Key has faith in IPCC

A prime minister needs to be a jack of all trades. So it’s not really fair to expect him to be master of many.

But we do expect him to be a good judge of which masters to place his faith in.

On global warming, as you can read here, our prime minister places his total faith in the much-maligned IPCC.

With his idiotic climate tax due to start hitting you in the pocket the day after tomorrow, read this and weep. 

JOHN KEY ON LEIGHTON SMITH SHOW
4 FEBRUARY, 2010

SMITH

I’ve never had so many questions for a prime minister before.

No doubt because of the higher prices those listeners will soon be paying because of the ETS.

An emailed question:

In view of the overwhelming evidence that the IPCC has produced a flawed document and flawed policy, would he consider postponing the extra charges on petrol and electricity coming into force on July 1?

If not, where does the tax money go? I have not been able to get a satisfactory answer from anyone.

KEY

It’s not our intention at this point to delay the ETS.

And what I’d say about the Emissions Trading Scheme that we have in place is it’s at the very mild end of an Emissions Trading Scheme.

So why do I say that?

Beats me, John.

Because your scheme is the most punishing emissions trading scheme in the world. No country outside the socialist EU is silly enough to have one.

And theirs only punishes 4% of their economy, while yours punishes 100% of ours.

Also, 80% of European trade is inside Europe. So their companies are on a level playing field with their competitors.

Whereas 100% of New Zealand trade is outside New Zealand. So our exporters’ are playing on a field that’s tilted in their competitors’ favour.

Well firstly, basically the price of carbon is capped at $12.50.

So it’s significantly lower and can’t rise for the period of time that it’s in for the first few years.

Secondly, where does the money go?

It gets recycled.

So the old scheme Labour had proposed actually sucked, in the end, tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money out of the economy into the pockets of the government.

That’s right. The only scheme dumber than National’s was Labour’s.

Dumb and Dumber. Is that the best this country can be?

We’re not doing that.

We are taking a modest amount and giving it to people who plant trees or come up with technological answers to climate change.

So it’s quite modest.

Tell that to the shivering pensioners and other strugglers you’ll soon be hitting with higher petrol, power and grocery prices — on top of your GST rise and any normal price rises.

SMITH

Are you still receiving advice on climate change from Dr. Gluckman?

KEY

I don’t get really my major advice on climate change from him. I do talk to him.

But he doesn’t provide the formal written advice. That comes from other government departments.

SMITH

Such as?

KEY

Well, NIWA provides advice.

That would be the same NIWA who were donkey-deep in the Climategate racket?

The Ministry of the Environment provides advice. Some comes from Forestry actually.

That would be the foresters who can’t believe their luck at being compensated for trees they planted after 1989, even though they neither expected any compensation, nor think they deserve it.

 SMITH

Plus the IPCC. Which a lot of those entities you talk about take their advice from.

KEY

Yeah, a combination of things.

For instance, if you look at the most recent advice I had before I went to Copenhagen – and we can come back to that and the merits or success of that particular meeting.

But, if you go and have a look at that, the advice we’ve had is that NZ has warmed by about .8 of a degree, just under 1 degree, over the last (I think it’s) 50 odd years.

Yet back in the pre-industrial 18th century, there was a rise of 2.2 degrees in 36 years. From natural causes. 

SMITH 

That’s the advice you had before you went?

KEY

[No response]

SMITH

You know that advice is now under severe criticism.

KEY

  This is New Zealand, not… not…

SMITH

Yes, but are you aware that that is under severe criticism now?

KEY

Well, I think we’ll go back to the debate.

There are always going to be arguments over the merits one way or the other.

What you can say is that those that wanted a focus on climate change and nothing else, such as Greenpeace, were winning public opinion.

And there was a big push in that direction.

And we were out of sync with them.

Because we said: New Zealand needs a balanced approach between creating jobs and growing our economy, and dealing with our environmental issues.

On the other side of the coin, there are clearly those who think this is all a load of rubbish - it should be completely discounted as a left wing plan.

Er, yeah. You’d think a right-wing government would have been wise to that possibility.

And what happened since the Copenhagen breakdown, there has been growing scepticism around the world.

