The Week That Was (Oct 11, 2008) brought to you by SEPP


Quote of the Week:

"Climate Modeling is not ‘science’, it is computerized Tinker Toys with which one can construct any outcome he chooses".  To date, not one climate model program has successfully predicted any future climate element with anything remotely resembling a degree of accuracy.  No hits, no runs, all errors. -- James Peden, atmospheric physicist.



During a week when Americans were focused on perhaps the greatest economic challenge this country has faced in over a generation, House Democrats released a set of principles on October 2nd that outline an aggressive plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions.  The plan could be even more economically restrictive than the failed Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which would have cost $6.7 trillion dollars, according to the bill's own sponsors. That $6.7 trillion cost would have been passed on to families and workers across the country in the form of higher gas prices, higher electricity and heating/cooling bills, more expensive consumer goods, and higher workplace costs.  The current financial crisis only reinforces the public's wariness about any climate bill that increases the costs of energy and jeopardizes jobs.


Financial Crisis Dims Chances for U.S. Climate Legislation

The odds are long for two reasons. First, with the nation facing the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression and high energy prices, many legislators will be reluctant to pass a bill that at least in the short term will make all carbon-based fuels even more expensive. Financial realities will make it much more difficult for the new administration or Congress to put forth a very aggressive, economy-wide climate bill, argued Sen. James Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and one of Congress' harshest critics of any climate-change action. 

Inhofe and other opponents note that last year, despite broad support from the environmental community, Democratic leaders couldn’t muster the 60 votes they needed to prevent a filibuster of their global warming bill. That measure, sponsored by Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman and Republican Sen. John Warner, would have created a cap-and-trade program allowing businesses to eventually buy and sell greenhouse gas emission credits on the open market.  Those who favor controlling greenhouse gases contend that Inhofe and other critics are ignoring the enormous long-term price of coping with higher sea levels, droughts, and increased disease brought on by global warming. Claussen, of the Pew Center, noted that both presidential candidates are now looking at action on climate change as a job creation program that deals with the lower cost of climate change now rather then the higher cost of responding to it in the future.
European Union legislators voted Oct 7 in favor of laws aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but frustrated some environmental advocates by taking steps to ease the burden on industry. The most contentious changes would make it more expensive for heavy industries to continue to pollute, by requiring them to buy more of their carbon permits after 2012. European governments currently award the majority of the permits free. [See also ITEM #1]


SEPP Science Editorial #8 (10/11/08)

By Christopher Monckton --  The 1 F rise in surface temperatures in the last 30 years of the 20th century is by no means unprecedented or inexplicable. There was a similar 1 F rise in temperatures in the 1920s and 1930s, and that was well before anyone could claim CO2 was to blame. There are numerous papers in the peer-reviewed literature (e.g. Usoskin et al., 2003; Hathaway et al., 2004; Solanki et al.., 2005) that demonstrate that the Sun's activity over the 70-year period centered on the early 1960s was greater than at almost any previous similar period throughout the past 11,400 years. Akasofu (2008) points out that global mean surface temperatures have been rising at a rate of approximately 1 F per century for 300 years. The considerable drop in temperatures in the past seven years (equivalent to 0.7 F per decade) has obliterated any imagined anthropogenic signal. Soon (2008) has shown that, if one allows for a lag of a decade or two caused by the uptake and release of heat by the oceans, the temperature trends of the past 30 years can be respectably explained by changes in solar activity. The 300-year warming that stopped in 1998 was the result of the steady increase in solar activity since the end of the 70-year sunspot-free Maunder Minimum in 1700; the cooling since then reflects the decline in solar activity since its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, combined with the unusually-prolonged sunspotless solar minimum of the past two and a half years. Taking the period since 1700 as a whole, it is virtually impossible to detect any anthropogenic signal. Additional atmospheric CO2 can be expected, on balance, to cause some warming: but it is now obvious that the degree of warming to be expected is considerably less than that which is imagined by the IPCC. -



