The Week That Was
December 8 , 2007
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Quote of the Week:
"Global warming is a wonderful environmental disease. It has a thousand symptoms and a thousand cures, and it has tens of thousands of practitioners with job security for decades to come unless the press and public opinion get tired of it." Global warming skeptic Harold Brown, an agricultural scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Georgia,
This week’s theme: The Bali bash – and Bali ‘bashed’ (by a newly published climate analysis)
The fate of the Earth hangs in the balance in Bali, but the issue is not whether humanity will succumb to a ‘climate crisis’…. but whether the authoritarian enemies of freedom (who rarely if ever recognize themselves as such) will succeed. [ITEM #1]
The 2007 ‘Bali Climate Declaration by Scientists’ [ITEM #2] argues for a 50% cut by 2050 “to limit global warming to no more than 2ºC above the pre-industrial temperature, a limit that has already been formally adopted by the European Union and a number of other countries.” It was signed by the ‘usual suspects’ but not by the two Swedish scientists who ‘invented’ the 2ºC limit. An oversight? Perhaps. But zealots have moved beyond these limits. Jakob von Uexkull, founder of the World Future Council (described as a global forum of 50 respected personalities) said: “If rich industrialized countries are serious about limiting an increase in average global temperatures to 2 degrees centigrade, then they would have to commit to zero emissions by 2020. Current pledges of 80 percent cuts by 2050 would be too conservative.” There, that’s putting the scientists in their place.
Recycling bad ideas from the 1970’s: Solar project in the African desert could supply clean energy to Europe [ITEM #3]. Remember the ‘solar power tower’ in the Mojave Desert?
More scare stories for Bali consumption [ITEM #4]. And here's a handy list of GW scare stories if you ever need some: http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm I particularly liked the ‘human extinction by 2100.’
The Science of Gore's Nobel: What if everyone believes in Global Warmism only because everyone believes in Global Warmism? [ITEM #5]. Meanwhile, the US Senate is struggling with a climate bill that seeks to impose caps on CO2. See: Caps, Taxes and Technology How do we Respond to Climate Change? http://www.marshall.org/pdf/materials/569.pdf
Cap-and-trade policies have been tried in Europe and they have proved to be an utter disaster. The British journal Nature in October said it’s time to dump cap-and-trade because it’s the wrong approach, and Kyoto has failed to cut greenhouse gases. Alan Greenspan pinpointed the entire cap-and-trade debate when he wrote, “Cap-and-trade systems or carbon taxes are likely to be popular only until real people lose real jobs as their consequence.” To put it bluntly: Senators are going to be asking the American people to pay more for home energy and pay higher prices at the gas pump for no climate benefit.
And finally, now in a peer-reviewed journal at last: The ‘smoking gun’ against anthropogenic global warming (AGW): GH models and observations disagree sharply; the ‘fingerprints’ just don’t match. [ITEM #6]. Now, how to spread the word?
1. THE BALI BASH
Peter Foster, Financial Post Published: Thursday, December 06, 2007
The fate of the Earth hangs in the balance in Bali, but the issue is not whether humanity will succumb to a "climate crisis," or how the international community might craft a successor to the tattered Kyoto Accord (Let's call it Kyoto). The real theme of this United Nations gabfest --like that of its 12 predecessors, and of the hundreds, if not thousands, of related meetings --is whether globalization and trade liberalization will be allowed to continue, with a corresponding increase in wealth, health and welfare, or whether the authoritarian enemies of freedom (who rarely if ever recognize themselves as such) will succeed in using environmental hysteria to undermine capitalism and increase their Majesterium. Any successor to Kyoto will be rooted in hobbling rich economies, increasing the poor world's resentment, unleashing environmental trade warfare, and blanketing the globe with rules and regulations that benefit only rulers and regulators. Bali is not about climate; it symbolizes the continued assault on freedom by those who seek --or pander to --political power under the guise of concern for humanity.
Just at the point where Marxism was being consigned to the dustbin of history, the more or less concealed power lust that had fed it found a new cause in the environment. The fact that the UN's 1992 Rio conference followed hard on the collapse of the Soviet Union represented almost the passing of a poisoned baton. Capitalism had once been the enemy because it was alleged to make people poor. Now it was the enemy because of the alleged side effects of making them rich. The emissions of carbon-based industrial society would lead to a climate in turmoil: We would be beset by Biblical plagues of floods, droughts and monster hurricanes.
