Archive for August, 2009

The (Im)Morality Of Climate Change Advocacy

2009/08/04 2 comments

In matters of AGW, are the poor of the world going to get the wrong end of the stick no matter what?

A relatively long letter by a Rebecca Harris from Washington has been published in the Aug 4, 2009 print edition of the International Herald Tribune, under the title “World Bank: A Carbon Bigfoot“. Ms Harris obviously wants to convince the World Bank to become AGW-friendly:

The World Bank continues to promote development models based on a prolonged reliance on fossil fuels, illustrated by its 59 percent increase in fossil fuel lending over the last three years. Every additional coal investment ensures future greenhouse gas emissions for the multiple-decades-long lifespan of the coal plant. If the rest of the world is talking emissions targets at long last, why is the World Bank playing saboteur?

The bank must accept its role in transitioning countries onto a low-carbon development trajectory by shifting its energy investments away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy projects. Developed and developing countries alike will be held to increasingly stringent emissions standards in the coming years. World Bank investments in renewable energy now will lessen the burden developing countries will face in meeting these standards in the future.

Talk about a peculiar strategy: the World Bank would have to help people develop (i.e. get out of poverty) but not in a coal-using way. One suspects the development course (the getting out of poverty) will only be slower than it would be with an unfettered use of coal. But wouldn’t that make people poorer, that is more vulnerable to climate change?


Who is Rebecca Harris? The (print) letter refers to a “Bank Information Center”. Google sends to a (single entry?) blog on “Foreign Policy”, where Ms Harris is indicated as “information services coordinator at the Bank Information Center (“.

In its website, the BIC (lists Rebecca Harris’ letter high in the Updates section, and) defines itself as the following:

The Bank Information Center partners with civil society in developing and transition countries to influence the World Bank and other international financial institutions to promote social and economic justice and ecological sustainability

Notably, they promote social and economic “justice”, whatever that is. Coupling that mysterious concept to “ecological sustainability”, it seems the fact that people might as well remain poor is of no much importance to BIC.

Back to climate change: under “In the Spotlight” there is an entry on the World Bank with the following words:

BIC’s Climate Change Campaign will focus on shifting the World Bank Group’s (WBG) energy sector strategy/portfolio away from fossil fuels and toward the financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency

Going around the BIC site, one discovers also their “Strategic Plan 2009-2012“. They describe 3 Campaigns for the period, one of them about Climate Change, with the following “desired outcomes”:

WBG supports global transition to lower-carbon energy production by reducing its fossil fuel lending and increasing financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency
Climate Investment Funds and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility are governed transparently and consistently with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) principles and decisions
Civil society partners have deeper understanding of the role of the WBG in both contributing to and mitigating climate change.

Curiously, the underlying challenge is publicly acknowledged

With an estimated 1.6 billion people in developing countries without access to electricity, the Bank‟s approach to energy sector investments must balance climate change concerns with availability of energy for the poor.

So far so good..electricity it should be, then, but not from coal? Yet the same Rebecca Harris makes a different point in a July 30, 2009 letter published by The Washington Post (berating George F Will):

[…] development need not be sacrificed in the name of climate change. In 2008, the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group found that there is no significant trade-off between climate change mitigation and energy access for the world’s poorest. The provision of basic electricity services for the world’s unconnected households would add only a third of one percentage point to global greenhouse gas emissions! […]

I am definitely puzzled now…if the “provision of basic electricity services for the world’s unconnected households would add only” 0.3% to GHG emissions, why would it be wrong for the World Bank to finance coal-using projects to do just that?

Let’s see if the February 10, 2009 BIC study “World Bank Loans Exacerbate Climate Change” clarifies anything:

The assessment finds that even with important gains in renewable energy and energy efficiency in recent years, the World Bank Group’s overall lending approach to the energy sector does not support developing countries’ transition towards a low-carbon development path

Once again, BIC show that what they worry about, is for developing countries to develop but only and strictly along a (forced) “low-carbon development path“.

Even that 0.3% is 0.3% too much…because in matters of AGW, the poor of the world are going to get the wrong end of the stick, no matter what.

Neandertals At Risk Of Causing AGW Extinction

2009/08/03 1 comment

Another gem from the August issue of Scientific American, a few pages after David Appell’s climate double-entendre titled “Stumbling Over Data“: it’s time now for Kate Wong’s “The Mysterious Downfall of the Neandertals“, given the pride of cover to discuss the most up-to-date theories about the disappearance of those “bygone humans” around 28,000 years ago.

Here’s a detail of one of the theories:

[…] the isotope data reveal that far from progressing steadily from mild to frigid, [between roughly 65,000 and 25,000 years] the climate became increasingly unstable heading into the last glacial maximum, swinging severely and abruptly. With that flux came profound ecological change: forests gave way to treeless grassland; reindeer replaced certain kinds of rhinoceroses. So rapid were these oscillations that over the course of an individual’s lifetime, all the plants and animals that a person had grown up with could vanish and be replaced with unfamiliar flora and fauna. And then, just as quickly, the environment could change back again. […]

What else goes extinct then with our barrel-chested, stocky-limbed cousins in the space of a few sentences? Let’s see: unprecedented climate change; global warming endangering polar bears; life on Earth threatened by wild climate swings; collapsing global ecosystems; disappearing coral reefs; upcoming biodiversity crisis; etc etc etc.

Not only that…if our direct ancestors’ “somewhat wider range of cultural adaptations provided a slightly superior buffer against hard times“, why would those characteristics fail us now, their direct descendants more than 280 centuries later?

Unless of course we force ouselves to admit that our forefathers were wiser than us, stuck as we are into asking our so-called leaders to stop the solar cycle, or elicit volcanic eruptions

Many Thanks To David Appell (And Scientific American)

2009/08/03 2 comments

What is there to complain about David Appell’s “Stumbling Over Data: Mistakes Fuel Climate-Warming Skeptics” (Scientific American, August 2009)?

It is perfectly written: at the same time, a long defence of AGW orthodoxy, and an introduction to AGW skepticism, with McIntyre’s, Watt’s and Morano’s blogs explicitly mentioned. It can be read as a demonstration that “mistakes” on climate data are minor, and that they are symptoms of a larger issue.

We are told that “open-source data are ultimately a great thing” (no kidding!).

If I were an AGWer, I would start suspecting that with the change in Editor, there is some potential opening against the “consensus”.

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