1.  EU Parliament votes for unrealistic carbon targets


2.  But many European nations and industries are opposed


3.  Britain’s Climate Change Commission lives in cloud-cuckoo land


4.  And the UK parliament may actually buy the CCC’s recommendations


5.  A government shuffle may worsen UK problems [We can learn so much from them]


6.  Some have valid doubts.  Roger Helmer, MEP: How to help the world’s poor


7.  A genteel climate debate in the pages of the NYRB



Carbon offsets are all the rage for some. They’re like papal dispensations for the environmentally concerned who just have to get to Vail right away in their G5. Here’s a recent summary of a new GAO report:

The supply of offsets from projects that produce clean energy or remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere reached 10.2 million tons in 2007, 65 percent more than 2004, according to a report today from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. “There is no broad federal oversight of the offset market and limited protection for consumers, the report said.  Buyers of U.S. carbon offsets, credits that represent greenhouse gas reductions, need greater assurance that their purchase will lead to actual cuts in global warming gases”


An Essay “The IPCC Report: What The Lead Authors Really Think” By Ann Henderson-Sellers:


Damien Harvey" and is producing Skeptics spots.  See:   for a fresh, creative and common sense approach to marketing of the Global Warming skeptics movement.



"There is an economic crisis, a financial crisis, an energy crisis and there is a climate crisis," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said last Wednesday.  "The climate crisis is permanent. All the other crises today, tomorrow, I hope will pass but the climate crisis is a permanent threat for the globe."

[AFP, 5 Oct 2008]


by Richard North
EU Referendum, 7 October 2008

Crowding in on an already impossibly burdened news agenda, the greenies, euro-weenies, and sundry other "climate vandals" will be out in force today, gathering in the Capital of Darkness (which yesterday, with the rest of Belgium suffered a general strike).  They will be there for what Reuters is calling "Super Tuesday", as the EU parliament in Brussels tries to ram through a record number of environment laws, thus attempting to deliver the coup de grass, so to speak, to the tottering economies of the EU member states.

During the morning session, MEPs will consider the EU parliament position on how the estimated 30 billion (but probably a lot more) from  carbon allowances auctioned under the EU's emission trading scheme, should be spent.

Already highly controversial, with many member states -- not least the UK == regarding this money as tax income, with each nation putting their take in their own general pots, the MEPs want the money hypothecated and spent on greenie projects like forest conservation, green technology development and funding "climate change" adaptation schemes in developing countries.

Other proposals on the table include partial exemptions of certain industries from the ETS scheme altogether, plus a blocking vote to try to prevent clean development mechanism carbon credits being used to offset EU emissions.

The big bone of contention, though, is how the burden of reducing carbon emissions to the EU’s 20 percent level will be shared amongst the different member states. That should keep the gathering throngs entertained for some time.

Then, in the afternoon, if there are any economies left to wreck, the MEPs will move on to deal with the madcap idea of carbon capture, and a proposal to throw public money at trial schemes in a bid to develop this technology for full-scale plants.

Buried in that will be a bid to make the generation of electricity from coal-fired plants conditional on their being fitted with carbon capture equipment, a none too subtle attempt to enforce the Greenpeace agenda and ban coal use altogether – or make its use prohibitively expensive.

The voting, says Reuters is not the parliament's final say, but it will set the tone for negotiations with "EU leaders" ahead of a final agreement seen later this year they hope..

However, the greenies are not going to get it all their own way. A powerful coalition, led by Poland, aims to block the package, not least because it would render Poland dangerously reliant on Russian gas to replace the coal it would not be allowed to use.

The refuseniks are getting some support from Germany with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, saying last week, "This [financial] crisis changes priorities. One cannot rule out that interest in protecting the climate will change because of such a crisis" and that was before the current meltdown.

Nevertheless, attempts are being made to buy off Poland -- which, on past form, will make a lot of noise and then cave in. On the other hand though, if the MEPs pause for one moment to listen to what is happening in the real world, they might even back Poland and ditch this whole ridiculous charade.

