|The Week That Was
Dec 1. 2001
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB:
Condensing the 700-page report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) into a 20-page summary requires selectivity, says Kenneth Green of the Reason Public Policy Institute -- who was an expert reviewer for the Working Group I and Working Group II volumes of the IPCC Third Assessment Report.
As with past summaries for policy-makers, the summary tends to downplay uncertainty, emphasize human culpability, and generally provide only information supporting policy options favored by the United Nations - the immediate adoption of international agreements to reduce the emissions of "greenhouse gases."
The new "Summary for Policy-Makers" suggests a higher range of potential warming by 2100 and a higher sea-level rise than previous summaries. Global average temperature in the new report is estimated to increase from a low of 1.4° centigrade to a high of 5.8° (2.5° to 10.4° Fahrenheit) by 2100. Predicted sea-level increases under the new scenarios range from 9 to 88 centimeters (4 inches to 3 feet) by 2100.
However, the figures in the new summary are not based on newer, higher-quality extrapolations of recent climate trends.
They are based on made-up "scenarios" published in a separate "Special Report on Emission Scenarios" filtered through grossly simplified climate models after the full report had already been through expert review.
The new "worst case" scenario -- 10.4° and 88 cm sea-level rise -- includes questionable assumptions not reviewed by the main IPCC expert review panel.
Among other points, critics say the clear difference between ground-level temperature readings (which are increasing) and high-altitude readings from balloons and satellites (which are unchanging) reveals a critical weakness of the climate models used to predict future impacts of global warming.
Source: Kenneth Green (Chief Scientist, Reason Public Policy Institute), "Science vs. Spin: Government Warming Redux," Brief Analysis No. 378, November 12, 2001, NCPA.
For text, see http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba/ba378/
A new Native-controlled oil and gas drilling company was recently formed to provide oilfield services in the Mackenzie River delta area of northwestern Canada, adjacent to Alaska. According to Petroleum News Alaska, the company was created to provide investment and business opportunities, employment and training for tribal members. It expects to start operations this winter, to expand oil and gas development activities in the Arctic region.
This new enterprise, Gwich'in Oilfield Services, offers some fascinating insights into the slick politics of militant environmentalism.
The majority owner is none other than the Gwich'in Indians Tribal Council. Those are the same Gwich'in Indians that for years have been poster children for the cause of opposing oil exploration in the flat, featureless coastal plain of Alaska s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
But nearly 90% of the Gwich'ins live in Canada. Only 800 live in Alaska. The Alaskan Gwich'ins live some 250 miles from the coastal plain, if one travels along the route caribou follow in migrating to and from ANWR. As the crow flies, the Indians Arctic Village is 140 miles away from ANWR, across the all-but-impassable Brooks Range. Those majestic mountains the ones seen in all the misleading ads and news stories opposing ANWR oil exploration are 30 to 50 miles from the coastal plain. (It s amazing how a telephoto camera lens can make them look so close.)
The Gwich'in Tribal Council plans to drill in a 1.4-million-acre land claims area governed by the Indians. This is the same amount of land that's been proposed for exploration in ANWR. The proposed drill sites (and a potential pipeline route) are just east of a major migratory path, where the caribou often birth their calves, rather than awaiting their arrival in the refuge.
Back in the 1980s, the Alaska Gwich'ins leased 1.8 million acres of their tribal lands for oil development. (No oil was found.) Any reservations they may have had to the latest leasing plans were apparently very muted.
It is hard to grasp how drilling for oil in their own back yards is perfectly OK, but exploration on public and Inuit Eskimo lands 140-250 miles away somehow threatens their traditional lifestyle. It's equally hard to condone their willingness to collect countless thousands of dollars from environmental groups, to place full-page ads in major newspapers, appear in television spots, and testify on Capitol Hill in opposition to ANWR exploration -- and then lease more of their tribal lands for drilling. But none dare call it hypocrisy.
Government geologists say ANWR could contain as much as 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That's enough to replace all our Persian Gulf imports for 10 years or more. At peak production levels, it could provide 1/10 of total U.S. oil needs. Developing this critically needed energy could also create 735,000 jobs, save us from having to send hundreds of billions of dollars to OPEC, and generate tens of billions in royalty and tax revenues to defend and rebuild our nation.
All these benefits would result in the disturbance of about 2,000 acres -- roughly twice as much land as was impacted by the terrorist attack on New York City's Twin Towers -- in a coastal plain the size of Delaware and a refuge the size of South Carolina. And any drilling would be done in the dead of winter, using ice airstrips, roads and platforms that will melt when spring arrives.
Eskimos who actually live in ANWR want the same benefits the Gwich'ins seek. As Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation president Fenton Rexford notes, the Eskimos are tired of using 5-gallon buckets for sanitation, because they don't have toilets, running water, or a sewer system. They also understand the national security issues at stake here. No wonder they support exploration by an 8:1 margin.
