Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finally. Killer Satellites and We Got 'Em


How about another case of double standards when it comes to the US? That's what we have here in this piece from NewScientist. Remember when China shot down their satellite? Not much protest over that one. But if we even put one in orbit to check out malfunctioning skyballs, we're accused by the socialists of starting the arms race in space. Of course the idiots criticizing the US are from the UN. God, we should quit the UN and throw every last one of them out.

Spy satellites turn their gaze onto each other

  • 24 January 2009
  • Magazine issue 2692. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

SPY satellites have a new role: as well as watching us they are now spying on each other.

The Pentagon admitted last week that it is using two covert inspection satellites developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to assess damage to a failed geostationary satellite - something no one suspected the US could do. If such satellites can get that close to a target, they could probably attack it.

The Department of Defense says its Mitex micro-satellites, which were launched in 2006, have been jetting around the geostationary ring and have now jointly inspected DSP 23, which was designed to pinpoint clandestine missile launches and nuclear tests, but which stopped working a year after its November 2007 launch. The micro-satellites are trying to nail the problem.

Theresa Hitchens, who becomes director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva this week, is troubled by the secrecy surrounding launch of the Mitex craft. It raises questions about their future use, including potential anti-satellite missions, she says.

"I am positive other nations, particularly China, will find this development suspicious - and the US behaviour regarding the programme as hypocritical, given that Washington is always chastising Beijing for its lack of transparency regarding its space programmes and intentions," she says.

First the Polar Bears, Now Its the Penguins


Yes, now its the cute, cuddly penguins who are the victims of globull worming. Of course its a "forecast" and its "likely" they will disappear and its based on the all knowing predictive models they keep changing when it suits them. Its a 40% chance it will come true and get this. Just like everywhere else on the planet, its getting cooler these last few years. Of course that can be explained away. So, read it and weep. (From NewScientist)

Melting ice could push penguins to extinction

Emperor penguins are likely to be melted out of house and home by climate change, according to a new study.

Earlier work suggests that Antarctica's penguins are already suffering from warming temperatures. Now a group of researchers have combined what is known about emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) ecology with forecasts from 10 leading climate change models to forecast the future of the species.

It doesn't look good. The models predict that, unless fossil fuels are phased out, there is more than a one-in-three chance that 95% of the Adélie Land colony of eastern Antarctica – the best studied emperor penguin colony – will be gone by 2100.

Bad odds

In this worst case "business as usual" scenario, where we continue to emit greenhouse gases, the penguin population could be reduced to just a few hundred breeding pairs, down from 3000 today and 6000 in the 1970s.

Henri Weimerskirch, an ecologist at the Chizé Centre for Biological Studies in France, and an author of the study, says there is no reason to think the Adélie Land penguins would be any worse affected than other colonies.

Weimerskirch's colleague Hal Caswell of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, says the odds aren't good. "If I offered you an investment with a 40% chance of losing 95% of your money, would you take it?" he says.

Vital ice

Penguins rely on floating sea ice to nest and feed. The way males incubate eggs, on tops of their feet, depends on having a level, smooth surface to shuffle over; and the krill they eat rely on small organisms that live on the underside of sea ice for their sustenance.

In the late 1970s, warmer temperatures brought a decline in sea ice and the Adélie Land colony shrank by half. It has been more or less stable since, and has even grown slightly in recent years, which Weimerskirch says is probably due to a slight regional cooling in eastern Antarctica.

However, Antarctic temperatures are warming overall and "there is a tight link between temperatures and the species' survival", says Weimerskirch. He adds that, regardless of some uncertainty in climate models, it is clear that by 2100 there will be much less sea ice in Antarctica.

Most concerning is that there are no signs that emperor penguins are adapting to changes in the climate.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0806638106)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hey, Let's Close Camp X-Ray (Gitmo) and Here's What We Can Look Forward To


How come I'm hearing about this from the Socialist Rag, The Guardian, UK? WTF? Needless to say, this is the least we can expect from closing Gitmo. Sheesh. How can these idiots be so dense?

Former Guantánamo inmate named as al-Qaida deputy in Yemen

Revelation highlights risks of closing US military prison

A former inmate of Guantánamo Bay has emerged as the deputy leader of the al-Qaida network in Yemen, highlighting the risks presented by Barack Obama's decision to close the military prison.

Obama announced on Thursday that he is shutting Guantánamo Bay, where Yemenis form the largest single group among the 250 prisoners. Yemen is setting up a centre where more than 100 prisoners will undergo "rehabilitation" upon their release, but the return of Said Ali al-Shihri to the battlefield has raised questions about the dangers of returning so many former detainees to their homeland.

Confirmation that a previous inmate is involved in terrorist activities underscores criticism from Republicans that security issues are being overlooked in the Obama's long-trailed decision to close the controversial facility.

US officials said Shihri, 35, who is suspected of involvement in the bombing of the US embassy in Sana'a last September, was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation programme for former jihadists before resurfacing in Yemen.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the group is known, identified Shihri as its deputy leader in an internet statement.

"The lesson here is: whoever receives former Guantánamo detainees needs to keep a close eye on them," an official told the New York Times.

The Pentagon has admitted that 61 former prisoners – 12% of the 510 released – have returned to the battlefield.

The president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is billed as a key US ally in what the Bush administration called the "war on terror", though his country, the poorest in the Arab world, has been seen in recent months as a growth area for al-Qaida while it is in retreat elsewhere in the Middle East.

Yemen, ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, sent large numbers of young men to wage jihad in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet war, with many returning to fight for al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia.

Reports from Sana'a said the rehabilitation centre was being built with US government assistance. It has triggered criticism from human rights activists, who say it would be tantamount to continued imprisonment for the released detainees.

Yemeni official media said that in the new facility inmates would undergo a series of "edification programmes based on moderation to shun extremism and terrorism". It would also accommodate the inmates' families.

It appears to mirror the Saudi programme, which western and Arab governments have praised for its success in "re-educating" repentant jihadis, though human rights groups have criticised the methods employed.

"To rehabilitate a former prisoner, you don't need to put him behind bars again," Khaled al-Anesi, of the Sana'a-based human rights organisation Hood, told Arab News. "The rehabilitation act is in the prisoners' interest, but rejailing them is not."

