|The Week That Was
April 28, 2001
We bring you an important editorial by Craig and Keith Idso. It exposes the sad fact that the editors of Nature, a (previously) respected international science journal, have become "politically correct." This obvious bias influences not only its staff and their coverage of scientific news but also the process of peer review. Editors choose the reviewers and then decide whether or not to publish a submitted research paper. A politicized review process poses a real threat to the practice and future of science itself.
The Week That Was April 28, 2001 brought to you by SEPP
THE DYNAMIC IDSO DUO STRIKES AGAIN
The Nightly News of 20 April 2001 carried a revealing report from NBC's Kerry Saunders entitled "A Chilling Crisis for Sea Turtles." Reporting from Florida, USA, Saunders discussed a phenomenon called "cold-stunning," wherein turtles exposed to unusually cold water temperatures suffer a number of maladies that can be deadly. As marine biologist Glenn Harmon explained during an interview, the abnormally cold temperatures put the turtles into a comatose state where their immune systems shut down, making them vulnerable to all kinds of viruses and bacterial infections, including pneumonia.
So why do we call these facts to your attention? Simply because they once again put the lie to the claim that global temperatures are the highest they have ever been during the past millennium. How could it possibly be so uniquely and dangerously hot, when, in the words of Cheryl Joyner, as seen on the NBC Nightly News report, "there has never been a cold-stunning this large in the United States"? It just doesn't add up. And since fish, shrimp, manatees, pelicans and turtles don't lie, the fib must reside in the temperature data, or at least in the manipulation and interpretation of the data as they pass through the hands of IPCC functionaries.
Dr. Craig D. Idso, President
W. -- THE ENVIRONMENTALIST!?!
Just in time for Earth Day, a ringing defense of George W. Bush' environmental record -- from The New Republic! Writing in the April 30 issue, journalist Gregg Easterbrook chastises Bush critics like the NY Times.
On arsenic, Bush has not forced Americans to drink "poisoned drinking water." He has only delayed the date - which is what Clinton/Gore did for eight years! [And BTW, arsenic has been a natural contaminant in many locations, not put there by industrial effluents. And BTW also, Steve Milloy <junkscience.com> has questioned the dubious way by which the new arsenic standard was arrived at.]
According to the TNR article also, the NYT, downplaying Clinton's similar policy, made much of Bush' request to delay new listings under the Endangered Species Act No credit was given to Bush for cleaning up Diesel fuel to remove unhealthy particulates or for upholding efficiency standards for household appliances.
Easterbrook doesn't fault Bush' decision to abandon the Kyoto Protocol,
pointing out that Clinton never submitted it for ratification to the US
Senate. According to TNR, David Anderson, Canada's environment minister,
subscribes to the view (which we have long enunciated) that Europe wanted
the Hague negotiations to fail so they wouldn't get stuck with enforcing
Kyoto - while blaming the US for the failure.
"Near Earth Day 2001 is the first of what will be an annual event occurring in conjunction with the better known "Earth Day" event established by environmentalists years ago. Near Earth Day will be a day during which all are encouraged to engage in activities and events which bring into clearer understanding the opportunities and concerns related to the various "NEO's" or Near Earth Objects that travel our Solar System."
Robert E. Strong, Director of the Near Earth Object Foundation, 21 April
REPORT FROM OUR MAN IN THE UK
Never underestimate the power of myth. For an idea, people will undertake horrendous journeys to horrible deaths in crusades, burn their neighbours alive, or sacrifice their children. With the decline of religion, modern myths have become all-powerful, especially, of course, global warming. The European media continue to preach the gospel ceaselessly and zealots in the corridors of power press for draconian enforcement of the true faith. The Times (April 13th) for example reports that:
TONY BLAIR is facing a revolt from senior Cabinet ministers who want him to put Britain's special relationship with America into "deep freeze" over George W. Bush's decision to rip up the Kyoto treaty on climate change.
The Times letters page on Easter Saturday gave pride of place to a letter from one A J Buckoke which, without apparent irony, it headlined Clear thinking on climate change. It was nothing more than a reiteration of what have already become the tired old clichés of the genre. The IPCC and the Royal Commission on climate change are quoted as the eminent experts, the latter claiming that:
measures to limit the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere could, in the 2080s, reduce the number of people it is estimated would be affected each year by coastal flooding . . . from 94 million . . . to 34 million . . . The number of people who would be affected by water shortages . . . might be reduced from 3 billion to 1 billion.
