December 28, 2012

Three Scenarios

CSIS-CNAS: Security Implications of Climate Change

Summaries of the Three Scenarios

Climate Scenario 1: Expected Climate Change

By 2040 average global temperature rises 1.3°C above the 1990 average.
Warming is greater over land masses and increases from low to high latitudes.

Generally, the most damaging local impacts occur at
  • low latitudes because of ecosystem sensitivity to altered climate and high human vulnerability in developing countries, and
  • in the Arctic because of particularly large temperature changes at high northern latitudes.

Global mean sea level increases by 0.23 meters, causing
  • damage to the most vulnerable coastal wetlands with associated negative impacts on local fisheries,
  • seawater intrusion into groundwater supplies in low-lying coastal areas and small islands, and
  • elevated storm surge and tsunami heights, damaging unprotected coastlines.
Many of the affected areas have large, vulnerable populations requiring international assistance to cope with or escape the effects of sea level rise.
Marine fisheries and agricultural zones shift poleward in response to warming, in some cases moving across international boundaries.
The North Atlantic MOC is not affected significantly. …

The largest and most widespread impacts relate to reductions in water availability and increases in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
The Mediterranean region, sub-Saharan Africa, northern Mexico, and the southwestern United States experience more frequent and longer-lasting drought and associated extreme heat events, in addition to forest loss from increased insect damage and wildfires.

[Northern] mid-latitudes see a mix of benefits and damages.
Benefits include
  • reduced cost of winter heating,
  • decreased mortality and injury from cold exposure, and
  • increased agricultural and forest productivity in wetter regions because of longer growing seasons, CO2 fertilization, and fewer freezes.
Negative consequences include
  • higher cost of summer cooling,
  • more heavy rainfall events,
  • more heat-related death and illness, and
  • more intense storms with associated flooding, wind damage, and loss of life, property, and infrastructure.

Climate Scenario 2: Severe Climate Change

Average global surface temperature rises at an unexpectedly rapid rate to 2.6°C above 1990 levels by 2040 …

[The] rate of [polar] ice flow into the sea [accelerates] rapidly, resulting in 0.52 meters of global mean sea level rise.
[There is] high confidence that the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets have become unstable and that 4 to 6 meters of sea level rise are now inevitable over the next few centuries.

Water availability decreases strongly in the most affected regions at lower latitudes (dry tropics and subtropics), affecting about 2 billion people worldwide. …
Crop yields decline significantly in the fertile river deltas because of sea level rise and damage from increased storm surges.
Agriculture becomes nonviable in the dry subtropics [due to:]
  • low water availability and
  • increased soil salinization resulting from more rapid evaporation of water from irrigated fields.
Arid regions at low latitudes expand, taking previously marginally productive croplands out of production.
(p 42)

North Atlantic fisheries are affected by significant slowing of the North Atlantic MOC.
Globally, there is
  • widespread coral bleaching,
  • ocean acidification,
  • substantial loss of coastal nursery wetlands, and
  • warming and drying of tributaries that serve as breeding grounds for anadromous fish (ie, ocean-dwelling fish that breed in freshwater, eg, salmon).
Because of a dramatic decrease in the extent of Arctic sea ice, the Arctic marine ecosystem is dramatically altered and the Arctic Ocean is navigable for much of the year.

Developing nations at lower latitudes are affected most severely because of climate sensitivity and low adaptive capacity.
Industrialized nations to the north experience clear net harm and must divert greater proportions of their wealth to adapting to climate change at home.

Climate Scenario 3: Catastrophic Climate Change

Between 2040 and 2100 the impacts associated with climate scenario two progress and large-scale singular events of abrupt climate change occur.
The average global temperature rises to 5.6°C above 1990 levels …
[Mean] sea level rises [of] 2 meters [render] low-lying coastal regions uninhabitable, including many large coastal cities.
The large fertile deltas of the world become largely uncultivable [as] inundation and more frequent and higher storm surges … reach further inland.

The North Atlantic MOC stops at mid-century, generating large-scale collapse of North Atlantic marine ecosystems and associated fisheries.
Northwestern Europe experiences colder winters, shorter growing seasons, and reduced crop yields …
[Globally, the] MOC collapse increases average temperatures in most regions and reorganizes precipitation patterns in unpredictable ways, hampering water resource planning around the world and drying out existing grain-exporting regions.
Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region … continue to experience hotter, drier summers with more heat waves, more frequent and larger wildfires, and lower crop yields.

Agriculture in the traditional breadbaskets is severely compromised by alternating persistent drought and extreme storm events that bring irregular severe flooding.
Crops are physiologically stressed by temperatures and grow more slowly …
Even in … regions with increased precipitation, summertime soil moisture is reduced by increased evaporation.
Breadbasket-like climates shift strongly northward into formerly sub-arctic regions with … little infrastructure …
[Extreme] year-to-year climate variability … makes sustainable [agriculture] difficult on the scale needed to feed the world population.

Mountain glaciers are virtually gone and annual snow pack dramatically reduced in regions where large human populations [have] relied on glaciers and annual snowfall for water supply and storage, including Central Asia, the Andes, Europe, and western North America.
[The] area requiring remote water sources for habitability [increases] dramatically [as] such remote sources [become] less available.
{Half of the world’s human population experiences persistent water scarcity.}

Arid regions expand rapidly, overtaking regions [previously able] to support dense populations.
The dry subtropics, including the Mediterranean region, much of Central Asia, northern Mexico, much of South America, and the southwestern United States are no longer [habitable.]
(p 43)

[Tropical] and mid-latitude storm activity and associated wind and flood damage becomes much more intense and occurs annually, leading to frequent losses of life, property, and infrastructure in many countries every year.

[Water] availability and loss of food security disproportionately affect poor countries at lower latitudes …
[However,] extreme weather events are more or less evenly distributed, with perhaps greater frequency at mid-latitudes because of stronger extratropical storm systems, including severe winter storms.
(p 44)

December 27, 2012

Carbon Capture and Storage

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Anna Krien:
The Galilee Basin has been divided into nine proposed mega-mines.
Australia is currently the world's second-largest exporter of coal.
At full production, [Gautam Adani's proposed Carmichael mine in] the Galilee Basin is expected to double Australia's coal exports to more than 600 million tonnes a year.
Once Adani begins, the rest will follow — they are:
  • Chinese-owned MacMines Austasia,
  • Brazilian giant Vale,
  • Germany's Hans Mende's AMCI,
  • Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal, and
  • GVK Hancock, a joint project of Gina Rinehart and Indian billionaire G V Krishna Reddy.
The coal seam would, when burnt, blow up to [10%] of the world's total [2°C] carbon budget …
[Australia represents around one third of one percent of the total world population.]
(p 16)

Queensland is Australia's largest coal exporter.
It has five working coal regions:
  • the Bowen Basin in central Queensland and
  • the Surat, Clarence-Moreton, Tarong and Callide basins in southeast Queensland. …
There are 50 coalmines currently operating … and a further 21, including in the Galilee Basin, in the pipeline.
(p 24)

[Between] 80,000 and 120,000 deaths are caused each year in India by coal-related emissions.
(The Long Goodbye, Quarterly Essay, Issue 66, June 2017, p 48)

Elizabeth Finkel & Belinda Smith:
China and India plan to build more than 1600 new coal-fired power plants between them by 2030, according to the online Global Coal Plant tracker.
(p 82)

[The Chinese ultra-supercritical] plants are designed to scrub air pollutants, not CO2.
But they are more efficient than standard coal plants, and reduce CO2 emissions by 30%.
(p 55)

CarbonNet was conceived in 2008 [by the Victorian state government] to connect CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations [and] oil and gas fields to an offshore geological deposit capable of storing at least 20 billion tonnes of CO2.
When Australia repealed the carbon price the project [stalled.]
(Can We Bury the Problem?, Cosmos, Feb-Mar 2016, p 54)

Scenarios that are likely to maintain warming at below 2°C include
  • more rapid improvements in energy efficiency and
  • a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon energy supply from renewable energy, nuclear energy and fossil energy with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), or bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050.
(AR5 Synthesis Report — Longer Version, 1 November, 2014, p 39)

Electricity, industrial emissions and transport deliver 40 to 75% of cost-effective national abatement by 2050 (assuming successful deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies) …
Modelling confirms that successful global deployment of carbon capture and storage has a crucial role in limiting the rise in global average temperature to 2°C.
(Australian National Outlook, October, 2015, p 25)