Not since Copenhagen, John. Since Climategate. Which was before Copenhagen. Big difference.

I think the pendulum will eventually settle somewhere around where National has been the whole way through.

You mean the Al Gore position? I don’t think so.  

We will eventually do things about climate change, because we are expelling more greenhouse gases. The population is growing.

How do we deal with that in a practical way without asking people to change their standard of living?

But you are asking people to be poorer — even though New Zealand has next-to-no population, and expels next-to-no greenhouse gases.

Oh and is — so you keep telling us — supposed to be trying to become as rich as Australia.

SMITH

So you still subscribe to CO 2 being a driver of climate change?

KEY

Well, it’s not just CO 2, it’s methane and nitrate.

SMITH

What would it take to disabuse you of this theory?

KEY

I think the first thing is: factually, we can measure the rise in greenhouse gases.

We can measure quite accurately the rise of CO 2 and methane and nitrate in the atmosphere.

So that’s not debatable.

Nor is it an answer to Leighton’s question, John.

What we can’t do, I guess, is ever – when it comes to science – 100% say that there’s a cause and effect: because that’s rising, that’s having these implications.

 And that’s where the debate often rests.

That’s where it should rest — until the cause and effect is proven.

It should not rest with the knee-jerk acceptance of a highly dubious theory as fact.

It should certainly not rest with the squandering of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on a non-solution to a non-problem.

You’ll get those who say climate change is responsible for Hurricane Katrina, catastrophic weather conditions, and actually cooling.

And a lot of the people making the most bizarre claims (now discredited) are those very same people you take advice from — the climate scientologists of the IPCC.

(It’s not necessarily always changes in warming. Changes in weather patterns.)

Others will say they are not.

But if you go back to the bulk of the scientific evidence, it overwhelmingly supports that there is an effect.

The real evidence says the effect is minuscule.

Yes, a bunch of computer models are forecasting all manner of doom and gloom, but they’ve been programmed to produce the result their politicised programmers want.

And how have those projections panned out in real life?

Very badly.

Here’s the Global Warming Model Validation Scorecard. By 2006, when this site stopped counting, the models’ record of successful predictions stood at: Won 1, Lost 27, Drawn 4.

(Ever wonder why scientists only ever call them projections, not predictions? It’s because they get it wrong over 90% of the time.) 

Dodgy computer models are not evidence.

Now, can that change? Will it change?

I don’t know.

But all I can tell you is that a lot of people, for a long period of time, have looked at this.

And the overwhelming bulk of scientific evidence supports it.

Even if you go to someone like Bjorn Lomborg, he would say to you — yes, the Sceptical Environmentalist — he would say to you, “Climate change is happening, but is it worth fixing?”

He would say, “Pour money into fixing the world’s water supplies,” for instance.

Glad you mentioned Dr Lomborg. Let’s have a look at what he actually said.

Here he is at the TED conference in 2005.

He said a number of different groups of economists were asked to rank the world’s fifteen biggest problems by how cost-effectively we could solve them.

All groups rated one problem 15th and least worth trying to fix.

That problem? You guessed it: global warming.

Why?

Not because it wasn’t happening. But because we’d have to spend $150 billion a year cooling the planet. And with all that money, we’d still only be able to nudge the temperature down by a gnat’s whisker.

It’s simply not worth it.

With half that money — $75 billion a year — we could fix all of the world’s major problems. Including all of the world’s communicable diseases like AIDS and malaria.

Lomborg also said something else very interesting.

He talked about what would happen if we let the market system kept lifting poor people out of poverty at the same rate as it has been.

He said that by 2100, the average Bangladeshi will be as wealthy as today’s average Dutchman. So they’ll be well able to adapt to any climatic problem they may face.

(And we all know how the Dutch coped with their little water problem centuries ago — when they had less technology than today’s Bangladeshis.)

So I personally believe human-induced climate change is occurring.

New Zealand’s got to take a responsible approach for a variety of reasons.

 But not one of those reasons stacks up.

Most of the foresters don’t need compensating, and those that do would only set us back about $20 million.

No country is going to take action against us for not having an ETS when they either haven’t got one themselves or (in the case of Europe) it doesn’t apply to agriculture or anything except heavy industry.

But I don’t think we should be at the extreme end of the debate.

So why are you?

If the world’s first all-sectors, all-gases ETS doesn’t put us at the extreme end of the debate, what would?

SMITH

Let me ask you again: What would disabuse you of that belief that you’ve adopted?

KEY

Scientific support that we are wrong.

SMITH

Are you — with the greatest respect to the office of the Prime Minister — can I suggest to you that you are ill informed, and the sources that you’re getting your information from are not providing you with up to date and accurate information?

The scam of man-made global warming – of man-made climate change – is being exposed all over the world at the moment.

Even the New Zealand Herald, while it still held reserve at the end of the Editorial yesterday, finally woke up from it’s 40 year sleep and wrote an editorial that said this scam is going on.

Time Magazine – all the pro-anthropogenic global warming pushers in the media  – have backed off and are now saying we need to go back to square one and work with real science, and not the nonsense that’s led the prime ministers of the world to tax their populations.

KEY

Yeah.

So isn’t the answer here, though, to say, “Look, let’s accept for a moment that it is occurring” – and I accept your perspective that it’s not. 

No that most certainly is not the answer, John.

Before you commit billions of dollars of taxpayers to fixing a problem, the burden of proof must be on the scientists to prove that the problem exists.

You should not just “accept for a moment that it is occurring”.

That’s lazy leadership.

It’s a very long-term problem. Whatever happens, it’s a long-term issue.

The history of the world’s climate is an extremely long-term issue. And as paleontologist Professor Bob Carter will tell you, by the standards of the past we’re going through a rather chilly phase at the moment, with relatively little carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

But I don’t suppose Dr Gluckman and his IPCC friends mentioned that, did he John?

And where the debate becomes ridiculous at one level is when someone like myself and other leaders turn up in Copenhagen, and world leaders like the head of Bangladesh — the President or Prime Minister of Bangladesh — gets up and says — as she did actually at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at Trinidad and Tobago — that hundreds of millions of people were starving in her country as a result of climate change.

Well, actually, there’s been long-standing problems in Bangladesh, and I think to start rooting them all back to climate change is ridiculous. 

You had Bolivia and Venezuela getting up at Copenhagen saying that climate change was the evil that was causing capitalism.

Well, I mean that’s a ridiculous statement.

So you’re less ridiculous than Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and the president or prime minister of Bangladesh. Hardly cause for celebration.

SMITH

But you are in good company now. You’ve got Osama Bin Laden on your side.

KEY

 Oh right. So…

But my point is simply this.

We have a very modest system, which we can gear up or ultimately can gear down.

If, at the end of the day, we plant a few more trees in New Zealand, work on expelling less greenhouse gases, in my view — and build greater efficiency, fuel efficiency and the likes — in my view they all have merits and benefits.

We have a million hectares of erosion-prone land in New Zealand. Let’s fix that anyway.

SMITH

The Australian ran a piece today… [went on to talk about the article that said that trees may not be the carbon sink we thought they were.]

KEY

Yeah, there’ll always be a debate. But if you look at it, we have years of research and evidence that shows that trees do suck co2 out of the atmosphere.

So does grass. Why can’t our farmers get any credits for that?

SMITH

I want to conclude it with this.

The claim was, “The science is settled, the consensus has it.”

Both of those are fallacies. They are now becoming unravelled big-time.

KEY

Well, I would go back to you and say what I started with.

I think the debate got extreme on one side pre-Copenhagen.

I think you are seeing a predictable push back the other way.

But I’ll be amazed if, in a few years time, you’re still not seeing countries around the world attempting to do something about this problem.

I’m not saying they’ll- Well, if they’re smart, they won’t sacrifice everything in their economy and all these stupid things for taking a sole and singular focus on climate change.

But I think countries will deal with it.

SMITH

Dr Lomborg, who you quoted earlier, said, “The brave thing to do at the moment is nothing.”

He said that. And somebody wrote to me this morning with a question for you: “Are you brave enough to do nothing?”

