|The Week That Was
January 6, 2000
With much of the nation in a deep freeze (Jan 2001) and fuel prices sky-high, one can only dream of global warming. Read Cool Planet, Hot Politics.
Did you know that our e-mail bulletin "The Week That Was" is now 3-1/2 years old? Some of you have been with us since the beginning; others have joined more recently. You may be interested in learning that your numbers are steadily growing, mostly by word of mouth, with more than 1000 subscribers now on all continents.
You should know also that we maintain an INDEX of past TWTW's on our website, which is www.sepp.org You may want to browse among the older bulletins. We enjoy writing them and would gladly expand our readership to qualified persons.
The best news of all: With professional assistance, we updated our website and added a SEARCH feature so that you can find interesting material quickly and more conveniently. Your weekly e-mail will inform you of important changes on the SEPP web and link you to new additions.
1. AND NOW COMES OUR REQUEST. We need your help, financial and in other ways, to expand our research and outreach. You should know that the scientists associated with SEPP, including board members and myself, do not draw any salary and contribute their time on a purely voluntary basis. We really believe in what we are doing.
Most of our support comes from charitable foundations and a few generous individual donors who approve strongly of what we doing. We do not solicit support from industry and government.
In just the past month, we received over $6,000 in smaller donations of all the way up to $1000. For many of you this was your second donation for the year 2000. In most organizations, $6000 would be considered a decent gross income from a direct mail fundraising campaign that cost $5,000 to print and mail. We didn't spend a dime on this fundraiser. We sent you a simple email message asking for support. We didn't promise any special premiums or gifts for donors. All we promised was that we would keep doing our best to fight junk science.
Thank you for all your support in 2000. Onward and upward for 2001!
You may want to become an active collaborator of SEPP and reach out to your community, clubs, schools, and churches. We will be glad to send you material or refer you to the best web pages.
With our best wishes for a warm year (as long as it isn't be blamed on greenhouse warming).
Fred Singer (email@example.com)
2. COLD NEWS ABOUT HOT BOOKS
"Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate" is now in its second edition. Its price is only $18, incl S&H. Please contact us if you would like to buy in bulk for distribution to your club, school, or church.
You can also order: "Global Climate Change" and "The Ocean in Human Affairs" at $20 each; both are edited books involving many distinguished authors.
We also have a few copies of left of "Free Market Energy", "The Universe and its Origins," and "Is There an Optimum Level of Population?" - again at $20 each.
We will absorb the shipping and handling costs. If you order two books or more, take 10% off the total price.
3. LEIPZIG DECLARATION: If your professional/academic qualifications
are in a specialty related to climate science, we would like you to join
in signing the Leipzig Declaration. It was originally drawn up after a
successful scientific conference in Leipzig, Germany, held in November
1995. Current signers, numbering more than 100, are
listed on our web site. Please be sure to give us name, address, phone/fax
numbers, and a listing of your relevant background.
And now for a little humor
IS IT JUST ME OR IS IT GETTING COLD IN HERE?
Larry Ephron, who holds degrees in clinical psychology and sociology, warns in his book***, "THE END: The imminent ICE AGE & how we can stop it!" that, believe it or not, "we may stop eating in less than seven years" due to catastrophic global cooling. Scientific expert and now funny man, Robin Williams, thinks it is "one of the most relevant books since the last ice age."
Reactions to the predictions, however, are mixed. Victor Kovda, former president of the SCEP/ICSU (Scientific Committee for Environmental Problems, International Council of Scientific Unions), "consider[s] this completely valid [and] requires immediate action," and Greg Watson, Office of Science and Technology, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and science adviser to Governor Michael Dukakis, thinks "we have absolutely no time to lose." On the other hand, Dave Foreman, founder of Earth First!, "welcomes it as a much needed cleaning I see no possible solution to our ruination of Earth except for a drastic reduction of the human population."
Larry, who is also the founding director of the Institute for a Future, suggests that an icy future can be averted if we take drastic action NOW. We simply must plant billions of new trees and drastically cut our fossil fuel usage. A few skeptics, however, propose that the Earth might warm due to increases in carbon dioxide, and the government, go figure, has actually warmed to the idea. Scientists have received the hint, wink wink, that "warming research would be funded by the government and cooling would not."
What in the world can we do in the face of these cooling naysayers? In the words of Patricia Ellsberg: "Don't polarize hope and despair ... Just be open, fully aware. That is the scariness of this time. If you let it flow, if you let that flow --- those impacted feelings of despair - you'll see that the energy starts coming."
***An "Institute for a Future"
book published by Celestial Arts, Berkeley CA [WHERE ELSE?]
Yes, and more seriously, the Earth has cooled even when CO2 levels were
many times higher than today's values. Recent book by J.C. Crowell (reviewed
in EOS) lists various types of geologic evidence for glaciations in the
Late Paleozoic (256-338 Ma), Late Devonian-Early Carboniferous (353-363
Ma), Late Ordovician-Early Silurian (429-445 Ma), Early Cambrian/Neoproterozoic
(~520-950 Ma), Early Proterozoic (2200-2400 Ma), and the earliest glaciation
recognized so far, in the Archean of South Africa (~2950 Ma). There is
also evidence for cooling in the Cretaceous.
