The Week That Was
May 20, 2006

New on the Web: Steven Hayward tells how to think sensibly about Global Warming.

Alister McFarqhar decries the end of science (Item #1)
Lubos Motl explains why doubling CO2 cannot raise temperatures by more than 1 C (Item #2).
Dennis Avery tells of the Medieval Warming in Greenland (Item #3)
David Legates counters exaggerated Global Warming claims (Item #4)
Sterling Burnett tells us that polar bears are doing well (Item #5)

Madhav Khandekar's Letter to Bull AMS (not published) talks about muddled climate science (Item #6)

"No Doubt About It, the World Is Warming," writes Richard Kerr in Science 2006; 312: p. 825 (Item #7)
[He obviously has not read our analysis of the CCSP report in TWTW of May 6, 2006]. See

The NY Times endorses nuclear energy - with reservations, of course -- and for some of the wrong reasons (Item #8). They must have been having a slow day.
Emissions reductions from large municipal waste combustors - an EPA success story (Item #9)

EU's emission trading is in trouble (Item #10). Canadian Environment Minister Rona Ambrose calls Canada's Kyoto Protocol commitments "unachievable."

Alan Caruba takes a jaundiced view of Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth") Item #11) - while Al does a spoof on himself on Saturday Night Live TV (Item #12)

Late News:

¦ Organizers of next month's soccer World Cup in Germany plan to offset the event's greenhouse gas emissions with investments in alternative energy.

¦ and "will offset all CO2 from Gore's travels to discuss and promote his film" by wind projects in Alaskan Native village.

¦ Waste some money: This year's 2006 Business and Sustainable Development Conference: Managing for Economic, Environmental and Social Value in the Global Marketplace, on June 21-22, 2006 at The Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. And for a fee of "only" $1890: A chance to hear Amory Lovins discourse on Energy and Jim Hansen on Climate Change, plus other luminaries (all sponsored by Scientific American etc)

Baltic Cruise (Aug 27 - Sept 8. London to London)
Matthew Aquino replaced by Clay Hawley
Contact Clay for any information. But hurry!

The Cruise Web Inc,
1-800-377-9383 x357 or 1-240-487-0155 x 357
8100 Corporate Dr., Landover, MD 20785

Prof. Yuval Ne'eman, 80, a world-acclaimed theoretical physicist, multi- talented academic, one of Israel's most prominent scientists and a former government minister, died on April 26 in Tel Aviv after suffering a stroke.
A Global Warming skeptic and strong believer in the importance of space research and satellites to his country's economic future and security, Ne'eman founded the Israel Space Agency in 1983 and chaired it almost until his death. He also served on the Atomic Energy Commission from 1965 to 1984 and held the position of scientific director in its Sorek facility. Ne'eman was chief scientist of the Defense Ministry from 1974 to 1976 and served in military intelligence in the Six-Day War in 1967.



1. The End of Science
by Alister McFarquhar

We may have shrugged off Fukuyama s End of History but the End of Science now threatens.

My background is traditional and now I fear old fashioned. Those who sympathise with me are appreciated and probably similarly trained. I think science tries to establish the facts, however ephemeral, with some degree of probability. This leaves the policy makers and politicians to operate exogenously.

Scientists nowadays anticipate social, economic and moral objectives and say what should be done while the science, pure, slips. So the political process becomes individual and endogenous.

Last week scientists were entreated to take account of public good in their research papers for Nature. So scientists should now anticipate politics and decide public good.

Kyoto is a perfect example. EU policy and its national components are driven by the need to reduce use of fossil fuels on the assumption of catastrophic global warming which can be moderated by man. The politics is decided by scientists complicit with self-seeking Green Lobbies, which undermine politics and the silent majority.

Business suffers the same fate. No longer can companies maximise shareholder interest within the law. They must at least simulate desire to be Green, introduce social and equity objectives beyond what they might do in the interest of adding to profit. Government uses business to enforce social and equity objectives. This erodes competition and drives investment abroad. It fosters Fortress Europe and return to Local Roots thinking.

Economics has entertained the notion of measuring indirect costs and benefits beyond the project accounts for over half a century. Cost-benefit analysis which alters all prices to remove market price distortion, never really caught on except in Multilateral Development Banks with more resources than they know what to do with.

Social objectives become confounded with economic ones. Better keep the financial analysis clear and let the politicians incorporate public good perceptions below the bottom line

A recent development in Economics called Critical Realism rejects the boundaries of that discipline to include social, moral, ethical, philosophical and of course political objectives in the name of ontology. But when discipline boundaries are ignored, anyone's analysis is as good as another's. Perception rules.

