Archive for August, 2004

A global view of our forests

By Donna Dekker-Robertson

As you enjoy your deck or park gazebo this summer, eating hot dogs and apple pie off paper plates, consider the world around you, and your impact on it. You use forest products every day, from napkins and newsprint, to crayons, cosmetics, and charcoal for the barbecue.

That’s OK, so long as we properly care for our forests. As a forest geneticist, I observe how forests respond to insect infestation, disease, increased tree densities, wildfires, non-native pests and the like. What I see demonstrates it’s time to stop cordoning off our forests from harvesting.

No matter how earnest activists may seem, or how concerned their sound bites, experience shows there are devastating consequences of abandoning active forest management.

The devastation goes beyond the unnatural accumulation of forest fuels that trigger megafires across Florida, Colorado, Arizona, California and the Pacific Northwest. These catastrophic blazes burn hotter than their historic predecessors, wreaking greater environmental havoc, but tell only part of the story.

Domestic activism has also ignored the global implications of severe harvesting restrictions here in the States. Whereas responsibly managed forests could help us meet our own wood needs, broad harvesting restrictions here have sent us elsewhere for wood.

Consumers are often blind to the costs of consuming, having lost sight of the fundamental connection between the things they use and where they come from. the United States uses more wood than any country in the world, in total use and per-capita consumption. The world average for wood products consumption is 0.7 cubic meters per person per year. The United States’ average is about 2 cubic meters per person.

My home state of California exemplifies the environmental paradox inherent in our ‘consume but don’t produce’ attitude. California has almost 40 million forested acres. Yet compared to 15 years ago, timber harvests are down more than 90 percent on public and 40 percent on private lands. Meanwhile, the state imports about 75 percent of the wood it consumes.

If Californians, who have among the most advanced harvesting technology and highest environmental standards in the world, harvested more wood, we would so so in a way that conserves forest environments. But we don’t. Instead, we rely on forestlands where environmental safeguards are weaker or nonexistent and harvesting can devastate landscapes.

As wood consumption rises, some forests outside the United States are being cut at record levels. According to University of California-Berkeley forestry professor emeritus William J. Libby, for every acre of forestland not harvested for timber here, at least two acres must be harvested in Third World forests.

Forest geneticists like me are also keenly aware of the danger of unintentionally importing non-native pests when we import wood. Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight infestations, for instance, originated in Asia and devastated forests in the United States that lack natural resistance. At least 27 potentially dangerous pests that may be accidentally imported and thrive in our forests have been identified.

It is time to accept responsibility for our consumption, and to bridge the gap between perception and reality, both in forestry practices and the environmental aspects of using wood.

As Patrick Moore, co-founder and former president of Greenpeace noted: “We have been led to believe that when we use wood we are causing a bit of forest to be lost. This is not the case. When we buy wood, we send a signal to the marketplace to plant more trees, and produce more wood.”

Wood is the only entirely renewable and recyclable building material we have. Compared to other building materials, wood saves energy, produces the least greenhouse gases, causes the least water and air pollution, and yields the least solid waste.

Today, tremendous amounts of non-renewable fossil fuels are burned to import wood from outside our borders, and alternative building materials take lots of energy to produce. It takes 70 times more energy, for example, to produce one ton of aluminum than it does to produce a ton of lumber.

Furthermore, the power to grow trees comes from the sun. The power to produce steel, aluminum, plastic and concrete comes from petroleum, coal and gas.

There is little reason to expect our wood consumption to decline. But we can meet more of our wood needs from our own forests. Many private-sector American foresters practice sustainable forestry, replenishing forests for future generations by replanting far more trees than they harvest.

We would do well to see these private forestland practices expanded, and replicated on public lands. If and when we do, we can begin reversing our dependence on imported wood, and improve environments both local and global.

Donna Dekker-Robertson is a forest geneticist and adjunct professor at American River College in Sacramento, Calif.

Originally published in The Washington Times

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So much for ‘global warming’

Orange County Register Commentary Section – Friday, August 6, 2004

So much for ‘global warming’
U.N. climate panel’s alarmist claims are demolished by three new studies

By Patrick J. Michaels, S. Fred Singer and David H. Douglass Singer is emeritus professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. Douglass is professor of physics at the University of Rochester.

