Martin Cohen: New York Times has vested interest in climate alarmism

Posted: December 24, 2012 by tallbloke in alarmism, Blog, climate, media, Robber Barons

From the ‘Oh! the irony! dept. Guest poster Martin Cohen blows the lid off NYT alarmism. Their major investors profit from their climate doomstering. I’m old fashoined and I just call this sort of thing by its old fashioned name: corruption. It seems ‘big oil’ prefers to do business with big selling papers rather than sceptical climate scientists and bloggers. You’ll see the mainstream media and warmist ranters averting their gaze from this story.

cohen-header
Investors in the Times milk the Profits of Doom

Posted by Martin Cohen, December 2012

One of the mysteries about the New York Times is why a paper so dedicated to accuracy and objectivity has for many years thrown all pretence of ‘reporting’ to the winds in its efforts to stop global warming.

The Times regularly claims that:

*melting Arctic Ice will cause sea levels to rise (drowning New York) – even though this is ruled out by the laws of physics (as ice displaces more water than it releases when melted)1;

*carbon dioxide is the major component in the Earth’s Greenhouse Effect (whereas by far and away the most important element is water vapour, and CO2 is responsible for a mere 20% of the effect) 2

* and that ‘the science is settled’, whereas only the NYT view is. (In fact the science is not only not settled but is unlikely ever to be as climate is fiendishly complicated and key elements are logically impossible to settle, involving non-linear relationships not amenable to prediction.)

At one level, it seems to be a kind of misguided environmental evangelism. But, it is ‘improper’, at the very least, to find that this paragon of ethical reporting has for years been propped up by businesses with a vested interest in promoting concern about carbon dioxide induced Climae Change. But then again, at another level, behind its lofty rhetoric, the NYT has always been a business, run for profit. That’s why, during the Second World War, with newsprint rationed, it increased the proportion of advertising to news, rather than vice versa. And if business interests drive its news policy, that might explain why in recent years, it has been very much focussed on serving an energy agenda that fits very well the needs of its shareholders, notably two of its biggest investors, the hedge funds Harbinger and T Rowe Price.

But first, let’s remind ourselves of how longstanding and deep the paper’s infatuation with Climate Change is. Flashback to 1988 and the Gray Lady is sermonizing on ‘Spring in the Greenhouse’.

‘Easter commemorates resurrection, Passover deliverance. With ancient roots in the spring equinox, both rites serve to mark the renewal of nature’s cycle. As is becoming slowly evident, that cycle is too easy to take for granted.’ (April 03, 1988)

This is Philip Shabecoff writing, chief environmental correspondent for The New York Times for fourteen of the thirty-two years he worked there. Does he sound like a hardnosed journo – or a man whose neutrality would be compromised by personal ideology? Clue perhaps, is that on leaving the Times, he founded and published Greenwire, an online daily digest of environmental news. Here, his personal position is broadcast loud and clear:

‘The mission of environmentalism is to mobilize society at all levels to confront the danger and disorder into which human activity has propelled us and guide us to a safer, saner way of living on the planet…. It is about alternatives, about changing course, about transforming the future.’

- Philip Shabecoff, from his website, Earth Rising

Now I like a lot of Shabecoff’s rhetoric too – I think there are too many chemicals in the environment and they probably do add to cancer. But when I want the facts about an issue, let alone an environmental issue I wouldn’t let a fanatical campaigner do the research. Unfortunately the New York Times doesn’t see things the same way.

Instead, Green rhetoric is given a newsy gloss and offered as investigative reporting. Thus, three weeks after ruminating on ‘Spring in the Greenhouse’ Shabecoff was trying to create the sense of superpowers working together to stop Armageddon by filing this exclusive:

‘Scientists in the United States and the Soviet Union, linked through desk top computers, have begun a conference on what the two nations can do to cope with an expected global warming caused by the ‘greenhouse effect,’ (April 26, 1988 )

The late Flora Lewis (wife of Times editor Sydney Gruson), whose column was once described as the ‘most boring regular column in the history of journalism’, confirmed that the comparison wasn’t just a duff bit of writing but part of a deadly serious NYT campaign. In a leader article, she sets out what would be the line for years to come:

‘The cold war isn’t over. But even as the political climate is warming, so is the world’s physical climate. There are many signs that the next general international crisis is going to be about the environment. It can become as abrasive, dangerous and costly as the arms race.’ (July 27, 1988.)

Shabecoff and Lewis have gone. But Matthew L. Wald is still there. ‘Elevated levels of carbon dioxide are thought to be responsible for half the greenhouse effect’, he wrote 25 years ago. He writes the same sort of stuff now.

