|The Week That Was
Jul 29, 2006
NOTICES: No TWTW until Sept 15, 2006
The Week That Was (July 29, 2006) brought to you by SEPP
New on the Web: A unique climate conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, brought together supporters of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and some of the skeptics for an open discussion. Did any change their minds? Too early to tell.
It’s the end of the Hockey season. John Brignell (numberwatch.co.uk) is right on the mark (Item #2). The irony of all this is that the Hockeystick (even if it were correct) proves nothing at all about whether current warming is anthropogenic – in spite of IPCC claims of AGW in 2001. All it asserts is that the 20th century is the warmest in 1000 years. So what? The new IPCC report (2007) has already abandoned the Hockeystick. Nevertheless, its demise presents a useful lesson of the dangers of “consensus.” The death blow is the report by Ed Wegman, who is already being smeared for it.
Newsweek (April 28, 1975) describes the horrors of the incipient ice age in familiar-sounding terms – i.e. almost like those for warming. (Item #3). And: Ideas for warming the Planet – in 1976 when they were worried about global cooling (Item #4). [Scroll down to "fantastic engineering solutions" in http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/global%20cooling.htm]
After taking account of solar effects, there is little left for human GH causes of GW (Item #5).
The hurricane debate continues (Item #6): Subjective measurements and variable procedures make existing tropical cyclone databases insufficiently reliable to detect trends in the frequency of extreme cyclones. [Ref: Landsea et al., Science 28 July 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5786, pp. 452 - 454 DOI: 10.1126/science.1128448]
New Zealand scientists demand a Royal Commission to examine AGW claims, with possible withdrawal from Kyoto (Item #7).
The non-science and politics behind the EPA drive to tighten air-quality standards further (Item #8).
The State of California sues automakers over CO2 emissions, claiming smog problems and smearing scientific skeptics (Item #9). Meanwhile, sensible Greens point to the pollution from lawns and from lawnmowers (Item #10).
1. Cold Hard Facts
IN the debate on global warming, the data on the climate of Antarctica has been distorted, at different times, by both sides. As a polar researcher caught in the middle, I’d like to set the record straight.
In January 2002, a research paper about Antarctic temperatures, of which I was the lead author, appeared in the journal Nature. At the time, the Antarctic Peninsula was warming, and many people assumed that meant the climate on the entire continent was heating up, as the Arctic was. But the Antarctic Peninsula represents only about 15 percent of the continent’s land mass, so it could not tell the whole story of Antarctic climate. Our paper made the continental picture clearer.
My research colleagues and I found that from 1996 to 2000, one small, ice-free area of the Antarctic mainland had actually cooled. Our report also analyzed temperatures for the mainland in such a way as to remove the influence of the peninsula warming and found that, from 1966 to 2000, more of the continent had cooled than had warmed. Our summary statement pointed out how the cooling trend posed challenges to models of Antarctic climate and ecosystem change.
Newspaper and television reports focused on this part of the paper. And many news and opinion writers linked our study with another bit of polar research published that month, in Science, showing that part of Antarctica’s ice sheet had been thickening and erroneously concluded that the earth was not warming at all. “Scientific findings run counter to theory of global warming,” said a headline on an editorial in The San Diego Union-Tribune. One conservative commentator wrote, “It’s ironic that two studies suggesting that a new Ice Age may be under way may end the global warming debate.”
In a rebuttal in The Providence Journal, in Rhode Island, the lead author of the Science paper and I explained that our studies offered no evidence that the earth was cooling. But the misinterpretation had already become legend, and in the four and half years since, it has only grown.
Our results have been misused as “evidence” against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel “State of Fear” and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” Search my name on the Web, and you will find pages of links to everything from climate discussion groups to Senate policy committee documents all citing my 2002 study as reason to doubt that the earth is warming. One recent Web column even put words in my mouth. I have never said that “the unexpected colder climate in Antarctica may possibly be signaling a lessening of the current global warming cycle.” I have never thought such a thing either.
Our study did find that 58 percent of Antarctica cooled from 1966 to 2000. But during that period, the rest of the continent was warming. And climate models created since our paper was published have suggested a link between the lack of significant warming in Antarctica and the ozone hole over that continent. These models, conspicuously missing from the warming-skeptic literature, suggest that as the ozone hole heals thanks to worldwide bans on ozone-destroying chemicals all of Antarctica is likely to warm with the rest of the planet. An inconvenient truth?
Also missing from the skeptics’ arguments is the debate over our conclusions. Another group of researchers who took a different approach found no clear cooling trend in Antarctica. We still stand by our results for the period we analyzed, but unbiased reporting would acknowledge differences of scientific opinion.
