|The Week That Was
April 29, 2006
New on the Web: Matthew Parris, a former Member of Britain's Parliament,
incisively ponders the apocalyptic
roots of modern environmentalism.
The current gas crunch must obviously be the outcome of careful planning by Al Gore and his Green minions. Timed to coincide with Earth Day, its purpose is to achieve the goal of the Kyoto Protocol: raising energy costs in order to reduce carbon emissions.
Unable to ratify Kyoto because of unanimous bi-partisan opposition in the US Senate in 1997 ("Byrd-Hagel Resolution"), and subsequent defeats of the McCain-Lieberman bills, an alternate 3-phase plan went into effect.
(I) Put potential US oil and gas resources off limits: ANWR, offshore, and huge onshore acreages (the latter achieved during the Clinton/Gore administration)
(ii) Raise environmental and other obstacles to the construction of refineries. The success of this policy can be gauged from the fact that no new grass-roots refineries have been built in the US for some 30 years.
(iii) Finally, mandate restrictions on gasoline composition that require each region of the country to have a special blend of "boutique' gasoline - thus preventing use in case shortages (aka price rises) occur. Also, mandate gasoline additives, like MTBE (later found to be a pollutant) -even if no longer needed. Replace not-needed MTBE with mandated ethanol -- even if there is not enough ethanol to fill the demand. But restrict the import of ethanol by tariffs.
All in all, the Gore-enviro scheme has been a huge success - as judged by the price rise of gasoline, which will surely reduce driving and emissions. To be sure, the increased oil consumption of China and India, and various disturbances around the world, have been a great help in achieving this goal. The best part is that everything can now be blamed on Big Oil --- or on George Bush.
With unaccustomed modesty, Al Gore, inventor of the Internet and the
Global Warming crisis, has so far refused to take personal credit for
the run-up in gas prices. We can well understand his reluctance.
What's to be done? See comments by Gretchen Randall in a bulletin from Winningreen (Item #1) and Myron Ebell (Item #2) in a CEI press release.
And the inevitable Congressional response to higher gas prices: Raise
fuel-efficiency standards for cars. And time for another round of finger-pointing:
Inspiring Earth Day editorial in the WSJ: Environment is getting cleaner.
Thought you might be interested in this CEI commentary on the scary Time magazine's global warming "report": http://www.cei.org/pdf/5288.pdf
Ex-Environmental Leaders Tout Nuclear Energy (NYT, April 24) The nuclear
industry has hired Christie Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental
Protection Agency, and Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, the
environmental organization, to lead a public relations campaign for new
True tests for Greens:
Any senator who cares about this country's energy future should reject
an amendment that would prevent the construction of a wind farm off the
coast of Massachusetts.
.And having frittered away federal moneys meant for New Orleans levees
on pet projects, will the Levee Board do a better job with your tax money?
Don't bet on it.
Finally, an old nugget from P.J. O'Rourke:
President Bush seems desperate to find someone to blame for continuing
high demand for gasoline, which is the result of high economic growth
and continuing supply problems. He should take credit for his policies
that have contributed to strong economic growth and put the blame for
high gas prices where it belongs. He should be traveling across the country
blaming the obstructionist minority in Congress that continues to block
legislation that would increase domestic energy production. And the president
should be building public support for pro-energy, pro-consumer policies.
Today, April 22, is Earth Day, which has been marked each year since 1970 as a day of reflection on the state of the environment. At least that's the idea, so let's begin with some figures.
Since 1970, carbon monoxide emissions in the U.S. are down 55%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Particulate emissions are down nearly 80%, and sulfur dioxide emissions have been reduced by half. Lead emissions have declined more than 98%. All of this has been accomplished despite a doubling of the number of cars on the road and a near-tripling of the number of miles driven, according to Steven Hayward of the Pacific Research Institute.
Mr. Hayward compiles the "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators" published around Earth Day each year by PRI and the American Enterprise Institute. It serves as an instructive antidote for the doom and gloom that normally pervades environmental coverage, especially of late.
