Playing it cool

The Buzz


Global warming has stopped. Carbon dioxide emissions have not decreased. And climatologists the world over are taking notice. A 231-page report that documents skepticism of climate change alarmism dropped this month citing the views of some 650 prominent international scientists. The document, an update from a 2007 U.S. Senate Minority Report that cited 400 dissenters, directly challenges the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN body warning of calamitous climate outcomes if greenhouse-gas emissions are not substantially reduced.

Among this new batch of dissenters are some former members of the IPCC, who have since come to disagree with the view that global warming is man-made. "Global warming has become a new religion," Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever announces at the document's outset. "I am a skeptic."

Similar sentiments echo throughout dozens of other skepticism-laced statements included in the document. Japanese scientist Kiminori Itoh, a former IPCC member, dubs the inducement of fear over warming a "scientific scandal" and says that people "will feel deceived by science and scientists" when they learn the truth. Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association goes one step further in decrying the message of advocates like Al Gore: "It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don't buy into anthropogenic global warming."



A Better Perspective

The modern concern about the environment, and the very development of the science of ecology, began in the middle of the nineteenth century when human power over creation began to expand rapidly. As we might expect, good and evil were inextricably mixed in this development. On the one hand, industrialization and modern agriculture have enabled more people to live – and live a more fully human life – than ever before. After a difficult transition period, for instance, manual laborers in advanced economies achieved a security and sense of dignity never before seen in any society. Advances in technology have made famine – which was a regular scourge to humanity around the globe before modern times – a thing of the past, except in places where political tyranny or turmoil prevent intelligent development. Advances in medicine have all but eliminated diseases such as smallpox, tuberculosis, and malaria, and have made formerly life-threatening maladies such as measles, mumps, and others, relatively minor nuisances. All of this was achieved by the slow and patient accumulation of human knowledge and the creation of free institutions that enabled the fruits of that knowledge to be shared by even larger numbers of people.

On the other hand, industrialization also had its negative effects. Early industrialization polluted cities, disrupted agricultural communities, and challenged modern nations to find ways to integrate growing urban masses. However, these were largely transitional problems. Today, it is precisely industrialization, new forms of agriculture, and other human advances that are making it possible for humans to increasingly live well and in proper relation to the earth. Even in difficult cases, such as the increase in greenhouse gases, we want to be wary of taking too narrow a view of the matter that neglects a broader perspective on the goods of development. Fossil fuels, which come from beneath the earth, have made it possible for us to forego the far more destructive, inefficient, and polluting use of wood and other so-called natural fuels that must be harvested from the earth’s surface. Paradoxically, fossil fuels may have even helped save whales from extinction. Prior to learning how to use petroleum, humans had few alternatives to whale oil for generating heat and light.

Moreover, fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, have also had far-reaching positive environmental effects that a good steward should wish to consider in drawing up the global balance sheet. The first effect is to make it possible for farmers to replace beasts of burden with machines and, therefore, to cultivate land more efficiently. (Much of the developing world is now beginning to undergo this process of agricultural modernization today.) Second, fossil fuels have been turned into fertilizers that, together with new pesticides, other means of preventing spoilage, and advances in new plant species – the so-called Green Revolution – have produced so much more food per acre that large amounts of land have now been spared from cultivation altogether. For example, America’s forests, contrary to popular perception, have been growing steadily for the past fifty years and are actually larger than they were one hundred years ago. Even in the heavily populated coastal areas, small farms have returned to forestland. The result of all this is that despite its vast fossil-fuel consumption, North America currently shows a net minus in the amount of carbon dioxide it puts into the atmosphere. In other words, North America absorbs more carbon dioxide through plants and forests than it emits through industry. No one intentionally set out to produce these consequences, but human ingenuity, aimed at doing better with greater cost efficiency and lower amounts of raw materials, seems here to reflect a providential convergence of man and nature. Now that we are conscious of the effects of our activity on nature, we can set out to do even better.