The disappointing thing is that we are even debating the direction of climate change on this globally important continent. And it may not end until we have more weather stations on Antarctica and longer-term data that demonstrate a clear trend.
In the meantime, I would like to remove my name from the list of scientists who dispute global warming. I know my coauthors would as well.
2. End of the hockey season
Enter two heroes, the McCritics. They braved rejection by the once-great science journals, such as the gone-green Nature. They endured vilification by the jackals of the establishment. Yet they staunchly soldiered on. Unlike their adversaries, they boldly published not only their results but also their computer programs. How their opponents crowed when an error was discovered! Yet they ploughed on, proving that the methodology behind the hockeystick was invalid. Still they were ignored and maligned.
Then the US Cavalry appeared over the hill, in the form of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Committee appointed a group of statisticians of impeccable qualification and independence, under the leadership of Dr Edward Wegman, Professor of Statistics at George Mason University, who chairs the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. They have now produced a report that devastatingly demonstrates what we sceptics knew all along, that the hockeystick is pure nonsense.
Of course, the language is much more diplomatic than that, but the effect is no less dramatic. Among the conclusions in the summary are:
The report itself <http://energycommerce.house.gov/108/home/07142006_Wegman_Report.pdf > is a remarkably thorough piece of work, the implications of which will take some time to digest. It finds the criticisms [by] the McCritics compelling and valid.
“The papers of Mann et al. in themselves are written in a confusing manner, making it difficult for the reader to discern the actual methodology and what uncertainty is actually associated with these reconstructions. Vague terms such as moderate certainty (Mann et al. 1999) give no guidance to the reader as to how such conclusions should be weighed. While the works do have supplementary websites, they rely heavily on the reader’s ability to piece together the work and methodology from raw data. This is especially unsettling when the findings of these works are said to have global impact, yet only a small population could truly understand them. Thus, it is no surprise that Mann et al. claim a misunderstanding of their work by McIntyre and McKitrick.”
Regular readers of Number Watch might remember this site banging on about non-linearity and causation, so the next paragraph is of special interest:
“In their works, Mann et al. describe the possible causes of global climate change in terms of atmospheric forcings, such as anthropogenic, volcanic, or solar forcings. Another questionable aspect of these works is that linear relationships are assumed in all forcing-climate relationships. This is a significantly simplified model for something as complex as the earth’s climate, which most likely has complicated nonlinear cyclical processes on a multi-centennial scale that we do not yet understand. Mann et al. also infer that since there is a partial positive correlation between global mean temperatures in the 20th century and CO2 concentration, greenhouse-gas forcing is the dominant external forcing of the climate system. Osborn and Briffa make a similar statement, where they casually note that evidence for warming also occurs at a period where CO2 concentrations are high. A common phrase among statisticians is correlation does not imply causation. The variables affecting earth’s climate and atmosphere are most likely to be numerous and confounding. Making conclusive statements without specific findings with regard to atmospheric forcings suggests a lack of scientific rigor and possibly an agenda.”
And here is a nice remark for Gore, the BBC et al to appreciate:
“Specifically, global warming and its potentially negative consequences have been central concerns of both governments and individuals. The hockeystick reconstruction of temperature graphic dramatically illustrated the global-warming issue and was adopted by the IPCC and many governments as the poster graphic. The graphic’s prominence together with the fact that it is based on incorrect use of PCA puts Dr. Mann and his co-authors in a difficult face-saving position.”
The report reproduces the killer graph, by which McIntyre and McKitrick produced a hockeystick, using Mann’s methodology, from stationary, trendless red noise.
A particular delight is the [Wegman report's] network analysis of Mann and forty two other authors, which shows diagrammatically how they formed a closed coterie, who not only co-authored but also refereed each other’s publications. This phenomenon is, of course, not new, but it has never been so powerful in world affairs.
The report also takes note of the trail of the lonesome pine, by which crucial data for before 1421 were based on one tree. Global warming?
Anyone interested in real science and truth should offer gratitude and congratulations to McIntyre and McKitrick and also to Wegman’s committee. Mann, also, should be grateful for being dealt with in such a gentle manner, given his rather thuggish behaviour in trying to prevent valid criticism being published.
We must hope that the independent statisticians who performed the review know that they are likely to be in for character assassination and other ad hominem attacks, plus general vilification -- for they are dealing with religious zealotry of the most pernicious kind. Some of us lesser figures have become used to it, but they might be in for a shock.
Footnote: Our Man In Puerto Rico rightly admonishes your bending author for failing to give sufficient credit to the lone scholar, the late John Daly. He was the first to attack the hockeystick theory with hard evidence and he identified the existence of the coterie. It would be too much to hope that the victory of one honest amateur scientist over million-dollar teams of shysters would ever be acknowledged by the scientific establishment, but let some of us remember.