How many times have we heard from Al Gore and assorted European politicians that “the science is settled” on global warming? In other words, it’s “time for action.” Climate change, as recently stated by Hans Blix, former U.N. chief for weapons detection in Iraq, is the most important issue of our time, far more dangerous than people flying fuel-laden aircraft into skyscrapers or threatening to detonate backpack nukes in Baltimore Harbor.

Well, the science may now be settled, but not in the way Gore and Blix would have us believe. Three bombshell papers have just hit the refereed literature that knock the stuffing out of Blix’s position and that of his patron, the United Nations, and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The U.N. panel states repeatedly that 1) we have reliable temperature records showing how much the planet has warmed in the last century; and 2) computer projections of future climate, while not perfect, simulate the observed behavior of the past so well that they serve as a reliable guide for the future. Therefore, they say, we need to limit carbon dioxide emissions (i.e., energy use) right now, despite the expense and despite the fact that the cost of these restrictions will fall almost all on the United States, gravely harming the world’s economic engine while exerting no detectable change on climate in the foreseeable future.

GLOBAL WARMING – OR URBAN?

The U.N. panel claims to have carefully corrected the temperature records for the well-known problem of local (“urban,” as opposed to global) warming. But this has always troubled serious scientists, because the way the U.N. checks for artificial warming makes it virtually impossible to detect in recent decades – the same period in which our cities have undergone the most growth and sprawl.

The surface temperature record shows a warming rate of about 0.17 Centigrade (0.31 Fahrenheit) per decade since 1979. However, there are two other records, one from satellites, and one from weather balloons that tell a different story. Neither annual satellite nor balloon trends differs significantly from zero since the start of the satellite record in 1979. These records reflect temperatures in what is called the lower atmosphere, or the region between roughly 5,000 and 30,000 feet.

Four years ago, a distinguished panel of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded that a real disparity exists between the reported surface warming and the temperature trends measured in the atmosphere above. Since then, many investigators have tried to explain the cause of the disparity while others have denied its existence.

So, which record is right, the U.N. surface record showing the larger warming or the other two? There’s another record, from seven feet above the ground, derived from balloon data that has recently been released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In two research papers in the July 9 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, two of us (Douglass and Singer) compared it for correspondence with the surface record and the lower atmosphere histories. The odd-record-out turns out to be the U.N.’s hot surface history.

WHAT THE SATELLITES SHOW

This is a double kill, both on the U.N.’s temperature records and its vaunted climate models. That’s because the models generally predict an increased warming rate with height (outside of local polar regions). Neither the satellite nor the balloon records can find it. When this was noted in the first satellite paper published in 1990, some scientists objected that the record, which began in 1979, was too short. Now we have a quarter-century of concurrent balloon and satellite data, both screaming that the UN’s climate models have failed, as well as indicating that its surface record is simply too hot.

If the models are wrong as one goes up in the atmosphere, then any correspondence between them and surface temperatures is either pretty lucky or the product of some unspecified “adjustment.” Getting the vertical distribution of temperature wrong means that everything dependent upon that – precipitation and cloudiness, as examples – must be wrong. Obviously, the amount of clouds in the air determines the day’s high temperature as well as whether or not it rains.

As bad as things have gone for the U.N. climate panel and its ideologues, it gets worse – much worse.

‘SKEPTICS’ WERE RIGHT

After four years of one of the most rigorous peer reviews ever, Canadian Ross McKitrick and another of us (Michaels) published a paper searching for “economic” signals in the temperature record. McKitrick, an economist, was initially piqued by what several climatologists had noted as a curiosity in both the U.N. and satellite records: statistically speaking, the greater the GDP of a nation, the more it warms. The research showed that somewhere around one-half of the warming in the U.N. surface record was explained by economic factors, which can be changes in land use, quality of instrumentation, or upkeep of records. This worldwide study added fuel to a fire started a year earlier by the University of Maryland’s Eugenia Kalnay, who calculated a similar 50 percent bias due to economic factors in the U.S. records.

