The Week That Was
December 30 , 2006


(See ITEM #1).  The real threat from GW fears is that they badly distort our energy policy. 
We have reached a milestone; as you read in past TWTWs, patterns of warming disagree with the results of GH models.  Nobody has challenged this fact, documented in the federal CCSP report.  But this means that the human contribution is only minor -- and most of current warming must be of natural origin -- likely part of the 1500-year cycle described in our book “Unstoppable Global Warming –Every 1500 Years.”  Now we assert that any short-term warming – whether natural or manmade – has little influence on sea-level rise – which will continue at 18cm (7 inches) per century, as it has been doing for several millennia.  The explanation is given in my book “Hot Talk-Cold Science” (Independent Institute, 1997) on pp. 18-19.  The IPCC is gradually coming around to this number – but not Stefan Rahmstorf and Jim Hansen, who give values as much as 8 to 30 times greater (see ITEM #2).  We will soon find out; Hansen’s numbers come to 10 cm rise in 5 years.

Lord Monckton, leading GW debunker, discusses problems with temperature trends, the IPCC, and the claimed “scientific consensus.”  (ITEM #3).  He also reminds us of Jim Hansen’s failed predictions back in 1988 when the GW furor started.  Crichton was right and Hansen was wrong (ITEM #4).

We also print some painful admissions by Hansen and by IPCC chairman Pachauri about the quality of climate science in the IPCC report (ITEM #5).  Even solid GW supporters must now admit that IPCC numbers are off base (ITEM #6).  Economists too have doubts about GW impacts, as shown in a recent poll (ITEM#7).  Polar bears have not been polled, but latest reports say they are doing just fine in a warmer climate (ITEM #8); their ancestors have seen many such warm periods and survived nicely.  [But the US Fish and Wildlife Service thrives on budgets devoted to threatened and endangered species.

The UK and US have different takes on whether and how to control CO2 emissions (ITEMS 9-11).

I don't know if you have been following the ongoing debate in the AGU blog
It started with a Forum article in Eos that attacked the AAPG for giving an award to Michael Crichton.   I responded in print, and so did Kevin Corbett (apparently a geologist).   He has now sent in the following comment, which states some importnt truths about climate models and climate science generally, worth pondering (ITEM #12).

The BBC reports that microbiologist Howard Dalton has been knighted.  He is chief scientist of Defra, the agency that advises the UK govt, and Sir Nicholas Stern, about GW science.  Yes, it pays to be politically correct; look what awful fate awaits the “deniers” (ITEM #13)

And last , but not least:  Lubos Motl’s review of  2006  (DON’T MISS IT)

Finally, an educated penguin; he will write yr name in the snow.  Amaze the kiddies    


IASTED Lecture, Clearwater, FL, Jan 5, 2007
S. Fred Singer
Science & Environmental Policy Project

Energy, generated mostly from fossil fuels and nuclear fission, is the lifeblood of economic growth and of rising global prosperity. Yet there are several “fears” driving energy policy, which impose unnecessary costs on consumers, lower the standards of living, and threaten the economies of the poorest nations.

1. Fear of health consequences of air pollution: This problem has been largely overcome by technology – even for coal-burning power plants. Several methods are available and compete on cost: Gasification of coal in combined-cycle burning (IGCC) and various methods of flue-gas scrubbing with lime or with bromine. Meanwhile, unregulated indoor air pollution is becoming increasingly important.

2. Fear of climate change: While carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that should cause global warming, the available observational evidence shows the effect to be insignificant. Yet many nations have been persuaded to use high-cost natural gas (methane) or even costlier “renewable” energy (wind, etc). In particular, the Kyoto Protocol would effectively ration energy. Meanwhile, economic studies indicate that higher CO2 levels and modest warming are beneficial and would raise GDP.

3. Fear of oil embargoes: With a well-functioning world market there should be little concern about oil supply security. It is in the interest of producers to keep the price from rising too high. But increasing prices are inevitable; as low-cost oil supplies are gradually depleted, they will induce more conservation and substitutions for petroleum.

4. Fear of health consequences of nuclear radiation: Politically driven fears, not scientific data, support the “linear-no-threshold” (LNT) hypothesis. In reality, natural radioactivity and small exposures to manmade radiation may actually improve the functioning of the immune system (“Hormesis”). Abandoning LNT-based regulation would lower the cost of nuclear energy generation and the disposal of spent reactor fuel.

Overcoming these fears through public education involves fighting entrenched bureaucracies and other interests – and may take time.


