|The Week That Was
July 1, 2006
The Week That Was (July 1, 2006) brought to you by SEPP
New on the Web: Atmospheric carbon dioxide is essential for plant life and human survival. See also letter on "Roses and CO2" (Item #1)
Much heat and smoke about "second-hand" smoke. The US Surgeon
General report surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/ cites the EPA
claim of 1992 of 3000 lung cancer deaths per year but does not quote the
CRS Report for Congress #95-1115 (Nov 14, 1995) "Environmental Tobacco
Smoke and Lung Cancer Risk." Other voices express both support and
skepticism about ETS (Item #2). For a recent wrap-up, see http://www.fumento.com/disease/smokingdebate.html
It's time to allow more offshore drilling for oil, says the Wash Post (Item #3). The House passed a bill last week; now on to the Senate.
The trend towards "trends" - some fallacies (Item #5)
Coal still rules in Europe -and is coming back strong (Item #6). Some wise words from Philip Stott at http://greenspin.blogspot.com/2006/06/coming-clean-over-climate-change.html
The "Hockey stick" report of the National Academy, 22 June
2006, does not support the Hockeystick but shows a distinct Little Ice
Age and Medieval Warm Period. See
Gorey Truths: 25 inconvenient truths for Al Gore. By Iain Murray (Item
And finally, ABC wants to know how global warming is affecting YOU.
Some surprising responses in Item #9.
Carbon dioxide makes roses grow faster and better in greenhouses (NY
Times June 30). This account should settle any remaining doubts that higher
levels of CO2 can indeed benefit plant growth, agricultural crops as well
as forests. Here the owners of greenhouses are using waste CO2 from oil
refineries that would otherwise be discharged into the atmosphere. (Recent
studies in field experiments suggest that the fertilizing effects of CO2
are present but not as large as in enclosed locations.)
U.S. Details Dangers of Secondhand Smoking 'Serious Health Hazard' Is Cited
By Marc Kaufman
Secondhand smoke dramatically increases the risk of heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmokers and can be controlled only by making indoor spaces smoke-free, according to a comprehensive report issued yesterday by U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona.
"The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought," Carmona said. "The scientific evidence is now indisputable: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults."
The report does not present new scientific data but is an analysis of the best research on secondhand smoke. It said, for instance, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated last year that exposure to secondhand smoke kills more than 3,000 nonsmokers from lung cancer, approximately 46,000 from coronary heart disease, and as many as 430 newborns from sudden infant death syndrome.
TheSurgeon General directly accused the tobacco industry of trying to minimize the scientific consensus on the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke.
"The industry has funded or carried out research that has been judged
to be biased, supported scientists to generate letters to editors that
criticized research publications, attempted to undermine the findings
of key studies, assisted in establishing a scientific society with a journal,
and attempted to sustain controversy even as the scientific community
reached consensus," the report says.
From Reason Foundation June 30, 2006
In a report this week, Surgeon General Richard Carmona called secondhand smoke an "alarming" public health hazard and declared, "Smoke-free environments are the only approach that protects nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke." In an op-ed for USA Today, Reason's Jacob Sullum, author of the book For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health, writes, "Surgeon General Richard Carmona says secondhand smoke is a deadly public health hazard, lending support to government bans on smoking in private businesses. Surgeons general have been saying the same thing for two decades, but that doesn't make it right. The dangers posed by secondhand smoke are debatable and likely to remain so given the limitations of epidemiology.
It's well established that tobacco smoke can raise the risk of diseases
such as lung cancer and heart disease. The question is how much it takes...Whether
secondhand smoke is a health hazard or merely a nuisance, people who want
to avoid it can do so by avoiding businesses that allow smoking. A free
society that respects diversity should make room for people with different
preferences." The full column is here:
The Dangers of Second-hand Smoke
The new surgeon general's report on secondhand smoke should demolish any lingering contentions that inhaling the fumes from smokers is simply a nuisance that should be tolerated, not a health hazard that needs to be eliminated entirely. The report persuasively argues that inhaling secondhand smoke can cause both immediate and long-term harm to the millions of Americans, young and old, who are still regularly exposed to it despite crackdowns in many states and localities.
Although the strength of the evidence varies from one ailment to another, the report cites many alarming findings. The smoke inhaled by adult nonsmokers increases their risk of heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. Such smoke is even more dangerous to children and infants because it is a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma.
Surgeon General Richard Carmona refrained from calling for a federal
ban on smoking at work or in public places, but his report surely strengthens
the case for such a ban either at the federal level or in any state or
locality that has yet to crack down. The report concludes that halfhearted
measures like separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and
ventilating buildings won't suffice. The only sure way to protect nonsmokers
from the dangerous chemicals in secondhand smoke is to eliminate all smoking
"No amount of air filtration can eliminate the health hazards of
secondhand smoke, according to a new U.S. surgeon general's report that
could challenge a controversial loophole in Chicago's impending ban on
smoking in public places," according to The Chicago Tribune. In "Too
Much Fire About Smoking," Thomas A. Firey, managing editor of Cato's
Regulation magazine, writes, "A liberal society favors maximum liberty
for its citizens, as long as that liberty doesn't infringe on someone
else's rights. Neither a mandated smoking ban nor smokers lighting up
wherever they want is consistent with the ideals of a liberal society.
Elected officials should choose to support those ideals and give both
smokers and nonsmokers the bars and restaurants that they want."
Peers attack public smoking ban
A ban on smoking in public places is not justified by the risks to health from passive smoking, a committee of peers has said. MPs voted in February by a huge margin to ban smoking from all pubs and private members' clubs in England. The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee says MPs failed to consider evidence that passive smoking is more risky in the home.
