The Week That Was
April 22, 2006

The Week That Was (April 22, 2006) brought to you by SEPP

Editorial for Earth Day:

Today is Earth Day - and also the anniversary of Lenin's birth. How appropriate! The Reds have morphed into Greens. In the old days of Marx and Lenin, capitalism used to oppress the working class; now it despoils nature. The new religion of environmentalism is on full display in the "Green" issue of Vanity Fair (May 2006), the magazine of conspicuous consumption. So amidst the ads for diamond-studded $10,000 watches and super-powered $100,000 SUVs you find paeans of praise for the moneyed "defenders of the environment." The irony of it all seems to have escaped the editors.

On the cover of the May issue sits a grim-faced Al Gore, with Julia Roberts hovering over him - done up as a wood nymph in a green Bill Blass dress. There is also actor George Clooney and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. To find out which is which, I had to consult page 244: George is the one with the Brooks Brothers suit, Edun shirt, and Ferragamo shoes. Thanks for yr help, VF.

On page 106, VF inducts James Hansen into its Hall of Fame. He is the NASA employee whom the "White Housie tried to muzzle," who received a $250,000 grant from the Heinz Foundation, who endorsed John Kerry* before the 2004 election, and who has been hyping climate fears and mishandling data for nearly 20 years, setting some sort of record unmatched by others. (Not that they haven't tried.) He is seen wearing a Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit, Calvin Klein shirt, Pringle sweater, and Tyrwhitt shoes. Very elegant.

* The haughty, French-looking senator from Massachusetts married to Teresa Heinz, who by the way served in Viet Nam but has yet to release his service records.

And beginning on page 200, claiming to be "armed with hard science," VF explains how New York, Washington, and - yes - Martha's Vineyard (horrors!) will be all underwater before 2100. (Not even the UN's IPCC science report agrees with them -although Hansen does.) In the process they manage to deliver ad hominem attacks on respected scientists. How sad.

New on the Web: Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, has had his epiphany and become a booster for nuclear energy. Never mind that one of his arguments is his fear of Global Warming. He may come around some day; who knows?

On the 20-year anniversary, enviro-revisionists are trying to portray Chernobyl as a cataclysmic disaster. Health physicist John Sutherland objects and we also have a student's eye-witness account (Item #1).

Windmills just won't get it done: Why we need nuclear power -and fast. By Lord David Howell (Item #2)

Trenchant observations by Alister McFarquhar on societal support for Global Warming fears (Item #3). It's not just the media and the money; society is sick.

Why are Americans more skeptical about GW than Europeans? Online discussion (Item #4)

An analysis of paleo-data eliminates extreme values of climate sensitivity but may still give values that are too high (Item #5). Modelers can make mistakes - big ones (Item #6). [I must admit that I had signed up for this BBC-sponsored project]

Now for Al Gore's movie: Just another "Day After Tomorrow." See Item #7 and previous issues of TWTW for factual rebuttals and relish the pointed comments of Jonah Goldberg (National Review) and Wesley Pruden (Washington Times). Read Item #8 for a panegyric from a Gore booster, plus my recollection of a personal encounter with Gore and his traveling slideshow of GW horrors.

And finally: Requiem For Environmentalism: It's the old story: too much Crying Wolf. By an undergrad at Harvard [There is hope yet] (Item #9)


The newly-established International Panel to Stop the Incipient Ice Age (IPSIIA) will celebrate its founding in a Baltic Cruise this summer with a series of mini-symposia aboard ship and in various ports in a region that was covered with kilometerthick sheets of ice during the first half of the Holocene as recently as 5000 years ago. Building on a successful dry run in 2004 with co-founder of IPSIIA Dr. Klaus Heiss, we will start and return to London, visiting the following ports: Warnemunde (Rostock), Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen in a 12-day cruise (Aug 27 to Sept. 8).

Cost per person is about $2000 (incl. tax and port charges), depending on type of cabin. Contact travel agent Matt Aquino ASAP and mention SEPP
1-800-377-9383 x298 or


1. Report on Chernobyl Consequences 11, 2006 11:20 AM

TAKOMA PARK, Maryland - April 11 - A new study being released today in Kiev, Ukraine directly challenges the findings of a IAEA/WHO (International Atomic Energy Agency/World Health Organization) report from last September that predicted 4,000 likely cancer deaths as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The study was commissioned by Rebecca Harms, a Green Party member of the European Parliament, on behalf of the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament and in conjunction with the April 23-25 Chernobyl+20: Remembrance for the Future conference in Kiev, Ukraine. The study, titled "TORCH" (The Other Report on Chernobyl) was prepared by two scientists from the United Kingdom, Dr. Ian Fairlie and Dr. David Sumner.

Some key findings of The Other Report on Chernobyl (TORCH) (i) include:
Belarus, Ukraine and Russia were heavily contaminated, however more than half of Chernobyl's fallout was deposited outside these countries fallout from Chernobyl contaminated about 40% of Europe's surface area about 2/3rds of Chernobyl's collective dose was distributed to populations outside Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, especially to western Europe about 30,000 to 60,000 excess cancer deaths are predicted, 7 to 15 times greater than IAEA/WHO's published estimate of 4,000

The 'greens' have lost the nuclear war, so they are now intent on trying to terrify people again with guess-timates of future health effects based upon wild and unscientific extrapolations of junk science.
The real harm of Chernobyl to people, occurred in the first two months of the accident (31 dead). The UN has used the best science (UNSCEAR 2000, etc.) to try and honestly define present and future health effects.