Salih has been accused of taking a lax approach to extremists, especially after 23 prisoners tunnelled their way out of prison in 2006 amid reports of collusion between officials and militants. Western diplomats say Salih had "understandings" with al-Qaida that it would be left alone to recruit fighters for the Iraq war if it did not attack inside Yemen. He has pursued a programme of "dialogue" under which jihadis are allowed to go free if they promise to mend their ways. Yemen's programme of "surrender and release" for terrorists has officially been described as "lenient" by the US.

One Last Chance to Save the Planet & It Must Be This Century!!



Yikes!! The brainiac behind the Gaia theory says the sky is falling. And its coming at us like a runaway train. By the end of the century we're toast. Its interesting though that he pans a lot of the current crap that masquerades as solutions. See below for the interview with Lovelock found in the current issue of NewScientist. Alarmism par excellence. Heh.

With his 90th birthday in July, a trip into space scheduled for later in the year and a new book out next month, 2009 promises to be an exciting time for James Lovelock. But the originator of the Gaia theory, which describes Earth as a self-regulating planet, has a stark view of the future of humanity. He tells Gaia Vince we have one last chance to save ourselves - and it has nothing to do with nuclear power

Your work on atmospheric chlorofluorocarbons led eventually to a global CFC ban that saved us from ozone-layer depletion. Do we have time to do a similar thing with carbon emissions to save ourselves from climate change?

Not a hope in hell. Most of the "green" stuff is verging on a gigantic scam. Carbon trading, with its huge government subsidies, is just what finance and industry wanted. It's not going to do a damn thing about climate change, but it'll make a lot of money for a lot of people and postpone the moment of reckoning. I am not against renewable energy, but to spoil all the decent countryside in the UK with wind farms is driving me mad. It's absolutely unnecessary, and it takes 2500 square kilometres to produce a gigawatt - that's an awful lot of countryside.

What about work to sequester carbon dioxide?

That is a waste of time. It's a crazy idea - and dangerous. It would take so long and use so much energy that it will not be done.

Do you still advocate nuclear power as a solution to climate change?

It is a way for the UK to solve its energy problems, but it is not a global cure for climate change. It is too late for emissions reduction measures.

So are we doomed?

There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste - which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering - into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast.

Would it make enough of a difference?

Yes. The biosphere pumps out 550 gigatonnes of carbon yearly; we put in only 30 gigatonnes. Ninety-nine per cent of the carbon that is fixed by plants is released back into the atmosphere within a year or so by consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms. What we can do is cheat those consumers by getting farmers to burn their crop waste at very low oxygen levels to turn it into charcoal, which the farmer then ploughs into the field. A little CO2 is released but the bulk of it gets converted to carbon. You get a few per cent of biofuel as a by-product of the combustion process, which the farmer can sell. This scheme would need no subsidy: the farmer would make a profit. This is the one thing we can do that will make a difference, but I bet they won't do it.

Do you think we will survive?

I'm an optimistic pessimist. I think it's wrong to assume we'll survive 2 °C of warming: there are already too many people on Earth. At 4 °C we could not survive with even one-tenth of our current population. The reason is we would not find enough food, unless we synthesised it. Because of this, the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 per cent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less. It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It's happening again.

I don't think humans react fast enough or are clever enough to handle what's coming up. Kyoto was 11 years ago. Virtually nothing's been done except endless talk and meetings.

I don't think we can react fast enough or are clever enough to handle what's coming up

It's a depressing outlook.

Not necessarily. I don't think 9 billion is better than 1 billion. I see humans as rather like the first photosynthesisers, which when they first appeared on the planet caused enormous damage by releasing oxygen - a nasty, poisonous gas. It took a long time, but it turned out in the end to be of enormous benefit. I look on humans in much the same light. For the first time in its 3.5 billion years of existence, the planet has an intelligent, communicating species that can consider the whole system and even do things about it. They are not yet bright enough, they have still to evolve quite a way, but they could become a very positive contributor to planetary welfare.

How much biodiversity will be left after this climatic apocalypse?

We have the example of the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum event 55 million years ago. About the same amount of CO2 was put into the atmosphere as we are putting in and temperatures rocketed by about 5 °C over about 20,000 years. The world became largely desert. The polar regions were tropical and most life on the planet had the time to move north and survive. When the planet cooled they moved back again. So there doesn't have to be a massive extinction. It's already moving: if you live in the countryside as I do you can see the changes, even in the UK.

If you were younger, would you be fearful?

No, I have been through this kind of emotional thing before. It reminds me of when I was 19 and the second world war broke out. We were very frightened but almost everyone was so much happier. We're much better equipped to deal with that kind of thing than long periods of peace. It's not all bad when things get rough. I'll be 90 in July, I'm a lot closer to death than you, but I'm not worried. I'm looking forward to being 100.

Profile

James Lovelock is a British chemist, inventor and environmentalist. He is best known for formulating the controversial Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s, which states that organisms interact with and regulate Earth's surface and atmosphere. Later this year he will travel to space as Richard Branson's guest aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. His latest book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia, is published by Basic Books in February.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big Brother Just There to Help



Hmmmm. Let's see. Riding around in a van and taking pictures of peoples houses covertly at night is just "helping" according to this article in the Guardian, UK. Some would call it spying but hey, what's a little socialism among friends. Oh, by the way, the plan is to shame you into action. Of course its all in the name of glowbull worming. Heh.

The heat is on

Still haven't got round to insulating your home? Hi-tech detector vans are hitting the streets to shame you into action. Alok Jha reports


To the casual observer, there is something distinctly creepy about the silver van I'm crouching inside. On a pitch-black winter evening, we're crawling the streets of Reading, taking pictures of every home we pass.

Surrounded by computers in the back of the van, thermal surveyor Chris Brind points to a screen displaying a camera feed. Ghostly multicoloured images of houses flicker in front of him. "White will be really hot, the lowest temperature will be blue," he says. Snug in their homes on this cold, rainy evening, no one indoors has any idea that their houses are being inspected.

Fortunately for these unsuspecting homeowners, Brind and his van are here to help. The images - real-time snapshots of heat escaping from a building - will be familiar to anyone who has seen thermal pictures of public buildings, including City offices and the houses of parliament, taken by energy campaigners to show how much energy is leaking out. Brind's company, Heatseekers, has been working in partnership with 25 local authorities across Britain since last October. It hopes that by confronting homeowners with visual evidence of exactly how their buildings are wasting heat (and money) it will galvanise them into tackling the problem.

