Center for Global Food Issues http://www.cgfi.org Growing More Per Acre Leaves More Land for Nature Wed, 09 Jul 2014 01:00:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 SCIENCE RECOMMENDS CLIMATE MODEL RE-START, BY DENNIS. T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2014/07/science-recommends-climate-model-re-start-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2014/07/science-recommends-climate-model-re-start-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 01:00:26 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1747 Continue reading ]]> An article in the June 13, 2014 issue of Science admits the computer climate models are not effective at forecasting either future or past temperatures.. The Science piece says the current models are “bloated with data,” but still cannot represent such huge variables as clouds and shifts in ocean currents. Statisticians are recommending a re-start.

At the same time, new studies are revealing that the sun has an even bigger role in climate than the current climate models understand.

One of the new papers finds that the amount of time the sun is obscured from the earth by clouds is “highly correlated” with temperatures over the past 50 years. That was true both in the global dimming of the 1960’s and 70’s and during the brightening of the 1990s and 2000s. The authors studied 10 climate variables over that period. (Spinoni et al., “Climate of the Carpathian Region in the period 1961–2010,” International Journal of Climatology online.)

The Spinoni team also found a decreasing trend in relative humidity over the past 50 years, which is contrary to the current models’ assumptions. That supports the theory that the greenhouse gas impacts are becoming increasingly saturated and thus less frightening.

Another recent paper in the Journal of Solar and Terrestial Physics predicts global temperatures will fall by up to 1 degree C by 2020 due to low solar activity. Solheim et al. note that long solar cycles (like the one we’re currently in) predict more solar dimming. (Solheim et al., “The long sunspot cycle 23 predicts a significant temperature decrease in cycle 24,” Journal of Solar and Terrestrial Physics 80, 2012)

I align these new studies with my favorite temperature predictor—the Pacific salmon. I watch the roughly 60-year cycle in Columbia River salmon catches. Nathan Mantua of the University of Washington told us in 1996 that this salmon cycle represents a huge shift in Pacific Ocean currents. This shift is now recognized as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The PDO is a far better medium-term predictor of future temperatures than those billion-dollar climate models.

As an environmental economist, I got into the PDO early because eco-worriers were blaming the decline in Colombia River salmon on pollution and deforestation. Turns out the salmon were thriving in the Gulf of Alaska while the Columbia salmon are fading; then, the Gulf and river simultaneously reverse their salmon numbers.

What does it all mean? The earth is currently in one of its cyclical global warmings, directly following the Little Ice Age. In the recent past, such warmings have lasted from 350 years (the Medieval Warming) to 800 years (The Roman Warming). Even during this global warming, however, the temperature of the Pacific will cool periodically. The earth will then also cool as the Pacific is the world’s largest heat sink. NASA satellites reported that PDO began to shift cool about 2003, which would mean that cooling will probably last until roughly 2033.

The cloud cover and ocean currents are both tied to the sun’s level of activity and the big variable in solar activity seems to be ultraviolet light.

This information will mean nothing to the members of my Rotary Club. Many of them believe fervently in man-made warming. The believers are nervous about the “pause,” but are not willing to listen to discussions of the Pacific cycle. The other half of the membership doubts just as fervently, but neither side wants to discuss solar physics.
The only thing that has changed is that Science has finally admitted the models don’t forecast. In cycles, what goes around comes around.

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A WORLD TURNING AGAINST BIOFUELS, BY: DENNIS T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2014/05/a-world-turning-against-biofuels-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2014/05/a-world-turning-against-biofuels-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Sat, 31 May 2014 19:19:35 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1744 Continue reading ]]> The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has suddenly reversed its support for biofuels. The panel now admits growing crops for fuel “poses risks to ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Scientists—and many Green activists—turned against ethanol and biodiesel years ago because it took too much land. However, the United States and EU governments have kept their farmer subsidies. “Environmentalism” had suddenly become political payoff.

The key science for the turnaround was supplied in 2008 by Princeton’s Tim Searchinger in Science (“Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increased Greenhouse Gases Through Land Use Change,” Science313:1238–1240). The research revealed that plowing up more grassland for renewable energy crops frees massive amounts of soil carbon to gas off into the air. When rainforests are cut in Brazil to grow sugar for ethanol or in Indonesia where peat-lands are drained to grow palm oil for EU biodiesel, the gas-off of soil carbon is far greater. That means tripling our food costs and paying higher costs for auto fuel has achieved no real reduction in greenhouse emission.

