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Delusionist diehards

August 14th, 2007

Between the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the on-air demolition of Martin Durkin and, most significantly, John Howard’s self-proclaimed conversion from ‘sceptic’ to ‘realist’ on climate change, I had the impression that delusionism was finally a spent force within the government. It was known that a couple of senior ministers, most notably Ian MacFarlane and Nick Minchin, remained unconvinced, but they seemed willing to keep quiet most of the time. Even the commentariat seemed to be cautiously backing away.

The report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Science and Innovation suggests all this was premature. Four of the six government members of the committee (Dennis Jensen Jackie Kelly, Danna Vale and David Tollner) signed a dissenting report denying that human activities are disturbing the climate in dangerous ways, and describing those who accept the mainstream view as “fanatics�. If this is the view of government members who have chosen to serve on a committee devoted to science, one can only guess at how widespread such ideas are within the government.

I plan a piece for Thursday’s Fin looking at all this. Of course, I’m not going to bother with silly talking points about climate change on Triton. The real question here is how such beliefs can maintain a hold, long after the corporate push behind them has evaporated and at a time when they are so obviously a political albatross for the Howard government and for the political right as a whole. The right (at least in Australia and the US) has entered the kind of self-reinforcing pattern of disconnection from reality that long characterised the Marxist left.

Update This report has really hit the big time, making it into the Washington Post. Too much blog comment to list everything, but don’t miss Trevor Cook.

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  1. Chris O’Neill
    August 14th, 2007 at 11:10 | #1

    There are better qualified people than Jensen (he’s a metallurgist) who have adopted a credulist position so his qualification is no guarantee against it. People like to put forward someones qualifications as a basis for their credibility but I’d say this isn’t reliable unless they are qualified to the extent of regularly and recently publishing well-reviewed papers in the subject.

  2. Hermit
    August 14th, 2007 at 11:41 | #2

    At least these people cannot be accused of hypocrisy down the track. Two possible contexts are
    1) the failure of clean coal. Their position being that it was never necessary.
    2) likely increased Chinese coal demand http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/5/13/105158/220 Let’s see how PM Rudd handles this one.

  3. Roger Jones
    August 14th, 2007 at 11:49 | #3

    Frankly, I remain disgusted and disillusioned with what passes as “thinking” in the 21st century. We have had people like Kevin Donnelly fulminating in the press about the dumbing down of the education system. What sort of endorsement is it of the education system over past decades if we have elected members of parliament, prominent people in business and “thinkers” comprising much of the commentariat who cannot tell the difference between rhetoric and evidence? Where ideology colours people’s opinions to such an extent they cannot separate ore from dross? Honestly, the “wide open spaces” in Australia are between peoples ears, listening is a lost art because of the deafening cacophany of dog whistles, and anybody capable of engaging in critical thought is irrelevant because they fail to connect with the politics of the day.

    Anyone dependent on the public purse cannot criticise the products of such poor thinking because it conflicts with current policies, which are as degrading as they are far-reaching. Where have we come to when it is controversial to define clear thinking and demand it in public discourse, policy and in the classroom? Currently it is impossible to exceed the bathetic limits of political debate, where cheap ideology and mini-me tooism reign supreme.

    If we understand risk properly, we will see that parts of it can be defined scientifically, which relies on evidence – and that evidence is interpreted within a logical, not a rhetorical framework; others parts of risk are value-based, which is where moral and ethical arguments, utilising both rhetoric and evidence, reside. Yet science is degraded by false subjectivity and meaning by false objectivity. Plenty of room for debate, but let’s not pretend that climatic trends on another planet have anything to do with our own, or that scientific conclusions which can be used to imply market failure can be discounted because of our own normative conclusions about how markets should work.

    It is vital to the public process to better define risk and to articulate where the hard, scientific, aspects lie and where the “soft” value-based aspects lie and how they interact.

    (Steps down off soap-box)

  4. August 14th, 2007 at 12:22 | #4

    Is Michael Costa considered to be on the right?

  5. jquiggin
    August 14th, 2007 at 13:58 | #5

    He’s generally regarded as the most prominent and hardline single member of the “NSW Right” faction, which in turn is regarded as the most rightwing grouping within the ALP. To the extent that there are any Wets left in the Liberal party, Costa would be to their right.

    For that matter, although Marn Ferguson is a hereditary princeling of the Socialist Left, his actual views would not be out of place among the more troglodyte members of the Liberal backbench.

    Party affiliation is not a reliable guide in these matters.

  6. Razor
    August 14th, 2007 at 15:03 | #6

    Recent revision of US temperatures by NASA shows 1934 to be the hottest year, not 1998.

    They keep moving the freaking goal posts both past and future – and we are expected to invest trillions and lower our future standards of living based on this inconclusive science.

    And Australia, emmitting about the same amount as global aircraft emmisions is expected to BOHICA while the rest of the world merrily goes along improving their own lot.

    What a joke!

  7. Neil
    August 14th, 2007 at 15:43 | #7

    Razor, NASA’s revision was tiny; if this amounts to moving the goal posts – well we can all continue to play the game without noticing the move. JQ, I don’t know what the problem you see is supposed to be. Except for a very few cynical liars, don’t you think that most of the denialists convinced themselves of the truth of what they were saying? There is a reason why science is said to advance one funeral at a time: even well-motivated people find it hard to revise their beliefs. And the denialists were never well-motivated.

  8. August 14th, 2007 at 15:50 | #8

    … And look who did the fact-checking for the dissenting report:

    Acknowledgements

    We wish to thank the following people for reviewing the scientific accuracy of this report:

    1. Professor R.S. Lindzen (Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT)
    2. Professor J.R. Christy (University of Alabama, Huntsville)
    3. Professor G.W. Paltridge (Director of the Antarctic CRC and IASOS, University of Tasmania)
    4. Professor R.M. Carter (James Cook University)
    5. Associate Professor C.R. de Freitas (University of Auckland)
    6. W. Kininmonth (Retired Head of the National Climate Centre, Australia)

    Dr Dennis Jensen MP, Hon Jackie Kelly MP, Hon Danna Vale MP, Mr David Tollner MP 13 August 2007

    A veritable who’s who of denialism.

  9. August 14th, 2007 at 15:55 | #9

    BTW, has everyone seen this? AFB!

    Its just a tad better than “They call it pollution. We call it life.” Its nice to have the creatives on side. We’re going to need them.

  10. jquiggin
    August 14th, 2007 at 16:02 | #10

    You’ve been sucked in again, Razor. Do a proper search instead of reading rightwing blogs and you’ll see what a lame beatup this is.

