|The Week That Was
April 16, 2005
New on the Web: Paul Driessen and Cyril Boynes describe the advantages of biotech agriculture for poor farmers in developing nations. To learn how GM corn reduces the incidence of severe birth defects from mycotoxins, read Bruce Chassy at http://heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=16388
Activists harass blueberry farmer in Maine (Item #1). This stuff never stops.
Polar history shows melting ice cap may be a natural cycle (Item #2). For current data see http://www.techcentralstation.com/122004F.html
No new refineries have been built in the US in the past 30 years. In fact, their number has declined. The strained capacity of the remaining ones represents a serious security risk. (Item #3).
In a radio interview on NPR (where else?) Scientific American editor John Rennie belittles the need for balanced reporting, for example on global warming (Item #4). For a rather different view, see the essay by Prof Henry Bauer on Knowledge Monopolies and Research Cartels (Item #5).
"Big Money" discovers the huge tax breaks and subsidies for wind energy while taxpayers and electric customers pick up the tab (Item #6)
The Weather Channel's climatologist Heidi Cullen has a strangely simplistic view of Climate Change. Since CO2 is a GH gas and is increasing, therefore it must be warming. (Item #7). What about the actual observations, Heidi?
Perhaps you saw Joseph Romm's nasty review of Michael Crichton's State of Fear in MIT-Technology Review (May 2005). Here is a response (Item #8). Also, for a good antidote, read "Michael Crichton is Right" at http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=16260.
Finally. George Taylor, Oregon State Climatologist, reviews "Global
Warming in a Politically Correct Climate: How Truth Became Controversial"
Threats of a lawsuit have forced a Maine blueberry grower to abandon his legal right to aerial spray. The blueberry farm was threatened with a lawsuit by activist groups unless the family farm sought Clean Water Act permits to aerially apply pesticides. The farm announced Sunday, April 10, that it would cease aerial spraying because the legal defense costs would threaten the 125*year old farm's existence.
In spite of the activists' claims, for the last three decades, the Environmental
Protection Agency, and now the Maine Department of Environmental Protection,
have said that Clean Water Act permits are not necessary for pesticides
applied in compliance with federal pesticide laws and regulations.
THE melting of sea ice at the North Pole may be the result of a centuries-old natural cycle and not an indicator of man-made global warming, Scottish scientists have found.
After researching the logbooks of Arctic explorers spanning the past 300 years, scientists believe that the outer edge of sea ice may expand and contract over regular periods of 60 to 80 years. This change corresponds roughly with known cyclical changes in atmospheric temperature. The finding opens the possibility that the recent worrying changes in Arctic sea ice are simply the result of standard cyclical movements and not a harbinger of major climate change.
The amount of sea ice is currently near its lowest point in the cycle and should begin to increase within about five years. As a result, Dr Chad Dick, a Scottish scientist working at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromso, believes the next five to ten years will be a critical period in our understanding of sea ice and the impact, if any, of long-term global warming.
He said: "Cycles of 60 to 80 years have been identified before in atmospheric temperature records in the Arctic. The old records that we recovered from ships' logs and other sources may show that similar cycles are present in sea ice.
Dr Dick said the research did not suggest that global warming was not a reality. "You couldn't say, 'The sea ice is coming back so therefore there's no global warming'. It's never going to be that simple," he said. "But the question now is the extent of global warming, how fast it will happen and whether there are any surprises on the way.
He added that some people might be pleased to see less ice in the Arctic as it would finally open up the Northwest Passage trade route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans - sought by many of the explorers whose log-books were used in the study. "If the sea ice continues to disappear it could cut something like 5,000km off the sea route from Europe to Japan and China. There are people who think that's a good thing," Dr Dick said.
Among the hundreds of mariners whose records were examined by Dr Dick were the noted Scottish arctic explorer Sir John Ross and his nephew Sir James Clark Ross. Sir James discovered the magnetic North Pole in 1831 after earlier accompanying his uncle to the Arctic in 1818. He then began to explore the Antarctic, giving his name to the Ross Sea, Ross Island and the Ross Ice Shelf.
In January, the International Climate Change Task Force warned that global
warming could reach a "point of no return" in ten to 20 years
by which time atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations would be so great
that any attempt to reduce them would be futile. [But see comments in
TWTW of Feb 5, 2005]
The recent explosion at a Texas oil refinery impacted an already strained supply chain and underscored how environmentalists put our national security and energy independence at risk, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).
