July 2006 (vol. 22, #5)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2006 Physicians for Civil Defense

Inconvenient Facts

Al Gore, the Movie (An Inconvenient Truth), has persuaded a lot of pundits, politicians, and other purveyors of “consensus” masquerading as science: We only have 10 years....[to return to a medieval lifestyle, to figure out how to get the sun to radiate more than 1.4 kW/m2 without itself melting the icecaps, or to conjure up other “alternative” (non-nuclear) energy sources].

The British Medical Journal is in the chorus with Science, Nature, and Time magazine. In its June 10, 2006, issue it berates the National Health Service, one of the largest employers in the world (save for Wal-Mart and the Chinese army) for planning to build 100 new hospitals with large car parks and energy-intensive air-conditioning, heating, and lighting. These will encroach on green fields, use construction materials from nonrenewable sources, and generate “unimaginable amounts of waste.” Alas, “no one gets fired for failing to reduce the carbon footprints of a hospital or clinic.”

Watch for details on an upcoming contest: £2,000 for the primary and secondary providers with the lowest carbon footprint per patient, and £500 to the BMJ subscriber with the lowest personal carbon footprint. Al Gore will not be the winner: See the CEI video, “The Inconvenient Story,” featuring the Al Gore CO2 Meter and the People CO2 Meter, Neither will BMJ editor Fiona Godlee, author of “What did you do about climate change Mum?” Hers is 10.5 tonnes per year for personal use; 32.5 if you count work-related travel. But she has “resolved to sell the car. One of them at least” (BMJ Carbon Blog 6/9/06).

We need to limit each person to 1 tonne/year “as soon as possible,” says the BMJ: the current UK average is 10 tonnes, and the world average is 2.5. The proposal is to create a system of carbon allowances, “which will act as a parallel currency to real money as well as creating an ecologically virtuous circle.”

This will help to narrow the gap between rich and poor, with income transfers through “market transactions” rather than aid. Africa's millennium development goals will be furthered, and we will all get more exercise.

Hopeless, but Not Serious

As Robert J. Samuelson points out, greenhouse emissions will be higher in 2050, even with heroic changes in energy production and usage. With modest growth, they will double. No government will enforce the draconian restrictions on economic growth and personal freedom necessary to reduce emissions. Thus global warming will become “a gushing source of national hypocrisy” (Wash Post 7/5/06).

Kyoto targets (the “first step”) will not be met. World leaders have failed to come up with a “son of Kyoto” for when Kyoto expires in 2012. Developing nations are holding firmly to their position that they will take on no commitments (Hans Labohm, “Emission Impossible,” TCSDaily 6/13/06).

Two facts about the impossibility–or futility–of controlling emissions: (1) Uncontrolled fires in China's abandoned coal mines release as much CO2 as the entire country of Japan does from useful fuel consumption. (2) The oceans and land outgas 210 GT/yr, compared with 3 GT/yr from human activity. (Total atmospheric CO2 content is 750-830 GT; the uncertainty in measurement is 80 GT.)

How serious is the IPCC's threat that the sky will fall if the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration of 285 ppmv doubles? David Bellamy and Jack Barrett (quoted in TWTW 7/1/06, observe that burning all known reserves of natural gas would raise the CO2 concentration to 454 ppmv. If we then burned all known oil reserves, the CO2 level would rise to 489 ppmv. We would then have to burn one-third of all known coal reserves to get to the dreaded level of 570 ppmv. The atmospheric blanket would then trap 95.6% of the infrared radiation, instead of 94.7% as in pre-industrial days. At that point the potential trapping by CO2 and water vapor is virtually complete, given the logarithmic relationship between concentration and radiance/absorption. Bellamy and Barrett also note that the 5% window in the infrared escape route can never be closed because there are no natural gases with the right spectral bands. If we could somehow produce such a gas, we could raise the temperature of the globe by about 5 C.

Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the question of whether CO2 is a pollutant, “it is in fact the most important airborne fertiliser in the world and without it there would be no green plants at all.” It was at a dangerously low level during the ice ages. Bellamy and Barrett recommend talking to your plants; they will thank you “by recycling your waste CO2 to make more plant material.”

Lies of Omission

Iain Murray details 25 truths that Al Gore leaves out of the companion book to his movie because they are inconvenient to his argument. A few samples:

The relationship between temperature and CO2 is not linear, so the graph on pp 66-67 is seriously misleading. The only way to turn off the Gulf Stream, according to Carl Wunsch of MIT, is to turn off the wind system, stop the rotation of the earth, or both.

While noting that 30% of global CO2 emissions come from burning wood to cook food (p 227), Gore fails to mention that introducing coal-fired electrical generators in Africa and South America would reduce this substantially and save more than 1.6 million lives per year (TWTW 7/1/06).

Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg would rather see Al Gore do PowerPoint presentations on polluted water and malnutrition, which $50 billion might cure, instead of “the most expensive cure that would do the least good” ( 7/8/06). Murray states that Kyoto would cost the U.S. $400 billion/yr to avert 0.1 C of warming over 50 years.

Perhaps the biggest lie of all is the assertion that a consensus exists on human-caused catastrophic global warming when scientific agreement only exists on a narrow range of issues such as the increase in temperature between 1919 and 1940 (R Lindzen, Wall St J 6/26/06).


