January 2005

In a recent op-ed published in the Washington Post, science historian Naomi Oreskes, elaborating on her essay for Science magazine, argued that the nation’s leaders were ignoring a unanimous agreement in the scientific literature that man is responsible for global warming and that something must therefore be done about it. Yet an examination of the form the much-touted scientific consensus actually takes reveals that it does not mandate policy choices. Moreover, the charge that people are denying what Orsekes defines as the consensus appears to be a straw man. It is therefore worth asking what the point is of this argument, which is growing increasingly popular.  

What do scientists mean when they talk about the “scientific consensus on climate change”? The answer is helpfully provided by the new web log set up by a variety of climate scientists entitled realclimate.org. There, British Antarctic Survey scientist William Connolley defines the consensus in these terms: 

“The main points that most would agree on as ‘the consensus’ are:
1.       The earth is getting warmer (0.6 +/- 0.2 C in the past century; 0.1 C/decade over the last 30 years)
2.       People are causing this
3.       If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate
4.       (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it)”

 Connolley also includes the following important rider:

“I’ve put those four points in rough order of certainty. The last one is in brackets because whilst many would agree, many others (who agree with 1-3) would not, at least without qualification. It’s probably not a part of the core consensus in the way 1-3 are. Mostof us here on RealClimate are physical scientistswe can talk sensibly about past, present and future changes in climate, but potential impacts on ecosystems or human society are out of our field.”

 This is a useful summary, because it enables us to see where the disagreements lie. Point 1 is generally accepted, although the fact remains that satellite temperature measurements show a smaller warming trend and the reasons for that remain a topic of genuine scientific debate. Nevertheless, there is general agreement that the world warmed slightly over the past century.

 Point 2 is rather imprecisely worded as everyone agrees that temperature changes over the last century have been affected by a variety of human and natural effects, both warming and cooling. The idea that man has not affected the climate in any way has virtually no supporters. Roger Pielke, Jr.no skepticof the University of Colorado compiled a list where he demonstrates that all the so-called skeptics, including Fred Singer, Pat Michaels and even President Bush, have accepted that there is an anthropogenic influence on climate. The claim that opinion-formers deny this is a classic straw man.

 Yet all scientists agree that there is more than just one form of human influence. As well as greenhouse gases, land-use changes, aerosol concentrations and other “forcings” have a role to play. At the time of the last IPCC report, we knew a lot only about the role of greenhouse gases (see figure 9 here), but we have invested a lot of time, money and energy into finding out more about the other forcings. They have enabled scientists to declare that such factors as land-use changes and black carbon (soot) concentrations may account for large portions of the recent warming. Moreover, we now know more about natural forcings such as the oceanic phenomenon known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which some researchers think may account for half of the recent warming trend. This is an area of genuine ongoing scientific discovery.

 Point 3 is more contentious, as it relies on theories that assume that there is a so-called “positive feedback mechanism” in the atmosphere that will accelerate any warming trend. This is where the so-called skeptical scientists part company with the consensus. MIT Professor of Meteorology Richard Lindzen, for instance, is well-known for having advanced a credible, peer-reviewed theory that the Earth has an infrared “iris effect” that will produce negative feedbacks. Recent NASA research indicates that feedback mechanisms are not as pronounced as climate models suggest. This is again an area of ongoing scientific discovery, yet the genuine disagreement here would not have shown up as dissent in Oreskes’ research as she actually defines the consensus as “that Earth’s climate is heating up and human activities are part of the reason” — in other words, she defines the consensus as points 1 and 2 of Connolley’s definition, which, as we have seen, are not really in question.

 Yet the reason for Orsekes’ principal complaintthat we are not doing anything about global warmingcan only stem from point 4, which as Connolley says does not really form part of the core consensus and in fact lies in many aspects outside the realm of science. Indeed, one of the commentators on Connolley’s post points out that there may well be a fifth, economic component to the consensus, “that global warming may be badbut it is NOT as bad as what it would take to prevent it.” Connolley accepted this as perfectly valid, and it is backed by economic analysis exercises such as the Copenhagen Consensus which found currently proposed mitigation measures like Kyoto to be poor investments of the world’s resources.

Orsekes has therefore cheerfully elided a genuine consensus on points 1 and 2 of Connolly’s definition into an assertion that this mandates policy action. It can do no such thing. Science only alerts us to possible problems and potential solutions; it is the job of economics, within the political process, to determine whether action should be taken and if so, which of the potential solutions science has identified should be chosen (and even then, we may choose not to adopt the whole solution).

