Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hugo Chavez understands what the AGW movement is about

Venezuelan thug-in-chief Hugo Chavez is never one to mince words. While the more polished spokespeople for AGW alarmism in the U.S., Canada and Europe will never admit that the policy prescriptions of the AGW movement are virtually indistinguishable from the policy prescriptions of the world socialist movement, Chavez is more than happy to make the connection. The following is an excerpt from a speech he made at the World Festival of Youth and Students in August, 2005, as reported in GreenLeft Online:
I believe it is time that we take up with courage and clarity a political, social, collective and ideological offensive across the world — a real offensive that permits us to move progressively, over the next years, the next decades, leaving behind the perverse, destructive, destroyer, capitalist model and go forward in constructing the socialist model to avoid barbarism and beyond that the annihilation of life on this planet.

I believe this idea has a strong connection with reality. I don’t think we have much time. Fidel Castro said in one of his speeches I read not so long ago, “tomorrow could be too late, let’s do now what we need to do”. I don't believe that this is an exaggeration. The environment is suffering damage that could be irreversible — global warming, the greenhouse effect, the melting of the polar ice caps, the rising sea level, hurricanes — with terrible social occurrences that will shake life on this planet.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Global warming can be a homewrecker

In recent years there have been numerous stories of large chunks of ice falling from a clear sky. AP reports today that it happened again July 26 in Dubuque, Iowa, where a chunk that may have weighed 50 pounds crashed through the roof of a woman's house.

In the past, media coverage has focused on the likelihood that such ice chunks originate from an airplane (either accumulated on the outside of the craft, or ejected from the lavatories), but now a more sinister suspect is starting to ooze into the reporting. We get an early warning in the second paragraph (emphasis added):
Authorities are unsure of the ice's origin but have theorized the chunks either fell from an airplane or naturally accumulated high in the atmosphere — both rare occurrences.
How can a 50-pound chunk of ice accumulate naturally in the atmosphere? What malevolent force can suspend ice long enough to grow that large on a clear day, when even the most violent of thunderstorms could never sustain the necessary updrafts?

You guessed it -- climate change!

Enter Dr. David Travis, expert on earthbound phenomena, but not necessarily atmospheric science:
David Travis, a professor of geography and geology and an associate dean at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, has studied the phenomenon of large chunks of ice falling from a clear sky. He said it's possible the ice could have been a megacryometeor — "similar to a hailstone, but without the thunderstorm."

[...] Most megacryometeor sightings have occurred in coastal areas, where atmospheric turbulence helps keep ice suspended long enough to grow into large chunks.

Travis' research team speculates the phenomenon could be linked with global warming, suggesting that climate change might make the tropopause portion of the atmosphere colder, moister and more turbulent.

A total guess, based on zero evidence, in other words.

Maybe I'm the one who's weak on the atmospheric science, so I'm open to being educated here. What kind of updraft is necessary to suspend an ice chunk of that weight, and how long must that updraft be sustained to allow the chunk to grow to that weight? Do such updrafts actually occur in nature?

One sense in which global warming IS man-made

John Brignell of Numberwatch:
When you are trying to troubleshoot an instrumentation system (whether it is in examining a PhD thesis or facing a major industrial crisis) there are, self-evidently, two vital areas you need to address:

1. The physical process of data acquisition
2. The computational process of Data handling

The central problem with data acquisition, now that data conversion is largely standardised through advances in electronics, is the housing and siting of sensors. Sometimes the problems are glaring, such as caking with mud or salt, but often they are more subtle and veiled. Particularly difficult are cases where instrumentation interacts with nearby systems (see appendix below for an example where an expensive court case was averted).

Data handling is an even greater problem, especially when “intuitive” or obscurely argued methods are implemented. Even if we discount the possibility of deliberate fraud, the power of the human subconscious to influence outcomes is a known but difficult to quantify hazard, especially in computer programs.

In considering data handling for climate monitoring in these terms, we now have the advantage of new information on siting and a description, though not a perspicuous one, of alterations made to original data.

We have long known that there have been examples of badly sited monitoring stations. The late John Daly showed seven years ago an example of bad siting, while, incidentally, raising the question of whether the surface record was as reliable as we were led to believe and proposing improvements of methodology. Daly’s analysis has not only stood the test of time, but has been vindicated by recent developments. The satellite record continues to show little or no change while the surface record shows what s alleged to be a continued rising trend.
Brignell shows two graphs displaying the difference between satellite and surface measurements in recent decades, and then goes on:
This is what John Daly wrote seven years ago about surface stations:
The only way surface data can be used with any confidence is to exclude all town/city and airport data - no exceptions. Only rural sites should be used, and by `rural’ is meant strictly `greenfields’ sites where there is no urbanisation of any kind near the instrument. Even when greenfields stations are used, those which are technically supervised (eg. managed by scientists, marine authorities, the military etc.) should be treated with greater credibility than those from sheep stations, post offices and remote motels.
As it turns out, the temperatures recorded by urbanized weather stations skew the surface averages enough to account for most of the claimed global temperature increase of the past century.

