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Thread: Climate Change

  1. #616

    Default A penny saved is a penny earned

    To all who think ecological and sustainable energy and transportation is fundamentally at odds with profit motivated business; I suggest reading articles and interviews with visionary capitalist Amory Lovins.

  2. #617

    Default most energy venture capital still US based

    If it was true that messing with energy prices was a good idea, I think you'd see most of the venture capital outside the US.

    But the truth is most is still done in the US because we have smart intellectual property laws and we have adequate government funding for basic science. In fact, 1 worry I have about the 2008 budget is the mysterious failure to fund basic science at the level promised in the America Competes Act. If anything causes capital flight from the US, it will be the failure to do the basic science - not the failure to impose currently unattainable requirements on utilities.

    Nanosolar is admittedly taking advantage of solar subsidies in Germany, but they do their research here for a reason. The right answer is to invest in science, allowing high tech immigration, and improve our intellectual property enforcement. Those ingredients will lead to the breakthroughs that will get us out of this mess.

  3. #618


    I posted an article from New York Times titled Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat in Energy thread that is relevant to this thread too

  4. #619
    Senior Member Capn_Birdseye's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Houseboat, Thames, London


    As usual our so-called climate experts don't know what they're talking about, forever contradicting themselves, yet the masses believe their every utterance - unbelieveable!

    Following on Edward's posting:

    Biofuels make climate change worse, scientific study concludes

    JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images
    Workers load harvested sugarcane onto a truck in the central Philippine island of Negros
    Related Articles
    By Steve Connor, Science Editor
    Friday, 8 February 2008

    Growing crops to make biofuels results in vast amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere and does nothing to stop climate change or global warming, according to the first thorough scientific audit of a biofuel's carbon budget.

    Scientists have produced damning evidence to suggest that biofuels could be one of the biggest environmental con-tricks because they actually make global warming worse by adding to the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide that they are supposed to curb. Two separate studies published in the journal Science show that a range of biofuel crops now being grown to produce "green" alternatives to oil-based fossil fuels release far more carbon dioxide into the air than can be absorbed by the growing plants.

    The scientists found that, in the case of some crops, it would take several centuries of growing them to pay off the "carbon debt" caused by their initial cultivation. Those environmental costs do not take into account any extra destruction to the environment, for instance the loss of biodiversity caused by clearing tracts of pristine rainforest.

    "All the biofuels we use now cause habitat destruction, either directly or indirectly. Global agriculture is already producing food for six billion people. Producing food-based biofuel, too, will require that still more land be converted to agriculture," said Joe Fargioine of the US Nature Conservancy who was the lead scientist in one of the studies.

    The scientists carried out the sort of analysis that has been missing in the rush to grow biofuels, encouraged by policies in the United States and Europe where proponents have been keen to extol biofuels' virtues as a green alternative to the fossil fuels used for transport.

    Both studies looked at how much carbon dioxide is released when a piece of land is converted into a biofuel crop. They found that when peat lands in Indonesia are converted into palm-oil plantations, for instance, it would take 423 years to pay off the carbon debt.

    The next worse case was when forested land in the Amazon is cut down to convert into soybean fields. The scientists found that it would take 319 years of making biodiesel from the soybeans to pay of the carbon debt caused by chopping down the trees in the first place.

    Such conversions of land to grow corn (maize) and sugarcane for biodiesel, or palm oil and soybean for bioethanol, release between 17 and 420 times more carbon than the annual savings from replacing fossil fuels, the scientists calculated.

    "This research examines the conversion of land for biofuels and asks the question 'is it worth it?' Does the carbon you lose by converting forests, grasslands and peat lands outweigh the carbon you 'save' by using biofuels instead of fossil fuels?" Dr Fargione said.

    "And surprisingly the answer is 'no'. These natural areas store a lot of carbon, so converting them to croplands results in tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere," he said.

    The demand for biofuels is destroying the environment in other ways. American farmers for instance used to rotate between soybean and corn crops but the demand for biofuel has meant that they are growing corn only. As a result, Brazilian farmers are cutting down forests to grow soybean to meet the shortfall in production.

    "In finding solutions to climate change, we must ensure that the cure is not worse than the disease," said Jimmie Powell, a member of the scientific team at the Nature Conservancy.

    "We cannot afford to ignore the consequences of converting land for biofuels. Doing so means we might unintentionally promote fuel alternatives that are worse than the fossil fuels they are designed to replace. These findings should be incorporated into carbon emission policy going forward," Dr Powell said yesterday.