But much of it is just not correct. Take that oft-repeated line about CO2. In actual fact, ALL the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is thought to contribute a rather modest 20% or so to the Greenhouse effect. There is some debate (which I don’t pretend to have an opinion on) as to whether the present levels of CO2 already trap all the heat radiation possible for the gas to, or whether increased levels will trap more, but if we took the simple minded assumption that, by doubling the atmospheric levels of CO2, we humans had doubled the heat trapping effect, we would still come nowhere near the NYT’s claimed consequences. 3

Matthew Wald has written at least 5 000 stories for the NYT on environmental matters, since he started there in 1974. He holds a B.A. in urban studies from Brown University, and a certificate in auto mechanics from the Providence Vocational Technical Facility. He is, I am sure, a nice chap, but not a reliable authority on Climate Change.

The NYT however, thinks its correspondents are. 4 That’s why, in recent months, Justin Gillis has been going well beyond even the most pessimistic claims of the United Nations’ own ‘expert’ panel, the IPCC, to foresee sea levels rising by ‘perhaps three feet by 2100 — an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over’ – even though the IPCC gives only a projected rise of between 20 and 60 cm.5 As Anthony Watts, a prominent climate skeptic, says, converting cm to feet is not so tricky, and it is certainly not possible to get ‘three feet’ out of the IPCC estimates, far less six feet. 6

A minor discrepancy. Because later in the article, Gillis goes further still, saying that ‘the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia.’

On December 2nd, in another Gillis piece, ‘Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Record High, Worries on How to Slow Warming'(2012/12/03) timed to guide the debate in ongoing climate treaty talks at Doha, Qatar, the NYT was able to repeat the same errors (and a few more). Starting with:

‘The level of carbon dioxide, the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere…’

Now you can redefine ‘heat trapping gases’ if you like to not include water vapour, which is in fact what the IPCC tend to do, but in so doing, you cease to describe the world’s weather systems. Either as clouds or as invisible vapour, water may block the sun, causing cooling, and at night they may block heat being reflected back into space, causing warming. Either way, water vapour decides most of the day’s temperature, and most of the longer term trends too. But back to the article. What was that point about CO2 again? That it:

‘ …has increased about 41 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and scientists fear it could double or triple before emissions are brought under control.’

About 41%? That’s a pretty precise figure for a pretty vague concept. Bear in mind that carbon dioxide levels vary depending on where you measure them – at what time of day, in what season, at what height, near which vegetation, on ocean temperatures and currents… and I don’t suppose the benchmark figures for 250 years ago are much better either.

Another spuriously precise claim trotted out is that ‘The temperature of the planet has already increased about 1.5 degrees since 1850.’ This is a change from the usual one about the 20th century. The thing that is journalistically dodgy here is that any figure can be picked out of a hat depending on the start and finish dates. If you pick the years 1940 and 1975, for example, the IPCC itself allows there was a slight cooling trend, which explains why in the seventies the science journalists were being paid to worry about ‘global cooling’. On the other hand, the ‘warming’ claimed for the full 150 year period mainly took place in just thirty years, between 1910 and 1940. The reality is that there is no global record of temperatures worth the name, certainly not prior to arrival of satellites, and even now temperature statistics are much contested – and with good reason.

The NYT is wrong on the details, and wrong on the generalities too. It is confusing scare-mongering that may be good for political campaigns with objective reporting – let alone ‘science’. Instead, passages like this fall from the Gray Lady’s lips like pearls before swine.

‘Further increases in carbon dioxide are likely to have a profound effect on climate, scientists say, leading to higher seas and greater coastal flooding, more intense weather disasters like droughts and heat waves, and an extreme acidification of the ocean. Many experts believe the effects are already being seen, but they are projected to worsen.’

So if the reporting is so bad, now come no one is stopping it? Yet the falling standards just might be serving a function for the paper.

It’s well known that the NYT is ‘family owned’ – by the Arthur Sulzburger family. The family have a controlling interest and also own 20 percent of the Class A shares. It is less often noted, and certainly not at the bottom of the NYT’s scary pieces, that the paper has received significant investments from hedge funds with financial interests in the raising of the political profile of climate change science. From late 2007 and up to the time of the ‘peak’ in media coverage of the issue, late in 2010, the second largest Class A shareholder in the New York Times was Harbinger Capital Partners, a hedge fund run by Philip Falcone, with around 20 per cent, and the third-largest Class A shareholder was T. Rowe Price, with 10 percent. (Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecommunications billionaire came next, with 7 percent.) [9] 7 In November 2010 the fund significantly downsized its investment in the New York Times Company, to 2.6%, selling the shares for barely half of what it had originally paid.

