Saturday, 14 May 2011

Two trendy climate change scaremongers

The 2010 Russian heat wave that killed thousands and cut into that country's grain harvest was  due to natural variability, not human-spurred climate change. Astrophysicist and long range weather forecaster Piers Corbyn explains, why people like Epstein and Ferber are wrong.

This is how Dan Ferber (journalist at Science magazine) and Dr. Paul Epstein (Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School) describe the threat of climate change in their new book "Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It":

Climate change threatens far more than our environment. It's already led to the spread of infectious diseases and respiratory ailments across the globe and contributed to thousands of deaths through heat waves and other extreme weather events. It's even fueled recent revolts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Pests also target wildlife, wiping out forests and increasing the risk of fires, such as in the Rockies and Cascades, where it used to be too cool for those pests to venture to high altitudes.
Another result of a changing climate: heat and carbon dioxide magnify the effects of asthma and allergies, particularly in cities where more and more children are developing respiratory problems.
And a combination of heat waves -- such as the one that killed thousands of Russians last summer -- and droughts not only causes immediate local health crises but also threatens global public health by destroying crops and driving up food prices, the authors said.
Food availability may be the most pressing issue of all.
An unstable climate, Epstein explained, is directly linked to social and political unrest. "I think we're looking at increasing damages and social disruption from the climate instability and extremes," he said. "The earth itself can go to a new equilibrium, but we need to back off. We're pushing it hard."

But it´s "not all bad news", say Ferber and Epstein:

Some companies, he explained, have already figured out ways to profit and grow by switching to climate-friendly policies.

For example, Ferber said, the re-insurance company Swiss Re realized that it could insure wind farms at a lower premium than oil rigs, because entire wind farms aren't likely to be felled in a disaster

Yes, Ferber is right; quite a few companies have realized that it is possible to profit from heavily tax-payer subsidized wind and solar projects. And in e.g. Spain the companies have also realized that there is no profit left when the subsidies run out.

Here is Ferber´s list of what communities and ordinary people can do:

Planting trees, installing bike lanes and green roofs, and funding projects to help residents green their homes are all feasible steps that together could make a concrete difference, he suggested.

Read the entire article here


 Here we have a leading Harvard Medical School scientist and a Science magazine journalist telling us that climate change already has lead to all kinds of catastrophic developments, from the spread of infectious diseases to the recent revolts in the Middle East and North Africa. On the other hand, these two scaremongers tell us that he earth can be saved by "switching to climate-friendly policies" and installing bike lanes and "green roofs"! If the authors were serious, they should at least - like some other global warming alarmists - demand some real tough action. But Epstein and Ferber are not to be taken seriously. They seem to be just a couple of  trendy "feel good" scaremongerers.

Maradona, Figo and Fowler - shame on you!

         No lack of cars, when Mr. "president" goes shopping in his republic!

Maradona, Figo, Fowler, MacManaman, Barthez and some other football legends have participated in a match organized by Vladimir Putin´s man in Chechnia, "president" Ramzan Kadyrov, who is linked by human rights organisations to numerous abductions, torture and killings.

If you want to find out what kind of a man Kadyrov is, go to Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International.

The football legends should have known better, and refused to even consider participating. Regrettably, for them money seems to be more important than decent behaviour. Shame on you, Maradona, Figo, Fowler, MacManaman and Barthez!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Germany´s Die Welt on the EU: Sometimes a step backwards can also be a step forward."

The debate about the future of the European Union is getting more interesting day by day. Germany´s conservative Die Welt newspaper offers a refreshing view:

"For years the European idea has been on political and moral overload without regard for people's yearning for a nation-state. While years ago it was common to accuse EU critics of being dim-witted, if not right-wing radicals, today this is hardly possible. This isn't just because large majorities of European voters are tired of the excessive demands (Marine Le Pen's popularity in France proves this), but also because the economic, finance and Schengen crises have destroyed one illusion after another."
"Simply put, neither open borders nor a common currency have led the countries to grow closer with one another. It's just the opposite. They insist on clinging to their national characteristics."
"What will be the result? The European idea is too valuable to allow its destruction. But that means creating a Europe in which Europeans want to live. Sometimes a step backwards can also be a step forward."