In climate we are in the land of Old Wives Tales which produce Kyoto and of the hot air which fuels wind farms. Sadly the half-life of OWTs is as long as history so we better learn how to handle them.

Otherwise we are in the land of "Vote Blue Get Green" spin. Fortunately, Green may be defined as any hue between the two. So like that sneaky and long surviving apple pie word sustainable,[ for us Renewable] it can be defined to suit the political objectives of each case

sic transit

2. Nature Does It Again: Climate Sensitivity And Editorial Policies
Lubos Motl's Reference Frame, 13 May 2006

Climate sensitivity is defined as the average increase of the temperature of the Earth that you get (or expect) by doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere - from 0.028% in the pre-industrial era to the future value of 0.056% (expected around 2100).

If you assume no feedback mechanisms and you just compute how much additional energy in the form of infrared rays emitted by (or reflected from) the surface will be absorbed by the carbon dioxide (refresh your knowledge about Earth's energy budget), you obtain the value of 1 degree C for the climate sensitivity.

While the feedback mechanisms may shift the sensitivity in either direction, Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT, a world's leader in the sensitivity issue, will convince you that the estimate is about right but the true value, with the mostly unknown feedback mechanisms, is likely to be lower. Why is it so?

You should realize that the carbon dioxide only absorbs the infrared radiation at certain frequencies, and it can only absorb the maximum of 100% of the radiation at these frequencies. By this comment, I want to point out that the "forcing" - the expected additive shift of the terrestrial equilibrium temperature - is not a linear function of the carbon-dioxide concentration. Instead, the additional greenhouse effect becomes increasingly unimportant as the concentration increases: The expected temperature increase is something like

* 1.5 { 1 - exp[-(concentration-280)/200 ppm] } Celsius

The decreasing exponential tells you how much radiation at the critical frequencies is able to penetrate through the carbon dioxide and leave the planet. The numbers in the formula above are not completely accurate and the precise exponential form is not quite robust either but the qualitative message is reliable. When the concentration increases, additional CO2 becomes less and less important.

In particular, there exists nothing such as a "runaway effect" or a "point of no return" or a "tipping point" or any of the similar hysterical fairy-tales promoted by various Al Gores. The formula above simply does not allow you more than 1.5 Celsius degrees of warming from the CO2 greenhouse effect. Similar formulae, based on the Arrhenius' law, predict a decrease of the derivative "d Temperature / d Concentration" to be a power law - not exponential decrease - but it is still a decrease.

One might also want to obtain a better formula by integrating the formula above over frequencies:


In all cases, such a possible warming distributed over centuries is certainly nothing that a person with IQ above 80 should be producing movies about.

When you substitute the concentration of 560 ppm (parts per million), you obtain something like 1 degree C increase relatively to the pre-industrial era. But even if you plug in the current concentration of 380 ppm, you obtain about 0.76 C of "global warming". Although we have only completed about 40% of the proverbial CO2 doubling, we have already achieved about 75% of the warming effect that is expected from such a doubling: The difference is a result of the exponentially suppressed influence of the growing carbon dioxide concentration.

In reality, the increase of the temperatures since the pre-industrial era was comparable or slightly smaller than 0.76 C - something like 0.6 C. It is consistent to assume that the no-feedback "college physics" calculation of the CO2 greenhouse effect is approximately right, and if it is not quite right, it is more likely to be an overestimate rather than an underestimate, given the observed data.

The numbers and calculations above are actually not too controversial. Gavin Schmidt, a well-known alarmist from RealClimate, more or less agrees with the calculated figures, even though he adds a certain amount of fog - he selectively constructs various minor arguments that have the capacity to "tilt" the calculation above in the alarmist direction. But the figure of 1 C - understood as a rough estimate - seems to be consistent with everything and Schmidt claims that only intellectually challenged climate scientists estimate the sensitivity to be around 5 C degrees (I forgot Schmidt's exact wording).

Three weeks ago, Hegerl et al. published a text in Nature that claims that the 95 percent confidence interval for the climate sensitivity is between 1.5 and 6.2 Celsius degrees. James Annan decided to publish a reply (with J.C. Hargreaves). As you might know, James Annan - who likes to gamble and to make bets about global warming - is
* an alarmist who believes all kinds of crazy things about the dangerous global warming;
* a weird advocate of the Bayesian probabilistic reasoning.

However, he decided to publish a reply that
* the actual sensitivity is about 5 times smaller than the Hegerl et al. upper bound which means that the warming from the carbon dioxide won't be too interesting;
* Hegerl et al. have made errors in statistical reasoning; the error may be summarized as an application of Bayesian priors which are unscientific.