Energy efficiency in homes is an urgent, if unloved, issue: around a third of the UK's carbon emissions come from the energy needed to heat buildings, and a lot of that energy is wasted. Put simply, the Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian homes many of us live in are terrible at keeping in the heat. On cold nights, their uninsulated walls and lofts do a great job of warming the outside air, at the expense of the planet and our wallets: experts estimate that one pound in three spent on household energy bills is wasted.

This results in more CO2 in the atmosphere than all of Britain's flights and is equivalent to all emissions from cars. If we could get a lid on it, the climate benefits would be vast.

"In the UK alone, there are probably eight million properties that require insulation of some sort," says Keith Hewitson, director of Heatseekers. "If you're looking at getting cavity wall insulation and good quality roof insulation, to a depth of about 250mm, you could save £200 to £300 per year on fuel bills."

The difficulty is getting that message across to householders. Endless government schemes offering financial incentives to insulate homes have come and gone for decades, with limited results. Heatseekers thinks its images will reverse many people's inaction. "When they see an image of their property, they can see exactly what's escaping from their house," says Hewitson.

The surveys are carried out in the winter months, with shifts starting late in the evening when temperatures drop and householders crank up their heating. The colder the surrounding air, the more clearly warm walls show up on the pictures. Driving down a street at 10mph, surveyors can take energy snapshots of up to 1,000 homes an hour.

After the images have been recorded, energy advisers pinpoint homes they think need attention - usually ones with no insulation or those with patches that don't seem to be working - and call on them a few days later to offer a face-to-face consultation. Typically advisers will help the householders to arrange quotes and provide information on government-funded schemes such as Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (Cert), which can pay some or all of the costs for any work needed.

Part-time receptionist Kirsten Chapman from Leicestershire had her house scanned late last year before she was visited by a Heatseekers energy adviser. Chapman says it was immediately clear that her home was leaking energy. "It opened my eyes. Had I seen the pictures years ago, I probably would have taken steps to insulate sooner." Like much of Britain's housing stock, Chapman's semi-detached home, built in the 1960s without any insulation, needs loft and wall cavity insulation. The work will cost several hundred pounds but she is convinced that it won't be long before it pays for itself.

Thermal images can also reveal faulty seals around windows that might need replacing, chimneys and garage doors that are surreptitiously leaking heat, or show whether any double glazing that has been installed is doing its job properly.

In the three months since Heatseekers started its surveys it has grown from a one-van operation to a fleet of seven. Hewitson says councils have been lining up to use the company to survey their streets. "Currently we're working with local authorities from the Isle of Wight to the north-east. By the end of this year we should b e working with 30 to 40 local authorities."

Reading council was one of the first to ask Heatseekers to drive along its streets and, so far, 6,000 homes have been surveyed, paid for by Cert. "There's a direct benefit for local people, especially those on low incomes," says councillor Paul Gittings. He points out that the Cert scheme can cover the entire cost of insulation for those on benefits or a low income. In an attempt to tackle fuel poverty and climate change, the council aims to survey all their homes and then insulate 5,000 houses over three years - around half of the estimated need in the town.

Chapman says people approached with a thermal image of their homes should take the time to sit down with an energy adviser. "Don't dismiss it - it's easy to do that when people knock on your door, but when you see the images, it's an eye-opener".

• Grants are available for cavity wall and loft insulation. Go to energysavingtrust.org.uk/gid to search the Energy Saving Trust database for information relevant to your area, or call it on 0800 512 012.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

NewScientist Reacts to Obama Speech



How do the socialists view the "big" speech yesterday? One need only look at NewScientist. Under the guise of commenting on the new president's views on science, they manage to work in opinions on the other "evils" of America. What a bunch of Jerks.

If you get a chance, check out the comments after the article. They provide further insight into their views of us.

Obama to restore science to its rightful place

So, the 44th president of the United States has spoken. And what he said will please many supporters of science. Likewise, without explicitly mentioning the environment, president Barack Obama made it clear in his inaugural address today that the US needs to tackle global warming and switch to renewable sources of energy.

The speech will also please internationalists who feel that the US has lost touch with the rest of the world. Significantly for a US president, but less surprising given his African heritage, Obama called on Americans to reach out to and help the world's poorest citizens, clearly referring to the humanitarian and agricultural crises in parts of Africa.

But the nod to open science will be most welcome, given the political and ideological interference of his predecessor, who obstructed stem cell research and only grudgingly accepted that humans are driving climate change.

"We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost," said Obama.

In his next sentence, he committed Americans to break their love affair with oil. "We will harness the Sun and the winds and soil to fuel our cars and run our factories," he said.

Later, he reinforced this promise, saying "we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet."

This, he said, would require Americans to make sacrifices, presumably driving less and consuming energy, water and other resources more thriftily. "Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed," he said.

Finite resources

Then, in a vow to help the world's poor, he reminded Americans that the world's resources are finite, and can't be consumed excessively without damaging others and the planet:

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds," said Obama. "And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect," he warned. "For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

Whether this will mean more money for agricultural research in poorer countries remains to be seen. Recently, the US threatened to withdraw money from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), an institutional lynchpin for such research.

Likewise, it may mean that Obama will lift George W Bush's moratorium on funding international projects in family planning. That could provide funds for abortion and contraception abroad. Again, both are key to enabling women to take charge of their lives and take steps themselves to limit the size of their families to what they can manage.

No more freeloading

Closer to home, Obama promised to try and tackle the country's healthcare crisis, at a time when a third of Americans lack basic healthcare insurance. "Our health care is too costly; our school fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our enemies and threaten our planet."

Obama also hinted strongly that he wants America to become a less frivolous, more sober country, less obsessed with selfishness greed and more willing to fulfil duties to others rather than insist on rights.

"The time has come to set aside childish things…to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea." And he warned the financial institutions that the time for freeloading is over, and the time for more economic equality is nigh. "This crisis [of the economy] has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of a control and that a nationa cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous," he said.

Finally, he reminds Americans of something that geneticists and humanitarians have long argued: that human beings are pretty much the same the world over, whatever their race or religion, and so are equally entitled to peace and prosperity. "We cannot but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Sky is Falling!! But Is It Really?