Letter to FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)/ SFS/12/28/2006

Re: Your editorial: Die Welt soll in Fluten versinken

Rahmstorf estimates future sea-level (SL) rise using a simple ratio of the rise in SL and in global temperature during the 20th century.  His method is not only simplistic but also wrong.  I would describe it using the word Quatsch, the same word used by a noted German climate scientist in commenting on the now-discredited Hockeystick.  Or as my former physics teacher Nobelist Wolfgang Pauli would have said:  "That theory is worthless.  It isn't even wrong!"

Rahmstorf shows a graph of a steadily increasing SL during the 20th century – even during the interval 1940 –1975 when global temperatures were falling.  Closer examination of his SL graph shows the rate of rise speeding up slightly during this cooling interval but diminishing somewhat during the intense warming period of 1920-1940.  The likely explanation of this counter-intuitive result is given in my book Hot Talk Cold Science (1997) on pages 18-19.  My discussion leads to the conclusion that anthropogenic global warming will have little if any effect on the ongoing SL rise of about 18 cm per century.  Rahmstorf’s values of 50 to 140 cm are 3 to 8 times greater and exceed even the estimates of the forthcoming IPCC report (2007) of 14 to 43 cm/century.  But they do not reach up to the value of 600 cm by year 2100, published by James Hansen.  I suppose this makes Rahmstorf and Hansen  “climate contrarians.”
S Fred Singer, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, USA

Dec 26, 2006

Dear Fred, - Many thanks for sending me this exchange. Some comments:
Temperature: This question, like so many others to do with supposed "climate change", is bedevilled by the recency of reliable, instrument-based observations. Nevertheless, some conclusions can be attempted. The Dalton Minimum is generally considered to have come to an end in 1910. The five-year mean global land and sea surface air temperature anomaly for 1908-1912, calculated from NCDC annual figures, was    -0.36K. By 1940 there had been a rapid increase of 0.47K to +0.11K. By 2004 (again taking the five-year average, including 2006) there had been a further increase of +0.44K to +0.55. The mean annual increase in the 30 years 1910-1940 was thus 0.016K -- more than twice the 0.007K mean annual increase in the 64 years to 2004. Mean global temperature has hardly risen at all in the five years since the IPCC's last report. And the fact of the 20th-century temperature increase tells us nothing of the cause. It is interesting, for instance, that the polar icecaps on Mars are receding, inferentially in response to increased solar activity. At any rate, it is certain that anthropogenic planetary warming is not responsible. It is possible, therefore, that most of the warming both before and after 1940 was heliogenic.
Sea level: Your correspondent does not disagree with my statement that the IPCC has revised its upper-bound estimate of sea level rise to 17 inches (43cm). He says, however, that this upper bound is based on the A1 scenario, by which world population will peak in mid-century at ~9bn and fall thereafter. So was the 2001 report's upper bound of 88cm. I was correctly comparing like for like. The Sunday Telegraph, which reported these figures, has been told that the revisions arise from "better data" now available to the IPCC, supporting skeptics' conclusions that the IPCC's figures are little better than exaggerated guesses. Morner (2004) concludes firmly that there is little evidence for sea level rising any faster now than it has in geologically-recent times. Your correspondent says that the A2 scenario is "business-as-usual"; in fact, it is an extreme scenario regarded by very nearly all serious demographers as absurdly unrealistic, in that it posits an increase in world population to 15bn by 2100, when it is now almost certain that rising prosperity and the consequent decrease in birth rates will cause population to peak somewhere between 9bn and 10bn in mid-century, and plummet thereafter.
Reliability of the IPCC's reports: I understand that the IPCC's 2007 draft does not contain an apology for the defective "hockey-stick" graph, which the US National Academy of Sciences has described as having "a validation skill not significantly different from zero". In plain English, this means the graph was rubbish. It is difficult to have confidence in a body that, after its principal conclusion is demonstrated in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature and in numerous independent reports as having been useless, fails to make the appropriate withdrawal and apology. Worse, the UN continues to use the defective graph. This failure of basic academic honesty on the IPCC's part was the main reason why I began my investigation of the supposed climate-change "consensus".

