]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]        GREENHOUSE HOKUM             [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ 
                  (C) Copyright R. J. Long                 (1/13/1988)
                       December, 1988

      [Kindly uploaded by the author, Freeman QAUSTLONG,
        (yes, all the way from Brisbane, Australia!)]

[                    ***  WARNING  ****
This is a very long file (14 screenfuls). Normally a file of this 
length would not be acceptable for FF. But coming from halfway 
around the globe...                                       Sysop]

[Note for the HTML version: Footnotes can be seen by clicking 
on the link. Netscape will return you to where you were in the 
main text by clicking on its "Back" button. However, Microsoft 
Internet Explorer will return you to the beginning of the main 
text, so click on the "[Back]" link to return to where you were 
in the main text. I am aware of the FN tag, but that does not 
work for all browsers. 

There has been much publicity recently about the so-called
greenhouse effect.  We have been assailed by apocalyptic
headlines and warnings of the style: "Act now or face climatic
disaster"; "World in a greenhouse getting ready to boil"; "one of
the world's greatest environmental problems"; "Earth's hellish and
deadly nightmare" and "the ultimate consequences could be second
only to global nuclear war."  That's enough to make anybody sit
up and take notice.  Panic, even.  But is panic the right
reaction?  Are things as bad as they are made out to be?  I
strongly suspect not.  Not only are climatic predictions nowhere
as clear-cut as we are lead to believe, I am sure there is a
"hidden agenda" which is distorting the information which is
presented to us in the media.

As we all no doubt now know, the greenhouse effect is caused by
carbon dioxide (and other gases) absorbing infrared radiation
and heating the atmosphere, rather than retransmitting radiation
back into space.  It is interesting to note that real glass
greenhouses are not warmed by this "greenhouse" effect.  The
effect there is the more simple one of lack of ventilation:
warmed air can't leave the closed structure.  This was
demonstrated in 1909 when two greenhouses, one with a quartz
roof, reached equal temperature in the sun, though quartz is
significantly more transparent to the entire sunlight spectrum
than glass.[1]  However, this does not stop the "expert"
journalists decorating their misleading articles with diagrams of
the earth trapped inside a glass greenhouse.[2]

Be that as it may, as the environmentalists say, the mechanism
is not in dispute.  What is controversial is exactly how much
the earth's temperature will change given certain increases in
greenhouse gases.  It is undeniable that carbon dioxide levels
have increased on a global basis, but there is no agreement on
temperature rises: how much, how soon or with what regional
distribution.[3]  The whole CO2-climate problem is a "cascade of
uncertainty."[4]  Even the sources of the greenhouse gases are

Despite these uncertainties, we are being told, in no uncertain
terms, that everything is clear-cut, and that the solutions are
known.  Without a doubt, the most common cause of the "problem"
is said to be mankind itself.  Here are a few headlines and

"What have we done to the weather?"[5]  "[I]t is almost certainly
our fault," continues the article.  Another article titled
"Fouling our own nest: human activity and the Greenhouse Effect"
says  "The problem then is. . . that human activity since the
Industrial Revolution has steadily added greenhouse gases to the
atmosphere."[6]   School children are being "taught" from resource
kits about "humanity's contribution to its [the greenhouse
effect] acceleration."  The advertising brochure quotes from the
Toronto International Conference on The Changing Atmosphere:
"Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally
pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second
only to global nuclear war.  The earth's atmosphere is being
changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants, inefficient and
wasteful fossil fuel use and the effects of rapid population
growth in many regions."  At the recent Greenhouse 88 national
conference, Dr. Iraphne Childs said "humans are the problem."
Senator Graham "Greenhouse" Richardson (Phillip Adams' term) said
there is "continuing evidence of our abuse of the environment."
And Carmel Travers, in a replay of a "Beyond 2000" tape asked,
"will our excesses and those of our ancestors deny the future
its lifestyle?"  Graeme O'Neill states that "the evidence is quite
clear that concentrations of the so called `greenhouse gases'
are increasing in the Earth's atmosphere, and that in "each" case
the rise is linked to human activity."[7]  Professor David Suzuki
(a contributor to the Commission for the Future's magazine, "In
Future", and to the ABC Radio's "Science Show") claims that "this
planet is changing beyond recognition under the impact of the
greatest predator of all -- us."[8]

(You will notice that once you read past the "there is no doubt"
headlines, most of the dire predictions are qualified by words
such as "could," "may," "might," "perhaps," "as much as" or

So it is all our fault.  But is it?

Very rarely is information presented which suggests that there
may be natural causes.  When that does happen, any effects from
natural causes are immediately played down, and possible harmful
effects from human activities are emphasised.  For example, on
the previously mentioned "Beyond 2000" tape replay it was stated
that methane, one of the greenhouse gases, is produced by cows
and rotting material.  But that was not seen as a problem even
though methane is thought to contribute about 20% of the
greenhouse effect: "The atmosphere can cope with methane and
NO2, probably."  However, when the rhetorical question "Is the
rise of CO2 just a natural variation?" was asked, the result was,
after a mention of the "constancy" of CO2 in ice core samples,
that this is "not conclusive proof, but pretty convincing"
evidence of man-made effects.