Wash Post editorial, June 28, 2006
FOR THE PAST quarter of a century, the federal government has banned oil and gas drilling in most U.S. coastal waters. Efforts to relax the ban have been repelled on environmental grounds, but it is time to revisit this policy. Canada and Norway, two countries that care about the environment, have allowed offshore drilling for years and do not regret it. Offshore oil rigs in the western Gulf of Mexico, one of the exceptions to the ban imposed by Congress, endured Hurricane Katrina without spills. The industry's safety record is impressive, and it's even possible that the drilling ban increases the danger of oil spills in coastal waters: Less local drilling means more incoming traffic from oil tankers, which by some reckonings are riskier. Although balancing energy needs with the environment is always hard, the prohibition on offshore extraction cannot be justified.
The House of Representatives is about to vote on this question, probably tomorrow. A bipartisan bill would maintain a ban on drilling within 50 miles of the shoreline and allow states to extend that to 100 miles. But it would lift the congressional restriction on drilling beyond that perimeter. This compromise would give states that are unwilling to countenance the perceived environmental risks a reasonable measure of control over their coasts. But it would also open the way to more drilling.
The economic benefit of that drilling would be especially pronounced if it were aimed at natural gas extraction. Despite all the rhetoric about energy independence, it doesn't make much difference whether the United States gets its oil from its own coastal waters or whether it buys it on world markets. There is one global price for oil; producing more from U.S. waters will bring down that global price, benefiting all consuming countries rather than just U.S. consumers. But natural gas is traded globally only in small quantities, in liquefied form; nearly all of the gas consumed in the United States is produced domestically or in Canada. So producing more natural gas in U.S. coastal waters would bring down U.S. natural gas prices rather than world prices. Because natural gas is much cleaner than its main alternative, coal, this would have environmental as well as economic benefits.
Unfortunately, the House legislation is flawed. It diverts billions of dollars' worth of oil and gas royalties from the federal government to the states, even though the waters from which the resources will come are federal. The states nearest to the oil rigs may feel they carry most of the perceived environmental risks, and some sharing of revenue may be justified to bring them along, but the House bill leans too far in that direction. We hope the bill passes tomorrow, but we also hope this flaw is fixed before it becomes law.
EPA Rule Is Making Ozone Smog Worse The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which forces Americans to spend billions of dollars per year to address ozone air quality, is actually making the situation worse, says Joel Schwartz of the American Enterprise Institute.
The evidence is an air pollution phenomenon known as the "weekend effect."
o Ozone is formed in the atmosphere on sunny days from reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Every weekend in cities across America, ozone-forming emissions decline...but ozone levels stay the same or even rise.
o This is a problem because EPA and state regulators assume that reducing both VOC and NOx is necessary to attain the federal eight-hour ozone standard
Scientists have observed the weekend effect for years, and numerous studies suggest NOx reductions are the culprit:
o Although NOx and VOC work together to form ozone, the effect is nonlinear and depends on the ratio of VOC to NOx in the atmosphere. At high VOC-to-NOx ratios -- a condition referred to as being "NOx-limited" -- reducing NOx reduces ozone, while reducing VOC has no effect.
o On the other hand, at low VOC-to-NOx ratios -- a "VOC limited" condition--reducing VOC reduces ozone, while reducing NOx increases ozone. Under VOC-limited conditions, if both VOC and NOx are reduced, the NOx reductions at best blunt the expected benefits of lower VOC--and at worst counteract them.
Over the past few decades, American metropolitan areas have been moving further into the VOC-limited regime. Eight-hour ozone levels declined only slightly during the 1990s in most of the United States, and even rose in a few areas, despite large reductions in VOC and smaller reductions in NOx. A decade of VOC and NOx reductions had little effect on ozone levels. The NOx reductions are the leading explanation, says Schwartz.
Source: Joel Schwartz, "EPA Rule Is Making Ozone Smog Worse," Environment News, May 1, 2006.
For text: http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=18973
Supreme Court Rules on EPA Regulation
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that regulators may have misinterpreted the federal Clean Water Act when they refused to allow two Michigan property owners to build a shopping mall and condos on wetlands they own, the Associated Press reports. The court voided rulings against June Carabell and John Rapanos, who wanted to fill wetlands they owned near Lake St. Clair in Macomb County, Michigan. Carabell wanted to build condos on wetlands she owns about a mile from the lake. Rapanos wanted to put a shopping mall on his property, which is about 20 miles from the lake.
According to Tim Lynch and Mark Moller, authors of Cato's friend-of-the-court
brief in support of Mr. Rapanos, the Court reached the right decision:
"If the government can regulate any land from which water occasionally
drains, no matter how speculative the effect of this drainage on navigable
water, wetlands law gives it almost limitless jurisdiction over private
property, except perhaps in the heart of the Mojave desert. In essence,
the federal government's reading of the Clean Water Act would turn the
EPA into a vast national zoning board."
Getting Real On Air Pollution And Health
There's no question that air pollution kills, but today's fears are centered on the extent to which current, far lower air pollution levels can be harmful, says Joel Schwartz of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
o The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently implemented tough new standards for ozone and soot that will cost at least an additional $100 billion per year -- or about $1,000 per household -- and the agency plans to clamp down still further in the future.
o However, the EPA attributes well over 90 percent of the benefits of its clean air programs to improvements in human health; thus, a key policy question is whether EPA's health-benefit claims are credible.
o For instance, going from 2002 ozone levels, which were by far the highest of the past several years, to nationwide compliance will reduce respiratory-related hospital admissions and emergency room visits by no more than a few tenths of a percent.
o Claims of an air pollution-asthma link by health experts have also been undermined by recent research; while the prevalence of asthma has nearly doubled, air pollution has sharply declined at the same time, making air pollution an implausible culprit.
o The most serious claim about air pollution is that it prematurely kills tens of thousands of Americans each year.
