Author Topic: Environmental issues  (Read 263614 times)


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #50 on: June 20, 2007, 07:18:58 AM »
That's pretty funny Buzz.

Changing subjects, Nature Conservancy is a fine group, which seeks market oriented solutions. As I read this editorial I am reminded that I need to renew my membership:

NT Times
Published: June 20, 2007

The steady march of major timber companies to new locations in the southern United States and overseas has exposed millions of acres to development, ratcheting up the already fierce pressures on the nation’s dwindling supply of open space. With most federal open-space programs cut to the bone, the task of preserving these lands for future generations has fallen increasingly to private groups.

Given their relatively limited resources, any victory they achieve is cause for cheers. And cheer we do this week for the Nature Conservancy’s purchase — with financing from the Open Space Institute and other groups — from a paper company of 161,000 acres of hardwood forests, mountain peaks, lakes and streams in New York’s Adirondacks.

The deal secures for posterity the last big piece of privately owned timberland in the Adirondacks. It caps a series of transactions stretching back to the early 1990s that altogether have protected hundreds of thousands of Adirondack backcountry acres that might otherwise have been lost to second homes. The transaction is also significant because it will allow selective logging to continue for 20 years, helping to preserve jobs at a local paper mill.

To cover the $110 million price, the Nature Conservancy is going to need more than just cheering. Some of the money could come from private fund-raising, and some by selling part of the timberland back to a company that would harvest the land sustainably but keep out residential development.

We also urge Gov. Eliot Spitzer to step forward, as his predecessor George Pataki did on similar occasions in the past. The state could buy some of the land outright, adding it to the New York State Forest Preserve. It could also buy the development rights from the Nature Conservancy through a conservation easement — rights, of course, it would never use.

From Maine to California, groups like the Nature Conservancy, the Conservation Fund and the Trust for Public Land are engaged in a continuing, and financially creative, battle to keep the developers at bay and keep large ecosystems intact. This week’s deal gives them, and all of us, heart.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Solar Radiation Variable Cycles, Part I
« Reply #51 on: July 11, 2007, 06:12:42 AM »
July 11, 2007
Global Warming and Solar Radiation

By D. Bruce Merrifield

Without the impact of solar radiation, the temperature on the earth would be about the same as the temperature of space, which is about -454 C. The amount of radiation reaching the earth is about 1,368 watts per square meter. This is a vast amount of energy, which would require the simultaneous output of 1.7 billion of our largest power plants to match. About 70 percent of this solar energy is absorbed and 30 percent is reflected. However, the amount of solar energy reaching the earth is not constant, but varies in several independent cycles of different degrees of magnitude, which may or may not reinforce each other.

These cycles include a 100,000-year cycle, which results from the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun, a 41,000-year (obliquity) cycle, which results from the tilt of the earth on its axis, a 23,000-year cycle which results from "climatic precession" or changes in direction of the earths axis relative to the sun, and an 11-year sunspot cycle, during which solar radiation increases and then declines. The most recent sunspot radiation cycle peaked in the year 2000, and currently is approaching a minimum. Curiously, NASA and the Russian Observatory both report that total solar radiation now has peaked, and all these cycles may be simultaneously in decline

Each 100,000-year peak in radiation appears to last about 15,000 to 20,000 years, and each has been coincident with massive surges of carbon dioxide and methane (the green house gasses), into the atmosphere, causing de-glaciation of the Polar and  Greenland ice caps. Surges of these greenhouse gasses have always been vastly greater than the amounts currently being generated by burning fossil fuels. For example, the most recent 100,000-year cycle raised sea levels 400 feet in the first 10,000 years, but since then sea levels have risen very little. In the current warming period, sea levels are rising only about 3 millimeters per year, and temperatures over the last 100 years have risen a modest 0.6 of a degree C.

Superimposed on this latest 100,000-year peak have been 6 secondary warming periods, each coincident with additional surges of carbon dioxide and methane, lasting about 200 years and then subsiding. Each of these previous warming periods was warmer than the current warming period, and current temperatures are below the median for the last 3000 years. Most remarkably, civilization first emerged in the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile River Valleys about 3400 B.C. in that period of great warming, and even more remarkably, each of these secondary surges of greenhouse gasses (none of human origin), has also been coincident with the rise of a major civilization.

For instance, 3,000 years ago in the 1000 B.C. warming period, the Babylonian era emerged. Then, 500 years later, the Greek civilization flourished, followed by the Romans 400 years later. A 1,000-year cold period followed through the dark ages, but then in the very warm 1000 A.D. Medieval Period, the ice and snow melted on Greenland; the Danes farmed there for 200 years, until it froze over again. There are no reports of seaports being flooded during this warm period.

About 500 years after the Medieval period, another surge of greenhouse gasses initiated the Renaissance, which was followed by an unexplained "Little Ice Age" from about 1600 to about 1750. (This was coincident with the Maunder Solar Radiation Minimum). During this period, Europe was covered with ice and snow, growing seasons were short, and starvation was common. Farmer unrest may have triggered the French Revolution. The most recent warming period began as solar radiation rapidly increased.

Interestingly, starting about two decades ago (1988), the total increase of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere has abruptly stopped, in spite of increased burning of fossil fuels.                                                                 

The forcing agent for these many previous warming periods over millions of years could not have been of human origin, and the measured volumes of carbon dioxide and methane which were coincident with each warming period, were vastly greater than those currently being produced by humans.


For millions of years, the earth has been subjected to successive waves of active warming and cooling. These cycles were not of human origin, and often reached temperatures much greater than those of the current period. The most recent warming period started about 300 years ago following an unexplained "little ice age." Mutually supportive data documenting these episodes have accumulated from many sources. They include cores from the Antarctic ice cap, from the Sargasso Sea, from stalagmites, from ocean up-wellings and from the shells of crustaceans trapped in pre-historic rock formations.

For example, the geological record from some 55 million years ago documents a great warming period, which occurred over a "geological instant." Carbon dioxide surged to about 1000 ppmv, and temperatures rose 5 to 7 F. higher than current global temperatures. (1) Methane also increased dramatically in this and other warming periods, with de-glaciation following each warming period. Recently, an analysis of ice cores from the Antarctic ice cap (2) have shown that over the last half million years, there have been sudden and repetitive powerful surges of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about every 100,000 years, with rapid de-glaciation, followed then by re-glaciation in long cooling periods. We now are at the latest of these peaks, which terminated the last ice age and raised sea levels about 400 feet.

Interestingly, these Antarctic data indicate that the rise in carbon dioxide then leveled off for unexplained reasons. Also, net increases of both carbon dioxide and methane have now ceased since 1988, although the production of human-generated carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide continue to accelerate .

Termination of this last ice age was coincident with a surge in green house gasses, which peaked about 10,000 years ago.  This 15,000-year radiation cycle is now declining.  In fact, we now might be in another ice age except for the fact that about 5,000 years ago, another surge of methane entered the atmosphere, and unexpectedly reversed the cooling effect.

This curious reversal may have counteracted the solar cooling process and initiated a new warming cycle, since archeological records document the period around 3400 B.C. as a great warming period felicitous for agriculture, and one in which civilization emerged in the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile river valleys. (4) Construction of Stonehenge also occurred at this time in England. Since then, there has been a number of additional 200 to 300 year warming periods, followed by sustained cooling periods.

More Recent Data

Cores taken from the sediments in the Sargasso Sea in the Bermuda Triangle (5) have added to the subsequent climate record. Superimposed on the most recent 100,000-year great surge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere have been six additional surges over the last 3,000 years.

Since the emergence of civilization, and until relatively recently, economic prosperity has been primarily based on agriculture, and each of these warming periods has been accompanied by an improved climate for growing food. After each surge, subsequent declines in green house gasses resulted in significant cooling of the climate and shorter growing seasons, perhaps contributing also to observed societal declines.

For example, three thousand years ago (1000 B.C.), the Babylonian civilization emerged and then flourished until the climate cooled. A second great surge in carbon dioxide, also of non-human origin, occurred about 500 B.C. coincident with the emergence and subsequent flourishing of the Greek civilization. The Roman civilization emerged during the next surge in carbon dioxide, after which there was an extended cooling period that encompassed the Dark Ages.

Then, in 1000 A.D., a fourth surge of carbon dioxide accompanied the Medieval Warming Period, during which much of the ice and snow on Greenland melted; for the following 200 years the Danes farmed Greenland. Presumably, much of the Antarctic snow and ice must also have simultaneously melted, but there are no records of massive flooding of coastal cities. This period also saw the collapse of the Mayan civilization as a serious drought covered Mexico and the U.S. Midwest. Massive sand dunes were formed in Nebraska during this period, and the Easter Island culture in the Pacific Ocean also collapsed at this time. A cooling period followed until the surge in 1500 A.D. which was coincident with the Renaissance and then the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but also saw the collapse of the Angkor civilization in Cambodia, when the canals from the Siem Reap River dried up and the rice economy was devastated. (6)

The 1500 A.D. warming period ended, curiously, in a "little ice age" when much of Europe was covered with ice and snow. This was followed by the start of the current warming period about 300 years ago, which also has been accompanied by a remarkable increase in methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane, when initially generated, is about 56 to 62 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. (7) However, it oxidizes to carbon dioxide over about a 12 year period, and consequently, over a 100 year period, its average effect is thought to be about 21 times that of carbon dioxide.

The amount of methane entering the atmosphere has doubled over the last 200 years and has been rising exponentially until very recently. For unexplained reasons the net rise of both carbon dioxide and methane has ceased since 1988 (Figure V).

Until the recent industrial period, relatively few people inhabited the western world, so these climate changes were not of human origin. (Figure VI).


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Solar Radiation Variable Cycles, Part II
« Reply #52 on: July 11, 2007, 06:15:52 AM »
Greenhouse Gas Sources

The earth's atmosphere is made up of a number of gasses which are essentially permanent in concentration and others which vary from time to time:   
Figure VII



            Nitrogen               78.9%                          Water                       0 to 4%         

            Oxygen                20.9%                          Carbon Dioxide       0.035%

            Argon                     0.9%                          Methane                   0.0002%

            Neon                    0.002%                        Ozone                     0.000004%

            Helium                  0.005%

            Krypton               0.0001%

            Hydrogen          0.000004%

Water Vapor

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas whose concentrations in computer models are currently not taken into account. Concentrations vary widely, both daily and over different sections of the earth.  Low thick clouds primarily reflect solar radiation, and cool the surface of the earth  High thin clouds primarily transmit incoming solar radiation, but also trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the earth, and radiate it back down to the earth, warming the surface of the earth.  The balance between cooling and warming is close, but cooling predominates.

During the last ice age, water vapor over the Antarctic was less than half of current concentrations, and the St Lawrence River at that time had cut a channel to the continental shelf which is now 400 feet below current ocean levels. De-glaciation raised these sea levels and atmospheric moisture also increased. (8) Warming effects due to water vapor seem to be disputed.

Carbon Dioxide

The amounts of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere have increased about 1.8% per year since pre-industrial times, rising from about 280 ppmv to 383 ppmv now -- the highest in 160,000 years. However, pre-industrial temperatures were much higher than current temperatures, when carbon dioxide concentrations were at the much lower 280 ppmv.

Massive amounts of this gas are absorbed in the oceans, in terrestrial systems and in the atmosphere, with a relatively labile equilibrium between them. Concentrations in the oceans are about 60 times greater than in the land and atmosphere, and about 20 times greater than in the atmosphere. Any warming of the oceans could release significant quantities of this gas.

Until the last century, none of these rises in warming could be attributed to human origin. Also, the rate of increased carbon dioxide which accompanied the end of the last ice could not alone have accounted for the abruptness of a 16 F. rise in temperature. Shorter term rapid fluctuations in temperature also were observed in the Sargasso Sea cores. These are inconsistent with more steady increases in Carbon dioxide, but possibly may be due to the onset of sudden warm currents in the Atlantic Ocean. (9) Deforestation and burning of fossil fuels in recent years have added to normal sources of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, but net increases now have inexplicably ceased over the last two decades.


Methane is more abundant in the atmosphere now than in the last 400,000 years, when concentrations were 278 ppbv (10). Since the little ice age, concentrations have increased from 700 to 1767 ppbv, but over the last two decades since 1998, they also have ceased to rise for unknown reasons. (11) Some 317 million cubic feet of methane are stored in U.S. hydrates and some 49,000 quadrillion cubic feet exist in the world compared with known U.S natural gas reserves of ("only") 187 million cubic feet. (12) World stores are 10 million teragrams of trapped methane V.S. 5000 teragrams in the atmosphere). Enormous quantities of methane molecules are trapped in cage like structures with water molecules on the ocean floor. Seismic shifts have been known to release large amounts of methane.

For example, a deadly cloud of dissolved carbon dioxide and methane gas was released from Lake Nyos, Cameroon, in East Africa, which killed 1700 people, by a "convective "magmatic" eruption which displaced the lower layer of the stratified lake in a volcanically active basin. However, methane may be primarily formed by bacterial degradation of on vegetation. (13) Life cycles for these gases are shown below, including long-lasting nitrous oxide, which since 1940 has increased from 0.5% to 1.2% in the atmosphere, primarily from microbial action on vegetation. (14)

                                        Gas Life Cycles (Figure VIII)

            GAS                20 YEARS            100 YEARS           500 YEARS     AVERAGE


Carbon Dioxide                ---                          ---                           120                   120                 

Methane                            56                       19-43                         9-16               12-18

Nitrous Oxide                  290                         320                          130                  120


The relative heat retention characteristics of each of these gasses is adjusted for effectiveness in Figure IX.

The significance of these data is that the relatively long decline, and the long life, of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not consistent with abrupt periods of rise and fall in 200 year warm-period cycles over the last 5000 years. The warm cycles should be expected to last much longer, since carbon dioxide, a chemically stable gas, persists for much longer periods.

The Solar Cycles

NASA data indicate that the climate on Mars is the warmest in decades, the planet's polar ice cap is shrinking, the ice in lower latitudes has disappeared, and a Martian ice age may be terminating. (15) This phenomenon appears to involve solar radiation, which has been increasing for the last 100 years. Without solar radiation, both Mars and the earth's temperature would be - 454 C. (16) and no other energy source exists in our solar system of this magnitude. As solar radiation varies in intensity, it can be expected to periodically also warm the earth's oceans, releasing dissolved carbon dioxide and melting methane hydrates -- the release of which have always accompanied all previous warming periods for millions of years. These greenhouse gasses then are known to absorb additional heat from the sun to cause follow-on periodic warming episodes, a secondary or derivative effect.

Five radiation cycles have been identified which operate independently of each other, (17) occasionally reinforcing each other, and occasionally canceling each other's effects (Figure X).

A 100,000-year cycle results from the elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun. A 41,000-year (obliquity) cycle results from the tilt of the earth on its axis. A 23,000-year (precession) cycle results from changes in direction of the earth's axis relative to the sun. Also, 95,000, 125 000 and 400,000 (obliquity) year cycles are operative, as is an 11-year sunspot cycle. All of these appear now to have peaked or are in decline. Over the last 300 years, following the Maunder "little ice age" there have been other dips in radiation (Figure (XI), but on average, radiation has increased. (18) This increase in radiation has been concurrent with the most recent warming period, which appears now to have been interrupted, in spite of accelerated burning of fossil fuels.
Dr. H. Abdussamatov, head of the  St. Petersburg Pulkova Astronomical Observatory (operating since 1839), points out that the earth now has hit its temperature ceiling and that solar radiation has begun to fall, which possibly could account for the current cessation of  greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. He anticipates that a cooling period may now develop, and equipment currently is being installed in the Space Station to monitor this effect.


The earth has been subjected to many warming and cooling periods over millions of years, none of which were of human origin. Data from many independent sources have mutually corroborated these effects. They include data from coring both the Antarctic ice cap and sediments from the Sargasso Sea, from stalagmites, from tree rings, from up-wellings in the oceans, and from crustaceans trapped in pre-historic rock formations.

The onset of each 100,000-year abrupt warming period has been coincident with emissions into the atmosphere of large amounts of both carbon dioxide and methane greenhouse gases, which absorb additional heat from the sun, a secondary warming effect. Solar radiation would appear to be the initial forcing event in which warming oceans waters release dissolved carbon dioxide, and melt methane hydrates, both of which are present in the oceans in vast quantities. Subsequent declines in radiation are associated with long cooling periods in which the green house gases then gradually disappear (are re-absorbed) into terrestrial and ocean sinks, as reflected in the data from coring the Antarctic Ice Cap and Sargasso Sea.

The current 100 year solar radiation cycle may now have reached its peak, and irradiation intensity has been observed to be declining. This might account for the very recent net cessation of emission of green house gases into the atmosphere starting about 1988, in spite of increasing generation of anthropomorphically-sourced industrial-based green house gases.

While it seems likely that solar radiation, rather than human activity,  is the "forcing agent" for global warming, the subject surely needs more study.

Dr. D. Bruce Merrifield is a former Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs and Professor Emeritus of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.  He holds Masters and Doctoral degrees in physical organic chemistry and currently is a member of the Visiting Committee for Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago.


1.  Science, August 26, (2005); Science Feb. 28 (1997) pp1267; Science News, Feb3, (2007) Vol. 171, pp67; Science Vol. 312, June 9 (2006) pp1485-89. http://www.Skymetrics.US/background/glossey.php -21k

2.   Science, June 6, (2006) pp1454; A.V. Federov, P.S. Dekens et al, The Pliocene Paradox, Science, Vol. 312, June 9, (2006) pp1485-89; D.R. MacAyeal, Dept. Geophysical Sciences, Univ. of Chicago,           

3.   Kenneth Clark, Civilization, Harper and Row, (1969), pp33; Arthur B. Robinson, Noah E. Robinson, Science (1996); L.D. Keigwin, The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea, Science, Vol. 274, Nov. 29, (1996) pp 5292;

4.   The End of Angkor, Science, Vol. 311, March 10, (2006).

5.   Gerald Dickens, A Methane Trigger for Rapid Warming?, Science, Vol 299, Feb. 14, (2003); Seth  Borebstein, Methane A New Climate Threat, Nature, ; C. Frankenberg, J.F. Meirink et al. Assessing Methane ; C. Frankenberg, J.F. Meirink et al. Assessing Methane Emissions From Global Space-Borne Observations, Science, Vol. 308, May 13, (2005).

6.   Charles Higham, Civilization of Angkor; pp14-16

7.   Methane Since 1684, Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Inst of Bern, Sidlerstrassa  5, Switzerland. 

8.   Hudson Canyon Map:; Wallace Broeker et al. Earth Observatory, Columbia Univ. Lecture at Amer Geographic Society, Baltimore, Spring 1999.

9.   Severinghouse, Science, Vol. 286, Oct. 29 (1999) pp 930-4.

10.   D.F. Ferretti, J.B. Miller et al, Unexpected Changes to the Global Methane Budget over the Past 2000 Years, Science, Vol. 309, Sept. 9 (2005).

11.   Mysterious Stabilization of Atmospheric Methane May Buy Time in Race
to Stop Global Warming, Geophysical Research Letters, Nov. 23 (2006). Mysterious Stabilization of Methane, Scientific American, Nov. 21 (2006).

12.   C&EN, Aug 8, (2005) pp16

13.   Science, Feb 28 (1997) pp1267; Geothermal Geophysical, Geosystems Vol. 10 (2001) pp1029.

14.   I.S.A. Isakreacta, et al, Radiation Forcing of Climate, Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change (2003).

15.   Urban Renaissance Inst., http://www.; Eva Bauer, Martin Clausen, V. Broukin, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 30, No. 6 (2003) pp127

16.   Milankovitch Cycles - Wikipedia Encyclopedia

17.   Richard Mueller, Gordon MacDonald (1977) Glacial Cycles and Astronomical Forcing

18.   J. Howard Maccabee,, (colloquium)

Page Printed from: at July 11, 2007 - 08:25:14 AM EDT


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Forecasting Folly
« Reply #53 on: July 16, 2007, 09:42:31 AM »
Ran into an interesting piece just past peer review and scheduled for publication, the first three pages of which I've included here. In a nutshell, the paper seeks to defines the utility of forecasting multivarieate phenomena, and at what point a prediction hinders rather than helps public policy planning. The entire piece can be read here:

Turns out there is an entire website and budding science devoted to the propogation of effective forecasting tools. "Global warming" forecasts don't fare to well under the empiric gaze used here:

The piece follows bellow:

Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts*
Kesten C. Green, Business and Economic Forecasting Unit, Monash University
c/o PO Box 10800, Wellington 6143, New Zealand.; T +64 4 976 3245; F +64 4 976 3250
J. Scott Armstrong†, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
747 Huntsman, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. 
(This paper is a draft of an article that is forthcoming in Energy and Environment.)
Version 43 – July 10, 2007
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group One, a panel of
experts established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations
Environment Programme, issued its updated, Fourth Assessment Report, forecasts. The Report
was commissioned at great cost in order to provide policy recommendations to governments. It
included predictions of dramatic and harmful increases in average world temperatures over the
next 92 years. Using forecasting principles as our guide we asked, are these forecasts a good basis
for developing public policy? Our answer is “no.”

 To provide forecasts of climate change that are useful for policy-making, one would need
to forecast (1) global temperature, (2) the effects of any temperature changes, (3) the effects of
alternative policies, and (4) whether the best policy would be successfully implemented. Proper
forecasts of all four are necessary for rational policy making. 

The IPCC Report was regarded as providing the most credible long-term forecasts of
global average temperatures by 31 of the 51 scientists and others involved in forecasting climate
change who responded to our survey. We found no references to the primary sources of
information on forecasting methods despite the fact these are easily available in books, articles,
and websites. In our audit of Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s WG1 Report, we found enough information
to make judgments on 89 out of a total of 140 forecasting principles. The forecasting procedures
that were described violated 72 principles. Many of the violations were, by themselves, critical.
We concluded that the forecasts in the Report were not the outcome of scientific
procedures. In effect, they were the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and
obscured by complex writing. Research on forecasting has shown that experts’ predictions are not
useful. Instead, policies should be based on forecasts from scientific forecasting methods. We
have been unable to identify any scientific forecasts of global warming. Claims that the Earth will
get warmer have no more credence than saying that it will get colder. 
Keywords: accuracy, audit, climate change, evaluation, expert judgment, mathematical models,
public policy.
*Neither of the authors received funding for this paper.
† Information about J. Scott Armstrong can be found on Wikipedia.
“A trend is a trend,
But the question is, will it bend?
Will it alter its course 
Through some unforeseen force
And come to a premature end?”
Alec Cairncross, 1969
Research on forecasting has been conducted since the 1930s. Of particular value are comparative
empirical studies to determine which methods are most accurate in given situations. The findings,
along with the evidence, were first summarized in Armstrong (1978, 1985). The forecasting
principles project, begun in the mid-1990s, summarized knowledge as evidence-based principles
(condition-action statements) to provide guidance on which methods to use in a given situation.
The project led to the Principles of Forecasting handbook (Armstrong 2001), which involved 40
authors (all internationally known experts on forecasting methods) along with 123 reviewers (also
leading experts on forecasting methods). The summarizing process alone required a four-year

Efforts have been made to ensure that these principles are easy to find. They have been freely
available on, a site that has been first on Google searches for
“forecasting” for many years. The directors’ objective for the site is to summarize all useful
knowledge on forecasting methods. There is no other source that provides evidence-based
forecasting principles. The site is often updated, and a recent update of evidence on some of the
key principles was published in Armstrong (2006).