The Greens on the other hand are using the nonsense of collective-dose extrapolations from doses that are down to almost zero, and about a thousand times LESS than natural background radiation to try to stir up the fears once more. I could do the same with natural background radiation across the world's entire population as they do, and extrapolate out as far as I need to, to terrify people with the ever-increasing numbers of millions to die, but that would be as dishonest as their tactic. At 20 years after the accident, we've seen the worst already that the accident can do. Now we are seeing the desperate worst (perhaps) that the hysterical Greens can invent. They should go back to dressing like killer tomatoes and GM corn. It fitted their clown image better.

If this is the best science that they can do, they will lose even more ground in the battle for the hearts and minds of people in an energy-critical world.

John K. Sutherland.

I was in Tchernobyl in 1990 as student and I had the chance to visit the place, including Pripiat town. Fortunately, I had also the chance to have many detectors with me. I well remember being there wearing my usual clothing and measuring radioactivity below the level of Cambria or Brittany for example.
I well remember the newspaper, showing in the same place where I was standing, at the same time (reports showing people standing in june 1990), with all kinds of special masks and so on, just for the purpose of making a good picture. I am sorry but this does not seem very serious to me.
Furthermore, I also had the chance to work in Russia for a year and a half between 1992 and 1994. I knew people who were in the first group of decontamination there. They received a high dose but their life was not endangered. I also met people who were not there but got a certificate that they actually were (with a little money they could get one and this would allow them to travel free of charge in the underground). I finally met people who were ready to say black or white for money provided to them, both in Kiev or in Moscow.
One knows that most of these accidents (except for Bhopal - Union Carbide for example) translate into a reduced number of deaths since people are followed by doctors when they were not before. This is a fact not a calculation.
As a further contribution.

The (TORCH) report by Drs. Fairlie and Sumner is an attempt to heighten future radiation concerns throughout the world, especially as they relate to Chernobyl. This pits two scientists working for the 'Greens' against the more than 100 radiation medical specialists of the various branches of the UN. Of course, even one dissenting scientific voice might be correct, but not based upon the speculative data they present.

The conference at which the report is to be presented by Dr Fairlie, is to be held in Kiev just before the 20th Chernobyl anniversary, and is a meeting of the usual anti-technology and anti-social suspects: mostly anti-nuclear individuals and organizations, and other related 'greens'.

At this point their agenda becomes immediately suspect. They have nothing to contribute to society except future unwarranted fear and manipulated hysteria; as usual. It is a case of them gritting their teeth and reluctantly accepting the last 20 years of empirical data which already revealed their never-ending duplicitous intent. They widely floated rumors in 1986 and a few subsequent years, about many thousands that had died and been bulldozed into mass graves (this did not happen); circulated other rumors of numerous birth defects (which never arose but which - through radio-phobia - sparked about 100,000 unnecessary abortions throughout Europe); decided that Down's syndrome births in Berlin and other large cities were attributable to Chernobyl when it was obvious that they were not; blamed later radiation emissions on a later Chernobyl, when they were actually from large hospitals and their patients, in all major cities throughout the world; anticipated human and other genetic mutations related to the accident (which also did not occur); said that the forests and vegetation had been totally killed off and that the area would become a desert (wildlife now thrives there in superb health and diversity, as does the vegetation); and suggested that the region would be uninhabitable for thousands of years (some people never left, and are happier, more secure, and healthier for it). The rest could now return, except that politicians oppose it as it would kill most of the benefit programs, and the Greens oppose it as it would be a further nail in the coffin of their deceitful mendacity since 1986.

Having been shown to be repeatedly and magnificently wrong by undeniable history, they now fall back on the one tool that can never be denied by anyone: invent future deaths which no-one can yet disprove, by manipulating some very weak science. To do this, they ignore the major differences in effects between acute and chronic doses; misuse collective dose statistics, and extrapolate them out for many decades; they develop tables of data which show Relative Risk effects of less than 2 and suggest a significant health effect. Any scientist worth his qualifications knows that an RR of less than two or even three is unreliable and too shaky to place much credible reliance upon.

The currently accepted social risks per Sievert (Sv) of radiation dose, were derived from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings of more than 60 years ago - still the only reliable data to the present time. These were massive ACUTE doses delivered in a fraction of a second and in which living cells receive the full damage possible in the briefest time. All public doses following Chernobyl were CHRONIC doses, mostly delivered at an ever reducing rate from 1986 onward, and usually far less than those received in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Cellular repair mechanisms are continually at work to mitigate all the small radiation effects spread out over time, just as they do from natural radiation, and have done for all life for the last few hundred million years.

In Radiation Protection we assume that all radiation is harmful even down to zero dose (the Linear No Threshold (LNT) hypothesis), but this does not make it true; it is merely a convenient tool. Acute risks are assumed to apply to Chronic doses to make the radiation protection assumptions and process simple and uniform, but this over-estimates chronic radiation risks by a factor of up to about 10; ignores cellular repair mechanisms, and ignores a well defined beneficial process called hormesis, in which a small (still relatively large compared to natural background) amount of radiation is stimulating.

The assumption of the validity of the LNT, is directly comparable to the invalid and obviously flawed argument, that if 1 person dies after taking 200 aspirin (a fatal dose), that we would expect one death in a population of 200 individuals where each of them takes one aspirin (200-person aspirin collective dose) and also expect one death for every 200 aspirins, distributed over whatever size of population. THIS is the fatal flaw of the collective-dose assumptions. I think you would have difficulty persuading anyone rational, that if a million people each ingest a fraction of an aspirin tablet such that they reach a collective dose of 200 aspirin in the entire group, that one of them will die because of the defined toxicity of aspirin.

