CLIMATE SCAMS: 7 ROADS TO HELL ON EARTH
Global Warming – It’s the Sun! Cosmic Rays! the U.S. Military – anybody but us, the common car-driving, energy sucking, Western-style humanoid.
Welcome to the Radio Ecoshock guide to climate change scams – the wrong-headed ideas, and pork-barrel wrong turns, that stall, stall, stall, real solutions to rapid climate change.
Someone once said there are as many ideas, and excuses, as there are humans. We wouldn’t want it any other way. But if you are about to drive off a cliff, new theories about our ability to fly, or survive a thousand foot plunge, aren’t really helpful. Maybe we should take our foot off the accelerator instead. Try the brakes.
In another hour long special, we’ll be examining real solutions to climate change. But right now, get ready for a quick count-down of quack theories and big business scams that guarantee your grandchildren will be migrating toward the poles, if they can.
CRACKPOT THEORY NUMBER ONE
Up in Alaska, the American military has been operating a secret project called HAARP – that’s spelled with two A’s, if you want to Google it. The boys with billion dollar toys have set up whole acres of high frequency radio transmitters with dubious aims. They claim to be developing a way to communicate with underwater submarines, and their forces around the world. But government documents also show an intent to control weather events for military or economic warfare.
This may be possible. The radio waves can disturb the upper layers of the atmosphere, the ionosphere, almost anywhere on Earth, using a kind of bouncing. One idea is to add power to a pre-existing hurricane or typhoon, over an enemy country, to make the storm much worse. The U.S. Military has declared they want to control weather as a weapon. They’ve been working on it for decades, and spent countless secret billions on the HAARP project.
But there is a big difference between weather and climate. You might boost a storm, but that doesn’t change the climate on Earth, for thousands of years, the way our industrial pollution can. Plenty of reputable scientists have looked into the HAARP conspiracy claims, and they don’t buy it as a cause for climate change. This theory builds on the justifiable distrust of the American government, and its stated aims of military domination of Earth – but just because a conspiracy is afoot doesn’t make it real.
My apologies to the woman who calls my show every week every time climate change is mentioned, to tell me all about HAARP, and pass on the websites and authors specializing in this theory. Call me a fool, but I’m going to throw my belief toward the thousands of scientists, from all over the world, who are as close to certainty as anyone can be, that humans are triggering massive climate change. People, don’t bother calling me about HAARP as a cause of climate change.
OFF-BASE THEORY TWO: BLAME THE SUN
A whole chorus of media deniers are leaping on to a bandwagon started by just two scientists in Europe. The new story is that the whole solar system is melting, because of a storm of extra cosmic rays coming from the sun.
Like most corny ideas, this one is based on a kernel of truth. Yes, the climate has changed dramatically many times over the last billion years. It goes from steaming hot to glaciers, without any help from humans. We don’t yet know why, for sure. The prevalent theory involves a slight shift in the axis of the Earth, over hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps acting in tandem with storms on the Sun, seen here on Earth as Sun Spots. Generally, these changes develop over long periods, much longer than homo-sapiens have been on Earth.
Now friends of the oil industry, or plain contrarians who like to see their names in the media, have come forward claiming that this very moment in history, the 21st century, just happens to be one of those swing times. Don’t worry about your gas guzzling car, and turn on all the lights, because humans have nothing to do with it, they say.
Gosh, I feel better already. It’s just an accident we are filling the sky with greenhouse gases, at the very time the Sun is getting cranky. And look, Mars is warming up too! It was 109 degrees below zero, and now it’s a balmy 105 degrees, we think, based on very limited research. All the planets are hotting up, so relax and let the carbon party roll. Alleged science that makes us guilt free, I like that.
Based on the acres of newsprint given to this theory, in business-oriented newspapers like Canada’s National Post, and on reactionary TV programs – you know, the ones with lots of ads for SUV’s – you would think the cosmic ray theory is backed by the majority of scientists.
Not really. Let’s tune in to a column by UK columnist George Monbiot, published March 13th, 2007 in the Guardian newspaper. He was answering this “the Sun is doing it” theory as promoted in a British Channel 4 alleged documentary called “The Great Global Warming Swindle.”
“The film’s main contention is that the current increase in global temperatures is caused not by rising greenhouse gases, but by changes in the activity of the Sun. It is built around the discovery in 1991 by the Danish atmospheric physicist Dr Eigil Friis-Christensen that recent temperature variations on earth are in “strikingly good agreement” with the length of the cycle of sunspots – the shorter they are, the higher the temperature(2).