Many of the principles go beyond common sense, and some are counter-intuitive. As a result,
those who forecast in ignorance of the research literature are unlikely to produce useful
predictions. For example, here are some of the well-established generalizations for situations
involving long-term forecasts of complex issues where the causal factors are subject to
uncertainty (as with climate):
• Unaided judgmental forecasts by experts have no value. This applies whether the
opinions are expressed in words, spreadsheets, or mathematical models. It also
applies regardless of how much scientific evidence is possessed by the experts.
Among the reasons for this are:
a) Complexity:  People cannot assess complex relationships through
unaided observations.
b) Coincidence:  People confuse correlation with causation.
c) Feedback:  People making judgmental predictions typically do not
receive unambiguous feedback they can use to improve
their forecasting. 
d) Bias:  People have difficulty in obtaining or using evidence that
contradicts their initial beliefs. This problem is especially
serious for people who view themselves as experts.
• Agreement among experts is weakly related to accuracy. This is especially true
when the experts communicate with one another and when they work together to
solve problems, as is the case with the IPCC process. 
• Complex models (those involving nonlinearities and interactions) harm accuracy
because their errors multiply. Ascher (1978), refers to the Club of Rome’s 1972
forecasts where, unaware of the research on forecasting, the developers proudly
proclaimed, “in our model about 100,000 relationships are stored in the computer.
Complex models also tend to fit random variations in historical data well, with the
consequence that they forecast poorly and provide misleading conclusions about the
uncertainty of the outcome. Finally, when complex models are developed there are
many opportunities for errors and the complexity means the errors are difficult to
find. Craig, Gadgil, and Koomey (2002) came to similar conclusions in their review
of long-term energy forecasts for the US made between 1950 and 1980. 
• Given even modest uncertainty, prediction intervals are enormous. For example,
prediction intervals (ranges outside which outcomes are unlikely to fall) expand
rapidly as time horizons increase, so that one is faced with enormous intervals even
when trying to forecast a straightforward thing such as automobile sales for General
Motors over the next five years. 
• When there is uncertainty in forecasting, forecasts should be conservative.
Uncertainty arises when data contain measurement errors, when the series are
unstable, when knowledge about the direction of relationships is uncertain, and
when a forecast depends upon forecasts of related (causal) variables. For example,
forecasts of no change were found to be more accurate than trend forecasts for
annual sales when there was substantial uncertainty in the trend lines (e.g., Schnaars
and Bavuso 1986). This principle also implies that forecasts should revert to long-
term trends when such trends have been firmly established, do not waver, and there
are no firm reasons to suggest that they will change. Finally, trends should be
damped toward no change as the forecast horizon increases. 
These conclusions were drawn from the forecasting principles in the edited handbook on
forecasting (Armstrong 2001) and they are described at A summary of
the principles, now numbering 140, is provided in the Forecasting Audit on the site, where they
are presented as a checklist. 
The Forecasting Problem
In determining the best policies to deal with the climate of the future, a policy maker first has to
select an appropriate statistic to use to represent the changing climate. By convention, the statistic
is the averaged global temperature as measured with thermometers at ground stations throughout
the world, though in practice this is a far from satisfactory metric (e.g., Essex et al., 2007). 
It is then necessary to obtain forecasts and prediction intervals for each of the following:
1. What will happen to the mean global temperature in the long-term (say 20 years or
2. If accurate forecasts of mean global temperature changes can be obtained and these
changes are substantial, then it would be necessary to forecast the effects of the
changes on the health of living things and on the health and wealth of humans. The
concerns about changes in global mean temperature are based on the assumption that
the earth is currently at the optimal temperature and that variations over years (unlike
variations within years) are undesirable. For a proper assessment, costs and benefits
must be comprehensive. (For example, policy responses to Rachel Carson’s Silent
Spring should have been based in part on forecasts of the number of people who
might die from malaria if DDT use were reduced).
3. If reliable forecasts of the effects of the temperature changes on the health of living
things and on the health and wealth of humans can be obtained and the forecasts are
for substantial harmful effects, then it would be necessary to forecast the costs and
benefits of alternative policy proposals. 
4. If reliable forecasts of the costs and benefits of alternative policy proposals can be
obtained and at least one proposal is predicted to lead to net benefits, then it would be
necessary to forecast whether the policy changes can be implemented successfully. 
If reliable forecasts of policy implementation can be obtained and the forecasts clearly support net
benefits for the policy, and the policy can be successfully implemented, then the policy proposal
should be implemented. A failure to obtain scientifically validated forecasts at any stage would
render subsequent stages irrelevant. Thus, we focus on the first of the four forecasting problems. 
Is it necessary to use scientific forecasting methods? In other words, to use methods that have
been shown by empirical validation to be relevant to the types of problems involved with climate
forecasting? Or is it sufficient to have leading scientists examine the evidence and make
forecasts? We address this issue before moving on to our audits.


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Chinese pollution reaches US
« Reply #54 on: July 23, 2007, 05:44:53 AM »
Huge Dust Plumes
From China Cause
Changes in Climate
July 20, 2007; Page B1
One tainted export from China can't be avoided in North America -- air.

An outpouring of dust layered with man-made sulfates, smog, industrial fumes, carbon grit and nitrates is crossing the Pacific Ocean on prevailing winds from booming Asian economies in plumes so vast they alter the climate. These rivers of polluted air can be wider than the Amazon and deeper than the Grand Canyon.

"There are times when it covers the entire Pacific Ocean basin like a ribbon bent back and forth," said atmospheric physicist V. Ramanathan at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.


• Can the U.S. help stop global traffic in aerosol pollution? And what's the international responsibility here? Share your thoughts in an online forum.On some days, almost a third of the air over Los Angeles and San Francisco can be traced directly to Asia. With it comes up to three-quarters of the black carbon particulate pollution that reaches the West Coast, Dr. Ramanathan and his colleagues recently reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

This transcontinental pollution is part of a growing global traffic in dust and aerosol particles made worse by drought and deforestation, said Steven Cliff, who studies the problem at the University of California at Davis.

Aerosols -- airborne microscopic particles -- are produced naturally every time a breeze catches sea salt from ocean spray, or a volcano erupts, or a forest burns, or a windstorm kicks up dust, for example. They also are released in exhaust fumes, factory vapors and coal-fired power plant emissions.

Courtesy SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE 
A satellite view from 2001 shows dust arriving in California from Asian deserts. Concentrations of dust are visible to the south, near the coastline (lower right); To the west the dust is mixed with clouds over open ocean. This dust event caused a persistent haze in places like Death Valley, California, where skies are usually crystal clear.
Over the Pacific itself, the plumes are seeding ocean clouds and spawning fiercer thunderstorms, researchers at Texas A&M University reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in March.

The influence of these plumes on climate is complex because they can have both a cooling and a warming effect, the scientists said. Scientists are convinced these plumes contain so many cooling sulfate particles that they may be masking half of the effect of global warming. The plumes may block more than 10% of the sunlight over the Pacific.

But while the sulfates they carry lower temperatures by reflecting sunlight, the soot they contain absorbs solar heat, thus warming the planet.

Asia is the world's largest source of aerosols, man-made and natural. Every spring and summer, storms whip up silt from the Gobi desert of Mongolia and the hardpan of the Taklamakan desert of western China, where, for centuries, dust has shaped a way of life. From the dunes of Dunhuang, where vendors hawk gauze face masks alongside braided leather camel whips, to the oasis of Kashgar at the feet of the Tian Shan Mountains 1,500 miles to the west, there is no escaping it.

Courtesy SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE. 
A satellite image from 2005 shows a plume of dust flowing from China to the north of the Korean Peninsula and over the Sea of Japan. Such plumes can cross the Pacific and scatter dust across the Western U.S.
The Taklamakan is a natural engine of evaporation and erosion. Rare among the world's continental basins, no river that enters the Taklamakan ever reaches the sea. Fed by melting highland glaciers and gorged with silt, these freshwater torrents all vanish in the arid desert heat, like so many Silk Road caravans.

Only the dust escapes.

In an instant, billows of grit can envelope the landscape in a mist so fine that it never completely settles. Moving east, the dust sweeps up pollutants from heavily industrialized regions that turn the yellow plumes a bruised brown. In Beijing, where authorities estimate a million tons of this dust settles every year, the level of microscopic aerosols is seven times the public-health standard set by the World Health Organization.

Once aloft, the plumes can circle the world in three weeks. "In a very real and immediate sense, you can look at a dust event you are breathing in China and look at this same dust as it tracks across the Pacific and reaches the United States," said climate analyst Jeff Stith at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado. "It is a remarkable mix of natural and man-made particles."

Carlye Calvin, UCAR 
Jeff Stith of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a principal investigator on the Pacific Dust Experiment.
This spring, Dr. Ramanathan and Dr. Stith led an international research team in a $1 million National Science Foundation project to track systematically the plumes across the Pacific. NASA satellites have monitored the clouds from orbit for several years, but this was the first effort to analyze them in detail.

For six weeks, the researchers cruised the Pacific aboard a specially instrumented Gulfstream V jet to sample these exotic airstreams. Their findings, to be released this year, involved NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and nine U.S. universities, as well as the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan, Seoul National University in Korea, and Lanzhou University and Peking University in China.

The team detected a new high-altitude plume every three or four days. Each one was up to 300 miles wide and six miles deep, a vaporous layer cake of pollutants. The higher the plumes, the longer they lasted, the faster they traveled and the more pronounced their effect, the researchers said.

Until now, the pollution choking so many communities in Asia may have tempered the pace of global warming. As China and other countries eliminate their sulfate emissions, however, world temperatures may heat up even faster than predicted.

• Email


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
More Reasoned Climate Discourse
« Reply #55 on: July 27, 2007, 01:10:24 PM »
An all too familiar tone echoed below.

EPA Chief Vows to Probe E-mail Threatening to ‘Destroy’ Career of Climate Skeptic
July 26, 2007

Posted By Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov – 4:12 PM ET

Update (3:00pm ET, Friday, July 27, 2007): American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) contacted the Inhofe EPW Press Blog and asked that we include a link to Michael Eckhart's response. Also included here is a response by Marlo Lewis.

EPA Chief Vows to Probe E-mail Threatening to
‘Destroy’ Career of Climate Skeptic

During today’s hearing, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, confronted Stephen Johnson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a threatening e-mail from a group of which EPA is currently a member. The e-mail threatens to “destroy” the career of a climate skeptic. Michael T. Eckhart, president of the environmental group the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), wrote in an email on July 13, 2007 to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI):

 “It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on."

In a July 16, Washington Times article, Eckhart confirmed that he did indeed write the email.

After Senator Inhofe read Eckhart's comments, Johnson vowed to launch a probe concerning the threatening e-mail. Johnson responded to Inhofe saying, “I was not aware of this quote.” He continued, “Statements like this are of concern to me.  I am a believer in cooperation and collaboration across all sectors.” Johnson then added, “This is an area I will look into for the record.” (See YouTube video of exchange between Senator Inhofe and Johnson)

Senator Inhofe replied, “I would like to have you look into this and make an evaluation, talk it over with your people and see if it is appropriate to be a part of an organization that is headed up by a person who makes this statement.”

Following the hearing, Senator Inhofe announced that he will be sending letters to the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and EPA, urging them to “reconsider their membership in ACORE.”

Full Text of Eckhart’s July 13, 2007 e-mail to CEI’s Lewis:

Marlo –

You are so full of crap.

You have been proven wrong. The entire world has proven you wrong. You are the last guy on Earth to get it. Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.

Michael T. Eckhart
American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE)


During today’s hearing ( “Examining the Case for the California Waiver: An Update from EPA” ), Senator Inhofe explained to the Committee that this kind of vilification of climate skeptics and subsequent threats to their professional integrity are not uncommon.

“This is so typical of these hate filled people who threaten and use vile language. I was called a traitor by one of the extreme left, this is what happens when you lose your case and [this threatening e-mail by ACORE’s president] is the best evidence of it,” Senator Inhofe explained. “We have all of these people who have a stake in [promoting man-made climate hysteria] like the Weather Channel’s Heidi Cullen.  If the trend now in science is refuting that anthropogenic gases are a primary cause of climate change, then she is out of business, her whole weekly program (The Climate Code) is gone, her career is gone,” Senator Inhofe concluded.

Sampling of recent threats and intimidation targeted at climate skeptics:

RFK Jr. Lashes out at skeptics of global warming: 'This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors' (July 8, 2007)
Excerpt: "Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist author, president of Waterkeeper Alliance and Robert F. Kennedy's son, who grew hoarse from shouting. "This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.
Inhofe Responds to RFK Jr’s “Traitor” Comments on Fox News (Video)
Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics (January 17, 2007)
Excerpt: The Weather Channel’s most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming. This latest call to silence skeptics follows a year (2006) in which skeptics were compared to "Holocaust Deniers" and Nuremberg-style war crimes trials were advocated by several climate alarmists.
Inhofe Interview on Fox and Friends: Weather Wars (Video)
Excerpt: Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”
War declared on ‘Climate Criminals’ who are committing ‘Terracide’ (killing of Planet Earth) (July 25, 2007)
Excerpt: Global warming driven by greenhouse gas pollution (but ultimately by greed, racism and lying) is killing our Planet. Our Planet, the Earth - is under acute threat from Climate Criminals threatening the Third World with Climate Genocide and the Biosphere with Terracide (the killing of our Planet).
Skeptical State Climatologist in Oregon has title threatened by Governor (February 8, 2007)
Excerpt: “[State Climatologist George Taylor] does not believe human activities are the main cause of global climate change…So the [Oregon] governor wants to take that title from Taylor and make it a position that he would appoint. In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title from Taylor.
Skeptical State Climatologist in Delaware silenced by Governor (May 2, 2007)
Excerpt:  Legates is a state climatologist in Delaware, and he teaches at the university. He`s not part of the mythical climate consensus. In fact, Legates believes that we oversimplify climate by just blaming greenhouse gases. One day he received a letter from the governor, saying his views do not concur with those of the administration, so if he wants to speak out, it must be as an individual, not as a state climatologist. So essentially, you can have the title of state climatologist unless he`s talking about his views on climate?
Former US Vice President Al Gore compared global warming skeptics to people who 'believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona' (June 20, 2006)
Gore Refuses to Hear Skeptical Global Warming Views (Video)
UK environment secretary David Miliband said ‘those who deny [climate change] are the flat-Earthers of the twenty-first century’ (October 6, 2006)


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Software Bug Inflates Warming Data?
« Reply #56 on: August 10, 2007, 09:50:43 AM »
As I've noted before there is a guerrilla effort afoot to document the condition at US climate stations from which climate data is derived. Part of that effort has also included attempts to have the government scientists who collect and use that data to release their methodology and datasets for peer review. That attempt has been stonewalled, which is a curious thing to do in a peer review, scientific context.

Be that as it may, a guerrilla scientist gnawing at the data from another direction--bascially backward engineering the dataset--has discovered what appears to be a year 2000 bug in the software used to create some of the alarming warming data. This discovery has caused the scientists who have refused to release their data and methodology to revise (downward) their global warming claims. One wonders what would occur if the data and methodology was further exposed to review.

The piece is extensively linked and hence best viewed at the source:

Breaking News: Recent US Temperature Numbers Revised Downwards Today

This is really big news, and a fabulous example of why two-way scientific discourse is still valuable, in the same week that both Newsweek and Al Gore tried to make the case that climate skeptics were counter-productive and evil.

Climate scientist Michael Mann (famous for the hockey stick chart) once made the statement that  the 1990's were the warmest decade in a millennia and that "there is a 95 to 99% certainty that 1998 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years." (By the way, Mann now denies he ever made this claim, though you can watch him say these exact words in the CBC documentary Global Warming:  Doomsday Called Off).

Well, it turns out, according to the NASA GISS database, that 1998 was not even the hottest year of the last century.  This is because many temperatures from recent decades that appeared to show substantial warming have been revised downwards.  Here is how that happened (if you want to skip the story, make sure to look at the numbers at the bottom).

One of the most cited and used historical surface temperature databases is that of NASA/Goddard's GISS.  This is not some weird skeptics site.  It is considered one of the premier world temperature data bases, and it is maintained by anthropogenic global warming true believers.  It has consistently shown more warming than any other data base, and is thus a favorite source for folks like Al Gore.  These GISS readings in the US rely mainly on the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) which is a network of about 1000 weather stations taking temperatures, a number of which have been in place for over 100 years.

Frequent readers will know that I have been a participant in an effort led by Anthony Watts at to photo-document these temperature stations as an aid to scientists in evaluating the measurement quality of each station.  The effort has been eye-opening, as it has uncovered many very poor instrument sitings that would bias temperature measurements upwards, as I found in Tucson and Watts has documented numerous times on his blog.

One photo on Hall's blog got people talking - a station in MN with a huge jump in temperature about the same time some air conditioning units were installed nearby.   Others disagreed, and argued that such a jump could not be from the air conditioners, since a lot of the jump happened with winter temperatures when the AC was dormant.  Steve McIntyre, the Canadian statistician who helped to expose massive holes in Michael Mann's hockey stick methodology, looked into it.  After some poking around, he began to suspect that the GISS data base had a year 2000 bug in one of their data adjustments.

One of the interesting aspects of these temperature data bases is that they do not just use the raw temperature measurements from each station.  Both the NOAA (which maintains the USHCN stations) and the GISS apply many layers of adjustments, which I discussed here.  One of the purposes of Watt's project is to help educate climate scientists that many of the adjustments they make to the data back in the office does not necessarily represent the true condition of the temperature stations.  In particular, GISS adjustments imply instrument sitings are in more natural settings than they were in say 1905, an outrageous assumption on its face that is totally in conflict to the condition of the stations in Watt's data base.  Basically, surface temperature measurements have a low signal to noise ratio, and climate scientists have been overly casual about how they try to tease out the signal.

Anyway, McIntyre suspected that one of these adjustments had a bug, and had had this bug for years.  Unfortunately, it was hard to prove.  Why?  Well, that highlights one of the great travesties of climate science.  Government scientists using taxpayer money to develop the GISS temperature data base at taxpayer expense refuse to publicly release their temperature adjustment algorithms or software (In much the same way Michael Mann refused to release the details for scrutiny of his methodology behind the hockey stick).  Using the data, though, McIntyre made a compelling case that the GISS data base had systematic discontinuities that bore all the hallmarks of a software bug.

Today, the GISS admitted that McIntyre was correct, and has started to republish its data with the bug fixed.  And the numbers are changing a lot.  Before today, GISS would have said 1998 was the hottest year on record (Mann, remember, said with up to 99% certainty it was the hottest year in 1000 years) and that 2006 was the second hottest.  Well, no more.  Here are the new rankings for the 10 hottest years in the US, starting with #1:

1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939

Three of the top 10 are in the last decade.  Four of the top ten are in the 1930's, before either the IPCC or the GISS really think man had any discernible impact on temperatures.  Here is the chart for all the years in the data base:

There are a number of things we need to remember:

This is not the end but the beginning of the total reexamination that needs to occur of the USHCN and GISS data bases.  The poor correction for site location and urbanization are still huge issues that bias recent numbers upwards.  The GISS also has issues with how it aggregates multiple stations, apparently averaging known good stations with bad stations a process that by no means eliminates biases.  As a first step, we must demand that NOAA and GISS release their methodology and computer algorithms to the general public for detailed scrutiny by other scientists.

The GISS today makes it clear that these adjustments only affect US data and do not change any of their conclusions about worldwide data.  But consider this:  For all of its faults, the US has the most robust historical climate network in the world.  If we have these problems, what would we find in the data from, say, China?  And the US and parts of Europe are the only major parts of the world that actually have 100 years of data at rural locations.  No one was measuring temperature reliably in rural China or Paraguay or the Congo in 1900.  That means much of the world is relying on urban temperature measurement points that have substantial biases from urban heat.
All of these necessary revisions to surface temperatures will likely not make warming trends go away completely.  What it may do is bring the warming down to match the much lower satellite measured warming numbers we have, and will make current warming look more like past natural warming trends (e.g. early in this century) rather than a catastrophe created by man.  In my global warming book, I argue that future man-made warming probably will exist, but will be more like a half to one degree over the coming decades than the media-hyped numbers that are ten times higher.

So how is this possible?  How can the global warming numbers used in critical policy decisions and scientific models be so wrong with so basic of an error?  And how can this error have gone undetected for the better part of a decade?  The answer to the latter question is because the global warming  and climate community resist scrutiny.  This weeks Newsweek article and statements by Al Gore are basically aimed at suppressing any scientific criticism or challenge to global warming research.  That is why NASA can keep its temperature algorithms secret, with no outside complaint, something that would cause howls of protest in any other area of scientific inquiry.

As to the first question, I will leave the explanation to Mr. McIntyre:

While acolytes may call these guys “professionals”, the process of data adjustment is really a matter of statistics and even accounting. In these fields, Hansen and Mann are not “professionals” - Mann admitted this to the NAS panel explaining that he was “not a statistician”. As someone who has read their works closely, I do not regard any of these people as “professional”. Much of their reluctance to provide source code for their methodology arises, in my opinion, because the methods are essentially trivial and they derive a certain satisfaction out of making things appear more complicated than they are, a little like the Wizard of Oz. And like the Wizard of Oz, they are not necessarily bad men, just not very good wizards.

For more, please see my Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming or, if you have less time, my 60-second argument for why one should be skeptical of catastrophic man-made global warming theory.

Update: Nothing new, just thinking about this more, I cannot get over the irony that in the same week Newsweek makes the case that climate science is settled and there is no room for skepticism, skeptics discover a gaping hole and error in the global warming numbers.

Update #2:  I know people get upset when we criticize scientists.  I get a lot of "they are not biased, they just made a mistake."  Fine.  But I have zero sympathy for a group of scientists who refuse to let other scientists review their methodology, and then find that they have been making a dumb methodology mistake for years that has corrupted the data of nearly every climate study in the last decade.

Update #3:  I labeled this "breaking news," but don't expect to see it in the NY Times anytime soon.  We all know this is one of those asymmetric story lines, where if the opposite had occurred (ie things found to be even worse/warmer than thought) it would be on the front page immediately, but a lowered threat will never make the news.

Oh, and by he way.  This is GOOD news.  Though many won't treat it that way.  I understand this point fairly well because, in a somewhat parallel situation, I seem to be the last anti-war guy who treats progress in Iraq as good news.

Update #4: I should have mentioned that the hero of the Newsweek story is catastrophic man-made global warming cheerleader James Hansen, who runs the GISS and is most responsible for the database in question as well as the GISS policy not to release its temperature aggregation and adjustment methodologies.  From IBD, via CNN Money:

Newsweek portrays James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, as untainted by corporate bribery.

Hansen was once profiled on CBS' "60 Minutes" as the "world's leading researcher on global warming." Not mentioned by Newsweek was that Hansen had acted as a consultant to Al Gore's slide-show presentations on global warming, that he had endorsed John Kerry for president, and had received a $250,000 grant from the foundation headed by Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Update #5: My letter to the editor at Newsweek.  For those worried that this is some weird skeptic's fevered dream, Hansen and company kind of sort of recognize the error in the first paragraph under background here.  Their US temperature chart with what appears is the revised data is here.

Update #6: Several posts are calling this a "scandal."  It is not a scandal.  It is a mistake from which we should draw two lessons:

We always need to have people of opposing opinions looking at a problem.  Man-made global warming hawks expected to see a lot of warming after the year 2000, so they never questioned the numbers.  It took folks with different hypotheses about climate to see the jump in the numbers for what it was - a programming error.
Climate scientists are going to have to get over their need to hold their adjustments, formulas, algorithms and software secret.  It's just not how science is done.  James Hansen saying "trust me, the numbers are right, I don't need to tell you how I got them" reminds me of the mathematician Fermat saying he had a proof of his last theorem, but it wouldn't fit in the margin.  How many man-hours of genius mathematicians was wasted because Fermat refused to show his proof (which was most likely wrong, given how the theorem was eventually proved).


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Still Stalling on Incorrect Data
« Reply #57 on: August 18, 2007, 07:08:41 PM »
August 17, 2007
NASA Flacks for Global Warming and Skirts Scientific Ethics

By James Lewis
As pointed out in these pages, NASA has yet to own up fully to its historic error in misinterpreting US surface temperatures to conform to the Global Warming hypothesis, as discovered by Stephen McIntyre at This is not the first major error discovered by McIntyre and his coworker, Canadian economist Ross McKintrick, who previously uncovered the fatally flawed "hockey stick" climate curve, used to justify Global Warming alarmism by the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.   

Here is the official ethics statement on scientific errors and the need for public correction from the American Physical Society, the national society of research physics:
"It should be recognized that honest error is an integral part of the scientific enterprise. It is not unethical to be wrong, provided that errors are promptly acknowledged and corrected when they are detected." [emphasis added]

The more time that is allowed to pass before NASA makes a formal acknowledgement of error commensurate with the attention focused on the original announcement, the more it will be vulnerable to genuine charges of purposeful misconduct, as opposed to inadvertent error.

Michael Fumento pointed out that NASA has issued no less than five separate PR releases on the Global Warming hypothesis just this year, "each one alarming." But the major correction to internationally-broadcast claims about Global Warming have not received even a NASA press release, much less an official correction in a peer-reviewed journal like Science magazine. This is unacceptable. As Fumento wrote:
In pooh-poohing the revision, the GISS ignores the tremendous emotional impact it's had in practically claiming each year is hotter than the one before.
Honest scientists don't dismiss the significance of data errors; PR hacks do such things.

James Hansen of NASA is minimizing the importance of the changes by claiming that since the US is only a small potion of the total world, the overall global figures have not changed much. However, the US surface temperature record is considered to be the most complete, and longest, over the largest surface area, and also the most technically responsible available record. (It's very easy to screw up a temperature record, especially in many different locations, due to local heat and cooling sources.) It is not inferential (like ice cores), and it does not come from a scientifically backward country. No other continent-wide temperature surface record comes up to that standard, over such a long period of time.