Brignell also demonstrates faults in the processing of the data.

So, in a sense, global warming really is man-made -- through man's faulty collection and processing of the critical data.


UPDATE: The American Association of State Climatologists, while apparently unconcerned about the physical location of weather stations, petitioned Congress in March to address the antiquated equipment and obsolete data collection techniques that plague America's weather station network.

(Thanks to JunkScience.com for the links)

There's gold in them thar offsets!

I had not heard of the comic Sherman's Lagoon before last week, but I already know I like their sense of humor. Here are selections from a series that ran from July 17 to 24. The reality is not far removed from what we see here:

(Click each image to enlarge)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

There's something familiar about that graph...

Thanks to Newsbusters, which today highlighted my Jack Bauer post, the visitor graph for this blog now looks like this (no, I won't embarrass myself by including the part showing the actual numbers):

(Click image to enlarge)

Hey! Using random data, I just reproduced the infamous "hockey stick"!

(Thanks to John-Daly.com. Click image to enlarge)

The feds want a piece of the carbon offset action

A July 25 AP story reports that the U.S. Forest Service is ready to take advantage of the environmental guilt of American citizens:
The U.S. Forest Service is teaming with a nonprofit foundation to allow consumers to participate in a voluntary program to "offset'' their carbon dioxide emissions.

Under the agreement to be announced Wednesday, the Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will allow individuals or groups to make charitable contributions that will be used to plant trees and do other work to improve national forests.

The Forest Service estimates that the nation's 155 national forests offset about 10 percent of carbon emissions in the United States. Forest Service scientists believe that figure can be raised to as much as 25 percent by doing such things as planting more trees in urban areas or reforesting old cropland.

I think reforestation is a worthy cause in and of itself -- totally apart from the global warming issue. If playing on people's guilt is the only way to raise the necessary money, then who am I to criticize?

The scourge of renewable energy

One of the mantras of the CoGW is that we must transition from a petroleum-based society to one based on renewable energy sources. We've already looked at the adverse environmental impact of the burgeoning ethanol market. Now, LiveScience reports on a new study which asks if we're really ready for the impact of other proposed renewable sources:
Renewable energy could wreck the environment, according to a study that examined how much land it would take to generate the renewable resources that would make a difference in the global energy system.

Building enough wind farms, damming adequate number of rivers and growing sufficient biomass to produce ample kilowatts to make a difference in meeting global energy demands would involve a huge invasion of nature, according to Jesse Ausubel, a researcher at the Rockefeller University in New York.

Ausubel came to this conclusion by calculating the amount of energy that each renewable source can produce in terms of area of land disturbed.

“We looked at the different major alternatives for renewable energies and we measured [the power output] for each of them and how much land it will rape,” Ausubel told LiveScience.

Land grab for energy

The results, published in the current issue of International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, paint a grim picture for the environment. For example, according to the study, in order to meet the 2005 electricity demand for the United States, an area the size of Texas would need to be covered with wind structures running round the clock to extract, store and transport the energy.

New York City would require the entire area of Connecticut to become a wind farm to fully power all its electrical equipment and gadgets.

You can convert every kilowatt generated directly into land area disturbed, Ausubel said. “The biomass or wind will produce one or two watts per square meter. So every watt or kilowatt you want for light bulbs in your house can be translated into your hand reaching out into nature taking land.”
What's interesting to me is that, according to the article, others have countered this reasoning with the argument that the land that must be set aside for such use is still awfully small compared to the total land mass of the U.S. I wonder if these are the same folks who scream murder because some shopping center will inconvenience some rare species of gnat.

Ausubel also opines that the most efficient non-polluting energy source -- nuclear -- would be far preferable to solar, wind, biomass or hydroelectric as a large-scale solution, since nuclear's carbon and overall environmental footprint is minimal. That opinion is sure to get him crossed off of the Sierra Club's (recycled) Christmas card list.

Oh, wait -- those credit cards are petroleum-based, aren't they?

From a July 25 Reuters story:
General Electric Co. issued a credit card on Wednesday it says will be the first to cut help U.S. cardholders voluntarily cut emissions linked to global warming.

The card, called GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum Mastercard, allows users the option of automatically contributing up to one percent of their card purchases to buy greenhouse emissions offsets.

In voluntary emissions markets, consumers who feel guilty about their greenhouse emissions can buy offsets, or credits, designed to represent emissions reductions that took place somewhere else, like a solar or wind power farm.

"Earth Rewards cardholders will now have a new tool to complement the ways they are already reducing their emissions," Tom Gentile, an executive at GE Money said in a release. "They can turn everyday purchases into extraordinary rewards."

