The Week That Was
September 13, 2003

1. New on the Web: BJORN LOMBORG IS FIGHTING BACK -after being maligned by the grotesquely named Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty. When we met with him in Copenhagen on August 29, his new Institute for Environmental Evaluation had just published its report on extreme weather damages. It documents that the rise in damage costs is a function of increased economic development and not of climate change. But according to the newspaper Politiken (Sept 9), a review by three independent experts raised only niggling objections from one economist. Kirsten Halsnaes complains that the report has an incomplete database for developing nations. Well duh! She works with the UN-IPCC climate panel. No surprise there.




5. GROUP SUES TO ENFORCE SOUND SCIENCE LAW: Global Warming Alarmism to Face Trial





2. Science Article Advocates Alarmism: Three Comments

1) Straying from hard science into the realm of economics, Science magazine published an article in its August 29th issue (vol 301, pp.1187-1188) entitled "False Alarm over Environmental False Alarms." The authors, S.W. Pacala and S.A. Levin of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton, E. Bulte of the Department of Economics at Tilburg University, the Netherlands, and J.A. List of the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department at the University of Maryland (and of the President's Council of Economic Advisers!!), argue that the potential downside risks of environmental hazards are so great that the environmental community should continue to raise alarms on which policy might be based -- even in the knowledge that "some of them will turn out to be wrong." The authors conclude that, "Given the potential to save millions of additional lives, this is no time to turn down the sensitivity of our environmental alarm."

It is a shoddy piece of work and should be retracted from publication. It misuses a graph (and economic argument on optimum cost-benefit analysis) published by Fred Singer in Science nearly 30 years ago. It claims "over 3 million deaths worldwide" from air pollution annually without revealing that these are caused mainly by indoor air from poor-quality fuel, like cow dung. The article also claims the ludicrous figure of 300,000 deaths averted by the control of CFCs; there is no way this number can be backed by evidence.

The article appears to be little more than an economic justification of Stephen Schneider's admission to Discover magazine in 1989 that, "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest." Schneider, along with Paul Ehrlich and Michael Grubb, provided the authors with "helpful comments on an earlier draft."

The article also makes disparaging remarks about Bjorn Lomborg's book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, referring to it as "officially discredited." If anything, it discredits the so-called Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty and the authors of this screed.
2) Scientists Against Truth
By Iain Murray
In Financial Times of 16 Sept. 2003

There is a crisis emerging in the scientific community. The ideals of science are being sacrificed to the god of political expediency. Environmental scientists are becoming so obsessed with the righteousness of their cause that they are damning those who wish to use science as an objective tool in public policy decisions. The latest example comes in a Science article that advocates nothing less than promoting alarmism of environmental hazards, on the basis that the end justifies the means. The article (mis)uses economic analysis to argue that the benefits of environmental alarmism outweigh the costs. Yet, as well as endorsing the political reasoning of Niccolo Machiavelli, this paper offends against the ethics of science itself.

The argument goes like this. Our society balances risks and benefits. In the area of the environment, these decisions are informed by environmental science. Many possible disasters have a very low risk of occurrence, which means that many warnings from scientists will turn out to be unfounded. When this happens, sceptics like Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, will argue that we should ignore similar warnings in the future. The authors contend that this would be a mistake. The potential benefits of averting disaster are so great that scientists should continue to issue what they know are likely to be false alarms.

We have heard this argument before. Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, who provided "helpful comments" on a draft of the paper, told Discover magazine in 1989 that "to capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest". This latest study is essentially that statement dressed up in fancy economic terms. Despite its academic pretensions, it is still unprincipled nonsense. It is nonsense because it exaggerates the benefits and underestimates the risks of alarmism.

Scientists who argue for alarmism, on the whole, are not very bad men, but the course of action they propose is very bad indeed -- for science, for scientists, and for society as a whole.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

3) For yet another take on this issue, see Prof. John Brignell's highly recommended web site


3. SEPP Holds Six Mini-Workshops In Baltic Region

Between Aug. 29 and Sept. 7, SEPP president Fred Singer and associate Dr. Klaus Heiss held six highly successful meetings - in connection with SEPP's project to counter the scientific distortions of the IPCC.

1) Copenhagen: Meeting with Bjorn Lomborg to discuss the report of his institute (see above for detail). Also meetings with Danish journalists.

2) Helsinki: Meeting with the Climate Skeptics group of Finland, who later used the information in a TV debate. TV interview, followed by briefings to press and others (sponsored by Finnish Metal-Workers Union).