    The European Union is already having second thoughts about its policy aimed at stimulating the production of biofuel. Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner, admitted last month that the EU did not foresee the scale of the environmental problems raised by Europe's target of deriving 10 per cent of its transport fuel from plant material.

  5. #620


    David Roberts questioning Amory Lovins
    26 Jul 2007

    • Q - Reports out recently cast doubt on the environmental advantages of biofuels. Have you ever reconsidered your support for them?

    • A - You're treating biofuels as generic and I don't think that's appropriate. There are much smarter and much dumber approaches to biofuels, and biofuels do not need to have the problems you refer to.

    • Q - But even cellulosic ethanol has come under criticism lately.

    • A - Not from anyone knowledgeable that I'm aware of. Unless of course you need such large quantities of it, because you have such inefficient vehicles, that you start getting in land-use trouble.

      We suggest that U.S. mobility fuels could be provided without displacing any food crops. You could do it just with switchgrass and the like on conservation reserve land. Being a perennial, which can even be grown in polyculture, switchgrass and its relatives would hold the soil better because they're much deeper rooted than the shallow-rooted annuals with which that erosion-prone land is often planted. And of course the perennials don't need any cultivation or other inputs.

      Just a few weeks ago my colleagues and I led the redesign of a cellulosic ethanol plant -- we were able to cut out very large fractions of its energy and capital need by designing it differently. There are other process innovations we're aware of that would achieve similar results. I would not write off biofuels at all.

    I think we can all agree that cutting down mature rain forest to grow sugar cane to produce ethanol or for any reason is a bad idea, just as using petro-fertilizers and petro-pesticides to grow corn to produce ethanol is an equally bad idea.

    A telling quote from the above article:
    The demand for biofuels is destroying the environment in other ways. American farmers for instance used to rotate between soybean and corn crops but the demand for biofuel has meant that they are growing corn only. As a result, Brazilian farmers are cutting down forests to grow soybean to meet the shortfall in production.
    The so-called "demand" for biofuel is a government subsidy.
    Last edited by Jasonik; February 8th, 2008 at 07:12 PM.

  6. #621

    Default proves we should do research, not cap and trade

    This issue with corn ethanol just proves the point that right now, we don't have the technology to solve global warming. We should do research on things like cellolosic ethanol and fusion, and when we have a solution, we can figure out the right way to deploy to the market place.

    By the way, I think fusion is a better solution than biofuels. Battery technology will improve to the point you don't need liquid fuels for cars, and fusion consumes a lot fewer resources in terms of land than agriculture or even artificial solar powerw. Even today, I think conventional fission is much less environmentally detrimental than most renewable forms of energy (assuming the plant is appropriately designed to resist a Chernobyl style accident).

  7. #622


    ... Lockwood and Froehlich’s study … [found] that the correlation between solar activity and temperature trends post-1985 is actually negative. This means that changes to the sun (including cosmic ray intensity, for that matter) have contributed Less than Zero to the recent sharp rise in average global temperatures.

    … The inaptly so-named ‘climate sceptics’ who are keen to let mankind off the global warming hook, will not easily abandon this battle-tried warhorse.
    A natural sun-climate link, albeit invisible and unverifiable, is just the most persuasive among the set of quasi-plausible arguments with which upright eco-optimists attempt to dismiss as a (left-wing? anti-liberal?) conspiracy theory mankind’s responsibility for global warming. …

    To further confuse things and the public, solar changes do seem to have had an impact on past climates. Moreover, it is at least not impossible that cosmic ray intensity does influences clouds and climate. There’s nothing wrong with investigating these things –

    ... But blaming the sun for recent global warming is no science-backed position anymore – it is deliberate disinformation.

    Quirin Schiermeier
    German Correspondent

    Nature 448, 8-9 (5 July 2007) | doi:10.1038/448008a; Published online 4 July 2007

    No solar hiding place for greenhouse sceptics

    Quirin Schiermeier

    A study has confirmed that there are no grounds to blame the Sun for recent global warming.[COLOR="Red"][I] The analysis shows that global warming since 1985 has been caused neither by an increase in solar radiation nor by a decrease in the flux of galactic cosmic rays (M. Lockwood and C. Fröhlich Proc. R. Soc. A doi:10.1098/rspa.2007.1880; 2007*). Some researchers had suggested that the latter might influence global warming through an involvement in cloud formation.

    “This paper is the final nail in the coffin for people who would like to make the Sun responsible for present global warming,” says Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

    Claims that the Sun, rather than raised levels of greenhouse gases, has been responsible for recent warming have persisted in a small number of scientists and in parts of the media. Mike Lockwood, a physicist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Chilton, UK, says he was “galvanized” to carry out the comprehensive study by misleading media reports. He cites ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’, a television programme shown in March by Britain’s Channel 4, as a prime example.