KEY

Well, it’s not a question of being brave.

I think the answer there is that if New Zealand did nothing, what would be the implications on the international markets - given we export around about a third of our economy, and want to export more?

And the answer is, there will be pushback.

SMITH

Given what the leading media in the UK is saying at the moment — and other places, but the UK seem to be of major interest to us on this front — no pushback.

None whatsoever.

KEY

Well, I don’t know, ‘cos you’ve got the UK being taxed on that front. You’ve got all of Europe in an Emissions Trading Scheme.

So you are saying that… See, you can argue the merits of it one way or the other. But in the end, the Europeans, the Americans…

In the end, John, the Europeans aren’t taxing agriculture. So they can hardly get upset if we don’t either.

The Americans aren’t going ahead with their cap and trade scheme.

The Chinese won’t be getting an ETS any century soon.

And to cap it all off, Australia’s delayed the scheme we’re supposed to be working in with for at least three years. (A delay that new PM Julia Gillard has endorsed.)

That’s all our main trading partners.

So where will the reprisals be coming from? 

SMITH

Have I drawn your attention though this morning to the fact that it really is unravelling?

And can I ask you to make further enquiry?

KEY

I will.

I hope Leighton asks him to report back.

CALLER

What debate are we prepared to get involved in? Certainly sooner or later someone has to say, “The emperor has no clothes.”

We have to have- Chicken Little has to be called home to roost, so that we can have that debate, so that we can actually know what direction to go to.

Because we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars of peoples funds, nations’ funds, right at the time of a global catastrophic financial meltdown.

KEY

I think the truthful answer is: you’re not going to get as straightforward and binary black and white answer as that any time real soon.

Because I think there will be conjecture and debate and quite ferocious arguments put up by both sides for decades.

What we do know is: the population of the world is getting larger.

We know that they’re industrialising quicker and consuming a lot more carbon.

The question now is ultimately: Does that have any long term impact on the world?

And the scientific evidence that we see indicates it does, and that we should attempt to do something about it.

From New Zealand’s point of view, I think that if we don’t play our part in the world, we’ll have our reputation tarnished. We’ll have reduced access for our goods and services.

So now that we’re playing our part and the rest of the world isn’t, will the rest of the world give us increased access? Or is our shining reputation just one for stupidity?

But I think we should do it in a considered and modest way. And that’s what we’re doing.

Enjoy your considered and modest prices rises after Thursday.

Thanks to Karen Bridgman for the transcript of the interview.

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 1:26 am  Comments (4)  

A poem for Jeffrey Wigand

Grant McLachlan, Dan McCaffrey and I were having dinner at Leuven last Wednesday, when who should plonk himself down at the next table but Jeffrey Wigand, the legendary Big Tobacco whistleblower.

I haven’t seen Russell Crowe’s portrayal of him on The Insider, but I recognised him from a Breakfast interview that morning.

Grant greeted him like a long-lost friend. And Dan, tongue firmly in cheek, launched into a rave about how soaring cigarette prices were unfairly punishing our beneficiaries.

And boy, did Dr Wigand seize the bait. With shark-like ferocity, he replied that anyone caught spending their welfare check on cigarettes should have their benefit cut.

(Sounds fair to me.)

I could see at that moment why Jeffrey Wigand was such a handful for those tobacco lawyers. He’s one determined guy, who speaks in the plainest of English. I wish we had more of them here.

I told him I’d send him this poem from my book I Think The Clouds Are Cotton Wool:

SMOKER’S COFFIN

(First verse sung to the tune of A Bicycle Built For Two

Hazy Daisy,
Give me your cancer, do;
I’m inhaling
More of your smoke than you;
It’s hard to believe that soon we’ll
Be meeting at my funeral,
And when I’m dead
It can be said
I was basically killed by you.

. . .

Nothing on this planet kills
Like W.D. and H.O. Wills;
Not the tiger, not the shark,
Not Al-Qaeda in Iraq;
More than Hitler or Bin Laden,
Genghis Khan or Joseph Stalin;
Mussolini and Saddam
Haven’t done a lot of harm
Next to the collected horrors
Of a certain Philip Morris.