George Marshall (1964):
There are currently eight large-scale CCS projects and eight more under construction …
[We] will need 16,000 more plants … to deal with current emissions [and] another thousand plants [per year] to keep up with the annual increase [in emissions.]
(Don't Even Think About It, 2014, p 179, emphasis added)

Of the 22 demonstration [clean coal] projects funded by the US Department of Energy since 2003, none are in operation as of February 2017, having been abandoned or delayed due to capital budget overruns or discontinued because of excessive operating expenses.
(Coal pollution mitigation, 19 February 2017)

Costs and Potential

In most scenarios for stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations between 450 and 750 ppmv CO2 and in a least-cost portfolio of mitigation options, the economic potential of CCS would amount to 220-2,200 GtCO2 (60–600 GtC) cumulatively, which would mean that CCS contributes 15–55% to the cumulative mitigation effort worldwide until 2100, averaged over a range of baseline scenarios.
It is likely that the technical potential for geological storage is sufficient to cover the high end of the economic potential range, but for specific regions, this may not be true. …

For CCS to achieve such an economic potential, several hundreds to thousands of CO2 capture systems would need to be installed over the coming century, each capturing some 1–5 MtCO2 per year.

The actual implementation of CCS, as for other mitigation options, is likely to be lower than the economic potential due to factors such as
  • environmental impacts,
  • risks of leakage and
  • the lack of a clear legal framework or public acceptance. …

[The] inclusion of CCS in a mitigation portfolio is found to reduce the costs of stabilizing CO2 concentrations by 30% or more.
(p 12, emphasis added)

Three industrial-scale storage projects are [presently] in operation:
  • the Sleipner project in an offshore saline formation in Norway,
  • the Weyburn [Enhanced Oil Recovery] project in Canada, and
  • the In Salah project in a gas field in Algeria.
(p 7)

Tim Flannery

[When] compressed to liquid form, [the daily CO2 output of Australia's coal fired power plants] would take up a cubic kilometre …
[Given that] Australia accounts for less than 2% of global emissions [imagine] injecting 50 cubic kilometres of liquid CO2 into the Earth’s crust every day of the year for the next century or two.

If geosequestration were to be practised on the scale needed to offset all the emissions from coal, the world would very quickly run out of [safe and / or readily accessible] reservoirs …
(p 254)

(The Weather Makers, 2005)

December 24, 2012

Counterpoint: 2011


Mark Steyn (1959):
In a democratic age, you can't buck demography — except through civil war.
The Serbs figured that out: if you can't outbreed [Muslims,] cull 'em.
The problem Europe faces is that Bosnia's demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.
(America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, Regnery Publishing, 2006)

[If Obama] can establish federal spending at 25% of GDP as the new baseline, then he fundamentally transforms the nature of American society in a way that is tremendously advantageous to those of his political disposition. …
(Armageddon will be brought to you by "the experts", 26 September 2011)

December 22, 2012

Tony Abbott

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

[No] cuts to education.
No cuts to health.
No change to pensions.
No change to the GST.
[No] cuts to the ABC or SBS.

Tony Abbott (1957), SBS World News, 6 September 2013.

So far it's climate change policy that's doing harm.
Climate change itself is probably doing good — or at least more good than harm.

Tony Abbott (1957), Global Warming Policy Foundation, 10 October 2017.

(Sarah Ferguson, The Killing Season: The Long Shadow, ABC Television, 2015)

(Adam Elliot, Harvey Krumpet, 2003)

Refusal to believe a problem exists.
(Wiktionary, 24 May 2014)

Tony Abbott (1957):
[If] you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?
(How to successfully market an ETS, Sunday Extra, ABC Radio National, 16 July 2015)

Coal is essential for the prosperity of Australia.
Coal is essential for the prosperity of the world.
[Coal] is the world's principal energy source and will be for many decades to come.
(Geoff Thompson and Deborah Richards, The End of Coal?, Four Corners, ABC Television, 15 June 2015)

John Quiggin (1956):
Tony Abbott was, by a wide margin, the most anti-science prime minister in Australian history.
(Innovation: the test is yet to come, Inside Story, 10 December 2016)

Daniel Kahneman (1934):
[A] reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth (p 62). …
[People] can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers (p 217).
(Thinking Fast and Slow, 2011)

George Megalogenis (1964):
Before Abbott, the conservatives had replaced three sitting prime ministers: In each case, the basic complaint was leadership style: arrogance …
(Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal, Quarterly Essay, Issue 61, 2016, p 4)

Keri Phillips:
Within a few hours of being sworn in as Prime Minister, Tony Abbott announced a significant reorganisation of several government portfolios.
Just short of its 40th birthday, AusAID, an independent statutory body, would become part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
(Australian Aid, Rear Vision, ABC Radio National, 22 December 2014)

Raimond Gaita (1946):
National pride and national shame … are two sides of the same coin …
The wish to be proud without sometimes acknowledging the need to be ashamed is that corrupt attachment to country … that we call jingoism. …
The present and the past of most countries is a mixture of good and evil.
One can be proud of the good things and ashamed of the evil while loving the country and its people.
Sometimes it is a painful love. …
I do not remember a time in Australian politics when I heard the word "un-Australian" used so often.
Nor … a time when jingoism was so persistently mistaken for patriotism.
(Breach of Trust: Truth, Morality and Politics, Quarterly Essay, Issue 16, December 2004, pp 8, 10, 15, emphasis added)

Tony Abbott (1957):

Niki Savva:
Under Labor, more than 800 asylum seeker boats, carrying more than 50,000 people, attempted to make the journey from Indonesia to Australia.
No one is sure how many people died [at sea, but] the known tally was more than 1,000.
In 2014, one boat made it, with a significant saving to the budget.
It was a staggering achievement.
(The Road to Ruin, Scribe, p 220)

The Accidental Prime Minister

Phillip Adams (1939)

We should remember of course that Abbott won the [opposition leadership in 2009 by just] one vote from [Malcolm] Turnbull
Mungo MacCallum (1941):
… and only because Joe Hockey didn't want it.
Joe Hockey refused to bend on giving the party a free vote on climate change and therefore the great warlord Nick Minchin said:
No, you're not acceptable, we're going to have to go to Tony Abbott.
He was always the fallback.
(Campaign 2013 wash up, Late Night Live, ABC Radio National, 30 September 2013)

Paul Kelly (1947)

Editor at Large, The Australian

I can't begin to describe the extent and depth and confusion as Turnbull, Hockey and Abbott were manoeuvering in those last couple of days before the party meeting.
And, eventually, the three of them … ended up as candidates.
[Hockey expected] that he'd end up Liberal leader because he didn't think, if the leadership was declared vacant, that Turnbull would run.
[So Turnbull and Hockey] misunderstood one another.
Abbott, when he went into the party room meeting, didn't think he'd end up leader.
… I think Abbott's comment — that he ended up leader by accident — is correct. …

The only way the conservative side could stay united [and electorally viable] was on an anti-carbon pricing position.
[Abbott succeeded by turning opposition to carbon pricing] into a very populist campaign. …
Abbott … stands for opposition to carbon pricing.
That's his ideological position. …
Now, depending upon what happens in the world in the [next] couple of years … it may well be that international developments render obsolete the position Abbott now has.

(The Rise and Fall of Labor, Big Ideas, ABC Television, 24 October 2014)

December 19, 2012


Naomi Oreskes: Merchants of Doubt


Supersonic Transport






Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University.

  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, Bloomsbury, New York, 2010.
    Naomi Oreskes & Erik Conway.


    [In 1971] Congress financed $21 million for a Climate Impact Assessment Program [(CIAP). …]
    This three-year effort involved nearly a thousand scientists across many agencies, universities, and several other countries, [sought] to assess the potential [atmospheric] impact of [supersonic transport (SST). …]
    [It] found that a fleet of five hundred Boeing-type SSTs was likely to deplete the ozone layer by 10 to 20 percent [overall, with] vastly worse depletions over the highly traveled North Atlantic routes.