The supposed scientific "consensus": Your correspondent seems unaware of the letter written by 61 Canadian and other scientists in climate and related fields to the Canadian Prime Minister. At the end of the attached commentary on Al Gore's recent attempt to rebut my articles on climate change in the Sunday Telegraph, beneath the references, I have appended the full text of the letter and the names, qualifications and then-current affiliations of all 61 scientists. Al Gore and others tend to lean rather more heavily than is wise upon a single, rather bad one-page essay in Science for their contention that there is a scientific consensus to the effect that most of the warming in the past half-century was anthropogenic. The essay was by Oreskes (2004), who said that she had analyzed 928 abstracts mentioning "climate change," published in peer-reviewed journals on the Thomson ISI database between 1993 and 2003, and that none of the 928 had expressed dissent from the "consensus". Dr. Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University subsequently made a more careful enquiry. Science had been compelled to publish an erratum to the effect that the search term used by Oreskes had not been the neutral "climate change" - which returned some 12,000 articles, but the more loaded "global climate change", which returned 1,117 articles. Of these, Dr. Peiser found that only 1% had explicitly endorsed the "consensus" as defined by Oreskes; that almost three times as many had explicitly expressed doubt or outright disagreement; and that less than one-third had expressed explicit or implicit agreement with the "consensus". He wrote a paper for Science pointing out these serious defects, which pointed to a conclusion diametrically opposite to that of Oreskes. Science at first asked him to shorten his paper, and then said that, because conclusions like his had been widely reported on the Internet, his paper would not be published. As far as I can discover, Science has not published any corrigendum to this day, providing further confirmation of what I have long suspected: that the leading peer-reviewed journals, having unwisely taken strongly-political editorial positions on the question of climate change, are no longer objective.
The need for honest science: It was only after years of increasingly-public pressure that Nature was induced to oblige Mann et al., the authors of the useless "hockey-stick" graph that starred in the IPCC's 2001 report, to publish a mealy-mouthed, partial and unsatisfactory corrigendum. In such an environment of flagrant dishonesty in which the UN and the scientific journals persist long after the falsity of their absurd and extreme claims has been properly demonstrated, it is in my view unreasonable to expect China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and other fast-polluting countries to deny to themselves the fossil-fuelled economic growth which we in the West have been fortunate enough to enjoy. Until there is honest science, no one will believe either the UN or the journals to the extent of adopting the expensive and (on my calculations) probably futile remedial measures, which they and their supporters so stridently advocate. – Christopher

(Lord Monckton of Brenchley)


  Compiled by Christopher Monckton
Figure 1: Plot of annual mean global temperature change

In the hot summer of 1988, James Hansen, a climatologist who is now director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, presented the above graph of temperature projections to the US Congress when giving testimony on the then-expected effect of carbon-dioxide emissions on temperatures worldwide. The upper, solid black line was Hansen’s worst-case scenario: the dashed line was what he considered the most likely outturn; the dotted line was his estimate of the outturn if emissions of carbon dioxide had been stabilized from 1988 onward. The red line showed the record of observed global temperatures to 1988.

Hansen was widely criticized for having exaggerated his “scenario A” projection. He later responded to the criticism by updating the graph of observed temperatures to take it as far as the El Nino year of 1998. The extension to 2006 (orange on the updated graph below) is calculated from the US National Climate Data Center’s annual mean global land and sea surface air temperature anomalies, adjusted to take 1998 as the base year.

Hansen is reported as having said that his likely-outturn graph (the blue dashed line on the graph below) has proven broadly accurate. However, from 1988 to 2005 the likely-outturn graph closely follows the stabilized-CO2 graph. In 2005, the likely-outturn and stabilized-CO2 graphs are puzzlingly shown as near-coincident. However, atmospheric CO2 has not been stabilized: instead, it has continued to rise monotonically.

Observed temperatures are now diverging very considerably below the worst-case scenario. The 2006 observed temperature is appreciably below even the CO2 stabilization graph. It is becoming steadily more evident that there is little cause for the alarm generated by the original graph.



Above: The graph presented to the US Senate by Hansen in 1988, redrawn for clarity and updated (in orange) to 2006. Michael Crichton, in his best-selling novel “State of Fear”, said that Hansen had forecast a rise of 0.35% in temperature to 2000, but that observed temperature had risen by only one-third of that amount.
Below: Annual global mean land and sea surface air temperature anomalies between 1900 and 2005, issued by the USNationalClimateDataCenter. The two highlighted values are for 1988, when Hansen gave his testimony, and 2000. The difference between the two values, i.e. the actual increase in temperature between 1988 and 2000, is less than 0.06C. Hansen’s three scenarios, presented to Congress during the very hot summer of 1988, projected global mean temperature increases of 0.3C, 0.22C and 0.45C respectively in the 12 years to 2000: an average of 0.32C, or at least five times the actual outturn. Even his central case is at least three times the outturn, justifying Michael Crichton’s conclusion.