3) St. Petersburg: Meeting with Prof. Kirill Kondratyev and four colleagues. Exchange of scientific information in preparation for the Moscow Climate Conference to be held Sept 29 -Oct 3.

4) Tallinn: Meeting with Prof. Olavi Kaerner and colleague. Exchange of scientific information. Also briefing of former Estonian foreign minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

5) Stockholm: Briefing arranged by the SNS - Studiefoerbundet Naeringsliv och Samhaelle (homepage with English translation at ). It was a group of some 30 people, including journalists, politicians, and several scientists. The formal reason for the event was twofold - one was to present a book by two economists Lars Bergman and Marian Radetzki - on the economic consequences of Sweden's policy to do more than the Kyoto Protocol. That book already exists in an English translation.

The main part of the meeting was devoted to presentations by Fred Singer and Klaus Heiss on the scientific and economic aspects of the CO2 issue.

Prof Peter Stilbs, seated next to Prof Bert Bolin, former chairman of the IPCC, was seriously worried (he e-mailed us) that Bolin might get a stroke during the presentations - constantly shaking his head, looking very upset.

6) Warnemunde, Germany: Here we were met by German colleagues with whom we discussed both science and strategy with respect the upcoming Conference of the Parties (to Kyoto) COP-9, to be held in Milan from Dec 1 to 12.


4. Climate Data Do Not Support Alarmism

What about 1998 being "the warmest year?" On December 18, 1998 the Washington Post wrote, "U.S. and international scientists officially declared 1998 to be the hottest year on record yesterday as worldwide temperatures continued an upward march that many experts partly attribute to man-made 'greenhouse gases'." (note the caveats) But here's a list of the hottest temperatures in various locations, recorded by the National Climate Data Center:

El Azizia, Libya: 136° - September 13, 1922
Death Valley, California, USA: 134° - July 10, 1913
Tirat Tsvi, Israel: 129° - June 21, 1942
Queensland, Australia: 128° - January 16, 1889
Seville, Spain: 122° - August 4, 1881
Rivadavia, Argentina: 120° - December 11, 1905
Tuguegarao, Philippines: 108° - April 29, 1912
Scott Coast, Antarctica: 59° - January 5, 1974

Notice anything curious about those numbers? Only one of the eight is even in the second half of the 20th century, for one thing. And the second half of the 20th century is when the bulk of the carbon dioxide (the evil greenhouse gas produced by evil human industrial activity burning evil fossil fuels) was put into the atmosphere. In 1998 the World Climate Report wrote that the "warmest ever" designation applied only to North America: "So where has all the cold air gone? In a word, Europe. In one of the least-publicized climate stories in recent memory, Europe has been hit with a major cold snap. More than 100 people were killed by a very cold late November Arctic air mass. Deaths were concentrated in Poland and Romania but weather-related deaths also occurred in France, Bulgaria, and Italy. Record low temperatures were widespread…". Strange, we never heard about the extreme cold in Europe while the alarmists were harping about extreme heat in North America. Or maybe not so strange, when we consider that the object of the global warming hysteria is less to ascertain scientific truth (as nearly as possible) than to denigrate human progress in general, and American technological achievement in particular. Parochial analysis - if it's hot in Washington, it must be a "global" phenomenon - is common to egocentric environmentalists. When an environmentalist looks out his office window in a high-rise in downtown Los Angeles and doesn't see many trees (imagine that!) he concludes that "deforestation" is a global problem (but increased carbon dioxide promotes plant growth, solving that "problem"); when an environmentalist gets stuck in a traffic jam in Manhattan, he concludes that "overpopulation" is a global problem (increased carbon dioxide also means more robust food crops, helping to alleviate starvation where that is a problem).

One point that recurs frequently in the arguments of global warming alarmists: that "extreme" weather events are increasing because of global warming. Available on the website of the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a list of the most intense hurricanes in the United States recorded between 1900 and 1996. The list contains 17 hurricanes classified at the most severe category 4 and category 5 levels. Of those 17, only 7 are in the second half of the 20th century (again, when the bulk of the carbon dioxide was put into the atmosphere); and 7 occurred during or before 1935.

