Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour: Sock it to WWF

The Earth Hour campaign that began in Sydney in 2007  is organized by the World Wildlife Fund; now known as simply WWF with their panda logo unchanged. Since then, they have succeeded in making Earth Hour an annual ritual . And today's the night they expect us to turn off our lights for an hour.
The main logic behind Earth Hour is that if everyone could put in a little effort and participated by turning off their lights for one hour, they could help raise awareness of global warming or show world leaders that people care. But the hidden agenda is to use it as a fund-raising event. And boy the WWF has successfully exploited such an event to receive free publicity from every conceivable news-maker possible - actors, politicians, media, corporate giants and even Google to build up their image.
It’s such free publicity that enabled the WWF to raise $3.1 billion in just six years (2003-2008) or half a billion dollars a year on an average. This feat accords the WWF the status of one of the largest non-profit fundraiser in the world. But they are also the sleaziest one too. They project themselves as animal rights defenders and committed particularly to the protection of endangered species. Using this carefully crafted brand image, they milked the issue of declining population of polar bears to the last drop. WWF attributed this decline to global warming by arguing that it restricted polar bear hunting of seals through a lack of sea ice which they use as a platform to hunt.

Their hysterical campaigns are based on such arguments that however undermined the findings of their own research. According to the WWF, about 20 distinct polar bear populations exist, accounting for approximately 22,000 polar bears worldwide. As the figure shows, population patterns do not show a temperature-linked decline.
This is besides the reality that though polar bears are uniquely adapted to the Arctic region, they are not wedded solely to its coldest parts. Nor are they restricted to a specific seal diet. Their normal diet include a wide range of fish, kelp, caribou, ducks, sea birds and scavenging whale and walrus carcasses, though seals undoubtedly remain their favourite delicacy.
If Darwinian evolutionary theories are to be believed, polar bears were around hundreds and thousands of years before the advent of Homo Sapiens. That's us - the human race. If so, polar bears survived temperatures even higher than present - such as those experienced during the Medieval Warm Period or during the 1930s, where temperatures were comparable to the present. This makes polar bears' climate adaptability much higher as compared to humans.
There could be many threats to the future survival of the polar bear, but global warming is not primary among them. If at all their global populations dropped to 10,000 by the end of the 80s, it was because they were indiscriminately and mercilessly hunted by humans. Once polar bears were declared protected species, their population spiked to over 22,000 as of today. In Alaska, their population have increased to such a scale that the state government appealed their federal government to withdraw the protective status to polar bears, as they pose a danger to Alaskan citizens. But the worst damage WWF inflicted on themselves was not refuting Al Gore's propaganda of the polar bears unable to swim. Instead WWF went the extra mile to perpetuate this myth. The fact is that polar bears can marathon swim 100-200 kms.
However, the polar bear was not only the scam the marred the image of WWF since it was set up by Prince Bernhard from the Netherlands some 25 years ago. There have been many others that WWF was involved. Its 9/11 advertisement tried to convey that more people die from effects of global warming than they do from terrorism. That global warming is more dangerous than terrorism. That perhaps more money should be spent on fixing global warming instead of blasting civilians with unmanned drones.
It's simply not the financial scams the WWF that gives it notoriety. Many of its programmes have been anti-people, particularly displacing defenceless tribal. Some examples:  
-In Zaire the Barhwa Pygmies were driven out of their ancestral land in order to establish the Kahuzi-Biega National Park
- In Cental Africa, the WWF's Dzangha-Sangha Project has resulted in the destruction of the livelihood and loss of dignity of the Baka Pygmies in this area and in the loss of their ancestral homeland.
- In Rwanda the Batwa Pygmies were driven out of the Nyungwe Natural Forest in 1994 to make way for a Nature Conservation Site. The Sanye have been severely prosecuted as poachers on their own land. As a result the Sanye peoples have been virtually destroyed as a society of hunters and gatherers.
- In South Africa the 40 last remaining Bushmen have been chased out of their ancestral land which is now largely used as the Kalahari Gemsbock National Park. 
- In India the Gujjar nomads in Uttar Pradesh are victims of a Nature Conservation Project, where WWF is directly involved. Also the last few aborigine peoples, belonging to the Negrito race, have been victimised by National Park projects in the Nilgiri Mountains where WWF was and still is active.

