News & Views – October 24, 2011

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Europe’s opposition to GM crops is arrogant hypocrisy, Kenyan scientist warns – Europe’s opposition to genetically modified crops is robbing the developing world of a chance to feed itself and could threaten food security, a leading African scientist warns.
Dr Felix M’mboyi of the Kenya-based African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum has accused the European Union of indulging in “hypocrisy and arrogance” and called on development bodies within Europe to let African farmers make full use of GM crops to boost yields and feed a world population expected to reach 7 billion by the end of the year. (Observer)

To some extent, we agree: EPA chief: Obama not getting ‘enough credit’ on environment – EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is sharpening her attack on GOP attempts to thwart pollution rules and defending President Obama’s environmental record at a time when some activists are questioning whether the White House has their back. (E2 Wire)

The Department of Misanthropy is certainly an albatross to be much more firmly lashed about the neck of the Obama Administration, along with its job-decimating industrial sabotage.

UN close to ban on West’s toxic waste exports – A UN environmental conference in Cartagena, Colombia, attended by more than 170 countries, has agreed to accelerate a global ban on the export of hazardous waste, including old electronics and discarded computers and mobile phones, from developed to developing countries. (Independent)

Hmm… one man’s waste is another’s resource – and opportunity. Anti-consumer wackos are constantly trying to throttle waste streams to make consumption more difficult and expensive and they have been doing so since they shifted from overt communism to nature deification as their excuse for misanthropy. Whether this is actually good for developing countries is far less clear.

Neo-Malthusian hand-wringer: Crowded Earth: how many is too many? – Already straining to host seven billion souls, Earth is set to teem with billions more, and only a revolution in the use of resources can avert an environmental crunch, experts say.
As early as 1798, Thomas Malthus gloomily forecast that our ability to reproduce would quickly outstrip our ability to produce food, leading to mass starvation and a culling of the species.
But an industrial revolution and its impact on agriculture proved Malthus and later doomsayers wrong, even as our numbers doubled and redoubled with accelerating frequency. (AFP)

Stupid claim of the moment: Warming could exceed safe levels in this lifetime – Global temperature rise could exceed “safe” levels of two degrees Celsius in some parts of the world in many of our lifetimes if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, two research papers published in the journal Nature warned. (Reuters)

So what’s wrong with this?  Let’s pick some of the more obvious:

  1. Everyone experiences far more than their claimed “safe” warming annually – Earth’s mean temperature climbs about 4°C from January to July each and every year (and cools as much July to January).
  2. The Northern Hemisphere average near-surface (land) temperature changes through a 12°C range each year and locally a range of 40°C is perfectly normal in the populated mid to higher latitudes and/or altitudes.
  3. A warming of 10°C in a single day is not in the least noteworthy outside the tropics.

Obviously then there is nothing “unsafe” about a couple of degrees warming experienced over a lifetime since the natural world experiences much greater temperature changes hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually…

And this ignores one simple but critical fact: we still have exactly zero evidence that changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels above that thought to have been “normal” during ice ages have any discernible effect on global mean temperature whatsoever.

The seasonal pre-CoP propaganda-fest has become very, very tedious indeed. Wonder why the media keep regurgitating it?

World is warming. Pope is Catholic. – Quite an effort has been made by many people (including Dr Richard Muller) to portray the BEST pre-pre-pre-papers as some kind of death blow against climate skepticism, as if the whole debate had been a sports match with everybody pigeonholed in two opposite camps: here, the noble scientists finding out the world is warming; there, the ignoble skeptics pretending the world is not warming.
Needless to say, it’s all the usual crass, outdated lie. (Maurizio Morabito, OmniClimate)