3. The Cooling World
The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon.
The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree -- a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion [in 1975 dollars] worth of damage in 13 U.S. states.
To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.
If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale, warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.
A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972.
Just what causes the onset of major and minor ice ages remains a mystery. Our knowledge of the mechanisms of climatic change is at least as fragmentary as our data, concedes the National Academy of Sciences report. Not only are the basic scientific questions largely unanswered, but also in many cases we do not yet know enough to pose the key questions.
Meteorologists think that they can forecast the short-term results of the return to the norm of the last century. They begin by noting the slight drop in overall temperature that produces large numbers of pressure centers in the upper atmosphere. These break up the smooth flow of westerly winds over temperate areas. The stagnant air produced in this way causes an increase in extremes of local weather, such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases all of which have a direct impact on food supplies.
The world’s food-producing system, warns Dr. James D. McQuigg of NOAA’s Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment, is much more sensitive to the weather variable than it was even five years ago. Furthermore, the growth of world population and creation of new national boundaries make it impossible for starving peoples to migrate from their devastated fields, as they did during past famines.
Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.
A voice from the past
The article summarizes statements made in a presentation to the Association
4. Ideas for warming the Planet –when they were worried about global cooling.
[John Brignell has the link, scroll down to "fantastic engineering solutions".
From the book “Omega –Murder of the Eco-system and the Suicide of Man , Paul K Anderson, 1971, Controlling the Planet's Climate” J. O. Fletcher (Rand Corporation)
POSSIBILITIES FOR DELIBERATELY INFLUENCING GLOBAL CLIMATE under certain conditions, only one kilogram of reagent can seed several square kilometres of cloud surface. It is estimated that it would take only sixty American C-5 aircraft to deliver one kilogram per square kilometre per day over the entire Arctic Basin (10 million square kilometres). Thus, it is a large but not impossible task to seed such enormous areas.
ICE-FREE ARCTIC OCEAN The largest scale enterprise that has been discussed is that of transforming the Arctic into an ice-free ocean. Three basic approaches have been proposed:
BERING STRAIT DAM The basic idea is to increase the inflow of warm Atlantic water by stopping or even reversing the present northward flow of colder Pacific water through the Bering Strait. The proposed dam would be 50 miles long and 150 feet high.
DEFLECTING THE GULF STREAM Two kinds of proposals have been discussed, a dam between Florida and Cuba, and weirs extending out from Newfoundland across the Grand Banks to deflect the Labrador current as well as the Gulf Stream.
DEFLECTING THE KUROSHIO CURRENT The Pacific Ocean counterpart of the Gulf Stream is the warm Kuroshio Current, a small branch of which enters the Sea of Japan and exits to the Pacific between the Japanese islands. It has been proposed that the narrow mouth of Tatarsk Strait, where a flood tide alternates with an ebb tide, be regulated by a giant one-way 'water valve' to increase the inflow of the warm Kuroshio Current to the Sea of Okhotsk and reduce the winter ice there.
CREATION OF A SIBERIAN SEA Dams on the Ob, Yenisei and Angara rivers could create a lake east of the Urals that would be almost as large as the Caspian Sea. This lake could be drained southward to the Aral and Caspian Seas, irrigating a region about twice the area of the Caspian Sea. In terms of climatic effects, the presence of a large lake transforms the heat exchange between the surface and atmosphere.
CREATION OF AFRICAN SEAS If the Congo, which carries some 1,200 cubic kilometres of water per year, were dammed at Stanley Canyon (about 1 mile wide), it would impound an enormous lake (the Congo Sea). The Ubangi, a tributary of the Congo, could then flow to the north-west, joining the Chari and flowing into Lake Chad, which would grow to enormous size (over 1 million square kilometres).
NAWAPA PROJECT The proposed North American Water and Power Alliance is a smaller-scale scheme. It would bring 100 million acre-feet per year of water from Alaska and Canada to be evaporated by irrigation in the western United States and Mexico.
Of course none of it happened because it started getting warmer anyway.
I suppose if they sequester huge amounts of CO2 to cool down the planet now, they could let it out a bit at a time when it gets colder again, and capture it again when it got too hot.
5. How much AGW in 20th century?
Based on information that indicated a solar activity-induced increase in radiative forcing of 1.3 Wm-2 over the 20th century (by way of cosmic-ray flux reduction), plus the work of others that indicated a globally-averaged solar luminosity increase of approximately 0.4 Wm-2 over the same period, Shaviv calculated an overall and ultimately solar activity-induced warming of 0.47C (1.7 Wm-2 x 0.28C per Wm-2) over the 20th century.