The most recent scam exposed of WWF was Amazon-gate. They first published an advocacy report that was used by the IPCC to conclude that 40% of the Amazon Forest will disappear by 2030 due to climate change induced drought.  The IPCC whose rules stipulated that they need to use peer reviewed scientific research, bent its rules to include this WWF study though it was simply gray literature. WWF then used their financial clout to instigate NGOs and environmentalists to get agitated over the issue. The public support generated by their advocacy was then exploited  to solicit millions of grants from the World Bank to ostensibly  protect and rejuvenate Amazon Forests. This project is estimated to generate $60 billion  to WWF as income  by way of carbon credits. Neat except recent peer review studies using satellite imagery suggest this WWF study as being based on total falsehood. Rain-forests unlike Savannas actually thrive on enhanced sunlight.
Earth Day is all about the symbolism of curbing individual consumption. If you are one that have already put this practice in your daily life, there is no need to go the extra mile. The fact is that symbolism is practiced only by fakes to either to feel good of them or to up their social approval ratings. One hour of such exhibit, they go back to their high consumption ways for rest of the year.
On the other hand, if you do not belong to either of this category, why opt for empty symbolism? Remember you are only aiding corrupt environmentalists like WWF to earn the mega bucks. Sock it to WWF as they feel that they succeeded in misleading you. By increasing your energy consumption during tonight's Earth hour, you will be making a statement - that WWF have grossly misread YOU and that YOU will not permit WWF to make money out of YOU. If we do not tolerate corrupt politicians and their politics, let the likes of WWF know that we do not tolerate scam ridden NGOs and their bogus issues!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oxfam Study: Network Analysis of Climate Change Debate

This is a rather interesting study purportedly funded by Oxfam and produced by a digital mapping agency Profero. In the context of the all out war between climate alarmist and skeptics, the study was designed to shed some militaristic insights into the way the former's networks operate, so that these inputs could be used to counter their aggressive onslaught.

The study is still to be put in the public domain by Oxfam though extracts were apparently  leaked to the a climate warmist website - Left Foot Forward. The diagram below is however suggestive of its contents.

"Combating the growing influence of climate skeptics" as the title of the study goes is in fact a tacit confession by the climate alarmist network that they all but lost the PR war. 

Factors like Climategate and severe winter in the Northern Hemisphere are readily admitted as not only radically altering their public  support base but the tone and tenor of the report additionally paints the bleak picture of doubters clearly succeeding in putting climate alarmists on their back-foot.

That the climate alarmists is demonstrating some element of denial is indicated by the the construction of a network model that still places the likes of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian and the BBC as key supporter propaganda nodules of the climate alarmist network. Much of the global media, including its Indian counterparts, who had been the its staunch propaganda pillars, have been neutralized. In fact, some of the most telling blows on climate alarmism in the recent past has been inflicted by the likes of the Guardian and the BBC.

The study also does not factor-in their modeling, the impact the great climate skeptic surge had in catalyzing major splits and defections within the alarmist scientific community, including the IPCC. Perhaps a more worrisome omission is  factoring-in the cleavages within the climate alarmist NGO movement  which have now  come into open and now more or less, formalized. More radical leftist members within are accusing typical aid agencies of the likes of Oxfam and Christian Aid of supporting 'Green Capitalism'. The clubbing of institutions like the World Bank within climate alarmist supporter network is not going to help matters further and perhaps one of the reasons why this report is yet to be made public.

In short, the rapid battle reversals faced by the global warming movement has left its stock much bewildered,  highly demoralized and wandering leaderless and aimlessly around the battle field like a defeated army. In this context, the study offers some constructive guidelines to making of a last ditched stand though falling short however of spelling out a full-fledged counter-offensive strategy.

The Oxfam report deludes itself that tactics alone  matters in a PR war. Unfortunately, the most grievous blow that climate skeptics inflicted on the climate warmist movement was robbing them of the credibility of their science - the very soul of the movement itself.  Unless this is restored, the climate alarmist movement can have little hope of regaining the momentum and the high moral ground they enjoyed till just a couple of months ago.

