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, 2014

Fun!  With kidney stones!

AS soon as I had put up yesterday my demolition of the idiotic Warmist use of the latest kidney stone study, I tweeted a short  summary of it, with link.  Marc Morano retweeted my tweet,  as he often does.  And that generated further tweets.

One tweeter (Dennis Krupski @Dkrupski) tweeted that, instead of saying I had demolished the kidney stone claims, I should have said that  I *pulverized* the claims. That was rather witty.  Lithotripsy is the first line of defence against kidney stones and pulverizing the stones is what lithotripsy hopefully does.

But a much more amusing tweet was by a Solon going by the name of "Thetracker" (@IdiotTracker).  He is evidently a Warmist so wanted to disrespect my kidney stone comments. And he did it in a classic Warmist way:  By abusing me and appealing to authority.  He made absolutely no mention of the scientific points I had made.  And even his abuse was not clever.  He accused me of writing from "Mom's basement".  Since I am a 71 year old academic with a couple of hundred published academic journal articles behind me, that little speculation was way off.

It is rather saddening how often Warmists talk about "The science" as supporting their ideas but rarely mention one single scientific fact.  Actual science clearly freaks them. Skeptics, by contrast, post scientific facts about the alleged warming all the time.

And the appeals to authority which Warmists substitute for scientific debate are logically problematic anyway.  The "argumentum ad verecundiam" (appeal to authority) is well known to logicians as one of the classic informal fallacies in logic.  It is quite simply illogical. That Warmists rely on it is therefore pathetic.  They are poor souls indeed. Their pernicious cult is founded on speculation only -- JR

Report on racism and elitism in Greenie organizations

A direct quote from the report concerned: "Recruitment for new staff frequently occurs through word-of-mouth and informal networks.   This makes it difficult for ethnic minorities, the working class, or anyone outside of traditional environmental networks to find out about job openings and apply for those jobs"

For those who  have the patience, particularly worth looking at is Chapter 8 where they interview long term members of the environmental movement. There are comments (page 144) from insiders who belie the myth of environmentalism as a "grass roots" movement and paint a picture of a well-funded, top-down astroturf "movement"

A new report, released today, shows that the staffs of mainstream green groups have been overrepresented with white men despite the groups’ intentions to be more colorful. One of its most damning findings is that “the dominant culture of the organizations is alienating to ethnic minorities, the poor, the LGBTQ community, and others outside the mainstream.”

The report, called “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations,” is billed as “the most comprehensive report on diversity in the environmental movement.” It was compiled by a working group of thought leaders on environment and race called Green 2.0, led by University of Michigan professor Dorceta Taylor. The report explores the history of tension between green activism and racial justice, and the many attempts at rapprochement.

From Earth Day 1970 until today, the report says, the majority of the people directing, staffing, and even volunteering at green groups have not only been white men, but they also hail from wealthier households with elite educational pedigrees. A 1972 study of 1,500 environmental volunteers nationwide showed that 98 percent of them were white and 59 percent held a college or graduate degree. Compare that to Taylor’s more recent demographic profiling of environmental orgs where, based on data collected on 166 mainstream organizations from 2004 to 2006, she found that minorities comprised just 14.6 percent of their staffs.

People of color make up 37 percent of the U.S. population today. Census figures predict that white Americans will no longer be the majority as early as 2043.

The report also found a gap between white environmental leaders’ desires and their actions when it comes to diversity. Of the near-300 people surveyed — from major environmental groups, foundations, and federal environmental agencies — 70 percent expressed interest in ideas to include more people of color and low-income in the workforce, but only 50 percent of environmental org and foundation members said they’d actually act on such ideas if proposed. For federal government agencies, it was 40 percent.

This is far from the first indictment of the environmental movement on this front, but the Green 2.0 group says it plans to hold the movement accountable. Its recommendations for finally moving the needle on this problem include creating diversity assessment plans with transparency for tracking progress, and increasing resources for diversity initiatives (one finding of the report is that not one green foundation has a diversity manager).


2007: A great year for growing bad legislation like the ethanol mandate

President Obama and his administration have enacted so many foolish and cost-increasing energy policies, it is easy to think that they are his purview alone. But in 2007, Republicans were just as guilty. Seeds were planted and a garden of bad legislation took root in a totally different energy environment. At the time, the growth seemed like something worthy of cultivation. However, what sprouted up more closely resembles a weed that needs to be yanked out.

Last week, I wrote about Australia’s carbon tax that was pulled on July 17. Its seeds were also planted in 2007, though not germinated until 2011. Prime Minister Abbott promised to eradicate the unpopular plant — and after nearly a year of struggle, he did.

2007 was also the year of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Around that time, more than half the states put in a mandate requiring increasing amounts of wind and solar power be incorporated into the energy mix the local utilities provided for their customers. It was expected that the RPS would become a much-admired garden with wind turbines blowing in the breeze and solar panels turning toward the sun like sunflowers.

Instead, the RPS has been an expensive folly. Angering the ratepayers, electricity prices have gone up. Groups, like the American Bird Conservancy, have filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because it allows bald and golden eagles to be chopped up by wind turbines without punishment to the operators. Industrial solar installations are in trouble due to the massive land use and literally frying birds that fly through the reflected sunlight. The mandates have created false markets and bred crony corruption that has the beneficiaries squawking when legislatures threaten to pull plans that have grown like kudzu. Yet, many states have now introduced legislation to trim, or uproot, the plans that sounded so good back in 2007. Though none has actually been yanked out, Ohio just put a pause on its RPS.

The RPS was state legislation; the RFS, federal.

Enacted, in 2005 and strengthened in 2007, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) — also known as the ethanol mandate — had true bipartisan support (something that is difficult to imagine in today’s political climate). Both Republicans and Democrats lauded the RFS as America’s solution to U.S. dependence on foreign oil. In signing the Energy Independence and Security Act that contained the RFS, President George W. Bush promised it would end our addiction to oil by growing our gas. Although it was passed by Congress with the best of intentions, it, too, has become a costly, wasteful, and politically-charged fiasco that has created an artificial market for corn-based ethanol and driven up both fuel and food prices while threatening to damage millions of families’ most prized and essential possessions: their cars and trucks.

Times have changed. People are no longer lining up to view the garden of renewables as they do to stroll through the spectacular floral displays at Las Vegas’ Bellagio — where teams of specialized staff maintain the stylized gardens. At the Bellagio, you can gaze gratis. America’s renewable garden is costly at a time when our citizens are forced to cut back on everything else.

Compared to 2007, several things are different today. The big one is the economy. We, as a country, were still living large in 2007. We were also still dependent on oil from overseas and our purchases were funding terrorism. Plus, it was, then, generally believed by many that our globe was warming — and it was our fault because of burning fossil fuels. When presented with the idea of growing our gasoline, even though it might cost more, it seemed worth it—after all, what was a few cents a gallon to thumb our nose at the Middle East and save the planet?

But this is a different day. A few cents a gallon matters now. Thanks to the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, America is rich with oil-and-gas resources — and we could be truly energy secure if there were greater access to federal lands. Since 2007, the U.S. has trimmed our CO2 emissions — while they’ve grown globally. The predicted warming (and accompanying catastrophes) hasn’t happened. Instead, it appears that the increased CO2 has generated record harvests — despite predictions to the contrary.

But the seeds planted in 2007 have grown false markets that need the mandates — both for electricity generation and transportation fuels — to stake them up, as they can’t survive on their own. Talk of yanking the mandates is likened to cutting down the once-a-year blossom of the Queen of the Night. “How could you?”  “You’ll kill jobs!”  Elected officials, such as Congressman Steve King (R-IA), who are normally fiscally conservative, vote to continue the boondoggles that benefit his state.

When the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed in 2007, it was assumed that gasoline demand would continue to rise indefinitely so larger volumes of ethanol could be blended into gasoline every year to create E10, a motor fuel comprised of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. Rather than requiring a percentage of ethanol, the law mandated a growing number of gallons of ethanol be used.

Instead, due to increased vehicle efficiencies and a bad economy, gasoline demand peaked in 2007 and began to decline, reducing the amount of gasoline consumed in the U.S. Still, the law requires refiners to blend ever-increasing volumes of ethanol into gasoline every year until 36 billion gallons of ethanol is blended into the nation’s fuel supplies by 2022.

It is the mandate that allowed the ethanol tax credit (a.k.a. subsidy) to expire at beginning of 2012. The growing mandates gave the corn farmers plenty of incentive.

In the modern era, with ethanol no longer needed due to America’s increasing oil production and the mandates’ unreasonable requirements, an unusual collection of opponents has risen up against ethanol: environmentalists and big oil, auto manufacturers and anti-hunger groups.

Much to everyone’s surprise, last November the EPA came out with a proposal to use its authority to make a practical decision to keep the mandate from increasing that resulted in a cut in the amount of biofuels that refiners would need to mix into their fuels — a decision that was required to be made by the end of November 2013. To date, in the seventh month of 2014, the EPA still has not released the 2014 mandates. Refiners are still waiting.

On Thursday, July 24, White House Advisor John Podesta met with select Democrat Senators including Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Al Franken (D-MN) to discuss the EPA’s November 2013 proposal to lower ethanol targets — which, according to reports, Franken called: “unacceptable.” The Hill quotes Franken as saying: “White House adviser John Podesta has indicated the administration plans to raise the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.” And, in another report, The Hill says: “That may mean Podesta’s signal — that the levels of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels will be increased in the EPA’s final rule — is as good as gold.” A decision from the EPA is expected to “be imminent.”

All of this amid new reports that ethanol has little if any effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change. A Congressional Budget Office report, released on June 26, states: “available evidensce suggests that replacing gasoline with corn ethanol has only limited potential for reducing emissions (and some studies indicate that it could increase emissions).”

It may have been Bush who planted the ethanol mandate, but it is the Obama administration that is fertilizing it and keeping it alive, when it should be yanked out by its roots.


Average Price of Electricity Climbs to All-Time Record

All the "environmental" burdens heaped on electricity producers are now hitting the consumer

For the first time ever, the average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity in the United States has broken through the 14-cent mark, climbing to a record 14.3 cents in June, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Before this June, the highest the average price for a KWH had ever gone was 13.7 cents, the level it hit in June, July, August and September of last year.

The 14.3-cents average price for a KWH recorded this June is about 4.4 percent higher than that previous record.

Average Price for a KWH of Electricity

Typically, the cost of electricity peaks in summer, declines in fall, and hits its lowest point of the year during winter. In each of the first six months of this year, the average price for a KWH hour of electricity has hit a record for that month. In June, it hit the all-time record.

Although the price for an average KWH hit its all-time record in June, the seasonally adjusted electricity price index--which measures changes in the price of electricity relative to a value of 100 and adjusts for seasonal fluctuations in price--hit its all-time high of 209.341 in March of this year, according to BLS. In June, it was slightly below that level, at 209.144.

Back in June 1984, the seasonally adjusted price index for electricity was 103.9—less than half what it was in June 2014.

Electricity prices have not always risen in the United States. The BLS has published an annual electricity price index dating back to 1913. It shows that from that year through 1947, the price of electricity in the United States generally trended down, with the index dropping from 45.5 in 1913 to 26.6 in 1947.

Electricity Price Index 1913-2013
In the two decades after that, electricity prices were relatively stable, with the index still only at 29.9 in 1967—an increase of 12.4 percent over two decades.

However, from 2003 to 2013, the annual electricity price index increased from 139.5 to 200.750, a climb of almost 44 percent.

So far, overall annual electricity production peaked in the United States in 2007. Per capita electricity production also peaked in 2007, based on calculations made using data published by the Energy Information Administration and the Census Bureau.


UN and its Auspices Bear Responsibility for Global Warming Hysteria

President Obama has made 2014 his “year of action” and plans to use his executive authority to implement various actions of his agenda that are too divisive for Congress to consider. John Podesta, as White House adviser, was brought on board late last year to help Obama find ways to use executive orders to unilaterally push climate policies.

The EPA has already released emissions limits for existing coal-fired plant.  Early last month the EPA rolled out new proposed rules that would require power plants to slash carbon emissions by 30 percent over the next 15 years as part of the Obama administration efforts to curb air pollution and fight climate change.

Recently (July 23) a coalition of top business groups expressed rising concerns over the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants and demanded more time to respond.  The same business group coalition is also eying a legal battle against the Obama administration if called for.  According to the EIA (Energy Information Administration), if power companies are further mandated to comply with the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) which limit mercury emissions and others pollutants, it is estimated that by 2040 this nation will have lost 15% of its coal-fired capacity.

Before drastic action is taken to curb CO2 emissions which would result in higher energy prices, the loss of jobs, certain electricity black outs, and an overall drag on this nation’s economy and productivity, shouldn’t both sides of the global warming argument be heard?  Given a fair and balanced approach, those Americans who accept Global Warming as settled science might not be so willing to go along with alarmists who are prepared to ruin the economy, sacrifice jobs, and our standard of living all for the sake of a crusade being promoted and conducted by politicians and world leaders seeking to tell everyone else how to live.

Undoubtedly Al Gore has done much to promote alarm and concern that catastrophic Global Warming is taking place through his 2006 Academy Award winning documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth.

UN as a Promoter of One World Government through social engineering

Understanding how the issue of Climate Change originated and why green energy vs. carbon-produced energy sources is now being pushed by nations all over the world (including the U.S.), requires some historical knowledge.  Social engineering has been the orchestrated role of the progressive-oriented United Nations since its founding in 1945, when 50 nations and several non-governmental organizations signed the U.N. Charter.  Today almost every fully recognized independent states are member states in the U.N.  If accepted for U.N. membership, member states must accept all obligations outlined in the Charter and be willing to carry out any action to satisfy those obligations.

An attempt at U.N. social engineering took place this week on Tuesday, July 22nd, when the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee began discussion of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(CPRD).  Should the Senate approve the UN CPRD treaty, it could threaten U.S. sovereignty and parental rights, putting this nation under international law when it comes to parenting our special needs children by giving the U.N. discretion over healthcare and education decisions for special needs kids.   Our nation already has laws to protect Americans with disabilities!