Year         0       1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8       9
1880   -0.1461 -0.0892 -0.1186 -0.1605 -0.2058 -0.1713 -0.1460 -0.2150 -0.1415 -0.1005
1890   -0.2460 -0.1996 -0.2635 -0.2876 -0.2482 -0.1746 -0.0577 -0.0921 -0.1998 -0.0969
1900   -0.0277 -0.0979 -0.1740 -0.2934 -0.3290 -0.2163 -0.1806 -0.3471 -0.3765 -0.3808
1910   -0.3667 -0.3626 -0.3027 -0.2857 -0.1129 -0.0553 -0.2707 -0.3267 -0.2111 -0.2068
1920   -0.1678 -0.1225 -0.2126 -0.1892 -0.1841 -0.1136 -0.0195 -0.0974 -0.0952 -0.2218
1930   -0.0235 -0.0019 -0.0251 -0.1582 -0.0230 -0.0489 -0.0170  0.0838  0.0994  0.0761
1940    0.1187  0.1404  0.1259  0.1180  0.2143  0.0687 -0.0261 -0.0274 -0.0401 -0.0668
1950   -0.1542 -0.0115  0.0347  0.1106 -0.1084 -0.1292 -0.1842  0.0601  0.0930  0.0526
1960   -0.0019  0.0738  0.0785  0.1315 -0.1387 -0.0641 -0.0190 -0.0049 -0.0306  0.0772
1970    0.0488 -0.0569  0.0280  0.1416 -0.0831 -0.0297 -0.1182  0.1249  0.0581  0.1363
1980    0.2021  0.2393  0.1202  0.2392  0.0883  0.0599  0.1289  0.2576  0.3047  0.1942
1990    0.3641  0.3206  0.1831  0.2009  0.2759  0.3889  0.2563  0.4605  0.5769  0.3938
2000    0.3625  0.4906  0.5445  0.5565  0.5328  0.6105  0.5225



From the WebEx recording of the California Climate Change Conference held From Sept 13-15, 2006 at Sacramento, CA. The recordings are at:

From the Q and A of James Hansen's speech approximately 2:17:10 from the start of the September 13 recording:
Question from the audience: "Is there any good explanation for the cooling that took place between 1940 and 1970 other than: we don't know - natural variation?"
Reply from James Hansen: "That's the question that everybody asks. You know the amount of that cooling is pretty small. If you remember my second graph its only a tenth of a degree Celsius or so. Probably I think its likely to be at least, in part, related to the competition between aerosol cooling and greenhouse gas warming and we just don't know the time dependence of the aerosol cooling effect very well. But there's also the fact that that warming was concentrated particularly in the arctic region and seems to have been related to warm water going into the arctic and melting a lot of the sea ice, and when you have less sea ice, you know, there's a positive feedback and there also was a very long 2-year long El Nino that contributed right at the peak of that. It may have been a combination of different things. And, so the answer is, well, no we don't have a convincing single explanation for that. But, it’s probably some combination of forcings and unforced variability."

From the Q and A of Rajendra K Pachauri Chairman of the IPCC. Approximately 49:42 into the September 15th keynote speech recording:

Question from the audience: "In your 2001 report there was a very famous graph, the so called hockeystick graph which was attacked by critics and the science behind that graph was pretty much demolished. I think it really damaged the credibility of the IPCC, because it appears that you published that for political reasons to try to support the idea that this is the hottest decade in the last thousand years. What do you have to say about that?"
Reply from Rajendra K. Pachauri: "I don't think there was anything conceptually wrong with that diagram. There were a few issues of detail and you may have followed the literature that's come out recently on this subject, which doesn't in any way demolish the basic structure of that diagram. I mean we can certainly discuss that. There was obviously an error in that. There's no denying that. But, I don't think it gets away from the basic concept and the basic conclusions of that particular shape that we came up with. Now, in the fourth assessment report [due Feb. 2007], we've of course got additional data for recent years and that looks pretty serious -- and if I may say so, without revealing anything that's quantitative, in nature -- there's obviously an acceleration of warming based purely on observed data - and I'm not saying that - well let me add that some of the model projections also for the last 15 or 16 years are pretty much on track as far as the actual warming that's taken place. But this is an issue that, you know, I'd be happy to discuss with you. There's been a fair amount of writing on this hockey stick diagram in recent literature. I'm not too sure that one can say that the credibility of the IPCC has been damaged. Yes, I mean there have been other mistakes too. I suppose in a body of this nature there will be a few errors that creep in once in a while, but I don't think it was the result of any deliberate mal-intent on anybody's part. I think these are pretty credible scientists and I wouldn't ascribe any ulterior motives to what they've done."



The growth of methane levels in the atmosphere has slowed over the past several decades, and the past 7 years have seen only tiny fluctuations of the powerful greenhouse gas in the troposphere. That downturn could affect global warming trends, scientists say in the November 23 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

Sherwood Rowland et al, atmospheric chemists from the University of California, Irvine, found that methane concentrations corresponded to shifts in ethane, produced in large-scale fires. They found that global methane levels barely increased from December 1998 to December 2005 and that the fluctuations matched biomass burning related to the El Nino-Southern Oscillation.