Kaiser Bill and Mao Zedong
Hardly put a jackboot wrong;
Idi’s army in Uganda,
Tutsi-butchers in Rwanda;
Even naughty old Pol Pot
Couldn’t slaughter like this lot;
The worst of men from history’s annals
Did not kill like RJ Reynolds.

Slobodan Milosevic,
Serbia, the loss of which
Must have hurt — and serves him right —
But not as much as Winston Light.
Evil Nicolai Ceaucescu,
Though he left us kids to rescue,
More Romanian orphans die
From nicotine than Nicolai.

Mr Benson, Mr Hedges —
Killers both, the state alleges;
Rothmans, Carlton and Winfield —
Murderers who stand revealed.
As their legal team tap-dances,
Ask them questions, they give cancers;
Should there be a total ban?
Why not ask the Marlboro Man?

Marlboro Man, that great romancer,
Just before he died of cancer,
Choked, “I think … at last … I’ve hit
Upon a … failsafe … way to … quit.”

Lawyers stall and judges fudge;
Politicians dare not budge;
Big Tobacco’s biggest three
(Reynolds, Morris, BAT)
Hide behind the same defence:
“Inconclusive evidence.”

. . .

(This last verse sung to the tune of Chim-chim-cheree)

Chim-chimney chim-chimney
Chim-chim cheroot;
Time we were giving
Tobacco the boot;
How many more, how many more
Graves must be filled
Full of the smokers
You jokers have killed?

© J Ansell 2003

I hope he likes it.

A few years back, when the air quality in most pubs was on a par with the inside of a chimney, I plucked up the courage to perform the above in a bar full of smokers.

I thought I’d be lucky to get out alive, but I wanted them to know how I felt about their selfish habit.

And did they attack me?

Er, no. They clapped and cheered, and voted me the bar tab for best poem of the night.

So did my brave recital cause them to rethink their attitude toward polluting other people’s lungs?

Again, no. When the reading had finished, most of them went back to the bar and lit up a fag.

Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

What do kiwis, helicopters and pterodactyls have in common?

If the above is all Greek to you, don’t worry — just wing it. Why? Because the root word for wing in Greek is pter. 

You’ll find it hiding in helicopter and pterodactyl. And, in its longer form pteryx, in the official name of our beloved kiwi, apteryx.

Now it may strike you as odd that our flightless national bird should be any sort of relative of the mega-winged prehistoric predator, let alone of the rotor-bladed mechanical whirlybird.

You may be thinking that our little nocturnal groundgrubbing stickybeak could hardly have less in common with these two high-flying giants.

And there, I’m afraid, you’d be dead wrong. There’s a secret link, you see.

It’s the a at the front. In Greek, a means without or not. As in:

  • amoral — not moral
  • apathy — without feeling
  • atypical — not typical. 

In the same way, we get apteryx without wing — flightless.

And as in English, the Greek adds an n when it precedes a vowel. So an also means without. Hence:

  • anaesthetic — without sensation
  • anarchy  — without  a ruler
  • anhydrous — without water.

As for the helico part of helicopter, that’s Greek for spiral. Science buffs will know it in its other form, helix.

Oh, and the dactyl in pterodactyl means finger.

(Mind you, dactyl also means toe, just as pter sometimes means feather. So pterodactylwinged finger could just as easily mean feathered toe.)

Who said English was the only crazy language?

Published in: on June 27, 2010 at 12:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Leftist UN appoints leftist PM to absolve club-wielding leftist peace activists

So the UN thinks a former NZ Labour PM is the ideal neutral party to investigate the Israeli clash with the so-called peace activists off Gaza.

As they say in Tel Aviv, כן, בטח  (yeah right).

Could Ban Ki-moon’s promotion of Sir Geoffrey Palmer have anything to do with another former New Zealand PM not a million miles from his office?

Because we know her views on the Israelis and Palestinians, don’t we?

Clue: here’s a 2005 photo of her former foreign minister and successor Phil Goff getting unusually chummy with former PLO leader and Black September terrorist group founder (think Munich 1972) Yasser Arafat.