 So if Oreskes’ work is based on a false premise, as it seems to be, does it have any other worth? It may be said that it is useful that she has demonstrated a consensus exists. This is made problematic by the fact that Orsekes has since admitted that she looked at only about 1,000 scientific abstracts out of 11,000 relevant articles (and the question of whether analyzing abstracts gives a true reflection of the nuances of the full article remains open).

Yet even if we take her result at face value, it is really only to be expected. We have known since Thomas Kuhn’s masterpiece, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that at any one time in any science there exists a consensusthe paradigm, as Kuhn termed it. That one should exist even in a relatively new discipline such as climatology is unsurprising. In the end, Oreskes is presenting a truism as evidence against a straw man. That’s no way for scientific debate to advance.

MSU1278-1204.gif (27250 bytes) As determined by NOAA Satellite-mounted MSUs

Information from Global Hydrology and Climate Center, University of Alabama – Huntsville, USA
The data from which the graph is derived can be downloaded here

Global Mean Temperature Variance From Average, Lower Troposphere, December 2004: +0.102 C
(Northern Hemisphere: +0.146 C , Southern Hemisphere: +0.010 C )
Peak recorded: +0.746 C April 1998. Current change relative to peak recorded: -0.644 C

GISS1204.gif (31974 bytes) GISTEMP Anomaly November 2004 +0.58 C .
The data from which the graph is derived can be downloaded here

Peak recorded: +0.97 C February 1998. Current change relative to peak recorded: -0.39 C

Best estimate for absolute global mean for 1951-1980 is 14 C (57.2 F)
Estimated absolute global mean November 2004 14.58 C (58.24 F)

Discrepancy between GHCC MSU & GISTEMP November 2004: 0.569 C

Copyright 2004-2005 JunkScience.com – All Rights Reserved.

This article, including graphics, may be reprinted in full or in part with attribution.

HAMILTON – The Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the Canadian Steel Producers Association today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to address climate change.

The agreement sets out short-term and longer-term plans for government and industry action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The steel industry commits to doing its share to help Canada meet its climate change commitments, provided this does not undermine the competitiveness of the industry or result in an unfair burden. The Government of Canada will design emissions-reduction targets that reflect this commitment. It will also join forces with the industry to develop new low-emissions technologies by committing $300,000 to an international research effort.

The Honourable R. John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), and the Honourable Tony Valeri, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, represented the Government of Canada at the signing. The Honourable Marie Bountrogianni, MPP for Hamilton Mountain and Minister of Children and Youth Services, and Citizenship and Immigration, attended the event on behalf of the Honourable Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of the Environment. Don Pether, Chair of the Canadian Steel Producers Association, and Chief Executive Officer, Dofasco, attended on behalf of the Canadian steel industry. The members of the Canadian Steel Producers Association – Algoma Steel Inc., Dofasco Inc., Gerdau Ameristeel, IPSCO Saskatchewan Inc., Ispat Sidbec Inc., Ivaco Inc. and Stelco Inc. – have facilities across Canada involved in all aspects of making iron and steel. The Honourable Stphane Dion, Minister of the Environment, is also a signatory to the MOU.

“This represents important progress by multiple levels of government on climate change with a key sector of the Canadian economy,” said Minister Efford. “My colleague, the Honourable Stphane Dion, Minister of the Environment, and I agree that in signing this MOU, the steel industry is showing leadership by committing to do its part to address climate change. The Government of Canada, for its part, will make sure that any reduction obligations do not impair the competitive position of this vital industry. We make real progress on climate change when our policies support industries, such as the steel industry, which have been succesfully reducing emissions since the 90s.”

“This is a proud day for the Canadian steel industry. It is stepping forward to do its share,” said Minister Valeri. “The government will respond by setting realistic targets supported by a plan for developing innovative technologies, so that we can make progress over the longer term.”

The MOU highlights the need for a longer-term plan. It sets out the Government of Canada’s role as an active player in an international effort organized by the International Iron and Steel Institute to develop revolutionary new processes that minimize, eliminate or capture carbon emissions through its CO2 Breakthrough Programme. The Government of Canada is committing $300,000 toward the first phase of this international effort that focuses on identifying promising new technologies.