UN’s Rio+20 conference:  a blueprint for sustainable development worldwide, with emphasis on the environment

Operating within the U.N. is the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established in 1972, with its mandate “to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.”  This agency has become the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, that promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimensions of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and that serves as the authoritative advocate for the global environment.

Twenty years after the establishment of the UNEP, the UN Climate Change crusade began in earnest.  Initiated at the UN Rio+20 Conference (also known as the “Earth Summit”) held from June 3-14, 1992, the Conference themes were that of a green economy in the context of an institutional framework for “sustainable development” to eradicate poverty.  The two-week 1992 UN Earth Summit produced Agenda 21, adopted as a climax to a process that had begun in 1989 through negotiations among all U.N Member States.  Its intent was to serve as a wide-ranging blueprint for action to achieve sustainable development worldwide.  As written, Agenda 21 was a  Declaration on Environment and Development, the Statement of Forest Principles, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

172 governments participated in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, 108 as heads of State of Government.  George H. Bush represented the U.S.  The UN Rio+20 “Earth Summit” set the agenda for further UN conferences, at which time the emphasis continued on the need for “environmentally sustainable development” — that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Subsequent U.N. Conferences included those held Copenhagen (2009), Cancun (2010), and Durbin (2011).

Sustainable government in the here and now

An example of sustainable development presently being enacted throughout the world under the guise of saving the planet from global warming, was brought home in a recent article titled, “Agenda 21:  Home Sweet Home in Freight Shipping Containers,” written by senior columnist for Canada Free Press, Ileana Johnson, and best-selling author of UN Agenda 21:  Environmental Piracy.  Ileana Johnson relates how damaged shipping containers are now being tuned into housing units in this nation and throughout the world

Writes Ileana Johnson:  These tiny spaces are expensive but they give the occupants a false sense of saving money and the planet by not using a car, walking or biking everywhere, just like the zoning environmentalists have been pushing for a while now, high density, and high rise living, five minutes from work, school, shopping, and play while the metro is nearby. Absolute heaven if you want to live like a rat in an 8-by-40-foot box! Who would not enjoy living in “lovingly repurposed steel husks” that have been previously sloshing across oceans.

So it is that the progressive UN-inspired social engineering projects of Sustainable Urbanism, Sustainable Development, and Equitable Communities are now being implemented around the world.  Having been adopted  at the UN’s Rio+20, the UN’s social engineering projects are not just aimed at destroying national sovereignty, language, and cultural identity.  Social engineering, as being imposed on entire neighborhoods, is resulting in a massive replacement of rural areas and suburban sprawl with high density, high rise urban dwellings, all in the name of green environmentalism as a way of saving the planet from the destruction of manufactured man-made global warming/climate change.

UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

In tandem with the UN Conferences, which have colored the thinking of world leaders since 1992 and have led them to become advocates of Global Warming, is the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientificintergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments.  So far there have been five reports.  All of the IPCC reports assess scientific information relevant to:

1.  Human-induced climate change.

2.  The impacts of human-induced climate change.’

3.  Options for adaptation and mitigation.

The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (WGII AR5) was the product of this year’s March 25-29 meeting in Yokohama, Japan. As with the other four assessment reports, the consequences of Global Warming were many and required the issuance of a thirty-two page report for policymakers!  The AR5 report reads like a bad novel with consequence after consequence stated unless human induced climate change is addressed without delay.

Evaluatng IPCC scientists

John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama, describes the IPCC as a framework around which hundreds of scientists and other participants are organized to mine the panoply of climate change literature to produce a synthesis of the most important land relevant findings.  These finding are published every few years to help policymakers keep tabs on where the participants chosen for the IPCC believe the Earth’s climate has been, where it is going, and what might be done to adapt to and or even adjust the predicted outcome.

Although Christy refers to most IPCC participants as scientists who bring an aura of objectivity to the task, he does note two drawbacks which limit the objectivity of IPCC scientists:

1. IPCC is a political process to the extent that governments are involved.  Lead Authors are nominated by their own governments.

2. Scientists are mere mortals looking at a system so complex that it’s impossible to predict the future state even five day ahead.  It doesn’t help that it’s tempting among scientists as a group to succumb to group-think and the herd-instinct (now formally called the “informational cascade.”  Scientists like to be the “ones who know” and not thought of as “ones who do not know.

As far as process is concerned, IPCC scientist trust computer simulations more than actual facts and actual measurements.  Many times there are not exact values for the coefficients in computer modes.  There are only ranges of potential values.  By moving a bunch of these parameters to one side or the other, a scientist of computer modeler can usually get very different results — ones that are favorable to the individual or institution doing the study which, in turn, insures a continuance of government funding.

Moore co-founded the environmental activist group Greenpeace as a PhD student in ecology in 1971, but left Greenpeace in 1986 after the group became more interested in “politics” than science.   Patrick Moore has angered environmentalist groups after saying climate change is “not caused by humans” and there is “no scientific proof” to back global warming alarmism.

On February 28, 2014, Moore told a US Senate Committee:  “There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years,”  “If there were such a proof, it would be written down for all to see.  No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists.”

Patrick Moore is critical of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for claiming “it is extremely likely” that human activity is the “dominant cause” for global warning, noting that “extremely likely” is not a scientific term.

Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist is Moore’s firsthand account of his many year as an ultimate Greenpeace insider.


Australia: Stopping farmers from farming leads to bloodshed

This is ultimately traceable to Greenie-inspired land use restrictions

An elderly man accused of murdering an Environment and Heritage officer near Moree in north-western NSW has been refused bail.

Ian Robert Turnbull, 79, appeared in Moree Local Court on Wednesday charged with murdering father-of-two Glendon Turner, 51, of Tamworth, on Tuesday.

The court was told Mr Turnbull fired a number of shots at Mr Turner before a bullet struck the victim in the back, fatally injuring him.

Mr Turner had been serving a notice about 5.40pm on Tuesday near Talga Lane at Croppa Creek, relating to an inspection of a property after reports of illegal land clearing in the area.

His family said on Wednesday they would miss him greatly. Mr Turner, who was born near Port Macquarie, was married and had two children - Alexandra, 10, and Jack, 9.

"His passing comes at a time when his dreams of the farm and family, which he had planned and lovingly built together with Alison, were coming to fruition," a statement from the family said.

"Glen was an accomplished pianist, a gourmet enthusiast and cook, and appreciated a fine wine ... He always gravitated to the outdoor life and particularly loved taking his kids to the beach, whenever he returned to Port Macquarie - as well as enjoying his quiet time at home with the family and working together with Alison on their property."

Moree Plains Shire mayor Katrina Humphries said frustration over environmental issues around the Moree area had been so great in recent years that she had feared that it would erupt in violence, but that it "shouldn't get to this".

During the bail hearing, the court heard Mr Turnbull had been in a long running dispute with the Office of Environment and Heritage over illegal land clearing in the Croppa Creek area.

He was charged with illegally clearing native vegetation between November 2011 and January 2012 and pleaded guilty in the Land and Environment Court.

The prosecutor, the Director-General of the Office of Environment and Heritage, said Mr Turnbull used a bulldozer to clear 421 hectares of the property called "Colorado", owned by his son Grant Wesley Turnbull, and 73 hectares of the adjacent property, called "Strathdoon",  owned by his grandson Corey Ian Turnbull.

After contracts were exchanged but before the sales settled, Mr Turnbull and another unnamed man felled 2708 trees on Colorado and 694 trees on Strathdoon. Trees were pushed over and formed into piles and set alight. The family then raked out the ash heaps, ploughed the cleared land, applied herbicides to kill any emerging vegetation and sowed commercial crops of wheat and barley.

Mr Turnbull, who was arrested late on Tuesday night, appeared distraught and emotional when he was led into the dock on Wednesday.

Magistrate Darryl Pearce said there was an unacceptable risk that could not be mitigated by proposed bail conditions and the serious nature of the allegations meant imprisonment would be likely if Mr Turnbull was convicted.

Mr Turnbull will remain in custody until the case returns to court on August 5.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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30 July, 2014

Kidney stone nonsense demolished

Warmists are chortling over a recent report that associated increased kidney stones with higher temperatures.  A close reading of the  press release that announced the findings is interesting, however.  First note the following excerpt:

"A painful condition that brings half a million patients a year to U.S. emergency rooms, kidney stones have increased markedly over the world in the past three decades. While stones remain more common in adults, the numbers of children developing kidney stones have climbed at a dramatically high rate over the last 25 years. The factors causing the increase in kidney stones are currently unknown, but may be influenced by changes in diet and fluid intake. When stones do not pass on their own, surgery may be necessary."

The study team also found that very low outdoor temperatures increased the risk of kidney stones in three cities: Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia. The authors suggest that as frigid weather keeps people indoors more, higher indoor temperatures, changes in diet and decreased physical activity may raise their risk of kidney stones.

Then look at the international prevalence of stones  -- in Table 1.  We find that the USA in 1988-1994 had a kidney stone prevalence of 5.2% whereas Italy has a prevalence of 1.72% in 1993-1994.  We also find that Spain had an incidence of 2.0% in 1987 and a prevalence of 10.0% in 1991.

So what is going on?  It's hard to know where to start.  But let me draw attention to the statements highlighted in red.  They first admit that they DON'T know what causes stones.  Climate  change is simply a speculation.  Then they admit that LOW temperatures go with more stones in some cities.  Global warming does not affect Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia??  It's not very global in that case is it?

And, going to the statistics, why should the USA have a prevalence that is 3 times higher than Italy?  Is the USA 3 times warmer than Italy?  Obviously not.  And, finally, the Spanish statistics suggest that the whole thing is basically a mystery.  So the careful scientific conclusion by the authors that "The factors causing the increase in kidney stones are currently unknown" is well justified.  The Warmists have however ignored that scientific conclusion and hopped on to the speculations attached to it. -- JR


Increasing amounts of water in the upper troposphere are a direct result of human activity
Just more computer modelling.  You can get any conclusion you want with modelling.  The paper is "Upper-tropospheric moistening in response to anthropogenic warming"

Rising levels of water vapour high above the Earth are likely to intensify the effects of global warming in coming decades, say scientists.

The increasing amounts of water in the upper troposphere are a direct result of human activity, research suggests.

Computer simulations predict that as burning fossil fuels warms the climate, concentrations of water vapour will rise.

The moistening of the atmosphere in turn absorbs more heat and raises the Earth’s temperature further.

To investigate these effects scientists measured levels of water vapour in the upper troposphere, a region three to seven miles above the Earth’s surface.

Their findings were compared with climate model predictions of water circulation between the ocean and atmosphere.

The results showed that increasing levels of atmospheric water vapour could not be explained by natural forces such as volcanoes or changes in solar activity.

But they did appear to be linked to emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

Lead scientist Professor Brian Soden, from the University of Miami, US, said: 'The study is the first to confirm that human activities have increased water vapour in the upper troposphere.'

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Climate Alarmists Never Quit!

By Alan Caruba

In the same way Americans are discovering that the Cold War that was waged from the end of World War Two until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 is not over, Americans continue to be subjected to the endless, massive, global campaign to foist the hoax of global warming--now called climate change—on everyone.

The campaign’s purpose to convince everyone that it is humans, not the sun, oceans, and other natural phenomenon, and that requires abandoning fossil fuels in favor of “renewable” wind and solar energy.

“It is not surprising that climate alarmists, who desire above all else blind allegiance to their cause, would demand all school teachers toe the ‘official party line’ and quash any dissent on the subject of man-made global warming in their classroom,” says Craig Rucker, the Executive Director of co-founder of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT). “What is absurd is that any teacher or free-thinking person for that matter would listen to them.”

These days when I am challenged regarding my views about global warming, climate change or energy I send the individual to  and, two constantly updated websites filled with links to information on these topics. Both are maintained by CFACT.

It’s not just our classrooms where Green indoctrination goes on. It is also our news media that continue to distort every weather event to advance the hoax. Guiding and feeding them is a massive complex of organizations led by the United Nations—the International Panel on Climate Change—that maintains the hoax to frighten people worldwide in order to achieve “one world order.”

On September 23, heads of state, including President Obama, will gather in New York City for what the Sierra Club calls “a historic summit on climate change. With our future on the line, we will take a weekend and use it to bend the course of history” to save the world from “the ravages of climate change.” This is absurd. Suggesting that humans can alter the climate in any way defies centuries of proof they do not.

One of the leading Leftist organizations, the Center for American Progress, focused on the July 14 Major Economics Forum in Paris, offered four items for its agenda. Claiming that “the Arctic is warming two times faster than any other region on earth”, they wanted policy changes based on this falsehood. They blamed climate change for “global poverty” and wanted further reductions in so-called greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. The enemy, as far as they were concerned was energy use.

Mary Hutzler, a senior research fellow of the Institute for Energy Research, testified before a July 22nd meeting of the Senate Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, that due to Europe’s green energy (wind and solar) policies, industrial electricity prices are two-to-five times higher than in the U.S. and that, by 2020, 1.4 million European households will be added to those experiencing energy poverty.

There are lessons to be learned, for example, from Spain’s investment in wind energy that caused the loss of four jobs for the electricity it produced and 13 jobs for every megawatt of solar energy. In Germany, the cost of electricity is three times higher than average U.S. residential prices. Little wonder that European nations are now slashing wind and solar programs.

Billions Wasted to Combat Global Warming

In the U.S., the Obama administration used its “stimulus” to fund Solyndra—$500 million dollars—and fifty other Green energy projects that have failed or are on their way to failure. Undeterred with this appalling record, on July 3 the Energy Department announced $4 billion for “projects that fight global warming.”

But there is no global warming. The Earth has been in a cooling cycle for seventeen years and it shows no indication of ending anytime soon. This is the same administration that has waged a war on coal, forcing the closure of many plants that produced electricity efficiently and affordably, and had throughout the last century.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2014 weather highlights showed that, from January to June, the temperature in the U.S. has risen by a miniscule 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit compared with the average temperature for the 20th century. NOAA also noted that recorded temperatures for the first half of 2014 are the coldest since 1993 when the cooling cycle began. The exception to this has been California.

