Archive for November, 2010

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China says half of rare earth exports go to Japan, admits export quota cuts

November 22, 2010

By Alex He | November 16, 2010 6:13 PM EST

In the first nine months of this year, China exported 16,000 tonnes, or 49.8 percent, of its total rare earth to Japan, representing 167 percent rise year on year, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) spokesman Yao Jian said on Tuesday.

The country’s rare earth export to U.S. amounted to 6.2 thousand tonnes, or 19 percent, during the same period. It represents 5.5 percent increase year on year.

From January to September, China exported 32,200 tonnes of rare earth at an average price of 14.8 thousand dollars per tonne.

Despite producing 80-90 percent of the world’s rare earths, China has only around 30 percent of the world’s proven reserves, Yao said.

China does not deny reducing the quota for rare earth metal exports. Yao said China cut its 2010 rare earth export quota 39 percent year on year while rare earth development and production capacities were reduced by 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

Yao, however, insists China is doing so “concerning the development, production and export of rare earth out of concern for the environment” and such reductions are in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

China, which has had a near-monopoly on the production of rare earth metals for years, has drawn criticism from Japan, the U.S. and the European countries. They said China’s restrictions on rare earth exports did violate the WTO rules.

 

According to The Economist, “Slashing their exports of rare-earth metals…is all about moving Chinese manufacturers up the supply chain, so they can sell valuable finished goods to the world rather than lowly raw materials.”

Rare earth metals are crucial to many of the world’s most advanced technologies, such as cellular phones, high performance batteries, flat screen televisions, green energy technology, and are critical to the future of hybrid and electric cars, high-tech military applications and superconductors and fiber-optic communication systems.

However, the mining, refining and recycling of rare earth are highly-polluting processes.

China hopes other rare earth-rich nations will develop their own resources while adding that China is ready to cooperate with other nations to mine and process rare earth in an environmentally-friendly way, Yao concluded.

Late last month, the first U.S. exchange-traded fund (ETF) investing in companies that produce rare-earth elements and other strategic metals began trading this morning on the NYSE Arca Stock Exchange.  The ETF tracks an index comprising of 24 mining companies including Iluka Resources Ltd., the world’s biggest zircon producer, China Rare Earth Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong-based manufacturer and wholesaler of rare-earth products; and Titanium Metals Corp.

Writing in the 24/7 Wall St. blog, John Ogg comments that  rare earth elements are not exactly “rare” by definition.  “What is rare about them is that the quantities of locations capable of being mined at cost-effective commercialization are rare,” Ogg said.

 

 

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Anatomy of a Climate Fraud

November 22, 2010

Nov 21, 2010

By Dr. Vincent Gray, NZ Climate Truth Newsletter

Environmentalists believe that humans are destroying the earth (or as they prefer to call it, “the planet”), and they routinely manipulate news items that can be distorted to support their views. “Resources” are being “depleted”, oil is about to run out, everything is about to become extinct, all chemicals are “toxic” and all human activities must be prevented because they “damage the environment”

The “greenhouse effect” was a golden opportunity to blame every climate event on humans and prevent many classes of industrial activity.

The “greenhouse effect” is a real physical phenomenon, although it has nothing to do with what happens in a greenhouse. A greenhouse inhibits convection and confines the air warned by contact with the ground that has been heated by the sun’s radiation.

The “greenhouse effect” results from absorption of part of the infra red radiation from the earth by several trace gases in the atmosphere, causing an increase in the surface temperature of the earth,

In order to show that there are increases in this effect caused by humans which are damaging the climate several propositions had to be proved.

� Greenhouse gases are increasing because of human activity

� The temperature of the earth is increasing

� This rise is damaging the climate

� Future changes can be predicted to be disastrous

Let us take these problems one at a time.

Are Greenhouse Gases increasing?

The British scientist John Tyndall in the 1860s, who fist established the existence of the greenhouse effect, showed that the most important greenhouse gas is water vapour, so this should be the main emphasis of any investigation into possible damage from increase of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately the concentration of water vapour in the atmosphere varies over several orders of magnitude, being dependent on temperature, time and place. No accurate average value has ever been reliably measured and there is no acceptable evidence of any changes that have been taking place. Even if these were established it might be difficult to blame them on humans.

So, somehow, water vapour had to be ignored. This is done by leaving it out of lists of greenhouse gases, discussing it as little as possible and leaving it out of the main components of their model by calling it a “feedback”. assuming that its average value is exclusively dependent on average temperature.