Added to the 0.14C of anthropogenic-induced warming, the calculated total warming of the 20th century thus came to 0.61C, which was noted by Shaviv to be very close to the 0.57C temperature increase that was said by the IPCC to have been observed over the past century.
Consequently, both Shaviv's and Idso's analyses, which mesh well with real-world data of both the recent and distant past, suggest that only 15-20% (0.10C/0.57C) of the observed warming of the 20th-century can be attributed to the concomitant rise in the air's CO2 content.
6. Study questions link between power of hurricanes, global warming
Studies that link global warming to an increase in hurricane ferocity might be full of hot air, according to a research paper that will be published Friday in a major scientific journal.
The paper, co-written by Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center in West Miami-Dade, challenges earlier findings that hurricanes have grown more powerful in the last 30 years. It says those studies failed to account for technological improvements that now produce more accurate -- and often higher -- estimates of a storm's power than were available in the past.
“If you say, `Hey, the number of Category 4 and 5 storms has doubled since 1970,' you have to ask where is that coming from and can we accept that as true,'' said Landsea, one of the nation's leading hurricane researchers, who now serves as science and operations officer at the hurricane center.
His answer: Probably not, because the databases used for historical studies are so skewed.
Set for publication in Friday's edition of the journal Science, the study extends a multifaceted scientific debate that grows more heated every few months.
On one side are scientists who say they have found statistical evidence that the accumulated power of hurricanes around the world has dramatically increased in the past 30 years, largely because of global warming.
On the other side are Landsea and other scientists who say, yes, global warming is real, but its effect on hurricanes is not at all clear. ''It's the data sets that are faulty,'' Landsea said.
This branch of the debate began last August when Kerry Emanuel, a reputable climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, analyzed historical wind-speed reports by the hurricane center and concluded that the accumulated power of hurricanes in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico more than doubled since 1970.
A particularly steep increase began in 1995, according to that study.
''The large upswing in the last decade is unprecedented and probably reflects the effect of global warming,'' Emanuel wrote in his report, which was published in the journal Nature.
Several other reports have pointed in the same direction, but it is important to note that all such studies focus on the power of hurricanes.
No connection has been found between global warming and the number of hurricanes. Many scientists believe that the current period of hyperactivity is caused mostly by long-term natural cycles unrelated to global warming.
Landsea agreed that the accumulated power of Atlantic hurricanes has increased, but said that was largely because the natural cycle has produced more storms. He said the accumulated power of hurricanes has remained constant elsewhere in the world, casting doubt on global warming as a cause in the Atlantic.
He and his team also agreed that global warming might be enhancing hurricane winds, but only by 1 or 2 percent, which is nearly impossible to measure and represents a much lower rate than Emanuel suggested.
More to the point, Landsea said, scientists who do not account for vast improvements in technology since the 1970s can produce flawed studies.
One example cited by Landsea focuses on a 1970 storm that killed more than 300,000 people in Bangladesh. Using the technology available at that time and place, forecasters were unable to estimate that storm's intensity. Now, with improved technology, that storm likely would be rated as the equivalent of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane.
''It's not even being counted as a hurricane,'' Landsea said. ``If you miss that one, it shouldn't be shocking if you're missing a whole bunch of others that didn't even hit land.''
In 1975, only two geostationary satellites monitored hurricanes. Now, eight more powerful satellites serve in that capacity, often prompting forecasters to produce higher wind estimates than might have been reported for a similar storm in the past.
'More satellites with improved imagery mean that you get `stronger' hurricanes without the hurricanes changing at all,'' Landsea said.
7. New Zealand Climate Science Coalition calls for Royal Commission on Global Warming
For immediate release 4 July 2006:
“We are making this early signal of the coalition’s call for a Royal Commission on climate change for two reasons: Firstly, because of the scientifically unsupportable and impractical recommendations emanating from last weekend’s Environment and Conservation Organisation’s (ECO) conference. They continue to claim that there is a potentially critical environmental threat to the planet, and that there will be what they call dangerous climate change within the next 10 years.
“Secondly, because we believe that the climate change work programme announced today by the Minister, David Parker, is based on flawed analysis of the competing claims about the extent to which global warming is occurring and whether there is any measurable significance in the part played by human-induced emissions of gases like CO2 in the 0.6 degrees C warming of the earth that has taken place in the last 100 years” said Admiral Welch.
"The first year of operation of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) has demonstrated the pitfalls of rushing into this kind of activity without full and thorough consideration. A report just published shows that the scheme has raised serious questions about its organisation and effectiveness in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The report states that overall, the EU target will not reduce emissions. Member states handed out free permits for 1,829 million tonnes of CO2 in 2005, while emissions were only 1,785 million tonnes. Emissions would have to be 44 million tonnes higher for the system to actually ‘bite’ –. in other words, for the EU as a whole, at present the system is simply not reducing emissions at all. But the way permits were allocated means that hospitals will spend about £1.3 million a year for the first three years buying up extra permits, while BP and Shell will be able to sell off the equivalent of £17 and £20 million worth of surplus permits each year," said Admiral Welch.
