|The Week That Was
Sept 25, 2004
2. NEW BOOK FROM CLIMATOLOGIST WM KININMONTH, FORMER HEAD OF AUSTRALIA'S NATIONAL CLIMATE CENTRE, CALLS IPCC MODELS INADEQUATE FOR FUTURE PLANNING
3. WORLD ENERGY COUNCIL: GERMAN GOVERNMENT'S ENERGY POLICY MAY COME UP SHORT
4. KERRY'S ENERGY PLAN: A POLITICAL COP-OUT
5. WASHINGTON POST "OUTLOOK" COMMENTARY
6. NATURE (2 SEPT 2004) DUMPS ON THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
7. SPECIAL INTEREST ORGANIZATIONS: WHY THEY PUSH GREEN AGENDA
8. "THE CAPTIVE MIND" TEACHES A LESSON FOR GLOBAL WARMING
9. SPOOF: TONY BLAIR TO HOUND 'GLOBAL WARMING'.....
2. New book by William Kininmonth: "Climate Change, a natural
William Kininmonth, former director of the Australian National Climate Centre argues that the IPCC model of climate is so simple as to be inadequate as a descriptive tool of the climate system, let alone a predictive tool.
He argues that models underestimate the magnitude of the overturning circulation and of the poleward transport of energy. They overestimate longwave exchange in the tropics and underestimate it over high latitudes. Extreme temperature projections come from models that contrive 'positive feedback' processes to amplify the effect.
So any IPCC forecasts of possible future global warming are worthless. He concedes global warming could be happening, but sees the causes in the complexity of the climate system itself, not the result of man's tinkering with the environment. He goes into some detail about the complexities, in passing stressing what the climate modelers have left out. He makes the case that climate change is a natural phenomenon, one we do best to accommodate to rather than attempt to resist.
The book is available from Multi-Science, 5 Wates Way, Brentwood,
In 20 years, windmills may generate more electricity than nuclear power plants, but Germany may not have access to the energy it needs for its industrialized economy, according to Gerhard Ott, chairman of the World Energy Council's German committee. That, he says, is because the government is pursuing a misguided policy that focuses one-sidedly on conservation in an environment where rising demand will intensify the competition for scarce natural resources.
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrat-Greens coalition was swept to power in 1998 on the promise to phase out nuclear energy, limit consumption of fossil fuels, and subsidize alternative energy sources. For businesses and private customers, this recipe has spelled stifling energy prices. But beyond high prices, which are choking the domestic economy, the World Energy Council says the government's strategy will not guarantee Germany the energy it needs to keep growing.
Germany ranks No. 5 in energy use behind the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Like most EU countries, Germany is highly dependent upon energy imports, especially of oil and natural gas. This dependency on imports, 61 percent in 2001, will increase in the future, with Russia as the main source. "Security of supply, therefore, is a serious concern and a challenge, for which the answer can only be diversification of supply sources," says the WEC's Ott. His motto: "Keep all energy options open!"
Germany has done just the opposite. The Red-Green government began phasing out nuclear energy, a clean and cheap source, shortly after it took office in 1998. And it is pumping taxpayer euros into wind power and other "alternative" energy sources, artificially boosting demand for these expensive forms of power.
At the same time, energy taxes are high. They account for 41 percent of the price for electricity and 47 percent of the price for gasoline. And the market is distorted, especially through subsidies and quotas favoring renewable energies. As the Green party gains strength and the Social Democrats fall out of favor, these tendencies will become even stronger. Ott says that this is putting at risk "the principal task of any energy policy, namely to secure and to maintain balance among the three elementary factors of security of supply, environmental acceptability, and competitiveness."
The World Energy Council forecasts a strong jump in energy demand in fast-growing Asia for decades to come. This means that Asian countries will be competing for the same resources as Germany and other European Union countries. Although the share of fossil energy sources is expected to fall in the coming decades to 70 percent from 80 percent, energy consumption will almost double from today's level, according to the WEC. During this period, the share of gas in German energy consumption will rise to 33 percent from 23 percent today.