I warned them. My 2006 report on President George W. Bush’s higher ethanol mandate was titled Biofuels, Food or Wildlife? The Massive Land Costs of U.S. Ethanol. I warned that the United States might lose another 50 million acres of wildlife habitat.

The USDA, where Secretary Vilsack ardently supports ethanol, gives no report on land conversion despite its voluminous databases. The Environmental Working Group, which opposes ethanol, says it used modern mapping and geospatial technologies to measure converted parcels larger than 10 acres. They found 23.6 million acres of grassland, wetland, and shrubland converted to corn just between 2008 and 2011. Nor does that include the land growing soybeans for U.S. biodiesel, now above 10 million acres per year. Meantime, higher corn and soy prices give increasing incentive to clear woodlots, tear out fencerows and fill or drain wet spots–on tens of thousands of farms across the eastern half of the U.S.

“It is neither moral nor constructive to shift major amounts of the world’s food supply to fuel production when significant elements of the world’s people remain ill fed,” I wrote then. “It is neither moral nor constructive to needlessly destroy broad tracts of wildlands for fuel crops when alternative energy sources such as nuclear power are not being used. It is a dreadful breach of human ethics to adopt a policy that creates both of these harms at the same time.”

The dream was that cellulosic ethanol, made from crop wastes and wood scraps, would forestall the expansion of cropland for ethanol. Cellulosic has never yet worked. Instead, shale gas fracking has dramatically shifted global oil and gas production, without subsidies and with a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Fracking, however, merely highlighted the basic foolishness of ethanol in a world that has no more prime farmland. We will need twice as much food for the peak high-income human population within the next 40 years. Equally true, we hate losing wildlands to achieve this.

Thus crop yields on the world’s current farmland must be redoubled yet again even without biofuels.

In 2011 alone, more than 200 scientists wrote to the European Commission, condemning the EU biofuels mandate. Meanwhile, ethanol looked like another apparently permanent drain on a U.S. national treasury already $17 trillion in the red. This to “support” well-to-do corn farmers who have only a few votes, even as the many thousands of dairy, livestock, and poultry farmers were being  harmed even more severely by ethanol than  consumers.

Now, even Democrats on Capitol Hill are turning against ethanol. Staunch California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and a group of like-minded Senators recently introduced a bill to eliminate the corn ethanol mandate.

Environmental groups have even sought my help in getting rid of the mandate, indicating near-desperation to eliminate their own costly Green mistake.

 

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FDA: NO LOW-DOSE CHEMICAL DANGERS, BY: DENNIS T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2014/05/fda-no-low-dose-chemical-dangers-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2014/05/fda-no-low-dose-chemical-dangers-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 23:12:43 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1739 Continue reading ]]> The Food and Drug Administration has just loudly re-endorsed perhaps the oldest truth in science—that the dose makes the poison. Paracelsus, the father of toxicology, told us 500 years ago, “All substances are poison. There is none which is not a poison. The right dose makes the difference between a poison and a remedy.”

 Even sunlight and water are poisons at high doses.

 The FDA has just commented on a new study which found no health impact from low doses of bisphenol-A. BPA is a plasticizer often found at low doses in things like foods, children’s milk bottles, and toys. Activists responded by sending out waves of demands to parents that this useful chemical be banned from the shelves.

The FDA said, “The study reported no effects of BPA at any dose except at the very highest levels, and is consistent with the FDA’s current position that BPA is safe at the very low amounts that occur in some foods.” Moreover, the FDA says BPA’s “low dose” safety range is huge: from 2.5 to 2700 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day!

There’s NO case on record where low doses of a toxic substance are more dangerous than high doses. That is important in a human world where thousands of different chemicals play parts in our food, water, medicines, and technologies. The activists, however, like making us fearful of chemicals—apparently with the goal of undermining our faith in the capitalist system that keeps finding new uses for chemicals.