More nutiness and alarmism from our friends at the Guardian. We're told that the situation is dire. Check out the solutions proposed at the end of the article. The US must emit 1/10th per capita the CO2 we now emit. The Brits and Japanese should emit 1/5th of current emissions.

Notice too that this crap is based on the IPCC (what a joke) prediction of a 2C rise in temperature. They've looked at 30 years of data and make these insane predictions. Sounds like 5K years ago (a short time in the climate spectrum) things were worse. Can you say "climate variation"?

Glaciers melt 'at fastest rate in past 5,000 years'


The world's glaciers are melting faster than at any time since records began, threatening catastrophe for hundreds of millions of people and their eco-systems.

The details are revealed in the latest report from the World Glacier Monitoring Service and will add to growing alarm about the rise in sea levels and increased instances of flooding, avalanches and drought.

Based on historical records and other evidence, the rate at which the glaciers are melting is also thought to be faster that at any time in the past 5,000 years, said Professor Wilfried Haeberli, director of the monitoring service. 'There's no absolute proof, but nevertheless the evidence is strong: this is really extraordinary.'

Experts have been monitoring 30 glaciers around the world for nearly three decades and the most recent figures, for 2006, show the biggest ever 'net loss' of ice. Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told The Observer that melting glaciers were now the 'loudest and clearest' warning signal of global warming.

The problem could lead to failing infrastructure, mass migration and even conflict. 'We're talking about something that happens in your and my lifespan. We're not talking about something hypothetical, we're talking about something dramatic in its consequences,' he said

Lester Brown, of the influential US-based Earth Policy Institute, said the problem would have global ramifications, as farmers in China and India struggled to irrigate their crops.

'This is the biggest predictable effect on food security in history as far as I know,' said Brown.

Based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's mid-range prediction that global temperatures will rise 2C above their long-term average, UNEP last year warned of further dramatic declines in glaciers by the end of the century.

The revelation that the world's glaciers are in retreat came as Tony Blair began a series of high-level environmental meetings in Japan, China and India as the leader of a new international team charged with securing a global deal on climate change. In a speech yesterday in Chiba, Japan, Blair said that the world now faced catastrophe.

'We have reached the critical moment of decision on climate change,' he said. 'Failure to act now would be deeply and unforgivably irresponsible. The scale of what is needed is so great that the purpose of any global action is not to ameliorate or to make better our carbon dependence; it is to transform the nature of economies and societies in terms of carbon consumption and emissions.

'If the average person in the US is, say, to emit per capita, one-tenth of what they do today and those in the UK or Japan one-fifth, we're not talking of adjustment, we're talking about a revolution.'

The key to that revolution was a vastly increased use of nuclear power across the world, he added.

Blair is also scheduled to meet Yasuo Fukuda, Japan's Prime Minister, and members of the Indian and Chinese governments.

How Ironic or Moronic?



I vote for ironic. From the ToL, the folks in the UK Met Office (weather geeks) have a new toy and guess what? It spews carbon equivalent to 2400 homes in the UK. But it will make their 4 day forecasts much more accurate. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Met Office forecasts a supercomputer embarrassment

A new £33m machine purchased to calculate how climate change will affect Britain, has a giant carbon footprint of its own

For the Met Office the forecast is considerable embarrassment. It has spent £33m on a new supercomputer to calculate how climate change will affect Britain – only to find the new machine has a giant carbon footprint of its own.

“The new supercomputer, which will become operational later this year, will emit 14,400 tonnes of CO2 a year,” said Dave Britton, the Met Office’s chief press officer. This is equivalent to the CO2 emitted by 2,400 homes – generating an average of six tonnes each a year.

The Met Office recently published some of its most drastic predictions for future climate change. It warned: “If no action is taken to curb global warming temperatures are likely to rise by 5.5ºC and could rise as much as 7ºC above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Early and rapid reductions in CO2 emissions are required to avoid significant impacts of climate change.”

However, when it came to buying a new supercomputer, the Met Office decided not to heed its own warnings. The ironic problem was that it needed the extra computing power to improve the accuracy of its own climate predictions as well as its short-term weather forecasting. The machine will also improve its ability to predict extreme events such as fierce localised storms, cloudbursts and so on.

Alan Dickinson, Met Office Director of Science and Technology, said: “We recognise that running such massive computers consumes huge amounts of power and that our actions in weather and climate prediction, like all our actions, have an impact on the environment. We will be taking actions to minimise this impact.”

Dickinson believes, however, that the new computer will actually help Britain cut carbon emissions on a far greater scale than those it emits. He said: “Our next supercomputer will bring an acceleration in action on climate change through climate mitigation and adaptation measures as a consequence of a clearer understanding of risk. Ultimately this will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Machines like the Met Office’s new computer are important tools in the battle to slow climate change. They are the only way to assess the potential impact of rising CO2 levels over the coming years and decades.

This is because producing even a short-range weather forecast requires billions of calculations, something that would take weeks to do by hand. Computers enable forecasts to be generated in time to be useful.

Dickinson said: “Our existing supercomputer and its associated hardware produce 10,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, but this is a fraction of the CO2 emissions we save through our work. We estimate that for the European aviation industry alone our forecasts save emissions close to 3m tonnes by improving efficiency.

“Our next supercomputer will bring an acceleration in action on climate change through climate mitigation and adaptation measures as a consequence of a clearer understanding of risk. Ultimately this will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

When it is finally completed, around 2011 the Met Office machine will be the second most powerful machine in Britain with a total peak performance approaching 1 PetaFlop — equivalent to over 100,000 PCs and over 30 times more powerful than what is in place today.

However, supercomputers and data centres require vast amounts of power – a problem that increasingly confronts the global information technology industry. Last week Google admitted its systems generate 0.2g of CO2 per search, even though each one lasts just 0.2 seconds.

The Met Office in numbers

- performs 125 trillion calculations each second

- £260 million benefit to the UK economy from Met Office forecast

- 74 lives saved a year through our forecasts

- it will make out four-day forecasts as good as our one-day forecasts 30 years ago

- it is the second most powerful supercomputer in the UK

Monday, January 19, 2009

4 Years to Fix It or Else!!!



Oh no! Only 4 years for the messiah to fix globull worming. This from that "nut job" James Hansen via the Guardian. Too bad Bush didn't dump this chump long ago. I can't understand why not. Anyway, see the article below for the latest dire warning. Jeez.