The second point means that Hegerl et al. simply use a "prior" (a dogma or a random religious preconception that is a crucial part of the Bayesian statistical reasoning) that simply allows the sensitivity to be huge a priori - and such a huge preconception is then not removed by the subsequent procedure of "Bayesian inference". Such an outcome is a typical result of Bayesian methods: garbage in, garbage out. I am convinced that the fact that Annan was able to appreciate these incorrect points of Hegerl et al. is partially a result of my educational influence on James Annan.

Nevertheless, Annan's reply was rejected by Nicki Stevens of Nature without review with the following cute justification:
"We have regretfully decided that publication of this comment as a Brief Communication Arising is not justified, as the concerns you have raised apply more generally to a widespread methodological approach, and not solely to the Hegerl et al. paper."

In other words, Annan's reply could have the ability to catch errors that influence more than one paper, and such replies are not welcome. Imagine that Nicki Stevens as the editor of "Annalen der Physik" instead of Max Planck who received Albert Einstein's paper on special relativity. Even better, you can also imagine that Nicki Stevens is the editor who receives the paper on General Relativity, whose insights apply more generally.

3. Melting the facts about Greenland's ice sheet
Viking history, ice core samples, and observations of solar cycle cast doubt on human responsibility for climate change

By Dennis T. Avery
May 15, 2006

Humans now control Earth's climate, James Hansen of NASA told CBS' "60 Minutes" recently. His evidence: The edges of the Greenland ice sheet are melting, rapidly. Hansen says the speed of this melting proves that man-made greenhouse gases are responsible.

Sorry, Dr. Hansen, but the melting edges of the Greenland ice sheet don't prove your point. Melting around the edges is exactly what the Vikings saw on Greenland 1,000 years ago, when they named the island - for its green coastal meadows. They moved in with their cattle, and thrived for 300 years, during what we now call the Medieval Warming.

The Vikings' mistake was thinking that Greenland would stay warm, that the Earth's climate was stable. Greenland was then warmer than today, and the Summers were longer. There was ample grass and hay for the Vikings' dairy cows. The Norse settlement grew to 3,000 people.

Then Greenland's climate suddenly got colder. The Little Ice Age had begun. Sea ice moved South, and the Vikings' sailing ships could no longer get through to trade wood for seal furs. Shorter Summers produced less hay, to feed the Viking cows through longer, colder Winters. The last written record found in the abandoned Viking colonies was dated 1408.

Our panic-prone scientists seem to have forgotten their own ice cores, drilled deep into the Greenland ice sheet in the 1980s. These ice cores document a natural, sudden-but-moderate 1,500-year global warming cycle. This natural 1,500-year climate cycle raises temperatures about 2 degrees C above the mean for 750 years, or so - and, then abruptly drops the temperatures 2 degrees C below the mean (at the latitude of northern Europe).

Man's climate impacts are puny compared to the heat of the Sun. There's no evidence that human-emitted CO2 has added much to the current temperatures. Our moderate warming to date - 0.8 degree C - virtually all occurred before 1940, and thus before much industrial development.

If you want to talk about sudden change, ice cores from the Freemont Glacier in Wyoming show it went from Little Ice Age-cold to Modern Warming-warm in the ten years between 1845 and 1855. Naturally.

Greenland, today, has 20,000 people, 50,000 sheep, and a sizeable fishing industry. But, the climate cycle will turn, in a few more centuries. Then Greenland's sheep will be in serious trouble, and its fishermen will need icebreakers to reach the fishing grounds. (There were no fish bones in the Norse colonies' trash heaps).

As for melting ice from Greenland flooding London, remember that it didn't happen during the Medieval Warming, so it's unlikely to happen in the Modern Warming. The melting of 100 cubic kilometers of Greenland ice would raise sea levels by only 0.01 inch. Dr. Hansen should know that recent satellite research shows Greenland's interior ice sheet has thickened 2 inches, in the past 11 years, because warmer temperatures are evaporating more seawater to make more snow.

The Vikings can be forgiven for missing the 1,500-year climate cycle. They didn't have thermometers, written records, or the ice core histories. NASA's Dr. Hansen cannot be let off the hook so easily.
Dennis T. Avery is a CFACT advisor who serves as a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. and is the Director for the Center for Global Food Issues. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State.
Reprinted from the CFACT website

4. Climate Change And Its Impacts
By David Legates
University of Delaware

Scientific debate continues regarding the extent to which human activities contribute to global warming and what the potential impact on the environment might be. Importantly, much of the scientific evidence contradicts assertions that substantial global warming is likely to occur soon and that the predicted warming will harm the Earth's biosphere, says David R. Legates, an associate professor of geography and director of the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware.

