Shakespeare Climate Awards
(28 March 2001)
The Global Warming scare has taken on some of the tragic and comical features of a
William Shakespeare play. With the awards season upon us, it is time to dedicate
Shakespeare plays to some of the players in the ongoing climate
debate. So, be upstanding for the `Shakespeares' -
To all the participants of the Hague Conference, who stayed up night after night in intense negotiations which ultimately failed, goes the play
To British environment minister, John Prescott (alias `the Beast'), and his French counterpart
Madame Voynet (alias `Beauty'), in loving memory of their tempestuous dealings at the Hague last year, goes the play
`Antony and Cleopatra'.
To George W. Bush, President of the United States, who has in one short letter read the funeral oration to the Kyoto Protocol, is dedicated the play
`All's Well that Ends Well'.
To rising star, Professor Michael E. Mann (he likes it said in full), the primary author of the discredited `Hockey Stick', goes the play
`The Comedy of Errors'.
To Al Gore, one-time Vice President of the United States and author of the now defunct Kyoto Protocol, is dedicated the play
'Love's Labour's Lost'.
To Christie Whitman, the new head of the EPA who wanted to re-ignite the global warming scare, but who has since been reined in by her boss, President Bush, goes the play
'The Taming of the Shrew'.
To the NOAA, who have somehow contrived to claim that January 2001 was one of the warmest on record (news to everyone else still recovering from hypothermia), goes the play
`The Winter's Tale'.
To former IPCC luminary and author of the infamous `chapter 8' of the 1995 IPCC report,
Ben Santer, goes the tragic play `MacBeth'. Deep.
To British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who thinks the foul British weather is now caused by global warming, goes the play
To Sir John Houghton, autocratic head of the
IPCC, is dedicated the tragedy `Julius
Caesar'. To whom will he say `Et tu, Bruté?'
To the National Assessment Team, whose flights
of pure fiction about future US climate flew like a lead
balloon, is dedicated the comedy, `Much
Ado About Nothing'.
To the IPCC, with their latest unsubstantiated claims of a future 6-degree warming goes the play
`Midsummer Night's Dream', because
that's what they have resorted to in place of science.
To Fred Singer, whose inspired confidence about future climate stands in stark contrast to the scaremongers, goes the play
`As You Like It'.
To those princes of Denmark, Friis-Christensen, Lassen and
Svensmark, whose persistent research proved the sun to be the primary driver of climate changes goes, what else,
`Hamlet, Prince of Denmark'.
To Stephen Schneider goes the special salesmanship award, a play about a super salesman with a penchant for pounds of flesh,
`The Merchant of Venice'.
To Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, who like the tragic hero of this play, let himself be led by flatterers and courtiers, ultimately to his final disgrace. The play? -
To the Idso Dynasty, Sherwood and his sons Craig and Keith, who have meticulously catalogued and measured all the beneficial effects which plants will receive from CO2 enhancement. To them is dedicated the play
`Measure For Measure'.
To Fred Palmer, recent president of the Greening Earth Society, who did more than anyone to bring a widely scattered band of climate
sceptics together to resist the Kyoto Protocol, and who has occasionally been heard to mutter "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...", is dedicated the play most appropriate to his key role -
It is regretted that no-one in the climate community was able to earn the play
`Romeo and Juliet', due to lack of nominees. I disqualified myself due to conflict of interest as distinguished judge of these awards. However, there's always hope that someone (or even a pair of
someones) might eventually earn it and bring enduring peace to the world of climate.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, suffering from `global
warming'. (Photo taken 2nd March 2000, © Tom Klein)
Snow Job (8
and the Irish have one thing in common. They both copped bucketfuls of
snow in the dying days of winter and in early Spring. All caused by
global warming of course. At this rate of warming, the earth will
Newfoundland, Canada, after a tough winter, most Newfoundlanders weren't
expecting more snow during Spring. But it just kept falling, breaking a record set 119 years
ago on Saturday 7th April.
People in St. John's, Newfoundland, can look back on a season that brought more snow than the
winter of 1881-82. The old record of 598.2 centimetres fell when
weather officials announced a snowfall of 599.8 centimetres. For you
metric-phobes, that's nearly 21 feet !