    Together with Claus Fröhlich of the World Radiation Center in Davos, Switzerland, Lockwood brought together solar data for the past 100 years. The two researchers averaged out the 11-year solar cycles and looked for correlation between solar variation and global mean temperatures. Solar activity peaked between 1985 and 1987. Since then, trends in solar irradiance, sunspot number and cosmic-ray intensity have all been in the opposite direction to that required to explain global warming.

    In 1997, Henrik Svensmark, a physicist at the Danish NationalSpace Center in Copenhagen, suggested that cosmic rays facilitate cloud formation by seeding the atmosphere with trails of ions that can help water droplets form (H. Svensmark and E. J. Friis-Christensen J. Atmos. Solar-Terrest. Phys. 59, 1225–1232; 1997). He proposed that, as a result of this, changes in the Sun’s magnetic field that influence the flux of cosmic rays could affect Earth’s climate.This led to claims that cosmic rays are the main influence on modern climate change.

    Even in the face of the new analysis, Svensmark insists that solar theories should not be dismissed. “If you look at temperatures in the troposphere, there is a remarkable correlation with solar activity,” he says. Lockwood insists that none of the tropospheric data show the trend that the solar theory would need.

    Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who has championed a Sun–climate link, argues that there may be a lag in Earth’s reaction tothe Sun because of the thermal inertia of the oceans.

    But other climate researchers find the idea of a ‘hidden’ time lag unconvincing. “With each year, and with each new set of data that comes in, a time lag becomes ever more unlikely,”says Urs Neu,deputy head of ProClim-, the climate and global change forum of the Swiss Academy of Sciences in Bern.

    On other timescales, however, Sun–climate links may remain worthy of study. “Climate change is a cocktail of many effects,” says Jasper Kirkby, a physicist at CERN, the European particle-physics laboratory near Geneva in Switzerland, who is leading an experiment aimed at simulating the effect of cosmic rays on clouds. “past climate changes have clearly been associated with solar activity. Even if this is not the case now, it is still important to understand how solar variability affects climate.”

    Ken Carslaw, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Leeds, UK points out that solar effects might still be possible. They might have acted to cool the climate in recent decades, but been overwhelmed. If so, the climate could be more sensitive to greenhouse gases than is generally thought, and future temperature increases might be greater than expected if a countervailing solar-effect comes to an end.

    © 2007 Nature Publishing Group

    Subscription Version Above – Click here to buy copy or obtain information to request use.

    * - USE THIS LINK to Download and View Adobe PDF version of M. Lockwood and C. Fröhlich Proc. R. Soc. A doi:10.1098/rspa.2007.1880; 2007


  8. #623


    The Sun Also Sets

    Posted Thursday, February 07, 2008 4:20 PM PT

    Climate Change: Not every scientist is part of Al Gore's mythical "consensus." Scientists worried about a new ice age seek funding to better observe something bigger than your SUV — the sun.

    Back in 1991, before Al Gore first shouted that the Earth was in the balance, the Danish Meteorological Institute released a study using data that went back centuries that showed that global temperatures closely tracked solar cycles.

    To many, those data were convincing. Now, Canadian scientists are seeking additional funding for more and better "eyes" with which to observe our sun, which has a bigger impact on Earth's climate than all the tailpipes and smokestacks on our planet combined.

    And they're worried about global cooling, not warming.

    Kenneth Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, is among those looking at the sun for evidence of an increase in sunspot activity.

    Solar activity fluctuates in an 11-year cycle. But so far in this cycle, the sun has been disturbingly quiet. The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century.

    Such an event occurred in the 17th century. The observation of sunspots showed extraordinarily low levels of magnetism on the sun, with little or no 11-year cycle.

    This solar hibernation corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. Frigid winters and cold summers during that period led to massive crop failures, famine and death in Northern Europe.

    Tapping reports no change in the sun's magnetic field so far this cycle and warns that if the sun remains quiet for another year or two, it may indicate a repeat of that period of drastic cooling of the Earth, bringing massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere.

    Tapping oversees the operation of a 60-year-old radio telescope that he calls a "stethoscope for the sun." But he and his colleagues need better equipment.

    In Canada, where radio-telescopic monitoring of the sun has been conducted since the end of World War II, a new instrument, the next-generation solar flux monitor, could measure the sun's emissions more rapidly and accurately.

    As we have noted many times, perhaps the biggest impact on the Earth's climate over time has been the sun.

