Archives - February 2008

February 29, 2008

Candidates Fail Energy Independence Test - All the presidential candidates say they’re for energy independence. So why didn’t they do something about it when they had the chance?

Hillary Clinton rails on her web site about Americans sending “billion of dollars to the Middle East for their oil.” Barack Obama warns that Middle East oil is the “lifeline of Al Qaeda.” Republican hopeful John McCain says that, if elected, his energy policy will “amount to a declaration of independence from our reliance on oil sheiks and our vulnerability to their troubled politics.”

But Clinton and Obama recently voted for a bill that can only promote dependency on oil from the Middle East . And John McCain, went AWOL, not voting on the bill at all. (Steven Milloy,

If climate sceptics are right, it is time to worry

Talk about unfalsifiable propositions. We’ll save you a bit of time, Klemperer is in economics and apparently knows absolutely nothing about the planet or its history: "How confident can we be about the way a system as complex as earth will respond to conditions it has never encountered before?" Does he mean atmospheric CO2? Can’t be that, for most of Earth’s history it has had much higher levels than current or anticipated.

The Sky is Falling - or Revising the Nine Times Rule

By William F. McClenney, P.G. R.E.A.

When I first heard it, I believed it. It made sense. I could see it easily and clearly. And that was a long, long time ago. It seemed counterintuitive that anyone could or would not believe it. It was that seminal. Homo Sapiens would cause the earth to warm, we now call it the Greenhouse Gas theory, and it is now a law (at least in California).

New Research Paper “Assessment Of Three Dynamical Climate Downscaling Methods” - Lo, J., Z. Yang, and R. A. Pielke Sr. (2008): Assessment of dynamical climate downscaling methods using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. J. Geophys. Res., J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2007JD009216, in press.

The abstract reads: “The common methodology in dynamical regional climate downscaling employs a continuous integration of a limited-area model with a single initialization of the atmospheric fields and frequent updates of lateral boundary conditions based on general circulation model outputs or reanalysis datasets. This study suggests alternative methods that can be more skillful than the traditional one in obtaining high-resolution climate information. We use the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model with a grid spacing at 36 km over the conterminous U.S. to dynamically downscale the 1-degree NCEP Global Final Analysis (FNL). We perform three types of experiments for the entire year of 2000: 1) continuous integrations with a single initialization as usually done, 2) consecutive integrations with frequent re-initializations, and 3) as 1) but with a 3-D nudging being applied. The simulations are evaluated in a high temporal scale (6-hourly) by comparison with the 32-km NCEP North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). Compared to NARR, the downscaling simulation using the 3-D nudging shows the highest skill, and the continuous run produces the lowest skill. While the re-initialization runs give an intermediate skill, a run with a more frequent (e.g. weekly) re-initialization outperforms that with the less frequent re-initialization (e.g. monthly). Dynamical downscaling outperforms bi-linear interpolation, especially for meteorological fields near the surface over the mountainous regions. The 3-D nudging generates realistic regional scale patterns that are not resolved by simply updating the lateral boundary conditions as done traditionally, therefore significantly improving the accuracy of generating regional climate information.” (Climate Science)

Today Should Visit La Brea!

What is it about the Today programme (BBC Radio 4)? After all, it is supposed to be the thinking person’s introduction to the news of the day. But, at 07.21 minutes into the programme this morning, their correspondent shadowing the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband [amazingly given as ‘Milliband’ at the Today web site], on his trip to China blithely blathered the phrase: “to stop climate change” [you can listen in here, at 07.20 minutes into the 06.00 - 06.30 slot - after today, select ‘Thursday’].
What a nonsense! Whether you believe in ‘global warming’, or not, the one thing on which we can all agree is that humans can never stop climate change. We may be able to influence it, or to modify it, but we can never, never “stop” it. Indeed, because climate is the most complex, coupled, non-linear, semi-chaotic system known, we can’t even manage it predictably. Still, I am sure we shall all revel in the sight of John Humphrys battling solar sun spots, Sarah Montague honing the geometry of the Earth, James Naughtie capping volcanoes, Carolyn Quinn creating fluffy clouds, and Ed Stourton deflecting the ocean currents.
It is time that the producers of Today expunged from the programme such thinking and sloppy language about climate change, especially as Radio 4 regards itself as a cut above the other more ‘popular’ BBC outlets. Yet, interestingly, a far more critical (and, I might add, fun) approach is often found on Radio 2, witness Jeremy Vine’s lovely interview yesterday with the weatherman, John Ketley, who was hilarious about ‘global warming’ and climate change being blamed for everything, even for football managers losing their jobs [you can listen in here, starting at 12.30 minutes into the recording*]. Mind you, I wouldn’t put it beyond the Today lot to try (although poor old ‘sport’ does tend to be a tad looked down on by its more lofty presenters).
Unfortunately, too much of Today simply repeats what The Times commentator, David Aaronovitch, has brilliantly termed the ‘Intelligentsia Default Position’, or IDP. Sadly, of course, this does not mean that it is either intelligent or even meaningful.
What everyone is forgetting is that change is the norm, not the exception. Accordingly, as an urgent corrective to Today’s “stopping-climate-change” balderdash, I thought I would repeat below my short essay on the famous La Brea Tar Pits, a quintessential icon of change:

Read more at Global Warming Politics

EU Governments Start Tough Climate Change Talks

BRUSSELS - European Union governments raised a string of objections on Thursday to the bloc’s flagship plan on fighting climate change, promising tough negotiations on carbon dioxide emission curbs and the use of renewable energy.

At an initial debate among energy ministers, most of the EU’s 27 member states said the blueprint for moving to a low-carbon economy, as presented last month by the European Commission, was a good starting point for talks.

Antarctic boulders may point to sea level rise - OSLO (Reuters) - Boulders as big as soccer balls show that a thinning of West Antarctic glaciers has become 20 times faster in recent decades and may hold clues to future sea level rise, scientists said on Friday.

Rocks trapped in glacier ice start to react like clockwork when exposed to the air because of a bombardment of cosmic rays. Scientists studied boulders by three glaciers to find how long they have been out of the ice and so judge the pace of thinning.

"Boulders the size of footballs could help scientists predict the west Antarctic ice sheet's contribution to sea level rise," according to scientists at British and German research institutes in a report in the journal Geology.

Seafloor cores show tight bond between dust and past climates

Each year, long-distance winds drop up to 900 million tons of dust from deserts and other parts of the land into the oceans. Scientists suspect this phenomenon connects to global climate—but exactly how, remains a question. Now a big piece of the puzzle has fallen into place, with a study showing that the amount of dust entering the equatorial Pacific peaks sharply during repeated ice ages, then declines when climate warms.

Gotta luvit :)

Here’s the result of the UK’s "Energy Saving Day" And the reason their "leave it off" day didn’t spare any electrons? Not enough gorebull warming!

ANALYSIS - Indonesia Blackouts May Be Sign Of Dark Years Ahead

Funny how we get a lot of talk of looming social unrest spawned by gorebull warming yet people fail to notice the danger of a lack of energy. Indonesia is a populous, largely Muslim country, ripe for radicalization if development fails to deliver promised improvement in living standards and general wealth. What is needed is all the help they can get to get sufficient power online — yesterday!

The assault on energy supplies continues

Investors Warned Against Coal-Fired Power Plants
Abid Aslam

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (IPS) - Prospects for coal-fired power plants have dimmed amid soaring construction costs, regulatory uncertainty and concern about global warming, say energy economists.
Dozens of proposed plants have been dumped or put on hold in the past year and U.S. utilities still seeking to build new coal-fired generators face risks comparable to those that derailed the U.S.

It just gets worse and worse — a 40% energy loss

Combating Climate Change: Scaling Back Greenhouse Gas Emissions While Keeping the Lights On
If controlling global warming is a priority, then a transformation of how the world produces, transports and uses electricity will be required, IPCC report reveals
By David Biello, SciAm

1,726,400,000 free-range birds?
What if we all went organic? The anti-battery farm brigade have got to do the maths
Martin Samuel, The Times

ANALYSIS - Big Oil May Strike Out With Next US President

WASHINGTON - Oil and gas companies for years have pushed for drilling access on more US government lands, but they could be left out in the cold under the next American president when it comes to getting new acres to explore for energy.

Energy companies say they need to develop more domestic gas and oil supplies to help meet growing demand, but federally owned areas that hold most of those reserves — from onshore Alaska to waters off the West and East coasts of the lower 48 states — have drilling bans.

Should roads have tolls to fight global warming?
By Andrew Garber
Seattle Times Olympia bureau

OLYMPIA — Two global-warming bills likely to pass the Legislature this session could open the door to tolls on major highways in the central Puget Sound region as a way to reduce traffic and greenhouse-gas emissions.

Environmental groups consider the bills critical to a larger effort to get people out of their cars and into public transportation.

Oops! Zero-emission buses more than 30 times dearer to run

So, if you make public transport fares 30 times higher, will that encourage people to abandon their cars and flock to public transport?

Wind Farms May Threaten Whooping Cranes

(AP) — Whooping cranes have waged a valiant fight against extinction, but federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered birds: wind farms.

Down to about 15 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate each fall from Canada to Texas now number 266, thanks to conservation efforts.

But because wind energy has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - either from crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms.

Loss of wind causes Texas power grid emergency

Uh-huh… and it was just last Saturday that the New York Times ran: Move Over, Oil, There’s Money in Texas Wind. There might be money in subsidy farming but there surely is no reliable energy supply in it.

Loss of wind causes Texas power grid emergency
Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:11pm EST
HOUSTON (Reuters) - A drop in wind generation late on Tuesday, coupled with colder weather, triggered an electric emergency that caused the Texas grid operator to cut service to some large customers, the grid agency said on Wednesday.

What’s Really Driving the Price of Oil?

By Beat Balzli and Frank Hornig, Der Spiegel

The price of crude oil has doubled, from $50 to $100, within months. The increase cannot be attributed to the fundamental data, which have hardly changed. And the looming recession ought to drive the price down. So why is oil getting more expensive?

Petrol price to rise as oil giants get ‘cheeky’

Well what does anyone expect, that businesses won’t pass on added costs?

Reuters Summit - Execs Say US Must Consider New Nuclear Plants

CHICAGO - The roughly 100 nuclear power plants in the United States are approaching the end of their useful life, and manufacturing executives say the nation cannot rule out building new ones if it wants to keep up with electricity demand.

"If you want to talk about energy availability and the environment in the same paragraph, you have to be talking about nuclear," John Rice, a General Electric Co vice chairman who heads up the conglomerate’s infrastructure arm, told the Reuters Manufacturing Summit in Chicago this week.

Time: The World’s Growing Food-Price Crisis

The effects of global warming? How they figure? Has anyone demonstrated any negative impact on food production from AGW? If anyone knows of any please leave a comment letting is know about the research. Certainly we are aware climate crisis-itis is pushing up food prices but that is a result of warming hysteria, not warming, real or imagined.

February 28, 2008

Funding Isn’t Everything
By Roger Bate, The American
Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Gates Foundation has been a massively positive influence on malaria research. But it is not above criticism.

Since the mid-1990s, Microsoft has been fending off complaints about its vast power over the software market. Now the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) may be in for the same treatment regarding its international health care efforts.

Bacteria beware: MIT graduate invents knock-out punch for antibiotic resistance - MIT graduate student and synthetic biologist Timothy Lu is passionate about tackling problems that pose threats to human health. His current mission: to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Today, the 27-year-old M.D. candidate and Ph.D. in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology received the prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventing processes that promise to combat bacterial infections by enhancing the effectiveness of antibiotics at killing bacteria and helping to eradicate biofilm – bacterial layers that resist antimicrobial treatment and breed on surfaces, such as those of medical, industrial and food processing equipment.

Bacterial infections can lead to severe health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, causes approximately 94,000 infections and contributes to 19,000 deaths annually in the United States, through contact that can occur in a variety of locations, including schools, hospitals and homes. Bacteria can also infect food, including spinach and beef, and damage industrial equipment.

Lu explained that fewer pharmaceutical companies are inventing new antibiotics due to long development times, high failure rates and large costs. According to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, the cost to develop a new drug is $930 million (based on the value of the dollar in 2006). These factors, coupled with a decline in the number of prescriptions authorized for antibiotics, constrain profits. “Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are also becoming more prevalent,” Lu noted. “My inventions enable the rapid design and production of inexpensive antibacterial agents that can break through the defenses of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and bacterial biofilms.” (MIT)

The creation of the Prozac myth - In the 20 years since its launch, 40m people worldwide have taken the so-called wonder drug - but research revealed this week shows that Prozac, and similar antidepressants, are no more effective than a sugar pill. So how was the myth created? Psychoanalyst Darian Leader traces the irrepressible rise of the multibillion dollar depression industry, while others explore the clinical and cultural impact of Prozac, its perceived personal benefits - and sometimes terrible costs (The Guardian)

This La Nina Likely to Have Legs

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

Evidence is growing this La Nina will be a longer term event. Most similar important La Ninas are often multi year events (1949-1951,1954-1956, 1961-63, 1970-1972, 1973-1976, 1998-2001). Though the easternmost Pacific near South America has warmed at the surface as the seasonal weakening of the tropical easterlies led to weakened upwelling, it is still cold beneath. Below you can see the latest depth-section of ocean temperatures (top) and anomalies (bottom).

TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) Data Set Potential in Climate Controversy By Joanne Simpson, private citizen - I am pleased to be able to post a weblog by Dr. Joanne Simpson who is among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years. Her comments were first distributed on a limited mail group, and are reproduced here with her permission. (Climate Science)

Monsoon intensity driven by Earth’s orbit: study

The monsoon rains that drench tropical and subtropical Asia from June through September vary in duration and intensity in keeping with tiny wobbles in Earth’s orbit as it circles the Sun, according to a study released Wednesday.

These cycles wax and wane every 23,000 years, said the study, based on the breakthrough use of stalagmites from a cave in central-eastern China to measure changes in climate patterns over the last quarter million years.

"The implications are that the present Asian summer monsoon is relatively weak in comparison to a few thousand years ago and that is will stay at this level for centuries more," lead researcher Hai Cheng of Nanjing Normal University in China’s Jiangsu Province told AFP.

More Coastal Dwellers, Not More Hurricanes, Hike Dollar Damages

MIAMI, Florida, February 27, 2008 (ENS) - Hurricanes striking the United States have caused skyrocketing economic damages not because of an increase in the number or intensity of hurricanes but due to greater population, infrastructure, and wealth concentrated along U.S. coastlines, according to new research by an international team of scientists.

Antarctica Ain’t Cooperating!

We have kidded from time to time about renaming World Climate Report to World Hurricane Report given all the evidence we encounter in the professional literature discrediting the claim of more frequent and intense hurricanes. If we decided to never again report on hurricanes, our next most popular topic would be Antarctica.

Efforts to Boost Climate Change Concern May Have Opposite Effect, Risk Analysis Study Shows

MCLEAN, VA–(Marketwire - February 27, 2008) - Ewire — Mass media efforts to raise American public concern about climate change — such as Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth" and the "scientific consensus" media drumbeat — ironically may be having just the opposite effect, according to a new study appearing in the scientific journal Risk Analysis.

Media Wires Go Cold

I heartily recommend an excoriating piece from Melanie Phillips on her ever-stimulating Spectator blog: ‘World Saved! (Again)’ (February 26). Having reviewed the fact that much of the Earth has been experiencing the coldest winter for many decades, Melanie then makes a seminal observation about serious bias in the British media, highlighting a classic case of Foucault’s excluded voices, if ever there were one:

Global Climate Changes have Natural Causes

By Dr. Lance Endersbee

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the climate in Europe was cold and unpredictable. Crops failed. Famine followed famine, bringing epidemics. There was a belief that crop failures must be due to human wickedness. But who were the wicked ones? It was believed that there must be some witches who are in the grip of the devil.

Alaska Town Sues Oil and Power Companies Over Global Warming
Associated Press, Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska  — A tiny Alaska village eroding into the Chukchi Sea sued oil, power and coal companies Tuesday, claiming that the large amounts of greenhouse gases they emit contribute to global warming that threatens the community’s existence.

[Their really bad] position: Not only is Crist’s green initiative needed, legislators should go further

Just love the comments under the linked piece. I wonder if The Sentinel is learning anything yet?

Our position: Not only is Crist’s green initiative needed, legislators should go further
February 27, 2008
The temptation among lawmakers next month to take a cleaver to Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposal to spend $200 million on green technologies and practices could be great.

Not only does the $200 million represent twice what the state spent last year on related initiatives, it comes amid a state budget crunch that’s making lawmakers scramble to find dollars for their own pet projects.

Handing the governor $10 million to develop wind-energy turbines or $7.5 million to encourage local governments to reduce carbon emissions and conserve energy, which the governor’s requesting they do, just might not come particularly easily to certain lawmakers more concerned about bankrolling local roads or community centers for their constituents.

Stop penalising consumers for climate change
By David Howell
Published: February 28 2008 02:00 | Last updated: February 28 2008 02:00

The campaign for a sustainable, low-carbon future is not going well. A Norwegian Arctic measuring station last week reported that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere had reached a new peak, at 394 parts per million, heading for the danger levels at which we are told violent climate change will set in.

Meanwhile, an FT/Harris poll tells us that two-thirds of western European consumers are reluctant to pay more on their sky-high energy bills to cut emissions and subsidise renewables, while European industry’s grumbles at the prospect of higher energy costs and even more ferocious lower-cost competition from Asia are growing louder.

And although China and India are worried about the long-term impact of global warming, their colossal programmes of coal-fired power stations are going ahead as fast as ever, guaranteeing that, however virtuous the western example, CO 2 will continue to rise fast in the atmosphere.

What is going wrong?

Carbon Copies
By Patrick J. Michaels
Published 2/27/2008 12:07:59 AM

The Kansas Legislature has wisely written a proposed tax on carbon dioxide emissions out of this year’s energy legislation. That’s the good news: As originally written by the Committee on Utilities, the Sunflower Energy bill’s CO2 tax would have been a first, and a very bad precedent. The bad news is that the original bill will be copied and wind up before other legislatures that are more likely to pass it, like those of California and Oregon.

A CO2 tax will largely be levied on utilities that exceed modest limits on their carbon dioxide effluent, so consumers won’t "see" it — except in their electric bills.

An idiot entertainer and a FoE director… presumably everyone will do precisely as they say

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke: We face wartime-style energy rationing
By Bruno Waterfield, Daily Telegraph

People face wartime-style rationing of energy consumption and strict restrictions on travel unless the European Union takes new powers to enforce climate change targets, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has warned.

The rock musician was in Brussels to launch "Big Ask Europe", a Friends of the Earth campaign urging a beefed up Brussels powers to implement sweeping measures to cut CO2 emissions by 2020.

G8, EU make progress in climate commitments: study

OTTAWA, Feb 27 (AFP) Feb 27, 2008
The Group of Eight industrialized nations and the European Union have made greater strides this past year than previously in meeting their commitments to stem global warming, said a report Wednesday.

"This year, compliance has increased noticeably across climate-related commitments," said the G8 Research Group’s annual compliance report.

The research Group based at the University of Toronto evaluated whether or not commitments made by the eight nations at talks in June 2007 in Heiligendamm, Germany, have actually been met.

"In general terms, compliance with climate and energy commitments was higher than with those in all other policy areas except trade," the report said.

It looked at 23 key commitments out of 329 in the areas of trade, poverty, disease, energy, security, nuclear nonproliferation, and climate change.

"Yet the prevalence of ‘partial compliance’ scores suggests that ambitious targets and notable policy statements have not (all) been adequately followed-up by concrete policy actions and budgetary allocations."

The final results revealed that the EU has done the most to fulfill its Heiligendamm commitments.

Conversely, Russia was the only G8 member to attain a negative score, as it was assessed to be non-compliant with two commitments: promoting less emission-intensive energy production, and supporting climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

Car travel ‘cut by 80 per cent’
OVERSEAS trips may become a once-in-lifetime experience and car travel needed to be cut by 80 per cent if we have any hope of avoiding "dangerous" climate change, experts say.

Energy experts from Monash University said the carbon emission standards recommended by the government-hired Professor Ross Garnaut would not be possible if Australia’s love affair with cars and planes continued.

$10.8 Billion payment to farmers to meet Kyoto Commitment.

Agmates Editor Steve Truman writes:

Australian Prime Minister Kevin RuddThe Rudd Governments plans to meet its commitments under the recently ratified Kyoto protocol have been dealt a potentially lethal financial blow.

The Federal and ultimately the High Court of Australia is now to rule on whether the Commonwealth can use the 80 million tonnes of Carbon Credits accumulated from land clearing bans.

It had been the previous coalition governments intention and by default the Rudd governments plan to meet it’s commitments to limit the nation’s Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2008-2012 to the Kyoto Target of an 8% increase above the levels achieved in 1990, by using these accumulated credits without paying farmers for them.

Big guns aim at Govt climate policy
5:00AM Thursday February 28, 2008
By Brian Fallow

New Zealand’s largest company, its richest man and a state-owned enterprise are among the parties combining to lobby against the way the Government plans to treat deforestation in its climate change policy.

A body called the Flexible Land Use Alliance, to be launched in Wellington today, brings together Fonterra, Graeme Hart’s Carter Holt, Landcorp and the Forest Owners Association, among others.

They are opposed to plans to devolve, to the owners of land under commercial forests which already existed in 1990, the deforestation liabilities which the country incurs under the Kyoto Protocol.

Wow! Even The Crone has noticed the Clintons steering your money into their pockets

Mind, the Clintons are rank amateurs when compared with Al’s carbon scam and gorebull warming. Wonder if The Crone will ever run a feature pointing out Al’s wonderful self-enrichment scheme (doesn’t matter how many freeze to death in the dark, does it, so long as Al & the deserving make bazillions out of it).

Pols Drunk On Corn-Based Ethanol Have Left Millions With Hangover

By HENRY I. MILLER | Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2008 4:30 PM PT

"There is a right way and a wrong way to produce (ethanol)," the New York Times editorialized on Feb. 24. "Done right, ethanol could help wean the country from its dependence on foreign oil while reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change.

New research suggests biofuel blending is often inaccurate

While sampling blended biodiesel fuels purchased from small-scale retailers, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that many of the blends do not contain the advertised amount of biofuel.

Marine chemist Chris Reddy and colleagues sampled pure biodiesel and blends from more than a dozen distributors across the United States.

23% of their power generation squandered — to rebury carbon we mined in the first place…

Saskatchewan Plans C$1.4 Bln Carbon Capture Project

CALGARY - Saskatchewan will launch a C$1.4 billion refit of a coal-fired power plant to add carbon-capture equipment, the government of the Canadian province said Wednesday after the federal government committed C$240 million to the project in its latest budget.

Big Oil on Clean Energy: More Mandates (and Subsidies), Please

Posted by Jeffrey Ball

There’s new evidence the oil industry is getting juiced about “clean energy”: It’s asking the federal government for more mandates and subsidies to make it fly.

A new report from Cambridge Energy Research Associates lays out a bullish stance on everything from renewable energy to carbon capture and storage.

BP Sees No Gain From Green Energy, More Oil To Flow

LONDON - BP Plc’s Chief Executive said the oil giant’s shares have received little, if any, uplift from its investments in renewable energy but told investors the company’s strong base of hydrocarbons would underpin growth for years to come.

US House Okay’s Bill To Tax Big Oil, Help Renewables

WASHINGTON - The US House of Representatives Wednesday voted to repeal $18 billion in tax breaks for big oil companies to help pay for developing renewable energy sources.

The bill, which the White House has threatened to veto on grounds that it unfairly targets the oil industry, would extend tax credits for producing energy from wind, solar, geothermal, cellulosic ethanol, biofuels and other renewable sources.

Students on Spring Break to Put Heat on ‘King Coal’
By Randy Hall Staff Writer/Editor
February 27, 2008

( - Instead of partying on the beach this Spring Break, more than 100 college students will spend their vacations in Ohio and Virginia experiencing first-hand "the coal industry’s environmental and social degradation," a coalition of energy activists announced on Tuesday.

Plug-in cars could actually increase air pollution
By James R. Healey, USA TODAY

The expected introduction of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could cut U.S. gasoline use but could increase deadly air pollution in some areas, two reports say.

That’s because a plug-in’s lower tailpipe emissions may be offset by smokestack emissions from the utility generating plants supplying electricity to recharge the big batteries that allow plug-ins to run up to 40 miles without kicking on their gasoline engines.

Bulgaria Prefers Nuclear To Wind, Solar Power – Economy Minister

SOFIA - Bulgaria should push ahead with plans to build a new nuclear power plant rather than opt for wind and solar power to solve its energy problems, the economy and energy minister said on Wednesday.

Petar Dimitrov told a conference estimates showed that his Balkan country’s wind power potential was equal to the capacity of 2,000 megawatts of its Kozloduy nuclear power plant, which supplies about 33 percent of Bulgaria’s power.

Scientists pour cold water on EU bird policy

New research from the University of Exeter in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin published in the journal Science (22 February 2008) questions claims that EU conservation policy has been successful in protecting endangered birds.

Earlier plantings underlie yield gains in northern corn belt

U.S. farmers plant corn much earlier today than ever before and it seems to be paying off, at least in the north. Earlier plantings could account for up to half of the yield gains seen in some parts of the northern Corn Belt since the late 1970s, a new study has found.

Midwest corn-growers produce three times more corn today than they did a half-century ago.

High Food Prices Push China Towards GMO – Scientist - BEIJING - Rising food prices and concerns over grains security have caused a shift in Chinese regulators' attitude towards genetically modified crops, a prominent Chinese researcher and GMO advocate said on Wednesday.

More than two-thirds of Chinese cotton fields are planted with biotech cotton, but the government has stalled on approving biotech rice to be grown commercially despite expectations it would get the go-ahead a few years ago.

However, soaring grains and food prices in 2007, and a relentless decline in arable farm land, may change the approach of bureaucrats who prize the nation's ability to stay self-sufficient in grains.

"I feel that over the next few years, things will move more quickly than in the last few years," said Huang Jikun, director for the centre for Chinese agricultural policy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"The government slogan has now changed to 'regularise oversight' from 'toughen oversight', and as we all know, 'toughen oversight' basically meant 'block it'."

Huang said it was impossible to predict when China might approve biotech rice, and added that work on soy and wheat was less advanced.

"They have changed their ideas because they see the usefulness of technology for maintaining grains security, raising rural incomes and other policy goals," he told reporters.

"High food prices are influencing government considerations. Of course, they want technology that can help lower food prices."

China is also trying to develop its own strains of genetically modified corn, but Huang said work was progressing slowly, adding that he hoped the nation would establish co-operations with overseas institutions to speed research. (Reuters)

Gene that controls ozone resistance of plants could lead to drought-resistant crops - Biologists at the University of California, San Diego, working with collaborators at the University of Helsinki in Finland and two other European institutions, have elucidated the mechanism of a plant gene that controls the amount of atmospheric ozone entering a plant’s leaves.

Their finding helps explain why rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may not necessarily lead to greater photosynthetic activity and carbon sequestration by plants as atmospheric ozone pollutants increase. And it provides a new tool for geneticists to design plants with an ability to resist droughts by regulating the opening and closing of their stomata—the tiny breathing pores in leaves through which gases and water vapor flow during photosynthesis and respiration.

“Droughts, elevated ozone levels and other environmental stresses can impact crop yields,” said Jean Chin, who oversees membrane protein grants at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the research. “This work gives us a clearer picture of how plants respond to these kinds of stresses and could lead to new ways to increase their resistance.” (University of California - San Diego)

Artificial spider silk research could improve body armor, parachutes   
by Maria Callier
Air Force Office of Scientific Research Public Affairs

2/27/2008 - ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force Office of Scientific Research is supporting a team from the University of Wyoming that is investigating spider silk proteins to create biomaterials for military purposes.

Producing useful quantities of natural spider silk has proven unrealistic because of challenges inherent in managing large numbers of small spiders which are typically cannibalistic.

February 27, 2008

Bacterial ‘battle for survival’ leads to new antibiotic

MIT biologists have provoked soil-dwelling bacteria into producing a new type of antibiotic by pitting them against another strain of bacteria in a battle for survival.

The antibiotic holds promise for treatment of Helicobacter pylori, which causes stomach ulcers in humans. Also, figuring out the still murky explanation for how the new antibiotic was produced could help scientists develop strategies for finding other new antibiotics.

Disney for Hillary or Shareholders?

Is Disney not selling DVDs of the hit ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" because CEO Bob Iger is a Hillary-for-President supporter?

Climate change affecting fish stocks - JOHANNESBURG, 26 February 2008 - Climate change is emerging as the latest threat to the world's fast declining fish stocks, which could affect millions of people who depend on the oceans for food and income, says a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The report, In Dead Water, says climate change may slow down the global flow of ocean currents, which flush and clean the continental shelves and are critical to maintaining water quality, nutrient cycling and the life-cycle patterns of fish and other marine life in more than 75 percent of the world's fishing grounds.

"In developed countries, the degradation of traditional fishing grounds will have commercial effects on the fishing industry sector and fleets," said Stefan Hain of UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre. "The effects in developing countries and SIDS [Small Island Developing States] will be more direct, i.e. on coastal communities and populations, which depend on marine resources for sustenance and livelihoods." (IRIN)

Blowing in the Wind: Arctic Plants Move Fast as Climate Changes

Arctic plants have retreated and advanced in their colonization of fertile regions with great speed and over vast distances as the climate changes

Influence Of Water Vapor Trends On Multi-Decadal Surface Temperature Trends - Part IV From Our JGR Paper - This weblog continues the discussion of the issues that we raised in our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

Weblogs on the first three sections of our JGR paper have already appeared (see, see see, and see), along with an excellent follow up on the first section by Lucia Liljegren (see February 18, 2008 Guest weblog).

The current weblog discusses the role of surface air water vapor trends in terms of how surface air temperatures trends, used to diagnose global warming and cooling, can be misinterpreted. As we write in our paper

“Near-surface air temperature trends are also significantly influenced by trends in surface air absolute humidity over the same time period since even with the same amount of heat within the near-surface air, the heat would be distributed differently between sensible and latent heat of the air. This issue has not been investigated in the assessment of multidecadal surface air temperature trends…….Ignoring concurrent trends in surface air absolute humidity therefore introduces a bias in the analysis of surface air temperature trends.” (Climate Science)

Observed Climate Change in North Carolina
Written by Robert Ferguson, SPPI  
Tuesday, 26 February 2008

 There is no observational evidence of unusual long-term climate changes in North Carolina. No emissions reductions by North Carolina will have any detectable regional or global effect whatsoever on climate change.

Annual Temperature: Averaged across the state of North Carolina, there has been no long-term trend in the state’s annual temperature history since 1895, the year when well-compiled temperature records first become available from the National Climatic Data Center (located in Asheville).

Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling

Yes, but… while the below piece is quite correct it does not necessarily follow that the current La Niña-driven cooling will continue, that it absolves enhanced greenhouse of warming the planet long-term or prove that the IPCC forcing estimates are incorrect (you couldn’t convince warming advocates of that in an ice age anyway). What this does is put the Earth far below predicted warming rates and means Earth will now have to warm at a fantastic pace to achieve the warming modelers insist must be anticipated.


Don Willmott , Forecast Earth Correspondent

Ah, YouTube, how did I ever entertain myself before you came into my life? This week I was browsing around the video site searching on various environment-related terms when I came across what turns out to be a favorite clip of the Al Gore "Inconvenient Truth" crowd.

ANALYSIS - Rising Energy Prices Create Global Climate Conundrum

LONDON - The price of carbon is rising, which is what governments wanted in the fight against global warming, but now it is here no one is quite so sure anymore.

Energy prices have risen sharply in recent months, driving up domestic gas and electricity prices, an effect governments had said would help promote increased energy efficiency and therefore reduce emissions of climate warming carbon gases.

Global-Warming Authoritarianism

By Keith Lockitch

Irvine, CA–Many people are calling for drastic political action to cope with climate change. But the authors of a new book, The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, go much further, claiming that global warming can be effectively dealt with only by "an authoritarian form of government."

In an article promoting the book, co-author David Shearman praises China’s recent ban on plastic shopping bags, expressing special admiration for its authoritarian quality.

China turns up the heat
Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun
February 27, 2008 12:00am

WHAT a sweet gesture from Trinity Grammar - to pull out its airconditioners and make its students sweat for the planet.

But the big question now with all such useless gestures to "save" us from global warming is: Are the Chinese watching? Are they remotely impressed by our suffering?

Or isn’t it time we realised - after reading last week’s Garnaut report - that China is now big enough to decide the future of the planet on its own, regardless of how many whites go red?

A taste of things to come

Rhetoric is one thing but – to no one’s surprise – economic reality is another. According to Reuters (via The Guardian), both Germany and France are demurring at the potential cost of dealing with global warning.

The governments of both have been lobbying their central government in Brussels, telling the commission that its plans to cut industrial greenhouse gas emissions risk sacrificing European jobs.

Voyage to Southern Ocean aims to study air-sea fluxes of greenhouse gases

Scientists will embark this week from Punta Arenas, Chile, on the tip of South America, to spend 42 days amid the high winds and waves of the Southern Ocean. Here they hope to make groundbreaking measurements to explain how huge fluxes of climate-affecting gases move between atmosphere and sea, and vice-versa.

Sailors want sponsors for perpetual sailing holiday

Innovative EARTH-SHIP Program Aims to Unite the World to Address Climate Change
¶ — Ships to Sail from Port to Port, Raising Awareness Regarding Global Warming Using Live Video Conferencing
¶ — Unique Tax Advantages and Other Commercial Benefits Expected to Attract Support from Both Private and Corporate
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Earth Ship Limited today announced the launch of its unique new "people-to-people" EARTH-SHIP(TM) program, an educational endeavor designed to focus the world’s attention on the climate change resulting from global warming.

UN Panel Mulls Carbon Rule Tweak To Curb Profits

LONDON - A UN panel which supervises trade in carbon offsets under the Kyoto Protocol is probing tweaks to the rules as there is evidence of attempts to make excessive profits, its vice-chair Lex de Jonge said.

Rich countries can meet their binding caps on greenhouse gas emissions by funding emissions cuts in developing countries under the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism (CDM) through a currency of carbon offsets.

From CO2 Science:
Down, but not Out!

A week ago we experienced a terrorist-like Denial of Service Attack on our website that rendered it inaccessible to patrons. Unfortunately, the company that managed our website was unable to stop the attack, and we had to make the decision to host our website elsewhere. Moving our website to another server is not a simple task and must take place in stages. For now, only the current weekly issue of CO2 Science will be accessible, followed by a gradual return to full website access and functionality in the coming days and weeks.

Global Warming Begets Species-Saving Rapid Evolutionary Changes in Many Plants and Animals: The title says it all ... and a lot of scientific references back it up.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Pigmy Basin, Northern Gulf of Mexico. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Rainfall (Trends - Regional: Europe, Northern): Do real-world data from Northern Europe provide any support for climate-alarmist claims of impending precipitation changes outside the bounds of normal variability?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Garden Tomato, Marine Dinoflagellate, Marine Raphidophyte, and Rice.

Journal Reviews:
Northern Patagonian Icefield Glaciers: What do we learn from the nature of their post-Little Ice Age retreat?

Decadal Temperature Variations at Lake Qinghai on the Tibetan Plateau: What do they imply about 20th-century global warming?

Dissolved Organic Carbon in Northern European and North American Surface Waters: How did its concentration change between 1990 and 2004? And, of perhaps even greater significance, why?

Carbon Sequestration in Semi-Arid Grasslands: How will it likely be influenced by the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content?

Heavy-Metal (Copper) Contamination of Rice: How is it impacted by atmospheric CO2 enrichment?

Lincoln, VATemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Lincoln, VA. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Lincoln's mean annual temperature has cooled by 2.58 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here!

Conference Announcement:
2008 International Conference on Climate Change: An international conference on climate change will take place on March 2-4, 2008 in New York City, calling attention to widespread dissent to the alleged “consensus” that modern warming is primarily man-made and is a crisis. Read more about the conference by clicking on the link above. (

Sounds like a lot of improper pressure being brought to bear

Staff Warned US EPA Head On California CO2 Waiver Rule

WASHINGTON - Staff of the Environmental Protection Agency warned the agency’s head that he might have to resign if he blocked attempts by California to set first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars, according to internal agency documents released by Congress Tuesday.

On Dec. 19, 2007, the EPA rejected California’s bid for a waiver from US law that would allow it to impose emissions restrictions on heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, which account for about 30 percent of the US total.

Analysis: U.S. doles out cash for new fuel
Published: Feb. 26, 2008 at 2:42 PM
UPI Correspondent
THE DALLES, Ore., Feb. 26 (UPI) — Recent studies have raised concerns over ethanol’s sustainability, but industry representatives say they’re closer than ever to getting more environmentally friendly fuels on the market, thanks to some government investments.

At the end of January, Department of Energy officials announced $114 million in grants over the next four years for four small-scale biorefineries.

‘Green’ rice on the menu
Jim Downing
McClatchy Newspapers
Feb. 26, 2008 10:38 AM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The war on global warming has entrepreneurs racing to find new ways to trim the carbon emissions linked to everything from wine to washing machines.

But Eric Rey was the first to see the promise of low-emissions rice.

In Davis, Calif., Rey’s Arcadia Biosciences is crafting genetically modified rice that thrives on just half the typical dose of nitrogen fertilizer - a source of greenhouse emissions on a par with all the world’s passenger vehicles.

February 26, 2008

Malaria Can Be Beaten In Many Places, Map Shows

LONDON - Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, yet in many parts of the world the disease is hanging on by a thread and could be wiped out by concerted action, researchers said on Tuesday.

The first new global malaria map in 40 years shows nearly half the 2.37 billion people at risk from the mosquito-borne killer live in areas where the chance of actually catching the disease is less than 0.01 percent a year.

Simon Hay of the University of Oxford said he was "very surprised" by the finding, which suggests swathes of Latin America and Asia -- and even parts of Africa -- face a significantly lower risk than previously thought.

"The situation isn't quite as dire for large parts of the planet as people had imagined and, with some concerted effort, we could make very big inroads with the tools that we've got," he said in an interview.

Simply using insecticide-treated bed nets more extensively could be enough to stamp out malaria in regions inhabited by almost 1 billion people.

"If mosquitoes don't get enough chances to bite, the transmission cycle wanes and disappears. In these very low transmission areas, you just need to push the disease a little bit and it should collapse," he said.

Eliminating malaria in marginal areas would provide a major boost to campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa, the region worst hit by the disease, where most of the world's more than 1 million malaria deaths occur each year.

Africa is home to almost all the places in the world where prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite, is above 50 percent. Yet even in Africa, significant areas are more amenable to control than previously thought.

Hay and colleagues worked with the Kenya Medical Research Institute on the Malaria Atlas Project, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust medical charity. Their findings were published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

They compiled their map over two years by analysing nationally reported malaria statistics, medical intelligence reports, climate variations, travel advisories and surveys of thousands of communities across 87 countries.

The research can be seen online at (Reuters)

Only Africans Can Solve Africa’s Problems
By WALTER E. WILLIAMS, Investor’s Business Daily | Posted Monday, February 25, 2008 4:30 PM PT

President Bush’s trip to Africa and promise of increased foreign aid will do little or nothing to solve the ongoing tragedy in most places on the south-of-Sahara African continent.

Prozac, used by 40m people, does not work say scientists

Analysis of unseen trials and other data concludes it is no better than placebo
Sarah Boseley, health editor
The Guardian, Tuesday February 26 2008

Prozac, the bestselling antidepressant taken by 40 million people worldwide, does not work and nor do similar drugs in the same class, according to a major review released today.

Interesting data dredge - Subjects ranged roughly ± 50% compared with "controls" so eventually a grouping garners a low count. (Never mind the high count, it merely conflicts with a good story.) And the population average? It’s, um… average.

Super reds and super foods — Will more antioxidant flavonoid foods make us healthier?

Have you caught the red craze yet? Every weekend, local radio stations run hours of shows describing the miraculous health benefits of concentrated essences of nature’s most colorful fruits and vegetables. Super berries, red cherry concentrates, super reds, and super berry blends — there are countless products to choose from. (Junkfood Science)

Expert urges joint approach on obesity and climate change
Innovations Report, 25.02.2008

Redesigning cities as “human habitats” will help solve the dual crises posed by the obesity epidemic and global warming, according to a leading public health expert.

The Oxford Health Alliance summit in Sydney has been told that urban environments and workplaces must be designed to encourage physical activity in order to combat obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The summit Building a Healthy Future: Chronic Disease and our Environment has brought together a unique alliance of activists to tackle the explosion of preventable chronic diseases which are responsible for nearly 60-per cent of the worlds deaths.

Prof Tony Capon, Project Director for the Oxford Health Alliance’s Environmental Design for Prevention Initiative said, “We need to build the physical activity back into our lives and its not simply about bike paths, it’s about developing an urban habitat that enables people to live healthy lives: ensuring that people can meet most of their daily needs within walking and cycling distance of where they live.”

Insufficient physical activity is a risk factor in many chronic diseases and is estimated to cause 1.9 million deaths worldwide each year.

Cosmic rays and climate of the Earth: possible connection - Abstract: Despite much evidence relating climatic changes on Earth to solar variability, a physical mechanism responsible for this is still poorly known. A possible link connecting solar activity and climate variations is related to cosmic rays and the physical-chemical changes they produce in the atmosphere. Here we review experimental evidence and theoretical grounds for this relation. The cosmic ray – climate link seems to be a plausible climate driver which effectively operates on different time scales, but its exact mechanism and relative importance still remain open questions. (I.G. Usoskin, G.A. Kovaltsov, C. R. Geoscience (2007).)

Over 500 USHCN Stations Now Surveyed

The project continues to move forward, even in these cold and snowy winter months. I’m pleased to announce that we have just passed the 500 mark for surveyed stations. Now with 41.1% of the network surveyed comprising 502 stations surveyed so far, that leaves 719 to go out of 1221 stations nationwide. (Watts Up With That?)


Put your hands in the air and step a-WAY from the console!

What is it with virtual worlders? They can’t get the PlayStation® simulated climates within 20-50 W/m2 of reality yet they absolutely believe.

Principal Model Deficiencies - ModelE [2006] compares the atmospheric model climatology with observations. Model shortcomings include ~25% regional deficiency of summer stratus cloud cover off the west coast of the continents with resulting excessive absorption of solar radiation by as much as 50 W/m2, deficiency in absorbed solar radiation and net radiation over other tropical regions by typically 20 W/m2, sea level pressure too high by 4-8 hPa in the winter in the Arctic and 2-4 hPa too low in all seasons in the tropics, ~20% deficiency of rainfall over the Amazon basin, ~25% deficiency in summer cloud cover in the western United States and central Asia with a corresponding ~5°C excessive summer warmth in these regions… (Climate simulations for 1880-2003 with GISS modelE. Clim. Dynam., 29, 661-696, doi:10.1007/s00382-007-0255-8, Print version (24Mb) Draft version (7Mb)

In the real world the troposphere shows no CO2-correlated trend. Should we now trust modelers and their ’solutions’ to a problem that cannot be seen?

Proof our kids are being indoctrinated — by Nickelodeon!

‘Greenagers’ Want Climate Change Action
Updated:10:27, Monday February 25, 2008

British children, well versed in the effects of climate change, are putting pressure on older generations to act now to halt environmental decline.
Children fear for globe’s future

New research shows 95% of children aged between 4 and 15 were ‘concerned’ by global warming, with more than half ‘very concerned’.

And three out of four respondents believed they were more fluent on the subject than their parents.

The eco-conscious youngsters, dubbed ‘Greenagers’, now want to put more pressure on older generations to take a lead in environmental decision-making.

Some 70% of those polled believed climate change is something that will affect them in their lifetime.

Oh boy… It’s time for a body count - We are nowhere near quantifying any human contribution to climate change — good or bad — and this fool wants to hang a body count on it. Oddly enough it’s only a matter of days since the NHS study concluded "global warming" would actually save lives.

More on the Hurricane Hysteria

Our hurricane dialog never seems to end, and hardly a week goes by without another article appearing in a major journal on the subject of global warming and hurricane activity. In recent weeks, two more major articles have been published adding to the overwhelming evidence that the hurricane – global warming link cannot be supported on theoretical or empirical grounds.

Global warming to take a cold shower in New York next week.

The Carbon Sense Coalition

The Carbon Sense Coalition (“Carbon Sense”) based in Australia is supporting an International Conference on the Science of Global Warming in New York next week (2-4th March 2008).

This conference, sponsored by The Heartland Institute of Chicago, is co-sponsored by 19 other organisations all over the world including the Carbon Sense Coalition.

The Conference will feature internationally recognised speakers from Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Canada and Europe.

Apparently the international dateline caused some difficulty for people accessing this yesterday (one of the quirks of posting from the land down-under), it should be fine now: Why we aren’t worried about ‘enhanced greenhouse’

One of the most frequent queries I receive as editor at is from people who are convinced we are in the midst of a climate crisis. In short these people want to know why we aren’t exercised about the planet being toasted and life on Earth being snuffed. Let me see if I can show you.

Tracking your carbon footprint

Carbon Hero, a personal carbon calculator, consists of a sensor (left) which detects movements by use of satellite navigation data. The carbon footprint is then displayed on a mobile phone (right). Credits:

An innovation called Carbon Hero may help reduce global warming by making people more aware of their carbon footprint. Regional prize winner in the 2007 European Satellite Navigation Competition, sponsored by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme, the device uses satellite navigation technology to track journeys.

Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age

Lorne Gunter,  National Post 
Published: Monday, February 25, 2008

Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.

The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February.

CEI Video Asks: Where’s the Warming, Al?

CEI’s new online video spot, Where’s the Warming?, challenges global warming alarmists to justify their calls for restrictions on energy use. Carbon dioxide from man’s energy use has continued to increase in the atmosphere in recent years, but recent studies show that average global temperatures have not.

The two-minute video, which can be viewed on YouTube, pays tribute to the famous “Where’s the Beef?” ads of two decades ago.  It contrasts clips from Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, with actual temperature data.

The basic alarmist contention is that we must restrict affordable energy use because CO2 is the most important determinant of global temperatures.  But this year’s unexpectedly cold winter and, more importantly, the temperature trends of the last few years tell a different story.  There has been practically no global warming in the last five years or more.

Former RNC head goes ‘Benedict Arnold’ on climate

Former Republican National Committee chairman — and the man who reportedly advised President Bush in early 2001 not to regulate carbon dioxide — has switched sides and is now being paid to lobby for greenhouse gas regulation on behalf of the eco-activist group Environmental Defense.

According to Greenwire’s John Fialka (Feb. 21), ED board member and hedge fund tycoon Julian Robertson is putting up the cash to hire DC lobbying powerhouse Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Mehlman and former Democratic congressman Vic Fazio will lead Akin Gump’s efforts. "Their first mission is to find the right political formula to attract the 60 votes necessary to overcome a likely filibuster threat [of climate legislation] in the Senate," reported Fialka.

In addition to advising Mr. Bush against CO2 regulation, during the 2004 presidential contest, Mehlman told the Toledo Blade (Aug. 31, 2004) that, "If the U.S. had ratified the Kyoto protocol to reduce ‘global warming’ as Mr. Kerry advocated, the U.S. would have lost 1.4 million industrial jobs."

The one thing that can be said for Benedict Arnold — as opposed to Mehlman – is that at least Arnold didn’t go traitor for the cash.

Lobbyists… yuck.

UN Climate Head: US Stand a `nonstarter’
(AP) NEW YORK - The U.N. climate chief on Monday welcomed statements by Bush administration officials that the United States would accept a binding international commitment to reduce global-warming gases. But he said their insistence that China and other developing nations do the same "is not realistic."

"If it’s a quid pro quo, then it’s a nonstarter," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the Bonn-based U.N.

Next President Better Than Bush on Climate - Barroso

OSLO - Any of the top three US presidential hopefuls would be better than President George W. Bush at combating climate change, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Monday.

"The trend is on the right side, but there is a lot of work to do," Barroso said of the outlook for US policy on fighting global warming during a seminar on climate change and energy security in the Norwegian capital.

France, Germany Warn EU Climate Plan Risks Jobs

BRUSSELS - Brussels risks sacrificing European jobs with its plans to cut industrial greenhouse gas emissions, the euro zone’s big two economies France and Germany said on Monday.

Europe should lead by example but must not "change the competitiveness of our economy and our companies" by adopting tougher pollution measures than in other parts of the world," said Herve Novelli, France’s junior minister for industry.

Well duh! Australia says carbon emissions keep growing
Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:10am GMT
By James Grubel

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia’s carbon emissions would continue to grow due to a heavy reliance on coal for electricity, a government report said on Monday, although the country would meet its Kyoto emissions targets by 2012.

‘Endangered’ Polar Bear Is Trotted Out As The Extremists’ Latest Trojan Horse

By DAMIEN SCHIFF, Investor’s Business Daily | Posted Monday, February 25, 2008 4:30 PM PT

With the federal government’s decision on whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act expected at any moment, it seems appropriate to step back and assess what the larger consequences of a listing would be for the American people.

David Suzuki, voodoo economist

I wonder if he thinks people will actually believe the very worst form of regressive taxation — a tax on energy — will put money in their pockets?

Green Jobs?

“If the US economy moves into recession this year, world economic growth could slow to just 1.6 percent in 2008,” according to a recent United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs policy brief, an almost 50% percent decrease. 

Conversely, today in our global economy, the trickle-down theory correctly predicts that the poorest person’s lot in the developing countries would be improved by our increasing GDP.

Finally, an Honest Energy Bill

A front page story in the Washington Times by Patrice Hill reports that Americans are currently most worried by high energy prices.  They should be.  So far, the 110th Congress has passed and President Bush has signed an anti-energy bill, H. R. 6, that will raise gasoline, auto, food, and appliance prices.  And the House and Senate are actively considering other bills that will increase gas and electricity prices a whole lot more.

Another duh! Tories ditch green taxes
Jonathan Oliver, Sunday Times

DAVID CAMERON is to abandon plans for “green” taxes amid fears of a backlash from voters unhappy about having to pay for climate change.

A leaked policy paper commissioned by the Tory leader warns that action on the environment is too often seen in terms of “consumer sacrifice”.

China’s carbon dragon
Growing China’s economy while cutting planet-warming emissions is a huge challenge.

Try this statistic on for size: If China’s economy continues to grow at its current pace, and the Asian giant doesn’t cut its rate of energy use, by 2030 it could be emitting as much carbon into the atmosphere as the entire world does today.

And here’s another: As you read this, China is bringing on line coal-fired power plants – major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions – at the mind-boggling rate of two per week.

Don’t they have snipers in the UK?

From the comments with this piece it doesn’t look like too may sympathize with greenpeas :D

Environmentalists climb on Heathrow jet in airport protest: officials   

AFP, Feb 25 10:23 AM US/Eastern

Four activists from environmental campaigners Greenpeace breached security at London Heathrow to stage a protest on top of a jet against the airport’s planned expansion, the group said Monday.

The activists climbed on top of a British Airways Boeing 777 plane which had just landed from Manchester at around 0945 GMT and unfurled a huge banner across the tailfin reading: "Climate Emergency — No Third Runway".

Biofuels will not feed the hungry

Between 1990 and 2005 the proportion of children under five who were underweight declined by one fifth. But that progress is now under threat. Rising food prices mean that malnutrition and starvation once again threaten many of those at the bottom of the world’s economic ladder. (Financial Times)

Feed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits
Huge budget deficit means millions more face starvation
Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
The Guardian, Tuesday February 26 2008

The United Nations warned yesterday that it no longer has enough money to keep global malnutrition at bay this year in the face of a dramatic upward surge in world commodity prices, which have created a "new face of hunger".

Promised green revolution still seems a long way off
James Randerson, science correspondent
The Guardian, Tuesday February 26 2008

Climate change will have a profound impact on agriculture in the coming decades, either directly or indirectly.

An increase in extreme weather will lead to poor harvests - a trend that has already started - and demand for biofuel will take land away from food production.

Scientists unveil draft sequence of corn genome - A team of scientists led by Washington University in St. Louis has begun to unlock the genetic secrets of corn, a crop vital to U.S. agriculture. The researchers have completed a working draft of the corn genome, an accomplishment that should accelerate efforts to develop better crop varieties to meet society's growing demands for food, livestock feed and fuel.

The genetic blueprint will be announced on Thursday, Feb. 28, by the project's leader, Richard K. Wilson, Ph.D., director of Washington University's Genome Sequencing Center, at the 50th Annual Maize Genetics Conference in Washington, D.C.

"This first draft of the genome sequence is exciting because it's the first comprehensive glimpse at the blueprint for the corn plant," Wilson says. "Scientists now will be able to accurately and efficiently probe the corn genome to find ways to improve breeding and subsequently increase crop yields and resistance to drought and disease." (Washington University in St. Louis)

South Korea import of GMO corn first for food use - SEOUL - South Korea's planned import of 50,000 tons of U.S. genetically modified corn (GMO) would be its first intended for human food use, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.

"This would be the first time for South Korea to import GMO for food instead of animal feed," a ministry official told Reuters.

Earlier, the South Korean association for starch and sugar said that food manufacturers planned to import the corn in May.

Starch and sweeteners produced from the GMO corn could hit local stores as early as May, it said.

The four biggest makers of corn products in South Korea -- Daesung, Doosan Corn Products Korea, Samyang Genex and Shindongbang CP -- have signed a joint contract for the purchase.

The companies supply nearly 90 percent of corn starch and sugar consumed in the country.

An agriculture trade source said surging international prices for corn had forced food manufacturers for the first time to consider GMO grain. (Reuters)

GM crops hold key to food security: Expert

MUMBAI: India, which recorded the fastest growth in genetically modified (GM) crop adoption globally, could attain food self sufficiency once it allows commercialisation of GM crops, the head of a global research body said on Monday. “India can become self sufficient in food production by use of biotechnology in food crops,” Clive James, chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, said. (Economic Times)

February 25, 2008

Forget Fairtrade - only free trade can help poor
By Janet Daley, London Daily Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 25/02/2008

As you glide along the supermarket aisle past the smartly packaged Fairtrade coffee and guiltily slip the cheaper arabica into your trolley instead, you may ask yourself how much good your overpriced purchase of the Fairtrade stuff would have done anyway.

Well, now you know.

Why we aren’t worried about ‘enhanced greenhouse’ - One of the most frequent queries I receive as editor at is from people who are convinced we are in the midst of a climate crisis. In short these people want to know why we aren’t exercised about the planet being toasted and life on Earth being snuffed. Let me see if I can show you.

Firstly, a statement of the supposed problem:

Greenhouse gases are emitted by human activity, particularly from fossil fuel consumption and some of these gases are accumulating in the atmosphere.

This increase could enhance the greenhouse effect and further warm the Earth.

The IPCC provides a simplified formula for calculating this ‘excess’ greenhouse warming from various greenhouse gases.

Calculated for 380ppmv (the 2006 estimate) this is approximately 1.63 Watts per square meter.

Total net increase in radiative forcing is roughly equivalent to that from increased carbon dioxide:

As far as I’m aware there is nothing particularly contentious about the above.

Similarly, it should cause no disturbance to state that 1 Watt is 1 Joule.second, that accounting for leap years there are 365.25×24x60×60 = 31,557,600 seconds in a year and that we can use these and the one dimensional atmospheric heating model to calculate how much we expect the atmosphere to warm over one year with the above ‘excess’ forcing.

If you aren’t familiar with that model it’s simply the consideration of a vertical column of the atmosphere 1 meter square.

Read more & discuss on the blog.

The Oceans’ Role in Seasonal and Longer Term Climate

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

Although, I believe the sun is likely the primary driver for the changes to global climate, the oceans may provide the mechanisms for the changes on year-to-year to multidecadal time scales. In a prior analysis, we had shown how the sun and oceans correlated better with US temperature changes than carbon dioxide over the last century. The oceans had the strongest correlation.

Is There Agreement Amongst Climate Scientists on the IPCC AR4 WG1? - One of the readers of Climate Science (Fergus Brown), in response to the questions that have been raised by the weblog (and elsewhere)  wanted to poll the climate community to ascertain their views on the IPCC WG1 report.  The article that we completed on this subject, under his leadership, is given in its entirety later in this weblog.  However, a brief history as to why we are publishing as a weblog and not in another venue is discussed below.

After the survey was completed last summer and the article written, it was submitted to the AGU publication EOS as a “Forum piece. (Climate Science)

Carbon Dioxide Versus Temperature

Posted by Paul Biggs on the Jennifer Marohasy Blog

According to Lance Endersbee:

The CO2 levels in the atmosphere are damped by the oceans. The oceans are a huge source and sink for volatile gases. The surface area of the oceans is vast in relation to the depth of the oceans and the atmosphere. Thus we are dealing with a surface phenomenon.

See larger graph here.

The above chart is an actual experience curve relating actual CO2 levels with actual global average sea surface temperatures.

Chilling Effect: Global warmists try to stifle debate.
John Fund, Wall Street Journal
February 25, 2008

John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton all promise bold action on climate change . All have endorsed a form of cap-and-trade system that would severely limit future carbon emissions. The Democratic Congress is champing at the bit to act. So too is the Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of companies led by General Electric and Duke Energy.

You’d think this would be a rich time for debate on the issue of climate change.

Mount Kilimanjaro: On Africa’s roof, still crowned with snow - Reader Nat Changsnit forwards this item. Now, we do not endorse the view Kilimanjaro is some sort of global temperature sentinel but do think it worthwhile presenting these items so that people can see ongoing change and variability. Just for fun, here’s the local snow forecast.

Antarctic Glaciers Going To Sea At Faster Rate
February 24, 2008 1:41 p.m. EST
Jupiter Kalambakal - AHN News Writer

London, England (AHN)– British explorers in West Antarctica reported glacier movement in the region has picked up by a startling seven percent this season, a development, they said, which could lead to a significant rise in sea level.

David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey said the team found new evidence from group of glaciers in West Antarctica which cover an area the size of Texas.

The Coming of a New Ice Age

CHICAGO — Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the day, the real danger facing humanity is not global warming, but more likely the coming of a new Ice Age. 

What we live in now is known as an interglacial, a relatively brief period between long ice ages.  Unfortunately for us, most interglacial periods last only about ten thousand years, and that is how long it has been since the last Ice Age ended.  

How much longer do we have before the ice begins to spread across the Earth’s surface?  Less than a hundred years or several hundred?  We simply don’t know.

Even if all the temperature increase over the last century is attributable to human activities, the rise has been relatively modest one of a little over one degree Fahrenheit — an increase well within natural variations over the last few thousand years. 

While an enduring temperature rise of the same size over the next century would cause humanity to make some changes, it would undoubtedly be within our ability to adapt. 

Entering a new ice age, however, would be catastrophic for the continuation of modern civilization. (Winingreen)

Climate Change: The Sun’s role - The sun’s role in the earth’s recent warming remains controversial even though there is a good deal of evidence to support the thesis that solar variations are a very significant factor in driving climate change both currently and in the past. This précis lays out the background and data needed to understand the basic scientific argument behind the contention that variations in solar output have a significant impact on current changes in climate.

The Socialist assault on Capitalism and Consumerism rages on

Here’s a great example of their dream of wealth redistribution (or destruction, which is the practical result). I wonder why the American culture seems so alone in the societal aim to create wealth. Their social idiom, the aim to "make a dollar" differs so much from the aims of Socialist-dominated societies, who seem to consider "wealth" to be some preordained, finite measure, which is theirs to distribute according to perceived equity.

Oh boy... Want to cut your carbon? Join our club

Social networks where guilty greens admit to carbon crimes and are punished for profligacy spread through UK
Tim Webb
The Observer, Sunday February 24 2008

Some have described them as the 21st century’s green equivalent of the Co-operative Movement. Others have likened them to the book club craze inspired by chat-show hosts Richard and Judy. Some bloggers have dismissed them as ‘green authoritarians’.

Britain, climate change leaders
Hesitation today in putting reductions into effect will have serious consequences tomorrow
Nicholas Stern, The Times

Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has seen. It requires large-scale and international action. By providing a strong policy framework to overcome this failure, governments can harness the tremendous power of markets to find effective, efficient, equitable and international responses to the challenge.

British Government Names Climate Committee Members - LONDON - The British government on Friday named the first five members of the climate change committee that will be created to monitor carbon cut progress when the Climate Change Bill becomes law later this year.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, who has already named Adair Turner to head the committee, said scientists Brian Hoskins and Robert May, technologist Jim Skea and economists Sam Fankhauser and Michael Grubb would make up the new committee.

The climate change bill will set a legally-binding target of a 60 percent cut from 1990 levels in national carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 with an interim target of 26-32 percent by 2020. It is expected to become law within three months.

"The committee will be a fundamental pillar of the way we tackle climate change from now until 2050," said Benn.

"The founding members of the committee are leading experts in their fields, and they will make a vital contribution in our efforts to build a low carbon Britain." (Reuters)

Responses On Pascal And Johnson

My recent posts on Pascal’s Wager (February 20) and Dr. Johnson’s Obstinate Rationality (February 19) have generated a splendid post bag, with some excellent comments. Thanks to all who have e-mailed. I particularly wanted to highlight the thoughtful and detailed response of  David, an attorney from Indiana, and a former ‘global warming’ believer, who now judges the ‘global warming’ hypothesis to be “simplistic, overly grandiose, and at least partially falsified.” David writes as follows (posted with permission): (Global Warming Politics)

Right, if maybe for the wrong reasons - While we agree geoengineering to remove an essential trace gas from the atmosphere is undesirable that’s because the alleged ‘problem’ is highly dubious and the consequence of reduced atmospheric CO2 or reduced incoming solar energy potentially disastrous.

Alaska's politicians feel threatened by polar bear: Fear that protecting it could hurt state's next big boom - ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The polar bear can be found in just one place in America - Alaska - and is perhaps as much a symbol of the state as, say, alligators are of Florida. So you might think Alaska's politicians would be pounding on doors in Washington to protect it.

You'd be wrong.

As the federal government decides whether to list polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, Gov. Sarah Palin and the state's Republican congressional delegation are solidly opposed to the idea.

Listing the polar bear would trigger a plan to protect the shrinking Arctic sea ice. And that, Alaskans fear, could dim chances for a proposed project that could bring the state's next big boom: a natural gas pipeline that would tap the North Slope's vast reserves.

"This is yet another example of how a law with the best of intentions has been subverted by the lawyers for the extreme environmental organizations and the liberal Democratic leadership," Rep. Don Young said.

Alaska's elected officials reject climate models that predict a complete summer meltdown of the polar ice cap by 2030 or sooner. They also dispute a U.S. Geological Survey study that predicts polar bears in Alaska could be wiped out by 2050.

Listing polar bears as threatened "would establish a dangerous precedent based on mathematical models instead of biological observations," Sen. Ted Stevens said Tuesday. (Associated Press)

AP writers sure are getting confused - "coal, a major culprit in global warming" "Culprit" implies blame for some bad act, dubious in itself. Then, to really make you wonder about the general knowledge of AP writers, "also a homegrown energy source" Uh-huh… sure an interesting turn of phrase for mined carbon, "home grown…". What next, a campaign to save the coal forests?

Ethanol policy threatens to starve the world
Exclusive: Ernest Istook explains how billions in subsidies drives up cost of food
By Ernest Istook

Drought. War. Poverty. 

These are leading causes of hunger, according to the United Nations.  Soon we may add another.


Across the globe, people are discovering it’s a new contributor to world hunger.  Led by the United States, governments are paying companies billions to make ethanol from corn and other crops.  The result: these crops are diverted from the food supply, creating artificial shortages and higher prices.

Even record harvests haven’t suppressed food prices.

Renewable energy from rubbish is possible
By Andrew Hamilton
Last Updated: 4:01pm GMT 20/02/2008

The European Commission recently set the ambitious target of producing 20 per cent of Europe’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Europe as a whole has achieved roughly a third of this already. The UK, on the other hand, is seriously lagging. At present it gets just 2 per cent of its electricity from renewables and the Government has said it is unlikely to reach more than 16 per cent at best by 2020.

A separate, and yet no less pressing concern is that of the mounting piles of rubbish in landfill sites scattered across the country. (London Telegraph)

Fivefold Dust Increase Chokes US West, Study Finds - WASHINGTON - In the 1930s, fierce dust storms created by drought conditions and farming techniques that led to soil erosion swept the prairies of the western United States, causing widespread ecological calamity.

But this so-called Dust Bowl period was just a small example of a huge increase in dustiness in the US West in the past 150 years due to human activities such as settlement, farming and livestock grazing, scientists said on Sunday.

The researchers drilled into lake-bed sediments in two small alpine lakes high in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado to measure the amount of dust deposited in the past 5,000 years. Dust blown into these lakes settles to the bottom and accumulates as sediment.

Starting in the period from about 1860 to 1900, the dust deposit rates surged at least fivefold over previous levels -- coinciding with a upswing in human activities that kicked up dust into the atmosphere, scientific dating techniques showed.

The researchers said droughts in the past 150 years were not sufficient to explain the increase in dust levels because there had been even worse droughts prior to that period.

"We have a lot of dust in the air in the western US," said Jason Neff of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who led the study.

"It's a reasonable question to ask -- whether or not that dust is related to human activity. This study pretty clearly shows that a large amount of the dust that's in the atmosphere is related to the legacy of land use and contemporary human uses of the landscape." (Reuters)

What farmers think about GM crops - Farmers are upbeat about genetically modified crops, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

A group at the Open University, led by Professor Andy Lane, has taken the first systematic look at what large-scale, commodity farmers – not those mainly involved in organic growing - think about genetically-modified crops. We know how consumers, governments and the food industry regard GM, but this is the first proper look at the attitudes of the people who would use GM crops.

Lane and his colleagues found that both farmers who have been involved in GM crop trials and those who have not, regard GM as a simple extension of previous plant breeding techniques, such as those which have produced today’s established crop types. They regard GM crops as an innovation which they would assess on its merits. Their real interest is in how GM crops would work in practice and whether they can contribute to the profitability of their farms. The research suggests that these farmers do not think that GM raises any issues of principle, or that it is a matter of right or wrong.

Professor Lane said: “New technology such as GM is attractive to farmers. They want to produce high-quality food profitably and they want to farm in an environmentally sensitive way. GM may allow them to reconcile this conundrum by doing both of these things at once.” (ESRC)

February 22, 2008

Looming Lightbulb Liability - The speeding freight train carrying toxic waste liability for makers, sellers and purchasers of compact fluorescent lightbulbs, or CFLs, was only faintly audible in the distance last spring when this column first warned of it. Now we’re beginning to see that environmentalist-stoked train speed toward its victims, whom President Bush and Congress just finished tying to the tracks. (Steven Milloy,

New ACCF Study Shows Economic Costs of Lieberman/Warner Bill

The American Council for Capital Formation
February 19, 2008

These studies analyze the economic costs of the Lieberman/Warner Climate Security Act (S.2191 or L/W
bill) at the state and household level for the 19 states and for the USA as a whole. The L/W bill would enforce a nationwide cap and trade program for the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The results presented here are preliminary and will be revised as new projections of baseline greenhouse gas emissions and recently passed legislation are incorporated into the analysis. In addition, the results for additional states will be posted in the next several weeks.

Contrasts: local propaganda versus global reality (Number Watch)

NOAA: Hurricane frequency and global warming NOT the cause of increased destruction

February 21st, 2008 by wattsupwiththat

This press release just came in from NOAA:

"A team of scientists have found that the  economic damages from hurricanes have increased  in the U.S. over time due to greater population, infrastructure, and wealth on the U.S.  coastlines, and not to any spike in the number or intensity of hurricanes."

“There  is nothing in the U.S. hurricane damage record  that indicates global warming has caused a  significant increase in destruction along our coasts.”

See more here including the press release and link to the paper:

Role Of Soils In The Climate System - An Important New Paper By Professor Dan Yaalon - There is a important new paper by Professor Dan Yaalon of the Institute of Earth Sciences at Hebrew University in the December 2007 issue of Bioscience titled ”Human-Induced Ecosystem and Landscape Processes Always Involve Soil Change.”

This paper discusses the role of human-induced soil changes and soil diversity.

The introduction reads

“Soil, the living skin of Earth derived from weathered rock materials and surficial biota, has been dubbed ‘Earth’s critical zone’ by the US National Research Council. It is an inseparable part of nature’s dynamic ecosystems, yet it is frequently disregarded when discussing landscape processes or resources and the consequences of land-use and land-cover change.”

The text concludes with the statement that “Soil changes cannot be disregarded any long in discussions of ecosystem changes and landscape processes.”

Since the ecosystem is a component of the climate system, this means that

”Soil changes cannot be disregarded in discussions of climate change.”

This perspective fits with the findings in

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp;

a report that was almost completely ignored by the 2007 IPCC WG1 Report. (Climate Science)

Cold Reality

For once, scientifically, the Daily Mail is onto something. As we know, its performance over the putative relationship between autism and the MMR jab was less than helpful, if not downright dangerous. Nevertheless, today the newspaper is rightly speaking out where other media have been notable for their resounding silence: ‘Global Cooling: Amazing pictures of countries joining Britain in the big freeze’ (Daily Mail, February 21): (Global Warming Politics)

Polar Bears on Thin Ice, Not Really! Redux
Brief Analysis No. 610

February 21, 2008 by H. Sterling Burnett

In early March, the polar bear could become the first species officially recognized by the U.S. government as threatened by global warming.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed to list the polar bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) — even though U.S.

Humpty Dumpty environmental policies
By Paul Driessen, American Daily (02/21/08)

Playing games with language, justice and people’s lives - "Environmental justice" is often used to benchmark corporate social responsibility.

“People of color and low-income populations are disproportionately impacted by pollution,” argues Leslie Fields, Sierra Club director of environmental justice.

It’s unjust that people lose their jobs when companies merge or downsize, to cut costs or boost profits, activists claim.

“Every time a child dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned,” for causing global warming, rants UK firebrand George Monbiot. Government leaders “should go to jail” for failing to act more quickly to prevent planetary climate cataclysm, insists Canadian eco-zealot David Suzuki.

These assertions range from simplistic to outrageous to straight out of Lewis Carroll.

Worship global warming or be excommunicated
February 21st, 2008, Mark Landsbaum

The world’s most intolerant religion? We submit it’s the Church of Global Warming. Toe the doctrinal line, or you’re outta here.

Virginia’s state climatologist, who happens to be skeptical of the global warming faith, lost his job as a result last year.

“I was told that I could not speak in public,” said Patrick Michaels, who has maintained that while the climate is becoming warmer, the consequences are not as dire as others predict.

Die for Gaia, save the planet?
By Tim Worstall
Published Wednesday 20th February 2008 13:00 GMT

The enviroloonies seem to have found their way out of the asylum again: this time to tell us that 70 per cent of Britons should die for the sake of Gaia. That’s not quite the way they put it, of course. Rather, the Optimum Population Trust (there’s a pedantic part of me that wants to tell them it’s Optimal) tells us ( that the maximum sustainable population of the UK is 17 million: given that there are north of 60 million currently, we can only avert the coming End Times if the extra pop their clogs soonest.

It’s not bad for a paper on demography, economics, the environment and their interactions written by a physicist, that is, a paper written by someone with no knowledge of any of the three basic disciplines.

UK’s Brown Calls For EU Carbon Bank

BRUSSELS - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on Thursday for the creation of an independent European carbon bank to improve the functioning of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme and help combat global warming.

He also urged international agreement among wealthy states on a World Bank fund to finance investments to help poor countries make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Canada Cool To Carbon Tax, Despite Province’s Move

VANCOUVER - The Canadian government is not very interested in implementing a national a carbon tax, despite a decision by its third largest province to adopt one, federal Environment Minister John Baird said on Wednesday.

British Columbia’s plan, unveiled on Tuesday, is the first of its kind in North America and its supporters say is among the world’s most comprehensive tax programs aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases, blamed for climate change.

Climate report ‘just early thinking’

By Peter Williams
February 21, 2008 06:01pm
Article from: AAP

THE [Australian] Federal Government has tried to play down its chief climate change adviser’s call for even deeper cuts to dangerous greenhouse gases.

Economist Ross Garnaut in his interim report on climate change policy released today says the Government should set a 2020 greenhouse target this year and consider setting a tougher 2050 target.

"Australia should be ready to go beyond its stated 60 per cent reduction target by 2050 in an effective global agreement that includes developing nations," Prof Garnaut said.

The report says such an approach would see the nation play a positive role in global talks for a post-Kyoto regime.

Carbon emissions cuts must be realistic
By Alan Oxley, The Australian
February 22, 2008 02:40am

WITH less than two years to implement an emissions trading system, a leading point of interest in the business community is how the Rudd Government will keep the economy competitive under the scheme, as the aim is to increase the cost of energy.

The expectation was that this would be high on the agenda of the Garnaut review.

Alan Moran on the Garnaut Review: Mission Impossible

In his Interim Climate Change Review for the Australian government Professor Ross Garnaut is looking to the world stabilising emission levels at year 2000 levels “soon after 2020”. Following this he sees a need for halving them by 2050 and reducing them to a quarter of 2000 levels by 2100.

He also considers that emissions must be based on some level of equality on a per capita basis.

Growing world aircraft fleet and increasing pollution
5:00AM Friday February 22, 2008
By Michael Richardson, New Zealand Herald

As competition among airlines around the world intensifies, more and more people find it convenient to travel by air for business and leisure. But the rapid growth of commercial aviation is having a significant impact on global warming and the Asia-Pacific region, the world’s fastest expanding market for air travel, is starting to feel the heat.

In its latest forecast of aviation growth, European aircraft maker Airbus said this month that the world’s fleet of large passenger jets (more than 100 seats) would double in the next 20 years to nearly 33,000 aircraft.

Energy costs top money worries
By Patrice Hill, Washington Times
February 22, 2008

Mortgages are making headlines and record numbers of homes are in foreclosure, but it’s high energy prices that really bother consumers. It’s the top problem people cite when asked what is wrong with the economy.

Steven Roy, an Alexandria motorist, said he has looked for ways to conserve energy because he doesn’t expect gas prices to fall any time soon.

"Demand worldwide keeps growing and so will the price," he said.

BP goes back to petroleum
The shift to renewables has been ditched for a carbon intensive future
Terry Macalister
The Guardian, Thursday February 21 2008

The Armani-style beige suits worn by security staff at BP headquarters in London and introduced under the reign of former boss, Lord (John) Browne, are to be quietly dropped in favour of more traditional grey ones.

Junk The Junkers To Reduce Fuel Demand

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, February 21, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Energy: As oil flirts again with $100 a barrel, our leaders should stop talking and start acting on bringing the price back down. A good start would be to cut demand by junking the cars that drink so much of our gasoline.

Programs for junking old cars generally have been based on environmental concerns.

The tar sands
Matt Price and Allan Adam
Ottawa Citizen
Thursday, February 21, 2008

Canadians are becoming familiar with the scale of destruction in the tarsands, something that First Nations of the region have known for some time now.

And people around the world are learning why our country has taken such an obstructionist role on global warming.

Power Users Warn EU Investment Stalls Over Climate

BRUSSELS - Energy-intensive industries in Europe warned on Thursday that big investment decisions are being put on hold until the European Union hammers out its plan for fighting climate change after 2012.

A month after the EU’s executive announced proposals to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the 27-nation bloc, executives from some of Europe’s biggest companies said they could not afford to wait long for details of how the system will work.

Ofgem launches investigation of UK’s energy supply market
Robin Pagnamenta, Energy and Environment Editor

Controversy over rising power prices took a fresh twist yesterday when Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, launched a formal investigation into Britain’s energy supply market.

News of the inquiry came as Centrica, the owner of British Gas, reported record annual profits of £1.9 billion just a month after it had raised prices by 15 per cent, prompting accusations of profiteering by consumer groups such as Energywatch.

Ethanol Demand in U.S. Adds to Food, Fertilizer Costs (Update2)

By Alan Bjerga

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) — U.S. plans to replace 15 percent of gasoline consumption with crop-based fuels including ethanol are already leading to some unintended consequences as food prices and fertilizer costs increase.

About 33 percent of U.S. corn will be used for fuel over the next decade, up from 11 percent in 2002, the Agriculture Department estimates.

Kelly orders biofuels review
David Adam, Thursday February 21 2008

A review of the environmental and economic damage caused by growing biofuels was ordered by the UK government today.

Ministers say a number of new studies have emerged recently that question the environmental benefits of such fuels. The government wants to check that UK and European biofuel targets will not cause more problems than they solve.

Cloudy Outlook For Solar Panels: Costs Substantially Eclipse Benefits, Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2008) — Despite increasing popular support for solar photovoltaic panels in the United States, their costs far outweigh the benefits, according to a new analysis by Severin Borenstein, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and director of the UC Energy Institute.

"Solar photovoltaic (PV) is a very exciting technology, but the current technology is not economic," said Borenstein.

Be Very Cautious of the Precautionary Principle
Written by J. Richard Wakefield   
Thursday, 21 February 2008  

Those who adhere to the global warming theory are using the Precautionary Principle as a reason to act. Their claims are that even if the science is not guaranteed as to the cause and effect of our emissions of CO2 that the Precautionary Principle dictates that we act to reduce our emissions.

Male fertility is weakening
Researcher blames chemicals, pollutants for disrupting hormones in animals and humans.
Bill Scanlon / Scripps Howard News Service

Herbicides, other chemicals and pollution over half a century have weakened the reproductive capacity of males — be they frogs, horses or humans, a Colorado State University researcher says.

Sperm counts are dropping about 1 percent a year, testicular cancer in young men has tripled in 50 years, and male frogs aren’t developing the voice boxes they need to attract mates.

Exposure to chemicals in products from pesticides to nail polish "can do permanent damage," particularly if the male is exposed in the womb, as a newborn or as an adolescent, said Rao Veeramachaneni, a biomedical sciences professor at CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

He points to the post-World War II boom in the use of chemicals and fertilizers as the beginning of the troubles for males in the Western world and across the planet.

Is cabin air making us sick?
Charles Starmer-Smith
Last updated: 7:31 PM GMT 21/02/2008

More and more pilots are reporting that air polluted by engine fumes is making them ill and even incapable of handling their aircraft. So why are passengers not being told? Charles Starmer-Smith reports.

Proposed Bill Wants Pesticides, Hormones, Antibiotics Listed on Food Labels
By Sharda Vaidyanath
Epoch Times Feb 21, 2008

Many believe food-labeling laws don’t go nearly far enough in keeping Canadians informed about what’s really in their food.

However, an ambitious private member’s food labeling bill is raising questions even among its supporters.

When NDP MP Paul Dewar introduced his Food Products Labeling Act (Bill C-510) on the Hill last Friday, he said both the current and previous federal governments have refused to provide full disclosure of food ingredients to Canadians.

INTERVIEW - GMO Planting In Poland Inevitable Despite Opposition - WARSAW - Poland's recent lawsuit against a European Commission ruling on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a delaying tactic as planting of (GMO) seeds will have to be allowed, Farm Minister Marek Sawicki said on Thursday.

Earlier in February the centre-right government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk sued the EC's decision forbidding Poland to ban planting of GMO seeds to European Union's second highest court.

But the government is split on GMO food.

Sawicki said it is crucial for farmers' competitiveness on the European Union's common market but admitted he was facing opposition from the environment ministry that points to moral aspects and the lack of social acceptance for GMO products.

"Poland sued the European Commission because we are gaining some time that way," Marek Sawicki told Reuters in an interview.

"It is just tactics allowing us to change our law in the meantime." (Reuters)

The next green revolution
Feb 21st 2008 | NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition

Europe may not like it, but genetic modification is transforming agriculture

FOR a decade Europe has rebuffed efforts by biotechnology firms such as America’s Monsanto to promote genetically modified crops. Despite scientific assurances that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe for human consumption, and a ruling by the World Trade Organisation against national import bans in the European Union, many Europeans have yet to touch or taste them.

Purging the plantain pests in Africa

Professor Howard Atkinson with the University’s collection of banana plants. Credit: Simon & Simon photography

A tiny pest threatening the staple diet of millions in Africa could soon be eradicated in a project announced today, bringing together plant experts from Leeds and Uganda.

Professor Howard Atkinson and Dr Peter Urwin from the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences have been awarded £500,000 through the £7 million Sustainable Agriculture Research for International Development (SARID) scheme launched today by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

February 21, 2008

Next plague likely to emerge from poor tropical countries - Which is one of the reasons we need to encourage development and wealth generation.

Next plague likely to emerge from poor tropical countries

Thursday, February 21, 2008

PARIS — Scores of infectious diseases have emerged to threaten humans in the past decades as viruses leap the species barrier from wild animals and bacteria mutate into antibiotic-resistant strains, scientists reported on Wednesday.

Presenting the first-ever map of "hotspots" of new infectious diseases, they predict that the next pandemic is likeliest to come out of poor tropical countries, where burgeoning human populations come into contact with wildlife.

A three-year investigation led by four major institutions tracked 335 incidents since 1940 when a new infectious disease emerged.

Media Seasonal Affective Disorder? More doomsday reporting about birth defects
Junkfood Science

This must be the season to scare parents-to-be about birth defects. Two major reports offering reassuring news about birth defects in newborns and cancer mortalities in children have been issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The public would never know it, though, as the media has been busily reporting the opposite of the actual data.

Statistics’ dirtiest secret
William M Briggs, February 18th, 2008

The old saying that “You can prove anything using statistics” isn’t true. It is a lie, and a damned lie, at that. It is an ugly, vicious, scurrilous distortion, undoubtedly promulgated by the legion of college graduates who had to suffer, sitting mystified, through poorly taught Statistics 101 classes, and never understood or trusted what they were told.

But, you might be happy to hear, the statement is almost true and is false only because of a technicality having to do with the logical word prove. I will explain this later.

Reducing kids’ salt intake may lower soft drink consumption - Kids eating salty foods get thirsty? How do they do it? Next thing you know they’ll figure out kids at parties eat … party food! They may even decide kids at parties have a higher than normal probability of consuming birthday cake and that restricting birthday parties would solve that contribution to "global obesity". (Probably just gave someone their next grant application idea.)

“There Ought to be a Law?”
Junkfood Science

Did anyone catch CBS Evening News tonight? Katie Couric reported on RJ’s Law, a bill being introduced in this legislative session of the California State Assembly by John J. Benoit. It was drafted by a high school student, R.J. Field, who won a writing contest called “There Ought to be a Law.”

The bill will require all poor women receiving welfare benefits to be tested for narcotics.

Consensus in science
William M Briggs, February 15th, 2008

In 1914, there was a consensus among geologists that the earth under our feet was permanently fixed, and that it was absurd to think it could be otherwise. But in 1915, Alfred Wegener fought an enormous battle to convince them of the relevance of plate tectonics.

In 1904, there was a consensus among physicists that Newtonian mechanics was, at last, the final word in explaining the workings of the world.

Funny, isn't it? - Wannabe world cleaners see this time and again. Impoverished people are cheap labor, delighted to get work and climb out of poverty. As soon as they generate societal surplus beyond mere sustenance, societies begin looking to clean up, preserve, protect and prettify (everything but seeing nature and critters solely as food and fuel as was necessary for the impoverished to survive) and general make their environment "nice".

Global warming — right on schedule - Global warming — right on schedule
Conservative Corner
February 21, 2008 6:00 AM

Although there are many uncertainties in climate science, we do know with reasonable assuredness that the earth is currently experiencing a modest warming trend. We also know that CO2, which is a small contributor to the "greenhouse effect," is increasing in concentration in the atmosphere.

The short-term confluence of these trends has led many to disregard the more convincing longer-term data and jump to a conclusion that there is a cause-and-effect relationship.

Pascal’s Wager And ‘Global Warming’

Is it a better ‘bet’ to believe in ‘global warming’ than not to do so? Can we apply the game theory of Pascal’s gambit, or logic, to ‘global warming’?
As I mentioned yesterday [see: ‘An Obstinate Rationality’, February 19], I am often challenged publicly by such questions. Accordingly, I thought it might be of value to interrogate these propositions in more depth here.
Briefly, we must examine precisely what the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662) [see picture], argued in his posthumously-published notes, Pensées (1669; first English translation, 1803). Fundamentally, the wager proposes that it is a safer ‘bet’ to believe that God exists than not to believe, because the expected value of believing (which Pascal deemed as infinite) will be greater than any expected value of not believing: (Global warming Politics)

Risk Of Permafrost Thaw A “Wild Card” In Warming - UN - If the planet warms…

But if half the warming is from black carbon… - … then the effect of increasing atmospheric CO2 is only half that guesstimated. The best response would then seem to be massive increase in coal-fired electrical generation since that would "fix" the monsoon, preserve or even recharge Himalayan glaciers, halve the warming rate and help improve India’s standard of living, health…

It’s affordable, good for people and the environment and has the benefit of generating wealth that underwrites further such improvements.

How to look at the RSS satellite-derived temperature data

William M Briggs, February 9th, 2008

It’s already well known that the Remote Sensing Systems satellite-derived temperature data has released the January figures: the finding is that it’s colder this January than it has been for some time. I wanted to look more carefully at this data, mostly to show how to avoid some common pitfalls when analyzing time series data, but also to show you that temperatures are not linearly increasing.

Another one falls foul of GRACE modeling mashups - Interesting thing about the GRACE data — it shows ice buildup before being tortured through models to estimate isostatic rebound, inter alia. Following this processing significant loss of sea volume is ‘observed’ in the open ocean. The MODIS data might show some surface warming with the conditions of the period studied but whether these will persist is looking somewhat dubious.

Greenland’s rising air temperatures drive ice loss at surface and beyond

A new NASA study confirms that the surface temperature of Greenland’s massive ice sheet has been rising, stoked by warming air temperatures, and fueling loss of the island’s ice at the surface and throughout the mass beneath.

Mass extinctions from global warming preventable, panel says - Replete with the usual nonsense. "… the rapid loss of species today is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural rate of species loss over the past millions of years" Really? The number of documented extinctions according to the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is 735 animal species since 1500 AD. The bulk of these were island species that suffered from introduced predators, mostly rats and cats accidentally spread during the days of sail and empire although the Maori occupation of New Zealand certainly gave the various species of flightless Moa a hiding.

Beaver population helps battle drought - and exacerbate flood, lead to more open water, mosquito problems… Funny thing this drought due to climate change, the necessary massive feedback from water vapor (without which enhanced greenhouse is trivial) means less drought is likely, not more. Seems absolutely everyone has to throw in "global warming" as an angle in their research, regardless of relevance or reality.

Parenthetically, climate models don’t "predict" anything and they are not too flash at postdiction either.

More “Bad for Good and Good For Bad”
World Climate Report

Just in case you don’t believe our original contention that reports about the impacts of global warming almost always say that ‘bad’ things will happen ‘good’ species and ‘good’ things will happen to ‘bad’ ones, we’ve recently come across perhaps the best example of this phenomenon to date.

Scientists blame ocean dead zones on climate change
Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

(02-20) 04:00 PST Newport, Ore. — Peering into the murky depths, Jane Lubchenco searched for sea life, but all she saw were signs of death.

Video images scanned from the seafloor revealed a boneyard of crab skeletons, dead fish and other marine life smothered under a white mat of bacteria.

Japan doubts climate pledges by US candidates

TOKYO, Feb 20 (AFP) Feb 20, 2008
Japan, home of the Kyoto Protocol, on Wednesday cast doubt on promises made by US presidential candidates to tackle global warming if they win the White House.

"I feel there will be a significant gap when it comes to whether they will really comply with the promises made during the presidential campaign," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, the government’s number two and top spokesman.

Japan has tried to cast itself as a leader in the fight against climate change, which will be a key issue when the country hosts the summit of the Group of Eight major industrial nations in July.

Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have both vowed to tackle global warming, laying out detailed plans on how to cut US greenhouse gas emissions and cut dependence on foreign oil.

John McCain, the Republican Party’s likely nominee, has clashed with more conservative members of his and President George W. Bush’s party by declaring climate change to be a serious threat.

So, how serious is global warming really? How could the average 'person in the street' figure it out? Actually, simple one dimensional models are pretty easy and we've scripted one up here for you (you don't even need to worry about the preceding text unless you want to, although it does explain the calculation, just jump straight to the bottom of the page to use the form if you like). If warming is being "hidden" in the oceans, as advocates contend, no problem, sharing the heating over an extra few hundred atmosphere's worth of mass makes annual warming so small as to be meaningless while, if it is not being so hidden then current annual warming should be in the order of 5 °C (8 °F) which very obviously it is not. The bottom line is the same either way, the forcing claims are correct then the dispersal claims must also be (since undispersed heating would be enormous and undeniable) or, alternatively, the 'extra' CO2 forcing is not being retained in the system after all, the non-extant 'threat' then being a simple failure to properly understand the system. Which is it? Beyond an academic exercise who really cares? The world is not a computer model and the 'problem' exists only inside said models.

An excuse I hadn’t thought of

February 20th, 2008

A few weeks ago I speculated what would happen if human-caused significant global warming (AGW) turned out to be false. There might be a number of people who will refuse to give up on the idea, even though it is false, because their desire that AGW be true would be overwhelming.

I guessed that these people would slip into pseudoscience, and so would need to generate excuses why we have not yet seen the effects of AGW.

Ottawa won’t follow B.C.’s carbon plan: Baird
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | 10:16 PM ET
The Canadian Press

The federal government prefers environmental regulations to new taxes in its fight against climate change, and won’t be following British Columbia’s lead when it comes to a carbon tax, Environment Minister John Baird said Wednesday.

B.C. became the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce a carbon tax on consumers when Finance Minister Carole Taylor tabled her provincial budget on Tuesday.

Baird said such a tax is not on the federal table.

Hands up those who believe politicians’ claims a new tax will be “revenue neutral” - Canadian Province Plans Comprehensive Carbon Tax

VICTORIA - Canada’s westernmost province said on Tuesday it plans to impose a comprehensive carbon tax, dismissing fears voiced by the federal government as well as some business and labour leaders that the fees to fight climate change will hurt the economy.

British Columbia said the tax on fossil fuels used by businesses and individuals will raise C$1.85 billion ($1.82 billion) over the next three years, but officials were quick to describe the plan as "revenue neutral" because it will be offset by tax cuts and a one-time C$100 payment to each provincial resident this year.

Ross Garnaut urges new greenhouse gas targets to tackle climate change

THE architect of the Federal Government’s climate change policy says Australia should make early, deep cuts in greenhouse pollution and press other nations to follow suit.

Economist Ross Garnaut, who today releases the interim report of the Government’s climate change review, also backed the adoption of interim emissions targets. (AAP)

Global warming inspires enterprising solutions - More hot air scammers looking for a piece of the action:

Global warming inspires enterprising solutions
By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY

The phone-booth-size machine humming away in a Tucson lab may look like a science-fair project on steroids. Its inventors, however, say it’s a potent new weapon in the battle against global warming.

Its task is elegantly direct. The 9-foot-tall device, encased in see-through plastic, scrapes the chief global warming gas — carbon dioxide — right out of the atmosphere.

Attack on ‘disastrous’ plans to regulate carbon offsetting market
Terry Macalister, Wednesday February 20 2008

The government’s move to regulate the growing carbon offsetting industry yesterday ran into immediate criticism from the Co-op which said its strategy was "disastrous" for the developing world.

The environment secretary, Hilary Benn, this week outlined plans to introduce a code of practice and kitemark for properly accredited products that he believed would give faith to consumers that they are funding genuine schemes to help counter climate change.

But he said the code of practice would only cover offsetting products that use Kyoto protocol-compliant credits, initially adding: "I think it’s right that consumers who want to buy carbon offsets with confidence can do just that."

The decision to establish government-approved scheme follows mounting concerns that "cowboy operators" were working on the fringes of the industry and offering little proof that the money was being spent on genuine products.

Green housing plans will fail without more regulation, developers warn - Great, they’re going for ventilation-free housing, or, to put it another way, brand new "sick buildings". What a wonderful enterprise for the national mistrust.

Is this the National Trust’s desired low-energy model?

Green housing plans will fail without more regulation, developers warn
James Meikle, Wednesday February 20 2008

Shortages of environmentally-friendly building materials and skilled labour will undermine the government’s drive for low- and zero-carbon homes over the next decade, a report warned today.

The National Trust and two mass-market builders say a flagship development has revealed problems in finding suitable double-glazed windows, or paint glossy enough for would-be buyers.

Japan Considers Emissions Cap And Trade System

TOKYO - Japan is considering compulsory caps on greenhouse gas emissions and a domestic emissions trading scheme for its reluctant companies as it is expected to make tougher commitments in the post-Kyoto Protocol phase, a trade ministry official said on Wednesday.

Japan, the world’s fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, currently lets companies set their own targets on emissions and monitor themselves for compliance, and the country’s most powerful business lobby strongly opposes a compulsory scheme. (Reuters)

From CO2 Science this week:

Global Warming Begets Species-Saving Rapid Evolutionary Changes in Many Plants and Animals: The title says it all ... and a lot of scientific references back it up.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Pigmy Basin, Northern Gulf of Mexico. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Rainfall (Trends - Regional: Europe, Northern): Do real-world data from Northern Europe provide any support for climate-alarmist claims of impending precipitation changes outside the bounds of normal variability?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Garden Tomato, Marine Dinoflagellate, Marine Raphidophyte, and Rice.

Journal Reviews:
Northern Patagonian Icefield Glaciers: What do we learn from the nature of their post-Little Ice Age retreat?

Decadal Temperature Variations at Lake Qinghai on the Tibetan Plateau: What do they imply about 20th-century global warming?

Dissolved Organic Carbon in Northern European and North American Surface Waters: How did its concentration change between 1990 and 2004? And, of perhaps even greater significance, why?

Carbon Sequestration in Semi-Arid Grasslands: How will it likely be influenced by the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content?

Heavy-Metal (Copper) Contamination of Rice: How is it impacted by atmospheric CO2 enrichment?

Lincoln, VATemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Lincoln, VA. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Lincoln's mean annual temperature has cooled by 2.58 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here! (

Japan business head open to carbon cap idea -paper - TOKYO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The head of Japan’s largest business lobby group wants Japan to consider a so-called cap-and-trade system to curb greenhouse gas emissions, reversing earlier opposition, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Thursday.

Alarm over new oil-from-coal plans
David Adam, Wednesday February 20 2008

China is already the world’s biggest coal user. Photo: Qilai Shen/EPA

A Chinese energy company is poised to open a chemical plant to make liquid fuels for cars and aircraft from coal, a move that has alarmed environmental campaigners who say it will increase carbon emissions and worsen global warming.

Verenium expects cellulosic to garner CO2 credits
Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:59pm EST

NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Reuters) - U.S. biofuels company Verenium Corp expects producers of a new ethanol made from non-food sources will earn carbon credits that will provide the industry with an additional revenue stream, an executive said on Wednesday.

Biofuel companies are racing to make commercial amounts of ethanol from cellulose — the tough woody bits of feedstocks like switchgrass and crop waste — as oil hits record highs and concerns about global warming rise.

Cellulosic ethanol currently costs about twice as much as alternative fuel made from corn, now the main source of U.S.

Biodiesel plants worthless — so North Americans buy them! - INTERVIEW - German Biodiesel Plants Find US, Canada Buyers

HAMBURG - Three German biodiesel production plants were recently sold to the United States and Canada and more are up for sale after biodiesel sales collapsed, a German renewable fuels industry leader said on Wednesday.

"I estimate that 30 percent of Germany’s biodiesel plants are now up for sale," said Peter Schrum, president of the German renewable fuels industry association BBK.

A New York Times Report by Elisabeth Rosenthal “Biofuels Deemed A Greenhouse Threat” - Climate Science has reported that the narrow focus on carbon emissions as the dominate threat to society and the environment has unleashed unanticipated consequences (e.g., see Has The IPCC Produced A Hydra?).

Forget biofuel, try a car that runs on air

After unveiling the cheapest car in the world, Tata aims to sell the most environmentally friendly vehicle: the air car
Rhys Blakely in Bombay, Times Online

A car that runs on air and releases no pollutants into the atmosphere at low speeds could be on sale in India as soon as this year.

Shell Scales Back Proposed Arctic Drilling Plan

ANCHORAGE - Royal Dutch Shell has offered to scale back its oil drilling plans in the Beaufort Sea in order to win the lifting of an injunction against the activity, but the move is unlikely to placate opponents of the plans.

Alaska natives won a court order blocking Shell’s plan to drill in the Beaufort last summer, but the major is hopeful that it can persuade the Alaska native groups that led the legal challenge to drop their opposition. (Reuters)

International Protest Demanding A Ban On GM Trees
Thursday, 21 February 2008, 4:20 pm
Press Release: Robert Mann

Open letter to Subsidiary Body of the Convention on Biological Diversity demanding a ban on the release of genetically engineered trees

On 19 February 2008, a large number of civil society organizations sent an open letter to the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, currently meeting in Rome, expressing their "deep concern" about genetic engineering of trees.

In only one week, the letter was signed by 138 organizations in countries where research on the genetic engineering of trees is being carried out, (or has in recent years). Those countries are: Aotearoa® / New Zealand, Australia, Belgium Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal , Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and USA.

The signatories begin by stating that their "concern is based on the fact that the genetic manipulation being undertaken is aimed at consolidating and further expanding a model of monoculture tree plantations that has already proven to result in serious social and environmental impacts in many of our countries."

February 20, 2008

Cancer death rates show dramatic drop

By Amy Fagan, Washington Times
February 20, 2008

Cancer death rates in the United States have dropped between 10 percent and 20 percent since the early 1990s, partly because of better screening, prevention and treatments, an American Cancer Society report says.

The rates have decreased 18.4 percent in men and 10.5 percent in women. That translates to an estimated half-million cancer deaths that were avoided between the early 1990s and 2004.

Still, cancer remains a major killer.

Take It with a Grain of Salt

By Sara Wexler, The American
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The low-sodium campaigners should focus their efforts on consumer demand, not on new FDA regulations, writes SARA WEXLER.

If the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) had its way, salt would be the new trans fat. For three decades now, the CSPI has been trying to convince the Food and Drug Administration to change its official classification of salt from “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) to “additive.” In response to the CSPI’s most recent citizen petition, the FDA held a hearing on salt late last year.

A Word to Environmentalists - The “extremists” among you openly call for the death of 1 to 6.4 billion human beings. The “moderates” among you openly call for the forced reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 90 percent within a few decades, which would serve to reduce energy use almost to the same extent. Such a severe reduction in energy use follows from the fact that there are no presently existing large-scale viable alternatives to fossil fuels other than atomic power, which is regarded by most members of your movement as a death ray and is opposed more vehemently than fossil fuels. (George Reisman)

Climate Change Threatens Human Rights Of Millions – UN - They already have "the right to life, liberty and security of person" (Article 3), which can be interpreted to mean shelter from our ever-hostile environment.

How climate hysteria can be reconciled with Article 23 (1): Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment, however, remains to be seen. And what about Article 25 (1): Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control?

Seems to me that climate hysteria is in breach of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Solar evidence points to human causes of climate change - Ooh! Bad timing! Just as they let the sun off the hook and blame nasty people again, the world essentially gives up the last few decade’s warming. Of course, this doesn’t disprove enhanced greenhouse but it does mean the world has a lot of catching up to do to get back on track for the model-’predicted’ outcomes, doesn’t it?

Another Global Temp Index Dives in Jan08, this time HadCRUT - The global surface temperature anomaly data from the UK Hadley Climate Research Unit has just been released, and it shows a significant drop in the global temperature anomaly in January 2008, to just 0.034°C, just slightly above zero.

This caps a full year of temperature drop from HadCRUT’s January 2007 value of 0.632°C


The ∆T for the year then is 0.595°C which is in line with other respected global temperature metrics that I have reported on in the past two weeks.  RSS, UAH, and GISS global temperature sets all show sharp drops in the last year. (Watts Up With That?)

HadCRUT3: Jan 2008 coldest since Feb 1994 - Just a small curiosity. January 2008 was the coldest month since January 2000 following RSS MSU and the coldest month since May 1995 according to GISS. So it is clear that I can’t overlook a new winner in our hit parade. ;-)

The new numbers from

HadCRUT3: HTML, data, graph

identify January 2008 as the coolest month since February 1994: 166 previous months had a higher anomaly than +0.037 °C measured in January 2008.

If the temperatures drop by additional 0.16 °C which can’t be ruled out, the record breaking will extend to 1984 or 1985. (The Reference Frame)

4 sources say “globally cooler” in the past 12 months - January 2008 was an exceptional month for our planet. While January 2007 started out well above normal.

January 2008 capped a 12 month period of global temperature drops on all of the major well respected indicators.

Here are the 4 major temperature metrics compared top to bottom, with the most recently released at the top: (Watts Up With That?)

Readin’, Writin’ And Warmin’

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Global Warming: A lawmaker from the Silicon Valley wants to require "climate change" to be taught as "science" in all California public schools. Warmers can’t convince the adults, but they can brainwash the children.

Climate Issues & Questions - The debate over the state of climate science and what it tells us about past and future climate has been going on for twenty years. It is not close to resolution, in spite of assertions to the contrary. What is often referred to as a “consensus” is anything but. In many cases, this consensus represents the “expert judgment” of a handful of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) authors, which other researchers can and do disagree with. (Marshall Institute)

An Obstinate Rationality - I am often challenged as follows: “Philip, I know you are critical of the science and politics of ‘global warming’. But why don’t you just play along with it all, because it will be good for energy policy and for the world in general? And, like Pascal’s wager, it means you won’t lose out either way.”
My reply is identical to that reported by James Boswell in his magisterial Life of Johnson (1791) on asking the great man why he wasn’t a Papist [just replace the relevant words with ‘Global Warming’, or ‘Global Warmers’]:
“On the Roman Catholick religion he said, ‘If you join the Papists externally, they will not interrogate you strictly as to your belief in their tenets. (Global Warming Politics)

A modest sacrifice for the climate
David WarrenThe Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, February 16, 2008

Which 88 per cent of the economy would my reader most like to kiss goodbye?

I ask this question only as a practical matter, after reading the summary of a Japanese study on the economic implications of the "global warming" fraud. Noting the goal, "seriously" stated by the Group of Eight, to cut world CO2 emissions in half by the year 2050, a couple of techies in Japan (Norichika Kanie of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Yasuaki Hijioka at the National Institute for Environmental Studies) sat down with their calculators, and coolly worked out what emissions reductions will be required to meet this goal, on an equal per capita basis, around the planet.

The 88 per cent is the figure for North America.

Lawmakers Gather In Brazil To Discuss Climate Change - WASHINGTON - Lawmakers from the world’s major industrial nations and five emerging economies gather in Brazil from Wednesday to discuss a global climate change treaty currently under consideration.

This will be the first gathering of legislators from wealthy and developing countries to help shape the post Kyoto Protocol agreement, World Bank Vice President for Latin America, Pamela Cox, told Reuters.

Sea Levels In Venice Plunge To 14-Year Low - VENICE - Sea levels in the lagoon city of Venice plunged to a 14-year low this week, beaching some gondolas and exposing the canal-beds of famed waterways.

The Centro Maree, whose forecasts are vital for organising transport in Venice, said a high-pressure system set off a "Code White" alert that signals low sea levels. (Reuters)

World Switches On To Earth Hour Switch-Off - CANBERRA - As many as 30 million people are tipped to switch off lights and televisions around the world to help fight climate change with 24 cities joining Earth Hour on March 29, environment group WWF said on Wednesday.

Following last year’s Earth Hour in Australia, where 2.2 million Sydneysiders powered-down for an hour, cities including Atlanta, San Francisco, Bangkok, Ottawa, Dublin, Vancouver, Montreal and Phoenix have also signed on, WWF said. (Reuters)

Actually there was some skullduggery with MSM pictures of Sydney's event last year, sometimes called "PhotoShopping" although the actual software was never identified. Bottom line is about 3 people are known to have taken part and no one noticed.

If people actually did as asked then the grid would shut down as consumption falls below baseload (don't worry, it won't happen because there aren't really that many stupid people).

Stupid is as stupid does: House OKs climate blueprint to set limits on greenhouse gases — House lawmakers have approved Gov. Christine Gregoire’s plan to set limits on Washington’s greenhouse-gas emissions, another step in the state’s long-term drive to curb the causes of climate change.

The measure, which also directs the state to add 25,000 "green collar" jobs by 2020, was the last bill to clear the House by Tuesday’s deadline for policy measures. (Associated Press)

Pollution bill attacked: Effort to slow global warming carries high price, critics say

By Tom Pelton, Baltimore Sun February 20, 2008
O’Malley administration officials said yesterday they don’t yet know how they would achieve the governor’s ambitious goal of cutting global-warming pollution by 90 percent by 2050.

But representatives of Maryland’s only steel mill, the Domino Sugar factory in Baltimore and a paper mill in Western Maryland warned of closings or dire financial losses if the state passes a law with some of the nation’s toughest limits on carbon dioxide.

"That plant is not going to survive," said Gene Burner, lobbyist for the ArcelorMittal steel plant at Sparrows Point, which employs 2,500 workers.

Energy backers looking for votes - Bill passes House, but not with enough support to override veto
By John Hanna, The Associated Press

Legislators who support the expansion of a coal-fired power plant went hunting Tuesday for the votes they will need to get around Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ opposition but faced a new deadline from the utility that owns the plant.

Mayor’s climate aide gets $160,000 a year

Cecilia M. Vega, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In his quest to make San Francisco the greenest city in the nation, Mayor Gavin Newsom recently created a $160,000-a-year job for a senior aide and gave him the ambitious-sounding title of director of climate protection initiatives.

One might expect someone with such an exalted handle to solve global warming and save the rain forest all in a day’s work.

But the new climate protection initiatives director is just the latest person to join the city payroll in the name of tackling global climate woes, raising questions about whether environmentalism is becoming the latest excuse for a bloating government payroll.

More Left-Coastery: Brown Challenges Local Governments To Plan For A Low-Carbon Future - LOS ANGELES–California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today invited more than five hundred mayors, local planning directors, and county Supervisors to attend statewide workshops where they can learn practical ways to combat global warming by reducing reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

"California must adopt the necessary changes that will encourage economic growth while reducing greenhouse gases," Attorney General Brown said. (California Chronicle)

UK Sets CO2 Offset Code, Excludes Voluntary Credits - TORONTO - The British government launched a Code of Best Practice for carbon emission offsets on Tuesday, but said the code will initially apply only to United Nations-approved credits.

Credits issued under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol, known as CERs and ERUs, allow companies in rich countries to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing offsets from clean energy projects in developing nations. (Reuters)

Carbon Emissions Success Stories - Andy Revkin has an interesting post up about per capita emissions in various countries around the world. What countries have a per capita emissions level consistent with an 80 percent reduction from the world’s current total emissions?

hypothetical emissions.png

The answer, as can be seen above in an image that I use in lectures (data from US EIA), is Haiti and Somalia. (Prometheus)

Member states reaffirm concern over new EU emission trading scheme
19.02.2008 - 09:15 CET | By Renata Goldirova, EUobserver

A group of EU states has written to the European Commission, demanding clarification of its recently proposed overhaul of the union’s emissions trading scheme, the cornerstone of its strategy against climate change.

"Medium and long-term investment planning requires certainty on the future framework as soon as possible," says the letter according to the Financial Times.

“NegaWatts”? What kind of half-a***d enterprise tries to sell less of its product? - Revolution in the power lines
Boston Globe February 20, 2008

A QUIET revolution in the way the nation plans for its future electricity needs took place in Holyoke earlier this month, when the operator of the region’s power grid held an auction for the cheapest ways to meet demand until 2011. The big winner was conservation.

The recent auction by the nonprofit Independent System Operator New England was the first in the country in which bidders could propose ways to cut demand and increase efficiency, instead of just increasing supply.

The auction proved that it can be cheaper for a system to arrange, for instance, for big power users to ease off the air-conditioning on the hottest days than for the system to look to other options, such as the construction of new peak-power plants that burn costly natural gas.

Utility proposes first US coal-fired plant to capture CO2
WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (AFP) Feb 19, 2008

US energy company Tenaska announced Tuesday a proposal for a new 600-megawatt, coal-fired power plant in Texas that would be the first to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions underground.

The privately held company proposed a site near Sweetwater, Texas, where its plan would capture up to 90 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that would otherwise enter the atmosphere.

The carbon dioxide would be sold for use in oil production in the Permian Basin, resulting in geologic storage.

Will Kyoto Bury Coal?

Marlo Lewis, CEI February 19, 2008

You have probably heard that China is building new coal-fired power plants at the rate of one every week to 10 days. In late 2004, The Christian Science Monitor reported that three countries—the United States, China, and India—had plans to build nearly 850 new coal plants, “which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce.” These new plants would “bury” Kyoto.

Progress Energy To File Nuclear Plant Application - NEW YORK - Power company Progress Energy Inc said Tuesday it intends to file an application with federal regulators to possibly build two nuclear reactors in North Carolina.

Progress Energy will file its combined operating license application with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) later in the day, said the company. (Reuters)

Magellan, Buckeye Study Us Ethanol Pipeline - NEW YORK - Two US oil products pipeline companies said Tuesday they have launched an assessment on whether to build what would be the first dedicated ethanol pipeline from agriculture centres in the Midwest to the heavily populated US Northeast.

The companies, Magellan Midstream Partners LP and Buckeye Partners LP, said the proposed pipeline — with a preliminary cost estimate of more than $3 billion — would span about 1,700 miles (2,740 km) and take several years to build. (Reuters)

Carmaker Porsche Challenges London Gas Guzzler Tax - LONDON - Luxury carmaker Porsche said on Tuesday it planned to legally challenge London mayor Ken Livingstone’s decision to help fight global warming by taxing gas guzzling cars driving in the city centre. Porsche said on Tuesday the 25 pound ($48.74) daily charge was unfair, would not cut emissions of carbon dioxide and would deter businesses from moving to the city. (Reuters)

Fuel-cell vehicles stalled by price tag

By Kara Rowland, Washington Times
February 20, 2008

Politicians and scientists have been touting hydrogen as the fuel of the future for years. But as the price of oil tops $100 a barrel and more alternative energies find their way to market, consumers might be wondering: Where are the hydrogen fuel cells?

"It’s a very difficult technology to bring to the real world," said Taras Wankewycz, vice president of Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, a Singapore company that makes products powered by fuel cells.

How to Handle an Invasive Species? Eat it
By TARAS GRESCOE, New York Times

LATE last year, a flotilla of fluorescent jellyfish covering 10 square miles of ocean was borne by the tide into a small bay on the Irish Sea. These mauve stingers, venomous glow-in-the-dark plankton native to the Mediterranean, slipped through the mesh of aquaculture nets, stinging the 120,000 fish in Northern Ireland’s only salmon farm to death.

Closer to home, the Asian carp, which has been working its way north from the Mississippi Delta since the 1990s, is now on the verge of reaching the Great Lakes.

INTERVIEW - New Freshwater Fish Rarely A Threat - Expert - OSLO - Freshwater fish can be introduced more safely than expected to new regions for farming with fewer than 10 percent damaging wildlife in their new homes, a scientist said on Tuesday.

Many countries wrongly view alien fish species — such as trout, catfish, perch or salmon — as posing a big risk when put in new rivers and lakes, said Rodolphe Gozlan, a French scientist who works at Bournemouth University in Britain. (Reuters)

US, EU In Talks To Solve Biotech Crops Dispute - GENEVA - The United States and European Union are in talks to resolve their dispute over the EU's ban on genetically modified (GMO) crops, diplomats said on Tuesday.

But Washington reserved its right to seek sanctions against Brussels by restarting a suspended arbitration process if the talks fail to make headway, the United States told the dispute settlement body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"The arbitration will resume, at the request of the United States, if and when the DSB finds that a measure taken to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB in this dispute does not exist or is inconsistent with a covered agreement," the US said in a statement to the dispute body.

The United States says it could seek compensation for the millions of dollars in lost exports and licensing fees for biotech crops it is suffering because of EU bans.

The WTO has said the EU ban is illegal, and the two sides are now talking to see how Brussels should implement the ruling. Washington says its main aim is to crack open the EU market rather than retaliating.

Crops engineered to resist pests and tolerate pesticides while improving yields are increasingly popular with farmers in both rich and poor countries.

But green groups say they threaten biodiversity, and many European consumers are wary of eating "Frankenfoods". European supermarkets often advertise foods as being free from genetically modified organisms.

However, some European farmers fear that Europe could find itself without supplies of animal feed at a time of record commodities prices, as more and more growers worldwide turn to GM crops.

The EU told the dispute body that it had authorised 17 applications for GM crops since ending a moratorium in 2003, including seven new GM products in 2007, and was likely to add another four early this year.

But the United States said more than 40 applications were pending in the EU approval system, including one filed over 10 years ago, and many of these were already approved and traded in other major world markets.

"A handful of approvals over a nine-year period is, unfortunately, of little commercial significance," it said. (Reuters)

ANALYSIS - Food Supply Fears Heighten UK Debate On GMO Crops - LONDON - Rising food prices due partly to soaring demand in China are increasing pressure on Europe to boost harvests and could help turn the tide in favour of genetically modified crops despite widespread public opposition.

Opponents have cited concerns that GMO crops could have a negative environmental impact and could even pose a risk to human health. European Union governments have been unable to reach a consensus to speed up authorisations.

GMO crops met a hostile response when first touted in Europe a decade ago after they were dubbed "Frankenstein foods" and it has proved hard for proponents to overcome consumers concerns.

But pressure is growing for acceptance of GMO technology.

"We have to face up to the issue of genetic modification and rise to the challenge of helping to foster a fair and scientific debate on an issue that has typically been clouded by suspicion and a lack of trust," Iain Ferguson, chief executive of Tate & Lyle Plc said on Tuesday.

Ferguson, who is also president of Britain's Food and Drink Federation, told the National Farmers Union annual conference it was increasingly difficult for food companies to be able to make products without genetically modified ingredients.

"I think we sit at a momemt of history when GM technology because it has accepted by a large number of crop producing countries which export, that a lot of the international trade is now of GM-derived products and that is a fact of life.

"For those people who are trying to source non-GM through identity preservation in whatever form they are doing it, that is become a tougher and tougher thing to do and it is becoming more expensive," he said.

There has been significant opposition among consumers in Britain and several other European countries to genetically modified crops and few are grown in the European Union, in contrast to the United States, Brazil, Argentina and China. (Reuters)

February 19, 2008

Health and disease sales - CBS has been at it again, promoting worry and fear about health. As part of its recent series “Early Intervention: Cardiac Arrest,” CBS Early Show reporters went around food courts and picked out people they saw eating “unhealthy” foods or who were fat, and convinced them to get CT scans to check for signs of impending heart disease.

The CBS shows promoted CT scans for detecting the presence of calcium, which purportedly identifies “artery-clogging plaque” and assesses heart health, especially in people with “risk factors.” Just like CBS broadcasts last May [discussed here], viewers were left believing that everyone needed to get screened and know their “calcium score” to be healthy. (Junkfood Science)

Heavy mobile phone use a cancer risk - Hmm… 50% more likely that what? Doesn’t say, nor does it say whether the effect could simply be whether people talk a lot or not.

Medical news is not medical information - Today provided one of the most extreme examples of medical marketing, with 2,090 news stories all appearing on precisely the same day, in media around the world, and all saying the same thing: a new study claimed to have found overweight or obesity to be associated with higher risks for cancers.

Regular JFS readers no doubt simply rolled their eyes at the desperation in another data dredge — that couldn’t report a single, solitary higher risk above random chance — claiming a link between fat and cancer.

Since reruns are boring and readers have already overdosed on fat and cancer stories, you may be most interested in what the news left out of the story. (Junkfood Science)

Birth control for fish - A huge experiment that involved deliberately polluting an entire lake with synthetic oestrogen has given scientists invaluable data on what the chemical is doing to the environment

I’m generally quite sceptical about research on trace levels of human-made chemicals in the environment because often the claims are not backed up by the evidence. An increase in levels of some oestrogen-mimicking plastic is correlated with a drop in the population of some fish and we jump to the conclusion that one caused the other.

Diet soda makes you fat — or should you smell a rat? - Media stories like this one about diet soda causing weight gain made the rounds last week.

Who wouldn’t believe a study in which experiments involved as few a six rats in the treated group and eight in the control group? And anyway, are rats really little people? 

The only artificial sweetener tested on the rats was sacchrin — not the low- or no-calorie sweeteners used in today’s foods like aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame K.

Also the control group was fed glucose, not the most common sweeteners like table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup.

So the food police don’t like regular soda/soft drinks or diet soda — and bottled water contributes to global warming.

What are we supposed to drink when we can’t take the kitchen sink with us? Even then you need to be careful according to the alarmists since polycarbonate sports bottles leach alleged endocrine disrupters (like Bisphenol A).

Got a surplus Army canteen?

Shock tactics urged on obesity - HEALTH experts have called for a TAC-style campaign to tackle childhood obesity and shock parents into action.

The Herald Sun revealed yesterday that Melbourne hospitals were being swamped by obese children, with some being treated for type 2 diabetes, a disease previously associated only with overweight adults.

Deakin University population health chair Boyd Swinburn yesterday called for the establishment of an independent organisation to help address the children’s health crisis.

Obesity ‘requires climate plan’ - Obesity needs to be tackled in the same way as climate change, a top nutritional scientist has said.

The chairman of the International Obesity Taskforce wants world leaders to agree a global pact to ensure that everyone is fed healthy food.

Professor Philip James said the challenge of obesity was so great that action was needed now, even without clear evidence of the best options.

Child obesity seen as fueled by Spanish language tv ads - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation paid for this? Now there’s a surprise…

WHO catches climate fever - Are these nitwits determined to worsen global health? They should be addressing preventable/treatable disease, malnutrition, potable water and sanitation. Arguably addressing poverty by helping development, transport, water and power infrastructure so that people can climb out of poverty is a major health effort but arm waving and hand-wringing about the phantom menace is a distraction people cannot afford. Instead these dipsticks are trying to suppress development and transportation and return everyone to subsistence farming.

Review of the DVD Apocalypse? No! The Scientific Reasons Why 'Global Warming' is NOT a Global Crisis - Christopher Monckton’s 2007 presentation to the Cambridge (University) Union

Monckton begins by saying that he is going to present a perspective on climate change science that the audience will have not seen in the media, from politicians or in reports on the science. Like Al Gore, Monckton is not a scientist and he has as much right as Al Gore to talk about climate change. His scientific approach is one of enquiry rather than advocacy. He talks about correct scientific method and quotes T. H. Huxley on scepticism being the improver of knowledge:

“The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

He then explains that the debate is not about whether we can freely pollute the planet without care for our fellow creatures, or their or our future, or whether we are adding greenhouse gases to atmosphere, because we are, or that adding greenhouse gases doesn’t enhance temperature – because it does.

Monckton turns his attention to climate alarmism about what might happen if the planet becomes a little warmer, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. (

They could be busy… - … investigating Kyoto political advocacy. Presumably sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander too, so one also assumes the plethora of groups advocating pro-Kyoto positions and attempting to sway election results with media campaigns will also be investigated regarding funding sources and streams.

Tornadoes not a sign of global warming - In his book State of Fear, Michael Crichton wrote about exploitation of fear by environmental extremists. He should write another book about exploitation of lack of knowledge.

Climate and environment were previously outside of politics, but once they became potential election issues politicians exploited them better than environmentalists.

Guest weblog by Lucia Liljegren - Lucia Liljegren graciously agreed to permit Climate Science to post her weblog as a guest contribution on Climate Science. Her weblog was motivated by the Climate Science weblog on February 8 2008 titled

An Error In The Construction Of A Single Global Average Surface Temperature (Climate Science)

A dose of reality needed on climate change issue - A dose of reality needed on climate change issue
Saturday, February 16, 2008
By Philip Stevens, Special to The China Post

LONDON — Britain’s Department of Health says we face killer heatwaves and the Royal College of Physicians president says, "The effects of global warming on health could eclipse those of smoking, alcohol and obesity."

Evoking heatwaves and tropical diseases such as malaria, doctors are adding their powerful voice to calls for deep cuts in carbon emissions to stabilize global temperatures. But if their aim is actually to improve health — particularly in poor countries — they would be hard pushed to get it more wrong.

China: rich `culprits’ on climate change - Ah, victimhood… where would ambulance-chasers be without it?

Global Warming? It’s The Coldest Winter In Decades - Well… yes, but… we are in the La Niña ENSO phase and global conditions are expected to be cooler. Likewise poor old Sol just can’t seem to get going with Cycle 24 and that doesn’t make for warm weather either. Moreover "loss" of Arctic sea ice is believed to have had much more to do with Polar wind direction than temperature and this whole "global warming" thing is pretty much a crock anyway.

Andrew Weaver: The global cooling fallacy - Hmm… methinks climate modeler Andrew Weaver has confused his virtual worlds with the real one. Climate models insist we should see a mid-tropospheric "hot spot" girdling the tropics — the definitive fingerprint of anthropogenic global warming. Only problem, it’s not there.

The only difference between the cooling world proclamations and contemporary hysteria is that activists and governments have invested vast sums in contemporary  "global warming" which has bought a great many papers (you need to publish to keep the money coming).

Solar data suggest our concerns should be about global cooling. - David Archibald’s new paper “Solar Cycle 24: Implications for the United States”, will be presented at the Heartland Institute Climate Conference in NY City, March 2-4, 2008. David points out how solar data indicates that Solar Cycle 24 which is in the early throes of commencing now, could initiate global cooling. (Warwick Hughes)

Green crusades lot of talk - Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have called for strict mandatory limits to control greenhouse gases but they aren’t leading by example — each has failed to pay for offsets to cover all of his campaign’s carbon emissions.

Campaign finance records for 2007 show that neither of the two leading presidential candidates has spent money to independently cover his campaign’s "carbon footprint" — the amount of carbon emissions emitted by the planes and vehicles the candidates and their staffs use for travel, or by the computers and headquarters needed to run a presidential campaign.

Good Climate Policy, Bad Politics - Um, no John. There is no upside to carbon constraint or increased taxation.

Global Heating, Atmosphere Cancer, Pollution Death. What’s in a Name? - Can’t decide whether "ecochondriac" or "crisisarian" is most apt. How about "doominators"? No, I think "Hanrahan" might do it (from Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, John O’Brien, 1921).

Forgetting atmospheric CO2 is historically low we have more ocean acidification hand-wringing - GLOBAL warming is threatening the future of a tiny marine snail which, if lost, could trigger a catastrophic collapse of Antarctica’s food chain, experts say.

Pteropods have been dubbed the “potato chip” of the oceans because they provide food for so many different species.

But the lentil-sized snails - eaten by fish and other lower life forms, which are in turn eaten by species higher up the food chain - are highly sensitive to temperature and acidity, both of which are affected by climate change.

Warm Sea Urchins on Acid - Scientists on acid, more like. Rarely has Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide level been as low as the last few million years and these critters evolved under conditions we cannot hope to emulate if we burn all the fuels we can mine.

Corals May Get Help Adapting to Warmer Waters - Sorry Juliet but I, for one, doubt the veracity of the statement "human-induced climate change has been killing corals across the globe" (in a lot of regions corals have certainly suffered from effluent, cyanide fishing, explosives, mining for materials to build ‘eco resorts’, silt smothering from erosion and onshore development, poorly carried out logging operations etc., even some bleaching from warm ocean surface temperatures, mainly during and subsequent to the 1997/98 El Niño event) but there is exactly zero evidence people have warmed the oceans sufficiently to harm corals.

Will North Atlantic threshold response to ocean changes be enough? - More MOC hand wringing.

German scientists warn of changes in Arctic Ocean circulation - Hamburg, Germany - Marine scientists in Germany have issued an alarming warning about the radically alteration of the circulation of water in the Arctic Ocean. The findings by the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM- GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany, have dire implications for climate change in the Northern Hemisphere.

Hitherto, the circulation of the Arctic Ocean was driven by the formation of sea ice rather than the inflow of North Atlantic deep water.

Antarctic sea rise ’caused by warming’ - Oh dear… not a mention of atmospheric pressure or Southern Ocean gyres — just temperature…

The Senate’s changing climate - One of the risks to passing AB32, California’s groundbreaking climate-change bill, was that the state would be locked into a lonely and expensive fight while the rest of the nation polluted, happily and without hindrance, for years. And while it’s true that major action at the federal level is highly unlikely until at least 2009, it’s also true that California’s law has emboldened the U.S.

The Warminator has one impressed, at least - ‘Something remarkable is beginning to stir, something revolutionary, historic and transformative,’ Arnold Schwarzenegger told UN heads of state. ‘California is mobilising technologically, financially and politically to fight global climate change.’

Climate Bill Target To Be Reviewed By Year End - Benn - LONDON - Britain’s goal of cutting emissions of climate warming carbon dioxide by 60 percent by 2050 will be reviewed by the end of the year and may be raised, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said on Monday.

The goal is at the heart of the Climate Change Bill currently going through parliament which is expected to become law within three months.

Laughing Gas Causes Food, Global Warming Dilemma - OSLO - The world needs to find smarter ways to feed a rising population while cutting emissions of laughing gas, a widely forgotten greenhouse gas that is stoked by the use of fertilisers, a researcher said on Friday.

Nitrous oxide, best known for its mirth-producing qualities, is 310 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

Carbon copies? - Dear, dear! Carolyn didn’t make much of a job of this! She definitely should have told readers to go here to see what their sacrifice will achieve.

Poor old Moonbat, still clueless - Still applauds Stern’s discredited economic fantasy while failing to understand cost-benefit. Under George’s outlook we should expend all wealth now for one terminally ill patient even though that then denies every other patient any possibility of treatment. No wonder the fool wants to expend all society’s capital to fight the phantom menace — he has no idea of the cost consequence of so doing.

Saudi, Norway Back Carbon Capture For CDM - Paper - >OSLO - Oil exporters Saudi Arabia and Norway will cooperate to get carbon capture and storage (CCS) — burying greenhouse gases — recognised as a way for rich countries to offset their emissions, a Norwegian daily reported.

CCS involves trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial processes, such as power generation from fossil fuels, and storing it underground or below the seabed.

Into The Abyss: Deep-Sixing Carbon - Imagine a gigantic, inflatable, sausage-like bag capable of storing 160 million tonnes of CO2 - the equivalent of 2.2 days of current global emissions. Now try to picture that container, measuring up to 100 metres in radius and several kilometres long, resting benignly on the seabed more than 3 kilometres below the ocean"s surface.

US military denied Canadian fuel by energy bill, climate worries - The 2007 energy bill signed into law last December may bar the U.S. military from purchasing oil made form Canadian tar sands.

A provision in the law bars the U.S. government from buying fuels that emit more greenhouse gases during their production than conventional petroleum products. Extracting oil from tar sands requires large amounts of energy.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is already pressuring the Department of Defense, the world’s largest single purchaser of light refined petroleum about complying with the bill.

It’s quite ironic that a bill entitled, "The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" would actually sabotage one significant path to weaning ourselves from Middle East oil.

US Should Speed Up Energy Efficiency Plans - IEA - WASHINGTON - The US government needs to move more quickly on plans to boost automobile fuel efficiency standards, improve efficiency of power plants and take hard action on heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the International Energy Agency said Friday.

The IEA, energy advisor to 27 industrialized countries, applauded the US Congress for passing a law in December that boosts the fuel efficiency for cars and trucks for the first time since 1975.

With Oil Prices Rising, Wood Makes a Comeback - >NEWPORT, Vt. — As a child, Brian Cook remembers hurling wood into the big orange boiler his father bought during the oil crisis of the late 1970s, helping feed the fire that provided heat and hot water to his family.

Thirty years later, Mr. Cook dragged the boiler out of his childhood home and hooked it up in the house that he and his wife, Jennifer, own to cut their oil bills.

Energy Execs Debate Whether Oil Crisis Looms - HOUSTON - Are the lacklustre production and reserve replacement rates reported by the largest oil companies precursors to a looming oil crisis?

The largest oil companies have had increased difficulty meeting a range of challenges to increase their production, including mature oil fields with declining production rates and restrictive regimes that have tightened their hold on their resources as commodity prices have.

US Power Shortage Without More Coal Plants: AEP - HOUSTON - The United States faces an electricity crisis if it eschews coal-fired power plants on its way to a low-carbon economy, said the chief executive of American Electric Power, one of the nation’s biggest utilities.

Michael Morris of AEP said that he fears the United States will rely on natural gas plants too heavily if it drastically cuts burning coal to make electricity.

Efficiency Now Ahead Of US Carbon Rules: Utilities - HOUSTON - US utilities are focusing on energy efficiency to lessen the need to build new power plants while they await what they see as inevitable carbon regulation, executives said at the four-day CERA conference in Houston that ended Friday.

Uncertainty over the form and cost of regulation of carbon dioxide emissions has many utility executives hedging their bets on new power plants while consumer conservation programs are viewed as a safe way to give consumers more tools to control energy consumption in the face of rising costs.

Experts Cast Doubt On Norway Thorium Energy Dreams - OSLO - Scientists told the Norwegian government on Friday that exploiting thorium, a radioactive metal, for nuclear power production is an interesting but far-out alternative with unknown economic potential.

A report commissioned by the government found that current knowledge of thorium-based energy production and the geology of the natural resource are not solid enough to draw any conclusions about the potential value to Norway.

Don’t compare us to aviation. Shipping is carbon-friendly - In fact both have advantage and disadvantage, depending on requirement. What both do is emit carbon dioxide, although that is devoid of any real relevance.

Britain Invests In Waste Digesting Energy Plants - LONDON - Britain is to invest in several anaerobic digestion plants as it seeks to cut emissions of greenhouse gas methane and boost renewable energy production, Farm Minister Hilary Benn said on Monday.

Benn said the government would invest about 10 million pounds ($19.50 million) to help build several commercial-scale anaerobic digestion demonstration plants.

Anaerobic digesters take slurry, grass clippings, food waste and other agricultural products to produce heat or electricity and cut emissions of potent greenhouse gas methane.

Agriculture emits about 7 percent of Britain's greenhouse gases and an industry report last year suggested that anaerobic digestors could cut UK methane emissions from dairy, cattle and fattening pig enterprises by up to 75 percent.

"Anaerobic digestion has a lot of potential, not least because it will help us meet three of our needs at the same time," Benn said, noting it produced renewable energy, reduced emissions of greenhouse gas methane and helped to divert organic waste from landfill.

Germany builds around 1,000 digesters a year and leads the world in the technology with Britain trailing far behind.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told the conference that proposals to build anaerobic digestion plants would receive "the top level of support" under proposed reforms to the government's renewable energy policy.

"Farmers have a vital role to play in the UK in meeting our climate change targets and increasing our energy security," Wicks said. (Reuters)

Consequences of GM crop contamination ‘are set to worsen’ - UCS hand-wringer

BRAZIL: GM Maize ‘Worst Tragedy’ of Lula Administration - NGOs - RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 16 - Non-governmental organisations actively involved in the Campaign for a GM-Free Brazil are protesting against what they call "the worst tragedy" to befall the country during the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: the release for cultivation and sale of two transgenic varieties of maize.

The decision to authorise the LibertyLink and MON810 genetically modified (GM) maize seeds, made by the German company Bayer and U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, respectively, was reached this week at a meeting of the National Biosafety Council (CNBS), made up of 11 ministries, with seven votes in favour and four against.

The CNBS thus confirmed the authorisation decided in January by the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio).

This is the first time commercial-scale cultivation of transgenic maize has been allowed in the country. The only other GM crops that have received authorisation are soybeans and cotton.

The press relations office of the Science and Technology Ministry, which announced the Commission’s decision, declined to comment. (IPS)

GM Cotton Acreage To Touch 80 Percent In India - NEW DELHI - India is likely to grow genetically modified (GM) cotton on 80 percent of its total cultivated area under the fibre in the next 2-3 years, a global research body said on Monday.

The country, the world's second-biggest cotton producer, hopes to produce a record output of 31 million bales (1 bale = 170 kg) in the crop year to September as farmers plant more transgenic seeds.

Indian farmers, who grow cotton on an average 9.06 million hectares, produced 28 million bales last year.

"In 2007, Bt cotton area went up to 6.2 million hectares from 3.2 million hectares in 2006," Clive James, chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, told a news conference.

The organisation is a non-profit research body that advocates large-scale use and application of genetically modified crops.

"Rapid strides that India has made in cotton production since the country embraced Bt cotton and the fact that it has overtaken the US speak volumes about the technology," he said.

India allowed commercial cultivation of bacillus thuringiensis or Bt cotton in 2002, leading to vehement protests from social activists who say genetically modified crops are a health hazard, spoil soil texture and harm the environment.

Government officials say India will increasingly turn to laboratories to secure food supplies as the country struggles to feed more than one billion people. (Reuters)

Is transgenic cotton more profitable? - Transgenic cotton cultivars were planted on almost 93% of U.S. cotton acres in 2007. Transgenic cultivars with pest-managing traits are dual-purpose products. The cultivars produce lint and seed, while the expressed propriety traits provide part of the crop’s insect management and/or enable use of broad-spectrum herbicides for weed management.

Growers must choose among an increasing number of cultivars and an increasingly diverse spectrum of pest management options linked to the cultivars.

Germany gives green light to label designating 'GM free' foods - Germany's upper house of parliament approved a new label on Friday that will declare foods that contain no genetically modified organisms "GM Free."

Genetically modified foods are a sensitive topic in Germany, where environmental groups contend that many such crops are unsafe for humans and the environment.

Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, already approved the law, which is now expected to go into effect in March.

Under the law, milk, meat, eggs and cheese will earn the "GM free" badge only if animals did not feed upon any genetically modified products. Animal products can still bear the label, however, even if the livestock was exposed to genetically altered vitamins, amino acids and other additives, as long as there were no available alternatives.

EU law already requires that foods containing genetically modified organisms be labeled as such, which has been cause for protest from the U.S. food industry. (AP)

February 18, 2008

Ecopsychology or ecochondria? - For people who feel an acute unease about the future of the planet, a small but growing number of psychotherapists now offer a treatment designed to reduce worries as well as carbon footprints: ecopsychology.

Like traditional therapy, ecopsychology examines personal interactions and family systems, while also encouraging patients to develop a relationship to nature.

“Global warming has added an extra layer of anxiety to what people are already feeling,” said Sandy Shulmire of Portland, Ore., a psychologist and practitioner of ecopsychology.

For ‘EcoMoms,’ Saving Earth Begins at Home - SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — The women gathered in the airy living room, wine poured and pleasantries exchanged. In no time, the conversation turned lively — not about the literary merits of Geraldine Brooks or Cormac McCarthy but the pitfalls of antibacterial hand sanitizers and how to retool the laundry using only cold water and biodegradable detergent during non-prime-time energy hours (after 7 p.m.).

Move over, Tupperware. The EcoMom party has arrived, with its ever-expanding “to do” list that includes preparing waste-free school lunches; lobbying for green building codes; transforming oneself into a “locovore,” eating locally grown food; and remembering not to idle the car when picking up children from school (if one must drive). Here, the small talk is about the volatile compounds emitted by dry-erase markers at school.

Perhaps not since the days of “dishpan hands” has the household been so all-consuming. But instead of gleaming floors and sparkling dishes, the obsession is on installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, buying in bulk and using “smart” power strips that shut off electricity to the espresso machine, microwave, X-Box, VCR, coffee grinder, television and laptop when not in use.

“It’s like eating too many brownies one day and then jogging extra the next,” said Kimberly Danek Pinkson, 38, the founder of the EcoMom Alliance, speaking to the group of efforts to curb eco-guilt through carbon offsets for air travel. (New York Times)

There’s no need to ’save’ the polar bear - Exxon used to encourage motorists to ”put a tiger in your tank.” Well, a different animal may begin influencing traffic soon. Polar bears could force drivers to shell out even more money for gasoline.

Why? Because environmental groups are pushing to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and the Bush administration is considering their demands.

It might make sense — if the polar bear were endangered. But the worldwide population of these bears has more than doubled since 1965, to an estimated 20,000-25,000 today. Far from being threatened, by all accounts the bears are thriving.