But the facts are that there are natural sources of greenhouse
gases.  Methane is produced by ruminant animals, in particular,
cattle.  It is also produced by bacterial activity in rice
paddies (if covered by water -- the flooding is for weed
control; the rice itself doesn't need it)[9] and fertilisers.  It
could be argued that these activities were introduced by man
and are not "natural."  But we haven't (not yet, anyway) heard an
outcry demanding that we shoot all cattle.  And those who
advocate vegetarianism would expect us to eat more rice!
Natural wetlands (they used to be called swamps!) also produce
methane.  There are, however, other natural causes that cannot
be blamed on man (or woman!  Let's be fair about this.)

One is termites.  Rather, the cause is a bacteria carried in
termites' guts which decomposes 90% of their food into CO2.[10]  It
is estimated that the total production of carbon dioxide from
this source is 50 billion tonnes annually.  This should be
compared with the 5 billion tonnes produced from the burning of
fossil fuel.  If this is the case, then it would appear that
the emphasis on fossil fuel burning and energy use is badly
misplaced.  What is the point of concentrating our efforts on
something that makes up less than one tenth of the problem?
If the pseudo-environmentalists are serious then they should try
to ban the production of cheese, too, especially "Swiss" styles
with holes.  The holes are produced by bacteria which generate
carbon dioxide!  Beer, too, is said to be making the greenhouse
effect worse.  Carbon dioxide escapes from the keg into the
atmosphere.  The estimate is 65,000 tonnes from UK pubs.[11]  I
guess I should not comment on that statement further; after all,
any self-respecting environmentalist should now pledge to give
up his beer.  But to do so would be guilty of promoting half
truths, like most of the scare-mongers do.  The facts are that
the carbon dioxide was extracted from the atmosphere in the
first place!  (So now, our concerned environmentalist will buy
lots of beer and leave it unconsumed. . .)  But "there is no easy
method for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere"
complains Keith Suter.[12]  I suppose that is why we are lucky not
to have a wasteful abundance of carbonated softdrinks and beers
forced upon us by wicked advertisers.

Volcanoes have a significant effect on the environment.  The
major components of volcanic gases are, by percent,  water 70.75
(water vapour is a greenhouse gas), carbon dioxide 14.07, sulphur
dioxide 6.40 and nitrogen 5.45.[13]  (Note that sulphur dioxide is a
precursor of sulphuric acid, a component of acid rain.  But acid
rain is another exaggerated scare story.)  Hot springs are
common in volcanic areas and many of them emit carbon dioxide.

Gases are not the only components that affect climate, nor even
the most important.  The most important is albedo, the ratio of
reflected energy to incident.  Typical albedos are: concrete 17-
27 percent; green forests 5-10; desert soil 25-30; snow 45-90 and
clouds 5-85 percent, depending on their thickness and the size
of cloud droplets.[14]  Thus the higher the albedo the greater the
energy reflected and the lower the temperature (of the
reflecting/absorbing body).  Do these figures then suggest that
to counter the warming effect we should concrete over the
forests?  (If I were to seriously suggest that then the
"environmentalists" would immediately cry that "things are not
as simple as that!"  My point exactly!)

The next most important effect is scattering by atmospheric
particulates.  Human activities create smoke, dust and other
solids that enter the atmosphere.  All of these counterbalance
the greenhouse effect.  Next comes humidity, and finally carbon
dioxide.  As Professor Beckmann says, "Clearly, then, the
disputes on how much CO2 is due to what cause have been
belaboring only a part of the problem, ignoring the equally or
more important factor of albedo, which is not affected by CO2."[15]

I mentioned before that volcanoes emit gases and particles which
affect the atmosphere.  In fact, the massive eruption of
Krakatoa in 1883 is credited with a 0.3[o]C global temperature
drop due to reflection into space of incoming radiation by
microscopic particles.[16]  The converse is also true: a reduction
of volcanic activity can result in a "warming" of the atmosphere.
Browning and Garris comment on this: "a period of relative
geological quiet ensued . . . around the turn of the twentieth
century.  It has been in this Northern Hemisphere `volcanically
exhausted' period that the climate has been so warm.  The air
has been extraordinarily clear."[17]

Another factor that adds uncertainty is the sun's activity (few
sunspots characterise a "cool" sun).