    But [due to a Department of Transport whitewash] the report's Executive Summary … didn't say that.
    [It] claimed that an improved SST, to be developed in the future … wouldn't deplete the ozone layer. …
    The resulting newspaper headlines said things like SST CLEARED ON THE OZONE.
    But the report hadn't cleared the Boeing SST, or the Concorde …
    [It] had only cleared an imaginary technology that didn't exist. …

    Columns in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Pittsburgh Press promptly [went on the attack:]
    Pittsburgh Press:
    [The CIAP shows that concerns about ozone depletion are] unscientific nonsense.
    The phony ozone argument has no place in rational scientific discourse and no place in the SST debate.
    The CIAP scientists were furious about the misleading presentation of their work.
    [Harold] Johnston [Atmospheric Chemist, University of California] and Thomas M Donahue of the University of Michigan tried to publish corrective letters in several newspapers, but without success.
    [The newspapers] simply declined to publish their letters.
    (p 110)

    [Donahue] finally got Science to publish a letter laying out the correct interpretation of the study.
    This forced the Department of [Transportation to acknowledge] the misleading nature of the summary.
    But … once again, scientific claims were being published in scientific journals, where only scientists would read them …
    [Meanwhile the] unscientific claims were being published in the mass media.
    The public was left with the impression that the ozone layer was fine, and the "alarmists" had got it wrong. …

    In 1970, British scientist James Lovelock had documented the widespread presence of chlorofluorocarbons in the Earth's troposphere (the lower portion of the atmosphere).
    (p 111)

    The Ozone War

    Harold Schiff [Chemist, York University, Toronto]:
    [The CFC industry] challenged the theory every step of the way.
    They said there was
    • no proof that fluorocarbons even got into the stratosphere,
    • no proof that they split apart to produce chlorine,
    • no proof that, even if they did, the chlorine was destroying ozone.
    Each of these claims was defeated by evidence during 1975 and 1976.
    (p 115)

    Holes in the Ozone Layer

    In 1985, the British Antarctic Survey announced the existence of an area of severe ozone depletion over Antarctica …
    The British scientists had actually detected it four years earlier, but had disbelieved their own results.
    (p 118)

    Creating an Adaptive Regulatory Regime

    The 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) imposed no restrictions on CFCs at all.
    It was simply a procedural framework for future negotiations on a protocol … which might include actual production cuts.
    [Two] more years of negotiations [resulted in the] Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer [which] specified cuts of 50 percent by the CFC-producing nations. …
    (p 122)

    The combined results of [further research later] caused the Montreal Protocol to be renegotiated.
    The results … convinced the industry that their products really were doing harm, and opposition began to fade. …
    In a series of meetings culminating in London in June 1990, the protocol was revised to include a complete ban on the manufacture of chlorofluorocarbons …
    CFC production was scheduled to cease in 2000 …

    Constructing a Counternarrative

    If environmental regulation should be based on science, then ozone is a success story.
    It took time to work out the complex science, but scientists, with support from the US government and international scientific organizations, did it.
    Regulations were put in place based on the science, and adjusted in response to advances in it.

    But running in parallel to this were persistent efforts to challenge the science.
    Industry representatives and other skeptics doubted that ozone depletion was real, or argued that if it was real, it was inconsequential, or caused by volcanoes.

    [In 1987] President Reagan's secretary of the interior, Donald Hodel … proposed a "personal protection plan" … against ozone depletion: wearing hats and long-sleeved shirts. …

    During the early 1980s, anti environmentalism had taken root in a network of conservative and Libertarian think tanks in Washington.
    These think tanks — which included the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Marshall Institute, variously promoted business interests and "free market" economic policies, and the rollback of environmental, health, safety, and labor protections.
    They were supported by donations from businessmen, corporations, and conservative foundations. …
    [The] Heritage Foundation was supported by a wide range of corporations and banks, including General Motors, Chase Manhattan, and Mobil Oil.
    (p 125)

    One aspect of the effort to cast doubt on ozone depletion was the construction of a counternarrative that depicted ozone depletion as a natural variation that was being cynically exploited by a corrupt, self-interested, and extremist scientific community to get more money for their research. …

    [S Fred Singer] a fellow at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1980s [and later] CHIEF SCIENTIST for the US Department of Transportation … first protested what he called the “ozone scare" in an article that the Wall Street Journal ran on page one [in April 1987. …]

    [Among other things he] recycled the old tobacco tactic of refutation by distraction, noting that there are many causes of skin cancer, including
    viruses, genetic predisposition, environmental carcinogens, population shifts to the Sun Belt, changes in life style, earlier detection of melanomas, and even diet.
    All true, but beside the point ..
    [The point being] that if ozone depletion continued, it would lead to additional skin cancers, on top of those already generated by other causes. …

    [He] claimed that scientists had wrongly worried that water vapor from [Supersonic Transport] would destroy ozone.
    [That they] had overreacted before, were overreacting now, and therefore couldn't be trusted.
    [This mechanism for ozone depletion had been considered in 1970 and found to be of minor significance.]
    (p 126)

    Singer argued that the real cause of the [ozone] hole was the stratospheric cooling, and this cooling was just part of the Earth's natural climate variability.
    [He claimed that ozone depletion was not due to man made CFCs but natural stratospheric cooling, when in fact stratospheric cooling was also anthropogenic but by a different mechanisms — greenhouse gas pollution. …]

    [Singer insisted] that replacing CFCs was likely to prove difficult and expensive — even dangerous.
    [CFC substitutes] may be toxic, flammable, and corrosive; and they certainly won't work as well.
    They'll reduce the energy efficiency of appliances such as refrigerators, and they'll deteriorate, requiring frequent replenishment. …
    How could Singer know that, if substitutes hadn't yet been developed?
    (p 128)

    Singer was doing just what he had done for acid rain — insisting that any solution would be difficult and expensive, yet providing scant evidence to support the claim.
    In fact, he was going further, making bold assertions about the nature of technologies that did not yet exist. …

    Singer's story had three major themes:
    • the science is incomplete and uncertain;
    • replacing CFCs will be difficult, dangerous, and expensive; and
    • the scientific community is corrupt and motivated by self-interest and political ideology.
    The first was true, but the adaptive structure of the Montreal Protocol had accounted for it.
    The second was baseless.
    [And] the third, considering Singer's ties to the Reagan administration and the Heritage Foundation, and … the venues in which he published, [amounted to rank hypocrisy. …]

    Non-CFC refrigerants are now available that are more energy efficient … than the materials they replaced, and they aren't toxic, flammable, or corrosive. …

    WITH THE AMENDMENTS to the Montreal Protocol adopted in 1992, ratified by the US Senate, and even accepted by the DuPont Corporation, the debate over ozone depletion had come to a practical end. …

    … Singer did not give up.
    In 1990 he had established his own non profit organization, the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) …
    (p 129)

    While we don't have access to SEPP's tax returns for the 1990s, in 2007 it netted $226,443, and had accumulated assets of $1.69 million.
    (p 134)

    The outfit was initially affiliated with the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, which was itself financed by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church [— an organization] known for its passionate anti-Communism …
    The church owned a newspaper, the Washington Times, and … publisher, Paragon House.
    In the years to come, Singer would use both to [propagate] his views. …
    Dixy Lee Ray [Zoologist and former Chair of the Atomic Energy Commission]:
    [The] eruption of Mount St Augustine in 1976 injected 289 billion kilograms of hydrochloric acid directly into the stratosphere.
    That amount is 570 times the total world production of chlorine and fluorocarbon compounds in the year 1975.
    Mount Erebus … has been erupting, constantly, for the last 100 years, ejecting more than 1,000 tons (907,184 kg) of chlorine per day …
    (Trashing the Planet: How Science Can Help Us Deal with Acid Rain, Depletion of Ozone, and Nuclear Waste (Among Other Things), 1990)
    (p 130)

    Ray cited a 1989 article by Singer in his Global Climate Change [in which] he presented no original data.
    He had simply cited other papers, without explaining what those papers actually said.