If other countries in the world could imitate such ingenuity and efficiency, we would not see an exhaustion and despoliation of natural resources. Instead, we would see their enhancement and protection. Agricultural scientists have estimated that if the rest of the world could achieve the level of efficiency and care for the land exhibited by the average farmer in the developed world, then ten billion people – which is almost twice the current world population, and is a larger figure than is now expected when the population levels off in the middle of the century – could be fed on half the land. Put into concrete terms, this means that an area the size of India could simply be left untouched worldwide in spite of population growth. It is a modern scandal, then, that out of a misguided concern for the earth, some philanthropic foundations and environmental groups from developed countries, and some international agencies as well, have discouraged, or even refused to support so-called "unsustainable" agricultural practices. These practices are, in fact, necessary for saving and improving the lives of the world’s poor and hungry.

Excerpted from "The Catholic Church and Stewardship of Creation" recently published by The Acton Institute.

Labels: , ,


Most Get It

A new stewardship campaign paints evangelicals a lighter shade of green

Are evangelicals buying into global warming alarmism? Since February 2006, media reports throughout the country have claimed as much, often citing the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), a document calling for federal caps on greenhouse-gas emissions and boasting the support of such influential Christian leaders as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.

But recent research from The Barna Group indicates that evangelicals are among the most reticent people to board the climate change bandwagon. Only 33 percent of evangelicals in America consider global warming a major problem, compared to 62 percent of non-Christian religious people and 69 percent of atheists and agnostics.

Now, voices from the two-thirds majority of evangelical global warming skeptics have launched an initiative aimed at matching the decibel level of ECI backers. The "We Get It" campaign purports to better represent evangelicals regarding environmental stewardship. Chief among its declarations is an economic analysis suggesting that proposed solutions to climate change would do more to harm the world's poor than the potential impacts of rising global temperatures.

Click here to read the entire article by Mark Bergin in this week's issue of WORLD Magazine.



An inconvenient winter

Record colds from North America to Baghdad reveal a double standard in global-warming alarmism

A chorus of "I-told-you-so" has echoed daily across conservative talk radio stations since last month when data emerged from the four leading trackers of global temperature to reveal marked cooling over the past year—enough cooling effectively to erase the one-degree (Celsius) rise over the past century that has sparked so much public consternation about climate change.

Some global-warming skeptics have jumped at the chance to claim proof for their contention that all the fuss over reducing carbon dioxide emissions amounts to an environmentalist hoax. Others have suggested mockingly that an impending ice age now threatens civilization.

But what does the data really mean? Click here to read the entire article, published in this week's issue of WORLD Magazine.



Pope on Global Warming

In today's edition of Britain's Daily Mail, Simon Caldwell reports:

Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.

The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.

Click here to read the entire article.

Labels: ,


Global Warming Solutions

In a recent, thought-provoking article, Dr. Nina Pierpont writes:

As an ecologist, I’ve known about global warming since the 1970’s, especially in the work of certain marine scientists who began studying and modeling global carbon cycling forty years ago. The earth’s fossil record makes it clear that the earth has cycled back and forth between warmer epochs and colder throughout its history. At certain times the earth has been tropical to the poles.

There is no doubt that we are in a significant warming stage and that the human role in this is
critical, by releasing to the atmosphere enormous amounts of carbon locked up by trees and plants eons ago into oil and coal. Not only the burning of fossil fuels, but the destruction of forests also disturbs the carbon balance, on the other side. Forests are carbon “sinks,” reabsorbing carbon from the atmosphere and locking it up again into wood and leaves, cellulose and lignin. The energy in wood is the sunlight of past summers, but the substance is carbon from the air.

Global warming means not only more marked heat waves and melting glaciers and ice caps, but also increased variation in the weather. There is more energy in the atmosphere and hydrosphere not only for high temperatures, but also for more air movement, more wind, more storms, and greater swings between warm and cold, as air masses replace each other quickly and vigorously.

But wind generation is not the solution, even in a gustier world.

To appreciate a cogent, comprehensive, and remarkably concise analysis of the situation, click here to read the entire 2-page article.

Labels: , ,


Global Warming Consensus

They call this a consensus?

This past Saturday, June 2nd, the Canadian Financial Post published a thought-provoking and well researched article by Lawrence Solomon that started out

"Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled."

