|The Week That Was
April 19, 2003
1. New on the Web: SEPP-ASSOCIATE GORDON PRATHER MAKES THE CASE FOR
METHANOL AS TRANSPORTATION FUEL. A cheap source would be "stranded"
natural gas (that is out of the reach of pipelines)
2. BRINGING NATURAL GAS TO MARKET: Alaskan pipeline debate
3. LOW DOSE-RATE IRRADIATION THERAPY FOR TYPE II DIABETES: Japanese
research on beneficial health effects of doses of radiation.
4. MIDDLE AGES WERE WARMER THAN TODAY, contradicting IPCC claims that
20th century was warmest
5. SENATE ENERGY BILL: EMISSIONS REDUCTION CREDITS WOULD CREATE KYOTO
6. A REPUBLICAN KYOTO? Will Senate vote for an energy bill that is
worse than Kyoto?
7. NY TIMES REBUKES BUSH ON GLOBAL WARMING
8. NEW BOOK: THE REAL ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS: Why Poverty, not Affluence,
is the Environment's Number One Enemy
2. How best to transport Alaskan natural gas
Congress is debating legislation that would create a new national energy
policy. Experts say a critical component of energy policy should be lowering
the barriers preventing the exploration and development of new natural
North America has an abundance of natural gas, but fields containing
more than 213 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas are on public lands
and in offshore areas unavailable for development due to legal and administrative
In Alaska and the Canadian Arctic alone, estimated potential natural
gas reserves top 160 trillion cubic feet. These reserves are not being
tapped due to the lack of a pipeline to transport the natural gas to market.
Accordingly, one component of the national energy plan should be the development
of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to the Lower 48.
There are two potential routes. (See map.)
One travels from Alaska's Prudhoe Bay to Canada's Mackenzie Delta and
down the Mackenzie River Valley to Edmonton. The second route requires
two pipelines, one running from Prudhoe Bay across Alaska to Fairbanks,
then along the Trans-Alaska Highway to northeast British Columbia and
from there into Alberta, where it connects to a second line running from
the Mackenzie Delta through the Mackenzie River Valley. Both routes end
at Edmonton. However:
o The single-line route would cost an estimated $8 billion to construct,
just over half the approximately $15 billion cost of the dual-line route.
o The dual-line route would require significant tax subsidies; last
year Congress considered a $15 billion to $45 billion tax subsidy to make
its construction attractive.
The single-line route would be less than 1,700 miles long, whereas the
dual-line route would stretch almost 3,500 miles, with more than 900 miles
crossing mountainous terrain.
Source: H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., "Shaping a Progressive Energy
Policy: Natural Gas," Brief Analysis No. 434, April 10, 2003,
National Center for Policy Analysis.
For text see http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba/ba434/
3. A little radiation may be good for you:
Long-Term Low Dose-Rate Irradiation Causes Recovery from Type II Diabetes
and Suppression of Aging in Type II Diabetes-Prone Mice
By T Nomura et al from Low Dose Radiation Research Center, CRIEPI,
"A group of 12 female 10-week-old diabetic mice were irradiated at
0.65 mGy/hr in the low dose rate irradiation facility in the Low Dose
Radiation Research Center. The urine glucose levels of all of the mice
were strongly positive at the beginning of the irradiation. In the irradiated
group, a decrease in the glucose was observed in three mice - one in the
35th week, another in the 52nd week and the third in the 80th week. No
recovery from diabetes was observed in the 12 mice of the non-irradiated
There was no systematic change of body weight or consumption of food and
drinking water between the irradiated group and the non-irradiated or
between the recovered mice and the non-recovered mice.
Survival was better in the irradiated group. The surviving fraction at
the age of 90 weeks was 75% in the irradiated group, but only 40% in the
non-irradiated group. A marked difference was also observed in the appearance
of the coat hair, skin and tail. The irradiated group was in much better
Mortality was delayed and the healthy appearance was prolonged in the
irradiated mice by about 20 to 30 weeks compared with the control mice.
