February 2004

Case for Greenhouse Gas Forcing Suffers Further Blow

In an article in the March Scientific American, James Hansen, father of global warming alarmism (along with then-Senator Al Gore, Jr.), implicitly acknowledges that climate models have failed to reflect accurately what is causing the small warming trend recently observed.

Hansen summarizes, Human-made forces, especially greenhouse gases, soot and other small particles, now exceed natural forces, and the world has begun to warm at a rate predicted by climate models.

This would surely qualify as validation of the climate models if the models included all the forcings Hansen claims.  In fact, as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made clear, most climate models rely primarily on greenhouse gas forcings and include little or no estimate for the other forcings Hansen now considers so important.  In other words, if the Earth is warming at a rate predicted by the models, this is more coincidence than anything else, because the models clearly overestimated the effect of greenhouse gas forcings.

Underlining the greater importance of other factors, Richard Somerville (a professor of meteorology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and the organizer of a symposium on aerosols at the AAAS meeting in Seattle, titled “Our Hazy Atmosphere: Aerosols and Climate) announced in a press release, It has become clear that local effects on the heat budget from aerosols can be substantially larger than those from greenhouse gases.  I believe we are at a very early stage of understanding the effect of aerosols.  Aerosols come from all kinds of sources: dust blown off the Sahara by wind, particles emitted from smokestacks, gas from volcanoes.  There are many, many complicated interactions with aerosols that we are just beginning to learn about.

More Problems with Hockey Stick

To add to the problems surrounding the failure to reproduce the long-term historical data in the hockey stick graph on which much of global warming alarmism depends (see last few issues), new questions have been raised about the end of the curve (the blade of the hockey stick).

Writing in Geographical Research Letters (Feb. 14), Willie Soon, David Legates, and Sallie Baliunas found that they were unable to reproduce exactly the extremely sharp upturn depicted in the IPCC graph using any of three standard methods for analyzing trend data.  While they still found an upturn, their analysis found a difference of around 0.25 C., which appeared to be at least in part due to unjustified data-padding.

The inventor of the hockey stick, Michael Mann, responded by launching an ad hominem attack on Willie Soon (UPI, Jan. 26): The researcher has produced very poor work in the past, and isn’t taken seriously in the climate community, Mann told UPI.  This sounds like another in their installation of just bad work.  He added: I’m amazed this paper got into print. They don’t even try to determine what method we used.  Our method was described in more detail in other papers.

Hoffa Says Kerry Will Drill for Oil All Over the United States

The Teamsters Union has endorsed Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) for president.  On February 18, Chris Matthews interviewed Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. on Hardball and asked him about Kerrys votes against oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the Teamsters top legislative goals.  Here is an excerpt from the interview:

MATTHEWS: How about ANWR? You guys want to see ANWR because you want to see guys working in your business.  I guess theres a lot of Teamsters jobs up there lined up and organized, if you could put a pipeline up to the Alaska wilderness.  He [Kerry] is against that.

HOFFA: Well, we talked about that.   He says, look, I am against ANWR, but I am going to put that pipeline in and were going to drill like never before.

MATTHEWS: But he is against drilling up there.  What are they going to run through the pipeline?

HOFFA: Well, they are going to drill all over, according to him.  And he says, were going to be drilling all over the United States.  And he says that is going to create more jobs.

MATTHEWS: It just seems amazing that he has turned around on NAFTA, turned around on WTO, turned around on ANWR, anything to get the Teamsters.


This excerpt has been tidied up to remove crosstalk.  The full interview transcript is available on the MSNBC site at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4302564/.  The League of Conservation Voters has also endorsed Senator Kerry for president.

Big Utility Expects Caps on Emissions

Despite the domino-like collapse of the international consensus on Kyoto, American Electric Power (AEP) announced February 16 that it expected emissions caps to be imposed in America at some point.

According to Reuters, We don’t expect Kyoto timeframes to be enforced in the United States but we do expect international consensus on this issue (CO2 emissions) will prevail in the United States, Susan Tomasky, chief financial officer at AEP told a conference.

Proposals by some states in the Northeast to curb CO2 emissions were impractical but were a sign of pressure mounting on the United States to do more to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, Tomasky said.  The difficulty is where the emissions are and where the regulatory push is.  In the Midwest where most coal-fired plants are, regulators don’t want anything to do with (Kyoto), she said. This is not a local problem.  You can’t address it on a state basis.

AEP is one of the worlds largest producers of carbon dioxide emissions and has long hoped to profit from credits for switching from coal-fired power plants to gas turbines.

Time to Move On from Kyoto World Energy Council

Claiming that the Kyoto Protocol had served its purpose by raising awareness, but was now irrelevant, the World Energy Council has called for different approaches to the emissions issue.

Reuters reported (Feb. 12), The Kyoto climate treaty is irrelevant and it is time to move on and boost investment in reliable, clean energy for the future, although prices will rise, a leading international energy official said on Thursday.  World Energy Council Secretary General Gerald Doucet said he doubted the Kyoto pact would ever come into effect, with Russia and Australia unlikely to ratify the treaty that aims to cut the emission of gases causing global warming by 5.2 percent by 2012.

Kyoto has served a political purpose but, in reality, will make no difference to actual levels of greenhouse gas emissions, Doucet said in an interview with Reuters.  The focus in energy markets since the last world congress three years ago had shifted from environmental concerns, and ensuring reliability and access to energy supplies from 2010 to 2030 was now the main issue.  Setting arbitrary targets was misguided, said Doucet, ruling out another world climate treaty along the lines of Kyoto and calling for international partnerships on clean technology such as the 15-nation Carbon Capture Sequestration Leadership Forum.

Wind Farms Reduce Property Values

A court in the United Kingdom has ruled that wind farms reduce the value of nearby properties owing to their excessive noise pollution.

A couple who had bought a house close to the site of a since-built wind farm without being informed of the plans were awarded over $25,000 in damages as a resultone-eighth of the value of the property.  The Daily Telegraph reported (Feb. 14), The district judge explained that he arrived at [a figure for damages] by listening to the arguments of chartered surveyors employed by both sides and concluding that the wind farm reduced the value of Poaka Beck House by 20 per cent.  In 1997, the property would have been worth 150,000, had there been no plans for a wind farm, he ruled.  Had the farm been in place at that time, on the other hand, the property would have been worth only 120,000. As Barry and Gillian had paid 132,500, they were entitled to 12,500 in damages plus interest, bringing the total to 15,000.

The case has important repercussions because the wind-farm industry has argued for some time that turbines do not devalue homes.  Indeed, until recently the website of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) stated, under the heading Top 10 myths about wind farms, that the proximity of a wind energy development does not adversely affect property prices.

British Government Continues Attacks on U.S. on Climate Change

Following up his attacks on President Bushs position on climate change (see last issue), Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to Her Majestys Government, addressed the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle on February 13.  Sir David did not repeat his assertion that global warming was worse than terrorism, but still called on the Bush Administration to change its stance and provide global leadership to confront a very real threat.

Londons Independent commented (Feb. 16) that, [Sir David] is speaking with the backing of the Prime Minister, who has decided that trying to make progress on tackling climate change should be a key priority when Britain both chairs the G8 group of the world’s richest countries and holds the presidency of the European Union next year.

His close adviser, Peter Mandelson, MP, said last week that Mr. Blair regarded climate change as a threat second only to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.  Downing Street sees differences on global warming as an opportunity to demonstrate that Mr. Blair is not Mr. Bush’s poodle.  However, senior officials are worried that he will nevertheless fight shy of a direct personal confrontation with the President on the issue.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is pressing forward with its ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions.  Reuters reported (Feb. 18) that, Carbon dioxide quotas for [power] generators, the main CO2 polluters [sic], would be 13.2 percent below the sector’s average annual emissions in 1998-2002.   The offshore oil and gas industry, the second largest industrial polluter, would be required to cut its carbon emissions by 37.6 percent from levels in 1998-2002.

The Reuters story ended with the interesting claim that, The government has said it expects the power sector to bear the brunt of the CO2 cuts as it faces little international competition and can recoup the costs through higher electricity prices.  In other words, consumers (including producers of manufactured goods) will actually bear the brunt of the cuts, not the power sector.

European Consensus on Kyoto Cracks Further

Finland has become the latest member of the European Union to deviate from the party line on the Kyoto Protocol, at least speculatively.  The Finnish news organization YLE reported February 18 that, Trade and Industry Minister Mauri Pekkarinen commented on Saturday that Finland had taken on too much by signing up to the treaty.   Pekkarinen added that Finland would demand further talks on redistributing discharge levels more equally if the Kyoto treaty is not ratified in its current form. Finland is already committed to the preliminary stage of the deal from 2005 to 2007.

However, Pekkarinen felt it necessary to deny suggestions that he had suggested Finland should withdraw from the treaty.  Helsingen Sanomat reported (Feb. 18), Pekkarinen roundly denied that he had said anything of the sort, commenting that his only message had been that emission rights trading was to start and that Finland is preparing itself for this.

Nevertheless, Pekkarinen does support the idea that if the treaty is not ratified in its present form in the near future, Finland should become more active within the European Union to seek a renegotiation of the accord and the more equitable distribution of discharge levels.

The entire world should be on board, and not merely the countries that generate 15% of the emissions.  But even this is a matter of negotiations, and not of wriggling out, stressed Pekkarinen.  There has been concern among Finnish industry representatives recently that the implementation of the reduction in emissions required by Kyoto will noticeably increase energy prices.  Pekkarinen himself has earlier commented that in his view Finland may have taken on an overly ambitious commitment to reduce emissions when these matters were decided within the EU in 1997.

Junk Science Group Accuses Bush Administration of Suppressing Junk Science

The Union of Concerned Scientists, a $9 million leftist pressure group dedicated to alarming the public with junk science, has issued a report that strongly condemns the Bush Administration for distorting science in many areas, including climate change.  At the same time, UCS released a statement titled Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking signed by sixty leading scientists, including twenty Nobel Prize winners.

There is nothing new in the report, which merely repeats accusations of political censorship of the EPAs State of the Environment report last year, which found that environmental quality in the U. S. was improving in most areas.  It claims that Soon et al.s work on the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period had been discredited.  By contrast, it bewails President Bushs disparaging remarks about the Administrations Climate Action Report 2002, that relies on models to predict regional climate impacts that are no more accurate than tables of random numbers by the admission of one of the authors.

No mention is made of the administrations use or lack of use of the Federal Data Quality Act, which requires that information disseminated by the federal government must meet minimal standards of objectivity.   The administration settled a suit brought by the Competitive Enterprise Institute against the National Assessment (which is the basis for key parts of Climate Action Report 2002) by admitting that the assessment had not been subjected to data quality standards.

The report and statement are available at http://www2.ucsusa.org/global_environment/rsi/index.cfm.  Anyone may become a concerned scientist by sending $25 to UCS.

 “The Holstein Association USA, Inc. is opposed to attempts to cap greenhouse emissions and is concerned about the resulting increase in energy prices. Our membership is comprised of farmers and breeders who are not able to pass along the increased cost of business that will occur as energy taxes are raised.”

-Richard E. Nelson, Holstein Association USA, Inc., Executive Assistant of Domestic Affairs

Wind Turbines More Deadly to Birds than Thought

According to a new study reported in the Oakland Tribune (Jan. 30), wind turbines have proved more deadly to avian life in the Altamont Pass region of California than previously thought.  The study also suggests that a 1998 plan to reduce fatalities by replacing older machines will not work.
The Tribune says that, The study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, estimates that about 500 birds of prey are killed by wind farms in the Altamont each year, including red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and golden eagles. Previous estimates, based in part on studies paid for by wind farm operators, put the number at between 160 and 400 raptors a year.

The study also found that the repowering plan, thought to be more bird-friendly by reducing the total number of wind turbines and providing handy perches, would not achieve its goals as the modern machines could prove to be more lethal than those they would replace.

Repowering would drastically reduce the number of wind turbines, but result in a slight net increase in the total area “swept” by the larger machines’ longer blades. The study concluded that bird deaths are tied more closely to this factor than the total number of turbinesa finding that contradicts an earlier, industry-sponsored study.

The study also found that existing wind turbines with tubular towers killed birds at a higher rate than models with lattice towers, and that siting new turbines to avoid bird kills may be difficult.

Observers found raptors were attracted to prey such as ground squirrels, gophers and rabbits that make their homes around wind turbines.  Different species of raptors employ varied hunting methods, so what helps one birdnot placing wind turbines on ridge tops, for examplemay harm another, the study said.