“Canadian steel producers are committed to taking action to address climate change,” said Mr. Pether. “Industry has demonstrated this commitment by reducing the GHG emissions from a tonne of shipped steel by 30 percent since 1990 and by committing to do more, both in the short and long run.”

The Government of Ontario has also signed the MOU and was represented today at the signing ceremony. “The McGuinty government fully supports the agreement and welcomes the opportunity to work with the Government of Canada and the steel industry on climate change,” said Minister Bountrogianni. “I believe this work will help improve air quality across Ontario. With the majority of steel producers located in Ontario, our combined efforts will contribute to a healthier environment and a strong economy.”

The MOU also sets out a work program that includes the examination of near-term opportunities to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. The parties will follow up on an energy benchmarking study under NRCan’s Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation. This will also complement ongoing energy-efficiency improvement efforts with NRCan’s CANMET Energy Technology Centre. 

The Government of Canada has signed agreements on climate change with DuPont Canada Inc., the Forest Products Association of Canada and the International Emissions Trading Association.

Memorandum of Understanding (PDF: 45 Kb)

Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.

Last Monday, the Voice of America broadcast a story linking tsunamis and global warming. Naomi Oreskes, an associate professor of History at the University of California, said the tsunami that slammed the Asian and African coastlines underscores the need to take action on global warming.

The argument runs, many people live in the path of potential tsunamis. If global warming were to lift the sea level, coastal peoples would be more vulnerable to massive future inundations.

This was environmental demagoguery at its most vile. Riding your issue on the backs of 130,000 dead people goes beyond the pale, even for the global warming crowd.

Mathematics is obviously not Ms. Oreskes’ strong suit, and she’d be a failure as a fact checker. There is plenty of quantitative data on sea-level rise and historical tsunamis and it all paints her argument in a bad light.

Start with the Topex-Poseidon satellite, designed to precisely measure sea levels worldwide. According to a 2001 paper published in Science by Cecile Cabanes, sea levels in the northeastern Indian Ocean — where the tsunami was most devastating — are going down, not up.

The record that she relied upon was very short, beginning in 1993, so Cabanes related temperatures measured by submarines to the satellite-sensed sea levels, and was able to calculate global changes back to 1955. That entire record does yield a sea-level rise for the same region. It’s about half as long as your index finger: 1.75 inches.

Current estimates for the maximum onshore height of the recent tsunami are in the range of 40 feet, but don’t be surprised if they go higher, as scientific crews have yet to measure the most devastated regions.

That sea-level elevation increment caused by global warming is 1/274th of that caused by the tsunami.

Krakatoa island, a volcano in the same region, disappeared beneath the ocean on August 26, 1883. Indonesia took the brunt of the tsunami. According to Simon Winchester’s book, Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, the wave reached between 110 and 120 feet in elevation. The additional increment of inundation that would have been caused by sea-level rise, if Krakatoa blew today, would be 1/788th of the total.

The global warming crowd argues that it is future changes in sea level that we should be concerned about. But the best estimate for the future rate of global warming is that it will be very close to the rate already established. That translates to an increment of about four inches in the next 50 years.

After then, who knows? Our technologies are likely to be very different 100 years from now — much more efficient — and there’s no guarantee that they will even burn fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases.

One has to assume that respectable academics who talk about tsunamis know these numbers, and the nugatory nature of global warming compared to seismic inundations. So, why argue the sky is falling?

In fact, such behavior is predictable. The way we now fund science, issues compete with each other for the monopoly largess of our one research provider, the U.S. government. In order to twist Uncle Sam’s ear, the problems — global warming, AIDS, chemical threats — are cast in the starkest possible terms.

No one ever got large amounts of money out of Washington by saying that his issue might not be a problem. But the level of distortion this time, where a few inches are judged to be an important addition to 40 or 100 feet, has become a tsunami of the absurd.


The chairman of the US Senate’s environment committee, Senator James Inhofe, warned the EU against pursuing its climate change agendastalled to date in the international negotiating processthrough backdoor means such as the World Trade Organization.

 Specifically, Inhofe (Republican, Oklahoma) took to the floor of the Senate on the opening day of the 109th Congress to address recent scientific evidence debunking alarmist claims of catastrophic man-made global warming, and warn of various attempts that may be in the worksgiven that even Italy has now sworn off a second round of cuts in the floundering Kyoto Protocol treaty.