So what’s behind the push to ‘’save” the bears? A desire to ban energy exploration in much of Alaska, and a threatened species tag is just the ticket to make it happen.

Too Much Ice: Polar Bears Starving - You are not going to like the picture accompanying the story below in the Greenland newspaper, Sermitsiaq(k) - a shot and bleeding, 2.4 m tall, female polar bear hung on a trawler’s jib. Polar bears are iconic, and they have been ruthlessly employed by the media to promote the threat of ‘global warming’. Unfortunately, around the Greenland town of Sisimiut [above: south-western Greenland, at 5965 folk (2007), the second largest town], it is the polar bears that are becoming the threat [‘Op til seks bjørne er set i nærheden af Sisimiut, nogle helt tæt på byen’ (‘Six polar bears seen in the vicinity of Sisimiut, some very close to town’), Sermitsiaq(k), February 14/15]:
“[Free translation] Nobody knows how many polar bears stay around Sisimiut town at the present time, but Mrs. Maria Aarup doesn’t doubt their presence. She saw several bears on Amerloq fjord on Tuesday… On Thursday morning, more polar bears were again seen around the airport area, and there were reported tracks at the garbage dump.”
The story goes on to warn (wisely one would guess): (Global Warming Politics)

How not to measure temperature, part 52: Another UFA sighted in Arizona - My post How not to measure temperature, part 51 was also cross posted over at Climate Audit, and has created quite a stir when Atmoz, who is at the University of Arizona, tried to demonstrate that the temperature spike shown in the GISS data at Lampasas, TX, was not due to the relocation next to a building and asphalt parking lot, but rather some problem with GISS algorithm to do homogeneity adjustment to the data.

Steve McIntyre had doubts and posted a tongue in cheek rebuttal where he blamed the problem on UFA’s (Unidentified Faulty Algorithms). (Watts Up With That?)

Bill would require California’s science curriculum to cover climate change - Reading, writing and . . . global warming?

A Silicon Valley lawmaker is gaining momentum with a bill that would require "climate change" to be among the science topics that all California public school students are taught.

The measure, by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, also would mandate that future science textbooks approved for California public schools include climate change.

"You can’t have a science curriculum that is relevant and current if it doesn’t deal with the science behind climate change," Simitian said. "This is a phenomenon of global importance and our kids ought to understand the science behind that phenomenon."

The state Senate approved the bill, SB 908, Jan. 30 by a 26-13 vote. It heads now to the state Assembly. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken numerous actions to reduce global warming, but he has yet to weigh in on Simitian’s bill. Other Republicans in the Capitol, however, are not happy about the proposal.

Diverse Organizations Agree to Co-Sponsor 2008 International Conference on Climate Change - CHICAGO, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Business & Media Institute, Congress of Racial Equality, and Frontiers of Freedom Institute have agreed to co-sponsor the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, joining 15 other co-sponsoring organizations and the event’s principal sponsor, The Heartland Institute.

The conference will take place on March 2-4 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Times Square in New York City. (The Heartland Institute)

Oh my… Your chance to counter warming - Your chance to counter warming

If ever you wanted to do something about global warming, now is a great time.

A bill is snaking its way through the Kansas Legislature that could determine whether this state lets dirty fossil fuels maintain their grip in the state or we start opting for clean energy sources and the planet’s well-being.

When the state secretary of health and environment recently rejected permits for two new coal plants in western Kansas, he spared the world from up to 11 million more tons of Earth-warming carbon dioxide being spewed into the atmosphere every year.

NYT still wrong: Judicial Rebukes on Clean Air - Judicial Rebukes on Clean Air

The federal courts have been a bulwark against the Bush administration’s relentless efforts to weaken 40 years’ worth of environmental law, including statutes protecting the nation’s forests, wetlands and endangered species. The courts have been especially important in resisting the administration’s assault on the 1970 Clean Air Act, which began with Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2001 energy report and continues to this day.

In 2006 and 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to follow the law and require utilities to install pollution controls when upgrading power plants. Another Supreme Court decision last year held that the Clean Air Act required the E.P.A. to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, an obligation the agency continues to duck. (New York Times)

The Crone remains clueless. The Supreme Court emphatically did not find that the Clean Air Act mandated regulation of greenhouse gases — merely that it may allow such regulation. From what we can determine about climate sensitivity to enhanced greenhouse then no amount of greenhouse emission control will make any measurable difference in global mean temperature or climate (not the same thing).

That Newfangled Light Bulb - Across the world, consumers are being urged to stop buying outdated incandescent light bulbs and switch to new spiral fluorescent bulbs, which use about 25 percent of the energy and last 10 times longer. In Britain, there is a Ban the Bulb movement. China is encouraging the change. And the United States Congress has set new energy efficiency standards that will make Edison’s magical invention obsolete by the year 2014.

Now, the question is how to dispose of these compact fluorescent bulbs once they break or quit working.

Thirst for green energy has its cost - BOSTON–Forget about feeling smug just because you drive an electric hybrid car or fill the tank of the family sedan with ethanol.

Scientists say such energy-saving efforts could contribute to an even bigger environmental problem by adding pressure on North American’s dwindling water resources.

In turn, this could lead to renewed U.S. demand for Canadian water, one expert warned here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This new dark side of going green emerged at a symposium that portrayed energy and water as conjoined twins.

University of Texas professor Michael Webber, an environmental policy specialist, said so-called green fuels for vehicles all require much more water to produce than ordinary gasoline.

Bottled water ‘is immoral’ - Drinking bottled water should be made as unfashionable as smoking, according to a government adviser.

"We have to make people think that it’s unfashionable just as we have with smoking. We need a similar campaign to convince people that this is wrong," said Tim Lang, the Government’s natural resources commissioner. 

Phil Woolas, the environment minister, added that the amount of money spent on mineral water "borders on being morally unacceptable".

Their comments come as new research shows that drinking a bottle of water has the same impact on the environment as driving a car for a kilometre. (London Telegraph)

The promise of biofuels: Hype or a real solution? - By Maarten Chrispeels and Steve Kay
February 17, 2008

With gas prices approaching $4 a gallon and industries searching for new ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, biofuels – fuels such as ethanol derived from corn and other plant sources rather than petroleum – are becoming an increasingly attractive option to help mitigate the impacts of climat e change and reduce our oil imports.

The promise of powering our cars exclusively with green energy from plants prompted President Bush to ask Congress recently for $225 million for biofuels research – a 19 percent increase over this year’s federal spending level. And it brought more than 300 scientists and business leaders from around the nation to a meeting here recently hosted by the University of California San Diego to discuss new ways of producing ethanol from plants and other promising avenues of biofuels research.

Everyone seems to be touting the benefits of biofuels these days: Midwestern farmers, environmentalists, state and federal legislators, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, business leaders, venture capitalists and university scientists. But can corn-based ethanol – the primary focus of current biofuels efforts – deliver what we need to accomplish? And are the promises of biofuels more hype than real? (Union Tribune)

February 15, 2008

Mayor Gloomberg - It may be time to get the butterfly net for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
After speaking at a United Nations meeting on global warming, Mayor Bloomberg told reporters, “Terrorists kill people. Weapons of mass destruction have the potential to kill an enormous amount of people, but global warming in the long term has the potential to kill everybody.”
Mayor Bloomberg continued, “We should go after terrorists every place in this world, find them and kill them, plain and simple. [If weapons of mass destruction] get out of the hands of the countries that have them and get into the hands of terrorists, the potential is just mind-boggling… [and while global warming] is a much longer-term thing… [it] has all of the same potentials of destroying the planet that we live on. No scientist knows for sure what’s going to happen, but you don’t want to wait to find out.”
While we could easily write-off Mayor Bloomberg’s comments as simply inane hyperbole, they’re really quite irresponsible for a public official to make as they’re not based on any sort of scientific reality -- even in the weird reference frame of standard climate hysteria. His comments seem intended to foment public panic. (Steven Milloy,

How not to measure temperature, part 51 - While we’ve taken some detours looking at some of the amazing things that have happened globally for temperature in January, with another detour to the sun, our volunteers continue their mission.

This NOAA USHCN climate station of record #415018 in Lampasas, TX was found to be tucked between a building, and two parking lots, one with nearby vehicles. According to the surveyor, it is right next to the ACE Hardware store on the main street of town. While likely representative of the temperature for downtown Lampasas, one wonders how well it measures the climate of the region. (Watts Up With That?)

Heavy rainfall on the increase - Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have found that winter precipitation – such as rain and snow - became more intense in the UK during the last 100 years.

Similar increases in heavy rainfall have now also become evident in spring and, to a lesser extent, autumn.

A previously reported reduction in heavy summer rainfall appears to have ended during the 1990s, with observations for the last decade indicating a return to more typical amounts of intense rainfall in summer. (University of East Anglia)

Will Global Warming Save Lives? - Global Warming: A study done for the British government says that global warming will kill thousands. It also says lives will be saved due to warmer winters. OK, which is it? Or is it neither?

A report commissioned by Britain’s Health Department says that one blistering hot summer between now and 2017 could kill more than 6,000 Britons. The panel of scientific experts that compiled the study believes the chance of that is 25%.

Naturally, the global-warming-will-kill-us-all crowd latched onto that speculation, as did headline writers. "U.K. May Suffer Heat Wave That Kills 3,000," topped a Bloomberg story, while Reuters opted for "Climate Change May Kill Thousands In U.K. By 2017."

The panel also said global warming will bring warmer winters, which will cut down on cold-related deaths in Britain.

So should we fear human-created climate change or embrace it? (IBD)

Few French Fried in 2006 - In the history of global warming scare stories, the 2003 European heat wave was a landmark event—it was the first time that a rash of human deaths were specifically linked to global warming. Many of you probably recall that a widespread exceptionally hot and dry spell hit Western Europe in August, 2003. Depending on how you count the bodies, up to 35,000 people suffered premature death during this heat wave with the lions-share occurring in France, which happened to be heat wave ground zero. Subsequent research demonstrated that this kind of extreme heat event must surely have been caused by increased greenhouse gas levels (Schår et al., 2004), despite the fact that, when examined from a global perspective, this heat wave was very Euro-centric (Chase et al., 2006), and the last time we checked a map, western Europe doesn’t cover much of the globe (which of course is the reason for centuries of European colonialism).

Well, we bet you didn’t know that there was a very comparable heat wave in France in summer, 2006. Why no headlines about global warming’s increasing death toll? In the category of “all the news that’s apparently not fit to print,” you guessed it, many fewer people died. The 2006 heat wave is the subject of a recent paper in the International Journal of Epidemiology by a group of French researchers led by A. Fouillet entitled, “Has the impact of heat waves on mortality changed in France since the European heat wave of summer 2003? A study of the 2006 heat wave.” (WCR)

Would You Adam And Eve It!* - - stultum facit fortuna, quem vult perdere - (“Whom Fortune wishes to destroy, she first makes mad”): Maxim 911 of Publilius Syrus (1st century BCE), one of the most famous renditions of the ancient Greek proverb (anonymous, 5th century BCE, or earlier)
The world has gone truly bonkers! I wonder if we are quite self-aware of the hubristic madness into which we are currently sinking, especially in the UK, and all in the name of ‘Saving the Planet’, of not offending anyone over anything, and for the petty PC-jobsworths who increasingly monitor our daily lives. Two little stories will suffice today (I can’t bear any more). (Global Warming Politics)

Global warming blamed for unusual cold spell - As Hong Kong shivers through its second-longest cold spell since 1885, scientists point to global warming to explain the abnormal cold weather phenomenon worldwide. (The Standard)

Big Climate’s strange ’science’ - I had to chuckle to myself reading a letter here at The Register, recently.

"David Whitehouse - although a respected scientist - is still only one voice and his speciality is astrophysics not climate," wrote ( a reader. This is one of my greatest concerns about so called climate science. Climate science is a very, very new field. So new, in fact, that it has had little chance for its assertions to be tested.

For example, climate models are being developed with very little ability to test out of sample. Furthermore, the climate science bandwagon has come about solely because of supposed anthropogenic climate change, which means that their funding is intrinsically tied to climate change happening and being man-made. A more self-interested group I could not find anywhere, even looking at the researchers who were paid by big tobacco companies to tell us cigarettes are safe.

The scientists who interest me in this field are those who can draw on the experience of a lot of people who have come before them. And uniformly in these areas I find scepticism. People who write mathematical models of complex systems for a living tend to find the climate models very unconvincing. Geologists find the arguments very unconvincing. Engineers find the arguments unconvincing. And astrophysicists find the arguments unconvincing.

Why? Well the answers are clear. (John Atkinson, The Register)

Thoughts on thermal inertia - When the central heating comes on in the morning, the temperature of the house rises exponentially towards its new equilibrium with a time constant of the order of an hour. The process of heat conveyance is inefficient because the medium of transfer, air, has a low heat capacity, while the recipients, walls and furnishings, have a high one.

Half a century ago a research student colleague of your bending author constructed a thermal oscillator comprising a lamp bulb and a thermistor. The equivalent circuit was a very high inductance and a very high capacitance, with the negative slope resistance of the thermistor cancelling out the positive one of the bulb. Light from the bulb pulsed with a period of several seconds.

The thermal capacity of water is much higher than that of air (not only is it considerably denser, but it has about four times the specific heat).  The specific heat of liquid water is much higher than that of any other common substance. Thus it is unsurprising that relatively minor perturbations in the oceans produce major effects on the atmosphere. The oceans exhibit oscillatory behaviour with periods measured in years. There is the El Niño phenomenon, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation. It is not unreasonable to suppose that, because of the huge discrepancy in volumetric thermal capacities, the influence of water on air is very much greater and more immediate than vice versa. A change in atmospheric temperatures might take centuries to affect the oceans, but a relatively small convective disturbance in the water has an almost immediate effect on the air. Thermal inertia of the seas accounts for the difference between, for example, the clement climate of an island like Great Britain and the harsher continental extremes of central Europe.

Given all this it is somewhat surprising that there is so much discussion of the atmospheric climate that more or less ignores the contribution of the oceans. Furthermore, as we have recently remarked, it is a major error (or is it fraud?) to ascribe the apparent high global temperature associated with the strong El Niño in 1997-1998 to global warming. That phenomenon tells us that the apparent global atmospheric temperature is a rather poor indicator of the heat content of the planet. Furthermore, it is grossly misleading to use that isolated outlier as the end point of a trend calculation, but this has been done on a grand scale. That, however, is what happens when propaganda replaces science. (John Brignell, Number Watch)

This should tell you everything you need to know about UNFCCC and the IPCC - Iran favors the West committing economic suicide? Go figure…

Rich nations need 80 pct emission cuts: Japanese study - Japan, the European Union and the United States would each need to cut greenhouse gasses by more than 80 percent for the world to meet a goal of halving emissions by 2050, Japanese scientists said Thursday.

A summit last year of the Group of Eight rich nations agreed to "seriously consider" halving global emissions by 2050 in hopes of halting global warming.

To achieve such a goal, Japan — which is already far behind in meeting its current commitments — would need to cut emissions by 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels, said Norichika Kanie, assistant professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

His joint research with Yasuaki Hijioka, researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Studies, found that the United States would need to cut emissions by 88 percent and the European Union by 83 percent. (AFP)

Considerations for an 80% Reduction in Carbon Dioxide Emissions - In order to combat the anticipated risks of climate change, all the Democratic candidates and one Republican candidate (John McCain) for president have called for a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as part of their platform. The Democratic candidates have agreed upon the necessity of cutting CO2 emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels. Legislation in the Congress uses a lower threshold: America’s Climate Security Act (S.2191), recently introduced by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-CT) and John W. Warner (R-VA) and approved by the Committee on Environment and Public Works, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 63% below the 2005 level in 2050. (Carbon dioxide is only one of many greenhouse gases, but since it represents 84% of greenhouse gas emissions, the terms “greenhouse gases” and “carbon dioxide” are sometimes used interchangeably.)

This paper examines the result of drastic CO2 emissions reductions on individual Americans, using on-line emissions calculators. The results suggest that, barring introduction of new energy technology, only draconian cuts in living standards can achieve these emissions reductions. (M. Herlong, Marshall Institute)

Investment fund giants demand 90% reduction in carbon emissions - Some of the largest institutional investors in the world yesterday called on the US Congress to introduce a mandatory national policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% below 1990 levels by 2050.

It is the latest move that underlines the way business leaders have dramatically seized the environmental agenda and are now pushing politicians to tackle global warming.

The group of 40 investors, which includes F&C Asset Management in London and controls $1.5tr (£760bn) worth of funds, also wants the financial regulator, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to insist that companies listed in New York and elsewhere disclose their exposure to climate change risk.

The investment houses are demanding that equity analysts and ratings agencies calculate the potential carbon costs for companies such as Shell, BP and electricity utilities which are involved in polluting activities such as producing oil from tar sands and operating coal-fired power stations.

The initiative was unveiled at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk hosted in New York by the United Nations Foundation and the Ceres investor coalition. It would boost investment in energy efficiency programmes and clean energy technologies as well as leaving investors better informed if not less exposed to carbon-intensive activities, the investors argue. (Terry Macalister, The Guardian)

Who foots the bill? US set for $1 trillion carbon market - The United States will see a market in the trade of greenhouse gas emissions within five years more than twice the size of Europe’s and worth $1 trillion by 2020, according to carbon market projections out this week.

New materials can selectively capture carbon dioxide - By the way, anyone got any idea of the energy cost of carbon sequestration? Capturing, compressing, transporting and injecting this stuff takes energy, so how much energy? Would it require an extra 10%, 20%, perhaps 50% fuel resource to get the same output if you are wasting so much energy putting carbon back underground? Pretty stupid to waste say an extra 30% of your coal fueling the reburial of carbon you have expended energy mining in the first place, no?

Climate change could be the next subprime meltdown: Most companies unprepared for effects - NEW YORK — Another subprime-mortgage-meltdown-sized risk could be looming for investors: global warming.

That alarm was sounded Thursday at an investor summit at the United Nations headquarters, at which 480 investors, pension fund leaders and corporate executives from around the globe were warned that the vast majority of companies are ill-prepared for the Earth’s changing climate.

Many oil producers, utilities and manufacturing plants have yet to factor in the added expense if the United States - as is expected in the next few years - imposes caps on carbon-dioxide emissions. Similarly, many companies with big real-estate holdings in U.S. coastal regions haven’t calculated their exposure to increased tropical storms and rising seas.

Most of the financial institutions that lend to these companies and the insurance companies that protect them also have yet to adequately consider how they might get burned.

"It’s like subprime mortgages…one of longest kept secrets of uncalculated risk," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups, which co-hosted yesterday’s event. "By not acting on climate change…we face the same kind of [risks] with what we’re seeing in subprime."

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for bringing attention to the issue of climate change, echoed that theme as keynote speaker, urging investors to dump any assets they hold in businesses that are heavily reliant on carbon-intensive energy - or risk losing a ton of money down the road.

"You need to really scrub your investment portfolios, because I guarantee you…that if you really take a fine-tooth comb and go through your portfolios, many of you are going to find them chock-full of "subprime" carbon assets," Mr. Gore said according to an Associated Press report of the speech, which was closed to the press. (Janet Whitman,  Financial Post)

Oh boy... Councils must identify rising sea risk - ALL councils in Australia will review their town plans against a detailed assessment of risks posed by rising sea levels under a Rudd government blueprint to prepare for coastal inundation.

Work has already begun on the risk assessment through the Council of Australian Governments amid fears that councils could be approving development in areas at risk of future inundation.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong confirmed the plan yesterday as the Local Government Association warned that councils already believed coastal areas were heavily exposed to flooding but felt helpless to act because of the lack of hard modelling of the risk.

As the Insurance Council of Australia said it was proceeding with a plan to create a national flood map, the LGA also warned that councils could face a future torrent of litigation from landowners facing tumbling property values or flooding.

Sea-level expert and head of geosciences at Sydney University Peter Cowell, who is working closely with insurer IAG, said hundreds of thousands of homes faced possible inundation resulting from climate change over the next 20 to 30 years.

He said areas expected to be among the hardest hit were Cairns in north Queensland, Byron Bay and Ballina in northern NSW, Wamberal on the NSW central coast and Narrabeen on Sydney's northern beaches.

The Rudd Government came to office promising a serious attack on climate change and accusing the Howard government of having failed to acknowledge the problem or having a plan to adapt to its effects.

One of Kevin Rudd's first acts was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reducing carbon emissions. (The Australian)

Firms will act on CO2 only if its cost triples, says Shell - A carbon price close to $100 per tonne of CO2 - more than three times higher than it is today - is needed before industry will invest in the thousands of carbon-capture-and-storage (CCS) schemes needed for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Shell warned yesterday.

Jeremy Bentham, the vice president of business environment at the company, also called on the EU to quicken the pace of regulatory change and take vital decisions "within five years" that would largely shape the pattern of energy supply and global warming in coming decades.

His comments came as Prince Charles took a similar message to the European parliament in Brussels telling MEPs that business leaders were ahead of politicians and "the doomsday clock of climate change is ticking ever faster towards midnight".

Shell reiterated the view expressed by many in the business world that the price of carbon - the amount companies must pay for permits to emit CO2 - needed some certainty if vital investment was to be made in a range of technologies necessary to reduce CO2 output. Carbon capture was one of the answers to the problem but needed to be introduced on a huge scale around the world along with renewables, biomass and other forms of energy. (Terry Macalister, The Guardian)

Reports of the oil industry’s imminent death are greatly exaggerated - Every year more barrels are added to the world’s reserves than are used up, says Peter Odell (The Guardian)

A big oil discovery: Brazil could become a sizeable energy producer - Brazil’s role as a global energy producer is likely to increase dramatically over the next ten years. The country is already a relatively important oil producer, and following recent announcements of major offshore deep-water discoveries, the largest Latin American country will move from being self-sufficient to becoming a net exporter. If the government’s early estimates are confirmed—that the broader area where the recent discoveries were made might hold as much as 70bn-100bn barrels—Brazil will be able to boast of holding among the world’s ten-largest oil reserves in the medium to the long term. (ViewsWire)

Coal’s Time Is Up In US, Environmentalist Warns - NEW YORK - The United States should leave its estimated 200 years’ supply of coal in the ground and invest in wind farms and solar technology for its power-generating needs, a leading environmental analyst said on Thursday.

Wall Street, politicians and public opinion have all turned so dramatically against coal in the last year over climate concerns that it is probably "the beginning of the end of the coal industry," said Lester Brown. (Reuters)

That healthy glow: How much radiation is safe? - “TAKE baths in liquid sunshine. It is radio-active, germicidal and purifies your blood by destroying disease germs, thereby revivifying, rejuvenating and increasing your Vital Force and circulation.” So runs an advertisement for the Radium Sulphur Springs in Colegrove, Los Angeles, displayed in the January 5th 1908 issue of the Los Angeles Times.

Back then, radioactivity was new, poorly understood and a hot marketing property. Besides health spas, there were “radium condoms” (radium, a chemical element, was the focus of much early research into radioactivity), “uranium ice-cream” and “Tho-Radia,” a brand of beauty cream advertised with an illustration of a woman bathed in an unearthly orange glow.

With the benefit of hindsight and a hundred years of scientific advance, such advertisements are at once shocking and darkly amusing. These days, the word “radioactive” is one of the most feared in the English language. Every schoolchild studying radiation learns the salutary lesson of Marie Curie, the brilliant French scientist whose unprotected handling of countless radioactive samples led to the bone-marrow disease that killed her. Even today, her notebooks are supposedly too contaminated to be handled without protection. That, in modern minds, is how radiation works—it is invisible, deadly and anything it touches tainted forever.

The grisly effects of large doses of radiation are now well understood. Death can come in hours for those who suffer the very highest doses, and the relationship between sizeable exposures and long-term cancer risk is clear. But, largely due to a lack of data, the consequences of smaller doses are more controversial. (The Economist)

How DDT metabolite disrupts breast cancer cells - Research has shown that the main metabolite of the insecticide DDT could be associated with aggressive breast cancer tumours, but there has been no explanation for this observation to date. Now a report published in the open access journal Breast Cancer Research shows how DDT could act to disrupt hormone-sensitive breast cancer cells. (BioMed Central)

First possible activity mechanism? Perhaps, at least in vitro if not in vivo. It's bound to excite chemo-phobes a great deal more than its worth, which is a shame but that's the nature of the beast.

Brought to you by... - The director of the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Dr. Howard Brody, M.D., Ph.D., added a spirited commentary today on the aggressive management of blood sugars (ACCORD trial) and cholesterol (ENHANCE trial), statins and other issues as discussed here at JFS. (Junkfood science)

War Of The Roses - Does Valentine's Day have a new Scrooge loose? Environmentalists' fury over holiday roses is a new form of political correctness. But given how many refugees the flower trade helps, it's just heartless. (IBD)

Cameroon wants to sell a forest, but conservationists don’t want to buy it - FOR rent: 830,000 hectares of pristine tropical rainforest. Rich in wildlife, including forest elephants and gorillas. Provides a regionally important African green corridor. Price: $1.6m a year. Conservationist tenant preferred, but extractive forestry also considered. Please apply to the Cameroonian minister of forestry.

That, in essence, is what the government of Cameroon has been offering since 2001 in an attempt to make some money from a forest known as Ngoyla-Mintom. The traditional way would be to lease the land to a logging company. But Joseph Matta, the country’s forestry minister, would rather lease it to a conservation group. The trouble is, he cannot find one that is prepared to take it off his hands. (The Economist)

For Business, ‘Socially Responsible’ Should Mean Earning A Big Profit - Bill Gates may be the world’s richest person — and also the most generous, as measured by amount of philanthropy — but we shouldn’t assume those characteristics make him the most perspicacious.

In a Jan. 24 speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gates laid out his vision of "creative capitalism," which encourages companies to spend money on worthwhile causes or on money-losing projects that are judged to be socially desirable.

According to Gates’ fuzzy logic, this is "market-based social change" that does "work that eases the world’s inequities."

Good goals, bad strategy. Gates is not the first paragon of capitalism to endorse such actions. Daniel Vasella, the chairman and CEO of Switzerland-based Novartis, the world’s fifth-largest pharmaceutical company, declared that multinational companies "have a duty to adhere to fundamental values and to support and promote them." (IBD)

Attack of the cloneburgers - Don't expect to be eating cloneburgers anytime soon. At $13,500 per head, cloned cattle are just too expensive for the dinner table. But the great-grandchildren of clones? Those may well be on their way to the menu, and we might not even know it.

The intricacies of clone-tracking served as the first course on the menu of news conferences at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting - a scientific feast that began today in Boston and continues through the President's Day weekend. (Alan Boyle, Cosmic Log)

GM food special report: Crops that survive climate change? - We investigate whether changing crop genes can help us deal with climate change

Over recent decades, western consumers have reaped the benefits of a farming revolution and its plentiful harvest. The vast economies of scale delivered by agro farming and globalisation have led to a downward trend in food prices, creating the illusion that food can only get cheaper.

But the cost of cheap food has been high. Contamination, degradation and the depletion of finite natural resources have been the direct result of greater mechanisation, intensive use of inputs and extensive irrigation systems. Now, as oil and gas fields near exhaustion, the days of input-dependent farming appear to be numbered.

While the rest of the world contemplates the pending food scarcity and climate change crises, biotechnology companies are quietly confident that they hold the solution. The industry asserts that genetically modified crops enable better pest control, reduced spraying, safety for non-target species, higher stress tolerance and more consistent yields. In short, the industry believes that green biotechnologies provide a secure and sustainable food and energy solution. (ClimateChangeCorp)

Do you suppose they actually believe this Malthusian/Club of Rome pap?

February 14, 2008

They’re coming after you - By Walter Williams - My March 9, 2002, column, "Coming moves to control us," warned that Americans who enthusiastically supported the anti-tobacco zealots’ attack on smokers were, like decent Germans did during the 1920s and ’30s, building the Trojan Horse that would one day enable a tyrant to take over.

The issue of tobacco smoke nuisance is really a private property issue where the owner should decide how his private property shall be used, whether it’s an office building, restaurant, bar or home. That’s unless one group of people wishes to use the coercive powers of government, in the name of health or some other ruse, to impose its preferences upon others.

Anti-tobacco zealots don’t have a monopoly on tyrannical designs. There are those who wish to control what we eat, and the successful attack on smokers has provided a template for their agenda. Chief among the food tyrants is the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in Washington, D.C. These tyrants want taxes on foods they deem as non-nutritious. They’ve even proposed a 5 percent tax on new television sets and video equipment and a $65 tax on each new car or an extra penny per gallon of gas. Why? They see watching television and videos, riding instead of walking, as contributing to obesity. Thus, in their view, just as tobacco companies were responsible for people smoking, TV and video manufacturers are responsible for people being couch potatoes. Auto companies are responsible for people riding instead of walking. Restaurants are responsible for American obesity.

Some people have told me these tyrants would never get away with controlling what we eat. Here’s the Mississippi Legislature House Bill 282, introduced this year by Rep. W.T. Mayhall, that in part reads: "An Act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the State Department of Health; to direct the department to prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese and to provide those materials to the food establishments; to direct the department to monitor the food establishments for compliance with the provisions of this act." The bill would revoke licenses of food establishments that violate its provisions. (Washington Times)

Silver dental fillings may not harm kids’ brains - NEW YORK - A new study adds to evidence that mercury-containing dental fillings do not harm children’s brain development, as some have feared.

Silver fillings, called amalgams, have been used to treat cavities for more than a century. The fillings are made from a combination of metals, including mercury, and research has shown that small amounts of mercury vapor are released from the fillings over time. (Reuters Health)

Food fears run amuck: Government outlaws aromas - Government officials in Sydney, Australia, have determined that employees must be protected from any exposure — the mere whiff of a scent of food that might be harmful to some. Officials have banned peanut butter sandwiches from a government building, which houses seven government agencies. According to the Daily Telegraph, employees were told in an email that the ban was put into place because “the smell could trigger a deadly allergic reaction.” As reporter Byron Kaye writes: (Junkfood Science)

Where have all the sunspots gone?


I’m writing this after doing an exhaustive search to see what sort of solar activity has occurred lately, and I find there is little to report. With the exception of the briefly increased solar wind from a coronal hole, there is almost no significant solar activity.

The sun has gone quiet. Really quiet. (Watts Up with That?)

Baliunas Says Global Warming Related To Sun - In her lecture series, "Warming Up to the Truth: The Real Story About Climate Change," astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas shared her findings Tuesday at the University of Texas at Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Dr. Baliunas’ work with fellow Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Willie Soon suggests global warming is more directly related to solar variability than to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, an alternative view to what’s been widely publicized in the mainstream media."

Some people argue solar influence is large; some argue it is small. I’m somewhere in the middle," she said during a press conference Thursday afternoon. Her research goes back to time periods when the amount of carbon emission was small enough that it wasn’t a major player. "If you go back far enough you eliminate some of your variables," she said. (Tyler Paper)

Of course: Cold wave in India attributed to global warming - Mumbai: The recent cold wave sweeping across Mumbai and other parts of India could be attributed to global warming, experts said on Tuesday here at an environmental conference.

Addressing the ‘Combat Global Warming’ conference at the Indian Merchants Chamber (IMC) here, former Union minister for power and environment Suresh Prabhu said global warming was primarily a problem created and induced by human beings.

He said the increase in emission of green house gases like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and methane had resulted in the situation, which could prove catastrophic if unchecked.

Prabhu said the cold wave that swept Maharashtra and other parts of India recently could be attributed to the phenomenon of global warming. (Sify)

Watts Up With That? has a different slant on yesterday's 'Nessie' story: Global Warming Kills “Nessie” - Global warming gets blamed for a lot of things, like in the 90’s, when that California Cheese commercial came out blaming everything  on “Its the El Ninnnnoooooo…..”. Every day we see more an more piling on of claims that the root cause of some problem is “global warming”.

But when this one came along, it gave me such pause, that I just had to mention it due to the absurdity vortex that surrounds it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you this:

Veteran Loch Ness Monster Hunter Gives Up

Despite having hundreds of sonar contacts over the years, the trail has since gone cold and Rines believes that Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming.

Read the whole story here at the UK’s Daily Record.

Of course we all know that Nessie is “real” and therefore it’s *ahem* reasonable to assume that the massive species extinction claimed as one of the direct effects of AGW would reach right down to the depths of Loch Ness and strike beloved Nessie dead. It’s a huge blow to Scotland’s tourist industry.

But that’s not the cause, the epic battle of Nessie’s last stand was captured in late 2007 on the Loch Ness web cam. The real culprit is not global warming, but very close.

See the picture below:


Note: yes I realize the picture is absurd, but “absurd claims require absurd proof.” (Watts Up With That?)

Developing nations offer greenhouse gas curbs, based on per capita emissions by rich nations - UNITED NATIONS: Envoys from India, China and other developing nations offered Wednesday to hold the line on their greenhouse gas emissions, but only as measured against the per-capita pollution produced by the United States and other richer nations.

The U.S. emits about 7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a year. China, with 1.3 billion people, has pulled roughly even with that amount, but its emissions per person are roughly one-fourth that in the U.S., which is home to 300 million.

A recurring theme during the U.N. General Assembly’s debate this week on climate change was that the United States and other wealthy nations bear a greater responsibility for adding more gases to the atmosphere that contribute to global warming by trapping heat.

"The reality is that developed countries are responsible for the bulk of current and historical greenhouse gas emissions," said Vanu Gopala Menon, Singapore’s ambassador to the U.N. "So clearly, they have an obligation to take the lead in reducing emissions." (Associated Press)

Cap and Trade: Solution or Stealth Tax? - Congress is considering several pieces of legislation that would implement a “cap and trade” emissions trading scheme. In early December, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a bill introduced by Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and John Warner (R-Virginia). Senator Barbara Boxer has endorsed the bill, America’s Climate Security Act of 2007, saying it’s an ideal framework for dealing with global warming as it “embodies all the key concepts,” and is “the perfect starting point for discussions.”

The Lieberman-Warner bill would place mandatory caps and reductions on greenhouse gases (mainly CO2), as well as caps on industries in the U.S. responsible for emitting 75 percent of greenhouse gases. The system is designed to reduce emissions by 70 percent by 2050. Sounds like a great idea, right? Not so fast.

An April 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology report estimated the annual cost of implementing these schemes between $263 billion and $366 billion. The estimated annual cost for a family of four is $3,500 to $4,900, with a disproportionate share from low-income families. In November 2007, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that a modest 15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions would cost consumers $100 billion annually, and similarly found that low-income families would bear the brunt.

In reality, the cap and trade proposals are nothing more than a regressive tax that will cause a massive redistribution of wealth upward, with no real benefit. The proposals would mandate emission reductions (read energy usage), which can only be obtained by curtailing output. The result: economic recession. (Larry Kealey, Energy Tribune)

Carbon tax? Not yet, thanks. We want more coal and oil: Corcoran - by Terence Corcoran

Too much can never be said of the great climate change policy farce. As many parts of the world suffer through harsh cold spells, record snow and deep-freeze conditions, governments and politicians continue to pursue hilariously contradictory policies to make the world colder still.  Or so they claim. What’s really going on is another matter. Consider the latest news on oil and coal.

In the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and other countries, there is official endorsement of carbon taxes and carbon trading to raise the price of carbon-based energy so as reduce emissions.  How bizarre, then, to read the statement signed by finance ministers from these same nations calling for lower oil prices. 

Oil prices, said the G7 finance ministers following their meeting in Tokyo over the weekend, are too high. The ministers of the G7 governments that want to raise oil prices through taxes at home called on the IMF to "conduct further research" to find out why prices are so high. High oil prices are bad for growth and development.

The most absurd call from the ministers, in the context of their own official carbon policies, was the following: "We encourage OPEC and other oil-producing countries to raise production, and reiterate the need to enhance refinery capacity and improve energy efficiency."  More oil output, more capacity. What happened to the great Pigovian carbon tax push? (National Post)

Venture to Use Sea to Fight Warming Runs Out of Cash - Planktos, a California company that is trying to turn a profit by fertilizing the ocean with iron dust, canceled planned field tests on Wednesday, citing a lack of funds. At the company’s Web site,, a notice blamed a “highly effective disinformation campaign” for the cancellation.

The business plan had been to sell carbon offset credits earned by creating blooms of phytoplankton that, in theory, would absorb a certain amount of the climate-warming gas carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and then sink to the seabed.

The credits would be sold in the growing market for such offsets to compensate for unavoidable emissions of carbon dioxide. (New York Times)

Spain and Italy to Spend $10B on Carbon Credits - Spain and Italy, the European Union’s worst performers under the Kyoto treaty effort to curb carbon dioxide emissions, will not meet their commitments by 2012 unless taxpayers dish out up to $10 billion to buy carbon credits, mostly in the developing world.

The two Mediterranean countries are responsible for around 75 percent of the E.U.-15’s excess carbon dioxide discharges. By 2012, according to Kyoto, those discharges were supposed to be cut to 8 percent below 1990 levels. Although both countries have imposed strict additional limits on their carbon-intensive industries (in addition to other emergency measures), they will still need to offset the carbon dioxide produced by their expanding economies by buying carbon credits through the so-called flexible mechanisms. (Energy Tribune)

NZ Wine Industry Upbeat About Global Warming - WELLINGTON - Global warming, which is threatening the viability of the drought-stricken wine industry in Australia, could be a boon for neighbouring New Zealand which has been enjoying a growing reputation for its quality wines.

New Zealand’s subtle flavoured wines, mostly whites such as Sauvignon Blanc but also reds such as Pinot Noir, are appearing on the tables of fine restaurants from London to Los Angeles and are winning medals at prestigious international wine shows.

Yet despite success at producing quality wines, New Zealand has long had trouble producing wines in significant export quantities due to its weather. New Zealand is one of the world’s most southern countries and frosts and biting winds from Antarctica make it hard to cultivate wine-worthy grapes.

But that may change.

Higher temperatures due to global warming are expected to make cold areas of New Zealand more temperate and better suited to grape cultivation. So it’s no surprise that New Zealand wine-growers are upbeat about a future that includes climate change. (Reuters)

The saddest thing is people are actually making investment decisions based on this nonsense.

BBC News: Online Versus TV - Yesterday provided one of the starkest contrasts I have ever witnessed between the standards of news broadcasting on BBC TV News and BBC News Online. Putting it in the crudest of terms, the so-called flagship, BBC Ten O’Clock News (BBC 1), provided little more than tabloid hysteria, while the BBC Online coverage was thoughtful, and genuinely worthy both of plaudits and of the BBC’s long tradition of public service. (Global Warming Politics)

US Misses Second Deadline To Protect Polar Bears - WASHINGTON - The United States has missed its own postponed deadline to decide if polar bears need protection from climate change, and critics link the delay to an oil lease sale in a vast swath of the bear’s icy habitat.

"When it comes to the survival of the polar bear, the Bush administration is putting the ‘dead’ back into ‘deadline,’" said Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who heads a House of Representatives panel on climate change.

"Now that the Bush administration has taken care of its clear first priority — taking care of their friends in the oil industry — perhaps they can finally give the polar bear, and the global warming that is causing the bear’s demise, the attention it is due," Markey said in a statement. (Reuters)

U.S. Energy Bill: Subsidizing China - A push in the U.S. for more biofuels won’t significantly impact oil demand. In fact, any consumption decrease may simply act as a subsidy for Chinese drivers.

In this era of political polarization, particularly on matters involving energy and the environment, if Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree on a bill and the president signs it, the bill must be largely meaningless. That explains how the recent energy bill came to pass, one that will cost lots and do nothing for energy independence, greenhouse gases, or the environment. And in the highly unlikely case that the bill’s targets are actually met, the end result may be that it does a lot more harm than good.

Many pundits have written about the new fuel efficiency standards for automakers and the gaping loopholes in those standards. I will focus only on biofuels. (Michael J. Economides, Energy Tribune)

INTERVIEW - Mankind Can’t Afford More Oil Drilling - Ex-BP Exec - LONDON - Known oil, gas and coal reserves may already contain a quarter more carbon than mankind can emit and still avoid dangerous climate change, putting the value of new oil exploration in doubt, said a former oil major executive.

The oil industry may be wasting $50 billion annually searching for new fields, said Jan-Peter Onstwedder, formerly BP’s most senior risk manager. He left BP in December.

He calculated potential carbon emissions from proven oil, gas and coal reserves at around 700 billion tonnes, compared with about 500 billion tonnes which can be emitted this century and keep temperature increases within less dangerous bounds.

"It prompts the question where does more exploration fit, do we already have all the reserves we possibly need?" he said. (Reuters)

Oil execs ‘mixed’ on climate change: Pachauri - HOUSTON: Rajendra Pachauri said he thought he was "walking into the lion’s den" on Tuesday when he told oil executives they need to take a lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in order to save the earth. Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, said the oil industry has been both lion and lamb when it comes to seeing the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming.

"It’s a very mixed response," Pachauri said on the sidelines of the CERA Week Energy Conference held at the heart of the U.S. oil industry in Houston. "I was very struck by (ConocoPhillips Chief Executive) Jim Mulva’s presentation when he talked about the pressure that the public is going to put on legislators and on companies," Pachauri said.

"And those who do not accept that reality will face a huge reputational risk." Mulva on Tuesday told the conference that the U.S. government should enact climate change policies that would tie into programs abroad. Mulva also said the petroleum industry must cut greenhouse gas emissions and that those in it "no longer have the luxury of standing on the sideline." (Reuters)

The need for fossil fuels will last for decades, according to BP’s chief scientist - The world is almost certainly going to remain hooked on fossil fuels—oil, coal, natural gas—for decades to come, despite our best efforts to cut back, the chief scientist for British Petroleum said during a recent campus talk.

Physicist Steven Koonin spoke to a crowd gathered at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center to hear the annual Drell Lecture. The event was hosted by the Center for International Security and Cooperation in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Koonin used a slide show, à la Al Gore, to make his points. The lines on his chart representing worldwide energy demands in coming decades went on a steady upward trajectory, the same years the world needs to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions to lessen the effects of global warming.

The industrialization of China and India will play a large role in driving the increasing energy demand, he said. China is opening a carbon-spewing coal plant at the rate of one a week, and India will increasingly turn to coal, he said.

Koonin said he is pushing BP research in biomass fuels as potential petroleum replacements, but that all the means of alternative energy such as wind and solar would likely be unable to halt the increasing use of fossil fuels.

Any country with an increasing per capita income is going to have a corresponding increase in energy demand, he said. Conservation measures may delay climate change, but will not prevent them, he said.

Koonin said consequences of global warming are real but unknown, and could range from "merely inconvenient to catastrophic." (Stanford University)

U.S. Energy Price Shock – Why aren’t we already in a recession? - Historically, every U.S. recession since World War II has been preceded by an energy price shock – namely, a rapid increase in the price of oil. So one should ask: why aren’t we in a recession now? After all, the price of oil has increased five-fold in the last five years. What’s different?

There are a number of factors that have helped to keep recession in check thus far, but there is still significant drag on the economy, and without definitive action, recession is coming. It is just happening a little slower than in the past.

The most significant factor preventing the U.S. from sliding into recession has been the diversification away from oil as a source for electricity generation. While electric consumption has doubled since 1978, use of oil as an electric generation fuel source has decreased by over 90 percent, and today it provides just 1.5 percent of the country’s electricity.

Also important is the decoupling of oil and natural gas prices. In the late 80s and early 90s, electric generators built plants that could utilize either oil or natural gas. The thinking was to allow for switching fuel sources, based upon price. Unfortunately, this policy resulted in “coupling” the price of oil and natural gas: as plants switched from oil to gas, the demand (and consequently the price) for natural gas rose with the price of oil. That is no longer the case. (Despite increased use of natural gas in the electricity sector, natural gas demand in the U.S. has been flat since 1995.)

Finally, the increased utilization of nuclear power plants has had an effect. Since 1990, capacity utilization at America’s 104 nuclear reactors has increased to well over 90 percent, from less than 66 percent. (Larry Kealey, Energy Tribune)

The Good News: Decarbonization - Positive news doesn’t sell. If it did, the ongoing decarbonization trend would be better understood.

Now that the big climate conference in Bali is over, questions are arising about how (or whether) the U.S. and other countries can reduce their CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, the U.S. presidential race has gone into full swing. As it garners more attention, so do the energy platforms of the various candidates, who are all being scrutinized over how their energy views square with the greenhouse gas issue.

Remarkably, through the blizzard of speeches, talking points, and recriminations about whose plan has the most potential (and of course, recriminations about the U.S.), two of the most promising trends in global energy use have gone largely unnoticed: the ongoing decarbonization of the world’s fuel supply and the growing role that natural gas is playing in that mix.

Although many pundits talk about peak oil, there’s not much talk about “peak gas.” That’s because there continues to be a surfeit of gas, and more gas is being discovered all the time. Between 1995 and 2005, global proved natural gas reserves increased 25 percent, to some 6,348 trillion cubic feet. At current rates of extraction and assuming no new discoveries, that’s enough gas to supply the world for another six decades. But better still, new gas reserves are being discovered faster than new oil reserves.

This is good news regardless of your positions on peak oil or global warming. Gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. It emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal and creates far fewer air pollutants. Plus, it’s cheaper than oil (on a Btu basis) and it’s abundant. Despite those facts, environmental groups and presidential candidates rarely (if ever) tout gas as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or imports of foreign oil.