Brainwashed for decades about global warming, 20% of likely voters, according to a July Rasmussen poll, still believe that global warming is not over, colder weather or not, 17% were not sure, but fully 63% disagreed!

The results of a Pew Research Center poll in June revealed that 35% of Americans say there is not enough solid evidence to suggest mankind is warming the Earth while another 18% says the world has warmed due to “natural patterns”, not human activity. Pew found that liberals remain convinced that humans are to blame, but the bottom line is that 53% disputed the President’s claims.

That means that a growing number of Americans are now skeptics.

In the months to come we will see marches and meetings intended to further the global warming lies. The good news is that fewer Americans are being influenced by such efforts.


Venezuela climate summit comes to far-Left conclusions

A UN-backed conference in Venezuela has ended with a declaration to scrap carbon markets and reject the green economy.

The Margarita Declaration was issued at the end of a four-day meeting of around 130 green activist groups, which the Venezuelan government hosted in order to raise the volume of civil society demands in UN discussions on climate change.

“The structural causes of climate change are linked to the current capitalist hegemonic system,” the final declaration said. “To combat climate change it is necessary to change the system.”

The declaration will be handed to environment ministers when they meet ahead of the UN’s main round of talks in Lima this year.

The meeting, called the Social Pre-COP, is the first time that civil society has been invited to participate with the UN at this scale at international climate talks.

Groups who participated in the meeting include WWF, CAN International, Third World Network and Christian Aid.

Venezuela said the purpose of the meeting is to “set the basis of an alliance between peoples and governments”.

While it is unclear who signed the declaration, it contrasts with the views of many national governments, which see the transition to a green economy as underpinning efforts to tackle climate change.

‘False solution’

The declaration also conflicts with the UN’s own schemes to tackle climate change.

It says carbon markets are a “false solution” to the problem of climate change and brands a UN-backed forest conservation scheme “dangerous and unethical”.

The forests programme, called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD), was first introduced into UN proceedings in 2005 at the request of the governments of Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica.

Under this mechanism, rich countries pay developing nations to preserve their forests, removing some of the financial incentive to chop them down.

Deforestation is a significant contributor to climate change as it releases the carbon that is stored in trees.

Similarly, the UN has set up its own carbon market, called the Clean Development Mechanism, which allows developed countries to pay for projects that will reduce the carbon footprint of poor countries.

The latest set of proposals for a global climate treaty recently released UN officials explicitly includes references to market-based solutions aimed at tackling environmental degradation and raising investment capital.

Maria de Pilar García-Guadilla, a professor at the Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela, said that there was an underlying assumption in the declaration that capitalism was the cause of climate change – a position maintained by the Venezuelan government in its own development plan – but that this was a “fallacy”.

“Venezuela relies heavily on the use of hydrocarbons, or the extractive economies, to support their anti-neoliberal socialist policies. The extractive economy has a severe negative social and environmental impacts in the indigenous communities and in the most biodiverse areas,” she said.

She added that the Margarita Declaration is “very discursive and the real issues are not inside.”

Mixed opinions

Objections to the concept of a “green economy”, which encourages green growth through carbon markets and clean energy investments, prompted a walkout at the Rio+20 summit in 2012.

Some developing countries are concerned that this model could put them at a commercial disadvantage, and that rich countries should instead focus on how to transfer cash and sustainable technologies to poorer nations.

Venezuela, a staunchly socialist government, has long opposed the “green economy” concept, alongside other Latin American countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.

But the opinions of civil society are more mixed. CAN International, a coalition of green NGOs which was present at the Social Pre-COP, said that REDD is “key to emissions reductions” in the manifesto that it released before the UN’s last climate conference, in Warsaw last year.

One participant at last week’s meeting told RTCC on condition of anonymity that: “In terms of being a neutral observer, [the Venezuelan government] do have their views and they definitely have their ways”.

He added that most of the Venezuelan groups present at the meeting were supportive of the government’s position, in contrast to the 34 Venezuelan NGOs who rejected their invitation to the gathering, due to concerns that it would provide an opportunity for the government to push their socialist agenda.

“That made Venezuela not need to actively push for things, letting the movements propose their views instead,” he said.


GMO Scare Mongering -- more from Rich Kozlovich

Mike Adams, who publishes Natural News and styles himself as the Health Ranger recently posted an article entitled, The Agricultural Holocaust explained: the 10 worst ways GMOs threaten humanity and our natural world on July 27, 2014.

He claims "genetically modified organisms (GMOs) a serious threat to humanity and the environment? The reasons span the realms of science, social justice, economics and the environment, and once you understand this, you'll readily understand why so many environmentalists, humanitarians, responsible scientists and social justice advocates are strongly opposed to GMOs", and lists ten reasons why?

His second claim is - GMOs have never been safety tested for human consumption, and goes on to say;

"Although GMO advocates ridiculously claim GMOs have been "proven safe in thousands of studies," what they don't tell you is that those were all short-term studies on animals, not humans.

In fact, GMOs have never been shown to be safe for long-term human consumption. What happens when a child eats GMOs for two decades? Does it substantially increase their risk of cancer, diabetes, kidney failure or future Alzheimer's? Nobody knows, exactly, because the tests haven't been done.

As often happens with other chemicals, GMOs are simply let loose into the world with an attitude of "let's see what happens!"

Although I’ve largely addressed this in my previous post, I will add this. Nothing can be proven safe; it’s called proving a negative. Scientifically impossible! You can only prove what things do, not what they don’t do. It’s like demanding someone “prove” they’re “not” cheating on their spouse. Can’t be done! And these people know this, making it another lie of omission.

Since these products have been used for decades, and there’s no indication that GMO’s cause anything, including “cancer, diabetes, kidney failure or future Alzheimer's” why does he say it? Because speculation is easy! He might just as well make the claim – “we don’t know if GMO’s causes AIDS!”

You can make any accusation and frame it in the form of a question and not have to prove anything one way or another. But the thought is planted in people’s minds there’s something nefarious about GMO’s, and the companies producing them. This has been the scare tactic activists have been using going back to Silent Spring and the mother of junk science, Rachel Carson.

Dr. Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Ph.D. notes that there are seven steps to this process and usually follow this pattern:

1.      Create a "scientific" study that predicts a public health disaster
2.      Release the study to the media, before scientists can review it
3.      Generate an intense emotional public reaction
4.      Develop a government-enforced solution
5.      Intimidate Congress into passing it into law
6.      Coerce manufacturers to stop making the product
7.      Bully users to replace it, or obliterate it

One more thing that needs to be addressed and that’s exactly what pesticide is he talking about? Since GMO Bt cotton is his theme later in his article, we need to see what the EPA thinks:

"Bt products are found to be safe for use in the environment and with mammals. The EPA (environmental protection agency) has not found any human health hazards related to using Bt. In fact the EPA has found Bt safe enough that it has exempted Bt from food residue tolerances, groundwater restrictions, endangered species labeling and special review requirements. Bt is often used near lakes, rivers and dwellings, and has no known effect on wildlife such as mammals, birds, and fish.

Humans exposed orally to 1000 mg/day for 3-5 days of Bt have showed no ill effects. Many tests have been conducted on test animals using different types of exposures. The results of the tests showed that the use of Bt causes few if any negative effects. Bt does not persist in the digestive systems of mammals.

Bt is found to be an eye irritant on test rabbits. There is very slight irritation from inhalation in test animals which may be caused by the physical rather than the biological properties of the Bt formulation tested.

Bt has not been shown to have any chronic toxicity or any carcinogenic effects. There are also no indication that Bt causes reproductive effects or birth defects in mammals.

Bt breaks down readily in the environment. Because of this Bt poses no threat to groundwater. Bt also breaks down under the ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun."

We have to get past this outrageous scare mongering and realize they're big argument is that GMO's are "unnatural" because of how the genes are implanted. That's completely the wrong take. Our only concern should be what the genes are supposed to do, not how they got there. More to come.


2 Charts Show Why Wind Power Won't Solve the Carbon Problem

When discussing electricity, the words "carbon dioxide" invariably come into play. The utility industry's use of carbon based fuels is responsible for roughly 40% of the generation of this greenhouse gas domestically. Alternative power options are often held up as the solution to this problem. But wind turbines are a great example of why this isn't true—and these two graphs show why.

Getting into wind

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL  ) has made a big commitment to wind power. This mid-western utility got just 3% of its power from wind in 2005, which happens to be the backdated starting date for CO2 emission regulations being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By 2020, however, wind is projected to make up 22% of the company's generation.

That's a huge increase, with coal taking most of the hit. However, even after the rapid wind power growth coal will still account for 43% of Xcel Energy's power pie. Natural gas, which is cleaner than coal but still emits carbon dioxide, and nuclear power will throw in another 30%. And the Texas experience with wind power shows why:

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), "At 8:48 p.m. on March 26, wind generation on the electric grid covering most of the state of Texas reached a new instantaneous peak output of 10,296 megawatts (MW). At that moment, wind supplied almost 29% of total electricity load." While that's impressive, note the use of the word "instantaneous" as you look at the graph above.

The power generated by wind turbines is anything but constant. It juts up and down with often severe moves. For example, before and after hitting that peak, wind turbines in Texas were only producing around 2,000 MW of power. It's not because someone in Texas turned the turbines off, it's because the wind stopped blowing. That's why Xcel Energy isn't giving up on the base-load trio of coal, gas, and nuclear.

I have the power!

This trio is controlled by the utility and can be run as hard as needed. Nuclear, for example, is usually run between 80% and 100% of capacity. Coal and natural gas tend to run at lower levels, but could easily be pushed higher if needed. The important thing is that how hard these power sources are worked is within the control of the utility.

In fact, the next graphic shows how important the interplay between nature-controlled wind and man-controlled power is. Look at the lines for wind and coal. When wind is up, coal is down. And when wind is down, coal is up. The same dynamic is true for natural gas.

This isn't a fluke -- it's because utilities like Excel need to have a reliable power source to offset the peaks and valleys of an inherently unreliable fuel source. It's the same reason why Southern Company (NYSE: SO  ) is building 1.5 gigawatts of nuclear and coal plants right now. It wants to maintain its flexibility.

For example, in 2020, the company expects to have the option to generate as much as 50% of its power from coal or gas, whichever is cheaper. Nuclear, meanwhile, is expected to run at a steady state of around 18%. Renewables? Well, they are just small slice of the pie at 8% of total capacity in 2020.

Note, however, that renewable sources provided 4% of Southern Company's power last year, despite coming in at 6% of the utility's total capacity. And the 4% is elevated by the fact that hydro, which tends to run at high capacity rates, is a big part of the mix. Despite investing in solar and wind, Southern Company isn't willing to give up the control offered by natural gas, coal, and nuclear power plants.

Good and bad

Renewable power like wind turbines is a wonderful thing. However, it isn't an answer to the CO2 problem. The generation profiles of Xcel energy and Southern Company prove this out. Expect the wind to become an increasingly important utility player, but don't expect it to kill coal, gas, or nuclear anytime soon.

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29 July, 2014

Climate change and air pollution will lead to famine by 2050, study claims

Garbage predictions like this are common, even though they run against all plant science.  To put it in simple language, plants LIKE warmth and they REALLY like CO2.  If there ever is global warming, plantlife, including crops, will boom!  I grew up in the tropics, which are really warm, and I know how plantlife flourishes there.   Creepers almost reach out and grab you, for instance.  And glasshouse farmers deliberately pump up the CO2 content in their glasshouses to more than double the general atmospheric level.  CO2 is plant food. 

And warming should open up more of Canada to agriculture, and Canada is already a major producer of grain crops.  Give Canadian farmers more usable land to work with and Canada will be a cornucopia. 

And there is an area in Australia, Cape York peninsula, that is about the size of Britain but which produces no food crops at the moment because most crops are usually in glut worldwide.  But the rain there is adequate and Chinese farmers in the goldrush days grew all sorts there

The world is expected to need 50 per cent more food by 2050, with around four billion more mouths to feed.

But this food could soon be in short supply due to increasing temperatures and ozone pollution, according to a U.S. study.

As a result, rates of malnourishment in the developing world could increase from the current 18 per cent to 27 per cent within the next four decades.

Previous research has shown that both higher temperatures and ozone pollution can damage plants and reduce crop yields, but until now, nobody has looked at these together.

And while rising temperatures are widely studied, the impact of air quality on crops is less recognised, the study's authors claim.

The latest research looked in detail at how both these changes affect global production of four leading food crops - rice, wheat, corn, and soy.

These crops currently account for more than half the calories humans consume worldwide.

It predicts that effects will vary considerably from region to region, and that some of the crops are much more strongly affected by one or the other of the factors.

For example, wheat is very sensitive to ozone exposure, while corn is much more adversely affected by heat.

A separate study by the the IPCC warned that as well as lack of food supply, climate change would cause storm surges, flooding and heatwaves in the coming decades.

In the U.S, tougher air-quality regulations are expected to lead to a sharp decline in ozone pollution, mitigating its impact on crops.

But in other regions, the outcome 'will depend on domestic air-pollution policies,' Professor Heald said. 'An air-quality cleanup would improve crop yields.'

Overall, with all other factors being equal, warming may reduce crop yields globally by about 10 per cent by 2050, the study found.

The research was carried out by Colette Heald, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at MIT, former CEE postdoc Amos Tai, and Maria van Martin at Colorado State University.

Ozone pollution can be tricky to identify, Professor Heald says, because its damage can resemble other plant illnesses, producing flecks on leaves and discoloration.

And while heat and ozone can each damage plants independently, the factors also interact.

For example, warmer temperatures significantly increase production of ozone from the reactions, in sunlight, of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides.

Because of these interactions, the team found that 46 per cent of damage to soybean crops that had previously been attributed to heat is actually caused by increased ozone.

Under some scenarios, the researchers found that pollution-control measures could make a major dent in the expected crop reductions following climate change.

For example, while global food production was projected to fall by 15 per cent under one scenario, larger emissions decreases projected in an another scenario reduce that drop to nine per cent.

Agricultural production is 'very sensitive to ozone pollution,' Professor Heald says, adding that these findings 'show how important it is to think about the agricultural implications of air-quality regulations.

‘Ozone is something that we understand the causes of, and the steps that need to be taken to improve air quality.'

Earlier this year, the IPCC warned that as well as lack of food supply, climate change would cause storm surges, flooding and heatwaves in the coming decades.

It argued that rising temperatures will exacerbate poverty and damage land and marine species.

It also claimed that the world is in ‘an era of man-made climate change’ and has already seen impacts of global warming on every continent and across the oceans.

And experts warned that in many cases, people are ill-prepared to cope with the risks of a changing climate.


New paper finds 'high correlation between solar activity and Earth's temperature over centuries'

The article is in Chinese but there is an English abstract. On the longer time scales, the correlations are quite high.  The Warmist dismissal of solar influence is thus absurd

Periodicities of solar activity and the surface temperature variation of the Earth and their correlations

By ZHAO XinHua  & FENG XueShang


Based on the well-calibrated systematiCmeasurements of sunspot numbers, the reconstructed data of the total solar irradiance (TSI), and the observed anomalies of the Earth’s averaged surface temperature (global, ocean, land), this paper investigates the periodicities of both solar activity and the Earth’s temperature variation as well as their correlations on the time scale of centuries using the wavelet and cross correlation analysis techniques. The main results are as follows. (1) Solar activities (including sunspot number and TSI) have four major periodic components higher than the 95% significance level of white noise during the period of interest, i.e. 11-year period, 50-year period, 100-year period, and 200-year period. The global temperature anomalies of the Earth have only one major periodic component of 64.3-year period, which is close to the 50-year cycle of solar activity. (2) Significant resonant periodicities between solar activity and the Earth’s temperature are focused on the 22- and 50-year period. (3) Correlations between solar activity and the surface temperature of the Earth on the long time scales are higher than those on the short time scales. As far as the sunspot number is concerned, its correlation coefficients to the Earth temperature are 0.31-0.35 on the yearly scale, 0.58-0.70 on the 11-year running mean scale, and 0.64-0.78 on the 22-year running mean scale. TSI has stronger correlations to the Earth temperature than sunspot number. (4) During the past 100 years, solar activities display a clear increasing tendency that corresponds to the global warming of the Earth (including land and ocean) very well. Particularly, the ocean temperature has a slightly higher correlation to solar activity than the land temperature. All these demonstrate that solar activity has a non-negligible forcing on the temperature change of the Earth on the time scale of centuries.


Developers To Clear 850,000 Sq M Of Virgin Forests On UNESCO Nature Reserve To Make Way For 700-Foot Turbines

The days of an open welcome to “environmentally-friendly” wind parks in Germany are over.

When the turbines were small-scale and novel, people were generally open to them. But now that they have reached skyscraper dimensions, have proven to be unsightly, and have demonstrated poor performance, they are not welcome anymore.

Palantinate Forest

German developers plan to install 60 wind turbines, each 700-foot tall, in one of Central Europe’s last remaining untouched regions, the Palantinate Forest, a UN designated natural monument.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the picturesque southwest German region of Palatinate, where the online Die Welt here reports on the mounting fierce opposition that wind turbine developers are facing. The developers have their sights aimed at the hilltops of Germany’s fairy-tale-like Palatinate forest…an area that has been designated by UNESCO as a natural treasure and biosphere reserve. Here they hope to install wind parks with skyscraper-dimensioned turbines. Die Welt writes of the area:

It was the first cross-border natural reservation of this type in all of Europe because it also includes the Alsatian mountain range. Not very many Germans know that it is the largest uninterrupted landscape in Central Europe. Whoever wishes to see it, had better hurry up.”

850,000 sq m of virgin forest to be cleared

According to Die Welt, hungry wind park developers with deep pockets plan to install 60 wind turbines, each 209 meters (700 feet) tall in the area. Unsurprisingly this looming large-scale green industrialization of this particularly idyllic landscape has become too much to take, even for the most avid climate activist groups. Die Welt writes that for the first time all ten local environmental groups have closed ranks against the project, says Bernd Wallner of the Pfälzerwald-Verein (Palantinate Association). Opponents are rallying, calling it a matter of “homeland defense”.

Die Welt provides the technical details of the monster-size turbines: Each blade is 60 meters long and they will need elaborate roads to allow their transport to the site where they are to be installed. Each turbine will require 3000 tonnes of concrete and 100 tonnes of steel. In total 200,000 tonnes of concrete and 130,000 cubic meters of gravel will have to be hauled in by 60,000 trips by heavy cargo vehicles, which will involve the burning of 600,000 liters of diesel fuel and the clearing of 850,000 square meters of virgin forest.

Like putting turbines on Ayer’s Rock!

Environmentalists are fuming. Opponents accuse the wind turbine developers and the local and state authorities of covering up the environmental costs and impacts of the project and misleading the public. Critics say the senselessness of the project is tantamount to putting wind turbines on Ayers Rock.

Unrealistic profit projections used to “bait the public”

Opponents also accuse the wind park developers of putting out overly optimistic figures for expected wind turbine performance in order to bait the public. Die Welt writes:

Ernst Gerber believes the promises of profitability, with which investors and local representatives are being baited, are estimates from a naïve milkmaid: ‘Despite the subsidies, things are moving towards the lower limits of profitability.’”

Die Welt itself characterizes the promise of profitability made by the wind park developers as “rotten”, and that the region is one that is “low in wind”.

Threat to wildlife…violates the law

The wind park opponents also say that the monster turbines are a threat to wildlife and birds. What’s more, turbine critic Rainer Becker thinks they would violate the law, “The construction of the wind parks are clearly in violation of the existing laws and the international species protection act“.

Other opponents claim that big business and power companies in Luxemburg are ramming the projects through and ignoring the wishes of the local inhabitants, Die Welt writes.


Wind and solar power are even more expensive than is commonly thought

SUBSIDIES for renewable energy are one of the most contested areas of public policy. Billions are spent nursing the infant solar- and wind-power industries in the hope that they will one day undercut fossil fuels and drastically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being put into the atmosphere. The idea seems to be working. Photovoltaic panels have halved in price since 2008 and the capital cost of a solar-power plant—of which panels account for slightly under half—fell by 22% in 2010-13. In a few sunny places, solar power is providing electricity to the grid as cheaply as conventional coal- or gas-fired power plants.

But whereas the cost of a solar panel is easy to calculate, the cost of electricity is harder to assess. It depends not only on the fuel used, but also on the cost of capital (power plants take years to build and last for decades), how much of the time a plant operates, and whether it generates power at times of peak demand. To take account of all this, economists use “levelised costs”—the net present value of all costs (capital and operating) of a generating unit over its life cycle, divided by the number of megawatt-hours of electricity it is expected to supply.

The trouble, as Paul Joskow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has pointed out, is that levelised costs do not take account of the costs of intermittency.* Wind power is not generated on a calm day, nor solar power at night, so conventional power plants must be kept on standby—but are not included in the levelised cost of renewables. Electricity demand also varies during the day in ways that the supply from wind and solar generation may not match, so even if renewable forms of energy have the same levelised cost as conventional ones, the value of the power they produce may be lower. In short, levelised costs are poor at comparing different forms of power generation.

To get around that problem Charles Frank of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, uses a cost-benefit analysis to rank various forms of energy. The costs include those of building and running power plants, and those associated with particular technologies, such as balancing the electricity system when wind or solar plants go offline or disposing of spent nuclear-fuel rods. The benefits of renewable energy include the value of the fuel that would have been used if coal- or gas-fired plants had produced the same amount of electricity and the amount of carbon-dioxide emissions that they avoid. The table summarises these costs and benefits. It makes wind and solar power look far more expensive than they appear on the basis of levelised costs.

Mr Frank took four sorts of zero-carbon energy (solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear), plus a low-carbon sort (an especially efficient type of gas-burning plant), and compared them with various sorts of conventional power. Obviously, low- and no-carbon power plants do not avoid emissions when they are not working, though they do incur some costs. So nuclear-power plants, which run at about 90% of capacity, avoid almost four times as much CO{-2} per unit of capacity as do wind turbines, which run at about 25%; they avoid six times as much as solar arrays do. If you assume a carbon price of $50 a tonne—way over most actual prices—nuclear energy avoids over $400,000-worth of carbon emissions per megawatt (MW) of capacity, compared with only $69,500 for solar and $107,000 for wind.

Nuclear power plants, however, are vastly expensive. A new plant at Hinkley Point, in south-west England, for example, is likely to cost at least $27 billion. They are also uninsurable commercially. Yet the fact that they run around the clock makes them only 75% more expensive to build and run per MW of capacity than a solar-power plant, Mr Frank reckons.

To determine the overall cost or benefit, though, the cost of the fossil-fuel plants that have to be kept hanging around for the times when solar and wind plants stand idle must also be factored in. Mr Frank calls these “avoided capacity costs”—costs that would not have been incurred had the green-energy plants not been built. Thus a 1MW wind farm running at about 25% of capacity can replace only about 0.23MW of a coal plant running at 90% of capacity. Solar farms run at only about 15% of capacity, so they can replace even less. Seven solar plants or four wind farms would thus be needed to produce the same amount of electricity over time as a similar-sized coal-fired plant. And all that extra solar and wind capacity is expensive.

A levelised playing field

If all the costs and benefits are totted up using Mr Frank’s calculation, solar power is by far the most expensive way of reducing carbon emissions. It costs $189,000 to replace 1MW per year of power from coal. Wind is the next most expensive. Hydropower provides a modest net benefit. But the most cost-effective zero-emission technology is nuclear power. The pattern is similar if 1MW of gas-fired capacity is displaced instead of coal. And all this assumes a carbon price of $50 a tonne. Using actual carbon prices (below $10 in Europe) makes solar and wind look even worse. The carbon price would have to rise to $185 a tonne before solar power shows a net benefit.

There are, of course, all sorts of reasons to choose one form of energy over another, including emissions of pollutants other than CO2 and fear of nuclear accidents. Mr Frank does not look at these. Still, his findings have profound policy implications. At the moment, most rich countries and China subsidise solar and wind power to help stem climate change. Yet this is the most expensive way of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Meanwhile Germany and Japan, among others, are mothballing nuclear plants, which (in terms of carbon abatement) are cheaper. The implication of Mr Frank’s research is clear: governments should target emissions reductions from any source rather than focus on boosting certain kinds of renewable energy.


German Utilities Bail Out Electric Grid at Wind’s Mercy

Germany’s push toward renewable energy is causing so many drops and surges from wind and solar power that the government is paying more utilities than ever to help stabilize the country’s electricity grid.

Twenty power companies including Germany’s biggest utilities, EON SE and RWE AG, now get fees for pledging to add or cut electricity within seconds to keep the power system stable, double the number in September, according to data from the nation’s four grid operators. Utilities that sign up to the 800 million-euro ($1.1 billion) balancing market can be paid as much as 400 times wholesale electricity prices, the data show.

Germany’s drive to almost double power output from renewables by 2035 has seen one operator reporting five times as many potential disruptions as four years ago, raising the risk of blackouts in Europe’s biggest electricity market while pushing wholesale prices to a nine-year low. More utilities are joining the balancing market as weak prices have cut operating margins to 5 percent on average from 15 percent in 2004, with RWE reporting its first annual loss since 1949.

“At the beginning, this market counted for only a small portion of our earnings,” said Hartmuth Fenn, the head of intraday, market access and dispatch at Vattenfall AB, Sweden’s biggest utility. “Today, we earn 10 percent of our plant profits in the balancing market” in Germany, he said by phone from Hamburg July 22.

Price Plunge

In Germany’s daily and weekly balancing market auctions, winning bidders have been paid as much as 13,922 euros to set aside one megawatt depending on the time of day, grid data show. Participants stand ready to provide power or cut output in notice periods of 15 minutes, 5 minutes or 30 seconds, earning fees whether their services are needed or not.

German wholesale next-year electricity prices have plunged 60 percent since 2008 as green power, which has priority access to the grid, cut into the running hours of gas, coal and nuclear plants. The year-ahead contract traded at 35.71 euros a megawatt-hour as of 3:54 p.m. on the European Energy Exchange AG in Leipzig, Germany.

Lawmakers last month backed a revision of a the country’s clean-energy law to curb green subsidies and slow gains in consumer power prices that are the second-costliest in the European Union. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s energy switch from nuclear power aims to boost the share of renewables to at least 80 percent by 2050 from about 29 percent now.

Power Premium

Jochen Schwill and Hendrik Saemisch, both 33, set up Next Kraftwerke GmbH in 2009 to sell power from emergency generators in hospitals to the power grid. Today, the former University of Cologne researchers employ about 80 people and have 1,000 megawatts from biomass plants to gas units at their disposal, or the equivalent capacity of a German nuclear plant.

“That was really the core of our founding idea,” Schwill said by phone from Cologne July 21. “That the boost in renewable energy will make supply more intermittent and balancing power more lucrative in the long run.”

Thomas Pilgram, who has sold balancing power since 2012 as chief executive officer of Clean Energy Sourcing in Leipzig, Germany, expects the wave of new entrants to push down balancing market payments.

“New participants are flooding into the market now, which means that prices are coming under pressure,” Pilgram said. “Whoever comes first, gets a slice of the cake, the others don’t because prices have slumped.”

Increased Competition

German grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur welcomes the increase in balancing market participants.

“That’s in our interest as we want to encourage competition in this market,” Armasari Soetarto, a spokeswoman for the Bonn-based authority, said by phone July 18. “More supply means lower prices and that means lower costs for German end users.”

The average price for capacity available within five minutes has dropped to 1,109 euros a megawatt in the week starting July 14, from 1,690 euros in the second week of January, Next Kraftwerke data show. Payments for cutting output within 15 minutes dropped to 361 euros from 1,615 euros in January.