This year, for example, Vanity Fair has inaugurated an "Earth Issue," comprising 246 glossy, non-recycled pages of fashion ads, celebrity worship and environmental apocalypse. Highlights include computer-generated images of New York City underwater and the Washington mall as one big reflecting pool. The magazine also includes a breathless essay by U.S. environmental conscience-in-chief Al Gore. The message is that we are headed for an environmental catastrophe of the first order, and only drastic changes to the way we live can possibly prevent it.
If arguments were won through the use of italics, Mr. Gore would prevail in a knockout. But as Mr. Hayward notes in his "Index," the environmental movement as a whole has developed a credibility problem since the first Earth Day 36 years ago. In the 1970s, prominent Greens were issuing dire predictions about mass starvation, overpopulation and--of all things--global cooling. Since then, population-growth estimates have come way down, biotechnology advances have found ways to feed more people than the doomsayers believed possible, and the global-cooling crisis has become the global-warming crisis without missing a beat.
There's no doubt the Greens have succeeded in promoting higher environmental standards, which in turn have contributed to cleaner air, water and land almost everywhere you look. Today, game fish have returned to countless American streams and lakes, the Northeast has more forestland that at any time since the 19th century and smog is down dramatically in places like Los Angeles. But environmental activists don't want to believe their own success, much less advertise it. They need another looming catastrophe to stay relevant, not to mention to keep raising money.
Thus the cause of global warming has come at a fortuitous moment for clean-air warriors looking for alarms to ring. It is global in scope, will take decades to come to fruition--or to be revealed as another false alarm--and provides endless opportunities for government intrusion into the economy. It is, if you'll pardon the deliberate reference to a faith-based phenomenon, the green equivalent of manna from heaven. Or would be, if the Greens hadn't spent so much time over the last three decades talking up scares that never came to pass.
This credibility deficit, combined with the slow-motion nature of the putative warming, has led to some desperate tactics by the global-warming true believers. To cite just one example, careful expounders of the idea of human-caused global warming used to take pains to distinguish between "climate" and "weather." Thus, snow storms in April or cold snaps in September were merely "weather" and told us nothing about long-term trends.
Then Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and the environmental movement pounced. The image of an American city filled with water proved irresistible to those who have been warning for years about rising sea levels--never mind that the cause was one unusually powerful storm and that New Orleans was built below sea level in the first place. As Mr. Gore puts it, Katrina "may have been the first sip of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us over and over again until we act on the truth we have wished would go away." If that language sounds familiar, that's because Mr. Gore borrowed the image from Winston Churchill, who used it to describe the Nazi menace in Europe in the 1930s.
The comparison between global-warming skeptics and Nazis or their sympathizers is not an idle one, as full-scale demonization of anyone who questions the global warming orthodoxy is now under way. MIT's Richard Lindzen recently described in these pages how this intimidation is stifling scientific debate.
A separate article in the same issue of Vanity Fair compares anyone who doubts that the apocalypse is nigh (including us) to the tobacco-industry shills who denied the link between cancer and smoking. It also suggests that both are the products of the same bought-and-paid-for industry flacks. You can expect to hear more such comparisons going forward; having lost the debate over Kyoto, certain Greens would now rather not debate the evidence at all and merely invoke some "consensus" that everyone allegedly knows to be true.
As optimists by nature, we're inclined instead to observe the happy environmental
progress of recent decades; that this is in part the result of prosperity
produced by economic growth; and that the solutions to any future environmental
danger are also likely to emerge from the new technology and greater wealth
produced by free markets and free people. So next time someone tells you
that climate change is more dangerous than terrorism, bear in mind something
else Churchill once said: "A fanatic is one who can't change his
mind and won't change the subject."
The president of the Royal Society, Lord Rees of Ludlow, asserts that the evidence for human-caused global warming "is now compelling" and concerning (Letters, April 19)..