The total Collective Dose of about 600,000 person-sieverts from Chernobyl is made up of some few who received relatively massive but non-fatal chronic doses, and millions who received doses considerably less than natural background radiation. For perspective, this collective dose should be compared with the collective dose each and every year to the population of the entire world from nature of 120,000,000 person-sieverts, and which does not definably kill or injure anyone, though one can (dishonestly) calculate that it may do so (12 million deaths per year!).

As further perspective for those who seem to be impressed with large - but actually meaningless numbers - each of us is exposed to natural radiation in the following inescapable way and without definable injury:

From the Sky: About 100,000 cosmic ray neutrons and 400,000 secondary cosmic rays pass through us each hour; more if we live in high-rises, or at elevation, as in Colorado.
From the air we breathe: About 30,000 atoms of radon, polonium, bismuth and lead disintegrate each hour in the lung. In some high-radon areas it can be even thousands of times larger than this without definable injury, though the EPA disagrees.

From Diet: About 15,000,000 potassium-40 atoms per hour disintegrate within our bodies, and about 7,000 natural uranium atoms disintegrate each hour within us.

From soil and building materials: Over 200,000,000 gamma rays pass through us each hour.
In short, the TORCH report is unscientific. It does not see any difference between acute and chronic doses; it misuses population (collective) dose data - which is the entire basis of their argument; it lacks necessary perspective, especially on collective doses; and it misuses relative-risk data.

[It was also annoying to see that the authors went to the trouble to wrongly define a 'curie' as 3.7E9 Becquerels, when any reputable student of radiation knows that a curie is 3.7E10 Bq.]

John K. Sutherland. is a retired Health Physicist. He has worked with radiation for the last 40 years in university, industry and reactors. He conducted a radiation dosimetry program covering 600 nuclear workers and managed an environmental radiation monitoring program

2. Windmills just won't get it done: Energy crunch
By David Howell
International Herald Tribune, December 23, 2004

Western governments are proving astonishingly slow to face up to the four-pronged energy crisis that lies ahead and which could in due course engulf them:
· World consumption of fossil fuels is soaring when it should be falling.
· Dependence on supplies from politically unreliable and unstable regions is increasing when it was meant to be diminishing.
· Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are expanding worldwide when they should be shrinking.
· Investment in alternative energy sources is at best marginal, with the one really major source of clean energy, nuclear power, being held back in most countries by political pressures.

All these trends are heading the wrong way, and their effects may unfold on different (and maybe quite unexpected) time scales. World oil consumption is officially 80 million barrels a day, compared with 60 million in 1980. But the real figure could well be higher, some say as much as 84 million barrels a day. Without radical policy changes, world consumption will be 122 million barrels a day within two decades, the International Energy Agency says.

The second crisis springs from the first. By 2030, the IEA estimates, more than half the world's supplies will originate from shaky and troubled regions. But events will not wait until then. Two decades ago Margaret Thatcher was dismayed to learn that 14 percent of Western Europe's gas imports were from the Soviet Union. Today, 40 percent comes from those regions, and the upheavals in Ukraine, which is crossed by pipelines carrying much of this huge volume, give a whiff of what is to come. As for oil, consider the sources of what are supposed to be huge future supplies. Iraq sees its pipelines blown up almost every day. Iran may yet be the scene of another war. Saudi Arabia is under attack and wobbly, and unease runs through most of the other Gulf states. The Russian oil industry is in turmoil, and in other Central Asian producers and the various pipeline transit states, like Georgia and Ukraine, the political landscape is generally volcanic.

Nigeria has strikes and sabotage, Sudan is at war, Venezuela is politically unsettled and Algeria still has a bad dose of Islamic fanaticism. Libya may be on the path of virtue, but it is too early to be confident. The golden age of North Sea oil and gas is drawing to an end, and Britain will shortly become a net importer once again.

The prospects might be manageable if governments were all set firmly on the path to a cleaner and greener energy future. Europe has tried, with high taxes and the new system of carbon emissions ''trading'' - though even in Britain, carbon emissions rose last year, when they should have been falling, and the government now reluctantly concedes that its goals for emissions reductions are being missed.

But these noble efforts are dwarfed by opposite pressures elsewhere. China is building 60 new coal-fired stations a year. America is still relying on coal for over half its electric power while drinking more oil than ever, helped by gas-guzzling SUV's. Energy issues received hardly a mention in the recent elections. Acres of giant wind pylons, the current Great Green Hope, cannot conceivably fill the gap.

The one obvious alternative, nuclear power, remains largely stymied by politics. China may have bold longer-term plans for new plants. But elsewhere, nuclear programs have been in limbo for years. In Britain, a pioneer in civil nuclear power, the policy is to phase out nuclear capacity altogether, though the nuclear option is still claimed to be ''open.'' Yet the plain truth about the world's energy future is that the massive electric power that industry and 21st-century life need will have to come increasingly from nuclear energy if it is not to come from coal, oil and gas.

The experts know this, as do the technicians. But do the politicians dare to break the news to a still nervous public, or will they wait until the lights go out, industry seizes up and governments are bundled from office by angry and frightened voters? Advisers to President George W. Bush are said to be warning him that America needs a radically new energy policy. They are right. So do we all.
Lord Howell , a former British energy secretary and president of the British Institute of Energy Economists, is Conservative spokesman on foreign affairs in the House of Lords

3. Climate and socio-political culture 15 April
By Dr Alister McFarquhar in: Environment o

There are interesting developments in the climate warming war. Channel 4 news on 13 April reported a systematic Government suppression of renewables in favour of nuclear, with overt support just "a pretense." They certainly fooled me, with Wales wasted with windmills and Scotland exposed to pollution with pylons to transport windpower. And Sir David King now says a 3-degree temperature rise is "inevitable." As inevitable perhaps as his predisposition to utter alarmist statements unsupported by science or evidence, but sure of coverage by a gullible media?

