September 2001

 Artful Bias or Outright Deception?

The IPCCs assessment reports and especially its summaries for policymakers have been criticized from many quarters and have been shown to contain many errors and weaknesses. One of the most recent criticisms, and perhaps the most devastating, is the one authored by Dr. David Wojick, president of, who has a Ph.D. in mathematical logic and philosophy of science.

In the report, The UN IPCCs Artful Bias, Wojick analyzes the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) for Working Group I, which deals with the science, of the IPCCs Third Assessment Report. According to Wojick, the SPM “is an artfully constructed presentation of just the science that supports the fear of human induced climate change. It is as one sided as a legal brief, which it resembles.” Wojick goes on to argue, “A line by line analysis of the SPM reveals that all of the science that cuts against the theory of human interference with climate has been systematically omitted.”

The first problem that Wojick presents is that the IPCC ignores the errors in the surface temperature data. The SPM claims, “The global average surface temperature has increased over the 20th century by about 0.6 degrees C.” The certainty expressed in this statement, says Wojick, is unwarranted.

Despite the many problems with the surface temperature record, the IPCC only briefly mentions the urban heat island effect and claims that all errors have been taken into account, without explanation. But as Wojick explains, “There is no way to correct for most measurement errors, including the urban heat island effect. The magnitude of these errors, which may be quite large, is simply unknown. The supposed corrections that have been made to date are merely guesswork.”

Moreover, the temperature data that we have is not a random sample of the Earths surface, but a “convenience sample,” or data that is the most convenient. The IPCCs “reference to data gaps,” says Wojick, “suggests that sometimes a station did not record, or the data is bad, not that there is in actuality no data for most of the earth, most of the time. So the fact that we merely have a convenience sample is either omitted, or cleverly disguised.”

The importance of this point is that the IPCC has calculated its confidence levels as if it had a random sample. Given that the sample is not random, the margin of error in the data is much larger than suggested by the IPCC.

Other problems with the IPCCs SPM is how it glosses over the “profound contradiction” between the satellite temperature record and the surface record, the huge uncertainties with regard to aerosols, the omission of natural sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and the inadequate treatment of the chaotic nature of the Earths climate. The full critique can be found at

No Rise in New England Hurricanes

Another peer-reviewed scientific study of hurricanes has failed to find a trend in hurricane activity in the United States, let alone a link between hurricane activity and global warming. The study, published in Ecological Monographs (71: 2001), looks at hurricane data from 1620-1997.

What the authors found was that, “there was no clear century-scale trend in the number of major hurricanes.” They did find that there were more lower intensity hurricanes reported in the 19th and 20th centuries than there were in the 17th and 18th centuries. But the authors attribute the difference to “improvements in meteorological observations and records since the early 19th century.” Also, the data from the last 200 years show that there were five of the strongest category hurricanes reported in the cooler 19th century and only one reported during the 20th century.


  • The Skeptical Environmentalist Looks at Global Warming and the Kyoto Protocol

Professor Bjorn Lomborg will speak at a Cooler Heads Coalition congressional and media briefing from noon to 1:30 PM on Thursday, 4th October, in Room HC-5 of the U. S. Capitol. Lomborg is author of the Skeptical Environmentalist, which was published in the U. S. this month by Cambridge University Press and which has received rave reviews. Those wishing to attend the briefing must Rsvp to Michael Mallinger at CEI: telephone (202) 331-1010, ext. 254, or e-mail: Please give your name, affiliation, phone number, and e-mail address.

Environmentalists Defeated on Two Fronts

Local residents of a small rural community in Great Britain have succeeded in defeating the construction of a biomass power plant. The proposed wood-fueled power plant, costing 10 million pounds sterling, was turned down by the North Wilshire District Council following an appeal by Ambient Energy, the company behind the plan.

Ambient Energy argued that the power plant would produce enough energy for 10,000 homes without creating greenhouse gas emissions. But a group organized by Cricklade residents, known as BLOT (Biomass Lumbered on our Town) argued that the plant, that would include two 80 foot chimney stacks and two 50 foot burners would be an eyesore, and create an increase of traffic of heavy trucks. Rodney Baker, the planning inspector said, “The scheme would have a noticeable and harmful effect on the character and amenity of the landscape” (Western Daily Press, September 17, 2001).

