Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Global Warming With the Lid Off

The emails that reveal an effort to hide the truth about climate science.
'The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone. . . . We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind."
So apparently wrote Phil Jones, director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) and one of the world's leading climate scientists, in a 2005 email to "Mike." Judging by the email thread, this refers to Michael Mann, director of the Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center. We found this nugget among the more than 3,000 emails and documents released last week after CRU's servers were hacked and messages among some of the world's most influential climatologists were published on the Internet.
The "two MMs" are almost certainly Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, two Canadians who have devoted years to seeking the raw data and codes used in climate graphs and models, then fact-checking the published conclusions—a painstaking task that strikes us as a public and scientific service. Mr. Jones did not return requests for comment and the university said it could not confirm that all the emails were authentic, though it acknowledged its servers were hacked.
Yet even a partial review of the emails is highly illuminating. In them, scientists appear to urge each other to present a "unified" view on the theory of man-made climate change while discussing the importance of the "common cause"; to advise each other on how to smooth over data so as not to compromise the favored hypothesis; to discuss ways to keep opposing views out of leading journals; and to give tips on how to "hide the decline" of temperature in certain inconvenient data.

Some of those mentioned in the emails have responded to our requests for comment by saying they must first chat with their lawyers. Others have offered legal threats and personal invective. Still others have said nothing at all. Those who have responded have insisted that the emails reveal nothing more than trivial data discrepancies and procedural debates.
Yet all of these nonresponses manage to underscore what may be the most revealing truth: That these scientists feel the public doesn't have a right to know the basis for their climate-change predictions, even as their governments prepare staggeringly expensive legislation in response to them.
Consider the following note that appears to have been sent by Mr. Jones to Mr. Mann in May 2008: "Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. . . . Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same?" AR4 is shorthand for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, presented in 2007 as the consensus view on how bad man-made climate change has supposedly become.
In another email that seems to have been sent in September 2007 to Eugene Wahl of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Paleoclimatology Program and to Caspar Ammann of the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Climate and Global Dynamics Division, Mr. Jones writes: "[T]ry and change the Received date! Don't give those skeptics something to amuse themselves with."
When deleting, doctoring or withholding information didn't work, Mr. Jones suggested an alternative in an August 2008 email to Gavin Schmidt of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, copied to Mr. Mann. "The FOI [Freedom of Information] line we're all using is this," he wrote. "IPCC is exempt from any countries FOI—the skeptics have been told this. Even though we . . . possibly hold relevant info the IPCC is not part of our remit (mission statement, aims etc) therefore we don't have an obligation to pass it on."
It also seems Mr. Mann and his friends weren't averse to blacklisting scientists who disputed some of their contentions, or journals that published their work. "I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal," goes one email, apparently written by Mr. Mann to several recipients in March 2003. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal."
Mr. Mann's main beef was that the journal had published several articles challenging aspects of the anthropogenic theory of global warming.
For the record, when we've asked Mr. Mann in the past about the charge that he and his colleagues suppress opposing views, he has said he "won't dignify that question with a response." Regarding our most recent queries about the hacked emails, he says he "did not manipulate any data in any conceivable way," but he otherwise refuses to answer specific questions. For the record, too, our purpose isn't to gainsay the probity of Mr. Mann's work, much less his right to remain silent.
However, we do now have hundreds of emails that give every appearance of testifying to concerted and coordinated efforts by leading climatologists to fit the data to their conclusions while attempting to silence and discredit their critics. In the department of inconvenient truths, this one surely deserves a closer look by the media, the U.S. Congress and other investigative bodies.

Global warming rigged? Here's the email I'd need to see

The leaked exchanges are disturbing, but it would take a conspiracy of a very different order to justify sceptics' claims