So said Al Gore ... in 1992. Amazingly, he made his claims despite much evidence of their falsity. A Gallup poll at the time reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren't sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn't think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.

Today, Al Gore is making the same claims of a scientific consensus, as do the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of government agencies and environmental groups around the world. But the claims of a scientific consensus remain unsubstantiated. They have only become louder and more frequent.

Click here to read a PDF copy of the whole article, then follow through with the entire series of background articles in the Canadian National Post, starting with this link.



Global Warming Gravy Train

David Evans, a mathematician and a computer and electrical engineer writes:

I devoted six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian government to estimate carbon emissions from land use change and forestry. When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened that case. I am now skeptical.

This evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we are absolutely certain when we apparently need to act now? So the idea that carbon emissions were causing global warming passed from the scientific community into the political realm. Research increased, bureaucracies were formed, international committees met, and eventually the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997 to curb carbon emissions.

The political realm in turn fed money back into the scientific community. By the late 1990s, lots of jobs depended on the idea that carbon emissions caused global warming. Many of them were bureaucratic, but there were a lot of science jobs created too.

I was on that gravy train, making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming. And so were lots of people around me; there were international conferences full of such people. We had political support, the ear of government, big budgets. We felt fairly important and useful (I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet!

Click here to read the full article.



A Celebrity's Green Ideas

I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming. Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of conserving trees which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many sqares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required. When presenting this idea to my younger brother, who's judgement I trust implicitly, he proposed taking it one step further. I believe his quote was, "how bout just washing the one square out."

I also like the idea of not using paper napkins, which happen to be made from virgin wood and represent the heighth of wastefullness. I have designed a clothing line that has what's called a "dining sleeve". The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another "dining sleeve," after usage. The design will offer the "diner" the convenience of wiping his mouth on his sleeve rather than throwing out yet another barely used paper product.. I think this idea could also translate quite well to those suffering with an annoying head cold.

This next idea I have been saving but I will share it with you if you promise not to steal it. It is my latest, very exciting idea for creating incentive for us all to minimize our own personal carbon footprints. It's a reality show. (I feel pretty certain NO ONE has thought of this yet!). Here is the premise: the contest consists of 10 people who are competing for the top spot as the person who lives the "greenest" life. This will be reflected in the contestant's home, his business, and his own personal living style. The winner of this challenging, prestigious, contest would receive what??.... a recording contract!!!!!

Can't believe it? Click here for Cheryl's weblog.

Labels: , ,


What Being "Green" Means

Because You are "Green" Doesn't Mean You Have to Love Wind Farms

Industrial wind farms, like the Cape Wind project, are on the rise and along with them public protest and opposition. Is it anti-environnmental to even question much less object? Not at all. In fact, questioning wind power does not mean anti-environment and in fact the opposite is most often the case. Those that question are those that care or they wouldn't be involved in the debate at all.

In fact, being Green means you should question not only the viability of wind power but its potential negative impacts on the Earth, its communities and the living beings and ecosystems on which it depends.

Making responsible and informed choices are the keys to living Green.

Click here to read a PDF version of the entire article.

Labels: ,


Setting Global Priorities


As the 38th annual Earth Day approached on April 22, many who care about both the poor and the environment were listening to calls for radical measures. The fear is that flooding in coastal regions could displace millions, mostly the poor; heat waves could kill many who are elderly or diseased; and decreased crop yields could lead to starvation in developing nations.

So does compassion require the federal government to require immediate and drastic cuts in CO2 emissions? Enter Bjørn Lomborg, a Danish academic, author, and founder of the Copenhagen Consensus, a group devoted to economic analysis of policy proposals to solve the world's toughest problems. Lomborg's congressional testimony last month systematically deconstructed the much-hyped testimony by former vice president Al Gore.

Lomborg argued that the high economic costs of emissions-cutting proposals would deliver meager global benefits compared to what such funds could accomplish elsewhere. He cited his organization's global priority list, a ranking of the world's most cost-effective opportunities to improve the human situation. A panel of top-tier economists, including four Nobel Laureates, constructed the table in 2004 based on their analysis of areas where the most good could result from the least economic harm.