Even though the latter is not true, it would be nice if we didn't have
to give up anything in order to achieve additional reductions in air pollution;
but in the real world, the costs of air pollution control mean higher
prices, lower wages and lower returns on investments, says Schwartz.
The climate usually behaves in an unpredictable and irregular fashion. Weather forecasters do their best to discover the influence of the seasons, the air and sea currents and anything else they can monitor. They have models, but they have to be continually tested and adjusted, and they are still often wrong..
One thing the climate does not do is to change consistently in a linear fashion; either up or down. Sequences of climate observations are almost always irregular and subject to unexpected changes. This makes it difficult to argue that the climate can be overwhelmingly controlled by a single, steadily increasing influence; the rise in greenhouse gases.
Everybody nowadays is familiar with the technique of linear regression, which uses the method of least-squares to draw a straight line through any sequence of numbers plotted against time. This used to be a difficult and time-consuming process, but now it is available on every "scientific" calculator, merely by pressing a few buttons, and it is a popular facility on every spreadsheet. Everything can be linearised and converted into a "trend".
The beauty of irregular sequences, such as climate observations, is that you can obtain almost any "trend" you wish, purely by choosing the right starting point and the right ending point. The IPCC and climate scientists revel in this manipulative process.
For example the unreliable global surface temperature record is highly irregular, on several time scales. If you take the annual time scale and the smoothing of the Jones record, beloved of the IPCC, you find
* A temperature fall from 1855 to 1860
They routinely select which one of these suits them for particular arguments. They never go back to 1855 because it looks better if they take 1900 to 1998, namely a "century" They do not care that the early part could not conceivably have been influenced by an increase in greenhouse gases, and they do not try to explain why the temperature should fall from 1942 to 1950.
Their statement about "warming observed over the last fifty years" was carefully chosen to avoid the fall in temperature in the surface record from 1942 to 1950, and to eliminate from consideration the two lower troposphere observations, the radiosondes, which began in 1958, and the satellites, which began in 1978.
Since the rise in temperature from 1950 to 1978 was not very impressive, they shifted ground, and chose 1979 to 2005 for their more recent claims, which is much more impressive, provided you ride over the 1998 peak, and ignore the fact that it is falling after this. They ignore the low or absent temperature rises of the previous periods. It is as if the greenhouse effect only began in 1978.
The latest NOAA Report, which I have dissected in the following paper
on the NZ Climate Science website
Because this peak is higher in the lower troposphere than on the surface, they can use it to claim, that the "trends" are the same in both sets of records. As I point out, if you choose a different climate sequence for each, which avoids the 1998 El Niño; 1958 to 1997 for the radiosondes and 1978 to 1997 for the satellites, the "trend" in the lower troposphere suddenly drops to zero, whereas the "trend" on the surface remains high, so it cannot be due to greenhouse forcing.
Another use of linear aggression was mentioned in my last newsletter, with sea level records. If you study the actual sea level records on the website
you will find that for most parts of the world recent sea level records show little change. This is particularly true of the Pacific, and includes Tuvalu and New Zealand. But the global warmers will have none of it. They conceal the actual records and make use of often fragmentary past records to claim that the sea level is rising.
As with the lower troposphere temperatures, they can also make use of the 1998 El Niño, which gave a convenient low peak. But the usual "trend" chosen is over the last 100 years -- despite the unlikely influence of greenhouse gases at the beginning -- and the fact that few of the records are even slightly linear.
They try another trick. Your pocket calculator provides a measure of the accuracy of a linear trend with the "standard deviation". Most people do not know that this is only valid if the data are distributed on a Gaussian or "bell" curve; and even if they are, one standard deviation gives you only two chances in three that the true value falls between these limits. Proper scientists usually quote two standard deviations. which gives a one-in-20 chance that the true value is within the limits.
Sea level scientists always use only one standard deviation; the data are so irregular that two standard deviations would show up their "trends" as ridiculous
Yet another example is ocean heat. They have no hesitation in drawing a linear "trend" through a record, which is plainly periodic. The beginning of the curve, in 1955, is the bottom of a trough. It goes up to a peak in 1980 and then down again to 1988, Then up, so in 2004 we probably have another peak. But a linear "trend" shows that there is a large rise since 1955, ignoring the fact that the current figure is not much higher than that for 1980. The periodic character is almost certainly associated with the El Niño phenomenon, but the spurious "trend" has to be blamed on greenhouse gases -- even when there is no temperature rise up aloft..
The trouble is, as soon as the current fall in temperature is discovered,
they will soon be switching from greenhouse warming to their favourite
topic of the 1970s, the coming ice age.
SCHWARZE PUMPE, Germany - In the shadow of two hulking boilers, which spew 10 million tons of carbon dioxide a year into the air, the Swedish owners of this coal-fired power station recently broke ground on what is to be the world's first carbon-free plant fueled by coal. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, presided over the ceremony.
"We accept the problem of climate change," said Reinhardt Hassa, a senior executive at Vattenfall, which operates the plant. "If we want a future for coal, we have to adopt new technologies. It is not enough just to make incremental improvements."
But the new plant, which will be just a demonstration model, pales next to the eight coal-fired power stations Germany plans to build for commercial use between from now to 2011 - none of them carbon-free.
"That is really a disappointing track record," said Stephan Singer, the director of climate and energy policy at the World Wide Fund for Nature in Brussels. "Just replacing old coal plants with new coal plants won't enable Germany to meet stricter carbon emission targets."