George Monbiot
guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 November 2009 21.00 GMT
It's no use pretending this isn't a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I'm dismayed and deeply shaken by them.
Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.
Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
But do these revelations justify the sceptics' claims that this is "the final nail in the coffin" of global warming theory? Not at all. They damage the credibility of three or four scientists. They raise questions about the integrity of one or perhaps two out of several hundred lines of evidence. To bury man-made climate change, a far wider conspiracy would have to be revealed. Luckily for the sceptics, and to my intense disappointment, I have now been passed the damning email that confirms that the entire science of global warming is indeed a scam. Had I known that it was this easy to rig the evidence, I wouldn't have wasted years of my life promoting a bogus discipline. In the interests of open discourse, I feel obliged to reproduce it here.
From: ernst.kattweizel@redcar.ac.uk
Sent: 29 October 2009
To: The Knights Carbonic
Gentlemen, the culmination of our great plan approaches fast. What the Master called "the ordering of men's affairs by a transcendent world state, ordained by God and answerable to no man", which we now know as Communist World Government, advances towards its climax at Copenhagen. For 185 years since the Master, known to the laity as Joseph Fourier, launched his scheme for world domination, the entire physical science community has been working towards this moment.
The early phases of the plan worked magnificently. First the Master's initial thesis – that the release of infrared radiation is delayed by the atmosphere – had to be accepted by the scientific establishment. I will not bother you with details of the gold paid, the threats made and the blood spilt to achieve this end. But the result was the elimination of the naysayers and the disgrace or incarceration of the Master's rivals. Within 35 years the 3rd Warden of the Grand Temple of the Knights Carbonic (our revered prophet John Tyndall) was able to "demonstrate" the Master's thesis. Our control of physical science was by then so tight that no major objections were sustained.
More resistance was encountered (and swiftly dispatched) when we sought to install the 6th Warden (Svante Arrhenius) first as professor of physics at Stockholm University, then as rector. From this position he was able to project the Master's second grand law – that the infrared radiation trapped in a planet's atmosphere increases in line with the quantity of carbon dioxide the atmosphere contains. He and his followers (led by the Junior Warden Max Planck) were then able to adapt the entire canon of physical and chemical science to sustain the second law.
Then began the most hazardous task of all: our attempt to control the instrumental record. Securing the consent of the scientific establishment was a simple matter. But thermometers had by then become widely available, and amateur meteorologists were making their own readings. We needed to show a steady rise as industrialisation proceeded, but some of these unfortunates had other ideas. The global co-option of police and coroners required unprecedented resources, but so far we have been able to cover our tracks.
The over-enthusiasm of certain of the Knights Carbonic in 1998 was most regrettable. The high reading in that year has proved impossibly costly to sustain. Those of our enemies who have yet to be silenced maintain that the lower temperatures after that date provide evidence of global cooling, even though we have ensured that eight of the 10 warmest years since 1850 have occurred since 2001. From now on we will engineer a smoother progression.
Our co-option of the physical world has been just as successful. The thinning of the Arctic ice cap was a masterstroke. The ring of secret nuclear power stations around the Arctic circle, attached to giant immersion heaters, remains undetected, as do the space-based lasers dissolving the world's glaciers.
Altering the migratory and reproductive patterns of the world's wildlife has proved more challenging. Though we have now asserted control over the world's biologists, there is no accounting for the unauthorised observations of farmers, gardeners, birdwatchers and other troublemakers. We have therefore been forced to drive migrating birds, fish and insects into higher latitudes, and to release several million tonnes of plant pheromones every year to accelerate flowering and fruiting. None of this is cheap, and ever more public money, secretly diverted from national accounts by compliant governments, is required to sustain it.
The co-operation of these governments requires unflagging effort. The capture of George W Bush, a late convert to the cause of Communist World Government, was made possible only by the threatened release of footage filmed by a knight at Yale, showing the future president engaged in coitus with a Ford Mustang. Most ostensibly capitalist governments remain apprised of where their real interests lie, though I note with disappointment that we have so far failed to eliminate Vaclav Klaus. Through the offices of compliant states, the Master's third grand law has been established: world government will be established under the guise of controlling man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.
Keeping the scientific community in line remains a challenge. The national academies are becoming ever more querulous and greedy, and require higher pay-offs each year. The inexplicable events of the past month, in which the windows of all the leading scientific institutions were broken and a horse's head turned up in James Hansen's bed, appear to have staved off the immediate crisis, but for how much longer can we maintain the consensus? Knights Carbonic, now that the hour of our triumph is at hand, I urge you all to redouble your efforts. In the name of the Master, go forth and terrify.
Professor Ernst Kattweizel, University of Redcar. 21st Grand Warden of the Temple of the Knights Carbonic.
This is the kind of conspiracy the deniers need to reveal to show that man-made climate change is a con. The hacked emails are a hard knock, but the science of global warming withstands much more than that.

University of East Anglia emails: the most contentious quotes

Here are a selection of quotes from the emails stolen from computers at the University of East Anglia. Many involve Phil Jones, head of the university's Climatic Research Unit.

Published: 2:56PM GMT 23 Nov 2009
From: Phil Jones. To: Many. Nov 16, 1999"I've just completed Mike's Nature [the science journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."
Critics cite this as evidence that data was manipulated to mask the fact that global temperatures are falling. Prof Jones claims the meaning of "trick" has been misinterpreted
From Phil Jones To: Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University). July 8, 2004"I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
The IPCC is the UN body charged with monitoring climate change. The scientists did not want it to consider studies that challenge the view that global warming is genuine and man-made.
From: Kevin Trenberth (US National Center for Atmospheric Research). To: Michael Mann. Oct 12, 2009"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't... Our observing system is inadequate"
Prof Trenberth appears to accept a key argument of global warming sceptics - that there is no evidence temperatures have increased over the past 10 years.
From: Phil Jones. To: Many. March 11, 2003“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”
Prof Jones appears to be lobbying for the dismissal of the editor of Climate Research, a scientific journal that published papers downplaying climate change.
From Phil Jones. To: Michael Mann. Date: May 29, 2008"Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise."
Climate change sceptics tried to use Freedom of Information laws to obtain raw climate data submitted to an IPCC report known as AR4. The scientists did not want their email exchanges about the data to be made public.
From: Michael Mann. To: Phil Jones and Gabi Hegerl (University of Edinburgh). Date: Aug 10, 2004"Phil and I are likely to have to respond to more crap criticisms from the idiots in the near future."
The scientists make no attempt to hide their disdain for climate change sceptics who request more information about their work.

Keeping Copenhagen on course

Pessimism about a climate change deal in Copenhagen is not merited. Vitally so for developing countries, there is all to play for

