Warmist crooks above: Keith "One tree" Briffa; Michael "Bristlecone" Mann; James "data distorter" Hansen; Phil "data destroyer" Jones -- Leading members in the cabal of climate quacks

The CO2 that is supposed to warm the earth is mostly in the upper atmosphere, where it is very cold. Yet that CO2 is said to warm the earth. How can heat flow from a cold body to a hot one? Strange thermodynamics!

Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the .6 of one degree average rise reported for the entire 20th century by the United Nations (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows in fact that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.

There is an "ascetic instinct" (or perhaps a "survivalist instinct") in many people that causes them to delight in going without material comforts. Monasteries and nunneries were once full of such people -- with the Byzantine stylites perhaps the most striking example. Many Greenies (other than Al Gore and his Hollywood pals) have that instinct too but in the absence of strong orthodox religious committments they have to convince themselves that the world NEEDS them to live in an ascetic way. So their personal emotional needs lead them to press on us all a delusional belief that the planet needs "saving".

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31 August, 2012

An economist who exposes his gullibility about climate

The emission below by economist Robert Frank appeared recently in the NYT. Looking at today's NYT coverage of the GOP convention, nobody could mistake the NYT for objective but perhaps the nonsense deserves some reply nonetheless.

It is quite amusing to note the evidence Prof. Frank puts forward for his assertions: It is what "many climate scientists" say. What a pathetic argument! An 11 year old could have done as well. If Prof. Frank is the best Cornell can do, he is a sad reflection of its decayed intellectual standards

Martin Herzberg has sent the NYT a reply to their bit of propaganda but you can be sure that it will not be published. I therefore reproduce it following Prof. Frank's ruminations -- JR

DON'T expect to hear much about climate change at the Republican and Democratic conventions. Yes, there will be plenty of speeches about unemployment, budget deficits and other immediate problems. But the threats posed by global warming are decades away - or so we have been told repeatedly in recent years.

Many climate scientists, however, are now pointing to evidence linking rising global temperatures to the extreme weather we're seeing around the planet. The United States has just endured its hottest 12-month period on record. The worst drought in a generation has parched the nation's crop belt. Floods that happened once a century now occur every few years.

With distressing images of weather-related disasters saturating the news media, climate change no longer seems such a distant and abstract worry - except, perhaps, in Washington. In 2009, President Obama persuaded House Democrats, then in the majority, to pass a bill aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Facing a Republican filibuster in the Senate, however, the legislation died. And its prospects dimmed further when Republicans took control of the House in 2010. Mr. Obama has remained relatively silent on the issue since then.

Mitt Romney, for his part, has been equivocal about whether rising temperatures are caused by human action. But he has been adamant that uncertainty about climate change rules out policy intervention. "What I'm not willing to do," he told an audience in New Hampshire last summer, "is spend trillions of dollars on something I don't know the answer to."

Climatologists are the first to acknowledge that theirs is a highly uncertain science. The future might be better than they think. Then again, it might be much worse. Given that risk, policy makers must weigh the potential cost of action against the potential cost of inaction. And even a cursory look at the numbers makes a compelling case for action.

According to the respected [Respected by whom? Instead of invoking its respect, might we have some summary of its track-record of prediction?] M.I.T. global climate simulation model, there is a 10 percent chance that average surface temperatures will rise by more than 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. Warming on that scale could end life as we know it. Smaller increases would be less catastrophic, but even the most optimistic projections imply enormous costs.

The good news is that we could insulate ourselves from catastrophic risk at relatively modest cost by enacting a steep carbon tax. Early studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that a carbon tax of up to $80 per metric ton of emissions - a tax that might raise gasoline prices by 70 cents a gallon - would eventually result in climate stability. But because recent estimates about global warming have become more pessimistic, stabilization may require a much higher tax. How hard would it be to live with a tax of, say, $300 a ton?

If such a tax were phased in, the prices of goods would rise gradually in proportion to the amount of carbon dioxide their production or use entailed. The price of gasoline, for example, would slowly rise by somewhat less than $3 a gallon. Motorists in many countries already pay that much more than Americans do, and they seem to have adapted by driving substantially more efficient vehicles.

A carbon tax would also serve two other goals. First, it would help balance future budgets. Tens of millions of Americans are set to retire in the next decades, and, as a result, many budget experts agree that federal budgets simply can't be balanced with spending cuts alone. We'll also need substantial additional revenue, most of which could be generated by a carbon tax.

If new taxes are unavoidable, why not adopt ones that not only help balance the budget but also help make the economy more efficient? By reducing harmful emissions, a carbon tax fits that description.

A second benefit would occur if a carbon tax were approved today but phased in gradually, only after the economy had returned to full employment. High unemployment persists in part because businesses, sitting on mountains of cash, aren't investing it because their current capacity already lets them produce more than people want to buy. News that a carbon tax was coming would create a stampede to develop energy-saving technologies. Hundreds of billions of dollars of private investment might be unleashed without adding a cent to the budget deficit.

SOME people argue that a carbon tax would do little good unless it were also adopted by China and other big polluters. It's a fair point. But access to the American market is a potent bargaining chip. The United States could seek approval to tax imported goods in proportion to their carbon dioxide emissions if exporting countries failed to enact carbon taxes at home.

In short, global warming has a fairly simple and cheap technical solution [to a non-existent problem]. Extreme weather is already creating enormous human suffering. If it continues, politicians will have a hard time ignoring the problem when the 2016 conventions roll around. If the recent meteorological chaos drives home the threat of climate change and prompts action, it may ultimately be a blessing in disguise.


Covering letter to NYT from Dr. Martin Hertzberg

If Prof. Frank had done his science homework by researching the totality of the climatological data rather than regurgitating the cherry-picked, fear mongering hysteria of environmental lobbyists, he would have realized that a carbon tax will have no effect either on atmospheric CO2 or the weather.

His "hottest 12 month period of record" in the US was accompanied by average global temperatures that were quite normal. Blocking high pressures are quite common during the warmer months. They give cloudless skies when the Sun is nearest to Zenith, descending air which is adiabatically heated and dried, giving heat waves and droughts. They are quite common and have nothing to do with atmospheric CO2. The recent one in the U S was rather mild compared to the ones in the mid 1930's that gave us the "dust bowl" at a time when human CO2 emission was much lower than it is today.

So in case the Times is really interested in presenting an accurate analysis rather than aiding and abetting one of the greatest frauds in the history of science, I have attached an article for your consideration, in the hope that you will at least begin to set the record straight on this issue.

Enclosure from Dr. Herzberg

The Lynching of Carbon Dioxide

I served as a forecasting and research meteorologist while on active duty with the U. S. Navy. It was then that I first learned what climatologists and meteorologists have known for centuries and what the current crop of so-called "climate scientists" and EPA administrators apparently never learned: that weather and climate are controlled by natural laws on an enormous scale that dwarfs human activity. Those laws engender forces and motions in our atmosphere and oceans that are beyond human control. Weather and climate existed long before humans appeared on Earth, and will continue to exist in the same way long after we are gone.

Those forces and motions are driven by the following: First, the motions of the Earth relative to the Sun: the periodic changes in its elliptical orbit, its rotation about its polar axis, changes in the tilt of that axis, and the precession of that axis. Second, the variation in solar activity that influences the radiant energy reaching the Earth and modulates cosmic ray activity which controls cloudiness. Third, the distribution of land and water on the Earth's surface; which controls its temperature distribution, moisture availability, monsoon effects, hurricanes, and other storm tracks. Fourth, the topography of the Earth's surface which causes copious precipitation on the windward side of mountains and aridity on the leeward side. Fifth, the fluid motions within the Earth's oceans that determine moisture availability and ocean surface temperatures (El Nino and La Nina cycles).

Water in all of its forms is the main agent through which those forces operate. It provides vapor in the atmosphere, heat transport by evaporation and condensation, and the enormous, circulating mass of the ocean whose heat capacity dominates. And finally it provides the cloud, snow, and ice cover that control the radiative balance between the Sun, the Earth, and free space.

While the presence of 0.04 % of CO2 in our atmosphere is essential for life in the biosphere, the notion that such a minor constituent of the atmosphere can control the above forces and motions, is absurd. There is not one iota of reliable evidence that it does. Furthermore, human emission of CO2 is but a trivial fraction of all natural sources and sinks of CO2. Human emission dissolves rapidly into the ocean and re-circulates within it. The ocean contains 50 times more dissolved CO2 than is contained in the atmosphere. The current small measured increase in CO2 is coming from the oceans: the same place CO2 changes came from during the 400,000 years shown in the Vostok ice-core data. That data show four glacial coolings each followed by an interglacial warming with atmospheric CO2 concentrations near their highest during the warmings and near their lowest during the coolings.

In all cases, however, the temperature changes precede the CO2 changes by about 500 - 1,000 years. Each glacial cooling and interglacial warming cycle has a period of about 100,000 years, which corresponds to the periodic changes in the Earth's elliptical orbit about the sun. Those increases and decreases in atmospheric CO2 occurred long before any significant human emission of CO2. And furthermore, the fact that they were preceded by the temperature changes means that the temperature changes are causing the CO2 changes and not the reverse. As oceans warm, they emit CO2, and as they cool they absorb it. Bubbles of CO2 are emitted from cold soda as it is poured into a warm glass, and soda is produced by dissolving CO2 into cold water.

When initially formulated by the Anthropogenic Global Warming advocates, their theory argued that greenhouse gases kept the Earth's surface warm by absorbing its infrared energy and then radiating it back down to the Earth below. Greenhouse gases were thus "heat trapping" gases. Originally, that was supposed to cause "global warming". But there has been no global warming for the last 10 years despite the increase in atmospheric CO2. So global warming morphed into "climate change", but climate is always changing. So it then morphed into "extreme weather events" which really catches people's attention. The latest projected catastrophe is "ocean acidification", although the ocean is about 100 times more basic than it is acidic, and that even a doubling of the CO2 concentration will have a trivial effect on its basicity.

The latest modification to the theory argues that by its infrared absorption, CO2 "blocks the Earth's natural cooling". The proponents of that theory seem to have forgotten Kirchhoff's fundamental law of radiation. A strong absorber of radiation is also a strong emitter of that radiation. Hence atmospheric CO2 emits as strongly as it absorbs. None of that emission from the colder CO2 in the atmosphere can go back to the warmer Earth's surface below (2nd law of thermodynamics). The only place where it can go is to the void of free space above the atmosphere. Thus atmospheric CO2 blocks nothing but simply continues that natural cooling.

All of the believers in human caused "global warming" seem to see something "unprecedented" in the recent changes in temperature. But all recent changes are well within the normal range of variability, and recent small temperature excursions have been matched or exceeded many times in the past: the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period, the Minoan Warm Period, the Holocene Warming, and all the major interglacial warmings that preceded them as shown in the Vostok data. They all occurred without any significant human emission of CO2.

The catastrophe that the global warming advocates project may indeed be realized, but only if we are stupid enough to implement draconian measures of "carbon control" based on the fraudulent theory that they espouse.

Warmists are clinging like drowning men to the "Arctic Ice Hits Record Low!" claim

Here are a couple of graphs that would disturb them if they were open to reason

SOUTHERN hemisphere ice is ABOVE average. So whatever is going on it is not GLOBAL warming. And there is far more ice in the Antarctic than in the Arctic so it is the Southern ice that really matters

Completely contrary to the NSDIC claims, Britain's Met. office shows the Artic ice as recovering

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Gore: Don't blame Bush for everything, then blames global warming for everything

The snow is on Big Al's hair but there is no snow in his mind -- too much hot air for that

Former Vice President Al Gore spoke on his cable station, Current TV, about the RNC in Tampa, why Democrats shouldn't blame George W. Bush for everything, and of course his favorite bugaboo, global warming, which he then proceeds to blame for, well, everything. The following are some choice excerpts made by Gore during the RNC coverage, and then the facts:

Gore: "Global warming is real and they refuse to connect those dots. We have the whole country suffering from this massive drought."

Fact: Texas has been particularly hard hit by drought. Source

Gore: "West Nile Virus is directly connected to the conditions that global warming has made worse."

Fact: CDC officials estimate that, based on current numbers, the final tally of overall U.S. cases will likely be similar to the number of cases seen in 2002 and 2003, two of the more cooler years of the past 11. Texas has been hardest hit, with 783 reported cases. CDC officials said floods and hurricanes do not increase transmission rates. A person gets infected by a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes need water to lay eggs. Source

Gore: "The whole North polar ice cap is disappearing in front of our eyes."

Fact: Other sources show no record low Arctic ice extent.

Gore: "Twelve massive million-dollar-plus climate-related disasters and they keep coming."

Fact: Quietest tornado summer on record. Quietest hurricane summer on record. Quietest long-term hurricane period since the Civil War. No global warming for 16 years. No change in sea-level-rise rates. Record cold in the Midwest. Average fire season. A cyclical drought affecting portions of the country. Source

Gore: "They [Republicans] aren't only doing nothing about it, there's hardly any discussion about [global warming pollution]. It drives me crazy."

Fact: CO2 is not a pollutant. Without it, all vegetation on Earth would cease to exist. Global warming is still a theory. It has been disproven as the cause of natural, cyclic climate change by over 1,100 peer-reviewed papers. As for Al Gore's state of mind, we leave that up to the reader to decide.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Obama sets target of 54.5 mpg by 2025

"A week is a long time in politics" and 2025 is another planet -- so this is just hot air, global warming almost. Americans are not going to consent to driving around in eggshells

US vehicle fleets will need to average 54.5 miles per gallon beginning in 2025, about double the level today and one automakers had for years declared was impossible, according to new fuel-efficiency standards set Tuesday by the Obama administration.

The new standards - endorsed by automakers as facilitating long-term planning and lauded by environmentalists as leading toward a cleaner energy future - were nevertheless deplored by some Republicans in Congress as burdensome.

As part of its program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the administration previously set a goal of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.

Tuesday's move vaults the energy-saving engine technology bar yet again for automakers - and for individual consumers, who are projected to save thousands of dollars at the gas pump on their way to cutting US oil consumption by about 700 million barrels per year.

"The Auto Alliance has called for a single, national program because conflicting requirements from several regulatory bodies raise costs, ultimately taking money out of consumers' pockets and hurting sales," the group of 13 major automakers - including Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo - said in a statement. "We all want to get more fuel-efficient autos on our roads, and a single, national program with a strong midterm review helps us get closer to that shared goal."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, whose agencies tightly coordinated to arrive at achievable pollution and fuel-reduction numbers that the automakers could live with, announced the mileage standards at a press conference.


Warming far from global -- it didn't even happen in Virginia

Some serious "negligence" about the data is evident

NOAA recently announced that July 2012 was the hottest month on record for the CONUS. As the above map shows, though, only Virginia actually broke the state record for July, logging up 79.0F, beating the previous record set in July 1934 of 78.6F. Or, at least, that's what NOAA tell us, but what do the thermometers say?


There are nineteen USHCN stations in Virginia. NOAA tell us :-

"The USHCN is actually a designated subset of the NOAA Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) Network the USHCN sites having been selected according to their spatial coverage, record length, data completeness, and historical stability."

In other words they are picked as being robust and reliable. Out of the nineteen, only thirteen have records back to 1934 and these are listed below with comparisons of this year's temperatures with those of July 1934. The temperatures shown are the actual original readings, and not adjusted, homogenised or otherwise tampered with! (The original handwritten/typed monthly records for these can be accessed on the USHCN site here).

As can be seen, only three stations out of the thirteen show this year as being warmer. You will also note that I have indicated the climatological division for each station. There are six such divisions for Virginia, as listed below, so all divisions are represented.

So how can we explain the difference between NOAA's figures and the evidence from the USHCN stations?

As Anthony Watts has often complained, NOAA seem to be very reluctant to divulge how they operate. We do, however, know how the current temperatures are worked out.There are 124 stations in Virginia, split into the six divisions, with a simple average taken of the set of stations in each division. The divisions, as previously noted, are then weighted to give a statewide figure.

The real mystery, though, is how they arrive at the 1934 number. There are State Climatological Reports available from then, but no direct comparison can be made with current ones because there were less stations then and they were allocated to only three divisions instead of six. Also the majority of stations reporting in 1934 no longer report now. (For interest, the State temperature given at the time for July 1934 was 78.8F, i.e. 0.2F higher than now shown).

When I asked Deke Arndt of NOAA how they calculated the temperatures for 1934, he seemed as confused as me!

So it would appear the temperatures that NOAA now declare for 1934 are no more than a "theoretical reconstruction". But without the transparency to show how this has been done, how can we have any confidence that it has been done properly. There is a potential discrepancy of 0.6F in Virginia; if this is extended across the whole country, it would destroy the claim that this July was the hottest month on record as July 1936 was only 0.13F cooler on NOAA's record. Indeed this would only the 5th warmest July in the CONUS.

So here's my challenge for NOAA. Prove me wrong. Prove that the USHCN station analysis is not giving the true picture. Show how you come to the conclusions you do and prove that they are correct.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics)

Merkel's Green Shift Forces Germany to Burn More of that hated Coal

Even (gasp!) the terminally awful (but cheap) brown coal (lignite)

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government says RWE AG (RWE)'s new power plant that can supply 3.4 million homes aids her plan to exit nuclear energy and switch to cleaner forms of generation. It's fired with coal.

The startup of the 2,200-megawatt station near Cologne last week shows how Europe's largest economy is relying more on the most-polluting fuel. Coal consumption has risen 4.9 percent since Merkel announced a plan to start shutting the country's atomic reactors after last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Enlarge image Merkel's Green Shift Forces Germany to Burn More Coal

Germany's largest utilities RWE and EON AG (EOAN) are shunning cleaner-burning natural gas because it's more costly, while the collapsing cost of carbon permits means there's little penalty for burning coal. Wind and solar projects, central to Germany's plans to reduce nuclear energy and cut the release of heat- trapping gases, can't produce electricity around the clock.

Germany's increasing coal consumption is part of a global return to the fossil fuel that's cheaper than most alternatives. The amount of coal burned worldwide rose 5.4 percent to account for 30 percent of total energy use last year, the highest proportion since 1969, according to BP Plc (BP/) data.

European Union carbon emissions may rise 43 million metric tons this year because of increased coal burning at power stations, according to Barclays Plc analyst Trevor Sikorski.

"Lignite is the lowest-priced type of power generation and thus increasingly stormed the market," Martin Pack, an RWE spokesman, said by phone from Essen, referring to a type of soft coal that dominates RWE's consumption of the fuel.

EON generated 10 percent more electricity from burning coal in the first half than in the same period a year ago. RWE's coal-fired power output in Germany rose by 12 percent in the same period. Reliance on coal may continue to increase after Statkraft SF shuttered its gas-fired plant in Emden in March and EON and RWE warned they may mothball generators that lose money.

Merkel's government wants utilities to build 10,000 megawatts of coal- and gas-fired generators this decade to replace older, dirtier generators and underpin a growing share for wind turbines and solar panels.

Building new coal generators in Germany isn't easy. A group of local utilities last month scrapped plans to spend 3.2 billion euros to construct the nation's biggest hard-coal plant in Schleswig-Holstein after resistance from environment groups and the state government led by the Social Democratic Party and Green Party.

The Greens, Germany's second-biggest opposition group, are against building new coal plants and favor gas ahead of Germany's federal elections scheduled for the fall of 2013, when Merkel seeks to win a third term as chancellor.

The so-called BoA coal plant near Cologne shows how new fossil fuel plants, which are more efficient than their older models, "not only help to reduce carbon emissions but can also make an outstanding contribution to the success of the energy industry's transformation," Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, who was present at the plant's opening last week, said in a statement distributed by RWE.

RWE says coal plants are key to ensuring supply security as Germany raises the market share of renewable generation to at least 35 percent by the end of the decade, and to 80 percent by 2050. BoA, which has an efficiency of 43 percent, can raise or lower output by 500 megawatts per unit within 15 minutes, Peter Terium, RWE's CEO, told reporters in a call on Aug. 14.

It can "step in immediately when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining," Terium said. Like most power plants in Germany, BoA burns lignite, a soft coal that's sourced from domestic open-cast strip mines and emits about 29 percent more carbon dioxide than hard coal when burned. Environmental groups are concerned about the growing use of the fuel.

"It's very alarming that leading German politicians praise a plant run on lignite," Gerald Neubauer, a Greenpeace campaigner in Germany focusing on energy issues, said by phone on Aug. 16. "Burning lignite spews more carbon dioxide than using most other energy sources, and mining it inflicts major damage on the environment."



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30 August, 2012

Must not report climate findings without mentioning global warming

In the newspaper report below you will see various mentions of the global warming faith interspersed with some actual research findings. If you look up the actual findings however (Abstract below) you will see that they actually had no data on global warming at all. All they had was inferred data on rainfall derived from Antarctic ice cores covering the last 1000 years.

And what they found was that the climate 1000 years ago was much the same as today, with a slightly rainier period in between. That proves global warming? I would have thought the opposite. One thing it does prove is that you have to bow down before the great Moloch of global warming if you want to do research into climate

NEW research by Antarctic scientists has found the century-long decline in rainfall in eastern Australia is far from a usual event.

Researchers used ice cores drilled from Antarctica to analyse rainfall during the past 1000 years.

They found we are living in drier than average times, in all likelihood because of climate change caused by human activity.

Significantly, though, they also found a similar dry spell in the years 1000-1260 AD.

"There's a bit of research in eastern Australia going on that suggests that rainfall in eastern Australia is declining, probably since the 50s," says glaciologist Dr Tessa Vance, part of a team whose findings have been published in the Journal of Climate.

"But it's a bit hard to tell with short records.

"So this record now says we've got this decline, but it's not only unusual in the last few decades, it's unusual in the last thousand years."

The ice cores contain traces of sea salts deposited by winds in eastern Antarctica that provide the longest rainfall record yet for eastern Australia.

The team, from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre and the Australian Antarctic Division, attributes both dry spells to stronger or more frequent El Nino events, the cyclic dry that affects eastern Australia every few years.

But that doesn't mean the decline in rainfall over the past century is purely a natural phenomenon.

"There's other research going on that suggests that not only do El Ninos bring hotter years - so possibly there's a temperature link in one direction - but maybe hotter temperatures give you more El Ninos as well," Dr Vance said.

"We know this current period is being warmed by humans.

"So if that's having an effect on the frequency of El Ninos or the strength of them, then it's definitely leading to a drier eastern Australia."

The team plans to extend the research back at least another thousand years to provide a historical model for climate scientists.

Journal of Climate 2012
A millennial proxy record of ENSO and eastern Australian rainfall from the Law Dome ice core, East Antarctica

By Tessa R. Vance et al.


ENSO causes climate extremes across and beyond the Pacific Basin, however evidence of ENSO at high southern latitudes is generally restricted to the South Pacific and West Antarctica. Here we report a statistically significant link between ENSO and sea salt deposition during summer from the Law Dome (LD) ice core in East Antarctica. ENSO-related atmospheric anomalies from the central-western Equatorial Pacific (CWEP) propagate to the South Pacific and the circumpolar high latitudes. These anomalies modulate high latitude zonal winds, with El Niño (La Niña) conditions causing reduced (enhanced) zonal wind speeds and subsequently, reduced (enhanced) summer sea salt deposition at LD. Over the last 1010 years, the LD summer sea salt (LDSSS) record has exhibited two below average (El Niño-like) epochs, 1000-1260 AD and 1920-2009 AD, and a longer above average (La Niña-like) epoch from 1260-1860 AD. Spectral analysis shows the below average epochs are associated with enhanced ENSO-like variability around 2-5 years, while the above average epoch is associated more with variability around 6-7 years. The LDSSS record is also significantly correlated with annual rainfall in eastern mainland Australia. While the correlation displays decadal-scale variability similar to changes in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), the LDSSS record suggests rainfall in the modern instrumental era (1910-2009 AD) is below the long-term average. In addition, recent rainfall declines in some regions of eastern and south-eastern Australia appear to be mirrored by a downward trend in the LDSSS record, suggesting current rainfall regimes are unusual though not unknown over the last millennium.


Brand-new skeptical movie just out

It's good. View it here

Israel not taken in by solar fantasies

Israel has developed some of the world's most advanced solar energy equipment and enjoys a nearly endless supply of sunshine, but when it comes to deploying large-scale solar technology at home, the country remains in the dark ages.

Solar power provides just a tiny percentage of Israel's energy needs, leaving it far behind colder, cloudier counterparts in Europe. Israeli solar companies, frustrated by government bureaucracy, have taken their expertise abroad. Industry leaders such as Germany and Italy have outpaced Israel in solar development, despite having fewer sunny days and less powerful sunrays. The Germans, for instance, generate nearly 12 times as much solar power per capita as their Israeli counterparts, according to official statistics from both countries.

One of the biggest complaints by Israeli solar companies is the bureaucracy. Smadar Bat-Adam, chief of staff for Israel's Energy and Water Resources Ministry, acknowledged that red tape has been an issue. But she targets set years ago to ramp up solar power were overly ambitious. Israel is on track to reach its 2020 benchmark of generating 10 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources, she said.


Solyndra backers could reap big tax breaks

Two investment firms could walk away from the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra LLC with hundreds of millions of dollars in future tax breaks, the U.S. government said in court papers seeking more information on the arrangement.

Units of Argonaut Ventures and Madrone Partners could end up with "significantly more" than $500 million in tax benefits as part of Solyndra's bankruptcy, the Department of Energy and the Internal Revenue Service said in a bankruptcy court filing on Friday.
Under the bankruptcy plan, the U.S. government is unlikely to recoup much of its $528 million loan to Solyndra.

The government agencies asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, to reject Solyndra's "disclosure statement," which describes its plan to repay creditors, unless the company provides more details on the tax benefits.

Under the proposed plan, tax benefits such as "net operating losses" would be preserved for Argonaut, which is controlled by a foundation linked to billionaire George Kaiser, and Madrone. Under a 2011 restructuring, the two firms committed to investing $75 million to keep Solyndra afloat with the condition they would be repaid before the U.S. government.


Dark clouds gather over China's once-booming solar industry

China's push into solar energy was supposed to be a proud example of how the country was advancing into hi-tech manufacturing. But now the whole sector is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Two years ago, LDK Solar, one of China's largest solar panel makers, built a new, state-of-the-art factory in the central city of Hefei.

It sits in one of the city's industrial parks, a big LDK Solar logo on its wall, with the New York-listed company's slogan underneath: "Lighting the Future".

"It cost 2.5 billion yuan (£250m) to build, the majority of the equipment was imported from Germany, and it hired 5,000 staff," said Jie Xiaoming, a 30-year-old who works at the plant's quality control and packaging department.

Last month, however, 4,500 of the staff were put on gardening leave. They receive 700 yuan a month to stay at home. The factory has shut down 24 of its 32 production lines.

"There do not seem to be any orders. People are still turning up for work, but mostly just sleeping. The management has not said much, just that the United States has a new policy that is stopping our exports," said Mr Jie.

Since it was set up in 2005, LDK Solar, along with several other Chinese solar panel makers, has enjoyed heady growth. Solar power, along with biotechnology and aerospace, was declared a "strategic emerging industry" and was given grants and low-cost loans.

It funnelled the cheap credit into an aggressive expansion, hoping to provide an entire industry chain of products and services.

Meanwhile, in Europe and the US, governments provided subsidies to buy Chinese-made panels as part of commitments to boost renewable energy.

But the incentives created a glut of suppliers, and since 2010, the price of polysilicon wafers has fallen by nearly three-quarters. The price is now below the production cost - in the latest quarter, LDK Solar's gross margin was -65.5pc.

Meanwhile, the debt crisis in Europe has cut government subsidies to the sector and the US imposed a 31pc tariff in May on Chinese wafers, complaining that manufacturers were being underwritten by the government.

In July a group of 25 European solar companies followed suit, filing an anti-dumping complaint with the European Union.

At the same time, the quality of the solar equipment being made by Chinese companies, even by the biggest companies, is often not export-grade.

While the Chinese government has promised to hugely increase its purchases of solar panels, there is a significant excess capacity in the domestic market that has kept prices low.

China's big five firms are all reporting disastrous trading and heavily indebted balance sheets. At the end of the first quarter, JA Solar listed debt and liabilities of $1.5 billion, Trina Solar had debts of $1.08 billion, and Yingli had debts of $3.44 billion.

Suntech, once held up as a model company, could have to pay $690m in collateral related to a possible fraud, and it also has a $541m convertible bond payment in early 2013. Its total debts are $3.58 billion.

In the first quarter, LDK lost $185.2m as sales dropped by nearly 75pc. "When they came to remove staff, they simply chose a percentage who would remain," said another worker outside the Hefei plant, who declined to be named. "The whole industry is doing badly, and LDK also had a strategy problem. There is no point in worrying now. It is simply a matter of time before the factory closes. I give it a maximum of six months," he said.

For the time being, the Chinese government is determined to keep LDK alive. The authorities in Xinyu, where it is headquartered, have announced they will roll 500 million yuan of the company's debts into their annual budget.

A bank official told Caixin, a Chinese magazine, that Xinyu government had set aside a total of 2 billion yuan to bail out the firm. Government officials, who boasted that they wanted to turn Xinyu into a "silicon town", are desperate not to lose face. But so far LDK is rumoured to have laid off 10,000 workers and defaulted on payments of around 600 million yuan to 20 suppliers, according to Caixin.

"I don’t think we will close though. I think the worst situation we will be sold," said Mr Jie. "Apparently Sharp is interested."

Sharp's interest is unclear, and so far there has been no queue of buyers. Jiangxi Copper Corporation was rumoured to be a possible bidder, on the orders of the local government, but Pan Qifang, secretary of its board of directors, summed up the general wariness of the market: "Our company is not familiar with the solar industry, so we cannot rush into it," he said.


While Europe Dithers, Shale Boom Spreads To Russia

The use of horizontal drilling will grow faster in Russia than in the United States, where it is helping to drive a boom in shale oil and gas, the chief executive of Eurasia Drilling said.

“Growth in the U.S. will not be so huge as the growth of horizontal drilling in Russia,” Alexander Djaparidze, who helped found the company in a buyout of LUKoil’s drilling assets, said in an interview.

In the space of last year, Eurasia Drilling, which acquired Schlumberger’s Russian drilling assets in April 2011, reported that horizontal drilling doubled from 2010 to nearly 900,000 meters.

This year it has told investors it will increase, in line with overall drilling volumes, at about a rate of 15 percent.

Horizontal drilling is technically more challenging and more expensive than conventional vertical drilling but taps hydrocarbon reservoirs more effectively and yields better flows.
Russian oil companies, faced with annual decline rates of 2 percent in their West Siberian home base, where Soviet-era fields generate 85 percent of the country’s 10.3 million barrel per day output, have stepped up the use of unconventional technologies to secure Russia’s position as the world’s top producer.

Beyond the conventional plays of Western Siberia lies the Bazhenov Formation, potentially the world’s richest oil shale, which the government hopes to unlock using tax breaks that it announced earlier this year to coax companies to invest in cutting edge drilling technologies.

The Bazhenov was touted as “80 times bigger than the Bakken” and could yield 1 million barrels per day by 2020, research firm Bernstein has said — referring to the prolific Bakken shale deposit in the northern United States.

Further out are the Arctic seas, where Rosneft will start exploring in 2015 under a partnership deal with ExxonMobil. It has similar deals with Norway’s Statoil and Italy’s Eni.
New awareness of the potential to boost production on the part of the government, concerned to sustain hydrocarbon output that yields more than 50 percent of budget revenues, has made analysts bullish on drillers operating in Russia.

“We see the oil service companies as the major beneficiaries of the upcoming exploration drive into offshore and hard-to-access deposits,” Merrill Lynch said in a report.

“Meanwhile, Russia’s conventional drilling should become deeper and heavier, supporting current domestic providers. We see Eurasia Drilling and [competitor] CAT Oil as the main long-term beneficiaries of the upcoming drilling spree.”

Enthusiasm for shale is controversial in oil circles, where some argue that the country has a long way to go to before it exhausts conventional resources, both in Western Siberia and at greenfields in the east. These can be unlocked with increased horizontal drilling and by the hydraulic fracturing techniques that have come to be associated with the shale boom.
“Right now, we have the feeling that conventional sources are enough to keep us going for the next five years. We will be happy if there is room for tight oil and gas,” Djaparidze said.

“Well flows achieved at new fields can be several times higher with the implementation of horizontal drilling, which is booming right now.”

Eurasia positions itself as Russia’s only domestic driller with offshore experience, with two jack-up rigs — essentially mobile drilling platforms — operating in the Caspian Sea and a third under construction, as well as a contract for platform services at LUKoil’s Korchagin field.

As such, it intends to compete for Arctic drilling contracts, but Djaparidze said it might need to seek partnerships.

“We will try that, but there will be a lot of big players with a lot of economic and political interests. I think having participation with other companies is the likely route to the Arctic for [Eurasia Drilling],” Djaparidze said.

“A big pie will be divided up and there will be a lot of interested parties in the division of this pie. But given our experience in offering technological and financial expertise we will bite off a piece of this pie.”

Eurasia made its first acquisition outside the former Soviet Union in July, buying two rigs in Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan with a commitment to purchase a third, a move he said was not necessarily designed to follow Russian clients.

“This is a footprint in the region,” Djaparidze said. “There is going to be huge drilling. It is our priority to maintain Russian production together with our clients.”

In Europe, Eurasia Drilling is watching potential shale plays, in particular in Poland, where it was undeterred by reserve downgrades and a decision by ExxonMobil to abandon a shale gas project there after disappointing drilling results.

“I was very disappointed France decided not to do shale gas,” he added. “We would have sent some people from Western Siberia to the south of France to drill.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


29 August, 2012

Junk psychology about skeptics

Having a large background in published psychological research myself, I had to laugh at the nonsense below. It is difficult to know where to start but let me make just one point: Lewandowsky seems never to have heard of sampling. "Samples" gathered online tend not to be remotely representative. A major source of bias is that libertarians tend to be greatly over-represented and libertarians are very skeptical folk indeed. That they reject anything that the establishment (including scientific establishment) says is almost a given for many of them.

In the absence of representative sampling from any specifiable population, NO generalizations from the findings are warranted. There is no way of knowing if what was true of the group studied is true of any other group.

But Lewandowsky is a frantic Warmist so one could have predicted his conclusions even before he did his "research". You can read the whole thing here. It is very much a polemic -- from its heading onwards. No sign of scientific detachment or caution about evidence at all

Researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA) have examined what motivates people who are greatly involved in the climate debate to reject scientific evidence.

The study, Motivated Rejection of Science, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, investigated what motivates the rejection of science in visitors to climate blogs who choose to participate in the ongoing public debate about climate change.

More than 1,000 visitors to blogs dedicated to discussions of climate science completed a questionnaire that queried people’s belief in a number of scientific questions and conspiracy theories, including: Princess Diana’s death was not an accident; the Apollo moon landings never happened; HIV causes AIDS; and smoking causes lung cancer.

The study also considered the interplay of these responses with the acceptance of climate science, free market ideology, and the belief that previous environmental problems have been resolved.

The researchers, led by UWA School of Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, found that free market ideology was an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the rejection of climate science. It also predicted the rejection of the link between tobacco and lung cancer and between HIV and AIDS.

Conspiratorial thinking was a lesser but still significant determinant of the rejection of all scientific propositions examined, from climate to lung cancer.

“There has been much research pointing to the role of free market ideology in rejecting climate science, but this is the first time it’s been shown that other scientific facts, such as the link between HIV and AIDS, are also subject to ideological rejection,” said Lewandowsky.

By contrast, a major determinant of the acceptance of science was the perceived consensus among scientists. The more agreement among scientists, the more people were likely to accept the scientific findings.

“It is important to understand the role of perceived consensus because it highlights how damaging the media’s handling of climate issues can be when they create the appearance of a scientific debate where there is none: More than 90 in 100 climate researchers agree on the basic fact that the globe is warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions,” he noted.


Lord Monckton satirizes the AMS

He writes under the heading: "Climate ($$$ and) change". Just an excerpt below

A Disinformation Statement by the Armenian Meteoastrological Society (Adapted by AMS Archdruids 20 August 2012)

As told to Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

The following is an AMS Disinformation Statement calculated to provide an untrustworthy, prejudiced, and scientifically-outdated misrepresentation of pseudo-scientific issues of great concern to us in getting more grants but of no concern to those of the public still at large.


This statement provides a brief overview of why we want more money now, and why we will continue to want more money in the future. It is based on a highly-partisan selection from the scientific literature, presented as though science were based upon the ancient logical fallacy of argument from "consensus", and further distorted by the bureaucrats of the Mental Panel on Climate Change, the US Notional Academy of Science and Television Arts, and the US Global Cash Recoupment Program.

How is our funding changing?

Well, every summer solstice we all dress up in dustsheets and go to Stonehenge to pray for grants. And our prayers have worked! The increase in funding now is unequivocal, according to many different kinds of evidence. Observations show increases in globally averaged grants. We got them by pretending that globally averaged air and ocean temperatures have increased, but in the past 15 years they haven't. Never mind - our grants have!
We've been talking about widespread melting of snow and ice, but that hasn't really happened either. Sea ice in the Antarctic has actually grown, but of course we don't mention that: it would spoil the grants.

Meantime, those grants just keep rolling in. In the US, most of the observed grants have occurred in the pockets of Hansen, Mann, Santer, Solomon and other global warming profiteers. All of the 10 best years in the global grant records up to 2011 have occurred since 1997, with grants in most of those years being the greatest in more than a century of global records.

The funding trend is greatest in northern latitudes and over land, though there are some grants for oceanographic research in Hawaii and Tahiti. For the nation as a whole, there have been twice as many record daily high grants as record daily low grants in the first decade of the 21st century.

The effects of these grants are especially evident in the planet's polar regions. Arctic meteorologists and climatologists have been increasing for the past several decades. Both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have gained significant amounts of grant-gatherers. Most of the world's glaciers have never been visited (not that that stops us claiming that most of them are retreating), but what with all those grants we'll soon be able to afford to ski - er, conduct field research - on all of them.

Other grant increases, globally and in the US, are also occurring at the same time. The amount of grants falling in very heavy amounts (we call these the heaviest 1% of all funding precipitation events) has increased over the last 50 years throughout the US. Grant levels are rising in elevation, with fewer and fewer grants frozen and more and more liquidity.

Grant-freezing is decreasing, grant release occurs earlier, and the spring surplus that supplies over two-thirds of western US funding streams is doing just fine, thank you so much. Evidence for grants is also observed in seasonal increases across many areas, including earlier grant applications, longer periods without frozen grants, longer periods of grant, and shifts in meteorologists' migratory patterns and habitats as we seek more and more grants for less and less work.

Globally averaged grant liquidity has risen by what we scientists call a humungous lot in the 20th century, with the rise accelerating since the early 1990s. Close to half of the grant-level rise observed since the 1970s has been caused by expansion of climate scare stories due to increases in grant funding.

Grant level is also rising due to melting of terrified politicians' hearts as we tell them our sob stories about how the planet is doomed. Locally, grant-level changes can depend also on other factors such as slowly rising or falling Socialism, which results in some local grant-level changes much larger or smaller than the global average. Even small grant-level rises are expected to lead to potentially severe impacts in terms of additional self-serving policy (or, rather, political) statements from interest-groups such as ours.

Why is our funding changing?

Funding is always changing. However, many of the observed changes noted above are above and beyond what can be explained by natural variability of the funding climate. It is clear from expensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in funding of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of hot air emitted on the subject of imagined - and, indeed, imaginary - "global warming", including gaseous halations from news media in search of sensation, politicians in search of relevance, industrialists in search of subsidies, bureaucrats in search of imperial expansion, and, above all, scientists in search of more and better grants.

The most important of these vested-interest groups is the scientific lobby, whose concentration on grant-getting has increased the total amount splendidly. Approximately half of the hot air put into the political atmosphere through human activity in the past 250 years has been taken up by the congenitally stupid in the blogosphere, with the other half hangs around to attract grant money.

Since long-term measurements began in the 1950s, the concentration of scientists on grant-getting has been increasing at a rate much faster than at any time in the last 800,000 years. Having been introduced into the political atmosphere, it will take a thousand years for our hot air to be dispelled by natural processes, and some of us will go on getting grants for thousands of subsequent years, if we can possibly get away with it.

Water vapor is also an important gas for influencing the grant-giving atmosphere. There is nothing like a flood of tears to get grants with. For maximum effect, get the grant before the tears evaporate. The concentration of scientists on producing crocodile water vapor depends upon the atmosphere among grant-givers and is controlled by the global panic system through its hydrological cycle of precipitation of tears, evaporation, and condensation, a profitably catalytic process.

Crocodile tears are highly variable in space and time with a short lifetime, because of temperamental variability on the part of grant-givers. Observations indicate an increase in globally averaged crocodile tears in the atmosphere in recent decades, at a rate consistent with the response produced by climate models that simulate scientist-induced increases in grants. This increase in crocodile tears also strengthens the greenhouse effect, amplifying the impact of scientist-induced grant applications based on our other hot-air emissions.

Received via email. Email him [] for the whole thing

"Volt" on the skids

General Motors Co. GM -1.32% said it plans to suspend production of its battery-powered Chevrolet Volt for 26 days as part of a move to pare excess inventory.

Production of the Volt at its Hamtramck, Mich., plant is set to stop Sept. 17 and resume on Oct. 12, a GM spokeswoman confirmed. It is the second time this year output has been idled due to soft demand for the electric vehicle.

GM will use the downtime to prep the assembly line for building the 2014 Chevrolet Impala starting early next year, the spokeswoman said. The plant already produces a small number of the Chevrolet Malibu sedans and the European version of the Volt, known as the Opel Ampera.

About 1,400 hourly workers will be affected by the production suspension.

The Volt has been heavily promoted by GM as an example of the company's technological prowess. But it also has been criticized as a boondoggle by critics of GMs 2009 financial rescue by the U.S government. Supporters of the bailout, including President Barack Obama, say the Volt represents an innovative step forward. Detractors point to the Volt's weak sales as an example of the government pressing GM to build a car that meets policy goals but isn't in sync with U.S. consumers. GM shut the Hamtramck plant for five weeks earlier this year after a prolonged holiday shutdown.

The company has sold 10,666 of the about $40,000 vehicle year-to-date through the end of July, according to researcher Autodata Corp. At the end of last month, Chevrolet dealers had 6,450 Volts in stock, enough to last 84 days at the current rate of sales. Auto makers generally consider 60 days of inventory optimal, although they usually have tighter inventories of specialty vehicles like the Volt.

Volt uses a lithium-ion battery to power the car and has a small gasoline engine that kicks in when the battery runs low. Automotive News earlier reported the plan to slow production.


Environmentalists vs. the environment

A brilliant piece by Robert Bryce highlights one of the more incredible recent developments in the Green Gaia world — the rising opposition of the soi disant “environmentalists” to a proven weapon against the dreaded Anthropogenic Global Warming that threatens destruction to Mother Earth. That weapon is natural gas — which, to put the point in a scatological way, is an afflatus of said Mother Earth.

Specifically, in the last year, the two major energy bureaucracies — oh, pardon me, “agencies” — have reported what one would naively suppose is very good news: America is dramatically cutting its CO2 emissions, thus sparing Earth further defilement! On May 24, the International Energy Agency (the IEA) in Paris and the US Energy Information Administration both reported that America’s CO2 emissions dropped by nearly 8% (430 million tons) since 2006, the greatest reduction recorded by any country in any region.

Yahoo! We’re number one! (Let’s all chant together: U-S-A, U-S-A!)

The reasons the IEA gives for that drop are that the US is using less oil, especially during this extended recession. But the biggest reason seems to be the flourishing of natural gas production brought by the use of fracking.

The drop in natural gas prices has led to a dramatic switch from coal to natural gas in generating electric power. Last year alone saw an increase in gas-powered electricity production by 34%, and a drop in coal-powered electricity by 21% — a decrease that lowered carbon emissions (not to mention air pollutants) dramatically.

Lawrence Cathles, professor of earth and atmospheric studies at Cornell, recently published a report arguing that moving our economy to natural gas would be a much quicker and cheaper way to replace coal than by moving to “renewables” (solar and wind energy) or even nuclear power — and it would lower carbon emissions by up to 40%.

But the major environmentalist groups, as well as the government regulatory agencies they control (such as the EPA), are still fighting fracking and pushing “green” energy.

What a joke.


This green energy thing might be more expensive than we’re being told you know

by Tim Worstall

There's always a suspicion when someone has a grand plan that they've not quite thought of everything. That's one of the reasons I so like market mechanisms: they correct for such failures faster than any other method. And there might be one rather large cost that we've not been told about as yet about this green and renewable energy thing. Which is why I famously prefer the as close as we can get to a market solution of a carbon tax over letting anyone construct a grand plan.

The problem is that modern machinery needs very accurate voltage all the time. Something which a renewables heavy grid just isn't all that good at producing. Not consistently at least and that's rather the point.
The problem is that wind and solar farms just don’t deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine.

But such an exact prediction is difficult. Even when grid operators are off by just a few percentage points, voltage in the grid slackens. That has no affect on normal household appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and coffee machines. But for high-performance computers, for example, outages lasting even just a millisecond can quickly trigger system failures.

What would happen to an aluminium smelter if power fell away would be too too expensive to even think about: you'd probably have to replace all of the pots. That, for the uninitiated, is the expensive part of an aluminium smelter.

Anyway, as a result some of those industries and companies are thinking of moving out of Germany. And those that aren't?
Even August Wagner, head of a textile firm with roughly 180 employees in Bavaria, is taking precautions against feared power interruptions. A stop in production would be catastrophic for him. “When we dye our materials, there are thousands of meters in the dye factory,” he said. “If the power goes out, all of the goods are lost, and we have huge losses.”

Wagner now regulates the power supply of his production himself so that it doesn’t come to that point. What’s more, for a few months, he’s had an emergency power source standing in container next to the production facilities. Since then, other businesspeople in the area have been dropping by to take a look at his setup.

Aurubis, a major copper producer and recycler in Hamburg, has also spent about €2 million to protect against unwanted power emergencies. “If grid stability doesn’t markedly improve, we’ll have to rely on emergency power supplies this and the coming winter,” the company say.

Obviously, such back up power is grossly less efficient than the proper sized kit that feeds the grid. But there's also a large capital cost there: a cost which isn't being included in the estimates of how much green energy is going to cost us. It's actually possible that it's all going to be even more grossly expensive than we already think it is.

As I say, beware of those with grand plans. They're almost certain to have forgotten some terribly important point.


Germany’s new “renewable” energy policy

By physicist Dr. Kelvin Kemm

It is amazing how biased the international media is when it comes to reporting on energy generation, specifically electricity. In mid-August, Germany opened a new 2200MW coal-fired power station near Cologne, and virtually not a word has been said about it.

This dearth of reporting is even more surprising when one considers that Germany has said building new coal plants is necessary because electricity produced by wind and solar has turned out to be unaffordably expensive and unreliable. In a deteriorating economic situation, Germany's new environment minister, Peter Altmaier, who is as politically close to Chancellor Angela Merkel as it gets, has underlined time and again the importance of not further harming Europe’s – and Germany’s – economy by increasing the cost of electricity.

He is also worried that his country could become dependent on foreign imports of electricity, the mainstay of its industrial sector. To avoid that risk, Altmaier has given the green light to build twenty-three new coal-fired plants, which are currently under construction. Yes, you read that correctly, twenty three-new coal-fired power plants are under construction in Germany, because Germany is worried about the increasing cost of electricity, and because they can’t afford to be in the strategic position of importing too much electricity.

Just recently, German figures were released on the actual productivity of the country’s wind power over the last ten years. The figure is 16.3 percent! Due to the inherent intermittent nature of wind, their wind power system was designed for an assumed 30% load factor in the first place. That means that they hoped to get a mere 30% of the installed capacity – versus some 85-90% for coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric facilities. That means that, when they build 3,000MW of wind power, they expect to actually get merely 900MW, because the wind does not always blow at the required speeds.

But in reality, after ten years, they have discovered that they are actually getting only half of what they had optimistically, and irrationally, hoped for: a measly 16.3 percent. Even worse, after spending billions of Euros on subsidies, Germany’s total combined solar facilities have contributed a miserly, imperceptible 0.084% of Germany’s electricity over the last 22 years. That is not even one-tenth of one percent.

Moreover, the actual cost of Germany’s wind and solar electricity is far and away higher than its cost of coal and nuclear power. So much for “free” solar and wind. So much for all the German jobs that depend on reliable access to plentiful and affordable electricity. As to natural gas produced via hydraulic fracturing, that too is prohibited, even if it is required to back up undependable wind and solar facilities. No wonder Germany’s natural gas and electricity prices are practically unaffordable.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


28 August, 2012

Record melt of Arctic sea ice?

Warmist apparatchik Borenstein says so below and he has official NSDIC figures to back his story.

I didn't mention the story when it first came out yesterday because I was rather bored by pointing out that the history of the measurements concerned goes back only to 1979 and that there were some very warm years in the first half of the 20th century. I figured that some of my fellow skeptics who are closer to the data that I am would have some more interesting comments to make. And they have.

Watts points out that the NSDIC series on which the scare is based is only one of several series that the NSDIC maintains and that the other series do not support any alarm. "You chooses your series and you takes your pick" -- or something.

And Gosselin's headline says it all: "Oh No! Six Thousandths Of One Percent (0.006%) More Of The World’s Ice Melted This Summer!"

And then there's the big Arctic storm (not warming) which would have helped disperse and melt some ice. Marc Morano has a summary of it all

I note that one of the Warmists quoted by Borenstein is the delightfully named Ten Scambos. He sure is a scam boss. I think he should change his name to Jones

Critical ice [What's critical ice? Is it less polite than other ice?] in the Arctic Ocean melted to record low levels this sweltering summer and that can make weather more extreme far away from the poles, scientists say.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Monday that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles and is likely to melt more in the coming weeks. That breaks the old record of 1.61 million square miles set in 2007.

The North Pole region is an ocean that mostly is crusted at the top with ice. In the winter, the frozen saltwater surface usually extends about 6 million square miles, shrinking in summer and growing back in the fall. That's different from Antarctica, which is land covered by ice and snow and then surrounded by sea ice.

Normally sea ice in the Arctic reaches its minimum in mid-September and then starts refreezing. But levels on Sunday shrank 27,000 square miles — about the size of West Virginia — beyond the old record.

Figures are based on satellite records dating back to 1979. The ice center bases its figures on averages calculated over five days.

Data center scientist Ted Scambos said the melt can be blamed mostly on global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. There are natural factors involved too, including a storm that chewed up a significant amount ice earlier this month. But, he said, dramatic summer sea ice losses in all but one year since 2007, continuous thin ice, and warm air temperatures show a pattern that can only be explained by climate change.


The American Meteorological Society huffs and puffs

Many meteorologogists (perhaps a majority) seem to be global warming skeptics but all professional societies seem to fall under the control of a small group of activists eventually. The average professional does not want to add hours of committee meetings to his workload.

So the latest proclamation by the AMS suports global warming. A number of AMS members and climate scientists have voiced objections to this. I quote an excerpt from Judith Curry below

My strong objections to this type of statement by professional societies has been voiced previously. This statement is worse than the previous AMS statement, and much worse than the statement by the Royal Society, which is probably the most credible statement on this topic made by a professional society.

So who is responsible for this statement? Current members of the AMS Council can be found [here]. It is not clear who authored the statement, but I suspect it was the members of the AMS Committee on Climate Variability and Change (for membership list, see here). After reading this list of names, I recognize some, but less than half. Does this group of people inspire my confidence in making an assessment of climate change? In a word, NO.

Apart from the broader issue of whether or not professional societies should make such statements, the main question that I have is why write a new statement now? It appears that each statement has a life time of 5 years. Why not wait another year or two until the IPCC AR5 is out? It seems that there is little in the AMS statement that is associated with more recent publications (since the AR4). As the CMIP5 climate model simulations show a broader range of uncertainty than the simulations used in the AR4, what is the basis for making a more confident statement on attribution (which seems to be based wholly on models) than was made in the AR4?

As far as I can tell, this statement is a naive example of Michael Kelly’s invisible hand (quote from my no consensus paper):

"Kelly (2005) describes an additional source of confirmation bias in the consensus building process: “As more and more peers weigh in on a given issue, the proportion of the total evidence which consists of higher order psychological evidence [of what other people believe] increases, and the proportion of the total evidence which consists of first order evidence decreases . . . At some point, when the number of peers grows large enough, the higher order psychological evidence will swamp the first order evidence into virtual insignificance.”

In other words, consensus statements get parroted without any actual intellectual examination. In this case, what is the point of the AMS statement. Apparently, to ‘inform the public’ on this controversial issue by appealing to the ‘authority’ of the society.


Contempt-filled and self-defeating reasoning from Warmist academics

Below is an excerpt from a post by Ben Pile. Ben is clearly a very smart guy and I mostly agree with him but he sounds like he has a philosophy background the way he writes. He doesn't let a single point go. Such careful reasoning does have a lot to be said for it but it makes his argument a bit laborious to follow at times. But I think the following repays the effort of reading it. I have added some paragraphing that might help. I think I would have confined my comments on the Greenie nonsense to the last sentence below -- JR

From the pulpit at the Church of Crass Generalisations and Poorly Concealed Prejudice, Andrew Brown of the Guardian delivered these words on Tuesday: "There’s a first class article in Nature this week on the reasons Americans reject the science of climate change. It has wider implications for a lot of the ways in which we think and talk about rationality."

Hmm. ‘Americans reject the science of climate change’? All of them? Or just some of them in particular?

The article linked to by Brown was authored by Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School. Kahan tries to explain why it is that controversy persists in the climate debate. People’s ‘reasoning powers have become disabled by a polluted science-communication environment’, he says.

In some senses, this is a refreshing break from the ‘deficit’ model of the climate debate: that stupid politicians are in hock to the material desires and base instincts of the stupid, fecund, consuming public. The problem is not too few powers of reason on the public’s behalf, but too much.

The reason the debate is polarised, says Kahan, is that people are very good at ‘filtering out information that would drive a wedge between themselves and their peers’. In other words, you believe what your mates believe, because to do otherwise would mean to commit to a life of loneliness… or something.

Scepticism of climate change, then, is perfectly rational, from the point of view of sustaining your social network. The problem begins, on Kahan’s view, when the ‘communication environment fills up with toxic partisan meanings’.

Meanings like ‘denier’, perhaps?

Kahan’s theory is that people don’t make decisions about the facts in front of them, but are motivated by something else. He begins by challenging the theory that people are too stupid to understand the science, but ends up back in the same place. Curiously, he passes over the research that is most likely to take him in the right direction…

"Social-science research indicates that people with different cultural values — individualists compared with egalitarians, for example — disagree sharply about how serious a threat climate change is."

… to go on to describe instead some superficially empirical test which bears out the idea that even in the face of unimpeachable expertise, people will return to the prejudices of the group to which they belong:

People with different values draw different inferences from the same evidence. Present them with a PhD scientist who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, for example, and they will disagree on whether he really is an ‘expert’, depending on whether his view matches the dominant view of their cultural group (D. M. Kahan et al. J. Risk Res. 14, 147–174; 2011).

But the trouble for social science theorists is that you don’t need to be one of them to understand why this is. There are very good reasons why people with ‘different cultural values’ may end up diverging on the interpretation of evidence, as I’ve described here before.

In brief: if you hold with a view that nature is in a permanent state of fragile balance and that human society is dependent on that balance, you will be more nervous of change in the natural environment than someone who believes that humans (especially in industrial society) are more self-dependent and robust. For entirely contingent reasons, these two positions roughly correspond to contemporary political trends that are nominatively/superficially ‘egalitarian’ and ‘individualistic’. (This idea of such a distinction is itself a bit of a red herring, but that is another blog post.)

The even bigger mistake is putting the social-group cart before the belief horse. No doubt some values are socially-transmitted. But it is primarily people’s interests which determine what circles they move in, not vice versa.

Except in the most parochial of places, we — by which I mean people who are sufficiently privileged to take a view on the climate change debate — encounter sufficient diversity of opinion that few could argue that they didn’t have the opportunity to reflect their change of mind with a change of social group, albeit slowly.

Things may be different for Kahan, perhaps, but I remain friends with the people who think I’m absolutely insanely wrong about environmental politics. Good friends. And our continued friendship is not predicated on our agreement about climate change.

So much pseudo-scientific social theory that passes for academic research is transparently intended to deny that people are capable of reason, or that they reason in ways that they shouldn’t. And in the process, these researchers cannot help but reveal that what they attempt to reveal in the wider public is much more true of the academy. Who would dare challenge environmentalism on the campus dominated by seemingly liberal, progressive thought?

More pertinently, perhaps: who would dare to suggest that the wider public possessed sufficient faculties that the Faculty itself is is in many cases (but not all, of course) redundant, if not an actual toxic force in today’s, post-democratic politics?

Perhaps people presented with ‘a PhD scientist who is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences’ aren’t inclined to bow and scrape before him, because the PhD scientist has a tendency to undermine his new acquaintance’s faculties, to say that they are lacking, and that a study of them reveal patterns of thought which are irrational and thus not capable of making decisions. The feeling is surely mutual.

Kahan should worry as much less about science communication as he counsels that people should worry less about the public’s intellectual deficit; he should worry about what the science of reducing people in this way — and for what ends — says about climate ‘science’.

Back to Brown, who it is now clear was wrong to say that Kahan says anything particular to Americans in general, or American sceptics in particular. And even if Kahan had explained the mechanics of some kind of ‘group think’ at the social level, it would equally apply to environmentalists. Brown believes that,

"It will take the kind of conformism and sense of moral obligation offered by religious thought and ritual if we are to save the planet"

Brown continues to try to distance himself from the people-are-stupid account of scepticism in the same way Kahan does. The argument again being that individuals are making ‘rational’ decisions, but rationalising on a different basis — their social survival, rather than on the basis of the putative facts of climate science. But this leaves Brown and Kahan in a relativistic bind: if values and the basis for rational decisions are dependent on social context, what does that say about the content of Kahan and Brown’s own reasoning?

Much more HERE

Obama’s pay for play green grants

A flood of criticism and questions surround the president’s energy agenda. Unfortunately for him, it seems his “green” energy ventures reek of biased decision making, thereby rightfully calling his agenda into question.

Forbes states that 71 percent of Department of Energy grants went to “projects involving his [President Obama] major money bundlers, members of his National Finance Committee, or those who contributed as large Democratic Party donors.”

Coincidence or intentional?

Remember Solyndra? It’s often the first example of crony politics in regards to the president’s energy policy that comes to mind. After receiving a $535 million loan from taxpayers the California-based solar panel company went belly up — leaving taxpayers on the hook.

However, not all was lost for everyone involved. Forbes reports: “Bankruptcy records show that executives pocketed thousands in payments just months before the company dismissed 1,100 workers. At least 17 company executives received two sets of payments — ranging from $37,000 to $60,000 each payment — on the same days in April and July 2011, just as Solyndra was catapulting towards bankruptcy in early September.”

While executives taking a larger piece of the pie in this type of situation might not be out of ordinary, there have been some red flags raised in regards to one of Solyndra’s big investors. George Kaiser, majority owner of Solyndra, was a huge Obama campaign donor in 2008. His name has repeatedly shown up on the White House visitor’s log and email evidence proves he was aware the solar panel company was seeking a second federal loan, which never went through.

Maybe this bit of favoritism is a coincidence. After all, it’s not unusual for a president to look out for his friends no matter what political party they associate themselves with.

But as new information about these lost Department of Energy grants comes to light, fair and transparent politics is nowhere to be found.

Herbert M. Allison Jr. spent four months reviewing the Department of Energy loans and “minimized concerns that the Energy Department was at high risk in more than $23 billion in federal loans awarded to green energy firms,” Fox News reports.

However, after the loan reviews, Allison contributed $52,500 to the Obama campaign.

Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso, member on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said in a press conference that this “so-called” independent investigation “raises a major red flag.”

That is does. Taxpayers have and continue to take a huge hit from these loans to unstable and now-bankrupt “green” companies.

In another instance of suspect cronyism, The New York Times released news about Illinois-based energy producer Exelon Corporation. It turns out this energy producer’s executives were big supporters and donors to Obama’s campaign, and they too have received preferential treatment from the White House.

The New York Times reports: “With energy an increasingly pivotal issue for the Obama White House, a review of Exelon’s relationship with the administration shows how familiarity has helped foster access at the upper reaches of government and how, in some cases, the outcome has been favorable for Exelon.

“White House records show that Exelon executives were able to secure an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon’s competitors, but curb the high cost of compliance for Exelon and its industry allies.”

These instances of favoritism are so blatant it would seem Obama’s true energy policy would read something like “If you help me, I’ll help you.”

“Picking winner and losers is not an energy policy,” Senator Barrasso remarked during his press conference.

Knowing the president’s energy plan is a bit shady should raise some alarm. If this Chicago-esque style of governing were to continue, what does that mean for America’s energy future — and taxpayer dollars?

“We’ll freeze in the winter and sweat to death in the summer,” answers Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “We won’t have any real energy resources left because Obama will just keep handing our money over to his friends.

“His agenda is not an energy policy; it is a looting policy.”


Political barriers to fracking likely to keep energy expensive in Europe

Europe has been unable to repeat the shale gas revolution that has swept the United States, and that could prove to be the unlikely savior of long-term EU efforts to spur renewables and curb greenhouse gases.

The United States has managed to lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy prices as cheap shale gas has displaced coal, prompting calls from industry for Europe and others to follow suit. The argument is that natural gas, which emits less CO2 than coal, can be a friend, not a foe, to environmentalists.

But investors say the shale gas revolution will not be repeated in Europe - a failure that could make way for greener fuel than gas.

"I wouldn't completely write off shale gas development in Europe, but certainly the scale and speed at which it happens will not be like in the U.S.," said Chris Rowland, an associate at Ecofin, a British-based investment manager with around $1.9 billion of assets under management, covering global energy, utility, infrastructure and alternative energy sectors.

"It's a good fuel for reducing emissions but not a good fuel for decarbonizing," he added.

A series of European Commission road maps envisage virtually carbon-neutral power generation by the middle of the century.

Unless carbon capture and storage can be developed on a commercial scale, that means gas as a fuel has a limited future and should not be invested in too heavily, environmental campaigners say.

They are especially against shale gas, whose environmental credentials are questioned in Europe.

"We need natural gas as a transition fuel. However, we don't need such a huge amount of gas and certainly not cheap gas, because that would kick out not just coal, but also renewables," Greenpeace renewable energy director Sven Teske said.

In the medium term, the value of conventional gas is in providing reliable baseload power to supplement unpredictable renewables, which depend on the sun shining or the wind blowing.

In Europe, gas is likely to mean conventional gas for the foreseeable future as the barriers to shale stay high.

Higher population density and different rules on land and resources ownership explain in part why progress has been so much slower in shale exploration in Europe than in the United States.

Environmental impact studies are under way in several countries to examine fracking, the process to extract gas from shale formations thousands of meters below the earth's surface by injecting chemicals and water at high pressure.

The industry will need to change radically the way it approaches fracking if it is to have a future in Europe, said Andrew Gould, chairman of British oil and gas company BG Group.

European Union countries have barely broken ground on shale gas, with some 20 test drills compared with estimates of as many as 35,000 sites in the United States.


Old-fashioned light bulbs banned by EU directive can still be sold in Britain after traders find loophole allowing them to be renamed

Shoppers fed up with feeble energy-saving light bulbs are getting round the EU ban on traditional bulbs by buying models meant for industrial use.

The European ban on 40-watt bulbs is being phased in from this coming Saturday, September 1, following bans already imposed on 100W and 60W versions.

But poor drafting of the EU directive banning the 40W bulb means that shops can continue to supply bulbs intended for ‘industrial use’ in factories.

At least two British manufacturers are exploiting the loophole to mass-produce ‘rough-service’ bulbs, which look almost identical to and work in exactly the same way as traditional incandescent bulbs.

Their availability will be welcomed by those who say the energy-saving variety is not bright enough.

The rough-service bulbs come in both screw and bayonet versions, and will cost around £1 – not much more than the household bulbs they will replace and half the price of energy-saving alternatives.

They are not being sold by major supermarkets but will be available from specialist lighting and hardware shops and online retailers.

The loophole has occurred because the EU directive banning 40W incandescent bulbs refers only to those intended for ‘household lamps’, meaning shops can continue selling those intended for ‘industrial use’. Manufacturers are allowed to make and sell the incandescent bulbs if they are described on the box as ‘rough-service lamps’ that are not for domestic use.

These bulbs are designed to withstand the knocks and vibrations of industrial settings, and are therefore tougher than the ordinary variety.

From Saturday, retailers will not be allowed to buy any more incandescent bulbs covered by the ban, although they will be able to sell existing stock.

Ian Fursland, managing director of The Lamp Company in Hertfordshire, said there were ‘bucketloads’ of rough-service lights being produced. ‘This stupid ban was not thought out at all, it is absolutely ridiculous,’ he said. ‘We sell loads of them.

‘You cannot get a compact fluorescent or an LED that does what an incandescent does – it’s physically impossible. They don’t warm up as quickly, they glow a different colour, and they are ridiculously expensive.’

At the Bradford branch of Maplin last week, a pack of ten 100W rough-service bulbs was on sale for £6.99 and described on the shelf as ‘ideal for home use’.

Online retailer Lamps2udirect offers a 60W ‘tough’ incandescent bulb for 90p. The description on the website says: ‘Can be used for industrial and household use. Commonly used in living areas around the home.’
One manufacturer said that it had already sold more than five million rough-service bulbs to suppliers.

The National Measurement Office, the Government agency responsible for enforcing the ban on traditional bulbs, warned householders against buying rough-service bulbs.

An official guidance paper says such bulbs are ‘declared by the manufacturer as unsuitable’ for illuminating household rooms and adds: ‘Consideration should be given to the terms and conditions of any household insurance policy if such lamps are used for illuminating your house.’ [Bluff!]



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


27 August, 2012

The childish mentality of Leftist journalist Jenny Uechi

See below, where she writes under the heading: "Nature takes revenge on climate change deniers". She sees one storm as evidence of global warming. She must live in an eternal present, as the incidence of hurricanes has been way down in recent years. Any awareness of the past is obviously beyond her. I have met smarter 11-year-olds

Tropical Storm Isaac forced the cancellation of the opening day of festivities for the U.S. Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Given the GOP leadership's denial of climate change, the timing of the storm (now expected to become a category 2 hurricane) was deeply ironic.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has long held a dismisssive stance on climate change. He argued in a 2009 op-ed that the debate was still out on global warming (especially since it was snowing in his home state of Wisconsin), and accused climatologists of using "statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public".

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has reversed his previous stance on global warming, saying he's really not sure if human activity is to blame, and that "the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for [Americans]."

Their stance on climate change is hardly an exception within the GOP: Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and others in the Republican presidential primaries all challenged the validity of global warming.

The recent storm in Florida might be Mother Nature's unsubtle way of telling the Republicans that climate change is no joke, and about to get a lot more serious.


The tangled tale of Lord Deben and a dodgy Severn barrage

A proposal for the biggest infrastructure project in British history has shaky foundations but some powerful friends

The corruptocrat himself above

An extraordinary picture of the state of our public life has come to light in recent days, in accounts of the involvement of some of our most senior politicians in the vast, lucrative and expanding industry of “renewable energy”.

At the centre of the picture is David Cameron, who last month nominated Lord Deben (formerly John Gummer) as the new chairman of the influential and supposedly “independent” Committee on Climate Change, set up to advise government on energy policy under the Climate Change Act. This is despite the fact that Lord Deben’s array of environmental business interests includes chairmanship of Forewind Ltd, a consortium of four energy firms planning the world’s largest, and most heavily subsidised, offshore wind farm in the North Sea.

Lord Deben’s suitability will be assessed on September 4, when he is interviewed by the Commons select committee on energy and climate change, chaired by Tim Yeo MP. Yeo was a junior environment minister under Lord Deben when the latter was environment secretary in the 1990s.

Mr Cameron has also lately taken a very active interest in a new £30 billion project for a tidal barrage across the Severn estuary, which he discussed at Downing Street last month with the former Labour Cabinet minister Peter Hain, acting on behalf of a consortium organised by a tiny Welsh company, Corlan Hafren – of which Deben was until very recently a director.

Attention has lately been drawn to the declared business interests of both Lord Deben and Mr Yeo – who last year earned more than £200,000, on top of his MP’s salary of £80,000, working for companies mostly involved in “green” energy schemes. The apparent exception was his role as “environmental adviser” to Eurotunnel, by whom he was paid up to £1,000 an hour. But Eurotunnel, it turns out, is planning to run a £220 million “interconnector” power cable through its service tunnel, to provide back-up from French nuclear power stations for the times when our wind turbines don’t supply enough power to the national grid.

Turbines – of the type that earn Mr Cameron’s father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield, £1,000 a day on his Lincolnshire estate – are so unreliable that they could never hope to meet our EU obligation to source nearly a third of our electricity from “renewables” within seven years. That is 10 times more than wind power generates at present. Hence Mr Cameron’s sudden interest in a new Severn barrage scheme (though the idea was rejected by the Coalition in 2010 as being far too expensive) and his talks with the peculiar little company Corlan Hafren, which we are told could supply “5 per cent” of our electricity needs by 2022 with a new version of the barrage, funded by more than £30 billion from “Kuwait, Qatar and other sovereign wealth funds”.

Until last week, Companies House showed Lord Deben as a director of the company, which has registered assets of only £91. Listed among its shareholders, the largest of whom is a formerly bankrupt Welsh property entrepreneur, is another company, holding a sixth of the shares, with the imposing name of Sancroft International. Thanks to diligent researches by readers of the climate-sceptic blog Bishop Hill, it emerges that the six shareholders of Sancroft, an environmental consultancy which also acts as a vehicle for the earnings of Lord Deben, are Deben himself, his wife and their four children, one of whom, Ben Gummer, is a Tory MP.

All of which might focus further attention on the proposed Severn barrage itself, a vast concrete wall stretching 11 miles across the Bristol Channel from Somerset to south Wales, possibly incorporating a motorway and a railway, and also 1,000 turbines, which, we are told, would have the “capacity” to generate “6.5 gigawatts” of electricity. But what is often not understood about tidal barrages is that, like wind turbines, they only generate power intermittently, according to the tides. So the actual output of a Severn barrage, as confirmed in 2007 by Sir Jonathon Porritt’s Sustainable Development Commission, would only be 22 per cent of its “capacity”.

In other words, the barrage’s contribution to the grid would average out at only 1.43 gigawatts, which is roughly the same as the power produced, much more consistently, by one large gas-fired power station – costing only £1 billion to build. A single nuclear power station, such as that proposed for Hinkley Point further down the estuary, could produce the same amount for a fraction of the same capital investment and with only minimal fuel costs. The barrage would thus be a ludicrously expensive way to produce a relatively small amount of electricity.

So, firstly, why has the idea of wasting so much money suddenly so seized Mr Cameron that he has asked Oliver Letwin to liaise with Corlan Hafren in pushing the scheme, which we are told would be piloted through the Commons by Mr Hain? The answer seems to be that the Prime Minister is now uncomfortably aware that he hasn’t a hope of meeting that EU renewables target with wind turbines (and Brussels does not count nuclear power as “renewable”). Furthermore, what would be the biggest infrastructure project in our history might temporarily create, it is claimed, “30,000 jobs”. What the PM probably doesn’t understand, because his advisers might not have told him, is just how small a contribution the scheme would make to our EU target.

What makes this even odder, however, is that the Government could contemplate handing such a mammoth project to a company which is currently showing only £91 in its accounts, representing the contributions of its various shareholders. The answer to this puzzle must lie in the central involvement in the company of Lord Deben, who in 2007 was commissioned by Mr Cameron to produce a report for the Conservative Party entitled Blueprint for a Green Economy. Sancroft’s current managing director is Adrian Gahan, formerly Mr Cameron’s adviser on energy and climate change policy, who played a key part. behind the scenes. in pushing the Climate Change Act through Parliament.

There were signs last week that Lord Deben was anxious to distance himself from the controversy building up around his involvement with Corlan Hafren. He told The Guardian that he had not been a director since June, although this was only registered with Companies House last Monday. But we must return to the question we began with: is it really acceptable that in 10 days’ time the confirmation of his chairmanship of the most influential body guiding government policy on energy and climate change should be in the hands of a committee of MPs chaired by Tim Yeo? This means that these two men at the centre of shaping our energy future are both involved financially with an industry which stands to make billions from what is, potentially, one of the most dangerous wrong turns in our country’s history.

As I have observed before, the Severn barrage would not only be a grotesque waste of money, but would have a devastating affect on the ecology of the lower Severn estuary, damaging inter alia the tidal flats where huge numbers of wading birds feed. This has provoked opposition from an array of environmental lobby groups, including the RSPB, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, who claim that it would be illegal under the EU’s Habitats Directive.

The new scheme, it is claimed by Corlan Hafren, would get round this by leaving more of the mudflats exposed, making it possible for us to claim to Brussels that we were providing the birds with “compensation” habitat for that which was lost.

The last time this trick was played, on a much smaller scale, was when a Cardiff Bay barrage was proposed in the 1990s. The government then got its way with Brussels by promising “compensation” feeding grounds further up the coast, by allowing the sea to flood a large area of the Gwent Levels, which had been reclaimed from it since Roman times. The environment minister who negotiated this device for getting round the EU law was none other than John Selwyn Gummer. But it would be much harder to convince the EU that a barrage right across the estuary – putting an end, among much else, to the Severn Bore – was not in serious breach of the Habitats Directive.

How ironic it would be, then, if a monster project conceived only to meet our obligations under one EU directive – since Article 5(2) of the Renewables Directive was originally drafted, on Britain’s insistence, specifically to permit a Severn barrage, though it is now more generally worded – was found to be illegal under another EU directive.

For this and other reasons, I very much doubt that Lord Deben’s pie-in-the-sky scheme will ever go ahead. But he can always console himself financially with his earnings from that monster wind farm in the North Sea. It should provide enough for a chairman of the Committee on Climate Change to retire on quite comfortably.


Romney Smacks Wind Energy Money Grab

For twenty years American taxpayers have been supporting the wind energy industry through the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and twenty before that in various forms of favoritism.

Each time it is scheduled to expire, the lobbyists from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) fight for its extension, claiming the infant industry is almost ready to stand on its own and just needs a little more help. The PTC appeals to an emotional and ideological viewpoint as the idea of “free” energy seems attractive—but it can’t stand up when viewed through the filter of facts and science.

Now that the true costs—both in dollars and daily impacts—of inefficient, ineffective, and uneconomical renewable electricity are becoming known, people are having second thoughts and public support has waned.

Like wind energy is from a different century (specifically the 18th century), the PTC comes from a different political era—a time when politicians were reelected based on the “pork” they could bring home to their constituents. Today, America is in an economic war and her citizens know it. Big spenders are being ostracized, replaced with political newbies who understand the timbre of the times.

Republicans, especially, want fiscal responsibility. They see the public failure of the Obama administration’s funding of solar energy projects as crony corruption. Republicans understand that the wind energy industry, as the AWEA and wind energy manufacturers happily tout, will totally collapse without government support and there is no appetite for more government spending especially when it results in higher electricity prices and lost manufacturing jobs.

The monies spent on renewable energy subsidies—such as the PTC—will never be recouped. These industries are a net drain on the Treasury.

Mitt Romney boldly announced his opposition to the extension of the PTC—while Obama continues to emphasize his belief in emotion and ideology over fact and science.

Democrats, and a few misguided Republicans, point to “energy independence” as the rationale for more expensive renewable energy such wind and solar. Nothing could be further from the truth. Government programs throw taxpayer dollars at these industries to provide electricity, but America is already electricity independent.

We do not import electricity and we have enough coal, natural gas, and uranium within our shores to provide for our growing electricity needs for centuries to come. Any electricity shortages being felt in this hot, summer season are as a result of the dearth of new power plants being built—not due to fuel shortages.

While delegates are packing, members of the platform committee were communicating; presenting various ideas as to what should be included. The Republican Party should have joined with their nominee and made opposition to the PTC an official part of the party platform.

Instead, Tuesday night, it missed an opportunity to differentiate itself from the opposition and “decided to speak in generalities about an all-of-the-above energy policy”—even when “all-of-the-above” doesn’t make economic sense. What about “all that is sensible?”


Smart meter installations stir rowdy response from gun-toting, cage-building Texans

If you don't want your airconditioning turned off remotely just when you need it most, you too should be resisting this

Thelma Taormina keeps a pistol at her Houston-area home to protect against intruders. But one of the last times she used it, she said, was to run off a persistent utility company worker who was trying to replace her old electricity meter with a new digital unit.

“This is Texas.” she declared at a recent public hearing on the new meters. “We have rights to choose what appliances we want in our home.”

A nationwide effort to upgrade local power systems with modern equipment has run into growing resistance in Texas, where suspicion of government and fear of electronic snooping have made a humble household device the center of a politically charged showdown over personal liberty.

Some angry residents are building steel cages around their electric meters, threatening installers who show up with new ones and brandishing Texas flags at boisterous hearings about the utility conversion. At a recent hearing at the state Capitol in Austin, protesters insisted everyone present recite the Pledge of Allegiance before the meeting could begin.

“It’s Gestapo. You can’t do this,” said Shar Wall of Houston, who attended the Public Utility Commission meeting wearing a large red “Texas Conservative” pin. “I’m a redneck Texas girl and I won’t put up with it.”

Utilities began replacing old-style electricity meters across the country about seven years ago as part of an effort to better manage demand on an increasingly strained power grid. New “smart meters” transmit and receive data remotely as electricity is used. Utility officials say they can use the real-time information to help prevent grid overloads during extreme temperatures. The devices would also promote conservation, such as cycling air conditioners on and off during peak demand periods.

In 2009, President Barack Obama devoted $3.5 billion in federal stimulus funds to help utility companies make the upgrade.

The conversion has triggered opposition in a number of states. Some residents have questioned the health impact of the radio waves the devices emit or the possibility that hackers could get confidential data from the transmissions.

Officials have downplayed the hazards, but several states, including California, Vermont, Maine and Nevada, have allowed residents to opt out of the new system. In most cases, residents would have to pay extra to have a utility employee come to their house to read their old meter.

Texas utilities have installed nearly 6 million smart meters, or 87 percent of their goal, since the state passed authorizing legislation in 2005. But as the project moves toward completion by 2016, the opposition is getting louder. It also carries the distinct flavor of an ultraconservative state that relishes its history as an independent republic before joining the United States.

State utility commission hearings on the meters have featured as many references to the Founding Fathers, the Revolutionary War and the Constitution as to the technical demands on the power system.

At a recent session, a staff presentation included a slide saying the new meters “are not meant to spy on you.” Waiting to testify, activist David Akin replied, “Yes they are!”


"Clean Energy" Is Obama-Speak for Crony Government

Breaking news: The Fishwrap of Record has finally discovered that the Obama administration gives its Chicago corporate pals special access to power and regulatory favoritism. On Thursday, The Not-So-New York Times published an A1 story titled "Ties to Obama Aided in Access for Big Utility."

Everyone, put on your shocked faces!

"With energy an increasingly pivotal issue for the Obama White House," the Times intoned, "a review of Exelon's relationship with the administration shows how familiarity has helped foster access at the upper reaches of government and how, in some cases, the outcome has been favorable for Exelon."

You mean Hope and Change was all smoke and mirrors? Well, knock me over with a feather and call me Grandpa Daley!

White House press flack Jay Carney played dumb when asked about the report, which detailed "an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon's competitors."

"I'm not sure what the issue is, frankly," Carney told the Beltway press corps. Carney, a former Time magazine journalist who pointedly reminded his former media colleagues that he "was a reporter," apparently forgot all the connect-the-dots training he got at his once-hallowed publication.

The issue, dear Carney, is favor-trading and access-peddling. Government for the cronies, by the cronies and of the cronies. The Times spelled it out: "I would like to get some treatment in Washington like that," Ken Anderson, general manager at Tri-State G and T, a Colorado-based power supplier that has been at odds with Exelon over environmental regulations, told the paper. "But Exelon seems to get deference that I can't get."

As I noted back in January in my column on Obama's green robber barons, my scouring of White House visitor logs showed nine visits from Illinois-based Exelon's CEO John Rowe, who met with the president and former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel multiple times. The clean energy company's deep ties had already been illuminated by several other business publications, including Forbes and Crain's.

Frank M. Clark, the veteran lobbyist who runs Exelon's Commonwealth Edison, the largest electric utility in Illinois, is a top Obama adviser and fundraiser dating back to the former community organizer's Illinois State Senate days. Longtime Obama campaign guru David Axelrod worked as a consultant to Exelon. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped create Exelon -- where he raked in more than $16 million over two years.

Carney's boss once made it a central hobbyhorse of his presidential campaign. When he announced his presidential intentions in 2007, candidate Obama decried "the cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play." He indignantly singled out "the best bundlers" who get the "greatest access" to power. ComEd's Clark bundled at least $200,000 for Obama in 2008 and at least $100,000 for the 2012 cycle, and forked over nearly $30,000 more to committees supporting Obama. Earlier this year, Obama acknowledged raising at least $74 million through his team of big-time bundlers who have been showered with access, tax dollars and plum patronage positions.

It's taken four years for the media lapdoggies to call out the Naked Emperor of Chicago-on-the-Potomac. Better late than never, ya think? I hear the crackerjack reporters at ye Olde York Times may be planning a special in-depth investigative series on the president's dirty D.C. business-as-usual administration slated to run sometime after Election Day. They could call it "Culture of Corruption: Obama's Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies." Oh, wait...


Gas-fired backup power plants are going to need subsidies now too

Subsidies needed as far as the eye can see

The variability of renewable energy is raising additional issues for European governments as they grapple with carbon emissions targets and the growth of wind and solar power.

Regulators in several countries are preparing to contract gas-fired electricity generation capacity to provide back-up for renewable energy on still and cloudy days, when wind and solar power are in short supply.

That adds to efforts in countries including Britain and Germany to increase transmission capacity, also to smooth intermittency by allowing wind farms to access as wide an area as possible.

Ideally, companies that generate wind and solar power should help pay for these balancing services, such as by installing battery storage, but they are already struggling to compete without subsidies, and so the extra cost will fall on consumers.

In Europe, the new capacity payment schemes for gas-fired back-up will draw attention to these costs, previously unreported, for maintaining fossil fuel power plant capacity that will be idle much of the time.

A so-called capacity payments system is planned in Britain and France, under consideration in Germany and already in use in Spain and Ireland, as EU members strive to meet binding targets collectively to get a fifth of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, compared with about 11 percent now.

Back-up is necessary because of the intermittency of renewable energy.

In addition, most European countries operate under a "merit order" system in which they dispatch power to the grid based on lowest marginal cost to keep wholesale power prices to a minimum. Because wind and solar have zero marginal cost - their fuel is free - they always get priority access.

That helps keep power prices down at times of peak demand (lunchtime and early evening), which is great news for consumers but is increasingly undercutting the profitability of gas-fired power.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


26 August, 2012

Climate Consensus' Data Need a More Careful Look

In his Aug. 6 op-ed, "A New Climate-Change Consensus," Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp speaks of "the trend—a decades-long march toward hotter and wilder weather." We have seen quite a few such claims this summer season, and Mr. Krupp insists that we accept them as "true." Only with Lewis Carroll's famous definition of truth, "What I tell you three times is true," is this the case.

But repetition of a fib does not make it true. As one of many pieces of evidence that our climate is doing what it always does, consider the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's year-by-year data for wet and dry years in the continental U.S.

From 1900 to the present, there are only irregular, chaotic variations from year to year, but no change in the trend or in the frequency of dry years or wet years. Sometimes there are clusters of dry years, the most significant being the dry Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. These tend to be followed by clusters of wet years.

Despite shrill claims of new record highs, when we look at record highs for temperature measurement stations that have existed long enough to have a meaningful history, there is no trend in the number of extreme high temperatures, neither regionally nor continentally. We do see the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s setting the largest number of record highs, at a time when it is acknowledged that humans had negligible effect on climate.

What about strong tornadoes? Again there is no trend. Last year was an unusually active season, and unfortunately some of those storms ravaged population centers. We were told that these disasters were the result of human CO2 emissions. Yet 2011 was only the sixth worst for strong tornadoes since 1950 and far from a record. And have any of us heard about this tornado year? Why not? Because 2012 has been unusually quiet. Most of the tornado season is behind us, and so far the tornado count is mired in the lowest quintile of historical activity. As for hurricanes, again there is no discernible trend. Regarding wildfires, past western fires burned far more acreage than today. Any climate effect on wildfires is complicated by the controversial fire suppression practices of the past hundred years.

Lurid media reporting and advocates' claims aside, even the last comprehensive Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report noted that "archived data sets are not yet sufficient for determining long-term trends in [weather] extremes." Yet this has not stopped global warming advocates from using hot summer weather as a tool to dramatize a supposedly impending climate Armageddon.

In a telling 2007 PBS interview, former Sen. Tim Wirth gloated about how he had rigged the 1988 Senate testimony chamber to dramatize the impact of NASA scientist James Hansen's histrionic testimony on imminent danger from global warming: "We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer . . . So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington or close to it."

Not content to gamble on the vagaries of weather statistics, Mr. Wirth also boasted, "What we did is that we went in the night beforehand and opened all the windows . . . so the air conditioning wasn't working inside the room . . . when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot." Tricks like those described by Sen. Wirth have been refined to an art to promote the cause of economically costly action to prevent supposedly catastrophic consequences of increasing CO2. Contrast these manipulations with the measured and informative Senate testimony of climatologist John Christy earlier this month.

In an effort to move the science debate completely into the political arena, Mr. Krupp implies that with the exception of a few enlightened Republican governors and captains of industry, most "conservatives" are climate skeptics—and vice versa. But some of the most formidable opponents of climate hysteria include the politically liberal physics Nobel laureate, Ivar Giaever; famously independent physicist and author, Freeman Dyson; environmentalist futurist, and father of the Gaia Hypothesis, James Lovelock; left-center chemist, Fritz Vahrenholt, one of the fathers of the German environmental movement, and many others who would bristle at being lumped into the conservative camp.

Whether increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is bad or good is a question of science. And in science, truth and facts are not the playthings of causes, nor a touchstone of political correctness, nor true religion, nor "what I tell you three times is true."

Humanity has always dealt with changing climate. In addition to the years of drought and excessive moisture described above, the geological record makes it clear that there have been longer-term periods of drought, lasting for many years as during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to many decades or centuries. None of these past climate changes, which had a profound effect on humanity, had anything to do with CO2, and there are good reasons for skepticism that doubling CO2 will make much difference compared to natural climate changes.

It is increasingly clear that doubling CO2 is unlikely to increase global temperature more than about one degree Celsius, not the much larger values touted by the global warming establishment. In fact, CO2 levels are below the optimum levels for most plants, and there are persuasive arguments that the mild warming and increased agricultural yields from doubling CO2 will be an overall benefit for humanity. Let us debate and deal with serious, real problems facing our society, not elaborately orchestrated, phony ones, like the trumped-up need to drastically curtail CO2 emissions.


Schmittner versus Fulks

The excellent article above was the subject of a correspondence that was copied to me. Apparently Andreas Schmittner (Associate Professor of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University) objected that the article failed to account for recent declines in Arctic sea ice.

He and Gordon Fulks go back a long way. You can read here an account of a public lecture in which it is fair to say that Schmittner and his fellow Oregon Warmists were humiliated by questions from the floor, with Fulks being prominent among the questioners.

So on this occasion Fulks [] wrote to Schmittner as follows:

Dear Andreas,

You never cease to amaze me with your lack of scientific sophistication and complete willingness to play the hysteria games. Yes, the Arctic sea ice is near a record low for the 30 year satellite record, which covers only about three decades. You are too young to remember a time when we did not have satellite measurements. Climate record highs or lows over just a thirty year period are hardly earth shattering.

But if you think they are, why not tout the near record high Antarctic sea ice at this same point in time? The poles are almost opposites in sea ice records this year. Of course measured as an anomaly, worldwide sea ice is below normal for now after having been above normal earlier this year. This is due to the fact that a near complete melting of Antarctic sea ice is considered "normal" while the carryover of much more sea ice is considered "normal" in the Arctic. But since the substantial melting of multi-year Arctic sea ice in 2007, we have seen a lower minimum in recent years. Are you aware that after the record melt in September 2007, the Arctic refroze faster than ever observed just a month later? A rapid refreezing is normal, and as a consequence, worldwide sea ice peaks in November.

The time to lament the disappearance of the earth's total sea ice is in January and February when it plummets dramatically. The reason you folks don't tout that decline is that people in the northern hemisphere have a hard time believing that such a decline in our coldest months could possibly be significant!

Since I am sure that your one and only explanation for the near record low Arctic sea ice will be man-made CO2, let me point out that a more sophisticated scientist would look at the many natural processes at work in addition to Arctic air temperature. Arctic ocean water temperature, salinity, and circulation are also important factors, as are winds and storms.

Even if Arctic air temperature were to blame, are you now really willing to attribute 'hot spells' to AGW? If so, was our two day hot spell last week caused by CO2? If so was our otherwise cool spring and summer not caused by CO2?

You have a very long ways to go to demonstrate that anything unusual is happening with the earth's climate!


Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
Corbett, Oregon USA

Ice core shows Antarctic Peninsula warming is nothing unusual

Press release flatly contradicts what boffins said

New ice core data from the Antarctic Peninsula has revealed that temperatures in the region during the past 10,000 years have often been higher than they are today, and that warming of the sort seen there recently has also occurred in the pre-industrial past.

The new data are derived from a massive new 364m-long core extracted from the ice sheet lying on top of James Ross Island towards the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the freezing Weddell Sea. The core was extracted by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, assisted by French boffins, who reached the area courtesy of the Royal Navy ice-patrol ship HMS Endurance and her helicopters.

The mighty core has allowed analysing boffins to reconstruct local temperatures and snowfall way back to the end of the last ice age. The info is of particular interest as the Peninsula has warmed up rather quickly over the last 50 years or so, and is bucking the overall Antarctic trend which has seen vast new expanses of sea ice appear around the coasts of the austral continent. Thus it is that the Ross Island ice core results have made it into this week's edition of agenda-setting boffinry mag Nature.

As is plain from the graphs, it has often been hotter than it is now at Ross Island during the past 10,000 years - today's temperatures are nothing exceptional. The idea that they must result from man-made carbon emissions doesn't, on the face of it, seem that credible.

But perhaps the recent warming has been exceptionally, unprecedentedly fast? The Esperanza station not far from James Ross has recorded a climb of 2°C since it was established in 1958. Maybe something is happening along the Peninsula which has never happened before in the Holocene (post Ice Age) era?

It would certainly seem so. A press release issued ahead of the Nature paper by the British Antarctic Survey states uncompromisingly: "The scientists reveal that the rapid warming of this region over the last 100 years has been unprecedented."

[Since the publication of this article the press release webpage has been amended to say "very unusual" - Ed.]

Panic Stations! Hold on though. The actual Nature paper has this to say: "The high rate of warming over the past century is unusual (but not unprecedented) in the context of natural climate variability over the past two millennia.'

And for good measure: "Repeating the temperature trend analysis using 50-year windows confirms the finding that the rapidity of recent Antarctic Peninsula warming is unusual but not unprecedented ... natural millennial-scale climate variability has resulted in warming on the eastern Antarctic Peninsula that has been ongoing for a number of centuries and had left ice shelves in this area vulnerable to collapse."

So yes, ice shelves along the shores of the Weddell Sea may very well snap off in coming years, especially if warming should continue. It appears to have happened often enough in the pre-industrial past:

"There is evidence for instability of the Larsen A ice shelf between 3,800 and 1,400 yr [ago]. Farther south again, the Larsen B ice shelf probably remained intact throughout the Holocene, although there is evidence that the ice shelf was progressively weakened by melting ... temperatures similar to present occurred in this region for much of the Holocene, resulting in a regime in which ice shelves were only transient features along the northern-most part of the eastern Antarctic Peninsula and were undergoing decay farther to the south. An additional new perspective is that recent warming to levels consistent with the mid Holocene meant that the ice shelves along the northeastern Peninsula were poised for the succession of collapses observed there over recent decades."

Or in other words there really doesn't seem to be anything happening on the Antarctic Peninsula that hasn't happened before. Global warming may, as may climate scientists believe it is, be set to increase disastrously in the coming century: but there's no particular sign of it to be seen at the Peninsula, now that we have an accurate insight into the area's past history.

What this episode does show is just how blindly and unquestioningly the general scientific and media communities believe in the idea of carbon-driven climate apocalypse: the mindset of the PR staffer who wrote that press release and the various journalists who have uncritically reprocessed it is more reminiscent of religion than of science.


The Chameleon-in-Chief

Did you know that president Obama has been a champion of Big Oil since he became our Chameleon-in-Chief? That’s right: Oil production is at an all time high under- hurray!- his administration because he’s been so cooperative with oil and gas producers- and, depending on your standards, or lack thereof, you might even believe him when he says it.

Last year the New York Times was so disgusted with Obama’s landmark, much-billed energy policy speech that they actually issued this correction:
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 30, 2011

A previous version of this article misstated how many of the president's proposals to reduce the country's reliance on imported oil were new in his speech on Wednesday. None of them were, not one of them.

So let’s you, me and the New York Times agree that Obama really doesn’t have an energy policy. Recently Obama reinforced that notion.

You see, Obama was against oil production before his newest, bestest policy, just recently embraced 72 hours ago, that- to paraphrase him- says: “Drill, Barry, drill.”

His change of heart , or lack thereof, has come about in wake of the administration’s latest self-inflicted gunshot wound to the economy, rising oil prices… again.

For decades the basic policy of all US governments, Democrat or Republican, has been to keep oil prices relatively low and relatively stable. To argue a contrary policy, as Obama has done, would be like arguing that a higher crime rate leads to less crime because we’d end up getting more criminals off the street and in to jail. Crime rates would certainly go up, if we encouraged it.

So it goes with oil prices.

Since Democrats took over Congress in 2007, we’ve gone from relatively stable oil prices to all time highs, a small correction, and now we are headed back to all-time highs...again. We have neither low prices, nor stable prices.

And oil prices have been rising during a jobs recession masquerading as Obama’s Summer of Love. Just wait to see what oil prices do when we have real economic growth. But of course we neither have had growth nor will we grow under these self-defeating economic and energy policies, which are really the same thing.

Makes you wonder if the same bright federal lights who illegally sold guns to Mexican meth dealers are also in charge of energy policy (see Solyndra). It’s the only explanation that I can come up with for the willful blindness that allows the Obamanauts to not see that their energy policy, like their policy on gun-walking, WON’T END WELL.


Britain’s House of Lords Resists Global Warming Policies, Promotes Free Trade With China

Suddenly, Great Britain’s House of Lords is back in style and that’s good news for the free market. Some of the more forceful critics of anti-energy, global warming policy proposals are finding expression in the elite unelected chamber. There is Lord Christopher Monckton, a former member of the Conservative Party, who has repeatedly challenged former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore to debate the science behind the idea of man-made global warming; thus far to no avail.

Someone else who has been in the news recently is Lord Nigel Lawson, a former UK chancellor, who champions free trade over environmental restrictions. He is particularly critical of Europeans who have worked to erect trade barriers against China.

“It is wrong in two ways,” Lawson told “It is wrong morally because it is asking them to slow their development down. It is also wrong in practical terms because it is quite clear they are not going to do it.”

Lawson, who authored “An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming,” has been on the receiving end of intense criticism from environmentalists for taking on the scientific establishment. But Lawson is convinced he has the upper hand on the economics and on key moral questions. He is far from alone. A growing number of geologists, physicists and astronomers now question the premise of man-made global warming theories. Freeman Dyson, a British-American physicist at Princeton University, who was born in Britain, backs Lawson’s arguments.

While carbon dioxide has been vilified in a series a reports from the United Nations, and by an all too compliant media, its impact on warming cycles is far from certain, Lawson informs critics. Unfortunately for him both major parties in Britain have embraced alarmist positions on climate.

This point was not lost on Vice-President Gore when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in July 2008. There is no argument between the two major parties in Great Britain over the scientific evidence, Gore told committee members at the time. Although they are “competing vigorously” with one another, they are vying to see which party can offer the “most creative and meaningful” solution to the “climate crisis.”

When he was running for office, Prime Minister David Cameron didn’t exactly distance himself from the green energy restrictions that are at the heart of modern environmentalism. In the aftermath of the “climategate” scandal implicating the University of East Anglia, green initiatives are suddenly less of a priority from Cameron and the Tories. They have pulled back on unsound policies, but for purely political reasons.

That’s where the House of Lords is still valuable. While the political class was racing ahead with “cap and trade” schemes that were economically unsound, and as it turns out, greatly detached from scientific findings, it was in the House of Lords where skeptics found expression.

The Lord has lost power since the beginning of the 20th Century, but it still plays a valuable role. Under former Prime Minister Tony Blair, legislative changes removed all but 92 of the 750 hereditary peers. This means it is no longer possible to become a peer by family pedigree. However, Blair’s government fell short of converting the Lords into an elected body like the U.S. Senate; this for the good.

In early American Republic, each state selected two U.S. Senators, who in effect, served as ambassadors to the national government in Washington D.C., where they safeguarded local interests. But after progressivism interceded, the 17th amendment was adopted on May 13, 1913. From that point forward, U.S. Senators were elected and not appointed. Almost overnight, they went from being careful custodians of states’ rights to agents of the federal government. The end result was a rapid expansion of federal power.

Since the House of Lords remains a fully appointed, unelected body, it is in position to resist popular trends and fashionable ideas that do not hold up under careful scrutiny; like the concept of man-made global warming, which has been largely discredited by updated research.

Just as man-made global warming has been pilloried in the House of Lords, protectionist policies against Chinese produced goods have also come under fire.

Lawson has told colleagues that free trade with China should be encouraged and not criticized. Arguing that the country’s rising economic power will boost living standard for vulnerable populations.

“It [China’s growing economy] means the world is a much more competitive place, but on the whole it is an excellent thing,” he said. “It has taken millions of people out of poverty and provides a huge market for exports.”

This is the refreshing kind of free market discussion that has largely gone missing in elected bodies in Europe and America. Hopefully, the honest debate in the House of Lords will spread across the pond.


Australia: Conservative leader fights no-fishing bid in Coral Sea

PLANS to lock-up the Coral Sea as the world's biggest marine park face a fresh attack with Tony Abbott to push a Bill through Parliament to stall controversial new marine park protected areas.

The Opposition Leader, in opening the Brisbane Boat Show, will today detail a Coalition bid to stop a plan for a network of marine reserves around Australia.

He said commercial and recreational fishermen were not "environmental vandals".

"They want to be able to catch fish tomorrow as well as today, in the next decade as well as this one," Mr Abbott said. "That's why they're normally the strongest conservationists of fish stocks."

Furious fishers believe the proposed closures will kill access to fresh seafood with losses also in the Gulf of Carpentaria prawn industry.

High-profile advocates like Virgin founder Richard Branson and musicians Jackson Browne and Neil Young, calling themselves "Ocean Elders", have publicly backed the Coral Sea proposal.

The Coalition will support a private member's Bill from Member for Dawson George Christensen to put on hold any proclamation on new conservation areas and obtain independent scientific, economic and social analysis.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke yesterday rubbished a report showing a billion-dollar hit to Cairns alone as a "scare campaign".

"Their figure of $1 billion would only be correct if you were taking the impact of the marine parks over the next 200 years," Mr Burke said.

"I'm surprised that council would spend rate payers' hard earned money on a scare campaign like this."

Cairns Regional Council is asking Mr Burke's office to unveil a breakdown of its detailed cost analysis after an independent report by Cummings Economics revealed a $1 billion loss to the far north Queensland economy over three decades.

"We are all for protecting the Great Barrier Reef and our outer marine environment," said CRC officer Fiona Wilson.

"But this is not just the loss of a couple of fishing businesses, but a vast widespread impact, and we worry there is a risk they have heavily underestimated the cost.

"We want them to show us the modelling."

Protect Our Coral Sea advocates believe the green zones over nearly 1 million km sq will protect iconic marine species, fish stocks and coral reef in pristine waters.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


24 August, 2012

Credulous young fluff-head thinks the only history is recent history

To give her a bit of credit, however, she does cite SOME facts (rare among Warmists). A pity that she was too lazy to check up the record for (say) the whole of C20, though. Still, she's on staff with the activist Natural Resources Defense Council, so I guess we can't expect an enquiring mind from her: Mental lockstep would be needed for a job there

Kelly Henderson

In 1988 (the year I was born) James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, testified before the U.S. Senate on the destruction climate change would bring to Earth in the coming years if something were not done to start curbing dangerous carbon pollution. In his Washington Post opinion piece published earlier this month, Hansen reveals that the bleak forecast he predicted for our planet 24 years ago was far too optimistic:

“My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.”

Hansen and his team of scientists have looked at extreme weather patterns over the last six decades and have seen how much more frequent these patterns have become. The most universal observation is the increase in the number of extremely hot and dry summer days across the county. This summer was no exception. The intense heat over the past few summers has become the most recognizable form of climate change to many Americans. This summer’s droughts and wildfires across the Midwest have only confirmed the fact that climate change is here and happening now. Perhaps it is finally starting to hit home to some former skeptics.

It’s incredible to chart the drastic climate change-related events that have happened just over my lifetime, and from the time Hansen first testified before Congress. Below is a snapshot of some of the most notable events global climate change has brought on the Earth just in the last quarter of a century.

1. 1988- Severe Heat-wave and Drought across the U.S.

The summer of 1988 brought an intense drought in central and eastern U.S. with very severe losses to agriculture and related industries. There was an estimated $71 billion damage/costs and an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 deaths (including heat stress-related).

2. 1991- The Perfect Storm (Halloween Nor'easter of 1991) Hits New England

The so-called "perfect storm" hit the North Atlantic producing large waves along the New England and Canadian coasts. Total damage to Massachusetts alone topped $100 million.

3. 1995- The Disintegration of the Larsen A Ice Shelf

The northernmost Larsen Ice Shelf, located near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, has been in retreat for the last few decades, and much of it is now gone. In late January of 1995, about 2000 square kilometers (770 square miles) disintegrated into small icebergs during a storm. Later in 2002, the Larsen B Ice Shelf, a 3,250-square-kilometer (1,255 square-miles) collapsed as well leaving the entire shelf at 25% of its former state.

4. 1998- Hurricane Madeline Flooded Texas

Massive flooding hit the south central region of Texas from October 18–19th, dumping approximately 30 inches of rainfall in that 48 hour time period and causing 31 deaths and $1.5 billion in damage.

5. 2005- Hurricane Katrina Hits Louisiana

Katrina hit the Louisiana coast with 125 mph sustained winds, causing a storm surge that broke levees that shielded New Orleans from surrounding, higher coastal waters, and leaving 80 percent of the city under water. The hurricane killed at least 1,836 people and inflicted damages estimated at around $125 billion.

6. 2006- Deadly Tornadoes Touched Down in Missouri

Missouri had a record-breaking 102 documented tornadoes in 2006 causing 13 deaths and 273 injuries. The largest two-day tornado outbreak in history happened in Missouri on March 11-12th killing 12 people and injuring more than 100.

7. 2008- Typhoon Fengshen Hit the Philippines

This deadly typhoon killed almost 1,400 people in the Philippines, nearly 800 of which were killed after a ferry capsized near the center of the typhoon. $480 million in damages were caused.

8. 2010- Extremely Cold and Wet Winter Weather on the East Coast of the U.S.

In February 2010, a massive blizzard dubbed "Snowmageddon" by president Obama caused chaos in the eastern US, with parts of the region buried under more than 20 inches of snow.

9. 2011- Reckless Tornado Hit Joplin, Missouri

The tornado that hit the city of 50,000 was the deadliest single tornado in the country since 1947 and the ninth-deadliest tornado of all time. Emergency officials said that 116 people were killed and about 400 were injured.

10. 2012- Super Derecho Storms Hit Middle and Eastern United States

In July, a "super derecho" of violent thunderstorms left a more than a 700-mile trail of destruction across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic, cutting power to millions and killing 13 people. States of emergencies were declared in Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio. With 2.5 million in the dark, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell stated that “Virginia experienced its largest non-hurricane power outage in history.”

These are just 10 examples of some of the most recognizable faces of climate change over the past 24 years – which is basically my whole lifetime. As Hansen explains in his article, extreme weather patterns will continue to worsen if we do not do something to curb pollution. While these incidents span my lifetime, I hope that the next time Hansen testifies, he will be able to illuminate the strides people have taken to lessen the effects of global climate change. Let’s join together to blaze the new path forward for a cleaner, healthier environment.


Foolish bluff from Michael Mann

Oh this is going to be fun. Michael Mann—he of the iconic climate change “hockey stick” that purports to prove man-made climate change by displaying how global temperature is at its highest level in 2000 years (somehow making the Medieval warm period disappear)—is threatening to sue National Review and Mark Steyn (and perhaps Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars) for libel for questioning whether Penn State’s exoneration of Mann over the “Climategate” scandal was as self-serving as their investigation of Jerry Sandusky. Rand Simberg wrote in a blogpost post that “Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.”

The editor of Simberg’s blog subsequently removed this sentence from the post, but it lives on in a post of Steyn’s, to which Steyn added:

Not sure I’d have extended that metaphor all the way into the locker-room showers with quite the zeal Mr Simberg does, but he has a point. Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change “hockey-stick” graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus. And, when the East Anglia emails came out, Penn State felt obliged to “investigate” Professor Mann. Graham Spanier, the Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky, was the same cove who investigated Mann. And, as with Sandusky and Paterno, the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing.

If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up? Whether or not he’s “the Jerry Sandusky of climate change”, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his “investigation” by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.

Now, Mann claims that Steyn’s use of the term “fraudulent” is libelous. I’m not a libel lawyer, but I strongly doubt it. But even without getting into the legal fine points of whether opinion about a public figure can be libelous, I want to note the irony of the situation. Cast your mind back to 2002, when the environmental left (but I repeat. . . oh, never mind—you know the rest) was in a snit about Bjorn Lomborg. An official government body in Denmark with the Orwellian title Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (I’m sure it sounds better in the original German Danish) found that Lomborg was guilty of “scientific dishonesty,” though they never correctly cited a single fact (or alleged error or distortion) in support of this conclusion, which was, incidentally, subsequently overturned after everybody recognized it as a purely political hatchet job.

Other scientists used the word “scam” (a synonym for “fraud,” no?) in describing Lomborg’s findings in his book The Skeptical Environmentalist. There was never a hint from Lomborg or anyone that such language was libelous. (Nor did he press charges after being assaulted more than once.) As I wrote about the persecution of Lomborg ten years ago, “The level of vituperation directed at Lomborg belies either a disturbing self-righteousness that brooks no criticism or a lack of confidence that supposedly superior science can win out in a sustained debate.”

As we see now with Mann, people from his scientific circle can dish it out to people like Lomborg, but can’t take it.

National Review’s editor, Rich Lowry, has today posted a public answer to Mann: “Get lost.” Here’s the most relevant paragraph of the piece in my mind:

Usually, you don’t welcome a nuisance lawsuit, because it’s a nuisance. It consumes time. It costs money. But this is a different matter in light of one word: discovery. If Mann sues us, the materials we will need to mount a full defense will be extremely wide-ranging. So if he files a complaint, we will be doing more than fighting a nuisance lawsuit; we will be embarking on a journalistic project of great interest to us and our readers.

This is where the fun will begin. First off, Mann has been stonewalling on legal requests to turn over his own emails and other private documents in suits against his former employer, the University of Virginia. Now he’ll have to cough those up. But second, I’ll enjoy reading depositions of some of his scientific colleagues, many of whom, while agreeing with Mann generally about climate change, nonetheless find Mann to be an insufferable jerk. In my long review of the “Climategate” email cache, I came across repeated complaints about Mann’s ego, along with doubts about his hockey stick. (So much for an iron-clad “consensus.’) Here’s the relevant part of my long Weekly Standard article about Climategate in 2009 that deals with Mann:

CRU scientist Keith Briffa, whose work on tree rings in Siberia has been subject to its own controversies, emailed Edward Cook of Columbia University: “I am sick to death of Mann stating his reconstruction represents the tropical area just because it contains a few (poorly temperature representative) tropical series,” adding that he was tired of “the increasing trend of self-opinionated verbiage [Mann] has produced over the last few years .??.??. and (better say no more).”

Cook replied: “I agree with you. We both know the probable flaws in Mike’s recon[struction], particularly as it relates to the tropical stuff. Your response is also why I chose not to read the published version of his letter. It would be too aggravating. .??.??. It is puzzling to me that a guy as bright as Mike would be so unwilling to evaluate his own work a bit more objectively.”

In yet another revealing email, Cook told Briffa: “Of course [Bradley] and other members of the MBH [Mann, Bradley, Hughes] camp have a fundamental dislike for the very concept of the MWP, so I tend to view their evaluations as starting out from a somewhat biased perspective, i.e. the cup is not only ‘half-empty’; it is demonstrably ‘broken’. I come more from the ‘cup half-full’ camp when it comes to the MWP, maybe yes, maybe no, but it is too early to say what it is.”

Even as the IPCC was picking up Mann’s hockey stick with enthusiasm, Briffa sent Mann a note of caution about “the possibility of expressing an impression of more consensus than might actually exist. I suppose the earlier talk implying that we should not ‘muddy the waters’ by including contradictory evidence worried me. IPCC is supposed to represent consensus but also areas of uncertainty in the evidence.” Briffa had previously dissented from the hockey stick reconstruction in a 1999 email to Mann and Phil Jones: “I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago.” Even Malcolm Hughes, one of the original hockey stick coauthors, privately expressed reservations about overreliance on their invention, writing to Cook, Mann and others in 2002:

“All of our attempts, so far, to estimate hemisphere-scale temperatures for the period around 1000 years ago are based on far fewer data than any of us would like. None of the datasets used so far has anything like the geographical distribution that experience with recent centuries indicates we need, and no one has yet found a convincing way of validating the lower-frequency components of them against independent data. As Ed [Cook] wrote, in the tree-ring records that form the backbone of most of the published estimates, the problem of poor replication near the beginnings of records is particularly acute, and ubiquitous. .??.??. Therefore, I accept that everything we are doing is preliminary, and should be treated with considerable caution.”

Mann didn’t react well to these hesitations from his colleagues. Even Ray Bradley, a coauthor of the hockey stick article, felt compelled to send a message to Briffa after one of Mann’s self-serving emails with the single line: “Excuse me while I puke.” One extended thread grew increasingly acrimonious as Mann lashed out at his colleagues. He wrote to Briffa, Jones, and seven others in a fury over their favorable remarks about a Science magazine article that offered a temperature history that differed from the hockey stick: “Sadly, your piece on the Esper et al paper is more flawed than even the paper itself. .??.??. There is a lot of damage control that needs to be done and, in my opinion, you’ve done a disservice to the honest discussions we had all had in the past, because you’ve misrepresented the evidence.”

To Briffa in particular Mann wrote: “Hopefully, you know that I respect you quite a bit as a scientist! But in this case, I think you were sloppy. And the sloppiness had a real cost.” Mann’s bad manners prompted Bradley to reply: “I wish to disassociate myself with Mike’s comments, or at least the tone of them. I do not consider myself the final arbiter of what Science should publish, nor do I consider what you did to signify the end of civilization as we know it.” Tempers got so out of hand that Tom Crowley of Duke University intervened: “I am concerned about the stressed tone of some of the words being circulated lately. ..... I think you are all fine fellows and very good scientists and that it is time to smoke the peace pipe on all this and put a temporary moratorium on more email messages until tempers cool down a bit.” Mann responded with his best imitation of Don Corleone: “This is ultimately about the science, it’s not personal.” If the CRU circle treat each other this way, it is no wonder they treat skeptics even more rudely.

As I say, deposing this entire happy band of climateers will be great fun.

Mann has a history of running to the courtroom. He sued Canada’s Tim Ball for saying that Mann belongs in the state pen rather than Penn State. Methinks maybe Ball got it wrong. Mann may be headed for a padded cell somewhere. By the way, hasn’t Mann heard of the track record of people who haul Mark Steyn into court? It isn’t pretty.


Stick It Where the Global Warming Don't Shine

By Mark Steyn

When last we heard from Michael Mann, his chest-thumping lawyer was bellowing, "I don't bluff." As Jonathan Adler writes today at the Volokh Conspiracy lawyers' blog: "I think the folks at NR just called it."

Indeed. You can get the general line of NR's response to Dr Mann from the headline: "Get Lost."

Watts Up With That calls it "the best Michael Mann headline evah". But read the rest of Rich Lowry's reply, too - especially the bits related to discovery, or, as Aussie Climate Madness calls it, "Mann's risky path". Red State also weighs in, and a sharp post by Powerline's Steven Hayward [above] concludes: "By the way, hasn't Mann heard of the track record of people who haul Mark Steyn into court? It isn't pretty."

Actually, I'll bet Michael Mann had never heard of me when he blew his gasket, and I'll wager his high-priced counsel never bothered doing two minutes of Googling. If they had, they'd have known that once they start this thing they'd better be prepared to go the distance.

For my part, although I've been dismissive of Mann's "hockey stick" for over a decade, I'd never paid much attention to him personally. All I'd say is he seems strangely insecure for a person of such eminence. I wonder what he'll be like on the witness stand. And I'll be interested to see whether his page links to NR's lawyer's letter the way my page linked to his lawyer's.

Hockey sticks akimbo, baby!

By the way, if you've ever thought of donating to National Review, or better yet subscribing, there's never been a better time.

In a related development, a big pile of documents were very belatedly released yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act. Among them, an email from one of Dr Mann's fellow scientists complaining about being "hit on the head with a hockey stick".


New paper finds no evidence of increased humidity in US, contradicts global warming theory

A paper published today in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology finds, contrary to global warming theory, that "little change has occurred in dewpoint and specific humidity" in the U.S. over the 80 year period from 1930 to 2010. The paper also finds "trends in relative humidity show little change for the period 1947 – 2010." Thus, the paper contradicts the theory of a runaway greenhouse effect allegedly due to positive feedback from increased atmospheric water vapor and specific humidity.
Trends in U.S. surface humidity, 1930 – 2010

By Paula J. Brown et al.


U.S. hourly surface observations are examined at 145 stations to identify annual and seasonal changes in temperature, dewpoint, relative humidity and specific humidity since 1930. Due to numerous systematic instrument changes that have occurred, a homogeneity assessment was performed on temperatures and dewpoints. Dewpoints contained higher breakpoint detection rates associated with instrumentation changes than temperatures. Temperature trends were tempered by adjusting the data, while dewpoints were unaffected. The effects were the same whether the adjustments were based on statistically-detected or fixed-year breakpoints. Average long-term trends (1930 – 2010) indicate that temperature has warmed, but little change has occurred in dewpoint and specific humidity. Warming is strongest in spring. There is evidence of inhomogeneity in the relative humidity record that primarily affects data prior to 1950. Therefore long-term decreases in relative humidity, that are strongest in winter, need to be viewed with caution.

Trends since 1947 indicate that the warming of temperatures has coincided with increases in dewpoints and a moistening of specific humidity. This moistening is especially pronounced during the summer in the Midwest. Nationally, trends in relative humidity show little change for the period 1947 – 2010 during which these data are more homogeneous. However, moistening has occurred throughout the central U.S. while other regions have seen drying. Urban-related warming and drying trends are present in the data but their effect is minimal. Regional changes in landuse and moisture availability are likely influencing trends in atmospheric moisture.


Unclear on the concept: PBS tries to sell the climate hoax by quoting farmers who spend a lot of time complaining about cool weather

"Mother Nature been unkind to farmers this year....

These are just some of the new normals for farmers around the world, said Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute for the Environment at the University of Minnesota. ....

The weather has become completely erratic: late frosts, cold summer nights (10 degrees colder than in the past), cool summer days, warm winters, rain in late spring and not in the heart of winter, early rain, wind all the time, more weather disturbances in the summer. The high-value, summer season crops that comprise the bulk of our income simply don't grow consistently or healthily. Throughout the last three years, we have seen a marked increase in blights and fungus due to cold, damp weather and have lost entire crops of tomatoes, peppers, melons and squash. The weather has shortened our productive season so much that we don't know how much longer we can afford to farm. ....

...the only "classic Sonoma County" summer we've had was our first one five seasons ago. Since then, late, cool, wet springs and foggy midsummer mornings have prevailed. Then again, this summer has been essentially horrible for growing crops of any variety. It has swung between extremes of cold and hot -- within the course of one week, we experienced a temperature spike to 107 and then a cool, drizzly day in the 50s and 60s. Our brassica crops (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) have been 1/3 the size they normally would be. Instead of nice, big heads of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, we have miniatures -- meaning our yield is down considerably. And yet, due to the cool weather, we're not as far along as we would have been (with respect to ripening) had we experienced a simply hot summer. ...

Earlier warm weather has pushed harvest up into the late summer instead of fall, [which can] really affect the wines we produce from those grapes. We have also had some unseasonably warm temperatures cause blossoming only to have the blossoms destroyed by a return to deep cold. In 2007 we lost our entire crop to that sort of phenomena. With grapes our biggest problem is mold and fungus. Cool wet springs with wildly varying temperatures have placed bigger than ever demands on growers to use spray fungicides in order to keep the grapes from being affected. ...

[In 2011] we had record snow that caused a barn to collapse. Then we had record rain that decreased our potato crop and tomato crop by half. This year has now started with a dry spell and up until last week [we] were watering every day."


Romney Energy Plan Touts Drilling, Keystone Pipeline

Mitt Romney said Thursday that the U.S. can achieve energy independence by 2020 and create millions of jobs with more drilling on federal lands and offshore.

His proposal, which took immediate fire from environmentalists, moves more in the direction of free markets than any presidential aspirant has offered in a while.

"I give him some credit for putting forward some rather bold proposals that differ from current policy," said Myron Ebell, an energy expert and president of the conservative Freedom Action.

Romney aims for energy self-reliance by the end of the decade, something his plan claims would create up to 3.6 million new jobs and add $500 billion to GDP.

"This is not some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing," he said in energy-rich Hobbs, N.M. "This is a real achievable objective."

America's natural gas and crude oil production has soared in recent years, pushing U.S. natgas prices to long-term lows. But the boom largely reflects output on private and state lands. Natgas production fell 11% in federal lands and waters in fiscal 2011, according to Interior Department data, while oil sank 14%.

Romney would establish a five-year leasing plan to open new areas for offshore drilling and reform the complex permitting process. And he would let state governments handle the drilling permit process for federal lands within their borders.

It takes an average of 307 days to receive a permit to drill on federal lands, according to the Romney campaign. State approval usually takes only a few weeks.

"There is oil and gas on federal lands that is not being produced that would be produced on private land, given current prices," said Jerry Taylor, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. "Producing things that are valuable and profitable are good for economic growth."

Environmentalists said Romney's plan would gut protective federal regulations.

"This is Romney ... handing the keys to America's public lands over to the oil and gas industry and it's not going to speed up anything," Christy Goldfuss, director of the Public Lands Project at the liberal Center for American Progress.

Backs Keystone

Romney also would OK construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada's oil sands to Gulf of Mexico refineries. President Obama this year delayed a decision until 2013, siding with environmentalists over energy producers and private labor unions.

Although it is not in the proposal, Romney had earlier opposed the wind production tax credit, set to expire on Dec. 31.

"Romney has really stuck his neck out on that one," said Ebell. "That could hurt him in states like Iowa and Colorado that have a lot of wind industry jobs there, and farmers and ranchers who are benefiting from the windmill rental fees."

But he does keep the ethanol mandate — currently 13 billion gallons — that must be mixed into gasoline supplies.

"It's clearly not working out," said Ebell. "It's having a terrible effect on our food sector. It's too bad Romney has signed on to it, but he needs to with the corn states and doesn't want to alienate rural conservative Republicans in those states."

More than 150 House members and 25 Senators are calling on Obama to suspend the mandate.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


23 August, 2012

Is Global Warming Causing A Record Breaking LACK Of Tornado activity?

Although perfectly factual, the article below is a bit of a tease. It would be much more reasonable to argue that the temperature stasis of the last 15 years has minimized the need for adjustments that tornadoes reflect. Either way, however, the facts are the opposite of what Warmists proclaim

The year 2012 is breaking all-time records for lack of tornado activity, inviting the question whether global warming is causing a long-term decline in destructive extreme weather events.

According the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, only 12 tornadoes touched down in the United States during July 2012, shattering the previous July record low of 42 tornadoes recorded in 1960. Because radar technology in 1960 could not detect many of the smaller tornadoes that are detectable today, scientists believe the actual number of tornadoes that occurred in the previous record-low July 1960 was actually about 73. Accordingly, six times more tornadoes occurred in July 1960, the previous record-low year, than occurred in July 2012.

Similarly, less than 300 tornadoes were recorded in this year’s peak tornado season, which runs from mid-April through late-July. Approximately 850 tornadoes touch down during the peak season in an average year. Accordingly, three times more tornadoes occur during an average peak-tornado season than occurred in 2012.

Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, says the lack of tornado activity is due to warm, dry weather in the American Midwest and a northerly tracking jet stream this year. These two factors have also reduced the number of strong thunderstorms that global warming alarmists claim are made more frequent and severe by global warming.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show a long-term decline, at least since the mid-1970s, in strong tornadoes. This decline in strong tornadoes began precisely when global temperatures rebounded from a 30-year cooling spell.

Although strong tornado activity is declining in sync with the recent modest rise in global temperatures, global warming alarmists frequently assert that whenever one of the ever-less-frequent tornadoes occurs, global warming must be to blame. This is typical of the tactics of global warming alarmists, who rarely miss an opportunity to misrepresent scientific facts to further their political agenda.

After some tornadoes touched down in March of this year, for example, Brad Johnson of the leftist activist group Center for American Progress wrote an article tying the tornadoes to global warming. “In the face of this warning, we must ask if our current path of increased pollution and decreased investment in public safety is the wisest course,” wrote Johnson.

Similarly, CNN meteorologist Alexandra Steele told viewers in April of this year that global warming was responsible for tornadoes that touched down in the Dallas area that month.

Tornadoes are becoming less frequent and less severe as our planet modestly warms. Yet global warming alarmists focus attention on the few tornadoes that still do occur and say that global warming is causing these increasingly rare tornadoes. The true question, however, is not whether global warming is causing more tornadoes, but whether the declining frequency and severity of tornadoes is being caused by global warming.


Growing Himalyayan glaciers causing sea-level FALL

Another group of researchers has weighed in on the continuing scientific scuffle over whether the Himalayan glaciers are melting. A letter to Nature Geoscience reports that the Karakoram glaciers, a part of the greater Himalaya north of the actual Himalaya Range, are actually gaining mass. Outside the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, the Karakoram is the most heavily glaciated part of the world, containing nearly 3% of the planet's total ice area. But because they are so large, difficult to get to and dangerous to travel on, they have not been measured by conventional survey methods. Scientists have instead, been relying on satellite measurements, whose accuracy is now called into question. This impressive new study says that the Karakoram glaciers are not only not shrinking, they are accumulating enough ice each year to cause a slight decrease in ocean sea-level.

“Assessments of the state of health of Hindu-Kush–Karakoram–Himalaya glaciers and their contribution to regional hydrology and global sea-level rise suffer from a severe lack of observations,” state Julie Gardelle, Etienne Berthier and Yves Arnaud at the beginning of their new paper appearing in the May 2012, issue of Nature Geoscience. Climate change orthodoxy says that these glaciers should be melting, but there have been many conflicting reports regarding the state of the glaciers in this remote area of Asia—the so called “Karakoram anomaly.” Direct observations are scant and numerous glacier surges in the region change glacier length and velocity complicating the interpretation of available data. This new painstaking study is a significant accomplishment and greatly advances science's understanding of conditions in the region. Here is the authors' summary of their work:
Here, we calculate the regional mass balance of glaciers in the central Karakoram between 1999 and 2008, based on the difference between two digital elevation models. We find a highly heterogeneous spatial pattern of changes in glacier elevation, which shows that ice thinning and ablation at high rates can occur on debris-covered glacier tongues. The regional mass balance is just positive at +0.11±0.22?m?yr-1 water equivalent and in agreement with the observed reduction of river runoff that originates in this area. Our measurements confirm an anomalous mass balance in the Karakoram region and indicate that the contribution of Karakoram glaciers to sea-level rise was ?0.01?mm?yr-1 for the period from 1999 to 2008, 0.05?mm?yr-1 lower than suggested before.

Gardelle et al., observed the geodetic mass balance for a 5,615?km2 ice-covered area in the Karakoram region. They studied the area's spatial variability and estimated the contribution such change would make to sea-level rise. “We measured regional changes in ice elevation by differencing two digital elevation models (DEMs) generated from the February 2000 Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) and from Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT5) optical stereo imagery acquired in December 2008. Mean elevation changes are then converted into mass balance by assuming a density of 900?kg?m-3 both in the accumulation and ablation areas,” the paper explains. The area under study is shown below.

Not that performing the required measurements was a simple matter. Many of the subject glaciers are known or suspected to have surged in the past and the distribution of elevation changes is far from homogeneous. Many of the glaciers show strong thinning and thickening rates of up to 16?m?yr?1 in either direction, requiring each glacier to be analyzed individually. They also found that studies using the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) project data to infer the change in glacier mass in central Asia led to conflicting results.

In a News & Views article in the same journal issue, Graham Cogley, a geologist at Trent University, hails the work by Gardelle et al. as having “removed the question mark.” Recapping the new results in greater detail, Cogley goes on:
Building on the hard-won but limited field observations, Gardelle and colleagues used remote sensing to measure glacier mass changes in the Karakoram. Specifically, they subtracted an earlier digital elevation model, derived from radar scanning in February 2000, from a later model obtained with a stereoscopic sensor in December 2008. They derive a mass balance near zero over an area of 5,600 km2, about one quarter of the ice-covered area in the entire Karakoram. If the mass balance measured by Gardelle and colleagues is representative for all the Karakoram glaciers, ice loss in this region contributed ?0.006 mm yr-1 to sea-level change in the past decade — rather than +0.040 mm yr-1, as implied by a previous estimate obtained by extrapolation. Evidently, extrapolation and analogy have failed in this significant region.

With typical scientific understatement, Cogley has revealed a fact about all previous estimates of glacial melting and projections of corresponding sea-level rise—they are based on guesswork. Oh, it's educated guesswork, but guesswork nonetheless. Undoubtedly there is more melting going on than growth world wide, this is a warm period after all. But those who take limited observations of glacial melting and prophesy an imminent watery grave for the world's coastal cities need to take note. Indeed, to fulfill the worst of the doomsayer's projections would require the collapse of the Greenland and Western Antarctic Ice Sheets—something that has probably not happened since MIS 11 over 400,000 years ago (see “Collapse of polar ice sheets during the stage 11 interglacial”).

Contrary to “consensus” climate change wisdom, this remote mountain region where China, India and Pakistan intersect is not losing its glaciers, it is gaining ice mass. Not only is the Karakorum not contributing to sea-level rise, it is responsible for a slight drop in the world's oceans—for now. Did someone say “settled science?”

This is the most unsettling thing about climate change, and nature itself: the “facts” keep changing. Sometimes this is due to science improving and sometimes it is due to nature itself changing. Those who talk about nature, science and climate change in absolutes, those who pretend to know what the future holds, are trying to fool the rest of us, or they are fools themselves.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.


China Says U.S. Clean-Energy Projects Violate WTO Rules

China's Commerce Ministry said six renewable-energy projects in five U.S. states have violated global trade rules, though it stopped short of announcing any penalties.

The ministry's announcement Monday continues the tit-for-tat moves in the clean-energy sector pitting China against its two-largest trade partners, the U.S. and European Union. It comes as clean energy policy is becoming an issue in the U.S. presidential elections and demand for wind and solar-power equipment from Europe is falling.

China's commerce ministry said in its final ruling that the projects, including a solar-power venture in Massachusetts and a wind-power venture in Ohio, received subsidies that violated World Trade Organization rules and served as trade barriers to Chinese exports to the U.S. The ministry also cited renewable-energy projects in Washington state, New Jersey and California, without elaborating. The ministry investigation, which began in November, was undertaken on behalf of industry associations representing Chinese exporters and renewable energy companies.

China calls on the U.S. to cancel practices not in line with WTO rules and to "give Chinese renewable energy products fair treatment," it said on its website.

The U.S. has made moves of its own against Chinese-made clean-energy equipment, with the U.S. Commerce Department announcing a number of provisional and final duties against imports over the past six months.

U.S. renewable-energy policies have come under internal scrutiny during the presidential race there, with Republican candidate Mitt Romney criticizing the Obama administration for what he call excessive subsidies for the industry. Mr. Romney has also said that if president, he would stand up to China on trade and demand it play by global trade rules.

China's clean-energy ties with the EU, too, are strained. Four Chinese solar companies last week urged the commerce ministry to investigate claimed support given to polysilicon imported from Europe. A month ago the ministry launched similar investigations into polysilicon imports from South Korea and the U.S.

Polysilicon is the raw material used in most solar panels.

In July, Germany-based SolarWorld AG, SWV.XE +0.80% one of Europe's largest solar-panel makers, joined other European companies in filing a complaint with the European Commission seeking tariffs on Chinese-made panels, alleging that Chinese manufacturers received illegal subsidies and were dumping at below-cost prices.


Global Warming Is about Social Science Too

Who's in denial?

Both sides in the debate over global warming are known for calling their opposition all kinds of derisive names. Perhaps the worst is “denier” to describe those who allegedly deny that global warming is “real.” The echoes of Holocaust denial are indeed offensive, particularly because the debate over global warming often conflates science with social science. This matters because one could accept that science has established global warming but still reject for social scientific reasons the claim that the policies normally associated with environmentalism are the proper way to address its effects. Does that make one a “denier?” It is that question I hope to answer indirectly below.

To help clarify what’s at stake, I offer a list of questions that are (or should be) at the center of the debate over anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming. I will provide some quick commentary on some to note their importance and then conclude with what I see as the importance of this list.

1. Is the planet getting warmer?

2. If it’s getting warmer, is that warming caused by humans? Obviously this is a big question because if warming is not human-caused, then it’s not clear how much we can do to reduce it. What we might do about the consequences, however, remains an open question.

3. If it’s getting warmer, by what magnitude? If the magnitude is large, then there’s one set of implications. But if it’s small, then, as we’ll see, it might not be worth responding to. This is a good example of a scientific question with large implications for policy.

Matters of Science

All these questions are presumably matters of science. In principle we ought to be able to answer them using the tools of science, even if they are complex issues that involve competing interpretations and methods. Let’s assume the planet is in fact warming and that humans are the reason.

4. What are the costs of global warming? This question is frequently asked and answered.

5. What are the benefits of global warming? This question needs to be asked as well, as global warming might bring currently arctic areas into a more temperate climate that would enable them to become sources of food. Plus, a warmer planet might decrease the demand for fossil fuels for heating homes and businesses in those formerly colder places.

6. Do the benefits outweigh the costs or do the costs outweigh the benefits? This is also not frequently asked. Obviously, if the benefits outweigh the costs, then we shouldn’t be worrying about global warming. Two other points are worth considering. First, the benefits and costs are not questions of scientific fact because how we do the accounting depends on all kinds of value-laden questions. But that doesn’t mean the cost-benefit comparison isn’t important. Second, this question might depend greatly on the answers to the scientific questions above. In other words: All questions of public policy are ones that require both facts and values to answer. One cannot go directly from science to policy without asking the kinds of questions I’ve raised here.

7. If the costs outweigh the benefits, what sorts of policies are appropriate? There are many too many questions here to deal with in detail, but it should be noted that disagreements over what sorts of policies would best deal with the net costs of global warming are, again, matters of both fact and value, or science and social science.

8. What are the costs of the policies designed to reduce the costs of global warming? This question is not asked nearly enough. Even if we design policies on the blackboard that seem to mitigate the effects of global warming, we have to consider, first, whether those policies are even likely to be passed by politicians as we know them, and second, whether the policies might have associated costs that outweigh their benefits with respect to global warming. So if in our attempt to reduce the effects of global warming we slow economic growth so far as to impoverish more people, or we give powers to governments that are likely to be used in ways having little to do with global warming, we have to consider those results in the total costs and benefits of using policy to combat global warming. This is a question of social science that is no less important than the scientific questions I began with.

I could add more, but this is sufficient to make my key points. First, it is perfectly possible to accept the science of global warming but reject the policies most often put forward to combat it. One can think humans are causing the planet to warm but logically and humanely conclude that we should do nothing about it.

Second, people who take that position and back it up with good arguments should not be called “deniers.” They are not denying the science; they are questioning its implications. In fact, those who think they can go directly from science to policy are, as it turns out, engaged in denial – denial of the relevance of social science.


Carbon tax proposal would hobble our already challenged economy, stall growth

Even if a carbon tax could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, should it be implemented if it would undermine the economic recovery and stall short-term growth?

Under one possible approach, all countries would agree to penalize carbon emissions at an internationally harmonized carbon tax. But let’s be realistic: Because of the huge economic and political imbalances between the industrialized and developing world, the carbon-tax approach to emissions reduction is a pipe dream.

As much as 85 percent of the projected increase in man-made global emissions of carbon dioxide will come from developing countries, as a result of growing electric power use and automobile ownership that accompany economic growth.

The United States and other advanced countries won’t sacrifice their living standards, and the developing ones aren’t going to worry about climate change while their incomes are a fraction of those in advanced nations.

The hardest hit by the tax

The hardest hit sectors of the U.S. economy from a carbon tax would be energy-intensive industries, particularly chemicals, automobile manufacturing, iron and steel, aluminum, cement, and mining and oil refining.

These large industries would be at a serious disadvantage in the world marketplace, and many companies would move production to countries without such a tax. The cost in dollars, as well as in lost jobs, from a carbon-tax would be staggering. And the cost would ultimately fall on American consumers — without necessarily generating any environmental benefits if China, India and other countries with fast-growing economies continue to pollute.

In theory, the cost of a U.S. carbon tax could be rebated to consumers. But it’s more likely that most of the money would be used to subsidize renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

For years now, solar and wind companies have received taxpayer-subsidized grants and federally guaranteed loans for plant construction along with requirements forcing utilities to buy back the electricity they generate at costs far above conventionally-generated electricity.

What’s more, the argument for a carbon tax unfairly discounts the hard-won gains that U.S. industries already have made in reducing carbon emissions and threatens to hinder further progress.

The fact is, the United States has cut its carbon emissions more than any other country in the world in recent years — by 9 percent since 2007.

Rather than waste our time on what is politically unattainable, why not focus on some initiatives that already are making a difference?

Cleaner energy

The revolution in natural gas production has made a reduction in emissions possible — not only in the United States but globally. Natural gas is much cleaner than coal, generating at least 50 percent less carbon per kilowatt hour. And because electricity generation produces 41 percent of the carbon that the United States emits — the largest single source — the switch from coal to gas is significant.

Thanks to advanced drilling technologies and an abundance of gas from shale deposits, natural gas has accounted for more than 80 percent of new electrical generating capacity in the United States.

The share of U.S. electricity that comes from coal is forecast to fall below 40 percent this year, its lowest level since World War II, and down from 50 percent four years ago.

By the end of this decade it is likely to be near 30 percent. Now, we need to export U.S. technology for seismic imaging, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to other countries with large shale-gas deposits. Spreading advanced energy technologies globally would lower the cost of controlling emissions substantially.

By using advances in technology, we can expand the use of natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energies and achieve a substantial reduction in carbon emissions, without resorting to a carbon tax that would hobble our economy.


U.S. court strikes down EPA rule on coal pollution

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday overturned a key Obama administration rule to reduce harmful emissions from coal-burning power plants, sparking a rally in coal company shares and relief among utility firms.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in a 2-1 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its mandate with the rule, which was to limit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants in 28 mostly Eastern states and Texas.

In the latest setback for the EPA, the court sent the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule back for revision, telling the agency to administer its existing Clean Air Interstate Rule - the Bush-era regulation that it was updating - in the interim. The EPA said it was reviewing the ruling.

The decision was cheered by some Republicans, who have made the EPA and President Barack Obama's environmental policies a major campaign theme ahead of November elections.

The agency is endangering a fragile economic recovery by saddling U.S. industries with costly new rules, Republicans say.

"The Obama-EPA continues to demonstrate that it will stop at nothing in its determination to kill coal," said Republican Senator James Inhofe, one of the Senate's most vocal EPA opponents. "With so much economic pain in store, it is fortunate that EPA was sent back to the drawing board."

Power groups, which had argued that they could not meet the timeframe or bear the financial burden of installing costly new equipment, welcomed the court's decision. The EPA had estimated it would cost $800 million annually from 2014.

"The court was clear in finding that EPA had overstepped its legal authority in developing the rule," said Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council.

Coal company stocks, which have suffered this year as cheap natural gas undercut demand for coal from power companies, soared. Peabody Energy was 3.7 percent higher and Arch Coal rose 1.1 percent.

U.S. natural gas futures briefly fell more than 3 percent after the ruling's announcement as traders bet it would mean less demand for the cleaner fuel over the coming months. By midday, prices had recovered those losses.

But some analysts saw little material impact from the ruling, with dozens of coal-fired plants already slated for closure due to other EPA regulations.

"It gives the EPA a little bit more of a black eye," said Andrew Weissman, senior energy adviser at law firm Haynes and Boone, which advises power and gas sector clients.

"But in the bigger picture, it many not be important in terms of the practical consequences."


The EPA's rule was designed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent and nitrogen oxide by 54 percent at coal-fired power plants from 2005 levels, improving health for over 240 million people, according to the agency. The reasoning is that unhealthy emissions from those plants, pollutants that cause acid rain and smog, cross state lines.

Two of the three judges ruling on the case said the EPA had exceeded its "jurisdictional limits" in interpreting the Clean Air Act and imposed "massive emission reduction requirements" on upwind states.

"By doing so, EPA departed from its consistent prior approach to implementing the good neighbor provision and violated the (Clean Air Act)," Judge Brett Kavanaugh said in the court's opinion.

The rule, known as CSAPR, also established a cap-and-trade system that enabled power producers to comply with the emission limits by buying, trading and selling pollution permits.

Environmental market traders said they were "surprised and disappointed" by the ruling.

Power generators, such as Southern Co, had argued that the Jan. 1 implementation date was too soon to design and install the needed pollution control equipment.

More here


For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


22 August, 2012

This appalling decline in productivity

Comment from Britain by Tim Worstall

Much ink is being spilled as people try to work out how to reconcile two conflicing economic statistics. GDP is still going down yet so is unemployment. If more people are employed they should be producing more thus GDP should be rising. Unless, of course, productivity is falling at the same time but that would be very odd indeed.
Finally, it is possible that falling productivity has been one of the many malign effects of the recession. If output per worker has dropped markedly, then it is possible to square rising employment with falling output, even though there has not yet been a really convincing explanation for why employees should have lost their skills or their motivation in such a profound way over the past five years. If both the GDP and the employment figures are correct, then productivity is dropping by more than 1% a quarter, a truly catastrophic performance.

The thing is though, this very odd indeed, this truly catastrophic performance, it's not a happenstance, some unlikely side effect of our current problems. This is actually planned, forced upon us even. It's deliberate.

Take, as an example, they way in which we are told that green energy is more jobs intensive. Without bothering to look up the numbers we're told that powering the country by nuclear plants employs 3 people, doing so with solar 50,000 and with windmills 2,000,000. There might be some exaggeration for effect there but we all have heard the story. Green energy will produce more jobs for the same amount of power. We are told this is a good thing.

Yet greater jobs intensity is exactly the same thing as falling labour productivity. If it takes 10 people to make a unit of electricity one way and 20 people another then the productivity of labour in producing electricity in the second method is half that in the first.

It's not just energy that is afflicted with this nonsense either. The usual suspects are similarly telling us that we must farm organically, something that requires more labour for the same output. That we should use small local shops instead of supermarkets: we're told we must do this because small local shops are more labour intensive: read lower labour productivity. We should purchase artisanal products, not mass manufactured ones: by definition, products with lower labour productivity. Every hand spun yurt knitted out of lentils is indeed more job intensive and thus lowers labour productivity.

Now quite how much of what we can see in the unemployment and GDP figures comes from this effect is another matter. But do understand the basic point. What even The Guardian calls a "truly catastrophic performance" is what the various greens and Greens are urging upon us as our future lifestyle. They want to lower labour productivity. They insist that it must happen.

They really are campaigning that we must all work harder in order to have less.

This is neither happenstance nor coincidence: this is enemy action.


BBC burnt over climate change claim UK will be as hot as Madeira

The BBC has been accused by the Met Office, its forecaster, of making "unrealistic" claims that climate change will make Britain as hot as Madeira by the 2060s.

Tom Heap, the Countryfile presenter, said the Government's research indicated that in 50 years "there is a pretty good chance" Britain's climate will be similar to the semi–tropical island off Africa.

Broadcasting from the island for Radio 4's Costing the Earth, he suggested that British farmers will be able to grow papaya, pineapples and prickly pear within decades.

But Dr Richard Betts, the top climate change scientist at the Met Office, said it was "unrealistic" to expect a climate like Madeira's by the 2060s.

In making predictions for the Government, the Met Office suggested temperatures could rise from the average of 10C (50F) to 17C (63F) in the summer to 15C (59F) to 22C (72F) by 2080.
This is comparable with Madeira's summer range of 19C (66F) to 23C (73F) but would not happen until well into the 2080s, and then only in the South.

Dr Peter Carey, an ecologist who contributed to the BBC show, claimed certain areas could be similar to "cooler, wetter parts of Madeira" by "the 2060s to the 2080s". Radio 4 said the theory was clearly identified as "Dr Carey's interpretation".


Australian public broadcaster on Muller and crumbling scepticism

This article, by ABC's environment editor, Sara Phillips, encapsulates all that is wrong with the national broadcaster's treatment of the climate debate. Written, as always, from a position of belief, and institutionally critical of any dissent, Phillips attempts to show that scepticism is crumbling in the face of ever-mounting evidence to the contrary:
American physicist Richard Muller is one climate sceptic who has recently changed his mind after reviewing the evidence.

Muller crunched a bunch of numbers to do with global temperatures and announced in the New York Times that he is a "converted sceptic". It was this opinion piece in arguably the world's most influential paper that set tongues wagging about climate change all over again.

Muller had previously been claimed by those unconvinced by the science as one of their own, because he questioned the validity of Mann's 'hockey stick' graph, used by Al Gore in his film An Inconvenient Truth.

Muller was never a sceptic, and there are plenty of rusted on believers who have problems with both Mann's hockey stick and AIT, which is nothing more than a propaganda film. Muller's subsequent evidence-free claim of attribution to human causes has led to widespread ridicule from within the warmist community.

She then attempts to frame Bjorn Lomborg as a convert from scepticism, using some highly selective quotes from past newspaper interviews:
Bjorn Lomborg is another high-profile climate sceptic who changed his mind after reviewing the evidence. He now believes climate change is real, but that it won't be the calamity predicted by some.

However, Lomborg directly addressed his alleged switch in a Guardian article cited indirectly:
He reiterates that he has never denied anthropogenic global warming, and insists that he long ago accepted the cost of damage would be between 2% and 3% of world wealth by the end of this century. This estimate is the same, he says, as that quoted by Lord Stern, whose report for the British government argued that the world should spend 1-2% of gross domestic product on tackling climate change to avoid future damage.

He has never doubted the role of CO2, but has rightly questioned the cost-benefit analysis of the proposed solutions. Phillips then describes Alan Jones as "frothing" to David Karoly. Whether you agree with Jones or not, Phillips would never describe a consensus climate scientist as "frothing", a highly inappropriate term to use. But it just helps to paint the picture of "deniers" as being deluded and crazy.

Of course there is a spectrum of views on climate - as she points out - which range from outright disbelief that temperatures are rising at all to acceptance of a measurable human signal in the global temperature record. However, she portrays this range of views in a very simplistic manner in an attempt to ridicule those who dare question the consensus.

Her conclusion appears to be that scepticism is on the wane and that "denial" is harder to sustain. But her view, distorted as it is by the prism of belief in AGW, fails to appreciate that the majority of sceptics accept the role of CO2 and that there is a human contribution to warming.

However, the reality is that there are problems with the surface temperature record, and there are problems with feedbacks in climate models, and there are serious questions to be answered regarding the proposed mitigation policies in response. Nothing in Muller's alleged conversion changes any of those issues.

More importantly, she completely ignores the fact that, due in part to an endless barrage of scare stories which have failed to eventuate, scepticism of the alarmist claims of The Cause™ has increased substantially over the past decade, to the point where a significant proportion of the public are now highly suspicious of the pronouncements of climate scientists and government advisers such as Tim Flannery.

Unfortunately, the article is just the latest in a very long line of examples of ABC's climate groupthink, where the utterances of climate scientists are beyond reproach and questioning of the consensus is frowned upon. That is not how science works: the motto, which the ABC, our taxpayer-funded and supposedly impartial national broadcaster, would do well to remember, is "question everything".


Global Warming: a Marxist perspective

With the recent Rio+20 green fest now over, but with the underlying agenda continuing in myriad different ways because of the insidious impact of Agenda 21, this article in a Marxist journal describes exactly what is behind the the activities of the UN.
The impacts of global warming fall disproportionately on the poor. The effects will manifest themselves in lots of ways: more expensive foods, a shortage of water, less fertile soil, and more extreme weather. Those who will suffer (and already are suffering) as a result are ordinary working and middle class people, peasant farmers – in short, everyone except the super-rich, who can always up sticks and move to a more pleasant climate. Although at the moment the effects are largely confined to the so-called third world, they are already starting to impact on the richer countries.

This means that global warming is not just a scientific issue, but a class issue.

“The dialectical nature of climate change is a striking confirmation of the philosophy of dialectical materialism developed by the founders of scientific socialism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In his unfinished book The Dialectics of Nature, Engels provides us with an explanation of dialectical materialism: “the transformation of quantity and quality – mutual penetration of polar opposites and transformation into each other when carried to extremes – This is confirmed to be just as correct for global warming, particularly through the discovery of ‘tipping points’, as in other aspects of science and nature.

Solving environmental issues would require investment in new research, industry and technique, which the capitalist class is incapable of. Even in the previous period of economic growth before the economic crisis, investment from the private sector in clean technology such as solar panels or wind turbines was minimal.

They do have some insight, as we know, green subsidies brought global companies such as GE, BP, Shell and others, onto the global warming bandwagon:


Now Backyard Barbeques Are Destroying The Planet – Leading German Alarmist Site Frets

The demonization of the outdoor barbecue has begun – expect it to be banned soon in our lifetime

I like visiting the German alarmist websites. Among my favorites is klimaretter “climate rescuers”, a leading alarmist site run by a gaggle of tree-hugging, panic-spreading kooks who insist the end is near. They’re aligned with Joe Romm, Bill McKibben and other nutjobs. Stefan Rahmstorf donates money to them.

Today their entertainment did not disappoint me. Climate-rescuer contributor Georg Etscheit shares his experience and exasperation over a barbecue birthday party he was invited to by his barbecue-fan dentist - too much smoke, environmental destruction and fat!

For the environmentally and climatically obsessed Georg, all that the charcoal-burning and meat-eating is a “pyromaniacal ritual” that is intolerable and has to stop.

First he frets that in the future climate change will surely bring us many more days that will be ideal for having more environmentally destructive barbecues. Next, he describes the set-up his meat-eating dentist had:

"In his yard behind his dental practice, he had a pavilion set up for guests and his barbecue equipment was placed near it. The first thing that caught my eye was this voluminous casket-like appliance of US-American origin, a metal box with a huge cover for the charcoal. There’s an overheat feature that is supposed to be good for handling an entire pig. And such an animal was indeed lying on that casket, red, oozing and carved – a wretched picture. And I was supposed to eat that soon?”

But the cruelty that the poor pig frying on the grill had to endure was the least of his worries. Next he describes the dentist’s grill in more detail:

"My barbecue-enthusiast dentist of course owned a luxurious barbecue grill, the kind you can buy at every home-center. Such a luxury grill-monster on wheels can easily cost several thousand euros. Sizzling on the grill, producing huge clouds of smoke, was an abundance of sausage and spare ribs. Then I noticed he also had a smaller spherical grill with a dozen grilled chickens going as well.”

Georg then complains about the all the smoke and grease, advising barbecue guests that it’s best to wear old clothing to barbecues because…

"Smelly clouds of smoke are produced by the burning spare ribs and charred chicken, which are also drenched with artificial smoke-aroma barbecue sauces, all accompanied by mayonnaise-soaked egg, potato and pasta salads, which all surely leave fat and grease everywhere.”

How yukky! By now I can imagine poor Georg sitting as far away as possible, in some corner all by himself. He adds:

"I don’t want to go further into detail. But for me it is clear that there is little to be desired from such pyromaniacal male rituals from the early times of the homo sapien sapiens. From a culinary perspective, invitations to barbecues are almost always a catastrophe, also health-wise because charred fat and meat in addition to the synthetically produced sauces and marinades are known to be extremely carcinogenic and very difficult to digest without huge quantities of pure alcohol.”

Well, alcohol does help. Next he describes the environmental and climatic impacts of barbecues:

"Ecologically and from a climate perspective, barbecues are nothing but a disaster. Just the enormous quantities of meat at barbecues is completely unacceptable. Then there’s the charcoal, which is ecologically okay only if you look at it only on the surface. About two thirds of the 300,000 tons of charcoal burned in Germany every year by barbecue fans comes from the South American rain-forests. Most of the raw wood for this must be illegally cut.”

Again the rainforests. Georg then says that barbecues will take the planet to a tipping point:

"Barbecue fans contribute to the destruction of the rain forests in three ways, and thus to climate change: First because of the soy production needed for producing huge amounts of meat. Secondly through the chopping of trees for producing charcoal. Moreover, this takes away an important source of fuel for the local people, who then in turn have to cut even more trees down. Now that rising temperatures are leading to a classic vicious circle whereby the number of summer evenings with ”super barbecue weather” are rising, which in turn drives up demand for more charcoal, which leads to more deforestation and so on.”

Has he never gone camping in the forest? I think Georg just needs more getting used to barbecues. Everybody invite Georg to your next barbecue: I’m having one on August 25, and Georg you are invited to come.


Gullible Warming: A Contrived Crisis That Is Too Good To Waste

Whew, it has really been hot lately…along with all those unprecedented droughts and storms! How can there be any lingering doubt about global warming? Right? So isn’t it a really good thing that, as Ryan Lizza reported in a June New Yorker article, “The president has said that the most important policy he could address in his second term of office is climate change”? In other words, this means he will further energize his EPA’s war on fossil energy, and double-down on his “green energy” subsidy agenda. If this doesn’t help to fix the economy, that priority will just have to wait.

Premised upon recent weather in some U.S. regions, the global warming crisis narrative has been driving lots of media traffic. For example, an Investor’s Business Daily Op/Ed piece by Eugene Robinson titled “Feeling the Heat: It’s Too Hot to Be a Global Warming Skeptic” notes that “…the nation’s capital and its suburbs are in post-apocalypse mode. About one-fourth of all households have no electricity, the legacy of an unprecedented [that word again] assault by violent thunderstorms…” He went on to say: ”Yes, it’s always hot here in summer. Yes, we always have thunderstorms-but never like these.”

Robinson offered a sensible disclaimer admitting that no one extreme weather event can be definitively blamed on climate change, while also taking issue with those who dismiss climate change as a “figment of scientist’s imagination, or even as a crypto-socialist one-worldish plot to take away our God-given SUVs” as “the data are beginning to add up.”

Fair enough. I agree that anyone who thinks climate change is illusory probably isn’t intellectually qualified for a license allowing them to drive an SUV, or any other motor vehicle that will outpace a riding lawnmower for that matter. And as for any “crypto-socialist one-worldish plot” to take away our choice to own one, that won’t be necessary. Imposition of the Obama administration’s radical new automotive CAFÉ standards will take care of that right here within our own government, avoiding any need to depend upon the U.N. for this.

But regarding that “data adding up” to support a war against fossil fuels under a man-made climate crisis banner…well, maybe that is something that warrants a bit more attention.

Mr. Robinson supported his reasoning by citing a NOAA statement that “the past winter was the fourth-warmest in the United States since record-keeping began in 1895”, along with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA-GISS) surface temperature reports that indicate “nine out of the warmest 10 years on record have occurred since 2000”.

So to begin, let’s consider the first statement from a global warming perspective (because that’s what “global” really means). That warm 2011/2012 U.S. winter (which accounts for about 1.5% of the Earth’s surface), would certainly have been a very welcome difference from what much of world experienced. A European cold spell killed more than 500. More than 140 perished in the Ukraine, along with hundreds of others in France, Serbia and the Czech Republic. Europe’s 2,860-kilometer Danube River that is crucial for transport, power, industry and fishing froze over, as did nearly all rivers in the Balkans. More than 130 villages in Bulgaria went without electricity.

Closer to those of us in the lower forty-eight, Fairbanks, Alaska reported the coldest January temperatures since 1971, reaching -24º F. The coldest January average temperature there occurred in 1906 (-36.4º F).

Just like its former governor, Alaska has continued to go rogue. After experiencing its record-breaking cold winter, the state is now reported to have one of its coldest Julys, averaging 53 degrees F during the beginning of the month, about 12 degrees below average. The National Weather Service predicts this will soon change. If so, some will undoubtedly point to this as even more evidence of an imminent global warming disaster.

And what about the statement claiming that nine out of ten warmest years occurred since 2000? According to an article posted in the UK’s Daily Mail, recent readings taken from more than 30,000 measuring stations that were quietly released by the U.K.’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit show that world temperatures haven’t warmed over the past 15 years.

Shortly afterwards, a Met spokesman issued a response charging that the article was misleading. While much of the criticism challenged the article’s central premise that changes in solar activity during the next “Cycle 25” will produce a net cooling influence, (contradicting Met’s projections), it also renounced the 15 year lack of warming assertion. After admitting that its future temperature projections are “probabilistic in nature,” and that it will require several decades of data to assess the projections, it said: “However, what is absolutely clear is that we have continued to see a trend [italics added] of warming, with the decade of 2000-2009 being clearly the warmest in the instrumental record going back to 1850.”

But while the Met response refers to a warming “trend”, it should be remembered that the temperature record trend line began at the end of the Little Ice Age. Yup, there has certainly been a warming trend since then. And while the recent decade has been warm, the current “trend” over the past decade (measured in degrees Celsius/decade) is approximately zero. Yes, temperatures have been essentially flat. Measurements for any temperature trend over any “x” number of years depends upon what number you establish for “x”, and the year you begin measuring. It can readily be argued that the Daily Mail article was correct on this matter.

Regarding the possibility that the global climate will soon enter a substantial cooling phase attributable to a weak new solar cycle, this may ultimately prove true also. Many prominent scientists predict that this is likely due to important modulating cloud-forming influences of cosmic rays throughout periods of reduced sunspot activity. More clouds tend to make conditions cooler, while fewer often cause warming.

Met Office projections hold that the greenhouse effects of man-made carbon dioxide are far stronger than the Sun’s influences, and sufficiently so not only to overwhelm potential solar cooling, but to produce net warming. These findings are fiercely disputed by solar experts. They point out that the Met’s assessment is based upon highly theoretical climate models that exaggerate CO2 influence, while failing to account for numerous other important contributing factors.

Judith Curry, a well-known climatologist who chairs the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, finds the Met’s confident determination of there being a “negligible” solar climate impact “difficult to understand”. She has stated that “The responsible thing to do would be to accept the fact that the models may have severe shortcomings when it comes to the influence of the Sun”.

Dr. Curry also notes important contributions of 60-year Pacific and Atlantic Ocean temperature cycles, observing that they have been “insufficiently appreciated in terms of global climate”. When both oceans were cold in the past, such as from 1940 to 1970, the climate cooled. The Pacific “flipped” back from a warm to a cold mode in 2008, and the Atlantic is also thought likely to flip back in the next few years.

Global temperatures have been rising since before the Industrial Revolution could have had any real influence…from the time the Little Ice Age ended in the mid-19th century…and according to NASA-GISS, about 0.8°C (1.5°F) since 1880. About half of all estimated warming since 1900 occurred before the mid-1940s, despite continuously rising CO2 levels since that time.

Yes, let’s realize that climate change is very real, dating back to always. It actually began to occur long before humans invented agriculture, smoke stacks, and gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines. In fact, a recent study conducted by German researchers using tree ring data reveals that 2,000 years ago Romans wore cool togas with good reason. Summer temperatures between 21 to 50 AD were about 1 degree Celsius warmer than now, and they were just as warm during the Medieval period about 1,000 years later.

Lead author Professor Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: “We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.” He notes that while 1 degree Celsius may not seem significant, “their findings are significant with respect to climate policy, as they will influence the way climate changes are seen in context of historical warm periods.”

The study documented temperatures dating back to 138 BC, indicating that the world has been on a “long-term cooling trend” punctuated with a couple of warm spells for two millennia until another warming occurred during the twentieth century. In general, there was a slow cooling of 0.6 degrees Celsius over the earlier period.

As for those “worst time ever” extreme weather conditions that Eugene Robinson referred to, remember that as recently as 1,000 years ago Icelandic Vikings were raising livestock in grasslands on Greenland’s southwestern coast. Then, around 1200, temperatures began to drop, and Norse settlements were abandoned by about 1350. Atlantic pack ice began to grow around 1250, and shortened growing seasons and unreliable weather patterns, including torrential rains in Northern Europe led to the “Great Famine” of 1315-1317.

Temperatures dropped dramatically again in the middle of the 16th century, and although there were notable year-to-year fluctuations, the coldest regime since the last true Ice Age (that so-called “Little Ice Age”) dominated the next hundred and fifty years or more. Food shortages killed millions in Europe between 1690 and 1700, followed by more famines in 1725 and 1816. The end of this time witnessed brutal winter temperatures suffered by Washington’s troops at Valley Forge in 1776, and Napoleon’s bitterly cold retreat from Russia in 1812.

Although temperatures and weather conditions have been generally mild over about the past 150 years, we should remember that significant fluctuations are normal. In fact, the past century has witnessed at most, two (and very possibly only one) periods of warming. The first definite warming period occurred between 1900 and 1945. Since CO2 levels were relatively low then compared with now, and didn’t change much, they couldn’t have been the cause before 1950. Since this apparently resulted from natural influences, then why is more recent warming being attributed to increased atmospheric CO2 emissions?

A recent reanalysis of U.S. temperature trends reported at National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration surface stations indicates that there has been only about half as much warming over the past 30 years as was previously believed (+0.155C/decade vs. +0.309C/decade). This spurious doubling of estimates is attributed to serious miss-location problems at many NOAA recording sites, along with erroneous post-measurement data adjustments which exaggerated temperatures upwards between 1979 and 2008. The new analysis conducted by Anthony Watts (California), Evan Jones (New York), Stephen McIntyre (Toronto), and John Christy (Department of Atmospheric Science, U. of Alabama), applied a more advanced station measurement rating method which revealed that “station siting does indeed have a significant effect on [recorded] temperature trends.”

Regarding global temperatures, while some measurements suggest some warming between 1975 and 1998, a strong Pacific Ocean El Niño year, some scientists seriously question the existence of solid evidence of that increase. (A future article will be devoted exclusively to this important subject.)

Yet even if that 1975-1998 warming occurred, U.K. Hadley Center and U.S. NOAA radiosonde (balloon) instrument analyses fail to show any evidence, whatsoever, of a human CO2 emission-influenced warming telltale “signature” in the upper troposphere over the equator as predicted by all U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) general circulation models.

Regarding false alarm linking recent global warming to more extreme weather conditions, CBS News, CNN, the Christian Sciences Monitor, and even recently covered a NOAA press release stating that “La Niña -related heat waves, like experienced in Texas in 2011, are now 20 times more likely to occur during a La Niña today than La Niña fifty years ago.” Texas State Climatologist and Texas A&M Professor, John Nielsen-Gammon, discusses the indefensibility of this seriously hyped pronouncement in his July 20 Climate Abyss blog. While he notes that, based upon simplistic modeling assumptions, the “20 times more likely” prediction goes too far, he agrees with report conclusions that La Niña heat waves are “distinctly more probable” today, with global warming but one contributing factor among others.

There is little dispute that severe droughts experienced in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles have been caused primarily by natural Pacific Ocean equatorial La Niña sea surface temperature cooling that shifted the jet stream more northward than usual. This shift created a stronger jet stream aimed towards the northwest part of the U.S., bringing drier and warmer conditions across the southern and eastern portion of the country.

It appears that the U.S. really is in store for some more extreme weather. Evelyn Browning-Garriss, owner and author of the monthly Browning Newsletter climate publication, predicts this will result due to a transition from current cooler than normal La Niña ocean conditions to developing hotter than normal El Niño temperatures.

Many natural factors are known to contribute to these longer-term climate and short-term weather changes, although even the most sophisticated climate models and theories they are based on cannot predict the timing, scale (either up or down), or future impacts…much less the marginal contributions of CO2, a trace atmospheric “greenhouse gas” which has been branded as a primary culprit and endangering “pollutant”.

And if you’re really worried about catastrophic global warming, perhaps take cheer that it isn’t likely to last very long. Consider that we are currently about 10,000 years into a typical 12,000 to 18,000 year-long interglacial period. Assuming that climate history over the past 400,000 years continues to repeat its pattern with the nearly electrocardiogram regularity, maybe we should think about enjoying this brief intermission before the next life-unfriendly Ice Age covers much of the Northern Hemisphere with glaciers up to miles thick for the next 90,000 years.

So if human carbon dioxide emissions actually do make any difference, are you feeling any better about those SUVs and coal plants now?



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


21 August, 2012

Ho Hum! The ocean "acidification" scare again

The Warmist claim below -- from an alleged "Science" magazine -- that CO2 Pollution could erase Coral Reefs ignores the Warmists' own theory that CO2 causes warming! A warmer ocean would hold LESS CO2 and there would therefore be LESS "acidification"! Basic physics indeed. You can demonstrate it in a school science lab using nothing more than two cans of Coke, one warm and one cold.

It's hard to get more more dishonest or impervious to facts than these ocean acidifiers but for what it is worth, there are some additional facts on their nonsense following the excerpt below

Coral reefs, nature’s most lively architecture, could come tumbling down and it could take millions of years for them to return, if carbon dioxide emissions aren’t cut quickly, scientists warned today.

The world’s oceans have absorbed 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions produced by humans in the industrial age, but that buffering is changing the chemistry of the oceans. Already, the acidity of ocean waters, which are generally basic, has shifted about 0.1 on the pH scale, or 10 percent, since pre-industrial times, and could get far more acidic by mid-century.

In a editorial in the journal Science, the researchers also noted that unlike CO2?s climate impacts, which vary between models to some extent, ocean acidification is based on basic chemistry and is nearly sure to occur if we continue burning fossil fuels, with disastrous consequences for some marine life.

"What we’re doing in the next decade could mean that for the next two million years, there are no coral reefs in the ocean," said Ken Caldeira, a Stanford professor, and recent Wired profilee.

While most of the attention on the impacts of carbon dioxide emissions has focused on its ability to act as a greenhouse gas, that warms the earth’s climate, the changes CO2 emissions will bring to the world’s oceans are receiving increasing attention. The more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more of it that dissolves into surface ocean water. That small chemistry change could cause huge changes in marine biology.

Marine organisms, like coral, that build skeletons out of calcium could find themselves unable to do so. If current emissions trends continue over the next decade, the world’s marine creatures will be dealing with what’s essentially an alien ocean. The last time ocean conditions like those predicted for mid-century existed was long before humans walked the earth.


Coral reef history

Corals evolved during the Cambrian Era, when CO2 levels were eight to twenty times higher than today. The great coral reefs of the Permian era formed when CO2 was as high as 3,000 ppm CO2.

Obviously corals like high levels of CO2.


Species extinction exaggerated

Notes that: "The tropics are home to the greatest biodiversity on earth". What does that say about the effects of warming? Note that the only surviving large lizards (the Komodo dragon) are found in the tropics -- in Indonesia

A new paper finds computer models of extinction risk failed to consider that tropical species can adapt to climate change and that the models have therefore exaggerated extinction risks.

Alarmists, such as James Hansen, have claimed that 21-52% of species could be extinct due to global warming, but this new paper suggests computer models have exaggerated risks of extinction by not considering species adaptation.

In the face of a changing climate many species must adapt or perish. Ecologists studying evolutionary responses to climate change forecast that cold-blooded tropical species are not as vulnerable to extinction as previously thought. The study, published in the British Ecological Society's Functional Ecology, considers how fast species can evolve and adapt to compensate for a rise in temperature.

The research, carried out at the University of Zurich, was led by Dr Richard Walters, now at Reading University, alongside David Berger now at Uppsala University and Wolf Blanckenhorn, Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Zurich.

"Forecasting the fate of any species is difficult, but it is essential for conserving biodiversity and managing natural resources," said lead author Dr Walters.

"It is believed that climate change poses a greater risk to tropical cold-blooded organisms (ectotherms), than temperate or polar species. However, as potential adaptation to climate change has not been considered in previous extinction models we tested this theory with a model forecasting evolutionary responses."

Ectotherms, such as lizards and insects, have evolved a specialist physiology to flourish in a stable tropical environment. Unlike species which live in varied habitats tropical species operate within a narrow range of temperatures, leading to increased dangers if those temperatures change.

"When its environment changes an organism can respond by moving away, adapting its physiology over time or, over generations, evolving," said Walters. "The first two responses are easy to identify, but a species' ability to adapt quick enough to respond to climate change is an important and unresolved question for ecologists."

The team explored the idea that there are also evolutionary advantages for species adapted to warmer environments. The 'hotter is better' theory suggests that species which live in high temperatures will have higher fitness, resulting from a shorter generation time. This may allow them to evolve relatively quicker than species in temperate environments.

The team sought to directly compare the increased risk of extinction associated with lower genetic variance, owing to temperature specialisation, with the lowered risk of extinction associated with a shorter generation time.

"Our model shows that the evolutionary advantage of a shorter generation time should compensate species which are adapted to narrow temperature ranges," said Walters. "We forecast that the relative risk of extinction is likely to be lower for tropical species than temperate ones."

"The tropics are home to the greatest biodiversity on earth, so it imperative that the risk of extinction caused by climate change is understood," concluded Walters. "While many questions remain, our theoretical predictions suggest tropical species may not be as vulnerable to climate warming as previously thought."


Climate corruption in Britain

A former Tory Minister set to provide the Government with crucial advice on climate change is at the centre of a new conflict-of-interest row after it was revealed he is chairman of a consortium bidding to build one of the world’s biggest offshore windfarms.

John Selwyn Gummer, who was Environment Secretary under John Major and Agriculture Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s Government, is the newly designated chairman of the powerful Committee on Climate Change (CCC). It was set up to provide David Cameron with independent advice on energy policy and climate change.

But a Mail on Sunday investigation has learned the former MP – who became Lord Deben in 2010 – is also chairman of Forewind, a consortium trying to build thousands of turbines in the North Sea’s Dogger Bank.

The revelation follows the news that Tory MP Tim Yeo earns almost £140,000 a year from directorships with ‘green’ energy companies. He holds the posts despite chairing the influential Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, which is supposed to take a neutral view of renewable energy policy. Lord Deben was named by Mr Cameron last month as his preferred candidate to be the new CCC chairman. The body recommends targets for reducing carbon- dioxide emissions and subsidies for the ‘renewable’ energy industry.

Lord Deben already chairs Sancroft, a lobbying and consultancy firm based in Queen Anne’s Gate, Westminster. One of its specialities is advising businesses on how to make money from policies enacted to combat global warming.

Its website states: ‘Climate change will be the most disruptive influence on business. The risks it poses are immense; the potential rewards are considerable ... We show our clients how to ... make the most of quickly evolving market opportunities.’

Last night, Lord Deben insisted there was no conflict of interest. His spokeswoman said: ‘The appointment will be the subject of a parliamentary pre-appointment scrutiny hearing in September.

‘Lord Deben has provided the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Cabinet Office with a full list of his interests. If appointed, Lord Deben will put in place arrangements to avoid a conflict of interest.’ Asked whether that meant he would resign from his directorships, she said she could not comment.

The logo of the CCC states that its purpose is to act as ‘independent advisers to the UK Government on tackling and preparing for climate change’. This much-vaunted independence is the main reason its recommendations are so influential in Whitehall.

Welcoming Lord Deben’s nomination, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: ‘The CCC plays a critical role in advising the Government on the direction and progress of its energy and climate-change policies.’

The CCC has championed subsidies for wind and other renewable energy sources, stating that it should be possible for renewables to account for 45 per cent of power generation by 2030, compared with three per cent now.

Subsidies and ‘green’ levies mean domestic consumers pay on average about £100 extra a year for their energy, a figure set to increase as Britain seeks to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Forewind is a consortium comprising the German renewable energy firm RWE, Norwegian company Statkraft, the multinational Statoil and UK-based energy firm SSE. If its Dogger Bank plans come to fruition, the wind turbine array there will cost billions of pounds.

The Mail on Sunday has established that the independence of at least three of the CCC’s six other members is also open to question.

Professor Samuel Fankhauser, an academic at the London School of Economics branch of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, is a director of Vivid Economics, a consultancy firm offering commercial advice on the effects of climate policies.

A spokesman for Prof Fankhauser refused to disclose how much he is paid by Vivid, adding that his role was ‘entirely in line with Government rules’ and there were ‘good safeguards in place to manage any possible conflicts of interest that may arise during the work of the CCC’.

The Grantham Institute is funded by Jeremy Grantham, a British-born American billionaire who runs the £100?billion hedge fund GMO. He also funds green groups such as WWF, and has strongly supported measures also advocated by the CCC, such as carbon trading.

A CCC spokeswoman said that any possible conflicts of interest would be considered by the DECC. A Department spokesman added: ‘Lord Deben has made a full declaration of his interests to the DECC and the Cabinet Office. The appointment is now subject to scrutiny by the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee.’

The committee’s chairman, Mr Yeo, holds paid directorships with AFC Energy, which makes fuel cells, the biofuels company TMO Renewables, and ITI Energy, which converts waste into biofuel. Asked whether he was the best person to judge whether Lord Deben had inappropriate conflicts of interest, he said only that the appointment would be ‘considered’ by his committee. As to his own interests, he said: ‘They were all disclosed when I was elected chairman.’

However, senior Conservative MP David Davis said last night: ‘Any public body set up to provide independent policy advice should be absolutely clear of any possible commercial interest in that policy. Ed Davey should look at the composition of the committee again and, if not, he should cease to claim it is independent.’


Big drop in U.S. CO2 emissions, thanks to gas from fracking

But Greenies hate fracking. There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

Carbon emissions in the U.S. have hit a 20-year low due to a supposedly environmentally unfriendly drilling technique that has created an abundance of cheap natural gas. The free market, it seems, does it better than the EPA.

Environmentalists find themselves between shale rock and a hard place after a little noticed technical report documented how the natural gas boom caused by the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has actually helped the environment in a major way while also creating jobs and economic growth.

In the report, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said that energy-related U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. EIA estimates that full-year emissions will be the lowest since at least 1995.

The untold story is that this has been achieved by the free market and private-sector technology, not government mandates.

Fracking is a process involving the high-pressure injection of fluids, mainly water with a few chemical additives, to fracture the porous shale rock found in huge formations in the Northeast and Rocky Mountain West. This allows the release and extraction of the oil and gas trapped inside the rock.

Environmentalists contend, without evidence, that these chemical additives will and have contaminated groundwater supplies. The mixture used to fracture shale is in fact a benign blend of 90% water, 9.5% sand and 0.5% chemicals such as the sodium chloride of table salt and the citric acid of the orange juice you had for breakfast. Shale formations in which fracking is employed are thousands of feet deep. Drinking water aquifers are generally only a hundred feet deep. There's a lot of solid rock between them.

Conservation efforts, the laggard economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline. But the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said. This due to the huge new supplies opened up on state and private lands by fracking.

Shale gas drilling in places like Northeast's Marcellus Shale and Eagle Ford Shale in Texas has driven the wholesale price of natural gas from $7 or $8 per unit to $3 in four years, making it cheaper to burn than coal for a given amount of energy produced.

Coal this year will account for about 37% of the nation's electricity, natural gas 30% and nuclear about 19%. Meanwhile, the much-touted wind supplied less than 3% of the nation's electricity in 2011, according to EIA data, and solar power far less.


Apocalypse not

Sometimes the news is that something was not newsworthy. The United Nation's Rio+20 conference -- 50,000 participants from 188 nations -- occurred in June, without consequences. A generation has passed since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, which begat other conferences and protocols (e.g., Kyoto). And, by now, apocalypse fatigue -- boredom from being repeatedly told the end is nigh.

This began two generations ago, in 1972, when we were warned (by computer models developed at MIT) that we were doomed. We were supposed to be pretty much extinct by now, or at least miserable. We are neither. So, what when wrong?

That year begat "The Limits to Growth," a book from the Club of Rome, which called itself "a project on the predicament of mankind." It sold 12 million copies, staggered The New York Times ("one of the most important documents of our age") and argued that economic growth was doomed by intractable scarcities. Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish academic and "skeptical environmentalist," writing in Foreign Affairs, says it "helped send the world down a path of worrying obsessively about misguided remedies for minor problems while ignoring much greater concerns," such as poverty, which only economic growth can ameliorate.

MIT's models foresaw the collapse of civilization because of "nonrenewable resource depletion" and population growth. "In an age more innocent of and reverential toward computers," Lomborg writes, "the reams of cool printouts gave the book's argument an air of scientific authority and inevitability" that "seemed to banish any possibility of disagreement." Then -- as now, regarding climate change -- respect for science was said to require reverential suspension of skepticism about scientific hypotheses. Time magazine's story about "The Limits to Growth" exemplified the media's frisson of hysteria:

"The furnaces of Pittsburgh are cold; the assembly lines of Detroit are still. In Los Angeles, a few gaunt survivors of a plague desperately till freeway center strips . . . Fantastic? No, only grim inevitability if society continues its present dedication to growth and 'progress.'"

The modelers examined 19 commodities and said 12 would be gone long before now -- aluminum, copper, gold, lead, mercury, molybdenum, natural gas, oil, silver, tin, tungsten and zinc. Lomborg says:

"Technological innovations have replaced mercury in batteries, dental fillings and thermometers, mercury consumption is down 98 percent and its price was down 90 percent by 2000. Since 1970, when gold reserves were estimated at 10,980 tons, 81,410 tons have been mined and estimated reserves are 51,000 tons. Since 1970, when known reserves of copper were 280 million tons, about 400 million tons have been produced globally and reserves are estimated at almost 700 million tons. Aluminum consumption has increased 16-fold since 1950, the world has consumed four times the 1950 known reserves, and known reserves could sustain current consumption for 177 years. Potential U.S. gas resources have doubled in the last six years. And so on."

The modelers missed something -- human ingenuity in discovering, extracting and innovating. Which did not just appear after 1972.

Aluminum, Lomborg writes, is one of earth's most common metals. But until the 1886 invention of the Hall-Heroult process, it was so difficult and expensive to extract that "Napoleon III had bars of aluminum exhibited alongside the French crown jewels, and he gave his honored guests aluminum forks and spoons while lesser visitors had to make do with gold utensils."

Forty years after "The Limits to Growth" imparted momentum to environmentalism, that impulse now is often reduced to children indoctrinated to "reduce, reuse, and recycle." Lomborg calls recycling "a feel-good gesture that provides little environmental benefit at a significant cost." He says "we pay tribute to the pagan god of token environmentalism by spending countless hours sorting, storing and collecting used paper, which, when combined with government subsidies, yields slightly lower-quality paper in order to secure a resource" -- forests -- "that was never threatened in the first place."

In 1980, economist Julian Simon made a wager in the form of a complex futures contract. He bet Paul Ehrlich (whose 1968 book "The Population Bomb" predicted "hundreds of millions of people" would starve to death in the 1970s as population growth swamped agricultural production) that by 1990 the price of any five commodities Ehrlich and his advisers picked would be lower than in 1980. Ehrlich's group picked five metals. All were cheaper in 1990.

The bet cost Ehrlich $576.07. But that year he was awarded a $345,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant and half of the $240,000 Crafoord Prize for ecological virtue. One of Ehrlich's advisers, John Holdren, is Barack Obama's science adviser.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


20 August, 2012

Attention-seeking doctor ignores reality

If warmth is so bad for your health, how come the uptick in hospital admissions is in winter, not summer? What a pathetic mess of pumped-up ego she is!

A doctor riding a bicycle across the United States will stop in Rochester on Saturday to talk about the health effects of climate change.

Dr. Wendy Ring, a 56-year-old family physician, is riding a bicycle across the country this summer to talk to people about the health effects of climate change and the need to speed transition to renewable energy. She is speaking at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rochester, 1727 Walden Lane S.W.

At 2 p.m., she will meet with some riders in Pine Island and ride into Rochester, holding a press conference later in the afternoon.

Ring says climate change is already affecting health in the United States, resulting in thousands of emergency-room visits, hospitalizations and deaths from a variety of respiratory, cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

She is a graduate of Yale and Columbia universities and holds a PhD in medicine and master's in public health. Formerly the medical director of an innovative mobile clinic in rural northern California, she has been recognized by the California state Senate and Assembly, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association for her contributions to health care for the under-served.


Financial newspaper Talks Openly About “Germany’s Dirty Wind Energy Secret”

Horst von Buttlar writes at the online Financial Times Deutschland a piece called: "Wind Energy: The Dirty Secret of the Energy Transformation".

In the aftermath of Fukushima and Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, Germany rushed madly, in a state of collective hysteria, to alternative energies, ignoring all warnings that it would cost a bundle and wouldn’t work. Now with the big bills rolling in, the country is beginning to show some signs of returning to a little sanity.

Von Buttlar in the Financial Times begins his piece: "Slowly it is beginning to dawn: The energy transformation is not only stalling, but it is also is exposing the well-hidden secret that it has long been a huge redistribution program from the bottom up.”

He writes that it’s about large landowners and farmers parking Ferraris between their tractors, or a famous law firm investing an 8-digit sum in a solar park with the state guaranteeing a handsome profit. It’s about a Bavarian farmer with hundreds of solar panels on his barn’s roof laughing his way to the bank: “That’s 20,000 euros per month.”

The German socialist and green parties used to be about protecting the little guy, making sure that their money and assets don’t get transferred from the bottom to the top. Today, however, they’re making sure that it does get transferred to the top! It just happens many Greens and socialist honchos are at the top reaping the benefits of political sellout.

Slowly but surely, it is all coming out. Von Buttlar writes: " … a few days ago the Consumer Protection Agency complained about high electricity costs: In 2007 every household paid on average 35 euros for alternative energies. Beginning in 2013, when the share in the costs rises from 3.5 cents to 5 cents, that number will jump to 185 euros.”

Von Buttlar reminds us that many Germans still accept this and view it as a “good cause” – a position he calls naive" "We should at least be honest – these are times when armies of corporate representatives and “advisers” from Enercon, Repower, or the numerous obscure solar companies are invading the countryside. It is not about a lofty objective or a good cause. That’s the story that gets told at town meetings. No, it’s about money. More precisely said: it’s about lots of money for a very few – money that is being divided up between plant operators, investors, leasing companies and manufacturers. 16.4 billion euros was the energy feed-in allocation in 2011. In the coming year it is going to be 20 billion.”

This is the reality that I hope my friends in Vermont are going to wake the hell up to – soon. The whole thing is a financial scam. And it is not going to have a bit of impact on the weather.

Not only is it going to cost you lots of money, but, as you are now painfully witnessing in Vermont, it is wreaking environmental damage of catastrophic dimensions. Your mountains and landscape are being devoured by industry. How do you like the face of climate protection now?

Rich landowners, says von Buttlar, are leasing their land to windpark operators for 2000 to 10,000 euros an acre. Farmers can now kick back and do nothing but watch the money roll in.

The alternative energy situation in Germany has skidded so much out of control that even one of the fathers of the environmental movement has switched sides. Enoch zu Guttenberg, symphony conductor and co-founder of leading environmental activist group BUND, left the group in protest in May. Von Buttlar writes: "‘BUND appears to have sold out’, and he no longer wanted to crane his hands ‘near every money barrel,’ that corrupts. ‘Unfortunately we are no longer talking about the responsible future of energy management in Germany,’ zu Guttenberg writes. “We are talking about making a really fast buck’.”

Hopefully Germany’s disastrous energy model will act to deter others from following on the same path, which clearly Vermont has already embarked on in a radical way. Von Buttlar concludes his Financial Times article: "The next time you see a wind turbine, don’t think about whether it is attractive or ugly, or whether it is clean or polluting. Just think: Great! Now there’s sombody that has gotten seriously rich!“

And also ask: At who’s expense?


Third Largest Power Company in the World is the Third Largest Recipient of Risky Loans

Through this special series on green-energy crony-corruption, we’ve been highlighting specific examples of green-energy loan guarantees and grants. What connects each of these cases is that they received fast-tracked approval from the Department of Interior (DOI) for their projects. Of course, they also have many other dots that connect, such as key players with White House visits, raising funds for Democratic campaigns, and serving within government agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE) or as an appointed member to President Obama’s Job’s Council.

Now we come to the last of our “special seven” series. Like those before it, it contains many inside players and funding from various “stimulus” government programs. While Lewis Hay (the CEO of NextEra Energy) with his White House involvement and friendship with former Florida Governor Charlie Crist make for some juicy details in the NextEra story, we’ll begin with a brief background that will help put this next piece of the green-energy crony-corruption scandal in perspective.

NextEra Energy, Inc. is one of the oldest, third largest, and arguably one of the most solid power companies in the world, with “2011 revenues [that] totaled more than $15.3 billion.” It is estimated by Forbes, that CEO “Hay earns nearly $10 million in total compensation from NextEra.”

NextEra Energy Inc. has two primary subsidiaries:

Florida Power & Light is the third largest electricity producer in the US (about which a September 2009 report states: “it's a political dynamo, making millions in political contributions and lobbying assiduously to achieve its goals”).

NextEra Energy Resources is the largest generator of energy from sun and wind resources in North America. The company also has the third largest fleet (8) of nuclear powered electricity generating plants in the United States.

With its wealth and widespread influence, the DOE gave this huge energy conglomerate nearly $2 billion of taxpayer money, which includes the two risky projects listed below, plus hundreds of millions more in various stimulus grants.

Desert Sunlight: $1.2 billion

In September 2011, the DOE approved a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for the junk-rated Desert Sunlight project in California. A day after the loan was approved, First Solar, the project developer/owner sold Desert Sunlight to NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, the competitive energy subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc. and GE Energy Financial Services. Both CEO's are on President Obama's Job Council: Lewis Hay of NextEra Energy and Jeffrey Immelt of GE. (Immelt is another top Obama donor, donating $529,855 to his 2008 campaign. Note: GE has raked in more than $3 billion of stimulus money, and counting.)

Genesis Solar Project: $681.6 million

But as we reported in the beginning of this series, the Desert Sunlight Project is not the only large DOE “risky” loan that NextEra secured. NextEra Energy Resources also received $681.6 million from the DOE for its Genesis Solar project in Blythe, California. This was one of the few DOE 1705 loans that were not considered junk rated, as S&P placed it at a “lower medium grade.”


Remember that the common denominator of these “special seven” projects was a “fast-tracked DOI approval?” The policy has come back to bite the projects.

According to the Los Angeles Times (LAT), “The $1-billion Genesis Solar Energy Project has been expedited by state and federal regulatory agencies that are eager to demonstrate that the nation can build solar plants quickly to ease dependence on fossil fuels and curb global warming. Instead, the project is providing a cautionary example of how the rush to harness solar power in the desert can go wrong—possibly costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and dealing an embarrassing blow to the Obama administration's solar initiative.”

The problem is the “expedited” process may endanger the whole project. The House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform’s March 20, 2012 report says, “To expedite site approval, NextEra opted for a less thorough process.” As a result, the site “encroached on the habitat of the endangered kit foxes.” NextEra had to move the foxes prior to grading the site. “Ultimately, seven foxes died from NextEra’s removal process.”

Additionally, there have been concerns of desert tortoises and a “prehistoric human settlement.”

But warring factions within the environmental movement also plague the NextEra Genesis Solar project.


Coming Soon: Higher Energy Prices, Shortages

Despite their natural abundance

“Once real numbers have come out about renewable energy costs, people are having second thoughts,” reported Maureen Masten, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources and Senior Advisor on Energy to Governor Bob McDonnell, VA, while addressing his “all of the above energy” strategy to meet the state’s energy needs.

The real costs of renewable energy are coming out—both in dollars and daily impacts. After years of hearing about “free” energy from the sun and wind, people are discovering that they’ve been lied to.

On Tuesday, August 14, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) approved a new renewable energy rate rider that will allow the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) to start recovering a portion of its recent development costs for building five solar facilities around the state, a pilot solar facility with battery storage, and wind resource procurements. The renewable rider could be on ratepayers' bills by the end of the month—“depending on when the commission publishes its final order,” said PNM spokeswoman Susan Spooner.

The rate rider currently represents about a $1.34 increase for an average residence using 600 kilowatt hours of electricity per month—or a little more than $16 per year. This increase seems miniscule until you realize that this is only a small part of increases to come. PNM needs to recover $18.29 million in renewable expenditures in 2012 and the rate rider only addresses monies spent in the last four to five months. The remaining expense will be carried into 2013.

Like more than half of the states in the US, New Mexico has a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that mandates public utilities have set percentages of their electricity from renewable sources. In New Mexico the mandate is 10 percent this year, 15 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. Most states—with the exception of California (which is 33 percent by 2020)—have similar benchmarks. To meet the mandates, PNM will need considerably more renewable energy with dramatically more expense—all of which ultimately gets passed on to the customer. PNM acknowledges that the rider will increase next year and predicts the total cost recovery for 2013 to be about $23 million. By 2020, based on the current numbers of approximately $20 million a year invested, resulting in a $24 a year increase, consumers’ bills will go up about $200 a year just for the additional cost of inefficient renewable energy.

Had the PRC not approved the special rate rider, costs would be even higher. Typically rate increases are only approved at periodic rate case hearings, usually held every few years. The system of only allowing rate increases after a lengthy hearing, keeps the costs hidden from the consumer for longer but increases costs to the utility and, ultimately, the consumer, due to interest charges on the borrowed money. PNM believes the rider will allow for more “timely recovery of costs,” resulting in a $2.7 million savings.

Environmental groups, who’ve been pushing for the renewable energy increases, opposed the special renewable rate rider and have threatened a potential appeal of the PRC’s decision. It is hard to tout “free” energy when there is a special line on the utility bill that clearly points out the new charge for renewables.

So, renewable electricity is hardly free. It also isn’t there when you need it—like in the predictable summer heat of California.

To meet their 33 percent renewable mandate, California’s utility companies, like New Mexico, have been installing commercial renewable electricity facilities—with wind capable of providing about 6 percent, and solar 2 percent, of the state’s electric demand. But in the summer heat, the wind doesn’t blow much and the solar capacity drops by about 50 percent when the demand is the highest.

Despite increasing renewable capacity and an exodus of the population, California has been facing threats of rolling brown/blackouts due to potential shortages. TV and radio ads blanket the air waves begging consumers to limit electricity usage by setting their air conditioners at 78 degrees and using household appliances only after 6PM. “Flex Alerts” have been issued stating: “conservation remains critical.” “Consumers are urged to reduce energy use,” “California ISO balances high demand for electricity with tight power supplies” and “maintain grid reliability.”

Even with expedited permitting, California cannot build renewable electricity generation fast enough. Environmentalists block construction due to species habitat, such as that of the desert tortoise or the kit fox. If they oppose renewable energy construction, you can imagine the vitriol they extend toward coal, natural gas, and nuclear. There is a big push to shut down nuclear power plants and new natural-gas plants, which are ideal for meeting the needs of “peak demand,”are fought by the very same groups that are pushing electric cars.

San Diego-based, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock observed: “Right at the moment in California, building new electricity generating power plants of any kind is politically taboo. Electricity itself is becoming politically taboo.”

Texas has been faced with both increasing costs and fears of shortages. “Concerned about adequate electricity supplies,” the Texas Public Utility Commission recently voted to allow electricity generators to charge up to 50 percent more for wholesale power. The increase is to encourage the building of new power plants in the state with the highest capacity in the country for wind electricity generation.

Apparently new electricity-generating power plants are politically taboo in Texas, too—at least within the environmental community. Instead of encouraging new power plants to be built, Ken Kramer, the Texas head of the Sierra Club, said, “A better idea would be to encourage more energy-saving programs”—perhaps like setting the thermostat to 78 degrees and not turning on appliances until after 6PM.

When will Americans revolt over being forced to use less while paying more?

We know that high energy prices are just the beginning of inflation that raises the cost of everything from food to clothing to manufactured goods. When the cost of manufacturing goes up, industry moves to countries with lower-priced energy, cheaper labor, and more reasonable regulations. Jobs go overseas and we import more. The trade deficit grows, and America is less competitive.

The higher electricity costs are 100 percent due to government regulation and legislation that are unreasonably crushing American businesses and ratepayers—much like the pressure England imposed on the American colonies that launched the American Revolution.

Paul Revere alerted the early settlers—“the Red Coats are coming, the Red Coats are coming”—which brought people into the town square where they joined forces and rallied together. Their cooperative effort was so effective that those early Americans made it so painful for the Red Coats that they abandoned their objective.

People who hear me speak often describe me as the Ann Coulter of energy. Due to the childhood nickname of “Bunny,” my family refers to me as the Energizer Bunny. But today, I feel like the Paul Revere of energy: “Higher energy prices are coming. Energy shortages are coming.”

What remains to be seen is how the citizens of America will respond. Will we gather in the figurative town square and join forces, making it too painful for the use-less, pay-more agenda to continue? Will we force state legislators to abandon the RPS? Will we rally together in opposition to the EPA’s cost-increasing regulations? Will we turn out a president who is more concerned with lining his cronies' pockets than doing what is best for Americans?

Unless the publicly-inflicted pain forces the abandonment of the objective, “Higher energy prices are coming. Energy shortages are coming.”


Whatever Happened to Peak Oil?

Why are peak oil-ers like Jehovah’s Witnesses? Answer: When the definitive JW prediction of the ‘Day of Wrath’ failed in 1914, they did what false prophets have done in every generation: shifted the goalposts (to 1975 in the case of JW’s—and wrong again). It’s what false prophets do to save face, enabling them to keep fleecing the inherently gullible. Peak-oilers do likewise.

Having written their headline-grabbing, money-making blockbusters predicting the imminent collapse of an oil-driven industrial world, peak-oilers like to maintain a ‘fluid’ approach to their predictions. In the case of oil, however, that’s becoming a tougher proposition, as their ignorance of energy, economics and the sheer ingenuity of man is increasingly revealed in the looming global oil boom.

The ‘new Middle East’

When John Fogerty sang about coming home to Green River, the incentive was hardly a 200 year supply of oil. But that’s the reality of the world’s largest shale oil—more properly, deposit at the Green River Formation (GRF). The USGS estimates the GRF holds 3 trillion barrels of oil, around half of which is deemed recoverable. That’s equivalent to the total of the world’s proven oil reserves.

At current levels of US consumption—19.5 million barrels per day (bpd)—Green River on its own could supply domestic US needs for the next 200 years. Then there are the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale plays. The former alone is on a par with big Persian Gulf producing countries. Eagle Ford may even match the hydrocarbon endowment of the Bakken/Three Forks play in North Dakota and Montana. To date, shale or tight oil has added about 700,000 bpd to US oil production.

No wonder North America is being talked about in oil terms as ‘the new Middle East’. But the Bakken and Eagle Ford plays aside, there are a further 18 plays with plenty of energy potential across the United States. And I haven’t even touched on the granddaddy of North American oil plays: Canada’s huge Athabasca oil sands development. Just for good measure, a report by Citigroup analysts estimates that America’s “reindustrialization”, driven by its conventional energy (oil and gas) sector, could see the creation of a whopping 3.6 million new jobs and add a full 3 percent to national GDP.

Deepwater and beyond

A USGS report of 171 global regions in 2012 further estimates that the world’s undiscovered conventional and technically recoverable oil resources, much of it in deepwater, stands at 565 billion barrels of oil (BBO). That’s a figure that only represents known conventional resources. But it pales in significance when unconventional resources, such as heavy oil, oil sands and shale oil, are taken into consideration. As the USGS reports, the mean estimate for recoverable heavy oil from the Orinoco Oil Belt in Venezuela alone stands at a mammoth 513 BBO. The shale oil potential of Russia’s Bazhenov Formation in Western Siberia may well prove to be 80 times larger than America’s Bakken Formation. At present six of the world’s largest oil fields in Ghana, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Brazil and Venezuela (the Orinoco Field) all still await development—the last directly due directly to President Chavez’s anti-West politics.

A recent study by Leonardo Maugeri, a former senior executive with Italian giant ENI, confirms the global prognosis. Such is the positive nature of exploration, the impact of new technologies and the sheer weight of finds and prospective new resources, Maugeri states: “Contrary to what most people believe, oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption. This could lead to a glut of overproduction and a steep dip in oil prices.” Maugeri further suggests that “capacity exists to increase the world’s 2011 production of 93 million barrels a day by as much as half, hitting, by 2020, around 111 million barrels a day—and rising.

You might have thought: great news for those around the world being forced into increasingly fuel poverty through having to pay for national green taxes to subsidize expensive, poor-generation, renewable projects. Not so it seems for social engineers like leading eco-activist and erstwhile Brit columnist, George Monbiot or ‘Moonbat’ to his critics. Newly convinced by Maugeri’s study, and already having recanted his views on nuclear power, Monbiot has now recanted also his alarmist views on peak oil, claiming “the facts have changed”. (Actually George they haven’t, rather you’ve just become acquainted with them.)

For the naive Monbiot, as for all peak-oiler scaremongers, rising oil and energy prices provided proof positive that oil scarcity was just around the corner, a fact, they said, presaging the end of industrial civilization as we know it. This was supposed to be the key ‘frightner’ for our technology-loving society to agree to subsidize ridiculously expensive, poor-production, renewable energy. What the Guardian’s Moonbat and his colleagues failed to understand, however, is a basic economic fact of energy life: high prices are also the market’s way of incentivizing new investment and greater human ingenuity. Necessity being the mother of invention, industry entrepreneurs duly came up with the goods, including the energy game-changer of the hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits. Once again, the ‘end-is-nigh-ists’ like all false prophets, shifted the prophetic goalposts. Instead of peak oil presaging social “disaster”, now the lack of a prospective peak for oil production quickly became the disaster.
“Peak idiocy”

So where did it all go wrong for peak-oil alarmists? Interestingly, for better ‘experts’ than Monbiot, it was their abject failure to understand either energy or the economics of energy. A double failure that led inexorably into a state which economist Mike Munger rightly terms: “peak idiocy”. Munger’s thesis bears repeating:
“Of all the idiotic things people believe, the whole “peak oil” thing has to be right up there. It is literally impossible for us to run out of oil. We have never run out of anything. And we never will.

If we did start to use up the oil we have ... three things would happen.

1. Prices would rise, causing people to cut back on use. More fuel efficient cars, better insulation on houses, etc. Quantity supplied goes up.

2. Prices would rise, causing people to look for more. And they would find more oil, and more ways to get at it. Quantity demanded goes down.

3. Prices of oil would rise, making the search for substitutes more profitable. At that point alternative fuels and energy sources would be economical, and would not require government subsidies, because they would pay for themselves. The supply curve for substitutes shifts downward and to the right.

Well put and accurate. And precisely the argument posited in Huber and Mill’s seminal book, The Bottomless Well, which states: “Energy supplies are—for all practical purposes—infinite”. So why don’t more allegedly informed pundits grasp the basic economics of energy? In a word: ideology. In this particular case, the ideology of the leftwing social engineer prepared to politicize any issue for their personal ‘higher’ purpose.

“The facts” were widely known well before the likes of George Monbiot and co were forced to admit the jig was up, with Moonbat lamenting, “We were wrong on peak oil. There’s enough to fry us all”. True—and on both counts. But a much more positive and factually-based perspective might conclude: “there’s more than enough oil, coming from much friendlier countries, that turbo-boost the economy and create millions of jobs for decades to come—and at a much cheaper rate, too.”

And which has the merit of more consistent “prophetic” insight? Depends on whether a vacillating Moonbat/Guardian-esque ideology trumps the intellect, I guess.



Three current articles below:

Industry taskforce points finger at carbon tax

A TASKFORCE comprising trade unions and manufacturers has cited the carbon price as adding to the pressures on the struggling industry sector in a report to government containing more than 40 recommendations, sources say.

The report by the manufacturing taskforce, a tripartite body established last year by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is believed to recommend a raft of measures ranging from creating a sovereign wealth fund, buying more Australian-made cars and giving tax breaks, to bolstering the export potential of the local food industry.

Ms Gillard established the taskforce to explore ways to help the manufacturing sector, which has been suffering from the pressures of the high dollar, high labour costs and other pressures of the mining boom.

Sources familiar with the report say despite the involvement of the Labor-aligned trade union movement - the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the Australian Workers Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Unions - the report cites rising energy costs caused by the carbon price as having an additional impact in an already competitive environment.

The body of the report calls for the effect of the fixed $23-a-tonne carbon price to be "ameliorated in the current competitive environment" for energy-intensive businesses and that the industry assistance provided for trade-exposed emitters be monitored and refined if necessary.

One recommendation says "energy prices directly impact on the competitiveness of Australian manufacturers and can be attenuated".

It suggests linking the carbon price scheme to international schemes, something already done, rationalising state and federal green schemes, a process also in train, and reforming energy markets, which Ms Gillard called for last week, and assisting business with implementing energy efficient measures.

The taskforce comprises Ms Gillard, senior ministers, the heads of the ACTU and the other unions, the Australian Industry Group and the chief executives of the companies OneSteel, Boeing, Holden and Kraft.

Today's report has been put forward by the unions, companies and the Ai Group, not the government, which will respond to it over time.

Sources familiar with its contents say the recommendations reflect the individual agendas of the participants as well as broader measures designed to help manufacturing as a whole.

One recommendation is the creation of a sovereign wealth fund which the AWU has argued previously would help take pressure off the dollar and create a savings pool for times of need.

It is also understood there is a recommendation for a full and independent inquiry into why small- and medium-sized businesses are struggling to secure capital, a problem that arose during the global financial crisis when access to credit dried up.

Other recommendations include skewing government purchases on cars further towards Australian-made vehicles, increasing the proportion of Australian goods and services that the Defence Department procures every year with its multibillion-dollar budget, and increasing the level of Australian content used in government spending on residential and commercial construction.

It also recommends an annual dialogue between the unions, government and business.

Chief executives of global companies have met and blamed the carbon tax for creating investment uncertainty.


Carbon pain registers for businesses

STRUGGLING small business owners are reporting a hit to their profits from the carbon tax - but are unwilling to pass increased costs on to customers because of the tough retail environment.

A national survey of 186 small firms has found 50 per cent are reporting carbon tax-related price hikes to power bills and other supplies. But only 33 per cent are making their clientele pay.

With many high street retailers experiencing slow trading conditions, a mere 8 per cent favoured the carbon tax, according to a News Limited survey.

And in more bad news for Prime Minister Julia Gillard, backing for Labor among small businesses has plunged.

Only 7 per cent said they would vote Labor at the next election. Eighteen per cent voted for the ALP at the 2010 federal poll.

About 66 per cent of the businesses surveyed - including bookshops, cafes, shoe stores, automotive outlets and other retailers - say they have absorbed the tax and have taken a hit to their profits.

Some businesses claimed the effect of the tax is so bad they may have to close some operations. "We have to consider closing one business down to keep the other business open because of the carbon tax," said Doug Cush, the owner of Bellata Gold Pasta, in the northern NSW electorate of New England.

Adrian Sykes, owner of the Autosmart vehicle cleaning products business at Rathmines, on the Central Coast, estimated a 5 per cent increase in wholesale costs with half a dozen suppliers lifting prices within a week of the carbon tax commencing.

"People are using the carbon tax as an excuse; there hasn't been enough time for there to be a real impact," Mr Sykes said.

Small Business Minister Brendan O'Connor is more upbeat and said business angst was dissipating. "The overall cost impact is negligible. Treasury has confirmed the cost (of carbon tax on energy) is 0.2 per cent to overall costs of business," he said.

Mick Carroll, who owns a plastics moulding firm in Victoria with annual revenues of about $1 million, has recently been told that his electricity rates are going up by 47 per cent from September 1.While the carbon tax is only responsible for some of this hike, Mr Carroll said he would find it hard to make further savings to offset the increase in his $2500 a month power bill. "I'm already to the bone in terms of our margins. This will be the final nail in manufacturing as I know it," he said.

The survey was conducted across 10 electorates in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT, regions which are held by those who helped introduce the scheme.

These include Ms Gillard's seat of Lalor, Treasurer Wayne Swan's seat of Lilley, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet's seat of Charlton and the two NSW seats held by independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor.

While worried about prices, small firms said the carbon tax has had only a marginal impact on cutting paperwork. But this has done little to allay concerns about the tax's impact.

One Canberra bookshop owner believes his prices will increase by "at least" $10,000 a year, mainly due to extra power and rent.


Furious fishermen protest Australian government plans to cut off their livelihood

HUNDREDS of angry fishmongers and trawlers rallied against Federal Government plans to introduce new marine parks yesterday, voicing fears of a dramatic increase in the proportion of imported seafood on Queensland plates.

Also in their sights were proposals to shut down significant sections of the Coral Sea to fishing.

The rally was organised by Hamilton seafood identity Kristina Georges, who operates Samies Girl Fresh Seafood Market.

Industry members descended on Shorncliffe to express their concerns.

Moreton Bay Seafood Industry Association net delegate Dave Thomson said recreational and commercial fishermen would be hurt by the proposed changes.

"I've been in this industry all my life and I'm 62 years old," he said. "It's just sad to see that the whole thing is getting eroded away. Eventually, it's got to stop. Let's just continue with the sustainable fishing that we've got. "They're trying to raise issues that aren't really there."

Mr Thomson said the "green push" driving the changes would lead to changes in importation levels. "There's going to be less local seafood available," he said. "Eventually, we're going to have to feed the place. I'm struggling to understand the actual reasoning behind it all."

Prawn trawler couple Sam and Steve Anderson attended the rally with the hope of sending a message to the Federal Government.

"That's the most important thing," Mrs Anderson said.

"There is going to be no fresh seafood, there's going to be no Australian seafood. Where are we going to get our seafood from? It's going to come from overseas."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


19 August, 2012

Every Book About Polar Bears is Now Wrong

A little bit of sarcasm towards the end below. What he says reflects a finding from recent DNA research that shows the polar bear species to be over 4 million years old -- during which time there were huge climate fluctuations that the bears "somehow" survived

It may not always sound like it but I like science. Really. I just don’t like the term ‘the science is settled’ or long-term predictions about stuff or computer models… you get the picture.

The problem is that science has a way of being ‘unsettled’… especially when it comes to polar bears. Until very recently, the polar bear was thought to have deviated from a large Brown Bear ancestor about 160,000-200,000 years ago – fairly recently when speaking about evolution.

Basically, this theory showed that a glacial maximum around 150,000 years ago – the Wisconsin – resulted in brown bears increasingly venturing out onto the sea ice and hunting seals. As the ice retreated during the Eemian warming period (125,000 years ago), this basically stranded the resident brown bears in the high arctic and increased the speed of their evolution into polar bears. As the planet cooled again, the polar bear population grew.

The problem is that DNA evidence now seems to show that polar bears have existed for about 4 million years. This basically up-ends much of what we believe about the evolution of this species. Neat!

So through four million years of warming and cooling trends – what were the polar bears up to back then? Retreating to little enclaves of cold? Or do polar bears – as a species – come and go with global warming/cooling patterns…?

Does the polar bear essentially ‘return’ to being a brown bear when the climate warms – the result of habitat overlap and interbreeding? Then when the planet cools, does the same evolutionary process begin anew – with a new polar bear species the inevitable result?

If it is the case that polar bears come and go as a species, then our polar bear books are still mostly true – the latest polar bear emerged at a time when the planet reached a glacial maximum… on the other hand, if polar bears survived periods of warming that were much more significant than today, well that’s a tough one to figure out!

We’ll probably never know for sure but it keeps you on your toes anyway…


What Governor Moonbeam missed

Have you ever wondered, when you see an assertion along the lines of “The Earth has warmed by 1.62 degrees over the last 100 years,” how anyone could know that? The literature of global warming alarmism is littered with faux precision; the truth, as you might imagine, is that it is very difficult to get reliable data for the whole Earth over a period of decades if not centuries.

Climate realists are generally willing to assume, for the sake of argument, that the Earth has warmed somewhat in recent decades. In fact, though, it is not obvious that even this modest claim is true. Satellite data show no net warming for as long as such data have been collected, i.e., back to 1979. Ocean measurements show no net warming over that period, either; the evidence for warming is based on land measurements. But the accuracy of land measurements depends on proper siting and maintenance of weather stations. One obvious factor is the urban heat island effect: many weather stations are located in cities, which grow warmer as more people and buildings accumulate. Thus, increasing temperatures at such stations may be measuring urban development rather than the climate. We all know that the urban heat island effect is real–”chance of frost in outlying areas”–yet the data that alarmists rely upon do not take it into account.

Apart from that broad issue, the siting and maintenance of weather stations is crucial to the accuracy of the data they generate. This was nicely illustrated in a recent post on Watts Up With That:

Governor Jerry “moonbeam” Brown has created a comical clone of the Skeptical Science website at his state office website, and announced it today in lake Tahoe with this missive via the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert:

“Global warming’s impact on Lake Tahoe is well documented. It is just one example of how, after decades of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humanity is getting dangerously close to the point of no return,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “Those who still deny global warming’s existence should wake up and honestly face the facts.”

Well documented? I suppose Gov. Brown has never seen the kind of problems associated with the official NOAA weather stations….

The author notes that the weather station at Tahoe City does show a sharp warming trend beginning around 1980:

Conclusive proof of global warming, right? Well, not so fast. It turns out that other stations in the Sierras show no warming at all over the same period. Here is one such station, in Tahoe National Forest:

This is a newer station, but its temperature record shows no warming trend:

This is the record from a ranger station just 15 miles from the one at Tahoe City, going back to 1949. No warming trend starting in the 1980s:

So what is going on here? Is Lake Tahoe really warming dramatically, or not? This is the weather station that shows the warming trend that so alarms Governor Brown:

Note the trash burning barrel just five feet away from the weather station. That was removed after a global warming skeptic pointed it out. But that isn’t what drove the sudden temperature increase in the early 1980s. Rather, it was the construction of the adjacent tennis court and apartment complex, which occurred at that time:

As you can see there was a significant jump in temperature starting around 1980. A jump that is not evident in other sites around Lake Tahoe and the Sierra. Some investigation revealed that 1980 was about the time a concrete tennis court was installed next to the surface station. According to the condo property manager that an investigator spoke to said the court was installed in the “early 80?s”, though she was not there at the time. This tennis court heats up during the day and gives up energy at night, warming the area. According the groundskeeper, he picked up trash during the day and burned it at the end of the shift, leaving a warm burn barrel to increase the night time temperatures.

This kind of issue exists with respect to an enormous number of weather stations, according to a survey conducted by Anthony Watts, the proprietor of Watts Up With That:

The official record of temperatures in the continental United States comes from a network of 1,221 climate-monitoring stations overseen by the National Weather Service, a department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Until now, no one had ever conducted a comprehensive review of the quality of the measurement environment of those stations.

During the past few years I recruited a team of more than 650 volunteers to visually inspect and photographically document more than 860 of these temperature stations. We were shocked by what we found.

We found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas.

In fact, we found that 89 percent of the stations – nearly 9 of every 10 – fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/ reflecting heat source.

In other words, 9 of every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited.

So don’t be fooled by the fictitious precision with which climate alarmists talk about the temperature record.


State Department oversight of climate change spending abroad is a mess, watchdog reports

Inadequate oversight, lax bookkeeping, sloppy paperwork, haphazard performance agreements and missing financial documentation have plagued U.S. State Department spending of tens of millions of dollars to combat climate change, according to a report by State’s internal financial watchdog — and the problem could be much, much bigger than that.

The audit report, issued last month by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), casts an unflattering spotlight on a relatively obscure branch of the State Department that supervises climate change spending, and depicts it as over-extended in its responsibilities, unstaffed in critical monitoring posts, and more concerned with spending money than in monitoring its effectiveness.

The State Department branch is known as the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and its Office of Global Change, or OES/EGC, which have become the nerve center of the Obama administration’s international climate change policy, and the epicenter of its foreign climate change spending, which continues to balloon despite serious economic problems at home.

The OIG report points to a host of lapses in the way OES/EGC has supervised climate change spending, based on what the OIG observed in a sampling of climate change projects between 2006 and 2010, when the overall spending tab amounted to some $214 million.

The OIG sampling involved $34 million of the total.

The picture painted by the OIG report is vigorously disputed by the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Kerri Ann Jones, even as she accepted most of the OIG’s recommendations in her 10-page reply to the audit. Jones took over her post in August 2009, toward the very end of the period examined by the Inspector General’s office.

Since then, however, the situation may have gotten worse. For one thing, the Obama administration’s spending on international climate change projects accelerated between 2010, when the OIG report ended its scrutiny, and mid-2012, when the report appeared — and continues today.

That spending spree has been based on its commitments at a variety of United Nations-sponsored climate change meetings, including the failed Copenhagen climate change conference in December 2009, and subsequent sessions in Mexico, South Africa and, most recently, the Rio + 20 U.N. summit conference on “sustainable development” in Brazil.

Through that process, the world’s developed countries have committed to spend some $30 billion annually on climate change projects in the developing world, with the U.S. a major contributor. (The first board meeting of a so-called Green Climate Fund that hopes to handle most of that money takes place starting on August 23.)

According to a State Department website, the U.S. has contributed some $5.1 billion in climate change funding to developing countries in 2010 and 2011 alone, with additional money still pouring forth in 2012.

Among the lapses highlighted by the OIG in its sampling:

* OIG looked at seven of 19 program grants totaling $34 million, and discovered they contained no specific plans for monitoring the results. As the report demurely noted, “Without comprehensive monitoring of grants, the department may not always have reasonable assurance that federal funds were spent in accordance with the grant award; that the grant recipient performed program activities as dictated in the grant award; and that the program’s indicators, goals and objectives were achieved.”

* So-called grant oversight officers whose responsibilities included developing the monitoring plans, also failed to provide written reviews of compliance with State Department reporting standards, along with a variety of other financial procedures. In some cases, there apparently weren’t enough oversight officers to go around; when three left their jobs, OIG found evidence that only one was replaced.

* Oversight officers apparently didn’t do a lot of overseeing. The OIG discovered that actual visits to climate change sites were rare, and when they occurred, not much effort went into examining the actual paperwork involved. In one series of Indian cases examined by OIG, the officers’ reports “typically summarized meetings held with grantee officials where only the statuses of the programs were discussed.”

* Requirements that grant recipients submit quarterly financial statements were apparently ignored, even though procedures called for cutoffs if the statements were not provided. The report cites an unnamed recipient in Hyderabad, India, who got two separate grants totaling $1.1 million: funding continued to be doled out throughout the project, even though the reporting requirements were completely ignored. And in other cases, even when quarterly reports were received, they were often flawed.

* The same cavalier attitude toward reporting apparently applied even when projects ended. As the report discreetly puts it, overseers “did not always obtain the final reports needed to ensure that final deliverables were achieved, funds were reconciled, and proper closeout of the project was completed.”

* One reason for this, apparently, is that reporting requirements for detailed results toward specific indicators — along with general goals and objectives — were not included in any of the seven grants examined by OIG. One of the missing indicators in a number of cases was the actual amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere by the project.

The lack of a written demand for specific, reported results in the case of State Department grants became even more dramatic when the Inspector General’s Office examined another important financing tool, known as a “climate change inter-agency acquisition agreement” — essentially, the employment of another branch of the U.S. government to carry out commitments State has negotiated in areas ranging from defense to health to legal education.

The acquisition agreements are common for the State Department, where non-diplomatic expertise can be in short supply. During the period examined by the OIG, State spent three times as much -- $115 million — on the agreements, versus $34 million on grants.

If anything, the OIG report says, the quality and quantity of financial and other reporting in the State Department’s hands for such agreements, was even worse than for outright grants.

Among other things:

* In five acquisition agreements examined by the auditors, none contained the required performance and financial reports “necessary for effective program monitoring in a timely manner.”

* In four of the five cases, there was “no evidence” that the Bureau of Oceans had designated an oversight officer, as required. Indeed, OIG found evidence that the Bureau had conducted only one site visit -- in 2008 -- among all the sampled programs that used inter-agency exchange agreements, in this case involving a project carried out by USAID on the bureau’s behalf.

* In that one case, the report says, the visit “did not include a review of receipts or other documentation for expenditures to substantiate financial progress or a review of documentation that supported performance reports submitted to OES/EGC and that served as evidence that activities had occurred.”

* The only expenditures OIG could verify in all five inter-agency cases it examined were for travel costs. As the report starkly put it: “OIG was not provided any supporting documentation that could be substantiated for the majority of the recipients’ expenditures.” The report added that there was only “limited evidence” that Bureau of Oceans officials “had requested or reviewed supporting documentation to substantiate assertions made in the reports.”

* In one specific case where OIG itself demanded the evidence from the contractor of the project, the only available documentation was the demands for payment from five sub-contractors. “OIG received no documentation to verify the expenses claimed or ensure that only authorized expenditures were charged to the project,” the report declares.

* But while other U.S. government agencies may have been blurry about their supervision of the money they paid out on State’s behalf to other climate change contractors, they were highly specific — and highly expensive — when it came to the fees they charged for that role.

Starting in 2008, the OIG report notes, USAID, the U.S. government’s most active international helping agency, began charging a “General and Administrative Support Overhead Rate” of 23.7 percent for funds it administered under inter-agency agreements, including those in the climate change domain.

Thus, on two Indian grants totaling $10.5 million and administered by USAID over two years, the overhead fee was about $2 million. “Thus,” the report notes, “only approximately $8.5 million of the total was budgeted toward the execution of the [climate change] program.”

On examining the problem more closely, however, OIG discovered that the documentation wasn’t there because the Bureau of Oceans didn’t ask for it. The Bureau’s agreements with other agencies to carry out its work “did not include language that required recipients to maintain supporting documentation for financial expenditures and all pertinent achievements for purposes of substantiation.”

Or, as Assistant Secretary Jones put it in her letter reviewing the OIG report, when it comes to dealing with other Federal agencies, her Bureau provides only “guidance” on the details of performance reporting, while the agencies “are not required to perform project related accounting and are not subject to overhead auditing procedures.”

Overall, a State Department spokesman assured Fox News, in response to questions, the Bureau of Oceans is taking the OIG report and all its recommendations “seriously,” and is “working closely with the [State] Department in the development and implementation of new policies and procedures.”

The catch, however, is that in her letter, Jones promised to change many things more specifically — but only after officials located deeper in the State Department’s labyrinthine bureaucracy come up with “standardized policies for inter-agency agreements.”

And that could involve a much bigger problem. In discussing the lack of documentation with State Department officials early this year, OIG discovered that there are apparently no rules demanding that every part of the State Department handle and account for such inter-agency spending in the same way. And that includes “procedures for reviewing and approving agreements to ensure compliance with Federal and [State] Department requirements.”

The catch, therefore, is that OIG’s discovery about the Bureau of Oceans’ quirky and sometimes non-existent standards could be true across the entire State Department when it comes to inter-agency spending.

Or, as the inspector general’s report delicately put it, the accounting problems with climate change may “signify a Department-wide shortcoming, as inter-agency agreements may not be efficiently and effectively administered and managed in the areas of policy application, review and approval, and overall program management.”

That could mean discrepancies could involve much bigger bucks than have been examined so far, and well beyond the area of climate change.

According to OIG, in fiscal 2010 and 2011 alone, the State Department transferred some $4.6 billion to other U.S. agencies to perform work on its behalf, ranging from USAID ($968 million) to Defense (1.358 billion) to Justice ($558 million).

And while a working group within the State Department’s Office of the Procurement Executive ponders the issue prior to providing “guidance” for changes in the rules, the current procedures — or lack of them — for spending the money, at least when it comes to climate change, will remain in place.


Real energy for a new American renaissance

America needs more economic growth, domestic manufacturing, jobs – and secure, affordable energy to make those things happen.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney understands that achieving this goal requires unleashing American ingenuity, reducing excessive regulatory strangleholds on businesses and working capital, and allowing safe, proven technologies to tap and utilize our vast onshore and offshore deposits of oil, natural gas and other energy riches. He knows we can do all this without sacrificing important environmental values.

President Obama fervently believes the solution is to unleash more taxes, regulators and regulations, keep our subsurface resources off limits, and compel a painful transition from hydrocarbons to wind, solar and biofuel energy. He aligns with and listens to environmentalist agitators who detest hydrocarbons, frighten people into thinking fossil fuel production and use will destroy the planet, and conceal the adverse health, economic and environmental effects of “green” energy “alternatives.”

The Obama vision has been an unmitigated disaster. Countless failures, bankruptcies and layoffs are matched by a need for perpetual subsidies – taken from hard-working, productive people and businesses, and given by unaccountable bureaucrats to failed technologies and companies, run by crony-corporatists who return the favor by contributing substantial portions of our compulsory taxpayer largesse to the reelection campaigns of cooperative politicians.

The Romney vision, by contrast, actually works. Bain Capital investments brought us Staples, The Sports Authority, Steel Dynamics and many other success stories. More recently, on the energy front, America’s private sector ingenuity, sweat and perseverance launched new technologies and discoveries that abruptly ended the myths of “peak oil” and “imminent depletion” of US and global petroleum.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, for example, was developed by private industry, funded by private investors and tested on private lands. It did not have to depend on taxpayer subsidies, approval by federal bureaucrats, or access to shale deposits on federal lands.

Had it been otherwise, “fracking” would never have gotten off the ground. The incredible North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania oil, gas, jobs and revenue boom would never have occurred. Vast deposits of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids would have remained trapped in shale rock formations, thousands of feet below Earth’s surface.

Natural gas prices would still be above $8 per thousand cubic feet (million Btu), instead of in the $2.50-$3.00 range. America would still be looking overseas for fuels to replace the coal that the Obama EPA is effectively eliminating from our energy, electricity, employment and economic picture.

But thanks to drilling and fracking on private lands, under commonsense state regulations, US oil and gas production is increasing, for the first time in 15 years, despite continued leasing and drilling moratoria on federal onshore and offshore lands. America is on the threshold of a manufacturing renaissance – fueled largely by access to abundant, reliable, affordable fuels and petrochemical feed stocks, to power and supply raw materials for factories, refineries and chemical plants.

Plentiful gas from the Marcellus shale formation has persuaded Shell to plan a $2-biillion ethane “cracking” plant near Pittsburgh – creating 10,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs. Steel plants, electric utilities and countless other industries will also benefit from shale gas.

Citigroup’s “Energy 2020” report says the US petroleum industry could add “as many as 3.6 million jobs by 2020 and increase the US gross domestic product by as much as 3 percent,” while also generating billions of dollars in lease bonuses, rents, royalties and taxes for local, state and federal governments.

Fracking could bring new jobs and revenues to depressed areas of Maryland, New York, Ohio and other states. Expanded access to our newfound century’s worth of hydrocarbon energy will keep prices low and reverse the flow of manufacturing jobs out of our country – providing jobs for millions of American graduates and unemployed workers, and creating a new prosperity for current and future generations.

Moreover, the energy, manufacturing, employment and economic benefits will be unencumbered by worrisome environmental impacts. Hydraulic fracturing has been utilized since 1949, and has been carried out more than 2.5 million times, safely and without causing any serious harm.

Fracking fluids are 99.5% water and sand, combined with chemicals that keep sand particles suspended in the liquid, fight bacterial growth, and improve gas flow and production. Most additives used today are vegetable oils and common, biodegradable chemicals found in cheese, beer, canned fish, dairy desserts, shampoo, and other food and cosmetic products. Steadily improving technologies, techniques and regulations will further reduce environmental risks.

For those still worried about catastrophic manmade global warming, natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide than coal. It doesn’t create waste disposal or radiation issues that have stymied nuclear power expansion. Unlike wind turbines, it doesn’t slaughter birds and bats. Unlike solar power, it doesn’t require blanketing millions of acres of wildlife habitat with photovoltaic panels.

Unfortunately, facts like these have not stopped peak oil diehards and anti-hydrocarbon activists in and out of the Obama administration. They have become master fear mongers and propagandists, advancing their “just say no” opposition to North American fossil fuel energy – and using lawsuits, lobbying, fabrications and demonstrations to block drilling, fracking, the Keystone XL pipeline, coal mining and burning, and countless other projects, while promoting subsidies, favoritism, and exemptions from environmental laws for wind, solar and biofuel programs.

During his first inaugural address, in the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt told the American people, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Environmental extremists take the opposite tack – arguing that the only thing we have to fear is … just about everything.

We need jobs and renewed economic vitality. We all want a clean environment. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, industries of all kinds have made tremendous progress in reducing emissions and improving safety, efficiency and sustainability. They will doubtless continue to make further progress.

But giving in to fear and hysteria, and throwing more roadblocks in front of responsible energy and economic development, creates far more harm than benefit for our nation and its people. President Obama should stop catering to environmental extremists and join Governor Romney in supporting sensible, responsible North American energy development.


High-Speed Rail Line from nowhere to to Las Vegas a big taxpayer risk

This Taxpayer Risk Analysis reviews ridership, revenue and capital cost forecasts to the extent that they are available. The principal focus is on ridership, since the repayment of the proposed federal loan from taxpayers is entirely dependent upon commercial revenues, principally the fares that will be paid by riders and ancillary revenues, such as advertising.

Since XpressWest, formerly called DesertXpress, is nominally a commercial (private) project, not all relevant information is publicly available, which makes it necessary to rely on broader industry data for some elements. However, even substantial variations in the assumed data that is not directly available for the project would make little difference in the overall financial conclusions of the Taxpayer Risk Assessment.

Should the Victorville to Las Vegas train commercial revenues fail to pay operating costs and debt service, the project would not have enough money to repay the federal loan, resulting in a default. Taxpayers would lose up to $6.5 billion in principal and any unpaid interest, an amount that could climb to more than $7.5 billion if a full six-year deferment of repayment is granted. The Taxpayer Risk Assessment identifies a number of concerns that could result in taxpayer losses.

There are six principal risks to taxpayers from the XpressWest Victorville to Las Vegas train.

* A Speculative Consumer Market: The greatest risk is that the potential consumer market for the train is far smaller, in geographical terms, than is assumed in the project documentation (see Part 3 of the full study). There is no parallel for large numbers of drivers and airline passengers to travel well outside the urban areas in which they live to connect to a train (or plane) to any destination, much less one so close to Southern California as Las Vegas. As a result, common sense finds ridership and revenue likely to be a mere fraction of forecast. This would likely make repayment of the federal loan impossible. This risk to taxpayers of an exaggerated market is “unknown, but potentially severe.”

* Materially Changed Circumstances (Not Reflected in the FEIS Forecast): Even if the consumer market were geographically as large as assumed, growth in the Las Vegas tourist market has been far below forecasts in recent years. As a result, the base ridership figures are implausibly exaggerated and need to be revised downward (see Part 5). The ridership and revenue risk to XpressWest from this factor is high and risks make paying the federal debt impossible, calling for a taxpayer bailout.

* Ridership and Revenue Forecast Model Concerns: The international record indicates that rail projects tend to average approximately 39% less in ridership than forecast. Specific factors of the ridership forecast for the Victorville to Las Vegas train indicate that actual ridership is likely to be 39% to 70% less than the FEIS forecast, even after adjustment for the materially changed circumstances. These factors include an optimistic estimate of the base year market, a market growth rate greater than in pre-recession years, an optimistic assumption of attraction from cars and an optimistic bus attraction assumption. Such rosy predictions increase the likelihood that the federal loan would not be repaid.

* Capital Cost Escalation: Capital cost escalation for rail projects has been pervasive in similar projects, suggesting that capital cost escalation is likely to occur on the Victorville to Las Vegas train (Part 6), leaving the project impossible to complete and triggering a default on the federal loan. Governments (federal, state and local) would be faced with difficult decisions about whether to complete the project, at elevated costs, with public funding or to fund dismantlement of a partially completed system.

* Likely Commercial Losses: Even if there is no capital cost escalation, it is unlikely that the business plan for this project is flexible enough to deal with all the variations discussed above without suffering either higher costs or commercial revenue shortfalls. This inflexibility could lead to a default on the federal loan with the loss paid by taxpayers. Further, political pressure to keep the train operating could lead to a federal Amtrak-style takeover with subsidies, or the train could be operated with state and/or local subsidies. The risk of taxpayer loss from this factor is evaluated at “high.”

* Higher Cost for Highway Expansion: Use of the median of I-15 for the Victorville to Las Vegas train could preclude the most cost-effective options to expand highway capacity (see Part 8). This would increase costs to taxpayers and highway users. The risk of higher expansion costs on I-15 is evaluated as “moderate.”

SOURCE (See the original for links)

What is the EPA hiding?

The Environmental Protection Agency has been a lightning rod for controversy during the Obama Administration as they have pushed the applications of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to their limits in seeking to control all land use across the nation.

One area that hasn’t received as much scrutiny, but reeks of old-style influence peddler politics is the Agency’s escalation of sue and settle cases to change the law through federal court decree operating hand in hand with radical environmentalist groups that are willing participants in the scam.

Numerous media reports have focused upon the revolving door between the EPA and various environmentalist groups with hundreds officials reportedly moving back and forth between environmental agencies and those that lobby them. The latest is Alfredo Armendariz, who resigned after a two year old video emerged of him explaining to environmental groups that the EPA’s enforcement policies compared favorably with those of the Roman Empire where they would crucify someone in a newly conquered town to create the necessary fear in the citizenry.

Now Armendariz is working with the Sierra Club on their anti-coal campaign, in just one more example of the cozy relationship between the advocacy groups and the government that they lobby.

And it is these very relationships that are at the heart of the sue and settle controversy enveloping the Obama Administration. Here is how it works:

An organization sues the EPA demanding that they apply the law in a new, expanded way that increases the agency’s jurisdiction. The EPA, rather than defending the actual law, enters into a contractual relationship known as a consent decree with the party who filed the original lawsuit. A judge signs the consent decree without review, since the two disputing parties are in “agreement.” And the EPA suddenly has expanded powers to wield its enforcement cudgel against people and job creators who were previously outside their grasp.

Shockingly, U.S. taxpayers are then required, under federal law, to pay off the attorneys of the organization which engaged in this power grab scam.

Americans for Limited Government filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in May, 2012 (amended on June 14) to get to the bottom of one such sue and settle created regulation dealing with coal-ash.

The request simply asks for all communications between the EPA’s Offices, which entered into the legal agreement, and the eleven groups which sued the Agency including the Sierra Club, Chesapeake Climate Change Network and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Not surprisingly, the EPA is stonewalling the request demanding that the costs of compiling the data be paid for by Americans for Limited Government in spite of the fact that the group has followed the exact procedures under the law which dictate that the information should be provided free of charge. Similar Americans for Limited Government FOIA requests have been delivered without fee by more than a dozen other federal government departments and agencies. Yet, the EPA objects.

Ironically, the EPA’s National Freedom of Information Act Officer, Larry Gottesman testified before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee in 2010 stating, “EPA is committed to the letter and spirit of the Administration’s Open Government and Transparency goals.”

Apparently, that commitment does not extend to releasing information that promises to prove embarrassing to Obama and his hand in glove environmentalist advocacy group campaign to expand the EPA’s power through the dubious sue and settle process.

Gottesman’s attempts to stop the release of the communications between those who sued the EPA and the Agency which is supposed to defend the law, raises the following questions:

Is the National FOIA officer being coerced by Obama political appointees to stop the release of damaging information until after the November election?

What emails and other communications are so damaging that this career official would risk his reputation to keep them out of the public eye?

What communications have occurred related to the stonewalling of the original standard FOIA request?

The irony should not be lost that while the EPA lectures the rest of America on clean air, their own legal shenanigans are shrouded by a thick stench of obstructionism.

It’s time for America to know if the EPA is colluding with environmental radicals to manipulate the legal system with a promise that the radicals will get paid for their efforts through taxpayer funds.

It’s time for the EPA to come clean by releasing the communications between itself and the eleven organizations whose lawsuit led to the new proposed coal-ash regulations.

And it’s time for the EPA to disinfect their festering reputation as nothing more than a radical environmental advocacy organization with draconian enforcement powers rather than an even handed government agency.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


17 August, 2012

Climate change driving tropical fish south in Australian waters (?)

Any observed change is most likely to be due to closer monitoring but let us give the writers below the benefit of the doubt and accept that tropical species really are in fact spreading into cooler waters. The only thing we can be sure of in the matter, however, is that it is NOT due to global warming. Why? Because there has been no global warming for 15 years. Global temperatures are on a long-term plateau. Something non-existent cannot cause anything

TROPICAL fish are moving south as Australia's marine ecosystems begin to feel the heat of climate change, a study has found.

CSIRO researchers say there is striking evidence of tropical species moving south as sea temperatures rise quickly.

The scientists say large numbers of marine animals and plants are already dying off or migrating.

The Climate Adaptation Marine Report Card 2012, released on Friday, provides evidence of a large-scale redistribution of marine species in waters around the continent.

Dr Elvira Poloczanska, who led the study, says there's a lot of uncertainty about the long-term impacts. "The potential is there for animals and plants to shift, but whether they do or not depends how well they can deal with changes in their current environment," she said.

Some changes could be good, like the establishment of new fisheries.

But there's a lot of concern about food chains and habitats as entire species come into contact with each other for the first time.

Sea urchins usually found north of Bass Strait are now eating Tasmanian kelp forests which provide habitat for many fish species.

Dr Poloczanska says it's important people begin to adapt to the marine changes too.

"Our oceans provide us with a whole load of services - every second breath of oxygen we breathe is provided by marine plants; they provide protein when we eat fish and also relaxation such as when we go swimming, so it's important we make decisions about the future."


Green corruption

In November 2011, Bloomenergy applied for permits to build an energy center in a Delaware protected coastal zone area. The center would employ solid oxide fuel cells powered by natural gas and housed in casings that look like huge boxes – Bloom boxes or “energy servers.”

The application raised alarms among Delaware citizens worried that they were being handed a Pandora’s Box of unwelcome rate hikes and other surprises. Because of my energy, chemistry and thermodynamics expertise, they asked me to review it.

Solid oxide fuel cells have been around for more than fifty years. However, Bloom claims it has improved on their performance, through proprietary breakthroughs in materials science. Perhaps so. But my doubts that its servers are capable of performing at the levels hyped by Bloom grew when the company never provided details about how its mysterious fuel cells actually worked.

As I read through the 163 page application, instead of revelations, I found techno-speak, questionable calculations and outright misinformation. Bloom’s black box technology remains shrouded in mystery, accompanied by boom boxes boasting energy, CO2 and pollution savings, while the company importunes politicians for taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies. It’s an intriguing situation.

The First State of the Union (Delaware) is examining the first state of matter (solid, as in solid oxide fuel cells) and discussing matters of state with heavyweight “venture” capitalists who have some of the best connections imaginable, from both sides of the political aisle. They seek rubberstamp approvals for special tax treatment, electricity rates and environmental permits, for a “green” technology that is still more mythical than scientific.

As I tried to decipher the black box, on page 6 of the application I found the following statement:

“The Red Lion Fuel Cell Installation will provide up to 47 [megawatts] of electrical power that will be connected to the PJM electrical grid. The project will consist of 235 Bloomenergy ES-5700 Energy Server fuel cells that will utilize pipeline quality natural gas. The project will be built in phases, the first phase consisting of 27 MW of capacity, and the second phase an additional 20 MW. Each fuel cell has a base load electrical output of 200 [kilowatts], with a maximum natural gas usage of 1.32 [million] Btu/hr (i.e., 1,282 SCFM [standard cubic feet per minute] at 1,030 Btu/SCF heating value).” [The PJM is an East Coast wholesale power market.]

However, at this rate of fuel use, the Bloom Box would be less than 1% efficient – suggesting that Bloom meant each server needs 1,282 SCF per hour – a careless error. Correcting this reveals that each 200-kilowatt server will need 1,467 SCF per hour – significantly higher than the corrected 1,282 SCF/hour.

On page 161, Tables 1 and 2 revealed that each Bloom box emits 884 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity (MWHE) generated. Since natural gas yields 117 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per million BTUs of energy used, each Bloom ES-5700 Server needs 7,555,600 BTUs to generate one MWHE. Because the actual energy in one MWHE is 3,412,141 BTUs, the box’s conversion efficiency is only 45.2% – far lower than the 60% efficiency a Bloom representative recently presented to a NASDAQ reporter.

Bloom’s application also explains in detail how much cleaner Delaware’s air will be with 235 ES-5700 Servers generating 47 megawatts of electricity. However, those 235 Bloom black boxes cost the same as one 350-MW combined cycle natural gas generator, which would be 53.3% efficient, using the same fuel, based on its higher heating value in a CC generator.

That means the same taxpayer/ratepayer investment that Bloom wants for its Red Lion Installation could get Delaware eight times more clean electricity, if the money were spent on a CC gas generator.

Table 2 also says its 235 “clean” ES-5700 Servers would emit 22.56 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) per day. But even paint booths in Delaware auto body shops are prohibited from emitting more than 15 pounds of VOCs per day. Moreover, if the same amount of power had been generated by combined cycle gas turbines, only 0.249 pounds of VOCs would be emitted daily. That’s 90 times less pollution!

Bloom servers also emit 1.2 times more CO2 per MWHE than a Siemens, GE, Mitsubishi or Alstrom combined cycle gas turbine.

These errors and misleading claims make Bloom’s application seriously flawed, and possibly fraudulent, if not corrected. But perhaps the biggest problem is yet to come.

Because of the Bloom servers’ low efficiency and high capital cost, Delaware citizens will pay Bloom over $200 per megawatt hour of power delivered to their PJM grid. But in January 2012 the US Energy Information Agency said the projected “levelized” cost of electricity over the next 30 years from advanced gas-fired combined cycle power stations is $65.50 per MWH.

In other words, Bloom plans to charge First State citizens three times the $65 rate, for dirtier power.

Talk about a carbon tax! How long will Delaware families, businesses, hospitals, schools and churches be able to survive with those electricity rates? How did Bloom Energy pull off this boondoggle? Well …

One Bloom director had the sitting President of the United States over for dinner, and has an ex-Vice President of the USA as a business partner. Another director was formerly Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The current Vice President hails from Delaware. They are all good friends of Delaware’s “green” Governor and Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

The Chinese would call it guanxi (connections). Some Americans would say it’s crony-capitalism on steroids. Less charitable types might suggest that Delaware’s new motto should be: “We don’t tolerate corruption. We insist on it.” Whatever you call it, it works.

It proves the right Delaware political connections can get Bloom the electrical connections, subsidies and rates it wants – even when it submits thermodynamic hogwash in a permit application to convert a protected ecological area into a huge, expensive, inefficient, polluting power station that will send electricity prices skyrocketing. Yes – the same DNREC approved Bloom’s permit on May 4, 2012!

But as John Paul Jones said, “We have not yet begun to fight!” And the fat lady has yet to sing.


EPA’s hazy outlook threatens to bankrupt coal-fired power plants

The nearly five million visitors to the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona each year stare in awe at the canyon’s long 277 river miles that can be up to 18 miles wide and about a mile deep.

However, even amidst this beauty, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is focused on the haze in the national park and says it is coming from a very important electricity source in the area.

The Navajo Generating Station (NGS), a coal-fired power plant that supplies electricity for the 14 pumping stations required to move water to southern Arizona—to about 80 percent of the state’s population—is being blamed for creating poor air quality in the national park.

Currently, this power plant meets all federal clean air guidelines—except the EPA’s interpretation of the Regional Haze Rule.

The goal of the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule is the “remedying of any existing impairment of visibility” at 156 National Park and Wilderness areas throughout the U.S. Congress approved of this amendment to the Clean Air Act in 1977, however, power to set standards of emissions was left to the states—not the EPA. The EPA’s role was to simply provide support.

Now the EPA seems to be trampling on the state’s authority to control emissions standards by creating its own set of standards. Is the EPA really that concerned about cleaning up haze or is this just another aggressive move to push out the coal industry?

If the EPA decides that the NGS power plant needs additional emissions control technology, owners of the power plant can expect to invest $1.1 billion, with no promise of improved air quality in the national park.

Furthermore, the plant is located on land owned by the Navajo Nation. Its long-term lease with the tribe expires in 2019. If the power plant operators can’t guarantee a renewed lease beyond 2019, investing more than $1 billion into the plant isn’t a viable option. Depending on the EPA ruling, NGS might shutdown—costing 1,000 jobs, 90 percent of them belonging to the Navajo tribe.

Not only would this hurt the local economy, already plagued with high unemployment, but it would effectively destroy the water source to southern Arizona—leading to skyrocketing water rates.

How does the EPA get away with destroying communities like this one?

A political game. It is no secret that many environmental groups ally with the EPA. But what if these groups don’t think the EPA is doing its job or going far enough? They sue. The EPA then settles agreeing to fix the problem. Therefore a court-imposed deadline on the EPA leaves it with no other option but to override the state’s regulations and enforce its own controls.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a report titled, “EPA’s New Regulatory Front: Regional Haze and the Takeover of State Programs,” highlights how the EPA, along with court-mandated deadlines, has wheedled its way into state territory by delaying state plans for emission control.
“By combining this tactic of delaying approval of the state plans with Sue and Settle and a court-imposed deadline to act, EPA has manufactured a loophole to provide itself with the ability to reach into the state haze decision-making process and supplant the state as decision maker. EPA has, effectively, engineered a way to get around the protections of state primacy built into the Regional Haze statute by Congress.”

The report goes on to say, “Since August 2011, EPA has used this method to impose almost $375 million in annual costs on ratepayers in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and North Dakota—over the staunch objection of their governors—by requiring installation of more costly controls than the BART [Best Available Retrofit Technology] controls each state chose.”

The Navajo Generating Station has already installed low nitrogen oxides burners and other technologies to reduce nitrogen oxides by 40 percent at a cost of $45 million. If the state of Arizona approves of this level of emissions then according to Congress and the Clean Air Act, the EPA should as well.

The EPA’s true motive is clear: it is simply following the instructions of its leadership. In 2008, President Obama stated, “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

As the EPA and this administration edge closer to their goal of bankrupting the coal industry, states have got to respond and fight back against this abuse of power.

This isn’t just a war against coal. It’s a war that challenges states rights’ and if it is lost will ensure the EPA’s overwhelming authority in just about anything it chooses.


Protecting porpoises' hearing adds millions to wind farm projects

Too bad about people's hearing

Porpoises are adding millions of euros to costs for wind-turbine developers in waters off Germany, delaying the nation’s shift from nuclear energy.

EON and RWE, the country’s two biggest utilities, are using technologies that reduce noise from driving turbines into the seabed after nature groups complained that the work damages the sonar-like hearing of porpoises. Unexploded mines from the Second World War also are holding up work.

“A porpoise is doomed to die if its hearing is shattered,” Kim Detloff, a marine expert at German nature conservation group NABU, told Bloomberg. “The regulator must sanction developers if they repeatedly violate the noise limit.”

The concerns show that wind developers are beginning to face the same scrutiny as oil companies for projects in sensitive places, a trend likely to add costs and slim profit margins that already are razor-thin. That adds another hurdle to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s effort to build up offshore wind as an alternative to atomic power, a program that may cost €39bn (£31bn) by 2020.

“Developing offshore wind in Germany is already more expensive than in other countries as projects are situated further from the coast in deeper waters,” said Fraser Johnston, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Any additional costs such as delays to grid connections and environmental considerations will put more pressure on already low returns.”

Three years ago, Exxon Mobil, BP and Rosneft curbed seismic surveys that map underground rock structures near the Sakhalin Island north of Japan after the wildlife group WWF International said loud noises were disturbing endangered western gray whales.

Marine Current Turbines, a tidal power company that’s now mostly owned by Siemens, faced objections to installing a device similar to an underwater windmill in Northern Ireland because of potential damage to sealife. The company paid for all-day monitoring of seals, porpoises, birds and sharks at the site for three years before the turbine began running in 2008.

In Germany, the government envisions installing 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines offshore by 2030, which may cover an area of the sea eight times the size of New York city, Bloomberg reported.

“Quite a large proportion of our sea area will probably be used for offshore wind farms,” said Hans-Ulrich Rosner, head of the Wadden Sea Office for WWF in Germany. “This will have a serious impact on nature, which needs to be mitigated.”

By next month, German utility EWE plans to complete work using a sound-reduction system developed by the Dutch engineering company IHC Merwede BV. It’s being installed for the first time commercially on offshore wind turbine foundations at the 108-megawatt Riffgat facility in the North Sea, said Christian Bartsch, a spokesman for EWE.

EWE is placing a double-walled, water-filled steel casing about 11 metres in diameter around the foundation. The system produces a screen of air bubbles to absorb sound. Work started in June. EWE is reducing the intensity and duration of hammering piles into the seabed by using vibrations to seat them in the first 30 metres then driving them in the final 40 metres using traditional methods.

“While developers are generally eager to install foundations as quickly as possible, they’ve come under pressure from regulators and nature groups to protect the porpoise,” Otto von Estorff of the Hamburg University of Technology said. “No developer wants to be seen harming the environment.”

Von Estorff, who heads the university’s modeling and computation institute, is part of a group of scientists that will start measuring noise at the Bard Offshore 1 construction in mid-September in the North Sea. The German Environment Ministry is paying for the project.

Developers are spending about 0.5pc of a wind farm investment on noise reduction, according to industry specialist Hydrotechnik Luebeck GmbH. It’s one of the factors making German wind farms more costly than ones in the U.K.

German projects are developed at costs of between about €4.2m and €4.4m a megawatt. That compares with about €3.7m to €4m for most projects in the UK, according to New Energy Finance.

“We will soon, possibly in the next two months, receive noise test results that should be of interest to the entire industry,” Bartsch said. “Without these measures work would be faster. A crane-ship costs a lot of money each day. We all agree that we need to do this to protect the animals.”

About 231,000 porpoises, which are smaller and stouter than dolphins, live in the North Sea and Baltic Sea, said Sven Koschinski, a German marine biologist and consultant. The population in the Baltic Sea dropped 60pc to 11,000 between 1994 and 2005, he said.

Porpoises use clicking sounds to navigate, locate prey and find mating partners. While sea mammals are coping with increased ambient noise from shipping, driving foundations into the ground can produce sudden sounds as loud as 245 decibels that can lead to physical injuries, Koschinski said.

“In the central Baltic Sea, there is a separate stock of only 400 remaining porpoises, and that’s an estimate from 1994 that could be smaller today,” Koschinski said. “Every dead animal there is threatening the survival of the population.”


Energy Dept. Gambles $500 Million Of Our Money On Projects The Private-Sector Won’t Touch

So, why does the Energy Department have an agency created to gamble away our money - $500 million to date - on schemes it admits are “too risky for private-sector investment”?

On August 2, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the latest “investment” of its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) project: $43 million in funding for the development of energy storage technology.

According to a DOE press release, ARPA-E has already doled out $500 million on projects that no self-respecting private business would gamble on (emphasis added):

“ARPA-E was launched in 2009 to seek out transformational, breakthrough technologies that are too risky for private-sector investment but have the potential to translate science into quantum leaps in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries, and have large commercial impacts.”

So, the implications of this program’s mission statement seem to be:

* That the money we pay in taxes is, somehow, more expendable than private-sector money,

* That the government has the right to risk our money on schemes that no prudent private-sector investor or businessman (seeking to maximize profit and minimize risk) would consider,

* That the government can afford to make investments that fail, since it’s playing with our money and can always raise taxes.

“Prior to today’s announcement, ARPA-E has attracted over 5,000 applications from research teams, which have resulted in approximately 180 groundbreaking projects worth nearly $500 million,” the press release states.

DOE Deputy Press Secretary Keri Fulton confirmed to “The Right Views” that the program’s gambling tab has now surpassed the half-billion dollar mark: “ARPA-E has provided over $500 million in funding to groundbreaking projects.”

That’s a half-billion dollars, in just four years.

DOE Secretary Steven Chu has said that the latest recipients of ARPA-E funding “could revolutionize” the way Americans use and store energy.

Unfortunately, “could” does not mean the same thing as “will.” Enter, the “too risky” component of ARPA-E’s mission statement.

So, here we are - a nation that’s $15 trillion in debt, running a trillion dollar deficit, and heading for a “fiscal cliff.”

Can we really afford for the government to be risking our money on schemes that private-sector investors shun?


Climate Lies in Iowa's Supreme Court

By Alan Caruba

Since the climate liars cannot make their case on the basis of the known science, taking it into a court of law with a passionate appeal to emotion in order to impose restrictions on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has long been a Green goal.

The claim that CO2 causes “climate change” which is the new spin on “global warming” is utterly false, but it may be argued if the Iowa Supreme Court takes the case.

When a similar case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, the esteemed justices ruled that CO2 was a “pollutant” under the Clean Air Act and not the second most vital atmospheric gas after oxygen, the “food” for all vegetation on Earth.

The Greens have understandably concluded they can get what they want, restrictions on all energy use, in the courts of justice if not in the court of public opinion.

The defendant filing the case is a 14-year-old girl, Glori Dei Filippone. Exploiting minors is old hat to climate liars. They have filled our schools with global warming garbage for decades. The brief filed in her name is joined by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources who ia asking the State Supreme Court to rule on “whether the State of Iowa has an obligation to protect the atmosphere under the Iowa Constitution and the Public Trust Doctrine.”

Federal laws have made it clear that the nation’s air and water must be protected from manmade pollution, but how does a state go about protecting the entire, ever changing atmosphere above it? Can Iowa be sued for allowing the heat wave that roasted its populace and crops? If there is so much rain a flood ensues, is it the state’s fault? Can the state stop dust from other states from blowing in?

In a news release from, the green organization behind the request for a hearing, says the case is critical to determine “whether the people of Iowa have a right to a healthy atmosphere.” This is so absurd that it defies belief.

The last time I checked the Constitution it spelled out a Bill of Rights and none of them make any reference to the atmosphere!

A spokesperson for said the case needs to be argued because “the atmosphere is imperiled and must be protected by State officials.” The Latin phrase to describe this argument is reductio ad absurdum.

The atmosphere is not “imperiled.” It is what it is and the State of Iowa, the United States of America, or all the nations of Earth can do nothing about it. Just as the temperature of the Earth is determined in large measure by the Sun and its cycles, the Earth and its atmosphere has been through many ice ages of greater or lesser intensity and length, as well as warmer periods like the one in which we presently find ourselves. It even has a name—the Holocene.

To put it another way, Mother Nature's message to humans is frequently “Get out of the way. Here comes a flood, a blizzard, a hurricane, a tornado, or a forest fire ignited by lightning. For good measure I will throw in a volcanic eruption and an earthquake.”

Climate changes all the time and has done so for the 4.5 billion years of the Earth’s existence. Or just keep in mind something called “the seasons” from winter to spring, summer to autumn, and back to winter. This is not rocket science. This is funamental climate science and meteorology.

The Iowa Supreme Court should throw out the petition for this case for a very simple reason. As Hans Schreuder explains on, “Carbon dioxide is not a warming gas at all, it is a cooling gas.” Moreover, “In our open-to-space atmosphere, the excellent radiating properties of all so-called greenhouse gases serve to cool the atmosphere, never to warm it.” Schreuder is a retired analytical chemist and a co-author of “Slaying the Sky Dragon”, a collection of scientific papers that debunk global warming.

In the brief before the Iowa Supreme Court, Glori Dei Fillippone argues that “Iowa has a moral obligation to provide my generation, and future generations, with a liveable state. Climate change is the most important moral issue of our time and I hope our Court will also protect our rights.”

Well, no, climate change is not, nor ever was a moral issue and it is most certainly not the most important issue of our time. Like Paul said, “When I was a child I spoke as a child. I understood as a child. I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (1 Corinthians, 13/11)

Using the courts to require states to impose coercive laws on people and businesses using bogus “science” and where no atmospheric “health threat” can be affected by any action of the State is immoral. Using a child to advance that objective is immoral.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


16 August, 2012

Nutjob Maine mother terrorizes her children

Meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo has supplied the following graph of temperatures in Maine

My 12-year old has just asked to participate in another weekly activity thirty minutes away. I try a quick rebuff: “You’re already too busy and it’s too expensive.” With more than a bit of adolescent attitude, she replies, “You just don’t want to take the time to drive me.”

I look at the clock. It’s past 7 p.m. We haven’t eaten dinner, and unfinished homework clutters the kitchen table. There is never a perfect moment to get into the real nitty gritty of why and wherefore. Still, sometimes you have to take the time to give your kids an honest answer to their questions.

“Yes, you’re partly right,” I tell her, and her sister too, who has now wandered in. “I don’t especially want to spend more time carting you around. But there is another reason. Every time we get in the car we contribute to climate change. By the end of this century – and you may both still be around – climate change is likely to make conditions for life on earth drastically different from what they are today.”

I pause. It’s gloomy stuff, the state of the environment. Usually I try not to dwell on scientists’ pessimistic planetary forecasts. Nobody, including me, really wants to hear it. Nobody wants to read about it over morning coffee and a doughnut. Nobody wants to tell their kids about it.

I plunge ahead. I tell them that they have just lived through the hottest decade ever recorded. I tell them that recent flooding submerged one fifth of the land surface of Pakistan, washing away 7,000 schools.

I tell them that the Arctic is melting, that hurricanes are getting stronger, droughts are lengthening, and rainfall records are being shattered. Within their lifetimes, sea level could rise by 6 feet, or more, submerging the world’s coastal cities.

The children are quiet. Finally they ask if our house, a few miles inland from the Maine coast, will be okay. This question, in its innocent disregard either for the welfare of others, or for the fact that if the world disintegrates around them it won’t matter if their house is okay, seems to reflect a child’s perspective.

But it’s how us adults think too: Sure, catastrophic drought struck Texas last year and the Midwest this summer. But here in the Northeast global warming so far has mostly meant warmer winters. In other words, our house and family are fine.

Well then, my children ask, shouldn’t we do something about it?

I tell them they are already helping by riding their bikes and walking around town, by delighting in hand-me-downs rather than shopping trips, by eating local spinach rather than asking for processed foods from afar.

Although this cheers them up a bit, they are smart enough to know that a few leaves of spinach are not going to fix a whole lot. By the end of the conversation, they’re in tears.

Like every parent, I want my children to believe their futures are full of hope and promise. Yet at some point they also need to look with clear eyes at the world around them. Without that, where will the motivation come from to make anything better?


Hansen Is Wrong

In his recent press blitz, NASA’s James Hansen tries to tie extreme weather events, such the current drought affecting much of the central U.S., to anthropogenic global warming. But the real world argues otherwise.

The standard measure of drought—the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI)—has temperature incorporated into its equation. The higher the temperature, the greater the potential evaporation term, and thus the tendency towards drier conditions. But (obviously) precipitation amount is also included in the calculation of the PDSI. More precipitation pushes the index away from drought conditions. So just because temperature is on the rise does not mean that droughts must become more frequent—changes in precipitation could intervene and counteract the influence of a temperature increase.

Across the U.S., over the past century or so, both temperature and precipitation have been on the upswing. Figure 1 shows that U.S. annual PDSI from 1895 through 2011. The more positive the PDSI values, the wetter conditions are, the more negative the PDSI values, the drier things are. There is no statistically significant trend over the 117 period of record, although the non-significant tendency is upwards (towards wetter conditions), evidence that the increase in precipitation is more than offsetting the impact from rising temperatures in the U.S.

Figure 1. U.S. annual average palmer Drought Severity Index value, 1895-2011 (data source: National Climatic Data Center).

In other words, the situation is as it always has been. And the 2012 drought conditions, and every other drought that has come before, is the result of natural processes, not human greenhouse gases emissions.

Simply put, Jim Hansen is wrong.


California regulators looks at reducing 'cap and trade' burden on businesses

Big business sees California's global-warming law as a job killer, a $1 billion tax that could force some of the state's heaviest industries to flee. Now state regulators, trying to ease the burden, are studying whether to give hardship breaks to dozens of companies.

Under the plan being considered, the state would dole out extra carbon credits – the precious allowances that will give industries the license to emit greenhouse gases starting in January. The proposal could save companies millions of dollars.

Like practically everything connected with Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, the idea is controversial.

Some environmentalists say extra allowances would weaken a system they fear is already ripe for manipulation. "We're … concerned about the system being gamed," said Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California.

Businesses, however, say they need all the help they can get as they struggle with the complexities and costs of AB 32.

Handing out additional free credits "would provide much-needed relief. It won't solve the whole problem," said Ed Yates of the California League of Food Processors, a group whose members include Campbell Soup and Del Monte. Carbon credits are at the very heart of AB 32. This fall the state will allocate millions of them, each representing a ton of greenhouse gases, to approximately 430 factories, refineries and other industrial users.

In total, the credits will constitute a ceiling on California's annual carbon emissions. The allotment will be reduced 2 percent to 3 percent a year in order to gradually bring down the amount of carbon in the air.

The 430 affected companies will get most of their allowances from the state for free – 90 percent in each of the first two years. The percentage of freebies is scheduled to decline in future years.

The rest of the credits will cost money. Companies will be able to buy them directly from the state, which will hold regular auctions starting in November.

Or they can buy them from other companies on the state's "cap and trade" market.

The market is patterned after carbon markets that have been run for years by the European Union and a coalition of northeastern states.

It's making California businesses nervous. Even with loads of free credits, companies say the costs of purchasing the rest could be prohibitive. It won't help that the allotment will decline each year, they say, likely raising prices.

"It's going to be a huge economic burden, of course," said Brenda Coleman, policy advocate at the California Chamber of Commerce. "All industries are susceptible."

In the market's first full year, California industries are expected to pay $1 billion or more for allowances. The cost could grow to $6 billion a year in 2015. That's when the market will expand to include oil refiners paying for the greenhouse gases emitted by cars and trucks on California roads.

Mindful of the so-called "leakage" effect – the prospect of companies leaving California to escape the costs – the California Air Resources Board is looking to tweak the system.

One likely solution is to give more free carbon credits to companies deemed at risk. The total amount of credits available each year wouldn't increase – it would still fall 2 percent to 3 percent a year – but a greater percentage of them would be handed out for free. This would save some companies millions of dollars a year, although the extra freebies wouldn't kick in until 2015.

The ARB says it believes the extra carbon allowances would strike a balance between businesses' needs and the environment.

"Obviously we don't want industry to leave the state, but we want them to meet the emissions requirements," said air board spokesman David Clegern.

The ARB's proposal is the latest twist for AB 32, which survived a challenge at the ballot box in 2010 but is still struggling for acceptance. California was hoping to operate the cap and trade market via a multistate Western alliance, but that fizzled. Only the Canadian province of Quebec has committed to linking its carbon market with California.

While the market's opening bell won't ring for a few months, carbon traders are already jockeying for position. Industrial users and speculators are buying and selling the credits – known as California Carbon Allowances – on two futures exchanges. The going rate: around $19 a ton.


Obama's backdoor attack on fracking

When President Obama's regulatory apparatus takes the side of environmentalists against the workers and consumers who must bear the consequences of his decisions, his green enforcers are usually the U.S. Department of the Interior or the Environmental Protection Agency. In the rare instance, as with the Keystone Pipeline, it is the State Department that delivers the crippling blow. But where these agencies have failed to inflict sufficient damage on one of America's fastest-growing industries, the Department of Transportation has stepped forward, cudgel in hand.

Since Obama's inauguration in January 2009, overall employment in the U.S. has declined. In domestic oil and gas extraction, however, it has grown by 19 percent. With just under 200,000 employees, it is not one of America's largest industries, but it has helped take the edge off the lack of employment opportunities available in the Obama recovery. Thousands of jobs in other industries have sprung up in the oases that oil and gas have created, bringing rural ghost towns back to life. The reason is hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" technology, which has made vast amounts of natural gas profitably accessible, even at today's low natural gas prices.

Environmentalists are determined to put a stop to this carbon profiteering. The EPA is still conducting studies that environmentalists hope will someday justify draconian regulations on fracking. Enter Obama's Transportation Department. By suddenly reinterpreting a 50-year-old rule that limits truck drivers to 11 hours on the work site at a stretch, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has delivered an unexpected victory for environmental activists.

Truckers on drilling sites spend hours each day waiting around until one rig or another needs water or sand. This is why, ever since the 11-hour trucking safety rule was adopted in 1962, truckers who haul water and sand to drilling sites have been exempted. There is no issue of road fatigue, the focus of the 11-hour rule. The Transportation Department's reinterpretation eliminates this exemption, disproportionately affecting sites where fracking is employed. Voila - environmental regulation without the hassles of justifying it scientifically, as would be required for an EPA action.

"This is clearly an indication that somewhere up in the top echelons of this administration, there is a constant battle -- a war going on -- to try to artificially level the playing field between the oil and gas industry and the renewable [energy] industry," Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., told The Washington Examiner.

Whatever Obama's reasons, this crackdown on natural gas is irreconcilable with his praise for the industry's success. In this year's State of the Union address, Obama spoke of gas in a fashion that presaged his more recent "you didn't build that" campaign-trail argument in favor of higher taxes and bigger government. "[I]t was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock," he said.

Obama's claim is untrue - the federal government spent little to research fracking and stopped altogether in 1992 - but leave that aside. Even as Obama hails the natural gas boom as a vindication of his philosophy, his administration is crippling it with a sudden backdoor rule change. It says a lot about how this president has subordinated the creation of good-paying, long-lasting jobs to the whims of environmentalist bundlers and donors in New York and Hollywood.


California attacks skeptics

It looks like the Democrats are losing their patience with those who deny the importance of climate change. Just last week, Senator Harry Reid told those assembled at the National Clean Energy Conference in Las Vegas that "It's time for us all... to stop acting like those who ignore the [climate] crisis or deny it exists entirely have a valid point of view. They don't." And today at the Tahoe Summit California Governor Jerry Brown unveiled a new website, maintained by his Office of Planning and Research, that takes on climate denialists in no uncertain terms.

The website, "Climate Change: Just The Facts," pulls few punches in its countering of those who would deny that our planet is warming, and that it is our release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that is responsible for the majority of that warming.
The website introduces the topic by mentioning California's campaign to move the state to a renewable energy footing, and to prepare to mitigate the worst effects of climate change on the state. It then starts taking apart the opposition:
While California is taking action, some of those who oppose the move to renewable energy and cleaner transportation have mischaracterized the science of climate change in an effort to create artificial uncertainty about the existence and causes of climate change.

The fact is that on the key issues, the science is clear: climate change is real and happening now; human-made greenhouse gas emissions are affecting our planet; and we need to take action. Just as we reached a point where we stopped debating whether cigarette smoke causes cancer, we need to end the climate change debate and focus on how to solve the problem.

The site analyzes the motivation of many prominent deniers:
A small but vocal group has aggressively spread misinformation about the science, aiming to cast doubt on well-established findings and conclusions. Their goal is to create confusion and uncertainty, thereby preventing meaningful action to remedy the problem. The same strategy was used cynically for decades by the tobacco industry after research showed that cigarettes caused cancer. In fact, some of the same individuals who have spoken out against climate science also claimed that cigarettes were safe.


Carbon Tax? Sorry, I Already Gave at the Pump

Carbon tax advocates say Congress should slap a price penalty on fossil fuels to make consumers bear the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) — the damage carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions allegedly inflict on public health and welfare via their presumed impacts on global climate.

What is the SCC? Depends on who you ask. Climate “hot heads” like Al Gore think the SCC is huge. “Lukewarmers” like Patrick Michaels think the SCC is less than the cost of the tax or regulatory burden required to make deep cuts in CO2 emissions. “Flatliners” like Craig Idso think the SCC is negative (i.e. CO2?s net impact is beneficial), because a moderately warmer climate is healthful and CO2 emissions nourish the biosphere.

In February 2010, the EPA and 11 other agencies issued a Technical Support Document (TSD) on the SCC. The TSD’s purpose is to enable federal agencies to incorporate the “social benefit” of CO2 emission reductions into cost-benefit estimates of regulatory actions.

The TSD recommends that agencies, in their regulatory impact analyses, use four SCC estimates, ranging from $5 per ton to $65 per ton in 2010:

For 2010, these estimates are $5, $21, $35, and $65 (in 2007 dollars). The first three estimates are based on the average SCC across models and socio-economic and emissions scenarios at the 5, 3, and 2.5 percent discount rates, respectively. The fourth value is included to represent the higher-than-expected impacts from temperature change further out in the tails of the SCC distribution.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Both the federal and state governments levy taxes on motor fuel. Motor fuel taxes are not called carbon taxes but their economic effect is the same – impose a price penalty on consumption. Moreover, via simple arithmetic any carbon tax can be converted into an equivalent gasoline tax and vice versa.

The point? Americans in every state except Alaska already pay a combined federal and state gasoline tax that is higher than a carbon tax set at $5, $21, or $35 per ton. Americans in five states pay a combined gasoline tax that is higher than a $65 per ton carbon tax. Americans in several other states pay a combined gasoline tax that is nearly as high as a $65 per ton carbon tax.

Carbon taxes are assessed per metric ton of CO2 emitted. Carbon taxes convert into gas taxes as follows. One gallon of gasoline when combusted yields 8.91 kilograms of CO2. One metric ton = 1,000 kilograms. Therefore, the quantity of CO2 emitted by a gallon of gasoline is 0.891% of a metric ton. If a carbon tax is set at $5, $21, or $35 per metric ton, then the carbon tax for gasoline, reflecting the estimated SCC, is about 4¢, 19¢, or 31¢ per gallon, respectively.

At 18.4¢ per gallon, the federal gasoline tax alone exceeds the TSD’s $5 per ton (4¢ per gallon) SSC estimate and nearly equals the $21 per ton (19¢ per gallon) SCC estimate. The U.S. average combined state and federal gasoline tax is 48.9¢ per gallon, 57% higher than a fuel tax (31¢ per gallon) based on the $35 per ton SCC estimate.

A carbon tax set at $65 per ton translates into a 58¢ per gallon gasoline tax. Motorists in five states pay more: California (67.7¢ per gallon), New York (67.7¢ per gallon), Hawaii (66.7¢ per gallon), Connecticut (63.4¢ per gallon ), and Illinois (62.8¢ per gallon). Americans in several other states (the other red states in the map) pay a combined gasoline tax that is nearly as high.

Motor vehicles, of course, are not the only source CO2 emissions in the U.S. economy. The transport sector as a whole accounts for about 29% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, as motor fuel consumers, almost all Americans already pay a de facto carbon tax exceeding three out of four U.S. Government estimates of the social cost of carbon, and tens of millions of Americans pay an effectual carbon tax exceeding the government’s high-end social cost of carbon estimate.

Carbon tax proponents might say the foregoing analysis is not relevant because the purpose of gas taxes is to pay for roads while the purpose carbon taxes is to limit environmental impacts. This criticism is itself irrelevant. Whether the tax on motor fuel is called a carbon tax or a gasoline tax, it has the same effects on consumer behavior and business investment. What the revenues are used for — roads & bridges, green tech R&D, health care, deficit reduction — is a separate issue.

So the next time a warmista says we should pay a carbon tax, cheerfully reply, “Been there, done that, each time I fill up at the pump.”



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


15 August, 2012

Oil isn't running out: expert

As car makers race to wean themselves off the world's dwindling supplies of oil, an academic in the United States has made the startling claim that we may be facing an oil glut.

Energy expert - and former oil industry executive - Leonardo Maugeri has authored a report that claims oil production will actually increase in the coming years, flying in the face of theories that suggest there will be a "peak oil" scenario in the foreseeable future.

Maugeri's report, published by the Belfer Center at Harvard University, states: "contrary to what most people believe, oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption."

Maugeri's explanation for his claims comes from broader use of existing technologies in drilling for oil, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking. He claims that oil production may ramp up by 20 per cent over the next eight years, and there may even be a "collapse" in oil prices, and, in turn, lower prices for fuel from about 2015.

The claims - if correct - could lead to a huge turnaround in the way the car industry is currently developing future models. Every major car manufacturer is investing heavily in alternative fuel technology, with electric cars, hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell models all possible options for future mobility.

Electric cars are already struggling to establish themselves as mainstream alternatives to petrol, with high prices, limited infrastructure and customer concerns about range hampering acceptance.

Unsurprisingly, a recent report from the US National Petroleum Council backs the findings of Maugeri. It says petrol and diesel engines: "are likely to be the dominant propulsion systems for decades to come, with liquid fuel blends continuing to play a significant, but reduced role".

The study found that infrastructure and technology barriers – as well as high costs – would delay any mass-scale transition to alternative fuels.

The Petroleum Council also suggested that governments shouldn't invest too heavily in alternative fuels, instead suggesting that commercial interests should drive any change.

"There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding which individual fuel-vehicle systems will overcome technology hurdles to become economically and environmentally attractive by 2050," the study said. "Therefore, government policies should be technology neutral while market dynamics drive commercialisation."


In praise of packaging

The proposal to require 'plain' packaging for tobacco products has now completed its consultations. The ASI submitted evidence against plain packaging, and we published Chris Snowdon's report on the subject.

The case for plain packaging is weak since it has not been tried anywhere. Proponents claim that glitzy packaging leads people to take up smoking, whereas the tobacco companies say it is about promoting their brands over others. Supporters cite tests in which subjects said they felt 'negative' about cigarettes in plain packs. I myself would feel pretty negative about having to look at other people's packs showing tumours and corpses.

Counterfeiting and smuggling would be easier with plain packaging, reducing tax revenues. Already one cigarette in nine is smuggled or fake. The civil liberties issue makes a strong case against plain packaging. Although proponents tell us that it will only apply to tobacco products, activists in Australia, which took the lead in plain packaging laws, are now campaigning for graphic warnings on alcohol and for what they deem to be 'junk' food to be sold in generic packaging.

Packaging can influence choice of brand by projecting an image that users want to identify with. The feelings that go with a product are part of the intangible value that it adds. Malt whisky in India is seen as an 'aspirational' product associated with success and ambition. Young Indians enjoy feeling part of that world, in addition to enjoying the whisky itself. Similarly tobacco companies like to project an image for their brands. Friends of mine who started Regius Cigars wanted to convey an image of top quality, and designed distinctive packaging in black and gold. Plain packaging would require them to forego the distinctive imagery that marks out their brand and gives it class.

I applaud the New World vintners for the innovative and bold wine labels they have adopted. They brighten up the table, and I doubt they make people drink more wine. I do think that putting disgusting pictures on them would make people 'negative' toward them, however.

It would be a duller world if everything activists thought bad for us had to be sold in plain packaging. It would be less informative, and would deny us the intangible pleasures of associating with images and lifestyles we aspire to be part of. It would be a drabber world and one considerably less free.


Another "Green" car goes up in flames

In yet another example of a federally funded “green energy” failure, Fisker has confirmed that its Karma hybrid “burst into flames” in a California parking lot last Friday, in the words of Reuters.

The car was not charging at the time, and Fisker said the fire was not caused by problems with the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack, new technology components or exhaust routing.

A Fisker Karma driver from Woodside, California parked his hybrid at the grocery store… and after grabbing the items he needed, returned to the parking lot to find that his vehicle was on fire.
He called the manufacturer immediately, who then told him to call 911. The Woodside Fire Department arrived to put out the fire, saying there was considerable damage to the front left area of the car.

Fisker Automotive’s Karma is a plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan that goes for about $102,000 and up.

This fire is the second occurrence this year. Back in May 2012, a Karma plug-in was held responsible for a house fire in Houston, Texas. Before that, Fisker and A123 Systems, which is the battery maker for Fisker’s Karma, recalled over 200 batteries for the Karma. No fires had occurred at that point yet, but A123 Systems said that a poorly positioned hose clamp could potentially be the cause of such issues.

Fisker is currently investigating the cause of the fire, but does not yet have any concrete answers.

According to the New York Times, the government approved $529 million in guaranteed loans for the company, but it has still struggled to maintain its workforce, laying off 66 workers earlier this year.

Commenters have noted a number of interesting aspects about the story. “Ironic isn’t it? They put all their money in a car to have zero emissions. Now how [many pollutants] are being expelled as it burns?” one asked.

A Jalopnik reader added: “Wait. His first response to ‘oh dear, my exceedingly expensive car is on fire’ was to CALL FISKER? That…Is just not even something I can comprehend.”


Gov. Romney’s Statements on Global Warming Allow for Greater Scientific Skepticism

Gov. Mitt Romney has been talking a good game on energy policy. He will approve the Keystone XL Pipeline on his first day in office, and opposes the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) through the Clean Air Act. Those are all good signs from a free-market point of view.

But where the concept of man-made global warming is concerned, the Republican presidential nominee is not exactly a skeptic. In fact, as Investors Business Daily noted in an editorial, Romney once sought out advice from no less than President Obama’s science czar John Holdren, an anti-population zealot.

“Why Gov. Romney, a reasonable person, would pick such a man to advise him on anything is beyond us,” IBD lamented.

Although Romney has been sharply critical of anti-energy schemes advanced in the name of global warming, he has been reticent to challenge research that has been used to rationalize the policy proposals. This approach is problematic because it allows discredited global warming alarmists to frame the debate, Marc Morano, the editor of Climate Depot, has repeatedly warned.

Since it is always possible to cajole the political class and frighten the public into action that may not be in their best interests, Morano has long argued that free market groups should challenge environmentalists not only on economics, but also on the science.

“Obviously the economic side is very critical to the debate, but to uproot the environmental agenda you have to take on the science,” Morano has said.

In his 2010 book, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” Romney wrote “I believe that climate change is occurring — the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to factors out of our control.”

In subsequent interviews and statements, Romney has hued close to this position.

At a campaign stop in Pittsburgh, Pa., for example, the Republican candidate said the following when asked about global warming.

“My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” he said. “And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us. My view with regards to energy policy is pretty straightforward. I want us to become energy secure and independent of the oil cartels. And that means let’s aggressively develop our oil, our gas, our coal, our nuclear power.”

Since he has been careful to stop short of embracing alarmist rhetoric, there is ample opportunity for Romney to gravitate more in the direction of well-credentialed scientific skeptics who have been vindicated in recent months.

Morano, reports on his web site that over 1,000 scientists from across the globe are on record challenging the theory of man-made global warming. Moreover, there is the unfolding “climategate” scandal implicating researchers at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain.

This means the debate has shifted dramatically from where it was just a few months ago.

Within the skeptical scientific community, there are a range of views including some that closely correlate Romney’s recent statements. There are skeptics, for instance, who accept the idea that humanity has had some influence on the environment, but that influence stops well short of inducing catastrophic climate change, they have argued.

That should be where Romney goes. He is in position to gravitate toward a skeptical stance that questions the premise of man-made global warming theories. It would be both politically shrewd and scientifically sound.


Energy Resources Too Important To Waste

As state and federal lawmakers debate the country’s energy policies and Colorado’s role in the ever-expanding energy economy, let’s hope they remember that unnecessary regulations stifle growth while doing nothing for public safety or health. They would also be wise to listen to voter dissatisfaction regarding overly-burdensome regulations.

Every time Washington regulators pass down another heavy-handed rule or levy another hefty fine, Colorado loses potential jobs, revenue, and economic security. Our state has the resources to play a major role in the nation’s drive for cheap domestic energy, and it’s a shame when lawmakers get in the way.

The Centennial State is home to ten of the 100 largest natural gas fields in the United States, and three of the 100 largest oil fields. Increased production in Colorado’s Front Range is also expected to produce at least $50 million a year in tax revenue for the state.

Colorado’s collective shale deposits contain somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 trillion barrels of oil. That’s almost as much as the entire world’s proven oil reserves!

The benefits of these resources are real and tangible. In 2008, the refining industry employed about 570 people in Colorado. Those workers earned, on average, an annual pay of more than $150,000. In 2009, the oil and natural gas industries accounted for more than $10.2 billion in labor income, and contributed more than $20.4 billion to the state’s economy. It’s also worth pointing out that for every one oil industry-related job that is created in Colorado, another 3.3 jobs are created in related industries like trucking and pipeline construction.

What’s more – the refining, petrochemical, oil and gas industries have done a remarkable job of reducing their overall emissions by 71 percent since 1970. But despite this progress, new government regulations are imposing significant costs on business and consumers. Those costs will inevitably outweigh any potential environmental benefits by making it harder for energy producers and manufacturers to stay in business, which in turn threatens jobs and risks the long-term health of our nation’s economy.

Fortunately, most Americans embrace common-sense thinking when it comes to unnecessary regulatory burdens. In a national poll of likely voters conducted by MWR Strategies, 87 percent of Americans believe the federal government should allow enough time to determine if already-existing regulations are effective before trying to add more.

The survey also showed that most Americans harbor a deep skepticism of the federal regulatory process, with 89 percent of respondents saying that federal bureaucracy does a poor job of assessing the negative unintended consequences of regulations.

Even more telling is that fact that 77 percent said that federal bureaucrats need to adopt a more reasonable approach to the regulatory process. Another 65 percent agreed regulations usually come with more costs than benefits.

If those survey results seem surprising, they shouldn’t be. Consumers are affected every day by Washington’s heavy-handed regulatory process. Americans regularly pay more at the gas pump because of short-sighted regulations that require every gallon of gas to be blended with more and more corn-based ethanol. Ethanol is more expensive to make than petroleum-based gasoline and is less fuel efficient, which means higher gas prices and more trips to the pump to fill up our tanks.

The ethanol requirement is even more frustrating considering that while a major drought ravages the Midwest, nearly 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop this year will be committed to fulfill the ethanol mandate. That is, unless the EPA issues a waiver, which it shows no indication of doing. It makes little sense to continue diverting that much corn to make ethanol considering the impact rising corn prices have on every day consumer products. Frankly, we’d be much better off without it.

Coloradans need to work with policymakers in Washington to prevent unnecessary regulations from hindering growth in our vital oil and gas industries. Colorado ranks tenth among the 50 states in oil production, which is why it’s imperative we don’t let our resources go to waste.


Obama's Dirty Energy List

During a recent trip to Washington DC, I heard that “by the end of his second term, President Obama wants 40% of our natural resources to be imported.” Like Harry Reid’s “Bain Capital investor,” my source is reliable: a Capitol Hill staffer. While I do not have a secret White House memo to validate the premise, it explains a lot.


During his 2008 campaign, candidate Obama made it clear that he doesn’t have a problem with $4-a-gallon gas. His Energy Secretary is on record as having said that he thinks our gasoline prices should be more in line with those of Europe—which are typically more than double ours in the US. We know that supply issues are one of the leading drivers of higher gasoline prices, yet Obama’s policy decisions—such as Keystone—lead to reducing the resource.

In his first campaign ad of the season, President Obama touted his record on oil, claiming that we have more domestic production in America than at any time in recent history. While this is true, it is not thanks to his policies. The majority of the oil extraction is on private land, mostly thanks to North Dakota’s Bakken Field. The development that is being done on federal lands is thanks to leases made and wells permitted during the Bush administration.

New oil and gas leases and permits on federal land are down 50% under the Obama administration compared to the Clinton administration. Because of the time it takes to bring a federal lease into production (5-10 years)—especially with the Obama Department of Interior policies, he is likely setting the US up for an oil shortage (even without Middle Eastern unrest) by the end of a potential second term that will send gasoline prices past his acceptable $4 a gallon, toward Secretary Chu’s “European levels.” With a dearth of new American oil development, we’ll need to import more from places like Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.


Candidate Obama’s comment about bankrupting anyone wanting to build a coal-fueled power plant is now widely known. His EPA’s actions surely support the statement as we are seeing record power plant closures. But it is not just power generation that is under attack, it is the extraction of the source fuel: coal, as well. Earlier this year, the EPA’s decision to pull a legally issued coal-mining permit that had been through years of environmental impact studies and analysis was overturned by the US District Court. Last week, his EPA was shot down once again. On July 31, the DC district court sided with coal miners. The decision declared that the EPA’s insistence that water discharged from a coal mine be clearer than bottled water was an overreach and should not hold up new mining permits.

While blocking new coal mining will probably not cause the US to import coal, it will prevent us from exporting it. Currently coal is a major export—one of our few exports—that helps bring a balancing element to our trade deficit.

Rare Earth Elements

On March 13, President Obama announced that the US was joining with Japan and the European Union to file a trade complaint before the World Trade Organization in Brussels to insure that China keeps exporting rare-earth elements. These unique elements, with names like neodymium, europium and dysprosium are what the Japanese call the “seeds of technology” due to their astounding electrical, magnetic, phosphorescent, catalytic and chemical capabilities. While most Americans are unaware of their existence, rare earths enable everything high-tech we use today—from MRIs, cellphones and iPods to hybrid automobiles and wind turbines—and are extremely important to today’s high-tech defense capabilities.

President Obama is going after China because the Chinese produce more than 95% of all rare earths used in the world by high-tech industry, while sitting on only 23% of the world’s resources. Obama insists that the Chinese continue to ship rare earths to the rest of the world’s economies despite the fact that the Chinese require the use of essentially all of their rare-earth production in Chinese industries.

The Chinese had announced, in 2011, they could become net importers of some of the most critical rare earths by 2015. But in July, they said they would be importers a year sooner—in 2014. And on top of that, the Chinese are creating a national rare-earths stockpile, shutting down production from the worst polluters, and tacking on higher tariffs for those rare earths they will export.

We don’t need a protracted legal hassle in Brussels that won’t produce a single American job or a pound of rare earth produced from America. The solution is streamlined and accelerated permitting, recognizing that American miners and manufacturers employ the world’s best environmental scientists and engineers and geologists. Instead of paying lawyers to push paper in Brussels, we need to be creating jobs from mining and the upgrading of rare earths in America, providing a secure domestic source of these vital “seeds of technology.”

Land Access

Early in President Obama’s first term, he announced his intention to increase the quantity of national monuments and introduced a new “wild lands” designation—both of which serve to limit the extraction of natural resources. Two such cases I’ve repeatedly addressed are the proposed tungsten mine in Montana and the swath of land that extends from the Mexican border up into rich farming/ranching land that also includes potential oil, gas, and rare-earth extraction in New Mexico.

In the Montana case, the Forest Service continually throws obstacles to extraction in the way of potential mining activity. Because the tungsten—needed for the manufacture of steel—is located in an inventoried roadless area, the Forest Service has mandated that, among other things, the site must be cleared and, later reclaimed, with hand tools. The drilling equipment must be hauled to the site with a team of pack mules which must be fed certified weed-free hay—all this to move equipment less than 1000 feet from a Forest Service road. If the case were not so tragic, so representative of similar stories being played out all over America, it would be comical.

In the New Mexico case, ranchers and farmers fear being thrown off of land that has been in their family for generations. With a simple stroke of President Obama’s executive-order pen he could remove 2.5 million acres—though 600,000 is the number generally bandied about—from any economic development or useful purpose by creating a new national monument.

Natural Gas

Currently the verbiage coming out of the White House favors natural gas extraction—but actions speak louder than words. America’s newfound natural gas abundance is made possible through the use of multi-stage hydraulic fracturing—which Obama’s EPA has, unsuccessfully, been trying to link to the contamination of drinking water. Plus, we know that much of Obama’s energy policy is driven by an environmentalist agenda—with the Keystone pipeline being the most obvious example.

A few weeks ago, the Sierra Club announced its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign attacking natural gas, saying “The natural gas industry is dirty, dangerous and running amok,” and “the closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears; and the less of it we burn, the better off we will be.” With this in mind, by the end of an Obama second term, we can expect the availability of natural gas to be diminished—and what we will have will be far more expensive, driving up the price of what is currently low-cost electricity generation.


We may not think of electricity as a natural resource, but effective, efficient, economical electricity generation requires natural resources: coal, natural gas, uranium, and, occasionally, oil. Uranium is the source fuel for nuclear power and we have an abundance of it in America—yet we import more than 90% of what we use. A couple of days ago, it was announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “would stop issuing licenses for nuclear plants until it addresses problems with its nuclear-waste policy.” The “problems with nuclear-waste” are a direct result of White House policy. The Obama administration effectively shut down Yucca Mountain with a 2009 decision to reduce Yucca Mountain’s budget. This new problem for nuclear power has the potential to impact many US reactors.

In Germany, they used to export their nuclear-generated electricity. Since they shut down nearly half of their reactors, they are importing electricity from other countries.

More Exports

Former Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee has been out talking about getting the economy “revved up.” Part of his solution? “More exports.” Yet, as you can see, the Obama plan seems to call for more natural resource imports. 40% by 2016 adds up.

The countries with the best human health and the most material wealth are the countries with the highest energy consumption. So, why is it that Obama’s policies push us to use less energy, while paying more for it?

As we head toward the November 6 Election Day, keep in mind the stark contrast the satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula at night points out—the country without freedom, North Korea, is dark. With nothing separating them but an invisible line and a vastly different style of government, South Korea, the free-market, democratic, and developed country is bright.

Which do you want?

Do you want a bright future badly enough to step out of your comfort zone and talk to friends, family and neighbors; to talk to them about energy and its importance? Take the points made here and share them in good, old-fashioned conversations, and through new media like Facebook and Twitter.

We are down to 86 days to save America. Can we do it? With your engagement, “yes, we can!”



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


14 August, 2012

Claim that Arctic sea ice could disappear within 10 years as global warming increases speed of melting -- but so what?

It's junior school physics that the melting of floating ice has no effect on the water-level. And they are not comparing like with like below anyway. They are comparing data from submarines with recent satellite data

Arctic sea ice is melting at a faster rate than previously believed, a group of scientists have claimed. The European Space Agency say that new satellites they are using have revealed that 900 cubic kilometres of ice have disappeared over the last year.

This is 50 per cent higher than the current estimates from environmentalists, they claim.

It is suggested that the increase is down to global warming and rising greenhouse gas emissions. [Funny that there has been NO global warming for 15 years, though! Better suggestion, please]

The entire region could be eventually free of ice if the estimates prove accurate. This would trigger a 'gold rush' for oil reserves and fish stocks in the region.

'Preliminary analysis of our data indicates that the rate of loss of sea ice volume in summer in the Arctic may be far larger than we had previously suspected,' said Dr Seymour Laxon, of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at University College London (UCL), where CryoSat-2 data is being analysed, told the Observer.

The scientists launched the CryoSat-2 probe in 2010 specifically to study ice thickness. Until then most studies had focused on the coverage of the ice.

Submarines were also sent into the water to analyse the ice. The methods are said to have given a picture of changes in the ice around the north pole since 2004.

The study revealed that the depth of ice had also been decreasing in addition to the amount of sea it stretched across.

Data from the exploration shows that in winter 2004, the volume of sea ice in the central Arctic was approximately 17,000 cubic km. This winter it was 14,000 km, according to CryoSat.


Markets, not mandates, are the key to sustainable development

What exactly is sustainable development? Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, speaking at the United Nations' Stockholm Conference in 1972, described it as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Today's advocates of sustainable development, however, take a more short-sighted view of the concept. They believe resources are necessarily finite; thus, they call for caps on human activity. These advocates are asking for a return to a pre-industrial mindset - a path that will result in massive depopulation, poverty, and inequality.

The conventional interpretation of sustainability, proposed long ago by the Reverend Thomas Malthus, has since been translated into the simple equation I = PAT. Man's Footprint, I, equals P times A times T. P is population (the more people, the more stress); A is affluence (the more wealth, the heavier the footprint per person); and T is technology (the risks of innovation, which are greater than the risks of stagnation).

This Malthusian perspective is spectacularly wrong. Population growth is addressed through technological advances. More people do not increase the stress on resources since human advancement in technology makes us more efficient in our resource use. That is the ultimate resource - people's ability to adapt and innovate, which leads to an actual decrease in stress on the planet despite population increases.

Affluence frees individuals' time through technological breakthroughs. "Work-time" is the amount of time that people have to work in order to afford goods. As W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm of Southern Methodist University concluded, "over just the past 27 years, consumers have benefited from work-time declines of 60% for dishwashers, 56% for vacuum cleaners, 40% for refrigerators and 39% for lawn mowers." These tools increase our wealth and cost less time to obtain. Of course, new materials were required for these tools, but the result was more, not fewer overall resources.

Dr. Indur M. Goklany has noted that to produce the same amount of food in 1993 with the agricultural technology of 1961, we would go from using 34% to 61% of the Earth's land surface. Were that to occur, much of the world's wildlife and flora would be gone. The various green revolutions - mechanization, pesticides, and bio-engineered crops - all made the world far more productive, better fed, and more environmentally diverse, even as population exploded.

Economic growth and technological progress have lightened our environmental footprint in important ways. People do more than simply consume resources; they also create new wealth and resources where none previously existed. Sustainability emerges from these social interactions, which encourage firms and individuals to use existing resources more efficiently and find new ways of meeting human needs.

True sustainability comes from capitalism. Consider the role of energy over the last few centuries. Few companies will invest if they could only make a profit for one year. Firms owe their shareholders the responsibility to ensure energy will remain available as years progress. Therefore, firms continuously hunt for new resources while avoiding activities that might deplete all the oil at once.

Because energy is integrated in the global market, firms have steadily improved their energy efficiency. According to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency grew 0.9% annually from 1990 to 2005. That trend resulted in fuel and electricity cost savings of at least $180 billion by 2005 - despite massive increases in energy use during the preceding decade and a half. While experts continue to predict we've reached "peak production" of energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas, these "peaks" have yet to materialize.

Multinational corporations often happily carry the mantle of sustainability. It buys positive public relations, and, more importantly, it sometimes communicates publicly what the firm is already attempting to achieve. In markets, people cooperate and innovate to create sustainable supply for consumer demand. True sustainability has nothing to do with Malthusian doomsday predictions. Sustainability means progress: the onward and upward movement of a society that is making itself healthier, wealthier, faster and stronger.


Ooops! Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs Damage Skin

The curlicue compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) oft touted as an Earth-friendly alternative to standard incandescent bulbs may cause skin damage, according to a new study by researchers at Stony Brook University.

The bulbs are already known to pose hazards from using mercury, a toxic element, though in very small quantities, as lighting manufacturers are quick to point out. Regulations in parts of the United States and in the European Union limit mercury to 3.5 milligrams per bulb, with the limit dropping to 2.5 mg next year.

Now researchers have found that ultraviolet radiation seeping through CFLs may damage skin cells. Miriam Rafailovich, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stony Brook, led the research after reading an article in an Israeli newspaper that reported a spike in skin cancer on a communal farm when residents switched to fluorescent bulbs.

"In the past two years some disturbing reports have surfaced mostly in the European Union literature, which indicate that exposure to CFL bulbs might be responsible for exacerbating certain skin conditions, such as photodermatoses and skin cancer in humans," says the paper, published last month in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology.

The issue comes from how CFLs are designed. Fluorescent lamps, large and compact, work by using electricity to excite mercury vapor inside the bulb. The excited vapor then emits invisible ultraviolet light that is absorbed by the bulb's phosphor coating. In turn, the coating re-emits the energy as visible light.

But researchers found UV light leaks more from CFLs compared to standard fluorescent tubes because the small diameter of the glass coupled with its twists and turns creates more spaces where the phosphor coating chips away, letting more UV light escape.

Past studies indicated that UV emissions from CFLs could harm previously damaged tissue and worsen chronic skin conditions, but researchers were curious about what these lamps do to healthy skin. To find out, the scientists studied two types of skin cells: keratinocytes, which make up 95 percent of the outermost layer of skin, and dermal fibroblasts, which form the connective tissue underneath.

Using CFL bulbs from different manufacturers purchased from retailers on Long Island, the team exposed cultured skin cells in a petri dish to the bulbs mounted in a desk lamp from different distances for varying periods. The team measured how much UV light was emitted and then assessed how the cells responded.

Under CFLs, the experiments showed cells stopped growing and changed shape. Dermal fibroblasts suffered worse than keratinocytes, since they are usually not exposed to light. This indicates these bulbs can damage skin in several layers.


Bureaucratic Green Chemistry

California bureaucrats recently released their proposed regulations implementing the state’s 2009-passed “green chemistry” law. The law supposedly will make life safer for California residents by ensuring that all products are designed to be “green.”

But it is destined to fail — costing consumers without delivering benefits — because policymakers foolishly assume that bureaucrats are better situated than business to decide what makes a product safe. It’s the same fatal conceit on which the Soviets once based their failed economic policies.

California’s green chemistry initiative goes beyond basic safety regulations. Regulators will impact product formulations and designs by listing both chemicals and products on “concern” lists based on largely political, rather than scientific grounds. Such listings will send signals to consumers and manufacturers to avoid these chemicals and products. In addition, regulators will force some companies to study alternative formulations and redesign products — even when there is no sound science demonstrating any serious health or safety risks.

In that case, rather than maintain focus on product performance, affordability, safety, and consumer demand when designing products, manufacturers will be forced to serve the political preferences of the regulators. The final products will be inferior, and ironically, potentially less safe.

Still, some people argue that we should at least seek substitutes to “be on the safe side.” They forget that every product on the market prevailed because it was the best to perform the job at an acceptable price at the time. Politically driven substitutes will always be inferior.

Banning safe, useful products simply wastes investment that went into designing them, discourages innovators who fear similar repercussions, and diverts resources from useful enterprises into production of second, best substitutes.


The Jatropha mirage fades

There have been several corporate failures in recent months as the claims of some land grabbers – and of the people selling them land – have rubbed up against reality. Many involve the new supposed wonder-crop, jatropha, whose berries can be made into biodiesel. Native farmers have always regarded it as a weed – now it looks as if they were right.

In March last year, International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien went to Mozambique to bang the drum for Sun Biofuels, a British company growing jatropha there, but the oil yields have been poor. Five months after the ministerial tour, Sun Biofuels went into administration.

There are plenty of rogues, too, ripping off investors here as well as African villagers. At their offices in Twickenham, West London, I met would-be jatropha profiteers Philip Peters and Lawrie Smith.

They told me about their 99-year lease on farmland in the tiny West African state of Togo. Heaven knows how they got the land, but their company, Greenleaf Global, was sub-leasing five-acre plots to small investors. I could have one for £6,000, they said. Greenleaf would plant my jatropha and harvest my profit for me.

I was right not to be tempted. In April, a British court ordered the company into compulsory liquidation after Government investigators found ‘a clear intention to mislead would-be investors’. The company had lied about its harvests. Promises of a 20 per cent return were ‘not evidence-based’. The scam had been nipped in the bud, but investors had lost about £8 million.


Greenies look forward to your "showering behavior" being monitored

Quite Orwellian

In the future, don’t expect any privacy. Every move, every purchase, even every thought — as personality profiling becomes more sophisticated — will be observed, logged, and analyzed. Big Brother will certainly be watching us.

We might expect our shopping and showering behaviors to be tracked as part of our individual carbon budgets. As you drive around a city, your combined congestion and pollution charge could vary depending on which route you take, on the time of day, and on how much you add to local air pollution. Globally, important conservation sites might be guarded, not by fences or rangers, but by remote sensors and cameras, monitored by teams of volunteers on the other side of the planet.

On current trends, this surveillance society seems bound to happen. In some ways, it is already with us. The U.K. already has more CCTV cameras per capita than any European country — an estimated 4 million in total — and the government recently announced plans for radically increased internet surveillance in the Queen’s Speech.

What does this mean for sustainability? Will this monitoring capacity be used to improve stewardship of natural resources? Or to prompt more responsible lifestyle choices? Or will it result in a more passive population, for whom daily decisions are made by algorithms based on past personal preferences and current resource efficiency?

I think that more monitoring and data about ecosystems and biodiversity will largely be a good thing. Who wouldn’t want clearer information of what’s happening in our oceans, with every ship and ferry carrying a sampling device? Who would disagree with better tracing, verification and policing of commercial logging or fishing? Who would argue against using remote sensing for improved disaster prevention and response? Remember, the global climate change frameworks will require robust systems of verification for carbon markets to work.

Yet surveillance will also, inevitably, be directed at individuals — particularly since much of it is done under justification of the fight against terrorism. Government and business will get much better at correlating a lot of data from various sources in order to profile people in much greater detail. Given that it is, on the whole, our individual choices and behaviors that lead to environmental damage, there is a logical argument for using such data to encourage different choices.

Governments will certainly make use of surveillance — to maintain security and raise taxes, as well as to implement environmental regulation. Businesses will use it to guarantee their supply chains or know their customers better. And civil society, too, will draw on data to hold others to account.

Twenty-five years ago, in the U.S., the Toxics Release Inventory showed that disclosing information about chemical pollution could spur communities to campaign and pressure for improvements. Twenty-five years hence, citizens across the world could be using data to compare their environmental footprints, to interrogate company supply chains or to monitor compliance with global environmental agreements.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


13 August, 2012

VP Candidate Paul Ryan: Climatologists “Intentionally Mislead The Public On Climate Change”

We all know that Romney is wishy-washy when it comes climate change science, and that us so-called skeptics were not at ease with that. Well, now you can cast your worries aside.

Over the last hours there’s been a lot of buzz out in the media that Paul Ryan has been chosen as Romney’s running mate. Confirmation of that is still pending. If true, that means we have a VP candidate who is a pretty solid skeptic when it comes to catastrophic manmade global warming. Romney is obviously comfortable with that and is using Ryan to reposition himself on the issue of global warming and energy.

What is Ryan’s position on climate science? Here’s what Paul Ryan wrote less than 3 years ago:
To the detriment of the American people, environmental issues have fallen victim to the hyper-politicization of science. The Journal Times editorial board sensibly cautioned both sides of the political divide against this unfortunate trend (“Science must trump spin,” The Journal Times, 12/3/09).

At issue in the Journal Times’ recent editorial and on the minds of many Copenhagen observers are published e-mail exchanges from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). These e-mails from leading climatologists make clear efforts to use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.

The CRU e-mail scandal reveals a perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion. The e-mail scandal has not only forced the resignation of a number of discredited scientists, but it also marks a major step back on the need to preserve the integrity of the scientific community. While interests on both sides of the issue will debate the relevance of the manipulated or otherwise omitted data, these revelations undermine confidence in the scientific data driving the climate change debates.”

Here’s a list of Ryan’s other climate and energy accomplishments:

- voted to eliminate EPA Limits On Greenhouse Gases. [Roll Call 249, 4/7/11].

- voted to block the USDA from implementing its climate raindance. [Roll Call 448, 6/16/11].

- voted to eliminate the assistant to the president for energy and climate change, the special envoy for climate change (Todd Stern), and the special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation. [Roll Call 87, 2/17/11].

- voted to eliminate ARPA-E. [Roll Call 55, 2/17/11].

- voted to eliminate the ban of incandescent light bulbs. [Roll Call 563, 7/12/11]

- voted for Keystone XL. In 2011, Ryan voted for the construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline. [Roll Call 650, 7/26/11]

- Paul Ryan’s FY 2013 budget resolution retained a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while slashing subsidies in alternative energy research. The plan called for a $3 billion cut in energy programs in FY 2013 alone. [CAP, 3/20/12].

You can read how Ryan voted on every energy and environment issue here. Expect the debate on climate to gain traction in the campaign in the weeks ahead. We welcome it!


The latest electic car

The Renault Twizy has all the cons but none of the pros of a bicycle, says Neil Lyndon from London

The Renault Twizy was to be delivered to the house of friends in London with whom I was staying for the night. We were out at dinner when the car was unloaded.

Excited chatter and laughter were resounding in the night air as we turned into my friends’ street. Mobile phone cameras were flashing. Few cars could draw such a throng. People who would not even notice a Ferrari were elbowing to get a better look inside this tiny, high-domed two-seater that makes a Smart car look like a lorry.

It helped the crowd nosing around that my Twizy had doors but no windows; cheaper versions have no sides at all. As it was so evidently unsafe to park on the street, my friends asked the vicar of the church opposite to open his gated car park. I then had to insert my large body into the midget Twizy through its scissor door and figure out how to get it going, which made everyone fall about. The stages of start-up for this all-electric vehicle are obvious, as is the push-button transmission selector on the dashboard that simply offers D for a single-speed drive, N for neutral and R for reverse. But it took me about three minutes to wangle the parking-brake free, during which one of the audience declared that this show was better than the movies.

It’s fair to say, then, that life with a Twizy is one hassle after another – as it proved the next day when I took it out on the streets of London.

I had asked to borrow it while I was in London for the Olympics, thinking that such a tiny quadricycle, with a top range of 60 miles and a recharge time of three and a half hours, would be ideal for negotiating the clogged city streets. Wrong. Its makers describe the Twizy as being “unlike anything else on the road” but, to my mind, it combines all the most troublesome aspects of car, motorbike and bicycle.

Its four wheels outside its body mean that you may not drive in the bus lane. Those wide-set wheels also prevent you from threading through lines of stationary cars like a two-wheeler. The Twizy is so tiny that three could probably fit into a standard parking bay, but that’s not allowed either: each Twizy incurs a normal car’s charge. Its rear-mounted electric motor produces zero carbon emissions, making it exempt from London Congestion Charging and road tax, but that’s true of a bicycle, too, and you would not be much more exposed to the elements on a bicycle than in the open-sided Twizy.

Nippy and manoeuvrable though it is, the Twizy was far slower on my trip to the Olympic Park than my massive BMW R1200 RT motorbike would have been. My bike would also have been more comfortable and warmer. The Twizy lacks any heater or radio; the R1200 RT has both. The bike easily negotiates sleeping policemen; the Twizy hits them full square, with an impact through the uncushioned tandem seats like a kick in the pants.

Bus passengers enjoyed staring down into the Twizy so it’s an incomparable platform for narcissism; but, as a form of transport, you might be better off on foot with an umbrella.


Windmill caused huge and dangerous forest fire

With County Supervisors poised to consider approval of Tule Wind and a wind ordinance that could open much of fire-prone East County to wind energy development, a wildland fire that started at a wind turbine facility in Riverside County last month provides fuel for opponents concerned about fire risks posed by industrial-scale wind projects. “The fire started with the windmill itself,” Captain Greg Ewing with Cal Fire/Riverside Fire Department informed ECM today.

Despite extensive area cleared around the base of each turbine, Ewing said, the blaze still spread into a wildland fire that swiftly engulfed 367 acres. If not for prompt reporting by a witness, it could have been far worse.

According to Cal Fire's report on the incident, The View Fire occurred in the Whitewater area east of Cabazon in Riverside County on June 17, 2012 at a wind facility near Cottonwood Road and Desert View. A caller who dialed 911 initially reported seeing flames and “one confirmed windmill on fire” at 9:15 p.m.

By 9:33 p.m., CHP stated it had received multiple reports that there were “several windmills on fire” along with a ridgeline near I-10 and Haughen-Lehmann Way. Callers also reporting “popping loud noises” as the turbines burned. Both ground crews and aircraft battled the blaze.

Residents in the box canyon were evacuated, including 90-year-old Barbara York, who had time to grab only an overnight bag. York was “frantic,” the Desert Sun reported at the time.

At 12:34 a.m. on June 18, Cal Fire’s report on the fire indicates that a request had been made for Edison, since power lines had caught fire in the middle of the wind turbines. More than 100 firefighters fought the fire through the night.

The blaze was ultimately stopped at 367 acres, including 100 acres of public lands on Bureau of Land Management property. The final report blames “equipment”, specifically a “generator” and “arcing” for the fire.

Asked directly whether the generator that caused the fire was an actual wind turbine, Captain Ewing confirmed, “Yes ma’am.” He also confirmed that ground had been cleared around the base of each turbine, the blaze swiftly spread to become a wildland fire despite those precautions. Captain Ewing did not know the precise cause of the turbine malfunction. “Several companies lease the land,” he noted. “Other companies own the windmills and others service them.”

It only takes one wildfire to scorch hundreds of thousands of acres, putting homes and lives at risk, as San Diegans well know. Is that a risk worth taking, for the promise or renewable energy from wind?

When comparing the viability of wind to other options such as rooftop or parking lot solar, should the potential costs of firefighting--as well as potential liabilities for damages to property and lost lives--be factored into determining projects' long-term costs and benefits?

Homeowners near the View Fire were fortunate that a witness spotted the fire and reported it promptly, before homes or lives were lost. What happens if a turbine fire occurs in a remote East County location in the middle of the night? Will flames engulf homes, or in the case of Tule Wind, campsites in the path of the fire? Could the County be held liable if wind turbines that it approves cause a devastating wildfire?

These are troubling questions that deserve satisfactory answers.


Just what we need: A professor of peace to tell us all about The Great Drought of 2012

Peaceniks have always been a blinkered lot but this guy is blinkered to the point of utter blindness. If the drought in some parts of the USA is caused by global warming, how come many other parts of the world (e.g. Britain, China) have been having big troubles with flooding? Doesn't global warming cause drought there? If not, why not? He may talk about global phenomena but his mental world is clearly limited to America. Some people would call that ethnocentrism, a relative of racism

If earth continues heating at its exponential rate, our post-apocalyptic fantasies could become everyday realities

The Great Drought of 2012 has yet to come to an end, but we already know that its consequences will be severe. With more than one-half of America’s counties designated as drought disaster areas, the 2012 harvest of corn, soybeans, and other food staples is guaranteed to fall far short of predictions. This, in turn, will boost food prices domestically and abroad, causing increased misery for farmers and low-income Americans and far greater hardship for poor people in countries that rely on imported U.S. grains.

This, however, is just the beginning of the likely consequences: if history is any guide, rising food prices of this sort will also lead to widespread social unrest and violent conflict.

Food — affordable food — is essential to human survival and well-being. Take that away, and people become anxious, desperate, and angry. In the United States, food represents only about 13% of the average household budget, a relatively small share, so a boost in food prices in 2013 will probably not prove overly taxing for most middle-and upper-income families. It could, however, produce considerable hardship for poor and unemployed Americans with limited resources. “You are talking about a real bite out of family budgets,” commented Ernie Gross, an agricultural economist at Omaha’s Creighton University. This could add to the discontent already evident in depressed and high-unemployment areas, perhaps prompting an intensified backlash against incumbent politicians and other forms of dissent and unrest.

It is in the international arena, however, that the Great Drought is likely to have its most devastating effects. Because so many nations depend on grain imports from the U.S. to supplement their own harvests, and because intense drought and floods are damaging crops elsewhere as well, food supplies are expected to shrink and prices to rise across the planet. “What happens to the U.S. supply has immense impact around the world,” says Robert Thompson, a food expert at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. As the crops most affected by the drought, corn and soybeans, disappear from world markets, he noted, the price of all grains, including wheat, is likely to soar, causing immense hardship to those who already have trouble affording enough food to feed their families.


Not all packaging is "superfluous"

By Michael Zacka – President and CEO of Tetra Pak, United States and Canada

When it comes to packaging—which is Tetra Pak’s business—there are many lessons about the environment to embrace and confront in our personal race to the top. We are faced with new ones daily that need to be addressed. But one of the most persistent issues we battle is an ironic and common misconception: many consumers assume that less packaging or no packaging is always the best answer for the environment. That may be true of most products, but there are reasons food packaging is different, as a recent blog in the Harvard Business Review points out.

Packaging actually protects the environment and conserves resources, when you consider that “globally, about a third of the food produced for human consumption goes to waste—which means that the water, land use, energy and financial resources that went into producing it are also squandered,” notes author Kristin Heist. Yet “the energy that goes into packaging makes up just 10 percent of the total energy that goes into producing, transporting, storing and preparing food. When packaging prevents food waste even a little, it can have a major positive impact on the environment.”

Or, one-fifth of all beef produced ends up as waste. Beef store-wrapped in butcher paper has a one-to-three day shelf life, while beef sealed in plastic at the processing plant has a shelf life of up to 21 days, notes Heist.

Similarly, 2 percent of all milk goes bad on U.S. supermarket shelves before it’s purchased, according to the blog post. But milk in Tetra Pak’s aseptic cartons, which is how milk is commonly sold in Europe and Asia, will last up to six months unrefrigerated.

As far back as 1951, our company’s founder believed that a package should save more than it costs and be made from minimal amount of materials. Over 60 years later, cartons continue to be one of the most sustainable solutions in the market, lighter than traditional packaging, and a more efficient fit in trucks—which can save on transportation costs and CO2 emissions by taking vehicles off the road. Our packages are mostly made from paper, a renewable resource, and don’t require refrigeration for transportation or storage. And our filling and processing machines save water, use fewer chemicals and conserve energy. Finally, we are doing everything possible to increase consumer access to carton recycling, which admittedly still lags behind metal and glass recycling.

Going beyond the limited reach of laws and regulations to preserve our environment for coming generations will require ethical business leaders who are willing to get out in front to become part of the solution, and listen to those informed and active consumers. Sustainability is the opposite of a pyramid scheme: it is listening and collaborating to find solutions, and laying a true foundation we can build on for the future.


Some advantages of being an ageing conservative white male

by Steven Kates

Robert Manne knows no more about climate science than I do. It’s been an issue since the 1970s and I have been following it with the kind of interest anyone following political issues is apt to take. And the more it rose to become one of the centrepieces of the left, the more I kept a watchful eye on how it would develop. Manne has now written an article in The Monthly for August, “A Dark Victory” with its subtitle the actual main point, “How Vested Interests Defeated Climate Science”.

The gist of what he wrote is that here is this scientific theory that is so well attested to by every reputable authority across the globe that if the human race had any sense at all it would be rushing in every direction to save itself from the impending threats created by greenhouse gases. And up until a few years ago the threats had been so well recognised that actual steps were being taken to rescue ourselves from this disastrous outcome but then, just as reason was about to prevail, those with power, money and influence on the right side of the political spectrum came along and changed the climate of opinion so that now we are far less likely to take the necessary steps we were about to take only a handful of years before. We will, in time, be cursed by our descendants (p29) for not having taken the appropriate measures while there was still time. Instead we are potentially heading for the fate predicted by NASA’s James Hansen where, as described by Manne, “inevitably all the polar ice on Earth will melt, raising the level of the oceans by 75 metres and turning the planet into an alien, barren and unrecognisable place.” (p22)

The issue raised by Manne is not, however, whether global warming a genuine problem. That is done and settled. The question he wishes to raise is how the tide was turned so that the climate action that seemed so inevitable has now receded to the point where it is clear nothing at all is going to be done by anyone. And it turns out that it is a combination of right wing think tanks using near on unlimited amounts of money from conservative sources to sow doubt by raising scepticism as a legitimate point of view. It is the disgraceful manufacturing of doubt (p24) in a political environment where according to Manne:

"a rational citizen has little alternative but to accept the consensual core position of climate scientists. Discussion of the point should long ago have ended. That it has not is the most persuasive possible example of the feebleness of reason, the futility of argument and the failure of politics. (p23)"

All very well, but unless you are going to shut down political debate, end all argument and allow whatever temporary consensus that may exist at some moment in time to persist for ever without possibility of change, this is how it must be. Because when all is said and done, the answers given by climate scientists are nothing more than the commencement of a series of political questions. Whatever communal decisions we make must be filtered through the political process. And therefore we all get to participate in the debate, whether we are, to use Manne’s own classification, sceptics, contrarians or denialists, the three forms of unreason he lists.

But what really had me take notice was this:

"Ageing conservative white males are many times more likely than any other segment of the population to be denialists. (p28)"

Being myself an ageing conservative white male[1] I found myself, and not for the first time, dwelling on my refusal to have at any time accepted the arguments of the global warming crowd. I have followed the debates and read the literature and listened to the scientists and have come out of it unconvinced. It turns out that I am part of that one band, that single stratum that has resisted all such arguments. It naturally warmed me to my fellow ageing conservative white male cohort but you do have to wonder why we have been singled out in this way either for our blindness to reality or for our ability to see through a sham and a con.

Now I must accept that I have been white and male all my life, but I have not always been aged and, along with many others of the post-war generation I belong to, have not always been conservative. But to have lived through the 1960s did provide an opportunity to reflect on many a scam in the name of science that has left me, and possibly many others, with a jaundiced eye of sorts when I hear fantastic claims about science and what it has shown. Those younger than us have, unfortunately for them, never had the opportunity of being subjected to the kinds of nonsense that we, when young, were surrounded by on all sides. I won’t get the order right, but allow me to go through some of the major stages along the way towards a sceptical outlook that I value as part of my own lessons in life. Whether with global warming this well developed scepticism to the fantastic and implausible is letting me down and making it impossible to see reality as it is seen by Robert Manne and others of his tribe is just how it is. We are what we are, just as he is what he is. We can be no other.

Paul Ehrlich and The Population Bomb

There is, firstly, Paul Ehrlich and The Population Bomb (1968). This, his most famous book, starts with his most famous statement.

"The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate."

Needless to say, none of this happened nor have his “scientific” credentials been tarnished a whit. He has apparently just this year in 2012 been made Fellow of the Royal Society of London. Right, wrong? Who cares? On he goes with nary a pause. Good luck to him but for me it was one of those lessons in science in that the word of a “scientist” is not gospel and the more fad-like those beliefs are, the more resistant you should become. Mass acceptance of the implausible is a sign not so much that a theory is valid but that it fills some psychological need in those who take it up.

The Club of Rome

Related to Ehrlich and population had been the debate over oil depletion along with our other natural resources. This has been a perennial going back to William Stanley Jevons in the nineteenth century who had argued that the world would soon run out of coal. Oil is now the resource that is most frequently cited as the likely candidate for exhaustion but so far, if anything, these hydrocarbon sources keep expanding. It is a staple of economic theory that there will always be no more than around twenty years of proven supply available since once there are twenty years’ worth around, it is pointless to find any more since any new deposit would not be needed for at least another 21 years.

The centre for this argument was provided by what is called “The Club of Rome”. This is from the “Club of Rome” Wikipedia entry:

"It consists of current and former Heads of State, UN bureaucrats, high-level politicians and government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists, and business leaders from around the globe. . . .

The Club of Rome raised considerable public attention with its report Limits to Growth, which has sold 12 million copies in more than 30 translations, making it the best-selling environmental book in world history. Published in 1972 and presented for the first time at the International Students' Committee (ISC) annual Management Symposium in St. Gallen, Switzerland, it predicted that economic growth could not continue indefinitely because of the limited availability of natural resources, particularly oil."

I have kept my watching brief on this as well which has been a constant thrum ever since its founding in the 1960s. And in all of these forty years, economic growth has never yet been hindered by resource depletion at any time in any place. All that this has done is add to my resistance of theories of catastrophe which grows more resistant every year that none of these scare stories turns out to have been even remotely true.

Global Cooling

Nor should I neglect the global cooling argument of the 1970s. The planet was cooling and we were heading into an ice age. Here is the first paragraph from a report in Newsweek published on April 28, 1975. The report was titled “The Cooling World”.

"There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. The regions destined to feel its impact are the great wheat-producing lands of Canada and the U.S.S.R. in the North, along with a number of marginally self-sufficient tropical areas – parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indochina and Indonesia – where the growing season is dependent upon the rains brought by the monsoon." (Source:

The same thing as now, only with the reverse direction in temperatures. It didn’t last long since average temperatures have since the mid-1970s begun to rise instead of fall. But if you were not told that this passage was about falling temperatures, you might have thought it was from the latest IPCC Report.


But then possibly the most instructive example of them all was the threat of Y2K. Just a joke today but taken seriously at the time was the concern pushed by every computer scientist in the world, that with the turning of the century from 1999 into 2000, computer clocks would all mistake the actual date for 1900. The story went that when computers were first being engineered, the amount of disc space was so restricted that only two digits were used for the year. Therefore as the date ticked over from 99 to 00, rather than going forward in time, many computers would fall back into the past. The error would then lead to major discord in computer run technologies.

Who knows how many millions were then spent on trying to rectify this problem and who knows how much money was made by all those computer scientists in fixing computer programs. I knew of no computer scientist who was in any way sceptical. A genuine problem we were told. And on New Years eve 2000 there was not a plane flying anywhere in the world. Since no one could be certain, and since it only involved in the first instance a few hours of downtime, it was not all that costly to avoid the risk. However, by that same afternoon, everyone was flying again and since then not a word, and no apology either. This is the closest cousin to global warming in that the collective expertise of the world assured us there was a problem to fix and that it would cost heaps of money to do. So heaps of money was spent and here we are with nothing to show for it other than a number of computer scientists living in somewhat larger houses than they might otherwise have done.

So Why Would I Not be Sceptical?

So this is the kind of background we ageing conservative white males bring to the global warming debate. In my view, the world is a better place because of this scepticism. We probe and mistrust all of those gung ho science types who think that their creaky shifting models are all that’s needed for the rest of us to fall into line with their recommendations. We have heard it all before. We are not buying this on the say so of a bunch of climate scientists who are no more informed about the future than computer scientists were in 1999 or the Club of Rome in the 1970s or Paul Ehrlich in the 1960s. You have models and you have your beliefs. Fine, but let’s really test them, make sure they stand up under the pressures that they need to withstand if we are going to take the kinds of drastic actions you seem to recommend.

Because it is also the case that what I, as an ageing conservative white male, understand more than anything else is that if you give these people power to deal with this confected emergency they will never willingly give it back. They will want to run your life for the good of the planet as they seek out and find even more reasons to add to their power and ask for ever more money to find the cure. They argue that the risks are infinitely high and therefore the only answer is to pay an almost infinitely high price to forestall this potential climate catastrophe.

Robert Manne may well see in James Hansen a reborn St Francis of Assisi but all I see is another Uri Geller. He may see climate scientists as the most noble and selfless conclave since the Knights of the Roundtable but what I see are a bunch of rent seekers looking for the next government grant.

As an ageing conservative white male my hope is to pass on to the next generation a world of rising prosperity and greater personal freedom. It is not a small matter that to follow the Robert Mannes of the world would mean that we would leave behind a world far less prosperous and far less free than it is today. Manne treats these as if they are trivial matters, that given the speculations of these climate scientists, thinking about the effects on our standard of living or on personal freedom should be mere dust on the balance, given virtually no weight at all.

Well I have news for him and the rest. We are not going to give up our way of life, our personal freedoms and our prosperity on the say so of those who seem to care nothing at all for these considerations or even seem to be unaware that they are an integral and important part of this debate. These are considerations that constitute the conservative element found in that ageing conservative white male classification. Tell me just which freedoms I should put at risk and how much the future wealth of the world ought to be diminished to pander to these climate change fantasists. Manne and the rest of the global warming crowd will have to be a lot more convincing than they have so far been before I sign on to a program that will put at risk a very great deal that I care about in the social order we have taken many centuries to create and to do so in exchange for no obvious benefit of any kind that I so far have been able to see.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


12 August, 2012

Rip up your lawns, they're as bad as gas-guzzlers, says British gardening expert

If your lush green lawn is your pride and joy, you should be feeling a little bit guilty, at least according to one expert.

Bob Flowerdew, one of Britain’s leading organic gardeners, has claimed that maintaining a luscious green lawn is as bad for the environment as ‘driving a gas-guzzling vehicle’.

The 58-year-old Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panellist urged homeowners to tear up their lawns and replace them with perennial plants – or concrete.

Writing in Amateur Gardening magazine, he advises: ‘I think it’s time to get rid of our lawns. Dig up your lawn, I say. Turn the area into something else.’

But other experts – including the editor of the magazine – have dismissed the claims.

In his column, Flowerdew explains: ‘With the prediction of drier summers ahead and the increasing frequency of hosepipe bans, browned-out turf all summer is going to become more and more likely.

‘Indeed, having a green lawn may even become seen as heinous a sin as driving a gas-guzzling vehicle.

‘So why do we not admit that the time and effort needed to maintain a lawn is now too much?’

He suggests replacing turf with drought-tolerant perennial plants, stepping stones or solid concrete, which will never ‘need watering, feeding, aerating, scarifying or mowing’.

Flowerdew, author of several organic gardening guides, goes on: ‘Suddenly we would do away with the irritation of one after another of our neighbours mowing around us.’

But Paul Dawson, managing director of turf grower Rolawn, said: ‘Lawns have significant environmental benefits, producing oxygen, filtering water back into aquifers and reducing flooding.’

Tim Rumball, editor of Amateur Gardening, said: ‘It’s a load of old compost. Take away the lawn and you’re left with a jungle and nowhere to walk, relax and enjoy all your efforts.’


Nigel Lawson warns against Green protectionism

Former UK chancellor warns Europe, US against setting up trade barriers to developing nations

Nigel Lawson believes it is wrong for the West to use environmental concerns as a weapon to beat China. "It is wrong in two ways. It is wrong morally because it is asking them to slow their development down," says the former British chancellor of the exchequer who is now well known as a leading climate change skeptic.

"It is also wrong in practical terms because it is quite clear they are not going to do it (reduce carbon emissions sufficiently). China is not abandoning coal. It is going ahead with its coal-fired power stations."

Lawson, a remarkably youthful 80, was speaking over morning coffee at the House of Lords, whose debates he regularly attends.

He is best known as one of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher's key ministers in the 1980s but since the publication of his book An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming four years ago, he has also found notoriety as a bete noire of the Green Movement.

Some in the environmental movement refuse to engage with him, saying that he is recycling the arguments of the American oil industry and other vested interests.

He insists, however, that by going against what now seems a majority view he is not part of some new "Flat Earth" movement.

"You have to analyze what you mean by majority opinion. I think it is the majority opinion of the political classes in the West. It is not, however, the majority opinion of the public as whole. All the opinion polls show a high degree of skepticism among ordinary people, who often have more common sense than the political classes," he says.

Lawson says he has been recently talking with the 88-year-old renowned British-born American physicist Freeman Dyson, who is on the advisory board of his think tank, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, which he founded in 2009.

Dyson was over from the United States to mark his 60 years as a member of The Royal Society, the 350-year-old British scientific body.

"He says the only thing that is certain about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is that it is very good for plant growth and that the warming effect is extremely uncertain," he says.

Lawson does believe that China is unfairly lectured to on climate change and thinks the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in 2009 was something of a debacle when no international agreement could be reached. China, India and other developing countries felt the terms too onerous.

"It certainly was an accident. It was a great macho thing for the European Union, which was then not in as shaky a state as it is now, to show world leadership," he says.

"They set these hugely ambitious objectives and it was a great humiliation for them that they brought on themselves."

He is dismissive of a lot of the claims made be environmentalists such as those set out by former US vice-president Al Gore in his film An Inconvenient Truth. He says the argument that 11 of the last 12 years have been the warmest on record is very misleading.

"It is generally accepted there has been no serious warming trend over the past 10 to 15 years. Even if the rate of growth flattens out, each year is going to be warmer than the previous year. The important thing is that it has completely flattened out," he says.

Lawson, a former leading financial journalist and editor of The Spectator magazine in the 1960s, is regarded as being one of the UK's most influential chancellors of the post-war period.

He was one of the principal architects of the Thatcherite free market liberalization of the British economy.

But he also presided over a bust of the economy in the late-1980s when interest rates soared to stem inflation and the housing market crashed.

He believes the current economic downturn is of a different scale to then and there may be a lot worse to come. "I don't think it is fully played out yet. The reason why it is much worse this time is the banking element. The banks weren't all that fine last time but they didn't go bust."

Lawson says it is the rise of countries like China that is one of the few reasons for optimism.

"I think it is the most important development on the economic front since my time in office and I absolutely welcome it. I think it is great," he says.

"It means the world is a much more competitive place but on the whole it is an excellent thing. It has taken millions of people out of poverty and provides a huge market for exports."


While Europe Sleeps: China Aims To Ramp Up Shale Production Ten-Fold

Technology to force natural gas from its underground source rock, shale, has transformed the energy picture of the United States in the past six years, and China—sitting on reserves some 50 percent larger than those of the U.S.—has taken note. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a made-in-the-U.S.A. process that China aims to import.

On June 9, state-owned oil giant Sinopec started drilling the first of nine planned shale gas wells in Chongqing, expecting by year's end to produce 11 billion to 18 billion cubic feet (300 to 500 million cubic meters) of natural gas—about the amount China consumes in a single day. It's a small start, but China's ambitions are large; by 2020, the nation's goal is for shale gas to provide 6 percent of its massive energy needs.

Because natural gas generates electricity with half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal, China's primary power source, the hope is that shale development, if it is done in an environmentally sound manner, will help pave the way to a cleaner energy future for the world's number one greenhouse gas producer. "Clean, rapid shale gas development in China would reduce global emissions," says Julio Friedmann, chief energy technologist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, which has been working with the Chinese on environmentally sound fracking practices.

But challenges lie ahead in China's effort to replicate the U.S. shale gas revolution. Early indications are that China's shale geology is different. And above ground, China lacks the extensive pipeline network that has enabled the United States to so quickly bring its new natural gas bounty to market. A daunting issue is whether water-intensive energy development can flourish in China given the strains the nation already faces on water and irrigation-dependent agriculture. Even though there are more questions at this point than answers, China is determined to move ahead.

"China now realizes it has incredible opportunity to find another major fuel source other than coal," says Albert Lin, chief executive of EmberClear, an Alberta, Canada-based energy project developer that is a partner of China's largest power producer, China Huaneng Group.

Shale gas now makes up 25 percent of the U.S. natural gas supply, less than a decade after Devon Energy and other independent U.S. companies paired high-volume hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling to force natural gas from fissures in the soft black rock layer a mile or more underground. Development started near Dallas-Fort Worth, but it has since spread across the country, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania. The process has stirred intense debate over local land, water, and air pollution issues, including the accidental leakage of the potent greenhouse gas methane.

But the flood of new natural gas onto the U.S. energy market has been a key factor in displacing coal. Coal's share of U.S. electricity production has dropped from almost 50 percent to 34 percent in just three years. Largely as a result of that trend, the United States is on track for its energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 to be 11 percent lower than in 2005, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects.

In China, where coal now generates 80 percent of electricity, there is great potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions by substituting natural gas. A preliminary EIA assessment of world shale reserves last year indicated that China has the world's largest "technically recoverable" resources—with an estimated 1,275 trillion cubic feet (36 trillion cubic meters). That's 20 percent of world resources, and far more than the 862 trillion cubic feet (24 trillion cubic meters) in estimated U.S. shale gas stores.

But not all shale deposits are alike. The best targets are marine deposits, formed by millions of years of heat and pressure from dead organic material that mixed with mud at the bottom of ancient seas. The decay produces methane, the main component of natural gas. Experts say Sichuan Province and the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang Province in the northwest hold promising marine deposits. Five other areas identified by the EIA as potential shale plays in China, including Inner Mongolia's Ordos Basin and parts of northern China, are more likely to hold non-marine deposits, lacking the rich stores of organic material. Still, from initial drilling in the more promising regions, "we know there's [at least] 6 to 8 trillion cubic meters of recoverable shale gas and maybe more" in China, says Friedmann.

Other attributes of China's shale might pose additional challenges. It's believed that many of the deposits are mixed with clay. Clay's pliable, bendable quality makes it more difficult to fracture or break than shale containing more brittle quartz. In addition, shale in Sichuan is 1.2 to 3.7 miles (2 to 6 kilometers) below ground. On the higher end, that's deeper than many of the U.S. deposits, and the mountainous terrain above ground increases the difficulty and cost of drilling.

One of the top producing U.S. shale plays, Haynesville in east Texas and western Louisiana, has relatively deep deposits—1.9 to 2.5 miles (3 to 4 kilometers) below ground, notes Bruce Hill, senior geologist at the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston nonprofit that works to lessen fracking's environmental impact. The U.S. experience would suggest that deep fracking can be done, but China's geology has yet to be fully explored.

"There is no cookbook for doing shale gas," says Edward Chow, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. China needs to do "a lot of experimentation and go through trial and error, examining different shales."


54.5 mpg and the law of unintended consequences

Legislators and regulators need to observe a fundamental Golden Rule: Do not implement new laws if you have not considered or cannot control important unintended consequences.

A perfect example is the Obama Administration’s plan to increase new car mileage standards, from the currently legislated requirement of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 to 54.5 mpg by 2025, as an average across each automaker’s complete line of cars and light trucks.

Carmakers reluctantly agreed to the new requirements, to avoid even more onerous standards, or different standards in different states. But the deal does nothing to alter the harsh realities of such a requirement.

First, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyses indicate that the mileage standards will add $3,000 to $4,800 to the average price of new vehicles for models from now until 2025. Moreover, this price increase does not include the $2,000 to $6,000 in total interest charges that many borrowers would have to pay over the life of a 36-60 month loan.

The consequence: 6 million to 11 million low-income drivers will be unable to afford new vehicles during this 13-year period, according to the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA). These drivers will essentially be eliminated from the new vehicle market, because they cannot afford even the least expensive new cars without a loan – and many cannot meet minimal lending standards to get that loan.

These drivers will be forced into the used car market. However, far fewer used cars are available today, because the $3-billion “cash for clunkers” program destroyed 690,000 perfectly drivable cars and trucks that otherwise would have ended up in used car lots. In addition, the poor economy is causing many families to hold onto their older cars longer than ever before.

Exacerbating the situation, the average price of used cars and trucks shot from $8,150 in December 2008 to $11,850 three years later, say the NADA and Wall Street Journal. With interest rates of 5-10% (depending on the bank, its lending standards and a borrower’s financial profile), even used cars are unaffordable for many poor families, if they can find one.

All this forces many poor families to buy “hoopties,” pieces of junk that cost much more to operate than a decent low-mileage used car. These higher operating costs can cripple families in borderline poverty situations.

The compounded financial impact is a “regressive” tax and a war on the poor.

Another, far worse consequence of the skyrocketing mileage requirements is that many cars will need to be made smaller, lighter, and with thinner metal and more plastic, to achieve the new “corporate average fleet economy” (CAFÉ) standards.

These vehicles – even with seatbelts, air bags and expensive vehicle modifications – will not be as safe as they would be if mileage weren’t a major consideration. They will have less “armor” to protect drivers and passengers, and less space between vehicle occupants and whatever car, truck, bus, wall, tree or embankment their car might hit.

The NHTSA, Brookings Institution, Harvard School of Public Health, National Academy of Sciences and USA Today discovered a shocking reality. Even past and current mileage standards have resulted in thousands of additional fatalities, and tens of thousands of serious injuries, every year – above what would have happened if the government had not imposed those standards.

They also learned that drivers in lightweight cars were up to twelve times more likely to die in a crash – and far more likely to suffer serious injury and permanent disabilities.

Increasing mileage requirements by a whopping 19 mpg above current rules will make nearly all cars even less safe than they are today.

For obvious reasons, most legislators, regulators and environmental activists have not wanted to discuss these issues. But they need to do so, before existing mileage requirements are made even more stringent.

These affordability and safety problems may be unintended. However, no government officials – elected or unelected – can claim they are unaware of them.

Finally, the asserted goals of CAFÉ standards may once have been somewhat persuasive. The standards were necessary, it was argued, to preserve US oil reserves that were rapidly being depleted, reduce oil imports from unstable parts of the world, and prevent dangerous global warming. However, the rationales used to justify these onerous, unfair, injurious and lethal mileage standards are no longer persuasive.

New seismic, drilling and production technologies have dramatically increased our nation’s oil and natural gas reserves. Opening some of the publicly owned lands that are currently off limits would increase reserves even more. Using government and industry data, the Institute for Energy Research has calculated that the USA, Canada and Mexico alone have 1.7 trillion barrels of recoverable oil reserves – enough to meet current US needs for another 250 years – and another 175 years of natural gas.

As to global warming, even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is now backing away from previous claims about alarming changes in global temperatures, sea levels, polar ice caps and major storms, due to greenhouse gas emissions.

All of us should conserve energy and be responsible stewards of the Earth and its bounties, which God has given us. However, to ignore the unpleasant realities of existing and proposed mileage mandates is unethical, immoral and unjust.

We must not emphasize fuel savings at the cost of excluding poor families from the automobile market – and putting people at greater risk of serious injury or death.


Australia: Carbon tax price hike jolts Anglican Church Grammar School electricity bills

THE carbon tax has begun hitting Queensland small businesses, including a Brisbane private school which faces a $70,000-a-year hike in its electricity bill.

Six weeks into the carbon tax regime, price hikes are starting to hit hip pockets as power bills drop into letterboxes.

Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry president David Goodwin said the "weird distortions" were becoming apparent.

"We are finding that ordinary supermarkets like the local IGA may be up for up to $15,000 on the carbon tax alone if they have to re-gas their giant refrigeration system," Mr Goodwin said. "Somehow these guys are going to have find ways to cover these extra costs."

The Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) faces a 30 per cent increase in electricity for the month of July, well above the 9 per cent increase predicted by the Federal Government.

Headmaster Jonathan Hensman said Churchie had struggled to become energy-efficient, employing everything from external louvres to power factor connection mechanisms to stop power leakage. Now he estimates the school will have to find an extra $1400 a week to meet the cost of the carbon tax. "Given what we have done it's a bit disappointing," he said.

He said that in the post-GST environment, passing on the cost to parents through higher fees was not an option.

Electricity broker Peter Phillips said several schools were reeling from the steep increases.

A spokesman for federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the average rise would be 9 per cent, and consumers had been compensated for businesses that passed on the cost of steeper rises.

The carbon tax component for Churchie for the month of July is $5600 - about 15 per cent of the entire bill of $38,000.

The school negotiated low-cost power through Mr Phillips, but now estimates it will have to find about $70,000 a year extra to cover the tax.

Mr Phillips, owner of Mantel Solutions, said many high-end users used brokers to secure cheap electricity discounts of up to 50 per cent over the average householder. But brokers could not secure concessions to the carbon tax.

The Federal Government predicted businesses may face steeper hikes and had compensated households, the spokesman said.

"That is why we are providing households with tax cuts, higher family payments and pension increases to meet the increase in the cost of living, which Treasury estimates will be an increase in the CPI of 0.7 per cent," he said.

"Businesses concerned that they are being charged too much for electricity should consider shopping around for a better deal."

Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle seized on the bill as an transparent example of how the carbon tax impacted commercial electricity bills.

"For most domestic customers the price of the carbon tax is hidden in the total cost of the electricity tariff," Mr McArdle said. "In the case of market contracts, such as this, each of the components that make up a bill is clearly identified.

"It shows that off-peak energy is attracting an 80 per cent increase directly related to the carbon tax."


Electric car sales lagging worldwide

Comment from Australia

SALES of electric vehicles have been so slow that Mitsubishi has temporarily halted production of two cars.

The slow global take-up of EVs has been mirrored in Australia, with only 18 sold privately this year and 45 sold to government and business.

After sales of less than 1000 each, Mitsubishi has now temporarily stopped producing the Citroen C-Zero and Peugeot iOn, which are rebadged versions of its i-MiEV. In Australia, Mitsubishi has sold only 12 i-MiEVs this year and none last month.

This follows disappointing global sales for the Nissan Leaf, which has sold 51 here this year, and the Chevrolet Volt, which goes on sale next month with a Holden badge.

While many blame high prices Mitsubishi i-MiEV retails at $48,800, Nissan Leaf at $51,500 and Holden Volt at $59,990 Australian industry figures point to a lack of government subsidies.

Fuel economy campaigner and former Australian Rally champion Ed Ordynski said the issue of subsidies for electric vehicles was "way too bogged down in politics".

"I don't think we'll see changes until there is a shake-out of local manufacturers," he said, pointing out that local manufacturers had no plans to produce electric vehicles, although several Australian companies are converting conventional cars to electric power.

"I don't think the government will offer incentives to produce locally, so subsidies for electric vehicles would only be for full imports and that isn't going to happen."

BMW Group Australia boss Phil Horton said government incentives would be a "relatively easy thing to do" and not necessarily expensive.

He suggested incentives such as cheap or free tolls, use of transit lanes, cheaper parking spaces and discounts on registration and stamp duties.

"Unless they take some steps to encourage electric vehicles, people won't buy them," he said.

BMW is about to release its ActiveHybrid 5, followed by a 3 Series model later this year, a 7 Series early next year, with a full electric car, the i3 in 2014 and a plug-in hybrid i8 after that.

"But there doesn't seem any interest from the government to do anything to encourage their take-up," Mr Horton said.

The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 will be among the highlights of a GreenZone Drive today on the Gold Coast.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


10 August, 2012

Little Green Lies

Introduction to a new book from an Australian scientist

Rare snowfall stuns much of South Africa

Global cooling!

Snowball fights, toboggan runs and slippery streets are old hat for Canadians accustomed to the worst snow storms winter has to offer, but a dusting of the white stuff for South Africans is enough to get the entire country excited.

After temperatures dropped below the freezing mark Monday night, heavy snow was reported in the Western Cape Mountains, the Eastern Cape, Lesotho and the Drakensburg mountains.

By Tuesday morning, the snowfall grew more widespread, propelled by the extreme cold snap gripping Africa's southernmost country.
By mid-afternoon, the South African Weather Service confirmed snow in every province except Limpopo, where officials said an official report had yet to be filed. But satellite images, they said, indicated snow had fallen there too.

Snow is not unheard of in parts of South Africa, particularly in the mountainous regions where there is even a ski resort. But it's unusual, even in those areas, for so much snow to fall that roads have to be closed, as they were Tuesday.

The snow was so heavy that several border posts between South Africa and Lesotho were shut and the highway linking the commercial hub Johannesburg to the continent's busiest airport Durban was also closed to traffic for several hours.

The snow in Johannesburg -- where officials say it has snowed on just 22 days in more than a century -- was the heaviest in more than 30 years and the first since 2007.

That inspired everyone, from schoolchildren to office workers, to brave the cold winds and frosty temperatures to head into the streets for a first-hand taste of the white stuff. "I have never seen snow in Jo'burg," Refilwe Kgofelo told reporters, barely containing her thrill as she proudly clutched a ball of the cold, sticky stuff. "And this is my first time experiencing snow!" she cheered.

Most shared her excitement to merely touch or taste the snow, while others fashioned tiny snowmen, rode makeshift toboggans, waged impromptu snowball battles and posed for commemorative pictures.

The South African Weather Service is calling for more snow overnight Tuesday and cold temperatures in the coming days, but the mercury is expected to creep back up in time for the country's national Women's Day holiday on Thursday.


Germany's Green Energy Transition May Force Out Industry

The public discussion about Germany's green energy transition has taken a new direction. The rise of electricity prices in Germany is suddenly no longer blamed on the billions spent for building solar and wind farms, biomass plants and power grids. Now it is “the industry” which is being blamed for its lobbying which has resulted in a variety of financial reliefs, compensations and tax exemptions and for abandoning the 'community solidarity' of this 'national effort.'

The green industry lobby has agreed to this new line of attack after it came under increasing pressure by the rampant increase in costs. It's new motto: it is not the absolute level of costs, which is the problem, but its unjust distribution.

Political horse trading in eco-tax policy

What makes this argument so dangerous is that it has a kernel of truth. It is true that the number of companies that are exempt from net charges, levies and green electricity taxes, has risen sharply in recent months. The number of companies which enjoy energy policy privileges go now far beyond the circle of those energy-intensive industries which have to compete with their products in international markets and thus would be eligible for exemptions.

Behind this questionable political development appears to be a political deal: If we are to pay for the really absurd and inefficient expansion of expensive solar power in Germany to 52 gigawatts, you need to ensure a de facto eco-tax exemption for industry. There is an old method of finding a majority in politics, not just with regards the green energy revolution: criticism of escalating costs is not met by cost reductions, but by giving more money to the critics.

Energy policy is becoming an election issue

The only problem with this approach is that the Germans, with their rigorous application, tend to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Facts that apply to specific cases and to certain segments are used indiscriminately, especially during election campaigns. And the next elections are coming up: the Lower Saxony state election campaign this fall and winter is also the early start of the general election campaign in 2013.

Especially in Lower Saxony, which is so crucial for the expansion of the grid network and the generation of green energy, the issue of energy policy will determine the political debate. The new allegation that the rising cost of the green energy revolution is caused by industry examptions could readily get stuck in the minds of voters here - and stay there until the general election in September next year.

Some major buyers pay little for electricity

Nothing would be more dangerous, however, than to belittle and to trivialize the costs of the green energy revolution or distract from the issue at all. The ecological restructuring of Germany’s energy system would only be seen as a model worthy of imitation internationally if it had not been enforced with billions of handouts by a very affluent economy, but if it can be shown to be implemented economically and efficiently.

Consequently, a close look at the level of costs and their distribution is essential: it is true that green power reduces temporally the wholesale price of electricity on the electricity exchange and that some big buyers in the industry, as a result, can buy power relatively cheaply - especially if they have been exempted from both of environmental tax- and from network charges.

But this should not obscure the fact that private consumers and especially small and medium-sized businesses are heavily burdened by rising energy prices. Especially the medium-sized companies suffer doubly: first, from the higher energy costs in production and secondly because customers have less money in their wallets because of the rising electricity prices

It should also be remembered that the absolute level of wholesale prices is not really important for the competitiveness of the industry. The comparison with the electricity prices of other countries is much more important for the decisions regarding relocation or outsourcing.

And this comparison does not look good. Germany has the highest industrial electricity prices in Europe. With increasing costs of the green energy policy, relocating abroad is becoming increasingly attractive for companies, especially for energy-intensive businesses.

In the U.S., the energy price is currently falling dramatically. The recent development of shale gas production there means that the U.S. natural gas price is currently only about 20 percent of the European price. Thus the U.S. produces electricity much cheaper. This fact cannot simply be ignored by German chemical or metallurgical companies when it considers decisions about the location of a new factory.

The supply chains are at stake

The loss of such industries would have potentially disastrous consequences for Germany, however. The strength of Germany’s economy – compared to international standards - is mainly due to unusually intact and tightly knit supply chains. Basic industries are not the dinosaurs of "old economy” - already condemned to extinction. They are rather at the beginning of the value chains; with their quality and price level they set the starting point for all subsequent stages of industrial production.

German machine producers, car manufacturers and electrical industry are world leaders, because their engineers and skilled workers have an exceptional knowledge of the characteristics and abilities of their materials.

This expertise also stems from the geographical proximity and close ties of primary industry and processing companies in the manufacturing sector. This proximity should not be put at risk through negligence, allowing value chains to break because companies are driven abroad by unilateral cost burdens due to the green energy transition.


UK government scraps environmental regulations to save £400 million

UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry announced yesterday the scrapping of 86 environmental regulations that will save businesses £400 million over the next 20 years.

The package of reforms, which also includes improvements to a further 48 regulatory regimes, is part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge that aims to remove surplus regulation hindering businesses.

“It is vital that we have a regulatory regime which promotes fairness and consumer and environmental protection, but does not impose unnecessary costs or barriers to generating the necessary investment, innovation and skills we need to build the low carbon economy,” says Hendry.

As well as simplifications to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) and the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme, the changes cover areas from discharges from chemical installations to requirements for electricity lines and gas pipelines.

The changes to the EU ETS, which were confirmed earlier this summer, will allow small emitters and organisations like hospitals to opt out of the scheme from 2013.

The government maintains that the changes will maintain all environmental protections reducing costs and unnecessary burdens.


Global Warmers and Stupidity Credits

The problem with elitist "management" of "free" markets is the inevitable unintended consequences. Sometimes those consequences are accurately predicted by conservatives. Other times it takes turning the government micro-management loose on the free market to see what happens.
“They quickly figured out that they could earn one carbon credit by eliminating one ton of carbon dioxide, but could earn more than 11,000 credits by simply destroying a ton of an obscure waste gas normally released in the manufacturing of a widely used coolant gas. That is because that byproduct has a huge global warming effect. The credits could be sold on international markets, earning tens of millions of dollars a year...

So since 2005 the 19 plants receiving the waste gas payments have profited handsomely from an unlikely business: churning out more harmful coolant gas so they can be paid to destroy its waste byproduct. The high output keeps the prices of the coolant gas irresistibly low, discouraging air-conditioning companies from switching to less-damaging alternative gases. That means, critics say, that United Nations subsidies intended to improve the environment are instead creating their own damage.”

So while the whole concept of carbon credits was to reduce gases related to alleged global warming, this perverse system has actually created an incentive to create more of those gases.

This would be a good time for conservative critics of carbon credits to say "We told you so."

We told you so.

The whole concept of carbon credits is the worst of both worlds. Not only is the government interfering in the free market, it's trying to create a market out of thin air by forcing people to want something they really have no use for (carbon credits).

But--as mentioned above--the free market is smarter than any politician, government, scientist or economist. The free market will look for a way to profit, and it will always out-smart the politicians and their regulations.

So here we have an example where an industry creates two gases regulated by carbon credits. And it just so happens that by creating more of one, it can create and destroy more of the other--resulting in the accumulation of artificial, yet lucrative, carbon credits.

To those who would quickly suggest "fixing" the regulations to eliminate this loophole, good luck. The combination of global warming gases produced by this process is unique to this process. Any of the other unknown number of industries that generate controlled gases will produce them in other combinations, or perhaps the same gases in different proportions.

There's truly no way to architect a carbon credit scheme that will accomplish the stated environmental goal.

This should come as no surprise. Carbon credits were marketed as "regulation light" or even a "free market" solution. They're neither. They're hard-fisted government regulation with all the downsides and costs involved in any other regulation. And given artificially imposed regulations, the free market has done what it does best: It has figured out how to profit, and the politicians have actually created an incentive to make matters worse.

This should serve as yet another crystal clear example of the dangers of government regulation and market manipulation.

Even supposedly good-intentioned regulations can produce results precisely opposite of what was desired. Encouraging home ownership led to a housing bubble and crash. Interfering in the higher education market has led to higher tuition and a student loan bubble. Artificially low interest rates has led to the stock market ballooning and crashing. And trying to manipulate the market to reduce certain gases has actually result in their increase. One shudders to think of the eventual outcome of government interference in the health care industry.

Politicians tinker with the free market at our own risk because politicians aren't as smart as they think they are. The free market is much smarter every time. In this case, the air conditioning industry just outsmarted the entire worldwide global warming industry.

And, in fact, the air conditioning industry is currently profiting from the arrogance and stupidity of the global warming industry.

Now if I could just convince the government to create a stupidity credit market from which I could skim a commission on each transaction, I'd be all set.


It's a disaster that 'peak oil' is not a disaster

For regular entertainment, look no further than George Monbiot, the one-time green-leftie who is building a reputation as a master of the candid volte face. Having fallen in love with nuclear power after Fukushima, he has now been convinced that “the facts have changed” on peak oil. But that, he says, is a “disaster for humanity”.

“The facts have changed, now we must change too,” declared George Monbiot, in a recent op-ed for the Guardian, headlined: “We were wrong on peak oil. There's enough to fry us all”.

That the facts have changed is news to those of us who never believed that the world is running out of resources. To Monbiot and his fellow-alarmists, however, rising prices were a sign of impending doom. It proved that scarcity was on the rise, and therefore showed that the oil would soon dry up.

The error of the peak oil alarmists was not understanding that the cure for high prices is high prices. When prices rise, this may indeed signal scarcity, but if so, it also provides a financial incentive to throw investment, ingenuity and effort at the problem. Moreover, a high price for one commodity makes alternatives more competitive by comparison.

As I wrote two years ago: “The problem is, we're not [running out of resources]. This can be reliably concluded from the fact that even if a particular resource were to become particularly scarce, the price mechanism unfailingly makes it worth our while to economise, or seek alternatives, or both.

“Resource replacement has happened before, and will happen again, but more often, the opposite happens: improved productivity and new finds simply combine to match growing demand.”

That is exactly what happened. Knowledge does not stand still, and supply challenges simply create economic incentives for progress. We didn’t stop using horses because we ran out of hay. We stopped because we invented motor cars.

What changed Monbiot’s mind was an analysis of global oil reserves by Leonardo Maugeri, published by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs. Maugeri makes the case in the report’s opening sentence: “Contrary to what most people believe, oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption. This could lead to a glut of overproduction and a steep dip in oil prices.”

According to Maugeri, capacity exists to increase the world’s 2011 production of 93 million barrels per day (mbd) by half. By 2020, he expects world oil production to be around 111 mbd and still rising.

The “peak oil” theory, first popularised in 1974 by the late Marion King Hubbert, a geologist working for Shell, has a lot to recommend it if you’re in the business of finding, extracting and selling petroleum products. His employers have a lot riding on the rate of new discoveries, how fast existing resources dry up, and what technology is required to sustain production levels at a given price point. He cautioned them that easy finds would become increasingly rare, and remaining reserves increasingly expensive to produce, leading to a bell-curve-shaped graph of production over time.

Hubbert himself projected an oil production peak, when new discoveries would begin to decrease globally, of around 1995. It didn’t happen.

However, the Hubbert theory, suitably simplified, became popular with environmentalists and left-wing anti-capitalists, who yelled that any day now we’d hit an oil production peak, after which prices would skyrocket, supply would dwindle, and we’d all sit around with stupid expressions wondering what happened to all the cars. And “running out of resources”, as they saw it, would serve the greedy lot of us right.

The late Matthew Simmons, an advisor to the US government, member of the National Petroleum Council and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, called the oil peak in 2005. In a beautiful piece of rhyming history, he accepted a $5,000 bet with journalist John Tierney that the average daily price of oil in 2010 would be $200. Tierney thoughtfully got Rita Simon, the widow of the economist Julian Simon, in on the bet. If Simmons had lived out 2010, he would have lost $10,000 for exactly the same reasons Paul Ehrlich lost his infamous bet about resource depletion with Rita’s late husband.

A 2005 report conducted for the US Department of Energy by Robert Hirsch also said peak oil would happen and would do so abruptly. Most of its experts predicted a peak before 2010. Among them were the aforementioned gambler, Matthew Simmons; the late Ali Samsam Bakhtiari of the National Iranian Oil Company and advisor to the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC); Chris Skrebowski, a founding member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), a colleague of Bakhtiari’s on ODAC, advisor to the UK government, and director of Peak Oil Consulting; Kenneth Deffeyes, a colleague of Hubbert’s at Shell and professor emeritus at Princeton; David Goodstein, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology; and Colin Campbell, another founder of ASPO and drafter of the Rimini Protocol, which involved draconian production controls, import stablisation and consumption limits.

The Hirsch Report came with a disclaimer: “Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information ...”

That was as prescient as the report got. As far as its actual peak oil predictions went, most supposed experts picked dates prior to 2012, and so far, all of them have been proven wrong.

The famed Texas oilman, T Boone Pickens, testified before Congress in 2008, saying, “I do believe you have peaked out at 85 million barrels a day globally.” He, too, was wrong.

In 2005, Douglas Reynolds, professor of oil and energy economics at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, predicted peak gas in 2007, after which American reserves would begin to decline. Ironically, he picked the very year in which the great North American shale gas boom began. The technical developments that permitted shale gas exploitation – namely horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing – were not new, and a professor in the field ought to have known about them.

So great was this boom that the biggest concern for non-US oil refineries is low oil prices.

Unchastened, Reynolds earlier this year predicted oil prices to spike over $200 within five to ten years. You would be forgiven for not running out to fill jerrycans to hoard.

According to the Maugeri Report, not a single oil-producing country is expected to produce less in 2020 than 2011, other than Norway, the UK, Mexico and Iran. Those exceptions, which are expected to produce marginally less than today, make up the sum total of evidence for disastrous peak oil predictions.
“Oil is not in short supply,” Maugeri concludes. “From a purely physical point of view, there are huge volumes of conventional and unconventional oils still to be developed, with no ‘peak-oil’ in sight. The real problems concerning future oil production are above the surface, not beneath it, and relate to political decisions and geopolitical instability. ”

And that’s not even counting the vast unconventional oil resources that are not yet technically or economically recoverable, but may well become so as abruptly as shale gas exploded onto the scene. Those that are already being exploited – in shales and tight sands, much like unconventional natural gas – are economically viable at between $50 and $65 a barrel, which is well below today’s price. This, says Maugeri, makes them “sufficiently resilient to a significant downturn of oil prices.”

But none of that is good news to Monbiot. He admits he was wrong, but quickly pivots to point out that this doesn’t make the truth any less scary: “So this is where we are. The automatic correction – resource depletion destroying the machine that was driving it – that many environmentalists foresaw is not going to happen. The problem we face is not that there is too little oil, but that there is too much.”

Fancy that. For decades environmental activists and government bureaucrats told us to bow to expert consensus, or face impending industrial collapse. Now we discover that we’re swimming in enough oil to roast the planet. Either way, we’re doomed.

Sound familiar? To justify his claim that the non-disaster of peak oil is now a global warming disaster, Monbiot appeals to a consensus of a different kind.

But that consensus is also on shaky ground. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), despite several scandals that cast grave doubt on the honesty of its members, bitterly clings to its guns. So does the climate science inner circle, despite leaked emails that show them to be more concerned with telling a consistent public relations story and silencing sceptics than with cleaning up their own messy data and figuring out the rather large swathes of climate science they cannot yet explain.

I’ll likely have more to say on the most recent spate of climate change alarmism in a future column, but it isn’t very convincing either.

In any case, it seems that betting against the “consensus” of left-wing academics, regulatory-state bureaucrats and anti-capitalist activists can be a rather profitable sideline.

First nuclear power, and now peak oil. At the rate Monbiot is changing his mind, we’ll all soon agree that the disaster of the peak oil non-disaster is not much of a disaster after all. DM



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


9 August, 2012

Muller vs. Hansen

A report by a longtime global warming researcher has concluded that recent extreme summer weather was linked to climate change. The study by a team led by James E. Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Here's more on the study from Richard Muller, physics professor at UC Berkeley, who for years was a climate-change skeptic but recently declared that he is now convinced that not only is global warming real but that human beings are the overwhelming cause of it.

Convinced he may be, but on Tuesday he said that the report by Hansen was overstating the case. "I agree with his findings, but I think he presents it in a way that greatly exaggerates what the result is,” Muller said on "The Madeleine Brand Show."

Here's an excerpt from the interview explaining what he means by that:

"If we are a degree warmer, which is what he and I agree we have warmed up in the last 50 years -- one degree warmer -- then you will have more heat spells, they'll be a little bit hotter, more records -- but they'll only be one degree. When he says expect more heat waves, what that means is, if you were used to a heat wave of 101 degrees, now you'll have a heat wave of 102.”

Hansen termed this as a 100-year event now becoming a 10-year event, and Muller doesn't disagree. But, Muller says, it's again worth noting that this much-more-frequent event is just 1 degree warmer.

In an opinion article in the Washington Post, Hansen linked the findings to the "deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year."

Muller said that there is "not even a hint" that global warming can be specifically linked to those events.


NCDC Tampers With July Data For Global Warming Propaganda Purposes
July average tops U.S. temperature record, NOAA says

The July heat wave that wilted crops, shriveled rivers and fueled wildfires officially went into the books Wednesday as the hottest single month on record for the continental United States.

The average temperature across the Lower 48 was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th-century average, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That edged out the previous high mark, set in 1936, by two-tenths of a degree, NOAA said.

U.S. forecasters started keeping records in 1895. The seven months of 2012 to date are the warmest of any year on record and were drier than average as well, NOAA said.

July average tops U.S. temperature record, NOAA says – This Just In – Blogs

Complete nonsense. July 1936 was much hotter. Compare the two maps below – it isn’t even close.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Spanish Renewable Lessons for Obama

Spain is planning to correct its renewable energy experiment gone wrong by spreading the pain, a powerful lessons for a White House with an incoherent energy policy that has often cited its model as one to emulate.

This week Obama’s campaign bashed challenger Mitt Romney for planning to end tax incentives for wind power if elected. “By opposing an extension to the wind production tax credit, Mitt Romney has come out against growth of the wind industry to support 100,000 jobs by 2016 and 500,000 jobs by 2030.”

Obama’s expectations though are based on European policy support models that are being revised and corrected. Ahead of November elections, both candidates must realize America’s energy policy more than ever demands a coherent policy based on its best interest not ideological imperatives.

Putting renewable on steroids can come to damage a country’s power sector, consumers, and the renewable industry itself, and in Spain’s case, even a national economy.

Public support for renewable power in America thus should be reconfigured to achieve realistic economic or geopolitical net gain, not winning elections.

During the first two years of his administration, President Barack Obama and top officials praised Spain as a successful model to create employment and improve energy security. So did everyone else, for that matter, but it’s time to heed the lessons.

For over a decade Spain has accumulated nearly 25 billion euro in debt –equivalent to more than half of the urgent capitalization needs of its distraught financial system- mostly in the form of subsidies for wind and solar energy.

Basically the country did not pass along to consumers the cost of generating around 30 percent of its electricity through renewable sources, and faced with the prospect of a macroeconomic sovereign collapse it has decided to hike taxes for power utilities, to increase consumer prices, and to cut some of the generous subsidies that the renewable industry has enjoyed.

The conservative government’s proposed solution has expectedly enraged all sides, although the final reforms will not be decreed until later this month.

All sides have legitimate grievances. After all, hiking consumer electricity prices during a recession is beating a dead horse; renewable players say the back-peddling will all but kill their industry already hit by an earlier moratorium imposed on new renewable projects, and utilities say more taxes will only mean more layoffs and less investment.

Furthermore, Spain’s generous subsidies already attracted more than twice as much installed capacity than its peak demand of 40 GW, and much cheaper fossil fuel and nuclear generators are being left idle to pay for renewable output.

In this context, the country has no choice but to pull the plug on its renewable experiment. More than a decade of robust Spanish growth ended in 2008 as a construction boom went bust leaving millions without a job and as the global economic crisis further undermined the economy.

Gross national product in 2012 and 2013 is expected to further contract and unemployment, already the highest of any rich nation at 25 percent, is expected to continue growing and to become increasingly hard structural, according to the OECD.

The IMF estimates Spain needs around 45 billion euros to recapitalize its ailing banks and Europe has already pledged as much as 100 billion euro. But markets are nervous. Spain will eventually have to seek a sovereign bailout like those of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.

Meanwhile, the difference between the cost of generation and what consumers pay is adding between 7 and 10 billion euros annually in debt, depending of the year, according to the Energy Ministry, 60 percent of which comes from subsidizing renewable power.

The subsidy system itself is also dysfunctional. Solar companies get as much as half of the subsidies, despite contributing less than 5 percent of total power generation in 2011, while wind power gets around a quarter of subsidies despite contributing three times more power.

The government thus plans to raise taxes across the board for power generation between 3 and 20 percent, depending on the source. Fossil fuels, nuclear and hydroelectric would be taxed the least, while renewable would be taxed more. Companies have said consumer prices will inevitably increase.

Utilities, which truth be told are among the biggest investors in renewable power and thus are complicit of the failed experiment, have said tax increases doesn’t address the problem per se and fear the government is simply using them to raise revenue. And renewable energy investors, from international funds to small families, have also blasted planned reforms which they describe as suicidal.

Back to the drawing board

Spain is the worst example, but not the only.

A recent International Energy Agency outlook of renewable power this decade suggests how Spain’s model embodies the “wrongs” of unconditionally supporting the industry.

Now its renewable revision is going to eliminate thousands of jobs and billions in investment, and more critically become another agonizing drag on the economy.

Many countries overdid it, plain and simple. Renewable industries in OECD reached maturity and have become an economic drain, which is why countries are quietly backtracking, as the data shows.

“First, general macroeconomic and credit concerns are increasing capital costs, reducing risk appetites, and prompting investor preferences for higher returns and shorter payback periods, which tend to work against renewable technologies. Second, short-term policy uncertainty in some markets is undermining renewable project economics due to potential changes in financial support,” the IEA said.

The IEA’s report also shows how several technologies are competitive in some markets, able to compete with fossil fuel options. It got there thanks to generous subsidies in countries like Spain, Germany, and Italy, but also the United States, China, and Japan.

Indeed, renewable power is a viable economic option under certain circumstances. And in the US, there are some regions that can make a case for long term economic sustainability, even amid a natural gas glut.

But so far this administration has had an ideological, not economic approach to energy policy. And America can’t afford gambling its energy future. And for that matter, the renewable industry can’t afford it either.


The “GREENHOUSE EFFECT” should cause droughts to DIMINISH

This should be evident from the slightest knowledge of physics. Warming the ocean puts MORE water into the air

Carl Brehmer

The following is an excerpt from a recent radio broadcast: “Heat waves are getting hotter and longer and the forest fires are getting bigger and more severe and there seems to be little doubt that the warming earth, caused by greenhouse gas pollution primarily from fossil fuel burning, is warming the earth and that extra warmth is making the heat waves worse and its making the wild fires worse and its making droughts that we are experiencing worse.” Coast to Coast AM, July 26th, 2012 hour 2: Interview with Jonathan Overpeck, Professor, Department of Geosciences and the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

The droughts that are occurring this year on the Great Plains are a true calamity, but to blame them on a “greenhouse gas” mediated “greenhouse effect” is improper from a scientific point of view, since the “greenhouse effect” is hypothetical warming said to be caused primarily by water vapor and droughts are caused by a lack of water vapor. Therefore, droughts and the “greenhouse effect” cannot occupy the same space at the same time—one requires the presence of water vapor and the other requires its absence. I say that the “greenhouse effect” causes “hypothetical” warming because I recently completed a simple scientific study that demonstrates that an increased presence of water vapor is accompanied by a decrease in temperatures, but we will go over those results in a minute.

Let me first say that periodic severe droughts are not unique to the Great Plains as Professor Overpeck himself revealed in a paper that he co-authored in 1998: “Historical documents, tree rings, archaeological remains, lake sediment, and geomorphic data make it clear that the droughts of the twentieth century, including those of the 1930s and 1950s, were eclipsed several times by droughts earlier in the last 2000 years, and as recently as the late sixteenth century. In general, some droughts prior to 1600 appear to be characterized by longer duration (i.e., multidecadal) and greater spatial extent than those of the twentieth century.” Woodhouse, C.A. & Overpeck, J.T., 2000 Years of Drought Variability in the Central United States, 1998 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 79: 2693-2714

The subject of this article though is not whether or not the earth is warming or whether or not droughts are getting worse around the world. The subject of this article is whether or not such droughts can be caused by a water vapor mediated “greenhouse effect.” According to the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis itself the “greenhouse effect” requires the presence of water vapor to operate. That is, water vapor not only accounts for the majority of the primary “greenhouse warming” in the atmosphere (60-90% depending upon the author) but it also, via “positive water vapor feedback,” is responsible for the much of the hypothetical warming caused by secondary “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide. So, where there is little or no water vapor there can be little or no greenhouse effect. Take, for example the precipitous nighttime cooling seen in a desert mentioned by John Tyndall.

“Whenever the air is dry we are liable to daily extremes of temperature. By day in such places, the sun’s heat reaches the earth unimpeded and renders the maximum high; by night on the other hand the earth’s heat escapes unhindered into space and renders the minimum low. Hence the difference between the maximum and minimum is greatest where the air is driest.

“In the plains of India, on the heights of the Himalaya, in Central Asia, in Australia—wherever drought reigns, we have the heat of day forcibly contrasted with the chill of night. In the Sahara itself, when the sun’s rays cease to impinge on the burning soil the temperature runs rapidly down to freezing, because there is no vapour overhead to check the calorific drain.” Tyndall, John, On radiation: The "Rede" lecture, delivered in the Senate-house before the University of Cambridge, England, on Tuesday, May 16, 1865

a) Little or no water vapor = little or no greenhouse effect

b) Little or no water vapor = drought

Ergo: droughts cannot possibly be caused by the “greenhouse effect” since the “greenhouse effect” is a hypothetical effect caused primarily by water vapor. Where there is enough water vapor in the air to cause said hypothetical “greenhouse effect” then there will be no drought, because it will be cloudy and rainy instead. Ergo, droughts and the “greenhouse effect” are mutually exclusive. Droughts are, in fact, caused by a “greenhouse gas” deficit, i.e., not enough water vapor in the air!


Proven Gas Reserves Up 50% From 2005 to 2010: Where's The Gas Ponzi Scheme?

In a continuing effort to drive a stake through the crazy conspiracy popularized by the NYT that the natural gas boom is a Ponzi scheme, I direct your attention to hot off the presses EIA data for what it calls "proved gas reserves," the most conservative or smallest category of reserve classifications.

In 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, EIA's proved gas reserves jumped the most it has in 35 years, more than 11%. While the 2010 rise was especially big, it was not a fluke. EIA's estimates of proved gas reserves have increased for 12 straight years.

Most impressively, proved gas reserves in 2010 were up 50% compared to the 2005 number or the 1980 number. That's right our proved gas reserves are 50% higher in 2010 than 30 years ago, despite using a lot of gas during that 30 year period.

Indeed, during the last 30 years, the country consumed more than double the amount of our 1980 proved gas reserve number. How could that be?

Exploration and production activities are never ending. They keep filling the US natural gas cup that has never emptied and is now overflowing.

So proved reserves have gone up for 12 straight years, increased during 2010 by the highest amount in 35 years, and are 50% higher than in 2005 or 1980. Other than in the conspiratorial, demagogic mind, just exactly where's the notorious gas Ponzi Scheme featured by the NYT?


The Utter Desperation of Global Warming Liars

By Alan Caruba

The more the public grows skeptical of the global warming hoax, the more desperate the charlatans behind it become.

There is no global warming if by that one means a sudden, dramatic increase in the overall temperature of the Earth. It is not, nor ever was, caused by an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere; currently a miniscule 0.038 percent. Climate science has demonstrated that CO2 increases show up centuries after a major change in the Earth’s temperature, not before.

In recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Dr. John Christy, Alabama’s state climatologist, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said, “It is popular again to claim that extreme events, such as the current central U.S. drought are evidence of human-caused climate change. Actually, the Earth is very large, the weather is very dynamic, and extreme events will continue to occur somewhere, every year, naturally. The recent ‘extremes’ were exceeded in previous decades.”

Recent examples of the Warmists to convince the public that the Earth is in peril include an opinion by the president of the radical Environmental Defense Fund, Fred Krupp, in The Wall Street Journal, and a PBS television report featuring NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, offering a statistical analysis as bogus as his 1988 testimony that global warming was man-made and going to kill us all if we didn’t destroy the economy by outlawing CO2 emissions.

Noted meteorologist, Anthony Watts, whose website, WattsUpWithThat, is a treasure trove of real climate science, dismissed Hansen’s PBS presentation of bell curve charts claiming the current drought conditions as proof of global warming. “This bell curve proves nothing,” said Watts. “This is nothing but a political ploy from a man who has abandoned any pretext of professionally done science in favor of activism.” Watts’ research has demonstrated how corrupt many of the temperature findings have been due to the sites where thermometers have been placed as well as the many places on Earth where there are none.

In The Wall Street Journal Krupp penned a plea for “A New Climate-Change Consensus.” Bear in mind that the nexus of the global warming hoax has been the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and it has claimed for years that a “consensus” of scientists worldwide agrees that global warming is real. The data on which the IPCC claim was made was exposed in 2009 when emails between the scientists providing it revealed their panic over the signs of a global cooling cycle that had begun in 1998. The Earth has been cooling ever since.

Science does not work by consensus. It works by the rigorous testing of hypotheses and theories.
Even Krupp noted that “One scorching summer doesn’t confirm that climate change is real any more than a white Christmas proves it’s a hoax.” True. However, year after year of thoroughly debunked “data” by our own government agencies like NASA doesn’t make it real either. Did I mention that Dr. Hansen is the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies?

About the only truth Krupp stated was that “Some proposed climate solutions, if not well designed or thoughtfully implemented, could damage the economy and stifle short-term growth.” Or any growth for that matter.

As this is written, the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to apply draconian limits on CO2 emissions for every single entity of the U.S. economy from large companies to small businesses. Despite centuries of U.S. coal reserves, the EPA has been hard at work putting coal mining operations and coal-burning plant that generates electricity out of business.

Steven Goddard, writing in the August 6th edition of Real Science, was quick to point out that “There were twice as many daily all-time high temperature records set or tied during the 1930s as in the 2000s, for USHCN stations which were operational during both decades. That is why he (Hansen) doesn’t start his baseline (for the charts he showed in the PBS program) until the 1950s.”

Neither Krupp’s sweet words of inducement to global warming skeptics, nor Dr. Hansen’s lies add up to the fact that there is no global warming and never was except in the minds of those who sought to profit from selling “carbon credits” to industries and individuals who wanted permission to cause emissions of CO2 for any reason.

There ought to be a chart concerning how global warming lies rise and fall with each climate event like a drought or each new revelation of scientific fact that disputes and debunks the hoax.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


8 August, 2012

NOAA scientist attacks Hansen's latest claims

In the new paper, titled “Perception of Climate Change,” Dr. Hansen and his co-authors compared the global climate of 1951 to 1980, before the bulk of global warming had occurred, with the climate of the years 1981 to 2011.

They computed how much of the earth’s land surface in each period was subjected in June, July and August to heat that would have been considered particularly extreme in the period from 1951 to 1980. In that era, they found, only 0.2 percent of the land surface was subjected to extreme summer heat. But from 2006 to 2011, extreme heat covered from 4 to 13 percent of the world, they found.

“It confirms people’s suspicions that things are happening” to the climate, Dr. Hansen said in the interview. “It’s just going to get worse.”

The findings led his team to assert that the big heat waves and droughts of recent years were a direct consequence of climate change. The authors did not offer formal proof of the sort favored by many climate scientists, instead presenting what amounted to a circumstantial case that the background warming was the only plausible cause of those individual heat extremes.

Dr. Hansen said the heat wave and drought afflicting the country this year were also a likely consequence of climate change.

Some experts said they found the arguments persuasive. Andrew J. Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia who reviewed the paper before publication, compared the warming of recent years to a measles outbreak popping up in different places. As with a measles epidemic, he said, it makes sense to suspect a common cause.

“You can actually start to see these patterns emerging whereby in any given year more and more of the globe is covered by anomalously warm events,” Dr. Weaver said.

But some other scientists described the Hansen paper as a muddle. Claudia Tebaldi, a scientist with an organization called Climate Central that seeks to make climate research accessible to the public, said she felt that the paper was on solid ground in asserting a greater overall likelihood of heat waves as a consequence of global warming, but that the finding was not new. The paper’s attribution of specific heat waves to climate change was not backed by persuasive evidence, she said.

Martin P. Hoerling, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who studies the causes of weather extremes, said he shared Dr. Hansen’s general concern about global warming. But he has in the past criticized Dr. Hansen for, in his view, exaggerating the connection between global warming and specific weather extremes. In an interview, he said he felt that Dr. Hansen had done so again.

Dr. Hoerling has published research suggesting that the 2010 Russian heat wave was largely a consequence of natural climate variability, and a forthcoming study he carried out on the Texas drought of 2011 also says natural factors were the main cause.

Dr. Hoerling contended that Dr. Hansen’s new paper confuses drought, caused primarily by a lack of rainfall, with heat waves.

“This isn’t a serious science paper,” Dr. Hoerling said. “It’s mainly about perception, as indicated by the paper’s title. Perception is not a science.”


More on blundering windmills in Britain

The Government’s green crusade “blunder” will cost £124billion, according to a former World Bank adviser.... Professor Gordon Hughes warn­ed that wind power may even fail in its aim of cutting greenhouse gases....

The findings were backed by Professor Ian Fells, Emeritus Professor of Energy Conversion at Newcastle University, who said: “Wind energy is the most expensive way of generating renewable electricity.

The findings were backed by Professor Ian Fells, Emeritus Professor of Energy Conversion at Newcastle University, who said: “Wind energy is the most expensive way of generating renewable electricity.

“It will also cost jobs. We are already seeing some industrial firms packing up and moving abroad. The increasing price of energy is going to be the next big political problem.”

But a spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: “Wind power is a homegrown, secure and sustainable source of energy with an important role as part of a balanced energy mix.

“Over-reliance on any one technology could have serious consequences for consumer bills. That’s why we want to see a diverse energy mix with renewables, nuclear, clean coal and gas all playing a part.”


Britain must be more attractive to 'remarkable' oil and gas industry, says Chancellor of the Exchequer

George Osborne will promise to make Britain an “even more attractive place” for the oil and gas industry in a blow to Liberal Democrat ambitions to shift away from fossil fuels.

The Chancellor will today praise “remarkable” oil and gas companies for making the most “significant contribution” to the UK economy in the energy sector. Mr Osborne will say gas is crucial to meet the UK’s electricity demand throughout the next decade and beyond.

His comments come the day after Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, insisted that the Coalition is united in its efforts to “support the shift by traditional industry to cleaner sources of energy”.

Mr Osborne lost a battle with the Liberal Democrats over his efforts to reduce subsidies for onshore wind farms. However, the Chancellor is determined to make the UK a “gas hub” with at least £500 million in tax breaks for companies drilling for gas.

He will today unveil a new research centre at Manchester University sponsored by BP, the oil company, with dozens of new academic jobs.

He will also announce more than 500 new jobs linked to the new Cygnus gas field, the largest development in the North Sea of recent years.

Mr Osborne will say Britain is committed to “making the most of our remaining oil and gas reserves”. “This has long been one of our great industrial success stories, supporting a third of a million jobs, and extracting the equivalent of over 40 billion barrels of oil to date,” he will say.

“We will provide more detail in the autumn on steps we will take to make the UK an even more attractive place for gas investors."


When 600 Million People Lost Power

With constant electricity shortages, India won't abandon coal any time soon

Blackouts crippled India last week, leaving more than 600 million people without electricity. Trains were stranded, traffic snarled, and the country's economy ground to a halt. According to news reports, the blackouts were caused by excess demand, with some states in northern India taking more power than they had been allotted by the grid operator. And while the investigation into the disaster continues, one result is certain: India won't be abandoning coal any time soon.

While the Sierra Club pushes its "beyond coal" campaign here in the U.S., and the Obama administration continues its regulatory attack on the coal industry—an effort that includes the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to prohibit the construction of new coal-fired generation units—India and other countries around the world are rapidly increasing their coal consumption.

Proof of that can be seen in the fact that, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, global coal consumption over the past decade has increased by more than the growth in oil, natural gas, hydro and nuclear combined. Much of that surge in coal use has occurred in India, the world's third-largest coal consumer, behind only China and the U.S. Increasing coal use helps explain why India's carbon-dioxide emissions, up by 80% since 2002, and global carbon-dioxide emissions—up by 30% since 2002—continue to soar.

India's current coal use, which is the energy equivalent of about 5.9 million barrels of oil per day, has nearly doubled over the past decade. Yet the country remains chronically short of electricity. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), India's per capita electricity consumption is about 600 kilowatt-hours per year. This is a small amount compared to the other big electricity users. The average Chinese uses about five times as much electricity as the average Indian, while the average American uses about 20 times more.

To alleviate the shortages, India is aggressively expanding its electricity generation and transmission infrastructure. It is also working hard to increase its natural-gas and nuclear-generation capacities, but it still relies on coal for about two-thirds of its electricity production. With 60 billion tons of domestic coal reserves—enough to last a century at current rates of extraction—India has plenty of the carbon-heavy fuel. But the country's mines are inefficient and coal deliveries have been hamstrung by poor-quality transportation and ham-handed government policies. The result: India imported about 20% of the coal it used in 2011, and it may soon surpass China as the world's biggest coal importer.

For years, Indian leaders have been saying they will not let concerns about climate change impede their push to generate more electricity. In 2009, shortly before the big climate-change meeting in Copenhagen, that message was delivered by none other than Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian academic who chairs the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "Can you imagine 400 million people who do not have a light bulb in their homes?" he asked. "You cannot, in a democracy, ignore some of these realities and as it happens with the resources of coal that India has, we really don't have any choice but to use coal."

Use it they will. In the wake of the blackouts, Indian officials are talking about expediting the permits needed to produce and transport more coal. And the IEA is projecting that India's coal consumption will nearly double by 2030, allowing it to surpass the United States. But even if that occurs, India will likely continue to lag the developed world in producing electricity—the currency of modernity.

Slogans like "beyond coal" may appeal to Sierra Clubbers and to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave the environmental group $50 million to help "end the coal era." But with 1.3 billion people on the planet still lacking access to electricity, the priority for leaders in places like New Delhi isn't carbon-dioxide emissions or "clean energy." Their primary aim is to bring their people out of the dark.


'WE ARE NOT MUSEUM PIECES': Australian Aboriginal Elders blast Greens crusader Bob Brown

An Aboriginal elder in Western Australia's Kimberley region has hand-delivered a stinging letter to Bob Brown, urging the former Greens leader to back off from his protest against a major gas project.

In the letter, Jabirr Jabirr elder Rita Augustine tells Mr Brown that "The only thing we need saving from is people who disrespect our decisions and want to see our people locked up in a wilderness and treated as museum pieces".

She also says, "what saddens me most is your complete disregard for Aboriginal people. I know you care about the whales and the dinosaur footprints, but what about people?"

Mr Brown joined the environmental activist group Sea Shepherd this week as mission leader of a two week trip in the whale calving grounds around James Price Point, site of the proposed $45 billion Browse gas development.

The Browse project was negotiated in conjunction with Woodside, the WA Government and the Kimberley Land council (KLC), which is the native title representative body for Kimberley traditional owners.

As part of the deal, traditional owners in the Kimberley will receive a whopping $1.5 billion in assistance over the next 30 years. The money will go towards housing, education and health programs and will go directly to the people rather than being funnelled through the KLC.

Traditional owners told that they accept the Browse project will be "a minor environmental hit", but they believe it was wiser to negotiate one massive development rather than as many as 20 smaller projects up and down the coast.

But there remains opposition to the Browse project from the local Goolarabooloo people, who share the same native title claim as Rita Augustine's group, the Jabirr Jabirr.

It is the Goolarabooloo people who invited Brown on the Sea Shepherd mission, and the two groups may be set for a legal showdown.


The Roots of Green Politics in German Romanticism

Brian Wimborne comments from Australia where, like Germany, there is an influential Green party

The apparently sudden decision of the leader of the Australian Greens, Bob Brown, to resign from federal parliament came as a surprise to most Australians but there were probably fewer raised eyebrows at his decision to visit Germany. Even without an invitation to address the Greens in Stuttgart, Bob Brown would likely still have visited the sacred home of environmentalism at some time, if only to pay respect to the founders of the movement from which his party arose.

At this point it is important to distinguish between the ideology of environmentalism and a love of nature. Most people enjoy beaches, mountains and forests, and would oppose their wanton destruction. They may consider themselves to be environmentalists because of their love of nature but they are not infused with the politics of environmentalism; nor are they ideologues with a ‘sacred’ mission. Many would not know that the ideology of environmentalism contains a dark secret of which Bob Brown must surely be aware.

To understand that secret one needs to look to Europe of the nineteenth century, in particular to the ideas of Romanticism, which were a reaction to the Enlightenment.

Not surprisingly, the Romantic movement embarked on a path that was essentially regressive and anti-rational; characteristics that all too common today among left-wing environmentalists. At its forefront was German Romanticism; a home-grown ideology that was to become highly influential in melding primitive naturalism and German nationalism.

Prior to the 1870s, Germany did not exist as a unified nation but comprised a number of independent provinces, principalities and city-states. If a common language brought the Germanic people together under Otto von Bismarck, it was belief in a mythological rustic nationalism that forged them into a nation and helped develop belief in a destiny that reached its apotheosis between 1933 and 1945.

An early exponent of the naturalist-nationalist cause was Johann Gottlieb Fichte. In a series of essays entitled Addresses to the German Nation (1808), he emphasised the ‘particular spiritual nature of the human environment’ and urged the German peoples to ‘have character and be German’. In common with later German environmentalists his idea of Germanness was bound up with anti-Semitism. Fichte argued that ‘making Jews free German citizens would hurt the German nation.’

In 1815 Ernst Arndt published an essay, On the Care and Conservation of Forests, in which he laments the exploitation of the countryside and the encroachment of German industrial expansion leading to despoliation, especially of forests. Like many of today’s environmentalists and animal rights activists, he preached the inter-dependence of all things in nature.

German land and its peasantry were at the heart of Arndt’s polemics. By combining his love of Teutonic blood and soil with a hatred of Jews, Slavs and the French, he successfully welded environmentalism with German nationalism.

Extolment of the German peasant was also a major feature of Wilhelm Riehl’s opposition to the growth of cities and industry. A disciple of Arndt, Riehl wrote in his 1853 essay, Field and Forest, ‘We must save the forest, not only so that our ovens do not become cold in winter, but also so that the pulse of life of the people continues to beat warm and joyfully, so that Germany remains German.’ His entreaty to fight for ‘the rights of wilderness’ anticipated the kind of thinking that inspires Green activists today. Known as the founder of agrarian romanticism and anti-urbanism, Riehl contrasted the glorious German peasantry with cosmopolitan Jews.

Fichte, Riehl and Arndt looked back to a simplistic agrarian utopia that had never existed; it was an imaginary landscape where purity of blood was combined with German soil to produce a Teutonic paradise that could be compared to the purgatory of urban civilisation.

The views of all three thinkers were important in the development of a movement known as the Völkisch, a loose grouping of nationalistic conservatives who combined German history and folklore with anti-urbanism and a back-to-the-land ideology.

In the words of Petteri Pietikainen, the Völkisch movement was ‘a cauldron of beliefs, fears and hopes that found expression in various movements and were often articulated in an emotional tone... Völkisch ideology was originally an ultra-nationalist reaction against the dominant social, political and cultural trends of the 1870s and 1880s.’ (‘The Völk and its Unconscious: Jung, Hauer and the German Revolution’, Journal of Contemporary History 35.4, October 2000: p. 524)

The idealised image of simple, honest, upright country farmers building a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle underpinned by mystical union with the soil resonated with members of the Völkisch movement. To this lifestyle were added arcane and esoteric beliefs and a worship of German folk mythology to produce an ethnic nationalism that was to find its most emphatic artistic expression in the operas of Richard Wagner. Not surprisingly, cosmopolitan Jews were to have no place in this movement, or in the idealised German nation of the future.

The hackneyed word ecology was coined by the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel, who propounded a variation of social Darwinism combined with a materialistic interpretation of Spinoza and Bruno that he termed, monism—the premise that all true questions have only one true answer, all other answers being false. Haeckel’s anti-humanist philosophy aimed to reduce man to the level of just another animal; a view that is not uncommon among many environmentalists. His firm belief in the benefits of eugenics is echoed today by those who advocate the early disposal of retarded children and the elderly.

A believer in the superiority of the Nordic race, Haeckel brought together mystical racism with environmentalism, and preached a rabid nationalism and anti-Semitism that became an enduring feature of the German ecological movement.

In the view of Peter Staudenmaier (‘Fascist Ecology: The “Green Wing” of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents’, online essay) ‘ecology was bound up in an intensely reactionary political framework. The specific contours of this early marriage of ecology and authoritarian social views are highly instructive.’ Indeed they are, as the Greens consistently demonstrate.

Another of the most influential early ecologists was the German philosopher, Ludwig Klages. An opponent of rational thought, one who condemned ideas of progress and reason, Klages was also a fanatical anti-Semite. In the opinion of Walter Laqueur, he was ‘an intellectual pacemaker of the Third Reich’ who ‘paved the way for fascist philosophy in many important respects.’ (Young Germany: A History of the German Youth Movement, London, 1962, p. 34)

In his 1913 essay Man and Earth, Klages rails against the extinction of species, deforestation, destruction of the habitats of animals and indigenous people, urban expansion, human consumption, killing of whales and the increasing alienation of man from nature. Almost a hundred years later, the Greens express identical views and it is not surprising that Man and Earth was republished in 1980 to coincide with the founding of the German Greens Party.

At this point it is pertinent to seek an explanation for the high correlation between early environmentalism and anti-Semitism. In the first place, anti-Semitism had been preached in Germany for centuries by both the Catholic and Lutheran churches. Added to this, as far as German environmentalists were concerned, Jews were the antithesis of the idealised, conservative peasant who was bound to the soil and lived in perfect equilibrium with nature.

By contrast, German Jews were largely urbanised, increasingly educated, engaged in trade and commerce, and well represented in professions such as medicine and law. Aided by the influence of the Enlightenment, many had risen to positions of importance in German society. Nevertheless, Jews had never embraced Nordic mythology with its panoply of gods and spirits, and were too progressive to opt for a rural, subsistence lifestyle that environmentalists embrace.

The toxic mixture of mystical naturalism, extreme nationalism and anti-Semitism that characterised German environmentalism was to play an important part in the ideology of the Nazi Party.

In 1935, under the guidance of Hermann Göring, Germany passed the Reichsnaturschutzgesetz, a national conservation law that spelt out safeguards for flora, fauna and natural monuments. Wilhelm Lienenkamper, a leading conservationist of the day, saw the law not as ‘an accidental by-product of Nazi rule but a direct expression of the “new Weltanschauung”’. (Frank Uekoetter, The Green and the Brown, Cambridge, USA, 2006, p. 1)

One of the most influential thinkers in the formation of Nazi environmental ideology was Richard Walther Darré, who provided the party with an agrarian mystique that appealed to the German peasantry as well as to party leaders such as Rosenberg, Himmler and Hess. Referred to as ‘the father of the Greens’ (Anna Bramwell, ‘Darré. Was This Man “Father of the Greens”?’ History Today, Sept. 1984, Vol. 34, pp 7-13), Darré was Minister for Agriculture and Peasant Leader between 1933 and 1942.

Darré proposed that Europe should return to ruralism founded on a yeoman peasantry that would ensure racial health and ecological sustainability (Peter Staudenmaier, op. cit.). In a speech in 1930 entitled ‘Blood and Soil as the Foundations of the Nordic Race’, Darré claimed that ‘The unity of blood and soil must be restored.’

Another influential Nazi was Reichminister Fritz Todt, who established rigid criteria for protecting wetlands, forests and other sensitive areas. His chief adviser, Alwin Seifert, who was known within the party as ‘Mr Mother Earth’ advocated the total conversion of technology to nature.

In view of the Nazis’ wanton destruction, it is hard to imagine them in the vanguard of a movement that appeared committed to the environment, yet there was ‘an ideological overlap between Nazi ideas and conservationist agendas ... The Nazis created nature preserves, championed sustainable forestry, curbed air pollution, and designed the autobahn highway network as a way of bringing Germans closer to Nature’. (How Green were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich, Franz-Josef Bruggemeier, Mark Cioc, and Thomas Zeller (eds.), 2005)

Robert Pois (National Socialism and the Religion of Nature, London, 1985, p. 40) describes Nazism as ‘a volatile admixture of teutonic nature mysticism, pseudo-scientific ecology, irrationalist anti-humanism, and a mythology of racial salvation through a return to the land. Its predominant themes were “natural order”, organicist holism and denigration of humanity.’

The subservience of mankind to nature is emphasised in the following quotation that might well have been written by contemporary environmentalists who so delight in doomsday prophesies: ‘When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall.’ In fact, these words were written by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.

Interestingly, although powerful elements within the Nazi party were dedicated environmentalists, Hitler’s attempt at European domination ensured that conservation of nature took second place to rapid industrialisation. The protection of nature was never the most urgent aspect of Nazi policy.

Nevertheless, the ties that bound environmentalism to Nazism are easy to account for since, according to Jurriaan Maessen, ‘environmental fanatics care nothing for matters of liberty, gladly surrendering it to tyrants and their promises of environmental sustainability...most environmentalists love collectivism and are prepared to marry almost every regime that claims to work for a clean and green environment’. (‘The Green Nazis: Environmentalism in the Third Reich’, online essay; Frank Uekoetter, op. cit., p. 2).

No doubt Bob Brown would publicly distance himself from the extremism associated with the German founders of the environmental movement and the brutal excesses of the Nazis. To openly support them would attract few votes and the Australian Greens are hardly the Nazi party by another name.

Parallels between the Greens and [Nazis] are not in regard to policies but rather in respect of their common environmentalist roots, their quasi-religious dogmatism and their shared image of themselves as superior beings intent on converting modern, industrial society to an agrarian utopia.

Of utopias and movements that pertain to the perfect life, Sir Isaiah Berlin says: ‘it seems as if the doctrine that all kinds on monstrous cruelties must be permitted, because without these the ideal state of affairs cannot be attained … the perfect universe is not merely unattainable but inconceivable, and everything done to bring it about is founded on an enormous intellectual fallacy.’ (‘My Intellectual Path’ in The Power of Ideas. H. Hardy (ed.), London, 2001, p. 23)

Having taken it upon themselves to save the environment from trumped-up destruction, the Greens have become message-bearers of messianic significance. Yet their environmental and ecological policies are no more that the recycled detritus of German romanticism. Despite masquerading as a modern, progressive political force, the Greens are a party of reactionaries founded on hatred (or fear) of modernity and an unrealistic glorification of primitivism.

In an echo of the past, anti-Semitism of some party’s members, camouflaged as anti-Zionism, has come to the fore. An example was the decision in December 2010 of the NSW State Conference of the Australian Greens to support a boycott of Israel, and the failure of the Greens to support Senator Ron Boswell’s motion on 18 August 2011 condemning the boycott of Israeli-owned Max Brenner chocolate stores and all other Israeli companies.

To these decisions might be added the presence of Green’s Senator, Lee Rhiannon, at anti-Israel rallies accompanied by Sheikh Taj el-Din Hilaly who denounced Israel as a “terrorist state”, and her accusation that Israel had committed “crimes against humanity”. Support also came from her fellow senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, who attended an ‘Australians for Palestine’ rally where the mainly Muslim crowd carried swastikas and anti-Jewish banners.

Significantly, the Australian Greens do not protest against Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Gaza, etc where real crimes against humanity are everyday events, and where hatred of Israel and death to all Jews are sentiments that are officially encouraged.

The combination of the Green’s historical environmental credentials with an aggressive, anti-Israel posturing of some of the party’s senators—posturing that Bob Brown refused to condemn unequivocally—might appear to be a re-run of history. This was pointed-out by the NSW Attorney-General, Greg Smith, who accused the Greens of echoing the worst aspects of historical anti-Semitism in Europe (Australian, 24 August 2011).



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


7 August, 2012

Hansen's logic supports intelligent design

Global warming has long been used to justify burdensome regulations that increase costs, increases unemployment, increases dependency on government, and reduces our individual freedom.

Now, a recent global warming propaganda "study" says that meteorological and climate events over the last few years are so statistically rare that they must be man-made global warming. Translation: Global warming has been debunked by science.

“The relentless, weather-gone-crazy type of heat that has blistered the United States and other parts of the world in recent years is so rare that it can't be anything but man-made global warming, says a new statistical analysis from a top government scientist.

The research by a man often called the "godfather of global warming" says that the likelihood of such temperatures occurring from the 1950s through the 1980s was rarer than 1 in 300. Now, the odds are closer to 1 in 10, according to the study by NASA scientist James Hansen. He says that statistically what's happening is not random or normal, but pure and simple climate change…

"Rather than say, 'Is this because of climate change?' That's the wrong question. What you can say is, 'How likely is this to have occurred with the absence of global warming?' It's so extraordinarily unlikely that it has to be due to global warming," Weaver said.” (NBC)

This is an amazing scientific capitulation. This is an admission that science hasn’t been able to conclusively prove anything when it comes to global warming and/or its causes. They haven’t been able to link specific droughts or hurricanes to global warming, and haven’t been able to pin a bad fire season on it. The climate is just so complex that scientists haven’t been able to understand all the variables and how they interact… much less the source of any changes to those variables.

So, instead, the “godfather of global warming” has essentially said, “Nope, we can’t figure out the puzzle because it’s too complex. But statistically this is so unusual that it must be man-made global warming.”

Welcome to the world of Intelligent Design, Mr. Hansen.

Intelligent Design is a theory that competes with evolution. It states that many aspects of what we see in the species are too rare to be the result of anything other than a deliberate intelligent design. In other words, it wasn’t random mutations that evolved the species but a guiding hand implementing a purposeful intelligent design. While the theory doesn’t purport to define the “intelligence” that guided the changes to the species (could be God, could be aliens, as far as the theory is concerned), the implications are obvious.

While supporters of Intelligent Design have made many scientific arguments in favor of the theory, those arguments have been faced with objection from the more traditional “scientific community.” That’s healthy. Science is supposed to be about proposing theories and then others trying to tear it down. So for every argument an Intelligent Design supporter offers, an evolutionist will offer a counter-argument.

This has led to another approach for some supporters of Intelligent Design.

Rather than trying to prove something that cannot be scientifically proven (because there is no way to truly reproduce a test condition), they have taken to analyzing the issue statistically. They assign what they consider to be reasonable odds for various events taking place, and then use statistics to calculate the probability that those things could have all happened to produce the species we see around us.

But this statistical approach to the theory of Intelligent Design has long been disparaged by traditional scientists. One paper wrote criticizing the statistical approach to Intelligent Design wrote:

“The biosphere, even with all its marvels, as far as is now known very probably can be a simple accident; we mortals have no reason to reject such a presumption”

Another stated:

“The weakness is that statistical associations are not reliable indicators of causality.”

Another critique of statistics used to support Intelligent Design wrote:

“Probability and statistics are well developed disciplines with wide applicability to many branches of science, and it is not surprising that elaborate probabilistic arguments against evolution have been attempted. Careful evaluation of these arguments, however, reveals their inadequacies.”

Now the “godfather of global warming” is resorting to the same types of statistics to make the case for global warming. He explicitly says that the scientific community has been asking the wrong question—rather than trying to scientifically explain how any given event is a result of global warming (something that they don’t have the scientific knowledge to explain), the better question is to ask whether it’s statistically possible for the event to not be a result of global warming.

We find ourselves in a situation where if this global warming paper—based on statistics—is embraced by the media and/or the scientific community, the media and scientific community must also embrace the statistical arguments in favor of Intelligent Design.

So liberals have to pick their poison: 1) Accept the death of global warming because it’s being supported by the same arguments as Intelligent Design. 2) Accept Intelligent Design because it’s supported by the same arguments as global warming.

The more likely outcome is, of course, that this is just another one or two-day fluff piece to be promoted by the media to plant seeds of support in the minds of readers that don’t consider the wider implications of the assertion. Given this now “scientific” paradox between global warming and Intelligent Design, it’s safe to say that future global warming “science” won’t be built on this statistical paper.

But, regardless, what we can conclude is that global warming “science” is dead. They’ve given up on fudge-factor-filled climate models. They’ve given up trying to scientifically explain how it’s really possible for humans to have the impact they say we have on the climate. They’ve simply given up. Instead, they want us to trust their statistics.

Global warming has been dying a slow death for years. But global warming is now dead.

And, ironically, it was killed by the arguments liberals use against Intelligent Design.


Big Wind Boondoggle by Big-Spending Republicans

Big-spending Republicans should be afraid following the upset victories by Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz in Texas on Tuesday, over the establishment candidate David Dewhurst, and Richard Mourdock, over six-term incumbent Richard Lugar, in Indiana on May 9. On Thursday, Washington Post editorial board member, Jonathan Capeheartsaid: “Folks might not like the Tea Party much. But that’s not stopping this loosely affiliated band of people fed up with government spending and deficits from sending like-minded souls to Congress.”

Bloomberg Newssaid of the Cruz victory: “The Tea Party has no leader, no hierarchy and no national fundraising network, yet the insurgent political movement born of frustration at government spending has bolstered its clout—and its potential for aggravation—in the Republican Party with the nomination of U.S. Senate candidate and political newcomer Ted Cruz in Texas.”

The common thread in these quotes: “people fed up with government spending” and “born of frustration at government spending,” highlights the heart of the Tea Party movement—even though, is it just a “loosely affiliated band of people” with “no leader, no hierarchy and no national funding network.” The recent upsets reflect the grassroots’ growing dissatisfaction with the Republican Party’s failure to control spending.

Other than the August 14 senate race in Wisconsin where Mark Neumann and Eric Hovde are battling each other for the tea party backingin the race with establishment candidate, former governor Tommy Thompson, the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy may be the next line of battle between the Tea Party Republicans and establishment Republicans hesitant to curb their big-spending ways.

I have writtenseveralcolumnsin opposition to the PTC extension, but if you are not familiar with it, David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation explains it this way: “The wholesale prices of electricity in the different U.S. markets average from less than three cents per kilowatt hour (kW-h) to about 4.5 cents per kW-h. The PTC provides a subsidy of 2.2 cents per kW-h to wind energy producers. So this PTC subsidy is equivalent to 50 percent to 70 percent of the wholesale price of electricity.” To which Phil Kerpen of American Commitment adds: “So taxpayers pick up more than half the cost for wind power—and even then many wind projects are struggling. It will never work, at any cost, because the concept of large-scale industrial wind power is based on bad science.”

When thinking about the PTC, it is important to realize that we, the taxpayers, have already been subsidizing the wind energy industry for more than 20 years and that the wind energy lobbyists, advocates, and manufacturers acknowledge that if the PTC is not extended, the industry cannot survive.

Surprisingly, the first shot in the spend/don’t spend battle over the extension of the PTC came from the “moderate” presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, when he came out on Mondaywith a statement regarding allowing the “longstanding tax credits that help finance wind energy projects” to expire, as scheduled, at the end of this year—a position in line with the Tea Party’s “frustration at government spending.”

According to Shawn McCoy, a spokesman for Romney’s Iowa campaign, “He will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits. Wind energy will thrive wherever it is economically competitive, and wherever private sector competitors with far more experience than the president believe the investment will produce results.”

While this newly announced position splits Romney and Obama, it also splits the more conservative Republicans and the establishment Republicans—especially those from “wind states” such as Senator Charles Grassley (IA) and Senator Orrin Hatch (UT).

On Thursday, before leaving for a five-week vacation, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana moved a so-called tax extenders bill through the Senate Finance Committee—which would keep the PTC alive. According to the AP. “The $200 billion-plus package was approved by the Senate Finance Committee Thursday on a bipartisan 19-5 vote.” Regarding the inclusion of the PTC in the bill, AP said: “That provision was initially targeted for elimination, but garnered critical support from Republicans like Charles Grassley of Iowa.” (Apparently Grassley has decided that it’s a good strategy to publicly slap Romney's face.)

On Wednesday, before the vote, many groups, including Energy Makes America Great Inc., urged people to call the Senate Finance Committee Members and tell them not to vote for a bill that extended the PTC.

One citizen frustrated with government spending contacted Senator Grassley’s office to voice her opposition to the PTC extension. The aide asked where she was from. She told him: “Western New York State, where they are dumping these giant wind installations throughout entire townships and rendering people’s homes worthless.” The aide replied, “Well, Senator Grassley is responsible for Iowans.” To which she said, “Excuse me? As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Grassley is responsible to ALL Americans! And we are damn sick and tired of the corporate welfare that’s going on to the likes of GE, BP, and Iberdrola via the PTC, while rendering many people’s most expensive life investment worthless.” She reports that the conversation continued for a bit, during which time the aide repeated that “Senator Grassley is responsible to Iowans.” Her email with this account included a link to Grassley’s Facebook page and concluded: “Let this guy have it!! The Tea Party needs to go after this Grassley!!!”

I posted the following on his Facebook page: “As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator, you are responsible to ALL Americans. If your office is not willing to listen to opinions from all Americans, please remove yourself from this important committee.” The post was promptly removed.

Senator Grassley is not a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He is an establishment Republican, so his vote to extend the PTC should not be shocking—just disappointing. However, Senator Jerry Moran (KS) is a Tea Party Caucus Member (TPCM). He is not on the Senate Finance Committee, so he couldn’t vote on Thursday’s bill, but my call to his office—and the offices of the other Senate TPCM—revealed that Moran is the only Senate TPCM who does support the extension of the PTC. My calls found that Senators DeMint, Lee, and Paul are each opposed to the extension.

I also called through the list of House TPCMs, as the House will vote on the PTC extension if it makes it through the Senate. Most politicos believe the extension will be addressed in the lame duck session so I wanted to get them on record regarding their philosophy on the PTC extension—which means more government boondoggle, less fiscal responsibility. Due to their summer recess, my research was inconclusive, but I did find that Representatives Coffman (CO), Farenthold (TX), Fleming (LA), Lamborn (CO), McClintock (CA), Pearce (NM), Stearns (FL), and Wilson (SC) were willing to be bold and oppose the PTC extension. Kline (MN) is not a TPCM, but has been strong in his opposition to the PTC extension. Coffman (CO) supports phasing it out, Franks (AZ) is probably “No,” and Smith (TX) is leaning toward “No.” The only House TPCMs who support this government spending are King (IA) and Bartlett (MD). The following said it depends on the exact bill and were unwilling to take a philosophical stand on the issue—and therefore should receive pressure: Akin (MO), Alexander (LA), Carter (TX), Cassidy (LA), Coble (NC). Every other House TPCM was undecided or unavailable.

After the Senators get back from recess, there will be a full Senate vote on the bill—which will likely go through several revisions before a vote.

Remember, back in June 2009, the Democratically-controlled House passed the cap and trade bill? It did not make it to a vote before the Democratically-controlled Senate members left for their summer break. That summer two things happened: the Tea Party and townhall meetings. The newly energized Tea Party types showed up at the “townhalls.” Senators got an earful. When they want back to DC in September, cap and trade was dead—a great victory

This summer, Tea Party types, once again, need to give their Senators an earful—especially the Republican Senators like Grassley (IA), Hatch (UT), Crapo (ID), and Roberts (KS) who voted for the “extender bill” and TPCM Moran (KS) who will, if it makes it to a floor vote.

The “right” thinking Senators of both parties must know that we have to stop this excessive bleeding of fiscal spending while we still have a chance to stop the slide toward Spain—whose green energy policies have helped push them toward bankruptcy. If they don’t “know,” we, and their TPCM colleagues, can help them.


Be a Patriot: Expand Your Carbon Footprint Today

"I'm proposing a bold conservation program to involve every state, county, and city and every average American in our energy battle. This effort will permit you to build conservation into your homes and your lives at a cost you can afford. I ask Congress to give me authority for mandatory conservation and for standby gasoline rationing. To further conserve energy, I'm proposing tonight an extra ten billion dollars over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems. And I'm asking you for your good and for your nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense, I tell you it is an act of patriotism." – President Jimmy Carter, 1977

Ever since Jimmy Carter took to the airwaves to urge us all to conserve energy in one of the most demoralizing speeches given by an American president, Americans have been ignoring the radical Left’s call for “energy efficiency” in favor of a more pragmatic approach.

Instead, Americans have adopted a policy that allows consumers to pick and choose where to conserve and where to expend. That’s why despite higher gas prices, Americans still make trucks the number-one selling domestic auto even though they are less “fuel efficient.”

But over the last ten years, the left has gotten slicker in their rhetoric, more sophisticated in their packaging, and have sold American policy-makers the great swindle of energy efficiency as a matter of economics. And like all swindles, it takes money from the unsuspecting and puts money into the pockets of the liars and the cheats, leaving its victims worse off and often not knowing why.

In late September of last year, one of the liars, the American Council of Energy Efficiency (ACEEE), released their 5th annual report on energy efficient states at the National Press Club in Washington, DC in another futile and laughable attempt to bolster the liberals’ “new energy economy” with hot air rather than actual energy or money.

The ACEEE report showed that for the first time Massachusetts knocked California off the top of the list as the most energy efficient state. Also making the top ten were New York, Oregon, Vermont, District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut and Maryland.

The states that ranked worst in energy efficiency were South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming.

But don’t ask ACEEE to demonstrate the economic- that is, monetary- benefits of being energy efficient, because they can’t. Instead, using less energy is counted by ACEEE as a benefit in and of itself with invaluable social rewards much higher than money. That’s why the report conveniently ignores the fact that the most energy efficient states have higher unemployment numbers than less efficient states.

When you look at the average unemployment numbers of the most efficient and least efficient states, as of September 2011, the stats show that the more energy efficient states lagged their lesser efficient brethren by 1.1 percentage points in unemployment.

The least efficient states enjoyed an average unemployment rate of 7.48 percent while the most energy efficient states had an average rate at 9 percent joblessness, right around the US average. That’s a 12 percent advantage in jobs for the big energy users; and more than just statistical noise.

You see, liberal energy efficiency advocates don’t want efficient energy production. Instead, they want energy rationing, just like liberals want healthcare rationing, wealth rationing and resource rationing. As a result, energy efficiency programs don’t deliver the economic benefits that its boosters claim, but rather just the opposite. They promise nebulous or outright fabricated economic benefits that distress the economy and job creation as a whole.

Take, for example, another report issued by ACEEE called Emerging Hot Water Technologies and Practices for Energy Efficiency as of 2011. The Council claims that changing to more efficient ways of heating hot water can save consumers $18 billion in their one-pager on the report; but later, in the body of the report, they admit that “In some cases, the technologies do not promise high returns on investment (fast payback), but the technologies offer new or improved amenity that consumers value (shorter waits for hot water, continuous hot water, etc.). These technologies are likely to be chosen for these tangible benefits, and will also save energy.”

Quicker hot water is not a tangible benefit, unless of course, someone is making the mathematical argument that all the time spent during the life of a person waiting for hot water can be used for some other productive purpose. In either event ACEEE doesn’t make that argument. In fact, consumers would likely pay more for a device that delivers hot water on demand.

Instead, ACEEE undercuts the great consumer benefits of “continuous hot water” by pointing out that the entire market for energy efficiency has been artificially created by the Energy Star program, another legislative mandate foisted on the economy by the federal government. In other words, consumers found the benefits of energy efficiency so unattractive that the federal government had to create a market for it by telling manufacturers: “Thou shall comply with Energy Star 4.0.”

Energy Star is supposed to a “voluntary” program, but in fact, as we found out with incandescent light-bulbs, voluntary inevitably becomes mandatory because the math doesn’t add up. The cost to make a new home Energy Star compliant is estimated by the EPA to be around $4,000-$5,000, while the savings for consumers for all Energy Star-rated appliances only amounted to around $18 million in reduced energy bills for 2010, also according to the EPA. That means that after the first 4500 Energy Star-compliant homes, the program is costing money. But the agency is quick to point out that carbon reduction under Energy Star equals 33 million vehicles. And if you can tell me what that’s worth, you can have a Nobel Prize. And if you can tell me what the Nobel Prize is worth…well never mind.

That industries are finding creative ways of complying with the Energy Star mandates is a credit to what is left of free markets in the United States, rather than an affirmation of a federal policy unsustainable by the cost-benefit analysis of its energy efficiency mandates. Energy Star guidelines only measure energy savings, not total cost in relation to energy savings. An appliance can have half of the life and twice the cost while still being rated as Energy Star efficient because it uses 20 percent less energy than a competing device.

The only way the liberal economic charade of energy efficiency makes sense is if you start from the proposition that all energy consumption is bad and must be reduced no matter the cost. I would argue the inverse. I would argue that energy consumption is good; that the United States should do what it can to enlarge its carbon footprint, not shrink it. It’s the misbegotten idea that energy costs our economy rather than fuels it that is one of the prime weaknesses of any economic policy enacted by liberals.

That belief does doesn’t just cost us jobs, it costs liberals elections, too.

And that is more than just common sense, I tell you; it is an act of patriotism.


British government warned: Wind Energy Is Extraordinarily Expensive And Inefficient

By Dr Gordon Hughes, a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches courses in the Economics of Natural Resources and Public Economics

In his economic analysis, submitted by the GWPF to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, Prof Hughes concludes that meeting the Government's target for renewable generation would increase households electricity bills by 40-60% by 2020.

The necessary investment for this Wind scenario would amount to about £124 billion. The same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants with a capital cost of £13 billion - the latter option is cheaper by an order of magnitude.

According to Professor Hughes, "the average household electricity bill would increase from £528 per year at 2010 prices to a range from £730 to £840 in 2020 under the Mixed Wind scenario. These figures amount to increases of 38% to 58% in the average household bill relative to the baseline under the Gas scenario. The equivalent ranges for the other scenarios are 29-46% for the More Onshore Wind scenario and 40-62% for the Future Offshore Wind scenario."

"The key problems with current policies for wind power are simple. They require a huge commitment of investment to a technology that is not very green, in the sense of saving a lot of CO2, but which is certainly very expensive and inflexible. Unless the current Government scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, its policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder," Professor Hughes said.


UK’s Energy Policy ‘Schizophrenia’ Spreads to Europe

Who’d have thought it? The medievalists at Greenpeace have finally made a useful contribution to the energy debate by insisting Britain has two energy policies. They’re right. As the ideological fault-line in the UK coalition government is increasingly laid bare by the in-fighting between (Conservative) Chancellor George Osborne’s Treasury Department and (Lib Dem) Ed Davey’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the signs are that a new economic energy realism is also biting in Europe.

In late July Davey’s DECC won a pyrrhic victory against the UK Chancellor’s Treasury Department keeping a proposed cut of 25 percent to wind subsidies to a mere 10 percent. But the price for Davey was green-lighting a UK government push in support of natural gas; a move that will, ultimately, prove devastating to the anti-fossil fuel ambitions of Davey and his Lib Dem colleagues policies – although not for the free market and the UK economy.

UK onshore wind farms still depend on the lifeline of 100 percent taxpayer subsidy, with offshore running at around 200 percent. In 2012, UK wind farm subsidies will hit £1 billion for the first time. With end consumers footing the tab for this exercise in ideological economic plunder, power companies and wind farm developers alike are clearly greatly ‘incentivized’ to maximise their windfall ‘dividend’.

According to Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) figures, current renewable energy targets are on course to provide the power companies with a windfall of £100 billion from the subsidy regime by 2030. The top ten wind farm developing companies are set to net a mere £800 million between them in the next year alone. The Danish company Dong is the chief beneficiary of this government largesse, expecting to rake in over £156 million. And that’s before the additional guaranteed profit from its power sales to the National Grid via the market-skewing Renewables Obligation scheme, which guarantees ‘green’ electricity producers a fixed price.

Chancellor Osborne knows that UK industry has been hit hard by energy costs, especially the steel and chemical industries. Osborne knows he has little control over international energy prices. But he knows he can do something about the network of green levies augmenting those prices. Of late he has promised to help local communities block onshore wind farm developments against revised planning regulations which have effectively disenfranchised local communities. Osborne has called for an end to the UK’s unilateral climate and renewable targets and ditch entirely the post-2020 EU-imposed decarbonization strategy. Coupled with the Treasury’s austerity programme that is imposing much-needed cuts to the UK’s bloated public sector, the call for Osborne’s political head is, not surprisingly, on the increase, aided by a strong leftwing media.

Business Green’s James Murray is typical; recent commentaries being replete with the kind of anti-intellectual bunk that only a Guardian network publication could muster. If Osborne is successful, Murray has it, “the history of UK climate change policy” will ultimately be written “probably from a bunker in Northern Scandinavia”; Osborne having “finally shattered” the political climate consensus. For Murray, the Climate Change Act that currently enshrines the UK’s ludicrously over-ambitious, economy-sapping, decarbonisation targets is an inviolable bulwark against the “Tea-party-fication of British politics” and Osborne’s “fossilised vision for Gas-land UK”.

But the fact is, George Osborne’s Treasury is acting in the interest of the country. Osborne and the Treasury are proceeding on solid market advice that gas-fired electricity will remain far cheaper than renewables. This is clearly borne out by the revolutionising of manufacturing industry and reduction in energy costs in America – the direct result of the U.S. shale gas revolution. Osborne is also well aware that Britain is sitting on at least 20 trillion cubic feet of shale gas of its own, enough on its own to meet the country’s gas needs for two years without factoring in North Sea or other imported gas supplies. Meanwhile, North Sea energy is – due to ever-developing technology – the national gift that just refuses to quit. The recent acquisition of 8 percent of North Sea resources by China’s SINOPEC bearing out the fact.

But while George Osborne’s vision is certainly aimed at derailing the Green Deal Decarbonization Gravy Train, the accusation of climate ‘vandalism’ must be levelled far wider than just at him. The U.S. economy is in severe danger of being revived by what is happening in its shale gas and oil sectors. Just for good measure, the switch to gas has had a surprising ‘green’ benefit; a significant reduction in carbon emissions; a decarbonising ‘success’ story that appears not to have been missed at EU HQ.

A similar tension to that causing rift among UK government departments has emerged at the EU. In late July, the European Energy Commissioner Günter Oettinger spoke warmly of how the US is aiming to “re-industrialise the country first by oil” and “by accepting some risks with offshore drilling for own resources” including “tar sands and others”. In contrast, laments Oettinger “we import oil and have high taxation”. Europe’s energy minister has also recently mooted the notion of increasing European industrialisation from 18 to 20 percent by 2020; an achievement that would have to be fossil-fuel driven.

The green lobbies, alerted to Oettinger’s “unguarded” comments, are plainly concerned that the UK’s energy policy schizophrenia has not only spread to Europe but is indicative of growing sentiment in Europe’s capitals. Europe is already undermining its own decarbonisation regime by investing heavily in coal, now the cheapest electric power fuel. Perpetuated by its own anti-fracking, anti-shale gas policies, Europe continues to remain largely dependent on Russia’s gas imports.

Yet, late last year, the IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (IHS CERA) released a report showing that Europe’s shale gas and coal-bed methane prospects rival that of North America. However, the evidence that Europe’s biting economic crisis is driving a greater, fossil-fuelled, energy realism is mounting. Spain has not only been forced to terminate its renewable energy subsidies, it has recently committed to imposing a tax on renewable-sourced energy. Bulgaria has eased a ban that prevents exploitation of its shale energy potential.

But, most significantly, for Germany, Europe’s largest economy, energy is fast-becoming a key issue in the run up to next year’s election with the country’s politicians stalling over the switch from nuclear power to reliance on renewable power. Germany’s banks have recently been banned from financing offshore windfarms. And with over 600,000 households being disconnected annually as electricity bills soar, Germans voters are well aware that up to 22 trillion cubic meters (780 Tcf) of shale gas reserves may lie right under their feet.

Ultimately, Joe Citizen is going to have to resolve the growing ‘schizophrenia’ at the ballot box as the issue of green energy taxes rises up the political agenda. And which way ‘Joe’ votes ought to be guided by one of two beliefs: one in the transformational gas-fired US experience – the other in the Greenpeace-Murray “bunker in northern Scandinavia” fantasy.

Tough call that.


Australia: Low income earners burnt as cost of solar subsidy spirals

RENTERS, pensioners and other low-income earners are paying for their wealthier neighbours to enjoy cheaper power under the state's skyrocketing solar subsidy system.

The Queensland Consumers Association says costs to subsidise solar are forecast to triple, as the state's bill to fund the scheme continues to grow.

More than 100,000 applications were received last month from homeowners wanting to profit from the state's generous 44c per kilowatt hour tariff - twice the retail power rate - which will continue for 16 years.

By installing solar systems up to 5kW, the mostly well-heeled applicants stand to earn $200-$300 a quarter from a subsidy that is costing their non-solar neighbours more each year.

One of those who applied was Algester resident Ron Ruys, who feels badly for his neighbours who are indirectly helping to pay for a $10,000 5kW system that will earn him extra income.

"I'm going to do it and I'm going to make money out of it," he said. "But it is unfair to other people because of the subsidy. I don't think people know what the 44c means to their bill."

Energy Minister Mark McArdle has estimated the tariff would cost $1.8 billion by 2028 if the scheme remained unchanged. The July 9 deadline limiting future payments at an 8c cent rate.

The Government projects that the annual cost of the subsidy will rise from $50 to $100 for each household from the surge in applications, and another $50 for upgrades to the power grid.

Whether the increases will become a reality depends on whether the Government is successful in cutting expenses elsewhere in the budgets of power suppliers, including "community services".

Queensland Consumers Association vice-president Ian Jarratt said the threat of a $100 annual hike should be a concern for many people trying to stretch their income.

"A dollar is always more for a pensioner," he said.

The association said it voiced concerns about the scheme's cost several years ago to state officials. "Things had been done far too quickly and not thought through enough, especially about the cost to consumers who could not afford to install solar systems," Mr Jarratt said.

The solar scheme has had some benefits: creating employment for thousands of installers, reducing the state's dependence on coal and lowering carbon emissions.

Prices of home solar systems have dropped 50 per cent.

Installer numbers have increased from 78 in 2008 to more than 1100 today. The number of customers has increased from 1200 to around 180,000.

On the downside, "all Queensland households and small businesses indirectly foot the bill", Mr McArdle said.

The Government said it was obliged by legislation to continue the 44c tariff for the next 16 years, and risked lawsuits if it reneged.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


6 August, 2012

Hansen's selective history

Any idea why Hansen chose to survey only the last 60 years? No mystery at all: That avoids the '30s, which were hotter and attended by more extreme weather than now. What a fraud! Steve McIntyre details some of the severe droughts of past centuries, many much worse than anything today

HUMAN-DRIVEN climate change is to blame for a series of increasingly hot summers and the situation is already worse than was expected just two decades ago, a top NASA scientist says. James Hansen, who directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote in the Washington Post on Saturday that even his "grim" predictions of a warming future, delivered before the US Senate in 1988, were too weak.

"I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic," Hansen wrote.

"My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather."

Hansen and his colleagues have published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences an analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, revealing a "stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers," he wrote.

Describing "deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present," Hansen said the analysis was based not on models or predictions, "but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened."

The peer-reviewed study shows global temperature has been steadily rising due to a warming climate, about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) in the past century, and that extreme events are more frequent.

The study echoes the findings of international research released last month that climbing greenhouse gas emissions boosted the odds of severe droughts, floods and heatwaves in 2011.

Hansen said the European heatwave of 2003, the Russian heatwave of 2010 and massive droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year could each be attributed to climate change.

"And once the data are gathered in a few weeks' time, it's likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now," he said.


Yet more evidence that the Middle Ages were warmer than today

Discussing: Bunbury, J. and Gajewski, K. 2012. Temperatures of the past 2000 years inferred from lake sediments, southwest Yukon Territory, Canada. Quaternary Research 77: 355-367.


Bunbury and Gajewski obtained sediment cores from Jenny Lake (61.04°N, 138.36°W) that "yielded chironomid records that were used to provide quantitative estimates of mean July air temperature." As to how this was done, they write that "inference models were developed to estimate mean July air temperature from the fossil chironomid data using 145 modern sites from Barley et al. (2006), 39 sites from Wilson and Gajewski (2004), and an additional two sites from Bunbury and Gajewski (2008)," which exercise, in their words, "resulted in a new chironomid calibration dataset containing 186 samples, 74 species, and 17 environmental variables."

This effort revealed the existence of "relatively warm conditions during medieval times, centered on AD 1200, followed by a cool Little Ice Age, and warming temperatures over the past 100 years." And from the authors Figure 8, reproduced below, it can be estimated that the Medieval Warm Period at Jenny Lake extended from about AD 1100 to 1350, and that the most recent (AD 1990) of their temperature determinations was about 0.8°C cooler than the peak warmth of the Medieval Warm Period.

Figure 1. Chironomid-inferred mean July air temperatures for Jenny Lake, Canada. Adapted from Bunbury and Gajewski (2012).


The pathetic bleat of the Warmists to findings such as the above is to say that the MWP was a "local" North Atlantic phenomenon. But the Yukon is a long way from the Atlantic -- JR

Rate of Sea Level Rise: Predictions vs. Measurements

Discussing: Boretti, A.A. 2012. Short term comparison of climate model predictions and satellite altimeter measurements of sea levels. Coastal Engineering 60: 319-322.


The author begins by noting that in its report of 2007, the IPCC projected that global sea level was likely to rise somewhere between 18 and 59 cm by 2100; but he says that certain "model-based analyses performed recently have predicted much higher sea level rise [SLR] for the twenty-first century," even "exceeding 100 cm if greenhouse gas emissions continue to escalate," citing most pointedly in this regard the studies of Rahmstorf (2007, 2010). However, he notes that studies reaching just the opposite conclusion have also been published, referencing those of Holgate (2007), Wunsch et al. (2007), Wenzel and Schroter (2010) and Houston and Dean (2011).

What was done

Working with what he calls "the best source of global sea level data," which he identifies as the TOPEX and Jason series of satellite radar altimeter data, Boretti applies simple statistics to the two decades of information they contain to "better understand if the SLR is accelerating, stable or decelerating."

What was learned

The Australian scientist reports that the average rate of SLR over the almost 20-year period of satellite radar altimeter observations is 3.1640 mm/year, which if held steady over a century would yield a mean global SLR of 31.64 cm, which is just a little above the low-end projection of the IPCC for the year 2100. However, he also finds that the rate of SLR is reducing over the measurement period at a rate of -0.11637 mm/year2, and that this deceleration is also "reducing" at a rate of -0.078792 mm/year3.

What it means

Boretti writes that the huge deceleration of SLR over the last 10 years "is clearly the opposite of what is being predicted by the models," and that "the SLR's reduction is even more pronounced during the last 5 years." To illustrate the importance of his findings, he notes that "in order for the prediction of a 100-cm increase in sea level by 2100 to be correct, the SLR must be almost 11 mm/year every year for the next 89 years," but he notes that "since the SLR is dropping, the predictions become increasingly unlikely," especially in view of the facts that (1) "not once in the past 20 years has the SLR of 11 mm/year ever been achieved," and that (2) "the average SLR of 3.1640 mm/year is only 20% of the SLR needed for the prediction of a one meter rise to be correct."

Clearly, the more-rabid-than-the-IPCC-crowd has it all wrong when it comes to both sea level and climate, for as Boretti concludes, "the oceans are truly the best indicator of climate," and what they suggest is not compatible with what those alarmed about climate change continually claim. This is the crystal-clear sermon preached by the satellite radar altimeter data; and we give it a loud Amen!


Diversity of opnion not allowed among Warmists

A couple of Warmists decided to interview Richard Muller, who has recently claimed, with no discernible logic, that his temperature measurements support the idea of man-made global warming. They were outraged that he did not buy into the whole range of Warmist scares and were apalled when he said said that many were exaggerated. See below.

After an extended period of contact with the temperature record, the one thing Muller could not have avoided seeing was how tiny the temperature rise has been, so it is no wonder that he cannot see all the dramas attributed to it by Warmists.

Note that the Warmists, as usual, quote not one scientific fact. It's all appeals to authority (aka Leftist intellectual fashions)

On Wednesday, Progressive Radio Network host/veteran green journalist Betsy Rosenberg and I were honored to interview, the one-time climate change skeptic Dr. Richard Muller, whose Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project --- which was funded in part, ironically enough, by the notorious climate change deniers at the Charles G. Koch Foundation --- recently came to the same conclusion that virtually all climate scientists not affiliated with libertarian think tanks have long since recognized: climate change is "real" and "humans are almost entirely the cause," thanks to the the anthropogenic release of greenhouse gases. [Our audio interview is posted in full below.]

As a Republican who had a similar climate awakening nearly two years ago myself, I looked forward to speaking to Dr. Muller; in the moments before the interview, I wondered if we could find some common ground.

Let's just say I was too naïve for my own good...

The interview, before it became rather feisty, began as pleasantly as possible, with Rosenberg asking Muller about the study's conclusions. Muller was quite proud of the so-called "BEST" team, boasting of the group's qualifications and objectivity.

I then asked Muller about his contention that Hurricane Katrina had nothing to do with global warming. Considering that Boston Globe reporter-turned-environmental activist Ross Gelbspan noted in 2005 that Katrina's "real name was global warming," I found Muller's claim curious to say the least. Muller suggested that Gelbspan was trafficking in exaggeration, though a plain reading of Gelbspan's piece indicates that Gelbspan only contended that Katrina was a sign of things to come climate-wise. Muller resisted this interpretation, and also firmly rejected Bill McKibben's 2011 contention that Hurricane Irene's "middle name" was global warming.

Rosenberg asked Muller about one of his old assertions: that Al Gore exaggerated the risks of global warming in Davis Guggenheim's 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Muller doubled down, alleging that Gore played fast and loose with the facts regarding sea level rise --- a point debunked by Peter Sinclair in this 2009 video --- and suggesting that climate activists were ill-served by making what he viewed as hyperbolic claims about future peril. He even went so far as to offer a tortured definition of the idea of "skepticism" by equating Gore with climate change skeptics, just "on the other side" of the data spectrum, somehow.

But the interview's friendly climate changed and really began to heat up when I asked Muller if his findings finally put to rest the far Right's claim that the cockamamie (and debunked-many times-over) "Climategate" affair "proved" that climate scientists linked to the pseudo-scandal were fudging their global warming data.

Incredibly, Muller asserted that "Climategate" was not a settled issue, and that the scientists involved were found to have "hidden" data. (He also asserted, without evidence to support it, that the "controversial" e-mails at the center of the pseudo-scandal were intentionally "leaked by a member of the team," rather than hacked. He claims that "most people" believe that to be the case, though he was unable or unwilling to back up that element of his charge either.) I pointed out that eight different investigations all found that no data manipulation took place; he asserted that temperature data had been "hidden", not manipulated. When I asked if "hiding" data was not a form of manipulation, he gave a muddled non-answer (though he made sure to get in some particularly nasty, and seemingly personal, shots at acclaimed Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann).

Rosenberg then addressed America's recently-shattered temperature records, wildfires and unrelenting drought, asking Muller if there was a clear link between these extreme weather events and climate change; Muller, again, curiously downplayed any connection, ultimately suggesting that the drought wasn't that much different from the 1930s Dust Bowl.

I told Muller that those of us who are concerned about carbon pollution are frustrated for good reason: the efforts to educate the public about the risks of climate change have been sabotaged by corporate libertarians who have used a political party and a "news" network to sell folks on the falsehood that the world is getting cooler when it is not. Muller agreed that the disinformation campaign (which is, of course, financed by such figures as his own benefactors, Charles and David Koch) is part of the problem, but once again suggested that alleged climate alarmism is also a problem.

More HERE (See the original for links)

No, no. Say it isn't true: Twenty-three new coal-fired power plants are being built across Germany

They are even using the hated brown coal (It's cheap). How COULD They? Burning more coal in the Greenest country on earth (and the "Urquelle" of Greenieness)? Surely reality has not encroached!

Twenty-three new coal-fired power plants are being built across Germany, with the capacity to generate 24,000 megawatts. Campaigners for the environment protection group Greenpeace say these new plants will emit 150 million tons of CO2 each year.

Plans by the minister to construct even more plants are being heavily criticized by the opposition and environmental groups, who believe high carbon dioxide emissions are the driving force behind climate change. “Whoever is serious about energy and climate change cannot be in favor of coal-fired power plants,” Jürgen Trittin, head of the Greens political party, said in an interview when asked about Altmaier's remarks.

Greenpeace too is concerned, “We don't support the building of new coal-fired plants at all, as they are likely to remain on the grid for around 40 years. This blocks the transition towards power from renewable sources for years,” said Gerald Neubauer, an energy expert with Greenpeace, in an interview with DW. Instead, he demanded stronger support for power from renewable sources, together with the use of gas-fired plants. According to Neubauer, such plants would also be easier to handle when it comes to balancing out contributions of power from renewable sources to the grid.

Another point that favors the building of new coal-fired plants for Altmaier is cost, as electricity from renewable sources is still relatively expensive. In order not to jeopardize the German economy, one would have to “be in a position to be able to offer energy at prices that can compare with that of the main power competitors in other industrialized countries.” For this to be successful, it is necessary to convince pre-existing industry of its benefits.


GOP Probe: White House “pressure” made Solyndra deal

A congressional report concluded Friday that "political pressure" by a White House eager to tout stimulus spending was largely to blame for fast-tracking the ill-fated $535 million Solyndra loan guarantee -- findings compounded by the release of an email that showed the former CEO once referred to the aid as "The Bank of Washington."

The email and the report were released by Republicans, who continue to use the scandal to portray the Obama administration as careless with taxpayer money in pursuit of its alternative-energy agenda.

The email, posted online by the Republican National Committee, was a late 2009 message from ex-CEO Chris Gronet. "The Bank of Washington continues to help us!" he exclaimed, pointing to the recently approved loan guarantee and other tax incentives the company might use.

The report, meanwhile, was released by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and caps a nearly yearlong investigation by the panel into why the government allegedly ignored red flags to approve the loan. Solyndra, a solar-panel firm, filed for bankruptcy last year.

"It is clear (the Department of Energy) should never have issued the loan guarantee to Solyndra," the report said, adding that a subsequent decision to restructure the terms "violated the plain language of the law."

The report, which follows another GOP-authored congressional study earlier this week on the Justice Department's Fast and Furious scandal, is sure to fuel an election-year furor over questionable taxpayer investments in private companies.

The Obama administration has argued that the overall loan guarantee program has been successful and critical to supporting alternative energy innovators. In response Thursday, the administration blasted the GOP report and defended the integrity of the program.

"This is month 18 of this congressional investigation and everything disclosed ... affirms what we said on day one: this was a merit based decision made by the Department of Energy," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. "As Republicans won't answer how much investigation has cost taxpayers, we believe they should instead be focused on legislation to creating jobs and grow the economy."

But an overriding theme in Thursday's report is that the Department of Energy was under pressure from the beginning in 2009 to approve the Solyndra loan guarantee despite warning signs.

"This report conclusively shows that DOE pushed forward with the guarantee despite these warnings because of the Obama administration's desire to use the Solyndra guarantee to highlight its stimulus," the report said.

The report cited a March 2009 phone call between an Energy Department official and the White House, calling that the genesis of the "conditional commitment" -- incidentally just a few weeks before a major Obama speech on the stimulus -- though "key terms" of the deal were not settled.

Further, the report said the September 2009 closing was guided by a Sept. 4 groundbreaking event, claiming the closing date was set by the White House and Energy Department before the budget office's review.

That review, the report said, then "took a mere 9 days, even though it was the first DOE loan guarantee ever made."

The report concluded that the overall loan guarantee program was a "poor fit for the stimulus," citing an October 2010 memo that noted some projects probably would have gone forward without federal funding.

The report did not level corruption charges at the administration, despite early suggestions by lawmakers that cronyism was at play. The report did claim that George Kaiser, an Obama backer whose foundation invested heavily in Solyndra, was "closely involved" in decisions on the loan.

Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would end for good the loan guarantee program and impose new safeguards over existing loans.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


5 August, 2012

New picture gallery

Every six months or so I put up a picture gallery consisting of what I think are the "best" pictures that have appeared on my various blogs. The January to June, 2012 gallery is accessible here. Greenies get some prominent mentions.

Greenland's ice sheets 'less vulnerable than feared' claim scientists as stunning new pictures reveal ice loss has slowed

"Poof" goes another scare. That the climate goes through cycles always seems to surprise Warmists. They mostly seem to live in a world where only the present is real. Getting them to look at history is like pulling teeth

Greenland's ice seems less vulnerable than feared to a runaway melt that would drive up world sea levels, according to a study showing that a surge of ice loss had petered out.

'It is too early to proclaim the 'ice sheet's future doom' caused by climate change', lead author Kurt Kjaer of the University of Copenhagen wrote in a statement of the findings in the journal Science.

An examination of old photos taken from planes revealed a sharp thinning of glaciers in north-west Greenland from 1985 to 1993, the experts in Denmark, Britain and the Netherlands wrote.

Another pulse of ice loss in the area lasted from 2005 to 2010.

The discovery of fluctuations casts doubt on projections that Greenland could be headed for an unstoppable meltdown, triggered by manmade global warming. Greenland contains enough ice to raise sea levels by 7 metres (23 ft) if it all thawed.

'It starts and then it stops,' Kjaer told Reuters of the ice losses. 'This is a break from thinking that it is something that starts, accelerates and will consume Greenland all at once.'

However, Kjaer noted that the ice sheet did not get bigger in the pause between the pulses of ice loss.

He said satellite data of Greenland's ice only dated back to about 2000 and the use of aerial photos had extended the records of the remote Arctic region back another 15 years.

The cause of the surge in ice loss in the 1980s was unclear but might have been linked to a shift in ocean currents. The underlying cause of a change in currents was unknown.

Nasa said last month that almost the entire surface of Greenland had been thawing in a rare warm spell [lasting only 4 days!] that it said might happen only once every 150 years.

And an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan recently broke off the Petermann glacier, to the north of the area studied by Kjaer's team.

Lack of historical data is a problem for climate scientists studying Greenland and the far bigger Antarctic ice sheet, which would raise sea levels by about 60 metres if it ever all melted.

The U.N. panel of climate scientists says manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, will cause ever more floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas.

It projected in 2007 that sea levels could rise by 18-59 cms by 2100. Many experts since then have projected bigger rises and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once said seas could gain up to 2 metres this century in the worst case.

Kjaer said experts would have to be cautious in projecting an acceleration of sea level rise, now at a rate of about 3 mm a year or 30 cms over a century.

Sea level rise is a threat to people from New York to London, from Bangladesh to Kiribati.

The Danish-led team of scientists also published data in May indicating that ice in the south-east of Greenland had shrunk in a previous warming period in the 1930s.

They now had a database of 160,000 photos of Greenland, including U.S. surveys in the 1940s. "That's something to be working with," Kjaer said.


Everyone Freaks Out About Two New Climate Change Studies

Beware sarcasm below. Ronald Bailey gives below an intelligent and useful summary of the Watts and Muller BEST papers but he is a libertarian writer and seems to take an "on the fence" view of global warming. He fails to note the vast hole in the Muller BEST paper: Absolutely NO evidence that the slight warming in due to man. I suspect that the fence Bailey is sitting on is going to give him a very sore butt soon. I think it is a picket fence

How fast is the planet warming? Two new not-yet-peer reviewed studies were published online earlier this week that suggest somewhat different answers. The first agrees with earlier findings about the pace of global warming, while the second argues that half of the recent warming in the U.S. is artificial.**

The first is from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project run by physicist Richard Muller. That paper, "A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011," reported that “the rise in average world land temperature globe is approximately 1.5 degrees C in the past 250 years, and about 0.9 degrees in the past 50 years.” The BEST group concluded that the increase in carbon dioxide emissions from humanity was the likely cause of the increase in global average temperature. In its study, BEST claimed to have taken into account “issues raised by skeptics, such as possible biases from urban heating, data selection, poor station quality, and data adjustment. We have demonstrated that these do not unduly bias the results.”

At the same time, Anthony Watts and his colleagues published their new study, "An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends," which found “for the years 1979 to 2008, yields a trend of +0.155C per decade from the high quality sites, a +0.248 C per decade trend for poorly sited locations, and a trend of +0.309 C per decade after NOAA adjusts the data.” The press release for the new Watts study suggests that weather station quality would be a significant issue that undermines the higher global average temperature trends implied by the data reported in Global Historical Climatology Network and in the BEST network.

As is usual in the debates over issues in climatology, the online discussion was measured and polite. Left-wing climate blogger Joe Romm over at ClimateProgress calmly headlined the new BEST study, "Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds ‘Global Warming Is Real’, ‘On The High End’ And ‘Essentially All’ Due To Carbon Pollution." With regard to the new Watts study, the folks over at the right-wing site serenely reported, "New Study Crushes Global Warming Data Claims."

So there you have it—a crushed bombshell!

The Watts study applies a nifty new classification system for the quality of weather station siting devised by French researcher Michel Leroy and adopted by the World Meteorological Association. For example, in order to be considered a class 1 or 2 station no artificial surfaces like parking lots or brick walls must be within 100 meters or 30 meters respectively. Such surfaces spuriously boost the amount of warming that a weather station thermometer would detect. For years, Watts has tirelessly analyzed the quality of weather stations in the United States to identify how their siting might bias their data. In his new study, Watts and his fellow researchers report that U.S. class 1 and 2 weather stations find that temperatures are increasing at a rate of +0.155 per decade in the continental U.S. Poorly sited stations (classes 3, 4, and 5) show a +0.248 per decade trend.

In an email, Watts additionally noted, “We identified the most representative thermometers for climate trend capture are the well sited, non-airport, Class 1 and 2 rural MMTS stations, which have a superior instrument shelter, an electronic memory to capture the high and low, and are removed both from the siting issues as well as urban heat island and airport growth and instrumentation problem effects.” Other considerations include alterations to how the land in rural areas [PDF] is used by people. The trend for those stations is +0.032 C per decade. Watts added, “The value is not much greater than zero.”

Over the years, the folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have tried to adjust the temperature data from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network to take into account many factors—urbanization, station and instrument changes, airports—that could affect the accuracy of the temperature record. Watts and his fellow researchers claim that while the well-sited stations show an overall trend of +0.155 C per decade and the trend at poorly sited stations is +0.248 C per decade, NOAA adjusts the data so the reported trend is +0.309 per decade. Watts reckons that the problem is that NOAA researchers use temperature data from poorly sited stations to adjust upward the data from the well-sited stations.

“This disparity suggests that a combination of siting issues and adjustments are creating a spurious doubling of the U.S. surface temperature record for the 30 year period of this study,” concludes the Watts paper. Via email, Watts generously observes, “I don’t believe the errors associated with NOAA adjustments are deliberate, but simply a case of confirmation bias. They expect to find global warming because a popular theory says they should.”

Specifically with regard to the BEST study, the Watts study notes, “Given that USHCN [U.S. Historical Climatology Network] stations overlap and are part of the GHCN [Global Historical Climatology Network], the siting issue should be examined for all the GHCN and BEST sites.” Translation: The BEST data very likely include a spurious warming trend of which they have not taken adequate account. Via email, Watts also points out that BEST study lumps class 1, 2, and 3 sites together as OK. “Only stations classified as 1 and 2 are acceptable,” Watts argues. “I expect that errors such as these have contributed to the failure of all BEST papers in peer review.”

Meanwhile, Muller and his colleagues report that their analysis of temperature data shows that the globe has warmed +0.87 degrees C over the past 50 years. Via email, Elizabeth Muller, co-director of Best with her father observes that they “have not looked at the new analysis by Watts in great detail,” but add “as near as we can tell we are in agreement with his results. He is critical of our methods, but reached the same conclusions we did—that station quality does not unduly bias the temperature record.” When they get around to looking in more detail, they will find that Watts and his colleagues do think station quality problems have in fact significantly biased their temperature records. In any case, Muller notes that an earlier study by BEST analyzed temperature data from only stations that are far from urban areas. “We found that in these very rural areas, there was the same amount of warming as for the global land,” she writes.

To get some idea of the magnitude of the trends over which the argument is being conducted, let’s do some rough calculations. The BEST trend is +0.87 C over the past 50 years. That implies a temperature increase of +0.174 degrees per decade. The satellite record from the University of Alabama Huntsville researchers John Christy and Roy Spencer finds a per decade increase of +0.14 C. The new Watts study looking only temperature trends for the continental U.S. of +0.155 C per decade.

Admittedly, these very rough calculations are a bit like comparing peaches to nectarines. For example, the satellites measure the temperature of the lower troposphere not the surface. But looking at the Watts study one finds that according to the satellite data, the U.S. tropospheric temperature trend is +0.24 degree C per decade. Watts notes that surface warming is typically amplified in the troposphere by a factor of 1.1 to 1.4, which implies surface temperatures “in the range of 0.17 to 0.22, which is close to the 0.155 degrees C per decade trend seen in the compliant class 1 & 2 stations.” (A puzzlement: if Watts’ best-sited stations exhibit a trend of +0.032 per decade and the amplification factors are applied, that would imply a U.S. tropospheric temperature per decade trend of +0.035 to +0.045, yet the satellite trend of +0.24 is more than five times that.)

The good news is that both Watts and BEST have been completely transparent about their calculations and their data. This should make it possible for each to check each other’s work and get back to the rest of us with their results. They both are aiming to have their work published in peer-reviewed journals as well. In the meantime, I fully expect that the public conversation over climatology will continue to remain as just civil as it always has been.


Urban Wind turbines in Britain drive bats bats

SMALL wind turbines can halve bat activity in the immediate vicinity of properties, according to new research.

Academics from Stirling University looked at the small wind turbines, which are becoming an increasingly popular means of power generation at individual homes.

The research, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, involved halting microturbine movement at 20 sites across the UK and examining the effect on bird and bat activity.

The results revealed bird activity was not significantly affected but bat activity was 54% lower in close proximity to operating turbines compared to those which were stopped.

Dr Kirsty Park, senior lecturer in Ecology at Stirling who led the research team, said: "Reducing our carbon footprint is important, but we also need to understand the implications of renewable energy technologies for wildlife conservation.

"Based on our results, we recommend turbines are sited at least 20 metres away from potentially valuable bat habitat."

The research, to be published in the American journal PLoS ONE, was conducted by Dr Jeroen Minderman from the University's School of Natural Sciences.

Mr Minderman said: "Previous studies have shown birds and bats can be killed by colliding with large turbine blades or wildlife may avoid the surrounding environment, leading to effective habitat loss. "To date, studies have focused solely on large-scale wind farms."


The Pixie Dust Energy Source

Solar is the power of the future and the power of the past. What solar isn’t, is the power of the present. That’s because using solar power to generate electricity is expensive. Still. And that’s not going to change anytime soon, no matter how many political fundraisers are held by solar advocates.

According to Bloomberg, recent price decreases in solar equipment have driven costs from about 25 cents per kwh to 17 cents per kwh for photovoltaic (PV) powered solar energy, the least expensive form of solar power deployable at scale. But that’s a far cry from the average retail price for electricity as of June 2011. In May, according to the US Energy Information Agency, customers paid 9.70 cents per kwh for electricity generated by conventional means, nearly half of solar’s cost.

For decades, solar’s advocates have predicted that economies of scale, technological advances and pixie dust will soon kick in allowing the world to hold hands, sing songs and enjoy the “free,” and limitless power of the sun.

The amount of energy available through solar is astonishing and bewitching, true. Because of the huge mass of energy available through solar, there’s no doubt that solar has potential to solve many of the earth’s energy problems. It just doesn’t do so right now. Nor will it ever be “free.” Heck, it might not ever even be cheap.

The sun does provide quite a bit of energy. According to NASA we use an equivalent of 1/10,000 of the sun’s available energy here on earth in fossil fuels. While 30 percent of solar energy that reaches us is reflected back into space, what’s left over is more energy in one year than all the energy that can be created by fossil fuels combined, ever.

Capture, conversion, storage and transmission of solar energy at costs close to fossil fuels however remains elusive.

So, the reality of the sun’s “free” energy continues to fall far short of the promise year after year despite rosy predictions. Devotees from Bloomberg New Energy and the IEEE have predicted that soon solar energy will compete with coal-the cheapest of all the energy sources- in price. Even assuming sunshine and salad days for solar, says that “[b] y 2050, it is expected that solar PV will provide 11 percent of global electricity production, corresponding to 3,000 gigawatts of cumulative installed capacity.” That seems like a pretty modest target for an energy source that competes with coal for price. And it underscores the uncertainty of solar’s future.

The truth is that no one really knows what the future for solar is, in part because government is muddying the waters.

Take, for example, the world’s biggest publicly-traded solar company, First Solar, with a market capitalization of roughly $1.4 billion as of August, 2012. Last year at this time, the company was worth $6 billion.

First Solar makes photovoltaic solar panels and does a very good job of it. Their revenues have climbed from $500 million to $3.12 billion since 2007. But the stock has tumbled from a high of over $300 as Obama was elected to around the $17 range by the end of July. Why would a company that has seen its revenues grow six-fold, see its share price tumble $283?

Mostly the stock price volatility reflects on-again-off-again government support for solar company winners and losers. Europe has cut back subsidies while the federal government continues to muck up its loan guarantee program. First Solar won’t be as attractive to investors in the marketplace without generous subsidies provided by governments, especially those governments in Europe.

"We believe that First Solar remains well positioned to flourish in a market with low or no subsidies once the market consolidates,” says brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald, “and we suggest that investors wait for a more opportune time to accumulate shares."

Consolidation is broker-eese for “a lot of these companies are going out of business.”

Government money has been put into converting customers to solar rather than into primary research aimed at brining costs down so that the marketplace can convert customers on the basis of economics. That because it’s been cheaper for solar companies to beg for government money than it has been to do research; and in the sort-term government money has been much more lucrative to shareholders and to consumers lucky enough to cash in on subsidies especially in Europe.

As to jobs? Forget about it. It’s a net negative.

“In principle, tens of thousands of jobs have been created in the German PV industry,” says the leftist UK Guardian, a supporter of solar, “but this is gross jobs, not net jobs: had the money been used for other purposes, it could have employed far more people. The paper estimates that the subsidy for every solar PV job in Germany is €175,000: in other words the subsidy is far higher than the money the workers are likely to earn. This is a wildly perverse outcome. Moreover, most of these people are medium or highly skilled workers, who are in short supply there. They have simply been drawn out of other industries.”

That isn’t to say that research into cost cutting and innovation isn’t being done by solar companies today. But no one really knows how the solar market will survive if the governments- Europe, US, China- cut off life-support.

The patient might survive or it could be brain dead already. It’s time to pull the plug solar and find out.


Armed forces sucked into Greenie waste

If America had a “Spend Like a Drunken Sailor Award,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus would win hands-down, for blowing $12 million on biofuel for Navy ships.

Even as the armed services face drastic budget cuts under “automatic sequestration” and other proposed reductions, further undermining our national security, Mabus and President Obama clearly believe “it’s only taxpayer money.”

“Beat GSA” may have to replace Navy’s “Beat Army” football battle cry.

In fairness, Secretary Mabus’s “Great Green Fleet” of ships and fighter jets performed well during recent military exercises off Hawaii, burning blends of 50% biofuels and 50% conventional fuels. But the price tag makes the fleet a poster child for wasteful government spending.

The exercises cost the Navy nearly $27 per gallon for 450,000 gallons of biofuels produced from algae and waste grease and animal fat – versus around $3.50 a gallon for standard petroleum fuels.

The only way the Navy fiasco looks good is by comparison to the Air Force spending $59 a gallon for alcohol-to-jet fuel and $67 per gallon for camelina-based F-22 Raptor fuel – or the Navy’s 2009 purchase of 20,000 gallons of renewable diesel for $424 per gallon!

If Mabus achieves his “goal” and “persuades” the Navy to make half of its fuel “green” by 2020, the higher cost biofuels could add $1.9 billion annually to Navy’s fuel bill, according to a Defense Department study. That extra outlay would pay for a new DDG-51 destroyer and comes as the Defense Department budget faces $13 billion in cuts for Navy shipbuilding over the next four years.

Add to that boatloads of additional taxpayer dollars that would be wasted if the Army, Air Force and Marines also switch from abundant, affordable, reliable, proven petroleum fuels to untested, impractical, unaffordable, unsustainable biofuels. The Pentagon’s green spending spree makes the General Services Administration binge on lavish conferences and entertainment look like chump change.

Worse, on top of paying these enormous sums for biofuels, the Navy and Departments of Agriculture and Energy agreed that each would “invest $170 million directly in biorefineries to kick-start the flagging industry,” Wired magazine reported. The $510 million total nearly equals the Solyndra debacle.

What’s next in the drive to end Defense Department fossil fuel use? Using fuel efficiency to justify “slimming down” armor and armament for personnel vehicles, tanks, fighter jets, aircraft carriers and missile cruisers – making them more vulnerable to enemy fire? Or shrinking the US military to the size and capability of its French, German or Greek counterparts?

Granted, the Navy biofuels program doesn’t turn 40% of the US corn crop into ethanol – sending corn prices to record highs during this year’s prolonged drought. However, our nation does not have enough chicken fat and waste grease to fuel the Navy; collecting and refining this refuse would be a budget-busting logistical nightmare; and camelina and other non-food crops still require vast amounts of land, water, fertilizer, pesticides and fossil fuel energy.

Growing sufficient quantities of algae to meet the Mabus-Obama green fuel pipedreams would require enormous onshore and offshore algae ponds. That would likely send environmentalists storming into courthouses.

Protecting the military from oil price spikes is an equally specious justification. If every $1 in higher oil prices costs the DOD $30 million, as White House climate czarina Heather Zichal claims, a $23 to $63 per gallon price differential between conventional and bio fuel will cost $690 million to $1.9 billion.

As to enhancing supply lines and thus national security, does Secretary Mabus intend to build enough biofuel refineries to equal the conventional refineries and fleet servicing ports worldwide that supposedly do not safeguard supplies? Or perhaps he is planning to commission specialized ships that strain algae from seawater like baleen whales, convert it to fuel onboard, and store it in tankers marked with green crosses that would protect them from enemy fire, as red crosses presumably safeguard hospital ships.

Even ignoring the absence of empirical evidence for catastrophic CO2-driven global warming, it beggars belief that the White House, Congress or DOD would even consider subjugating military preparedness, missions and safety to manmade climate change ideology. Moreover, any net carbon dioxide reductions via DOD biofuels would be more than offset by increases from China, India and other rapidly developing countries.

Fortunately, many in Congress understand that “adopting a ‘green agenda’ for national defense is a terrible misplacement of priorities,” as Arizona Senator and former Navy pilot John McCain aptly put it. House-passed legislation would bar the Defense Department from buying biofuels that cost more than conventional fuels, and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) has proposed similar action in the Senate.

Inhofe’s amendment to the FY-2013 National Defense Authorization Act was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, the amendment faces mostly Democrat opposition in the full chamber, and the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved continued biofuels funding.

The usual alliance of hydrocarbon adversaries is just as vehemently opposed to bills to address national security, oil prices and over-reliance on foreign sources in a far more commonsense manner: by producing more of America’s abundant but untapped and off-limits petroleum resources. They oppose hydraulic fracturing for the centuries’ of oil and gas our nation has in its extensive shale deposits – as well as drilling for conventional deposits off our Pacific, Atlantic, Alaskan and Gulf of Mexico coastlines, within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or anywhere in the Western US states.

Rather than ensuring that our armed forces can defend America without wasting billions, President Obama and his alliance prefer to wage war on fossil fuels.

Instead of promoting biofuels, the Navy and Defense Department should be calling on Congress and the White House to increase domestic leasing and drilling in all these areas. Even a drunken sailor would understand this.


Obama's Assault on U.S. Energy

For the second time in two days, hundreds of millions of people across India have been plunged into darkness when its electrical grids collapsed. This is a warning of what could occur here in America.

"So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted." -- Barack Obama

In a war, some of the first targets are the power plants in order to deny the energy a nation requires to function. Obama declared war on coal during the 2008 campaign and few were paying attention. In 1985 coal accounted for 57 percent of all power generated in the U.S. By 2011, it was down to 42 percent.

A July 28 Daily Caller headline reported that a "Record number of coal-fired generators to be shut down in 2012." Based on an analysis of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the article noted that "coal plant operators are planning to retire 175 coal-fired generators, or 8.5 percent of the total coal-fired capacity in the United States."

"A record-high 57 generators will shut down in 2012, representing 9 gigawatts of electrical capacity, according to the EIA. In 2015, nearly 10 gigawatts of capacity from 6l coal-fired generators will be retired...the scope of this new planned shutdown is unprecedented."

"The coal-fired capacity expected to be retired over the next fire years is more than four times greater than retirements performed during the preceding five-year period."

For those thinking that all those wind turbines and solar farms will make up the difference, it's worth noting they provide less than three percent of the nation's electricity and each must be backed up by a traditional-reliable-power plant.

Virtually all of them are located far from urban centers and require lengthy, expensive power lines to feed the grid and yet last week the Interior Department announced it will set aside 285,000 acres in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah for solar projects! How many multi-million dollar failed Solyndras will it take to stop this rape?

In March 2011 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report noting that the combined energy resources of the nation are the largest on Earth. They eclipse Saudi Arabia (3rd), China (4th), and Canada 6th) combined. Not included in the report are America's shale oil and natural gas deposits.

Sen. Inhofe (R-OK), a ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said at the time that "The Obama administration has made a conscious policy choice to raise energy prices, accomplished in good measure by restricting access to domestic energy supplies." If a foreign nation were doing this to America, we would be at war with them.

The CRS report noted that America's reserves of coal are unsurpassed, accounting for more than twenty-eight percent of the world's coal. It estimated that U.S. recoverable coal reserves were around 262 billion tons. Insofar as the U.S. consumers 1.2 billion tons of coal a year, that represents several centuries of coal use.

And, of course, coal is not the only energy source that has been under attack by the Obama administration. The CRS report estimated there are 163 billion barrels of oil that the U.S. can access, enough to replace oil imports from the Persian Gulf for more than fifty years.

One of the reasons that coal plants are being retired is the emergence of a huge domestic reserve of natural gas estimated to be around 2,047 trillion cubic feet in 2009. That would keep the lights on for a century.

The Obama administration energy policy has been appalling. It invested-and lost-billions in green energy companies and green jobs. Its stimulus package is estimated to have cost $335,000 per job "saved" or created.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has been an unmitigated disaster. Before his nomination he said, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." And we all know how well that has worked for Europe whose Union is foundering on the brink of collapse. The Environmental Protection Agency is the other blunt instrument of destruction of the nation's energy providers.

The Obama administration has consistently insisted that "greenhouse gas emissions", primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) had to be reduced to offset global warming, but there is NO global warming and CO2 plays NO role in climate change. When the administration tried to push cap-and-trade legislation through based on this hoax, Obama said that, under the proposal, "energy prices would necessarily skyrocket." Does that sound like someone trying to crash the economy? Yes, it does.

Between an oil drilling moratorium-twice declared by the courts to be illegal-and the stalling of the Keystone XL pipeline (which would generate thousands of jobs while costing the U.S. taxpayer nothing!), the war on oil was pursued while the administration offered Brazil billions in U.S. taxpayer money in loan guarantees to build their oil production capacity.

Enormous oil reserves in Alaska and offshore are still unavailable to American use. In addition, crude oil production on federal and Indian lands decreased 13 percent from 739 million barrels in fiscal year 2010 to 645 million barrels in fiscal year 2011. Offshore production on federal lands fell by 17 percent in fiscal year 2011 and is down 40 percent compared to ten years ago.

Four more years of an Obama administration would be-just in terms of energy-a disaster for the nation. The President and his minions are weakening a nation that sits atop some of the world's greatest energy reserves. This must end soon or the consequences are unimaginable.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


3 August, 2012

Lots of power stations and SUVs in Antarctica 50m years ago (apparently)

They "forget" to mention that CO2 levels were even higher during some very cold periods

RAINFORESTS thrived in Antarctica during a period of high atmospheric carbon levels 50 million years ago, scientists have discovered. And they are warning the planet's atmosphere could have similar levels of the greenhouse gas within hundreds of years.

An international team led by German scientists and involving University of Queensland Environmental Geologist Dr Kevin Welsh has found tropical palms grew on the coast of Antarctica 52 million years ago.

At that warm period in the earth's history, there was twice as much CO2 in the atmosphere as there is now and winter temperatures of 10C meant Antarctica's 4km thick ice sheet didn't exist.

"It's massively different to what we think of today," Dr Welsh told AAP. "It would be entirely ice-free and not only ice-free but warm enough that you'd have near-tropical rainforest actually growing along the margin of the continent."

Dr Welsh was on board the JOIDES Resolution as it drilled the seabed off the coast of Antarctica in early 2010 as part of the multi-national Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

The seabed cores brought to the surface are like a trip back in time for scientists, who can find evidence of temperature and ecology over millions of years.

They remain unsure why CO2 was so high 50 million years ago, but they say humans are on track to produce similar levels within centuries.

"If the current CO2 emissions continue unabated due to the burning of fossil fuels, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, as they existed in the distant past, are likely to be achieved within a few hundred years," said Professor Jorg Pross, lead author of a paper published in the journal Nature.

A bushwalk in Antarctica for our descendants remains unlikely because additional factors such as warm currents also contributed to the prehistoric warm period.

But changes are expected. "We could end up with an ice-free Antarctica," Dr Welsh said. "Even melting small amounts of ice from Antarctica has quite significant implications for sea level."


Pathetic worm Misleads US Congress

The politicization of climate science is so complete that the lead author of the IPCC's Working Group II on climate impacts feels comfortable presenting testimony to the US Congress that fundamentally misrepresents what the IPCC has concluded. I am referring to testimony given today by Christopher Field, a professor at Stanford, to the US Senate.

This is not a particularly nuanced or complex issue. What Field says the IPCC says is blantantly wrong, often 180 degrees wrong. It is one thing to disagree about scientific questions, but it is altogether different to fundamentally misrepresent an IPCC report to the US Congress. Below are five instances in which Field's testimony today completely and unambiguously misrepresented IPCC findings to the Senate. Field's testimony is here in PDF.

1. On the economic costs of disasters:
Field: "As the US copes with the aftermath of last year’s record-breaking series of 14 billion-dollar climate-related disasters and this year’s massive wildfires and storms, it is critical to understand that the link between climate change and the kinds of extremes that lead to disasters is clear."

What the IPCC actually said: "There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change"
Field's assertion that the link between climate change and disasters "is clear," which he supported with reference to US "billion dollar" economic losses, is in reality scientifically unsupported by the IPCC. Period. (More on the NOAA billion-dollar disasters below.) There is good reason for this -- it is what the science says. Why fail to report to Congress the IPCC's most fundamental finding and indicate something quite the opposite?

2. On US droughts:
Field: "The report identified some areas where droughts have become longer and more intense (including southern Europe and West Africa), but others where droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter."

What the IPCC actually said: "... in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America ..."
Field conveniently neglected in his testimony to mention that one place where droughts have gotten less frequent, less intense or shorter is ... the United States. Why did he fail to mention this region, surely of interest to US Senators, but did include Europe and West Africa?

3. On NOAA's billion dollar disasters:
Field: "The US experienced 14 billion-dollar disasters in 2011, a record that far surpasses the previous maximum of 9."

What NOAA actually says about its series of "billion dollar" disasters:  "Caution should be used in interpreting any trends based on this [data] for a variety of reasons"
Field says nothing about the serious issues with NOAA's tabulation. The billion dollar disaster meme is a PR train wreck, not peer reviewed and is counter to the actual science summarized in the IPCC. So why mention it?

4. On attributing billion dollar disasters to climate change, case of hurricanes and tornadoes:
Field:  "For several of these categories of disasters, the strength of any linkage to climate change, if there is one, is not known. Specifically, the IPCC (IPCC 2012) did not identify a trend or express confidence in projections concerning tornadoes and other small-area events. The evidence on hurricanes is mixed."

What the IPCC actually said (p. 269 PDF): "The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados"
Hurricanes are, of course, tropical cyclones. Far from evidence being "mixed" the IPCC was unable to attribute any trend in tropical cyclone disasters to climate change (anywhere in the world and globally overall). In fact, there has been no trend in US hurricane frequency or intensity over a century or more, and the US is currently experiencing the longest period with no intense hurricane landfalls ever seen. Field fails to report any this and invents something different. Why present testimony so easily refuted? (He did get tornadoes right!)

 5. On attributing billion dollar disasters to climate change, case of floods and droughts:
Field: "For other categories of climate and weather extremes, the pattern is increasingly clear. Climate change is shifting the risk of hitting an extreme. The IPCC (IPCC 2012) concludes that climate change increases the risk of heat waves (90% or greater probability), heavy precipitation (66% or greater probability), and droughts (medium confidence) for most land areas."

What the IPCC actually says (p. 269 PDF): "The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses"

and (from above): "in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America"
Field fails to explain that no linkage between flood disasters and climate change has been established. Increasing precipitation is not the same thing as increasing streamflow, floods or disasters. In fact, floods may be decreasing worldwide and are not increasing in the US. The fact that drought has declined in the US means that there is no trend of rising impacts that can be attributed to climate change. Yet he implies exactly the opposite. Again, why include such obvious misrepresentations when they are so easily refuted?

Field is certainly entitled to his (wrong) opinion on the science of climate change and disasters. However, it is utterly irresponsible to fundamentally misrepresent the conclusions of the IPCC before the US Congress. He might have explained why he thought the IPCC was wrong in its conclusions, but it is foolish to pretend that the body said something other than what it actually reported. Just like the inconvenient fact that people are influencing the climate and carbon dioxide is a main culprit, the science says what the science says.

Field can present such nonsense before Congress because the politics of climate change are so poisonous that he will be applauded for his misrepresentations by many, including some scientists. Undoubtedly, I will be attacked for pointing out his obvious misrepresentations. Neither response changes the basic facts here. Such is the sorry state of climate science today.


Courtroom Chaos as New Zealand Skeptics Rout Government Climatists

New Zealand skeptics of man-made global warming score historic legal victory as discredited government climate scientists perform U-turn and refuse to allow a third party peer-review report of official temperature adjustments to be shown in court. Skeptic lawyers move for sanctions likely to prove fatal to government’s case.

New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) are reeling after what may prove a fatally embarrassing admission that it is breaking a solemn undertaking given to parliament. NIWA had assured ministers that it would disclose a third party peer-reviewed report of its science for courtroom verification as part of its defense against a petition in the case of NZ Skeptics-v-NIWA.

NIWA’s decision renders an almighty self-inflicted wound to the government agency’s already dire credibility. But worse, the move will be regarded as contempt of court and thus permits the court to grant the plaintiff’s motions for punitive sanctions, including summary judgment. As such, this would bring a swift victory for skeptics with profound legal ramifications around the world. In the sparsely-measured southern hemisphere the New Zealand climate data is critical to claims about a verified global temperature record.

At a stroke this case may affirm that up to one quarter of our planet’s climate records have been fraudulently audited. As such this provides compelling legal ammunition to other pending/ongoing lawsuits that have arisen in the aftermath of the Climategate scandal. Immediate ramifications will be felt in Canada where popular skeptic climatologist Dr. Tim Ball is defending two vexatious libel suits against IPCC climatologists. Of those cases the one most likely to be impacted is that of Andrew Weaver-v-Tim Ball currently underway in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Weaver was lead author of a chapter on Global Climate Projections in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s report Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Weaver took exception to Ball’s widely-published denouncements of cherry-picking models.

Last year NIWA gave an undertaking to the Kiwi Parliament that it would permit external peer-review by scientists from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). This evidence was to be presented to the court to help resolve a drawn out legal battle to prove whether or not NIWA had cooked the country’s climate books. Lawyers for the jubilant skeptics are to motion for an adverse inference against the defendants on the grounds that they intentionally have “spoliated” the evidence (spoliation is the withholding/destroying of evidence).

As with the Kiwi case, over in Canada Tim Ball is having a hard time getting his court adversaries to be forthcoming in releasing their hidden data and records. As in any common law jurisdiction, when a litigant refuses to comply with the opposing party’s motions for disclosure then spoliation doctrine comes into play. Persistent refusal by any party in a lawsuit to hand over evidence on request renders them liable to severe sanctions. As with his Kiwi counterparts Ball will be hoping to win the adverse inference. If granted in these cases the jury will be directed to rule that the party withholding the evidence has done so “from a consciousness of guilt.” In other words, the juries will be directed to rule that climatologists refused to disclose the evidence because to do so would prove they intentionally falsified the climate records to get a predetermined outcome.

A jubilant Richard Treadgold, one of the skeptics involved in the case writes: ”This boils down to a confession to the Court that NIWA has no evidence to show that the BoM approves of NIWA’s review. NIWA does not even bother to present the ineffectual BoM covering letter at page 15 of the Review, for it expresses no approval of the report – though NIWA claims it does.”

But why is this victory in New Zealand so important in the world context?

Well, alarmists in the UN’s IPCC have touted the NIWA record, known widely as the Seven Station Series (7SS), Eleven Station Series (11SS), and NZTR, as proof of antipodean man-made climate warming. These number sets, along with the discredited Australian (BOM) records, represent the cornerstone of Australasia/South Pacific (Oceania) warming. That’s an area that constitutes two of our planet’s eight terrestrial ecozones; or, one quarter of the world’s ‘official’ climate record. In effect, this is a monumental blow to the legal validity of 25 percent of all the world’s climate records. Richard Treadgold has more of the details in ‘Affidavits are for ever’ (August 1, 2012)


Why have “Meatless Mondays” in schools? To reduce the threat of cow farts

Beef producers recently cried foul when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced to its employees that it would be imposing a “Meatless Mondays” program in the department’s cafeterias. In an employee newsletter, the department ironically criticized beef and dairy production, two industries it’s supposed to be promoting.
Because of public pressure, the department is now ditching the program . The USDA tweeted the newsletter had been posted "in error."