    The details about Mt Erebus and Mt Augustine [were] published in 1989 [by] Rogelio Maduro, in a political magazine called 21st Century Science and Technology
    [Maduro's source] that Mt Erebus erupted more chlorine into the atmosphere in a week than CFCs released in a year [was Reid Bryson:] an expert on paleoclimate studies using pollen and tree rings — nothing to do with ozone …

    Mt Erebus did produce substantial chlorine emissions, but it did not erupt explosively, so whatever chlorine it released did not get injected into the stratosphere …
    (p 131)

    [Ray later insisted in her] 1993 bestseller, Environmental Overkill … that CFCs were too heavy to rise into the stratosphere in the first place! …

    Sherry Rowland:
    [CFCs have been measured] in literally thousands of stratospheric air samples by dozens of research groups all over the world.
    (AAAS Presidential Address, 1993)
    [Rowland] debunked the 1980 Science paper that had argued that a single eruption of Mt Augustine, Alaska, in 1976 had put as much chlorine into the stratosphere as the entire 1975 CFC production.
    That claim was based on the chlorine content of ashfall, not on what had actually reached the stratosphere.
    Sherry Rowland:
    No actual evidence was presented in this … paper to show that any hydrogen chloride had … reached the stratosphere in this volcanic plume.
    [The] eruption of El Chichon in April 1982 had produced an increase of hydrogen chloride in the stratosphere of less than 10 percent, and … the June 1991 eruption of Pinatubo — a much larger eruption — had increased it even less.
    Yet hydrogen chloride levels had increased steadily between those two eruptions, despite the lack of any other explosive eruptions during the interceding nine years. …

    In March 1994, Singer repeated the now-refuted claim that the evidence
    [The evidence suggested] that stratospheric chlorine comes mostly from natural sources.
    (p 132)

    In September 1995, Singer served as a star witness in hearings in the US Congress, sponsored by Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher — on “scientific integrity." …
    [There is] no scientific consensus on ozone depletion or its consequences.
    [When Sherry Rowland was awarded] the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Mario Molina and Paul Crutzen for their work on the understanding of stratospheric ozone chemistry … Singer attacked the Nobel committee …
    Tom DeLay [Republican House Majority Leader, 2003-2005]:
    [My assessment of ozone depletion] is from reading people like Fred Singer.
    (p 133)

    What Was This Really About?

    [According to Singer the] "real" agenda of environmentalists — and the scientists who provided the data on which they relied — was to destroy capitalism …
    [That] environmental regulation was the slippery slope to Socialism. …

    To fight environmental regulation, Singer and Ray told a story in which science was corrupt and scientists could not be trusted. …
    Fred Seitz … in a 1994 Marshall Institute "report" on ozone depletion and climate change [implied] that CFCs couldn't reach the stratosphere [—] a claim even a freshmen physics major would know was wrong … much less a former president of the National Academy of Science.
    Patrick Michaels, an agricultural climatologist at the University of Virginia … reiterated the volcanic argument as late as 2000. (p 134)

    The Wall Street Journal kept up the drumbeat for several years with articles and editorials having titles such as “Bad Climate in Ozone Debate," and “Ozone , CFCs, and Science Fiction," “The Dreaded Ozone Hole," and, after the Nobel award to Rowland and his colleagues, "Nobel Politicized Award in Chemistry."
    (p 135)

December 14, 2012


George W Bush





George W Bush (1946)

43rd President of the United States (2001-2009).

  • The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W Bush, Text, Melbourne, 2004.
    ISBN 0-525-94813-9.
    Peter Singer: Ira W DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University; Laureate Professor, University of Melbourne, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.

    A Single Nation Of Justice And Opportunity

    Bush's moral case for a tax cut

    Bush's language seems to echo the libertarian view that all taxation is theft …
    [If] 'it's your money', then isn't it theft for the government to demand your money from you, under pain of fines or imprisonment if you refuse to hand it over? …
    (p 15)

    [Yet, Bush rejects the minimalist state.]
    [In] his inaugural address, after referring to the duty to relieve suffering, [he] said:
    Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities.
    [Federal] spending on education [and] helping Americans in need [appeared] to be among his priorities.
    The proportion of the taxes you pay that go towards meeting these priorities, then, is presumably not 'your money' but the government's money.
    So the government should give the taxpayers back only the money that is left over after the government has met 'priorities' or 'needs'. …

    In arguing for his initial tax cut [in 2000], Bush pointed out that the government was running a surplus.
    [But this surplus] was not a surplus after all needs and priorities [had been met.]
    [He referred to] the unmet needs of, for example, disadvantaged children.
    If the government had spent more on ways of giving these children a greater opportunity to achieve the American dream and on other programs to overcome deep, persistent poverty, there would have been no surplus.
    There may have been a deficit, requiring a substantial tax rise to cover it.
    (p 16)

    Is it really your money?

    The best justification of a right to private property is that we will all be better off if we recognise such a right.
    But if it is the common good that justifies the recognition of a right to private property, then the common good can also set limits to that right. …

    [Say] I work for a large corporation that makes automobiles …
    For my labour, the corporation pays me a wage, on which I pay taxes.
    [An] opponent of [taxation might object saying, 'but it's] your money!'

    (p 19)

    [Without a] system of regulation … the corporation would not be able to pay me …
    [And] if, somehow, I did get paid, the money would be of little value because I could not be secure in my ownership of anything I bought with it.
    (p 20)

    Fairness in taxation?

    {Bush apparently [believed] that a fair tax cut is one that cuts marginal income tax rates by roughly the same number of percentage points at the top and at the bottom of the income scales. …
    [However, this widens] income inequalities, both in absolute dollars and in percentage terms.
    (p 23)}

    [Cutting] the lowest marginal tax rate [further benefit] the wealthy, because they pay that rate on a part of their income. …

    [In 2001,] four out of five income tax payers [were] earning less than $73,000 a year in 2001 …
    [Out of Bush's initial tax cuts] they got, on average … $350, and over the next ten years, their yearly savings …. generally [stayed] below $500.
    On the other hand … the richest 1% [got] to keep, on average, another $45,000 [by 2010. …]
    By [2010, 52%] of the total tax cuts [would go] to the richest 1%.
    (p 22)

    [The] richest 1.4 million taxpayers [enjoyed,] on average, over 100 times the tax saving [than] the rest …

    The 2003 tax cut [gave a] couple, earning more than twelve times as much as the couple on a lower income, [savings of] nearly forty times as much in taxes. …

    This [was] not an even-handed reduction of the tax burden for all taxpayers.
    (p 22)

    The 'death tax' and equality of opportunity

    George W Bush [Inaugural Address, 2001]:
    The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth …
    [Sometimes] our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.
    We do not accept this, and we will not allow it.
    [I pledge to] build a single nation of justice and opportunity.
    He was right to say that the differences between [the prosperous and the poor in America] 'run deep'.
    They run much deeper than they do in other developed nations, and they have become deeper over the past twenty years.

    … America is one of the world's richest nations, [yet] the proportion of the adult population living in relative poverty is more than twice as high in the United States as it is in France, Germany or Italy — 19% as against about 8%.
    [Australia] is around 12%.
    [One] quarter of [American children] live in poverty, compared with about a tenth or less in the major nations of continental Western Europe.
    [In absolute terms] the poorest 10% of the American population are worse off [than] the poorest tenth of the populations of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
    A Swedish family … that is at the threshold of that poorest 10% … will also have the security of a safety net of income support and free health care services that far surpasses anything available to the poor in America.
    (p 27)

    [American] life expectancy at birth [falls] somewhere between that of Greece and Portugal. …

    [The] richest 1% of Americans hold more than 38% of the nation's wealth, a concentration unmatched in any other developed nation. …
    [Between] 1979 and 1997, the after-tax income of the top 1% of Americans rose 157%, while the income of those in the middle-income range rose by only 5%, and that of the poorest fifth of the population actually fell. …
    In 1970 … the average annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives was thirty-nine times the pay of an ordinary worker.
    By 1999, it had risen to more than one thousand times …

    Would you like to know more?

    Such deep differences in income and wealth raise, as Bush correctly noted, a serious doubt about whether America is a just society. …
    But [then] equality of wealth has never been prominent among American values.
    (p 28)

    [The] distinctively American form of equality has [always] been equality of opportunity. …
    George W Bush:
    [Every] child must have an equal place at the starting line.
    [In a nation with a] high percentage of its children living in relative poverty [some children will] have plenty of nutritious food, a warm place to sleep in winter, and air-conditioning in summer.
    From their early years of schooling, they have their own room, desk and [networked] computer.
    Others [will] have none of these advantages.
    How can children living in such different circumstances have an equal start in life?
    (p 29)

    In 1994, the last year for which figures are available, a student … from a family with earnings in the top quarter of the population, was ten times more likely to gain a degree by the age of twenty-four than a student from a family with earnings in the bottom quarter.
    [In 1979 the ratio was 4:1.]
    (p 30)

    [An inheritance tax] taxes people who are receiving a benefit [that] they have done nothing to deserve.
    [It] is just as likely to come to the idle as to the hard-working.
    [Those] who worry about the disincentive effects of welfare on the poor should have no difficulty in accepting that a similar effect can [apply to the rich.]
    Several studies suggest that people who grow up knowing that they will never need to earn their own living consume more and work less …
    [Even if this were not true,] as long as people can pass great wealth on to their children, there can never be real equality of opportunity.
    (p 31)
    William Gates Snr:
    While we may not be able to ensure that all children start their lives on a level playing field, that is something we should strive for and the estate tax keeps us closer to that ideal.