Although it may be temporary, the current stabilization of methane -- more than 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2 -- could provide some reprieve from current global warming trends. The new data make projected methane increases in 10 scenarios from the most recent report of the IPCC seem quite unlikely, the team writes.



By Robert Whaples : TCS, 18 Dec 2006

What long-term impact is global climate change likely to have on the economy?

To answer this question (and a slew of others), I polled Ph.D. economists, randomly selected from the ranks of the American Economic Association.  Like almost everyone else, economists must, essentially, take on faith predictions and calculations by scientists about the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment.  They realize that such predictions are based on complicated models and tentative scenarios, informed by self-interest. But they have been trained to understand what makes the economy hum and to think through how people will respond to changing conditions of all kinds.

Specifically, I asked this challenging question: "In comparison to a world in which greenhouse gas (GHG) levels were stable, rising levels of greenhouse gases by the end of the twenty-first century will cause GDP per capita in the U.S. to be a) more than 10 percent lower, b) about 5 to 10 percent lower, c) about 1 to 5 percent lower, d) less than 1 percent lower or higher, e) about 1 to 5 percent higher, or f) more than 5 percent higher." (Remember that GDP or gross domestic product equals the value of all final goods and services produced in the economy or equivalently the level of aggregate income.)

A couple of these choices may seem odd to the lay person, since few media accounts hold out the prospect that any global warming and other climate changes induced by rising greenhouse gas levels could be beneficial to our standard of living.  However, some economists credit this possibility - pointing to the fertilization effect of higher carbon-dioxide levels on plant growth and the amenity value of warmer weather, for example.

The results show that most economists are not alarmed by the likelihood of continued carbon-dioxide emissions.  The Great Depression of 1929 to 1933 caused inflation-adjusted GDP to fall a numbing 27%.  Few economists think that rising GHGs will have anywhere near this impact - only one in eight predict that GDP will fall by more than 10 percent.  Almost twice as many believe that rising greenhouse gas levels will cause the economy to grow.  The most popular response is that rising greenhouse gas levels will have virtually no impact on income per person (less than 1 percent lower or higher).  The vast majority (73.2%) predicts that the impact will be less than 5 percent one way or the other.

(Here are the complete responses: a) more than 10 percent lower = 12.5%; b) about 5 to 10 percent lower = 7.1%; c) about 1 to 5 percent lower = 21.4%; d) less than 1 percent lower or higher = 35.7%; e) about 1 to 5 percent higher = 16.1%; f) more than 5 percent higher = 7.1%.) 

Assuming that "more than 10" = 15, "more than 5" = 10, and taking the midpoint of the other intervals, this averages to -1.86%.  Since the end of World War II, inflation-adjusted GDP has risen by about 2 percent per year on average.  Thus, the collective wisdom of these economists is that greenhouse gas emissions will shave about one year of economic growth off the economy over the next century.

Why do economists generally conclude that the economic impact of climate change is likely to be small, not large?  The growing literature on this topic suggests that most parts of the economy are not very vulnerable to climate change.  Just as importantly, parts of the economy that might be negatively impacted are pretty flexible and adaptable to change.  If climate does change, crops can be modified, different crops can be planted and crops can be planted in different places, for example.  If sea levels rise, we have the ability and resources to build protective structures or, in a worse-case scenario, simply move to higher ground.  Thus, while potential climate changes might be devastating to parts of the environment, most economists don't think that it will affect our economic standard of living much, one way or the other. 

The bottom line is that recent history has shown economists that the primary cause of economic growth is technological improvement.  Climate change cannot staunch the global torrent of new discoveries, processes and products.  Human ingenuity is the ultimate resource and - as far as most economists are concerned - rising greenhouse gas levels cannot imperil this.

Robert Whaples is Chair of the Department of Economics at Wake Forest University. This article draws on "Do Economists Agree on Anything? Yes," The Economists' Voice, 3 (9), November 2006.



Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has proposed listing polar bears as "threatened" on the government's list of imperiled species, a step below "endangered," a category reserved for those facing imminent extinction.  The Center for Biological Diversity says polar bears are endangered due to melting Arctic sea ice cover.

However, a report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist, says polar bears have, and will continue to, adapt to their environment, and are not being pushed to the brink of extinction by global warming.

According to Taylor and other scientists, the actual number of polar bears in the wild is not a cause for alarm:

o   Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or are increasing in number.

o   Although the current population of polar bears is said to have dwindled to 22,000 to 25,000, a half-century ago there were only 8,000 to 10,000 polar bears.

o   Much of the increase has been due to hunting restrictions.