David Turnbull
guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 November 2009 10.00 GMT
Waking up one drearymorning in Copenhagen (where I've recently moved to prepare for the upcoming climate talks in December), I was met with a barrage of headlines, mostly from US media, telling me that Copenhagen is doomed to total failure and I might as well head off to Mexico City, where next year's summit will be held. Not the best way to start the day.
Is Copenhagen really over before it begins?
Had I moved to this dark, rainy (but beautiful!) city for no reason? Should we all just pack it in and hope that political declarations will solve it all?
The answer, thankfully, quickly became a resounding "no". The mainstream media clearly got it wrong. There's still hope – a lot of it, too. Let's start with those headlines. Who are these "world leaders" who agreed to delay? Well, the plural may be accurate, but just barely.
Since the initial reports, it's become clear that while the media reported that all 19 Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) leaders were in agreement on the so-called "one agreement, two steps" approach, that's not at all the case.
The real story occurred at a hastily arranged Apec breakfast. Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen made a last-minute visit and surprised the room with a speech on the upcoming climate talks. One can only imagine a room full of bleary-eyed heads of state sitting around a table sipping their coffee and politely nodding at Rasmussen's speech without really understanding how their nods would be translated by the media.
Rasmussen began his speech by saying:
"I would like to share with you how I believe a Copenhagen agreement could be constructed to serve the dual purpose of providing for continued negotiations on a legal agreement and for immediate action."
And later, towards the end of the speech, he said:
"Some of you might have wished for a different format or for a different legal structure. Still, I believe you will agree with me on one fundamental point: what matters at the end of the day is the ability of the Copenhagen agreement to capture and reinforce global commitment to real actions."
Doesn't sound like consensus to me; it sounds like a man trying to convince an audience to go along with him. It's not entirely clear who actually did agree with the prime minister, but what is clear is that there is nowhere near consensus on such a delay approach; in fact, dozens of countries oppose it and are still wishing – and fighting – for more.
Now, what about the actual plan itself – the "one agreement, two steps" plan? Two steps to an agreement doesn't sound so bad, right?
As NRDC's Jake Schmidt wrote, the strategy might not be so bad if you actually thought that the second step would ever be taken. Unfortunately, what Rasmussen has put forward is a cynical approach. It's becoming clear that all he cares about is getting a "positive" result in Copenhagen, and that the second step could just be for show.
If you look closely at Rasmussen's Apec breakfast speech, there's very little incentive actually to finish the job in 2010 (as in, to take the "second step"). Despite his lip service to "continued legal negotiations", there's no clarity or firm deadline. Rasmussen's invention of "politically binding" – a term no one seems willing or able to define – is also repeated here.
Furthermore, there is only a passing mention of the Kyoto protocol later in the speech. Despite what some would have you think, the Kyoto protocol does not expire in 2012. In Rasmussen's vision, the Kyoto protocol goal seems to disappear in favor of a "politically binding" outcome.
Luckily, there's still time to push for more. The Alliance of Small Island States, the African Group of Nations, and other vulnerable and least developed countries will surely be pushing back on this plan during the preparatory meetings in Copenhagen this week. In fact, 11 Pacific Island States already have. Some European nations are also likely to stand up to this plan.
The planet and its people need a fair, ambitious and, yes, binding outcome from this process. Countries should be working on such a document in Copenhagen – and they can and should finish it there. After all, it's what they committed to in Bali just two years ago.

The voices of climate change sceptics

Caroline Davies and Suzanne Goldenberg
The Guardian, Tuesday 24 November 2009
The furore over the climate scientists' emails has given an unexpected boost to global warming sceptics on both sides of the Atlantic, but none outside that small circle believe the affair will divert governments, businesses or communities from seeking a low-carbon future.
The affair lifted the launch, announced in The Times, of a new "high-powered" think tank on climate change by Lord Nigel Lawson, the former Conservative Chancellor and current global warming critic. He denies he is a climate change sceptic, but is "sceptical" about the policy response. He found the perfect platform to promote his Global Warming Policy Foundation while also calling for an independent inquiry into the content of the emails.
The director of the GWPF, headquartered in a room rented from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, is Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool's John Moores University, who has argued concern about climate change has reached "near hysteria".
Its board of trustees includes Lord Barnett, a former vice-chairman of the BBC who voted against the Climate Change Bill, and the Bishop of Chester, who has argued there was no consensus among climate change scientists that "carbon dioxide levels are the key determinant".
Its academic advisory council includes Prof Ian Plimer, an Australian who argues volcanoes produce more CO2 than humans. "Some of those names are straight from the Who's Who of current climate change sceptics", said Ward. "To me, this is pretty much indistinguishable from the websites that are run by rightwing, free-market think tanks in the US. It's just going to be a way of pumping material into the debate that hasn't been through scrutiny".
In the US, the trove of hacked emails seemed heaven-sent for America's most devoted climate contrarians.
Among the last citadels of climate change deniers – the radio host Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Senator James Inhofe – the emails were touted as evidence of a worldwide scientific conspiracy. Inhoffe said. "They cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not."
Limbaugh said: "I've instinctively known this from the get-go, from 20 years ago! The whole thing is made up, and the reason I know it is because liberals are behind it! When they're pushing something, folks, it's always bogus. "
But such outrage is likely to remain confined to the margins of American political debate. In Congress, even the most determined opponents of climate change legislation now frame their arguments in economic terms rather than on the science – including Inhofe.
In the business world, some of the biggest players in the fossil fuel economy – such as Rio Tinto, Shell and General Motors – have joined USCAP, the business partnership that is supporting efforts to get a legislation through Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
"I can say conclusively that the hacked emails are just blips of information that will have absolutely no impact whatsoever on the push to get policymakers to back the science," said Anne Kelly, the policy director at Ceres, a sustainable business network whose members include PepsiCo, American Airlines and Bloomberg. "One can't help but think of the reaction of buggy whip manufacturers in the early part of the 20th century when the horseless carriage was created. The consensus has transcended political boundaries. It has transcended sectors. It is not an environmental movement anymore – it's smart business and investors agree."
In the political world, the email affair has elicited no comment and came as it was announced that 65 national leaders had so far pledged to attend the Copenhagen talks, almost a third of the total.

