The Week That Was (Nov 29, 2008) brought to you by SEPP
your support! Donations are fully
SEPP relies on
private donations only, does no solicit support from industry or government
SEPP does not
employ fundraisers, mass mailings, or costly advertisements
SEPP has a
modest budget, no employees, pays no salaries, relies on volunteers
scientists donate their time pro bono and assign book royalties and speaking
fees to SEPP
checks to SEPP, 1600 S Eads ST,
Quote of the Week:
Polar bears would stand a greater chance
of avoiding extinction if people stopped shooting them than if they reduced
greenhouse gas emissions – Bjorn Lomborg
In July 2008 EPA issued an ANPR
(Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), detailing how they would control CO2
as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
We and many others have submitted Comments; the NIPCC report is now part
of the docket. We look forward to having
our day in court where we can cross-examine the “evidence” of the warm-mongers
(also known as AGWAs – AGW alarmists)
note: “This requires a quantifiable and measurable ‘cause and effect’
determination” [ANPR p.30-31]. But EPA
already appears to presume a causal effect of anthropogenic CO2 (see ANPR at
186 to 194):
“The scientific record shows there is compelling and
robust evidence that observed climate change can be attributed to the heating
effect caused by global anthropogenic GHG emissions. The evidence goes
beyond increases in global average temperature to include observed changes in
precipitation patterns, sea level rise, extreme hot and cold days, sea ice,
glaciers, ecosystem functioning and wildlife patterns” [emphasis added].
This erroneous claim is highly prejudicial and improper at this stage
of rule making. EPA “as a matter of law”
must fairly consider the best available science, which includes
compelling scientific evidence showing that CO2 is not a significant
(i.e., as compared to natural factors) contributor to global warming. [See
NIPCC report “Nature – Not Human
Activity – Rules the Climate” http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC_final.pdf
EPA’s ANPR "is nothing less than the most costly,
complicated, and unworkable regulatory scheme ever proposed," Heritage
Foundation expert Ben Lieberman argues in a new analysis. "Virtually every concern heightened by
the economic downturn, especially job losses, would be exacerbated under"
the proposed rules. [For details on the
consequences of the EPA plan, see ITEM
It is worrisome that
President-elect Obama addressed a Governors’ global warming summit as follows: "Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combatting
climate change," he
says in the video. "The science is beyond dispute and the facts are
clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. Weve seen record
drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each
passing hurricane season.” He repeated his campaign promise to
reduce climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and
invest $150 billion in new energy-saving technologies
We assume these words were written for Obama by
his climate/energy adviser Jason Grumet and his merry band of warm-mongers and
that the excellent economics team assembled by Obama will know how to deal with
this nonsense. But one cannot be sure; should one count on the good
sense of Congress to stop environmental excesses that would drive the economy
down the drain? One hopeful sign: Obama is taking his time to designate the top
people of EPA and CEQ – while his economics team is already in place.
Editorial #13 (11/29/08)
Controversy -- Part-4
continue the saga of the paper of Santer+16 co-authors [S17 in Int’l J Clim
2008]. You recall from recent TWTW
newsletters at www.sepp.org that it attacks
the findings of Douglass, Christy, Pearson, and Singer [DCPS in IJC 2007] as
well as of the NIPCC report “Nature –
Not Human Activity – Rules the Climate”
http://www.sepp.org/publications/NIPCC_final.pdf NIPCC (see figures 6, 7, 8, and 9)
demonstrates the disparity between modeled and observed fingerprints. Please note that all NIPCC figures are taken
from the (April 2006) CCSP-SAP-1.1 report <www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/default.htm> (of which Santer was a lead author).
S17 now claim that the observed temperature trends in the
tropical troposphere are “consistent” with those calculated from greenhouse
(GH) models. Their claim is based on two
assertions: The observations (or more
properly, the analyses of the radiosonde data) have changed drastically just in
the past two years since the CCSP report was published. And also -- the uncertainties of both
observed and modeled trends are now found to be so large as to produce an
overlap , i.e. there is no longer a disagreement.
S17 make much of the effects of auto-correlation in
increasing the “standard error” of the observed trends. But in the final anlysis, their structural
uncertainty far exceeds the statistical value.