The decarbonization of the world’s energy mix has been ongoing for about two centuries. From pre-history through the 1700s and early 1800s, wood was the world’s most common fuel. Wood has a carbon-to-hydrogen ratio (C:H) of 10 to 1. That is, wood has about 10 carbon atoms for every hydrogen atom. But as the Western world industrialized, wood lost its dominance to coal. Coal was a dramatic improvement over wood because it is a far denser source of energy, with a C:H ratio of about 2 to 1. But coal was destined to lose out to oil as the fuel of choice, particularly for transportation, because of oil’s superior energy density, a product of its 1 to 2 C:H ratio. Over the coming decades natural gas (CH4) consumption will increase, thanks to its 1 to 4 C:H ratio. (Robert Bryce, Energy Tribune)

Synthetic Fuel Concept to Steal CO2 From Air - Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed a low-risk, transformational concept, called Green Freedom™, for large-scale production of carbon-neutral, sulfur-free fuels and organic chemicals from air and water.

Currently, the principal market for the Green Freedom production concept is fuel for vehicles and aircraft.

At the heart of the technology is a new process for extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and making it available for fuel production using a new form of electrochemical separation. By integrating this electrochemical process with existing technology, researchers have developed a new, practical approach to producing fuels and organic chemicals that permits continued use of existing industrial and transportation infrastructure. Fuel production is driven by carbon-neutral power. (LANL)

Titan’s surface organics surpass oil reserves on Earth - Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new Cassini data. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.

The new findings from the study led by Ralph Lorenz, Cassini radar team member from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, USA, are reported in the 29 January 2008 issue of the Geophysical Research Letters.

"Titan is just covered in carbon-bearing material—it’s a giant factory of organic chemicals," said Lorenz. “This vast carbon inventory is an important window into the geology and climate history of Titan.” (APL)

Biofuels - Biofueling Inflation? - Inflating cornEnergy has long been one of inflation’s bogeymen. The oil price shocks of the 1970s and the failed economic policies instituted by Congress afterward have left a lasting impression on almost everyone old enough to remember those events.

Ever since then, any jump in energy prices has raised fears of inflation – or more likely, a recession resulting from the combination of increased energy costs and the restriction of the money supply that central bankers would use to stifle inflation.

But energy has lost a bit of its steam as a factor in the economy over the past few decades. The energy intensity of the economy (i.e., the amount of energy consumed to create a fixed amount of economic output) has declined by nearly half since 1970. Certainly since then, there has continued to be a well documented, if imperfect, correlation between high energy prices and recessions. But the overall trend has been energy prices’ decreasing influence on the overall economy.

That trend may just have reversed. Just as the high energy prices of the “stagflation” era inspired government to implement silly and illogical “solutions” ranging from confiscatory taxation to price controls, the current period of high energy prices has inspired government to an even stranger solution: to fix our energy problem, it proposes to burn up much of our food. (Mac Johnson, Energy Tribune)

Cereal stockpiles continue to fall - Cereal stockpiles are expected to hit their lowest level in over two decades, contributing to keeping their prices high, a U.N. food agency said.

The low stocks combined with continuously strong demand - also driven by the growing biofuels industry - to keep prices elevated, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report on the global food situation, which was being released Wednesday.

By the close of the current season, stocks are expected to fall to 405 million tons - down 22 million tons, or 5 percent, from the start of the season, the Rome-based agency said. It would be the lowest level since 1982.

The food-and-supply demand remains tight, despite an increase in cereal production in 2007 and favorable prospects in 2008, the agency said. (Associated Press)

Europe facing meat crisis over GM wrangle - Europe is facing a crisis in the supply of meat because of delays and political resistance in Brussels to the use of genetically modified protein in animal feed.

Shortages in grain for animal feed and soaring prices are wreaking havoc in the livestock sector, causing pig and poultry farmers to reduce their output, according to animal feed compounders and livestock associations.

The problem has been identified in an internal European Union report on the effect of EU policy towards the use of GM products in animal feed. A failure by the EU to speed up the approval of GM soya imports will significantly raise meat prices, an outcome that is directly attributable to European policies, the report concludes.

Europe is struggling to find enough vegetable protein to feed its livestock, causing feed prices to rise. The EU imports 80 per cent of its feed protein needs - mainly new traits of GM soya and corn.

Outside Europe, farmers increasingly are turning to GM crop varieties to get better yields, but the speed of the transition is leaving Europe stranded with fewer sources of supply, the European Feed Manufacturers Association (Fefa) said.

The problem is acute and is forcing farmers to cut back on the number of animals they rear, raising the threat of reduced meat supply. “We are looking at the collapse of the livestock industry,” Alexander Doring, the association’s secretary-general, said. (The Times)

February 13, 2008

Scientists, police lift lid on fake malaria drugs - LONDON - Scientists and police have exposed a major Asian trade in life-threatening fake malaria drugs, resulting in the seizure of hundreds of thousands of tablets and the arrest of a dealer in southern China.

Details of the unique collaboration, made public on Tuesday, highlight the growing threat posed by the trade in counterfeit medicines and the difficulty of tracing the suppliers.

The problem is acute in Southeast Asia, where researchers have identified counterfeit versions of the malaria drug artesunate as a problem since 1998. (Reuters)

“The problem is not ignorance, but preconceived ideas.” - Prepare to have some preconceived ideas blown away. Dr. Hans Rosling gave a fascinating animated talk last summer about our changing world that debunks some of the most common myths people hold about each other. Using international statistics, he illustrates what actually improves the health of people and reduces child mortalities.

Dr. Hans Rosling is a professor of international health at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. He has worked for twenty years in research on hunger and epidemics in Africa. He also founded, which converts international statistics into understandable and usable interactive graphics. While everyone may not agree on the solutions, its goal is to promote a fact-based world. (Junkfood Science)

EU Metal Producers Fret Over Cost of New REACh Law - BRUSSELS - A new European law on the handling of metals and chemicals is likely to cost metals firms billions of dollars and the exact terms of the new rules are still unclear, an industry conference heard late on Monday.

The directive — called REACh, or Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals — is designed to protect people and the environment from potentially hazardous materials found in manufactured goods, including clothing and vehicles.

"REACh is a huge financial burden for all of us," said Mark Mistry at the Environmental Department of Norddeutsche Affinerie (Reuters)

Most bizarre GW claim? Nessie a victim of global warming. - Veteran Loch Ness Monster Hunter Gives Up

Feb 13 2008 By Bob Dow

LEGENDARY Nessie hunter Robert Rines is giving up his search for the monster after 37 years.

The 85-year-old American will make one last trip in a bid to find the elusive beast.

After almost four decades of fruitless expeditions, he admitted: "Unfortunately, I’m running out of age."

World War II veteran Robert has devoted almost half his life to scouring Loch Ness.

He started in 1971. The following year, he watched a 25ft-long hump with the texture of elephant skin gliding through the water.

His original trip was to help another monster hunter with sonar equipment and quickly identified large moving targets.

He was smitten and returned the next year, which is when, he says: "I had the misfortune of seeing one of these things with my own eyes."

Since then, he has been obsessed with tracking down the creature with a staggering array of hi-tech equipment. It was this gear that took the famous "flipper" picture that year which created a stir around the world.

Despite having hundreds of sonar contacts over the years, the trail has since gone cold and Rines believes that Nessie may be dead, a victim of global warming. (Daily Record)

Polar ice pack loss may break 2007 record - Polar ice pack loss may break 2007 record
TREND: Ocean currents, global warming and wind combine to leave the Arctic ice fragile.


New data this winter on Arctic winds and currents indicate that next summer’s ice loss at the North Pole may be even greater than 2007’s record-setting shrinkage.

The last remnants of thick, old sea ice are dispersing, and the unusual weather cycles that contributed to last year’s loss of ice are continuing, a climatologist told an Anchorage conference Monday.

"The buoys are streaming out," said University of Washington climatologist Ignatius Rigor, referring to the satellite-tracked markers used to monitor the flushing of ice into the North Atlantic. Such a pattern preceded last summer’s record ice loss but was not expected to continue so strongly.

Scientists are watching the polar ice closely, trying to sort out the effects of global warming and natural cyclical changes. (ADN)

Relationship Of Family Tornado Outbreaks To La Niña - There have been claims that the recent family (multiple) outbreak of tornadoes in the southeast USA was due to global warming; e.g., see “Sen. Kerry Blames Tornadoes on Global Warming - former Democratic presidential nominees blames ‘intense storms’ that have killed more then 50 on climate change”

Such statements are extremely misleading.  Since the current global atmosphere is colder than the 1979-2008 average value for this time of the year;  see January), it is obvious that global warming cannot be the culprit.

Thus, rather than being global warming, or even attributed to the wider envelope of climate change, this recent tornado outbreak is what has always occurred since records have been kept, associated with La Niñas. (Climate Science)

Global warming ‘may save lives’ - The risk of a fatal heatwave in the UK within ten years is high, but overall global warming may mean fewer deaths due to temperature, a report says.

A seriously hot summer between now and 2017 could claim more than 6,000 lives, the Department of Health report warns.

But it also stresses that milder winters mean deaths during this time of year - which far outstrip heat-related mortality - will continue to decline.

The report is to help health services prepare for climate change effects. (BBC)

We could wish. Unfortunately there is no evidence the recovery from the Little Ice Age will continue.

Mayor Compares Threat of Global Warming to Terrorism - UNITED NATIONS — While he acknowledged that scientists are unable to predict its consequences, Mayor Bloomberg yesterday compared the scourge of global warming to the threat of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Although it is a "long-term" fight, he said, reducing gas emissions may save the life of "everybody" on the planet, the same way that fighting terrorism and its proliferation saves lives in shorter terms.

Addressing a U.N. climate change conference, the mayor also announced a new plan to reduce the use of tropical hardwoods by New York City and told delegates that the city plans to host a meeting in June of leaders from 20 major world cities to discuss ways for the largest municipalities to reduce global warming. Other participants in the conference called for a "war" against climate change, in which the United Nations would serve as a front-line combatant.

Mr. Bloomberg renewed his call, made first late last year, for taxing countries such as America that emit large amounts of carbons, which are believed to cause changes in the planet’s climate. "So long as there’s no penalty or cost involved in producing greenhouse gases, there will be no incentive" to meet targets set by international institutions, the mayor told the General Assembly. "For that reason, I believe the U.S. should enact a tax on carbon emissions.

"Terrorists kill people. Weapons of mass destruction have the potential to kill an enormous amount of people," Mr. Bloomberg told reporters after addressing the U.N. General Assembly, but "global warming in the long term has the potential to kill everybody." (New York Sun)

Carbon called real threat: Greenhouse gas restrictions are next, expert warns - The chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Monday that evidence of global warming is unequivocal, the climate is changing, and the United States needs to show leadership on an issue of global urgency.

In speeches to the Emerging Issues Forum at N.C. State University and a state legislative panel studying climate change, Rajendra Pachauri said the world is moving to an economy with restrictions on carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas.

"The global community must understand the urgency for action," said Pachauri, who earned graduate degrees from NCSU in the 1970s before returning to India to lead an environmental research and policy agency. He was elected to lead the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2002. "Climate change is happening today. It’s not something that is science fiction in the future." (The News & Observer)

CLIMATE CHANGE: Security Council Urged to Punish CO2 Offenders - UNITED NATIONS, Feb 12 (IPS) - The world’s small island nations are calling for the U.N. Security Council to help protect their lands and resources by using its authority to demand reductions of carbon dioxide emissions, and to penalise those nations that fail to comply.
"It is the obligation of the Security Council to prevent an aggravation of the situation," Palau’s ambassador Stuart Beck told delegates attending a two-day General Assembly meeting on climate change that started here Monday.

Describing the devastating impact of changing climates on small islands of the Pacific region, Beck said many people living along the coastlines are moving out of their ancestral lands because they have lost their sources of livelihood due to the rising water levels.

"While we do not have all the answers," said Beck, "we are not unmindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of this threat to international security and the existence of our countries."

Guess who ends up paying the bill? Bank of America Creates Environmental Banking Team - Bank of America Creates Environmental Banking Team

NEW YORK - Bank of America Corp, the second-largest US bank, is creating an environmental banking group focused on finding and financing ways to promote conservation and reduce global warming, Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis said Tuesday.

Lewis also called on the US Congress to create a cap-and-trade framework to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow the trading of allowances, favoring clear federal standards and a market-based mechanism to set emission values. (Reuters)

EU finance chiefs want say over climate change deal - EU finance chiefs want say over climate change deal

In their first discussion about the EU’s proposed climate change policies, the bloc’s finance ministers have warned that they should focus on market-based and cost-effective instruments, as well as global rather than regional solutions, which could hamper Europe’s competitiveness.

Finance chiefs from the 27 EU member states meeting in Brussels on Tuesday (12 February) said that although the envisaged policy package would have serious economic and fiscal implications, "the costs of action at the global level – at up to three per cent of global GDP by 2030 – are estimated to be far lower than the costs of inaction."

However, it can be only achieved "as long as both global solutions and cost-effective measures are implemented," ministers said in a statement. (EUobserver)

China’s 2030 CO2 Emissions Could Equal the Entire World’s Today - If China’s carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth, the country’s carbon dioxide emissions will reach 8 gigatons a year by 2030, which is equal to the entire world’s CO2 production today. That’s just the most stunning in a series of datapoints about the Chinese economy reported in a policy brief in the latest issue of the journal Science.

Coal power has been driving the stunning, seven plus percent a year growth in China’s economy. It’s long been said said that China was adding one new coal power plant per week to its grid. But the real news is worse: China is completing two new coal plants per week.

That power is being used to drive an enormous manufacturing expansion. China has increased steel production from 140 million tons in 2000 to 419 million tons in 2006, the authors report. Even more recent numbers from the International Iron and Steel Institute show China’s production leading the world at 489 million tons, more than double Japan and the US combined. That steel is getting used quickly too. In 1999, Chinese consumers bought 1.2 million cars. That number had increased 600% by 2006, when 7.2 million cars were sold. (Wired)

From CO2 Science this week:

Power-Plant Flue Gas Enhances the Productivity of Seagrass: The common seagrass -- Zostera marina (often called eelgrass) - thrives on CO2 produced by the burning of natural gas for electric power generation.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from the North Icelandic Shelf, North Atlantic Ocean. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Coral Reefs (History - South Pacific Ocean): What does the long-term history of coral reefs in this region suggest about their response to global warming?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Dallas Grass, Garden Pea, Garden Tomato, and Paper Birch.

Journal Reviews:
Global Warming and Tropical Cyclones: Do rising global temperatures promote the formation of more or stronger such storms?

The Beginning of the End of the Little Ice Age in Chile: When did it occur? ... and of what significance is the answer?

The Medieval Warm Period on Canada's Victoria Island: How does its inferred warmth compare with that of the Current Warm Period?

Three Decades of Carbon Storage in the USA's Great Smoky Mountains National Park: How did the amount of carbon stored in the ecosystem change between 1971 and 2001?

Can Elevated CO2 Enhance Woody-Plant Seedling Establishment in Treeless Grasslands?: It has long been claimed it can; and a new experiment suggests that the claim is correct.

Wendover, UTTemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Wendover, UT. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Wendover's mean annual temperature has cooled by 1.37 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here!

Conference Announcement:
2008 International Conference on Climate Change: An international conference on climate change will take place on March 2-4, 2008 in New York City, calling attention to widespread dissent to the alleged “consensus” that modern warming is primarily man-made and is a crisis. Read more about the conference by clicking on the link above. (

The Jevons’ Paradox - "It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth." [William Stanley Jevons (1835 - 1882)]
It is widely assumed that the more efficient use of a resource (e.g. energy or fuel) will automatically reduce both the consumption of that resource and consumption in general. This belief has fueled a widespread current trope that increasing energy efficiency is a ‘no-brainer’, whatever one thinks about ‘global warming’. But how valid is such an argument?
In 1865, the Liverpool-born logician and economist, William Stanley Jevons (1835 - 1882) [above], wrote an influential book, entitled The Coal Question; An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines (London: Macmillan & Co). Jevons observed that the consumption of coal rose rapidly after James Watt had introduced his coal-fired steam engine, which much improved the efficiency of Thomas Newcomen’s earlier designs. Watt’s innovations made coal a more cost effective source of power, leading to an increased use of the steam engine in a wider range of industries. This in turn increased total coal consumption, even though the amount of coal required for any particular application dropped through efficiency gains.
This phenomenon has become known as Jevons’ Paradox, and we hear remarkably little about it these days. Indeed, somewhat paradoxically, it appears to be the last thing politicians would like us to contemplate. The basic paradox goes thus: any increase in the efficiency with which energy is employed will cause a concomitant decrease in the price or cost of that resource when measured in terms of ‘work’ done. Thus, with a lower price/cost per unit of work, more ‘work’ will be purchased. This additional ‘work’ need not be for the same product, as it was with Jevons’ coal, but it may be displaced into the purchase of new product ranges or ‘work’. To put it simply: if I save money by insulating my home, I may use those savings to buy an additional computer, a patio heater, or holiday abroad. The degree of additional ‘work’, or displacement, will depend above all on the price elasticity of demand.
Thus, the more a government subsidises so-called ‘energy efficiency’, the more I shall be able to use the money saved to buy further energy-using goods and services, which may well increase my overall energy demand. If my car is more energy efficient, I may well decide that I can make many more journeys.

Read the rest at Global Warming Politics

Greenhouse Affect - Greenhouse Affect
February 13, 2008; Page A26

The ink is still moist on Capitol Hill’s latest energy bill and, as if on cue, a scientific avalanche is demolishing its assumptions. To wit, trendy climate-change policies like ethanol and other biofuels are actually worse for the environment than fossil fuels. Then again, Washington’s energy neuroses are more political than practical, so it’s easy for the Solons and greens to ignore what would usually be called evidence.

The rebukes arrive via two new studies in Science, a peer-reviewed journal not known for right-wing proclivities. The first, by ecologists at Princeton and the Woods Hole Research Center, reviews the environmental consequences of increased biofuel consumption, which had never been examined comprehensively. Of course, that didn’t stop Congress and the Bush Administration from jacking up the U.S. mandate to 36 billion gallons by 2022, a fivefold increase from a mere two years ago. Such policies are supposedly justified because corn-based ethanol and other "alternatives" result in (very modest) reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions when mixed with gasoline. (WSJ)

Senate panel reworks bill on coal-fired plants - Senate panel reworks bill on coal-fired plants

By John Hanna - Associated Press Writer

February 12, 2008

Topeka — A Senate committee endorsed an energy bill Monday that would allow two coal power plants in southwest Kansas after stripping out what would have been the state’s first limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

The Utilities Committee’s 6-2 vote sent the measure to the full Senate for debate, probably later this week.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius criticized the rewritten bill.

Firms say carbon commitment is a curb too many - British companies are becoming increasingly anxious that government measures to tackle climate change could make the UK uncompetitive. (The Guardian)

EU Ministers Urge Caution on Cost of Climate Plan - EU Ministers Urge Caution on Cost of Climate Plan

BRUSSELS - The European Union’s move to a low-carbon economy to fight climate change must not harm its competitiveness, the bloc’s finance ministers said on Tuesday.

The executive European Commission last month proposed an ambitious package of measures to help the 27-nation bloc cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, partly by using more green energy sources.

"The Council supports the leading role of the EU when it comes to energy and climate change. However we have to make sure this transfer to a low carbon economy will be carried out in a sustainable manner so economic growth is sustainable and public finances do not suffer too much," Andrej Bajuk, finance minister of EU president Slovenia, told a news conference.

Finance ministers discussed the economic impact and cost of the energy and climate change strategy at their monthly meeting, including such issues as subsidising renewable sources such as wind, wave and solar power, and biofuels made from plants.

"We need to take into account all costs incumbent from the climate energy package proposals. We are talking of very expensive programmes which we believe should be kept within the framework of market forces and efficiency," Bajuk said. (Reuters)

London Traffic Tax Hike Prompts N.Y. Concern - London Traffic Tax Hike Prompts N.Y. Concern

February 13, 2008

Opponents of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan fear that a large fee hike just announced in London may be reproduced here.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who implemented congestion pricing in 2003, said yesterday there would be new fees to the city’s congestion scheme that will charge drivers of high-emission vehicles such as powerful sports cars and sport utility vehicles nearly $50 to drive into the city, while the standard $16 fee on other cars will be waived for fuel-efficient hybrids. Mr. Livingstone, who has the authority to implement the changes unilaterally, said the new charges would begin in October.

The changes in London are providing fodder for critics of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, which would have to be approved by the City Council and in Albany. Critics say fees for cars entering Manhattan’s congestion zone, set under Mr. Bloomberg’s plan at around $8, will rise steeply in the future.

"What happened in London will happen in New York," Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I know it’s the next step. They’re trying to raise more money." (New York Sun)

Norway Climate Goals to Rely on Quotas - Researchers - OSLO - Norway will rely on buying greenhouse gas quotas abroad to meet a self-imposed goal of curbing emissions by more than demanded by the UN’s Kyoto Protocol until 2012, researchers said on Tuesday.

Norway, which says its targets for combating global warming are among the toughest in the world, says it will axe emissions by about nine percent below 1990 levels by 2012 — tougher than a Kyoto goal of a maximum one percent rise.

But scientists at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo (CICERO) said there will be scant new cuts in Norway where overall emissions are likely to rise in coming years, led by the oil and gas sector.

"Norway’s most important measures to reach the goals of the Kyoto Protocol seem likely to be measures already in place, together with purchases of quotas from the European Union and developing countries," said Steffen Kalbekken of CICERO.

Policies already in place include cutting use of heating oil and favouring biofuels. The government has set overall goals for 2012, but has been vague about how they will be achieved.

Kalbekken said that emissions by Norway, the world’s number five oil exporter, were set to rise to 58 million tonnes in 2010 from 50 million in 1990 and 53.5 million tonnes in 2006. (Reuters)

In China, Scramble Continues in Coal Country - DATONG, China — At the mouth of the Tashan mine, one of the largest coal mines in China, men in hard hats waited to begin another shift a quarter mile underground. Lunch break was over. Their faces were smeared with black coal dust as a dingy white truck carried them down an underground road to the floor of the mine.

“We’re working pretty much all the time,” said a man with a small lamp hooked around his neck before he climbed onto the truck and disappeared into the dark tunnel.

In China, Thursday marked the Lunar New Year and ushered in the Year of the Rat. For Chinese families, especially those of migrant workers, the holiday offers an annual opportunity to reunite. Yet for miners here in coal country, Thursday was just another workday. Vacations have been canceled. China is too desperate for coal to allow them a day off. (New York Times)

[New Zealand] Govt must face reality over carbon plan - [New Zealand] Govt must face reality over carbon plan
5:00AM Wednesday February 13, 2008
By Fran O’Sullivan 

The Business Roundtable and the Petroleum Exploration Production Association were inevitably side-swiped by Climate Change Minister David Parker and the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development when they released their "get real study" into the cost of making New Zealand carbon neutral in a high-growth environment.

The organisations argue that the Government can not hope to pursue a goal of getting New Zealand back into the top half of the OECD nations on an income per capita basis at the same time as it pursues an objective for New Zealand to become "carbon neutral." This is just fantasy land. (New Zealand Herald)

Parks face overpopulation of elk - Growing elk herds are causing problems for other animals by eating a majority of the greenery at national parks in Colorado and the Dakotas, park officials say.

Officials at the parks must decide on a method of culling their growing elk herds, The Washington Post reported Monday. (UPI)

Dramatic declines in wild salmon populations are associated with exposure to farmed salmon - Since the late 1970s, salmon aquaculture has grown into a global industry, producing over 1 million tons of salmon per year. However, this solution to globally declining fish stocks has come under increasing fire. In a new study published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, Jennifer Ford and Ransom Myers provide the first evidence on a global scale illustrating systematic declines in wild salmon populations that come into contact with farmed salmon. (Public Library of Science)

Regulators allow horseshoe crab harvest - The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council has declined to extend a moratorium on horseshoe crab harvesting aimed at protecting migrating shore birds.

Environmentalists blame the increased catch of horseshoe crabs for a decline in the numbers of the red knot. The birds, which migrate from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic, make a pit stop on the Delaware Bay while the crabs are laying their eggs. (UPI)

Wildlife Service wants out of sage grouse agreement - BOISE, Idaho -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked a federal judge to allow it to withdraw from a recent agreement concerning a timeline for deciding whether sage grouse should be listed as an endangered species across much of the Rocky Mountain West.

The agency, in documents filed in U.S. District Court here, said it "inadvertently" entered into the agreement without proper review, and that the agreement could delay its decision about whether the chicken-sized grouse deserves federal protection.

Such a declaration could lead to new restrictions on residential, oil and gas and agricultural development.

Laird Lucas, a lawyer representing the environmental group Western Watersheds Project, said the group on Wednesday plans to file a brief arguing against the agency's request. (Associated Press)

Controversy erupts over banning Furadan - The American Bird Conservancy said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is being pressured to reverse a ban on the use of a pesticide.

Conservancy officials said some members of Congress and the FMC Corp., manufacturer of the pesticide carbofuran that's sold as Furadan, are pressuring the EPA to reverse its 2006 decision to cancel the registration of all uses of carbofuran. (UPI)

GM crop use to double by 2015, study predicts - GM crop use to double by 2015, study predicts

By Salamander Davoudi in London

Agricultural use of genetically modified crops across the world has increased almost 70-fold in the past 10 years, breaking the 100m-hectare mark, and is set to double by 2015, according to a study released today.

GM Crops ‘Increase Pesticide Use’ — FoE - GM Crops ‘Increase Pesticide Use’
Friends of the Earth International In 2007 GM crops still failed to tackle hunger and poverty in developing countries

BRUSSELS (BELGIUM), LAGOS (NIGERIA), KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA) — February 13, 2008 — A new report released on February 13th shows that planting genetically modified (GM) crops is causing an increased use of harmful pesticides in major biotech crop producing countries. (One World)

Well, glyphosate is toxic — to weeds and weeds are pests — so they are partly correct in that this pesticide is used in preference to tilling with its associated ills of erosion, loss of soil carbon and structure, increased input costs in fossil fuels…

Modified sweet beet seeds leave many sour - Groups sue USDA over environmental impact of variey that is resistant to herbicide

Even sugar starts with a seed.

And like most agricultural activities, the long process that turns a seed into sugar goes on quietly, without most of us taking much notice until we taste something sweet.

Half of the sugar consumed in the United States comes from sugar beets.

And more than 90 percent of sugar beet seeds are grown right here in the Willamette Valley, as part of a robust seed-growing economy that includes vegetable and flower seed, and — ask any sniffly valley dweller in the spring — grass seed.

Now sugar beet seed is getting a lot of attention after word among area seed growers revealed that the majority of this year’s crop probably would be genetically modified.

While the use of certain types of genetically modified seed already is approved, some farmers, environmentalists, food safety advocates and consumers remain concerned about potentially harmful effects on human health and the environment. (Portland Tribune)

Brazil gives final permit for GMO corn varieties - SAO PAULO, Feb 12 - Brazil's National Biosafety Council (CNBS) gave the final clearance on Tuesday for two varieties of genetically modified corn for commercial use.

The varieties were insect-resistant MON 810 produced by Monsanto and Liberty Link made by Bayer CropScience, which is resistant to the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium.

"From the science and technology point of view, it was considered that the approved seeds are safe for human and animal consumption, and for the environment," Brazil's science minister, Sergio Rezende, told reporters.

The varieties had been approved by Brazil's biosafety regulator CTNBio in 2007, but their use still depended on the council's decision.

These were the first GMOs to receive final clearance for commercial use in Brazil since 2005, when the government passed a new biosafety law which created the CNBS. (Reuters)

February 12, 2008

JFS Exclusive: Show Biz medicine - Infommercials come in all types of formats, even talk shows. In fact, talk shows may be more influential, as we’ve come to trust their hosts and see them as friends we invite into our homes, as opposed to network newscasters reading prepared scripts bought by millions of advertising dollars. This past week, approximately ten million viewers watched a one-hour talk show promoting bariatric surgery for young teens, ages 13, 15 and 16. All of the children, still in the post-op honeymoon period, were portrayed as healthier, happier and doing great. Their surgeries were called “a success.”

It would have been a very different show had viewers been given the full story. (Junkfood Science)

Spam at heart of South Pacific obesity crisis - It was lampooned by Monty Python and spurned by British shoppers, but Spam is fuelling a "raging epidemic" of diabetes, strokes and heart disease among the previously lithe inhabitants of the South Pacific.

Another of Britain's colonial culinary legacies - corned beef - is also being blamed for a rise in obesity-related illnesses in countries once known for muscled warriors and slim-hipped maidens.

Countries across the region - many of them former British territories, from Tonga to Tuvalu - are struggling to deal with a health crisis caused by poor diet and not enough exercise.

Where once islanders ate fish, vegetables and coconuts, burning off excess calories by casting nets from canoes and farming small plots of land, now they eat tinned, processed food and drive to the nearest shop. (London Telegraph)

Eek! Ice age! GISTEMP records -0.75 °C year on year! - Well, not really anything about a looming ice age but it is interesting to see the ‘House of Hansen’ record such a dramatic temperature decline year on year. What do you suppose are the chances of MSM headlines along the lines: "Planet gives up bulk of last century’s warming in just one year" or "Planet’s temperature plunges as fever turns to chill"?

Us neither. Anyway, here’s the story:

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies GISTEMP+dSST series chases the satellite temperatures down.

La Nina Pacific Cooling May Last to Mid-Year - UN - GENEVA - A sea-surface cooling in the Pacific, which may have contributed to strong hurricanes in the United States and a freeze-up in China, could last at least until mid-year, the UN weather body WMO said on Monday.

The cooling pattern, known as La Nina, alternates naturally with a warming effect called El Nino, and both have been associated with extreme weather around the globe.

"Information coming in indicates that the likelihood of La Nina conditions in the central and eastern Pacific remains heightened through the second quarter," said Rupa Kumar Kolli, climatological expert at the World Meteorological Organisation.

Presenting the Geneva-based body's latest update on the ocean cycle, he said it was also possible, if less likely, that the present La Nina cycle could stretch into the third quarter.

Longer-term statistics suggested that the decline of the La Nina would be followed by a "neutral" period at least for the second half of 2008, Kolli added, rather than a rapid transition to an El Nino. (Reuters)

2007 Hurricane Season Starts Early, Ends Late - The Atlantic Hurricane Season began early in 2007, and by mid-December it was still going. The season officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. That means that for the most part, storms have formed and fizzled between those dates, or they used to.

NASA satellites were watching and providing data from the beginning when Andrea kicked off the season on May 9 when she formed 150 miles northeast of Daytona Beach, Florida. On Dec. 10, 2007, Sub-Tropical Storm Olga formed to the east of Hispaniola.

The hurricane season produced 2 tropical depressions and 15 tropical storms, six of which became hurricanes. That's a little more than average. The storms that became hurricanes were: Dean, Felix, Humberto, Karen, Lorenzo and Noel. (NASA/GSFC)

How do you think heat trapping gases and global warming works? - Media and activists love to talk of "heat trapping" CO2 and "global warming" but what does the general public take away from this?

What does Hansen’s clever imagery and snappy caption make people believe is happening or can be expected to happen in the near future?

tiny lightbulbs heating the planet

HUMAN-MADE climate forcings, mainly greenhouse gases, heat the earth’s surface at a rate of about two watts per square meter—the equivalent of two tiny one-watt bulbs burning over every square meter of the planet. The full effect of the warming is slowed by the ocean, because it can absorb so much heat. The ocean’s surface begins to warm, but before it can heat up much, the surface water is mixed down and replaced by colder water from below. Scientists now think it takes about a century for the ocean to approach its new temperature.

Is the planet heating at two Watts per square meter (2 Joules per second over every square meter of the surface)?

What effect would this have if heating were retained in the atmosphere, how much would it warm?

What effect would dispersal through various depths of the oceans have on mean temperature increment?

Think about it, talk about it and, when you are ready, check out The curious Incident of the added heat at the surface. In that file you’ll find some discussion of enhanced greenhouse forcing and a simple climate model you can use to calculate the expected warming over one year with a given level of carbon dioxide.

A 2,000-Year Global Temperature Record - Over the past decade, considerable debate existed regarding the temperature history of the Earth on the time scale of millennia. If you followed our discussion on the subject, you know that one camp would like you believe that the highly-publicized warming of the planet over the past century is absolutely unprecedented over the past few thousand years. This group seems to fixate on the “hockey stick” representation of the temperature history of the past 1,000 years, and they hold on to the stick in spite of evidence to the contrary. Many others have argued based on proxy evidence throughout the world that the past few thousand years include a very warm period 1,000 years ago and a cold period 500 years ago; in their eyes, the warming of the past century is not at all unusual. These folks even go on to suggest that the Earth today may not be yet as warm as conditions 1,000 years ago, despite the 100 ppm increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past century. (WCR)

Oh my goodness. The wasted time and effort this nonsense encourages - Malaria warning as UK becomes warmer
By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 12/02/2008

The UK is to be hit by regular malaria outbreaks, fatal heatwaves and contaminated drinking water within five years because of global warming, the Government has warned the NHS.

Following a major consultation with climate change scientists, the Government is issuing official advice to hospitals, care homes and institutions for dealing with rising temperatures, increased flooding, gales and other major weather events.

It warns that there is a high likelihood of a major heatwave, leading to as many as 10,000 deaths, hitting the UK by 2012.

All institutions have been told they must come up with a comprehensive plan on how to deal with the issues resulting from climate change.

Hospitals are also warned to prepare for outbreaks of malaria and tick-born viruses, as well as increased levels of skin cancer and deaths from asthma and other breathing conditions. (London Telegraph)

New Greenland ice sheet data will impact climate change models - A comprehensive new study authored by University at Buffalo scientists and their colleagues for the first time documents in detail the dynamics of parts of Greenland’s ice sheet, important data that have long been missing from the ice sheet models on which projections about sea level rise and global warming are based. (University at Buffalo)

Ever wondered about the raw heat required to melt large volumes of ice? We've written a script that derives time-independent results in the form of x amount of heat sufficient to raise the temperature of the atmosphere y amount and z % is transferred to melting ice how much would that melt water raise sea levels? You can also see how much temperature increase would be required for a given sea level rise.

Warmth is life-friendly — and that’s… bad? - Insect explosion ‘a threat to food crops’

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Researchers found that the numbers of leaf-eating insects are likely to surge as a result of rising levels of CO2, at a time when crop production will have to be boosted to feed an extra three billion people living at the end of 21st century.

Scientists found that, during one of the last great episodes of global warming 55.8 million years ago, there was a significant increase in both the amount of damage caused by leaf-eating insects and the variety of injuries they inflicted on plants. (London Independent)

Not a good combination - Lawyers Focus on Climate Change Implications, Greening Operations

NEW YORK, Feb. 12, 2008 — Former New York Gov. George E. Pataki is spearheading a climate change law practice to help clients deal with the legal and economic effects of a warming planet. (

NY Company Buys First Californian Forest Carbon Credits - NEW YORK - US carbon asset manager Natsource LLC said on Monday it has invested in the first forest-based greenhouse gas emissions reductions under California rules.

Natsource paid a private owner of a redwood forest in Humboldt County represented by nonprofit group the Pacific Forest Trust for credits representing 60,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The company declined to say how much it paid for the credits, but a source familiar with the deal said Natsource bought the credits for "well below" $10 per tonne. (Reuters)

You don’t want coal? We know people who do - China Spurs Coal-Price Surge
By SHAI OSTER in Beijing and ANN DAVIS in Houston
February 12, 2008; Page A1

China is doing for coal what it once did for oil: pushing prices to new highs, adding more pressure to the creaking global economy.

China has long been a huge supplier of coal to itself and the rest of the world. But in the first half of last year, it imported more than it exported for the first time, setting off a near-doubling of most coal prices around the world. The capper came in late January when a winter of punishing snowstorms and power shortages led Beijing to suspend coal exports for at least two months.

Just since then, Asian prices have shot up an additional 34%. Last week, coal benchmarks hit all-time highs in the U.S., Europe and Asia. That’s adding to worries over global inflation already stoked by rising prices for everything from crude oil to cattle feed. "The velocity of the change has been remarkable," says Thomas Hoffman, senior vice president for external affairs for U.S.-based coal supplier Consol Energy Inc., which he says is considering holding off on some commitments to supply coal to see if prices rise even further. (Wall Street Journal)

ANALYSIS - Solar Power Boom Faces First Test - LONDON / FRANKFURT - Prospects for the solar power sector are puzzling investors juggling on one hand a possible dotcom-style bust and on the other fresh support in Europe, home to a third of the world's market.

The solar power industry uses the same silicon raw material as the semiconductor industry and may share a similar boom-bust path, according to some analysts.

The semiconductor industry collapsed in 2000 amid a dotcom bust which pulled demand for electronic chips.

Solar companies saw their share prices skyrocket last year but many endured a steep fall in January, halving in the case of one market leader Oslo's Renewable Energy Corporation.

Such falls reflected a view that solar power valuations had run ahead of themselves. High profits plus low barriers to entry have attracted new manufacturers from China and the prospect of more serious over-capacity looms is now dividing opinions. (Reuters)

February 11, 2008

How low is good enough? - When we’re afraid, it’s natural to want to eliminate anything associated with a health problem. The health benefits possible when an extraordinarily high health indice is reduced doesn’t mean, however, that a lower and lower number will ensure greater and greater protection. “How low can you go?” is a concept most often based on fear, rather than good scientific evidence of benefits that outweigh the risks for us. (Junkfood Science)

Oh my... "You Can See the Whole Hemisphere Breathing" Interview with Dr. Ralph Keeling - VANCOUVER, Feb 8 - Dr. Ralph Keeling is a climate change expert who explores how rises in carbon dioxide influence global oxygen levels.

He is a professor at Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and the son of Charles David Keeling, the pioneering climate scientist who began to measure carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa in Hawaii in 1957. The data collection started by Dr. Charles Keeling and continued at Mauna Loa is the longest continuous record of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the world.

Ralph Keeling spoke with IPS correspondent Am Johal from his lab at Scripps.

IPS: There still seems to be this gap between the science of climate change and the public policy debate. Do you have a sense of the barriers to knowledge translation, so that these scientific realities can make it out to the broader public so there is a cultural impact and a demonstrable affect on public policy?

RK: We are treading new ground in this from a global warming perspective as a civilisation in new ways. The nature of the threat -- which is that we will see negative consequences, mostly decades or more in the future -- is the kind of threat which has historically been ignored by human civilisations historically.

Human nature tends to focus on the immediate and assume that something 10 years down the road can be dealt with later. What people are being asked to do and reduce the impact and make some sacrifices now that might pay off decades in the future, I think it takes a really deep understanding of the problem in a way to even consider that. We're not quite there yet, quite honestly, as a civilisation.

We're going to need graphic images of damage where people see suffering and feel it in their own experiences. We are being called upon to reinvent our game -- civilisation as a whole, I mean, and it is a troubling thing for people to contemplate doing. (IPS)

... that's one of the huge problems with the whole enhanced greenhouse thing -- just because we can measure a rise in atmospheric trace gas does not mean catastrophe is sure to follow. Even if the warming theory says should have occurred is being absorbed by the oceans and so dispersed we cannot detect it then that simply means that average warming even from a quadrupling of pre-Industrial Revolution levels will be very small. If it is not being absorbed by the oceans then it is simply not happening and the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis needs to be reworked.

Earth’s orbit creates more than a leap year - The Earth’s orbital behaviors are responsible for more than just presenting us with a leap year every four years. According to Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, parameters such as planetary gravitational attractions, the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun and the degree of tilt of our planet’s axis with respect to its path around the sun, have implications for climate change and the advent of ice ages. (Washington University in St. Louis)

It’d be hilarious if people weren’t so gullible - I haven’t done a Lexis-Nexis search but it’s a pretty safe bet Hansen is a front-runner for the position of most-quoted global warming hysteric, on or off NASA’s payroll. Gagged? You couldn’t shut him up with a mouth full of marbles and 12 feet of wet cement! The absurd claim “They’re trying to silence me!” scored the media-savvy activist even more ink. “He was effectively to disappear.” Sheesh!

Al Gore’s Amen Corner - Hailed as a "Baptist prophet," Al Gore brought his Gospel of Global Warming to Jimmy Carter’s rally for leftist Baptists at a New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta last week.  Gore toted a green Bible as he warned of Old Testament style famine and flood unless the planet hearkens unto the most apocalyptic of Global Warming scare stories. (Mark D. Tooley,

What’s the collective noun for rent seekers? - Hundreds of big investors and top executives will descend on the United Nations headquarters next Thursday to grapple with Wall Street’s latest fashionable worry: how global warming is affecting the climate — for investing.

ICE AGE OR LIE AGE? - “It is difficult to believe that even idiots ever succumbed to such transparent contradictions, to such gaudy processions of mere counter-words, to so vast and obvious nonsensicality …” –H.L. Mencken

I recently interviewed Mark Lynas, author of ‘Six Degrees Could Change The World’. He was promoting the two hour world premier on the National Geographic Channel of the documentary based on his book. I watched the DVD he had sent along with his book and was incensed to hear Alec Baldwin announce “the debate is over.” BULLFEATHERS! (Geoff Metcalf,

Dangerous ‘Druids’: Williams & Suzuki - The British people are a little bit like buried peat - extremely slow to burn, but rarely bursting out into angry flames. Yet, every now and then, a tinder box is ignited, and the resultant fiery fury is intense.
The incredibly ill-judged comments of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Douglas Williams, DD, PC, FBA, aka ‘The Druid’, on Sharia law and the British state have lit such a fuse [for an outstanding comment on this, see that of The Times Religion Correspondent, Ruth Gledhill, on her blog (February 7): ‘Has the Archbishop gone bonkers?’]. His foolishness is that of a naive intellectual who has no contact with the real world. He has imposed fear on women, and on many Muslims themselves [see, for example: Joan Smith: ‘British women are already suffering from Islamic law’, The Independent on Sunday, February 10]. He has poured oil onto an already searing conflagration. 
Nevertheless, Williams is not unique is his blindness. A slow burn in the British public over establishment ‘PC-ness-gone-mad’ has been long smouldering dangerously, a magma chamber too little sensed by our politicians and leaders. So this week, because of the media stupidity of one turbulent priest, the volcano has exploded into a raging inferno that will be extremely hard to dampen down. Indeed, the Archbishop may have to go.
Environmentalism too
But it isn’t just about Sharia law, as the irrepressible Jeremy Clarkson pointed out in typically vivid language [slightly cheap, I know] in yesterday’s The Sun [‘I’ll follow LAWS of my religion…’, The Sun, February 9]:
“… on Christmas Day, he harangued us all about how the planet would be a killed by our greed and our Range Rovers.
A bit rich coming from a man who heads up one of the richest institutions in the world . . . but who won’t let homeless people into its buildings at night in case they nick the communion wine…
What’s more, we shouldn’t forget that the number of people killed by greed-induced global warming is about nought. Whereas the number of people killed by religious wars is around 809 million.”
Parallel Slow Burn: PC greenery
As I go around talking to folk, I increasingly uncover a parallel slow burn over the PC greenery of our leaders and much of the media. People are fed up with being lectured about everything from light bulbs to flying. You can detect an anger-release as soon as you start to argue the case against ‘global warming’ hysteria and the political shenanigans that surround it. The relief is palpable - somebody, at last, who is willing to tell it as it is.
Clarkson - and nearly every corner of the commentariat, for that matter - is rightly scathing about the Archbishop:
“He seems to think that the Church of England is a soap box on to which he can clamber to deliver lectures that would disgrace even a sixth form debating society. (Global Warming Politics)

This La Nina and PDO Flip and Possible Implications for a Global Cooling - Early in January 2007, the Phil Jones of the UK Hadley center predicted that 2007 would be the warmest on record due to the El Nino, which some scientists including Hansen predicted could be the strongest in history. Well of course the El Nino quickly faded and La Nina slowly came on during 2007. Temperatures globally cooled, starting in the Southern Hemisphere winter and then transitioning into the Northern Hemisphere winter. At the end of the year, the Hadley center announced it was the 7th warmest, blaming the oncoming La Nina for the cooling and busted forecast. This January, MSU satellite data indicated the globe was cooler than the 1979-98 average for the first time in years. (Joseph D’Aleo, CCM)

Solar Activity Diminishes; Researchers Predict Another Ice Age - Global Cooling comes back in a big way

Dr. Kenneth Tapping is worried about the sun. Solar activity comes in regular cycles, but the latest one is refusing to start. Sunspots have all but vanished, and activity is suspiciously quiet. The last time this happened was 400 years ago — and it signaled a solar event known as a "Maunder Minimum,"  along with the start of what we now call the "Little Ice Age."

Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada’s National Research Council, says it may be happening again. Overseeing a giant radio telescope he calls a "stethoscope for the sun," Tapping says, if the pattern doesn’t change quickly, the earth is in for some very chilly weather.

During the Little Ice Age, global temperatures dropped sharply. New York Harbor froze hard enough to allow people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island, and in Britain, people reported sighting eskimos paddling canoes off the coast. Glaciers in Norway grew up to 100 meters a year, destroying farms and villages.

But will it happen again? (Daily Tech)

Winter Storms Squeeze Supplies of Road Salt - Local governments in New England and in the Midwest are running critically low on road salt, the result of a stream of winter weather that has hit the regions in recent months.

“We are, for all practical purposes, out of salt,” said Bruce Hoar, director of public works in South Burlington, Vt., adding that other towns in the area face the same problem.