“On climate issues, notwithstanding that recent weather has been the very antithesis of global warming, New Zealand has got itself into a state of emotionally charged confusion with acceptance of misinformation very similar to that of the late 1990’s about genetic modification. This matter was clarified only after a searching independent examination of all the issues by a Royal Commission. “Our coalition of climate scientists, economists, energy and policy consultants believe that New Zealand now needs a Royal Commission to sort out climate issues as they affect this country; to propose a rational and practical path for the government to follow.”
Admiral Welch said that comments by chairs of the coalition’s panels underscored why a Royal Commission is necessary. “Greenhouse effect makes the world livable.” Professor Augie Auer, former chief meteorologist for New Zealand, and chairman of the coalition’s scientific panel said mankind could not alter the “greenhouse” effect even if we wanted to. “And why would we want to? The greenhouse effect is a near-miraculous phenomenon that keeps the planet a safe place to live on . . . if we did not have it, the earth’s mean temperature would be an unlivable -18 degrees C. It keeps us comfortable and is life sustaining."
Prof Auer said that CO2 is not the “dreaded greenhouse gas that the global warmers crack it up to be. The gas is the most important airborne fertiliser in the world and without it there would be no green plants at all. Doubling of the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere would bring about a marked rise in plant production and no increase in water uptake - good news for an agricultural country like New Zealand, and even better news for those malnourished millions elsewhere in the world who cannot afford the cost of chemical fertilisers,” he explained.
Kyoto will not change world temperature Bryan Leyland, chair of the coalition’s economic panel, said that in talking about ‘dangerous climate change within the next 10 years’, the ECO conference demonstrated inability to distinguish between “what we actually know and what they choose to believe. “All that we actually know there is that the world has got a few tenths of degree warmer in the last 100 years and that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have increased over the last 60 years. We also know that the world has not got warmer since 1998 and that the changes in global temperature correlate better with sunspot effects than they do with carbon dioxide concentrations. We definitely do not know what the climate will do in the future: the cooling trend might continue or it might start to warm again. “Their claim of ‘dangerous’ climate change in the next 10 years is based entirely on the output of computer models. None of these models predicted that the world would cool from 1940 to 1975, and again since 1998, so we can be sure that they cannot be relied on.
“Similar models show that Kyoto, even if fully implemented, will not make a measurable difference to the world temperature by 2050. So even world-wide action to do something now will have no measurable effects in 10 years’ time. To suggest that action by New Zealand could have a major effect in 10 years’ time is, to put it politely, ‘raving nonsense’. “Their target of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020 is, if anything, even more crazy,” said Mr Leyland who is a leading New Zealand energy consultant. “It would involve scrapping about 3000 MW of perfectly good generating plant, and building something like 12,000 MW (1.5 times the existing total capacity) of new hydro power and wind farms and then accepting that if the wind drops (as it did during the cold snap last week), or it stopped raining, we would have to put our economy on a ‘go slow basis’ for hours, days, weeks, or, in a bad drought, months.
“What New Zealand desperately needs is an objective review of the evidence that is used to support predictions of dangerous global warming. “It is obvious that the conservation groups have rejected hard science in favour of blind belief and are happy to squander money that could be better spent elsewhere. Shame on them!”, Mr Leyland concluded.
Public transport will not reduce fuel consumption. Moving people from private cars to public transport has no measurable impact on fossil fuel consumption - and may even increase its use, according to Owen McShane, chair of the policy panel of the coalition. “First, about 30% of our oil use is used to export goods overseas by ship and by air. Second, a large percentage of our imported oil used on other non-transport uses such as heating and electricity generation. The end result is that less than half of our imported oil is used for internal transport. “Most New Zealand towns are too small for public transport to be efficient or effective.
Lightly loaded buses are less fuel-efficient than modern cars even with only one passenger. Cars are generally at least 25% loaded; day-long their loading averages 40%, whereas bus loadings average only 10% to 15%. Trains are even less fuel-efficient because of the trips at each end and their heavy weight, quite apart from the low average load factors in our irretrievably low-density cities. “Engine technology already on the road will halve the current population’s fuel consumption within 20 years, and similar improvements could be made with buses, Mr McShane continued. “But heavy trains will never compete.
