Sunday, December 23, 2007

Environmental Guest Posting

The following post is a comment left on a previous post (Not Alone?) on this blog and is by Francis T. Manns, Ph.D., P.Geo. (Ontario)


Not just in America...

Abandon hope (all ye who abandon science for politics).
“Verily said Gandalf”, in a loud voice keen and clear, “That way lies our hope, where sits our greatest fear.”(J.R.R. Tolkien)
To whom it may concern:
I attempted to bring [up a protest to] the propaganda piece, An Inconvenient Truth, to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) last year because a teacher did show it to a friend's child in a grade 5 class in Etobicoke, Toronto, Canada. TDSB put me off several months, permitted me a five minute window, but when the time came for my audience - they cut it to three minutes. I did not present. AGW is a very large topic.

Thanks to the Nobel Prize for GUFF more people are more confused than ever. If a scientific body awards prizes for alarmism, there is an assumption that there must be some foundation in the science. I have read as much as I can for 20 years on climate change and am a practicing geoscientist. I cannot find a single reference that elevates AGW beyond an unsupported hypothesis. As an unsupported hypothesis, AGW has more value than the concept that the moon is made of blue cheese because that has been disproven, and less value than fluctuations of the sun are responsible in a very complex manner for climate change (glaciations).

The other positions, discounted by the UN, that water vapour is by far the most abundant GHG, has also been ignored along with the sound astrophysical research by the Danish National Space Center (web site). The worst piece of all is throwing out the scientific balance of experiment and testing.
Propaganda ‘science’ has been happening more and more; the scientific basis for banning DDT is missing! Millions have died from malaria. Last year the World Health Organization lifted the ban... too bad for the millions of people already dead.

Propaganda junk science led the USSR to develop the dangerous Chernobyl reactor and the reactors for their nuclear submarine fleet as well. A political hack insisted their science was so superior to the capitalist west that cooling and containment were unnecessary. Now I guess Gore has lowered us to the USSR standard.
PCBs have never been shown to be hazardous. People who manufactured PCBs have not reported any increased disease or illness.

Discarded crumpled water bottles litter streams and highways. Bottled water is required for travelers in most of the world less prosperous than ours. To me the discarded plastic water bottle is the icon of mindlessness. The most overlooked of all benefits of prosperity is abundant clean water. Toronto is located beside the world’s largest supply of fresh water and ranks with the best water quality on the planet. Torontonians do not need to buy bottled water, but they do and then they throw the bottles away (called recycling by some). People who fear our excellent municipal water, that the developed world would envy, are throwing away the plastic by the tonne.

Streetcars are an icon of our self-righteous municipal face. Running on electricity, they transfer the burden of energy generation to the power plants in rural areas. They allow commuters to ride with an easy conscience, because their impact is invisible. The ozone produced, however, by electrical mass transit, trolleys and subways, is the only street level pollutant on the rise in Toronto. Trolleys are convenient, no doubt, except when they break down and clog the streets for everyone for an interminable time until help arrives. But they still clog the arteries during the tow to the barn. All other transportation must slow while the clot is towed and the line of blocked streetcars diverted. All the while, other traffic burns fuel less efficiently. Why doesn’t the city pull the plug? Optics?

Smog alert? Smog is brown nasty air resulting from a solar initiated reaction within incompletely burned hydrocarbons. Toronto smog alerts have increased to the absurd levels beginning in early spring. The alert threshold is set very low. Lowering the threshold increases the threshold for a potential smog event. I have never seen any brown smog on the days of the alert while I am commuting. What I see is white haze that is simply the natural humidity in the air next to a vast lake Ontario. What you will see are people on bicycles with gas masks.

The lake is cleaner now. The zebra mussels are abundant. What happened? Mussels are filter feeders that process the entire volume of the lake in a year. Pickerel have returned to Toronto harbour because sunlight penetrates to the bottom and grasses can grow nurseries for the spawn. Nothing wrong with that. Thanks to concerted efforts and tax dollars by the city, storm surge is diverted and sanitary sewage is being diverted away from the lake. We still have closed beaches but that not because the water is dangerous, it’s because of the extremely low threshold for alert to compete with international lake and ocean front beaches. The result is a base-level of population paranoia about water quality that borders on unhealthy. There may also be some litigation consciousness involved. What do you think?

Mindlessness is everywhere. The use of cyanide in metal extraction is a very safe industrial process and cannot be pointed to as dangerous to man. Cyanide kills fish, and spills are to be avoided at all cost, and cyanide is composed of hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen and it decomposes in sunlight in a few days.
Fill up with gasohol? Hard to justify or avoid; it increased the cost of corn tortillas in Mexico- the lower end of the economic stepladder, and methanol manufactured by fermentation, produces CO2. CO2 is plant food in my world, and pollution for the environmentalists. Plant food is good so I’m neutral on gasohol except that I get lower gasohol kilometreage and that seems counterproductive, and the poor get whacked again. Gasohol does not have the heat content of gasoline and will not take you as far on a litre unless you coast.
The hole in the ozone layer over Toronto (6% depletion) put Toronto citizens at the same risk as the people of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is not known as the skin cancer center of NA; Phoenix is. More than 160 children in Quebec contracted beri beri. The epidemic was caused vitamin D deficiency, by sun blocking moms of children that did not drink milk.