The chances of that, though, are about as good as our still having a functional economy by the end of the week. However, we are always open to being pleasantly surprised.
------------------------Courtesy CCNet



CCNet Xtra - 7 October 2008 -- Audiatur et altera pars

In this period of international economic difficulties it is absurd that Europe alone should take on a heavy burden of costs to achieve very modest environmental benefits. We are ready to accept sacrifices if they bring real benefits, not virtual. --Stefania Prestigiacomo, Italian Environment Minister, 7 October 2008 
The global financial turmoil has made European plans to cut carbon emissions steeply by 2020 too costly and its burden should be shared with other countries, Italy's Environment Minister was on Tuesday quoted as saying. Italy would like to 'improve' the EU package by scrapping binding mechanisms and clarifying criteria on how target burden is distributed among the countries, she said. --Reuters, 7 October 2008
Influential EU lawmakers sought in a key vote on Tuesday to ease the cost for factories of meeting greenhouse gas emissions limits from 2013 as much of Europe heads for recession. But the European Parliament's environment committee backed an EU executive Commission plan to wipe out utility windfall profits from carbon trading and transfer up to 30 billion euros ($40.76 billion) to member state coffers.
 --Pete Harrison, Reuters, 7 October 2008
Carmakers facing falling sales asked Brussels for a 40bn ($55bn) loan package yesterday. Carmakers are still smarting from parliament's decision to hold them to a four-year timetable of emissions cuts, which they say is unrealistic and will cost the industry jobs. After seeing vehicle sales fall as petrol prices rose this year, carmakers worries that collapsing consumer confidence could further imperil their businesses.
 --Joshua Chaffin and John Reed, Financial Times, 7 October 2008
German carmakers Opel and BMW said Tuesday they were calling a temporary halt to production, following a fall-off in demand triggered by the global credit squeeze. Opel announced it was halting production in nearly all its European plants for periods of up to three weeks from October 13.
 --Deutsche Presse Agentur, 7 October 2008


Juliette Jowit, The Guardian, October 7 2008

Britain must abandon using almost all fossil fuels to produce power in 20 years' time, the government's climate change watchdog will warn today.  The independent Climate Change Committee will publish its advice to the government that the UK should set a 2050 target of cutting all greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% - including the emissions from aviation and transport, which were previously excluded.

Because it is unlikely that emissions from aviation and shipping will be cut so dramatically, other sectors, particularly power generation, would have to reduce emissions by much more, with big increases in energy efficiency, wind and tide power, and probably new nuclear generators, Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, the committee chairman, told the Guardian.

The committee will say the far-reaching changes would cost about 1-2% of the value of the economy in 2050, although growth would still be strong. "Rather than be twice present levels, [gross domestic product] would be 1 or 2% less than that," added Turner.

In his speech to the Labour party conference last month, Gordon Brown hinted that the government would accept the new target when it responds, possibly within days, although it is not clear if it will accept the full report.  Last night Ed Miliband, the new energy and climate secretary, said he welcomed the report. "We need to act now to avoid dangerous climate change and the action we take must be guided by experts. This is a pressing issue and we'll respond to the recommendations swiftly. The hard work will be for us all to make emission reductions a reality over the coming decades."

If the report is accepted in full, campaigners said the UK target would be the most ambitious legally binding commitment of any country and would give the UK a strong position in international negotiations about a new global plan.  "It would mean finally the government would accept the advice of scientists," said Martyn Williams, climate change campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "We could say to people in international negotiations: you can do what we're doing, not just what we're saying."

However, Williams warned that in future the commitment to include aviation and shipping must also be made legally binding. "If the government [did] not accept a mechanism to make sure they and other governments were held to account, then we'd have to wonder if there was any confidence it would have to be delivered," he said.

The Climate Change Committee was set up by the climate change bill and was asked to advise government on whether to increase the target of a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050.  Today's report will say the new target must be "at least 80%" and extend it to include other greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide. International aviation and shipping should not be part of the legally binding interim "budgets" that the committee will report on each year but should be a national target, and would "absolutely end up with an equal level of scrutiny", said Turner.