President 'has four years to save Earth'

US must take the lead to avert eco-disaster

Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.

Soaring carbon emissions are already causing ice-cap melting and threaten to trigger global flooding, widespread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns in the near future. "We cannot afford to put off change any longer," said Hansen. "We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead."

Hansen said current carbon levels in the atmosphere were already too high to prevent runaway greenhouse warming. Yet the levels are still rising despite all the efforts of politicians and scientists.

Only the US now had the political muscle to lead the world and halt the rise, Hansen said. Having refused to recognise that global warming posed any risk at all over the past eight years, the US now had to take a lead as the world's greatest carbon emitter and the planet's largest economy. Cap-and-trade schemes, in which emission permits are bought and sold, have failed, he said, and must now be replaced by a carbon tax that will imposed on all producers of fossil fuels. At the same time, there must be a moratorium on new power plants that burn coal - the world's worst carbon emitter.

Hansen - head of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies and winner of the WWF's top conservation award - first warned Earth was in danger from climate change in 1988 and has been the victim of several unsuccessful attempts by the White House administration of George Bush to silence his views.

Hansen's institute monitors temperature fluctuations at thousands of sites round the world, data that has led him to conclude that most estimates of sea level rises triggered by rising atmospheric temperatures are too low and too conservative. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says a rise of between 20cm and 60cm can be expected by the end of the century.

However, Hansen said feedbacks in the climate system are already accelerating ice melt and are threatening to lead to the collapse of ice sheets. Sea-level rises will therefore be far greater - a claim backed last week by a group of British, Danish and Finnish scientists who said studies of past variations in climate indicate that a far more likely figure for sea-level rise will be about 1.4 metres, enough to cause devastating flooding of many of the world's major cities and of low-lying areas of Holland, Bangladesh and other nations.

As a result of his fears about sea-level rise, Hansen said he had pressed both Britain's Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences to carry out an urgent investigation of the state of the planet's ice-caps. However, nothing had come of his proposals. The first task of Obama's new climate office should therefore be to order such a probe "as a matter of urgency", Hansen added.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Uh Oh! Car Exhaust Increases Lightning Strikes



Just when you thought it was safe to go outside, here's yet another hazard to worry about. Car exhaust is not only bad to breathe but it can now increase the likelihood of getting electrocuted. This according to NewScientist.

Pretty soon we'll have to stay indoors or face life outside with a gasmask and lightning rod. I'd like to tell the eggheads where to stick that lightning rod.

Car exhaust fumes cause lightning strikes

  • 15 January 2009

COMMUTERS' car exhaust doesn't just warm the globe - it can also increase lightning strikes for miles around.

During the working week, air pollution rises because of all the vehicles on the road. This effect has been shown to modify rainfall patterns both at the weekend and during the week by creating stronger updrafts of air and bigger clouds.

Now it seems weekday pollution can bring lightning as well as rain. Daniel Rosenfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and colleagues, counted strikes recorded across the US by the ground-based National Lightning Detection Network in June to August, from 1998 to 2008.

In the south-eastern states, lightning strikes increased with pollution by as much as 25 per cent during the working week. The moist, muggy air in this region creates low-lying clouds with plenty of space to rise and generate the charge needed for an afternoon thunderstorm.

Surprisingly, the effect was not strongest within big cities with high pollution, but in the suburbs and rural areas surrounding them. "There is a misconception that if you get away from cities, you get away from the pollution. Actually, it follows you for hundreds of miles," says Rosenfeld, who presented the research at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December.

He says the heat generated by urban areas may locally override pollution's effect on lightning.

Climate Change vs. Economics



Hey, are they coming to their senses in the U.K.? When it comes to climate change the Brits are all over the it. They have signed on to the EU emissions reduction targets and have insane guidelines when in comes to new projects.

So, this is some good news when it comes to the rubber meeting the road. A new runway at Heathrow airport looks to be moving forward despite objections of Greenpeace and other environmental crazies. Economics and common sense prevail.

What about jobs at Heathrow?

The TUC supports the government's environmental aims, but a third runway promises 150,000 local jobs in a faltering economy

Those of us who have come to the view that the economic importance of Heathrow to the UK economy is too great to put at risk will also be holding the government and BAA to their commitments to meet their local environment tests and to reduce the UK's overall CO2 emissions.

A third runway and an increase in air traffic must meet more than just the government's three local environmental criteria – noise pollution, EU air quality guidelines and improved public transport. It must also be consistent with reductions in the UK's overall CO2 emissions. Today's announcement that Greenpeace plans to sell off plots in a field in Sipson reveals the depth of feeling against expansion locally, and more seriously, the current lack of belief that these tests can be met.

But in these troubled economic times, securing decent new jobs to help replace the many being lost on a daily basis is an increasingly important factor. A third Heathrow runway would create and sustain around 150,000 jobs, or around one in six jobs in the airport's west London catchment area. A great deal of local direct employment and income is related to Heathrow. The competitiveness of this huge employment hub matters to thousands of working people locally. Expansion is likely to bring a net economic benefit of around £5bn after climate costs are taken into account. These economic issues cannot be ignored, and form an integral part of the equation.

Unions believe that many of the environmental and climate change challenges would be addressed through investment in public transport. This investment would generate further employment for the long term. Hence the TUC has been pressing the government to make Heathrow a genuine travel hub. Public transport links to Heathrow are very poor, with only just over a third of air passengers (36%) arriving by tube, bus or train.

Low-cost, high-speed rail links are essential from the south-west and from the north, and to link Heathrow to the Eurostar network. We welcome signals from government that a new rail network would form part of its plans, as part of the longer-term solution to road transport-related noise and air quality concerns around Heathrow.

The climate change impacts of aviation growth are perhaps the most overriding concern. Greenhouse gas increases from the aviation sector must be consistent with the UK and Europe's overall climate change objectives, especially the tough challenge of cutting our CO2 by up to a third by 2020.

This is why we have strongly supported the inclusion of aviation emissions within the EU's emission trading scheme. From 2012, aviation CO2 will be capped and priced – years ahead of the third runway at Heathrow. We welcomed the conclusions of the Turner committee, Building a low-carbon economy in Britain, which set two conditions for the aviation industry within the UK's five-year carbon budgets. First, aviation must pay an appropriate price for carbon to reduce its CO2 emissions and second, the government must ensure that total emissions from all the UK's industrial and transport sectors, taken together, decline in line with the government's targets for 2020 and 2050 (a cut of 80% in CO2 emissions).