    Bush's choice

    Bush's conception of 'a single nation of justice and opportunity' cannot be reconciled
    • with his opposition to taxes on a small number of especially high value estates and on dividends, nor
    • with his support for giving most of the budget surplus that existed when he was elected … back to taxpayers who are not in need, nor
    • with his continued support for tax cuts favourable to the rich after that surplus disappeared.
    (p 32)

    Studies of national tax and spending policies have shown that societies in which [tax more have] lower income inequality.
    [Among] the richer nations … the more equal ones have … a higher income per capita [and lower rates of absolute and relative poverty.]
    (p 33)

    One might think … that the highest priority of [a compassionate conservative] administration … would be to provide very substantial additional funds for faith-based and other non-profit charities.
    Since the budget was in surplus when Bush took office, these funds were available even without tax increases.
    Instead, the tax cut was a higher priority.
    Now, having got the tax cut, the Bush administration says that it has to cut back spending.
    (p 35)
    John J Dilulio Jnr [Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives]:
    Repeal [of the estate tax] could undercut another administration priority: encouraging private contributions to charities, religious and nonreligious alike, that help the poor. …
    The number of Americans living in poverty rose in 2001 and increased again in 2002. …
    In 2003, when it was clear that the budget surplus had turned into a substantial deficit, and that more spending was needed for the war with Iraq, Bush [passed] another huge tax cut [which] he promoted … as a means of helping to speed up economic recovery.
    (p 36)

    George Akerlof, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley and the 2001 Nobel laureate in economics, has described the current deficit as as 'a form of looting' and warned that in future, if America is to avoid the threat of bankruptcy, Medicare and Social Security will have to be cut back heavily. …

    [The] Financial Times speculated [that] the real agenda was deliberately to bring about what Akerlof has warned is likely to happen: a fiscal crisis that would provide a justification for slashing federal spending on popular social programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
    [If] true, 'compassionate conservatism' will have turned into its very opposite: a conservatism that increases the power and affluence of the rich, and is prepared to be utterly heartless to the poor and elderly.
    (p 38)

    The Culture Of Life

    On his first day in office [Bush] reinstated President Reagan's order barring health care organisations all over the world from receiving American funding if they perform abortions — even when these services are separately financed — or if they even offer women advice about abortion.
    Subsequently … he froze millions of dollars of American assistance for the World Health Organization and United Nations Population Fund programs to advance reproductive health.
    (p 48)

    Capital punishment

    [Few] countries use the death penalty.
    Only China and Iran execute more people than the US. …
    Under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, it is regarded as a human rights violation …
    (p 53)

    When Bush was elected president, the federal government had not used the death penalty for thirty-eight years.
    Bush reinstated it.
    When he was Governor of Texas [he] signed 152 death warrants — more than any previous Governor of Texas, or any other American governor in modern times.
    Typically, he made his life-and-death decision after a half-hour briefing with his legal counsel.
    Only once, as governor, did he stop an execution.
    (p 54)

    The Death Penalty Information Center has a list of 102 people wrongly sentenced to death in the United States between 1973 and 2000.
    An investigation by the Chicago Tribune of all 682 executions in the United States between 1976 and 2000 found that at least 120 people were put to death while still proclaiming their innocence, and in four of these cases there was evidence supporting the claim of innocence.
    (p 55)

    In 1999 Governor George Ryan of Illinois [set up a commission that] conducted the most thorough study of the death penalty ever carried out in a single state.
    It concluded that thirteen condemned prisoners were innocent. …
    George Ryan:
    Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error, error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die.
    The commission proposed changes to the criminal justice system that were repeatedly rejected by the Illinois legislature.
    [Just] before he left office, Ryan felt he could no longer live with the risk of executing the innocent [so he] commuted all death sentences … to terms of imprisonment. …
    George W Bush:
    I don't think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. …
    I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people's lives.
    (p 56)

    [After] the 1976 US Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty is constitutional, a dozen states chose not to enact laws allowing it.
    These states have not had higher homicide rates than the states that did enact such laws — in fact ten of them have had homicide rates lower than the national average.
    South Dakota has it, and North Dakota does not.
    The homicide rate is higher in South Dakota than in North Dakota.
    Connecticut has it, and Massachusetts does not.
    Again, the homicide rate is higher in the state with the death penalty.
    [These states] are roughly comparable, in terms of their economic and ethnic mix.
    Moreover, homicide rates have risen and fallen in roughly symmetrical patterns in states with and without the death penalty, suggesting that the existence or absence of the death penalty has little effect on the incidence of homicide.

    In 1992 California carried out its first execution in twenty-five years.
    Homicide rates in Los Angeles rose.
    [After] Oklahoma restored the death penalty [a study] comparing 293 [matched] pairs of neighbouring counties… found no deterrent effect from capital punishment, executions, or whether a county has a population on death row.
    (p 57)

    [There were] higher violent crime rates in death penalty counties. …

    [A] study of the effect of executions in Texas from 1982 until 1997 … concluded that the number of executions was unrelated to murder rates.

    [There] are some studies that suggest that the death penalty does have a deterrent effect.
    [However,] they usually turn out to have serious flaws. …

    Bush, as Governor of Texas [opposed a bill to prohibit] the use of the death penalty [on those] with IQs of less than 65 [saying:]
    I like the law the way it is right now
    (p 58)

    In May 1997 [he executed] Terry Washington, a thirty-three-year-old mentally retarded man with the communication skills of a seven-year-old. …

    In June 2002, the US Supreme Court ruled that [executing the intellectually disabled violates] the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution [prohibiting 'cruel and unusual punishment'.]
    (p 59)

    Killing in war

    [During the 2003 Iraq War] the approval of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [was required] for air attacks considered likely to kill more than thirty civilians.
    More than fifty such attacks were proposed, and Rumsfeld approved all of them …
    (p 61)

    "Just War" Doctrine

    The Immunity of Non-combatants

    Only … combatants are legitimate targets.
    Civilians are not to be directly attacked …
    [The] greatest possible care must be taken to avoid harming them indirectly, and when that cannot be done, to minimise the harm done.


    Gaining an objective should not involve inflicting harms that are disproportional to the value of the objective itself.
    [Causing] disproportionate harm to civilians cannot be justified, even when the harm is not directly intended.

    Right Intention

    The intention with which each act is carried out must be just …
    [Indiscriminate] violence is wrong, even in the course of a war. …

    (The Challenge of Peace, United States Bishops Conference, 1983)
    (p 62)
    Donald Rumsfeld:
    [No] nation in human history has done more to avoid civilian casualties than the United States has in this conflict. …

    General Tommy R Franks [Commander, US Forces, Afghanistan]:
    I can't imagine there's been a conflict in history where there has been less collateral damage, less unintended consequences.
    [In] Kosovo the NATO forces dropped more bombs than the US dropped in Afghanistan, yet the Afghanistan bombing killed twice as many civilians.
    (p 63)

    [In] responding to [an attack] that killed twelve villagers, a Pentagon spokesman said that … trucks and equipment belonging to the Taliban were … 'authorised military targets'.
    (p 64)

    On the only occasion reported in Woodward's book [Bush at War] when there was a discussion of the 'collateral damage' issue, Bush was more concerned with the public relations aspect of such damage than with probing whether more could be done to avoid it.
    George W Bush:
    Well, we also need to highlight the fact that the Taliban are killing people and conducting their own terror operations, so get a little bit more balance here about what the situation is.
    In Iraq, too, [it appears] Bush was more concerned with image than with reality. …
    George W Bush:
    … I was worried that the first pictures coming out of Iraq would be a wounded grandchild of Saddam Hussein …
    [That] the first images of the American attack would be death to young children.
    The concern Bush expresses here is not about the risk that American bombs might kill or wound children [but about the public relations impact of] images of the dead or wounded children …
    (p 68)

