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Vol. IV, No. 17

Cooler Heads Digest

Title

Vol. IV, No. 17

The Candidates and the Platforms

 

The Kyoto Protocol and global warming are not, or at least not yet, shaping up as major issues in the presidential campaign.  Republican nominee George W. Bush didn’t mention them in his acceptance speech.  Democratic nominee Albert A. Gore, Jr. said this: “On the issue of the environment, I’ve never given up, I’ve never backed down, and I never will.  And I say it again tonight: we must reverse the silent, rising tide of global warming.”

 

The 2000 Republican Party Platform contains a long section on the environment, natural resources, property rights, federal lands, energy, agriculture, and transportation.  Included is one paragraph on Kyoto: “As environmental issues become increasingly international, progress will increasingly depend on strong and credible presidential leadership. Complex and contentious issues like global warming call for a far more realistic approach than that of the Kyoto Conference. Its deliberations were not based on the best science; its proposed agreements would be ineffective and unfair inasmuch as they do not apply to the developing world; and the current administration is still trying to implement it, without authority of law. More research is needed to understand both the cause and the impact of global warming. That is why the Kyoto treaty was repudiated in a lopsided, bipartisan Senate vote. A Republican president will work with businesses and with other nations to reduce harmful emissions through new technologies without compromising America's sovereignty or competitiveness -- and without forcing Americans to walk to work.”

 

The 2000 Democratic Party platform gets a little more purple rhetorically: “And we must dramatically reduce climate-disrupting and health-threatening pollution in this country, while making sure that all nations of the world participate in this effort. Environmental standards should be raised throughout the world in order to preserve the Earth and to prevent a destructive race to the bottom wherein countries compete for production and jobs based on who can do the least to protect the environment. There will be no new bureaucracies, no new agencies, no new organizations. But there will be action and there will be progress. The Earth truly is in the balance - and we are the guardians of that harmony. 

 

“Eight of the ten hottest years ever recorded have occurred during the past ten years. Scientists predict a daunting range of likely effects from global warming. Much of Florida and Louisiana submerged underwater. More record floods, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires. Diseases and pests spreading to new areas. Crop failures and famines. Melting glaciers, stronger storms, and rising seas. These are not Biblical plagues. They are the predicted result of human actions. They can be prevented only with a new set of human actions - big choices and new thinking.”

Economics

 

Airlines Become Top Kyoto Target

 

The British government has promised to push for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by air travel, according to an August 6 article in the Observer of London.  The pledge comes in response to a report released to the public on August 15 by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which describes itself as “Britain’s leading centre-left think tank.”

 

The IPPR report, “Plane Trading,” says that commercial air travel produces 15 times more carbon dioxide emissions per passenger mile than bus travel and twice more than passenger trains.  This makes airlines the “most environmentally damaging method of transport in the world,” according to the Observer.

 

Chris Hewlett, co-author of the report, was quoted in an August 15 Reuters story as saying  that, “Incorporating aviation emissions into emissions trading is the most feasible solution to the problem and would probably deliver the best environmental result.” (Short of banning air travel for the unprivileged, of course.) 

 

The IPPR recommends that airlines should be given a fixed and declining number of emissions allowances.  Thus airline passengers would indirectly pay for offsetting emissions reductions made in other industries.           

 

Dairy Cows Under Threat

 

Reports have begun to trickle out of Australia about another serious economic threat posed by potential global warming.  According to a study conducted by Dr. Robert Jones of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Atmospheric Research Centre in Victoria, hot dairy cows produce less milk than cooler cows. 

 

The study of high-yield dairy herds in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales shows that dairy cows left out in the sun produced approximately 230 liters (or 3%) less milk per year than cows kept under shelter.  These losses could mount up to 310 litres per year by 2030 as global warming gets a grip on the island-continent down under.

 

Dr. Jones told the Australian Associated Press (August 18) that using shade sheds and sprinklers could reduce these losses to 50 to 90 litres per cow per year.  Such measures will become increasingly cost effective as temperatures soar.

 

Science

 

Hansen Cooks Up New Scenario

 

NASA’s Dr. James E. Hansen has stirred the global warming pot once again.  In an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hansen and his four NASA co-authors estimate that most of the global warming observed in recent decades has been caused, not by carbon dioxide emissions (!), but by increasing levels of other greenhouse gases.  These include methane, chloro-fluorocarbons, and various soots.

 

Based on this new finding, the authors propose an “alternative, more optimistic scenario” to the conventional wisdom that “‘30 Kyotos’ may be needed to reduce warming to an acceptable level.”  They suggest focusing efforts on reducing these other greenhouse gas emissions in the short term.  This would slow the rate of global warming more quickly and cheaply than by reducing carbon dioxide emissions alone.

 

Hansen’s pronouncements carry a great deal of weight.  A respected scientist, he directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  His dramatic testimony before a Senate committee began the global warming scare in 1988.  Last year, he confessed openly and honestly—to the chagrin of many global warming propagandists—that, “The science is not converging.”  The article may be found at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.170278997.

 

Journalistic Meltdown Hits NY Times

 

Top of the page.  Two columns.  Left side.  In a box.  With a color photo.  Headline: “Ages Old Icecap at North Pole Is Now Liquid, Scientists Find.”

 

The New York Times scooped the National Enquirer on August 19 with news that the Arctic ice cap has melted at the North Pole.  The story by John Noble Wilford began, “The North Pole is melting.”  The second paragraph claimed that, “The last time scientists can be certain the pole was awash in water was more than 50 million years ago.”

 

The shocking story, which will undoubtedly be repeated as gospel for years by environmental cranks, was apparently based on a press release put out by James J. McCarthy, director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.  McCarthy is also co-author of one chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forthcoming Third Assessment Report.

 

McCarthy saw blue water at the North Pole while serving as a lecturer on a Russian cruise ship in early August.  He said that the Russian captain told him that he had never seen open water at the pole in ten previous voyages.  (Presumably these go back 50 million years.)

 

A fellow cruise lecturer, Malcolm C. McKenna, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, told the Times that, “I don’t know if anybody in history ever got to 90 degrees north to be greeted by water, not ice.”  McKenna provided the photo that the Times ran.

 

Apparently the Times published the story without first checking with any polar experts or even with anyone with common sense.  Experts were uniformly dismissive and scoffing in their comments.  Dr. Peter Wadhams, director of the Scott Polar Institute at Cambridge University, told the Times of London that, “Claims that the North Pole is now ice-free for the first time in 50 million years is complete rubbish, absolute nonsense.”

 

Ian Allison, a glaciologist with the Australian Antarctic Division, told the Australian that open water at the North Pole was highly unusual, but that global warming was not involved.  Instead, he explained that ocean currents pack and break apart huge ice sheets with vast force.

 

S. Fred Singer, president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, wrote, “I am a veteran of two Arctic expeditions with the US Navy, and I can testify that icebreakers always search for leads to make their way through the ice.  After a long summer of 24-hour days it is not unusual to find open leads all over the place, especially after strong winds break up the winter ice.”

 

Patrick Michaels, climatologist at the University of Virginia, told National Review Online that temperature records show no Arctic summer warming for the past 70 years. 

 

Although ABC News picked up the story hook, line, and sinker, even National Public Radio expressed doubt.  It noted that the ice sheet often breaks apart and open water appears.  

 

Announcement

 

Exploring the Science of Climate Change by Kenneth Green has just been published by the Reason Public Policy Institute. The 32-page “Plain English Guide” may be downloaded free of charge at http://www.rppi.org/pegcentral.html.

 

THE COOLER HEADS COALITION

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