Take obesity. Activists have attacked aspartame and other non-caloric sweeteners in the midst of a First World obesity epidemic. Sugar substitutes should therefore be a no-brainer. We struggle with obesity because we no longer do hard physical work, we eat big meals and high-calorie snacks, and we spend long hours watching TV and texting. The nay-sayers, however, don’t want a cheap, acceptable substitute for the 16-ounce Coke. Ergo, they attack aspartame as “dangerous.”  And, good people believe them. Just last week, a conscientious young mother warned my Rotary meeting about the potential evils of aspartame.

Farm chemicals  have also been accused in the “low dose” campaigns. Atrazine, our most widely used farm chemical, turns up during the spring flush in the drinking water of some Midwest cities. This makes it a target for activists and even the EPA itself, which would like credit for another regulatory scalp. However, a person would have to drink thousands of gallons of “contaminated” water per day to exceed the EPA’s own safety level.

Recently,  the New Yorker  lauded a Berkeley biologist, Lester Hayes, for claiming that low doses of atrazine cause sexual changes in frogs even though high doses have shown no impact. The real joker in the deck: Hayes has never revealed his testing regime, and no other researcher has been able to duplicate the low-dose impacts.

 This is the opposite of science.

 Europe has adopted the Precautionary Principle that says nothing should be allowed unless it has been proven never to cause harm to anyone or anything, ever. They will severely hamper their lifestyles if they proceed down this road. I take rat poison every day to prevent a recurrence of a small stroke I suffered five years ago. My warfarin, originally developed to make rats bleed to death internally, is now used in low doses to help millions of humans lead longer, healthier lives. The pills cost less than a penny a day.

 Another common example: Poisonous iodine, first added to our salt in 1924 to prevent goiter, has all but eliminated the condition that was prevalent across wide areas of the U.S. Almost a hundred years later, the fear of goiter never  crosses our mind as we daily add a bit of salt and health to our food.

 The truth remains: The right dose makes the difference between a poison and a remedy.

 

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‘Little Ice Ages’ Caused Suffering in Spain—as They Always Do, By: Dennis T. Avery http://www.cgfi.org/2013/12/little-ice-ages-caused-suffering-in-spain-as-they-always-do-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2013/12/little-ice-ages-caused-suffering-in-spain-as-they-always-do-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 23:49:45 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1735 Continue reading ]]> I recently toured Portugal and Spain, where the clashes between civilizations and “little ice ages” were especially violent. The effects of climate change on the Iberian Peninsula over the centuries vividly demonstrate why we should not fear global warming: The effects of any plausible warming scenario for the coming decades will only be positive and contribute to human flourishing. They always do.

Iberia’s first towns and cities emerged during the long Bronze Age Warming that began around 3300 BC. The Bronze Age was spurred by the discovery of the new metal, which mixed tin with copper to produce superior axes, plowshares, and other edged tools. Calm seas allowed traders to bring the tin from such sources as Cornwall and northern Turkey.

The first large towns and port cities were created then, for the metalworkers and the traders who brought the tin. Then the bronze-forges became targets for marauders, so the urban centers were fortified.

After 1200 BC, the Bronze Age Warming ended and a thousand-year Iron Age Cooling began. It brought short, cloudy, summers, prolonged drought, heavy floods, and failed crops. The towns were abandoned, and the seas became too stormy for the tin merchants to travel. Iberia’s survivors moved back to scattered farms, mostly in the few places where there were still reliable sources of water.

Around 200 BC, the climate changed again, into the long Roman Warming. The Romans were poised with the engineering and energy to create humanity’s first big empire. They welded what today are more than 30 different countries into a trading bloc that stretched from Britain and Germany in the north to Morocco andEgypt in the south, and east to Hungary, Constantinople, and Turkey.

For the next 800 years, Iberia was best known as a Roman province whose grain exports helped feed the Empire. Spain’s gravity-fed irrigation was organized by the Romans. But then, around 600 AD, the long Roman Warming ended and the awful cold of the Dark Ages began. Prolonged drought struck both Spainand North Africa. Rome’s population fell from more than a million people to just 20,000 in a century. The bubonic plague may have been almost as bad as the famines, killing millions of the former Roman Empire’s population.