In terms of conventional dividends, the Times was a poor choice for Falcone. However, Harbinger have energy interests that cannot have been harmed by a steady trickle of propaganda for raising the costs of energy. For example, in November 2012, Harbinger Group Inc. established an Energy Operating Business Joint Venture with EXCO Resources to create a private oil and gas limited partnership to purchase and operate EXCO’s U.S. oil and gas assets, for a total consideration of $725 million. Although foolish talk (including in the Times) of oil money funding ‘denial’ of Climate Change confuses many people, in fact oil companies (who also invariably own and exploit gas reserves) are one of the big winners of the political push to put up the price of energy by imposing a carbon levy.

As for T Rowe Price, this fund (a long-standing investor in the Times) has important interests in biofuels, a sector whose growth is closely linked to mandatory targets for blending biofuels into ‘real fuels’ – all of course part of saving the planet from climate change. According to Seeking Alpha, as of January 2012, T Row Price had a tidy $330 billion invested in biofuels. The Times shares its interest, regularly running stories looking forward to the Brave New World of biofuels. Matthew Wald again:

‘Turning algae into fuel or other chemicals that are now made from oil could have commercial benefits when oil prices are high. But it could also make financial sense in countries that have put a price on carbon dioxide emissions to combat global warming, since the algae consume the carbon and reuse it in their product.’

(‘Another Path to Biofuels’, November 23, 2012 8

Not mentioned is that shareholder link. Nor even that biofuels are a very inefficient form of energy. They require large amounts of conventional energy to produce, have significantly put up the price of basic foodstuffs for the world’s poorest people and the end result (stuff that comes out of car tailpipes) is believed to be a major source of cancer in the developed world.

Arthur Sulzburger is famous for crafting ‘mission statements’ for the newspaper and the company: ‘We have it written down and we carry it with us,’ he told Charlie Rose in 2001, according to a Vanity Fair retrospective on the Times owner a few years ago 9 which added: ‘He handed over the mission statements on-camera with a flourish, and when asked later about his proudest achievement came back to this “defining vision of what we are and where we have to go”.’

It is easy to think that ‘saving the planet’ is Sulzburger and the Times’ self-appointed mission, and that in its zeal, journalistic standards have slipped. But that might be too generous an interpretation. There does not need to have been any direct mechanism for business structures to subtly, and not so subtly, influence employees.


Notes and links
Comments
  1. Gail Combs says:

    I have done similar studies for other news sources. Follow the Money yields banker/energy company interests almost every time.

    Here is one of the big players – NBCUniversal – and the interlocking influence.

    GE’s stake in CAGW

    Enron, joined by BP, invented the global warming industry. I know because I was in the room.
    …The basic truth is that Enron, joined by other “rent-seeking” industries — making one’s fortune from policy favors from buddies in government, the cultivation of whom was a key business strategy — cobbled their business plan around “global warming.” Enron bought, on the cheap of course, the world’s largest windmill company (now GE Wind) and the world’s second-largest solar panel interest (now BP) to join Enron’s natural gas pipeline network, which was the second largest in the world….

    Now on to control of the media

    U.S. Congressional Record February 9, 1917, page 2947
    In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, ship building and powder interests and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press in the United States.

    “These 12 men worked the problems out by selecting 179 newspapers, and then began, by an elimination process, to retain only those necessary for the purpose of controlling the general policy of the daily press throughout the country….

    JP Morgan: Our next big media player?
    If U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey today approves Tribune Co.’s reorganization plan, enabling it to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, New York-based banking giant JP Morgan Chase will become a significant media player, owning more television stations than any major network and becoming America’s second largest newspaper publisher….

    Judge OKs Tribune reorganization plan
    …Sources said the members of new ownership group, which also includes distressed-debt investor Angelo, Gordon & Co. and lender JPMorgan Chase & Co., are still mulling candidates for board seats and for chief executive….

    Comcast and GE Complete Transaction to Form NBCUniversal
    Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA; CMCSK) and General Electric (NYSE: GE) yesterday closed their transaction to create a joint venture… The new company is 51 percent owned by Comcast, 49 percent owned by GE,… J.P. Morgan was lead financial advisor to GE with Goldman Sachs and Citi acting as co-advisors….

    Press Release: Comcast and GE to Create Leading Entertainment Company
    …. NBCU has obtained $9.85 billion of committed financing through a consortium of banks led by J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BofA Merrill Lynch and Citi….

    Stephen B. Burke is Comcast Corporation President

    …Before joining Comcast, Mr. Burke served with The Walt Disney Company as President of ABC Broadcasting…. Mr. Burke serves on the Board of Directors for Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co….

    http://www.comcast.com/nbcutransaction/pdfs/Bios%202.13.10.pdf

    Then there is GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. Obama appointed General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt as chair of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The new council replaces the Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

    Change Looks Quite Familiar
    …“You would have difficulty finding a company that has outsourced more jobs and closed more American factories than GE,” Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing writes. “While they have slashed their American workforce to fewer than 150,000, GE has dramatically expanded its global presence, now employing over 300,000 workers worldwide.”

    Jeff Immelt has made it plan his loyalties are not with the USA.

    India is exciting for American businessmen today: Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman & CEO, GE
    ET Now caught up with Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman & CEO, GE, for his views on a number of issues, including the significance of 200 American CEOs landing on Indian soil, outsourcing and GE’s plans for India….
    I am a globalist. So I am a big believer that basically it is a win-win game of global trade. But strategically for the United States, a great relationship with India is a real prerequisite and very important and I believe the President sees it the same way…. America Inc, have been good partners to global business leaders for generations…. We know how to make money in India for our investors, but we are also a good citizen. We know how to make money for India by investing in the people and the resources….

    [Reply] Excellent comment, not sure why it went to spam, maybe too many links.

  2. Gail Combs says:

    test

  3. Arfur Bryant says:

    ["...(whereas by far and away the most important element is water vapour, and CO2 is responsible for a mere 20% of the effect)"]

    Whooah upp, Hoss… Where did a ‘mere 20%’ come from? Models? :)

    ps Season’s greetings to Rog, the mods, and all contributors on this site…

    Arfur

  4. Roger Clague says:

    Mr. Cohen argues convincingly that that the New York Times newspaper’s reporting of climate change science is influenced by the financial interests of major shareholders.

    You point out that bio-fuels are inefficient and increase food prices. However you go on say their by-products are ‘believed to be a major source of cancer’.

    This speculation is unnecessary and distracts from the sufficiently damning facts.

  5. Gail Combs says:

    Then there is Biofuels (in the USA)

    Biofuel starvation wasn’t “unforeseen consequences”

    The U.S. corn crop, accounting for 40 percent of the global harvest and supplying nearly 70 percent of the world’s corn imports…

    Congress required that biofuel use increase five times…

    wheat prices have tripled, corn prices doubled and rice prices nearly doubled…

    …. there were real warnings about possible starvation as a consequence of the law Sarasohn refers to [the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 ].

    The possible consequences were clearly communicated in a Senate briefing a week before initial passage of the Senate bill and 6 months before final approval of the final House-Senate bill.

    Here’s a bit from a June 13, 2007 Senate briefing given by Lester Brown from the Earth Policy Institute:

    The U.S. corn crop, accounting for 40 percent of the global harvest and supplying nearly 70 percent of the world’s corn imports, looms large in the world food economy. Annual U.S. corn exports of some 55 million tons account for nearly one fourth of world grain exports. The corn harvest of Iowa alone exceeds the entire grain harvest of Canada. Substantially reducing this export flow would send shock waves throughout the world economy.

    In six of the last seven years, total world grain production has fallen short of use. As a result, world carryover stocks of grain have been drawn down to 57 days of consumption, the lowest level in 34 years. (See Data.)

    To add insult to injury Congress did not even see if biofuel actually saves on the use of oil. It does not! David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell found it takes more fossil fuel to produce biofuel than is recovered:
    * corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
    * switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
    * wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.
    * soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and
    * sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

    WHO PROFITS?

    Food shortfalls predicted: 2008
    The agricultural sector was one of the areas we found most attractive in 2007. We expect that will remain the case. Long term global price and demand trends remain positive…

    In summary, we have record low grain inventories globally as we move into a new crop year. We have demand growing strongly. Which means that going forward even small crop failures are going to drive grain prices to record levels. As an investor, we continue to find these long term trends…very attractive.

    http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/dancy/2008/0104.html

    How Goldman gambled on starvation

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-goldman-gambled-on-starvation-2016088.html

    This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn’t afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown…..

    ———-

    Being Like Soros in Buying Farmland Reaps Annual Gains of 16%

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-10/being-like-soros-in-buying-farm-land-lets-investors-reap-16-annual-gains.html

    [US] Farmland reaps high investment returns

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/19/us-column-yourmoney-farmland-investment-idUSBRE82I0SZ20120319

    Credit Suisse: The Hunt for Land Has Already Started

    https://infocus.credit-suisse.com/app/article/index.cfm?fuseaction=OpenArticle&aoid=284894&coid=162&lang=EN

    Rothschild cashes in by Investing in Farmland

    http://davidgarnerconsulting.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/rothschild-cashes-in-by-investing-in-farmland/

    ———-

    Archer Daniels Midland Co (who capitalized on ethanol manufacture)
    Starvation, Obesity, and Corporate Welfare: Archer Daniels Midland and U.S. Policy

    http://www.emergingmarketsoutlook.com/?p=1469

    ADM’s Largess Preserved Ethanol Break, Study Says
    Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), the single largest beneficiary of a controversial federal ethanol tax subsidy, contributed more than $3 million in unregulated “soft money” to Republican and Democratic national party committees during the past 10 years

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/keyraces98/stories/keycash061198.htm

    So You Want to Buy a President?

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/president/players/andreas.html

    Ethanol: The latest Incarnation of Snake Oil

    http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Biofuels/Ethanol-The-Latest-Incarnation-Of-Snake-Oil.html

    Analysis: U.S. bankers say, love or hate it, ethanol here to stay

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/05/us-usa-ethanol-farmbankers-idINBRE88413O20120905

    ADM profits soar 550 percent as ethanol margins improve

    http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2010/08/04/adm-profits-soar-550-percent-as-ethanol-margins-improve/

    Cargill (Privately held Grain Trader)
    Record profits for Cargill

    http://www.familybusinessmagazine.com/index.php?/news/single/record_profits_for_cargill/

    Monsanto

    New report shatters GE crop myths
    The study carried out by the UK Soil Association, shatters industry myths that GE crops produce higher yields, reduce herbicide use and benefit the economy. Included in the report is the revelation that between 1999 and 2001, GE crops actually cost the US economy up to US $12 billion dollars.

    http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/media_seedsofdoubt.asp

    Monsanto (85% held by mutual funds)
    Monsanto Extortion Letter

    http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Monsanto-Extortion-Letter12nov98.htm

    2012: Monsanto posts record $8.6B in sales

    http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2007/10/08/daily35.html

    2012: Monsanto posts record second quarter, sales jump 15 percent

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/04/us-monsanto-results-idUSBRE8330JI20120404

    2012: Monsanto 3Q profit soars, maintains year view

    http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/monsanto-q-profit-soars-maintains-year-view/article_9cf34af6-c053-11e1-bf24-0019bb30f31a.html

    Food fight: The business of biotechnology

    http://themolokainews.com/food-fight/food-fight-the-business-of-biotechnology/

    —–

    Finally your buddies at the New York Times

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/world/europe/13iht-letter13.html?pagewanted=all

  6. Martin Cohen says:

    Some great comments here on the ‘connoisseurs’ climate blog… Yes, Gail. I especially liked that historical one on the US media scene. There’s copper-bottomed proof (CIA public release documents) that the CIA also has staff on the key papers ‘liaising’ and providing the papers with the appropriate information…

    Those figures on how much fossil fuel is required to produce biofuel are great too. although ‘I think’ they have to be taken with a large pinch of salt. My own research shows that it is very hard to calculating this sort of thing… but what I think we can say is that biofuels make no contribution to reducing ‘carbon emissions’.

    Arfur – the 20%? I was using the figure the NASA alarmists et al have settled on – see also the New Scientist on this. As no one claims more than them, it seemed to be enough to show that the ‘most of’ and ‘50%’ figures regularly offered by the New York Times (like the Guardian) are journalistically indefensible. Of course they do defend them! The Guardian’s reader’s editor, we might recall, ruled that the paper was entitled to repeat figures that were ‘generally used’ – inaccurate or not!

    Roger, the point about biofuels causing cancer is not just empty speculation – sorry if it came across that way! I didn’t want to go off on a long digression in the piece. For example, the World Health Organisation is very clear about the linkage between diesel fuel and cancer. Quoting momentarily for a blog I did on this theme for James Delingpole at teh Telegraph (which I regret because really the bloke is a nutter)  ironically, research on this is based in Lyon, France, and France is one of the most enthusiastic architects of diselization. Sure enough, today France has some 65% of its private car and light vehicle road fleet, of about 39 million vehicles, operating on diesel fuel and more than 75% of new cars sold in France are diesel models. Such a pity then if the fumes are deadly –  and that it is now accepted by the government’s own adivisors that approximately 43 000 French persons die each year from cancers linked with diesel fuel….

    … Mad or evil or just ‘business as usual’?

  7. Martin Cohen says:

    ps. Gail, re. the NYT, Matthew Wald offers plenty of plugs for biofuels in his ceaseless search for carbon savings…

    “Turning algae into fuel or other chemicals that are now made from oil could have commercial benefits when oil prices are high. But it could also make financial sense in countries that have put a price on carbon dioxide emissions to combat global warming, since the algae consume the carbon and reuse it in their product.”