With that victory in hand, ranchers and cattlemen would be smart to turn their attention to K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, as the “Meatless Mondays” movement is already infecting the world of government education.

" Meatless Mondays" is a part of “The Monday Campaigns.” One of these efforts urges smokers to stay away from cigarettes every Monday. Another encourages young men to set aside Mondays “to visit their local clinics to get checked for HIV and STDs.” That campaign's slogan is, “If you hit it this weekend, hit the clinic Monday.” Another is, “Got Condoms? Restock Monday.” Classy.

“The Monday Campaigns” is supported by several health-related organizations, universities and strangely, the Fox News Channel.

“Meatless Mondays” has already spread to several major school districts, including New York City, Detroit, Baltimore, Miami-Dade, Oakland, as well as many others. It’s now being used by many colleges and universities, including Columbia, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Temple and Yale.

But what’s the agenda? Less cholesterol? Fewer fatsos? Perhaps, but a " K-12 Tool Kit" lists several other benefits of “Meatless Mondays,” including:

Reduce carbon footprint: The UN estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change.

In layman’s terms, the activists don’t like so many cows farting. Perhaps instead of sticking it to the ranchers, “Meatless Mondays” should advocate for the production of gas-capturing underpants for cows and let us eat what we want.


A Book Review of Brian Sussman’s “Eco-Tyranny”

In “Eco-Tyranny,” author Brian Sussman sounds a timely and important warning: The radical "greens" are not in retreat. With the defeat of cap-and-trade legislation in 2010 and the increasingly discredited alarmist theory of anthropogenic global warming, the greens may have lowered their public profile; however, with the full cooperation of the Obama administration, they are forging ahead with their illiberal agenda of gaining ever more control over the American economy and people.

Sussman, a trained meteorologist and veteran San Francisco talk-show host, has followed up his 2010 demolition of the global warming quackery, “ Climategate ," with a book that takes a big-picture view of the history, ideology, and goals of the anti-capitalist, anti-people green movement.

The event that drove Sussman to write “Eco-Tyranny” was a federal document to which a Department of Interior employee had alerted him. On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order titled, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” Although that title hints at the immense scope of the order, it understates the frightening extent to which it expands the power of the federal government and constricts the rights and liberty of private citizens. According to Sussman’s Interior Department insider, the long-term goal of President Obama’s “green team” is to “divide the country into sectors where all humans would be herded into urban hubs” while most of the land would be “returned to a natural state upon which humans would only be allowed to tread lightly.” (The full text of the 14-page executive order is reproduced in the appendix of “Eco-Tyranny.”)

Far too few Americans are aware that environmentalism is one of the most virulent illiberal ideologies in the world. Sussman traces the history of illiberal environmentalism from the 1800s up to the present, and he includes a helpful summary of key dates in the appendix.

Remarkably, Sussman shows readers that such destructive figures as Marx, Lenin, and Hitler were intellectual and political forerunners of the modern illiberal green movement. Readers will be interested to learn of the four left-wingers who influenced and shaped the thinking of Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” marked the birth of the modern environmentalist movement.

“Eco-Tyranny” shows how closely the American left has worked to fulfill the United Nations’ explicit plans to hamstring American prosperity, using hundreds of billions of our own tax dollars against us.

Yes, we the American taxpayer have financed the green elite’s war against efficient energy sources. Sussman includes chapters devoted to the green attacks against nuclear energy and fossil fuels, with another chapter devoted to the wasteful, uneconomical boondoggles of wind and solar energy. It is with no little irony that Sussman retells the story of President Obama denouncing oil as an undesirable source of energy from the headquarters of the now-bankrupt solar energy firm, Solyndra.

After his “greens against cheap energy” chapters comes an excellent chapter tracing the greens’ multi-decade campaign to limit Americans’ access to water. What becomes clear from Sussman’s “big-picture” view of the green movement is how monstrously misanthropic it is. The radical greens are committed to reforming life in America to make it less free and less prosperous.

The quibbles that I have with “Eco-Tyranny” are minor. There are silly errors of detail—the kind of mistakes that slip into books that are rushed into print (e.g., erroneously stating that the late Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had been married to “the Gandhi,” meaning the mahatma; writing that a man who was born in 1901 died at age 39 in 1939; calling ANWR the “Alaskan” rather than “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge”). My other gripe is the gratuitous use of derogatory or ideological adjectives—denigrating former President Carter as a “peanut farmer” and a tendency to label everyone who cares about environmental quality as “liberal” or “radical,” when, in truth, many Americans who have been seduced by the green movement are not leftists, but simply decent people who value a clean environment.

The book’s afterword contains a 12-point agenda for rolling back the greens’ well-advanced, oppressive agenda. It includes abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and the Endangered Species Act; turning ownership of federal parks to the states; divesting federal lands to the private sector; reducing the multiple legislative and administrative barriers to the development of our nation’s abundant fossil fuel resources and much more.

To say that such an agenda is dauntingly ambitious is an understatement. But the very fact that that the list covers so much ground indicates how far advanced the green agenda is. Indeed, the greens have spent decades putting into place their oppressive infrastructure of bureaucracies and regulations. When one looks at their own stated plans for the future, then one realizes that although undoing the mischief of decades will be a prodigious task, Sussman’s pro-liberty, pro-prosperity, pro-human and, yes, pro-environment, agenda is imperative.

We need more knowledgeable people like Brian Sussman sounding the alarm—and more people heeding it.


A reminder that the drought in some parts of the USA is a local, not a global event

South America Readies Record Crops Amid U.S. Drought

South American farmers are preparing to plant record grain and oilseed crops that may temper surging food inflation caused by the worst U.S. drought in a generation.

Argentine farmers, buoyed by rains that alleviated a drought, will smash a previous corn harvest record of 22 million metric tons by reaping as much as 31 million tons in the 2012- 2013 season, growers group Crea said July 23. Brazil may harvest its biggest-ever soybean crop in 2012-2013 to surpass the U.S. as the world’s biggest grower, according to Sao Paulo-based researcher Agroconsult.
Enlarge image South America Readies Record Crop Amid U.S. Drought

South America may boost its soybean crop by 30 percent in the 2012-2013 season as farmers look to cash in on higher prices and improved soil conditions after a drought last season, said Karim Cherif, a Zurich-based analyst for Credit Suisse Group AG. Photographer: Diego Giudice/Bloomberg

Corn rose to a record $8.205 a bushel in Chicago yesterday, capping the biggest monthly gain since 1988, while soybeans reached an all-time high on July 23 and surged 15 percent last month. Corn retreated 1.2 percent today. The response from South American growers to the worst U.S. drought since 1956 will be the “turning point” in the corn and soybean rally, Wayne Gordon, the head of global agriculture markets research at UBS AG in New York, said in an interview.

“We are in a great situation,” said Martin Otero, the owner of Buenos Aires-based farm investment group Hillock Capital Management that owns and manages farmland in Argentina and Uruguay. “We have very high yield prospects, and there’s a high probability that prices will be very good.”
Soil Conditions

South America may boost its soybean crop by 30 percent in the 2012-2013 season as farmers look to cash in on higher prices and improved soil conditions after a drought last season, said Karim Cherif, a Zurich-based analyst for Credit Suisse Group AG.

Argentina and Paraguay are the world’s third- and fourth- largest exporters, respectively, of the oilseed behind the U.S. and Brazil. In corn, Argentina, Ukraine and Brazil trail the U.S. as the largest global exporters of the cereal. South American farmers start planting corn and soybean crops from September, while harvesting will take place between February and June next year.

In the U.S., whose season runs inversely to South America, the already planted corn crop is “not save-able” in many areas, economist Dennis Gartman wrote in his daily Gartman Letter. Ninety-four percent of U.S. corn crops have gone through the silking stage, while only 55 percent of soybean plants are setting pods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said July 30. Both phases are critical for determining yields. Soybeans typically mature later than corn and damages can be reversed by rains now, Gartman said.

Much of the U.S. Midwest may remain hot and dry through the middle of August, Matt Rogers, Commodity Weather Group LLC president, said in an e-mail today.
Weather ‘Crucial’

Prices may advance to records on the shortage, said Sudakshina Unnikrishnan, an analyst at Barclays Plc in London.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the top so far,” she said in an interview. In the U.S. “weather through August is going to be absolutely crucial.”

The U.S. drought will cause food-price volatility that may expand hunger to the world’s poor, threatening social stability and putting pressure on governments, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a report July 30. French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said a surge in grain and soy prices is a “major preoccupation” worldwide.

“South American farmers will respond to high crop prices by increasing planted acres,” Juan Luciano, chief operating officer of Decatur, Illinois-based grains processor Archer- Daniels-Midland Co. said in a conference call with analysts yesterday.

Brazilian farmers may plant a record soybean crop because of prices, the prospect of rain caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon and its higher profitability than corn, said Silvio Porto, the director of agriculture policy and information at Conab, the Brazilian government crop-forecasting agency.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


2 August, 2012

The unpredictability of natural events

Atmospheric and ocean current events are extraordinarily complex phenomena. An example below. Show me a model that predicts it. Not only does no such model exist but it is virtually inconceivable that such a model COULD exist. Yet ocean currents are a major factor in the earth's climate

IT seems tourists have a much bigger ecological footprint than initially thought: 4500 thongs have been recovered from a Queensland beach.

The remote northern Chili Beach, north of Lockhart River, has somehow become the repository for the incredible number of thongs.

The Cairns Post reports the thousands of thongs were collected during a five-day clean-up of the idyllic sandy stretch, which netted more than 5 tonnes of rubbish.

"It was crazy - more than 4500 thongs and I don't think we found any matching pairs," organiser Heidi Taylor said.

It is believe the rubbish - mostly plastic materials - had been collected from along the east coast by ocean currents before being dumped at the remote beach. The local population - with a head count of nine - is not suspected to have significantly contributed to the mess.

Sixty volunteers from marine conservation group Tangaroa Blue took part in the effort, which also recovered a high percentage of toothbrushes, combs and plastic containers among the trash.


US rallies opponents of EU carbon tax on airlines

The US is hosting a two-day meeting of countries opposed to the EU's controversial carbon tax on airlines.

Delegates meeting at the US Department of Transportation in Washington DC are exploring an alternative global solution that would include the EU. China, India, Russia and the US are among the countries opposed to the EU scheme, which took effect on 1 January.

The US says the EU's unilateral action could lead to a patchwork system if other countries impose their own tax. International airlines will begin receiving bills in April 2013, after this year's carbon emissions have been assessed.

A US Senate committee voted on Tuesday to move forward a measure that would make it illegal to comply with the EU law.

On Monday, airline industry groups called for the Obama administration to challenge the EU law's application to foreign carriers. A letter from Airlines for America (A4A) and the US Chamber of Commerce urged the US to file an action under the United Nations' aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says the looming deadline to pay up and the prospect of a trade war next year may motivate the delegates in that city to find a way out of the impasse, though no breakthrough is expected this week.

American officials have warned the EU's unilateral action could lead to a patchwork system around the world if other countries start imposing their own tax.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has denounced the EU tax as "a lousy policy, a lousy law", saying the EU "should have done it in a more collaborative way".

The EU has refused to back down and has expressed frustration that opposing countries have not come up with a serious, alternative proposal. The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) creates permits for carbon emissions. Airlines that exceed their allowances will have to buy extra permits, as an incentive to airlines to pollute less.

The number of permits is reduced over time, so that the total CO2 output from airlines in European airspace falls. European officials say the scheme could force airlines to add between 4 and 24 euros ($5 to $29; £3 to £19) to the price of a long-haul trip, the AFP reports.

The European Commission says Europe would be willing to join a global scheme run by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) if it matches the targets set by the EU scheme.


Climate change science is a load of hot air and warmists are wrong

Climate scientists' theories, flawed as they are, ignore some fundamental data

By David Evans (Dr David M. W. Evans is a mathematician and engineer who consulted full-time for the Australian Greenhouse Office -- now the Department of Climate Change -- from 1999 to 2005)

IN THE theory of man-made climate change, two-thirds of the predicted warming comes from changes in humidity and clouds, and only one-third comes directly from the extra carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.

The theory assumes humidity and clouds amplify the warming directly due to CO2 by a factor of three: extra CO2 warms the ocean surface, causing more evaporation and extra humidity. Water vapour, or humidity, is the main greenhouse gas, so this causes even more surface warming.

Not many people know that. It is the most important feature of the debate, and goes a long way to explaining why warmists and sceptics both insist they are right.

The warmists are correct that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and it causes warming, that CO2 levels have been rising, and that it has been warming.

Serious sceptics agree with all that, but point out that it does not prove that something else isn't causing most of the warming. By way of illustration, if the main cause of warming was actually Venusians with ray guns, then all those things would still be true.

The sceptic's main suspect is the sun. While the sun's radiation is roughly constant, its magnetic field varies considerably. This field shields the earth from cosmic rays that, according to recent experiments at the world's premier atom smasher CERN, might seed clouds. Clouds cool the planet, so if the sun's magnetic field wanes, then it might get cooler here on earth.

We scientists can calculate how much warming results directly from an increase in CO2 levels. We know how much CO2 levels and temperature have risen since pre-industrial times, but the warming directly due to CO2 is only a third of the observed warming. The theory assumes no other major influence on temperature changed, so the effect of the CO2 must have been amplified threefold, presumably by changes in the atmosphere due to humidity and clouds.

There is no observational evidence for this amplification, but it is nonetheless built into all the models. Sceptics point out that if the extra humidity simply forms extra clouds, then there would be no amplification.

If the CO2 theory of global warming is right, the climate models should predict the climate fairly well. If the CO2 theory is wrong, because there is another, larger driver of the temperature, then the climate models will perform indifferently.

According to the latest data from mankind's best and latest instruments, from impeccable sources, the climate models are doing poorly.

The first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 1990 predicted air temperatures would increase by 0.30 degrees per decade, and by 0.20 degrees to 0.50 degrees per decade at the outside. But according to NASA satellites that measure almost the entire planet constantly, the trend since then has been 0.17 degrees per decade at most. The climate scientists ignore these awkward results and instead only quote temperatures from land thermometers, half of which are at airports where they are artificially warmed by jet engines and hot tarmac, while most of the rest are in warming micro-climates such as near air conditioner outlets, at sewage plants or in car parks. Obviously the data from these corrupted thermometers should not be used.

Ocean temperatures have only been measured properly since 2003 when the Argo program became operational. Some 3000 Argo buoys roam the oceans, measuring temperatures on each 10-day dive into the depths. Before Argo, we used sporadic sampling with buckets and diving darts along a few commercial shipping lanes. But these measurements have such massively high uncertainties as to be useless. Since Argo started, the ocean temperatures have been flat, no warming at all.

The assumed temperature amplification due to changes in humidity and clouds exhibits itself in all the models as prominent warming about 10 kilometres up over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmospheric warming pattern since the 1960s using weather balloons, released twice a day from 900 locations around the planet, many millions of them in total, and no such "hot spot" has been detected. This is direct observational proof that the amplification is missing.

The climate models predict that the outgoing radiation from the earth decreases in the weeks following a rise in the surface temperature, due to aggressive heat-trapping by extra humidity. But analysis of the outgoing radiation measured by NASA satellites for the last two decades shows the opposite occurs: the earth gives off more heat after the surface temperature rises. Again, this suggests that the amplification assumed in the models simply does not occur in reality.

Government climate scientists tend to excuse away these failings, often blaming unmeasured aerosols whose effects are only dimly understood. These excuses wear ever thinner as the CO2 level continues to rise but the temperature plateau of the last 12 years persists.

There are huge vested interests in the theory of man-made climate change. They will soon have to face up to the fact that they have been unwittingly relying on assumed amplification by humidity for most of the predicted temperature increases, and that the amplification is not there in reality.


Nissan Leaf wilting under US heat

Owners blame hot weather for startling loss of battery capacity

Leaf owners in warmer parts of the US, such as Arizona, Texas and California, are starting to report that the car is losing up to a quarter of its charging capacity, sparking the US division of the Japanese car maker to investigate the claims.

The problem came to the attention of Nissan Americas via social media, after owners started to post on sites such as Nissan's US Facebook page that the batteries were fading fast after cars were left out in the heat for up to five hours at a time.

While not specifically mentioning that the 40-degree-plus heat was a factor in the loss of charge capacity, an open letter sent to US Leaf owners last month states the loss of battery capacity "may be considered normal depending on the method and frequency of charging, the operating environment, the amount of electricity consumed during daily usage and a vehicle's mileage and age".

A website tracking the battery charge losses speculates that up to 44 cases of flagging battery capacity have been identified.

Owners are claiming that when the Leaf - which even has a small, sunshine-friendly solar panel mounted on the roof to run the air-conditioning system while the vehicle is parked - is left out in the sun for extended periods, the car will start losing at least one of the 12 segments that make up the battery charge indicator shown on the dash.

Only two owners, though, have so far claimed they have lost a quarter of the bars after 40,000km of travel, while others claim they have lost two bars of charge after as little as 11,000km.

Carla Bailo, the senior vice-president of research and development for Nissan Americas, says the batteries of the Leaf will lose capacity as they age.

"This is normal and expected," she says. "In general, lithium-ion batteries exhibit a higher loss of capacity early in life, with the rate of loss decreasing over time.

"Nissan has projected that Leaf batteries will generally have 80 per cent of their capacity under normal use after five years, and 70 per cent after 10 years."

Bailo says it is too early to say what is happening with the Leaf batteries, "and whether their performance is within the range of expectations or not".

"Together, we are confident that by collaborating with our Leaf community - including the more than 400 owners in Arizona - we will ensure that owners experience many years of enjoyable driving as [electric vehicle] pioneers," she says.

The Leaf went on sale here in June, priced from $51,500, and the more than 40 owners who have bought one so far this year are yet to suffer through the full-blown heat of an Australian summer where 40-degree-plus days are common.


EPA Again Tramples Common Sense, Private Property Rights

Dexter Lutter was expecting an award; instead he got a $20,000 fine

He made environmental improvements on his land — his farm — by taking steps to clean up the water supply and better preserve the soil, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fined him for his efforts.

“That’s how out of touch I am,” Lutter says. “I feel like we should have won a medal for what we did, but the EPA tells us we were wrong.”

A small manmade open ditch ran through Lutter’s property in Noble County, Ind. It was in need of repair, and Lutter got permission from his county to place tile drains for the collection of the agricultural discharge and cover over the eroding open ditch. This not only saved county taxpayer dollars, but also cleaned up the water supply and prevented further soil erosion.

But that doesn’t matter. According to Noble County and Lutter, they were told they violated the Clean Water Act. This is despite the fact that Lutter said the ditch was manmade and used only for agricultural discharge and did not impede the flow of any main waterways — usual exemptions under the Clean Water Act.

It seems both the EPA and Army Corps are no longer content just monitoring activity in “navigable” waterways—as stated in the Clean Water Act, which has commonly lent itself to waterways where a vessel could in fact, navigate. These agencies seem to think they need to adopt a different interpretation of the law, which gets them another step closer to controlling all water in the U.S.

This means many more cases similar to Lutter’s will begin to surface.

Imagine if the EPA and Army Corps held the power to regulate any and all water they saw fit — water from a roadside ditch to a puddle in your yard? It’s a scary thought and greatly threatens farmers and landowners like Lutter, who now owes the EPA a hefty fine since it was his personal business that paid for much of the cleanup.

For Noble County, this Clean Water Act violation means a $75,000 fine and an additional $100,000 or more in mitigation costs to satisfy EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, says Scott Zeigler, Noble County Surveyor.

If manmade ditches, creeks and drainage system are in line to fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA and/or the Army Corps of Engineers, then any farmer with a backed up drainage system or broken tile drain might need a permit before they can even be fixed. Likewise, any land you may own and would like to build on that had a standing puddle could potentially result in a rejected permit for disrupting a “wetland.”

This is very similar to what happened to Mike and Chantell Sackett.

They bought land in Idaho and decided to build a home. Once they filled the land with dirt and rocks in preparation, the EPA showed up asking for a permit claiming they had illegally filled protected wetlands and would contaminate a somewhat nearby lake. However, between the lake and the Sackett’s home were “several lots containing permanent structures.” Nonetheless, the Sackett’s were ordered to stop all renovations.

The case made its way to the Supreme Court earlier this year, and a unanimous decision stated that the Sackett’s deserved their day in court — and most importantly that EPA actions are accountable to the justice system.

The Sackett’s can now take their case against the EPA to court — a journey not many are willing to take due to the high price of fighting against a large government bureaucracy. Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out during the oral arguments of the case that because of potential fines few people are going to challenge the EPA’s decisions:

“Because of the administrative compliance order, you’re really never going to be put to the test, because most land owners aren’t going to say, ‘I’m going to risk the $37,000 a day.’ All EPA has to do is make whatever finding it wants, and realize that in 99 percent of the cases, it’s never going to be put to the test.”

The Blaze asserts that the EPA issues nearly 3,000 administrative compliance orders a year that call on alleged violators of environmental laws to stop what they‘re doing and repair the harm they’ve caused.

With a hefty fine like $37,000 a day as Chief Justice Roberts used as an example, or even Lutter’s $20,000 fine, it is easy to see why people are scared away from pushing back against the heavy-handed EPA.

As Lutter and his attorney are attempting to negotiate with the EPA in hope of lowering the fine, elected officials in Noble County are also wondering how to pay their fine of $75,000, not to mention the possibly more than $100,000 in mitigation costs to satisfy the Army Corps.

“We filled in a ditch that was about 2 to 3 feet wide and about 10 to 12 inches deep,” says Noble County Surveyor Scott Zeigler. “We did something to save taxpayers money and now we have to pay out almost $200,000 in penalties.”

Is this the penalty for folks who clean up the environment and are good stewards of their land?

The mitigation project for Noble County includes planting many new trees and implementing new practices that will detain water, resulting in water moving slower from farms. So far this hasn’t been a welcomed project.

If the EPA and Army Corps are successful in their bid to reinterpret the Clean Water Act, these agencies will be responsible for every drop of water in the U.S. — even more so than they are now.

“This paints a picture of the insanity of the EPA,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “The people making these decisions are so radical that even attempting to reform the EPA will do no good — the agency needs a complete overhaul. The job of the next administration will be to restructure and re-staff this rogue government agency.”

For now, Lutter is hoping he didn’t just lose his business over successfully cleaning up the water supply and creating a healthier environment for years to come.


Australia: Queensland government cuts Green tape

THE Queensland government insists new laws that make it faster and cheaper for developers to apply for environmental approval won't lower environmental standards. The Greentape (Greentape) Reduction Bill was passed in parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell says "green tape" has been strangling Queensland businesses.

He says the bill is the most significant reform to licensing processes in a decade and will save businesses thousands of dollars.

"It is crucial that we work with industry, particularly with the small business sector, to encourage economic growth and reduce government spending," he said in a statement.

The bill reduces the Environmental Protection Act by 90 pages by removing duplications.

A standard application for environmental approval will save companies on average $20,000, 150 pages in paper work and 68 days in processing time, while the environmental approval process will also be changed to ensure greater flexibility for operators, Mr Powell said.

The government will also save $12.5 million in administrative costs.

Mr Powell said the government had consulted "every step of the way" with industry, the community and government organisations on the changes.

"This in no way lowers environmental standards," he said. "It merely simplifies the approval process, saving applicants time and money."

The new process will apply from March 2013.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


1 August, 2012

Richard Muller & his delusions‏

An email from Ed Johnson, Ph.D, Physics below:

Thought you might like a clear-cut example of Professor Muller's irrationality. In recent years, he published two books popularizing Physics:

* "Physics for Future Presidents" (PffP, 2008)

* "The Instant Physicist" (TIP, 2011)

In both, he discusses commercial solar power.

Chapter 6 of PffP is illustrative of Muller's lack of contact with reality. The first section of this Chapter (p. 77), titled "An Anecdote" tells the quaint story of a dinner conversation between Liz, a former student, and an LLNL fusion physicist. In this tale, Muller (through Liz) compares a square kilometer of sunshine with a nuclear power plant.

Liz stuns the LLNL dude with the fact that one square kilometer of sunshine has 1,000 megawatts of power. Muller fails to inform the reader that this is true only on clear summer days and then only for a few hours around solar noon -- no power each night, low power each morning and afternoon and during overcast periods. He also ignores the realities of practical solar power plants.

What's ironic is that in Chapter 5, Muller warns the reader not to confuse power with energy. Yet that's the very error Muller is committing in his tale of Liz and the doofous physicist.

Almost nothing Muller says in Chapter 6 is accurate. He even screws up the history of NASA's Solar Airplanes (last section).

I sent him a comparison of Liz's square kilometer of sunshine with an actual 1,000 MW solar power plant, approved for construction in California's deserts:

.............................. Liz's ........ Solar Millennium

Power (MWp) ... 1,000 ......... 1,000

Area .............. 1.0 sq km ...... 28.5 sq km (7,025 acres)

A practical 1,000 MW solar power plant covers 28 times the area of Liz's square kilometer array. And 11 times your square mile array (TIP, p. 34).

A solar power plant produces no electricity at night and reduced output each morning, each afternoon and on stormy days. In fact, a 1,000 MW solar power plant will be lucky to realize the same annual energy output as conventional 250 MW peaker plant. (Remember your warning in PffP about confusing Power and Energy!! See PffP, pp. 71 - 73.)

According to the developer, the Solar Millennium plant will cost "north of $6 billion". A 1,000 MW nuke could be built for that amount, resulting in four times the annual energy output. And no interruption when a cloud comes over!

His reply essentially was that research would improve this serious discrepancy. I finally told him that I'd tried to be diplomatic, but that he was wrong about solar power. He replied that he was right, and I was wrong.

This man is seriously delusional.

Inhofe's reply to Sanders in Congress

He lays on the soft soap in the best politician style and sabotages the usual appeals to authority by cataloguing a whole lot of authorities who disagreee with the Warmist claims

My friend was talking about the National Academy of Sciences. I think it is kind of interesting because let's remember it was the National Academy of Sciences that came out with a report in 1975 warning of a coming ice age. Keep in mind we are all going to die whether it is global warming or another ice age. That is the National Academy of Sciences, the same group. According to a lot of people, they have turned themselves into an advocacy group.

I will quote MIT's Dr. Richard Lindzen, who was a former U.N. IPCC reviewer. He was talking about Ralph Cicerone, who is the president of the NAS. He said:
Cicerone of NAS is saying that regardless of evidence the answer is predetermined, if gov't wants carbon control, that is the answer-- That is what the NAS will provide. If you control carbon, you control life.

So we have had a lot of differing and varying interpretations of availing science over the years. I can recall one of my first introductions to this. Of course, this came way back during the Kyoto Convention. Some people have forgotten that Kyoto was a convention that was going to get everyone to get together under the leadership of the United Nations and we were all going to reduce our carbon, and so they had this big meeting down there. I will always remember it. This is the famous Al Gore meeting that was called the Earth Summit of 1992. So they came out with this and said this is going to happen. The United Nations said it is, and so they thought everything was fine. Everyone believed it.

It was shortly after that I remember hearing someone talk about it. We can go back and look at this. This is not something I am just saying. There were statements that were made in the 30-year period--let's take the 30-year period from 1895 to 1925. That is 30 years. During that time everyone feared that another ice age was coming. They talked about another ice age, and that the world was coming to an end. They provided all of this documentation during that 30-year period that that is what was happening.

Well, from 1925 to 1945, that 20-year period was a global warming. In fact, the first time we heard of global warming was in that 20-year period from 1925 to 1945. So the world was going to come to an end again, and it was going to be during that period of time due to global warming.

Then came the 30-year period from 1945 to 1975. During that time they said it is a cold spell, and that is when all of these companies came in--the Senator from Vermont is right. I have given probably 30 talks well in excess of an hour each talking about these things. During that time, I remember holding up the cover of Time magazine where they talked about how another ice age was coming. Then I held up a cover of the Time magazine 20 years later, and they said, no, it is global warming. They had the last polar bear stepping on the last cube of ice, and saying we are going to die.

We went through a period of 1945 to 1975 where they declared it a period of another ice age. Then 1975 to the turn of the century--so that was another 30-year period of time--when it was global warming. So we have gone back and forth.

Here is the interesting thing about that. The assertion is always made that we are having catastrophic global warming because of manmade gases, CO2, anthropogenic gases, and methane. Yet the greatest surge of CO 2 came right after World War II starting in 1945, and that precipitated not a warming period but a cooling period. So when you look at these things, sometimes--by the way, the only disagreement I would have with my friend from Vermont is that he has quoted me as saying some things.

Actually, unlike Al Gore and some of these other people, I recognize I am not an expert. I am not a scientist, but I read what the scientists say. I get my phone calls, I look at it, and I try to apply logic to it and come to my conclusions.

So that is what has been happening over the last--oh, it has been now 12 years, I guess, since all this started.

I wish to mention a couple of other things that were said. For example, on the idea of the science--here it is, right here. As far as scientists are concerned, I can remember quoting from the Harvard-Smithsonian study. The study examined results of more than 240 peer-reviewed-- "peer-reviewed" is the term used by my friend from Vermont--the Harvard-Smithsonian study examined the results of more than 240 peer-reviewed papers published by thousands of researchers over the past four decades. The study covers a multitude of geophysical and biological climate indicators. They came to the conclusion that "climate change is not real. The science is not accurate."

Then we have another quote from a former President of the National Academy of Sciences. He is Dr. Fred Seitz. He said:
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.

Again, he is a former President of the National Academy of Sciences.

Then we had a study from not long ago done by George Mason University. This is one my friend from Vermont may not have seen. It was called to my attention, and I missed it somehow in the media. It was a survey of 430 weather forecasters by the university, and it found that only 19 percent of the weather forecasters believed that the climate is changing and if so, that it is due to manmade gases--only 19 percent. That means 81 percent of them think it is not.

Dr. Robert Laughlin is a Nobel Prize winner and a Stanford University physicist. He said--this is kind of good. I enjoyed this one. He said:
Please remain calm: The earth will heal itself. Climate is beyond our power to control. The earth doesn't care about governments or their legislation. Climate change is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone's permission or explaining itself.

It is happening. I think it is kind of arrogant for people to think we can change this. I am recalling one of the statements made by my good friend that we have all of these--we must provide the leadership.

We have watched these great big annual parties the United Nations has in these exotic places around the world. I can remember going to a few of them. I remember one of them in Milan, Italy. It would have been 2003. I went there. They had "wanted" posters on all the telephone polls with my picture and quoted me when I first came out with the hoax statement. These big parties are kind of interesting. I have only gone to three of them, but they have people invited from all over the world. The only price to pay to come to this is to believe that catastrophic warming is taking place and that it is the fault of bad old man and anthropogenic gases.

Anyway, the last one was an interesting one--not the last one, the most enjoyable one in Copenhagen. At that time--I am going from memory, but I believe President Obama had been there, Secretary Clinton had been there, Nancy Pelosi had been there, and several others. There were five different people--I can't remember the other two--and they were there to assure the other countries--keep in mind, 192 countries--they assured them that we were going to pass some type of cap-and-trade legislation. So I went. Right before I went over, I announced myself as a self-described--I don't mean it in an arrogant way--as a self-proclaimed, one-man truth squad. I went over to tell them the truth, that it wasn't going to happen.

But right before it happened--talk about poetic justice, I say to my friend from Vermont--right before that happened was a hearing we had with the director of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, whom I love dearly. She is one of my three favorite liberals whom I often talk about, and she came out and said--I looked at her and I said: I am going to Copenhagen tomorrow. I have a feeling that when I leave to go to Copenhagen, you are going to have a declaration that will declare that it is a hazard and all this and give the bureaucracy justification to do through regulation what they could not do and have not been successful in doing through legislation.

I saw a smile on her face. I said: In the event you make that finding, it has to be based on science. What science do you think it will be based on?

She said: Well, primarily the IPCC--the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It is a branch of the United Nations. It was all started by the United Nations.

By the way, I would not mention my book; however, I checked before I came down, and if somebody else mentions my book, which is "The Greatest Hoax," then it is all right for me to mention it. I see my friend from Vermont nodding in agreement. So I want people to read the longest chapter, which is the chapter on the United Nations. It goes back and tells what the motives were for this. It goes back to 1972. We were in the midst of an ice age at that time, if my colleague remembers. It talks about the meeting that was going to be held at the Earth Summit in 1992, what the motivation was, and then it goes forward from there.

Here is what is interesting. I was going to mention this in a hearing we will both be attending tomorrow. They had the Earth Summit Plus 20 just a month ago in Rio de Janeiro, the same place it was held 20 years before that when George Bush was President of the United States. He went down there even though he didn't really agree with the stuff that was going on. In this case, President Obama didn't even go down. In fact, it has been conspicuous.

I was glad to see my friend from Vermont coming to the floor and talking about an issue that hasn't been talked about now for years. I am glad it is coming up again. I am glad people realize the cost it is going to be to the American people. By the way, the $300 billion to $400 billion originated from a study that was done by scientists--I am sorry--by economists from the Wharton School, and they came up with that figure. Later on, MIT and several universities said: Well, that is the $300 billion to $400 billion, what it will cost. So that has been pretty much agreed to. Yet I am sure there is a dissenting view. But this is the first time I have heard on the floor of this Senate a denial of that assertion that was made. Everyone knows what it will cost.

I remember the McCain-Lieberman bill when Senator Lieberman said: Yes, it will cost billions of dollars. There is no question about it. Cap and trade will cost billions of dollars. The question is, What do we gain from it?

Well, that is a pretty good question.

Getting back to Lisa Jackson, I asked the question--this was in a live hearing. I think the Senator from Vermont may have been there; I don't know for sure. It was live on TV.

I said: The assertion has been made that global warming is--that if we pass something, we are going to be able to stop this horrible thing that is going on right now. Let me ask you for the record, live on TV, in a committee hearing, if we were to pass the cap-and-trade bill--I think it was the Markey bill at that time; I am not sure. Cap and trade is cap and trade--pretty much the same. If we were to pass that, would that lower worldwide emissions of CO2? She said: No, it wouldn't. Wait a minute. This is the Obama-appointed director of the Environmental Protection Agency who said: No, it wouldn't, because the problem isn't here. The problem is in other countries.

I don't remember what countries she named--probably China, India, Mexico. It could be other countries; I am not sure. But nonetheless, she said: No, it really wouldn't do that.

So what we are talking about is this tax on the American people of $300 billion to $400 billion. I remember--and I think the Senator from Vermont remembers this also--way back in 1993, during the first of the Clinton-Gore administration, they had the Clinton-Gore tax increase of 1993. That was an increase of marginal rates, the death tax, capital gains, and I believe it was the largest tax increase in three decades at that time. That was a $32 billion tax increase. This would be a tax increase ten times that rate.

I know there are people--their heads swim when they hear these numbers. It doesn't mean anything to them. I will tell my colleagues what I do. In Oklahoma, I get the number of families who file a tax return, and then I do the math every time somebody comes up. In the case of that increase, of the $300 billion to $400 billion, we are talking about a $3,000 tax increase for each family in my State of Oklahoma that files a tax return. So, fine, if they want to do that, they can try to do it, but let's not say something good will come from it when the director of the EPA herself said no, it is not going to reduce emissions.

Much more HERE

Tom Chivers on trust

Tom Chivers, the Telegraph's science blogger, has written his take on the Muller paper. Coming a day after the initial furore it's somewhat more considered than many of the initial reactions, although not so considered that he has noticed all the argy-bargy going on as to just how sceptical Muller really was in the past. But that aside, there are some interesting questions raised, not least on the questions of authority and trust:
As a non-climate scientist, I have to accept certain things on authority, as I do with all expert knowledge. This is an argument from authority, but we all do it, and it's vital: if I had cancer, I'd accept the authority of the oncologist and the body of knowledge of the oncology community, rather than try to guide my own treatment with information I'd found on the internet. As Ben Goldacre said long ago in a different context: "you have only two choices: you can either learn to interpret data yourself and come to your own informed conclusions; or you decide who to trust".

This is quite true; we all have to rely on people we trust. I therefore see nothing particularly objectionable in this position. And Tom is clear about who he is going to trust.
I've decided who to trust, and it's mainstream scientific opinion: the Royal Society, the Royal Institution, Nasa, the US National Academy of Sciences, the US Geological Survey, the IPCC, the national science bodies of 30 or so other countries. And that gives me a possible route out of the confirmation-bias trap: I have, in advance, outsourced my judgment to expert bodies. If several of them changed their position, I would change mine. It's far from perfect, but short of becoming a climate scientist myself, it's the only option I have; otherwise my reasonable belief that the climate is changing due to human behaviour becomes an article of faith. As it is, although it is mediated through authority, it's still, I hope, based on empirical data, on the scientific method.

You have to laugh at that list. I'm not sure if Tom noticed there has been a bit of a rumpus over the IPCC in the last few years - something to do with some emails I think. The whole point of Climategate was that it showed that the IPCC is not to be trusted - dissenting authors excluded from the report, fabricated claims that dissenting findings were statistically insignficant, that sort of thing.

Perhaps he thinks the CRU scientists were exonerated? I can only assume that if this is indeed the case, since he still trusts the IPCC and wants others to do so too. I can only assume therefore that he is also taking the integrity of the inquiries on trust rather than having actually examined any of the facts - a pity because this is a simple matter of procedure rather than an area of science requiring months of research and study. Even a relatively cursory look at what the inquiries did would demonstrate to a moderately intelligent twelve-year old that no meaningful investigation had taken place. Even as eco-friendly a writer as Roger Harrabin describes the inquiries as "inadequate", which I think is just a diplomatic way of saying "thorough floor-to-ceiling whitewash".

Then again, there were all those other problems with the IPCC report - the claim that Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035, for example, a claim that had been touted by environmentalists long before the IPCC report, had been incorporated in the final text in the face of dissenting review comments, and had then been defended to the hilt by the chairman of the IPCC himself when it was exposed as a preposterous and cynical exaggeration.

Or what about the IPCC's decision to restate an important study of climate sensitivity by Forster and Gregory, putting it on a Bayesian basis and then imposing an inappropriate uniform prior that biased the results so as to increase climate sensitivity from 1.6°C to 2.3°C per doubling of CO2?

And Tom C wants us to trust these guys?

But what about the others - the NAS, the Royal Society and so on? The thing that has to be remembered here is that the reports issued by these august bodies are not representative of the fellows. They are put together mostly by politically minded insiders and a handful of climatologists - the same people who have caused all the trouble at the IPCC. It took a rebellion of dissenting fellows at the Royal Society to get its prognostications on climate to even have the appearance of a scientific rather than a political document. And if you look at the society's post-rebellion climate statement it still carries visible signs that its authors are taking things on trust. Here's what they say on climate sensitivity:
Climate models indicate that the overall climate sensitivity (for a hypothetical doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere) is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C; this range is mainly due to the difficulties in simulating the overall effect of the response of clouds to climate change mentioned earlier.

Not a word of the observational study by Forster and Gregory, the one that found that climate sensitivity was only 1.6°C, at least until the IPCC rewrote the story. I don't see this as deception - they probably just took the IPCC report on trust and were therefore probably unaware that Forster and Gregory was based on observations rather than climate models and found a lower climate sensitivity.

So the NAS, the Royal Society and all the other academies are simply conduits for the received wisdom coming from the IPCC - whom we know cannot be trusted. There is only the IPCC that assesses the climate literature from beginning to end. That is the dilemma we face: we are being invited to a game of poker by a bunch of known cardsharps.

Tom thinks we should play.


Corn for Food, Not Fuel

The very sensible article below is from the NYT, surprisingly. The point must be pretty obvious if even the NYT "gets" it

IT is not often that a stroke of a pen can quickly undo the ravages of nature, but federal regulators now have an opportunity to do just that. Americans’ food budgets will be hit hard by the ongoing Midwestern drought, the worst since 1956. Food bills will rise and many farmers will go bust.

An act of God, right? Well, the drought itself may be, but a human remedy for some of the fallout is at hand — if only the federal authorities would act. By suspending renewable-fuel standards that were unwise from the start, the Environmental Protection Agency could divert vast amounts of corn from inefficient ethanol production back into the food chain, where market forces and common sense dictate it should go.

The drought has now parched about 60 percent of the contiguous 48 states. As a result, global food prices are rising steeply. Corn futures prices on the Chicago exchange have risen about 60 percent since mid-June, hitting record levels, and other grains such as wheat and soybeans are also sharply higher. Livestock and dairy product prices will inevitably follow.

More than one-third of our corn crop is used to feed livestock. Another 13 percent is exported, much of it to feed livestock as well. Another 40 percent is used to produce ethanol. The remainder goes toward food and beverage production.

Previous droughts in the Midwest (most recently in 1988) also resulted in higher food prices, but misguided energy policies are magnifying the effects of the current one. Federal renewable-fuel standards require the blending of 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol with gasoline this year. This will require 4.7 billion bushels of corn, 40 percent of this year’s crop.

Other countries seem to have a better grasp of market forces and common sense. Brazil, another large ethanol producer, uses sugar instead of corn to make ethanol. It has flexible policies that allow the market to determine whether sugar should be sold on the sugar market or be converted to fuel. Our government could learn from the Brazilian approach and direct the E.P.A. to waive a portion of the renewable-fuel standards, thereby directing corn back to the marketplace. Under the law, the E.P.A. would first have to determine that the program was causing economic harm. That’s a no-brainer, given the effects of sharply higher grain prices that are already rippling through the economy.

The price of corn is a critical variable in the world food equation, and food markets are on edge because American corn supplies are plummeting. The combination of the drought and American ethanol policy will lead in many parts of the world to widespread inflation, more hunger, less food security, slower economic growth and political instability, especially in poor countries.

If the E.P.A. were to waive the rules for this year and next, the ethanol industry and corn farmers, who have experienced a years-long windfall, would lose out. Wheat and soybean farmers would also lose, because the prices of those crops have also been driven up: corn competes with soybeans for acreage and is substituted for wheat in some feed rations.

Any defense of the ethanol policy rests on fallacies, primarily these: that ethanol produced from corn makes the United States less dependent on fossil fuels; that ethanol lowers the price of gasoline; that an increase in the percentage of ethanol blended into gasoline increases the overall supply of gasoline; and that ethanol is environmentally friendly and lowers global carbon dioxide emissions.

The ethanol lobby promotes these claims, and many politicians seem intoxicated by them. Corn is indeed a renewable resource, but it has a far lower yield relative to the energy used to produce it than either biodiesel (such as soybean oil) or ethanol from other plants. Ethanol yields about 30 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline, so mileage drops off significantly. Finally, adding ethanol actually raises the price of blended fuel because it is more expensive to transport and handle than gasoline.

As the summer drags on, the drought is only worsening. Last week the International Grains Council lowered its estimate of this year’s American corn harvest to 11.8 billion bushels from 13.8 billion. Reducing the renewable-fuel standard by a mere 20 percent — equivalent to about a billion bushels of corn — would offset nearly half of the expected crop loss due to the drought.

All it would take is the stroke of a pen — and, of course, the savvy and the will to do the right thing.


U.S. Navy declares war on fossil fuel

Biofuel fiasco has high price

If America had a Spend Like a Drunken Sailor Award, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus would win hands-down for blowing $12 million on biofuel for Navy ships.

Even as the armed services face drastic budget cuts under automatic sequestration and other proposals undermining our national security, Mr. Mabus and President Obama clearly believe “it’s only taxpayer money.”

In fairness, Mr. Mabus‘ Great Green Fleet of ships and fighter jets performed well during recent military exercises off Hawaii, burning blends of 50 percent biofuels and 50 percent conventional fuels. But the price tag makes the fleet a poster child for wasteful government spending.

The exercises cost the Navy nearly $27 per gallon for 450,000 gallons of biofuels produced from algae, waste grease and animal fat — versus around $3.50 for standard petroleum fuels.

The only way the Navy looks good in this fiasco is in comparison to the Air Force, which spent $59 a gallon for alcohol-based jet fuel and $67 per gallon for camelina-based F-22 Raptor fuel. The Navy, however, also purchased of 20,000 gallons of renewable diesel fuel in 2009 for $424 a gallon.

If Mr. Mabus achieves his goal and persuades the Navy to make half of its fuel “green” by 2020, the higher-cost biofuels could add $1.9 billion annually to Navy’s fuel bill, according to a Defense Department study. That extra outlay would pay for a new DDG-51 destroyer and comes as the Defense Department budget faces $13 billion in cuts for Navy shipbuilding over the next four years.

Add to that boatloads of additional taxpayer dollars that would be wasted if the Army, Air Force and Marines also switch from abundant, affordable, reliable, proven petroleum fuels to unaffordable and unsustainable biofuels. The Pentagon’s green-spending spree makes the General Services Administration binge on lavish travel, conferences and entertainment look like chump change. Maybe the Navy ought to replace its “Beat Army” football battle cry with “Beat GSA.”

Worse, on top of paying these enormous sums for biofuels, the Navy and Departments of Agriculture and Energy agreed last summer that each would “invest $170 million directly in biorefineries to kick-start the flagging industry,” Wired magazine reported. The $510 million total equals the Solyndra solar-panel loan guarantee debacle.

What’s next in the drive to end Defense Department fossil fuel use? Using fuel efficiency to justify “slimming down” armor and armament for personnel vehicles, tanks, fighter jets, aircraft carriers and missile cruisers? Or shrinking the U.S. military to the size and capability of its French, German or Greek counterparts?

The Navy biofuels program doesn’t turn 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop into ethanol. However, the entire United States does not have enough chicken fat and waste grease to fuel the Navy — and collecting and refining it would be a budget-busting logistical nightmare. Moreover, camelina and other nonfood crops still require vast amounts of land, water, energy, fertilizer and pesticides.

Growing sufficient quantities of algae to meet the Mabus-Obama green-fuel pipe dreams would require enormous onshore and offshore algae ponds, sending environmentalists storming into courthouses.

Protecting the military from oil price spikes is equally specious. If every $1 in higher oil prices costs the military $30 million, as White House climate czar Heather Zichal claims, a $23- to $63-per-gallon price differential between conventional and biofuel will cost it $690 million to $1.9 billion.

As for enhancing supply lines and national security, does Mr. Mabus intend to build enough biofuel refineries to equal the conventional refineries and fleet-servicing ports worldwide that safeguard supplies? Or to commission specialized ships that strain algae from seawater like baleen whales, convert it to fuel onboard and store it in tankers?

Even ignoring the absence of empirical evidence that carbon dioxide is driving catastrophic global warming, it beggars belief that the White House, Congress or the Defense Department would even consider compromising military preparedness, missions and safety to promote climate-change ideology. Moreover, any net carbon-dioxide reductions resulting from the use of biofuels would be more than offset by increases from China, India and other rapidly developing countries.

Fortunately, many in Congress understand that “adopting a ‘green agenda’ for national defense is a terrible misplacement of priorities,” as Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and former Navy pilot, aptly put it. House-passed legislation would bar the Defense Department from buying biofuels that cost more than conventional fuels, and Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, has proposed similar action in the Senate.


Fish lovers versus bird lovers in Britain

Anglers have infuriated the bird watching community by calling for a cull of cormorants. They are calling for a mass campaign against the birds – nicknamed the Black Death - which they say are demolishing fish stocks.

But bird watchers say fishermen’s ‘single minded’ pursuit of the birds is unnecessary and are fighting to retain protection for them.

Britain’s cormorants are said to consume 23,000 pounds of fish a day, including young salmon, silver fish, eels and trout.

The Angling Trust, which has three million affiliated members, say some fisheries have been virtually destroyed and tackle shops have been forced to close due to the menace.

It launched the Action on Cormorants campaign yesterday calling for them to be generally licenced for culling, like magpies and crows, which can be killed if they threaten agriculture or public health.

No general licences have ever been granted to protect fishing and the RSPB say cormorant numbers are not big enough to withstand an ‘open season’ on them by anglers.

The simmering row wratcheted up yesterday (Mon) as the Angling Trust handed out 80,000 postcards for members to send to their MPs to try and get fisheries minister Richard Benyon to agree a cull.

Angling Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd said ‘This is an opportunity for thousands of anglers to stand up and be counted.

‘We’re letting MPs know that we care passionately about protecting our fish stocks and that we want action on cormorants now.
Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon is under pressure to agree a cull of cormorants

Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon is under pressure to agree a cull of cormorants. ‘We want a new system that will give fishery managers the opportunity to control these birds responsibly without expensive and unnecessary bureaucracy.’

George Hollingbery, vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary group on angling said: ‘I’ve witnessed first-hand the damage that squadrons of cormorants have done to my local waters, where, in some cases fish stocks have been so badly depleted that they are no longer functioning fisheries.’

On the river Lee in London anglers claim to have spent £40,000 on re-stocking fish but in a recent match the biggest fish caught was just 13 ounces.

At Holme Pierrpoint near Nottingham, anglers say only 25 per cent of the fish are left. In Kent, where up to 60 birds a day visit a trout fishery the owner is only allowed a licence to kill four of them in a year.

Anglers say the current measures - whereby they can apply for a specific licence for their own use - are too complicated.

The campaign is backed by celebrity anglers including TV presenter Chris Tarrant. He said: ‘It’s taken absurdly long for people to realise the damage to fish populations, other wildlife and the whole environment that cormorants have been doing for too many years.

‘Many of our finest, most beautiful and most famous waterways have been skinned by these predatory birds. Some of the flocks are enormous and the current regulations are hopelessly inadequate to control them.’

However Grahame Madge of the RSPB said there are already provisions to control cormorants – 2,000 were culled with special licences in 2010.

He said: ‘There are already provisions to control cormorants which are already higher than we would comfortably agree with and they don’t seem to have any increasing evidence of cormorant predation on fish.

‘We appreciate they can be a problem at certain fisheries but are non-lethal steps they can take to protect their stock such as underwater reefs which give young fish protection from predators.

‘If they were put on licence, there would be no limit on the numbers killed and no proper monitoring to ensure they are not taking more than the population could withstand and see their numbers substantially reduced.

‘We have been talking to anglers about this for year and investing in research which shows there are measures they can take. But the angling fraternity seem to want to turn their back on all that dialogue held in good faith and go out and kill cormorants which we think is unacceptable.’



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" -- Karl Popper

This site is in favour of things that ARE good for the environment. That the usual Greenie causes are good for the environment is however disputed.

By John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.), writing from Brisbane, Australia.

This is one of TWO skeptical blogs that I update daily. During my research career as a social scientist, I was appalled at how much writing in my field was scientifically lacking -- and I often said so in detail in the many academic journal articles I had published in that field. I eventually gave up social science research, however, because no data ever seemed to change the views of its practitioners. I hoped that such obtuseness was confined to the social scientists but now that I have shifted my attention to health related science and climate related science, I find the same impermeability to facts and logic. Hence this blog and my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog. I may add that I did not come to either health or environmental research entirely without credentials. I had several academic papers published in both fields during my social science research career

Since my academic background is in the social sciences, it is reasonable to ask what a social scientist is doing talking about global warming. My view is that my expertise is the most relevant of all. It seems clear to me from what you will see on this blog that belief in global warming is very poorly explained by history, chemistry, physics or statistics.

Warmism is prophecy, not science. Science cannot foretell the future. Science can make very accurate predictions based on known regularities in nature (e.g. predicting the orbits of the inner planets) but Warmism is the exact opposite of that. It predicts a DEPARTURE from the known regularities of nature. If we go by the regularities of nature, we are on the brink of an ice age.

And from a philosophy of science viewpoint, far from being "the science", Warmism is not even an attempt at a factual statement, let alone being science. It is not a meaningful statement about the world. Why? Because it is unfalsifiable -- making it a religious, not a scientific statement. To be a scientific statement, there would have to be some conceivable event that disproved it -- but there appears to be none. ANY event is hailed by Warmists as proving their contentions. Only if Warmists were able to specify some fact or event that would disprove their theory would it have any claim to being a scientific statement. So the explanation for Warmist beliefs has to be primarily a psychological and political one -- which makes it my field

And, after all, Al Gore's academic qualifications are in social science also -- albeit very pissant qualifications.

Climate is the sum of weather. So if you cannot forecast the weather a month in advance, you will not be able to forecast the climate 50 years in advance. And official meteorologists such as Britain's Met Office and Australia's BOM, are very poor forecasters of weather. The Met office has in fact given up on making seasonal forecasts because they have so often got such forecasts embarrassingly wrong. Their global-warming-powered "models" just did not deliver

A strange Green/Left conceit: They seem to think (e.g. here) that no-one should spend money opposing them and that conservative donors must not support the election campaigns of Congressmen they agree with

To Greenies, Genghis Khan was a good guy, believe it or not. They love that he killed so many people.

After three exceptionally cold winters in the Northern hemisphere, the Warmists are chanting: "Warming causes cold". Even if we give that a pass for logic, it still inspires the question: "Well, what are we worried about"? Cold is not going to melt the icecaps is it?"

It's a central (but unproven) assumption of the Warmist "models" that clouds cause warming. Odd that it seems to cool the temperature down when clouds pass overhead!

To make out that the essentially trivial warming of the last 150 years poses some sort of threat, Warmists postulate positive feedbacks that might cut in to make the warming accelerate in the near future. Amid their theories about feedbacks, however, they ignore the one feedback that is no theory: The reaction of plants to CO2. Plants gobble up CO2 and the more CO2 there is the more plants will flourish and hence gobble up yet more CO2. And the increasing crop yields of recent years show that plantlife is already flourishing more. The recent rise in CO2 will therefore soon be gobbled up and will no longer be around to bother anyone. Plants provide a huge NEGATIVE feedback in response to increases in atmospheric CO2


After much reading in the relevant literature, the following conclusions seem warranted to me. You should find evidence for all of them appearing on this blog from time to time:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A "HEAT TRAPPING GAS". A gas can become warmer by contact with something warmer or by infrared radiation shining on it or by adiabatic (pressure) effects but it cannot trap anything. Air is a gas. Try trapping something with it!

Greenies are the sand in the gears of modern civilization -- and they intend to be.

The Greenie message is entirely emotional and devoid of all logic. They say that polar ice will melt and cause a big sea-level rise. Yet 91% of the world's glacial ice is in Antarctica, where the average temperature is around minus 40 degrees Celsius. The melting point of ice is zero degrees. So for the ice to melt on any scale the Antarctic temperature would need to rise by around 40 degrees, which NOBODY is predicting. The median Greenie prediction is about 4 degrees. So where is the huge sea level rise going to come from? Mars? And the North polar area is mostly sea ice and melting sea ice does not raise the sea level at all. Yet Warmists constantly hail any sign of Arctic melting. That the melting of floating ice does not raise the water level is known as Archimedes' principle. Archimedes demonstrated it around 2,500 years ago. That Warmists have not yet caught up with that must be just about the most inspissated ignorance imaginable. The whole Warmist scare defies the most basic physics. Yet at the opening of 2011 we find the following unashamed lying by James Hansen: "We will lose all the ice in the polar ice cap in a couple of decades". Sadly, what the Vulgate says in John 1:5 is still only very partially true: "Lux in tenebris lucet". There is still much darkness in the minds of men.

The repeated refusal of Warmist "scientists" to make their raw data available to critics is such a breach of scientific protocol that it amounts to a confession in itself. Note, for instance Phil Jones' Feb 21, 2005 response to Warwick Hughes' request for his raw climate data: "We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?" Looking for things that might be wrong with a given conclusion is of course central to science. But Warmism cannot survive such scrutiny. So even after "Climategate", the secrecy goes on.

Most Greenie causes are at best distractions from real environmental concerns (such as land degradation) and are more motivated by a hatred of people than by any care for the environment

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

‘Global warming’ has become the grand political narrative of the age, replacing Marxism as a dominant force for controlling liberty and human choices. -- Prof. P. Stott

Comparing climate alarmist Hansen to Cassandra is WRONG. Cassandra's (Greek mythology) dire prophecies were never believed but were always right. Hansen's dire prophecies are usually believed but are always wrong (Prof. Laurence Gould, U of Hartford, CT)

The modern environmental movement arose out of the wreckage of the New Left. They call themselves Green because they're too yellow to admit they're really Reds. So Lenin's birthday was chosen to be the date of Earth Day. Even a moderate politician like Al Gore has been clear as to what is needed. In "Earth in the Balance", he wrote that saving the planet would require a "wrenching transformation of society".

For centuries there was a scientific consensus which said that fire was explained by the release of an invisible element called phlogiston. That theory is universally ridiculed today. Global warming is the new phlogiston. Though, now that we know how deliberate the hoax has been, it might be more accurate to call global warming the New Piltdown Man. The Piltdown hoax took 40 years to unwind. I wonder....

Motives: Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Policies: The only underlying theme that makes sense of all Greenie policies is hatred of people. Hatred of other people has been a Greenie theme from way back. In a report titled "The First Global Revolution" (1991, p. 104) published by the "Club of Rome", a Greenie panic outfit, we find the following statement: "In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill.... All these dangers are caused by human intervention... The real enemy, then, is humanity itself." See here for many more examples of prominent Greenies saying how much and how furiously they hate you.

The conventional wisdom of the day is often spectacularly wrong. The most popular and successful opera of all time is undoubtedly "Carmen" by Georges Bizet. Yet it was much criticized when first performed and the unfortunate Bizet died believing that it was a flop. Similarly, when the most iconic piece of 20th century music was first performed in 1913-- Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" -- half the audience walked out. Those of us who defy the conventional wisdom about climate are actually better off than that. Unlike Bizet and Stravinsky in 1913, we KNOW that we will eventually be vindicated -- because all that supports Warmism is a crumbling edifice of guesswork ("models").

Al Gore won a political prize for an alleged work of science. That rather speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Jim Hansen and his twin

Getting rich and famous through alarmism: Al Gore is well-known but note also James Hansen. He has for decades been a senior, presumably well-paid, employee at NASA. In 2001 he was the recipient of a $250,000 Heinz Award. In 2007 Time magazine designated him a Hero of the Environment. That same year he pocketed one-third of a $1 million Dan David Prize. In 2008, the American Association for the Advancement of Science presented him with its Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award. In 2010 he landed a $100,000 Sophie Prize. He pulled in a total of $1.2 million in 2010. Not bad for a government bureaucrat.

See the original global Warmist in action here: "The icecaps are melting and all world is drowning to wash away the sin"

I am not a global warming skeptic nor am I a global warming denier. I am a global warming atheist. I don't believe one bit of it. That the earth's climate changes is undeniable. Only ignoramuses believe that climate stability is normal. But I see NO evidence to say that mankind has had anything to do with any of the changes observed -- and much evidence against that claim.

Seeing that we are all made of carbon, the time will come when people will look back on the carbon phobia of the early 21st century as too incredible to be believed

Meanwhile, however, let me venture a tentative prophecy. Prophecies are almost always wrong but here goes: Given the common hatred of carbon (Warmists) and salt (Food freaks) and given the fact that we are all made of carbon, salt, water and calcium (with a few additives), I am going to prophecy that at some time in the future a hatred of nitrogen will emerge. Why? Because most of the air that we breathe is nitrogen. We live at the bottom of a nitrogen sea. Logical to hate nitrogen? NO. But probable: Maybe. The Green/Left is mad enough. After all, nitrogen is a CHEMICAL -- and we can't have that!

UPDATE to the above: It seems that I am a true prophet

The intellectual Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) must have foreseen Global Warmism. He said: "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."

The Holy Grail for most scientists is not truth but research grants. And the global warming scare has produced a huge downpour of money for research. Any mystery why so many scientists claim some belief in global warming?

For many people, global warming seems to have taken the place of "The Jews" -- a convenient but false explanation for any disliked event. Prof. Brignell has some examples.

Global warming skeptics are real party-poopers. It's so wonderful to believe that you have a mission to save the world.

There is an "ascetic instinct" (or perhaps a "survivalist instinct") in many people that causes them to delight in going without material comforts. Monasteries and nunneries were once full of such people -- with the Byzantine stylites perhaps the most striking example. Many Greenies (other than Al Gore and his Hollywood pals) have that instinct too but in the absence of strong orthodox religious committments they have to convince themselves that the world NEEDS them to live in an ascetic way. So their personal emotional needs lead them to press on us all a delusional belief that the planet needs "saving".

The claim that oil is a fossil fuel is another great myth and folly of the age. They are now finding oil at around seven MILES beneath the sea bed -- which is incomparably further down than any known fossil. The abiotic oil theory is not as yet well enough developed to generate useful predictions but that is also true of fossil fuel theory

Help keep the planet Green! Maximize your CO2 and CH4 output!

Global Warming=More Life; Global Cooling=More Death.

The inconvenient truth about biological effects of "Ocean Acidification"


"The desire to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it" -- H L Mencken

'Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action' -- Goethe

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” -- Voltaire

Lord Salisbury: "No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome; if you believe theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe soldiers, nothing is safe."

Bertrand Russell knew about consensus: "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”

There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts. - Duc de La Rochefoucauld, French writer and moralist (1613-1680)

"In science, refuting an accepted belief is celebrated as an advance in knowledge; in religion it is condemned as heresy". (Bob Parks, Physics, U of Maryland). No prizes for guessing how global warming skepticism is normally responded to.

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus

"The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin." -- Thomas H. Huxley

“Affordable energy in ample quantities is the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.” -- John P. Holdren, Science Adviser to President Obama. Published in Science 9 February 2001

'The closer science looks at the real world processes involved in climate regulation the more absurd the IPCC's computer driven fairy tale appears. Instead of blithely modeling climate based on hunches and suppositions, climate scientists would be better off abandoning their ivory towers and actually measuring what happens in the real world.' -- Doug L Hoffman

Time was, people warning the world "Repent - the end is nigh!" were snickered at as fruitcakes. Now they own the media and run the schools.

"One of the sources of the Fascist movement is the desire to avoid a too-rational and too-comfortable world" -- George Orwell, 1943 in Can Socialists Be Happy?

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts -- Bertrand Russell

Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the .6 of one degree average rise reported by the U.N. "experts" for the entire 20th century (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows, if anything, that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.

Recent NASA figures tell us that there was NO warming trend in the USA during the 20th century. If global warming is occurring, how come it forgot the USA?

Warmists say that the revised NASA figures do not matter because they cover only the USA -- and the rest of the world is warming nicely. But it is not. There has NEVER been any evidence that the Southern hemisphere is warming. See here. So the warming pattern sure is looking moth-eaten.

The latest scare is the possible effect of extra CO2 on the world’s oceans, because more CO2 lowers the pH of seawater. While it is claimed that this makes the water more acidic, this is misleading. Since seawater has a pH around 8.1, it will take an awful lot of CO2 it to even make the water neutral (pH=7), let alone acidic (pH less than 7).

In fact, ocean acidification is a scientific impossibility. Henry's Law mandates that warming oceans will outgas CO2 to the atmosphere (as the UN's own documents predict it will), making the oceans less acid. Also, more CO2 would increase calcification rates. No comprehensive, reliable measurement of worldwide oceanic acid/base balance has ever been carried out: therefore, there is no observational basis for the computer models' guess that acidification of 0.1 pH units has occurred in recent decades.

The chaos theory people have told us for years that the air movement from a single butterfly's wing in Brazil can cause an unforeseen change in our weather here. Now we are told that climate experts can "model" the input of zillions of such incalculable variables over periods of decades to accurately forecast global warming 50 years hence. Give us all a break!

If you doubt the arrogance [of the global warming crowd, you haven't seen that Newsweek cover story that declared the global warming debate over. Consider: If Newton's laws of motion could, after 200 years of unfailing experimental and experiential confirmation, be overthrown, it requires religious fervor to believe that global warming -- infinitely more untested, complex and speculative -- is a closed issue

A "geriatric" revolt: The scientists who reject Warmism tend to be OLD! Your present blogger is one of those. There are tremendous pressures to conformity in academe and the generally Leftist orientation of academe tends to pressure everyone within it to agree to ideas that suit the Left. And Warmism is certainly one of those ideas. So old guys are the only ones who can AFFORD to declare the Warmists to be unclothed. They either have their careers well-established (with tenure) or have reached financial independence (retirement) and so can afford to call it like they see it. In general, seniors in society today are not remotely as helpful to younger people as they once were. But their opposition to the Warmist hysteria will one day show that seniors are not completely irrelevant after all. Experience does count (we have seen many such hysterias in the past and we have a broader base of knowledge to call on) and our independence is certainly an enormous strength. Some of us are already dead. (Reid Bryson and John Daly are particularly mourned) and some of us are very senior indeed (e.g. Bill Gray and Vince Gray) but the revolt we have fostered is ever growing so we have not labored in vain.

Scientists have politics too -- sometimes extreme politics. Read this: "This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism... I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child." -- Albert Einstein

The "precautionary principle" is a favourite Greenie idea -- but isn't that what George Bush was doing when he invaded Iraq? Wasn't that a precaution against Saddam getting or having any WMDs? So Greenies all agree with the Iraq intervention? If not, why not?

A classic example of how the sensationalist media distort science to create climate panic is here.

There is a very readable summary of the "Hockey Stick" fraud here

The Lockwood & Froehlich paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even have been the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and very detailed critiques here and here and here for more on the Lockwood paper and its weaknesses.

As the Greenies are now learning, even strong statistical correlations may disappear if a longer time series is used. A remarkable example from Sociology: "The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre’s yield of cotton. He calculated the correla­tion coefficient between the two series at –0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic condi­tions and lynchings in Raper’s data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his anal­ysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic condi­tions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added." So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. In the Greenie case, the correlation between CO2 rise and global temperature rise stopped in 1998 -- but that could have been foreseen if measurements taken in the first half of the 20th century had been considered.

Relying on the popular wisdom can even hurt you personally: "The scientific consensus of a quarter-century ago turned into the arthritic nightmare of today."

Greenie-approved sources of electricity (windmills and solar cells) require heavy government subsidies to be competitive with normal electricity generators so a Dutch word for Greenie power seems graphic to me: "subsidieslurpers" (subsidy gobblers)