That was when the Muslim religion sprang up out of the desert and quickly spread among the weakened and despondent cultures around the Mediterranean. Spain was invaded in 711 AD by an Arab prince whose troops reached across both Spain and Portugal and even into southern France. The Muslim Moors ruled much of Iberia for the next thousand years.

Spain suffered less than most of Europe during the climate chaos of the Dark Ages. For one thing, Romewas no longer carrying most of its grain away to feed the Empire. The Muslims also brought a new irrigation technique—the water wheel, which allowed water to be raised instead of always running downhill. The new irrigation system coupled with new crops brought by the Moors—-including rice, oranges, figs, and sugar cane—produced relative abundance. Even so, the region didn’t really prosper until the Medieval Warming’s stable climate tripled Europe’s food production and wealth.

There was constant combat across Iberia over these years, and it was not primarily religious in motivation. During much of the period, Christians, Muslims, and Jews fought with and for each other, depending on fragile alliances. After the Dark Ages ended, about 950 AD, there was food for all—and the Moorish culture of Cordoba and Seville produced a surge of learning, the rescue of ancient knowledge, and the Moors’ fabulous architecture.

The darkest chapter for Iberia occurred during the Little Ice Age, after 1300 AD. Crops again failed repeatedly, people burned “witches” who had supposedly cursed their farms, and the Spanish Inquisition arose to persecute “heretics,” many of them Jews or Muslims who had publicly converted to Christianity. The bubonic plague spread and became known as the Black Death. Ultimately, Christian armies finally conquered Cordoba and the last of the Moors in 1614.

Fortunately, we’ve had no “little ice age” since 1850. Inevitably, however, another one will test our mettle sometime during the coming centuries. We should be happy to be living in a period of relative warmth, and we should not fear the continuation and mild increase of that warmth.

 

 

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OBAMA AND U.S. ECONOMIC SUICIDE, BY: DENNIS T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2013/11/obama-and-u-s-economic-suicide-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2013/11/obama-and-u-s-economic-suicide-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 23:09:56 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1732 Continue reading ]]> President Obama is demanding, by Executive Order, what congress will not give him by vote. With winter approaching and the “Obamacare” mess hanging over his shoulder, he is now ordering the U.S. economy to hitch itself to more and more of the costly and erratic “renewable” energy sources. These have already bankrupted Spain and are about to bankrupt Great Britain and Germany.

Spain, Britain, and Germany are already years further down the road to the “renewable” blackouts President Obama now demands for America. Spain is already broke, and Britain is heading for mass energy poverty for its people. German industries meanwhile threaten to flee their country in favor of markets where they can get electricity that competes with coal in China and India.

In Britain, the government’s Energy Act demands the nation produce 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, up from the current government share of 12 percent. The target for 2050 is a whopping 80 percent! The high cost of building nuclear reactors has ruled out that option; the EU is demanding that coal be phased ou. Britain has big shale gas deposits, but the country has not approved fracking for the gas.

The only new power source the UK has left itself is thousands of huge, barge-mounted wind turbines in the turbulent North Sea! These sea-going windmills cost more to build and vastly more to maintain than land-based turbines—and could quadruple England’s future electric bills. British chemical plants are already starting to shut down, even as London newspapers predict fuel poverty (spending more than 10 percent of income for heat) for nearly half the population.

Germany’s Angela Merkel impulsively announced the end of German nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima tidal wave. Now Germany is burning more coal than ever, despite a national goal of getting 80 percent of its energy from renewable fuels, cutting greenhouse emissions by 80 percent and slashing electric usage by 25 percent.

Even without the hoped-for reduction in human CO2 emissions, the world has gotten no warmer since 1998, and today’s temperatures are little different from those of a century ago. The President nevertheless still believes what Greenpeace told him back when he was a community organizer—COis the all-time threat to the planet.

Meanwhile, China demands that rich nations kick in $100 billion per year for energy subsidies in the poor countries that are not warming. India blames the industrial countries for the global non-warming and demands they “solve” it.

Even the International Panel on Climate Change is now admitting that the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age were global climate shifts, not unlike the Modern Warming. More and more evidence points to a long, natural solar cycle that we are still struggling to understand. The Antarctic ice expanded between 1979 and 2012 on both land and sea, and never mind the warming predicted for both poles. Even the Arctic has cooled sharply in the past few years, after a 30-year warming. This supports the Russian claim of a 70-year Arctic warming/cooling cycle. Worldwide, sea levels are rising no faster and droughts have not increased.