As for the reported weight loss of the bears; it may be because increasing populations are competing for the same food supply, which, ironically, a little warming might help:

o   A reduction in ice cover creates a better habitat for seals, which are the bears' main food.

o   Less ice cover means more sunlight producing more phytoplankton, increasing the supply of other food sources.

o   On land, blueberries, which the bears adore, would become more plentiful; Taylor says he's seen bears so full of blueberries they waddle.

"Life may be good," Taylor said, "but good news about polar bear populations does not seem to be welcomed by the Center for Biological Diversity.  It is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria."

Source: Editorial, "Those Bad News Bears," Investor's Business Daily, December 29, 2006.
For text:
Courtesy:  NCPA


Gwynne Dyer
Winnipeg Free Press, 19 December 2006
Here's the plan. Everybody in the country will get the same allowance for how much carbon dioxide they can emit each year, and every time they buy some product that involves carbon dioxide emissions -- filling their car, paying their utility bills, buying an airline ticket -- carbon points are deducted from their credit or debit cards. Like Air Miles, only in reverse.
So if you ride a bike everywhere, insulate your home, and don't travel much, you can sell your unused points back to the system. And if you use up your allowance before the end of the year, then you will have to buy extra points from the system.
This is no lunatic proposal from the eco-radical fringe. It is on the verge of becoming British government policy, and Environment Secretary David Miliband is behind it 100 per cent. In fact, he is hoping to launch a pilot scheme quite soon, with the goal of moving to a comprehensive national scheme of carbon rationing within five years.
Ever since a delegation of scientists persuaded former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a scientist herself, to start taking climate change seriously back in the late 1980s, British governments of both parties have been in the forefront on the issue, but Miliband's initiative breaks new ground. It has, says Miliband, "a simplicity and beauty that would reward carbon thrift."
Previous emissions-trading systems -- the sulphur dioxide system mandated by the 1990 Clean Air Act in the United States, the 25-country European Union scheme for trading CO2 emission permits launched in 2005, the system for trading emission allowances at national level among developed countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol -- all envisage large industrial organizations or even entire countries making the deals. Miliband is bringing it down to the personal level.
A huge share of total emissions is driven by the decisions of individual consumers. Miliband thinks that the least intrusive, most efficient way of shaping those decisions is to set up a system that tracks everybody's use of goods and services that produce a lot of greenhouse gases, and rewards the thrifty while imposing higher costs on the profligate. And there is no time to lose: The world's carbon emissions have to stop growing within 10 to 15 years, he says, and Britain must cut its total carbon emissions by 60 per cent in the next 39 or 40 years.
"We are in a dangerous place now," he told the Guardian newspaper on Dec. 11, "and it is going to be very difficult to get into a less dangerous place. The science is getting worse faster than the politics is getting better. People know the technology exists to get a lot of this done ... but there is a huge chasm of mistrust between countries about how to do this .... The developing countries won't take on any carbon reduction targets until they believe the countries that have caused the problem do so."
The science certainly is "getting worse," in the sense that every forecast is worse than the one before. The most recent assessment of the state of the Arctic by the International Panel on Climate Change, whose full fourth report is due next year, was published early in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last week because its forecast was so alarming.
If current trends persist, the scientists reported, the Arctic Ocean will be entirely ice-free in the summertime not in 2080, as previous forecasts suggested, but by 2040, just 33 years from now. Then the dark ocean surface absorbs much more heat than the reflective ice did, and another element of feedback kicks in, and the speed of warming increases again.
Those in the know are very frightened, but there is still that "huge chasm of mistrust." The developing countries that are only now beginning to emit large amounts of greenhouse gases look at the mountain of past emissions produced by the developed countries, the source of most current climate change, and they want the rich countries to cut back very deeply -- deeply enough to leave the developing countries some room to raise their consumption without dooming us all to runaway climate change.
That's where the long-range target of 60 per cent emission cuts for Britain comes from. Britain only produces two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so a 60 per cent cut in Britain alone is still only a drop in the bucket, but the aim is to set an example: See, we can do this without impoverishing ourselves, so other developed countries can, too.
And if they do, then a deal to control the growth of emissions in the developing countries is within reach.
So individual carbon credit accounts for all, and if you want to do things that produce more carbon dioxide than your annual allowance, you pay for it. The frugal and the poor can sell their unused credits back into the system -- and every year or so, as the average carbon efficiency of transport or food production or power generation improves a little bit, the size of the free personal carbon allowance is reduced a little bit. It is, I suspect, the shape of things to come.
Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist.