A common theme of the greenhouse fear promoters is that the
earth is on the brink of disaster because "the atmosphere is
thin and fragile"[18] or that the earth's systems are so finely
tuned that it is possible for "the life habits of one of its
inhabitants is upsetting the very balance of Life on Earth."[19]
But Landsberg comments that "there are no adequate physical
reasons to expect any but local effects from energy uses by
man."[20]  Browning and Garris ask, "And how do Man's activities
compare with Nature's?  If we were to take all of the garbage
produced by 220,000,000 Americans for a year (at 3-pounds per
day), grind it into dust in a giant blender, and dump it into the
stratosphere, we would have inserted only 1% as much dust as
Krakatoa put up in one shot.  And Krakatoa was nominal.  Man's
effects are truly trivial."[21]

An increase in temperature is presented as a certainty.  A
majority of models cluster in the range of 1.5-4.5[o]C for doubled
CO2.  This has been called the "consensus estimate."  But as
Landsberg notes, "one should not overlook that a substantial
minority, 25 percent of the estimates, is 1[o]C or lower.  One
scientist places the warming at less than 0.26[o]C for a doubling
of CO2."[22]  There is another problem with the measurement of past
temperatures.  That is the "notorious urban heat island" which
has raised the average urban temperature by 1-2[o]C and can
exceed the rural surroundings on occasions by 10[o]C.[23]  This
phenomenon has led a senior lecturer in geography at Woolongong
University, Dr. Edward Bryant to state that "evidence that
temperatures have increased also has its flaws because it comes
from land-based city measuring stations."  He says that
scientists have not taken into account the fact that, when
cities grow, they generate and retain heat.[24]  Another interesting
fact is that global temperatures decreased between 1940 and 1970
(by about 0.2[o]C) even though carbon dioxide levels were

Bryant also throws doubt on the claim that rising sea levels
are indicative of the greenhouse effect.  He says his analysis
shows that in many places, sea levels have actually fallen.  He
says that, for example, one side of Japan's coast has risen by
24mm a year and the other side fallen by 6mm.  His explanation
is that processes below the earth's crust are resulting in earth

I mentioned before that the natural contributions to the
greenhouse gases are played down; it is also true that any
benefits which would result from increased warming and increased
carbon dioxide are dismissed out of hand.  Journalist Brian
James[26], who seems to be on the side of the scare-mongers,
reports on the meeting between 30 countries at the Hamburg
Congress Hall.  He mentions that "[t]he professors were less than
kind to the Indian scientist who insisted that he was sceptical
about two days of dire warnings.  In any case, he said, global
warming would `make India's northern deserts bloom so we can
feed the United States'".  A Soviet academician, Mr Budyko,
reportedly "depressed" his listeners for saying that the now
barren tundra would be made available for agriculture.  He said
that the greenhouse effect would also reduce the difference
between hot and cold countries and the season in each.  He
asked, therefore, was there not a case for actually increasing
carbon dioxide emissions?  Ah, yes!  It would certainly be a
problem if food supplies were increased.  This view is echoed by
Phil Noyce, who opines, "For farmers however, what will it mean
if a desert area starts growing wheat in competition?  And will
the rest of the world want an increase in food production from
Australia?"[27]  Problems, problems, problems!  Perhaps these people
are worried that an increase in food production will destroy
their arguments about over-population.  (What they never admit
is that "over-population," or imbalance between food supplies and
people, is predominantly caused by socialism, not just numbers of
people.  But that, too, is another story.)  When, during the
Greenhouse 88 conference it was claimed that Tasmania could
benefit with increased tourism from the greenhouse effect, the
audience laughed.  They didn't want to hear anything but bad

But why shouldn't we at least listen to these "good-news" views
instead of instantly dismissing them?  There is so much
uncertainty in the predictions that they may well be right.

A lot of apparent "certainty" comes from the use of computer
models.  Unfortunately, the complexity of climate modelling means
that such results are by no means certain at all.  No doubt the
public thinks that if a computer said so, it must be correct.
The "Beyond 2000" program stated that "only a computer program
of several thousand lines can predict [temperature] effects."  It
would have been much more realistic to say that "not even a
computer program of several thousand lines can predict effects."
Landsberg comments that "[b]ecause so many conclusions are
based on the mathematical-numerical modeling of climate, it is
imperative to take a critical look at the various models.  The
fact that they appear in the exact framework of mathematics is
deceiving because they can only simulate nature successfully if
they represent all variables and their interactions.  With the
present state of knowledge that is virtually impossible.  Hence
it is also not surprising that various modelers have used
different approaches and parameterizations to achieve
approximations."[28]  This is not to say that modelling is not
useful: "These and other mathematical model simulations have
made great progress in the past two decades thanks to increased
computer capacity.  They still suffer from their inability to
simulate a host of feedback mechanisms and by the inadequacy of
representing the ocean influence in the system."[29]