The number of participants has increased as the country’s four grid operators refined how capacity is allocated. In 2007, the grids started one common auction and shortened the bidding periods. Since 2011, power plant operators commit their 5-minute capacity on a weekly basis instead of a month before.

Balance Payments

Balancing-market payments to utilities totaled 800 million euros last year, similar to the amount in 2012, grid data show. Utilities were asked to reserve 3,898 megawatts this week, which compares with Germany’s total installed power generation capacity of 183,649 megawatts as of July 16. One megawatt is enough to power 2,000 European homes.

Tennet TSO GmbH, Germany’s second-biggest grid operator, told power plant operators to adjust output 1,009 times to keep the grid stable last year, compared with 209 times in 2010. The interventions, used alongside the balancing market, are expected to be as frequent this year as in 2013, Ulrike Hoerchens, a spokeswoman for the Bayreuth, Germany-based company, said by phone on July 23.

To adapt to volatile supply and demand, RWE invested as much as 700 million euros on technology for its lignite plants that allow the units to change output by 30 megawatts within a minute. The coal-fired generators were originally built to run 24 hours a day.

RWE’s lignite generators, which have a total capacity of 10,291 megawatts, are flexible enough to cut or increase output by 5,000 megawatts on a sunny day, when power from solar panels floods the grid or supply vanishes as skies turn cloudy, according to Ulrich Hartmann, an executive board member at RWE’s generation unit.

“Back in the days, our lignite plants were inflexible, produced power around the clock and were always earning money,” Hartmann in Bergheim, Germany, said in a July 9 interview. “Now they are as flexible as gas plants.”


Australia: Giant new coal mine gets approval

The federal government has approved a giant Queensland coalmine that it says will generate as much as $300 billion for the economy, but which environmental groups say will contribute to a “carbon bomb” and risk causing significant damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt on Monday said that he had approved the Carmichael Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin and its associated rail link to the coast with “the absolute strictest” environmental conditions.

The 36 conditions, which include offsets of about 30,000 hectares for habitat destroyed, water returns for the Great Artesian Basin and $1 million for further research in protecting threatened species, will ensure the mine owner, India’s Adani, “meets the highest environmental standards”, Mr Hunt said in a media statement.

At full capacity, the Carmichael mine would produce as much as 60 million tonnes of coal a year, with a “resource value of $5 billion per annum over 60 years”, the statement said.

Apart from the boost to the local economy to the tune of 3920 jobs for operations and 2475 during construction, the mine will also “provide electricity for up to 100 million people in India”, Mr Hunt said.

Environmental groups including Greenpeace, though, warn the mine’s output would generate almost 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide when burnt each year, or equal to about a quarter of Australia’s current annual emissions.

Billionaire MP Clive Palmer also owns two Galilee coal reserves that may produce as much as 80 million tonnes of coal a year if those mines get developed. Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart also holds a minority stake with India’s GVK in mines with a similar annual capacity.

“History will look back on the Abbott Government’s decision today as an act of climate criminality,” said Greens Senator Larissa Waters, the party’s environment spokeswoman. 

“The proponent, Indian-owned Adani, is in financial dire straits and has already faced complaints about breaches of environmental laws in its home country

“There’s no guarantee Adani will be able to pay for the environmental conditions attached to the approval and with the Abbott and Newman governments slashing environment department staff, there’s no capacity to enforce them."

'Coffin' for the Reef

The mine, if it proceeds, would also increase the number of ships entering the Great Barrier Reef by about 450 a year, according to Felicity Wishart, a spokeswoman for the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

“This is yet another nail in the coffin for the Great Barrier Reef,” said Ms Wishart, adding that Carmichael and other proposed coal mines and gas plants in the region would likely increase the number of ships entering the reef area from about 4000 a year to 7000 by 2020.

Paul Oosting, campaigns director at social organising group GetUp!, said the approval was an “outrageous decision”.

“GetUp! will fight tooth and nail to make sure it will never occur,” Mr Oosting said. He said campaigns had succeeded in discouraging the involvement of banks such as Deutsche Bank, Barclays and RBS in the Abbot Point coal export terminal that will link to Carmichael.

The government should also have taken greater account of Adani’s “proven and documented track record of bribery, corruption and environmental degradation” in India, Mr Oosting said.

Water watch

One of the government’s conditions is that the mine will return a minimum of 730 megalitres of water to the Great Artesian Basin every year for five years.

However, Lock the Gate’s Central Queensland spokeswoman, Ellie Smith, said the mine would do “great damage to ground and surface water systems and the communities that depend on them”.

“Environment Minister Greg Hunt has ignored his own panel of top water scientists and is putting the Great Artesian Basin at further risk by allowing mine dewatering to drain the Basin,” Ms Smith said.

Adani has said the Carmichael mine would extract as much as 12.5 gigalitres of water every year, Lock the Gate noted.

Market hurdle

Getting government approval may be easier than winning over markets that have soured on coal, with prices of the commodity dropping about 50 per cent over the past five years.

Concerns about over-supply as nations such as Russia, Indonesia and Mongolia join Australia in preparing to ramp-up production have lately been complemented by signs that global action on climate change will see carbon costs imposed on coal to curb its usage.

South Korea, for instance, this month slapped a coal tax of about $18 per tonne of coal and will introduce a broad carbon price from 2015. Neighbouring China, easily the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, has also unveiled plans for a national carbon emissions market and may aim to curb coal consumption within coming years.

Tim Buckley, a former Citibank analyst and now a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the environmental approval itself was no surprise.

“I never expected [Mr] Hunt to go against Premier [Campbell] Newman nor Prime Minister [Tony] Abbott's desire to promote foreign firms trying to sustain Australia's coal industry,” Mr Buckley said.

“Ironically, should the Galilee proceed, it will actually accelerate the longer-term destruction of our coal export industry by dramatically expanding the capital invested, whilst at the same time taking coal prices globally down another 10-20 per cent.”

Adani, though, said it was standing by its longstanding guidance that the first coal from the mine will be produced in 2017

"The Carmichael mine, together with North Galilee Basin Rail and Abbot Point, will be an enduring provider of more than 10.000 jobs, ongoing partnerships with our small and medium business suppliers, and long-term export opportunities for Queensland," an Adani spokesman said.

"All commodity prices are by their nature subject to volatility," the spokesman said. "Having said that, Adani is an integrated mining, infrastructure and power company that is both the miner, infrastructure owner and operator, and eventual customer for the cost efficient and high quality coal exported from our Carmichael mine."



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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, 2014

American Farmers Just Love Their GMOs and You Should Too

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its latest data on farmers planting of crops genetically enhanced to tolerate herbicides (HT) crops and to resist insect pests (Bt).

HT soybeans went from 17 percent of U.S. soybean acreage to 94 percent in 2014. Plantings of HT cotton expanded from about 10 percent of U.S. acreage in 1997 to 91 percent in 2014. The adoption of HT corn reached 89 percent of U.S. corn acreage in 2014.

Plantings of Bt corn grew from about 8 percent of U.S. corn acreage in 1997 to 80 percent in 2014. Plantings of Bt cotton also expanded rapidly, from 15 percent of U.S. cotton acreage in 1997 to 84 percent in 2014.

Why are modern biotech crops so popular with farmers?  Earlier this year, U.S. News reported the views of Illinois farmer Katie Pratt:

According to Pratt, her family uses GMO crops because of the clear value they bring to their family business. They have greatly reduced the amount of insecticide that needs to be sprayed, and they only need to treat the weeds at one point, not several times over a growing season. Her soil has now improved, because she and her family don't have to tromp through the fields as often. The family also uses less fuel, because they spend less time in the tractor. “No one is more aware than the farmer of the impact we have on the environment, in addition to the urgency to feed and fuel a growing population, while reducing our footprint on the planet,” she maintains.

And remember folks, biotech crops are not only good for the environment, eating them as caused not so much as a cough, sniffle, sneeze or bellyache. For example, a statement issued by the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest scientific organization in the United States, on October 20, 2012 point blank asserted that “contrary to popular misconceptions, GM [genetically modified] crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. There are occasional claims that feeding GM foods to animals causes aberrations ranging from digestive disorders, to sterility, tumors and premature death. Although such claims are often sensationalized and receive a great deal of media attention, none have stood up to rigorous scientific scrutiny.” The AAAS Board concluded, “Indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”


GMO's: Scare Mongering at Its Worst!

By Rich Kozlovich

Mike Adams, who publishes Natural News and styles himself as the Health Ranger recently posted an article entitled, The Agricultural Holocaust explained: the 10 worst ways GMOs threaten humanity and our natural world on July 27, 2014.

He claims "genetically modified organisms (GMOs) a serious threat to humanity and the environment? The reasons span the realms of science, social justice, economics and the environment, and once you understand this, you'll readily understand why so many environmentalists, humanitarians, responsible scientists and social justice advocates are strongly opposed to GMOs", and lists ten reasons why?

 He starts out with - "Every grain of GM corn contains poison", and goes on to say;

"GM corn is genetically engineered to develop a deadly pesticide in every grain of corn. When this corn is harvested and turned into Corn Flakes, corn tortillas, corn syrup or other corn-based foods, that same poison remains in the corn.

What is the effect of human children eating all the poisons grown in GM corn? Nobody knows for sure because the tests haven't been conducted on human consumption. That's why GMOs remain an untested experiment that exploits humans as guinea pigs."

First of all, this “deadly” pesticide isn’t deadly to anything except the targeted insect pests because it's the dose that makes the poison – basic chemical science! When they use this kind of language it’s a lie of omission, because presence doesn’t mean toxicity, and they know it. Furthermore it’s more likely that cooking will destroy what minute amounts exist in it anyway but even if it didn't just because some chemical is detectable it doesn’t mean it’s harmful.  We can test down for parts per quadrillion and even lower in some cases.  As a health issue those numbers are meaningless because the molecular load will be so small cells won’t react to it.

As for "no tests being conducted on human beings", there’s a reason for that. We’re not allowed to test human beings, and these eco-activists know it, yet they continue to use this same lie of omission over and over again. In the real world everything - and I mean everything - gets its final testing when its released to the public, and GMO’s have been used for decades in this country without one iota of evidence of harm.

What they fail to tell you – making another lie of omission – are the benefits of GMO’s, including less total land needed to plant the needed food to feed a growing world population, less pesticide use (including herbicides) because they’re now more resistant to insect pests and weeds, and can even allow for planting in soil that has high levels of salt, expanding usable acreage numbers substantially. Since the plants are healthier because they're disease resistant, all of this allows for higher better quality yields.

Without modern agricultural tools, including GMO’s, according to Norman Borlaug 25 years ago, we would need all the land east of the Mississippi with the exclusion of three states to generate the same level of crop production they had then.  With the world's growing population how much more land would be needed.   Picture that as a worldwide dilemma. 


Lawsuit Seeks Damages From EPA, ‘A Toxic Waste Dump of Lawlessness’

A conservative legal group is asking a federal judge to punish the Environmental Protection Agency for destroying or failing to preserve emails and text messages requested in August 2012 under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Landmark Legal Foundation believes the requested -- but never delivered -- messages to outside groups would have revealed EPA attempts to influence the 2012 presidential election.

"The EPA is a toxic waste dump for lawlessness and disdain for the Constitution,” said Landmark Legal President Mark Levin.

His legal group wants the federal court to fine the EPA “in an amount sufficient to deter future wrongdoing.” 

Landmark Legal also is asking the judge to appoint an independent monitor to ensure that EPA is properly preserving and searching for all records that fall under Landmark’s original FOIA request.

“EPA cannot be trusted,” the lawsuit states. “The appointment of an independent monitor is essential to ensure that EPA complies fully with its obligation to preserve documents…”

And finally, the lawsuit asks the judge to direct the EPA to inform parties in other lawsuits that it may have destroyed or failed to preserve records they had a legal right to receive in their litigation.

“When any federal agency receives a FOIA request, the statute says it must preserve every significant repository of records, both paper and electronic, that may contain materials that could be responsive to that request,” Levin said. “When an agency gets sued it must also notify everyone who might be involved in the suit to preserve everything in their possession that could be discoverable in the litigation.

"But the people at the EPA, from the Administrator on down, think they’re above the law, that no one has the right to question what or how they do their jobs. Well, they’re wrong. The laws apply to everyone, even federal bureaucrats.”

The lawsuit says EPA should have searched the personal emails and text messages used by top EPA officials, including then-Administrator Lisa Jackson, to conduct official business, but it failed to do so.

"EPA didn’t and doesn’t care, an attitude that it has carried into every aspect of its dealings with Landmark," the lawsuit says. "EPA has treated Landmark as an adversary from the receipt of its FOIA request, not as a rightful participant in a FOIA regime as enforcing principles of open government subject to oversight by its citizens."

This is the second time Landmark Legal has sought sanctions against the EPA in FOIA litigation.

In 2003, the Agency was held in contempt by a federal judge for destroying email backup tapes in a similar suit over “midnight” regulations hurried into law in the final days of the Clinton Administration. In that case, the EPA was fined nearly $300,000.

"The EPA has to learn that you can’t save the planet by destroying the rule of law,” Levin said. “It also must understand that some of our most precious resources are the principles of limited government and official accountability enumerated in the Constitution. If we don’t protect those, saving the snail darter or the spotted owl won’t mean a thing.”

Landmark Legal isn’t the only information-seeker to be frustrated by EPA stonewalling: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently informed Congress that EPA was unable to obtain requested records because of a computer crash.

According to Landmark Legal’s current lawsuit, “Imposition of these sanctions will also deliver a larger message to the EPA and the entire federal bureaucracy to take its data preservations obligations seriously.”

Landmark Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public interest law firm with offices in Kansas City, MO. and Leesburg, Va.


Gov't Spends $156,493 to Identify Species Vulnerable to Climate Change -- in Maine

 The National Park Service is awarding $156,493 to the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) Institute to fund an award to “identify species vulnerable to climate change at Acadia National Park.”