    A selective culture of life

    Bush's support for the death penalty, in the face of evidence that it is not an effective deterrent [and] that the American system of justice allows some innocent people to be executed, is not consistent with his professed ethic of respect for innocent human life.
    [His] concern for the lives of innocent people on death row, and for innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan and Iraq falls far short of his concern with protecting embryos that might be used for stem cell research. …
    The frozen embryos that scientists wish to use will be destroyed anyway, if they are not used.
    They have no future.
    [None] of them have, or have had, any conscious awareness, any hopes or desires of their own.
    (p 68)

    … Bush is [not] an evil person in the way that Osama bin Laden is evil. …
    But it is important to notice that Osama bin Laden has appealed to exactly the same distinction between what we intend, and what we foresee will happen as a result of our actions, in order to deny that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were contrary to Islamic law. …
    Osama bin Laden:
    [I agree that the] prophet Mohammed forbade the killing of babies and women …
    [However, the hijackers] did not intend to kill babies …
    [They] intended to destroy the strongest military power in the world, to attack the Pentagon that houses more than 64,000 employees, a military centre that houses the strength and the military intelligence …

    The [twin] towers are an economic power and not a children's school.
    Those that were there are men that supported the biggest economic power in the world. …
    (Television interview, Al Jazeera, October 2001)
    (p 73, emphasis added)

    If we allow Bush to justify acts that he knew would kill innocents by saying that killing innocents was not his intention, then we should be aware that others, too, can use the same distinction between intention and unwanted consequences to reconcile their deadly deeds with a religious ethic that would otherwise rule them out. …

    It might be possible to justify the loss of innocent life … by making a utilitarian calculation that [military action] would save more lives in the end.
    [However, we would need to be] quite certain that the facts are really as they are claimed to be.
    Is the goal worth pursuing?
    Will our actions really help us to achieve it?
    Is it important enough to justify the loss of civilian lives? …
    [Such] an argument leads, not to black and white distinctions between evil terrorism and good military bombings of residential districts, but to shades of grey.
    (p 74)

    The Freest Nation In The World?

    A philosophy that trusts individuals

    George W Bush:
    My philosophy trusts individuals to make the right decisions for their, families and communities, and that is far more compassionate than a philosophy that seeks solutions from distant bureaucracies. …
    I believe government closest to the people governs best.
    (p 76)
    George W Bush:
    … I don't trust the federal government.
    I don't want the federal government making decisions on behalf of everybody. …
    (p 77)

    Choosing how to die

    In 1994 a majority of voters in the state of Oregon approved a proposal to allow physicians to prescribe, but not to administer, a lethal dose of drugs to patients who are terminally ill.
    Two doctors must confirm that the patient is likely to die within six months …
    [The] patient must be informed and mentally competent, and must make three requests, two oral and one written, for assistance in dying.
    The requests must be at least fifteen days apart. …

    Opponents of the new law [delayed] the law's implementation [in the courts.]
    Three years later, [they] succeeded in getting the issue placed on the ballot again.
    [Despite] a well-funded campaign … by pro-life organisations … Roman Catholics and other conservative Christians, Oregon voters reaffirmed their support for physician-assisted suicide, by a considerably larger majority than in 1994. Further attempts to stop the law through the courts failed …
    [Since the] law went into effect [there] is no evidence of abuse or a 'slippery slope' to less justified uses of physician-assisted suicide.
    (p 79)

    Between 1997 [and 2001] 129 patients used their prescriptions to end their lives.
    The overwhelming majority of them had cancer and their median age was sixty-nine. …

    President Clinton's attorney-general, Janet Reno [declared that there was] nothing in the federal laws governing prescription drugs that forbade their use for this purpose …
    (p 80)

    [On] 9 November 2001 … Bush's attorney-general, John Ashcroft, reversed Reno's decision and asserted that federally controlled substances could not be used in physician-assisted suicide.
    (p 81)

    It is difficult to see why a president with a philosophy of trusting individuals to make the right decisions would not allow terminally ill, mentally competent individuals to decide when they have had enough and wish to die. …

    [He] can hardly claim to be a supporter of [states rights] if he only allows them to pass laws that he personally supports.
    [In 2006 the Supreme Court] ruled that the United States Attorney General could not enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act against physicians who prescribed drugs … for the assisted suicide of the terminally ill.
    (p 83)

    Choosing what drugs to take, and who to marry

    During the 1999 election campaign … Bush said that he would allow the states to decide on the medical use of marijuana, and [on the] question on gay marriage …
    (p 84)

    [After taking office there were] raids involving dozens of federal government agents on co-operatives that distribute marijuana to people who are ill.
    (p 85)
    George W Bush:
    [I believe] marriage is between a man and a woman …
    [We] ought to codify that one way or the other …
    [This was] understood to express support for a constitutional amendment to rule out same-sex marriages …
    No genuine advocate of small government would seek to take from the states the right to decide whether people of the same sex can marry.

    The environment

    One area in which Bush has lived up to the pledge to cut back the role of the federal government is the environment.
    (p 86)

    Freedom and the Bush philosophy

    [Bush's] record as president suggests that neither the promotion of individual rights and freedoms, nor the curtailment of the powers of the federal government, is a high priority for him.
    (p 103)

    When individuals make decisions he thinks wrong — whether it is terminally ill patients who wish to end their own lives, or people who find smoking marijuana helps them deal with illness — he will try to prevent them from acting on their decisions.
    When states pass laws that allow their citizens freedoms that Bush thinks they ought not to have, he will try to use the power of the federal government to overturn or thwart those laws.
    The chief area in which he has been ready to support states' rights and local decision-making is the environment …

    To the extent that Bush is successful in forcing Americans to do what he thinks to be right, America will fall behind other nations in terms of freedom.
    Residents of the Netherlands and Belgium … have more freedom than Americans to choose how they die.
    In those countries, patients who are terminally or incurably ill, and suffering in ways that cannot be relieved, may ask a doctor to assist them in committing suicide, or to give them a lethal injection.
    About 2% of all deaths in the Netherlands occur as a result of such a request.
    (p 104)

    A rather larger number obtain the assurance of their doctor that if their suffering becomes unbearable, the doctor will end their lives, but, having received this assurance, they do not find it necessary to make use of it. …
    The Dutch are also freer than Americans with regard to the use of marijuana. …
    Admittedly … Dutch residents are less free than most Americans [when it comes to buying a gun. …]

    It used to be possible to say that the rights and liberties of Americans are more secure than those of the citizens of other countries because they are protected by a written constitution that is upheld by an independent judiciary.
    Under Bush, it is no longer possible to say this.
    Basic rights to liberty and due process have been denied, and the Bush administration has resorted to secret assassinations of those it suspects of terrorism.

    [When] examining the killing of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq [and of prisoners in America, it is clear that] Bush's support for the right to life is less absolute than his statements about abortion and the rights of embryos would lead one to expect.
    (p 105)

December 10, 2012

Tyrants and Revolutionaries

Bertrand Russell: Power

Naked Power

[If] human life is to be … anything better than a dull misery punctuated with moments of sharp horror, there must be as little naked power as possible.
The exercise of power, if it is to be something better than the infliction of wanton torture, must be hedged round by safeguards of law and custom, permitted only after due deliberation, and entrusted to men who are closely supervised in the interests of those who are subjected to them. …

It involves …
  • the elimination of war, for all war is an exercise of naked power. …
  • a world free from those intolerable oppressions that give rise to rebellions. …
  • the raising of the standard of life throughout the world …
  • some institution analogous to the Roman tribunes … for every section that is liable to oppression, such as minorities and criminals [and]
  • above all, a watchful public opinion, with opportunities of ascertaining the facts.