So even though the US only covers 2 percent of earth surface, it's a crucial 2 percent in terms of the quality of the record.

In addition, raw data errors are very serious matters, even if there are excuses. In fact, the idea that NASA indulges in excuses is itself inculpatory. Good scientists just don't screw around with that. They just get out the correction, pronto, in a peer-reviewed, prominent journal, as soon as possible. That is because their entire reputation is at stake. There are numerous examples of scientists blowing their reputations if they were believed to have falsified their data. See the David Baltimore case. 

It is not even for the original erroneous author to decide on the significance of the error. That is up to the scientific community.

If NASA, a US government agency, will not own up fully to its own errors (which have now been corrected, quietly, on its GISS website), the American Physical Society must institute its own ethics inquiry to correct the record. The credibility of NASA and the entire scientific community are at stake.

If you want to see how common the practice of publishing errata and retractions is, take a look at PubMed (the National Library of Medicine public database of millions of biomedical abstracts).  Just type "errata" in, and you get more than 1,000 titles with the word "errata". The word "erratum" brings up another 3,000. The word "retraction" brings up almost 11,000 more.

A good model appears below. It just appeared in Science about an 8,200 year old low temperature event, which turns out to be possibly due to a technical artifact. Notice that the retraction was triggered by the fact that a re-analysis showed the original claim to be "uncertain". Since the burden of proof is on the scientist who published the finding, s/he must also publish the retraction.

Retraction of Baldini et al., Science 296 (5576) 2203-2206.
Science 10 August 2007:
Vol. 317. no. 5839, p. 748
DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5839.748b

Retraction of an Interpretation
In the Report "Structure of the 8200-year cold event revealed by a speleothem trace element record" (1), we presented a 7762-?m-long ion probe trace element traverse chosen to include the 8200-year event as detected in a previously published laser ablation oxygen isotope study from the same stalagmite (2). The oxygen isotope anomaly was distinct and dropped 8‰ below baseline values to a low value for the entire Holocene of -12‰ and was reproducible on a reverse track. However, recent reanalysis of the calcite believed to contain the oxygen isotope anomaly suggests that the anomaly was probably an analytical artifact possibly caused by laser ablation-induced fracturing during the original analysis (3). Consequently, without the original 18O "marker," the precise location in the stalagmite of calcite deposited during the 8200-year event is uncertain.
The trace element data in this Report, previously believed to correspond precisely with the entire 8200-year event, are now believed to represent the hydrological and bioproductivity response in western Ireland to a cold/dry event of uncertain provenance and intensity. The U-Th-derived dates of the event correspond approximately with the 8200-year event in Greenland ice cores, but without the additional guidance of the 18O anomaly, the precise timing in relation to the 8200-year event is now somewhat ambiguous. Unfortunately, it is now unlikely that the approximately 114-year duration ion probe track coincides with the entire 8200-year event (if at all); thus, the ~37-year estimate derived for its duration is probably no longer accurate. However, the trace element data remain robust and are interpreted as reflecting colder and drier conditions in western Ireland, followed by the return to more maritime conditions at the end of the first-order trace element anomaly. Additionally, the novel application of annual trace element cycles to build a high-resolution chronology and reconstruct paleoseasonality remains unchanged.
James U. L. Baldini
Department of Earth Sciences
Durham University
South Road
Durham DH1 3LE, UK
Frank McDermott
Department of Geology
University College Dublin
Dublin 4, Ireland
Ian J. Fairchild
School of Geography
Earth and Environmental Science
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
     1.     J. U. L. Baldini, F. McDermott, I. J. Fairchild, Science 296, 2203 (2002).
     2.     F. McDermott, D. P. Mattey, C. Hawkesworth, Science 294, 1328 (2001).
     3.     I. J. Fairchild et al., Earth Sci. Rev. 75, 105 (2006).
James Lewis blogs at


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
A Couple of Questions
« Reply #58 on: August 18, 2007, 09:35:09 PM »
Several important questions asked herein, and I've taken the liberty of bolding a damning synopsis.

August 17, 2007
Why Would Anyone Trust NASA's Climate Data Now?

By Marc Sheppard
Last week's disclosure of a critical temperature data revision by NASA climate experts under cover-of-darkness poses as many questions as it answers.  With worried alarmists scurrying to either dismiss the restatement's relevance or ignore it altogether, and NASA itself descending to CYOA tactics, the paramount issue remains that of credibility - both the agency's and the big green scare machine's.

Hastily responding to the media-subdued mini-furor his amendment sparked, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) chief James Hansen reflexively complained that "deniers" were "making a mountain of a molehill" about the "insignificant" revision.  The overruled head eco-doomer mulishly denied that the data update had any impact upon "the overall trend."  Ironically, while he's undoubtedly wrong, he also happens to be quite right.

After all, only his fellow doomsayers ever actually found any trend or anthropogenic evidence in the old numbers to begin with. And while the revisions are, indeed, significant, any enviro-plugged short-term "trend" they mitigate remains resoundingly otherwise.

In fact, Hansen's smoke-and-mirrors are instantly defogged by basic analysis of the so-called "trend" he continues to find even in the reworked numbers.

The Data Interpretations are Hyped

If you'll pardon the expression -- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize that after a significant (and enigmatic) ascent in 1998, annual averages tended to drop off before an increase in 2005 and a spike the following year.  Available 5 year means (5YM) over 10 years tended to climb to an apex in 2000, and then drop off until 2004.

Can this possibly represent a harbinger of boundless warming, as preached before and still by the minister of the eco-apocalypse?


Take a look at the revised 1930 through 1950 data, and you'll find not only 4 of the 10 hottest years since 1880 occurring in the 1930s, but a 5YM "trend" similar to that building today to boot. You'll also notice a 2nd zenith is reached in 1940, followed by a gradual drop to below 1930 levels by 1950.

So any alarmist argument that we've been getting consistently hotter over the past decade would not only ring disingenuous, it would be of no empirical value whatsoever. And that's exactly why the subterfuge potential of the hottest ever years clocking in during that time is so essential to their misbegotten crusade.

Now consider that atmospheric CO2 reportedly rose from 284 ppm in pre-industrial 1832 to only 300 ppm by 1911; then remained below 320 ppm until rising precipitously from 1960 to today's level of over 380 ppm.  And yet -- there is nothing even remotely analogous in the temperature figures for those same periods.  To the contrary, 60% of post-industrial CO2 ascension has taken place since 1960 - that's 20 years after the last decade with warming patterns similar to the present one. Furthermore, notice that over half of the 15 hottest years took place before 1960 and those 15 are actually spread out over not one but rather seven decades. That's some trend, my friend.

So then, even if NASA's figures were rock-solid, they simply don't advance AGW arguments any more than they do those for, say, cycles of the sun.  We are, after all, in the midst of a period of elevated solar activity scientists refer to as the "modern maximum."

And yet, we're to accept that hyped projections fueled by deliberate misinterpretation of data are not threatened when such data lose a good portion of their "hottest years ever" propaganda value?

In the words of Reid A. Bryson, the father of modern scientific climatology, what "a bunch of hooey."

And the Misinterpreted Data are Tainted

But there's a deeper problem at play here.  Frankly, until GISS comes clean, who's buying any of their numbers anyway?

Truth be told -- even prior to Steve McIntyre's correction of Hansen's algorithms last week, the data from USHCN weather stations had been suspect.  Both faulty collection methods (e.g. environmental issues of absurdly located sensors) and the proprietary nature of the software which purportedly "fixed" these environmental irregularities had been openly challenged.

These "fudge factors," which remain unpublished, required McIntyre's reverse-engineering in order to surface their faults.  As the scientist blogger wrote in a must-read article at ace weather-station sleuth Anthony Watts' site (climateaudit was still recovering from what were likely eco-maniac DDOS attacks) on Saturday,
"... the adjustment methods are not techniques that can be looked up in statistical literature, where their properties and biases might be discerned. They are rather ad hoc and local techniques that may or may not be equal to the task of ‘fixing' the bad data."

But it was not only the disproved "adjustments" to corrupt input data, but also the shady manner by which GISS revised that information which warrant our concern. Realizing how the error reported by McIntyre impacted upon individual weather stations, they stealthily updated not only the local station data, but also the oft-cited US Temperature Data, particularly post-1999. With virtually no fanfare, estimates for 2000 through 2005 were lowered by about 0.15 deg C, and 2006 by 0.10 deg C - measures McIntyre suggests still fall short.

So what we have is a "scientific" data-base compiled and maintained by an institute conducted by a true AGW ideologue that uses undisclosed and flawed algorithms to offset admittedly spurious input data.  That same organization failed to alert data-base clients (or anyone else to my knowledge) that significant modifications were made to theory and policy-critical data.

Consequently, until such time that a satisfactory non-disclosure explanation is proffered and problem station data are resolved entirely at their source or, at the very least - interpretive source-code is published, how can GISS station data and their fruits be regarded as anything but suspect -- if not outright poisoned?

Put it together and what have you got?

Every soldier in this vital information war knows it's difficult enough to do daily battle against dramatically over-hyped propaganda with any optimism of triumph.  Enemy warriors wield swords forged from hyped projections, shocking news, cataclysmic films and disinforming TV programs.  Ours brave the battlefield armed only with a firm grasp of the facts and the wherewithal to draw cogent conclusions from them.

Now it appears our adversaries may have successfully infiltrated what are imperatively neutral data-bases, attempting to render our only weapons useless.

If the science were truly settled, then why would they so fear a fair fight?

Marc Sheppard is a technology consultant, software engineer, writer, and political and systems analyst. He is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.

Page Printed from:


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Dark Greens
« Reply #59 on: August 19, 2007, 06:42:20 AM »
Green to a fault

By Paul Danish
August 18, 2007

Who is responsible for global warming? The usual suspects include Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Cars and living large in America. But there is another, less likely suspect who is at least as culpable as the usual ones.

The greens. Anti-nuclear environmental activists.

Don't think so? Well, let's begin by reviewing what's been going on in France for the past 33 years and contrast it with what's been happening on our side of the pond.

In 1974 the French government decreed that henceforth new power plants built in France would be nuclear. Up until then France had generated most of its electricity from burning imported crude oil.

The decision to go nuclear was prompted by the OPEC cartel's price fixing and the post-Yom Kippur War Arab oil embargo, both of which occurred in 1973. By the end of 1973, the price of crude had passed the then unheard of level of $10 a barrel, a 400 percent increase. "That's enough," said the French, and proceeded to go nuclear - with elan, panache and Germanic efficiency.

As a result, today France gets 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants - and has the smallest per capita carbon footprint of any major industrial country.

Electric power production is the single largest source of human-generated greenhouse gases - and the fastest growing one. Thanks to having gone nuclear, when it comes to global warming, France is arguably part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Target: U.S. nuclear power

Meanwhile, about the time the French were going nuclear American environmental and peace activists were gleefully doing everything they could to destroy the American nuclear power industry.

They combined a sweeping ideological attack on the safety, economics and morality of nuclear power with a rolling thunder of legal and regulatory challenges and mass demonstrations and blockades at plant construction sites - like the 1976 demonstration at the Seabrook plant in New Hampshire.

The campaign succeeded in completely stopping new orders for reactors and in turning the process of building those already on order into a Kafkaesque nightmare. But it failed to shut down the nation's already operating nuclear plants or prevent the completion of some on order.

The upshot is that today the U.S. gets about 20 percent of its electricity from 104 functioning reactors - the last of which was ordered in 1973 - and about 50 percent of its electricity from coal. That's because when American utilities couldn't build new nuclear power plants, they built hundreds of coal-fired ones.

All of which raises an inconvenient question:

How much smaller would the U.S. carbon footprint be if in 1974, like the French, we had required all new power plants to be nuclear?

Well, according to the Energy Information Administration, in 1974 U.S. power plants burned 391 million tons of coal. In 2006 they burned 1.035 billion tons, an increase of about 643 million tons a year. Think of that 643 million tons of coal as the annual "peace bonus" in the greens' war on nuclear power. It would not have been mined or burned if the U.S. had gone nuclear in 1974.

Burning 643 million tons of coal a year produces roughly 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which will continue to be produced year-in, year-out decade after decade, even if - and this is important - no additional coal-fired power plants are built. (The working life of a coal-fired power plant is about 60 years.) Burning 643 million tons of coal a year will cause the CO2 content of the atmosphere to increase by 1 part per million every three to four years. When it comes to global warming, anti-nuclear activism is the gift that keeps on giving.

The question of waste

But what about nuclear waste?

The French partially recycle theirs, recovering new reactor fuel and reducing the mass of the waste produced by their nuclear program by 90 percent. American nuclear power plants don't recycle; the greens targeted that too.

Spent fuel from American nuclear power plants, about 60,000 tons of it so far, is stored in concrete buildings. There have been occasional releases of small amounts of it, and if it isn't ultimately recycled it will have to be stored for millennia, but the crucial point is that it is being stored.

The CO2 from U.S. coal-fired power plants is not. In the past 20 years alone, 50 billion tons of it (including 28 billion tons of the greens' "peace bonus" CO2) has been dumped into the atmosphere.

Viewed from this perspective, anti-nuclear activists have plenty of culpability for global warming.

Pardon my French, but J'açcuse!

Paul Danish is a resident of Boulder.


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #60 on: August 19, 2007, 06:52:38 AM »

Glad to see you hammering with the Sheppard piece-- this story is one that needs to be saved from being sent down the memory whole.

Concerning nuclear power:

1) I confess to being someone who is deeply uneasy about nuke power.  I remember the case of the Diablo Canyon reactor here in CA.  The idiots, excuse me the "experts" built it on an earthquake fault.  I gotta say that this strikes me as rather fcuking foolish and my gut reaction to litigation preventing it from being put on line is one of relief. 

2) The subject of waste: Are you saying that new plants will not produce ANY waste?  I'm not impressed yet with "the experts" plan for that mountain in Nevada.

3)  I wonder if Flight 93 was headed for the plant at Three Mile Island in PA on 911?



  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #61 on: August 19, 2007, 08:12:45 AM »
1) I confess to being someone who is deeply uneasy about nuke power.  I remember the case of the Diablo Canyon reactor here in CA.  The idiots, excuse me the "experts" built it on an earthquake fault.  I gotta say that this strikes me as rather fcuking foolish and my gut reaction to litigation preventing it from being put on line is one of relief. 

Not acquainted with Diablo Canyon, but building nuke plants on top of faults strikes me as pretty darn stupid. Certainly not something I'd argue for.

The subject of waste: Are you saying that new plants will not produce ANY waste?  I'm not impressed yet with "the experts" plan for that mountain in Nevada.

To my mind, the issue is one of benefits and costs. Coal and oil fired plants "store" their wastes in the atmosphere, which strikes me as a far less than optimum solution. Various schemes have been touted over the years for recycling and storing nuclear waste; suspect a solution better than pumping wastes into the atmosphere could be found.

Don't know about the third point, and the way our press hyperventilates over all things nuclear it would certainly be a psyops coup. As I recall, however, crashing an aircraft into a cooling tower is indeed considered into the design parameters of nuke plants. American ones are waaaaaaay over-engineered.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2007, 08:14:49 AM by buzwardo »


  • Guest
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #62 on: August 20, 2007, 04:47:58 PM »
France Plans for Waste Project with Little Support
NPR News 8/20/07

France is sometimes seen as a role model for combating climate change because 80 percent of its electricity comes from nuclear power. As a result, even the trains are largely carbon-free. Essentially, it is nuclear-powered transportation. But one of the biggest problems with nuclear power is that it produces nuclear waste. And even in France, finding a place to put nuclear waste has been a messy affair.

The town of Bure is in eastern France, but it's not found on many maps. Here, you find cheese-makers and farms. And it also has a mine shaft. The mine shaft goes one-third of a mile down into a thick deposit of ancient clay that dates back to the dinosaurs. It is in this clay that France plans to bury its nuclear waste.

"We have two shafts," says Eric Sutre, a geologist at the mine. "One for the rescue…"

Sutre says clay is a good place to put nuclear waste because it seals things off. Water moves through the clay slowly — only a few feet in a million years. The geological studies aren't finished yet, but the government is working hard to reassure residents that the project is being done properly. The place has a fancy visitors center with multimedia displays. Tourists come, but it's not like they're flocking to see the "Mona Lisa."

"Yes, it is not the Louvre, but for example, we have a special day each year when we open the site, and so last year we had 1,400 people coming here," Sutre says.

It is sometimes said that the French trust their engineers — that engineering is a point of national pride. But that doesn't mean people don't worry. When they come here, they ask questions like, 'What happens if there is an earthquake?'

"So we answer, 'There are very few earthquakes. And very little,'" Sutre says.

But here's the thing: No one really wants nuclear waste in their backyard. And in a democracy where everyone gets a say, people usually say no. How did France pick Bure? It's been a long painful process, as anyone who has participated can say. Ghislain de Marsily is a geologist at the University of Paris and a member of the French Academy of Science. De Marsily says that when the French government began evaluating sites in the early 1980s, it did so in secret. This didn't go over very well.

"The names of the sites was kept secret," de Marsily says. "Even the reports did not mention the names. Site A, site B, and nobody knew where. It was a little bit unpleasant."

The government tried to reassure the public and argued that a waste site was of national importance. But there were protests, and in one case, armed police had to be sent in to a riot. "Even the local farmers wanted to transform trucks into tanks to fight the police," de Marsily recalls. "It was really going to be a local revolution."

Location, Location, Location

In the 1990s, the government looked for volunteer sites. At one location, farmers marched visiting officials out of town with pitchforks. The Côtes du Rhône region was on the list, but local winemakers objected. Scientists rejected another site.

Finally, last year the government seemed to lose patience. It passed a law setting a tight deadline for readying a waste site. And even though the government had pledged to choose from several sites, only one place had a lab doing the necessary research. It could also be ready in time. This place: Bure.

"Yes," de Marsily says. "There is no alternative. It's Bure."

The U.S. has a similar history. It began investigating multiple sites, yet that became expensive. Congress chose Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Locals called the legislation the "screw Nevada bill," and opposition has brought the effort to a near halt.

Building Support

But from here, the French story takes a different path. In France, the local member of parliament, François Dosé, voted for the law that could send waste his way. Dosé works out of an old castle. The ceilings look to be more than 20 feet high. He is welcoming and says many of his constituents seem to have accepted the project.

"In general, the people are a little afraid of the projects because the locals live on the earth and they don't like the idea of things being buried in it," Dosé says. "But in the local election, there was never any politicians against a project that was elected."

That could be because there is a sense in France that once the central government makes up its mind, there's not a lot locals can do. Or it could have something to do with the money. They are getting a lot of it from the government. Dosé says the region has received 9 million euros — about $12 million — in the past decade. Some of that is spent on roads and schools.

"It's like Uncle Sam, so much money," Dosé says. "And in the coming 10 years it will be 20 million euros, and the villages are so small they don't even know how [they're] going to spend it. It's so much money!"

Dosé says he used to have doubts about the project, but he says independent scientists are now involved, which makes him feel better about the entire thing. So has France solved the unsolvable? Found a place to put nuclear waste for a million years? Maybe.

Bure Resists

There is an anti-nuclear movement in Bure. If you travel down the road a bit from the laboratory's visitors center you find another visitor center of sorts. A small stone farmhouse that is over 100 years old — and looks it — is the "house of resistance," set up by local activists.

Inside the farmhouse, a small dog named Rasta runs under the table. Isabelle Guillaume runs the place.

"The people are being told nonsense so they stay quiet, but the truth is that there is a great danger in burying nuclear waste, and there are scientists that have proved that," Guillaume says.

The opponents don't have fancy multimedia presentations, but they have a CD — of protest songs. Printed on it, in English, it says, "Stop Bure - Brothers & Sista." It's not reggae. And the truth is that all of France, even though it gets most of its electricity from nuclear power, is still somewhat uncomfortable with it. In a poll by the European Union, only one out of five residents said they were in favor of nuclear power. One in three opposed it.

Nuclear power may be one solution to the problem of global warming, but it doesn't have a huge fan base, even in France.


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #63 on: August 23, 2007, 06:53:42 AM »

Interesting piece on the French and nuke power, thanks for rounding things out.


I have a strong bias towards pricing mechanisms as a policy tool for pollution.  This piece from the WSJ addresses two possible variations.



MSN Money Homepage
MSN Money Investing
1. Banks Step Up to Fed's Window
2. Bank of America Invests in Countrywide
3. Lawyers Gear Up Grand New Fees
4. TD Ameritrade, E*Trade in Merger Talks
5. Credit Crunch Moves Beyond Mortgages

Also read these stories:
People who like this also like...
Blowing the Whistle on Sarbox
Shell Game
Guilt by Contact
We Have Met the Enemy, Again
Lower the Fed Funds Rate

  What's This?

 Personalized Home Page Setup
 Put headlines on your homepage about the companies, industries and topics that interest you most. 
A Carbon Tax Would Be Cleaner
August 23, 2007; Page A11

Though skeptics may still grumble that the science isn't settled, some 84% of Americans think humans are contributing to climate change, with 78% (and 60% of Republicans) saying we should do something about it "right away," according to a recent poll.

The political answer to all this anxiety has arrived. Prominent politicians -- including first-tier Democratic and Republican candidates -- are embracing a national "cap and trade" program to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Powerful corporate leaders are right behind them; and even the Bush administration, led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is reportedly considering the costs and benefits of various cap and trade proposals after years of opposition.

The mechanics of such regulation are complex, but one result is certain: It will exact a toll on our economy.

Cap and trade enjoys support from many free marketers and moderate politicians because it seems, at first glance, market-friendly. If the perceived problem is power plants and factories heating up the planet by spewing too much carbon dioxide and other such gases into the air, why not impose a cost on them for those emissions?

But before one accepts such reasoning and rejects alternatives, such as perhaps a carbon-emissions tax, it's important to look under the hood. Here's how a cap and trade system would likely work, assuming that the feds start with electricity generation and heavy industry, two energy-hungry sectors of the economy:

To avoid shock, the government sets a generous cap in the program's first year. It asks every factory and power plant how many tons of greenhouse gases it released into the atmosphere during the previous year, and then makes the cumulative total -- say four billion tons -- the initial cap. Each plant or factory can emit the same tonnage as in the previous year.

Since the government wants to cut these emissions by as much as half over the next half-century, however, the feds reduce the cap by, say, 5% overall to 3.8 billion tons in five years; and each company's cap will decline by the same proportion. After another five years, the government will cut the cap again, and so on. Because the companies know that the cap will keep tightening, the theory goes, they'll make their operations more energy-efficient.

But what if a factory can't reduce emissions? Maybe it was efficient already, and its orders are up. That's where the "trade" part of cap and trade comes in.

Suppose that a power plant elsewhere does have room to cut waste by replacing its 30-year-old generator with a cleaner model. Now that the plant can produce the same power with fewer emissions, it has extra greenhouse-gas permits and can -- under the new regime -- sell them to the humming factory, which needs to push past its own limit.

What happens if all the firms can't cut emissions enough to stay below the cap? That's where the system goes global. A Chinese factory coughs up 10 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, but an upgrade would cut emissions to eight million. The Chinese plant can sell those two million tons' worth of emissions "savings" to American firms for cash -- and use the money to pay for the upgrade.

Lawmakers have introduced nearly a half-dozen bills this year to create a version of the above scenario, including a bill sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Arlen Specter, and another bill sponsored by Sens. John McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Lieberman. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Rudy Giuliani have expressed interest.

Some of the nation's largest electricity generators support a national program, including American Electric power, North Carolina's Duke Energy, and Pacific Gas and Electric. They figure the faster they sign on, the more opportunities they'll have to shape it.

As in Europe's two-and-a-half-year-old cap and trade system, American power-company executives would like a generous initial cap and want to pass on to customers the cost of upgrading their equipment and of buying emissions allowances on the market. Financial firms also favor a national program, anticipating the opportunity to trade a new asset class worth $50 billion to $300 billion annually, depending on economists' estimates of the eventual price-per-ton of carbon. And companies ranging from start-ups to GE recognize the profit potential of emissions-credits projects in developing countries.

Executives and politicians certainly prefer a cap-and-trade program to a carbon tax: With a tax, power companies and industrial energy consumers fear that they would suddenly face a huge, non-negotiable cost to doing business. Under cap and trade, at least a plant operator unable to spend tens of millions to upgrade his plant might buy carbon credits from a company that can slash emission more readily.

As for the politicians, a cap-and-trade program is a no-brainer. Most people don't understand how it would work, or the costs it would impose on them or their standard of living. And it doesn't carry the same electoral risk as suggesting a new tax.

