Monday, 31 December 2012

Australian journalist's New Year's message: "At an 8C rise, humans go down to a few million and must retreat to Antarctica"

Australian Sunday Herald Sun's gaming writer Alice Clark heralds in the new year:

At the rate that we're going, large portions of land will be under water in about 20 years.
If we do nothing to stop the ice shelf in western Antarctica from falling into the sea, 15 per cent of our city by the bay will be just a bay by 2040. While global warming won't end the world, it will make it largely uninhabitable for humans. We're experiencing species loss at the highest rate in 63 million years.
If temperatures rise 6C, the human population will decline to two billion and we will also lose most species, including trees.
At an 8C rise, humans go down to a few million and must retreat to Antarctica. It is possible for humans to continue living underground if the planet gets too hot, but there isn't very good phone reception down there. -

Once we run out of easy access to food and (especially) water, we will start killing each other over corn and wells and you just know that the nukes will rain from the sky. 
The growing gap between rich and poor is another thing that could end the world.
When there are a few people who are disgustingly rich, a large group of people who are extremely poor, and a larger group of people who earn enough to be kind of OK but have no security, this ends in resentment, crime, famine, war and the French Revolution.
Since we've come a long way from muskets and swords, any large uprising of the 99 per cent is going to trigger an epic war that will reduce the world to a post-apocalyptic wasteland. And that's on top of global warming.
This Alice in Wonderland should take a break from gaming in order to prepare for a return to reality. 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

A new low for Foreign Policy Magazine

The once venerable Foreign Policy Magazine has reached a new low by publishing an article on shale gas exploration in Poland, written by a Bulgarian poet by the name of Dimiter Kenarov. The blog article, which could have been written by Vladimir Putin's or Gazprom's PR department, dismisses Poland's hopes to find shale gas and the US support for exploration with this kind of language:

Despite the project's importance, shale gas in Poland seems to be headed the way of the missile shield, which the Obama administration scrapped because of Russian objections in 2009. Difficult geology, an uncompetitive service sector, poor infrastructure, and lack of rigs have hampered development. Poland has a venerable oil and gas sector, but most of the transmission pipelines are based in the southwest, while major shale gas areas are in the northeast. Strict EU environmental laws, as well as unclear regulatory and tax frameworks have further eroded prospects. And while exploration has been going on for a few years now, only 33 wells have been drilled, with just eight of them fracked (at least 200 would have to be drilled in the exploratory stage, just to assess the actual size of reserves).
But the shift in Polish foreign policy -- and the focus on shale gas -- has come not only as a response to Russia, but also to prompting by the United States. In April 2010, the U.S. State Department launched the Global Shale Gas Initiative (since renamed Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program) to "achieve greater energy security, meet environmental objectives and further U.S. economic and commercial interests." The program, which aims to provide technical and regulatory assistance to selected countries, has become an administrative tool of U.S. foreign policy in the global battle over energy resources and the recalibration of political alliances. Despite the lack of a scientific consensus on the benefits and drawbacks of shale gas in the United States, the State Department has nonetheless initiated engagement programs all over the world, from Jordan to India to China; cooperation with Poland has been especially close.

Hoping to emulate the U.S. "energy revolution," Poland has come to rely on the United States to show the way. President Barack Obama, on his visit to Poland in May last year, made a special point of endorsing shale gas. After the failure of the Bush-era missile defense, a proposed antiballistic missile shield to be based in Eastern Europe, shale gas has become perhaps the most significant project in U.S.-Polish relations. And though much smaller in scale than the missile shield, both symbolize the same idea: a U.S. deterrent of Russian foreign-policy interests in Central and Eastern Europe.

Despite the economic and environmental realities, both politicians and the public in Poland continue to believe in the potential of the country's unconfirmed, unconventional resources. Whether the Polish government and private companies will manage to start production, or whether shale gas is just a foreign policy tool to needle Russia, boost U.S. presence in the region, and increase Polish visibility within the EU, remains unclear. The Flame of Hope, in the meantime, has begun to sputter out. 

Foreign Policy adds that freelance journalist Kenarov's "trip is supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting". It is difficult to understand why a trip to Poland should be paid by a center for "Crisis Reporting". And one wonders whether Kenarov actually ever went to Poland. The impression one gets from his article is that he visited Moscow instead.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Corruption in Putin's Russia will not end before Putin himself ends up on trial

John Lloyd, Director of Journalism at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Jornalism at Oxford University, has written an interesting article on corruption in Putin's Russia, one of the most corrupt countries in the world:

The INDEM think tank in Moscow, run by Georgy Satarov, a former aide to President Boris Yeltsin, estimates that corruption costs the country $300 billion to 500 billion a year. With a gross domestic product of some $1.5 trillion, that is up to one-third of the economy. Meanwhile, capital flight last year came in at $84 billion, double that in 2010 and is still, it seems, increasing.

