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Thursday, December 25, 2008

No Matter What Happens, Someone Will Blame Global Warming

Global warming was blamed for everything from beasts gone wild to anorexic whales to the complete breakdown of human society this year -- showing that no matter what it is and where it happens, scientists, explorers, politicians and those who track the Loch Ness Monster are comfortable scapegoating the weather.

FOXNews.com takes a look back at 10 things that global warming allegedly caused — or will no doubt soon be responsible for — as reported in the news around the world in 2008.

1. Cannibalism

In April, media mogul Ted Turner told PBS's Charlie Rose that global warming would make the world 8 degrees hotter in 30 or 40 years. "Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state, like Somalia or Sudan, and living conditions will be intolerable," he said.

Turner blamed global warming on overpopulation, saying "too many people are using too much stuff."

Crops won't grow and "most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals," Turner said.

2. The Death of the Loch Ness Monster

In February, Scotland's Daily Mirror reported that 85-year-old American Robert Rines would be giving up his quest for Scotland's most famous underwater denizen.

A World War II veteran, Rines has spent 37 years hunting for Nessie with sonar equipment. In 2008, "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."

3. Beer Gets More Expensive

In April, the Associated Press reported that global warming was going to hit beer drinkers in the wallet because the cost of barley would increase, driving up the price of a pint.

Jim Salinger, a climate scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said Australia would be particularly hard hit as droughts caused a decline in malting barley production in parts of New Zealand and Australia. "It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up," Salinger said at a beer brewer's convention, the AP reported.

4. Pythons Take Over America

Giant Burmese pythons – big enough to eat alligators and deer in a single mouthful – will be capable of living in one-third of continental U.S. as global warming makes more of the country hospitable to the cold-blooded predators, according to an April report from USAToday.com.

The U.S. Geological Survey and the Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the spread of "invasive snakes," like the pythons, brought to the U.S. as pets. The Burmese pythons' potential American habitat would expand by 2100, according to global warming models, the paper reported.

"We were surprised by the map. It was bigger than we thought it was going to be," says Gordon Rodda, zoologist and lead project researcher, told USAToday.com. "They are moving northward, there's no question."

5. Kidney Stones

A University of Texas study said global warming will cause an increase in kidney stones over the next 30 years, the Globe and Mail reported in July.

Scientists predict that higher temperatures will lead to more dehydration and therefore to more kidney stones. "This will come and get you in your home," said Dr. Tom Brikowski, lead researcher and an associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. "It will make life just uncomfortable enough that maybe people will slow down and think what they're doing to the climate."

6. Skinny Whales

Japanese scientists, who have claimed that the country's controversial whaling program is all in the name of science, said in August that if they hadn't been going around killing whales, they never would have discovered that the creatures were significantly skinnier than whales killed in the late 1980s, the Guardian reported in August.

The researchers said the study was the first evidence that global warming was harming whales by restricting their food supplies. As water warmed around the Antarctic Peninsula, the krill population shrank by 80 percent as sea ice declined, eliminating much of the preferred food of the minke whale.

The whales studied had lost the same amount of blubber as they would have by starving for 36 days, but the global warming connection couldn't be proven because no krill measurements are taken in different regions.

7. Shark Attacks

A surge in fatal shark attacks was the handiwork of global warming, according to a report in the Guardian in May.

George Burgess of Florida University, a shark expert that maintains an attack database, told the Guardian that shark attacks were caused by human activity. "As the population continues to rise, so does the number of people in the water for recreation. And as long as we have an increase in human hours in the water, we will have an increase in shark bites," he said.

Shark attacks could also be the result of global warming and rising sea temperatures, the Guardian said. "You'll find that some species will begin to appear in places they didn't in the past with some regularity," Burgess said.

8. Black Hawk Down

Although it happened in 1993, the crash of a U.S. military helicopter in Mogadishu that became the film "Black Hawk Down" was blamed on global warming by a Massachusetts congressman in 2008.

"In Somalia back in 1993, climate change, according to 11 three- and four-star generals, resulted in a drought which led to famine,” Rep. Edward Markey told a group of students who had come to the Capitol to discuss global warming, according to CNSNews.com. "That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send in forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to Black Hawk Down."

9. Frozen Penguin Babies

Penguin babies, whose water-repellant feathers had not grown in yet, froze to death after torrential rains, National Geographic reported in July.

"Many, many, many of them—thousands of them—were dying," explorer Jon Bowermaster told National Geographic. Witnessing the mass penguin death "painted a clear and grim picture" of global warming.

"It's not just melting ice," Bowermaster said. "It's actually killing these cute little birds that are so popular in the movies."

10. Killer Stingray Invasion

Global warming is going to drive killer stingrays, like the one that killed Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, to the shores of Britain after a 5-foot -long marbled stingray was captured by fishermen, the Daily Mail reported in June.

A single touch can zap a man with enough electricity to kill, the Mail said, and global warming is bringing the Mediterranean killers north.

"Rising sea temperatures may well have brought an influx of warm water visitors," sea life curator Alex Gerrard told the Mail. "Where there's one electric ray, it's quite likely that there are more."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Did Early Global Warming Divert A New Glacial Age?

ScienceDaily (Dec. 18, 2008) — The common wisdom is that the invention of the steam engine and the advent of the coal-fueled industrial age marked the beginning of human influence on global climate.

But gathering physical evidence, backed by powerful simulations on the world's most advanced computer climate models, is reshaping that view and lending strong support to the radical idea that human-induced climate change began not 200 years ago, but thousands of years ago with the onset of large-scale agriculture in Asia and extensive deforestation in Europe.

Glacier and mountain peaks in East Greenland. Using three different climate models and removing the amount of greenhouse gases humans have injected into the atmosphere during the past 5,000 to 8,000 years, scientists observed more permanent snow and ice cover in regions of Canada, Siberia, Greenland and the Rocky Mountains, all known to be seed regions for glaciers from previous ice ages. (Credit: iStockphoto/Rob Broek)

What's more, according to the same computer simulations, the cumulative effect of thousands of years of human influence on climate is preventing the world from entering a new glacial age, altering a clockwork rhythm of periodic cooling of the planet that extends back more than a million years.

"This challenges the paradigm that things began changing with the Industrial Revolution," says Stephen Vavrus, a climatologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Climatic Research and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. "If you think about even a small rate of increase over a long period of time, it becomes important."

Addressing scientists on Dec 17 at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, Vavrus and colleagues John Kutzbach and Gwenaëlle Philippon provided detailed evidence in support of a controversial idea first put forward by climatologist William F. Ruddiman of the University of Virginia. That idea, debated for the past several years by climate scientists, holds that the introduction of large-scale rice agriculture in Asia, coupled with extensive deforestation in Europe began to alter world climate by pumping significant amounts of greenhouse gases — methane from terraced rice paddies and carbon dioxide from burning forests — into the atmosphere. In turn, a warmer atmosphere heated the oceans making them much less efficient storehouses of carbon dioxide and reinforcing global warming.

That one-two punch, say Kutzbach and Vavrus, was enough to set human-induced climate change in motion.

"No one disputes the large rate of increase in greenhouse gases with the Industrial Revolution," Kutzbach notes. "The large-scale burning of coal for industry has swamped everything else" in the record.

