The Week That Was
August 25 , 2007
A man's mind once stretched by a new idea can never return to its original dimension.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Four ‘Inconvenient Truths’ about the science of global warming and about the cost of ‘combatting’ it – in the (London) Sunday Telegraph [ITEM #1] But why stop at just four?
Meanwhile, Rep. John Dingell (Dem-Mich) tries a desperate gambit: Carbon taxes, even on gasoline, rather than tighter CAFE rules [Item #3].
The awful costs of GW mitigation [ITEM #4] -- all for no purpose except to enrich some and produce widespread poverty [ITEM #5].
Hot and cold running media scares – by Fred Gielow at youdontsay.org [ITEM #6] and Why Global warming would be good for us [ITEM #7].
U.N. head invites Czech president to global warming conference. Expect Shocking Speech!
Excerpt: Czech President Vaclav Klaus will address a conference on global warming in late September in New York as he has been invited by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the event, Klaus's spokesman Petr Hajek told CTK Tuesday. Klaus is known as a fierce challenger of both the human factor in and the widely forecast effects of global warming. He opposes the views advocated by people like Al Gore, arguing that the "hysteria" surrounding the warming issue threatens freedom and democracy. One of his slogans is that freedom, not climate is endangered. He regularly lashes out against "ambitious environmentalism." < > Klaus told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) last week that he plans to deliver a very radical speech in New York. "It will be a gathering of 'Gore-ites,' so they're going to be shocked that they invited me 'by mistake,' too. And I'm going to give a very tough speech," he told the radio. http://launch.praguemonitor.com/en/143/czech_national_news/10522/
Robert Samuelson, Newsweek contributing editor, calls their global-warming deniers story (Aug 13, 2007) fundamentally misleading. He understates; see TWTW of Aug 11, 2007.
We Care About GW, But Not Really
Americans have the “right” opinions on environmental issues, but “they don’t really care,” concludes Matthew Yglesias, a blogger and editor for the Atlantic Monthly (matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com). He says he reached this conclusion after perusing the results of a report from the research and strategy firm American Environics and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
The report, “Energy Attitudes,” found that 69 percent of voters would support a candidate with whom they disagreed on environmental matters and that there are six issues, including gay marriage, abortion and taxes, that are more important to them (american-environics.com).
Even people who described themselves as “environmentalists” put other issues higher on their priority lists. The upshot of the report, Mr. Yglesias writes, “is that while there’s public eagerness to do something about global warming, it’s very tenuous, and people are rabidly opposed to anything that would increase energy costs.”
From NY Times Aug. 25, 2007 nytimes.com/business. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global climate models have been criticized as being overly simple representations of an extremely complex system; for example, they include only natural and anthropogenic external forcing terms (like those for solar radiation, atmospheric aerosols, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases) and neglect to incorporate the effects of nonanthropogenic internal climate variability that could have a significant effect on predictions. Smith et al. (Science, Aug 10; see the news story by Kerr) report model hindcast results that include the effects of that internal variability. They found that surface temperature can be predicted with substantially more skill over a decade, both globally and regionally. Their forecast of global annual mean surface temperature for the decade beginning in 2005 indicates a reduced rate of warming for the next few years, followed by continued and more rapid warming, with at least half of the years after 2009 predicted to be warmer than the warmest year currently on record.
Full story at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/317/5839/746?etoc
SEPP Comment: This may simply be another attempt to cover up the fact that climate is not following model predictions. That’s how the IPCC used aerosol cooling back in 1995…
In May 2006, the first of 21 planned CCSP Synthesis and Assessment reports was issued with NOAA serving as the lead agency. Titled "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences" the report identified and corrected errors in satellite temperature measurements and other temperature observations, allowing for increased confidence in the conclusion that on a global scale the lower atmosphere is growing warmer and that:
"there is no longer a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere." ... "the observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained by natural processes alone".
The report also noted that:
"all current atmospheric data sets now show global-average warming that is similar to the surface warming. While these data are consistent with the results from climate models at the global scale, discrepancies in the tropics remain to be resolved."
1. INCONVENIENTLY, THE 1930S WERE THE HOTTEST DECADE
By Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph, 20/08/2007
Recent days have brought to light four more highly "inconvenient truths" for our global warming alarmists. The first caused acute embarrassment to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), exposing a serious flaw in its record of US surface temperatures since 1880. The error was so glaring that, on August 7, GISS had to post revised figures which show, instead of temperatures reaching their highest level in the past decade, that the hottest year of the 20th century was not 1998 but 1934. Of the 10 warmest years since 1880, it turns out that four were in the 1930s and only three in the past decade.