This means that any shortfall in CO2 reductions in difficult to reduce sectors, such as aviation, are offset by more rapid reductions in other industries. A balance must be struck between economic and environmental issues. This is not a time to put Heathrow jobs at risk.

PC Climate Change Gone Nuts!!!



Check out the latest madness from that midwest bastion of liberalism DBA as Madison, WI. Are they nuts or what? I haven't heard that they're taxing cow farts yet but you can bet that its the next item on the city's agenda. This craziness is surely related to the amount of cheese consumed/produced in the great state of Wisconsin.


City of Madison, Wis. Eyes Draconian Zoning Ordinances to 'Adapt to Climate Change'
Liberal Wisconsin capital would limit development, tree removal, fast food restaurants and parking to promote 'sustainability.'

By Jeff Poor
Business & Media Institute
1/14/2009 12:20:24 PM


Call this a case of liberalism via central planning gone wild.

In one of the most politically left-of-center cities east of Berkeley, Calif., ideas put forth at city hall in Madison, Wis. would dramatically limit free enterprise and personal liberty, all in the name of environmental sustainability.

According to the “Broad Strategies” section of a meeting agenda recently posted on the City of Madison Web site, an ordinance being considered would force city zoning to account for and mitigate climate change:

10. Zoning should adapt to meet the demands of climate change; use zoning to address or mitigate effects, or adapt to climate change; remove any barriers to mitigating the effects, adapting to climate change (trees, green space, mobility, renewable energy, land use).

Another item in the “Broad Strategies” section has a grim outlook for the future. It includes a proposal that spells out a doomsday scenario – allowing for the city to function should shortages in energy and food occur:

11. Write the code to allow the city to function when automobile travel will be severely limited and oil-related products, including food and heating fuel, become prohibitively expensive because of the scarcity and high-cost of fuel.

Other proposals throughout the document would push for use of alternative energies (solar, geothermal and wind), conservation, electric cars and urban agriculture. Other more Draconian regulations throughout the document would:

  • Limit waterfront development in the name of water sustainability,
  • Require two trees to be planted if one is removed from your property
  • Limit the “number/density of fast food outlets and drive-through windows” in the name of public health
  • Discourage individual parking options to promote public transportation usage

Madison is the state of Wisconsin’s capital and home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With a very low industrial base and few blue-collar workers, it has a reputation for being politically liberal, based on a high concentration of government employees, academics and students within its city limits.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back To The Future?



More idiocy from the Guardian UK. Here's a unique solution to Glowbull Worming. Let's go back to the ways of the 19th century. How about a proposal to use more wood for fuel? Forget that this still generates the dreaded CO2 emissions. It will create jobs and improve the quality of life. Yeah sure. How come they don't advocate nuclear power. No emissions and new job creation. Not even considered. Oh, that's right. Nuclear = bad. Greenpeace is against it so it has to be bad, right? Are they crazy or what?

Time to look at the benefits of growing and using more wood

In the search for policies that will meet the aims of providing jobs and meeting the UK's climate change targets, two major areas stand out as excellent ways of generating jobs quickly, writes Chris Goodall from Carbon Commentary, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Government officials are searching for policies that will meet the twin aims of providing jobs and meeting the UK's climate change targets. It is proving a difficult task. The easiest ways of reducing fossil fuel use will probably not create many new jobs in the UK. All large wind turbines are built abroad and although the construction work on a nuclear power station will generate a few thousand jobs, most of the key components will need to come from Europe and Japan. So where are the opportunities? I think two major areas stand out as excellent ways of generating jobs quickly without also dragging in expensive imports or sharply raising prices.

One opportunity is well understood. The UK's houses are the worst insulated in northern Europe and the scope for improvement is clear. The other idea is newer. I think that massively increasing the availability and use of wood for fuel can generate large numbers of jobs both in forestry and in business such as horticulture that can productively use the cheap heat from small wood-burning power stations.

Housing
Initially government seems to have hoped that the clear need for improved heat retention means that the insulation industry could be used as a way of generating large numbers of jobs as an army of installers laid thick wads of cladding in UK lofts. But once the Department of Energy and Climate Change had worked out the numbers, it looked as though the potential for extra employment was limited.

I think that the department was far too pessimistic when it looked at the opportunity. Although it is true that almost all UK houses now have loft insulation, remarkably few have a thick enough layer. Most commentators say that increasing the thickness to at least 25cm (10 inches) will save more in central heating bills than it costs. My estimate is that at least 15 million homes could profitably increase their loft insulation to this level. A large-scale programme of installation would reduce UK gas consumption and provide tens of thousands of jobs for several years.

However, lofts should not be the biggest focus of the green new deal. They are responsible for less than 10% of the heating losses of a typical house. Far more heat leaves through walls, windows, and floors. Surprisingly, almost as much energy is lost through doors as through the roof. Losses from draughts are also far more important than the loft. A sustained national programme to improve the heat retention characteristics of our housing would be hugely beneficial. It would reduce fuel bills, cut the UK's use of insecure supplies of Russian gas, and provide the prospect of employment for hundreds of thousands of people in manufacturing and installation industries. We should be installing cavity wall insulation in millions of homes, replacing leaky single-glazed windows, carefully repairing draughty floors and walls, and hanging properly insulated well-fitting doors. All simple and straightforward measures that can be taken using British-made goods and newly trained people. More complicated schemes such as re-cladding blocks of flats make even more sense financially, but will require us to import some skills and products from Europe. For the average house, a saving of 30% of the heating bill is easily achievable.

How would we finance this programme? We can copy the successful features of the German eco-renovation policies which are now systematically reducing energy use in several hundred thousand homes each year. Through soft loans, grants for achieving energy reduction targets, and other measures, householders and landlords have been incentivised to take measures that sometimes cut domestic heat need by 80% or more. The German government claims that the cost per tonne of carbon saved is impressively low and trumpets that household emissions of greenhouse gases have fallen by a third since 1990. This finding chimes with what we already know: house insulation makes financial sense and people just need the right incentives and advice. The Energy and Climate Change people should look again at the scope of generating jobs and reducing emissions.