Most interesting of all, the IPCC says in its new report that the reduced trend in the earth’s warming has been due to “volcanic eruptions.” It is true that volcanic eruptions can darken the sky and reduce the solar heat that reaches the earth. Moreover, at the same time they add to the CO2 concentration in the air.

You ask which major volcanoes erupted during the 1998–2012 period? The reality is none. Meanwhile, the modest eruption of an Icelandic volcano in 2010 released more COthan was prevented by all of the ultra-costly human efforts to limit COemissions.

With no recent warming, what new evidence do we have about CO2 being the world’s big problem? Again, the answer seems to be “none.” President Obama is leading us like lemmings into the same suicidal behavior that is destroying Europe’s prosperity—with no apparent impact on the COin the earth’s atmosphere. Why the economic suicide, Mr. President?

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NO WAY TO RUN A COUNTRY, BY DENNIS T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2013/10/no-way-to-run-a-country-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2013/10/no-way-to-run-a-country-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Wed, 16 Oct 2013 22:36:42 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1727 Continue reading ]]> We can’t predict how the government shutdown will be resolved in the short term, let alone the more permanent long run effect. Things are so bad that The Economist magazine has a sketch of George Washington’s Mt. Rushmorehead, scowling at the brawling political parties.  The Economist claims to offer “Global intelligence for excellent thinkers.” It says the Republicans should retreat so the liberals can deal with the unfortunate “polarization” of American politics.

Has The Economist’s advice worked in the past? It ardently recommended exactly the “soft socialism” that piled up the current huge debt burdens in the EU, the national health care the EU cannot support without “death panels,” and an unsupportable population of EU non-taxpayers. Think Greece, Italy, Spain, etc.

Worse, The Economist has also led the decades-long “global” campaign for theKyoto treaty. They claim the planet needs the “insurance policy.” Never mind that the premiums on the “insurance” would beggar society without making a significant difference in the atmospheric CO2.

The Economist helped push Britain into the “greenest” carbon policies in the known world. Now, even though the global temperatures haven’t risen for more than 15 years they have created their very own energy crisis. Their North Sea gas is running out. Britain has plenty of coal, but the EU is shuttering the UK’s big coal-fired plants for emitting too much CO2. Its nuclear plants are due for decommissioning. Blackouts loom.

There is only one “acceptable” new energy source. Three thousand wind turbines scarring its finest landscapes. Britain promises to build thousands of still-more-expensive turbine barges offshore. However, no fossil power plant has been decommissioned because the renewables are so erratic. They must be 90 percent backed by fossil plants running in “spinning reserve” or the lights go out.

Many Britons must choose now between heating and eating. Electric bills have doubled in a decade, with another doubling guaranteed by the wind subsidies. This winter, the British Red Cross is planning to hand out food to the poor—for the first time since the end of World War II.

Germany’s industries are paying three times as much for their electricity as U.S.companies—mainly because of the natural gas fracked on private land that Obama had no  power to stop. German and British companies are already earmarking billions for U. S expansion.

The head of Britain’s Labor Party helped inflict the “green”policies,” and now says he’d “freeze” British electric bills.  Price controls have failed for 4000 years, but he is leading in the polls. Investors have lost billions because the renewables cost more than the subsidies, and they are unwilling finance additional power.

The Economist says it is sorry about the lost energy, the lost jobs, and the about-to-be lost British industries. However, it is still as worried as Barack Obama and his deluded Environment Protection agency about energy being “too cheap.”

In the U.S. struggle, urgently concerned conservatives are trying to try to rein in the debt binge before it takes us back to wheelbarrows full of 1930s German marks needed to buy a loaf of bread. The Economist does not deserve what little reputation it still has.

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DOES GLOBAL WARMING SCIENCE MATTER? BY: DENNIS T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2013/10/does-global-warming-science-matter-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2013/10/does-global-warming-science-matter-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Sat, 12 Oct 2013 14:14:49 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1724 Continue reading ]]> The European Union’s top climate official says the EU is pursuing the right renewable energy policies—even if the scientists are wrong about the cause of global warming! Why?