And now : MELANIE PHILLIPS HERSELF in the April 15 Sunday Times
Hence the hysterical incredulity which greeted President George W Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto protocol which sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Now John Prescott and other ministers want to punish Bush by putting the special relationship with the United States into "deep freeze".
There is no conclusive evidence to support the global warming theory. Scientists are deeply divided over it. Most independent climate specialists, far from supporting it, are deeply sceptical. A growing body of rigorous science is showing that many of the claims made to support the most apocalyptic scenarios are demonstrably false.
Take the latest. Two teams of American oceanographers have reported that the oceans have got hotter. From this finding, they claim proof of man-made climate warming. This extrapolation is absurd; and yet precisely this reasoning accounts for much of the warming calculation behind Kyoto. Buckets of seawater are hauled up and their temperature is taken, which is then used as a proxy for the temperature of the air. But water is not the same as air. And, surprise, surprise, other scientists have now discovered that sea temperatures have risen faster than those of the air. This means that these seawater calculations have overestimated the rate of global warming during the past 20 years by one third. When air alone is measured, the past two decades are revealed actually to have cooled. Is it credible that scientists can be so silly?
There is much, much more. We are told that the ice sheets are thinning, proved by the tremulous discovery of stretches of water in the Arctic. But there is always water in the Arctic summer. In fact, the extent of Arctic ice has remained almost unchanged over the past 20 years, and in the Antarctic sea ice has actually increased by about 1.3% per decade.
Perhaps most eye-popping of all is the claim that the 1990s were the warmest decade in history. This completely ignores the medieval warm period. In 1200, Europe was 2°C warmer than it is now. This was followed by a cold period known as the little ice age, which lasted until the latter part of the 19th century. So it's hardly surprising that the climate has warmed since then. The historical evidence suggests that our current rate of warming is no big deal and is part of the natural cyclical pattern in which the Earth has periodically warmed and cooled. Many scientists take this view.
Yet Sir John Houghton, former head of the Meteorological Office and now co-chairman of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) whose report formed the basis of the Kyoto protocol, has said there are no more than 10 active scientists in the world who disagree with the notion of human-induced climate change. But there are thousands of scientists who disagree with the prediction of climate catastrophe caused by human agency and who are utterly dismayed by what they see as the falsehoods of Kyoto and the IPCC report. Many have signed statements saying so; these are never reported.
And some on this sceptic side are extremely eminent indeed. Dr Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the foremost experts on atmospheric science, says there is no evidence that greenhouse gases could disrupt the climate. In a withering put-down of the "absurd" Kyoto protocol, he describes it as "very much a children's exercise of what might possibly happen", prepared by "a peculiar group" in the IPCC almost all of whom have "no technical competence". Dr Jan Veizer, the renowned geologist, has produced a definitive reconstruction of the world's climate history, which says there is no correlation between cold and warm periods and low and high levels of carbon dioxide. Indeed, there were long periods when rises in carbon dioxide were accompanied by a drop in the average temperature. Some scientists say this report alone sounds the death knell for the man-made global warming theory.
Certainly there are scientists on the other side of this argument. The authors of the IPCC report said there was a "discernible human influence on climate change". So shouldn't we adopt the precautionary principle just in case? But precaution against what? The physicist Sir Fred Hoyle and the mathematician Chandra Wickramasinghe argue that carbon dioxide needs to rise to prevent another ice age. This may be eccentric, but how can ordinary people decide what calamity to be terrified of?
All one can do is apply some common sense. The climate predictions (and even some of the alleged historical "facts") are the product of computer modelling. But this modelling interpolates hypotheses into a prophecy. This produces a guesstimate which merely replicates a premise, however flawed. Moreover, climate change is made up of a vast number of interrelating factors, to which carbon dioxide is but one minute contributor. These factors produce a myriad feedback effects which computer modelling is too crude to acknowledge. The IPCC report itself admits its own inadequacy. Because there is no straightforward cause and effect in climate change, it says, "the prediction of a specific future climate is not possible". It admits that, of 12 factors thought to influence climate change, nine are very poorly understood. It also admits that certain key changes indicating global warming have not occurred. But these scientific caveats are overwhelmed by politics. The text is studded with weasel words and phrases - "very likely", "best estimate", "simulations", "scenarios", "assumptions" - to support the dire predictions it says it cannot make.
So a combination of flawed modelling, buried caveats, weasel words and
bad science history has produced a report more akin to a religious icon
than a piece of scientific reasoning. The science of global warming has
been suborned by politics and ideology. It was hijacked by those who wanted
a new stick with which to beat western capitalism, America and globalisation.
It is the green version of the big lie. The great danger, as several despairing
scientists point out, is that this will so disillusion people that it
will damage the real and pressing agenda to steward the Earth properly:
to reduce pollution, to conserve energy and, above all, to adapt responsibly
to inevitable change.
And now: READERS' COMMENTS TO THE SUNDAY TIMES
HYSTERIA: I second [Melanie] Phillips's opinion [Sunday Times , 15 April]. The global warming fad has all the traits of a religious movement: hysteria, cries of doom, demands that people sacrifice for a divine entity ("the Earth"), and attacks on those who disagree.
As an ancient historian, I recognise that changes in sea level, the evolution and passing away of species, the rise and fall in global temperatures, and even the movement of whole continents are normal when viewed over centuries.
I also recognise that only science, industry and mass production can allow us to live as we do. The alternative is periodic famines and diseases wiping out whole populations. To shut down industrial civilisation will kill millions of people. History is clear on this point.
Dr John Lewis
HUMILITY: President George W Bush did the world a favour when he dumped the Kyoto treaty and Phillips deserves praise for standing up to the myths of global warming.
Europe's infantile tantrums about climate change make medieval obscurantism seem like the pinnacle of knowledge. The world's climate has been changing for the past 4.7 billion years of its known existence and will continue to do so long after humankind becomes just another geological formation. Climate change 300m years ago wiped out 95% of life on Earth, when oil companies had not even been invented.
Armies of self-serving politicians, pressure groups and pseudo-academics are exercising a form of emotional blackmail in trying to persuade us that we can alter Earth forces by paying taxes, and lining their own pockets in the process.
There is no doubt at all that the world and its corporations need to be pushed into some meaningful international potty training. But a dose of humility in the face of forces which no human can control would also be most welcome.
HIJACKED: At last, a piece in a sensible newspaper which starts to talk about facts and not non-existent science. Unfortunately, the global warming mob have managed to stage a take-over of good science and to bamboozle a large proportion of the world's politicians - just a lot of spinning, which is costing the world's coffers dear.
It has become an industry just like compensation, race relations, equal opportunity activities, Aids and legal aid.
No funds would be available for study or research unless there were a perceived threat; so create the threat and funds become available.
How much research money has been spent by government with the relevant research organisations, almost inevitably governmental? And how much proof has been provided - none, because if a result is achieved then there is no further need for research . . . QED.
OTHER THREATS: To say that sections of the scientific community are being partial in their interpretation of the data would be an understatement. A serious omission in the debate is the role of the most abundant greenhouse gas, water vapour - probably responsible for 95% of the greenhouse effect. Yet the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change allocates it a minor role in one of its computer models as augmenting the effect of changes in carbon dioxide concentration. Quite how it does this is not clear as one substance absorbs infrared radiation quite independently from another.
Remove this unproved coupling hypothesis and the predicted heating effect of additional carbon dioxide is insignificant. In fact, the correlation between global surface temperature and carbon dioxide concentration is really quite poor. The fact that temperatures dropped over four decades from 1940 to 1980 while carbon dioxide levels rose significantly is conveniently overlooked.
A close reading of the IPCC reports will show that predictions are pretty cautious with wide margins of uncertainty. The more hysterical sections of the press single out the worst case scenarios for their headlines. The IPCC notes that there has been no decrease in Antarctic sea ice since 1978 nor has there been any increase in the number of tornadoes, thunder days or hail events, all of which might have been expected.
I suspect that predictions of world disaster due to global warming will prove unfounded. The real problems facing the planet are population growth, environmental degradation, dire poverty, antibiotic-resistant epidemics, creating sustainable development, plus the underlying threat of nuclear annihilation - quite enough to be going on with in the meantime.