In trying to find the uncertainty of the model trends, S17 show that
they really don’t know how to “average” the results of models of different
quality. They finally resort to
displaying (in their Fig 6) what amounts to the “range” of trend values (i.e.,
from the lowest to the highest). But
“range” is not a valid statistical measure (although incorrectly used by Wigley
in the CCSP Executive Summary) since it gives undue weight to “outliers.” Paradoxically, the more models one averages,
the wider the “range” – but the smaller the dispersion of a Gaussian (normal)
No need to comment further, except I just cannot resist pointing to
page 134 of the CCSP-SAP-1.1 report [Karl et al 2006]. In an Appendix, Wigley, Santer, and Lanzante
explain the mysteries of statistical issues regarding auto-correlation to the
great unwashed in real simple words. But
as far as I can tell, they never applied it to either models or observations.
1. The NY Times’ bad
advice to Obama
2. The huge economic costs of EPA's ANPR
regulations under the Clean Air Act
3. How Congress
downfall – and how to fix it
4. Russian oil companies plan to drill offshore Florida: Will we?
6. Methane mutterings: Is
emission increasing or sink decreasing?
greenhouse gas that nobody knew: Is the science really settled?
8. Green Journalism -- exposed
NEWS YOU CAN USE
beyond hope? Lord Turner will set out
how the Government is expected to cut greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050
on 1990 levels. Hydrogen cars, better
insulated homes and solar panels will be recommended as part of costly plans
being brought forward by the Government to cut carbon emissions, despite the
Published online 26 November 2008 | Nature 456, 435 (2008) |
Kingdom raised nearly 65 million (US$82 million) last week in the first auction
of carbon-emission allowances in the second phase of the European trading
“Clean Coal” is coal that is burned, then
stripped of Nitrous Oxides, Sulphur Dioxide, particulates, and Mercury.
This can be done with modern coal gasification techniques. CO2 is not a
problem and if fact is plant food. The more CO2, the easier it is to grow
plants to feed the world's expanding populations.
Must-See Video: All Things Caused by Global
Warming? (Warning, it is funny and painfully accurate)
This 9 minute video
brilliantly and accurately (it is not a spoof!) shows
the absurdity of today’s
man-made global-warming fear campaign.
It appears to have been produced by a group called
Conservative Cavalry. They really did their
homework and put together quite a show.
This video should be shown in classrooms across
the country and in newsrooms!
The video is
based on the website run by
Dr. John Brignell, a UK Emeritus Engineering Professor “A complete list of things caused by global
Great Xmas presents, obtainable from SEPP:
The Great Global Warming Swindle DVD
Apocalypse? NO! DVD
Carbon Dioxide and the "Climate Crisis" Reality or
An Inconvenient Truth ... or Convenient Fiction? DVD
Unstoppable Solar Cycles: The Real Story of Greenland
Global Warming or Global Governance DVD
Some best-sellers on Amazon.com:
Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years
book by S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery
Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science,
Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor
book by Roy Spencer
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism)
book by Christopher Horner
The perfect antidote to the Hansen/Gore scare
stories about 20-ft sea level rise:
”Are the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets in Danger of Collapse?” by
geologist Cliff Ollier
UNDER THE BOTTOM LINE
The Supreme Court rules that an endangered country trumps an endangered
species. The U.S. Navy can now defend
against an enemy attack that would really ruin the environment.
The Gore Effect has a long and storied history.
What follows is a sampling of how Mother Nature enjoys mocking global warming
fear promoters. #1) First
October snow since 1922 blankets London as global warming bill debated October
2008 # 2) Global
Warming Vote on Snowy Day in Washington - Senate committee debates expensive
climate change bill snow blanket D.C. December 2007 # 3) HOUSE
HEARING ON 'WARMING OF THE PLANET' CANCELED AFTER SNOW/ICE STORM February 2007
# 4) NOT
AGAIN! DC 'Snow Advisory' Issued on Day of Congressional Global Warming Hearing
March 2007 # 5) Gore
decries 'global warming' in bitterly cold NYC December 2006 # 6) Gore
delivers environmental message at Harvard - ...with near 125-year record
breaking low temps October 2008 # 7) Global
warming activists urged to focus on Earth Day rallies and ignore snow as it
'piles up outside our windows' April 17, 2007 # 8) No Joke!
Cyclists 'braved freezing cold temps' to promote global warming awareness in
New York -
October 22, 2008 # 9) Global
warming protest in Maryland frosted with snow January 2008 # 10) Global
warming rally in the snow April 2007 # 11) Snow
won't dampen global-warming rallies April 2007 # 12) Brrr.
