Monday, September 28, 2009

Telling the big lie about CO2

Some outfit with a broken website called CO2 is green is running the following tissue of lies on American TV.

This links to a second outfit called plantsneedco2, that hosts this video:

The naration goes like this:
Over a quarter century ago when the atmosphere CO2 concentration was about 340 ppm, my father, Dr Sherwood Idso, stated in a small self-published book entitled "Carbon Dioxide friend or foe" that if the air CO2 content continued to rise, it would enhance plant growth and water use efficiency to the point that semi-arid lands not then suitable for cultivation could be brought into profitable production, further stating that the deserts themselves could blossom as the rose.
Ah, the great Idso family. They've been in these denialist circles a long time.

We experienced this exact same horseshit from Myron Ebell's Competitive Enterprise Institute back in 2006, with this nifty little video:

As the Climate reported in the same year, this kindergarden level understanding of biology is absolutely false. As reported experimentally, with added science, in Nature in 1993:
Evidence of a feedback mechanism limiting plant response to elevated carbon

IN short-term experiments under productive laboratory conditions, native herbaceous plants differ widely in their potential to achieve higher yields at elevated concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The most responsive species appear to be large fast-growing perennials of recently disturbed fertile soils. These types of plants are currently increasing in abundance but it is not known whether this is an effect of rising carbon dioxide or is due to other factors. Doubts concerning the potential of natural vegetation for sustained response to rising carbon dioxide have arisen from experiments on infertile soils, where the stimulus to growth was curtailed by mineral nutrient limitations. Here we present evidence that mineral nutrient constraints on the fertilizer effect of elevated carbon dioxide can also occur on fertile soil and in the earliest stages of secondary succession. Our data indicate that there may be a feedback mechanism in which elevated carbon dioxide causes an increase in substrate release into the rhizosphere by non-mycorrhizal plants, leading to mineral nutrient sequestration by the expanded microflora and a consequent nutritional limitation on plant growth.
There's a lot of other science demonstrating the fact that the eco-system has adapted its optimum performance to the historical level of CO2, and that elevated levels of this (combined with the elevated temperatures and greater droughts) is seriously disruptive.

In other words, there will be times of famine in the future. Things are not going to get better this way.

But this is America. It's perfectly okay to lie about things of this magnitude at a time when this future suffering could be avoidable. That's simply economics.

We are so screwed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ascending to despair

Another week and another badly formatted post by Myron Ebell appears on entitled Obama speech to the UN (September 22, 2009 @ 10:57 am).

The same text, only with paragraph breaks, pops up on, also entitled Obama speech to the UN (September 22, 2009 @ 10:57 am).

At around same time the same crappy text, with boldfaced bits, appears on entitled Disputing the Global Warming "Facts" in Obama's UN Speech. This new site is an instant fail because it has somehow rated the CEI as a "Verified Expert". What kind of "verification" would that be then?

What was this thrice self-syndicated article about? Well, there is this speech by Obama at the hastily convened summit on climate change (the speed shows you the signs of panic among world leaders on this issue), and Myron's contribution is to pick the following five statements from it that are true to the best science we have:
  • [T]he threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.

  • Rising sea levels threaten every coastline.

  • More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.

  • More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive.

  • On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees.
...and call them lies without making any proper arguments.

For example, to point two, Myron writes:
Reality: sea levels have been rising on and off since the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago. The rate of sea level rise has not increased in recent decades over the nineteenth and twentieth century average.
which has little to do with predicted, future, avoidable, and self-inflicted rise in sea levels in the next two centuries and beyond. But what are his readers who lack logical faculties going to notice?

Myron then signs off with the usual brand of harebrained hogwash:
His policy prescription for poor countries is to promise them massive "financial and technical assistance".

The track record of paying off poor countries is that it has lined the pockets of corrupt leaders and bureaucracies with billions and tens of billions of dollars, but has done nothing to help those countries become prosperous. What these countries need is free markets and abolishing barriers to trade.

The global warming policies advocated by the Obama Administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress would raise trade barriers and foster energy poverty throughout the world. Energy rationing is not the way forward and is not a message of hope for the poorest people in the world, who lack access to electricity and modern transportation.
ie don't give money or technology to poor countries; instead, the best way to help them is for fat Americans to continue to burn more coal.

Meanwhile, Myron Ebell is appearing on yet another of CEI's many front groups, the bizarrely creative commons licensed FreedomAction, where some extra info appears on his bio page:
Myron has lived in Washington since the 1980s, but has never gone native. He knows how the political establishment works, but has remained an outsider. He aims in his political work to speak truth to power and says that, "The people's voice must be heard above the clamor of the special interests if freedom and limited government are to survive."

Myron and his wife live in Prince George's County Maryland. They have four children and are longtime members of the Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes in Washington.
Well, that's good to know.

Still, it's a bit of a bummer to leave you there, so let's end with the final paragraph from Obama's speech:
But the journey is long and the journey is hard. And we don't have much time left to make that journey. It's a journey that will require each of us to persevere through setbacks, and fight for every inch of progress, even when it comes in fits and starts. So let us begin. For if we are flexible and pragmatic, if we can resolve to work tirelessly in common effort, then we will achieve our common purpose: a world that is safer, cleaner, and healthier than the one we found; and a future that is worthy of our children.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What about the fat yanks

Myron Ebell performs his usual service of highlighting instances of bad journalism whenever he praises something as an excellent, I beg your pardon, shite article.

Myron writes:
The Washington Post has discovered that poor people in poor countries need access to modern energy. In an excellent article on today’s front page, Emily Wax details the energy poverty of Africa, India, and Pakistan. And she draws the obvious conclusion that has evaded most of the establishment media for years: that’s why India and other developing countries aren’t going to sign on to any UN treaty that mandates reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions. They don’t need an energy diet; they need thousands of coal-fired power plants....

Of course, environmental pressure groups say that poor countries need to avoid “our mistakes” and build a new energy economy using renewable sources and new technologies. The problem is that most of these new sources provide a lot more sanctimonious self-satisfaction than energy. I recently drove through upstate New York on a mild summer day. I saw over seventy windmills in several groups along the way. Not a single one was turning. That’s because the wind doesn’t blow much in the summer (when demand is highest because of air conditioning). In sub-tropical countries like India there isn’t much wind at any time of year.
But there is a lot of sun you blithering block-head.

The WaPo article, even with its death-making Myron Ebell narrative, cannot be entirely cleansed of climate change consequences:
In New Delhi this summer, thousands of men, some wearing only underwear in protest, rioted over power cuts. The problem was exacerbated this year by a drought across Asia and Africa, which has caused rivers to slow to a trickle and mountain glaciers to shrink.
The incident, from last summer, is reported here.

The mountain glaciers are a different story. As they disappear, large areas of the global south will become uninhabitable for humans due to water shortages and rising sea levels. A least a billion people will very rapidly be without land or food.

This is going to be somewhat more stark for people than not getting their electricity 24 hours a day.

The fact is, Myron Ebell doesn't care if half the world's population dies in agony and destitution. Just so long as their governments buy more coal first.

How this story relates to America's massive over-consumption of power at the moment defies reason. The CEI has been working on this line for at least a year, trying to explain that if you reduce power use in America, then impoverished children in Africa will never have electricity.

This is the CEI video (initially banned) from April 2008:

What a load of bollocks.

Here's what Myron Ebell and a lot of our dead-to-the-world political policy-makers actually think: