|The Week That Was
November 18 , 2006
Todays TWTW is short: Must watch the Ohio State game against Michigan
The elections are over and Congress is busy with party leadership issues and committee assignments. I have written to every Republican senator I know, asking them to support Senator James Inhofe (R- Okla) for the position of Ranking Minority Member of EWP (Environment and Public Works). Pls do the same.
I have nothing against his rivals. It’s just that Inhofe and his superb staff have the mettle to stand up to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal) who will chair EPW and has promised drastic legislation on Global Warming. But first there will be hearings -- and more hearings. Look to John Dingell (D-Mich) and Henry Waxman (D- Cal) to chair extensive hearings. Both are real pros – so life should become very interesting.
The oral arguments in the Supreme Court case of Mass. vs EPA are coming up on Nov 29. I hope to have some impressions for you by Dec. 1. This is a truly important case – basically a legal decision on whether CO2 should be treated as a pollutant by EPA. A truly unimportant case has been filed in a federal district court in Northern California by three NGOs against the feds (who are late in producing the National Assessment of Climate Change). [I know just what to say in the NACC report.]
By comparison, the latest UN exercise in Nairobi attracted the usual 180+ national delegations who talked and agreed to talk some more –maybe next year or perhaps in 2008. I am not quite sure.
Check out the AGU blog http://www.agu.org/fora/eos/2006/
You will find two comments of mine and may wish to join in.
Walt Meier says that "the overwhelming majority of climate scientists [agree] that recent climate change is indeed anthropogenic in origin." Possibly so; I guess he includes himself.
He also suggests that "Kevin Corbett needs to join Michael Crichton in a class on how to read and cite scientific journal articles."
There now... Could I ask Walt to read (and cite) the authoritative CCSP report SAP-1.1 and explain to us why observed patterns of warming disagree with patterns calculated from GH models (see Fig. 5.4G on p.111)?
And here is my next one:
The Forum article by AMQUA, objecting to the Journalism Award by AAPG to author Michael Crichton, makes light of his climate expertise. What an elitist and condescending view! I realize that the 20th century is (technically) part of the Quaternary, but I doubt whether the signers, members of the AMQUA council, have as much detailed knowledge as Dr. Crichton when it comes to evaluating the human effects on climate. Do they really understand the influence of the Urban Heat Island effect on temperatures measured at weather stations? Do they know the techniques that have been tried to remove these local warming effects in order to get global surface temperatures? Do they comprehend the intricacies involved in arriving at Sea Surface Temperatures by stitching together readings from ships, buoys, and satellites? I for one will put my money on Crichton.
Did you miss Richard Kerr’s article in Science of June 30, 2006? There may be trouble with disposing sequestered CO2 in certain rock formations. That’ll keep geologists and geochemists busy for a while.
The Global Warmers are becoming desperate and striking out blindly at skeptics (realists?) See the editorial in the (UK) Telegraph (ITEM #1) and the violent reaction of real eco-nuts (ITEM #2). We will have more about this disturbing trend in a future issue of TWTW.
The French are beginning to ride the GW issue to impose trade restrictions (ITEM #3). Writing from Queensland, Bob Carter has some pertinent comments (ITEM #4), while Brian O’Brien from Perth comments on the misguided Stern Report (ITEM #5). These Aussies sure keep busy.
Burt Prelutsky is pretty funny. Read his “On serial killers and Al Gore” (ITEM #6)
1. Green blinkers
UK Telegraph Editorial http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/11/12/dl1202.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2006/11/12/ixopinion.html
The sheer vitriol is the most striking thing. Reputable scientists, who raise questions about climate change, backing their doubts with data, are howled down as heretics. The UN-Stern-Kyoto thesis is considered to be above criticism.
Simply to point out that there are few hard facts to go on, and that we are all necessarily engaging in a degree of guesswork, is to open yourself to the charge of being in the pay of the oil corporations. This allegation, when you think about it, is daft. No one would condemn his grandchildren to extinction simply to suck up to ExxonMobil. Yet such paranoia is no longer confined to Greenpeace. It can be found, too, in the statements of the Royal Society, and even of government ministers.
