Saturday, January 27, 2007

Michael Duffy: New green heresy hunter

SMH's Michael Duffy has a crack at painting the 80% or so of us who acknowledge the science of global warming as members of a new green religion. It's an old motif that is done the rounds of the fossil-fuel think-tank shills who pose as journalists, but Duffy's own brand of spin is good for a belly laugh: :::[SMH]

In my lifetime I've experienced two religious movements, Christianity and Marxism. Now there's a third, the belief our civilisation is doomed unless we take urgent and significant action to reduce our output of carbon dioxide.

He's light-on in justifying this outlandish claim, and it is painful reading his tortured logic.

Late last year World Economics, a reputable and mainstream British academic journal, published a lengthy rebuttal of the review by 14 experts. It's worth quoting from the abstract at some length because the rebuttal has been almost completely ignored. Google Australia gives it 10 references compared with more than 10,000, mostly adulatory ones, for the Stern review itself.

That's fundamentalism in action, too.


Google might be surprised to know their algorithm shows fundamentalist neo-green religiosity. Go, the Gaiagle Algorithm. But you have to get dragged to the last sentence of his concluding paragraph before we see the point Duffy has been labouring so hard to make:

The non-religious view of global warming is this: we know the world has warmed slightly over the past century, but we don't know how much of this was caused by humans and how much by the natural variations in temperature that occur frequently. We have no idea if the warming will continue or, if it does, whether this will be good or bad.

"No idea if the warming will continue... "? This sounds familiar; "no idea whether there is a link between cancer and smoking... ".

"... or whether this will be good or bad". No? Not the findings leading to the first IPCC in 1980 at the Rio Earth Summit? Not those resolutions of Kyoto Protocol in 1988? Not the entire corpus of climate modeling studies? Not the scientific consensus measured by Naomi Oreskes as total? Not the Stern Report conclustions which tell us that not doing something will cost us 20 times what we need to spend on combating global warming? Not the observed climatic effects of climate change events, like the collapsing of the Lars B iceshelf? Not the recent public conversion of the last hold-out politicians like Howard, and Bush? Not the cry by big business for a carbon price signal, so they can get on with the business of makeing business plans?

None of this dents Duffy's faith. What can you say?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Will Bush propose carbon dioxide emissions surge in State of the Union speech?

Chief executives from Alcoa Inc., PB America Inc., DuPont Co., Caterpillar Inc., General Electric Co., and Duke Energy Corp., and executives of Lehman Brothers, PG&E Corp., PNM Resources, FPL Group and four leading environmental organizations have signed a letter asking Bush to announce big emission cuts on the eve of his State of the Union address: :::[Yahoo! News]

WASHINGTON - The chief executives of 10 major corporations and business groups, on the eve of the State of the Union address, urged President Bush on Monday to support mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution and establish reductions targets.

"We can and must take prompt action to establish a coordinated, economy-wide market-driven approach to climate protection," the executives from a broad range of industries said in a letter to the president.
Big business has the big picture. Does Bush? Or will he continue to regurgitate policy and climate-science formulations arrived at deep in the bowels of fossil-fuel funded thinktanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute? Hmmm?

He shows no sign of learning from the Baker Report recommendations on an Iraq exit strategy and, in fact, is doing the opposite and proposing a surge of troops. So why should the Stern Report findings have sunk in for him? Sir Nicholas was only a World Bank economist and Chancelor of the Exchequer, after all.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wealthy swordfish do Norway & Greenland for school holidays

It's all too easy to blame fossil fuels for global warming, but they have brought prosperity unknown in previous generations of tropical swordfish. So much so, in fact, that there have been frequent sighting of holidaying swordfish recorded off the coast of Norway and Greenland. :::[SMH]

Parts of the North Atlantic are setting winter heat records, allowing species ranging from swordfish to jellyfish to thrive beyond their normal ranges in a shift linked by many scientists to global warming.

Temperatures in Arctic waters off northern Europe at the tail end of the Gulf Stream, for example, are about 6.7 Celsius, the highest for early January since records began in the 1930s, according to Norway's Institute of Marine Research.

[...]

In Lista by the North Sea, for example, water temperatures were a record 8.5C, 2-3 degrees above normal for January.

