Saturday, May 17, 2008


An email from Allan MacRae (Allan M. R. MacRae is a professional engineer, investment banker and environmentalist. He HAS worked for oil companies so bigots need read no further. Questioning the facts he presents would be far too difficult, obviously)

Climate is a complicated subject. However, we now know enough to be reasonably certain that man-made CO2 is NOT a significant or dangerous driver of global warming. Here some key facts:

Since ~1940 there has been a 900% INCREASE in human-made CO2 emissions and NO net global warming, as measured by our most reliable instrumentation. The average Lower Troposphere (LT) global temperature anomaly for January-April 2008 (inclusive) is +0.02 degrees C. There has been no net LT warming since ~1980, when such measurements began. We also know that global surface temperature (ST) declined slightly from ~1940 to ~1980.

We further know that CO2 lags temperature (CO2 trends occur after temperature trends) at all measured time scales.

This evidence leads to the following conclusions: Increased atmospheric CO2 is NOT a significant driver of global warming, and catastrophic human-made global warming does NOT exist.

The public is becoming aware of these facts - the recent electoral defeat of Ken Livingstone by Boris Johnson for Mayor of London is clear evidence of this shift in public awareness.


The proportion of Americans who say that the earth is getting warmer has decreased modestly since January 2007, mostly because of a decline among Republicans, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

That puts most Republicans at odds with their standard-bearer, President George W. Bush, and with GOP presidential contender Sen. John McCain. Both men said this week global warming is real and must be addressed. Republicans are increasingly skeptical that there is solid evidence that the earth has been warming over the past few decades, the survey found. In January 2007, 62 percent said they believed the evidence, compared to 49 percent in the new Pew findings. Pew found that self-described conservative Republicans are more likely than party moderates or liberals to reject the science. Overall, 71 percent of Americans say there is solid evidence of higher global temperatures, compared with 77 percent at the beginning of last year. Fewer than half in the survey -- 47 percent -- attribute the rising temperatures to human activity.

Age played a role in opinions, Pew said. Fifty-four percent of people under age 30 believe that the earth is warming mostly because of human activity, compared with 37 percent of those ages 65 and older. Fifty-one percent of college graduates said that human activity is causing global warming, compared to 43 percent of those with a high-school-level education. Republican leaders this week sided with the scientists.

More here

Is nitrogen the new carbon?

One of the key causes of global climate change remains something of an unsung eco-villain, one University of Virginia researcher believes. In a study to be published in today's issue of the journal Science, UVa environmental scientist James N. Galloway argues that reactive nitrogen is accumulating in the planet's soil, water and air at an alarming rate. "Excessive reactive nitrogen is causing a negative environmental impact, which can be detrimental to humans and to ecosystems," Galloway said.

The volume of reactive nitrogen being pumped into the environment has accelerated in recent years. During 1995, roughly 156 million metric tons of nitrogen were emitted worldwide. By 2005, that figure had jumped to 187 million. "We have a nitrogen issue," he said.

In its inert form, nitrogen is essentially harmless. It makes up around 78 percent of the planet's atmosphere. Yet the widespread use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and the burning of fossil fuels have created large amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds, such as ammonia. These compounds are contributing to global warming, atmospheric ozone depletion, smog, haze, soil acidity, acid rain, fish kills, insect kills and respiratory ailments, Galloway said.

On one hand, nitrogen is inarguably a good thing, Galloway said, because it allows farmers to grow crops on a large scale. On the other hand, around 85 percent of the nitrogen used in farming is wasted. Only 10 percent to 15 percent of the reactive nitrogen used in food production ever enters a human's mouth. The excess nitrogen is lost to the environment and emitted into the atmosphere. "We found that we're making more reactive nitrogen than ever before," said Alan Townsend, co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Colorado. "A lot of that is driven by our increasing agriculture demands."

One culprit is China's growing taste for meat, which echoes America's long-standing love affair with beef and pork. Raising cows and pigs produces substantially more reactive nitrogen than does raising crops such as soybeans or vegetables. "Just by cutting back on your steak and pork chop consumption, you're reducing your nitrogen footprint," Galloway said.

Galloway is the founding director of the International Nitrogen Initiative, which seeks to optimize the use of nitrogen in food production while minimizing the negative effects on human health and the environment. After five years, he stepped down from the position Thursday.

Last month, Galloway was a co-winner of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, which is essentially the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the fields of environmental science, energy and health. His development of the "nitrogen cascade" - a model that demonstrates how nitrogen cycles through and affects the environment - was noted as a key reason he was selected.

Galloway is using his share of the $200,000 prize to develop an online tool that will allow people to calculate their nitrogen footprint. Similar calculators exist on the Internet for people to see the size of their carbon footprint. Individually, people can reduce their nitrogen footprint by driving less, eating locally produced food and by eating dairy, chicken and fish instead of pork and beef. "When it comes to food, the three key words to remember are local, organic and less meat," he said.

Personal changes will not be enough, Galloway said, to protect the environment. Systemic changes will also be needed. New technology will be needed for food production so excessive reactive nitrogen is not produced. Coal-fired power plants will need to be fitted with scrubbing technology. Sewage treatment facilities need to ensure that a minimal amount of nitrogen is discharged.

Harrison Rue, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and a member of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's advisory panel on climate change, said he is eager to see Galloway's recommendations. "We're looking forward to seeing his study," he said. Rue added that he suspects many of the strategies that aim to curtail carbon dioxide emissions will also cut down on reactive nitrogen. He praised UVa and other Virginia universities for tackling research that could help prevent the dire predictions associated with climate change.

The new study is notable because it shows that nitrogen is not just polluting the Chesapeake Bay, but is also affecting the environment as a whole, said Josh Tulkin, deputy director of the nonprofit Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "It's rather disconcerting," he said. "It should be a wake-up call that even more human activity is contributing to climate change."

Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality is working to curtail discharges from sewage treatment plants across the state and to protect air quality, spokesman Bill Hayden said. The "next frontier" for the DEQ, he said, will be to address agricultural use of nitrogen. "Nitrogen is a chemical that affects, in one way or another, the air, the land and the water of Virginia," he said.



On May Day, Noah Keenlyside of Germany's Leipzig Institute of Marine Science, published a paper in Nature forecasting no additional global warming "over the next decade."

Al Gore and his minions continue to chant that "the science is settled" on global warming, but the only thing settled is that there has not been any since 1998. Critics of this view (rightfully) argue that 1998 was the warmest year in modern record, due to a huge El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean, and that it is unfair to start any analysis at a high (or a low) point in a longer history. But starting in 2001 or 1998 yields the same result: no warming.

The Keenlyside team found that natural variability in the Earth's oceans will "temporarily offset" global warming from carbon dioxide. Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is oceanic; hence, what happens there greatly influences global temperature. It is now known that both Atlantic and Pacific temperatures can get "stuck," for a decade or longer, in relatively warm or cool patterns. The North Atlantic is now forecast to be in a cold stage for a decade, which will help put the damper on global warming. Another Pacific temperature pattern is forecast not to push warming, either.

Science no longer provides justification for any rush to pass drastic global warming legislation. The Climate Security Act, sponsored by Joe Lieberman and John Warner, would cut emissions of carbon dioxide - the main "global warming" gas - by 66 percent over the next 42 years. With expected population growth, this means about a 90 percent drop in emissions per capita, to 19th-century levels.

Other regulatory dictates are similarly unjustified. The Justice Department has ruled that the Interior Department has until May 15 to decide whether or not to list the polar bear as an endangered species.

Pressure to pass impossible-to-achieve legislation, like Lieberman-Warner, or grandstanding political stunts, like calling polar bears an "endangered species" even when they are at near record-high population levels, are based upon projections of rapid and persistent global warming.

Proponents of wild legislation like to point to the 2007 science compendium from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, deemed so authoritative it was awarded half of last year's Nobel Peace Prize. (The other half went to Al Gore.) In it there are dozens of computer-driven projections for 21st-century warming. Not one of them projects that the earth's natural climate variability will shut down global warming from carbon dioxide for two decades. Yet, that is just what has happened.