  Inhofe said: “As [COP-10] talks in Buenos Aires revealed, if alarmists can’t get what they want at the negotiating table, they will try other means. I was told by reliable sources that some delegation members of the European Union subtly hinted that America‘s rejection of Kyoto could be grounds for a challenge under the WTO [World Trade Organization]. I surely hope this was just a hypothetical suggestion and not something our European friends are actively and seriously considering. Such a move, I predict, would be devastating to US-EU relations, not to mention the WTO itself.”

 The possible WTO challenge, long hinted at by EU policymakers past and present, would amount to one of two claims. First, by refusing to adopt Europe’s steep (and soon be increase further) energy taxes, the US is impermissibly subsidizing its energy-intensive industries by failing to fully incorporate the full societal cost of minimizing governmental interference in the availability and affordability of energy. 

 Alternately, the challenge would be on the grounds that the US is eco-dumping, again by its refusal to adopt the EU’s energy tax schemes.

 Similar logic is thought to be behind comments made the following day by the head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Sir Digby Jones, that a global sense of unity of purpose displayed in the wake of the tsunami disaster in Asia should be used to address issues such as environmental protection, for which India and China should take the initiative by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

 The CBI chief was guilty of an error, as China and India have already ratified Kyoto but, like most of the world, they are exempt (although the two have now joined with Italy in saying they will not continue with Kyoto post 2012). Joneswidely seen as being reasonably sound on resisting extra burdens on British firmsis thought to be annoyed with the freedom of Chinese and Indian firms, competing with British industry, from dealing with the associated environmental taxes that Kyoto will bring to an already heavily taxed European industrial base.

 Inhofe’s comments were directed at discouraging the EU from acting before the WTO on such frustration that can in fact be viewed as to some extent self-inflicted. This issue will face challenges almost immediately, beginning with a Tony Blair-led climate change conference in February and carrying through the induction of a new head of the WTOpossibly  the former European trade commissioner Pascal Lamytowards the end of the year.

David Henderson
Westminster Business School

Dr. David Henderson is currently a Visiting Professor at the Westminster Business School. He is a former chief economist of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Before this he had worked both as an academic and as a national and international civil servant, and since leaving the OECD he has been an independent author and consultant and has held visiting appointments in several countries.

In 2003, Prof. Henderson, with co-author Ian Castles, issued a scathing critique of the future emissions scenarios propogated by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  His book on so-called “corporate social responsibility,” The Role of Business in the Modern World, was recently published in America by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The chat will begin at 2pm EST on Thursday, January 7.  You can send your questions now to chat@globalwarming.org .  Questions and answers will be posted as Dr. Henderson answers, beginning at 2pm.  Refresh your screen regularly to see questions and answers.

Moderator: Welcome, everyone, and please keep the questions coming.  We’re having a slight technical delay getting started.

Moderator:  Thanks so much for joining us, Dr. Henderson.  I’d like to start things off with a kind of general question.  Could you tell us how you came to be interested in greenhouse emissions; and what, in a nutshell, you found to be the primary problem with the IPCC emissions scenarios?

Henderson:  I became involved with IPCC-related issues through an Australian friend Ian Castles, formerly Head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We became joint authors of a critique of the IPCCs treatment of economic issues. Our critique focused on, though it went beyond, the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), prepared for the IPCC, and published in 2000.

Two aspects of our critique of the SRES are:

        For the base year of 1990 it compares output across countries on the basis of market exchange rates (MERs). These comparisons greatly overstate the differences in GDP per head between developing regions and OECD member countries.

        It builds in, for reasons that are open to question, rapid convergence in GDP per head between developing regions and OECD member countries. By thus assuming the substantial closure of a greatly overstated initial gap, it arrives at projections of output and GDP per head for developing regions which are higher than they would have been if the 1990 starting point had been correct, and high by comparison with other projections


Our critique covers not only the results of the exercise, in the form of specific projections of emissions, but also the approach, the analytical basis of parts of the Report.

Moderator Tom in Texas has a series of detailed questions:

Has the panel actually modeled the impacts of 5%, 10% and 20% industrial and utility greenhouse gas emission reductions by developed countries on the perceived problem? This would imply for each 2 separate cases; one where developing countries’ emissions are held constant and one where they increase at at least the rate of the last 5 years.  If so, what are the impacts and how much time is likely to elapse before the impacts
become observable, if at all?


Henderson:  Sorry, but I don’t know the answer.


Moderator:  Fred in DC wants to know:
Do you expect the UK Conference that PM Blair will hold this February to address economic issues?