Statement On The Nomination of
Washington, D.C., January 3, 2001 - President-elect Bush's nomination
of Senator Spencer Abraham to be Secretary of Energy is good news for
America's consumers. Secretary-designate Abraham's strong pro-energy record
in the Senate was based on understanding that our economic prosperity
has been built on abundant supplies of inexpensive energy.
By Dr. Bertram Wolfe and Dr Chauncey Starr
Why is California now suffering from a lack of needed economic electricity? The answer is that California, and the nation, have not looked responsibly to the future.
In the late sixties and early seventies, the US was doubling its electricity use every 10 years. To meet coming needs, utilities were placing major orders for new generating plants. In 1973, the situation changed. The Arab oil boycott, and the resulting higher energy costs, slowed down the growth of electricity to a doubling in 35 years. As a result, the new plants ordered before 1973, and subsequently built, led to a surplus of electrical supply in this country.
That nationwide surplus, which is now gone, is what California officials were counting on when deregulation was approved in 1996 - a robust, competitive market of wholesale electrical supply from generating companies outside the state. That expectation failed. Why?
Before 1973, the Sierra Club supported nuclear power. Since 1973 the influential "environmental" organizations have opposed oil, gas, coal, and nuclear plants, as well as dams, and even geothermal plants. They argue for solar and wind power, which on a large scale are impractical because of their large land use and their intermittent availability; indeed, on a large scale they are environmentally detrimental. However, with a surplus of energy supply it didn't matter.
But, the electrical surplus has vanished. In the US, we now need new energy capacity to meet our present - and future - needs. On a world basis, population in the next 50 years is projected to increase from 6 to some 10 billion people. If the average world per-person energy use reaches only one third of that in the US today, then world energy use will triple. Thus, we now face both serious near term national and coming world energy problems.
In this country, we must decide how to meet our energy needs. The Energy Information Administration projects a continued US increase of electricity needs of some 40% in the next 20 years, and the needed replacement of some 25% of our current capacity.
There are problems that must be addressed. The price of natural gas has quadrupled in the past year. New gas fueled electricity plants, which were the least expensive source of electricity, are now the most expensive. Natural gas supply will remain tight for the foreseeable future because the demand is increasing faster than supply, with accompanying price volatility depending on weather, and import availability from Canada and Mexico. Oil is subject to serious overseas political problems, and costs that have gone up and down. Coal, which is among the most plentiful, least costly, energy sources, has environmental problems: large emissions of CO2 and other pollutants, including small particles.
Nuclear energy, which has no significant emissions, can also be among the low cost energy sources, but it has political barriers to overcome. The 103 existing nuclear plants (ordered before 1973) remain a vital, safe, electricity source in California, and in the US. But, since 1973 it has taken an uneconomic ten to twenty years to build the previously ordered nuclear plants in this country, whereas we build US nuclear plants abroad (and used to build them here) economically in 4 or 5 years. Similarly, anti-nuclear forces have unnecessarily delayed the construction of repositories for nuclear wastes.
The electricity trap in which California now finds itself is a consequence of the national trends coming together this winter. Weather has increased demand in all the Western US, so California cannot depend on low cost electricity purchases from neighboring states. The political response has so far been "band-aid" fixes, which do not tackle the root issue of making California a friendly state for long-term investment by electricity generators.
The recent electricity problems in California make it clear that we must take action to prevent future energy disasters. In the next few years our only means to provide the needed electricity is with an expansion of gas and/or coal powered plants, with their financial and environmental problems. We should demonstrate now, that nuclear plants can be built here as efficiently as they can be abroad; and move to get our waste repositories moving. We need government commitment and action to assure that we can meet our near-term and long-term energy needs in California and nationally.
The one available solution is a major increase in the utilization of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy can provide an essentially unlimited supply of economic energy. Anti-nuclear activists frighten the public about nuclear wastes thousands of years out. But the real concerns are fossil fuel environmental impacts and the lack of energy in the coming decades when oil and gas supplies are exhausted; and in the following century when economic coal supplies are depleted. The near term expansion of nuclear energy will allow us to mitigate global warming, and to lengthen the availability of specially needed fossil fuels. Although long term nuclear wastes can be safely accommodated, advanced nuclear plant designs will allow us to modify the nuclear wastes so that they lose their radioactivity in just a few hundred years.
Today we are having very disturbing, but relatively mild, energy problems
due to our lack of preparation. We must work to solve this near term problem.
But we should also not wait for the future national and world energy disasters
to occur, before we act to mitigate - and hopefully eliminate - them.
Correction: Contrary to TWTW Dec 30, Tom Karl did participate as a speaker in the Annual Meeting of the AGU. We regret the oversight.