Unfortunately, he found nothing of the kind. A paper published in the journal Eos in 2004 reveals that the “agreement” was the result of “incorrect handling of the physical data”(3). The real data for recent years show the opposite: that temperatures have continued to rise as the length of the sunspot cycle has increased. When this error was exposed, Friis-Christensen and his co-author published a new paper, purporting to produce similar results(4). But this too turned out to be an artifact of mistakes they had made – in this case in their arithmetic(5).
So Friis-Christensen and another author developed yet another means of demonstrating that the Sun is responsible, claiming to have discovered a remarkable agreement between cosmic radiation influenced by the Sun and global cloud cover(6). This is the mechanism the film proposes for global warming. But, yet again, the method was exposed as faulty. They had been using satellite data which did not in fact measure global cloud cover. A paper in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics shows that when the right data are used, a correlation is not found(7).
So the hypothesis changed again. Without acknowledging that his previous paper was wrong, Friis-Christensen’s co-author, Henrik Svensmark, declared that there was in fact a correlation – not with total cloud cover but with “low cloud cover”(8). This too turned out to be incorrect(9). Then, last year, Svensmark published a paper purporting to show that cosmic rays could form tiny particles in the atmosphere(10). Accompanying it was a press release which went way beyond the findings reported in the paper, claiming it showed that both past and current climate events are the result of cosmic rays(11).
As Dr Gavin Schmidt of NASA has shown on www.realclimate.org, five missing steps would have to be taken to justify the wild claims in the press release. “We’ve often criticised press releases that we felt gave misleading impressions of the underlying work”, Schmidt says, “but this example is by far the most blatant extrapolation-beyond-reasonableness that we’ve seen.”(12) None of this seems to have troubled the programme makers, who report the cosmic ray theory as if it trounces all competing explanations.”
Unlike the film’s producer, Martin Durkin, who incidentally was already censured by the British TV authority for fudging facts on a previous alleged documentary – George Monbiot footnotes all the science for the claims he makes. And they lead to real research papers by real scientists.
Because there is a possibility that activity on the Sun is a minor factor in our current rapid warming, scientists do not discount this theory entirely. It is possible that, say 10 percent, or warming IS caused by changes in the Sun. So what. Those changes are being magnified many times over by the greenhouse gases we create – the atmospheric mirrors that hold and build heat, from whatever source, right here on Earth.
You and I are making the other 90%, or 95%, whatever the case may be. The Sun will do whatever it does, over hundreds of years, and hundreds of thousands of years, but your action, personally and politically, causes climate change. Sorry. That’s the inconvenient truth.
INDULGENT SCAM NUMBER THREE
Hey, I went to Bali in a monster carbon burning airplane last winter, but I don’t worry. I paid ten bucks to plant a few trees somewhere. My house burns enough carbon to power ten villages in Pakistan, but that’s all taken care of. My lifestyle is totally green – all with the magic of carbon offsets.
The Catholic Church has the same scam going in the Middle Ages. Sinners could just buy a piece of paper from the Vatican that absolved them from their wrong-doing. These scraps of paper were called “Indulgences” and they sold like hot-cakes. Presumably you showed them to Saint Peter, and got into heaven instead of Hell.
Dell computer donates two bucks from every laptop to offset carbon dioxide emissions from their computers.
Now some Hollywood celebrities are claiming a green lifestyle, showing off their scraps of paper for carbon offsets. But the way these schemes are working, or not working, will take their descendants straight to Hell, and our too.
The trouble is, most of these carbon offset firms claim to be saving carbon by planting trees. But scientists say that won’t really save any carbon. First of all, most of the tree planting is conveniently close to home, in the temperate countries. In British Columbia, premier Gordon Campbell sees a whole new future for the dying forest industry – and I do mean dying forests, now that global warming has released the pine boring disaster – by planting new trees to offset other carbon emissions.
Young trees do absorb carbon dioxide. But, because they are darker than grasslands, they absorb more of the sun’s heat. They change the Albedo effect, the reflection of Sun’s rays. And that’s even more true of evergreens that protrude from the snow in the winter, in Northern latitudes. So the warming influence cancels out the carbon storage.
Worse, the trees eventually die, releasing the carbon – and they may die on mass, as they are now doing in the Rocky Mountains, sending up clouds of carbon, generally in uncontrollable forest fires.
Planting trees in the tropics might be more workable. Not only do they store more carbon there, trees also send down roots that cause more water evaporation. In theory, this creates clouds that shade the Earth. But we aren’t really sure of the total impact, because water vapor is also a global warming gas. In any event, for every tiny patch planted by guilty airplane passengers, a whole forest is being chopped down for biofuels, which is our next scam.
GIGANTIC SCAM NUMBER FOUR: BIOFUELS
Scientists and planners talk about “wedges” – a series of part-solutions that can add up to salvation from climate disaster. A viable part of that big plan could be biofuels – burning plant material instead of oil from underground.
Plants take carbon out of the air, so when we burn them in our cars, as ethanol for example, we are just returning carbon that was already there. That’s better than mining new concentrated carbon like coal or oil.
The theory sounds good. It is more or less working in Brazil, where sugar cane, which can grow almost untended, is used to produce ethanol, which fuels 85% of the cars of Brazil.
But when we blow this up to a global scheme, and apply it to the crazed and greedy world of mass humanity, something very bad happens. We end up creating much more carbon that we thought we saved. In fact, the whole plant world of Earth becomes just a big machine that feeds our gas pumps. Nothing left for the other species, and in fact, let’s get rid of any plants that don’t feed our cars and trucks.
That is exactly what is happening in the most critical areas of Earth, the lungs of the planet in the Amazon and Indonesia. Some scientists report that up to 20% of all the human-caused greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere in the last 5 years come from just one source: deforestation, especially of the rainforests.
[Clip from Deutche Welle’s “Living Planet” – scientist explains that deforestation is the number two source of greenhouse gases – 20% – equal to the pollution of the United States. Indonesia is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases – even though their industry and transpo are undeveloped. It comes from burning the rainforest.]
Those rainforests are very dense with vegetation. They hold countless tons of carbon, and they shelter a peat bog loaded with even more carbon, from decomposition. In the last few years, you may have noticed the occasional news article about smoke from Indonesia floating over Malaysia and Singapore, creating horrible health problems and irritation. In fact, the rainforests of Indonesia are being burned down to plant two crops: soybeans, for animal feed, and palm oil, for biofuels. These palm oil plantations, often financed by Chinese interests, are a blight on the rainforest, and may kill off well known species like the Oran Utan. They may also tip Earth’s climate change out of control.
The palm oil ends up going to would-be green countries like the Netherlands, which brags about using this alternative fuel in their power stations, to save the environment!
Worldwide, the biofuel craze is spurring deforestation. According to Stephen Leahy, writing for InterPress on March 22nd, nearly 40,000 hectares of forest vanish every day, driven by the world’s growing hunger for timber, paper, and biofuels. The Palm Oil craze has spread to Thailand, Malaysia and other countries in Africa. In Asia, it is now being called “Deforestation Diesel”. And the natural forests are being replaced by a monoculture, stripped of species, so we can drive around. And these palm oil plantations hold a tiny fraction of the carbon sequestered by the previous dense jungle forests.
Add up the carbon costs of shipping the oil by tankers across the globe, processing it in energy hungry refineries, transporting it to a local station – and the carbon savings is where? In your imagination.
Some claim there is a small space for real biofuels made from waste, such as animal manure – but that should be going back to the land instead of oil-based fertilizers. Really there is no waste in Nature, and not enough biomass to spare to keep our SUV’s rolling down oily asphalt highways.
Biofuels are developing into a scam that ruins the Earth, and may kill us anyway. But politicians love it – as a way to prop up ailing car industries with an allegedly “green” fuel.
GOD-AWFUL SCAM NUMBER FIVE: NUCLEAR POWER WILL SAVE US.
You know there is something wrong when perennial Greenpeace founder and paid corporate spokesperson Patrick Moore endorses something. He’s told us how good clear cuts are for mountain slopes, how vinyl is great for us, and fish farms too. This year, he was hired to trot out his Greenpeace Founder cash cow for the nuclear industry.
And that industry, which hasn’t built a new reactor in the United States for 30 years, is already gushing with new green goodness. Yep, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island are behind us now – it’s time to save the planet with more radioactive goo.
Look the French are doing it. They get 85 percent of their electricity from nuclear power. Of course, insider publications like Nucleonics Week are loaded with near misses in the French nuclear plants. It will only take one accident, at one reactor, to shut down the lights of France, and wreck their famous countryside. But hey, it’s worth the risk just to keep on using tons of energy. Why turn out a light, just to keep your country from being soaked in radiation for a hundred thousand years? Doesn’t make sense worrying, does it?
Lately You tube has been littered with videos from front groups receiving thinly veiled funding from the Nuclear Industry. One says that energy supply is more important than the environment. Is it? What good is an air-conditioner if the crops all wilt in the fields? Can we live without a habitable environment?