Henderson:  I have not seen any agenda, but I would be surprised. The conference is dealing with scientific issues, and I think this does not include economics.


Moderator:  Barb in Maryland:
 I have read that even some financial institutions such as Citibank and HSBC are “reducing” their CO2 emissions by supporting projects that reduce greenhouse gases.  Who benefits from those projects? Are they connected to environmental groups that pressure companies to give money or are they generally independent projects?


Henderson Your information is correct. The benefits that are counted on are to the environment – through reducing CO2 emissions, which are viewed as a pollutant, preserving rain  forests, etc. I think the banks are in part responding to pressure from NGOs, but I believe that they genuinely believe that they will be doing good (as well as earning a reputation for doing good, while keeping out of trouble).


Moderator: Kevin wants to know:
 Do you think the crtiques put forth by yourself and other economists have had or will have an impact on the way IPCC draws its scenarios?  Why or why not?


Henderson:  Along with our critique, our suggestions for change have been rejected by the IPCC. The main proposals that we have made are three:

     That the SRES,  because it is open to serious criticisms, should not be taken as the basis and starting point of AR4: an alternative and firmer basis should be sought, through less elaborate and more short-cut procedures than those of the SRES.

     That in assessing possible future developments in the world economy, and ways of projecting them, the involvement of economic historians and historically-minded economists should now be ensured for the first time.

    That more generally, and going well beyond scenario-building, the IPCC process should be broadened, in particular through the active involvement, first, of national statistical offices in member countries, and second, of ministries of finance and economics.

The IPCC has not accepted these suggestions.

        It has determined that the SRES scenarios provide a credible and sound set of projections, appropriate for use in the AR4.

        It and its member governments appear as fully content with the present established procedures and arrangements for participation. An IPCC official statement that you might be interested to see says of the Panel, in its opening paragraph,that


It mobilises the best experts from all over the world, who work diligently on bringing out the various reports The Third Assessment Review of the IPCC was released in 2001 through the collective efforts of around 2000 experts from a diverse range of countries and disciplines. All of IPCCs reports go  through a careful two stage review process by governments and experts and acceptance by the member governments composing the Panel.

Moderator: John wants some data:
 Until last year, the DOE furnished in October the list of the emissions from the United States for the previous year.  I did not find any such list last year which would have covered the year 2003.  Is this information available anywhere?

Henderson:  Emissions data are prepared and published by the CDIAC, based in the US. You can get the numbers from their website. However, the last published data that I have seen don’t go beyond 2000.

Moderator: I’d like to follow up on the reader’s earlier question about Citibank et al. myself.  Where do you see “global warming” issues headed vis-a-vis “corporate social responsibilty”?  Will US-based multinationals succumb to NGO and EU pressure and “voluntarily”  reduce or “trade” emissions, passing costs on to consumers?

Henderson:  The pressures are on all companies, especially the big multinationals, and not just on American corporations. They come from a variety of sources, official and unoffcial, not just from NGOs. It is true that the EU has embraced the cause of emissions reductions more wholeheartedly than other governments, but there are no climate-sceptical governments. Don’t forget that the US (and Australia) signed up to the UNFCCC, along with all the rest (including developing countries). Both of them are taking action accordingly.

Moderator:  We’re up on the end of the hour, here.  So this should be the last question…    Christina in DC wants to know:
 Has the IPCC done a thorough economic analysis of what the economic and social costs would be of reducing CO2 to a level that would make a real temperature impact according to their climate models? (My understanding is that the Kyoto protocol levels wouldn’t have much of an effect on the temperature)

Henderson:  You are right about the effects of Kyoto. I don’t think the IPCC has done work of the kind you refer to, but various people and government agencies have. Best to ask the Energy Information Administration (in DC)?

Moderator: Thanks so much for joining us, Dr. Henderson.  Any final remarks? Where is this all heading?

Henderson: What should now be done? Here is my answer.

 A way forward
The economic content of AR4 can be strengthened only if new participants are brought into the process, and this can be achieved only if and in so far as member governments act accordingly: the IPCC milieu appears impervious to unofficial criticism. In this context, it is the central economic departments of state treasuries, ministries of finance or economics, and organisations such as the US Council of Economic Advisers that have a potentially key role. Up to now, and despite the large amounts that are at stake, they have been content to leave the handling of economic issues within the IPCC process to the departments and agencies directly concerned. The questionable treatment of these issues by the IPCC and its sponsoring organisations, which Castles and I have drawn attention to as independent outsiders, has apparently not been noticed by a single official in a single finance or economics ministry in a single country. It is high time for this situation to change, and for these latter departments to become involved.

 Fortunately, a straightforward route to their participation exists for the taking. For the economic departments and agencies in OECD member countries, an instrument is to hand for their prompt collective involvement: it is the OECD itself. They should act now to ensure that IPCC-related economic issues are placed on the agenda of the OECDs Economic Policy Committee.

PS The IPCC press release dismissing our work makes a good read: it’s on their website

Moderator: Very interesting.  Thanks again, Prof.

Henderson: Over and out… Regards to all. 

Moderator:  And our apologies to anyone who’s question didn’t get through.  Keep checking GlobalWarming.org for our next live chat with the experts.

Last week’s column cited quotes from the British branches of two environmental groups, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, blaming the Indian Ocean tsunami on global warming.   I pulled these quotes from interviews group spokesmen gave to the British newspaper, The Independent.

Both groups have disputed the quotes. In a letter to the Independent, a version that was also sent to FOXNews.com, Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace UK, and Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth in London, wrote:

“Sir: On 23 December before the earthquake and tsunami we were asked by The Independent to comment on the dramatic increase in insurance claims resulting from hurricanes, droughts, floods and other early impacts of climate change. Our quotes appeared in an article on 27 December, as part of your coverage of the tsunami. For the record, we would like to make absolutely clear that earthquakes are not a result of climate change and we have never sought to make any link.”

However, it still seems that environmentalists are seeking to exploit the tragedy.

For example, a similar quote from the Indonesian spokesperson for Friends of the Earth has not been disputed. And let’s not forget that Greenpeace is not exactly innocent of trying to link tsunami-like disasters with global warming in the minds of the general public. All you need do is visit Greenpeace’s own Web site promoting the global-warming disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” which features a photo of a giant wave hitting an urban area with the doctored caption, “The Day is Today: What Will You Do?”

Now that Russia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is the only industrialized country besides the United States to reject the U.N.-sponsored climate treaty. However, a report commissioned by Australian affiliates of World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace denies that Australia has any choice in the matter.


The report, prepared by the Sydney Centre for International and Global Law, contends that the World Heritage Convention, a treaty administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), obligates Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and, thus, limit its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), chiefly carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil-fuel combustion. Indeed, according to the report, Australia is obligated to make “deep cuts” in GHG emissions far beyond the reductions required of any nation by Kyoto.


Unsurprisingly, the report’s reasoning applies with equal plausibility to the United States. In fact, if the Sydney Centre’s argument is correct, then all Parties to the Convention, including China, India, and numerous other developing countries, must implement Kyoto-like controlseven though Kyoto exempts such nations from emission limitations.


The Sydney Centre is not the first advocacy group to claim that existing law prohibits a nation’s voters and their elected representatives from rejecting Kyoto-style curbs on energy use. To mention just the leading example, a dozen state attorneys general (AGs), 14 environmental groups, and three cities are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act for refusing to regulate GHG emissions from automobiles. The suit is without merit. Congress rejected regulatory climate policies when it last amended the Clean Air Act, and a Senate proposal to establish CO2 emission standards for automobiles never made it into the Senate’s version of the bill, much less the final Act. But it’s a safe bet that when the AGs’ lawsuit goes down in flames, the Aspiring Governors will cast about for another pro-Kyoto litigation strategy. Will they look to the Sydney Centre for inspiration?


Litigation Logic


The Centre’s report, Global Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef: Australia’s Obligations under the World Heritage Convention, contains much detail, but the basic argument may be summarized as follows:


(1)     “The IPCC [U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] predicts that the globally averaged surface temperature will rise by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius over the period 1990 to 2100.  “Increases in sea temperature of as little as 1 degree Celsius may lead to coral bleaching and the eventual death of corals.  Warmer-than-usual sea temperatures in 1998 and 2002 produced mass bleaching events at the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) [pp. 1, 9, 10].

(2)     Australia is a Party to the World Heritage Convention, and since 1981 the GBR has been a World Heritage Area.

(3)     Under Article 4 of the Convention, each Party “recognizes the duty” to protect, conserve, and transmit to posterity all natural Heritage sites within its territory, and “will do all it can to this end, to the utmost of its own resources and, where appropriate, withinternational assistance and co-operation.”