In recent years, salmon have been seen swimming north of the Bering Straits between Russia and Alaska, and jellyfish plagued Mediterranean beaches in 2006. Over-fishing and destruction of habitats is also disrupting marine life.

Many scientists link high global air and water temperatures in recent months to an El Nino weather event warming the eastern Pacific, and to global warming stoked by burning fossil fuels.

The longer-term warming trend is affecting all oceans.

"The Indian Ocean has had an overall warming trend attributed to the overall warming of the oceans," said Nerilie Abram of the Australian National University.

Abram said droughts in Indonesia and perhaps Australia might become more frequent as a result of changing ocean and monsoon conditions.


Global warming alarmists would deny swordfish their new found mobility. They would turn back progress and condem these magnificant creatures back to their humble beginnings in Australia, back to being hunted by wealthy tourists from Norway.

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World Wide Weird Weather

And on the seventh day the climate has lost its cool in Greece, its waters in Australia, and sent Californians surf snowboarding. In their cars. And at Manchester airport landing planes did almost loseth their runways.

And we all saw that it was not good: :::[SMH Video]

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How do you tell Jesus you stuffed the climate?

At first glance it's hard to understand what the Exclusive Brethren religious sect has against the Greens political party? :::[SMH]
A MYSTERY Sydney businessman belonging to the Exclusive Bretheren sect spent $370,000 on advertisements and pamphlets during the 2004 federal election, according to the Australian Electoral Commission.

This finding follows a year-long investigation sparked by Senator Bob Brown into the funding of seven sets of advertisements and pamphlets in the last federal election. All attacked the Greens and called for the re-election of the Howard Government.
The Greens are interested in preserving the environment; I assume the Exclusive Brethren are across the Christian concept of Stewardship. The Greens are interested in social justice; I assume the Exclusive Brethren are also tuned into that key message of Jesus'.

So far they could seem natural allies. But a scroll down the NSW Greens policy page throws up a this clue: :::[The Greens NSW: Policies]

The Greens NSW Policy Summaries

Bushfires

Climate Change and Energy

Coal

Drugs and Harm Minimisation

Education

Electoral Funding, Donations & Disclosure

Firearms

Forests and Wilderness

Health

Housing

Indigenous Australians

Industrial Relations

Justice

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex

Marine Environment

Multiculturalism

Planning and Infrastructure

Public Ownership

Rural Land Use

Transport

Water (Rural and Agricultural)

Water (Urban)

Wetlands

For policies relating to Federal issues please go to the Australian Greens website.
I guess they just don't like anyone that's not heterosexual. Really, of all the issues to get you fired up enough to spend $370,000 to campaign against... someone's sexuality?

Why? There is very limited censure of homosexuality to interpret in the Old Testament, about as much as there is against eating shellfish or getting a tatoo. All three injunctions are found in Leviticus if my memory still serves. And there's bugger-all in the New Testament, so to speak. Ironically, if Judas hadn't kissed Jesus greatings in Gethsemane there would be no Exclusive Brethren in Australia today to secretly seek to outlaw same-sex kissing.

The Greens are the only party that seriously wants to fight climate change. Seventy percent of Australians seriously want to fight climate change.

If a Judas' kiss is to have implications on global warming in an Australian federal election 1,965 years later (how's that for chaos theory in action?) then let it not be motivated by homophobia, but by humanphilia. If Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for mankind, then surely it is not much for his believers to sacrifice little behaviours that we know are debilitating for the future of mankind's climate-dependent survival? Compared to Jesus' trials before his death, how hard is it to incrementally change from broad-base fossil energy to broad-base renewable energy?

These guys hate gays so much that, according to Electoral Commission records, only three other organisations spent more than Willmac Enterprises (the aforementioned mystery Sydney business owed by the Exclusive Brethren sect member Mark William Mackenzie) to campaign on their own behalf during the 2004 elections. Willmac outspent the Wilderness Society, private health lobbyists, leading trade unions, the National Union of Students and even the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania.

They are sneaky too. The Funding and Disclosure Report Election 2004 shows that Willmac Enterprises have not lodged a third party return of electoral expenditure in relation to the 2004 election.