    For instance, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar Research in Germany report the sun has been burning more brightly over the last 60 years, accounting for the 1 degree Celsius increase in Earth's temperature over the last 100 years.

    R. Timothy Patterson, professor of geology and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Center of Canada's Carleton University, says that "CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet's climate on long, medium and even short time scales."

    Rather, he says, "I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of energy on this planet."

    Patterson, sharing Tapping's concern, says: "Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth."

    "Solar activity has overpowered any effect that CO2 has had before, and it most likely will again," Patterson says. "If we were to have even a medium-sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than 'global warming' would have had."

    In 2005, Russian astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov made some waves — and not a few enemies in the global warming "community" — by predicting that the sun would reach a peak of activity about three years from now, to be accompanied by "dramatic changes" in temperatures.

    A Hoover Institution Study a few years back examined historical data and came to a similar conclusion.

    "The effects of solar activity and volcanoes are impossible to miss. Temperatures fluctuated exactly as expected, and the pattern was so clear that, statistically, the odds of the correlation existing by chance were one in 100," according to Hoover fellow Bruce Berkowitz.

    The study says that "try as we might, we simply could not find any relationship between industrial activity, energy consumption and changes in global temperatures."

    The study concludes that if you shut down all the world's power plants and factories, "there would not be much effect on temperatures."

    But if the sun shuts down, we've got a problem. It is the sun, not the Earth, that's hanging in the balance.

  9. #624

    Default little ice age could have been volcanic activity

    There were unusually few sunspots during the Little Ice Age but many people believe volcanic activity played a part as well.

  10. #625


    As far back as the mid-1990s, there were those who noted that climate sceptics/skeptics - while accusing any and all that supported the Global Warming thesis in the scientific community were really soliciting the funding for pet projects - were themselves actively funded, from government and business interests in USA and UK. The latter funding was not hard to find, but often disguised in the manner in which it was doled out.

    Professor Richard Lindzen, for instance, populariser of the 'alarmist' label applied to all proponents of Global Warming, was prominent in the formation of Bush/Cheney Environmental policy. "The Heat is On," which began as an essay in Harper's that developed into a book, cite a few of many examples that provide an early glimpse of this lucrative period for climate sceptics/skeptics:

    The Heat is On:
    The warming of the world's climate sparks a blaze of denial

    By Ross Gelbspan.
    Harper's Magazine

    December, 1995

    But while the skeptics portray themselves as besieged truth-seekers fending off irresponsible environmental doomsayers, their testimony in St. Paul and elsewhere revealed the source and scope of their funding for the first time.

    [Pat] Michaels has received more than $115,000 over the last four years from coal and energy interests. World Climate Review, a quarterly he founded that routinely debunks climate concerns, was funded by Western Fuels.

    Over the last six years, either alone or with colleagues, [Dr. Robert] Balling has received more than $200,000 from coal and oil interests in Great Britain, Germany, and elsewhere.

    [Dr. Robert] Balling (along with [Dr.] Sherwood Idso) has also taken money from Cyprus Minerals, a mining company that has been a major funder of People for the West—a militantly anti-environmental "Wise Use" group.

    [Dr. Richard] Lindzen, for his part, charges oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services; his 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels, and a speech he wrote, entitled "Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus," was underwritten by OPEC.

    [Dr. S. Fred] Singer, who last winter proposed a $95,000 publicity project to "stem the tide towards ever more onerous controls on energy use," has received consulting fees from Exxon, Shell, Unocal, ARCO, and Sun Oil, and has warned them that they face the same threat as the chemical firms that produced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a class of chemicals found to be depleting atmospheric ozone. "It took only five years to go from... a simple freeze of production [of CFCs]," Singer has written" ... to the 1992 decision of a complete production phase-out—all on the basis of quite insubstantial science." ...

    (Originally © by The Harper's Magazine Foundation)

    NOTE - Above text has been reformatted for readability. CLICK HERE for Source.

  11. #626

    Default Exxon Oil and Climate Sceptics/Skeptics Part 1

    We're going to continue to support groups that we think have good scientists involved. The fact that they take a contrary view I don't view to be bad.

    Rex Tillerson
    [Exxon Mobil is] the only principled oil and gas company I know in the US. They have a CEO who is not going to be bamboozled by nonsense.

    Richard Lindzen
    PROFESSOR MIT and Skeptic of Global Warming
    Science climate conflict warms up

    By Lesley Curwen
    One Planet, BBC World Service

    Last Updated: 26 April 2007

    But other scientific opinion backs the argument that much of the warming happens because of natural cycles, not greenhouse gases.