GE's offset program will almost certainly lead to more consumption by environment-conscious customers, which will lead to more manufacturing of goods, which will lead to ... more emissions than there might have been without this program.

So... the customer's conscience is soothed, GE reaps the financial and P.R. rewards, and pollution increases. About par for the carbon offset industry.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Jack Bauer gets a new mission in upcoming season

Details are still sketchy, but certain clues have been leaked about the plotline of the upcoming season of the hit TV series 24. According to the anonymous source:
  • The administration of Wayne Palmer and Noah Daniels is out, and the new president is ideologically similar to Al Gore.
  • The definition of terrorism has been expanded to include actions by individuals, corporations or other organizations that "unnecessarily" increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • CTU, naturally, has been tasked with enforcing the new regulations in the Los Angeles area.
  • Early-season incidents include hero Jack Bauer kneecapping an SUV driver and interrogating a homeowner who failed to offset his air conditioner usage.
  • Midway through the season, Middle East radicals murder all of the students in a biological attack on an elementary school, but because the attackers manage to pull off their operation with a minimal carbon footprint, the incident ends up being left for local law enforcement to handle.
I have reason to believe that the information given above may not be entirely credible, but I do know that 24 -- producers, cast, crew -- has enthusiastically joined the CoGW. In a press release on the show's official website, we're told about all of the things that will be done to establish the show's green credentials:

Beginning with production on Season 7, “24” intends to implement the following carbon emission reduction techniques and important initiatives:

  • Introducing the use of biodiesel fuels to power generators and production vehicles;
  • Running all on-stage production activities on “green power”;
  • Rewiring an entire stage to use electric, rather than diesel-generated, power;
  • Integrating fuel-saving and low-emission hybrid vehicles into the production fleet;
  • Creating a series of PSAs about the issue starring Kiefer Sutherland and key cast members;
  • When appropriate, incorporating the issue of global warming and the importance of carbon emission reduction into storylines;
  • Accruing enough carbon reduction savings through these and other innovations to render production of the entire final episode officially “carbon neutral.”
How exciting! They'll even pretend to become carbon neutral via the scam of carbon offsets! No telling how they intend to offset the electricity expended by fans watching the show (seems like a bit of a conflict of interest there).

By the way, Kiefer Sutherland has already filmed an AGW public service announcement, and Fox helpfully links to it in the press release. In order to establish a tenuous link between the original premise of the show and the show's new crusade, Sutherland begins:
Global warming is a crime for which we are all guilty.
Get it? Crime? 24 is about criminal activity! Global warming is criminal! Got it. Jack Bauer is the perfect spokesman for the cause, then.

So, maybe the show won't drift as far as the scenario given at the beginning of this post, but given the ideological commitment of everyone involved in the show, I wouldn't be surprised if we see something like this in the near future.

(Thanks to Newsbusters: 1, 2)

Dick Armey's warning to politicians who cave to environmentalists

Former congressman Dick Armey, in a July 23 FreedomWorks.org press release criticizing Florida Governor Charlie Crist's decision to join California Gov. Schwarzenegger in swallowing the CoGW's agenda whole, warns:
Armey’s Axiom is “If you make a deal with the devil you are the junior partner.”
Gov. Crist, I hope you don't think your executive orders -- as destructive as they will be to Florida's economy -- have appeased the environmental left in the long run. They'll be back for more.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Britain's floods and the virtual reality of climate science

U.K.'s The Independent reported breathlessly today that the extraordinary flooding now underway in Britain is happening because George W. Bush withdrew the United States from the Kyoto Treaty.

Well, not really. I should really stop exaggerating like that. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if somewhere out there someone has blamed Bush for this.

What The Independent did report is the claim that "scientists" have "confirmed" a link between Britain's summer floods and "man-made global warming".

Let's look at the opening paragraphs of the article, which is riddled with superlatives:

It's official: the heavier rainfall in Britain is being caused by climate change, a major new scientific study will reveal this week, as the country reels from summer downpours of unprecedented ferocity.

More intense rainstorms across parts of the northern hemisphere are being generated by man-made global warming, the study has established for the first time ­ an effect which has long been predicted but never before proved.

The study's findings will be all the more dramatic for being disclosed as Britain struggles to recover from the phenomenal drenching of the past few days, during which more than a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours in some places, and floods forced thousands from their homes.

So, how were the scientists able to pin the blame so unambiguously on AGW? Not by the hopelessly old-fashioned method of empirical data collection and analysis, but through the use of -- you guessed it! -- computer simulations. Climate models -- which supposedly are not useful for predicting individual weather events (the article admits as much) -- allegedly yielded something akin to this summer's individual weather events when simulations both with and without greenhouse gases were run.