So then, emphasis was placed on the next trace gas, carbon dioxide. This is a much more suitable candidate, because its concentration in the atmosphere can be blamed on combustion of fossil fuels by humans.

But then another snag arises. Its concentration in the atmosphere has been shown to be highly variable from some 40,000 measurements that have been reported in learned scientific journals, going back to 1850. Some of these measurements were made by Nobel Prize winners, all were respected scientists of the day, and the papers were peer reviewed in the days when this meant something.

In order to show carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is increasing it is necessary to make continuous measurements distributed everywhere in the atmosphere on a representative basis. This is plainly impossible.

But do they despair? No. The first thing to do is to suppress all knowledge of any measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 1850 and 1950. Then they publicized the measurements near the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii as the only authentic measurements and followed this up by taking measurements that had been made in a negligibly small sample of ice cores as representative of concentrations before the industrial era, Subsequently they permitted the use of measurements made over the sea in several places to be added, but they have prevented or suppressed all measurements over any land surface, or in any other than an approved direction which are regarded as “noise” (unwelcome data). These restricted results showed a fairly steady increase, but this was not large enough, so they more than doubled it for their models.

THE TEMPERATURE OF THE EARTH

Temperature on the earth’s surface is highly variable. It is impossible to show if there. a general increase unless you can measure the average surface temperature. This would surely involve the placing of measuring instruments randomly all over the earth’s surface, Including the 71% that is ocean, and all the forests, pastures, deserts and icecaps. Such an enterprise is impossible with current technology, so it is not possible to find if the average temperature of the earth is increasing.

But, again, a way of faking it was evolved. The originator, Jim Hansen of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York features on his website a discussion headed “The Elusive Surface Temperature” which shows that there is no satisfactory way of defining or measuring the surface temperature of the earth. Yet he proposed to make use of temperature measurements that were routinely made at weather stations around the world as part of weather forecasting services, to derive what is called a “mean global temperature anomaly”.

Weather stations are not situated in representative places on the earth’s surface. They are predominantly near towns. Their number and location varies daily, so there is no fair statistical comparison over any time period. Although many (but not all) thermometers are housed in a standard screen, their positioning is far from standard and it changes over time. Many are close to buildings, sources of heat, concrete, tarmac, vegetation and other changing circumstances. There is no way of allowing either for the lack of representativity or the changes in circumstances.

Then, no weather station actually measures the average local temperature. They typically measure the maximum and the minimum over a 24 hour period which depends on the time of observation. This makes sense for weather forecasting since the temperature regimes by day and night are so different that an average between the two is meaningless.

Recent studies have shown that most weather stations, even today, cannot assess local temperature to better than a degree or two Celsius. Weather forecasters know that their figures are only rough. They never use decimals of a degree.

The “mean annual global temperature anomaly” involves multiple averaging, by week, month and year, plus a subtraction from the average for a reference petiod. This process must involve very large accumulated inaccuracies so that a claim of an increase in the “anomaly” of several decimals of a degree over 100 years is meaningless.

Then there is the overall warming effect of urban and land use change. The 1990 paper in “Nature” which was routinely used to claim the urban effects are negligible was shown by Keenan in 2000 to be fraudulent when he tried to find the Chinese data upon which it was partly based. Phil Jones recently admitted that the data did show an urban effect (and then promptly denied it) but the effect is still ignored in the teeth of the evidence in its favour

IF THERE IS WARMING, IT IS NATURAL?

There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence of warm periods In history which may have exceeded temperatures today, Efforts to discount these by manipulating unreliable “proxies” such as thickness of tree rings have been unsuccessful. There is even evidence from tree rings that the current era is not unusual leading to the need to “hide the decline”.

Besides being affected by urban and land use effects, the unreliable “mean global temperature anomaly” is affected also by currently known changes in the sun and in the ocean oscillations, particularly the North Atlantic Decadal Oscillation and the Southern Oscillation Index. Our knowledge of both of these effects is currently limited. Sunspots are an extremely crude measure of the Sun’s activity, and the ocean oscillations also have crude definitions.

FORECASTING THE FUTURE

The problem of forecasting future climate is also impossible to solve. Genuine honest scientists working in meteorology have struggled for several hundred years to try and provide a model of the climate which could help future forecasting. They have collected every measurable climate variable; wind, rain, temperature, atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, sunshine hours and cloud cover, and they have launched weather balloons to study the atmosphere. One measurement they have not found useful is the concentration of carbon dioxide, although that also has been measured in many places. Yet everybody, including the IPCC, knows that forecasts beyond a week or so are unreliable.

