April 2000

 Assessing the National Assessment

The U.S. Global Climate Research Program is about to release its National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Change. One of the technical reviewers, David Wojick, president of ClimateChangeDebate.Org, has written his own assessment of the National Assessment.

Wojick notes that the release of the report seems to be timed for maximum political impact. Even though the USGCRP is required to make a report every four years, it has not done so since its formation in 1990. Only now, during an election year when one of the presidential candidates is known for his strong pro-global warming views, is the USGCRP making its voice heard.

This is also the year that the sixth conference of the parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet to finalize negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol. The National Assessment will put pressure on the U.S. Senate to ratify whatever comes out of those negotiations.

Wojick also argues that the two climate models used in the report “consistently give extreme forecasts,” relative to the “available dozen or so global climate models.” This problem extends beyond global average temperatures, says Wojick. “Regional variability, the occurrences

of extreme events, and other climate change variables are also exaggerated in these models.”

The report also exaggerates future emissions scenarios. “While technically there is no such thing as a worst case emissions scenario, theirs is among the most extreme the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ever considered,” says Wojick. “In fact the IPCC has subsequently abandoned forecasting emissions scenarios, because the technology of energy production over the next 100 years is completely unpredictable.”

Finally, Wojick notes that the National Assessment report glosses over or ignores the potential benefits of global warming “many of which are discussed in the underlying studies.” For example, “The models predict that over half of the present desert land in the Southwest will become agriculturally productive without irrigation, due to increased precipitation. This fact is not even mentioned as a potential benefit,” says Wojick.

Some Utilities Trying to Revive Early Credits Legislation

Faced with hundreds of billions of dollars in added costs from the Environmental Protection Agencys proposed New Source Review regulations, the Edison Electric Institute and several major member companies have started lobbying key members of Congress to revive Kyoto early action credits legislation. Apparently, some utilities have decided that if they fail to stop New Source Review, then they should find some way to benefit financially.

A number of meetings between top EEI officials and members of Congress have been reported. Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has apparently been encouraged to revive the early action credits bill sponsored by Smiths predecessor as chairman, the late Sen. John Chafee (R-RI).

Few details have emerged, but it is clear that EEIs gambit is opposed by many of its member companies. These companies understand that early action credits makes implementation of the Kyoto Protocol inevitable (Energy Daily, April 4, 2000).

Greenpeace, BP-Amoco Clash Again

Despite green rhetoric and obeisance to global warming by its CEO, Sir John Browne, BP-Amoco is increasingly under attack from environmentalists and Greenpeace in particular.

At BPs annual shareholders meeting on April 13, Greenpeace an a coalition of “socially responsible” investors headed by Trillium Asset Management introduced a resolution calling on BP to stop its $600 million Northstar field in the Arctic Ocean of Alaska and to redirect the money to solar energy development.

The resolution further directed BP to cease lobbying to open ANWR to oil exploration and to cease all further exploration in Alaskas North Slope.

Thirteen percent of proxy votes cast, representing about 7 percent of the total share register, were in favor of the resolution, a stunning result for a nuisance resolution. Previous similar shareholders resolutions have received only 1 or 2 percent.

Greenpeace representatives were ecstatic. “Im shocked and Im very pleased,” said Matthew Spencer of Greenpeace. “Its unprecedented. Theres never been that level of support for an environmental resolution this side or the other side of the Atlantic . Following this vote they (the board) are going to have to come back with a plan.”

Sir John Browne responded by saying that BP is “the worlds largest solar company,” and is expanding its solar business rapidly (World Wire, April 13, 2000).

Nothing NOVA Under the Sun

PBS vehicles NOVA and Frontline, whose “balance” typically extends to well-timed sops to Congressional critics, garnered advance plaudits for their evenhanded look at global warming, “Whats up with the weather?” Even the Washington Post assigned a reporter either ultimately swayed by the absence of malice or truly coming to the party with no preset agenda. His Style-page preview promised low-level teeth gnashing for Cooler Heads opting to tune in.

While NOVA/Frontline dropped enough hints to terrify any fool into commuting to a World Bank riot by bicycle, the show did not directly answer its own question: Whats up with the weather? The program included the requisite video cavalcade of severe weather juxtaposed with expressions of economic concern.

