|The Week That Was
February 21, 2004
1. New on the Web: WHAT CAUSES CLIMATE CHANGE? NATURAL FORCINGS FROM COSMIC-RAY FLUX CHANGES AND SOLAR VARIABILITY MAY BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANTHROPOGENIC GREENHOUSE GASES: An overview by Zbigniew Jaworowski.
2. GLACIERS ARE NOT THERMOMETERS
3. THERE IS LIFE AFTER KYOTO FOR FORMER CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER
4. CLIMATE WARS: EUROPE MAY BLOCK RUSSIA'S WTO ENTRY OVER KYOTO PROTOCOL -- AND A RUSSIAN RESPONSE
5. BRITISH THINK-TANK PROPOSAL: PUT KYOTO TAX ON THE US?
6. BRITAIN'S CHIEF SCIENCE ADVISER IGNORES THE SCIENCE
7. OSAMA BIN GREENHOUSE
8. CLIMATE SCIENCE IGNORED -BY U.K. CHIEF SCIENTIST
9. A TIMELY(?) WARNING: THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING
2. Glaciers are not Thermometers
Do glaciers serve as good indicators of temperature? I think not.
First, which glaciers? I agree with Richard Courtney that one must look at major glaciers with an observed record of 100 years or more. The best compilation is in IPCC-TAR (2001, p.166). It shows changes in length for 20 major non-polar mountain glaciers. I have examined the record and find that they all shrink until about 1940, but that 6 (out of 20) stopped shrinking and even started to grow after 1940.
So what does this tell us about global temperatures since 1940? Actually, very little. Different glaciers have different adjustment times following the warming during the late 19th and early 20th century. Glacier behavior is immensely complicated (see the works of Oerlemans, Huybrechts, vdVeen, Ritz and her colleagues in Grenoble). Each glacier is an individual case, depending on its location, altitude, size, slope and other geometric parameters. Most important, its behavior depends also on its feeding history from snow.
I want to discuss the tropical glacier Kilimanjaro, which has been very
much in the news because of its shrinking ice cap. Its peak is at ~6 km.
As correctly noted, melting may not be the important attrition mechanism.
More likely, it is direct ablation from ice into water vapor, which depends
on ambient humidity, wind speed and wind flow turbulence. To the extent
there is melting under direct sunlight, this would depend crucially on
the albedo and therefore on how much dust and debris has been deposited
into the ice. I don't have such data. But I do know that satellite MSU
data show no appreciable warming trends for the Kili region since 1979.
So the shrinking of the ice cap must be due to causes other than an ambient
3. Big oil welcomes a former foe: Ex-P.M. Chretien can open doors
Who would have guessed that former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who was so nasty to oil types while in power, would pitch to become their go-to guy on international energy matters now that he's a free agent?
The 70-year-old Chretien, a newly minted international energy advisor for top Calgary-based national energy law firm Bennett Jones, hung out in Calgary recently to meet with oil executives -- a place and a group he would have run from while in office. According to early reviews from the prestigious 250-lawyer firm, the star recruit was such a success that response from clients was "fabulous," with Mr. Chretien meeting with four significant energy companies seeking his representation and another five lined up for talks. The legal assignment is one of three secured by Mr. Chretien. He has also joined as a partner at Heenan Blaikie and will be special advisor on Africa to Desjardins Ducharme Stein Monast, a Montreal firm.
Of the three, the Bennett Jones gig has been the most puzzling, prompting much debate in energy circles about what's motivating the legal oilpatch bastion. Competitors say Mr. Chretien's standing is so poor in Alberta and in the industry, where wounds from his stand on issues like the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and the war in Iraq are still fresh, the former Prime Minister is an outright liability. "I think it's a colossal mistake," said one. "In terms of the energy industry he is extraordinarily poorly regarded."
Even as he was battling the sector, Mr. Chretien was building ties abroad, and his gravitas could well be of value to energy companies that are increasingly diversifying internationally. A lot of oil and gas is found in the developing world, where laws and processes are murky, and a former Prime Minister from Canada who can get a hearing at the very top could save oil companies a lot of grief. "Who else in Canada, would, at this point in time, be able to pick up the phone and speak to a series of ambassadors, presidents, prime ministers, ministers? Companies spend a lot of time getting a message up to that level," said a source at the firm. Mr. Chretien is seen as having big pull in Africa, and particularly countries such as Algeria and Nigeria, as well as Latin America and Asia.
The firm wouldn't reveal which companies are seeking Mr. Chretien's help, but said its current and potential clients with international operations include: Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Apache Corp., Atco Ltd., Nexen Inc., ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy Corp., El Paso Corp., Duke Energy Corp., Petro-Canada, Talisman Energy Inc., EnCana Corp., TransCanada Corp. and Enbridge Inc. U.S.-based companies may find an added benefit in having Mr. Chretien press their case in countries where Americans are out of favour.
The appointment points to a political sea change under way in Calgary,
where Paul Martin's ascent has made it more acceptable to be a Liberal.