Global warming alarmists have attributed increases in hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, hail storms and heat waves to global warming caused by human activities. However, the evidence does not support their claims, says Legates. In recent months, for instance:

o The unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was blamed on climate change -- but experts say recent, more powerful storms are part of a natural cycle, and greater hurricane damage in North America is due to increased coastal populations and development rather than more severe storms.

o Similar claims have been made about other weather phenomena in North America; but, in fact, there is no evidence of an increase in the frequency or severity of floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, hail storms or other severe weather events.

Some have attempted to link the present warming trend to secondary effects, such as species extinction. However, the relationship between species extinction and climate change is even more tenuous, says Legates.

The complexity of the climate and the limitations of data and computer models mean projections of future climate change are unreliable at best. In sum, the science does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures over the 21st century, nor does it support claims of human influence on weather events and other secondary effects of climate change, says Legates.
Source: David R. Legates, "Climate Science: Climate Change and Its Impacts," National Center for Policy Analysis, Policy Report No. 285, May 2006.

For text:

5. Polar bears on thin ice?
By Sterling Burnett,
Washington Times, May 15, 2006.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has written on the threats posed to polar bears from global warming. But its own data on some 22,000 polar bears in about 20 distinct populations worldwide seems to contradict their claims:

o Only two bear populations are decreasing, and they are in areas where air temperatures have actually fallen, such as the Baffin Bay region.

o Another two populations are growing, and they live in areas were air temperatures have risen, near the Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea.

These bears have survived for thousands of years, during both colder and warmer periods, and their populations are by and large in good shape, says Burnett. Polar bears may face many threats, but global warming is not primary among them.

6. Hurricane Katrina and the global warming science: more muddled OR settled?
Madhav Khandekar
Letter to Editor, AMS Bulletin
September 30th, 2005 (revised November 22, 2005)

The devastating impact of hurricane Katrina (August 29/30, 2005) on the great city of New Orleans has once again rekindled the global warming debate with environmentalists, science writers and policymakers churning out opinions and words of wisdom in various news and print media. A blame game is in full swing with 'global warming' as the primary suspect while among other 'culprits' are the countries which refuse to sign on to the Kyoto accord to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and a number of climate skeptics who have been arguing against the global warming science.

The debate has been further fueled by the recent publication of two papers in high-profile scientific journals, Nature in UK and Science in USA. These papers are authored by renowned scientists, Kerry Emanuel of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) and Peter Webster and co-workers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, USA). Both these papers document the strengthening of hurricanes and tropical cyclones in recent years due to warmer waters and in particular to warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean where a large number of hurricanes have spawned this season.

A recent paper in the AMS Bulletin (Pielke,Jr et al 2005) suggests that hurricanes in the Atlantic have followed a decadal pattern showing no link to global warming. In an informal interview, Prof. William Gray (Colorado State University) who has studied hurricanes for over 50 years categorically dismisses recent hurricane activity in the Atlantic due to global warming, while Prof. James O'Brien (Florida State University) points out that the region of the Atlantic between Africa and the US east coast where hurricanes form and grow does not show any increase in SST (Sea Surface Temperature) in recent years.

With so many differing viewpoints, there is a need to closely examine some of the issues re: the global warming science:

1. Global warming & hurricanes: The studies by Emanuel and Webster et al have re-iterated what most students of hurricanes and tropical meteorology have known -- namely that warmer waters of the oceans ( warmer than 27C) will help hurricanes to grow and strengthen. What is not clear at present is why hurricanes or tropical cyclones do not grow or strengthen equally in different ocean basins. The Bay of Bengal in North Indian Ocean, notorious for some of the deadliest tropical cyclones in the seventies, has seen very few intense tropical cyclones in last ten years. It may be noted that the SSTs in the Bay of Bengal are among the highest anywhere, about 29C.

Many other issues re: hurricane strength and its relation to vertical tilt of the hurricane axis, vertical wind shear and the strength of the upper tropospheric outflow are not fully resolved at this time. Also, it is not completely understood whether recent warming of ocean surface waters is all due to human-added CO2 or due to factors like cloud cover changes in tropical latitudes , solar variability etc.

2. Global warming & extreme weather: The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Climate Change Document 2001 lists a number of extreme weather events ( e.g., heat waves, extreme precipitation, increased summer continental drying and risk of droughts) which are likely to increase as a result of global warming. A detailed analysis of such events for Canada (Khandekar, 2002) and for USA (Balling & Cerveny, 2003) does not support IPCC conclusions at this point in time. Elsewhere, extreme weather events do not show any consistent pattern (increase/decrease) to support IPCC hypothesis of increase in extreme weather events. As Khandekar et al (2005) have summarized: Global warming and extreme weather link is more a perception than reality.

