The Week That Was
August 9, 2003
1. New on the Web: WE TAKE DON KENNEDY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF SCIENCE, TO TASK FOR POLITICIZING HIS SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL. In his feeble reply, his only reference (Santer 2003) is to a second-hand account of a yet-to-be published analysis that is already suspect.







2. Developing Countries Funded to Phase Out Ozone Depleters

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada, July 25, 2003 (ENS) - Almost US$100 million will be made available to India, Mexico, North Korea and Trinidad and Tobago to assist their industries to phase out substances that harm the ozone layer. At its 40th meeting last week, the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol resolved to assist these and 21 other developing countries to advance their elimination of ozone-depleting substances.

The ozone layer, which absorbs ultraviolet radiation harmful to living organisms and human health, is in danger from several chemicals currently used in industry and agriculture, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and methyl bromide. India will receive a total of US$52 million to completely phase-out its production and consumption of the toxic chemical carbon tetrachloride. This chemical is used in making refrigeration liquid and aerosol can propellant. It has been used as a solvent and a cleaning fluid, such as in dry cleaning and spot removers, in fire extinguishers and even as a pesticide. In addition to its harmful effects on the ozone layer, carbon tetrachloride is dangerous to human health. Acute exposure to carbon tetrachloride at high levels can cause headache, weakness, lethargy, nausea and vomiting.

The Executive Committee has also targeted funds to phase out CFCs, which are still used in refrigerators and air conditioners in developing countries. These ozone-depleting substances can remain in the atmosphere for decades or even longer, the committee said. About US$32 million from the Multilateral Fund will go to Mexico, which has agreed to the gradual cessation of its CFC production (currently estimated at 13,000 metric tons per year).

The Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol began its operation in 1991. The main objective of the fund is to assist developing country parties to the Montreal Protocol whose annual per-capita consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances is less than 0.3 kilograms to comply with the control measures of the Protocol. The US$2 billion dollar fund is managed by an Executive Committee chaired by Ambassador Tadanori Inomata of Japan. The committee is assisted by the Fund Secretariat, which is based in Montreal. Activities are implemented by four international agencies - the UN Development Programme, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Industrial Development Organization, and the World Bank - and a number of bilateral government agencies. Since 1991, the Multilateral Fund has approved activities including industrial conversion, technical assistance, training and capacity-building worth some US$1.5 billion that will result in the phase-out of approximately 180,000 metric tons of consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances in developing countries.

SEPP Comments: What a hope! After reading all this bureaucratic garbage, if you really want to know where your money goes, read TWTW of July 5-11, 1999. And if you are wondering whether the Montreal Protocol is "saving the ozone layer," look at the latest report from the World Meteorological Organization (2002). Ozone-depleting chemicals are still increasing slowly in the stratosphere but ozone is no longer depleting - not since 1992! Helloooh? And the best measurements still show no increasing trend in solar ultraviolet radiation at the Earth surface. Helloooh again. We'll have more to say about the Montreal Protocol in a future issue of TWTW. Stay tuned…
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3. EPA Final Rule Adds Chlorine-Based Compound to List of Banned Substances:

According to BNA's Daily Environment Report, EPA published a final rule July 18 mandating the phase-out of chlorobromomethane (CBM), a compound used as a fire retardant and solvent. Under the final rule, the Agency will ban both production and use of the chemical, a Class I substance under the Clean Air Act. The ban takes effect August 18, and is being enacted in accordance with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The most common uses of CBM have been in fire extinguishers and explosion-protection materials; however, it is also used as a feedstock in the production of pharmaceuticals, water treatment chemicals and biocides.

SEPP Comment: Its atmospheric lifetime is only 150 days! Still no good evidence that bromine is increasing in the stratosphere, but that doesn't stop the regulators


4. New hydrogen fuel cells could help deplete the ozone layer

Large amounts of leaked hydrogen would enter the stratosphere, according to researchers at the California Institute of Technology.

According to the report: If hydrogen replaced fossil fuels completely, about 10 to 20 percent of the hydrogen would leak from pipelines, storage facilities, processing plants and fuel cells. The resulting ozone depletion could be as much as eight percent.