But looking farther back in time, using climatic archives such as 850,000-year-old ice core records from Antarctica, scientists are teasing out evidence of past greenhouse gases in the form of fossil air trapped in the ice. That ancient air, say Vavrus and Kutzbach, contains the unmistakable signature of increased levels of atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide beginning thousands of years before the industrial age.

"Between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago, both methane and carbon dioxide started an upward trend, unlike during previous interglacial periods," explains Kutzbach. Indeed, Ruddiman has shown that during the latter stages of six previous interglacials, greenhouse gases trended downward, not upward. Thus, the accumulation of greenhouse gases over the past few thousands of years, the Wisconsin-Virginia team argue, is very likely forestalling the onset of a new glacial cycle, such as have occurred at regular 100,000-year intervals during the last million years. Each glacial period has been paced by regular and predictable changes in the orbit of the Earth known as Milankovitch cycles, a mechanism thought to kick start glacial cycles.

"We're at a very favorable state right now for increased glaciation," says Kutzbach. "Nature is favoring it at this time in orbital cycles, and if humans weren't in the picture it would probably be happening today."

Importantly, the new research underscores the key role of greenhouse gases in influencing Earth's climate. Whereas decreasing greenhouse gases in the past helped initiate glaciations, the early agricultural and recent industrial increases in greenhouse gases may be forestalling them, say Kutzbach and Vavrus.

Using three different climate models and removing the amount of greenhouse gases humans have injected into the atmosphere during the past 5,000 to 8,000 years, Vavrus and Kutzbach observed more permanent snow and ice cover in regions of Canada, Siberia, Greenland and the Rocky Mountains, all known to be seed regions for glaciers from previous ice ages. Vavrus notes: "With every feedback we've included, it seems to support the hypothesis (of a forestalled ice age) even more. We keep getting the same answer."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Michigan press offers online read of its Santa book about global warming

A children's book author hopes that her new Christmas story will help kids realize that they can have an impact on global warming.


"Santa Goes Green" (Mackinac Island Press, $15.95) is the story of a boy, Finn, who writes Santa and asks him to help raise awareness about global warming. Finn is interested in the issue because he has adopted a polar bear, and polar bears are losing their habitat.

Finn tells Santa he does not need any toys for Christmas, but instead he wants the jolly old elf's help. "Santa can do anything in (Finn's) mind," says author and publisher Anne Margaret Lewis.

The book has sold about 13,000 copies since the small Traverse City children's books publisher put a previewable version of the entire book online last month (at mackinacislandpress.com). Now in its second printing, it's a runaway hit.

Success has come without the embrace of mass-market booksellers, although Borders Books bought some for its Great Lakes-area stores. Librarians across the country are ordering "Santa" and other books, too, says associate publisher Brian Lewis. "It's really word-of-mouth people buying copies," he says. "It's this organic growth that we love."

ExtraordinaryMommy.com blogger Danielle Smith, bought "Santa" and other titles after looking at them online. She began touting the books. "People get to see every single page and every single detail," she says.

The "Santa Goes Green" "artistry is so rich, and the story is so sweet and well-told," Smith says. "I think that it resonates this time of year. And green is something we try to do in little bits and pieces, and when you have it in front of you, it's tangible on a child's level."

The project is a Lewis family affair. Anne, who has written 10 children's books, has been married to Brian for 22 years. And their son, Cameron, who is 6, gave Anne the idea for the book.

The Lewises married several years after they met in northern Michigan while windsurfing. She worked part time, then full time at Sleeping Bear Press, a small publishing firm that Brian started and sold six years ago. Before that, he also sold Lewis Publishers, an environmental publishing company started with his father in 1984. Then in 2004, Anne started Mackinac Island Press.

Theirs is not the only new, green Santa book. Another is "When Santa Turned Green" (Thomas Nelson Publishers, $15.99), but what makes the Lewises' book different is that you can see the whole book online before committing to buy it. "This mechanism has opened the door," says Brian Lewis. "We don't have to rely entirely on someone in New York City" to decide the fate of their product.

Early last summer, Anne and Cameron were reading a "National Geographic" article about how global warming has melted glaciers, which in turn reduced places for bears to live and hunt. "He asked how we could help the polar bears, so we started going around the house every time we left a room and shut the lights off. Then we would say, "We just saved another polar bear,' " she says. "I was trying to convince him that you can make a difference, and it worked."

That got Lewis to wondering whether she could write a book that would pass along the feeling. "I wanted it to be about polar bears because of how it came to be," she says. "And then I thought, who would a child think is the most powerful person who could help him do that? Santa. The story just started evolving."

Such a story of self-sacrifice fit into her writing style. "I tend to hide messages in books because I want (children) to learn through characters and the actions of characters that they can have fun or be a loyal friend," Lewis says. "My message is that kids can make a difference."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Is global warming dangerous?

Experts explore the disconnect between values and behavior on global warming.

Scientists hosted a public briefing this week in Washington D.C., in which they presented scientific findings about Americans’ perceptions of global warming.

At the briefing, they said that the majority of Americans believe that climate change poses a moderate threat, but that it’s more of a problem for the environment and for people living outside of the U.S.


That’s according to research conducted by Anthony Leiserowitz, principal investigator at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. Leiserowitz studied how Americans perceive risks associated with climate change. Using a mail–in questionnaire, people were asked to describe their first thought or image that comes to mind with the words, “global warming.” It would be interesting for the reader to share their answer to this question in the space below.

People surveyed also answered questions that gauged the degree of concern they have about global warming. One of the things that Leiserowitz found was that people clustered into what he calls “interpretive communities,” birds of a feather so to speak. These groups include what he called the “alarmists,” who view global warming in apocalyptic terms, and the “naysayers,” who deny that it’s happening or who think that it’s unimportant.

This year’s media coverage of global warming reached a high water mark with the release of the movie, An Inconvenient Truth. But recent surveys rank global warming 12th among 13 environmental problems, right below urban sprawl.

One reason why more people aren’t responding to what the media is reporting is that global warming hasn’t been framed as an issue of personal relevance, asserts Matthew Nisbet, a social scientist at American University. Much of the public, in his view, relies on “cognitive short–cuts” such as partisanship or ideology to decide what’s important to them.

We can do our own informal survey here. What’s YOUR first thought or image that comes to mind, when you think of the words “global warming?”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow in Vegas??

Praise Al Gore!!!

I'm so happy that most of the world has listened to him because we now see the end of global warming. All of Al Gore's hard work has paid off. Why, things have gotten so good that global warming has completely reversed itself and it is now snowing in Las Vegas.

And just so you don't think it is only Sin City that has been wonderfully blessed by Al Gore's pious efforts, it has snowed in Houston, New Orleans, and Mississippi. (OK, technically it was only sleet in Mississippi).

The world has been told for the last few years that we are all going to be drowning under the antarctic ice melt, but this year is the coldest year in the last decade. Of course a look at the graph shows a scary comparison between the last 2 decades and the 1800's. Well, there was this little thing called the "little ice age" that ended in the 1800's, which caused lower than average temperatures.


But there is even more urgent news. Al Gore needs to save the Universe, not just our measly little planet.