The surface temperature record sufficed as the ultimate arbiter of climatic trends without any discourse on its serious shortcomings. Temperatures and precipitation “different than normal” were presented as persuasive evidence that man is warming the planet. And dissenters were presented as “a small band” of unenlightened “skeptics,” though their ranks were ably represented by Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen, Fred Palmer and others.

Alarming temperature projections extrapolated from a select past few years predicted Venus on the Potomac. Then came red heat lines emanating from a depiction of the earths surface, closely resembling a barbecue. Photojournalistic balance neither preceded nor followed. “Industry science” was presented as such, with no mention of the tremendous boodle enticing Warmer scientists. Apologies for the weakness of models were allowed, but not the blistering assessment they deserve.

While the show came down on the side that mankind is causing global warming, it took a surprisingly critical look at possible solutions. With nuclear power and even hydropower ruled out by environmentalists, there arent any practical alternatives to fossil fuels in the short run.

Also made clear was the fact that if India, China, and other developing countries are going to advance economically, then they are going to have to burn a lot more coal and oil.

Australian Minister Calls For Compliance With Kyoto

Calling the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions “inevitable,” Australias Federal Minister for the Environment, Robert Hill told an audience at a conference in Sydney that defeating Kyoto now would only lead to harsher emission reduction targets in the future. “There, of course, would be no guarantee that this new process would take into account our national circumstances in the way we were able to achieve in Kyoto.

“There is likely to be an ever-increasing demand for governments around the world, and the people they represent, to take action,” said Hill. “And the science which has driven this global call for action is becoming more certain, rather than less certain” (Sydney Morning Herald, March 31, 2000).

Advance News On New IPCC Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is close to releasing its next report on global warming, and contributors have already begun bickering over what the weighty text (1,000+ pages) does and doesnt say.

Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and co-author of several sections of the new report, claims that the text “made for a sharper statement” linking warming to human activity compared to the IPCCs 1995 report. Trenberth attributes this shift to the warm final years of the last decade and new computer models which leave him convinced that “climate change has emerged from the noise of natural variability.” Finally, he points to the new reports focus on “negative elements,” which tend to mitigate or obscure global warming, such as sulfate aerosols.

On the other hand, Richard Lindzen, MIT professor and lead author of one chapter, reads the report differently. “Were really no closer to attributing [global warming since the 19th century] to anything in particular.” He laments “the assumption that [computer climate] models are good surrogates for the data.”

For their part, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) refuses to comment “until we have completed our review of all the chapters” (Washington Post, April 18, 2000).

All of this raises a question: if the authors of the definitive report on the causes of global warming cant agree on the conclusions of the report they just wrote, can we expect open-minded policy-makers to make sense of this at all? Maybe the IPCC just needs a professional ghostwriter to clear up the confusion.

Recent Icebergs Due to Natural Causes

Xie Simei, Chinese South Pole expert and member of Chinas 14th South Pole Expedition Team, released his findings on the recent break-off of three giant icebergs from the South Pole to the Xinhua News Service (April 18, 2000).

According to Simei, these new icebergs are nothing unusual. The ice and snow that comprise the Antarctic cap, as thick as 2,000 meters, shift constantly, sometimes breaking off pieces that become icebergs. He notes that this activity is especially common in the summer, when drifting icebergs can be seen more easily in satellite photographs.

Although some have attributed the icebergs appearance to global warming, Simei is quick to discount that claim, arguing instead that gravitation, warm weather, and tidal activity are the causes of this phenomenon.

Finally, Simei maintains that gains in snowfall will make up for any Antarctic ice mass lost via icebergs.

In related news, it has been noted that although one of the icebergs was very large 180 miles by 22 miles it is still quite a bit smaller than previous observed icebergs from the same area. The a largest berg ever recorded was “sighted by the U.S. Navy on November 16, 1956, at 60 miles by 208 miles in size,” notes John Daly. “Little America Harbor from 1948-55 was unusable due to the amount of icebergs clogging that area” (www.vision.net.au/~daly).