We have been told that the current series of unusual weather
patterns, droughts in the USA for example, are the result of the
greenhouse effect.  "Indeed, most scientists are now convinced
that the greenhouse effect is responsible for the record
droughts ravaging the United States' Mid-West and for the heat-
waves throughout Europe and Asia which recently killed hundreds
of people."[30]  That is not true.  Even Stephen Schneider, the
keynote speaker at the Greenhouse 88 conference, said that the
current "disasters are not caused by the greenhouse effect, but
are due to the random nature of climate," though he thinks the
changes caused by the greenhouse effect will be similar.  Such
claims of changing weather patterns fly in the face of centuries
of evidence of past dramatic climate changes.  An article in the
"The Weekend Australian"[31] started off with the statement, "Last
October, a succession of unprecedented frosts and hail storms
devastated some of Australia's finest vineyards in the hills
east of Adelaide. . .  At the same time, on the other side of the
world, a climatic disaster of a different kind was afflicting
southern England.  There, the worst gale for 300 years was
scything 15 million trees, destroying houses and cars and setting
off an avalanche of insurance claims."  This dramatic
introduction is followed by mentioning further  problems and
then states that "[i]t seems to be asking a lot of coincidence
that so many extremes, so much record-breaking weather, should
have been bunched up into one quarter-century -- unless, that
is, we are suffering from a kind of climatic hypochondria and
are just noticing it more."  Well, perhaps we just ignore past
evidence.  In fact, the doomsday writers appear to ignore
evidence that is in front of their noses.  That very same
article presents a summary of climatic extremes from 200 BC:
droughts, retreat of North Sea ice, sunless summers, unseasonal
frosts and so on.  But such history has no effect on the claims
that we are living in the worst of times and there is no hope
for us.

Rather than being extreme, the Adelaide wine-growers should
consider that they may have been let off lightly.  Hailstorms in
the past have been worse.  For example, hailstones have been
known to be of such size to kill cows.  In 1888, in India, a
hailstorm killed 230 people and injured thousands.  Hailstones
are estimated to have been disk shaped, up to ten inches in
diameter and three inches thick at the centre.[32]

Increased storm and beach-front wave activity are also
predicted.  This could lead to destruction of seaside properties.
But I wonder whether the activists really care about this, or
just use it to promote their scare-mongering.  A very revealing
episode occurred during the Greenhouse 88 conference.  During
the showing of the "Beyond 2000" programme there was a scene
showing the undermining of some beach-front properties, intended
to show the problems to be experienced in the future.  Instead
of remaining in grim silence, the audience spontaneously murmured
in approval that such things should happen.  Nothing like a dose
of envy: "Serve those rich capitalists right to build on the

Let's now consider some of the proposed solutions by those who
claim that the greenhouse effect is "all our fault."   Put
briefly, the common theme is that there has to be a reduction in
energy use by the West, "an end to affluence", population
reduction and non-nuclear "alternative energy" options.  These
are common "left-wing" proposals of those who want more
government intervention and regulation.  They are expressed
regularly in the taxpayer funded Commission for the Future's
magazine "In Future".  It was the Commission who organised the
national Greenhouse 88 conference in November 1988.  Although
the Commission's job is to "explain the social impacts of science
and technology and to foster the development of an innovative,
productive culture" it predominantly puts the one-sided view of
the "environmentalists."  Theme of the conference was "The
greenhouse effect: political reality or media event?".  This
rhetorical question was clearly meant to come up with the answer
that it is a political reality, not just media exaggeration, and
that governments must "do something."  It is interesting to note
the theme title did not include the option "physical reality."
As we have seen, there is much evidence to cast doubt on the
popular belief that the greenhouse effect is going to result in
dire consequences.

I attended the Brisbane venue of the conference.  Although I
went along with many misgivings (the articles in "In Future" did
not reassure me; and the association with the well-known left-
of-centre Phillip Adams was worrying) I was hoping to see
presented some real scientific evidence on the subject.  But I
was to be disappointed.  The panel, and most of the audience,
were already convinced that we (especially the West) were guilty
of destroying the world.  I have already mentioned some of the
thoughts of the local panel at the conference and it is
instructive to relate some other episodes of the conference.  It
was based on a national satellite (isn't that high technology?)
linkup of several cities.  Each city was to select from their
audiences several questions, some of which were to be asked
later on the national linkup.  As I wanted to try to see if some
objective information was forthcoming, I asked what percentage
of CO2 production was attributable to human activity.  I quoted
the example of termites, as mentioned above.  Several other
questions were suggested by other audience members.  Now, I
didn't have the presumption to expect that my question would be
selected; and it wasn't.  What is instructive is the one that was
chosen: "What can be done to divert taxes to fund public
transport?"  This shows that it was taken for granted that
private transport is "bad," that public (government owned)
transport is "good" and that government has the right to levy
and distribute taxes as it sees fit.  Thankfully, Barry Jones
replied that in Australia, with such a dispersed population, such
reliance on public transport is not viable.

Later on, the Brisbane audience asked the local panel several
questions.  Again, most were based on the assumpions of
impending doom.  Many were applauded by other members of the
audience.  One particular questioner asked, how do we know that
the forecasts are not simply extrapolations of a trend that is
near its end anyway?  I thought that was quite a reasonable
question, given that climatic cycles are known to exist.
However, I also expected that such a question would go against
the "prevailing wisdom" so I was not at all surprised that when
I applauded, I was the only one!  The response of a panel member
to this question was to echo a statement on a Greenhouse Project
poster: "If we live as if it matters, and it doesn't matter, it
doesn't matter.  If we live as if it doesn't matter, and it
matters, then it matters."[33]  But does it matter whether we are
given all the facts, or a proper perspective on the issue?  No,
"that" doesn't matter.