This simplistic narrative depended on carbon dioxide being the main driver of climate. Scientists who pointed that there were likely other more important factors, that climate science was in its infancy and that earth's climate had varied dramatically long before the invention of the steam, internal combustion or jet engine, were not scientifically refuted; they were howled down as "deniers" or industry shills.
The environmental left, centred in the UN, has achieved stunning success in building and pushing the climate change/sustain-ability bandwagon. They have done this first by funding, then hijacking, scientific research via the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They have also promoted and allowed access to an ever-proliferating group of activist NGOs (Bali, significantly, is overrun by the non-elected "representatives" of scores of radical organizations, who have in turn forced similar numbers of industry representatives to follow them). NGOs have also had great success in pushing their alarmist message through a sympathetic media and thus --along with more direct lobbying--in achieving grossly disproportionate influence with democratic politicians. "Progressive" pols, meanwhile, have embraced environmental alarmism because it gives a much-needed boost to their flagging relevance.
Climate-change alarmism couldn't be presented as simply a new justification for power-seeking, so it had to be cloaked--as social-ism has always been cloaked, both consciously and unconsciously --in concern for "the poor." Addressing climate change has always been linked in the UN script with Third World development, even though it in fact represents the greatest threat to such development. Nevertheless, the prospect of more international redistribution has meant that poor countries' corrupt and/or incompetent governments have become enthusiastic supporters of the Kyoto "process."
The rapid and unexpected explosion of economic growth --and emissions --in China and India has created a wrinkle. The United States and Canada claim that the ballooning emissions of these prospective economic superpowers mean that they must be part of any "solution." China and India, by contrast, assert -encouraged by their "poor" colleagues in the Third World bloc --that since this "problem" was created by the developed countries, the developed countries must deal with it.
Bali will see nothing but posturing and preening, "tough" negotiations, and an agreement to talk further, in yet more exotic locations. But we should remember that the object of the exercise is not to deal practically with the problems of poverty, or to realistically address the challenges of extreme weather, whether caused by humans or otherwise. Bjorn Lomborg has eloquently pointed out why Kyoto-style approaches represent a very poor return on investment, and why we would be much better to deal directly with the specific threats of drought, flooding, malaria or hurricane damage, and with the broader issue of how to promote development. But that criticism misses the real significance of Kyoto and Kyoto. They are not about effectively addressing specific problems, they are about exploiting ignorance about climate science, and continuing to demonize capitalism, in order to make ecocrats feel good, make others feel bad, pad incomes, and expand travel schedules.
Democratic governments have no choice but to cater to the ignorance/alarm/hypocrisy engendered in their electorates. This catering in turn reflects greater or lesser degrees of cynicism, skepticism, or moralistic bloviation.
The Australian delegation was feted on the first day of Bali because the subcontinent's new government chose at last to sign on to Kyoto, even though the agreement lay in ruins, and would have had virtually zero impact on the climate anyway. Canada's Environment Minister John Baird --who must cope with the fact that his Liberal predecessors signed Kyoto without any plan or intention of fulfilling their obligations--must sing from the U.N. hymnbook while keeping a firm hand on the nation's collective wallet. And preparing for the next meeting
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc *****************************************
2. 2007 BALI CLIMATE DECLARATION BY SCIENTISTS
This consensus document was prepared under the auspices of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
The 2007 IPCC report, compiled by several hundred climate scientists, has unequivocally concluded that our climate is warming rapidly, and that we are now at least 90% certain that this is mostly due to human activities. The amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now far exceeds the natural range of the past 650,000 years, and it is rising very quickly due to human activity. If this trend is not halted soon, many millions of people will be at risk from extreme events such as heat waves, drought, floods and storms, our coasts and cities will be threatened by rising sea levels, and many ecosystems, plants and animal species will be in serious danger of extinction.
The next round of focused negotiations for a new global climate treaty (within the 1992 UNFCCC process) needs to begin in December 2007 and be completed by 2009. The prime goal of this new regime must be to limit global warming to no more than 2 ºC above the pre-industrial temperature, a limit that has already been formally adopted by the European Union and a number of other countries.
Based on current scientific understanding, this requires that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by at least 50% below their 1990 levels by the year 2050. In the long run, greenhouse gas concentrations need to be stabilised at a level well below 450 ppm (parts per million; measured in CO2equivalent concentration). In order to stay below 2 ºC, global emissions must peak and decline in the next 10 to 15 years, so there is no time to lose.
As scientists, we urge the negotiators to reach an agreement that takes these targets as a minimum requirement for a fair and effective global climate agreement.