It is useless to trust in the virtue of some individual or set of individuals. …
No real solution of the problem of power is to be found in irresponsible government by a minority …
(p 71)

Revolutionary Power

A government without psychological authority must be a tyranny.
(p 80)

The decay of Liberalism has many causes, both technical and psychological.
They are to be found
  • in the technique of war,
  • in the technique of production,
  • in the increased facilities for propaganda, and
  • in nationalism, which is itself an outcome of Liberal doctrines.
All these causes, especially where the State has economic as well as political power, have immensely increased the power of governments. …
A modern community, just as much as those of the eighteenth century, requires, if it is to remain happy and prosperous, a sphere for individual initiative, but this sphere must be defined afresh, and safeguarded by new methods.
(p 81)

December 4, 2012

Priests and Kings

Bertrand Russell: Power

Both religious and secular innovators … have appealed, as far as they could, to tradition, and [sought] to minimise the elements of novelty in their system.
The usual plan is to invent a more or less fictitious past and pretend to be restoring its institutions.
(p 39)

In the United States at the present day, the reverence which the Greeks gave to oracles and the Middle Ages to the Pope is given to the Supreme Court [— which] is part of the forces engaged in the protection of the plutocracy.
(p 49)

November 26, 2012

Sunday Extra

ABC Radio National

Budget of the Century

John Hewson (1946): Coalition Opposition Leader, 1990-4; Professor and Chair, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Australian National University

[The] inequity of the process!
To argue that everyone is sharing the burden, when obviously they are not, because, people at the bottom end of the income scale are losing between 12-15% of their disposable income and people at the top are losing less than 1%.
The inequity just screams at you …

I think [Abbott and Hockey] actually did believe they had brought down the 'budget of the century' — [one] that actually will be remembered as probably one of the worst; because, it was so ill conceived, so many incoherent messages, so many partial attempts to solve problems, with massive inequity overriding the lot.
A lot a pain for very little gain.
What do they do now?
If the revenue continues to be weaker than predicted, which is … a pretty high probability, and the deficit will start to blow out and they can't go back an try and fix it again.

(The rise of anti-establishment political parties, 25 May 2014)

November 24, 2012

American Experience

Public Broadcasting Service

Douglas Brinkley (1960) [Historian]:
It was in stark contrast to kind of the so called greed decade of the 80s to see somebody not looking to make big speaking fees, not looking to sit on corporate boards.
[There's] just something about an ex-president … in blue jeans, with a hammer, sleeping in cots and building houses for the poor.
It's an image seared on our imaginations.
(Adriana Bosch, Jimmy Carter, 2002)

(Mohammed Naqvi & Hemal Trivedi, Among the Believers, 2015)

Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004):
You are not alone, Freedom Fighters.
America will support you with moral and material assistance, your right, not just to fight and die for freedom, but to fight and win freedom.
(David Fanning & Linda Hirsch, Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia, PBS Frontline, 2018)

Dreaming of Star Wars

In October 1986 Reagan met Gorbachev [at a summit in] Reykjavik, Iceland [and was offered a chance to] realize his dream of reducing the nuclear threat.

Gorbachev offered Reagan everything he had wanted: they would both destroy half their long range bombers and missiles.
Eliminate all the missiles threatening Europe.
And he made a major concession on human rights.
[In return, he asked that SDI research be confined] to the laboratory. …
Alexander Bessmertnykh (1933) [Foreign Ministry, USSR]:
Reagan responded with the idea of having the complete elimination of strategic ballistic missiles.
And Gorbachev said,
How about eliminating all the nuclear weapons instead of just going part by part?
They … actually moved each other to the direction of the discussion of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. …

Richard Perle (1941) [Assistant Secretary of Defense]:
When asked, I expressed the categorical view that there was no way you could see the program through to a successful conclusion if we accepted the constraints that Gorbachev had in mind.
Upon hearing that, he turned to Don Regan and said,
If we agree to this, won't we be doing that simply so we can leave here with an agreement?
And it was a rhetorical question, of course, and you knew the moment he put it that he'd made his decision.
And within seconds, it was over.
Presidents grasp at treaties because they convey an image of Presidents as statesmen and peacemakers, and they're sometimes not bothered about the details.
It took tremendous discipline for Ronald Reagan to leave that little room without an agreement. …

Donald T Regan [Chief of Staff]:
[Reagan] said,
Don we were that close …
[Holding up his left hand, just finger and thumb.]
We were that close to getting rid of all missiles …
[But Gorbachev] kept insisting that we had to do away with SDI and I couldn't do that. …
I promised the American people I would not give in on that.
I cannot do it. …
(Adriana Bosch & Austin Hoyt, Reagan, 1998)

November 18, 2012

Scientific American: 2011

Scientific American

Radioactive Smoke

[The WHO estimates that over a million people a year die from smoking related lung cancers.]
If polonium had been reduced through methods [long] known to the [tobacco] industry, many thousands of those deaths could have been avoided.

(January 2011, p 67)

The Last Great Global Warming

Cretaceous HothousePaleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM)[Anthropocene]
Speed of WarmingSlowModerateFast
Rate of Carbon Release
(petagrams per year)

< 2 [1]9 to 25 [2]
Rate of Temperature Rise
(degrees Celsius per 100 years)
0.0000250.0251 to 4
Absolute Temperature Rise
(degrees Celsius)
(Over 20 million years)
5 [to 9]
(Over 20 thousand years)
2 to 10
(Projected over the next 200 to 300 years)
Duration (years) Millions Thousands [3] Tens to Hundreds
Main underlying causeVolcanic eruptionsVolcanoes
Methane bubbling up from the ocean bottom
Peat and coal fires
Thawing permafrost
Fossil-fuel burning
Environmental changeOceans absorbed carbon dioxide slowly so did not acidifyDeep sea acidificationAcidifying oceans
More extreme weather
Glacier melting
Sea-level rise
Life's responseNearly all creatures had time to adapt or migratePoleward movement of many species
Habitat loss
Coral bleaching

  1. [The] rate of [atmospheric carbon] injection during the PETM was less than two petagrams a year …
  2. [We] are now pumping nine petagrams of carbon into the atmosphere every year …
    [Consequently,] C02 concentrations are rising [around] 10 times faster now than they did during the PETM. …
    Projections that account for population growth and increased industrialization of developing nations indicate that rate may reach 25 petagrams a year before all fossil-fuel reserves are exhausted. …
  3. It took nearly 200,000 years for the earth's natural buffers to bring the fever down.
(Lee Kump, Implications: Lessons from Past Warmings, July 2011, pp 42, 44-45)

November 14, 2012

Renewable Energy and Mitigation

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Figure SPM.2

Shares of energy sources in total global primary energy supply in 2008 (492 EJ).
Modern biomass contributes 38% of the total biomass share. …
(IPCC, Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, 2011, p 6)

Climate Council

Despite pledging in 2009 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, all G20 countries continue to subsidise fossil fuels, collectively spending an estimated US$ 452 billion annually on fossil fuels.
The amount spent by G20 countries subsidising fossil fuels is nearly four times the amount spent to encourage the uptake of renewable energy. …
(p 14)

Despite global growth in renewable energy for power generation, fossil fuels continue to make up 77% of global electricity production, with coal contributing the largest share (40%). …
In 2014, coal plant closures in OECD countries were offset by capacity increases in the rest of the world, leading to a net increase of 66 GW in coal power capacity …
(p 18)

(Andrew Stock, Petra Stock and Martin Rice, A Whole New World: Tracking the renewables boom from Copenhagen to Paris, 2015)

The 6°C Scenario

International Energy Agency

The 6°C Scenario (6DS) is largely an extension of current trends.
By 2050, primary energy use grows by almost two-thirds (compared with 2012) and total GHG emissions rise even more.
In the absence of efforts to stabilise atmospheric concentration of GHGs, average global temperature rise above preindustrial levels is projected to reach almost 5.5°C in the long term (by 2500) and almost 4°C by the end of this century.
Already, a 4°C increase within this century is likely to stimulate severe impacts, such as sea level rise, reduced crop yields, stressed water resources or diseases outbreaks in new areas.
The 6DS is broadly consistent with the World Energy Outlook Current Policy Scenario through 2040.

The 4°C Scenario (4DS) takes into account recent pledges made by countries to limit emissions and step up efforts to improve energy efficiency, which helps limit long-term temperature rise to 4°C (by 2500).
The 4DS is, in many respects, already an ambitious scenario that requires significant changes in policy and technologies compared with the 6DS.
This long-term target also requires significant additional cuts in emissions in the period after 2050; yet with average temperature likely to rise by almost 3°C by 2100, it still carries the significant hazard of bringing forth drastic climate impacts.
(p 17)

[For] the first time since the IEA started monitoring clean energy progress, not one of the [clean energy technology fields (ie renewable power and heat, nuclear power, gas-fired power, coal-fired power, CCS, industry, iron and steel, cement, transport, fuel economy, electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, buildings, building envelopes, appliances and equipment, co-generation and district heating and cooling, smart grids, energy storage or hydrogen) was on track to meet its objectives under the 2°C Scenario.]
(p 4, emphasis added)

[Within the renewable power field, solar] PV is the only technology on track to meet its 2DS power generation target by 2025.
Its capacity is forecast to grow by 18% annually between 2014 and 2020. …
If these medium-term trends continue, solar PV could even surpass its 2025 target.