Read the full story at the Left Foot Forward website here

 An Update on Profero

The study was actually undertaken by a Profero subsidiary called Unsimplify.

 1. Projected Image

This is how Profero pompously project their image in their website:
"Our agency is a collective of brilliant, original thinkers who have been doing things differently since day one".
So how differently do they do things? We can gain an insight by switching back to the Unsimplify website:
"If this sounds complex and challenging then that’s intentional because what Unsimplify does is complex, hence the name."
Taken together, all this means that this corporate group takes great pride making simple things complex! That's what's different how they do things!  And to think that Oxfam actually bought this  boast, inviting on themselves the very recipe to guaranteed failure.

In contrast to their projected image, the landscape map of Profero shows how sloppy their research is. Rather than capture the full complexity, the diagram suggests that all they could manage was over-simplification.

Profero further boosts
"We pride ourselves in our creative solutions and in achieving exceptional results by thinking beyond the traditional mindset."
Apparently thinking beyond traditional mindsets traps Profero in bias - portraying the IPCC as neutral is one such example.

Profero further claims that they possess
"broad local and global insight".
By portraying the World Bank as a significant supporter (read warmist) player in their landscape map, Profero demonstrated that they held no such insights.The World Bank is considered offensive by much of the NGO network throughout the world and the Profero landscape map will only succeed to fueling their increased suspicion of the whole global warming issue.

2.  Oxfam's Future Strategy

Unsimplify website:
"We've been working with Oxfam for a number of months on a project to assist them in helping to make sense of how the growth of online peer-to-peer news generation has and could in the future impact their campaigning activities. We were commissioned by Oxfam to do this because they were looking for an approach that goes deeper than just monitoring and mapping online conversations - although this does form a part of what we do"
This my suggest that Oxfam is exploring whether blogging can be more impactful as a communication media. for their climate advocacy programmes.  

The very fact that the study was deliberately leaked to the website Left Foot Forward ("hats off to LeftFootForward for getting the scoop on this piece of work") means that they could be one of the blogs who would shoulder this responsibility, probably with Oxfam' generous funding. Left Foot Forward is probably being built up as the NGO sponsored climate alarmist website just as Real Climate is to the alarmist scientists of the CRU, East Anglia. So this perhaps explains why the report entailed many months of consulting.

But for peer-to-peer news generation to succeed as an Oxfam communication strategy, a prerequisite is that peers must be self-motivated. Self-motivation and self-starters are what basically defines skeptics. Unfortunately the media expose of the leading lights of the Global Warming movement as carbon profiteers, Climategate and the multiple errors in the IPCC report, have cast huge blows on the credibility of Global Warming science. The peers within the climate alarmist movement instead of being self-motivated are at the moment, a much beaten lot displaying poor morale. Oxfam's strategies on peer-to-peer news generation will likely to lack impact until and unless credibility of Global Warming science regains faith among the public. This looks a highly unlikely prospect in the short to medium term.

3. Quality of Research

"Some of the key conversations in the form of a landscape map as it should be understood in the context of an entire report (120 pages or so) which hasn’t been made public."
Perhaps yes. But whatever the intention of the purposeful leak, this had been a total PR disaster starting with the title "Combating the growing influence of Climate Skeptics" which suggest a connotation of defeatism. The landscape diagram was too full of holes that made the climate skeptic community roll over with laughter.

The most significant omission are NGOs and environmentalist groups such Greenpeace, WWF, Christian Aid and Oxfam themselves who have a mind boggling spread of money around supporting the Global Warming theory. The most obvious mistake is categorizing media such as Wall Street Journal, Guardian etc within the supporter network. This might have been the case some months ago but not as of now as they take a more balanced stand.  Why their map left out the likes of the Economist among the faithful remains totally incomprehensible.