With so many municipalities in need of salt, suppliers cannot ship it out quickly enough. Public works departments are left waiting for days or weeks to receive their orders.

“It’s supply and demand,” said Richard L. Hanneman, president of the Salt Institute, a nonprofit trade association. “We’re scrambling. We haven’t heard of any agency that hasn’t been able to keep the roads open or safe, but there’s a lot of anxiety.” (New York Times)

Canadian Province Adds Protection For Polar Bears - WINNIPEG, Manitoba - The western Canadian province of Manitoba named the polar bear a threatened species on Thursday, enabling it to restrict new development on its Arctic shoreline, where hundreds of the big white bears spend several weeks each year.

"We must continue to take action to protect one of our province’s most unique species, which is clearly being affected by climate change," Stan Struthers, the province’s conservation minister, said in a release. (Reuters)

Has atmospheric CO2 decreased? A different way to look at CO2 changes - Joe Daleo, the number one guy over at, recently sent me the CDIAC (ice core) CO2 data as criticized in Beck (2007) and asked me what I made of it. Now, this data has been pored over by the great and small, so should we expect any revelations along the lines of “Has CO2 actually decreased?” Well…see below. I don’t often see this data pictured in one particular way that I find instructive, so I wanted to show it to you. (William M Briggs, Statistician)

Japan Says Can Meet Kyoto Goals - TOKYO - Japan will be able to meet its greenhouse gas emissions limits agreed under the Kyoto Protocol through additional, mainly voluntary, agreements with industry, a government panel said. (Reuters)

Japan Aims For Emissions Trade With Russia - Media - TOKYO - Japan and Russia have agreed to start talks on fighting global warming, including possible greenhouse gas emissions trading that would help Tokyo to meet its goals under the Kyoto Protocol, media said on Sunday. (Reuters)

India plans non-targets climate action - India has foreshadowed new measures to tackle climate change - with no commitment to halt the growth in rising greenhouse gas emissions.

In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his government would release a climate change action plan in mid 2008 that would focus on spurring clean technology investment, energy efficiency measures and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Singh reiterated India’s stance on the subject of internationally-agreed binding targets saying the country would only commit to capping per-capita emissions at no greater than the average of the industrialised world.

Such a policy gives India enormous scope for allowing emissions to grow along with the rapidly expanding economy – its emissions are only around one tonne of CO2 equivalent per person on average compared to 19-20 tonnes for each person in the biggest per-capita emitting nations, the United States and Australia.

Singh enunciated a principle of “climate justice” saying the high per-capita emitters must not be allowed to maintain high emissions and that India would not commit to cutting overall emissions while lifting its people out of poverty.

A number of industrialised nations outside Europe don’t want to commit to new targets to cut emissions in absolute terms until leading developing world emitters India and China agree to do the same. (Carbon Positive)

Pollock harvest snares salmon - More than 120,000 chinook were accidentally caught last year, leading to requests for more regulations on trawlers

SEATTLE -- The Bering Sea trawl fleets last year set a new and unwelcome catch record: Their vessels accidentally snared more than 120,000 chinook salmon as they dropped their nets in pursuit of pollock in North America's biggest seafood harvest.

The chinook are the largest of Pacific salmon, a prized catch in coastal and river harvests in Alaska, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Last year's big accidental haul by the pollock fleet has prompted Alaska native groups, the Canadian government and conservationists to push for new restrictions on Bering Sea trawl operations. (Seattle Times)

Do you think this could have anything to do with reduced runs? Nah! Must be global warming.

Rock-rabbit population dwindling - SACRAMENTO -- Department of Fish and Game biologists are recommending that the state deny endangered species status for the mountain-dwelling America pika, a relative of the rabbit.

Researchers have found shrinking pika populations throughout the mountains of Nevada and Utah. They say global warming is the main cause.

But Department of Fish and Game biologists say they found inadequate evidence that pika numbers are dropping in California. They're recommending that the Fish and Game Commission reject a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity asking for endangered species status for the pika.

The pika, or rock-rabbit, is adapted to colder temperatures at elevations above the tree line. The 6-inch-long rodent can overheat and die within an hour at temperatures above 70 degrees.

The population has been dwindling and drifting to ever- higher elevations, but biologists fear it eventually will run out of mountain. (Associated Press)

Lawmakers push for "green-collar" jobs as climate change looms - In a town still reeling from the closure of a massive coal mine, dozens of students train each year to work in the energy industry, immersing themselves in the intricacies of power generation and plant design.

Many move on to apprenticeships at places like the Bonneville Power Administration or the Grand Coulee Dam, or jobs at power companies like Seattle Steam.

The executive director of the Center for Excellence for Energy Technology at Centralia College hopes her graduates will be part of an emerging "green collar" work force envisioned by state lawmakers, who want to spark the creation of 25,000 such jobs in Washington state by 2020. (Associated Press)

GM: Oppose State Greenhouse Gas Laws - General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner urged a group of auto dealers Saturday to lobby against individual states trying to set their own limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Wagoner, speaking to the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco, said several states want to go beyond requirements passed by Congress.

If that happens and automakers must focus on state regulations, they won't be able to focus as much on alternative fuel vehicles to reduce oil consumption and pollution, he said.

"We're not going to be able to accomplish everything that we otherwise could," Wagoner said.

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson in December denied a federal waiver that would have allowed California to enact its own law slashing greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

Other states could then have followed suit and 12 were ready to do so, with others making preparations. (Associated Press)

Setback for Darling's 'green fund' initiative - The idea, also backed by the US government and Japan, would, for example, help pay for sustainable energy supplies rather than the use of fossil fuels for power generation. The communique of the G7 summit of finance ministers in Tokyo stated merely that they group had "discussed" the idea, and there was no immediate move on the part of France, Germany, Italy or Canada to sign up.

The communique noted that the fund would complement "existing bilateral and multilateral efforts in providing financial support for the deployment of clean technologies in developing countries" and the G7 acknowledged the need to "scale up" investment in developing countries to support them in joining international efforts to deal with climate change. (London Independent)

Our Energy Deficit - Energy: With a $160 billion stimulus package sitting on the president’s desk and energy prices headed back up, it’s high time to start talking about giving our economy a real, long-term boost by driving down the price of oil. (IBD)

Nuclear energy: Power play - Maryland’s Allegheny Energy recently mailed two compact fluorescent light bulbs to each of its customers. Imagine the indignation when those customers noticed a $12 charge for the unsolicited mailing.

Despite promises that the bulbs would save money, help the environment and prevent blackouts, Allegheny’s customers were peeved. They wrote letters to editors and lit fires under local politicians. Allegheny relented and agreed to pay for the bulbs.

This incident raises an important question. Why was a power company compelled to pull a stunt that predictably raised the ire of their customers? (Jack Spencer, Washington Times)

Clean Power or Dirty Coal? - Opposition to new coal-fired power plants built without new technology — that is, without the capacity to capture greenhouse gas emissions — is rising on both Wall Street and Main Street. Citizen opposition has led companies to cancel some high-profile projects, including a proposed plant near the Florida Everglades. Pressure from environmental organizations has persuaded major banks to begin weighing the risks of global warming when deciding whether to finance new plants.

This is good news. Coal-fired power plants are big contributors to global warming. In the United States alone, they generate half the country’s electricity and nearly a third of its emissions. Meanwhile, scientists have left no doubt that the world has just a few years to make deep cuts in emissions or begin to suffer the worst consequences of rising temperatures. This means that scientists will have to figure out a way to capture carbon dioxide from coal plants, or coal will have to be replaced with cleaner fuels.

Given that task, the failure — by both the Bush administration and Congress — to encourage alternative sources of power is distressing. Bowing to veto threats from the White House, Congress stripped from an otherwise admirable energy bill two important provisions on alternative fuels. (New York Times)

£50m energy fund that’s not making waves - You might expect that an island nation offering substantial grants through a wave and tidal energy grant scheme would have applicants queueing up. But a £50 million fund has succeeded in attracting precisely two applications -- and both were rejected. (The Times)

Scottish dolphins 'at risk from oil drilling' - The bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth in Scotland are the best known and most studied dolphins in the UK. They entertain onlookers with their energetic playing and feeding, and are regularly seen near the shore. In 2005 they were given their own sanctuary under European law.

But the Government says it is "likely" to grant a licence for sub-seabed oil and gas exploration in the sanctuary, which means the dolphins will be seriously disturbed, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS). It says that if oil and gas production goes ahead they will face the threats of waste discharge and oil spills.

"The dolphins of the Moray Firth are magnificent and intelligent animals, but they are also incredibly vulnerable. It is unthinkable that the Government should even consider allowing oil and gas into their sanctuary," said Sarah Dolman, who manages the WDCS Moray Firth campaign.

"Oil and gas exploration and development includes intense noise caused by very loud seismic exploration, the placement of rigs and associated pollution and drilling, and finally, in decades to come, the removal of the rigs when the supply is exhausted. Should one licence be allowed, others will surely follow. This means increasing and ongoing disturbance for the dolphins. We do not want this precedent to be set." (London Independent)

Ireland Gives Support Package For Wind Farm Growth - DUBLIN - Ireland on Friday announced a government-backed guaranteed price for offshore wind power in a bid to boost the development of renewable energy. (Reuters)

Supermarket waste hits new high - 1.6m tonnes of food goes to landfill each year, sustainability watchdog reports

The warning comes amid growing concern at the amount of food that ends up as landfill rather than on people's plates. Retailers generate 1.6 million tonnes of food waste each year.

An influential watchdog, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), will condemn targets set by the Government's waste-reduction programme as "unambitious and lacking urgency". It will also say multi-buy promotions are helping to fuel waste and obesity in Britain. Speaking to The Independent on Sunday ahead of the report's publication on Saturday, Tim Lang, SDC commissioner, said it was "ludicrous" that the Government had not pressured retailers into setting tougher targets to cut waste.

Three years ago, the government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) left it up to supermarkets to find voluntary "solutions to food waste" in an agreement dubbed the Courtauld Commitment. "The Government is frankly not using its leverage adequately. It really should toughen up on Courtauld, which must be enforced because this is ludicrous," said Mr Lang, who is also professor of food policy at City University, London.

The 18-month study, which found that "too many supermarket practices are still unhealthy, unjust and unsustainable", said Wrap should adopt a "more aspirational approach to reducing waste in food retail by setting longer-term targets and [supporting] a culture of zero waste". (London Independent)

Poland to Hamper GMO Planting Despite Lifting Ban - MOSCOW - Poland will seek to make planting of genetically modified seeds nearly impossible for local farmers even though it plans to lift an official ban to comply with EU law, the agriculture minister told Reuters on Friday. (Reuters)

EU, US Seek Arbitration in Biotech Crops Row - GENEVA - The European Union and United States said on Friday they were seeking arbitration at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in their long-running row over the EU's ban on biotech crops. (Reuters)

French GM ban infuriates farmers, delights environmentalists - France officially banned Saturday a strain of genetically modified corn from US agribusiness giant Monsanto, delighting environmentalists but sparking outrage from the company and French farmers.

At least one association planned a legal challenge to the ruling, but leading environmental campaigner Jose Bove welcomed the decision, describing it as the fruit of a 10-year battle by anti-GM groups.

A spokeswoman for Monsanto said Saturday that France's decision to outlaw the use of the MON810 strain of corn, the only GM crop grown in France, "had no scientific basis".

She added: "Monsanto is studying all the legal options to defend the liberty of French farmers to use safe and authorised products."

Farmers affected by the decision expressed their frustration Saturday.

"France finds itself isolated and the south-west penalised against Spanish competition, which does not apply the same rules," said Dominique Barrau, a farmers' union leader from the southwest of the country, bordering Spain.

His part of France would be particularly hard hit, he said, as 80 percent of GM crops grown in France were planted in the southwest Pyrenees and Aquitaine regions. (AFP)

February 8, 2008

Lights out, America? - The lights may soon go out in Washington, DC -- and it could happen where you live, too.
“Electric power has already become painfully expensive in Washington and its suburbs. Now, local utilities, say, it could become something even worse: scarce,” reported the Washington Post this week. Maryland, for example, may face rolling blackouts as early as 2011 or 2012 on summer days.
The core of the problem is that the region’s ability to meet its ever-increasing demand for electricity is being short-circuited by environmental activists who are doing every thing they can to make it as difficult as possible to generate and transmit power.
“Environmental groups say the region should try harder to save energy before it goes out looking for more,” the Post reported. “The cheapest power plant out there is the one you never have to build,” one activist told the Post.
The euphemism the environmentalists use for this strategy is “conservation.” But “rationing” is perhaps the most honest descriptor. (Steven Milloy,

Carbon chaos lessons from Euroland: Corcoran - As Canadian business groups and associations, and flocks of rent-seeking corporations, fall all over themselves looking for subsidies and firm policy from the Harper Tories on climate change, their leaders might want to take a look at the economic turmoil brewing in Europe over the same policies. What Canadian business seems to want, Europe already has -- and it doesn't look like what Canadians should want.

Bring on those carbon taxes, says Canadian business. We need carbon prices, carbon trading, carbon rules. And while we're at it, can we have some subsidies? We need R&D subsidies, subsidies for alternative fuels, subsidies for carbon sequestration, offsets for this and downsets for that.

The Conference Board produced a "Briefing" that, aside from being packed with outrageously misleading global warming science claims, called on Ottawa to "put a price on carbon." What price the Conference Board didn't say. I guess they'll be producing a price report in the next few weeks that will tell us all what that price should be. (Terence Corcoran, Financial Post)

Anything for publicity? Winter's dead and spring should be brought forward, says Kew Gardens - With the sight of daffodils appearing in December and magnolia trees blossoming bewilderingly early, even the casual observer has noticed that the seasons seem out of kilter.

Such horticultural confusion has prompted one of Britain's most respected gardeners to suggest that the official date of spring should be brought forward because there is no winter anymore.

Dr Nigel Taylor, curator of Kew Gardens, came up with the radical idea after witnessing one of the mildest winters on record.

And he became convinced of the merit of his idea when he discovered plants native to Britain have burst into flower earlier than usual this year. (Daily Mail)

Wind Patterns Could Mask Effects Of Global Warming In Ocean - Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that natural variability in the earth's atmosphere could be masking the overall effect of global warming in the North Atlantic Ocean. Scientists have previously found that surface temperatures around the globe have risen over the last 30 years in accord with global warming.

New data, however, shows that heat stored in the North Atlantic Ocean has a more complex pattern than initially expected, suggesting that natural changes in the atmosphere also play a role.

The Liverpool team, in collaboration with the University of Duke in the US, analysed 50 years of North Atlantic temperature records and used computer models to assess how the warming and cooling pattern was controlled. They found that the tropics and mid-latitudes have warmed, while the sub-polar regions have cooled.

Professor Ric Williams, from the University's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, explains: "We found that changes in the heat stored in the North Atlantic corresponded to changes in natural and cyclical winds above the North Atlantic. This pattern of wind movement is called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which is linked to pressure differences in the atmosphere between Iceland and The Azores. (SPX)

Another reason we can't find alleged anthropogenic global warming. First it was aerosols "masking it", now natural winds are "masking" it... how many times must it fail to appear before there's an admission it may not exist after all? What about the definitive tropical mid-troposphere hot zone -- the explicit human fingerprint models insist must occur? RSS can't find it. Neither can UAH. All we see are trivial oscillations with no significant trend.

The Sun Also Sets - Climate Change: Not every scientist is part of Al Gore's mythical "consensus." Scientists worried about a new ice age seek funding to better observe something bigger than your SUV — the sun.

Back in 1991, before Al Gore first shouted that the Earth was in the balance, the Danish Meteorological Institute released a study using data that went back centuries that showed that global temperatures closely tracked solar cycles.

To many, those data were convincing. Now, Canadian scientists are seeking additional funding for more and better "eyes" with which to observe our sun, which has a bigger impact on Earth's climate than all the tailpipes and smokestacks on our planet combined.

And they're worried about global cooling, not warming. (IBD)

Ancient trees give clues to climate change - PUERTO BLEST, Argentina, Feb 8 - On the shores of lake Nahuel Huapi, in the wild mountains of Argentina's Patagonia, live some of the world's most ancient trees.

Known in Spanish as the alerce, the Patagonian cypress grows extremely slowly, but can reach heights over 50 metres (165 feet) and live for 2,000 years or more, putting some of them among the oldest living things on earth.

For scientists who come from around the world to study them, the alerces give an exciting snapshot of years past.

Argentine geoscientist Ricardo Villalba, a contributor to the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations report on climate change last year, studies what the ancient trees say about changing weather patterns.

Like other trees, alerces form a new layer of wood under their bark every year. So samples taken straight through the trunk can help gauge what the weather was like in each year of the tree's life.

"This has allowed us to see that in some sectors of Patagonia, the year 1998 was the hottest in the last 400 years," Villalba said during a recent expedition.

"The marked tendencies that have occurred over the last few decades have no precedent in the last 400 or 500 years, which is as far as the registers in Patagonia have permitted us to analyze up until now."

The tree rings show that temperatures in the 20th Century were "anomalously warm" across the southern Andes. At their worst, mean temperatures over the last century went up 0.86 degree Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) when compared to temperatures in the previous 260 years. (Reuters)

If treemometers give a fair depiction of temperatures (we know they tell us how well trees were growing but there are more variables than temperature involved in that response) then this tells us the Little Ice Age cool period affected mid- to high-latitude Southern Hemisphere regions and was not a North Atlantic regional anomaly as so often claimed for it and the Medieval Climatic Optimum. That will naturally not be the conclusion subjected to the usual media razzle-dazzle where "unprecedented warmth" over the last several hundred years will dominate.

The other thing that won't be mentioned is that Southern Hemisphere did all its warming prior to the global cooling scare of the 1950s through 1970s and really hasn't done any warming worth speaking about since that period. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is a well-mixed gas with southern levels virtually identical to those of the north. Lacking the north's industrial base the southern hemisphere can't claim warming is "hidden" by anthropogenic sulfate aerosols, so "enhanced greenhouse" should be particularly obvious in the "bottom hemisphere" with the bulk of anthropogenic CO2 added since 1950. Can't imagine this will be used to absolve CO2 of culpability in 20th Century warmth though.

Deep Ocean Heat Accumulation: A Diagnosis Of Its Magnitude - Ocean heat storage changes should be where the focus is with respect to diagnosing the magnitude of global warming, as summarized in the paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335.

One of the issues, however, is whether heat is being transferred deep into the ocean, and thus sequestered there for a long time, perhaps to reappear at the surface unexpectedly. A paper in 2007 looked at this issue (thanks to Fergus Brown for alerting us to it). This paper is

Gregory C. Johnson, Sabine Mecking Bernadette M. Sloyan and Susan E. Wijffels 2007: Recent bottom water warming in the Pacific Ocean. J. of Climate. Volume 20. November 2007. (Climate Science)

Russia, Ukraine Next to Trade Kyoto Carbon Credits - LONDON - Russia and Ukraine will be the next nations to join, within months, only a handful of countries physically connected to a UN emissions trading scheme, a senior United Nations official told Reuters on Thursday. (Reuters)

He has a feeling... Uganda's lucrative coffee threatened by climate change - The temperature is rising a little too quickly in Uganda -- and coffee farmers are getting worried. Growers say that global warming is damaging production of coffee, Uganda's biggest export.

Ask coffee farmer Emmanuel Kawesi, who has a "feeling" about the impending danger. "It's hotter now -- this is not usual," he says standing under a wide mango tree to escape the intense sun.

"Global warming will be very dangerous for my coffee," says the 33-year-old, explaining that more sunshine and less rain means coffee beans will shrivel and yields will decrease. (AFP)

Sentries Of Our Future - My apologies for the slight lacuna in posting, but I have just returned from attending the excellent annual conference organised by Sentry Farms of Ipswich, which was held at Chilford Hall, near to the pretty market town of Saffron Walden. The theme this year was 'Matching the Food, Energy, and Environmental Challenge'. The conference, which was sold out with over 300 farming delegates, was chaired by the delightful David Richardson of Sentry, and the speakers were the brilliant demographer, Professor Robert Thompson (Illinois University), the Rt Hon Michael Jack, MP (Chair of the EFRA Select Committee), Peter Kendall (President, National Farmers Union), Dr. Mark Avery (RSPB), John Reynolds (Chair of Northeast Biofuels), the engaging Maitland Mackie (Mackie’s Farm Made Ice Cream), and yours truly.

We all prepared pieces for the Press Packs, and so I thought it might be of interest to post mine here on ‘Global Warming Politics’. I apologise for the length, but it may make up a tad for my failure to post over the last few days. The conference will be widely reported in the farming press, and I shall aim to provide links when possible. Overall, the proceedings proved a most sophisticated analysis of the great challenges facing us in balancing future food production, future energy needs, and environmental concerns. I congratulate Sentry on a thoroughly professional job.

Here is my Press piece, in full: (Global Warming Politics)

Why the price of 'peak oil' is famine - Vulnerable regions of the world face the risk of famine over the next three years as rising energy costs spill over into a food crunch, according to US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

"We've never been at a point in commodities where we are today," said Jeff Currie, the bank's commodity chief and closely watched oil guru.

Global oil output has been stagnant for four years, failing to keep up with rampant demand from Asia and the Mid-East. China's imports rose 14pc last year. Biofuels from grain, oil seed and sugar are plugging the gap, but drawing away food supplies at a time when the world is adding more than 70m mouths to feed a year.

"Markets are as tight as a drum and now the US has hit the stimulus button," said Mr Currie in his 2008 outlook. "We have never seen this before when commodity prices were already at record highs. Over the next 18 to 36 months we are probably going into crisis mode across the commodity complex.

"The key is going to be agriculture. China is terrified of the current situation. It has real physical shortages," he said, referencing China still having memories of starvation in the 1960s seared in its collective mind. (London Telegraph)

Move From Coal to Gas Raises Risk of Price Increase - Stymied in their plans to build new coal-burning power plants, American utilities are turning to natural gas to meet expected growth in demand, risking a new spiral in the price of that fuel.

Utility executives say they have little choice. With opposition to coal plants rising across the country, they see plants fired by natural gas as the only kind that can be constructed quickly and can supply reliable power day and night.

But North American supplies of natural gas will be flat or declining in coming years, according to the Energy Information Administration. The United States already has high natural-gas prices, a problem that has hurt homeowners and many industries, like chemical and fertilizer producers. Some experts fear a boom in gas demand for electrical generation will send prices even higher.

It has happened before: The price of natural gas tripled in the late 1990s and early in this decade, partly because so many companies built generators to use the fuel. In some places, the power plants became white elephants as higher gas prices made them too expensive to operate, compared with coal plants.

Now, with many coal plants being canceled and demand for electricity rising by 2 percent or so a year, the prospect is that utilities will be forced to build and use a new generation of gas-fired plants regardless of the operating cost — and consumers will bear the burden of higher electric rates. (New York Times)

Canada's Oil Sands a Political Hot Potato - VANCOUVER, Feb 7 - Alberta's Parkland Institute and the Polaris Institute have a released a report calling for an emergency strategic petroleum reserve for Canada, as well as for tougher policies to cut fossil fuel consumption and revise the country's oil export regime.

The oil-rich province of Alberta is currently in the middle of a provincial election where the environment and oil sands development will be a heated political topic of national importance in Canada. The historically conservative province has been dragging its feet on national initiatives related to climate change.

Producing one barrel of oil from oil sands is a water- and energy-intensive process that emits three times more greenhouse gases than production of conventional light or medium crude oil.

The report, "Freezing in the Dark: Why Canada Needs Strategic Petroleum Reserves", cites the volatility of the Middle East region and the strategic implications for Canada having to import close to one million barrels a day to supply the central and eastern parts of the country. Canada imports 40 percent of its oil needs, with half coming from OPEC countries and annually diminished supplies from the North Sea where production is falling.

The Alberta oil sands have pipelines which can send oil to the United States but not to Eastern Canada. (IPS)

Wind energy's future uncertain as Senate discards tax credit - The wind industry suffered a setback Thursday after the U.S.Senate passed an economic-stimulus bill but left out language that would have restored Federal Production Tax Credits (PTC) for renewable energy providers, due to expire at the end of the year.

In an effort to come to a compromise with their Republican counterparts, Senate Democrats scaled back their previous demands for additions to the stimulus bill, which included the renewable energy tax credits.

The incentives, at an estimated cost of $5.5 billion, included tax credits for wind, solar and other alternative energy sources, as well as incentives for homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. (Medill Reports)

Aircraft numbers may double by 2026 - Airbus entered the debate over airport expansion yesterday by warning that more runways are needed to accommodate a doubling of the global aircraft fleet by 2026.

The European planemaker predicted that 28,534 passenger and freight aircraft would be flying in less than two decades' time - more than double the current total of 13,284.

Britain will be the third largest customer for new aircraft, Airbus said, with 1,100 jets to be added to aviation infrastructure that is already under severe strain. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, Britain's largest airports, operate at near capacity and the government is consulting over proposals to build a third runway at Heathrow by 2020. (The Guardian)

Food-Based Biofuels Can Spur Climate Change - Study - WASHINGTON - Alternative fuels made from corn, soybeans, sugarcane and palm trees can in some cases increase the amount of climate-warming carbon dioxide that goes into the atmosphere, US researchers reported on Thursday.

These so-called food-based biofuels can actually hurt the environment if they are produced on land that was formerly grassland, rainforest or savanna, the scientists said in the journal Science.

Nonfossil fuels -- ethanol made from corn or sugarcane and biodiesel made from palm trees or soybeans -- are meant to lessen dependence on petroleum products, which release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when they burn.

However, biofuels can release carbon even before they are burned, depending on how they are made, said study co-author Jason Hill of the University of Minnesota. (Reuters)

Siberian Deer Herders Take Aim at Russian Dam Plan - MOSCOW - An indigenous tribe who herd deer in Russia's frozen tundra fear their way of life will perish if plans to build of one of the world's biggest hydro-electric dams on their land go ahead, their representative said on Thursday. (Reuters)

INDIA: More Dams Come Up But Irrigated Area Declines - NEW DELHI, Feb 7 - Recent official irrigation statistics have revealed a curious situation in which, after spending 25 billion US dollars on various irrigation projects during 1990-2004, the actual area under irrigation declined from 17.4 million ha to 14.3 million ha in the period.

"These statistics are disturbing and need to be examined carefully,’’ said Ramaswamy Iyer, former secretary for water resources and the author of several books on hydrology.

In India, a project with a cultivable command area of more than 10,000 ha is categorised as a major project and that with an area of between 2,000 and 10,000 ha as a medium project. Canal irrigation area peaked in 1991-92 at 17.8 million ha. After this it has been steadily declining, reaching the lowest level of 14.2 million ha in the assessment year 2000-01. It recovered partially at 14.6 million ha in 2003-04, the latest year for which national level net irrigation area figures are available. (IPS)

Dust trackers plan alert system - Scientists are studying whether dust clouds from deserts in Africa and Asia carry bacteria, fungus and viruses to North America.

Research shows clouds of dust contain living organisms that may transmit diseases to humans. Some researchers suggest rising childhood asthma rates in the Caribbean are due to dust from Africa, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. There is now concern that diseases such as influenza, SARS and foot-and-mouth disease in livestock could also be transmitted by transcontinental dust. (UPI)

First documented case of pest resistance to biotech cotton - A pest insect known as bollworm is the first to evolve resistance in the field to plants modified to produce an insecticide called Bt, according to a new research report. Bt-resistant populations of bollworm, Helicoverpa zea, were found in more than a dozen crop fields in Mississippi and Arkansas between 2003 and 2006. (University of Arizona)

France to Formally Request GMO Ban at EU Level - PARIS - France will file a request with the European Union to formally ban the commercial use of the only genetically modified (GMO) crop grown in the country this Friday, Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said. (Reuters)

The Future of Fraud - The Future of Food, now showing in a handful of independent theaters and activist "house-parties," is the cinematic centerpiece of efforts to pass bills banning some or all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Hawaii. (Andrew Walden, Hawaii Free Press)

February 7, 2008

Genes not poor diet blamed for most cases of childhood obesity - Nature, and not nurture, is the chief reason why some children put on weight while others stay slim, according to research that suggests parents are not entirely to blame for the epidemic of childhood obesity.

British scientists have found that genes account for more than three quarters of the differences between children’s waistlines, with lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise playing a much smaller role.

The results, from a study of 5,092 pairs of twins aged between 8 and 11, indicate that different family environments explain only a little of the variation in obesity between today’s children. Those who get fat tend to do so because they have a genetic predisposition towards obesity.

It raises questions about the recent decision by Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, to notify the parents of five-year-olds who are found to be obese. Such children are more likely to be putting on weight because of their genes than any influence their family and home environment has had on their lifestyle. (Mark Henderson, The Times)

How we’ve come to believe that overeating causes obesity - The bipartisan Mississippi legislation, which proposed to ban restaurants from serving fat people purportedly to help them lose weight, has highlighted the most popular misconception about fat people. One that even a lot of fat people have been led to believe: that they overeat and that’s why they’re obese.

This concept has been drilled into us and “everybody knows” it to be true. But is it? Suppose we’ve been convinced of this by the continuation of a fundamental misinterpretation of anecdotal evidence and certain studies — suggesting that a correlation between overeating and some obese people means that overeating causes obesity. You’re about to learn that this common fallacy of logic is precisely what has misled conventional wisdom to believe something that isn’t true — when, in fact, the science and far sounder clinical research for more than half a century has disproven it. (Junkfood Science)

Diabetes Study Partially Halted After Deaths - For decades, researchers believed that if people with diabetes lowered their blood sugar to normal levels, they would no longer be at high risk of dying from heart disease. But a major federal study of more than 10,000 middle-aged and older people with Type 2 diabetes has found that lowering blood sugar actually increased their risk of death, researchers reported Wednesday.

The researchers announced that they were abruptly halting that part of the study, whose surprising results call into question how the disease, which affects 21 million Americans, should be managed.

The study’s investigators emphasized that patients should still consult with their doctors before considering changing their medications.

Among the study participants who were randomly assigned to get their blood sugar levels to nearly normal, there were 54 more deaths than in the group whose levels were less rigidly controlled. The patients were in the study for an average of four years when investigators called a halt to the intensive blood sugar lowering and put all of them on the less intense regimen.

The results do not mean blood sugar is meaningless. Lowered blood sugar can protect against kidney disease, blindness and amputations, but the findings inject an element of uncertainty into what has been dogma — that the lower the blood sugar the better and that lowering blood sugar levels to normal saves lives.

Medical experts were stunned. (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

Health benefits of £130m low emission zone ‘a lot of hot air’ - Ken Livingstone has been accused of exaggerating the benefits of the new London low emission zone after it emerged that most of the improvement in air quality that he is claiming would have happened anyway, without the £130 million scheme.

The Mayor of London yesterday introduced the scheme, under which operators of lorries and vans more than six years old will have to pay £200 a day to enter Greater London or face a fine of £1,000.

The zone applies initially to lorries over 12 tonnes but, from July 7, will apply to all diesel-engined vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, including motorhomes and larger delivery vans. From 2010, all vans and minibuses over 1.2 tonnes will be covered by the scheme. Other cities, including Oxford, are watching closely and may follow suit.

Although it will raise an estimated £3-4 million a year in fees and fines, the scheme will make a huge overall loss. Mr Livingstone has spent £49 million establishing the scheme and it will cost £10 million a year to operate for the next eight years. The mayor claims that the costs are justified by the health benefits and yesterday issued a press release saying that 900,000 Londoners would benefit from reduced air pollution by 2012. The release implied that the zone would help to save the lives of many of the 1,000 people who die prematurely in London each year because of poor air quality.

But Transport for London, the mayor’s transport authority, admitted yesterday that very few lives would be saved. It said that existing European regulations on reducing engine emissions would contribute 65 per cent of the health benefits listed by Mr Livingstone. Another 15 per cent would be the product of existing plans to introduce cleaner buses and taxis. Only a fifth of the improvement in air pollution by 2012 will be attributable to the low emission zone. Air pollution in general will reduce only by about 5 per cent, meaning the zone will improve overall air quality by only 1 per cent. (The Times)

Don't know whether to laugh or cry... China Snows Show World Faces New Disasters - UN - GENEVA - China's devastating snowstorms and cold of the past months show that the world must prepare for new types of disasters caused by what was once called freak weather, United Nations experts said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

... although a few timely cold extreme events might remind people how we arrive at the means against which obsessive temperature watchers measure gorebull warming. The lesson is of course that people need to be sheltered from weather, both warm and cool, extreme events on both sides of the mean will always occur and it is incredibly foolish to concentrate on only one end of the range.

UAH Satellite data for Jan08 in agreement with RSS data - University of Alabama, Huntsville (John Christy) just published their UAH lower troposphere data for January 2008. Like the RSS data set, it shows a negative anomaly, and a steep decline in the past 12 months though the magnitude of the anomaly is slightly lower at ∆T -.588 than the RSS ∆T -.629 degrees Centigrade. (Watts Up With That?)

Tornadoes Rip Through South in Typical La Nina Fashion - Yesterday was a busy day at the Storm Prediction Center and local forecast offices in the south. 68 tornaodes were reported with Tennessee and Arkansas hardest hit. CNN put the death toll at 52.

About a month ago on Jan. 8, tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Two died in the Missouri storms. Tornado outbreaks are more likely in La Nina years. A few years ago, I did a study of the years with the maximum number of tornadoes for every month and found that from the fall to the spring they were all La Nina years. The Superoutbreak of April 1974 came after one of the strongest La Ninas on record. And Eugenio Hackbart at the METSUL reminded me also in a similar La Nina in a cold Pacific era, in February 1971, more than 100 people died during an outbreak in the Mississippi Delta. This paper by Bove in 1999 supported this La Nina to severe weather outbreak connection. An unpublished manuscript by Knowles and Pielke (1993) observed that tornadoes during ENSO cold phase (La Nina) are stronger and remain on the ground longer than their warm phase (El Nino) counterparts. They further showed that there is an increased chance of large tornado outbreaks (40 or more tornadoes associated with a single synoptic system) during ENSO cold phase (La Ninas). Given the strength of this La Nina, what it has been able to do in January and February and that history, we might expect a very stormy spring from the south to the Ohio Valley. Predictably, someone (this case Senator Kerry) was bound to pronounce the tornadoes were the result of global warming. Fortunately the story had a Storm Prediction Center meteorologist Roger Edwards inject doubts about any global warming and tornado relationship. (Joseph D’Aleo, CCM)

Sen. Kerry Blames Tornados on Global Warming - Politicians using tragedy to advance an agenda has been a tried-and-true strategy. Paint the idea green and a natural catastrophe became political fodder for former Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).

Kerry appeared on MSNBC on February 6 to discuss storms that have killed at least 50 people throughout the Southeastern United States. So, of course, Kerry used the platform to advance global warming alarmism. (Jeff Poor, Business & Media Institute)

Earth's temperature linked to earthquakes - Spanish scientists have linked the temperature of the Earth's crust to the planet's seismic activity. (UPI)

Wonder how long it'll be before this is misinterpreted as "Global warming causes earthquakes..."

Nitrogen pollution boosts plant growth in tropics by 20 percent - A study by UC Irvine ecologists finds that excess nitrogen in tropical forests boosts plant growth by an average of 20 percent, countering the belief that such forests would not respond to nitrogen pollution.

Faster plant growth means the tropics will take in more carbon dioxide than previously thought, though long-term climate effects are unclear. Over the next century, nitrogen pollution is expected to steadily rise, with the most dramatic increases in rapidly developing tropical regions such as India, South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Nitrogen fertilizer, applied to farmland to improve crop yield, also affects ecosystems downwind by seeping into runoff water and evaporating into the atmosphere. Industrial burning and forest clearing also pumps nitrogen into the air.

“We hope our results will improve global change forecasts,” said David LeBauer, graduate student researcher of Earth system science at UCI and lead author of the study. (University of California - Irvine)

What effect does climate change have on the spread of disease? - Take the chikungunya debate: Initially hailed as a clear example of how warmer weather can lead to new epidemics, some experts pointed out that it was not global warming but a new mutation of the virus that made the fever increasingly infectious. Others argued that the reasons for the chikungunya epidemic lay in new routes for disease opened up by the global economy; in the 1990s, imported tires carried into Italy a mosquito known as "the Asian tiger," which can serve as a vector for chikungunya as well as dengue fever.

The association of malaria epidemics with warmer temperatures in the Ethiopian highlands proves equally difficult to pin down. Many factors other than temperature play a role in transmission. Paul Reiter, a medical entomologist at the Pasteur Institute in France, names several: forest clearance, wetlands drainage, agricultural fertilizers, herbicides, stagnant water, people's daily activity patterns, the location of homes in relation to mosquito breeding sites, the designs and materials of those homes, the presence or absence of screens and bed nets, chemotherapy, vaccination, and mosquito control. Can we extricate climate change from such a web? (Mary Said, Slate)

Oh... UK to Spur Research Into Climate Impact on Poor - LONDON - Britain will increase research into the possible impacts of climate change on the world's most vulnerable people, including deeper poverty and conflict, the international development minister said.

Secretary of State Douglas Alexander said his department will spend 20 million pounds (US$39.25 million) a year over the next five years, a tenfold increase, to pinpoint where global warming will hit hardest and show how to proof development against more extreme weather and rising seas.

"Climate change is a defining global social justice issue," Alexander said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Global-Warming Jujitsu - Suppose that the pessimistic forecasts of global warming are accurate. Suppose that the planet’s temperature rises according to the high-end scenario of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and that we experience the economic and social impacts (like hunger, malaria and coastal flooding) projected by the much-publicized Stern Review sponsored by the British government.

Does that mean our best course of action is to quickly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases? (John Tierney, New York Times)

Excellent Report On Land Use/Land Cover Effects On The Climate System - As a follow up to the NASA press release on the diagnosis of landscape changes in the eastern 2/3 of the United States that was posted on Climate Science on February 4 2008, there is an excellent slide presentation by Professor Jon Foley of the University of Wisconsin at the April 2007 NASA Land-Cover and Land-Use Change Program meeting. The presentation can be downloaded by clicking the Foley folder. (Climate Science)

Unwarranted and Unnecessary CO2 Limiting Legislation - It is High Time a Joint United States-Canadian Commission on Global Warming Be Formed Now, Before Real Damage is Done to Both of Our Economies by Unwarranted and Unnecessary CO2 Limiting Legislation

Many groups and individuals in the United States and Canada have listened with alarm and disbelief to plans of both governments to saddle their people and industries with the burdens of carbon dioxide emission restrictions, carbon dioxide taxes and the risks of carbon dioxide trading, which is an open invitation to massive fraud.

The science of global warming is definitely not settled.

Thousands of qualified, independent scientists around the world now question whether sufficient attention has been paid to the proven historical influence of natural solar cycles, the significance of water vapor contributions and many other aspects of climate science. Since the scientific investigations for the UNIPCC fourth assessment report were completed 18 months ago, new research and new observations have cast serious doubt on many of the IPCCs conclusions.

It is generally agreed that if greenhouse warming was occurring, the strongest warming would be in the upper atmosphere above the tropics. Recent research shows this is not occurring, which indicates that the “warming” is not being caused by greenhouse gases: [Douglass, D.H., J.R. Christy, B.D. Pearson, and S.F. Singer. 2007. A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions. International Journal of Climatology, DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651.]

Everyone, from the highest government official to the lowliest taxpaying consumer, must realize that unless it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that carbon dioxide causes excessive global warming, there is no justification for imposing restrictions and costs on emitters of carbon dioxide. These burdens will pass inevitably on to the whole community and will fall most heavily on those who can least afford them and worse, once again, constitutional property rights will be under attack by another national and international environmentalist-generated crisis. (Ron Ewart, CFP)

In Many Communities, It’s Not Easy Going Green - ARLINGTON, Va. — This urban suburb of Washington seems well-prepared for a leading role in the green revolution embraced by hundreds of the nation’s cities, counties and towns.

For decades, Arlington County’s development has been consciously clustered around its subway line. There is abundant open space to plant thousands of trees. Residents also seem eager to cut back on their own energy use.

Jose R. Fernandez, who moved here last year and works at the nearby national headquarters of the National Guard, chose to settle in Arlington because he does not need a car. “I can go anywhere on the bus,” Mr. Fernandez said, “or I can ride my bike anywhere.”

But even in Arlington, county officials are reckoning with the fact that though green is the dream, the shade of civic achievement is closer to olive drab. Constraints on budgets, legal restrictions by states, and people’s unwillingness to change sometimes put brakes on ambitious plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Emissions are stubborn things. In Arlington, emissions per capita are now 15 tons annually and rising. In Sonoma County, Calif., the figure is close to nine tons. Arlington is not alone in bumping up against obstacles. (New York Times)

Same old nonsense: UN supports India's position on climate change, pulls up US - NEW DELHI: The United Nations on Wednesday supported India's position on climate change and pulled up the United States for its failure to do enough to curb the green house gas (GHG) emissions.

"No, I don't think that the US is doing enough on either front to curb emissions. In that manner, not a single industrialised country is doing sufficient to tackle the climate change," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters here.

He said that with only two years left for negotiations that will end in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 as decided by the recent Bali summit, there was a need for enhanced global cooperation particularly between developed and developing countries in tackling climate change. (Times of India)

Climate change funds to help developing countries: UN - NEW DELHI - Developing countries will have to be given economic assistance if they are to be expected to considerably reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, a top UN official said Wednesday.

"We have to recognise that developing countries can only be expected to engage if economic incentives are put in place," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Boer said that a few countries such as the United States and Japan have contributed several billion dollars to a climate change fund to help other nations cut their emissions. (AFP)

Polar Bear Habitat Receives Record Number of Bids - The Minerals Management Service received a record number of bids for oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi Sea on Wednesday, land that is home to 20 percent of the world's polar bears.

Environmental groups have been challenging the sale. They say the Bush administration delayed classifying the polar bear as an endangered species until the sale could be completed. The official deadline for classification was Jan. 9, 2008, but the Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to make a decision.

Robin Cacy, public affairs officer for the Minerals Management Service, told Cybercast News Service that the lease received 667 bids and the final lessee will be announced by 3 p.m. Alaska Standard Time.

"Companies have expressed a great deal of interest in the Chukchi Sea area," she said. "The area has got the potential for a large number of reserves for oil and gas, and I believe industry is interested in looking for that resource for the nation," she said.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) told Cybercast News Service: "The domestic oil and natural gas this region can provide for the American people is significant. With an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the Chukchi lease sale has the potential of significantly reducing our growing dependence on foreign sources of energy from the Middle East and Venezuela." (

Darkness looms: EU Energy Firms Dropping Projects Over CO2 - Exec - BRUSSELS - European energy companies have dropped investment projects worth billions of euros because of European Commission plans to make them buy greenhouse gas emissions permits from 2013, a senior energy executive said. (Reuters)

Green laws and regulation risk energy crisis, say Europe's power companies - Europe is facing an energy crisis because of green-influenced legislation and regulation, and difficulty in obtaining planning approval for key projects, energy companies warned yesterday.

Europe needs to spend €2tn (£1.5tn) on upgrading power networks in the next 25 years but leading energy companies have cancelled investments in new power plants worth billions of euros because of increased regulatory uncertainty, a senior executive claimed yesterday.

Johannes Teyssen, chief operating officer at E.ON, Germany's biggest energy group, blamed the European commission's plans to make companies pay for all their pollution permits from 2013, huge delays in approving planning applications and confusion among national regulators for the cancellations. (The Guardian)

Britain's Energy Minister Says Coal is Key - LONDON - Coal power generation is crucial for the growth of the British economy, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Rightly so.

EU Aiming Too High With Airline Emissions - BRUSSELS - The European Union is aiming too high with plans to make all airlines flying into and out of the bloc buy pollution permits and it risks a backlash from other regions, the chief executive of British Airways said.

Under proposals being drawn up in Brussels to fight climate change, airlines using EU airports would be included in the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012, with a cap on their emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Airlines would gradually have to buy emissions certificates at auction, starting with 20 percent of permits in 2013 and rising to 100 percent in 2020.

"What we're saying is by all means be ambitious but don't put the whole system at risk by trying to impose it on other nations at a completely different point in their whole thinking on climate change," BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said. (Reuters)

A Mutant Obsession - This week I’m introducing the first article in what will be an occasional series about mutation. And yes, I admit it: I’m obsessed with mutation (which is why I’ve already alluded to it in a couple of earlier articles). The reason is that mutations to DNA form the raw material for evolution. It’s wondrous to think that mutations, accumulated over billions of years through the action of natural selection and the other forces of evolution, have produced such diverse life forms as vampire squid, coconut palms, death cap mushrooms, giant Gippsland earthworms, Etruscan pygmy shrews, E. coli — and us. (Olivia Judson, New York Times)

European Commission Gives Grant to Investigate Transatlantic Oversight of Nanotech - In recent years, several transatlantic conflicts have erupted over how to regulate chemicals, beef hormones and genetically modified food. These disputes have shown the need for better international coordination of risk assessment and management. But how can nanotechnologies be effectively regulated to ensure both innovation and safety? And how can emerging European and U.S. regulations be made compatible so as to avoid future conflicts in this major growth area? (Press Release)

February 6, 2008

Scary health stories - If you are a parent (or grandparent) of a young child, you are a target for manipulation by activists (some with scientific degrees) who claim we are surrounded by a sea of chemical "toxins" and "carcinogens." You are easy prey — because you care so deeply about the health and welfare of your babies and children. Purveyors of unfounded health scares know that.

The fearmongers have just about everything going for them. And unless you recognize their manipulative tactics, you will be among their millions of terrified victims.