Connie Hedegaard, the EU Climate Minister, recently told the London Telegraph, “Say that 30 years from now, science came back and says, ‘Wow, we were mistaken then, now we have some new information so we think it is something else.’ In a world with nine billion people, even 10 billion at the middle of this century, where literally billions of global citizens will still have to get out of poverty and enter the consuming middle classes, don’t you think that anyway it makes a lot of sense to get more energy and resource efficient?”

So, the EU Climate Minister saying it doesn’t matter whether the global warming science is wrong. She seems to think that higher-costing energy will help raise people out of poverty. oHow How does that make sense?

The Greens’ precious campaign for renewables is now clearly reducing both energy efficiency and energy availability for everyone. True, the sun and the wind are free. However, it takes massive investments in solar panels and wind turbines to harness them. Moreover, both solar and wind power are so erratic that no fossil fuel plant has been shut down!

Europe has found it needs to keep fossil and nuclear plants equal to 90 percent of its “renewable” power capacity—in spinning reserve and burning fuel. Otherwise, factories may have to shut down and stop lights will quit working, not to mention hospital operating rooms. The public thus must build and maintain two power systems, both using up energy but with the “renewable” set far more costly.

Meanwhile, population growth is already solving itself, and much more rapidly than the UN admits. The Deutsch bank says human numbers will stabilize and start shrinking in the near future—peaking at 8.7 about 2055, and falling to 8 billion by 2100. In contrast, the UN recently raised its projected population growth; it now expects 10.9 billion people in 2100, 2.9 billion more than the Deutschbank. The difference between the two estimates equals the planet’s whole population as recently as 1959!

Why does the bank foresee population decline? They can see that people are moving from peasant farms to urban jobs. Kids once earned their keep by weeding fields and herding goats. In the cities, they are an expensive ego investment. Meanwhile, their parents will increasingly earn retirement benefits instead of moving in with their adult children.

As a 20-year veteran of the environmentalists’ war against high-yield farming, I have become suspicious of “progressive” motives. The food yields from organic fields are only about half as high as those from high-yield farming. The first impact of an organic-only world would be massive famine. The second impact, says Rockefeller University, would be hungry people seeking more food by plowing down wildlife habitat equal to twice the land area of South America! Yet the very people who claim to be treasuring the wildlife and “defending” the poorest humans keep demanding organic-only farming.

Now it’s energy crunch time. The “greenest” nations, all over Europe, are now trying desperately to renege on their expensive “renewable energy” commitments. Nevertheless, they must backtrack without alienating the same voters they had earlier convinced to “save the planet” with recycling, biofuels, etc. One misstep will see them thrown from office.

I don’t envy them the task—but I remember a British politician a decade ago marveling about the governmental impact of the global warming fear: “My constituents are actually demanding that I raise their taxes!

Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care much about our puny energy production—but to the humans who must live here, the real science behind global warming matters a very great deal.

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ARCTIC GRABS GULLIBLE SAILORS, BY: DENNIS T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2013/09/arctic-grabs-gullible-sailors-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2013/09/arctic-grabs-gullible-sailors-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2013 03:21:57 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1720 Continue reading ]]> The naïve advice of ardent activists can kill. Last spring, Paul Beckwith of Sierra Club Canada predicted that the Arctic seas would be ice-free ice this summer. (So did Britain’s BBC network) This exciting adventure opportunity attracted a variety of yachts, sailboats, rowboats, and kayaks owners to try sailing the fabled Northwest Passage.

As a former sailboat owner I can understand their excitement, but my heart aches for the agonies they now face. The Arctic sea ice suddenly expanded 60 percent this fall, after the coldest summer in the modern Alaska temperature record. The passage is now impassable. More than a dozen of the boats are trapped, apparently even including a group of tiny American jet-ski “personal watercraft” that were attempting to cross from the east coast of Russia to the North Atlantic.  Arctic observers are now warning that even Canadian icebreakers might not be able to rescue them.

The Northwest Passage blog reminds us that fall super storms are a potentially deadly fact in Alaska. “It is only a matter time. . . . Give Mother Nature her due time and she will move billions of tons of sea ice and push it up against the Alaska Arctic coast—effectively closing the door to exit the Arctic ice from western Canada. . . . No icebreakers are going to be able to offer any assistance. Mother nature is mightier than all the icebreakers put together.”  Note that the Atlantic exit is already problematic.