In the first decade the biggest change would be a big expansion of energy efficiency and in the second decade of renewable energy. Such a "radical" change was "do-able" but could also require new nuclear power, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for coal-fired power stations and industries like cement and steel, both of which will be seen as controversial by environmental campaigners. "It's possible to do it while knocking out particular technologies [like nuclear or CCS], it just gets significantly costly and more difficult to do," said Turner.  Longer term, zero-carbon electricity would also have to be used to power cars and heat homes, says the report.

The report will increase pressure to abandon controversial plans for new coal-fired power stations in the UK before CCS is available at that scale. Ministers have previously admitted full-scale CCS might not happen before 2050. Turner said the committee's opinion would be published in a more detailed report in December.  The December report will also recommend interim targets up to 2022 and the impact of different industry sectors.



By Roger Harrabin, Environment analyst, BBC News

The UK government's official climate change advisers have raised the bar on ambitions to cut emissions. 

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said a cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 80% by 2050 should include international aviation and shipping.  It said other industries would have to make up any shortfall in those areas.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has intimated at an 80% cut, but ministers have been wary of counting aviation and shipping, where cuts are difficult.  Mr Brown hinted at the Labour Party conference that the UK would need to cut emissions to just one fifth of the current amount - a task of staggering ambition.

The committee, led by the former CBI head Lord Adair Turner, says that if CO2 cannot be cut sufficiently from shipping and flying, some other sector will have to make up the shortfall to ensure the overall target of 80% is met. The committee's advice is fantastic news - climate change is the biggest threat the planet faces - Andy Atkins Friends of the Earth UK

The expert committee was set up to advise on how far the UK needed to cut emissions to contribute to a fair agreement to keep greenhouse gases below what official scientists consider to be a dangerous level.  They said that the target was achievable at an affordable cost of between 1-2% of GDP in 2050.

In a statement, Lord Turner said: "Climate change poses a huge potential threat to human welfare.  "If we do not act soon, in developed and developing countries, it will become too late to avoid serious and potentially catastrophic consequences," he added.  "That is why it is so vital that a global deal is reached on climate change and that the UK contributes significantly towards this.

Parliament is expected soon to pass the Climate Change Bill, which will provide for the setting of carbon budgets for the UK. The first such budget will be published by the Climate Change Committee at the beginning of December. The committee's insistence on the inclusion of international aviation in the targets ensures that flying will remain a source of controversy for years to come - particularly among Labour MPs.

It is the richest in society who fly most yet it is the poorest who will suffer most from high energy prices if the power sector needs to de-carbonise even more to make extra room for aviation.

Friends of the Earth's executive director, Andy Atkins, said: "The committee's advice is fantastic news - climate change is the biggest threat the planet faces. "The Climate Change Bill is a trail-blazing piece of legislation - but the government must now strengthen it to help make Britain a world leader in developing a low carbon economy."

Mr Atkins added that leaving international aviation and shipping outside of the target was not an option. "The bill currently has a loophole allowing future governments to continue to ignore these emissions - ministers must act to close it."



By Charles Clover , 09/10/2008

Whether you are a climate-change denier, a sceptic, or a believer in the scientific consensus on global warming, you have to admit that there is something preposterous about making someone Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.  It's a bit like giving King Canute added responsibility for sea level rise: it implies that he can do something about it.

Given that there is a less than 50 per cent chance, in my view, that mankind could do something about its greenhouse gas emissions in time to prevent dangerous climate change - thereby proving itself rational - Ed Miliband, the newly appointed Secretary, would appear to have his work cut out.

Given, too, that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits that there is only a 95 per cent probability that man-made factors caused the warming we have seen, you might think that Gordon Brown might have seen fit to create a few more new posts in his reshuffle.

The suggestion from the sceptic, Philip Stott, is that if the Prime Minister wanted to leave no stone unturned, he might also have created a minister for cosmic ray fluxes, solar magnetic cycles and sunspots; a minister for meteorites and cosmic dust, a minister for the earth's orbit, tilt, wobble, shape and velocity; a minister for volcanic eruptions and ocean circulations; and a minister for water vapour, clouds and atmospheric gases. All of those have something to do with climate change. The unresolved question is how much.