Mobiles do not increase cancer risk, says study - Mobile phone users have no greater risk of developing brain tumours than people who have never used them, according to a detailed study of cancer patients.

More Ice Than Ever - The Washington Post recently ran a shocking above-the-fold article warning us of "Escalating Ice Loss Found in Antarctica." A new paper by Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows a net loss of ice where most scientists thought the opposite would occur.

The Post went full-bore with this one, spreading the article on to an entire interior page. The piece ends by noting that Rajenda Pachauri, head of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is so concerned that he's is personally going down to inspect the situation.

He should. Before he even gets to Antarctica, Pachauri is going to see something even more surprising than Rignot's finding. Despite a warming Southern Ocean, the amount of ice surrounding Antarctica is now at the highest level ever measured for this time of the year, since satellites first began to monitor it almost thirty years ago. This represents a continuation of the record set last winter (our summer).

Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, we can also look at the departure from the average for ice mass in a given month. At present, the coverage of ice surrounding Antarctica is almost exactly two million square miles above where it is historically supposed to be at this time of year. It's farther above normal than it has ever been for any month in climatologic records. Around now, because it's summer down there and the ice is headed towards its annual low point, there should be about seven million square miles of it. That means, as data in University of Illinois' web publication Cryosphere Today shows, that there is nearly 30% more ice down in Antarctica than usual for this time of the year. (American Spectator)

A Matter of Degrees - "Climatic Zones” writes NASA’s James Hansen “have been shifting poleward for the past thirty years ... If this movement continues ... it will become the predominant cause of extinction of species, many already threatened.” Climatic zones are indeed moving steadily north. But what consequences can be expected from a rate of poleward climate shift that Hansen calls “unprecedented ?” The answer is a matter of degrees.

Hansen seems to take his cue from Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, in which Mark Lynas likens global warming to a descent into Dante’s Inferno. This Sunday, Lynas’ hellish vision is due to collide with the popular imagination on TV, amplified not by climate models, but the raw semiotic power of computer generated special effects. We will have to see what The National Geographic Channel unleashes, but judging from Lynas’ publicity website, which shows the dome of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral awash in a rising sea, expect something in the middle ground between An Inconvenient Truth, and Planet of the Apes. The National Geographic Website is forthrightly hyperbolic: “The difference between the world we know and something out of a disaster movie is only a matter of degrees. (Russell Seitz, Taki's Top Drawer)

Uh-huh... Rain unlikely to break drought: expert - Torrential rain and flash-flooding across the east coast of Australia is unlikely to break the prolonged drought, a climatology expert says.

About 75 per cent of Queensland is disaster declared, after 40 days of flooding rains, and in NSW the north coast and Sydney have received their average February rainfall in a matter of days.

The University of Southern Queensland's Professor Roger Stone said the rains were related to the much-hyped La Nina weather system and should be enjoyed while they last.

"The rain we are getting is textbook in respect to the La Nina pattern," Prof Stone said.

"They normally last until autumn so we will have some way to go, but it doesn't necessarily extend beyond autumn."

For this reason, he says, it is too early to declare the drought over, particularly in Queensland, despite heavy falls recorded across the state this week, including in catchment areas.

Another 600mm of rain was needed to make up for the rain deficit in southeast Queensland, he said.

"People have forgotten how much rain we should get, so we have," he said.

"These sorts of patterns were very common in the 1950s and 1970s but mainly due to climate change we haven't had any since then.

"The rainfall deficit over the last 10 or 15 years is so huge we still need a lot more rain in southeast Queensland to get anywhere near close to breaking the drought.

"There's still a chance of getting that before the summer's over, but it's probably premature to say the drought is over." (AAP)

... couldn't be that the ENSO is cyclical or anything -- the regime must've been changed by climate change from that which we experienced in the cooling years of the 1950s through 1970s, never to return, right Prof?

Oh... Climate change might affect hibernation - A U.S. study suggested global warning and its associated environmental changes could affect the survival of hibernating species, such as ground squirrels.

A Colorado State University study led by Professor Greg Florant, in collaboration with Penn State University Professor Stam Zervanoshas, found changes in snowfall, summer precipitation and ambient temperatures might be altered by climate change.

"We do know that there are definite changes in torpor patterns among the animals in their natural environments," Florant said. "The question now is: Will we see these changes in the lab?"

Torpor is a period of reduced physical activity, body temperature and metabolism.

The primary aim of the new study is to determine the impact warmer conditions will have on the amount of time spent hibernating. If animals were to increase their metabolism before plants have begun to sprout, they could die from starvation, the scientists said. (UPI)

... if spring springs earlier then so do plants. Even if some critters starve by jumping the gun by too much the warmer springs and less harsh winters will mean greater net survival and is an advantage to critters. Good grief...

What to Do about Climate Change - Executive Summary: The state-of-the-art British-sponsored fasttrack assessment of the global impacts of climate change, a major input to the much-heralded Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, indicates that through the year 2100, the contribution of climate change to human health and environmental threats will generally be overshadowed by factors not related to climate change. Hence, climate change is unlikely to be the world’s most important environmental problem of the 21st century.

Will interim targets be jettisoned on the road to Copenhagen? - While Europe sets the pace on climate change commitments, confirming a target for emissions reduction by 2020 and challenging the world to do the same, it may be the rest of the world is now deciding to run a different race.

Brussels is committed to binding 2020 targets not just for Europe, but the rest of the developed world, offering to lift its proposed target from 20 to 30 per cent if other major emitters follow suit. A sniff of the wind in North America and the Asia-Pacific, however, detects a growing unease over the wisdom of hard mid-term targets on the way to any ultimate 2050 goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. (Carbon Positive)

Rope-a-dope in the climate arena - China deflects blame over climate change - Developed countries, such as Australia and the United States, need to take the lead on tackling climate change, China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi says.

He says most responsibility for climate change should fall on developed countries because they were the highest per-capita greenhouse-gas emitters.

Mr Yang, speaking at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in Canberra on Tuesday, said nations should adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.

"In China’s view they (climate change problems) are primarily caused by the high level of emissions by the developed countries over a long, long period of time and the high per capita emissions in the developed countries," Mr Yang told reporters.

"So not only China, but many developing countries, believe that the developed countries should continue to take the lead in cutting their greenhouse-gas emissions and that they should continue, and even do a better job, in terms of technology, capital equipment transfer to the developing countries." (AAP)

This week on CO2 Science:

The American Geophysical Union's Official Position on Global Warming: It is a climate-alarmist document rife with fantasies derived from a number of logical fallacies that promotes political actions not supported by real-world evidence.

Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week:
This issue's Medieval Warm Period Record of the Week comes from Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park, South Central Iberian Peninsula, Spain. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project's database, click here.

Subject Index Summary:
Rainfall (Trends - Regional: Europe, Mediterranean): Is there any real-world evidence that Europe's Mediterranean region is becoming more "wet and wild" in response to global warming?

Plant Growth Data:
This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Bamboo, Big Bluestem, Poplar, and Spring Wheat.

Journal Reviews:
Solar Forcing of Climate: What do pre-industrial temperature and solar data reconstructions suggest about the origin of 20th-century global warming?

Late 20th-Century Thawing of Alaskan Permafrost: To what degree was it caused by global warming ... due to whatever?

Predicting Species Extinctions in Response to Global Warming: How well founded have the most spectacular predictions been?

The Historical Rise in the Air's CO2 Content and the Water Use Efficiencies of Juniper and Spruce Trees in China: How has the former affected the latter since AD 1850?

Acquisition of Soil Nitrogen by Different Tree Genotypes and Species Growing in Mixed Stands: How is it affected by increases in atmospheric CO2 and O3 concentrations?

Corsicana, TXTemperature Record of the Week:
This issue's Temperature Record of the Week is from Corsicana, TX. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Corsicana's mean annual temperature has cooled by 1.03 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here! (

Statement from Daniel Beard Regarding House's purchase of Carbon Offsets - Recently, concerns have been raised about the decision by the House of Representatives to purchase carbon offsets as a means of attaining carbon neutrality for its operations. That concern springs from two issues: (1) the maturity of the carbon exchange marketplace and (2) the process through which the House purchased the offsets.

The Government Accountability Office has been asked to examine whether the carbon trading marketplace is mature enough to substantiate the spending of taxpayer dollars on offsets. The Federal Trade Commission has already launched a similar examination.

We welcome these efforts.

Oversight and built-in controls of the carbon trading system are needed. Primarily, because this evolving marketplace could help government organizations and private sector companies have a positive impact on the environment and play a critical role in their efforts to operate in a carbon neutral manner. (Press Release)

US Govt delivers blow to CCS hopes - A global push to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) to cut greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power stations has suffered a heavy setback with the withdrawal of US government support for world’s largest venture in this field.

Argonne breakthrough may revolutionize ethylene production - A new environmentally friendly technology created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory may revolutionize the production of the world's most commonly produced organic compound, ethylene.

An Argonne research team led by senior ceramist Balu Balachandran devised a high-temperature membrane that can produce ethylene from an ethane stream by removing pure hydrogen. “This is a clean, energy-efficient way of producing a chemical that before required methods that were expensive and wasteful and also emitted a great deal of pollution,” Balachandran said.

Ethylene has a vast number of uses in all aspects of industry. Farmers and horticulturalists use it as a plant hormone to promote flowering and ripening, especially in bananas. Doctors and surgeons have also long used ethylene as an anesthetic, while ethylene-based polymers can be found in everything from freezer bags to fiberglass. (Argonne National Laboratory)

Scientists peg wind as the force behind fish booms and busts - The mid-20th century crash of the sardine fishery off California for decades has vexed marine ecologists searching for the root causes of large fluctuations in the sardine population. Before its collapse, the fishery was one of the world’s most productive and formed the setting of John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row” in Monterey, Calif.

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have now shed light on the puzzle by proposing a plausible mechanism behind the mystery: wind. (University of California - San Diego)

GM bananas in field trials - Australia's first genetically modified bananas could be growing in North Queensland by mid-year.

Scientists from the Queensland University of Technology will trial Cavendish bananas with extra genes that increase the levels of pro-vitamin A and iron in the fruit.

The technology will then be used to improve banana varieties in Uganda, where mineral and vitamin deficiencies are a big problem.

Professor James Dale says the field trials are a major step forward for the project.

"It will be the first field trial of genetically modified bananas in Australia and one of probably only three or four in the world", he says.

"It will be a very big step for us, fabulous to see the sort of genesis going from that first cell that we transformed back to a plant in the field, it's fairly exciting". (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

February 5, 2008

MMR vaccine doesn't cause autism, says study - The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is safe and does not cause autism, the most comprehensive study carried out on the jab has concluded.

Ten years after the MMR jab was first linked to autism in a paper by Dr Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet, research out today has rejected his findings.

Dr Wakefield's theory was that measles antibodies from the vaccine lingered in the system, triggering autism in some children.

A team from Guy's Hospital, the Health Protection Agency and Manchester University tested children with, and without, autism for measles antibodies and found no difference between the two groups.

The study, the third and largest to show no link between MMR and autism, is published in the Archive of Diseases of Childhood.

Prof David Salisbury, the director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said: "It's natural for parents to worry about the health and well-being of their children and I hope that this study will reassure them that there is no evidence linking the MMR vaccine to autism."

Good but there'll be no deflecting those who believe vaccines are bad.

Calling for a cease-fire - Most “costs of obesity” figures — elaborate fabrications of computer models — have had so many flaws* as to not be taken seriously. But few have calculated the medical costs attributed to “obesity” over an entire lifetime ... and compared them to “healthy” people with government-recommended BMIs.

Public health professionals from the Netherlands just did. They found that the ultimate lifetime medical costs are highest for healthy, nonsmoking, “normal-weight” people. (Junkfood Science)

Clearer focus — food not fat - It isn't fatness that poses the greatest health risks for an aging population and contributes to higher medical care expenses. It’s people not getting enough to eat. (Junkfood Science)

Here’s one you’re not likely to see in the MSM - Perspectives on pink salmon and sea lice: scientific evidence fails to support the extinction hypothesis (.pdf)

Abstract: Using a Ricker (1975) model and escapement data for a subset of Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia watersheds, Krkošek et al. (2007) predicted that sea lice infections originating on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) farms will cause the extinction of pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) in the archipelago by 2010. The purpose of this paper is to examine this issue in the context of all of the escapement data available for the archipelago and to review additional scientific reports and information not discussed by Krkošek et al. (2007). Additional research during the last five years is not consistent with the Krkošek et al. (2007) conclusion that sea lice routinely cause in excess of 80% mortality of fry. Rather the literature reviewed herein indicates that pink salmon fry mount an effective immune response at sizes as small as 0.7 grams resulting in the rapid shedding of lice within two weeks. Pink salmon returns are shown to be highly variable throughout the Northeast Pacific in areas without salmon farms. Following periods of high abundance, pink salmon populations typically fall to low levels and they may remain depressed for several generations. However, in most cases, the populations then gradually increase to begin the cycle anew. An examination of returns to all of the documented Broughton Archipelago watersheds indicates that following exceptionally high returns in 2000 and 2001, the populations declined to very low numbers in 2002 and 2003. Contrary to the conclusions reached by Krkošek et al. (2007), Broughton pink salmon returns have steadily increased since then with no indication that they are threatened with extinction. Other unsubstantiated assumptions used in the Krkošek et al. (2007) are also discussed in light of additional scientific reports and theoretical considerations. (Kenneth M. Brooks and Simon R.M. Jones)

RSS Satellite data for Jan08: 2nd coldest January for the planet in 15 years - Of course we already have had a heads up from all the wire reports around the world talking about the significant winter weather events that have occurred worldwide in the last month, but until now, there hasn’t been a measure of how the planet was doing for the winter of 2007/2008.

Remote Sensing Systems of Santa Rosa just posted the latest MSU (Microwave Sounder Unit) data.

January posted a -.08°C near global anomaly between -70S and 82.5N latitude. That makes it the coldest month since January 2000, and the 2nd coldest January for the planet in 15 years. Both hemispheres posted negative anomalies, which is the first time that has happened since Jan 2000. The United States posted a -.557°C anomaly for January and a -0.196°C anomaly for December. (Watts Up with That?)

China Battles "Coldest Winter in 100 Years" - CHENZHOU, China - Millions remained stranded in China on Monday ahead of the biggest holiday of the year as parts of the country suffered their coldest winter in a century.

Freezing weather has killed scores of people and left travellers stranded before the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival -- the only opportunity many people have for a holiday all year. (Reuters)

China 'not ready' for snow crisis - Chinese weather experts have admitted that they were not properly prepared for the snow storms that have left hundreds of thousands stranded.

The cold weather seen in recent weeks has been the worst to hit central and southern provinces in decades.

Officials have blamed freak conditions, but on Monday the head of the China's meteorological office said "we did not make enough preparation".

About 100m people have been affected, with damage set at 54bn yuan (£3.8bn).

According to a BBC correspondent in Beijing, Michael Bristow, there are few facilities in the south to deal with icy roads, and power lines are too thin to cope with too much snow and ice.

The current cold snap started nearly four weeks ago.

Freezing temperatures have brought snow, ice, sleet and fog to many areas of southern China - some of which are used to just four or five days of freezing temperatures a year.

That's the problem with all this "global warming" nonsense -- people start believing it rather than realizing "normal" is derived by summing warm and cold years and dividing by the number of years (there may not be a single "normal" year in the series).

An Excellent Example Of The Reason We Need To Focus On Regional Circulation Patterns And Not A Global Average Surface Temperature Trend - One major conclusion that should be reached from the unpredicted wide ranging severe cold and snow this winter, is that multi-decadal global climate models have demonstrated no skill in predicting such regional events which clearly have a major impact on society and the environment. (Climate Science)

Getting tipsy again - Synopsis: stuff might happen in the next century… or not.

1,500 Years of Cooling in the Arctic - The Arctic is melting, right? There is simply no questioning this pillar of the greenhouse scare, and images of ice melting, polar bears struggling, and indigenous people crying the blues are all part of any self-respecting presentation of global warming. Imagine a study published in a major journal showing that a location in the Arctic has “a trend of -0.3°C over the last 1,500 years.” Of course, you would never have learned of such a result had you not discovered World Climate Report.

The article is forthcoming in Climate Dynamics, and the work was conducted by Håkan Grudd of Stockholm University’s Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, and despite the results, the research was not funded by industry. The focus here is the Torneträsk area in northern Sweden near 68.5°N (within the Arctic Circle) where Scots pines have been growing for millennia. Grudd not only sampled living trees, but he also collected subfossil samples found as dead wood on dry ground and from submerged logs retrieved from small mountain lakes. Many other studies have shown that the pines are sensitive to summer temperatures, so in theory, the tree samples should allow a very long term and relatively accurate reconstruction of past thermal conditions. (World Climate Report)

The Nature of the Sun’s Influence on Climate Change - This paper was mentioned in CCNet and is linked here without review.

"The Nature of the Sun’s Influence on Climate Change" (.pdf) Summary - The sun is a major influence on climate change on Earth in that it provides solar irradiance that warms the planet and a far reaching magnetic field that shields Earth from the effects of galactic cosmic rays, which cools the planet.  The magnetic field wrapped in the solar winds modulates the flux rate of cosmic rays which affects cloud formation and thereby the planet’s global albedo.  Past studies have shown a relationship between the flux rate of galactic cosmic rays and low-level ocean cloud formation. Recent experimental studies have confirmed the causal mechanism behind this process. This paper looks at the relationship between the solar magnetic field (as expressed in "AA Index") and ocean surface temperature over the period from 1880 A.D. to present and finds this relationship is best expressed by a natural logarithmic function. (James A. Marusek)

Suzuki: Jail politicians who ignore science - Would that be real science or the hysterical religious pap masquerading as “climate science”?

Oh boy... Can We Use Science To Solve Global Warming - Combating a warming world requires a portfolio of strategies, including exploring innovative new approaches to apply science and engineering, according to a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). The report warns that focusing solely on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is too inflexible and politically unrealistic.

If combating potentially harmful global warming requires substantially reducing CO2 emissions, then we will likely lose the fight, said Pete Geddes, executive vice president of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment and an NCPA adjunct scholar who authored the report. We need to begin treating the illness, and stop focusing all our energies on the underlying cause or debating its origin.

CO2, a potent greenhouse gas, helps warm the planet. Recently, the burning of fossil fuels has pushed atmospheric levels of CO2 from approximately 280 parts per million (ppm) at the start of the Industrial Revolution to approximately 380 ppm today. Over the next few decades CO2 levels will continue to increase. (SPX)

... will this myth never die? We can not adjust the global thermostat by tweaking a couple of minor variables at the periphery, period! Rarely in Earth's history have atmospheric carbon dioxide levels been this low and there is nothing but upside for the biosphere to having them rising.

C of E promotes alternate religion? Church advocates carbon fast for Lent - The Church of England is urging people to cut down on carbon, rather than chocolate, for Lent this year.

Two senior bishops within the church are joining with development agency Tearfund in calling for a cut in personal carbon use for each of the 40 days of Lent, which begins tomorrow.

The Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, who is also vice-president of Tearfund, and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, have launched the "carbon fast" in response to what they say is an "urgent need" to reduce carbon emissions, and to protect poor communities around the world that are "already suffering from the ravages of climate change".

The 40-day plan lists simple energy-saving actions that can lead towards a lighter carbon footprint, including snubbing plastic bags, giving the dishwasher a day off, insulating the hot-water tank and checking the house for drafts.

Participants are asked to begin the carbon fast by removing one light bulb from a prominent place in the home and live without it for 40 days, as a constant visual reminder during Lent of the need to cut energy. On the final day of the fast, people are encouraged to replace the missing bulb with an energy-saving bulb. (The Guardian)

Funny the Danes being against global warming. All things considered…

... you’d think they’d be more worried about global cooling, given their history.

Check out February 5, 1658, when King Charles X Gustavus marched his cavalry, followed the next day by his infantry and artillery, across the frozen Great Belt from Fyn to Zealand. They had crossed the Little Belt to Fyn the same way less than a week before. Within 10 days they were on the outskirts of Copenhagen and forced the disastrous Treaty of Roeskilde on the surprised and outmaneuvered Danes by February 26. The cold of the Maunder Minimum cost Denmark the entire eastern part of the country (ceded to Sweden) and very nearly their existence as an independent state.

Cold weather hasn’t been all that kind to the Danes. You’d think they’d be a bit touchy on the topic….

Bush's climate talks 'engaging' - The latest US-led climate talks in Honolulu, Hawaii, have been described by delegates as the most frank and engaging climate negotiations so far.

It was the second in a series of Major Economies Meetings called by US President George W Bush.

He called the first in Washington last year after expressing a desire to find a solution to the climate issue.

That first meeting was described by angry EU delegates as a waste of time, a PR stunt for the American elections.

But this time the tone was very different.

One EU delegate said: "I came expecting nothing and was very pleasantly surprised. Normally, we get sterile pre-prepared statements of policy, but this time there was a very frank discussion exploring the very difficult and different conditions facing each of the countries. It was very constructive." (BBC)

The Economic Benefits of Saddling U.S. Industry? - In an article today with a uniquely sensible headline – “House preparing for climate bill this year despite gloomy economic forecasts” – Platts says the following:

Virginia Democrat Rick Boucher, a key member of the House of Representatives charged with drafting comprehensive climate change legislation, vowed last week to move legislation through Congress and to the president’s desk this year. And gloomy economic forecasts would not slow the pace of getting the GHG cap-and-trade bill through Congress, he said.

To the contrary, the climate bill would lead to a significant economic boom for the United States, according to Boucher, based in part on the volume of low-emission technologies that would hit the market, creating thousands of jobs and making the US a major exporter of these goods.

This is a common theme and one that is well worth discussing. By this I mean both the “green jobs” chimera and the companion notion that, once the U.S. imposes some restrictions on ourselves — which so far only Europe has imposed on itself — the world will suddenly want goods that the U.S. manufacturers will suddenly produce ... but produced only on condition of mandates on the domestic market, mind you.

The “root cause” of this thinking seems to be a strain of American exceptionalism that says once the U.S. government applies the spurs to U.S. industry in the form of a threat to their competitiveness — possibly styled as a market opportunity for innovators — we will answer the call and produce stunning advances in “new” technologies pioneered anywhere from millennia (wind) to centuries (solar) ago. (Chris Horner, Planet Gore)

Energy Consortium Launches Alberta Carbon Project - CALGARY, Alberta - Enbridge Inc, Canada's No. 2 pipeline operator, is leading 19 energy firms in a project to develop carbon dioxide storage in Alberta, but growing emissions from oil sands plants will not initially be part of the study, an executive said Monday.

The group, which includes such firms as BP Plc, ConocoPhillips, EnCana Corp and Penn West Energy Trust, will spend about C$750,000 (US$758,000) over the next year identifying sites for long-term storage of the greenhouse gas in deep saline aquifers.

A second phase would involve a C$20 million-C$30 million pilot project in Alberta -- Canada's biggest energy-producing province and largest emitter of gases blamed for global warming -- that will be designed to receive carbon dioxide.

The consortium, which also includes such power companies as Epcor Utilities, Atco Power Canada and TransCanada Corp, may eventually develop a large-scale commercial project at a cost of more than C$200 million, Enbridge said.

The Alberta and Canadian governments have touted carbon capture and storage -- where the gas is diverted from smokestacks and other industrial sources -- as a tool to reduce emissions while having minimal impact on economic growth. (Reuters)

Capturing Carbon Pipe Dreams

European move to tighten carbon trade permits threatens UN plan - A United Nations scheme to promote carbon-reducing power projects in poor countries has come under threat as Europe tightens the rules governing the trade in carbon permits in the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Brussels has threatened to limit severely the trade in Certified Emission Reduction credits (CERs) after 2012 if the world fails to agree a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol and one that creates a wider market for carbon.

The CERs are issued to companies by the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a scheme that emerged from the Kyoto climate change treaty. Kyoto imposes an obligation on developed countries to reduce carbon emissions but requires no restrictions on poor countries. However, rich countries can use the CDM to get “credit” for clean power projects built in developing countries and can use those credits in the developed world to meet their own carbon reduction targets.

Carbon market experts believe that the EU's plans could strike a crippling blow to the CDM because the ETS is the world's only functioning market for carbon and the only place where CERs have a monetary value. If no new CERs are admitted into Europe after 2012, then the pipeline of UN-approved carbon-reduction projects will dry up, according to Emmanuel Fages, a carbon market analyst for Société Générale. (The Times)

MPs call for climate change minister - The government should appoint a climate change minister to ensure that green policies are properly coordinated across Whitehall, a cross-party parliamentary committee recommends today.

Amid growing concern that the government's policy mix is insufficient to meet its internationally agreed climate change targets, the Treasury select committee has called for a greater use of green taxes and criticises airlines for dragging their feet on reducing carbon emissions.

The committee's report looks at the implications of the Stern Review for Treasury policy. It welcomes the establishment of the Office of Climate Change, which seeks to promote cross-departmental cooperation, it says there is a need for ministerial accountability in this important area. (The Guardian)

Study Suggests That, Unlike in the ’70s, Energy Lessons Will Last - The oil shocks of the 1970s produced a flurry of attention to alternative sources of energy, but it faded once prices dropped in the mid-1980s. Now, with oil prices again high and climate change moving up the list of public concerns, interest in alternative energy is once again at fever pitch.

Is history about to repeat itself?

Not likely, according to a leading energy consulting firm. In a report scheduled for release Tuesday, the firm, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, concludes that multiple factors will continue pushing the world toward greater use of alternative energy sources like sun and wind power, regardless of what happens to oil prices.

“The focus today on clean energy is not a bubble or passing phenomenon,” the report says. “Unconventional clean energy is now poised to cross the divide and move from the fringes of the energy sector to the mainstream.”

What makes today different from the 1970s is growing apprehension about global warming as a threat to political security and the environment, according to the report. That is pushing governments to demand, and subsidize, greater use of alternative energy.

“Climate change and putting a price on carbon will change the dynamics of the energy marketplace,” said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates and a leading historian on the oil industry. He noted that with the Chinese and Indian economies growing rapidly, “you need renewables as part of the solution to meet this astonishing demand growth.” (New York Times)

No Chucky, people will start getting cold and the great "global warming" scam will inevitably collapse, unfortunately having done great harm in the meanwhile.

Lobbyists attack carbon plan - Business lobbyists say the Government's plan for a "carbon neutral" economy could cost each household $19,000 a year by 2025 and still fail.

"There are currently no low-cost ways for New Zealand to reduce emissions significantly," Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr said today.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has set a goal for New Zealand to be carbon neutral and to define New Zealand as environmentally sustainable.

But Mr Kerr said today that though the business community was not generally opposed to action to put a low initial price on carbon, "rhetoric about carbon neutrality and leading the world is fanciful and irresponsible". (NZPA)

Duke Energy close to save-a-watt approval in S.C. - Feb 04, 2008 -- Duke Energy Corp. and opponents of its new conservation proposal called save-a-watt have come to a compromise in South Carolina that allows the utility to make a profit from conserving electricity.

The agreement moves the Charlotte-based utility a step closer to final approval from the S.C. Public Service Commission and provides a potential roadmap for a deal in North Carolina, where a similar proposal is pending before N.C. regulators.

South Carolina would be the first state with the novel program, which would represent a sea change in how utilities can charge customers for conservation programs and how high a return regulators allow them to make.

Save-a-watt is controversial because for the first time it would allow Duke to recoup profits it loses from conservation. That's a change from the usual method, which is to charge customers based on the actual costs of running the conservation programs.

Save-a-watt would cut power demand through a slate of high-tech conservation programs, including using new "smart" meters that could adjust the flow of power to special energy efficient appliances. Duke might also help customers buy the special appliances through low-cost financing plans.

Jim Rogers, Duke's chief executive, says utilities need the profit motive to agree to sell less electricity, their core product.

But some consumer advocates have objected, saying the margin under save-a-watt's complicated pricing formula would be too high and that more of the savings from energy efficiency should be passed on to customers through lower rates. (The Charlotte Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)

Poisoning the economy - The economy is stagnant, unemployment is climbing, families can’t pay their bills. Politicians insist we must prime the pump, increase unemployment benefits, reduce interest rates.

But every one of these puny shots of economic adrenaline is counteracted by toxic policies that drive up prices, cause layoffs and put families on energy welfare.

Oil, gas, coal and other resources on America’s citizen-owned public lands could meet our energy needs for centuries. Developing these resources — with full regard for ecological values — would generate jobs, economic growth and tax revenues, stabilize energy prices, and reduce our need to buy oil from unfriendly countries.

Onshore and offshore public lands hold enough oil to produce gasoline for 60 million cars and fuel oil for 25 million homes for 60 years. They hold enough natural gas to heat 60 million homes for 160 years — plus centuries of uranium and coal.

But energy-killer legislators, regulators and courts have made most of them unavailable to the workers and families who own them. (Roy Innis, Washington Times)

Not suited to the oil business? Ex Shell chairman calls for gas guzzler ban: report - The former chairman of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has called on the European Union to ban gas-guzzling cars, saying they are unnecessary, the BBC reported Monday.

"Nobody needs a car that does 10-15 mpg (miles per gallon, 19-28 litres per 100 kilometres)," Mark Moody-Stuart was quoted as saying.

"We need very tough regulation saying that you can't drive or build something less than a certain standard. You would be allowed to drive an Aston Martin -- but only if it did 50-60 mpg."

Moody-Stuart, who is currently chairman of mining group Anglo American, added that the EU was too lax with motor manufacturers and insisted that wealthier people must play their part in tackling climate change.

He was chairman of Shell between 1998 and 2001. (AFP)

Oil Sands Are Shifting in Alberta - CALGARY, Alberta -- After years of headlong growth, Canada's oil sands have hit a speed bump.

Escalating costs, labor shortages, tax increases and the threat of tighter climate-change laws are clouding the prospects of one of the world's biggest sources of oil. And while multinationals can cope with the tougher operating environment, smaller companies are struggling.

"About a dozen of the smaller oil-sands players are coming to me saying we can't make this work," says Brian Maynard, vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, an industry group. "Their economic model is no longer viable."

A mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen, Canada's oil sands lie under an area of boreal forest larger than Florida. Alberta estimates that the province has 174 billion barrels of recoverable bitumen, making Canada's oil reserves second only to those of Saudi Arabia.

But the oil is extremely costly to extract. Most future production will require high-pressure steam to be injected into the ground to separate the gooey bitumen from the sand it clings to, and vast amounts of natural gas must be burned to produce the steam. Multi-billion-dollar upgraders are needed to convert the bitumen into synthetic crude oil.

The turning-point came around four years ago, when crude began its rally and oil sands became economic. Thousands flocked to Alberta to seek their fortune. Fort McMurray, the hub of the oil rush, was dubbed "Fort McMoney." (Wall Street Journal)

The Little Car that Environmentalists Love to Hate - The environmentalists’ hypocrisy is breathtaking. How can anything be criticized simply for being affordable? Tomorrow, if college education is made more accessible and affordable in India, will the New York Times denounce it on the grounds that college graduates tend to earn more and buy more consumer goods and hence enlarge their environmental “footprint”?

The human cost of wind power vanity projects - Today the Financial Times reports on the poor performance of the Renewables Obligation in encouraging wind farms: "The amount of new wind capacity added in 2007 was less than three-quarters of that built the year before." This is despite subsidies that make wind farms massively profitable:

"Under the current regime, and thanks in part to high power prices, wind turbines can pay for themselves within about five years, out of a working life of at least 20 years.

In its energy white paper last year the government described the RO as the “primary mechanism” for meeting its goals of reducing fossil fuel dependency. However, Andrew Wright, managing director of markets at Ofgem, the electricity regulator, told the Financial Times: “The RO is a very expensive way of providing support for renewables.”

Peter Atherton, head utilities analyst at Citi Investment Research, said: “It’s a bonanza. Anyone who can get their nose in the trough is trying to."

The problem is that wind farms are getting stuck in the planning system. Now, it is important at this stage to note that they aren't just facing the same "not in my back yard" opposition that many industrial developments do.

Part of the problem with windpower is that each turbine has a very low capacity and, as such, you need massive numbers of them - covering a huge amount of land - to get the kind of power you would get from a small number of conventional or nuclear power plants.

As such, wind farms are poor value in two ways: They are poor value for money as you need to provide a lot of subsidy to produce a relatively small amount of capacity. However, they are also poor value for environmental disruption as you need to ruin a lot of landscapes in order to produce a relatively small amount of capacity. The Government have offered a massive subsidy that has meant it is unnecessary for wind power to offer good value for money. However, they have not found a way of absolving wind farms of the need to provide good value for their geographical footprint - because of that large footprint the planning system is proving particularly difficult to traverse for wind power. (Taxpayers' Alliance)

Record Financing For Biofuels, Not Food - BROOKLIN, Canada, Feb 4 - Biofuels have quickly turned from environmental saviour to just another mega-scale get-rich quick scheme. Countries and regions without their own oil reserves to tap now see their farms, peatlands and forests as potential "oil fields" -- shallow but renewable lakes of green oil.

However, renewable does not mean sustainable, and in most cases the only green part of biofuel is the wealth they generate.

Not surprisingly, given the record high oil prices, worldwide investment in bioenergy reached 21 billion dollars in 2007, according to the U.N. Environment Programme. The Inter-American Development Bank announced 3 billion dollars for investment in private sector biofuel projects -- mainly in Brazil -- while the World Bank said it had 10 billion dollars available in 2007.

Meanwhile development assistance for food-producing agriculture had fallen to 3.4 billion dollars in 2004 -- with the World Bank's share less than 1 billion dollars, according to the Bank's own World Development Report on Agriculture released in October 2007. And most of this financial assistance was spent on subsidising use of chemical fertilisers. (IPS)

Bio-crude turns cheap waste into valuable fuel - CSIRO and Monash University have developed a chemical process that turns green waste into a stable bio-crude oil.

The bio-crude oil can be used to produce high value chemicals and biofuels, including both petrol and diesel replacement fuels.

“By making changes to the chemical process, we’ve been able to create a concentrated bio-crude which is much more stable than that achieved elsewhere in the world,” says Dr Steven Loffler of CSIRO Forest Biosciences.

“This makes it practical and economical to produce bio-crude in local areas for transport to a central refinery, overcoming the high costs and greenhouse gas emissions otherwise involved in transporting bulky green wastes over long distances.”

The process uses low value waste such as forest thinnings, crop residues, waste paper and garden waste, significant amounts of which are currently dumped in landfill or burned.

“By using waste, our Furafuel technology overcomes the food versus fuel debate which surrounds biofuels generated from grains, corn and sugar,” says Dr Loffler. (CSIRO)

The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan - The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.

Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" or "trash vortex", believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are circulating in the region. Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which Mr Moore founded, said yesterday: "The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States."

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer and leading authority on flotsam, has tracked the build-up of plastics in the seas for more than 15 years and compares the trash vortex to a living entity: "It moves around like a big animal without a leash." When that animal comes close to land, as it does at the Hawaiian archipelago, the results are dramatic. "The garbage patch barfs, and you get a beach covered with this confetti of plastic," he added.

The "soup" is actually two linked areas, either side of the islands of Hawaii, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches. About one-fifth of the junk – which includes everything from footballs and kayaks to Lego blocks and carrier bags – is thrown off ships or oil platforms. The rest comes from land.

Mr Moore, a former sailor, came across the sea of waste by chance in 1997, while taking a short cut home from a Los Angeles to Hawaii yacht race. He had steered his craft into the "North Pacific gyre" – a vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme high pressure systems. Usually sailors avoid it. (London Independent)

Food Politics, Half-Baked - LAST month the Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to food made from cloned cows, pigs and goats, with the agency’s top food-safety expert, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, declaring, “It is beyond our imagination to even have a theory for why the food is unsafe.” Opponents of biotechnology immediately let out a collective groan of disapproval — among them Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (who has called cloning “just weird”). Cloning, after all, will now join genetically modified crops as yet another threat to organic agriculture. I, too, let out a groan, but for a different reason.

It was because of the tone. “It is beyond our imagination to even find a theory ....” The hubris here highlights the saddest aspect of our perennial food wars. Like abortion and capital punishment, biotechnology inspires knee-jerk rhetorical passion rather than rational debate. Dr. Sundlof’s remark was the equivalent of an uppercut to the anti-biotech camp, one offering an open invitation to fight back. (New York Times)

February 4, 2008

War on obesity a success in England, but not for England - The Information Centre’s latest Health Survey for England report, Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet: England, January 2008, has just been released. It provides evidence that the war on obesity has been enormously successful ... for its corporate sponsors. (Junkfood Science)

Brain food for kids: Having enough to eat - Efforts to address childhood obesity by lowering fat and calories in school lunch programs are having unintended consequences. A nutrition audit of school children in Florida found that growing youngsters were being underfed and short on vital calories. Some officials whose lunch programs have been flagged for underfeeding children have suggested that since there are still fat children, they must be eating too much and the nutritional guidelines should instead be changed to even greater reductions in fat and calories. (Junkfood Science)

‘Last wave’ for wild golden frog - What do you suppose the odds are that these clods didn’t transport fungus spores on clothing and/or equipment? Biologists have infected many colonies during studies and it’s a given that “eco tourists” have done for many more. Camera crews? These are the guys with the motivation and finance to penetrate remote, previously uninfected regions. Why would anyone be surprised by cross infection with these rabbits as the transport medium?

Emanuel Cleaver wants to guard polar bears’ habitat, but opponents call them a ‘political tool’ - WASHINGTON | Emanuel Cleaver worries about what melting ice caps mean for the polar bear. His opponents worry about the cost of that concern.

The congressman, former mayor, and well-known local pastor has been on the House committee on global warming for about a year and says the plight of the bears has meaning beyond the ice caps.

“The polar bear is the canary in the coal mine with regard to global warming,” he says.

So Cleaver is co-sponsoring a bill to protect an area known as prime polar bear habitat. The measure would prevent the government from opening up nearly 30 million acres in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska for oil and gas drilling, at least until the Bush administration decides whether the polar bear should receive special protection as a threatened species.

But opponents of the bill note that it’s not as simple as polar bears. With spiraling gas prices, the Bush administration and other detractors say oil exploration would be safe and could lead to a secure energy source for Americans. The leases are scheduled to go up for bid Wednesday.

Republican Rep. Don Young, Alaska’s sole congressman, opposes any delay.

“This effort to stop all oil and gas activity in the resource-rich sections of Alaska has been a longstanding goal of the Democratic leadership and the extreme environmental organizations,” Young said. “What is new is that the Democratic leadership and these organizations are now seeking to use the polar bear as a reason.” (Kansas City Star)

Groups Sue to Block Alaska Oil Drilling Plan - WASHINGTON - Environmental groups sued the Bush administration on Thursday to stop plans to allow oil and natural gas drilling in the icy Chukchi Sea off Alaska, which they claim will endanger polar bears.

The US Interior Department plans to lease about 30 million acres of land in the Chukchi Sea -- home to about 10 percent of the world's polar bear population -- on Feb. 6.

Environmental groups including the National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice filed suit in a federal court along with Alaska native groups to stop the lease sale -- which the federal government has put on a fast track for action. (Reuters)

U.S. close to decision on polar bears: It could be the first species to be listed as threatened with extinction primarily because of global warming. - The Bush administration is nearing a decision that would officially acknowledge the environmental damage of global warming, and name its first potential victim: the polar bear.

The Interior Department may act as soon as this week on its year-old proposal to make the polar bear the first species to be listed as threatened with extinction because of melting ice due to a warming planet.

Both sides agree that conservationists finally have the poster species they have sought to use the Endangered Species Act as a lever to force federal limits on the greenhouse gases linked to global warming, and possibly to battle smokestack industry projects far from the Arctic. (Los Angeles Times)

Arctic sea ice back to it’s previous level, bears safe; film at 11 - In the late summer and early fall of 2007, there were a number of alarming media reports about the arctic sea ice melting. Additionally, there were predictions that it would not recover to its previous levels.

But, we have this graph charting the rise and fall of arctic sea ice for the last 365 days, notice that the arctic sea ice is right back where it started at in February 2007. (Watts Up With That?)

Said one polar bear to another … - "Quit griping, son," said grandpa polar bear. "Our species has finally hit the jackpot. Humans were our only enemy. Now we’re the official mascots of the climate-change industrial complex. We’re as charismatic as whales. We’ve got lobbyists all over Washington."

"It won’t last," said papa polar bear. "Wait till everyone finds out the ice cap naturally gets thinner or thicker all the time. Wait till they all realize we can swim 30 miles before breakfast. Wait till they see two-thirds of us haven’t died by 2050 because of a little global warming.

"But what if ‘60 Minutes’ turns on us and catches us eating baby seals?" asked mama polar bear.

"Don’t be such alarmists," said grandpa polar bear. "Al Gore will never let it happen.

"The mainstream media, politicians and school kids have been completely suckered. We’re apex victims of modern mankind. Senators from New Jersey are working to put us on the Endangered Species list. Congress is talking about doing a study to make sure we won’t be hurt before they allow those new oil and gas leases to be auctioned in the Chuckchi Sea. It’s only a matter of time before we get Pell Grants for polar bears.

"So stop worrying, kids," said grandpa polar bear, slipping off the ice floe for a little five mile swim. "We’ve never had it so good." (Bill Steigerwald, Tribune-Review)

Uh-huh... Sunscreen may be killing corals - SYDNEY: The chemicals in sunscreen that protect swimmers from sunburn may also be indirectly striking a deadly blow to coral reefs, a new study has found.

"Our results should be considered as a warning about the use of these chemicals and as a claim for further research to develop new eco-friendly sunscreens." said Antonio Pusceddu, marine scientist from the Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy and co-author of the study reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. (Cosmos Online)

Solar Cycle 24: False Starts - In early January 2008, NASA reported the start of Solar Cycle 24 with the sighting of a tiny reversed polarity spot. It lasted three days and then disappeared. (Solar Science)

The Recovery from the Little Ice Age and Global Warming - A roughly linear global temperature increase of about 0.5°C per 100 years seems to have occurred from about 1800, or even much earlier, to the present. This value may be compared with what the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists consider to be the manmade greenhouse effect of 0.6°C per 100 years. This long-lasting linear warming trend is likely to be a natural change.

One possible cause of the linear increase may be Earth’s continuing recovery from the Little Ice Age. This trend (0.5°C/100 years) should be subtracted from the temperature data during the last 100 years when estimating the manmade contribution to the present global warming trend. Thus, there is a possibility that only a fraction of the present warming trend is attributable to the greenhouse effect resulting from human activities. This conclusion is contrary to the 2007 IPCC Report (p.10), which states that “most” of the present warming is due to the manmade greenhouse effect. (Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, The New American)

Ooops! Has Global Warming Stopped? - I think you may find the little graph I have just produced [above, and in full below] of interest. It illustrates an intriguing mini-phenomenon: since 1998, ‘global warming’ appears to have - wait for it - stopped. The data is taken from the UK Met Office’s ‘HadCRUT3’ dataset, a globally-gridded product of near-surface temperatures, consisting of annual differences from 1961-90 normals. The full data set is available here, covering the period from 1850 to the present. The coloured ribbon shows the best estimate data from this set. But, what does it mean? (Global Warming Politics)

Will Media Expose Global Warming Con Job? - In the past several months, a new "crisis" has heated up the controversy over man-made global warming.

A few major-media writers and TV personalities are actually reporting statements by credible scientists who are challenging the assumption that carbon dioxide is the primary force causing global warming.

There’s a real possibility that big-name journalists will break ranks and pursue their next Pulitzer Prize by exposing the lack of scientific consensus on CO2 as a planet-heating pollutant.

That would create a crisis of confidence among the activists, researchers and global-governance apparatchiks who want a global carbon tax to build their political and financial power base.

Oh boy… Authoritative guide to global warming - In case people might have forgotten, King was Blair’s climate pornographer in chief. “Antarctica is likely to be the world’s only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked.” — Professor Sir David King, Government chief scientist; The Independent, 2 May 2004.

Position Statement of the AGU On “Meeting The Challenges Of Natural Hazards” - These has been considerable discussion on the New York Times weblog of Andy Revkin on the AGU Position Statement on “Human Impacts on Climate.”

This Statement was adopted by the AGU Council on December 2003 and revised and reaffirmed in December 2007. As has been recognized, this Statement was prepared and approved by only a very limited number of AGU members, and was not put to a vote for approval by the AGU membership [as a disclosure, I am a Fellow of the AGU].

At the same December 2007 AGU Council meeting, another Position Statement was approved [with the same very limited number of individuals involved and no AGU membership vote on it]. Thus it should have similar weight to policymakers.

This Position Statement, however, presents a different perspective on the role of the human role climate as a hazard within the broader range of hazards that society and the environment face [disclosure: I was one of the members that helped prepare this Position Statement]. (Climate Science)

Gore cites political will, claims scriptural mandate on environmental issues - ATLANTA (BP)–Protecting the earth from global warming is a mandatory part of following Jesus, former Vice President Al Gore said at a "Stewardship of the Earth" luncheon Jan. 31 during the New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta.

"This is not a political issue," Gore told a crowd of approximately 2,500 paying attendees. "It is a moral issue. It is an ethical issue. It is a spiritual issue."

The Crone just gets worse and worse: Late and Lame on Warming - Even allowing for the low expectations we bring to any lame-duck president’s final State of the Union address, President Bush’s brief discussion of climate change seemed especially disconnected from reality: from the seriousness and urgency of the problem and from his own responsibility for obstructing progress.

