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Saturday, July 12, 2008

U.N. Warming Program Draws Fire

Wall Street Journal

Fund Designed to Spur Renewable Energy Subsidizes Gas Plants

By JEFFREY BALL

July 11, 2008

A United Nations program designed to combat global warming has started doing something no one expected: It is subsidizing fossil-fuel power plants that spew millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere annually.

In the past year or so, 13 big plants in India and China that burn natural gas have won the U.N.'s blessing as aids in the fight against climate change. As a result, owners of the plants earn millions of dollars a year from a U.N. program intended to spur construction of solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable-energy projects.

This unforeseen turn is fanning new doubts about the environmental efficacy of the U.N.'s "carbon trading" program -- the most ambitious effort yet to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases where they're rising the fastest, in the developing world.

Concern about the program is spreading to the U.S. Doubts about the validity of some pollution-cutting projects in the developing world were one factor in the Senate's rejection last month of a bill that would have capped U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions.

The U.N. is now venturing further onto controversial turf. In recent months it has opened the door to subsidizing new coal-burning plants. Advocates argue that modern, cleaner-burning fossil-fuel technology is expensive, and without help paying for it, owners would build old-style plants that pollute more.

U.N. officials strongly defend their approach. For more than a year, they have been taking a harder line in judging proposed emission-cutting projects of all stripes, they point out. And since the world is widely expected to continue to get most of its energy from fossil fuels for decades, U.N. officials say it's entirely appropriate for the program to subsidize plants that burn that fuel more cleanly.

"Some of the countries in this world are endowed with fossil fuels," says Rajesh K. Sethi, an Indian government official who is chairman of the U.N. board that polices the subsidy program. "It is in the world's best interest that they use it as efficiently as possible."

Critics say the U.N. program is straying from its purpose of promoting renewable-energy projects. "Coal is, like, climate enemy No. 1," says Michael Wara, a Stanford University lecturer who has published several papers criticizing the U.N. program. For every unit of power it produces, burning coal generates more greenhouse gas than burning natural gas.

Mr. Wara argues that India and China are already building more-efficient plants anyway, since doing so makes economic sense at a time of rising energy prices. Using the U.N. program to subsidize these plants wastes money that could be used for other clean-energy projects.
Despite growing talk of shifting away from fossil-fuel use, none of the world's big countries want to have to pay for that to happen. That strain was on display this week, as diplomats met in Japan to try to cobble together a more-forceful international agreement to curb emissions of greenhouse gases.

On Tuesday, leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations set a goal of cutting emissions 50% by 2050, but made it nonbinding and didn't detail how they would meet it. On Wednesday, representatives of developing countries such as India and China declined to endorse even that loose target, saying it would hit their economies too hard.

Among the coal plants seeking subsidies under the U.N. program is a $4 billion behemoth currently under construction in the western Indian state of Gujarat. When it is finished in 2012, it will be one of the biggest coal-fired plants in the world.

The developer, Indian electricity producer Tata Power Co., is seeking about $36 million a year in subsidies, arguing that the alternative would have been to build a cheaper, less-efficient power plant.

The U.N. hasn't yet officially considered Tata Power's application, but the proposal has powerful backers. Among them: The World Bank Group's International Finance Corp. and the Asian Development Bank, each of which has loaned Tata Power $450 million to fund the plant.

"Let's be honest with ourselves," says Darius Lilaoonwala, senior manager of the International Finance Corp.'s power department. "These countries are going to need fossil-fueled electricity just like the U.S. and Europe. So let's encourage them to do the most-efficient technology possible."

"Of course, if you build a coal factory, it's not good for the environment," adds Tsukasa Maekawa of the Asian Development Bank. But countries that have a lot of coal are going to burn it, he says, so helping them finance more-efficient plants makes sense.

Fundamental Principle

One of the fundamental principles of the U.N. initiative, called the Clean Development Mechanism, is that it should subsidize pollution-cutting projects only if they would otherwise be too expensive to build. The Tata Power plant, however, will be built whether or not it gets the U.N. program's financial aid. The power plant "has to go on. We've already started the project," says Prasad Menon, Tata Power's managing director.

