March 2006 (vol. 22, #3)
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c 2006 Physicians for Civil Defense
The context is the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has asked 15 groups to run models from scenarios representing various assumptions about energy use, economic development, and population increases up to 2100.
The Year of the Great Awakening
The year 2005 was a special year for the Kyoto Protocol for global energy rationing. By then, each party in Annex I (developed nations that ratified the Protocol and that together account for 55% of greenhouse-gas emissions) was supposed to have made “demonstrable progress in achieving its commitments.” Also in 2005, 7 years before the end of the first commitment period in 2012, more stringent targets–this time involving developing nations–were to be considered.
But 2005, according to Dr. Gerrit J. van der Lingen of New Zealand, was the Year of the Great Awakening. Emissions in New Zealand were 22% greater than in 1990. They were also up 18.9% in Japan, 23.6% in Canada, and 16.4% in Europe– compared to 16.7% in the much maligned United States. By 2008-2012, CO2 emissions are supposed to be 5.2% below 1990 level (Newsletter of the Geological Society of New Zealand, reprinted in TWTW 2/25/06, www.sepp.org). Only Germany and Britain have been able to reach their targets, thanks to one-time events such as the shutdown of East German industries.
The problem, writes Dana Joel Gattuso of the National Center for Public Policy Research: “The Kyoto treaty is economic suicide, and most European nations know it.”
The One True Religion
The national religion of America is Environmentalism, writes New York Times columnist John Tierney. On the Eighth Day of creation, it holds, God set a thermostat for the heavens and the Earth and said “Let no man adjust it more than...1 degree Celsius until the end of time.”
“We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma,” writes James Lovelock. The Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) has joined the AGW choir with an advertising campaign warning of “millions of deaths” from Biblical scourges–floods, droughts, and pestilences–unless we make a “sacred commitment” to stop global warming, Tierney writes (Ariz Daily Star 2/14/06).
“The time has come...for destroying those who destroy the Earth,” said Calvin DeWitt (Nature 2006;440:136-137).
The majority of evangelicals, however, do not agree. The executive council of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) passed a motion stating that “there is ongoing debate about the causes and origins of global warming” and “lack of consensus among the evangelical community on this issue.”
While environmentalists claim that AGW affects the poor most severely, Kyoto compliance would devastate the poor for minimal benefit to the climate, if any. The cost for one year could be as high as $1 trillion, writes Paul Driessen: five times higher than the cost of providing clean water and sanitation for the whole world ( www.interfaithstewardship.org).
The apparent “conversion” of some evangelicals, suggests Fred Singer, may be related to Clinton-era EPA grants to faith-based groups that set up bureaucracies to Save the Planet rather than feeding the poor.
“Global salvationism” has affected the IPCC, which has an “endemic bias toward alarmist assessments and radical `solutions,'” (David Henderson, Westminster Business School 1/9/06, TWTW 1/21/06, www.sepp.org). The $3 to $4 billion expended annually on climate research comes “from the public purse controlled by politicians for whom the AGW scare is a godsend,” observes van der Lingen.
The Melting Ice Caps
The most recent apocalyptic scenario–“Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly: New Study Warns of Rising Sea Levels” (Wash Post 3/3/06, p 1)–is based on the March 24 issue of Science. The world “could be locked into an eventual rise in sea levels of as much as 20 ft,” concludes Time magazine of April 3: “Nature, it seems, has finally gotten a bellyful of us.” In its “NewsFocus” section, Science announces: “startling amounts of ice slipping into the sea have taken glaciologists by surprise,” with the possible result of “catastrophic” sea-level rises.
The Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIC) is said to be losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year–based on a trend of 34 months. This, when added to 320,000,000 cubic miles of ocean, would contribute to a sea-level rise of about 0.4 mm/yr (TWTW 3/11/06). But the much larger eastern ice sheet (EAIC) was reported to be gaining mass faster than the western one was losing it, in a Science article last summer (Patrick Michaels, tcsdaily.com 3/3/06). Combining a net gain in ice in Antarctica with a net loss from Greenland, the latter raising sea levels by by about 0.5 mm/yr, gives a predicted effect of about zero by 2100. Looking further into the future, the most extreme IPCC model predicts a 7 m sea-level rise in 1,000 years (Science 2005;310:456-460).
Science combines “trends” from the past few years with reconstructions of warming due to a change in earth's orbit 130,000 years ago to conclude that urgent action is warranted, lest ice sheets lose the ability to sustain themselves. Notably absent was any mention of the Medieval Warm Period. And during the most recent deglaciation 20,000 to 10,000 years ago, Greenland temperatures are believed to have risen more than 20 C, and the ice sheets are still here (Science 1998;282:268-271).
IPCC scenarios are biased toward the least likely outcomes. It assumes a world population of 15 billion by 2100; developing country living standards higher than in the U.S. today; and an abrupt reversal of the trend toward less CO2 emissions per unit of growth (Nigel Lawson, Spectator 3/11/06): Anything to cook the results it wants?