Letter from Roger Helmer, British member of European Parliament

Thank you for writing to me on the question of "Making Copenhagen [climate confab, Dec 2009] work for the poor".  I share your concern for poor people in developing countries.

Many of these people live in the most primitive conditions.  Many spend much of their time scavenging for firewood (with consequences in terms of local deforestation).  They live and cook in one room, and the smoke from their cooking fires has adverse health consequences, causing long-term respiratory problems and eye diseases, especially amongst infants.  Their children have to go to bed when the sun goes down and cannot study.

For these people, the very first step out of absolute poverty is the provision of electricity.  They can cook without smoke; there is light for the children to study at night; they can refrigerate food and medicines.  I am concerned that an over-aggressive commitment to cut carbon emissions will militate against the provision of the electricity which they so badly need.

There are more general questions about the effectiveness of climate mitigation strategies for alleviating poverty.  Professor Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish academic and environmentalist, brought together some of the world's top economists to create his Copenhagen Consensus ( on the best ways of helping the world's poor.  They ranked possible initiatives in terms of value for money for poor people.  The very best thing we could do, they found, would be to provide micronutrients (vitamins etc) for poor children.  Providing clean water, sewage systems, basic healthcare, education and so on were also very effective ways of helping the world's poor.  Spending on climate mitigation not only came bottom of the list, but almost off the chart.  It is rotten value for money.

Governments are proposing to spend literally trillions of dollars on climate mitigation, and there are big questions about whether this investment will have any significant effect.  For a fraction of that sum, we could provide clean water, basic healthcare and education across the world.  We could eradicate malaria.  Against this background, climate mitigation is not merely a waste of money -- it is a diversion of limited resources away from real priorities.

Amongst developed countries, this diversion of resources will leave less money (especially in these troubled times) for foreign aid, and less money for research and investment in low-carbon energy technologies which we so desperately need in the face of current threats to our energy security.  So in Copenhagen, I shall be looking for practical solutions that actually meet the world's needs, rather than responding to alarmist media hype on global warming.



Letter to New York Review of Books 

by S.Fred Singer, 10/6/2008

Some of your readers may be a bit puzzled by the scientific exchange between  Prof Robert May and Prof Freeman Dyson (NYRB Oct 9) about the ‘lifetime’ of human-contributed carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.  In spite of the great difference – 100 years versus 12 years – both physicists are correct; they just use different definitions of lifetime.  Lord May’s definition is a bit more interesting.  Essentially, he asks:  If we were to listen to Al Gore and suddenly stop using energy from fossil fuels, how long would it take for the currently enhanced CO2 level to return to its pre-industrial value?  (I make no value judgment here about  whether we should go back to a more primitive lifestyle.)

A more relevant question is whether the level of the greenhouse gas CO2 really matters.  In other words, is the general warming of about 1 degF since 1850 due to the observed increase of CO2 or is it caused mainly by natural factors, like changes in the Sun?  If the latter, then global warming is essentially unstoppable and control of CO2 emissions is pointless – besides being very costly.  Both possibilities are plausible;  the answer is difficult to establish and hotly contested – not only by scientists but also by politicians and journalists!  The fact that certain national science academies support a particular answer is not really relevant; what counts is evidence.

On this issue -- the cause of climate change -- I believe the evidence points  against CO2 and supports Dr Dyson – although Lord May might dispute that.  Of course, the widely publicized 2007 IPCC report (of the UN’s climate science panel) claims near 100% certainty that recent warming is anthropogenic – without good evidence to support their conclusion.  However, the 2008 report of the NIPCC, a non-governmental international science group, says otherwise:  “Nature – Not Human Activity – Rules the Climate”    Using IPCC data, NIPCC demonstrates that the observed pattern of warming disagrees with the pattern calculated from greenhouse models: The ‘fingerprints’ just don’t match.  But with both groups claiming to possess the ‘truth,’ might not a full-scale debate and quasi-judicial examination of the evidence settle this important public-policy issue?