3. Global warming & escalating economic impact: Changnon and co-workers have shown in several excellent papers (e.g, Changnon, 2003: Changnon et al, 2000) that shifting economic impacts from weather extremes in the USA is a result of societal change and not global warming. Elsewhere, very few detailed studies are available to make a definitive assessment.

4. Global warming & sea level rise: IPCC Climate Change documents (1996, 2001) have discussed the possibility of accelerated sea level rise leading to flooding of low-lying islands like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu Island in south Pacific. Several studies have now shown that there has not been accelerated sea-level rise anywhere in the 20th century. The Maldive islands sea level variation has been extensively studied by Morner (2003) among others and the 'threat' of the islands being inundated in next fifty to one hundred years has been discounted.

5. Global warming & Arctic 'melt-down' and sea-ice reduction: The Arctic is a complex atmosphere-ocean-ice climate system whose variability is not fully understood. According to several recent studies (e.g., Polyakov, 2003), the Arctic surface temperature was at its peak during 1935/36, then the temperature started to decline and since about 1970s the Arctic surface temperature has been steadily climbing and is presently at about the same level as it was during the 1930s. Further, Russian data on Arctic weather and climate show a definite increase in winter cloud cover during the late 1970s through most of eighties, this winter cloud cover increase having contributed more to the thinning of Arctic ice than human-added CO2. Another recent paper (Soon 2005) documents high correlation between TSI (Total Solar Irradiance) and Arctic surface air temperatures reconstructed over a long period 1875-2000,while documenting relatively weak correlation with atmospheric carbon dioxide mixing ratio.

There are several related issues that are being debated in the science and news media. Specifically, the contention by IPCC that the twentieth century has been the warmest in the last 2 millennia has been challenged in several recent studies and the debate continues at present. Also, the magnitude of the observed warming is another issue being debated. The observed warming appears to be modest and recent projections suggest a warming of only about 1C or so in next 50 to 75 years.

Has the recent debate helped settle the global warming science or has it become more muddled? The global warming advocates seem to think that it is settled in their favor. Most climate skeptics would like to think that the science is far from settled and needs to be reassessed.


Balling, R. C. and R. S. Cerveny, 2003: Compilation and discussion of trends in severe storms in the United States: Popular perception vs. climate reality. Natural Hazards, 29, 103-112.

Changnon, S. A., 2003: Shifting economic impacts from weather extremes in the United States: A result of societal changes, not global warming. Natural Hazards, 29, 273-290

" et al, 2000: Trends in socio-economic impacts related to weather and climate extremes in the USA. Bull. Amer. Met Soc. 81, 437-442

Khandekar, M L 2002: Trends and Changes in extreme weather events: An assessment with focus on Alberta and Canadian Prairies. Report prepared for Alberta Environment, ISBN:0-7785-2428-0, October 2002, 56 p. (

" , T S Murty and P. Chittibabu, 2005: The global warming debate: a review of the state of science. Pure & Applied Geophysics, 162, 1557-1586.

Morner, N, M Tooley and G Possnert, 2004: New perspectives for the future of the Maldives. Global and Planetary Change, 40, 177-182

Pielke, Jr R A, C Landsea, M Mayfield, J Laver and R Pasch 2005: Hurricanes and global warming. Bulletin AMS, 86,No.11, p.1571-1575.

Polyakov I. et al, 2003: Variability and trends of air temperature and pressure in the maritime Arctic, 1875-2000. J of Climate, 16, 2067-2077

Soon,W-H 2005: Variable solar irradiance as a plausible agent for multidecadal variations in the Arctic-wide surface air temperature record of the past 130 years. Geophy. Res. Letters, 32, L16712, August 2005

7. No Doubt About It, the World Is Warming
Richard A. Kerr
Science 12 May 2006:
Vol. 312. no. 5775, p. 825. DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5775.825

Global warming contrarians can cross out one of their last talking points. A report released last week settles the debate over how the atmosphere has been warming the past 35 years. The report, the first of 21 the Bush Administration has commissioned to study lingering problems of global climate change, finds that satellite-borne instruments and thermometers at the surface now agree: The world is warming throughout the lower atmosphere, not just at the surface, about the way greenhouse climate models predict.

"The evidence continues to support a substantial human impact on global temperature increases," added the report's chief editor Thomas Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. The additional support for global warming will not change White House policy, however. Michele St. Martin, spokesperson for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, says President George W. Bush believes that greenhouse gas emissions can be brought down through better use of energy while the understanding of climate science continues to improve.