- Obama to global warming demonstrators: 'This is probably not the weather to
hold up those signs...it's a little chilly today' - October 28, 2008
# 13) Global
Warming Awareness Walk Braves Snow Storm March 2007 ]
***And finally: Not again! Global warming rally
in DC faces unusual November snow and cold Gore Effect - November 17, 2008
1. SAVE THE ECONOMY, AND THE PLANET
NYTimes Editorial, November 27, 2008
Environment ministers preparing for next week’s
talks on global warming in Poznan,
been sounding decidedly downbeat. From Paris to Beijing, the refrain is
the same: This is no time to pursue ambitious plans to stop global warming. We
can’t deal with a financial crisis and reduce emissions at the same time.
a very different message coming from this country. President-elect Barack Obama
is arguing that there is no better time than the present to invest heavily in
clean-energy technologies. Such investment, he says, would confront the threat
of unchecked warming, reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and help
revive the American economy.
what you will: a climate policy wrapped inside an energy policy wrapped inside
an economic policy. By any name, it is a radical shift from the defeatism and
denial that marked President Bush’s eight years in office. If Mr. Obama follows
through on his commitments, this country will at last provide the global
leadership that is essential for addressing the dangers of climate change.
first six months in office, Mr. Bush reneged on a campaign promise to regulate
carbon dioxide and walked away from the Kyoto Protocol, a modest first effort
to control global greenhouse gas emissions.
Still two months from the White House, Mr. Obama has
convincingly reaffirmed his main climate related promises.
One is to
impose (Congress willing) a mandatory cap on emissions aimed at reducing America’s
output of greenhouses gas by 80 percent by midcentury. According to mainstream
scientists, that is the minimum necessary to stabilize atmospheric
concentrations of carbon dioxide and avoid the worst consequences of global
warming. Mr. Obama’s second pledge is to invest $15 billion a year to build a
clean economy that cuts fuel costs and creates thousands of green jobs. That
includes investments in solar power, wind power, clean coal (plants capable of
capturing and storing carbon emissions) and, as part of any bailout, helping
Detroit retool assembly lines to build a new generation of more fuel-efficient
has surrounded himself with like-minded people who have spent years immersed in
the complexities of energy policy. His transition chief, John Podesta, was an
early advocate of assisting the automakers and of finding low-carbon
alternatives to gasoline. Peter Orszag, his choice to run the Office of
Management and Budget (where environmental initiatives went to die during the
Bush years) is an expert on cap-and-trade programs to limit industrial
emissions of greenhouse gases.
is not guaranteed. Last year, a far more modest climate-change bill fell well
short of a simple majority in the Senate. At least on the surface, it seems
counterintuitive to impose new regulations (and, in the short term anyway,
higher energy costs) on a struggling economy. Mr. Obama will need all his
oratorical power to make the opposite case.
historical landscape from Richard Nixon onward is littered with bold and
unfulfilled promises to wean the nation from fossil fuels, especially imported
oil. What is different now is the need to deal with the clear and present
threat of global warming. What is also different is that the country has
elected a president who believes that meeting the challenge of climate change
is essential to the health of the planet and to America’s economic future.
2. EPA REGULATION OF CO2 THREATENS ENORMOUS BURDEN TO BUSINESSES,
CHURCHES, FARMS, INDIVIDUALS
Liddy Bourne. The Heartland Institute,
October 17, 2008
Bloomberg News reported this week that if Sen. Barack Obama is elected president
next month, he intends to classify carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant and
order the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate it under the Clean Air
The Bloomberg report, based on an interview with Obama energy advisor Jason
Grumet, is the clearest sign yet that Obama is planning a massive expansion of
government through EPA that will make a finding of "endangerment"
related to CO2 emissions.
The Supreme Court last year ruled that CO2 is a pollutant, but President George
W. Bush refused to regulate it because he believed setting climate policy for
the nation should be the job of Congress, not a huge administrative
On July 11, 2008, EPA staff released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(ANPR) that would declare carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant to be regulated.