But the reality is that any program strict enough to cut emissions growth -- never mind slashing emissions! -- will raise power prices in America. In fact, hiking power prices is the point of cap and trade. Because burning coal -- the cheapest way to make power -- creates so much carbon, coal-fired power plants would have to pay far more than cleaner competitors to continue business as usual as the government tightened the cap.

The Energy Information Administration estimates cutting expected emissions growth by half by 2030 would mean a real price of electricity higher than it would otherwise be by 4%-6% in 2020 and by 11%-13% in 2030. Power companies would spend money both upgrading power plants and buying the emissions credits they'd need if they choose not to upgrade.

Carbon cap and trade has pushed wholesale power prices in Europe up 5%-10% just since 2005, says Phil Hare, director of U.K.-based Pöyry Energy Consulting. If Europe lowers its initially generous cap enough to encourage companies to switch permanently from coal to gas power plants, prices there could rise 20%-40% over a decade or so.

Power prices under cap and trade would depend on political decisions. The first is how generous the government would be with its total carbon cap. Another involves determining which emissions-reduction projects in the developing world investors could fund to get carbon credits.

Europe has allowed the United Nations to make some of those decisions. The U.N. carbon-credits program has already proven wildly inefficient.

In an article in February's Nature, Stanford University's Michael Wara noted that the U.N. initiative is spending billions in Western carbon-credits money to do work that should cost much less. Upgrading refrigerant plants, a popular way of winning carbon credits to sell in the European market, is so cheap and easy that many Third World firms were doing it voluntarily until the cap-and-trade West started paying them to do it. Now there's evidence that some firms may be purposely increasing emissions so they can win Western money to decrease them.

Back in the U.S., the Energy Information Administration assumes that power producers in the U.S. would respond to the new cost of carbon by switching from coal to cleaner technologies. It predicts that the nation's power generators would boost nuclear generation by 50% over the next 23 years -- five times the growth expected without a cap -- and increase natural gas-fired power generation 20% above the expected level.

This scenario, however, requires politicians to let American power companies build new nuclear plants and natural-gas import terminals to feed new natural gas plants. Both of these measures politicians, often heeding not- in-my-backyard concerns, regularly oppose on a bipartisan basis.

If America caps emissions and encourages power companies to build cleaner plants and natural-gas terminals, power prices will go up to pay for their construction. But if America caps emissions and caps new generation through political obstacles, prices will go way up.

What about switching to new-fangled "clean" coal instead? This is surely a possibility -- but the technology of "clean" coal is as yet unproven on a commercial scale and the costs are substantial. So are the potential political hurdles.

One promising technology, for example, involves sequestering CO2 emissions from coal plants. This could require power-plant operators to lay underground pipelines to depleted natural-gas fields where the CO2 could be stored -- triggering local opposition, property-rights disputes at now-dormant gas fields and investor worries about liability.

And then there is the collision between cap and trade and global competition. In the real world, small changes in certain prices can determine, say, whether a businessman keeps his manufacturing plant in upstate New York or places his orders instead with a factory in China.

At the end of the day, a strict cap-and-trade program would have the same effect as a carbon tax, one that's high enough, eventually, to encourage switching to cleaner generation, but that's gradually imposed over a decade so that companies have plenty of time to plan.

Such a tax would make emissions more expensive; discourage carbon-intensive power generation; and it would allow the market to decide which environmentally more-friendly technologies would be competitive enough to take its place. A tax per ton of carbon would mean higher power prices, too, but without direct subsidies to developing nations by paying for their power-plant upgrades.

Nor would a carbon tax create a new multibillion-dollar global commodity whose value would depend on political manipulation. The feds could use the revenues from such a levy to reduce other taxes -- including dividend and capital-gains taxes further to spur the massive private investment needed to build the next generation of power generators -- while ensuring that they're also creating a political and regulatory climate to encourage such mass-scale construction.

If it's true that a global warming consensus really exists -- and not just in press releases and speeches -- politicians and business leaders wouldn't be afraid to suggest such a tax. They would insist on it.

Ms. Gelinas is a contributing editor to City Journal, from whose Summer issue this piece was adapted


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Time to Get Serious about Global Warming
« Reply #64 on: August 28, 2007, 12:51:08 PM »
Global Warming: now it hits brothels
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Brothel owners in Bulgaria are blaming global warming for staff shortages.

They claim their best girls are working in ski resorts because a lack of snow has forced tourists to seek other pleasures.

Petra Nestorova, who runs an escort agency in Sofia, said: 'We have hired students, but they are temps and nothing like our elite girls.'


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #65 on: August 29, 2007, 09:25:05 AM »

MSN Money Homepage
MSN Money Investing
1. Big Source of Clinton's Cash Is Unlikely Address
2. To Pilot, Friendly Skies Are a Point of Pride
3. Stocks Fall on Financials, Fed
4. Fed Weighed Action Well Before Rate Cut
5. Small Is Big in Luxury Cars

Also read these stories:
People who like this also like...
Voucher Showdown
Sarko Steps Up
Bombs Away, For Good
Slim Pickings
Lessons of a Food Fight

  What's This?

 Personalized Home Page Setup
 Put headlines on your homepage about the companies, industries and topics that interest you most. 
Not So Hot
August 29, 2007; Page A14
The latest twist in the global warming saga is the revision in data at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, indicating that the warmest year on record for the U.S. was not 1998, but rather 1934 (by 0.02 of a degree Celsius).

Canadian and amateur climate researcher Stephen McIntyre discovered that NASA made a technical error in standardizing the weather air temperature data post-2000. These temperature mistakes were only for the U.S.; their net effect was to lower the average temperature reading from 2000-2006 by 0.15C.

The new data undermine another frightful talking point from environmentalists, which is that six of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 1990. Wrong. NASA now says six of the 10 warmest years were in the 1930s and 1940s, and that was before the bulk of industrial CO2 emissions were released into the atmosphere.

Those are the new facts. What's hard to know is how much, if any, significance to read into them. NASA officials say the revisions are insignificant and should not be "used by [global warming] critics to muddy the debate." NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt notes that, despite the revisions, the period 2002-2006 is still warmer for the U.S. than 1930-1934, and both periods are slightly cooler than 1998-2002.

Still, environmentalists have been making great hay by claiming that recent years, such as 1998, then 2006, were the "warmest" on record. It's also not clear that the 0.15 degree temperature revision is as trivial as NASA insists. Total U.S. warming since 1920 has been about 0.21 degrees Celsius. This means that a 0.15 error for recent years is more than two-thirds the observed temperature increase for the period of warming. NASA counters that most of the measured planetary warming in recent decades has occurred outside the U.S. and that the agency's recent error would have a tiny impact (1/1000th of a degree) on global warming.

If nothing else, the snafu calls into question how much faith to put in climate change models. In the 1990s, virtually all climate models predicted warming from 2000-2010, but the new data confirm that so far there has been no warming trend in this decade for the U.S. Whoops. These simulation models are the basis for many of the forecasts of catastrophic warming by the end of the century that Al Gore and the media repeat time and again. We may soon be basing multi-trillion dollar policy decisions on computer models whose accuracy we already know to be less than stellar.

What's more disturbing is what this incident tells us about the scientific double standard in the global warming debate. If this kind of error were made by climatologists who dare to challenge climate-change orthodoxy, the media and environmentalists would accuse them of manipulating data to distort scientific truth. NASA's blunder only became a news story after Internet bloggers played whistleblower by circulating the new data across the Web.

So far this year NASA has issued at least five press releases that could be described as alarming on the pace of climate change. But the correction of its overestimate of global warming was merely posted on the agency's Web site. James Hansen, NASA's ubiquitous climate scientist and a man who has charged that the Bush Administration is censoring him on global warming, has been unapologetic about NASA's screw up. He claims that global warming skeptics -- "court jesters," he calls them -- are exploiting this incident to "confuse the public about the status of knowledge of global climate change, thus delaying effective action to mitigate climate change."

So let's get this straight: Mr. Hansen's agency makes a mistake in a way that exaggerates the extent of warming, and this is all part of a conspiracy by "skeptics"? It's a wonder there aren't more of them.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 10690
    • View Profile
*No* consensus that man is responsible for global warming
« Reply #66 on: August 31, 2007, 05:43:13 AM »
A survey of recent scientific articles from 2004 to 2007 show that there is no clear consensus that man is causing global warming:


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Sh*t Shoveling Eco-Enslavement
« Reply #67 on: September 06, 2007, 09:26:39 AM »
Monday 3 September 2007
Is carbon-offsetting just eco-enslavement?
In offsetting his flights by sponsoring ‘eco-friendly’ hard labour in India, David Cameron has exposed the essence of environmentalism.
Brendan O’Neill

If you thought that the era of British bigwigs keeping Indians as personal servants came to an end with the fall of the Raj in 1947, then you must have had a rude awakening last week.

In a feature about carbon offsetting in The Times (London), it was revealed that the leader of the UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, offsets his carbon emissions by effectively keeping brown people in a state of bondage. Whenever he takes a flight to some foreign destination, Cameron donates to a carbon-offsetting company that encourages people in the developing world to ditch modern methods of farming in favour of using their more eco-friendly manpower to plough the land. So Cameron can fly around the world with a guilt-free conscience on the basis that, thousands of miles away, Indian villagers, bent over double, are working by hand rather than using machines that emit carbon.

Welcome to the era of eco-enslavement.

The details of this carbon-offsetting scheme are disturbing. Cameron offsets his flights by donating to Climate Care. The latest wheeze of this carbon-offsetting company is to provide ‘treadle pumps’ to poor rural families in India so that they can get water on to their land without having to use polluting diesel power. Made from bamboo, plastic and steel, the treadle pumps work like ‘step machines in a gym’, according to some reports, where poor family members step on the pedals for hours in order to draw up groundwater which is used to irrigate farmland (1). These pumps were abolished in British prisons a century ago. It seems that what was considered an unacceptable form of punishment for British criminals in the past is looked upon as a positive eco-alternative to machinery for Indian peasants today.

What might once have been referred to as ‘back-breaking labour’ is now spun as ‘human energy’. According to Climate Care, the use of labour-intensive treadle pumps, rather than labour-saving diesel-powered pumps, saves 0.65 tonnes of carbon a year per farming family. And well-off Westerners - including Cameron, and Prince Charles, Land Rover and the Cooperative Bank, who are also clients of Climate Care - can purchase this saved carbon in order to continue living the high life without becoming consumed by eco-guilt. They effectively salve their moral consciences by paying poor people to live the harsh simple life on their behalf.

Climate Care celebrates the fact that it encourages the Indian poor to use their own bodies rather than machines to irrigate the land. Its website declares: ‘Sometimes the best source of renewable energy is the human body itself. With some lateral thinking, and some simple materials, energy solutions can often be found which replace fossil fuels with muscle-power.’ (2) To show that muscle power is preferable to machine power, the Climate Care website features a cartoon illustration of smiling naked villagers pedalling on a treadle pump next to a small house that has an energy-efficient light bulb and a stove made from ‘local materials at minimal cost’. Climate Care points out that even children can use treadle pumps: ‘One person - man, woman or even child - can operate the pump by manipulating his/her body weight on two treadles and by holding a bamboo or wooden frame for support.’ (3)

Feeling guilty about your two-week break in Barbados, when you flew thousands of miles and lived it up with cocktails on sunlit beaches? Well, offset that guilt by sponsoring eco-friendly child labour in the developing world! Let an eight-year-old peasant pedal away your eco-remorse…

Climate Care has other carbon-offsetting schemes. One involves encouraging poor people who live near the Ranthambhore National Park, a tiger reserve in Rajasthan, India, to stop using firewood for their stoves, and instead to collect cowpats and water and put them into something called a ‘biogas digester’, which creates a renewable form of fuel that can be used for cooking and the provision of heat. One of the aims of this scheme is to protect the trees of the national park, as tigers are reliant on the trees. It seems that in the carbon-offsetting world, beast comes before man.

In these various scandalous schemes, we can glimpse the iron fist that lurks within environmentalism’s green velvet glove. ‘Cutting back carbon emissions’ is the goal to which virtually every Western politician, celebrity and youthful activist has committed himself. Yet for the poorest people around the world, ‘reducing carbon output’ means saying no to machinery and instead getting your family to do hard physical labour, or it involves collecting cow dung and burning it in an eco-stove in order to keep yourself warm. It is not only Climate Care that pushes through such patronising initiatives. Other carbon-offsetting companies have encouraged Kenyans to use dung-powered generators and Indians to replace kerosene lamps with solar-powered lamps, while carbon-offsetting tree-planting projects in Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda have reportedly disrupted local communities’ water supplies, led to the eviction of thousands of villagers from their land, and cheated local people of their promised income for the upkeep of these Western conscience-salving trees (4).

The criticism of these carbon-offsetting schemes has been limited indeed. Since The Times revealed the treadle pump story last week, many have criticised carbon offsetting on the rather blinkered basis that it doesn’t do enough to rein in mankind’s overall emissions of carbon. Some talk about ‘carbon offsetting cowboys’, as if carbon offsetting itself is fine and it’s only those carbon-offsetting companies who go too far in their exploitation of people in the developing world who are a problem. In truth, it is the relationships that are codified by the whole idea of carbon offsetting - whereby the needs and desires of people in the developing world are subordinated to the narcissistic eco-worries of rich Westerners - that are the real, grotesque problem here.

More radical eco-activists argue that carbon offsetting is a distraction from the need for us simply to stop flying and producing and consuming. They claim that carbon-offsetting gives people in Western societies the false impression that it’s okay to emit carbon so long as you pay someone else to clean it up for you. They would rather that we all lived like those treadle-pumping, shit-burning peasants. A group of young deep greens protested at the Oxford offices of Climate Care dressed as red herrings (on the basis that carbon offsetting is a ‘red herring’), arguing that: ‘Climate Care is misleading the public, making them believe that offsetting does some good.’ (5) The protest provided a striking snapshot of the warped, misanthropic priorities of green youthful activism today: instead of criticising Climate Care, and others, for encouraging poor Indians to stop using machinery and to burn cow dung, the protesters slated it for giving a green light to Westerners to continue living comfortable lives.

Carbon offsetting is not some cowboy activity, or an aberration, or a distraction from ‘true environmentalist goals’ - rather it expresses the very essence of environmentalism. In its project of transforming vast swathes of the developing world into guilt-massaging zones for comfortable Westerners, where trees are planted or farmers’ work is made tougher and more time-consuming in order to offset the activities of Americans and Europeans, carbon offsetting perfectly captures both the narcissistic and anti-development underpinnings of the politics of environmentalism. Where traditional imperialism conquered poor nations in order to exploit their labour and resources, today’s global environmentalist consensus is increasingly using the Third World as a place in which to work out the West’s moral hang-ups.

The rise of the carbon-offsetting industry shows that a key driving force behind environmentalism is self-indulgent Western guilt. It is Western consumers’ own discomfort with their sometimes lavish lifestyles - with all those holidays, big homes, fast cars and cheap nutritious foods - that nurtures today’s green outlook, in which consumption has come to be seen as destructive and a new morality of eco-ethics and offsetting (formerly known as penance) has emerged to deal with it (6). It is no accident that the wealthiest people are frequently the most eco-conscious. British environmental campaign groups and publications are peppered with the sons and daughters of the aristocracy, while in America ridiculously super-rich celebrities (Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt) lead the charge for more eco-aware forms of consumption and play. The very nature of carbon offsetting - where the emphasis is on paying money to offset one’s own lifestyle, in much the same way that wealthy people in the Middle Ages would pay for ‘Indulgences’ that forgave them their sins - highlights the individuated and self-regarding streak in the Politics of Being Green.

Carbon-offsetting also shines a light on the dangerously anti-development sentiment in environmentalism. As the British journalist Ross Clark has argued, the success of carbon-offsetting relies on the continuing failure of Third World communities to develop. Clark writes: ‘Carbon-offset schemes…only work if the recipients [in the Third World] continue to live in very basic conditions. Once they aspire to Western, fossil fuel-powered lifestyles, then the scheme is undone.’ Delegates to the G8 meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005 offset the carbon cost of their flights by donating to a charity that replaced the tin roofs of huts in a shantytown in Cape Town with a more insulating material, thus reducing the level of heat that escapes and protecting the environment. It sounds good, but as Clark points out: ‘The carbon emitted by delegates’ flights will only continue to be offset for as long as the occupants of the huts carry on living in shantytown conditions.’ If they were to improve their lives, and replace their insulated shacks with ‘much more power-hungry bungalows’, then the carbon-offsetting scheme will have failed, says Clark. The shantytown-dwellers will have reneged on their side of the bargain, which is to remain poor and humble so that wealthy Western leaders can fly around the world in peace of mind (7).

Again, this is not ‘cowboyism’ - it is mainstream environmentalism in action. From the increasingly hysterical attacks on China for daring to develop, to the emphasis on ‘fair trade’ and ‘sustainable development’ in the work of the myriad NGOs that are swarming around the Third World, the green message is this: poor people simply cannot have what we in the West have, because if they did the planet would burn. The treadle-pump scandal revealed in The Times only shows in a more direct form the way in which today’s environmentalist agenda forces the poor of the developing world to adapt to poverty, accommodate to hardship, and effectively remain enslaved for the benefit of morally-tortured Westerners.

It is time to end this eco-enslavement, and put forward arguments for progress and equality across the globe. I would never pick up shit and use it to warm my home, or spend hours on a treadmill in order to raise water. Would you? Then why should we expect anyone else to do such things, especially in the name of making some rich snots feel better about themselves?

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. Visit his website here.

(1) To cancel out the CO2 of a return flight to India, it will take one poor villager three years of pumping water by foot. So is carbon offsetting the best way to ease your conscience?, The Times (London), 28 August 2007

(2) See the Climate Care website here

(3) See the Climate Care website here

(4) The inconvenient truth about the carbon offset industry, Guardian, 16 June 2007

(5) To cancel out the CO2 of a return flight to India, it will take one poor villager three years of pumping water by foot. So is carbon offsetting the best way to ease your conscience?, The Times (London), 28 August 2007

(6) See Live Earth: a global pulpit of pop sanctimony, by Rob Lyons

(7) The great global warming swindle, Spectator, 11 August 2007

reprinted from:


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #68 on: September 06, 2007, 10:25:59 PM »

As I understand it, in the free market we assume people to be the judges of what is best for them in their lives.  If they freely enter into a voluntary exchange it is because it is because they believe it is the best option.

Furthermore, as a general principle I think it generally sound to bring market pricing mechanisms to bear on determining who/what gets to make the pollution.

In its loathing for liberals, this article seems to forget these two fundamental points.



  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #69 on: September 07, 2007, 06:45:04 AM »
APEC and Climate Change

APEC's power to set global public policy is most clearly evident in its role in the climate change negotiations. APEC climate talks, which have been going on for more than a year, are designed more to make a statement than to develop a specific policy -- though the statement APEC makes in the coming 12 months will dictate the future of global climate negotiations.

APEC's importance has grown because a new international climate treaty, to replace the Kyoto Protocol, is inevitable. In the United States, the political winds have changed and the next presidential administration will oversee a national climate policy. For the United States to meet whatever climate policy emerges, it will need to take part in an international regime -- one that offers a robust emissions-trading mechanism. For a number of reasons, the United States has not joined the existing Kyoto-based system. Instead, it envisions a Pacific-focused international climate regime, one that uses the APEC countries as its base.

The Sydney APEC summit will offer the first glimpse of U.S. President George W. Bush's proposed climate regime. It will likely include binding emissions-reduction targets for every signatory. The emissions reductions likely will be framed in terms of emissions per unit of GDP, with the objective being to promote economic growth that is less carbon-intensive than it otherwise would be. It also is likely to call for a continuation of the emissions trading system and Clean Development Mechanism developed under Kyoto. By defining the emissions cap in terms of growth and by keeping a clean development mechanism, the agreement would address the complaint by developing countries that climate change policies are a way for industrial giants to force poor countries to pay equally for damage done primarily by industrialized countries.

The APEC agreement on climate change is a severe challenge to the Kyoto Protocol and to the European Union, which favors Kyoto and envisions a new follow-on agreement that serves European needs specifically. However, other than Indonesia and occasionally Japan, APEC countries are not especially fond of the Kyoto Protocol, so the perpetuation of Kyoto is not a particularly popular idea. Furthermore, in the wake of Russian threats to shut off oil and natural gas to EU countries, the union needs to spur development of alternative energy paths far more than it needs the perfect climate pact. In the final analysis, the European Union is being forced by geopolitics to cut emissions, and it does not want to lose its competitiveness to countries whose emissions are not bound by international agreements. Therefore, it can least afford for there not to be a deal -- but the other countries necessary to make the system work do not approve of what the union is selling.

In the eyes of environmentalists, the only reason a Pacific-based climate system can effectively counter Kyoto is that the Pacific Rim is the center of global greenhouse gas emissions, so if avoiding disastrous climate change requires reducing carbon emissions, the APEC nations must be involved. More than two-thirds of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from APEC nations. The world's leading carbon emitter, China, has an economy that (reportedly) is growing at 10 percent per year. The second leading emitter, the United States, has slower growth, but it has grown far more quickly since Kyoto was signed than has Europe, Japan or most other major greenhouse gas-emitting nations.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #70 on: September 07, 2007, 07:36:05 AM »
As I understand it, in the free market we assume people to be the judges of what is best for them in their lives.  If they freely enter into a voluntary exchange it is because it is because they believe it is the best option.

Furthermore, as a general principle I think it generally sound to bring market pricing mechanisms to bear on determining who/what gets to make the pollution.

In its loathing for liberals, this article seems to forget these two fundamental points.

I understand the points, but think they neglect a couple factors. "Pollutants" like carbon dioxide are being offset. I'm not willing to cede that CO2 is a pollutant, and if it is, it's only a pollutant at certain concentrations and I've not seen a compelling argument defining what that concentration is while the geologic record demonstrates it's been all over the map. What free market model achieves efficiencies based on false premises and junk science?

Second, are these third world folk freely entering into the exchange? The enviro-hucksters swooping in making an offer they can't refuse could instead offer diesel generators, mechanical sh*t shovelers, efficient pumps, and so on. Instead, again based on a skewed "understanding" of the issues, they present a single offer the indigenous aren't in a position to walk away from.

These conscious-purging carpetbaggers, moreover, are selling a solution with the same shelf life as the medieval indulgences the Catholic church use to peddle. What happens to their little corner of the free market when that bottom falls out? And then let's stipulate that these schemes do succeed, and that the folks foisting 'em don't manage to carbon neutral the planet back into a third world existence; how are the sh*t shovelers descendants going to feel about having useless technologies and dubious ends foisted on their forbearers?

Bottom line is that I don't see an enduring commencialism emerging from schemes based on false premises and embrace of inefficient technologies and hence have a hard time imagining them providing any long term benefit for anyone. If it ain't adding real value over the long term, then it ain't a market based solution.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Hansen Releases his Source Code
« Reply #71 on: September 08, 2007, 04:01:48 PM »
It's not science is the results can't be replicated, and things can't be replicated unless the methodology is available, which makes Hansen's grudging release of the algorythms he uses to derive his sky-is-falling conclusions all the more astounding. Anyone like to make a little wager on whether his methods survive peer review?

Hansen Frees the Code
By Steve McIntyre
Hansen has just released what is said to be the source code for their temperature analysis. The release was announced in a shall-we-say ungracious email to his email distribution list and a link is now present at the NASA webpage.

Hansen says resentfully that they would have liked a “week or two” to make a “simplified version” of the program and that it is this version that “people interested in science” will want, as opposed to the version that actually generated their results.

Reto Ruedy has organized into a single document, as well as practical on a short time scale, the programs that produce our global temperature analysis from publicly available data streams of temperature measurements. These are a combination of subroutines written over the past few decades by Sergej Lebedeff, Jay Glascoe, and Reto. Because the programs include a variety of
languages and computer unique functions, Reto would have preferred to have a week or two to combine these into a simpler more transparent structure, but because of a recent flood of demands for the programs, they are being made available as is. People interested in science may want to wait a week or two for a simplified version.

In recent posts, I’ve observed that long rural stations in South America and Africa do not show the pronounced ROW trend (Where’s Waldo?) that is distinct from the U.S. temperature history as well as the total lack of long records from Antarctica covering the 1930s. Without mentioning or myself by name, Hansen addresses the “lack of quality data from South America and Africa, a legitimate concern”, concluding this lack does not “matter” to the results.

Another favorite target of those who would raise doubt about the reality of global warming is the lack of quality data from South America and Africa, a legitimate concern. You will note in our maps of temperature change some blotches in South America and Africa, which are probably due to bad data. Our procedure does not throw out data because it looks unrealistic, as that would be subjective. But what is the global significance of these regions of exceptionally poor data? As shown by Figure 1, omission of South America and Africa has only a tiny effect on the global temperature change. Indeed, the difference that omitting these areas makes is to increase the global temperature change by (an entirely insignificant) 0.01C.

