|The Week That Was
Sept. 11, 2004
September 11, 2000 who remembers?
Here I wish to express our deepest sorrow and sympathies to our Russian
colleagues at the barbaric acts of terrorism and the unbelievable cruelty
against innocent children and their parents in Beslan.
The new idea, expressed by Blix representing the decadent European left, and recently amplified by Michael Moore representing the paranoid American left, is that this existential threat is vastly overblown. Indeed, deliberately overblown by a corrupt/clueless (take your pick) President Bush to justify American aggression for reasons of . . . and here is where the left gets a little fuzzy, not quite being able to decide whether American aggression is intended simply to enrich multinational corporations -- or maybe just Halliburton alone -- with fat war contracts, distract from alleged failure in Afghanistan, satisfy some primal masculine urge, or boost poll ratings.
3. CHEMICAL PLANTS ARE VULNERABLE -- NOT NUCLEAR REACTORS
4. CLEARING THE RECORD ON OIL
5. SLOPPY SCIENCE FOR FEDERAL DOLLARS
6. "CLEAN-COAL" TECHNOLOGY DOESN'T REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS
7. THE CONFERENCE BOARD EMBRACES GLOBAL WARMING - BUT WHY?
8. GOOD ADVICE TO CLIMATE WORRIERS
2. The futility of Kyoto and McLieberman
Coal is world's fastest-growing energy source, acc to BP Review of World Energy (June 2004), rising by 6.9% in 2003. World primary energy production increased by 2.9%.
China's coal consumption increased by 15.2% and total energy by 13.8%. Its production increased by 12.2%, of which 91% was in coal for domestic use.
World carbon emissions from energy production increased by 3.8% in 2003
to a level of 18% over 1990 levels. Of this increase, 51% took place in
Coal beds are often a source of clean-burning methane. TheAlaskan resource
of coalbed methane is estimated at 1000 trillion cubic feet (TCF), with
250 TCF in the Cook Inlet region. Proven world reserves are 6200 TCF.
World consumption in 2003 was 92 TCF, with 27 TCF in the US
US oil refinery capacity peaked in 1981, but US refiners began to shut down less efficient plants and consolidate operations due to more stringent environmental regulations that forced expensive modifications to gasoline and other fuels.
A OGJ survey listed 301 operating refineries in 1982, with a peak capacity of 18.5 mbd. The number dropped to 133 in the most recent survey, with a production of about 16 mbd. US consumption of products exceeds 20 mbd, requiring substantial imports of gasoline
Refinery utilization rates increased from about 70% in 1982 to the 90+%
level seen today - putting the system on edge
The Department of Homeland Security has put forward new figures for the number of people at risk from a chemical plant accident or terror incident. According to statistics cited by EPA, there are 7,728 U.S. chemical plants where an accident could affect 1,000 or more nearby residents and 123 that could threaten more than one million people. The new figures from DHS put the number of high-risk facilities at 4,391, with only 2 plants potentially affecting more than a million people.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Department of Homeland security
reworked EPA models using more stringent criteria. "What EPA did
was to consider the release of the most hazardous chemical at the plant
in an accident and then assume that the plume [of toxic gas] threatened
all residents living in a 360 degree circle around the plant equally,"
said a DHS official. In revising the models, DHS assumed a catastrophic
incident would result in the release of all the chemicals at a plant instead
of just one. Then, using prevailing weather patterns at each plant --
a factor not considered by EPA -- DHS modelers directed the plume of gases
through the most densely populated nearby areas. The result was to create
a wedge-shaped "kill zone" instead of the EPA's circular "vulnerability
zone." That decreased the number of dangerous plants, giving Homeland
Security what it says is a better priority list from which to work.
There are a number of myths about oil that are prevalent in the United States, especially regarding U.S. "dependence" on foreign oil and military action as a "subsidy" for the oil industry. It is especially dangerous, however, when these myths become the basis for policy recommendations.
First, in the United States, the principal use of petroleum is for transportation, not for electrical generation. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), transportation accounted for 68 percent of total petroleum consumption in 2002. Petroleum consumption for transportation is heavily taxed - not subsidized - by local, state and federal governments. Annually, the federal government alone collects about $40 billion. Of this, more than $33 billion is spent for highways and similar improvements, about $6 billion on mass transit and about $70 million for the EPA administered Leaking Underground Storage Tanks Fund.
Second, to claim that U.S. military action subsidizes the petroleum industry by insuring secure sources is dubious at best. After the first Gulf War, we returned the captured oil fields to Kuwait. We are returning the oil fields in Iraq to that government. According to the EIA, in 2002 less than 12 percent of total U.S. petroleum consumption came from the Persian Gulf states. These sources are more important to Europe and the Far East than to the United States.
Third, the geographic sources of the petroleum are not important, because there is a world market for oil in which the U.S. is a major component, but not the defining factor. The defining factor is the combination of the competition among various energy sources and the competing consumption of many users in all countries, which, together, establish the worldwide price. Lengthy disruptions of supplies from one region will cause a temporary increase in world price that will result in expansion of production and facilities in other regions. Although inconvenient, a major disruption could trigger the use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to smooth price increases. Many nations are more vulnerable than the United States to such disruptions.