  11. Peter Wood
    August 14th, 2007 at 16:13 | #11

    I’m reading Guy Pearse’s book “High and Dry” on Howard and climate change and it discusses this stuff in quite a bit of detail. It seems that the delusionist Lavoisier group has quite a bit of influence over cabinet. From p150 of the book:

    Nor was it intended that the public would hear that one of the cabinet m inisters closest to Howard circulated Lavoisier’s Nine Lies document to the entire South Australian liberal party state executive in 2006. To the think-tanks, it matters little whether they are creditedfor the arguments as long as their ideas are picked up. As one senior player inside the Lavoisier group confidently stated to me, the main thing is that there ‘is an understanding in cabinet that all the science is cr-p.’

    The other interesting players seem to me to be the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network (also known as the greenhouse mafia). It seems to me that they have changed their position on climate change – they no longer oppose doing something about it and support policies like having an emisions trading scheme. It is very interesting to look at the submissions to the National Emissions Trading Taskforce and the Task Group on Emissions Trading from the AIGN and other groups such as the Australian Aluminium Council. These submissions are on the web. It seems to be that what they are doing now could be described as “gaming the system through crying wolf”. Their main claim is that a carbon price signal could make industries like aluminium production leave Australia causing ‘carbon leakage’, and they therefore should be given free permits. The carbon intensity of Australia’s energy implies that there would still be an emission reduction if these industries were to relocate overseas.

  12. Peter Wood
    August 14th, 2007 at 16:17 | #12

    I’m not sure if this one is a joke or not – it’s hard to tell sometimes

    ” This video exposes the global socialist conspiracy to rob hard-working Americans of V-8 power and discredit the Bible. The eco-communist Gaia movement exists solely to control the citizenry and tax future generations into the poorhouse. “

  13. wilful
    August 14th, 2007 at 16:25 | #13

    Here’s the realclimate view on the 1934 issue:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/1934-and-all-that/

    What a beat-up!

  14. August 14th, 2007 at 16:33 | #14

    Peter Wood:

    By far the most interesting revelation in High and Dry comes about two-thirds down page 249: “The one bloke they won’t be interviewing soon is…”

    The book itself is a bit repetitive and suffers from acronym overload. By comparison “Scorcher” is a page turner.

  15. krusty
    August 14th, 2007 at 16:47 | #15

    “Omigod the dirtiest known fuels on the planet are becoming scarcer and more expensive – the sky is falling!!”

    Yes there’s always you for a good laugh Razor, persistently putting in the hard thinking yards in order to improve your own lot. You won’t find Peter’s link to be quite a nice spoof on your studly band of tootin’ ‘n pollutin’ fellow delusionists.

  16. Peter Wood
    August 14th, 2007 at 16:48 | #16

    You are right Carbonsink, Scorcher is more to the point and well written. I didn’t read all of Part 1 of High and Dry and went straight to Part 2 – I wanted to get “straight to the dirt” so to speak.. That revelation on page 249 was pretty funny.

  17. Ken Miles
    August 14th, 2007 at 17:31 | #17

    Just like creationists misuse quotations to provide an argument from authority so do Jensen and co.

    They include a quotation from John Christy to support their no anthropogenic global warming, ignoring that Christy’s views on AGW are very very different to theirs. For example, Christy drafted and signed this statement:

    Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth’s climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth’s history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.

    Human impacts on the climate system include increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and their substitutes, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.), air pollution, increasing concentrations of airborne particles, and land alteration. A particular concern is that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide may be rising faster than at any time in Earth’s history, except possibly following rare events like impacts from large extraterrestrial objects.

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have increased since the mid-1700s through fossil fuel burning and changes in land use, with more than 80% of this increase occurring since 1900. Moreover, research indicates that increased levels of carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. It is virtually certain that increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will cause global surface climate to be warmer.

  18. gordon
    August 14th, 2007 at 18:44 | #18

    Not all denialists are just “for sale”; there are genuine, intelligent non-believers too, like Nigel Calder.

    Prof. Quiggin has lectured readers of this blog on the costs of ignoring the big risks, but that sort of lecture doesn’t compute with those who can’t tell the difference between balancing probabilities and having an absolute certainty. There are no absolute certainties in science, none. Not even AGW. Every hypothesis is just the best explanation we have come up with so far. But there will always be people who won’t spend a cent except on a “sure thing”.

  19. peterd
    August 14th, 2007 at 19:09 | #19

    #4. Terje (“say Tay-a� ) wrote:
    Is Michael Costa considered to be on the right?

    So, what does Michael Costa have to do with this, Terje? Are you implying he’s a leftie of some kind?
    When a genuine old-style leftie like Alexander Cockburn (as distinct from a new-Labour apparatchik like Costa) can publish several articles of pseudo-scientific nonsense in The Nation, articles in which he shows himself to be one of the most gullible of GW contrarians, then we may suspect “global-warming skepticism� is not ordered along left-right political lines.
    That said, I think there is a preponderance of right-leaning types among GW “sceptics�. I believe this has much to do with the right’s hatred of the environmental movement in general. This shows that Costa must be on the the far right of the labour movement.

    Peter
    (say “Peter�)

  20. Jill Rush
    August 14th, 2007 at 21:44 | #20

    Your comparison of Denialists with Creationists is apt Ken Miles.

    Despite all of the credible evidence that the world was not created in 7 days there are many who fervently believe that only the story of Genesis in the Bible has it right. The rise of the religious fundamentalists and the beliefs of the delusionists are very similar; a great deal of anger towards those who see things differently; a great sense of self righteousness; a great desire to impose their views and solutions on others; plus strong belief in limited sources of information which reinforce the preferred world view.

  21. owls001
    August 14th, 2007 at 21:56 | #21

    “self-reinforcing pattern of disconnection from reality that long characterised the Marxist left.”

    JQ I thought you where a historicist as well? afterall just like the Marxists you have “discovered” the rules of climate, and thru your models its ultimate destination, no longer is mankind living in uncertainty,you proclaim.

    have you every heard of georg cantor and set theory btw?

  22. mugwump
    August 14th, 2007 at 22:59 | #22

    Freeman Dyson (obviously another idiot denialist) puts it very well:

    The biosphere is the most complicated of all the things we humans have to deal with. The science of planetary ecology is still young and undeveloped. It is not surprising that honest and well-informed experts can disagree about facts. But beyond the disagreement about facts, there is another deeper disagreement about values. The disagreement about values may be described in an over-simplified way as a disagreement between naturalists and humanists. Naturalists believe that nature knows best. For them the highest value is to respect the natural order of things. Any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil. Excessive burning of fossil fuels is evil. Changing nature’s desert, either the Sahara desert or the ocean desert, into a managed ecosystem where giraffes or tunafish may flourish, is likewise evil. Nature knows best, and anything we do to improve upon Nature will only bring trouble.