In addition, the Indian government essentially required the plant to use high-efficiency technology. Mr. Menon argues the project should still receive the U.N. subsidies because "it's a good move for the West to encourage India to move in this direction."

This tension has dogged the international global-warming campaign since its inception. Under a 1997 treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, most industrialized countries other than the U.S. agreed to cap their greenhouse-gas emissions. They then required heavily polluting companies within their borders to cut their emissions over time.

Developing countries didn't accept emission caps, arguing that stunting their economic growth to cope with a century's worth of pollution from the developed world would be unfair. As a compromise, the treaty created the Clean Development Mechanism, which aims to chip away at developing-world emissions one project at a time.

Under the U.N. program, companies in wealthy nations can meet their environmental obligations at home by financing pollution-cutting projects in the developing world. Companies in the developing world get cash, while the companies in the West get "carbon credits" -- permission slips to continue coughing out their own carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The system is designed to curb world-wide emissions at the lowest possible cost.

But the system works only if the developing-world projects actually cut emissions. If projects such as coal- and gas-fired plants India and China would have been built even without financial aid, then the U.N. program isn't actually cutting emissions.

The U.N. has the job of assessing the environmental validity of developing-world projects that seek subsidies. But gauging whether a proposal actually cuts emissions is tricky. The U.N. board must make two judgment calls: whether the project would reduce the country's emissions below what they otherwise would be, and whether the project would have been built even without the U.N. subsidy.

It's a "hypothetical thing," says José Domingos Gonzalez Miguez, a Brazilian government official on the U.N. board. "This is the problem."

Every month or two, the board's 20 members fly to Bonn, Germany. There, in a U.N. high-rise, they meet for several days, poring over proposed projects. The meetings are posted on the Internet and watched by investors with big money riding on the decisions.

The U.N. program was created to encourage renewable-energy projects. But in May 2006 the board approved the concept of letting gas-fired power plants sell carbon credits. A stream of gas-fired plants began applying.

Three of the biggest plants sit near each other in the east China province of Zhejiang, near Shanghai. Construction on all three had begun before the U.N. board's decision.

The owners of the three plants argued in their U.N. applications that the cheapest way for them to generate electricity would have been to build coal-burning plants. But because they had built more-efficient gas-fired plants, they argued, they deserved permission to sell a carbon credit for every extra ton of carbon dioxide that, according to their calculations, their plants would have emitted had they been built to burn coal.

Together, the three plants were seeking permission to sell 2.7 million carbon credits each year. A credit represents permission to emit one ton of carbon dioxide a year. Given that such credits from developing countries are now selling for about $13 apiece, U.N. approval would translate into about $35.1 million a year for the owners of the three plants combined.

The value of carbon credits from projects in the developing world was $7.4 billion last year, up 28% from 2006, according to the World Bank. Based on projects that have applied so far to sell carbon credits through 2012, when the Kyoto treaty's emission caps expire, fossil-fueled power plants account for only about 7% of the market, according to U.N. figures. But their share has been growing rapidly.

The architects of the U.N. program hoped it would spark a renewable-energy revolution, inducing a shift away from fossil fuels and toward everything from the sun to the wind to animal waste. In fact, renewable energy accounts for only about one-third of the carbon credits proposed to be issued through 2012, according to U.N. figures.

The owners of the three Chinese gas-fired plants worked with a broker that specializes in organizing carbon-credit projects. That firm, in turn, had hired a Norwegian auditing company, Det Norske Veritas, to certify that the plants' in-house emissions calculations were accurate. (The U.N. board authorizes auditors to do this kind of work on its behalf.)

In early 2007, Det Norske Veritas recommended all three projects to the U.N. board.

Today, Michael Lehmann, technical director for climate-change services at Det Norske Veritas, says he still believes the three Chinese power plants audited by his firm properly qualified for subsidies under the existing rules. But dozens of gas-fired plants in China are now rushing to snag carbon-credit revenue. That suggests the system "doesn't seem to be right any longer," he says -- it's unrealistic to think that none of them would be financially viable without the subsidies, particularly since so many are already built and running.