Improvement Needed
(p 24)

Low-priced coal was the fastest-growing fossil fuel in 2013, and coal-fired generation increased in all regions. …
Natural gas-fired power, a cleaner and more flexible generation fuel than coal, slowed markedly on global markets in 2013-14, unable to compete against low coal prices. …

Total electricity generation in 2012:
  • 40% coal-fired
  • 21% renewable [— wind and solar 2.8%]
  • 11% nuclear …
(p 8)

[The] first commercial-scale coal-fired power plant (CFPP) with CO2 capture [was opened] in October 2014.
(p 9)

… 90% of CO2 emissions from the unit … will be captured and stored underground through enhanced oil recovery … without storage-focused monitoring. …
To meet the 2DS, the rate of CO2 being stored per year will need to increase by an order of magnitude.
(p 32)

[Enhanced oil recovery currently] remains the only commercial driver for carbon capture projects.
(p 12)

In 2014, global renewable electricity generation rose by an estimated 7% (350 TWh) …
OECD non-member economies continued to dominate global renewable generation, with their share increasing to around 55%.
China remained the largest market, accounting for an estimated 23% of overall renewable electricity generation in 2014.

In 2014 … over 45 gigawatts (GW) of new [onshore wind, and 40 GW of new solar photovoltaic] capacity was installed globally …
(p 17)

Renewable Power Generation by Technology — 2°C Scenario

(Adapted from Figure 1.7)
On TrackImprovement NeededNot On Track
Solar PVHydropowerSolar Thermal Electricity

Onshore windOffshore Wind




(p 25)

At the beginning of 2014, 72 [nuclear] reactors were under construction, the highest number for more than 25 years. …
[Gross installed capacity is] currently at 396 GW [and] is projected to reach 438 GW to 593 GW by 2025 …
[Under the 2°C Scenario] global nuclear capacity would need to reach 585 GW by that time.
(p 26)

Last year China overtook the United States in annual investment in smart grid technologies.
(p 56)

By 2020 the average lifetime emissions intensity of all new-build plants in China, India and the United States will need to fall to levels near half that of current gas-fired plants …
(p 64)

The average CO2 intensity of electricity generation has fallen since 2000 in [China, the United States and the European Union. …]
Policies to phase out inefficient coal plants and wider deployment of wind and solar power helped to cut emissions intensity by 17% in China between 2000 and 2012.
The development of cheap shale gas in the United States triggered a switch from coal to gas-fired generation that lowered average emissions intensity by 19%.
In the European Union, reductions in emissions intensity have been more modest as policies to phase out nuclear power, combined with ongoing use of coal, have partially offset rapid expansion of renewable generation.
[By contrast,] the emissions intensity of electricity generation in India has risen slightly (by 2%) because rapid growth in electricity demand has been mainly satisfied by subcritical coal plants and because existing coal capacity is ageing and poorly maintained.
(p 69)

Each 1% reduction in electricity consumption in the buildings sector … can help to reduce emissions from power generation by 60 MtCO2, equivalent to an installed capacity of 45 GW of wind power (15,000 turbines) or 23 GW of coal-fired power (46 plants).
(p 75)

(Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2015)

November 10, 2012

Acid Rain

Naomi Oreskes: Merchants of Doubt

[There is evidence] that a straight-out command and control approach might [be more efficient than] cap and trade …
It is well established that the lack of immediate financial benefits leads companies to underinvest in R & D …
[This is because the benefits of] pollution prevention [are poorly] reflected in the market price of goods and services … the incentives for private investment are weak.
Competitive forces just don't provide enough justification for the long-term investment required …
[When] government establishes a regulation, it creates demand [and companies respond with innovation.]
[There] may even be cost savings … as obsolete technologies are replaced with state-of-the art ones [— something companies would not have done] had they not been forced to.
(p 105, emphasis added)

The empirical evidence shows that … regulation provides a strong and continuous stimulus for invention.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and regulatory compliance is a powerful form of necessity.
(p 106)

November 7, 2012


Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970):
[In ancient times a] man who took no interest in politics was frowned upon, and was called an 'idiot', which is Greek for 'given over to private interests'.
(Wisdom of the West, 1959, p 11)

It is not ultimately by violence that men are ruled, but by the wisdom of those who appeal to the common desires of mankind,
  • for happiness,
  • for inward and outward peace, and
  • for the understanding of the world in which, by no choice of our own, we [all] have to live.
(Power, 1938, p 185)

The Taming of Power

[It] must be evident that democracy … is an essential part of the solution [to the problem of the taming of power.]
[However, the] complete solution is not to be found by confining ourselves to political conditions …
[We] must take account also of economics, of propaganda, and of psychology as affected by circumstances and education.
(p 187)

[There] should be toleration of all propaganda not involving incitement to break the law …
[And] the law, should be as tolerant as is compatible with technical efficiency and the maintenance of order.
(p 189)

If there were ever an international government, it would obviously have to be a federation of national governments, with strictly defined powers.
(p 191)

[As] a result of modern technique, organisations tend to grow and to coalesce and to increase their scope …
[Hence,] the political State must either increasingly take over economic functions, or partially abdicate in favour of vast private enterprises which are sufficiently powerful to defy or control it.
If the State does not acquire supremacy over such enterprises, it becomes their puppet, and they become the real State.
(p 194)

[And, if] concentration of power in a single organisation — the State — is not to produce the evils of despotism in an extreme form, it is essential that power within that organisation should be widely distributed, and that subordinate groups should have a large measure of autonomy.
Without democracy, devolution, and immunity from extra-legal punishment, the coalescence of economic and political power is nothing but a new and appalling instrument of tyranny.
(p 198)

[Fear,] rage, and all kinds of violent collective excitement, tend to make men blindly follow a leader, who, in most cases, takes advantage of their trust to establish himself as a tyrant. …
[And where] a spirit of ferocious dogmatism prevails, any opinion with which men disagree is liable to provoke a breach of the peace.
(p 200)

Revivalist enthusiasm, such as that of the Nazis, rouses admiration in many through the energy and apparent self-abnegation that it generates.
Collective excitement, involving indifference to pain and even to death, is historically not uncommon.
Where it exists, liberty is impossible. …

To admire collective enthusiasm is reckless and irresponsible, for its fruits are fierceness, war, death, and slavery.
War is the chief promoter of despotism …
[If,] once the world were freed from the fear of war, under no matter what form of government or what economic system, it would in time find ways of curbing the ferocity of its rulers.
On the other hand, all war, but especially modern war, promotes dictatorship by causing the timid to seek a leader and by converting the bolder spirits from a society into a pack.

The risk of war causes a certain kind of mass psychology, and reciprocally this kind, where it exists, increases the risk of war, as well as the likelihood of despotism.
(p 201)

The temper required to make a success of democracy is, in the practical life, exactly what the scientific temper is in the intellectual life; it is a half-way house between scepticism and dogmatism.
Truth, it holds, is neither completely attainable nor completely unattainable …
[It] is attainable to a certain degree, and that only with difficulty. …

Wherever there is autocracy, a set of beliefs is instilled into the minds of the young before they are capable of thinking, and these beliefs are taught so constantly and so persistently that it is hoped the pupils will never afterwards be able to escape from the hypnotic effect of their early lessons.
(p 203)

To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy.
Modern propagandists have learnt from advertisers, who led the way in the technique of producing irrational belief.
Education should be designed to counteract the natural credulity and the natural incredulity of the uneducated:
[The] habit
  • of believing an emphatic statement without reasons, and
  • of disbelieving an unemphatic statement even when accompanied by the best of reasons. …
There have been in the past eminent orators and writers who defended, with an appearance of great wisdom, positions which no one now holds: the reality of witchcraft, the beneficence of slavery, and so on.
(p 204)

[Wisdom] is not merely intellectual …
[Intellect] may guide and direct, but [it] does not generate the force that leads to action.
[That] force must be derived from the emotions.
Emotions that have desirable social consequences are not so easily generated as hate and rage and fear.
(p 205)