Europe likes to think of itself as a place that has moved beyond its sooty industrial past, with energy that comes from the windmills that dot the Dutch countryside and the Danish coastline or the carbon-free nuclear plants that dominate France's power industry.
But with oil prices soaring and worries rising about the reliability of gas piped from Russia, Europe must depend heavily on that great industrial-age relic, coal: a cheap, plentiful fuel, but one that emits twice the carbon dioxide of natural gas. Coal-fired plants generated half the power in Germany and Britain during the chilly winter just past.
While Europeans stand out for their commitment to controlling global warming gases, some of their largest energy companies are reluctant to invest in technologies that could further protect the environment, like equipment in the demonstration plant here that will trap carbon dioxide and pump it into underground storage areas. Only a handful of carbon-free plants are planned in the European Union.
There is another downside to coal, evident barely a mile from the plant here. Bulldozers have begun demolishing a 450-year-old mill town, which blocks the path of the open-pit mine that supplies coal to the plant. The last residents are being forced to pack their belongings and abandon their homes for a new settlement nearby.
Such uprooting is an unavoidable cost of Europe's hunger for coal, executives here say. They also say the technology to capture carbon dioxide is too costly, at a time when they are already spending billions of euros to replace Europe's aging power plants. Finding places to store the carbon dioxide is a headache in countries like Germany, which are densely populated and have a history of protesting against the storage of more troublesome pollutants like nuclear waste.
In Europe, where power companies say they have cleaned up the visible pollutants - like sulfur dioxide -- from their coal plants more diligently than their American counterparts, some executives are suspicious of current proposals to convert to "clean coal" technology.
They describe them as mainly public-relations ploys, championed by the Bush administration and American power companies, even as only a few plants that capture and sequester carbon dioxide are actually planned for the United States. They suspect the Americans are trying to circumvent mandatory cuts in carbon emissions and avoid making steady improvements in the efficiency of their plants.
"There's a lot of media-driven talk," said Alfred Tacke, chief executive of Steag, Germany's fifth-largest power generator, which has eight coal plants scattered in the Rhine, Ruhr and Saar regions.
"In the United States, you defer all investments, because in the future maybe you have the perfect solution," said Mr. Tacke, who was deputy economics minister under the previous German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. "I would prefer a solution that improves the situation now."
By that, Mr. Tacke means using existing technology, like raising the temperature or pressure of the steam that turns the turbine, to make conventional coal plants more efficient. Steag is building such a plant in the Ruhr city of Duisburg - a $1 billion project that, he says, will be more efficient than any rival in the United States.
The debate over coal in the European Union has to be seen within the context of the Kyoto Protocol, a global climate-control agreement that commits Germany and 34 other nations to measurable reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and several other greenhouse gases.
With a legal imperative to cut emissions by up to a fifth within the next six years, power companies here face a clearer challenge than those in non-Kyoto countries, like the United States or China.
Yet while the Kyoto pact has focused minds, environmental advocates say it has not yet pushed companies far enough. In 2005, without any extraordinary effort, emissions of carbon dioxide in Germany, Britain and other countries actually came in below the caps set by national governments in the first phase of the Kyoto process, which runs from 2005 to 2007.
This, critics said, suggests that the reductions were not tough enough; much of the improvements were simply a natural outgrowth of slow economic growth and the closing of outdated coal operations. Britain and Germany both pledged to impose deeper cuts in the next phase, which starts in 2008 and runs through 2012.
"It's true that the first phase of emissions reductions are not that challenging," said Daniel Lashof, deputy director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington. "Europe can make its targets with only incremental improvements."
Though Europeans are united in their concern about global warming, they have a patchwork of energy policies. Some countries, like Germany and Poland, remain heavily dependent on coal, while others, like France and Finland, are redoubling their investment in nuclear power. Italy and Spain use a lot of oil and gas, though Italy is converting some oil-fired plants to coal.
The recent spike in the price of oil has thrown the spotlight back on coal, even in places like Britain, where the industry had been in a death spiral for decades. Richard Budge, a longtime British coal executive, has announced plans to reopen a colliery in South Yorkshire. With financing from Russian investors, he also hopes to build a $1.5 billion power plant on the site, equipped with technology to capture and store carbon dioxide.
After years in disrepute, coal is still struggling for public acceptance in Britain. The government is drafting a new energy policy that is expected to stress windmills and other renewable energy sources. But economic and geopolitical realities, Mr. Budge said, make a bigger role for coal inevitable. "Wind farms only work one day in three, and nobody knows which day," he said, with only a hint of exaggeration, in a telephone interview.
Coal, he noted, is not a hostage to politics. When Russia abruptly switched off its natural gas pipeline to Ukraine in January over a pricing dispute, gas supplies dwindled all over Western Europe. To Germany and other gas importers, it was a chilling reminder of their vulnerability. "Fifty-eight percent of the world's gas is owned by Russia, Iran and Qatar," Mr. Budge said. "Coal is on every continent."
Here in eastern Germany, vast deposits of brown coal, also known as lignite, lurk beneath the table-flat countryside. There are similar deposits in the Rhine and Ruhr valleys in the west. Though Germany has been mining in these regions for decades, the supply is far from exhausted.
So great is the demand that the government allows companies to forcibly resettle villages that lie in the path of their excavators. The process is costly and litigious and can take more than a decade. "This is a very difficult issue for us," Mr. Hassa said, noting that Vattenfall has begun negotiating with 230 residents of a village next to a mine, for a relocation that would not happen until 2018.