As Man is "known" to be the problem, it is not surprising that
there were calls for reduced population growth.  I have already
mentioned that Dr. Iraphne Childs has said that "humans are the
problem."  Greenhouse 88 conference audience member and well
known conservationist, Dr. Aila Keto, is even more specific.  She
says that "we have to look at a total reduction in population,
not just [a reduction of] growth rate."  No one asked the
obvious question, "Who are you going to shoot first?"  It seems
to me that the anti-growth advocates talk a lot about the need
for quality of life in the future -- as long as they are not
the ones to suffer.  Are they volunteering to shoot themselves?
Aren't they consuming resources now?  It is nothing but elitism.

Another hater of mankind (although he would not say so as
bluntly as that) is Dr. David Suzuki.  He is a Professor of
Genetics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.  He is
a frequent contributor to "In Future" magazine and is often
featured on the ABC's "Science Show" radio program, which is hosted
by Robyn Williams (Williams is also a Commissioner for the
Commission for the Future.)

Suzuki has stated that "[i]f you look at human beings the way I
study fruit flies (I've spent my professional career studying
fruit flies, and I know fruit flies very well, then) when you look
at human beings that way you find we are not a very impressive
species.  I mean we can't fly by ourselves -- fruit flies can.
Fruit flies can land upside down and hang on the ceiling -- we
can't.  They have 6 legs -- we only have [sic] two; we are not
gifted with strength, speed or sensory acuity.  But what we do
have is the most complex structure in the known universe, which
is the brain, the human brain."[34]  He is also an advocate of
population growth.  There seems to me to be a contradiction in
his actions: he has "four" daughters!  Hasn't he taken any notice
of his fellow population controller Ehrlich's (see below)
exhortation that "two is plenty"?[35]  I hope he has trained them
to fly and land upside down on the ceiling.

None of these people have considered that growth rates and
food production change over time to suit the circumstances.
They fall into the errors of Malthus (1766-1834) and others who
continually predict the end of the world.[36]  One of these is Paul
Ehrlich.  ("The Science Show" has presented him favourably also; one
of his talks was repeated "due to popular demand.")  He has
written, "The battle to feed all of humanity is over.  In the
1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to
death in spite of any crash programmes embarked upon now."[37]

Yes, there have been famines -- but they have been caused by
the socialist policies advocated by the stop-growth people.  You
may have thought I was joking too much when I asked who is to
be shot first; just consider what Ehrlich says: "We must have
population control at home, hopefully through changes in our
value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail."[38]
As Beckmann puts it, `The credo of the population controllers is
simple: "There are too many of you others."'[39]

Things can't be going too badly if now the greatest (or is it
only the second greatest?) threat to mankind is a rise in
temperature by the year 2030!

A consequence of this argument is that we must reduce energy
usage.  The director of the Commission for the Future, Dr. Ian
Lowe, stated that "energy use is so profligate it is almost a
scandal. . .  [an] absurd level of waste."[40]  Drew Hutton, a
Brisbane conservationist, stated that the only way to say to
the Third World that they should reduce production of
greenhouse gases is for us to "abandon our affluence."  A
conference audience member said that we need to show the Third
World that subsistence farming is better than our system.[41]  Does
he know what he is talking about?  Why is it that the Third
World is continually trying to improve its food production above
subsistence level?  Doesn't he know that subsistence farming
means that that is all you do from morning to night -- attempt
to grow food to stay alive?  One of the reasons the
underdeveloped countries have poor education standards is that
they have no time for schooling; the children must help to grow
food.  It is subsistence farming that leads to the cutting down
of forests by peasant farmers (e.g., in Haiti) (all we are allowed
to hear about is the cutting down of forests by filthy multi-
national companies) so that they can either cook their food or
make charcoal so that they can buy food in the first place.
Such reminders do not go down well with those who believe that
"high technology industrial society is to blame."[42]  On the other
hand, subsistence farming may be a good thing for members of
the Commission for the Future and their ilk: they would not then
have the time to write their one-sided propaganda at
taxpayers' expense!  (As an interesting sideline, it is only
in modern times that conservationists have had the time and
surplus energy (i.e., petrol to drive their cars) to attempt
to rescue stranded whales.  American Indians, and later the
European settlers, actively  watched for, and killed,
stranded whales to obtain whale oil.[43])

Nowhere in the popular press are we exposed to the idea that
the free-market can provide the solution.  Instead, it is always
more government intervention that is needed.  The action of
free-market prices is completely ignored; we are told by Stephen
Schneider that the things we can do now are to "turn off the
lights, buy more efficient cars and refrigerators."  (Note that
the stop-growth people should be taking this further and
abandoning their cars and refrigerators.)  The reason I turn off
my lights is because it costs me money.  Allow the price
mechanism to work and any shortages will appear as higher
prices.  This will cause energy conservation, energy substitution
and greater efforts to produce energy by others (their incentive
is that dreadful thing, profit!).  When Schneider sarcastically
mentioned that some people say that we can "leave it to the
free-market -- the free-market knows best,"  the Brisbane
audience, and the central audience at Dallas Brooks Hall, jeered
in agreement with him.  He then said, "I'm pleased to hear a few
hisses."  But that's alright -- it's only the free-market that
pays taxes which enable him to be invited to Australia.