That draft has become the framework of the Obama plan. The draft and 800
appendices supporting it in the Federal Register run to 18,094 pages,
and stacked up would rise 6 -1/2 feet.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, EPA currently issues permits to
15,000 businesses under the Clean Air Act. If carbon dioxide were declared a
dangerous pollutant and regulated under the Clean Art Act, more than 1.2
million new permits would have to be issued. Among those needing permits to
stay in business are:
- 1 million mid- to large-sized
buildings, including 10 percent of all churches, 20 percent of all food
service businesses, half of the buildings in the lodging industry, and
92,000 health care facilities.
- 200,000 manufacturing
- 20,000 large farms.
The mind boggles at the thought of the construction delays,
economic uncertainty, paperwork burdens, and engineering expenses that would
surface under this regulatory plan.
The flood of permit applications would overwhelm the resources of state EPAs
that administer regulations under the Clean Air Act.
Farms would be considered a stationary source of greenhouse gas emissions just
like power plants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the following agriculture
operations would be required to secure permits:
- Dairy facilities with more
than 25 cows
- Beef operations with more
than 50 cattle
- Swine operations with more
than 200 hogs
- Farms with more than 500
acres of corn
The Department of Agriculture concluded in its initial
review of ANPR, "These operations simply could not bear the regulatory
compliance costs that would be involved."
Obama and EPA staff want to act without the consent of Congress. The mere act
of designating CO2 as a dangerous pollutant may well trigger regulatory action
under other provisions of the Clean Air Act--actions that would dwarf the Kyoto
Protocol in their scale, scope, and cost. Onerous restrictions on energy use
would likely result from EPA action on CO2. We could end up with a program of
de-industrialization without Congress ever voting on it.
At time when the financial markets are crashing and a downturn in the economy
looms, this plan will end free enterprise as we know it. It is bad for American
taxpayers and a blow to democracy.
The Economic Costs of the EPA's ANPR Regulations
by David Kreutzer & Karen Campbell, The Heritage Foundation,
October 29, 2008
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Advance Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (ANPR) foreshadows new regulations of unprecedented scope,
magnitude, and detail. This notice is not just bureaucratic rumination, but could
very well become the law of the land. Jason Grumet, a senior environmental
advisor to Barack Obama, has promised that a President Obama would
"initiate those rulings." These rulings offer the possibility of
regulating everything from lawn-mower efficiency to the cruising speed of
supertankers. Regardless of the chosen regulatory mechanisms, the overall
economic impact of enforced cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as outlined
in the ANPR will be equivalent to an energy tax.
By expanding the scope of the 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act (CAA), the
EPA will severely restrict CO2 emissions, thereby severely restricting energy
use. Specifically, the EPA would use the CAA to regulate emissions of
greenhouse gases (GHG) from a vast array of sources, including motor vehicles,
boats and ships, aircraft, and rebuilt heavy-duty highway engines. The
regulations will lead to significant increases in energy costs. Furthermore,
because the economic effect of the proposed regulations will resemble the
economic effect of an energy tax, the increase in costs creates a
correspondingly large loss of national income.
Using the CAA to regulate greenhouse gases will be very costly, even given the
most generous assumptions. To make the best case for GHG regulation, we assume
that all of the problems of meeting currently enacted federal, state, and local
legislation have been overcome. Even assuming these unlikely goals are met,
restricting CO2 emissions by 70 percent will damage the U.S. economy
- Cumulative gross domestic
product (GDP) losses are nearly $7 trillion by 2029 (in inflation-adjusted
2008 dollars), according to The Heritage Foundation/Global Insight model
Single-year GDP losses exceed $600 billion (in inflation-adjusted 2008
- Annual job losses exceed
800,000 for several years.
- Some industries will see job
losses that exceed 50 percent.
3. A CAR WRECK MADE IN WASHINGTON
By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR., WSJ
The wrong folks were in the witness chairs in
last week's congressional hearings on auto doom. A fantastic moment was
Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch assailing Rick Wagoner about whether GM was
for a bailout too. The implication seemed to be that GM can't afford its
inflated UAW pay packages because it's squandering money to build cars in China. Mr. Wagoner mildly answered that GM's China
operations are profitable. They actually help to underwrite the massive losses
in the U.S.
Mr. Lynch showed no sign he was actually
listening, having illustrated his disapproval of foreigners. He didn't ask the
obvious question: If GM can make cars profitably in China,
why doesn't GM import them to the U.S.? For that matter, any of the brainpans on the
Hill might have asked why Ford and GM managed to build viable auto businesses
all over the world but not in North America.
You don't need the Hubble telescope to tell the
answer: The UAW is present only in the U.S., not all over the world.