Bin Laden & Company just sent us a wake-up call from Hell. In mere hours, they plunged us into an economic crisis and a long, difficult war that must be waged both overseas and in our own neighborhoods. Is there anyone who seriously believes we can afford to continue letting a small band of disingenuous Alaska Indians and environmental militants hold the United States hostage on ANWR oil?
It s time to face reality, toss bogus anti-oil arguments on the ash heap of history, and support exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Paul Driessen is a senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and principal of Global-Comm Partners in Fairfax, VA.
EPA has released a precedent-setting risk value for chloroform that for
the first time finds that a non-pesticide carcinogenic compound can have
a safe level of exposure. The chloroform risk file was released on the
agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) following an agency-wide
consensus process. The chloroform characterization is the first time under
the IRIS program where the agency concluded a compound has a nonlinear
dose response curve. However, according to Inside EPA, some EPA and health
officials have raised concerns about how the risks to children are presented
in the chloroform risk file. According to the IRIS file, "there is
no suggestion from available studies of chloroform to indicate that children
or fetuses would be qualitatively more sensitive to its effects than adults."
The children's section has implications for future chemical evaluations
under the agency's draft 1999 cancer risk assessment guidelines because
it is the first time such issues have been specifically addressed under
a new provision in the 1999 version of the guide.
According to a November 22 article in the Telegraph of London, a study "A study at Liverpool University suggests the disease [the Black Death] that first appeared in Europe in 1347 and spread like wildfire for 300 years did not need insanitary [sic] conditions and could strike again at any time." Ooh! How exciting! The researchers decided that the real culprit was not bubonic plague spread by the fleas of rats, but rather - by great coincidence - the media's favorite scary disease, Ebola virus.
But breathe easy, gentle reader. For those not aware of it, going back through history and coming up with new disease theories is actually something of a sport among academics. It gets you in the papers, it gets you grant money, and it gives you something to do in a job that otherwise may have few demands. But the new theories almost always have glaring holes, as does this. For one, Ebola doesn't kill rats. Contemporary chroniclers reported that during bouts of the plague, rats were keeling over in greater numbers than humans. For another, Ebola doesn't spread "like wildfire." It's very difficult to transmit, requiring physical contact with a victim or blood from the victim. Bubonic plague did spread like wildfire. Finally, even the authors of the Liverpool report admit that, "Only one Black Death symptom, swollen glands in the armpit or groin, accords with bubonic plague." Only one? That's like saying "The only indicator that this man is George W. Bush is that he has George W. Bush's DNA." Look, they don't call bubonic plague "bubonic" for nothing. Huge swollen black buboes were the characteristic symptom of the disease. Conversely, nobody with Ebola has been observed with this symptom. Game over: Science 1, Liverpool 0.
EnviroLink would like to apologize for posting a link on Nov. 9, 2001
to a "spoof" news story entitled "WTO Declares Kyoto Protocol
Illegal" that appeared on Independent Media Center's website. The
link has been deleted from EnviroLink.org.
The project is being carried out in conjunction with the carbon neutral consultancy company, Future Forests. "Our climate is changing. We can all do something to stop the problem escalating - and no action is too small," said Future Forests co-founder Dan Morrell. "Alongside reducing emissions at source, forestry has a real role to play, soaking up some of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We are proud to be working with Pink Floyd and their fans, to help make a difference."
According to Future Forests, the music industry was among the first supporters of the company's scheme, beginning four years ago around a camp fire at Glastonbury Festival, when Neneh Cherry was so excited by the scheme that she helped the company talk to other music industry stars such as Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys.
[SEPP would like to influence the foreordained outcome. Readers: Any ideas?]
In May, 2002, Victoria, B.C., will host the International Children's
Conference on the Environment, in cooperation with the United Nations
Environment Programme. This international conference was created as a
result of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where national governments
were urged to seek children's concerns and opinions about the environment.
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Highlights of 2001:
During 2001, SEPP concentrated its efforts on the issue of global warming and demonstrated the lack of any scientific basis for mandatory restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide (and energy use), as would be required by the Kyoto treaty that was actively promoted by the past administration. President Bush has labeled Kyoto as "fatally flawed" and the U.S. has refused to support it.
SEPP organized scientific briefings at international climate conferences and the successful "Student Climate Crusade" that drew 40 American college students to Bonn, Germany, in July 2001, where they were the only group to demonstrate publicly (and noisily) in favor of the U.S. position.
In addition to some two dozen seminar lectures at universities and scientific conferences during 2001, SEPP also organized a scientific briefing on global warming at the Austrian Parliament in Vienna in November. The briefing team included SEPP president Fred Singer and five European climate scientists.
SEPP was founded in 1992 by atmospheric physicist S.Fred Singer, professor emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service and former chief scientist of the Department of Transportation. SEPP chairman is Dr. Frederick Seitz, president emeritus of Rockefeller University and former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The board includes distinguished scientists from many countries.
All our scientists, officers and board members work on a pro-bono basis and do not receive salaries or fees.
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