Residents of Eugene, Oregon have voted by a greater than 2 to 1 margin to reopen a downtown pedestrian mall to vehicle traffic (Associated Press, September 19, 2001). The margin of the vote is surprising in that Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, is known throughout the Northwest as the Peoples Republic of Eugene for its leftist politics.

The pedestrian mall was the centerpiece of a 1971 urban renewal plan that was supposed to “bring new life to the citys center, providing shoppers with a progressive, car-free city core geared to pedestrian traffic” (The Oregonian, September 17, 2001). The anti-car plan backfired, however, as businesses fled to the suburbs due to decreased sales.

“If you do it and it doesnt work, then you change it. And they never changed it,” said Bill Combs, Jr., who moved his shoe store from the downtown mall in 1990. “No traffic. No cars. That was the problem. They essentially killed retail downtown.”

New Jersey Initiates Voluntary Cap and Trade Program

The state of New Jersey has unveiled a voluntary cap and trade program for carbon dioxide emissions. According to John J. Fialka of The Wall Street Journal, the program creates incentives for companies, government agencies, and individual consumers to trade credits for emissions.

The plan is the brainchild of former Governor Christine Todd Whitman, who led a task force to calculate the expected costs of rising sea levels in 1994. This effort led current New Jersey state environmental minister Robert Shinn, Jr. to conclude that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be the most cost-effective approach to abating the rise in sea levels in 1997.

After making this announcement, Shinn conducted an audit of existing voluntary greenhouse gas reduction programs in New Jersey and concluded that the state could reduce its emissions to 3.5 percent below 1990 levels by 2005. This led him to demand the states seven largest utilities to develop a standardized measurement system for their emissions. In addition, he persuaded nine major companies with headquarters in the state to sign a “covenant of sustainability” under which they promise to monitor and reduce emissions.

The “carrot” of the program is funded through the “societal benefit charge” imposed on electricity users through the states electricity restructuring. This fund, used to compensate individuals and companies that participate in the trading and reduction program or install energy-efficiency or renewable energy equipment, is expected to generate more than $358 million over the next three years.

New Jersey joins Massachusetts as the only states currently regulating carbon dioxide emissions. New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Florida, and Illinois are considering similar programs (Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2001).

A Greener Planet

A new study slated to appear in the September 16 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres has found that warmer temperatures and elevated levels of carbon dioxide have led to a greening of the northern hemisphere. Contrary to conventional wisdom, which portrays global warming as an unmitigated disaster, this new study confirms what numerous other studies have found; that many benefits may result from a warmer planet.

A press release from the American Geophysical Union explains that, “Researchers using satellite data have confirmed that plant life above 40 degrees north latitude (New York, Madrid, Ankara, Beijing) has been growing more vigorously since 1981 due to rising temperatures and buildup of greenhouse gases, and Eurasia seems to be greening more than North America, as existing vegetation is more lush for longer periods of time” (

One of the researchers, Ranga Myneni, of Boston University, “suggested that these results are indicative of a greener greenhouse. This is an important finding because of possible implications to the global carbon cycle, he said. Further, Myneni said, under the Kyoto Protocol, most of the developed countries in the north can use certain vegetation carbon sinks to meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments. If the northern forests are greening they may already be absorbing carbon dioxide. Myneni said, As to how much and for how long, that needs more research.”

Warming and Cooling in Alaska

Global warming alarmists have repeatedly pointed to warmer temperatures in Alaska as a major sign that significant global warming has already arrived. Recent research, however, has found that Alaska has undergone similar periods of warming before man began to burn fossil fuels.

In a study in the August 21 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Feng Sheng Hu, a professor of plant biology and geology at the University if Illinois, and his co-authors, constructed a continuous 2,000-year temperature record of the area by analyzing sediment samples from Farewell Lake, near the northwest foothills of the Alaska Range. What they found was that there were two periods of warm climatic conditions that occurred in A.D. 0-300 and 850-1200, which were also characterized by dryer than normal conditions.

An article about the study noted that Dr. Hu and postdoctoral associate Will Turner did a follow up study that found that forest fires were more abundant during the Little Ice Age than during warming periods, contradicting global warming predictions (


  • The Los Angeles Times (September 1, 2001) reports that the San Fernando Valley is experiencing its coolest summer since 1987. According to Tim McClung, a Weather Service meteorologist, “The average temperature in downtown Los Angeles in July was 71 degrees, 3.9 degrees below the normal average of 74.9. The average August was 72 degrees, 4 degrees below the average of 76.”