Woodland
The UK is one of the least forested countries in the temperate world. Only about 11% of the land area is covered by trees. Simply planting more trees would have value: they will soak up CO2, reduce the risk of catastrophic flooding in times of intense storms, and possibly help reduce summer peak temperatures. Of course people would be employed planting and looking after the trees. But the even more important objective is to reduce fossil fuel use by replacing coal and gas. In other northern countries, wood fuel provides a substantial fraction of total heat needs through district heating systems that burn the wood in central plants and then distribute hot water to local homes. This replaces the need to use gas or oil. Increasingly, these wood-fuelled heating plants are also generating electricity as well using turbines. The UK could aim to install thousands of small-scale wood-burning (or, more likely, wood gasification) plants dotted around forested areas.

There's little competition from other users for wood in many areas of the country. Even in woodlands close to major cities, such as the Chilterns, prime wood is increasingly left unused. Beautiful wooded areas won't stay that way if we don't manage them properly. Creating a market for wood by encouraging the growth of small-scale local electricity generators is an excellent way of incentivising proper care of our woodlands.

How much difference could a major reforestation plan make? Moving the UK from 11 to 12% forest cover would add 250,000 hectares of woodland. Fast-growing species might produce a yearly yield of up to 10 tonnes per hectare, with enough energy to replace over 5% of our electricity need for ever, as well as huge amounts of useful heat. The reduction in UK emissions is potentially worth tens of millions of tonnes a year. But is it a feasible target to increase woodlands by 250,000 hectares? Think of it this way: China has reforested 4 million hectares every year for the last two decades. So of course it is possible and, moreover, much of the employment would be in areas of low incomes and poor job prospects. Planting and nurturing young trees is a skilled job, and these skills have atrophied in the UK in recent years. But given the right incentives, traditional farmers could hire and train the people needed to plant large areas of fast-growing coppices.

The best use for the heat from wood-using power plants would be in homes and other buildings such as offices and schools. But we should also use spare heat for a new generation of horticultural greenhouses. The fall in the value of the pound has made imported fruit and vegetables expensive. We could grow much more food in the UK using cheap heat and some electricity from small wood power stations for glasshouses. The great advantage of this is that horticulture is highly labour intensive and so it can revive areas of limited prosperity such as Cornwall. Replacing Dutch and Spanish fruit and vegetables with home-produced products in greenhouses heated by local wood could transform the economic prospects of parts of the UK. The percentage of the Dutch labour force working in agriculture is almost three times the level here and widely available cheap heat could pull the UK back up towards the Dutch employment level.

Is such a plan financially possible? I think that at current prices for advanced small-scale electricity plants wood is probably just about economic as a source of heat and electricity. As with other low-carbon technologies, we need to reduce further the cost of the plant and equipment. This will happen as more small wood power stations are installed and manufacturing costs are reduced. With some sensible government support, a plan to reforest 1 or 2% of the UK clearly makes economic sense, not least because of its potential employment impact and for its effect on carbon reduction.

• This article was shared by our content partner Carbon Commentary, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Incandescent Light Bulbs Disappear From the U.K.



Via the Guardian in the UK. Is this what's in store for the U.S.? You betcha! When you have socialism and decisions are made for you, this is what you get. No choices. No market driven forces to move lighting technology forward. Just the one sided viewpoint from environmental lobby and political correctness forcing change. It's madness!!!! Socialism sucks.

Lights out for traditional bulbs by 2012

The plug will be pulled on nearly all conventional lightbulbs after supermarkets and energy suppliers agreed to gradually phase out incandescent bulbs from next year, the government said yesterday.

The initiative, announced by environment secretary Hilary Benn in Bournemouth, is expected to save 5m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and be completed by 2012.

The old lightbulbs are being rapidly replaced by low-energy bulbs, which cost more to buy but last up to 12 times as long and use nearly 80% less electricity.

But the government's voluntary initiative was criticised by environmental groups and other political parties, who argued that it was weak compared with initiatives in other countries. Australia has banned conventional bulbs beyond 2009.

Yesterday many stores said they were in favour. Currys has agreed to stop selling the bulbs by the end of this year, Habitat by 2009, Woolworths, the Co-op, Asda, Morrison's, and Sainsbury's by 2010, and Tesco by 2011. Only Somerfield has declined to give a date for a complete phase-out.

Greenpeace director John Sauven said: "The government needs to go further and introduce tough mandatory efficiency standards rather than relying on weak voluntary initiatives. For every year of delay in getting rid of these bulbs, 5m tonnes of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere unnecessarily."

Opposition parties urged the government to go further. "New standards should also seek to phase out stand-by. Instead, the EU has just announced an anti-dumping tariff on imports of energy-saving bulbs from China which will make them more expensive," said Chris Huhne, the Lib Dems' environment spokesman.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ten Global Warming Truths to Keep Us Sane in 2009

Courtesy of the Heartland Institute.

Ten Global Warming Truths to Keep Us Sane in 2009

Written By: James M. Taylor
Published In: Heartland Perspectives > January 2009
Publication date: 01/05/2009
Publisher: The Heartland Institute

Sound science put to rest numerous unsubstantiated global warming scares in 2008. Sensationalist predictions that the North Pole would melt, polar bear numbers would decline, hurricanes would run amok, devastating droughts would occur, and Antarctic ice sheets would flood the southern seas never materialized.

Unfortunately, this will not stop the purveyors of gloom and doom from creating similar false global warming scares and sensationalist predictions for 2009.

Keeping in mind the following 10 global warming truths will help us avoid falling prey to global warming scams in the upcoming New Year.

Global temperatures are not rising. The warmest year in the past century occurred a full decade ago, in 1998. Temperatures have been gradually and steadily falling for most of the past decade. Temperatures in 2008 were no warmer than temperatures in 1980.

The Earth is colder than its long-term average. For most of the past 10,000 years, global temperatures have been 1.0 to 3.0 degrees Celsius warmer than our current climate. Twentieth century temperatures appear unusually warm only when compared to the preceding Little Ice Age, which had the coldest global temperatures of the past 10 millennia. The rise of human civilization occurred in a much warmer climate than that of today.

Polar bear populations are not declining; they’re thriving. The global polar bear population has more than doubled since the 1980s. Moreover, polar bears had no problems surviving and flourishing in the much warmer temperatures that dominated the past 10,000 years.