In a public letter, we have recently advised the Canadian Prime Minister of exactly the opposite - which is that "global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural 'noise' ".
We also noted that "observational evidence does not support today's
computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions
of the future".
(Dr) Bob Carter, Adjunct Professor of Geology, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
(Dr) R. Timothy Patterson, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences (paleoclimatology), Carleton University, Ottawa
(Dr) Madhav Khandekar, former research scientist, Environment Canada. Member of editorial board of Climate Research and Natural Hazards
(Dr) Tim Ball, former Professor of Climatology, University of Winnipeg; environmental consultant
(Dr) L Graham Smith, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada Mr David Nowell, M.Sc. (Meteorology), Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, Canadian member and past chairman of the NATO Meteorological Group, Ottawa
(Dr) Christopher Essex, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Associate Director of the Program in Theoretical Physics, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario
(Dr) Tad Murty, former Senior Research Scientist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, former Director of Australia's National Tidal Facility and Professor of Earth Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide; currently Adjunct Professor, Departments of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa
(Dr) David E. Wojick, P.Eng., energy consultant, Star Tannery, Va., and Sioux Lookout, Ontario
Mr Rob Scagel, M.Sc., forest microclimate specialist, Principal Consultant, Pacific Phytometric Consultants, Surrey, B.C.
(Dr) Douglas Leahey, meteorologist and air-quality consultant, Calgary, Canada Paavo Siitam, M.Sc., agronomist, chemist, Cobourg, Ontario
(Dr) Chris de Freitas, climate scientist, Associate Professor, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
(Dr) Freeman J. Dyson, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J.
Mr William Kininmonth, Australasian Climate Research, former Head National Climate Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology; former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology, Scientific and Technical Review
Mr George Taylor, Department of Meteorology, Oregon State University; Oregon State Climatologist; past President, American Association of State Climatologists
(Dr) Hendrik Tennekes, former Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
(Dr) Gerrit J. van der Lingen, geologist/paleoclimatologist, Climate Change Consultant, Geoscience Research and Investigations, New Zealand.
(Dr) Nils-Axel Mörner, Emeritus Professor of Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
(Dr) Al Pekarek, Associate Professor of Geology, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota
(Dr) Marcel Leroux, Professor Emeritus of Climatology, University of Lyon, France; former Director of Laboratory of Climatology, Risks and Environment, CNRS
(Dr) Paul Reiter, Professor, Institut Pasteur, Unit of Insects and Infectious Diseases, Paris, France.. Expert reviewer, IPCC Working Group II, chapter 8 (human health)
(Dr) Zbigniew Jaworowski, physicist and Chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, Warsaw, Poland
(Dr) Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Reader, Department of Geography, University of Hull, U.K.; Editor, Energy & Environment
(Dr) Hans H.J. Labohm, former advisor to the executive board, Clingendael Institute (The Netherlands Institute of International Relations), and economist who has focused on climate change
(Dr) Lee C. Gerhard, Senior Scientist Emeritus, University of Kansas, past Director and State Geologist, Kansas Geological Survey
(Dr) Asmunn Moene, past Head of the Forecasting Centre, Meteorological Institute, Norway
(Dr) August H. Auer, past Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming; previously Chief Meteorologist, Meteorological Service (MetService) of New Zealand
(Dr) Vincent Gray, expert reviewer for the IPCC and author of The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of 'Climate Change 2001,' Wellington, N.Z.
(Dr) Benny Peiser, Faculty of Science, Liverpool John Moores University, U.K.