According to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), the last refinery built in the United States was in Garyville, La., in 1976. NPRA says the industry has been lacking for years:
o In 1981, 321 refineries pumped out 18.6 million barrels a day of gasoline.
o Today, only 149 refineries pump out 16.8 million barrels of gasoline daily, operating at over 90 percent of capacity.
o The industry forecasts 8 to 10 new refineries will be needed to keep up with demand; each refinery is estimated to cost $2.5 billion and take seven years to complete.
Even if companies wanted to build a new refinery, the environmental burden is huge and the costs are overwhelming. Approval of a new refinery could require as many as 800 different permits and NPRA says environmental regulatory costs over the past decade reached $47 billion.
The lack of slack and flexibility is resulting in exaggerated seasonal
shortages and price volatility, putting our energy supply, economy and
national security are at risk, says IBD.
4. Scientific American shows its Bias
JOHN RENNIE: But you have people like Senator James Inhofe, who have repeatedly stood on the floor of the Senate and have said, on the basis of their own vast knowledge of phenomena like global warming, that it's all a colossal sham, that it's in fact the greatest sham being perpetrated on the public. Similarly, you have somebody like Michael Crichton, who's a very smart man and has written about science fiction for lots of years, he suddenly manages to dip a toe into the, the world of environmentalism in recent years, and from that comes to the conclusion that it, too, is an enormous charade.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But do you think that the media have been complicit, by presenting established scientific doctrine as a he said/she said argument that requires balanced reporting on both sides?
JOHN RENNIE: There's nothing wrong with balance in principle. Balance is a very important thing to have in stories, in the same way that you want to have fairness, and - heaven forbid - accuracy. On lots of issues, it's very hard to know where the ultimate truth lies. So the best you can do is present lots of different views and leave it to the - your, your audience to try to piece together the truth for themselves. But on some scientific issues, that's really not the best you can do.
You don't want to have stories structured in such a way that, for example,
you have one global warming supporter who is quoted, representing 98 percent
of the scientific community and then matched up against one other person
who's a denier, who's given effectively the same amount of space. Because
then people in your audience could be left with the idea that there is
a more equal balance in how seriously those ideas are taken.
Recent events confirm that "Big Money" interests in the US and Europe have discovered the enormously generous tax breaks and subsidies that are now available in the US for producing electricity with wind turbines. These organizations are moving aggressively to build wind farms and to seek more subsidies.
Meanwhile, as more wind turbines are proposed in the US and other countries, ordinary citizens have learned that wind farms are not environmentally benign. Instead, wind energy has high economic, environmental, ecological, scenic and property value costs. Wind turbines produce only small amounts of electricity and that electricity is unreliable and low in value.
Quite likely, many members of Congress, state legislators, governors, regulators and local officials don't yet realize that they have been misled about the true benefits and costs of wind energy - or the extent of their combined generosity to the wind industry.
In the US, wind farms are now being built primarily for tax avoidance purposes, not because of their environmental, energy or economic benefits. The tax breaks and subsidies have more value to wind farm owners than the revenue from the sale of electricity they produce.
These generous tax breaks and subsidies are at the expense of ordinary taxpayers and electric customers and are hidden in their tax bills and monthly electric bills. Government officials seem unaware or uncaring about either the large transfer of wealth to wind farm owners from ordinary citizens -- or the fact that large amounts of capital are being spent on projects that produce only small amounts of unreliable, low-value electricity.
As detailed below:
**At least 10 large US and foreign companies are now working to build more wind farms in the US to take advantage of the exceedingly generous tax breaks and subsidies.
**Facts demonstrate that advocates have consistently overstated the environmental benefits and understated the environmental, ecological and economic costs of wind energy.
**The tax breaks and subsidies for wind energy already in place are providing huge benefits for a few companies, but the wind industry is lobbying for even more.
Despite the facts, it's far from clear that legislators, local government
officials and regulators will temper their enthusiasm for wind energy
since so many have accepted as fact the false and misleading information
distributed during the past decade by wind energy advocates. Also, they
are well aware of wind industry lobbying power and campaign contributions.
Washington (CNSNews.com) -- Proclaiming itself as the "pre-eminent provider of weather information," The Weather Channel may appear politically passive and objective to most of its viewers. Yet, the network has become an aggressive force in the battle against "global warming," even sending its sole climatologist to a recent Capitol Hill news conference to defend the science behind the climate change theory and to promote economic solutions to the problem.
The Weather Channel (TWC), which boasts on its website that it "understands and cares about the connection between weather and people's lives," also served as a consultant and allowed the use of its name and logo in the 2004 "global warming" disaster film, "The Day After Tomorrow." That's the same film that was heavily hyped by former Democratic Vice President Al Gore and the liberal group Moveon.org.