The study describes ClimateGate as a the first wave of climate attack and bemoans that no one defended the climate science. It fails to mention that  these e-mails reveal collusion, falsification of data, suppression of contrary opinion, political interference and fraudulent scientific conclusions - that moulded public perception away from the science. It makes no mention of the steps needed to restore credibility of the science. This gives the impression that Oxfam is in a state of denial and that as long as warmists  continue to  act as ostriches, skeptics need not worry. We will still control the way issues are framed and accordingly, the climate debate itself.

The element of staleness is provided in the checklist of how "Climate Progressives" (read warmists) can counter skeptic blogs. No one any more get distracted about funding (i.e. opting for ad hominem attacks). This is a two way sword as the likes of Oxfam, Profero and Left Foot Forward may have to disclose first their funds they use for their climate advocacy which they aren't prepared to, and as such a puerile strategy. Moreover, the public  now concentrate on the substance of the blog - they reason for much of the the skeptic surge.  Innuendo attacks besides only succeed in arousing public curiosity and act in the skeptic's favour.

The most that the Unsimplified study could come up as a counter to deniers (read skeptics) is to use of the handy checklist of arguments -  refer to  Skeptical Science; Real Climate and Climate Safety to cast doubt on the validity of arguments. This a tacit admission that most "peers" lack climate science expertise that they need to refer to sources. This is where climate skeptics score in leap and bounds. They know the climate science well enough on their own The way the hockey stick was exposed as a fraud proved legendary of the extraordinary commitment among skeptics to do research and fine comb data. This fact of their extra-ordinary commitment  is admitted by Unsimplify  themselves:
"A small group of dedicated people coming from a diverse range of positions and perspectives but working together as a loose federation held together by shared values and beliefs succeeded in accomplishing the most impressive PR coup of the 21st century. The climate change skeptics did this by significantly influencing public perception of anthropogenic global warming by single-mindedly applying concerted and consistent pressure at critical junctures in the media ecology here in the UK and abroad."

Monday, March 22, 2010

WWF exposed in a Carbon Profiteering Scam

Amazongate is the story of IPCC being exposed for yet another false scare. IPCC based its conclusions on a WWF study which forecasted that as much 40% percent of the forests would disappear due to climate change induced drought. New peer reviewed studies now dismiss this claim as false.

The first study used NASA's satellite imagery to publish a paper in a scientific journal - Geophysical Research Letters (Read detailed study here.) The study, authored by Arindam Samanta of Boston University found no significant difference in the greenness level of these forests between drought and non-drought years - confirming their high drought tolerance.

In fact, NASA went further to attribute the effects of enhanced sunlight under drought conditions as actually increasing the capacity of rain-forests to thrive!  Another peer reviewed study the National Academy of Sciences (Read here) drew similar conclusions. Quizzed by Christopher Booker in his investigation of Amazongate, Dr. Jose Marengo, a Brazilian National Institute for Space Research climate scientist and member of the IPCC conceded:
"The way that the WWF report calculated this 40% was totally wrong."
So was this then a mere human error? 

Christopher Booker in his latest investigative report suggests this is not so and that there could be a more sinister motive behind such miscalculations:  
"WWF and other green campaign groups talking up the destruction of the Amazon rain-forests are among those who stand to make billions of dollars from the scare. This "green gold-rush" involves taking control of huge tracts of rain-forest supposedly to stop them being chopped down, and selling carbon credits gained from carbon dioxide emissions they claim will be "saved" Backed by a $30 million grant from the World Bank, the WWF has already partnered in a pilot scheme to manage 20 million acres in Brazil. If their plans get the go-ahead in Mexico at the end of the year, the forests will be worth over $60 billion in "carbon credits.
This allegation of carbon profiteering not only damages WWF's own credibility but  tends to drag down with it, all other advocacy programmes of the NGO/environmental sector as a whole.
Read more of Christopher Booker's article here

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cut Motion on the Proposed Coal Cess Gains Momentum

India last month, conveyed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) that it would endeavour to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 20 to 25% by 2022, as compared to the 2005 levels, through voluntary mitigation actions. 
This includes targeting a near 30% intensity emission reduction of its power sector. As a result, for the next 12 years, India proposes to spend $ 22 billion  on expanding its renewable energy generation capacity  including the addition of a minimum of 10,000 MW of solar power and 31,000 MW of non-solar renewable capacity. 