Helicopter rescues on Arctic ice are incredibly expensive, involving hundreds of miles of flying by copters and crews expensively maintained in that icy and sparsely populated region. Additionally, all the lovely boats become write-offs.

The boaters ignored major warning signs. The planet has not warmed appreciably in at least 15 years. NASA told us in 2007 that thePacific Ocean had shifted into the cool phase of its 60-year cycle and that fact predicted cooler winters until 2030.

Most concerning of all is that the costs of an Arctic sailing mistake are horrendous. Wonderfully preserved hulks of sunken explorers’ ships litter the sea-bottom around the Northwest Passage. Some of the vessels that survived the ice were trapped for as long as three winters. At least one sailboat recently froze into the ice near Svalbard. The captain and his boat were buried under the heavy snow, 100 miles from human habitation. (He actually survived to write a book.)

The risks run by the Arctic boaters are obvious. Modern society is running less obvious risks based on the same sort of naïve advice coming from the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a host of like-minded “saviors of the planet.” What about the poor and elderly Britons and Germans who have frozen to death in their homes because they couldn’t afford the higher costs of gas and electricity imposed by “renewable fuels”?

What about the millions of Third World mothers and children who die of lung diseases every year as it is politically incorrect to give them access to tiny amounts of kerosene for heating and cooking. The alternative is burning dung and charcoal in indoor, poorly ventilated fires.

Closer to home, what about the millions of young Americans who can’t get jobs in an economy stalled by overpriced “green” energy and investor uncertainty over the War on Coal?  Inevitably, being gullible carries a price tag. We are just beginning to realize how expensive the naïveté of the environmental movement has become.

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A GLOBAL FORCE FOR GOOD, BY: DENNIS T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2013/09/a-global-force-for-good-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2013/09/a-global-force-for-good-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2013 22:40:04 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1716 Continue reading ]]> The U.S. Navy says it is a global force for good. President Obama doesn’t seem so sure. However, the freedom of the seas that encourage trade and prosperity has only happened when some strong military force has protected safety on the high seas. That always has meant fighting off the bandits, pirates, and trade-blocking forces that would have made trade too expensive to supply people’s needs.

Trade requires freedom of the seas because ships are always the cost-effective way to move heavy stuff. In fact, the U.S. Navy’s first real triumph was suppressing the Barbary pirates who were seizing American ships and enslaving our sailors in the early 19th century.

Looking back into history, international trade started during the Bronze Age because the tin to make the bronze existed in only a few places. As ships sought the tin, they also carried other high-value trade items. The Bronze Age unfortunately collapsed in a stormy “little ice age” after 1200 BC. but the Roman Warming after 200 BC brought fine weather again. The Romans’ well-organized army and navy then welded 36 of today’s countries into a huge Eurasian trading bloc.

Historian Henry Moss says the Romans moved metals from Europe; hides and fleeces from Britain and Spain; wine and oil from southern France, timber from Russia and Turkey, marble from Greece and—most important—grain from the wheat-growing districts of North Africa, Egypt, and the Danube Valley.

Rome collapsed after AD 600 in the storms, floods and droughts of the Dark Ages. Famine spread, and pirates again swarmed the Mediterranean. Feudal barons taxed merchants every few miles along the roads.

Economic growth languished for another 600 years—until the again-fine weather of the Medieval Warming. Then economic growth found ships sailing from the Red Sea to  the South Seas. Genghis Khan was the unlikely patron of overland trade, selling oriental silks and spices to the wealthy of Europe. Then, the climate turned once more, bringing the intense cold and storms of the Little Ice Age

By 1750, the icy age’s coldest period had passed. England had acquired colonies worldwide. The British Navy moved center stage and opened world trade routes as never before in the history of the world. The Spanish and Portuguese had tried to monopolize world trade after Columbus and Magellan, but British ships had attacked the treasure galleons, planted colonies in North America, and extended global trade to all nations.