Critics who blasted research under the White House's Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) (Science, 27 February 2004, p. 1269) as mere obfuscation might not have expected such a forthright conclusion from the report. Karl attributes the clarity to the CCSP approach. "For the first time, we had people [who initially disagreed] sitting down across the table. That's a tremendous advantage," he says. "The process is great for improving understanding. It led to not just synthesis but to advancing the science." The CCSP synthesis and assessment process prompted new, independent analyses that helped eliminate some long-standing differences, Karl says.

The 21 authors of the report included researchers who for years had been battling in the literature over the proper way to analyze the satellite data. Meteorologists John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, were the first to construct a long record of lower-atmosphere temperature from temperature-dependent emissions observed by Microwave Sounding Units (MSUs) flown on satellites. By the early 1990s, Christy and Spencer could see little or no significant warming of the middle of the troposphere--the lowermost layer of the atmosphere--since the beginning of the satellite record in 1979, although surface temperature had risen.

In recent years, report authors Frank Wentz of Remote Sensing Systems in Santa Rosa, California, and Konstantin Vinnikov of the University of Maryland, College Park, led separate groups analyzing the MSU data. They and others found atmospheric warming more on a par with the observed surface warming (Science, 7 May 2004, p. 805). Hashing out those differences over the same table "was a pretty draining experience," says Christy.

In the end, the time and effort paid off, says Karl. The report authors eventually identified several errors in earlier analyses, such as not properly allowing for a satellite's orbital drift. They had additional years of data that lengthened a relatively short record. And they could compare observations with simulations from 20 different climate models, which researchers had prepared for an upcoming international climate change assessment. The report authors found that over the 25-year satellite record, the surface and the mid-troposphere each warmed roughly 0.15°C per decade averaged over the globe, give or take 0.05°C or so per decade. The tropics proved to be an exception: The models called for more warming aloft than at the surface lately, whereas most observations showed the reverse. Reconciling that discrepancy will have to wait for the next round of synthesis and assessment.


8. The Greening of Nuclear Power

May 13, 2006 NY Times Editorial

Not so many years ago, nuclear energy was a hobgoblin to environmentalists, who feared the potential for catastrophic accidents and long-term radiation contamination. But this is a new era, dominated by fears of tight energy supplies and global warming. Suddenly nuclear power is looking better.

The nuclear industry recently trotted out two new leaders of its campaign to encourage the building of new reactors. They are Christie Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace. This campaign is the latest sign that nuclear power is getting a more welcome reception from some environmentalists who have moved on to bigger worries.

True, most environmental organizations remain adamantly opposed to any expansion of nuclear power and instead look to conservation and renewable energy to get us out of the fossil fuel age. But when the ecologist James Lovelock - creator of the Gaia hypothesis, which holds that Earth and all its organisms behave as if they were a single living system - urges his colleagues to drop their "wrongheaded opposition" to nuclear energy, it is clear that fissures are developing.

There is good reason to give nuclear power a fresh look. It can diversify our sources of energy with a fuel - uranium - that is both abundant and inexpensive. More important, nuclear energy can replace fossil-fuel power plants for generating electricity, reducing the carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute heavily to global warming. That could be important in large developing economies like China's and India's, which would otherwise rely heavily on burning large quantities of dirty coal and oil.

But nuclear power should not be given a free pass in our frantic quest for energy and environmental security. Making any real dent in carbon emissions could require building many hundreds or even thousands of new nuclear plants around the world in coming decades, a hugely ambitious undertaking fraught with challenges.

As nuclear expertise and technologies spread around the world, so does the risk that they might be used to make bombs. Unfortunately, the Bush administration erred badly when it signed a nuclear pact with India that would undercut the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. That misguided deal needs to be repudiated by the Senate. We can only hope that it does not undercut a more promising administration plan to keep the most dangerous fuel-making technologies out of circulation by supplying developing nations with uranium and taking the spent fuel rods back.

There remains the unsolved problem of what to do with the radioactive waste generated by nuclear plants. Many people are unwilling to see a resurgence in nuclear power without some assurance that the spent fuel can be handled safely. The Energy Department's repeated setbacks in efforts to open an underground waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada do not inspire confidence, but there is no reason why the spent fuel rods can't be stored safely at surface sites for the next 50 to 100 years.

More problematic is the administration's long-term solution for waste disposal. It wants to recycle the spent fuel in a new generation of advanced reactors that would use technologies that don't yet exist, following a timetable that many experts think unrealistic. Its current approach is apt to be costly and would leave dangerous plutonium more accessible to terrorists.