Since October, Newfoundland has been hit with enough snow to reach the top of a
two-storey building. Weather experts say Newfoundland can expect to see wintry
conditions for at least two more weeks. Kyoto Protocol anyone?
fared little better. After several years with little snow, the capital
city Dublin was inundated with snow in the last week of February,
settling to depths which lasted into March. For a brief
splendid moment, the normally Emerald Isle came to resemble Santa's
playground. Will the Irish government now be so enthusiastic
about joining other E.U. countries in making the ill-fated protocol an
all-E.U. affair? (thanks to Brendan Fitzsimons and Barry Hearn for the
Dublin snowscape. Photo © Brendan Fitzsimons
Science' (8 Apr
William Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado, was recently
featured by the BBC. He is one of the growing number of
atmospheric scientists who is sceptical of the global warming
theory. William Gray said in part -
"Although initially generated by honest scientific questions of how human-produced greenhouse gases might affect global climate, this topic has now taken on a life of its own. It has been extended and grossly exaggerated and misused by those wishing to make gain from the exploitation of ignorance on this subject. This includes the governments of developed countries, the media and scientists who are willing to bend their
objectivity to obtain government grants for research on this topic."
indeed for the greenhouse industry. This linkage between
funding and research has always been a sensitive issue.
`Cigarette science' was how one commentator years ago
described the `science' bought and paid for by tobacco
greenhouse industry operates in the same way but on a much
grander scale, spending upwards of $4 billion worldwide per
year. All of that money hinges on one unproven theory
about how trace gases in the atmosphere behave. Any member of
that industry questions that theory at their peril. To do so
incurs loss of funding, career stagnation, and academic
But William Gray does question it -
"I have closely followed the carbon dioxide warming arguments.
From what I have learned of how the atmosphere ticks over 40 years of study, I have been unable to convince myself that a doubling of human-induced greenhouse gases can lead to anything but quite small and insignificant amounts of global warming."
the public, or even the President, might hear you.
See also - `Profiting
From Panic' - an op-ed
commentary on this same topic in the Nando Times by Prof Tim
Patterson and Tom Harris, both of Canada.
Climate Junket (29-Mar-2001)
Climate conferences are
lavish affairs, rarely held in ordinary places, but rather in exotic
locations, less a conference, more a holiday junket for over-stressed
The latest in the southern hemisphere is the `14th
Australia New Zealand Climate Forum', to be held for four days in
September, an opportunity for scientists in this part of the world to
meet (yet again) and compare papers (repeating all the same tired old themes). But
a glance at the map of Australia and New Zealand and where the main
populations are located easily show where the optimum location for
such a conference should be, a location which would minimise air
travel for the participants, to demonstrate their commitment to
avoiding excessive use of greenhouse gases in unnecessary
travel. They lecture the rest of us all the time on the need for
such restraint. Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra would be the optimum
locations to minimise such costs to an environment they claim to hold
not for them. "Do as we say, not as we
do" is their catchcry. This conference is to be held in Darwin,
Northern Territory, about as far away as one can get from all the main
centres of academic activity. The location will involve the attending
scientists to travel thousands of kilometres, emitting tons of
greenhouse gases on the way, just to have a taxpayer-funded junket in
a balmy tropical setting.
This comes at a time when the greenhouse
industry is exhorting all Australians and New Zealanders to economise
on the use of fossil fuels. From their actions, rather than
their words, it is clear they are not really serious about climate
change at all, but simply indulging their own appetite for exotic
travel in the name of `fighting climate change'.
For Previous "Stop Press!" news,
click the Tasmanian Devil
The Hot Rock
(30 Mar 2001)
This week's scare story in the greenhouse saga comes from Australia. Without waiting to publish results, without waiting for peer review, expeditioners of the Australian Antarctic Division returning from 5 months at Heard Island deep in the Southern Ocean
(53.10S 73.51 E), were scarcely ashore at Hobart before they were before the media telling tales of climate woe from Heard.
Their story basically was that Heard Island, diameter 25 km, had warmed
three-quarters of a degree celsius in 60 years, "coastal glaciers are rapidly retreating, the sea is invading, and vegetation is expanding as ice steadily disappears at this wilderness on the edge of the polar climate zone." One of the expeditioners claimed a glacier tongue had receded 500 metres in 14 years. Scary.