It is true that oil companies have funded meteorological studies, some of which have been tendentious. But big business is not the only party with a vested interest. Green pressure groups need to keep the rest of us in a state of panic so that we keep sending them our money.
Government bodies, too, like to maximise the threat in order to get grants (they pulled the same trick with CJD and with avian flu). Governments themselves are attracted to any science that justifies enlarging their powers.
And the UN, which would be charged with administering any international emission reductions programme, has the greatest vested interest of all.
In the circumstances, the best we can do is to look hard-headedly at the evidence.
This is what Christopher Monckton has done in two reports for this newspaper. He does not deny that the world is getting hotter, although the rate of calefaction is far from clear, and Europe was probably warmer 1,000 years ago than today. He accepts, too, that there is a link between global warming and greenhouse gases, though there is no consensus about the precise correlation.
Yet, reading his findings, it is hard not to feel that the Stern report might create a monstrous misallocation of resources. We could give housing and clean water to the entire world, and eliminate all major diseases, for just a fifth of what Stern will cost. We ought, in other words, to be absolutely certain of the gains before we start. As yet, we are not.
[courtesy CSPP and Bob Ferguson]
Comment by Michael Crichton: One of the great proofs of fantasy in the current state of global warming is that climate conformists simultaneously hold two contradictory worldviews. The first is that the debate is over, there are no skeptics, and that everyone of moral fiber and decent intellect has agreed that climate change is primarily caused by human carbon-dioxide emissions. The only holdouts are a handful of individuals with too much back hair who are paid by oil companies, but they are few in number, scientifically discredited, and no one listens to them.
The second belief is that what prevents action on global warming is the skeptics. This same handful of dimwits has somehow managed to halt progress of every country in the world on a global problem, and has stymied the entire planet.
How have the skeptics managed this feat? They have succeeded because they have managed to get equal time in the press. And about this there can be no question. Otherwise very intelligent observers have come to this conclusion. And why not. I need not remind you how many movies, TV specials, and magazine cover stories have featured the skeptical point of view. Dozens and dozens.
Personally, I blame the skeptics for the failure of European nations to meet their Kyoto targets. If the skeptics hadn't been such naysayers, countries like Spain and Canada wouldn't be so far from their targets.
2. The denial industry
Posted by David Roberts at 11:40 AM on 19 Sep 2006
Check out this startling excerpt from George Monbiot's new book Heat.
It's about the climate-change "denial industry," which most of you are probably familiar with. What you may not know about is the peculiar role of the tobacco industry in the whole mess. I've read about this stuff for years and even I was surprised by some of the details.
When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg.
3. De Villepin proposes European carbon tax levy
By Delphine Strauss in Paris, November 13 2006
Countries that refuse to join international efforts to cut greenhouse emissions – such as the US and China – should face a European carbon tax on their imports, Dominique de Villepin, the French prime minister, proposed on Monday. The controversial proposal is likely to heighten suspicions that Europeans are using environmental arguments to justify protectionist restrictions on trade. It would require full European Union support to become reality.
Mr de Villepin’s plan is intended to put pressure on China, Brazil and India at this week’s climate change talks in Nairobi, where countries are meeting to discuss a post-Kyoto framework. Emerging economies, whose carbon emissions are rising rapidly with the growth of manufacturing exports, are under pressure to commit to cuts in greenhouse gases once the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012.
“We have decided to reinforce the principle that the polluter pays,” said Mr de Villepin, who will put concrete proposals to other EU member states by March. He also announced a domestic tax on coal and aircraft noise and said further measures could include road charging in big towns and taxing lorries on cross-Alpine routes. “It’s not right that Europe should make considerable efforts while other major players do not,” one of Mr de Villepin’s officials told Le Monde. “China is fast catching up Europe in high technology; it must also make an effort on environmental issues.”
France’s proposal to tax imports from recalcitrant countries may be designed to rebut criticism by the European Commission that the emission quotas Paris has set the country’s industrial sector are too generous. Companies argue that the cost of complying with tougher quotas puts them at a disadvantage to international competitors. A carbon tax on imports would restore the balance. But developing countries are likely to regard the tax proposal as a barrier to trade.