The article turns out to be quite confusing. In places we are confidently assured that AGW Did It, and then in other places the confidence wavers (emphasis added):
Meteorologists agree that the miserably wet British summer of 2007 has generally been caused by a southward shift towards Britain of the jetstream, the high-level airflow that brings depressions eastwards across the Atlantic. This is fairly normal. But debate is going on about whether climate change may be responsible for the intensity of the two freak rainfall episodes, which have caused flooding the like of which has never been seen in many places.
So, rainfall events enabled by a normal shift in the jet stream are now the fault of AGW because of "unprecedented" flooding that resulted. Remember, no empirical link has been established -- just computer simulations and human inferences.

The new study, carried out jointly by several national climate research institutes using their supercomputer climate models, including the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office, does not prove that any one event, including the rain of the past few days in Britain, is climate-change related.

But it certainly supports the idea, by showing that in recent decades rainfall has increased over several areas of the world, including the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, and linking this directly, for the first time, to global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

In other words, "It looks awfully like what we think might happen." More:
"Some people would argue that you can't take a single event and pin that on climate change, but what happened in Britain last Friday fits quite easily with these conclusions. It does seem to have a certain resonance with what they're finding in this research."
Yikes! This is what passes for the scientific method among adherents of the CoGW.

The study, to be published in the journal Nature later this week, may end up being a lot less sloppy than the reporting here presents it to be, but I'm not willing to bet money on that.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Martin Durkin, the Salman Rushdie of the AGW debate

Martin Durkin recently created a documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle, intended to be "the definitive response to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth". The film, first broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 in March, definitely appears to have struck a nerve among the CoGW faithful -- not quite to the point that they have actually issued a fatwa calling for his head, but it almost seems that way at times, given the vigorous reaction wherever it is shown.

When it was broadcast last week on Australia's ABC, the network felt compelled to inoculate the viewers against the arguments made in the film. Here is how Durkin himself described the situation in a July 21 Australian essay:
I wasn't shocked that the film was attacked on the same night it was broadcast on ABC television last week, although I was impressed at the vehemence of the attack. I was more surprised, and delighted, by the response of the Australian public.

The ABC studio assault, led by Tony Jones, was so vitriolic it appears to have backfired. We have been inundated with messages of support, and the ABC, I am told, has been flooded with complaints. I have been trying to understand why.

[...] I think viewers may also have wondered (reasonably) why the theory of global warming has not been subjected to this barrage of critical scrutiny by the media. After all, it's the theory of global warming, not my foolish little film, that is turning public and corporate policy on its head.

The apparent unwillingness of Jones and others at the ABC to give airtime to a counterargument, the tactics used to minimise the ostensible damage done by the film, the evident animosity towards those who questioned global warming: all of this served to give viewers a glimpse of what it was like for scientists who dared to disagree with the hallowed doctrine.

The final sentence above raises an important point. There are many, many competent scientists out there who strongly disagree with the AGW orthodoxy, but who are unwilling to cooperate in the trashing of their reputation by mouthpieces of the CoGW.

Durkin goes on to speculate on why the AGW faithful are so zealous for their cause:
After a year of arguing with people about this, I am convinced that it's because global warming is first and foremost a political theory. It is an expression of a whole middle-class political world view. This view is summed up in the oft-repeated phrase "we consume too much". I have also come to the conclusion that this is code for "they consume too much". People who believe it tend also to think that exotic foreign places are being ruined because vulgar oiks can afford to go there in significant numbers, they hate plastic toys from factories and prefer wooden ones from craftsmen, and so on.

All this backward-looking bigotry has found perfect expression in the idea of man-made climate disaster. It has cohered a bunch of disparate reactionary prejudices (anti-car, anti-supermarkets, anti-globalisation) into a single unquestionable truth and cause. So when you have a dig at global warming, you commit a grievous breach of social etiquette. Among the chattering classes you're a leper.

I agree -- AGW appears to be the ideal vehicle (ironically, a high-emissions vehicle) to advance the various aspects of the environmental/marxist left's agenda, all in one tidy package.

Three cheers to Martin Durkin for refusing to run for cover, even in the face of withering counterattacks.

The film will be available on DVD soon, but it can also be seen online here, among many other places.

Carbon Footprint maps reveal and conceal

In recent weeks two websites have promoted their state-by-state carbon footprint maps in the comments of this blog. Hughes Solar Energy is clearly selling something, but eRedux is less clear on who is behind their site (although it appears from a Google search that they've been quite busy in the three weeks their domain name has existed).

