The CRU graph. Note that it is calibrated in tenths of a degree Celsius and that even that tiny amount of warming started long before the late 20th century. The horizontal line is totally arbitrary, just a visual trick. The whole graph would be a horizontal line if it were calibrated in whole degrees -- thus showing ZERO warming

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 July, 2013

As new EPA chief, Gina McCarthy vows to act on climate change

A malediction on the old trollop. She admits to no concern about job losses from her policies

The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency told an audience at Harvard Law School on Tuesday that cutting carbon pollution will “feed the economic agenda of this country,” and vowed to work with industry leaders on shaping policies aimed at curbing global warming.

“Climate change will not be resolved overnight,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told the 310-person audience. “But it will be engaged over the next three years. That I can promise you.”

McCarthy made a full-throated defense of her agency’s right to address greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, saying that air-quality regulations and environmental cleanup efforts have already produced economic benefits in the United States.

“Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs, please?” she asked, prompting loud applause. “We need to embrace cutting-edge technology as a way to spark business innovation.”

McCarthy, a veteran of Republican administrations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, has spent much of the past four years at the EPA shepherding through air regulations, which have come under attack from business groups for helping shut down power plants. Her nomination to succeed former EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson dragged on for more than four months as several GOP senators used the pick as a way to highlight their problems with Obama’s environmental agenda.

In her Tuesday speech, McCarthy pointed to the EPA’s history of improving the environment in places such as Lowell, Mass., where she watched the river run blue, yellow and other colors depending on what dyes the textile mills dumped in the water.

She said climate change was now the top priority for the agency, which plans to model its efforts on the administration’s earlier agreement with the auto industry on stricter fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.

“EPA cannot dictate solutions,” McCarthy said. “We have to engage.”

McCarthy has already been meeting with utility executives and coal industry officials, some of whom fear that the administration’s plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing plants will close many plants.

McCarthy also said the agency would continue to focus on water quality and environmental justice, a hallmark of her predecessor, which refers to the problems facing poorer communities that bear the brunt of pollution and other environmental risks.

Hal Quinn, president and chief executive of the National Mining Association, said that McCarthy was “keenly interested” in the group’s technical assessments of the impact of EPA rules during a meeting earlier this year.

But Quinn said he remains worried that the agency will press for unrealistic carbon standards. He said a 2011 rule on mercury and air toxins had forced utilities to retire at least 40,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity.

“The investments that have been made in utilities .?.?. could be jeopardized or stranded because of the rules on greenhouse gas emissions,” Quinn said.

In an interview Tuesday, McCarthy said the utility-closing announcements came far in advance of any EPA rule requirements. “It’s hard for me to think our rule is the driving factor behind these closures,” she said. “This is about the abundance of low-cost natural gas. It’s about how utilities are making decisions, company-wide, about how to invest in the future the way they see it right now.”

On the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, McCarthy said in the interview that the EPA would not weigh in on the issue until the State Department releases a final environmental assessment of the project. While she did not indicate what position the agency would take, McCarthy noted that Obama “sent a very strong signal” during his June climate speech “that climate’s impact would be taken into consideration in this decision, and in others.”

During the question-and-answer portion of Tuesday’s speech, McCarthy jokingly began to cut off the session once a Sierra Club member posed a question about the Keystone pipeline.

But she vowed to “continue to work with the administration as difficult decisions are made,” and compared charting national environmental policy to reconciling interests in a noisy family.

“It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be all the different voices coming together screaming at the top of their lungs like three children,” she said, saying she would work to allow “all those voices to be heard and to listen to them. And it’s my obligation to keep peace in the family, whether it’s my EPA one or my little one.”


US shale threatens Saudi funding crisis and demise of OPEC

Saudi Arabia and the Opec oil states must wean their economies off energy exports immediately or spiral into decline as America’s shale revolution shatters the world order, a top Saudi business leader has warned.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the country’s best-known global investor, said the business model of Middle East oil exporters risks unravelling rich industrial states find ways of cutting demand. “Our country is facing a threat with the continuation of its near-complete reliance on oil: 92pc of the budget for this year depends on oil,” he said in a letter to Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi.

Mr Al-Naimi and Opec leaders have taken a relaxed view of growing US shale output. “This is not the first time new sources of oil are discovered. There was oil from the North Sea and Brazil, so why is there so much talk about shale oil now?” he said last month.

Opec admits that new output from hydraulic “fracking” could chip away its dominant position in the market but secretary general Abdalla El Badri still insists that Opec “will be around after shale oil finishes”. The group is more worried about recession in Europe and a hard landing in China.

Prince Alwaleed said oil demand from OECD rich states is in “continuous decline”, and the Saudis will not be able to ratchet up their output from 12.5m to 15m barrels per day (bpd) to cover growing budget costs. “It is necessary to diversify sources of revenue, establish a clear vision, and start implementing it immediately,” he said.

A report last month by Leonardo Maugeri at Harvard University said US shale oil output could triple to 5m bpd by 2017, turning America into the world’s top producer once again.

The great unknown is how quickly the US technological feat can be replicated in Argentina, Britain, Poland, Russia, and above all China, where there is a chronic shortage of water needed for fracking. France, Germany and several European states have cut themselves off for ecological reasons but this may become untenable if others succeed.

If shale does deliver on its promise and keeps prices low for decades, it will be a mortal threat to OPEC states that rely on oil revenue to cover social spending and placate fast-growing populations. The “break-even cost” for their budgets has doubled over the last decade, reaching $140 (£91) in Iran, $115 in Bahrain, $100 in Iraq, $80 in Saudi Arabia, and $75 even in the lightly-settled Emirates. Russia too has topped $100.


Frack the 'desolate' North East, says Tory peer

Some reasonable comments fall foul of political correctness. The Northeast has high unemployment fueled by the difficulty of getting the workers to work

Lord Howell, a Government energy adviser and father-in-law to George Osborne, has described parts of the North East of England as “desolate” and suggested controversial fracking should be concentrated away from the south.

The Conservative peer, who advises William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, on energy and resource security, called for fracking to be concentrated in the North East because it has “large, desolate and uninhabited areas”.

He claimed that it could be a “mistake” to discuss shale gas drilling – known as fracking – in terms “of the whole United Kingdom in one go”.

In comments sure to cause controversy, he seemed to suggest that there are not “beautiful” areas in the North East and that it would be ripe for shale gas exploration.

“There are obviously in beautiful rural areas, worries not just about the drilling and the fracking, which I think are exaggerated, but about the trucks, the delivery and the roads and the disturbance,” Lord Howell said. “And those are quite justified worries.”

“But there are large uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly up in the North East where there’s plenty of room for fracking well away from anyone’s residence where it can be conducted without any kind of threat to the rural environment.”

He added that “a distinction should be made between one area and another rather than lumping them all together”.

A Government spokesman immediately slapped down Lord Howell, saying he "is not a minister and does not speak for the Government".

Downing Street immediately tried to distance itself from Lord Howell, saying he has not been an adviser since April. Lord Howell was until this afternoon still listed as an adviser on the Government's own website.

Lord Howell is father to Frances Osborne, the Chancellor’s wife.

The controversial comments by someone so close to the Chancellor will raise questions about the Government’s energy policies.

The Tories have also repeatedly faced accusations that they ignore the north of England because it is largely dominated by the Labour Party.

David Cameron has said that shale gas drilling could help cut the cost of living for families struggling with average bills of more than £1,300 per year.

Earlier this month Mr Cameron gave some of his strongest ever comments in favour of shale gas.

"In America they are now almost self-sufficient in gas," he said. "Their gas prices to business are now less then half as much as ours are and the reason for this is they have put a lot of investment into unconventional gas.

"The figures are actually quite frightening. Europe as a whole has 75 per cent as much unconventional gas as America. So we’ve got less in Europe as America.

"But whereas they are digging 10,000 wells a year, so far in Europe we’ve dug just 100. So we are way behind, so I’m in favour of fracking, the government is making it easier."

Labour peer Jeremy Beecham, a councillor in Newcastle, said: “Neville Chamberlain spoke of pre-war Czechoslovakia as 'a far away country of which we know nothing'. Lord Howell clearly has a similar view on the North East – and his comments once again highlight the Tories problem with the North.

“Perhaps he’s forecasting the future the North East faces as a result of Government policy – a ‘largely uninhabited and desolate’ place where there’ll be few people to object?”.


The spotted owl’s Who: We won’t get fooled again

By Rick Manning

The Northern Spotted Owl is back in the news, as the U.S. government is moving forward with plans to kill its larger cousin the Barred Owl to help save it from possible extinction.

But why should we care about this news that the biggest threat to the Northern Spotted Owl’s survival is not logging, but instead, is the invasion of its stronger, more adaptable cousin?

The case of the spotted owl should force any thinking person to ask the question, “If the environmental lobby could be so wrong on the Northern Spotted Owl with devastating consequences to local economies, could they also be wrong about their war on available energy production like coal and hydraulic fracturing?”

Starting in the 1980s, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups turned a small owl found in the timberlands of the northwestern United States into a fundraising star. Saving the spotted owl became the cause of the moment, and the greens rejoiced when the federal government dramatically curtailed logging throughout the region. The bird had been presumed “saved”, and it did not matter that sawmills and the towns that grew up around them became virtual ghost towns.

Oregon Public Broadcasting spoke with the former president of the Northwest Forestry Association, Jim Geisinger about the broken promise of the Clinton Administration’s Northwest Forest Plan which pledged a balanced approach between logging and Northern Spotted Owl protection efforts.

“The net effect has been about a 90 percent reduction in our federal timber supply. And when you take almost four billion board feet off the market, the economic effects on rural communities is just inescapable.”

Geisinger continued to explain, “It’s interesting that in spite of everything that’s happened to our industry, we’re still the second-biggest industry in the state [of Oregon], behind high tech. But with that being said, our industry is not what it used to be. Hundreds of mills closed, and tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, and those jobs haven’t been replaced.”

Back in the 1990’s, environmentalists argued that the Northern Spotted Owl could only exist in “old growth forests,” yet now they are forced to admit that the subspecies can live in young forests as is witnessed in California.

Over the years, in spite of various forestry plans designed to save the spotted owl, the bird continues on a precipitous decline, and some question whether the challenges faced by the owl was related to the presence of old growth forests at all?

In fact, research conducted on Green Diamond Company’s timberland in coastal northern California indicated that this theory was untrue. The species not only survived, but also often flourish on commercial timberlands in this region. In fact, Green Diamond’s timberland proved to be one of the most populous spotted owl areas in the Northwest. Since Green Diamond’s owl research began in 1990, they have identified over 1,700 adult and juvenile spotted owls on their property alone. This is quite a powerful repudiation of the theory that timbering and the Northern Spotted Owl cannot co-exist.

The actions taken by Green Diamond have been so successful that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded their timber operations the first ever Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the spotted owl.

California Forestry Association President David Bischel sums up the situation saying, “Ironically, some of the most robust populations of Northern Spotted Owls occupy sustainably managed private forests of Northern California.”

Bischel’s statement is startling in its simplicity, and the massive implications are difficult to miss.

If the Northern Spotted Owl thrives in managed private forests, and yet it continues to decline on federal lands where timbering has been outlawed to save the species, one can logically conclude that the owl would be better off in habitat where sustainable forest management is practiced.

Twenty years later, tens of thousands of good paying jobs have been destroyed, thousands of lives have been ruined, communities shuttered, and it turns out that the entire habitat based premise of the species recovery plan was wrong.

Now, the same characters are engaged in a monumental war on our nation’s real energy resources. They are evangelic in their attempts to destroy the use of coal, and they are equally fervent against the Keystone XL pipeline as well as the use of hydraulic fracturing to develop shale oil resources.

They claim that the climate is warming and that everyone who is anyone agrees. Of course, this claim ignores prominent Russian scientists who claim that our world is on the verge of a prolonged cooling period.

They ignore the inconvenient fact that their global warming models have been absurdly wrong as the average global temperatures have been stable for the past fifteen years.

Even those who set off the initial climate alarm have been forced to come to terms with this reality, as James Lovelock, the godfather of the global warming movement who previously warned that billions would die before the end of this century admitted, “The problem is that we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened.”

When you compound the growing doubts about the premise that the planet is warming with the even more tenuous theory that man-made carbon dioxide is the culprit in causing the “warming,” you have a very thin reed to stand on.

Yet that is exactly the rationale that the EPA and the environmentalists pin their entire anti-carbon regulatory assault on American industry on.

Twenty years ago, the environmentalists were going to save the Northern Spotted Owl and with the same certainty that they possess today, they convinced the federal government to effectively wipe out timbering in federally controlled forests in the northwest. Now, we know that the bird thrives on timbered land, while it is struggling in non-managed forests.

The Northern Spotted Owl decisions cost tens of thousands of jobs, a drop in the bucket when compared to the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are likely to be lost should the EPA succeed in implementing their full global warming agenda.

As my father used to tell me, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”


The Cloud Begins With Coal

The computer industry may seem "clean" but it uses vast amounts of electricity -- much of which is provided by burning coal


The information economy is a blue whale economy with its energy uses mostly out of sight. Based on a mid range estimate, the world’s Information Communications Technologies (ICT) ecosystem uses about 1,5 00 TWh of electricity annually, equal to all the electric generation of Japan and Germany combined -- as much electricity as was used for global illumination in 1985. The ICT ecosystem now approaches 10% of world electricity generation . Or in other energy terms – the zettabyte era already uses about 50% more energy than global aviation.

Reduced to personal terms, although charging up a single tablet or smart phone requires a negligible amount of electricity, using either to watch an hour of video weekly consumes annually more electricity in the remote networks than two new refrigerators use in a year. And as the world continues to electrify, migrating towards one refrigerator per household, it also evolves towards several smartphones and equivalent per person.

The growth in ICT energy demand will continue to be moderated by efficiency gains. But the historic rate of improvement in the efficiency of underlying ICT technologies started slowing around 2005, followed almost immediately by a new era of rapid growth in global data traffic, and in particular the emergence of wireless broadband for smartphones and tablets. The inherent nature of the mobile Internet, a key feature of the emergent Cloud architecture, requires far more energy than do wired networks. The remarkable and recent changes in technology mean that current estimates of global ICT energy use, most of which use pre iPhone era data, understate reality. Trends now promise faster, not slower, growth in ICT energy use.

Future growth in electricity to power the global ICT ecosystem is anchored in just two variables, demand (how fast traffic grows), and supply (how fast technology efficiency improves):

* As costs keep plummeting, how fast do another billion people buy smartphones and join wireless broadband networks where they will use 1,000 times more data per person than they do today ; how fast do a nother billion, or more, join the Internet at all; how fast do a trillion machines and devices join the Internet to fuel the information appetite of Big Data ?

* Can engineers invent, and companies deploy, more efficient ICT hardware faster than data traffic grows ?

To estimate the amount of electricity used to fuel everything that produces, stores, transports, processes and displays zettabytes of data, one must account for the energy used by:

* Data centers that have become warehouse scale supercomputers unlike anything in history ;

* Ubiquitous b roadband wired and wireless communications networks;

* The myriad of end use devices from PCs to tablets and smart phones to digital TV, and,

* The manufacturing facilities producing all the ICT hardware.

Hourly Internet traffic will soon exceed the annual traffic of the year 2000. And demand for data and bandwidth and the associated infrastructure are growing rapidly not just to enable new consumer products and video, but also to drive revolutions in everything from health care to cars, and from factories to farms.

Historically, demand for bits has grown faster than the energy efficiency of using them. In order for world wide ICT electric demand to merely double in a decade, unprecedented improvements in efficiency will be needed now.

Electricity fuels the infrastructure of the world’s ICT ecosystem the Internet, Big Data and the Cloud. Coal is the world’s largest single current and future source of electricity. Hence the title of this paper.


Carbon credits market is neither free nor worth anything

By Jo Nova, writing from Australia

THE paradox du jour: people who like free markets don't want a carbon market, and the people who don't trust capitalism want emissions trading. So why are socialists fighting for a carbon market? Because this "market" is a bureaucrat's wet dream.

A free market is the voluntary exchange of goods and services. "Free" means being free to choose to buy or to not buy the product. At the end of a free trade, both parties have something they prefer.

A carbon market is a forced market. There is little intrinsic incentive to buy a certificate for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. It says a lot about the voluntary value of a carbon credit that when given the option to pay $2 to offset their flight emissions, 88 per cent of people choose not to. A few do it as a form of green penance to assuage guilt, and others do it for their eco public relations campaign or branding.

To create demand for emissions permits, the government threatens onerous fines to force people to buy a product they otherwise don't need and most of the time would never even have thought of acquiring. Likewise, supply wouldn't exist without government approved agents. Potentially a company could sell fake credits (cheaper than the real ones) and what buyer could spot the difference? Indeed, in terms of penance or eco-branding, fake credits, as long as they were not audited, would "work" just as well as real ones.

Despite being called a commodity market, there is no commodity: the end result is air that belongs to no one in particular that has slightly less of a trace gas. Sometimes it is not even air with slightly less carbon dioxide, it is merely air that might have had more CO2, but doesn't. It depends on the unknowable intentions of factory owners in distant lands.

How strange, then, that this non-commodity was at one time projected to become the largest tradeable commodity in the world - bigger even than the global market for oil. In 2009, Bart Chilton, chairman of energy markets at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, estimated global carbon markets would be worth $2 trillion within five years.

The UN may claim that carbon is "tracked and traded like any other commodity", but if I buy a tonne of tin, I either get a tonne of tin or I get $20,000 because I onsold it. Fraud is easy to spot.

Unfortunately, fraud has been a big, ongoing problem with emissions trading. This market needs auditors, and the auditors need auditing (the top two auditors in the EU emissions trading scheme were suspended in 2009 for irregularities). The EU has already lost €5 billion to carbon-trading value-added tax fraud. The mafia is laundering money in Italy through renewables schemes, and after one tax loophole was closed, market volume in Belgium dropped by up to 90 per cent.

The carbon market also depends on the honesty of people claiming: "We wouldn't have built that dam without that carbon credit." How would we know? The Xiaoxi dam in China was already under construction two years before the owners applied for credits "to build it".

Since an ETS exists by government fiat and has no intrinsic value without it, it is technically a fiat currency rather than a tradeable commodity. Supply and demand is set by bureaucrats in the EU. If the price is too high, politicians will issue more credits, and if it's too low they will delay them (as the EU is planning to do). Bureaucrats can also give exemptions to trade-affected industries (or their friends, and to their fans in marginal seats).

Those who say that a carbon market is "like" other derivatives markets are wrong. Derivatives markets are sometimes quite disconnected from actual products such as pork bellies or gold bars, but eventually the supply and demand for real goods will determine the price. In some places the size of the derivatives market exceeds that of the commodity market, but that's a reason to question those schemes, not to set up a market in an atmospheric nullity or something as frivolous as an "intention" not to build a dam.

So, who profits from the carbon market? The brokers in a carbon market - almost every large investment bank - make money on every trade. The global carbon market turned over $176bn in 2011. These groups have been lobbying for a market, not a tax, and the reasons are obvious.

Most of the key factors in a carbon market are misnamed. The market is not free. An essential plant fertiliser is called pollution. The aim of the market is not to make clean energy but to change global temperatures by an amount that rounded to the nearest degree, equals zero. The US has no market but has reduced emissions (largely thanks to shale gas), while any reductions in EU emissions were largely due to falling gross domestic product. Yet the government wants to join the EU scheme.

Ironically, the reason for having any carbon scheme at all comes from monopolistic research. There are virtually no grants specifically available for sceptical scientists, but funding galore for unsceptical ones.

We need a free market in science before we even discuss the need for a free market in carbon.

But don't hold your breath - the global warmers prove to be mostly global hypocrites.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


30 July, 2013


Record-setting warm temperatures in the United States during early 2012 were mostly the result of natural weather events and had little connection with global warming, a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado report in a new peer-reviewed paper. “This long-term regional warming is an order-of-magnitude smaller than temperature anomalies observed during the event, indicating that most of the extreme warmth must be explained by other factors. Several lines of evidence strongly implicate natural variations as the primary cause for the extreme event,” the scientists explained.

The Making of An Extreme Event: Putting the Pieces Together

By Randall Dole et al.


We examine how physical factors spanning climate and weather contributed to record warmth over the central and eastern U.S. in March 2012, when daily temperature anomalies at many locations exceeded 20°C. Over this region, approximately 1° C warming in March temperatures has occurred since 1901. This long-term regional warming is an order-of-magnitude smaller than temperature anomalies observed during the event, indicating the most of the extreme warmth must be explained by other factors. Several lines of evidence strongly implicate natural variations as the primary cause for the extreme event. The 2012 temperature anomalies had a close analogue in an exceptionally warm U.S. March occurring over 100 years earlier, providing observational evidence that an extreme event similar to March 2012 could be produced through natural variability alone. Coupled model forecasts and simulations forced by observed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) show that forcing from anomalous SSTs increased the probability of extreme warm temperatures in March 2012 above that anticipated from the long-term warming trend. In addition, forcing associated with a strong Madden-Julian Oscillation further increased the probability for extreme U.S. warmth and provided important additional predictive information on the timing and spatial pattern of temperature anomalies. The results indicate that the superposition of a strong natural variation similar to March 1910 on long-term warming of the magnitude observed would be sufficient to account for the record warm March 2012 U.S. temperatures. We conclude that the extreme warmth over the central and eastern U.S. in March 2012 resulted primarily from natural climate and weather variability, a substantial fraction of which was predictable.

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 2013

Warmists Debunk Arctic Methane Claims

The U.K. Guardian and dozens of additional media outlets are hyping a claim this week that rapidly receding Arctic sea ice will trigger a methane-release catastrophe within just a few years. While the media predictably tries to scare the pants off of people who don’t closely follow the scientific debate, skeptics, mainstream warmists, and even prominent global warming alarmists agree the predictions of a methane catastrophe are over the top and ridiculous.

A new paper in the journal Nature claims summertime Arctic sea ice could disappear within a couple of years, triggering a chain of events that will release catastrophic amounts of frozen and trapped methane into the atmosphere. The warming effects of the methane release, the Nature paper claims, will send the planet over a tipping point for immediate, rapid, and catastrophic global warming.

Judith Curry, who generally agrees with the global warming narrative provided by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noted on her Climate Etc. Web site that the predicted methane apocalypse “rests on two assumptions: (1) the ‘spiral of death’ loss of Arctic sea ice and (2) connection of the sea ice loss to a massive release of methane hydrates into the atmosphere on the time scale of a decade. Each of these assumptions is highly implausible, based upon my understanding; the combination of these two assumptions into a single scenario seems impossible to me.”

Even high-profile global warming extremists are calling B.S. on the methane apocalypse claims. Gavin Schmidt, for example, noted that even under a “worst case” scenario, methane “will probably not be a huge player in climate change in the coming century.”


Green levies on energy bills hit poor hardest, say British MPs

Ministers were last night criticised for funding billions of pounds-worth of green schemes and climate change programmes through levies on household gas and electricity bills rather than recouping the money directly from taxpayers.

A hard-hitting report said the “regressive” tactic was placing a huge burden on vulnerable customers, such as the elderly and low income families, and that raising the money through tax was more equitable, as it would be based on an individual’s ability to pay.

The blast comes just days before British Gas-owner Centrica is expected to warn that it will have to raise bills for millions, because of rising wholesale energy prices and the huge cost of paying for the Government’s renewable revolution.

In its report, the Commons Energy Climate Change Committee said environmental charges account for 9pc of everyone’s gas and electricity bill, regardless of their income.

The Government’s own estimates are that its policies will add 33pc to the average electricity price paid by households in 2020.

The Committee said: “The use of levies on bills to fund social and environmental programmes will add to the burden faced by energy bills payers, particularly in low-income households.

“Public spending is less regressive in this respect. If Government is to continue raising levies in this way, it must ensure that the public understands the different components of an energy bill and how these relate to costs.”

The report claims consumers foot the £700m cost of the EU Emissions Trading System, the £2.2bn cost of the Renewables Obligation as well as the £196m that is spent on feed-in tariffs for small-scale renewables.

Watchdogs believe most households have no idea they are paying for such schemes while energy execs are furious they continue to be blamed for rising bills when ever more Government costs are being passed onto homeowners. One source said: “Labour started it, thinking it was a good idea to recoup the money through bills as it was less obvious, but it’s just carried on since then.”

Scottish Power last week said the cost of implementing green schemes such as a new carbon tax, fitting solid wall insulation and wind farm subsidies had soared by nearly 140pc in the past year. Keith Anderson, Scottish Power’s chief executive, said: “We are seeing a big increase in our costs. What we are seeing coming through is in line with what we predicted, not what the Government predicted.”

Energy minister Ed Davey insists household bills will fall over time, as homes become more energy efficient, through insulation or 'greener’ products such as washing machines. The claim has been largely ridiculed by City analysts and stockbrokers.

The Select Committee insists the Government should do more to tackle fuel poverty, but is also scathing at the lack of transparency on household bills and the efforts of Ofgem, the industry regulator, to force the 'Big Six’ energy suppliers to do more.

The Committee said it was “astonishing” Ofgem had not taken up the recommendations of accountants BDO, which suggested measures such as forcing each of the Big Six to report accounts to the same year end and simplify bills in a bid to improve transparency. It said the failure “lays Ofgem open to criticism that it is unwilling to use the teeth it has.”

Speaking last night, Richard Lloyd, exec director of Which? said: “The reality is that consumers are going to foot the bill for upgrading our energy infrastructure. Whichever way it’s funded - tax or bill levies - the Government must work with industry and regulators to ensure there is proper scrutiny and transparency.”

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change insisted the Government was doing “all we can” to help consumers “keep their bills down”.

He added: “Our policies to support renewable energy and reduce energy waste are insulating consumers from the rising cost of fossil fuels.”


Ethanol industry has EPA as ally in battle against Big Oil

Drama is high these days for ethanol makers, whose fate is on the line in Washington -- fitting for an industry dependent on government.

The oil industry has launched an assault on the ethanol mandate that drives demand for the plant-based fuel. The Senate recently confirmed an industry friend to head the Environmental Protection Agency. And the EPA is finalizing a controversial rule to allow higher blends of ethanol in gasoline.

Ethanol is a fuel made from fermenting and distilling plant matter -- mostly corn in the U.S. From the industry's earliest days, government has subsidized the fuel. The most important benefit for the industry today is the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The 2005 Republican-passed energy bill created the RFS, known as the "ethanol mandate," and the 2007 Democrat-passed energy bill expanded it. Under the law, oil refiners must purchase a set quantity of ethanol every year.

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Thanks largely to cars' improving fuel efficiency, gasoline consumption has fallen steadily over the past few years, so refiners aren't selling enough gasoline to blend with the ethanol. Under the complicated structure of the ethanol mandate, this will drive up costs for refiners, and thus drive up the price of gasoline.

The oil industry has never loved the ethanol mandate, which, among other things, adds to their costs. Many oil companies invested in ethanol -- Koch Industries owns some massive ethanol distilleries, and Valero is a major ethanol player.

But current market conditions have driven the oil lobby to take up arms. The American Petroleum Institute is running radio ads attacking the mandate. The National Council of Chain Restaurants is attacking the mandate, too, arguing that it drives up food prices by shifting cropland to fuel production. Three senators have proposed a bill to end the mandate.

So ethanol is fighting back. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association flew into D.C. this month to defend the mandate. The National Biodiesel Board retained a new lobbyist this month -- former Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof. Poet, the country's largest ethanol producer, hired a new top lobbyist, former House Science Committee staffer Rob Walther.

Ethanol's best asset may not be on K Street, but in the EPA: new Administrator Gina McCarthy. McCarthy, just confirmed by the Senate, is a consistent ethanol industry defender.

Late last year, for instance, governors from both parties and five states petitioned the EPA to waive the ethanol mandate. The governors weren't petitioning on behalf of drivers or Big Oil, but on behalf of ranchers. Feed prices were going sky high thanks to drought, and the ethanol mandate diverts corn from cattle feed to gas stations.

"Severe economic harm is being experienced by the state of North Carolina and many of its agricultural regions, as well as important economic sectors in the state, as a direct result of the implementation of the applicable volume requirements of the RFS," wrote Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue in late 2012, as reported in CQ.

McCarthy, then assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, denied the request.

In the past four years at EPA, McCarthy's most important work was probably approving higher blends of ethanol in gasoline -- a fight in which ethanol is on the free-market side.

Too much ethanol in gasoline can damage car engines. Current law prohibits blends of more than 10 percent ethanol, or E10. McCarthy spent more than four years working out rules to allow blends as high as E15 -- trumping the objections of automakers and oil companies.

This summer, the rule allowing E15 cleared some important hurdles. It could go into effect soon.

Given this record, it's no surprise the ethanol industry applauded McCarthy's nomination back in March.

The American Coalition for Ethanol announced at the time, "We appreciate President Obama nominating Gina McCarthy as administrator of EPA, a step which shows the president's continued commitment to ethanol and other renewable fuels."

"President Obama has made an outstanding choice in his decision to nominate Gina McCarthy to be the next administrator of the EPA," declared Tom Buis, president of Growth Energy, another ethanol lobby. The Renewable Fuels Association and the Advanced Ethanol Council also applauded her nomination.

In Washington, most policy fights are really battles between industries. These days, ethanol is on the defensive, but it still seems to be warding off Big Oil.


Obama says Keystone pipeline won’t create many jobs

President Obama in an interview released Saturday accused Republicans of exaggerating the job gains that would come with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, emboldening critics of the project as his administration weighs whether to give the project the green light.

“Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true,” he said in the interview published by the New York Times. “And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline — which might take a year or two — and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.”

If approved, the pipeline would carry oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries — the State Department is now reviewing the environmental impact of such construction. In a high-profile speech unveiling his plan to combat climate change, Obama last month said he would approve the pipeline only if he was convinced that it would not exacerbate greenhouse gases.

Obama, in this latest interview, stood by that pledge.

“I meant what I said. I’m going to evaluate this based on whether or not this is going to significantly contribute to carbon in our atmosphere. And there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release,” Obama said.

At one point, Obama even suggested that the Keystone pipeline could lead to higher gas prices.

“Oil is going to be piped down to the Gulf to be sold on the world oil markets, so it does not bring down gas prices here in the United States,” he said. “In fact, it might actually cause some gas prices in the Midwest to go up where currently they can’t ship some of that oil to world markets.”

Keystone supporters have accused Obama of dragging his feet on the issue to placate green groups, noting that the original State Department analysis said the construction of the pipeline would not significantly increase carbon emissions.

Regardless of his decision, the president is likely to alienate at least part of his political base. Labor unions have welcomed what they consider a badly needed infusion of new jobs, while environmentalists say the climate ramifications of the project far outweigh minimal economic gains.

For his part, Obama seemed unconvinced by the arguments being made by labor interests.

“Well, look, [unions] might like to see 2,000 jobs initially,” he said. “But that is a blip relative to the need.”

Obama gave no indication of when he expects to give the final verdict on Keystone.


Obama’s rogue EPA makes an end-around Congress

By Bill Wilson

A national carbon tax masked as an “emissions marketplace” is one of the few pieces of anti-free market legislation Barack Obama has failed to pass during his first four-and-a-half years in office. Clearly this defeat has irked Obama, who is now attempting to bypass Congress and use his rogue Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose sweeping new regulations on America’s energy industry.

Rather than taxing utilities into submission legislatively, Obama now plans on regulating them to death administratively. To that end, by 2015 Obama’s EPA will unveil strict new limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired facilities under his so-called “Climate Action Plan.” These “Flexible Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants” will be promulgated as state regulations under the auspices of the Clean Air Act.

“You shall ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that you develop approaches that allow the use of market-based instruments, performance standards and other regulatory flexibilities,” Obama’s plan states.

This level of environmental regulatory overreach is unprecedented.

Under the administration of former president George H.W. Bush, the EPA was granted authority to oversee sulphur dioxide emissions trading. However the creation of this “marketplace” was explicitly authorized via amendments to the Clean Air Act — amendments approved by overwhelming majorities of both the U.S. House and Senate.

Meanwhile prior efforts to force the EPA to arbitrarily impose such government-run “marketplaces” — absent congressional approval — have been struck down as unconstitutional.

Obama will never receive congressional support for his carbon dioxide emissions scheme — and he knows it. In fact several members of his own party are already blasting these anti-competitive measures.

“Overzealous regulations are harmful to our economy,” U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) said in response to Obama’s proposals.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) referred to Obama’s plan as the declaration of a “war on coal.”

Manchin isn’t exactly right. Obama actually declared his “war on coal” five years ago as a candidate for president, when he told a liberal editorial board “if someone wants to build a coal-powered plant they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Unable to convince a Democratic-controlled Congress to go along with this radical scheme, Obama is now trying to impose it arbitrarily — a plan which will raise energy costs on consumers, kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and deprive the American economy of nearly $1.5 trillion worth of income, according to one estimate.

Then there’s the dirty little secret of “pricing coal” when it comes to domestic emissions — namely its utter failure to make a dent in the global atmospheric situation. According to the latest data from the International Energy Agency, America led the world in reducing carbon emissions a year ago — lowering our output by a total of 200 megatons. However carbon emissions soared globally by more than 400 megatons in spite of these efforts — reaching a new all-time high.

Also, it’s worth noting government “green initiatives” did not create America’s declining emissions levels: Good old-fashioned free market economics did that. Attacking coal on the other hand will have unmistakably adverse market affects — most notably increased natural gas prices for consumers.

“The primary reason for the U.S. emissions decline is the result of new technologies from the fossil fuel industry that are leading to cheap coal being displaced by even cheaper natural gas for the generation of electricity,” writes Paul C. Kanppenberger of the Cato Institute.

In other words Obama is circumventing Congress to advance economically crippling new regulations that won’t even accomplish his stated objectives. And even if Obama’s scheme were constitutional — or the fuzzy science of climate change valid — America’s economy cannot afford the incredibly steep price he is asking us to pay.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


29 July, 2013

Global warming is causing lobsters to become cannibals: Yes, too many lobsters is a bad thing (?)

The Warmist right hand does not know what the Warmist left hand is doing... The usual Warmist story is that all that extra CO2 in the air will "acidify" the oceans and that will melt crustacean shells, thus killing off all crustaceans. This story exactly contradicts that prophecy

The waters off the coast of Maine are overflowing with lobsters, which, according to Mother Jones, is actually a bad thing.

Two main factors are causing the lobster population to explode. First, rising sea temperatures brought on by global warming are encouraging the crustaceans to grow quicker and reproduce more often, says Noah Oppenheim, a marine biology graduate student at the University of Maine.

Second, Oppenheim tells Mother Jones, over-fishing has rid the ocean of the lobster's natural enemies, which include cod, herring, and other fish.

The result is a lot of lobsters that have nothing eat — which is why, as footage taken by Oppenheim shows, they have resorted to cannibalism.

Oppenheim tells Mother Jones that young lobsters left under his camera overnight are 90 percent more likely to be eaten by another lobster than by any other sea creature. That's a massive change from the 1990s, when similar experiments found that fish were usually the ones chowing down on lobsters.

This glut of lobsters is bad for just about everyone. As the lobster haul hit an all-time high of 126 million pounds in 2012, prices fell to $2.72 per pound, the lowest since the Great Depression. (Offshore water temperatures in Maine, coincidentally, have hit a century high). That is making it harder for Maine lobstermen to make ends meet.

For any seafood lover hoping this means buckets of cheap lobster, you might want hold off on melting that butter. That's because the low prices lobstermen get for their catch doesn't necessarily translate to low prices for the consumer.

Ideally for the consumer, lobster could be shipped across the country like chicken, meaning you could find lobster as readily in Iowa as on the coast of Maine. But as Slate's Matthew Yglesias explained last year, the fact that we like our lobsters fresh means they have to be transported alive in buckets of water, an expensive process that keeps the market clustered in the Northeast.

Ultimately, higher ocean temperatures could be bad for the creatures themselves. While they are in abundance now, New England saw a similar explosion in population in the 1990s, only to watch it crash. Warmer waters could also be a factor in lobster shell disease, a bacterial infection that can kill the animal.

Right now, lobstermen in Maine can only hope that resurgent predators or cooler waters will return to keep the population in check.

"It's a lot more work for the same money," Lyford Alley complains to Mother Jones. "We're just barely making it."


Public opinion in Europe

The European Commission, Directorate General for Communication, has recently released the results of an opinion survey carried out in all the countries of the EU. Below is one of the resultant graphs. Note that only 4% of Europeans thought that environmental issues were the most important issues for their country. The British were spot on the average of 4% but the Germans were keener, with 10%.

The only country that came close to taking environmental issues seriously was -- of all places -- Malta. Why Malta? I can only guess. Malta is a pretty arid place so maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe they believe the irrational Warmist prophecies that warming will bring more drought.


The Dirty Politics of "Clean" Energy

Gas pump signage declaring “contains up to 10% ethanol” is so ubiquitous, most of us probably don’t even see it anymore—let alone think about why it is there, what it really means, or how it impacts the price of the gallon of gas being pumped. Despite its omnipresence, ethanol is suddenly center stage.

On July 24, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power concluded a two-day hearing: “Overview of the renewable fuel standard (RFS): Stakeholder perspectives.” Just the week before, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an interesting opinion piece that pointed to ethanol as an environmental elixir, whose “abstract idealism” is trumped by “real-world concerns.” Apparently, in the “liberal bastion” known as Cambridge, MA, clean energy is praised as “one of our best solutions for moving beyond dirty fuel,” yet a proposal to expand a nearby ethanol facility that involved shipping ethanol by train through Cambridge has been met with almost universal political opposition—not in my backyard.

The day after the House hearing, ethanol was in the news once again for a totally different reason: “Ethanol spills from derailed train near port of Tampa in Florida.” 35,000 gallons of ethanol were being transported by train from Chicago to the docks of the Port of Tampa. 4,500 gallons were spilled when 11 train cars derailed—closing the port and causing employees in the industrial area to miss work.

So why are we shipping ethanol hither and yon? Why does our gasoline contain 10% ethanol?

In 2005, back when global warming was still believed to be a manmade crisis and before the technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing combined to unleash a new energy boom in the US, the Energy Policy Act was passed—mandating that renewable fuels, such as ethanol and biofuel, be added to transportation fuels in increasing amounts over the next decade: the RFS. It was thought that growing our fuel would give America energy independence and reduce carbon emissions. Neither has turned out to be the case.

As usually happens when government decides to pick winners and losers, problems arise. Both sides of the aisle and both houses of Congress have concerns about the RFS. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee says; “The current system cannot stand.” The National Journal reports that Senate Democrats such as Ben Cardin (MD), Robert Casey (PA), Kay Hagan (NC), Thomas Carper and Christopher Coons (DE), and Chuck Schumer (NY) are worried about the RFS. While they do not support a full repeal of the RFS, they are questioning “their party’s steadfast support for a policy whose goal is to promote renewable-energy fuels over oil.” Senate solutions range from legislation to reform of the RFS to asking the Obama administration for a temporary waiver or modification of the portion of the law that requires increasing amounts of biofuels be blended with gasoline each year.

While ethanol and biofuels can be made from a variety of sources—though some, such as cellulosic ethanol (wood chips, switchgrass, and agricultural waste) and algenol (algae), have yet to be commercially viable, most ethanol in US is made from corn. However, last summer’s drought put pressure on the corn supply—raising questions about the viability of corn-based ethanol and making allies of the fossil fuel and livestock industries and environmentalists.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Bill Roenigk of the National Chicken Council said his producers are confronting higher and more volatile feed prices, the result of diverting corn into gas tanks. He sided with Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute who described the RFS as “completely untethered from reality” and a “grave economic threat” that must be stopped. The high corn prices are making ethanol more expensive and raising the price of gasoline. Scott Faber from the Environmental Working Group said the corn ethanol mandate has increased greenhouse gas emissions and caused other environmental harm.

Ethanol has been made in the US for 32 years, yet 2012 production was 600 million gallons less than the previous year. Regardless of production, the law mandates that ever-increasing amounts of ethanol be blended into gasoline. The difference is being made up by importing Brazilian sugar-based ethanol—roughly 336.7 million gallons were imported in the first 10 months of 2012. In December 2012, the WSJ reported: “U.S. ethanol output will fall by 10% next year to about 12.6 billion gallons.” Seldon B. Graham, Jr., an energy engineer with 59 years of experience and the author of Why Your Gasoline Prices are High, says: “It is ludicrous to replace imported foreign oil with imported foreign ethanol.”

The House hearing addressed a range of topics including the RFS’s potential effect on fuel and food prices, blend-wall and compatibility issues, and impacts on the nation’s agricultural sector and the environment. But, it didn’t cover how much the biofuel mandates are costing the American taxpayer, the number of ethanol companies that have gone bankrupt while receiving taxpayer subsidies, grants or loans, or the potential for crony corruption.

As I’ve repeatedly addressed over the past year while covering Obama’s green-energy crony-corruption scandal with researcher Christine Lakatos, when government mandates something that doesn’t exist, it gives rationale to fund experimental projects (often involving Obama donors and/or insiders) designed to meet the need. The Department of Energy awarded up to $564 million in stimulus funds to 19 integrated biorefinery projects and since 2009 the Biorefinery Assistance Program has given out about $1.2 billion in treasury-backed loan guarantees for 10 biofuel companies.

Range Fuels provides a tidy case history. In March 2007, Range Fuels received a $76 million grant from the DOE and another $80 million from the Obama administration in 2009 to produce cellulosic ethanol. Vinod Kholsa, part of Obama’s election team and a big Democrat donor, was an original investor through his greentech venture capital firm. Despite the approximately $300 million in a combination of private, state, and federal funding, Range Fuels never produced cellulosic ethanol. The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2011.

In her newest post to the Green Corruption Files, Lakatos highlights three biofuel companies that are a part of Obama’s green slime fuel dream (there are others that she’ll cover soon). During an energy speech in Florida, he stated: “We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline and diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance — algae.” Right there in Florida is Algenol Biofuels—which Forbes calls “Obama’s favorite algae company.” In December 2009, Algenol Biofuels received $25 million in federal stimulus grants from the Obama administration and a $10 million grant in 2010 from Lee County’s Economic Development Committee.

Then there’s Sapphire Energy, which received a $50 million grant from the DOE and a loan guarantee for up to $54.5 million through the Biorefinery Assistance Program for their “Green Crude Farm” in Southern New Mexico. Surprise! Executives, board members and employees at Sapphire contributed almost exclusively to Democratic campaigns. Michelle Malkin reports: Sapphire's “website reads like a satellite White House communications office.” Even the Private funds raised for Sapphire have Obama connections: Bob Nelsen, a founding partner of ARCH Ventures—a Sapphire investor, served on Obama’s National Finance Committee during the 2008 campaign, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates is also a Sapphire investor. In 2008, Microsoft donated $852,164 and $814,645 in 2012—making them number four and number two, respectively, on the top Obama donor lists. In 2012, Bill and Melinda Gates personally contributed $71,800 to Democrats.

The really interesting story is Solazyme, as it got both a $21 million DOE stimulus grant in 2009, and then in 2011 was rewarded with a guaranteed government customer for its biofuel that will pay four to seven times the regular fuel price: the US Navy. TJ Glauthier is a “Strategic Advisor” for Solayzyme. Previously Glauthier held key positions in the Clinton administration and the DOE and served on Obama’s 2008 White House Transition Team. He is widely credited with helping to develop the energy provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Solayzyme’s officials, including Glauthier, contributed at least $360,000 to Democrats between 2007 and 2012. Other Solayzyme Obama/Democrat connections include:

* Drew Littman, head of Solayzyme’s Washington lobbying office, who was chief of staff for Senator Al Franken (D-MN).

* Jerry Fiddler, chairman of the board of directors, is a large Democrat donor, who contributed $24,000 to Obama’s Victory Fund.

* Sanjay Wagle, was a Solayzyme investor through VantagePoint. He was an Obama fundraiser for the 2008 campaign and joined the administration, as a “renewable energy grants advisor” at the DOE.

* Jonathan Wolfson, Solayzyme co-founder, sat on the board for the Center for American Progress (CAP) Clean Tech Council. CAP is responsible for crafting and promoting many key Democratic policies and is a major force behind Obama's green-energy agenda.

No wonder Solayzyme got the deal for the “Single largest purchase of biofuel in government history” that Investors.comcalled a “two-for-one bad deal—swindling taxpayers while ravaging national security.”

Maybe ethanol’s part in the green-energy crony-corruption scandal will need its own hearing. There’s a lot more to cover! With Gina McCarthy as the new administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency there’s bound to be more as she’s reported to be “a consistent ethanol-industry defender.”

Ethanol is a dichotomy for the Obama administration, which has mandated higher MPG for vehicles and at the same time mandates the blending of ethanol that actually lowers MPG. Obama’s climate change policy calls for a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, yet, according to the DOE website, ethanol increases them.

The RFS was ostensibly a move to combat the impact of fossil fuels and decrease imported oil, but it became a giveaway to agricultural interests in electorally important states and to those important to the president and the Democratic Party.

While several members of the Energy and Power Subcommittee agree: “There’s probably not enough congressional support for completely repealing the standard,” Upton concluded: “I hope we can start a discussion that considers a host of potential modifications and updates to the RFS, with the end goal being a system that works best for the American people. I am absolutely committed to ensuring we deliver workable reforms.”


The Environmental Lobby's Great Forest Con

Environmental activists constantly pressure government agencies to intervene in the lives of others, whether it is telling them how to run their businesses, where they can build their homes, or what types of food they can and cannot eat, among countless other examples.

Another area activists are increasingly focusing on is forest management, telling tree farmers how they should manage their land. Common sense would tell you that a one-size-fits-all system of land management would not fit the diverse landscapes of the U.S., in terms of climate, elevation, and many other variables.

Unfortunately, common sense is not that common among those with the loudest voices on this issue.

Last year, we wrote about the detrimental effects of a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) monopoly in timber markets, and its negative impact on consumers and entrepreneurs around the world. Since that time, additional research has shown the real financial costs resulting from such a framework.

A study released last month by EconoSTATS at George Mason University concludes that forcing the preferred land management program of environmental activists –the FSC – would lead to over 40,000 job losses in Oregon and Arkansas alone.

Another report released last year by the American Consumer Institute quantified the economic loss in wood products and paper markets if FSC were made a controlling requirement for American forests. The study put these amounts at a staggering $10 billion for wood products and $24 billion for paper products markets. It follows, as night follows day, that such a steep reduction in commerce leads to massive job losses.

Both government policies and non-market pressures from activists seek to promote FSC at the expense of competing programs, such as the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which combined certify tens of millions more acres of land in America than FSC.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) “LEED” rating system, for example, exclusively awards its ‘certified wood’ credits to FSC timber. With the rapid growth of LEED-certified buildings nationwide, a majority of our forest products businesses are getting unnecessarily obstructed or blocked from participating in more and more projects.

FSC’s activist allies constantly brag how they intimidate Fortune 500 companies into revising their supply chains or stopping them from stocking their stores with products certified by other credible programs. This limits the customer base for forestry-based businesses and raises prices for consumers.

Such efforts do not help the environment either.

Since FSC certifies 90% of its property outside the U.S., policies that promote its use increase the chances that lumber will be imported from abroad. FSC enforces dozens of different standards across the globe and holds landowners in other nations to far lower standards than it does for American tree farmers. Relatively lower-quality timber from Russia or Brazil can end up displacing American wood in domestic markets. Even Greenpeace, an FSC supporter, is now calling FSC’s credibility into question because of its varied standards.

As the EconoSTATS study stated, “the FSC program imposes large economic costs and greater global environmental degradation unintentionally creating the worst of both worlds. And, due to the labeling requirements, consumers and businesses have no definitive way of knowing the actual conditions under which their FSC certified forest products were harvested.”

It is ironic that FSC supporters promote the program as the alternative to other credible programs, which supposedly represent “big business.” But it is often smaller landowners who often cannot meet FSC’s steep standards in America. If they are denied from choosing other certification programs or the economic returns from ATFS and SFI certification are diminished (as they are in LEED projects), then these landowners could give up certification altogether or even sell their property to developers.

Thinking beyond step one has never been a priority for environmental extremists. But that is no excuse for the rest of us not to do so.

This type of environmental extremism hurts consumers, businesses, and workers – including family farmers, millworkers, woodworkers, carpenters, and truckers – alike. Denying them options in certification markets or entry into green building projects does nothing for the environment or the economy.

It is time for those who understand these facts to inform others, before they get misinformed by people and groups whose job is to misinform. Too many livelihoods are at stake to ignore the detrimental effects of wrongheaded policies that are dressed up in the rhetoric of idealism.


Fracking brings employment and economic revival

Paul Driessen

Signs of pride and prosperity were evident all over Williamsport and the gorgeous northern Pennsylvania countryside around it. Friendly, happy people greeted us. New cars, trucks, hotels and restaurants sparkled in a clean, bustling downtown. New roofs topped barns and houses, while late model tractors worked the fields. Formerly dirt roads are now paved.

Men and women again have high-paying jobs, young people are coming back instead of moving away, their salaries are supporting other businesses and jobs, and many are taking college programs in oilfield technical and business specialties, Vince Matteo told me. As president and CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce, he’s witnessed the transformation.

“98 percent of the change has been positive,” he says. Contributions to United Way are increasing each year, county infrastructure has improved enormously, and environmental impacts are minimal.

Visits to several Anadarko Petroleum drilling and fracking sites explained why. The operations are far more high-tech than what I had seen previously on rigs in the Rocky Mountains, off the Louisiana and California coasts, and last fall in Alberta’s oil sands region. Hydraulic fracturing was first employed in Kansas in 1947. But steadily improved fracking technology is now combined with computers, down-hole sensors and microseismic instruments. Drilling equipment, lets crews send a bit 6,000 feet down and 8,000 feet laterally into Marcellus Shale formations – and end up within three feet of their intended target!

The operations are conducted from atop a multi-layered felt and impermeable plastic pad, surrounded by a berm, to keep unlikely spills from contaminating farm and forest land. Multiple wells are drilled from a single pad and “kicked out” horizontally in various directions. The drilling rig is skidded a short distance to four or five more locations around the pad, the entire array is fractured at high pressure, and short wellheads are installed to collect natural gas, and send it to local and interstate pipeline networks.

A nearby impoundment is also lined with plastic to hold water for fracturing operations. Topsoil removed to prepare the pad and pond is stored nearby. As operations are finished, the land is reclaimed, topsoil is replaced, and local grasses, flowers and shrubs are planted, to create meadows for deer and wild turkeys – or anything else the landowners prefer. To launch 20-40 years of hydrocarbon production from a 15,000-acre (23-square-mile) area requires barely 2% surface disturbance, most of it for just a few months.

Once the work is completed, the area quietly and unobtrusively produces decades of energy – and revenue for farmers, wildlife organizations, hunting groups, and local, state and federal treasuries.

Hydraulic fracturing takes place some 5,500 feet (almost four Empire State Buildings) below the water table. To prevent groundwater contamination, pipe penetrating the first seven hundred feet is surrounded by layers of steel casing and specialized cement. During the drilling and fracturing process, even rainwater collected from the drill pad is saved and used. Some of the water used to fracture the shale is also recovered during gas production; this “flowback” water itself is filtered, treated and reused.

The hydraulic fracturing process requires some 2.0-4.2 million gallons of water per well, but fresh or brackish water works equally well. A 2013 Ceres study concluded that hydraulic fracturing consumed 75 billion gallons of water per year on average nationwide, in 2011 and 2012. EPA says fracking consumes 70-140 billion gallons a year nationally, and the Texas Water Resources Board estimates that Lone Star State oil and natural gas companies used 27 billion gallons of water for fracking statewide in 2011. However, Texas homeowners used 495 billion gallons for lawns and gardens, the TWRB found (18 times what fracking consumed), and household landscape irrigation nationwide consumes nearly 3 trillion gallons of water annually, according to EPA (21-43 times the EPA and Ceres estimates for hydraulic fracturing).

Even more revealing, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, fracking requires just 0.6 to 5.8 gallons of water per million Btu of energy produced. By comparison, “renewable” and “sustainable” corn-based ethanol requires 2,510 to 29,100 gallons per million Btu of usable energy – and biodiesel from soybeans consumes an astounding and unsustainable 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of water per million Btu!

As to chemical contamination, fracturing fluids are 99.5% water and sand. Moreover, the 0.5% chemicals portion is increasingly basic, nontoxic household or kitchen stuff. Anadarko’s chemicals today are only “slickeners” (to help the sand get further into cracks created by the pressurized water) and “biocides” that prevent bacterial buildup in the well pipes. Which chemicals are used for any single well in the United States can be determined by going to – and every EPA, DOE and other study conducted to date has concluded that fracking has never contaminated a single US well.

Hydraulic fracturing has created 1.7 million new direct and indirect jobs in the United States, with the total likely to rise to 3 million jobs over the next seven years, IHS Global Insight reports. It has injected billions into North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and other state economies. It’s added $62 billion to federal and state treasuries, with that total expected to rise to $111 billion by 2020. By 2035, U.S. oil and natural gas operations could provide over $5 trillion in cumulative capital expenditures into the economy, while generating over $2.5 trillion in cumulative additional government revenues.

In the process, fracking has revived America’s petrochemical, steel and other manufacturing industries, and reinvigorated American ingenuity and economic competitiveness. One shudders to think how awful the US unemployment, part-time employment and economic picture would be in its absence.

This game-changing technology has also transformed US, EU and global political equations and power structures. With the United States, Argentina, Britain, China, Israel and many other countries collectively sitting atop centuries’ worth of now economically producible oil and natural gas, OPEC and Russia can no longer control prices and threaten customer nations. For poor developing countries, natural gas from shale provides fuel to generate abundant, affordable electricity that will transform lives.

Then why do Hollywood and radical greens celebrate misleading films like Gasland and Promised Land – even after Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney’s documentary FrackNation completely demolished Gasland‘s lies and half-truths? Why do outfits like Food and Water Watch and the Sierra Club, and ill-informed activists like Yoko Ono, continue to scream hysterical nonsense about the process?

Follow the money – and the ideology. Big Eco is big business, and big egos. It seeks ever more power and every greater control over our lives. Fracking threatens all of that.

“What you get in your mailbox is a never-ending stream of crisis-related shrill material designed to evoke emotions,” former National Audubon Society COO Dan Beard once admitted, “so that you will sit down and write a check” – or click the “Donate Now” button. This multi-billion-dollar-per-year industry would collapse without the crisis du jour it conjures up, with help from the news media, politicians and regulators.

Deep Ecology adherents view fossil fuels as evil incarnate, and believe fervently in “peak oil” and Climate Armageddon. They are frustrated that fracking guarantees a hydrocarbon renaissance and predominance for decades to come, and helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions without massive economic sacrifice.

They also tend to be well-off, and clueless about the true sources of modern living standards. They have disturbingly callous attitudes about people who have lost their jobs because of Mr. Obama’s war on coal and cheap energy – and about poor rural New York families that are barely hanging onto their farms, unable to tap the Marcellus Shale riches beneath their land, because Governor Cuomo refuses to lift his moratorium on fracking. Many don’t give a spotted owl hoot about the world’s impoverished billions, whose hope for better lives depends on the reliable, affordable electricity that “frack gas” can help bring.

These shameful attitudes hurt people and planet. We need to frack for a better, cleaner, happier world!

Via email

Carbon tax raises costs, cuts jobs, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry audit reveals

THE carbon tax has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from company profits and forced struggling manufacturing firms to shift production - and jobs - offshore.

A national survey of Australia's $110 billion food processing industry has revealed nearly 30 per cent of businesses reported cost increases of 5 per cent or more since the carbon tax was introduced.

And 67 per cent of companies - including many small businesses - have been unable to pass on these higher costs to their customers.

Instead, they have been forced absorb the price hit on their bottom line.

Another audit by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry reveals 82 per cent of businesses report the carbon tax has reduced profits - a year since the greenhouse scheme was introduced.

Around 30 firms were surveyed by AFGC with several deciding to shift production overseas to escape the carbon impost.

While higher energy bills is the biggest expense, the carbon tax has also added to rising packaging, transport and other expenses.

One food processing firm said the carbon tax had added nearly $5 million to operating expenses - including $500,000 in packaging and $240,000 in freight and storage fees.

Murray Goulburn, Australia's largest dairy firm, says the carbon tax has added $14 million to its annual expenses for the year to June 30.

Robert Poole, general manager, shareholder relations, said Murray Goulburn "cannot pass on these costs" because the price of dairy was "primarily" set by the global market.

But higher energy bills remains the biggest cost burden for manufacturing with nearly 50 per cent of those firms surveyed reporting their electricity bill had jumped 15 per cent or more.

One of Kevin Rudd's first decisions after ousting Julia Gillard as Prime Minister was to accelerate by a year plans to shift to a floating carbon price - in order to reduce the impact on business.

But AFGC chief executive Gary Dawson said it was already too late for a number of companies who are "reassessing their production planning in response to high costs".

"For a big energy user the additional cost of the carbon tax on their energy bill alone runs to millions of dollars a year so of course it forces an assessment of whether there are lower cost options (offshore)," Mr Dawson said.

ACCI chief economist Greg Evans lashed out at the carbon tax and other green programs which he said "have encouraged a de-industrialisation trend in the economy".