Haidemühle, the village being swallowed by the Schwarze Pumpe mine, acquiesced to relocation fairly quietly. Among the few holdouts was Heinz Attula, 84, who said Vattenfall did not pay him enough for his property. But even he was ready to move to a new home provided by the company. "It's not an easy step," Mr. Attula said, as he walked his dog past deserted houses and a ghostly schoolyard recently. "I've lived my whole life in this town. But I know the mining must go on."
The economic forces are getting harder to resist. Coal is Germany's main generator of electricity, and the government plans to phase out the next largest source, nuclear power, by 2021. Though use of natural gas is growing - Germany and Russia are jointly building a pipeline under the Baltic Sea - last winter's cut-off left a bad taste in Berlin.
"This really changed the thinking of politicians and economists," said Johannes F. Lambertz, a member of the management board of RWE Power, the No. 1 electricity generator in Germany and No. 3 in Britain. "People now talk about competitiveness and security together."
Coal is the bedrock of RWE's business, and its strategy illustrates the tension between environmental progress and the status quo. The company is expanding its huge BoA plant in the Rhine valley, which uses brown coal, and it plans a new black, or hard, coal plant, east of the Ruhr valley. Neither, at least initially, will be equipped to capture and store carbon dioxide.
Long viewed as a holdout, RWE recently surprised competitors by announcing its first carbon-free plant, scheduled to go into service in 2014. The $1.2 billion project would have a capacity of 450 megawatts, more than ten times that of the pilot plant in Schwarze Pumpe.
"We have to be prepared for a scenario in which carbon emission reductions are much greater than today," Mr. Lambertz said in an interview at RWE Power's headquarters in Cologne. "We have to keep all our options open since we face an uncertain future."
With so few details and such a long timetable, critics said the announcement was a public relations maneuver, at a time when the German government is setting the next stage of emissions reduction targets. "Last year, RWE said it was skeptical about a carbon-free plant before 2015," said Brian Ricketts, a coal industry analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris. "It's a game between industry and government."
While Europe's longer-term reductions in emissions are still undecided, there is a general agreement that they will have to be radical - if only to compensate for the additional greenhouse gases being generated by China and India, to say nothing of the United States.
The plant at Schwarze Pumpe shows how European industry is adapting to this future. Originally built in 1955 by East German Communists, it was equipped with the best technology then available. But it still contributed to East Germany's reputation for horrendous pollution.
The town's name translates as "black pump," and outsiders regularly assume it refers to its pollution record. Actually it stems from a tale that in the Thirty Years' War of the 1600's, townspeople painted their pump black to trick invaders into thinking the water was infected with the plague.
After German reunification in 1990, the government opted to replace the Schwarze Pumpe plant. The new one, opened in 1998, is equipped with filters and scrubbers that reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 91 percent, nitrogen oxide by 61 percent, and almost completely eliminated dust. Carbon dioxide emissions were reduced only 31 percent, however.
Vattenfall's carbon-free plant will burn the coal in an atmosphere of pure oxygen and recirculated gas. Three quarters of the carbon dioxide produced by the burning is recycled back into the boiler. What remains is pressurized into a liquid-gas mixture and injected underground. Mr. Hassa said it was no accident that a Swedish company was on the vanguard of this effort. "The Swedish philosophy is different than the German philosophy," he said. "Climate change and environmental protection are more deeply rooted in Swedish society than in German society."
Vattenfall concedes it will not be able to produce carbon-free electricity
on a large scale until at least 2015. Still, it says it has little choice
but to start now. "In the long run," said a spokesman, Martin
May, "we'll have to reduce emissions by 60 percent to 70 percent."
Germany to spark 'climate crisis'
The German government is about to trigger a new crisis in Europe's flagship
climate policy, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). BBC News understands
the German cabinet is likely to agree a deal that will reduce carbon emissions
from industry by only 0.6% between 2004 and 2012.
Environmental groups describe the target as "pathetic and shameful". "These figures are unbelievably unambitious," said Regina Gunther from WWF Germany. "It is shameful that our environment minister has agreed to this."
Climate analysts now fear a meltdown of EU climate leadership. "I have been a big supporter of the EU ETS, but hearing the German news I feel more depressed than I ever have done about our ability to tackle climate change," said Professor Michael Grubb of the UK Carbon Trust, set up by the British government to help create a low-carbon economy. "I really believed that Europe would lead the way through the EU ETS but now I wonder whether this will ever happen."
The news will offer comfort to US climate sceptics who predicted that Europe would talk big on climate change but fail to impose large carbon cuts on its own industries.
The decision represents a major success for the German business lobby. Last year, German industries were so successful in lobbying that their government handed them 21 million tones of carbon permits more than they actually needed. This pushed down the value of carbon in the EU ETS carbon market and made emissions savings less attractive to businesses across the EU. The carbon price bounced back when carbon traders found that some nations such as the UK had forced unexpectedly large CO2 cuts on their power sectors.
A German environment ministry spokesman, Michael Schroeren, argued that his nation's carbon targets up to 2012 were stricter than they appeared. He said last year's carbon emissions total of 474 million tonnes from big industry might have been anomalously low, so Germany had to allow for that. Mr Schroeren said Germany was still committed to its Kyoto targets, but would achieve carbon cuts through other measures.
One plan is to cut three million tonnes of carbon by training motorists to drive more economically. The normally temperate Professor Grubb poured scorn on the suggestion of an anomaly.
"The German position is ridiculous - their emissions had been coming down over a long period of time. Last year's figures are definitely not a blip and this agreement is certainly nothing to do with protecting the climate."
Environmentalists are also angry that the German government has decided to hand companies all their emissions permits free of charge. The EU encourages member states to auction up to 10% of permits in order to create a more genuine market in which firms have to reveal their true intentions. But this has been rejected.