Recent reports show that Mars is experiencing global warming. The polar ice caps on Mars have been retreating. A treasure like Al Gore is just too valuable for us to keep all to ourselves, we need to immediately launch him on a rocket to Mars to save that planet. Do you think those little rovers that have been running around Mars were made from SUV parts? Maybe by launching industrial products to the surface of Mars, we have inadvertently caused the whole planet to go into a tailspin.

But wait, the problem is not just limited to Earth and Mars, we need Al Gore on Jupiter and Pluto. Those planets have also been seeing a warming period. Please, oh please, is there some way to clone Al Gore? We need Al to wade into the liquid nitrogen pools on Neptune's moon, Triton.

Or, perhaps a better idea would be to realize that all of this talk of global warming is really just hogwash and that global warming is really quite more attributable to solar activity and cycles than it is about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A recent article that was widely spread by the Associated Press exclaimed that Barack Obama had precious little time to save the planet. Well, as you guessed, it was all just hysteria.

More than ever, we need to make sure that decisions are based on fact and science, not just feel good hysteria promoted by a washed up politician like Al Gore. The Obama cabinet that will have the most influence on energy and environmental policy is a who's who for the global warming movement. The last thing that we need is to send the economy further into a tailspin by throwing billions and billions of dollars to try and save a planet that does not need saving or forcing the American automobile companies to start producing little green cars that so far, few have wanted to buy.

UPDATE:I knew that our Savior Al Gore would not let his dear friends in Hollywood down and only help Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas. It is now snowing in Malibu. Do they make a parka for "Malibu Barbie"? All hail our savior Al Gore!!! Maybe they will do a movie on Al's accomplishments. I'm sure Brad Pitt would be willing to play the lead role. Could they convince Angelina Jolie to play Tipper?

Obama's Facts On Global Warming Are Wrong

COPENHAGEN: In one of his first public policy statements as America's president-elect, Barack Obama focused on climate change, and clearly stated both his priorities and the facts on which these priorities rest.



Unfortunately, both are weak, or even wrong.

Obama's policy outline was presented via video to California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Governors Global Warming Summit, and has again been shown in Poznan, Poland, to leaders assembled to flesh out a global warming roadmap.

According to Obama, "few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change".


Such a statement is now commonplace for most political leaders around the world even though it neglects to address the question of how much we can do to help America and the world through climate policies versus other policies.

Consider, for example, hurricanes in America. Clearly, a policy of reducing CO2 emissions would have had zero consequence on Katrina's devastating impact on New Orleans, where such a disaster was long expected.

Over the next half-century, even large reductions in CO2 emissions would have only a negligible impact.

Instead, direct policies to address New Orleans' vulnerabilities could have avoided the huge and unnecessary cost in human misery and economic loss.

These should have included stricter building codes, smarter evacuation policies, and better preservation of wetlands, which could have reduced the ferociousness of the hurricane.

Most importantly, a greater focus on upkeep and restoration of the levees could have spared the city entirely. Perhaps these types of preventive actions should be Obama's priority.

Likewise, consider world hunger. Pleas for action on climate change reflect fears that global warming might undermine agricultural production, especially in the developing world. But global agricultural and economic models indicate that even under the most pessimistic assumptions, global warming would reduce agricultural production by just 1.4 percent by the end of the century.

Because agricultural output will more than double over this period, climate change would at worst cause global food production to double not in 2080, but in 2081.
Moreover, by implementing the Kyoto Protocol at a cost of $180 billion annually would keep two million people from going hungry only by the end of the century.

Yet by spending just $10 billion annually, the United Nations estimates that we could help 229 million hungry people today. Every time spending on climate policies saves one person from hunger in a hundred years, the same amount could have saved 5,000 people now. Arguably, this should be among Obama's top priorities.

Obama went on to say why he wants to prioritise global warming policies: "The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We've seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season".

Yes, global warming is happening, and mankind is partly responsible, but these statements are, however eloquent, seriously wrong or misleading.
Sea levels are rising, but they have been rising since the early 1800's. In the era of satellite measurements, the rise has not accelerated. Actually we've seen a sea-level fall over the past two years.

The UN expects about a 30 centimetre sea level rise over this century, about what we saw over the past 150 years.

In that period, many coastlines increased, most obviously in Holland, because rich countries can easily protect and even expand their territory. But even for oft-cited Bangladesh, scientists just this year showed that the country grows by 20 square kilometres each year, because river sedimentation wins out over rising sea levels.

Obama's claim about record droughts similarly fails even on a cursory level. The United States has in all academic estimates been getting wetter over the century with the 1930's "dust bowl" setting the drought high point.

This is even true globally over the past half century, as one of the most recent scientific studies of actual soil moisture shows: "there is an overall small wetting trend in global soil moisture".

Furthermore, famine has rapidly declined over the past half century. The main deviation has been the past two years of record high food prices, caused not by climate change, but by the policies designed to combat it: the dash for ethanol, which put food into cars and thus upward pressure on food prices.

The World Bank estimates that this policy has driven at least 30 million more people into hunger. To cite policy driven famine as an argument for more of the same policy seems unreasonable, to say the least.

Finally, it is simply wrong to say that storms are growing stronger every hurricane season. Even for the Atlantic hurricane basin, which we tend to hear about the most, the total hurricane energy (ACE), as measured by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has declined by two thirds since the record was set in 2005.

For the world, this trend has been more decisive: maximum ACE was reached in 1994, and has plummeted for the past three years, while hurricanes around the world have for the past year been about as inactive as at any time since records began being kept.
Global warming should be tackled, but smartly through research and development of low carbon alternatives.

Top 10 Global Warming Predictions

GLOBAL warming preachers have had a shocking 2008. So many of their predictions this year went splat.

Here's their problem: they've been scaring us for so long that it's now possible to check if things are turning out as hot as they warned.

And good news! I bring you Christmas cheer - the top 10 warming predictions to hit the wall this year.

Read, so you can end 2008 with optimism, knowing this Christmas won't be the last for you, the planet or even the polar bears.

1. OUR CITIES WILL DIE OF THIRST

TIM Flannery, an expert in bones, has made a fortune from books and lectures warning that we face global warming doom. He scared us so well that we last year made him Australian of the Year.

In March, Flannery said: "The water problem is so severe for Adelaide that it may run out of water by early 2009."

In fact, Adelaide's reservoirs are now 75 per cent full, just weeks from 2009.

In June last year, Flannery warned Brisbane's "water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months".

In fact, 18 months later, its dams are 46 per cent full after Brisbane's wettest spring in 27 years.

In 2005, Flannery predicted Sydney's dams could be dry in just two years.

In fact, three years later its dams are 63 per cent full, not least because June last year was its wettest since 1951.

In 2004, Flannery said global warming would cause such droughts that "there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis".

In fact, Perth now has the lowest water restrictions of any state capital, thanks to its desalination plant and dams that are 40 per cent full after the city's wettest November in 17 years.

Lesson: This truly is a land "of drought and flooding rains". Distrust a professional panic merchant who predicts the first but ignores the second.

2. OUR REEF WILL DIE

PROFESSOR Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of Queensland University, is Australia's most quoted reef expert.

He's advised business, green and government groups, and won our rich Eureka Prize for scares about our reef. He's chaired a $20 million global warming study of the World Bank.

In 1999, Hoegh-Guldberg warned that the Great Barrier Reef was under pressure from global warming, and much of it had turned white.

In fact, he later admitted the reef had made a "surprising" recovery.