What you wouldn't know is that the single
biggest factor in preserving the UAW's monopolistic power has not been labor
law but Congress's fuel-economy rules. These effectively have required the Big
Three to lose tens of billions making small cars at a loss in UAW factories.
Not only were the companies obliged to forego profits they might have earned
importing such cars, but CAFE deprived them of crucial leverage to control
labor costs by threatening to move jobs to a factory in Spain or Taiwan
(Let's face it, that's what other successful U.S. manufacturers do.)
All this was deliberately designed to give the
UAW the means to defend uncompetitive wages in the face of a globalizing auto
business. It had nothing to do with making sure Americans have high-mileage
cars. Yet not a single legislator last week breathed a hint of recognition that
something might be behind Detroit's woes other
than an improbable series of "stupid decisions" (as another Massachusetts
congressman put it) by 18 CEOs over 30 years.
There's a larger lesson here for the Obama
administration. A whole lot of Rube-Goldbergism is coming home to roost, in the
auto business, in the mortgage market, in the health-care market, in farm
policy. We need to simple-down. The economy has a giant adjustment ahead,
paying off debts, going from a heavy absorber of foreign capital and goods to a
rebalanced relationship with the world.
The good news is that we have a natively
resilient, flexible economy, capable of making these adjustments -- unless
bound up in Rube Goldbergian mandates. Barack Obama, bless his heart, may or may
not be ready for what's coming his way. Yet his objectives are perfectly
amenable to the simple-down approach.
He asked on Monday for Detroit
to deliver a "plan" somehow to reconcile, at long last, the fantasy
life of Washington, with nobody losing a job,
with super energy-efficient cars, and yet somehow all this being done at a
profit to Detroit.
Here's a plan, but it requires Mr. Obama to play
a role too, finally relinquishing such chronic free-lunchism where autos are
concerned. He should simply get rid of the CAFE rules and impose a gasoline tax
to move the country to a "new energy economy," if he really believes
in panicky climate predictions and/or that "energy independence"
would be a net improver of American welfare. And be prepared for Detroit to shift jobs
offshore if the UAW won't concede competitive labor agreements.
Not acceptable? Here's an alternative plan: Buy
out the UAW with taxpayer dollars and free the Big Three to staff their
factories with nonunion workers the way Toyota
and Honda and BMW do. Last week's Hill circus notwithstanding, the negotiation
that really needs to take place now is between Democrats and their union
allies. The Big Three executives are just in the way.
Of course, Mr. Obama may have ideas of his own.
His climate speech last week was Rube-on-steroids, aimed at creating whole
client sectors of the economy dependent on his favor and endlessly flowing
subsidies. It would be a poor excuse indeed of an economic depression that
didn't create demagogic opportunities to boss around entire patches of the
economy and extract political rents for doing so. There will be plenty of scope
for Mr. Obama to head in this direction if he chooses.
Then again, he might just hand the next election
cycle to the GOP, assuming Republicans can figure out that they're supposed to
be the party of non-Rube-Goldberg government.
4. RUSSIA TELLS OBAMA: IF YOU DON'T DRILL, WE
MercoPress, 24 November 2008 [Courtesy CCNet]
Russian oil companies could soon begin searching for oil in deep Gulf of Mexico
waters off Cuba, a top diplomat said just days before Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev visits the island. Russian oil
companies have "concrete projects" for drilling in Cuba's part of the gulf, said Mijail
ambassador to Cuba,
to the state-run business magazine Opciones.
Kamynin also said Russian companies would like to help build storage tanks for
crude oil and to modernize Cuban pipelines, as well as play a role in
Venezuelan efforts to refurbish a Soviet-era refinery in the port city of Cienfuegos, according the
article published this weekend.
Medvedev comes to former Cold War ally Cuba
on Thursday, part of a tour of Latin America
to strengthen his country's economic and political ties in the region. Kamynin
said trade between Russia
and the island would top 400 USD million this year.
50-year-old trade embargo prohibits US companies from investing on the island.
But Cuba's state-run oil concern has signed joint operating agreements with
companies from several countries to explore waters that Cuban scientists claim
could contain reserves of up to 20 billion barrels of oil.
