March 2004

The George C. Marshall Institute will host two briefings by Dr. David Legates, director of the University of Delawares Center for Climatic Research, speaking on “Global Warming and the Hydrologic Cycle: How is the Occurrence of Floods, Droughts, and Storms Likely to Change?” The first is at noon on Monday, April 12, in Room 406 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building. The second begins at noon on Wednesday, April 14, in Room 2325 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Lunch is provided. Reservations are required and may be made by phoning (202) 296-9655 or by e-mail to

Save the date: the National Center for Policy Analysis is planning an Earth Day seminar on global warming issues on the morning of April 22 in the Senate Dirksen Office Building. Complete details will be available in the next issue.

Save the date: the Cooler Heads Coalition has scheduled a major seminar on the potential impacts of global warming for Monday, May 3, on Capitol Hill. Confirmed speakers include: Dr. Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institut speaking on vector-borne diseases; Prof. Nils-Axel Morner of Stockholm University speaking on sea level rise; and Dr. Madhav Khandekar, recently retired from Environment Canada, speaking on storms and other severe weather events. The seminar is tentatively scheduled for 10 AM to 1:30 PM in the House Rayburn Office Building. Further details will appear in the next issue.

Comments needed: The U. S. Climate Change Science Program is inviting interested parties to provide comments on the draft guidelines for the synthesis and assessment products that are being prepared by the Program to “support both policymaking and adaptive management.” Comments are due by May 3. See for further details.

Veteran British satirist Peter Simple turned his sights on the environmental movement in Londons Daily Telegraph on March 5, inspired by United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blairs plans to cover pristine countryside with wind farms and the opposition from the Ministry of Defense (MoD). His words can stand by themselves:

“Ever since the environment was invented, 50 years ago, as a secular term for what used to be called the Creation, it has not only turned into an industry of itself, employing hundreds of thousands of officials and workers, but has become a principal enemy of what it was supposed to defend, the beauty of the earth and its fitness for habitation by human beings rather than robots. Environmentalists believe that the natural world, for its own good, must be planned in detail on the assumption that the future can be foretold and the earth parcelled out for various functions purely for utility and regardless of its beauty and holiness.

“It is an assumption that puts logic and reason before all else, arguing dubiously that because the earth is threatened by “global warming” caused by conventional techniques of power generation, therefore alternative technologies such as the fashionable wind farms must be installed although they destroy landscapes whose sacred harmony has sustained the souls of men for generations.

“They will permit nature controlled in such arrangements as national parks and other graded arrangements – “museums of landscape”, as they have been called – but allow wind turbines to be built all round them. This is to remind us that in the long run nothing counts but utility and the industrial growth of the Total Labour State. They deal in barren abstractions and in a special soulless jargon. They set up innumerable bureaucratic agencies for the control of the natural world and bury it under acronyms and mounds of paper.

“The Wind Energy Association, which is the front for a highly profitable industry, will be screaming with rage like a hundred turbines whirling together at a check to its plans from such an unexpected opponent as the MoD. Between wind turbines and radar stations is a choice of two evils. Two kinds of technology are in conflict. But the wind turbines serve to remind us wherever we look of our enslavement to the industrial system which is gradually absorbing everything in the world, whereas radar stations in themselves are perfectly useless.”

Last year, three dueling estimates of what satellites tell us about the temperature of the atmosphere were published. John Christy and Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and colleagues estimated marginal warming (+0.03 0.05 C per decade), while Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) found warming at the bottom range of greenhouse theory projections (+0.12 0.02 C per decade) and Vinnikov and Grody found warming similar to that predicted by global climate models (+0.24 0.02 C per decade).

Christy and his colleagues maintained that their interpretations were closer to the truth because they were backed up by independent measurements from weather balloon radiosonde readings. Others objected that the radiosonde readings did not cover the whole atmosphere, which meant that their validity could not be established by that method.

Christy et al. have now published a study in Geophysical Research Letters (Vol. 31, Mar. 31) that compares the UAH and RSS data for the lower troposphere to comparable radiosonde records. The study finds that “the UAH lower tropospheric (LT) data are highly consistent with the more robust lower elevation radiosonde data. These results support the conclusion of Christy et al. [2003] that for Dec. 1978 to Nov. 2003 (25 years) the global trend in LT is +0.08 0.05 C [per] decade.” This lends “support for the least positive trend of the three deeper layer [i.e. whole atmosphere] values (+0.03 0.05 C [per] decade) as it was constructed in the same manner as LT.”

Using the NASA Ecosystem Demography model to trace the evolution of vegetation distribution in the US over the past 300 years, researchers at Princeton University have confirmed that land use changes have significantly affected the US climate.