However, with advanced warnings of problems, energy analysts (sic!) could create a hydrogen-energy infrastructure to reduce leaks and protect the ozone. Nejat Veziroglu (International Association for Hydrogen Energy) says that hydrogen leakage will be much less than what the Cal Tech researchers estimate. Because hydrogen is a developing fuel technology, scientists aren't sure to what extent it will affect the environment. Some leaking hydrogen could be absorbed in the soil instead of the atmosphere.

Although hydrogen-fueled cars are probably still decades away, President Bush has made hydrogen energy research a central part of his energy plan, and Congress has plans to appropriate more than $3 billion into research over the next five years.

Source: H. Josef Hebert, "Group: Hydrogen Fuel Cells May Hurt Ozone," Associated Press, June 12, 2003.

SEPP Comment: Many uncertainties here. On the one hand, much (most?) of the released hydrogen would be oxidized into water vapor before it reaches the stratosphere. On the other hand, keeping tiny molecules at super-high pressure in cars is bound to show a huge leakage rate.


5. Global warming: Henry Lamb exposes enviro scaremongers feeding at federal trough July 29, 2003

Sens. John McCain and Kyoto-Joe Lieberman are pushing an amendment to the president's energy bill which is designed more to provide ammunition for Kyoto-Joe's presidential bid than to alter global temperature. Sen. McCain is helping, as is the Environmental Defense Fund.

According to the New York Times, the Environmental Defense Fund is sponsoring a series of print and TV ads aimed at "putting the heat on Congress." EDF has taken more than $1.7 million in grants from the EPA and the Department of Energy in the last few years - both are agencies whose budget, staff and power would swell significantly were Kyoto-Joe's amendment to be adopted. In the TV ad, Sen. McCain is pictured saying something to the effect that "the science is with us." Ha! The science has never supported the exaggerated claims of the global-warming scaremongers. The very first U.N. assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was severely edited by the policymakers - to omit comments by skeptical scientists. As research has mounted since that first U.N. assessment report, the gap between science and the claims of the global-warming industry has widened dramatically. More than 19,000 scientists from around the world have now signed a statement that rejects the scaremongers' global warming claims.

The amendment to be offered by Kyoto-Joe and John McCain, would create a mini-Kyoto in the United States. It would establish an incredibly complex emissions trading scheme that would have the effect of rationing energy. It would also appropriate a ton of money to be used as grants to organizations such as the EDF. No wonder EDF is buying ads to promote passage of the amendment. They would never admit that the money to buy the ads ultimately came from the public trough.

The EDF website offers what it calls "Myth vs. Fact" on global warming. What they call "Myth" is often "Fact," and what they call "Fact" is little more than scaremongering propaganda. For example, the site says: "... and the scientific consensus is that in all likelihood the 1990's - the warmest decade in recorded history - were warmer than any decade in the last thousand years." Dr. John Christy's research dumps tons of ice on this hyperbole. He told a congressional hearing in May 2003 that, "In my region of Alabama, the 19 hottest summers of the past 108 years occurred prior to 1955. In the Midwest, of the 10 worst heat-waves, only two have occurred since 1970, and they placed 7th and 8th."

Both senators agree that the amendment has little chance of passage in a Republican-dominated Congress. Why, then, the big push? As Marlo Lewis, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute put it in his brilliant analysis back in January, Lieberman is setting up a political issue that he can exploit during his presidential campaign: Kyoto-Joe is for saving the planet, while the big bad Bush is for destroying the planet so his oil-loving cronies can get rich. McCain's motivation, as is often the case, is more mysterious. In the past, he has voted against similar measures. In the last Congress, he actually co-authored an op-ed piece with Sen. Kyl, in the East Valley Tribune, which blasted efforts to mandate tax-credits for "alternative fuel" use. It was also John McCain who promoted the election-reform bill, which would outlaw third-party ads, such as the current EDF campaign, but only 60 days before an election.