Putin is not thought to be far from the trough. There are allegations from the political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky that the president's personal pile is more than $30 billion, though these estimates are unsourced and seem politically biased. (Belkovsky is an associate of the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky, an enemy of the president.) More to the point, perhaps, was a report by the opposition leader Boris Nemtsov that the official trappings of the president included private, expensively tailored aircraft, 20 residences, four yachts and almost $700,000 worth of watches - the lifestyle of a billionaire. On these allegations, the Kremlin responds with silence, or a curt denial. --
Putin, in his state-of-the-nation speech last week, sought not only to pledge to fight corruption and end the impression of the elite being "an isolated caste" but also to laud Russia's "state civilization, unified by the Russian people, Russian language and Russian culture which  unites us, does not allow us to dissolve." Yet the "dissolving" of Russia will not come, as he claims, from the imperialist designs of a hypocritical West but from the challenges - in shrinking population, polluted cities, groaning infrastructure, gross inequalities  and vast corruption. To deal with those, the Russian leader needs to be part of a global solution. For the moment, though, he isolates himself in the very problem he needs to fix.
However, Lloyd thoroughly disappoints his readers when he thinks that Putin could deal with corruption and the other problems by becoming "part of a global solution" (whatever that is). The distinguished journalist must know that Putin's campaign against corruption is nothing but a sham. The former second rate KGB agent, one of the most corrupt world leaders, can be part of the solution only when he himself ends up on trial. The time for that trial will come, but not quite yet. 

Chevron CEO: Governments everywhere find high energy prices much scarier than the threat of global warming

Greenpeace and the rest of the greenies will probably not like Chevron CEO John Watson's message, but who cares - Watson is only telling the truth:
Chevron CEO John Watson notices something important as he visits his company's operations around the globe: Governments everywhere find high energy prices much scarier than the threat of global warming.
And that means the world will need a lot more oil and gas in the years to come.
Here are a couple of extracts from the AP interview
 The day-to-day decisions being made (show) that concern about climate change is less than other concerns that they have. China is racing by the U.S. in greenhouse gas emissions. Germany is shutting down their nuclear power, the only energy source with zero carbon emissions that can be produced at scale. Japan, much the same way. Governments around the world are making the choice that the benefits of lifting people out of squalor are very important. And affordable energy is the way to get there. And that currently comes through oil, gas and coal.
That doesn't mean there's nothing we can do. First, we can do a lot more on energy efficiency in this country. There are a number of promising technologies to deliver lower carbon fuels. I would support (government funding) of pre-commercial activity to try to advance some of these breakthrough technologies, rather than putting big subsidies on technologies that we know are more expensive and won't necessarily solve the issue.
AP: Will fracking be curtailed in this country?
WATSON: I see very little obstacle to it, notwithstanding all the rhetoric. Now it's being done in some different areas. People aren't used to it, and there have been legitimate concerns expressed, like truck traffic at a simple level, but also concerns about water supplies. They're understandable anxieties. And so we have to work through those with the governments. I think in due course we'll do that because they'll see the advantages to it.
AP: Will natural gas become a bigger part of the energy mix?
WATSON: Natural gas will displace coal in power generation. Getting natural gas into the transportation fleet is harder. It works best for vehicles that work from centralized fueling facilities like trucking fleets or buses and cabs. That is happening. Before it can make big inroads beyond that, infrastructure is going to need to be developed. It will take some time.

The EU December "summit": The real success story

Angela Merkel's lack for "leadership" could be a blessing in disguise

German Der Spiegel has published a reconstruction of what happened behind the scenes at the latest EU "summit" in Brussels. There are are many juicy details in the report, but it is this conclusion of what happened at the summit that is of real importance: 

The December summit was historic, in the sense that it stifled Barroso's and Van Rompuy's attempt to build a political union. Both men returned home without having achieved their goals.

The Spiegel journalists complain that "Chancellor Merkel isn't leading, even though she ought to be." "Instead, she both accepts and is responsible for the fact that Europe currently has no vision."

But what the journalists deplore could in reality be the best thing that has happened to Europe in a long time; Europe does not need a political union, and it is a blessing that "no one fights for bold reforms". The only reforms that are really needed are the ones leading to transfer of Brussels powers back to the member countries and their citizens. 

A summit after which Messrs Barroso and Van Rompuy return home without ever coming back, would be the ultimate European success! In order for that to happen, Europe needs a new kind of strong German and northern European leadership. Frau Merkel's lack of "leadership" is a promising beginning .....


Among the "juicy" stuff in the Spiegel report, this piece of information is not without a certain interest:
Monday, Dec. 17. Berlin, the headquarters of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, a meeting of the CDU steering committee, 10 a.m.