    And Exxon Mobil has been accused of backing groups that support the minority opinion, against what is seen as the main consensus. It confirms it backs the Heartland Institute, for example, which describes global warming science as a "fraud."

    In 2005 Exxon Mobil's chairman and chief executive, Rex Tillerson defended funding such groups.

    "We're going to continue to support groups that we think have good scientists involved," he said.

    "The fact that they take a contrary view I don't view to be bad."

    This attitude has strong backing from Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who describes Exxon Mobil as "the only principled oil and gas company I know in the US."

    "They have a CEO who is not going to be bamboozled by nonsense," he adds.

    Professor Lindzen wants the debate on global warming kept alive. He also describes the Royal Society letter as a "disgrace," adding "they don't know what they're talking about."


    © BBC World Service


  12. #627

    Default Exxon Oil and Climate Sceptics/Skeptics Part 2

    Digging In
    Exxon Chief Makes A Cold Calculation On Global Warming
    BP and Shell Concede Ground As Raymond Funds Skeptics And Fights Emission Caps ...

    Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
    June 14, 2005

    ANNANDALE, N.J. -- At Exxon Mobil Corp.'s laboratories here, there isn't a solar panel or windmill in sight. About the closest Exxon's scientists get to "renewable" energy is perfecting an oil that Exxon could sell to companies operating wind turbines.

    Oil giants such as BP PLC and Royal Dutch/Shell Group are trumpeting a better-safe-than-sorry approach to global warming. They accept a growing scientific consensus that fossil fuels are a main contributor to the problem and endorse the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which caps emissions from developed nations that have ratified it. BP and Shell also have begun to invest in alternatives to fossil fuels.

    Not Exxon.
    Openly and unapologetically, the world's No. 1 oil company disputes the notion that fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming. Along with the Bush administration, Exxon opposes the Kyoto accord and the very idea of capping global-warming emissions. Congress is debating an energy bill that may be amended to include a cap, but the administration and Exxon say the costs would be huge and the benefits uncertain. Exxon also contributes money to think tanks and other groups that agree with its stance.

    Exxon publicly predicts that solar and wind energy will continue to provide less than 1% of the world's energy supply in 2025, a subject that others shy away from. Even if fossil fuels are the chief global-warming culprit, Exxon argues, the sensible response is to figure out how to burn them more efficiently.

    "We're not playing the issue. I'm not sure I can say that about others," Lee Raymond, Exxon's chairman and chief executive, said in a recent interview at Exxon headquarters in Irving, Texas. "I get this question a lot of times: 'Why don't you just go spend $50 million on solar cells? Charge it off to the public-affairs budget and just say it's like another dry hole?' The answer is: That's not the way we do things."

    The 66-year-old Mr. Raymond has emerged as the tallest lightning rod in the debate over global warming. At a London oil-industry dinner in February where he was the guest of honor, Greenpeace protesters poured red wine onto tables and called Mr. Raymond the "No. 1 climate criminal." Mr. Raymond, speaking on the same day the Kyoto treaty took effect, stuck by his prepared speech and called for a "reality check" on the treaty.

    Exxon's approach to global warming typifies the bottom-line focus of its entire business. It is slogging away to improve the energy efficiency of its refineries -- primarily to cut costs, although this is also shaving global-warming emissions. But it says the business case for making more sweeping changes is still weak. It's a conservative, hard-nosed approach that has helped make Exxon the most profitable oil company in the world, with 2004 net income of $25 billion.

    Even at its Annandale research lab, Exxon's focus is on adapting and improving fossil fuels -- not replacing them. Its researchers are trying to make cars burn fuel more efficiently and reduce emissions. Some futurists, and the Bush administration, think cars could run on hydrogen some day. Exxon is looking into the idea but puts its research dollars into extracting hydrogen from petroleum, not from water.

    A growing chorus of critics says Exxon's strategy is short-sighted. As nations crack down on global-warming emissions, they argue, the foundation of the oil business is threatened because carbon dioxide, the chief suspected global-warming gas, is produced whenever fossil fuel is burned.

    "There are two possible scenarios. One is that all the scientists in the world are wrong, in which case there's no climate change, in which case Exxon will do well," says Andrew Logan of Ceres, a Boston-based environmental group that's trying to put shareholder pressure on Exxon to go greener. "But if the scientists are correct and we have to find a way to transform the way we use energy, then Exxon is going to lag significantly behind its competitors."