So United States shows no material change since the 1930s, but this doesn’t matter, South America doesn’t matter, Africa doesn’t matter and Antarctica has no records relevant to the 1930s. Europe and northern Asia would seem to be plausible candidates for locating Waldo. (BTW we are also told that the Medieval Warm Period was a regional phenomenon confined to Europe and northern Asia - go figure.]

On two separate occasions, Hansen, who two weeks ago contrasted royalty with “court jesters” saying that one does not “joust with jesters”, raised the possibility that the outside community is “wondering” why (using the royal “we”) he (a) “bothers to put up with this hassle and the nasty e-mails that it brings” or (b) “subject ourselves to the shenanigans”.

Actually, it wasn’t something that I, for one, was wondering about it all. In my opinion, questions about how he did his calculations are entirely appropriate and he had an obligation to answer the questions - an obligation that would have continued even if had flounced off at the mere indignity of having to answer a mildly probing question. Look, ordinary people get asked questions all the time and most of them don’t have the luxury of “not bothering with the hassle” or “not subjecting themselves to the shenanigans”. They just answer the questions the best they can and don’t complain. So should Hansen.

Hansen provides some interesting historical context to his studies, observing that his analysis was the first analysis to include Southern Hemisphere results, which supposedly showed that, contrary to the situation in the Northern Hemisphere, there wasn’t cooling from the 1940s to the 1970s:

The basic GISS temperature analysis scheme was defined in the late 1970s by Jim Hansen when a method of estimating global temperature change was needed for comparison with one-dimensional global climate models. Prior temperature analyses, most notably those of Murray Mitchell, covered only 20-90N latitudes. Our rationale was that the number of Southern Hemisphere stations was sufficient for a meaningful estimate of global temperature change, because temperature anomalies and trends are highly correlated over substantial geographical distances. Our first published results (Hansen et al., Climate impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, Science 213, 957, 1981) showed that, contrary to impressions from northern latitudes, global cooling after 1940 was small, and there was net global warming of about 0.4C between the 1880s and 1970s.

Earlier in the short essay, Hansen said that “omission of South America and Africa has only a tiny effect on the global temperature change”. However, they would surely have an impact on land temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere? And, as the above paragraph shows, the calculation of SH land temperatures and their integration into global temperatures seems to have been a central theme in Hansen’s own opus. If Hansen says that South America and Africa don’t matter to “global” and thus presumably to Southern Hemisphere temperature change, then it makes one wonder all the more: what does matter?

Personally, as I’ve said on many occasions, I have little doubt that the late 20th century was warmer than the 19th century. At present, I’m intrigued by the question as to how we know that it’s warmer now than in the 1930s. It seems plausible to me that it is. But how do we know that it is? And why should any scientist think that answering such a question is a “hassle”?

In my first post on the matter, I suggested that Hansen’s most appropriate response was to make his code available promptly and cordially. Since a somewhat embarrassing error had already been identified, I thought that it would be difficult for NASA to completely stonewall the matter regardless of Hansen’s own wishes in the matter. (I hadn’t started an FOI but was going to do so.)

Had Hansen done so, if he wished, he could then have included an expression of confidence that the rest of the code did not include material defects. Now he’s had to disclose the code anyway and has done so in a rather graceless way.


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #72 on: September 23, 2007, 03:59:32 AM »
Rapeseed biofuel produces more greenhouse gas than oil or petrol?
Lewis Smith, Environment Reporter
A renewable energy source designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is contributing more to global warming than fossil fuels, a study suggests.

Measurements of emissions from the burning of biofuels derived from rapeseed and maize have been found to produce more greenhouse gas emissions than they save.

Other biofuels, especially those likely to see greater use over the next decade, performed better than fossil fuels but the study raises serious questions about some of the most commonly produced varieties.

Rapeseed and maize biodiesels were calculated to produce up to 70 per cent and 50 per cent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels. The concerns were raised over the levels of emissions of nitrous oxide, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Scientists found that the use of biofuels released twice as much as nitrous oxide as previously realised. The research team found that 3 to 5 per cent of the nitrogen in fertiliser was converted and emitted. In contrast, the figure used by the International Panel on Climate Change, which assesses the extent and impact of man-made global warming, was 2 per cent. The findings illustrated the importance, the researchers said, of ensuring that measures designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are assessed thoroughly before being hailed as a solution.

"One wants rational decisions rather than simply jumping on the bandwagon because superficially something appears to reduce emissions," said Keith Smith, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and one of the researchers.

Maize for ethanol is the prime crop for biofuel in the US where production for the industry has recently overtaken the use of the plant as a food. In Europe the main crop is rapeseed, which accounts for 80 per cent of biofuel production.

Professor Smith told Chemistry World: "The significance of it is that the supposed benefits of biofuels are even more disputable than had been thought hitherto."

It was accepted by the scientists that other factors, such as the use of fossil fuels to produce fertiliser, have yet to be fully analysed for their impact on overall figures. But they concluded that the biofuels "can contribute as much or more to global warming by N2 O emissions than cooling by fossil-fuel savings".

The research is published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, where it has been placed for open review. The research team was formed of scientists from Britain, the US and Germany, and included Professor Paul Crutzen, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on ozone.

Dr Franz Conen, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, described the study as an "astounding insight".

"It is to be hoped that those taking decisions on subsidies and regulations will in future take N2O emissions into account and promote some forms of biofuel production while quickly abandoning others," he told the journal?s discussion board.

Dr Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, used the findings to calculate that with the US Senate aiming to increase maize ethanol production sevenfold by 2022, greenhouse gas emissions from transport will rise by 6 per cent.


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #73 on: October 01, 2007, 02:37:58 PM »
"As over 150 heads of state and government gather at UN headquarters in New York to
discuss climate change, former Vice President Al Gore, the most prominent proponent
of the theory of the human-induced, catastrophic global warming, continues to refuse
repeated challenges to debate the issue. Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who addressed
the General Assembly on climate change September 24, is but the latest global
warming skeptic to receive the cold shoulder from Gore. In ads appearing in the Wall
Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Times, Klaus has called on Gore to
face him in a one-on-one debate on the proposition: 'Global Warming Is Not a
Crisis.' Earlier in the year, similar challenges to Gore were issued by Dennis
Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues and senior fellow at the Hudson
Institute, and Lord Monckton of Brenchley, a former adviser to British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher. All calls on the former vice president to face his
critics have fallen on deaf ears" -- Bonner Cohen, writing at


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Climate Audit Rocks!
« Reply #74 on: October 13, 2007, 07:58:18 AM »
As someone who works with a band of sometimes guerrilla, often self-taught cave scientists, Steve McIntyre and his Climate Audit project strikes many notes that resonate with me. Funded by PayPal contributions and doubtless tangetial associations with Big Oil we'll hear about soon, Steve goes out and conducts straighforward experiments meant to audit the findings of the far better funded climate apocalypse crowd. His finding are often eye-opening and always amusing.

In this instance Steve goes out and resamples tree core samples that, gosh darn it, were too expensive and to hard too get to for the folks getting the big grants these days. Despite the tree's distance from Starbucks, Steve somehow managed to obtain samples anyway. It will be interesting to track his findings.

A Little Secret

By Steve McIntyre

Don’t you think that someone on the Team might have been a little curious as to what bristlecone ring widths have done during the past 25 years? For this, we have the classic excuse of Michael Mann and the Team for not updating bristlecone and proxy records is that it’s not practical within the limited climate budgets:

While paleoclimatologists are attempting to update many important proxy records to the present, this is a costly, and labor-intensive activity, often requiring expensive field campaigns that involve traveling with heavy equipment to difficult-to-reach locations (such as high-elevation or remote polar sites). For historical reasons, many of the important records were obtained in the 1970s and 1980s and have yet to be updated.

From the first moment that I got involved with paleoclimate, it seemed obvious to me (as it is to anyone not on the Team) that, if the classic “proxies” are any good and not merely opportunistic correlations, that there is an ideal opportunity to perform out-of-sample testing of the canonical Team reconstructions by bringing the proxies up-to-date. I wrote an Op Ed in February 2005 for the National Post entitled “Bring the Proxies Up to Date”, where I expressed the view that this was really the first order of business in Team world. While the addition of new proxies is also important and nice, this is not the same thing as out-of-sample testing of the proxies used in MBH99, Crowley and Lowery etc - especially the bristlecones.

I’ve continued to satirize this failure pointing out that several of Graybill’s classic bristlecone sites were easily accessible from UCAR world headquarters in Boulder and that no heroic expedition was required to update, for example, the Graybill sites to the west of Colorado Springs.

To get to these sites from UCAR headquarters in Boulder, a scientist would not merely have to go 15 miles SW of Colorado Springs and go at least several miles along a road where they would have to be on guard for hikers and beware of scenic views, they would, in addition, have to go all the way from Boulder to Colorado Springs. While lattes would doubtless be available to UCAR scientists in Colorado Springs, special arrangements would be required for latte service at Frosty Park, though perhaps a local outfitting company would be equal to the challenge. Clearly updating these proxies is only for the brave of heart and would require a massive expansion of present paleoclimate budgets. No wonder paleoclimate scientists have been unable to update these records since Graybill’s heroic expedition in 1983.

Pete Holzman (Mr Pete), who lives in Colorado Springs, agreed with this satire and this led to what I’ll call the Starbucks Hypothesis: could a climate scientist have a Starbucks in the morning, collect tree rings through the day and still be home for dinner?

To make a long story short, last summer, when my wife and I visited my sister in Colorado Springs and I thought that it would be rather fun to test the Starbucks Hypothesis and I gave a bit of a teaser report in late July, promising some further reports in a few weeks, but I got distracted by the Hansen stuff. At the time, I mentioned that, together with CA reader Pete Holzmann and his wife Leslie, we visited some bristlecones in the Mt Almagre area west of Colorado Springs.

But I have a little secret which I’ll share with you as long as you promise not to tell anyone: our objective was to locate the precise site sampled by Graybill. Not just that. Prior to the trip, I obtained a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to take dendrochronological samples from bristlecones on Mount Almagre and we did more than look at pretty views; we obtained up-to-date bristlecone samples. I only went up Almagre on the first day. Our permit lasted a month and Pete and Leslie spent two more days on Almagre, finally locating and sampling tagged Graybill trees on the third day.

Altogether (and primarily through the efforts of Pete and Leslie), our project collected 64 cores from 45 different trees at 5 different locations on Mount Almagre. 17 Graybill trees were identified, of which 9 were re-sampled. All the cores are currently at a dendrochronological laboratory, where sample preparation and scanning steps have been completed. Cross-dating is now taking place. For the most part, we tried to sample non-stripbark trees in keeping with NRC recommendations, but some stripbarks were sampled to reconcile with Graybill. Of the tagged Graybill trees, assuming that the identifications match correspond to the ones at WDCP, only 6 of the 17 tagged Graybill trees were included in the measurement data archive; and only 2 of the 9 re-sampled trees have matching IDs. Why is this? I have no idea.

We will archive at WDCP detailed information on the location of all samples (current spreadsheet is here) , which has already been sent to the U.S. Forest Service. Photographs of each tree are shown gallery here. Here’s a fun presentation that Pete prepared of our Day 1 itinerary. Here is a Google Earth tour. If you run it and when Google Earth comes up, go to Tools — Play Tour , you’ll have some fun.

Some expenses have been incurred for this expedition. Leaving aside travel expenses (which were vacation expenses that I was going to incur anyway), the jeep got a bad scratch on the first day and cost about $500 to repair; it’s going to cost a few thousand at the dendrochronology laboratory for the sample prep, scanning and cross-dating as this has been done on a contract basis. I’ve submitted an abstract to Rob Wilson’s divergence session at AGU and would like to present these results (and to cover Pete’s expenses if he can come). This has been a Climate Audit project so I’d like readers who contribute to the top jar to think about a special contribution for the bristlecone sampling. Maybe Martin Juckes, James Hansen and Michael Mann will contribute as well - I’m sure that they are all anxious for the results.

I’ll add some more information later in the day. Right now I’m off to visit the dendro lab and see how things are coming along. In 2002, Malcolm Hughes sampled bristlecones at Sheep Mountain and nothing has been reported or archived from this study. In 2003, Lonnie Thompson sampled ice cores at Bona-Churchill and we’ve heard nothing about it. One might guess that 20th century dO18 levels were not high as, at the nearby site of Mount Logan, 20th century dO18 levels were lower than earlier levels, attributed to regional changes in circulation rather than temperature.

I’ve obviously been very critical of what appears to be opportunistic reporting of results. With my experience in mining speculations, I fully understand how much temptation that there is to delay reporting of “bad” results in the hope that later drill holes in the program will salvage things. But you don’t have any choice in the matter - you’re obliged to report the results. Plus investors are smart enough to now that delayed results are virtually never good results.

Right now I have no idea what the sampling will show - maybe it will show a tremendous response by the bristlecones in the past 20 years - perhaps due to CO2, nitrate or phosphate fertilization, perhaps due to temperature increases. Maybe they won’t go up and we’ll hear more about the divergence problem. I don’t expect these particular measurements to settle anything. But jeez, doncha think that someone would have tried to find out?

Anyway I promise one thing: the measurements are going to be made public as soon as I get them. Just like a mining project. No waiting for 5 or 10 or 25 years like certain people. No losing the data like other people. Whatever they show. As soon as I get the cross-dated measurement data, we will immediately send it to the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology (which I expect to take place within a few weeks.) I hope that this will set an example to the trade as to the type of turn-time which is practical.

I’m visiting the dendro lab today to say hello and I wanted this to be on the record before my visit. I’m not sure how far along they are, but I think that they’ve finished sample prep and scanning and have started cross-dating. I don’t expect any results, but they may be far along enough so that I’ll have an impression of what the result growth will have been. So I wanted to be on the record on the planned schedule prior to my knowing anything about the results, just in case I get an impression today of what the recent growth has been.

UPDATE 2 pm. OK, I’m back from the dendro lab in Guelph. They are further along than I expected. The longest core is 883 years (Tree 30A). This had a Graybill tag 84-55, but if you go to the archived measurement data
and look for ALM55 (which would presumably be the match), there are no corresponding measurements; there is obviously a sequence ALM01, ….; there is an ALM53 and an ALM60. Is there an alter ego somewhere or is it missing? Right now we don’t know.

After sanding the core is scanned. The measurement of ring widths is semi-automatic. For these bristlecones, earlywood and latewood was easy to distinguish. Using a magnified version of the scan, each ring is picked out (with the computer recording the pick). The computer then yields back the measurements. I’ve posted up a couple of print-screens showing the most recent widths for 30A and the widths in the mid-19th century.

Below is a print screen showing the 30A ring widths from 1124 to 2007. I’ll post up a re-plot at some point with a legible x-axis. For orientation in the absence of a scale, the upspike on the left is 1174; there are low values from 1353 through the early 1400s; there is a 1690 spike; 1865 and 1880 are upspikes; 1941 is a small upspike.

According to the Team hypothesis of a positive linear relationship between temperature and ring widths, the warm 1990s and 2000s should have yielded the widest ring widths in history. What do you think? This is only one tree, but my quick impression was that recent growth was not elevated. So this looks like a Divergence “Problem”. If CO2 or other fertilization has been a factor, then I hate to think what the growth would have been without the fertilization. Remember the NAS panel saying that the Divergence Problem only affected high-latitude sites? Maybe they should have done some testing before they opined on this.

BTW while I’m critical of how the Team uses dendro information, I think that it is well worth supporting the collection of dendro information, even if it’s meaning is not clear right now. It has the advantage of being well-dated - and when you see the problems with dating ocean sediments, it’s nice to have some records that are well dated. There’s a role for it; so please - no posts dumping on dendrochronology. The dendrochronologists who’ve been doing this work (and who I will credit in due course) are excellent people.


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #75 on: October 17, 2007, 08:28:23 AM »

Interesting.  Please keep us posted as the data comes out.



  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Bad Bets & Bad Checks Coming Due in CA, Part I
« Reply #76 on: October 20, 2007, 06:38:17 PM »
Speech was given on October 12, 2007 in Newport Beach.

You have extended me a very dangerous invitation tonight – to speak to a gathering of political conservatives on the day that Al Gore has received the Nobel Peace Prize for discovering that the earth’s climate is changing.

I’ve heard that he’s going to contribute half of his prize money to environmental causes and use the other half to pay his electricity bill. And anything left over will come in handy to help pay for the fleet of private jets that allow him to travel around the world to tell us that you and I need to ride our bikes to work.

You have to admit, there is a certain Helmslyesque quality to it all – “We don’t conserve – only the little people conserve.”

Of course, for those in the liberal elite who jet to environmental conferences in Gulfstream Fives and drive around in Hummers singing the praises of hybrids and bicycles, the Left now sells indulgences – you can actually calculate your sins on-line and they’ll gladly tell you how much money to send them (all major credit cards accepted) to assuage your conscience.

These indulgences will be used for such activities as planting more trees to absorb carbon dioxide. After all, young trees absorb an enormous amount of this “greenhouse gas” – far more than old trees. But isn’t replacing old-growth timber with young-growth timber what lumber companies used to do until the radical environmentalists shut them down?

They’ve also forbidden the clearance of flammable brush from around your home in areas like Lake Tahoe – that’s an affront to Mother Nature. You’re supposed to either let it burn – and your home along with it – or just let it sit and rot because those are the two best ways for Nature to release lots of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Apparently natural carbon dioxide is a good thing and man-made carbon dioxide is a bad thing.

That’s also why we’re supposed to do away with chemical fertilizer and replace it with natural compost, because replacing man-made greenhouse gases with natural greenhouse gases is the wave of the future.

So are electric cars and trains. But this also gets a little complicated, because there are only two ways of generating vast amounts of clean electricity: hydroelectricity and nuclear power. But there’s no faster way to send one of these Luddites into hysterics than to mention that inconvenient truth.

The politically correct replacement is solar energy – roughly 17 times more expensive than either nuclear power or hydroelectricity – meaning, of course around 17 times LESS electricity to run electric cars and trains.

Energy conservation, then, is the answer, which is why we’re being told only to use energy efficient fluorescent lights rather than the warm and fuzzy incandescent bulbs. But wait – didn’t we just ban the disposal of fluorescent lights with your trash because of the extreme environmental hazard they pose in our landfills?

So I approach the subject tonight with an admitted level of confusion as to what these people are thinking.

And I also approach it with a certain degree of trepidation. After all, at Al Gore’s rally to save the planet in New York in July, no less an authority than Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that those of us who still have some questions over their theories of man-made global warming are “liars,” “crooks,” “corporate toadies,” “flat-earthers” and then he made this remarkable statement: “This is treason and we need to start treating them now as traitors.”

Ah, the dispassionate language of science and reason.

In a speech in New York several months ago, our own governor called those who question the religion of global warming “fanatics” and vowed our political extinction.

I certainly don’t want to die a traitor’s death or be run out of town on a rail. So I want the record to be very clear: I believe that the earth’s climate is changing and that our planet is warming.

I actually figured that out in grade school in the 1960’s when our third grade class took a field trip to the Museum of Natural History and saw the panorama of dinosaurs tromping around the steamy swamps that are now part of Wyoming. They were right next to the exhibit of the Wooly Mammoths foraging on the glaciers that were also once the same part of Wyoming.

And I never got a Nobel Prize for that discovery. In fact, I later found out that my third grade teacher never even nominated me!

Then I got to high school in the 1970’s and learned from the Al Gores of the time that we foolish mortals were plunging ourselves into another ice age. All the scientists agreed.

By the way, you may have seen the Washington Times story a few weeks ago about the researcher who recently stumbled upon a lurid story in the Washington Post dated July 9, 1971. It included the scary headline: “U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming.”

The scientist based this on a scientific climate model developed by a young research associate named James Hansen. They warned that continued carbon emissions over the next ten years could trigger an unstoppable ice age.

This is the same James Hansen who is one of the gurus of the current global warming movement. And it is the same James Hansen who, just three months ago, published a paper claiming that continued carbon emissions over the next ten years could trigger a run-away greenhouse effect.

Let me begin by asking three inconvenient questions.

First, if global warming is caused by your SUV, why is it that we’re seeing global warming on every other body in the solar system? For the last six years, the Martian south polar ice cap has conspicuously receded. Pluto is warming – about two degrees Celsius over the past 14 years. Jupiter is showing dramatic climate change by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Even Neptune’s moon, Triton, has warmed five percent on the absolute temperature scale – the equivalent of a 22 degrees Fahrenheit increase on Earth – from 1989 to 1998.

If you have any doubt, just Google “Pluto Warming” or “Mars Warming” or whatever your favorite planet might be.

Meanwhile, solar radiation has increased a measurable .05 percent since the 1970’s.

Is it possible that as the sun gets slightly warmer, the planets do too?

This would be a little scary in its own right, except for the second inconvenient question: If global warming is being caused by your SUV, why is it that we have ample historical records of periods in our recent history when the planet’s temperature was warmer than it is today?

During the Medieval Warm Period, from about 900 to 1300 AD, we know that wine grapes were thriving in northern Britain and Newfoundland and that the temperature in Greenland was hot enough to support a prosperous agricultural economy for nearly 500 years.

That period was brought to an end by the Little Ice Age that lasted from 1300 until 1850. We know that during colonial times, Boston and New York Harbors routinely froze over in winter and during Elizabethan times, an annual Winter Festival was held ON TOP OF the Thames River, which froze solid every year.

And finally the third inconvenient question: If global warming is caused by YOUR SUV, why is it that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide always follow increases in global temperatures by several hundred years, indicating that CO2 is a byproduct of increasing temperatures – not a cause.

Is it possible that this is the reason Al Gore won’t debate the subject? You’ve seen the “Inconvenient Truth.” In it, he portrays himself as an indefatigable, lonely sentinel (who should have been President of course) wandering the planet trying desperately to awaken the world to the danger it faces. “I’ve given this speech a thousand times,” he says about a thousand times.

But according to the Chicago Sun Times this pious paragon of truth – who assures us he’s willing to go anywhere and talk to anybody to save us from our mortal folly – is strangely UNwilling to take up the Heartland Institute’s publicized offer to organize an international debate on the subject. The Institute has challenged our new Nobel Peace Prize laureate of the left to debate any one of three internationally recognized authorities who dispute his claims, and it’s willing to front all costs – at Oxford University, no less, and in a format of Gore’s own choosing.

After all, Gore’s new book extols the importance of science and reason in the public policy debate, so what better way to deliver the coup de grace to the “skeptics” than to expose their fallacies in front of an international audience?

And yet, Al Gore, who has given his speech “a thousand times,” won’t give it just once more in a forum where it might be questioned by a knowledgeable authority.

We’re told that the debate is over and that all scientists agree. Call this the Emperor’s New Clothes argument. But it’s simply not the case.

The ISI Web of Science is one of the most comprehensive collections of peer-reviewed scientific papers in the world. A recent survey of all papers on the subject of climate change that were published between 2004 and February of 2007 found that only SEVEN percent explicitly endorsed the position that man-made carbon dioxide is causing catastrophic global warming. SIX PERCENT explicitly rejected it and a majority of the remaining papers were neutral.

In fact, another directory of peer-reviewed scientific papers explicitly refuting the theory of human-induced catastrophic global warming lists over 500 leading climate scientists. The survey itself was conducted by a team that included Fred Singer, author of “Unstoppable Global Warming – EVERY 1,500 YEARS”, whose qualifications include being the founding director of the National Weather Satellite Service.

I believe it was Ogden Nash who wrote:

“The ass was born in March “The rains came in November “Such a flood as this, he said, “I scarcely can remember.”

But now I would like to address myself to a grim subject: the actual threat that global warming poses to our planet – and most specifically to California. And that threat is very real and it is devastating.

I speak specifically of the radical policies that the global warm-mongers are now enacting.

Last year, in the name of saving the planet from global warming, California adopted the most radically restrictive legislation anywhere in the nation, including AB 32, which requires a 25 percent reduction in man-made carbon dioxide emissions within 13 years.

To put this in perspective, we could junk every car in the state of California RIGHT NOW – and not meet this mandate.

Californians just approved $40 billion of bonds that California’s political leaders promised would be used for highways, dams, aqueducts and other capital improvements. They are desperately needed.

But at the same time, those same political leaders have imposed a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Now here’s the problem. Building highways, dams and aqueducts requires tremendous amounts of concrete, the principle ingredient of which is cement.

