Vol. VIII, No. 4

Vol. VIII, No. 4

February 22, 2004

Politics

British Government Continues Attacks on U.S. on Climate Change

 

Following up his attacks on President Bush’s position on climate change (see last issue), Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to Her Majesty’s Government, addressed the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle on February 13.  Sir David did not repeat his assertion that global warming was “worse than terrorism,” but still called on the Bush administration to change its stance and provide global leadership to confront a very real threat.

 

London’s Independent commented (Feb. 16), “[Sir David] is speaking with the backing of the Prime Minister, who has decided that trying to make progress on tackling climate change should be a key priority when Britain both chairs the G8 group of the world's richest countries and holds the presidency of the European Union next year.

 

“His close adviser, Peter Mandelson, MP, said last week that Mr. Blair regarded climate change as a threat second only to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.  Downing Street sees differences on global warming as an opportunity to demonstrate that Mr. Blair is not Mr. Bush's ‘poodle’.  However, senior officials are worried that he will nevertheless fight shy of a direct personal confrontation with the President on the issue.”

 

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is pressing forward with its ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions.  Reuters reported (Feb. 18), “Carbon dioxide quotas for [power] generators, the main CO2 polluters [sic], would be 13.2 percent below the sector's average annual emissions in 1998-2002.  The offshore oil and gas industry, the second largest industrial polluter, would be required to cut its carbon emissions by 37.6 percent from levels in 1998-2002.”

 

The Reuters story ended with the interesting claim that, “The government has said it expects the power sector to bear the brunt of the CO2 cuts as it faces little international competition and can recoup the costs through higher electricity prices.”  In other words, consumers (including producers of manufactured goods) will actually bear the brunt of the cuts, not the power sector.

 

European Consensus on Kyoto Cracks Further

 

Finland has become the latest member of the European Union to deviate from the party line on the Kyoto Protocol, at least speculatively.  The Finnish news organization YLE reported February 18: “Trade and Industry Minister Mauri Pekkarinen commented on Saturday that Finland had taken on too much by signing up to the treaty.  Pekkarinen added that Finland would demand further talks on redistributing discharge levels more equally if the Kyoto treaty is not ratified in its current form.  Finland is already committed to the preliminary stage of the deal from 2005 to 2007.”

 

However, Pekkarinen felt it necessary to deny suggestions that he had suggested Finland should withdraw from the treaty.  Helsingen Sanomat reported (Feb. 18), “Pekkarinen roundly denied that he had said anything of the sort, commenting that his only message had been that emission rights trading was to start and that Finland is preparing itself for this.

 

“Nevertheless, Pekkarinen does support the idea that if the treaty is not ratified in its present form in the near future, Finland should become more active within the European Union to seek a renegotiation of the accord and the more equitable distribution of discharge levels.

 

“‘The entire world should be on board, and not merely the countries that generate 15% of the emissions.  But even this is a matter of negotiations, and not of wriggling out’, stressed Pekkarinen….  There has been concern among Finnish industry representatives recently that the implementation of the reduction in emissions required by Kyoto will noticeably increase energy prices.  Pekkarinen himself has earlier commented that in his view Finland may have taken on an overly ambitious commitment to reduce emissions when these matters were decided within the EU in 1997.”

 

Junk Science Group Accuses Bush Administration of Suppressing Junk Science

 

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a $9 million leftist pressure group dedicated to alarming the public with junk science, has issued a report that strongly condemns the Bush administration for distorting science in many areas, including climate change.  At the same time, UCS released a statement titled “Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking” signed by sixty leading scientists, including twenty Nobel Prize winners.

 

There is nothing new in the report, which merely repeats accusations of political “censorship” of the EPA’s State of the Environment report last year, which found that environmental quality in the U. S. was improving in most areas.  It claims that Soon et al.’s work on the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period had been “discredited.”  By contrast, it bewails President Bush’s disparaging remarks about the administration’s Climate Action Report 2002 that relies on models to predict regional climate impacts that are no more accurate than tables of random numbers by the admission of one of the authors.