These results suggest that the low-dose irradiation modified the condition
of the diabetic mice, leading not only to recovery from diabetes, but
also to suppression of the aging process."
Other Radiation News:
***The official 2001 population exposure data for Germany have just been
published: The average natural exposure remains at 2.1 mSv, and the medical
exposure 2 mSv (total 4.1 mSv). Nuclear technology, Chernobyl, industry
and research are below 0.01 mSv each and thus to be considered negligible.
***The limit for radon remediation in Switzerland has been fixed at 1000
Bq/m³ (vs. EPA 148 Bq/m³ in the USA). In Sweden, 150,000 homes
are above 400 Bq/m³ - in the Czech Republic, it is 2-3 % of all homes.
4. Another IPCC claim bites the dust
The examination of the available climate data and climate proxies (tree
rings, ice cores, corals, etc) lead to the following observations:
o There was a worldwide Medieval Warm Period that lasted from the 9th
to the 14th century, which was followed by a worldwide Little Ice Age
that lasted from 1400 to 1900.
o Global surface temperature rose during the 20th century, in part due
to recovery from the Little Ice Age.
o Although the 1990s were the warmest in the 140-year period of direct
temperature measurements, there were 50-year periods in the past millennium
that were warmer than any 50-year periods in the 20th century.
o There is no convincing evidence that the 20th century was "unusual."
On balance, the evidence indicates that the 20th century falls within
the range experienced during the past 1,000 years.
Download the report at http://www.marshall.org
and read also the report by Robert Matthews, The Telegraph (UK) Science
Claims that man-made pollution is causing "unprecedented" global
warming have been seriously undermined by new research that shows that
the Earth was warmer during the Middle Ages.
From the outset of the global warming debate in the late 1980s, environmentalists
have said that temperatures are rising higher and faster than ever before,
leading some scientists to conclude that greenhouse gases from cars and
power stations are causing these "record-breaking" global temperatures.
Last year, scientists working for the UK Climate Impacts Programme said
that global temperatures were "the hottest since records began"
and added: "We are pretty sure that climate change due to human activity
is here and it's accelerating."
This announcement followed research published in 1998, when scientists
at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia declared
that the 1990s had been hotter than any other period for 1,000 years.
Such claims have now been sharply contradicted by the most comprehensive
study yet of global temperature over the past 1,000 years. A review of
more than 240 scientific studies has shown that today's temperatures are
neither the warmest over the past millennium, nor are they producing the
most extreme weather - in stark contrast to the claims of the environmentalists.
The review, carried out by a team from Harvard University, examined the
findings of studies of so-called "temperature proxies" such
as tree rings, ice cores and historical accounts which allow scientists
to estimate temperatures prevailing at sites around the world.
The findings prove that the world experienced a Medieval Warm Period between
the ninth and 14th centuries with global temperatures significantly higher
even than today.
They also confirm claims that a Little Ice Age set in around 1300, during
which the world cooled dramatically. Since 1900, the world has begun to
warm up again - but has still to reach the balmy temperatures of the Middle
The timing of the end of the Little Ice Age is especially significant,
as it implies that the records used by climate scientists date from a
time when the Earth was relatively cold, thereby exaggerating the significance
of today's temperature rise.
According to the researchers, the evidence confirms suspicions that today's
"unprecedented" temperatures are simply the result of examining
temperature change over too short a period of time.
The study, about to be published in the journal Energy and Environment,
has been welcomed by sceptics of global warming, who say it puts the claims
of environmentalists in proper context. Until now, suggestions that the
Middle Ages were as warm as the 21st century had been largely anecdotal
and were often challenged by believers in man-made global warming.
Dr Philip Stott, the professor emeritus of bio-geography at the University
of London, told The Telegraph: "What has been forgotten in all the
discussion about global warming is a proper sense of history."
According to Prof Stott, the evidence also undermines doom-laden predictions
about the effect of higher global temperatures. "During the Medieval
Warm Period, the world was warmer even than today, and history shows that
it was a wonderful period of plenty for everyone."