So, to all who worry about global warming, to all who think that people threatening to blow up millions to get their political way is no big deal by comparison, chill out. The science is settled. The “skeptics,” the strange name applied to those whose work shows the planet isn’t coming to an end, have won.

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Singer is emeritus professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. Douglass is professor of physics at the University of Rochester.

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Forest Plan Update – An open letter to the Sierra Club

“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds”

Samuel Adams

My friends and fellow activists:

I hope you have found these updates informative. I apologize for their length, but these issues are complex, and cannot be explained in a single sentence. The devil is always in the details, and the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and their allies in the environmental movement have been successful because they realize this and hide behind rhetoric such as “Protect and Restore our Forests!”

There is one disturbing aspect of the Sierra Club and CBD’s goal to remove access to our Forests by campaigning for the adoption of their Conservation Alternative 6. Why hasn’t the press reported on how this Alternative 6 would affect the ability of the Forest Service to manage these National Forests and the public’s ability to access them? Why haven’t the Sierra Club and CBD demanded the press cover this story?

Many in the Forest Service agree that the Sierra Club and CBD are not being honest with the public, and if you notice, no stories have been published on what the effect on the public’s recreational access would be if the Sierra Club’s and Center for Biological Diversity’s Alternative 6 were to be adopted as the preferred plan. There have been stories in the press describing the chosen alternatives, and in each story the Sierra Club criticizes these alternatives and claims these forests will be destroyed – and advocates its Alternative 6 to save them.

Why haven’t we had any stories that give the details of what effect the
Conservation Alternative 6 would have on the public’s access and the Forest Service’s ability to manage these forests?

And at what cost? Would the funding be available? If the funding were not available, and the Forest Service did not meet their timetables for all the aspects of Alternative 6, could (and would) the environmental organizations sue to close off many areas?

Why haven’t we seen stories where they interview fire department officials, whose firefighters’ lives will be at stake, on the fire proposals being advocated by the Sierra Club and CBD?

All they would have to do is ask the Forest Service. It would be a great story to compare the chosen alternatives with alternative 6 and what their respective effects would be on the Forest Service’s ability to manage these national forests, the danger they pose to firefighters’ lives and the effect they would have on the public’s ability to access the forest.

On my email list I have reporters who cover these issues, including Pat Brennan (pbrennan@ocregister.com), the Environmental writer for the O.C. Register (and other Register Reporters as well) and John Glionna, from the L.A. Times (John.Glionna@latimes.com). Why don’t they cover this story, or if nothing else, why isn’t the Sierra Club asking for stories that tell the public what the net affect of their policies would be and prove me a liar?

On Friday, June 18th 2004 I emailed Tim Allyn (t.allyn@comcast.net), a Sierra Club Associate Representative, Dan Silver (dsilverla@earthlink.net), the Director of the Endangered Habitats League (a Sierra Club ally), Randall Danta (rdanta@comcast.net), the founder of the Sierra Club Mountain Bike Committee, and Dave Pearlman (dperlmansr@cox.net), a local Sierra Club leader the following challenge (they and the press have received all my updates, including this one):

“I think it important that the Sierra Club and the Forest Service reveal to the public the net affect and the impact of their Alternative 6 compared to the alternatives chosen by the Forest Service.

Why don’t you demand the press do an honest comparison of the Alternatives the Forest Service and the Sierra Club are proposing and their Respective effects on the ability of the Forest Service to manage our forest – and the public’s ability to access them? Demand the Forest Service give their honest opinion on the effect each alternative will have on the previously mentioned.

The Warrior’s Society, the Sierra Club, and the CBD have nothing to hide right?

None of us will fall prey to the saying “The emperor has no clothes” –
right?

Give the details of what “Protect and Restore Our Forests” means.

Prove me a liar.

Chris

AKA ‘Dances With Hornets'”

Ten Day’s later on June 28th I sent another email to the press, Tim Allyn and others in Orange County who are affiliated with or local leaders of the Sierra Club, including their new Orange County Rep. Brittany Mckee (brittany.mckee@sierraclub.org):

“Tim,

I have not forgotten my request to you asking that you join me in demanding press coverage of the net affect the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity’s Alternative 6 would have on the Forest Service’s ability to manage our forests and on the public’s access.

