A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Video common sense re 'global warming' (downloadable too).....

Do not miss this excellent series of sound-byte interviews with Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - just up on Fox News. To watch the short video, go to:
Fox News, and select the Video Box: 'It's not so simple. An MIT professor sounds off on popular theories.' You can then choose the video speed (High Speed: 300K; Low Speed: 56K) from the free Fox Video.

Lindzen's answers are seminal, and we desperately need to hear such critical comment in the UK.

Philip, increasingly cynical at the sheer bunkum being perpetrated about climate change in Britain. Strong coffee desirable this morning.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Carbon claptrap attains new heights of madness.....

I always knew that the fundamental nonsense of 'global warming' would, in the end, be demonstrated by political attempts "to do something about it", rather than by any science or logic. This is not, perhaps, unsurprising, because 'global warming', as a religion, has morphed into the classic grand narrative - a Barthesian myth or Latourian hybrid - the latest to replace those diasastrous grand narratives of the 20th century, like Marxism and Fascism.

But even I couldn't have guessed at the absolute inanity of the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS). For once, The Gloomiad has it all: 'Power tool' (The Guardian, May 17):
"The EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS), the cornerstone of its campaign to assume global leadership in combating climate change by reducing greenhouse gases, is in tatters.

This week, the European commission confirmed that companies operating more than 9000 industrial plants had emitted 66m tonnes less carbon dioxide (CO2) than allowed in 2005. The news prompted charges that the commission had been hoodwinked by energy groups into granting grossly over-generous pollution permits.

To add insult to injury, the scheme is proving a recipe for windfall profits. Faced with evidence that Germany, Europe's biggest polluter, had undershot its target by 21m tonnes, the Berlin government accused the four biggest power producers - Eon, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW - of profiteering from the ETS at the expense of consumers. The environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said these four and others had thereby stoked up their earnings by between €6bn (£4.1bn) and €8bn....."

Well! There's a surprise, and can you just credit the naivety of The Groaniad's sub?
"European energy groups involved in carbon trading are manipulating the scheme for profit, not principle"

"Oh me, Oh my!" Of course, they are. As I blogged on Monday ('Protean capitalism 'sequesters' carbon as only it can'), what you are witnessing is protean capitalism, yet again, gobbling up a temporarily inconvenient grand narrative, only to transform it into opportunities for further profit-making. And why not, if people are so mad as to fall for such loopy schemes and ideas?

Where energy generation is concerned, enterprises and entrepreneurs will chase the money while marketing whatever PC Green rubbish is deemed necessary to get at it. And, aren't they great at re-cycling the claptrap, from 'sustainability' to 'carbon footprints', from 'organic meat' to 'food miles'? If you demand it, they'll supply it, but at a price, and especially so when governments hand out tax-payers money as if there were indeed no tomorrow. "G & Ts all round the Board Room, Samantha."

Meanwhile, thank goodness, in Australia and Canada, there appears to be a somewhat more realistic, and less undergraduate, approach to the whole caboodle:
"Canada is a country that although it's inside Kyoto is now 35 per cent over its target. So it realises, as do Australia and China, India and the US that there are very serious issues that we need practical, technological breakthroughs to solve the dual issue of ensuring we have an expanding economy but with massively reduced greenhouse gas signature."

"The Canadian economy has been expanding rapidly, and the reality is that until you get a technological breakthrough, such as carbon capture and storage or some other major technological breakthrough, then the sort of ambitious targets that we've been setting aren't going to be achieved." (Ian Campbell, Australian Environment Minister, speaking on ABC's The World Today, broadcast lunchtime, May 18.)

Sadly, back in Euroland and Toy Town, The Guardian, like Larry the Lamb, sums up Mr. Mayor's shambles perfectly:
"This sorry mess, unlikely to be cleared up by the European court of justice, can be seen as yet another example of the EU's inability to put its vaulting ambitions into practice. The ETS was supposed to be €3.4bn cheaper than alternative methods of meeting its ambitious Kyoto targets; instead it is costing consumers untold billions in windfall profits and dividends for power producers and their over-fed shareholders."

So watch this space: I predict that it will be the fatuousness of the politics and the economics which will, in the end, do for the 'global warming' myth - and, the sooner the better.

Philip, "Oh! Mr. Mayor, Sir!" No more bleating, Stotty. It's coffee time to ease the daily grind.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Quotes of the Day.....