To quote Beckmann again, the privileged "Penthouse Proletariat"
don't want to rub shoulders with the common riff-raff. "No
wonder the Penthouse Proletariat is frustrated.  What caused
this state of affairs? Who filled the jetliners with plumbers
and printers?  Who crowded the beaches with beer-drinking steel
workers?  Who made cars and gasoline so cheap that an entire
nation was put on wheels?  What gave people electricity at the
laughable price of a nickel a kilowatt-hour?. . .  Capitalism;
science; technology.  Stop it!  Stop the world, I want it all to

There is never any mention that private property is always
looked after better than government owned.  Private property
has to earn its future.  The call for more government
intervention is misplaced.

It is often said that public ownership is the solution to
various problems.  It is claimed that then "the people" own the
property and have control.  That is a deceit!  Public ownership
means that the "government" has control, and the people are subject
to the whims, lobbying and corruption of government processes.
Without control, ownership is meaningless.  True ownership means
I should be able to say, "OK, I want to sell "my" bit of National
Park (or whatever)."  Both you and I know that is impossible to

A revealing example of this happened during Stalin's
collectivisation in the Ukraine in the 1930s.

A farmer had a favourite fishing spot.  One day, he found
another farmer at that spot.  A brawl ensued, and they were
both taken before the village court.  The judge announced that
inasmuch as the rivers, land, and forests belonged to all the
people, both the plaintiff and defendant were guilty of
trespassing on public property and had therefore committed
treason.  They were each convicted to two weeks of forced

In another episode, during a time when there was mass
starvation, "it was considered a great crime to even glean the
already harvested [communal] fields, to fish in the rivers, or to
pick up some dry branches in the forest for firewood.  After
the passage of this law, everything was considered socialist,
state-owned property, and thus everthing was protected by law."[46]

If the conservationists want to save a forest, they should
attempt to buy it.  "But it would cost too much," will be the
cry.  "Only government can afford to do these things."  But,
where does the government gets its money from?  From the
taxpayers!  They would have the money if it were not
confiscated from them by high tax rates.  The conservationists,
unfortunately, always want someone else to pay for their

Of course, mention that nuclear power is the sensible solution
(there are no greenhouse gases emitted by a nuclear power
station) and you will be howled down.  When, during the
Greenhouse 88 conference, Ian Lowe said he was not a supporter
of nuclear power, the audiences broke into applause.  Commenting
on the Third World destruction of forests, Professor Petr
Beckmann says the problem is that the Third World countries
"split wood, not atoms, and burn dung, not uranium."[47]  He
continues, in his biting style, that by contrast, "the industrial
polluters and wastrels in the US, who split atoms, not wood,
have a forest cover which by percentage of the total area is
close to that of colonial times."[48]  (It should be added that
nuclear power does not need the tenuous arguments of the
greenhouse effect to argue in its favour.)

It is instructive to note one of the results of the Greenhouse
88 conference with respect to the nuclear option.  A "conference
statement" with "proposed actions" was produced.  "In Future"
(December 1988) magazine claimed that "each Greenhouse 88 venue
examined a draft conference statement produced by the national
Greenhouse 88 secretariat."  That certainly did not happen at
the Brisbane venue I attended!  If it did, it was an examination
by the panel; there was no audience involvement.  The following
clause in the "proposed actions":

  Explore the nuclear option.  There is some support for further
  effort to determine whether the persistent problems of
  operation safety, cost over-runs, nuclear weapons proliferation
  and radioactive waste could be solved to allow nuclear power
  to play a role in reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.

was replaced with this one:

  At present nuclear power is not a solution to the greenhouse
  problem because of the limited contribution it could make to
  replacement strategies for the wide range of uses afforded by
  fossil fuels and because of persistent problems of cost,
  operating safety, nuclear weapons proliferation and
  radioactive waste.

Quite a turn around!  There seemed to be some hope there for a
while, despite the gross exageration of "problems" in the first
statement.  And to say that we should not do anything because
it would be a "limited contribution" is contradicting the wisdom
of other concerned deep-thinkers: "Every little bit that you can
do can help lessen the effects of the greenhouse problem and
the thinning of the ozone layer..."[49]