I will not forget this email to you, or the promise I made to you over two years ago (that the Warrior’s Society is a steadfast friend and a relentless enemy) when we first met to discuss the wilderness issue and you implied the Sierra Club knew best what to do with the land I have walked since I was a child; with arrogance you dismissed me – a fatal mistake as my fulfilled promise has proven.

The Sierra Club is morally bankrupt; it has embraced an illegitimate faith that has dismissed science and history.

I know the Sierra Club. I was once a believer. I have prepared for this for 25 years…

…I hope you have enjoyed my updates.

Chris

AKA ‘Dances With Hornets'”

I have not heard a response from the Sierra Club, or the CBD or the or from any reporters that was cc’d on these emails.

Why not?

It is the responsibility of all Americans to shine the light on the ideology and motivation of any group that proposes policies that would be detrimental to the public. The fact that the Sierra Club and the CBD refuses my challenge to publicize the effects of their Alternative 6 shows their arrogance and belief that the public cannot be trusted with their public lands and that they best be kept ignorant.

No one can accuse me of being in the pocket of anyone, save for the debt I own to my country for the freedom to succeed and to fail. I will repay that debt till the end of my life – and woe to anyone that I feel is a threat to that freedom. Only in freedom can we innovate, only in freedom can man advance our culture to meet the challenges that face us.

The environmental movement does not respect our citizens but sees them as a threat to their ideology, an ideology that has no admiration for our freedom, economy or national security.

From their actions is seems that only the elite leaders of the environmental movement are wise enough to form public policy and not the “bourgeois masses,” who must be kept uniformed and under control.

I ask you my friends, is it morally right for the Sierra Club and CBD to compel citizens to support their position but not provide them with the knowledge to make an informed decision? What is it about the Sierra Club’s and CBD’s Alternative 6 that they feel it is best kept unexplained; that the best course of action is to belittle the chosen Alternatives with statements that destruction will follow if they are implemented and hide behind rhetoric such as “Protect and Restore our forests!”?

When I cc’d the environmental writers for the Register and the Times (in my email to the Sierra Club leaders) and demanded the press publicize the effects of the Conservation Alternative 6, they ignored me and allowed the Sierra Club and CBD to hide behind their rhetoric.

This last bastion of our freedom, the press, abdicated its responsibility – why? Why aren’t the Sierra Club and CBD demanding this coverage? Why aren’t they willing to defend it to the public? Is the press’s bias blinding them?

Do we really value our freedom? What has happened to America?

How many of those who support the Sierra Club with their dollars earned by working for small and “Big Business” that the Sierra Club hates would support them if the Sierra Club educated them on the consequences of supporting the Sierra Club’s and CBD’s Alternative 6? Does the Sierra Club find it’s inspiration in Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln – or in Marx, Lenin and Stalin?

Now is the time for the Sierra Club and CBD to defend their alternative to the public, not hide behind their rhetoric. They only have until August 11th, when the deadline for public comments end, or is that your plan; to hide under a rock until the comment period ends?

Has the Sierra Club become so confident in their power and millions raised from a blindly trusting public that it is not truth they find comfort in but their own arrogance?

“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Winston Churchill

Sierra Club and CBD, defend your proposals for firefighting to the firefighters and the public:

http://www.warriorssociety.org/News/ForestPlanAlert5-16-04.html

Defend your road removal and mountain biking proposals to the public and tell them they’ll have to give up 60 to 70 percent of their historical access:

http://www.warriorssociety.org/News/ForestPlanAlert5-22-04.html

http://www.warriorssociety.org/News/ForestPlanAlert5-28-04.html

And to the press that has ignored and abetted the actions of the Sierra Club – Shame, Shame, Shame.

I will be sending out suggested Forest Plan comments for you to submit to the Forest Service in a couple of days. Please show the Sierra Club, the CBD (and the press) you will not be fooled by their corruptive tactics.

That would be the best revenge.

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