Hockey Stick Update from McIntyre and McKitrick

On January 22, Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre posted the following update on Professor McKitricks website:

Despite the long quiet on this page, the past 7 weeks have been very busy for us.  A number of people have written to ask about progress on Part II, while others have interpreted the 7 week gap as a sign that maybe we ran out of material.  No, there is a lot of material, and the challenge has been to sift through it and put it into coherent form.  There are now some new journals involved in handling material that arose from our paper, and we have held back releasing any of the Part II contents connected to these review processes. 

Professor Mann’s response focuses on the role of 3 (out of 22) key indicators available in the 15th century portion of the data base.  His calculations show that without these series the MBH98 results would look like ours, and his assertion is that we improperly “omitted” the series in question.  Our response will establish that the series in question are in fact inadmissible.  Of course the discovery that the 1998 conclusions rest so sensitively on only 3 series already points to the lack of robustness of this famous graph.  But there is much more to be said, when the time comes.

The entire controversy can be accessed at http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/trc.html.

Return to Global Cooling Alarmism

Following the derision that greeted former Vice President Al Gores pronouncements on global warming during the coldest snap for many years, environmental alarmists have been quick to revive long-buried claims of an imminent ice age (caused by global warming this time).

According to a report in Londons Independent (Jan. 25), Britain is likely to be plunged into an ice age within our lifetime by global warming, new research suggests.  A study, which is being taken seriously by top government scientists, has uncovered a change of remarkable amplitude in the circulation of the waters of the North Atlantic.  The developmentdescribed as the largest and most dramatic oceanic change ever measured in the era of modern instruments, by the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which led the researchthreatens to turn off the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe’s weather mild.

The Independent drew comparison with the Younger Dryas period, saying, This froze Britain in continuous permafrost, drove summer temperatures down to 10C and winter ones to -20C, and brought icebergs as far south as Portugal.  Europe could not sustain anything like its present population.  Droughts struck across the globe, including in Asia, Africa and the American west, as the disruption of the Gulf Stream affected currents worldwide.

The newspaper eventually revealed, Some scientists say that this is the worst-case scenario and that the cooling may be less dramatic, with the world’s climate “flickering” between colder and warmer states for several decades. But they add that, in practice, this would be almost as catastrophic for agriculture and civilization.  However, no mention was made of earlier research indicating that the strength of the Gulf Stream has varied considerably in the past, possibly cyclically.


R.I.P., John Daly

The Cooler Heads Coalition was deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of John Daly, custodian of the invaluable web site, Still Waiting for Greenhouse, on January 29.

Johns daughter, Rachel, posted the following on the site (http://www.john-daly.com):

It is with deep sadness that the Daly Family have to announce the sudden death of John Daly.  Condolences may be sent to John’s e-mail account (daly@john-daly.com).  As a lasting tribute to John, weare endeavouring to keep this web site not only active, but also up to date.  If anyone is able to contribute to this in any way, please contact me by email (daly@john-daly.com) and type Rachel in the subject heading.

World Bank Will Not Stop Funding Oil and Coal Projects

Top management at the World Bank have rejected a recommendation that the bank stop funding all oil and coal projects in developing countries, according to the Financial Times (Feb. 3).  The Extractive Industries Review, which was commissioned by the bank and took two years to complete, had recommended that the World Bank cancel all funding for oil and coal projects in order to lower global carbon dioxide emissions.

A draft management response obtained by the Financial Times concluded that, Adopting this policy would not be consistent with the World Bank Group mission of helping to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world.  The paper also reported that environmental pressure groups were upset.

Friends of the Earth Sets Up Shakedown of ExxonMobil

In a press release dated January 29, environmentalist pressure group Friends of the Earth revealed its plans to extort money from ExxonMobil for conducting legal business.

The organization claimed that its research showed that, ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, has caused some five per cent of global, man-made, climate changing carbon dioxide emissions over the last 120 years, which would have significant implications for ExxonMobil’s legal exposure and its shareholders.

The release went on, Friends of the Earth commissioned two studies of ExxonMobil,- which trades as Esso in the UK.  The studies showed the company and its predecessors, caused 4.7 to 5.3 percent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions between 1882 and 2002through its operations and the burning of its products.  The company’s lifetime carbon dioxide emissions have been around 20.3 billion tons, about three times current annual global emissions from fossil fuels (and about 13 times annual U. S. emissions).  UN scientists warned in 1996, that man-made pollution was having a discernible influence on the global climate.  Seven out of the 10 worst years for ExxonMobil’s emissions have occurred since this warning.