Full text: Climate science statement

This is a joint statement from the Met Office, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Royal Society on the state of the science of climate change ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 November 2009 00.05 GMT

The UK is at the forefront of tackling dangerous climate change, underpinned by world class scientific expertise and advice. Crucial decisions will be taken soon in Copenhagen about limiting and reducing the impacts of climate change now and in the future. Climate scientists from the UK and across the world are in overwhelming agreement about the evidence of climate change, driven by the human input of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
As three of the UK's leading scientific organisations involving most of the UK scientists working on climate change, we cannot emphasise enough the body of scientific evidence that underpins the call for action now, and we reinforce our commitment to ensuring that world leaders continue to have access to the best possible science. We believe this will be essential to inform sound decision-making on policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change up to Copenhagen and beyond.
The 2007 assessment report of the UN's climate change panel (the IPCC) – made up of the world's foremost climate scientists – provided unequivocal evidence for a warming climate, and a high degree of certainty that human activities are largely responsible for global warming since the middle of the 20th century. However, the IPCC process is based only on information already published and even since the last assessment report the scientific evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened significantly:
• Global carbon dioxide concentrations continue to rise, and methane concentrations have started to increase again after a decade of near stability;• The decade 2000-09 has been warmer, on average, than any other decade in the previous 150 years;• Observed changes in precipitation (decreases in the subtropics and increases in high latitudes) have been at the upper limit of model projections;• Arctic summer sea ice cover declined suddenly in 2007 and 2008, prompting the realisation that this environment may be far more vulnerable to change than previously thought;• There is increasing evidence of continued and accelerating sea-level rises around the world.
We expect some of the most significant impacts of climate change to occur when natural variability is exacerbated by long-term global warming, so that even small changes in global temperatures can produce damaging local and regional effects. Year on year the evidence is growing that damaging climate and weather events - potentially intensified by global warming - are already happening and beginning to affect society and ecosystems. This includes:
• In the UK, heavier daily rainfall leading to local flooding such as in the summer of 2007;• Increased risk of summer heat waves such as the summers of 2003 across the UK and Europe;• Around the world, increasing incidence of extreme weather events with unprecedented levels of damage to society and infrastructure. This year's unusually destructive typhoon season in south-east Asia, while not easy to attribute directly to climate change, illustrates the vulnerabilities to such events;• Sea level rises leading to dangerous exposure of populations in, for example, Bangladesh, the Maldives and other island states;• Persistent droughts, leading to pressures on water and food resources, and the increasing incidence of forest fires in regions where future projections indicate long term reductions in rainfall, such as south-west Australia and the Mediterranean.
These emerging signals are consistent with what we expect from our projections, giving us confidence in the science and models that underpin them. In the absence of action to mitigate climate change, we can expect much larger changes in the coming decades than have been seen so far.
Some countries and regions are already vulnerable to climate variability and change, but in the coming decades all countries will be affected, regardless of their affluence or individual emissions. Climate change will have major consequences for food production, water availability, ecosystems and human health, migration pressures, and regional instability. In the UK, we will be affected both directly and indirectly, through the effects of climate change on, for example, global markets (notably in food), health, extent of flooding, and sea levels.
The accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will lead to long-term changes in the climate system that will persist for millennia. Our growing understanding of the balance of carbon between the atmosphere, oceans and terrestrial systems tells us that the greater the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the greater the risk of long-term damage to Earth's life support systems. Known or probable damage includes ocean acidification, loss of rain forests, degradation of ecosystems, and desertification. These effects will lead to loss of biodiversity and reduced agricultural productivity. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases can substantially limit the extent and severity of long-term climate change.
The 2007 IPCC assessment, the most comprehensive and respected analysis of climate change to date, states clearly that without substantial global reductions of greenhouse gas emissions we can likely expect a world of increasing droughts, floods and species loss, of rising seas and displaced human populations. However even since the 2007 IPCC assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened. The scientific evidence which underpins calls for action at Copenhagen is very strong. Without co-ordinated international action on greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts on climate and civilisation could be severe.
• Prof Julia Slingo, chief scientist, Met Office; Prof Alan Thorpe, chief executive, Natural Environment Research Council; Lord Rees, president, the Royal Society

Lord Lawson calls for public inquiry into UEA global warming data 'manipulation'

Lord Lawson, the former chancellor, has called for an independent inquiry into claims that leading climate change scientists manipulated data to strengthen the case for man-made global warming.

By Matthew MoorePublished: 8:45AM GMT 23 Nov 2009

Thousands of emails and documents stolen from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and posted online indicate that researchers massaged figures to mask the fact that world temperatures have been declining in recent years.
This morning Lord Lawson, who has reinvented himself as a prominent climate change sceptic since leaving front line politics, demanded that the apparent deception be fully investigated.

He claimed that the credibility of the university's world-renowned Climatic Research Unit - and British science - were under threat.
"They should set up a public inquiry under someone who is totally respected and get to the truth," he told the BBC Radio Four Today programme.
"If there's an explanation for what's going on they can make that explanation."
Around 1,000 emails and 3,000 documents were stolen from UEA computers by hackers last week and uploaded on to a Russian server before circulating on websites run by climate change sceptics.
Some of the correspondence indicates that the manipulation of data was widespread among global warming researchers.
One of the emails under scrutiny, written by Phil Jones, the centre's director, in 1999, reads: "I've just completed Mike's Nature [the science journal] trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."
Prof Jones has insisted that he used the word "trick" to mean a "clever thing to do", rather than to indicate deception. He has denied manipulating data.
Another scientist whose name appears in the documents accused the hackers of attempting to undermine the drive for a global consensus at next month's Copenhagen summit.
Kevin Trenberth of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research accused climate change sceptics of cherry-picking the documents and taking them out of context.
Meanwhile, hopes that a legally binding treaty on cutting emissions will be agreed at Copenhagen have been boosted by the news that more than 60 world leaders plan to attend.
Last week Lord Lawson, who served as chancellor for six years under Margaret Thatcher, told The Daily Telegraph that he planned to establish a think tank to challenge the consensus that drastic action is needed to combat global warming

Copenhagen climate change conference 2009: the movies

Lights, camera... climate change. Films that have grappled with the environmental threat to the planet.