"We are already seeing an impact on jobs and investment in industries reliant on energy. This includes food processing, plastics and chemicals, metal manufacturing and oil refining, where we have seen successive announcements of winding back investment or relocating production facilities offshore," Mr Evans said.

Innovation and Industry Minister Kim Carr said the Government's decision to move from a fixed to a floating carbon price one year early "will link Australian businesses with international markets, reduce carbon liabilities from 1 July next year and provide certainty for firms looking to invest in Australia's future".

"The food processing sector stands to benefit substantially from the Asian Century and Labor will do everything it can to see business realise the opportunities on offer," Senator Carr said.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


28 July, 2013

EU and China resolve solar trade row

The European Union and China have ended a row over solar panels, dampening fears of a looming trade war

Two of the world’s largest economies reached a deal to resolve the dispute over alleged “dumping” of solar panels in the European market, with a minium price agreed for panels from China.

The settlement was made on terms favourable to the Chinese.

Europe had claimed that China was using huge state subsidies to sell £18bn worth of panels at below cost prices, which is known as “dumping” them in the market, hitting domestic manufacturers.

The agreement between the EU’s trade chief and his Chinese counterpart comes before an August deadline which would have imposed punitive tariffs.

“We found an amicable solution,” EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said. “I am satisfied with the offer of a price undertaking submitted by China’s solar panel exporters,”

Shen Danyang, a Chinese commerce ministry spokesman called the deal a “positive and highly constructive outcome”.

However, some European manufacturers said the minimum price still constitutes dumping.

The agreement will allow Chinese businesses to export up to seven gigawatts per year of solar products without paying duties, provided that the price is no less than 56 cents per watt.

European solar panel manufacturers had been pushing for a minimum price of 80 cents or more.

EU ProSun, a trade association for EU manufacturers, said it will go to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to challenge the deal.

The solar row was the largest of a series of trade conflicts between the EU and China.

Chinese officials are reviewing the production and import costs levied by some of the world’s largest drug companies and the prices set by international producers of infant milk formula.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to challenge abuses of market power.

Apple and fast food giant Yum! Brands Inc. are among foreign companies that have been forced to apologise this year to consumers in China after authorities began investigating their operations.

Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline is currently under investigation in China over allegations of fraud.

The EU, meanwhile, is still threatening to launch an investigation into Chinese-made telecommunications network equipment.


China threatened to embargo French wine. NOBODY crosses French wine-growers so the EU had to cave

Green cops coming

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Buys 72,000 Rounds of Ammo

Not satisfied with last year’s purchase of 46,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently solicited bids for an additional 72,000 rounds.

A solicitation by the scientific agency posted on July 8 on the Federal Business Opportunities web site requested “56,000 rounds of .40 caliber 180 grain jacketed hollow points” and “16,000 rounds of .40 caliber frangible lead free rounds.”

The NOAA appears to have had an immediate need for the rounds as their requested response date was only four days later on July 12.

Jacketed hollow points (JHPs) are not practice rounds.

They are designed to expand (or “mushroom”) on impact and are more expensive than ball ammo used for practice.

As reported last August by Paul Joseph Watson, the National Weather Service, which operates under the NOAA, supposedly purchased 46,000 JHPs and 500 paper targets for various weather stations.

The Washington Times later reported, via a statement from NOAA spokesperson Scott Smullen, that last year’s ammunition request contained a “clerical error” and that the “solicitation for ammunition and targets for the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement mistakenly identified NOAA’s National Weather Service as the requesting office.”

As Watson pointed out, this explanation still doesn’t explain why JHPs are needed for paper targets when they are obviously not practice rounds.

“You should always practice with what you’re going to use in real life,” Steven Howard, a former federal agent said in support of training with JHPs, in an interview with TribLive.

Yet with “defense load” JHPs costing at least one dollar a round for common service calibers, it is hard to imagine concealed handgun license holders and local police departments constantly spending that much money to stay proficient in shooting.

Even if costs are not an issue, local police departments may still have trouble procuring enough ammo for training due to the ammo shortage encouraged by our federal government, as Steve Watson reported back in May.

But in further response to Howard’s comment, bullet designs are not that significant in training as long as shooters use ball ammunition that is just as powerful as their defense load JHP, generating the same recoil and shooter reaction.

An expanding bullet means little to a paper target.

In regards to the quantity of ammo requested by the NOAA, why does the Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement (FOLE) even need 56,000 JHPs, especially if the agency supposedly received 46,000 rounds last year?

Assuming that this latest solicitation is going directly to the FOLE for the agency’s own use and not somehow funneled into the Department of Homeland Security.

The FOLE is tasked primarily with enforcing fishing regulations, supporting scientific studies and protecting endangered marine species.

According to Smullen in a Fox News interview, the ammunition purchased is “standard issue” and will be used by 63 agents during training and qualifications.

That is the key point.

Sixty-three federal agents are armed with .40 caliber sidearms in order to enforce fishing regulations, “protecting the ecosystem” and “promoting marine conservation.”

As more regulations are added every year and more agents are hired for enforcement, more ammo will be purchased compared to the previous years.

This is true with the entire federal government as the cancer of tyranny grows and the roots of liberty decay.

As surreal as it sounds, the NOAA’s massive purchase of over 100,000 rounds of JHPs in the past two years follows the trend of other federal non-military agencies which combined have purchased conservatively 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition in little over a year.

In an interview with Breitbart, Jeff Knox, director of The Firearms Collective said that it’s the number of feds with guns that’s important, not necessarily the number of rounds.

“There are currently more than 70 different federal law enforcement agencies employing over 120,000 officers with arrests and firearms authority,” Knox said. “That’s an increase of nearly 30 percent between 2004 and 2008.”

“If the trends have continued upward at a relatively steady rate, that would put the total number of federal law enforcement officers at somewhere between 135,000 and 145,000.”

Knox said that’s a staggering number considering there’s only an estimated 765,000 state and local law enforcement officers.

“That means that about one in seven law enforcement officers in the country works directly for the federal government,” he said. “Not a local jurisdiction.”

The Second Amendment may simply suffocate under the weight of big government as ammunition manufacturers struggle to equip additional federal agents, leaving the ammo cans of the American people empty.


Drowning in Sea Level Nonsense

By Alan Caruba

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D) and forty members of Congress believe the sea levels are rising, that a panel should be created to determine what should be done, and, of course, to throw billions of dollars at a problem that does not exist. Politicians were eager to scare the public with the discredited global warming hoax and now they have found a new one.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a $20 billion flood barrier system to protect the city from future hurricanes and rising sea levels. Well, hurricanes like tropical storm Sandy are real, but rare. Rising sea levels, however, represent no threat at all.

William Happer who researched ocean physics for the U.S. Air Force and is currently a physics professor at Princeton University notes that “The sea level has been rising since 1800, at the end of the ‘little ice age’”, a cooling cycle last from around 1300 to 1850. Far from heating up, the Earth entered a new cooling cycle around 1996 or so.

Harrison Schmitt, a former Apollo 17 astronaut, U.S. Senator, and a geologist, says “Predicting a sea level rise of seven feet over the next few thousand years would seem too risky a prediction on which to spend tax dollars” and that is surely an understatement. Wasting billons on “climate change”, however, is the new siren call of the Obama administration, but the National Research Council is warning, as Fox News reported, “that those kinds of subsidies are virtually useless at quelling greenhouse gases.”

In fact, as the amount of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas—alleged to “trap” heat—has risen and has had zero effect on the cooling cycle.

A recent article in the British newspaper, The Register, reported on a study by scientists in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, that was published in “Nature Geoscience” that concluded there was no “scientific consensus” to suggest the rate of the seas’ rise will accelerate dangerously.

The notion of the seas rising, swamping coastal cities, and creating havoc is the stuff of science fiction, not science. This is why spending millions or billions on the assertions of some who have a real stake in keeping the public frightened is a very bad idea.

At the center of the global warming scare campaign is the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its most recent report said that “no long-term acceleration of sea level has been identified using 20th-century data alone” but that does not discourage the IPCC from forecasting an increase due to global warming. This organization should be disbanded and, if I were in charge, many of its leaders would be in jail right now for fraud.

Who can you believe? One such person is Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, the former chair of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden. He is the past president (1999-2003) of the International Union for Quaternary Research Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution. He has been studying sea level and its effects on coastal areas for more than 35 years. I cited his credentials because others making predictions lack the same level of authority.

Dr. Morner acknowledges that “sea level was indeed rising from, let us say, 1850 to 1930-40. And that rise had a rate in the order of 1 millimeter per year. (Emphasis added). Get out your pocket ruler and look at what one millimeter represents. It is small. It is very small. Not surprisingly Dr. Morner is very critical of the IPCC and its headline-grabbing doomsday predictions. He scorns the IPCC’s claim to “know” that facts about sea level rise, noting that real scientists “are searching for the answer” by continuing to collect data “because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it!”

A recent paper reviewed by CO2 Science finds that sea levels have risen from 2002-2011 at a rate of only 1.7 millimeters per year over the past 110 years, the equivalent of 6.7 inches per century. This is close to Dr. Morner’s assertion that, at most, there has been a rate of increase that tops out at 1.1 millimeter per year. The review concluded that there is no evidence of any human influence on sea levels.

Even so, in early July a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Josh Willis, told Fox News, that “There is no question that the time to prepare for sea level rise is now…We will definitely see seven feet of sea level rise—the only question is when.” And who funds NASA?

Between the scientists trying to gin up more government money for their agencies and departments and the politicians trying to find a new reason to spend more money, the public is left wondering if the oceans are rising and whether that represents something worth worrying about. The answer is (a) yes, sea levels are rising in infinitesimal amounts and (b) no, we need to stop spending money based on such claims.

It’s not the sea level rise you should worry about. It is the rising levels of national debt and the deficit.


Free markets for sustainability!

by Tim Worstall

I expect we're all wearily familiar with the population prodnose. Those who comment (most often seen at Comment is Free but they do spread themselves around a bit), endlessly, along the lines that "this is the problem that cannot be mentioned, the rising population". And who then go on to suggest the compulsory sterilisation of anyone a little browner than they think people ought to be. With rather fewer fascistic overtones we get similar stuff from people like Johnny Porritt and the Optimum Population Trust. There's just too many people, too many of them are peasants who won't do what Baronets tell them to and it's all just appalling.

Very strangely indeed it's largely these same people who insist that there must be a plan to deal with this population thing. Despite the fact that population is one thing that free markets deal with very well indeed thank you very much. As Ron Bailey over at Reason points out:

The crucial point is that increasing economic liberty correlates with increasing life expectancies, and thus falling fertility rates. As data from the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index shows, average life expectancy for free countries is over 80 years, whereas it’s just about 63 years in repressed countries.

The causal chain is as follows: economic freedom increases wealth: increased wealth leads to longer lifespans. Longer life spans for women reduce fertility rates (I know, you might think it works the other way: but it doesn't). Therefore economic freedom reduces population growth.

And there we have it: we don't need grand plans to sterilise everyone a racist wouldn't like to bring home to mother for tea. We don't need to pressure the peasantry into doing what an Old Etonian thinks they ought to. We just have to leave people to get on with it themselves. People generally like economic freedom, they certainly like increased wealth and longer lifepsans and the end result of all three is that population growth falls, falls to below replacement rate and thus the gross population falls over time.

No plans, no pressure, no coercion, just free markets and the rule of law saving the planet. Great, eh? Now if only we could get the population prodnoses to understand this....


Global Warming Alarmists Seek to Restrict Air Conditioning

Goodbye, incandescent light bulbs that provide bright white light rather than the nauseating yellow of compact fluorescents. Goodbye, affordable coal-powered electricity under EPA’s current and upcoming carbon dioxide restrictions. Goodbye, muscle cars and SUVs under EPA’s soon-to-be tightened fuel economy restrictions. Is air conditioning next to go? Frighteningly, global warming alarmists are increasingly setting their sights on the air conditioners that make life in the summer time so much more pleasant.

Time magazine this week gave a prominent platform to the voices of climate intolerance, publishing an article by New York University sociology professor Eric Klinenberg saying it is “indefensible” for people to use air conditioning the way we do. Klinenberg argues that air conditioning requires too much electricity, the generation of which accelerates global warming.

“What’s indefensible is our habit of converting homes, offices and massive commercial outlets into igloos on summer days, regardless of how hot it is outdoors,” wrote Klinenberg.

Klinenberg also argued for laws requiring businesses to keep summer temperatures at their facilities above a government-dictated mandatory minimum.

Welcome to the Next Great Idea championed by global warming alarmists.


Dems’ recess game plan: Push climate message

The White House, congressional Democrats and their allies are plotting an August recess offensive to promote President Barack Obama’s climate change plan and head off Republican opposition.

The full-court press shows that liberals have learned from past August congressional recesses, when Republicans, aided by the tea party, out organized Democrats and managed to demonize cap and trade and blame them for high gas prices.

“The Democrats should seize the opportunity to contrast themselves with the nihilistic House Republicans by advocating solutions to these challenges — including climate change,” said Daniel Weiss, senior fellow and director of climate strategy for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The strategy is two-fold. First, liberals hope to better articulate the threats posed by climate change to the average citizen, including sea level rise, drought and wildfires. Second, they plan to call out Republicans in Congress who are skeptical about climate change science.

The president’s climate change plan includes a range of measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions, including new Environmental Protection Agency regulations for power plants.

Organizing for Action, the successor to Obama’s campaign arm, is planning a “national action” day Aug. 13, which will focus on climate change.

Ivan Frishberg, climate change campaign manager at OFA, said the group is organizing events in the states and districts of the 135 lawmakers it has labeled “climate deniers” as part of the action day. The events are aimed at “holding them accountable” for questioning climate science, he said.

“With these folks, it’s hard to get to a conversation about solutions when they deny the science,” Frishberg said.

OFA’s strategy is designed to show lawmakers who oppose measures to tackle climate change that there is support for the president’s plan.

“This is a chance for people at the grass-roots and the local level to say, ‘Yes, that’s what we want,’” Frishberg said.

The Obama administration has launched its own campaign to sell the climate plan, with the president dispatching key members of his administration — including newly confirmed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz — to take part in “an aggressive outreach effort,” a White House official said in an email.

“[I]n the coming weeks and months you will continue to see the President, senior officials, and members of the Energy Cabinet, highlight the importance of this plan for our public health and our ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters such as floods, wildfires and hurricanes,” according to the official.

Starting next week, McCarthy will begin traveling around the country to discuss the importance of acting on climate change. The White House official said her schedule includes speeches, media events and meetings with outside groups — all of which will be promoted heavily on social media. And the official added that McCarthy will begin meeting with states soon to discuss the agency’s pending climate regulations.

Meanwhile, White House energy adviser Heather Zichal has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill this month, briefing Senate and House Democrats on the details of the plan and strategizing about how best to sell the president’s climate agenda.

Democrats who attended the closed-door meetings say Obama and his allies will focus on building support for the climate plan at the local level by explaining how communities will be affected by climate change.

“The public education [and] public information piece is critical,” Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), co-chairman of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, said last week after meeting with Zichal. “Not only does the public have the right to know, but it’s essential that they do know because inaction here can allow very bad things to happen.”

And Democrats in both chambers are organizing climate change events around the country during the recess.

A Democratic leadership aide said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are working with OFA and outside groups to promote the president’s agenda broadly, while Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer told POLITICO she is organizing a “climate trip” around California during the recess.

“I’m going to some of the communities that are experiencing wildfires due to climate,” Boxer said.

An official at one major environmental group said the green community will work overtime during the recess to tout the president’s plan. But the official declined to offer details because they are still being finalized. A coalition of environmental and local groups called the Climate Action Campaign has already launched a summer bus tour aimed at building support for the president’s plan that will snake through Nebraska, Ohio, Missouri and other states.

Other Democrats are already pointing to the devastating wildfires that have ravaged much of the Western United States as a symptom of a warming planet.

“The West is being devastated by wildfires,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters last week. “Millions of acres are burning — millions of acres have burned. … Why? Because the climate has changed.”

But Republicans are working on an August recess strategy of their own. Their plan focuses more on energy and largely avoids a discussion of climate change, though individual lawmakers are certain to go after the president’s plan on their own.

The House Republican Conference has distributed a 31-page August recess messaging guide to GOP lawmakers called “Fighting Washington for All Americans.” The document makes no explicit mention of climate change, but it encourages Republicans to hold events with constituents focused on “energy independence” and “reining in red tape.”

For example, it recommends that lawmakers set up a tour of an energy production facility.

“As Congress continues to debate an all-American energy plan, this event will feature the district’s own natural resources and highlight the innovation taking place at home,” the document says. “The Member will visit a local energy production facility, learn about the technology being utilized, and use the experience to promote a discussion on the jobs — and energy independence — that will be created by producing more domestic energy and promoting an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy solution.”

A Senate aide said Republicans in the upper chamber will most likely focus on energy and the Keystone XL oil pipeline during the recess.

While Republicans in Congress aren’t likely to specifically home in on climate change, some outside groups are preparing to take direct aim at the president’s plan.

The American Energy Alliance, for example, will criticize the president’s plan on Facebook and Twitter. And the group is considering organizing a digital or tele-town hall with its supporters that will outline what the group says are the negative consequences of the plan.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


27 July, 2013

Greenie demonstration aqainst fracking in England

It started as a peaceful, middle-class protest against fracking, with music and even a cricket match. But it ended in 15 arrests yesterday as “professional activists” clashed with 90 police officers.

The protest against plans by the fracking company Cuadrilla to explore for oil and gas at a site just outside the sleepy village of Balcombe, East Sussex, began on Thursday.

Local people, including mothers and children, set up gazebos and bunting by the roadside. Tea and cakes were handed out and there was even a singalong.

Activists included Natalie Hynde, the daughter of Chrissie Hynde and Ray Davies of The Kinks. But the mood turned at midday yesterday as a hard core of activists refused to move from the entrance to the drilling site, despite repeated requests from the police.

Around a dozen linked arms on a log rolled across the private access. Officers, who had parked more than 10 cars nearby, appeared in ranks. Mothers and children among the other protesters quickly left, many visibly upset.

In all, 15 people were arrested by the end of the day, many shouting and claiming they were being physically hurt.

Sussex Police said that five were held for causing danger to road users, and nine for attempting to stop workers from accessing the site. There was a further arrest later. None was believed to be from Balcombe. Rafe Usher-Harris, 17, a villager and student at Michael Hall, a private school in nearby Forest Row, said that villagers were shocked. “It is disgusting,” he said. “People from the village do not want this.”

Helen Savage, a 38-year-old mother, said that villagers were not willing to be arrested but would not give up.

“We are completely committed to protesting through every legal channel we can,” she said. “This goes beyond Balcombe, it is not a Nimby campaign. It is against government policy, which is to frack nationwide. Once people realise what this means they will be extremely concerned. It means a fracking rig every two miles. It will industrialise the landscape.”

Within an hour trucks started arriving on the site, although verbal protests continued from behind police lines.

Cuadrilla said that rigs were being brought in only to drill exploratory wells. All safety regulations would be met and fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in which water is blasted into rocks deep underground to force out gas or oil, would only happen later if viable and approved, the company said. A spokesman blamed a “small minority” for causing a dangerous situation where arrests had to be made.

“To date, the vast majority of the protesters have been peaceful and good natured,” the spokesman said.

Francis Maude, the local Tory MP, said that Cuadrilla should be allowed to conduct exploratory drilling but that more discussions were needed before any extraction. Fracking has been blamed for earthquakes and contaminated water, but a government study has said that any tremors are minor and that the risks of contamination are insignificant.

A spokesman for Frack Off, an umbrella group, said that activists from other sites around the country planned to come to Balcombe. Tabitha Smith, 28, from Brighton, said: “This is a battle I think will be repeated across the country.”


Claim that Arctic methane gases are set to cause flooding, droughts and cost 'trillions of dollars' of damage

This is an old chestnut. It is the product of computer games (modelling) only. Russian scientists have repeatedly said it will not happen

The world is facing an 'economic time bomb' because of methane gases being produced by shrinking sea levels in the Arctic, researchers claim.

There is a large amount of methane stored in the region around the East Siberian Sea and if it was suddenly released into the atmosphere it could change the Earth's climate causing extreme weather, flooding and drought.

By using economic modelling, scientists from Cambridge and Rotterdam discovered that if the Arctic ice levels continue to shrink at their current rate it could produce enough methane to cause global climate change damage of £40 trillion - the same size of the world economy in 2012.

The groundbreaking claims were made by Gail Whiteman from Erasmus University, Chris Hope, Reader in Policy Modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, and Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean physics at the University of Cambridge.

They calculated - using an economic computer program called PAGE09 - that the thaw would release 50 gigatonnes of methane into the air.

If other factors, such as ocean acidification are included, the cost would be much higher.

Around 80 per cent of these costs caused by the damage will directly affect developing countries as they experience more extreme weather, flooding, droughts and poorer health as Arctic warming affects climate.

It is said to be the first time researchers have calculated the potential economic impact of methane from the East Siberian Sea being released into the air as a result of the thaw.

'The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb,' said Whiteman.

Wadhams added: 'The imminent disappearance of the summer sea ice in the Arctic will have enormous implications for both the acceleration of climate change, and the release of methane from off-shore waters which are now able to warm up in the summer.

'This massive methane boost will have major implications for global economies and societies.'


The North Pole turns into a lake: Webcam captures melting ice following a spell of warm weather

Arctic melting is nothing new. USS Skate (SSN-578), surfaced at the North Pole, 17 March 1959.

The North Pole may conjure up images of impressive ice sheets and freezing winds, but scenes from a webcam there reveal a different story.

Two weeks of warm weather in the high Arctic have caused an aquamarine lake to begin forming since July 13, according to the North Pole Environmental Observatory’s camera.

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre has reported that temperatures in early July were one to three degrees Celsius higher than the year’s average over most of the Arctic Ocean.

Two weeks of warm weather in the high Arctic earlier have caused an aquamarine lake to begin forming at the North Pole

July is known as the melting month for the Arctic with the period seeing ice shrink at its fastest rate.

The ice is expected to be further fractured by an Arctic cyclone, which is currently developing over the area. According to CBC, the weather system will strengthen winds to anywhere from 75-100 km/h.

Last August, a similar system developed in the area which destroyed 800,000 square km of ice.

However, the Arctic hit record low ice melt last year on September 16, 2012, the smallest recorded since satellites began tracking the Arctic ice in the 1970s.

But experts are divided over what the recent data will mean for the future sea-levels.

‘I have seen much more extensive ponding,’ James Morison, the principal investigator for the North Pole Environmental Observatory told The Atlantic. ‘Because we use wide angle lenses the melt pond looks much bigger than it is.’

Morison also pointed out that a camera 100 meters away showed the ice looking relatively intact. He added that the scale of these images is also quite small.

Last week a team of researchers led by Dr Bert Wouters at the University of Bristol claimed that long-term data on the melting of Earth’s polar is too weak to suggest alarming decrease is permanent or caused by humans.

The group compared nine years of satellite measurements of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica in an attempt to determine if the melt-off is part of an accelerating trend in ice loss and sea-level rise.

While the study showed a loss of about 300 billion tonnes of ice per year from the Arctic and Antarctic regions, it noted that natural processes cannot be ruled out as the force behind the receding ice sheets.


British Government energy bungling

SSE, one of Britain's 'big six' energy firms, has warned that the government's energy plans fail to address the risk of power shortages in the near term.

Westminster has announced a draft package of incentives for energy companies to keep plants which might otherwise be shuttered on standby, in a bid to address an acute capacity shortage expected as ageing power stations retire.

However, it will not make them available until 2018/19 - a move SSE said would create further uncertainty in the energy market and "not address the risk of imminent shortages".

The Scotland-based group said the five-year wait for the government's financial incentive package will hold up new investment decisions and delay the construction of new plants.

"[Reforms] will not, therefore, enable investment decisions for new plant to be made," said SSE in its interim management statement.

In the near-term, it could impact decisions over whether old fossil fuel plants, which have become less profitable, should continue to operate.

SSE's warning comes just a day after the coalition came under fire for inadvertently rewarding energy firms for mothballing their existing plants. Under the plan announced this month, the operators of mothballed plants would be offered generous subsidies to fire them up when energy demand is high.

Last month, energy regulator Ofgem warned the risk of UK blackouts has tripled since a year ago, as Britain has failed to build enough new wind farms and nuclear power stations to replace old fossil fuel plants. The problem has been exacerbated by fewer households insulating their lofts and switching to green appliances than hoped, creating higher-than-expected demand for energy in future.

SSE also criticised the government's plans for incentivising longer-term low carbon investment as lacking detail. Westminster has pledged to set a constant price per unit of electricity to level out fluctuations in prices and guarantee generators a constant income from green energy.

"The level of detail underpinning the planned Contracts is not yet enough to allow SSE to determine whether the balance between risk and reward for investing in low carbon electricity generation in the future will be the right one," said the company in a statement.

"In line with its long-standing financial principles, SSE will maintain its rigorous approach to investment decision-making and so will only make decisions to invest on the basis of a clear and appropriate risk and reward balance."


President’s Men Preach Climate Change As Responsibility of All Mankind

The Obama administration is working climate change into speeches given not only by President Obama, but also by the people who serve him.

In Mumbai, India on Wednesday, Vice President Biden warned that rising sea levels will overcome India as well as Biden’s home state of Delaware, if both countries don’t deal with the “worldwide” problem.

And speaking at a Ramadan Iftar dinner in Washington on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of climate change in a religious context.

“For many of us, respect for God’s creation, in almost every scripture really, demands and translates into a duty to protect and sustain God’s first creation. Our response to climate change ought to be rooted in a fundamental sense of shared stewardship of the earth that emerges from that tradition,” Kerry told the Muslims and others gather at the Ramadan event.

Biden told his Indian audience, “I come from a part of America that -- where we're only about seven feet above sea level. Sea levels are rising. They are rising. It will affect tens of millions of people in India.

“At home, America is working to lower carbon pollution that causes climate change. In fact, we have brought it down to its lowest level in two decades. We have much more to do, and we plan to do more.”

Biden said India, a developing nation that was exempt from the goals set by the Kyoto treaty, also needs to act.

“Of course, India's first priority is and must be lifting its citizens out of poverty. But unless we can develop a sustainable path on a low-carbon path, the consequences of climate change will seriously undermine the development and growth, as well as harm the very health of the people of India.

“You've all observed what's happening in China now,” Biden continued. Allegedly a million people a year dying as a consequence of atmospheric pollution. Reality ultimately intrudes. And the reality is, we have a worldwide problem.”

Obama said India should act, not as a “favor” to other nations, but for its own sake:

“It matters to India -- to the productivity of your farmlands, the availability of water, the risks you face from floods and rising seas. India is already taking steps. But like us, India can do more. And we are anxious and willing to work with you.”


September Release Planned for Climate Change Reconsidered II

The Heartland Institute and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) have been hard at work for the past three years on a new edition of Climate Change Reconsidered. The new report, to be titled Climate Change Reconsidered II: The 2013 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), will be released in two volumes, the first on the Physical Science to be released in September, to coincide with the release of the IPCC’s 5th assessment report, and second on Impacts in March or April 2014.

The research effort is led by Craig Idso, Ph.D., chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change; Robert Carter, Ph.D., Former Head of the School of Earth Sciences, James Cook University (Australia), and S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project and professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. An international team of lead authors, section authors, contributors, and reviewers is participating in the effort.

The first two volumes published in the Climate Change Reconsidered series, in 2009 and 2011, were widely recognized as the most comprehensive and authoritative critiques of the alarmist reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Reviews and the complete texts of both volumes are available here and here. In June, a division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences published a Chinese translation and condensed edition of the two volumes.

During the next several weeks we will be completing peer review, proofing the final copy, writing the executive summary, and preparing for the September release of Volume 1.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


26 July, 2013

Obama Admin Colludes with Sierra Club to Make Arizona Energy Prices Skyrocket, Against DoE’s Own Science

During his big economics speech, President Barack Obama declared that America is open for business. Laying aside the fact that the president stole that line from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, even as he made the statement he was surely aware that it is not true. The Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama continues to scuttle through political procrastination, springs to mind. ObamaCare’s devastating impact on unemployment wins the argument.

The fact is, the Obama administration is colluding with environmental lobby Sierra Club on a closed-door deal that will drive energy prices in Arizona skyward for the sake, supposedly, of improving visibility at the Grand Canyon. The proposed new EPA rule on the Navajo Generating Station would double or triple water rates, cause electric rates to skyrocket and partially shut down a vital energy plant – despite a federal study that says the rule won’t do anything to help the environment. Jim Thompson, writing in Coal & Energy Price Report, says the EPA-Sierra secret deal is “imminent.” Thompson also names names:

Discussions of this “deal” have been taking place behind closed doors with the federal government, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, and select tribes since March – without allowing all Arizonans to participate.

The Department of Energy conducted a study that shows that the stunt that the EPA and activists are pulling in Arizona won’t do what they claim that they intend for it to do. So what’s really going on: They’re enacting Obama’s war on coal behind closed doors. Arizonans get to foot the bill through sharply higher rates on their utilities, without being heard on the EPA’s new rule. Obama’s EPA and the lobbying groups have shut citizens out of their talks, despite the fact that the Clean Air Act mandates open processes and dialogue when the EPA considers new rules.

The DoE study is here, and the relevant part begins on page 5. The DoE found that the “body of research to date…is inconclusive as to whether removing approximately two-thirds of the current NOx emissions from Navajo GS would lead to any perceptible improvement in visibility at the Grand Canyon and other areas of concern.”


CIA wants to control the weather, climate change

The CIA is funding a study examining various ways mankind can geo-engineer the planet -- blocking or limiting the sunlight that reaches the Earth, stripping carbon dioxide from the skies, seeding the clouds and so on.

The project, a panel called “Geoengineering Climate: Technical Evaluation and Discussion of Impacts,” is backed by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA -- and the U.S. intelligence community.

That’s spy-talk for the CIA, William Kearney, a spokesman for NAS, told Mother Jones.

So why would the trenchcoat troops meet with the eggheads?

"It's natural that on a subject like climate change the Agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security," Edward Price, a spokesman for the CIA, told Mother Jones. He refused to confirm the agency's role in the study.

Conspiracy theorists love to argue that various world governments seek to control the weather; they cite “chemtrails” and cloud seeding and so on. The topic has even pervaded popular culture, from “The Simpsons” to “The X-Files.”

The group’s first two meetings, May 20 and June 19, were closed-door in their entirety, save for a list of participants.

On July 17 in Washington D.C., closed-door morning and evening meetings book-ended a public session, however, offering a peek into the group’s plans -- and it’s nothing worthy of Fox Mulder’s time, explained Edward Dunlea, study director with the National Academies.

“Nothing involved in this study is classified at all,” Dunlea told “We’re doing an evaluation. This is an assessment of what is known in the science literature about some of the proposed engineering techniques -- both solar-radiation management and carbon-dioxide removal.”

Dunlea declined to cite the CIA by name.

“All of our sponsors are interested in this topic as a part of the larger climate-change discussion, which has economic, environmental and national-security ramifications,” he said.

A 2008 study by the National Intelligence Council concluded that climate change posted a serious threat to national security.

“Climate change and climate-change policies could affect … domestic stability in a number of key states, the opening of new sea lanes and access to raw materials, and the global economy more broadly -- with significant geopolitical consequences,” it said.


Australia: Skeptical professor's dismissal could face scrutiny

MACQUARIE University's sacking of Murry Salby, a scientist whose work casts doubt on the orthodox climate change thesis, may face scrutiny by the International Council for Science.

Distinguished physicist Marie-Lise Chanin, who is a French representative on the Paris-based council suggested the Salby case was a matter for the council's committee on "freedom and responsibility in the conduct of science".

"I am scandalised by what happened to Murry Salby," said Dr Chanin, a founding member of the Academy of Europe and an expert on the role of the stratosphere in climate.

Cases before that committee have included government threats to scientific freedom, detention of scientists and assassination attempts against physicists.

Macquarie, which recruited Dr Salby from the US in 2008 to fill its chair of climate science, this year refused him permission to travel to Europe to present research findings which he said countered "reckless claims" about the role of mankind in greenhouse gases.

"Modern changes of atmospheric CO2 and methane are -- contrary to popular belief -- not unprecedented," Dr Salby says in an email to supporters detailing his falling out with Macquarie.

He has been a critic of the government's Climate Commission, which includes two Macquarie academics among its members.

Asked about the case, Dr Salby said he could not say much because it was "headed to court".

The university said his sacking had nothing to do with scientific freedom. A Macquarie spokesman said Dr Salby was dismissed for "failure to fulfill his teaching obligations, repeatedly and consistently over several months" and for going to Europe anyway "despite repeated written instruction not to travel".

Contrary to policy, he used a Macquarie credit card to buy a ticket through an external travel agency, the spokesman said.

Dr Salby was refused permission because the trip clashed with his teaching duties, not because of the nature of the research findings he wanted to present, the spokesman said.

Dr Salby said the teaching was imposed "without discussion, in breach of my contract, and reduced my role to . . . menial support". Macquarie disputed this, saying that although Dr Salby was employed under a program to bring in research stars, standard conditions required "a commitment" to teaching.


Why Is Obama Lying on Climate Change?

The fact that President Obama has been spreading lies about climate change to support his actions directing the Environmental Protection Agency to impose costly new restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions was exposed last week at a Senate hearing. The lie? Spoken with his trademark don’t-you-dare-question-me confidence during a November 2012, press conference, Obama said: “What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing—faster than was predicted even ten years ago.” Then at a Chicago fundraiser on May 29: “We also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago.” He’s likely said the same thing several times in the intervening months.

The hearing: “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now” was held on Thursday, July 18, by the Environment and Public Works Committee—chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Because Democrats control the Senate, they get more witnesses at a hearing than Republicans. Thursday’s hearing had two panels. Each had three experts (invited by the Democrats) who supported the “alarmist’ position on global warming held by most Democrats and two (invited by the Republicans) who could be called “skeptics.”

During the Q & A time with the first panel—which included the Democrat’s star: Heidi Cullen of Weather Channel fame, Ranking Member Senator David Vitter (R-LA) asked: “Can any witnesses say they agree with Obama’s statement that warming has accelerated during the past 10 years?” After an awkward (to say the least) silence, Cullen tried to change the subject by saying that we need to be looking at longer time periods then ten years and then, ultimately, acknowledged that the warming has slowed, not accelerated. A few minutes later, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) made sure no one missed the point. He repeated Obama’s claim and then asked: “Do any of you support that quote?” Again, silence.

Even the witnesses brought in by the Democrats couldn’t support Obama’s false data. But, there were other interesting aspects of the nearly four-hour-long hearing.

Chairman Boxer, in her opening statement, proclaimed: “Predictions of climate change are coming true right before our eyes.” She added, “We can look out the window and see the evidence of climate change mounting around us.”

I find it interesting that Boxer started off with “predictions.” In preparation for the hearing, the Minority—led by Vitter—produced an important report: “Critical Thinking on Climate Change: Questions to Consider Before Taking Regulatory Action and Implementing Economic Policies.” The 21-page report’s introduction states: “Over nearly four decades, numerous predictions have had adequate time to come to fruition, providing an opportunity to analyze and compare them to

today’s statistics. … This report posits that as the developing world has greatly expanded its use of fossil energy and CO2 emissions have increased, then the predictions and claims regarding human influence on climate patterns should be apparent and easily proven.” The remaining 19 pages are filled with predictions and claims—including Obama’s—that are false or foolish, such as Former Vice President Al Gore’s on December 13, 2008: “The entire north polar ice cap will be gone in 5 years.” And a 1989 statement from the Associated Press: “Using computer models, researchers conclude that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide by two degrees by 2010.” Each set of predictions and claims is countered by “The Latest Science.” Reading the report, you’ll find that the claims often contradict the data.

Back to Boxer. She starts with dramatic predictions about heat waves, tropical storms and hurricanes—which will be more frequent and intense.

The first witness was Cullen, Chief Climatologist at Climate Central—who continued with the “extreme weather events” theme: “The impacts of human-caused climate change are being observed right here and right now in our own backyards and neighborhoods.” She said that warming is happening very, very quickly and that it is expected to accelerate. She talked about extremes seen every day:

More heavy downpours, (a non-meteorological term)
More heat extremes,
Increase in hurricane activity,
Increase in flood magnitude, and
Southwest increase in droughts and wildfires.

While Boxer and Cullen set the stage, as witnesses number 9 and 10, Roger Pielke, Jr., and Roy Spencer provided the final act in Thursday’s theater.

Pielke, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado and the author of Climate Fix, started with seven “take-home points” that totally eviscerated Boxer and Cullen’s “extreme weather” claims. Showing a series of charts and graphs that can be found in his written testimony, Pielke convincingly proved: “It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally. It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.” The fact of the matter is (From Pielke’s testimony):

* Globally, weather-related losses have not increased since 1990 as a proportion of GDP (they have actually decreased by about 25%).

* Insured catastrophe losses have not increased as a proportion of GDP since 1960.

* Hurricanes have not increased in the US in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900.

* There are no significant trends (up or down) in global tropical cyclone landfalls since 1970 (when data allows for a comprehensive perspective), or the overall number of cyclones.

* Floods have not increased in the US in frequency or intensity since at least 1950.

* Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950, and there is some evidence to suggest that they have actually declined.

* Drought has, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and has been covering a smaller portion of the US over the past century.

Pielke’s comments are all the more noteworthy when you realize that he generally believes that humans are influencing the climate system “in profound ways.”

Last, but surely not least, was Roy Spencer who holds a Ph.D. in Meteorology and has spent his entire career in research—specifically satellite information retrieval techniques and global temperature monitoring. Spencer has served NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as Senior Scientist for Climate Studies. He agrees with Pielke—and every other panelist that at least some of the recent warming is human-caused: “We probably are having some influence, but it is impossible to know with any level of certainty how much influence.”

Spencer tore apart the oft-quoted figure that 97% of scientists support the global warming consensus. He explained that it’s actually 97% of the published papers that acknowledge some human influence—which is “therefore rather innocuous, since it probably includes all of the global warming ‘skeptics’ I know of who are actively working in the field. Skeptics generally are skeptical of the view that recent warming is all human-caused, and/or that it is of a sufficient magnitude to warrant immediate action given the cost of energy policies to the poor. They do not claim humans have no impact on climate whatsoever.”

Why is Spencer “skeptical?” For many reasons, but one involves data he showed covering the Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period and the Modern Warm Period. He said: “While today’s hearing is entitled “Climate Change; It’s Happening Now,” it couldhave been entitled “Climate Change: It’s Happened Before.” He explained: “The last 2000 years of proxy reconstructed temperature variations for the Northern Hemisphere shows that the Modern Warm Period (today) is not significantly different from the Medieval Warm Period of ~1000 years ago, or the Roman Warm Period of ~2000 years ago.

Spencer also demonstrated the failure of the computer model predictions upon which the IPCC based their projections of global warming. He offered a chart demonstrating the 73 models used and their predictions vs. the actual temperature measurement from two satellite datasets and four weather balloon datasets. “The level of disagreement between models and observations is quite striking.” Spencer pointed out: “The magnitude of global-average atmospheric warming between 1997 and 2012 is only about 50% that predicted by the climate models. …The level of warming in the most recent 15-year period is not significantly different from zero, despite this being the period of greatest greenhouse gas concentration. This is in stark contrast to claims that warming is ‘accelerating.’” He concludes: “It is time for scientists to entertain the possibility that there is something wrong with the assumptions built into their climate models. …and so far their error rate should preclude their use for predicting future climate change.”

Spencer’s testimony mentioned the “cost of energy policies to the poor”—which brings up another interesting contrast presented at Thursday’s hearing: the economics. As each of the Senators gave his or her opening statements, the Democrats—who claim to be the champions of the poor—never mentioned the cost, and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) exclaimed: “To save the planet will be expensive!” He proposed: “serious legislation to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions” and called for “bold action,” saying: “the US must lead the world.” He’s introduced legislation for a tax on carbon. (Realize that the same week the hearing was held, Australia’s new Prime Minister announced that he “will ‘terminate’ the country's carbon tax early ‘to help cost of living pressures for families and to reduce costs for small business.”)

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) addressed “the President’s intent to pursue a costly regulatory roll out” which he said: “demands proof of sound science as well as transparency.”

The economists on the panel where those invited by the Republicans. Diana Furchtgott-Roth was one of them. She’s been chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, chief of staff at the Council of Economic Advisers, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Domestic Policy Council under President George H.W. Bush, and an economist on the staff of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers.

I talked to Furchtgott-Roth after the hearing. She told me: “They don’t seem to be interested in whether or not climate change is really occurring. They are not interested in facts. They want a carbon tax because it will give them unlimited power and unlimited power means unlimited campaign contributions.” Furchtgott-Roth pointed out how a carbon tax would hurt the economy and how the expensive proposed solutions would disproportionately affect low-income Americans. A chart she presented shows, based on Department of Labor data, that “those in the lowest fifth of the income distribution spend an average of 24 percent of income on energy, compared to 10 percent of the income for those in the middle fifth, and 4 percent of income for those in the top fifth.” She presented several less costly options for climate change mitigation—if greenhouse gasses are really the problem—but felt they fell on deaf ears.

A lot of data was presented at the Senate hearing—much of which was obviously unsettling to the “alarmists.” During the Q & A, the “skeptics” were less attacked on the content of their testimony than they were on personal issues.

Boxer called out the two economists: Furchtgott-Roth and Dr. Robert P. Murphy, Senior Economist, Institute for Energy Research, because their organizations receive some funding from the oil and gas industry. Furchtgott-Roth pointed out that she’s been writing on these issues since long before becoming a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) attempted to portray Spencer as a knuckle-dragging Bible thumper for his views on evolutionary theory. Spencer laughed, asked where that was coming from, and then told Whitehouse he’d be happy to show the stronger science arguments for design at another time. Clearly, Whitehouse’s comments were inappropriate, considering the topic at hand.

In his opening comments, Sanders smugly called the hearing an “Alice in Wonderland hearing” because the people within the room were “living in two separate worlds.” Clearly, they are. But those two worlds accurately represent the American population—though in differing percentages. At the “Alice in Wonderland hearing” the Majority supports the “alarmist” view, which encourages a carbon tax and other “expensive” solutions. In the real world, the majority doesn’t see climate change as a pressing problem—hence the shift to dramatic “extreme weather events.” Americans prioritize economic growth over protecting the environment—a recent survey puts climate change at number 21 in a list of top concerns. In her written testimony, Furchtgott-Roth stated: “Americans know that no reduction in global warming will occur if America reduces greenhouse gases without similar action by China and India, and these countries have not agreed to comparable steps.”

The hearing’s “take-home points:” Obama lied. Boxer and Cullen’s predictions are false. The models are inaccurate. So, for this we are going to ruin the economy and disproportionately hurt the poor?


Germany’s Biggest Energy Company Considers Fleeing Europe

European Plants May be Moved to Emerging Markets

German utility E.ON is considering dismantling some European power plants that have been mothballed because of poor profitability and relocating them to faster-growing emerging markets such as Turkey, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

The radical idea underscores the dire situation facing many utilities in Europe, where the combination of weak energy demand caused by the economic crisis and the rapid expansion of renewable energy is undermining the conventional power-generation business.
E.ON isn’t the only company considering drastic measures. On Tuesday, Swedish utility Vattenfall AB, opened the door to the sale of its power business in continental Europe. E.ON’s main German rival, RWE AG, has warned it could shut down a fifth of its power plants.

One of the plants that E.ON could pack up and ship overseas is the 430-megawatt combined-cycle gas turbine power plant in Malzenice, Slovakia, said a person familiar with the company’s thinking. If E.ON’s calculations prove that a move is economically viable, the plant could be moved to Turkey, which is a more attractive market with stronger energy-demand growth, the person said.

E.ON expanded into Turkey earlier this year in partnership with local conglomerate Haci Omer Sabanci Holding. Together, the companies plan to develop around 8,000 megawatts of power generation capacity by 2020, equivalent to around 10% of Turkey’s overall capacity.

E.ON has invested around €400 million ($526 million) in the gas-fired Slovakian plant, but it will go offline in October less than three years after it was commissioned because it has been making a loss, E.ON said earlier this month.

Power plants fueled by gas are suffering the most in Europe because of a combination of high fuel prices and intense competition from cheaper coal supplies. The surge in production of wind and solar energy is also reducing demand for gas-fired power, because these forms of renewable energy compete directly with facilities like Malzenice in serving peak electricity demand.

Since it began operating in January 2011, the Malzenice plant has operated for only around 5,600 hours, well below its target of 4,000 hours to 5,000 hours per year, E.ON has said.
E.ON isn’t alone in its troubles. Germany’s largest power producer by capacity, RWE, has also warned that it is struggling to operate its fleet of fossil-fuel power plants profitably. Chief Executive Peter Terium has said that around one-fifth of the company’s 50 gigawatt power generation capacity is at risk of being shut down.

Swedish state-controlled utility Vattenfall wrote down the value of its power plants by €3.5 billion Tuesday, blaming low power prices and muted energy demand across Europe.

Oystein Loseth, the company’s chief executive said he didn’t expect the European power market to recover in the foreseeable future. Vattenfall will now consider the full or partial sale of its continental European business, although it will retain full control of its operations in the Nordic region.


UK Energy Companies May Shut Down Power Plants To Receive Subsidies

Tim Webb

The boss of one of Britain’s biggest energy companies has warned that the Government’s new plan to stave off the growing threat of blackouts could increase the risk of the lights going out.

Under the plan announced this month, the owners of mothballed power plants would be offered lucrative subsidies to rush them back into action during times of peak demand.

But Keith Anderson, the chief corporate officer of Scottish Power, said that energy companies could deliberately mothball plants that they would otherwise have kept open to make them eligible for the payments. This would cut Britain’s precariously thin spare generating margin even further.

“Please let’s not create the wrong signals in the market,” he said. “If you put in place a mechanism to encourage mothballed plants to come back on the system, then you are encouraging people to mothball plants. You have to think through very carefully the consequences. We need to have more detailed conversations to make sure we do not have unintended consequences and make the situation worse.”

Other power companies share Scottish Power’s concerns. National Grid, which is carrying out a consulation into the plan, admitted that many believed it amounted to “interference” in the market.

Mr Anderson wants the Government instead to bring forward its so-called capacity auctions, scheduled to start in 2018, which will pay energy companies to provide generating capacity available a long time in advance.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


25 July, 2013

Morano on vacation

On Tues 23rd., I put up a note of concern about our apparent loss of the inimitable Marc Morano. Marc is still pretty much in touch, however, as he did see my note. He has emailed me as follows:

"Hi Jon,?

I have been on extended two week plus travelling vacation with family, plus relatives funeral and selling a home. All during same time.

I have been doing updates to my site from smart phone. Normalcy should resume by Monday.


Something is happening to our sun

by astronomer David Whitehouse

Something is happening to our sun. It has to do with sunspots or rather the activity cycle their coming and going signifies. Sunspots – dark magnetic blotches on the sun's surface – come and go in an 11-year cycle of activity first noticed in 1843. It is a process related to the motion of superhot, electrically charged gas inside the sun; a kind of internal conveyor belt where vast sub-surface rivers of gas take 40 years to circulate from the equator to the poles and back.

Somehow, in a way not very well understood, this circulation produces the sunspot cycle in which every 11 years there is a sunspot maximum followed by a minimum. In the last century, the sun's activity may have been the highest for more than 8,000 years with lots of strong solar cycles. But then things turned. The recent cycle – so called 'Cycle 24' - is puny. If history is anything to go by, then the sun's change of mood could affect us all by cooling the earth and throwing our climate change calculations into disarray.

Not all sunspot cycles are the same. They can be long or short, weak or strong and sometimes they can go away altogether. Following the discovery of the cycle, astronomers looked back through previous observations and were able to clearly see it until they reached the 17th century when it seemed to disappear. It turned out to be a real absence, not one caused by a lack of observations. Astronomers called it the Maunder Minimum.

It was an astonishing discovery, our sun can change. There was something different about the sun back then. Between 1645 and 1715, sunspots were rare. About 50 were observed. There should have been 50,000. Ever since the sunspot cycle was discovered, researchers have looked for its rhythm superimposed on the earth's climate. In some cases, it is there but usually at low levels. But there was something strange about the time when the sunspots disappeared that left scientists to ponder if the sun's unusual behaviour could have something to do with the fact that the 17th century was also a time when the earth's northern hemisphere chilled with devastating consequences.

Scientists call that event the Little Ice Age and it affected Europe at just the wrong time. In response to the more benign climate of the earlier medieval warm period, Europe's population may have doubled. But in the mid-17th century, demographic growth stopped and in some areas fell - in part due to the reduced crop yields caused by climate change. Bread prices doubled and then quintupled and hunger weakened the population.

The English preacher John King wrote: "Our years are turned upside down, our summers are no summers; our harvests, no harvests." Ralph Josselin, an English vicar, wrote: "I find nothing but confusions." But while Josselin looked for God's inscrutable purpose, others looked elsewhere. The Italian historian Majolino Bisaccioni suggested that the wave of bad weather and revolutions might be due to the influence of the stars but Jesuit astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli speculated that fluctuations in the number of sunspots might be to blame. For he too had noticed they were unusually absent.

The key point is that looking back through the sunspot record reveals many periods when the sun's activity was high and low - and in general they are related to warm and cool climatic periods. For example, as well as the Little Ice Age there was the weak sun and the cold Iron Age, the active sun and the warm Bronze Age. Scientists cannot readily explain how the sun's activity affects the earth but it is an observational correlation that the sun's moods have a climatic effect on the planet.

The big question is what will happen in the future. Cycle 24 is weak with few sunspots. Could it be that our sun is behaving like it did in the 17th century? Could we be on the verge of a new Little Ice Age? The last decade has been warmer than previous ones. It is the result of a rapid increase in global temperature between 1978 and 1998. Since then, average temperatures have held at a high although steady level. Many computer climate projections suggest that the global temperatures will start to rise again in a few years' time. But crucially those projections do not take into account the recent change in the sun's behaviour.

Some members of the Russian Academy of Sciences say we may be at the start of a period like that seen between 1790 and 1820, a minor decline in solar activity called the Dalton Minimum. It is something we must take seriously because what happened to the sun in the 17th century is bound to happen again sometime. It might even be the case that the earth's response to low solar activity will overturn many of our assumptions about man's influence on climate change. Cold not warmth might be our future. We do not know. We must keep watching the sun.


The latest pontifications of Britain's Met Office

"We predicted the temperature standstill. We just didn't tell anyone"

The three briefing papers on the recent pause in global surface temperature released by the UK Met Office this week make interesting reading. They can be found here, here and here.

But perhaps unintentionally they say more about the messenger than the actual science, of which there is very little that is new. The overall message (reached with the considerable help of hindsight for no one predicted it) is that the current standstill in global surface temperature is nothing unusual, can be explained quite simply by climate models, has its explanation in the heat uptake by the deep oceans, and ultimately doesn’t make much difference. After many years of denying that the standstill existed the Met Office now seeks to explain it, and bring it into the fold.

The problem with all this is that after such confident assertions, the actual evidence, as the reports eventually confirm, doesn’t merit such conclusions. The reports seem to push their favourite explanation strongly, and then less enthusiastically state elsewhere that such conclusions are premature.

This leads one to question why the reports have been written, as apart from details about a climate simulation model (unpublished in peer-reviewed literature) they contain nothing new. The Met Office recently said it was ‘loosing the PR war’ because it had been concentrating on arguments about global surface temperature. Perhaps this is part of a fight back?

Scientifically it adds nothing, but it is a report stamped with the Met Office’s authority and released to journalists at a press conference at the UK Science Media Centre a day before the reports were available to the public. Wasn’t it the Science Media Centre that recently testified before MPs that ‘sceptics’ had been using the global temperature standstill to undermine climate science?

Pick Your Coincidence

A careful eye sees the lack of internal consistency in the reports. One of the reports says the temperature has been ‘relatively flat’ over the past 15-years to 2013. It is not ‘relatively’ flat, it is flat. Later on the Met Office claims that the standstill is not 15 years, but since 2001.

Part 1 is the ‘State of the Climate,’ and it is interesting to see the range and variation of the numerous climate variables mentioned. There is a lot of disagreement between them. Looking at them makes one realise what a big deal, and a big clue, is the recent temperature standstill.

Part 2 states: “Observations of Ocean Heat Content (OHC) and Sea Level Rise (SLR) suggest that the additional heat from the continued rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration may have been absorbed in the ocean and not been manifest as a rise in surface temperature.”

There are many problems with this statement which are not addressed by this report. It presents SLR from 1992 only – the satellite era. Omitted are the previous 100 years of data based on tidal gauges. It is perfectly reasonable to analyse the SLR data and find no increase in its rate of rise in recent decades (in fact quite the opposite might be happening) and deduce that there is no anthropomorphic signal in the data. So how exactly does the Met Office’s conclusion work given that there is a rise in OHC in recent decades and no increase in the rate of SLR?

The problem with OHC is that the data is not up to drawing good conclusions. It is also contradictory. The Met Office takes the start of the pause as 2001, which is coincident with an observed maximum in ocean heat uptake in 2002 (from what data is available). The problem is that the pause, most of it, has continued long after 2004 when the oceans upper layer heat uptake declines. Despite the explanation of the pause in ocean heating is suffused throughout the report, buried within it is the statement that they, “cannot show definitely that this has been the dominant factor in the recent pause.” So there you have it. The ocean uptake is a unproven hypothesis, like so many others. I bet that wasn’t a headline used in the newspapers.

The report says that the pause could be caused by a combination of changes in the total energy received by the planet and under-surface ocean heating. Explaining the pause this way makes its most interesting property – that it’s statistically constant – seem a strange situation, begging the question how could two competing factors exactly balance themselves for 16 years!

The report states that there have been pauses before, notably between 1940 and the late 1970s. They attribute this to aerosols reflecting sunlight. Their confidence in this explanation is far too strong given that this pause is poorly understood and there are many problems with the aerosol explanation. On this point the report is comparing apples and oranges as the 1940 pause occurred at a time when the IPCC says that greenhouse gasses had only a tiny effect on the climate, wheras the post-1980 warming – which includes the post-1997 standstill – has occurred in the era where climate is dominated by greenhouse gasses. In short, the two pauses are not comparable.

Dancing Like It’s 1998

It makes the old mistake of referring to 1998 – the year of the super El Nino – as some kind of starting point for the standstill. This is a common error. It also says that the start of the current pause is difficult to determine precisely. Well actually it isn’t. It started in 1997. The following year saw the great El Nino, but statistically this was offset by 1999 and 2000 that were La Nina years.

The only new thing in the three reports are the results from a single climate model that was run thousands of times and was in some cases able to reproduce something like the standstill giving a ten-year pause about twice a century. But what does this prove? Than an (unpublished) model kind of works. It would be surprising given the number and spread of results from climate models if some of them didn’t conform to the observations. However, what we have is a 16-year hiatus, not a ten-year one, and that makes a big difference.

Later on the report goes into climate sensitivity and dismisses all recent research papers indicating lower climate sensitivity that was thought. They also, according to Nic Lews one of the authors of Otto et al 2013, misrepresent the findings of that study.

In its conclusions the Met Office states that the pause has not falsified the climate models. If the pause is, as they define it and limit it, from 2001 onwards, then this is true. But if the pause is 16-years, as the temperature data actually show, then the models, already looking unimpressive, are in jeopardy.

We are at the waiting stage. Better and more reliable OHC data are desperately needed. Even if global temperatures were to rise again the climate models have shown themselves inadequate. If the pause continues, however, then the crisis of climate science will become more serious.


Why has global warming stalled?

By BBC science editor David Shukman, commenting on the Met. Office press conference. At age 55, it would seem that David is finally getting tired of being taken for a mug. If they've lost the BBC ...?

Gradually the words 'pause' and 'hiatus' which first featured in the blogs have crossed to the media and then to the scientists professionally engaged in researching the global climate.

Professor Piers Forster of Leeds University has tried to quantify the different factors involved - what's known as their "radiative forcing".

Between 1998-2012, he reckons, manmade greenhouse gases were still the biggest influence, causing warming of 0.48 of a Watt per square metre (a key measure of energy flows to and from the planet).

At the same, he estimates, two other natural influences might have led to some cooling: a relatively quiet Sun might have been responsible for a reduction of 0.16 of a Watt/sq m and volcanic eruptions another 0.06 Watt/sq m.

A big unknown is the effect of aerosols - tiny particles released by industrial pollution which could cause a further cooling effect.

It is thought that the world's massive industrialisation after World War Two contributed to a slight drop in global temperatures in the late 1940s.

But the key factor - according to all the speakers at the briefing - is that whatever solar energy is making it through to the surface, much is being absorbed by the hidden depths of the oceans.

The Argo network of automated monitors has been deployed since 2005 to measure the waters as deep as 1,800m. This isn't a very long period but the data are apparently showing some warming - even in this short time frame.

And readings from satellites since 2000 show how much energy is arriving at the planet, and how much is leaving, so if the energy left behind is not manifesting itself in rising surface temperatures, then it must be going somewhere - and the deep ocean is the most plausible explanation.

Pauses expected

On top of that, the scientists say, pauses in warming were always to be expected. This is new - at least to me.

It is common sense that climate change would not happen in a neat, linear away but instead in fits and starts.

But I've never heard leading researchers mention the possibility before.

Professor Rowan Sutton, of Reading University, said computer simulations or models of possible future climate scenarios often show periods of ten years with no warming trend - some even show pauses of 20-25 years.

And Professor Stephen Belcher, head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said observations and models showed that on average there were - or would be - two pauses in warming every century.

I asked why this had not come up in earlier presentations. No one really had an answer, except to say that this "message" about pauses had not been communicated widely.

So where does this leave us, as greenhouse gases emissions keep rising but the temperature does not?

Dr Peter Stott, of the Met Office, pointed out that 12 of the 14 warmest years have occurred since the year 2000 and says that other indicators - like the decline in Arctic sea ice of 12.9% per decade and losses of snow cover and glaciers - still point to a process of manmade warming.

Bad maths

But what about another possibility - that the calculations are wrong?

What if the climate models - which are the very basis for all discussions of what to do about global warming - exaggerate the sensitivity of the climate to rising carbon dioxide?

Dr Stott conceded that the projections showing the most rapid warming now look less likely, given recent observations, but that others remain largely unchanged.

A Met Office briefing document, released at the briefing, says that, even allowing for the temperatures of the last decade, the most likely warming scenario is only reduced by 10% - so "the warming that we might have expected by 2050 would be delayed by only a few years".

Overall, it concludes, the pause "does not materially alter the risks of substantial warming of the Earth by the end of this century."

In other words, global warming is still on.

But until the pause can be properly explained, many people will take a lot of convincing - especially if the pause lasts longer than expected.


We Really Don’t Understand Our Climate

Scientists are still struggling to explain the slower-than-predicted global warming over the past decade. It’s a puzzle with enormous implications: we know that we’re emitting greenhouse gases in record quantities, and we know that these gases trap more of the sun’s heat, yet global surface temperatures are significantly lower than what our climate models predicted. If our models are otherwise correct, then where is this heat going? A group of UK climate scientists have some ideas:

"A range of factors have been pinpointed for what has come to be called the “hiatus” or “pause” in warming, which the scientists said they expected to be temporary. These include small airborne particles known as aerosols from volcanic eruptions that have a cooling effect as they reflect sunlight back into space; the impact of the regular cycle of solar activity; the sensitivity of the climate to greenhouse gases, and the way the oceans absorb heat."

There are innumerable variables in the climate system that could be responsible for the warming slowdown. These scientists have identified some of the likeliest culprits, but one professor admitted that they “don’t fully understand the relative importance of these different factors.”

That’s a big problem, considering most green legislation aimed at reducing emissions calls for measures to prevent very specific degrees of warming. This recent warming plateau is exposing our limited understanding of climate, and it’s effectively killing the rationale for green policies that limit growth and, at the most basic level, try to force people to do things they would rather not do.

The biggest cause of climate skepticism isn’t evil oil companies and campaigns of disinformation; it is the inability of greens to refrain from overstating their case and insisting dogmatically and self righteously on more certainty than the frustrating facts can give.


When it comes to climate change, we have to trust our scientists, because they know lots of big scary words

Some deserved derision from Sean Thomas below:

Whither the weather? As you may have heard, a conference of national forecasters assembled this week in Exeter: to discuss the future of the British climate, following the spate of harsher than expected winters, and unusually wet summers, since 2007.

Already, commentators are asking if global warming is to blame. In particular, some are wondering if the direction of the Jet Stream is being altered by Arctic ice melt. Others are speculating that natural variations, such as the “Atlantic multi-decadal oscillation”, might be responsible for recent evolutions.

However, most of this reportage has been second-hand. Unprecedentedly, I had direct access to the meteorologists concerned, as I was in Exeter in spirit form, and I managed to speak to the principal actors.

First, I asked Stephen Belcher, the head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, whether the recent extended winter was related to global warming. Shaking his famous “ghost stick”, and fingering his trademark necklace of sharks’ teeth and mammoth bones, the loin-clothed Belcher blew smoke into a conch, and replied,

“Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.”

Startled by this sobering analysis, I moved on to Professor Rowan Sutton, Climate Director of NCAS at the University of Reading. Professor Sutton said that many scientists are, as of this moment, examining the complex patterns in the North Atlantic, and trying to work out whether the current run of inclement European winters will persist.

When pressed on the particular outlook for the British Isles. Professor Sutton shook his head, moaned eerily unto the heavens, and stuffed his fingers into the entrails of a recently disembowelled chicken, bought fresh from Waitrose in Teignmouth.

Hurling the still-beating heart of the chicken into a shallow copper salver, Professor Sutton inhaled the aroma of burning incense, then told the Telegraph: “The seven towers of Agamemnon tremble. Much is the discord in the latitude of Gemini. When, when cry the sirens of doom and love. Speckly showers on Tuesday.”

It’s a pretty stark analysis, and not without merit. There are plenty of climate change scientists who are equally forthright on the possibilities of change, or no change, and of more hot, or less hot, or of rain, or no rain, or of Britain turning into the Sahara by next weekend, or instead becoming a freezing cold Frostyworld ruled by a strange, glistening ice-queen – crucially, it all depends on the time of day you ask them, and whether or not they had asparagus the day before.

So who are we to believe? For a final word, I turned to the greatest climate change scientist of all, Dr David Viner, one-time senior research scientist at the climatic research unit of the University of East Anglia, who predicted in 2000 that, within a few years, winter snowfall would become "a very rare and exciting event".

However, he was trapped under a glacier in Stockport, so was unable to comment at the time the Telegraph went to press.


Climate Alarmism’s 10,000 Commandments


The United States will "do more," before it's "too late" to prevent "dangerous" global warming, President Obama told Berliners last week. If Congress won't act, he will, by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, increasing subsidies and reduce environmental overview for wind and solar projects on federal lands, and issuing other rules that will adversely affect economic growth and job creation.

Indeed, his Environmental Protection Agency is already devising new rules that will sharply curtail carbon dioxide emissions, by regulating thousands of facilities that use hydrocarbon energy - and thus ultimately almost everything Americans make, grow, ship, eat and do.

However, the manmade global warming "disasters" exist only in computer models and assertions by scientists who are addicted to billions in government Climate Armageddon grants. Moreover, the "preventative measures" are far worse than the disasters EPA claims to be preventing.

Even the most diehard alarmists have finally recognized that average global temperatures have hardly budged since 1997, even as atmospheric levels of plant-fertilizing CO2 climbed steadily. For many areas, the past winter was among the coldest in decades; the USA and Britain just recorded one their coldest springs on record; and satellite data show that Earth has actually cooled slightly since 2002.

The frequency and severity of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts are no different from observed trends and cycles over the last century. 2012 set records for the fewest strong tornadoes since 1954 and the number of years with no category 3 or higher hurricane making US landfall. (The vicious tornadoes of recent weeks underscore how quickly the weather can swing back to normal patterns.) Arctic sea ice is within a few percentage points of "normal" levels for the past fifty years, and the rate of sea level rise is not accelerating.

These facts completely contradict computer model predictions and alarmist claims. Moreover, as Climategate and numerous studies have shown, the "science" behind EPA's ruling that carbon dioxide "endangers" human health and welfare is conjectural, manufactured, manipulated and even fraudulent.

EPA is supposed to protect our environment, health and welfare. Instead, it "safeguards" us from exaggerated or illusory risks - by issuing mountains of costly, intrusive regulations that endanger our health, wellbeing and wildlife far more than any reasonably foreseeable effects from climate change.

This accumulation of anti-hydrocarbon restrictions and penalties is putting EPA in control of nearly every aspect of our lives. Fuel, compliance and business costs will soar. Companies will be forced to outsource work to other countries, reduce work forces, shift people to part-time status, or close their doors.

Poor and minority families will be unable to heat and cool their homes properly, pay their rent or mortgage, buy clothing and medicine, take vacations, pay their bills, give to charity, and save for college and retirement.

With twelve million Americans already out of work, and another eight million working multiple lower-paying, part-time jobs, EPA's global warming and 1,920 other rules over the past four years translate into unprecedented sleep deprivation, lower economic and educational status, and soaring anxiety and stress. That will mean greater risk of strokes and heart attacks; higher incidences of depression, alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse; more suicides; and declining overall life expectancy.

EPA's new 54.5 mpg fuel efficiency standards will force more people into smaller, lighter, less safe cars - causing thousands of needless additional serious injuries and deaths every year - in the name of preventing illusory climate and oil and gas depletion crises.

Federal regulators use the same phony climate change and energy depletion arguments to justify letting wind turbine operators slaughter millions of birds and bats every year - including bald and golden eagles, hawks, condors and whooping cranes. They continue to promote and subsidize $50-per-gallon biofuels, to replace oil and natural gas that the world still has in abundance - thanks to new exploration, drilling and production technologies. This focus on biofuels also means more rainforests and other wildlife habitats are being cut down in the name of "renewable" energy.

EPA and President Obama never consider any of this, in calculating the supposed "benefits" of their onerous regulations. They refuse to recognize that their hysterical claims of climate cataclysms are increasingly indefensible. They ignore the damage that their heavy-handed rules impose on our health, welfare and environmental quality.

EPA finds, punishes and even targets anyone who violates any of its ten thousand commandments, even inadvertently. The agency's climate change actions, however, are not inadvertent. They are deliberate, and their effects are harmful and far reaching. They will affect every American and 100% of our economy.

And yet, these increasingly powerful bureaucrats - who seek and acquire ever more control over our lives - remain faceless, nameless, unelected and unaccountable. They operate largely behind closed doors, issuing regulations and arranging sweetheart "sue and settle" legal actions with radical environmentalist groups, to advance ideological agendas, without regard for their impacts on our lives, livelihoods, living standards, health, welfare and environment.

They know that, for them, there is rarely any real transparency, accountability or consequences - even for gross stupidity, major screw-ups, flagrant abuses or deliberate harm.

We need to save our environment from environmentalists and EPA - and safeguard our liberties, living standards and lives against the arrogance of too-powerful politicians and bureaucrats. How we achieve this, while protecting our lives and environment from real risks, is one of the greatest challenges we face.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


24 July, 2013

A fitting reputation for the UEA

UEA hosts the Climate Research Unit, where Phil Jones & Co hang out. The CRU is notorious for producing much fiction about the climate. A comparison of leading British universities mentions the UEA and says where its strengths lie:

For example, the University of East Anglia tends to drop in and out of the top 20 in terms of overall reputation, yet is considered the best university in the UK for Creative Writing.


European meteorological satellite shows global COOLING, 1982-2006


Andries Rosema, Steven Foppes, Joost van der Woerd

EARS Earth Environment Monitoring Ltd, Delft, the Netherlands

Kanaalweg 1, 2628 EB Delft, the Netherlands, Email:


24 year of Meteosat hourly thermal infrared data have been used to study planetary surface temperature change. Thermal infrared radiation in the 10.5-12.5mm spectral window is not affected by CO2 and only slightly by atmospheric water vapor. Satellite thermal infrared data have been converted to brightness temperatures as prescribed by Eumetsat. Hourly brightness temperature images were then composed to corresponding noon and midnight temperature data fields. The resulting data fields were cloud filtered using 10, 20 and 30 day maximum temperature substitution. Filtered data were subsequently averaged for two 10 yearly periods: 1986-1995 and 1996-2005. Finally the change in brightness temperature was determined by subtraction. In addition nine locations were selected and data series were extracted and studied for the period 1982-2006. Our observations point to a decrease in planetary temperature over almost the entire hemisphere, most likely due to an increase of cloudiness. Two small areas are found where a considerable temperature increase has occurred. They are explained in terms of major human interventions in the hydrological balance at the earth surface.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT VOLUME 24 No.. 3 & 4 2013 (Not yet online)

Global warming has 'paused' because of natural causes but will continue to rise, scientists claim

Same old, same old claim that heat sinks when everywhere else it rises. Furthermore, deep ocean temperatures are exceedingly stable, varying by as little as thousandths of one degree. They are therefore the last place to have suddenly become significant heat stores

Global warming has 'paused' but this is not unexpected and temperatures will still continue to rise, climate scientists have claimed.

Heat going into the deep ocean is part of the reason global average surface temperatures have increased at a lower rate in the past 10 to 15 years than in previous decades, they explained.

Recent low solar activity and volcanic eruptions, which send particles into the atmosphere that reflect heat, have also contributed to a slowing in temperature rises, while natural climate variations also play a part.

But Met Office experts and climate scientists say global warming has not stopped but paused - with the average rate of warming just 0.04C per decade between 1998 and 2012, compared with 0.17C per decade from 1970-1998.

They say recent measurements of deep-ocean temperatures indicate heat is being absorbed at lower levels, which the researchers suggest could be due to a period of more circulation within the ocean, taking heat into the deep where it is 'hidden from view'.

The scientists added that periods of slow-down or 'pauses' in surface warming are not unusual in temperature records and are predicted in climate models, which suggests such periods could occur at least twice a century because of natural variation.

Computer models for how the climate could change have not predicted the current slow-down, although Dr Richard Allan of the University of Reading said long-term projections do show decades of slower warming but could not be expected to exactly match when they occur in real life.

Over a 50-year period, the world could expect to see one period of extra rapid temperature rises, Dr Allan said.

The temperatures seen in recent years fall within the range previously predicted, and if models for future rises take into account temperatures from the last 10 years, the most likely warming is reduced by 10 per cent, the experts said.

This would mean that the world would see rises of 2C above pre-industrial temperatures, beyond which the worst impacts of climate change are expected to occur, and only around five to 10 years later than currently predicted.

Professor Piers Forster, at the University of Leeds, said: 'If we do continue on this emissions trajectory we're currently on, we'll reach 2C in 2060 or so. I think it puts it back by five to 10 years.'

Dr Peter Stott, of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: 'We expect to get periods of slower warming. This is absolutely what we expect. 'Global temperatures remain high: 12 out of the 14 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000.'

The evidence of human influence on the climate has become stronger, including melting Arctic sea ice and reduced northern hemisphere snow cover, he said.


97 per cent of climate activists in the pay of Big Oil shock!

By James Delingpole

Unless you're a reader of the Guardian Environment's recently added section "Sacrifice your children to Mother Gaia. It's the only way!", you'll probably never have heard of the man who co-edits it, Dana Nuccitelli. But you'll certainly be familiar with his most famous bogus statistical artefact: the one he created with fellow climate alarmist John Cook to prove that 97 per cent of climate scientists really DO believe in global warming.

The claim has been roundly debunked. Apart from the problems with its statistical methodology, its findings are essentially meaningless. As Ben Pile points out in this characteristically measured, thoughtful piece,

"Nuccitelli’s survey results are either the result of a comprehensive failure to understand the climate debate, or an attempt to divide it in such a way as to frame the result for political ends."

Indeed, adds Pile, they represent: "a cartoonish polarisation of positions within the climate debate."

How so? Well, as (climate sceptical) Bishop Hill once asked on Twitter: "Isn't everyone in the 97 per cent? I am." When the question was repeated at the Bishop's website by Met Office's Richard Betts, almost all those present agreed that they were. I would have done too, depending, of course, on precisely how you interpret the "consensus position" that "humans are causing global warming."

Well of course they are. Even if it's only down to the Urban Heat Island effect or the methane from beef cattle, humans almost certainly have an influence on climate. But so what? It always astonishes me when I see climate alarmists – even nice, well-meaning ones like Richard Betts – get all excited about this, as if somehow it represents a sudden concession by sceptics to the cause of warmism.

If the alarmists spent any time paying attention to Watts Up With That, Bishop Hill or any of the myriad other sceptical websites out there, they would realise that this is what we've always thought. Our beef with the alarmists is not over the issue "Do humans contribute to climate change?" It's over "Do humans significantly contribute to climate chnage?" "Is there any evidence that this climate change is catastrophic or unprecedented?" "Do we need to do anything about it?" "Can we do anything about it?" "And are we sure that the cures currently being proposed aren't worse than the problem they're supposed to solve?"

But see, here we go again: here I am getting bogged down in a tedious and irrelevant non-argument of the kind the Warmists are always setting up in order to distract lay readers from more pertinent issues: like the fact that wind farms are just crap; that the evidence for catastrophic man-made global warming just hasn't materialised; that the polar bears aren't endangered; and so on.

Props to Dana Nuccitelli – he is, like his fellow climate activist Bob Ward – an absolute master of this straw man distraction technique. The term for it is "Clown Dancing" and Nuccitelli is the veritable Coco-and-Ronald-McDonald-in-a-sticky-embrace-with-Nureyev of the coulroterpsichorean art.

Anyway, all this is by the by. Another of the techniques used by Nuccitelli and his ilk is the "funded by Big Oil" meme. This is the silly notion, popularised by the likes of Al Gore and Michael Mann, that the main reason we climate sceptics say the pesky sceptical things we do is because we're paid to say so by various oil interests. Here is Nuccitelli in his Guardian column only last week on sceptical stalwart Pat Michaels: "Michaels has admitted that his funding comes heavily from the fossil fuel industry"

(Something which, incidentally, Michaels denies. Since August 1 all of his salary has been paid by the Cato Institute. So, add "great fact-checking" to Dana's list of non-skills).

In truth, the exact opposite is more commonly the case. Few corporate interests are quite so heavily in bed with Big Green as Big Oil – as you'll shortly be seeing when I do a number on Shell and its highly dubious behaviour re the UK shale gas industry – and it seems the hypocritical and disingenuous clown-dancer extraordinaire Nuccitelli is no exception.

He has tried to keep it quiet. But there's no – what's the word? Oh yeah…. – denying it: green activist Dana Nuccitelli is in the pay of Big Oil.


How to impress like Clive Hamilton

Tony Thomas on phony Greenie credentials

A bit of a loser myself, I like perving on the credentials of my betters. For example, I noticed last year that the official biography of the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr Rajendra Pachauri, said that he “obtained...a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in economics.”

Wow, I thought, not one but two Ph.Ds, both from North Carolina State University, and both in 1974! I emailed the university to check, and got a prompt reply saying, “Yes, he earned two Ph.D’s.” Silly me, to have doubted it.

But 24 hours later, I got a follow-up from the uni press officer, obviously a decent chap, saying that he had checked more closely and his first reply was wrong . In fact Dr Pachauri was awarded only one Ph.D., for combined study in industrial engineering and economics, he said.

I alerted the IPCC about its misleading claim that Pachauri earned two Ph.D’s but the IPCC has, 18 months later, still not got around to correcting it. Busy people, I guess.

My next foray into credentialism involved everyone’s favorite guru, Dr Clive Hamilton AM FRSA.

Dr Clive AM FRSA is an Australian public intellectual, according to his own website and a host of other sources, including his publisher Allen & Unwin.

As a global warming alarmist, he is part of the Weber-barbecue-like tripod of Australian public intellectuals, the other two kettle legs being of course Dr Tim Flannery and Professor Robert Manne. I wondered, re Clive, who ‘public intellectuals’ were. I guess Jean Paul Sartre’s definition, “the moral conscience of their age” seems the best fit. After all, Clive stood for the Greens in 2009 and his “AM” [Medal of the Order of Australia] is a clear-cut 2009 honor for his service to the Left on climate-change policy, sustainability and societal trends.

But what’s with that “FRSA”? It looks a bit like that top science gong, “Fellow of the Royal Society” but actually stands for “Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts”, a different UK body. Being an FRSA seems like something special, since it always seems to be tagged to Clive’s profiles.

However, FRSA is a title you can actually buy on-line. About 27,000 people have done this, the current fee being $A123 as a one-off and $A255 a year.

Last March I put in a test application for an FRSA, for convenience using the name Kim Jong Un, of Pyongyang. The RSA website promised a confirmation within 12 working days.

I got emailed back a form from a Michael Ambjorn, Head of Fellowship at the RSA London headquarters, saying “Although we don’t contact all referees, some may be contacted for a character reference request.” I nominated Clive, his bestie Robert Manne and Ray Finkelstein QC, without knowing of course whether they would support or criticise Mr Kim’s application. “Watch this space”, I told Quadrant Online readers.

“So then what happened?” I hear you cry. I’m afraid I baulked at the first hurdle, which was remitting the required $378 (Quadrant Online tends to be dismissive of its contributors’ expense claims).

The RSA however remained keen to get the money, and after a pause, I got a pleading letter from its Fellowship Development Coordinator Mark Hall:

“Dear Mr Jong Un,

We noted that you downloaded an application form to become a Fellow of the RSA, and I am just following up to find out if there is anything we can do to help you with your application.

I have included a reminder about the RSA below, but please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss Fellowship in more detail... "

There followed some hard-sell for Mr Jong Un about the advantages of meeting the other 27,000 Fellows, sharing skills for charity, generating ideas “that aim to have a positive social impact”, and so on. Again, I baulked at remitting the $378.

Then I got a further RSA begging letter for Mr Jong Un, “just following up”, as Mark Hall put it. He invited Mr Jong Un to connect with recent Fellows such as Antoinette Saxer FRSA, who is “currently working on the upcoming Good Fashion Show which focuses on eco-ethical and responsible fashion. She talks about why eco-fashion inspires her and what she would like to connect to other Fellows.”

Well, OK, Mr Jong Un is a bit of a fashion icon with his funky, centre-parted hair-do, and he did star in a production of Grease when a teen at Berne International School. He would doubtless appreciate my signing him up as a FRSA, but I felt guilty about further wasting Mark Hall’s time. I sent Mark a reply:

“Hi, Mark,

Thanks for your reminder. I have decided not to join your RSA after all as I am very busy smiting the double-dealing imperialist running-dog lackeys in the United States.


Kim Jong-un, Dear Leader of the People's Democratic Republic of Korea.”

As Hamlet put it, the rest was silence.


Britain Scaling Back Wind Power As Shale Revolution Shakes Green Energy Policy

Tim Webb

Gas prices in Britain could halve after 2030 because of the global shale gas revolution, according to a report that is at odds with the latest government forecasts.

Surging shale gas production in the United States and China and lower oil prices mean that gas prices will fall from nearly 70p a therm today to 60p by the end of the decade and then rise gently, according to a report by Navigant.

The consultancy was commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to study the impact that booming global unconventional gas production will have on UK prices over the next 20 years.

Its findings contrast with DECC forecasts, also published yesterday, in which prices will rise to 73½p over the same period. Under Navigant’s best-case scenario, in which Britain and other parts of Europe become leading shale gas producers after 2020, gas prices would fall to 50p by 2030 and to 35p soon thereafter.

Analysts said that the findings further undermine the Government’s economic justification for building expensive wind farms and nuclear reactors, which is based on an assumption that fossil fuel prices will keep rising so consumers will eventually save money.

DECC’s publication of the forecasts coincided with additional details on how it plans to subsidise a new wave of low-carbon forms of electricity generation to meet ambitious environmental targets and keep the lights on.

Ministers have argued that despite the high upfront cost of building nuclear reactors and wind farms, they will work out cheaper in the long run compared with gas because they believe that prices will rise.

But if Navigant is correct and prices fall, consumers will not fully benefit through cheaper energy bills because under the Government’s plans gas plants will mainly be used as back-up for wind farms when the wind does not blow.

Peter Atherton, a Liberum Capital analyst, said that the Government had failed to take into account properly the impact of the shale oil and gas phenomena of the past few years.

“The Government’s economic case for decarbonising has not changed,” he said. “It’s based on the premise that fossil fuels are becoming increasingly scarce and will push up prices. This argument now looks perilously weak.

“The chance of it not being the case has maybe gone up from 20 per cent to 50 or 60 per cent because of the impact of shale oil and gas. But despite this development, the policy has not changed one iota.”

A DECC spokesman stuck by the Government’s official forecasts, pointing out that its scenario for gas prices is as low as 42.2p by the next decade. “Forecasting gas prices is extremely challenging,” he said. “Most analysts say that gas prices will remain firm over the long term.”

The Government also appeared to scale back its offshore wind programme, which spooked the industry. Last month officials forecast that Britain’s capacity of 3.3 gigawatts could increase to between 12GW and 16GW by the end of the decade. But under one scenario published yesterday, only 9GW would be in operation by the end of 2030.

Even under a central scenario, only 18GW would be installed by then, suggesting that the Government believes the construction of new offshore wind farms will slow markedly in the next decade.

Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, an energy trade association, warned: “The Government risks undermining confidence by scaling back on its ambitions. The scenarios set out today show that Government is still in mixed minds about the role of renewables.”




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


23 July, 2013

Quo vadis, Marc Morano?

Marc, that great apostle to the gentiles, seems to have fallen rather silent. His frequent mailouts were a joy to all us skeptics. Alas, however, we hear from him much less frequently these days. Does he have health problems? Has he fallen in love? I would gladly commiserate with him in both cases if he should care to reveal the source of his absences.

The sorry science of a U.S. Senator

{Some] Residents in Connecticut continue to call for action today — after meeting with legislators yesterday on the issue of climate change.

The recent heat wave and air quality warnings have residents and officials concerned.

The state has been at the center of several significant weather events in the past two years — culminating with multiple tornadoes touching down so far this summer.

From superstorm Sandy to massive snow fall — the state’s two senators addressed activists to show that they have a plan.

“This is not in doubt…this…these weather trends and these,” said Senator Chris Murphy. “Storms are caused by increased levels of carbon pollutants.”


There is no doubt that carbon pollutants -- i.e. soot -- do play a significant role in climate but who knew that they cause storms and tornadoes?

Waiting For The Warming

Looking back at what was reported in the late 90s and the early years of this century everyone was expecting the rise in global temperature seen in the 90s to continue at an IPCC sanctioned rate of 0.3 deg C per decade. Only years later in the face of no temperature rise was it mentioned that what might have been meant was an average rate of 0.3 deg C per decade, sometimes it could be less, sometimes more. Hold onto your hats it was implied, today’s slower rate would soon be replaced by a much larger one, as part of regression to the mean.

In other words we had been extraordinary lucky that the global surface temperature has not risen in about 17 years. A few years ago the Met Office said that a ten-year hiatus occurred about every eight decades in climate simulations, and a fifteen-year one never. Since then others have suggested a 15-year one could be every ten decades or so. It would be a fair observation that as the global temperature standstill continues, the estimates of its importance seems to diminish in some quarters. If you try hard enough some model can always be found to suggest it’s just a fluctuation.

But think how lucky we have been. Since global surface temperatures started rising in about 1980 we have had a 15-year period of ‘average’ warming followed by an unusual 15-year period of no warming. The second 15-year period has, say, a chance of occurring of about, being generous, one in fifteen. So any sample of 30-year climate simulations shows us that reality has been a low probability outcome. What if the standstill continues for 20 years? Two, one in eight probability decades back-to-back!

The science journal Nature said only last week that the global temperature standstill “is one of the biggest mysteries in climate science.”

So many climate modelers have been waiting, with apparently increasing frustration, for the upward trend to recur. It’s in their models you see. The very ones they find very hard to tweek to reproduce a 15-year hiatus. The exercise is an important one, for it demonstrates, or undermines, faith in climate models. Can they reproduce the standstill, and predict its end?

Well no, not yet. Since 2007, the Met Office Hadley Centre has produced a decadal forecast every year, out for the next 5 to 10 years, as part of its advice to the UK Government. In 2007 (at which time the current global temperature standstill had already been noticed) Smith et al predicted that 2014 would be 0.3 deg C warmer than 2004, and that half the years after 2009 would be hotter than the Super El Nino year 1998.

It obviously wasn’t, there has been no change in global temperature. The best way to regard such near-term predictions of global temperature is that they are a work in progress, experimental, and not to rely on the results they have produced so far. I hope the UK government took the advice in that manner.

Nobody Expects…

Since then decadal forecasting has not come of age. They generally set out predicting little change over the next few years (because the global temperature moves slowly) and then an increase. They initially appear good, but then fail spectacularly.

Meanwhile the expectation that things will change continues. Each year for 13 years the Met Office forecast a warmer next year than actually happened 12 out of 13 times.

The most recent Met Office decadal forecast was issued in December 2012. According to them it showed, “that the Earth is expected to maintain the record warmth that has been observed over the last decade, and furthermore a substantial proportion of the forecasts show that new record global temperatures may be reached in the next 5 years.” It’s the same scenario. It starts the same, and after a few years gets warmer.

Note that a record ‘may’ be reached in the next few years. When journalists said this meant probably 5 more years of no global temperature change – a perfectly reasonable interpretation – the Met Office objected saying that the media had got it wrong!

Here’s my forecast. This year, 2013, will not be a record breaker. There might be a new record after 2014 but it will be due to an El Nino and not underlying global warming. If it does start to warm, taking into account El Nino effects, It will take about five years at least to establish that it is significant, even with record breakers.

What if the standstill continues? Phil Jones famously said that models were in trouble after 15 years hiatus. Some scientists have said that if the global temperature doesn’t rise in the next five years they will admit everything they know about climate science was wrong! Some have said that there could be another 30 years of no warming and it will make no difference. In five years time the UK will be starting the run-up to a new General Election. If the temperature still hasn’t gone up by then the politicians’ situation will be an interesting one to watch.

Just like Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition nobody expected the current standstill in global surface temperature.


The Greens Can’t Defy Gravity - They Are Finished

Tim Montgomerie

Seven years ago, pulled along by huskies, David Cameron visited a Norwegian glacier. Vote blue, he implored, and go green. One year later Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister of Australia after identifying climate change as the “greatest moral challenge of our time”. Climate change campaigners interpreted his victory as one of seismic importance and governments across Europe rushed to pour money into the renewable energy sector. Then in 2008 along came Barack Obama. The wicked George W. Bush was replaced with a president who promised to stop global warming. Hurrah!

And, for a period, Mr Obama seemed determined to deliver. Here, after all, was the president, some would have us believe, who could walk on water. One year into his blessed reign he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize without having secured peace in any part of the world. He was top of the pops in global opinion surveys. Just about every world leader wanted to be photographed alongside him.

Super-Obama’s great opportunity to save the planet came in 2009 at the Copenhagen climate change summit. He was at the height of his political powers. His Democratic party controlled all of Washington: the presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate. And yet Copenhagen ended in the same way as almost every other climate change summit of recent times: in failure. Having failed to persuade members of his own party to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Mr Obama also failed to persuade the governments of New Delhi, Beijing and Brasília.

The writing may have been on the wall in 2009, but the green movement has soldiered on. Theirs, they believed, was a moral mission of such importance that nothing would or should get in their way. Whatever the economic, social or political price they were determined to succeed. The doubts of sceptics like me could always be ignored, but when the politicians who once championed green politics are in retreat it is perhaps time for even ecological diehards to get real.

And in the past ten days one of the greenest of green politicians has to all intents, constructions and purposes given up. Last week Australia’s green movement suffered a defeat at least as big as those of the country’s cricket and rugby teams. Mr Rudd announced that he would ditch the carbon tax that had threatened to consign his Labor Party to one of the worst defeats in its history.

All over the world green politicians are presiding over similar climbdowns. From Washington to London, shale gas rather than any renewable technology is seen as the future. Even nations such as Germany and Spain, which led the march to green energy, are slashing unaffordable subsidies to the renewables industry. Lord Lawson of Blaby has claimed that the average share price of companies in the renewable sector has fallen by 80 per cent over five years. “One renewable company after another is going bankrupt,” he declared.

The heavy cost of green energy policies might have been justifiable if they had delivered results, but they haven’t. Since the Kyoto treaty on climate change, global emissions have continued to rise. Since 1990 they have increased by about 50 per cent. China’s increase in emissions has been 25 times greater than the reduction by the EU’s core nations. In so far as Europe has actually met its environmental obligations it has only done so by exporting industrial capacity (and jobs). Once the environmental impact of imported goods has been added to its carbon footprint Europe has clearly failed to keep its environmental promises.

One commentator, Bj * rn Lomborg, spelt out the futility of Europe’s unilateral environmentalism. Germany’s efforts to combat climate change might, he calculated, just possibly delay a rise in global temperatures by 37 hours, but that delay will have cost German taxpayers and consumers more than $100 billion in the form of renewable subsidies and higher electricity costs. That’s about $3 billion an hour.

Green enthusiasts are kidding themselves if they blame the global economic slump for the failure of climate change policies. Their policies were always an attempt to defy economic gravity. No half-decent politician in any part of the developing world was ever going to delay economic progress by embracing expensive energy sources. Any policies that prevent a clinic in India from being able to refrigerate medicines or a student in China from being able to read at night were always destined to fail.

I am not one of those people who deny that the climate might be changing. I don’t feel qualified to question the majority of scientists who insist that warming is both real and man-made. My objection to global warming policies is more practical. They aren’t succeeding in cutting emissions and they aren’t going to succeed until so-called clean energy is similar in cost to conventional energy. Until then — and we should be investing in green technologies in the meantime — the demands of millions of wealthy green campaigners will continue to be overwhelmed by the demand from billions of poor people for economic growth and the social justice that it affords them.

Two decades of green policies haven’t just failed to stop global warming. Old age pensioners in Britain and in other developed countries have been forced to bear electricity bills inflated by renewable subsidies. Blue-collar workers have lost their jobs as energy-intensive manufacturing companies have relocated overseas. Beautiful landscapes have been ruined by bird-chopping wind turbines.

There have also been huge opportunity costs. What could world leaders have achieved if they hadn’t spent the past 25 years investing so much money and summitry on global warming? In a brilliant book — How to Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place— Mr Lomborg has documented how politicians could have been tackling more pressing problems facing the world’s poorest people. Action on HIV/Aids, for example, the provision of micro nutrients to hungry children, the control of malaria, guarantees of clean water and the liberalisation of trade would all have been better uses of politicians’ time and taxpayers’ money.

Many of Britain’s politicians — notably the Chancellor, George Osborne — know all of this. But outside of last week’s welcome but overdue encouragement of fracking, Britain’s statute book is still creaking under the weight of yesteryear’s laws and their commitments to invest in expensive green energies. Until those laws are repealed British businesses and consumers will be paying a very high price for no earthly benefit.


How Climate Change Is Fueling A Rise In Deadly Diseases

But if the climate is not changing, how can it be doing so? Average global temperatures have been static for 17 years and the changes noted below are recent. The galoot below just assumes what he has to prove. He is writing for parishoners of his Warmist church only

In the summer of 2012, the mosquito-borne West Nile virus made a surprising comeback in America. In Dallas, the most affected region, 400 people contracted the disease and 19 of them died. That came as a shock to public health officials, since West Nile virus was thought to be in such precipitous decline that it was practically eradicated.

Now, a little detective work has led epidemiologists to the reason for its resurgence: warmer winters and wetter springs. In other words, the consequences of global climate change are fueling West Nile. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Health officials expect the number of people contracting other infectious diseases to rise right alongside global temperatures.

The diseases that are propagated by climate change tend to come in fungal, algal, tick-borne, and mosquito-borne forms. For instance, dengue fever — which causes a high fever, painful head and body aches, and rashes — will likely continue infecting Americans in hot and humid climates, as well as regions that are close to warming oceans:

That’s because warmer waters allow mosquitoes, which are the primary vessels for dengue fever transmission, to breed and live more freely. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Mosquito species such as the Anopheles gambiae complex, A. funestus, A. darlingi, Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes aegypti are responsible for transmission of most vector-borne diseases, and are sensitive to temperature changes as immature stages in the aquatic environment and as adults.”

Mother Jones notes that warming oceans also affect aquatic wildlife like reef fish. Dangerous algal blooms, which are caused by warmer waters and dying coral reefs, can infect fish that eventually makes its way into the human food chain. In 2007, nine North Carolina residents contracted ciguatera, or fish poisoning, from infected fish that had been caught off the coast of Florida.

But it’s not just coastal and humid regions that are feeling the effects of diseases that are propped up by climate change. In the western United States, states like New Mexico, Arizona, and California are experiencing an inexplicable rise in Valley fever, which causes head and neck aches, serious respiratory problems, has no cure or vaccine, and can be lethal. The condition is caused by fungus that resides in spores in the soil that are lifted off of the ground due to dry weather that is a consequence of global warming-related drought.

Furthermore, illnesses that currently impact other countries could flourish in the United States if they were to find their way here. Rift Valley fever — which causes fever, vertigo, and neck stiffness — is also spread through mosquitoes.

Public health officials in Europe and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have publicly warned that populations should prepare for a rise in these diseases as a consequence of global climate change. But currently, only eight states have taken measures to prepare to combat the public health consequences of climate change.


Anti-Agriculture Environmental Activists

An estimated one hundred people braved scorching outdoor temperatures to attend a memorial service earlier this month. The honorees, however, were not heroes, community figures, or even human. They were bees apparently killed by accident in Wilsonville, Ore. Deemed a "bee kill," the insects were found dead in a Target parking lot after a pesticide was sprayed on trees infested with aphids.

Media attention to the incident has been heightened by anti-agricultural pesticide activists trying to score political points off the dead bugs. According to experts, however, the problem wasn't the pesticide, it was the application.

"The mistake was that the trees were sprayed while they were in full bloom," said Dr. Dewey Caron, an affiliate professor of horticulture at Oregon State University. The pesticide was sprayed during a window of time in which bees were most attracted to the trees. "It was a bad oversight," he said. "They should well have been aware that there could have been some collateral damage on some unintended targets."

It turns out that failing to read and follow the labels is a big threat to bees. According to Tim Wessels, president of a beekeeper association in Portland, improper use of legal retail pesticides contribute to the death of four out of every 10 urban pollinating bees. Bees play an important role in pollinating many agricultural crops, from fruits and nuts such as oranges, blueberries, apples and almonds, to row crops such cotton, canola, and soy.

Instead of blaming the apparently inept users, the Oregon Department of Agriculture is blaming an entire class of pesticides. The agency has instituted a six-month ban on spraying any plants with any product containing dinotefuran, the active ingredient in the pesticide, Safari, thought responsible for the dead bees. In its statement of justification, the department illogically claims that the temporary ban will protect pollinating insects till their investigation is complete.

As long as people fail to heed product labels, misuse will have consequences. This is true whether the label warns, "do not ingest" or "not for use on blooming crops or weeds." By banning products containing dinotefuran, the Oregon agriculture department is blaming a product for simple (and blatant) human error. That's like banning electricity because improper use can cause electrocution. While it is truly unfortunate that bees were killed by misuse of a safe product, subsequent regulatory over-reach over the deaths is a different matter.

Why the hysteria? Activists, already engaged in litigation, lobbying, media campaigns and fundraising are seeking a broad ban on the class of pesticides that were misused in Oregon. With bee memorial services, Facebook pages in honor of the dead bees, and Twitter hash tags, they've created an environment where their advocacy-driven claims are taken at face value.

Consider the wildly differing claims about the number of bees actually killed. Estimates have ranged from 25,000 to more than 50,000. A spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture admitted that the agency never even attempted to count the bees. Instead, they relied entirely on a claim by an advocacy group, the Xerces Society, which reached the 50,000 number by extrapolating based on a count of bees in one confined area. Now, that unchallenged estimate has turned into unquestioned fact which became the basis for drastic regulatory action.

Adding to the absurdity is the fact that in the name of protecting pollinators, activists are in fact going to harm them. If activists who prefer fear to facts had their way, the class of pesticides to which dinetefuran belongs - " neonicotinoids - would be banned.

Nevermind the fact that "neonics" are a safer alternative to other pesticides, which ironically, activists also sought to ban. As environmental economist Richard Tren explains, "If neonicotinoids are banned, farmers will have to use older insecticides such as organophosphates, which are potentially more harmful to the environment. These older insecticides have been banned in some countries. Without alternative or better means of pest control, crop yields would likely decrease. More land would be needed for agriculture, leaving less habitat for wildlife - including wild bees."

By banning a safe product, the Oregon agriculture department is playing into activists' hands who want to demonize an entire class of pesticides that are safe when used properly.

The problem in this bee kill wasn't the product, it was the misuse. Instead of demanding that a useful product that has been tested extensively be banned, activists would do more for bees by mounting a public information campaign about the importance of heeding label instructions. But they haven't, and they won't. Perhaps it is time to question not the pesticides, but the activists.


The Arrogance of a Well-Fed Society

By Alex B. Berezow, a Greenie with a conscience

Every time I write an article about population growth or poverty, I receive at least one e-mail insisting that there are too many humans on the planet. That erroneous statement is usually followed up with a not-so-subtle suggestion that letting a few people starve to death wouldn’t be a terrible thing, but instead would actually make the planet a safer, richer and more sustainable place.

Not many things shock me anymore. But the arrogance and callousness of a well-fed society toward those who are less fortunate always leaves me stunned.

What is particularly frustrating is that both sides of the political spectrum claim to be the true champions of the poor – while simultaneously endorsing policies that disproportionately harm them.

The Left repeatedly insists that climate change is the world’s #1 problem, and this has distracted us from the world’s actual #1 problem: Poverty. About 1.3 billion people don’t have electricity, meaning they also don’t have adequate access to food, healthcare or the Internet. Essentially, such communities are condemned to a life of indefinite poverty. Providing them with cheap electricity is a compassionate, progressive thing to do.

Or at least it was at one time. In an article posted on New Geography, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus explain how the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) “established the progressive principle that cheap energy for all was a public good, not a private enterprise.”

Why is it necessary to make cheap electricity a public good? Because it helps end the vicious cycle of poverty. The authors describe the stark reality of life in the American South in the 1930s:

Eighty years ago, the Tennessee Valley region was like many poor rural communities in tropical regions today. The best forests had been cut down to use as fuel for wood stoves. Soils were being rapidly depleted of nutrients, resulting in falling yields and a desperate search for new croplands. Poor farmers were plagued by malaria and had inadequate medical care. Few had indoor plumbing and even fewer had electricity.

The TVA helped change this. Cheap hydroelectric power lifted residents out of poverty and even helped restore the environment.

Therefore, providing cheap electricity to the 1.3 billion people without it should be a top global priority. Solar and wind power should be implemented if possible, but not all locations will be amenable to that technology. And that means it will be necessary to burn more fossil fuels in some locations, even though more people will die as a result of air pollution. But given a choice between a life of poverty (and all the hazards that come with it) versus a chance at a more prosperous life (albeit one with an increased risk of lung cancer), most people in the developing world would probably choose the latter, even if that upsets climate-obsessed progressives in the rich world.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


22 July, 2013

IPCC ratchets up the hype -- while it reduces its projections

A peek inside the next IPCC assessment

“THAT report is going to scare the wits out of everyone,” said Yvo de Boer recently. He is a former United Nations chief climate negotiator and was talking about the forthcoming fifth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). With two months to go before the assessment is to be published, however, one sign suggests it might be less terrifying than it could have been.

The sign in question is about climate sensitivity. This is the measure used by researchers of how much they expect the world’s average temperature to increase in response to particular increases in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to one table from the unpublished report, which was seen by The Economist (above), at CO2 concentrations of between 425 parts per million and 485 ppm, temperatures in 2100 would be 1.3-1.7°C above their pre-industrial levels. That seems lower than the IPCC’s previous assessment, made in 2007. Then, it thought concentrations of 445-490 ppm were likely to result in a rise in temperature of 2.0-2.4°C.

The two findings are not strictly comparable. The 2007 report talks about equilibrium temperatures in the very long term (over centuries); the forthcoming one talks about them in 2100. But the practical distinction would not be great so long as concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse-gas emissions were stable or falling by 2100. It is clear that some IPCC scientists think the projected rise in CO2 levels might not have such a big warming effect as was once thought.

There are several caveats. The table comes from a draft version of the report, and could thus change. It was put together by the IPCC working group on mitigating climate change, rather than the group looking at physical sciences. It derives from a relatively simple model of the climate, rather than the big complex ones usually used by the IPCC. And the literature to back it up has not yet been published.

Still, over the past year, several other papers have suggested that views on climate sensitivity are changing. Both the 2007 IPCC report and a previous draft of the new assessment reflected earlier views on the matter by saying that the standard measure of climate sensitivity (the likely rise in equilibrium temperature in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration) was between 2°C and 4.5°C, with 3°C the most probable figure. In the new draft, the lower end of the range has been reduced to 1.5°C and the “most likely” figure has been scrapped. That seems to reflect a growing sense that climate sensitivity may have been overestimated in the past and that the science is too uncertain to justify a single estimate of future rises.

If this does turn out to be the case, it would have significant implications for policy. Many countries’ climate policies are guided by the IPCC’s findings. They are usually based on the idea (deriving in part from the IPCC) that global temperatures must not be allowed to increase by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and that in order to ensure this CO2 concentrations should not rise above 450 ppm. The draft table casts doubt on how solid the link really is between 450 ppm and a 2°C rise. It remains to be seen whether governments conclude from this that it is safe to let CO2 concentrations climb even further, or whether (as some will doubtless argue) a 2°C rise was too much anyway and it is now possible to aim for less.


Food prices forecast to treble as world population soars

Doesn't this brainless nut know any history? Prophecies of his sort go back to Malthus and are always wrong. If increasing prosperity is going to lead to food shortages, can he explain how China has become a net food EXPORTER since it abandoned communism? Unleash Chinese farmers on just one of Australia's huge empty spaces (e.g. Cape York Peninsula) and you would have the biggest food glut ever seen

Food prices tipped to treble over the next 20 years as an explosion in the world's population triggers a global fight for good.

A government advisor said everyday products such as cocoa and meat could become relative luxuries by the 2040s.

Professor Tim Benton, head of Global Food Security working group, added there could be shortages in the UK in the future as the emerging middle class in south-east Asia sparks a revolution in "food flows" such as the trade in grain and soya around the world.

Professor Benton, from the University of Leeds, told the Daily Telegraph: "Food is going to be competed for on a global scale. There's been a lot written about where food prices are going to go but they are certainly going to double, with some trebling. It's not just fruit and vegetables, but everything."

The shock forecast came as the chief executive of Tesco, Philip Clarke, warned the era of cheap food was over because of the forecast surge in demand.

In an interview over the weekend, the supermarket chief said: "Over the long run I think food prices and the proportion of income spent on food may well be going up."

The world's population is tipped to rise from 7 billion to 9.3 billion by 2050. Two years ago, Oxfam warned food prices were set to double by 2030 and that millions more could suffer food shortages because of a "perfect storm" of ecological and sociological factors.

Food inflation in the UK has been running around 4 per cent for much of the year, and is among the highest in the EU after poor harvests last year and the rising cost of feed. Fruit prices in June 7.5 per cent more expensive than a year ago. The UK already imports nearly half the food it consumes.

Separately, Birds Eye warned this year's pea harvest could be hit by the heatwave, raising fears of higher prices for one of Britain's favourite vegetables.


Delaware’s “future weather”

Mourn for Delaware. They are getting burned by phony science and authoritarian power grabs

Paul Driessen and David R. Legates

During this hot, wet summer, a “national climate expert” recently told Delawareans that they can expect even hotter summers – with a climate like Savannah, Georgia’s – by the end of the century. The culprit, naturally: runaway global warming.

Savannah residents are long accustomed to their climate and, thanks to air conditioning and other modern technologies, are better able to deal with the heat and humidity. Nevertheless, the impact on Delaware will be disastrous, Dr. Katherine Hayhoe claims. Nonsense.

Her forthcoming report promises to be no different than other proclamations that persistently predict dire consequences from climate change – and then present taxpayers with a hefty bill. In this scenario, the State’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) paid $46,000 for her report, presumably to suggest that “independent scholars” support the state’s positions.

The preliminary release of her report reads like the script from a bad disaster movie – think The Day After Tomorrow and An Inconvenient Truth. Like them, it also plays fast and loose with the facts.

It fails to mention the extreme cold that many places around the globe experienced recently. Europe and Russia in particular suffered through bitter cold the past two winters. The report likewise ignores the fact that average global temperatures have not risen at all over the last sixteen years; in fact, Earth has actually cooled slightly during the past decade.

For its really scary worst-case scenario, Dr. Hayhoe says Delaware’s temperatures will rise astronomically in coming decades: with more than two full months of endless days above 95°F and a hundred-fold increase in days with temperatures at or above 100°F by 2100. “Trends to more extreme highs and fewer extreme lows already are apparent,” Dr. Hayhoe asserts. Except they are not.

Data from 970 weather stations across the United States reveal that more record daily maximum air temperatures were set in the 1930s than in any recent decade, and no increase in frequency of higher temperatures has been observed since 1955. The Delaware State Climatologist examined New Castle County Airport records in Wilmington and found no long-term trend in either the total number of days or the number of consecutive days with maximum air temperature above 90°F.

The same can be said for days where temperatures remain below freezing.

Globally, daytime high temperatures do not show significant warming – and most of the warming that has been observed is confined to nighttime low temperatures. Nighttime lows are driven by turbulence (or lack thereof) near the surface, not by the accumulation of energy related to CO2 warming of the deep atmosphere.

By contrast, maximum daily temperature is a measure of the energy content of the deep atmosphere, and is thus a much better measure of the warming due to greenhouse gases. The lack of a signal in maximum temperature suggests that the rate of warming due to CO2 is relatively small – and certainly much smaller than climate models suggest.

As for precipitation, Dr. Hayhoe claims that both floods and droughts will increase, with “more rain arriving as heavy downpours, and more dry periods in between.” This assertion was dispelled in a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on extreme events, released last summer.

The IPCC report concluded that “in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense or shorter; for example in central North America.” Similarly, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has produced plots that show which parts of the United States are classified as moderate to extreme for dryness and wetness. While both conditions show considerable variability, neither exhibits a significant trend. NOAA also concludes that snowfall records show no long-term trend, and recent record snowfalls are the result of natural variability.

Why should Delaware’s or the nation’s future be any different than the past fifty years of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations? Dr. Hayhoe’s bases her extreme scenarios on climate models – the same models that have predicted major temperature trends that have not materialized; greatly exaggerated short-term trends in rainfall, droughts and violent storms; and failed to predict the lack of warming since 1998. So why should we believe them now?

The real reason behind this report is to provide the State with the justification to enact draconian measures to control Delawareans’ energy use and provide major subsidies for “alternative” and “renewable” energy projects. Delaware Secretary of the Environment and Energy Collin O’Mara says, “We need to make sure we have good science driving our decision-making in the years to come.” Apparently, $46,000 has bought the State precisely the “science” he wanted to hear.

O’Mara came to Delaware in 2009, as part of Governor Markell’s administration. Billed as “the youngest state cabinet official in the nation,” O’Mara is a self-proclaimed climate-change and energy “entrepreneur.” During his tenure in Delaware, he has spearheaded the administration’s efforts on “climate change mitigation,” renewable energy subsidies and “sustainable development.”

During the last 4-1/2 years, the Markell Administration has “invested” in Fisker Automotive, leaving the State’s citizens on the hook to pay for an automobile assembly plant that has created zero new jobs and produced zero cars.

Bloom Energy, which hails from the same town as O’Mara (San Jose, CA), has also been the happy beneficiary of enormous State subsidies and exceptions from environmental regulations. Delaware now labels natural gas as a renewable resource, for example – but only if it is burned in a Bloom fuel cell. This enables the State to funnel taxpayer and ratepayer money from renewable energy credits to Bloom. To top it off, if the State ever decides to renege on the deal, the legislation requires that the State immediately pay Bloom twenty years worth of profits.

O’Mara has also been busy with rule-making by executive fiat. Without any public discussion or debate, and without any vote by the State legislature, O’Mara signed into law new “green” energy standards that make the First State’s emission rules even more stringent than Federal regulations, via a clever process known as prospective incorporation. Through this, all provisions from the California Code of Regulations are automatically “updated,” to ensure that Delaware’s Code is consistent with California’s.

That means any changes to the California Code implemented by the most environmentally dogmatic, job-killing and bankrupt state in the Union are immediately and completely binding via Delaware regulations. With no presentation to the people, no discussion or vote by the General Assembly, and not even any case-by-case intervention by Delaware’s executive branch, California regulations are automatically the law in Delaware. With the stroke of the pen, Delaware has surrendered its sovereignty to California.

Armed with this new “scientific” report, what draconian measures might Mr. O’Mara and the Markell Administration have in store for the citizens of Delaware? Time alone will tell. However, given their track record thus far, Delawareans are going to get burned – and not by global warming.

Even worse, the same sneaky shenanigans are being played out in other states, in Washington, and all over the world, through the UN, EU and environmentalist pressure groups – in the name of saving the planet from computer model and horror movie disasters. These are bigger power grabs than anything King George III tried. We the People need to take notice, and take action.

Via email

Wind Turbines: America’s Vast, Ugly Sculpture Garden

Brilliant scientific minds are not confined to the annals of scientific history. I have been blessed to have had a career in physics first influenced by a nodding acquaintance with Albert Einstein while a student at Princeton, then watching Hyman Rickover build our nuclear Navy, and finally almost having the opportunity to work with Edward Teller on what would have been his last book. Yet none have made a greater impression on me nor served as better mentors than Howard Hayden, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Connecticut. Howard produces a monthly newsletter titled The Energy Advocate in which he attempts to explain in clear terms the insanity of much of our nation's energy policies as they attempt to rewrite the laws of physics that control the extraction of energy from our planet and universe.

This article, focusing on the amazing absurdity of ever believing that wind energy could efficiently contribute to a central electrical grid, is drawn from Hayden’s writings.

Little Justification for Subsidies
Federal taxpayer subsidies for wind power will almost certainly end; the only question is when. It defies logic for wind subsidies and mandates to continue when wind power is so costly, inefficient, and environmentally harmful. I will guess that the insanity could continue for another decade, with more and more industrial wind turbines added to the preexisting turbine blight on the American landscape.

Few of these turbines will last 20 years. Most will break down sooner than that, and most electricity sales contracts will not reap enough income for repairs. Few wind power companies have the financial reserves to dismantle these behemoth lawn sculptures. Just as it has taken massive subsidies to build the vast industrial wind installations, it will likely take massive subsidies to dismantle them. The resulting scene of permanent wind sculptures, monuments to the triumph of political favoritism over science and economics, will be frozen in time like a scene from science fiction—as though giant aliens descended onto our planet only to be frozen in place.

Optimistically, a wind turbine will generate electricity 30 percent of the time. However, we cannot predict when that time will be. A true wind power believer might be willing to do without electricity at the times the wind is not blowing, but the general population will not. During that 30 percent of the time the blades are spinning, conventional power plants still most keep cycling in order to ramp up quickly to compensate for the unpredictable 70 percent of the time when wind turbines are not producing power.

After two decades of huge subsidies for wind energy, nowhere in the world has an array of wind turbines replaced a single conventional power plant.

Limited Power Potential

The amount of power the wind can generate per acre of land is unrelated to the size of the turbines. Doubling the length of turbine blades doubles the power output of the turbine; however, turbines with longer blades must be separated by larger distances.

No matter how much money we invest in wind power technology, we know the earth will give up only an average of 5 kilowatts of electricity from wind energy per acre, which amounts to fully 300 square miles of land necessary to produce the 1000 megawatts generated by a conventional coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plant. Each of these conventional power plants requires merely a few hundred acres of land. This fulfills the average power demand of a city of 700,000 people.

Another inescapable problem for electric grids is that the power generated by a wind turbine varies with the cube of the wind speed. This means when the wind speed doubles – say from 10 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour – the energy output increases eight fold (2 x 2 x 2). Someone or some computer has to balance these huge variations on the grid by calling on standby generators to produce more or less power to maintain the stability that is so essential to the grid.

Strong winds are no more conducive to wind power generation than light winds. Turbines must shut down in high winds because strong centrifugal forces would tear the blades apart. Wind turbines rely on a fleeting Goldilocks zone of winds that are not too light but not too strong to generate power.

Rampant Structural Problems

Wind turbine infrastructure can be quite problematic. Thousands of mishaps, breakdowns, and accidents have been reported in recent years. The basic concrete foundations are suffering from frequent strains. The wind turbines themselves rarely remain functional after 20 years.

Severe Environmental Harms

Low frequency noise produced by the turbines is driving people from their homes. The turbines are also taking a toll on the environment. The Audubon Society estimates turbines kill more than a million birds per year. No wind farm has ever paid a fine for such environmental destruction, yet oil companies pay by the bird.

For all this environmental destruction, wind turbines fail to deliver the amount of electricity promised. Dirt, grit, and insect residue reduce the efficiency of wind turbine blades. A one millimeter buildup of insect residue on turbine blades reduces wind power generation by as much as 25 percent.

The fate of expensive, inefficient, environmentally destructive wind energy is sealed. The day is soon coming when the public will no longer tolerate such subsidies and mandates.


Americans Want Congress to Stop Obama’s Job-Killing Carbon Regulations

During President Obama’s Climate Speech at Georgetown University, the leader of the executive branch warned opponents of his just announced EPA regulations that “sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it's not going to protect you from the coming storm" and that “we don't have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society."

As it turns out, President Obama was patronizing a plurality of Americans: more people think that Congress should stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s forthcoming regulations than think Congress should allow these regulations to become law, according to a new National Journal poll. Even 35 percent of self-identified Democrats think that Congress should intervene and stop new carbon regulations.

Given the Left’s utilization of the bully pulpit and introduction of false choices – you are either for EPA regulations or are sticking your head in the sand – it is encouraging that so many Americans doubt the Obama Administration’s ability to effectively and fairly implement incredibly costly regulations. The American people’s skepticism is evident in Congress’s strong aversion to pass legislation that would punish carbon-based energy, thereby increasing its cost. It is because of Congress’s explicit refusal to raise electricity prices that President Obama has subverted the legislative branch and unilaterally proposed EPA regulations.