Cars and buses continue to improve energy efficiency – trains are at a dead end. “The only opportunity to move people from cars to buses or trains is in the major centers, which account for about half the population. But only a small percentage of vehicle trips in those centres are commuter trips and an even smaller percentage commute to central city areas. In western motorised New World cities, decentralisation is such that public transport will never again attract more than about 6% of total daily trips. “Stopping 25% of Auckland’s urban car use would reduce New Zealand’s use of petrol by less than 1%. Transferring all those people to buses would increase consumption by about the same amount. If anything, there would be a small net gain in consumption of imported oil.
Rail transit consumes about four times the energy per person-kilometre delivered as cars. So incorporating rail into a composite bus-rail system would further worsen overall energy consumption, particularly as the buses must be re-routed to force-feed rail transit, resulting in longer combined distances.
Our ‘Smart Growth’ town planners argue that ‘densification’ will overcome this inefficiency. They cannot – or will not – see that increasing density will merely increase congestion and exacerbate fuel consumption,” concluded Mr McShane.
The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition
Madam Speaker and Members,
CALL FOR A ROYAL COMMISSION TO INQUIRE INTO CLIMATE ISSUES
We are a coalition of concerned citizens who believe that the public is being given incomplete, inaccurate and biased information about the effects of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
This information is often tainted by the emotional arguments of the environmental movement and seldom stands up to objective scientific analysis.
A recent example of this is the discrediting of the “ hockey-stick” in a report issued by the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce earlier this month1. The Mann hockey-stick is an important temperature assessment that has previously been adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is widely cited in the international media as evidence of global warming.
The House Committee report made this comment which is particularly relevant to New Zealand: “when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review.”
Claims that the world is threatened by dangerous global warming caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are widely propagated but cannot be substantiated. The climate is always changing and the nation may well benefit from moderate global warming. Having said that, temperature records indicate that New Zealand has not warmed significantly in the last fifty years.
The government relies too heavily on advice from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to develop its global warming policies. As the Wall Street Journal commented in an editorial on July 14 in response to the US House Committee report: “ research often more closely resembles a mutual-admiration society than a competitive and open-minded search for scientific knowledge”1. Scientific expertise that is independent of the IPCC needs to be consulted.
The government is presently reviewing its climate change policies. It is vitally important that any policies that are adopted should be reasoned, cautious and founded on valid scientific evidence, rather than on the questionable projections of flawed computer models and discredited temperature assessments.
Costly mistakes have already been made. Our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol may cost the nation over $1 billion more than was originally estimated. We cannot afford to make such mistakes again.
The present misinformation circulating about global warming resembles the recent hysteria surrounding genetic modification. An independent Royal Commission made an excellent job of bringing out the scientific facts about genetic modification, and provided sensible and reasoned advice to the government. We believe that in the present environment a similar process is the best way to examine climate change.
Our Coalition therefore calls for the establishment of an independent Royal Commission into the science and economics of climate change. This would be asked to:
• Establish the scientific facts,
Below are nine reasons why we believe a Royal Commission into climate issues is justified.
For further details please refer to the enclosed summary.
1. There is no scientific consensus about man-made global warming.
2. The extent to which the globe is warming is questionable.
3. New Zealand climate data shows little evidence of warming and no evidence that humans are affecting the temperature.
4. Climate change projections are based on unproven computer models.
5. The IPCC uses circumstantial argument, vagueness and ambiguity to hide the fact that direct evidence to support man-made global warming is lacking.
6. Carbon dioxide is essential to life on earth and an increase in its atmospheric concentration may be beneficial.
7. There is a poor relationship between annual carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and global temperatures.
8. The Kyoto Protocol will not prevent climate change, and could well cost the nation many times more than the $1 billion the media has been focusing on.
9. Advice to the government has thus far been one-sided, with little provision for contestability.
Members of the coalition are happy to answer questions in detail about any of these topics. Please email the secretary, Terry Dunleavy (firstname.lastname@example.org), who can arrange for the appropriate expert to reply.
We urge you to make your own objective investigations into global warming and to seriously consider our call for an independent Royal Commission. The cost of this inquiry would be substantially less than the cost of making another poor decision about New Zealand’ climate change policies.
New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC)
on behalf of:
8. The EPA's Polluted Science
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to tighten air pollution standards again. What we really need, however, is an effective program to control the EPA.
The EPA is facing a legal deadline of September for deciding whether to make the federal standards for fine particulate matter (soot) and ground-level ozone (smog) more stringent. While this may sound like a laudable goal on the surface, the absurdity of the process becomes readily apparent once you learn that the EPA’s air quality standards for soot and smog issued in 1997 have yet to be fully implemented and their results assessed.
Worse, the congressional opposition to this new EPA crackdown has opted for the usually futile tactic of arguing costs rather than science with the agency.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must consider health risks but not costs in determining the so-called “national ambient air quality standards.”