The UK says it will auction between 2% and 10% of permits. The UK will cut CO2 between three and eight million tonnes.
At least the Germans will be announcing their EU ETS plans on deadline on Friday. Most other EU nations do not have their plans ready.
The UK government is waiting on the German decision because in the last phase of the EU ETS, British firms complained that the Germans had been given too many carbon permits, conferring a competitive advantage.
The Swedish government has agreed a lax cap on CO2 and is expected to stick to that unless Germany and the UK impose much stricter caps. This now looks most unlikely, and will badly undercut the EU's position in international negotiations on climate.
The German news comes as the European Environment Agency released figures showing that the EU is badly under-achieving on its Kyoto targets.
EU emissions rose by 0.4% in 2004 relative to the previous year. UK emissions rose 0.2 %. In 2004, the combined EU-15 emissions were only 0.9% below 1990.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, Germany has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions
by 21% from 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012.
The June 22, 2006 NAS report on climate reconstruction is a fairly reasonable technical document, although it is less than up-to-date and less than competent in some subjects. Regrettably, the Summary and press release are somewhat inconsistent with the Report and exhibit some bias; and the June 22 verbal comments of the panel exhibited strong pro-AGW bias by some members and should be ignored as not representative of the committee report.
For example, the Report upheld virtually all the technical criticisms of Mann's hockey stick (MBH 98 and related papers) by McIntyre and McKitrick (M&M), but some of the panel members went so far in their verbal comments as saying the M&M criticisms were not material - in this regard the committee's verbal comments were hogwash, or more accurately, whitewash.
In truth, Mann's hockey stick eliminated both the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period from the historic climate record. The NAS committee report confirmed the existence of both these climatic periods, but somehow managed to ignore this important point with respect to Mann's conclusions. Furthermore, the committee blamed the IPCC and the press for overemphasizing the impact of Mann's hockey stick on the global warming debate, ignoring the fact that Mann was a lead author in the IPCC report, who promulgated such overemphasis, and also that Mann's supporting website realclimate further promoted such overemphasis of his flawed conclusions.
Finally, the committee failed to comment on Mann's reluctance to provide his data for confirmation by others and Mann's refusal to provide full disclosure of his analytical methods. These acts have been condemned by other scientists in the strongest possible terms. some panel members also felt the need to say that the modern warming was clearly human-made, but the committee report provided no evidence to back up this claim. such statements should be deemed unsupported unless evidence is provided.
Some of my criticisms of the NAS report are its failure to address the following important issues: There are legitimate questions about the accuracy of the surface temperature database. much of the current alleged warming is based on few thermometric measurements in the polar regions from Russia and Canada. however, the USA's NOAA data set, which is likely the very best quality database in the world, shows slight summer and fall cooling in the USA from 1930 to 2005, and about 0.5 C warming only in winter and spring seasons; see http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/cag3/na.html
The committee failed to recognize that the alleged rise in surface temperatures as measured by thermometry is inconsistent with the satellite/balloon records, which showed little or no net warming in the lower troposphere (LT) from 1980 to 2000 (including the 1998 El Nino spike which quickly reversed itself).
Attribution of recent warming to human-made CO2 ignores the effect of
solar variation on cosmic rays and the resulting changes in low-level
clouds. the net impact: A stronger sun is amplified by the cosmic- ray
effect, and a weaker sun causes even more cooling due to the same cosmic-
ray effect . see Veizer and Shaviv (2003) and Veizer (2005) http://www.gsajournals.org/pdfserv/10.1130%2f1052-5173(2003)013%3c0004:cdopc%3e2.0.co%3b2
The committee failed to recognize that NASA stated in their long-range
solar forecast issued May 10, 2006: "Solar cycle 25 peaking around
2022 could be one of the weakest in centuries." http://science.NASa.gov/headlines/y2006/10may_longrange.htm?list3134
[please note that I predicted that global cooling would start about 2020-2030, in my September 1, 2002 article in the Calgary Herald (based on discussions with Dr. Tim Patterson, paleoclimatologist, of Carleton University).]
Comments by SFS
The Hockeystick of MBH98 made two claims, adopted also in the Summary of the IPCC-TAR report (2001):
1) In the past 1000 years, temperatures declined smoothly (until about 1850) showing no significant natural variations, such as the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period (around 1000 AD).
2) Further, proxies showed higher temperatures in the 20th century than around 1000 AD.
The NAS report contradicts both of these claims. One needs to look only
at the key graph of NAS Report in Brief at http://dels.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/Surface_Temps_final.pdf
Look only at the four curves based on conventional proxy data; stripping away the curves based on bore holes, glaciers, and instruments -- and compare with the IPCC Hockeystick graph.
In addition, Greenland ice-core data of Dahl-Jensen (direct thermometer
measurements in ice boreholes) and of Cuffey (based on oxygen-18 data)
show warmer temperatures around 1000 AD than today. Unfortunately, no
such data are published for the rest of the globe; but if the cause of
these century-scale climate variations is solar, then a global effect
is at least plausible.
With An Inconvenient Truth, the companion book to former Vice President Al Gore's global-warming movie, currently number nine in Amazon sales rank, this is a good time to point out that the book, which is a largely pictorial representation of the movie's graphical presentation, exaggerates the evidence surrounding global warming. Ironically, the former Vice President leaves out many truths that are inconvenient for his argument. Here are just 25 of them.
1. Carbon Dioxide's Effect on Temperature. The relationship between global temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2), on which the entire scare is founded, is not linear. Every molecule of CO2 added to the atmosphere contributes less to warming than the previous one. The book's graph on p. 66-67 is seriously misleading. Moreover, even the historical levels of CO2 shown on the graph are disputed. Evidence from plant fossil-remains suggest that there was as much CO2 in the atmosphere about 11,000 years ago as there is today.