    Exxon isn't ignoring global warming. Besides its research in New Jersey, it has pledged $100 million over a decade for research at Stanford University into what it calls breakthrough "mega-technologies." Among them: capturing carbon dioxide after it's emitted and burying it deep underground. The Stanford researchers are also looking at ways to slash the cost of renewable energy. Exxon believes that if global warming really is a significant environmental problem, the only serious answer will be simple alternatives that even developing nations such as China and India can afford.

    Though Exxon is touting the size of its Stanford investment in a new ad campaign, $100 million represents less than two days of Exxon's earnings. Shell says it has spent about $1.5 billion since 1999 building a business in renewable energy, mostly solar and wind power. BP says it has spent $500 million on solar since 2000 and about $30 million on wind over the past three years. Both Shell and BP continue to invest the overwhelming majority of their money in finding and pumping oil and gas.

    Their renewable-energy investments are hardly big money makers. BP says its solar business has turned a profit but not its wind business. Shell says wind makes money but not solar. Both say short-term profits aren't the point. Enough is known about the likely contribution of fossil fuels to global warming, they reason, that it's prudent to start diversifying now as a kind of insurance policy. It's "all about growing a business," says Robert Wine, a BP spokesman.

    Mr. Raymond disagrees. Spending shareholders' money to diversify into businesses that aren't yet profitable -- and that aim to solve a problem his scientists believe may not be significant -- strikes the Exxon chief as a sloppy way to run a company. "If I were to ask you if you want to buy an insurance policy, you've got to ask yourself a couple questions. No. 1, what are you trying to insure against? And No. 2, what are you willing to pay on the premium? And I haven't heard a very good answer to either one of those," he says.

    In the late 1970s, as oil prices skyrocketed, Exxon diversified into an array of fossil-fuel alternatives, including nuclear and solar energy. In 1983 it opened the lab here in Annandale, a sprawling brick complex with 19 acres of interior space.

    But after several years, Exxon still couldn't see prospects for renewable energy turning into a money-maker, especially since oil prices were falling in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the company decided to get out of the business and tapped Mr. Raymond, a South Dakota native then in his 40s, to oversee the retrenchment. "I was sent to clean it all up," he recalls. "What all these people are thinking about doing, we did 20 years ago -- and spent $1 billion, in dollars of that day, to find out that none of these were economic," he says. "That's why I feel so strongly about it -- because I've been there and I've done that."

    In 1988, the United Nations established a panel of scientists to study whether the science justified clamping down on greenhouse-gas emissions, so called because they are thought to create a blanket in the atmosphere that traps reflected heat from the Earth's surface just as a greenhouse locks in heat. The panel's conclusions helped spawn the Kyoto treaty.

    Exxon had already hired a Harvard astrophysicist named Brian Flannery in 1980 to look into global warming using mathematical models. In 1987, he was joined in the climate-science group by Haroon Kheshgi, a chemical engineer who had come to Exxon the previous year and had earlier worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Over the next several years the pair dug deeper into global-warming research and Exxon made grants to several prestigious universities, starting with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Flannery says he told the MIT researchers: "Embrace the uncertainty in all of this."

    On Mr. Kheshgi's office wall are pictures of a climbing trip he took to a Peruvian glacier in 1987. He has also climbed glaciers in New Zealand, where he notes glaciers are receding. But he insists it's not clear that human-induced emissions are the explanation. The link is "not that simple," he says.

    Messrs. Flannery and Kheshgi were among the scores of scientists who helped write the U.N. panel's latest broad assessment of climate science, published in 2001. It said atmospheric concentrations of CO2 had jumped by 31% since the start of the industrial age and the 1990s were "very likely the warmest decade in instrumental record." Most of the observed warming of the past 50 years, it said, is "likely" the result of "human activities." Still, the panel said, models of climate change remain a work in progress. Among the remaining uncertainties it cited is to what extent "natural factors" unrelated to human activity play a role.

    The Exxon scientists say they agree with much of the assessment. But they argue that policy makers often disregard the uncertainties noted in it. In 2003, Mr. Kheshgi and a University of Illinois scientist published a paper in an American Geophysical Union journal arguing that oceans, plants and soil suck up more of the carbon dioxide emitted from fossil-fuel burning than previously thought. As a result, the paper said, models that predict a big buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere need to be rethought.

    That's the kind of research Mr. Raymond, himself a chemical engineer, likes to cite. "Our view is it's yet to be shown how much of this is really related to the activities of man," he says. "The world has gone through many cycles of climate change that man had nothing to do with, because man didn't exist."

    Messrs. Flannery and Kheshgi argue in their papers for more research into how the world can live with, rather than avoid, the effects of global warming. That concept, known as "adaptation," worries some environmentalists because they fear it will deflect attention from reducing fossil-fuel emissions. But it's one of the subjects that the U.N. climate-change panel has studied, and Mr. Kheshgi argues it's only prudent. "Climate change might pose serious risks," he says. "But it might not."