 Wind Power Cheaper than Coal?

“The cost of wind energy is now less than that of coal.” With that startling declaration, Mark Z. Jacobson and Gilbert M. Masters, with the Department of Civil Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, conclude that the U.S. could meet its Kyoto target by replacing 59 percent of coal energy with between 214,000 and 236,000 wind turbines (Science, August 24, 2001).

How do they come to this conclusion? They point out that the direct cost of energy from a new coal power plant is about 3.5 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). But, claim the authors, there are many costs associated with coal use that are not accounted for.

“Coal-mine dust kills 2,000 U.S. miners yearly, and since 1973, the federal black lung-disease benefits program has cost $35 billion,” say Jacobson and Masters. “Coal emissions also cause acid deposition, smog, visibility degradation, and global warming; its particles increase asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and mortality.” Including these costs, say the authors, increases the cost of coal to 5.5 to 8.3 cents per kWh.

Wind power, on the other hand, only costs 3 to 4 cents per kWh. There is no mention of externality costs associated with wind power, however. Many of the costs that are attributed to coal are dubious, to say the least. Linking asthma to particulate pollution seems weak, since asthma rates have been going up even while particulate concentrations have fallen.

Moreover, most experts attribute the rise in asthma to higher levels of indoor air pollution. The harmful effects of acid deposition have been greatly exaggerated, and there is no evidence of any costs associated with higher carbon dioxide levels or global warming.

Glen Schleede, president of Energy Market and Policy Analysis, Inc., has heavily criticized the report. He notes several external costs associated with wind power that are ignored by Jacobson and Masters, including scenery impairment, noise, property value losses, the need for massive infrastructure investment to transport electricity from remote wind farms, and the provision of backup power to alleviate intermittency problems associated with wind power.

Moreover, the assumptions behind the analysis are wrong. Schleede points out, for example, that Jacobson and Masters assume that windmills have a capacity factor of between 35.8 and 39.6 percent. In reality, capacity factors are much smaller. Schleede assumes a 30 percent capacity factor (which is still higher than that currently seen in practice) to determine that it would take as many as 366,000 wind turbines to replace 59 percent of coal power.

Finding suitable sites for so many windmills (which are 300 ft. tall) would pose serious difficulties. Schleedes full critique, “Science article is wrong in claiming that wind energy is cheaper then coal,” can be found at

Speaking of costs, a proposed wind farm on a remote hillside in northeast Scotland has met with significant resistance. According to the September 1 issue of the Independent (London), “Accusations of foul play, misinformation, environmental destruction and dirty tricks have abounded in a fight over the siting of 21 turbines, each as large as a 30-story block of flats.” Worries about the adverse effects on local property values are a major concern to property owners in the area.

Renewable Energy Cant Compete in UK

Britains energy regulator, Ofgem, has told the government that more subsidies may be required for renewable energy if it is to meet the stringent greenhouse gas targets it has set for the country, according to the Financial Times (September 1, 2001). Britain has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 23 percent below 1990 levels by 2010, and it wants half of those reductions to come through the use of renewable energy.

After implementing the New Electricity Trading Arrangements (NETA) five months ago, there has been a drop in wholesale electricity prices of 20 to 25 percent for large power generators and a drop of 17 percent for smaller generators including renewable energy generators.

Producers of renewable energy claim that the new arrangement has harmed them disproportionately relative to the rest of the electric power industry, mainly because they are unable to predict power output due to the intermittency problems that plague renewable energy. NETA “requires power producers to forecast output four hours in advance, and to buy any shortfall at premium prices.”

Ofgems chief executive, Callum McCarthy, is unapologetic. “Put simply, reliable plant commands a premium under NETA, as the majority of electricity customers want a reliable source of supply and the electricity system needs to be kept in balance to maintain the security and quality of supply” (Daily Telegraph, September 1, 2001).

“If for wider environmental reasons the government wishes to encourage forms of renewable generation whose output is less predictable or less reliable,” said McCarthy, it should “consider additional support to these types of generators” (Financial Times).