(4)     Under Article 5, each Party “shall endeavor, in so far as possibleto take the appropriate legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary” to protect, conserve, and rehabilitate Heritage sites within its territory.

(5)     Under Article 6, each Party “undertakes not to take any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly” any Heritage areas, at home or abroad.

(6)     A “significant reduction in global emissions of greenhouse gases, well in excess of those set by the Kyoto Protocol (‘deep cuts’), is necessary in order to stabilize global temperatures and thereby reduce and reverse the impact upon the Great Barrier Reef.  Such measures include “setting a national target of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050” [p. 13].

(7)     The Kyoto Protocol is the “only international instrument incorporating binding country targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” and “offers the only mechanism through which the international community may reach agreement on binding targets for achieving deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions” [pp. 22, 23].

(8)     Australia‘s decision not to ratify Kyoto conflicts with Australia‘s Article 4 obligation to “do all it can,” “to the utmost of its own resources,” including efforts involving “internationalco-operation,” to protect the GBR.

(9)     Australia‘s decision also conflicts with the Article 5 obligation to “endeavor, in so far as possible” to take “appropriate” “legal” and “administrative” measures to protect the GBR.

(10) Finally, Australia‘s decision conflicts with the Article 6 obligation to avoid taking “deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly” any World Heritage Area.  Australia‘s refusal to join Kyoto “has been a factor delaying” the treaty’s entry into force, and jeopardizes the “conclusion of an effective international legal framework to address climate change” and the consequent threat to the GBR [pp. 24, 28].


Full article available here: http://www.techcentralstation.com/010705H.html

Global temperature trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.08 C per decade

December temperatures (preliminary):

Global composite temp.: +0.10 C (about 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit) above 20-year average for December.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.08 C (about 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit) above 20-year average for December.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.13 C (about 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit) above 20-year average for December.

November temperatures (revised):

Global Composite:    +0.15 C above 20-year average

Northern Hemisphere:    +0.29 C above 20-year average

Southern Hemisphere:    +0.01 C above 20-year average

(All temperature variations are based on a 20-year average (1979-1998) for the month reported.)

Notes on data released Jan. 6, 2005:

2004 was the ninth warmest year of the past 26, with a global average annual temperature that was 0.108 C (0.19 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the 20-year baseline average, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Color maps of local temperature anomalies from both 2004 and for December may soon be available on-line at:


The processed temperature data is available on-line at:

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAH and NOAA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal research scientist, use data gathered by microwave sounding units on NOAA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth.

This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas for which reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature cdata is collected  and processed, it is placed in a “public” computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

Neither Spencer nor Christy receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from state and federal grants or contracts.

“CO 2 trading targets too generous, say environmentalists” – “The European Union is at the centre of a new row between governments, industry and environmental campaigners over its ambitious new CO 2 emissions trading scheme, which came into effect on January 1. It is designed to help the 25 members meet their commitment to an 8% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 under the Kyoto protocol.” (The Guardian)

Environmentalists don’t really have a problem with CO2 (what tree hugger could object to plant food?) but rather with energy and humanity’s use thereof. Misanthropist quotes are abundant in the movement, here’s a few from The Environmentalists’ Little Green Book, U.S. Chamber of Commerce (ISBN:0-615-11628-0):

  • Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” — Paul “Population Bomb” Ehrlich.

  • Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover the source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it.” — Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute.

  • Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t our responsibility to bring that about?” — Maurice Strong, Secretary General of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the so-called Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro.

  • We’ve already had too much economic growth in the US. Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure.” — Ehrlich again.

  • The planet is about to break out with fever, indeed it may already have, and we [human beings] are the disease. We should be at war with ourselves and our lifestyles.” — Thomas Lovejoy, assistant secretary to the Smithsonian Institution.

  • The only real good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation, imposed by our elitist species (man) upon the rest of the natural world.” — John Shuttleworth, FoE manual writer.

  • The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S.. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.” — Michael Oppenheimer, senior scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund.

  • People are the cause of all the problems; we have too many of them; we need to get rid of some of them, and this (ban of DDT) is as good a way as any.” Charles Wurster, Environmental Defense Fund.

  • Man is always and everywhere a blight on the landscape.” — John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club.

  • The world has a cancer, and the cancer is man.” Alan Gregg, former longtime official of the Rockefeller Foundation.

They don’t like people and they are quite prepared to use any excuse to inhibit enabling technology, chemicals and affordable energy. Why are we pursuing a course set by people haters?