|The Week That Was
December 16, 2000
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:
A Washington Post editorial contrasts the views of Al Gore and George
Bush on global warming. They did not print our
response, which tries to put them straight; so here it is.
The Week That Was December 16, 2000 brought to you by SEPP
Please re-read the article by W. Kenneth Davis about the coming California electricity crisis. It came rather quickly, didn't it? We note that the governor has turned off the lights on the official Christmas tree. Leftish economist Paul Krugman, in a NY Times op-ed, blames it all on the free market. He would, wouldn't he?
From the LA Times (12/11/00):
" .the price of electricity for Monday delivery hit a record average of $611 per megawatt-hour on the California Power Exchange, where most of the state's electricity is bought and sold.
The highest price of the day was $821.80 for the 7 a.m. hour. "Everyone is waking up then. That morning coffee is draining the grid" Because of the price cap, electrons were fleeing the state in search of prices as high as $5,000 a megawatt-hour last week
Electricity has become so pricey in the Pacific Northwest that Kaiser Aluminum Corp., the second-largest U.S. aluminum maker, said Sunday that it will shut its smelter in Mead, Wash., for about 10 months and lay off about 400 employees. it has resold the electricity it was to receive this month from the Bonneville Power Administration, netting proceeds of $52 million, or nearly nine times the $5.9 million that the company has earned so far this year."
SEPP comment: Nuclear electricity costs about $30 a megawatt-hour
Media reaction to SEPP science briefings at COP-6
The two briefings, delivered by our four-member panel (Richard Courtney, UK, Harry Priem, Netherlands, Fred Singer, and Gerd-Rainer Weber, Germany), were reported on by major Dutch papers and the leading weekly Elseviers. The Wall Street Journal carried a great op-ed by Jim Glassman (Nov 28), the Washington Times carried a front-page story (Nov 25), and the Daily Telegraph (London) reported in detail (Nov 26). Martin Wolf wrote a superb article (Financial Times, Nov 29), while The Economist (Nov 18) distorted the underlying science. (See below).
We link you to the editorial from the Sunday Telegraph (Nov 26) and reprint here excerpts from other media reports:
1. UPI report:
Many prominent scientists attending this conference are complaining that science is not a topic in discussions of what certainly appears to be an inherently scientific subject. That approach came under siege during two briefings here by researchers from the United States and several European countries, three of them "expert peer reviewers" of the IPCC product. They criticized the science purportedly supporting the IPCC documents, particularly the Summary for Policymakers.
Led by Dr. Fred Singer, of the University of Virginia and the Science and Environment Policy Project, these scientists came from Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to air their views. They addressed the measured temperatures, and the flaws in temperature projections that are based on computer climate models. The focus of their indignation, however, was the content of the recently leaked and anonymously authored Summary for the latest round of IPCC studies. These researchers drew attention to the fact that the science report has specific, identified authors and peer reviewers. The Summary, however, was anonymously authored and not subjected to any critique prior.
Dr. Richard Courtney, also an IPCC "expert reviewer," who is with the European Science and Environment Forum (UK), passionately argued a lack of measured "global" warming. He demonstrated that nearly all measured increases in temperatures have occurred in regions, for example Siberia, where data are sparse and not continuous, and are therefore doubtful. He speculated that the remote stations may be less well-maintained than the regularly checked stations in the U.S. and Western Europe.
Dr. Singer speculated that the urban heat island effect (large cities generating heat) is likely responsible for the differential in the less rural measurements. He admitted this was speculation, as a "best effort" to reconcile the difference between surface measurements, which show warming, and satellite and weather balloon measurements, which affirm each other and do not show any warming. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences affirmed the satellite and balloon data just this year.
Courtney, an avowed socialist, stressed that the scientists were of varied political philosophies and thus were not joined or motivated by politics. Indeed, he asserted the opposite, saying "chickens do come home to roost; given time, these scientific flaws will come out but, it seems, that only after an agreement which harms the poor is underway." He stated that, at that time, "[journalists] won't blame the politicians who rammed this through, but the scientists. And that's me. And I object."