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/another-path-to-biofuels-two-actually/

    But we should note the paper has its dissenting voices. This ‘Energy & Environment’ topic piece from 2011 is actually a bit of a horror story on the topic of US biofuels…

    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/energy-environment/biofuels/index.html

    Hey, Now I must climb down the chimney!

  8. Gail Combs says:

    Martin Cohen says:
    December 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    ….Those figures on how much fossil fuel is required to produce biofuel are great too. although ‘I think’ they have to be taken with a large pinch of salt….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Any of those figures are completely ballpark. They have to be. They would cover the range from an Amish farmer using horses, child labor, manure and saved seeds to a 9R/9RT Series John Deere, with matching equipment, GMO seed, irrigation, fertilizer, lime, pesticides, herbicides and if the farmer has brains a winter cover crop like white clover. Heck just the distance you have to drive to and from a good farm store and tractor repair place is going to make a difference. For me on the east coast of the USA it is 80 miles round trip. You get into some parts of Texas it is 200 to 300 miles.

    That is why the numbers are so contentious. Are you comparing industrial farming to organic farming? East Coast to mid west to Texas. The numbers will change and we know how ‘scientists’ can then twist them to suit.

    The other problem is the damage done to the soil. Corn is pretty much the crop of choice and corn is a “Big Feeder,” it wears out the soil. The focus on corn/biofuel means crops are not as likely to get rotated especially since a lot of the farm land is leased or owned by guys like Soros or Rothschild who are in it as a big money maker and don’t care whether they ruin the soil. My farm was leased tobacco. In less than 50 years the entire meter of topsoil was lost due to poor farming practices. In 15 years I have managed to add 6 – 10 cm of topsoil. Now someone wants to lease my farm for biofuel crops….

  9. tchannon says:

    Martin, I’m afraid I only partially agree with you, same with Gail. There are traps in excesses but I don’t want to get into argument.

    A broad sentiment that something is very wrong with organisations which have agendas outside of face value is where we will agree.

    Gail, as an example, sure you want to cite The Soil Association?

    I notice an excess on many things “cause” cancer but I point out that many of those either have no reasonable evidence or are too trivial to worry about. WHO are no arbiter unfortunately.

    Medical is very like climatic in being jam packed with egos and nonsense. Often, where are the bodies? Or double accounting, etc.
    The simple message abounds and is wrong. X causes Y, is far far more complex possibly to the extent of no-one knows.

    A classic is might do something to X at extreme doses therefore is harmful to Y. No sensible evidence is found of Y being harmed but no-one honestly looks, unethical. I seem to recall coming across amusing instances but none come to mind.

    A problem here is the so called precautionary principle… which is utterly abused, not applied properly. This is endemic. Applied correctly it collapses into good old fashioned common sense, there is only a balance, which includes disallowing death by freezing. PP _must_ be applied to PP, recursively. I suggest the correct goal is maximising life. (spins off into constraints stuff)

    Yup, ban leasing, get back to old fashioned own. This is a large part of the mess which has gotten far worse over the past 30+ years. How though can big be broken? No-one has found a way yet.

  10. Gail Combs says:

    tchannon says:
    December 25, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Martin, I’m afraid I only partially agree with you, same with Gail. There are traps in excesses but I don’t want to get into argument.

    A broad sentiment that something is very wrong with organizations which have agendas outside of face value is where we will agree.

    Gail, as an example, sure you want to cite The Soil Association?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The Soil Association is UK I am in the USA. This is the first I heard of it. (I am not a member of any Assoc. BTW)

    As far as “something is very wrong with organizations which have agendas outside of face value”, I certainly will agree to that.

    You might want to read a very well researched essay on the history of US farming/organizational agendas since WWII. http://www.opednews.com/articles/History-HACCP-and-the-Foo-by-Nicole-Johnson-090906-229.html

    Using farming, the essay, very nicely illustrates how a group, the Committee on Economic Development, can come up with a long term agenda, – to steal the farm land from American farmers and turn them into dependent landless factory workers – and then carry it out over several decades with the US government, the USDA, the media and academia as their tools. What we see now is the culmination of that long term plan. When you look at it correctly Agenda 21 is just a reinvention of the Company Town or the Feudal Estate only they are crafty enough to mask their intentions behind ‘socialism’ or ‘environmentalism’ or ‘global warming’ or ‘Rewilding’ or what ever else they can get you to buy into.

    With that essay as a background everything else all of a sudden makes sense.

    ‘ The Socialist Revolution in the US cannot take place because there are too many small independent farmers there. Those people are the stability factor. We here in Russia must hurry while our government is stupid enough to not encourage and support the independent farmership.’ V. Lenin, the founder of the Russian revolution

    Quote provided by Anna Fisher

  11. tchannon says:

    Too long for me to read properly, the gist is obvious.

    The situation in the US is outside of my knowledge. In the UK and the EU I doubt anything as extreme is going to happen, an advantage is multiple real countries. To some degree there has to be mass market given the sheer volume.

    In a way I find it surprising the US could go to extremes given your actual written constitution and separated States. The people being what they are many will route around the damage even if there is a mass market core.

  12. Martin Cohen says:

    Mmmm… I never come across that Lenin quote before.Cf Maoism… Food for thought!

    Just on the biofuels aspects. honestly, it is more than most ‘cancer scares’ . It has long been accepted that the particulates in diesel exhaust are dangerous, but exactly how dangerous has been the ‘only’ question. We could say the same thing with tobacco smoke and chocolate biscuits too, I guess. However, the French government estimate is produced by experts with an interest in minimising the dangers, so if they are coming up with figures like this, we have a really cynical policy on biofuels – ie. increasing use by multiples.

    But I would like to restate the main argument of the post, which is that the NYT (like the Guardian, Le Monde) is pushing the ‘we must act to stop carbon emissions’ policy as the moral high-ground. Hence we have cranks like Professor Parncutt weighing in…

    Rather than swap claims about the facts, we could well challenge the huge vested interests behind AGW. Recall that Prof P’s first essay states flatly that no one makes any money from fighting Climate Change!

    Strip away the hypocrisy, then the ‘facts’ will emerge…

  13. Arfur Bryant says:

    Martin,

    Re the 20%…

    ["Arfur – the 20%? I was using the figure the NASA alarmists et al have settled on – see also the New Scientist on this. As no one claims more than them, it seemed to be enough to show that the ‘most of’ and ’50%’ figures regularly offered by the New York Times (like the Guardian) are journalistically indefensible. Of course they do defend them! The Guardian’s reader’s editor, we might recall, ruled that the paper was entitled to repeat figures that were ‘generally used’ – inaccurate or not!"]

    Thanks for the explanation. Ok, there are people who claim more than 20%. Gavin Schmidt along with K&T claim 26% (dry atmosphere). scienceofdoom mentions it on his site but doesn’t want to discuss it (I’ve just found out the reference on his own site in spite of him not wanting to confirm his view) and Lacis agrees with NASA at 20% for CO2 with another 5% for the other nGHGs. The IPCC mentions 26% as well.

    What they all don’t want to talk about is the massive anomaly that those percentages give rise to: 25% of 33C (GHE) is a whopping 8.25C, and yet they will state that a doubling of CO2 will warm the atmosphere by 3C. Currently, the warming from a 40% increase in CO2 is ‘an unknown portion’ of 0.9C – and could be practically zero! So the figures bear no comparison with reality, but you know that…

    20% is, demonstrably, way too large and any papers quoting it are quoting from model outputs, not observed data.

    So you are right that the figures are journalistically indefensible! When you see these figures, they need to be vigorously questioned (IMO)!

    Happy Christmas :)

  14. Al Gore credits US anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan with finding the 1991 coal association memo that had its top strategy statement saying “Reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”. Gore quoted that memo in his 2010 book, altering it just a bit ( http://media.ourchoicethebook.com/site_media/images/spreads/large/ch16_3.jpg ), and he spelled it out fullscreen in his 2006 movie, insinuating the memo was all the evidence anyone needed to hear about as proof that skeptic climate scientists were corrupted by fossil fuel industry money.

    But Matt Wald quoted that phrase in his July 8, 1991 NYT article ( http://www.nytimes.com/1991/07/08/business/pro-coal-ad-campaign-disputes-warming-idea.html?pagewanted=all ) … which Gelbspan never specifically credits. In a chapter Naomi Oreskes wrote for the 2011 “How Well Do Facts Travel?” book, she referred to other details directly relating to these same coal memos while referencing to Phil Shabecoff’s June 19, 1991 “Inside Track: Sowing the Seeds of Doubt in the Greenhouse” Greenwire article. That reference prompts me to speculate Shabecoff may have cited the same coal memo phrase in his piece. But I need to find a copy of that Greenwire article. Considering that Shabecoff had quit from the NYT just months earlier in the spring of 1991 in order to from Greenwire, it is not too much of a stretch to guess that he had some kind of ties with Matt Wald, perhaps at least by feeding his Greenwire piece to Wald.

    There’s a LOT more to this one little episode, with ever wider trouble surrounding how Oreskes was told about those coal memos.