WaPo’s “skeptic” actually has backed global warming for 30 years – The first rule of journalism is “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Brad Plumer of the Washington Post overlooked that rule in reporting that an alleged global warming skeptic is now a convert — because the “skeptic” in question — physicist Richard Muller of Berkeley — embraced the theory of man-made global warming 30 years ago. An online search easily disproved his claim of skepticism. He co-authored a book, “Physics For Future Presidents,” that explained climate change among other things. Now he has re-branded himself a former skeptic — the better to sell global warming. (Don Surber, Charleston Daily Mail)

‘The Science is Settled’, Part 858 – I found myself being called a ‘climate sceptic’ and ‘denier’ this week. I find this odd, because I rarely take a view on the science, which I regard as largely a massive red herring — the climate debate is mostly political. My argument is that if you want to know what ‘science says’, you have to have a good idea about what it has been asked. Some in the debate believe that ‘science’ can speak uncontaminated, objective truth to the policy-making process; you merely have to assemble all the scientific literature, summarise it, and tell the policy-makers. Job done. (Climate Resistance)

Book excerpt: Conspiracy of silence – New book goes inside IPCC climate-science reports to find use of grad students, lack of peer reviews warrant an ‘F’ (Donna Laframboise, Financial Post)

Peter Foster: A thoroughly political body – ‘The Delinquent Teenager’ shows IPCC far from objective science (Financial Post)

Getting it exactly wrong: The Ethical Dimension of Tackling Climate Change – The global challenge of climate change poses a perfect moral storm — by failing to take action to rein in carbon emissions, the current generation is spreading the costs of its behavior far into the future. Why should people in the future pay to clean up our mess? (Stephen Gardiner, e360)

The real question, of course, is why should future generations be impoverished by our absurd climate superstition? This clown understands neither climate nor economics.

Sceptical Berkeley Scientists Say, “Human Component Of Global Warming May Be Somewhat Overestimated” – The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project has released its preliminary findings though not in a research journal but to the scientific community and the general public. Their trumpeted finding is not surprising – the world has gotten warmer in recent decades – or at least the land has. This is consistent with the other global temperature datasets. (GWPF)

As an example of the “warming, yes but why?“: On the recovery from the Little Ice Age – ABSTRACT: A number of published papers and openly available data on sea level changes, glacier retreat, freezing/break-up dates of rivers, sea ice retreat, tree-ring observations, ice cores and changes of the cosmic-ray intensity, from the year 1000 to the present, are studied to examine how the Earth has recovered from the Little Ice Age (LIA). We learn that the recovery from the LIA has proceeded continuously, roughly in a linear manner, from 1800-1850 to the present. The rate of the recovery in terms of temperature is about 0.5°C/100 years and thus it has important implications for understanding the present global warming. It is suggested on the basis of a much longer period covering that the Earth is still in the process of recovery from the LIA; there is no sign to indicate the end of the recovery before 1900. Cosmic-ray intensity data show that solar activity was related to both the LIA and its recovery. The multi-decadal oscillation of a period of 50 to 60 years was superposed on the linear change; it peaked in 1940 and 2000, causing the halting of warming temporarily after 2000. These changes are natural changes, and in order to determine the contribution of the manmade greenhouse effect, there is an urgent need to identify them correctly and accurately and remove them (Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Natural Science)

<chuckle> NEW STUDY SHOWS NO SIMULTANEOUS WARMING OF NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN HEMISPHERES AS A RESULT OF CLIMATE CHANGE FOR 20 000 YEARS – A common argument against global warming is that the climate has always varied. Temperatures rise sometimes and this is perfectly natural is the usual line.
However, Svante Björck, a climate researcher at Lund University in Sweden, has now shown that global warming, i.e. simultaneous warming events in the northern and southern hemispheres, have not occurred in the past 20 000 years, which is as far back as it is possible to analyse with sufficient precision to compare with modern developments. Svante Björck’s study thus goes 14 000 years further back in time than previous studies have done. “What is happening today is unique from a historical geological perspective”, he says (LU)