Nuclear power has a good safety record in this country, and its costs, despite the high initial expense of building the plants, are looking more reasonable now that fossil-fuel prices are soaring. How much impact it could really have in slowing carbon emissions has yet to be spelled out, but there is no doubt that nuclear power could serve as a useful bridge to even greener sources of energy.

9. Emissions Reductions from Large Municipal Waste Combustors Locked in with EPA Final Rule: EPA issued a final rule on emissions from large municipal waste combustors on April 28, locking in emissions reductions achieved over limits established in 1995. The rule tightens emissions standards for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, dioxins and furans and heavy metals, including mercury.
Under the new rule, dioxin/furan emissions limits have been lowered from 60 to 13 nanograms/cubic meter. However, emissions from large units--those that burn more than 250 tons of municipal solid waste each day--are already meeting the lower standards, and therefore the final rule will not impact the regulatory cost to industry.
EPA estimated in December, 2005, that the rule would affect about 70 sources. New Source Performance Standards and emissions guidelines issued by EPA in 1995, based on maximum achievable control technology (MACT), took full effect in 2000 and have resulted in dramatic emissions declines, including a 99 percent reduction in dioxin/furan emissions.

10. Concerns over EU carbon trading

The European Commission has questioned the effectiveness of the EU's emissions trading scheme, the cornerstone of its climate change policy. Under the scheme, governments set quotas for the carbon dioxide emissions produced by 9,400 large factories and power stations in 21 member states. Carbon permits are issued to give firms a financial incentive to invest in clean technology and cut emissions.

The permits effectively make the right to pollute a tradable commodity - giving companies the ability to buy and sell permission to emit extra carbon dioxide.
Emissions of carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas - are widely thought to be a key factor in global warming, increasing atmospheric temperatures around the world.

But the commission's report showed that states have issued too many permits.
The Commission's reports showed a 2.5% surplus for 2005, with the 21 states granting 44.2 million metric tons more carbon dioxide permits than needed.

UK Quota questions

Unlike many other states, the UK kept a tight rein on the number of pollution permits it issued. But as a result, it exceeded its quota of permits for 2005. The UK has been in conflict with the EU over its level of permits, with Britain now arguing that it set itself too tight a target when the scheme was originally launched.

The EU has threatened to take legal action against the UK for exceeding its national quota, set in April 2004. But the UK government is claiming that it should be measured against the revised quota it set in October 2004, which gave business more generous targets.

Slumping prices

When it emerged that the number of permits exceeded demand, prices slumped. The price of carbon credits traded in Europe has already fallen by around 60% over the past two weeks because some of the data from the report was released early.

"It's clear that most countries were too generous when handing out allowances," said David Foster, head of emissions and weather derivatives at Calyon, part of Credit Agricole. "The dissemination of the information has been a farce."

The idea of the carbon-trading scheme was to raise the cost to firms of continuing to pollute while creating a market to give an incentive to become more environmentally efficient.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/15 10:43:08 GMT

11. An Inconvenient Al Gore
By Alan Caruba, The National Anxiety Center
May 15, 2006

On May 26, a movie, An Inconvenient Truth, will debut at a theatre near you, starring a man who introduces himself, these days, as the man "who used to be the next President of the United States." That man is Al Gore who, since losing his bid in 2000 to lead this country, has given us all cause to thank a merciful God for sparing us his unflagging lunacy.

This is the same Al Gore who, on January 15, 2004, when the weather in New York reached a near-record chill, delivered yet another loopy lecture on his obsession with global warming. Gore lays ownership to an encyclopedia of bizarre notions available to anyone who reads his book, Earth in the Balance, published in the early 90s.

Gore, like most seriously committed environmentalists (who probably should be committed someplace where they can't do any harm), believes that the human race is responsible for ruining the Earth.

Early in his book, he speaks of "humankind's assault" on the Earth. Back in 1997, when Gore was still Vice President, the White House hosted a hundred television weathermen at a global warming conference. His solution to the planet's problems was to put an end to over-population in developing nations, by ramping up Third World birth control information. I suspect that Gore would favor even more drastic ways of reducing population, if he thought it would "save" the Earth.

Gore has been talking-up global warming, since the environmental loonies switched their tune in the 1980s, from a coming Ice Age, to an effort to reverse the Industrial Revolution with the warming theory. He has steadfastly ignored any scientific evidence that it is not happening, and insists that thousands of scientists, worldwide, support the theory.