Mr. Sethi, the U.N. board chairman, says each of the plants the board has approved complies with the rules as they exist. "Each project is seen on its own merits," he says, declining to say whether he thinks the higher-level diplomats who made that policy should change it. "We are simply the implementing tool," he says of the board he heads.

Officials of the companies that own the three Chinese gas-fired plants defend their applications, saying they comply with the program's rules. "Gas is within [the] terms," says Li Jian, who works in the production technology department of one of the power companies, Zhejiang Guohua Yuyao Fuel Gas Power Generation Co. "So we got approved."

The three plants' applications were still pending before the U.N. board when, in early 2007, two coal-fired plants applied for permission to sell carbon credits. That prompted several months of testy debate among members of the U.N. board, who were conscious of how politically controversial the idea was.

Board members from developing countries that don't burn a lot of coal argued against approving the coal-fired plants. Mr. Miguez, the board member from Brazil, said it violated the U.N. program's intent.

"This would create loopholes," he said. "We are here as the board of the Clean Development Mechanism. And I think we should stress the word 'clean.'"

But members from countries that stood to gain from the proposal supported it. They included members from Canada and Japan -- both industrialized countries that accepted emission caps under the Kyoto treaty, and which therefore were hunting for cheap carbon credits to buy. Also supporting the applications from the coal plants were board members from India and China, two developing countries for whom domestic coal is a cheap energy source.

The proposal would "be of very great use in countries like India and China," Mr. Sethi, the board member from India, told his colleagues during one of the meetings that was broadcast online.

Board Approval

The board approved the coal proposal in September 2007, after adding provisions phasing out the rule over time and reducing the number of carbon credits any coal-fired plant could sell.
A few months later, the board approved the three Chinese gas-fired power plants' applications to sell carbon credits. And Tata Power formally asked the board to approve the sale of carbon credits from the massive coal-fired plant the company was developing in Gujarat.

Tata says the plant will emit an average of 26.7 million tons of carbon dioxide annually during its first decade of operation. That's 2.8 million fewer tons than the plant would discharge if it used the less-efficient coal-fired technology prevalent in India today, it says. So Tata is asking the U.N. to let it sell 2.8 million carbon credits annually. That would be worth about $36 million at current market prices.

The Tata plant has its roots in an electrification push by the Indian government. The government had rolled out plans in early 2006 for about a half-dozen huge coal-fired power plants. Dubbed by the government the "ultra mega" plants, they would each be able to produce a sizable 4,000 megawatts of electricity.

Tata Power's application to sell carbon credits is being reviewed by Det Norske Veritas, the auditing firm. The firm's Mr. Lehmann says he has his doubts about Tata's bid. "Look at the facts," he says. "The project has received funding. It's part of the policy of the government to implement this type of project," he says. Whether the plant needs carbon-market money "is really questionable." Mr. Lehmann says that the auditing firm is still looking into the project and hasn't yet made its recommendation.

In May, a second Indian coal-fired plant applied for U.N. permission to sell carbon credits.
--Kersten Zhang and Gao Sen contributed to this article.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Kyoto's Long Goodbye

Wall Street Journal

July 11, 2008

One of the mysteries of the universe is why President Bush bothers to charge the fixed bayonets of the global warming theocracy. On the other hand, his Administration's supposed "cowboy diplomacy" is succeeding in changing the way the world addresses climate change. Which is to say, he has forced the world to pay at least some attention to reality.

That was the larger meaning of the Group of Eight summit in Japan this week, even if it didn't make the papers. The headline was that the nations pledged to cut global greenhouse emissions by half by 2050. Yet for the first time, the G-8 also agreed that any meaningful climate program would have to involve industrializing nations like China and India. For the first time, too, the G-8 agreed that real progress will depend on technological advancements. And it agreed that the putative benefits had to justify any brakes on economic growth.

In other words, the G-8 signed on to what has been the White House approach since 2002. The U.S. has relied on the arc of domestic energy programs now in place, like fuel-economy standards and efficiency regulations, along with billions in subsidies for low-carbon technology. Europe threw in with the central planning of the Kyoto Protocol -- and the contrast is instructive. Between 2000 and 2006, U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions fell 3%. Of the 17 largest world-wide emitters, only France reduced by more.