Read the entire article here

The step backwards could lead e.g. to an EU "light"

Danish border controls welcomed by Swedish government

Crossing the beautiful bridge between Sweden and Denmark will  be a nice experience even with border control also on the Danish side.

It appears that the unelected president of  the European Commission, José Barroso has made a serious mistake by accusing the Danish government of  reinstating "illegal" customs checks at the borders. The Danish government maintains that what it is planning to do is fully "in accordance with Schengen rules". And there is no reason to think otherwise.

EUOBSERVER / BERLIN - One day after Berlin's angry reaction, EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has warned Copenhagen that its decision to reinstate customs checks at the borders is illegal under EU rules. The Danish government maintains the contrary.
Denmark's envisaged customs checks, video surveillance and beefed up police presence "appear to put in question the smooth functioning of Europe's single market and the benefits that an integrated area without internal borders brings for both businesses and citizens," the commission president wrote to the Danish Prime Minister on Friday (13 May).

Read the entire piece here

The Swedish government has welcomed the Danish plan to strengtheen border controls:

Sweden's finance minister, Anders Borg, sees no immediate problems with Denmark's decision to increase border controls between the two countries.

“It is good that Denmark wants to take precautions to ensure we have no drug smuggling, cross-border criminal activity, human trafficking or similar carried out between Demark and Sweden,” said Borg to news agency TT.

The Swedish border controls in the area are working well and are not too much of a hindrance to commuters, according to Borg.

Read the entire article here

Anders Borg is right. Sweden has already for a long time had this type of border controls, and nobody has protested. I have myself several times beeen checked by courteous Swedish border police, without having any reason to complain. On the contrary, I have been pleased to see that the Swedes are doing their best in order to stop criminal activity.

Added on 18.5.2011: Danish minister´s comment:

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

South African energy CEO: "Coal is best, cheapest option"

There seems to be a continuing flow of catastrophic climate change news from Africa ahead of the cop 17 conference to be held in Durban in November. At a recent World Economic Forum Africa conference in Cape Town, South Africa´s president Jacob Zume added his voice to the alarmist cause:

"As a global community, we have no alternative but to respond to the challenges of climate change. They are real, they are life and death. We cannot hesitate, we cannot wait, we need to act now," Zuma said.

Although Zuma and other alarmists got most of the publicity at the conference, it is worth noting that there were at least three moderate and realistic voices:

This is what Brian Dames, CEO of the state-owned power utility company Eskom had to say:

Coal is best, cheapest option says Eskom boss

SA will continue to use coal to generate electricity because this is still the cheapest and quickest option.

Dames said while the price of renewable energy was coming down, Eskom was continuing to build its two coal-fired plants (at Kusile and Medupi) as that was the easiest and most efficient way to deal with energy security.
"Out of 54 countries in Africa only 15 have a power capacity of more than 500MW," Dames said.

"We have a massive energy issue on the continent. It is truly a dark continent."

But he said the government's integrated resource plan (IRP) has a clear view that SA would draw a line on coal investments after Eskom's Kusile power station was completed and then invest in cleaner energy.
"Hence nuclear power then needs to play a role in meeting our energy needs," Dames said.

While Zuma was propagating the alarmist line, the country´s energy minister, Dipuo Peters also had a surprisingly realistic view of its energy future:

She said the IRP, which sets out power-generating plans for the next 20 years, still includes a large percentage of coal-generated power.
"We need to do that with the understanding that we need to mitigate climate change," she said.
"We are working with other (African) governments on research on clean technology for coal-fired power generation. This (coal) is what we know at present and how we can ensure security of supply."

And this from Eskom´s chairman:

Eskom's chairman, Mpho Makwana, who was also one of the co-chairs of this year's WEF on Africa, said only 30% of Africa's one billion people had access to electricity.
"It is impossible to improve education and health systems on the continent without power," said Makwana.

Read the entire article here

Although almost all African political leaders are screaming for climate change aid in order to "save" their continent, it is interesting to note, that there are among the energy decision makers also people with balanced and realistic views, like e.g. the three mentioned above. How refreshing it is to listen to an energy company CEO, who does not feel the need to sugar coat his message with the usual politically correct "green" phrases (as American and European CEOs nowadays usually do).