Ozone Depletion and Global Warming Linked – Again

On April 5th, NASA and several European space agencies announced that the hole in the ozone layer over the Arctic was bigger than ever this past winter. After conducting research over the past several months, they concluded that the Arctic ozone layer was depleted by as much as 60 percent.

As with past efforts to garner media attention for ozone research, the press conference was very selective and misleading. For example, the 60 percent depletion only occurred at a particular altitude, above and below which the ozone layer was not affected. And most importantly, the bottom line effect on ground-level ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) from ozone loss remains so small that scientists still cannot even say that there has been a long-term increase at all.

The press conference was much like any of a dozen others over the years, but with one relatively new wrinkle. Several participants blamed the putatively worsening ozone problem on global warming. Scientist Georgios Amanatidis explained that “Warm air is being trapped at lower levels by greenhouse gases and therefore the upper atmosphere is much colder, which helps trigger the chemical reaction that destroys ozone.” Crossing the line from science to advocacy, Amanatidis concluded that this new research “certainly puts even more emphasis than ever on the need to reduce greenhouse gases as outlined in the Kyoto Protocol.”

This is not the first time the two major global environmental issues were linked in order to sell a policy prescription as a means of killing two birds with one stone. Back in the mid-1970s, when the ozone depletion hypothesis was still new, several scientists insisted that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the class of refrigerants believed to be the main ozone depleters, were global warming gases as well.

Indeed, one 1976 study predicted that CFCs, if unregulated, would overtake carbon dioxide as the primary anthropogenic greenhouse gas by 2000. CFCs greenhouse potential was frequently offered up as a second good reason to ban these compounds, in addition to the main concerns about ozone loss.

But then the policy considerations changed and, strangely enough, so did the science. By 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed, committing the US and other developed nations to CFC reductions based entirely on their ozone depletion potential. By the early 1990s, this treaty was strengthened into a complete ban on CFCs. At this point, there no longer was anything more to be gained by demonizing these compounds as greenhouse gases.

Quite the contrary: the Bush Administration, which was opposed to carbon dioxide emissions reductions, hoped to get credit in a greenhouse context for the CFC reductions the US was already committed to under the Montreal Protocol. Unwilling to give the US this free ride, a number of scientists changed their minds and decided that CFCs were not global warming gases after all. Their reason was that since CFCs deplete the ozone layer and ozone depletion has an offsetting cooling effect, the net greenhouse potential is a wash. From that point on, the already-banned CFCs have stayed off the table in all global warming discussions.

The science (more accurately, the spin put on the science) may have done a flip-flop, but it has been used consistently to support additional international restrictions on industrial activities.

Now we are to believe that the as-yet-unratified Kyoto Protocol will save us from the twin threats of global warming and ozone depletion. Granted, the hypothesis that there may be a link between greenhouse gas-induced stratospheric cooling and increased ozone loss is plausible enough to warrant further research. But if past is any guide, international environmental agreements marketed as two-for-one deals may not be as good a bargain as they sound.

Proposed Wisconsin Wind Farm a Poor Alternative

We recently reported on a study by Glen Schleede, president of Energy Market & Policy Analysis, Inc., about the feasibility of the U.S. Department of Energys Wind Energy Initiative. Now Mr. Schleede has released a second report on a proposed wind farm in Addison, Wisconsin.

The wind farm is a proposal of a Florida Company (FPL Group) and two Midwestern electric wind farm would only produce 0.14 percent of the electricity generated by Wisconsins utilities in 1998. Thus the wind farm would have almost no effect on the reliability of Wisconsins electricity supply nor would it reduce environmental impacts.utilities (WEPCo and Alliant Energy/WP&L), who want to build 33 large windmills, each 320 to 350 feet tall, on the scenic Niagara Escarpment. The companies claim significant energy and environmental benefits for the proposal, but Schleede finds the benefits to be insignificant.

Indeed, the wind farm would only produce 0.14 percent of the electricity generated by Wisconsins utilities in 1998. Thus the wind farm would have almost no effect on the reliability of Wisconsins electricity supply nor would it reduce environmental impacts.

As to the costs of the project, Schleede finds that it “would have significant adverse impact on scenic and other environmental values in the areas where it would be constructed, and an adverse effect on property values and other concerns that underlie well-documented objections to wind farms, particularly in areas such as Addison Township.”