So despite environmentalist sanctimony about the urgent need for President Bush and the U.S. to "take the lead" on global warming, his program has done better than most everybody else's. That won't make the evening news. But the fact is that the new G-8 document is best understood as a second look at the "leadership" of . . . you know who.

The G-8 also tends to make grand promises that evaporate as soon as everyone goes home. This year, picking up the "accountability" theme pressed by the U.S., envoys grudgingly accepted a plan that will track -- and publicize -- how well countries are living up to their word. So when the G-8 endorsed greenhouse reduction "aspirations" that are "ambitious, realistic and achievable," the emphasis fell on the last two attributes.

Put another way, global warming is an economic, not a theological, question. It is not at all clear that huge expenditures today on slowing emissions will yield long-run benefits or even slow emissions. Research and development into sources of low-carbon energy is almost certainly more useful, and the G-8 pledged more funding for "clean tech" programs. This is vastly preferable to whatever reorganization of the American economy that Barack Obama and John McCain currently favor in the name of solving this speculative problem.

The G-8 also conceded that global-warming masochism is futile and painfully expensive. If every rich country drastically cut CO2, those cuts would be wiped out by emissions from China and India. "Carbon leakage" is a major problem too, where cutbacks in some countries lead to increases in others with less strict policies, as manufacturing and the like are outsourced. This whack-a-mole won't stop without including all 17 major economies, which together produce roughly 80% of global emissions.

Much to the ire of Kyotophiles, Mr. Bush started this rethinking last year when he created a parallel track for talks on a post-2012 U.N. program, luring China and India to the table with more practical options. But developing countries, led by that duo, still refused to sign on to the G-8's 2050 goal. They aren't eager to endanger their growth -- and lifting people out of poverty -- by acquiring the West's climate neuroses.

The irony is that Kyoto has handed them every reason not to participate. Europe knew all along that it couldn't meet its quotas, so it created an out in "offsets." A British factory, say, buys a credit to pay for basic efficiency improvements in a Chinese coal plant, like installing smokestack scrubbers. This is a tax on the Brits to make Chinese industries more competitive. Sweet deal if you can get it.

It gets worse. The offsets are routed through a U.N. bureaucracy that makes them far more valuable in Europe than the cost of the actual efficiency improvements. So far, Kyoto-world has paid more than €4.7 billion to eliminate an obscure greenhouse gas called HFC-23; the necessary incinerators cost less than €100 million. Most of the difference in such schemes goes to the foreign government, such as China's communist regime.

Given these perverse incentives, the magical realism of Kyoto has backfired in a big way. The global warming elite will never admit this, because that would mean giving up their political whip against George Bush. But Kyoto II is already collapsing under its own contradictions. By sticking to a more realistic alternative, this reviled President has handed his green opponents a way to save face.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Metaphysics and Some Politics of Global Warming

Wall Street Journal

July 10, 2008

LETTERS

Regarding Bret Stephens's "Global Warming as Mass Neurosis" (Global View, July 1): In 1992, at my 25th Harvard College reunion, we got an accurate forecast of the "ideological convenience" driving global warming alarmism. In a discussion of the Rio Summit on environment and development, one of my classmates effused, "Who would have thought that the environment would bring us world government?" In other words, the advent of world-wide "pollution" controls will lead to world government (which all of us statist Harvard grads eagerly await).

On the other hand, climatologist Patrick Michaels has noted that we merely need to "follow the money" to explain global warming enthusiasm among scientists and academicians: Huge amounts of taxpayer dollars are running down the drain of climate research, and the people raking in the bucks are the same ones spouting the global warming nonsense.