If you think about it, all we possess to project the future of complex systems are computer models. Therefore, if the models that serve as the basis for policy do not work - and that must be the conclusion if indeed we are at the midpoint of a two-decade hiatus in global warming - then there is no verifiable science behind the current legislative hysteria.

What does this mean for the future? If warming is "temporarily offset" for two decades, does all the "offset" warming suddenly appear with a vengeance, or is it delayed?

Computer models, like the one used by Keenlyside, et al., rely on "positive feedbacks" to generate much of their warming. First, atmospheric carbon dioxide warms things up a bit. Then the ocean follows, raising the amount of atmospheric water vapor, which is a greater source of global warming than carbon dioxide. When the ocean does not warm up, it seems that the additional warming is also delayed. All of this may mean that we have simply overestimated the amount of warming that results from increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

That final point has been a subject of debate for a long time. Several recent publications in the peer-reviewed literature argue that observed changes in temperature show the "sensitivity" of temperature to increasing carbon dioxide is lower than earlier estimates. All of this suggests a 21st-century warming trend that will be lower than the average value calculated by the climate models in the IPCC compendium.

But who really knows? Before Keenlyside dropped his bombshell, few scientists would have said publicly that global warming could stop for two decades. Anyone raising that possibility would doubtlessly have been treated to the smug reply that "the science is settled," and that only the most bumptious ignoramus could raise such a question.

One final prediction: The teeming polar bear population will be listed as "endangered," and in the next year or two, Congress will pass a bill mandating large and impossible cuts in carbon dioxide. What is "settled" is the politics, not the science.


The McCainiac

After the coldest April in 11 years, John McCain offers a "market friendly" approach to global warming - saying we "have a genius for adapting, solving problems." But shouldn't the problems be real? McCain is the last politician we'd accuse of pandering. His honesty, steadfastness and independence have earned him the right to call his campaign the Straight Talk Express. So we were disappointed when, at an Oregon wind turbine manufacturer on Monday, he seemed to embrace the shaky environmentalist position on global warming. Saying the costs of our reliance on fossil fuels "have added up now in the atmosphere, in the oceans and all across the natural world," he proposed that by 2050, the U.S. should reduce CO2 emissions to a level 60% below that emitted in 1990. The question is, why?

Cold water was thrown on the climate-change disaster hypothesis by the National Climate Data Center's recent announcement that last month was the coldest April in more than a decade and the 29th coolest since record keeping began 114 years ago. The average temperature was 1 degree cooler than the average April temperature of the entire 20th century.

A few weeks ago, as North America was emerging from one of its coldest and snowiest winters in decades, the climate center issued a statement saying that snow cover on the Eurasian land mass had been the most extensive ever recorded, and that this March had been only the 63rd warmest since 1895.

On April 24, the World Wildlife Fund published a study, based on last September's data, showing that Arctic ice had shrunk from 13 million square kilometers to just 3 million. What the WWF omitted was that by March the Arctic ice had recovered to 14 million square kilometers and that the ice cover around the Bering Strait and Alaska was at the highest level ever recorded.

In fact, the United States already leads the world in both energy efficiency per unit of GDP and control of CO2 emissions. We recently pointed out that, according to the 2008 Index of Leading Economic Indicators, U.S. emissions grew by 6.6% from 1997 to 2004, vs. 18% for the world as a whole and 21.1% for those nations that signed the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases.

The U.S. reduced carbon emissions from natural gas and petroleum by 1.7% and 1.5% from 2005 to 2006 and coal emissions by 0.9%. Energy intensity (energy consumed per dollar of real GDP) fell more than 4% as total energy declined 0.9% and the U.S. economy expanded 3.3%.

We were pleased that McCain endorsed nuclear power as a pollution-free source of energy that can help us toward energy independence while reducing emissions. But the fact is that we will need more energy, not less, by 2050, from all sources. Both economic and technological growth will demand more. The nation that first split the atom should first stop splitting hairs and revive nuclear power. We should also be taking more American oil out of our soil. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal. McCain is right about our ability to solve problems. The nation that put men on the moon can find a way to burn coal cleanly.