Participating scientists in today's briefing, co-sponsored by the "Cooler Heads Coalition" of public policy organizations, focused on fostering debate over the science and economics surrounding Kyoto, also included a geophysicist and an expert on severe weather events. They addressed a packed room liberally peppered with well-pierced youths who initially expressed displeasure with this dissenting opinion. The audience, however, settled down and in fact stayed in large numbers for extended discussions with the scientists afterward in the hallways.
IPCC Political Scientists
How often has media claimed that thousands of scientists agree that man's emissions are dangerous to the planet and they say that those scientists are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?
Three OFFICIAL REVIEWERS of IPCC say we have been misinformed.
They presented an unusual, but welcome sidebar for a standing-room-only crowd. They unequivocally stated "members of the IPCC are nations (80 to 120 nations), not scientists." As such, their point was that it is misleading to refer to IPCC as thousands of scientists who are in some sort of agreement. IPCC is based in Geneva as part of UNEP.
How do these IPCC nations work?
Nations elect a bureau and working groups of between five to twenty science authors. Summaries of the working groups are drafted by a small subset of these contributors. IPCC is not science. At its best, it is an assessment of science. At its worst, it is political science.
"IPCC is oriented toward searching for supportive evidence," cautioned one presenter. Evidence that is not supportive of the global warming hypothesis is cited as "uncertainty." Those are political choices, not science assessments.
Despite acknowledged selectivity of data, the role asked of IPCC nations expands with every meeting. European Union (EU) this week has suggested that IPCC create methodologies for Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs). Such a role goes far beyond assessment, but is perhaps unavoidable, given the necessity to think that we know what might scientifically be happening as a result of human activity.
Participants at COP6 are depending on IPCC work. In the Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) contact group, members decided that "guidance on the biome approach should be sought from the IPCC." In another forum, Brazil and Peru asked acceptance of the "natural regeneration is a management approach," according to the IPCC Special Report."
So, more and more of the policy behind this Kyoto Protocol is depending upon a group *¨the IPCC*¨ that is seen to be more objective than, in reality, it is.
How did IPCC science end up hostage to politics?
The process appears to divide IPCC scientists and not seek their collaboration in the end result. "Scientists never get their reports back," lamented one author. Politicians write the policy summaries, not the scientists. Politicians leave much out of the final reports. "Summaries make the message by including, at the last moment, new authors such as Michael Grubb," offered one presenter.
Rarely is underlying work in total agreement. IPCC chapters may actually disagree with each other and may have reached different conclusions, but final reports are cleansed to present one supportive position. Working group chair Ben Santer became infamous a few years back with his last-minute changes and subsequent cleansing of the underlying wording in Chapter 8 of the Second Assessment Report (SAR). Santer edited out several conclusions of working scientists that were disclaimers to the thesis that unique anthropogenic forcing (human influence upon climate) was evident.
"[IPCC chairman] Bob Watson is determined to drive the scare factor up," commented one of the lead authors at this sidebar about the two presentations in plenary sessions that had been made by Watson. "In the end, they are just politicians," concluded the scientist tiredly.
(From a seminar given at the University of Amsterdam on Nov 17)
I refer to it [SPM] as ANONYMOUS because it carries no signatures ---unlike the chapters of the IPCC report itself.
I call it POLITICAL because it is approved, line by line, by the official representatives of some 160 governments, most of whom have never seen the report and would not understand it if they had.
Finally, I consider the SPM to be SELECTIVE because it summarizes only those parts of the report that support the idea of a human influence and a major future warming. To paraphrase the SPM conclusion of the 2nd IPCC assessment (1996), I conclude that "the balance of evidence suggests" NO temperature rise since about 1940, and therefore throws doubt about climate models and all predictions of a major future warming.