Linear Aggression

Nearly everyone is now familiar with the technique of linear regression, which draws a least-squares line through a sequence of numbers plotted against time. It's now available on every “scientific” calculator and is a popular feature on spreadsheets. Everyone can now calculate a “trend.”

“The beauty of irregular sequences, such as climate observations, is that you can obtain almost any `trend' you wish, purely by choosing the right starting point and the right ending point,” writes Vincent Gray. “The IPCC and climate scientists revel in this manipulative process” (NZ Climate and Enviro Truth Letter #103, 6/20/06, reprinted in TWTW 7/1/06).

Gray looks, for example, at the global surface temperature record, which shows a fall from 1855 to 1860; a rise from 1860 to 1880; a fall from 1880 to 1910; a rise from 1910 to 1942; a fall from 1942 to 1950; a slow rise from 1950 to 1978; a rise from 1978 to 1998; and a fall from 1998 to 2005.

Global warmers select whichever period makes their point. They never go back to 1855. They never try to explain decreases or the absence of increases.

“Linear aggression” is also used for sea level measurements. The actual records for most of the world, which show little change, are concealed, and fragmentary records are used to claim that the level is rising. Another trick the warmers employ is to use the standard deviation from their pocket calculator as a measure of the accuracy of a linear trend. This is valid only if the data have a Gaussian (“bell-shaped”) distribution. Even so, one standard deviation means there are only two chances in three that the true value falls between these limits. Proper scientists use two standard deviations.

Gray believes that “as soon as the current fall in temperature is discovered, they will soon be switching from greenhouse warming to their favorite topic of the 1970s, the coming ice age.”



What You Get for One Tonne

In the BMJ Rapid Responses to Godlee's Carbon Blog, Agnes Wood, a general practitioner, calculated what would happen if she tried to reduce her carbon footprint from 8 tonnes/yr to 1 tonne/yr:

It would allow me to heat my house with the equivalent of a 1 bar electric fire (1 kilowatt) for 6 hours a day for around 10 months of the year.... There would be nothing left over for cooking, lighting, hot water, fridges, vacuum cleaners or washing machines. No journeys would be possible anywhere except by bicycle or on foot.... When you actually work out what a 1 tonne carbon footprint means, it effectively means returning to a lifestyle which was last seen before my lifetime. Is anyone willing to state that what is required is not selling 1 car or making minor adjustment to an affluent way of life but such a radical change in lifestyle that most modern people would not be able to imagine the reality? ( 6/12/06)


Answering Your Children

Gwyn S. Williams, et al., also responding to Godlee, observe that a sufficient alteration of lifestyles to please the global warming lobby “literally plunges us back into the dark ages.” It would deny billions in the developing world the luxuries we take for granted. Global warming, they state, is a religion that is about as plausible as Ahmadinejad's belief that the end of the world is upon us. They conclude:

...[W]e are scientists as well as doctors and giving in to the global warming lobby when so much evidence points to the fact that it is a gigantic paper tiger is irresponsible, unscientific, childish and selfish.... Our children and our grandchildren will ask us if we believed in the great lie of global warming, and I for one don't want to be telling them that I kept a chart of my carbon footprint (BMJ.com6/19/06).  

Anti-Nuke Recants

When he helped to found Greenpeace in the early 1970s, Patrick Moore believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust. He has now “updated” his views, as have James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, and Stewart Brand, founder of the “Whole Earth Catalog.” Although he still holds apocalyptic views, now transferred to catastrophic global warming, Moore makes a number of worthwhile observations on nuclear power plants (Wash Post 4/16/06):

Nuclear power is one of the least expensive energy sources, now about two cents per kilowatt-hr, comparable to coal and hydroelectric.

While 5,000 coal-mining deaths occur worldwide each year, there has not been a single death from a radiation-related accident in the history of the U.S. civilian nuclear reactor program.

Used nuclear fuel has less than one-thousandth of its radioactivity 40 years after removal from the reactor. It is incorrect to call it “waste” because 95% of the potential energy remains after the first fuel cycle. Now that the U.S. has lifted the ban on recycling, the volume of material to be disposed of will be greatly reduced.

Nuclear reactors are far less vulnerable to terrorist attacks than many other facilities, including natural gas plants, chemical plants, and political targets.


Improved Health from Chernobyl

On the twentieth anniversary of the accident, evidence of damage from the fallout is still being sought. “Wildly differing claims will continue,” write Dillwyn Williams and Keith Baverstock (“Too Soon for a Final Diagnosis,” Nature 2006;440:993-994). The picture is muddied by the lack of reliable information from the totalitarian Soviet regime (Melana Zyla, TCSDaily 4/25/06) and by huge compensation programs that create a culture of dependency and form a major barrier to recovery (International Herald Tribune 9/6/05).

Almost all reports ignore the biphasic dose response curve for radiation exposure. Considering that, T.D. Luckey predicts that for each person harmed by Chernobyl, more than 1,000 others will ultimately benefit from improved health as measured by death rates from infectious disease and cancer. The optimum dose of ionizing radiation appears to be 10-20 cGy/y. The total exposure of 273,000 people from the most contaminated areas averaged 9.7 mGy/y. Luckey predicts that in one more decade, the total cancer death rate in this population will be about one-half that of those who received negligible doses of radiation. Luckey cites evidence from exposed nuclear workers, atomic bomb survivors, and persons living in areas with unusually high natural background radiation.

“Reeducation of medical workers is needed,” Luckey states.