New Tree Ring Study Shows Little Ice Age And Medieval Warm Period Were Global – A new paper here on the Jorge Montt Glacier at the Chilean Patagonia is out in Climate of the Past journal. What’s interesting is that this glacier is located in Chile – in South America, far away from the North Atlantic region. (No Tricks Zone)

The long pause in warming confirmed – Nice research, curious rhetoric
Just dis-embargoed at noon PST (8 pm BST) on 20 October are a press release and associated papers from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) project. A team led by Richard A. Muller has been asking whether the histories of land surface temperatures from the likes of NOAA, NASA and the Hadley Centre are to be trusted. Clever statistics glean and process raw data from 39,000 weather stations world wide – more than five times as many as used by other analysts.
The short answer is that the other histories are broadly validated, as seen in this graph from one of the new papers. (Calder’s Updates)

Hoodwinked by Berkeley Earth – Propaganda Tito style
My previous post was too polite about Berkeley Earth. I’d not figured out Richard Muller’s game. The mainstream media have have portrayed him as a repentant climate sceptic who has wonderful new evidence confirming man-made global warming. To see how the story is playing, look for Richard Muller Berkeley on Google News (139 reports and counting). (Nigel Calder’s Updates)

Canada warns EU on oil sands ranking plan – Canada warned on Sunday it will “defend its interests” if the European Union (EU) goes through with a proposal to rank Canadian oil sands as a highly polluting fuel. (Reuters)

Insight: N.Y. gas drillers’ victory soured by tough new rules – The end of a drilling ban in New York was meant to be a new dawn for energy companies. After years of waiting, they would finally be able to exploit the richest deposit of natural gas in the country.
But as companies delve into new regulations for drilling in New York, they’re discovering a bitter reality: half the land they had leased for drilling may now be out of bounds. (Reuters)

The Great Green Energy Crack-Up – History — of the U.S., Europe, the U.K. and its former dominions — repeatedly shows that environmental protection is a luxury good. When per-capita income reaches some threshold, the citizenry tire of opaque air and sleazy waters, various agencies and permanent bureaucracies sprout, and, as long as times are good, regulation is good.
Our friends in the U.K. and Europe are especially green. Just hop off the plane in London and pick up the papers. Global warming is everywhere, and, for decades, the religion’s been that carbon dioxide reductions are fine, virtuous, and they’re going to make everyone rich. I have a social security system I would like to sell them.
This all splatters to a halt when economies go south. And the crash can be especially jarring if greenness is one of the causes. Thanks in no small part to the debacle in Europe, in a very few recent weeks, we have witnessed the great green crack-up. (Patrick Michaels, Forbes)

Back To Black: Germany Looks To Mongolian Coal To Secure Energy Future – Last Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel signed a resource trade agreement with her Mongolian counterpart in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. Surrounded by a contingent of German industry leaders, the German delegates were eager to secure access to Mongolia’s burgeoning mining economy, specifically its coal, rare earth elements and other commodities, in exchange for German technology and skills to support local mineral processing operations. (GWPF)

India Announces 300 Years Worth Of Coal Reserves To Be Tapped – The International Coal Conference 2011 was told on Saturday that the Thar region of Sindh province is endowed with mammoth coal (lignite) reserves estimated to be 175 billion tonnes which can produce 100,000MW of electricity for next 300 years and can be a key to energy security and economic prosperity. (GWPF)

Analysis: Russia not ready to cover China rare earths gap – Russia, with as much as a third of the world’s rare earth deposits, will take at least a decade to develop them and step into the breach that has been created since China chopped supply of the metals to the rest of the world. (Reuters)