I suspect that the more Americans hear about President Obama’s carbon regulations, the more they will urge Congress to overturn them. While President Obama only publically touted new carbon emissions standards for power plants a few weeks ago, the regulations date back to last year when the EPA proposed carbon emission standards that would effectively banned construction of new coal-fired power plants.

According to the EPA’s own analysis, their new carbon regulation banning coal power plants wouldn’t cost anything, since no new power plants would ever be built. Indeed, the EPA’s draft proposal states that “there will be no construction of new coal-fired generation without CCS [Carbon Capture Storage] by 2030.”

This EPA-deemed “free” regulation is anything but, tens of thousands of workers directly or indirectly employed by the coal industry would have lost their jobs.

More broadly, ratepayers all across the country would have seen their electricity bills increase – 37 percent of America’s electricity was generated from coal-fired power plants in 2012. Although the EPA pulled back this specific proposed regulation fearing that it would not holdup in court, President Obama announced its reintroduction and expansion to include existing power plants in his Georgetown University speech.

Such broad, all-encompassing carbon regulations have the potential to devastate electricity markets and cripple the American economy. A 2012 report released by Senator Inhofe estimates the cost of carbon regulations could be as high as $300-$400 billion, an expense that would be borne by ratepayers, i.e., you.

With President Obama in the White House for a second term, it will be nearly impossible to get the Administration to pull back its regulations. That means the onus to stop these EPA regulations, which is just what the public wants, falls on Congress. If conservatives want to stop Obama’s carbon regulations, we will need to take control of the Senate. Luckily, a number of red state Democrats that endorse the EPA’s policies are running for reelection in 2014: Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

If these Senators’ constituents knew what their so-called representatives were really up to in Washington, DC, they would throw them out in a second. It is the conservative movement’s job to explain these Senators’ duplicity and send them packing. Once we do that, we can stop President Obama’s anti-carbon agenda.


British companies to co-operate in fracking

The water company United Utilities is in talks with shale gas explorer Cuadrilla over locations for fracking and is interested in letting the company explore on its land.

The utility supplies water across the North West, including the Bowland shale licence area where Cuadrilla hopes to resume fracking next year. It is also a major landowner, with 141,000 acres (57,000 hectares) stretching from Cumbria to Crewe.

United Utilities’ business development manager began talks with Cuadrilla within the last couple of months and the companies are “looking at potential opportunities for working together”, a spokeswoman for the water giant confirmed.

Fracking involves pumping large quantities of water along with chemicals and sand into the ground at high pressure to hydraulically fracture the rocks and extract gas trapped within them.

“We are having very early engagement with Cuadrilla to try to understand their requirements,” she said. “The fact that we are a large landowner in the North West means we could possibly help with site selection.”

The spokeswoman said that this could include United Utilities letting Cuadrilla frack on its land, although no specific plans are under discussion yet.

The disclosure comes just days after Water UK, the industry body of which United Utilities is a member, raised fears over fracking and demanded greater engagement with the shale industry.

Water UK said that fracking “could lead to contamination of the water supply with methane gas and harmful chemicals if not carefully planned and carried out” and that it “requires huge amounts of water, which will inevitably put a strain on supplies in areas around extraction sites”.

A United Utilities’ spokeswoman said: “Clearly public health is a top priority but we are encouraged by the Government’s support for shale gas exploration because that means it is committed to a robust regulatory regime that will ensure the public water supply is protected.”

The engagement with Cuadrilla could potentially enable United Utilities to “point Cuadrilla to areas where there are no water supply issues”. It was “doing some very early modelling work”, she said.

The suggestion that United Utilities might want to allow fracking on its land in future could prove controversial. Aside from any fears over the water supply, the land lies “in some of the most scenic and environmentally sensitive areas of north west England”, according to the water group’s website.

United Utilities has supplied water for the one well that Cuadrilla has explored to date, near Blackpool in 2011. The fracking caused two small earth tremors, leading to an 18-month moratorium. Ministers have now thrown their weight behind the industry and last week unveiled tax breaks for shale explorers.

Cuadrilla is in the process of identifying six sites where it hopes to resume fracking next year after securing funding from Centrica in a £160m deal. The British Gas owner took a 25pc stake in its licence.

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We are talking to United Utilities about possible future sites and the timescales for potentially getting water supply to those areas.”




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


21 July, 2013


By Roy W. Spencer, PhD, Earth System Science Center The University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, Alabama 35801

The State of Climate Science

My overall view of the influence of humans on climate is that we probably are having some influence, but it is impossible to know with any level of certainty how much influence. The difficulty in determining the human influence on climate arises from several sources: (1) weather and climate vary naturally, and by amounts that are not currently being exceeded; (2) global warming theory is just that – based upon theory; and (3) there is no unique fingerprint of human caused global warming.

My belief that some portion of recent warming is due to humans is based upon my faith in at least some portion of the theory: that the human contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations has resulted in an estimated 1% reduction in the Earth’s ability to cool to outer space, and so some level of warming can be expected to occur from that change.

Exactly how much warming will occur, however, depends upon something we call “climate sensitivity” (Spencer & Braswell, 2010; 2011), and relatively few researchers in the world – probably not much more than a dozen – have researched how sensitive today’s climate system is based upon actual measurements.

This is why popular surveys of climate scientists and their beliefs regarding global warming have little meaning: very few of them have actually worked on the details involved in determining exactly how much warming might result from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Our most recent peer-reviewed paper on this subject, Spencer & Braswell (2013), has arrived at a climate sensitivity of only 1.3 deg. C for a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, based upon a variety of global measurements, including warming of the global oceans since the 1950s.

This level of warming is below the lower limit of 1.5 deg. C minimum predicted in the last (AR4) IPCC report. It is also in line with (an admitted minority of) other estimates of low climate sensitivity published in the peer review literature.

It should also be noted that the fact that I believe at least some of recent warming is human-caused places me in the 97% of researchers recently claimed to support the global warming consensus (actually, it’s 97% of the published papers, Cook et al., 2013). The 97% statement is therefore rather innocuous, since it probably includes all of the global warming “skeptics” I know of who are actively working in the field.

Skeptics generally are skeptical of the view that recent warming is all human-caused, and/or that it is of a sufficient magnitude to warrant immediate action given the cost of energy policies to the poor. They do not claim humans have no impact on climate whatsoever.

Temperature Changes in the Atmosphere and Ocean

While 2012 was a record warm year in the U.S. (at least in the ~100 years for which we have thermometer records) this was not true of the global average, which has not experienced statistically significant warming since about 1998. This is not surprising since the contiguous U.S. covers only about 2% of the Earth, and persistent regional weather patterns – warm or cold – are responsible for most record weather events.

The only truly global temperature measurements, unaffected by artifacts such as urban heat island effects, are for the bulk atmosphere from Earth-orbiting satellites, the methodology for which John Christy and I developed almost 25 years ago; all other measurements are at points and so are geographically incomplete.

The satellite measurements reveal several significant features which are pertinent to our concern over human-induced climate change (all of the following points are also supported by the alternative version of the satellite-based temperatures from Remote Sensing Systems [RSS]):

1) The magnitude of global-average atmospheric warming between 1979 and 2012 is only about 50% that predicted by the climate models relied upon by the IPCC in their projections of global warming.

2) The level of warming in the most recent 15 year period is not significantly different from zero, despite this being the period of greatest greenhouse gas concentration. This is in stark contrast to claims that warming is “accelerating”.

3) The level of observed tropical atmospheric warming since 1979 is dramatically different from that predicted by climate models; it is below all 73 models we have analyzed the output from

Much more HERE

Senator Barbara Boxer’s Own Experts Contradict Obama On Global Warming

By James Taylor

Expert witnesses called by Sen. Barbara Boxer to testify during Senate Environment and Public Works hearings yesterday contradicted a key assertion made by President Barack Obama on climate change.

Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser less than a month before directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to impose costly new restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions, Obama said, “we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago.”

“I don’t have much patience for people who deny climate change,” Obama added.

However, climate scientists including United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead author Hans von Storch report temperatures have remained essentially flat for the past 10 years, and indeed for the past 15 years. Storch told Der Spiegel that 98 percent of IPCC climate models cannot replicate the prolonged pause in global warming, and IPCC may need to revise its computer models to correct their apparent warming bias.

During yesterday’s Environment and Public Works hearings, Sen. David Vitter asked a panel of experts, including experts selected by Boxer, “Can any witnesses say they agree with Obama’s statement that warming has accelerated during the past 10 years?”

For several seconds, nobody said a word. Sitting just a few rows behind the expert witnesses, I thought I might have heard a few crickets chirping, but I couldn’t tell for sure. We’ll give Obama the benefit of the doubt and count the crickets in the “maybe” camp.

After several seconds of deafening silence, global warming activist Heidi Cullen, who formerly served as a meteorologist for the Weather Channel, attempted to change the subject. Cullen said our focus should be on longer time periods rather than the 10-year period mentioned by Obama. When pressed, however, she contradicted Obama’s central assertion and said warming has slowed, not accelerated.

Several minutes later, Sen. Jeff Sessions returned to the topic and sought additional clarity. Sessions recited Obama’s quote claiming accelerating global warming during the past 10 years and asked, “Do any of you support that quote?”

Again, a prolonged and deafening silence ensued. Neither Cullen nor any of the other experts on the panel spoke a word, not even in an attempt to change the subject.

Boxer may have envisioned her high-profile global warming hearings as an opportunity to build momentum for congressional or EPA action to restrict carbon dioxide emissions. Instead, the very global warming activists she called to serve as expert witnesses delivered a crushing blow to President Obama’s central justification for expensive new restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions.


Something Warmists ignore (They have to)

Following are some comments left by a reader of Climate Depot

Now that global warming seems to have stopped for the past 16 years (which clearly discredits the various computer-climate models--if not showing them to be models of junk science), I would like to make you aware of some under-reported research.

Many months ago, at a community meeting, I met Ezra, and gave him a photo-copy of an article from the British magazine, The New Scientist, and I told him I would contact him in the near future to explain what the research discovered. Unfortunately, I have been too busy, until now, to do so.

The article, by Stephen Battersby: “Meltdown: Why ice ages don't last forever”, is probably the best ever written on the various climate theories on why the atmosphere's temperature cycles up and down. The main discussion revolves around the work of professor Larry Edwards, an earth scientist from The University of Minnesota, who specializes in dating climate events.
Professor Edwards, has been able to show, that the many times in the last few hundred thousand years, when the temperature rose, it did so before CO2 rose.

This is huge, because what he has shown is the previous increases in atmospheric CO2 (as seen in ice cores) were not the cause of global warming--but rather the other way around—past global warmings is the cause of increases in CO2.

This illustrates a classic mistake sometimes made in science, mixing up “cause and effect.” Why did this happen? Because scientists did not have accurate time-lines before Edwards painstakingly worked them out.

What amazes me is that this article is over two years old, from the May 22, 2010 edition of New Scientist and should have upended the entire premise that CO2 causes global warming.

Climatologists should have reacted (as real scientists ordinarily do) and changed their theory (a hypothesis really) to fit the newly discovered facts.

I hope you take the time to read this amazing article-- here is a link to New Scientist to give you a head start in finding it :

This is a “must read” article, which includes other hypotheses for global warming and cooling cycles, and the even includes a hypothesis for the increase and decrease cycles for CO2 (may be caused by ocean corals that release CO2 or absorbs CO2 when the earth warms and cools).

Via email

The heat is on coal electric plants from EPA

By Robert Romano

As the summer heat wave rolls on, electric utilities in localities across the country are asking customers to curb usage to avert brownouts.

With a growing population in the 21st Century, increased demand for electricity is a certainty, particularly in the summer months.

That means more power plants will be needed here in the future.

Instead, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations are threatening to shut down about 285 coal-fired power plants, says a recent analysis from an industry group.

“Regrettably, the number of coal units being forced to close continues to grow,” said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). “Yet, EPA continues to downplay the damage its regulations are causing to the U.S. economy and to the many states that depend on coal for jobs and affordable electricity.”

According to the ACCCE analysis, the hardest hit states are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Indiana. Nationwide, the number of actual plant closures is five times greater than EPA predicted would occur because of its regulations.

“Our country badly needs realistic energy and environmental policies that recognize the important role coal plays by providing affordable and reliable electricity. I hope the next Administrator will bring some balance to EPA’s regulations, but we’ll have to wait and see,” said Duncan.

Yet Gina McCarthy — slated to be the next EPA administrator, replacing Lisa Jackson — is no friend of coal. Nor will she do anything about rolling the agency’s carbon endangerment finding, which ruled that carbon dioxide, a biological gas necessary for the very existence of life, is a “harmful pollutant” under the terms of the Clean Air Act.

Nor will she repeal the EPA’s regional haze rule, carbon restrictions on new and existing power plants, and the “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants” that restricts mercury emissions from plants.

Sue-and-settle arrangements the agency enters with organizations will similarly continue. This is where a group sues demanding that the EPA enforce the law in a new, expanded way and the agency enters into a consent decree with the party, which is signed by a judge. This leaves the agency with new powers under the Clean Air and Water Acts.

And it’s only getting worse.

With all due respect to ACCCE, the problem will not be solved by the next EPA administrator somehow “bring[ing] some balance to EPA’s regulations.”

Nor will “wait and see” prove to be an effective strategy for an industry whose very survival is threatened. The damage is already being done.

Perhaps that is why ACCCE’s Duncan in a June 25 statement warned that if the Obama Administration “continues to adopt more regulations, coal power could cease to exist which would be devastating for our economy.”

It sure would be. That’s why a real fight needs to be waged — and soon.

To get back to normalcy, the already-enacted regulations need to be repealed by Congress. Any future regs should be submitted for congressional approval. And given Obama’s State of the Union threat to continue to pursue even more unilateral executive actions in lieu of climate change legislation, no nominee to the EPA should be confirmed.

And that’s just for starters.

Yet, Senate Republicans appear to have conceded that the agency’s existing rules will remain, to say nothing of the regulations yet to come. In a recent deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, McCarthy’s path to confirmation without a filibuster was paved.

Which means that in the coming years, the American people should expect more rationing, more brownouts, and less electricity from utilities in the summer’s hottest months when we need it the most to keep cool. For, rather than building more power plants, the EPA appears hell-bent on shutting them down.

So, the heat is on coal. The question is what, if anything, anyone is going to do about it. Merely speaking out is no longer cutting it.


$487K Study of Viking Textiles During Little Ice Age To ‘Mitigate Climate Change’

The taxpayer-funded National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $487,049 grant to a Brown University archaeologist for her “three-year study exploring gender, textiles and society in Iceland from the Viking Age (ca. 874-1050) until the early 19th century.”

The "Rags to Riches" project “may also have practical applications in efforts to understand, and possibly mitigate for, the effects of changing climate in different areas of the world,” NSF spokesperson Peter West said in response to an inquiry from

Smith, a research scientist at Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, has been collaborating with other universities and archaeological laboratories in the U.S., as well as museums in Iceland.

Her research “will document and analyze women’s roles and women’s involvement in textile production” in order to “shed new light on women’s power within Icelandic households at different levels of the social system, providing a valuable contribution to social archaeological research in the North Atlantic,” according to the grant abstract.

“Women were also in charge of transforming cloth into clothing and, through that process, produced the most essential items of daily life – clothing, blankets, tents, and other utilitarian items – that buffered Icelanders against a changing climate and often-severe conditions during the Little Ice Age,” principal investigator Michele Smith said in the grant abstract.

The continuing grant was first awarded by NSF on July 1, 2010 and will end on June 30, 2014.

“By exploring the decisions that women made in transforming textiles – both domestic and imported – into clothing, this project will investigate the roles they played in establishing and changing markers of individual, family, regional, and national identity as well as decisions they may have made when facing increasing global climate cooling in the North Atlantic.”

West noted that “this research provides information about a relatively unknown historical phenomenon,” specifically “the historical roles of women in the economy of the North Atlantic over a 1,000-year period.”

When contacted by CNSNews with questions about the relevance of Smith’s research, West noted that congressional legislation supports activities to “Initiate and support specific scientific and engineering activities in connection with matters relating to international cooperation, national security and the effects of scientific and technological applications upon society.”

“The National Science Foundation’s mission and charter, as spelled out in its organic act, is to support fundamental research that adds to the knowledge base of specific disciplines,” said West. “While some NSF-supported research may, in some cases, have immediate benefits to economic activity, this is not the foundation’s role, as defined by congressional mandate,” he noted.

This project was “evaluated and supported as a result of a thorough examination of its intellectual merit and broader impacts in the NSF merit-review process,” West added.


EPA strikes out in anti-fracking campaign

The EPA has worked mightily to demonstrate that oil and natural gas production from hydraulic fracturing causes water contamination, yet it has struck out again.

Although it has backed away from other locations where it originally claimed potential fracking pollution, EPA tried with great fervor to prove fracking caused water contamination near Pavilion, Wyoming.

But once again, it couldn’t. The EPA announced in June it would no longer pursue its investigation but instead will allow the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) to take the lead in the scientific investigation of water quality at the site.

Initial Studies Flawed
The EPA’s initial report alleging potential fracking pollution, released in December 2011, contained numerous errors which it attempted to correct with a second study. The second study was also replete with errors.

Preexisting Water Pollution
If there is anywhere in the United States where the geology and history of oil and natural gas production might lead to water pollution from fracking, Pavilion was it. The geology was different from most other fracking locations and more easily susceptible to leakage of natural gas and chemicals into nearby wells. Also, there had been decades of local wells being contaminated by natural gas before fracking occurred.

Nevertheless, the idea that fracking was the cause of some area water pollution seemed unlikely from the outset, given the history of well contamination before fracking occurred. Local residents asked the EPA to investigate, hoping the environmentalist-friendly federal agency would establish fracking was the cause.

These residents now feel betrayed by their friend, the EPA, which has given up trying to link area water pollution to fracking.

It’s hard to believe the EPA would have abandoned its efforts if it wasn’t certain its previous reports were seriously flawed.

Environmental activist groups are up in arms over the turn of events in Pavilion, but if the EPA can’t prove fracking causes water contamination, who can?




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


19 July, 2013

Models based on planetary and solar changes predict climate better than the Warmist CO2 models

New paper by Scafetta, N., "Solar and planetary oscillation control on climate change". It's a bit reminiscent of the old epicycles but does serve to highlight the potential explanatory role of celestial factors


Global surface temperature records (e.g. HadCRUT4) since 1850 are characterized by climatic oscillations synchronous with specific solar, planetary and lunar harmonics superimposed on a background warming modulation. The latter is related to a long millennial solar oscillation and to changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere (e.g. aerosol and greenhouse gases). However, current general circulation climate models, e.g. the CMIP5 GCMs, to be used in the AR5 IPCC Report in 2013, fail to reconstruct the observed climatic oscillations. As an alternate, an empirical model is proposed that uses: (1) a specific set of decadal, multidecadal, secular and millennial astronomic harmonics to simulate the observed climatic oscillations; (2) a 0.45 attenuation of the GCM ensemble mean simulations to model the anthropogenic and volcano forcing effects. The proposed empirical model outperforms the GCMs by better hindcasting the observed 1850-2012 climatic patterns. It is found that: (1) about 50- 60% of the warming observed since 1850 and since 1970 was induced by natural oscillations likely resulting from harmonic astronomical forcings that are not yet included in the GCMs; (2) a 2000-2040 approximately steady projected temperature; (3) a 2000-2100 projected warming ranging between 0.3 oC and 1.6 oC , which is significantly lower than the IPCC GCM ensemble mean projected warming of 1.1 oC to 4.1 oC ; (4) an equilibrium climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling centered in 1.35 oC and varying between 0.9 oC and 2.0 oC.

Energy & Environment: special volume ‘Mechanisms of Climate Change and the AGW Concept: a critical review’. Vol. 24 (3&4)

Another crooked Warmist

Fraudulent graph promoted by award-winning climate hoax communicator Gavin Schmidt

Writing on twitter, Schmidt links to several graphs which are basic examples of chartmanship: You can make even tiny changes in something look like a steep rise just by using tiny increments in the vertical axis of a graph. It is very deceptive but Warmists do it routinely and Schmidt is no exception.

The graph below is more bizarre than that, however, To pick a small point first, the idea that 2,000 years ago was in prehistory rather ignores Greek and Roman civilization. Did I imagine my readings of Thucydides, Herodotus, Tacitus, Caesar etc.?

The major point however is that the graph resembles no known empirical reconstruction. It is totally made up.


The potential new American century

By Rick Manning

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan/Chase Manhattan Bank said it, and it just may be worth listening to, “We’ve got a world-trade flush,” he quipped.

“We don’t have a divine right to success. But we have an unbelievable hand. If we play it well, and now we’ve got natural gas and shale oil, we have a gift from God here. America’s going to come back, and it’s going to blow people’s socks off when it does.”

Dimon is no right-wing radical, in fact he is a lifelong Democrat who has been a major contributor to Democrat candidates and was a White House favorite during the early years of the Obama presidency.

Yet, Dimon’s quote sounds like the boundless optimism of the most passionate salesman trying to sell his first set of encyclopedias.

Why exactly is the leader of one of the world’s most influential banks so bullish on the U.S. economy? Incredibly it has nothing to do with predictions about the latest action by the Federal Reserve or other currency manipulations. Instead, it has to do with America being poised for fundamental economic transformation due to actual real wealth creation through rapidly increasing natural gas and shale oil production.

Oil and natural gas production in places like the state of North Dakota where the economy grew at a more than 9 percent clip last year. Many are surprised to learn that North Dakota is now the second largest domestic oil producer in the United States surpassing California and Alaska over the past couple of years.

Dimon knows that the west Texas oil fields have been revitalized and revived with the use of the hydraulic fracturing technique accelerating oil and natural gas production dramatically in this region that was once thought to be pretty much played out.

Also, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2012, $313 billion of our nation’s $540 billion trade deficit came from imported petroleum-related products including oil and natural gas. Perhaps Dimon’s enthusiasm for the future is because he knows that with new techniques to access shale oil and natural gas that are becoming more efficient every year, the energy-related trade deficit will be heading significantly lower as America becomes more and more energy independent over the next few years.

Or maybe he is just excited because he knows that manufacturing CEOs around the globe are now looking at the United States as a prime location for new facility locations due to the projected less expensive energy costs due to the coming oil and natural gas boom. These new facilities mean real job growth, higher wages and lower costs for American made goods, all because of domestic energy development.

Dimon might even be smiling about the incredible potential California miracle where environmentalists in Sacramento suffered a rare defeat in their attempt to put a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. With projections showing four times the shale oil available in the once-Golden State than even the North Dakota fields are predicted to possess, California has a chance to get back on its feet if the green lobby continues to be kept at bay.

Incredibly, the increases in lower cost natural gas and shale oil due to hydraulic fracturing even are being credited with lowering the energy-related carbon dioxide emissions across the nation as they have dropped precipitously since 2007.

The most likely reason for Dimon’s excitement is an aggregate of these facts and more. Growing North American energy supplies are the game changer for rebuilding our nation’s industrial sector and the good jobs it creates, and as a banker/investor, he is probably most looking forward to lending the money to energy production businesses and those that thrive due to lower energy costs to make the transformation happen.

Jamie Dimon knows that God-given energy profitably extracted by very smart and ingenious entrepreneurs has the potential for creating a new American century — a 21st Century where free markets create lower utility costs, more jobs and the hope and belief that our children will again look forward to a prosperous future. That is, if only Americans are willing to reject the professional green lobby to grasp it.


Town gas prices in Britain could fall by a quarter with shale drilling, Government advisers say

Gas prices could fall by a quarter and help bring down household energy bills if Britain exploits its shale gas reserves, a report commissioned by Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, suggests.

The study by Navigant Consulting backs up David Cameron's claim that shale gas drilling could help cut the cost of living for families struggling with average bills of more than £1,300 per year.

However, it contrasts with the claims of Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, that shale gas is "unlikely" to bring down household bills. He has said higher gas prices are probable regardless of the discovery of Britain's shale reserves and used this argument to justify spending billions on wind farms and nuclear power stations.

This week, Mr Davey criticised NPower, an gas and electricity company, for saying that green energy would be a major factor behind rising bills, criticising their "weird" assumption that gas prices would fall.

However, the new study published today by his own department found gas prices may actually drop by 12 per cent by 2020 even if Britain does not pursue its shale resources.

In Navigant's "base case" of "limited" shale exploration in Britain and Europe, Navigant said it expects the gas price to fall because of lower oil prices and America producing larger amounts of unconventional gas for export. The price would still be lower than it is today in 2030.

In an optimistic scenario of high shale production in Britain and Europe, the price would fall 27 per cent, because of a "combination of local gas with falling production costs" and "readily available" imports.

In only one "pessimistic" scenario, Navigant said gas prices would go up by 16 per cent over the next two decades. This would be caused by some sort of "political limitation" on the availability of imports or "US gas production declining before current expectations".

"In two out of three of our scenarios we predict a fall in prices from current levels quite soon," the report said.

Companies are currently in the very early stages of drilling for shale gas in Britain but local opposition could stop widespread exploration in the countryside.

No-one yet knows how much - if any - can be recovered by fracking, the controversial process of blasting water, sand and chemicals into the ground to release the gas.

However, estimates suggest northern England could provide enough shale gas to meet the UK's needs for more than four decades.

This week, Mr Cameron gave some of his strongest ever comments in favour of shale gas.

"In America they are now almost self-sufficient in gas," he said. "Their gas prices to business are now less then half as much as ours are and the reason for this is they have put a lot of investment into unconventional gas.

"The figures are actually quite frightening. Europe as a whole has 75 per cent as much unconventional gas as America. So we’ve got less in Europe as America.

"But whereas they are digging 10,000 wells a year, so far in Europe we’ve dug just 100. So we are way behind, so I’m in favour of fracking, the government is making it easier."

Following the new Navigant figures, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said officials are relying on their own "robust" figures that predict gas prices will rise.

“Forecasting gas prices far into the future is extremely challenging so DECC uses a number of independent reports to produce our assumptions," the spokesman said.

“Most analysts project global gas prices will remain firm in the longer term. This is because of the uncertainties of liquid natural gas availability and in predicting unconventional gas potential, combined with rising global gas demand."




PEOPLE cheer Kevin Rudd because they cannot believe a Prime Minister would trick them so brazenly. But never has Mr Rudd - a genius at seeming, a disaster at doing - been as brazen as he was this week.

No, he did not "terminate" Labor's carbon tax.

No, his planned emissions trading scheme cannot start next year - or not without spending billions he does not have to buy off the hostile Greens.

No, it won't save families $380 each year.

No, your electricity bills might in fact soar, not fall.

In fact, Mr Rudd will be the second Labor Prime Minister to go to an election promising "there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead".

If re-elected he will be the second Labor Prime Minister to claim "changed circumstances" made him break his solemn word.

On Tuesday, Mr Rudd made the following false claims, or almost certainly undeliverable promises in announcing he'd move to an emissions trading scheme one year earlier than Labor planned:

"The Government has decided to terminate the carbon tax ... From July 1 next year Australia will move to an emissions trading scheme ...

"The modelling from Treasury shows that in the financial year 2014-15 an average family will receive a cost of living relief to the value of $380 per year ...

"We expect the change that we are bringing in will see the price on carbon fall from an expected $25.40 a tonne by next July to around $6 a tonne."

Not one of those claims can be trusted. Some are outright fabrications. Here are the facts.

First, it is very unlikely Mr Rudd could get his plan through Parliament in time, because the Senate, in which Labor can be out-voted by the Coalition with the Greens, stays until June 30 next year.

The Coalition is against this switch to an emissions trading system, in which the European Commission effectively sets our carbon price by manipulating its market in permits to emit carbon dioxide.

Europe's price is now an unusually low $6, but European politicians plan to ramp it up.

The Greens are opposed for different reasons. For one, they don't want the carbon price to fall by as much as Labor promises.

"The Greens do not support making it cheaper for the big polluters to pollute," Greens leader Christine Milne said.

IF the Coalition sticks to its guns, Mr Rudd's plan is dead - unless it can bribe the Greens with billions of dollars of more dud green schemes just like the ones Mr Rudd says he needs to cut.

Second, Mr Rudd is dead wrong in claiming his change would save families $380 "per year", as he stated five times on Tuesday. In fact, he is merely bringing forward by one year Labor's planned switch to emissions trading, so any savings are also for just one year, as Treasurer Chris Bowen tried to point out to him: "It is a one-year figure based on the Treasury's view of the carbon price."

Third, Mr Rudd's claim of $380 in savings for each family is a wild exaggeration at best.

That figure assumes that our carbon price will next year drop to the $6 set by Europe's trading system today.

But the European Commission this month voted to increase that $6 price, with analysts at Point Carbon expecting it to perhaps double in the near future. Add the likely depreciation of the Australian dollar, and half Mr Rudd's $380 in claimed savings could be wiped out.

In fact, in a few years we might not be saving but instead spending a lot, lot more.

Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on 2GB this week not only conceded the obvious - that the price set by Europe could well rise - but refused to rule out it rising to a level much higher than our carbon tax today.

Indeed, the Government's own Budget, released just two months ago, worked on a "modelled price of $38 at 2019-20" - which the Government needs to pay for its hugely expensive disability scheme and Gonski education changes.

People with short memories may find it unbelievable that a Prime Minister could tell them such untruths with such moral conviction.

But Mr Rudd has long traded on seeming something he is not. He is a genius at seeming to fix what he's actually broken, like border laws.

And here he is again, pretending to fix a tax that pretended to stop a global warming Mr Rudd pretends is dangerous, even though it's now paused for more than 15 years.

Pretending, too, that he'll save you money when he's costing you a fortune.

The King of Seeming in an Age of Seeming. Not worse than Julia Gillard, but a greater indictment of Australia and our times.


EPA Disputes Predictions That Ethanol Regulations Will Increase Gas Prices 30% by 2015

Gas prices will increase about $1 per gallon by 2015 and take a $550 billion bite out of Americans’ take-home pay when the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) increases the ethanol mandate past the 10 percent “blend wall,” according to an October 2012 study by the National Economic Research Associates (NERA), commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API). (See NERA study.pdf)

The API launched an advertising campaign this week called “Fuel for Thought” to repeal the RFS regulations. The ads read: “The higher ethanol mandate could damage your engine. And void your warranty. Your engine won’t like it, but your mechanic will.” (See Fuel for Thought.pdf)

API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco said during a Monday press conference that the organization is pushing the White House and Congress for the elimination of RFS regulations, and supports Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va..) bill, “The Renewable Fuel Standard Elimination Act” (H.R. 3098).

But EPA disputed NERA’s findings. In a statement to, the agency claimed that the ethanol regulations will have “little net effect on retail fuel prices.”

The RFS regulations require a gradual increase in the percentage of ethanol that must be blended into fuel. In 2015, the mandate exceeds 10 percent ethanol, which is the maximum concentration the majority of conventional cars can handle without damage to their engines.

The NERA study found that under the latest regulations, gas prices will increase 30 percent from their current average of $3.64 per gallon, and diesel fuel prices will increase 300 percent by 2015. The study, “Economic Impacts Resulting from Implementation of the RFS2 Program,” estimates that higher fuel costs will cause a $770 billion decrease in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

Each gallon of renewable fuel is accompanied by a Renewable Identification Number (RIN), which serves as a tracking number and permit to produce the fuel. NERA predicted that as the ethanol blending increases above 10 percent, the costs of RINs will skyrocket, helping to cause the predicted rise in fuel prices.

That has already happened. “Renewable Identification Number credits, or RINS, that companies purchase in order to comply with the mandates have increased in price by 10-fold this year, hovering near all-time highs. This is a good indication that we’re hitting the blend wall, and consumers could start feeling the impacts soon,” Greco said Monday.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) agreed that the price of RINs have increased dramatically, noting a “nine-fold increase” in 2013.

“It is unclear what is driving the increase, but concerns over the blend wall and a reduction in output from U.S. ethanol producers in the first quarter have increased concerns that the RFS mandates will be binding in 2013 or 2014 and that there will be a scarcity of RINs,” CRS said in a March 2013 report to Congress.

CRS added that “if a large portion of any increased RFS is met using ethanol, then the United States likely does not have the vehicles to consume the fuel. The 10 percent blend wall on ethanol in gasoline for conventional vehicles poses a significant barrier to expanding ethanol consumption beyond 14 billion gallons per year.”

EPA responded by saying that it is “aware of studies that have attempted to quantify the retail price impacts of RINs in 2013, with most estimates showing a fairly small impact.

“A number of factors can influence RIN prices including the price of oil; the price of feedstocks, such as corn for ethanol, and the supply and demand of RINs. Retail prices for fuel are the result of many factors, including the price of crude oil, the costs of refining, taxes, and various other factors. There is not a direct relationship between the price of a RIN and the retail price of fuel. The value of RINs is shifted among market participants – blenders, refiners, renewable fuel producers – and in many cases there will be little net effect on retail fuel prices.”

“Ethanol levels in gasoline are strictly regulated to ensure that the right vehicles run on the right fuel. EPA granted two partial waivers that taken together allow, but do not require, the sale of gasoline that contains up to 15 volume percent ethanol (E15) for use in model year 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles. These decisions were based on extensive vehicle testing conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy and other test data and information regarding the potential effect of E15 on vehicle emissions.

“E15 may be lawfully sold only after the manufacturer has registered the fuel and met the conditions of the partial waivers. This includes labeling requirements and a misfueling mitigation plan to help minimize the potential for use in vehicles not covered by the partial waivers,” the agency noted.

A fall 2012 survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that 12 million out of 240 million light-duty vehicles currently on the road today are approved by manufacturers to use E15.

“Five manufacturers stated their warranties would not cover fuel-related claims caused by E15, and eight additional manufacturers stated that E15 did not comply with fuel requirements in owners’ manuals and may void warranty coverage,” AAA said a Feb. 26 press release.

“AAA is not opposed to ethanol, but we are against the way E15 has been introduced and sold to consumers. We welcome the committee’s support today as AAA calls for additional impartial research and for regulators and industry to suspend the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are properly educated and protected,” AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet said at the time.

API says the adverse economic effects of E15 regulations don’t end with higher fuel prices. Costs for finished goods and services will increase as well, leaving consumers with less money to spend, resulting in lowered consumption. With lower demand, the need for workers also drops, which will increase unemployment.

The Renewable Fuel Standard regulations began in 2005 under the Energy Policy Act. In 2007, it was expanded to include the ethanol blending mandate under the Energy Independence and Security Act.

“[RFS] lays the foundation for achieving significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from the use of renewable fuels, for reducing imported petroleum, and encouraging the development and expansion of our nation's renewable fuels sector,” according to the EPA’s website.

The RFS requires the ethanol blend must be 10 percent in 2013. “Increasing ethanol blends to E15 for use in millions of cars currently on the road “could damage vehicles, void engine warranties, and damage gasoline station infrastructure. E85 remains a specialty fuel, with low consumer demand, and infrastructure investments from gas station owners would be required to expand distribution,” according to the API website.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


17 July, 2013

Government policy to blame for rising British energy bills

Green policies will drive a £240 rise in energy bills by 2020 unless households cut their power consumption, npower has warned.

The energy giant says it wants to tackle the “myth” that suppliers are to blame for rising bills, after finding consumers believed they made far higher profits than they actually did.

A household’s energy bill will rise from £1,247 today to £1,487 by 2020 in real terms - not taking into account inflationary increases - if usage remains static, npower warns in a report. Costs caused by government policies such as subsidies for new wind farms and energy efficiency schemes will be the main driver, adding £144, it claims.

Paul Massara, npower chief executive, said a “blame game” between suppliers and the government had led to “confusion, mistrust and misinformation”.

Consumers believed energy firms made a 40pc profit margin and were to blame for rising bills when “in fact, our profits are more like 5pc and the main factor behind rising costs is government policy and regulation”, he said.

Mr Massara said he actually supported the government’s policies but wanted consumers to know their true cost and to understand that “if people don’t take action to reduce energy consumption, their bills are going to rise”.

The report finds that the costs of upgrading Britain’s ageing gas and electricity networks would be the next biggest driver of bills, adding £114, while the costs of the nationwide roll-out of “smart meters” that send automatic meter readings back to suppliers will add £24.

Profits will account for £71, or just under 5pc, of the bill by 2020, up £12 from today, but a significant jump from £18 in 2007.

While ministers and energy companies have both blamed rising commodity costs of gas and electricity for price increases to date, the report suggests they have been only a modest influence on bills, adding £51 since 2007, while government policies have added £110 over the same period.

Controversially, npower also predicts that commodity prices will actually fall back to 2007 levels by 2020. The company says its analysis is based on the Government’s own figures but strips out the impact of the Treasury’s carbon tax, which will push up power prices and which npower counts as a policy cost.

Ministers insist their drive for nuclear plants, wind farms and energy efficiency schemes will save consumers £166 by 2020 compared with the costs of doing nothing. But critics have pointed out that relies not only on the carbon tax inflating the costs for gas-fired power but also on households spending thousands of pounds on energy efficiency measures.

Greg Barker, the energy minister, said: “Global gas prices not green policies have been primarily pushing up energy bills. That is why it is vital we crack on with securing investment in a diverse energy mix that includes renewables and new nuclear, as well as gas.”


Ice cap melting data is too weak to suggest alarming decrease is permanent or caused by humans, study claims

New long-term data on the melting of Earth’s polar ice is not the ecological death knell some might expect.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Bert Wouters at the University of Bristol compared nine years of satellite measurements of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica in an attempt to determine if the melt-off is part of an accelerating trend in ice loss and sea-level rise.

While the study showed a loss of about 300 billion tonnes of ice per year from the arctic and Antarctic regions, it concluded that natural processes cannot be ruled out as the force behind the receding ice sheets and thus that future sea-level rise cannot currently be accurately predicted.

The ice covering Antarctica and Greenland contains about 99.5 per cent of the Earth's glacier ice and would raise global sea levels by around 206 feet if they somehow melted completely.

As such, the two ice sheets are the biggest potential sources of sea level rise and are of particular interest to scientists studying changes in sea level and polar ice mass.

In order to measure changes in ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland, the researchers used satellites to detect tiny variations in Earth’s magnetic field that are indicative of a change in the distribution of mass, in this case the movement of ice into the ocean.

Beginning in 2002, researchers looking at sea level rise led by Dr. Burt Wouters used satellites to take monthly measurements of Greenland and Antarctica's glaciers--the largest potential sources of rising tides--in an effort dubbed Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).

The study found that the two land masses lost about 300 tonnes of ice to the ocean each year of the study.

However, the 9-year length of the research was insufficient to determine if the melt-off was part of an accelerating trend (ie caused by humans) or part of an ebb and flow of natural processes.

The study found it had almost enough data to conclude Antarctica's ice sheets are melting as part of an increasing trend with a 'reasonable level of confidence.'

However, Wouters' team said another decade of data is needed before the same is true for Greenland.

Since current ice melt data could indicate variable climate trends and aren't necessarily part of an accelerating trend, the study warned that predictions of future sea-level rise should not be based on measurements of glacial loss.

Beginning in 2002, the study dubbed Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) took monthly measurements of the two ice sheets over the course of nine years.

Published in the journal Nature Geoscience this week, the results of GRACE did show a rapid loss of ice.

‘In the course of the mission,’ said Dr. Wouters, who is currently a visiting researcher at the University of Colorado, ‘it has become apparent that ice sheets are losing substantial amounts of ice about 300 billion tonnes each year and that the rate at which these losses occurs is increasing.’

However, the study stopped short of pointing a finger at why the loss is occurring and could not determine if the melt is indicative of an accelerating trend caused by human activity.

Non-human factors also play a role in glacier melt. Shifting North Atlantic pressure systems like El Nino and slow changes in ocean currents can also cause the ice sheets to recede.

‘So,’ Dr. Wouters said in a release, ‘if observations span only a few years, such 'ice sheet weather' may show up as an apparent speed-up of ice loss which would cancel out once more observations become available.’

The duration of the GRACE study, the researchers say, is nearly enough to show an acceleration of ice melt in Antarctica with a ‘reasonable level of confidence.’

However, it will take another decade of satellite measurements to conclude whether or not Greenland’s ice is melting at an increasing clip.

Perhaps the most important conclusion from the study is that more long-term satellite measurements are vital in the effort to measure and predict future sea-level rise.

Data on sea level rise, much of it extrapolated from glacial melt numbers, has led coastal countries and municipalities worldwide to undertake costly infrastructure modifications ahead of the rising sea.

Just last month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg painted a grim picture of his city's future in the face of rising tides and, he said, the increased likelihood of more events like 2012's devastating Hurricane Sandy.

In a news conference in which he called the efforts 'urgent,' Bloomberg announced a $20 billion climate change readiness plan that includes moveable flood walls and levees designed to save the island city from the wrath of rising oceans.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wouters and his team warn that a lack of sufficient long-term measurements should preclude the use of current ice loss numbers as predictors of future sea-level rise.

'Therefore,' the researchers said, 'climate variability adds uncertainty to extrapolations of future mass loss and sea-level rise, underscoring the need for continuous long-term satellite monitoring.'


Peak oilers give up

For years, we've been pointing out that Peak Oil is a dominant social theme, a scarcity meme used by the powers-that-be to reinforce the US petrodollar and generally to control economic and sociopolitical elements of society.

And now comes word via various news reports including a story at MarketWatch that a main Internet proponent of the Peak Oil myth – The Oil Drum – is shutting its doors.

Here's how MarketWatch describes it:

... A website created and frequented by advocates of "peak oil," is closing its doors July 31 after an eight-year run. The site will be kept as a repository of old articles, but will no longer offer new ones, according to a post on the site dated July 3.

The decision was reached thanks to "scarcity of new content caused by a dwindling number of contributors" and the cost of running the site, the post said. The post garnered more than 700 comments from readers mourning the site's virtual death. Commenters suggested "donate" buttons and other ideas to raise money.

With news of record-breaking North American oil and gas production seemingly every day, maybe it just got too hard to maintain a site devoted to the notion that the world's oil production was at or near a peak ... Detractors gleefully pointed out that the theory did not take into consideration technological advances, while defenders retort that, inevitably, demand for oil will outstrip supply, leading to higher oil prices and shortages.


German Energy Companies Threaten Shutdown Of Power Plants

German operators of coal and gas power plants are sounding the alarm: the operation of many power plants is no longer profitable as a result of the green energy transition. Dozens of plants could be closed down, the industry warns.

Numerous coal and gas power plants apparently are threatened by a shutdown. According to a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), many companies and municipal utilities are assessing the cost of dozens of power plants. As a result, the security of supply is at risk because many of the plants could be shut down. Of approximately 90,000 megawatt of conventional power capacity in Germany up to 20 percent could be shut down, the newspaper quoted the CEO of a utility. In the worst case scenario, Germany would face blackouts.

Nuclear power plants, too, could be taken off the grid ahead of time, according to industry sources. The problem for the energy sector is that their power plants are less and less supplying power to the grid because of the ongoing boom in green energy. The growing supply of electricity reduces the market price for electricity so strongly that their operation is no longer economic.

With their warning, the companies are increasing the pressure on the Federal Government. Only last week, the Stadtwerke Alliance Trianel had sounded the alarm. The subsidies for green electricity must be reformed urgently, said Trianel manager Sven Becker. Although green power already has a share of 25% of electricity consumption, the subsidies continue unabated. ”Fossil power plants must also be able to be profitable”, demanded Becker.

So far, the Federal Network Agency has received 15 applications to close down power plants, the SZ reports. E.ON, the largest energy company in Germany, has decided to close down eleven power plants in Europe by 2015. The profitability of other plants is under consideration. Its competitor RWE announced similar shut down plans.

The initial response by the Ministry of Economy was brief. The ministry said that any decision about the operation or shutdown of power plants was one for the owners to make. However, the government could pass a law to keep power plants on the grid if the supply security were in danger.


Requiem For Spanish Wind?

The pain in Spain cannot be sustained. That’s the conclusion of the Spanish government, which is slashing its subsidies for wind power and other renewable energy as part of a deficit-fighting move. Spain is the latest European country to cut subsidies for clean energy — following similar moves in the U.K., Germany and Italy — because they’re driving up costs for consumers.

Power companies decried the elimination of the subsidies, which will cost them an estimated $3.5 billion. The government will absorb another $1.2 billion or so.

It’s a sad end for a program once heralded as a model by the Obama administration for its own renewables initiative. Yet it’s also not a surprising one. Despite its promise, wind energy has struggled to overcome economic barriers. Without government subsidies, it simply isn’t a viable business.
Alternative Energy And Big Oil: Poor Returns Versus `Lies' Loren Steffy Loren Steffy Contributor

Would you be willing to pay more for wind power, and if so how much? Chances are, you wouldn’t be interested in paying enough to offset the amounts that are being underwritten by the government.

What we’re seeing in Spain is part of a cycle that has long dogged alternative energy. When oil prices rise, there’s a flow of money into alternatives, but at some point, taxpayers tire of underwriting businesses that aren’t self-sufficient. Having taken a step forward on renewables, Europe now taking a step back.



Three current articles below

Prime Miister's priority protecting his party not the planet

LET'S be very plain, as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would put it: The great Labor crusade against climate change has been abandoned for the sake of short-term electoral gain.

What once had been the "the great moral question of our generation" has been reduced to an election bribe.

Mr Rudd's policy revisionism today was about making a neutered version of the climate change crusade an election positive by promising it would deliver further help to household finances.

The priority was switched from protecting future Australian generations from disastrous global warming to protecting Labor from an electoral roasting.

The climate change crusade was ended in the most brutal way. It was "terminated," in Mr Rudd's word.

This will annoy the Greens but will hearten most Labor MPs struggling to justify a scheme which the Labor Government itself called - for almost three years - a carbon tax.

Those Labor MPs will not regret shucking off the electorally damaging carbon price scheme forced on it by the Greens during creation of the minority government.

Mostly it will annoy the Tony Abbott Opposition which has seen it's "great big tax" line taken from it and used against it. It's now the Opposition which is being accused of a "great big tax" to fund its Direct Action scheme for subsidised carbon emissions reduction by business.

That wasn't the only political purloining.

Mr Rudd has effectively acknowledged carbon pricing has been a burden on household and business budgets, much as Mr Abbott has been saying.

The Prime Minister today said extra assistance was needed "at a time of economic transition and structural change in the global economy". Which is pretty well what Mr Abbott has been saying.

The Rudd version of an early, floating price on carbon would help households by around $380 a year, while the Opposition's direction would cost $1200 in taxes. Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has called those calculations "lies" but clearly the debate has shifted substantially.


Newman Government explores establishing shale gas industry in Queensland

QUEENSLAND could have its own shale gas industry within two years, the State Government says. Government briefing notes for Environment Minister Andrew Powell show there are 16 shale gas exploration programs in the state.

But it warns any development would need numerous wells and an extensive expansion of the gas pipeline network to be viable. It would also use the controversial process known as fracking, which will put the fledgling industry on course for a battle with environmentalists.

The departmental briefing said the extraction of gas "can mobilise naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) into water extracted from the well".

It said NORMs were limited in Australian geology but the issue would need monitoring by the companies involved.

The main areas for exploration are the Cooper, Galilee, Eromanga and Maryborough basins. The Cooper Basin is already well developed and is considered the most likely to have the infrastructure to handle the development.

The Maryborough Basin may be the most difficult, with a growing concern among the community to coal and gas development. Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer are exploring for coal in the district.

"Operators have advised that up-scale and production (of shale gas) will likely commence in 2015," the ministerial briefing note said.

It said the process used would drill as deep as 2000m, which "significantly reduces risks of interconnectivity with aquifers".

It said up to 16 million litres would be needed for one well, compared with the 1 million used by CSG. However, most shale gas wells are dry and do not harvest the levels of groundwater CSG wells do.

An APPEA spokesman said similar to the production of natural gas from coal, any water sourced could potentially be re-injected underground or used to drought-proof regional Queensland properties. But, according to the State Government, exploration "is occurring in basins where water availability is limited".

Anti-CSG activist Drew Hutton said the American experience showed there were strong community concerns with shale gas, especially with the impact of fracking.

He said his organisation, Lock the Gate, had the same concerns with shale gas as it did with CSG, including its potential health impacts and possible water contamination.

"We are concerned about shale gas activities along the Cooper River, in western Queensland, because of its potential effects on the Lake Eyre Basin and in the Maryborough-Bundaberg area, which is good farm land," Mr Hutton said.


Conservative leader pours scorn on the concept of an ETS

TONY Abbott has dismissed emissions trading schemes as markets for the "non-delivery of an invisible substance".

The Coalition Leader's criticism of the widely accepted, market-based method of trying to curb carbon emissions came as Labor prepares to switch from a carbon tax to an ETS one year earlier than originally planned.

Treasurer Chris Bowen said today the Rudd government's decision to move early from a fixed to a floating carbon price was a response to changes in the Australian economy and a concession families could do with hip-pocket relief.

But Mr Abbott, who has campaigned against a carbon tax, said the change meant nothing.

“It's more fake change from Kevin Rudd. The one thing he has done is he has admitted that what the Coalition was saying about the carbon tax was right all along,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“This is not a true market, just ask yourself what an ETS is all about, it's a so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one.”

Under an ETS, companies trade permits allowing the right to discharge emissions. Permit buyers effectively pay a charge for polluting, providing an economic incentive for reducing emissions.

Mr Bowen today conceded the costs of switching to an ETS next year will be “significant”, as he again refused to rule out a cut to industry assistance programs.

However the Treasurer rejected opposition claims the hole punched in the budget by fast-tracking to an ETS would be in the order of $6 billion.

“We are responding to two things, we are responding to the change in the Australian economy, the rapid transition away from the mining boom and the need to stimulate non-mining investment,” Mr Bowen told ABC radio.

“And we are responding to people's concerns about cost of living - it is an acknowledgement families can do with cost of living relief,” he said.

The Treasurer said the cost of making the move to an internationally-linked ETS sooner was “significant”, but rejected Coalition claims of a revenue shortfall $6 billion.

“The opposition doesn't know what it's talking about, we'll be putting out the Treasury figures, the Treasury figures make it very clear what the cost is and how it is going to be paid for,” he said.

“It's obviously a significant cost but it's not what the opposition are suggesting.”

Mr Bowen said the household compensation would remain, but refused to rule out changes to the industry assistance package.

“Yes there are industry assistance measures that are predicated on a certain price, but I am not pre-empting what are going to do in the package,” Mr Bowen told Sky News.

He warned the government had made “tough choices” to find savings to offset the revenue shortfall, but stressed Labor was committed to the schoolkids bonus.

“The schoolkids bonus is a very important measure, it's very important to the government and it will remain very important to the government,” he said.

Mr Abbott said the ETS was “still a tax”.

“He won't admit it but you will keep the carbon tax under Kevin Rudd. If you vote for the Coalition, the carbon tax is gone, lock stock and barrel. Not rebadged, not renamed but abolished,” the Opposition Leader told the Nine Network.

“The best thing to do is to get rid of it altogether. Mr Rudd vindicated everything we have been saying about the carbon tax,” Mr Abbott said.

Greens leader Christine Milne, who negotiated the original carbon pricing package with the Gillard government, warned the Prime Minister against taking the axe to green schemes.

“I am really concerned with where the government is going to get the money it's a $4 billion to $5 billion hit on the budget,” Senator Milne said.

“I want to see the clean technology fund maintained, the biodiversity fund maintained, low carbon communities - enabling people who live in those communities to be more energy efficient - I want to make sure the Climate Change Authority stays,” she said.

“I am really concerned Labor will slash them, they've already taken the knife to the biodiversity fund this year,” Senator Milne said.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


16 July, 2013

What drives Sir Paul Nurse?

Sir Paul Nurse is an expert on the genetics of yeast and is also the current President of the Royal Society in Britain. He is a poor boy made good. His birth was illegitimate at a time when that mattered. With his background it would have been difficult for him to gain acceptance in the upper echelons of British society but a good brain has got him a long way.

And I suggest that his difficult background helps explain why a geneticist has become a furious defender of global warming. He is striving for acceptance and global warming is an accepted view among most of his colleagues and contacts. Scientific integrity takes a second place to his personal ambitions.

The meticulous Steve McIntyre has a very detailed and extensive summary of correspondence with Nurse about global warming and there is much there that is discreditable to Nurse. I reproduce just the last part of it to give a flavor of the way Nurse is consumed with hostility to skeptics. At the point where the excerpt starts the book "Nullius in Verba" by Montford is being discussed. "Nullius in Verba" ("Don't trust words") is the historic motto of the Royal Society and the book is a critique of where the Royal Society is today.

Given the negligible empirical support for the global warming prophecy, I think that most of those who support it must be suspected of personal motives but the motives of Nurse would seem particularly clear. The last paragraph below, in particular, depicts a classic case of psychological insecurity.

I write of course as a much published psychologist, specializing in political psychology, but there are nonetheless grounds on which my analysis of Nurse could be held to be improper. I may note however that derogatory analyses of conservatives by Leftist psychologists go back at least to 1950 so I write with much precedent before me

If one re-examines Nurse’s New Scientist editorial, it seems to be exactly what Montford described: “an attack on what [Nurse] saw as ‘anti-science’ attitudes in the US Republican party”. I happen to share Nurse’s disdain on many points, though I thought that his concern that U.S. scientists were about to decamp for the UK, China and India was somewhat overheated.

However, given that there were many able Americans speaking out on the matter, one might wonder whether this was an issue that actually required the attention of the President of the UK Royal Society or whether Nurse’s priorities might be better directed towards scientific misunderstandings by UK politicians, such as, arguably, their belief in wind and solar policies.

Nor did Montford’s sentence (which seems to be accurate on its face) imply in any way that either Montford or the GWPF endorsed the views that Nurse criticized in his New Scientist editorial.

Nurse had originally alleged that the GWPF had published “named personal attacks on four successive Presidents of the Royal Society”. When challenged, Nurse failed to produce any evidence, instead claiming that Nullius in Verba gave “support for absurd anti-science views”, an unfounded allegation that GWPF denied and which turns out to be founded on nothing more than the above Montford sentence.

Nurse’s thin-skinned and consistently incorrect characterization of Nullius in Verba reminds me of Lucia’s warning about Gavin Schmidt (to which I referred recently in connection with mischaracterization by CRU and Schmidt himself):

"I might suggest that you are assuming that people asked the questions Gavin says they asked, and that Gavin’s answer to their questions is adequate because Gavin tells us his answer is adequate."

It also seems to me that there is also a tinge of Gleick and Lewandowsky in Nurse’s remarks and ill-informed attitude towards skeptics. The term “anti-science” occurred in Gleick’s forgery and was one of the words that tipped Mosher that it was a forgery. And rather than Nurse’s New Scientist editorial suggesting output from a “policy quango”, as Montford had suggested, it seems far more similar to an editorial that might have come from the US National Center for Science Education, to which Gleick had been nominated as a director in January 2012 (though the nomination was withdrawn after Gleick’s fraud and forgery were revealed.)

In respect to the vituperativeness of Nurse’s response both to the sentence in paragraph 121 (page 36) of Nullius in Verba and to Lawson’s letter, one is also reminded of another Lucia suggestion: "put on your big boy pants."

Indeed, according to an incident recounted in Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile (discussed at Bishop Hill here), it seems that Nurse believes that he wears extra-special big boy pants. Taleb writes:

"As I was writing this book, I overheard on a British Air flight a gentleman explain to the flight attendant less than two seconds into the conversation (meant to be about whether he liked cream and sugar in his coffee) that he won the Nobel Prize in Medicine “and Physiology” in addition to being the president of a famous monarchal academy. The flight attendant did not know what the Nobel was, but was polite, so he kept repeating “the Nobel Prize” hoping that she would wake up from her ignorance. I turned around and recognized him, and the character suddenly deflated. As the saying goes, it is hardest to be a great man to one’s chambermaid."


China questions climate consensus

The world’s most populous nation is officially openly debating whether fears of anthropogenic global warming are justified by science. In May 2013, the Chinese Academy of Sciences translated and published the reports of NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change). While providing a platform for discussion of climate issues, the CAS does not necessarily agree with the NIPCC’s conclusions—which are contrary to those of the UN-IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change). Rather, the CAS demonstrates a commendable willingness to encourage open discussion of important scientific questions. It may well be a first; no such discussion has ever been permitted by the UK’s Royal Society or by the US National Academy of Sciences.

However, there seems to be a division of opinion within the Chinese Academy, as is evident from the fact that their (Beijing) June 15 Workshop featuring the NIPCC conclusions is to be followed by a September symposium that clearly supports the IPCC point of view. I hope that internal debate of the science will allow the CAS to reach a considered opinion on whether Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a danger to human welfare, as has been claimed by alarmists. [Some pertinent questions are listed at the end of this article.]

But there is more involved here than just debate about climate science. Many personal factors enter in, as they do for scientists everywhere. Once part of the IPCC process, a scientist will typically attend many workshops and symposia during the year, usually at exotic locations (Bali, Cancun, Marrakesh), staying in first class resort hotels. There’s also the camaraderie of being part of an international scientific effort, making interesting contacts and forming scientific and personal friendships. And then there is a certain prestige attached to international efforts, often reflected in professional advancement, increases in salary, prizes and honors—not to mention lucrative research grants from compliant government agencies and generous private donors (that often include ‘Big Oil’!).