The latest budget of the UPA, the ruling political coalition in India, demonstrated this commitment further through the creation of a National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), to be funded by a proposed imposition of a Rs 50 cess on coal per ton. This cess is estimated to yield around Rs 2,500 crores this year.  

The last election gave the UPA a wafer thin majority in the lower house while it continues as a minority in the upper house of parliament. This curtails their freedom to enact new legislation without receiving broader political support. They were able to offset some of these constraints through securing outside support from smaller regional parties. Yesterday, all this changed with two of these regional players withdrawing support to the government with at least two other allies extremely upset. Though it signals a major political re-alignment is on the cards, at this moment, the UPA is in disarray and hence vulnerable - a situation the opposition can exploit to the hilt.

Under Indian parliamentary practice, if a cut motion to the budget is passed in the lower house, the government is morally obligated to resign. While this threat of a monetary bill being defeated in the lower house remains unlikely, a defeat in the upper house of parliament, can create a political gridlock. If a combined opposition threatens to introduce a cut motion, it can pressure the government to rolling back their proposed Rs 50 cess on coal per ton.

Why a Cut Motion is Necessary?

When energy efficiency increases per se, it makes for good economics and its incidental outcome is often that the carbon intensity of energy generation automatically reduces. But if India were to also cap its emissions, it would have to replace its conventional energy with something else and the renewable option would be at least 2-3 times more expensive.

Here kicks in the principle of fuel poverty - defined as one where a family spends ten per cent or more of its earnings on fuel bills. The number of estimated people living in fuel poverty in the UK is seven million which is projected to more than double due to among other things, the misguided 'Climate Change' policies of the Labour government which is on its way to a humiliating defeat this June.

(If the Labour is possibly reduced to third position to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats respectively, it will send out a sound message to other governments the world over what a heavy  political price they have to pay for their "Climate Change' obsessions).

The problem for countries like India is that unlike the West, 60% of our population is still unconnected to the power grid. We are a populous country, the fourth largest economy of the world but also one of its poorest. Distributing Pachauri's or TERI's solar lanterns to villages as NDTV's Greenathon program does, can only be a temporary pacifier at best, and at its worst, a distraction from the ultimate challenge of linking up these villages  to the power grid, without which no real development can take place. Even if  this were made possible, i.e. power grid link up,  either most will not be able to afford it or will dig a huge hole into their family budget, creating adverse consequences in other areas of India's development priorities such as health, education, nutrition etc.
As we attempt to lift more and more people out of poverty, this will also result in an ever expanding middle class which in turn ups the demand for energy. This whole process becomes subverted if energy is priced high as it effectively consigns hundreds of millions of our people to live in continuing poverty. Accordingly, for supplying cheap energy to our people, we need to leverage the resources the country is most endowed with - coal, where we have the fourth largest reserve in the world. 

Renewables Dismal Record

The problem of renewables as Jairam Ramesh, India's dynamic Environmental Minister complained in a Wall Street Journal (WSJ)  interview is that we are being pressured to "giving up cheap energy sources in exchange for economically unproven technologies".

Wind, solar, wave etc energies are touted by NGOs and environmentalist agencies like Christian Aid, Greenpeace etc as silver bullets to sustainable energy.  Despite their public image projections, at least some of them do not at the sub-conscious level want poverty to be really eradicated  as this creates an existential problem  - the raison d'etre for operating in the country disappears. This should partly explain why they want uneconomical and unreliable energy technologies to be dumped into the country.

Their behaviour is  also partly driven by the hidden agenda of many of these foreign funded NGOs have  - to expand the export markets of their country of origin. For instance, Christian Aid’s neo-imperialistic agenda shows its real face in their document: Capturing India’s Carbon: The UK’s role in delivering low-carbon technology to India  (2009). India plans to install 80,000 MW of super-critical thermal capacity by 2022. Climate Change then becomes only a mask for agencies like Christian Aid to lobby for a slice of this carbon sequestration market on behalf of UK firms.  