    The humanist ethic begins with the belief that humans are an essential part of nature. Through human minds the biosphere has acquired the capacity to steer its own evolution, and now we are in charge. Humans have the right and the duty to reconstruct nature so that humans and biosphere can both survive and prosper. For humanists, the highest value is harmonious coexistence between humans and nature. The greatest evils are poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, disease and hunger, all the conditions that deprive people of opportunities and limit their freedoms. The humanist ethic accepts an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a small price to pay, if world-wide industrial development can alleviate the miseries of the poorer half of humanity. The humanist ethic accepts our responsibility to guide the evolution of the planet.

    To naturalist and humanist I would also add opportunist: those who see climate change as a vehicle to further their own socialist or anti-capitalist politics. I used to be surprise at how anti-humanist most socialists really are.

    Oh, and if we’re talking “denialist”, what kind of a denialist do you have to be to claim that a 60% reduction in CO2 by 2050 will have only 1% impact on people’s lives?

  23. August 14th, 2007 at 23:13 | #23

    So, what does Michael Costa have to do with this, Terje?

    Peterd,

    Michael Costa belongs to the party that occupies the opposite side of the bear pit. Michael Costa is critical of AGW. I wanted to know what John Quiggin (or others) thought of him in this context. I’m more than happy with the answer that John offered.

    Your question has now been answered as was mine.

    Offering a phonetic equivalent for Peter as you do is obviously without any practical purpose. I presume that you wish to mock my name as some form of clever debating tactic. It may surprise you to know that I’ve encountered this strategy before.

  24. mugwump
    August 14th, 2007 at 23:49 | #24

    For a more entertaining take on Climate Change, the inimitable Fake Steve Jobs.

  25. August 15th, 2007 at 07:00 | #25

    it seems wrong and counterproductive to characterize gw skeptics as delusional. the vast majority are perfectly sane on this matter. they speak and act out of self interest. even if wrong as to the science, even if hypocritical, they are not delusional.

    the only widespread delusion in oz society is the fixation that oz is, in some sense, a democracy. there is genuine nation-wide psychosis.

  26. krusty
    August 15th, 2007 at 09:38 | #26

    Get with the program mugwump, why settle for fake IT execs in your climate science reading when you used to be so hot for novelists and Canadian economists? And physicists – Freeman Dyson and Nigel Calder et al are silly old men, what you need for your climatological entertainments is that inimitably silly young physicist and anti-commie crusader Lubos Motl. Get Lumo for a real belly laugh! Then don’t forget to come back and tell us all about what you found out about climate change from him (that’s how we the rest of John’s readers get our own laughs, thanx).

  27. jquiggin
    August 15th, 2007 at 09:48 | #27

    Al, I’d rather you didn’t keep on throwing the democracy stuff randomly into discussion threads. If you want to make a serious argument about this, why don’t you put it in one of the open threads.

    Mugwump, I’d be happy to have a standing bet with you that any controversial proposition put forward by FD is wrong. I’d be worried if he wasn’t a delusionist.

  28. gordon
    August 15th, 2007 at 10:34 | #28

    Mugwump, your Freeman Dyson quote points up very nicely a real issue in the conservation/AGW debates. The quote starts off: “The biosphere is the most complicated of all the things we humans have to deal with. The science of planetary ecology is still young and undeveloped. It is not surprising that honest and well-informed experts can disagree about facts.” How true! Yet, having said that, Dyson can go on to finish with: “The humanist ethic accepts our responsibility to guide the evolution of the planet.”

    The hubris is as amazing as the inability to see the contradiction. We now know how little we know. In our parents’ generation, people either thought we knew it all or that it didn’t matter. But what is “taking responsibility” in the face of an enormously complicated and imperfectly understood system on which your life depends? To a sensible person, it is to be very, very careful. Push the wrong buttons, pull the wrong levers and the whole thing could be wrecked. That isn’t going to alleviate the miseries of the poorer half of humanity; on the contrary, it could kill millions.

  29. derrida derider
    August 15th, 2007 at 10:39 | #29

    owls001, most of the dogmatic certainty I see on AGW is amongst the denialists. Your accusation that JQ is dogmatic is especially bizarre because he’s written a ton of stuff, both at a professional and popular level, on the risk management approach needed in the face of the large uncertainties on the extent and effects of future global warming.

    To cut a long story short, this uncertainty argues for a strategy of relatively cheap measures done right now (the longer we leave it the higher the cost/effectiveness ratio), while also spending a little on preparation (especially technology research) for radically more disruptive measures in case they ever turn out to be needed.

    It’s the “right now” bit that gives some of us the sh*ts at the behaviour of the denialists – that behaviour could end up forcing us into those drastic measures because it’s already cost us a lot of valuable time.

    Unlike al, I think most denialists are just believing what they want to believe. The “grumpy defier of conventional wisdom” self-image is a deeply comforting one (I know because I’m fond of it myself), but unfortunately conventional wisdom sometimes is wisdom. To paraphrase Orwell, some things are true even if Bob Brown (or for that matter George Bush) says they’re true.

  30. mugwump
    August 15th, 2007 at 10:48 | #30

    Ill take that bet.

    Strangely enough, continuing to label anyone who dares question the received AGW wisdom a “delusionist” does not exactly win any of us over. Nor does the constant appeal to authority without addressing any of the science.

    But hey, that’s religion for you. The Holy Writ is infallible.

  31. mugwump
    August 15th, 2007 at 10:58 | #31

    To a sensible person, it is to be very, very careful. Push the wrong buttons, pull the wrong levers and the whole thing could be wrecked. That isn’t going to alleviate the miseries of the poorer half of humanity; on the contrary, it could kill millions.

    Exactly, gordon.

    We know one thing and one thing alone that has successfully lifted billions of people from abject poverty and misery: industrialization and capitalism. Why on earth would you risk the happiness of the remaining impoverished billions on some harebrained CO2 reduction scheme?

  32. jquiggin
    August 15th, 2007 at 11:49 | #32

    Mugwump, as I’ve said before, I no longer have any interest in winning over delusionists. It’s clear that they are beyond argument, and in any case are a political albatross for the government and for the right in general.

    And as DD says, please stop with the “dares question received wisdom” stuff. The vast majority of delusionists, including you, are going along with the conventional wisdom of their group on a basis of tribal loyalty and wishful thinking. (Those acting on a basis of reflexive contrarianism are a much smaller group, but equally hard to shift at this point.)

    If there is anyone who has come to an anti-AGW view on the basis of expert knowledge of the field and careful consideration of the evidence, without preconceptions either way, I’m not aware of them.

  33. snuh
    August 15th, 2007 at 12:05 | #33

    mugwump, invoking concern for the world’s poor may help you convince yourself that you are a good person and that your arguments against action on climate change are moral.

    but consider: if global warming does end up having serious economic consequences, wouldn’t it be sensible to assume those consequences would fall disproportionately on the world’s poor? relevantly, the IPCC’s 4th assessment report concludes that, in the lower latitudes (primarily populated by poor people) and in places with marginal climates (i.e., africa), agricultural yields will fall even with modest 1-2C increases in temperature. they also make the perfectly obvious observation that “poor communities can be especially vulnerable, in particular those concentrated in high-risk areas. They tend to have more limited adaptive capacities, and are more dependent on climate-sensitive resources such as local water and food supplies.”

    if you want to argue against the need for action on climate change, fine. but might i suggest next time picking an argument that actually supports your point?

  34. mugwump
    August 15th, 2007 at 12:33 | #34

    If there is anyone who has come to an anti-AGW view on the basis of expert knowledge of the field and careful consideration of the evidence, without preconceptions either way, I’m not aware of them.

    Me.

    And it is not an “anti-AGW” view. It is “AGW is nowhere near as settled as we are led to believe view”. What are the transition costs of a 60% global CO2 reduction in 40 years? What are the true modeling uncertainties? What are these strange manual adjustments to the temperature record?

    It suits you to continue to paint all skeptics as some kind of fundamentalist believers, or contrarian sheep, for then you can dismiss them without engaging them seriously (eg, I have never seen you seriously address any of the scientific issues raised by McIntyre – you persist in judging him by his association with others). But your attitude only reflects badly on you.

    As for the poor, you offer only hand-waving (albeit quoted from the Holy Writ).

    I am not trying to convince myself that I am moral. I already know that. But I am entirely unconvinced that lowering CO2 emissions will help the poor. I strongly suspect that preventing the globe, including the poor, from emitting CO2 will have a far greater negative impact on their development prospects than will climate change.

  35. snuh
    August 15th, 2007 at 12:59 | #35

    so you can sarcastically dismiss the IPCC as “the holy writ”, but it is incumbent on john quiggin to address each and every argument mcintyre makes on the merits?

  36. August 15th, 2007 at 13:01 | #36

    gordon, your point sums up the problem with Dyson’s thoughts. If one knew how the Earth System behaved intrinsically and under external forcing, one might be able to engineer it (or at least plan to engineer it) to achieve certain goals, but isn’t it true that human beings do not fully understand how the Earth System behaves?

  37. August 15th, 2007 at 13:05 | #37

    “I am not trying to convince myself that I am moral. I already know that. But I am entirely unconvinced that lowering CO2 emissions will help the poor. I strongly suspect that preventing the globe, including the poor, from emitting CO2 will have a far greater negative impact on their development prospects than will climate change.”

    Doesn’t this depend on the efficiencies associated with development?

  38. August 15th, 2007 at 13:07 | #38

    mugwump:

    No-one here is trying to win you over. Its pointless arguing the science with you because you will always deny it with some ready-made answer from http://www.globalwarmingisagiantleftisthoax.com, or worse, Andrew Bolt’s blog.

    It may have been worth attempting to win you over 12-24 months ago when the denialist view still had some support in government, business and the general public, but that is no longer the case.

    The laughter in Parliament when Garrett asked which planet these Government MPs were on was very telling.

  39. mugwump
    August 15th, 2007 at 13:19 | #39

    so you can sarcastically dismiss the IPCC as “the holy writ�, but it is incumbent on john quiggin to address each and every argument mcintyre makes on the merits?

    Just one argument on the merits would be a good start. Try the latest:

    There’s been quite a bit of publicity about Hansen’s Y2K error and the change in the U.S. leaderboard (by which 1934 is the new warmest U.S. year) in the right-wing blogosphere. In contrast, realclimate has dismissed it a triviality and the climate blogosphere is doing its best to ignore the matter entirely.

    My own view has been that matter is certainly not the triviality that Gavin Schmidt would have you believe, but neither is it any magic bullet. I think that the point is significant for reasons that have mostly eluded commentators on both sides.

    Hardly the rantings of a madman, as JQ would have us believe. BTW, the quoted Y2K error was discovered by McIntyre a few days ago. Read the article – it’s interesting.

    Doesn’t this depend on the efficiencies associated with development?

    Of course.

    Carbonsink, I don’t get my answers from those sources. But you are right, you no longer have to win me over. Democracy’s greatest weakness (and strength) is that you only have to win over 51% of the people. That’s why some countries have Bills of Rights: to prevent the herd trampling on everyone else.

    However, lucky for you some of us still believe in fighting the good fight, even when outnumbered. Truth still has a chance of winning out.

  40. snuh
    August 15th, 2007 at 13:46 | #40

    it seems the answer to my question is “yes”

  41. melanie
    August 15th, 2007 at 13:56 | #41

    Let’s not forget the Arctic.
    http://nsidc.org/news/press/2007_seaiceminimum/20070810_index.html

    As of 13 August, “Sea ice extent is currently tracking at 5.4 million square kilometers (2.1 million square miles), with daily extents running at 940,000 square kilometers (361,000 square miles) below previous daily record lows, a significant decline from past years.” 940,000 km2 is approximately the size of South Australia.

    There’s still a month to go before the summer minimum.

  42. jquiggin
    August 15th, 2007 at 14:14 | #42

    For heaven’s sake mugwump read the thread – we’re all up with McIntyre’s latest piece of trivia. The only point of interest is the way the entire rightwing blogosphere has grasped at this straw, managing to make fools of themselves in all sorts of ways.

  43. August 15th, 2007 at 14:56 | #43

    mugwump – “However, lucky for you some of us still believe in fighting the good fight, even when outnumbered. Truth still has a chance of winning out.”

    Which is almost exactly what happened when a group of scientists first became aware of the problem of the enhanced greenhouse effect. They fought a very skeptical scientific community and truth of global warming was fought with peer reviewed science. The truth did win out then and now the scientific community has decided that global warming is a real phenomenon and could cause climate change.

    The latter day skeptics, with one or two notable exceptions, are not part of the scientific community and do not publish peer reviewed science. The truth won out mate. McIntyre and his crew are only interested in finding doubt, not the truth.

    Please read Spencer’s excellent history of the discovery of global warming:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

  44. August 15th, 2007 at 15:05 | #44

    jquiggin – “The only point of interest is the way the entire rightwing blogosphere has grasped at this straw, managing to make fools of themselves in all sorts of ways.”

    Especially as McIntyre is focussing on the annual means. An sorted list of the Top 10 5 year means tells a very different story:

    Year Annual 5 Year
    2000 0.52 0.79
    1999 0.93 0.69
    2004 0.44 0.66
    2001 0.76 0.65
    1932 0.00 0.63
    1933 0.68 0.61
    2003 0.50 0.58
    2002 0.53 0.55
    1998 1.23 0.51
    1988 0.32 0.51

    from this:

    Year Annual 5 Year
    1934 1.25 0.44
    1998 1.23 0.51
    1921 1.15 0.15
    2006 1.13 *
    1931 1.08 0.27
    1999 0.93 0.69
    1953 0.90 0.32
    1990 0.87 0.40
    1938 0.86 0.36
    1939 0.85 0.45

    Which is the top 10 annual means. 1934 was a sharp regional spike whereas recent warming is, from the figures, part of an overall warming trend as evidenced from the 5 year means.

  45. krusty
    August 15th, 2007 at 21:03 | #45

    mugwump is claiming JQ calls McIntyre a madman? Didn’t McIntyre get a thank you from Hansen for his correction of the recent US temp record? What do you want mugwump, nothing short of a beatification for St Steve? I thought we loved him enough already but greater love than yours hath no mythical blog critter, without Steve and the Lavoisier Institute there’d be no wumpish field of climate science would there?

  46. mugwump
    August 15th, 2007 at 21:33 | #46

    For heaven’s sake mugwump read the thread – we’re all up with McIntyre’s latest piece of trivia.

    ??

    This thread was about a dissenting group of MPs.I see above a link to realclimate’s lame response (among other things, Gavin Schmidt claims the 0.03C difference in 5 year means between 1930-1934 and 2001-2006 is significant, whereas the same 0.03C difference between 1998 and 1934 is not significant. Hint for Gavin: neither are significant in the statistical sense. In honest science you don’t get to pick the insignificant difference that suits your position and declare it significant).

    Read McIntyre’s response – it is a far more honest assessment than that offered by the high priests of climate science.

    Especially as McIntyre is focussing on the annual means.

    Absolute rubbish, Ender. Every plot in this post has a five-year and annual mean.

    As for your ranking, what’s your point? That years surrounding a peak in 5 year mean are also warm? That goes without saying. And don’t get too excited about those 1930s values: they’ve been the subject of systematic manual downward revision by NOAA for the last 7 years or so. The 1930s used to be much warmer. Why? Who knows – you’ll have to ask Hansen.

  47. mugwump
    August 15th, 2007 at 21:35 | #47

    krusty, Quiggin has repeatedly libeled McIntyre in this blog. If he has changed his view, let’s hear it from him.

  48. Hal9000
    August 15th, 2007 at 23:12 | #48

    mugwump, I won’t even attempt to engage with you on the science of the issue, other than to state a simple fact: a very large number of scientists in the field seem to believe in AGW. What interests me is derrida derider’s point, which goes to public policy. There is a great deal that can be done now and done cheaply (or even better, with efficiency dividends). If you’re right, and it’s everyone else who’s out of step and wrong, then what’s the big deal about doing stuff cheaply now?

    However – and I know this may be a difficult step, but give it a try just for the sake of argument – if it turns out all these scientists are right and it’s you wot’s wrong, and we’ve followed your prescription and done absolutely nothing about reducing emissions for another decade or two, then the measures we’ll need to take then will be much much more expensive and economically damaging for those poor people you’re lying awake at night worrying about.

    So – your argument is that we should gamble that the vast majority of scientific opinion is simply wrong in order to save a few pennies. If we lose this gamble, we’ll lose big time, but if we win, we’ll have saved those pennies. Damn, that’s convincing logic. I’ll just now go and ring up the insurance company to cancel the house and car insurance. I sure could use those extra few hundred bucks a year.

  49. observa
    August 15th, 2007 at 23:25 | #49

    “Climate science is a very new science and we have only just begun to explore the uncertainties,� said David Stainforth of Oxford University in England who contributed research to the Royal Society.

    “We should expect the uncertainty to increase rather than decrease� in coming years as scientists work to understand the climate, he said.

    Quoted here http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,22234851-5005962,00.html

    And still learning more and more-
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22251145-29277,00.html
    Not that you’d think so listening to the new evangelist know alls and one percenters.

    Meanwhile the usual orange bellied parrots are up to their old squawking tricks.
    http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,22249134-31037,00.html

  50. observa
    August 15th, 2007 at 23:28 | #50

    And I notice wheat at record prices after jumping another 10% in price. More blue sky here for farmers, as we put more and more of the world’s food in our petrol tanks.

  51. mugwump
    August 15th, 2007 at 23:45 | #51

    There is a great deal that can be done now and done cheaply (or even better, with efficiency dividends). If you’re right, and it’s everyone else who’s out of step and wrong, then what’s the big deal about doing stuff cheaply now?

    HAL9000, I have no problem with cheap “solutions”. Given the claimed overwhelming public support for action on climate change, you should have no problem obtaining such cheap reductions voluntarily.

    However, mandated 60% global reductions in the next 40 years is going to be anything but cheap.

  52. observa
    August 16th, 2007 at 00:29 | #52

    Too easy mugwump. You do what Stan Hope in the ACT does. He’s got a moral badge, mission statement to reduce GG emissions by 60% by 2050, but an actual goal of 10% reductions by 2025. Hasn’t the turkey heard of the law of diminishing returns and seen the signs in the paddocks on the approaches to Canberra- ‘This is a wind turbine free zone’
    On second thoughts maybe he has.

    Any way we were talking about revisions to the temperature record and such and a revision of 1998 to 1934 is significant. Here’s a typical report
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,22221359-401,00.html?from=public_rss

    Notice the first couple of paragraphs-

    ‘NATURAL weather variations have offset the effects of global warming for the past couple of years and will continue to keep temperatures flat through 2008, a new study shows

    But global warming will begin in earnest in 2009, and a couple of the years between 2009 and 2014 will eclipse 1998, the warmest year on record to date, in the heat stakes, British meteorologists said today.’

    It doesn’t read quite the same substituting 1934 for 1998 now does it?
    Notice the next sentence too-

    ‘Existing global climate computer models tend to underestimate the effects of natural forces on climate change..’