Despite the law’s express prohibition on the consideration of costs, Sen. George Voinovich, D-Ohio, is arguing that hundreds of counties would violate the EPA’s new standards, according to an article in the Clean Air Report (July 27). Voinovich asserted at a July 19 hearing on the EPA’s proposed rules that while he was governor of Ohio, the state had difficulty in attracting businesses because of the EPA rules.
While I appreciate the importance of Voinovich’s concerns, his assumption that fellow politicians, the public and the media -- all largely ignorant of the realities of air quality science -- will prioritize jobs over the public health will not carry the day in this debate.
Voinovich apparently doesn’t remember the circus surrounding the EPA’s issuance of air quality rules for soot and smog in 1997. The costs of those rules -- still not fully implemented, mind you -- were estimated to be $100 billion per year for soot and were not estimated at all for smog because they were extraordinarily high (remember that, under the law, the EPA is not supposed to consider costs at all, so their calculation is technically not even necessary).
The EPA did, however, claim that its rules would prevent thousands of premature deaths per year, thus satisfying the legal and political hurdles to issuing the rules -- at least on a superficial level. And this aspect of the EPA’s rulemaking is where Sen. Voinovich – if he really wanted to spotlight problems with the agency and its rulemaking -- should focus his attention.
The stark fact is that there is not a single believable study demonstrating that soot and smog at current levels cause any significant health problems -- let alone any deaths. Yes, the EPA has perhaps dozens if not hundreds of studies that purport to link soot, in particular, with premature death, but every single one of these studies is easily debunked as an exercise in statistical wishful thinking. All of the studies that supposedly link soot with premature deaths rely on extraordinarily poor health and soot exposure data, and weak statistical correlations.
They’re even more laughable, given that the precedent cited by the agency for relying on such weak statistical correlations is the EPA’s own 1993 report, claiming to link secondhand smoke with lung cancer -- a study that was eviscerated and vacated by a federal court in 1998 because the EPA’s science was so poor and contrived in nature.
The health data the EPA’s studies relied upon was so dubious in quality that when Congress requested that the agency turn over the data for independent review, the EPA’s only realistic choice was to stonewall – and it did, refusing to turn over the data to a Congress that blinked in the face of bureaucratic refusal.
It was a daring tactic that served the agency well, as it entirely prevented any meaningful review of the agency’s health claims, which subsequently helped the agency beat back legal efforts to block the rules.
What Sen. Voinovich also apparently doesn’t understand is the EPA modus operandi when it comes to science and regulation. You might think that the EPA first looks at the science and then decides whether regulation is necessary – you’d be wrong.
The EPA typically decides first whether to regulate, and then it molds and manipulates the science to fit its regulatory decisions. This has long been standard practice at the agency – a 1992 report entitled “Safeguarding the Future: Credible Science, Credible Decisions” by a blue ribbon panel of scientists reviewing the EPA’s use of science concluded that the EPA “adjusts science to fit policy” – and was one of the reasons given by the federal court for vacating the EPA’s secondhand smoke risk assessment.
If Sen. Voinovich is truly concerned about the economic impacts of the EPA’s proposed air quality standards, he would start at the proposal’s Achilles heel –the EPA’s junk science.
9. Calif. steps up request that automakers turn over internal papers on GHG
What does the automobile industry know about global warming and how long has it known it? That's what lawyers for California and several environmental groups asked last week as part of a federal lawsuit that has big implications for U.S. energy policy.
The suit, which is lodged in the U.S. District Court in Fresno, California, revolves around a state law that requires automakers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on cars and trucks they sell in the Golden State beginning in 2009.
The auto industry is suing California over the law, saying the only way it could comply with the measure would be to make their vehicles more fuel efficient. And that would infringe on the federal government's exclusive power to set fuel economy standards, the industry argues. The Bush administration is expected to side with the auto industry in the suit.
California says the law is legal given that the federal Clean Air Act allows the state to set tougher-than-federal emissions standards to address its chronic air-pollution problems. CAA allows other states to adopt California's law, which gives the measure national prominence.
The latest front in the battle concerns what the auto industry knows about reducing car and truck carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming. California and the environmental groups asked the court last year to force the industry to turn over any "confidential" documents it has on the subject. The industry has resisted the request, and so far, the court has not ordered it to provide internal documents.
Last week, the state and the groups stepped up their request. In papers filed Monday, they told the court that the documents they are seeking will prove that automakers "have known for many years" that they were major drivers of global warming. The industry could have chosen to make "timely investments and planning decisions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of their vehicles," lawyers for California and the environmental groups said. But instead, the industry "set out to avert and delay the day of reckoning by engaging in a public relations campaign of deception and denial regarding the global warming problem," they wrote.