Finally, there’s the feeling that the scientific efforts may help to determine important national policies that “save the climate” and advance human welfare. At least that seems to be the opinion which is current in the United States and Europe. But it would be rash to assume that this idealistic hope is really true. One cannot imagine that important decisions about the future of economic growth and national development in China would be held hostage to purely scientific opinions. If anything, national policies tend to be fairly conservative and skeptical about the supposed danger of AGW. In China, such decisions are probably made by the National Development and Reform Commission, which has also handled international negotiations related to the Kyoto Protocol (to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases). China has opposed Kyoto—and the US, unlike other OECD nations, has never ratified the Protocol.

In support of this view, one can consider the agreement between President Obama and the Chinese president, at their recent meeting in Hawaii, to reduce the emission of HFCs (hydro-fluorocarbons), used in refrigeration as a replacement for CFCs. Their communiqué said nothing about Carbon Dioxide, the most significant greenhouse gas, released in creating energy from fossil fuels, vital for economic growth.

One can of course cite as a counter-example the recently announced climate policy of President Obama, which seems to be driven by fear of AGW—or, more likely, by fear of losing the political support of climate alarmists. Though a small segment of the US population, the alarmists do include a large fraction of the media and other influential opinion-makers. Mr. Obama has promised what amounts to a “war on coal,” the most plentiful and cheapest fuel for generating electricity. But there’s every indication that the White House policy is politically motivated and not driven by science. A good indicator of the real motive is the possibility that Obama will veto the Keystone-XL pipeline, which is to bring Canadian tar-sand oil to Texas refineries. As everyone realizes, such a veto would simply be a sop to environmental activists, since it will hardly affect the decision of the Canadian governments to recover the oil from the tar sands.

On the other hand, China has just said they will experiment with Cap-&-Trade policies. But I suspect the aim here is not simply to reduce the emission of CO2 but to use it as a driver to improve the efficiency of old coal-fired power plants, which is as low as 11%.

For comparison, most US power plants have efficiencies of at least 35%—i.e., converting 35% of the heat generated in the combustion of coal into useful electricity. The “super-critical” coal plants now coming into use are capable of efficiencies of 55%. This means that China can build coal-fired electric generating plants producing five times as much power (with the same amount of fuel) as the old types now in use—certainly a worthwhile goal. But it will do little if anything for the global climate and should not be considered as climate policy.

Some questions for IPCC:

As mentioned earlier, the Chinese Academy of Sciences is planning a September symposium in Beijing to rally the pro-IPCC arguments and try to convince their government that humans make an important contribution to global warming. In anticipation of this symposium, one would like to ask the organizers the following kinds of questions:

Can you explain why there has been no significant warming observed in the last 15 years—in spite of a rapid increase in the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide?

Can one explain why the tropical atmosphere has shown no warming between 1979 and 2000 (ignoring the 1-yr long temperature spike of 1998, caused by a Super-El-Nino), and then again between 2002 and 2012-while models predict that the atmosphere should warm faster than the surface?

Can one explain why the Antarctic has been cooling, with Antarctic sea Ice growing steadily-while models predict a global warming with most of the effects at high latitudes?

Why is there is a striking difference in observed temperature trends between Northern and Southern hemispheres, not exhibited by climate models?

There is also a striking disparity between observed and modeled latitude dependence of clouds and of precipitation. Why is that?

Can one explain what caused the observed strong warming between 1910 and 1940? It is unlikely to be anthropogenic, since the level of greenhouse gases was quite low before World War-II.

Can current climate models account for the observed Multi-decadal Oscillations of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans?

Finally, can one explain the existence of the so called Little Ice Age, between about 1400 and 1800 AD, and the apparent coincidence of extreme cold with low sunspot numbers?

It is clear that the climate models cannot explain what is actually being observed. Yet it is a principle of science that observations must always take precedence. Models have not been validated by actual observations and therefore should not be used to make predictions about the future. The IPCC’s most recent report claims that models and observations do agree; but these claims are clearly questionable.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has taken an important step in trying to answer questions essential for a rational climate policy. The world will watch their pioneering efforts with great interest.

A quick word about carbon dioxide: It is an odorless, non-toxic natural constituent of the Earth’s atmosphere. As the basic food for all plants, it is absolutely essential for maintaining life on our planet. CO2 should not be called a “pollutant.” In the geological past, its level has been ten times or more higher than its present value; in fact, our major food crops developed when CO2 levels were about five times higher. China is now the world’s largest emitter of CO2 and thereby making an important contribution to increasing agricultural yields at a time when much of the global population is still hungry. The world should be grateful to China.


‘Gasland’ scandal ignited at EPA

When the anti-fracking hoax-fest “Gasland Part II” premiered on HBO July 8, eco-filmmaker Josh Fox probably wasn’t expecting explosive emails to surface exposing his fakery and how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency colluded with him in a campaign to destroy “fracking,” the hydraulic fracturing technology that’s making America energy independent.

Here are the facts:

In January, 2011, Josh Fox requested an interview with Dallas, Texas-based EPA regional director Alfredo Armendariz, who told his press secretary:

“It was good working with him for Gasland, and we try to keep in touch every so often. … Let’s propose to him an outdoor interview in FW [Fort Worth, Texas] somewhere, at a place where he can get good background shots.”

For Armendariz to play assistant producer on Fox’s deceptive shams is not surprising. He came to the EPA from WildEarth Guardians with rabid anti-hydrocarbon allegiances clearly sworn in advance.

This week, Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay filed a story that helped me link the EPA to Fox and a group of his followers. The story explained how Fox, in his 2010 film Gasland, deceptively portrayed longtime natural methane seepage as a product of fracking.

“But a dramatic scene in ‘Gasland Part II’ was entirely contrived in an effort to falsely inflate the dangers of hydraulic fracturing,” Markay told me.

HBO viewers thought they saw Steve Lipsky, a Parker County, Texas, home-owner, holding his garden hose belching fire from his methane-contaminated water well. The flaming water was terrifying and “Gasland Part II” blamed it on fracking done by Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based shale gas driller.

What viewers actually witnessed was Lipsky holding a hose secretly connected to a gas vent, not a water line. This fraud came out in a lawsuit filed by Steven and Shyla Lipsky against Range for $6.5 million in the 43rd State District Court of Texas. The Lipskys claimed two Range natural gas wells contaminated their water well with methane.

Transcripts of that trial and the order of District Court Judge Trey E. Loftin unfolded an incredible web of conniving and conspiracy between Fox’s followers and the EPA. Their idea was not just to attack Range with a lawsuit, but to crush it with litigation and an EPA shutdown.

Lipsky made the false video under advice of anti-fracking consultant Alisa Rich of Wolf Eagle Environmental, who called it a “strategy.” Lipsky came to know Rich and Sharon Wilson of the Oil and Gas Accountability Project through Fox’s Gasland website.

The OGAP is a project of the Washington, D.C.-based Earthworks ($1.3 million 2011 income, according to its latest IRS 990 tax return), and was merged into Earthworks by Seattle software millionaire Paul Brainerd’s foundation ($27.9 million in assets in 2011).

Rich, Wilson and Armendariz were long-time acquaintances who previously worked together. Lipsky sent the EPA his phony flaming hose video, while Wilson coordinated a propaganda surge against Range. Wilson also recruited other Big Green allies for the effort.

On Dec. 7, 2010, Armendariz issued an emergency EPA order against Range, contending that two of its Barnett Shale gas wells “caused or contributed” to contamination of water wells belonging to Lipsky and a neighbor. Armendariz informed his activist allies before telling Range.

OGAP’s Wilson sent Armendariz a jubilant “Yee haw! Hats off to the new Sheriff and his deputies!” She copied her email to the Environmental Defense Fund, WildEarth Guardians and Public Citizen.

Range fought the EPA for a year and a half before it was settled, but not before Armendariz resigned for boasting that he “crucified” drillers to make them an example, like the Romans allegedly did in newly conquered provinces.

It all fell apart when Judge Loftin dismissed the Lipsky case, ruling that Range was the victim of a conspiracy.

I asked Range Resources General Counsel David Poole about the ordeal:

“Fortunately, EPA headquarters eventually looked at the overwhelming facts and fully withdrew the order, which was the right thing to do and we commend them for it. Unfortunately, the actions of the former administrator probably frightened a lot of people and Parker County deserves better.”

So does the rest of America.


Short Meteorological Memories?

By Alan Caruba

I am giving thanks this week, despite the heat wave, that I have not read, nor heard, a single claim that it is proof that global warming has arrived and we are all doomed.

By the time the global warming hoax was in its final days, we were being told that mid-winter blizzards were signs of it. Now the charlatans have switched their message, calling it “climate change” and this is so bogus that it defies description.

Of course the climate changes! It has done that from the billions of years before the first man climbed down out of the tree to stand upright; just in time to learn how to run like hell from whatever creature thought he would make a tasty snack.

I live in the Northeast and residents in the tri-state area face an entire week of temperatures in the upper 90s. The National Weather Service predicts the heat index (what it feels like outside) could hit 105 degrees. In 2006, about forty people died from heat stroke in New York during a heat wave from late July to early August. Most lacked air conditioning.

Curiously, the Earth is actually the farthest away from the Sun during our summer months. The way the National Geographic explained it the “Earth's elliptical orbit means there will be a point each year when the planet is closest to the sun, called perihelion, and a point when it is farthest away, known as aphelion.” The aphelion was reached on July 5.

By contrast in January of this year Australia was undergoing a historic heat wave complete with wildfires in five of its six states. It set new records hitting 104.6 degrees Fahrenheit; summer in Australia runs from December to February. Far to the north, however, this summer has been the coldest on record in the Arctic and it is forecast to get even colder there towards the end of the month.

What I always find interesting is the way much of the population seems to have absolutely no memory of any previous heat wave or, for that matter, a major blizzard. Either way the news media goes bananas, usually seeing it an apocalyptic scenario. No, it’s just a perfectly normal heat wave or blizzard.

It’s a good idea to keep in mind these and other events are the “weather”, not the “climate.” The climate is measured in terms of centuries or, at the very least, decades. The climate is a trend. The weather is what’s happening outside today.

These weather extremes can be quite dramatic. Wikipedia notes that by 1851, half the population of England was living in towns while London had already grown into a major city. “Modern toilets appear on the scene before modern infrastructure, turning the Thames into an open sewer. In June 1858, a heat wave hit London and baked the river into a fetid mess.” A newspaper reported that “Gentility of speech is at an end—it stinks; and whoso once inhales the stink can never forget it and count himself lucky if he lives to remember it.” The result was that Parliament moved upstream and anyone who could afford it left town.

In June 1976, England sweltered for fifteen straight days of heat in the ninety degrees and parts of the southwest went without rain for forty-five days. Forest fires destroyed trees and crops.

In August 1948 in the northeast, New York, Philadelphia, and other cities saw the temperature hit a hundred degrees and people flocked to air-conditioned movie theatres or to the airy beaches like Coney Island. I am old enough to recall the pre-air conditioned times before they became a common appliance in people’s homes and apartments. Electric fans provided what little relief there was to be found.

You don’t have to live in a city to endure a heat wave. During the Great Depression the 1936 heat wave that hit the Midwest turned farms into dust bowls and farmers lost their summer crops. It is estimated that some 5,000 people died. Chicago was hard hit and as far north as Toronto. The scene was repeated in 1995 in Chicago when an estimated 500 people died from heat-related deaths.

By the end of the week, Al Gore is sure to issue another one of his boring claims that the current heat wave is “proof” of global warming. Ignore him.


Sun’s bizarre activity may trigger another ice age

Latest data shows solar activity has been falling steadily since mid-1940s

The sun is acting bizarrely and scientists have no idea why. Solar activity is in gradual decline, a change from the norm which in the past triggered a 300-year-long mini ice age.

Three leading solar scientists presented the very latest data about the weakening solar activity at a teleconference yesterday in Boulder, Colorado, organised by the American Astronomical Society. It featured experts from Nasa, the High Altitude Observatory and the National Solar Observatory who described how solar activity, as measured by the formation of sunspots and by massive explosions on the sun’s surface, has been falling steadily since the mid-1940s.

The sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle with a maximum, when sunspot activity is at its peak, followed by a minimum when sunspot numbers are reduced and are smaller and less energetic. We are supposed to be at a peak of activity, at solar maximum.

The current situation, however, is outside the norm and the number of sunspots seems in steady decline. The sun was undergoing “bizarre behaviour” said Dr Craig DeForest of the society.

“The sun’s current maximum activity period is very late and very weak, leading to speculation that the sunspot cycle itself could be shutting down or entering a dormant phase,” he said before the teleconference.

Irish solar science specialist Dr Ian Elliott, formerly of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, quoted from figures released by Nasa on July 1st. It had asked an expert group to predict sunspot activity using models, with an upper limit and a lower limit.

The predictions suggested the monthly average sunspot total should range between 90 and 140, but in fact the present monthly average is only 67, Dr Elliott said. A typical average at maximum during much of the early 20th century was about 200.

“It is the smallest solar maximum we have seen in 100 years,” said Dr David Hathaway of Nasa. We are currently in solar cycle number 24 which is about half as active as cycle 23, but cycle 25 is likely to be smaller again due to changes in the magnetic flux on the sun’s surface,” he said.

Dr Giuliana de Toma of the High Altitude Observatory acknowledged the clear signs that solar activity was in decline but this did not mean the earth was heading for another “Maunder Minimum”. This was a time between 1645 and 1725 when solar activity was extremely low or nonexistent, a situation which caused a mini ice age.

The fall-off in sunspot activity still has the potential to affect our weather for the worse, Dr Elliott said. Research by Prof Mike Lockwood at the University of Reading showed how low solar activity could alter the position of the jet stream over the north Atlantic, causing severe cold during winter months. This was likely the cause of the very cold and snowy winters during 2009 and 2010, Dr Elliott said.

“It all points to perhaps another little ice age,” he said. “It seems likely we are going to enter a period of very low solar activity and could mean we are in for very cold winters.”

And while the researchers in the US said the data showed a decline in activity, they had no way to predict what that might mean for the future.


Why nobody ever calls the weather normal

by: Matt Ridley

WHEN the history of the global warming scare comes to be written, a chapter should be devoted to the way the message had to be altered to keep the show on the road. Global warming became climate change so as to be able to take the blame for cold spells and wet seasons as well as hot days. Then, to keep its options open, the movement began to talk about "extreme weather".

Part of the problem was that some time towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century it became clear that the Earth's average temperature just was not consistently rising any more, however many "adjustments" were made to the thermometer records, let alone rising anything like as rapidly as all the models demanded.

So those who made their living from alarm, and by then there were lots, switched tactics and began to jump on any unusual weather event, whether it was a storm, a drought, a blizzard or a flood, and blame it on man-made carbon dioxide emissions. This proved a rewarding tactic, because people - egged on by journalists - have an inexhaustible appetite for believing in the vindictiveness of the weather gods. The fossil fuel industry was inserted in the place of Zeus as the scapegoat of choice. (Scientists are the priests.)

The fact that people have short memories about weather events is what enables this game to be played. The long Australian drought of 2001-7, the Brisbane floods of 2009-10 and the angry summer of 2012-13 stand out in people's minds. People are reluctant to put them down to chance. Even here in mild England, people are always saying "I have never known it so cold/hot/mild/windy/wet/dry/changeable as it is this year". One Christmas I noticed the seasons had been pretty average all year, neither too dry nor too wet nor too cold nor too warm. "I have never known it so average," I said to somebody. I got a baffled look. Nobody ever calls the weather normal.

So it is deeply refreshing to read the new book called Taxing Air: Facts and Fallacies About Climate Change by the internationally respected geologist Bob Carter and illustrated by the cartoonist John Spooner, which puts climate change exactly where it should be - in perspective. After demolishing many other arguments for carbon taxes and climate alarm, Carter runs through recent weather events, showing that there is nothing exceptional, let alone unprecedented, about recent droughts, floods, heat waves, cyclones or changes to the Great Barrier Reef.

How come then that last week the World Meteorological Organisation produced a breathless report claiming that "the decadal rate of increase (of world temperature) between 1991-2000 and 2001-2010 was unprecedented"? It took professor Ed Hawkins of Reading University a short time to point out that this was no longer true if you compared 1993-2002 and 2003-2012 - ie, if you took the most up-to-date records. In that case, the latest decade showed a smaller increase over the preceding decade than either of the preceding decades did. In other words, the temperature standstill of the past 16 years has begun to show up in the decade-by-decade data.

And this is even before you take into account the exaggeration that seemed to contaminate the surface temperature records in the latter part of the 20th century - because of urbanisation, selective closure of weather stations and unexplained "adjustments". Two Greek scientists recently calculated that for 67 per cent of 181 globally distributed weather stations they examined, adjustments had raised the temperature trend, so they almost halved their estimate of the actual warming that happened in the later 20th century.

Anyway, by "unprecedented", the WMO meant since 1850, which is a micro-second of history to a paleo-climatologist like Carter. He takes a long-term perspective, pointing out that the world has been warming since 17,000 years ago, cooling since 8000 years ago, cooling since 2000 years ago, warming since 1850 and is little changed since 1997. Consequently, "the answer to the question 'is global warming occurring' depends fundamentally on the length of the piece of climate string that you wish to consider". He goes on: "Is today's temperature unusually warm? No - and no ifs or buts."

Carter is a courageous man, because within academia those who do not accept that climate change is dangerous are often bullied.

Indeed, Carter, who retired from James Cook University before he got interested in the global warming debate but remains an emeritus fellow, recently found himself deprived of even an email address by colleagues resentful of his failure to toe the line. As the old joke goes: what's the opposite of diversity? University.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


15 July, 2013

Warmists squib it again

Warmists sometimes express a willingness to engage in debate with skeptics but almost always back out before it happens. One imagines that in preparation for the debate they read some of their opponents' writings and realize how weak their own case is. They realize that they will lose!

It has happened again. Sir Paul Nurse, head of Britain's Royal Society, grandly offered to help out Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation by putting him in touch with scientists who would explain to him what he was missing by being skeptical. One imagines that Lord Lawson was rather amused by that folly but he welcomed it and tried to organize the offered discussion between Nurse's nominees and some prominent skeptics. The Press Release below shows how far that has gone

Lord Lawson, the chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), has invited five Fellows of the Royal Society to meet him and his team in the House of Lords to discuss issues surrounding climate science and policy.

The five climate scientists, nominated by Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society, refused an earlier invitation to meet with the Director of the GWPF, Dr Peiser, and a small group of experts nominated by the GWPF. Although they gave no reason for their unwillingness to engage, the Fellows stated they would be happy to ‘advise’ Lord Lawson personally.

Lord Lawson said he was willing to give the Royal Society a last chance to engage in a genuine dialogue, at which he would be personally present. “If this [invitation] is not acceptable, I can only conclude that, regrettably, you and your colleagues are unwilling to engage in genuine discussion and debate about this important issue.”


Sceptical British energy minister fired

For sounding a warning that was later vindicated

Tory MP John Hayes was fired as Energy Minister for secretly plotting to persuade an electricity boss to challenge Government policy.

Climate change sceptic Mr Hayes had asked the head of power giants E.on to warn of blackouts unless the Coalition watered down its green crusade and made a U-turn on the closure of coal-fired generators.

But Mr Hayes’s boss, Energy Secretary Ed Davey, hit the roof when he found out about the ‘treachery’ – and demanded he was sacked.

Two weeks later, Mr Hayes was dismissed and given a minor backroom role in No. 10, advising David Cameron on links with Tory MPs.

But his dire warnings about energy shortages were later vindicated by regulator Ofgem, which warned of an even bigger risk of power cuts.

The feud was kept secret by Downing Street to avoid exposing Coalition tensions over climate change and Europe. An EU directive to encourage ‘cleaner’ energy is behind the closure of coal-fired stations.

At the time of Mr Hayes’s sacking, both Mr Cameron and Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg denied he had been forced out, or that there was a row with Mr Davey.

But The Mail on Sunday has established that he was demoted after he secretly met E.on chief executive Tony Cocker on March 13 and urged him to help postpone the closure of power stations such as Kingsnorth in Kent.

The meeting came after Mr Davey had rejected pleas by Mr Hayes to use the UK’s right to opt out of EU measures.

Mr Hayes was accompanied to the meeting by a senior civil servant, though it is not known how it was leaked to Mr Davey. Sources close to Mr Hayes say he was encouraged privately by Mr Cameron to press to delay the closure of coal-fired power stations to avoid an energy crisis.

‘John said the PM agreed that the energy crisis was getting worse,’ said a source close to Mr Hayes. ‘And Lib Dems are more interested in impractical green policies and not upsetting their friends in Brussels than keeping the lights on.’


Strange religious logic in the U.S. bureaucracy: "Climate change causing energy disruptions"

There is an extended wail below about recent bad weather events and an assertion that they are caused by global warming and therefore presage more such events. BUT, even top Warmists like Hansen and Pachauri have conceded that there has been NO warming for 17 years. So the bad weather CANNOT have been caused by warming, since there has been no warming.

It would appear that the U.S. bureaucracy is in the grip of some sort of old fashioned revival hour or is simply 17 years behind the times. I won't suggest that they are just political hacks! Whatever drives them, the foundation of their dire prophecies just does not exist.

They do at one stage claim that 2012 was the warmest year for a long time but forget to mention that it was warmer only by hundredths of one degree. Differences that small convey stability, not change

Climate change and extreme weather already are causing disruptions in the U.S. energy supply that are likely to worsen as more intense storms, higher temperatures and more frequent droughts occur, the government says in a new report.

The report, released Thursday by the Energy Department, says blackouts and other problems caused by Superstorm Sandy and other extreme weather events are likely to be repeated across the country as an aging energy infrastructure struggles to adapt to rising seas, higher storm surges and increased flooding. A range of energy sources are at risk, from coal-fired power plants to oil wells, hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants.

Climate-related disasters have already costs tens of billions of dollars, and the report says costs could grow exponentially unless a more comprehensive and accelerated response is adopted.

On the Gulf Coast, for instance, the report cites a study by an energy company and wetland foundation projecting that by 2030, nearly $1 trillion in energy assets in the region will be at risk from rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes. Based on an analysis of hazards, assets and vulnerabilities, the Gulf Coast energy sector faces an average annual loss from climate change and extreme weather of $8 billion in 2030, the report said.

The report urges private companies, governments and research institutions to take action to further understand the risks of climate change and reduce them. The report does not offer immediate recommendations, but says power plants and oil companies should use less water and recycle what they use.

Electricity providers should harden transmission grids and build emergency backup systems, the report says, and operators of hydroelectric dams should improve turbine efficiency. The report also recommends that governments and utilities work together to reduce demand for electricity.

"Water is obviously the big question," said Jonathan Pershing, deputy assistant secretary of energy for climate change policy and technology, who oversaw the report. "In drought you don't have enough water. As seas rise, you have too much."

While the risks from drought, floods and hurricanes are clear, water plays an important role in less obvious ways as well, Pershing said. Both coal-fired and nuclear power plants, for instance, need large volumes of water for cooling. As temperatures rise, that becomes more difficult.

The report cites several examples from 2012, the hottest year in the United States since record-keeping began in 1895:

— In August, a nuclear power station in Connecticut shut down one reactor because the temperature of the intake cooling water, withdrawn from Long Island Sound, was too high. The two-week shutdown resulted in the loss of 255,000 megawatt-hours of power, worth several million dollars, the report said.

—In the Midwest, drought and low river water depths disrupted the transportation of commodities, such as petroleum and coal, delivered by barges along the Mississippi River.

—In California, reduced snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains limited hydroelectric power generation capacity by about 8 percent.

"Costs are already happening and it's getting worse," Pershing said. "We are seeing damages across all parts of the energy sector."

Rising heat in the West will drive a steep increase in demand for air conditioning, which has already forced blackouts and brownouts in some places, the report said. The Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory found that air conditioning demand in the West will require 34 gigawatts of new electricity generating capacity by 2050, equivalent to the construction of 100 power plants.

The report sends a "significant message about the risks and vulnerabilities" facing the U.S. energy sector, Pershing said. It should provide a blueprint for states and municipalities to consider, along with utilities and other energy providers and even consumers, who can do their part by reducing energy use or seeking alternative forms of energy, he said.

The report is the first of many to be produced across a range of economic sectors as the Obama administration responds to climate change and makes recommendations, Pershing said.

President Barack Obama announced a wide-ranging plan last month to combat global warming. The plan for the first time would put limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants as well as boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures.


Tax break boost for shale gas explorers in Britain

Brtain’s push for shale gas will step up a gear this week as ministers unveil long-awaited details of tax breaks for fracking and pledge to cut red tape for the industry.

The Government is keen to see exploration work begin to test the potential of vast shale gas deposits, which they hope could provide an important new source of gas for the UK.

The British Geological Survey said last month there could be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas in northern England alone. If just 10pc could be extracted it could meet Britain’s needs for more than four decades.

Ministers have pledged to launch a consultation before Parliament rises for summer recess this week on details of tax breaks, first touted in October last year. The proposed allowance would see a certain portion of income from each shale gas “pad” — or production site – receive an effective rax rate of 30pc, rather than 62pc.

They have also promised guidance on planning rules for shale gas developments and to cut environmental permitting processes from 13 weeks to less than a fortnight.

Andrew Austin, chief executive of shale explorer IGas, said he was hopeful of a “sensible set of proposals which will allow the safe appraisal of the country’s shale resources”.

Richard Griffiths, energy specialist at law firm Pinsent Masons, said this week would be a “turning point for shale gas”. He said ministers may yet change their mind on a decision not to recognise shale projects as “nationally significant” for planning.


Court Strikes Down EPA Delay on Biomass Power Plant Standard

A federal appeals court on Friday put pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to move quickly on a rule that addresses carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants that burn timber and agricultural waste to generate electricity.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down an EPA rule postponing greenhouse-gas standards for new biomass power plants, but it didn't specify a timetable for the agency to act. The court said the EPA had failed to justify its reasons for the delay.

The ruling comes just weeks after President Barack Obama unveiled a broad new plan to address climate change, targeting mostly emissions from power plants that burn coal or natural gas.

Friday's decision could also have a direct impact on a handful of new facilities that recently obtained permits or are in the process of getting them now.

"Our industry needs regulatory certainty so that biomass resources can be utilized to their fullest extent," said Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association.

EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said the agency "will review the decision to determine any next steps."

At issue is the EPA's 2011 decision to postpone a greenhouse gas rule for "biogenic" sources of carbon dioxide—that is, emissions that come from materials other than fossil fuels.

The EPA said at the time it needed three years to study these emissions because their net effect on the environment is difficult to calculate. Part of the equation, the agency says, is figuring out much carbon dioxide trees and other biological materials absorb from the atmosphere before being decomposed or burned, emitting carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

Biomass power plants are one large source of these emissions, but landfills, ethanol producers and other facilities also emit carbon dioxide.

The industry says biomass plants are far better for the environment than facilities that burn fossil fuels, but critics disagree.

Kevin Bundy, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, the group that sued the EPA, said the emissions still needed to be addressed. "There has been a huge push over the last few years to build these wood-fired power plants, under the theory that it's clean power," Mr. Bundy said. "Our real concern is that this rush to build these plants will actually make the climate problem worse."


Britain now using emergency diesels to generate grid electricity

Inefficient and polluting. But it adds up to a juicy new tax on power users

The Government is set to make a windfall profit of hundreds of millions of pounds out of a lucrative scheme to sell power from thousands of the emergency diesel generators it owns to the National Grid. The cash will come from using them to guard against the times when the wind is too low to drive the expanding fleet of wind turbines, so staving off widespread blackouts.

Public buildings, including NHS hospitals, prisons, Army barracks and RAF bases, police and fire headquarters, schools and council offices equipped with emergency generators are to be asked to make them available on 20-minute standby to back-up the grid when supply is short. For this, they will be paid premium rates, soon to rise to the equivalent of £600 per Megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced.

This is more than 12 times the rate currently paid to ordinary power station operators, and six times the rate paid to inshore wind farm owners. Potentially, this makes Government-owed generators worth hundreds of millions to George Osborne. But it also represents another "stealth tax" on hard-pressed electricity consumers, brought about by the increasing reliance on wind power which is already heavily subsidised.

The scheme, managed by National Grid, is known as the Short Term Operational Reserve (STOR). It is better known in the private sector, where it is part of what is sometimes called "Demand Response" or even "Demand Side Response" (DSR). But the Government involvement is the real explanation behind our report on the Guardian finding that four NHS hospitals had "signed up to a deal under which they will reduce demand at peak times by using diesel-fired generators".

What the Guardian was seeing was the front end of a contract agreed earlier this year between the Government Procurement Service (GPS) and five leading electricity demand management companies called "aggregators". These highly specialist companies are ready to exploit the huge back-up bonanza created by the wind industry, turning the Government, potentially, into one of the largest providers of reserve electricity in the country. This turns privatisation on its head.

One of the aggregators which featured in the Guardian piece was KiWi Power. To administer the contract, it is working alongside another of Britain's leading aggregators, Flexitricty, which appeared in the Financial Times on 6 September 2010, claiming that private industry "can make millions of pounds annually, and help reduce the UK's carbon footprint, by selling spare electricity to the National Grid".

Now, Government is getting in on the act, alongside private sector firms, all part of what is called "Demand Side Response" of which the National Grid's "Short Term Operating Reserve" (STOR) is part.

In particular, the Government and the aggregators are benefiting from the National Grid's Aggegrator Model in STOR, introduced in December 2010, a new set of rules which effectively kick-started a new and highly lucrative electricity back-up industry.

The rules, approved by the Coalition Government, were designed to encourage new entrants into the "reserve" market, to meet the desperate need to compensate for the intermittency of wind farms and their unpredictable performance. This ups the reserve capacity available from about 2GW to 8GW by 2020 - equivalent to five nuclear power plants. Without it, the system will be destabilised by the wind power, leading to localised and general collapse and prolonged blackouts.

Previously, National Grid would only take units of 3MW or more, and there was no provision to use smaller amounts of power. But, under the new rules, aggregators can collect units as low as 500KW generated by individual clients, such as a single hospital (a 1MW generator fitted in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is illustrated immediately above), or an RAF base (pictured at the very top of this piece are newly installed CAT generators at RAF Valley). The "aggregated" power can then be sold to the grid.

Traditionally, only large industrial users could send power to the Grid. But this Government contract will rely on "smart grid" technology, which makes it possible to manage multiple small inputs from thousands of different suppliers. Remote generators are fitted with computer controls which are linked to the internet to form a network or "virtual power station". Aggregators' own control centres communicate with the equipment, using basic laptops, to turn generators on when needed - sometimes from hundreds of miles away. No action is needed by local operators.

The power is usually supplied for short periods when the grid is under stress and needs immediate capacity to replace power lost when the wind dies. This gives time for conventional power stations to be started up and brought online. Typically, the so-called STOR equipment will remain online for an hour to an hour-and-a-half during each "call". Short-lived peaks can also be "shaved", reducing the need to start up conventional power stations.

The system mirrors US experience where the giant energy management company EnerNoc - which now operates in the UK – was in 2010 already controlling 5.1GW of power from 8,200 American locations - more power than is produced by Drax power station in Yorkshire, Britain's largest, rated at nearly 4GW.

Potentially, there is 20-30GW available from standby emergency generators in Britain, much of it under Government control - which compares with the national peak winter load of 55GW and a typical daily load of 35GW.

For Alastair Martin, managing director of Flexitricity, the Government contract is the opportunity of a lifetime. His Edinburgh-based company started up in 2008 and, for every six months in the business has doubled the amount of capacity under its management.

In 2011, it was hoping to grow enough to replace one coal-fired power station and, by 2014, to manage the capacity equivalent to that consumed by the City of Manchester. Now, with this four-year government "framework" contract under its belt, Martin's company is well on its way to achieving its goal.

The power coming from Government buildings will mostly be used for the short-term balancing. But, says Martin, when it comes to dealing with the daily peaks, "there is more than enough unexploited capacity in the hands of industrial and commercial energy users. They can provide all of the reserve electricity that National Grid requires until 2020 without building a single additional power station".

As to, KiWi Power, it is also well aware of the contract's potential. On 20 September 2010, its cynicial message to the Financial Times was that selling capacity to the grid was "Money for nothing".

Disguising the fact that it was seeking to sell "dirty" diesel-generated electricity, it concentrated on making a "green" pitch. Renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar may make more headlines, "but energy efficiency" could make "a bigger contribution to cutting emissions", it told the paper.

A holistic approach to energy management according to McKinsey, the consultants, could yield savings worth $1,200bn by 2020 in the US. Kiwi Power wanted to work with the National Grid, to exploit the potential in Britain, for a market that will be worth £1 billion by 2015, equivalent to five percent on electricity bills.

Instead of supplying more power, daily peaks can be reduced by cutting non-essential energy consumption – typically lighting, air conditioning, air circulation and bulk refrigeration. This is part of the Demand Response system, and operations which promise to cut their consumption to order during peaks could make £5,000 to £50,000 a year, said KiWi Power's director, Ziko Abram. But that was never to be the major part of the company's business. Even at that time, he revealed that the real money was in larger sites with back-up diesel generators, selling dirty electricity to the grid.

Usually, generators in public buildings are usually kept only for emergencies, and stand idle unless there is a power cut. With occasional test runs, they may not be used for more than 200 hours in a 20-year life. But they can now be used to earn £100,000 a year, just for being available to the grid and producing between 50 and 400 hours of electricity each year. They are only used when not needed by their operators.

The cash potential is well known to KiWi Power. In 2010 when it was just starting out, in "almost five months" and with just 10 staff, it saved 50MW, the amount needed to power 10,000 houses. At today's inflated prices, that amount of capacity placed on the reserve market could earn fees of more than £1 million.

Then, the company had only twelve clients in the UK, including the Reuben Brothers, a privately property investor, Cleveland Potash Mining, the only potash mine in the UK, Eden Shopping Centre and London Oxford Airport. But even then the potential was apparent. Payments for large, energy intensive operators with backup generators can amount to "millions of pounds" the company told Mining News back in 2010.

By October 2012, KiWi Power had moved into the public sector and had signed up Lister Hospital, part of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. At the hospital, four new diesel generators had been installed (one illustrated below), giving it 4.5MW capacity to send to the grid. The machinery is controlled via KiWi Power's centre in London, when it is not needed by the hospital, and is expected to earn more than £100,000 a year.

Such earnings are now to be multiplied hundred and possibly thousand-fold, as more and more generators are brought into the scheme. Leading the way will be NHS hospitals like Lister. Perhaps the one consolation for weary consumers struggling under the burden of yet another "stealth tax" on electricity, is that, if the NHS can't keep its patients alive, at least it can help keep the lights on and earn enough money to pay its chief executives' generous pensions.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


14 July, 2013

Climate consensus cracking under weight of evidence

By Larry Bell

As the President demonstrated once again during his “climate action plan” address in Georgetown, he is not someone ever to allow facts to stand in the way of ideology and Green lobby cronyism. The familiar take-away line is that even more regulation is essential to bludgeon energy producers and consumers to abandon climate-ravaging fossil fuels in favor of heavily taxpayer-subsidized “alternatives.”

Even his staunch allies in all things liberal, the New York Times, appears to have finally recognized that the feverish climate fervor behind these Green grab gambits is overheated. They reported on June 6 that, “The rise in the surface temperature of Earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.” Reporter Justin Gillis went on to admit that the break in temperature increases “highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system,” whereby the lack of warming “is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists.”

Incidentally, on the same day that the NYT wondered where the warming went, the Washington Post breathlessly reported that “Global emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4 percent to 31.6 gigatons in 2012, setting a record and putting the planet on course for temperature increases well above international climate goals.”

They went on to quote the International Energy Agency declaring that “continuing that pace could mean a temperature increase over pre-industrial times of as much as 5.3° C (9° F), which IEA chief economist Faith Birol warned ‘would be a disaster for all countries,’ ”

Yup. Climate Really Changes…Has Before…Will Again.

Should lack of actual recent observed warming be taken to mean that climate doesn’t change, or that warming won’t occur again? No…hardly. But it does suggest a couple of important things. First, and foremost, it means that theoretical climate models upon which crisis claims are entirely based can’t be trusted. Second, if those models can’t be validated, then claims of consensus attributing an unproven crisis to human CO2 emissions, or to any other cause for that matter, certainly don’t warrant legitimacy either.

Isaac Held, a research scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, says “no one has ever expected warming to be continuous, increasing like a straight line.” He’s right about that. As Fred Singer stated in my recent article, “the global climate has warmed since the Little Ice Age (about 1400-1700 AD), and it will likely continue to warm for another 200-300 years, in fits and starts, towards a max temp roughly matching that of the Medieval Warm Period.“

Held notes that observations “make it more plausible that the size of climate response to greenhouse gas increase is on the lower side of what models have been projecting over the last 10 or 20 years than over the high side.” Citing scientific uncertainty, particularly with regard to cloud influences, he said “It’s like cancer.” Held referred to “many, many research problems” posed by numerous types of clouds, each with their own special properties that might reflect or trap more or less of the sun’s heat.

Can’t Be the Models… Something Must Be Wrong With the Climate!

Mark Maslin and Patrick Austin stated in their June 2012 article in the journal Nature that, for the next UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, “climate scientists face a serious public-image problem.” If the ClimateGate scandals weren’t enough, they observe that, “The climate models they are working with, which use significant improvements in our understanding of complex climate processes, are likely to produce wider rather than smaller ranges of uncertainty in their predictions. To the public and to policymakers, this will look as though the scientific understanding of climate change is becoming less, rather than more, clear.”

D’ya suppose they might have something there?

Maslin and Austin emphasize that a major uncertainty relates to subjective ways models are weighted. They note, for example, that “Every model has its own design and parameterizations of key processes, such as how to include clouds: and every model and its output [in IPCC’s last 2007 assessment] was assumed to be equally valid, even though some perform better than others in certain ways when tested against historic records. The differences between the models will be exacerbated in the 2013 IPCC assessment, because many, but not all, of the models have improved spatial resolution.”

Writing in The New Republic, Nate Cohn shares Maslin’s and Austin’s public climate science confidence concern: “Since 1998, the warmest year of the 20th Century, temperatures have not kept up with computer models that seemed to project steady warming: they’re perilously close to falling beneath even the lowest projections.” He observes that “in the end, the so-called scientific consensus on global warming doesn’t look much like consensus when scientists are struggling to explain the intricacies of the earth’s climate system, or uttering the word ‘uncertainty’ with striking regularity.”

Cohn then unhappily concludes, “The recent wave of news and magazine articles about scientists struggling to explain the warming slowdown could prolong or deepen the public’s skepticism.” He’s correct in acknowledging an existing and growing public skepticism.

How Trustworthy are those Models? Here’s a Reality Check.

Well-known climatologists Roy Spencer and John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville compared global mean temperature increases predicted by 73 models from 1979 to present with those actually observed. The observed temperatures were taken from four balloon radiosonde datasets and two satellite datasets which provided virtually identical trends. Less reliable ground readings weren’t used to avoid misleading trend data resulting from land-use changes around recording stations. In addition, the observed temperatures were taken from the tropical troposphere, a region where models project the strongest, least ambiguous greenhouse warming signal.

The results of the modeled versus observed trends revealed a striking contrast. Seventy of the model plots increased sharply over the measurement period, and three increased more modestly. Observed temperatures slogged along a slow incline, overall about two-thirds lower, amounting to a less than 0.25° C increase since the beginning. Many of those disproven models will serve as the basis for IPCC’s next report.

Cohn finally confesses that, “Nonetheless, the combination of imperfect data, overlapping explanations, and continued uncertainty means that scientists cannot discount the possibility that they have overestimated the climate’s ‘sensitivity’ to additional greenhouse gas emissions.”

And what are some of those overlapping explanations and uncertainties? Well, even as Cohn points out, there are unfathomable (sorry…pun intended) ocean influences…although sea surface temperatures and the upper heat content didn’t increase over the last decade by enough to account for the “missing heat” that greenhouse gas emissions should have trapped in the Earth’s climate system but couldn’t find.

So some scientists (including Kevin Trenberth) have speculated that the heat may have taken a dive into the deep ocean, beneath 700 meters (where lamentably, there are no reliable temperature measurements). And how have they arrived at this hypothesis? Well, perhaps you already guessed the answer. Of course! They developed some hypothetical, unproven guess-work models.

Another theory attributes the lack of warming to an increase in stratospheric aerosol levels since 2002. Although there hasn’t been a large volcanic eruption to blame since 1991, some have correlated this with increased coal burning from South and East Asia.

Worse Yet…Some Very Chilling Prospects.

Yes, and there are other scientists who think that the heat is missing because it never made it into the Earth’s climate system in the first place due to the fact that the sun’s energy output ebbs and wanes. In fact, scientists at Russia’s prestigious Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg have stated that solar activity is waning to such an extent that the global average yearly temperature will begin to decline into a very cold and protracted climate phase.

Observatory head Habibullo Abdussamatov, one of the world’s leading solar scientists, member of the Russian Academy of Science, and director of the Russian segment of the International Space Station, points out that over the last 1,000 years deep cold periods have occurred five times. Each is correlated with declines in solar irradiance much like we are experiencing now with no human influence. “A global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions. The common view of Man’s industrial activity as a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect.”

Murry Salby, a climate scientist at Macquarie University in Sydney, agrees about the cause and effect reversal: “in the real world, global temperature is not controlled exclusively by CO2, as it is in the model world…in significant part CO2 is controlled by global temperature, as it is in the proxy record.” Salby points out that when models that have been predicting CO2-induced heating differ from direct observations, then they’re wrong, calling practices that claim otherwise a “cult science.”

Climate of Fear for Alarmists…Fewer People are Listening.

There can be little doubt that ongoing climate science consensus bleatings are receiving less and less of a howling response. According to Pew Research, fewer than half of all Americans now believe that scientists agree that warming is mostly due to human activities, down from 59 percent in 2006 to 45 percent today. And according to their annual policy priorities survey released last January, only 28 percent of those polled believed that global warming was a top priority for the President and Congress to address this year (ranking at the bottom of the 21 priorities listed). Four in ten of those who said it should be a top priority were Democrats, compared with only 13 percent of Republicans and about 30 percent of Independents.

Referring to flat temperatures and cooling public trust, The Economist observes that “there’s no getting around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, such as carbon taxes and emission treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases.” The article points out that the moralizing stridency behind such policies was founded upon the idea that there is a scientific consensus about how much warming there would be if carbon emissions continue to rise according to a particular trend and heated debates regarding the economic and social damage that will result. “If that consensus is now falling apart, as it seems to be, that is, for good or ill, a very big deal.”

The Economist concludes: “The reality is that the already meager prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency. Whether or not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.”

No, that’s really not unreasonable at all. But there are a couple of larger issues. First, will someone at the New York Times please inform the President about this? Even more important…will he really care to know?


Does the environment naturally process CO2?

By Willie Deutsch

With Obama’s War on Coal in full display, the economic destruction the environmental movement is willing to cause to eliminate CO2 emissions and “save the planet” is becoming tragic. Environmentalists depend on two claims 1.) Rising CO2 emissions will harm the planet, and 2.) Humans can emit enough CO2 emissions to effect this change.

While both claims are debatable, there are some recent studies which bring the first into doubt. One of the primary concerns that global warming alarmists have is that over time CO2 will build up in the atmosphere causing a green house effect which will trap heat on the planet and warm the earth. One thing missing from their equations is whether CO2 is naturally used up by the earth. Recent studies indicate the earth has two natural processes for doing just that.

An article published July 9 entitled “Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Causing Desert Greening” details one of these studies. “A new study, based on satellite observations, CSIRO, in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) reported that the rising levels of carbon dioxide have caused deserts to start greening and increased foliage cover by 11 percent from 1982-2010 across parts of the arid areas studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa.” The study used mathematical modeling together with satellite data. The Australian scientists found that CO2 acted as a fertilizer in warm climates. This was because “elevated carbon dioxide levels affect the photosynthesis process of a leaf causing it to consume less water to convert sunlight into sugar. This leads to plants in arid environments increasing their number of leaves.”

While the study warned of potentially dangerous secondary effects that required more research, this study seems to confirm that the earth is using up increased CO2 to create more trees, which will in turn use up more CO2 since trees continually turn CO2 into oxygen.

This reinforces research by Dr. Craig Idso in his book, ““The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, ” discussing the potential benefits of higher CO2 levels. As a result of higher atmospheric CO2, earth’s plants are likely to sustain themselves within large portions of their natural habitats, which will also work to the advantage of animal life that depends on those plants, Idso observed at the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council annual meeting.

“The end result is a future where there will likely be a great CO2 induced proliferation of regional biodiversity as opposed to extinctions of species globally,” he said. “Lots of peer reviewed research supports this outcome.”

There is also a fascinating UCLA textbook-like summary on the relationship between plate tectonics and the carbon cycle. In it they contend that plate tectonics act as a natural carbon recycling process through subduction and eruption:

“Subduction is the process by which continental crust slides beneath another portion of crust. The subducting crust melts and becomes magma, the material that fuels volcanic eruption. The melted crust contains carbon in the sediments and soils, thus recycling it through the mantle of the earth.

“The melted crust convecting through the mantle will eventually resurface in the form of lava during eruptions from volcanoes. These volcanoes were originally formed by tectonic forces–where there is an excess of magma below the crust due to subduction, it is forced to erupt. The process of eruption includes degassing. Degassing is where carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as the eruption occurs because the dissolved carbon in the magma is unstable and under pressure, and is therefore forced to leave the fluid.”

While clearly a much more destructive form of recycling, the idea that the earth naturally recycles CO2 is something that is often overlooked, and worth remembering.

Work by John Kehr, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Matt Ridley undercuts an even more fundamental myth of global warming alarmists: the idea that rising CO2 levels causes the earth to warm. Writes Ridley, “First, it’s true that in the distant past (hundreds of thousands of years ago) a rise in carbon dioxide sometimes did follow a rise in temperature.” Actually, this is invariably the pattern in the ice core record, not ‘sometimes.’ Moreover, as you can see on John Kehr’s excellent graphs here, the inconvenient truth is that at the end of the Eemian interglacial temperature fell steadily for thousands of years before CO2 levels fell at all.”

The Ridley article goes on to cite studies and data which look at the earth’s historic temperature shifts, which all interestingly happened before fossil fuels were depended on for fuel, and argues there is no historic correlation between CO2 levels and the earth’s temperatures. He admits that, “CO2 is a greenhouse gas and will in the absence of other factors cause net warming,” but finds it highly doubtful that current CO2 rises can cause dangerous warming. Some of the factors which keep the environmentalists modeling from aligning with what actually happened and is happening probably includes the two factors outlined above, as well as other potentially still unknown processes occurring in a highly complicated biosphere.

2008 research by Christopher Monckton in “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered” found that the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had most assuredly overstated the impact of CO2 on warming in its climate models.

Writes Monckton, “[T]he IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated. There may, therefore, be a good reason why, contrary to the projections of the models on which the IPCC relies, temperatures have not risen for a decade and have been falling since the phase-transition in global temperature trends that occurred in late 2001. Perhaps real-world climate sensitivity is very much below the IPCC’s estimates. Perhaps, therefore, there is no “climate crisis” at all. At present, then, in policy terms there is no case for doing anything. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.”

This uncertainty on the impact of CO2 levels on the environment makes Obama’s War on Coal seems like the destruction of jobs and a way of life for many is based on blind faith instead of irrefutable data of an eminent impending global catastrophe.


NYC Mayor Bloomberg Announces $20 Billion Climate Change Plan

May it be as successful as his ban on large fizzy drinks!

Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a $20 billion plan to defend New York City from what he says will be the ravages of global warming in the coming decades. Bloomberg’s plan will cost the average New York City household nearly $3,000.

Bloomberg’s 430-page plan, Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, includes approximately 250 recommendations ranging from new floodwalls and storm barriers to upgrades in the city’s power and telecommunications infrastructure. The plan also calls for $1.2 billion in loans and grants to help owners make buildings more resilient to floods and proposes changes in the city’s building code.

The mayor announced his proposal eight months after Hurricane Sandy (which had diminished to tropical storm force winds at landfall) struck New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

New York has always had to deal with the threat of flooding. Hurricanes and severe tropical storms have struck the area periodically since the founding of New Amsterdam (today’s New York) in 1624.

Bloomberg announced the plan by claiming New Yorkers could either “do nothing and expose ourselves to an increasing frequency of Sandy-like storms” or “make the investments necessary to build a stronger, more resilient New York.”

Facts Contradict Mayor

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricane data contradict Bloomberg on the “increasing frequency of Sandy-like storms.” Major hurricanes are actually becoming less frequent as the planet gradually warms. During the 30 years between 1930 and 1960, five major hurricanes made landfall in the Northeastern United States. During the 50-plus years since 1960, only one major hurricane struck the region.

The same trend of decreasing hurricanes applies throughout the United States. According to NOAA data, major hurricanes struck 50 percent more frequently between 1900 and 1950 than has been the case since 1950.

“I have trouble seeing exactly how spending $20 billion—that’s billion with a ‘b’—will prevent bad weather or climate,” said climate scientist Willie Soon. “In general, to be more prepared is a good thing. But preparing, as New York City is apparently doing, using the faulty climate modeling scenarios offered by the UN IPCC [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] is a serious distortion of basic science.”

Sea Level Rise Not Accelerating

Global sea level rose approximately eight inches during the past century and shows no signs of acceleration. Nevertheless, global warming alarmists claim sea level will rise by up to six feet by the end of this century.

“Global sea levels will not rise by the three to six feet imagined by the IPCC political scare tactics,” Soon explained. “So adding this large amount [of sea level rise] to the scenario for New York City will be too extreme for any commonsense approach to disaster preparedness.”


Horrors! Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Causing Desert ‘Greening’

What about the "fragile ecosystems" that disrupts!

Rise in the level of carbon dioxide in the air is causing desert "greening" and has increased foliage cover by 11 percent.

Up until now the negative aspects of rising levels of carbon dioxide have been highlighted in almost all studies conducted on this matter. A new study, based on satellite observations, CSIRO, in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) reported that the rising levels of carbon dioxide have caused deserts to start greening and increased foliage cover by 11 percent from 1982-2010 across parts of the arid areas studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa.

"In Australia, our native vegetation is superbly adapted to surviving in arid environments and it consequently uses water very efficiently," CSIRO research scientist, Dr Randall Donohue, said in a press statement. "Australian vegetation seems quite sensitive to CO2 fertilization."

While scientists have speculated that carbon dioxide may be causing such changes, this is the first study that confirmed the effects. For the study, researchers used a mathematical modeling together with satellite data adjusted to take out the observed effects of other influences such as rainfall, air temperature, the amount of light and land-use changes.

Elevated carbon dioxide levels affect the photosynthesis process of a leaf causing it to consume less water to convert sunlight into sugar. This leads to plants in arid environments increasing their number of leaves. This increase in the number of leaves can be easily detected by satellites since foliage cover is less in arid areas when compared to wet locations.

"On the face of it, elevated CO2 boosting the foliage in dry country is good news and could assist forestry and agriculture in such areas; however there will be secondary effects that are likely to influence water availability, the carbon cycle, fire regimes and biodiversity, for example," Dr Donohue concluded. "Ongoing research is required if we are to fully comprehend the potential extent and severity of such secondary effects."

The findings of the study were published in the journal US Geophysical Research Letters.


Shrub Proliferation Throughout Low Arctic Ecosystems. The Arctic is getting greener too

Discussing: Lantz, T.C., Marsh, P. and Kokelj, S.V. 2013. Recent shrub proliferation in the Mackenzie Delta Uplands and microclimatic implications. Ecosystems 16: 47-59.


The authors write that "local observations, repeat photos, and broad-scale remote sensing suggest that tall shrubs are becoming an increasingly dominant component of Low Arctic ecosystems," but they say that "to date there have been few quantitative estimates of the rate of tall shrub expansion."

What was done

To help fill this data void, Lantz et al. "used soft copy stereo visualization of air photos to map fine-scale changes in tall shrub tundra and green alder density in the upland tundra north of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, between 1972 and 2004," while also using 2004 photos "to map tall shrub tundra in areas affected by fires that occurred between 1960 and 1968."

What was learned

The three Canadian researchers report that "the vegetation in the upland tundra east of the Mackenzie Delta has changed dramatically in the last three decades with relative increases in tall shrub cover and alder density of 68.1 and 35%, respectively," while noting that "fine-scale anecdotal observations and broad-scale investigations using NDVI [Normalized Difference Vegetation Index] suggest that changes in vegetation have been widespread (Bhatt et al., 2010; Mackay and Burn, 2011)."

What it means

"Based on these results," in the words of Lantz et al., they suggest that "predicted increases in the size and frequency of tundra fire are likely to drive rapid shrub proliferation in the Low Arctic." Indeed, they report that local observations in other regions, combined with broad-scale remote sensing studies, suggest that similar changes have taken place across the Low Arctic portion of the entire Northern Hemisphere, citing Silapaswan et al. (2001), Thorpe et al. (2002), Jia et al. (2003), Stow et al. (2004), Forbes et al. (2010), Beck and Goetz (2011) and Fraser et al. (2011). And they say that "in the Northwest Territories and Alaska, anecdotal observations and population age structure data suggest that the proliferation of the nitrogen fixing species green alder has contributed significantly to the observed vegetation changes," citing Tape et al. (2006) and Lantz et al. (2010). And that is one of the many different places and ways in which the greening of planet earth continues.


Want to kill fewer people? Go nuclear

The record of deaths and diseases over the past 60 years shows nuclear power is safer than every other source of energy.

Most of us do not understand every quantum-level nut and bolt of nuclear power - we have physicists for that. That does not quite explain why many people still treat it like black magic.

Any suggestion that we use nuclear power virtually incites a pitchfork-waving mob who demand we have nothing to do with it, while relying on other energy sources that all kill more people.

Nuclear power is the safest source of energy by a long way. Solar power causes five to 10 times as many deaths (depending on the estimate of panel longevity) per unit of energy generated.

That can't be right, is most people's first instinct. Similarly, findings by a United Nations panel and the World Health Organisation that the Fukushima nuclear accident caused no deaths or illnesses, and is unlikely to affect the future health of anyone but a few emergency staff, were so widely ignored they must simply have been disbelieved.

Remember, this was the worst-case nuclear scenario of reactor meltdowns amid the catastrophe of one of the biggest earthquakes and tsunamis in history. The operator had a culture of corner-cutting and cover-ups. Even then, the record shows, the predictors of apocalypse got it badly wrong and the experts - nuclear physicists - got it right.

We also have decades of operational experience and research, which enable us to calculate every energy source's ''death print''. The data compiled by the WHO, the International Energy Agency, NASA, the Centres for Disease Control and the National Academy of Sciences in the US, and the Europe-wide ExternE project all points to a similar conclusion.

Counting the deaths from power-producing activities and associated pollution and environmental damage, coal is by far the most deadly (and most studies exclude speculative estimates of global warming impacts). The WHO attributes at least 1 million deaths a year to coalmining, transport and operating accidents and air, soil and water pollution. (By contrast, even the radiation exposure of wildlife in the Fukushima evacuation zone was ''too low for observable acute effects''.) In countries where coal is a big part of the energy mix, such as Australia, this increases healthcare costs by an estimated 10 per cent.

Coal supplies half the world's electricity, in spite of an estimated global death rate of about 100 lives per terawatt hour of power - much higher than all other sources. Oil is next with 36 deaths. The world uses the two deadliest power sources for 60 per cent of its energy needs. The fourth most dangerous source, natural gas, supplies 21 per cent, at a death rate of four per terawatt hour.

The dangers of fossil fuels are not a challenge to the thinking of environmentalists (I include myself) but the risks of some alternatives surely are.

Biofuel claims 12 lives for every terawatt hour, hydro 1.4 lives (largely because of rare but catastrophic dam failures), solar 0.44 lives (mostly through roof falls and electrocution) and wind 0.15 lives. Safest of all is nuclear, which supplies 17 per cent of global electricity, at 0.04 deaths per terawatt hour. Thus, for a given amount of energy, coal power kills about 2500 times as many people.

Ah, you might ask, what about Chernobyl, the full cancerous horror of which is yet to come? Well, the above calculations include the WHO's worst-case estimates of future Chernobyl deaths. Anti-nuclear advocates rely heavily on one disaster 27 years ago, when not one plant today is comparable to Chernobyl's fatally flawed design. It even lacked a proper containment vessel. Building of the Chernobyl plant began in 1970, just 14 years after the world's first commercial nuclear power station opened. To use Chernobyl as a guide to assessing current third-generation nuclear plants and the coming fourth generation is like judging today's vehicle safety on the basis of the Model T Ford first made in 1910, 14 years after the first commercially made car.

Why should Australia turn to nuclear power? First, as a country with nearly 40 per cent of accessible uranium reserves, which happily supplies the world, we are needlessly ignoring a huge domestic energy resource. Solar and wind power are effective for many applications but are not reliable sources of the massive baseload power we need.

Second, under the status quo, we unthinkingly accept Australian deaths from mining, transporting and burning vast amounts of materials and fuels and associated pollution.

