970s, now supports a healthy fishing industry. There are exceptions
to this positive trend, but the overall direction is unmistakable: The
U.S. natural environment is improving.
Of course, environmentalists claim credit for this trend. Alarmists can't
lose: either doomsday comes true, or their warnings averted disaster.
Certainly, part of the positive trend is due to activism and government
regulations, but much of the change is a result of increased technological
efficiency as well as longstanding trends that predate the rise of environmentalism.
Although the impact of the movement's past achievements is uncertain,
its future success clearly depends on a fundamental re-evaluation of long-unquestioned
theories and policies. Doomsday warnings no longer shock the public into
action; instead, environmentalists need to develop moderate arguments
that don't depend on the 'stick' of calamity. This means abandoning Soviet-style
"command-and-control" regulation, epitomized by the Kyoto Treaty,
and exploring ideas, like the use of DDT, that are currently considered
Thus, on the 37th anniversary of Earth Day, the environmental movement
is looking increasingly long in the tooth. Alarmist environmentalists
have overshadowed moderate, careful researchers, and undermined the credibility
of the entire movement. Until environmentalists cease depending on nightmare
scenarios, they will fail to influence the public at large. Let the next
generation of environmentalists begin to reestablish the movement's credibility
by exploring currently heretical ideas and producing moderate, nuanced
reports, even if they do not make for good press.
Piotr C. Brzezinski '07, an editorial associate chair, is a social
studies concentrator in Winthrop House. He is a member of the Resource
Copyright 2006, The Harvard Crimson
Go to the Week
That Was Index