The Week That Was
September 22 , 2007
This [GW] is an example of religious fervour unmitigated by rational investigation. It is the triumph of superstition over reason. Ray Evans (Melbourne)
Shutting down debate on climate change is one of the principal objectives of many of today’s environmentalist crusaders. They have written numerous tracts denouncing the ideals of journalistic balance and objectivity, since applying such ideals to climate change assumes that there is more than one legitimate viewpoint on the subject. Journalists who seek balance on climate change are labelled ‘cowards’ for refusing to take a stand against Evil. Exhorting the media to take sides on climate change, instead of upholding balance, green crusaders resort to cheap and superficial comparisons between climate change and slavery or the Holocaust.
[Frank Furedi, author most recently of Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right]
BBC NEWS: The European Union's goal of keeping the global temperature rise to 2C is unlikely to be met, a leading climate researcher has warned. Professor Martin Parry told BBC News that millions, if not tens of millions, would be at increased risk to their lives from a rise above 2C (3.6F). He co-chairs the impacts working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
SEPP Comment: So EU and US will cause mass deaths unless we switch to fluorescent light bulbs?
In his new book “Cool It,” Danish scholar Bjorn Lomborg calculates that about 200,000 people die in Europe each year from excessive heat, and 1.5 million from excessive cold.
Fred Singer’s Hillsdale talk in Imprimis
For German readers: SEPP director Dr Klaus Heiss in major Austrian newspaper
1. OZONE: THE HOLE TRUTH
by Ben Lieberman September 14, 2007
The international treaty to protect the ozone layer turns 20 this year. But is there really much reason to celebrate?
Environmentalists have made numerous apocalyptic predictions over the past several decades, virtually none of which has come to pass. Yet each time, the Greens and their political allies proclaim victory, arguing that their preventive prescriptions averted disaster.
Such is the case with the 1987 ‘Montreal Protocol On Substances That Deplete The Ozone Layer’ (Montreal Protocol). The lurid predictions of ozone depletion-induced skin cancer epidemics, ecosystem destruction and others haven't come true, for which Montreal Protocol proponents congratulate themselves. But in retrospect, the evidence shows that ozone depletion was an exaggerated threat in the first place. As the treaty parties return to Montreal for their 20th anniversary meeting, it should be cause for reflection, not celebration, especially for those who hope to repeat this "success story" in the context of global warming.
The treaty came about over legitimate but overstated concerns that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, a then-widely used class of refrigerants) and other compounds were rising to the stratosphere and destroying ozone molecules. These molecules, collectively known as the ozone layer, shield the earth from excessive ultraviolet-B radiation (UVB) from the sun. The Montreal Protocol's provisions were tightened in 1990 and again in 1992, culminating with a CFC ban in most developed nations by 1996.
So what do we know now? As far as ozone depletion is concerned, the thinning of the ozone layer that occurred throughout the 1980s apparently stopped in the early 1990s, too soon to credit the Montreal Protocol. A 1998 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report said that, "since 1991, the linear [downward] trend observed during the 1980s has not continued, but rather total column ozone has been almost constant …" However, the same report noted that the stratospheric concentrations of the offending compounds were still increasing through 1998. This lends credence to the skeptical view, widely derided at the time of the Montreal Protocol, that natural variations better explain the fluctuations in the global ozone layer.
More importantly, the feared increase in ground level UVB radiation has also failed to materialize. Keep in mind that ozone depletion, in and of itself, doesn't really harm human health or the environment. It's the concern that an eroded ozone layer will allow more of the sun's damaging UVB rays to reach the earth that led to the Montreal Protocol. But WMO concedes that no statistically significant long-term trends have been detected, noting earlier this year that "outside the polar regions, ozone depletion has been relatively small, hence, in many places, increases in UV due to this depletion are difficult to separate from the increases caused by other factors, such as changes in cloud and aerosol." In short, the impact of ozone depletion on UVB over populated regions is so small that it's hard to detect.
Needless to say, if UVB hasn't gone up, then the fears of increased UVB-induced harm are unfounded. Indeed, the much-hyped acceleration in skin cancer rates hasn't been documented. U.S. National Cancer Institute statistics show that malignant melanoma incidence and mortality, which had been undergoing a long-term increase that predates ozone depletion, has actually been leveling off during the putative ozone crisis.
Further, no ecosystem or species was ever shown to be seriously harmed by ozone depletion. This is true even in Antarctica, where the largest seasonal ozone loss, the so-called Antarctic Ozone Hole, occurs annually. Also forgotten is a long list of truly ridiculous claims, such as the one from Al Gore's 1992 book "Earth in the Balance” that, thanks to the Antarctic Ozone Hole, "hunters now report finding blind rabbits; fisherman catch blind salmon."
Overall, the Montreal Protocol isn't making these bad consequences go away -- they were never occurring in the first place.
The parallels with global warming are striking. Again we face a real but greatly overhyped environmental problem. In both cases, virtually everything the public has been told that sounds terrifying isn't true -- and what is true isn't particularly terrifying. But doomsayers such as Gore simply soldier on. His claims of blind animals from ozone depletion have been replaced by equally dubious assertions in his book "An Inconvenient Truth," including predictions of a massive sea level rise that would wipe away south Florida and other coastal areas.
Perhaps decades from now, participants in the Kyoto Protocol, the global-warming treaty modeled after the Montreal Protocol, will meet and congratulate themselves because none of their scary assertions came true. But how many resources will have been spent to save a world that never really needed saving in the first place?
Ben Lieberman is senior policy analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. This essay first appeared on the McClatchy Tribune wire
2. STUDY: BIOFUELS MAY DISPERSE MORE GREENHOUSE GASES THAN OIL
Corn-derived renewable energy sources create more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels, according to a study from an international team of scientists, reported in the London Times Saturday, September 22, 2007. Research findings published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics calculate that corn and rapeseed biodiesels produce up to 70 percent and 50 percent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels.
The study focused on nitrous oxide, which is 296 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Scientists found that the use of biofuels released twice as much nitrous oxide as previously realised. The research was performed by scientists from the U.S. Britain, and Germany and it included Professor Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning ozone scholar.
Corn-based ethanol is the leading biofuel alternative in the US, while rapeseed is used in 80 percent of biofuels created in Europe.
3. THE HIGH COSTS OF ETHANOL
Backed by the White House, corn-state governors and solid blocks on both sides of Congress's partisan divide, the politics of biofuels could hardly look sunnier. The economics of the American drive to increase ethanol in the energy supply are more discouraging, says the New York Times.
American corn-based ethanol is expensive. And while it can help cut oil imports and provide modest reductions in greenhouse gases compared to conventional gasoline, corn ethanol also carries considerable risks. Even now as Europe and China join the United States in ramping up production, world food prices are rising, threatening misery for the poorest countries:
o Corn prices are up about 50 percent from last year, while soybean prices are projected to rise up to 30 percent in the coming year, as farmers have replaced soy with corn in their fields.
o The increasing cost of animal feed is raising the prices of dairy and poultry products.
o Ethanol production in the United States and other countries, combined with bad weather and rising demand for animal feed in China, has helped push global grain prices to their highest levels in at least a decade.
Earlier this year, rising prices of corn imports from the United States triggered mass protests in Mexico. The chief of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that rising food prices around the world have threatened social unrest in developing countries.
Source: Editorial, "The High Cost of Ethanol," New York Times, September 19, 2007.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/opinion/19wed1.html h/t NCPA
4. URBAN IMMOBILITY
Traffic congestion continues to worsen in American cities of all sizes, creating a $78 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy in the form of 4.2 billion lost hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel -- that's
105 million weeks of vacation and 58 fully-loaded supertankers. These are among the key findings of the Texas Transportation Institute's 2007 Urban Mobility Report.