And Mr. Dames´s company is no small actor in Africa. Here are some facts about Eskom:
  • has 24 power stations with a nominal capacity of 39 872 megawatts
  • is among the top five utilities in the world in terms of size and sales
  • is presently one of the lowest-cost producers of electricity in the world
  • supplies 95% of the country's electricity requirements, which equals more than half of the electricity generated on the African continent

Hillary Clinton: Chinese cannot stop democratic reform

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton´s comments on communist China´s crackdown on human rights and democracy activists are welcome:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says China's effort to hold off the kind of democratic changes that are sweeping the Middle East is a "fool's errand" that is doomed to failure.

The remark came in an interview with The Atlantic magazine that was posted on the Internet Tuesday as she and other U.S. officials met senior Chinese officials in Washington.

In the interview, Clinton was asked whether Chinese officials are frightened by the popular uprisings in the Middle East.

Clinton replied that the
Chinese "are worried, and they are trying to stop history," which she said "is a fool's errand (hopeless cause)."

Clinton added that the Chinese cannot stop democratic reform, "but they are going to hold it off as long as possible."

The Chinese regime almost immediately showed how right Hillary Clinton was:

(Zhengzhou, China – May 10, 2011) While U.S. leaders talked tough on human rights in Washington during an annual bilateral dialogue on economics and security, back in China, authorities continued to crack down on the mainland’s house churches, detaining 49 senior house church leaders Tuesday who were attending a Bible training seminar.

The China Aid Association today said that the 49 leaders have now been released

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The end is near: Global warming threatens British broadband connections!

      UK broadband will be affected if there is another "BBQ summer"?

If you are from the UK, this might be one of the last times you can access this and other websites.  David Cameron´s environment secretary, Caroline Spelman (cons.) today issued a warning that UK broadband connections could be seriously affected in case of a hot summer (due to global warming):

Climate change will disrupt wi-fi connections, cause regular power failures and lead railway lines to buckle unless Britain spends billions of pounds, Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary has warned.
She warned of intense rainfall, droughts and heatwaves in the next 50 to 100 years because of man-made global warming. The signal from wi-fi cannot travel as far when temperatures increase. Heavy downfalls of rain also affect the ability of the device to capture a signal.
"£200 billion is expected to be invested in the UK's infrastructure over the next five years. But if the facilities which support our society cannot cope with floods, droughts or freezing winters then that money will have been wasted."

Read the entire story here

It is interesting to note that there does not seem to be any kind of broadband problems in much hotter places, like e.g. Saudi Arabia:

STC Saudi Arabia increases high speed broadband penetration fivefold

Medvedev, the darling of the West - "a general without an army"

The Washington Post now confirms what this blog said some days ago: Western media speculation about a rift between Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin is pure nonsense.

“I believe there is no competition,” says Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a member of Putin’s United Russia party and a sociologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences who studies the decision-making elite. “Our politics are a theater. There are directors and a script. And for some reason they love it when the public says there are conflicts.”

“I think it’s almost the same as in Soviet times,” says Kryshtanovskaya, who still watches who sits in which government seats. She says that Medvedev only replaced two of the 75 officials he inherited from Putin, a comment on his lack of power and Putin’s reach. “He’s a general without an army,” she says.

Lilia Shevtsova, a mordant critic of the administration and a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center, uses remarkably similar language in reaching a comparable conclusion. “There are no politics,” she says. “Politics exist where you have an independent media, attentive audience and unpredictable script. What’s interesting is that the Kremlin supports this

Medvedev, cast as liberal, appeals to the West, criticizing the capricious judicial system, vowing to combat corruption, calling for modernization of the economy by developing technology and attracting foreign investment. He tweets, he blogs, he flies across the Internet, iPad at hand. But what has he changed? Nothing, his critics answer.
“Mr. Zero,” Shevtsova calls him. “There is no evidence Medvedev represents new, modern, value-oriented and transformative thinking. None.”
Kremlin encourages the talk because it makes it seem as if the election (the 2012 presidential election, NNoN) offers a real choice, instead of what Putin decides.
And the idea of a rift is attractive in the West, which wants optimistic news from Russia and an engaging partner in Medvedev.

