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NYT Reports on U.S. Climate Action Report



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From the front page this morning

The Bush administration estimates that emissions by the United States of gases that contribute to global warming will grow nearly as fast through the next decade as they did the previous decade, according to a long-delayed report being completed for the United Nations.

The document, the United States Climate Action Report, emphasizes that the projections show progress toward a goal Mr. Bush laid out in a 2002 speech: that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases grow at a slower rate than the economy. Since that speech, he has repeated his commitment to lessening “greenhouse gas intensity” without imposing formal limits on the gases.

More Gore



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Scott Burgess does some more number crunching on Al Gore’s energy expenditures and finds some interesting things. He also demolishes an attempted defense of Gore by Mark Lynas, the fearsome intellect whose preferred debating style was to stuff a pie in Bjorn Lomborg’s face.

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A Disgrace



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While reading this story about how the US has increased its carbon dioxide emissions half as rapidly as has Europe since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed in 1997, a gap which is widening (EU
CO2 emissions have increased three times as fast as the US’s since 2000, for the most recent five years for which we have data).

Ask yourself, have we heard such nastiness about their climatically criminal fellow Europeans, whose absolutely spectacular emission increases are being underwritten by the UK’s one-off of a dash-to-gas in the early 1990′s?

Then ask yourself, what is the real disgrace?

“[Conservative Shadow Environment Secretary] Mr Ainsworth’s outspoken attack goes far beyond any previous criticisms of Mr Bush made by senior party figures and reflects how widespread frustration with the administration’s failure to tackle global warming has become.

“Without a world solution to climate change, there won’t be any solution at all. We have been having discussions with both Senator McCain and others in terms of building an international agenda on this,” he said.

“The sooner the current administration in America goes, the safer the world will be.

“It has been a deplorable drag on international efforts to get a resolution; the leading polluter of the world hasn’t been playing a full part.

“I’m confident a future American administration will shoulder its responsibilities,” he added

Organic Spin



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If you remember the e.coli spinach outbreak last year that killed three people, you might now be interested to discover that the outbreak has been traced to an organic farm. Greg Conko has more:

The organic industry poo-pooed the suggestion that the contamination arose on an organic farm, insisting that such a thing could only have happened on a big, conventional, “factory farm”. The fact of the matter is, however, that, while microbial contamination will likely always be with us, so-called factory farms tend to be cleaner, not dirtier, than anachronistic organic farms. Having been on lots of farms, organic and conventional, on all six inhabited continents, I am much more willing to trust my family’s health to the products of a typical factory farm than a typical organic one.

Indeed. There’s something of Rousseau in the romanticization of dirty, outdated farming methods.

Re: David Ignatius’ Doomsaying



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I see David’s Peter Schwarz and raise him an Indur Goklany. Things aren’t as bad as he suggests.

Yet even if they were, as a colleague noted, “Interesting that he makes the point that the poorest people of the world are most vulnerable to climate change but still seems to conclude that the usual tax & regulate plans will help these people more than wealth-building (ie less gov’t corruption, more focus on reliable justice system, free markets, etc).”

Precisely – the most vulnerable people on the planet are vulnerable not because of climate but because they have either rejected or haven’t been allowed to put in place the institutions that build resiliency. It’s no surprise that Katrina had more of a lasting effect in poor Louisiana than in poor Mississippi, because Louisiana is more corrupt.

The best solution to reducing these vulnerabilities is to build resiliency through the institutions of liberty, rather than trying to work out how to change the weather in a hundred years’ time.

And Indur Goklany’s meticulous data provides strong support for that hypothesis.

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Morning Round-up



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Apologies for no round-up yesterday – computer problems.

Anyway, some global warming-related stories you may have missed:

Finally, a conservative Cardinal has warned the Pope that the antichrist will be an ecologist. The devil is in the details, of course.

Claiming the Branson/Gore Prize



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As all know, Richard Branson teamed up with Al Gore to offer a $25 million prize for the first person to come up with a way to remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Two British scientists have already claimed the prize, one report on it and their self-published journal where the results appeared .

Now researchers at the University of Bristol have put forward their suggestion: stop breathing.

This idea, while drastic, has the advantage of not costing anything, and requiring no significant investment in developing new technologies. The side effects are pretty messy, though, so the researchers offer a second suggestion: stop breathing so much.

Dr Mark Steer (in the background of the photograph above, in which he is accompanied by his colleague Dr. Andrew Impey) explains: “If we merely cut out one breath in three, we could decrease the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere each year by a staggering 0.63 gigatonnes. That’s the same effect as saving five million acres of land (an area the size of Wales) from deforestation.”

A quite excellent suggestion I hope you’ll agree and one that should definitely be awarded the prize immediately. While Drs. Steer and Impey are to be congratulated on their paper it is of course myself who should collect the cash as I made (with some very variable mathematics) the same suggestion back in July last year .

Lear jets and eight bedroom mansion here I come and I promise faithfully not to buy any carbon offsets from myself.