The significance of this is that James Hansen, the head of GISS, has been Al Gore's closest scientific ally for nearly 20 years in promoting the global warming scare. The revised figures relate only to temperatures in North America but the fact that the pre-eminent scientific champion of the orthodoxy has been promoting erroneous data has considerable implications.
The expert responsible for spotting GISS's error was Stephen McIntyre, a Canadian computer analyst who four years ago scored the greatest coup in the history of this debate by demolishing the notorious "hockey stick" - the graph which purported to show temperatures flat-lining for centuries until they suddenly began an exponential rise in the late 20th century. The "hockey stick" was adopted as the supreme icon of the global warming lobby, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which reproduced it no fewer than five times in its 2001 report. Since McIntyre exposed the mass of basic computer errors on which it was based, the IPCC in its most recent report quietly dropped it.
The new GISS graph, conceding that the last decade may not have seen the hottest years of the past century, follows the latest satellite figures from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showing that in recent years global temperatures have not continued to rise (as orthodox CO2 warming theory would suggest) but have flattened out at a level significantly lower than in 1998.
The other "inconvenient truths" all relate to the astronomic cost of measures now being proposed to tackle our supposed "warming".
One was a study reported in Science which finds that the increasing production of biofuels to combat climate change will release between two and nine times more CO2 into the atmosphere in the next 30 years than generating the same energy from fossil fuels. To meet the EU's target of substituting 10 per cent of transport fuel with biofuel by 2020 would take up 40 per cent of all the EU's farmland, unless much of it was imported, at devastating cost to the world's rainforests and wildlife.
The second was a leaked memorandum in which officials of the DTI (now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) briefed ministers on how to explain to the EU's energy commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, that the UK will not be able to comply with a European Council decision last March that the EU must derive 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The officials have calculated that this could cost UK electricity users alone an additional 22 billion a year, nearly 1,000 a year for every household. This is 2 per cent of GDP, and double Sir Nicholas Stern's estimate for the entire cost of halting global warming. The officials predicted that the target is not remotely achievable anyway.
A final awkward finding comes from the world's leading expert on the financial costs of tackling global warming. Prof William Nordhaus, of Yale, has just published calculations showing that cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on the scale proposed by Gore might possibly save $12 trillion (12,000bn) - but that their cost would be nearly three times as much, $34 trillion, more than half the world's GDP. Even for those who still believe the likes of Gore and Hansen, it hardly sounds like the bargain of the century.
2. ECONOMY COMES FIRST, AS EUROPE BACKS DOWN ON CARS EMISSIONS
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Daily Telegraph, 8 August 2007
The European Commission is backing away from its draconian plans for curbs on car emissions, bowing to intense pressure from Berlin and the German auto industry.
Fresh drafts of the EU's hotly-contested legislation have ditched the original ceiling of 130 grams of carbon-dioxide per kilometre by 2012 for the average fleet of each car company, which posed a serious threat to the German trio of Porsche, BMW, and Daimler - all relying on powerful models.
The new proposals opt instead for a series of categories that create higher CO2 allowances for heavier cars, according to a report in Germany's Handelsblatt. "It will still be ambitious, but within the realistic possibilities of manufacturers," said Karl-Heinz Florenz, MEP (Member of European Parliament), the climate spokesman for the German Christian Democrats.
The more flexible proposals, modelled on Japan's system, may clear the way for Ford's sale of Jaguar and Land Rover, which has run into delays as private equity bidders hesitate until it is clearer what the EU intends to propose. One Equity Partners LLC has sought clarification from Brussels on the way the rules might affect off-road vehicles such as Land Rover.
The Italian and French producers make models small enough to meet the 130 gram ceiling, with Fiat currently at 146, PSA Peugeot-Citroen at 150, and Renault at 152. Rome and Paris have been the lobbying for the strictest set of rules in the hope of gaining market share for their industries.
By contrast, Porsche at 297, BMW at 190, and Daimler at 184 would have no chance of meeting the target even with hybrid technology, so Berlin has been battling to reshape the plans, reportedly with the help of the EU's German industry commissioner, Gunther Verheugen. He has been at loggerheads with the EU's environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas.
Chris Davies, MEP, the Liberal-Democrat leader in Strasbourg and the author of the European Parliament's own report on emissions, said it was still far from clear what the final plans would look like. He said the EU's environment directorate would resist moves to dilute the proposals, while MEPs also have considerable power to put tough language back in the draft - and add entirely new provisions that go beyond the original proposals.