California and the groups are trying to get documents allegedly possessed by General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the industry's primary Washington-based lobby group. The documents will prove that automakers "have had many years to act upon their knowledge" of global warming, and that they "have only themselves to blame" for not acting sooner to reduce their vehicles' CO2 emissions, the state and the groups said.
The lawyers dismissed as a "red herring" the industry's argument that it would cost automakers too much to comply with the California law. "The point is not that the present economic burdens should be written off, but that they should be evaluated in light of the [automakers'] actual knowledge of ? foreseeing the very need to tackle the problem" of global warming, they told the court.
California and the groups want access to industry documents dating back to the early 1990s. "When the science of global warming matured in the 1990s, there was a scientist at [General Motors] or [Chrysler] who circulated a memo stating something like 'the science is now clear on global warming and we need to reduce our vehicle emissions in order to avoid harming the climate of the entire planet,' " the state and the groups said. They did not name the alleged auto industry scientist who purportedly made the claim.
Among the documents that California and the groups are seeking are communications between the auto industry and well-known "climate skeptics" such as Fred Singer and Steven Milloy. This "tiny group of dissenting scientists" has "played a major role in spreading disinformation about global warming" and has "helped create a broad public belief that the question of climate change is hopelessly mired in unknowns," the state and the group said.
The auto industry blasted the contentions made by California and the environmental groups in its own submission to the court last week. "This case is not about what [automakers] thought, knew or read in the past about global warming, or even what they think, know or are reading now," lawyers for the industry said. Instead, the "true motivation" of California and the environmental groups is to "seek support for press releases that accuse [automakers] of having known about global warming but having not done enough about it," they wrote. The request for documents is really just "an attempt to embarrass [automakers] into dropping their lawsuit" against California's new emissions law, the industry lawyers added.
The industry is resisting California's request for correspondence between it and the Bush administration, as well as information it has "related to future estimated gasoline prices in the United States and/or California," among other things. In all, California and the environmental groups are seeking 15 different types of documents.
It is unclear when the court might rule on the state's request for the documents. The industry's lawsuit against California's law is slated to go to trial on January 16.
10. Al Gore, you had better get rid of your lawnmower
What has Al Gore got to do with lawnmowers? A lot. I recently discovered, to my horror, that a typical gas-powered lawnmower produces as much pollution in 7 hours of operation as a modern car does in a 100,000 miles of driving! Another way of looking at this is that the two-stroke gasoline lawnmower that is ubiquitous in the suburbs of North America, pollutes as much as 40 late model cars running for the same amount of time!
Why? Because the off-road engines found on lawnmowers, leaf blowers, tillers, as well as snow blowers, snowmobiles and dirt bikes don't have to have catalytic converters. These handy devices reduce emissions by about 90%, and are mandatory on cars and trucks.
Actually, Al, you should probably get rid of the lawn, as well. Besides the dangers of pesticides, lawns pose a huge conservation problem. It turns out that about one third of all water used in US East Coast cities is used for watering lawns. So, between lawns and lawnmowers we use a tremendous amount of the world's resources and contribute enormously to urban smog and greenhouse gas emissions.
The irony is that we water our lawns to make them grow and then we mow them! It's hard being holy, as I too am discovering. I own a soon-to-be organic farm, with a few acres of lawn that gets mowed with one of these earth destroyers. I have started searching feverishly for simple ways to fix this; the solution will soon be published on our website, www.zerofootprint.net.
Today, we do so many stupid things because we have not been paying for their environmental cost. Modern Economics Theory is partly to blame because it makes these so-called externalities seem free. Just imagine if we were to pay the true cost for offsetting our footprint. To offset the greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides created by mowing our lawns could cost each of us thousands of dollars if we were to purchase credits or invest in carbon sinks that absorb as much pollution as our mowing emitted. We would very quickly discover that lawnmowers are hogs and modern cars are much better. Our behavior would change. We would discover that cars that emit more cost far more to run than cars that are categorized as ultra low emission. Moreover, we would discover by how much, which could be a great surprise, as is the case with lawnmowers.
Probably the simplest (in principle) way to change our behavior is to create awareness about the true cost, including the environmental impact, of the things we buy and the way we live. If you knew that it would cost you $100 a month less to have a garden made up of local plants than to keep your lawn looking traditionally pretty, you might change your behavior. By reevaluating what we consider beautiful and its associated cost, this "small" difference could then lead to massive reductions in urban smog, greenhouse gas emissions and water conservation.
There is so much low-hanging fruit, simple things we can do to reduce our ecological footprint, that it is possible for us to make huge strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions before we ever need to feel deprived. We just need to operate more ingeniously, do the same stuff but more cleverly at a lower cost.© 2006 ZeroFootprint