According to the grant, “Climate change is a serious threat to national areas. SERC Institute will develop and communicate stories describing local impacts of climate change on well-known species in Acadia National Park. The results from this project will provide valuable tools to communicate to the public and interested audiences how species are responding to climate change and which species might be most vulnerable to climate change.”

Acadia National Park is on the coast of Maine, about halfway up the length of the state next to Bar Harbor.

As part of the grant, SERC will develop and communicate stories describing impacts of climate change on well-known species; develop a curriculum for a training course that will provide an introduction to citizen science and include lesson plans; organize and hold a climate change workshop that includes a discussion of stories on the impacts of climate change; and work with the National Park Service staff to hold a workshop on the vulnerability of archaeological resources to climate change, as well as many other initiatives.

The National Park Service lists research and education activities as some of the SERC Institute’s qualifications. (See  Park Service Grant (1).doc)

“Much of SERC Institute’s work has specifically focused on supporting research and education related to long-term changes in Acadia National Park and the surrounding area,” the grant states. “They have developed innovative methods, such as citizen science and data literacy, inquiry-based learning, and storytelling techniques to support these activities and integrate science and education.”

“This expertise makes SERC Institute uniquely qualified to lead and work with NPS on the project described in this Task Agreement,” reads the grant.  “Their qualifications exceed those of any other potential partners.”

The grant was posted on July 10, 2014 and had a closing date for applications of July 15, 2014. contacted Jennifer Fleming, the National Park Service’s NER Agreements Officer to question whether the grant was a good use of taxpayer dollars, but Fleming did not respond by press time


Green Group Under Scrutiny for Trespassing, Harassment at Woman’s Farm

Robert Marmet knew he was supposed to inspect Martha Boneta’s farm, but he didn’t know exactly what for. He knew there were limits on what he could inspect, but he had no idea where they were.

So when Marmet, a senior energy policy analyst with the Piedmont Environmental Council, and his partner Mike Kane, a conservation officer with the group, turned up June 12 to inspect Boneta’s Liberty Farm in Paris, Va., they more or less inspected what they wanted to inspect.

They walked through the upstairs and downstairs portion of the barn that sits on the property. They inspected every room within—bathrooms, closets, storage rooms and offices. They looked over the farmer’s personal effects and even toured the basement area of the barn that housed some of the animals. They inspected “The Smithy,” an historical structure on the property that was once a blacksmith shop. They stood on chairs to peer into the loft area.

What were they looking for? They were there on behalf of the PEC to enforce an easement on Boneta’s property. Easements are documents property owners sign that compensate them for agreeing to withhold land from commercial development. In Boneta’s case, the PEC accused her in a previous lawsuit of violating the agreement in a number of ways, the main one of which was to operate apartments on the property.

An agreement to settle that suit required PEC to acknowledge the accusation was false and Boneta did not have apartments on the property, but it permitted PEC to “measure for the size of an apartment.” This inspection obviously went far beyond that.

Boneta claims in a lawsuit filed last month in Fauquier County Circuit Court the inspections are part of a pattern of harassment. Her case accuses Peter Schwartz, a member of the elected Fauquier County Board of Supervisors and former member of the PEC board of directors, of, among other things, telling zoning officials he wants the rules “aggressively enforced” with regard to the farm.

She also claims PEC should not be allowed to be involved in the enforcement of the easement. She said before the PEC sold her the farm in 2006, it owned both the property and the easement, which is illegal under Virginia law.

Almost all property owners with easements must endure routine inspections by the land conservancies or other organizations that enforce the easements. Usually, they are low-key and friendly. Landowners are apprised of violations, and the sides work together to address them.

This is not the case with Martha Boneta.

She told Marmet and Kane when they entered her property in June they could inspect only what the easement language allows. “It’s very clear,” she said. And if they “exceed what the language says, it is considered trespassing. In the past, you have demanded to inspect my closets and have photographed my personal private possessions, and this exceeds your authority.”

Marmet replied that, yes, he is an attorney—and a former judge, according to his bio on the PEC website—but he is not licensed to practice law in Virginia and is not familiar with the terms of the easement. If he was about to violate any of its terms, he told Boneta, “I ask that you give me notice.”

At which point, Mark Fitzgibbons, an attorney and neighbor who has supported legislation to protect traditional farming practices from intrusive zoning rules, stepped in. “The PEC has been placed on notice,” Fitzgibbons told Marmet. “The obligation is on you, not Martha Boneta, to know what the easement terms are.”

Fitzgibbons told The Daily Signal the inspections have gotten out of hand. “From what I’ve observed, these inspections are being conducted with an agenda greater than ensuring fidelity to the easement,” he said.

It does seem to me the PEC has crossed a line. They are going anywhere and everywhere across Martha’s property, and it does seem excessive. So, either they do not know what the easement terms really say, or they do know and are pushing boundaries of their easement authority. Also, if the terms of easement are vague, they are to be construed against the inspector, which opens the issue of trespassing.

Fitzgibbons is not alone in thinking the PEC has gone too far with its handling of Boneta. Several recent events suggest frustration with the organization and what many view as its heavy-handed tactics may be reaching critical mass.

There is Boneta’s lawsuit, in which she claims the PEC “attempted to convince the [county] zoning administrator and other local government officials” to issue zoning citations against her farm—and plenty of email and written correspondence obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to support her version.

There is something called the Boneta Bill, signed into law by Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s Democratic governor, and effective July 1. The legislation, which prevents local authorities from requiring special-use permits for conventional farming activities outlined in the law, proves members of Virginia’s General Assembly recognize the problem and have sympathy for Boneta.

And there is the audit of Boneta’s 2010 and 2011 tax records that some suggest may amount to using the IRS against Boneta. A former IRS director sits on PEC’s board.

Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center, a non-profit, free-enterprise group based in Virginia, is circulating a petition that calls on House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders to investigate the PEC, its relationship with the county government and the actions the group has taken against Liberty Farm.

DeWeese said the documents reveal Schwartz, the county supervisor, knew about Boneta’s audit before she received the notice in the mail, and Fitzgibbons said he learned of the audit during a meeting with Schwartz in the supervisor’s private home on July 21, 2012—a few days before Boneta received her IRS letter.

“Martha [Boneta] stood up and resisted, and so now she is being targeted,” DeWeese said in an interview. “But this is not just Fauquier County. We see this happening all over the country. The PEC is one of many quasi groups operating behind the scenes. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of green groups just like the PEC pulling the strings of government.”

DeWeese also said he is talking to state lawmakers about placing a “five-year opt out” provision on easements that would give property owners some flexibility.

“Right now the easements exist in perpetuity, and this is a problem because there is no real oversight for how they are managed,” DeWeese said. “The PEC can move the easements around to the government and other land trusts, and it’s a profit for them. But the landowner is stuck forever with the easement.”

If there is a congressional investigation, DeWeese would like to see the PEC’s non-profit 501(c)(3) status come under scrutiny.

“The PEC was given an IRS designation as a non-profit educational institution and this comes with restrictions,” he said. “Given how they have interacted with the Fauquier County government and how they have treated Martha, I think this calls out for an investigation. If you cut off the PEC’s 501(c )(3) status, you can cut off PEC at the knees.”

The PEC has moved to dismiss Boneta’s suit in its entirety because it “has failed to set forth valid claims,” said Heather Richards, vice-president of conservation and rural programs, wrote in an email.

The group also released a detailed post on its website that presents its side of the story.

“PEC and other land trusts across the country take our responsibility to uphold conservation easements in perpetuity seriously, and work hard to maintain positive relationships with landowners,” the post says. “We are saddened by the public misrepresentations about both the terms of this conservation easement and the facts surrounding the court case and its ensuing settlement, which was agreed to by all parties.”

But questions remain.

Why was Boneta singled out for an audit, and how did Schwartz and others know about it beforehand? What does it say about the relationship between the PEC and Fauquier County government that a supervisor can encourage “aggressive enforcement?” How much inspection is needed to determine whether there are apartments in the barn?

Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, has studied conservation easements for decades. He said what began as a laudable effort to provide financially stressed landowner with tax breaks in exchange for setting aside land for conservation has been converted into a vehicle for government land grabs. The actions taken against Liberty Farm appear to bolster these concerns, he said.

“Mr. Marmet showed an appalling ignorance of the terms of the conservation easement he, representing the PEC, was on Martha Boneta’s property to enforce,” said Cohen, who witnessed the inspection in June. “One is left with the impression that the inspection was little more than a fishing expedition to find out how much he could get away with. That’s not right.”


EPA Chief: 'This Is Not About Pollution Control...It's an Investment Strategy'

She wouldn't know an investment if she fell over one

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Congress on Wednesday that the EPA's sweeping carbon-regulation plan "really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control."

Spouting warnings about "climate change" ("The science is clear. The risks are clear...We must act."), McCarthy described and defended the EPA's plan to reduce pollution from existing power plants by setting various carbon-reduction goals for each state to meet by the year 2030.

"And the great thing about this proposal is it really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control. It's about increased efficiency at our plants...It's about investments in renewables and clean energy. It's about investments in people's ability to lower their electricity bills by getting good, clean, efficient appliances, homes, rental units," McCarthy told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

"This is an investment strategy that will really not just reduce carbon pollution but will position the United States to continue to grow economically in every state, based on their own design," McCarthy added.

In her opening statement, McCarthy said the Clean Power Plan "paves a more certain path for conventional fuels in a clean energy economy." But in the course of her testimony, it became clear that the EPA actually is paving a more certain path for clean energy in what is now a fossil-fuel economy.

Under the plan, it's up to each state to figure out how to arrive at the federally prescribed carbon-reduction goals by 2030. But "clean" energy and "efficiency" (reducing demand for fossil-fuel sources) would certainly have to be part of the mix.

Sen. John Barroso (R-Wyo.) said the proposed regulation may cause Americans pain by raising electricity prices, but it "can't make a dent" in terms of global pollution.

"Sir, what I know about this rule is that I know it will leave the United States in 2030 with a more efficient and cleaner energy supply system -- and more jobs in clean energy, which are the jobs of the future," McCarthy responded.

McCarthy said the EPA, whenever it issues a new rule, "always" hears criticism from "some small groups" about harm to the economy.

But she said she doesn't expect any adverse impact from this rule -- "other than to have jobs grow, the economy to grow, the U.S. to become more stable, the U.S. to take advantage of new technology, innovation and investments that will make us stronger over time."

The EPA says it derives its authority to steer the economy toward "clean" energy from Section 111 of the Clean Air Act.

But Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions argued that the agency has "not been given explicit statutory power to do what you're doing. You've achieved it by, I guess, a 5-4 ruling some years ago  by the Supreme Court. And it ought to be viewed with skepticism."

Asked to explain what consumers can expect from the new rule, McCarthy said EPA expects people to see lower energy bills "because we're getting waste out of the system." In other words, if electricity costs more, people will use less of it.

Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who supports the proposed rule, asked McCarthy is she is considering stricter carbon reduction targets for states that already have achieved the levels set out in the proposed rules.

"Well, Senator, we are looking at all comments that we receive. We have a very long coment period, 120 days. We're looking forward to four public hearings next week. So we will be certainly listening to those and making appropriate changes, one way or another," McCarthy replied.

The public comment period on the proposed rule runs through October 16, 2014.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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, 2014

Half of Britain to be opened up to fracking

Ministers are this week expected to offer up vast swathes of Britain for fracking in an attempt to lure energy companies to explore shale oil and gas reserves.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is expected to launch the so-called “14th onshore licensing round”, which will invite companies to bid for the rights to explore in as-yet untouched parts of the country.

The move is expected to be hugely controversial because it could potentially result in fracking taking place across more than half of Britain. Industry sources said the plans could be announced at a press conference tomorrow.

The Government is a big proponent of fracking and last year revealed that it would “step up the search” for shale gas and oil.

Ministers said they would offer energy companies the chance for rights to drill across more than 37,000 square miles, stretching from central Scotland to the south coast.

Michael Fallon, the former energy minister, has previously described shale as “an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security”.

A previous government-commissioned report said as many as 2,880 wells could be drilled in the new licence areas, generating up to a fifth of the country’s annual gas demand at peak and creating as many as 32,000 jobs.

However, the report warned that communities close to drilling sites could see a large increase in traffic. Residents could face as many as 51 lorry journeys each day for three years, the study said.

It also warned of potential strain on facilities for handling the waste water generated by hydraulic fracturing, the process known as fracking, which involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into rocks at high pressure to extract gas.

There were also concerns over the potential environmental impact on the countryside.

Controversies include plans to offer land within national parks, despite National Trust opposition.

The areas expected to attract the most interest are the Bowland basin in the north of England, where it is estimated there could be enough gas to supply the UK for 40 years.

Ministers also anticipate strong interest in the South East and the central belt of Scotland.


New York Senate Rejects Fracking Ban

The New York Senate has declined to pass a bill extending a statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing energy production in the state. Instead, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and local governments will decide the fate of fracking in New York.

The New York State Assembly voted 89 to 34 on June 16 to continue the statewide moratorium, which was imposed as a temporary measure by former Gov. David Paterson (D). The Cuomo administration is currently reviewing the moratorium, and some legislators are trying to pass a law that would ban fracking even if Cuomo lifts the executive moratorium. The Senate, however, declined to vote on the bill.

New York environmental officials have missed multiple deadlines to issue final rulings on hydraulic fracturing. The Cuomo administration’s ongoing delay in making a final decision on fracking keeps the ban in place while enabling the governor to avoid the political consequences of making it permanent.

“Gov. Cuomo appears to be appeasing urban, far-left environmental activists while paying lip service to upstate voters who will decide his fate in the November election,” said Jay Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News. “This is the same political strategy employed by President Obama regarding the Keystone XL pipeline.”


UK: Stop building offshore wind farms, says energy company

Britain should stop building expensive offshore wind farms, energy giant Centrica has said, claiming that billpayers could be saved £96bn by 2030 if ministers pursued a cheaper green strategy.

The British Gas owner - whose chief executive Sam Laidlaw is preparing to step down after eight years - on Wednesday took the unusual step of issuing its own manifesto for how to solve Britain’s energy crisis, claiming its plans were three times cheaper than Government’s.