Q: How did Europe decide that the ‘dangerous’ level was at 2 degC and what is their evidence?
A: It was published by Azar and Rodhe, quoting as the ‘authority’ something they themselves wrote in an obscure Swedish journal (see discussion by SFS published in Eos, Vol 78, page 584, December 16, 1997) ************************************
3. MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE SAND: SOLAR PROJECT IN AFRICAN DESERT COULD SUPPLY CLEAN ENERGY TO EUROPE
A string of gigantic solar generators in the northern African desert could cleanly supply one-sixth of Europe's electricity needs, say backers of a project called Desertec. The project relies on concentrated solar power, in which giant mirrors focus the sun's rays on pillars filled with water, creating steam, which drives turbines, which generate electricity. In the Desertec scheme, about one-third of the power would be transmitted by cables underneath the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, while two-thirds would be used locally. In addition, the stations could be used as desalination plants to provide fresh water to desert countries. The prince of Jordan presented the plan to the European Parliament last week, and is urging the E.U. to front $10 billion for the project. They're reflecting on it. Get it? Reflecting? source: The Guardian *******************************************************
4. NOTE TO SELF: LEARN TO SWIM
Some 150 million people will be at risk from flooding by 2070, says report
Some 150 million people in the world's biggest cities could be at risk from flooding by 2070, and at-risk coastal property could have a value of $35 trillion, says a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. About 40 million people and $3 trillion worth of property are now at risk, but population growth and urban development will make those numbers skyrocket by 2070, the report said. In a list of the 136 port cities most likely to be at risk from catastrophic flooding in 2070, India took the top two, with Calcutta and Mumbai. The rest of the top 10 were cities in Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and --with Miami coming in at No. 9 --the U.S. Says the report, "Given the large and growing concentration of people and assets in port city locations, and the importance of global trade, failure to develop effective adaptation strategies would inevitably have not just local but also large national and even wider economic consequences."
sources: MSNBC, Reuters straight to the report: Ranking Port Cities With High Exposure and Vulnerability to Climate Extremes ********************************************
5. THE SCIENCE OF GORE'S NOBEL
What if everyone believes in global Warmism only because everyone believes in global Warmism?
BY HOLMAN W. JENKINS JR. December 5, 2007
The Nobel Committee might as well have called it Al Gore's Inner Peace Prize, given the way it seems designed to help him disown his lifelong ambition to become president in favor of a higher calling, as savior of a planet.
The media will be tempted to blur the fact that his medal, which Mr. Gore will collect on Monday in Oslo, isn't for "science." In fact, a Nobel has never been awarded for the science of global warming. Even Svante Arrhenius, who first described the "greenhouse" effect, won his for something else in 1903. Yet now one has been awarded for promoting belief in manmade global warming as a crisis.
How this honor has befallen the former Veep could perhaps be explained by another Nobel, awarded in 2002 to Daniel Kahneman for work he and the late Amos Tversky did on "availability bias," roughly the human propensity to judge the validity of a proposition by how easily it comes to mind.
Their insight has been fruitful and multiplied: "Availability cascade" has been coined for the way a proposition can become irresistible simply by the media repeating it; "informational cascade" for the tendency to replace our beliefs with the crowd's beliefs; and "reputational cascade" for the rational incentive to do so.
Mr. Gore clearly understands the game he's playing, judging by his resort to such nondispositive arguments as: "The people who dispute the international consensus on global warming are in the same category now with the people who think the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona."
Here's exactly the problem that availability cascades pose: What if the heads being counted to certify an alleged "consensus" arrived at their positions by counting heads?
It may seem strange that scientists would participate in such a phenomenon. It shouldn't. Scientists are human; they do not wait for proof; many devote their professional lives to seeking evidence for hypotheses (especially well-funded hypotheses) they've chosen to believe.
Less surprising is the readiness of many prominent journalists to embrace the role of enforcer of an orthodoxy simply because it is the orthodoxy. For them, a consensus apparently suffices as proof of itself.
With politicians and lobbyists, of course, you are dealing with sophisticated people versed in the ways of public opinion whose very prosperity depends on positioning themselves via such cascades. Their reactions tend to be, for that reason, on a higher intellectual level.
Take John Dingell. He told an environmental publication last year that the "world . . . is great at having consensuses that are in great error." Yet he turned around a few months later and introduced a sweeping carbon tax bill, which would confront Congress more frontally than Congress cares to be confronted with a rational approach to climate change if Congress really believes human activity is responsible.
