|The Week That Was
June 28 -July 4, 1999
The Week That Was (June 28 - July 4) brought to you by SEPP
Environment news from around the world:
In Great Britain, British Petroleum chairman Sir John Browne, an early acolyte of the global-warming movement, may be having second thoughts. He attacked the carbon tax that the British government promises to institute in 2001 (Times 6/28). He calls it a "sin tax" (my, my!) and points out that it penalizes the Industrial North. (Yes, it would certainly upset the Geordies, perhaps even more than raising the tax on beer.) It looked like a conversion was underway at BP, but then Sir John waxed rhapsodic about CO2 emission trading (which works well enough within his own company but not internationally …and which, in any case, the European Union wants to ban or at least cap).
He had some help from the Royal Society and other scientific bodies. Sir Eric Ash and other prominents have protested the proposed broad energy tax, which includes also nuclear power. Wish our National Academy (Science or Engineering, we don't care which one) would speak out as strongly.
Big complaints by global warming promoters that the recent warm British winter reduced energy demand, leading to a 2% fall in fuel extraction and a 0.2% loss of GDP. Really? What about all the money saved by poor people in heating costs?
Meanwhile, the British Government is not giving up in its drive to raise more revenue and ruin its economy. They just announced that they would use hatching of bird eggs, butterfly counts, and data on ski-lift tickets sold in Scotland as sure indicators of global warming. Anything but thermometers apparently. More sense comes from the antipodes, however: New Zealand environment minister Simon Upton admits that global warming science is uncertain. Let's hope his statement starts a trend of enlightenment.
Speaking of birds and butterflies, a new survey by the American Geophysical Union found that Americans are less concerned than ever about combating global warming. "The more we talk about warming," says the study's director, John Immerwahr, "the [more the] public's concern goes down." There you go John, you're always correct. Perhaps the public is getting tired of learning that 35 species of European butterflies may be altering their migratory patterns or that a slight change in the nesting patterns of 20 species of British birds [NY Times June 29] spells imminent "environmental disaster." Well, there are always the whales.
The AGU's house journal reports (EOS June 8) NOAA administrator D. James Baker telling the International Whaling Commission that climate change and a potential rise in sea level COULD alter whale migration routes and geographic ranges and change reproductive rates. Increased exposure to ultraviolet-B radiation due to ozone depletion, he said, COULD lead to health effects, such as an increase in the likelihood of disease and impaired vision among whales. And, Baker added, increasing concentrations of chemical contaminants and heavy metals COULD alter the food web, increase bacterial infections and cancer, and increase sterility among whales. Then why are whale populations increasing? Explain that one, D. James!
Big disagreements between Europe and the United States about the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. believes in "flexibility", which means unrestricted emissions trading and use of the "Clean Development Mechanism" to get CO2 credits. But the European Union environment department says that without limits on trading there won't be "real domestic cuts in pollution." (and they're right, for once). EU's environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard thinks the situation is "alarming" and without painful efforts on the part of North American citizens, the Kyoto targets will not be met. It's so comforting to know that she wants us to feel our pain.
Of course, if the U.S. does not ratify Kyoto, the Protocol will probably never enter into force, putting no legally binding commitments on anyone. But that hasn't stopped the global-warming bureaucrats from putting into place an "international monitoring and legislative framework" for implementing Kyoto. Just in case, you know. Besides, it will fill up those empty office buildings in Bonn, now that the Bundestag has moved to Berlin.
In the meantime, Europeans are not doing too well in cutting emissions. The Irish Times reports that economic growth there is likely to increase emissions from 40 to 60 percent by 2010. The EU as a whole may not meet the intermediate objective of stabilizing emissions at the 1990 level by 2000. As estimates stand now, the European transport sector will increase emissions by 40 percent by the year 2010. So… they are looking to raise energy taxes, particularly on aircraft fuel. That's right; stick it to the Yanks. If only they had thought of it before Kosovo, they could have made a mint.