The amounts of nuclear fuel and waste are minute, which cuts mining, transport and pollution risks compared with fossil fuel loads, toxic waste and environmental damage. A coal-fired plant produces almost 15,000 times as much waste as its nuclear equivalent. Unlike most fossil fuel pollution, nuclear waste can be stored securely underground in stable geological formations.

Third, the decay of uranium-bearing ores releases radon gas, creating natural areas of high radioactivity. (Parts of Australia have restricted access because of this.) Radon accumulates in buildings and is a leading cause of lung cancer, so nuclear power may save lives by reducing its environmental release.

Fourth, nuclear plants can power cost-effective, high-volume desalination, using the waste heat energy. The heat from high-temperature reactors may also be harnessed to produce the ultimate clean fuel, hydrogen, on the scale needed to replace oil as a transport fuel. Finally, the finite nature of oil and gas reserves - which are also essential for plastic and chemical production - pose a problem of energy security.

Nuclear power could preserve oil and gas for industrial production. This might even eliminate one trigger for the use of nuclear weapons: conflict over oil and gas resources. The genie of nuclear proliferation is out of the bottle and is not dependent on civilian power plants. We might as well reject oil because it fuels hugely destructive weapons of war.

We often have blind spots when it comes to the miracles of science, and nuclear power is one. The blindness becomes wilful when we have leaders who pander to, even exploit, public fears rather than promote a rational policy approach to big national challenges.

None of these challenges has a greater bearing on our future than harnessing energy on a sustainable, industrial scale. Our civilisation has been built on that and it is folly to let romantic, ill-informed and often hysterical notions of what is sustainable, green and safe decide national energy policy.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


12 July, 2013

EVERYTHING is caused by global warming

There was a recent claim that warming will shrink all animals and make dwarves (hobbits) of us. Below we read the opposite

Fossils of a giant lizard discovered in Burma have led scientists to believe a rise in temperature 40 million years ago caused plant-eating lizards to grow to the size of the 10ft dragons.

Scientists previously thought that large meat-eating dragons grew larger than their herbivore cousins because of a lack of predators.

These findings now from from the University of California and University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggest that a warmer climate is needed for large lizards to grow - and that global warming could cause this to happen again.

Fossils of the giant lizard were originally discovered in Myanmar in Burma by scientists from University of Iowa and Duke University in the 1970s, yet paleontologists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln only recently began studying them.

The lizard king was dubbed Barbaturex morrisoni, which means Bearded Morrison, and was named after The Doors' frontman Jim Morrison.

It had ridges along the inside of its mouth that suggest the animal may have a had a skin flap in its throat, this means the lizard was likely a plant-eater.

It is thought to have been around six-foot long from nose to tail.

Scientists believe it would have weighed about 68lbs and could have resembled the modern-day bearded dragons, but around six times the size.

The original findings were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B last month.

Temperatures at the time the lizard roamed the earth - thought to be around 40 million years ago - are believed to be significantly hotter than the current climate.

And now, following further analysis of the fossils, paleontologists from the UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology suggest this warm climate helped these cold-blooded animals grow larger.

They even believe that some modern-day reptiles may grow larger as global temperatures continue to rise.

'What's cool is that this is an example of gigantism in herbivorous lizards, which tells us that if you're a reptile and vegetarian, you have to have a warm environment,' said vertebrate paleontologist Patricia Holroyd of UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology.

'These guys were nearly six feet long and weighed about 60 pounds, bigger than the antelopes in the area.'

Because today's largest lizards, like the carnivorous Komodo Dragon of Komodo Island, Indonesia, are found solely on mammal-free islands, scientists have suggested that lizards can grow large only in the absence of large mammals that compete with them or eat them.

The new fossil find suggests that a warmer climate is also necessary for cold-blooded animals like lizards to grow large on a nutrient-poor leafy plant diet.

'We think the warm climate during that period of time allowed the evolution of a large body size and the ability of plant-eating lizards to successfully compete in mammal faunas,' Jason Head, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, added.

He noted that if global temperatures were to rise at a natural pace that preserves natural, healthy habitats, Earth could evolve giant lizards, turtles, snakes and crocodiles.


Britain's backing fracking, says the "Sun", a British red top (popular newspaper)

SHALE gas won the overwhelming support of Sun readers yesterday as the answer to the UK's energy crisis.

A poll we ran found almost three-quarters of you were in favour of mining the massive reserves - using technology known as fracking - which lie under many parts of the country.

Sun readers signalled, "We're backing fracking" by 71 per cent to 29 per cent after experts estimated there are 1.3trillion cubic feet of gas lying buried between Blackpool and Scarborough.

It is thought roughly a tenth of that could be accessed - enough to last the UK for over 40 years.

A total of 2,502 votes in our website poll showed 1,776 in favour and 726 against.

Chris Davies, Lib Dem MEP for North West England, said: "I've spoken to residents around the exploration sites who have concerns, as people near any industrial development would do.

"But yes, I am supportive subject to the right controls."

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: "Shale gas is a great opportunity for Britain. It could provide secure energy, generate investment and create jobs."

But Friends of the Earth's Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: "Shale gas has been hugely over-hyped. "It pollutes the atmosphere, it threatens communities and there's plenty of evidence that it won't drive down fuel bills."

ENERGY minister Ed Davey and Environment Agency chairman Chris Smith last night hit back at Lord Lawson.

The ex-Tory Energy Secretary called the pair "ugly sisters" harming chances of a UK shale gas boom.

But Lord Smith said: "Our approach is that fracking can be a major part of Britain's future energy needs."

Mr Davey said: "Lord Lawson perpetuates the myth we need to choose renewables or gas. We don't."


Britain can't afford to surrender to the greens on shale gas

If we give in to the green lobby, Britain will drift into an energy crisis

Peter Lilley

The scandal of official reluctance to develop Britain's shale gas potential is at last beginning to surface. It may prove to be the dress rehearsal for the ultimate drama - the inexorable collapse of our whole energy strategy.

Most of us have by now heard about the US shale gas revolution. In little more than six years, shale gas has reduced America's gas prices to a third of what they are in Europe, increased huge tax revenues, rebalanced the economy, created tens of thousands of jobs, brought industry and manufacturing back to the country's heartlands, and given rise to a real prospect of American energy self-sufficiency by 2030.

Britain may well have comparable shale resources. Indeed, the Bowman shale in Lancashire is a mile thick, whereas most US shale plays are just 300 to 500 feet thick - a strangely unpublicised piece of good news. If shale gas proves abundant it could help the government meet three key objectives: rebalancing the public finances by generating large tax revenues, rebalancing the economy by boosting manufacturing, and rebalancing the north/south divide by creating jobs and a whole new industry in the north.

We will only know for sure how much is there, and can be economically extracted, by drilling. So you might assume governments would be forcing the pace. Far from it. In 2011, the government imposed an 18-month moratorium. Since that ended, Cuadrilla - the only company which has drilled in the UK - has suffered further delays because of bizarre environmental obstacles. Department of Energy and Climate Change ministers have consistently talked down the industry's prospects. When the British Geological Survey recently dramatically revised up their estimates of Britain's shale potential, the department's chiefs allegedly told them to redo the figures - further delaying the publication of their findings until the summer. There is still no date for the next licensing round to open up more acreage for drilling.

Why is Britain dragging its feet? It is all the more puzzling because there is a widespread belief that governments are putty in the hands of Big Oil. The surefire way to win a burst of applause on Question Time is to assert, when anyone mentions the Iraq and Afghan wars, that `the real reason we went to war was oil'. Yet the petroleum industry has been singularly unsuccessful in galvanising the British government to open up its own shale resources.

Whatever the power of Big Oil in the past, it has been eclipsed by `Big Green'. The green lobby is in control of the Department for Energy (to the Treasury's dismay), its objectives are enshrined in law, it dominates the EU, and it is institutionalised in Whitehall via the Climate Change Committee. These state bodies are egged on by powerful environmental NGOs, which are heavily financed by the EU (WWF receives _600,000 and Friends of the Earth Europe _1.2 million) and our government (we pay WWF œ4.1 million) to create the semblance of popular support. These NGOs can deploy any uncorroborated scare story in their war against fossil fuels.

There is a legitimate argument that the world should phase out fossil fuels to minimise global warming. The power of that argument has weakened recently. Global temperatures have failed to rise for 16 years. Recent measures of how much global temperature rises as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases are far lower than is built into climate models. The case for unilateral action to decarbonise the EU economy has weakened because China, India, USA et al won't do likewise. Even EU solidarity is crumbling now that Germany is shutting its nuclear plants and building 20 new coal ones. So the idea of Britain going it alone is risible.

The green lobby has changed tack and adopted three separate arguments to put us off exploiting our shale gas potential. First it asserts that there isn't much there anyway, and what may be there will be impossible to extract technically, economically and socially. When the PM received a briefing on shale, Cuadrilla was excluded. The select committee instead had to listen to an array of bodies from the Committee on Climate Change to the WWF - none best known for their geological expertise. We would not ask British Gas how to protect pandas, so why we are consulting WWF about shale beats me.

Without evidence from drilling, all estimates of shale gas reserves are merely educated guesses. The answer, then, is to get on and drill, not listen to these Cassandras. If they believed their own downbeat assessments about the potential of shale, they would have nothing to worry about. They argue instead that we should not drill because we might find so much that we would be tempted away from the path of righteousness, which is to abandon fossil fuels.

They have a second, more plausible argument: that even if we find enough shale gas to meet UK needs it would not bring down the gas price here as it has in the US. We are linked into the EU gas grid, so prices are set by the cost of supplies to Europe. But if gas prices don't fall as much here, the tax revenues will be far higher than in the US - allowing Britain to reduce other costs correspondingly. (Incidentally, this makes tax breaks for shale proposed in the budget look unnecessary: why give concessions to Big Oil as well as Big Green?)

When pessimism about reserves and prices fail, the green lobby deploys scare stories with a reckless disregard for the truth comparable to the MMR scare. They claim fracking will harm the water table and trigger earthquakes. The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering has dismissed fears about water contamination. It concluded that any `health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing. can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced'. The British Geological Survey debunked the earthquake scare by pointing out that Britain annually experiences 150 natural or mining-related shocks of similar or greater strength without complaint, campaigns or moratoria on mining. But green campaigners - who denigrate anyone who queries the `scientific consensus' on climate change - reject out of hand the evidence of our official scientific and geological bodies when it refutes their position.
`They say if you can remember the Sixties, talk to the police.'

`They say if you can remember the Sixties, talk to the police.'

Fracking simply means pumping water under great pressure into shale beds several kilometres underground; tiny fissures open up which are then kept open by grains of sand so that the gas can flow out. Fracking itself lasts a few days - thereafter the field pumps gas much like any conventional field. Fracking is a tried and tested technology, used since 1947. More than 100,000 wells have been fracked in recent years. Before being ousted from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, John Hayes acknowledged that not a single person had been poisoned by fracking contaminating the water table. Nor has a single building been damaged by the almost imperceptible seismic tremors. Moreover, where UK shales are a mile thick, a single rig may be able to access shales that would require up to 20 drilling sites in the USA.

Ignoring facts, greens have preferred to pay heed to the propaganda film Gaslands, which shows tapwater bursting into flame. Yet its producer, Josh Fox, has been completely discredited. The documentary Fracknation filmed Fox admitting that he knew (but chose not to mention) that gas flowed from taps decades before fracking reached that area.

Sadly, Energy Secretary Ed Davey gave credence to these scare stories by ordering an unnecessary moratorium on drilling, when a fortnight's visit to the US would have confirmed that they were nonsense. Environmentalists don't want safer shale gas. They want no shale gas. Professor Kevin Anderson, former head of the Tyndall Centre and ayatollah of the green movement, frankly states that `from a climate-change perspective, this stuff simply has to stay in the ground'.

In this respect, the battle over shale gas is only the prelude to the impending energy crisis if we continue to pursue the government decarbonisation agenda. Greens in and out of government imagine that if shale gas can be kept in the ground or little is recoverable, decarbonising the British economy will be plain sailing. As imported gas becomes ever more expensive, the alternatives will grow cheaper by comparison.

Even if UK shales prove unproductive, it is inconceivable that fracking technology will only work in the US and be incapable of extracting huge quantities in other provinces - unless, as the pessimists clearly believe, God is an American. A worldwide shale revolution will dramatically change the supply and price balance in favour of gas.

In any case, a new report by Liberum Capital warns that `moving from a largely fossil-fuel-based power system to one dominated by renewables and nuclear in just a decade and a half, whilst keeping the lights on and consumer bills affordable, may simply be impossible'. It continues: `EU policy makers have grossly underestimated the difficulties and risks of their drive to decarbonise the power sector. A crisis in UK energy policy looks increasingly likely.' As a result, investors may refuse to fund Britain's œ430 billion programme of decarbonisation.

Other than nuclear power, which is painfully slow and increasingly expensive, there are simply no affordable renewable technologies available to replace fossil fuels. Wind, solar, tidal - all need fossil fuel back-up for the substantial periods when wind, sun and tide are not available. And the lowest-carbon fossil fuel is gas. That is why DECC's central projection actually shows Britain using more gas in 2030 than it does now.

Maybe it is the realisation that Britain is rapidly approaching a crisis of our own making that explains the sudden resignation of Jonathan Brearley, the civil servant who masterminded the Energy Bill currently going through Parliament, followed by the DECC's director of strategy, Ravi Gurumurthy. The Department for Energy and Climate Change is in disarray. With luck this will prompt ministers to question the direction in which they have been heading.

Some day, viable alternatives to fossil fuels will become available. But any policy based on the assumption that this is imminent is doomed to fail. The sooner we wake up to that fact and throw off the thrall of Big Green, the better.


California Senate Rejects Plastic Bag Ban

The California Senate rejected a bill that would ban the distribution of single-use plastic grocery bag. The ban failed despite spirited support from celebrities such as Bette Midler, Jackson Browne, and Rita Wilson.

This was the third time since 2010 the state legislature rejected a bill to ban the grocery bags. If passed, it would have banned the bags from large retailers beginning in 2015 and from smaller stores in 2016. Stores would have been expected to sell or give recyclable paper bags and reusable plastic or cloth grocery bags to customers.

Celebrity Throws Temper Tantrum

After the ban was rejected, Midler excoriated the lawmakers who voted against the measure: "Plastic bags are a scourge to the planet and everything that tries to live on it," Midler told the Los Angeles Times. "Shame on them all for caving," Midler added.
Protecting Jobs

Kevin de Leon, a Democratic state senator from Los Angeles, said he voted against the bill because his district would lose 500 jobs as a result of the ban. He noted he had been inundated with phone calls by people who live in Malibu and stars who live in Hollywood, whom he chided for opposing public access to beaches in Malibu.

"Plastic bag bans are really about the Hollywood elite who don't shop in grocery stores vs. everyday people who rely on them for their strength, light weight, and convenience," said H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "Plus, people frequently reuse the plastic shopping bags for a variety of purposes, which addresses one of the alleged concerns of environmentalists."

Exaggerated Environmental Impact

Burnett said California's legislators made the right decision in rejecting the ban. The ban would have provided few if any net environmental benefits but would have destroyed California jobs, he explained.

"Political leaders have exaggerated the plastic bag problem, using figures that are unsubstantiated," said Burnett.

"Plastic bags make up only 0.5 percent of the waste stream-only half of one percent. So bag bans won't reduce waste appreciably, and what we've found is that in border cities, people shop in other cities without the bans because of the convenience," he explained.

A statewide ban would send jobs to other states and overseas to China," Burnett added.

Plastic Bag Benefits

Seton Motley, president of Less Government, a public policy organization that advocates free market solutions to societal issues, says bag bans are an unnecessary restriction that imposes inconvenience.

"The bags have multiple uses and easily meet the definition of `recyclable' in theory and practice," Motley said. "So why do a bunch of rich Hollywood leftists who don't even shop for their own groceries get to inconvenience the rest of us?

"More importantly, by banning plastic bags, California cities are waging germ warfare on their own citizens," Motley observed, noting food residue-and meat residue in particular-facilitates the growth of harmful bacteria in reused grocery bags.


A nasty organic hepatitis outbreak

Despite what apologists and promoters say, organic foods are not safer, and can be deadly

Mischa Popoff

A recent hepatitis outbreak in USDA "certified-organic" frozen berry mix has people worrying and wondering what steps are being taken to ensure that organic food is safe. Unfortunately, not many.

A remarkably similar case occurred in Germany three years ago. Forty-four people died and 3,700 fell ill after eating E. coli-contaminated certified-organic bean sprouts. Hundreds of survivors will require kidney dialysis the rest of their lives. The cause was never definitively determined, although a nearby cattle operation was suspected of contaminating water used to sprout the organic sprouts.

All this raises critical questions. What measures were taken to ensure that water used on this organic sprouting operation was safe? Was there any testing? Is there any organic field testing now in response to that German tragedy? What about numerous other outbreaks in certified-organic food - like outbreaks of listeria, E. coli and salmonella in organic spinach for instance?

Have such incidents provided incentives for organic industry leaders to recognize the need to test crops in the field, to ensure that they're safe? Have they prodded government safety inspectors to require such tests? Are organic crops already tested to ensure that these kinds of things don't happen again?

Sadly, the answer to all these questions is no or nothing. Instead, with steady media help, incidents that should spur the organic industry to take action invariably become mere bumps along the road toward expanding a food system that organic promoters hope will eventually replace conventional farming.

Meanwhile, the organic industry and news media promote regular stories about speculative (and even ludicrous) claims that genetically-modified (GM) crops might pose risks to human health. Recent articles about minute traces of GM wheat getting into a Japan-bound shipment represent just one example.

Reuters and Washington Post stories might make you think people in Japan had died from consuming this wheat, or at least fell ill. But no one did. Nor did anyone even get a headache when minute traces of unregistered GM flax got into Canadian shipments to Europe. And yet, Europe closed its market to all flax shipments from Canada in response to finding as little as one GM seed in a million.

In fact, no one has ever gotten sick from GM foods. And yet, when consumers get seriously sick or even die from eating certified-organic food, both the outbreaks and their probable causes are largely ignored.

Every "mainstream" media outlet is reporting that hepatitis might have gotten into certified-organic berries due to a person-to-person cause; perhaps a field or production line employee with hepatitis didn't wash his hands. But then why wasn't this person found? With 131 people infected (and 59 hospitalized) across eight states, how could one person possibly cause so much harm?

Far more likely is the feces-to-person route - which is exactly what analysts are finally saying. When thousands of pounds of improperly-composted manure are spread on a field, thousands of pounds of crops get contaminated. If not by animal feces, how about human? Organic farmers in many developing countries - such as Turkey, the apparent origin of this outbreak - still use rawhuman sewage to fertilize crops! In many people's opinion, that practice qualifies as "organic" - whereas using safe modern fertilizers and insecticides does not! Even worse, feces contamination cannot be washed off. It's embedded in the plant.

Moreover, in any modern nation, a person known to have hepatitis is not even allowed to work near food. This makes it even more likely that this contamination resulted from improperly-composted feces - and that the US Agriculture Department's "organic-certification" system failed again, for lack of field testing.

And yet, organic activists continue to attack modern agriculture, while demanding that the organic industry get what many consider a "free pass." After a quarter century on the market and trillions of servings containing biotech products, GM crops are still vilified for posing some sort of risk to human health - even as known risks from natural pathogens on organic crops are routinely brushed aside, even when they cause hepatitis, listeria, E. coli, salmonella, deaths and lifelong health problems.

Most people are shocked that record-keeping, record-checking, and "certified as organic are" all that "ensures" feces don't get into organic food. Meanwhile, safe synthetic ammonium nitrate is banned in organic production, forcing organic farmers to rely on composted manure. Of course, manure is safe too, as long as it's composted properly. But when it isn't, people get sick or even die.

"Organic" with manure is how we farmed for millennia, before the brilliant German scientist Fritz Haber discovered in 1917 how to extract limitless nitrogen from the Earth's atmosphere to make nitrate, the key ingredient in fertilizers that spur plant root, stem and food growth. However, organic farming tautology rejects ammonium nitrate fertilizer and insists on old-fashioned manure.

This was a minor problem when the organic movement consisted of a few Berkeley drop-outs who ran communal farms. But with sales in the billions of dollars annually, the global organic-industrial-complex must take steps to ensure that improperly composted fecal matter (animal or human) does not get into our food chain. Instead, there is a complete absence of field testing and other true safety measures.

It's ironic that environmentalists think everything "industrial" should be thoroughly, routinely and repeatedly tested, including in the modern agricultural sector. But when their preferred "organic" food production system is involved, they want us to rely on the proverbial wing and a prayer. There's no need to test organic crops, to ensure they're safe, since they're "certified" organic - say those who promote or profit from this multibillion-dollar business.


Unprecedented summer snow in Norway

That cooling sure is getting global

Snow fell on highway 7 over Hardangervidda on Saturday.

Kari Varberg (50), who owns and operates Dyranut Fjellstov, sat at the breakfast table when it started snowing on Saturday morning.

Shortly after, she was called upon to take care of two British campers who ended up in the ditch.

As long Varberg can remember, there has not been snow on the mountain lodge at the end of June.

Security Operator Morten Hansen at the Traffic surveillance reported on slush and snowy roads at 800 meters on the Hardangervidda Saturday morning.

Almost below freezing

We have a station at Finse, where the temperature is 0.9 degrees (33.6F), says Halldis Berge, the local meteorologist.

According to the Norwegian met office, temperatures should normally be around 5C (41F).

Not since NVE measurements began in 1971 has more snow been registered midway through June.

More snow is in the forecast.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


11 July, 2013

Dissident scientist fired: Shades of the old Soviet Union

How did Soviet values get transplanted to an Australian university? No mystery. The Soviets were Leftist; Universities are mostly Leftist. Tolerance and free speech are alien to both

Last month we spotlighted here the devastating synopsis of the case against conventional climate alarmism by Macquarie University physicist Murry Salby, presented last spring in Germany. It seems the Luca Brazis of the climate campaign have not taken this sitting down, and apparently Salby has been sacked from Macquarie. Over on Australian science writer Joanne Nova’s blog, Salby gives an account of what has taken place.

It is a long account you can read in full at your leisure, but the overall point is that the university apparently regretted its hiring of Salby and reneged on its commitment of support for his research, is penalizing one of his graduate students, and has used technicalities to dismiss him. Here’s the key section:
8. Under the resources Macquarie had agreed to provide, arrangements were made to present this new research at a scientific conference and in a lecture series at research centers in Europe.

9. Forms for research travel that were lodged with Macquarie included a description of the findings. Presentation of our research was then blocked by Macquarie. The obstruction was imposed after arrangements had been made at several venues (arranged then to conform to other restrictions imposed by Macquarie). Macquarie’s intervention would have silenced the release of our research.

10. Following the obstruction of research communication, as well as my earlier efforts to obtain compliance with my contract, Macquarie modified my professional duties. My role was then reduced to that of a student teaching assistant: Marking student papers for other staff – junior staff. I objected, pursuant to my appointment and provisions of my contract.

11. In February 2013, Macquarie then accused me of “misconduct”, cancelling my salary. It blocked access to my office, computer resources, even to personal equipment I had transferred from the US.

My Russian student was prohibited from speaking with me. She was isolated – left without competent supervision and the resources necessary to complete her PhD investigation, research that Macquarie approved when it lured her from Russia.

12. Obligations to present our new research on greenhouse gases (previously arranged), had to be fulfilled at personal expense.

It is likely that Tim Flannery, one of the leading climate campaign thugs who is also at Macquarie, is behind this purge.

I’m still convinced that I was correct when I said in my post on Salby last month that “I suspect there are a lot more Salbys out there in the sciences in academia.” But his treatment shows how hazardous it can be to challenge the “consensus” if you aren’t tenured. Which reminds me of a story on this point.

A few years ago a young lady I know, teaching in a top environmental engineering program at a top university, was approaching her tenure review. She had a solid record of published peer reviewed technical papers on subjects having little to do with climate, and strong teaching evaluations. But she had written one newspaper op-ed expressing skepticism about one aspect of the climate change narrative that came squarely in her field of special expertise. This was enough for some faculty to argue her tenure should be denied.

If you know anything about science departments in leading universities, they are desperate for women faculty. (At MIT, I am told the science departments are to look first for a woman for every new faculty vacancy. Unofficially, of course, since an explicit policy like this would be illegal.) Armed with this leverage, I told my friend that she should march into the dean and tell him bluntly—“If you want to give in to this crap, go right ahead. I’m sure if I start calling around at lunchtime I can get five offers by the end of the day from other universities.”

I don’t know if she spoke to the dean thusly, but she got her tenure.


Another mechanism for a solar influence on Earth's temperature

There is a book chapter titled "Warming Due To Ultraviolet Effects Through Ozone Chemistry" which offers a detailed look at ozone as a mediator of earth's temperature. It's a bit technical for non-specialists so I reproduce just a few excerpts from it below. It pretty thoroughly scotches the warmist claim that solar output does not vary enough to affect earth's temperature. It is thus an alternative/supplement to Svensmark's cosmic ray theory

The sun's yearly average radiance during its 11-year cycle only changes about one-tenth of one percent, according to NASA's Earth Observatory. But the warming in the ozone layer can be much more profound, because ozone absorbs ultraviolet radiation. Between the high and low of the sunspot cycle, radiation can vary more than 10 percent in parts of the ultraviolet range, Elsner has found.

When there are more sunspots and therefore ultraviolet radiation, the warmer ozone layer heats the atmosphere below

Although solar irradiance varies 0.1- 0.15 (this cycle) over the 11 year cycle, radiation at longer UV wavelengths increased by several (6-8% or more) percent with still larger changes (factor of two or more) at extremely short UV and X-ray wavelengths. Energetic flares increase the UV radiation by 16%.

Ozone in the stratosphere absorbs this excess energy and this heat has been shown to propagate downward and affect the general circulation in the troposphere. Both the production and destruction of ozone in the stratosphere are exothermic (heat releasing) processes.

Thus, ozone in the stratosphere prevents highly energetic radiation from reaching the Earth's surface and converts the energy of this radiation to heat. Labitzke and Van Loon (1988) and later Labitzke in numerous papers has shown that high flux (which correlates very well with UV) produces a warming in low and middle latitudes in winter in the stratosphere with subsequent dynamical and radiative coupling to the troposphere.

Shindell (1999) used a climate model that included ozone chemistry to reproduce this warming during high flux (high UV) years. The winter of 2001/02 (figure 2), when cycle 23 had a very strong high flux second maxima provided a perfect verification of Shindell and Labitzke and Van Loon’s work.

NASA reported on the use of the Shindell Ozone Chemistry Climate Model to explain the Maunder Minimum (Little Ice Age). Their model showed when the sun was quiet in 1680, it was much colder than when it became active again one hundred years later. “During this period, very few sunspots appeared on the surface of the Sun, and the overall brightness of the Sun decreased slightly. Already in the midst of a colder-than-average period called the Little Ice Age, Europe and North America went into a deep freeze: alpine glaciers extended over valley farmland; sea ice crept south from the Arctic; and the famous canals in the Netherlands froze regularly—an event that is rare today.”

The UV is only one candidate solar related variance that may influence climate. Though the IPCC and alarmist scientists like to point to the small changes in the brightness/irradiance as evidence that the sun does not rule the climate, these other factors collectively likely make the sun the primary candidate for climate change. This is true even for any warming from 1977 to 1998 that is above and beyond the urbanization and land use change effects.


The Global-Warming Debate: Matt Ridley Responds

A post on criticized Matt Ridley’s Mind & Matter column, “Science Is About Evidence, Not Consensus,” in the Saturday-Sunday Review section of the Wall Street Journal. Below, Viscount Ridley responds:

Sadly, Phil Plait’s understanding of the literature in this area is very superficial and out of date. He also fails to rebut my arguments entirely. Indeed, he admits I am right in the first case:

“First, it’s true that in the distant past (hundreds of thousands of years ago) a rise in carbon dioxide sometimes did follow a rise in temperature.” Actually, this is invariably the pattern in the ice core record, not “sometimes.”

Moreover, as you can see on John Kehr’s excellent graphs here, the inconvenient truth is that at the end of the Eemian interglacial temperature fell steadily for thousands of years before CO2 levels fell at all. The argument that a small warming at the start of an interglacial causes a CO2 release which causes a large warming is one that has been tested and found entirely wanting. To quote from an excellent essay on the topic: “Now, the standard response from AGW supporters is that the CO2, when it comes along, is some kind of positive feedback that makes the temperature rise more than it would be otherwise. Is this possible? I would say sure, it’s possible … but that we have no evidence that that is the case. In fact, the changes in CO2 at the end of the last ice age argue that there is no such feedback. You can see in Figure 1 that the temperatures rise and then stabilize, while the CO2 keeps on rising. The same is shown in more detail in the Greenland ice core data, where it is clear that the temperature fell slightly while the CO2 continued to rise.

As I said, this does not negate the possibility that CO2 played a small part. Further inquiry into that angle is not encouraging, however. If we assume that the CO2 is giving 3° per doubling of warming per the IPCC hypothesis, then the problem is that raises the rate of thermal outgassing up to 17 ppmv per degree of warming instead of 15 ppmv. This is in the wrong direction, given that the cited value in the literature is lower at 12.5 ppmv.”

None of this contradicts the idea that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and will in the absence of other factors cause net warming, something I have always accepted. But as I have repeatedly made clear in my writings, that’s not at issue—at least in my mind. What is at issue is the question of whether current CO2 rises can cause dangerous warming, which I no longer think is likely, though it remains possible. Why do people like Mr. Plait try to pretend that I am some kind of closet denier, rather than take on this argument, for luke-warming, and address it seriously? They are simply wasting their fire on a straw man.

As for the hockey stick, Mr. Plait repeats long-discredited defenses of the graph, including the suggestion that other selections of data have confirmed it. Surely he knows (if only because it is in my article) that these confirmations rely on including Tiljander’s lake sediments or bristlecone pines, but that if you leave these now-debunked data sets out, then the effect vanishes. Please read Climate Audit to verify this. Here’s a quote:

“As CA readers are aware, the ‘big news’ of Mann et al 2008 was its claim to have got a Hockey Stick without Graybill’s bristlecone chronologies (camouflaged as a ‘no-dendro’ reconstruction). CA readers are aware that this claim depended on their use of contaminated modern portion of the Tiljander sediments and that the original claims for a ‘validated’ no-dendro reconstruction prior to 1500 fell apart, even though no retraction or corrigendum to the original Mann et al (PNAS 2008) has been issued.As we learned (from an inline comment by Gavin Schmidt in July 2010), Mann et al have conceded that these claims fell apart, but did so using a “trick” (TM- climate science.) Instead of acknowledging the false assertions at the journal in which the assertions were made (PNAS), they acknowledged the failure of the no-Tiljander no-bristlecone reconstructions deep in the Supplementary Information of a different paper (Mann et al, Science 2009) – a trick for which the term ‘Mike’s PNAS trick’ is surely appropriate (though the term ‘Mike’s Science trick’ also merits consideration.)”

And I am gobsmacked to find Mr. Plait showing the Marcott et al graph, when this was comprehensively demolished within weeks of publication as evidence for unprecedented temperatures: See a good summary of the scandal here.

Note that the authors themselves said:

“[The] 20th-century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions.”

I am sorry, but Mr. Plait really should do his journalistic research better. He has missed important developments on both questions.


Obama Administration Forecasts Bright Future For Fossil Fuels

President Obama has frequently promoted renewable energy sources, and said during his 2012 campaign that “We’ve got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments.” By “investments” Obama most likely means massive “taxpayer-funded subsidies” for wind, solar, and biofuels. At the same time, Obama has often dismissed fossil fuels as “energy sources of the past.” But according to projections from Obama’s Department of Energy, the reality is much different — fossil fuels will continue be America’s dominant source of energy for at least the next quarter century, while renewables, even with taxpayer life support, will continue to play a relatively minor role as an energy source for the US.

Here’s what the Department of Energy reported on its website last week:

"While the overall energy history of the United States is one of significant change as new forms of energy were developed, the three major fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal, which together provided 87% of total U.S. primary energy over the past decade—have dominated the U.S. fuel mix for well over 100 years. Recent increases in the domestic production of petroleum liquids and natural gas have prompted shifts between the uses of fossil fuels (largely from coal-fired to natural gas-fired power generation), but the predominance of these three energy sources is likely to continue into the future."

MP: The chart above illustrates the importance of fossil fuels to America as an energy source — in the past, today, and in the future. Over almost a one-hundred year period from 1948 to 2040, fossil fuels have provided, and will continue to provide, the vast majority of America’s energy by far (based on Department of Energy data here, here and here). Last year, fossil fuels provided almost 84% of America’s energy, which was nearly unchanged from the 85% fossil fuel energy share twenty years ago in the early 1990s. Even more than a quarter of a century from now in 2040, the Department of Energy forecasts that fossil fuels will still be the nation’s dominant energy source, providing more than 80% of our energy needs. So, despite President Obama’s dismissal of fossil fuels as “energy sources of the past,” the Department of Energy’s own forecasts tell a much different story of an energy future where fossil fuels serve as the dominant energy source to power our vehicles, heat and light our homes, and fuel the US economy.

Further, President Obama says we should “invest” in “energy sources of the future” — renewables like solar, biofuels, and wind — instead of focusing on oil. But again, the Department of Energy’s forecasts tell a much different story. Even after “investing” billions of dollars in government taxpayer subsidies in renewable energy already, those sources provided only 7.5% of America’s energy last year, which was actually less than the 9.3% share of renewables in 1948, more than 60 years ago — that’s not a lot of progress for the politically-popular, taxypayer-subsidized renewables. When it comes to solar and wind, those energy sources provided only 1.8% of America’s energy last year — an almost insignificant amount. Even in 2040, more than a quarter century from now, solar and wind together will account for only 3.6% of America’s energy, according to the Department of Energy forecasts, and all renewables together will provide less than 11% of the nation’s energy.

Bottom Line: The economic and scientific reality, according to Obama’s Energy Department, is that abundant, low-cost fossil fuels will continue to dominate the US fuel mix for at least the next quarter century, and probably much, much longer into the future. Meanwhile, politics aside, the economic and scientific reality according to the Energy Department is that renewable sources of energy will continue to play a minor role in America’s energy mix. In 2040, the Energy Department’s projected 10.8% share for renewables will be almost inconsequentially different from the 9.3% share in 1948. In other words, the Energy Department’s not expecting a lot of progress for renewable energies as a fuel source for America, even after almost 100 years of efforts from politicians like Obama and billions of taxpayer dollars.


France bans new Mercedes cars over 'greenhouse gases'

The latest models of Mercedes cars cannot be sold in France as they still use an air conditioning refrigerant the EU says emits excessive greenhouse gases and should be replaced, the German auto company said.

"Only new cars are subject to the measure," a company spokesman told AFP, adding that customers confronted with the ban are to be offered alternate models.

Since January 1, European Union norms demand that car makers use a cleaner R1234yf refrigerant, deemed less polluting than older products.

But Daimler is sticking to R134a, an older coolant, as it claims studies have shown that the new gas catches fire more easily and puts cars at a greater risk of explosion in case of a crash.

The makers of R1234yf reject Daimler's claims but in Germany, the auto giant was given special permission to keep using the older gas.

Daimler says it will persist with the older product with the hope that "in the next few years" a safer version will be available.

No country besides France has raised an objection to the continued use of R134a, the Daimler spokesman said.

But last month the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, threatened sanctions against German carmakers for using the refrigerant.

The Commission officially notified Germany of its objections to the continued use of the polluting gas, giving Berlin until September to comply.


U.S. Now Leads World In CO2 Emission Reductions

Fortunately, the U.S. did not sign the idiotic United Nation's Kyoto Protocol that Democrats attempted to force on the U.S. And, thank goodness for common sense, most Americans did not swallow the incredibly lame global warming fear-mongering that is a staple of left-wing, liberal politics - instead, the U.S. relied on innovation and competition, which led to the natural gas/shale fracking revolution and massive CO2 emission reductions, in spite of Al Gore and his green, anti-America jihadis

Thanks to fracking, U.S. carbon emissions are now lower than they were in 1995.

While global warming has all but disappeared (being replaced with a slight cooling trend) the U.S. free market has been busy reducing America's CO2 emissions tonnage. As the adjacent chart attests to, the U.S. leads the world's major powers over the last 5 years.

While Obama, the billionaire-crony Al Gores of the world, the anti-growth Democrats and the green-religion fanatics continue to literally lie about the threat of global warming and push for continuing anti-business and anti-job CO2 regulations, they have completely misled Americans about the phenomenal success of pro-market forces arresting CO2 emissions.

Of the major economic/diplomatic/military powers listed in this chart, only the U.S. embraced new fossil fuel technologies and non-Kyoto strategies to reduce emissions.

Over the last 5 years, fracking has not only helped America to lead the world towards a smaller carbon impact, it has massively shifted the U.S. to an improved level of energy security while vastly reducing the petro-dollar funding of Islamist terrorists - a 'win-win-win' outcome that liberal Democrats worked extremely hard to prevent and, by god, they still do.


1. The U.S. will continue to reduce its CO2 footprint by a greater utilization of new fossil fuel technologies and free market forces

2. The vast majority of countries could also reduce their CO2 emission level/growth rate if they too embraced market forces instead of more government regulations, control and fraud that only bureaucrats and cronies love and prosper from

3. The Kyoto Protocols were an abject failure as the world's CO2 emissions increased by some 10%+ over the last 5 years

4. Obama and the Democrats' most recent push for more crushing, byzantine, Kyoto-type regulations/taxes on America's industrial base will not arrest civilization's CO2 emissions; only new fossil fuel technologies (such as fracking) and open competition will produce a smaller growth rate of human industrial/consumer CO2

5. California recently rejected the alarmist lies about fracking - the U.S. will continue to lead the world in CO2 reductions if all Americans reject the 5 great fracking lies




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


July 10, 2013

An undeserved rescue

Obama admin stealthily updates enviromental cost calculations, then announces new regs. Let’s connect the dots here

I realize that I’ve already written about this impressively insidious and sneaky little rule change a couple of times now, but especially in light of what I mentioned earlier today about the many new action items the EPA has on its agenda far and away beyond even President Obama’s carbon-emissions regulatory ambitions, I really can’t emphasize enough just how extravagantly underhanded this move was — as well as the pretty major impact it’s going to have.

Last month, the Obama administration (through the Office of Management and Budget, of all things) very quietly updated their system for calculating what they call the “social costs of carbon” (SCC), a tool they use to guesstimate the costs and benefits of their proposed environmental regulations, in a seemingly inconspicuous rule about microwave oven efficiency. The higher their price estimate, the easier it is for them for justify the economic costs of their regs — and how oddly timed is it that they just tried to sneak a change to an already highly controversial estimate system beneath anybody’s notice, and that they’re getting ready to introduce all kinds of new regulations on a whole bunch of types of emissions? Too odd, if you ask me.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) connected the change in the White House’s accounting method, called the “social cost” of carbon pollution, to the administration’s plans for new environmental rules.

“Connecting the dots, it’s clear the Administration updated the social cost of carbon, without much notice, in order to justify sprawling new regulations,” he said in a statement to The Hill on Monday.

Hunter added, “And not long after, the President pulls the curtain back on a new agenda that will lean heavily on rule making, and now there’s a clear line of sight into the Administration’s plans. There must be a more transparent process, allowing the public and industry to weigh-in on something so significant. That’s something everyone can support, including those who support putting a higher cost on carbon emissions.” …

After the OMB announcement, Hunter and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill requiring a 60-day public review period for new analyses of a rule’s impacts, costs and benefits. The legislation, the Cost-Benefit and Regulatory Transparency Enhancement Act, would also require agencies to publish a report on the methods used in studies of new rules.

The Obama administration were hardly what you’d call a bunch of slouches at introducing new and costly environmental regulations during the president’s first term, and their even bigger plans for the Round 2 are quickly becoming clear — as much as they’d obviously like to prevent them from becoming too clear. Move along, people, nothing to see here.


The news about fracking is getting out in Britain

The following article by Lord Lawson appeared in a "Red Top" (popular newspaper)

IN recent weeks it has become clear that we are sitting on mind-boggling reserves of gas on a scale never before suspected.

They are locked in black rock known as shale, from which the latest technology, developed and now widely in use in America, can extract the gas safely and cheaply.

According to the British Geological Survey, there is enough now known to lie under Lancashire and Yorkshire alone to satisfy all the UK’s needs at the present rate of consumption for between 50 and 100 years.

And that is without taking into account not merely the rest of the UK, so far largely unexplored, where shale gas is known to exist, but also our offshore shale reserves, which the British Geological Survey reckons could be up to ten times the size of our onshore reserves.

Nor is it just gas. There is oil in shale, too, which is now being extracted in the US using the “fracking” technology, in increasing quantities.

Having your own supplies of gas, in particular, is hugely advantageous since, unlike oil, gas is pretty expensive to transport from overseas, as it has to be liquefied first.

As a result, in the US – which has already overtaken Russia as the world’s biggest producer of gas (and which may in due course overtake Saudi Arabia in the production of oil) – gas prices have plummeted, giving the economy a massive and continuing boost.

So, with what seem to be the largest shale reserves in Europe – and maybe, who knows, in the world – we are a lucky people.

Or so you might suppose. But that is to reckon without the two ugly sisters who are determined that Cinderella shall not go to the ball. The first is an influential quango, the Environment Agency, headed by Labour peer Lord Smith, which (to some extent at the behest of the European Union) is busy inventing one phoney reason after another why the extraction of shale gas should not be given planning permission.

The second ugly sister is the Department of Energy and Climate Change, under its Liberal Democrat Secretary of State Ed Davey, and its Energy Bill now before Parliament.

It would give Mr Davey the power to sign very long-term contracts with inefficient wind power operators to provide so much electricity at between twice and three times the current price that there will be no market left for the cheap electricity that could be generated using shale gas.

And they are backed by well-funded Green pressure groups, such as Friends of the Earth, who are preparing unending legal challenges for anyone seeking to provide us with cheap energy from shale.

They are all motivated by a quasi-religious obsession that carbon dioxide, essential for life on this planet and produced when gas or oil is burned, is somehow evil.

This is a belief without any serious scientific substance and one which our major competitors are rightly content to ignore.

Recognising that Brits have too much common sense to fall for this, they parade spurious environmental concerns, claiming that fracking will contaminate groundwater and lead to damaging earthquakes.

Both these objections are entirely unfounded. Despite the hundreds of thousands of shale wells drilled in the US, there is not a single, authenticated case of groundwater contamination. This is hardly surprising. Groundwater, as its name implies, is near the earth’s surface. Shale gas is drilled deep, deep, down.

There is usually at least a mile of solid rock between the groundwater and where the fracking occurs.

As for earthquakes, while there have been a few instances of minor tremors deep down where the fracking takes place, these have no effect whatsoever on the surface, where we all live.

At my age, it probably makes little practical difference whether fracking goes ahead in the UK or not. It will certainly go ahead elsewhere, as it does in the US to the great benefit of the American economy.

But I do still care about the future of this country. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a country that is prosperous and confident, not one that is impoverished, fearful, and self-harming.

That is what is at stake.


Fracking phobia fails yet again

The pro-fracking conspiracy in the United States is so vast that it evidently encompasses the Environmental Protection Agency, famously a tool of the oil and gas industry.

The EPA just dropped its study of fracking allegedly contaminating the water in Pavillion, Wyo.The enviro Left had rejoiced at the news a few years ago that the EPA had for the first time implicated fracking as a threat to groundwater. Now, amid criticisms of its methodology, the EPA has backed down and won’t issue a final report. It’s handing the matter off to the state of Wyoming, which has been dubious of the EPA’s claims.
Not winning converts: Josh Fox with fellow anti-fracker Yoko Ono.
Not winning converts: Josh Fox with fellow anti-fracker Yoko Ono.

It’s one in a long series of disappointments for anti-fracking crusaders who expect at least the EPA, if no one else, to credit their crackpottery and paranoia.

According to ProPublica, “environmentalists see an agency that is systematically disengaging from any research that could be perceived as questioning the safety of fracking or oil drilling.” It never occurs to them that perhaps the evidence doesn’t back up the anti-fracking hysteria.

Consider a celebrated case in Parker County, Texas. Resident Steven Lipsky had methane in his drinking water. The EPA fastened on the idea that Range Resources had contaminated his well through fracking, and hit the company with an endangerment finding and remediation order. But as Mario Loyola of the Texas Public Policy Foundation recounts, the EPA couldn’t actually defend any theory whereby the fracking had polluted the well.

Slowly, the agency retreatedin ignominy. It turned out that the well wasn’t contaminated at all, but contained levels of methane typical in the area and below levels that the federal government considers a threat to health.

“Area residents,” Loyola writes, “had found natural gas in their water wells years before any drilling for natural gas. Some water wells were even ‘flared’ for days after drilling, to release dangerous levels of methane. One area subdivision’s water tanks warn ‘Danger: Flammable Gas.’ ”

This naturally occurring methane explains the starkest evidence against fracking — a handful of flaming faucets in Colorado, supposedly rendered flammable by fracking. They were the stars of “Gasland,” the anti-fracking filmby propagandist Josh Fox, who seeks to be the Michael Moore of natural gas. The state’s oil-and-gas commission issued a careful rebuttal explaining that in the area in question “troublesome amounts of . . . methane” had been documentedin the aquifer since 1976.

None of this is to say that fracking never goes wrong. If there’s a mechanical failure in a well, there will be problems. But this is true of any kind of drilling. There’s nothing uniquely dangerous about the act of fracking, which involves blasting mostly water and sand into a shale formation to create tiny fractures that release gas. This often happens 5,000 to 8,000 feet underground and far beneath any aquifers.

Fracking is such an obvious boon that it is embraced almost everywhere it is feasible. Now, Josh Fox is returning to the well, so to speak, with “Gasland 2,” aired on HBO.He is officially a third of the way to as many sequels as Fast and Furious. Just wait for “Gasland 6: All Fracking Leads to This.”

He must feel like he’s made the equivalent of 1970s scare-mongering anti-nuclear movie “The China Syndrome” (twice), except the nuclear industry has continued to thrive.

On an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Fox had to plead that his anti-fracking cause isn’t a fizzle. He could cite the ban in New York, but most states aren’t so economically self-destructive.

Despite a case of methane contamination a few years ago that became a cause célèbre for anti-fracking activists, then-Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, continued to green-light fracking. Even Gov. Jerry Brown in California is resistant to banning fracking in a state allergic to exploiting its natural resources.

Fracking is so self-evidently the future that, at times, even the EPA seems loath to try to stand in the way.


Shale is getting greener

Ask a green what he or she thinks about fracking, and you’re likely to get an earful of criticism about methane leaks, poisoned groundwater, and climate change disaster. But a new report from the ecologically minded Breakthrough Institute (BI) makes the case that shale gas actually has a net environmental benefit. Nevermind the boosts to our energy security, and economy that fracking provides; the controversial drilling process is worth embracing on green merits alone.

Natural gas’s biggest green qualification is the extent to which it displaces coal as an energy source. Burning coal emits roughly twice as much greenhouse gas into the air as natural gas. Thanks to the shale boom, we’re getting less of our electricity from coal-fired power plants and more from natural gas. The BI notes, “From 2008 to 2012, annual coal consumption for US electric power declined, on average, by 50 million tons.” That’s something greens should be cheering, and it’s mostly thanks to fracking.

But natural gas doesn’t just beat coal on carbon emissions. The BI explains why, at the local level, shale gas does less harm than coal:

"The environmental and community impacts of shale fracking are reliably far more modest than those created by coal mining and production. Whereas coal mining removes entire mountains and contaminates streams with hazardous waste, natural gas drill pads occupy only a few hundred square feet, and there are only a handful of cases of groundwater contamination by fracking chemicals. Whereas innovation in coal mining resulted in greater landscape degradation, innovation in gas fracking has resulted in less-toxic fracking chemicals, fewer drill pads, and better drilling practices."

It seems pretty straightforward at this point: the more natural gas we burn, the less coal we burn. That leads to lower carbon emissions and less harm to the environment and local communities.

Many greens have one final quibble: that the increased share of shale gas in our energy mix will come at the expense of the fledgling solar and wind industries.

Breakthrough has an answer for that as well. Gas plants are a lot cheaper to build than coal plants, and cheaper to scale up if needed. Surprisingly, this is actually good news for solar and wind energy. When the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, we need other sources of energy. Coal plants have high capital costs: they’re generally much more expensive than natural gas plants, which means, once built, they’re going to stay online as long as possible to recoup that initial investment. Natural gas plants are cheaper to build, so there’s less of a need to keep them on when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. In that sense, natural gas makes our power supply more flexible and boosts the viability of renewable energy sources.

Despite all of this, the green camp is firmly entrenched in its opposition to shale gas. No matter that shale gas displaces dirty-burning coal; it’s still a fossil fuel, and its emissions aren’t zero. But the world isn’t black and white, and the fact that greens can’t see in shades of gray means that they will continue to be forced to sit out serious energy policy debates. In a perfect world, we would be able to harness the power of the wind and the sun cheaply, consistently, and efficiently, but the technology isn’t there yet. Shale gas is a viable option, and a relatively green one at that.


"Renewables" out of favor in Japan; nukes reviving

The shining light that was once Japan’s renewable energy industry is beginning to dim as reality sets in and it faces competition from a rejuvenated nuclear power industry.

The green energy industry was buoyed by the nation’s distrust and fear of nuclear power triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster that crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

According to a February nationwide survey by the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation, 34 of the 79 solar energy producers who responded said they had given up on at least one solar power project. Roughly 45 percent of those respondents cited difficulties in land procurement, followed by 25 percent who said they had problems joining the power grid.

One such project in Hokkaido, located near the New Chitose Airport, called for a 100-hectare solar power generation facility. The site adjacent to the Abiragawa river remains covered in weeds to this day.

"We call it an April 17 crisis," said Hiroaki Fujii, the 43-year-old executive vice president at SB Energy Corp., a Tokyo-based company that designed the plans.

On that date this year, Hokkaido Electric Power Co. said it would only purchase a total of 400 megawatts of electricity as part of the feed-in tariff system from the so-called mega-solar power plants, each with a generation capacity of 2 megawatts or more. That amounts to turning down as many as 70 percent of the 87 applications to sell it power, filed through March, with a combined output capacity of 1.568 gigawatts.

One Hokkaido Electric official justified the decision: "Our power grid has a limited capacity. Accepting too much power from solar plants, where output levels fluctuate wildly depending on the weather, compromises a stable supply of electricity."

One Sapporo-based real estate company lost money speculating. The company purchased two plots of land to host solar power plants that never materialized. "We were taken in by a renewable energy bubble," the company's president lamented.

Hokkaido is one of the prime choices for hosting renewable energy plants, with solar power in the south of the island and wind power in the north.

"No growth target for renewable energy would be feasible without Hokkaido," said Toru Suzuki, chairman of the nonprofit Hokkaido Green Fund.

The renewable energy feed-in tariff system was introduced in July 2012. It obligates utilities to purchase electricity generated by solar and wind plants at predetermined prices. The then-ruling Democratic Party of Japan initiated the system in a bid to bolster the nation’s renewable energy production, which accounted for less than 2 percent of the total power generation at the time, to 30 percent.

The regional utility's decision to limit its purchases of solar power cannot be assigned to grid capacity alone. The decision was taken in large part due to Hokkaido Electric's expectations that all three idled reactors at its Tomari nuclear power plant will eventually go back online.

Power demand in Hokkaido at its minimum is just 3 gigawatts. The three Tomari reactors have a combined power generation capacity of 2.07 gigawatts, leaving a difference of roughly 1 gigawatt if they are returned to service. But if utilities revert to relying on nuclear power to levels before the Fukushima disaster, that could leave very little room for the emerging renewable energy industries to grow.

Enter the savior of Japan’s nuclear energy sector: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy. The Abe administration is eager to export Japan’s nuclear technologies and expertise. Not only did his government help secure a contract to build nuclear reactors in Turkey, but Abe himself, acting as the country’s top salesman, visited Saudi Arabia, India and Central Europe to promote Japanese nuclear capabilities.

In late March, a group representing the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) also visited the Sizewell nuclear power plant 160 kilometers northeast of London. The forum’s constituent members include power utilities and manufacturers dealing in nuclear technologies.

There are plans to build two more nuclear reactors on the grounds of the Sizewell site.

"Expanding our nuclear operations overseas has come to play a larger role in our perspective since the Abe administration came to power," said Akihiro Matsuzaki, an official in the JAIF Department of International Affairs and a member of the mission to Sizewell. Foundation work is already under way there.

Hitachi Ltd., which acquired Britain's Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., said it also hopes to boost the annual sales of its nuclear business division from the current 160 billion yen ($1.64 billion) to 360 billion yen by fiscal 2020.

"We will be part of Abenomics (Abe's economic policy)," Hitachi Senior Vice President Tatsuro Ishizuka told a briefing session for investors on June 13.


Madhouse rules: British Consumers ‘May Pay For Green Energy In Spain’ - To Help Britain Meet Green Targets

Britons could be forced to subsidise renewable energy schemes in other countries to help to meet the Government’s green targets, even though they would not generate any electricity or jobs for the UK.

Consumer groups have described the so-called “statistical transfer” renewable energy trading scheme as nonsense.

The coalition revealed its support for the plan at the end of last month, arguing that it could save consumers money if it was cheaper to build a wind farm or solar park overseas. By awarding subsidies funded by levies on consumer bills to foreign renewable projects, the electricity generated would count towards meeting Britain’s legally binding green target. Renewable energy developers have put forward renewable projects in Tunisia, Spain and Portugal that could sell power under the trading scheme.

Britain is struggling to meet a European Union target to generate about a third of its electricity from renewables and could face fines or legal action if it does not comply. Last year, 12.3 per cent of the country’s electricity came from renewables.

Ann Robinson, the director of consumer policy at, a price comparison website, said: “I don’t think consumers will understand this. Why should they have to pay through their bills for renewable projects built abroad? It is a nonsense. These EU targets have to be real targets; they should not be subject to these types of fixes.”




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


July 9, 2013

Science Is About Evidence, Not Consensus


Last week a friend chided me for not agreeing with the scientific consensus that climate change is likely to be dangerous. I responded that, according to polls, the "consensus" about climate change only extends to the propositions that it has been happening and is partly man-made, both of which I readily agree with. Forecasts show huge uncertainty.

Besides, science does not respect consensus. There was once widespread agreement about phlogiston (a nonexistent element said to be a crucial part of combustion), eugenics, the impossibility of continental drift, the idea that genes were made of protein (not DNA) and stomach ulcers were caused by stress, and so forth—all of which proved false. Science, Richard Feyman once said, is "the belief in the ignorance of experts."

My friend objected that I seemed to follow the herd on matters like the reality of evolution and the safety of genetically modified crops, so why not on climate change? Ah, said I, but I don't. I agree with the majority view on evolution, not because it is a majority view but because I have looked at evidence. It's the data that convince me, not the existence of a consensus.

My friend said that I could not possibly have had time to check all the evidence for and against evolution, so I must be taking others' words for it. No, I said, I take on trust others' word that their facts are correct, but I judge their interpretations myself, with no thought as to how popular they are. (Much as I admire Charles Darwin, I get fidgety when his fans start implying he is infallible. If I want infallibility, I will join the Catholic Church.)

And that is where the problem lies with climate change. A decade ago, I was persuaded by two pieces of data to drop my skepticism and accept that dangerous climate change was likely. The first, based on the Vostok ice core, was a graph showing carbon dioxide and temperature varying in lock step over the last half million years. The second, the famous "hockey stick" graph, showed recent temperatures shooting up faster and higher than at any time in the past millennium.

Within a few years, however, I discovered that the first of these graphs told the opposite story from what I had inferred. In the ice cores, it is now clear that temperature drives changes in the level of carbon dioxide, not vice versa.

As for the "hockey stick" graph, it was effectively critiqued by Steven McIntyre, a Canadian businessman with a mathematical interest in climatology. He showed that the graph depended heavily on unreliable data, especially samples of tree rings from bristlecone pine trees, the growth patterns of which were often not responding to temperature at all. It also depended on a type of statistical filter that overweighted any samples showing sharp rises in the 20th century.

I followed the story after that and was not persuaded by those defending the various hockey-stick graphs. They brought in a lake-sediment sample from Finland, which had to be turned upside down to show a temperature spike in the 20th century; they added a sample of larch trees from Siberia that turned out to be affected by one tree that had grown faster in recent decades, perhaps because its neighbor had died. Just last week, the Siberian larch data were finally corrected by the University of East Anglia to remove all signs of hockey-stick upticks, quietly conceding that Mr. McIntyre was right about that, too.

So, yes, it is the evidence that persuades me whether a theory is right or wrong, and no, I could not care less what the "consensus" says.


WMO’s Extreme Report

Dr David Whitehouse

This week’s World Meterological Organisation’s report “The Global Climate 2001-2010: A Decade Of Climate Extremes,” attracted little publicity. This is probably a good thing as it is one of the most muddled and inaccurate reports I have ever read from an international organisation.

It is about ‘climate extremes’ in the last decade which it claims are unprecedented. The WMO says that ten years is the minimum time required to detect decadal effects. Not many scientists would agree with that. Consider the extensive debate when it was noticed that the global annual average surface temperature had remained unchanging for a decade. Opinion was divided between those who said it meant nothing and those who thought it might be indicative of something. Yet the WMO thinks ten years enough to detect climatological weather effects with certainty. It seems to fit a recurrent pattern amongst some climate analysts that ten years is enough to see what you want to see, but not long enough to see what you don’t.

The report also says that global warming accelerated between 1971-2010. This is obviously not the case. It has been established in the numerous analyses carried out of the various global temperature data sets that the late 20th century warming trend did not continue in the 21st century. The report places great store on the fact that the past decade has been the warmest of the instrumental (post-1850) period. So do we all, but the WMO fails to take into account the recent temperature plateau that extends far beyond a decade.

This is another issue we have discussed many times here. Start and end points are crucial in such analysis. We have pointed out the fact that decadal bin-sizes are artificial as Nature does not know if a year has a zero at the end of it, and why did the WMO report stop its analysis of global temperature at 2010 ignoring two more valuable datapoints that solidify the temperature standstill this century.

This rather confused section of the WMO report can be summarised in its own words, “The Earth’s climate fluctuates over seasons…” Evidently, the WMO authors confuse weather extremes with climate ones.

No Clear Trend

Regarding the extremes themselves there is a tension in the text that is quite apparent. It’s a desire to attribute the weather extremes in question to man-made climate change. One almost feels sorry for the authors having to say that no clear trend has been found in tropical cyclones and extra-tropical storms on the global level, while they admit that it is still difficult to quantify the degree and climate-change influence on a single observed event.

Sometimes this underlying frustration comes out when the authors claim: “While climate scientists believe it is not yet possible to attribute individual extremes to climate change, they increasingly conclude that many recent events would have occurred in a different way – or would not have occurred at all – in the absence of climate change.”

This is a complete misrepresentation of both climate scientists and the science. There are some scientists who believe this, but it is not a majority opinion and it has not been established even though a vocal minority of them claim it has.

In reality, the 2011 IPCC SREX report pointed out that, apart from warmer nights, there is not a single weather event whose change in intensity or occurrence can be attributed to climate change. All extreme weather events so far observed are within the range of natural variability. Some, it seems, mistake events that are rare or haven’t happened before in our records, with events that are unexpected.

Temperature: Stopped But Still Rising

Given the complex background to the WMO report one might have expected some of the few media reports about it, especially those penned by specialist reporters, to have reflected some of the subtleties. Not a bit of it.

The Guardian carried a report by the “Climate News Network,” that began with the words, “If you think the world is warming and the weather is getting nastier, you’re right.” What followed was cherry-picked from the WMO’s Executive Summary. It repeats the claims of “accelerating global warming,” and “sea levels rose twice as fast as the trend in the last century.” There is a quote from the WMO Secretary General and only the WMO Secretary General. The fact that global annual average surface temperatures have not increased for 16-17 years is called by the Guardian, “the apparent slight slow-down.” The Climate News Network report, it distresses me to say, is a straight lift from the WMO press release with no context or analysis or awareness of official reports on similar topics issued in recent years.

Not that the BBC is any better. It contains a sentence that might become an emblem for muddled climate change reporting: “Although overall temperature rise has slowed down since the 1990s, the WMO says the temperature is still rising because of greenhouse gasses from human society.”

Even worse than the usual BBC confusion is Roger Harrabin’s use of the term “climate change doubters” for people who “emphasise the lack of movement in temperature throughout the decade.” Have we got nowhere in the almost decade-long debate about the shades of legitimate opinion about climate change and its causes?

The recent global surface temperature standstill is one of the biggest challenges climate science faces at the moment. If Harrabin considers those who emphasise the reality of the 16-17 year standstill are “climate change doubters” he is going to have a very long list. Add me to it.


Obama’s climate initiative an elitist assault on ordinary citizens

By Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

By circumventing Congress and unleashing the vast powers of the administrative regulatory state in the name of combating “climate change,” President Obama has — yet again — revealed his determination to subject the American people to the unchecked whims of the federal bureaucracy.

Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” has nothing to do with the climate. Instead, the climate, in all of its complexity, serves as a convenient pretext for the administration — working hand in glove with environmental groups and non-competitive, rent-seeking industries — to seize regulatory control of the production and use of energy so as to further concentrate power in Washington. Obama’s weapons of choice are executive orders and the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both of which do not require the approval of elected officials in Congress nor those at the state and local level.

Addressing a crowd gathered at Washington’s elite Georgetown University (where the annual cost of tuition is north of $44,000 a year), Obama outlined his scheme to rid the world of “carbon pollution.” Among other things, it calls for a 17 percent reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S. by 2020, more stringent efficiency standards for home appliances, tougher fuel mileage requirements for heavy-duty trucks, and more subsidies for already heavily subsidized and environmentally destructive (massive bird and bat kills) wind farms.

War on Coal

But it is the administration’s plans for power plants that will have the most far-reaching effect on consumers and businesses. In 2012, the Obama EPA issued its “new source performance standard” that effectively made it impossible to build new coal-fired power plants, because no technology exists that would enable utilities to meet the new standards. At the time, the head of EPA’s air office, Gina McCarthy, assured the public that existing plants would not have to meet the new standard and that EPA was not promoting fuel-switching. Less than a year after McCarthy’s solemn promise, however, the following sentence appears on page 19 of Obama’s Climate Action Plan: “Going forward, we will promote fuel-switching from coal to gas for electricity production and encourage the development for a global market for gas.”

The cat was let out of the bag when one of Obama’s science advisors, Daniel Shrag of Harvard, told the New York Times (June 25) that, “Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they are having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what is needed.” Coal, of which the United States has by far the largest reserves in the world, still account for 37 percent of the nation’s electricity. The administration’s war on coal amounts to nothing less than industrial sabotage by regulatory means. By eliminating affordable, abundant coal from the nation’s energy mix, the administration is deliberately taking a step that will lead to loss of good-paying jobs in the nation’s leading coal-producing states of Wyoming, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Virginia, Utah, Montana, and North Dakota. No longer able to draw on rich coal reserves, utilities will have little choice but to charge more for the electricity they sell to their customers. Electricity rates will go up, hitting seniors and others living on lower incomes the hardest.

While natural gas extracted from America’s vast shale formations will be able to fill some of the gap, the elimination of coal as a power source will put huge strains on the already weak economy and on household budgets. And what is to keep the war on coal from morphing into a war on gas? While most Americans welcome the jobs and lower power rates the Shale Revolution has made possible, the Obama administration and its allies in the environmental movement remain firm in their hostility to fossil fuels. After coal has been regulated out of existence, green elites will not hesitate to go after natural gas and oil. EPA bureaucrats and Obama administration political appointees are already devising schemes to bring about federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

The Shale Revolution, and all the potential it holds for enabling American energy independence within a few decades, has unfolded without Washington’s heavy hand. To green elites inside and outside the administration, this is precisely the problem. They will not stand idly by and watch fossil fuels, in this case natural gas and shale oil, provide Americans with affordable energy.

Overseeing the implementation of Obama’s Climate Action Plan will be his designated EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. A fixture in EPA’s bureaucracy for many years, McCarthy is highly skilled at drafting regulations that bypass Congress and impose extraordinary burdens on the lives of ordinary people. How many senators will have the courage and the conviction to stand up for their constituencies in West Virginia, Ohio, North Dakota, Tennessee and elsewhere and vote to reject her nomination?


In a British summer, oldsters 'could die in Green Deal homes'

An energy saving scheme championed by the Government could be causing homes to overheat.

Ministers are encouraging homeowners to improve insulation and install other environmental measures under their flagship Green Deal. But experts warn that while insulation may save energy in the winter, it could trap in excessive heat during the summer months if badly installed. It poses a particular health risk for the elderly, who could ‘die from overheating’.

A report by a climate research group warned ‘Green Deal measures could create new problems in the future, with inappropriately-insulated properties experiencing poor indoor air quality and significant summer overheating’.

The Government said it was aware of the risk and guidance is already in place to prevent inappropriate installations.

Studies suggest there may be typically around 2,000 deaths due to heat each year, compared to around 25,000 as a result of the cold.

But according to research group Adaptation and Resilience in a Changing Climate, ‘if action is not taken’ on the issue, heat-related deaths could more than double from 2,000 to 5,000 by 2080.

The Green Deal, launched by Chris Huhne, offers homeowners loans for works such as cavity wall insulation and energy-efficient boilers, in the hope of reducing their energy bill.

Households must pay for an assessment of what upgrades their house needs, which costs around £150. But so far, only four households have signed up and a further 241 have indicated they intended to.

Top floor flats [apartments] in 1960s tower blocks and modern detached houses are most at risk of becoming dangerously hot inside during a heatwave, especially if they are south-facing, according to the research

Dr Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, said the risk of overheating has been overlooked in the ‘big rush to insulate and make homes airtight’, particularly as the nation could face more extreme weather in the future.

In a study with Prof Li Shao, of the University of Reading, he found that heat was likely to have a ‘significantly greater’ impact on the elderly or infirm who were more likely to be at home during the warmest daytime hours.

Their research found that top floor flats in 1960s tower blocks, and modern detached houses were most at risk of over-heating, particularly if they were south facing.

‘Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand. It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big,’ he told the BBC.

‘If you are in the wrong type of house, facing the wrong way, in the wrong street and you don’t deal with heat in the right way, it is a problem.

‘Particularly for the elderly. They are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating.’ Doug King, an independent consultant in sustainable construction, said: ‘It is a problem. Typically British houses are built for a fairly benign climate, not to deal with extremes.

‘It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t insulate these buildings, but it must be done properly.

‘Some properties - particularly top-floor flats and anything south facing - have a tendency to overheat, so when you add insulation to the mix it can make things worse. But if the right ventilation is added, then the problem can be solved.’

A DECC spokesperson said: ‘The real problem facing our nation’s draughty homes is a lack of adequate insulation and energy efficiency in the colder months.

The Green Deal is giving households a new way to fund improvements, helping them protect themselves against rising energy bills and keep homes warm and cosy in the autumn and winter.

‘If energy efficiency measures are installed appropriately, overheating should not be a common problem and there’s guidance available for those involved in the Green Deal.’


Timberland Mandates Would Cut U.S. Job Growth

Economic competition in a free market encourages improvements in quality and reductions in price. Conversely, barriers to competition hamper innovation and keep prices from falling. This is one reason why consumers of forest products—builders, in particular—should be leery of new efforts by some environmentalists and government regulators to favor only one of the three private organizations that currently certify timberland management that meets specific sustainability standards. By promoting the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) above the other groups—including potentially mandating its standards throughout the private sector—regulators may end up retarding innovation in sustainable forestry.

But there’s another cause for concern about favoring or mandating the FSC’s standards: massive job losses. “A study released by EconoSTATS concludes that an FSC monopoly would cost 31,000 jobs in Oregon and another 10,000 in Arkansas, including those of foresters and tree farmers, but also millworkers, truckers, contractors, and suppliers,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II.

One reason for the potential job losses, Shughart explains, is that the FSC maintains less stringent standards for timberlands overseas than for those in the United States. Therefore “a public policy granting a monopoly to the FSC label would be equivalent to favoring foreign timber over U.S. timber,” Shughart continues. “American building markets would be closed to American timber unless landowners here bore the cost of complying with standards that the rest of the world would not necessarily have to satisfy.”

See: The Costs of Overregulating Forest Management, by William F. Shughart II


Chevy Volt Heads for Fiery Crash

The good news for GM these days is that no one has been consumed in a fiery death due to engine compartment fires since the Chevy Volt was discovered to spontaneous combust after accidents shortly after production began.

The bad news for the company is that while Chevy Volt sales in June set a record, prior to June their sales for 2013 sucked despite general auto sales setting post-crash records.

“With signs that sales of its Chevrolet Volt battery car could be coming unplugged,” reported NBC News in June, “General Motors is offering potential buyers as much as $5,000 in incentives – making it the latest maker to try to cut prices in a bid to boost lagging demand for electric vehicles.”

In June the company reported 2,698 Volts sold thanks to those drastic discounts by GM. In fact, all battery-powered cars have seen deep price cuts due to disappointing sales.

“For the first five months of this year,” said NBC News, “GM has sold only 7,157 of what it prefers to call an extended-range electric vehicle, or E-REV. May sales, in particular, fell 4.3 percent, to 1,607. By comparison, the overall U.S. automotive market was up 8.2 percent for the month. According to a report by Inside EVs, Chevy dealers have more than 9,000 Volts clogging inventories, vehicles they need to clear out before the 2014 models start rolling in.”

That makes 6,302 excess Volts just weeks before the 2014 models are supposed to come off the assembly line. Or, to calculate another way, that’s 2 1/3 months of inventory assuming all the suckers haven’t already purchased Volts in the new and reduced “free” lunch program run by General Motors.

The ridiculous list price for the Volt started out at $46,000. Since then it’s been lowered to $39,995. The price is still ridiculous because the Volt is basically the Chevy Cruze with a big battery.

The Cruze by contrast has an MSRP of between $17,000-$23,000.

To lull consumers, the federal government gives a credit to Volt buyers of $7,500, plus GM, starting in June, discounted the price by another $4,000-$5,000 depending on the model year.

That means a buyer can pay around $28,000 for the privilege of buying a car that goes 38 miles on a full battery charge and has all the amenities of car that costs $5k less even after Volt discounts, subsidies, giveaways.

Boosters of the car will bombard me with email bragging about the cost savings with the Chevy Volt because they never have to buy gasoline, but they too often overlook the true cost of an electric vehicle.

First, electricity is not a free power source, despite what liberals believe. Electricity doesn’t just magically come from a wall plug.

Volt owners are SHOCKED…SHOCKED… when employers, HOAs and others third parties object to being asked to pay $1.50 per day to fully charge the car’s battery at public electrical outlets. It’s a phenomenon that’s becoming more common.

‘‘This isn’t some evil electric car that consumes a ton of electricity. It’s just a drop in the pond compared to what the whole building pays,’’ Mike Nemat told CBC News when trying justify using his condo’s public power source to fuel his vehicle.

It maybe a drop in the pond, but the pond isn’t Nemat’s to take from.

$1.50 per day to charge a Volt battery times 365 days is $547.50 per year. If “everyone” did it at a 50 unit condo, that would be $27,375 per year for “free” electricity.

And despite what liberals think, someone still has to pay the bill.

“This is ridiculous. It's approximately $1.50 per day (based on the average electricity price in the U.S.) to fully charge a Volt,” wrote reader Corey on the article about Nemat’s condo subsidies. “That's less than the price of a cup of coffee. When taken into consideration that it's split between several tenants... they should be proud that they're not only helping to save the environment but also lowering the nation's dependence on foreign oil for pennies out of their pockets.”

I’m sure they are proud. But they just aren’t $27,375 proud. Or $7,500 worth of federal tax subsidies proud.

Nor am I. I’m “I’d rather you not take my tax money or HOA dues” proud. Do what you like, buy what you want, but don’t ask me to pay for it.

If Volt owners were really proud they’d pay for the “drop in the pond” themselves.

In finding out the true cost of ownership, the Volt’s battery should be depreciated across the life of the battery as well.

The battery costs about $8,000 to replace and lasts- in principle- about eight years. According to the Volt costs a 7 cents a mile to operate on all-electric (EV) versus all-gasoline power of about 11 cents per mile. But those calculations ignore the battery costs, which add another 10 cents per mile to the electric option for a total of 17 cents per mile.

And that’s what’s really driving the poor sales of the Volt. Battery costs jack up the price of the Volt- and EV’s- versus gasoline vehicles. Chevy made a strategic mistake when it attempted to put the Volt’s costly powertrain into Chevy’s discount model- the Cruze. Instead GM should have followed competitor Tesla’s strategy of making an EV that appeals to rich, privileged, metro-sexual types plagued by White Guilt, which often also comes out sideways as Carbon Envy.

There’s money to be made on folks like that.

Just don’t use my money in doing it.

Because the scheme will likely end in a fiery crash, which, for the Volt, would be fitting since that’s how it started.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here


July 8, 2013

Why no posts on 8th? Just my absent-mindedness, I guess. Here's something else I did on that day

July 7, 2013

NASA satellite no longer measuring sea levels – Why? Because they’re falling?

Jason-1, a satellite that for more than a decade precisely tracked rising sea levels across a vast sweep of ocean has ended its useful life after circling the globe more than 53,500 times, NASA announced Wednesday.

Since its launch, Jason-1 recorded a rise of nearly 1.6 inches in global sea levels that are “a critical measure of climate change and a direct result of global warming,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

I question that statement.

According to the European Space Agency satellite Envisat*, sea levels declined in both 2010 and 2011.

See: Sea Level Continues Inexorable Decline
See also: Sea levels dropped in 2010

Who is telling the truth here? Unfortunately, I don’t trust NASA’s interpretation of the numbers.

* What is Envisat?

According to the European Space Agency (ESA) website, Envisat is the largest Earth Observation spacecraft ever built. Launched in 2002, it carries ten sophisticated optical and radar instruments to provide continuous observation and monitoring of the Earth’s land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps. Envisat data collectively provide a wealth of information on the workings of the Earth system, including insights into factors contributing to climate change.

“Evidently NASA doesn’t want to continue reporting falling ocean levels, so they shut down their measuring satellite,” says Bob.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Dutch government dissatisfied with the IPCC

Goverments around the world have been asked by IPCC to think about the future of the IPCC. The Netherlands now sent their submission to the IPCC and made it available on the website of KNMI.

I would say Holland is fairly critical about how IPCC is operating right now. This part struck me as most interesting:

"The IPCC needs to adjust its principles. We believe that limiting the scope of the IPCC to human induced climate change is undesirable, especially because natural climate change is a crucial part of the total understanding of the climate system, including human-induced climate change. The Netherlands is also of the opinion that the word ‘comprehensive’ may have to be deleted, because producing comprehensive assessments becomes virtually impossible with the ever expanding body of knowledge and IPCC may be more relevant by producing more special reports on topics that are new and controversial."

I agree with both points. The (almost) obsession of IPCC with greenhouse forcing has greatly limited progress in climate science in my opinion, so I am glad my government now raises this point. And in my (Dutch) book De Staat van het Klimaat I concluded that IPCC in AR4 had not succeeded to come up with a “comprehensive” report. I also agree IPCC should pay much more attention to controversial topics. The treatment of controversial topics in AR4 and also AR5 was and is unsatisfactory for two reasons: there is not enough space reserved to go into the necessary details and the author teams are almost always biased in favor of the consensus view and therefore not giving enough credit to minority views.

The Netherlands also want to make an end to the huge volumes IPCC is producing and replace it by shorter web based (special) reports:

"The IPCC needs more transparent, focused and up-to-date assessments. The use of the internet continues to expand. It would be easier to keep IPCC assessments up to date if they would be fully web-based. Digitalisation also increases the transparency of the reports. For example, in addition to internal links in the SPM to the underlying chapters (already done for AR4), links can be added in the chapters to the relevant parts of scientific publications to simplify the accessibility to the sources.

The assessment should be more dynamic by regular updates of the chapters, with only one round of expert review, and by shortening the assessment cycle. The reports are currently perceived to be quite dated already a few years after they have been published."

Again I agree with the new format. Also Holland wants to merge WGI and WGII into one working group:

"two working groups instead of three. For example, it is possible to expand WGI to include WGII subjects that are closely connected to the information in WGI. An example is the SREX special report, where climate extremes and risk-based information are combined. WGIII would then include adaptation and mitigation measures and their environmental impacts. In this way there would be two working groups, which would shorten the cycle but will also to improve the consistency in the assessment cycle and facilitates the synthesis. A separate Synthesis Report would not be needed if the second WG would synthesize its information with the first WG, also in its summaries."

Pachauri: Without mentioning his name The Netherlands make clear that they would like to see Pachauri retire. They prefer “having an organization that is led by an Executive Director” instead of an elected chair. “An Executive Director could also more easily be a policy-neutral spokesperson than an elected Chair”, they write, thereby implicitly referring to Pachauri who is renowned for making policy statements.


Beating the Heating

The other day Barack Obama was about to hop in his private 747 and jet off with his massive entourage to tour Africa. Carbon footprint? Elephantine.

So he was, understandably, in a hurry. “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society,” Obama warned in a speech on the supposed dangers of a human-changed climate. No, indeed. We need to get started fighting global cooling -- I mean warming -- I mean “climate change.” Straightaway. Immediately. The day before yesterday. Etc. Because, Obama says, “the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late.”

Somebody needs to stop this climatic high-speed train before it jumps the rails. So let’s review a few facts about the environment in the United States today.

It’s become a cliché, but whenever a twister touches down in Oklahoma, somebody’s going to warn us that such storms are driven by human action. And yet: “The past 12 months have set a record for the fewest tornadoes ever in a similar period, and there has been no trend since 1950 in the frequency of strong (F3 to F5) tornadoes in the United States,” writes Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute.

Well, how about hurricanes? They’re fueled by warm water, so clearly warmer temperatures would lead directly to more powerful, more deadly storms. Case closed, alarmists insist. Except, well, that theory doesn’t hold water very well.

“It has been over seven and a half years since a Category 3 or higher hurricane landed on the U.S. coast; such a long period devoid of an intense hurricane landfall has not been observed since 1900,” Zycher adds. “There has been no trend in the frequency or intensity of tropical cyclones over the last 70 years.”

Still, we’re told after every storm that it was made worse by climate change. And media coverage would lead one to believe that such storms are getting worse. But the problem isn’t the storms, it’s that too many Americans live so close to the ocean.

“In the United States, counties directly on the shoreline constitute less than 10 percent of the total land area (not including Alaska), but account for 39 percent of the total population,” NOAA reports. “From 1970 to 2010, the population of these counties increased by almost 40 percent and are projected to increase by an additional 10 million people or 8 percent by 2020.”

It’s no coincidence that more people are moving into harm’s way. It’s federal policy to encourage us to live by the sea.

A few years ago, journalist John Stossel explained that federal flood insurance makes it easy to build in a flood plain. So he did so. “The insurance premiums were a bargain. The most I ever paid was a few hundred dollars. Federal actuaries say if the insurance were realistically priced, it would cost thousands of dollars,” he wrote.

When a storm destroyed his beach, the Army Corps of Engineers paid to bring in new sand. When another storm washed away his house, the federal government paid for the house and its contents. That’s when Stossel gave up and moved further inland. But the federal government still guarantees hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of other people’s property.

So if we account for the storm damage and subtract the supposedly greater risk of twisters and hurricanes (Zycher notes that fires and droughts are in decline as well), there’s not much left to worry about.

Still, the president has made it clear he intends to take action. He says he’ll use executive orders to supposedly reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by power plants, to encourage the use of more renewable sources, and to make appliances more efficient.

There are real questions about whether he has the constitutional power to take such actions. But even if he was permitted to, he shouldn’t. We need to encourage human creativity, instead of slowing it down by punishing ourselves for supposedly using too much energy.

“If we are serious about climate change, we must seriously factor in the accelerating rate of technological change already in our society,” explains Holman Jenkins in the Wall Street Journal. “Let us also appreciate how little we can know about how people will live a century from now, what energy sources they will use, and the strong likelihood that any sacrifices we make on their behalf today will be of zero value to them.”

When you clear away the smoke, the facts are clear: Climate change isn't causing harm in the U.S. So, Mr. President, there’s no worry. Enjoy your safari. Our healthy environment will be waiting for you when your flight touches down.


China hits the EU at a weak spot -- French wine

In retaliation for ridiculous EU tariffs on solar panels

The Chinese government has decided to launch an investigation into the European wine sector with the later intention to apply a punitive tax if necessary, as China authorities accuse wine producers in the European Union (EU) of unfair trade tactics such as dumping and subsidies.

The temporary imposition of a tariff on Chinese solar panels by the EU started a trade war whose greatest victim is wine.

"This is a thorough research on European wines for export, in all formats, is bottled in barrels or in bulk," say sources familiar with the process, which warned that the wineries are going to have to face a complicated process and urgent administrative that could derail Asian exports. And that is bad news for an industry whose sales in their home markets is already complicated by the financial crisis.

Chinese authorities have given wine exporters 20 days to register as companies subject to investigation, and if they are not registered before July 21, China will automatically apply a punitive percentage.

Should the EU be stupid enough to press the matter further, China would likely respond in kind.

For example China could threaten to place tariffs on cars from Germany or better yet Airbus planes (manufactured in a consortium of countries including France).

Strong retaliation might drive home the point, but don't count on it. Never underestimate the stupidity of EU bureaucrats who think they can impose their wishes on the market.


Australia has shale too

SOUTH Australia is sitting on oil potentially worth more than $20 trillion, independent reports claim - enough to turn Australia into a self-sufficient fuel producer.

Brisbane company Linc Energy yesterday released two reports, based on drilling and seismic exploration, estimating the amount of oil in the as yet untapped Arckaringa Basin surrounding Coober Pedy ranging from 3.5 billion to 233 billion barrels of oil.

At the higher end, this would be "several times bigger than all of the oil in Australia", Linc managing director Peter Bond said.

This has the potential to turn Australia from an oil importer to an oil exporter.

"If it comes in the way the reports are suggesting, it could well and truly bring Australia back to (oil) self-sufficiency," Mr Bond said.

State Mineral Resources Development Minister Tom Koutsantonis said there were exciting times ahead for SA's resources industry.
Australian oil strike

"Shale gas and shale oil will be a key part to securing Australia's energy security now and into the future," he said.

Linc has hired Barclays Bank to find an investment partner for the next stage of the project, costing $150-$300 million.

The company aims to drill up to six horizontal wells to further confirm its figures, but Mr Bond is confident the region will be home to oil production.

The need to build another oil and gas hub, like the Santos production facility at Moomba, depends on the size of the discovery. "If it really takes off, that's when you start to look at Moomba-type pipelines."

Mr Bond said there was the potential for a US-style "shale oil" boom in SA.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week the US could pass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer this year, thanks to the shale oil explosion.

Mr Bond said the potential in SA was "massive", but even at the lower end of estimates - about 3.5 billion barrels - it was still very large. "If you look at the upper target, which is 103-233 billion barrels of oil, that's massive," he said. "The opportunity of turning this into the next shale boom is very real.

"If the Arckaringa plays out the way we hope it will, and the way our independent reports have shown, it's one of the key prospective territories in the world at the moment." Mr Bond said each well could flow at 1000-2000 barrels per day.

"You put in 50 of them and that's a lot of oil," he said. "We have a very good idea that this will be an oil-producing asset."

Mr Bond said Linc had so far spent about $130 million in the Arckaringa Basin, drilling four deep wells and "a couple of dozen" shallower wells.


The Top 5 Lies About Fracking

Explosions, poisons, pollution, cancer, and global warming all considered

Gasland Part II, the sequel to director/activist Josh Fox's earlier anti-fracking docudrama Gasland, will run on HBO next Monday. It appears to have rounded up the usual corporate villains and appealing victims of profit-hungry capitalist skullduggery, rather than telling the more substantial story: that fracking combined with horizontal drilling has unleashed a bonanza of cheap natural gas.

Fracking involves injecting pressurized water combined with sand and small amounts of chemicals to crack open shale rocks so that they will release trapped natural gas. Generally, the shale rocks are thousands of feet below the aquifers from which people draw drinking water. No doubt to the dismay of activists, President Barack Obama appears to endorse the process. "Sometimes there are disputes about natural gas," he said at his climate change speech last week at Georgetown, "but let me say this: We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions."

The president gets it, but a lot of activists don't. To help bring them around, I thought I'd take a look at some of the misleading claims made by opponents of fracking. Fortunately I just got a fundraising letter from fine folks at foodandwaterwatch (FWW) urging me to sign and send in a petition to the president to ban fracking. The letter is a nice compendium of anti-fracking scaremongering.

Falsehood 1: You can light your tap water on fire. Fox made this claim famous in the first Gasland movie when he showed a resident of Colorado striking a match as water came out of his tap; the natural gas dissolved in the water burst into flame. Yet the water was tested by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, which reported to the resident: "There are no indications of any oil & gas related impacts to your well water." The agency concluded that the natural gas in his water supply was derived from natural sources—the water well penetrated several coal beds that had released the methane into the well.

The FWW letter warns, "When fracking loosens gas, it can cause methane to migrate into nearby household wells and drinking water." It adds, "Your home could explode, like the house that blew up in Pennsylvania and killed three people." This appears to be a reference to the 2004 case of Charles and Dorothy Harper and their grandson Baelee, in which natural gas migrated into their basement from some new nearby wells being drilled by the Snyder Brothers production company.

This artfully constructed section of the letter wants readers to conclude that fracking caused the deaths of the Harpers. Yet the wells in question were conventional gas wells; no fracking was taking place. The Harpers were killed by negligence: The company had not made sure that the casings on the wells were properly sealed with cement. (Cement is poured down around the well's steel piping to prevent gas or fluids from traveling upward and coming in contact with exposed rock along the borehole, where it can leach into drinking water aquifers.) Fracking technology had nothing to do with the tragedy, for which the Snyder Brothers made court-ordered restitution to the Harper family.

Another house exploded—fortunately without significant injury—when natural gas seeped in from a well in Ohio in 2007. In this case, the Ohio Valley Energy Systems Corporation was fracking an old conventional well whose cement casing was inadequate to block new supplies of highly pressurized natural gas from migrating into nearby water wells. Once the company fixed the casing, the problem was solved.

As A. Scott Anderson, a senior policy adviser with the Environmental Defense Fund, told The Wall Street Journal last year, "The groundwater pollution incidents that have come to light to date have all been caused by well construction problems." As the number of wells increase, so too will the chances that some will not be properly cemented, but that's not a problem inherent to fracking. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the vast majority of natural gas explosions do not involve wells at all.

Falsehood 2: Fracking fluid "could seep into groundwater and poison drinking water." (The underlining is the FWW's.) The letter also asserts that fracking fluid is "full of poisonous chemicals."

Of course, the cabinet underneath your kitchen sink is also likely to be "full of poisonous chemicals." What matters to your health is the amount of exposure you have to them, not the mere fact of their existence.

A new study by researchers at Duke University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in June, did find higher concentrations of methane in water wells that were within a kilometer of gas wells. But like earlier reports, the new paper concluded that the two simplest explanations for the higher levels of dissolved gas were faulty steel casings and improper cement sealing of the wells, not fracking. In addition, this study and two earlier ones done by the same team found no indication that well water has been contaminated by fracking fluids. (About 99.5 percent of fracking fluids, I should add, consist of water and sand.)

Is Pavillion, Wyoming, the exception? At the request of the remote community's residents, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigated to see if their wells had been contaminated by fracking fluids. The agency's draft report in December 2011 reported that water taken from sampling wells had found "synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids." But as the EPA turned over further investigation to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the federal agency noted that the source of these "constituents of concern" had "not been determined," and that the EPA's efforts to figure how the contaminants got into the water wells had been "inconclusive."

The Wyoming investigators' report is due next year. Needless to say, if a natural gas producer does contaminate someone's water, the company must be held fully accountable for it.

Falsehood 3: Fracking increases air pollution. The FWW letter warns that fracking "contains high levels of neurotoxins and carcinogens and contains compounds that can create smog."

Almost any industrial activity will involve the production of noxious fumes at least some of the time. So how does the air pollution associated with producing natural gas compare to other industrial processes? A 2013 report from RAND Corporation researchers, published in Environmental Research Letters, calculates the regional air quality damages from gas production in Pennsylvania. Their reckoning of total damages takes into account harms both to physical health and the environment, including mortality, morbidity, crop and timber loss, visibility, and effects on anthropogenic structures and natural ecosystems.

They conclude that air quality damages from all natural gas production in the state amounted to between $7.2 million and $32 million in 2011. By contrast, the four largest coal-fired electricity generation plants in the state were the sources of nearly $1.5 billion in damages in 2008. The whole natural gas industry is responsible for just 2 percent of Pennsylvania's smog-causing volatile organic compounds, 5 percent of its nitrogen oxides, and 1 percent of the small particulates emitted by all industry in the state in 2008. (The RAND researchers could not get comparable 2011 data for the total air-pollution damage, so they used the closest year with available information.) That's not nothing, but converting just one coal-fired plant to burn natural gas would do far more to improve Pennsylvania's air quality than shutting down the state's entire gas industry.

Falsehood 4: Fracking causes cancer. The FWW letter hints at this, but the most incendiary claim along these lines was made by Josh Fox in his short "emergency film," The Sky Is Pink (2012). Fox intones, "In Texas, as throughout the United States, cancer rates fell. Except in one place: in the Barnett Shale. The five counties where there was the most drilling saw a rise in breast cancer throughout the counties."

The claim is entirely specious. Fox apparently based his lightly sourced assertion on a single newspaper article. Even that article garbled the data, reporting that six counties in the western Dallas-Fort Worth area have the highest rates of invasive breast cancer in Texas, rising all the way from 58.7 cases per 100,000 people in 2005 to about 60.7 per 100,000 in 2008. Typically breast cancer rates are reported as per 100,000 women, which would roughly double the rates cited in the article to 117.4 and 121.4. Meanwhile, the incidence of breast cancer among all Texas women hovered around 116 per 100,000 between 2005 and 2009. The U.S. rate was 125.7 per 100,000 women.

To fact-check Fox's claims, the Associated Press turned to two Texas researchers, Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry. Both said that there was no evidence of an increase in breast cancer in the counties cited by Fox.

Falsehood 5: Natural gas is worse than coal. This particular claim was launched in 2011 with a hastily cobbled-together study by three anti-fracking researchers at Cornell. Their argument is that leaking methane, whose global warming potential is much greater than that of carbon dioxide, more than entirely offsets whatever reductions in carbon dioxide emissions would be achieved by, for example, switching from coal to gas to generate electricity. The FWW letter claims that calling natural gas "clean" energy is "misleading," but unlike the Cornell researchers the group concedes that burning natural gas "emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal."

The FWW came much closer to the truth than the Cornell crew did. A comprehensive analysis published in November 2012 by researchers associated with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that "the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generated from Barnett Shale gas extracted in 2009 were found to be very similar to conventional natural gas and less than half those of coal-fired electricity generation." With respect to global warming, producing and burning natural gas from fracked wells is much better than burning coal.

Make no mistake: Any industrial process can go awry, usually through human error. And not everybody is a saint: Venal people will try short cuts that end up harming the innocent. When mistakes are made or short cuts taken, the culprits should be punished and the victims fully compensated for their losses.

But don't assume those villains are the norm. Over 500,000 gas wells are currently operating in the United States. Most of them manage to avoid blowing up houses, poisoning drinking water, making it hard to breathe, causing cancer, or being worse than coal.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here


July 5, 2013

Polar bear chicanery

Jim Steele, an expert on surveys of animal populations, has applied his knowledge to surveys of polar bear populations, which Warmists are trying to make disappear. It is a long essay which gives you everything you ought to know about the subject -- but the interesting thing is how much official reports are misleading. I reproduce just that part below:

The Inuit claim “it is the time of the most polar bears.” By synthesizing their community’s observations they have demonstrated a greater accuracy counting Bowhead whales and polar bears than the models of credentialed scientists. To estimate correctly, it takes a village. In contrast the “mark and recapture” study, which claimed the polar bears along South Beaufort Sea were victims of catastrophic global warming and threatened with extinction, relied on the subjective decisions of a handful of modelers...

Amstrup diligently followed up his earlier study on the apparent survival of South Beaufort Bears using radio-collared bears over a 12-year period. It turned out that his high-end apparent survival estimate of 94% was still too low. If only natural deaths were used, polar bears had a 99.6 % biological survival rate.4 Most bears died at the hands of hunters. If death at the hands of hunters was also considered, then biological survival was still higher than apparent survival, but fell to 96.9%. In 2001 Amstrup concluded that the South Beaufort Sea population was increasing and the current hunting quotas insured a growing population.

Perhaps it was the growing pressure from adversarial lawsuits, and speculation that the polar bears were endangered from CO2 warming, but in a subsequent series of USGS publications coauthored by Amstrup, they suddenly emphasized the illusion of apparent survival and downplayed biological survival to suggest the polar bears were facing extinction. The study was far too short to reliably estimate survival. Still during the first three years of their “extinction” study, the researchers reported apparent survival ranging from 92‑99%574. The higher estimate was the same as the biological survival rates of Amstrup’s radio-collared bears. However apparent survival dropped dramatically for the last two years of the study.

The final years of a study always underestimate survival because newly marked are less likely to be observed a second time relative to bears marked in the first years of a study. Claiming “radiotelemetry captures present methodological difficulties” they oddly excluded radio-collared data from critical statistical tests! Despite knowing that biological survival rates had never rapidly changed before, and despite knowing more collared bears migrated outside their study area in 2004 and 2005, the USGS report argued polar bear survival had abruptly dropped from 96‑99% in 2003, down to 77% in 2004.6

In their first USGS report, the authors demonstrated high integrity in their analyses and were upfront about the problems of their models, writing, “the declines we observed in model-averaged survival rates may reflect an increase in the number of “emigrants” toward the end of the study, and not an actual decrease in biological survival”, and they noted male bears had exhibited unusually high transiency. When apparent survival rates were high, only 24% of the collared females had wandered outside the study area. In contrast during last two years of the study when apparent survival plummeted, the number of collared bears wandering outside the study area had nearly doubled to 47% in 2005 and 36% in 2006, but they never published their biological survival rates.

They chose to dismiss the high percentage of bears migrating out of the study area and subjectively chose to argue fewer captured bears meant more dead bears. The authors oddly argued that using 18 years of data the bears are eventually observed in the study area. In keeping with my human/supermarket analogy, it was the equivalent of labeling all your neighbors dead if you don’t see them in the market over a two year span, because over a ten year period you always see them at least once. We need Steve McIntyre to do a polar bear audit!

The dramatic drop in survival meant 400 bears suddenly died but there were no carcasses. To support their unprecedented claims, one USGS report emphasized in the abstract that subadult males showed reduced body condition and that was evidence of nutritional stress that lowered survival.

However if you read the results section and did some math, you discover that subadult males only represented 5% of all captures. The other 95% were stable or improving. In contrast, adult females represented about 34% of all captures, and despite being under the most stress due to an eight-month fast while giving birth and nursing their cubs, their body condition had improved. That good news wasn’t ever mentioned in the abstract, you had to search the results section: “There was no trend in mass of adult females during the study, but the mean BCI [body condition index] of females increased over time”.

Their abstract also implied “a decline in cub recruitment” to support their model’s uncharacteristic dip in survival rates. But that too was an illusion. Recruitment compares the number of cubs in the spring with the number of cubs in the fall. Using older studies their observed results found that the number of cubs per female had increased between 1982 and 2006 during the spring. This would be expected. When the female body condition increases, they usually produce more cubs. To counteract that good news, the authors then argued there was a decline in cubs during the fall, and thus a decline in recruitment. However they had not surveyed in the fall since 2001. They were using deceptive zombie data to support a bad model.

That is how global warming advocates counted bears to refute the claims of the Inuit. That was the driving evidence that led to the uplisting of the polar bear as threatened species. Based on such studies Dr. Derocher, chairman of the IUCN’s Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) warned, “It’s clear from the research that’s been done by myself and colleagues around the world that we’re projecting that, by the middle of this century, two-thirds of the polar bears will be gone from their current populations”.


Saudi America: Shale produces OIL too

U.S. producing more petroleum than: a) Saudi Arabia, and b) Europe, Central, and South America combined

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released new data this week on international energy production for the month of March. For the fifth straight month starting last November, total petroleum production (crude oil and other petroleum products like natural gas plant liquids, leased condensate, and refined petroleum products) in “Saudi America” during the month of March (11.76 million barrels per day) exceeded petroleum production in Saudi Arabia (10.85 million barrels per day). Also for the fifth month in a row starting last November, “Saudi America”: a) took the top spot in March as the No. 1 petroleum producer in the world, and b) produced more petroleum in March than the combined output of all of the countries in Europe, Central America, and South America (11.32 million barrels per day in March), which has never happened in the history of EIA international petroleum data back to 1994.

More evidence that America’s shale energy revolution is taking us from “resource scarcity” to a new era of “resource abundance” as the US now consistently produces more petroleum than Saudi Arabia, has led the world in petroleum production for five straight months, and now produces more petroleum than all of the countries in Europe, Central America, and South America combined. This energy bonanza in the US — described as the “energy equivalent of the Berlin Wall coming down” — would have been largely unthinkable even five years ago. But then thanks to revolutionary drilling techniques developed by America’s “petropreneurs,” we unlocked vast oceans of shale oil and gas across the US and are now the world’s No. 1 producer of petroleum for five months running.


How to Get Rich and Combat Global Warming

In his recent speech on climate change, President Barack Obama warned that "someday, our children and our children's children will look at us in the eye and they'll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?"

He's probably right. Then they'll say, "Why the heck didn't you pass a carbon tax?" And we won't be able to give them a good reason.

That's because there is no good reason. A carbon tax, done the right way, is the closest thing you can get to a panacea. Refusing to enact it is like throwing out a winning lottery ticket.

By now, most scientists in the field agree that pumping billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not a healthy practice for the planet or its inhabitants. In 2010, a report from the National Academy of Sciences asserted, "Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for -- and in many cases is already affecting -- a broad range of human and natural systems."

The World Meteorological Organization reported this week that 2010 was the hottest year on record. It noted that "nearly 94 percent of reporting countries had their warmest decade in 2001-2010" -- while no country had a cooler-than-average decade. Polar ice is melting; oceans are rising; plants and animals are heading northward in search of cooler temperatures.

Gen. Philip Sheridan, if he were alive today, would have even more reason for his stated preference: "If I owned hell and Texas, I'd rent out Texas and live in hell." Before long, he might prefer the fiery pit to all sorts of places that once had congenial climes.

Although much of the damage is unavoidable, curbing the release of greenhouse gases would limit the severity of the problem. The United States has reduced its carbon dioxide output. But more is needed -- from the rest of the world, as well as from us -- to avert the worst scenario.

Obama paid tribute to the idea of making consumers and businesses pay more for fossil fuels in his 2013 State of the Union address, urging Congress "to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago." That option, "cap and trade," would have functioned like a carbon tax. But it has long since become radioactive among Republicans, who resist doing anything about global warming.

Eventually, they may pay a political price for insisting that atmospheric pollution is nothing to fear. Until then, the most pro-growth, free-market option around is off the table.

So the president will act to curb emissions as best he can through heavy-handed regulation and extravagant subsidies of "clean" energy. The trouble with these clumsy remedies, says economist Adele Morris of The Brookings Institution, is that they often impose higher costs than the benefits they yield.

They would not be needed if the government taxed fuels according to their environmental side effects. Raise the price of gasoline and Americans would buy more efficient cars, drive less and take the occasional bus. Make coal more expensive and businesses would switch to fuels that pollute less. These adjustments would occur through the natural operation of markets, a process that favors the cheapest solutions.

Wouldn't a carbon tax impose a heavy burden on individuals and the economy? Actually, we could cut carbon dioxide emissions by half over the next decade and a half with a tax that would not be onerous -- the equivalent of 16 cents per gallon of gasoline, rising by 4 percent over inflation each year.

This modest impact could be offset with cuts in other levies to keep the total tax load stable. Corporate and personal income taxes, along with payroll taxes, discourage things we want: investment and work. Cutting them would have a positive effect on the economy. A carbon tax, by contrast, would discourage something we don't want: harmful emissions that linger in the atmosphere for centuries.

This approach, concludes Morris, would "promote economic growth, reduce budget deficits, reduce redundant and inefficient regulation, reduce unnecessary subsidies and reduce the costs associated with climate change."

Our kids and grandkids will thank us if we take action against climate change. But if we do it in a way that leaves them richer instead of poorer, their gratitude will be even greater.


EPA Encourages Utility Controlled Refrigerators

At times of peak demand for electricity, do you want your refrigerator to run at the discretion of the power company?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revised its Energy Star energy-efficiency requirements for residential refrigerators, and it is encouraging the inclusion of “connected” features that respond to utility signals to curb their energy consumption.

The EPA announced the new requirements on June 27. Included is the optional “smart-grid” connection for customers to electronically connect their refrigerator or freezer with a utility provider.

"The updated requirements raise the bar for energy efficiency in these products and, for the first time, encourage manufacturers of Energy Star appliances to include optional 'connected' features," according to the EPA release.

The connection feature allow the utility provider to regulate the appliances' power consumption, “including curtailing operations during more expensive peak demand times.”

Currently, consumers must give permission for their appliances to respond to utility signals.

In an e-mail to, the EPA said, “Today, utility initiatives with connected home appliances are mainly in the pilot stage. Product manufacturers and retailers may offer incentives for refrigerators or freezers with ‘connected’ features.”

“In the future, utilities may choose to offer incentives for customers to purchase products with ‘connected features’ and/or enroll such products in a demand response program,” the EPA says. “For example, one appliance manufacturer offered a limited time rebate for customers when they launched their line of smart appliances this spring.”

Manufacturers are encouraged to produce Energy Star appliances by earning tax credits up to $25 million.

“Manufacturers that build-in and certify optional ‘connected features’ will earn a credit towards meeting the Energy Star efficiency requirements,” according to an EPA e-mail to

The revised Energy Star refrigerator and freezer specifications will go into effect on September 15, 2014.

“We can all do our part in meeting the challenge of climate change,” says Janet McCabe, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “By choosing Energy Star appliances, families can save energy, save money, and reduce carbon pollution.”


Dictates From A Climate Change Alternate Universe

Quote of the Week: “The influence of mankind on climate is trivially true and numerically insignificant.” Richard Lindzen

By Art Horn

The concept of an alternate universe is familiar to many people, especially those who read or view science fiction books or movies. An example of a storyline in an alternate universe would be the re-booting of the Star Trek franchise. In the production of the 2009 movie “Star Trek” JJ Abrams and company wanted to bring the Star Trek series back into the theaters but they wanted to do it in such a way that they could have the artistic freedom to craft stories that were not confined to the history of all the series and movies of the past several decades. The answer was to find a way to alter the “real” world and place the same characters, Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others into a new “alternate reality” that in some ways mirrors the familiar, traditional world but in other ways is radically different. There are parallels to this concept today, not in the movies but in the White House.

If the producers of the next Star Trek movie want some ideas as to how to craft a bizarre story that exists in an alternate universe they need look no farther than our own president. On Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 president Obama unwittingly revealed that while he appears to live in our universe, he actually does not. Some of the statement and declarations made in his “Climate Action Plan” are so strange and so out of touch with the reality that you and I live in, I can only conclude that our president is from and lives in an alternate reality.

In his Climate Action Plan the president states over and over again that we must reduce “carbon pollution.” In fact the phrase “carbon pollution” is mentioned 21 times. The term “carbon pollution” is an excellent example of what universe Obama lives in. In an alternate universe white can mean black, good can be bad, up can be down and so on. In Obama’s “reality” carbon is pollution. Carbon is a chemical element and is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. Who knew the universe is full of pollution! It is also present in all known life forms on earth. In the human body carbon is the second most abundant element by mass other than oxygen. We humans are carbon based life. In Obama’s alternate universe, all humans and all life forms are made of pollution. With the large amount of carbon in our bodies, if it were pollution, we would all be dead.

In the alternate universe that president Obama resides, what appears to be something in our reality is something very different in his. For instance, in his Climate Action Plan he states that carbon pollution from power plants, cars, trucks, trains, planes and everything that uses fossil fuels to make energy must be reduced. His reason for this is that the use of these fuels is changing the weather and ultimately the climate. Being that he is speaking to us from an alternate reality means he does not know that in our universe the term carbon pollution, translated into our reality, is actually carbon dioxide pollution. To many people the word carbon conjures up images of black chunks of coal, dirty and full of soot. The imagery of black carbon smoke filling the sky, fouling our water, covering the earth in a dark fog of unbreathable air and causing the seas to rise alarms and scares many people. This is all intentional.

What Obama is actually talking about, from his alternate universe point of view, is carbon dioxide gas, not black carbon. However, in his universe they are the same. Carbon dioxide is a gas, not a chunk of sooty coal. It has no color, no odor and is used by plants, trees and algae as food. The end result of this usage is to produce oxygen. The early plants that evolved in earth’s distant past produced enough oxygen by ingesting carbon dioxide to make our lives and all other living things possible. Life on earth, without carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, would cease to exist if it were eliminated. In Obama’s universe carbon dioxide means death, not life. Do you see what I’m getting at?

President Obama’s alternate universe is so different from our reality that life giving carbon dioxide is the same thing as mercury, arsenic and lead pollution. The very fact that the president insists that carbon (dioxide) is pollution is evidence that he has little concept of the reality you and I live in. Water vapor in the air causes most of the earth’s greenhouse effect. Will he next proclaim the water in the air is pollution? President Obama also appears to have no clue as to what is happening to the earth’s temperature. The president has stated that “temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago.” In the universe that you and I live in this is obviously not true and is frankly bizarre. There has been no acceleration of any temperature rise and in fact there has been no measured increase in global average surface temperature in at least 15 years and counting. and has clearly fallen since 2002 Apparently things look very different when you live in an alternate reality.

What is especially dangerous about being governed by someone who lives in an alternate reality is that he has the power to dictate what happens in our reality! The use of the word “dictate” is intentional since he has said “ If congress won’t act on climate change I will.” In our universe the founding fathers of the United States wrote the constitution to limit the power of any one branch of government so that the system has a number of checks and balances so that no branch of government becomes too powerful. In Obama’s alternate universe there is no congress or constitution, he is the sole power. Instead of going through congress he will use “executive orders” to bring his alternate universe view of climate change, and what needs to be done about it, to our reality.

In the land of the free and the home of the brave, capitalism has brought about the greatest economy the world has ever known, fueled by our ability to extract the vast natural resources at our disposal. In president Obama’s view from his alternate universe, this is bad and will destroy the earth. With his recent pronouncements it appears likely he will use executive power to impose a tax on everything that uses fossil fuels to increase the cost of using them and in doing so make them more and more expensive. His ultimate goal is to eliminate fossil fuel use.

In the universe you and I live in there is science. In science we have open discussions about theories. If a theory does not stand up to real world observations and experiments it is discarded and replaced with a new theory that must also go through the same evaluation. In Obama’s universe there is no science and no room for discussion. Speaking from is alternate universe pulpit on June 25th, 2013 Obama said “We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society.” He went on to say “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.” He may be correct. The storm is coming but it is not the one he is talking about. It is the storm of economic upheaval and the destruction of industries brought about by his dictates that we must be worried about.

In theory, if alternate universes exist, they are apparently operating independently of each other. In theory, if two universes come in contact with each other there could be severe consequences. President Obama seems determined to make that happen by pushing his alternate reality on all of us no matter what the real world data shows. To him the theory is reality, not the evidence.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here


July 4, 2013

The latest paper from Swedish sea-level expert, Nils Axel Morner


by Nils-Axel Mörner


The history and development of our understanding of sea level changes is reviewed. Sea level research is multi-facetted and calls for integrated studies of a large number of parameters. Well established records indicate a post-LIA (1850–1950) sea level rise of 11 cm. During the same period of time, the Earth’s rate of rotation experienced a slowing down (deceleration) equivalent to a sea level rise of about 10 cm. Sea level changes during the last 40-50 years are subjected to major controversies. The methodology applied and the views claimed by the IPCC are challenged. For the last 40-50 years strong observational facts indicate virtually stable sea level conditions. The Earth’s rate of rotation records a mean acceleration from 1972 to 2012, contradicting all claims of a rapid global sea level rise, and instead suggests stable, to slightly falling, sea levels. Best estimates for future sea level changes up to the year 2100 are in the range of +5 cm ±15 cm.


Inhospitable Earth -- Compared to What?

You just can't out-gloom an environmentalist. The Atlantic invited some luminaries to answer the question, "How and when will the world end?" Some contributions were funny. Others simply plausible -- a volcanic eruption from underneath Yellowstone National Park is frightfully overdue. But only an environmentalist like Bill McKibben could be a killjoy about the apocalypse itself.

The environmental activist and writer declares the question moot: "In a sense, the world as we knew it is already over. We have heated the Earth, melted the Arctic and turned seawater 30 percent more acidic. The only question left is how much more fossil fuel we'll burn, and hence how unfamiliar and inhospitable we'll make our home planet."

It's difficult to imagine a more absurd overstatement. I'm not referring to the exaggerated claim the Arctic has "melted." And the acidification of the oceans is a real concern (though there's reason to believe it's not as bad as some say). But even Chicken Little wouldn't call it proof the world is already over.

What's truly ludicrous is McKibben's use of the word "inhospitable."

For something like 99 percent of human history, the world was really inhospitable. Strangers everywhere were greeted with bloodshed and attacked with cruelty. Dying from premature violence was more commonplace than dying from heart disease or cancer is today. In his classic, "War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage," Lawrence Keeley provides mountains of data documenting that modern humans live on a mountain of murder. In prehistoric societies, up to half of the population died from homicide, though 10 percent to 20 percent was closer to the norm.

In "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined," Steven Pinker shows that the world has become immeasurably more hospitable since the Industrial Revolution. Even World War II was an improvement. If the death toll had been equal to that of tribal societies, 2 billion lives would have been lost instead of a "mere" 60 million to 100 million. In the United States, violent crime is the lowest it's been in nearly half a century.

Of course, McKibben is speaking of the physical environment. But by any conceivable measure -- save, arguably, outdoor temperatures -- the Earth is a vastly more hospitable place for humanity thanks to the hard work of humanity. When Pilgrims came to North America, it was often described as an inhospitable wilderness. Malaria, smallpox and yellow fever decimated immigrants (not to mention untold millions of Native Americans). Backbreaking labor was the only means of subsistence for millions of Americans for generations. Drudgery and toil -- have you ever tried to churn butter? -- were necessary for even the simplest pleasures. And does anyone dispute the improved lot of blacks and women?

Ironically, as global warming fears have risen, America and the Earth have gotten more, not less, hospitable. Since 1990, global poverty has been cut in half, and since 1970, extreme poverty has dropped 80 percent.

Rich and poor alike are eating better, despite global population growth. According to UNICEF, more than 2 billion people gained access to improved water sources between 1990 and 2010. In the developing world, meat consumption has more than doubled since the 1990s (after having doubled already since the 1960s). That's because new technologies allow us to grow more with less. From 1940 to 2010, U.S. corn production quintupled while the land used for the crop shrunk.

"Globally," writes Matt Ridley, "the production of a given crop requires 65 percent less land than it did in 1961." And, he notes, the acreage required for all crops is falling 2 percent a year.

OK, things have gotten a wee bit warmer outside. But economic growth and innovation have made the world vastly more hospitable. We live longer, eat better, have more leisure time and have fewer deadly occupations. The environment in the developed world has gotten vastly cleaner, healthier and more enjoyable since the 1970s because rich countries can afford to make things more hospitable. We can only hope poor countries get similarly wealthy as quickly as possible.

Well, most of us can hope for such things. Others seem to think such gains come at too high a price.


The snow that isn't vanishing

Ski resorts are concerned that global warming will reduce snowfall and hurt the skiing industry.

Skiing executive Auden Schendler said, “Aspen Skiing Company joined the climate declaration because if there is an industry that ought to care about climate change, it’s the ski industry.” The 2007 Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of a difficult future for the industry: “…snow cover area is projected to contract…mountainous areas will face glacier retreat, reduced snow cover and winter tourism…shifting of ski slopes to higher altitudes.”

There’s just one problem. Continental snowfall has been increasing. According to the Rutgers University Global Snow Laboratory, North American snowfall extent has been gradually rising over the last 40 years. The year 2010 showed the largest continental land area covered by winter snow since the data set began in 1967.

What makes otherwise sensible people fear that snow is disappearing when snowfall is actually increasing? It’s the ideology of Climatism, the belief that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate. Belief in this same ideology causes people to purchase light bulbs that are slow to light and to buy electric cars that can’t go very far. Climatism causes state governments to mandate erection of wind turbine towers that often stand idle.

But if snowfall is changing, why do people believe that government action can change such a climatic trend? In the fall of 2009, the mayor of Moscow declared that the Russian Air Force was now able to “keep it from snowing.” Five months later, in February of 2010, Moscow received 21 inches of snow in a single storm. Last winter, Moscow received the most snow in a century.

Nevertheless, we probably have bipartisan support in Congress for regulation of snowfall. Save the polar bears and the snow.


American Geophysical Union Scraps Science, Now Faith Based

I recently attended a 3-day science policy conference sponsored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The AGU is an association of 62,000 scientists who study the Earth. Although the conference was allegedly about science policy, it resembled a cross between a Scientology rally and a workshop for lobbyists from the Mohair Council of America.

The euphemisms for lobbying by people who aren't supposed to be lobbying are "communication" and "outreach." The AGU believes, in a secular way, that God is on their side and the reason why they are being ignored, and not being given enough money, is that they haven't done enough communicating. They think that if only the government understood the importance of their work, things would change for the better. It absolutely never crosses their mind that if the government and the people understood what they are really doing, their money might be cut off.

What they are doing is howling at the moon that the sky is falling. The president of the AGU, Carol Finn, who, incidentally, is employed by the federal government, opened the lobbying/communications workshop on the first day of the conference with this:

"AGU's mission is to promote discovery ... for the benefit of humanity[.] ... I live in Colorado[.] ... [L]ast week's Black Forest fire ... was the worst wildfire in Colorado's history[.] ... I live in Boulder County[.] ... [T]he county and the city of Longmont have just outlawed fracking[.] ... [A]ll these communities need to be able to try to figure out how to balance energy development and putting drill rigs next to schools[.]"