Meanwhile UK media bias is more endemic than bird flu. In an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the National Post [copied to the Minister of the Environment, and the Minister of Natural Resources] sixty scientists call on Harper to revisit the science of global warming. I was happy to sign myself; there were few other Brits. Philip Stott complains justifiably

Except for the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mail, the silence in the UK has been deafening …… there has been nothing from the Guardian, from the Independent, nor, sadly, even from the Times, and certainly not from the BBC. Yet, there can be no excuses. For one, I personally alerted relevant correspondents at The Guardian, at The Times, and at the BBC about the story.

And, just imagine the headlines if 60 senior scientists had written to encourage the new Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to act at once on 'global warming' and to support vigorously the Kyoto Protocol. The story would have been everywhere.

Richard Lindzen in a trenchant critique on reported climate science says [12 April]

Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers.

He details the failure of formerly reputable science journals to publish papers which do not support the IPCC consensus. The loss of respect for science research will be hard to regain. The cost to society, misled into mistaken energy policy, will be crippling, as cheap energy is linked to economic growth.

But I doubt that a propensity to exaggerate alarm is driven solely by funds and fondness for fame. The scientists I meet in Cambridge are all verdant green and mostly impeccable. They are not driven by money or they would not be here.

There is a deeper and more dangerous mood in society, and society produces the science it deserves. Most of my colleagues have no faith in markets, hate big business, multilaterals, executive reward, privatization, international trade - the whole panoply of capitalism. I daresay the same applies to schoolteachers and most government employees. And not all Guardian and Independent readers are social workers. Many are intelligentsia, PC executives and grand bourgeois in the shires. Were scientists to turn pure overnight another peg would be found in Europe on which to hang hatred of America and capitalism.

4. Why Americans don't believe in Global Warming.
Online discussion: Apr 19, 2006

I generally agree with the analysis by [PBS-NOVA] producer David Sington. The theory of the Greenhouse effect is certainly beyond dispute but its application to the real atmosphere is complicated by the existence of a multitude of feedbacks -- both positive and negative. Many issues are still disputed, for example the effects of sun- modulated cosmic rays. My book "Hot Talk, Cold Science" (1997 and 1999) discusses the GH effects of contrails, a still-unsettled instance of a possible human influence on climate that does not involve carbon dioxide. Ultimately, however, climate models must be validated against actual and somewhat imprecise observations -- and here is where we find a real absence of any scientific consensus. Should we believe the theory or the atmosphere?

However, this scientific dispute cannot account for the striking difference in public opinion on Global Warming between Europeans and Americans. Let me add another point to those listed by David Sington. Europeans seem to feel more comfortable with "Big Government" and less averse to emission controls that go with belief in serious consequences from GW. Americans generally distrust government. I would be interested to hear comments on this issue.

Signed: SEPP

5. Climate Change Will Be Significant but Not Extreme, Study Predicts
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006; A08

Earth will experience significant climate change in the coming century as a result of greenhouse gas buildups, but the more extreme estimates of global warming generated by some studies are unlikely to occur, according to newly published research.
"This still commits us to quite a bit of climate change, but it leaves the door open to avoiding the largest and most devastating consequences," said Gabriele C. Hegerl, a Duke University climate expert who led the study.

The new work extends a difficult line of research that uses historical climate data and computer models to predict the impact of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which are increasing as a result of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels.
Specifically, the research aims to refine a value known as "climate sensitivity," which is defined as the global average temperature change that can be expected to occur in response to a doubling of carbon dioxide levels.

Climate scientists from around the world have for more than a decade concurred that climate sensitivity's most likely value is in the range of about 2.5 degrees to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. But because many factors can affect global temperatures in poorly understood ways -- including the extent to which the oceans have tempered climate trends -- scientists have not been able to rule out more extreme calculations suggesting a warm-up of 16 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Moreover, most of the modeling done to date has been based on data gathered over just the past century, a period that has experienced a potentially confounding increase in aerosols that can blunt temperature buildups by reflecting incoming radiation from the sun.

The new work, described in today's issue of the journal Nature, reaches back 700 years. It recalculates the relationship between atmospheric composition and climate, taking into account the climate-affecting impacts of sun-blocking volcanic eruptions; carbon dioxide levels derived from air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice; and temperature data derived from tree rings.

6. Climate Change: A Model Cock-Up
by Rob Lyons
Spiked Online, 20 April 2006

A climate model program downloaded by thousands of PC users had an internal error that meant it overstated how hot the world might get. Oops.

Researchers behind a much-hyped climate model downloaded by hundreds of thousands of home PC users have had to admit that many of their results are wrong because of errors in the program. And it's not just their software that's flawed.

The software, produced by Oxford University in conjunction with a consortium of research institutions, was launched with great fanfare in February by the BBC. Around 200,000 people downloaded the programme, which runs in the background on PCs, each one working on one of thousands of very slightly different scenarios about how the world's climate might change in the future.

However, after two months it's been discovered that there were errors in a data file which was supposed to take account of particles in the atmosphere that suppress rising temperatures. Consequently, the world was - virtually, at least - getting too hot, too quickly.

The project's principal investigator, Dr Myles Allen, found a silver lining to this climate-modelling cloud. 'What we've seen in the runs is the unadulterated impact of global warming which means that all of the models have warmed up too fast', he told BBC News. 'At some point in the future, we may have done an experiment like this anyway.'

The real problem is not an individual cock-up in one computer program, but the excessive reliance on models in the broader debate about global warming.

That is not to say models are completely without value. It is reasonable to put together our best guesses as regards future trends like gas emissions, population change, solar outputs and so on with what we know about climate physics to produce some broad estimates about what might happen next. But these are sophisticated guesstimates, no more. They allow us to think through what are the parameters of the discussion; they do not represent viable predictions of the future.

There are many good reasons why the models will be inadequate, not the least being the possibility of bias, conscious or unconscious, in the initial setup. For one thing, the data we have will always be incomplete. Satellite measurements are better than they were in the past, but they only go back to the late Seventies. Before that, weather records are based on stations that were unevenly spread, with relative high concentrations in developed countries and relatively few over the 70 per cent of the Earth covered by water.

The physics of individual climate elements is not fully understood, particularly in relation to clouds; we don't know how much cloud will be produced in a warming world and what the net effect of that cloud will be. In addition, new announcements from research teams are made regularly about factors that hadn't been fully appreciated before.

Also, models are, by their very nature, simplifications of the real world. Consider a non-climate example: the Millennium Bridge in London. This was a relatively simple system to model. But when the bridge opened in June 2000 it had to be quickly closed again because the effect of people actually walking on it caused the whole thing to 'wobble'. So even engineers with far less complex problems than world climate to solve can get things badly wrong.

Which brings us to the bottom line in climate modelling. How can we test that the models actually work? Attempts to see how the models replicate the known temperature from the past are problematic because we know, given the inadequate coverage and mixed standard of ground-based weather stations in previous decades, that this temperature record is incomplete and almost certainly inaccurate. We could wait a few decades to see how real temperatures pan out, but that rather defeats the object of the exercise, especially if you believe we'll all be parched or drowned in a century's time.

So, we should accept the conclusions of climate models critically, and look into how other sources of experience agree or disagree with them. But unfortunately, this is not what happens. Instead, for reasons quite unrelated to climate science, each new set of results and each new report is leapt upon by one side or the other as confirmation of their own position.

Take the recent comments by Britain's chief scientific adviser to the government, Sir David King. On BBC Radio 4's Today programme he said, 'If you ask me where do we feel the temperature is likely to end up if we move to a level of carbon dioxide roughly twice the pre-industrial level - and the level at which we would be optimistically hoping we could settle - the temperature rise could well be in excess of three degrees celsius.'

This immediately sparked fevered discussion about how many millions - or billions - of people would be effected. In fact, the effect of that rise in carbon dioxide in isolation from other factors would be about one degree celsius. Whether the temperature would rise more than this depends on feedback effects that are still not properly understood. Plucking one figure out from a report as if there were any certainty about it is unhelpful.

The discussion, driven by excessive enthusiasm for one particular form of research, is one-sided and perverse. It is one-sided because it very often ignores the fact that societies adapt to changing circumstances. If the world did see a significant rise in temperature overnight, it is quite likely that there would be dramatic and negative consequences for many people - although equally, warmer weather would benefit other areas, too. However, over the course of the next century it is perfectly possible to change how land is used, to build flood defences and create proper water supply infrastructure, especially if societies become wealthier in the meantime. So anything that holds back development would cause far more problems than it would solve.

And the discussion is perverse because it ignores very major problems in the here and now in favour of flagging up some potential medium-term apocalypse. These are not just technical or scientific problems, either. Why is it, in the twenty-first century, that so much of the world lives such a marginal existence that changing weather patterns could prove disastrous for them? That is a political problem that has slipped a long way down the agenda in popular debate.

Most perversely of all, the discussion of climate science has become a political clash between, in the main, environmentalists on one side and free marketeers on the other - while political debate about the best future direction of society is left in the hands of climate modellers.

7. Al Gore's upcoming movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", is full of scares and untruths

By Gretchen Randall, April 20, 2006

Issue: The movie "An Inconvenient Truth" is a "companion documentary" to Gore's book of the same name. According to pre-release information, Gore claims global warming is one of the "biggest issues facing future generations" and predicts one hundred million refugees from a twenty-foot rise in sea levels if glaciers continue to melt.

Movie trailers show frightening scenes of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, drought and dams breaking. Amid the scenes, Gore, who says he "used to be the next president", spews many false and inaccurate statements. Below, we've debunked a few of them.

Accusation #1: "If you look at the ten hottest years ever measured, they've all occurred in the last fourteen years and the hottest of all was 2005."

Response: According to Bob Carter, a geologist at James Cook University, Queensland, "the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, [show] that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase." Global warming believers use the statistics that the earth warmed between 1970 and 1998 but fail to mention that temperatures also rose between 1920 and the 1940s when industrial production was much lower than today.

Bob Carter, "Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming."

Accusation #2: "Scientific consensus is that we are causing global warming."

Response: Not true. Look at all the quotes from scientists on this page. However, it is becoming more difficult for scientists who disagree with the conventional position on global warming to dissent. Professor Richard Lindzen wrote, "Climate of Fear" ( in which he says that scientists who disagree with the alarmists predicting catastrophic global warming risk loss of grants and being discredited in the media. He says papers which question "accepted climate wisdom" are often refused at scientific journals such as Science and Nature as "being without interest."

Accusation #3: "Temperature increases are taking place all over the world and that's causing stronger storms."

Response: "All previous and current research in the area of hurricane variability has shown no reliable, long-term trend up in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones, either in the Atlantic or any other basin. Moreover, the evidence is quite strong and supported by the most recent credible studies that any impact in the future from global warming upon hurricane[s] will likely be quite small." Christopher Landsea, director of historical hurricane reanalysis at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), January, 2005.

Accusation #4: "The Arctic is experiencing faster melting. If this [pointing to part of Antarctica] should go, sea level worldwide would go up twenty feet."

Response: "While data seem to indicate that temperatures over much of the Arctic have increased over the past several decades (to levels last experienced in the 1930s), data from Antarctica suggests just the opposite. Not only have temperatures cooled a bit over Antarctica, but snow and ice accumulation is increasing. . . . . Most news stories about Antarctica don't report that the continent as a whole is not behaving like its northern counterpart. Instead, one hears reports on conditions along the Antarctic Peninsula a relatively small piece of the continent that juts northward toward South America. Antarctic Peninsula temperatures have been warming. . . . What is taking place on the Antarctic Peninsula comprises less than two percent of the total area of Antarctica. Conditions at the Peninsula no more reflect what is occurring over the entire continent than those in Florida reflect what is happening all across North America." Richard Lindzen, professor of climatology at MIT. (

Links: To check your carbon footprint or read more about the movie: <>
Link to a synopsis of the movie and a trailer:
For Apple users, the trailer is at:

Conveniently Missing the Truth - Al Gore's Green Battiness.
National Review ^ | 4/21/06 |
By Jonah Goldberg

Meet Al Gore, scaremonger. In 2004, Gore denounced President Bush for "playing on our fears." Today, he is at the forefront of a "green scare" about global warming intended to terrify Americans into submitting to his environmental policies.

Consider the trailer for An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim's documentary about Gore's green crusade. It promises to be the most adept piece of scaremongering ever captured on film, making The Texas Chainsaw Massacre seem like Toy Story 2. The movie's poster shows penguins walking across a desert. The trailer says, "If you love your planet ... if you love your children ... you have to see this movie." In case you're thick in the head, the producers spell it out for you: "By far, the most terrifying film you will ever see!" And: "You will soil your pants!" (O.K., I made that last one up).

Of course, Gore is not alone. A host of new environmental scare books are out or on the way. Last month, Time magazine's cover warned, "Be Worried. Be Very Worried." Those renowned climatologists who make up Vanity Fair's editorial board have unveiled a "green issue" that informs us that "green is the new black" and that global warming is a "threat graver than terrorism." It says so right there on the cover, above Julia Roberts's hip. And she's dressed like a forest nymph, so it's got to be true.

Now, it's true that Earth has gotten warmer one degree since the 19th century and it will probably get warmer still. And it's probably true that human activity plays a significant part in all that. But it's also true that we don't have a clear picture of what's happening now, never mind what will happen. Just ask the 60 climatologists from around the world who wrote Canada's prime minister that "observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future." But that's all beside the point to Gore & Co., who say the time for debate is over. And if you disagree, get ready for the witch-hunt. Major news media have gone after scientists who argue there's still time to study global warming rather than plunge into some half-baked environmental jihad that could waste possibly trillions of dollars.

As Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at MIT, recently lamented in the Wall Street Journal: "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."

In Vanity Fair, writer Mark Hertsgaard alleges that Frederick Seitz, the former president of the National Academy of Sciences and the former president of the prestigious Rockefeller University, was a shill for, of all things, the tobacco industry. A press release by the National Environmental Trust proclaims "Scientist Who Spearheaded Attacks on Global Warming Also Directed $45M Tobacco Industry Effort to Hide Health Impacts of Smoking." Seitz, a giant in American science, says this is all "ridiculous, completely wrong." Now 94, Seitz explains that R. J. Reynolds had given Rockefeller University $5 million a year for basic research. Seitz says he directed the money toward non-tobacco-related efforts in the study of prions (the virus-like proteins that cause mad cow disease), tuberculosis and other diseases. Prion researcher Stanley Prusiner thanked both R. J. Reynolds and Seitz in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

But Gore & Co. aren't troubled by such details because the smears are all for a good cause. That's why Gore saw nothing wrong in bullying dissident climate change scientists when he was a senator or waging a mean-spirited campaign to discredit the work of his old mentor, Harvard oceanographer Roger Revelle, because Revelle thought alarmism was unwarranted.

Hence the irony of the title An Inconvenient Truth. It is the green scare that has no patience for inconvenient truths. For example, Gore blames the disappearing snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro on global warming, but a study in Nature magazine identified the clear-cutting of surrounding moisture-rich forests as the culprit. In the famously fact-checked New Yorker, editor David Remnick pens a love letter to Gore in which he laments that Earth will "likely be an uninhabitable planet" if we don't heed Gore's jeremiads. Oh ... come ... on!

This is just a small taste of the millenarian battiness running through the green scare. Sure, a one- or two-degree-per-century rise in average global temperatures may have unpleasant consequences with some pleasant ones as well, but in what study did The New Yorker's fact-checkers verify that Earth will become uninhabitable? Moreover, the Greens' proposed solutions to global warming are even more otherworldly. Reducing global carbon-dioxide emissions to 60 percent of 1990 levels before 2050, while China, India, and (hopefully) Africa modernize, is inconceivable, ill-conceived, and also immoral because it would consign generations to poverty.

But none of that seems to matter to the Greens. To them, the only thing we have to fear is the lack of fear itself.

A little warming, a lot of hysteria
Commentary by Wes Pruden
April 11, 2006

Al Gore has been looking for work for five years now, and he's still steamed about the warm weather. Somebody has even made a movie about it, though it won't necessarily be opening soon at a theater anywhere near you.

The movie is an "indie," short for movies made independently of one of the big studios. Indies usually show up on cable at 3 in the morning. The movie about Al is called "An Inconvenient Truth," and The Washington Post describes it as "a movie about global warming. Starring Al Gore. Doing a slide show. About 'soil evaporation.'" Which gives you an idea.

Al has been a true believer since before anyone else believed. Al came to lunch with us at The Washington Times years ago, even before Bill Clinton picked him as a running mate, to tell us that even if some of his facts were cooked, his cause was so noble that we ought to help him peddle the cooked stuff, fibs, stretchers, tall tales and all. (We passed, of course.)

The debate was supposed to be over by now, but it's not. Nearly everyone agrees that some of the planet's colder neighborhoods are a little warmer than they used to be, and Al thinks the devil made us do it. Al and proponents of global warming argue that whatever bad happens, happens because of the greed of man, and mostly Americans at that. Icebergs floating too far south? Man did it. Torrential rains in Monument Valley? Blame it on global warming. A drought in Tacoma-Seattle? Fog in Phoenix? Man set fire to the globe. Keep it scary, and keep it coming.

Al has been going coast to coast (always in coach class, with his lunch in a paper sack), collecting wild applause from other true believers, and just when he imagines he can take a day off from his Oldest Established Permanent Floating Clap Game, a reputable skeptic comes along with actual inconvenient truths.

"Since the early 1990s," writes Prof. Robert Carter, a professor of geology at Cook University in Australia, "the columns of many leading newspapers and magazines, worldwide, have carried an increasing stream of alarmist letters and articles on hypothetical, human-caused climate change. Each alarmist article is larded with words such as 'if,' 'might,' 'could,' 'probably,' 'perhaps,' 'expected,' 'projected' or 'modeled' -- and many involve such deep dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts and principles, that they are akin to nonsense."

The professor, writing in the London Daily Telegraph, does not dispute the evidence that we're in an era of rising temperatures. Who does? But he suggests that man exhibits considerable hubris -- insolence, even -- if he imagines that he's responsible. Consider the official temperature records, kept at the University of East Anglia in England: Between 1998 and 2005, global average temperatures actually went down.

This seven-year period, he observes, nevertheless coincides with a period in which man was pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as if there were no tomorrow, which is, of course, exactly what Al and his fellow hysterics keep telling us. Of course, this is only a tiny blip of time. But Al and his pals argue triumphantly that the 28 years between 1970 and 1998, another tiny blip, were decades of deadly manmade warming. Then what should we make of the warming trend between 1918 and 1940, well before the years of greatest carbon dioxide making? How to explain the period between 1940 and 1975, years of pell-mell worldwide industrialization, when the earth recorded not warming, but cooling temperatures?

Not so long ago, the media fad was all about the coming ice age. Newsweek reported in 1975 that the earth was cooling and the effects on food production would be catastrophic. Farmers in Northern Europe could expect the growing season to shrink by two weeks by the end of the century. That didn't happen.

Well, nobody's perfect. But our scientists were aware of their modest gifts then. "Our knowledge of the mechanisms of climatic change is at least as fragmentary as our data," the National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1975. "Not only are the basic scientific questions largely unanswered, but in many cases we do not yet know enough to pose the key questions." They should ask Al to explain this. He could take them to the movies.
Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The WashingtonTimes.

8. We Can't Allow Gore To Lose This Campaig
By Richard Cohen,
Investors Business Daily,Apr 19, 2006; Section:Issues & Insights;

Boring Al Gore has made a movie. It is on the most boring of all subjects - global warming. It is more than 80 minutes long, and the first two or three go by slow enough so that you can notice that Gore has gained weight and that his speech still seems oddly out of sync. But a moment later, I promise, you will be captivated, and then riveted, and then scared out of your wits.

Our Earth is going to hell in a hand basket. You will see the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps melting. You will see Greenland oozing into the sea. You will see the atmosphere polluted with greenhouse gases that block heat from escaping. You will see photos from space of what the ice caps looked like once and what they look like now and, in animation, you will see how high the oceans might rise. Shanghai and Calcutta swamped. Much of Florida, too. The water takes a hunk of New York. The fuss about what to do with Ground Zero will turn naught. It will be under water.

"An Inconvenient Truth" is a cinematic version of the lecture that Gore has given for years warning of the dangers of global warming. Davis Guggenheim, the director, opened it up a bit. For instance, he added some shots of Gore mulling the fate of the Earth as he is driven here or there in some city, sometimes talking about personal matters such as the death of his beloved older sister from lung cancer and the close call his son had after being hit by a car. These are all traumas that Gore had mentioned in his presidential campaign and which seemed cloying at the time. Here they seem appropriate.

The case Gore makes is worthy of sleepless nights: Our Earth is in extremis. It's not just that polar bears are drowning because they cannot reach receding ice flows or that "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" will exist someday only as a Hemingway short story - we can all live with that. It's rather that Katrina is not past, but prologue. n the future, people will not yearn for the winters of yesteryear, but for the summers instead. Katrina produced several hundred thousand evacuees. The flooding of Calcutta would produce many millions. We are in for an awful time.

You cannot see this film and not think of George W. Bush, the man who beat Gore in 2000. The contrast is stark. Gore - more at ease in the lecture hall than he ever was on the stump - summons science to tell a harrowing story and offers science as the antidote. No feat of imagination could have Bush do something similar - even the sentences are beyond him. But it is the thought that matters - the application of intellect to an intellectual problem.

Bush has been studiously anti-science, a man of applied ignorance, who has undernourished his mind with the empty calories of comfy dogma. For instance, his insistence on abstinence as the preferred method of birth control would be laughable were it not so reckless. It is similar to Bush's initial approach to global warming and his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol - ideology trumping science.

It may be that Gore will do more good for his country and the world with this movie than Bush ever did by beating him in 2000. Gore insists his presidential aspirations are behind him. "I think there are other ways to serve," he told me. No doubt. But on paper, he is the near-perfect Democratic candidate for 2008. Among other things, he won the popular vote in 2000. He opposed going to war in Iraq, but he supported the previous Gulf War - right both times. He is smart, experienced and, despite the false caricatures, a man versed in the new technologies - especially the Internet. He is much more a person of the 21st century than most of the other potential candidates. Trouble is, a campaign is not a film.