    Oh do they just? That’s not the impression you get from listening to Al Gore fans. This sort of report is bobbing up more and more frequently, along with that maxm temp revision and I’m certainly not going out of my way to look for them and post them here. They bob up in the day to day News reports and indicate the complexity and inexactness of climate science and increasingly the reasonable doubts of scientists themselves. I get the impression more and more scientists are beginning to step back and look harder at the facts, rather than being swept along in the political emotion of GW. That might be well overdue.

  53. mugwump
    August 16th, 2007 at 00:44 | #53

    Any way we were talking about revisions to the temperature record and such and a revision of 1998 to 1934 is significant.

    Politically significant? Absolutely.

    Scientifically significant? No – the adjustment is in the noise. (however, overall the adjustments are scientifically significant, even though the 1998 1934 swap is not).

    This is a standard pattern from the AGW zealots: propagate alarmist nonsense dressed as science (eg hockeystick, 1998 is warmest year in the last millenium, etc). Then when the truth is finally uncovered a few years later, claim that the debate has “moved on”.

  54. jquiggin
    August 16th, 2007 at 06:30 | #54

    Umm, mugwump, 1998 was easily the warmest year in the last century. This fact has is now being denied by US rightwingers who can’t read or are subject to extreme parochialism along with their other delusions. It has not, as you seem to claim been invalidated by data revisions.

    It seems as if you have been sucked in along with the rest of the delusionists. Or maybe you know the correct position and are pushing delusions yourself.

  55. Hal9000
    August 16th, 2007 at 07:43 | #55

    mugwump, most people are convinced of the safety value of driving below 60 km/h in a built-up area, so you’d be in favour of replacing the current mandatory regime with a voluntary setup?

    Seriously though, have a gander at the still-unfolding history of water efficiencies and regulation in south-east Queensland. It’s only when the heavy hand of the state intervenes you actually get real reductions in usage. The reasons for this are pretty obvious – no-one is going to deprive their own garden of water while the next door neighbour has the hose running 24 hours a day. So it is with the things that have to be done to reduce emissions – even though most people would concede we’ll all benefit. On water, even though actual compliance enforcement is patchy and the penalties are light, Brisbane households have the lowest water consumption in the developed world. Quod erat demonstrandum.

  56. August 16th, 2007 at 07:44 | #56

    mugwump – “As for your ranking, what’s your point? That years surrounding a peak in 5 year mean are also warm? That goes without saying. And don’t get too excited about those 1930s values: they’ve been the subject of systematic manual downward revision by NOAA for the last 7 years or so. The 1930s used to be much warmer. Why? Who knows – you’ll have to ask Hansen.”

    So lacking any real data you now invoke a conspiracy theory – nice work! The point is the the 5 year means top 10 contain mostly the recent decades which shows that the US is warming in line with the global temperatures.

    One error in marrying together 2 data sets does not mean all climate science is wrong. McIntyre found an error in the data because that is all he can do – go over the figures and find little mistakes. Producing the data and/or interpreting it in peer reviewed science is beyond him and the real climate science is done by others.

  57. mugwump
    August 16th, 2007 at 09:53 | #57

    Umm, mugwump, 1998 was easily the warmest year in the last century.

    Not, as it now transpires, in the US. As McIntyre points out: when they showed problems in the record in Colorado, Hansen responded with “you’ve failed to show a systematic problem with the US record”. Now that he has shown systematic errors in the US record, the response is: “you’ve failed to show problems with the global record.” What next? Mars? Rather than making excuses, good scientists would dig deeper to see if there are any other surprises lurking in the data.

    mugwump, most people are convinced of the safety value of driving below 60 km/h in a built-up area, so you’d be in favour of replacing the current mandatory regime with a voluntary setup?

    No Hal. But I am more than happy if you want to use the same standard of proof. When AGW and it’s murderous effects are as well established as death by speeding in built-up areas, I’ll be more than happy to advocate mandatory CO2 reductions.

    The point is the the 5 year means top 10 contain mostly the recent decades which shows that the US is warming in line with the global temperatures.

    Umm, those “decades” are but two: 1997-2007, and the 30′s. We’re told the 30′s were just natural variation. But the noughties? Global Warming, silly.

  58. wilful
    August 16th, 2007 at 10:02 | #58

    “you’ve failed to show a systematic problem with the US record�. Now that he has shown systematic errors in the US record,

    Actually he’s still correct. There was a systematic error (resulting in a trivial correction), but there wasn’t a systematic problem (the error was corrected, and the trend towards warming is still acutely clear).

  59. Ken Miles
    August 16th, 2007 at 10:32 | #59

    Umm, those “decades� are but two: 1997-2007, and the 30’s. We’re told the 30’s were just natural variation. But the noughties? Global Warming, silly.

    The warming in 1934 occurred for a brief period of time in a small geographical area. It was a natural variation on top of the overall rising global temperatures.

  60. Ken Miles
    August 16th, 2007 at 10:36 | #60

    Freeman Dyson writes:

    The biosphere is the most complicated of all the things we humans have to deal with. The science of planetary ecology is still young and undeveloped.

    The obvious conclusion is that if we are significantly changing how the planet atmosphere absorbs radiation and we don’t have a clue about the effects, then we should be very afraid.

  61. mugwump
    August 16th, 2007 at 10:40 | #61

    wilful, the US “trend towards warming” is not “acutely clear” (there are two bumps, one in the 30s, and we’re in the middle of the second one). But rather than argue, I’ll quote McIntyre (a.k.a “The Mad Canadian”) on the significance of his adjustments:

    In addition, while Schmidt describes the changes atop the leader board as “very minor re-arrangements�, many followers of the climate debate are aware of intense battles over 0.1 or 0.2 degree (consider the satellite battles.) Readers might perform a little thought experiment: suppose that Spencer and Christy had published a temperature history in which they claimed that 1934 was the warmest U.S. year on record and then it turned out that they had been a computer programming error opposite to the one that Hansen made, that Wentz and Mears discovered there was an error of 0.15 deg C in the Spencer and Christy results and, after fiixing this error, it turned out that 2006 was the warmest year on record. Would realclimate simply describe this as a “very minor re-arrangement�?

    So while the Hansen error did not have a material impact on world temperatures, it did have a very substantial impact on U.S. station data and a “significantâ€? impact on the U.S. average. Both of these surely “matterâ€?…

  62. snuh
    August 16th, 2007 at 10:46 | #62

    This is a standard pattern from the AGW zealots: propagate alarmist nonsense dressed as science (eg hockeystick, 1998 is warmest year in the last millenium, etc). Then when the truth is finally uncovered a few years later, claim that the debate has “moved on�.

    so why exactly was 1934 the hottest year on record in the US? well, funnily enough, because of human activity. this is of course proof that anthropogenic global warming zealots are all dishonest propagandists.