An inconvenient Mars



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Oops.  Warming on Mars continues to be detected, such that even National Geographic is compelled to report it: “Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet’s recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human- induced—cause, according to one scientist’s controversial theory.”

But note that the NatGeo story goes to excruciating lengths to say that such a view is “outside the mainstream.”

David Ignatius Today



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Ode to Algoreia



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C. MacLeod Fuller offers a worthy poetic ode to Al Goreia over at The American Thinker.

Gore’s Carbon Offsets



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Bill Hobbs says they’re kind of fishy

Failing to Learn History -- And Repeating It



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In a piece out yesterday, former Vice President Al Gore repeats the bizarro-world claim that, by providing balance in their global warming coverage, the media show bias. His specific argument in support of this effort to censor disagreeable speech is a chestnut that has been thoroughly discredited – before the film was released, mind you – that “A 10-year University of California study found that essentially zero percent of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles disagreed that global warming exists, whereas, another study found that 53 percent of mainstream newspaper articles disagreed the global warming premise.”

 

In truth, when one doesn’t skew one’s search terms as did the history professor who Gore relies upon, the relevant scientific literature at the time of her study included not “over 928” (a mystical count Gore serially offers, in his movie, on Oprah, in subsequent lectures, and so on) articles mentioning “global climate change”, as Gore says, but nearly 12,000 citing “climate change”.

 

Although this is level ground to students of the issue, since Gore continues to peddle what is by now a knowing falsehood, let us review it one more time.  This is indeed all the universe of articles did – mention “global climate change”, not man-made climate change by any means, and sometimes as an inexplicable throw-away line (there is actually academic pressure to do so in order to receive grant funding, according to researchers).  Nor were these articles in support of anthropogenic warming theory (it ought to go without saying).

 

In addition to all of the “over 928” (or the nearly 12,000) articles not supporting catastrophic or even anthropogenic warming theory as the professor flatly alleges, it is further untrue that none of them “disagreed with” or “refuted” (two wildly different standards which she oddly interchanges).  Most of the (let’s just call it) 928 do not even mention anthropogenic climate change.

 

Her claims, Gore’s retailing of them and the mythology that sprung up to defend this canard are further deconstructed and updated here.  And, of course, here.

More Hollysmog



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Gore’s e-pocrisy (I think we should promote this term) is just the beginning.  Here’s a preview from my next edition of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, due out in April:

Another interesting smog-related story from last year came out of Los Angeles where, having imposed stringent regulations on industry for 30 years now, one of the leading remaining sources of ozone and particulates is (drum roll, please) the Hollywood movie and TV industry.  A study from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment found that Hollywood productions emit a substantial 140,000 tons a year of ozone precursors and particulates, which is a larger amount than any other LA-area industry except oil refining.   (The study also finds the entertainment industry is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the LA area.)  Hollywood celebrities may be giving up their limos for hybrid cars, but will they give up their on-location star trailers, which are typically powered by dirty diesel generators?

Global Warming Models: Predictions vs. Evidence



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Although it’s not yet updated to the new IPPC report (which hasn’t actually come out yet), Doug Hoyt has developed a scorecard to compare the major predictions of global warming models with actual observations. He gives each prediction a “yes-no-undetermined score.” So if the major models’ prediction is confirmed, the score at the beginning would be 1-0-0. So how do the models score when compared with the evidence? The final score is 1-27-4. That’s one confirmed prediction, 27 disconfirmed, and 4 undetermined.

Hoyt isn’t a newcomer to the debate. He’s published important work on sunspot observations over the past 4 centuries. He also coauthored a book called The Role of the Sun in Climate Change , published by some fringe outfit called “Oxford University Press.”

More on Gore’s Energy Consumption.



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Some interesting comments around the blogs. John Chilton on buying green power :

Buying “green power” is just rearranging the deck chairs, buying power that would have been in the energy mix anyway. It’s like buying the green M&M’s when no one else cares what the color of their M&M’s are.

The Economist blog on why offsets don’t in fact offset as much as you might think :

MANY readers profess puzzlement as to how carbon offsets could fail to reduce one’s carbon footprint. The answer is that they probably do reduce one’s carbon footprint, but by nowhere near the one-for-one ration that seems to be implied by the extraordinarily low price of carbon offsets.

And Glenn Whitman on a larger philosophic question :

It seems to me that global warming alarmists like Al Gore are playing both sides of the fence. On global warming’s existence, they emphasize the importance of scientific consensus and characterize the skeptical minority as equivalent to Holocaust deniers. But when it comes to global warming’s severity, they suddenly reject the scientific consensus and embrace a minority opinion.

Quite, which is it? Does the IPCC process show that climate change is a reality? If so, how can anyone then turn around and say that the IPCC report must be dismissed as not showing us the reality of climate change? One or the other, surely? If we rely upon that IPCC statement that sea level will rise by 17cm (or 40 cm, there’s several numbers to choose from) then how can we then insist that it will be 12 meters?