 

No mention is made of the administration’s use or lack of use of the Federal Data Quality Act, which requires that information disseminated by the federal government must meet minimal standards of objectivity.  The administration settled a suit brought by the Competitive Enterprise Institute against the National Assessment (which is the basis for key parts of Climate Action Report 2002) by admitting that the assessment had not been subjected to data quality standards.

 

The report and statement are available at http://www2.ucsusa.org/global_environment/rsi/index.cfm.  Anyone may become a “concerned scientist” by sending $25 to UCS.

 

Economics

 

Big Utility Expects Caps on Emissions

 

Despite the domino-like collapse of the international consensus on Kyoto, American Electric Power (AEP) announced February 16 that it expected emissions caps to be imposed in America at some point.

 

According to Reuters, “‘We don't expect Kyoto timeframes to be enforced in the United States but we do expect international consensus on this issue (CO2 emissions) will prevail in the United States,’ Susan Tomasky, chief financial officer at AEP told a conference.

 

“Proposals by some states in the Northeast to curb CO2 emissions were impractical but were a sign of pressure mounting on the United States to do more to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, Tomasky said.  ‘The difficulty is where the emissions are and where the regulatory push is.  In the Midwest where most coal-fired plants are, regulators don't want anything to do with (Kyoto),’ she said.  ‘This is not a local problem.  You can't address it on a state basis.’”

 

AEP is one of the world’s largest producers of carbon dioxide emissions and has long hoped to profit from credits for switching from coal-fired power plants to gas turbines.

 

Time to Move On from Kyoto - World Energy Council

 

Claiming that the Kyoto Protocol had served its purpose by raising awareness, but was now irrelevant, the World Energy Council has called for different approaches to the emissions issue.

 

Reuters reported (Feb. 12), “The Kyoto climate treaty is irrelevant and it is time to move on and boost investment in reliable, clean energy for the future, although prices will rise, a leading international energy official said on Thursday.  World Energy Council Secretary General Gerald Doucet said he doubted the Kyoto pact would ever come into effect, with Russia and Australia unlikely to ratify the treaty that aims to cut the emission of gases causing global warming by 5.2 percent by 2012.

 

“‘Kyoto has served a political purpose but, in reality, will make no difference to actual levels of greenhouse gas emissions,’ Doucet said in an interview with Reuters.…  The focus in energy markets since the last world congress three years ago had shifted from environmental concerns, and ensuring reliability and access to energy supplies from 2010 to 2030 was now the main issue….  Setting arbitrary targets was misguided, said Doucet, ruling out another world climate treaty along the lines of Kyoto and calling for international partnerships on clean technology such as the 15-nation ‘Carbon Capture Sequestration Leadership Forum’.”

 

Wind Farms Reduce Property Values

 

A court in the United Kingdom has ruled that wind farms reduce the value of nearby properties owing to their excessive noise pollution.

 

A couple who had bought a house close to the site of a since-built wind farm without being informed of the plans were awarded over $25,000 in damages as a result-one-eighth of the value of the property.  The Daily Telegraph reported (Feb. 14), “The district judge explained that he arrived at [a figure for damages] by listening to the arguments of chartered surveyors employed by both sides and concluding that the wind farm reduced the value of Poaka Beck House by 20 percent.  In 1997, the property would have been worth £150,000, had there been no plans for a wind farm, he ruled.  Had the farm been in place at that time, on the other hand, the property would have been worth only £120,000.  As Barry and Gillian had paid £132,500, they were entitled to £12,500 in damages plus interest, bringing the total to £15,000.

 

“The case has important repercussions because the wind-farm industry has argued for some time that turbines do not devalue homes.  Indeed, until recently the website of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) stated, under the heading ‘Top 10 myths about wind farms’, that ‘the proximity of a wind energy development does not adversely affect property prices.’”

 

Science

 

Case for Greenhouse Gas Forcing Suffers Further Blow

 

In an article in the March Scientific American, James Hansen, father of global warming alarmism (along with then-Senator Al Gore, Jr.), implicitly acknowledges that climate models have failed to reflect accurately what is causing the small warming trend recently observed.