I won’t run all the clips from nuke happy companies hoping to get the government to insure the un-insurable, to provide construction funding, and, oh yeah, to guarantee investors a healthy profit, no matter what happens. That is what they want, to make this new nuclear renaissance. Classic top-down capitalism, where the big corporations take away the cash, and you, the public swallow all the risk. And maybe a good dose of radiation for your kid’s thyroids as well.
As climate solutions scams go, this is one of the most dangerous. Most nations have already turned away from nuclear energy, and proliferation of nuclear weapons, as an obvious wrong turn in technology. Now they want to bring it back from the Crypt, to save us from our own energy gluttony, from climate change. Don’t buy it.
CRAZY IDEA NUMBER SIX: GEO-ENGINEERING
Would you buy a climate change solution from a guy who invented and made the most horrible weapon in the world? Yes, the father of the hydrogen bomb, the late Edward Teller, and his spawn at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, the cradle of weapons of mass destruction, have a plan to save you from yourselves.
All we have to do is block out the Sun! Remember in the cartoon series, the Simpsons, the evil nuclear plant owner Mr. Burns made a shade to stop the Sun, in order to sell more nuclear electricity. Now art becomes life, as the Lawrence Livermore bunch describe a massive project to launch millions of mirrors into outer space, to deflect the Sun.
Other scientists, some of them quite legitimately worried that humans are not going to change before disaster, are looking at last-ditch technologies to save us. For example, in Arizona Professor Roger Angel, who designed the world’s largest telescope, is now working on the idea of a giant glass sunshade to be launched into space.
Professor Stephen Salter wants to send out 1,000 ships spraying droplets to generate more clouds. You don’t mind it being cloudy all the time, do you?
Maybe you’ve heard Professor Jones’ solution – to add Iron and other nutrients to the oceans, to cause plankton blooms. Plankton soak up serious amounts of CO2. But then these blooms can get out of hand, soaking up all the oxygen need by other life forms, and making vast dead zones. That has already happened in various parts of the world. It took millions of years of evolution for the ocean to find a balance. Maybe we shouldn’t mess with it, since obviously, we don’t know what we are doing.
Or, Cutch Professor Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize winner, suggests we might blast off hundreds of rockets loaded with tons of sulfur, to make a thin veil of pollution to ward off the sun. We’ll bring back acid rain, and maybe damage the ozone layer, but that’s better than a world suddenly four or five degrees hotter. But even he thinks the idea is crazy and crude.
We just got tons of sulphur out of the air, to stop acid rain. Now we’re thinking of using pollution to stop pollution? As George Monbiot pointed out, when asked about geo-engineering – we have to stop emitting carbon, anyway, because it’s being soaked up by the ocean, which is turning more acidic, threatening the ocean food chain. Even if we can block the sun, we are poisoning the ocean.
Couldn’t we just take the bus instead? Or use a bicycle?
Never mind the fact that all the planet’s life depend on the Sun, including our own agriculture. And who cares if the idea would cost zillions of dollars, using a technology nobody has ever tried. We can just go on polluting, knowing that there is an idea out there. That’s all the counts. Surely, the Natural systems will let us off, eventually. I mean, we’ll come up with a technical answer somehow. In the future.
SCAM NUMBER SEVEN: GLOBAL WARMING IS GOOD FOR YOU
As I said at the beginning, there are as many knuckle-headed solutions to climate change as there are fools on the Planet. And that’s plenty. We could go on for hours, but I’ll stop with the most pathetic and vicious lie out there: global warming is good for you.
[clip Canadians for global warming, New Yorkers for global warming]
Or how about this one – the carbon industry wants you to know that carbon dioxide is good for you.
[clip CO2 is good]
Do I need to tell you that human civilization as we know it goes to Hell if we allow rapid climate change to happen? And not just us, the whole world of animals and plants face hardship and massive extinctions. Billions of deaths and climate refugees await humanity while these mindless idiots tell us not to worry. It’s the Dick Cheney school of Planet Management – grab the profits and run – but run where? To the arctic?
[James Lovelock clip, the last breeding pairs]
I’m Alex Smith, and you have been listening to the Radio Ecoshock 2007 countdown of climate change scams. Let’s go for real solutions, like renewable energy and conservation. Then you can bypass Go, Collect the $200 in a new carbon-free economy, and go on playing in a world worth living in.
Find these programs, and a lot more, all free, at our website, www.ecoshock.org