The panel ranked various measures to control the spread of disease and alleviate food and water shortages as top priorities. Climate-change solutions, such as carbon taxes or the Kyoto Protocol, scored at the very bottom, delivering minimal gains relative to their costs.

Click here to read the full report published in last week's issue of WORLD Magazine.

Labels: ,


A 'Perfect' Temperature?

No Such Thing As a 'Perfect' Temperature

Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators –and many scientists – seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature – a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.

Click here to read a PDF version of the whole article by Richard S. Lindzen in this week's edition of Newsweek International. Dr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.



What about biofuels?

Corn Can't Solve Our Problem

The world has come full circle. A century ago our first transportation biofuels - the hay and oats fed to our horses - were replaced by gasoline. Today, ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soybeans have begun edging out gasoline and diesel.

This has been hailed as an overwhelmingly positive development that will help us reduce the threat of climate change and ease our dependence on foreign oil. In political circles, ethanol is the flavor of the day, and presidential candidates have been cycling through Iowa extolling its benefits. Lost in the ethanol-induced euphoria, however, is the fact that three of our most fundamental needs - food, energy, and a livable and sustainable environment - are now in direct conflict. Moreover, our recent analyses of the full costs and benefits of various biofuels, performed at the University of Minnesota, present a markedly different and more nuanced picture than has been heard on the campaign trail.

Interested in alternative renewable energy sources? Before you fill out Mark Densmore's simple "Renewable Energy Survey" on the Yes! Wind Power website he maintains for UPC supporters, you might want to enter the discussion of biofuels through this informative article by Tilman and Hill in Sunday's Washington Post. Be sure to continue by reading the comments that follow. Then go back and try out Mark's survey. This whole subject isn't quite as simple as it might appear, is it?

Labels: ,


Another Inconvenient Truth

Behind the feel-good hype of carbon offsets, some of the deals don't deliver... Done carefully, offsets can have a positive effect and raise ecological awareness. But a close look at several transactions – including those involving the Oscar presenters, Vail Resorts, and the Seattle power company – reveals that some deals amount to little more than feel-good hype. When traced to their source, these dubious offsets often encourage climate protection that would have happened regardless of the buying and selling of paper certificates. One danger of largely symbolic deals is that they may divert attention and resources from more expensive and effective measures.

Read the full article by Ben Elgin in this week's issue of BusinessWeek or click here for a printable PDF version.



VN 3/20 - Convenient Falsehoods

Al Gore and others are very motivated to tell us about what they call the “Inconvenient Truths” about global warming. It’s an unwelcome message for some, partly because many of the “truths” proclaimed are only speculations or half-truths at best. However, even if only a part of Al’s diagnosis is true, we all need to start waking up and asking what we can do to help. Unfortunately, putting industrial wind power forward as a proposed “cure” is fraught with difficulties.

In fact, the main problem with wind power has to do with falsehood. Read our article in this week's Valley News, check out a recent YES article accusing wind power critics of "recycling", do your own research, and then let our Town leaders know what you think.



Protesting too much

Seems to me the global-warming folks just keep hurting their own cause, and weakening their own argument, with two silly tactical mistakes. The first is that they exaggerate their evidence. The second is that they bully their opponents. Both tend to be signals that they aren't as sure of themselves as they'd like you to think they are... Is your argument a little weak on facts? Well, don't worry. Just exaggerate the facts you've got, and raise your voice a little.

Associated Press did this just last week, in a story by reporter Seth Borenstein. The sensationalistic headline screamed: "Climate report warns of droughts, starvation, disease." The lead paragraph thundered on: "The harmful effects of global warming on daily life are already showing up, and within a couple of decades hundreds of millions of people won't have enough water, top scientists will say next month at a meeting in Belgium."

Click here to read Joel Belz's full article in the 3/24 issue of World Magazine.



VN 2/20 - But what if?