While the United States is working hard to secure access to cheap natural resources, Germany is promoting the expansion of non-fossil energy sources such as windmills and biogas to compensate for the phasing out of nuclear energy. But the WEC said atomic energy is the only source that will allow Germany to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. It is also the cheapest. Alternative energy, in contrast, will never account for more than 10 percent of Germany's energy use, according to the WEC.
When the electricity market was liberalized in 1998, the government marked the decision as the beginning of falling prices. For almost two years, prices fell for businesses. But consumers continue to pay the same high prices, and energy-intensive industries are now paying close to what they paid in 1998. Rather than let businesses profit from sinking prices, the government has increased its share of the profit.
On every kilowatt of electricity, the government collects electricity
tax and other fees. It also forces consumers to subsidize every kilowatt-hour
of energy generated by non-fossil fuels and other regenerative energy
sources. In total, the government collected EUR12.3 billion in 2003 compared
to EUR2.3 billion in 1998. The government's bite of the electricity price
jumped to 40 percent last year from 25 percent in 2003.
Your editorial (9/13) is refreshingly realistic in addressing the ongoing sterile energy policy debate.
Coal and nuclear will certainly continue to generate electricity, not only here but worldwide. Natural gas will provide home heating; a premium fuel, it will prove too costly for electric generation and would soon require environmentally risky and insecure imports of LNG (liquefied natural gas).
Oil will be needed for transportation in the near and medium term. Conservation is desirable for many reasons and will become imperative as inevitable depletion raises the price.
But mandating higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars is a cop-out by politicians to avoid hard choices. Even subsidies may not persuade consumers to buy cars they don't want. Besides, lower cost-per-mile simply creates more driving, more congestion, and more pollution.
The answer might be to raise taxes on motor fuels - in predictable steps -- while simultaneously reducing various income taxes. Economists agree that a consumption tax would increase savings, investment and economic growth - hence average income and living standards.
Gas-guzzling vehicles will then spend more time in the garage and less on the road. Less oil use also reduces imports, dollar outflow, traffic congestion, and pollution
But as the tone of your editorial suggests, politicians are unlikely
to advocate a gas tax before an election - or even after.
5. Washington Post "Outlook" Commentary
The New York Times treated us to Jason Blair; liberal extremists recently
brought us Michael Moore; currently CBS is entertaining us with Dan Rather's
forgeries. Apparently, not to be outdone, The Washington Post, on Sunday
September 19, 2004 treats our technically ignorant and gullible populace
to: "Warming in the Winds".
In an editorial and news stories , Nature criitcizes the RAS for adviisng the Russian government that the Kyoto Protocol lacks a scientific basis. Nature questions - without citing any evidence - if the RAS reflects the views of Russian scientists. We assume this is all motivated by the collision between the RAS and the British delegation headed by Sir David King at their recent Moscow meeting.
It is noteworthy that the Royal Society, Britain's renowned science academy, has been in the forefront of climate activism, trying to enlist other national academies to a joint statement on the danger of Global Warming. As we noted earlier, the US National Academy decided to take a pass on that invitation.
Meanwhile, a news item in the same issue of Nature reports that Germans
are less worried about the effects of Global Warming after seeing the
film "The Day After Tomorrow." Evidently, they have a
hard time figuring out how warming can lead to a sudden ice age. So do
By Prof. John Brignell
Organisations of the type that concern us here (i.e. SIFs - Single Issue Fanatics) come into being as collections of individuals who are fanatical about one particular issue - alcohol, tobacco, pollution etc. It is in the nature of such organisations that, once they are established, they begin to behave like business corporations. They take on premises, staff and other overheads, creating for themselves a cash flow problem. Like businesses they can only continue to walk the tightrope they have set up for themselves by increasing their income, and in turn manufacturing more of their product, which in this case is anxiety. The income arises from charitable donations or, in some cases, government subsidy, but in order to stimulate the income it is necessary to remain newsworthy.