Read the entire article here

The ongoing euro crisis: "officials were silent, deceptive or just plain lied"

"Taking the lead on the deception"
"The drive for a single European currency was the ultimate top-down project, an elite vision imposed on highly reluctant voters"
Paul Krugman

The center-left German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung is scathing in its criticism of the way European politicians are handling the euro crisis:

It emerged Sunday, however, that finance ministers from Europe's largest economies, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, have already attended secret meetings several times in order to be able to discretely discuss the euro crisis, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Monday.
The fact that politicians initially denied there was any secret meeting on Friday and then later trying to play down what had been discussed, has led to speculation on the editorial pages of major newspapers in Germany that a second bailout for Greece is likely to come soon.
"Seldom have we seen politicians acting as irresponsibly as they did on Friday evening. In Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Luxembourg, officials were silent, deceptive or just plain lied. And all of that just to keep secret a meeting of a few finance ministers at which -- as would later be said -- only a few opinions were exchanged over Greece ... and where no decisions were made."
"Within a matter of hours, the governments of the euro countries managed to fritter away the last remaining trust the people of Europe still have in the bailout action. Who in the future is supposed to believe that Greece isn't interested in leaving the euro zone if Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the Euro Group, is taking the lead on the deception? First he denies in writing that the finance ministers have even met in Luxembourg. Then he publicly swears his loyalty to Greece. Then it emerges that he personally invited his colleagues to the meeting."

"Any reasonably interested European will now be asking, in astonishment or anger, just how dramatic the situation really is in Greece. Is the country on the verge of bankruptcy despite all the aid and statements to the contrary? That would also mean that another promise would come undone, namely that the Greeks will pay back all the loans to their partners with interest and compound interest. If they don't pay, then taxpayers will definitively get stuck with the bill."
"One thing is certain: Trust can only be regained if there are consequences as a result of Friday's deliberate deception."

Read the entire article here

(image by EU photo service)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Happy Europe Day!

The euro : the future in good hands.

Today we celebrate the Europe Day with a selection of  official EU paintings: "variations on the theme of the euro in the form of watercolours produced for DG Economic and Financial Affairs of the EC, Direction C".

The euro will dispel uncertainties about the future

The euro will strengthen the unity of the European Union.

(images and captions courtesy of  DG Economic and Financial Affairs of the EC, Direction C, 1998)

Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs has recently offered some interesting comments on the "art exhibition". You can of course watch each of the three comments separately, but I found out that listening to all three simultaneosly is actually the most rewarding way to enjoy them.

PS 2
Another Finn, the leader of the recently victorious True Finns party, Mr. Timo Soini, has a somewhat different view of what should, and what should no be done, in order to save the euro. Read Mr. Soini´s article in the Wall Street Journal here.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The New York Times:"At the E.U., Everyone's Talking and No One Is Listening"

The headline of New York Times EU correspondent Stephen Castle´s article, published on the eve of the annual Europe Day celebrations just about tells the true story:

At the E.U., Everyone's Talking and No One Is Listening

BRUSSELS — Seeking to give the European Union a more powerful role on the global stage, the Lisbon Treaty aimed to help it find a united voice on foreign policy.
Yet after Osama bin Laden was killed on Monday, the E.U.’s senior figures put out no fewer than five separate declarations over more than 12 hours. The last of these came from Catherine Ashton, who became the E.U.’s first foreign policy chief almost 18 months ago.
The confusion highlights a flaw in the Lisbon Treaty, which fudged the role of the key E.U. players, giving both Mr. Van Rompuy and Mr. Barroso some role in foreign policy.
In the world of Brussels power politics, officials seem reluctant to take a back seat, even if they know that doing so might be to the greater good of the Union. The result threatens to be a continuing proliferation of words — and less sign than ever that the rest of the world is paying attention.

In its own bizarre way, the Lisbon treaty (the new EU "constitution") actually reflects the reality of disunity within the EU quite well: The constant turf fighting going on in Brussels between the self inflated, unelected EU top bureaucrats makes it much easier for the general public to see this reality.