Soon, cotton was flowing from India to the British textile mills, and tea from China into Britain’s beloved teacups. Timber from the Baltic was moving south to Europe. Silks and spices still flowed, but so did grain, wine, olive oil and the low-cost staples that are the real treasures of trade. Slaves, too, moved as they always had—this time from Africa to the New World—until the British Navy also stopped the slave trade.

Britain maintained the freedom of seas, borders and trade until its economy collapsed after the First World War. That’s when the U.S. Navy stepped up to maintain the global Pax, and they continue to do so.

Huge container ships, trans-continental railroads, international airlines, and the ubiquitous trucks that crisscross every land support free trade in the modern world. Satellite and wireless communications weld us even more tightly together. The trade and communications have enabled literally billions of people to emerge from grinding poverty, even as the First World got richer.

The Somali pirates remind us that pirates and bandits can still cut our access to goods and services. North Korea’s closed borders remind us of the poverty and human degradation that goes with isolation. Let us all hope that the U.S. Navy continues to be a global force for the good in the coming centuries ahead. In fact, our technology should even let us trade in the next “little ice age.”

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GLOBAL WARMING: IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN, BY: DENNIS T. AVERY http://www.cgfi.org/2013/07/global-warming-its-happening-again-by-dennis-t-avery/ http://www.cgfi.org/2013/07/global-warming-its-happening-again-by-dennis-t-avery/#comments Sun, 28 Jul 2013 05:31:20 +0000 http://www.cgfi.org/?p=1712 Continue reading ]]> Senator Boxer recently held a hearing entitled, “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now.” To honor historic truth, the title “It’s Happening Again” would have suited better.

Heidi Cullen, formerly the alarmist voice at the Weather Channel, was one of Boxer’s key witnesses. In her testimony, Dr. Cullen said that “heavy downpours” have increased by 73 percent over recent decades due to global warming. The U.S. Geological Survey data show no such increase over the past 60 years, though there may have been some increase in rainfall variability. She once was too good a scientist to make a misstatement such as that.

In fact, her side has not been able to give her much alarmist ammunition beyond the never-verified and now-failing computer models. At one point, Senator Vitter (R-LA) asked the panel of experts “Can any witnesses say they agree with Obama’s statement that warming has accelerated during the past 10 years?” After a deafening silence, Dr. Cullen said our focus should be on longer time-periods, rather than the ten years mentioned by Obama. When pressed, however, she admitted that global warming has slowed, not accelerated.

Dr. Cullen knows about longer climate cycling. She is an expert on the long, natural 1,500-year climate cycle that gave us the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warming, and more than 600 previous warming/cooling cycles over the past 1 million years.

In fact, Dr. Cullen studied the sediments that accumulated downwind of Akkadia, in the Persian Gulf. She discovered that the first impact of a “little ice age” on the Akkadian Empire (in today’s Iraq) at 2200 BC was a 300-year drought! The drought caused mass starvation and abandoned towns; then for another 200 years, shepherds wandered the semi-arid wasteland. Eventually, a return of global warming brought back stable and favorable cropping conditions to Iraq, new immigrants recreated the irrigated farming that had supported the Akkadians, and the urbanization of human cultures resumed. (This has happened seven times in the last 6000 years.)

Her science career was looking good; but, she chose to become a TV star and author of a book entitled The Weather of the Future. The book, unfortunately, abandons everything she learned about the documented 1,500-year climate cycle. If Dr. Cullen had remained true to her scientific training and experience, she would have told us that the global climate is constantly cycling, but within natural parameters.

The Modern Warming has followed the long and intensely cold Little Ice Age. We cannot predict how long the Modern Warming will last, but it is virtually certain to last another 200–400 years, with a maximum temperature about the same as the highly beneficial Medieval and Roman Warmings. Then, inevitably, the warming will shift abruptly into another “little ice age,” or even into a full Ice Age. What will the successors of Dr. Cullen have us do then?

In the short term, the weather will obey the dictates of the Pacific Ocean, our biggest heat sink. The Pacific’s 60-year warm/cool cycle, superimposed on the 1,500-year cycle, currently predicts continued global cooling—until long after the current crop of politicians has retired or been defeated.

Dr. Cullen tried becoming famous with honest science, and hardly anyone noticed her. Now, her current celebrity is likely to fade with the declining temperatures.

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