Another point overlooked is that "no energy" (i.e., lack of
energy) is worse than more energy from any source.  Despite the
fact that nuclear power is far safer than other sources (taking
into account oil and gas tank explosions, transportation deaths
from the carrying of large volumes of coal and premature deaths
from coal burning -- 50,000 per year for the US[50]) it is still
opposed.  Further, as we have seen above, there are calls for
reduced energy use.  It is not for purely selfish affluence that
we have, for example, refrigerators.  They preserve food and
prevent deaths from food poisoning.  Refrigerated transport
enables fresh and safe food to be delivered to refrigerated
food cabinets in supermarkets.  Energy is used in food
preparation factories to cook and preserve food in vacuum
sealed cans.  Domestic electric stoves reduce deaths from open-
fire accidents.  We mentioned previously the heat-waves
throughout Europe and Asia which recently killed hundreds of
people; if ample cheap energy were to enable air-conditioning to
be provided then those deaths could be reduced.  In cold
countries (even the US), elderly people die from the cold.  It
may not be possible to provide extremely cheap energy to
everybody -- but the no-growthers don't even want us to try.
They will no doubt provide us all with woollen pullovers --
hand-knitted, of course, and free!  But of course, trying to
provide air-conditioning and heating just shows "the energy
absurdity of this lifestyle."[51]

I mentioned at the beginning that I suspect a hidden agenda in
the exaggeration of problems about the greenhouse effect.  That
is effectively admitted by those who say that "we don't need to
use the greenhouse effect to advocate reduction of energy use."[52]
They are anti-technology.  They claim that "technological
solutions will not come cheaply -- and it will be our children
who will be paying."[53]  I mentioned earlier the production of
greenhouse gases by animals; Beckmann's comment is to the point:
"So why are the Environmental Defence Fund and similar imposters
not filing suit to exterminate all cattle?  Because they need
the greenhouse effect only for crusading against technology and
industry, and they can't present Mary as a corporate pig for
having a little lamb."[54]

The greenhouse effect is also being used as an excuse by
special interest groups to push their own barrows.  Professor
Ballinger, the Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society
chairman [you may remember that I prefer to use the non-sexist
"chair-critter"] said that the Federal government would have
to take over the control of the distribution and pricing of
electricity by the end of the century.  This is because he
thinks an international greenhouse treaty is inevitable.  The
Federal Government would then need to use its external affairs
powers to control the State electricity authorities.  He
recommends that Australia should look at developing an export
market in renewable  energy (solar, no doubt!).[55]  Keep in mind
that fossil or nuclear plants need areas much smaller than that
needed for solar collectors.  For example, the Queensland
Swanbank coal powered power station, with a generating capacity
of just under 1,000 MW, is on a site of 61 hectares.  I estimate
an equivalent solar collector plant needs over 12,000 hectares
(47 square miles).  And who said "small is beautiful"?![56]

And power "free" from the wind?  The Energy Authority of NSW
has been testing a 150kW wind turbine; the cost of the project
is $500,000 (1986).[57]  To produce 1,000MW (a typical capacity of a
nuclear or fossil plant) the cost would be over $3,000 million.
The previously mentioned Swanbank station cost $116 million in
1973 ($400 million in 1986 dollars).  But what's an extra few
billion dollars between friends (especially if the friends are
paying for it)?

But we have to act NOW! we are told.  Do we?  Yes.  Or no.
Some say it is already too late: "The ultimate effects will last
for centuries and will be irreversible," says an Environmental
Protection Agency draft report.[58]  Irreversible?  That is
probably what the hippopotamuses, lions and forest elephants
were complaining about while they were (so we are told) roaming
about England 120,000 years ago, when temperatures were 2.5[o]C
higher than today, and "falling".[59]  Obviously the environmentalists
of the time forgot to warn them to start the Ice Epoch
Industrial Revolution to keep things warm!  If things are really
too late, why bother?  If not, and if, as I submit, the need is
not for less energy, but for less polluting energy, then "the
panic lobby . . . who are forever screaming about acid rain and
greenhouse effect with slogans like `we cannot afford to wait
until our fears are confirmed' do not have to take this risk:
they can all support nuclear power now."[60]

So what if we do follow the environmentalists' advice and spend
billions providing land-consuming solar plants, wind or wave
generators dependent on fickle climatic conditions?  Does it
matter if they are wrong?  Of course not -- after all, it won't
cost "them" anything: it will be our children who have to pay.


(Revised January 13, 1988)
(Revised December 2009:
- Removed reference to where to buy the booklet form of this
article, as it is out of print.
- Minor syntax corrections.
- Corrected sunspot/sun activity relationship.)