Yet in order to confirm the influence of increased greenhouse gases forecasting is essential, otherwise any theory is worthless.

It is insufficiently understood that the IPCC admits that computer based models of the climate are currently incapable of forecasting any aspect of future climate. This fact is freely admitted. Models never make “predictions”, but always “projections”, which are the results obtained by accepting the plausibility of the model assumptions. No “projection” from any climate model has ever successfully predicted any future climate behaviour

Since this is so, all the IPCC conclusions are based on the unproven opinions of those persons who are paid to produce the models. This conflict of opinion is so severe that any model maker who has a poor opinion of the results of his model would probably lose his job and career. This unreliable process is concealed by a system of levels of “likelihood” combined with fabricated figures of the statistical reliability of the “estimates”.

The forecasts made by meteorologists can be checked. If they are consistently wrong the model has to be modified. The “projections” made by the IPCC are usually so far ahead (100 years) that they cannot be checked until the experts have enjoyed their generous pensions. There is no way of telling whether one model is better than another. When more recent “projections” fail there is always the excuse that it is due to “natural variability”.

ARE THE MODELS PLAUSIBLE?

The assumptions made by the IPCC computer models of the climate are all in complete conflict with what is known about the climate. They assume that the earth is in energy equilibrium. This means that the earth is flat, the sun shines all day and all night with one quarter of its maximum intensity, clouds are constant, and the temperature of the earth is constant. Such a model is essential if you want to calculate the possible effect of greenhouse gas increases as this can only be done if everything else is unchanging. In addition the concentration of greenhouse gases has to be constant at any point in time

All these assumptions are ridiculous. No part of the earth is ever in energy equilibrium and it is never “balanced” as a whole. It warms by day and cools by night, when there is no sun. The seasons, wind, cloud changes volcanism and ocean circulation come on top and inevitably confuse any possible change that might result from the greenhouse effect.

“ANTHROPOGENIC” INFLUENCES ON THE CLIMATE

All organisms influence the climate to a greater or lesser degree and humans are no exception. We try to maintain our body temperature by clothing and dwellings. Our buildings and our heating systems raise urban temperatures. We influence the land to encourage crops. There are wind breaks and fences and terraces and dams, and, again, climate is modified. None of these “anthropogenic” effects are allowed for by the IPCC.

NATURAL VARIABILITY

Climate has always changed in an irregular manner over many time periods and its causes are at present imperfectly understood. Some changes (for example ice ages) take millions of years to develop. Others (such as the effects of a large volcanic eruption) influence only a year or so. The idea that natural changes can only be “variable” and not cause “climate change” is therefore incorrect. Also it is impossible to claim with any certainty that a particular change is “unprecedented” over such a short period as a few centuries.

The very existence of natural climate influences means that climate models that are not able to predict their influence cannot hope to detect any change caused by the greenhouse effect.

CONCLUSION

Any routine scientific study would have abandoned the attempt to justify the current emphasis on the greenhouse effect because of the impossibility of carrying out any of the necessary observations to confirm its importance. It could only have been established as a potential threat by multiple fraud from each of the considerations listed above.

 

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Think the Earth is finite? Think again

November 12, 2010

When modern Malthusians insist that resources are finite, they only expose their historical illiteracy, misanthropy and social pessimism.

On 30 October, spiked editor Brendan O’Neill debated Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, at the Battle of Ideas in London. O’Neill’s speech is published below.

The main Malthusian idea I think we should challenge is the idea that resources are finite. The idea that the Earth itself is finite. The idea that we live on a finite planet and therefore we can only have a certain number of people, living in a certain number of homes, eating a certain amount of food.

Because it seems to me that the population-control lobby’s obsession with finiteness really exposes what it is all about. It reveals the historical illiteracy and the social pessimism that underpin the pseudo-scientific movement of Malthusianism. The Malthusians’ focus on finiteness explains firstly why they are always wrong about everything; secondly why they are so misanthropic; and thirdly why they put forward such illiberal proposals, dressed up, of course, in the language of ‘female empowerment’.

On the first point, Malthusians are simply wrong to say that resources are fixed, that we can measure and predict when they will run out. It seems commonsensical to say that the Earth is finite, and a bit mad to say that it isn’t, but it’s important to recognise how fluid and changeable resources are. It’s important to recognise that the usefulness and longevity of a resource is determined as much by us – by the level of social development we have reached – as it is by the existence of that resource in the first place.