On March 15, TWC's climatologist Heidi Cullen appeared at the U.S. Senate Dirksen Building to support a disputed scientific report that asserted human activity was causing a catastrophic warming of the North Pole. On that day, Cullen said she did not want to be seen as an "advocate" for human-caused climate change. "[F]or me even ... coming and giving a talk like this (on Capitol Hill), I try to be very careful because I don't want to be an advocate."
Yet during a panel discussion, Cullen stated that it is scientifically undeniable that humans are causing the earth to warm. Cullen participated on the same panel as Robert Corell, the chair of the controversial international Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), which purports to show that the earth is experiencing "rapid and severe climate change in the Arctic."
"There are certain aspects of the science that are really so strong and so solid, we should just say it's good [so] we can move on and talk about the rest of the issues.," Cullen, formerly with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said at the news conference.
"We know that CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a greenhouse gas and it is warming the earth. We have known this for over 200 years now. We know that CO2 concentrations are increasing because of human activities. We can't debate to a certain extent anymore. We know this is clear, the globe is warming," she added
"Simple measures" could be implemented to limit U.S. energy emissions, Cullen stated. "The UK has cut emissions by 15 percent and it hasn't hurt their economy."
Cullen also appeared to reveal her personal ideology when she joined
Hollywood actors at the May 2004 premiere of "The Day After Tomorrow,"
the politically charged and heavily publicized film that cost $125 million
and provided what Gore called "a rare opportunity to have a national
conversation about what truly should be seen as a global climate emergency."
In his mean-spirited review (MIT Tech Rev May 2005, p.81) of Michael Crichton's best-selling eco-thriller State of Fear, Joseph Romm betrays not only his ignorance of climate science but also his bias. He had served as a political appointee in the Clinton-Gore Administration. It shows.
He ascribes the cooling of the global climate from 1940 to 1975 (a great embarrassment for global warming promoters) to aerosols from fossil fuel burning. This ad-hoc explanation, proposed by those who wanted to preserve fear of greenhouse warming, is no longer believed by them.
Romm, of course, ignores the absence of any significant warming of the atmosphere in the past quarter century, as documented by weather satellite data and by independent observations from weather balloons. He really should take the trouble to examine the literature references in Crichton's book.
It is telling that he buys into the myth that there is a "consensus" about the science backing catastrophic global warming. This myth has been given some credence by Naomi Oreskes (Science Dec 3, 2004). Based on her "analysis" of 934 abstracts, she claims there is not a single one that doubts the GW story. Anyone can falsify her conclusion by examining the same public database. The real scandal is not so much Oreskes' biased analysis but that, so far, Science has refused to publish such a correction.
A recent international survey among some 500 climatologists found that "a quarter of respondents still question whether human activity is responsible for the most recent climatic changes." (Der Spiegel, 24 January 2005; http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,342376,00.html). After the Russian Academy of Sciences issued its report in May 2004, President Vladimir Putin has termed Kyoto "scientifically flawed." Even Tony Blair has emphasized the ongoing scientific debates among climate scientists: "So it would be true to say the evidence [on anthropogenic global warming] is still disputed" (Davos Speech, 26 January 2005; http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page7006.asp).
So much for "consensus."
Mihkel Mathiesen's book, "Global Warming in a Politically Correct Climate: How Truth Became Controversial," is an indictment of the lies and politics that fuel global warming hysteria and other environmental non-disasters.
Mathiesen describes the sequence of events that shape environmental policy:
o An environmental group or government agency puts out a press release about a looming catastrophe.
o The media reports on the issue using conditional statements making people believe an environmental problem is severe and immediate.
o The pressure to do something about it prompts enactment of legislation -- even before scientific studies are completed and facts are available.
Moreover, Mathiesen exposes the environmental falsehoods that have cost society dearly in terms of money and lives:
o The ban on the pesticide DDT in 1972 was based on dubious "scientific" evidence, despite its being an effective weapon against malaria; the disease has now claimed 15 million deaths worldwide.
o The purported acid rain scare has been debunked by a report concluding that the United States does not have a significant acid rain problem; however, utility companies in the Midwest still had to spend $140 billion on equipment changes.
Furthermore, with regard to global warming, the practice of sampling air bubbles in 400,000-year old ice cores to determine CO2 is not reliable, because it is based on the assumption that the air has remained inert and stable for that time period, says Mathiesen.
Source: George Taylor, "Book Review: Mihkel Mathiesen's "Global Warming in a Politically Correct Climate: How Truth Became Controversial" Universe Star, Universe.com, Inc., Lincoln, Neb., 2004. See also http://www.marklynas.org/wind/message/1068.html