How is cement produced? It is produced by taking limestone and super-heating it into a molten state – it comes out the other side as a compound called clinker. Clinker is about 2/3 the weight of the original limestone. The missing 1/3 of that weight is carbon dioxide. And when you include the emissions required to superheat the limestone, it turns out that for every ton of cement, a TON of carbon dioxide is released. It’s the third biggest source of carbon dioxide in all human enterprise.

But now we have a law that specifically forbids us from doing so. That was the essence of the Jerry Brown lawsuits against new highway projects that were part of the summer budget impasse.

Citing AB 32, Brown argued that unless the counties could show how they would build highways without using earthmoving equipment or concrete – and that once built, that people would not drive automobiles on them – the only legal use of the funds would be to promote mass transit, transit villages – and I’m not making this up – pedestrian trails and bicycle paths.

So much for construction.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Bad Bets & Bad Checks Coming Due in CA, Part II
« Reply #77 on: October 20, 2007, 06:38:58 PM »
Agriculture is in big trouble, too.

You can start with nitrogen fertilizer, which is a critical component of all agricultural activity. Unfortunately, it produces large amounts of nitrous oxide, another so-called greenhouse gas that must be radically curtailed in California.

The wine industry is also in for a shock. Fermentation of wine occurs when a molecule of glucose in the grapes is converted into EQUAL PARTS of alcohol and Carbon Dioxide.

But the biggest agricultural impact is the administration’s mandate for heavily subsidized use of ethanol fuel. Ethanol is produced in exactly the same way as the alcohol in wine: the glucose in corn is converted into equal parts of ethyl alcohol and CARBON DIXOIDE.

Following AB 32, the governor’s appointees on the California Air Resources Board imposed a requirement that ALL gasoline sold in California within THREE YEARS, must be comprised of at least TEN PERCENT ethanol, doubling the current mandate.

Now think about this: an acre of corn produces about 350 gallons of ethanol. There are 15 billion gallons of gasoline used in California each year. In order to meet the ten percent requirement in three years, it means converting 4.3 million acres of farmland to ethanol production. Now that’s a lot of farmland, considering that we have a total of 11 million acres producing any kind of crops.

Current ethanol mandates are already producing serious shortages in other parts of the world, as farmland that had been producing food shifts to ethanol to chase hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies coming out of your pocket. There were riots in Mexico earlier this year in response to spiraling tortilla prices.

And we’re seeing this across the board – including commodities like milk and beef that are responding to increased prices for corn feed. And as you see your grocery prices rise as a result of this policy, just be glad you’re not in the Third World. Food is a relatively small portion of the family incomes in affluent nations, but they consume more than half of family earnings in third world countries.

So when the global warming alarmists predict worldwide starvation, they’re right. They’re creating it.

While we’re on the general subject, you may have noted that Interstate Bakeries announced last month that they are completely withdrawing from the Southern California market – they are shutting down four bakeries, 17 distribution centers and 19 outlet stores – and throwing 1,300 employees out of work. They’re the makers of Wonder Bread, Roman Meal Bread, Home Pride and Baker’s Inn.

If you’re a fan of those breads, you’d better stock up now – they’ll be gone by the end of October.

They cited the high cost of doing business in California, but I believe had they stayed they would have faced an even thornier problem: bread is only bread because of the carbon dioxide produced by yeast. It’s the same chemical process we’ve been talking about, although in this case, the central ingredient IS the carbon dioxide. That pleasant smell of baking bread is the ethyl alcohol oxidizing as those gases are vented during baking.

Electricity prices are also taking a heavy hit. California already suffers the highest electricity prices in the continental United States, but that situation is about to worsen.

A companion measure to AB 32 was SB 1368 that prohibits the importation of electricity produced by coal – even state-of-the-art plants thousands of miles from California that meet all EPA requirements.

Truckee became the first victim of this law. Truckee was about to sign a 50-year contract for electricity produced by a new coal fired plant in Utah. They were forced to back off because of AB 1368. They just announced the new contracts to replace that lost power. Instead of paying $35 per megawatt hour, Truckee electricity consumers will now be paying $65 per megawatt hour.

It gets worse. Last month, the chairwoman of the Air Resources Board – which was given virtually unlimited power by AB 32 – announced that they will TRIPLE the number of AB 32 regulations this year.

The radical laws now in place in California are having a dramatic impact on energy production, agriculture, manufacturing, wine-making and construction, just to name a few sectors of our economy.

We are already seeing the economic impact in California.

Nationally, the unemployment rate is stable at 4.6 percent. Until last year, Californian’s unemployment rate tracked with the national figures, but since January – while the national rate has remained stable at about 4.6 percent, California’s unemployment rate has skyrocketed from 4.8 percent to 5.5 percent.

I was struck by the Governor’s speech to the United Nations last week. He said:

“Last year in California, we enacted groundbreaking greenhouse gas emission standards. “We enacted the world’s first low carbon fuel standard. “Do I believe California’s standards will solve global warming? No. “What we’re doing is changing the dynamic, preparing the way and encouraging the future...”

So even the individual most responsible for this economically catastrophic public policy ADMITS that it’s not going to solve global warming. He just wants to set an example.

I believe he is going to set an example, all right.

Responding to the enormous new burdens imposed on our economy, our state’s revenues have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. On June 30th, we closed the books on the biggest deficit in California’s history – more than $6 ½ billion.

We just got the first quarter revenue numbers for this new fiscal year. State revenues needed to grow TWICE as fast this year as they did last year to avert an even bigger deficit.

In the first quarter, though, our revenues are actually shrinking. Last year at this time, we had $1 ½ billion in the bank – we now have a bank overdraft of $7 ½ billion that’s being covered entirely by internal borrowing.

That’s a NINE BILLION DOLLAR DIFFERENCE. And that’s the measure of our actual year-over-year deficit spending.

Combined with the growing budget deficit projection for next year, we could be facing a two-year gap of $20 billion by May – and we don’t have the money to cover it.

There is one other thing that strikes me on this issue, and that is how puny is the amount of carbon dioxide produced by human enterprise, compared to simple, natural processes.

The AB 32 mandate is to reduce man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 170 million metric tons per year. That’s what all this tremendous economic dislocation is about.

Now let me mention one other man-made source of carbon dioxide that they don’t count.

Every one of us in this room will produce about 2.2 pounds of carbon dioxide today – by breathing. That’s over 800 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. If anyone brought a pocket calculator, pull it out and stay with me here.

There are 6.6 billion of us on this planet. That comes to 5.3 trillion pounds or 2.4 BILLION metric tons of carbon dioxide – simply through the process of human respiration. And that’s before you count up all the cats and rats and elephants.

So all of this economic dislocation is over a tiny fraction of natural carbon dioxide emissions.

The only good news I can offer is that perhaps we’re all wrong. Perhaps the unprecedented burden now imposed upon our commerce will produce a wave of new investment and innovation and environmental purity as the Governor has so loudly promised. Perhaps the unprecedented levels of deficit spending will send our economy into paroxysms of prosperity. Perhaps.

But there’s another possibility. There’s a possibility that we’re right, and that the inevitable economic realities of these outrageous regulations are already beginning to destroy California’s once-vibrant economy in a dark and miserable example of human folly.

And we must be prepared for that possibility. In normal times, citizens don’t pay a lot of attention to public policy, and that’s why democracies occasionally drift off course. But when a crisis approaches, that’s when you see democracy engage. One by one, citizens sense the approach of a common danger and they rise to the occasion. They focus – they look beyond the symbols and rhetoric – and they begin to make very good decisions. Political majorities can shift very quickly in such times. Polls can reverse themselves almost overnight in such times. And I believe that day is now rapidly approaching.

People ask me all the time: “What can I do?” And the only answer I can offer is the answer the great abolition leader Frederick Douglass offered to a young protégé. He said, “Agitate. Agitate. Agitate.”

We have greater tools with which to communicate with our fellow citizens than ever before. The Internet and talk radio have given us powerful new ways to organize and reach people. And we have something else that’s even more important: truth and common sense.

We have based our entire form of government on the assumption that when democracies engage, they make very good decisions. The radical policies now imposed on California are already beginning to impact the economy, and will have an increasingly negative effect as they proliferate in coming days. As the impact of these policies is felt, people will begin paying close attention to policy making and the policy makers responsible, and then they’ll begin exercising something that the majority of California’s public officials have so completely lacked: simple common sense.

And at that moment, we will see a new political awakening and a new political realignment in California, and before you know it, we’ll be living once again in Reagan Country.


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #78 on: October 23, 2007, 08:59:56 AM »
Another in a similar vein, this from the WSJ

Global Warming Delusions
The popular imagination has been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Global warming doesn't matter except to the extent that it will affect life--ours and that of all living things on Earth. And contrary to the latest news, the evidence that global warming will have serious effects on life is thin. Most evidence suggests the contrary.

Case in point: This year's United Nations report on climate change and other documents say that 20% to 30% of plant and animal species will be threatened with extinction in this century due to global warming--a truly terrifying thought. Yet, during the past 2.5 million years, a period that scientists now know experienced climatic changes as rapid and as warm as modern climatological models suggest will happen to us, almost none of the millions of species on Earth went extinct. The exceptions were about 20 species of large mammals (the famous megafauna of the last ice age--saber-tooth tigers, hairy mammoths and the like), which went extinct about 10,000 to 5,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, and many dominant trees and shrubs of northwestern Europe. But elsewhere, including North America, few plant species went extinct, and few mammals.

We're also warned that tropical diseases are going to spread, and that we can expect malaria and encephalitis epidemics. But scientific papers by Prof. Sarah Randolph of Oxford University show that temperature changes do not correlate well with changes in the distribution or frequency of these diseases; warming has not broadened their distribution and is highly unlikely to do so in the future, global warming or not.

The key point here is that living things respond to many factors in addition to temperature and rainfall. In most cases, however, climate-modeling-based forecasts look primarily at temperature alone, or temperature and precipitation only. You might ask, "Isn't this enough to forecast changes in the distribution of species?" Ask a mockingbird. The New York Times recently published an answer to a query about why mockingbirds were becoming common in Manhattan. The expert answer was: food--an exotic plant species that mockingbirds like to eat had spread to New York City. It was this, not temperature or rainfall, the expert said, that caused the change in mockingbird geography.

You might think I must be one of those know-nothing naysayers who believes global warming is a liberal plot. On the contrary, I am a biologist and ecologist who has worked on global warming, and been concerned about its effects, since 1968. I've developed the computer model of forest growth that has been used widely to forecast possible effects of global warming on life--I've used the model for that purpose myself, and to forecast likely effects on specific endangered species.
I'm not a naysayer. I'm a scientist who believes in the scientific method and in what facts tell us. I have worked for 40 years to try to improve our environment and improve human life as well. I believe we can do this only from a basis in reality, and that is not what I see happening now. Instead, like fashions that took hold in the past and are eloquently analyzed in the classic 19th century book "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds," the popular imagination today appears to have been captured by beliefs that have little scientific basis.

Some colleagues who share some of my doubts argue that the only way to get our society to change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe, and that therefore it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate. They tell me that my belief in open and honest assessment is naïve. "Wolves deceive their prey, don't they?" one said to me recently. Therefore, biologically, he said, we are justified in exaggerating to get society to change.

The climate modelers who developed the computer programs that are being used to forecast climate change used to readily admit that the models were crude and not very realistic, but were the best that could be done with available computers and programming methods. They said our options were to either believe those crude models or believe the opinions of experienced, data-focused scientists. Having done a great deal of computer modeling myself, I appreciated their acknowledgment of the limits of their methods. But I hear no such statements today. Oddly, the forecasts of computer models have become our new reality, while facts such as the few extinctions of the past 2.5 million years are pushed aside, as if they were not our reality.

A recent article in the well-respected journal American Scientist explained why the glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro could not be melting from global warming. Simply from an intellectual point of view it was fascinating--especially the author's Sherlock Holmes approach to figuring out what was causing the glacier to melt. That it couldn't be global warming directly (i.e., the result of air around the glacier warming) was made clear by the fact that the air temperature at the altitude of the glacier is below freezing. This means that only direct radiant heat from sunlight could be warming and melting the glacier. The author also studied the shape of the glacier and deduced that its melting pattern was consistent with radiant heat but not air temperature. Although acknowledged by many scientists, the paper is scorned by the true believers in global warming.

We are told that the melting of the arctic ice will be a disaster. But during the famous medieval warming period--A.D. 750 to 1230 or so--the Vikings found the warmer northern climate to their advantage. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie addressed this in his book "Times of Feast, Times of Famine: A History of Climate Since the Year 1000," perhaps the greatest book about climate change before the onset of modern concerns with global warming. He wrote that Erik the Red "took advantage of a sea relatively free of ice to sail due west from Iceland to reach Greenland. . . . Two and a half centuries later, at the height of the climatic and demographic fortunes of the northern settlers, a bishopric of Greenland was founded at Gardar in 1126."

Ladurie pointed out that "it is reasonable to think of the Vikings as unconsciously taking advantage of this [referring to the warming of the Middle Ages] to colonize the most northern and inclement of their conquests, Iceland and Greenland." Good thing that Erik the Red didn't have Al Gore or his climatologists as his advisers.

Should we therefore dismiss global warming? Of course not. But we should make a realistic assessment, as rationally as possible, about its cultural, economic and environmental effects. As Erik the Red might have told you, not everything due to a climatic warming is bad, nor is everything that is bad due to a climatic warming.
We should approach the problem the way we decide whether to buy insurance and take precautions against other catastrophes--wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes. And as I have written elsewhere, many of the actions we would take to reduce greenhouse-gas production and mitigate global-warming effects are beneficial anyway, most particularly a movement away from fossil fuels to alternative solar and wind energy.

My concern is that we may be moving away from an irrational lack of concern about climate change to an equally irrational panic about it.

Many of my colleagues ask, "What's the problem? Hasn't it been a good thing to raise public concern?" The problem is that in this panic we are going to spend our money unwisely, we will take actions that are counterproductive, and we will fail to do many of those things that will benefit the environment and ourselves.

For example, right now the clearest threat to many species is habitat destruction. Take the orangutans, for instance, one of those charismatic species that people are often fascinated by and concerned about. They are endangered because of deforestation. In our fear of global warming, it would be sad if we fail to find funds to purchase those forests before they are destroyed, and thus let this species go extinct.

At the heart of the matter is how much faith we decide to put in science--even how much faith scientists put in science. Our times have benefited from clear-thinking, science-based rationality. I hope this prevails as we try to deal with our changing climate.

Mr. Botkin, president of the Center for the Study of the Environment and professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the author of "Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century" (Replica Books, 2001).


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 784
    • View Profile
Global Warming Test
« Reply #79 on: October 28, 2007, 07:46:30 PM »


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Newt plugs his book
« Reply #80 on: October 30, 2007, 09:08:11 AM »

Do you remember back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when people began thinking differently about welfare?

Politicians in Washington and in state capitals actually woke up to the fact that the usual left-right screaming matches weren't doing any good. Lots of us came to understand that the welfare system we then had was actually harming many of the people it was supposed to be helping. The result of this new way of thinking was welfare reform.

Eleven years later, the effects of this change are nothing less than transformational. Welfare rolls have declined by more than 60 percent. And a million and a half fewer children are living in poverty.

Today, I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking about the environment.

This week marks the launch of my new book, A Contract with the Earth.

I wrote it with my friend Terry Maple, who was once the head of Zoo Atlanta and is now president and CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo and professor of conservation and behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

If I had to boil down the message of A Contract with the Earth to just a couple sentences, I would say it's this:

The left doesn't have the last word on how we protect our environment -- and neither do the folks who say we should sit back and do nothing.

The fact is, according to polling done by my grassroots organization, American Solutions, 95 percent of Americans believe we have an obligation to be good stewards of God's creation for future generations. Eighty-two percent said they believe so "intensely."

Over the last 36 years, I have watched the pro-regulation, pro-litigation, pro-taxation and pro-centralized-government advocates become the definers of environmentalism.

The left would have us believe that to be an environmentalist you have to believe in catastrophic threats, dramatic increases in government power and economically draconian solutions. Such a big-government bureaucracy, trial-lawyer-litigation and excessive-regulation "environmentalism" does a poor job of protecting the environment while it erodes individual freedom, destroys jobs and weakens our country.

The time has come to propose a fundamentally different approach to a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

The time has come for the development of a mainstream environmentalism as an alternative to big bureaucracy and big litigation environmentalism. You could call it "green conservatism," but it's really the mainstream environmental approach that has worked so well in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt epitomized this approach when he said, "The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose and method."

A Better Way to Protect God's Creation

A Contract with the Earth, which is available in both book and audio form, describes a different -- and better -- way to protect God's creation.

Take this quick quiz:

Do you believe a healthy environment should be able to coexist with a healthy, growing economy?

Do you believe investments in science and technology will generate solutions to most of our environmental problems?

Do you believe incentives should be offered to encourage corporations to clean up the environment?

Do you believe corporate and private philanthropy is essential to the success of a global and environmental movement?

If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, you're probably in the environmental mainstream. You may even be a green conservative.

I'll have a lot more to say about A Contract with the Earth and new ways of thinking about protecting our environment in the weeks and months ahead. For now, you can read more about green conservatism at


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #81 on: November 01, 2007, 08:33:18 AM »
My Nobel Moment
November 1, 2007; Page A19

I've had a lot of fun recently with my tiny (and unofficial) slice of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But, though I was one of thousands of IPCC participants, I don't think I will add "0.0001 Nobel Laureate" to my resume.

The other half of the prize was awarded to former Vice President Al Gore, whose carbon footprint would stomp my neighborhood flat. But that's another story.

Large icebergs in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Winter sea ice around the continent set a record maximum last month.
Both halves of the award honor promoting the message that Earth's temperature is rising due to human-based emissions of greenhouse gases. The Nobel committee praises Mr. Gore and the IPCC for alerting us to a potential catastrophe and for spurring us to a carbonless economy.

I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data we analyze at the University of Alabama in Huntsville does show modest warming -- around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, if current warming trends of 0.25 degrees per decade continue.)

It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"

I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.

Others of us scratch our heads and try to understand the real causes behind what we see. We discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before. Sea levels rise and fall continually. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before. One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America.

One of the challenges in studying global climate is keeping a global perspective, especially when much of the research focuses on data gathered from spots around the globe. Often observations from one region get more attention than equally valid data from another.

The recent CNN report "Planet in Peril," for instance, spent considerable time discussing shrinking Arctic sea ice cover. CNN did not note that winter sea ice around Antarctica last month set a record maximum (yes, maximum) for coverage since aerial measurements started.

Then there is the challenge of translating global trends to local climate. For instance, hasn't global warming led to the five-year drought and fires in the U.S. Southwest?

Not necessarily.

There has been a drought, but it would be a stretch to link this drought to carbon dioxide. If you look at the 1,000-year climate record for the western U.S. you will see not five-year but 50-year-long droughts. The 12th and 13th centuries were particularly dry. The inconvenient truth is that the last century has been fairly benign in the American West. A return to the region's long-term "normal" climate would present huge challenges for urban planners.

Without a doubt, atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing due primarily to carbon-based energy production (with its undisputed benefits to humanity) and many people ardently believe we must "do something" about its alleged consequence, global warming. This might seem like a legitimate concern given the potential disasters that are announced almost daily, so I've looked at a couple of ways in which humans might reduce CO2 emissions and their impact on temperatures.

California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade. Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable. Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day.

Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 ?176 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent.

But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?

My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."

Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.

Mr. Christy is director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a participant in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.



  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 12593
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #82 on: November 13, 2007, 09:30:35 PM »
Cloudy Days on the Global Warming Front  (from

Advocates of anthropogenic global warming want you to believe that the science is settled and there is nothing left to debate. But this is the opposite of the truth; in fact, climate science is in its infancy and virtually every proposition relating to it is controversial.

A case in point: the computer programs that tell us that human activity will lead to catastrophic warming assume that warmer temperatures will give rise to more high-altitude clouds, which in turn will trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and create a positive feedback loop. Recent research suggests, however, that increasing temperatures will have the opposite effect, reducing the incidence of high-altitude clouds and thereby creating a safety valve rather than reinforcing the original warming. The research was published in Geophysical Research Letters by Roy W. Spencer, William D. Braswell, John R. Christy and Justin Hnilo:

    The widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

    Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.

    "All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases," he said. "That amplification is a positive feedback. What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback. As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease. That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space."

    As the Earth's surface warms - due to either manmade greenhouse gases or natural fluctuations in the climate system - more water evaporates from the surface. Since more evaporation leads to more precipitation, most climate researchers expected increased cirrus cloudiness to follow warming.

    "To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent," Spencer said. "The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming."

    "The role of clouds in global warming is widely agreed to be pretty uncertain," Spencer said. "Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I'm betting that if the climate models' 'clouds' were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades."

    The team analyzed six years of data from four instruments aboard three NASA and NOAA satellites. The researchers tracked precipitation amounts, air and sea surface temperatures, high and low altitude cloud cover, reflected sunlight, and infrared energy escaping out to space.

    When they tracked the daily evolution of a composite of fifteen of the strongest intraseasonal oscillations they found that although rainfall and air temperatures would be rising, the amount of infrared energy being trapped by the cloudy areas would start to decrease rapidly as the air warmed. This unexpected behavior was traced to the decrease in cirrus cloud cover.

    "Global warming theory says warming will generally be accompanied by more rainfall," Spencer said. "Everyone just assumed that more rainfall means more high altitude clouds. That would be your first guess and, since we didn't have any data to suggest otherwise ..."

    There are significant gaps in the scientific understanding of precipitation systems and their interactions with the climate, he said. "At least 80 percent of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect is due to water vapor and clouds, and those are largely under the control of precipitation systems.

    "Until we understand how precipitation systems change with warming, I don't believe we can know how much of our current warming is manmade. Without that knowledge, we can't predict future climate change with any degree of certainty."

That's a remarkable quote: "Everyone just assumed" that more rainfall means more high altitude clouds. That is the level of scientific certainty on which claims of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming rest.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 10690
    • View Profile
Is global warming a cult?
« Reply #83 on: December 25, 2007, 08:15:22 AM »


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
NY Times: Rain Forest for sale
« Reply #84 on: May 24, 2008, 06:45:25 AM »
40 Million Acres of Rain Forest for the Greenest Bidder

Published: May 24, 2008
The other day I went to a meeting to hear Harrison Ford talk about saving the rain forests and ended up listening to a man who has a rain forest to save: Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The occasion was the announcement of a new campaign to protect the world’s rain forests, Guyana’s included, organized by the environmental group Conservation International. (Mr. Ford, a board member, was in New York to promote his new movie and somehow got his schedule wrong.)

That left the spotlight where it belonged: on Mr. Jagdeo and his mission to get the world’s rich nations to help save Guyana’s huge rain forest from chainsaws and prevent the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas.

Mr. Jagdeo caused a stir last year when he offered to cede the management of his country’s entire rain forest — 40-plus million acres, covering 80 percent of Guyana’s land mass — to a British government agency in return for British economic assistance. Though the British have yet to take him up on the deal, Mr. Jagdeo continues to press the case for protecting not only his rain forest, but all of them.

It is a noble and necessary mission. The rain forests form a cooling band around Earth’s equator. And their accelerating loss — from logging, farming, mining and burning — is a major cause of climate change, accounting for one-fifth of all carbon-dioxide emissions. That is more than the amount the United States puts into the atmosphere from all sources and more than the emissions generated by all of the world’s cars, trucks, buses and airplanes.

Rain forests serve many important purposes. They provide clean water, protection against floods and the basis for many medicines. Yet their most useful function in a warming world is to absorb carbon and store it.

For too long these facts have been undervalued in discussions of climate change. At the Kyoto talks in 1997, for instance, various nations proposed that industrialized countries be allowed to offset some of their own emissions by paying poorer countries not to cut down their forests. European environmental groups fiercely resisted the idea, warning that this would let rich countries off the hook, and engineered the proposal’s defeat.

That was a colossal blunder for which the planet has been paying ever since. Rain forests continue to disappear at a rate of 20 million to 30 million acres every year.

Mr. Jagdeo is the perfect champion for the rain forests. Guyana, together with Suriname, French Guiana and sections of Venezuela and northern Brazil form the Guayana Shield, an ancient geologic formation that contains 14 percent of the world’s carbon. The hope is that his example will inspire bigger countries like Brazil to take a far more aggressive role in protecting their forests from commercial development.

He also speaks with authority about the impact of global warming on poorer countries. He noted the other day that while climate change might require wealthy Americans to drive fewer S.U.V.’s, it is a matter of life and death for poor countries that face floods and drought. Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, is right at sea level. If the seas rise substantially, Georgetown goes.