Resources are not fixed in any meaningful sense. Resources have a history and a future, just as human beings do. The question of what we consider to be a resource changes as society changes.

So in Ancient Rome, one of the main uses of coal was to make jewellery. Women liked the look of this glinting black rock hanging around their necks. No one could have imagined that thousands of years later, coal would be used to power massive steam engines and an entire Industrial Revolution, forever changing how we produce things and transport them around the world.

Two thousand years ago, the only way people used uranium was to make glass look more yellow. It was used to decorate windows and mirrors. You would probably have been locked up, or subjected to an exorcism, if you had suggested that one day uranium might be used to light up and heat entire cities – or indeed destroy entire cities at the push of a button.

The exact same resource can do very, very different things, depending on social and technological development. It was social limits, not physical limits, which meant that Ancient Romans could not use coal to make things move and other ancient communities could only use uranium to make glass look yellow. And the main problem with resource-pessimists such as Malthusians is that they continually misinterpret social limits as physical limits. They naturalise social limits, reinterpreting and re-presenting problems of social development as problems of nature’s shrinking bounty. They make the fatal flaw of arguing that the main barrier to progress and human comfort is the barrier erected by nature’s limited resources, when in fact it is the barrier erected by crises of social imagination.

That is why they are wrong about absolutely everything, why every prediction made by every population scaremonger throughout history has failed to materialize. A very early resource panicker was the second-century Christian philosopher Tertullian. In 200AD, Tertullian said: ‘We are burdensome to the world, the resources are scarcely adequate for us… already nature does not sustain us.’

But back then, there were only 180million human beings on the entire planet – about the same number that currently lives in the eastern part of the United States. The problem for Tertullian was his understandably limited imagination. In his time, pretty much the only known resources were animals, plants and various metals and minerals. Tertullian had no way of conceiving of the enormous abundance of resources inside the Earth, which lay dormant because of social limitations not natural ones.

Thomas Malthus himself, the messiah of modern-day Malthusianism, argued in the early 1800s that food production wouldn’t be able to keep pace with human reproduction, and as a result there would be ‘epidemics, pestilence and plagues’ that would sweep off millions of people. Yet in his era, there were only 980million people on Earth – today there are more than that in China alone and they all have food to eat. Malthus’s problem was that he also saw natural limits where in fact there were social limits. His fundamental pessimism meant he considered it impossible for mankind to develop beyond a certain, nature-enforced point. And yet, shortly after he made his population pronouncements, through the industrial revolution and various social revolutions, mankind did overcome many social limitations and found new ways to make food and deliver it to people around the globe.

It is their limits-obsessed outlook which means that Malthusians are always spectacularly wrong. You would be better off listening to Mystic Meg than the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). Malthusians pose as a science-based, rationalist movement that has worked out through equations and pie charts what the carrying capacity of the Earth is. But actually they continually make a schoolboy scientific error. Their error is to imagine that population is the only variable, the only thing that grows and grows, while everything else – including resources, society, progress and discovery – stays roughly the same.

But the truth, as history shows us, is that population is not the only variable. Resources are a variable, too. So is mankind’s vision, determination, and ability to rethink and tackle problems. These things grow and change just as population does. Malthusians’ mathematics doesn’t add up, because their social pessimism means that they fail to factor in possibly the most important and decisive variable of all: mankind’s ingenuity.

It seems very clear to me that today, still, the main problem we face is absolutely social rather than natural. We now live under a cult of sustainability, a social and political framework which says that we should never overhaul what exists and should instead make do with the world as it is. The idea of sustainability is anti-exploration, anti-experimentation, anti-risk – all the qualities we need if we are going to make the kind of breakthroughs that earlier generations made with coal and uranium and other resources. In contrast to the past, today human society is accommodating to social limitations, and accepting the idea that they are natural, rather than trying to break through them. The Malthusian mindset is winning, and that is a tragedy for all of us.

The second important thing about the Malthusians’ focus on finiteness is that it helps to explain why they are so misanthropic.

Over the past 200 years, Malthusians have tended to look at people as simply the users-up of scarce resources. They have tended to view nature as the producer of things and mankind as the consumer of things. And their view of people as little more than consumers – almost as parasites – inevitably leads to them seeing human beings as the cause of every modern ill, and therefore reducing the number of human beings as the solution to every modern ill. Their focus on finiteness means they conceive of humanity as a kind of bovine force, hoovering up everything that it comes across.