In contrast, said Prof Stott, severe famines and economic collapse followed
the onset of the Little Ice Age around 1300. He said: "When the temperature
started to drop, harvests failed and England's vine industry died. It
makes one wonder why there is so much fear of warmth."
The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
the official voice of global warming research, has conceded the possibility
that today's "record-breaking" temperatures may be at least
partly caused by the Earth recovering from a relatively cold period in
recent history. While the evidence for entirely natural changes in the
Earth's temperature continues to grow, its causes still remain mysterious.
Dr Simon Brown, the climate extremes research manager at the Meteorological
Office at Bracknell, said that the present consensus among scientists
on the IPCC was that the Medieval Warm Period could not be used to judge
the significance of existing warming.
Dr Brown said: "The conclusion that 20th century warming is not unusual
relies on the assertion that the Medieval Warm Period was a global phenomenon.
This is not the conclusion of IPCC."
He added that there were also doubts about the reliability of temperature
proxies such as tree rings: "They are not able to capture the recent
warming of the last 50 years," he said.
SEPP Comment: We think that Simple Simon, the "climate extremes
research manager," has it just backwards. We think the tree rings
record supports our finding that the climate has not warmed in the past
5. Emissions Reduction Credits Would Create Kyoto Lite
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has drafted "energy"
legislation that will, if enacted, lead inexorably to Kyoto-style energy
rationing, says Marlo Lewis Jr., of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The draft bill directs the Department of Energy to award companies "transferable
credits" for "voluntary" CO2 emission reductions.
Under this scheme, companies that take steps now to reduce their CO2 emissions
will earn regulatory credits they can later use to comply with Kyoto or
a similar compulsory regime. Lewis says transferable credits will give
credit holders an incentive to lobby for Kyoto or its domestic equivalent.
o Credits attain full market value only under a mandatory emissions reduction
target or "cap" -- in effect, credits are Kyoto stock that bears
dividends only if Kyoto or kindred regulations are adopted.
o Although transferable credits are touted as "voluntary" and
"win-win" (good for business, good for the environment), they
will create a coercive system in which one company's gain is another's
o That is because for every company that gains a credit in the pre-regulatory
period, there must be another that loses a credit in the mandatory period
(otherwise the emissions "cap" will be broken).
o Consequently, companies that do not "volunteer" will be penalized
-- forced in the mandatory period to make deeper emission reductions than
the cap itself would require, or pay higher credit prices than would otherwise
Furthermore, transferable credits will disadvantage small business, since
participants gain at the expense of nonparticipants. Most small businesses
will not participate, because they cannot afford to hire carbon accountants
and engineers, yet all will have to pay higher energy prices if emission
caps are imposed.
Source: Marlo Lewis Jr. (Competitive Enterprise Institute), "Nix
the Energy Bill: Better no bill than an anti-energy bill," April
4, 2003, National Review Online.
6. The climate provisions currently in energy bill could bring Kyoto-like
Wall Street Journal editorial, April 8, 2003
When the Senate Democrats' energy bill died last year, the economy dodged
a major blow. Who knew we'd get more of the same from Republicans?
That's the essence of the "climate" provisions in Senator Pete
Domenici's new energy legislation. They would gut President Bush's program
to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gases, putting the U.S. on a path to
the Kyoto treaty that Al Gore negotiated but the Bush Administration repudiated.
The draft bill would require a national strategy to "stabilize and
over time reduce net U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases." That more
or less concedes the alarmist argument that greenhouse gases are "pollutants"
that cause global warming and thus deserve to be controlled.
Mr. Domenici would also create a federal climate czar and office, thus
creating a bureaucratic imperative for regulation. And he'd award "credits"
to companies that take early action to reduce CO2 emissions, the first
step toward a cap-and-trade system that would make business a new lobby
for greenhouse gas controls.
The only explanation for this pre-emptive concession is defensive politics.
Republicans describe it privately as the only way to deflect more drastic
legislation from Democratic Presidential aspirants or GOP liberals. Republican
Senators also hope their House brethren will ride to their rescue and
kill the worst provisions before they become law.