Dr Wilson Flood
AND NOW: FOR THE LOONEY SIDE:
Malcolm Bruce, president of Scotland's Liberal Democrats on George Bush:
"Not content is he with killing Texan prisoners with lethal injections, he now wants to kill millions round the world with lethal pollution."
And: LOONIES IN THE US
Mass. Announces Emissions Rules
BOSTON (AP) (April 24) Massachusetts will become the first state to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under clean-air rules set to go into effect in June. The new standards unveiled Monday by acting Gov. Jane Swift also will limit mercury emissions and require deep cuts in emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, and smog-causing nitrogen oxide. The regulations will apply to the state's six dirtiest power plants, which produce 40 percent of the electricity used in Massachusetts.
``This sets the bar for any other state that is doing power plant clean ups,'' said Conrad Schneider, a spokesman for Clean Air Task Force, a national environmental advocacy group that monitors power plant emissions. ``And it sets the bar for the national debate for what the level of reduction should be in federal legislation.''
Proposals to limit carbon dioxide emissions surged onto the national scene last month when Swift's fellow Republican, President Bush, reversed a campaign pledge to push for carbon dioxide power plant limits.
``He and I, in this case, came to a different conclusion,'' Swift said as she announced the new Massachusetts regulations. ``I know that climate change is a global problem - but that does not mean we should sit around and wait for global solutions,'' said state Environmental Affairs Secretary Bob Durand.
SEPP comment: The Mass. regulations would require power plants to cut average carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent. Hey, no problem! California has the solution: It's called Rolling Blackouts. Or Beantowners can try the Russian solution: Close down industry. Or if that's not enough to satisfy the zealots: Just sit still and freeze in the dark.
Meanwhile in California, and not to be outdone, a petition letter to the governor is circulating : (we got a request to join)
Dear Governor Davis and Members of the California State Legislature,
Please consider the undersigned members of the scientific community in strong support of proposed legislation (AB 1058-Pavley) to address vehicular emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the State of California. Unchecked CO2 emissions and climate change pose a serious threat to California's economy and public health.
California cannot afford to wait for a national policy on global warming
before taking action. As a significant contributor of CO2 emissions nationally
and globally, California could face high mitigation costs in the next
decade. We believe the State's immediate implementation of policies to
control global warming gas emissions represents sound public policy based
on virtually irrefutable scientific evidence.
California should limit all CO2 emissions -- not just from cars. Close
down power plants, guys! Remember, it's one global atmosphere.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (NYSE: PCG), the utility unit of PG&E Corp., filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. The company said it is taking this action in light of its uncollected energy costs, which are now increasing by more than $300 million per month and the now unmistakable fact that negotiations with Gov. Gray Davis and his representatives are going nowhere. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reportedly has more than $9 billion in uncollected costs
The bankruptcy was announced the day after it became clear to PG&E that the state of California would not be purchasing its transmission assets at a price that PG&E believes the assets to be worth. In addition, a new rate increase approved by the governor could not be used to repay any of Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s existing debts.
LETTER TO USA TODAY
Amory Lovins ("The Need for nuclear is passé" -- Tuesday, April 17) is the activist who once proposed that the problems of New York overcrowding could be solved by giving everyone a spade and a plot of land in Vermont. With this sort of problem solving, you know that his opinions are well thought out. His "Opposing View" is full of such nonsense.
As it happens, California's energy problems could have been easily averted if they had built more plants like San Onofre nuclear plant that puts out thousands of Megawatts reliably, cleanly and safely. It has been the only reliable energy generator in California while wind plants have shut down for lack of wind and solar plants's costs have gouged the population for inadequate return.
However, Amory Lovins must be congratulated in one respect. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, were he knows that he benefits from the daily high background radiation dose (four times that in his native Britain) that he receives.
Meanwhile Finland, China, South Africa, Taiwan, and Russia, are building new nuclear generating capacity to avoid Californian problems. The US will shortly announce its next new station.
AND IN JAPAN
A Wash Times report quotes Japanese spokeswoman Ms Ono saying : Oh No! "At this moment, Japan is not thinking of ratifying the [Kyoto] protocol without the United States."
What will new prime minister Koizumi do? Our advice: Make it official and save Japan's economy.
INTRIGUING QUESTION FROM A LOYAL READER OF TWTW:
What is Monica Lewinsky's position on the Kyoto
Protocol? Or, rather, does she have a Kyoto position?