In 2006, he warned high temperatures meant "between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland's great Barrier Reef could die within a month".

In fact, he later admitted this bleaching had "a minimal impact".

In 2007, he warned that temperature changes of the kind caused by global warming were again bleaching the reef.

In fact, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network last week said there had been no big damage to the reef caused by climate change in the four years since its last report, and veteran diver Ben Cropp said this week that in 50 years he'd seen none at all.

Lesson: Reefs adapt, like so much of nature. Learn again that scares make big headlines and bigger careers.

3. GOODBYE, NORTH POLE

IN April this year, the papers were full of warnings the Arctic ice could all melt.

"We're actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time," claimed Dr David Barber, of Manitoba University, ignoring the many earlier times the Pole has been ice free.

"It's hard to see how the system may bounce back (this year)," fretted Dr Ignatius Rigor, of Washington University's polar science centre.

Tim Flannery also warned "this may be the Arctic's first ice-free year", and the ABC and Age got reporter Marian Wilkinson to go stare at the ice and wail: "Here you can see climate change happening before your eyes."

In fact, the Arctic's ice cover this year was almost 10 per cent above last year's great low, and has refrozen rapidly since. Meanwhile, sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has been increasing. Been told either cool fact?

Yet Barber is again in the news this month, predicting an ice-free Arctic now in six years. Did anyone ask him how he got his last prediction wrong?

Lesson: The media prefers hot scares to cool truths. And it rarely holds its pet scaremongers to account.

4. BEWARE HUGE WINDS

AL Gore sold his scary global warming film, An Inconvenient Truth, shown in almost every school in the country, with a poster of a terrible hurricane.

Former US president Bill Clinton later gloated: "It is now generally recognised that while Al Gore and I were ridiculed, we were right about global warming. . . It's going to lead to more hurricanes."

In fact, there is still no proof of a link between any warming and hurricanes.

Australia is actually getting fewer cyclones, and last month researchers at Florida State University concluded that the 2007 and 2008 hurricane seasons had the least tropical activity in the Northern Hemisphere in 30 years.

Lesson: Beware of politicians riding the warming bandwagon.

5. GIANT HAILSTONES WILL SMASH THROUGH YOUR ROOF

ROSS Garnaut, a professor of economics, is the guru behind the Rudd Government's global warming policies.

He this year defended the ugly curved steel roof he'd planned at the rear of his city property, telling angry locals he was protecting himself from climate change: "Severe and more frequent hailstones will be a feature of this change," he said.

In fact, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits "decreases in hail frequency are simulated for Melbourne. . ."

Lesson: Beware also of government advisers on that warming wagon.

6. NO MORE SKIING

A BAD ski season three years ago - right after a great one - had The Age and other alarmists blaming global warming. The CSIRO, once our top science body, fanned the fear by claiming resorts such as Mt Hotham and Mt Buller could lose a quarter of their snow by 2020.

In fact, this year was another boom one for skiing, with Mt Hotham and Mt Buller covered in snow five weeks before the season started.

What's more, a study this year in the Hydrological Sciences Journal checked six climate models, including one used by the CSIRO.

It found they couldn't even predict the regional climate we'd had already: "Local model projections cannot be credible . . ."

It also confirmed the finding of a study last year in the International Journal of Climatology that the 22 most cited global warming models could not "accurately explain the (global) climate from the recent past".

As for predicting the future. . .

Lesson: The CSIRO's scary predictions are near worthless.

7. PERTH WILL BAKE DRY

THE CSIRO last year claimed Perth was "particularly vulnerable" and had a 90 per cent chance of getting less rain and higher temperatures.

"There are not many other parts of the world where the IPCC has made a prediction that a drop in rainfall is highly likely," it said.

In fact, Perth has just had its coldest and wettest November since 1991.

Lesson: As I said, don't trust the CSIRO's model or its warnings.

8. ISLANDS WILL DROWN

THE seas will rise up to 100m by 2100, claims ABC Science Show host Robyn Williams. Six metres, suggests Al Gore. So let's take in "climate refugees" from low-lying Tuvalu, says federal Labor. And ban coastal development, says the Brumby Government.

In fact, while the seas have slowly risen since the last ice age, before man got gassy, they've stopped rising for the last two, according to data from the Jason-1 satellite.

"There is no evidence for accelerated sea-level rises," the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute declared last month.

Lesson: Trust the data, not the politicians.

9. BRITAIN WILL SWELTER

The British Met Office is home to the Hadley Centre, one of the top centres of the man-made global warming faith.

In April it predicted: "The coming summer is expected to be a 'typical British summer'. . ."

In fact, in August it admitted: "(This) summer . . . has been one of the wettest on record across the UK." In September it predicted: "The coming winter (is) likely to be milder than average."

In fact, winter has been so cold that London had its first October snow in 74 years -- and on the day Parliament voted to fight "global warming".

Lesson: If the Met can't predict the weather three months out, what can it know of the climate 100 years hence?

10. WE'LL BE HOTTER

SPEAKING of the Met, it has so far predicted 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007 would be the world's hottest or second-hottest year on record, but nine of the past 10 years it predicted temperatures too high.

In fact, the Met this month conceded 2008 would be the coldest year this century.

That makes 1998 still the hottest year on record since the Medieval Warm Period some 1000 years ago. Indeed, temperatures have slowly fallen since around 2002.

As Roger Pielke Sr, Professor Emeritus of Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science, declared this month: "Global warming has stopped for the last few years."

Lesson: Something is wrong with warming models that predict warming in a cooling world, especially when we're each year pumping out even more greenhouse gases. Be sceptical.

Those, then, are the top 10 dud predictions of that hooting, screaming and screeching tribe of warming alarmists. Look and laugh.

And dare to believe the world is bright and reason may yet triumph.

'Airport Malaria' Risk Rising With Global Warming

Global warming is raising the risk for infection with so-called "airport malaria" in malaria-free zones of the United States and Europe, researchers warn.

Here's how it happens, as the scientists explain it : Mosquitoes make their way on to planes in tropical regions, and at the end of a flight can escape into the increasingly warmer climates of developed countries, where they now have a better chance of surviving and proliferating.

"The real problem with malaria is that it is not rare," said study author Dr. James H. Diaz, program director of environmental and occupational health at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. "It's the most common cause of infections in the world. It kills over 12 million people per year, and they're probably 300 to 500 million cases in the world every year. And the malaria-endemic areas of the world are themselves growing as the world warms."

"And we also know that an infected patient can get on a plane and get anywhere in 24 hours," added Diaz. "And an infected mosquito can get on a plane, as well. And in a warming world where mosquitoes live longer, have more breeding areas, and longer egg-laying seasons, this is a way the disease can be reintroduced into areas where it is now uncommon, such as the U.S."

Diaz and his colleagues presented their findings Monday at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene annual meeting, in New Orleans.

Diaz explained that in the more developed areas of the world where malaria is not widespread, the most common type of malaria is "imported malaria."

As distinguished from "airport malaria," this form of disease transmission simply involves the travel of a patient who had previously been infected with the illness in a region where malaria is common to regions where the disease is not common, such as the U.S. and Europe.

Diaz noted that the second most common means of transmitting malaria in regions where malaria is rare involves mosquitoes local to the region biting a traveler previously infected in a malaria-prone location. The mosquito then goes on to infect people living in the non-endemic region.