2. Kilimanjaro. The snows of Kilimanjaro are melting not because of global warming but because of a local climate shift that began 100 years ago. The authors of a report in the International Journal of Climatology "develop a new concept for investigating the retreat of Kilimanjaro's glaciers, based on the physical understanding of glacier-climate interactions." They note that, "The concept considers the peculiarities of the mountain and implies that climatological processes other than air temperature control the ice recession in a direct manner. A drastic drop in atmospheric moisture at the end of the 19th century and the ensuing drier climatic conditions are likely forcing glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro."
3. Glaciers. Glaciers around the world have been receding at around the same pace for over 100 years. Research published by the National Academy of Sciences last week indicates that the Peruvian glacier on p. 53-53 probably disappeared a few thousand years ago.
4. The Medieval Warm Period. Al Gore says that the "hockey stick" graph that shows temperatures remarkably steady for the last 1,000 years has been validated, and ridicules the concept of a "medieval warm period." That's not the case. Last year, a team of leading paleo-climatologists said, "When matching existing temperature reconstructions the time series display a reasonably coherent picture of major climatic episodes: 'Medieval Warm Period,' 'Little Ice Age' and 'Recent Warming.'" They go on to conclude, "So what would it mean, if the reconstructions indicate a larger or smaller temperature amplitude? We suggest that the former situation, i.e. enhanced variability during pre-industrial times, would result in a redistribution of weight towards the role of natural factors in forcing temperature changes, thereby relatively devaluing the impact of anthropogenic emissions and affecting future temperature predictions."
5. The Hottest Year. Satellite temperature measurements say that 2005 wasn't the hottest year on record - 1998 was - and that temperatures have been stable since 2001 (p.73).
6. Heat Waves. The summer heat wave that struck Europe in 2003 was caused by an atmospheric pressure anomaly; it had nothing to do with global warming. As the United Nations Environment Program reported in September 2003, "This extreme whether [sic] was caused by an anti-cyclone firmly anchored over the western European land mass holding back the rain-bearing depressions that usually enter the continent from the Atlantic ocean. This situation was exceptional in the extended length of time (over 20 days) during which it conveyed very hot dry air up from south of the Mediterranean."
7. Record Temperatures. Record temperatures - hot and cold - are set every day around the world; that's the nature of records. Statistically, any given place will see four record high temperatures set every year. There is evidence that daytime high temperatures are staying about the same as for the last few decades, but nighttime lows are gradually rising. Global warming might be more properly called, "Global less cooling." (On this, see Patrick J. Michaels book, Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.)
8. Hurricanes. There is no overall global trend of hurricane-force storms getting stronger that has anything to do with temperature. A recent study in Geophysical Research Letters found: "The data indicate a large increasing trend in tropical cyclone intensity and longevity for the North Atlantic basin and a considerable decreasing trend for the Northeast Pacific. All other basins showed small trends, and there has been no significant change in global net tropical cyclone activity. There has been a small increase in global Category 4-5 hurricanes from the period 1986-1995 to the period 1996-2005. Most of this increase is likely due to improved observational technology. These findings indicate that other important factors govern intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones besides SSTs [sea surface temperatures]."
9. Tornadoes. Records for numbers of tornadoes are set because we can now record more of the smaller tornadoes (see, for instance, the Tornado FAQ at Weather Underground).
10. European Flooding. European flooding is not new (p. 107). Similar flooding happened in 2003. Research from Michael Mudelsee and colleagues from the University of Leipzig published in Nature (Sept. 11, 2003) looked at data reaching as far back as 1021 (for the Elbe) and 1269 (for the Oder). They concluded that there is no upward trend in the incidence of extreme flooding in this region of central Europe.
11. Shrinking Lakes. Scientists investigating the disappearance of Lake Chad (p.116) found that most of it was due to human overuse of water. "The lake's decline probably has nothing to do with global warming, report the two scientists, who based their findings on computer models and satellite imagery made available by NASA. They attribute the situation instead to human actions related to climate variation, compounded by the ever increasing demands of an expanding population" ("Shrinking African Lake Offers Lesson on Finite Resources," National Geographic, April 26, 2001). Lake Chad is also a very shallow lake that has shrunk considerably throughout human history.
12. Polar Bears. Polar bears are not becoming endangered. A leading Canadian polar bear biologist wrote recently, "Climate change is having an effect on the west Hudson population of polar bears, but really, there is no need to panic. Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear (sic) to be affected at present."
13. The Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream, the ocean conveyor belt, is not at risk of shutting off in the North Atlantic (p. 150). Carl Wunsch of MIT wrote to the journal Nature in 2004 to say, "The only way to produce an ocean circulation without a Gulf Stream is either to turn off the wind system, or to stop the Earth's rotation, or both"
14. Invasive Species. Gore's worries about the effect of warming on species ignore evolution. With the new earlier caterpillar season in the Netherlands, an evolutionary advantage is given to birds that can hatch their eggs earlier than the rest. That's how nature works. Also, "invasive species" naturally extend their range when climate changes. As for the pine beetle given as an example of invasive species, Rob Scagel, a forest microclimate specialist in British Columbia, said, "The MPB (mountain pine beetle) is a species native to this part of North America and is always present. The MPB epidemic started as comparatively small outbreaks and through forest management inaction got completely out of hand."
15. Species Loss. When it comes to species loss, the figures given on p. 163 are based on extreme guesswork, as the late Julian Simon pointed out. We have documentary evidence of only just over 1,000 extinctions since 1600 (see, for instance, Bjørn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist, p. 250).