Airlines operating in the EU must pay for any increase in greenhouse gas emissions above current levels, the European Commission has decided.

Internal EU flights should be brought inside the bloc's emissions trading scheme from 2011, with all others following in 2012, officials say.  Emissions from aircraft in the EU have increased by 87% since 1990, and are expected to double again by 2020.  Environmental groups say the proposals do not go far enough.

"EU emissions from international air transport are increasing faster than from any other sector," a commission statement says.  "This growth threatens to undermine the EU's progress in cutting overall greenhouse gas emissions."  It adds that someone flying from London to New York and back does more damage than heating an average European home for a year.

The Commission's proposal, which has to be agreed by member states and the European Parliament, would issue airlines with emission allowances based on the average level of emissions between 2004 and 2006.  Those that reduce emissions would be able to sell any permits they do not use. But if they increase their emissions they will be forced to buy additional permits from other businesses in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  The scheme, which aims to bring Europe into line with its obligations under the Kyoto protocol, now covers nearly half of the bloc's emissions.

Air travel currently accounts for between 3% and 8% of Europe's greenhouse gases - figures issued by the industry and environmental groups vary within this range.

The BBC's Joe Lynam in Brussels says the aviation industry admits it has a role to play combating climate change.  But is also quick to point out how important air travel is to economic growth.  Aviation body IATA contends that grounding all airliners would have a small impact on CO2 emission - but a dramatic one on the global economy.

Environmental campaigners say the scheme should force airlines to cut their emissions, instead of pegging them at the current level.  Friends of the Earth said the emissions limits needed to be part of a package of measures.

"This must include ending tax breaks enjoyed by the industry and abandoning airport expansion plans," the group said in a statement.  "Our targets for tackling climate change are unlikely to be met unless we urgently tackle rising emissions from planes."

Consumer groups are worried that it will be travellers and not the airline companies who will end up paying to make the skies greener, our correspondent adds.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/12/20 12:17:05 GMT




Recent data show that the Kyoto Protocol hasn't done all that much to reduce emissions, and may even be counterproductive.  And contrary to the caricature painted by proponents, the American approach may offer more, says the Wall Street Journal.


o   CO2 emissions growth in the United States far outpaced members of the European Union (EU) from 1990-95 and especially from 1995-2000; in addition, the United States has outperformed the EU-15 since 2000, reducing emissions by 8 percent.

o   By comparison, the EU-15 saw an increase of 2.3 points, and only two EU states, Britain and Sweden, are on track to meet their Kyoto emissions commitments by 2010.

o   Six more might meet their targets if they approve and implement new, as yet unspecified, policies to restrict carbon output, while seven of the 15 will miss their goals.

Europe's dismal record is explained by its approach to reducing emissions, says the Journal.  The centerpiece of the Continent's plan is a carbon-trading scheme in which companies in CO2-heavy industries receive tradable permits for a certain amount of emissions.  If they emit more CO2, they must buy credits from firms that are under quota.  The idea is to force companies to emit less CO2 by making it prohibitively expensive to keep the status quo.

All this scheme has done so far is provide further proof that government cannot replicate the wisdom of markets, says the Journal:

o   A red-faced European Commission recently admitted that it allowed more permits than there were emissions in 2005-07, keeping permit prices low and undermining the entire system.

o   When Brussels tried to make amends by ordering several member states to cut carbon permits by 7 percent more than expected for 2008-2012, industry and national capitals squealed.

Source: Editorial, "Europe v. America on CO2," Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2006.  
Courtesy NCPA

Comment by Kevin Corbett

From AGU blog: December 2nd, 2006 at 8:03 pm

Now that some time has passed since my letter to AGU concerning AMQUA’s up-braiding of AAPG for their award to Michael Crichton, perhaps a few more comments from me are warranted.