In the third instance, "airport malaria" is considered to be the least likely transmission scenario in malaria-free locales. In this case, a malaria-infected mosquito actually makes it way onto a plane traveling into a non-endemic zone. It then leaves the plane upon landing and bites somebody within a mile or so of the airport.

The authors point out that in 1999, the West Nile virus probably arrived in the United States by air via an infected traveler or an infected mosquito, eventually leading to the infection of local wild birds that in turn flew across the United States The result : 4,000 human infections that caused the death of 263 patients.

To highlight the serious potential for malaria to track the same route into currently non-infected regions, the researchers observe that a 1983 analysis of international planes coming from tropical regions to Gatwick Airport in London found that 12 of 67 planes were carrying mosquitoes.

To date, two cases of "airport malaria" were identified at Gatwick in 1983, and another six cases were uncovered at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris in 1994.

"It's very rare," admitted Diaz. "But it will happen here in the U.S., if it hasn't happened already."

Meanwhile, Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center, suggested that plane fumigation is one potential solution to the problem.

"In an article I wrote about a year or two ago, I stressed the need to fumigate airlines as the passengers disembark, especially if they originate from areas that have endemic malaria," he said. "But airlines don't want to do it, because some people may have an adverse reaction to the fumigate, and it takes time and money, and it's not part of the current turnaround procedure. But I think it should be mandated by the World Health Organization."

Tierno said that, in the absence of such preventative steps, the threat is significant.

"I can say that airport malaria has occurred in the past and will occur in the future unless something is done about it," he said. "I don't think it would be a situation that would give rise to large numbers of individuals getting ill, judging on the past experience we have over decades of flying. But I do think it can get worse if air travel increases, which it might. So, I think the more significant thing is, you don't want any number of individuals coming down with airport malaria if you can help it."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

European leaders clash over pledges on global warming

The EU summit must decide how the bloc will achieve its target of 20% emissions cuts by 2020. Photograph: PA/Haydn West

European leaders gather in Brussels today for a crunch summit, acutely divided over how to deliver on pledges to combat global warming almost two years after declaring they would show the rest of the world how to tackle climate change.

The EU is split between the poorer east and the wealthy west. Germany says that most of their industries need not pay to pollute, Italy says it cannot afford the ambitious scheme, and Britain says that the package on the table could result in huge windfall profits for companies.

"There is a very big chasm between the various parties," said a senior European diplomat.

Prime ministers and presidents appear to be getting cold feet over key decisions that need to be taken by the weekend to enact laws that will make the climate change package binding for 27 countries.

Failure is not an option, they say. But Polish veto threats, Italian resistance, and German insistence that it will not jeopardise jobs to help save the planet, suggest that the action plan will be diluted. The risk is the EU will draw withering criticism from climate campaigners and signal weakness and indecision to the US, China, India and other key players in the global warming fight.

"It's a question of credibility," said Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission who described the summit as the most important of his five-year term. "It would be a real mistake for Europe to give the signal that we are watering down our position."

A negative outcome to the talks would moreover cast a pall over the latest round of UN negotiations to secure a post-Kyoto treaty to limit global greenhouse gases.

But at talks in Poznan, Poland, on Wednesday, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, said: "There are a few issues left but I cannot imagine that we're not going to get an agreement on Friday. We are going to deliver the targets."

The EU package represents the most ambitious legislative effort on climate change anywhere which includes four laws that mandate cuts in greenhouse gases by one-fifth by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, reduce energy consumption in Europe by one-fifth by the same deadline and stipulate that 20% of Europe's energy mix comes from renewable sources.

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel engineered the deal as EU president in March last year. Since then the EU has been bragging about leading the world in the race to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2C.

It falls to Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, to end his dynamic six months in the EU hot seat with a deal that could see the entire package turned into law before Christmas.

Sarkozy is staring failure in the face. But he is widely viewed as a consummate fixer who may pull it off. The disputes are fundamentally about costs, a disagreement that has become magnified in the current economic climate. While everyone agrees the headline target of 20% cuts in greenhouse gases by 2020 is sacrosanct, the disputes are about how to get there.

The heart of the scheme is the "cap-and-trade" or emissions trading system which is to supply around half of the cuts in greenhouse gases. The ceiling for industrial pollution levels is progressively lowered and industries and companies pay to pollute by buying permits in an auction system.

The pay-to-pollute principle is supposed to kick in from 2013, but is hugely contentious. Germany, in particular, is demanding that 30 industrial sectors be given their permits free of charge. The sectors are responsible for 90% of emissions in the scheme. If the Germans win the argument, the incentives for going greener will be minimised and revenue from the scheme will collapse.

"The Germans have set out an extreme negotiating position," said another diplomat. "They want absolute protection for all of their industry."

The mighty industrial lobbies in Germany are complaining that their global competitiveness will be wrecked if they need to pay for the pollution permits and are threatening to move out of Europe.

Merkel this week said that the summit "must not take decisions that would endanger jobs or investments in Germany. I will see to that."

The dispute between "old" and "new" Europe is also deep, with many seeing it as the biggest obstacle to an agreement.

The poorer post-communist states of central Europe, led by Poland, feel they are getting a raw deal, that they cannot afford the package, that their economic development will be affected and that their costs of living will soar.

Poland, for example, generates more than 90% of its electricity from dirty coal. It wants its power stations exempted from buying the permits until 2019 as well as massive transfers of funds from west to east.

The subsidies are supposed to be funded from the proceeds of the permit auctions. But the pot of money will be small if Germany wins the free permits argument. Britain is leading opposition to this form of subsidy, arguing that transfers of money to central Europe should come from the EU budget.

Silvio Berlusconi, the unpredictable Italian prime minister, has also warned he could veto the package on the grounds that he was not in office when it was agreed in spring last year.

Since then, the financial meltdown and the threat of a deep economic recession have dampened enthusiasm among European leaders.

While Barroso and Gordon Brown emphasise the opportunities for investment and job creation through tackling climate change, the German and Italian leaders are spreading the gloomier message that fighting global warming will cost jobs and growth.

If a deal is struck, it will result from Sarkozy twisting arms in a series of face-to-face meetings with other leaders likely to run into the small hours of Saturday morning.

The deadline is daunting. If the laws are not enacted within a couple of months, the momentum will be lost because the current European parliament ends its term in the spring and a new European commission is due next October.

The Europeans will have forfeited the leadership role on global warming to the incoming Obama administration in Washington.

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What is proposed: from old-fashioned trading to futuristic burials
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The greening of Europe - aimed at making the EU the world's first low-carbon economy - is to be carried out through four EU directives, binding on 27 countries:

Emissions Trading Scheme
The cap and trade scheme limits industrial emissions and forces companies to pay to pollute by buying permits for each tonne of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The permits are to be traded in an auction system. The new law revises the ETS, which has been operating in embryo since 2005. This scheme is supposed to supply about half the greenhouse gas cuts. The draft exempts some sectors from paying on competition grounds. But Germany wants to vastly expand the exemptions and Poland wants to get its power stations' permits for nothing.

Effort-sharing
This law covers the other half of the pollution total from sources not subject to the ETS, such as emissions from farming, the building sector and transport. While the ETS is to be run on a Europe-wide basis, the effort-sharing targets are to be prescribed nationally. Connected to this, there have already been agreements on new car emissions and road fuel, cutting CO² emissions from most new cars by 19% over a three-year period from 2012 and stipulating that 10% of transport fuel is to be non-fossil.