The data presented on the two sites is pretty much the same, both ranking my home state of Texas as having the largest "carbon footprint". Texas' dubious distinction is dependent on several factors, among which are the following:
  1. The petroleum refining industry isn't going away any time soon, so there will continue to be pollution related to that (along the upper Texas coast).
  2. The population is spread out over an enormous area, complicating the production and distribution of electricity and natural gas.
  3. Ample space means that Texas communities are more likely to grow out than up (unlike the more densely populated areas of the country), thus increasing vehicle miles traveled. Wherever you're going, it's probably too far to get there by bicycle. The more dispersed a population is, the less practical mass transit solutions become.
While these sites are promoting "renewable" energy sources (solar, hydroelectric, wind, etc.) as a means of reducing a state's carbon footprint, they predictably disregard the most efficient and potentially abundant non-polluting energy source -- nuclear.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hope you choke on your steak, you planet murderer

I've mentioned before how nicely the growing list of dos and don'ts prescribed to help us deal with climate change coincides with the longtime agenda of the environmentalist left. Want to leave virtually no "carbon footprint"? Become a vegan Luddite.

A July 18 AFP story fits the template, relating a study that purports to calculate how much closer the Earth came to the brink of catastrophe, just so you could have that steak for dinner:

A kilogram (2.2 pounds) of beef causes more greenhouse-gas and other pollution than driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home, according to a Japanese study.

[...] Producing a kilo (2.2 pounds) of beef causes the equivalent of 36.4 kilos (80.08 pounds) in carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas, Ogino found.

Most of these greenhouse-gas emissions take the form of methane, released from the cow's digestive system.

That one kilo (2.2 pounds) of beef also requires energy equivalent to lighting a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days. The energy is needed to produce and transport the animals' feed.

The article ends by noting another study that claims organic beef (apparently defined as: the cow ate grass instead of commercial feed) reduces cattle flatulence by 40% and requires 85% less energy consumption.

But don't think they'll be satisfied with getting you to switch to grass-fed cattle. All cattle raised for food are considered to be a nonessential source of greenhouse gases, so there's really no way to eat steak guilt-free, so you might as well give it up. Sigh...pass the tofu, willya?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Surging demand for biofuels leads to destruction of forests

Plantation owners in Indonesia, responding to the quickly growing demand for biofuels, are clear-cutting forests like crazy in order to grow more oil palms, according to this July 13 Reuters story (via PlanetArk.com):
Palm oil companies are burning peat forests to clear land for plantations in Indonesia's Riau province, despite government pledges to end forest fires, environment group Greenpeace said on Thursday.

Forest fires are an annual menace for Indonesia and the country's neighbours, who have grown deeply frustrated at the apparent lack of success in curbing the dry-season blazes and vast smoke clouds, or haze, that smothers the region.

Apart from the health risks to millions of people and damage to the environment, the smoke also releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, fuelling global warming.

[...]Indonesia has a total forest area of more than 225 million acres (91 million hectares), or about 10 percent of the world's remaining tropical forest, according to Rainforestweb.org, a portal on rainforests (www.rainforestweb.org).

But the tropical Southeast Asian country -- whose forests are a treasure trove of plant and animal species including the endangered orangutans -- has already lost an estimated 72 percent of its original frontier forest.

The country is now the world's second-largest palm oil producer and has about 5 million hectares planted with oil palm. The government aims to develop an additional 2-3 million hectares by 2010.
As I mentioned yesterday, the Kyoto Protocol's carbon credit scheme can lead to this kind of unintended consequence as well.

PB&J: The edible carbon offset

Ordinarily, I pay no attention to the efforts by vegetarian and vegan food scolds (such as PETA and CSPI) to get me to forswear meat. However, Bernard Brown's campaign to get people to switch from meat to peanut butter and jelly is attractive enough that I might go along for the ride (for at least one meal, anyway). Although I disagree with Brown's no-meat philosophy, I commend him for presenting his case in a winsome fashion, unlike the aforementioned scolds.

Brown is diligent to remind us that by eating a PB&J sandwich instead of a deli sandwich, we're not only helping to save the life of an animal, we're also helping to save the planet:
A PB&J will slow global warming.

Next time you have one you'll reduce your carbon footprint by saving the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over an average animal-based lunch like a hamburger, a tuna sandwich, grilled cheese, or chicken nuggets.

That's about forty percent of what you'd save driving around for the day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan.

If you were going to have a ham sandwich or a hamburger, you save the equivalent almost 3.5 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
So does this mean I can count my PB&J sandwich as a carbon offset?

Gore's popularity turns Democratic candidates green with envy

A July 12 Washington Times article reports that Al Gore's refusal to refuse to run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination is causing the declared candidates to scramble over one another to proclaim themselves the greenest. A TheyllNeverMoveOn.org online forum last weekend suggests that John Edwards has done the best paint job so far:
Former Sen. John Edwards is the greenest presidential candidate, thousands of MoveOn.org members decided after listening to the Democrats' plans to combat global warming.

Mr. Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, was the preferred choice of more than a third of the liberal political action committee's members who watched virtual town hall forums giving each Democrat three questions.