(Dr) Jack Barrett, retired chemist and spectrocopist, Imperial College
(Dr) S. Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia; former Director, U.S. Weather Satellite Service
(Dr) Robert H. Essenhigh, E.G.. Bailey Professor of Energy Conversion, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University
Mr Douglas Hoyt, Senior Scientist at Raytheon (retired) and co-author of the book The Role of the Sun in Climate Change; previously with NCAR, NOAA, and the World Radiation Center, Davos, Switzerland
(Dr) Boris Winterhalter, Senior Marine Researcher (retired), Geological Survey of Finland, former Professor in Marine Geology, University of Helsinki, Finland
(Dr) Wibjörn Karlén, Emeritus Professor, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden
(Dr) Hugh W. Ellsaesser, physicist/meteorologist, previously with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California; atmospheric consultant
(Dr) Arthur Robinson, founder, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, Cave Junction, Oregon
(Dr) Alister McFarquhar, Downing College, Cambridge, UK; international economist
(Dr) Richard S. Courtney, climate and atmospheric science consultant, IPCC expert reviewer, UK
A growing number of experts are saying what was once unthinkable: humans may have to adapt to a warmer globe. Although there is no debate over Earth's rising temperature, people are reluctant to take action. Nevertheless, stressing the problem's urgency could well be counterproductive, according to "Americans and Climate Change," a new book by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
The authors note that urgency does not appear to be something that can be imposed on people. Moreover, they say, "Urgency is especially prone to being discounted as unreasoned alarmism or even passion."
The authors suggest:
o Adaptation may help people focus on the reality of what is coming -- and that may motivate them to cut emissions to limit chances of bigger changes to come.
o Actions could range from developing drought-resistant crops to eliminating federal insurance and other subsidies that have long encouraged coastal development.
Could stressing adaptation work? The Yale group calls global warming
"the perfect problem"-- meaning that a confluence of characteristics
make it hard, if not impossible, to solve. Its impact remains clouded
with scientific uncertainty, its effects will be felt over generations,
and it is being amplified by everything from microwaving a frozen dinner
to bringing electricity to an Indian village.
For Yale study: http://environment.yale.edu/climate/americans_and_climate_change.pdf
"Although Congress never authorized the implementation of Agenda 21, in 1993, President Bill Clinton established, by Executive Order, the President's Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD) for the purpose of implementing Agenda 21 in the United States. The PCSD operated through 1999, but its actions to promote Sustainable Development have taken root, and now exert an increasing influence in communities across America.
The authors of Agenda 21 have said it will affect every area of life, grouped according to three objectives: Equity, Economy, and Environment. By defining these terms vaguely, a litany of abuse has resulted.
"[I]n order to achieve their objectives, [the authors of Agenda 21] call for a shift in attitudes, which can be seen in the educational programs developed by its proponents. This is the premise of Sustainable Development: That individual human wants, needs, and desires are to be conformed to the views and dictates of planners. Harvey Ruvin, Vice Chair of the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives, and Clerk of the Circuit and County Court in Miami-Dade County, Florida, has said that 'individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective' in the process of implementing Sustainable Development.
"Sustainable Development is ostensibly concerned with the environment; it is more concerned with restructuring the governmental system of the world's nations so that all the people of the world will be the subjects of a global collective. Many of its proposed implementation strategies require the surrender of unalienable rights.
"Sustainable Development is restructuring our lives, and is targeting our children through an educational regime that seeks to develop collectivist attitudes, values, and beliefs. Sustainable development documents expressly call for the elimination of private property and the freedom that private property supports. It supplants long-standing State laws, and causes irreparable harm to our economy and our society. If individual members of our society do nothing, the continuing loss of liberty will result in increasing social confusion and discord, rising resource shortages, financial decay, and a dimming future for us and our posterity."
-- Excerpts from "Understanding Sustainable Development -- Agenda
21 -- A guide for Public Officials," a booklet prepared by Freedom
21 Santa Cruz, PO Box 3330, Freedom, California 95019, 2005, pages 4-6,
8, 10, 21. Phone: 831-684-2232.
7. Fossil gives clue to big chill
The gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific at the bottom of the globe
opened up 41 million years ago, according to a study of old fish teeth.
The research in Science pushes back the date of the forging of Drake Passage
to twice as long ago as once thought.