5. WHY SCIENTISTS SOMETIMES LIE
by Robert L. Mayo, November 26, 2008
The problem with the "scientific
consensus" on global warming is that participants in the debate are not
objective. In other areas of science, it is assumed without question that
researchers will follow the evidence wherever it leads with an open mind that
is neutral as to the outcome. That is not the case with global warming. Unlike
other scientific questions, the answer to whether humans are causing dangerous
global warming has massive political implications for economic and social
Scientists are human beings with political and
ideological preferences just like the rest of us. If a scientist has a strong
preference for a certain political ideology, and that ideology will either be
advanced or inhibited based on the results of his research, it is reasonable to
view his interpretation of the data with an increased level of skepticism. If
anthropogenic global warming is accepted as real, it will produce wide ranging
political and economic changes that have been long advocated by the political
left. There will be massive tax increases and much stricter regulation of
It should therefore be no surprise that almost
all non-scientists who are on the political left insist that global warming is
real and use it as an indictment of free market capitalism and the traditional
American lifestyle based on consumerism. In the same way, almost all
non-scientists who are on the political right insist that global warming is nothing
more than liberal hysteria. On both sides, their conclusions are not based on
an impartial evaluation of the data. Neither Al Gore nor Rush Limbaugh are
competent to assess the accuracy of a sophisticated computer climate model. Yet
they both believe with absolute certainty.
Flawed human beings will always tend to
interpret information in such a way that it reinforces pre-existing ideological
preferences or self interest. Given the huge amounts of funding involved,
professional standing in academia and personal political preferences, it would
be foolish to assume that scientists are not subject to the same failing. I do
not claim that scientists who support anthropogenic global warming are wrong,
merely that it is unwise to massively reorder our society based on
interpretations of extraordinarily complex data conducted by people who are not
neutral as to the result.
When scientists who believe in global warming
stop calling colleagues who disagree with them Flat Earthers and Neanderthals,
or insist that the debate is over and therefore it is illegitimate to question
them, then I may be willing to listen to their arguments. Not until then.
6. METHANE MUTTERINGS
Geophys. Res. Lett. doi: 10.1029/2008GL036037 (2008) 2008GL036037.pdf
425 (27 November 2008) | doi:10.1038/456425d; Published online 26 November 2008
After almost a decade of stability, the amount
of methane in the atmosphere has been growing since the start of 2007,
according to measurements taken by two global monitoring networks, AGAGE and
The findings are cause for concern because methane is many times more powerful
than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and has so far accounted for about a
fifth of the human contribution to climate change. Matthew Rigby of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge
and their co-workers write that, by late 2007, the proportion of methane in the
atmosphere was rising by 10 parts per billion per year at all monitoring
stations around the world.
High bacterial methane emissions from wetlands in an unusually warm Siberia seem to have played some part in the northern
hemisphere increase. The authors also suspect that an unproven drop in hydroxyl
free radicals could be driving the trend.
SEPP Comment: In
other words, they have no clue what’s really happening to methane
7. THE GREENHOUSE GAS THAT
When industry began using NF3 in high-tech
manufacturing, it was hailed as a way to fight global warming. But new research
shows that this gas has 17,000 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide
and is rapidly increasing in the atmosphere -- and that's turning an
environmental success story into a public relations disaster.
Hypothetical question: You're heartsick about global warming, so you've just
paid $25,000 to put a solar system on the roof of your home. How do you respond
to news that it was manufactured with a chemical that is 17,000 times stronger
than carbon dioxide as a cause of global warming?
It may sound like somebody's idea of a bad joke. But last month, a study from
the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that nitrogen trifluoride
(NF3), with a global warming potential of 17,000, is now present in the
atmosphere at four times the expected level and rapidly rising. Use of NF3 is
currently booming, for products from computer chips and flats-screen LCDs to
thin-film solar photovoltaics, an economical and increasingly popular
Moreover, the Kyoto Protocol, which limits a half-dozen greenhouse gases, does
not cover NF3. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change now
lists it among five major new greenhouse gases likely to be included in the
next phase of global warming regulation, after 2012. And while that may be
reassuring, it also suggests the complicated character of the global warming
In fact, NF3 had become popular largely as a way to reduce global warming. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began actively encouraging use of NF3 in
the 1990s, as the best solution to a widespread problem in making the
components for everything from cell phones to laptop computers. Manufacturers
in the electronics industry all use a vacuum chamber to etch intricate
circuitry and to deposit a thin layer of chemical vapor on the surface of a
product. Some of the vapor inevitably builds up instead as glassy crud on the
interior of the chamber.