Renewables
An agreement was reached on Tuesday that 20% of Europe's energy mix will come from renewable sources, such as windfarms and hydro-power, by 2020. Progressive national targets and quotas have been set, with Britain needing 15% from renewables by the deadline.

Carbon Capture and Storage
A new law envisages the establishment of 12 "demonstration" CCS projects to sequestrate and bury CO² from power plants. Expensive and futuristic, the scheme is to be off the ground by 2015, but is the subject of dispute over which countries get the pilot projects and how they are funded.

California moves on global warming

California, the leading U.S. state on climate change, set detailed goals on Thursday to cut greenhouse gases and address global warming but faced criticism the plan's economic assumptions were hopelessly optimistic.

Home to the world's eighth largest economy, California confirmed its U.S. environmental trendsetter status with an ambitious 2006 law that seeks to cut carbon emissions linked to global warming to 1990 levels by 2020.

The law spearheaded by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the first in the country to set carbon targets. The federal government still has no firm plan.


"(The plan) provides a road map for the rest of the nation to follow," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. Democratic President-elect Barack Obama has promised to make climate change a priority when he takes office on January 20.

The California Air Resources Board voted on Thursday to adopt a plan to fill in details of how to cut carbon emissions, from forest conservation to energy efficiency and carbon emissions from industry and cars and trucks.

The goal of cutting carbon emissions about 30 percent below projected business-as-usual levels by 2020 has been widely accepted as a desirable target, and debate has moved to a cost-benefit analysis of means to make the cuts in the midst of an economic meltdown.

"We have laid out a plan which if followed can transform our economy and put us on the road to a healthier state," board Chairman Mary Nichols said as all eight board members approved the plan.

Measures include requiring that 33 percent of electricity be from renewable sources, regional transportation emissions targets and a cap-and-trade system for cutting industrial pollution by letting utilities and other companies trade emissions permits.

Much more remains to be done over the next few years. The plan has been compared to a menu for a meal, with recipes for dishes yet to be worked out.

"TRAIN WRECK" OR "GUIDEPOST?"

Critics have urged the board to reconsider, including some economists who argue the analysis is full of rosy assumptions and ignores potential problems.

"All economists are skeptical when approached with a free lunch," said University of California, Los Angeles economist Matthew Kahn. "I wonder if there would be less likelihood of a backlash if there were more discussion now."

Companies throughout California fear rising electricity and other costs will put them out of business.

"This plan is an economic train wreck waiting to happen. Up until now, that train wreck has only existed on paper," said California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce Legislative Affairs Chairman James Duran.

The board, responsible for carrying out the 2006 law, said it saw the growth of green business more than making up for the costs. Its analysis shows per-capita income rising about $200 a year as a result of the changes to the economy and a $7 billion per year rise in the gross state product of California -- a relatively small effect on the nation's most populous state.

James Fine, an economist for the Environmental Defense Fund, argued that the impact more than a decade from now of major changes to the state economy today was impossible to tell with the precision demanded by critics. The bottom line, he said, was that the economic impact was negligible.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to argue about whether the economic effects are going to be a little bit positive or a little bit negative," he said.

Fine and others expect California's plan to spur action from the U.S. Congress, which has failed to pass a cap-and-trade system for carbon that is central to the California plan.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson and Syantani Chatterjee; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Fighting global warming


The PM has approved a $135m plan to tackle global warming over the next seven years.


The Red River in Ha Noi during the dry season. A US$135 million programme to deal with climate change has been approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. — VNA/VNS Photo Truong Vi

HA NOI — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a seven-year VND2.3 trillion (US$135 million) national programme to deal with climate change.

The programme, to begin next year, will focus on the rate of change and introduction of an action plan to deal with the short and long-term consequences of climate change.

The programme’s major tasks will include:

Assessment of the impact of climate change on Viet Nam;

Mapping measures to cope with its consequences;

Building scientific and technological programmes for climate change;


Raising public awareness about climate change; and Increasing international co-operation to deal with the consequences of climate change and devising actions plans for each locality and sector.


Viet Nam was among the countries that would be hardest hit by the global warming and rising sea levels, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan told a Vietnam News Agency reporter at the 14th session of the Climate Change Convention in Pozna, Poland on Thursday.


"Implementing this programme will require a huge use of resources – both the workforce and finance," he said.

"It must be considered a major challenge to Viet Nam in the context of the global financial crisis and its impact on the economy."


Viet Nam would mobilise all its resources to implement the programme, including the negotiation of international financial assistance in the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol and the UN’s framework climate-change convention.


"Viet Nam is a reliable destination for foreign investors and has received many pledges from the international community in development investment," the deputy prime minister said.


"We have also received pledges to support the programme from other governments and hope to receive more."


The Government would ask the National Assembly to approve an appropriate budget for the programme.


The World Bank lists Bangladesh, the Bahamas, Egypt, Surinam and Viet Nam as the five countries likely to be most adversely affected by rising seas.


Viet Nam will lose 70-80 per cent of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta; 12-15 million tonnes of rice a year with 20 million people made homeless by 2050, if the sea rises 1m.


Oxfam warning


Likely yearly damage is estimated at $17 billion or 20 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

The Cuu Long would disappear if the sea rises 5m.


Britain’s Oxfam warns that millions of Vietnamese could slide into poverty unless action is jointly taken by relevant ministries and agencies to mitigate environment-related disasters.


About 70 per cent of Viet Nam’s population live in disaster-prone zones.

The intensity and frequency of disasters have led to severe flooding, intense cold spells and prolonged drought, it says.


Oxfam bases its forecasts on a report by two of its researchers in disaster-prone Ben Tre Province, in the south, and Quang Tri, the centre.


The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Meteorology, Hydrography and Environment Institute director Dr Tran Thuc said Viet Nam’s average temperature was forecast to increase to 30 degree Celsius and the sea level may rise 1m by 2100.


Action taken


Climate change made disasters, particularly storms, floods and drought, more severe and thus their impact on life, production and development much worse, he said.


Ten storms have hit Viet Nam so far this year.


Viet Nam signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change after it was introduced at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992, and approved in 1994.


Viet Nam had continued to attend all important international conferences and negotiations to ensure the convention’s targets were met, said Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan.


Viet Nam delegation of high ranking officials to the 14th session of the Climate Change Convention in Pozna, proved the country’s role at international gatherings and its worries about climate change, he said.


"We have joined in the activities of the G-77 and China - a diverse group with differing interests in climate change issues - individual developing countries that participate in the debates - the East Asia Forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN)," the deputy prime minister said.


"And we have actively discussed and suggested ways to implement the convention’s articles at these gatherings."—VNS

Friday, December 12, 2008

California Will Create Green Economic Stimulus Package By Implementing Global Warming Solutions Act, New Study Says

Sacramento, CA - California will create a green economic stimulus plan that will serve as a national model by implementing the historic Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), according to a new study released recently.