Mr. Dingell is no fool. Is he merely trying to embarrass those who offer fake cures for climate change at the expense of out-of-favor industries such as Mr. Dingell's beloved Detroit?
Take Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist working with Kleiner Perkins, a firm Mr. Gore joined last month to promote alternative energy investments. Mr. Khosla told a recent Senate hearing: "One does not need to believe in climate change to support climate change legislation. . . . Many executives would prefer to deal with known legislation even if unwarranted."
Mr. Khosla is no fool either. His argument is that the cascade itself is a reason that politicians can gain comfort by getting aboard his agenda.
Now let's suppose a most improbable, rhapsodic lobbying success for Mr. Gore, Mr. Khosla and folks on their side of the table--say, a government mandate to replace half the gasoline consumed in the U.S. with a carbon-neutral alternative. This would represent a monumental, $400 billion-a-year business opportunity for the green energy lobby. The impact on global carbon emissions? Four percent--less than China's predicted emissions growth over the next three or four years.
Don't doubt that this is precisely the chasm that keeps Mr. Gore from running for president. He could neither win the office nor govern on the basis of imposing the kinds of costs supposedly necessary to deal with an impending "climate crisis." Yet his credibility would become laughable if he failed to insist on such costs. How much more practical, then, to cash in on the crowd-pleasing role of angry prophet, without having to take responsibility for policies that the public will eventually discover to be fraudulent.
Public opinion cascades are powerful but also fragile--liable to be overturned in an instant when new information comes along. The current age of global warming politics will certainly end with a whimper once a few consecutive years of cooling are recorded. Why should we expect such cooling? Because the forces that caused warming and cooling in the past, before the advent of industrial civilization, are still at work.
No, this wouldn't prove or disprove a human role in warming, only that climate is variable and subject to complicated influences. But it would also eliminate the large incentive for politicians to traffic in doom-laden predictions--because such predictions would no longer command media assent and would cease to function as levers to redistribute resources.
Mr. Gore would have to find a new job.
Mr. Jenkins is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal on Wednesdays.
6. CLIMATE WARMING IS NATURALLY CAUSED AND SHOWS NO HUMAN INFLUENCE: CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) IS NOT A POLLUTANT.
Press Release from The Science & Environmental Policy Project 6 December 2007
Contact: Dr S Fred Singer, President, SEPP singer@SEPP.org 703-920-2744
Climate scientists at the University of Rochester, the University of Alabama, and the University of Virginia report that observed patterns of temperature changes (‘fingerprints’) over the last thirty years are not in accord with what greenhouse models predict and can better be explained by natural factors, such as solar variability. Therefore, climate change is ‘unstoppable’ and cannot be affected or modified by controlling the emission of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, as is proposed in current legislation.
These results are in conflict with the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and also with some recent research publications based on essentially the same data. However, they are supported by the results of the US-sponsored Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).
The report is published in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society [DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651]. The authors are Prof. David H. Douglass (Univ. of Rochester), Prof. John R. Christy (Univ. of Alabama), Benjamin D. Pearson (graduate student), and Prof.
S. Fred Singer (Univ. of Virginia). The fundamental question is whether the observed warming is natural or anthropogenic (human-caused).
Lead author David Douglass said: “The observed pattern of warming, comparing surface and atmospheric temperature trends, does not show the characteristic fingerprint associated with greenhouse warming. The inescapable conclusion is that the human contribution is not significant and that observed increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases make only a negligible contribution to climate warming.”
Co-author John Christy said: “Satellite data and independent balloon data agree that atmospheric warming trends do not exceed those of the surface. Greenhouse models, on the other hand, demand that atmospheric trend values be 2-3 times greater. We have good reason, therefore, to believe that current climate models greatly overestimate the effects of greenhouse gases. Satellite observations suggest that GH models ignore negative feedbacks, produced by clouds and by water vapor, that diminish the warming effects of carbon dioxide.”
Co-author S. Fred Singer said: “The current warming trend is simply part of a natural cycle of climate warming and cooling that has been seen in ice cores, deep-sea sediments, stalagmites, etc., and published in hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals. The mechanism for producing such cyclical climate changes is still under discussion; but they are most likely caused by variations in the solar wind and associated magnetic fields that affect the flux of cosmic rays incident on the earth’s atmosphere. In turn, such cosmic rays are believed to influence cloudiness and thereby control the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface—and thus the climate.”
■Our research demonstrates that the ongoing rise of atmospheric CO2 has only a minor influence on climate change. We must conclude, therefore, that attempts to control CO2 emissions are ineffective and pointless. – but very costly.