|The Week That Was
August 28, 2004
1. New on the Web: OUR OWN GORDON PRATHER RECOUNTS THE HISTORY AND COMPLEXITIES OF THE YUCCA MOUNTAIN CONTROVERSY.-now a political football in the November elections
2. THE REAL WASTE AT YUCCA MOUNTAIN: Ted Rockwell explains
3. NUCLEAR ENERGY COMING BACK
4. THE CURRENT GLOBAL WARMING CRAZE RESEMBLES THE MANIA OF WITCH-TRIALS
5. CALIFORNIA GLOBAL WARMING STUDY: PURE POLITICS
6. KNEE-JERK REACTION TO WHITE HOUSE GLOBAL WARMING NEWS
7. AFRICAN PROVERB, overheard at the Renewable-Energy Conference in
James Glassman's commentary (WashTimes, Aug 26) apparently intends to persuade us that moving nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain is a good idea. Unfortunately, he uses the industry's argument that nuclear materials are just too dangerous to leave them at the reactor sites, where they have been sitting for the past 40 years, hurting no one. Glassman tells us these materials are now "exposed to terrorism, corrosion and just plain accidents The waste will start leaking into drinking-water supplies."
The material can't leak anywhere because it's ceramic pellets, clad in corrosion-resistant metal, inside stainless steel casks. As reported in the authoritative journal Science (Sept 20, 2002 & Jan 10, 2003), there's nothing a terrorist can do to these casks to cause a significant public hazard.
It's probably useful to have one or more places to store this "spent fuel" until we're ready a few decades hence to recover the valuable materials it contains. Yucca Mountain is better than most places for it. But in its hurry to get the material off its hands, the industry has agreed to ridiculous specifications and scared us into believing they are necessary.
Radioactive materials stay toxic for a long time, but get less toxic every day. But non-radioactive poisons -- selenium, mercury, arsenic, lead -- stay toxic forever, never diminishing.
The only waste at Yucca Mountain is misspent money.
"The fear of nuclear
energy is understandable through its association in the mind with the
horrors of nuclear warfare, but it is unjustified; nuclear power plants
are not bombs. What at first was a proper concern for safety has become
a near-pathological anxiety and much of the blame for this goes to the
news media, the television and film industries, and fiction writers. All
these have used the fear of things nuclear as a reliable prop to sell
their wares. They, and the political disinformers who sought to discredit
the nuclear industry as potential enemies, have been so successful at
frightening the public that it is now impossible in many nations to propose
a new nuclear power plant."
By Lee Morrison
MEDICINE HAT -- In Scotland, in 1591, 29 unfortunate individuals were hanged and one burned at the stake for attempting, through witchcraft, to drown King James as he sailed home from Denmark with a Danish bride. Persuasive court testimony, and confessions by the miscreants, detailed how Satan, enraged that the king had married a Protestant princess, had enlisted a coven of witches and warlocks to cause a great storm at sea. Miraculously, the royal vessel wasn't wrecked. King James survived to write a famous work on Demonology and to commission what was to become the most popular and successful English version of the Bible.
The executions were precursors to a century of madness in which tens of thousands of Europeans were tortured and executed. Probably 50,000, mostly elderly Catholic women, were slaughtered in Great Britain alone. These atrocities weren't precipitated merely by peasants out to avenge crop failures, mysterious diseases and inclement weather. The proletariat participated enthusiastically in the mayhem, but the instigators were the intelligentsia, post-Elizabethan scholars, jurists who wrote learned treatises on the detection of witches, and government officials who paid generous bounties to witch hunters.
Utterly convinced of the righteousness of their cause and the necessity of action to forestall the evil outcomes of sorcery, courts dispensed with the legal rights available to ordinary offenders. Any poor soul accused of witchcraft could be summarily arrested and tortured and had virtually no chance of being exonerated. Hardly anyone spoke out against the mania. To do so was to invite public ridicule, accusations of heresy or, at worst, charges of witchcraft. This was happening in the same society where Sir Isaac Newton was developing advanced mathematics and codifying the laws of physics.
Now, fast forward to 2004. In the western mountains of North America, the weather has been hot and dry and hundreds of forest fires are burning in the worst fire season since -- well, since the last really bad one. The witch hunters and their guru, David Suzuki, are busy and vociferous. Unwilling to accept the reality, known to glaciologists, paleoclimatologists and serious historians, that climate is a randomly variable phenomenon, they need a villain -- someone to blame for the vagaries of nature. The means of investigation have been upgraded, from dunking suspects in ponds or poking them with needles, to feeding arbitrary and often irrelevant data into super-computers, but the mindset hasn't changed in four centuries. "Somebody" must be causing all of this grief.
Oh my! The guilty parties aren't just a few unfortunate women with low likeability indexes. The evildoer, according to the omniscient computers, is everyman. The blame lies with all of the evil energy pigs that constitute humanity itself. This isn't science in the traditional sense, because there is no provable cause and effect relationship. It is, at best, theology or, at worst, computer-assisted astrology.
Major environmental lobbies, most of the media and all Canadian political parties now treat human-induced global warming as scientific fact, right up there with the law of gravity. The only people who continue to vigorously debate the question are scientists.