First, AGU is no less biased in their awards than AAPG. The last AGU journalism awards (The Sullivan and Perlman Awards) were given to Michelle Nijhuis for a series in the High Country News and to Dan Vergano for an article in USA Today. In case AGU missed the viewpoint of the High Country News, they bill themselves as, “the environmental newspaper of the West,” in their own promotional subscription materials, which ironically enough I received the week my note to EOS was published. Not a ringing endorsement for unbiased journalism. Ms. Nijhuis in her acceptance speech for the Sullivan Award states, “human-caused climate change is the biggest environmental challenge the world has ever faced,” and specifically notes there has been, “very little political action”. If the challenge is so great and indeed human induced, pray-tell please point to specific instances of harm done. Also, she evidently missed those environmental problems the world has when a big bolide hits! The call to political action speaks for itself. AGU commended Mr. Vergano in its press release announcing the award, for not rehashing the accuracy of Ocean-Atmosphere General Circulation Models (OAGCM). I specifically referenced the report by Phillips et al (2006), because they establish for the first time a benchmark of how unstable OAGCM are, “In most of the coupled runs, various ad hoc surface flux adjustments also were applied so as to minimize a problematic model behavior known as ‘climate drift’, where aspects of the evolving coupled simulation (e.g., sea surface temperatures) diverge increasingly from a realistic equilibrium state.” Obviously, the results of OAGCM are neither reliable nor unbiased. Indeed, if Mr. Vergano were reporting absent an agenda and AGU were seeking unvarnished answers, they would indeed be worried about basing predictions and making claims of causality using models where Ad-Hoc adjustment is needed to achieve realistic results. Other aspects of OAGCM are too numerous and troubling to here address in full but include failure to address variability in the rate of bicarbonate delivery to the oceans, variability in oceanic algal flux “blooms” and their effect on CO2 consumption, modeling with any degree of accuracy changes in water vapor in the atmosphere (a hugely more significant greenhouse gas), and volcanic delivery of CO2 to the oceans from the mid-ocean ridges. The OAGCM are numerically elegant and vastly over simplistic. Rather than seeking to understand fully how CO2 is buffered and removed from the atmosphere, they instead seek to identify select sources and predict predetermined consequences. Frankly, I wish the modelers would take a field trip to see some limestones in outcrop, and then go back and ponder how they'd explain these huge CO2 sinks with their models. It would hopefully be a humbling experience in viewing their own naivety.

Second, comments concerning the vested interest of petroleum geologists or others engaged in natural resource development are valid. Equally valid are claims of the vested interest of those funded to conduct climate research. I remember all too well the funding crisis in academic and government earth and atmospheric research in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when I too was an academic. To no small degree, climate research funding saved many soft-money supported scientists from seeking other lines of work. So, if resource scientists in industry have a vested interest, soft-money climate researchers have an even more vested one. Claims of peer review to those outside the grant-money research club have a hollow ring. Simply put, when everybody thinks alike, nobody thinks very much. Because a self-selected group engages in mutual reinforcement is hardly indicative of accuracy in analysis and interpretation. There are too many instances where peer review has proved demonstrably incorrect to give it the level of validity those in the publish or perish game imply. As an example, take a look at the evolution in thinking on dark matter in the universe as it evolved from intellectual pariah in the 1950’s to saviour of the expanding universe in the 2000’s. (my emphasis)

Third, for those of us in earth science with a view substantially longer than the Holocene or even the Quaternary, we note that the general state of planet Earth through Phanerozoic time was to be far warmer than the present, and with much higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Obviously, these warm times and CO2-rich atmospheres were completely unrelated to any anthropogenic effect, either pre- or post-industrial. As a consequence, it strikes me the climate scientists of today have much in common with Don Quixote: they tilt at windmills while the real battle and truer understanding are to be found elsewhere.

Finally, the most troubling aspect of the “over-heated” climate debate is, as I implied in my letter, the stridency of those who interpret an anthropogenically driven warming. It bears noting that neither AAPG nor any other industry-related scientific organization came forward as AGU did with a politically charged position statement. Undoubtedly, many members in AGU support the position statement of the society, but certainly AGU leadership made no attempt to determine the degree of agreement or support for the position statement amongst the membership prior to its adoption. Note that neither AAPG nor any other industry-related society assailed the position statement by AGU -- and not because of its inherent validity, or for lack of scientific grounds and means on which to challenge the claims therein made. The AMQUA letter and many of the comments in response to my own letter fortify my concern that AGU, AMQUA and many of their members have crossed inexorably from scientific inquiry to political advocacy. I trust all are prepared for the full spectrum of political engagement.


13.  THE FATE OF CLIMATE SKEPTICS: The Crazies Sound Off
When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg. (19 Sep 2006)
On October 27 (2006) Sens. Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) and Snowe (R., Maine) sent a letter to ExxonMobil's CEO requesting that ExxonMobil end its financial assistance and support of groups and individuals who reject global warming claims, and urging it to "publicly acknowledge both the reality of climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it."
"This is not science fiction, These are plausible scenarios, based on clear and rigorous scientific modeling.  A few diehard skeptics continue trying to sow doubt. They should be seen for what they are: out of step, out of arguments and out of the time" Kofi Annan, Nairobi, 15. Nov. 2006
On Thursday (16.11.2006), Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, compared climate sceptics to advocates of Islamic terror. Neither, she said, should have access to the media.
Every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned.
--George Monbiot, The Guardian, 5 December 2006