Mr. Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee, outlined his plan to "fight global warming and create a new energy economy" and was the preferred candidate of 33 percent of the more than 100,000 voters.

He received twice the support of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, who each were favored by 15.7 percent of viewers. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois closely followed in fourth place at 15 percent.

The Edwards plan — which would ban any new coal-fired power plant from being built in the U.S. — aims to reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050.

Mr. Edwards and Mr. Obama said they would auction off polluter permits and use the money to promote clean energy and alternative fuel research, while Mrs. Clinton said she was "intrigued" by that idea.

Mr. Edwards also pledged to spend $1 billion to make sure America builds "the most fuel-efficient, innovative cars on the planet," stressing the jobs should go to union members in towns hurt by outsourcing. He said he would create one million new "green-collar jobs," a term most Democratic presidential candidates are using on the campaign trail.
It looks like Edwards pulled it off by offering huge plums to two of the noisiest constituencies of the Democratic Party—environmentalists and labor unions.

Of course, if Gore enters the race (and, as I've said before, he'd be a fool not to leverage the popularity he's gained on the left), Edwards can kiss most of that support goodbye.

P.S. Edwards wants to ban new coal-fired power plants and promote clean-energy alternatives, but I wonder how willing he would be to embrace the most promising clean-energy alternative: nuclear power.

(Credit: AmSpec blog)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Scientific Method v. The Union of Concerned Scientists Method

This 'toon from PhD Comics, 9/6/2006, while not specifically written with the Union of Concerned Scientists in mind, can be applied pretty well to the methodology of that environmental advocacy group. See this earlier post for an example of the UCS Method in action.

(click to view full-sized image)

One significant difference in the UCS' version of The Actual Method is in the Publish Paper step. Instead of submitting their paper to a scientific journal, they self-publish and announce their results in a press conference, and their "hypothesis" (which is never actually called that) is dutifully reported by the media.

I doubt there is any other way they can get their apocalyptic guesswork in print. Let the UCS submit something like this to a scientific journal and see how far it gets them.

The perverse incentive of Kyoto's carbon credits

There is a lot of money flowing around in the carbon credits / carbon offsets industry, what with so many guilt-ridden environmentalists and PR-sensitive corporations funding massive tree-plantings and other projects around the world. At least one nation's leader has noticed that in order for his country to get a piece of the action, it might first have to engage in behavior that is supposedly offensive to those who are driving the credit/offset industry in the first place.

AFP reports in this July 12 dispatch:
Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday criticized the Kyoto Protocol on climate change for failing to allow countries like his nation with pristine unharvested forests to earn carbon credits.

"The Kyoto Protocol is limited in that sense, and it's short-sighted in that it encourages bad behaviour basically among countries; if you cut down trees and you plant them back you get money, if you preserve them, you don't get anything," Jagdeo told a forum on agro-energy.

The Guyanese leader noted that Guyana would reap "miniscule" assistance under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol when the South American country begins large-scale production of ethanol and other types of agro-based energy.

He said Guyana has decided to get into the production of bio-fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. But "assistance is miniscule through the Clean Development Mechanism as compared to the carbon credits we could get from standing forests," said Jagdeo, a Russian-trained economist.

So, if Guyana decided to clear-cut some of its forests, it would qualify for Kyoto's carbon credit program to fund the replant.

The environmental left's push for biofuels is leading to the clear-cutting of Amazon forests, and their beloved Kyoto Protocol may lead to the destruction of even more.

"Toxic torts": A great time to be a lawyer

Newhouse News Service reports that the tort industry is rallying the troops to profit from AGW alarmism:

The legal world has been jumping on the bandwagon of those convinced the issues of global warming and climate change are here to stay — and could even prove to be a lucrative new field.

These days, it seems everyone wants to get in on the act, from big law firms starting specialty practice groups, to solo lawyers working on projects, to law schools adding classes devoted to the subject.

Some in the legal world predict climate change work has the potential to be the next big wave of litigation, akin to the huge tobacco and asbestos cases, as lawyers go after energy companies and coal mines that produce carbon dioxide.

While others don't go so far as that, everyone seems to agree attorneys are going to be plenty busy helping towns, companies and residents sort out the legal implications of global warming.

"That's going to be one of the biggest legal practices in the next 20 years,'' said Howard Latin, a professor at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark, N.J., who includes discussion of global warming in his toxic torts and product liability classes.

"It's growing into something very big. It's a whole new industry, so there's always a lot of legal work,'' said Edna Sussman, chairwoman of an American Bar Association committee on renewable energy resources.

A summary of some recent cases shows that lawyers are wasting no time taking up arms against AGW malefactors, real and imagined:

• The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

• Last May, 10 states sued the Bush administration, saying rules on sport utility vehicles allowed them to spew too much tailpipe pollution.