Merkel reports on the summit in Brussels. She is under the impression, she says, that Hollande is trying to obstruct everything she proposes between now and the German parliamentary election. Hollande currently has more allies than she does, she says, which is why cooperation isn't quite working yet. But she's doing her best to gather more allies for Germany, she adds.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The EU's senseless renewable energy and climate change policies are seriously weakening manufacturing industries

The crisis-ridden European Union's senseless renewable energy and climate change policies are seriously weakening the competitiveness of European companies, which increasingly are moving their production facilities to countries with cheaper energy costs:

High energy costs are emerging as an issue in Europe that is prompting debate, including questioning of the Continent’s clean energy initiatives. Over the past few years, Europe has spent tens of billions of euros in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The bulk of the spending has gone into low-carbon energy sources like wind and solar power that have needed special tariffs or other subsidies to be commercially viable.
“We embarked on a big transition to a low-carbon economy without taking into account the cost and without factoring in the competitive impact,” says Fabien Roques, head of European power and carbon at the energy consulting firm IHS CERA in Paris. “I think there will be a critical review of some of these policies in the next few years.”
Both consumers and the industry are upset about high energy costs. Energy-intensive industries like chemicals and steel are, if not closing European plants outright, looking toward places like the United States that have lower energy costs as they pursue new investments.
BASF, the German chemical giant, has been outspoken about the consequences of energy costs for competitiveness and is building a new plant in Louisiana.
“We Europeans are currently paying up to four or five times more for natural gas than the Americans,” Harald Schwager, a member of the executive board at BASF, said last month. “Energy efficiency alone will not allow us to compensate for this. Of course, that means increased competition for all the European manufacturing sites.”
Current European energy policies were mostly shaped when the European economy was booming. In the grim economic climate of today, spending big money on renewables can seem like a luxury. Spain — once a strong supporter of renewables — has sharply cut funding.
The British government, another big backer of clean energy, recently struck a compromise. It promised to soak consumers for billions of pounds of subsidies for renewables like wind power and even new nuclear power plants, but it also gave a cautious green light to shale gas drilling in hopes of finding a cheaper source of natural gas.
A British consumer advocacy group called Which? recently pegged the costs to British consumers of decarbonization and new energy infrastructure at more than £100 billion, or $161 billion, and said that “persistently rising energy prices” were putting “intense financial pressures” on the public. In Germany, renewables subsidies are already adding 10 percent to 15 percent to bills, according to IHS.
Europeans cannot help noticing that the United States has managed, through the shale gas boom, not only to slash natural gas prices but also to cut carbon dioxide emissions to a 20-year low as utilities have shifted from coal to natural gas, which produces much less carbon dioxide.
Read the entire article here

Monday, 24 December 2012

Brave Poland continues its fight against the European Unions's senseless global warming "flagship" policy

Poland is to be congratulated for continuing its brave fight against the European Union's senseless carbon-trading system and global warming policy.This and the fact that Poland also intends to replace old coal plants with massive new ones (a wise policy) appears particularly to anger the "green" Germans. Der Spiegel has published a critical article on the Polish energy and global warming policy:

On Monday, coal-dependent Poland continued its virtually solitary opposition to a widely-supported -- and badly needed -- short-term fix for Europe's carbon-trading system, the continent's flagship policy in the fight against global warming. Such obstreperousness, however, has not led to Poland's being internationally ostracized. On the contrary, even as the country helped block Europe's ability to present a unified front at the recent climate change conference in Doha, Poland was chosen to host the next conference in 2013.
It is a decision which seems destined to make next year's conference, aimed at fashioning a global pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, just as unsuccessful as in years past.
The pessimism is born of Poland's ongoing addiction to coal -- and of the government's own interest in the status quo. Recently, Tusk told a press conference that "energy is the key to politics." And in Poland, there is little difference between the two. Despite communism having crumbled almost two-and-a-half decades ago, much of the energy industry in Poland remains under government control. Though many of the largest energy companies have been ostensibly privatized, the Polish treasury often retains a significant stake.
"There is a vested interest in maintaining the current power system, so the renewable energy system is too dispersed to benefit the right players in the system," said Michael LaBelle, a professor at Central European University in Budapest who teaches energy policy. "They are coal-aholics, that's the best term to use, it's horrible but it's true."
Poland is the 10th largest consumer of coal in the world and produces 92 percent of its electricity from coal, according to the World Coal Association. And despite EU targets for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, Poland is pressing forward with plans replace old coal plants with massive new ones.
That doesn't mesh well with Europe's CO2 emissions reduction plans. As Europe's emissions trading system grows and becomes more comprehensive, carbon should get more expensive. But Poland has responded by both fighting against making fixes to the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) -- which has been crippled by chronically low prices for emissions certificates -- and against more ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions. Warsaw has also pushed to get extra pollution allowances for new and existing plants.