To restate major points [from my seminar]:
(II). The overwhelming evidence from instruments and from proxy data (excepting some surface thermometer records outside of the US and Europe) shows no warming trend since 1980.
The respected German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) continues the subtle post-Hague America-bashing, but with a vengeance. Its column of Nov 27 reports the work of an obscure German biogeochemist on CO2 storage in forests and soils. Significantly, the story is under the rubric of Politics rather than Science.
The work of Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze from the Max-Planck Institute in Jena is an attack on the research of a Princeton University group (Fan et al) published in Science. They had found that the North-American Continent absorbed more CO2 than it emits from fossil-fuel burning. As might have been expected, the Science paper raised the hackles of scientific ideologues, who tried to prove that the data had been fudged. Nonsense! The researchers were well aware that their result depended crucially on the precision of the measurements and that the outcome might be different during a different time period.
The well-known IIASA research institute in Austria questioned whether the sequestering of CO2 into forests and soils could really be verified and concluded that interpretation of the data would lead to disputes. Not so our friend from Jena. He boldly asserted, as quoted in the FAZ article, that industrial countries could be financing Third-World deforestation in order to create opportunities to gain CO2 credits through later reforestation: "Borneo's forests are burning to create areas for [cheap] climate protection for rich nations."
Significantly, the FAZ article does nothing to contradict this paranoid fantasy.
We don't know how The Economist maintains its reputation.
1. "...the science has become clearer.." I agree, but the overwhelming science evidence says NO RECENT WARMING. Just look at the data.
2. The major conclusion of the National Research Council report (Jan 2000) is that the satellites (and the independent data from weather balloons) show little if any warming of the atmosphere since 1979. The Economist speculates on the reasons but they are wrong.
3. I could not find any reference in the NRC report that "NRC experts have noted that the warming may be accelerating."
4. The warming of the deep ocean is real but due to the pre-1940 climate warming (acc to my analysis)
5. Sea level has risen by 120 meters since the end of the last ice age 20,000 years ago. It is rising now because of the slow continued melting of Antarctic ice sheets and will continue to rise for another 5000 to 7000 years -- unless another ice age intervenes. And there is NOTHING that humans can do about this.
6. The most misleading is the figure on page 102. The data from the Vostok ice core clearly show that deglaciation (i.e., the major warming marking the end of past ice ages) PRECEDES the rise in CO2; this is not revealed, however. This clearly defines cause and effect; CO2 is released from the warming ocean.
Even worse is the graph, purporting to show global temperatures of the past 1000 years. It is a superposition of two flawed sets of data that are contradicted by more believable published data elsewhere.
Overall-- a shoddy performance by The Economist, which should be corrected
Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times of December 8, 2000:
"Where Mr. Bush will have the biggest impact is not through the macro-politics, but through the micro-politics - on all those issues that reside just below the radar, on all those issues where the hundreds of assistant secretaries, agency heads and department chiefs, whom the Bush team will appoint throughout the government, will have the discretion, guidance and desire to impose a conservative ethos."
"And what are those issues? Well, let's see - things like how environmental regulations are interpreted, where oil wells can be dug in Alaska, what sorts of lands the Interior Department sets aside for conservation, how worker health and safety rules are enforced or expanded, how labor laws are interpreted, how gun control is dealt with, how aggressively fuel efficiency standards are pursued, how assiduously global population control programs are supported, and to what extent the U.S. works to curb the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. There is actually another name for all these environmental, social and labor issues: The Nader Agenda."
"Just think about one area - global warming. Instead of having as president Al Gore, someone who would have made it a priority to rescue the failed Kyoto climate change treaty, we will probably have a president and vice president both of whom came from the energy business and don't even believe global warming is for real"
SEPP comment: Yes, Tom, we hope you are right. And, by the way, we will miss all those controls --- on guns, on population, but especially on the use of energy. Bring on the eco-tax on fuels to stop the horrors of global warming!