Science has thoroughly trashed the notion that human activity actually causes global warming. The die-hard beneficiaries of the global-warming industry ignore and ridicule the science that negates their claims. It is high time that the American public realizes that the global-warming scaremongers, who feed from the federal trough, care only about keeping their coffers full, regardless of the price everyone else has to pay.


6. Confusing climate and weather?
Letter to Editor, The Providence Journal-Bulletin, December 28, 1998

I read with some amusement the contention by paleoclimatologist Jonathan Overpeck of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that current global temperatures are the warmest in 1,200 years because the "Medieval Warm Period" a thousand years ago was merely a "regional" phenomenon ("More heat in debate over global warming," Providence Journal, Dec. 9).

As any scientist who has examined a map of current temperatures around the world can tell you, what we are now experiencing is also a regional phenomenon, and that is true whether temperatures are taken by satellites or surface temperature stations.

Both sets of data show "hot spots" at northern mid-latitudes (i.e., over the United States and Western Europe) that skew global averages. I am certain this would even show up in Dr. Overpeck's low-tech tree-ring data. Because these "hot spots" are so striking, some scientists have speculated that these temperature readings are either badly tainted by things like the urban "heat island" effect or indicate a regional influence of other kinds of human activities.

For example, one theory is that contrails from commercial airline traffic (which has been increasing at the rate of 5 percent a year) are creating high cirrus clouds and a regional enhancement of the greenhouse effect. That, of course, would be completely unrelated to any build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Your report appears to confuse "climate" with "weather." Those are two very different things. Weather can change suddenly or even be altered regionally for longer periods. Climate changes too - naturally - but it takes decades of careful observations to detect a trend.

Dr. James Hansen of NASA, so certain only a decade ago that a human-induced global warming was upon us, now says "the forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change."

He published that in a research paper just two months ago, but many climate scientists have been saying the same thing for years.

The writer is a policy research associate for the Science & Environmental Policy Project.


7. Global Warming is like WMD: Houghton blasts US refusal to join Kyoto

You may have missed this little bombast by former IPCC science head Sir John Houghton. It was printed in the The Guardian on July 28. I've attached the article, but you can access it directly at:,3604,1007042,00.html

SEPP is sending it out so you can see for yourself how biased he can be, when he uses such phrases as "Weapons of Mass Destruction" to describe global warming. That purely political statement is designed to link these environmental ''WMDs" with the US -- as we are the main producer of "Satanic gases."

He then goes on to illustrate these statements with the most puerile form of anecdotal evidence...tornadoes in the US in a single month, and a deadly heat wave in southern India this year (because the monsoon arrived late in the lower Peninsula). He even relates these to the deaths from 9/11!

It is revealing to see his prejudices -- so inimical to real science - exposed to public view. Here it is in full:

Global warming is now a weapon of mass destruction
It kills more people than terrorism, yet Blair and Bush do nothing

By John Houghton, The Guardian, July 28, 2003

If political leaders have one duty above all others, it is to protect the security of their people. Thus it was, according to the prime minister, to protect Britain's security against Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction that this country went to war in Iraq. And yet our long-term security is threatened by a problem at least as dangerous as chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, or indeed international terrorism: human-induced climate change.

As a climate scientist who has worked on this issue for several decades, first as head of the Met Office, and then as co-chair of scientific assessment for the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, the impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a "weapon of mass destruction".

Like terrorism, this weapon knows no boundaries. It can strike anywhere, in any form - a heat wave in one place, a drought or a flood or a storm surge in another. Nor is this just a problem for the future. The 1990s were probably the warmest decade in the last 1,000 years, and 1998 the warmest year. Global warming is already upon us.

The World Meteorological Organisation warned this month that extreme weather events already seem to be becoming more frequent as a result. The US mainland was struck by 562 tornados in May (which incidentally saw the highest land temperatures globally since records began in 1880), killing 41 people. The developing world is the hardest hit: extremes of climate tend to be more intense at low latitudes and poorer countries are less able to cope with disasters. Pre-monsoon temperatures this year in India reached a blistering 49C (120F) - 5C (9F) above normal.