News from Denmark and the Danish ministry for the environment, headed by our friend Svend Auken (popularly known as Miljoe-Svend…. sort of like "Ozone-Man" for Al Gore). Anyway, they translated the IPCC's notorious phrase about "discernible human influence" into "unmistakable human influence", a much stronger wording. Miljoe-Svend admitted that the translation was incorrect but claims that the essence of it all was correct; so what the heck. After all, he said, we have already seen the signs of global warming and it is a serious problem, etc, etc. And then he added the oxymoron: "no politician of sound mind would dispute that."
Seems that Auken is upholding a fine Danish tradition; he and EU's Ritt B. make quite a pair. When it comes to "environmental leadership," the U.S. is in close competition with the Danes.
The news from Sweden is dismal. SEE SPECIAL APPEAL BELOW
Belgian chickens ruffle feathers. Belgian cluckers are allegedly laden with dioxin, causing great alarm in Europe. Apparently, some chicken feed was contaminated with reprocessed motor oil so that minute amounts of dioxin have been detected. For good measure, the Belgians also banned the killing of pigs, which should bring great joy to little porkers. This was taken as a preventive measure because of suspicions that they were fed contaminated feed. While pigs are doing well, heads are rolling in the Belgian government. It's Europe's biggest food crisis since the Mad Cow disease scare. Of course, the contamination occurred several months ago so that most of the perishable eggs and meats have already been consumed. The problem has been eaten up, so to speak, and well digested. No health effects were detected. But that doesn't stop Greenpeace, which manages to promote and amplify any environmental scare…by describing dioxin as exclusively "manmade" (false!), a "super poison" and "highly toxic" and "carcinogenic" (not true either, and certainly not in minute quantities). (Wall St. J, Europe, June 7)
Now Coca-Cola has been struck with the panic, first in Belgium and then in several other European countries. Symptoms were nebulous; no toxic agents were found; but on advice of its PR consultants the company acknowledged the reported illnesses as the real thing. As Elizabeth Whelan, president of ACSH (American Council of Science and Health), suggests in the June 21 WSJ, it may all be due to hysterical contagion. In fact, mass hysteria can explain a good many other scares as well, like global warming.
Look for hysteria from the U.S. next week…
Date: Thu, 01 Jul 1999 09:47:56 -0400
To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rolf Martens)
Subject: Committee Save Barsebäck : STOP THE DESTRUCTION! Committee Save Barsebäck: STOP THE DESTRUCTION! [Posted: 24.06.99]
Recently, on 16 June, the Governmental Court in Sweden announced its verdict concerning the government's decision in February 1998 to cause one of the two reactors of the modern, envi- ronmental-friendly and excellently well functioning nuclear power plant at Barsebäck and thus 30% of all electricity produc- tion capacity in the southern province of Scania to be closed down: The decision was "not" illegal. This scandalous verdict permits the government to close down half of the Barsebäck plant after 30 November of this year. It flagrantly contravenes the Constitution of Sweden, which i.a. provides that "nobody may be made to...suffer that the public domain reduce the use of any land or building [owned by him] except when this is necessary for satisfying important public interests". It "sanctions" an illegal decision. It of course is no public interest at all that this (privately- owned) power plant be closed, in part or even completely, which the government is planning too, and thus values amounting to billions of euros be destroyed. To practically all those who live in Sweden and in neighbouring countries, it on the contrary is of great interest indeed that this should *not* take place. They are the ones who, in the last resort, would be hit by such a really historic destruction. We once more call on all to PROTEST FORCEFULLY against the plans to close the nuclear power plant at Barsebäck! We once more appeal also for international support against them. (See our call "Defend Modern Civilization!" appended or sent separately.) It is well-known, and has been confirmed over and over again, that a large majority, over 80%, of all who live in Sweden manifestly oppose these closure plans, despite the massive media propaganda against nuclear energy since several decades back. Precisely on account of the protests by people in general it is that the intended closure, initially planned for 1 July 1998, at least has been deferred. And in our opinion, the last word on this question has not been said yet.
Malmoe, 24 June 1999 Committee Save Barsebäck (Kommittén Rädda Barsebäck) E-mail address: email@example.com
Contact address also: Rolf Martens, Nobelvaegen 28, SE - 214 33 Malmoe, Sweden; Tel.: +46 - 40 - 124832;: