March 10, 2008
EYES RIGHT: Mar 05
A burning question
A millennium dawns, and a power and environmental crisis beckons. Or does it? The globe is warming, oil is running out, and it’s all our fault, apparently. Mankind’s fondness for fossil fuels spells doom for us all, or so we are told. The earth will warm, the seas will rise, crops will fail, coastal lowlands will be inundated, polar bears will die out, and yada yada yada. This is partly true. The climate is changing. Temperatures worldwide are increasing. It is happening; it just isn’t happening for the reasons that that Greenies tell us it is.
I was raised as an environmentalist. I love the earth. Like most farmers, and most hunters, I’m a true Green, and proud of it. But unlike the ultra-far-red-leftists of the party which bears the same name, Greenies like me prefer to base our opinions on fact, rather than on dogma, ideology, and bad science.
We are in good company. British botanist, Professor David Bellamy, has published a paper outlining how it is that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are increasing because of global warming, and not, as the flat-earth zealots of the Kyoto Cult claim, the other way round. His findings are based on thirteen thousand years’ worth of archaeological data since the last ice age.
Bellamy refers to the Milankovitch cycles, which measure changes in the earth’s climate brought about by variations in the tilt of our planet’s axis and her orbit around the sun. These changes occur gradually over long periods – up to 100,000 years – and their effects, along with those of the known 300-year and 22-year weather cycles generated by sunspot activity, have been inscribed not only in the fossil record, but also in human history. 1000 years ago, the Vikings grazed cattle on the lush green pastures of what are now the frozen icy wastes of Greenland, and Britain had a wine industry. 750 years later, the climate had cooled to such a degree that people could ice-skate on the River Thames in London.
Bellamy also quotes from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, whose petition against the Kyoto Protocol has been signed by some 18,000 scientists worldwide. Its central claim is simple; “Predictions of harmful climatic effects due to future increases in minor greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide are in error, and do not conform to experimental knowledge.”
Kyoto proponents would do well to acquaint themselves with a little of that experimental knowledge. We are told that melting ice caps will cause sea levels to rise. This is patently untrue, and easily demonstrated. Fill a glass to about three-quarters with water. Drop in a few ice cubes. Mark the water level with a felt-tipped pen.
In an hour or so, when the ice has melted, come back and check the level. You will discover that it hasn’t changed.The science behind this is very, very, third-form simple. Ice is less dense than water, which is why it floats. Because it floats, it displaces water, pushing the water level up. As the ice melts, the displacing ice is replaced by water, of increasing density, at lower volume, meaning that the overall level remains the same. Melting ice caps will have no effect at all on sea levels.
For the record, the Northern ice cap has no land mass under it. It is all floating sea ice. Most of the icebergs released by the Antarctic, are also sea ice, from such reservoirs as the Ross Ice Shelf. Such land-based ice as is released, by retreating glaciers and continental ice masses, is utterly insignificant relative to the volume of the oceans. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to sit down with a map of the world and a pocket calculator to work that one out.
Sea levels will, however, rise with increasing global temperatures. This is because a warming of the oceans causes their waters to expand. Low-lying countries are at risk, unfortunately, and this is a great tragedy of our time; but a greater tragedy still, is the unfettered willingness with which so many otherwise ostensibly intelligent people leap blindly onto a popular bandwagon founded on theory and science which is, plainly and simply, wrong. The burning of fossil fuels by Western nations is not causing the rise in global temperatures, and their cessation in so doing will not halt it, nor will it save those nations which are at risk.
We are also led to believe that methane emissions from New Zealand’s three-odd million cows are irrevocably harming the atmosphere, and that we must purchase “carbon credits” from some other country in order to overcome this.
The authors of this particular chapter of the Kyoto fantasy have obviously not thought far enough outside the box to give consideration to the effects which must, by their logic, have been caused by the up-to-75 million bison which roamed North America until the 1830s, or the huge African wildlife herds that existed up until modern human predation. One would presume, in keeping with their argument, that the globe should now be in credit from that period.
The fantasists also appear to ignore the fact that the atmospheres of the northern and southern hemispheres mix only at the equator, and even then, by only a minute percentage every year. Even if the “carbon credit” theory were anything other than simplistic misinformation, several centuries would have to pass before the effects of carbon emissions “saved” in one hemisphere, had any measurable effect on those “spent” in the other.
And as an aside, forests are not the “carbon sinks” which the Protocolers claim them to be; living plants emit almost as much CO2 as they take in. The only effective way to turn a forest into a carbon sink, is to cut it down for timber, or mill it into paper.
As I write this, on the evening of Wednesday 16th February 2005, the Government of New Zealand is committing the latest in its long litany of ill-informed, incompetent, or deliberate and ideologically-driven blunders. It is ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.
Even as it does, professional activists, from the internationally-franchised business Greenpeace, are occupying the site of this New Zealand Government’s single most intelligent and sensible action – the commissioning of the mothballed Marsden-B power station, as a coal-fired electricity generating plant.
They are doing so because they, and the Greens, and any number of other highly-opinionated yet poorly informed protesters, are opposed to the use of coal as a fuel for electricity generation. It is their claim that the burning of coal, or any other fossil fuel for that matter, in spite of a wealth of informed scientific opinion to the contrary, is a contributing factor to the current cycle of natural climate change. I do beg to differ. Mankind, for all his faults, is just not that significant. We are not affecting our planet’s climate. It is changing all by itself, without our help, as it has done since time immemorial, not just in the couple of hundred years since modern record-keeping began.
A single volcanic eruption on the scale of Taupo, or Krakatoa, or Mount St Helens, or Pinatubo, releases more particulate and oxidative matter into the atmosphere, than has been created by the whole of mankind since the discovery of fire, modern wars included. Sorry, Kyotoers, but once again, this is verifiable fact.
Ice ages come and go. After them, indeed between them, the climate warms again. Greenhouse fanatics choose to ignore this natural phenomenon, because they have no pseudo-scientific way of explaining it.
Though generally short on alternative solutions, in this case, as an alternative to coal, the protestors make some timid noises in favour of natural gas. This is a curious position. The exhaust products from the burning of natural gas (primarily a mix of propane and butane, with some methane, a little ethane, a smattering of pentane, and a dash of carbon monoxide), are mostly water vapour (the single most effective greenhouse gas, which also sustains life on our planet, and staves off ice-ages), and carbon dioxide.
Strangely enough, the exhaust products from a modern coal-fired thermal power station are also, primarily, water vapour and carbon dioxide.
The reality of black gold today, is a long way from the grim memory of its industrial past. Fly ash is caught by filters. Sulphur dioxide is neutralised with lime, and the resultant calcium sulphate is extracted to be used as a fertiliser. After these processes, there is very little left.
Their other preferred alternatives appear to be the continued destruction and flooding of South Island rivers and wilderlands, and the proliferation of ugly, noise-polluting wind farms – which Europe, incidentally, having had much experience of, is now in the process of dismantling.
Nobody wants pollution. There are very good reasons for mankind to pursue an alternative to oil as a source for transport fuels. But just for the record, oil is never going to run out. Contrary to popular myth, it isn’t fermented dinosaur juice. Oil is one of the products which the earth produces all the time, albeit slowly. When we tap into an oil strike, some of the oil comes out under its own pressure, and the next fraction is displaced with water, either sea water or fresh water, depending on whether the find is on land or offshore.
But oil isn’t so much pumped, as collected. Oil companies prefer not to spend unnecessary money on extracting this free and plentiful product; when the easy stuff runs out, the well is capped, declared “dry”, and the company moves on to the next find. At that stage, the reservoir usually still contains around 80% of its original oil.
Oil is handy and versatile stuff, providing us with plastics, artificial fibres, and a host of other products, from cosmetics, to agrichemicals, to road-building materials.
That said, it isn’t the cleanest thing we can put into our fuel tanks; but neither is it, nor coal, the cause of global warming.
Worldwide, a commercially-driven and media supported campaign of mass hysteria over climate change is using fraudulent science and bogus evidence to convince foolish Greenies and ignorant politicians to spend vast amounts of money on solving a problem which doesn’t exist. It is reminiscent of those other great bogeyman stories, about Y2K, SARS, Nuclear War, werewolves, vampires, and Asian Bird Flu.
I end as I began, by quoting Professor Bellamy: “The link between the burning of fossil fuels and global warming is a myth. It is time the world’s leaders, their scientific advisers and many environmental pressure groups woke up to the fact.”
(With acknowledgement to David Bellamy, and special thanks to Allen Cookson for some additional information.)
EYES RIGHT: Feb 05
A Moral Vacuum
It was British philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke who coined the immortal and oft-quoted phrase, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”Burke’s now somewhat clichéd observation was intended as a warning, but in many instances, it is apparent that that warning has not been heeded.There is an evil afflicting modern New Zealand society, and we as a nation are doing little if anything about it.
The creeping evil which is spreading through this country is the stealthy corruption of our national moral fibre, brought about by the steady and systemic failure of individuals, and of the institutions of which they are part, to correctly use their free choice to do what is right, in situations where decisions of right and wrong are involved.
Our national institutions and the structures of our society are rotting from the top down, and We, the People, are doing nothing to stop it. Government, Industry, organised religion, the establishments of Education, non-Governmental organisations, international bodies, and even some sporting and cultural structures, are affected by this malaise.
I am not referring to any moral conundrum of the type decried from the pulpit, or railed against by evangelists. I am talking about the simple departure from the unspoken acceptance of the requirement – the duty, even – of every person, to speak the truth, keep their word, and do the right thing, as they know it to be.
From the highest levels of Government we see this spreading darkness. Cabinet Ministers, a Prime Minister even, caught lying, and worse; double dipping, drink-driving, falsifying tax returns, falsifying election expenses, forgery, cheating on housing expenses, and advocating sodomy with beer bottles, amongst other things.
Yet rather than resign immediately from the nation’s Parliament, these individuals attempt to justify their actions, and worse still, they receive a measure of outward support from their parties and superiors in this attempted justification.
These actions do not go unnoticed in society, and they set an example more powerful than a thousand policy speeches could ever hope to achieve. And we allow this evil to prevail, by doing nothing about it.
The same Government uses its Parliamentary majority – which is not a numerical majority of the electorate, and can in no way be regarded as a mandate – to railroad through social engineering policies such as the Civil Unions Bill, the disbandment of the Air Force, and the ban on smoking in pubs; changes for which there is no public desire, and much disquiet and contention. In any previous generation, Government and its individual members would have felt duty-bound to respond, and to acquiesce, to the wishes of the silent majority of the population; today, they do whatever they please, simply because they know they can. When and why did this change come about, and why do we, the people, permit it?
Other shifts are taking place in the corridors of power. Restructuring of the public sector, driven by dogma and ideology, has seen the departure of the cream of a once-proud Civil Service; an institution steeped in tradition, apolitical, dedicated to the nation, and whose members were considered incorruptible, now replaced by a corporate structure driven by the profit motive.
We the People have supported this change, by not preventing it at the ballot box.
The Chief of our Defence Forces, previously chosen by peer review - in line with two hundred years of British tradition - may now be a political appointment. This insidious change removes us from the process followed by the likes of Britain, Canada, Australia, and the United States, and into the company of such nations as Chile, Argentina, Zimbabwe and Indonesia. The traditional, apolitical, allegiance of the military – and indeed the Police – to the Sovereign, and thereby the nation, is now within the grasp of the Government of the Day. And We the People have likewise failed to prevent it.
Alongside this degeneration of Governmental standards of behaviour, has been a parallel faltering on the part of Big Business and mainstream religion.
From the scams of Mr Asia, and the speculators of the ’87 crash, to the Winebox and the parasites of privatisation, New Zealand business has fled from the age-old ethics of established industry like rats leaving a sinking ship; and once again, in our united silence, we ordinary New Zealanders have failed to stop it from happening.
And scarcely a day goes by without yet another report of sexual abuse against young people in the care of one religious order or another. With every one of these attacks against the very fabric of the decent society, we are seeing an erosion of the time-honoured and respectful way in which our nation was built, and with it, the loss of more and more of what we once liked to call “Family Values”.
Family Values....we all grew up under them, so did our parents and grandparents. Where are they now? Why is our generation failing those who will come after us, those for whom we are responsible? What’s changed? In part, I would guess, increased communication, via TV, the internet, and so on, has revealed to more and more people the previously hidden truth of the increasingly corrupt nature of national governments and big business. And people do follow examples.
Partly, also, it is the deliberately anti-family activities, of deliberately anti-family organisations such as the United Nations, in corrupting the new generation into thinking that the family is bad, and should be replaced by some international institution.
And just for the record, I do happen to think that there is a Great Conspiracy, and I do happen to think that the UN is pure evil supported only by utter fools, and is an integral part of it.
Partly, also, endemic corruption within the established churches, who are supposed to provide some sort of ethical guy rope to society, is more and more being exposed by the same increased communication as has illuminated Government and business.
In the past, though such corruption has almost always been present, it has also been hidden, and people have had more of a motivation to follow the example held up before them, rather than the unseen truth of the institution promoting it. Partly, the cult of self; the relentless march of self-gratification allowed by advancing technology, and promoted by the profit motive of capitalism. But mostly, I think, it has come about through the abrogation of responsibility. There was a time when a man’s word was his bond, when a deal was set in stone with a handshake. People had honour then.
Now, we have lawyers and contracts and lawsuits and countersuits. Why? Young men will not take responsibility for the children they have fathered. Why not? Because society allows them to abrogate that responsibility, by setting them the example that there is a way out, just as there is a way out of a contract, and a way out of honouring your word. Mankind - western civilisation if you prefer - has become decadent and corrupt, and we are in danger of going to hell in a handcart, just as many societies have done before us. If there is a way to stop this, and it may not be too late, then I believe it will not come from Governments, or any of the “established” Churches, or Corporations, or International Organisations, or any other corrupted institution. It will come from the hearts and minds of individuals; ordinary decent people who want the best for the generations who are to follow us.
The politicisation of education, the march of political correctness, the unrequested and downright dangerous pacification of a nation and its new generation, and the tacit approval of a host of other sins through the complicity of non-action, is the responsibility of every ordinary New Zealander. We must not rest in silence while our nation is stolen from around us. We owe it to our forebears, and to the generations who will follow, to claim responsibility for the nation which has been forged in our name, and to refill the moral vacuum which has been created through our collective inaction in the face of an insidious evil.
Take responsibility for your word, thought, and action, in your own life; if we all do this, it must follow, that the direction of mankind and his societies will do the same.
I believe in capitalism, I support the profit motive, I welcome technology. But I believe also that we have a greater responsibility; that sometimes we must put our personal interests as secondary to those of the people who depend on us, our children and families.
We all know right from wrong; we must all make the personal choice to do the right, and take responsibility for that, even when it involves suffering or going without.
We must regain the lost legacy of our immediate ancestral past, and re-attain the moral fortitude to live with honour. And thus we may see the return of “Family Values”, and of the decent society, which currently appears to be inexplicably lost, in a fog of selfishness, shallowness, and cynical legalese. Perhaps this will not be such
a bad thing.