Grant W. Schaumburg Jr.
Boston, MA

Here are the global warming movement's cultic parallels, many of whose characteristics can be found in Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias's famous 2003 book, "The Kingdom of the Cults":

(1) Leadership by a New Age prophet -- in this case, former Vice President Al Gore.
(2) Assertion of an apocalyptic threat to all mankind.
(3) An absolutist definition of both the threat and the proposed solution(s).
(4) Promise of a salvation from this pending apocalypse.
(5) Devotion to an inspired text which embodies all the answers -- in this case Mr. Gore's pseudo-scientific book "Earth in the Balance" and his new "An Inconvenient Truth" documentary.
(6) A specific list of "truths" which must be embraced and proselytized by all cult members.
(7) An absolute intolerance of any deviation from any of these truths by any cult member.
(8) A strident intolerance of any outside criticism of the cult's definition of the problem or of its proposed solutions.
(9) A "heaven-on-earth" vision of the results of the mission's success or a "hell-on-earth" result if the cultic mission should fail.
(10) An inordinate fear (and an outright rejection of the possibility) of being proven wrong in either the apocalyptic vision or the proposed salvation.

Finally, since this cultic juggernaut has persuaded (brainwashed?) a majority of Americans into at least a temporary mindset of support for its pseudo-religious scam, Mr. Stephens's label of "mass neurosis" seems frighteningly accurate.

Jim Guirard
Alexandria, Va.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mysterious California Glaciers Keep Growing Despite Warming

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

AP

June 19, 2008: The Bolam glacier on the northern face of Mt. Shasta.

MOUNT SHASTA, Calif. — Global warming is shrinking glaciers all over the world, but the seven tongues of ice creeping down Mount Shasta's flanks are a rare exception: They are the only known glaciers in the continental U.S. that are growing.

Reaching more than 14,000 feet above sea level, Mount Shasta is one of the state's tallest peaks, dominating the landscape of high plains and conifer forests in far Northern California.

Nearby Indian tribes referred to its glaciers as the footsteps made by the creator when he descended to Earth. Hikers flock to Shasta's peak every summer to scale them.

With glaciers retreating in the Sierra Nevada, the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere in the Cascades, Mount Shasta — the southernmost volcano in the Cascade range — is actually benefiting from changing weather patterns over the Pacific Ocean.

"When people look at glaciers around the world, the majority of them are shrinking," said Slawek Tulaczyk, an assistant professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led a team studying Shasta's glaciers. "These glaciers seem to be benefiting from the warming ocean."

Climate change has cut the number of glaciers at Montana's Glacier National Park from 150 to 26 since 1850, and some scientists project there will be none left within a generation.

Lonnie Thompson, a glacier expert at Ohio State University, has projected the storied snows at Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro might disappear by 2015.

But for Shasta, about 270 miles north of San Francisco, scientists say a warming Pacific Ocean means more moist air.

On the mountain, precipitation falls as snow, adding to the glaciers enough to overcome a 1.8 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature in the last century, scientists say.

"It's a bit of an anomaly that they are growing, but it's not to be unexpected," said Ed Josberger, a glaciologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Tacoma, Wash.

By comparison, the glaciers in the Sierra Nevada, more than 500 miles south of Mount Shasta, are exposed to warmer summer temperatures and are retreating.

The Sierra's 498 ice formations — glaciers and ice fields — have shrunk by about half their size over the past 100 years, said Andrew Fountain, a geology professor at Portland State University. He inventoried glaciers in the continental U.S. as part of a federal initiative.

He said Shasta's seven glaciers are the only ones scientists have identified as getting larger.
Glaciologists say most glaciers in Alaska and Canada are retreating, too, but there are too many to study them all.

Although Mount Shasta's glaciers are growing, researchers say the 4.7 billion cubic feet of ice on its flanks could be gone by 2100.

For the glaciers to remain their current size, Shasta would have to receive 20 percent more snowfall for every 1.8-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature, Tulaczyk said.
The Shasta glaciers have been advancing since the end of a drought in the early 20th century. The mountain's smallest glaciers — named Konwakiton, Watkins and Mud Creek — have more than doubled in length since 1950.

Hikers seeking to cross Shasta's glaciers — marked with crevasses as deep as 100 feet — say they are much larger than the boundaries drawn on geological maps.

"I noticed I was traveling down farther than the maps were showing it," said Eric White, a U.S. Forest Service ranger who has climbed Shasta for 23 years.