Solar Power Generation: Boon or Boondoggle – Polls consistently show that Americans think well of obtaining electrical power from the sun. It’s free, and there’s so much of it. All we have to do is capture a tiny fraction of what falls on Earth, and our energy needs are met. Or so the story goes.
While there is a good bit of truth in the story regarding solar power, we find, as usual, that the devil keeps getting into those details. We might question why — in light of solid public support, years of subsidized development, dozens of taxpayer-financed pilot plants, media hype, and political grandstanding — solar electricity only increased from an invisible 0.014 percent of the electricity generation in the United States to an unnoticeable 0.021 percent over the period 1998 to 2008, the last figures available. (New American)

Green Energy’s Bad Karma – Boondoggles: With the administration’s approval, the recipient of another half-billion-dollar loan to build electric cars is outsourcing the work and any jobs that might be created or saved to Finland.
The Fisker Karma electric car, heralded two years ago by Vice President Joe Biden as the future of the American auto industry, may prove to be another administration “bad bet,” just as President Obama called Solyndra, heralded by Biden as the future of American energy. (IBD)

A ‘Renewable’ That’s Worse Than Coal? – In May, Maryland enacted S.B. 690, which reclassified waste-to-energy facilities as renewable resources equivalent to solar and wind power under the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The law took effect at the beginning of October, and it is raising concern among environmental groups. A new report issued by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) finds that WTE incinerators in Maryland emit more pollution per hour of energy produced than each of the state’s four largest coal-fired power plants. (IBT)

Ore. study shows downside to burning biomass – PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s blue-sky thinking on alternative energy envisions the state’s forests as a terrific source of biomass. Woody debris from thinning, brush clearing and removing dead trees could generate electricity, heat manufacturing plants and be turned into biofuels.
Better yet, the thinking goes, such work could restore forest health and provide jobs in rural communities in addition to helping the state meet its renewable energy goals. The Oregon Forest Resources Institute calls it the “woody biomass triple win.”
Researchers at Oregon State University rain on that notion. (Oregonian)

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6 responses to “News & Views – October 24, 2011

  1. “Wonder why the media keep regurgitating it?”

    Same reason Hollywood keeps making disaster movies.

  2. Who ships hazardous wastes internationally? It is almost always cheaper to handle it locally because you don’t have to pay those huge shipping charges. The key here is “including for recycling”. This is a trade barrier, nothing more. If they want to improve health in developing countries, implement a set of waste management rules. This is like trying to stop prostitution by banning telephones. It is neither helpful nor does it solve the problem, but it causes a huge burden on the people.

    Also, TB from burning copper? What kind of nonsensical disease theory are they subscribing to here.

  3. Wow, waste incinerators release more pollutants than efficient mono-fuel burners? What a concept. Of course, the benefits of waste destruction rather than perpetual storage is never addressed (and in crowded Europe, this is quite significant)

  4. Snorbert Zangox

    Ben,

    There are many reasons to export wastes that contain hazardous materials to other countries. Those wastes often contain recoverable quantities of useful material, e.g. discarded electronic equipment contains gold, the ash from waste incinerators at organic tin manufacturing producers contain recoverable quantities of tin. The recovery processes can be labor-intensive and become economically viable only in places with lower labor costs. All of these schemes generate profits somewhere and benefit the exporting companies by reducing waste disposal costs. If they did not, the exports would not exist.

    I believe that these schemes are specifically allowed under RCRA.

    • If they are exporting to other countries for recycling and recovery then it isn’t waste. Well, it technically is under RCRA, but it is productive work, not the implication of this article that it is garbarge. It’s the good old bait-and-switch tactic of saying “hazardous waste” to imply “toxic sludge that turns small critters into ninjas with attitude” when they mean “circuit boards that you can get the copper out of”.

  5. Snorbert Zangox

    Ben,

    You have identified the issue. If a material will recycle it is not a waste. If not, it is a waste. The computer parts and the ash contain materials that EPA deems hazardous, so if the generator cannot recycle it, he must treat and dispose of it as a hazardous waste, a process which is excessively expensive.

    Everybody wants all of his waste to be recycled. Some, like the incinerator in Louisiana are willing to stretch the truth. Most are not.

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