Fourth, we do not need the military to secure stable sources. For decades, nations, tyrants and dictators have willingly sold petroleum because it is in their benefit to do so. And it is in their benefit to protect their sources. Permitting disruptions deprives these countries of needed revenues. An exception to this "need to export" occurred in the 1970s when certain nations attempted to influence American policy towards Israel by initiating what was called the Arab Oil Embargo and denying export to the United States. The attempt failed totally. During the embargo, the United States imported more oil than it did prior to the embargo. This failure is clear evidence of a world market in a fungible (interchangeable) commodity in which no nation, or region, can dominate. The long lines many Americans experienced at the gas pumps during this time were a result of a foolish government policy to allocate the distribution of fuel - rather than a shortage of fuel.
Finally, an interruption in world oil supplies -- for whatever reason and no matter where it occurs - will raise the world price to all oil consumers and damage the national economies of importers, like China and - of course - poor nations that depend greatly on oil. In this respect, the United States is less vulnerable. In 2002, petroleum generated about 2 percent of total electricity. That same year, solar generated about 0.01 percent of the nation's electricity. Coal, in contrast, generates about 54 percent of the nation's electricity. Moreover, the source of this coal is the United States, which has more than adequate amounts and requires no military commitments outside its borders to protect it.
It's important to have a national dialogue on energy policy. But getting the facts straight is the first order of business.
S. Fred Singer is the president of The Science & Environmental
Policy Project (SEPP) <http://www.sepp.org/>
According to Michaels, a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts that global warming will create numerous deaths in California and destroy the state's wine industry. However, the paper is flawed for several reasons:
* It uses 15-year-old research on heat-related deaths and a computer model that is incapable of predicting U.S. temperatures (much less California temperatures).
* One of the models -- from the British Meteorological Office -- was used in a similar version by the Clinton administration, but it was shown to perform worse than a table of random numbers in predicting temperature changes.
* The paper downscaled the original model (which had a resolution of 36,000 square miles) to 56 square miles to predict California's temperature, in spite of the fact that it could not accurately predict surface temperatures.
Moreover, a model that cannot accurate predict surface temperatures, says Michaels, cannot accurately predict precipitation either, even though the paper estimated that decreased rainfall would ruin California vineyards.
Furthermore, the 15-year-old research on heat-related deaths did not take into account that people have adapted to heat, through air conditioning, improved emergency care and new precautions. It instead assumes what scientists refer to as the "dumb people scenario" -- that inhabitants will "fry and die" instead of adapting to changing climate.
However, without sloppy science predicting the dire consequences of global
warming, scientists might miss out on the $4 billion allotted annually
to climate change research.
According to DOE, http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/factsheets/project/Proj225.pdf,
The proposed plant is four times as large as the existing pilot plants built and operated with federal subsidies. AEP now must convince Wall Street and utility regulators that the technology is commercially mature and reliable. It may also require federal loan guarantees and state cost-recovery assurances.
So why go the IPCC route? AEP may simply be trying to improve its image
(at ratepayers' expense) by overreacting to unrealistic pressures to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions - such as the absurd lawsuit recently filed by
several state attorneys-general. It's clear, AEP would rather look Green
than fight. But IGCC is not the answer.
Dear Mr Ball
Yr story (WSJ 9/8/04) reports on the regrettable position of the once-respected Conference Board on the issue of Global Warming. It is apparently based on a June conference supported by the CB, financed by the "ever-green" Hewlett Foundation, and organized by the editor of Science. Don Kennedy, a Stanford biologist, is well known for his blatant editorial advocacy of GW scares and partisan attacks on the Bush Administration .
The AAAS-CB "scientific conference" didn't even pretend towards balance in existing views --and I note with regret the absence of such balance in yr story. Still -- yr story is well written. I suggest you next investigate and write about what motivates the industry-friendly Conf Board to take an anti-growth, anti-industry position. I am sure yr readers are wondering -- as am I.
Letter to News-Observer (Raleigh-Durham- Chapel Hill, NC)
Your Sept. 1 editorial "Warming trend" claimed that the Bush administration admits that carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning is the cause of recent climate warming. But the government report says no such thing. It says only that theoretical models show this -- hardly a new result. Actual observations published in peer-reviewed science journals do not show significant warming of the atmosphere based on data from weather satellites and, quite independently, from weather balloons.
[This Letter also responds to a quite similar editorial that appeared
in the NYT on Aug 27. A direct Letter to the NYTimes was sent by Prof
Fred Decker of Oregon State University]
To the Editor, NYT:
"Best available" (not "possible") does apply only to the twice-daily satellite measurements taken globally (verified by balloon soundings) during the past quarter-century. These do not show appreciable atmospheric warming. Lively debate surrounds the disagreement between those actual measurements and the theoretical model predictions. Even present satellite temperature data do not fully cover all parts of the globe during 24-7. The rating "best possible" would apply to such in-depth temperature profile data continuously obtained simultaneously for the entire atmospheric envelope surrounding the earth.
Our "lower 48" weather stations do not have locations ideal for the numerical models. Worse yet, urbanization shifted the environment, affecting most stations' readings. Compared to this best network on the planet, all other areas have less adequate networks or none at all.
The Times editorial "Warming to Global Warming" on Aug. 27 demanding government-imposed limits to carbon dioxide emission would rely upon preliminary studies using primitive data distorted by changing environment of most weather stations, and including only very sparse data over the oceans, which comprise two-thirds of the earth's surface. If our economy suffers such arbitrary regulation of fuel-burning energy generation, it risks permanent recession without any assured climate benefits.
Fred W. Decker, Ph.D., Corvallis, OR. President, Mt. Hood Philosophical
Society (Emeritus Faculty in Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University,
Retired USAF Weather Officer, Meteorologist since 1937, and currently
a Forensic Meteorological Consultant.)