The report, Getting the Job Done Right: Employment Growth through California's Global Warming Solutions Act (see full report (http://www.edf.org/documents/8897_AB32%20MCubed%20Jobs%20study.pdf) and executive summary

(http://www.edf.org/documents/8898_AB32%20MCubed%20summary.pdf) for policymakers), is timely because the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will vote on its Proposed Scoping Plan to implement AB 32 at its meeting on Dec. 11-12.

Conducted by M.Cubed, a research firm specializing in resource economics and public policy analysis, and commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the study examines recent analyses conducted by CARB and others to assess potential economic impacts of AB 32. AB 32 mandates that California cut its greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming approximately 30 percent by 2020. The study finds that well-crafted AB 32 policies can bring significant economic benefits and new jobs to California.

"This analysis shows that by acting immediately and decisively to reduce global warming pollution, California can create a green economic stimulus plan that delivers benefits to businesses and consumers alike," said James Fine, Ph.D., an economist and policy scientist for EDF, which cosponsored AB 32. "This stimulus is a critical tool to help California and the nation combat rising unemployment rates and budget shortfalls."

Key findings of the study include:


  • Implementing AB 32 is likely to increase employment in several sectors of the state's economy, as well as associated supply chains, including biomass-based fuels, building and transportation infrastructure construction, clean technologies, environmental engineering, consumer products, information technologies, transportation and logistics, waste management, and water purification and conservation.

  • California's friendly regulatory setting will attract additional investments in energy-related research and development. California has five of the nation's top 10 cities for clean tech investment (San Jose, Berkeley, Pasadena, San Francisco and San Diego).

  • Several Western states (Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Utah) and Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario) have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of a Western Regional Climate Action Initiative (http://www.westernclimateinitiative.org/). Regional cooperation over climate change policies significantly reduces the impetus for businesses to flee California to avoid climate pollution policy.

  • AB 32 will help California improve energy independence by establishing a more diverse energy supply system that can mitigate economic risks of single fuel-supply disruptions and improve long-term economic growth and higher employment levels.

  • Market-based policies that expand access to financing for consumers, small businesses and particularly vulnerable populations -- and are designed to smooth the transition to a low-carbon economy -- will spur the development of a new industry to provide that financing.


"By implementing AB 32 with well-designed policies, California can grow its economy, gain a competitive advantage and serve as a model for the nation to follow in the transition to a clean energy, low-carbon future," concluded Fine.


SOURCE: Environmental Defense Fund

Cutting global warming gases

The California Air Resources Board on Thursday adopted a strategy for cutting 30 percent of global warming emissions by 2020, as required by state law. Here are some of the ways the state plans to meet that goal, and the projected annual reduction in heat-trapping gases (mainly carbon dioxide).

TRANSPORTATION

Greenhouse gases reduced: 62.3 million metric tons

• Reduce carbon content in gasoline.

• Mandate retirement of old, inefficient heavy-duty trucks.

• Implement progressively stricter greenhouse gas standards – achieved by improving fuel mileage – for new cars offered for sale.

• Locate future development closer to urban cores to cut driving.

ELECTRICITY

Greenhouse gases reduced: 49.7 million metric tons

• Require utilities to get at least one third of their electricity from clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal.

• Tighten and broaden building and appliance energy-efficiency standards.

• Finance consumer incentives for installing rooftop solar systems on as many as 1 million homes.

POLLUTION TRADING

Greenhouse gases reduced: 34.4 million metric tons

• Allow factories, power plants and other large pollution sources to trade a limited number of state-issued pollution allowances, ratcheted down over time. Such a system lowers the overall cost of pollution control, economists say, because businesses able to cut emissions least expensively take on more of the pollution-reduction effort.

CHEMICALS

Greenhouse gases reduced: 20.2 million metric tons

• Require climate-friendly alternatives for refrigerants, fire suppressants and other

products containing chemicals that have high global warming impact.

• Impose a "mitigation fee" on products containing these chemicals to discourage their purchase and encourage manufacturers to use greener alternatives.

FORESTRY

Greenhouse gases reduced: 5 million metric tons

• Require forestry practices that reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, discourage development and otherwise preserve trees, which remove carbon from the atmosphere.

INDUSTRY

Greenhouse gases reduced: 1.4 million metric tons

• In addition to allowing pollution trading, impose restrictions on emissions from oil and gas drilling and the release of methane from refineries.

RECYCLING AND LANDFILLS

Greenhouse gases reduced: Less than 1 million metric tons

• Reduce methane emissions from landfills.

• Create financial incentives that increase recycling and reduce waste, particularly from business, to cut energy use in the extraction of manufacturing of raw materials.

Source: California Air Resources Board

State OKs tough plan to counter global warming

California's air quality board approved on Thursday the nation's most sweeping plan to reduce global warming by curbing emissions, a move that state regulators hailed as a nationwide model for President-elect Barack Obama.

State leaders predicted that the blueprint, unanimously approved by the California Air Resources Board, would stimulate California's lagging economy by creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of commerce, while business owners said the plan would worsen the state's fiscal woes.

"Today is the day we help unleash the full force of California's innovation and technology for a healthier planet, a stronger and more robust economy and a safer and more secure energy future," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

The changes called for over the next 12 years are sure to affect the products Californians buy, the cars they drive and the places they live. They are designed to allow the state to reach its legally mandated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a reduction of about 30 percent.

California is "taking on a global responsibility that can be a model for others," said air board Chairwoman Mary Nichols. "It's a sample of what we think can and should be done" by the Obama administration, she said.

The plan spells out 31 rules, including emissions-reduction targets for a wide range of industries, creation of an elaborate cap-and-trade program to limit emissions and will require local governments to reduce sprawling development.

Specific regulations to lower greenhouse gases will be created by the board in the coming months.

Most of the reductions will come from fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles that have been blocked by the Bush administration. Consumer appliances and new and existing buildings will be subject to higher efficiency standards. Utility companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. must provide 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.

The cap-and-trade program, under which participants are allotted so-called carbon credits that they can trade with others who exceed their limits, would cover 85 percent of greenhouse gas-emitting sources in the state, including electricity generation, large industrial sources and residential and commercial use of natural gas.

Details of the program were the subject of testimony during Thursday's meeting.

Environmental organizations want participants to buy the credits in an auction, while affected businesses and organizations such as the California Taxpayers Association want them for free. The European Union, which has the largest cap-and-trade program in the world, allots some credits for free, but its leaders want to charge all participants.

The average Californian will at first see subtle effects from Thursday's vote, such as increasing numbers of electric cars, Nichols said.

"There will still be cars, but there will be more that are able to be plugged in," she said. Also, small business owners are likely to be visited by their utility companies and asked to install meters to help monitor or regulate energy use, Nichols said.

But some small business owners and business advocacy groups said they were worried about the economic impact of the plan, pointing to a report by the nonpartisan legislative analyst's office and an academic peer review that criticized the air board's findings that the plan would have an overall net benefit to the state.

"The reality of climate regulations is that there will be costs in the near term," said Amisha Patel of the California Chamber of Commerce.

Other groups have called for the process to be put on hold until the board conducts an economic analysis of how the plan will affect small businesses, a call echoed by Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks (Sacramento County).

But Nichols lashed out at such criticism.

"Frankly, we don't think they understood what this analysis is about," she said, adding that the air board is aware of the weakened economy and will consider that as it fleshes out the plan with official regulations. The new regulations will be decided by Jan. 1, 2011, and be in full effect by Jan. 1, 2012.