 

Hansen summarizes, “Human-made forces, especially greenhouse gases, soot and other small particles, now exceed natural forces, and the world has begun to warm at a rate predicted by climate models.”

 

This would surely qualify as validation of the climate models if the models included all the forcings Hansen claims.  In fact, as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made clear, most climate models rely primarily on greenhouse gas forcings and include little or no estimate for the other forcings Hansen now considers so important.  In other words, if the Earth is warming at a rate predicted by the models, this is more coincidence than anything else is, because the models clearly overestimated the effect of greenhouse gas forcings.

 

Underlining the greater importance of other factors, Richard Somerville (a professor of meteorology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and the organizer of a symposium on aerosols at the AAAS meeting in Seattle, titled "Our Hazy Atmosphere: Aerosols and Climate”) announced in a press release, “It has become clear that local effects on the heat budget from aerosols can be substantially larger than those from greenhouse gases.  I believe we are at a very early stage of understanding the effect of aerosols….  Aerosols come from all kinds of sources: dust blown off the Sahara by wind, particles emitted from smokestacks, gas from volcanoes.  There are many, many complicated interactions with aerosols that we are just beginning to learn about.”

 

More Problems with Hockey Stick

 

To add to the problems surrounding the failure to reproduce the long-term historical data in the “hockey stick” graph on which much of global warming alarmism depends (see last few issues), new questions have been raised about the end of the curve (the “blade” of the hockey stick).

 

Writing in Geographical Research Letters (Feb. 14), Willie Soon, David Legates, and Sallie Baliunas found that they were unable to reproduce exactly the extremely sharp upturn depicted in the IPCC graph using any of three standard methods for analyzing trend data.  While they still found an upturn, their analysis found a difference of around 0.25° C., which appeared to be at least in part due to “unjustified data-padding.”

 

The inventor of the hockey stick, Michael Mann, responded by launching an ad hominem attack on Willie Soon (UPI, Jan. 26): “‘The researcher has produced very poor work in the past, and isn't taken seriously in the climate community,’ Mann told UPI.  ‘This sounds like another in their installation of just bad work.’  He added: ‘I'm amazed this paper got into print.  They don't even try to determine what method we used….  Our method was described in more detail in other papers.’”

 

Etc.

 

Hoffa Says Kerry Will Drill for Oil “All Over the United States”

 

The Teamsters Union has endorsed Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) for president.  On February 18, Chris Matthews interviewed Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. on Hardball and asked him about Kerry’s votes against oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the Teamsters’ top legislative goals.  Here is an excerpt from the interview:

 

MATTHEWS: How about ANWR?  You guys want to see ANWR because you want to see guys working in your business.  I guess there‘s a lot of Teamsters jobs up there lined up and organized, if you could put a pipeline up to the Alaska wilderness.  He [Kerry] is against that.

HOFFA: Well, we talked about that….  He says, look, I am against ANWR, but I am going to put that pipeline in and we‘re going to drill like never before….

MATTHEWS: But he is against drilling up there.  What are they going to run through the pipeline?

HOFFA: Well, they are going to drill all over, according to him.  And he says, we‘re going to be drilling all over the United States.  And he says that is going to create more jobs….

MATTHEWS: It just seems amazing that he has turned around on NAFTA, turned around on WTO, turned around on ANWR, anything to get the Teamsters.

HOFFA: Oh.

 

This excerpt has been tidied up to remove crosstalk.  The full interview transcript is available on the MSNBC site at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4302564.  The League of Conservation Voters has also endorsed Senator Kerry for president.

 

THE COOLER HEADS COALITION

 

Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

Americans for Tax Reform

American Legislative Exchange Council

American Policy Center

Association of Concerned Taxpayers

Center for Security Policy

Citizens for a Sound Economy

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Consumer Alert

Defenders of Property Rights

Frontiers of Freedom

George C. Marshall Institute

Heartland Institute

Independent Institute

JunkScience.com

National Center for Policy Analysis

National Center for Public Policy Research

Pacific Research Institute

Seniors Coalition

60 Plus Association

Small Business Survival Committee