In October, 2000, the National Climatic Data Center issued a report that contained some interesting observations about weather extremes. "In some areas of the world increases in extreme events are apparent, while in others there appears to be a decline." "Overall, occurrences of Atlantic hurricanes do not show a statistically significant long-term trend over the 20th century." "…the increase in tornado observations in the United States in this century is likely due as much to the fact that more people live in tornado-prone areas and are able to report tornado occurrences that otherwise would have gone unreported, as any real increase." But the NCDC still came to the following conclusion, which exemplifies the politicization of environmental science: "It is clear from the observed record that there has been an increase in the global mean temperature of about 0.6°C since the start of the 20th century, and that this increase is associated with a stronger warming in daily minimum temperatures than maximums. Global precipitation has also increased over the same period. Given these increases, it is expected that there would also be increases in what are now considered extreme events. Therefore, if there are indeed identifiable trends in extreme climatic events, it would add to the body of evidence that there is a discernable human effect on the climate." [emphasis added]

Why does an increase in extreme events require a human cause? If those effects are even real, rather than the result of more comprehensive observation and reporting, is there no other possible explanation? To suggest just a few possibilities other than human activity: the urban heat-island effect; galactic cosmic ray flux variations due to the solar system passing through the spiral arms of the galaxy, accounting for at least 66% of the temperature variance (the Geological Society of America); or the 11-year cycle of variations of the sun's brightness and surface magnetism. But obviously, there is a predisposition to blame the politically correct culprit of human industrial activity, even among many scientists.

Sir John Houghton, who chaired the IPCC science panel, came to the predictable conclusion - all of this is America's fault: "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." (By that standard, societies with lots of people but few emissions - i.e.: little economic activity - are to be emulated.) Sir John called on Prime Minister Blair to convince President Bush to do something about the alleged problem. "But even if he fails to persuade [Bush], 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." [emphasis added] Is there any clearer evidence that there is an agenda other than science at work in the field of global warming?
Source: CongressACTION 10 AUG 2003

SEPP Comment: Elementary statistics teaches that the longer the series of observations, the greater the chance of seeing extreme events - whether climate records or coin tosses.


5. Group Sues to Enforce Sound Science Law: Global Warming Alarmism to Face Trial

Washington, D.C., August 6, 2003- The Competitive Enterprise Institute today filed suit in federal court against the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for refusing to implement the Federal Data Quality Act in regard to two major global warming reports. The law, signed by President Clinton, requires that data disseminated by the government meet basic scientific standards for "objectivity" and "utility." It has been ignored in the case of administration climate reports, despite earlier petitions by CEI.

Under the Data Quality Act, material which is considered "influential scientific information" - i.e., is likely to influence public policy or private sector decisions - is also subject to the scrutiny of scientific validation. The National Assessment on Climate Change (2000) and EPA's Climate Action Report 2002 base their analyses of the potential impacts of climate change on two computer models that are incapable of providing reliable predictions. Efforts to validate these two models actually exposed them as less capable at predicting climate impacts than a table of random numbers. The law prohibits taxpayer funding to promote such speculation or advocacy.

"The agencies producing the Assessment were informed their models had been proven useless, and in fact they confirmed the test's results themselves, but still proceeded to publish a knowingly fictional document. This establishes that the data fails to meet not only the 'utility' but also the 'objectivity' standard," said Christopher C. Horner, counsel and senior fellow at CEI. These junk-science reports are already being used to support otherwise groundless lawsuits filed by global warming alarmists and states seeking to hobble those more competitive.

In fact, the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, which produced one of the models used in the Assessment, acknowledged at the time it was selected that its model's data were not useful for the purpose the administration is using it. Specifically, Hadley stated this on its website, "In areas where coasts and mountains have significant effect on weather [and this will be true for most parts of the world], scenarios based on global models will fail to capture the regional detail needed for vulnerability assessments at a national level." Regardless, this model is used to project specific, but scientifically unsupportable, U.S. climate impacts, which are incorporated in both reports.
SEPP Comment: The two models give diametrically opposite results for fully half of the 18 regions of the US. See Senate testimony by SFS at

6. Some Thoughts On The Electricity Blackout

The electricity blackout that struck the Northeast United States on August 14 may have been due to an accident at a single electric plant, which then propagated rapidly within the network. It was exacerbated when nuclear plants were forced to shut down because of existing regulations. It was days before power gradually returned.

The laws of physics have met the laws of economics. And the result has been a morass that has prevented the building of new transmission lines at a sufficient pace. The difficulties in winning permits coupled with lack of capital flowing to such projects means that the risks of large-scale reliability problems have increased because of inadequate or congested transmission lines.

But this accidental blackout is nothing compared a situation where we had to rely on renewable energy from windmills.

From what we heard, Danish and German wind turbines were useless during the recent heat wave -- because there was no breeze. So SEPP took a look at the web site of the West Danish Electric Company Eltra and checked the performance during 2003. And sure enough: Production during 2003 varied between a max of 220 Gwh per week in January down to 10 Gwh this summer. We suppose North Germany had a similar experience. And just when they needed air-conditioning most.

Wow! A 95% cut! If that isn't a blackout, we don't know what is.