The problem is growing worse in all 437 of the nation's urban areas (the current report is based on 2005 figures, the most recent year for which complete data was available):
o The 2007 mobility report notes that congestion causes the average peak-period traveler to spend an extra 38 hours of travel time and consume an additional 26 gallons of fuel, amounting to a cost of $710 per traveler per year.
o Along with expanding the estimates of the effect of congestion to all 437 U.S. urban areas, the study provides detailed information for 85 specific urban areas.
o The report also focuses on the problems presented by "irregular events" -- crashes, stalled vehicles, work zones, weather problems and special events -- that cause unreliable travel times and contribute significantly to the overall congestion problem.
o Los Angeles drivers face the worst commute in the nation, with the average driver there losing about 72 hours a year to traffic.
o Drivers in the New York metropolitan area, with the second-worst commute in the nation, wasted 242 million gallons of fuel sitting in traffic in 2005, costing the nation $7.4 billion in lost productivity and fuel.
Source: Steve Ritea, "Costs of New York traffic second only to L.A.," Newsday.com, September 20, 2007; based upon: David Schrank and Tim Lomax, "The 2007 Urban Mobility Report," Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University, September. h/t to NCPA
For text: http://www.newsday.com/news/local/transportation/ny-litraf205382449sep20,0,1300534.story
For report: http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/media_information/press_release.stm
5. JUDGE TOSSES CALIFORNIAN GLOBAL WARMING SUIT
The Associated Press, 18 September 2007 http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jQAaCpWzVePSzCksngNcUjx7ct9g
By PAUL ELIAS
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge on Monday tossed out a lawsuit filed by California that sought to hold the world's six largest automakers accountable for their contribution to global warming. In its lawsuit filed last year, California blamed the auto industry for millions of dollars it expects to spend on repairing damage from global-warming induced floods and other natural disasters.
But District Judge Martin Jenkins in San Francisco handed California Attorney General Jerry Brown's environmental crusade a stinging rebuke when he ruled that it was impossible to determine to what extent automakers are responsible for global-warming damages in California. Many culprits, including other industries and even natural sources, are responsible for emitting carbon dioxide.
"The court is left without guidance in determining what is an unreasonable contribution to the sum of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, or in determining who should bear the costs associated with global climate change that admittedly result from multiple sources around the globe," Jenkins wrote.
"President George W. Bush opposes the protocol because it exempts developing nations who are major emitters, fails to address two major pollutants, and would have a negative economic impact on the United States," Jenkins wrote in his 24-page decision. To rule in favor of California would undermine the administration's position, Jenkins said.
Jenkins said it's up to lawmakers, rather than judges, to determine how responsible automakers are for global warming problems. Jenkins ruled that a court "injecting itself into the global warming thicket at this juncture would require an initial policy determination of the type reserved for the political branches of government."
Michigan's attorney general also filed court papers backing the automakers, making many of the same arguments that Jenkins ultimately adopted. Michigan said its economy would be severely crippled if automakers were forced to pay damages to California for contributing to global warming. Michigan said such policy decisions should be left for federal lawmakers.
The lawsuit was originally filed by former California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who was elected state treasurer in November 2006. Brown took over the lawsuit after his election as attorney general and he has made fighting global warming a priority.
Brown has successfully sued San Bernadino County to add a carbon emissions reduction scheme in its revised general plan. Last week, he wrested a $10 million agreement from oil giant ConocoPhillips Co. to reduce or offset its carbon output. Brown also has sent threatening letters to about a dozen state agencies demanding they take climate change into account when making development plans.
6. TWISTING SCIENCE TO FIT THE GLOBAL WARMING TEMPLATE
By James Lewis
The global warming crowd does not take kindly to being contradicted, either by critics or data. Of course, critics can be defamed and data can be skewed. But unless the critics can be silenced, they can fight back and expose phony data. When it begins to look like predictions of doom are not turning out sufficiently catastrophic, a full Orwell is called for. The media mobilize their templates to completely re-cast the information.
This process was fully in evidence yesterday when the global news service Reuters spun a report in Science magazine (which has been quietly starting to warn its readership that maybe it would be prudent to come in a bit from the end of the global warming limb) as if it confirmed the seriousness of global warning, when in fact the report contained devastating information of flaws in the doomsters methodology and warned that the disaster has been postponed.
"Global warming will step up after 2009: scientists."