I have a message for Mark William Mackenzie and his brethren (in the unlikey case one of you have sneaked out to find a Internet terminal): Until doomesday, your After-Life is very much dependent on your After-You. What in heavens are you going to tell Jesus when he says, "Mate, what did you do to my planet? Judgement Day is not scheduled for yonks and now, because you cooked the climate, I'll have billions of refugees to resettle soon. It's going to take an eternity. Look around you, do you see another habitable planet? Quality liveable climate is not easy to make."?

You know, you only got the gig because my Father saw that it was good in the beginning?"

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Howard's vapourware or Al Gore's hard truth?

John Howard is in China. He's looking to sell Australia's non-expertise in yet-to-be-developed clean-coal messiah technology. It's only expected to potentially bear fruit under favourable conditions at some abstract time in the 20's. In software development this is called vapourware, but the irony of Howard's hawkings gives the term a new context. When considering the value of Howard's offer, the most mercantile Chinese need to understand Howard's view on "core" and "non-core" promises. Especially since he is flogging them nuclear energy as well. Surprising, this ladling uranium in India and China when the PM is not touting the "War on Terror" -- yet another new context for "vapourware".

Meanwhile Al Gore is across the Japan Sea running hard in the other direction. He's
explaining to the Kyoto Protocol hosts how short the window is in which to get it right and seriously reduce emissions. Most climate scientists say ten years, so I guess Gore does not have five to waste: :::[Reuters]

Jan. 15 -Al Gore says that he will not run in the 2008 election, saying he was involved in "a different kind of campaign."

Al Gore, who is currently in Japan promoting his award-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", spoke with journalists in Tokyo, saying, "The U.S. should be leading the world toward a solution for this climate crisis instead of leading in the other direction."


So... who gets your vote in this different kind of campaign? Gore may be passing up the chance to run in the US Presidential Elections, but he will be running in a different kind of way in the upcoming Australian Federal Elections. And in the next Japanese elections. And in the elections every country he promotes his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth".

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Regime change in the US and Australia (a winning coalition needed)

With the first ominous sniff of federal elections hanging in the Australian air like a distant bushfire, and with the US presidential elections due in less than half a term, the question has to be asked.

How do we get carbon dioxide emissions regime friendly governments into power into these two countries, the only non-signators of the Kyoto Protocol?

Well, let's knock over the easier case first; the US. Unless the Democrats completely bugger-up their majority control of the senate and the house, it's hard to see them not winning. But, the burning issue of Iraq risks sucking all the oxygen from other issues, like global warming. So it it would be useful brand the issue of Iraq with its opportunity cost that arises from not combating global warming earlier (and for less in the long-term). Or developing energy independence, self-relience and sustainability. The issues are linked, and those links should be drawn out for voters to consider.

I calculated the opportunity cost using the rule suggested by World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern in his recent recent report: That the total cost of combating is 1% of global gross domestic product per year. I worked out the yearly average of the cost of Iraq from www.costofwar.com and US GDP from the CIA Factbook.

It turns out that the cost of fighting in Iraq is 1.4 times the cost of what Stern says is needed if the US were to effectively fight global warming, if I am right.

$35.5 billion is a lot of spare cash. Keep in mind the opportunity cost of not combating global warming is calculated at 20 times the cost of combating it by 2050.

The other high ground to stake a claim on is as the party that believes in science. The failures of Bush's 'faith-based' initiatives in not finding the WMD they 'believed' they had, for example, or the Supreme (court) Failure of Intelligent Design to viraly replicate itself in the science class-rooms alongside The Theory of Evolution makes science more reassuring whether one has a faith or not. Even if religious there still is something unsettling about Bush saying that God told him to go into Iraq.

The censoring of top NASA climate scientists like Hanson is well documented, as is the relationship of the Republican Party to the oil industry and its dirty disinformation program.

You don't need to be Rove (Karl) to make hay with all that sunshine, being as saturated with co2 as it is. The way to do this is make the case that climate science is what will lead us out of the global warming desert. And the renewable energies will be our chariots.

And Australian opposition parties should do the same.

1. Claiming the high-ground in science-informed climate recovery.
The only way we are going to combat global warming is by comprehensively understanding the entire body of interrelated science. Voters need to know this. While the Howard government is busy placing our scientific institutions at the service of commerce they must be exposed. Science is not advanced by forcing scientists into predicting what discoveries they will make when they apply for grants based on potential comercial merit.