7. The Ice Age Cometh

From THE SPECTATOR 9 August 2003

By the time The Spectator goes to press, the record for the highest-ever authenticated measurement of air temperature in the British Isles may or may not have been broken. The only certainties are that the railway industry will have dreamed up yet more reasons why trains may only run at 20mph, that there will scarcely be a young, bikini-clad woman in Britain who remains unphotographed for the tabloids, and that spokesmen for the global warming lobby will have trousered a few more grand in television appearance fees.

Not even the nation's ice-cream-sellers can be whooping with joy so loudly as our climatologists. For every degree the mercury tips over 90F, they can expect a few more million pounds in funding. There will be more invitations to No. 10, more OBEs, and another round of conferences in exotic locations to enjoy long after the current heat wave has subsided and our weather returned to its normal miserable self.

That supposedly rational scientific theory on climate change is influenced by what the weather happens to be doing outside their labs is clear from the annals of scientific journals. As Andrew Kenny pointed out in these pages a year ago, the consensus of scientific opinion in the 1970s was that the world was headed for a new ice age. As late as 1975 the editor of New Scientist was warning that 'the threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind'. When the following summer turned out to be one of the hottest on record, sentiment suddenly changed and global warming took over as the great terror.

Do the temperatures in Britain over the past week at all justify the apocalyptic warnings of global warming? It depends, of course, how you wish to distort the data. True, a ridge of very hot air has swung up from the Continent and across Britain, raising the temperature to 92F at Gatwick airport on Tuesday. Yet at Skegness on the same day it reached just 68F. As Conservative-supporting newspapers cannot resist gloating, the temperature has been higher in Bournemouth these past few days than in Barbados, where Tony Blair has taken his family on a freebie holiday courtesy of Cliff Richard. Turn the statistic around and it might equally be interpreted as a warning sign of global cooling: 'Fresh fears of ice age as August temperatures in Barbados fall below those of Bournemouth.'

If you want to construct a case for a new ice age, there is plenty more evidence. In Australia it has been a beastly winter, with some places seeing their first snowfall in decades. In Singapore at this time of year, temperatures are supposed to average 90F, yet for the past few days they have been hovering at a Skegnessian 70F. Maybe the hot air of the tropics has been draining away north in one last gasp before the Atlantic fills with icebergs and the woolly mammoths march across Asia.

Of course, an attempt to build a climatic theory on the basis of a few temperature readings from around the world is fraught with difficulties. But then climatologists do not seem to be very good at interpreting data from the world's weather stations either. Averaged across the globe, temperatures recorded at weather stations have indeed been rising over the past couple of decades. Yet the alternative method of measuring average global temperatures - from satellites - shows no such rise, which suggests global warming may be a phantom effect caused by having too many weather stations among the world's artificially heated concrete jungles. As for the biblical floods widely predicted, sea levels around several islands in the Indian Ocean have actually fallen since their demise was predicted in the 1980s.

Even if the globe is warming, it is far from proven whether this is on balance a bad thing. If a few coral islands were to disappear, would their loss outweigh the gain in agriculture in northern climes? It is bizarre that Britain should be leading the world in taking action against global warming when we would benefit more than anybody: a rise of 2F would merely take our climate back to mediaeval times, when Northumbrian monks were knocking back home-made wine.

If anything, it is the risk of an ice age, which we have to fear. When ice ages arrive, the geological record tells us, they arrive quickly, within the space of a few years. A repeat of the last ice age would see the ice caps extending to the Thames. England would become like Greenland: capable of supporting marginal settlements on its southernmost fringes, but a wasteland within. What is more, the geological record shows that ice ages have tended to occur at 10,000-year intervals and are preceded by few warning signs. The last ice age ended 10,000 years ago.

For anyone reading this on a sun-lounger in Bournemouth, enjoy it while you can. For readers in Skegness, it may be too late already. Even the mass of hot air generated by the climate-change lobby will not prevent the next ice age when it does arrive.


8. New Element Discovered:

"Investigators at a major research institution have discovered the heaviest element known to science. This startling new discovery has been tentatively named Administratium (Ad).

"This new element has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of zero. It does, however, have 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice-neutrons and 111 assistant vice-neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

"These 312 particles are held together by a force called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

"Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

"According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less than a second. Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years; it does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons, vice-neutrons and assistant vice-neutrons exchange places.

"In fact, Administratium sample's mass will actually increase over time, since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isotopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Administratium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as the 'Critical Morass.'"

Source: page 7, Volume VIII, No. 3 of John McCaughey's Energy Perspective:



Go to the Week That Was Index