Industrial wind developers use several selling points when they present their proposals to Town leaders and potential leaseholders. The threat of global warming and the goal of replacing dependence on oil with renewable, clean, non-polluting energy sources is brought forward. Then landowners are sold on the idea that they can do the planet a big favor and make easy money year after year for themselves and their community just by allowing wind towers to be erected. All of this is presented as a beautiful, quiet, unobtrusive enterprise that will bless the next generation. No downside in sight…

But what if none of this is really true?
What if the whole thing proves to be a scam — a rip-off of tax dollars and the ecology that our children and everyone else in our community ends up seeing very clearly? Read our article in this week's Valley News, then read through the outstanding response to UPC Wind's SDEIS that Brad Jones submitted to our Planning Board last week. We're convinced that it's time to call a moratoriam on this whole project, at the very least.

Labels: ,


Warm January Days

Hot day won’t prove warming
by Jonathon M. Hadley

I’m sometimes amused to hear people talk about the weather.

One man, about a month ago, wrote a letter here claiming the 60-degree temperatures were evidence of global warming. I thought I’d research on my own.

Very simply, I looked at record highs for my hometown. The results were intriguing. While alarmists tell us how we’re heating up, I found that for January, the median year of record highs was 1950. That means half of the record highs occurred before 1950 and half after. I then took a look at July. There the median year was 1941. In both cases, of the top 10 all-time high temperatures for the month, nine were in 1967 or before.

I’m not providing conclusive proof. I’m just saying you can’t just look at a warm day and think the world is ending.

We have thousands of people with college degrees telling us that global warming is happening, and that it is man-made. The trouble is, if there were no perception that the sky was falling, these guys wouldn’t be getting a paycheck. Their livelihood depends on it. No science is done without a paycheck, and the people signing those checks will ALWAYS have an agenda.

Instead of listening to their wild predictions, take a look at real data. You don’t hear much that this whole thing is about a 1-to-2 degree rise in average temperature over 100 years. In fact, you only hear a tiny amount of information on what HAS happened. What you hear is what supposedly WILL happen, according to very biased opinions.

My field of employment and interest (gasification for power) would soar in its employment opportunities if the U.S. enacted carbon regulations. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not biased in my opinions.

Hadley works at GE in Schenectady as a senior integrated gasification combined cycle controls engineer in power plant engineering.



Will wind power cut CO2?

Less for More

The primary reason industial wind power is being promoted so extensively is its inherent promise to reduce CO2 emissions by replacing conventional power production. In a well-researched and scholarly article published in December, Jon Boone reveals the fallacy of this premise. According to his research, "Wind plants are unable either to mitigate the need for additional conventional power generation in the face of increased demand or to reliably augment power during times of peak demand. Ironically, as more wind installations are added, almost equal conventional power generation must also be brought on line. Crucially important, wind technology, because of the inherently random variations of the wind, will not reduce meaningful levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide produced from fossil-fueled generation." For the complete story, read the full article and then follow up with a recent companion article by Wolverton and Bliven that carries the argument even further.

Labels: ,


VN 12/5 - Global Warming?

For many people the idea that our planet is becoming warmer because CO2 is building up in the atmosphere is an established fact. However, for others that idea still remains a controversial and unproven theory. Without taking sides in the argument, our article in this week's Valley News highlights a graph (above) presented by US Senator James Inhofe, Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Two of his public presentations are available here: one on climate change and the other on media coverage of the controversy. Some may still scoff after reading his articles, but wouldn't it be interesting if, 5 years from now, our planet began to cool again in spite of ever-increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, most of it produced by industrial development in mainland China that is entirely beyond our control? It would be sad to find out that we had sold the beauty, peace, and tranquility of our everlasting hills for a bowl of porridge, and even sadder to be left by a bankrupt energy speculator with an obsolete clutter of broken-down turbines two decades from now. There really isn't any rush: we have time to see what will happen to climate and what new technology brings. Our hills will wait, and if truth is on the side of wind turbine development there will always be another developer, perhaps an even better one than UPC.



VN 9/19 - Saving the Planet?

Local wind power supporters seem to be convinced that developing a large industrial wind power plant on our local hills will make a significant contribution to the future safety of our children. How could wind power in Cohocton help save the planet? Read the article we published in this week's Valley News and then check out the section called "The Problem" in our main website for some thoughts on this important question.

Labels: ,