Finally, as an economist by training, Mr. Jagdeo is a persuasive advocate for new ways of looking at the economic value of forests. Right now, he suggests, too many countries put no dollar value at all on their standing forests. So any payment they get from harvesting trees is seen as a clear profit. If forests are correctly valued — for the carbon they sequester and the damage they spare the planet — then there is far more to gain from leaving them in tact.

The good news is that the world is finally starting to see things Mr. Jagdeo’s way. Negotiators at last year’s climate change conference in Bali — the first of several meetings aimed at crafting a post-Kyoto treaty — agreed to address deforestation. The big climate bill that is expected to be debated on the Senate floor very soon provides incentives for American companies to invest in rain-forest projects abroad. Mr. Jagdeo may yet wind up with a buyer.


  • Guest
« Reply #85 on: August 23, 2008, 05:16:15 AM »
No smoking hot spot

David Evans | July 18, 2008

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.

FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years.

When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.

The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts:

1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.

Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.

If there is no hot spot then an increased greenhouse effect is not the cause of global warming. So we know for sure that carbon emissions are not a significant cause of the global warming. If we had found the greenhouse signature then I would be an alarmist again.

When the signature was found to be missing in 2007 (after the latest IPCC report), alarmists objected that maybe the readings of the radiosonde thermometers might not be accurate and maybe the hot spot was there but had gone undetected. Yet hundreds of radiosondes have given the same answer, so statistically it is not possible that they missed the hot spot.

Recently the alarmists have suggested we ignore the radiosonde thermometers, but instead take the radiosonde wind measurements, apply a theory about wind shear, and run the results through their computers to estimate the temperatures. They then say that the results show that we cannot rule out the presence of a hot spot. If you believe that you'd believe anything.

2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.

3. The satellites that measure the world's temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year (to the temperature of 1980). Land-based temperature readings are corrupted by the "urban heat island" effect: urban areas encroaching on thermometer stations warm the micro-climate around the thermometer, due to vegetation changes, concrete, cars, houses. Satellite data is the only temperature data we can trust, but it only goes back to 1979. NASA reports only land-based data, and reports a modest warming trend and recent cooling. The other three global temperature records use a mix of satellite and land measurements, or satellite only, and they all show no warming since 2001 and a recent cooling.

4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect.

None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.

The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this dishonest and widely questioned the politician's assertion.

Until now the global warming debate has merely been an academic matter of little interest. Now that it matters, we should debate the causes of global warming.

So far that debate has just consisted of a simple sleight of hand: show evidence of global warming, and while the audience is stunned at the implications, simply assert that it is due to carbon emissions.

In the minds of the audience, the evidence that global warming has occurred becomes conflated with the alleged cause, and the audience hasn't noticed that the cause was merely asserted, not proved.

If there really was any evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming, don't you think we would have heard all about it ad nauseam by now?

The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory.

What is going to happen over the next decade as global temperatures continue not to rise? The Labor Government is about to deliberately wreck the economy in order to reduce carbon emissions. If the reasons later turn out to be bogus, the electorate is not going to re-elect a Labor government for a long time. When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it. And if the Liberals support the general thrust of their actions, they will be seen likewise.

The onus should be on those who want to change things to provide evidence for why the changes are necessary. The Australian public is eventually going to have to be told the evidence anyway, so it might as well be told before wrecking the economy.

Dr David Evans was a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005.,,24036736-17803,00.html


  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 51391
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #86 on: August 24, 2008, 05:05:00 AM »
Given the author's credentials, a particularly potent find BBG.

I suspect that part of the reason that so many people who should know better, indeed, DO know better, let the shoddy thinking go unchallenged is that they are concerned that man is overwhelming his environment and will use anything, honest or not, to get man to change his ways.


  • Guest
The Skeptical Environmentalist, 1
« Reply #87 on: October 03, 2008, 04:04:15 PM »
The Rational Environmentalist

Bjorn Lomborg on the priorities that should come before global warming

Ronald Bailey | October 2008 Print Edition

Where in the world can we do the most good? That is the basic question addressed by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a think tank founded six years ago by the Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg. To answer the question, the center periodically convenes panels of leading economists, who weigh and prioritize the solutions experts have proposed to the world's biggest problems.

Lomborg, a boyish 43-year-old, first burst onto the intellectual scene in 2001 with his best-selling book The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. There the former Greenpeace member argued persuasively that most of the planetary doom scenarios imagined by ideological environmentalists were contradicted by the available ecological and economic data. The book provoked a furious green backlash, the low point of which was a 2003 ruling by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty that "the publication of the work under consideration is deemed to fall within the concept of scientific dishonesty." Lomborg was vindicated later that year when the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation overturned the ruling, calling it "completely void of argumentation."

Lomborg's international reputation had already taken off by then, the odd activist cream pie to the face notwithstanding. In 2001 the World Economic Forum nominated him as one of the Global Leaders for Tomorrow; in 2004 Time named him one of the world's 100 most influential people; in 2005 Foreign Policy ranked him as the world's 14th most influential intellectual; and this year The Guardian dubbed him one of "50 people who could save the planet."

Saving the planet became a specific job description six years ago, when Lomborg was appointed director of the Danish National Environmental Assessment Institute, a group whose explicit aim is to "get the most environment for the money." In 2004, under Lomborg's guidance, the institute convened the first Copenhagen Consensus conference, in which eight leading economists, including four Nobel laureates, were asked to allocate a theoretical $50 billion to solve the world's biggest problems. The panel was presented with 30 proposals from other researchers for ranking and evaluation. The top four priorities left standing at the end of the conference were: controlling HIV/AIDS, providing micronutrients to children, liberalizing trade, and rolling back malaria. Addressing climate change ranked near the bottom. This infuriated many environmentalists, but overall the meeting garnered favorable attention around the world.

In 2007, following with the Copenhagen Consensus theme of sensible policy prioritization, Lomborg published Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, in which he acknowledged that man-made global warming is a problem but challenged the notion that it is the biggest threat to human well-being. Instead of draconian and poverty-inducing cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, Lomborg argued, rich countries could more effectively tackle the problem through massive research and development into low-carbon energy technologies.

In May 2008, Lomborg convened the second Copenhagen Consensus Center conference. This time eight leading economists, including five Nobelists, considered how to allocate a theoretical $75 billion during the next four years to solve 10 of the world's largest problems. Would it be better, for example, to provide efficient stoves to poor people who are exposed to indoor cooking smoke, or supply middle-aged people in developing countries with cheap pills combining aspirin and cholesterol-reducing statins to prevent heart attacks? The panel's top four solutions: providing vitamin A and zinc supplements to poor children, liberalizing trade, fortifying salt and staple foods with the micronutrients iodine and iron, and expanding childhood immunization. Cutting greenhouse gases came in at the bottom, although another approach to global warming—R&D spending on low-carbon energy technologies—was a mid-list priority.

Ronald Bailey, reason's science correspondent, interviewed Lomborg in a gilt-edged room at the Moltkes Palace in Copenhagen during a lunch break at the 2008 Copenhagen Consensus Conference.

reason: How did you come up with the idea of the Copenhagen Consensus?

Bjorn Lomborg: It really started with my discussion of global warming. The advantages of doing the Kyoto Protocol are fairly small, but the cost of doing Kyoto for just one year is about what it would cost to give clean drinking water and sanitation to everyone.

We did some searches. I was sure somebody had done global priority setting before. We do it implicitly by the way we spend money, but apparently nobody's ever thought about it formally.

reason: What's been the reaction to the Copenhagen Consensus process around the world?

Lomborg: Most people who have no sort of preconceived notions about one thing or another think it's eminently sensible. They're a bit like, "You're telling me people didn't do this before?" But as soon as you get people participating in the public debate about this and that issue, it's incredibly hard for them to disassociate themselves from where their problem and especially their solution came on the list. I think most of the arguments against the Copenhagen Consensus boil down to "my area should also have been high on the priorities list," or "we should do all things" and implicitly therefore also my area.

I gave a presentation to Congress last year, and a congressman-I'll not mention his name or his affiliation-told me, "Bjorn, I understand why you're focusing on prioritization, because Denmark is a small country and you can't do all things." But honestly, even though America is vastly larger and you have done incredible amounts of good, you are also constrained by a bunch of restrictions. You have not fixed all the problems in the world in the last 50 years, and it seems reasonable to assume that you won't in the next 10 years. So for all societies, we have to ask ourselves, "What do we want to spend our money on?" If we spend it on something that does only a little good, it could be to the detriment of things that could've done even more good.

reason: Have the experts put things low on the list that you would've liked to see ranked higher?

Lomborg: These are some of the smartest people on the planet. I think of myself more as an intellectual entrepreneur bringing them all together and making sure they hear all the good arguments for and against and then make their informed decisions. I can conceivably imagine that I would end up disagreeing with them at some point, but these are really smart people and I'll probably defer to their judgment.

About half the proposals are kind of obvious. Yes, it's good to do malaria. Yes, it's good to do HIV/AIDS. But I think most of them are impressive because we don't usually think of them. One of the great examples from this session is heart medicine for the Third World. When we think about the Third World, we think about malnourished black children with incredibly distended bellies who we see with flies all over them. We think about malaria and AIDS, those kinds of problems. Those are important, but the death toll from malaria, TB, and HIV, even in the most stricken countries, is still less than the death toll from heart disease. And we have very cheap aspirins, statins, for dealing with heart disease that work very well. Spending $200 million a year could probably save about 300,000 people dying each year in the developing world, causing a benefit of $25 for every dollar spent.

Now, that's not a sexy proposal. It's not one that you usually hear, but isn't it something we ought to hear? The Copenhagen Consensus is not just about what's fashionable. It's not just about what looks good on TV. It's also about making sure we reveal lots of hidden, reclusive, not very publicized issues that we should also be listening to. Perhaps it's about being a little more rational.

One more thing that actually surprised me this time was air pollution. One environmental problem in the Third World that I've been harping on for some time is indoor air pollution. More than a million people die-maybe two and a half million each year. If we improve stoves, it will do some good; it'll probably get $3 back from the dollar. That's respectable, but it's a lot less than what I thought.

The essential thing is that this is a process that doesn't just make it easier for you to confirm your preconceived notions, but it gives you an opportunity to see what some of the best experts on all these issues come up with.

reason: Are there any things you've changed your mind about since you wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist?

Lomborg: I think the main point of that book was to challenge our notion that everything is going down the drain, and I don't see any reason to revise that. We are in general moving in the right direction, and it's important to say mankind solves a lot of problems. We also create new problems in the process of solving old problems, but typically they're smaller than the old ones we fix, which is why we move ahead on virtually all material indicators. My second point with the book was to say this means we need to start prioritizing; we need to be smart about the kinds of problems that we worry about.

People in the U.S. will worry about pesticides, which kill probably about 20 people a year, but care very little about particulate air pollution, which kills 110,000 people in the U.S. every year. We could probably do something dramatic about particulates at a much lower cost than the pesticides. It's much more about getting those orders of magnitude right, and that's, of course, what the Copenhagen Consensus is about.

I did, just like pretty much everyone else, predict that raw materials would go down in price pretty much indefinitely. They're clearly not right now. I think our long-run expectation is still that they will go down. But it was much easier to make that argument in the '90s than it is in the 2000s. So clearly we all become more knowledgeable, but I think the main point of the book was to say, in general, things are moving in the right direction. That message obviously still stands.

reason: You experienced some heartburn about that book when you were formally accused of scientific dishonesty. How did you react to that charge?

Lomborg: At first I was a little stunned, but I also thought it was going to be a fair process. I thought, yeah, it's a little ridiculous, but we'll take that to the committee and show that they are wrong. The lead guy who brought this in front of the committee explicitly said in his first paragraph of his first letter to the committee that he did this for political reasons. So there was never any doubt of what the motive was. I imagined that this was going to be somewhat of a walk in the park: He would come up with arguments, and I would counter them. The committee would go through all this in a fair and impartial way and find that you could have reasoned differences of opinion, but clearly this was nothing to do with scientific dishonesty. I certainly made very clear where I got my references from and what I based my arguments on.

Instead, the committee came out with what can only be described as an incredibly poorly argued, very obviously tainted point. The committee essentially summarized a critique that was commissioned by Scientific American, by four people, three of whom I criticized in my book. Not surprisingly, they were not particularly favorable towards my book. The committee summarized my answer to those critiques in one and a half lines of the document, about 10 words, and then went on to talk about how unreasonable it was that I was unwilling to accept all of their charges. To them that only underscored the point that I was probably being scientifically dishonest because I was unable to admit to my errors.

Unfortunately, I could only appeal the legality of the decision. I did so to the ministry, and they took a year for their lawyers to go through it. Fortunately, one of the main points of the Danish administrative law is that a decision has to be well argued. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable requirement, but that was the main thing that the ministry struck it down on. They said that the committee actually had no argument whatsoever for making their judgment, and that was why the original decision was annulled.

I'm still surprised by the number of people who will reference the first part, that I was condemned for scientific dishonesty, and ignore the fact that it was later overturned on the fact that there was absolutely no evidence. If anything, it seems to indicate that there was a strong wish without any good arguments to indict me.

reason: When I interviewed you before The Skeptical Environmentalist came out, you were describing yourself as a man of the left.

Lomborg: I still am.


  • Guest
The Skeptical Environmentalist, 2
« Reply #88 on: October 03, 2008, 04:04:43 PM »
reason: What does that mean?

Lomborg: Well, it means that I'll vote to the center-left, which probably in the U.S. would be extreme left. I support a strong welfare state. I support a strong redistribution from taxes. I think it's important that we have a somewhat egalitarian society.

I'm trying to recapture much of what the left stood for-when we believed in progress, when we believed that scientific understanding could lead us ahead and not just rely on tradition. I think that's the original sort of background for the left. Unfortunately, I find that a fair amount of the left has turned towards a romanticized view of the world.

reason: All of the economic evidence that is being presented here at the Copenhagen Consensus Conference suggests that trade liberalization, a policy that the left does not like, is a very good idea.

Lomborg: Yeah, that's certainly not a universally shared left-wing viewpoint. In the U.S. election, Barack Obama is less interested in free trade, or at least more vocally against it, than John McCain. In this case, it seems that the evidence is just simply against them.

A lot of left-wing parties, many social democratic parties or labor parties around Europe, would support free trade. They will have some caveats, and I understand why, though I think not all of those caveats are good. But the main point here is to say if you want to do a lot of good, you should realize that if the Doha Development Round trade negotiations were successfully concluded, you could probably imagine making the world about $3 trillion per year richer-about three times the size of the economy of India every year. And five-sixths of that $3 trillion would go to the developing world. Wouldn't that be worth following up on?

reason: You're strongly against proposals to cut greenhouse gases with carbon taxes or by capping carbon dioxide emissions and letting companies trade emissions permits, yes?

Lomborg: No. A $2 per ton carbon tax is probably a reasonable thing to do. Cap and trade that would be the equivalent of that would be virtually as good. I would say I'm against cap and trade, as I'm against carbon taxes, when they're excessive. But that's a little bit like saying I'm against speed limits. I'm against a speed limit of five miles an hour, but I'm not against a speed limit, for instance, of 100 miles an hour and possibly even lower. It's about finding the right speed limit.

reason: In Cool It, your main proposal to address climate change seems to be to spend $25 billion a year to develop new low-carbon energy sources. Recent economic research seems to show that government funding of research and development for this kind of applied research has not been very successful. For example, in the 1970s the U.S. government planned to spend $40 billion on developing synthetic fuels. Instead, we created the world's largest public works project, the Synfuels facility up in North Dakota. It was going to turn coal into natural gas and liquid fuels. The price of energy dropped, and the plant was sold eventually to a local utility for three cents on the dollar.

Every U.S. president since 1970 except Reagan has come up with a new car initiative of some sort, to give money to the Department of Energy to spend on research to create more fuel-efficient and alternatively fueled cars. There have been no real results after literally billions of dollars spent.

Lomborg: One important point I make is that if you're going to get technologies that are going to work 20 or 50 years from now, you can't expect private companies to do it. It's very hard to recoup most of the investment, because what you're going to be inventing is ideas that will later be used by others that'll then invent ideas that eventually will lead to something you can patent and actually recoup money from.

Most estimates show that you can only recoup about one-third of what is invested in basic science R&D. That is the standard argument for why you want public research and development. It's a little bit like in the medical sector where you have blue sky research; you have people figuring out what different things you can sell and then later on you have companies take that to market. It's incredibly important that governments do not go in and say, "We believe that you can have synfuels." I'm not even sure what synfuels is.

reason: Turning coal into natural gas or oil.

Lomborg: That's probably a very, very bad idea for so many different reasons, but primarily because, why on Earth would governments be good at making that sort of call? What governments should do is not focus on the production side but focus on getting lots and lots of people doing research.

The way I envision it is that you should have a lot of X Prizes: low-cost prizes that spur individual researchers to come up with slightly better technologies in a lot of different areas-for instance, solar cells. How can you improve this a little bit? How can you, for instance, make it water-tight? How you can make it wrap around so that it's more flexible? The Gates Foundation, I think, did a good job in actually asking researchers to sit down and say what are the 46 things we'd like to see proffers on, and then have people spend money on researchers, not on actual production but researchers to do these kinds of things. Ninety percent of these are going to be dead ends, but that doesn't matter, because they're very cheap and what matters is that we get the last 10 percent.

reason: Let me push you a little further on that. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development did a report in 2003 where economists looked at differential returns to research and development, specifically defense, private, and then public-sector research and development. To their surprise, they could not find that public-sector or defense R&D expenditures had any effect whatsoever on economic growth. In fact, government R&D spending seemed to produce a crowding-out phenomenon and may actually have slowed economic growth.

Lomborg: Your argument could be, well, if we know we almost always do it wrong, why do it time and again? I would say that depends a little bit on the way you think that it's possible to frame the debate. If no matter what you do you end up down the same track, yeah, maybe we shouldn't do it. But I was at the Copenhagen Consensus presentation by [McGill University economist] Christopher Green, who is saying that a big low-carbon energy R&D push is the only thing that will even enable us to be able to fix climate change in the medium and long term.

It takes some effort to get the politicians to understand that $25 billion of research and development doesn't mean that we should build one big factory to do something you like in a district where you need some votes. Instead it means getting a lot of researchers to do R&D.

We have good theoretical arguments why this might work. It might also be that it doesn't work. We'll have to see where the experts rank it.

reason: I listened to Green's presentation, and I read his perspective paper. To me he basically made a plea to economists to start thinking about how one can create ways to direct research without political interference. He was saying we don't know how to do that yet.

Lomborg: I would tend to disagree a little bit because we've done this for 50 years in the medical sector. We have lots and lots of people doing medical research, and I don't know whether there's good evidence whether that's paid off, but it seems to me that we've had quite a number of breakthroughs that came from public money that we wouldn't have had otherwise. These breakthroughs later on led to more or less obvious investments from private companies to make useful products. We would want something on a similar scale for low-carbon energy research.

It's very important to get people to realize that if we're going to fix climate change, we need to invest in a lot of cheap researchers having smart ideas rather than big projects that make the politicians feel comfortable when they cut the ribbon and say, "See, now we've done something about global warming."

reason: Has the Copenhagen Consensus had an effect on public policy? I know the Danish prime minister mentioned that his government shifted development aid to AIDS medicines in developing countries.

Lomborg: I was told by some of the people at the [U.S.] National Security Council that one of the reasons why President Bush gave $1.2 billion to malaria was because of the Copenhagen Consensus result.

Of course, it's always going to be very hard to say what specific outcome was caused by this list. I would argue that the much stronger benefit of the Copenhagen Consensus is that it pushes policy makers and philanthropists way before anything is ever decided. When the first committee meets in the bowels of a big organization to talk about what should be our next big push, somebody's going to have more likelihood of saying, "Why are we talking about No. 17 instead of No. 3 on the list of Copenhagen Consensus priorities?"

reason: The Copenhagen Consensus process does not take into account institutional factors, as far as I can tell. Why is that? After all, most of the problems of the world are the result of flaws in institutions.

Lomborg: It's very clear that money is not the only thing that works or that changes things in the world.

reason: For example, the development economist William Easterly points out that the West has spent $2.3 trillion on development aid for the last 50 years with virtually nothing to show for it.

Lomborg: Yeah. I tend to disagree with the "virtually nothing" claim, but it's very clear that it has been nowhere near as spectacular as many people would have hoped.

The main point is that one thing shouldn't necessarily be the opponent of another thing. The Copenhagen Consensus is one idea. It's only one of many good ideas that are going to bring the world forward, but I think it's an important part of that discussion. Clearly, with regard to the money that we spend, we at least want to think about how we can spend well. This is also one of the reasons why, for instance, corruption is no longer on the Copenhagen Consensus list. Yes, it's incredibly important, but there are no good solutions that the West can come up with and make sure that they implement in the Third World.

I'm perfectly aware that you should also engage people in thinking about institutional change or the setup of the international system, but what we focus on is, given where we are right now, what can you do with a little extra money? What can you marginally do? It's not the only relevant question in the world, but I would argue it's not an unimportant one.

reason: What's the next project?

Lomborg: We have a lot of projects. I'm doing Copenhagen Consensus for individual countries: for Ghana, for Zambia, for Chile, possibly for Peru, possibly for Mali. And then we're thinking of doing something towards the next climate conference in 2009 in Copenhagen. Maybe we should just do a Copenhagen Consensus for climate, where we get some of the world's top climate economists together and say, "There's a bunch of different packages on the table, what do you think?" And perhaps have some of the negotiators play around with what works best, so that we spend our money well, or better.

We're also thinking of doing one for the world's total environment-air pollution, clean drinking water, all the other things. There is a tendency right now in which global warming has subsumed all other environmental issues. While global warming is definitely an important environmental issue, there's a problem if it takes all of the time to the exclusion of everything else.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #89 on: October 03, 2008, 07:47:58 PM »
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive? Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity. Here is a famous letter from chief Seattle to pres Washington. Its historical accuracy is questionable, but you can't deny the wisdom contained within:

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.
Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man.

We are part of the earth and it is part of us.

The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers.

The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man--all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves.
He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land.

But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.

This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors.

If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people.

The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs.

The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.

He leaves his father's graves behind, and he does not care.

He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care.

His father's grave, and his children's birthright, are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads.

His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different from your ways.

The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect's wings.

But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand.

The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand.

The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with the pinion pine.

The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath--the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath.
The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes.

Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench.

But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh.

And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition: The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.
I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.

I've seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train.

I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit.

For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it.

Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.

We may be brothers after all.

We shall see.

One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover, our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white.

This earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.

The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.

That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

Where is the thicket? Gone.
Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival."

We are ruining the world for future generations. Do we really have a right to complain about gas being 4$ a gallon? Are we really entitled to cheap dirty fuels? I think the future generations would say no, because they are the ones that have to live in, and clean up our mess. Whatever we do to this world, we do to our selves, and more importantly, to the generations that have not yet come. So lets clean up our act, because the world doesn't belong to us. It is sappy I know, but it is the truth!  ;)
When life gives you lemons make lemonade
When life gives you hemlock, do NOT make hemlockade!


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17936
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #90 on: October 03, 2008, 10:03:50 PM »
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive?

**Is there anyone out there that is pro-smog, or likes mercury in fish?**

Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity. Here is a famous letter from chief Seattle to pres Washington. Its historical accuracy is questionable, but you can't deny the wisdom contained within:

**The  historical accuracy isn't questionable, it's an outright fraud. Also, George Washington died in 1799, so the letter, which was written by a Texas screenwriter in the early 1970's probably wasn't intended for him.  :wink:  Yes, Texas based screenwriters are well known for their spiritual depth and wisdom.**

We are ruining the world for future generations. Do we really have a right to complain about gas being 4$ a gallon?

**Last time I checked, we are free to complain about anything we wish to complain about, like smog and mercury in fish, as well as high gas prices.**

 Are we really entitled to cheap dirty fuels?

**The next time you buy gas, insist on paying double. I doubt the station owner will complain.**

I think the future generations would say no, because they are the ones that have to live in, and clean up our mess.

**They have to live with what prior generations have done before, both good and bad, just like every human generation has had to do since the start of our species.**

Whatever we do to this world, we do to our selves, and more importantly, to the generations that have not yet come. So lets clean up our act, because the world doesn't belong to us. It is sappy I know, but it is the truth!  ;)

**Your sentiment is fine, but what are your tangible policy suggestions? Sure, smog is bad. Go a month without using/consuming anything that added to air pollution as a side effect. Let us know how that works out for you.**


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #91 on: October 03, 2008, 10:49:41 PM »
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive?

