Political Climate
May 16, 2007
Climate messages are ‘off target’

By Pallab Ghosh , BBC Science Correspondent

Alarmist messages about global warming are counter-productive, the head of a leading climate research centre says. Professor Mike Hulme, of the UK’s Tyndall Centre, has been conducting research on people’s attitudes to media portrayals of a catastrophic future.

“There has been over-claiming or exaggeration, or at the very least casual use of language by scientists, some of whom are quite prominent,” Professor Hulme told BBC News. His concern is that these exaggerations have given the green light to the media to use the language of fear, terror and disaster when covering scientific reports - even when those reports are much more constrained in their description of the course of likely future events. He says extravagated claims simply generate a feeling of helplessness in the public. Reports of catastrophe and the “Hollywoodisation” of weather and climate were creating confusion in the public’s mind.  See full story here

May 15, 2007
Facts vs Ideas in the World of Energy

By Michael J. Economides, Professor, Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston

Few issues in modern history have generated more ideology-driven misinformation than energy. While most would agree that energy is crucial to the world economy, very little public discourse seems based on the intractability of certain facts. The problem: the huge gap between the theoretical and the practical, the latter affected by logistical and economic considerations. For certain people, the achievement of their desired course of action, based on their preferred world-view, is often confronted with abysmally small odds. It should not be acceptable for governments and non-governmental groups to avoid disclosing the required path and costs for achieving their goals. Many imply that the government and/or taxes should provide the funds, but even then the magnitude of such costs is rarely revealed.

Much of the rhetoric involves issues such as conservation, the environment, and “energy independence.” Exacerbating the situation is the recent clamor about anthropogenic global warming, and the expressed desire to either reduce carbon dioxide emissions (by using non-fossil fuels) or to sequester them.

The sequestration (into drilled wells) of carbon dioxide is even more problematic.  If the sequestered carbon dioxide is injected at what is considered a very good rate per well, 10,000 tons per year (a figure from a 2004 report by the National Energy Technology Laboratory), then that would require 1.8 million new wells. That’s about the same number of wells now in production worldwide. At an average drilling cost of $2 million per well, those new wells will cost $3.6 trillion. The ancillary infrastructure for those wells could push the cost to $7.2 trillion – about 60 times the current annual budget for well construction in the industry, estimated at $120 billion. See full story here

May 14, 2007
Who Are the Merchants of Fear? - An Attack from the Left on ‘Greenhouse Fearmongers’

By Alexander Cockburn, The Nation

No response is more predictable than the reflexive squawk of the greenhouse fearmongers that anyone questioning their claims is in the pay of the energy companies.  Actually, the energy companies have long since adapted to prevailing fantasies, dutifully reciting the whole catechism about carbon neutrality, repositioning themselves as eager pioneers in the search for alternative fuels, settling comfortably into new homes, such as British Petroleum’s Energy Biosciences Institute at UC, Berkeley (or Exxon Mobil’s huge investment into Stanford University).

Man-made-global-warming theory is fed by pseudo-quantitative predictions from climate careerists working primarily off the megacomputer General Circulation Models, whose home ports include the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Department of Commerce’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab.

These are multibillion-dollar computer modeling bureaucracies as intent on self-preservation and budgetary enhancement as cognate nuclear bureaucracies at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos. They are as unlikely to develop models refuting the hypothesis of human-induced global warming as is the IPCC to say the weather is getting a little bit warmer but there’s no great cause for alarm. Threat inflation is their business.

The world’s best-known hysteric and self-promoter on the topic of man’s physical and moral responsibility for global warming is Al Gore, a shill for the nuclear and coal barons from the first day he stepped into Congress entrusted with the sacred duty to protect the budgetary and regulatory interests of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Oak Ridge National Lab. White House advisory bodies on climate change in the Clinton/Gore years were well freighted with nukers like Larry Papay of Bechtel. As a denizen of Washington since his diaper years, Gore has always understood that threat inflation is the surest tool to plump budgets and rouse voters. By the mid-’90s he’d positioned himself at the head of a strategic alliance formed around “the challenge of climate change,” which stepped forward to take Communism’s place in the threatosphere essential to political life.  See full story here

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