Instead of criticizing Poland for its decision to invest in new coal energy technology, Germans should look at what is happening in their own "green dreamworld":

EON SE, the worst-performing stock in Germany’s benchmark DAX index (DAX) for the first year since the company was formed in 2000, has ripped up earnings forecasts as a surfeit of electricity from wind turbines and solar panels makes its fleet of gas-fired plants unprofitable. In contrast, RWE AG (RWE) has gained 16 percent because EON’s closest rival has more cheap-to-run coal stations better able to compete with renewables.
RWE, Europe’s biggest air polluter, started to operate a new 2,200-megawatt coal-fired power plant near Cologne in August. One of EON’s newest gas-fired power plants, Irsching 5 in Bavaria, has operated for less than 1,600 hours so far this year, compared with 4,000 hours a year earlier, according to EON, and may be temporarily closed. Irsching’s older unit 3 has only operated for 87 hours.
That has consequences not only for Germany’s two biggest utilities but also for the environment.
“Germany is currently switching from nuclear to coal, and from gas to coal -- about the worst thing that could be done from a climate change perspective,” Dieter Helm, an energy policy professor at the University of Oxford, said by e-mail. “Its current energy policy is not going to reduce its real emissions.”
The news article by Bloomberg cited aboce is full of nonsense - like calling energy company RWE "Europe's biggest air polluter" - but the warmist Oxford professor is right when he says that Germany's energy policy is not going to reduce its "emissions". Instead it seems to be leading to more investment in coal-fired energy production - which is not at all a bad thing, but it is a pity that the senseless subsidies to wind turbines and solar panels are destroying well functioning gas-fired plants. At the same time these subsidies are leading to a steep rise in energy costs for ordinary consumers.
And all this madness will not reduce any "real emissions"! And when it comes to use of coal energy, Germans should be the last ones to criticize Poland !

Sunday, 23 December 2012

New US study: Natural gas-fired energy generation three times cheaper than wind energy

On January 1, US consumers/taxpayers have a big reason to celebrate - the federal production tax credit on wind investment expires: 

For the past 20 years the credit has offset about 30% of the cost of building wind turbines. Add to that the “renewable portfolio standards” for green energy mandated by 29 states, and as a result we’ve seen wind farms spring up across the country. Since 2007 nearly 40% of all the new electricity capacity built in this country has been wind. Wind now generates roughly 3.5% of U.S. electricity.
Don’t expect wind’s share to climb beyond that level any time soon. The end of the tax credit could very well mean the end of the wind industry.

Read the entire article here

The greenies and the wind energy lobby are of course whining, but an end of an industry, which is totally dependent on government (taxpayer) subsidies would be more than welcome in a country, where there is an abundance of clean and cheap natural gas (mainly shale gas) for energy production - and increasingly also as fuel for trucks and cars. 

The real productions costs for wind energy are about three times higher than the costs for natural gas-fired energy, according to a new report by the American Tradition Institute:

new report by the American Tradition Institute (ATI) finds that the full cost of wind electricity is nearly twice what has typically been reported, once hidden costs and subsidies are taken into account. The report, “The Hidden Costs of Wind Electricity,” provides an analysis of three major costs that past estimates have ignored.
“The costs that have been left out of previous reports are the costs of paying for the fossil-fired plants that must balance wind’s variations, the inefficiencies that wind imposes on those plants, and the cost of longer-distance transmission,” said George Taylor, Senior Fellow in Energy Policy at ATI and lead author of the study.  “Once these hidden costs are included and subsidies are excluded, wind generation is not close to being competitive with conventional generation sources such as natural gas, coal or nuclear.”
Using conservative estimates for these real but hidden costs and adding them to the Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s most recent generation-cost reports nearly doubles wind’s projected cost – from 8 cents per kilowatt-hour without them to 15 cents per kWh with them.
That 15 cents/kWh is triple the current cost of natural gas-fired generation and 40 to 50% higher than EIA’s estimates for the cost of new nuclear or coal-fired generation.
“Because wind is an intermittent source of electricity, it needs appropriate amounts of fossil-fueled capacity ready at all times to balance its large and rapid variations,” said Tom Tanton, Director of Science & Technology Assessment at ATI and a co-author of the report. “Those primary fossil plants then operate less efficiently than if they were running full-time without wind, meaning that any savings of gas and coal or any reductions in emissions are much less than simple calculations would indicate.”

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Quote of the week: "The EU does not solve any problems, it is the problem"

Quote of the week:

"The EU does not solve any problems, it is the problem. Since the end of the existing real socialism, for which it was also said there was no alternative, the EU is the most massive attempt to incapacitate citizens and abolish democracy in the society."

 Henryk M. BroderPolish born German journalistauthor and TV personality in an interview

The cost of funding José Manuel Durão Barroso and the other EU bureaucrats

This is how much it annually costs EU taxpayers to fund the former maoist J.M. Barroso and the other EU bureaucrats.