According to the NASA press release, “The researchers found land cover changes produced a significant cooling effect of more than one degree Fahrenheit in parts of the Great Plains and Midwest as agriculture expanded and replaced grasslands. Farmlands tend to create lower temperatures through increased evaporation. A warming effect was found along the Atlantic coast where croplands replaced forests.

“Compared to forests, croplands are less efficient in transpiration; a daytime process where water evaporates from leaves during photosynthesis and cools the air. A slight warming effect was also observed across the Southwest, where woodlands replaced some deserts.

“The study found land cover changes could impact local precipitation, but not as significantly as they affect temperature. The relatively strong cooling over the central U.S. has probably weakened the temperature difference between land and the Gulf of Mexico, slowing the northern movement of weather systems and resulting in enhanced rainfall across Texas. Consequently, the air masses reaching the Central Lowlands region, including Illinois and Indiana, are drier, causing rainfall reductions.”

Lead researcher N. J. Roy said, “It is important to understand the effects of changing land cover, because it can mitigate or exacerbate greenhouse warming. In the U.S. over the past 100 years, it seems to be offsetting greenhouse warming. The opposite is probably true in most other parts of the world. This finding has also been supported in previous research.”

The invaluable, run by Drs. Sherwood, Craig, and Keith Idso, draws attention this month to two important articles on the reality behind the supposed spread of tropical diseases in a warmer world.

First, Reiter et al. (in Emerging Infectious Diseases 9) examine the response of dengue fever in a significant outbreak in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in 1999. As summarizes, they learned that, “The incidence of recent cases, indicated by immunoglobulin M antibody serosurvey, was higher in Nuevo Laredo [16.0% vs. 1.3%], although the vector, Aedes aegypti, was more abundant in Laredo [91% vs. 37%].  Reiter et al. additionally determined that environmental factors that affect contact with mosquitoes, such as air-conditioning and human behavior, appear to account for this paradox.  They found, for example, that the proportion of dengue infections attributable to lack of air-conditioning in Nuevo Laredo [where only 2% of the homes had central air-conditioning compared to 36% of the homes in Laredo] was 55%, which means that 55% of the cases of dengue in Nuevo Laredo would not have occurred if all households there had had air-conditioning.” summarizes, “Reiter et al. correctly conclude, for example, that if the current warming trend in world climates continues, air-conditioning may become even more prevalent in the United States, in which case, the probability of dengue transmission [there] is likely to decrease [our italics].  And if the economy of Mexico continues to grow (which it will, if its citizens are allowed to freely utilize fossil fuels), the use of air-conditioners will likely gain momentum south of the border, which would lead to even greater decreases in the occurrence of dengue there.

“Clearly, the development of wealth, which currently is dependent on the availability of fossil-fuel-derived energy, will lead to greater decreases in mosquito-borne diseases than any change or stasis of climate ever would.”

The other article, Small et al. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100), looks at the impact of climate change on malaria transmission in Africa. According to the Idsos, the researchers “determined that malaria transmission suitability did indeed increase because of climate change in specific locations of limited extent; but in Southern Mozambique, which was the only region for which climatic suitability consistently increased, the cause of the increase was increased precipitation, while areas where the climate became less suitable for malaria transmission had all experienced decreased rainfall.  In fact, Small et al. say that climate warming, expressed as a systematic temperature increase over the 85-year period, does not appear to be responsible for an increase in malaria suitability over any [our italics] region in Africa.”

The European trade group for auto manufacturers has voiced its objections to EU emissions reduction plans privately. According to Scotlands Sunday Herald (Mar. 21), “A confidential memo from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association to the Environment Commissioner, Margot Wallstrm, claims that the proposed cuts will seriously damage the industry. The association represents Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Fiat, Renault, Peugeot Citroen, Volvo, Volkswagen and four others.”

The Herald says that the memo suggests that the emissions cuts from 165 grams of CO2 per kilometer in 2002 to 120 by 2010 would raise the cost of a car by 2,700 (nearly $5,000) at an annual cost to the EU of 33.5 billion ($60 billion).

The memo states, “Car buyers are not prepared to pay any extra for cleaner, more environmentally-friendly cars. An over-ambitious carbon dioxide reduction policy that is essentially only car-technology focused, would impose massive additional costs per car along with tremendous negative societal costs for the EU economy, and would threaten the competitiveness of the European car manufacturing industry. Adverse impacts for the EU economy would include: a move of car production to non-EU countries, disappearance of large/premium cars, plant closures, sizeable job losses, decreased trade balance, reduced income tax and lowered economic growth.”