Germany may lack enough allies to block the law when it reaches the Council of Ministers, although most EU governments would be reluctant to overrule Berlin on an issue of vital importance to the German economy. A seventh of the German workforce depends on the car industry in one way or another....
3. THE POWER IN THE CARBON TAX
By John D. Dingell, Wash Post, August 2, 2007; A21
Successful laws to protect the environment are built on simple concepts. They discourage harmful behavior -- the dumping of sewage or industrial waste into bodies of water, the destruction of habitat, the emission of toxic chemicals -- by a variety of measures, all of which raise the cost of engaging in certain behavior. You can't develop land, and profit, if you're endangering a threatened animal. You have to dispose of chemical substances responsibly. And so on.
Good environmental law can also encourage good behavior: the development of alternative approaches, such as substances that cause less harm, or new technologies.
We should keep this in mind when discussing carbon. How do we raise the cost of emitting carbon, promoting conservation and efficiencies, and make alternatives more economically viable, thus addressing the problem of climate change?
Alternative energy sources -- those that are not carbon-based or substantially improve on (i.e., reduce) carbon emissions relative to the fuels we now consume -- are fairly well known: wind, biofuels (cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel), solar, waves, geothermal and nuclear.
Each source of energy faces obstacles. For example, wind and nuclear power present "not in my back yard" challenges, as we're seeing with efforts to install a wind farm off Cape Cod, Mass., while ethanol plants are welcomed with generous subsidies in the Farm Belt. Some raise issues regarding land use. All are more expensive to produce than the energy we currently use.
There is general agreement that we should devote more research and development funding to alternative energy and, in some cases, subsidize development. But there are limited dollars available and debates about the relative merits of each, rooted in regional differences.
I don't mean to dismiss improvements to existing technologies. The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved legislation to require 43 separate efficiency standards for appliances, buildings and more. When fully implemented, the standards will reduce carbon emissions by 8.6 billion tons, an amount equal to the annual emissions of all the cars on the road today. I have also endorsed a minimum 30 to 35 percent increase in vehicle fuel economy standards.
But to get the emissions reductions we need, we must do more.
I apparently created a mini-storm last month when I observed publicly for at least the sixth time since February that some form of carbon emissions fee or tax (including a gasoline tax) would be the most effective way to curb carbon emissions and make alternatives economically viable. I said, as I have on many occasions, that we would have to go to some kind of cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.
A carbon tax or fee has been endorsed by President Bush's former chief economic adviser, Greg Mankiw; Nobel Prize-winning conservative economist Gary Becker; the chief executive of the largest U.S. auto-dealer chain, Mike Jackson; and several environmental organizations. From Alan Greenspan to Greenpeace, many recognize its utility.
There may be disagreements as to the proper level or the best use of revenue. The United Mine Workers support a fuel-based fee that would fund carbon sequestration. Others have suggested using the revenue to reduce Social Security taxes. Congress must hash out the details.
History shows that we respond to market forces. Between 1980 and 1981, the fuel economy of the vehicles Americans purchased increased 16 percent. That wasn't because of a technological breakthrough or a regulatory requirement. It was because the price of gas had risen to the point where consumers made fuel economy a priority. Market forces and mechanisms proved far more powerful than mandates.
I don't expect to overcome ideological Republican opposition to all forms of taxation, but if CEOs, economists, environmentalists and citizens speak out, we could effect real change. I don't pretend to speak for my party on this; I'm trying to speak to common sense and experience.
Former vice president Al Gore told the Energy and Commerce Committee this year: "We should start using the tax code to reduce taxes on employment and production, and make up the difference with pollution taxes, principally [on] CO2. Now I fully understand that this is considered politically impossible. But part of our challenge is to expand the limits of what's possible. Right now we are discouraging work and encouraging the destruction of the planet's habitability."
He's right. This Congress may be able to enact a cap-and-trade system, and other policies to address climate change, only without a carbon fee. Ultimately, though, we're going to have to be more ambitious.
The writer, a Democratic representative from Michigan, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
5. CO2 MITIGATION: POLICIES FOR POVERTY
6. HOT AND COLD RUNNING TEMPERATURES: LET'S SEE IF THERE'S A PATTERN HERE:
By Fred Gielow, August 01, 2007
DANGER: The Globe Is Cooling: New York Times, February 24, 1895: "Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again." New York Times, October 7, 1912: "Prof. Schmidt Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice Age." Los Angeles Times, October 7, 1912: "Fifth ice age is on the way. Human race will have to fight for its existence against cold." Chicago Tribune, August 9, 1923: "Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada." Washington Post, August 10, 1923: "Ice Age Coming Here." Los Angeles Times, April 6, 1924: "If these things be true, it is evident, therefore that we must be just teetering on an ice age."