Published: 9:00AM GMT 23 Nov 2009

AL Gore's documentary The Inconvenient Truth won two Oscars Photo: AP
Soylent Green (1973)
The cult classic is set in the year 2022. The greenhouse effect has risen the temperature into nearly unbearable regions, and the people are kept in the cities by law.

New York's population has grown to 40 million mouths to feed. The rich live in separated luxury apartments (with women as part of the rented furniture) but also experience the lack of natural food. Strawberries are priced at $150 for a glass.
Police Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the strange murder case of an official from the Soylent corporation, which feeds the masses with a revolutionary creation: Soylent red, yellow, or, even more nutritious, green. Just remember: you are what you eat.
On Deadly Ground (1994)
Super-macho Steven Seagal went green playing an oil company agent Forrest Taft who realises he's on the wrong side of the fight to exploit the Alaskan wilderness and dispossess the local people.
In the final scene where Taft gives a speech about the oil companies and air pollution, test audiences complained that it was overlong and preachy and it was cut from the original 11 minutes.
Waterworld (1995)
In this Kevin Costner vanity project the greenhouse effect has taken place, the icecaps have melted, and the ravaged Earth is covered in water.
People are few and far between, living in small communities at sea or sailing from one to another as traders.
A mysterious drifter (Costner) appears and aids a mother and daughter in seeking Dryland, a mythical place that a group of savage bandits seek out as well.
Unfortunately, the movie - the most expensive ever produced at the time - was panned by critics and audiences, and sank without a trace.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Big budget blockbuster where melting of the polar ice caps has poured fresh water into the oceans and diluted the salt level, causing the temperature of the ocean currents to drop 13 degrees. The world's climate system changes for the worst.
Tokyo is hit by hail the size of softballs; it begins to snow in New Delhi; and Los Angeles is destroyed by a group of tornadoes that all hit at the same time. A New Ice age is about to beign
A climatologist (Dennis Quaid) tries to figure out a way to save the world at the same as helping his young son in New York, which is being taken over by a new ice age.
A massive hit with cinema goers who, in the USA, were given Red Cross pamphlets on what to do to keep safe during tornados, floods, and blizzards as they left.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
First documentary to win two Academy Awards, the film weaves the science of global warming with former vice president Al Gore's personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change.
The DVD case, in which the film is packaged, is made from 100 per cent recycled cardboard.

Australia revises carbon-trading scheme

Reuters, Tuesday November 24 2009
SYDNEY, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The Australian government revised its plans to cut carbon emissions on Tuesday in order to win majority political support for the reform.
The changes will deliver more compensation to affected industries such as coal and electricity and will see an extra A$1.28 billion ($1.18 billion) in government expenditure on the cap-and-trade scheme, reaching A$7 billion by 2019-2020.
The opposition will decide later on Tuesday whether to support the changes and allow the carbon-trade laws to pass through parliament in a vote scheduled for this week.
"It discusses (briefly) the support proposed for a number of industries, but does not discuss the charges under the ETS that are intended to be imposed, that the industries are to receive protection from.
"It is not clear to me, given that thie scheme proposes to protect, or provide a buffer for, carbon emission sources from adverse financial impacts, how this will actually encourage reduction in carbon emissions, the supposed ultimate objective of the exercise."
"Today is a black day for Australia's green future, and we intend to campaign on this all the way to the next election. It's polluters payday in parliament house.
"How did the prime minister keep a straight face. He has taken the (conservative) opposition's policy and the Greens' rhetoric. He is giving billions more of the Australian peoples' money to the big coal miners and coal burners.
"It's a cave-in to the big polluters at the expense of Australia's future, security, its children and its grandchildren."
"From our point of view an agreement which results in the introduction of an efficient ETS as soon as possible is a positive outcome. The Australian energy and environmental markets -- not to mention the wider economy -- need a carbon-price signal as quickly as possible."
"The result for the power sector is very, very good. There was obviously some intense lobbying by a lot of the generators."
"One of the positives is certainty for decisions that need to be made at the moment over several years. The generation commitments being made in the market would have been hamstrung. Forward trading of power markets has been severely limited ... which isn't a great way to send price signals for new investment.
"A couple of the key generators in Victoria have refinance dates coming up in February or October next year, so I think it'll definitely help lending decisions to those generators."
On the market for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits:
"I think the CDM market is very flat over the next few years, indicating it's in pretty good supply-demand balance." "Making an estimate of where carbon will be post-2012 just depends on working out if Europe and the U.S. will be large buyers, because Australia will only be a small part of that global market. People will be using them as a hedge between auctions effectively because the auctions will be staggered."
"The really key interesting thing is that agricultural offsets are in and that is quite significant. They've actually increased the offsetting which will mean a lot more investment in agricultural offsetting projects, which is more in line with what the U.S. is doing."
"It would seem to give further assistance to households, particularly in relation to electricity pricing and particularly in relation to allowing voluntary action."
"Overall, the most important thing is that we get the legislation passed this week so the prime minister can go to Copenhagen with legislation for the introduction of the emissions trading scheme. We need the momentum before Copenhagen, not after.
"This no doubt makes it easier for some of those large companies, but in the end those costs will be passed on to the consumer one way or the other. It ensures these companies come on board and we get something introduced sooner, not later, and deliver a better economic outcome."
- The government wants to set up a cap-and-trade system which is broadly similar to the European scheme in that it would rely on a marketplace to determine the cost of carbon emissions, though the Australian scheme is more broad in its scope.
- The government is committed to an unconditional emissions cut of 5 percent by 2020. This target could be increased to 25 percent if the world agrees to a tough new climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen this December.
- The original scheme failed to pass the upper House of parliament earlier this year, giving Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a possible trigger to call a snap election on the issue if his carbon-trading legislation were to be defeated a second time.
- Rudd has now amended his carbon-trading legislation twice in order to meet the concerns of industry and win over enough opposition lawmakers to secure its passage.
- A second vote on the legislation is scheduled this week.
- Opposition lawmakers and heavy industries, including coal-fired power generators and miners, have lobbied hard for more compensation, arguing the government's proposals threatened to destroy jobs and force businesses to move offshore.
(Reporting by Australian bureaux)