Now we know how much the taxpayers of EU member countries have to pay every year in order for van Rompuy, Barroso, Baroness Ashton and all the other EU bureaucrats to receive their salaries: 

4,5 thousand million euros (4,500,000,000 € )!

EU: Salaries


Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon
    To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the total salary bill of the European Commission and other EU institutions; and of the level and total amount of personal taxation levied on those salaries.[HL3798]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): EU institutions' staff members are not subject to national income tax. Instead, salaries paid by the Commission to its officials are subject to a community tax which is paid directly back into the EU's budget. An additional levy is also in place for EU officials. These taxes result in around €700 million in revenue for the EU budget each year. The total salary bill of the European Commission and other EU institutions totals €4.5 billion every year.

Source: House of Lords; Written answers, Tuesday 18 December 2012.  

Friday, 21 December 2012

Merkel's senseless energy transition brings poverty to Germany

More and more Germans have to disconnect the electricity supply becayse thhey cannot afford to pay the high energy prices. 

Germany is often described as the rich powerhouse and paymaster of the eurozone. This description is not false, but it does not tell the whole truth. There is also a flip side of the German euro coin: 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has come under renewed attack for its record on fighting poverty, which a new study says is increasing despite low unemployment and Germany’s status as the euro zone’s economic powerhouse.
The Paritätische study follows a report from the research body at the Economics Ministry earlier this week which said young people are at the highest risk of poverty, particularly those from immigrant backgrounds and single-parent households.
According to Paritätische, which questioned 830,000 in a survey, the percentage of the population as a whole threatened by poverty in Germany increased to a post-reunification high of 15.1% in 2011–up from 14.5% in 2010, despite a year-on-year increase in the country’s economic output of about 3%. In the capital, Berlin, one in 10 inhabitants is at risk of poverty.
The Merkel government's senseless energy transition policy is one major factor contributing to the growing number of poor in Germany. Thousands of Germans, among them many elderly people, are now living in houses and apartments without heating and electricity, because they cannot afford to pay the high energy prices. A new study by the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft shows that the burden of the higher energy prices is above all hitting Germany's poor. Well to do people are the ones profiting from the wind and solar energy subsidies. During the next few years the energy costs for German consumers are expected to further rise with about 70%, sending more and more Germans into energy poverty. Next year alone, "green" energy subsidies will amount to more than €18 billion ($23.32 billion).
The question is, how long are Germans willing to put up with this renewable energy madness? 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

IPCC expert reviewer: Modest rise of temperature will do more good than harm

There is not going to be the kind of large temperature rise that IPCC alarmists have predicted. The estimated modest rise of no more than 1 C will will actually do more good than harm. Matt Ridley, writing in the Wall Street Journal/Australian, has been talking to Nic Lewis, an expert reviewer of the leaked draft IPCC Scientific Report
In short: we can now estimate, based on observations, how sensitive the temperature is to carbon dioxide. We do not need to rely heavily on unproven models. Comparing the trend in global temperature over the past 100-150 years with the change in "radiative forcing" (heating or cooling power) from carbon dioxide, aerosols and other sources, minus ocean heat uptake, can now give a good estimate of climate sensitivity.
The conclusion - taking the best observational estimates of the change in decadal-average global temperature between 1871-80 and 2002-11, and of the corresponding changes in forcing and ocean heat uptake - is this: a doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6-1.7C.
This is much lower than the IPCC's current best estimate, 3C.
Lewis is an expert reviewer of the recently leaked draft of the IPCC's WG1 Scientific Report. The IPCC forbids him to quote from it, but he is privy to all the observational best estimates and uncertainty ranges the draft report gives. What he has told me is dynamite.
Given what we know now, there is almost no way the feared large temperature rise is going to happen. Lewis comments: "Taking the IPCC scenario that assumes a doubling of CO2, plus the equivalent of another 30 per cent rise from other greenhouse gases by 2100, we are likely to experience a further rise of no more than 1C."
A cumulative change of less than 2C by the end of this century will do no net harm. It will actually do net good - that much the IPCC scientists have already agreed upon in the last IPCC report. Rainfall will increase slightly; growing seasons will lengthen; Greenland's ice cap will melt only very slowly, and so on.
Some of the best recent observationally based research also points to climate sensitivity being about 1.6C for a doubling of CO2. An impressive study published this year by Magne Aldrin of the Norwegian Computing Centre and colleagues gives a most-likely estimate of 1.6C. Michael Ring and Michael Schlesinger of the University of Illinois, using the most trustworthy temperature record, also estimate 1.6C.
The big question is this: will the lead authors of the relevant chapter of the forthcoming IPCC scientific report acknowledge that the best observational evidence no longer supports the IPCC's existing 2-4.5C "likely" range for climate sensitivity? Sadly, this seems unlikely - given the organisation's record of replacing evidence-based policymaking with policy-based evidence-making, as well as the reluctance of academic scientists to accept that what they have been maintaining for many years is wrong.
Read the entire article here