To tear apart that layer of crud and clean the vacuum chamber, manufacturers
were using powerful fluorinated greenhouse gases. The usual choice,
hexafluorethane, sounds better at first than NF3. In global warming terms, it's
only about 12,000 times worse than carbon dioxide. But C2F6 is difficult to
break down, and roughly 60 percent of what goes into the vacuum chamber ends up
in the atmosphere. With NF3, estimates suggested that under optimal conditions,
roughly 98 percent of what goes into the vacuum chamber is destroyed there.
So when the semiconductor industry announced a voluntary partnership with the
EPA to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 10 percent from 1995 levels between
1999 and 2010, NF3 became the replacement technology of choice. Makers of
flat-screen displays soon announced a similar program. In 2002, the EPA gave a
Climate Protection Award to the largest NF3 producer, Pennsylvania-based Air
Products and Chemicals Inc., for its work in reducing emissions.
Then last summer, a paper calling NF3 "the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto" attracted
widespread press attention. Co-authors Michael J. Prather and Juno Hsu of the University of California
at Irvine noted
that NF3 is one of the most potent greenhouse gases known and persists in the
atmosphere for 550 years.
But back in the 1990s when the Kyoto Protocol was being negotiated, NF3 was a
niche product of unknown global warming potential (GWP). [In calculating GWP,
carbon dioxide is the basic unit, with a GWP of one. For other gases,
scientists measure infrared-absorption, the spectral location of the absorbing
wavelengths, and the atmospheric lifetime of the gas to determine its global
warming effect relative to carbon dioxide.] So NF3 got left out, meaning no
requirement for industry to track emissions, or even to report how much NF3 is
actually being produced.
That left room for what felt to Prather like a "flimflam." In an
interview with Yale Environment 360, he estimated that 20 or 30 percent of
total NF3 production ends up in the atmosphere - not the two percent industry
had seemed to suggest. He and Hsu characterized Air Products, the same NF3
producer that the EPA had honored, as producing the annual global warming
equivalent of one of the world's largest coal-fired power plants.
A new paper, published in Geophysical Research Letters in October,
filled in gaps in this glum picture - and threatened to turn the NF3 emissions
success story into a public relations disaster. Ray Weiss and his research team
at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that NF3 is now present in
the atmosphere at four times the expected amount, with atmospheric
concentrations rising 11 percent a year. Working from annual production
estimates of 4,000 metric tons, Weiss figured that about 16 percent of current
production is ending up in the atmosphere.
The bottom line, said UC Irvine's
Prather, is that "industry really cannot be trusted for
self-regulation." We will not know the extent of the problem "until
we have honest, legally required reporting." The other important lesson
from the NF3 case, according to Scripps's Weiss, is that the bottom-up measurements
required by some global warming regulations aren't enough. Figuring out how
much methane a cow produces, then adding up the cows, may not give you ground
truth when it comes to global warming. "You have to measure from the top
down, and see what's actually going into the air."
A practical alternative to NF3 already exists. According to Paul Stockman of
Munich-based Linde Gas, fluorine has zero global warming potential and no
atmospheric lifetime. But it's also highly toxic and reactive. So instead of being
shipped in bottles like NF3, it must be generated on site using special
equipment. Stockman, whose company manufactures NF3, said fluorine will become
essential in thin-film solar manufacturing, because faster cleaning times mean
a substantial boost in productivity.
Meanwhile, Air Products says it supports adding NF3 to the list of regulated
greenhouse gases in the Kyoto Protocol's second commitment period, beginning in
2012. But Prather believes industry needs to get more honest about NF3
production and emissions before then. Solar cells are like any other product,
he said, in that the manufacturing process has a global warming footprint. But
solar buyers are likely to be particularly concerned with the size of that
footprint - and not so pleased to find out that what they thought was a Prius
is really just a Hummer on the inside.
* This article was shared by our content partner Yale Environment 360, a
member of the Guardian Environment Network.
* guardian.co.uk Guardian News and Media Limited 2008
SEPP Comment: And they claim the
“science is settled”
of Environmental Journalists conducts its annual conference this week in Roanoke, Va.,
and the best thing that can be said about it is that this bunch won't be on the
beat somewhere trying to report something -- especially about global warming.