  63. August 16th, 2007 at 10:51 | #63

    Hey people, just ignore them. Observa may have a point on the cynical political response to GW, but the denialist rhetoric is best ignored.

    Talking of political responses to GW, how will history judge the Howard government? I believe in 20 years time Howard will be remembered for one thing and one thing only: Energy policy.

  64. jquiggin
    August 16th, 2007 at 10:52 | #64

    OK mugwump you’ve convinced me. Like McIntyre, you’re selling delusions, not suffering from them. That’s unlike the many on the right who imagined either that
    (i) the data revisions affected the global temperature record
    (ii) anyone, prior to this, had made anything of the significance of 1998 as regards the continental US.
    You know that both of these claims are false, but you keep pumping the significance of the story, secure in the knowledge that most people on your side of politics are either too lazy or too ignorant to tell the difference.

    Keep up the good work. You are helping to provide empirical support for the proposition that rightwingers are utterly insulated from reality.

  65. gordon
    August 16th, 2007 at 11:12 | #65

    Mugwump, I’m not advocating medieval methods of production. I am advocating renewable, carbon-efficient ones.

  66. gordon
    August 16th, 2007 at 11:32 | #66

    And while I’m still logged in, it’s interesting to note the confusion (see this thread) about exactly why US subprime mortgages, securitised, repackaged and leveraged, are causing such problems in financial markets. There you have a complex, imperfectly understood system which is behaving in unexpected ways. It’s clear that, if there are really going to be severe consequences from a breakdown of this sytem, many people will find themselves broke without clearly knowing why – and that is a purely man-made system. How much more dangerous is it to fiddle on a large scale with a natural system which we didn’t make and understand much less?

  67. mugwump
    August 16th, 2007 at 11:33 | #67

    Oh come on quiggin. Among other things the changes amount to a downward revision of US mean temps by 0.15C post 2000. If you think that is insignificant, you’re beyond reason.

    I never claimed the changes affected the global record. But the discovery of such a simple error certainly doesn’t increase my confidence in the global record. And I explicitly pointed out there was no scientific significance in the 1998/1934 swap (but plenty of political significance).

    Apparently, you’ll see whatever it is you want to see.

    McIntyre’s point is entirely valid: had the shoe been on the other foot, the howls from the pontiff and his cardinals would have been deafening.

  68. mugwump
    August 16th, 2007 at 11:41 | #68

    gordon, unfortunately renewable, carbon efficient methods of production are still on the drawing board. If (when) they become available, they’re unlikely to be affordable by the poorest nations.

    snuh, can you point me to modeling showing the dust bowl caused the increase in US temps (and not vice-versa)?

  69. Ken Miles
    August 16th, 2007 at 11:53 | #69

    In addition, while Schmidt describes the changes atop the leader board as “very minor re-arrangements�, many followers of the climate debate are aware of intense battles over 0.1 or 0.2 degree (consider the satellite battles.) Readers might perform a little thought experiment: suppose that Spencer and Christy had published a temperature history in which they claimed that 1934 was the warmest U.S. year on record and then it turned out that they had been a computer programming error opposite to the one that Hansen made, that Wentz and Mears discovered there was an error of 0.15 deg C in the Spencer and Christy results and, after fiixing this error, it turned out that 2006 was the warmest year on record. Would realclimate simply describe this as a “very minor re-arrangement�?

    This is pretty poor thinking on McIntyre’s part. The corrections to the satellite record made a massive difference to the conclusions which were being drawn from them. Initially, it was suggested that the troposphere was cooling and this was strong evidence against global warming. A change in sign of the temperature trend is a significant result.

    The McIntyre correction made a insignificant difference to the US temperature trend and an even smaller difference to the global temperature trend.

    The McIntyre correction is only important to those who can’t calculate a trend – I’m looking forward to Bob Carter’s next “contribution”.

  70. mugwump
    August 16th, 2007 at 12:11 | #70

    gordon, the financial markets are in the grip of a classic bank run, triggered by US subprime securities getting marked to market, rather than marked to the misleading models of the ratings agencies, which was the basis on which they were originally sold.

    We live in a fractional reserve world, which means if mass hysteria takes hold and everyone tries to redeem their investments simultaneously, the cash runs out pretty quickly. So the banks are holding their cash, and not buying any debt, in the hope of riding out the current storm.

    Of course there are buying opportunities in such a market. Many hedge funds are being forced to sell their best debt (the crappy stuff won’t sell at all) at well-below value in order to meet redemptions. The risk of default on the good stuff is negligible, and the yields are now skyrocketing. So if you can pick up such debt and hold it, you should make out well in the longer term.

    However, most of us mere mortals don’t get to play in those markets, but insurance companies do, and they are about the only ones with cash right now (their redemptions are triggered by natural events, not mass hysteria). So, smart insurance company managers are probably out their soaking up some of the cheap, high-grade debt on the market. So, buy well-managed insurance company stocks, and hold them.

    That’s my theory. Much easier to understand than the biosphere.

  71. gordon
    August 16th, 2007 at 14:57 | #71

    Here, Mugwump, is what looks like a good example of what I mean (from The Independent 15/8/07)):

    ” McCain’s potato chip factory to be run on wind power
    By Karen Attwood
    Published: 15 August 2007

    “McCain Foods is investing £10m to build three wind turbines at the UK’s largest chip factory, which should cut energy bills at the site by up to 60 per cent.

    “The 80m-high turbines will be installed at the company’s plant at Whittlesey, in Cambridgeshire, as part of a drive to lower the company’s carbon footprint and move its operations towards sustainability.

    “The turbines, which will be up and running in November, will be the highest on-shore turbines in England, and will power the entire site at certain times of the year. They will provide up to 60 per cent of the annual electrical power required to operate the plant and, when the site is not operating, unused electricity will be put into the National Grid.

    “McCain hopes the turbines will also help to safeguard against future energy price rises. It estimates that the turbines will lead to a reduction of 20,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide greenhouse emissions from the Whittlesey plant.

    “Bill Bartlett, corporate affairs director, said this is “a significant investment”. “We are particularly proud to be the first major food manufacturer to use alternative energy on this scale,” he said. “This demonstrates that a large-scale manufacturing plant can operate efficiently while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.”

    “McCain has introduced a number of environmental initiatives in recent years. This includes investment in a combined heat and power facility at the Whittlesey plant which will run on a renewable energy supply generated by bio-gas from an on-site waste water treatment plant. The company uses potatoes exclusively from the UK for its chips to cut down on food miles, and sources potatoes as close as possible to factories.