Four glaciers at Washington's Mount Rainier are staying about the same size. Those glaciers — shielded from the sun on the mountain's north and east sides — have received just enough snow to keep them from shrinking.

The added ice on Mount Shasta might be good for the state's water supplies. Hydrologists believe the glaciers feed springs and aquifers, though they say it's unclear precisely how the water travels underground.

Until recently, the same phenomenon that is benefiting Shasta's glaciers was feeding glacier growth in southern Norway and Sweden, the New Zealand Alps and northern Pakistan, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In each area, scientists say, more snowfall temporarily offset warming temperatures in the 1990s and early 2000s. But rising temperatures since then have begun to shrink the ice.
Climate change is causing roughly 90 percent of the world's mountain glaciers to shrink, said Thompson, the Ohio State glacier expert.

"Best that we keep our eye on the big picture," Thompson said in an e-mail about Shasta's unique position. "The picture points unfortunately (to) massive loss of ice on land, which has huge implications for future sea level rise."

Global forecasts show temperatures warming from 2 degrees to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century if no major efforts are undertaken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At that rate, California's snowpack and its remaining glaciers are among the most vulnerable of its natural resources.

Even without global warming, another threat to Shasta's glaciers could come far more quickly: a volcanic eruption could melt them, creating mud flows that could bury the surrounding small communities.

Over the last 4,000 years, Shasta has erupted about every 250 to 300 years, and did so most recently about 200 years ago, said William Hirt, a geology instructor at the College of the Siskiyous.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

American First Energy Plan

An America-First Energy Plan

A Commentary By Lawrence Kudlow

Thursday, July 03, 2008
President Bush was on message Wednesday in a Rose Garden news conference, when he kept up the pressure on his a drill, drill, drill offensive. He said he knows Americans are worried about gasoline prices and wants them "to understand fully that we have got the opportunity to find more crude oil here at home in environmentally friendly ways."

He specifically mentioned opening up ANWR, the outer continental shelf and oil-shale exploration. He also took a whack at lawmakers, saying, "The Democratically controlled Congress has refused to budge."

That's spot-on correct. But it has me wondering. Where in the world is John McCain on this very same issue? It's simple: Sen. McCain should be pummeling Barack Obama daily on drill, drill, drill. Why? Because oil and gas pump prices are potentially the single-biggest wedge issue in the presidential campaign. McCain has to pound the point home.

According to a new Rasmussen poll, 48 percent of Americans say lower gas prices are the key to an economic recovery, and 60 percent are in favor of offshore drilling.

Here's another one. Rasmussen asked voters about the now-infamous Harry Reid YouTube video, where the senator says coal and oil are making us sick, and that fossil-fueled global warming is "ruining our country" and "ruining our world." Well, Rasmussen shows that 52 percent of voters reject Reid on coal; 50 percent disagree with him on oil; and 51 reject his idea that we need to stop using fossil fuels.

And all this is McCain's opportunity. He needs to hammer away on an America First energy policy that will completely deregulate and decontrol this nation's great energy industry. He needs to mothball his errant statements on "obscene oil profits." Instead, he needs to support and unleash all of our energy companies and entrepreneurs, allowing them to develop whatever it takes on oil, gas-to-liquid, clean coal, nuclear, offshore, onshore, oil shale, wind, solar and biofuel.

America First should be the rallying cry. We have the natural resources to become the Saudi Arabia of coal and the Saudi Arabia of oil. Lift the moratoriums. Stop attacking our own businesses. Put technology to work. Put venture capital to work, with rock-bottom capital-gains and corporate tax rates. Stop being mau-maued by the extremist greenies who have prevented energy production for over three decades.

America First. Unleash our free-enterprise energy sector: 2 trillion barrels worth of shale; 90 billion barrels of offshore oil; at least 10 billion barrels up in ANWR and more throughout Alaska, both onshore and off.

Politically, Sen. McCain must also understand how Hillary Clinton clobbered Barack Obama in the big-state primaries: blue-collar workers. They can be the key to victory for McCain. Guess who works in the energy business? Blue collar Reagan Democrats. They work on the rigs. They work in the fields. They drive the trucks. And they're paid high wages -- substantially above the average hourly wage.