Like all good businessmen, oilmen value a good adversary, and you can
see why on some issues they'd want him on their team.
"That personal introduction was very helpful in helping us express
our case," Mr. Finn said. But what about all those hard feelings
about Kyoto? "Yeah?," Mr. Finn said. "What about it?"
4. Climate Wars: Europe May Block Russia's WTO Entry Over Kyoto Protocol
Reuters, 28 January 2004
"There are signs of a political link between finalising the WTO
negotiations and Russia's ratification of the Kyoto protocol," European
enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen told a German parliamentary
"Europe suffers from 'Kyotism" -- Andrei Illarionov
Moscow Times of February 20th reports that Illarionov, economic adviser to Prime Minister Putin, did not mince words at the opening session of a two-day international forum on the Kyoto Protocol held in Moscow. The personal representative of Putin to the G8 (Group of Eight) states that the EU (European Union) is undertaking an unprecedented pressure campaign against Russia to have it adhere to the Protocol. The EU's heavy-handed positions leads one to think that the EU has embraced a truly new ideology: Kyotism.
The pressure tactics to induce a decision [by Russia] can only be interpreted as attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation, Illarionov declared. This is unacceptable. In the 20th century, Russia has suffered from another ideology that came from Europe, he continued, referring to Marxism. In the main part of his talk he spoke of the "Return of Gosplan", the State Commission for Economic Planning [under Communism], founded in 1921, which under Stalin came up with the first five-year plan. But since the mechanisms proposed by Kyoto do not propose an increase in production, but a decrease, it would be more appropriate to talk about a return to the Gulag.
Illarionov sees ratification of the Kyoto Protocol as a great obstacle to the economic growth of his country and from the start has held the view that there is not sufficient scientific evidence to adopt punitive measures such as those proposed by Kyoto.
More open [to Kyoto] was Arkady Volsky, Head of the Union of Russian Industrialists and Entrepreneurs: the slowness of Russia in deciding on the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is not a definitive "no". In any case, the lack of ratification by Russia should not prejudice the entry of the Russian Federation into the WTO, which seems to proceed on a good schedule.
( report by Rita Bettaglio; translation from Italian courtesy of Dr
Countries refusing to cut heir emissions of GH gases should face trade
sanctions, a spokesman for a British think-tank tells the BBC. The New
Economics Foundation wants the EU to tax imports from such countries because
they would enjoy a competitive advantage as energy costs increase because
of Kyoto. Twenty years ago, British diplomat Sir Crispin Tickell proposed
such environmental sanctions, now accuses the US refusal to ratify Kyoto
as "height of irresponsibility."
6. Britain's Chief Science Adviser Ignores the Science
Sir, So Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to UK Government, is to warn President George W Bush at the coming Seattle meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science that his inaction on Kyoto is unscientific and unacceptable [Global warming is real terror war says top adviser, February 08, 2004]
Is he aware that weather satellites and balloons, in contrast to less reliable surface records, show no clear global warming trend in the last quarter of the 20th Century? The Kyoto Treaty of 1997, which Sir David advocates as a solution, is not yet in force because Russia, so far, has more sense than to ratify it. Kyoto addresses carbon emissions considered daily less likely to be a major cause of global warming. The cost of Kyoto is horrendous -- while it claims to reduce carbon emissions by only 6/8 percent in 100 years -if the Treaty were to be generally observed.
James Hansen, a distinguished founder of Global Warming Theory, says objective and realistic projections of warming suggest, even if nothing is done to restrict greenhouse gases, that the likely temperature increase over the next 50 years is around 1.5°F, something mankind could easily adapt to. And some scientists are currently forecasting cooling, as the now notorious IPCC report observed, occurred between 1940 and 1975!
7. Osama Bin Greenhouse
By Roy W. Spencer
Under the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, greenhouse gas (mostly carbon dioxide) emissions cuts are being negotiated, with the UK claiming they can reduce their emissions to 60% of 1990 levels by the year 2050.
Instead, modern nations' CO2 emissions continue to grow slowly, rather than shrink. Developing nations' emissions are projected to grow rapidly as their economies strengthen. With today's technology, the energy required to fuel economies necessarily involves the production of CO2, mostly from petroleum and coal. Wind and solar power can only produce a small fraction of what is needed, unless we cover an area the size of Virginia with windmills. Nuclear retains a black eye in the U.S. that still hasn't healed.
Sir David summarizes the extremist case for catastrophic global warming. It is based upon predictions from the UK Hadley Center's climate model, which claims there will be more global warming than most other climate models. But as I touched on in my January 6 article, "Let Them Declare Their Faith", the science represented in these models is immature and large uncertainties abound.
Also, predictably, the benefits to humanity of global warming and increased CO2 concentrations, such as less severe winters and increased agricultural productivity, are ignored. Sir David's statement that UK greenhouse gas emissions intensity (emissions per dollar of GDP) has been steadily falling is a red herring -- it has been falling and will continue to fall dramatically in the U.S. as well.