Gore could be a great president. First, though, he has to be a good candidate. In the meantime, he is a man on a mission. Wherever he goes - and he travels incessantly - he finds time and an audience to deliver his (free) lecture on global warming. It and the film leave no doubt of the peril we face and neither do they leave any doubt that Gore, at last, is a man at home in his role. He is master teacher, pedagogue, know-it-all, smarter than most of us, better informed and, having tried for and failed to gain the presidency, has raised his sights to save the world. We simply cannot afford for Al Gore to lose again.

Response: Ltr to IBD
By S. Fred Singer

I read Richard Cohen's panegyric on Al Gore ("We Can't Allow Gore To Lose This Campaign" IBD, April 19) with great amusement. All I can say is that Hillary has a real problem -- and I am glad it's hers and not mine. Gore presented his slide show to a group of conservative Republicans in Washington DC recently. He was just superb. In the discussion, I congratulated him on the technical brilliance of his presentation and told him it was absolutely convincing -- "to anyone who didn't know the science."
I don't think he liked that.

9. Environmentalism is dead; long live the environment!
The Harvard Crimson, 20 April 2006

This pronouncement might seem a touch premature, especially to the 500 million people who will celebrate the 37th Earth Day this weekend--a collective "not dead yet" wheeze. However, these numbers mask the growing irrelevance of the environmentalist movement. Having lost its credibility with alarmist rhetoric and obsolete ideological ballast, the movement must develop a moderate discourse while challenging its previous assumptions and outdated theories.

The contemporary environmentalist movement faces a stark choice: change tactics or fade into irrelevance. Over the past decade, environmentalists have achieved few political victories and utterly failed to influence the general public. As indicated by a recent MIT study, the public knows little about environmental problems, and cares less. Out of 21 national and international issues, Americans ranked environmental problems 13th, well below terrorism, taxes, crime, and drugs.

Alarmism - the environmental movement's basic strategy - has led to this dead end. Since Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" the movement has been dominated by doomsday scenarios. Even on the first Earth Day in 1970, biologist George Wald predicted that "civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken" -- while the New York Times warned that "man must stop pollution and conserve his save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction." Fortunately, such apocalyptic forecasts have repeatedly proven to be wrong.

Take biologist Paul Ehrlich's popular Malthusian broadside, "The Population Bomb." Farsighted Ehrlich predicted that a "population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make," causing worldwide famine and the death of "hundreds of millions of people" annually from starvation. Oops: -in the subsequent 35 years, increased agricultural productivity exceeded population growth and the total amount of cultivated land barely increased.

Ehrlich is hardly alone; the environmental movement has spawned a remarkable number of would-be Cassandras. Between 1970 and 2006, global cooling predictions mysteriously morphed into global warming fears. Concerns about rampant Dodo-ism proved baseless: the rate of animal extinction in the U.S. has been declining since the 1930s, and only seven species have gone extinct since 1973. And rather than running out of resources, the world has experienced a commodity glut, with the prices of most metals and minerals dropping by 30 to 50 percent. The litany of failed apocalypses goes on.

Not that this history of crying wolf has chastened contemporary environmentalists. Activists and researchers still issue dire warnings with mind-numbing regularity. Just three weeks ago, a panic-stricken Time magazine story on global warming shouted, "Be Worried, Be Very Worried." Harping on worst-case scenarios like a 220-foot rise in the ocean's water level, the article more closely resembled "The Day After Tomorrow" than a serious report.

Although such scare mongering persists, it has reached the point of diminishing returns. Knowing the movement's track record of false alarms, the American public dismiss dire environmental warnings out of hand. Moreover, these alarming reports attract a disproportionate amount of media attention, discrediting the environmentalist movement twice over: First when the sensational predictions drown out more plausible reports, then again when the highly-publicized disaster fails to occur.

Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. environment is getting healthier. The U.S. population has more than doubled since 1970, yet forest coverage has increased. Measurements of major air pollutants -- sulfur, suspended particulates, and carbon monoxide -- have registered declines of 15 to 75 percent. Likewise, the number of healthy rivers and lakes has roughly doubled since the first Earth Day, and Lake Erie, declared "dead" in the 1970s, now supports a healthy fishing industry. There are exceptions to this positive trend, but the overall direction is unmistakable: The U.S. natural environment is improving.

Of course, environmentalists claim credit for this trend. Alarmists can't lose: either doomsday comes true, or their warnings averted disaster. Certainly, part of the positive trend is due to activism and government regulations, but much of the change is a result of increased technological efficiency as well as longstanding trends that predate the rise of environmentalism.

Although the impact of the movement's past achievements is uncertain, its future success clearly depends on a fundamental re-evaluation of long-unquestioned theories and policies. Doomsday warnings no longer shock the public into action; instead, environmentalists need to develop moderate arguments that don't depend on the 'stick' of calamity. This means abandoning Soviet-style "command-and-control" regulation, epitomized by the Kyoto Treaty, and exploring ideas, like the use of DDT, that are currently considered heretical.

Thus, on the 37th anniversary of Earth Day, the environmental movement is looking increasingly long in the tooth. Alarmist environmentalists have overshadowed moderate, careful researchers, and undermined the credibility of the entire movement. Until environmentalists cease depending on nightmare scenarios, they will fail to influence the public at large. Let the next generation of environmentalists begin to reestablish the movement's credibility by exploring currently heretical ideas and producing moderate, nuanced reports, even if they do not make for good press.
Piotr C. Brzezinski '07, an editorial associate chair, is a social studies concentrator in Winthrop House. He is a member of the Resource Efficiency Program.
Copyright 2006, The Harvard Crimson



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