So Gore will be back, this time with a film. Dare we call it a documentary? The problem is that most of the facts it will present either have been, or will be refuted by a growing number of climatologists and meteorologists, who no longer want to be lumped in with those whose "science" is based mostly on government salaries or foundation grants.

It should amaze and anger people that the U.S. government has spent $18 billion on climate research since 1990, three times as much as any other nation. None of it has demonstrated that the global warming theory has any validity. In 2000, Gore was advocating a $150 billion fund "to help develop clean new technologies." Nothing is ever going to be clean enough, for Gore and the Greens.

The movie will, no doubt, show pictures of melting glaciers, so that he can predict that most of the East Coast will be under water, if dire conditions continue. His problem is that there are no dire conditions. Seasonally, parts of glaciers do melt, but neither the North nor South Pole is melting. There is no planetary emergency, no matter how many scary pictures he shows.

Another problem with Al Gore's refusal to go away and grow tobacco on his Tennessee farm, is his unremitting hatred of those he calls "the polluters." For Gore, pollution is everywhere. The "polluters" all seem to represent aspects of the world's providers of energy, whether it is oil, coal, or natural gas. He's on record opposing nuclear power, as well. Gore wants "alternative, sustainable" forms of energy that, if they worked, would be in use now. Solar and wind power are simply insufficient to the energy needs of the modern world.

To get a sense of just how nuts Al Gore is, in his book he advocated, "the strategic goal of completely eliminating the internal combustion engine over, say a twenty-five year period." And suffice it to say, he would put the solution of all the world's problems in the hands of the United Nations, the single most corrupt international institution on the face of the Earth.

This is the man who came within a handful of votes of being President of the United States of America. If that doesn't scare you, then nothing will. Worse yet, one suspects that Al Gore thinks this new movie and his inane television channel will be the platform for his candidacy at some future point in time.

The real inconvenient truth is that, when the movie comes out, Al Gore is going to be interviewed by a fawning mainstream press, repeating all of his irrational notions, in an effort to get us all to abandon our cars with their awful internal combustion engines, to stop using air conditioning, and generally go live in the woods somewhere. With summer just around the corner, at least he has picked the right time of year, this time, to warn us, once again, about global warming.

And just in case you missed it -
12. Al Gore on Saturday Night Live (May 13, 2006)

And now, a message from the President of the United States.

President Al Gore:
Good evening, my fellow Americans.

In 2000 when you overwhelmingly made the decision to elect me as your 43rd president, I knew the road ahead would be difficult. We have accomplished so much yet challenges lie ahead.

In the last 6 years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack. As you know, these renegade glaciers have already captured parts of upper Michigan and northern Maine, but I assure you: we will not let the glaciers win.

Right now, in the 2nd week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas crisis in history. We have way too much gasoline. Gas is down to $0.19 a gallon and the oil companies are hurting.

I know that I am partly to blame by insisting that cars run on trash. I am therefore proposing a federal bailout to our oil companies because - hey if it were the other way around, you know the oil companies would help us.

On a positive note, we worked hard to save Welfare, fix Social Security and of course provide the free universal health care we all enjoy today. But all this came at a high cost. As I speak, the gigantic national budget surplus is down to a perilously low $11 trillion dollars.

And don't get any ideas. That money is staying in the very successful lockbox. We're not touching it. Of course, we could give economic aid to China, or lend money to the Saudis... again.

But right now we're already so loved by everyone in the world that American tourists can't even go over to Europe anymore... without getting hugged.

There are some of you that want to spend our money on some made-up war. To you I say: what part of "lockbox" don't you understand?

What if there's a hurricane or a tornado? Unlikely I know because of the Anti-Hurricane and Tornado Machine I was instrumental in helping to develop.

But... what if? What if the scientists are right and one of those giant glaciers hits Boston? That's why we have the lockbox!

As for immigration, solving that came at a heavy cost, and I personally regret the loss of California. However, the new Mexifornian economy is strong and el Presidente Schwarzenegger is doing a great job.

There have been some setbacks. Unfortunately, the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Michael Moore was bitter and divisive. However, I could not be more proud of how the House and Senate pulled together to confirm the nomination of Chief Justice George Clooney.

Baseball, our national pastime, still lies under the shadow of steroid accusations. But I have faith in baseball commissioner George W. Bush when he says, "We will find the steroid users if we have to tap every phone in America!"

In 2001 when I came into office, our national security was the most important issue. The threat of terrorism was real. Who knew that six years later, Afghanistan would be the most popular Spring Break destination? Or that Six Flags Tehran is the fastest growing amusement park in the Middle East?

And the scariest thing we Americans have to fear is ... Live From New York, its Saturday Night!



Go to the Week That Was Index