R. J. Long, 
GPO Box [no longer valid],
Qld. Australia   4001

    1.[Back] "Access to Energy", August 1988.
    2.[Back] See, for example, "The Planet Imprisoned," "The Australian", September
  15, 1988, reprinted from "The Sunday Times".  Also, the front cover of
  "Time" magazine, October 19, 1987.
    3.[Back] H. E. Landsberg, "Global Climatic Trends," in "The Resourceful Earth,"
  Julian Simon and Herman Kahn (eds.), Basil Blackwell, New York, 1984, p.
    4.[Back] Landsberg, p. 291 (quoting Kellog and Schware).
    5.[Back] "The Weekend Australian," November 4-5 1988.
    6.[Back] Phil Noyce, "In Future", August 1987, p. 6.
    7.[Back] "The Age", March 18, 1988, quoting Dr. Graeme Pearman of the CSIRO.
  My emphasis.
    8.[Back] "The Australian", May 24, 1988.
    9.[Back] "Access to Energy", August 1988.
    10.[Back] "Access to Energy", August 1988.  Beckmann refers to Zimmerman and
  others in "Science", November 5, 1982.
    11.[Back] "The Australian", November 1, 1988.
    12.[Back] "Simply Living", vol. 3, no. 7, p. 113.
    13.[Back] "Encyclopaedia Britannica," 15th Edition, 1976, "volcanic gases."
    14.[Back] "Encyclopaedia Britannica," 15th Edition, 1976, "albedo."
    15.[Back] "Access to Energy," June 1987.
    16.[Back] Landsberg, in "The Resourceful Earth", p. 275.
    17.[Back] Iben Browning and Evelyn Garris, "Past and Future History", Fraser
  Publishing Co., 1981, p. 33.
    18.[Back] Stated at the Greenhouse 88 conference, and repeated in the "Beyond"
  "2000" tape.
    19.[Back] Phil Noyce, "Fouling our own nest," in "In Future", August 1987.
    20.[Back] "The Resourceful Earth", p. 287.
    21.[Back] "Past and Future History", p. 30.
    22.[Back] "The Resourceful Earth", p. 292.
    23.[Back] "The Resourceful Earth", p. 286.
    24.[Back] "The Australian", November 18, 1987.
    25.[Back] "Access to Energy," August, 1988.  Also, "New Scientist," October 22,
    26.[Back] "The Final Forecast?" in "The Weekend Australian", November 12, 1988.
  Reprinted from "The Times".
    27.[Back] Phil Noyce, "In Future", August 1987, p. 7.
    28.[Back] "The Resourceful Earth", p. 292.
    29.[Back] "The Resourceful Earth", p. 275.
    30.[Back] Ben Bremner, "World in a greenhouse getting ready to boil over," in
  "The Australian", August 8, 1988, p. 9.
    31.[Back] Richard Mabey, "What have we done to the weather?" in "The Weekend"
  "Australian", November 5-6, 1988.  Note again that the title implies that
  there is absolutely no doubt that mankind is to blame.
    32.[Back] Guy Murchie, "The World Aloft", Bantam Books, 1983, p. 121.
    33.[Back] See, for example the back page of "In Future", December 1987, or July
    34.[Back] "Science Show", ABC Radio, April 11, 1987.
    35.[Back] "The Population Bomb", p. 178.
    36.[Back] See Charles Maurice and Charles Smithson, "The Doomsday Myth", Hoover
  Institution Press, 1987.
    37.[Back] Paul Ehrlich, "The Population Bomb", Pan, 1968, in the prologue.  The
  book was published in association with the Friends of the Earth.
    38.[Back] "Idem".
    39.[Back] Petr Beckmann, "The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear", Golem
  Press, 1979, p. 175.
    40.[Back] Greenhouse 88 conference.
    41.[Back] Greenhouse 88 conference.
    42.[Back] Greenhouse 88 conference, comments by audience member.
    43.[Back] Charles Maurice and Charles Smithson, "The Doomsday Myth", Hoover
  Institution Press, 1987, pp. 62-63.
    44.[Back] "The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear", p. 176.
    45.[Back] Miron Dolot, "Execution by Hunger", Norton, 1987, p. 107.
    46.[Back] "Ibid", p. 157.
    47.[Back] "Access to Energy", June 1987.
    48.[Back] See also Sedjo and Clawson, "Global Forests," in "The Resourceful"
  "Earth", pp. 128-167.
    49.[Back] "The Investigators", ABC TV, November 1, 1988.
    50.[Back] Petr Beckmann, "Coal," in "The Resourceful Earth", p. 433.
    51.[Back] Brisbane Chair-critter of the Greenhouse 88 conference, Mary Maher.
  She also said that we now have "an artificial glut of oil, because of
  market forces."  And I always thought "market forces" deliberately
  withheld products from the market so that they could force up the price!
    52.[Back] Greenhouse 88 conference.
    53.[Back] "Beyond 2000" tape replay at Greenhouse 88 conference.
    54.[Back] "Access to Energy", October 1988.
    55.[Back] "Courier Mail", November 11, 1988.
    56.[Back] Based on 1kW solar influx, 10% collection efficiency, 50% collector
  spacing.  A factor of 6 times is needed to account for the extra area
  needed to supply storage units to cater for nightime and cloudy times
  (Beckmann, "Health Hazards", and private communication).  This is not to
  imply that solar power does not have appropriate, generally small scale,
    57.[Back] "Engineers Australia", September 5, 1986, p. 13.
    58.[Back] "The Australian", October 25, 1988.
    59.[Back] John Gribbin, "The Hole in the Sky", Corgi Books, 1988, p. 84.  The
  theme of this book is set by its subtitle: "Man's Threat to the Ozone
  Layer."  I have not addressed the "hole" in the ozone layer problem in
  this essay; suffice to say that it, too, is so fraught with uncertainties
  that it is impossible to honestly say that "it is all mankind's fault."
    60.[Back] "Access to Energy", June 1987, p. 3.

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