Once this killer heat wave began to abate, 1,500 people lay dead - half the number killed outright in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. While no one can ascribe a single weather event to climate change with any degree of scientific certainty, higher maximum temperatures are one of the most predictable impacts of accelerated global warming, and the parallels - between global climate change and global terrorism - are becoming increasingly obvious.

To his credit, Tony Blair has - rhetorically, at least - begun to face up to this. In a recent speech he stated clearly that "there can be no genuine security if the planet is ravaged by climate change". But words are not enough. They have to be matched with adequate action. The recent announcement of a large-scale offshore wind-generating programme was welcome, but the UK still lags far behind other European countries in developing renewables capacity.

The latest report on energy and climate change by the royal commission on environmental pollution addressed the much more demanding global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that will be required over the next 50 years (in addition to the Kyoto agreement) and how these could be achieved. Given that the UK needs to take its share of the global burden, the commission recommended that we should aim for a cut in these emissions of 60% by 2050.

It also pointed out the urgent need for an adequate mechanism for negotiating each country's emission target and advocated a globally implemented plan known as "contraction and convergence". The energy white paper published earlier this year accepted the royal commission's 60% reduction target, but it is disturbing that it provided no clarity on UK policy regarding the framework for international negotiation.

Any successful international negotiation for reducing emissions must be based on four principles: the precautionary principle, the principle of sustainable development, the polluter-pays principle and the principle of equity. The strength of "contraction and convergence" is that it satisfies all these principles. But it also means facing up to some difficult questions.

First, world leaders have to agree on a target for the stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a sufficiently low level to stave off dangerous climate change. Second, this target, and the global greenhouse gas budget it implies, has to form the framework for an equitable global distribution of emissions permits, assigned to different countries on a per-capita basis. Countries with the largest populations will therefore get the most permits, but for the sake of efficiency and to achieve economic convergence these permits will need to be internationally tradable.

This is the only solution likely to be acceptable to most of the developing world, which unlike us has not had the benefit of over a century of fossil fuel-driven economic prosperity. And it also meets one of the key demands of the United States, that developing countries should not be excluded from emissions targets, as they currently are under the Kyoto protocol.

Nowadays everyone knows that the US is the world's biggest polluter, and that with only one 20th of the world's population it produces a quarter of its greenhouse-gas emissions. But the US government, in an abdication of leadership of epic proportions, is refusing to take the problem seriously - and Britain, presumably because Blair wishes not to offend George Bush - is beginning to fall behind too. Emissions from the US are up 14% on those in 1990 and are projected to rise by a further 12% over the next decade.

It is vital that Russia now ratifies the Kyoto protocol so that it can at last come into force. But while the US refuses to cooperate, it is difficult to see how the rest of the world can make much progress on the much tougher longer-term agreements that will be necessary after Kyoto's mandate runs out in 2012.

Nor does the latest science provide any comfort. The intergovernmental panel on climate change has warned of 1.4C to 5.8C (2.5F to 10.4F) temperature rises by 2100. This already implies massive changes in climate, and yet the current worst-case scenarios emerging from the Met Office's Hadley centre envisage even greater rises than this - a degree and speed of global warming the consequences of which are hard to quantify or even imagine.

So Blair has a challenge. The world needs leadership, and the British prime minister is well placed to stand at the head of a new "coalition of the willing" to tackle this urgent problem. He is also uniquely placed to persuade Bush to join in this effort, given their joint commitment to making the world safe from "weapons of mass destruction".

But even if he fails to persuade him, there are other allies who would still respond to his leadership - even if this means opposing the US until such time as it no longer has an oilman for president. If Blair were to assume this mantle, history might not only forgive him, but will also endorse Britain's contribution to long-term global security.

· Sir John Houghton was formerly chief executive of the Meteorological Office and co-chair of the scientific assessment working group of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. He is the author of Global Warming: The Complete Briefing.

SEPP Comment: Global climate warmed between 1900 and 1940 (before substantial emission of GH gases) and has remained at roughly that level since - in spite of large fluctuations. A short-lived peak occurred in 1998 as a consequence of a strong El Nino event. No evidence at all that Global Warming causes extreme weather.



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