Polar ice is not shrinking. Arctic sea ice has moderately declined in recent years, due in large part to a recent shift in regional wind patterns. But in the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctic sea ice has been growing at a record pace. Polar ice as a whole is right on its long-term average.

Global warming is not causing more droughts. Throughout the twentieth century and since, global precipitation has been increasing, as has global soil moisture. A recent paper in one of the world’s foremost peer-reviewed science journals noted, “the terrestrial surface is literally becoming more like a gardener’s greenhouse”--an environment that is great for plant growth.

Higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are not killing sea life. Numerous recent studies show that aquatic ecosystems become more productive and robust under higher carbon dioxide conditions. Assertions that higher carbon dioxide concentrations cause harmful ocean acidification are unsupported by real-world evidence, ignore the prevalence of shellfish during prior geological periods when there was much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and would apply to only a small subset of aquatic creatures versus the vast majority of aquatic life that benefits from higher atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Global warming is not causing more extreme weather. The frequency of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme weather events is no greater now than in prior decades and centuries. Even daily high temperature records were more frequently broken 70 years ago, in the 1930s, than they are today.

Global warming is not melting Mt. Kilimanjaro’s alpine glacier. Temperatures at Mt. Kilimanjaro have been slightly cooling since at least the middle of the twentieth century, and those temperatures virtually never rise above freezing. Scientists have long known that deforestation at the base of the mountain is causing the mountaintop glacier to shrink, by reducing the moisture and resultant precipitation in mountain updrafts.

Global deserts are not growing. On the contrary, the Sahara Desert and others like it have been retreating for decades.

Scientists do not agree on a policy of alarmism. More than 32,000 scientists have signed a formal statement, prepared by a past president of the National Academy of Sciences and co-authored by an atmospheric scientist at Harvard University, saying there is no global warming crisis. By contrast, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has only 2,600 participants, many of whom are not scientists, and counts the staff of activist groups Environmental Defense and Greenpeace as its lead authors.


James M. Taylor (jtaylor@heartland.org) is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Migration Controls = RACISM!!!

That's right. If you want to control immigration you are a racist. Why is that you ask? Its because everyone has a right to the fruits of your labors. Forget about the strain it puts on social services (health care, education & law enforcement). Immigration is okay since its part of the free market economic principles. HUH? This is confirmed by a Harvard economist. One Lant Pritchett.

The bottom line is spread the wealth around. Its even mentioned in the post below!! Just another socialist plea. Or should I say communist plea.

January 6, 2009 11:45 AM

migration.jpgI like heretical ideas. Especially ones that make more sense the longer you think about them. So here is my New Year offering: let's open the world's borders to migrants.

It has always struck me as odd that we are so keen to allow the flow of cash and goods across borders without let or hindrance, but try so hard to deny the same rights to people. That is both unfair and a denial of the free-market theories on which much of the world's economy is built.

Surely if free trade and the free movement of capital is so good for an efficient global economy, then the same should apply to the free movement of labour?

I can't see the fault in that logic. And for the apostles of the free market to deny it reeks to me of racism and xenophobia. Worse, the stench is disguised by a cheap perfume of do-gooding development theory and environmental hand-wringing.

Until recently, I hadn't realised that there were economists around who agreed with me. But Lant Pritchett at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, does. I went to see him in Boston a few weeks ago.

He says that the current ever-tougher controls on migration into the rich world are the new apartheid of a globalised world economy - locking up poor people in prison-camp countries not so different from the hated Bantustans or "black African homelands" of apartheid-era South Africa.

After all, he says, a Vietnamese labourer would have nine times the purchasing power if she did the identical job in Japan. A Kenyan could be seven times better off in Britain. Tongan workers earn four times more in New Zealand, Mexicans seven times more in the US, and so on. Why not let them come?

But no. Instead, we ban the movement of people and "outsource" the jobs to places where pay is rock bottom - like Vietnam and Kenya and so on.

Except some jobs can't be moved. We do need some of these would-be migrants to do all kinds of menial jobs that even the poorest people in rich countries won't do. Jobs like picking grapes in California and oranges in Spain, cleaning toilets in Britain and hotel rooms in Italy, looking after babies in Washington and gratifying the libido of men from Tel Aviv to Toronto, Munich to Manchester, and Stockholm to Sydney.

So we look the other way while huddled masses are smuggled in. Criminalising millions of "economic migrants" delivers the goods while keeping this foreign underclass devoid of any rights. Because if they complain they will be sent home again.

At least South Africa was honest about what it was doing.

Those who think themselves progressives come up with lots of reasons why, regrettably, we have to keep tough controls on migration.

  • They pretend that even the keenest migrants are victims who would be better off back home. Nonsense.
  • They argue that migrants do more damage to the environment if they join us in the rich world. Which is one of the most despicable of self-serving green arguments.
  • And they hypothesise that migration is bad for the economies of the sending countries. That too may be largely poppycock. Economies are made up of people. The ultimate idea, surely, is to help people and not economies. And Pritchett points out that "two of every five living Mexicans who have escaped poverty did so by leaving Mexico; for Haitians it is four out of five."

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of poor people in poor countries already rely on remittances from relatives working in richer economies. Whole economies would collapse without this drip-feed of cash, which dwarfs international aid.

Remittances amount to a staggering 45% of the cash circulating in Tajikistan, mostly from construction workers in Russia. In Moldova, Europe's worst-faring economy, the figure is 38%, in Tonga 35%, in Lebanon 24%, and in Honduras, Guyana, Jordan, Haiti and Jamaica around 20%.

What is more, most of the remittance cash gets into the pockets of ordinary citizens rather than the Swiss bank accounts of their leaders or the salaries of western consultants.
This is good news. And Pritchett argues that extending the remittances economy by opening the borders to many more migrants is a sure-fire route to spreading the world's wealth around. In a global economic recession, it may be about the only way.

Pritchett, incidentally, is not just any crackpot economist. He has a side-job advising Google on its philanthropic efforts to cut global poverty. And he was for many years a close colleague at the World Bank of Lawrence Summers - the man about to become Barack Obama's head of the National Economic Council.

Now, wouldn't it be great if a bit of this compassionate, libertarian and free-market thinking seeped into the White House over the next four years.

Fred Pearce, senior environment correspondent