“The next round of protectionism from Europe is likely to be based on some spurious argument like food miles,” Helen Clark, New Zealand’s prime minister, said last month. The country’s farmers are indignant at suggestions their produce could be subjected to taxes reflecting the distance it is transported to its end market.
The package presented by Mr de Villepin on Monday is the latest effort by French political heavyweights to demonstrate their green credentials, after the publication of the UK’s Stern review on climate change helped bring environmental issues to the fore of the European political agenda. Laurent Fabius, a contender for the socialist party nomination, offered to make the popular ecologist Nicolas Hulot his second in command if elected.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006
4. British report the last hurrah of warmaholics
The Stern warning could join Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb and the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth in the pantheon of big banana scares that proved to be unfounded
By Bob Carter
The Australian, November 03, 2006
NICHOLAS Stern is a distinguished economist. Climate change is a complex, uncertain and contentious scientific issue. Have you spotted the problem with the Stern review yet?
The Stern review has been presented as a rigorous treatment of climate change and its economic effects. In reality, however, the review is a political document whose relation to the truth is about the same as that of the notorious British report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The Stern agenda in Britain is to enable Labour to compete for eco-votes with an increasingly green-oriented Tory party. A wider agenda is the imposition of carbon levies for goods and services provided from outside Europe, thereby penalising more efficient competitors elsewhere. The European Union has form on this, and has previously tried to use DDT and genetic engineering of food as bogies to justify trade barriers.
Among a range of possible carbon morality taxes, Stern considers the application of a food-miles levy on produce subjected to lengthy air transport. Subsequent media coverage has concentrated on earlier estimates that flying 1kg of kiwifruit from New Zealand to Europe generates 5kg of carbon dioxide. With delicious irony, it turns out that virtually all NZ kiwifruit are transported by ship, yet arrive in Britain at a price that undercuts local supplies. No wonder a levy is needed.
5. Stern's report scaremongering
By Piers Akerman
Daily Telegraph (Australia), November 05, 2006
Few government reports have been greeted with less scepticism than Nicholas Stern's scary scenario on climate change, but seldom has a report purporting to be a serious study been so deficient in scientific back-up.
While its contents have been taken as gospel by various interest groups, the media and the ALP, a number of bona fide experts are deeply concerned at the report's lack of any real intellectual rigour.
Without gilding the lily, Dr Brian O'Brien, a strategic and environmental consultant, who was the founding Director and Chairman of the Western Australia Environmental Protection Authority, and previously Professor of Physics and Space Science in the US, has all the credentials necessary to make a reasoned, educated review of such a report.
His verdict is damning. He says that not only are its forecasts out of whack with the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 2001, but also that if Stern wasn't so driven by political goals he should have waited until next year when the IPCC's fourth report is due to be published.
"I think they're being quite naughty,'' he said. "All this apocalyptic talk when the situation is not so cataclysmic that they couldn't have waited till 2007 for the best available transparent data rather than rely on the coupling together of a five-year-old, out-of-date IPCC report, amended with references to a difficult-to-obtain German publication Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, edited by H.J.Schellnhuber (Cambridge University Press), which is not only not readily available but was not subjected to the usual process of peer review.''
Professor O'Brien, who has a number of experiments still orbiting Earth aboard various satellites is currently assisting NASA recover data from the Apollo 11 program which the space agency "misplaced'' before coding, was clearly exasperated when he spoke with me from his Perth home.
"There are a number of obvious problems with the report,'' he said, "not least being that Stern relies on the IPCC's 2001 report which estimated the maximum sea level rise forecast by 2100 would be somewhere between 9cm and 88cm and a leaked report of next year's IPCC report says the rise is possibly between 14cm and 43cm.''
Clearly, Stern has chosen to take the darkest possible view of the future. The professor said that in its initial report in 1995, the IPCC explicitly stated that its definition of climate change differed from that of the United Nations and Kyoto, because their definition included natural events plus human activities.
"The first question, then, is what is climate change, if the scientific group advising the UN is thinking about natural phenomena as well as the scary stuff?'' he asked. "How about the so-called Federation drought which ran from 1895 to 1903, and the drought which ran from 1991 to '95, or the two in between, which had the most devastating effect in extent and on primary production, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Year Book for 2001?''