That's the Reuters headline on an article from this week's Science magazine. But the Science article itself is an artful retreat from previous, over-confident global warming predictions.
Here's the Reuters story
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global warming is forecast to set in with a vengeance after 2009, with at least half of the five following years expected to be hotter than 1998, the warmest year on record, scientists reported on Thursday."
Here is Science magazine's own summary:
"Next Decade's Climate."
"Rising greenhouse gases are changing global climate, but during the next few decades natural climate variations will have a say as well, so researchers are scrambling to factor them in."
Notice that the editors of Science repeat the global warming party line, but emphasize the news: Climate modelers are finally "scrambling to factor in" natural variation. That's funny. You would have thought that model-builders would have done that ages ago. You mean they were only doing greenhouse predictions, and ignoring all the rest? That's the message a lot of scientific readers will get out of this backhanded admission.
For example, write the editors, "Stirrings in the North Atlantic Ocean today that have nothing to do with the strengthening greenhouse--just natural jostlings of the climate system--could lead to drought in Africa's Sahel in a decade or two, they recognized. ... until now, climate forecasters who worry about what greenhouse gases could be doing to climate have ignored what's happening naturally. Most looked 100 years ahead, far enough so that they could safely ignore what's happening now. No more. In this week's issue, researchers take their first stab at forecasting climate a decade ahead with current conditions in mind. The result is a bit disquieting. Natural climate variability driven by the ocean appears to have held greenhouse warming at bay the past few years ..."
Eeeek! Maybe it's not true at all???
"but the warming, according to the forecast, should come roaring back before the end of the decade..."
Phew!! Saved by the end of the sentence!
Now notice what Reuters "news" agency does with this story. According to Science, the big news is that climate modelers are finally, finally factoring in huge natural climate variations. By announcing that big news, they are also admitting that climate modelers have previously ignored nature.
OK. So what's the big new modeling prediction? A graph on the same page (746) of the magazine shows real fluctuations in measured temperatures that average to zero until 1998. Then there's a big peak around 1998, which allows the modelers to claim there was a net rise in temperature in the 90s. However, that peak was due to faulty measurements and has been corrected just days ago, thanks to the work of global warming critics. The faux "peak" is followed by a trough immediately afterward, in 2000. What makes the trend look upward as a whole is the predicted future temperatures. Those are the ones we haven't seen yet.
In otherwise, data that doesn't exist.
Let's push a little further. The editors begin their Letters section with two interesting headline letters. One is a retraction of an ancient climate event, by the original author who made the claim. The next piece is called The Dangers of Advocacy in Science, by Robert A. Gitzen of the University of Missouri. The out-take from that letter is the following, printed separately in large-sized font: "WOULD ANYONE DISAGREE that publishing overly liberal conclusions is poor science...?" By publishing and headlining Gitzen's letter is Science once again hinting that all is not well on the global warming front?
What most people don't know is that real science is a giant debating society, filled with skeptics. It is only mature science that is stable and agreed-upon. But mature science comes only after centuries of cumulative evidence, and constant, heated debate. It took 20 centuries after the planets were observed in the night sky, before Newton and Copernicus settled the nature of the solar system. Einstein's Relativity Theory happened three centuries afterwards, and even in his own lifetime, part of Einstein's universe was overthrown by Quantum Mechanics, which Einstein fought all his life. (He was wrong on that).
Climate science is a new kid on the block. It's woefully immature, as shown by the admission in this week's ScienceMag that current climate models have only now attempted to account for natural variation. But how can we tell how much of the observed variation is due to "man-caused global warming" if we don't know how much is due to natural variation? We can't.
This is still very immature science. It's only Reuters and its ideological ilk who feel sure they know the answers. And they aren't interested in real science.
James Lewis blogs at http://www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/
from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/08/twisting_science_to_fit_the_gl.html Sept 9, 2007 -
7. CLIMATE CHANGE – A COMMON SENSE APPROACH
By Rocky Wood
The Carbon Sense Coalition: all about carbon in life, energy and the atmosphere
We all know the maxim that common sense just isn’t that common. Nothing proves this more than the current debate about Climate Change. ‘Global Warming’ has become the propaganda term of choice for those who make a living from scare tactics about the climate. Yet, brave souls in the scientific and political community are offering alternate views, views that receive scant regard in the mainstream media.