The report can be acquired for a fee by contacting Mr. Schleede at EMPAInc@aol.com.

Nukes Needed to Comply With Kyoto

A new report prepared on behalf of the European Commission by the London-based consulting firm, ERM Energy, says that at least 85 nuclear plants must be built in Europe over the next 20 years if the EU is to meet its compliance targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

The report also noted that other energy sources that do not emit carbon dioxide, such as renewables, are not being developed quickly enough to significantly contribute to meeting Kyoto (The Guardian, April 10, 2000).

Banning Coal Would be Costly for New Zealand

New Zealand came under attack from environmental activists last year for failing to meet a promised reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Action Network awarded them its fossil award after the country promised to reduce its emissions by 5 percent, but increased them by 30 percent instead. A new report by the government of New Zealand says that it could reduce its emissions by 13 percent by banning coal-fired electricity generation, but the plan would increase the cost of electricity by 26 percent.

According to the Dominion (Wellington, March 29, 2000), “The Government wants to ratify this year an international agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, which requires New Zealand to stabilize its greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012.” New Zealand is projected to increase greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent higher than 1990 levels by 2010 under a business as usual scenario.

Currently, New Zealand is focusing primarily on increasing energy efficiency, increasing the use of public transportation, and developing renewable energy technologies.

Automakers, Gore Unveil Prototype Vehicle

A billion dollars just wont buy you much of a car nowadays. At least, not if youre the federal government. Thats how much money the Clinton-Gore Administration has given to the Big 3 automakers under its Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles program (PNGV).

After seven years, a billion dollars from the government, and around five billion from the automakers, a major milestone has been reached: a single prototype unveiled by Gore at a special ceremony and celebration in Washington last week. This car, upon which GM, Ford, and Daimler-Chrysler may base forthcoming models, can get up to 80 miles per gallon of fuel. These diesel/electric hybrid family-sized sedans, when released, will be reasonably priced, save drivers up to $500 per year on gas, and reduce US dependence on foreign oil, claim the programs participants.

Environmental activists have attacked the new car. To begin with these cars use diesel fuel, which environmentalists claim is responsible for much of the localized pollution along roads and highways. “Automakers have used PNGV to focus on harmful, diesel engine technology,” said the Sierra Clubs Jon Schneider.

Further, the PNGVs costs are also the subject of some concern. Depending on whom you ask, the cars will cost between five and seven thousand dollars more to manufacture than conventional automobiles. Vice President Gore has a solution for this problem as well large government tax credits to bring prices closer conventional vehicles.

Theres one last reason that the PNGV epitomizes the governments ineffective approach towards “environmentally-friendly” technologies. Honda and Toyota, also heavily subsidized, are already manufacturing and selling similar hybrid-design automobiles. In contrast, PNGV cars wont be on the road until 2008, assuming that the government coughs up even more subsidies. The final nail in the coffin: the Honda and Toyota models cost about eight thousand dollars less than the PNGV.

Meanwhile, Vice President Gore is hoping to apply the same approach to light trucks and SUVs. Gore had planned to mention such an initiative in his speech at the unveiling, but the Big Three cut him short, refusing to support the proposal. According to an industry spokesman, “All the technologies we are working on do not necessarily apply to different types of vehicles. Expectations need to be managed carefully.”

There is an additional potential problem with the PNGV vehicles. The governments own studies, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have found that a 100 pound per car weight reduction in the passenger fleet would cause approximately 300 additional deaths annually. Given that the PNGV prototypes tout a weight loss on the order of 1,000 pounds, the associated toll, on a fleet-wide basis, could be on the order of 3,000 additional deaths annually. New safety technologies will, perhaps, reduce this toll, but those technologies would have the same life-saving effect in conventional cars as well.

Fuel Cell Drawbacks

Environmental groups have been touting fuel cells in recent years as the solution to the problem of carbon dioxide emissions from internal combustion engines. Major car companies, such as GM and Daimler-Chrysler have been persuaded to invest huge sums in the companies developing these environmentally friendly dynamos, such as Canadas Ballard Technologies. Only now, though, is a key concern cutting through all the greens hype: from where do fuel cells get their energy?

Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen in a reaction that yields water. But where does this hydrogen come from? According to the Economist (April 1, 2000), it can be obtained “by stripping it from hydrocarbon molecules of the sort found in fossil fuels.” This is accomplished in a separate unit known as a reformer. But, “the chemical processes used in reformers release the surplus carbon as carbon dioxide.” Of course, this requires energy, and the most likely source of this energy would be from fossil fuels. Sounds like fuel cells arent all theyre cracked up to be.

Senate Bills Get a Hearing

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 30 held a hearing on two Republican bills addressing global warming, S. 882 and S. 1776. Committee chairman Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) and other members used the opportunity to attack the federal governments global warming program, not for being unnecessary and a complete waste of taxpayer money, but for being inefficient.

Murkowski said that the federal program to study global warming was “unfocused, uncoordinated, and poorly managed,” noted the BNA Daily Environment Report (March 31, 2000). Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said that, “What is needed is a national commitment embodied in a government framework that provides a blueprint for responsible action based on consensus,” he said. “Coordinated action creates consensus.”

Murkowskis bill (S. 882) would authorize $2 billion over 10 years for the Department of Energy to do climate change technology research. Craigs bill (S. 1776) would “consolidate climate change research.”

Canada Further Delays Kyoto Action

Last weeks Canadian inter-province summit on global warming policy was a bust and now its finger-pointing time. The meeting was convened

to determine how the country would divvy up its commitments under the Kyoto accord, which would place emissions limits on nearly all Canadian industries, from electricity production to manufacturing.

The first to walk out of the summit was Quebec Environment Minister Paul Begin who told the Montreal Gazette (March 29, 2000), “We have to decide what we will do in the future, and [the other ministers] refuse.” He accused his colleagues of postponing Kyoto-related decisions for three years and characterized their actions as “irresponsible” and untenable under the wide-sweeping accord.

The story leaked by the meetings other participants, though, casts doubt on Begins accusations. According, again, to the Gazette, Begin was upset with plans to regulate emissions by industry rather than by province. Quebec has the lowest per-capita pollution of all the provinces, a situation that Begin wanted recognized and accounted for.

A leaked document indicates that provincial ministers “balked at a bold plan to reduce Canadas greenhouse-gas emissions” (Gazette, April 3, 2000), leaving the countrys compliance with Kyoto uncertain and environmentalists dismayed. “I dont leave here any more confident that the government is going to follow through on its commitment to reduce greenhouse gases,” said Robert Hornung of the Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank.

The plan, put together by government experts, would have required much change and sacrifice by every province. Led by the Ontario delegation, the ministers demanded additional economic analysis.

Given the division of regulatory power in Canada, compliance with Kyoto will require the efforts of not just the federal government, which ratified the accord, but also of the provincial governments, many of which fear the ramifications of compliance.

The Moon and Climate Change

When it comes to external influences in the climate, the sun receives most of the attention. But according to some researchers, the moon also plays an important role. Three years ago, Gerard Bond of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, discovered a 1500 to 1800-year cycle in the worlds temperatures that corresponds with lunar oscillations. “This puts the Earth in the middle of a warming phase that began at the end of the Little Ice Age, and will carry on until the 24th century,” notes the New Scientist (April 1, 2000).

Bond, who has traced the fluctuation back 100,000 years from sediment cores from the Atlantic Ocean, said, “It seems to be the pacemaker of rapid climate change,” but he had no explanatory mechanism. Charles Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography believes that changes in the alignment of the Sun, Earth and Moon affect the Earths tides, which in turn affect global temperatures.

According to Keeling, strong tides “increase the vertical mixing of water in the oceans, drawing cold ocean water from the depths to the surface, where it cools the atmosphere above.” Weak tides, on the other hand, keep the cold water at the bottom of the sea, thereby allowing the atmosphere to warm up. Indeed, tides were at their peak strength during the worst of the Little Ice Age. Keeling believes that the 1800-year cycle has been the primary driver of climate change for the last 10,000 years.

Unfortunately, Keeling claims that these findings mean that efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are more urgent than ever. Presumably, since the Earth is already warming due to natural causes mans influence on the climate may be even more dangerous than previously thought. Keelings inference is incorrect, however.