Board member Daniel Sperling said that while the plan is specifically focused on the 2020 goal, it will put the state on course to meet a larger goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.

"What we're doing is breathing life into a movement," Sperling said.

Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills (Los Angeles County), who co-authored the bill that mandated the plan, said California is in a strong position.

"We're going to be in the right place at the right time as the federal government will probably use this as a model," Pavley said.
California's plan to cut emissions

Highlights of the Air Resources Board's blueprint for cutting greenhouse gases to 1990 levels in the next 12 years, a 30 percent reduction:

-- Put 85 percent of greenhouse gas-emitting industries into a cap-and-trade program.

-- Require utilities to produce 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

-- Increase efficiency standards for new and existing buildings.

-- Discourage urban sprawl by building housing near transit hubs.

-- Lower methane levels in landfills and encourage high levels of recycling and zero trash in landfills.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Melting ice may slow global warming

Scientists discover that minerals found in collapsing ice sheets could feed plankton and cut C02 emissions

Collapsing antarctic ice sheets, which have become potent symbols of global warming, may actually turn out to help in the battle against climate change and soaring carbon emissions.

Professor Rob Raiswell, a geologist at the University of Leeds, says that as the sheets break off the ice covering the continent, floating icebergs are produced that gouge minerals from the bedrock as they make their way to the sea. Raiswell believes that the accumulated frozen mud could breathe life into the icy waters around Antarctica, triggering a large, natural removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

And as rising temperatures cause the ice sheets to break up faster, creating more icebergs, the amount of carbon dioxide removed will also rise. Raiswell says: ' It won't solve the problem, but it might buy us some time.'

As the icebergs drift northwards, they sprinkle the minerals through the ocean. Among these minerals, Raiswell's research shows, are iron compounds that can fertilise large-scale growth of photosynthetic plankton, which take in carbon dioxide from the air as they flourish.

According to his calculations, melting Antarctic icebergs already deposit up to 120,000 tonnes of this 'bioavailable' iron into the Southern Ocean each year, enough to grow sufficient plankton to remove some 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual carbon pollution of India and Japan. A 1 per cent increase in the number of icebergs in the Southern Ocean could remove an extra 26 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the annual emissions of Croatia.

Raiswell, a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow, said: 'We see the rapid ice loss in Antarctica as one obvious sign of climate warming, but could it be the Earth's attempt to save us from global warming?' He added that the effect had not been discovered before because scientists assumed that the iron in the iceberg sediment was inert and could not be used by plankton.

In a paper published in the journal Geochemical Transactions, Raiswell and colleagues at the University of Bristol and the University of California describe how they chipped samples off four Antarctic icebergs blown ashore on Seymour island by a storm in the Weddell Sea.

They found that they contained grains of ferrihydrite and schwertmannite, two iron minerals that could boost plankton growth. 'These are the first measurements of potentially bioavailable iron on Antarctic ice-hosted sediments,' they write. 'Identifying icebergs as a significant source of bioavailable iron may shed new light on how the oceans respond to atmospheric warming.'

No rivers flow into the Southern Ocean and the only previously identified major source of iron for its anaemic waters is dust blown from South America. The team says that icebergs could deliver at least as much iron as the dust.

A key question is how much of the carbon soaked up by the growing plankton is returned to the atmosphere. 'We simply don't know the answer to that,' Raiswell said. Seeding the oceans with iron will only benefit the climate if the plankton sink to the bottom when they die, taking the carbon with them.

David Vaughan, a glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey, said: 'It's a very interesting new line of research and one that should be looked at in more detail.'

He said the number of icebergs in the Antarctic was expected to rise by about 20 per cent by the end of the century, which could remove an extra 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, if they all seeded plankton growth.

Indians don't believe in global warming!

Despite economic downturn, Indian consumers put premium on products/brands perceived to be socially responsible

BANGALORE, INDIA: Indians do not believe the environment is in crisis, but they think it is important to take environmentally-friendly actions and it is a high priority for them. Hence, 88 percent of Indian consumers are prepared to pay more for goods that are environmentally friendly against 82 percent in China. In Japan, only 68 percent of consumers feel the environment is the most important issue.

Unlike their peers in every other country, respondents in India believe there is too much fuss about the environment (79 percent) and they do not believe the world is experiencing global warming (56 percent). Still, 92 percent feel it is their duty to contribute to a better society and environment.

These are some of the interesting findings to emerge from a study of consumers in India, China and Japan, part of a 10-market global study called 'goodpurpose' conducted by Edelman, the world's largest independent PR firm.

The study seeks to understand consumer attitudes and preferences on the emerging issue of social purpose. Its findings show that despite the economic downturn, a strong majority think it is important to purchase products and brands they perceive to be socially responsible (India 90 percent, China 90 percent and Japan 64 percent).

"What we find particularly interesting in this study is that economic concerns are taking a distant place behind consumers' demands that quality brands be produced by socially conscious companies," says Alan VanderMolen, Edelman's Asia-Pacific President.

"The current economic crisis has made little or no difference to the financial or voluntary support given to good causes by Indians. We found that 23 percent of Indian respondents have actually paid more for a brand because it supports a good cause. We believe this is driven by two factors. First, the obvious fallout from product safety issues in the region over the past 18 months; and second, an expanding middle class that now has the power to address social issues at home through purchase decisions."

'Doing good' can forge bonds with consumers and translate to 'doing well'
"In India, 49 percent of consumers do not know of any socially responsible brands. However, a large majority agreed that it is important for brands and companies to set aside money for a good cause during an economic recession. Given the loyalty to socially-conscious brands, companies and brands in India should look at engaging with consumers to effect enduring positive change and build a deeper relationship with them. When brands act as 'citizen brands,' contributing to community and society beyond their functional benefits, 'doing good' can translate to 'doing well' and the brand can forge a stronger emotional bond with its consumers," VanderMolen added.

Even in an economic downturn, the majority of consumers in India and China would remain loyal to brands that have a good purpose. About 84 percent in India and 77 percent of consumers in China say they would remain loyal to socially-responsible brands in a recession. However, Japanese consumers tend to be less committed during tough times, with 46 percent saying they would remain loyal to a brand that demonstrated social purpose in an economic downturn.

"Brands that engage in social purpose have the opportunity to solidify relationships with consumers by consistently delivering quality products and demonstrating an ongoing commitment to the social welfare of the communities in which they are operating. Even in turbulent times like these, corporations receive short and long term benefits by delivering socially purposeful brands and top quality products" VanderMolen said.

Reducing poverty top of mind cause in India
Sixty-two percent of Indian consumers said that they would buy a brand that supports a good cause, regardless of what the good cause is, though the causes they support the most is reducing poverty (54 percent) followed by equal opportunity to education (40 percent) and protecting the environment (33 percent).

"In India, 49 percent of consumers do not know of any socially-responsible brands. However, a large majority agreed that it is important for brands and companies to set aside money for a good cause during an economic recession. Given the loyalty to socially conscious brands, companies and brands in India should look at engaging with consumers to effect enduring positive change and build a deeper relationship with them. When brands act as 'citizen brands,' contributing to community and society beyond their functional benefits, 'doing good' can translate to 'doing well' and the brand can forge a stronger emotional bond with its consumers," VanderMolen added.

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