**Is there anyone out there that is pro-smog, or likes mercury in fish?**

Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity. Here is a famous letter from chief Seattle to pres Washington. Its historical accuracy is questionable, but you can't deny the wisdom contained within:

**The  historical accuracy isn't questionable, it's an outright fraud. Also, George Washington died in 1799, so the letter, which was written by a Texas screenwriter in the early 1970's probably wasn't intended for him.  :wink:  Yes, Texas based screenwriters are well known for their spiritual depth and wisdom.**

We are ruining the world for future generations. Do we really have a right to complain about gas being 4$ a gallon?

**Last time I checked, we are free to complain about anything we wish to complain about, like smog and mercury in fish, as well as high gas prices.**

 Are we really entitled to cheap dirty fuels?

**The next time you buy gas, insist on paying double. I doubt the station owner will complain.**

I think the future generations would say no, because they are the ones that have to live in, and clean up our mess.

**They have to live with what prior generations have done before, both good and bad, just like every human generation has had to do since the start of our species.**

Whatever we do to this world, we do to our selves, and more importantly, to the generations that have not yet come. So lets clean up our act, because the world doesn't belong to us. It is sappy I know, but it is the truth!  ;)

**Your sentiment is fine, but what are your tangible policy suggestions? Sure, smog is bad. Go a month without using/consuming anything that added to air pollution as a side effect. Let us know how that works out for you.**

Sometimes fiction is the best teacher I guess?

I don't buy gas, because I didn't buy a new car when my last car died. I saw this fuel crisis coming from a mile away.

Yes, you are correct. I have to live in the world my parents, and their parents created. And they have made a bloody mess of things ;)  I do my best to lead from the front and make changes in my life so I am not contributing to the problem. I have no debt, but this comes with its own price. I live a fairly simple and frugal ( I actually like to say "spartan" because it sounds tough and cooler! ) life. I don't buy stupid things like bottled water, because our local water is perfectly safe. I try and buy food from the local farmers when at all possible. There are a lot of little things people can do, but they are lazy, or don't care, or think it isn't their responsibility. Create less waste. It really isn't that hard. My point was entitlement. Are we "entitled" to cheap dirty fuel. I don't think we are. Not if we care about the people coming after us.

My sentiment is easy to back. Invest in renewable and clean energy sources. The conversion won't be a painless process, but it is immature to expect it to be. Big problems are not solved without sacrifices. There are many promising technologies on the horizon, but there will be some pain involved. Personally I think we need to start by raising the mpg standards. Cars are what people focus on when they talk about getting out of the fossil fuel game, but I think getting reliable renewable energy sources for our homes and businesses is a  much better investment to start with. Cars will follow along on their own.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2008, 10:53:27 PM by Jonobos »
When life gives you lemons make lemonade
When life gives you hemlock, do NOT make hemlockade!


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17936
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #92 on: October 03, 2008, 11:17:25 PM »

Sometimes fiction is the best teacher I guess?

**That's Al Gore's theory. I personally think that we should make policy decisions based on facts rather than emotions.**

I don't buy gas, because I didn't buy a new car when my last car died. I saw this fuel crisis coming from a mile away.

**Do you use public transportation?**

Yes, you are correct. I have to live in the world my parents, and their parents created.

**As do we all.**

And they have made a bloody mess of things ;) 

**Depends on what standard you use to determine if things are good or bad.**

I do my best to lead from the front and make changes in my life so I am not contributing to the problem.

**Just by existing, you contribute to the impact humanity has on the planet. You may shape your lifestyle in such a manner as to lessen the impact, but you still leave "footprints" all the same.**

I have no debt, but this comes with its own price. I live a fairly simple and frugal ( I actually like to say "spartan" because it sounds tough and cooler! ) life. I don't buy stupid things like bottled water, because our local water is perfectly safe. I try and buy food from the local farmers when at all possible. There are a lot of little things people can do, but they are lazy, or don't care, or think it isn't their responsibility. Create less waste. It really isn't that hard. My point was entitlement. Are we "entitled" to cheap dirty fuel. I don't think we are. Not if we care about the people coming after us.

**Are you entitled to the good things that come from our technologically advanced-dirty fuel using society?**

My sentiment is easy to back. Invest in renewable and clean energy sources.

**Invest with what money? It sounds like your spartan lifestyle doesn't allow for you to fund much R&D for alternative fuel startups.**

The conversion won't be a painless process, but it is immature to expect it to be. Big problems are not solved without sacrifices. There are many promising technologies on the horizon, but there will be some pain involved.

**Hmmmmmm. Pain, sacrifice and pain. You might want to find a different way to advocate your position if you want to win the general public over to your way of thinking. Exactly what kind of pain do you anticipate? Does Al Gore still get to keep his private jet and mansion?**

Personally I think we need to start by raising the mpg standards. Cars are what people focus on when they talk about getting out of the fossil fuel game, but I think getting reliable renewable energy sources for our homes and businesses is a  much better investment to start with. Cars will follow along on their own.

**What reliable, renewable energy source are you talking about?**


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #93 on: October 04, 2008, 12:06:49 AM »
**That's Al Gore's theory. I personally think that we should make policy decisions based on facts rather than emotions.**

That is a cheap shot. I think you will recall me saying that global warming is not the issue we should be talking about. Play nice ;)

**Do you use public transportation?**

Yep, and it is not powered by gas. I am not making any claims that I don't use fossil fuels. If I had the option to somehow remove them completely I would do my best to do so... but that is hardly and option right now. For now I do what I can. For what it is worth my carbon footprint came up in the negative... I am not entirely sure about the inner workings of those calculations, so I don't put too much stock in them.

I have found mountain bikes to be quite enjoyable.

**Depends on what standard you use to determine if things are good or bad.**

Well, I think about how things could be better instead of sitting on my backside being content with the way things are now.

**Just by existing, you contribute to the impact humanity has on the planet. You may shape your lifestyle in such a manner as to lessen the impact, but you still leave "footprints" all the same.**

I never claimed otherwise. I do what I can which is more than a vast majority of other people. I don't even expect most people to go as far as I do. Little changes add up to big changes.

**Are you entitled to the good things that come from our technologically advanced-dirty fuel using society?**

I am not denying its use in making us what we are. I am saying we need to get away from dependence on it.

**Invest with what money? It sounds like your spartan lifestyle doesn't allow for you to fund much R&D for alternative fuel startups.**

I will however be in the market for an alternative fuel powered car when they become a reasonable option. This is really something the government needs to be involved with. It involves our infrastructure and the free market can't change that on its own. I know government interference pains us all, but if we let them tap our phones we can let them fund some R & D can't we? This is in the best interest of our nations security, and there is no denying that.

**Hmmmmmm. Pain, sacrifice and pain. You might want to find a different way to advocate your position if you want to win the general public over to your way of thinking. Exactly what kind of pain do you anticipate? Does Al Gore still get to keep his private jet and mansion?**

Hey, we new Iraq would involve lots of pain and sacrifice, but here we are right? People are not adverse to these things if they think the cause is good. We have yet to have anyone make a realistic case for it. I am saying that it is because we are taking the wrong approach. Global warming (or climate change, or whatever the new catch phrase is) isn't it. Talk about things we can solve like smog, and dumping toxic chemicals and garbage into the ocean and people will get behind it. Talk about energy independence. We saw how effective this was in these last presidential debates. Talk about how oil is entangling us with unstable countries with dangerous governments. This stuff is starting to happen I think. Don't you?

And Al Gore can keep whatever he paid for... he can look like a jerk for owning it, but ultimately it is his I suppose.

**What reliable, renewable energy source are you talking about?**

Take your pick. There are lots to choose from. Hydro-electric, geothermal, wind, solar. They all have promise. It depends on where you are, and what is most efficient. I am not even opposed to nuclear. We had a bill in the works to put up a bunch of wind towers where I live... but rich people thought they were too ugly so it got shot down :( Then they went right back to whining about the costs of power... go figure... I just saw a thing on the discovery channel about a guy that beamed solar energy over 60 miles with microwaves. Tell me that isn't cool!
When life gives you lemons make lemonade
When life gives you hemlock, do NOT make hemlockade!


  • Guest
Dichotomy Denial
« Reply #94 on: October 04, 2008, 09:26:30 AM »
Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems.

I'm not much a fan of that dichotomy. To my mind there are those who are interested in peer reviewed, replicable science steeped in the traditions of free inquiry, and those who want to stampede to a monolithic conclusion and shove aside all who fail to embrace their singular pursuit. Think deniers v. believers is a relativistic straw man meant to imply that free inquiry and unquestioned belief are part of a continuum, either end of which is equally unpalatable. I'd argue that there is nothing wrong with free inquiry, and everything wrong with monolithic unarguable belief.

As GM points out, no one is arguing for mercury tainted waters or smog. What I like about the skeptical environmentalist's approach is that it's based on a benefit cost analysis approach that I think is most likely to succeed over the long term.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
    • View Profile
Re: Dichotomy Denial
« Reply #95 on: October 04, 2008, 10:24:24 AM »
I'm not much a fan of that dichotomy. To my mind there are those who are interested in peer reviewed, replicable science steeped in the traditions of free inquiry, and those who want to stampede to a monolithic conclusion and shove aside all who fail to embrace their singular pursuit. Think deniers v. believers is a relativistic straw man meant to imply that free inquiry and unquestioned belief are part of a continuum, either end of which is equally unpalatable. I'd argue that there is nothing wrong with free inquiry, and everything wrong with monolithic unarguable belief.

On most things I would agree with you, but on this issue we can't even agree what the cause is. What we can do is address related issues which are things that everyone would be happy about right?

As GM points out, no one is arguing for mercury tainted waters or smog. What I like about the skeptical environmentalist's approach is that it's based on a benefit cost analysis approach that I think is most likely to succeed over the long term.

No one is arguing for them, but what are we doing about them? We are phrasing bills in the context of climate change (which is a debatable subject) instead of in terms of smog and mercury in the fish (which no one in there right mind is going to debate.) That is the point I am trying to make. Climate change is a giant bureaucratic nightmare that is snowballing out of control. Both sides are getting caught up in the debate, when they agree that something needs to be done. Does it matter if your reason for leaving the oil economy behind is because it has a destabilizing result in our national security, or because it is polluting the air? Most people seem to think it needs to happen. We are stuck on the definition of why... its sort of silly don't you think? :P
When life gives you lemons make lemonade
When life gives you hemlock, do NOT make hemlockade!


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17936
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #96 on: October 04, 2008, 01:00:41 PM »
**That's Al Gore's theory. I personally think that we should make policy decisions based on facts rather than emotions.**

That is a cheap shot. I think you will recall me saying that global warming is not the issue we should be talking about. Play nice ;)

***No, i'm saying that knowingly creating bogus books and movies for profit and political power is what's he has done and it should be acknowledged as such.***

**Do you use public transportation?**

Yep, and it is not powered by gas. I am not making any claims that I don't use fossil fuels. If I had the option to somehow remove them completely I would do my best to do so... but that is hardly and option right now. For now I do what I can. For what it is worth my carbon footprint came up in the negative... I am not entirely sure about the inner workings of those calculations, so I don't put too much stock in them.

***Do you doubt that it was built and is maintained by using fossil fuels?***

I have found mountain bikes to be quite enjoyable.

***They are fun. Not everyone lives in such a place or lifestyle that would make them a viable form of transportation though.***

**Depends on what standard you use to determine if things are good or bad.**

Well, I think about how things could be better instead of sitting on my backside being content with the way things are now.

***Fine, but recognize that along with pollution, technology brings many things that lengthen and enhance one's quality of life.***

**Just by existing, you contribute to the impact humanity has on the planet. You may shape your lifestyle in such a manner as to lessen the impact, but you still leave "footprints" all the same.**

I never claimed otherwise. I do what I can which is more than a vast majority of other people. I don't even expect most people to go as far as I do. Little changes add up to big changes.

**Are you entitled to the good things that come from our technologically advanced-dirty fuel using society?**

I am not denying its use in making us what we are. I am saying we need to get away from dependence on it.

**Invest with what money? It sounds like your spartan lifestyle doesn't allow for you to fund much R&D for alternative fuel startups.**

I will however be in the market for an alternative fuel powered car when they become a reasonable option. This is really something the government needs to be involved with.

***When has the government ever successfully caused a shift in the free market that the free market wouldn't have done on it's own?***

It involves our infrastructure and the free market can't change that on its own.

***You say that, based on what?***

I know government interference pains us all, but if we let them tap our phones we can let them fund some R & D can't we?

***False choice. Who has a better track record of funding R&D and bringing viable technology into existance, gov't or the free market? BTW, the US military funds a huge amount of research on alternative energy.***

This is in the best interest of our nations security, and there is no denying that.

***I don't, and as I already pointed out, the US mil is already handing out lots of R&D money for alternative fuel.***

**Hmmmmmm. Pain, sacrifice and pain. You might want to find a different way to advocate your position if you want to win the general public over to your way of thinking. Exactly what kind of pain do you anticipate? Does Al Gore still get to keep his private jet and mansion?**

Hey, we new Iraq would involve lots of pain and sacrifice, but here we are right? People are not adverse to these things if they think the cause is good. We have yet to have anyone make a realistic case for it. I am saying that it is because we are taking the wrong approach. Global warming (or climate change, or whatever the new catch phrase is) isn't it. Talk about things we can solve like smog, and dumping toxic chemicals and garbage into the ocean and people will get behind it. Talk about energy independence. We saw how effective this was in these last presidential debates. Talk about how oil is entangling us with unstable countries with dangerous governments. This stuff is starting to happen I think. Don't you?

***Sure, but until we have alternative energy sources that are cost effective, we need to use oil (including domestically produced oil) as a bridge.***

And Al Gore can keep whatever he paid for... he can look like a jerk for owning it, but ultimately it is his I suppose.

**What reliable, renewable energy source are you talking about?**

Take your pick. There are lots to choose from. Hydro-electric, geothermal, wind, solar. They all have promise.

***Having promise is a bit different than something that is viable right here, right now.***

It depends on where you are, and what is most efficient. I am not even opposed to nuclear. We had a bill in the works to put up a bunch of wind towers where I live... but rich people thought they were too ugly so it got shot down :( Then they went right back to whining about the costs of power... go figure... I just saw a thing on the discovery channel about a guy that beamed solar energy over 60 miles with microwaves. Tell me that isn't cool!

***Lots of cool things in the pipeline, still we need off the shelf tech that's cost effective today. Ethanol is one thing that can be looked at. My new vehicle is a flex fuel vehicle specifically because of this.***
« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 01:30:39 PM by G M »


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17936
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #97 on: October 04, 2008, 01:33:07 PM »
**This could go many places, but I think it fits best here.**

Fairness, idealism and other atrocities
Commencement advice you're unlikely to hear elsewhere.
By P.J. O'Rourke
May 4, 2008
Well, here you are at your college graduation. And I know what you're thinking: "Gimme the sheepskin and get me outta here!" But not so fast. First you have to listen to a commencement speech.

Don't moan. I'm not going to "pass the wisdom of one generation down to the next." I'm a member of the 1960s generation. We didn't have any wisdom.

We were the moron generation. We were the generation that believed we could stop the Vietnam War by growing our hair long and dressing like circus clowns. We believed drugs would change everything -- which they did, for John Belushi. We believed in free love. Yes, the love was free, but we paid a high price for the sex.

My generation spoiled everything for you. It has always been the special prerogative of young people to look and act weird and shock grown-ups. But my generation exhausted the Earth's resources of the weird. Weird clothes -- we wore them. Weird beards -- we grew them. Weird words and phrases -- we said them. So, when it came your turn to be original and look and act weird, all you had left was to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues. Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize.

So now, it's my job to give you advice. But I'm thinking: You're finishing 16 years of education, and you've heard all the conventional good advice you can stand. So, let me offer some relief:

1. Go out and make a bunch of money!

Here we are living in the world's most prosperous country, surrounded by all the comforts, conveniences and security that money can provide. Yet no American political, intellectual or cultural leader ever says to young people, "Go out and make a bunch of money." Instead, they tell you that money can't buy happiness. Maybe, but money can rent it.

There's nothing the matter with honest moneymaking. Wealth is not a pizza, where if I have too many slices you have to eat the Domino's box. In a free society, with the rule of law and property rights, no one loses when someone else gets rich.

2. Don't be an idealist!

Don't chain yourself to a redwood tree. Instead, be a corporate lawyer and make $500,000 a year. No matter how much you cheat the IRS, you'll still end up paying $100,000 in property, sales and excise taxes. That's $100,000 to schools, sewers, roads, firefighters and police. You'll be doing good for society. Does chaining yourself to a redwood tree do society $100,000 worth of good?

Idealists are also bullies. The idealist says, "I care more about the redwood trees than you do. I care so much I can't eat. I can't sleep. It broke up my marriage. And because I care more than you do, I'm a better person. And because I'm the better person, I have the right to boss you around."

Get a pair of bolt cutters and liberate that tree.

Who does more for the redwoods and society anyway -- the guy chained to a tree or the guy who founds the "Green Travel Redwood Tree-Hug Tour Company" and makes a million by turning redwoods into a tourist destination, a valuable resource that people will pay just to go look at?

So make your contribution by getting rich. Don't be an idealist.

3. Get politically uninvolved!

All politics stink. Even democracy stinks. Imagine if our clothes were selected by the majority of shoppers, which would be teenage girls. I'd be standing here with my bellybutton exposed. Imagine deciding the dinner menu by family secret ballot. I've got three kids and three dogs in my family. We'd be eating Froot Loops and rotten meat.

But let me make a distinction between politics and politicians. Some people are under the misapprehension that all politicians stink. Impeach George W. Bush, and everything will be fine. Nab Ted Kennedy on a DUI, and the nation's problems will be solved.

But the problem isn't politicians -- it's politics. Politics won't allow for the truth. And we can't blame the politicians for that. Imagine what even a little truth would sound like on today's campaign trail:

"No, I can't fix public education. The problem isn't the teachers unions or a lack of funding for salaries, vouchers or more computer equipment The problem is your kids!"

4. Forget about fairness!

We all get confused about the contradictory messages that life and politics send.

Life sends the message, "I'd better not be poor. I'd better get rich. I'd better make more money than other people." Meanwhile, politics sends us the message, "Some people make more money than others. Some are rich while others are poor. We'd better close that 'income disparity gap.' It's not fair!"

Well, I am here to advocate for unfairness. I've got a 10-year-old at home. She's always saying, "That's not fair." When she says this, I say, "Honey, you're cute. That's not fair. Your family is pretty well off. That's not fair. You were born in America. That's not fair. Darling, you had better pray to God that things don't start getting fair for you." What we need is more income, even if it means a bigger income disparity gap.

5. Be a religious extremist!

So, avoid politics if you can. But if you absolutely cannot resist, read the Bible for political advice -- even if you're a Buddhist, atheist or whatever. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who believes that God is involved in politics. On the contrary. Observe politics in this country. Observe politics around the world. Observe politics through history. Does it look like God's involved?

The Bible is very clear about one thing: Using politics to create fairness is a sin. Observe the Tenth Commandment. The first nine commandments concern theological principles and social law: Thou shalt not make graven images, steal, kill, et cetera. Fair enough. But then there's the tenth: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

Here are God's basic rules about how we should live, a brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts. And, right at the end of it we read, "Don't envy your buddy because he has an ox or a donkey." Why did that make the top 10? Why would God, with just 10 things to tell Moses, include jealousy about livestock?

Well, think about how important this commandment is to a community, to a nation, to a democracy. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't whine about what the people across the street have. Get rich and get your own.

Now, one last thing:

6. Don't listen to your elders!

After all, if the old person standing up here actually knew anything worth telling, he'd be charging you for it.

P.J. O'Rourke, a correspondent for the Weekly Standard and the Atlantic, is the author, most recently, of "On The Wealth of Nations." A longer version of this article appears in Change magazine, which reports on trends and issues in higher education.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 17936
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #98 on: October 04, 2008, 01:38:34 PM »
No Reason We Can't Get Cheaper Oil--Just Drill!
By Newt Gingrich
Posted: Friday, June 20, 2008

New York Post 
Publication Date: June 19, 2008

AEI senior fellow Newt Gingrich recommends four steps to Congress as part of a policy agenda that would help lower the price of gasoline. In order to ease supply-side restrictions, Gingrich recommends suspending congressional bans on exploring oil-shale deposits and on offshore oil and gas exploration. He also suggests using tax incentives and government-sponsored prizes to incentivize the auto industry to develop more efficient flex-fuel and hydrogen vehicles. Members of Congress have a clear choice: support more domestic energy production, or make way for other countries that do.

Senior Fellow
 Newt Gingrich
Americans don't like paying $4 for a gallon of gasoline or $5 for a gallon of diesel. Not one bit.

Nearly 1 million Americans have signed our "Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less." petition at

The language is simple but powerful: "We, therefore, the undersigned citizens of the United States, petition the US Congress to act immediately to lower gasoline (and other fuels derived from oil including diesel) prices by authorizing the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries."

The choice for our elected leaders is simple: Either take action now to lower our fuel prices or the American people will take action in the November election.

The choice for our elected leaders is simple: Either take action now to lower our fuel prices or the American people will take action in the November election.

The choice for the politicians is really that simple, as are the first four steps for developing more American energy now:

End the congressional ban on exploring the oil-shale deposits in the Green River Formation area of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
A 2005 RAND study estimates that about 800 billion barrels of oil trapped in shale are technically recoverable from the Green River Formation. This amount is more than three times the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

End the congressional ban on oil and gas exploration offshore.
The US Minerals Management Service estimates that America's outer continental shelf holds about 19 billion barrels of undiscovered recoverable oil and 85.7 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered recoverable natural gas. But Congress has outlawed development there--even though the Chinese are planning to explore for oil within 60 miles of the Florida coast.

Provide tax incentives for automakers to retool to produce flex fuel cars, similar to Brazil--which will have 80 percent of new cars with flex-fuel engines by 2011.
A rapid move to a situation where substantially all new cars sold in the United States could take a mixture of oil- and alcohol-based fuels would put downward pressure on oil prices--as consumers benefit from the competition among oil, ethanol and methanol suppliers.

Establish large ($1 billion-plus tax-free) prizes for key breakthroughs in a hydrogen engine, a car that gets more than 100 miles to the gallon, safe disposal of nuclear waste and designing a next-generation clean-coal system, etc.
Prizes can be a means to unleash tremendous creativity in solving key energy and environmental challenges.

Congress should also create larger and longer-term tax credits for wind, solar and biofuels so there's a maximum diversification of energy sources as we make a long-term transition to cleaner forms of energy.

These four steps are just a start.

If we want less expensive gasoline, diesel and other fuels and to reduce our dependence on foreign dictators, then we have to demand that politicians cut through the red tape and put policies in place that will increase domestic production.

It isn't possible to regulate, tax or sue our way to lower fuel prices. While alternative energies are desirable in the long term, Americans need relief now.

The fact is, there's no reason why Americans can't have safe, abundant and relatively inexpensive energy.

America still has the world's largest supply of fossil fuels. We have more coal than any other country by a huge margin. We have abundant oil and gas reserves. We have the potential for nuclear, wind, solar and biofuels in tremendous quantities.

And, critically, America is still technologically the most advanced nation in the world, despite decades of bad policies and politics.

Gas prices will likely be the defining issue in the fall elections. The American people want real change. As evidenced by the more than 800,000 signatories to the "Drill Now. Drill Here. Pay Less." petition in the last three weeks, they want a change in our energy policy.

For the members wishing to return to Congress after November, the choice is clear: Support "Drill Here. Drill Now."--or make way for challengers that do.

Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI.


  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
    • View Profile
Re: Environmental issues
« Reply #99 on: October 04, 2008, 01:42:18 PM »
I agree with almost everything you said GM.

The "bridge" theory is a little wonky. We won't benefit from a single drop of that domestic oil for many many years. That is hardly a bridge. I am not saying we should not drill, but the bridge theory doesn't cut it. We will probably need the little we can drill offshore for a long time, so its good to get started now. Someday it will pay off.

The free market can't make this shift alone. It involves powerlines, powerplants, and all sorts of other goodies that are not privately owned. The free market can "drive" the change, but much of the work to realize it has to come from the government. There is no way around it. I had no idea the military invested serious money into alternative fuels. Who says we have too much military spending? :P

The buses where I live run on natural gas. Yes they were built using fossil fuels and to some extent require them for maintenance. But the fact that they don't run on them is a huge improvement. They have been operating successfully like this for years now. The University has installed a hydrogen pump, and is converting many of its vehicles. The concept seems to be taking off as well. Like you said, it depends on where you live and what is available... but we do have the means to start actively making changes!

That is a funny article GM. It gave me a hearty belly laugh! :D
When life gives you lemons make lemonade
When life gives you hemlock, do NOT make hemlockade!