• A coalition of states brought a federal suit against American Electric Power, the Tennessee Valley Authority and three other power companies trying to get them to reduce their emissions.

• In Mississippi, a group of residents filed a class-action lawsuit against a clutch of oil and coal companies, saying they knew their emissions caused damage to the climate that led to Hurricane Katrina.

Did you notice that last one? Just as with many other issues in past years, junk science will form the basis of many AGW-related lawsuits in years to come.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to read a New York Times article on AGW

A July 11 New York Times article begins this way:
One-hundred-year floods could come as often as once every 10 years by the end of this century, Long Island lobsters could disappear and New York apples could be just a memory if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report on the impact of global warming by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
As soon as you see that the dire warnings are coming from the Union of Concerned Scientists, you can relax and move on to something else. The UCS has long been a front for the radical environmental left. Whatever their report is about (note that it's released via press conference, not published in any kind of scientific journal), the topic they want us to be alarmed about is usually peppered with extreme, TEOTWAWKI predictions.

You can read the entire NYT article if you like (or the UCS report itself, if you wish). Just be sure to understand the ideological context in which the authors write.

Monday, July 9, 2007

RFK, Jr.: AGW skepticism is 'treason'

Those to attended or tuned into the Live Earth show held at Giants Stadium in New Jersey were treated to a variety of exhortations from the CoGW. Most striking were the words of ├╝ber-environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who apparently was let out of his padded cell briefly for this event. Newsday reports on his opinion of AGW skeptics, particularly the ones serving in the U.S. government:
"Get rid of all these rotten politicians that we have in Washington, who are nothing more than corporate toadies," said Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist author, president of Waterkeeper Alliance and Robert F. Kennedy's son, who grew hoarse from shouting. "This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors."
Last I checked, the penalty for treason is still death. I suppose that's perfectly fine with RFK, Jr. and his friends, who have long valued animals over people.

Yes, yes, I know. He wasn't really talking about treason against the United States, but rather treason against Gaia.

Regardless of Kennedy's motivations, I wonder if Mr. Gore is willing to endorse the opinions expressed by his invited guests.

UPDATE: I see in this NY Times article that Gore was smart enough not to allow Kennedy's remarks to be televised. The vast majority of celebrity exhortations were more along the lines of Cameron Diaz' advice for the ladies to turn off the shower while shaving their legs.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Live Earth: CO2 for me, but not for thee

Today's the big day, the unofficial kickoff of the Gore 2008 presidential campaign (unless, of course, he's aiming for something higher).

Gore's political aspirations aside (besides, he coyly denies having any political aspirations), Live Earth is an entertainment event designed to attract the attention of the masses in the name of the most noble Cause of our time: enabling the political and entertainment elites to continue their lavish lifestyles.

During Live Earth, we'll hear those who can afford so-called carbon offsets tell those who can't afford them how to live.

You may think I'm just being cynical, but I'm open to evidence that my cynicism is unjustified. I'm open to hearing the pledges of these elites to give up their private jets, or to give up jet travel altogether. I'm open to hearing the pledges of these elites to give up their fleets of armored SUVs in favor of Toyota Priuses. I'm open to hearing the pledges of these elites to give up their mansions that -- even if they use nothing but compact fluorescent bulbs -- have a huge "carbon footprint" that would beggar people living in more modest neighborhoods. I'm open to hearing the pledges of these elites to eat only locally-grown food -- even better, food grown organically on their own property. Use waterless toilets. Give up the hot water heater. Give up the swimming pool.

I could go on and on, but my point is that those who will be lecturing us on our lifestyle today have no intention of giving up their own.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail has a marvelous rant today on the hypocrisy of the elites as well as the hypocrisy of the event itself, considering the gargantuan carbon footprint it will leave. Entertainers flying themselves, their retinues and their equipment by private jet, often halfway across the globe. Travel by music fans to the various concert venues. Electricity expended at the events. Electricity expended by 2 billion music fans (at least, that's how many Al Gore says there will be) watching for multiple hours on TV. Countless tons of trash left behind by concertgoers (how many trees will end up sacrificing themselves for the Cause?).

Here's how the Daily Mail article describes the environmental impact of the event:

The total carbon footprint of the event, taking into account the artists' and spectators' travel to the concert, and the energy consumption on the day, is likely to be at least 31,500 tonnes of carbon emissions, according to John Buckley of Carbonfootprint.com, who specialises in such calculations.

Throw in the television audience and it comes to a staggering 74,500 tonnes. In comparison, the average Briton produces ten tonnes in a year.

The concert will also generate some 1,025 tonnes of waste at the concert stadiums - much of which will go directly into landfill sites.

I'll do my part for the planet today by declining to watch the TV coverage. Then again, I'll probably offset the savings by mowing the lawn. Sigh.