But let us examine the charge that the U.S. should be showing leadership
in CO2 reductions. Is the United States the "Great Satan" of
the environment? Well, survey the world's countries. Where governments
have allowed citizens to be rewarded for their ingenuity and hard work,
environmental consciousness has naturally arisen. But this happens only
after economies reach the point where people are healthy, fed, and employed.
This requires access to affordable energy. The wealthiest countries are
the cleanest. The poorest countries are destroying the environment, just
as the U.S. was doing early in its Industrial Revolution. Wealth generation
in the last 100 years, spearheaded by the U.S., has led to longer, healthier
lives. Agricultural advances have helped feed the world.
So what happens if we begin punishing the production of energy (which
is the net effect of the Kyoto Protocol) before technological advances,
spurred by free market forces, are allowed to find new energy technologies?
I fear that forced economic decline will lead to much greater social and
political instability around the world than current terrorist organizations
can currently muster. Al Qaeda would become a minor player in a chaotic
world where political and social unrest are the norm. But at least we
will be content knowing that we forestalled maybe half of a degree Fahrenheit
of warming by cutting our greenhouse gas emissions, right? No, I think
the Kyoto Protocol, an international wealth-redistribution scheme cloaked
in bad science, is the real threat to humanity.
8. Climate Science Ignored
There has been much media attention paid to an essay "Climate Change Science: Adapt, Mitigate, or Ignore," featured in the 9 January issue of the widely read US journal Science. Its author, Sir David King, chooses to ignore climate science. Rather, his purpose seems to be to put pressure on the White House to cave in on the Kyoto Protocol. In this effort, he is joined by numerous New York Times editorials and, of course, by Al Gore's notable Columbia University speech of Jan 8, a record cold day in New York, in which he called George Bush a "moral coward"
It is surprising and regrettable that King, chief scientific adviser to Her Majesty's Government, is so uninformed about the observational evidence against global warming. As a distinguished theoretical chemist, he surely must be familiar with complex models and calculations -- and with carefully checking them against actual data before accepting them as valid. Yet when it comes to climate science, all caution is thrown to the winds and we get such hyperbole as: "Climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today -- more serious even than the threat of terrorism."
There is little point to recite here the omissions, inaccuracies, and
plain misstatements of relevant facts that are liberally sprinkled throughout
his essay. [His first paragraph contains at least half a dozen examples.]
Suffice it to say that they can all be addressed - with the end result
that there is at present no solid evidence for a significant
The real danger is that the science advice given to the government will cause serious economic damage to Britain. It is utterly irresponsible to recommend a climate policy that calls for reducing fossil-fuel use by 60 percent (with respect to 1990) by 2050. It amounts to a system of fuel rationing that would raise energy prices to astronomical levels for consumers, cripple industry, increase joblessness and poverty, and ultimately threaten a breakdown of the social order.
It is tragic to watch the UK repeat the mistakes of Germany and Denmark in going overboard in the installation of wind turbines -- in the expectation that they can provide a reliable source of electric power. It even more tragic to watch them turn down the nuclear option, the only way to supplant fossil-fueled electricity. At least, Britain is not yet closing down working fission reactors, as is the case in Sweden and Germany - or refusing to turn them on, as in Austria. At the same time, Sir David recommends [nuclear] fusion as a future energy source - and with a straight face! Fusion has been a "future" source now for decades and may remain so.
He is forced to admit - albeit indirectly - that the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon emissions is ineffective; but then "the point of the Kyoto Protocol was to set up an international process whose scope could be ratcheted up." We always suspected that to be the case, but it's nice to have him confirm it. I am sure it will gladden the hearts of the many UN climate bureaucrats in Geneva, Bonn, and Nairobi, plus the several thousands from 190 national delegations that convene annually (and in between) for giant international gabfests. And that's not counting the considerable national bureaucracies and hundred of NGOs -- all of them intent to keep the Kyoto process going indefinitely even is the Protocol fails enactment. And let's not overlook the thousands of scientists, technologists and media types who derive their living from the fear of climate catastrophes. After all, the US alone spends some $4 billion annually on climate-related research.
Sir David concludes his essay by calling for "immediate action" to avoid the feared climate catastrophes. Of course, he places chief blame on the United States, still the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, until overtaken by China and India, for failing to adopt the Kyoto Protocol and other costly mitigation policies. In the meantime, the climate refuses to warm as advertised; but that will not slow down the devoted followers of warming and advocates of governmental controls. They will derive much encouragement from Sir David King's scientifically flawed position.
S Fred Singer is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the
University of Virginia and President of the non-profit Science & Environmental
Policy Project. A former director of the US Weather Satellite Service,
he has published widely on climate problems. He is the author of "Hot
Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate" (Independent
Institute, Oakland, CA)
9. A timely (?) warning: The climate is changing
"There are ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have
begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic
decline in food production with serious political implications
for just about every nation on earth. The drop in food output could begin
quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel
its impacts are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and [Russia]
in the north, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical
areas parts of India, Pakistan Bangladesh, [Vietnam] and Indonesia
where the growing season depends upon the rains brought by monsoons.