His call for a new international agreement to address global warming was disingenuous, coming as it did from a president who rejected the Kyoto Protocol as soon as he moved into the White House. His promise to work with other nations on new, low-carbon technologies is one he has been unveiling for the last seven years.

We were told that Mr. Bush’s thinking on global warming had evolved. So there were slim hopes that, after years of stonewalling, he might agree to work with Congress on a mandatory program of capping carbon emissions. That would begin to address the problem at home and give the United States the credibility it needs to press other major emitters like China to act. No such luck. Mr. Bush remains wedded to a voluntary approach that has not inspired industry to take aggressive action.

Meanwhile, the stonewalling continues. Despite heavy pressure from Congress and many state governors, the Environmental Protection Agency shows no sign of reversing its decision to prohibit California and more than a dozen other states from moving forward with aggressive measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.

Nor has the E.P.A. made any visible effort to comply with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last spring requiring the agency to begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Mr. Bush said he would follow the court’s order and the E.P.A. promised at least a draft of new regulations by last fall. We are still waiting. (New York Times)

Actually the court did not require any such thing -- they merely opined the EPA had authority to do so if they saw fit.

Doubtless this appeals to them: Mad Magazine Uses Pulitzer Winners to Tweak Bush - The “usual gang of idiots,” as the editorial staff of Mad magazine lovingly describes itself, produces cultural and political parody every month. For the next issue, however, the gang has recruited some very special help.

“Why George W. Bush Is in Favor of Global Warming,” a two-page spread that the magazine calls an exposé, has been illustrated by 10 Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonists. They try to offer reasons why environmental apocalypse might be a good thing for President Bush, with observations like, “His worries about how future generations will remember his presidency won’t matter if there are no future generations.”

Other potential upsides are that Iraq could literally be melted off the earth, and rising oceans could submerge lefty strongholds like New York, Boston and San Francisco. (New York Times)

U.S. stance on climate change shifting, conference delegates say - HONOLULU, Hawaii -- A meeting on climate change ended without concrete targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions, but participants praised what they saw as a new willingness by the United States to discuss possible solutions. (AP)

US Sees Positive Mood Shift at Hawaii Climate Talks - HONOLULU - The Bush administration's environment policy chief sounded optimistic on Thursday about US-hosted climate change talks, noting a mood shift among the world's biggest greenhouse polluting countries.

In contrast to grumbling at the fringes of the first US-sponsored conference on the issue in September, representatives of 17 major economies at the Hawaii meeting are now ready to talk about specific things to do to combat climate change, said James Connaughton, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

"You're not seeing the questioning, the concerns, you're not seeing that," Connaughton said in an interview on the second and final day of the closed-door sessions. "If anything, the main point of uncertainty to the discussions is how we schedule and organize ourselves over the next five to six months." (Reuters)

Canada Panel Suggests US$2 Bln Carbon Capture Plan - OTTAWA - Canadian governments should spend C$2 billion (US$2 billion) to encourage the capture and storage of carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a government-commissioned panel recommends.

The panel report, released late on Thursday, flags carbon capture as a way of curbing emissions while continuing to make economic progress, but the panel said it needs government help to get the idea off the ground.

"Canada possesses the technology, geology, and expertise to be a world leader in the development and implementation of CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology," the report said.

"But as with any new environmental technology, a financial gap exists between the cost of a plant with CCS and what would otherwise be built to produce the same industrial outputs." (Reuters)

Australia calls for global action on climate change - HONOLULU, United States -- Australia on Thursday called for truly global action by both developed and developing countries to address climate change.

"The world needs all countries to work together and agree on actions to address this common challenge," Penny Wong, Australian Minister for Climate Change and Water, said in a statement at the end of a two-day meeting on energy security and climate change.

"We need to ensure that this includes a long-term global goal, which would give the world a shared aspiration on climate change, would help to maintain political momentum and would send a clear, long-term signal to the global business community," Wong said.

The meeting, known as Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change (MEM), concluded without reaching any consensus on ways to fight climate change. (China Daily)

You have to feel a bit sorry for Australia's newly-minted government -- they haven't a clue where they stand on anything yet. Half the time they seem to be bumping into themselves going the other way.

Abolish Texas? More global frauding - Lord Christopher Monckton has the most trenchant short critique of the global warming fraud I've ever read. Monckton is a former Margaret Thatcher advisor, and is fighting the good fight as vigorously and honestly as anyone in the world.

Lord Monckton writes that the whole global warming campaign is "a foofaraw of pseudo-science, exaggerations, and errors." A "foofaraw" indeed.

Here's the newest fraud: A Science magazine article claims that IF you believe the grossly alarmist assumptions of the UN "consensus" panel on human-caused global warming, all of the American Southwest has to come to a screeching halt! America is running dry! Stop all human development in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. You're burning up the planet!

But of course the premise itself is dubious and completely politicized, a gross abuse of climate modeling driven by socialist ideology. From false premises you can arrive at any false conclusion you want. (James Lewis, American Thinker)

Amazon research raises tough questions - MANAUS, Brazil—Julio Tota stood atop a 195-foot steel tower in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, watching "rivers of air" flowing over an unbroken green canopy that stretched as far as the eye could see.

These billows of fog showed researcher Tota how greenhouse gases emitted by decaying organic material on the forest floor don't rise straight into the atmosphere, as scientists had supposed.

Instead, they hover and drift—confounding scientific efforts to unlock the secrets of the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness.

"What we've learned is the Amazon rain forest is much more fragile and much more complex than we had first imagined," Tota said. "My research is pretty specific. It's aimed at showing why all our measurements are probably off."

Tota is part of the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment, a decade-old endeavor involving hundreds of scientists, led by Brazilians and with funding from NASA and the European Union. Their open-air "laboratories" are 15 such observation posts spread over an area of rain forest larger than Europe.

The project's goal is to make the best scientific arguments for why this vast rain forest—along with other endangered forests in Africa, southeast Asia and elsewhere—is essential to combating global climate change.

But as the first phase of the $100 million experiment draws to a close, its researchers acknowledge that the data have raised more questions than answers.

Scientists can now say with certainty that the Amazon is neither the lungs of the Earth, nor the planet's air conditioner. Paradoxically, the forest's cooling vapors also trap heat, by reflecting it back toward Earth in much the same way greenhouse gases do.

But a key question remains unanswered: Does the Amazon work as a net carbon "sink," absorbing carbon dioxide, or is it adding more CO2 to the atmosphere than it is subtracting, because of burning and other deforestation that have claimed an average 8,000 square miles—an area the size of Israel or New Jersey—each year of the past decade? (Associated Press)

Carbon hot air permeates everything: To save a forest: World eyes grand plan of payoffs to preserve trees, protect climate - BALI, Indonesia (AP) For decades, a flood of aid and an army of conservationists couldn't save Indonesia's rain forests from illegal loggers, land-hungry peasants and the spread of giant plantations. Now the world is looking at a simpler approach: up-front cash.

Whether it was arming forest police or backing schemes to certify legal logs, no tactic could silence the chain saws or douse the intentional fires that each day destroy 20 more square miles (50 more square kilometers) of Indonesia's rain forests, and an estimated 110 square miles (285 square kilometers) elsewhere in the world's tropics.

The problem was pure economics: Neither local authorities nor the rural poor, in Indonesia and elsewhere, have a material incentive to keep their forests intact.

That could now change because of a decision at December's U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, to negotiate a deal, as part of the next international climate agreement, under which countries would be rewarded for reducing their galloping rates of deforestation, a big contributor to global warming.

The cash might come directly from a fund financed by richer northern nations, or through "carbon credits" granted per unit of forest saved. The credits could be traded on the world carbon market, where a northern industry can buy such allowances to help meet its own required reductions in emissions of global-warming gases.

Indonesia and other tropical countries backing the "avoided deforestation" concept hope this carbon price will outpace what landowners could get from logging the forests or clearing them for palm oil, rubber, soybean or other plantations. (Associated Press)

Shoppers care more about animals than climate - Animal welfare and fair trade are far bigger concerns to UK consumers than climate change, according to a huge new poll of UK shoppers.

Only 4% rate climate change as their top ethical priority, compared with 21% who think animal welfare is the most important issue and 14% who rate fair trade as their key concern.

The findings come from a survey conducted by the Co-op grocery business that has been used to draw up a "responsible retailing" policy, designed to reflect shoppers' concerns.

The Co-op claims the survey is the biggest poll of consumer ethics ever undertaken. The supermarket group analysed responses to a detailed, four-page questionnaire from more than 100,000 members and customers. It intends to use their responses to guide changes to the way it does business. (Scenta)

4%? Way too many people have fallen for this crap.

Dopier by the minute: Supermarkets to weigh up carbon labels - SHOPPERS may soon be able tell what foods on the supermarket shelves are adding to global warming - in much the same way they can read the label to see if an item is high in fat or sugar.

Woolworths and the Australian Food and Grocery Council will examine the benefits of carbon labelling, which allows customers to see at a glance how much greenhouse gas was used to produce the product.

"We will explore the costs and benefits of carbon labelling, to see whether it could provide a consistent, transparent and easily understood measure of climate impact across different products," council chief executive Dick Wells said.

The study followed a call by the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) for the Federal Government to adopt a national labelling system to measure the entire carbon footprint of food and household products. (The Sun-Herald)

Oil Not a Fossil Fuel? - Although you would not know it from reading articles about energy in the popular press, there are actually two competing theories about the nature of oil and natural gas. The dominant paradigm is that oil and natural gas are biogenic: that is, they are formed from compression of the remains of photosynthetic organism over centuries and millennia. The rival paradigm, which was developed in the 1800s by Russian scientists and popularized in the west by polymath Thomas Gold, is that oil and natural gas are abiogenic: that is, they are formed from non-biological chemical processes that convert carbon from one of the Earth's inner layers (the mantle) into longer carbon-chains as these lighter carbon compounds rise toward the surface of the Earth. (Ken Green, Planet Gore)

British plans for wind turbines contested by defence ministry: report - Britain’s defence ministry has raised objections over proposals to ramp up the proportion of the country’s energy produced by wind farms, because of concerns over the impact of the turbines on military radar, The Times reported on Monday.

The poison seeps further: Wall Street Shows Skepticism Over Coal - Three of Wall Street’s biggest investment banks are set to announce today that they are imposing new environmental standards that will make it harder for companies to get financing to build coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

Rightly so: Energy firm wants carbon freedom at new coal-fired plant - The government is expected to approve the building of a coal-fired power station without insisting that it tries to reduce its climate change emissions, according to emails seen by the Guardian.

The correspondence, released under freedom of information legislation, apparently shows that civil servants caved in last month to pressure from German energy company Eon and agreed not to require "carbon capture and storage" technology as a condition for approval of the new Kingsnorth power station on the Medway estuary in Kent.

The technology, which is still in development, could reduce carbon emissions from the power station by up to 90%. It will be one of the country's largest emitters of the main greenhouse gas.

However, emails between Eon and an official in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform suggest that the company is confident that the secretary of state, John Hutton, will formally approve the 1600MW plant in May without it having to make assurances over carbon capture. (John Vidal, The Guardian)

Biofuels: the future? - Biofuels are being championed as the eco-friendly alternative to oil, gas and coal, which could revive Britain's farming industry. But how green are they? And is it right to grow crops for fuel instead of food? Fred Pearce investigates (London Telegraph)

London Protesters target UK’s largest biofuel supplier, Greenergy - While we agree biofuels are of limited value and should not be subsidized, much less mandated, we sure wouldn’t like to be seen on the same side of the street as these guys. (The "Deathanol" banner is certainly colorful though…)

NASA Finds Glacial Sediments Adding to Louisiana Coast's Sinking - A study by NASA and Louisiana State University scientists finds that sediments deposited into the Mississippi River Delta thousands of years ago when North America's glaciers retreated are contributing to the ongoing sinking of Louisiana's coastline. The weight of these sediments is causing a large section of Earth's crust to sag at a rate of 0.1 to 0.8 centimeters (0.04 to 0.3 inches) a year.

The sediments pose a particular challenge for New Orleans, causing it to sink irreversibly at a rate of about 0.4 centimeters (0.17 inches) a year, according to data from a network of global positioning system stations and a model of sediment data collected from the northern Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Delta.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 focused national attention on the Gulf coast's vulnerability to hurricanes due to loss of wetlands and sea level rise. These new findings add another factor for scientists, government agencies and the public to consider when assessing the vulnerability of the region to hurricanes and large storms. (NASA)

Oh... To Pull a Thorn From the Side of the Planet - Environmentally friendly flowers are a hard sell. After all, most people don’t eat them. (New York Times)

Gene guards grain-producing grasses so people and animals can eat - Purdue University and USDA-Agricultural Research Service scientists have discovered that a type of gene in grain-producing plants halts infection by a disease-causing fungus that can destroy crops vital for human food supplies.

The research team is the first to show that the same biochemical process protects an entire plant family - grasses - from the devastating, fungal pathogen. The naturally occurring disease resistance probably is responsible for the survival of grains and other grasses over the past 60 million years.

The findings will stimulate the design of new resistance strategies against additional diseases in grasses and other plants. Grasses' ability to ward off pathogens is a major concern because grasses, including corn, barley, rice, oats and sorghum, provide most of the calories people consume, and some species also increasingly are investigated for conversion into energy.

A resistance gene, first discovered in corn, and the fungal toxin-fighting enzyme it produces apparently provide a biological mechanism that guards all grass species from this fungus, said Guri Johal, a Purdue associate professor of botany and plant pathology. He is senior and corresponding author of the study published this week (Jan. 28-Feb. 1) in Early Edition, the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It will appear in the Feb. 5 print edition. (Purdue University

GMO crops may just prove an impossiblity to resist - A First World War song asked "How ya' going to keep them down on the farm, after they've seen Paree?"

A modernized version of that ditty these days might go like this: How ya' going to keep them growing wheat barley oats -- after they've grown GMOs?

Processors and some commodity group leaders have been complaining from the podiums lately that small grain cereal production in North America is being pushed aside as farmers increasingly devote their acres to corn and soybeans. It's partly due to slanted U.S. farm supports, but it is also due to technological advancements.

Biotechnology in the form of herbicide tolerance, and genetic improvements, such as hybridization in corn, have simplified management as well as stabilized and even increased yield potential. The growing regions have expanded as well due to shorter-season varieties that can tolerate more cold and drought. So even farmers in some areas of Manitoba can now cash in on the corn-soybean equation.

Of course, the higher yields and larger production areas of corn and soybeans created oversupplies, which in turn placed downward pressure on market prices. As these crops are the dominant trendsetters in grains and oilseed pricing worldwide, that has had a depressing effect on all cereal and oilseed prices. So farmers were faced with a choice between growing easily managed crops that rarely cover costs of production, or crops that may cover costs of production but are harder to grow. Which would you choose? (Winnipeg Free Press)

February 1, 2008

Hurricane Hysteria Revisited - Will global warming increase hurricane activity? Two studies published in the last week arrived at opposite conclusions. (Steven Milloy,

Current Science, Hollywood Hokum - So much then for one of the most ridiculous films ever made about ‘global warming’, The Day After Tomorrow. You may remember its absurd plotline:

‘Global warming’ causes large areas of the Greenland and the Antarctic ice shelves to break off and melt, diluting the Atlantic Ocean with large amounts of fresh water. This disrupts the ocean’s so-called ‘thermohaline’ circulation and slows the Gulf Stream, causing a rapid cooling of the northern hemisphere, which triggers a series of anomalies and extreme weather events, eventually leading up to a massive ‘global superstorm’ system consisting of three gigantic hurricane-like superstorms, which result, within days(!), in an Ice Age for the Northern Hemisphere. Ironically, the movie follows the actions of one Jack Hall, a palaeoclimatologist, who works for NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

I say ironically because an excellent new review paper, ‘Ocean circulation in a warming climate’, by NOAA staff member, J. R. Toggweiler, writing with Joellen Russell of the Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, has just been published in Nature 451, 286-288 (January 17) which argues precisely the opposite: (Global Warming Politics)

Australia's La Nina Rains Set to Last Until Mid-'08  - SYDNEY - A rain-bearing La Nina weather pattern, which has begun to end years of serious drought in Australia, was expected to remain until the middle of 2008, the weather bureau said on Thursday.

Australia's parched farm sector welcomed the forecast, although weather officials warned that La Nina also brought the risk of more floods and cyclones.

"There's a higher-than-normal chance of that happening when you're in a La Nina," Brad Murphy, senior climatologist at the National Climate Centre, told Reuters.

"That's always a risk. You never get just the right amount of rainfall everywhere. You either get too much or not enough."

Weather officials have already warned that La Nina, which results from warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures around Australia's northeast, could make 2008 a 30-year peak cyclone season. (Reuters)

Here it comes: Cede their sovereignty to a new world body… - A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Carbon Dioxide in Not the Primary Cause of Global Warming: The Future Can Not Cause the Past - Paper by Allan M.R. MacRae, Calgary Alberta Canada

Despite continuing increases in atmospheric CO2, no significant global warming occurred in the last decade, as confirmed by both Surface Temperature and satellite measurements in the Lower Troposphere. Contrary to IPCC fears of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, Earth may now be entering another natural cooling trend. Earth Surface Temperature warmed approximately 0.7 degrees Celsius from ~1910 to ~1945, cooled ~0.4 C from ~1945 to ~1975, warmed ~0.6 C from ~1975 to 1997, and has not warmed significantly from 1997 to 2007.

CO2 emissions due to human activity rose gradually from the onset of the Industrial Revolution, reaching ~1 billion tonnes per year (expressed as carbon) by 1945, and then accelerated to ~9 billion tonnes per year by 2007. Since ~1945 when CO2 emissions accelerated, Earth experienced ~22 years of warming, and ~40 years of either cooling or absence of warming.

Climate change meeting marked by skepticism - HONOLULU (United States), Jan. 31 -- Amid skepticism, representatives from the world's major economies continued discussions on reducing emissions linked to global warming behind closed doors here Thursday.

About 160 people representing 16 countries, the United Nations and the European Union are attending the "Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change," the second in a series of talks initiated last year by U.S. President George W. Bush.

The talks were "constructive" but differences remained, said an EU representative who emerged from the talks. He refused to give details or to be named.

U.S. officials said the Bush administration launched the talks in a bid to advance United Nations climate change negotiations.

Some European nations as well as environmentalists have accused the Bush administration of using the major economies talks to subvert U.N. negotiations to address climate change. (Xinhua)

Nations Try to Advance Climate Road Map - HONOLULU - Delegates from the nations that emit the most pollutants worked Thursday to advance discussions on how the world can combat global climate change.

Phil Woolas, Britain's environment minister, said the closed-door talks addressed whether nations should compile a series of national commitments to reduce emissions. Another option is to set a worldwide long-term goal and then divide the emissions reductions needed among different countries, he said during a break in the meeting.

Delegates from 16 nations, plus the E.U. and the U.N., gathered for the U.S.-sponsored meeting also discussed what temperature they'd like the Earth to be, Woolas said.

"We really are engaged in pretty intensive talks about what does each other mean, what does each other want, what are the fears, what are the suspicions," Woolas said Thursday, the second and last day of the meeting.

Delegates say they'd like the Hawaii talks to advise negotiators charged with crafting a 2009 road map for fighting global warming.

The U.S. and other countries are showing more flexibility at the Hawaii conference than at earlier climate change meetings, Woolas said, confident the talks would be productive.

"There's a realization that we have to get an agreement; otherwise we're all going to drown," Woolas said. (Associated Press)

Czech president calls EU climate measures 'tragic mistake' - BERLIN — Right-wing Czech President Vaclav Klaus slammed the EU's sweeping new measures to fight climate change as a "tragic mistake" in an interview with a German newspaper on Thursday.

"I believe that our government and others will stand up against these bureaucratic ideas," Klaus told the Handelsblatt business daily.

"This package is without doubt a tragic mistake, a misunderstanding of nature and an unnecessary limitation of human activity," the outspoken Eurosceptic leader added. (AFP)

Der Spiegel on: Czech President Klaus’ Thirst for Power - Czech President Vaclav Klaus persistently denies climate change is caused by people and rails against the European Union. Even though his fellow Czechs don’t share all of his views, his prospects for re-election on Feb. 8 are good.

On Sep. 24, 2007, a man with a mustache and thin wire-rimmed glasses stepped up to a black podium in New York. More than 70 heads of state were in attendance in the General Assembly chamber at the United Nations. Speaking quietly and in perfect English, Vaclav Klaus, the president of the small Czech Republic, had been given the opportunity to tell the assembled dignitaries what he thinks about the current state of the world. According to Klaus, the greenhouse effect is nonexistent, our weather changes every couple of centuries, we are powerless to do anything about it and we certainly cannot stop climate change. It must have been one of the high points in the life of this contrary politician from Prague.

There was hardly any applause at the end of his 15-minute speech, but Klaus doesn’t need applause. Once again, he had given them all a piece of his mind: the environmentalists, the bureaucrats and good people like Al Gore. Klaus is quick to mention that after his speech at the UN, many heads of state came up to him, slapped him on the back and quietly congratulated him. He is convinced that he alone, the unerringly sharp thinker, had dared to challenge a world of political correctness. But it’s always the same story with Klaus: he alone is right, he alone is courageous, and everyone else is either cowardly or dim-witted.

You’re no climatologist! Or, who is allowed to criticize? - There is a distressing commonality when discussing climate science lately: many people skip past the data and arguments offered by a skeptic and ask the question, “Are you a climatologist?” The implication, sometimes flatly stated, is that, if you are not, then you have no business offering a negative opinion on the state of “the” science.

It is distressing because I repeatedly have to point out that it is a logical fallacy that because a person is not a climatologist their skeptical argument is therefore false. If you like labels, this fallacious retort is called the Appeal to Authority. Each argument must be assessed on its merits and cannot be dismissed because the person offered it does not meet a certain credentialing standard. Climate theory arguments from non-experts cannot be banned or forbidden tout court.

Oh... Pitt Law Class Focuses on Climate Change and the Law - PITTSBURGH-Google “climate change” and you’ll get more that 24 million hits, from a Wikipedia definition to a “New York Times’” story on global warming to YouTube’s “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See.” The world is taking notice and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law is no exception. This term, from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Pitt is offering a new law course, Climate Change and the Law.

Jennifer Smokelin-a 1992 summa cum laude Pitt law alumnus, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania with a BSE degree in system science and engineering and decision information systems, and an attorney at Reed Smith-developed Pitt’s multidisciplinary course, which offers students a three-pronged approach to the issue, making the course appropriate for law, business, and engineering students. The course is designed to help students understand the science, law, and business of climate change by exploring the problems of global warming and climate change, law and policy, and corporate environmental strategy.

“Only by understanding these three areas can this budding legal community adequately grasp the magnitude of this issue and only then can it begin to address it,” Smokelin said. (Press release)

A few things they forgot to mention… - Facing the climate change challenge

The scientific basis for concern over global warming is really very simple. It comes from two undisputed facts that are often overlooked in the noisy public debate over climate change.

One is that carbon dioxide, or CO2, and other gases trap heat, making the Earth warm. This is basic physics, known for more than 100 years, and is as uncontested as Newton’s laws of gravity.

Second, by burning fossil fuels, humans have increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 38 percent over natural levels. These unassailable observations come from the direct measurements of carbon dioxide pioneered by Charles David Keeling of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, extended back in time by measurements of bubbles of ancient air trapped in ice cores from Antarctica. (Jeff Severinghaus and Dan Cayan, San Diego Union-Tribune)

Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and yes, doubling the level of CO2 in the atmosphere will trivially warm the atmosphere. Where it becomes highly contentious is the "how much" and simple physics actually tells us "not much". The claims of "climate emergency" are based on the output of models using most extraordinary climate sensitivities and magic multipliers for alleged positive feedbacks that no one has observed. You can follow the numbers through here. You can see the world not behaving as hypothesized here. We have a basic greenhouse primer for you here.

California’s CO2 Blame Game Vs. Automakers - California’s attorney general should be an outspoken opponent of frivolous lawsuits, not the state’s leading proponent of such litigation. Yet, Jerry Brown continues to pursue the big six automakers, alleging that CO2 vehicle emissions from their products constitute a "public nuisance."

Now before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the lawsuit seeks untold millions of dollars in damages — costs which will be passed on to consumers for state bureaucrats to allegedly fight global warming. This despite a trial court decision last September that the suit lacked legal merit.

A year ago, we wrote a letter to Brown urging him to drop a lawsuit that he himself criticized as "speculative" and legally questionable during his campaign. But instead he took over the case from his predecessor, Bill Lockyer, and pursued it with grandstanding fervor.

More troubling than Brown’s political manipulation of the courts is the dangerous precedent that this lawsuit could set. The legal theory of "public nuisance" that the case relies on is so vague and imprecise that nobody really knows what conduct it prohibits.

Bureaucratic empire-building: Garrett powers back to climate change action - WHEN Kevin Rudd created a Department of Climate Change the move was widely interpreted as a body blow to the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, who had apparently lost responsibility for the environmental issue of the day.

But in the Canberra game of bureaucratic turf warfare Mr Garrett has clawed back considerable ground in recent weeks.

The Prime Minister last week quietly changed his allocation of administrative responsibilities, giving Environment carriage of community and household climate change action, greenhouse gas abatement and energy efficiency.

The Department of the Environment is also interpreting its responsibility for environment protection and biodiversity conservation as putting it in charge of a wide range of domestic programs on climate change. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Europe climate threat is hot air - JOSE Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Council and former prime minister of Portugal, dropped a policy bomb last week. He threatened climate trade war. Europe plans to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by a further 20 per cent by 2020. It would restrict imports from countries that did not do the same thing, specifically the US and China. He called the trade problem the nuclear bomb of the climate change debate.

Australia, no longer a Kyoto recalcitrant and the contributor of a mere 1.5per cent of global emissions, was not mentioned.

Furthermore, the Rudd Government has looked approvingly on, but has not yet adopted, the EU target. That is under review.

Expect trouble. There are two lessons for Australia from Barroso’s bomb blast and bombast.

Antarctic Ice Riddle Keeps Sea-Level Secrets - TROLL STATION, Antarctica - A deep freeze holding 90 percent of the world's ice, Antarctica is one of the biggest puzzles in debate on global warming with risks that any thaw could raise sea levels faster than UN projections.

Even if a fraction melted, Antarctica could damage nations from Bangladesh to Tuvalu in the Pacific and cities from Shanghai to New York. It has enough ice to raise sea levels by 57 metres (187 ft) if it melted, over thousands of years.

A year after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected sea level rises by 2100 of about 20 to 80 cms (8-32 inches), a Reuters poll of 10 of the world's top climatologists showed none think that range is alarmist.

Six experts stuck by the projections, saying the response of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland was still unclear, and four other experts, including one of the authors of the IPCC report, projected gains could be 1 or even 2 metres by 2100. (Reuters)

Current Status of Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice Coverage - As we approach the time of year of the peak of areal coverage of Arctic sea ice and the minimum areal coverage in Antarctic sea ice, Climate Science is presenting a status report based on the excellent data analysis provided at the University of Illinois website The Cryosphere Today. The coverage for January 31 2008 is about 900,000 square kilometers below average for the Arctic [Northern Hemisphere] (see) and about 500,000 square kilometers above average for the Antarctic [Southern Hemisphere] (see). The Illinois website has also introduced an effective display of past Arctic sea ice coverage at the same time of the year (see Compare Daily Sea Ice).

What has not been discussed, however, with respect to the global sea ice coverage is the relationship to albedo weighted by the time of year (i.e., an insolation-weighted albedo). We presented this concept in our papers

Pielke Sr., R.A., G.E. Liston, and A. Robock, 2000: Insolation-weighted assessment of Northern Hemisphere snow-cover and sea-ice variability. J. Geophys. Res. Lett., 27, 3061-3064.

Pielke Sr., R.A., G.E. Liston, W.L. Chapman, and D.A. Robinson, 2004: Actual and insolation-weighted Northern Hemisphere snow cover and sea ice — 1974-2002. Climate Dynamics, 22, 591-595 DOI10.1007/s00382-004-0401-5. (Climate Science)

In the virtual realm: Climate change studies urge California, West to prepare for floods - SAN FRANCISCO -- California and Bay Area cities must start planning now for new and costly systems to control increasing runoff from urban storms, springtime floods from swollen rivers and rising sea levels as they invade lowlands, all as a result of global warming, climate scientists and water experts warn.

Climate change, they say, will result in thinner winter snowpacks in the Sierra and other western mountains. As snowpacks melt earlier each spring, the meltwater will increase river flows and raise new threats of floods. Meanwhile, even a small increase in sea levels could threaten cities and farmlands in low-lying areas, like the Delta and Silicon Valley.

New urban systems to handle winter storm runoff, new designs for dams and flood control structures, and higher dikes and levees around lands that even now lie below sea level will be needed, the scientists argue. (David Perlman, SF Chronicle)

In the real world: Sierra snowpack up to 123 percent of normal for this date - As state water experts Thursday donned backcountry skis and Gore-Tex vests to measure the snowpack near Highway 50 in the Sierra, they received some encouraging news: There's plenty of snow in Them Thar Hills!

What a difference a year makes.

After last year's bone-dry winter in which the Sierra had just 40 percent of its average annual snowpack - and local water agencies encouraged residents to start conserving - the newest tallies show the snowpack ranges from 115 percent to 123 percent of average for this time of year, depending upon the location. It's still too early to say whether the season will end up wet or dry, but state water officials are cautiously optimistic the state is not in a drought.

"It's a complete turnaround," said Don Strickland, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources. "Things are looking a lot better."

Indeed, a light snow was falling as workers measured the water content of the snowpack Thursday morning. And meteorologists say that even more storms are on the way.

Workers have had a hard time taking all the state's snow measurements because some regions have so much fresh powder - the snow's water content level is three times what it was this time last year - that snowmobiles aren't able to access those points, said Elissa Lynn, senior meteorologist for the Department of Water Resources.

"It's been a huge, productive, good month," she said. (Mercury News)

21st century water management: Calculating with the unknown - Climate change is making a central assumption of water management obsolete: Water-resource risk assessment and planning are currently based on the notion that factors such as precipitation and streamflow fluctuate within an unchanging envelope of variability. But anthropogenic change of Earth’s climate is altering the means and extremes of these factors so that this paradigm of stationarity no longer applies, researchers report in the latest issue of Science. (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)

World urged to help poor adapt to climate change - We are completely in favor of adaptation (read: development, wealth generation) which is why we are so offended by the absurd distraction of so-called “catastrophic global warming”, which is a complete nonsense.

Climate change researcher suggests ways of adapting to changes - Despite the frigid temperatures outside, global warming has begun to show its effects in Saskatchewan.

Climate change researcher Elaine Wheaton spoke at the University of Regina on Thursday evening to discuss her ideas on climate change and how it is effecting the prairies. She also added a unique angle to the issue by suggesting ways of adapting to the changes, not just ways to prevent them.

"First, I want to introduce people to the new climate because we have already gone through so much change in our climate, it doesn't match (the climate) we had 20 or 30 years ago," said Wheaton.

She added that the effects of climate change are greatest in the Prairie provinces and the north. These areas are the first to see changes because of their snow and ice coverage which reflect the increased heat from the sun, she said.

The most obvious changes are evident in the temperature, with fewer days in the minus 40 degree range, a longer summer season and decreases in the snow cover, she said.

Wheaton goes beyond acknowledging global warming and makes suggestions on how people can adapt to these changes in regard to water, agriculture, forestry and health. She even suggests there could be benefits to global warming if people learn how to adapt to these changes. (Stephanie Flegel, Leader-Post)

Rope-a-dope: China urges practical action to slow climate change - HONOLULU, United States, - A senior Chinese official said here Wednesday that all relevant countries should take practical actions to slow down the climate change process.

Addressing a closed session at the second "Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change," which opened here Wednesday, Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, said that to discuss about setting a long-term goal for slowing down climate change requires time.

"What matters most now is to urge all countries in their various development phases to take practical action in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.

The UNFCCC is the parent of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the landmark environmental treaty negotiated in Japan's ancient capital that mandates cuts in the gases blamed for global warming. (Xinhua)

Green groups cry foul as UK claims progress towards Kyoto targets - Britain's greenhouse gas emissions fell slightly last year as homes and offices used less fuel during the mild winter and recycled more waste.

Overall, UK greenhouse gas emissions for 2006 dropped to 652.3m tonnes, a reduction of 0.5% on the previous year, figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show.

CO2 emissions, accounting for 85% of the total UK greenhouse gas output, dropped by 0.1% in the same period.

The figures put Britain on course to meet legally-binding Kyoto targets to cut emissions by 12.5% of their 1990 levels in the five year period leading up to 2012. But they fall short of those needed to meet a self-imposed government target of 20% by the end of the decade and 60% by 2050.

Green campaigners criticised the government for not doing more to reduce emissions and for excluding the UK's share of international shipping and aviation, the latter of which rose by 1.5% in 2006. Emissions from domestic aviation, which fell by 2.8%, are included in the statistics. (The Guardian)

US Scraps Plan for Biggest Clean-Coal Power Plant - WASHINGTON - Ballooning construction costs that nearly doubled the price tag for building the world's cleanest coal-burning power plant to US$1.8 billion prompted the US Energy Department on Wednesday to pull the plug on funding the project.

A consortium of utility and coal companies in December picked a site in Mattoon, Illinois, to build the so-called FutureGen plant, which would burn coal and sock away heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions underground.

However, the Energy Department, which would bear 74 percent of the plant's costs, balked at cost overruns for the project - originally expected to come in near US$900 million.

The department's decision elicited howls of protest from Illinois officials who accused the department of playing politics by panning the project after competing sites in Texas were rejected. Department officials denied those accusations. (Reuters)

China growth means coal is the new gold-Macquarie - SINGAPORE, Jan 30 - Coal prices are set to rise by more than 50 percent this year as demand for power to fuel growth in China and other emerging economies helps make it a recession-proof commodity, a top analyst said on Wednesday.

"Coal is the new gold," said Richard Gibbs, Global Head of Economics at Macquarie Bank on the sidelines of the Coal Markets 2008 conference in Singapore on Wednesday.

He forecast thermal coal prices would average $88 a tonne in 2008 and 2009, up 57 percent from the 2007-2008 contract period. Metallurgical coal, used to make steel, would average $150 in 2008, up 53 percent from current levels, and $140 in 2009.

Gibbs said industrial development in emerging economies in Asia meant huge demand for new power and the only technology that made sense to supply growing needs was coal.

Predictably: RWE halts investments in German power plants due to rising emission costs - FRANKFURT - RWE AG is halting investments in new German power plants over concerns that rising costs of processing carbon dioxide emissions will lower profitability, Ulrich Jobs, head of RWE’s power unit, told Financial Times Deutschland.

Jobs, who is also slated to become the German utility’s chief operating officer April 1, said RWE will not implement plans to build a 2.2 bln eur power plant elsewhere in Germany, after public protests at a site earmarked in Ensdorf led it to abandon the project.

‘We’re prepared to invest’, Jobs said. ‘But we will only implement new projects if economic conditions are right again.’ (Thomson Financial)

Subsidy farming: A Green Energy Industry Takes Root Under the California Sun - SAN FRANCISCO — The sun is starting to grow jobs.

While interest in alternative energy is climbing across the United States, solar power especially is rising in California, the product of billions of dollars in investment and mountains of enthusiasm.

In recent months, the industry has added several thousand jobs in the production of solar energy cells and installation of solar panels on roofs. A spate of investment has also aimed at making solar power more efficient and less costly than natural gas and coal.

Entrepreneurs, academics and policy makers say this era’s solar industry is different from what was tried in the 1970s, when Jerry Brown, then the governor of California, invited derision for envisioning a future fueled by alternative energy. (New York Times)

Britain looks to the sea for clean energy - LONDON — Britain is looking toward a 10-mile-long barrier to harness the tides and a landscape dotted with giant wind turbines in the headlong rush to keep its industrial wheels turning and its homes warm.

"Fantastic" is the word that Business Secretary John Hutton used to describe one of the more dramatic proposals. The so-called Severn Barrage, a tidal plant that government scientists think could supply about 5 percent of the nation's electricity, will generate 40,000 jobs and cost $28 billion.

The key to this project is the River Severn's tidal "bore," a range of more than 45 feet between low and high tides — second only to Canada's Bay of Fundy.

Mr. Hutton conceded the whopping cost but insisted that "the need to take radical steps to tackle climate change is now beyond doubt." (Al Webb, Washington Times)

When the ecobrats carry on about the loss of estuarine habitat and all the poor displaced critters, do remind them this is all due to Jim, Al and the watermelons. The Severne tidal flats decimated by the ecomyth of gorebull warming. Credit where credit's due...

Groups Challenge Alaska Petro Lease Sale - ANCHORAGE, Alaska— Groups of conservationists and Alaska Natives sued the federal government Thursday to stop a petroleum lease sale of a large area of the sea off Alaska.

The plaintiffs claim the environmental review by the Minerals Management Service did not fairly evaluate the potential effects if offshore petroleum fields were developed in the lease area, just smaller than Pennsylvania.

They also say the federal government has ignored changing conditions in the Arctic Ocean, including record low summer sea ice, that already are stressing polar bears, whales and other Arctic sea life.

"The Chukchi Sea is an ecologically rich frontier environment, and it is changing rapidly due to global warming," said Stan Senner, Audubon Alaska executive director. "We barely know this changing seascape, and this is not the time to move forward with a massive lease sale." (Associated Press)

Flight tax to hit long-haul and heavy planes - Airlines that fly long-distance routes and own the heaviest aircraft will be the biggest losers under aviation tax proposals announced by the Treasury yesterday.

The government said it expects to phase out air passenger duty (APD) by November 2009 and replace it with a levy that charges individual aircraft by weight and distance travelled. All jets weighing more than 5.7 tonnes, including freight aircraft , which are exempt from APD, will be charged according to their weight on take-off from the UK and their final destination.

According to a Treasury consultation published yesterday, the tax could be split into three distance bands: the European Economic Area; less than 3,000 miles from London but outside Europe, and more than 3,000 miles from the capital. The document did not reveal the proposed tariffs. Under APD, passengers pay £10 for each short-haul flight out of the UK, rising to £40 for a long-haul economy-class ticket. It raises about £2bn a year and is resented by airlines, who regularly demand proof of the environmental projects that its proceeds are supposed to be invested in.

British Airways, which will be hard hit by the new regime, criticised the proposals. It said the EU emissions trading scheme, which airlines will join in 2011, was the best way of atoning for aviation's contribution to carbon dioxide emissions.

"Emissions trading leads directly to reduced emissions. Taxes do not. APD is not used to fund environmental benefits and there is no guarantee that a flight-based tax would," said BA. Friends of the Earth said the tax should be modified to encourage use of more fuel-efficient aircraft, echoing calls by easyJet. (The Guardian)

Corn on the Mob - Indonesia is a land in turmoil, home to massive volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. On Monday, January 14, it experienced a brand new type of disturbance, the world’s first food riot caused by another nation pandering to the global warming mob. Indonesians took to the streets, demanding that their government to do something about the price of soybeans, a dietary staple.

All over the world, food prices are on the rise. For most of the late 1990s and up until 2005, the price of beans on the Chicago Board of Trade had remained stable at about $5 a bushel. Since then, they have shot up over 150 percent, to around $13. Corn has doubled, to $5. Wheat prices have tripled.

It all started with the 2005 Energy Policy Act, passed by a Republican congress and signed by a Republican president, mandating that an increasing amount of ethanol be admixed with gasoline. The bill was sold as a road to "energy independence" and as lowering the amount of carbon dioxide we emit, reducing dreaded global warming.

By now, 15 percent of our corn crop is being distilled, diverted from the proper purpose for such distillates (i.e. drinking), combusted, and sent out your car’s tailpipe.

Nets and New Drug Make Inroads on Malaria - The report was one of the most hopeful signs in the long battle against a disease that is estimated to kill a million children a year in poor tropical countries. (New York Times)

Net benefits: Giving bed nets and drugs away free may be the way to deal with malaria - “FREE goods are worth what you pay for them” is the cynic's approach to the world, shared by hard-headed poverty-busters. Charging even a nominal price for things such as mosquito nets and condoms makes people take them more seriously, it is argued. Given away free, the nets may end up being used to catch fish rather than protecting sleeping people.

That does happen. Even so, a recent study in Kenya suggested providing malarial areas with large numbers of free bed nets brought better results than selling them. Now a new survey by the World Health Organisation (WHO), on behalf of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has shown that the approach works well in other countries, too.

Unlike most big do-gooding outfits, the Global Fund is flexible and iconoclastic. It was one of the first international aid organisations to come up with the radical idea of seeing whether its interventions actually work. Since it consists of a small secretariat in Geneva and a few local offices, it lacks the scientific and managerial infrastructure to do this itself. So it subcontracts the job—in this case to Arata Kochi, the head of WHO's anti-malaria operation. (The Economist)

Malaria vaccine trials begin using 'chimpanzee virus' - Trials are underway, funded by the Wellcome Trust, for a new vaccine to combat the most deadly form of malaria. For the first time ever, researchers will use a virus found in chimpanzees to boost the efficacy of the vaccine. The trials will take place at the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute, led by its Director, Professor Adrian Hill.

Malaria, caused by Plasmodium parasites, is one of the world's deadliest killers, killing over a million people each year, mainly women and young children in Africa and SE Asia. The most deadly species , P. falciparum, is responsible for 80% of malaria infections and 90% of deaths. As yet, there is no vaccine against malaria. This is because, for much of their life-cycle, the parasites responsible for infection live inside cells, where they cannot be reached by antibodies.

"We urgently need a vaccine to help in the fight against this deadly killer," says Professor Hill, a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow. "Malaria parasites are able to outwit our immune system by hiding out in the body's cells, however. Finding a way to generate enough immune cells and antibodies to identify and destroy the parasites will be the key to preventing infection." (Wellcome Trust)

Baby allergy fears 'over the top' - Mothers who fear their babies suffer from food allergies are largely wrong, research has found. More than 800 babies were monitored for three years, and more than a third of their parents, mainly mothers, said their child had a food intolerance. But just 27 were allergic to any food at the age of three, and fewer than 60 had a food allergy at any stage. The University of Portsmouth research also found that the incidence of food allergies is not rising. (BBC)

No fat people allowed: Only the slim will be allowed to dine in public! - It has actually happened. Lawmakers have proposed legislation that forbids restaurants and food establishments from serving food to anyone who is obese (as defined by the State). Under this bill, food establishments are to be monitored for compliance under the State Department of Health and violators will have their business permits revoked.

House Bill 282 was introduced in the 2008 Mississippi legislative session on Friday by Representative W.T. Mayhall, Jr., a retired pharmaceutical salesman with DuPont-Merk. Its co-authors are Bobby Shows, a businessman, and John Read, a pharmacist. (Junkfood Science)

Backing Words Up With (Intelligent, Targeted) Action - Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus are to be commended for challenging the conventional environmental policy paradigm and provoking a necessary dialogue on the future of environmental protection. As I have written elsewhere, Break Through is an important book. Their critique of contemporary environmentalism is important and insightful. They decry its overreliance on a "doomsday discourse" and lament the movement's mutation into yet another interest group within the Democratic Party's political coalition. Taken together, these failings inhibit the environmental movement's ability to spur meaningful policy change.

Still, even though Shellenberger and Nordhaus recognize the difference between a politics of limits and one of possibility, they do not seem to comprehend the problems common to all centralized, top-down policy initiatives--regulatory and subsidy-driven alike. In their book and essays, Shellenberger and Nordhaus correctly observe that regulatory approaches to climate change are "economically insufficient to accelerate the transition to clean energy." Yet the "investment-centered" approach they prefer still suffers from substantial limits, not least their preference for a centrally directed system of subsidies. Rather than grapple with the limits of top-down direction of investment and economic activity, they present a false dichotomy between laissez faire absolutism and government direction of investments. (Jonathan H. Adler, The New Republic)

Conservation strategies must shift with global environmental change, says CU-Boulder study - Sustaining and enhancing altered ecosystems has become the new mantra for conservation and restoration managers as ecosystems continue to change in response to global warming and other environmental changes, says a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Should animals that have died out in Britain be reintroduced into the wild? - Environmentalists hope beavers will soon be reintroduced to Scotland, subject to approval by the Scottish Executive. If the trial reintroduction gets the go-ahead three families of European beavers, about 15 to 20 animals, will be brought over from Norway and released into the Knapdale Forest in Mid-Argyll in the spring of 2009. Beavers were hunted to extinction in Scotland in the 16th century for their furs and a secretion, which provided one of the active ingredients in aspirin. Mammals have never been reintroduced into wild in the UK before, though four German beavers were released at a Lancashire nature reserve. 9London Independent)

Lost City pumps life-essential chemicals at rates unseen at typical black smokers - Hydrocarbons – molecules critical to life – are being generated by the simple interaction of seawater with the rocks under the Lost City hydrothermal vent field in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. (University of Washington)

EU lawyers take action against Poland over GMO ban - BRUSSELS - European Union regulators launched legal action against Poland at Europe's highest court on Thursday for the country's move to ban the trade in and planting of genetically modified seeds, the EU executive said.

Poland's plans for what amounts to a national GMO ban, announced last year, quickly drew criticism from European Commission lawyers who routinely scrutinise any such proposals.

Earlier this month, they said it had no scientific justification. But Poland's insistence in proceeding with the ban, despite several warning letters sent from Brussels, meant the Commission now had to resort to legal action, it said. (Reuters)