First, wise words from India:
"Removal of poverty is the greater immediate imperative" than global warming, Prodipto Ghosh, Secretary of India's Environment Ministry, yesterday before the 1,600 delegates at the 189-nation U.N. climate meeting - er, talking shop.

Secondly, no scientific evidence for significant sea-level change in the UK:
Evidence from a new study [.pdf] published in the latest issue of the Journal of Coastal Research indicates that relatively little change in shoreline position has occurred since World War II. See for a summary and some good quotes: 'English coast stays abreast of possible perils of global warming' (Newswise, May 16).

When will the 'global warming' hysteria in the UK catch up with reality?

Philip, off for lunch in the garden, and to read yet more about the EU's carbon-trading farce. When will the madness stop?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Protean capitalism 'sequesters' carbon as only it can.....

Marx rightly stressed the protean nature of capitalism, which is, of course, one of the hallmarks of its evolutionary and adaptive success. It is this protean nature which helps capitalism to absorb - nay, 'sequester' - any radical challenges to its dominance, turning a seeming stumbling block into opportunity knocks, although attempted 'planning' by government can result in chaos.

Nothing illustrates this more than the EU's Alice-in-Blunderland trading scheme for carbon credits, which is both a shambles, because of governmental 'direction', and a glorious example of how capitalism can still make anything its own and turn it to advantage, or, indeed, to chaos, from trading your grandmother to your so-called 'carbon footprint'. The 'command-and-control' of the Kyoto Protocol, and the wishful thinking of the new authoritarian Left, have thus been transmogrified into shimmering curves on the trading screens of the world.

The most recent debacle is a classic:

(1) On Friday, the European Commision (EC) accidentally published market-sensitive figures on the internet which were not due to be released until today. The Independent (May 14) takes a particularly cynical view of all this: "The figures revealed that most EU countries had in effect fiddled their pollution levels to avoid paying carbon taxes";

(2) While 15 EU countries seem to have 'polluted' less during the last year than their target allocations for 2005, five countries (including, predictably, the UK - 31.3m tonnes above its 2005 allowance) are deemed to have 'polluted' more than their allocations. British companies must thus buy in carbon credits to balance their books. For example, Drax coal station (Europe's largest coal-fired plant, located in north Yorkshire), which generates c.8 per cent of the UK's electricity, might have to spend £74m on buying such credits - "Drax!";

(3) Somewhat unsurprisingly, The Guardian (May 13) asserts, "... the five UK companies [apparently RWE npower, Scottish Power, Scottish & Southern Energy, International Power and Drax] are now suing the EC at Europe's second highest court, the court of first instance (CFI) ... They are demanding the reinstatement of 20m tonnes of extra emissions rejected by Brussels";

(4) Meanwhile, back in Brussels, between the moules and the frites, the European Commission is itself threatening to sue the British Government because the Department for Environnment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is refusing to meet the EC deadline of next month to submit its application for the second phase of the scheme, covering 2008-2012;

(5) And, finally, what about the market itself? Inevitably, carbon prices fell by almost one-third on Friday, to as little as €8.6 a tonne, compared with highs of €30. Further pressure on the market is expected today when the figures are actually meant to be released.....

So, there you have it - the scheme of schemes to save the planet (as if it cares). In reality, of course, because it is a governmental 'plan', not a 'natural' market, the whole concoction just bogs up industrial planning, lines the pockets of lawyers and eurocrats, distorts any real market, allows governments to play national politics, and, under the cloke of action, probably permits carbon emissions to go on rising.

Now, as you all know, that doesn't worry me too much - but what a spectacular farce. I am so glad that European ecochondria and 'Green' authoritarianism have foisted this onto us. Did the politicians not see it coming?

Capitalism will take any nonsense about carbon dioxide (and we are being fed nonsense in enormous retorts) and turn it into a field day for rogue trading all round. The beast will gobble up the 'Greens' for breakfast. Just witness the 'organic' meat market - lots of T-bones to pick over there!

You can bet on it! And the winners, as ever, will be the touts, the lawyers, and the bureaucrats.

Climate-change politics are some of the daftest on the planet. And the idea that we can manage climate-change predictably is the daftest conceit of them all.

But beware the vested interests in the 'global warming' myth! They are legion.

Philip, thinking it might be time to trade hot air in a rising market, although I don't think the bears will like it. It's total bull anyway. Coffee - strong and double.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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