Professor O'Brien referred to remarks made by Robert White, the President of the US National Academy of Engineering to the annual general meeting of the US Academy of Science, in Washington, in April, 1989, where he said: "Whether we in the scientific community like it or not, we have awakened the political beast; we are confronted with an inverted pyramid of knowledge.
"A huge and growing mass of proposals for policy action is balanced upon a handful of real facts.''
Professor O'Brien described a diagram of a big inverted pyramid, standing on a tiny little apex of a few facts such as increasing concentration of gases and a mass of assumptions rising on top of that, and exploding into all sorts of models and scenarios.
The Stern report, he said, is now at the peak of the apocalyptic drawing. He said the Stern report's sky-is-falling approach to climate change was exactly the same as the technique used at the first world conference on the changing atmosphere, and implications for global security held in Toronto in June, 1988.
The opening quote at the conference, attended by more than 300 people from 46 nations was: "Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.''
This alarmist approach reeked of stupidity, snake oil, and misguided gospel preaching but was in line with a formula adopted by the first chairman of the IPCC, Sir John Houghton, who produced the IPCC's first three reports in 1990, 1995 and 2001 and wrote in his book Global Warming, The Complete Briefing, in 1994: "Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.''
Evoking the Great Depression and World War II may garner headlines for climate change but, without a factual basis, the Stern report is little but grandiose scare-mongering.
It would be irresponsible in the extreme for politicians to make major policy changes - and major economic commitments - on such specious arguments.
6. On serial killers and Al Gore
Posted: November 8, 2006
By Burt Prelutsky
Recently, I came across a list of the eight most notorious serial killers in American history. Each of them made Jack the Ripper look like a piker when it came to murder. In no particular order, these sociopaths were Danny Rolling, David (The Son of Sam) Berkowitz, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Dennis (BTK) Rader, Richard (The Night Stalker) Ramirez, and Aileen Wuornos. Except for Dahmer, who was killed by a fellow prisoner four years after he entered prison, the one thing they all have in common is that they all lived for at least 10 years after being found guilty of their heinous crimes.
Berkowitz, who was sentenced to 365 years back in 1977, only has 336 years to go before he'll walk out of jail a free man. Rader was sentenced to 10 consecutive life terms in 2005. I guess if he minds his p's and q's, he could get out in five life terms.
Ramirez was sentenced to death in 1989 and, probably because he committed his murders in California, all these years later he's still around to receive mash notes from women who are even spookier than he is.
Although it took them between 10 and 12 years to execute Rolling, Bundy and Wuornos, Florida is the only state to have rid the world of more than one of these freaks. In fact, Illinois is the only other state to have executed one of the eight. Fourteen long years after being convicted of slaughtering a slew of teenage boys, John Wayne Gacy was finally sent off to meet his maker.
Two questions come to mind. The first: Why should it take so long for the system to carry out a judgment? The second: Why were Berkowitz and Rader given life sentences? What sort of insane legal system gives life for taking life?
Which brings us to Al Gore. How is it he is still around, still having media attention paid to him, still trying to pass himself off as one of the big brain people? It was bad enough when he was claiming to be the model for the boy in "Love Story" and even worse when he was claiming credit for the Internet. My own lasting impression of this buffoon was his planting a big wet one on Tipper at the Democratic presidential convention. Unfortunately for him, the Smooch Seen Around the World only succeeded in reminding us how desperate this fellow was to plant his rump in the Oval Office.
Somewhere along the way – I have always suspected inside a Chinese fortune cookie Gore got the idea that he could ride global warming into the White House. That may have been even a goofier idea than the smooch. You may be able to arouse large numbers of people over such issues as Iraq, the economy, Islamic terrorism, even the price of gas at the pump. But there are, by actual count, 23 people who can get over-wrought about global warming, and only eight of them are old enough to vote.
By this time, I'm sure even Mrs. Gore wishes they'd gone to a Hungarian restaurant that fateful evening. The poor woman! Imagine having to listen to that blowhard blather on about that one single topic morning, noon and night. In my weirder moments, I picture the two of them in bed, and Tipper's announcing, "Until you stop hogging all the blankets, Mr. Piggy, I want you to knock it off with the global warming!"