Let’s hope fellow Labourite Sir Geoffrey will be sufficiently impartial to ask why the Mavi Marmara was carrying peace activists like these:

Ahmad Umimon — Hamas operative.

Ken O’Keefe — Hamas operative. Tried to enter the Gaza Strip to form and train a commando unit.

Hassan Iynasi — Financial supporter of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization.

Hussein Urosh — Activist in the IHH organization. On his way to Gaza to help smuggle Al-Qaeda operatives into the Strip.

Fatimah Mahmadi — Active member of “Viva Palestine.” Tried to smuggle forbidden electronic components into Gaza.

Thanks to Kiwi in America via Kiwiblog for the link.

I note David Farrar’s more generous view of Sir Geoffrey’s appropriateness. But in politics, perception is everything.

And that means no matter how expert in maritime law our former PM may be, and no matter how impeccable his integrity, his link to a party that’s so shamelessly partisan is bound to cast doubt on any judgement he may make against Israel.

Published in: on June 9, 2010 at 12:40 am  Comments (2)  

The best public service is private

Thomas Sowell

I’m a big fan of the uncommonly sensible writing of Stanford University economics guru Thomas Sowell.

In his latest opinion editorial on the Atlasphere site, he argues that the best form of public service is private enterprise:

Many starry-eyed young adults who are fresh out of college have dreams of helping their fellow man via the public service sector. But when has a bureaucrat ever bestowed mass prosperity?

 Every year about this time, big-government liberals stand up in front of college commencement crowds across the country and urge the graduates to do the noblest thing possible — become big-government liberals.
 
That isn’t how they phrase it, of course. Commencement speakers express great reverence for “public service,” as distinguished from narrow private “greed.” There is usually not the slightest sign of embarrassment at this self-serving celebration of the kinds of careers they have chosen — over and above the careers of others who merely provide us with the food we eat, the homes we live in, the clothes we wear and the medical care that saves our health and our lives.
 
What I would like to see is someone with the guts to tell those students: Do you want to be of some use and service to your fellow human beings? Then let your fellow human beings tell you what they want — not with words, but by putting their money where their mouth is.
 
You want to see more people have better housing? Build it! Become a builder or developer — if you can stand the sneers and disdain of your classmates and professors who regard the very words as repulsive.
 
Would you like to see more things become more affordable to more people? Then figure out more efficient ways of producing things or more efficient ways of getting those things from the producers to the consumers at a lower cost.
 
That’s what a man named Sam Walton did when he created Wal-Mart, a boon to people with modest incomes and a bane to the elite intelligentsia. In the process, Sam Walton became rich. Was that the “greed” that you have heard your classmates and professors denounce so smugly? If so, it has been such “greed” that has repeatedly brought prices down and thereby brought the American standard of living up.
 
Back at the beginning of the 20th century, only 15 percent of American families had a flush toilet. Not quite one-fourth had running water. Only three percent had electricity and one percent had central heating. Only one American family in a hundred owned an automobile.
 
By 1970, the vast majority of those American families who were living in poverty had flush toilets, running water and electricity. By the end of the twentieth century, more Americans were connected to the Internet than were connected to a water pipe or a sewage line at the beginning of the century.
 
More families have air-conditioning today than had electricity then. Today, more than half of all families with incomes below the official poverty line own a car or truck and have a microwave.
 
This didn’t come about because of the politicians, bureaucrats, activists or others in “public service” that you are supposed to admire. No nation ever protested its way from poverty to prosperity or got there through rhetoric or bureaucracies.
 
It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club. It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.
 
Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing “compassion” for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.
 
The wonderful places where you are supposed to go to do “public service” are as sheltered from the brutal test of reality as you have been on this campus for the last four — or is it six? — years. In these little cocoons, all that matters is how well you talk the talk. People who go into the marketplace have to walk the walk.
 
Colleges can teach many valuable skills, but they can also nourish many dangerous illusions. If you really want to be of service to others, then let them decide what is a service by whether they choose to spend their hard-earned money for it.

Sowell is the author of Basic Economics, The Housing Boom and Bust and many other books about economics, education, race and other subjects.

Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 8:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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