    Even some who advocate stricter curbs on emissions profess respect for Exxon's scientific work. "These are smart guys who shoot straight. I'm generally pretty impressed that their science is above-board and serious," says David Victor, who heads an energy-policy research program at Stanford. The program receives money from BP but isn't part of Stanford's Exxon-funded program.

    But most scientists take an approach to global warming that is fundamentally different from Exxon's: They choose to emphasize what is known, rather than what isn't. They believe it's clear by now that fossil-fuel emissions are warming the earth and leading to dangerous consequences -- or clear enough, anyway, that it's more prudent to act than to wait until the science is airtight.

    Last week representatives of scientific societies from 11 countries, including the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S., released an open letter saying global warming is prompting changes "such as rising sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems." The letter said humans are likely to blame and called the science "sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action."

    What particularly riles the green movement is Exxon's funding of several groups that continue to argue that the science doesn't justify caps. Among them is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which received a total of $465,000 in 2003 from Exxon and the company's charitable foundation, according to a corporate-giving report that Exxon posts on its Web site.

    The antiregulatory Washington think tank has long opposed calls for a cap. Last week, one of its senior fellows, Iain Murray, wrote a column on a Web site calling the recent letter by the science academies an example of "climate alarmism" that has "needlessly thrown away the academies' reputations for unbiased information."

    Several years ago, the institute filed a lawsuit against the Clinton administration challenging a report the administration had released highlighting concerns about global warming. Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe also was among the parties to the suit. Sen. Inhofe has called the idea that fossil fuels are contributing to global warming a "hoax."

    What does Exxon's Mr. Flannery think about that? "If they're expressing a view that there's no risk that needs to be addressed, then yes, we would disagree with that," he says.

    For his part, Mr. Raymond downplays the importance of the money Exxon spends on groups that talk up doubts about climate science and climate caps. "The facts are you don't have to spend a lot of money to aggravate the proponents," he says. But he doesn't apologize for Exxon's role in keeping the debate alive.

    "We think we have a responsibility," he says.
    "If we think people are about to make some bad policy decisions that are going to have a big impact for a long period of time, somebody's got to say something."

    Copyright © 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved


  13. #628

    Default Exxon Oil and Climate Sceptics/Skeptics Part 3

    Exxon cuts ties to global warming skeptics
    Oil giant also in talks to look at curbing greenhouse gases

    MSNBC staff and news service reports
    updated 12:42 p.m. MT, Fri., Jan. 12, 2007

    NEW YORK - Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp. is engaging in industry talks on possible U.S. greenhouse gas emissions regulations and has stopped funding groups skeptical of global warming claims — moves that some say could indicate a change in stance from the long-time foe of limits on heat-trapping gases.

    Exxon, along with representatives from about 20 other companies, is participating in talks sponsored by Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit. The think tank said it expected the talks would generate a report in the fall with recommendations to legislators on how to regulate greenhouse emissions.

    Mark Boudreaux, a spokesman for Exxon, the world’s biggest publicly traded company, said its position on climate change has been “widely misunderstood and as a result of that, we have been clarifying and talking more about what our position is.”

    Boudreux said Exxon in 2006 stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit advocating limited government regulation, and other groups that have downplayed the risks of greenhouse emissions.

    CEI acknowledged the change. “I would make an argument that we’re a useful ally, but it’s up to them whether that’s in the priority system that they have, right or wrong,” director Fred Smith said on CNBC’s “On the Money.”

    Last year, CEI ran advertisements, featuring a little girl playing with a dandelion, that downplayed the risks of carbon dioxide emissions.

    Since Democrats won control of Congress in November, heavy industries have been nervously watching which route the United States may take on future regulations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists link to global warming. …

    President Bush has opposed mandatory emissions cuts such as those required by the international Kyoto Protocol. He withdrew the United States, the world’s top carbon emitter, from the Kyoto pact early in his first term.

    Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the new Senate majority leader, has said he wants new legislation this spring to regulate heat-trapping emissions. Other legislators also are planning hearings on emissions.

    Scenarios studied
    The industry talks center on the range of greenhouse gas policy options such as cap-and-trade systems and carbon taxes, said Roy Kopp, head of the climate program at RFF. There also will be debates on whether rules should focus on companies producing oil, gas and coal, which release CO2 when burned, or consumers who use the fuels.

    To spur open industry discussion, RFF said the talks, which began in December, exclude nongovernmental organizations.