  15. Brian H says:

    To step back a moment to the meta-economic picture, consider the enduring puzzle: why does Big Oil so preferentially fund pro-CAGW research (in total contradiction to the naive Warmist accusations of funding sceptical science and commentary)?

    I posit that it makes sense on both the immediate rent-seeking scale and on the longer term. Short-term, the goodies, grants, and give-aways by governments favour those who toe the line and chant the mantra. This is not likely to much impact the bottom line right away, but at least fends off any punitive tax and regulation pushing. Then let us assume that far from wanting just to be part of the new Green Wave and transforming itself, Big Oil knows full well that greenscare climate science is bunkum, and further that renewables energy is a money pit that cannot be filled and will never compete with fossil fuel-powered economics, or even break even.

    At some point, raw economics will prevail. Stein’s Law: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” And who will be left standing, ready to pick up the pieces? Big Oil and friends.

    It’s win-win.

  16. martin cohen says:

    Mmm. Thanks, Russell for this:

    “Considering that Shabecoff had quit from the NYT just months earlier in the spring of 1991 in order to from Greenwire, it is not too much of a stretch to guess that he had some kind of ties with Matt Wald, perhaps at least by feeding his Greenwire piece to Wald…. There’s a LOT more to this one little episode, with ever wider trouble surrounding how Oreskes was told about those coal memos.”

    I think there is a kind of lazy, journalistic mind-set, really. They DON’T check facts, and they DO rely on newsroom ‘commonsense’. So Shabecoff who seems to have been just as useless as most of those green ‘semi-factual’ types that contributed to the IPCC bits on the amazon rainforest drying out, or malaria ‘spreading’ to Europe, would certainly be enough for Matt.

    I might add I tried to interest the supposed informal ‘watchdog’ over the NYT, the New York Times Examiner site, http://www.nytx.com, in critiqueing Shabecoff, Wald et al, and their editor told me in no uncertain terms that the comate science was settled and they didn’t want to run any even tangentially skeptical pieces.

    That’s the same stuff from them – DON’T check facts, and they DO rely on newsroom ‘commonsense’.

    Write and tell them to wake up to the real world if you like!

  17. Roger Clague says:

    W.H.O. needs a diesel exhaust scare?

    Martin Cohen says ” the World Health Organisation ( W.H.O) is very clear about the linkage between diesel fuel and cancer.”

    Let us look at the evidence. In June 2012 The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation( W.H.O.) published this press release:

    press.iarc.fr/pr213_E.p

    It tells us that the IARC has “classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1 ) based on sufficient evidence that exposure is associated with an increased risk for lung cancer.”

    Sufficient evidence means “a positive relationship has been observed between the exposure and cancer in studies in which chance, bias and confounding could be ruled out with reasonable confidence.”

    The IARC decision was based on one study.

    http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/03/05/jnci.djs034.abstract

    There are many published accounts of technical faults with the study concerning the data and confounding variables. I will only describe the basic unscientific fault of ‘cherrypicking’ the results.

    The study emphasises a 26% increase in lung cancer for undergroud workers ( 87 micrograms/m3)and plays down a 33% increase for lightly exposed surface workers.( less than 2 micrograms/m3) ( Table 3)

    It also ignores that normal exposure( up to 10 micrograms/m3) underground reduces risk.( Fig. 1 and 2 )

    The study confirms previous work for example

    http://www.aioh.org.au/downloads/documents/PositionPapers/AIOH_DieselParticulatePositionPaper.pdf

    Which says “exposure at a mean concentration of 0.64 mg/m DP for a
    period of 45 years would result in a relative risk of 2.0 for lung cancer.”

    Note that mg is milligram. 1 milligram = 1000 micrograms

    Long exposure at very high levels is a risk. Normal exposure is protective.

    This is not surprising. We have evolved to cope with some smoke, that is respirable elemental carbon ( REC ). But an overload is a risk. Diesel exhaust in mines should be regulated but not streets.

    So cui bono and cui novo? Who benef from thisits and why now?

    This pronouncement aids greens, regulators and diesel engine and fuel suppliers in the West. Greens get a fossil fuel scare, regulators get more power, money and jobs. But how does business gain?

    The IARC say ” It is notable that many parts of the developing world lack regulatory standards, and data on the occurrence and impact of diesel exhaust are limited.”

    Diesel engine and fuel manufacturers in the West are heavily regulated. They fear competition from less regulated manufacturers in the East, especially in India and China.

    This is not about the health of the public or mineworkers. It is about protecting the manufacturers vested interests in the West. Just as the New York Times protects its.

    {mod: post strangeness edited out, paste went nuts –Tim]