16. Coral Reefs. Coral reefs have been around for over 500 million years. This means that they have survived through long periods with much higher temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations than today.
17. Malaria and other Infectious Diseases. Leading disease scientists contend that climate change plays only a minor role in the spread of emerging infectious diseases. In "Global Warming and Malaria: A Call for Accuracy" (The Lancet, June 2004), nine leading malariologists criticized models linking global warming to increased malaria spread as "misleading" and "display[ing] a lack of knowledge" of the subject.
18. Antarctic Ice. There is controversy over whether the Antarctic ice sheet is thinning or thickening. Recent scientific studies have shown a thickening in the interior at the same time as increased melting along the coastlines. Temperatures in the interior are generally decreasing. The Antarctic Peninsula, where the Larsen-B ice shelf broke up (p. 181) is not representative of what is happening in the rest of Antarctica. Dr. Wibjörn Karlén, Professor Emeritus of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology at Stockholm University, acknowledges, "Some small areas in the Antarctic Peninsula have broken up recently, just like it has done back in time. The temperature in this part of Antarctica has increased recently, probably because of a small change in the position of the low pressure systems." According to a forthcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate models based on anthropogenic forcing cannot explain the anomalous warming of the Antarctic Peninsula; thus, something natural is at work.
19. Greenland Climate. Greenland was warmer in the 1920s and 1930s than it is now. A recent study by Dr. Peter Chylek of the University of California, Riverside, addressed the question of whether man is directly responsible for recent warming: "An important question is to what extent can the current (1995-2005) temperature increase in Greenland coastal regions be interpreted as evidence of man-induced global warming? Although there has been a considerable temperature increase during the last decade (1995 to 2005) a similar increase and at a faster rate occurred during the early part of the 20th century (1920 to 1930) when carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases could not be a cause. The Greenland warming of 1920 to 1930 demonstrates that a high concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is not a necessary condition for period of warming to arise. The observed 1995-2005 temperature increase seems to be within a natural variability of Greenland climate." (Petr Chylek et al., Geophysical Research Letters, 13 June 2006.)
20. Sea Level Rise. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not forecast sea-level rises of "18 to 20 feet." Rather, it says, "We project a sea level rise of 0.09 to 0.88 m for 1990 to 2100, with a central value of 0.48 m. The central value gives an average rate of 2.2 to 4.4 times the rate over the 20th century...It is now widely agreed that major loss of grounded ice and accelerated sea level rise are very unlikely during the 21st century." Al Gore's suggestions of much more are therefore extremely alarmist.
21. Population. Al Gore worries about population growth; Gore does not suggest a solution. Fertility in the developed world is stable or decreasing. The plain fact is that we are not going to reduce population back down to 2 billion or fewer in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the population in the developing world requires a significant increase in its standard of living to reduce the threats of premature and infant mortality, disease, and hunger. In The Undercover Economist, Tim Harford writes, "If we are honest, then, the argument that trade leads to economic growth, which leads to climate change, leads us then to a stark conclusion: we should cut our trade links to make sure that the Chinese, Indians and Africans stay poor. The question is whether any environmental catastrophe, even severe climate change, could possibly inflict the same terrible human cost as keeping three or four billion people in poverty. To ask that question is to answer it."
22. Energy Generation. A specific example of this is Gore's acknowledgement that 30 percent of global CO2 emissions come from wood fires used for cooking (p. 227). If we introduced affordable, coal-fired power generation into South Asia and Africa we could reduce this considerably and save over 1.6 million lives a year. This is the sort of solution that Gore does not even consider.
23. Carbon-Emissions Trading. The European Carbon Exchange Market, touted as "effective" on p. 252, has crashed.
24. The "Scientific Consensus." On the supposed "scientific consensus": Dr. Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, San Diego, (p. 262) did not examine a "large random sample" of scientific articles. She got her search terms wrong and thought she was looking at all the articles when in fact she was looking at only 928 out of about 12,000 articles on "climate change." Dr. Benny Peiser, of Liverpool John Moores University in England, was unable to replicate her study. He says, "As I have stressed repeatedly, the whole data set includes only 13 abstracts (~1%) that explicitly endorse what Oreskes has called the 'consensus view.' In fact, the vast majority of abstracts does (sic) not mention anthropogenic climate change. Moreover - and despite attempts to deny this fact - a handful of abstracts actually questions the view that human activities are the main driving force of 'the observed warming over the last 50 years.'" In addition, a recent survey of scientists following the same methodology as one published in 1996 found that about 30 percent of scientists disagreed to some extent or another with the contention that "climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes." Less than 10 percent "strongly agreed" with the statement. Details of both the survey and the failed attempt to replicate the Oreskes study can be found here..
25. Economic Costs. Even if the study Gore cites is right (p. 280-281), the United States will still emit massive amounts of CO2 after all the measures it outlines have been realized. Getting emissions down to the paltry levels needed to stabilize CO2 in the atmosphere would require, in Gore's own words, "a wrenching transformation" of our way of life. This cannot be done easily or without significant cost. The Kyoto Protocol, which Gore enthusiastically supports, would avert less than a tenth of a degree of warming in the next fifty years and would cost up to $400 billion a year to the U.S. All of the current proposals in Congress would cost the economy significant amounts, making us all poorer, with all that that entails for human health and welfare, while doing nothing to stop global warming.
Finally, Gore quotes Winston Churchill (p. 100) - but he should read
what Churchill said when he was asked what qualities a politician requires:
"The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week,
next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain
why it didn't happen."
ABC News was looking for stories from people whose lives have "been
directly affected by global warming." We received a couple of amusing
responses, including this from Mike Sierra: