The UnAustralian

Friday, April 18, 2003
Global Warming

Since I've written a fair bit about global warming, I've decided to created a post summarising what I've written.

Global warming, is an interest of mine, and consequently, I've posted a fair bit on it.

A selection of interesting links on global warming can be found here, and here.

There is some stuff on the costs of the Kyoto protocol for Italy here. And here's a post on the costs of not doing anything about global warming, sea levels in this case.

I've been meaning to monitor global temperatures (translation: link to other websites) for a while. Here's the first post on this.

Here's some posts (links) on the relationship between the sun and global warming.

What a comparison between global warming skeptics and creationists? Here you go.

A couple of economists have critiqued the economic modeling behind the IPCC global warming scenarios. I started to lay out a case against them, but never got round to doing most of it. But anyway, this post introduces the models used by the IPCC, and this post compares predicted growth rates vs. historically observed growth rates. I've got a lot more to write about this, and will one day get around to it.

John Daly is a Australian global warming skeptic. At the request of Ken Parish (which was in turn induced by this post on the medieval warm period), I've looked at detail into one of his articles. Here, here, here, and here are a series of posts covering my comments on this article. These posts are summarised here. In order to get Daly's opinion on some of the sources of information he used, I emailed him twice. He replied to my second email, and I'm still waiting on his permission to publish it.

It's been suggested that the sun plays a greater role in global warming, than previously thought. Anybody interested in this, should find this post interesting. Likewise for this one.

Global warming effects the world in a number of ways. Here's a post on the recent drought and global warming.

Note: When I was writing this post, blogger decided to stop me reading my archives, so I published it incomplete, and what your reading is an updated version. I'll probably update this post multiple times in the future.
| 4:21 PM
Thursday, April 17, 2003
The Sun is Getting Hotter... Maybe

An interesting study has recently come out (sorry no link, but I'll hunt one down later) which suggests that the sun has be gradually warming over the last two decades, and this could account for about 1/2 of the warming attributed to global warming.

However, now solar scientist Judith Lean, has pointed out the presence of significant instrumental errors in the satellite data used in this report. I think that I'll keep watching this debate play out.
| 8:00 PM
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
How Many Chemical and Biological Weapons Should Iraq Have?

One of the most widely used rationales for attacking Iraq was the existence of large amounts of weapons of mass destruction (ie. chemical, biological and nuclear weapons + delivery mechanisms). Now that the Ba'athist regime has been defeated, and inspections are being carried out, things should get interesting. I can see three possible scenarios occuring:

1) No WMD found, and no evidence of a program to develop them (unlikely, but possible).
2) Limited numbers of WMD, as ex-Australian intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie suggested (most likely in my humble opinion).
3) Evidence that Iraq had an hidden efficent chemical and/or biological weapon program, with stockpiles of weapons.

When trying to assey which scenario is correct, it is important to note just how many potential WMD precersors the weapon inspectors claimed Iraq couldn't account for.

From this British Labour party summary we get the following (concentrating on the weapons themselves, not the missiles):

550 shells filled with mustard gas unaccounted for.

Around 350 R-400 bombs (capable of delivering chemical or biological weapons) unaccounted for. Photographic evidence contradicts Iraqi claims that all R-400A (marked as filled with botulinum toxin and anthrax) were destroyed in July or August 2001.

Iraq has just admitted (in the "Air Force Document") that there are a further 6,500 chemical weapon filled bombs (could contain up to 1,000 tonnes chemical warfare agents) now unaccounted for.

UNSCOM found evidence that contradicted Iraqi claims that they never weaponised VX. UNMOVIC "cannot exclude" that Iraq has retained VX capability.

No adequate evidence to support declared amounts of precursors for of Tabun, Sarin, Cyclo-Sarin and VX.

80 tonnes of mustard gas unaccounted for: Iraqi documents show "could be substantially higher".

Undocumented programmes: inadequate records for production of and research into VX, Sarin, Soman, mustard gas.

"Strong presumption that about 10,000 litres of anthrax was not destroyed and may still exist".

Undeclared growth media capable of producing an estimated: 6-16,000 litres anthrax; 3-11,000 litres botulinum toxin; up to 5,600 litres of clostridium perfringens.