The euro crisis is by far not over

EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso, ECB President Mario Draghi and French President François Hollande have all recently declared that the euro crisis is over. Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich,  executive director of The New Zealand Initiative, thinks that all this talk about victory - which we have heard before - is premature:

The first reason to doubt the euro optimists is the cyclical nature of the euro crisis. We have been there before, more than once. Over the past three years there has been no shortage of ‘breakthroughs’ in the crisis but none has lasted long. Europe’s monetary and sovereign debt crisis is a complex beast, as should have become clear by now. If it is ever solved, it will only happen over a long period of time, but most certainly not overnight.
Second, even if financial data indicate an overall improvement, this does not reach the ‘real economy’. It is rather bizarre that there is talk about an end of the euro crisis at the same time that the ECB has just cut its growth forecast for the eurozone.
The ECB’s previous forecast was for 0.5 per cent eurozone GDP growth, but earlier this month ECB President Draghi said it was unlikely to exceed 0.3 percent next year and the economy could even end up shrinking by 0.9 per cent. With such “growth” (if you can call it that), it is hard to imagine any substantial improvement in Europe’s public debt situation. If anything, Europe’s public debt mountain will grow further. If the Europeans are lucky, the only thing that might shrink is the rate at which their debt will grow – provided austerity measures work.
Third, there are enough complicating factors in European politics that will make crisis management more difficult in 2013 than it had been in 2012. Chief among them are general elections in two of the big eurozone countries, Italy and Germany. In both countries’ elections, the future of monetary union will play a key role. As I have argued before, in Italy it may even trigger a debate on the country’s continued euro membership (Berlusconi battles towards an Italian liberation, December 13), while the German elections will delay any meaningful debt restructuring for Greece (How Merkel’s fiction is writing Greece’s future, November 22).
Fourth, there remains a big question mark behind the ECB’s announcement to defend the euro at all costs. Not only does the ECB lack a mandate to defend the euro, let alone individual eurozone countries, from collapse. Indeed, it cannot even be ruled out that the legality of the ECB’s action will be challenged in the courts. But there is also a political reason why the ECB could be struggling to do what it has promised.
As long as consumer prices remain stable and inflation expectations low, it is easy for the ECB to promise defending the euro at all costs. That is because these costs are hardly visible. If however the ECB’s activism eventually manifests itself in price increases it will be much harder for Europe’s central bankers to deliver on their promise.
The European public, particularly in central Europe, remains highly sensitive about price stability, which puts a limit to the ECB’s room for manoeuvre. How likely is it, really, that the ECB can continue to bail out banks and governments once the inflation genie has escaped from the bottle?
For these reasons, it is premature to proclaim the euro crisis dead. And we have not even talked about the structural differences between eurozone members which are the root of the euro crisis and which have not changed substantially since the euro crisis first erupted. Neither have we considered the political implications of a Greek default which would cost central European taxpayers dearly. Least of all have we even mentioned the structural and demographic challenges hanging over the European economy like a Damoclean sword.
No, the euro crisis is not over. It was wishful thinking that got Europe into its crisis. But wishful thinking will not get Europe out of it.
Read the entire article here
Dr Harwich is of course right. The "victory" Barroso, Draghi, Hollande and others are talking about is nothing but wishful thinking. The fundamental flaws of the euro are still there, and nothing of real importance has been done to remove them. This is just another case of calm before another storm ...

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

UN Secretary General celebrates his new 500 hp luxury limousine: "This looks like a very big holiday gift for me"

Ban Ki-moon, December 4, 2012:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described global warming as an  "existential challenge for the whole human race", when he recently spoke at the COP18 meeting in Doha. The Secretary General added:
"Climate change is happening much, much faster than one would understand."  

"The science has plainly made it clear: it is the human beings' behavior which caused climate change, therefore the solution must come from us."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepted an armored Hyundai sedan from South Korea's Ambassador Kim Sook on Monday afternoon, along with a glass of champagne.
 Ambassador Kim Sook said the car had taken one year to customize, and is named Equus, which he translated as "horse of victorious general" -- in this case, Secretary General.
AP reports that Ban marveled at his "brand new beautiful armored vehicle"."This looks like a very big holiday gift for me," the Secretary General added. 
This is how Hyundai describes their brand new luxury limousine Equus :
The facelifted Equus fully reflects the feedback from its target customers, a class of busy leaders that need to be conscious about their social status while still requiring practical space and features.
In particular, the Equus facelift aims to offer maximum satisfaction to rear seat passengers, with fine-tuned suspension that ensures more riding comfort and balance on bumpy road conditions.
The 2013 Equus is powered by Hyundai's 5.0-liter Tau DOHC V8 engine, producing 429 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 376 lb-ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm.
The facts above relate to the standard Equus model. Ban's armored "holiday gift" is of course in a class of its own, with a plethora of additional luxury features, and an enlarged V8 engine. 
Happy riding, Mr. Secretary General! 
We hear that some ordinary UN staffers are less than happy with Ban's new Christmas gift;
"We're told by Ban's office we can't accept even a bottle of wine from our Missions," one complained. "And he takes a car?"

Monday, 17 December 2012

Putin, the dictator, is turning the clock back in Russia

Vladimir Putin, the dictator of Russia, is turning the clock back in his country. The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt has no doubts about the reality in Putin's Russia:
He has had his compliant parliament redefine “treason” so vaguely that pretty much anyone who speaks to a foreigner or foreign organization will be nervous. “I’m liable just by job description,” Lokshina said. “I literally don’t have to do anything.”
Putin required any organization that takes foreign funds, which means most human rights groups, to declare itself a “foreign agent,” which to Russian ears sounds synonymous with “spy.” He expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development. Both the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute (IRI), which help political parties learn to function in democracies, have had to pull staff out after two decades in Moscow, IRI just last week.
Putin also set out to make examples of those who defy him. An independent-minded legislator was drummed out of the Duma. An opposition leader, Sergei Udaltsov, was charged with plotting mass disorder, and his associate was kidnapped from neighboring Ukraine and tossed into jail. The ludicrous persecution of the Pussy Riot musicians has been well documented, but 17 other protesters are being prosecuted, with one already sentenced to 4 ½ years. A daring opposition blogger, Alexei Navalny, and his brother are threatened with prison on byzantine, far-fetched allegations of bribery and fraud.
The phoniness of the case is the point: No one is beyond Putin’s reach, and no one will be protected by judges, the law — or innocence. Just as in his first term he broke one of the richest industrialists, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to tame every other oligarch, so the prosecution of Russia’s best-known and most daring leaders cows everyone else, down to health-ministry bureaucrats in Siberia (and their brothers).
Putin is seeking to instill this fear because of his own. Large protests a year ago stunned him. “He’s frightened,” said Lokshina. “He wants to go back to 2007, when he was certain of stability and his popularity.”
Lokshina says that she doesn’t believe he will succeed. “It is a different society, and he cannot turn back the clock.”
Read the entire column here
Let's hope that Tanya Lokshina, deputy director of the Russia office of Human Rights Watch, is right. In the end, Putin will be chased out of his office, but before that happens, he and his  KGB cronies are capable of causing a lot of damage and suffering in a country, so rich in natural resources, but still suffering from the legacy of decades of communist rule. 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Envirofundamentalist Friends of the Earth cynically exploits Sandy victims

It is easy to feel sympathy for retired NYC firefighter Don Green and the other Sandy victims, but the way the Friends of the Earth uses their stories in order to frighten people to donate money to its dubious activities is both cynical and highly objectionable. 

Envirofundamentalist Friends of the Earth has launched "Climate Stories",  one of the most cynical fund raising campaigns ever, using victims of the tropical storm Sandy and other natural events in order to scare people to finance its dubious activities: 

The project, produced in partnership with HEIST (, uses powerful, emotional video shot entirely on location to bring to light the very real and tangible effects that climate change and extreme weather are already having on Americans all across the country.
Inspired in part by the devastation left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and this summer’s record-breaking drought, Climate Stories documents unique, personal stories from Americans living across the country, from Alaska to Nebraska, Louisiana to Vermont.
“We’re already seeing the effects of climate change everywhere, affecting Americans regardless of political affiliation or background,” said Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica. “This campaign represents a new way of approaching the issue. It’s time to hear from real people whose lives are already being transformed. Stories are a powerful way to mobilize and inspire everyone -- most importantly, President Obama --  to act now to on climate change.”
The website, found at, highlights short videos of Rockaway Beach, New York, and Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, emphasize the large-scale loss of neighborhoods and homes to Superstorm Sandy and encroaching sea levels, respectively. In the videos, interviews with residents draw contrasts between past weather patterns and the recent, erratic events that are destroying their ways of life.
The campaign also compiles user-submitted stories and invites visitors to submit their own accounts, pictures and videos. In Wisconsin, unseasonable temperatures ruined apple crops for a farming family and other apple-growers across the state, while in Colorado, a family explains the heartbreak of losing their home in recent record wildfires.
The well paid Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica most certainly knows that Sandy was not caused by global warming/climate change. But he is doing exactly what professor Roger Pielke Jr. is warning us about:
Public discussion of disasters risks being taken over by the climate lobby and its allies, who exploit every extreme event to argue for action on energy policy.-
There are no signs that human-caused climate change has increased the toll of recent disasters, as even the most recent extreme-event report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds. And even under the assumptions of the IPCC, changes to energy policies wouldn't have a discernible impact on future disasters for the better part of a century or more.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