Friends of the Earths Director, Tony Juniper, made the threat explicit, saying, This global warming report should send shivers through the boardrooms of oil companies across the world.  For the first time, the long-term impact of one company on climate change has been identified and assessed.  This brings closer the day when the victims of climate change can take legal action against ExxonMobil for the damage its activities have caused and will cause in the future.  ExxonMobil and other oil companies should not stick their heads in the sand like the tobacco companies that knew the harmful impacts of their product and ultimately paid the price.

The release also stated baldly that the reason for targeting ExxonMobil was because of its refusal to pay obeisance to the environmental gods: Friends of the Earth chose ExxonMobil for an assessment because it has repeatedly attempted to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change and actively resisted attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions through law.

Illarionov Explains Russian Position on Kyoto Protocol in Washington

Andrei Illarionov, chief economic adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, re-iterated that Russia would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol under present circumstances at a press conference in Washington, D. C. on January 30 sponsored by the International Council for Capital Formation.  Illarionov gave a masterful presentation that was more a policy briefing than a press conference.  Lasting more than an hour, he used slides to illustrate in detail the scientific and economic issues involved in Russian ratification.

Illarionov said that, The Kyoto Protocol is based on technological illusions and flawed science.  He showed that even moderate economic growth of 4% per year would put Russia over its 2008-12 Kyoto limits by 2017 and remarked that Russias economy had been growing much more quickly than that for the past several years.

Although European Union Commission projections show that only two EU members are on course to meet their Kyoto targets, Illarionov rejected the claim that Russia could benefit by selling emission credits to the EU by pointing out that the EU directive requires that credits be bought first from the EUs new central European members, then from the Ukraine, and last from Russia.  The potential EU demand for credits is less than the potential supply from central European nations and the Ukraine.

In response to persistent questions, Illarionov said that the Russian government would base its ratification decision on Russias national interests and added that non-ratification would also be protecting the interests of the rest of the world.  Since the European Union, Japan, and Canada would suffer the most from the Kyoto Protocol going into force, they should be most grateful if Russia decides not to ratify, Putin concluded.  With the United States unlikely to ratify, the protocol cannot go into force without Russia.

Spain Wants to Re-open EU Debate

The Spanish government on January 26 stated publicly that it wants to open a European Union debate on whether to retain the directive implementing the Kyoto Protocol.  It would do no good to seek to comply with environmental commitments if it brings on unemployment and the relocation of businesses, Energy Secretary Jose Folgado told reporters.

If at an EU level there is a call for studying flexibility in this area, it would be a matter that countries would have to look at together, he continued.  Folgado added that Spain would continue to look for a way to apply its Kyoto limitsemissions of 15 percent above 1990 levelswithout harming industry.

Under the EUs umbrella agreement, Spains target is higher than the EU-wide Kyoto target of 8 percent below 1990 levels.  According to the EU Commission, on current trends Spain will be far over its 2008-12 target.  The fact that a country with such a generous allowance should be seeking to renegotiate it underlines just how difficult reconciling the agreement and economic growth will be for Europe.

EU Commissioners Entrench

Despite having no responsibility for the environment, energy or relations with Russia, EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen felt able to opine on the issue of Russias refusal to ratify Kyoto when addressing a German Parliamentary hearing on January 28.

He said, There are signs of a political link between finalizing the WTO negotiations and Russia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.  In political contacts it has been noted that one could see it as a political package and I’m quite confident that on both issues we will see movement [in the first half of 2004].  Verheugen went on to suggest that although there was no formal, legal link between the two issues, Russia itself saw the two as related.  I understand it as an attempt to get us to relax some of our demands for Russian WTO entry and then to compensate for that by signing the Kyoto Protocol, he speculated.

Meanwhile, EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom strongly criticized Energy and Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio and the Spanish government for undermining Europe’s commitment to Kyoto.

Briefing journalists on January 30, Wallstrom defended the Kyoto Protocol and said she remains convinced that Russia would ratify the agreement.  Referring to Palacios comments about the economic folly of abiding by Kyoto when the rest of the world had repudiated the agreement (see last issue), Wallstrom said, I find it astonishing at a time when we are getting industry on board and have an active policypoliticians start to dither.  Now is not the time to undermine our policy. (Reuters, Environmental News Service)