This new evidence suggests that greenhouse gases have less of an effect on global temperatures than previously thought. Scientists are still sorting out the relative magnitudes of the different forcings on the climate system, including the magnitude of manmade greenhouse gases. Global temperature increases have been much smaller than predicted by the theory of human-induced global warming, suggesting a much smaller carbon dioxide forcing than that assumed in the computer climate models. Including natural forcings such as the sun, fluctuations in oceanic circulation, and now lunar oscillations, the estimated magnitude of temperature forcing from CO2 should fall even more.

Iceberg Break Due to Ocean Tides not Global Warming

In late March one of the largest icebergs ever broke free of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. “We see an iceberg of this magnitude only once every 50 to 100 years,” noted Mathew Lazzara, senior research specialist at the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC). “This is a naturally occurring phenomenon, but this is not a common thing.” Only a week later a smaller, but still significant, iceberg broke free from the same place.

The iceberg, which is 180 to 185 miles long and 22 miles wide, broke free due to ocean tides, according to the researchers. “As the ice shelf develops and gets influences from the ocean it starts to deteriorate where the ice meets the ocean waters. The ocean tides act upon it, causing it to crack and wearing it away. The ocean currents and the tides are responsible for getting it going and putting it into motion,” said Lazzara.

And what about global warming? “Climate change is not a factor in the break off, although people try to use the event to further their objectives,” said Professor Emeritus Charles Stearns, also of SSEC. “If the ice did not flow off Antarctica, all the water in the oceans would be deposited there. Be glad that all the water in the world does not collect on Antarctica” (University Wire, March 20, 2000).

CBS Hot Air Watch

The latest victim of CBSs morbid fascination with global warming is the science of glacial activity. On March 29, CBSs Bob McNamara played the straight man and let his on camera guests make the case that “Global warming is a reality” and glacial melt “is probably going to be a wake-up call.” But while reporting on the melting glaciers and permafrost from Alaska, McNamara mentioned in passing that, “In Greenland it’s actually getting colder.” So if the warmer weather in Alaska is due to global warming, the colder weather must be due to global warming, too?

If anyone doubts CBS has an agenda here, Dan Rather should erase them: he introduced the Alaska glacier story by casually noting, “Against the backdrop of the latest tornadoes in Texas, US climate experts say global warming and La Nina are making for longer and stronger tornado seasons.” Thats right, Dan, toss in La Nina to give yourself some wiggle room, while snidely suggesting we share collective guilt for the tragic Fort Worth tornado.

Ironically, the very next night CBS proved it can play it straight by airing a story on the virtues of warming for the British climate and its (ever-hopeful) wine industry. Sure, they threw in a few scare lines about disastrous floods and avalanches, but they’ve got to do something to get their viewers excited, right?

Developing countries have been eager to see the Kyoto Protocol put into effect, especially since all of the required emission reductions would occur in the developed countries. The developing countries economies will be effected by the Kyoto Protocol, even though they dont have any emission reduction targets, according to a new report by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE).

The economic effects of the Kyoto Protocol on developing nations will be mixed, says the report. On the one hand, there will be a lowering of world demand for fossil fuels, much of which originates in developing countries. On the other hand, developing countries will experience an increase in competitiveness, especially in the production of emission-intensive goods.

The production and exportation of goods that use a lot of energy such as iron and steel and nonferrous metals will substantially shift to developing countries. This is due to the “carbon leakage” that would occur under the Kyoto Protocol. For every 1000 tons of carbon equivalent reduced in the developed countries, emissions in developed countries are expected to rise by 92 tons, according to the report. The South Korea iron and steel industry, for instance, would experience significant gains in competitiveness if Kyoto is implemented.

Countries that are major exporters of fossil fuels, on the other hand, will see a significant decline in revenues. Middle Eastern countries, Indonesia, and Latin American oil exporters will be hurt as a result of Kyoto. The report notes, for instance, that “The Mexican and Latin American oil industries rely heavily on exports to the United States, where oil consumption is projected to decline by around 15 percent.” Southern Africa will also be severely hurt, “where coal export revenue is projected to fall by US$529 million.