The issue really is about deception. Is it a good idea to slow international economies in order to clean up the planet?

Is the planet dirty? I’d say a lot of cities are a mess but the planet is pretty well OK. Modern mining, usually blamed for eco-disasters is subject to largely self-imposed reclamation and site remediation. Many environmentally conscious students stayed with the field of geology 30 years ago. The industry, a heavy industry, is however, laced with practical environmentalists and socially conscious human beings. Corporate social responsibility and environmental studies are part of geology curricula across the developed world and are carried into developing world prosperity.

Consider the footprint of mining as an example. Mining is a heavy industry that digs holes in the ground and extracts metal that we need for electrical power distribution (copper), rust protection (nickel, zinc), monetary security (gold), and construction of tall modern buildings, bridges, and ships (iron). Concrete comes from pits.
But, the dirty footprint of mining is an optical illusion. For British Columbia, of 94,000,000 hectares, only 0.07% is under governmental reclamation from mining activities. For Alberta, only 0.5% may eventually be strip mined for oils sands. … and the nature of the exploitation will be sequential so that only a small part of that will ever be mined at one time. Reclamation and remediation are continuous. The fear is based on an optical illusion. The arts community glazes over at the introduction of quantification. Our eyes are so small that nature looks big.

Short of energy – peak oil? Given some gradual inflation, the carbon resource from Utah to Colorado contained in kerogen shale is sufficient for more than 1,000 years of US consumption. Inflation is bad? Not if you reckon that exploitation of resources becomes lower than most value added manufactured goods adjusted for inflation with every year. There is unrecognised but enormous leverage in resources. Think of it, our increased lifespan, refrigerated food, prosperity, standard of living are inextricably linked to modest currency inflation. Currency inflation, which we are taught to fear, is the cause of prosperity because it allows exploitation of the planet’s riches to proceed in pace slightly ahead of demand. Moderation in all things (inflation). Terence (185 BC - 159 BC).

When we breathe we inhale a mixture of natural gasses including the so-called GHGs and oxygen; when we exhale we exhale the mixture minus some oxygen and more GHGs, CO2 included. Gore does it too. Plants and trees do the opposite. Oxygen is our fuel and CO2 is plant food. This is a symbiotic bargain born in the awful immensity of geologic time and evolution. If you’re not buying into evolution, I have a bridge to Brooklyn you might like. Other GHGs come from elsewhere in animal bodies. That may be too much information.
Is it insane to put mirrors in space or sprinkle iron in the ocean and second guess the wisdom of evolution? Someone thought rabbits would do well in Australia. The hubris is more serious than the fraudulent junk science proposals. The damage is that junk science will attract the tax dollars that would be better spent on water wells and medicine. I’m more concerned about the intellectual climate.

The most important information you can have is that CO2 has a property called retrograde solubility. Unlike most substances, it dissolves in cold water rather than hot. As earth heats by natural causes, CO2 is released from the slightly warmer ocean and if earth’s oceans cool CO2 goes into solution. Shake up a warm beer if you don’t believe me. CO2 trails natural warming.

In a great summary paper covering all the atmospheric CO2 analyses over the past 130 years, Ernst-George Beck (2007) exposed the superficiality of the UN IPCC reports on CO2 by showing several periods since the 1880s when CO2 was higher than today. The correlation with temperature is inverse with CO2 trailing temperature in direct contradiction to An Inconvenient Truth. We should know by now that correlation is not causation, but lack of correlation is a powerful refutation of the Gore/UN hypothesis that CO2 is causing climate change and that plant food is pollution. CO2 was 400 parts per million in the 1940s just prior to the most recent cooling period.

Don’t get me started about opening my back door in the dead of winter to feed my recycling boxes. That is a lose - lose situation. …

I guess what I am getting to is that the polarization of society between arts and engineering has left the arts side of the population vulnerable to big expensive scams, and propaganda. No one doubts that the climate changes. It always has and always will.

For many years the Nobel Committee held back on awarding a prize for mathematics to John Nash because of his schizophrenia. You may remember, "A Beautiful Mind". Gore is flat wrong, but that seems to be fine with the committee.

The world is not perfect. We can only chose the solution that solves more problems than it creates. Pollution can be crippling. I have seen polio in Jakarta; Toronto, however, has the cleanest air for a city that I have ever experienced. But the big lie is everywhere. When I see David Suzuki on a billboard holding a dim light bulb with 5 mg of mercury, I know I'm living a nightmare. Have the schools stopped requiring 1984 or Brave New World? I prescribe them for my kids.


Francis T. Manns, Ph.D., P.Geo. (Ontario)
323 Blantyre Avenue
Toronto M1N 2S6
Canada, World

"To dwell only on horror scenarios of the future shows only a lack of
imagination." (Kari Enqvist)

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