Claims of atmospheric warming at Heard were based entirely on glacier retreat, not on measured
temperature. This is because there is no permanent weather station there. Many glaciers in the world
(e.g. Iceland) have been observed to retreat with no change in atmospheric temperature. Thus, such retreats can only be caused by increased solar radiation in
recent decades or rebound from the earlier Little Ice Age.
The reported `impacts' of this real or imagined warming at Heard were dire too. More vegetation
(tut-tut), more sea birds (shaking
heads), many more fur seals (gasp!), and 25,000 king penguin pairs compared with only 3 pairs in 1947
(horror!). With all that new wild life bursting out all over, climate change must be `much worse than previously thought'
(the now standard cliche to grab attention).
But the expeditioners were not telling the whole story. The island is
volcanic. It has two volcanoes, the bigger of the two recently active. There were eruptions in 1881, 1910, 1950-1954, and
in 1985 when there was an eruption of lava flow. Satellite images and observations from an Australian base revealed additional eruptive activity in 1992. Earthquakes were felt on the island by a team of biologists in Dec. 1992. A new lava flow was observed in mid-January 1993. On Jan. 5, 1997, a pilot on an Antarctic sightseeing tour near Heard Island saw
a volcanic plume. That's six recorded eruptive episodes since 1947 when the first expedition visited Heard. However, the expeditioners coyly described the island's
volcanic state as `semi-active'.
So Heard Island is a hot rock, and some ice has melted on it. Time to hit the panic button.
`Authority' (8 Apr 2001)
There are two ways in which the
public can approach scientific, or pseudo-scientific claims.
One is to accept the `authority'
of the source of those claims, usually scientists, sometimes the media,
political figures, Nobel laureates, even film stars.
Another is to independently
consider the evidence itself and make a considered judgement without regard to
the academic `authority' of the source.
The first encourages uncritical
compliance with what may be a bogus orthodoxy. The second is what good
citizenship requires, to accept nothing on authority alone, but to review and
assess the evidence for oneself.
Suppose we had gone along with
`authority' in the 1970s? We would have been frantic about avoiding the next ice
age. In the 1980s, we would have been building shelters against the `nuclear
winter' (another discredited theory). In Britain, `authority' reassured the public about BSE
disease until it had spread uncontrollably. Authority is used to promote genetic
engineering of our food supply and even human reproduction itself with arrogant
disregard for public misgivings about the use of such technology.
For these reasons, `authority'
cannot be trusted to decide, without public debate, such key questions
involving public policy.
The greenhouse industry makes
much of a supposed `consensus' of 2,500 scientists, again an appeal to
`authority', but on closer examination, most of these were government officials,
with only about 400 actual scientists, a large proportion of whom were in fields
unrelated to climate. The IPCC has made a specialty of avoiding any public
debate, preferring instead media circuses to hand down their findings playing
the `authority' card for all its worth.
Robert Watson of the IPCC is now
defending the actions of the greenhouse industry against the new Bush policy by
claiming that scientists were united 98-2 or even 99-1 in favour of the global
warming theory. He exaggerates of course, as always, but forgets one little
One of the `1' happens to be the
President of the United States.
Kyoto (31 March 2001)
President Bush has
followed up his public letter to Senator Hagel with a clear statement
this week that the United States government does not support the Kyoto
Protocol, and will have nothing further to do with it. He has not
ruled out follow-up negotiations on climate, but made his terms clear
for any future agreement. It must not harm the U.S. economy, and no
major portion of the world's nations can be exempt from whatever
actions are agreed. This contrasts with the unrealistic Kyoto
arrangement where only the western industrial countries were required
to cut CO2 emissions, and to do so based on 1990 as reference
Use of 1990 was a ploy put up by the European Union to
enable them to capitalise economically on restructuring to energy
industries in U.K., Germany and France during the 1990s for reasons
unrelated to climate. Other countries like the U.S. and Australia did
not have this `head start' to make their emissions reductions easier
If President Bush does put up new proposals, the first
aspect of Kyoto which should be dumped is the fraudulent use of 1990
as reference year. Then let's see how enthusiastic the E.U. is about