US to go to Copenhagen summit with proposed target on carbon emissions

• Barack Obama to announce target in next three weeks• Figure to be provisional in nature, officials say
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
The Guardian, Tuesday 24 November 2009
The White House said today it would go to the Copenhagen climate change summit with a proposed target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions after facing international pressure to commit to stronger action on climate change.
An administration official told reporters that President Barack Obama would propose the targets before the climate meeting, which is less than three weeks away. The move removes the biggest obstacle to a political deal at Copenhagen.
America is the only major industrialised country that has yet to reveal its emissions reduction plan. The official did not give details on the stringency of the proposed cuts, but it is thought likely they would range from 14% to 20% from 2005 levels – still below those put forward by the EU and other industrialised countries.
"The one thing the president has made clear is we want to take action consistent with the legislative process," the official told reporters. "[We] don't want to get out ahead or be at odds with what can be produced through legislation.
The Observer reported on Sunday that the US was considering a "provisional target" at Copenhagen.
Todd Stern, the state department climate change envoy, told the Observer: "What we are looking at is to see whether we could put down essentially a provisional number that would be contingent on our legislation."
Stern, who was speaking in Copenhagen, where he was meeting Danish officials, said: "We are looking at that, there are people we need to consult with."
The administration official shared that caution today, saying: "Whatever number we put on the table will be with reference to what can come out of the legislative process."
Obama has yet to decide if he will join about 65 other leaders – including Gordon Brown and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel – who have said they will attend the climate change summit, the official told reporters.
"What the president has always said is if it looks as though the negotiations have proceeded sufficiently that going to Copenhagen would give a final impetus, a push, to the process, then he would be willing to go," the senior administration official said. "We're making the judgment as to whether it makes sense for him to go."
The announcement that Obama would propose a target for cutting emissions marks a shift in strategy for the White House. His administration, until today, has resisted international pressure to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, fearing a domestic backlash if it were seen to pre-empt Congress in dealing with climate change.
But the strategy led to growing frustration in the international community that the Copenhagen meeting would fail to produce the strong political agreement needed to avoid the worst ravages of climate change. The international community had been looking to Obama – who put climate change at the top of his agenda – to put America in the lead of efforts to deal with global warming. America has produced more greenhouse gas emissions than any other industrialised country.
Sweden's prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, had criticised the US failure to commit to targets for cutting emissions as "untenable".
Obama will still have to tread cautiously in proposing America's emissions cuts, however. The president promised to cut emissions by 14% over 2005 levels by 2020 when he was running for the White House. The house of representatives narrowly voted on a climate change bill last June, which proposed a 17% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020. A similar bill in the Senate proposed a 20% cut.
But efforts to build a consensus around climate change legislation in the Senate have stalled. Senate leaders now say they do not expect to take up climate change law until February next year.

Economic collapse pays big dividend in carbon credit profits

Published Date: 24 November 2009
By Arthur Max in Konstantinovka, Ukraine
UKRAINE'S economic collapse has produced a potential multibillion-dollar bonanza, allowing the country to reap windfall carbon credit profits from the dead chimneys of its industrial decline.
The industrial collapse has been bad for jobs but good for the climate. Ukraine produces less than half the greenhouse gases it did 20 years ago, and under a system devised in the negotiations for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol curbing the gases blamed for global warming, it is allowed to sell credits for every ton of carbon dioxide saved.In the central city of Konstantinovka, Vladimir Gapor, a plumber by trade, is a scavenger now, prying bits of scrap steel from the ruins of his old factory and selling them for a pittance.The factory, which made glass for the Soviet military and space programme, shut in the early 1990s after the Soviet Union disintegrated. Private wrecking crews and desperate jobless people like Mr Gapor then turned the industries, which once employed 16,000 workers, into heaps of bricks.While Western industrial powers must cut emissions, and many developing nations are asked to shift to low-carbon economic growth, a few Eastern European countries have no incentive to constrain their polluting, since they're already far below emissions limits.These nations can make millions selling carbon credits, while enjoying a comfortable cushion to pump the gas into the atmosphere without worrying about energy efficiency or cleaning up their factories.Countries or companies that cannot meet commitments to reduce emissions can buy these "allowances" from those that have cut emissions and have a surplus to sell. Earlier this year, each one-ton allowance sold for $10 when Ukraine signed a $300 million deal with Japan. The Kiev government has almost one billion more tons to put on the market, said Irina Stavchuk of the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine."The hot air business is the main goal of the government," Ms Stavchuk said.Income from such deals is supposed to be earmarked for clean-energy and other "green" projects. But critics question how well that guideline is followed.But the credits could lapse in 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires. Russia, Ukraine and other beneficiaries want these pollution rights extended in the new deal to be struck at Copenhagen. As part of a new climate treaty, Ukraine is being asked to commit to a ceiling on emissions and it has pledged to emit 20 per cent less in 2020 than it did in the benchmark year of 1990. Since its current emissions are about 52 per cent below 1990, it will be left with plenty of credits to sell.The international diplomatic debate in the Danish capital seems a world away from grimy Konstantinovka, where Gapor chips away at concrete blocks.Nearby, crusading local journalist Vladimir Berezin climbed on to a mound of rubble."We call this place the cemetery of Communism," he said. A dozen 180-metre tall chimneys stand like memorial obelisks over the devastation. The entrance to an abandoned building bore the slogan honouring Vladimir Lenin, founding father of the Soviet Union: "Our Aim is Communism and the Ideas of Lenin are Immortal.""It's true," Berezin said. "Here you can see Lenin's ideas. Here you see our communism."