There is a better way, which is to keep fighting on the merits. There
is no scientific consensus that greenhouse gases cause the world's modest
global warming trend, much less whether that warming will do more harm
than good, or whether we can even do anything about it.
Once Republicans concede that greenhouse gases must be controlled, it
will only be a matter of time before they end up endorsing more economically
damaging regulation. They could always stand on principle and attempt
to educate the public instead.
SEPP Comment: Fortunately, Chairman Domenici's initiative and leadership
caused the climate provisions to be stricken from the bill in Committee.
They may resurface in amendments on the Senate floor debate after Easter
- especially if the NY Times has its way (see next item)
7. Rebuked on Global Warming
NY Times editorial, March 1, 2003
Nothing so far has shamed President Bush into adopting a more aggressive
policy toward the threat of global warming. He has been denounced by mainstream
scientists, deserted by his progressive friends in industry and sued by
seven states. Still he clings stubbornly to a voluntary policy aimed at
merely slowing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, despite an overwhelming
body of evidence that only binding targets and a firm timetable will do
Now there is fresh criticism from sources Mr. Bush may find harder to
ignore. Last week Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, Mr. Bush's most
loyal ally in the debate over Iraq, gently but firmly rebuked the president
for abandoning the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global climate change and for
succumbing to the insupportable notion that fighting global warming will
impede economic growth.
That was followed by another salvo, from an expert panel assembled by
the National Academy of Sciences to assess Mr. Bush's proposals for further
research into climate change. Though polite, the panel could hardly have
been more contemptuous. It described Mr. Bush's plan as a redundant examination
of issues that had largely been settled, bereft of vision, executable
goals and timetables - in short, little more than a cover-up for inaction.
Of the two rebukes, Mr. Blair's may have been the more painful. The prime
minister said he regarded environmental degradation in general and climate
change in particular as "just as devastating in their potential impact"
as weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. "There will be no genuine
security," he said, "if the planet is ravaged." He also
pledged to cut Britain's greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by mid-century,
a longer-range but still a far more ambitious timetable than Kyoto's target
of an average 5 percent reduction by industrialized nations by 2012.
Mr. Blair's speech obviously served the political purpose of distancing
himself from the White House, at least on this issue, at a time when many
of his countrymen have criticized him for his support of Mr. Bush on Iraq.
It should also be noted that, in strictly economic terms, it is easier
for Mr. Blair to hold the high ground on this issue than it is for Mr.
Bush. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's wrenching decision some years
ago to convert Britain's energy base from coal to natural gas, a much
cleaner fuel, has already moved Britain closer to Mr. Blair's lofty targets
than it otherwise would have been.
Nevertheless, the prime minister's approach is everything Mr. Bush's
is not. It conveys a sense of urgency, calls for common sacrifice and
offers a coherent vision of how to get from here to there. It is, in short,
a recipe for the leadership that until not too long ago the world had
been looking to America to provide.
SEPP Comment: Yes, a sure recipe to lead Britain to economic suicide.
Maybe we can educate Blair and his supporters on the science before it
is too late. We'd hate to lose Britain.
8. The real environmental crisis: Why Poverty, not Affluence, is the
Environment's Number One Enemy
Prof Jack M. Hollander, a physicist and expert on energy at the Univ
of California, Berkeley, has produced a volume that charts a path to a
better and sustainable environment for the world's population. Eminently
readable, he makes the argument that poverty leads to pollution and stands
in the way of its control. Not a new argument, but it has seldom been
presented so well before. His chapters cover the adequacy of food supply,
water and air pollution, with a balanced discussion of the global warming
issue. (However, many of us would regard the available evidence with greater
skepticism.) There is a very sensible discussion of energy sources, from
fossil fuels to solar and nuclear. All in all, it is book that most of
us would agree to because it sticks to facts and avoids hype.
Published by the U of Cal press and 251 pages, it lists for $27.50. Very
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That Was Index