Overall, concludes the report, the net economic effects on the developing world will be positive, but effects will vary from country to country. Southern Africa, China, Brazil, India and Korea would be net beneficiaries under Kyoto, while Venezuela, the Middle East, Colombia, Indonesia and Mexico would be hurt on net. The report notes that the adverse effects of the Kyoto Protocol would be blunted under an international emissions trading system. But the potential benefits would also be reduced under emission trading. The report can be found at www.abare.gov.au.

Norways Government Falls on Anti-Kyoto Vote

After a vote of no confidence on March 8, Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik announced the resignation of his government. The vote was called after a controversy erupted over whether to construct natural gas fired power plants. The government, which opposed the construction, argued that the plants would release too much CO2 and said that construction should be delayed until cleaner technology becomes available.

The opposition, a coalition of conservatives and Labour, favored immediate construction of the plants. They argued that other alternatives, such as further hydroelectric development or importing electricity produced by coal or nuclear power, were unsatisfactory. Environment News Service reported on March 9 that a leading Oslo newspaper, Dagsavisen, had revealed that the government had appointed a secret committee to explore the possibility of electricity rationing if voluntary conservation measures failed. Norways government is the first to fall over its support for the Kyoto Protocol.

Cooler Heads Sues EPA

The Cooler Heads Coalition, a group of two dozen policy institutes and other non-profit organizations, filed suit on March 13 against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint seeks injunctive relief prohibiting the EPA from continuing to withhold documents in its possession, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The Cooler Heads FOIA requests date back to the early summer of 1999 and seek documents relating to apparent “backdoor implementation” of the Kyoto Protocol. The Cooler Heads specifically sought information relating to EPAs “global warming” and “climate change” policies, the Business Council for a Sustainable Energy Future, Climate Change Initiative, emissions trading schemes, and the Paperwork Reduction Act. These FOIA requests seek paperwork documenting the EPAs efforts to circumvent agency authority and congressional intent.

Cooler Heads Counsel Christopher C. Horner alleged in the complaint that EPA delayed acting on the Coalitions request for a fee waiver for seven months, even though such requests are routinely granted to non-profit organizations. Horner discovered through other FOIA requests that the only fee waiver requests rejected during 1999 were those sought by the Cooler Heads.

EPAs attempts to withhold the requested information, said Horner, indicates that it is well aware that its actions may well violate the Knollenberg restrictions, a limitation placed upon federal agencies that they take no actions to implement the Kyoto Protocol until it is submitted to and ratified by the Senate.

“Given that the Administration has signed Kyoto but shown no interest in permitting the Senate to debate it, it would appear EPA would prefer to continue these impermissible activities, effectively usurping the Senates constitutional duty of advice and consent regarding the implementation of international treaties,” said Horner.

Can EPA Regulate CO2 Emissions?

For two years, the Environmental Protection Agency and Congressional oversight committees have argued over whether the EPA has the authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. In a recent letter, Congressmen David McIntosh (R-Ind.) and Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) told EPA General Counsel Gary Guzy that, “We are more convinced than ever that the CAA does not authorize EPA to regulate CO2.”

The EPA has asserted that it does, however. Former EPA General Counsel Jonathan Z. Cannon said in a memorandum that “pollutants” that fall under EPAs jurisdiction include “any physical, chemical, biological, or radioactive substance or matter that is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air.” Congress was understandably concerned that the EPA had assumed de facto authority to implement the Kyoto Protocol under this definition.

Congressmen McIntosh and Calvert countered saying that, “The term air pollutant does not automatically apply to any substance emitted into the ambient air. Such a substance must also be an air pollutant agent” and “EPA has never determined that,” they said.

“Furthermore, in view of the well-known fact that CO2 is a benign substance and the foundation of the planetary food chain, we are appalled by the Administrations insistence that EPA might be able to regulate CO2 as a toxic or hazardous air pollutant” (www.weathervane.org).

Potential Health Effects of Global Warming

The U.S. Global Change Research Program has released its findings regarding the effects of possible future global warming on human health in the United States. The workshop summary, part of the National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability, appears in the current issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (http://ehis.niehs.nih.gov).