Promoters of the theory of human-induced global warming have managed to promulgate the canard that "the vast majority of scientists" are believers. Apart from the fact that scientific truth is not, and never has been, determined by majority vote, this is simply not true. Dozens of distinguished scholars here and abroad, even within the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have belatedly gone public with their doubts.
Thousands of lower profile scientists have repudiated global warming theology with anti-Kyoto petitions, in letters to legislators and editors and through their professional societies. Nevertheless, true believers in Ottawa are poised to inject billions dollars into pork-barrel projects on the basis of an unproven hypothesis.
Thanks to decades of dumbing down secondary education, today's global warming enthusiasts have the same symbiotic relationship with the public that was enjoyed by 17th century witch hunters. Millions of Canadian high-school graduates don't understand the scientific method of investigation or even know what it is. They may be "socially aware" and blessed with "self-esteem" but few have been taught to think logically or to recognize simple causation fallacies.
Thus: "Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing and the world seems to be getting warmer. Therefore, carbon dioxide is causing climate change." An equally illogical and unprovable syllogism would be, "The world seems to be getting warmer and atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing. Therefore, climate change is causing the production of a lot of carbon dioxide."
It isn't unusual for a mania such as the current preoccupation with global warming to infect, not only the great unwashed, but also leaders in academia and government. Power and influence don't provide immunity to mass hysteria today any more than they did in the days of King James.
For other modern examples of unreasoning prejudice penetrating the highest
levels of society, one need look no further than McCarthyism in the U.S.,
the anti-intellectual frenzy of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, or the
passionate intolerance of radical Islam. Following the crowd is part of
the human condition and "Kyotoism" is a typical example. Like
other manias, it will eventually pass but not, I fear, before substantial
economic and social harm has been done.
Lee Morrison is a retired geologist, engineer and Saskatchewan MP.
He lives in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
August 18, 2004 -- California will become hotter and drier by the end of the century, menacing the valuable wine and dairy industries, even if dramatic steps are taken to curb global warming. That was the doomsday prediction of a new study released by researchers from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in Stanford, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Yet experts from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) responded that this is just the latest example of climate alarmists using junk science to make a political point.
"The climate models these researchers rely on have been proven over and over to be entirely unreliable," said NCPA Adjunct Scholar S. Fred Singer. "They can't even reliably predict the present climate, but they know specifically what's going to happen to California in the future?" Singer is also the president of the Science and Environment Policy Project and a former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service.
The NCPA noted that several studies have found the majority of the computer climate models to be entirely ineffective. For example, a recent report by scientists from the Universities of Rochester and Virginia (including Prof. Singer) found that the most-often-cited climate models used to assert that greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2), is causing the Earth to warm, differ starkly from the actual data of the past quarter-century.
Furthermore, the National Academy of Sciences, the United Nations Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
have all stated that climate models cannot produce meaningful regional
predictions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concurred, stating,
". . . complicated computer models . . . are still not accurate enough
to provide reliable forecasts of . . . the direction, let alone the magnitude
or timing, of the seasonal or even annual changes
August 27, 2004 - Experts from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) criticized today's editorial in the New York Times for jumping to conclusions the White House did not draw. The editorial takes the White House to task for reporting that any recent global warming may be caused by human activity, but at the same time refusing to do anything about it. The NCPA further stressed the White House report in question relies on computer models proven to be unreliable.
"While folks in the Commerce Department brought this on themselves by clouding the administration's position on global warming, the New York Times has effectively put words in their mouth," said NCPA Adjunct Scholar S. Fred Singer. "Just yesterday the paper quoted Dr. James Mahoney saying this report 'was not supposed to be a conclusive state-of-the-science summary of the administration's thinking.'"
At issue is a report from Dr. Mahoney, the assistant secretary of commerce and director of government climate research, delivered to Congress Wednesday that asserted federal research shows emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are the only likely explanation for any warming over the last three decades.
Singer noted that there are still disputes about whether the reported surface warming is real or due to contaminated data, but there is little dispute about the absence of such warming in the atmosphere. Both satellite and balloon data agree on this.
The only deviation from this conclusion is a collection of computer climate models, which were the basis for the administration's report. However, the NCPA noted scientists from the Universities of Rochester and Virginia found that the computer climate models used to blame greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2), as causing the Earth to warm are in stark contrast to reality. The models suggest that CO2 causes the warming to increase with altitude, becoming twice as strong at about three miles up. But when the scientists compared the results from the three commonly cited climate models with four independent observational data sets, they found that the actual observations showed the opposite.
"It has become increasingly clear that the science behind the human-induced global warming theory is uncertain at best," said Dr. Singer. "Rather than being criticized for not endorsing an energy rationing scheme like the Kyoto Protocol, the administration should be complimented for having established a research program to resolve scientific uncertainties."
In addition, NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett points out that the
Bush administration has not ignored climate change, as its critics claim.
"They simply didn't buy into costly schemes, like Kyoto, that would
do nothing to prevent global warming but would hamstring the economy."
Burnett noted that the Administration has long promoted energy efficiency,
reducing energy use and resultant emissions as a percentage of GDP or
"You have to become White first before you can become Green"