The ascendancy of the Malthusian outlook can really be seen in the way people are frequently discussed these days: as exploiters, the mere users of resources, the destroyers of things.

So mankind’s building of cities and factories is increasingly referred to as an ‘eco-footprint’, as if it is something dirty and destructive. Our use of natural resources such as wood and oil is referred to as ‘the rape of the planet’. Even our use of water is now problematised, with various charities telling us to measure our ‘water footprint’ and only to shower every other day. We are encouraged to be ‘water neutral’. In the past there was another word for ‘water neutrality’ – death. No living creature known to man can survive without water and yet today we’re supposed to feel guilty about using it.

This popular depiction of mankind as gorging on nature’s fragile resources is not actually based on scientific fact or hard proof of widespread resource depletion. That is clear from the fact that even water is now included in the list of resources we should use rarely and sparingly – only a mad person could believe that water will ever run out. No, this view is based on a profound, philosophical shift in our attitudes towards ourselves, a shift from viewing humanity as the tamer of the planet and the creator of society, towards viewing humanity as a plague on the planet and the destroyer of our surroundings.

It is a spectacularly one-sided view of people. Because we don’t only use resources; we also create them. We are not only consumers; we are also producers. In fact, I would argue that we have realised the potential of this planet. Without us it would just be another ball spinning through space stuffed with useless coal and pointless uranium. We extracted that coal and uranium and made something amazing with it: modern human society. We created the social conditions in which the Earth’s resources could be used to their full potential; we created the means for extracting and transforming those resources; we created cities, workplaces and homes on the back of those resources; and every time, we managed to get more and more stuff from fewer resources and created new resources along the way.

The Malthusian view of humans as little more than consumers leads to some very dodgy ideas. So last year, the OPT launched a website called PopOffsets, which involved encouraging well-off Westerners to offset their carbon emissions by paying for people in the Third World to stop procreating.

The idea is that you log on, enter information about a flight you recently took or how much you have been driving your car, and then the site tells you how much carbon you have used and therefore how much you should donate to a Third World reproductive charity. That charity makes up for your carbon-use by cutting back on the pitter-patter of tiny carbon footprints in countries like Kenya. So if you took a round-trip from London to Sydney, that adds up to 10 tonnes of carbon, in which case you are asked to donate £40 to help prevent the birth of one child in Africa.

That is the value that modern-day Malthusians put on new human life: it is roughly equal to 10 tonnes of carbon, or one holiday Down Under. Apparently these lives have no intrinsic worth, no moral or cultural meaning; they’re simply bargaining chips in some wealthy Westerner’s desire to absolve himself of eco-guilt.

Such misanthropy is a direct result of the fetish of finiteness. Because when you view human beings as the ravenous users of resources, then you start to see human life itself as a pollutant, a drain on the planet. That is why Malthusians constantly refer to every newborn child in Africa as ‘another mouth to feed’. In their worldview, another child is not something to celebrate; it is simply an eating machine that needs to be attended to. We have lost sight of the fact that human beings are not just mouths to feed – they are also brains that can think, minds that can create, and hands that can work.

And thirdly, and finally, the elevation of the Malthusian idea of finiteness gives rise to authoritarianism. When you see everything as running out, when you believe that anarchy is potentially just around the corner, then you become a bit like those strange men in Alabama who think the world is coming to an end, so they stock up on guns and baked beans and never leave the house. You develop a siege mentality. You see other people as a tsunami of destruction, and almost any measure can be justified to hold back that tsunami.

Of course, the Malthusians have learned from their past. They have learned from their earlier dalliances with eugenics in the 1930s and forced sterilisation in India in the 1970s, and from their complicity in the development of China’s one-child policy in the 1980s; they know that population authoritarianism is not popular. Women don’t like being told what to do with their wombs, and men don’t like being forced into vasectomies. So modern-day Malthusians have adopted the language of ‘reproductive choice’ and ‘female empowerment’ instead. But this is deeply, deeply disingenuous.

Because when you promote family planning on the basis that too many children will destroy the planet, on the basis that women are creating future pollutants, on the basis that our offspring will turn into planet-rapists, then you are not giving women real reproductive choice, which is something I fully support; no, you are giving them an ultimatum. You are instructing them that if they carry on breeding, then they will be responsible for natural disasters and carnage on a Biblical scale. That is coercion; it is an invasion of women’s free will. And it is the end result of a misanthropic outlook which says that the worst thing a human being can do is create another human being.