According to the researchers, “We conclude that the levels of uncertainty preclude any definitive statement on the direction of potential future change for each of these health outcomes, although we developed some hypotheses.” The health outcomes considered by the researchers included, “temperature-related morbidity and mortality; health effects of extreme weather events (storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and precipitation extremes); air-pollution-related health effects; water- and food-borne diseases; and vector- and rodent-borne diseases.”

In the discussion of vectorborne diseases such as malaria and dengue and yellow fever the authors note, “The ecology and transmission dynamics of these vectorborne infections are complex and the factors that influence transmission are unique to each disease. It is not possible, therefore, to make broad generalizations on the effect of climate on vectorborne diseases.” The authors point out however, that these diseases are largely unknown in the U.S. “mainly because of changes in land use, agricultural methods, residential patterns, human behavior, and vector control.”

According to the authors, the presence of dengue fever, for instance, “is greatly influenced by house structure, human behavior, and general socioeconomic conditions.” For example, “In the period 1980-1996, 43 cases were recorded in Texas as compared to 50,333 in the three contiguous border states in Mexico.”

Regarding extreme weather events, the report states, “Climate models currently are unable to accurately project changes in extreme events such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes, making it difficult to assess future potential health impacts of such events.” It then proceeds to discuss in detail deaths, injuries and damages from past extreme events as well as a discussion of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The report also notes that, “Death rates are higher in the winter than in the summer and it is expected that milder winters could reduce the number of deaths in winter months.” The report concludes, “We found that most of the U.S. population is presently protected against adverse health outcomes associated with weather and/or climate, although certain demographic and geographic populations are at increased risk. Vigilance in the maintenance and improvement of public health systems and their responsiveness to changing climate conditions and to identified vulnerable subpopulations should help protect the U.S. population from any adverse health outcomes of projected climate change.”

Urban Heat in Atlanta

The recent report by the National Research Council claims that the surface-based temperature record is essentially correct. There may be some problems with that assertion, however. According to new research by NASA, the urban heat island effect may be greater than previously thought. Using satellite-based, remote-sensing technology researchers have found that, “Urban Atlanta can reach 5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit or higher than surrounding rural areas.


It has long been recognized that the urban heat island effect causes an upward bias in the surface temperature data. Scientists have attempted to adjust the data to eliminate the bias, and it is generally thought that they have been successful. But, as John Daly notes on his webpage (www.vision.net/~daly), that, “Data from GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) shows that Atlanta has warmed about 2 degrees C in the last 100 years compared with Newnan, a small town about 50 kilometers southwest of Atlanta. But the GISS adjustment for urbanization in Atlanta is only 1 degree C.”

This suggests that the adjustments have been inadequate. Daly shows other dubious adjustments on his website. Denver has only been adjusted +0.1 degrees C, even though it has experience tremendous growth since 1933 when the data begin.

CBS Climate Hype

Dan Rather: a shill for the environmental lobby? You decide. Witness two adjacent articles on the CBS News website, evidence of the network’s latest mis-fired salvo in the global warming battle.

In the first, “Antarctica Just Got Smaller,” from the AP newswire, Matthew Lazzara, senior researcher at the University of Wisconsin, describes the separation of a 4,200 square mile iceberg from the Ross Ice Shelf as an event that happens with some regularity: “I guess a berg of this magnitude breaks off every 50 to 100 years, and it’s been that long for one to break off this size on this end of the continent.” Lazzara claims its just too early to chalk this event up to global warming. “The ice shelves, this is their job. They calve off icebergs all the time, but they’re usually much smaller.”

Now for the spin: in a story reported on the evening news only hours later (and subsequently published on the Internet), “Sea Temperatures On The Rise,” correspondent Russ Mitchell rounded up the usual suspects for a global warming love-in. According to the article, the new iceberg “is a casualty due in part to a world in hot water,” which the story mysteriously attributes to “scientists,” none of whom would apparently let their name be tied to such an irresponsible remark. Sydney Levitus used the segment as a platform to push his latest NOAA research on ocean warming-funding-time must be near. Scare-monger David Hawkins of the Natural Resource Defense Council chimes in, “We need to be careful. We are destroying the atmosphere. Things are getting worse.”

The same could be said of CBS News with regard to journalistic integrity.