Doesn’t Always Pay to Advertise



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For whatever reason, when then-economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Andrei Illarionov, began touting an official 2002 UK document styled “Report of an Inter-departmental Analysts Group (IAG)” on greenhouse gas reductions that would be demanded under the Kyoto agenda, the document was suddenly not to be found on internet portals where it had previously been available.

Having recently stumbled back upon the report, it is worth reviewing the following chart (3.1, on page 31 of the document), which set forth HMG’s expert view of what should be required of a “psot-2012” global warming treaty, and which was of particular interest to Illarionov, revealing one possible reason why the document was “disappeared”:

The meaning of this for the Average Joe might be found in the priceless quote from then-Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom (now EU Commission Vice President), that the pain appears to be intended to fall most heavily on the US (80% reduction from 1998 levels):

“As Margot Wallstrom, the European Union’s commissioner for the environment told The Independent of London: ‘This [global warming] is not a simple environmental issue where you can say it is an issue where the scientists are not unanimous. This is about international economy, about trying to create a level playing field for big businesses throughout the world. You have to understand what is at stake and that is why it is serious.’ In other words, Ms. Wallstrom is saying it is necessary to hobble the U.S. economy to help the failing, over-regulated European economies.”

Morning Round-up



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Some more global warming-related stories you may have missed:

Finally, the intellectual class in Britain is very depressed. Poor dears.

Rationing energy by the price mechanism



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Apparently Al Gore now uses Green Power to light and heat his home, so he isn’t entirely hypocritical.

However, the issue here is that if we want to mitigate carbon emissions, we have to institute rationing of some sort. Al is living by this principle. Carbon-free energy in Nashville costs $4 extra per 150 kw, so if you can afford to pay that, you get to live the lifestyle you want. Gore will pay approximately $6,000 extra this year for the privilege. A drop in the bucket for him, of course.

Other people, however, who cannot afford to increase their electricity bills overall (by about $300 for the average household, which is probably currently spending around $750 per year on electricity) will therefore have to decrease their electricity use by the equivalent amount – about 4,000 kwh at current (non-green power) prices. That’s equivalent to not using an air conditioner all summer. Or you could offset your household’s emissions at $99 or thereabouts and not use your air conditioner for 2 months. (NB, these are hurried back-of-the-envelope calculations.)

Rationing energy has consequences. Using the price mechanism means that the rich can continue to enjoy their lifestyles while the poor have to make sacrifices. Those sacrifices come with social costs of their own.

Worst Case Scenario



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Panel Admits Kyoto Failure, Yells “Third Base!”



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Up until 1992, Europe called on the world to limit temperature increases.  Given the difficulty of quantifying what such a task entailed, when it came time to craft a treaty (the UNFCCC or Rio Treaty), they realized that was a pretty absurd metric even for a UN agreement.  So they went for the (arguably) less absurd promise to “stabiliz[e] greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.  The UN’s IPCC refused on each of three occasions that they were asked to quantify that particular promise, claiming that was a “political decision.”  Hmmm.  Re-read the mandate. Sounds to me like something scientists are being paid an awful lot of money to look into.

 

Anyhow, it dawned on some folks that maybe Man doesn’t dictate such things – say, Al Gore, who prominently features a chart in his movie purporting to reconstruct, from proxy data, 650,000 years of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations (as well as temperatures over the same period…which charts he elects to not superimpose for the simple reason that it would show temps generally rise and fall before CO2 concentrations, damning his thesis).  The only thing Man can dictate, in theory, is his own GHG emissions (and only in theory — and press releases – as Europe is proving).  His chart shows them going up up and way up, and down down down all before Man could possibly have had any influence whatsoever.

 

So, as I have pointed out in detail, of late Europe has decided to loudly and frequently claim that it has agreed to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees C above pre-Industrial times (which happen to fall at the tail end of the Little Ice Age).  The problem, of course, is that they have agreed to no such thing.  But, as with most things in the Euro-Kyoto context, it is so because they say it’s so — not because it’s really so (see post-below about EU emissions and rhetoric).  We know not what, if anything, this rhetorical sleight of hand has to do with, e.g., Pat Michaels pointing out that observations over the past 3+ decades indicate that we should expect up to 1.7 degrees C warming (others say slightly less, none of which says anything about Man’s possible involvement).

 

Now comes the UN itself, or at least an affiliated panel driven by Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, betraying that silly notion you held that they already had “a detailed plan for combating climate change.”  According to Voice of America, “A panel of scientists has presented the United Nations a detailed plan for combating climate change. VOA’s correspondent at the U.N. Peter Heinlein reports the strategy involves reaching a global agreement on a temperature ceiling.”  Oh, and they finally get to the point, calling for a carbon tax (you remember the success with which they have pushed for the authority to impose a “Tobin tax”).

 

That old temperature ceiling again.  Which now deserves its own treaty, given how that other one is doing. My colleague Iain Murray suggests that this represents the UN saying that the to-date sufficiently alarmist IPCC is no longer alarmist enough for the task at hand.  That is one reading.  Another is that Kyoto is now a subtly acknowledged failure.

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