Insufficient or destroyed records for production of botulinum, research into aflatoxin, research into economic weapons, indications of interest in other programmes. Cannot rule out possibility that complete list of biological warfare agents has not been declared by Iraq, or that Iraq conducted research into biological warfare-related genetic engineering.

Likewise, this CIA report (from October 2002) finds the following:

Iraq probably has concealed precursors, production equipment, documentation, and other items necessary for continuing its CW effort.  Baghdad never supplied adequate evidence to support its claims that it destroyed all of its CW agents and munitions.  Thousands of tons of chemical precursors and tens of thousands of unfilled munitions, including Scud-variant missile warheads, remain unaccounted for.

UNSCOM discovered a document at Iraqi Air Force headquarters in July 1998 showing that Iraq overstated by at least 6,000 the number of chemical bombs it told the UN it had used during the Iran-Iraq War?bombs that remain are unaccounted for.

Iraq has not accounted for 15,000 artillery rockets that in the past were its preferred means for delivering nerve agents, nor has it accounted for about 550 artillery shells filled with mustard agent.

Iraq probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons (MT) and possibly as much as 500 MT of CW agents.

So if Iraq still had a substantial WMD program (scenario 3), it is resonable to expect that very large quantities of weapons and precursors should be found. If the Iraqi program was "fragmented and contained" (scenario 2) then small quantities of weapons should be found.

Now we just have to wait and see.
| 6:01 PM
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Apparently they have found some mobile research labs buried in Iraq. Assuming these are actually used for research.

Personally, I suspect that Andrew Wilkie had it right when he said that Iraq WMD program is "fragmented and contained". The non-usage of WMD during the war, with the existance of stockpiled labs supports this.

Sources: CNN, Guardian

Note: Bargarz (no permentant links yet) also comments on this. I would be interested to see if he can actually name the people who ridiculed Colin Powell for mentioning the mobile labs.
| 5:44 PM
Green House Gases Vs. The Sun

An interesting theory has recently been post on about whether changes in the sun or greenhouse gases are causing the recent warming.

It essentially goes like this:

If GHG are the major cause of the recent warming, one would expect the warming to be greater at the higher latitudes. This is because the air is drier (water vapour is the biggest GHG) so gases like CO2 are of significantly greater importance.

Whereas, if the warming was caused by solar changes, the greatest warming trend should be at the lower latitudes (because these areas get more sunlight).

So what have the warming trends been like...

This site allows you to draw up your own map of warming trends and anomalies. To construct your own map, you will need to change the ocean from none to Hadyl/Reyn_v2, the map type to trends, and the time interval to 1880 - 2003.

So what do we see... the areas of greatest warming are at the higher latitudes.

In reality, the worlds climate variability, is effected (at least at these time scales) by GHG, solar effects and aerosols, but this simple observation, does large amounts of damage to those who claim that the recent warming is mostly solar induced.

Source: Roger Coppock
| 5:24 PM
Quote of the Day

I am so outraged that Saddam Hussein took the profits of the dictatorship's oil wells. And to learn that he deposited the vast sums of money in foreign bank accounts. Well I never. What a bad man. In the light of this information about the character of this disreputable man, I will bite my tongue if I ever criticise Westerners again. Compared to him we are good. Until we are equally as bad as him, we are above reproach. I have finally understood this neocon concept of "moral equivalence".

-- William Burrough
| 4:18 PM
Sunday, April 13, 2003
Post War World

Now that the war in Iraq is starting to wind down, hopefully reconstruction efforts will start to gather pace soon. However it is interesting to look at other dictatorships and see how they respond to the recent events. The of the selling points of the war, was that it would encourage democracy in the Middle East. Hopefully, this will be so.

However, there are some discouraging signs. The other two members of the axis of evil have accelerated their nuclear programs. This can only be bad, but it makes sense. I bet Saddam wishes he had a couple of nukes. Other dictatorships, such as Cuba and Vietnam, appear to be tightening up on dissent. If this repression is to be a permeant thing, rather than a one off, this will be incredibly bad, as gradual evolution into a liberal state is the best hope for these countries.

However, like all things, only time will tell whether or not the war in Iraq was overall positive or negative for the people on this planet.
| 1:52 PM