Or McCain can sell it this way: American workers are worried about jobs going offshore to India, China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Well, a drill, drill, drill America First energy plan would create millions of new domestic American jobs.

Of course, there's also a national security aspect to this. Worried about funding terrorist rogue states? Drill, drill, drill. A complete portfolio of oil energy sources in America -- that's the answer.

And while he's at it, McCain should stop blaming "reckless traders." As soon as you say, "End the drilling moratoriums," it is precisely those traders who will start selling oil contracts -- long before the first offshore oil barrels are delivered to market. If they see presidential leadership on oil and shale drilling, they will rapidly turn a bull market into a bear market.

Sen. Obama is opposed to drilling. Opposed to nuclear. Opposed to coal. He and Harry Reid believe wind, solar and ethanol are the answers. They're not. It's doubtful even at full development and commercialization that these alternative technologies will ever power more than 10 percent of our energy needs. We should go down this road as part of a full energy portfolio. But let's not kid ourselves: These sources alone will never be sufficient.

McCain has to make this case daily. He must contrast his America First energy plan with Obama's declinist American vision. He must argue America First for fuel, power, jobs, wages and national security. He must enlist the Reagan Democrats who may be out of work and are surely angry at $4 gas at the pump and $140 a barrel oil in the world market.

Take a page from Ronald Reagan, Mr. McCain. Be optimistic about our future. Be clear, straightforward and consistent. We can grow this economy and remain No. 1. This is how to do it.
COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Huge Volcanoes May Be Erupting Under Arctic Ice

Wednesday, July 02, 2008
By Jeanna

'Huge Volcanoes May Be Erupting Under Arctic Ice

New evidence deep beneath the Arctic ice suggests a series of underwater volcanoes have erupted in violent explosions in the past decade.

Hidden 2.5 miles (4,000 meters) beneath the Arctic surface, the volcanoes are up to a mile (2,000 meters) in diameter and a few hundred yards tall.

They formed along the Gakkel Ridge, a lengthy crack in the ocean crust where two rocky plates are spreading apart, pulling new melted rock to the surface.

Until now, scientists thought undersea volcanoes only dribbled lava from cracks in the seafloor. The extreme pressure from the overlying water makes it difficult for gas and magma to blast outward.

But the Gakkel Ridge, which is relatively unexplored and considered unique for its slow spreading rate, is just the place for surprises.

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Robert Reeves-Sohn of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts and his colleagues discovered jagged, glassy fragments of rock scattered around the volcanoes, suggesting explosive eruptions occurred between 1999 and 2001.

They hypothesize that the slow spreading could allow excess gas to build up in pockets of magma beneath the oceanic crust. When the gas pressure gets high enough, it pops like a champagne bottle being uncorked.

With news this week that polar ice is melting dramatically, underwater Arctic pyrotechnics might seem like a logical smoking gun.

Scientists don't see any significant connection, however.

"We don't believe the volcanoes had much effect on the overlying ice," Reeves-Sohn told LiveScience, "but they seem to have had a major impact on the overlying water column."
The eruptions discharge large amounts of carbon dioxide, helium, trace metals and heat into the water over long distances, he said.

The research, detailed in the June 26 issue of the journal Nature, was funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation and WHOI.

Copyright © 2008 Imaginova Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Global Warming as Mass Neurosis

Wall Street Journal

GLOBAL VIEW

By BRET STEPHENS

July 1, 2008

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the mass hysteria phenomenon known as global warming. Much of the science has since been discredited. Now it's time for political scientists, theologians and psychiatrists to weigh in.

What, discredited? Thousands of scientists insist otherwise, none more noisily than NASA's Jim Hansen, who first banged the gong with his June 23, 1988, congressional testimony (delivered with all the modesty of "99% confidence").

The New True Believers

But mother nature has opinions of her own. NASA now begrudgingly confirms that the hottest year on record in the continental 48 was not 1998, as previously believed, but 1934, and that six of the 10 hottest years since 1880 antedate 1954. Data from 3,000 scientific robots in the world's oceans show there has been slight cooling in the past five years, never mind that "80% to 90% of global warming involves heating up ocean waters," according to a report by NPR's Richard Harris.