2. Turning Iraq into an isssue of oil independence.
America is an important ally and trading parter, so we need to stay in synch with their
politics. Our opposition politicians should hear the US voters verdict
at the recent US mid-term elections as keenly as any American
conterpart. We import all our oil. If we grow our own biodiesel we cut down on climate distorting emissions, and don't have to join in on every loser mission in the middle-east.

Finally, we should accept any help from outside interested parties. Like US Democrats who might want to test market this political strategy in Australia. We are a test market for everything else. And like the rest of the world that is attempting to pull its weight under the Kyoto Potocol. From their point of view - hey, the US and us are free-loaders on the global economy. It's in the interest of Germany, France, Italy and the rest of continental Europe to get a Kyoto Protocol friendly government up in Australia, and especially up in the US.

Some say that that is what the British were up to with the politics behind the Stern Report. :::[From Economist's View]

Stop the free ride, by Philippe Sands, Commentary, The Guardian: The Stern report concludes that reducing the adverse impacts of climate change is highly desirable and feasible. ... One of the main barriers to ... change is the failure to stigmatise the industrialised states that have decided not to join the Kyoto Protocol ... Australia and the US. Putting it another way, these two states derive economic advantages by not joining Kyoto: their producers do not have to pay the short-term costs of implementing emissions reductions. The companies and their producers are free-riders, benefiting from the environmental actions of others without meeting some of the immediate costs.

It is time to start the ball rolling against this unfair subsidy. It is time to start thinking about using economic instruments to encourage Australia and the US to sign up to Kyoto. That means trade measures: levying climate duties - and perhaps even import restrictions or outright bans - on products from these two countries...


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Monday, January 08, 2007

ExxonMobil's $16 millon FUD campaign

FUD is an old sales technique widely used in the telecommunications and other sales oriented industries. It stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt and it is what a salesperson plants in the minds of their prospects in relation to his or her competitor, while trying not to appear to denigrate the competition. That's regarded by good salespeople, and good clients, as tacky.

To prevent the public from understanding the full implications of fossil-fuel greenhouse emissions, ExxonMobil outsources their FUD campaign to a network of think-tanks and opinionmakers. The objective is to discredit the science of global warming. The Union of Concerned Scientist has a tally of how much they have spent over the last few years: :::[Forbes]

ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in a coordinated effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted Wednesday.

The report by the science-based nonprofit advocacy group mirrors similar claims by Britain's leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change."

ExxonMobil (nyse: XOM - news - people ) did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the scientific advocacy group's report.

What do you say?

ExxonMobil lists on its Web site nearly $133 million in 2005 contributions globally, including $6.8 million for "public information and policy research" distributed to more than 140 think-tanks, universities, foundations, associations and other groups. Some of those have publicly disputed the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

But in September, the company said in response to the Royal Society that it funded groups which research "significant policy issues and promote informed discussion on issues of direct relevance to the company." It said the groups do not speak for the company.

Which is why these think-tank linked journalists and the like feel free to denigrate the 'competition', that being the scientific reality, aka the truth. It is also why I avoid their petrol stations, which include Caltex and Mobil franchises in Australia.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bush pisses in Merkle's global warming pocket

George Bush and Angela Merkel met to dicuss the world's problems. She seems to have extracted a softening from Bush on global warming: :::[Environmental News Network]

WASHINGTON -- President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged closer cooperation on combatting global warming and in trying to prod a Middle East peace on Thursday, brushing aside lingering differences between the two countries.

Bush said at a joint White House news conference that he was open to new ideas to confront climate change, although he stopped short of some of the tight environmental standards favored by Germany and other European nations.

"We talked about climate change, and I assured the chancellor I'm committed to promoting new technologies that will promote energy efficiency and do a better job protecting the environment," Bush said. "I believe there is a chance now to put behind us the old stale debates of the past."

It was a reference to past differences between Bush and European allies on the Kyoto accords, an international agreement to reduce pollution that causes global warming. It has not been ratified by the United States.

For her part, Merkel said, "I was delighted to hear that there is a readiness there."


So... where's the rub?

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What in the world are we doing about global warming?

Running Dog's World Solutions provides a round-up of the co2 emissions reduction activities being deployed in various countries and continents around the world.

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Monday, January 01, 2007