Tories to end taxpayer investment in 'dirty' fossil fuels

A Conservative government would scrap the Export Credit Guarantee Department that invests in 'dirty' power stations and instead use the fund to encourage green technology

Allegra Stratton, political correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 November 2009 10.55 GMT
A Conservative UK government would bring to an end the practice of the government underwriting investment in "dirty" fossil fuel power stations around the world through the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) and instead turn the public fund into a "pro-poor ECGD" to encourage the spread of new green technology to poor countries.
The shadow secretary of state for international development, Andrew Mitchell, will say in a speech at the Overseas Development Institute today that it is "scandalous" that "Labour ministers are using taxpayers' money to guarantee unsustainable energy projects that are contributing to global warming" and will pledge that a Tory government would "never again" support dirty fossil fuel stations. Under the plans, a Tory "trade minister" would liase between the business department and the Department for International Development.
The non-ministerial department is the UK's official export credit agency and provides guarantees, insurance and reinsurance to British businesses investing overseas.
The Conservatives have obtained figures from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform showing the ECGD is providing nearly three-quarters of a billion (£714,714,505) worth of support to fossil fuel projects. They also point to a report published by the National Audit Office showing that since 2000 the ECGD has not rejected a single application for support on the grounds that it did not meet minimum environmental and social standards. A 2003 House of Commons environmental audit committee inquiry stated: "An increasingly large proportion of ECGD's overall business is supporting power generation and fossil fuel dependent energy projects, often in developing countries".
The WWF describes the ECGD as "effectively a subsidy for fossil fuels".
Today Mitchell will also propose that UK Trade Investments and the ECGD should become a champion for British companies that develop and export innovative green technologies around the world but, largely undeveloped, also rely on credit guarantees to be viable in developing countries.
This would include using UKTI and the ECGD to promote "poverty-reducing, job-creating investment" in the poorest countries. He will say: "There is real potential for using taxpayer guarantees to encourage British business to invest in the countries which need foreign direct investment the most, particularly during the current crisis which has seen global investment flows fall substantially."

Recovering Demand Boosts LDK Solar

LDK Solar Co. posted a surprise profit for the third quarter amid growing demand for solar-energy products in recent months, as the Chinese maker of solar wafers and modules broke a string of three consecutive quarterly losses.
The company also projected fourth-quarter revenue of $280 million to $310 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters on average recently expected $259 million.
Demand for solar products has been stabilizing in recent months as financing for projects improves, though prices are still down sharply amid plentiful supply. Some solar companies have returned to profitability recently, while most are seeing sales improve sequentially. LDK recently strengthened its financial position with the sale of a 15% stake in a polysilicon plant. The company has been cutting costs and scaling back expansion plans.
For the quarter ended Sept. 30, LDK reported a profit of $29.4 million, or 27 cents an American depositary share. A year earlier the company reported earnings of $88.4 million, or 77 cents an ADS. Analysts had projected a 10-cent loss.
Revenue climbed 48% to $281.9 million. The company last month boosted its target to $270 million to $290 million. Revenue was up 23% sequentially.
Gross margin fell to 20.1% from 22.7%.
Chairman and Chief Executive Xiaofeng Peng said, "In addition to reaching important milestones for ramping out polysilicon productions, we made great strides to diversify and grow our business and operating flexibility."
The company's polysilicon plant is in full production and its wafer plant is running at full capacity, he said. The company was awarded initial contracts to develop projects in various Chinese provinces and has formed a partnership in the Benelux region for a major rooftop installation, he said.
Wafer shipments rose 27%.

Tories to pay people to recycle in green revolution

Householders will be rewarded with cash incentives for recycling at home under radical new Conservative plans aimed at tackling global warming.