7/12 UPDATE: Some post-event 'toon reactions (click each to view the full-sized image):







Thursday, July 5, 2007

The scourge of SUVs in ancient Greenland

Ker Than of LiveScience reports on a shocking study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen that brazenly implies that the earth's climate can vary dramatically without any help from humans:
The oldest ever recovered DNA samples have been collected from under more than a mile of Greenland ice, and their analysis suggests the island was much warmer during the last Ice Age than previously thought.

The DNA is proof that sometime between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago, much of Greenland was especially green and covered in a boreal forest that was home to alder, spruce and pine trees, as well as insects such as butterflies and beetles.

From the genetic material of these organisms, the researchers infer that Greenland’s temperature once varied from 50 degrees Fahrenheit in summer to 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in winter—the temperature range that the tree species prefer.

“We have shown for the first time that southern Greenland ... was once very different to the Greenland we see today,” said study leader Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen.

Less glacial cover in ancient Greenland means the global ocean was probably between three and six feet higher during that time compared to current levels, the scientists say.

“To get this site ice free you would’ve had to remove the ice cover from about the southern third of Greenland,” study team member Martin Sharp, a glaciologist at the University of Alberta, Canada, told LiveScience.

Bear in mind that this happened long before President Bush withdrew America's signature from the Kyoto treaty.

Arctic Monkey wisdom

Matt Helders, drummer for the rock band Arctic Monkeys, raises what should be a blindingly obvious point regarding the weight we give to the political opinions of celebrities (Sky News, July 5):

"Someone asked us to give a quote about what was happening in Sheffield and it's like 'who cares what we think about what's happening'?"

"There's more important people who can have an opinion. Why does it make us have an opinion because we're in a band?"

Other singers and movie stars -- not to mention Al Gore himself -- could learn a lot from this Monkey. Just because you're famous, it doesn't mean your opinions about the issues of the day are worth a plugged nickel.

Carnival of Climate Change

The Carnival of Climate Change is a blog dedicated to highlighting interesting contributions to the climate change debate by skeptics in the blogosphere. The Carnival is brought to you by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the same good folks who brought down the wrath of the CoGW by publicizing Al Gore's hypocritical lifestyle.

Thanks to the Carnival for giving The Global Warming Heretic a favorable mention in its latest issue!

Humor: Al Gore III's unique carbon offset strategy

From the incomparable Scott Ott, July 5:
Al Gore, the concert organizer and former U.S. vice president, today defended his son, Al III, after the younger Gore’s arrest for speeding and drug possession, applauding his use of the hybrid Toyota Prius to offset the carbon emissions of his smoking marijuana.

“Even at 100 miles per hour,” said the elder Mr. Gore, “the Prius produces less deadly greenhouse gas than a Lincoln Navigator or a Hummer. While I don’t condone getting caught with marijuana, I would venture to say that my boy’s total carbon footprint is still substantially smaller than the median for his socioeconomic and age brackets.”

Ott also managed to get in a dig at Gore 's upcoming presidential campaign kickoff:
Mr. Gore helped organize LIVE EARTH to dramatize the plight of the planet by having hundreds of thousands of people burn millions of gallons of carbon-based fuel to travel to eight locations worldwide where they’ll communally exhale billions of cubic yards of carbon dioxide, generate hundreds of tons of human and artificial waste and expend untold kilowatt hours of electricity.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Six Degrees of Global Warming

I thought I had posted this idea at my old blog a long time ago, but maybe not. Many others have taken off with the idea, though, so I don't think I can take credit.

Here are the simple rules for the game called The Six Degrees of Global Warming.
  1. Start with any Bad Thing or Undesirable Effect.
  2. Connect it to global warming in six or fewer steps.
You can see the game in action in this blog post by AccuWeather's Brett Anderson:
Many people are promoting the use of ethanol (alcohol made from corn) as a possible partial solution to global warming. A whyfile.org article (Alcohol: Cool Solution to Global Warming?) explains the logic. Not everyone agrees that ethanol will not help to ease any global warming concerns as is explained in this Reuters article (Ethanol May Not Ease Global Warming: UN) that was found in the Sydney Morning Herald indicates; however, more ethanol is being produced.

According to a recent article on ABC News (How More Ethanol Means Pricier Pizza), an increase in production of ethanol has resulted in higher dairy prices since more corn is being used for fuel rather than food for cattle. So, there you have it: more ethanol to try to combat global warming means higher dairy prices, which means more expensive cheese and more expensive pizza. That's right--global warming is causing higher pizza prices!!
Global warming >> shift to ethanol production >> higher feed prices >> higher dairy prices >> higher pizza prices. Congratulations, Mr. Anderson. You made it in four steps!

It appears that Mr. Anderson is having fun here, but far too many out there are in deadly earnest.