The memo was backed up by one from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, which represents Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Yamaha and six other car makers. The Japanese memo says, “Considering the increasing trend towards globalization, competition in todays automobile industry is getting extremely fierce. We advise that the economic situation of this key industry be taken into account when considering the introduction of increased environmental legislation.”

Environmental groups reacted angrily to the documents. Duncan McLaren of Friends of the Earth Scotland told the Herald, “The EC must stand up to the car industry on this issue. If the industry fails to deliver on its promises then the EC should legislate to force it to cut pollution. Past experience tells us that the threat of legislation is the best way to stimulate real improvements and technological innovations.”

Wind Power Slowing Down

by William Yeatman on March 30, 2004

in Blog

Danish wind power consultancy BTM predicts that the huge recent growth in the global wind power market will slow to an expansion of 10 percent per year over the next five years (Reuters, Mar. 19). That figure is less than half the average growth of 26.3 percent seen over the period 1998-2003.

A record 8,344 MW of wind power generation was installed in 2003, but the figure this year is expected to be down by 4 percent. The total installation worldwide is now over 40,000 MW, enough to power 16 million European homes. Europe continues to account for two-thirds of installed megawattage.

BTM expects wind power to take off again after 2008, with new installations then exceeding 25,000 MW per year, taking the total industry to 194,000 MW. This is largely dependent on large scale offshore developments in Germany and Britain after 2007.

According to the New Zealand Herald (Mar. 20), New Zealands recipients of emissions credits may be unable to sell them in their biggest potential market, the European Union.

The newspaper points out that, “The rules proposed by the European Commission, and now adopted with some amendments by the European Parliament’s environment committee, would shut out from the European emissions trading system credits arising from Kyoto forests – those planted since 1990 on land not previously forested – because they do not achieve permanent emission reduction from sources.”

New Zealand had been expecting to use these credits to cover growth in its emissions and provide a further 50 million metric tons of credits to sell to Europe. As an example, one company, Meridian Energy, sold credits it had received as a subsidy for its wind farm operation to the Netherlands government at NZ$10 a ton.

The Herald quoted Federated Farmers president Tom Lambie as suggesting, “If New Zealand was unable to sell credits to the Europeans, it raised a question about whether New Zealand should remain a party to the protocol.”

litionRepresentatives Wayne Gilchrest (RMd.) and John Olver (DMass.) introduced on March 30 a House version of S. 139, the Climate Stewardship Act, known as the Lieberman-McCain bill after its two chief Senate proponents. Ten Republicans and ten Democrats joined as original co-sponsors of H. R. 4067.

The bill was referred to the Science Committee and to the Energy and Commerce Committee. One of the co-sponsors is Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (RN.Y.), chairman of the House Science Committee. However, Rep. Joe Barton (RTex.), the new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has a long record of opposition to energy-rationing legislation. A weaker version of S. 139 was defeated on the floor of the Senate last fall by a vote of 43 to 55.

Several members of the European Union are having a hard time complying with the EU Commissions deadline for filing their detailed plans for meeting Europes Kyoto targets. The German government was rocked by open political warfare between the governments Socialist Party Economics Minister, Wolfgang Clement, and its Green Party Environment Minister, Juergen Tritten, until Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder personally intervened on the side of Clement.

Tritten had proposed emissions reductions from the current level of 505 million metric tons per annum to 488 million tons in 2005-2007 and to 480 million tons in 2008-2012. Clement, a key figure in Schroeders unpopular but necessary economic reforms, had objected strongly to these targets, saying, “Growth isn’t possible that way. I can’t support that as Economy Minister” (Reuters, Mar. 26). Schroeder decided on minimal cuts in the near future, with a target of 503 million tones in 2005-2007, followed by a deeper cut to 495 million tons in 2008-2012 (AP, Mar. 30).

The powerful German environmental movement reacted furiously to the news. Greenpeace energy policy expert Sven Teske told the German news wire DPA (Mar. 30) that the agreement “has nothing more in common” with the Greens’ policies.

“With this compromise, Red-Green [the ruling SPD-Greens coalition] has bowed out from climate protection,” Teske said. DPA concluded, “Clement, by rigidly defending industry’s interests, had cast a dark taint on the credibility of German climate policy, the Greenpeace expert charged.”

The argument seems to have affected Herr Schroeders attitudes towards energy suppression agreements like Kyoto. On March 26, he publicly questioned whether the EU should go ahead with its plans to implement Kyoto targets in the absence of Russian ratification. Reuters reported (Mar. 26) that he told a news conference, “We hope that Kyoto will be ratified, for example by Russia. But if that doesn’t happen, it will distort competition at the expense of European and especially German economy.” Reuters went on, “Without giving a direct answer, he asked: What happens with the emissions trading system if Kyoto is not ratified?”