So the SIFs seize upon any evidence that appears to support their particular viewpoint and ensure that it gets the maximum airing. In order to do this they form symbiotic relationships with other groups. The press and other media are ever hungry for news stories, preferably of a scary nature, and are always grateful if these are served up ready made without the need for further effort. Scientists, equally hungry for fame and research grants, are encouraged to move into particular areas (and achieve appropriate results!), secure in the knowledge that they are guaranteed widespread coverage.
The alternative to the corporate strategy is for groups of fanatics to form a political party. In much of the world this is a sterile operation, but it comes into its own when proportional representation operates. Under these conditions, single party government becomes virtually impossible and small parties can twist the arms of their numerically superior coalition partners to hog the ministries that correspond to their own particular obsession.
Thus the Greens, for example, managed to gain a virtual monopoly on environment ministries in Europe and were able to foist a theory of their choice onto a whole continent. Having failed in the 1960s with threats of a new ice age, they did an about turn and adopted suggestions by some scientists that man-made global warming was occurring. You can find a scientist who has suggested almost anything if you look hard enough.
The spurious theory of climate change is easily disposed of by scientific argument and the actual evidence, but by careful selection and practical politicking you can bring almost any proposition to the fore. The ease with which a specious theory such as global warming can be imposed on the world constitutes a textbook example of political chicanery. Once you have crossed a certain threshold the theory becomes established as fact and other politicians feel obliged to pay lip service to it. It can then become a political tool to conduct such intrigues as economic warfare against a competitor, and therefore convenient to maintain.
Where proportional representation is absent, there are other strategies
that can be adopted, depending mainly on establishing a powerful faction
within an existing party. In the European Union, control is yielded to
unelected commissioners, which gives even greater scope for SIFs to take
control of particular areas, most notably the environment.
The text below is from Czeslaw Milosz' "The Captive Mind", first published in 1953. The theme of the book is the thinking of intellectuals behind the Iron Curtain, but some passages have broader resonance. This paragraph is on pp. 199-200 of the 1981 Vintage Books edition.
"In the nineteenth century, with the rise of literacy, brochures popularizing scientific theories made their appearance. Regardless of the intrinsic worth of these theories, we must grant that from the moment they take on a popular form they become something other than what they were as hypotheses of scientific research. For example, the simplified and vulgarized version of Darwin's theory of the origin of species and the struggle for existence is not the same concept that it was for Darwin or for his scholarly opponents. It takes on emotional coloration, and changes into an important sociological element.
The leaders of the twentieth century, like Hitler for instance, drew
their knowledge from popular brochures, which explains the incredible
confusion in their minds. Evidently, there is no place in such digests
for the humble remarks of true scientists who assure us that the laws
discovered are hypothetical and relative to the method chosen and the
system of symbols used. Vulgarized knowledge characteristically gives
birth to a feeling that EVERYTHING is understandable and explained. It
is like a system of bridges built over chasms. One can travel boldly ahead
over these bridges, ignoring the chasms. It is forbidden to look down
into them; but that, alas, does not alter the fact that they exist."
From The Barking Sunday Posthorn (Sunday, 12 September)
The British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, is set to make an important speech next week declaring that he will use The Parliament Act to ban hunting with hounds, a major cause of 'global warming'. Apparently, Mr. Blair has taken advice from certain senior scientists who say that there is incontrovertible evidence that hounds in pursuit of foxes breathe out more carbon dioxide than the whole of Islington on heat. This is known as the 'Pants Factor' (Pf), and hunderpogenic carbon dioxide rises markedly above Open Hound Shows (not to mention the crap factor of methane).
Moreover, rotting foxes, when not eaten alive, are also a source of slow-release carbon dioxide, a vulpian emission of gases equivalent to volcanic eruptions, a point well-noted by Pliny the Elder in 79 AD