Mr Laidlaw, whose exit and replacement by BP executive Iain Conn is expected to be confirmed as soon as next week, is said to have grown tired of taking the flak for rising energy bills.

The report, which points the finger of blame at Government for backing expensive green technologies, offers a “more affordable pathway to a lower-carbon future”, Mr Laidlaw said.  It advocates building no more offshore wind farms, which it calls “an expensive option that may not be needed”, stopping solar panel deployment, “since it generates no output at times of peak demand” and restricting use of expensive solid wall insulation for homes.

Instead it backs gas, nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants. It claims the plan would save consumers £100 a year by 2030, compared with the Government’s strategy, while still hitting 2050 carbon targets.

But the manifesto would involve Britain failing to meet its legally-binding EU target for renewable energy generation by 2020, and would also involve weakening green targets for the late 2020s.

One Whitehall source dismissed the report, saying: “Centrica ignores legally binding targets that are not going to go away.”

Peter Atherton, of Liberum Capital, said Centrica had entered the debate on policy “at least five years late” having previously supported policies such as offshore wind “as that suited their short term profit outlook”.

Centrica last year sold its interest in the proposed Race Bank offshore wind farm after deciding subsidies were inadequate, and hopes now to build gas-fired power plants.

Sophie Neuburg, of Friends of the Earth, said the report was “cynical” and served Centrica’s own interests. She said it was "ridiculous" to stop building offshore wind when it was not clear if CCS would work.

Joss Garman, of think-tank IPPR said: "Centrica’s proposals could fatally damage the UK’s efforts to reduce harmful carbon pollution because they directly contradict the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change to introduce a 2030 decarbonisation target for the power sector. To regain the trust of consumers and bring down costs, Centrica needs to embrace new technologies and be part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem.”

The energy department said it was working to “ensure the UK’s energy security and achieve our carbon targets in the most cost effective way possible”.


Guillotine climate change skeptics?

Don Surber

If the world is warming, it is doing so at one-quarter of the rate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted in its 2007 report.

The IPCC admits in a yet-to-be released report that it overestimated global warming, the London Daily Mail reported.

“But the new report says the observed warming over the more recent 15 years to 2012 was just 0.05C per decade -- below almost all computer predictions,” the newspaper reported.

That is a change of five-hundredths of a degree annually.  Feel the burn.

The weather is doing what Leona Woods Marshall Libby forecast 30 years ago.  She’s a big deal. At 23, she was the only female on physicist Enrico Fermi’s team that built the first nuclear reactor and first atom bomb.

Dr. Libby later developed the method used to measure temperatures centuries ago using tree ring data, which is a key tool in climatology.

In 1979 -- when the scientific consensus was global cooling -- Dr. Libby forecast a rise in temperatures until the year 2000 when it would get colder again for the next 50 years.

“Easily one to two degrees,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “And maybe even three or four degrees. It takes only 10 degrees to bring on an Ice Age.”

The first half of her prediction proved true. Temperatures peaked in 1998.

But why bother with the facts? Global warming is politics, not science. The head of the IPCC is an economist. Its Nobel is a Peace Prize.

Yes, horticulturists use water vapor and carbon dioxide in their greenhouses.  But that is to feed their plants. Carbon dioxide is your friend, not a pollutant.

As the evidence mounts that this is junk science, its promoters are getting ugly.

Two years ago, Professor Richard Parncutt of Graz University in Austria called for the execution of skeptics.

He later retracted his statement, but pardon people for being nervous. Austria was part of Nazi Germany.

And history shows that being right is small comfort.  In the 18th century, the scientific consensus backed the theory of phlogiston, which held that there were three elements.

Along came Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier who determined this was wrong.  People now consider Lavoisier as the Father of Modern Chemistry, because he did the math and used experimentation to prove his point.

But some people held on to the phlogiston theory for a while longer. They did so because everyone else had said it is true. And if you do not believe what everyone else believes, then you are an idiot.

Hans Christian Andersen mocked this conformity in his story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which con men sold the emperor cloth that didn’t exist. They told him the cloth was invisible to the hopelessly stupid and people who are unfit for their office.

Not wishing to be known as a fool or unfit, the emperor pretended to see the cloth.  He put on the non-existent clothing and paraded naked before the people, who were silent lest they be considered fools.  Finally, a child blurted out that the emperor was wearing nothing. That broke the spell.

And so it goes with global warming. If you do not believe then you are a denier, anti-science, and a tool for that great bogeyman, Big Oil.

The truth is every flood, every drought, every tornado, every hurricane, every cyclone, every dip in the polar vortex, every derecho, every wildfire, every blizzard and every other weather phenomenon does not prove global warming.

Forces that are beyond man’s comprehension control and deterimine the weather.

Skeptics beware, they guillotined Lavoisier.  His execution was unrelated to his debunking phlogiston, but his status as the father of chemistry did not spare him.

Legend has it that when he pleaded for a stay of execution so he could complete one final experiment, the judge replied: “La République n’a pas besoin de savants ni de chimistes; le cours de la justice ne peut être suspendu.”

That translates into “The Republic needs neither scientists nor chemists; the course of justice cannot be delayed.”

A motto fit for today’s global warming fanatics.


Just Who is Waging the ‘War on Science’?

Paul Driessen

Left-leaning environmentalists, media and academics have long railed against the alleged conservative “war on science.” They augment this vitriol with substantial money, books, documentaries and conference sessions devoted to “protecting” global warming alarmists from supposed “harassment” by climate chaos skeptics, whom they accuse of wanting to conduct “fishing expeditions” of alarmist emails and “rifle” their file cabinets in search of juicy material (which might expose collusion or manipulated science).

A primary target of this “unjustified harassment” has been Penn State University professor Dr. Michael Mann, creator of the infamous “hockey stick” temperature graph that purported to show a sudden spike in average planetary temperatures in recent decades, following centuries of supposedly stable climate. But at a recent AGU meeting a number of other “persecuted” scientists were trotted out to tell their story of how they have been “attacked” or had their research, policy demands or integrity questioned.

To fight back against this “harassment,” the American Geophysical Union actually created a “Climate Science Legal Defense Fund,” to pay mounting legal bills that these scientists have incurred. The AGU does not want any “prying eyes” to gain access to their emails or other information. These scientists and the AGU see themselves as “Freedom Fighters” in this “war on science.” It’s a bizarre war.

While proclaiming victimhood, they detest and vilify any experts who express doubts that we face an imminent climate Armageddon. They refuse to debate any such skeptics, or permit “nonbelievers” to participate in conferences where endless panels insist that every imaginable and imagined ecological problem is due to fossil fuels. They use hysteria and hyperbole to advance claims that slashing fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions will enable us to control Earth’s climate – and that references to computer model predictions and “extreme weather events” justify skyrocketing energy costs, millions of lost jobs, and severe damage to people’s livelihoods, living standards, health and welfare.

Reality is vastly different from what these alarmist, environmentalist, academic, media and political elites attempt to convey.

In 2009, before Mann’s problems began, Greenpeace started attacking scientists it calls “climate deniers,” focusing its venom on seven scientists at four institutions, including the University of Virginia and University of Delaware. This anti-humanity group claimed its effort would “bring greater transparency to the climate science discussion” through “educational and other charitable public interest activities.” (If you believe that, send your bank account number to those Nigerians with millions in unclaimed cash.)

UVA administrators quickly agreed to turn over all archived records belonging to Dr. Patrick Michaels, a prominent climate chaos skeptic who had recently retired from the university. They did not seem to mind that no press coverage ensued, and certainly none that was critical of these Spanish Inquisition tactics.

However, when the American Tradition Institute later filed a similar FOIA request for Dr. Mann’s records, UVA marshaled the troops and launched a media circus, saying conservatives were harassing a leading climate scientist. The AGU, American Meteorological Society and American Association of University Professors (the nation’s college faculty union) rushed forward to lend their support. All the while, in a remarkable display of hypocrisy and double standards, UVA and these organizations continued to insist it was proper and ethical to turn all of Dr. Michaels’ material over to Greenpeace.

Meanwhile, although it had started out similarly, the scenario played out quite differently at the University of Delaware. Greenpeace targeted Dr. David Legates, demanding access to records related to his role as the Delaware State Climatologist. The University not only agreed to this. It went further, and demanded that Legates produce all his records – regardless of whether they pertained to his role as State Climatologist, his position on the university faculty, or his outside speaking and writing activities, even though he had received no state money for any of this work. Everything was fair game.

But when the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a FOIA request for documents belonging to several U of Delaware faculty members who had contributed to the IPCC, the university told CEI the state’s FOIA Law did not apply. (The hypocrisy and double standards disease is contagious.) Although one faculty contributor clearly had received state money for his climate change work, University Vice-President and General Counsel Lawrence White falsely claimed none of the individuals had received state funds.

When Legates approached White to inquire about the disparate treatment, White said Legates did not understand the law. State law did not require that White produce anything, White insisted, but also did not preclude him from doing so. Under threat of termination for failure to respond to the demands of a senior university official, Legates was required to allow White to inspect his emails and hardcopy files.

Legates subsequently sought outside legal advice. At this, his academic dean told him he had now gone too far. “This puts you at odds with the University,” she told him, “and the College will no longer support anything you do.” This remarkable threat was promptly implemented. Legates was terminated as the State Climatologist, removed from a state weather network he had been instrumental in organizing and operating, and banished from serving on any faculty committees.

Legates appealed to the AAUP – the same union that had staunchly supported Mann at UVA. Although the local AAUP president had written extensively on the need to protect academic freedom, she told Legates that FOIA issues and actions taken by the University of Delaware’s vice-president and dean “would not fall within the scope of the AAUP.”

What about the precedent of the AAUP and other professional organizations supporting Dr. Mann so quickly and vigorously? Where was the legal defense fund to pay Legates’ legal bills? Fuggedaboutit.

In the end, it was shown that nothing White examined in Legates’ files originated from state funds. The State Climate Office had received no money while Legates was there, and the university funded none of Legates’ climate change research though state funds. This is important because, unlike in Virginia, Delaware’s FOIA law says that regarding university faculty, only state-funded work is subject to FOIA.

That means White used his position to bully and attack Legates for his scientific views – pure and simple. Moreover, a 1991 federal arbitration case had ruled that the University of Delaware had violated another faculty member’s academic freedom when it examined the content of her research. But now, more than twenty years later, U Del was at it again.

Obviously, academic freedom means nothing when one’s views differ from the liberal faculty majority – or when they contrast with views and “science” that garners the university millions of dollars a year from government, foundation, corporate and other sources, to advance the alarmist climate change agenda. All these institutions are intolerant of research by scientists like Legates, because they fear losing grant money if they permit contrarian views, discussions, debates or anything that questions the climate chaos “consensus.” At this point, academic freedom and free speech obviously apply only to advance selected political agendas, and campus “diversity” exists in everything but opinions.

Climate alarmists have been implicated in the ClimateGate scandal, for conspiring to prevent their adversaries from receiving grants, publishing scientific papers, and advancing their careers. Yet they are staunchly supported by their universities, professional organizations, union – and groups like Greenpeace.

Meanwhile, climate disaster skeptics are vilified and harassed by these same groups, who pretend they are fighting to “let scientists conduct research without the threat of politically motivated attacks.” Far worse, we taxpayers are paying the tab for the junk science – and then getting stuck with regulations, soaring energy bills, lost jobs and reduced living standards…based on that bogus science.

Right now, the climate alarmists appear to be winning their war on honest science. But storm clouds are gathering, and a powerful counteroffensive is heading their way.



Warmists have rivals for crookedness in journal publication

Every now and then a scholarly journal retracts an article because of errors or outright fraud. In academic circles, and sometimes beyond, each retraction is a big deal. jvc

Now comes word of a journal retracting 60 articles at once.

The reason for the mass retraction is mind-blowing: A “peer review and citation ring” was apparently rigging the review process to get articles published.

You’ve heard of prostitution rings, gambling rings and extortion rings. Now there’s a “peer review ring.”

The publication is the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC). It publishes papers with names like “Hydraulic engine mounts: a survey” and “Reduction of wheel force variations with magnetorheological devices.”

The field of acoustics covered by the journal is highly technical:

Analytical, computational and experimental studies of vibration phenomena and their control. The scope encompasses all linear and nonlinear vibration phenomena and covers topics such as: vibration and control of structures and machinery, signal analysis, aeroelasticity, neural networks, structural control and acoustics, noise and noise control, waves in solids and fluids and shock waves.

JVC is part of the SAGE group of academic publications. Here’s how it describes its peer review process:

[The journal] operates under a conventional single-blind reviewing policy in which the reviewer’s name is always concealed from the submitting author.

All manuscripts are reviewed initially by one of the Editors and only those papers that meet the scientific and editorial standards of the journal, and fit within the aims and scope of the journal, will be sent for peer review.  Generally, reviews from two independent referees are required.

An announcement from SAGE published July 8 explained what happened, albeit somewhat opaquely.

In 2013, the editor of JVC, Ali H. Nayfeh, became aware of people using “fabricated identities” to manipulate an online system called SAGE Track by which scholars review the work of other scholars prior to publication.

Attention focused on a researcher named Peter Chen of the National Pingtung University of Education (NPUE) in Taiwan and “possibly other authors at this institution.”

After a 14-month investigation, JVC determined the ring involved “aliases” and fake e-mail addresses of reviewers — up to 130 of them — in an apparently successful effort to get friendly reviews of submissions and as many articles published as possible by Chen and his friends. “On at least one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he created,” according to the SAGE announcement.

The statement does not explain how something like this happens. Did the ring invent names and say they were scholars? Did they use real names and pretend to be other scholars? Doesn’t anyone check on these things by, say, picking up the phone and calling the reviewer?

In any case, SAGE and Nayfeh confronted Chen to give him an “opportunity to address the accusations of misconduct,” the statement said, but were not satisfied with his responses.

In May, “NPUE informed SAGE and JVC that Peter Chen had resigned from his post on 2 February 2014.”