But then again these journalists couldn't call it
that since the planet's mean surface temperature has
not increased over the last eleven years. Instead they've adopted the
catchall identifier used by their fellow alarmism activists: "climate
change." It's all over SEJ's web page for members, which
they call "A guide to the information and disinformation." This is
allegedly where they tell their members how to do a fair and balanced job.
Timothy Wheeler, president of SEJ and a reporter for
the Baltimore Sun, not long ago accused me of slandering his
organization's members because I called them objectivity-challenged. His
There is no ideological litmus test to join SEJ; our
members are varied and independent. Your allegation that SEJ members do
unbalanced reporting links to the climate reporting guide posted on our Web
site at www.sej.org. That guide does advise reporters to use care in evaluating
skeptics' claims, and does discuss funding of some.
However, if you
care to look further, you will see that we also advise reporters to beware of
hype and exaggeration from environmental groups, and to use similar care. And
we include a link to activistcash.com, which any reporter so inclined can use
to track the funding of environmental groups and others.
I decided to accept Wheeler's challenge and stroll
through SEJ's online guide to climate change reporting and see if it aligns
with his assertions. Won't you join me?
SEJ's "simple introductions" section
seems a good place to start. One of the half-dozen resources it cites is the
"Rough Guide to Climate Change," written by Robert Henson. SEJ says
Henson has "worked hard [I assume it saw the sweat on his brow] to produce
a complete, unbiased and understandable approach to the subject."
But if you click on its link to this resource, the
advice is more "rough" than unbiased -- toward humans, at least.
"Climate change is a serious threat to the ecosystems that humans rely
upon," the Rough Guide website says, "and air travel is the
fastest-growing contributor to the problem." Readers are therefore urged
to buy carbon offsets through Rough Guide's business partner, "Climate
Care," which it admits is a "carbon offsets scheme." Nothing
inspires confidence in balanced journalism like admonitions to buy sponsors'
products, does it?
THE NEXT EXHIBIT worthy of our attention is SEJ's assertion that the 2001
report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is "the Bible on
climate science." If true, knowing the mainstream media's understanding of religion,
then that would make it more of a Bible than the Bible itself. In that light,
we can compare statements of certainty from God's Word such as Jesus' claim
that "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" to hedging such as this
from the IPCC report:
Ideally, internal climate variability would be estimated
from instrumental observations, but a number of problems make this difficult.
The instrumental record is short relative to the 30 to 50 year time-scales that
are of interest for detection and attribution of climate change, particularly
for variables in the free atmosphere.…the accuracy of this record is limited by
incomplete knowledge of the forcings and by the accuracy of the climate model
used to estimate the response.
Well, if the "Bible on climate science"
said it, then I believe it, and that settles it!
Let's sample one more resource from SEJ's online
authority for global warming reporters. How about the cage match between crisis
believers and the naysayers? Well, SEJ identifies the alarm-sounders
innocuously as "Environmentalist Groups," while they call their
opponents "Skeptics and Contrarians." Sort of like the popular kids
versus the geeks and freaks. SEJ also notes financial and political affiliations
of the few climate dissenters they list, but fails to do so in descriptions of
environmentalist groups, who are well funded by large foundations with
left-wing socialist agendas.
Oh, SEJ does offer a offer a disclaimer about
fully trusting these eco-groups, here in part:
Some groups do a better job than others in acknowledging
there are still uncertainties about some of the science, but many -- in the
interests of prompting action -- tend to stress only the most extreme
outcomes [emphasis mine] among the range of possible impacts.
This sounds familiar to me...oh yes, I remember
where I've seen this practice before -- in SEJ President Wheeler's last
article I read in the Baltimore Sun, where he led with this:
Look for balmier winters and blistering summers in the
decades to come. Enjoy the colorful fall foliage in Western
Maryland -- while you can. And unless circumstances change,
prepare to see a different mix of plants, trees and birds by the end of the
century, worsening dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay, and for the state that
some call "America in miniature" to get dramatically smaller as
rising waters push the shoreline inland. So says a group of scientists who have
compiled the first comprehensive assessment of how Maryland could be altered by global climate
Selling carbon offset schemes, promoting
enviro-Bibles, and stressing extreme outcomes: How could I ever question the
professionalism of the Society of Environmental Journalists and their leader?
Take your time in Roanoke,
comrades -- no need to hurry back.
Paul Chesser is director of Climate Strategies Watch, a
free-market, limited-government project that assesses global warming
commissions in the states.