DANGER: The Globe Is Warming: Los Angeles Times, March 11, 1929: "Most geologists think the world is growing warmer, and that it will continue to get warmer." Chicago Daily Tribune, November 6, 1939: "Chicago is in the front rank of thousands of cities [throughout] the world which have been affected by a mysterious trend toward warmer climate in the last two decades." New York Times, August 10, 1952: "[W]e have learned that the world has been getting warmer in the last half century." New York Times, 1953: "[N]early all the great ice sheets are in retreat." U.S. News & World Report, January 8, 1954: "[W]inters are getting milder, summers drier. Glaciers are receding, deserts growing." New York Times, February 15, 1959: "Arctic Findings in Particular Support Theory of Rising Global Temperatures." New York Times, February 20, 1969: "[T]he Arctic pack ice is thinning and [. .. .] the ocean at the North Pole may become an open sea within a decade or two."
DANGER: The Globe Is Cooling: Science News, November 15, 1969: "How long the current cooling trend continues is one of the most important problems of our civilization." Washington Post, January 11, 1970: "[G]et a good grip on your long johns, cold weather haters -- the worst may be yet to come." The article was titled, "Colder Winters Herald Dawn of New Ice Age." New York Times, December 29, 1974: "[P]resent climate change [will result in] mass deaths by starvation and probably in anarchy and violence." Christian Science Monitor, 1974: "[T]he North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool." Newsweek, April 28, 1975: "The drop in food output [as a result of climate change] could begin quite soon, perhaps only ten years from now. [. . .] [The] central fact [is] the earth's climate seems to be cooling down." New York Times, 1975: "A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable." Science News, 1975: "[T]he cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed." New Scientist editor Nigel Calder, 1975: "The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind." From The Cooling, by Lowell Ponte, 1976: "The cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people in poor nations."
DANGER: The Globe Is Warming: New York Times, August 22, 1981: "[Global warming of an] almost unprecedented magnitude [is predicted]." Washington Post, January 18, 2006: "[Rising temperatures] could, literally, alter the fundamentals of life on the planet." Time, March 26, 2006: "Polar Ice Caps Are Melting Faster Than Ever . . . More and More; Land is Being Devastated by Drought . . . Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities . . . By Any Measure, Earth Is at the Tipping Point; The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame."
Let me check my calendar. My guess is it won't be too long before we'll be worried to death about the next big cooling scare.
7. WHY GLOBAL WARMING WOULD BE GOOD FOR US
Letter from reader Chris Schoneveld from down under <email@example.com
What I find most striking is that there are no reports or studies that show any benefit from global warming. Indeed all the things we read are about demise or risk of going extinct. In other words global warming is detrimental in every respect.
The obvious question remains: Would a cooler world then be good for all the things on the list we like and save us from all those things we don’t like, i.e. would it be generally beneficial? For example: more and healthier coral reefs, more koala bears, more butterflies, more sea turtles, more whales, more orang-utangs but less floods, less storms or other extreme weather events, less jelly fish, less cockroaches, less poison ivy, less diseases, less wars, less poverty etc. etc. I don’t think anybody would believe that such a positive scenario is realistic or even remotely plausible. Our gut feeling is that a colder world would be a harsher place for humans than a warmer world. Indeed, history shows that the medieval warm period was one of progress and the little ice age one of relative hardship.
The inevitable conclusion - or the real inconvenient truth - is that the media have a fanatical urge to report any form of doom and gloom they can dig up from the scientific literature. Ultimately, however, we have to blame the scientific community for this obvious form of alarmism. Apparently, scientists are not as unbiased as we had hoped they would be -- unless of course we accept the unlikely explanation that today’s climate is at an optimum, how coincidental and suspiciously convenient that may be. In such a highly unlikely scenario, any climate change would be considered negative for humans. But, as we have learned from geological and historical records, climate is always changing and it would be far better to prepare for those changes (warming or cooling) through adaptation than to attempt to control our climate through the futile but very expensive measures of mitigating CO2 emissions.
Having said all this, wouldn’t it be ironic if anthropogenic CO2 helps to slow down the next natural cooling trend? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? The unscientific part of my gut says it is probably good.
PS. For what it is worth here is an alternative anthropogenic cause: A leading Muslim cleric has blamed the devastating drought, climate change and pollution on Australians' lack of faith in Allah, and not on CO2. Whereas another climate-change skeptic, Bishop Trevor Magdalene of Nazarethingworth, said: “the floods were caused by nothing more than sin. Sin is responsible for these floods, sin -- and allowing the gay to marry.”