The subtext here, repeated over and over at the conference, is that global warming causes forest fires and that hydrocarbon development is undesirable, if not dangerous. But perhaps forest fires are started by matches. Maybe hydrocarbon development is preferable to riding around on horses.

How trustworthy is an organization that claims to be organized for the "benefit of humanity," anyway?

The illogical thinking and ever-changing stories about global warming doom are puzzling. What motivates the global warming proselytizers? Is there a root belief that explains their behavior? My suggestion is that their behavior is religious in nature and can be explained if we postulate that they believe in the following commandment:

"Thou shalt not add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere"

If you realize that the story is not really about global warming, but rather about changing the composition of the atmosphere, it becomes easy to understand why the believers are not disturbed by the fact that global warming, as measured by surface temperature, stopped 16 years ago. They easily find other scientific theories to buttress their faith. They ignore or discredit any science that challenges their faith. They tell us that if we don't stop adding carbon dioxide to the air, we will have extreme weather and the oceans will become acidified. The polar bears will die. The wine will lose its flavor. We will catch exotic diseases.

If one theory of doom is refuted, or becomes boring, there are plenty of others to take its place. Embarrassing information, such as the fact that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere makes plants grow faster, with less water, is dismissed. They say plants grow faster, but they are less nutritious, or they grow faster, but they deplete the soil of its nutrients.

What we have is an obsession with the evil of carbon dioxide -- a carbon cult.

The great majority of people who are members of the AGU are interested in science, not in a new religion centered on carbon. They have not woken up to the fact that their organization has been infiltrated by a carbon cult.

The carbon cult formulation does explain a lot. Chesterton's insight -- "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything" -- seems relevant in this discussion. Compared to traditional religion, the carbon cult is naive and emotionally thin.

Missionaries for a well-organized religion are intensely practical and often extremely diligent. Much of the science of linguistics has been created not by professors, but by Christian missionaries who want to learn the languages of illiterate peoples so that they can spread the gospel and translate the Bible. Of course, they also have to devise an alphabet and teach the people to read the newly translated Bible. Thus you have an example of the civilizing influence of Christianity.

What is the civilizing influence of missionaries who want to take practical sources of energy away from poor peoples?

The missionaries of the carbon cult are gradually becoming better-organized. In the United States, religions are financed by their followers. The government is not supposed to support religions financially, at least not if one religion is favored over another. But the carbon cult masquerades as a scientific discipline, enabling it to receive government funding. The carbon cult is financed partly by government support of science, and partly by the contributors to the big-budget environmental organizations.

The ability to influence government policy is as good as cash in the bank, and the ways in which influence over government policy can be turned into cash are endless. For example, a few years ago, the natural gas industry gave $25 million to the Sierra Club for their "beyond coal" campaign that is trying to destroy the coal industry. The natural gas people thought that the Sierra Club through its influence over the government would kill the coal industry, thereby helping the alternative fuel, natural gas. The natural gas industry did not understand that you can't buy off ideological fanatics. The Sierra Club later turned on its benefactor and launched an attack on fracking. The Sierra Club is an important church in the carbon cult.

The AGU has received large contributions from, of all people, oil companies. Global warming orator Bill McKibben, the leader of an organization whose purpose is to lower the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, said that the business plan of the oil companies is to wreck the Earth. Carbon cultists consider fossil fuel companies to be extremely evil, but apparently they are willing to suspend that judgment when cash is available. In this case the dictum attributed to Lenin seems relevant: "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." Oil company executives are casting themselves in the role of the people to be hanged.

The first day of the AGU Science Policy Conference was devoted to an excellent tutorial on how to lobby the government and on how to present the doctrines of the carbon cult in an effective way. The organizational structure of a typical congressional office was explained. The attendees were treated to skits showing an effective and ineffective way to approach a congressional staffer. The attendees were cautioned about the use of scientific jargon. Susan Hassol, a prominent writer for the global warming establishment, made the point that the word aerosol should be banned. To scientists, aerosols are small particles floating in the atmosphere, but to the public, they are aerosol spray cans and always will be.

The attendees were told to explain why the weather would be more extreme by comparing carbon dioxide to steroids. If an athlete takes steroids, he will still play the game, but his performance will be more extreme.

One difference between a cult and a legitimate religion is that the cults usually hide their true nature. The more bizarre the cult, the greater the imperative to hide its doctrines. The general public must not be allowed to realize that the advocates of global warming alarmism are in reality making up the story to propagate a fanatical faith that carbon dioxide is bad.

The science behind global warming is very shoddy. Yes, there is a nugget of real science buried in all the alarmist, made-up stuff. Carbon dioxide does absorb infrared radiation, and increased carbon dioxide probably will warm the Earth by a small amount. The mechanism is quite complicated, involving the atmospheric lapse rate and a slight relocation of the tropopause.

The complicated and jargon-laden science is reduced, by the missionaries of the carbon cult, for public consumption, to "carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas." The formal predictions of global warming from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are the product of an opinion poll of computer models that disagree with each other and that have been manipulated to make them look better than they really are. The carbon cultists accept those predications as serious and profound scientific truth, because the predictions provide support for their faith.


New British nuclear plant could be running by 2020

Britain could have a new nuclear reactor generating by 2020, the energy secretary has said, dismissing fears the timescale for the planned Hinkley Point plant had slipped further into the next decade.

EDF Energy has refused to give an up-to-date timetable for building reactors at the site in Somerset, which it originally planned to be producing power before the end of 2017.

Ed Davey told MPs that he did not recognise a claim that Hinkley wouldn’t be running until 2023. He said: “We are still hopeful we could see new nuclear generating in maybe 2020, 2021. I’m not going to say it will definitely be there because we haven’t signed a deal yet.”

The project, the costs of which are estimated to have risen to £14bn, will only proceed if the French-owned company can agree with the government over a decades-long contract to provide billions of pounds in subsidies.

Mr Davey said the two sides were yet to agree on the crucial 'strike price’ - a guaranteed price for the power Hinkley will produce, paid for through levies on consumer energy bills.

But he insisted the negotiations with EDF had been “going incredibly well” and were “very constructive”, despite the fact the French company had hoped to take an investment decision before the end of last year. Last week ministers offered EDF £10bn in financing guarantees as a sweetener for the project.

Centrica, which abandoned its 20pc stake in the project in February, stoked fears over possible delays to the project in May when chief executive Sam Laidlaw said that “instead of taking four to five years to build, EDF were telling us that it was going to take nine to 10 years to build”.

EDF is thought to have extended the timetable for Hinkley after a reactor in France took longer than expected, and after the Fukushima disaster.


Why a bet on shale gas will transform Britain

Forget the scare stories - we can cut carbon emissions and boost our economic fortunes

The Government last week published the British Geological Survey’s estimate of 1,300 trillion cu ft of natural gas stored within the shale rock deep beneath northern England. It is becoming clearer that the potential to transform our energy provision lies underneath our feet.

If only 10 per cent of northern England’s shale resources can be extracted, that would meet the UK’s current gas demand for more than 40 years. And at today’s prices, it would have a market value of almost £1 trillion, without considering the gas and oil deposits elsewhere in the country.

Some people argue we should generate more electricity using renewables instead of falling back on fossil fuels. After all, the Government has confirmed that renewables’ share of generation (around 9.6 per cent) will continue to grow. Decarbonising electricity generation is a key part of our energy policy.

But electricity generation accounts for only about a third of UK gas consumption. The remaining two thirds is taken up in heating our homes, firing our cookers and fuelling industry. So even if all our electricity demand could be generated without gas we would, without domestic shale gas, increasingly rely on expensive and potentially insecure imported gas. Clearly, gas and renewables will both form part of our energy mix for a long time to come.

There are other compelling reasons for us to be exploring for and developing shale gas. First, as a nation, we need sustained economic growth, the key to which is job creation. Britain’s recent performance in this regard, particularly for young people, has been very poor. However, in a recent report, the Institute of Directors predicts that shale gas development could create 74,000 new jobs, spanning geology, drilling, accounting, IT, and construction.

Second, communities will benefit financially. The prospect of them receiving £100,000 for every exploration well site that is hydraulically fractured, in addition to one per cent of revenues from future shale gas production, is fantastic news. More than £1 billion over a 20 to 30-year production period could be returned to Lancastrian communities in the Bowland Basin licence area alone.

The third point is that shale gas will make a major contribution to the Exchequer. In real terms, Deloitte estimates tax revenues from North Sea production will decline from £11.2 billion in 2011-12 to £3.7 billion in 2017-18. Onshore gas production could fill that gap, providing money to pay for health care, education, defence and other public services.

Predictions of production sites proliferating across densely populated areas are wide of the mark. Within 20 to 30 years, a successful Lancashire development could have up to 100 production sites in commercial operation across 1,200 square km. But put them together, these sites – each the size of a football pitch – would cover a total area of two sq km. After drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations are finished, each site would only contain a few low-rise processing facilities, together with valves and pipes inside units the size of post boxes, with the site screened by trees.

Of course, not everyone shares our belief about the potential of shale gas, but as long as the debate involves scientific data, that’s fine with us. There’s no place for ill-founded assertions about industrialisation, major earthquakes, contaminated drinking water or cancer, to name just some of the outcomes we hear propagated as “inevitable”. Britain has the engineering, health, safety and environmental expertise, together with a robust regulatory framework, to develop shale resources safely. To suggest that as a country we are incapable of doing this and must rely on the Middle East, Russia, North Africa or elsewhere to supply our gas is ill-judged.

We should also be wary of an artificial split between shale gas and renewables. Together, they represent the best opportunity we have to bring down the UK’s carbon emissions while maintaining competitiveness. There is little evidence from the US that shale gas undermines the case for investment in renewables, as long as the government and the electorate want them.

We need to demolish unfounded scare stories and tackle red tape so as to generate long-lasting benefits for the UK through the safe and responsible extraction of shale gas. Let’s start by stripping away guesswork, so we can understand exactly how much gas stored in shale rocks thousands of feet underground can be recovered.

Right now, we are on the verge of a historic opportunity to transform the UK’s energy supplies and economic fortunes for decades to come. Success means a stronger Britain, with better opportunities for our children, and lasting economic and environmental benefits for all.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here


July 3, 2013

Murry Salby: climate science innovator replicated

Swedish climate scientist Pehr Björnbom discusses below his recent replication of the work of Dr. Murry Salby, finding that temperature, not man-made CO2, drives CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

Murry Salby is a highly qualified and well-respected professor, academic teacher, and climate scientist. He has a series of innovative talks challenging the leading circles representing the IPCC sanctioned culture of consensus in climate science. He presents startling research that fundamentally questions the established views of the IPCC consensus. An important hypothesis that he advances is that the atmospheric CO2 rate of change is a function of only the global temperature changes and that this may explain the increase in carbon dioxide from pre-industrial times. This result was I able to reproduce, in a report given here.

One of the big talking points in climate science circles is interest in Murry Salby's lecture in Hamburg recently:

It is in this lecture he presents the hypothesis that the rate of change in carbon dioxide concentration in the air follows an equation that only depends on temperature change . There is enough information in the preferred order to be able to reconstruct Murry Salby's theory in detail, as I have done in the report Reconstruction of Murry Salby's theory that carbon dioxide increase is temperature driven . My reconstruction can be summarized in the following figure where the projected path of carbon dioxide compared with the observed from Mauna Loa since 1959 and before that carbon dioxide levels from an ice core.

The correspondence between the calculated and observed values ​​is excellent if not perfect. It should be noted that Murry Salby made ​​a much more detailed analysis than me with a thorough discussion.

The Murry Salbys theory agrees well with the observed data is of course no guarantee that the theory is also consistent with reality. But this shows that the arguments given in the IPCC reports are not as solid as is often claimed. I have considered these arguments in a previous blog post Is the IPCC argument for carbon dioxide increase due to human emissions sustainable? . There are other theories that give similar results as in the figure above, such as that of Dr. Gosta Pettersson.

What my reconstruction, however, quite clearly shows is that Murry Salby's reconstruction results are reliable. Murry Salby is on firm ground when he says that his hypothesis agrees with observations of how carbon dioxide levels have increased since 1850.

Much more HERE

Malthus lives!

Have the guys below never heard of Thomas Malthus or Paul Ehrlich? You'd think that anyone with any knowledge of the relevant history would be embarrassed to spout the bunkum below but when you live in a little Green/Left bubble, any nonsense is possible.

We actually have whole CONTINENTS where food productivity is way below what is possible -- Australia and Africa for a start. And note that China's embrace of the market has turned that crowded country into a net food EXPORTER. I could go on...

Contrast the Malthusian nonsense below with the more reality-based article following it

It’s a question that keeps crop scientists up at night: How are we possibly going to feed the world over the next few decades? After all, consider what we’re up against: The global population is expected to swell from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion by 2050. The rising middle class in China and India is eating more meat than ever. And this is all happening at a time when we’re setting aside a greater slice of farmland for biofuels and trying not to cut down any more forests (which exacerbates climate change). Doing this in a sustainable manner is tricky.

In theory, there’s a simple solution here: The world’s farmers will just need to get better at squeezing more productivity out of existing farmland. Crop yields have been steadily improving since the advent of synthetic fertilizer and modern agricultural techniques. So those yields will just need to keep improving in the years to come.

But there’s a big problem: This isn’t happening. Or at least, it’s not happening fast enough. A recent peer-reviewed study in the journal PLOS ONE found that crop yields haven’t been rising at a sufficient pace to meet projected demand by 2050.

In the U.S. Midwest, wheat yields per acre have been rising at a decent 2 percent per year. But in parts of India or Eastern Europe, they’ve basically flat-lined. The same holds true for other crops: “China, India and Indonesia are witnessing rice yield increases of only 0.7%, 1.0%, and 0.4% improvement per year,” the paper notes.

There are two big reasons why yield gains could be stagnating, explained Jonathan Foley, an agricultural expert at the University of Minnesota, in an interview we did a few months back. “In many parts of the world, we haven’t seen enough investment in agriculture because of economics or policies or institutions,” he said. Many former Soviet states, say, could improve their yields through better fertilizer use. They just aren’t doing it.

But in some parts of the world, there’s a more worrisome prospect — farmers are doing everything they can to squeeze more productivity out of their farmland, but they’re starting to hit a biological “wall,” a limit on how much yields can keep rising.

And this is all a worry even before we start talking about global warming, which creates its own set of issues. Scientists like David Lobell have found evidence that extreme heat waves could hurt crop yields in the decades ahead, outweighing the benefits of warmer temperatures. And if climate change brings more frequent droughts — as some researchers expect — that would make a further dent. Australia’s wheat yields, for one, have stagnated in recent years thanks to an extended dry period. [He obviouly has not heard about all our floods of the last few years]

“Feeding nine billion people in a truly sustainable way,” Foley concludes, “will be one of the greatest challenges our civilization has ever faced.”


Climate change 'will boost British farmers’

Climate change will be good for British farming, according to Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, with exotic crops such as melons already thriving.

In a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, she said that, although problems such as droughts would become more frequent, warmer weather would also mean a longer growing season and less frost damage, allowing the introduction of crops such as peaches, maize and sunflowers. Already 10,000 melons are expected to be harvested in Kent this year.

Mrs Spelman said farmers must “seize the opportunities” of increased production as well as preparing for more droughts and floods by building reservoirs and drains. “Climate change could mean reduced water availability. Also, soil moisture deficits, heat stress on animals, floods, droughts and the loss of some of the best agricultural land,” she said. “It could also bring longer growing seasons, reduced frost damage, and the opportunity to introduce new crops and livestock species.”

An advice service for farmers will offer tips on how to adapt to climate change such as the kind of crops they can plant and new breeds of sheep and cows that do well in a warmer climate. Farmers are also being encouraged to use water more efficiently through new irrigation methods and produce their own energy through solar power and from animal waste.

A study commissioned by the conference from the Scottish Agricultural College even suggested that the boost from a warmer climate could help Britain compete in the global market as production was reduced elsewhere.

Mrs Spelman warned that British agriculture would struggle in the future against emerging economies such as Brazil and China, but expertise in food safety, technology and adapting to climate change could be exported.

Last year was the second warmest year on record in the UK, with droughts in the South East and Anglia lasting into December. The Met Office predicts that the number of households under “water stress” will increase to almost a quarter of the population by 2100 as the average temperature rises by up to 3C in the South. Over the same period, an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land will become more suitable for crops.

A presentation by the English Wine Producers association warned that so many vineyards were being planted because of warmer weather that there was a risk that England would lose its reputation for only high quality wine


Climate change science has become an expensive smokescreen

SIGNING off as "Mr FOIA", the person who leaked the emails from East Anglia University that came to be known as "Climategate" and that drew a line in the snow at the Copenhagen Climate Summit recently released to a select few the password to the files containing 220,000 emails.

He didn't expect the remaining emails to hold big surprises and observed, "Even if I have it all wrong and these scientists had a good reason to mislead us (instead of making a strong case with real data) I think disseminating the truth is still the safest bet by far." Indeed it is.

That so many scientists have found it necessary to mislead us on anthropogenic global warming is an admission of political intent and the absence of a strong scientific case.

Since the release of the original Climategate emails, more revelations have come to light to support this contention.

The Delinquent Teenager exposed how non-government organisations such as Greenpeace and WWF, captured the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The book provides irrefutable evidence that what had once been accepted as the "gold standard" of climate science was nothing of the sort.

There was a second release of damaging Climategate emails and alarmist headlined research that had to be hastily withdrawn (without headlines) for want of rigour. There was another hockey stick that admitted groundless data and dire warnings of extreme weather events without evidence that a new normal had begun.

Despite this, the voices of alarm and authority have been unable to hide the reality that, statistically, there has been no increase in global temperatures since 1997, despite an 8.3 percent rise in atmospheric CO2. For those who want to cite warming in some records, all datasets agree there has been none since 2000. In fact since 2002 a slight cooling has been observed. Who knew? Well, not the warmist scientists.

Indeed, the ABC reported: "A study forecasts that global warming will set in with a vengeance after 2009, with at least half of the following five years expected to be hotter than 1998, which was the warmest year on record." Wrong. Even recent claims of an "angry" Australian summer were not validated by satellite data.

Roy Spencer, from the University of Alabama, compared 73 warming predictions to actual data across 34 years. Ending in 2012, he found an extraordinary discrepancy between what the models predicted and the actual observations of satellites and balloons. The predictions were all strongly biased to the upside. As he commented, "I frankly don't see how the IPCC can keep claiming that the models 'are not inconsistent with the observations'. Any sane person can see otherwise."

Scientists have long searched for a "hot spot" in the atmosphere. When it could not be found, some said it must be in the oceans. Yet, since the deployment in 2003 of 3000 Argo floats (the acme of ocean temperature measurement), researchers still haven't found it.

While CO2 may be a greenhouse gas, it seems that natural forces dominate climate change, not mankind's emissions. Henrik Svensmark's theory of cosmoclimatology (the role of cosmic rays) may be right.

With such mounting evidence it is hard to remain agnostic. Yet, rather than undertake a thorough rethink of US climate change policy, President Barack Obama prefers to champion discredited research to justify more initiatives that will squander the US's newly found natural gas competitiveness. He ignores the experience of Germany, the world's emissions abatement champion.

Germans discovered wind power generates only 17 per cent of plated capacity and juggling intermittent wind and solar power through the grid causes costly supply interruptions that offset CO2 savings. To ensure reliability and having shunned further nuclear investment, Germany is now building coal and gas-fired power stations.

But even with the world's second highest household electricity prices, it will probably miss its 2020 EU targets. Worse, German business is becoming less competitive despite alleged inadmissible subsidies for energy intensive industries. German corporations pay 2.2 times more for electricity than their US counterparts.

But it's not easy to stop a trillion-dollar juggernaut with facts. Any supranational emission reduction scheme that enforces conformity, provides generous subsidies, centralises authority, reduces competition, entrenches privilege for bureaucrats and the political class, and offers taxpayer-funded trips for the faithful to exotic locations will be strongly defended while the visible hardships these policies inflict are casually dismissed.

This is the world of climate change. The science has become an expensive smokescreen behind which vested interests hide.

Sooner or later, though, the laws of economics, which are more certain than the laws of anthropogenic global warming, will prevail and determine the sustainability of these gestures. Once upon a time legislators could justify the need to enforce reductions in CO2 emissions. Today we know these policies are based on back-to-the-drawing-board science and we have firsthand knowledge of their growth-slowing, economy-distorting, job-destroying impact.

In the meantime, the UN is claiming damages for "climate injustice with a human rights dimension" inflicted by wicked Western "polluters" on poor developing countries.

It wants huge financial compensation. Legitimate or not, any such claim of injustice pales in comparison to the ongoing harm and callous indifference shown by wealthy governments towards their own people.

This, is the greatest moral challenge of our time.


Why the MSM Is Stupid About AGW

stupidmediaThe mainstream media’s coverage of President Obama’s recent speech about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) was worse than bad, it was tragic. You have to search far and wide to find a news article that mentioned that many scientists – most, we argue – think the science behind the man-made global warming campaign is inconclusive at best. This poor reporting was deliberate: we sent MSM reporters a collection of reactions to the President’s speech that they could easily have used to include the views of skeptical climate scientists. Other think tanks did likewise.

A friend who follows the climate debate closely asked, “Why can’t we make any progress with the MSM?” Here are my top four reasons:

(1) We ARE making some progress. The Economist, New York Times, and Nature all published serious “walk back” articles in the past few weeks. Global warming is getting less and less news coverage as readers and editors realize this movement has passed through its “broken wave” period and is now receding.

(2) 99% of reporters who cover environment and global warming are environmentalists – it really is their religion. They aren’t going to some day just “change their mind” about global warming. Most will die or retire still being true believers.

(3) The MSM is shrinking fast, measured by ad revenue and circulation, and even faster measured by credibility and influence. The reporters left behind in the MSM are under-achievers, folks without transferrable skills. (Environmental reporters were already on the bottom rung of a short ladder, so you can imagine what a talentless lot remains.) As newspapers die, their reporting gets worse and worse. In the case of environment reporting, that means more and more shrill.

(4) Business publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, view environment issues as a contest between two industries (fossil and renewable) with environmentalists (white hats) siding with the renewables. That’s the paradigm you see in every WSJ business story about global warming. We – meaning free-market thinkers and skeptical scientists — simply don’t exist for these reporters because we don’t fit into their paradigm. In their world, we can ONLY be “front groups” for the fossil fuel industry. Any good reporter would research that claim and find it to be laughably false, but see #3.


British hospitals to run on their emergency diesels?

Which are very inefficient compared to reticulated power -- and produce lots more CO2!

Here's an extraordinary story from Friday

"NHS hospitals are being asked to cut their power demand from the National Grid as part of a government attempt to stave off power blackouts, which the energy watchdog Ofgem warns could arrive as early as 2015.

According to one energy company, four hospitals have already signed up to a deal under which they will reduce demand at peak times by using diesel-fired generators."

So in order to save the planet from the perils of carbon dioxide, we are going to run major power users on diesel generators. Canny, Mr Davey, canny.

The sheer idiocy of the situation the environmentalists in DECC have got us in to is almost unbelievable. I see no alternative to closing the whole department.




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here


July 2, 2013

Denial is not just a river in Egypt

Sigmund Freud identified denial as one of the maladaptive defence mechanisms that people use to cope with unwelcome truths. And few people can have as many unwelcome truths to face as Warmists -- starting with the fact that there IS no warming going on.

So what do you do when you are an elderly Irish engineer fronting a "renewable" power company which depends on Warmist scare stories for most of it business? You put on a nice suit and assure people with great aplomb that "There's no such thing as a climate change skeptic".

Almost the whole of the conservative side of politics ceases to exist with the wave of a hand! I doubt that Freud ever saw a case of denial on that scale!

You can hear that good ol' Irish charmer (Eddie O’Connor, Ceo of Mainstream Renewable Power) right here:

Everything he says is either irrelevant or false but he says it well


The "shrinking" scare again

Every now and again this one pops up: Animals (including us) are allegedly going to shrink as the earth gets warmer. We may become hobbits! The grain of truth in the scare is that nutritional deficiency does stunt growth. But to assume that a warmer world will have less food is heroic. And in fact during very warm periods in the geologic past we had the dinosaurs -- some of whom were very large indeed. We have no land animals of that size today. From Paleontology we could well argue that warming will make us LARGER!

The authors below do try to attach some data to their theory but appear to have looked at temperature only -- embracing the blissful fallacy that correlation is causation. They overlook third and fourth factors that might intervene in the relationship -- for instance the proliferation of species -- large and small -- in warmer climates. More species should mean more competition for food so members of any given species may get less of it. These guys are just not serious scientists. But which Warmists are?

America’s cattle herds will shrink – not in number, but in weight and yield – as the climate warms, according to new research that delivers an ominous warning for farmers.

An extensive study of bison − those great wild cattle that evolved to graze the prairies of North America − has confirmed that animals from warmer, drier grasslands weigh considerably less on average than those from cool, wet ranges.

Joseph Craine, a researcher from Kansas State University’s Division of Biology, reports in the Public Library of Science journal PloS One that he analysed weight, age and sex data from 290,000 animals in 22 herds throughout the US.

He found that the average seven-year-old male bison in South Dakota weighed 856kg (around 1900lbs), while counterparts in Oklahoma clocked in at 596kg (1300lbs).

The difference in mean annual temperature between the two ranges was 11°C, and the two sets of values told an ominous story of change in a warming world − not just for wild bison, but also for domestic cattle.

The research is in line with other findings this year. As reported in January, evidence from 55 million years ago − when the world warmed by 6°C – was unearthed during drilling in the National Science Foundation’s Bighorn Basin Coring Project in Wyoming. It indicated that animal size tended to dwindle with rising temperatures, almost certainly in response to changes in nutritional value.

The implication that mammals could dwarf and humans shrink towards hobbit-like stature under a changing climate was tragically confirmed by a study of body heights among children in north-east Brazil.

In response to near-starvation conditions, children who were brought up on a diet of rats, snakes and cacti reached an average adult size of only 1.35 metres (4ft 6ins).


Corn crop would not be reduced by the Warmist temperature rise

Discussing: Butler, E.E. and Huybers, P. 2013. Adaptation of US maize to temperature variations. Nature Climate Change 3: 68-72.

In the words of Butler and Huybers (2013), "high temperatures are associated with reduced crop yields, and predictions for future warming have raised concerns regarding future productivity and food security." More specifically, they note that "global maize yields are forecast to decline in response to increasing temperature, particularly as the upper range of growing season temperatures becomes hotter," citing Schlenker and Roberts (2006), Easterling et al. (2007), Lobell and Field (2007), Battisti (2009), Lobell et al. (2011) and Roberts and Schlenker (2011).

However, they caution that "the extent to which adaptation can mitigate such heat-related losses remains unclear," and they thus proceed to present some much-needed clarity on this subject by empirically demonstrating how maize is locally adapted to hot temperatures across a subset of 1,013 US counties, after which they used this spatial adaptation "as a surrogate for future adaptation," noting that "US corn hybrids have a product half-life of about 4 years, suggesting sufficiently rapid turnover to adapt to decadal changes in climate."

With the help of this adaptation phenomenon, the two researchers determined that (1) "losses to average US maize yields from a 2°C warming would be reduced from 14% to only 6%," and that (2) "loss in net production is wholly averted." As for a few specifics on the matter, they indicate that under the 2°C warming scenario, "Minnesota stands to increase yields by 11%; the yield losses from northern Ohio west to northern Missouri are nearly eliminated; and North Carolina, Georgia and east Texas reduce losses from 49% without adaptation to 39% with it."

In the concluding paragraph of their report, Butler and Huybers write that "losses to US maize yield from increased temperature," such as those suggested by Schlenker and Roberts (2006, 2009), "are almost certainly overestimated if adaptation is not accounted for." But if it is a part of the analysis, their work suggests that there could well be no net loss in productivity across the entire corn-production region.


Checking models against the data shows that they are too poor to base policy on

Discussing: Koumoutsaris, S. 2013. What can we learn about climate feedbacks from short-term climate variations? Tellus A 65: 10.3402/tellusa.v65i0.18887.

Writing as background for his work, Koumoutsaris (2013) says that "currently, global climate models disagree in their estimates of feedbacks, and this is one of the main reasons for uncertainty in future climate projections," citing Bony et al. (2006). And he further indicates that "in order to unveil the origin of these inter-model differences, model simulations need to be evaluated against observations of present climate," which is what he proceeds to do.

More specifically, Koumoutsaris estimated "the feedbacks from water vapor, lapse-rate, Planck, surface albedo and clouds, using models and observations based on the climate response over the last 30 years," which short-term feedbacks "result both from external changes in the forcing (due to greenhouse gas increases, volcanic and industrial aerosol emissions) and internal climate variations (mostly due to ENSO variability)."

And what did he learn?

In the words of the Swiss scientist, "the CMIP3 models show a much larger interdecile range for all short-term feedbacks in comparison to the long-term ones," which he says "is also the case for the three models with the most realistic ENSO representation," citing van Oldenborgh et al. (2005)." He also indicates that the models have difficulty capturing "the position and magnitude of ENSO teleconnection patterns." In addition, he reports that "the uncertainty in the cloud feedback, using a combination of reanalysis and satellite data, is still very large."

Koumoutsaris concludes that his several analyses indicate that "important aspects of the ENSO variability are still poorly understood and/or simulated." And in the case of cloud feedback, he says that it is difficult to come to "any firm conclusion" ... even on the sign of the feedback.

And when these phenomena are so poorly simulated - even to the point where the direction of change of one of them remains unknown - it should be clear to all that the climate-modeling enterprise still has a long, long way to go before it can be considered good enough to serve as a basis for energy policy decisions that are already dictating various aspects of human behavior.


The Cost of War – on Coal

War always has a cost. The War on Coal declared last Tuesday by Barack Obama is no different. The costs will be real, substantial, and be felt in every American household.

Barack Obama says there is no more time to wait around for Congress to act. Seeking the once fashionable Consent-of-the- Governed would take too long. The President ridiculed those with dissenting opinions – including a growing number within the scientific community; "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society," he said in his speech at Georgetown University.

The "Flat Earthers" apparently include 16 of the most highly credentialed environmental scientists in the world who jointly penned an editorial in the June 28, 2013 Wall Street Journal explaining that, "There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy."

Obama justifies both his unilateral action and cost of the War on Coal with the same explanation Progressives use for virtually every item on their agenda. We simply must "combat this threat on behalf of our kids." It's always for the children, isn't it?

As we said in a post yesterday, "Obama's new War is a war against ourselves. Virtually all of the coal is domestically produced supporting American jobs, families and communities, and providing a huge portion of the affordable energy necessary to support citizens and businesses throughout the nation."

A team of Heritage Foundation Scholars analyzed and quantified the cost of Obama's War on Coal for just the first years from 2015-2030. Led by David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D., Research Fellow for Energy Economics and Climate Change, the Heritage scholars confirmed our assertions from yesterday's blog post. Obama's war "with no compelling scientific argument" to justify it, will most certainly have tangible, harmful consequences for every American citizen.

Here's a link to the entire Heritage report, and below is a key excerpt with the summary findings:

While it may not be clear exactly which policies will be used, it seems clear that zeroing-out coal-fired electric power plants is a goal of this Administration’s environmental team. This paper will analyze the economic impact of setting such a target. We look at the first 16 years of a 20-year phase-out of coal power: 2015–2030.

The analysis shows significant economic losses extend beyond the obvious areas of coal mining and power generation. In particular, we find that by 2030:

* Employment falls by more than 500,000 jobs;

* Manufacturing loses over 280,000 jobs;

* A family of four’s annual income drops more than $1,000 per year, and its total income drops by $16,500 over the period of analysis;

* Aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) decreases by $1.47 trillion;

* Electricity prices rise by 20 percent;

* Coal-mining jobs drop 43 percent; and

* Natural gas prices rise 42 percent.


Australian government underplays effect of carbon tax on households and businesses while overstating its environmental benefit

THE Federal Government has underplayed the effect of the carbon tax on households and businesses while overstating the environmental benefit.

The cost-of-living impact in the first 12 months of the tax will be a rise of 0.7 per cent, according to Westpac and NAB - exactly what Federal Treasury forecast.

Westpac senior economist Huw Mackay said: "I think consumers are probably pleasantly surprised by how modest the impost is."

But not modest enough for the Government.

It says in a new report, "How Australia's carbon price is working One Year On", that "Westpac and National Australia Bank economists have estimated that the carbon price has increased the Consumer Price Index by just 0.4 per cent".

The report, which bizarrely has an American family on the cover, continues: "This means the Household Assistance Package has left many millions of Australian families better off financially."

A Government spokesman on Climate Change said it was not misleading to use the 0.4 per cent figure even though it related to a period before the tax began.

Meanwhile, manufacturers, construction firms and service providers say profits have cooled due to Australia's effort to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2C.

"For most businesses the high fixed carbon tax has so far reduced profitability rather than encouraging change, while squeezing product development, innovation and jobs growth," said Innes Willox, CEO of the Australian Industry Group, which represents more than 60,000 businesses.

But the government report says: "Since the carbon price started, Australia's manufacturing industry has been investing in new equipment to improve energy efficiency and pollution."

These investments are "cleaning up Australian manufacturing and generating big savings for business".

The report also says there has been a five per cent decline in carbon pollution per unit of electricity because the tax has made greener power "more competitive when compared to higher-polluting coal-fired electricity generation".

"As a result, electricity generation is switching away from high-polluting fuels like brown coal."

Renewable energy output was up 30 per cent, it says. Generation from coal was down 14 per cent.

National Generators Forum executive director Tim Reardon said energy from coal was down "largely due to unforeseen technical outages". The increase in hydro was "due to a wet season - there's been no additional build".

The carbon price would need to be more than $100 per tonne to change the economics of generation, Mr Reardon said.

Energy Supply Association CEO Matthew Warren said: "If we didn't have a carbon price we would still see a drop in emissions."

Coalition spokesman on "Climate Action" Greg Hunt said: "If elected, the carbon tax will be repealed and won't make a second anniversary."




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here


July 1, 2013

From reason to freedom

Last I heard there were over a million blogs in existence -- and they all differ in various ways. This blog is mainly what might be called a "collation" blog: I gather together each day what seems to me to be the latest news and thinking about a particular topic and present it all together in one place. For time-poor readers that can be convenient.

In doing so, however, I take an expansive view of the "fair usage" provisions of copyright law and that view could be challenged. But it rarely is -- and for an excellent reason: Most of the people whose writings I recycle WANT their thoughts to be as widely seen as possible. They even see it as a compliment to have their writings reproduced.

But there are exceptions to every rule and it is remarkable that the only two exceptions I can recollect came from libertarian blogs. Why is that remarkable? Because libertarians are normally most scornful of the idea of intellectual property. As I do, they welcome anybody to reuse their work free of charge, let or hindrance as a matter of principle.

The blog listed in the heading to this post is however one of the aberrant blogs. Click on the link and you will most likely get a great steaming heap of abuse aimed at me because I have recycled a few of his posts in the past.

A curious thing is that the blogger, M.J. Taylor, does not ordinarily identify himself on his blog nor does he provide an email address where he can be contacted. And even curioser is that I have never received from him any email objection to my use of his material. Had I been aware of his objections, I would have deleted him from my reading immediately -- which I have now done. I will recycle nothing more of his.

UPDATE: I have had a number of emails commenting on the illiteracy and illogic of Mr. Taylor's fulmination. He can't be very bright.

Thwarting America’s crude awakening

The American “shale boom” is poised to revolutionize global energy markets. It could transform the nation from a longtime net oil importer into an export powerhouse. Consider that the 2012 increase in U.S. crude oil production, announced last week, was the largest not just in U.S. history but the world.

To help this transformation, a bipartisan swath of federal and state officials is pressing for new infrastructure, like the Keystone XL pipeline, to move a glut of domestic oil from the center of North America to Gulf ports. This is a crucial step, but unless Congress reforms archaic restrictions on crude oil exports, all that black gold’s going nowhere.

These restrictions not only contradict global trade rules and national trade and energy policies, they also threaten to derail the American energy revolution. Yet, unlike similar restrictions on natural gas, almost no one in Washington is talking about them.

In a free market, the answer to the key question of where to sell all this new American oil would be simple: wherever demand takes it. Unfortunately, the U.S.crude oil market is anything but free.

Instead, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 authorized an export licensing system that, though intended to address temporary conditions, remains in place. It prohibits almost all crude oil exports — even in this time of abundant supply.

Exports today require a license from the Commerce Department that, except for shipments to Canada and a few other narrow circumstances, is only approved if the proposed transaction is “consistent with the national interest.”

Non-Canadian exports of U.S. crude oil are effectively banned. No license applications were approved under the “national interest” exception between 2000 and mid-2012, and subsequent data confirms that this unfortunate streak remains intact.

This de facto ban creates a host of problems. First, by curtailing exports and subjecting license approvals to the whims of bureaucrats, the current system slows domestic production, breeds economic distortions, discourages investment and destabilizes energy markets.

U.S. oil producers, for example, lose an estimated $10 billion a year due to their inability to sell crude in foreign markets. They’ve also spent hundreds of millions of dollars building “mini-refineries” in the Midwest and Gulf region to circumvent the current restrictions and export a slightly processed, cheaper product — leaving another $1.7 billion in potential profit on the table.

As Rube-Goldbergian as this sounds, producers have few alternatives, given that U.S. oil consumption has collapsed in recent years and building new refinery capacity is virtually impossible in many “environmentally friendly” states. These problems prompted the head of the International Energy Agency to warn recently that U.S. export restrictions put the “American oil boom” at risk.

Second, the export licensing system raises serious concerns under global trade rules. The World Trade Organization generally prohibits members from imposing export restrictions — including “discretionary” licensing systems or those that result in long delays. The U.S. system appears to do both. The executive branch alone decides on what is in the “national interest.” At least six pending license applications — first reported last fall — still haven’t been granted. It also could be legally and politically difficult in this case for the U.S. government to assert WTO-sanctioned defenses for national security, conservation or temporary supply shortages.

Third, the oil export restrictions are at odds with some other Obama administration policies. Restricting oil exports, most obviously, undermines the president’s National Export Initiative, the goal of which is to double U.S. exports between 2010 and 2014. . It also contradicts Obama’s advocacy of other energy exports — particularly renewables and nuclear power.

Using export restrictions to suppress input prices and help downstream industries contradicts the longstanding U.S. policy of classifying other countries’ use of similar measures as “unfair” subsidies subject to countervailing duties. The export ban also exposes U.S. exports of oil-based products to “copycat” duties in other markets.

Finally, Washington has long opposed restrictive and opaque export licensing systems at the WTO — speaking out, most recently, against Chinese restrictions on exports of raw materials and “rare earth” elements. The U.S. licensing system contradicts these positions and undermines multilateral efforts to combat such measures.

Given these problems, it’s clear that the current crude oil export licensing system needs to go. Congressional supporters of the U.S. energy boom must lead the charge.

If advocates really want to develop our vast energy resources and expand the economy, they should craft a licensing policy that reflects the new energy landscape and the immense U.S. export potential.

They’d also be restoring some overall coherence to U.S. trade and energy policy — and avoiding potentially embarrassing trade conflicts. If they ignore these restrictions, and their many flaws, the nascent U.S. oil boom could be snuffed out


Obama promises an end to cheap energy

By Marita Noon

A few months ago, in his State of the Union address, President Obama proudly pledged to tackle climate change — despite opposition from Republicans. To date, precious little action to combat climate change has been seen from the White House — which pleases most Republicans and angers the Left.

Environmental activists are some of Obama’s most ardent supporters, but they are frustrated and losing patience with the president. He hasn’t been definitive on killing the Keystone pipeline; as the Washington Post reports, he’s “fallen back from the broad clean energy agenda he envisioned when he first took office” — even to the point of supporting natural gas exploration and recently approving Liquefied Natural Gas export terminals that will increase demand by shipping U.S. natural gas to foreign markets; and he seems to have acquiesced to a fossil fuel future by proposing adaptations to make “coastal communities more resistant to increasingly severe storms and floods.”

The environmental community wants to see bold steps toward a fossil-fuel free future.

Michael Brune, executive director for the Sierra Club, groused: “On climate, we’re worse off than we were when the President’s second term started.”

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is calling on the President to “outline exactly how he plans to combat global warming by 2016.”

In a new campaign being launched by the NRDC, filmmaker Robert Redford states: “Four months ago, President Obama spoke of our obligations to combat climate change, saying failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Ads from the NRDC feature Redford challenging Obama to live up to the “courage of his convictions.”

Even those within his own party are pressuring the president.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has called climate change “the issue of our time.” He believes that Obama should announce the implementation of strong regulatory steps that will “revive this great issue.” Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) recently pushed the President to oppose the pipeline — despite polling that shows the vast majority of the public supports it: “I encouraged him to follow through on the correct policy position, suggesting polling numbers aren’t always in support of smart policy.”

With his base is looking for immediate remedies, his popularity is plunging, and more negative news is hitting the airwaves every day, an announcement — as Whitehouse wants — of “strong regulatory steps” to “revive this great issue” could be advisable. It would give environmentalists the aggressive action they are itching for and divert the discussion from the various scandals plaguing his presidency.

Instead, when the White House made a decision to raise the social cost of carbon emissions by 60 percent — which will have a costly impact on the economy with wide-ranging implications for everything from power plants to the Keystone pipeline — there were no optics: no fanfare, no press conference, no announcement.

Tucked into a rule about microwave ovens’ efficiency standards (With everything going on in the world, we are worrying about microwave ovens?) is an increase in the figure the government uses to weigh costs and benefits of proposed regulations. The “so-called social cost of carbon” represents the “approximate losses from global warming such as flood damage and diminished crops.” The Daily Caller describes this social cost of carbon dioxide emissions as “a monetary estimate of the damages caused by carbon emissions” that “all federal agencies must use when formulating regulations.”

The White House Office of Management and Budget raised the cost of a metric ton of carbon from the current $23.80 to $38.00 in 2015 — which gives the administration “justification to be more aggressive than they otherwise would be,” explained Jeff Holmstead, air quality chief at the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.

It seems that this “determination” was intended as appeasement to Obama’s agitated base while not damaging his falling popularity — though it probably fails at both.

Frank Ackerman, an economist at Tufts University who published a book about the economics of global warming, calls the social cost of carbon “the most important number you’ve never heard of.” According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, he said: “This is a very strange way to make policy about something this important.” And added, “The Obama Administration ‘hasn’t always leveled with us about what is happening behind closed doors.’”

Why bury “something this important” in an afternoon announcement about something that is virtually insignificant? The answer, I believe, is found in a small piece of the Washington Post story cited previously. Apparently, the White House’s own research found that when Obama, in his State of the Union speech, “vowed to act on climate change if Congress refused to do so,” a focus group’s “favorability” rating “plummeted.” White House transcripts reveal that Obama knows that “the politics of this are tough.”

At an April fundraising event at the San Francisco home of billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, Obama defended his lack of action on climate change: “If you haven’t seen a raise in a decade, if your house is still $25,000, $30,000 underwater … you may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your number one concern.”

As a result, his Organizing for America team — “formed to advance the president’s second term agenda” — has been laying the “groundwork with the American public before unveiling a formal climate strategy.” Teasing out the increase in the social cost of carbon was likely part of the strategy, intended to test the waters ahead of the planned climate announcements from the White House.

Likewise, his comments in Berlin, where he reintroduced the subject, calling climate change “the global threat of our time.” The next day, headlines read: “Obama to renew emissions push.” It is believed that the new “measures to tackle climate change” will “effectively ban new coal-fired power plants” — to which I add, will effectively ban “cheap electricity.”

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that U.S. power generation is, once again, using more coal — reversing the trend toward natural gas: “A flood of inexpensive natural gas led to the highest ever use of that fuel for electricity generation while coal-fired electricity fell to its lowest level in a quarter-century.”

Natural gas prices have been creeping higher and have pushed an increased use of coal in attempt to keep electricity costs as low as possible — after all, progressives and career environmentalists Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhous, of the Breakthrough Institute, posit: cheap electricity is a public good and a human right that has saved the forests, produced more food on less land, and lifted incomes.

Wait, wait, wait! Regular readers of my affordable energy advocacy should give pause here. It is not me saying that cheap electricity is a basic human right — though I believe it, it is Shellenberger and Nordhous whose own biographies describe them as “leading global thinkers on energy, climate, security, human development, and politics” and whose book, Breakthrough, has been called “the best thing to happen to environmentalism since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.”

In a treatise, which I believe should be required reading for everyone, titled: “Has there been a great progressive reversal? How the Left abandoned cheap electricity,” they outline a historic shift that’s taken the Left from being champions of the poor to being “developed-world progressives, comfortably ensconced in their own modernity.”

They explain: 80 years ago, “The best forests had been cut down to use as fuel for wood stoves. Soils were being rapidly depleted of nutrients, resulting in falling yields and a desperate search for new croplands. Poor farmers were plagued by malaria and had inadequate medical care. Few had indoor plumbing and even fewer had electricity.” Cheap electricity changed all that and Senator Al Gore, Sr., fought for it.

Today, “Environmentalists demand that we make carbon-based energy more expensive” and the Left calls it “a threat to the planet and harmful to the poor.” Shellenberger and Nordhous state: “In the name of democracy it now offers the global poor not what they want — cheap electricity — but more of what they don’t want, namely intermittent and expensive power” which “offers the poor no path to the kinds of high-energy lifestyles Western environmentalists take for granted.”

Believers in anthropogenic global warming, they acknowledge that “modernization” does have “side effects,” but they believe that these are problems that can be “dealt with.” Shellenberger and Nordhous state: “In the name of democracy it now offers the global poor not what they want — cheap electricity — but more of what they don’t want, namely intermittent and expensive power” which “offers the poor no path to the kinds of high-energy lifestyles Western environmentalists take for granted.”

Shellenberger and Nordhous close their eye-opening commentary by stating that the 1.3 billion people who lack cheap grid electricity should get it. “It will dramatically improve their lives, reduce deforestation, and make them more resilient to climate impacts. … Any effort worthy of being called progressive, liberal, or environmental, must embrace a high energy planet.”

Their logic is tough to dispute. While I do not agree that global warming is a manmade crisis, I certainly support their conclusions about the importance of cheap energy as a human right and public good.

This whole line of reasoning, begs some questions:

* Why did the left abandon cheap energy? (Remember, in California, it was the rich, white Democrat representatives who voted to ban fracking while the black and Hispanics, in districts in need of jobs, didn’t vote for the ban.)

* Why is the Obama administration willing to make policy that will cause its favorability rating to “plummet,” raise the price of energy, and disproportionately hurt the poor?

* Why does America continue subsidies that emphasize activity rather than outcomes and continue to follow the failed energy policies of socialist Europe?

Your answers to these questions should scare you and bring another question to your mind: How do we stop this and save America?


The message of Britain's shale gas is: scrap the Climate Act

The news that we have such rich shale-gas reserves makes a further mockery of our energy policy

Who could doubt that the Almighty has a sense of humour when, on the very day headlines were filled with warnings that our electricity system is now in such a parlous state that we can soon expect power cuts and electricity “rationing”, we were also told that Britain is now sitting on what has been called “by far the biggest shale gas basin in the world”.

There may have been some journalistic licence in how the two reports from which these claims derived were written. Even so, the cautious predictions of the British Geological Survey confirmed that Britain has a potential shale-gas resource as significant as the oil and gas we found in the North Sea, and enough to meet all the UK’s energy needs for many decades to come.

The point about these two contrasting announcements is that they highlight more starkly than ever the barely credible shambles successive governments have made of our national energy policy, how ludicrously skewed it has become by their obsession with global warming and the delusion that, by cutting down our “carbon emissions”, we can somehow change the Earth’s climate.

The Government’s current policy, as I have repeatedly explored here, is twofold.

On one hand, it is based on building tens of thousands of useless and ludicrously expensive wind turbines, made possible only by forcing us to pay double or treble the normal cost of the pitiful amount of electricity they so unreliably produce. On the other, by taxes and regulations designed to make “renewables” seem competitive, they plan to double the cost of any power from other sources, whether fossil fuels or nuclear. In short, they want to make our electricity more expensive than anywhere else in the world.

Then, just as they have cobbled this crazy joke of a policy together, we discover that we are sitting on what is potentially the world’s largest resource of a fuel so cheap that it has halved the price of gas across the Atlantic in just five years.

The last time I observed that the Almighty must have a sense of humour was in October 2008 when, just as our MPs were voting almost unanimously for Ed Miliband’s Climate Change Act, committing us to economic suicide by cutting CO2 emissions by 80 per cent in 40 years, the first October snow was falling in London for 74 years.

We will not see an end to this insanity until our politicians recover their senses, struggle back into the real world and strike that Act from the statute book.


Dirty tricks of the the fracking deniers: How Green zealots peddle cynical propaganda to stop Britain mining £3trillion of shale gas...enough to keep the lights on for 141 YEARS

Green pressure group Friends of the Earth is preparing a bitter legal battle to try to block Britain’s trillion-pound shale gas bonanza.

It wants to prevent any exploitation of this vast new reserve of cheap, clean energy forever and is already fighting to stop all exploratory test drilling.

But an investigation by The Mail on Sunday suggests that the group’s campaign is based on alarmism, spreading highly misleading claims about shale gas’s supposed dangers.

Last week the organisation issued an ‘action guide’ for activists, advising them how to stop shale gas extraction – known as ‘fracking’ – by manipulating the planning system.

It leaves no doubt as to its purpose: ‘The ultimate aim of our fracking campaign is that we stop it!’

Disclosure of FoE’s plans comes in the wake of a British Geological Survey (BGS) report, which revealed that the UK’s reserves are truly staggering – potentially enough to reverse economic decline and to turn the country into a net exporter of energy, competing with states such as Qatar.

It estimates that around 1,329 trillion cubic ft of gas and oil are held within Northern England’s Bowland shale alone – just one of six such geological ‘basins’ in the UK.

Conservative assessments say about ten per cent of this should be commercially recoverable – worth, at current gas prices, £1 trillion, and enough to meet all the UK’s gas consumption needs for 47 years, based on current demand.

It is equivalent to Qatar’s entire gas production for 36 years, or one and half-times as much as all the gas extracted from the North Sea since 1970.

Last week, Chancellor George Osborne suggested communities where there was fracking should be given a levy of one per cent of revenues. On that basis, Bowland would be given a £10 billion boost.

But industry experts believe the eventual percentage recoverable is likely to be much higher – perhaps as much as 30 per cent – worth £3 trillion and enough to last 141 years.

In the US large-scale fracking since 2005 has caused energy prices to plummet, sparked economic recovery and cut greenhouse gas emissions to levels last seen in 1990. Fracking there usually recovers about 18 per cent of the gas the rock contains.

Chris Wright, chief executive of Liberty Resources, one of America’s biggest investors in shale gas and oil, said that in Britain, the shale beds are more than a mile thick, as opposed to a few hundred feet in the US.

Commenting on the first fracking test well drilled by the firm Cuadrilla two years ago, he said: ‘The data looked very encouraging’. He added that in the US, estimates of the size of reserves had been continually revised upwards once drilling began and technology improved.

Meanwhile Nigel Smith, co-author of the British Geological Survey’s report, told The Mail on Sunday that there is ‘a lot more gas’ offshore in the Irish and North Seas – perhaps a further ten times as much.

He added some of this could be exploited without the need for offshore drilling platforms, by drilling horizontally from sites on land.

Later this year the geologists are to publish their assessment of the Wessex basin, which runs from Kent to Dorset. Further reserves are being investigated in Somerset, South Wales, Scotland and County Fermanagh.

However, FoE is determined to try to stop this energy revolution. Helen Rimmer, its North West England staff campaigner, said: ‘It’s a fossil fuel that we don’t need. It would be better to keep it in the ground.’ Instead, she said, Britain should invest only in renewables, such as wind turbines.

Underlying the FoE campaign is its obsession with global warming – despite a modern, gas-fuelled power plant emitting less than half the carbon dioxide of a coal plant.

‘We need to consider the climate impact,’ Ms Rimmer said. ‘We think fracking is incompatible with our carbon targets. It’s completely the wrong direction for our energy.’

FoE’s principal weapons in its bid to stop fracking are challenging Cuadrilla and other firms through the planning process – even for short-term test drills – and via the Environment Agency which issues permits.

But report by Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering last year concluded that with deep fracking this risk is 'very low'.

FoE officials admit that these formal challenges are likely to be only the first stage in a tactic designed to stop any fracking until at least 2015: if the EA and councils do issue permissions to drill, they will face challenges in the courts through judicial review. Jake White, from FoE’s legal department, said: ‘There could well be no further activity before the Election.’

He also admitted that although FoE was concerned about ‘local impacts’ such as the possible effect on bird life, its real concern was the climate.

However, some of the claims being made by FoE in its legal letters are extremely contentious, and may require expert witnesses and days of testimony in court.

For example, FoE says that earthquakes triggered by fracking may cause wells to leak, contaminating water supplies.

Yet two tremors that halted UK fracking two years ago were too small to cause damage, and were weaker than tremors commonly triggered by coal mining. In millions of US fracking operations, there has never been a powerful quake.

FoE says a EU directive demands that unless it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt there is no risk to groundwater and aquifers, permission must not be granted.

However, last year a report by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering said the risk of contamination was ‘very low’ when, as in Britain, fracking takes place deep below ground.

FoE’s claims about greenhouse gases are also misleading. It has repeatedly asserted that even though gas-fuelled electricity produces less carbon dioxide than coal, the overall greenhouse impact is greater, because methane escapes during fracking, and methane’s greenhouse impact is greater than carbon dioxide’s.
fracking graphic

Yet this rests on a single, hotly disputed study, which other scientists have criticised as ‘deeply flawed’.

Moreover, in the early days in America, flowback water, which may contain methane, was sometimes stored in open ponds, but UK rules forbid this, so greatly reducing the scope for gas emissions.

Ultimately, the FoE hopes the courts will rule that fracking was ‘inconsistent with climate policy’ – and so render it unlawful permanently.

But if fracking produces cheap power, it will mean that alternatives such as wind power will be increasingly expensive in comparison.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: ‘The gas volumes in the survey are astounding: this is a natural bonanza which we must grasp. ‘Rather than be persuaded by scare tactics, we need to look at the facts.

‘Do we really want to deny the British public a clean, affordable, home-grown energy supply which could free us from dependency on unstable regimes and which would give a huge boost to our industry?’


Ryanair CEO blames notion of global warming on “environmental loonies”

“Mixed with his routine invective and only a single passing use of the f-word,” O’Leary’s comments appear at the end of a long article about “737s, acquisitions and taxes.”

“Michael O’Leary, the devil-may-care head of Ireland-based European budget airline Ryanair, made his first Air Show appearance in Paris this past week, and lived up to his reputation for colorful language and unmediated disrespect for government bureaucrats” says this story in the Seattle Times.

“O’Leary, arguably the most hard-nosed operator in the airline world…. offered nuggets of wisdom on the state of the airline world, mixed with his routine invective and only a single passing use of the f-word.

“On the European Union plan to introduce a carbo- emissions tax on airlines…. He began by deriding the notion of global warming, which he blamed on “environmental loonies” and “a bunch of incompetent European politicians taxing Europe’s consumers so that they can do something about climate change.”

“It would be better to address real issues such as European unemployment by promoting tourism, he said.

“Instead of trying to solve nonexistent issues like climate change, why don’t you actually get young people in Europe back to work?”




Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here and here


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.

Context for the minute average temperature change recorded: At any given time surface air temperatures around the world range over about 100°C. Even in the same place they can vary by nearly that much seasonally and as much as 30°C or more in a day. A minute rise in average temperature in that context is trivial if it is not meaningless altogether. Warmism is a money-grubbing racket, not science.

By John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.), writing from Brisbane, Australia.


"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" -- Karl Popper

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" – Richard Feynman

"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."

Some advice from long ago for Warmists: "If ifs and ans were pots and pans,there'd be no room for tinkers". It's a nursery rhyme harking back to Middle English times when "an" could mean "if". Tinkers were semi-skilled itinerant workers who fixed holes and handles in pots and pans -- which were valuable household items for most of our history. Warmists are very big on "ifs", mays", "might" etc. But all sorts of things "may" happen, including global cooling

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)

"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate" -- William of Occam

"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

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

“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


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.

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.


Climate is just 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

Here's how that "97% consensus" figure was arrived at

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.

Greenie antisemitism

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 appear 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

Every green plant around us is made out of carbon dioxide that the plant has grabbed out of the atmosphere. That the plant can get its carbon from such a trace gas is one of the miracles of life. It admittedly uses the huge power of the sun to accomplish such a vast filtrative task but the fact that a dumb plant can harness the power of the sun so effectively is also a wonder. We live on a rather improbable planet. If a science fiction writer elsewhere in the universe described a world like ours he might well be ridiculed for making up such an implausible tale.

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 great and fraudulent scare about lead

Green/Left denial of the facts explained: "Rejection lies in this, that when the light came into the world men preferred darkness to light; preferred it, because their doings were evil. Anyone who acts shamefully hates the light, will not come into the light, for fear that his doings will be found out. Whereas the man whose life is true comes to the light" John 3:19-21 (Knox)

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

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)

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