The Arctic ice cap may be thinning, but the extent of Antarctic sea ice has been expanding for years. At least as of February, last winter was the Northern Hemisphere's coldest in decades. In May, German climate modelers reported in the journal Nature that global warming is due for a decade-long vacation. But be not not-afraid, added the modelers: The inexorable march to apocalypse resumes in 2020.

This last item is, of course, a forecast, not an empirical observation. But it raises a useful question: If even slight global cooling remains evidence of global warming, what isn't evidence of global warming? What we have here is a nonfalsifiable hypothesis, logically indistinguishable from claims for the existence of God. This doesn't mean God doesn't exist, or that global warming isn't happening. It does mean it isn't science.

So let's stop fussing about the interpretation of ice core samples from the South Pole and temperature readings in the troposphere. The real place where discussions of global warming belong is in the realm of belief, and particularly the motives for belief. I see three mutually compatible explanations.

The first is as a vehicle of ideological convenience. Socialism may have failed as an economic theory, but global warming alarmism, with its dire warnings about the consequences of industry and consumerism, is equally a rebuke to capitalism. Take just about any other discredited leftist nostrum of yore – population control, higher taxes, a vast new regulatory regime, global economic redistribution, an enhanced role for the United Nations – and global warming provides a justification. One wonders what the left would make of a scientific "consensus" warning that some looming environmental crisis could only be averted if every college-educated woman bore six children: Thumbs to "patriarchal" science; curtains to the species.

A second explanation is theological. Surely it is no accident that the principal catastrophe predicted by global warming alarmists is diluvian in nature. Surely it is not a coincidence that modern-day environmentalists are awfully biblical in their critique of the depredations of modern society: "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." That's Genesis, but it sounds like Jim Hansen.

And surely it is in keeping with this essentially religious outlook that the "solutions" chiefly offered to global warming involve radical changes to personal behavior, all of them with an ascetic, virtue-centric bent: drive less, buy less, walk lightly upon the earth and so on. A light carbon footprint has become the 21st-century equivalent of sexual abstinence.

Finally, there is a psychological explanation. Listen carefully to the global warming alarmists, and the main theme that emerges is that what the developed world needs is a large dose of penance. What's remarkable is the extent to which penance sells among a mostly secular audience. What is there to be penitent about?

As it turns out, a lot, at least if you're inclined to believe that our successes are undeserved and that prosperity is morally suspect. In this view, global warming is nature's great comeuppance, affirming as nothing else our guilty conscience for our worldly success.

In "The Varieties of Religious Experience," William James distinguishes between healthy, life-affirming religion and the monastically inclined, "morbid-minded" religion of the sick-souled. Global warming is sick-souled religion.

My Rant

The claim that climate change is direct result of man's energy consumption is simply unproven and politically motivated. While they propound lies that certain lightbulbs or cars will destroy the earth and raise ocean levels as much as 20 feet within the next century, fascists, like Al Gore, fly around in their Gulfstream jets and live in homes that use 22 times the energy of an average American's home! Their propaganda is outrageous and potentially catastrophic for the economies of United States, the developed world and developing world.

The proof of global warming or man's influence on climate change is not settled science. Just consider the source of the big lie: the proselytizing hypocritical high priest of the pagan environmental religion Al Gore or the other Kool-Aid drinking climateers from the left such as Learjet liberals, Hollywood high school drop-outs, billonaire elitists, the left-leaning mainstream media, the United Nations, academia, environmental radicals, socialists, other anti-capitalists and so called "researchers", "experts" and/or "scientists" whose paychecks depend upon the apparent existence of the "issue".

United States energy conservation and independence is a worthy goal that should be supported by Republicans, the Democrat Party, true Democrats, Independents and environmentalists. Energy independence is a major national security concern. However, lying to our people, implementing the cap & trade boondoggle which will crush our economy or doing anything that will cause the United States to transfer an portion of its sovereignty to the United Nations is idiotic. Not in my name!