    Some see Exxon’s participation in the talks, coupled with its pledge to stop funding CEI, as early signs of a possible policy change.

    “The fact that Exxon is trying to debate solutions, instead of whether climate change even exists, represents an important shift,” said Andrew Logan, a climate expert at Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmentalists that works with companies to cut climate change risks.

    Exxon’s funding action was confirmed this week by its vice president for public affairs. Kenneth Cohen told the Wall Street Journal that Exxon decided in late 2005 that its 2006 nonprofit funding would not include CEI and "five or six" similar groups.

    Cohen declined to identify the other groups, but their names could become public this spring when Exxon releases its annual list of donations to nonprofit groups.

    Scoring oil
    In a report last year on how oil majors are addressing global warming emissions, Ceres gave Exxon a 35 — the worst of any company. Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell got 90 and 79, respectively.

    “Given how large and influential Exxon is and that they are basically the last big industry climate skeptic standing, even small moves can have a very big impact,” said Logan.

    But he said it was too early to tell the substance of the change. “The devil is in the details,” he said.

    Cohen told the Wall Street Journal that while questions remain about the degree to which fossil fuels are contributing to warming, the computer modelling on what the future may hold “has gotten better.”

    And, he said, “we know enough now — or, society knows enough now — that the risk is serious and action should be taken.”

    Peter Fusaro, a carbon markets expert, noted that Exxon already must comply with Kyoto regulations in other countries, and said the company may want to simplify compliance standards throughout its international operations.

    “Multinational companies are under the gun to comply with Kyoto,” he said. “It’s starting to crystallize that companies can’t have dual environmental standards.”

    Philip Sharp, president of Resources for the Future, told the Wall Street Journal that he was impressed by Exxon. “They are taking this debate very seriously,” said Sharp, a former Democratic congressman. “My personal opinion of them has changed by watching them operate.”

    Reuters contributed to this report.

    © 2008 Microsoft / National Broadcasting Corporation


  14. #629
    Senior Member Capn_Birdseye's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Houseboat, Thames, London


    I see the Global Warming zealots have decided to take the law into their own hands in their obsessional desire to drive us back to basic living - reminds me of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in Cambodia with their Year Zero!

    Love the quote: "climate change can be beaten" - oh yea, and I've just seen a giant pig fly by my window!
    These law-breakers should be hauled before the courts and given a good long stiff sentence for endangering public safety at Heathrow.

    Four protesters climbed on top of the plane

    Greenpeace activists have breached security at Heathrow Airport and climbed on top of a Boeing aeroplane.

    Protesters unfurled banners from the top of the Boeing 777 after it landed at the airport on a morning flight from Manchester to London.
    BAA said operations at the airport were not affected and described the protest as "unlawful and irresponsible".

    The move came as protesters were gathering in Westminster on Monday to oppose plans to expand the airport.

    A government consultation on the plan closes on Wednesday.
    "We are here to draw a line in the sand and tell Gordon Brown his new runway must not and will not be built"
    Anna Jones, Greenpeace activist (ever heard of democracy Anna?)

    Greenpeace said protesters put a banner reading "Climate Emergency - No Third Runway" over the plane's tailfin at about 0945 GMT.

    It said two women and two men crossed the tarmac at the airport after the passengers had disembarked.

    One protester, Anna Jones, said: "Our planet and the people who live on it are in danger.

    "Climate change can be beaten but not by almost doubling the size of the world's biggest airport.

    "We are here to draw a line in the sand and tell Gordon Brown his new runway must not and will not be built."

    BAA said police were attending the incident but it had not disrupted airport operations.

    It said: "The government is currently consulting on the future of Heathrow airport and all parties have the opportunity, through the proper democratic process, to make their views known."

    But it criticised the Greenpeace protest as "unlawful and irresponsible" and said there would be a full investigation.

    Heathrow expansion plans unveiled

    Heathrow congestion

    Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has set out proposals for a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow.
    Announcing options for consultation, she said without growth the airport's status would suffer, but any expansion must meet noise and pollution tests.
    Among options are a 2,200m third runway built north of Heathrow by 2020, and a sixth terminal, which will require the destruction of an entire village.

    Last edited by Capn_Birdseye; February 25th, 2008 at 07:55 AM.

  15. #630


    Quote Originally Posted by Capn_Birdseye View Post
    These law-breakers should be hauled before the courts and given a good long stiff sentence for endangering public safety at Heathrow.
    They should be given a bill for, a)the time spent in getting them out of there, and b) the time spent on having to check the aircraft for damage.

    Makes you wonder how they got there though.

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