    “The latest move follows a lengthy planning application process which included consultations with the local community, English Nature, the RSPB and the local and district council. Mr Bartlett added that the development would be “a landmark manufacturing facility that offers green solutions to big business’s dependency on non-sustainable power”.

    “McCain is privately owned and is part of Canada’s McCain Foods Group, the world’s largest maker of fries.”

  72. wilful
    August 16th, 2007 at 15:52 | #72

    gordon, you do realise that according to certain critics, wind power does not and has not ever generated any electricity?

  73. mugwump
    August 16th, 2007 at 22:16 | #73

    gordon, that’s great for McCain. No doubt they can offset some of the additional expense against their marketing budget.

    But it is a drop in the ocean.

    To get global 60% reductions in CO2 by 2050 you’re going to need China and the rest of the developing world to follow the same route. China alone is each year adding generating capacity equal to that of the whole of Britain.

  74. Chris O’Neill
    August 17th, 2007 at 12:05 | #74

    Interesting to note that Jensen, Kelly, Vale and Tollner have access to a time machine. According to their report they accessed several web pages on “23 August 2007″. You’d think they could reduce the number of out-of-date documents they quote from by making better use of their time machine.

  75. gordon
    August 17th, 2007 at 17:44 | #75

    Mugwump, the ocean started off as just a lot of drops. I can imagine people telling George Stephenson that one railway was just “a drop in the ocean”.

    By the way, I like your interpretation of our current credit crunch. I would add my usual complaint about excessive credit (money) creation in the first place.

    Wilful, I don’t get your point.

  76. gordon
    August 17th, 2007 at 17:57 | #76

    OK, Mugwump, here are another couple of drops. This time from The Age (March 13, 2007), and The SMH (16/10/06):

    “China’s Suntech sees $US180m net for 07
    March 13, 2007 – 5:44PM
    AdvertisementAdvertisement

    “China’s Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd said on Tuesday it expected net income to surge in 2007 as the solar panel maker ramps up production and captures global market share.

    “The leading maker of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules will spend up to $100 million this year to boost production to 280 megawatts equivalent, up 75 per cent from 160 MW last year.

    “The spending would almost double over last year and help the company reach 2007 net income of $US180 million ($A229.43 million), a target in line with Reuters Estimates and which represents a 70 per cent rise from the $US106 million ($A135.11 million) last year.

    “‘We are aiming in that direction,’ Shi Zhengrong, the company’s chief executive, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

    “Suntech posted a 276 per cent surge in net income in 2006, a year after it raised $US400 million ($A509.85 million) in a US initial public offering.

    “With global demand rising for its energy efficient products, the company is focusing on taking market share from rivals such as Sunpower Corp.

    “Suntech is forecasting its current 7-8 percent global market share to double by 2010, when its production output capacity will reach 1 gigawatt, or 1,000 MW.

    ‘Our short-term strategy is to increase our market share as much as possible,’ Shi said. “Even if we have to sacrifice our margins.’

    “The company’s gross margin fell to 25 per cent last year, from just over 30 per cent in 2005. Shi reckons margins will continue to erode to around 20 per cent over the next 7-10 years, while his selling price could be halved over the same period.

    “But falling prices will also boost demand. And with the supply of silicon rising, pushing down Suntech’s costs, Shi is confident that profits will continue to rise strongly.

    “‘Companies that can buy silicon at a high price and still make a good profit are the ones that will grow and be the long-term winners,’ he said.

    “Silicon makes up about 70 per cent of costs for Suntech, a key reason it has been locking up supply with long-term deals.

    “The company expects more two-thirds of its silicon this year to come from such long-term contracts.

    “Suntech’s ambitious expansion plans will be funded from internally generated profits, said Shi. The company has no plans to offer shares to the public, he said.

    “Suntech’s sales are determined to a large degree by the subsidies that governments provide for solar energy products, which explains why Europe is the company’s largest market.

    “The company sends 35 per cent of its products to Germany, and another 25 per cent to Spain, while its home market of China takes up only 10 per cent.

    “Shi said China was working hard at all levels of government to form a policy that would boost solar energy use, and was hopeful that something concrete could be announced this year.

    “Green economic growth is a focus for Chinese policy makers worried about rising costs for imported oil and social unrest sparked by pollution. But the mainland still gets 70 per cent of its energy by burning dirty coal.”

    and from the SMH:

    “Australian firms to energise China: govt

    October 16, 2006 – 7:04AM
    AdvertisementAdvertisement

    “Environment Minister Ian Campbell says Australian renewable energy companies are well placed to take advantage of China’s huge demand for energy.

    “Senator Campbell is in China this week to open a $300 million wind farm built by Australian company Roaring Forties.

    “‘The challenge is to see massive increases in energy in China with massively reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the Australian renewable energy industry can play an incredibly transformational role in delivering that outcome,’ Senator Campbell told ABC radio.

    “Labor has long criticised the government for failing to take drastic action in Australia to encourage renewable energy.

    “Roaring Forties cancelled two wind farms in South Australia and Tasmania earlier this year over an alleged lack of government support for renewable energy initiatives.

    “Senator Campbell also blocked a Victorian wind farm because of fears the propellers of the turbines would kill the extremely endangered orange bellied parrot.

    “Labor’s environment spokesman Anthony Albanese says the government needs to increase its renewable energy target.

    “‘It’s very clear that one reason why renewable energy is expanding in China is that they have a 15 per cent renewable energy target compared with our pathetic 2 per cent target,’ Mr Albanese told ABC radio.”

  77. observa
    August 20th, 2007 at 21:58 | #77

    I see the Rann Govt has introduced The Electricity (Feed-In Scheme- Residential Solar Systems) Bill into Parliament
    http://www.greenhouse.sa.gov.au/PDFs/Feed_In_Bill.pdf
    Essentially this is to allow owners of solar electricity systems to be reimbursed at the rate of 44c/kwhr for their surplus electricity fed back into the grid. (one for one now which is around 20c/kwhr summer peak rate). That is apparently double the current commercial rate charged. This would make solar power cost effective coming on top of an $8000 maximum Federal grant for a solar panel system. Spending around $15k ($23k in all before subsidy) and the 44c /kw hr could see a 9.6% return amortised in just over 10 years. However, I see the buyback scheme expires in July 2013, which is a problem for returns. Once you blow out returns over 10 years, most people will lose interest. Still Ranny has to do something to get that 60% GG reduction, mission statement, underway, particularly with more subs to build and BHP Billiton power stations and desal plant for Roxby.

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