By Andrew Porter, Political Editor
People will accumulate points for the household waste they recycle and be able to use the points to claim up to £130 a year in vouchers from major retailers like Marks & Spencer and Tesco.
It is estimated that the financial incentives could help raise household recycling rates nationally by at least 30 per cent a year.
A rise in recycling would in turn mean less rubbish simply being dumped in landfill sites. Councils are currently taxed by the Government for every tonne of waste they send to landfill.
The Conservatives claim that the savings in landfill taxes would fund the cash voucher plans, which have been piloted successfully in the Home Counties and would be extended across the country under a Tory government.
The move is to be announced in a speech on Tuesday by George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, as the Tories attempt to show they are willing to lead the way on the green agenda ahead of next month’s Copenhagen climate change summit.
The recycling plan will be the centrepiece of a raft of measures that also include:
* cutting carbon emissions in Britain by 10 per cent within a year
* creating the country’s first ‘green investment bank’
* introducing Green ISAs, encouraging investment in green technologies
* making Whitehall energy consumption ‘transparent’.
The Tories claim that the Government’s desire to encourage more recycling has backfired with the advent of bin taxes.
Labour has overseen a rise in the number of councils using schemes and fine systems that have antagonised homeowners, rather than encourage them to recycle more.
“Carrots work better than sticks,” Mr Osborne will say. “Instead of punishing people, as Labour do with bin taxes, the Conservatives want to encourage families by paying them to recycle.
“This isn’t an idle promise - we’re actually making it happen on the ground in Conservative areas. Now we want to make it happen everywhere.”
The Conservatives have piloted the voucher scheme in the Tory-led council areas of Windsor and Maidenhead where recycling points can be redeemed online and spent at hundreds of local shops.
The pilot echoed an American scheme covering materials including paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal. Residents are issued with special blue roadside recycling bins, the contents of which can be scanned and identified by the waste trucks picking them up. The scanner in turn identifies the address involved and allocates recycling points for the rubbish collected.
The points are then loaded onto a computer database which can be accessed by residents to collect redeemable points. It has enabled residents to earn a maximum of £130 per year in vouchers and discounts.
Mr Osborne hopes extending the vouchers scheme across the country will buck the trend of greater amounts of rubbish being sent to landfill sites.
At the moment, 37 per cent of household waste in England and Wales is recycled, up from just 7.5 per cent in 1996. But landfill taxes levied by the Government are still set to rise from £40 a tonne to £70 a tonne in the next three years.
The Conservative plans to increase recycling rates are likely to be welcomed by many councils who fear that they face swingeing European Union fines if they do not cut landfill.
The other measures Mr Osborne will announce include what he will describe as “the most ambitious commitment on UK government emissions ever made”.
“It will save up to £300m a year in energy costs, which will be used to help tackle Labour’s debt crisis,” Mr Osborne will say
“How telling it is that Alistair Darling has not given a single major speech on the environment in the two and a half years since he became Chancellor.
“That attitude is going to change if the government changes. I want a Conservative Treasury to be in lead of developing the low carbon economy and financing a green recovery.
“For I see in this green recovery not just the fight against climate change, but the fight for jobs, the fight for new industry, the fight for lower family energy bills and the fight for less wasteful government.”
He will also trumpet three major corporate backers to the plans. Tesco, BT and B&Q will provide a future Conservative government with expertise on how green objectives can be reached and how homes can be made more efficient and in the process save on household energy bills.
To help achieve those aims he wants a new green investment bank “to get new technologies out of the lab and into new businesses creating new jobs”.
The ‘green’ bank would bring together the public money that is divided across a number of current Government climate change initiatives. It would also bring in private sector money which would be used to create jobs, encourage innovations and encourage companies to invest in Britain.
Green ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) will also be used to encourage members of the public to invest in green technologies.
Under the new green Tory plans, details would also be published online of the energy consumption of every Whitehall department so that the public can hold ministers and civil servants to account for their carbon footprint.
The Tories have been reluctant to push their green credentials since some of their earlier ideas including supermarket and airlines taxes backfired.
But the raft of new policies shows they now believe the public will accept new measures to help the environment as long as they are considered fair.
The Conservatives have decided to unleash a raft of other green policies this week.
On Thursday, Grant Shapps, the Tory housing spokesman, will explain how the Conservative will make 25 million existing homes “green” by offering insulation and energy efficiency improvements.
In another significant move, Greg Clark, the shadow climate change secretary, will finally commit the Tories to nuclear power. He is preparing to say that “clean coal and nuclear” will be at the heart of their future energy policy and will be immediate legislative priorities.
On Monday, Andrew Mitchell, the shadow development secretary, said the Tories would scrap a £750 million a year tax break that enables British companies to invest in ‘dirty’ power stations overseas.

Chinese protesters confront police over incinerator plans in Guangzhou

Residents say government is lying over health dangers as Chinese protesters gain confidence and support
Jonathan Watts and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 November 2009 13.08 GMT
Chinese police have dispersed a demonstration by hundreds of Chinese protesters over a planned waste incinerator in the southern city of Guangzhou.
The latest in a series of environment-related protests in China was sparked by rumours that a similar facility in a nearby village is responsible for an increase of cancer cases among locals.
Residents are unhappy about what they see as inadequate consultation for the project. A public meeting this morning broke down when officials were deluged with around 200 petitioners.
The frustrated crowd surged into the municipal government office and demanded to be heard. They then occupied the city square, where they staged a peaceful sit-in. Wen Yunchao, a blogger and rights activist at the scene, told the Guardian by telephone that the number of protesters had swelled to about 800 as word spread by mobile phone and internet. The authorities declared the gathering illegal after the participants demanded the resignation of the city's deputy general secretary, he said.
The demonstration was broken up by police, who used crowd barriers to drive the protesters off the square. Most of the protesters were home-owners and villagers from Panyu, the district where the planned incinerator is expected to handle 2,000 tonnes of waste per day.
Others were from Likeng, which is in the process of expanding an incinerator despite concerns among nearby residents that it will lead to an increase in cancer cases. The government has said such claims are groundless.
"The government told us there won't be any pollution, but we don't believe them," said a woman who gave only the surname Ou. "At least today the government have heard the voice of the people. They can't pretend that they are deaf and mute anymore."
Nearly 92% of residents believe the project will seriously harm their health and the environment, while more than 97% oppose construction of the plant, according a public opinion poll by the Guangdong provincial social research and study centre.
China's southernmost province has been at the forefront of the country's breakneck economic development and has experienced some of its worst environmental degradation and social turbulence. In 2005, police killed three villagers in Shanwei, Guangdong province in a violent protest over a planned power plant. The same year, thousands of riot police evicted farmers locked into a land dispute in Sanshan.
Many of the protesters in the latest peaceful protest were middle-class home-owners, who oppose the construction of a potential environmental hazard in their neighbourhood. The government sometimes pays more heed to this group than dispossessed farmers. In 2007, a "walk" by thousands of middle-class residents through the streets of Xiamen in Fujian province prompted the government to rethink plans for a para-xylene chemical plant in the area.
In the latest case, however, the Panyu local government has stated its intention to push ahead with the project once an environmental impact assessment is completed.