We definitely should not subsidize burning food in our gas tanks. McCain heroically opposed ethanol subsidies in 2000, running third in the Iowa caucuses, and he rightly opposes them today. And we have nothing against wind and solar, if they are economically competitive.

Our needs for more energy and less reliance on foreign sources are both real and solvable. Global warming is debatable, both as to its causes and its effects. By taking the lead on domestic energy, McCain could help solve a real problem and make a clear distinction between himself and his head-in-the-tundra opponents.


"Smart Growth" Bullies

By Tibor R. Machan

It is nearly impossible these days to escape the bullies who are set to run everyone's life. I thought I would visit friends on the Central California Coast to get away from it all for a day but no such luck. No sooner did I settle in with my friends to drink a glass or two of some very fine wine from their and some other cellars, I encountered yet another horror story about the demise of private property rights in the United States of America.

This time it isn't the eminent domain bullies who have been popping up everywhere, insisting on misconstruing the Fifth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution as authorizing transfer of private property by government edict to preferred private concerns. (That is what the outrageous Supreme Court Ruling in 2005, Kelo v. City of New London Connecticut sanctioned.) This time the excuse is a legal fiction called "Smart Growth," whereby powerful politicians everywhere are forcibly imposing their vision of how people should live and use their own land.

In San Luis Obispo and Grover Beach two elected blokes, John Shoals and Bruce Gibson, actually laid out their ill conceived idea in an Op Ed piece for the local newspaper. In it they announce that "As elected representatives . we have spent countless hours considering and planning for the future of our communities."

We can just stop here before continuing with this because already the two politicians manage to show their dirty hands. In a free society it isn't elected representatives who plan for the future of any community. (It isn't, by the way, "their" community, although I guess that is how such bullies like to understand matters.) In a free society it is individual citizens, who have unalienable rights to their lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness--which includes private property rights--who make those plans, alone or in various voluntary associations. It is those who have honestly acquired land, for example, who decide what happens to the land, barring only such actions that violate others' rights.

What gave America its unique character and reputation as a free country is just that politicians here are duty bound to "secure our rights," not to plan how we will exercise them. Smart planners--which, of course, is a grossly question begging label to being with--do not want to acknowledge the fact that they are would be dictators who aren't concerned about the rights of members of the communities in which they serve as public officials. No, smart planners view the community as theirs to order about, as a playground for their own experiments, following their agenda instead of making it possible, as honest public servants in a free society should, for the citizenry to carry out its highly diverse peaceful objectives.

Misters Shoal and Gibson go on to demonstrate how ignorant they are about the principles of a free society when they say, "We believe that smart growth principles are not just fashionable ideas; they are essential values that we must implement to remain a vital and functional place to live [sic]."

It isn't smart growth principles that are essential in a free society but the principles identified and laid out by the American Founders and Framers. Among these is the right to private property which, as the Fifth Amendment makes clear, prohibits the taking of land from individuals except if some bona fide public purpose is involved, such as building a court house or police station or military base.

Carving up other people's property so as to suit the vision of a few "elected representatives" is not among the tasks of politicians in a free society! It is decidedly not a public purposes but one imposed on the public by a few zealots who think they have some divine right to make others conform to their ideas and ideals. Basically, those who have a vision pertaining to the way land should be used in a community have several peaceful, civilized options in a free country: They are free to buy the land themselves. They can form a corporation with others and purchase the land that way. They can persuade the owners of the land they are interested in fashioning after their own vision.

Of course, choosing any of these options will be more difficult than simply forcibly taking the land from others. But then all criminals think that way, don't they--earning what they are after is troublesome, so coercively taking it from those who own it is their easy path to achieving their objectives. Sadly these days such legally perpetrated crimes are beginning to be a norm. But this is a vicious undermining of the principles--the true essential ones--of a country in which all citizens are supposed to have their rights safeguarded. And especially so when those sworn to do the safeguarding are the perpetrators of the crimes.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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