In a series of columns for www.carbon-sense.com we will investigate just how much, or little, common sense is being applied in the worldwide debate. We will expose the facts Al Gore and his cohorts don’t want the average citizen to know; and we will challenge the orthodox view that has enveloped the mass media and politicians of all stripes. More importantly, we will investigate the motivations of many of those who are on the climate change bandwagon – from simple economic avarice right through to an intent to alter the entire economic and political order.
Let’s start with a simple example – the Alliance for Climate Protection, set up by Al Gore. It’s aim? ‘A three to five-year campaign to educate people from all walks of life that the climate crisis is both critically urgent and something we can solve.’ The Alliance is trying to get people to sign a seven-part pledge which requires countries and politicians to ‘join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90 per cent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy Earth.’ Apart from the ludicrous demand of 90% reductions in the West the pledge is not constrained by date or other specifics and hangs on the generalizations of ‘in time for the next generation’ and ‘a healthy Earth’. Exactly who appointed these people to be making decisions on behalf of those of us in democrat societies? More importantly, exactly how is the US or the Australian economy supposed to survive and grow if ‘global warming pollution’ is cut by 90% in a couple of decades at most?
Before we think these pledges are meaningless to our own lifestyles let’s note that the two most powerful Democrats in the United States signed up – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Mysteriously, there are no reports of Ms Pelosi and Mr Reid reducing their own emissions by 90% -- yet. And don’t hold your breath waiting.
Rocky Wood has been a freelance journalist for 30 years, and is based in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of four books and has published hundreds of articles in the US, Canada, the UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. September 17th, 2007
8. REFLECTIONS ON ACADEMIC LIFE
by Prof. Richard Pipes, noted historian and Sovietologist, in his autobiography, Vixi: Memoirs of a Non-Belonger (Yale University Press, 2003), pp. 91-92. They are precipitated by his achieving tenure at Harvard University in December 1957, almost exactly a half century ago.
Academic life is not all sweetness and light. Scholars are psychologically less secure than most people: by and large; once they pass the threshold of middle age they strike me as becoming restless. A businessman knows he is successful when he makes money; a politician, when he wins elections; an athlete, when he is first in sporting contests; a popular writer, when he produces best-sellers. But a scholar has no such fixed criteria by which to judge success and, as a consequence, he lives in a state of permanent uncertainty which grows more oppressive with age as ambitious younger scholars elbow themselves to the fore and dismiss his work as outdated.
His principal criterion of success is approval of peers. This means that he must cultivate them, which makes for conformity and "group think." Scholars are expected to cite one another approvingly, attend conferences, edit and contribute to collective symposia. Professional associations are designed to promote these objectives. Those who do not play by the rules or significantly depart from the consensus risk ostracism. A classic example of such ostracism is the treatment meted out to one of the outstanding economists and social theorists of the past century, Frederick von Hayek, whose uncompromising condemnation of economic planning and socialism caused him to be banished from the profession. He lived long enough to see his views prevail and his reputation vindicated by a Nobel Prize, but not everyone in this situation is as fortunate. Such behavior, observed also in animal communities, strengthens group cohesion and enhances the sense of security of its individual members, but it inhibits creativity.
What particularly disenchanted me about many academics was [the way they treated] a professorship not as a sacred trust but as a sinecure, much like the run-of-the-mill Protestant ministers in eighteenth- or nineteenth-century England who did not even pretend to believe. The typical academic, having completed and published his doctoral dissertation, will establish himself as an authority on the subject of his dissertation and for the remainder of his life write and teach on the same or closely related topics. The profession welcomes this kind of "expertise" and resents anyone who attempts to take a broader view of the field, because by so doing, he encroaches on its members' turf. Non-monographic, general histories are dismissed as "popular" and allegedly riddled with errors -- doubly so if they do not give adequate credit to the hordes who labor in the fields.
(September 20, 2007)