Jairam Ramesh in the same WSJ interview further argues that India has more urgent environmental problems to tackle and that climate change cannot arrogate itself as the main environmental priority. What he didn't say was technologies like carbon sequestration are highly expensive while its capacity to check emissions remains highly questionable. This results in the  wastage of funds that could otherwise be deployed to tackle more genuine and urgent environmental problems - stinking gutters, overflowing garbage, polluted rivers/other fresh water sources, arsenic poisoning of groundwater, pesticide residue in agriculture etc.

Besides, the Guardian and the New York Times, who had been till recently the most staunchest media allies of the warmist lobby, both recently published scathing articles on how the hype on solar energy is an out and out economic scam: 

Wind and other Renewable fare no better: 
  • Read here: Britain’s only wind turbine plant to close, The Guardian. Due to collapsing demand, UK’s only wind turbine manufacturing plant is to close, dealing a humiliating blow to the government’s promise to support low-carbon industries. 
  • Read here: Renewable energy – our downfall?  Article written by Ralph Ellis who himself promoted renewable energy in Denmark, even putting his money where his mouth is, now lives to regret it. 
  • Read here. The Heavy Price We Pay for Windpower.  "Now do you still believe in wind power? It appears to me you would have to believe in this great swindle, otherwise why would you ever do it?" 
  • Read here. Drax suspends plan to replace coal with greener fuel. Times-online: "Britain’s biggest power station has suspended its plan to replace coal with greener fuel, leaving the Government little chance of meeting its target for renewable energy. The power station, which is the country’s largest single source of CO2, has invested £80 million in a processing unit for wood, straw and other plant-based fuels, known as biomass. Drax’s decision will make it almost impossible for the Government to meet its commitment to increase the proportion of electricity from renewable sources from 5.5 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020. Drax has bought two million tonnes of biomass, but Ms Thompson said that it was considering selling it overseas because it no longer made economic sense to burn it in its six boilers." 

A Call for Combined Opposition to Introduce a Cut Motion on the cess on Coal
From Jairam Ramesh’s interview to the Wall Street Journal, it is obvious that the Environment Minister is cynical of the viability of renewable energy, particularly its potential to offer our poor, cheap energy. All over the world, particularly Europe, there are ample signals that governments are increasingly giving cold shoulder to renewable energy due to the dismal performance of their experimentation with these technologies. When countries like Sweden, Germany and US are giving nuclear energy a renewed thrust, the fund allocation for nuclear power in the Budget 2010-11 has been slashed by over 10 per cent. The state owned Nuclear Power Corporation is sitting on cash reserves of Rs 14,000 crores which the budget considers sufficient enough to self-finance 10,000 MW power generation capacities over the next few years.

Surely, the Government of India (GoI) cannot claim to be oblivion of these trends that  is prompting governments the world over to re-think renewable energy. The only reason why the GoI is pushing renewable energy is to meet India's international commitment as given to the UNFCC. The question arises, when other major polluting countries are jettisoning their emission cutting programmes, why should India remain the exception, particularly when we were not historically part of the problem?  

Through this blog, we call on the combined opposition to call for a comprehensive debate on the country's energy security strategy before passing the finance bill. A cess of Rs 50 on coal per ton will have a high inflationary impact, which will rear its ugly head three to four months down the line when energy suppliers would be forced to raise their unit price of energy.  

If the UPA is insistent of meeting its commitments to the UNFCC, then we call upon the combined opposition led by the BJP to devise a floor coordination strategy to try to pass a cut motion on the cess imposed on coal. Though the government may not fall, the very threat of the finance bills being stalled at the upper house of parliament should itself create the required pressures to get the ruling coalition to meet at least some of the opposition's key demands. This comes a time when the ruling coalition is particularly weak on numbers in parliament and a cut motion would prove a major embarrassment for the government at this juncture.

The cut motion should aim to reduce the amount of cess proposed on coal. Whatever budgetary allocation to renewables should be limited for supporting evaluation of existing projects and R&D support. None of the NCEF funds should go to subsidizing green field solar or wind power projects until these technologies prove themselves as commercially and technologically viable alternatives to conventional energy. If we don't, we will end up as Spain having to indefinitely subsidize non-viable energy projects that end up as white elephants!