The ongoing crisis about the supply of natural gas to Europe is partly caused by Russian actions but is ultimately the result of irrational fears of global warming, writes Fred Singer (TWTW 1/7/06, www.sepp.org), as nations shift from coal to gas to reduce emissions. At present, 40% of Britain's electricity is generated from natural gas, a percentage that will increase as nuclear power plants are decommissioned. The wholesale price of a megawatt-hour has doubled (Financial Times 3/14/06).
Largely owing to environmentalist political pressure, U.S. electricity production from gas has risen from zero to 23% in a few years, raising prices from $2 per MCF to about $14. In heat-value equivalent, this means going from $12 to $84 per barrel of oil. Coal still supplies 50% of U.S. power.
Shortages of natural gas may force the U.S. to import costly liquefied natural gas (LNG)–much of it from the Middle East. Few sources have invested in complex liquefaction plants, and specialized tankers and unloading terminals provide ready targets for terrorists (Fred Singer, WSJ 11/11/05).
The U.S. strategic petroleum reserve has cost taxpayers $51 billion since 1975, or $81 per barrel. It is not nearly large enough to deal with a major disruption on a sustained basis; the entire amount in 2004 was only 2.6% of the world supply. Private inventories are three times as large, and would be even larger if investors didn't have to worry about the government flooding the market during a price spike (NY Times 1/3/06).
Though environmentalists argue that higher energy prices would be good for the Earth, at $60/barrel the “dirtiest sources of oil anywhere” are being developed. In Alberta, Canada, ambitious projects are underway to extract crude from the oil sands at a cost of about $25/barrel. Unemployment in Alberta is 3.1%, a 30-year low (WSJ 3/27/06).
By saying “America is addicted to oil” in his State of the Union message, the President has emboldened radical greens in their quest to hamstring the energy industry, states Myron Ebell (CEI Planet, Jan/Feb 2006). Prospects are now dimmer for accessing new sources of oil, as by drilling offshore or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilerin identified George Taylor, who said “a lot more research is needed to understand Antarctica's complex climate and ice trends,” as a writer for TCSDaily, “which is partly funded by fossil-fuel companies that oppose curbs on greenhouse gases,” notes Bill Steigerwald (Tribune-Review [Pittsburgh] 3/12/06). Taylor receives $500 per article. What if Eilerin had identified John Kerry, who urges mandatory CO2 limits, as “the husband of a wealthy ketchup heiress who gave a $250,000 award to scientist James Hansen, the Founding Father of Global Warming Doomsayers, who appeared on ABC's `Good Morning America' March 2 warning of sea level rises of 80 feet in a few centuries”?
Any sign of a double standard here?
To illustrate his article on “Climate Change and Human Health,” Paul R. Epstein of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School, chose a photo showing melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and one of Hurricane Katrina superimposed on a graph of sea temperatures (N Engl J Med 2005;353:1433-1436). The problems: heat stroke, ragweed, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, other vector-borne diseases, accidents from walking on thin ice, the “red tide,” and on and on. The solution: “Primary prevention, [which would] require halting the extraction, mining, transport, refining, and combustion of fossil fuels...,would have innumerable health and environmental benefits and would help stabilize the climate.”
Malaria has returned to tea estates in the highlands of Kenya, according to a 2002 CDC publication, after an absence of nearly 30 years. And 2002 marks the 30th anniversary of the EPA ban on DDT (TWTW 3/25/06).
The National Center for Public Policy Research handed out emissions credits printed on toilet paper at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal, December 2005–in five of the six official U.N. languages. No good translation for “emissions credit” could be found for Chinese, the language of the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
“Unlike the EU's emissions credits, ours are free and actually serve a purpose,” said Center V.P. David Ridenour.
Plant physiologists were startled to discover that green plants, under aerobic conditions, release up to a third of all methane produced worldwide: between 60 and 240 million tonnes per year. Methane is the second most important “greenhouse gas” in the atmosphere, and levels have doubled over the past 200 years. The rate of growth has recently decreased, possibly owing to tropical deforestation. There are large plumes of methane over tropical forests.
This discovery complicates Kyoto rules, which permit reforestation to be used as a CO2 sink to offset emissions. By adding methane to the atmosphere, new forests might increase greenhouse warming. The fertilizing effect of CO2 might also contribute to primary methane production.
“We neglected a big driving force for the climate,” said Martin Heimann of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry. “If natural greenhouse-gas sources are larger than we thought, the scope for climate politics becomes narrower,” he said. “You wouldn't cut down forests just because trees release methane” (Nature 2006;439:128,148,187-191).
Shattered Consensus: the True State of Global Warming, edited by Patrick Michaels, available for $25 to members of the Marshall Institute, (202) 296-9655, discusses the “Hockey Stick” (Ross McKitrick); surface temperature records (Robert Balling); atmospheric temperature changes (John Christy); El Niño (Oliver Frauenfeld); solar variability (Sallie Baliunas); limitations of computer models (Willie Soon); and more.
www.co2science.org: a detailed critique of articles in the March 24 issue of Science, by Sherwood, Keith, and Craig Idso.
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