German scientist: UN climate models represent "almost complete disregard for reality"

Sanity is beginning to prevail in the German public debate on global warming. More and more leading experts say that it is time to discard the useless, expensive and absurd UN climate negotiation process:

Today's computer-simulated climate models, the foundation of all UN climate negotiations, represent the "almost complete disregard for reality," says Werner Krauss, from the Helmholtz Geesthacht Center for Materials and Coastal Research. "A world is being saved that only exists as a model."
Any sort of move away from the 2 degree Celsius target, of course, would be politically risky. To many, it would sound like an abdication and a retreat from decades of pledges to finally launch a global effort to combat global warming. But researchers are beginning to come to the conclusion that there might be no other way.
The goal of limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius has become much too central, they say, because it guarantees that the focus of the public debate remains almost exclusively on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Yet after two decades of failed negotiations, the 2 degree goal has likely already become unattainable. It's time to broaden the focus, they say.
"The current discussion is much too fixated on greenhouse gases," says Uekötter. He refers to the recent climate conference failures as the "phase of inaction."
Instead, many say that measures aimed at dealing with the inevitable consequences of climate change must become central. That would involve including local initiatives in the broader UN approach rather than just focusing on average global temperature.

Germany, for example, has moved ahead with a multi-billion euro plan to protect its coasts from rising sea levels and worsening storm surges. But such issues are left largely unaddressed at UN climate conferences.
"The situation is absurd," says Sebastian Wiesnet of the University of Bamberg. "It would be more forthright, with respect to voters, to step back and think about how global climate protection could really be implemented." Efforts to actually prepare for the effects of climate change, he says, could not only be implemented more quickly, but they would also be cheaper than emissions reduction efforts.
Furthermore, the effects of the changing climate are different from place to place and are often magnified by local realities. When it comes to dangerous storm surges threatening islands in the South Pacific, for example, the UN climate conference tends to focus exclusively on rising sea levels. But the problem is often magnified, for example, by the destruction of coral reefs by fishermen. "At the local level, other, more rapidly changing conditions are often more consequential than climate change," says political scientist Mayer.

Read the entire Der Spiegel article here

The next step is of course for politicians - not only in Germany - to part company with the enviro-fundamentalist greenies, who so far have been allowed to dictate so much of the politically correct global warming/climate change agenda so far. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Quote of the week: The International Trade Union Confederation's employment forecast

The International Trade Union Confederation is worried about employment opportunities in the post Doha world. ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow has just presented their new forecast:

“There will be no jobs in a dead planet"
Sharan Burrow,  General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

One kind of wonders, for how long various national trade unions are prepared to pay, probably a very considerable salary to a representative, who has thrown in his lot with WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam and the other warmist greenies. 

François Hollande - an emperor without clothes

François Hollande, the  party apparatchik, who was never a government minister despite 30 years in politics, enjoys the grandeur of his new home in Paris. But it cannot take long before those who put him there realize that he is an emperor without clothes.

It is becoming more and more apparent, that president François Hollande and his fellow socialists are incapable of reforming their crisis-ridden country:

In the midst of the economic crisis, France's Socialists are denying reality. The minister of industrial renewal is calling for nationalization of some industries, while the president shies away from necessary structural reforms. Business leaders fear the clock has been turned back 30 years.

industry's share of economic output has declined from 18 percent in 2000 to 12.5 percent today. This puts France in 15th place among the 17 countries in the euro zone, and significantly behind Italy. The country's industrial sector has lost 2 million jobs since the Mitterand era. In 2011, France had a trade deficit of €71.2 billion ($93.1 billion), compared with a surplus of €3.5 billion in 2002. At the same time, the national debt has grown to 90 percent of the gross domestic product.
"Whenever a new problem popped up in the last 25 years, our country reacted by increasing spending," says banker Michel Pébereau.
Public sector spending now accounts for almost 57 percent of GDP, more than in Sweden or Germany. For every 1,000 residents, there are 90 public servants (compared with only about 50 in Germany). The public sector employs 22 percent of all workers.
La douce France is a sleepy country of bureaucrats and government officials who want their peace and quiet. But the bad news is beginning to pile up for Hollande.
France is worried, France is beset by doubts and France is depressed, says writer Jean d'Ormesson, a member of the Académie Française. The philosopher Pascal Bruckner confirms his diagnosis: "France's biggest party is the party of fear. The French are afraid of the world, afraid of others and, most of all, afraid of their own fear."
This leads them to turn a blind eye to reality. They feel vindicated in their repression of reality by the crowds of tourists in the country, who value France precisely because of the museum-like quality of its savoir vivre.

Read the entire article here

With this kind of development, it cannot take long before France joins the other southern eurozone countries in need of German bail-out funding. By that time M. Hollande will have to start looking for a new, somewhat less grand dwelling.