Each of the 60 retracted articles had at least one author and/or one reviewer “who has been implicated in the peer review” ring, said a separate notice issued by JVC.

Efforts by The Washington Post to locate and contact Chen for comment were unsuccessful.

The whole story is described in a publication called “Retraction Watch” under the headline: “SAGE Publications busts ‘peer review and citation ring.’”

“This one,” it said, “deserves a ‘wow.’”

Update: Some additional information from the SAGE statement: “As the SAGE investigation drew to a close, in May 2014 Professor Nayfeh’s retirement was announced and he resigned his position as Editor-in-Chief of JVC….

Three senior editors and an additional 27 associate editors with expertise and prestige in the field have been appointed to assist with the day-to-day running of the JVC peer review process. Following Professor Nayfeh’s retirement announcement, the external senior editorial team will be responsible for independent editorial control for JVC.”


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25 July, 2014

Invertebrate populations have dropped by 45 percent in the last four decades

"Invertebrate" means "no backbone".  At that rate America has an ample supply of invertebrates -- in Congress. Seriously, though, how can anybody know how many beetles, wasps etc there are?  It's a fantasy.  They might as well have just made the number up  -- which they probably did

Much has been said about the loss of bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species around the world. By current estimates, at least 322 species have gone extinct in the last 500 years. And researchers estimate that 16 to 33 percent of the world’s vertebrate species — animals with developed spinal cords — are currently threatened or endangered. But a new article, published today in Science, paints an even more alarming picture, as scientists have found that the number of individual insects, crustaceans, worms, and spiders decreased by 45 percent on average over the past 40 years — a period in which the global human population doubled.

"We had strong suspicions that the problem was largely with the vertebrates," said Rodolfo Dirzo, an ecologist at Stanford University, in an email to The Verge. "But it was surprising to see this now, also, among the invertebrates," or animals without developed spines. Dirzo calls this loss of animal life "defaunation," and he blames it on humans. "The richness of the animal world of our planet is being seriously threatened by human activities," he said. Many species have gone extinct and the ones that remain — mammals, birds, and insects alike — are showing dramatic declines in their abundance.

In the article, Dirzo and his colleagues reviewed past studies, and compiled a global index of all invertebrate species over the past 40 years. Overall, they found that 67 percent of the world’s invertebrates have declined in numbers by an average of 45 percent. In the UK, for instance, there has been a 30 to 60 percent decline in the number of butterflies, bees, beetles, and wasps. This, the researchers write, is important because too often we measure animal diversity in terms of number of species, or in terms of extinctions. But an animal’s contribution is about more than the mere presence of its species on the planet — it’s also about local shifts in populations that could impact everything from agriculture to human health.


Making Earth a ‘High-Energy Planet’

Electricity for Africa may become a reality

If all goes smoothly, President Obama will be able to sign a landmark bipartisan energy-for-Africa bill when more than 40 African heads of state — all looking to attract more U.S. investment for their economies — convene at the White House for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on Aug. 5 and 6.

Two bills in Congress are waiting in the wings for their high voltage debut — the “Electrify Africa” measure (HR 2548), which has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate’s companion “Energize Africa” bill (S 2508), which is ready for a floor vote. Both bills abandon yesterday’s foreign aid handouts and propose only private sector-based incentives such as loans, guarantees, and political risk insurance as a shock absorber for U.S. businesses willing to enter frontier African markets.

The mere possibility of an energy-for-Africa bill with the president’s signature on it is already sparking angry outbursts from Obama’s political base. That’s bizarre but predictable — congressional action would give Obama a big boost for his June 30, 2013, “Power Africa” initiative, which — amazingly — is an “all of the above” energy program and not one of those weasel-worded “all except fossil fuels” shams the White House usually perpetrates. The White House fact sheet specifically said, “Power Africa will partner with Uganda and Mozambique on responsible oil and gas resources management.” It was silent about coal, which is plentiful in Africa.

When Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz touts his department’s “Beyond the Grid” initiative to encourage greenie-approved off-grid and small-scale energy projects, he takes care to avoid disparaging fossil fuels because they’re part of Obama’s Power Africa plan.

Obama’s Big Green base is furious that a measly president of the United States would dare to thwart their exalted global mission to force people in developing nations to live off-grid with only the energy for two lightbulbs, a fan and a radio — a standard measure of “energy access” used by the U.N.’s callous “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative.

A recent Sierra Club report, “Clean Energy Services for All,” defines energy access for poor nations as living on 0.15 percent of the average Californian’s annual usage, according to several critiques. Sierra Clubbers, please lead by example.

The Sierra Club’s sourpuss misers got a nasty slapdown in June from the Breakthrough Institute, a brainstorming enterprise formed in 2004 by Big Green bad boys Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger. The unknown pair published a provocative essay titled “The Death of Environmentalism” — drubbing everything wrong with mainstream environmentalism — and presented all the dirty laundry at the annual retreat of the Environmental Grantmakers Association. They weren’t unknown afterward.

They have matured wonderfully into welcome thought leaders with their April publication, “Our High Energy Planet — A Climate Pragmatism Project.” In the past I have disparaged some of their more leftward shenanigans, so I offer the following quote from their executive summary as part contrition, part admiration:

“Today, over 1 billion people around the world — 500 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa alone — lack access to electricity. Nearly 3 billion people cook over open fires fueled by wood, dung, coal, or charcoal. This energy poverty presents a significant hurdle to achieving development goals of health, prosperity, and a livable environment.”

I have friends in sub-Saharan Africa, from my days working with leaders of the Congress of Racial Equality, two of whom run CORE Uganda, Fiona Kobusingye and her husband Cyril Boynes. Kobusingye is also an outspoken promoter of DDT sprays as coordinator of Uganda’s Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now Brigade. She is a victim of malaria herself, requiring lifelong medical treatment — I was seated next to Fiona at a 2004 conference in New York City when she suffered an attack and went to a hospital where none of the doctors had ever seen malaria — and she has lost many cherished family members to the disease.

I asked CORE’s national chairman, Roy Innis, how he felt about the two energy-for-Africa bills now in Congress. Although best known for his activism in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, he is also a long-time champion of energy access for the disadvantaged — and author of “Energy Keepers, Energy Killers: The New Civil Rights Battle.”

Innis said, “A short visit to most of Africa reveals a crushing shortage of controlled and developed energy. It appears that on this legislation, HR 2548 and S 2508, we can avoid the usual fights that bogged down the legislative branch. We hope that the executive branch can follow.”

CORE Uganda hopes so in particular. The Ugandan census of 2002 reported that 7.7 percent of households used electricity for lighting (only 2.6 percent of rural households), with 74.8 percent of households using “tadooba,” a form of paraffin candle, for lighting. Most tourist areas need backup generators because of grid failures. In 2002, the network fed by hydroelectric dams on Lake Victoria provided power to only 33 of the 54 districts of Uganda. Things have improved with diesel-fueled power turbines and co-generation from sugar works, bringing most numbers up about 50 percent since 2002. And in February, the Ugandan Ministry of Energy signed a deal with three European — not American — oil companies to develop its petroleum reserves estimated at over 3.5 billion barrels, based on limited drilling and testing.

Assuming that Congress does the right thing and puts an energy-for-Africa bill on Obama’s desk soon, the new law and his Power Africa initiative may together have the momentum to steamroller the would-be energy-starvation despots of the world into the frozen darkness of Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell and lift the Breakthrough Institute’s report title into global reality — “Our High-Energy Planet.”


Property Rights at Stake in EPA’s Water Power Grab

Thanks to the federal government, it soon may become far more difficult to use and enjoy private property. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers want to make a water—and land—grab that should scare everyone.

Under the Clean Water Act, the federal government has jurisdiction over “navigable waters,” which the statute further defines as “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” Property owners often need to get permits if waters covered under the law will be impacted. Therefore, a critical question is what types of “waters” are covered under the CWA. That’s what the EPA and Corps seek to address with a new proposed rule that would define “the waters of the United States.” As expected, the EPA and the Corps are seeking to expand their authority to cover waters never imagined when the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.

For example, the new proposed rule would regulate all ditches, except in narrow circumstances. This even includes man-made ditches. The rule would apply to tributaries that have ephemeral flow. This would include depressions in land that are dry most of the year except when there’s heavy rain.

There’s widespread opposition to the proposed rule. Farmers and ranchers are concerned that the rule could affect normal agricultural practices. Homebuilders could face additional development costs that would likely be passed on to buyers. Counties are concerned because of costly new requirements that could impact municipal storm sewer systems, roadside ditches, among other things.

This broad overreach could have significant costs and delays for permit applicants. In Rapanos v. United States (2006), a major CWA case, Justice Antonin Scalia cited a study highlighting the following costs and delays for one of the major types of permits (Section 404 permits), “The average applicant for an individual permit spends 788 days and $271,596 in completing the process, and the average applicant for a nationwide permit spends 313 days and $28,915—not counting costs of mitigation or design changes.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation launched a national campaign to inform people why the Clean Water Act should be 'ditched.' (Photo: American Farm Bureau Federation Facebook)
The American Farm Bureau Federation launched a national campaign to inform people why the Clean Water Act should be ‘ditched.’ (Photo: American Farm Bureau Federation Facebook)
If the EPA and Corps expand their authority over more waters, property owners will have to secure additional permits. They will have to get permission from federal bureaucrats to enjoy and use their property because of waters that were never intended to be regulated under the CWA. If property owners don’t comply with the law, they could face civil penalties as high as $37,500 per day per violation, or even criminal penalties.

In their craving for more power, the EPA and Corps are ignoring a critical aspect of the CWA: cooperative federalism. Both the states and federal government are supposed to play a role in implementation of the law. Yet, this power grab is an attempt by the federal government to push out state and local governments.

At the start of the CWA it states, “It is the policy of the Congress to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution, to plan the development and use (including restoration, preservation, and enhancement) of land and water resources…” The EPA and Corps are pretending that this important policy doesn’t exist.

The EPA also had to ignore sound science and proper rulemaking to move forward with its power play. The agency developed a draft report entitled Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence. A Scientific Advisory Board was convened to peer review the study, which when finalized would provide the scientific foundation for implementation of the rule.

However, the EPA finalized the proposed rule before the Scientific Advisory Board even met. The EPA defends this action by claiming that the final study will still help inform the final rule. But this is putting the cart before the horse (or the rule before the science). The scientific foundation should inform the proposed rule so that the public can provide informed comments and have a meaningful voice in the process.

The public may be commenting on a proposed rule that seems to be a mere placeholder rather than a real policy proposal, or more likely, a proposal that already reflects the final conclusions of the EPA. The EPA has a strong incentive to avoid making major changes to the draft scientific report and, as a result, the final rule. If major changes are made, the EPA might be forced by law to restart the rulemaking process over.

Congress is taking notice. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a bill (H.R. 5078) that would prohibit implementation of the proposed rule, and legislation (S. 2496) has been introduced in the Senate to prohibit implementation as well. In addition, the FY 2015 House Interior and Environment appropriations bill that passed out of the appropriations committee includes a provision that withholds funds for implementation of the rule.

Ultimately though, it is the responsibility of Congress to define the term “navigable waters” instead of deferring to the EPA and the Corps. History shows these agencies will continue to seek to expand their authority. As with other laws, Congress needs to reassert its authority and rein in agency overreach. Private property rights are at stake.


Another comment on Risbey et al

The more you look at it the stranger the paper becomes.  The fact that it has among its authors two old Warmist warriors with no expertise in climate science may help explain that

The Risbey et al. (2014) "Well-estimated global surface warming in climate projections selected for ENSO phase" is yet another paper trying to blame the recent dominance of La Niña events for the slowdown in global surface temperature warming, the hiatus. This one, however, states that ENSO contributes to the warming when El Niño events dominate. That occurred from the mid-1970s to the late-1990s. Risbey et al. (2014) also has a number of curiosities that make it stand out from the rest. One of those curiosities is that they claim that 4 specially selected climate models (which they failed to identify) can reproduce the spatial patterns of warming and cooling in the Pacific (and the rest of the ocean basins) during the hiatus period, while the maps they presented of observed versus modeled trends contradict the claims.


I’ve read and reread Risbey et al. (2014) a number of times and I can’t find where they identify the “best” 4 and “worst” 4 climate models presented in their Figure 5. I asked Anthony Watts to provide a second set of eyes, and he was also unable to find where they list the models selected for that illustration.

Risbey et al. (2014) identify 18 models, but not the “best” and “worst” of those 18 they used in their Figure 5. Please let me know if I’ve somehow overlooked them. I’ll then strike any related text in this post.

Further to this topic, Anthony Watts sent emails to two of the authors on Friday, July 18, 2014, asking if the models selected for Figure 5 had been named somewhere. Refer to Anthony’s post A courtesy note ahead of publication for Risbey et al. 2014. Anthony has not received replies. While there are numerous other 15-year periods presented in Risbey et al (2014) along with numerous other “best” and “worst” models, our questions pertained solely to Figure 5 and the period of 1998-2012, so it should have been relatively easy to answer the question…and one would have thought the models would have been identified in the Supplementary Information for the paper, but there is no Supplementary Information.

Because Risbey et al. (2014) have not identified the models they’ve selected as “best” and “worst”, their work cannot be verified.


The Risbey et al. (2014) paper Well-estimated global surface warming in climate projections selected for ENSO phase was just published online. Risbey et al. (2014) are claiming that if they cherry-pick a few climate models from the CMIP5 archive (used by the IPCC for their 5th Assessment Report)—that is, if they select specific climate models that best simulate a dominance of La Niña events during the global warming hiatus period of 1998 to 2012—then those models provide a good estimate of warming trends (or lack thereof) and those models also properly simulate the sea surface temperature patterns in the Pacific, and elsewhere.

Those are very odd claims. The spatial patterns of warming and cooling in the Pacific are dictated primarily by ENSO processes and climate models still can’t simulate the most basic of ENSO processes. Even if a few of the models created the warning and cooling spatial patterns by some freak occurrence, the models still do not (cannot) properly simulate ENSO processes. In that respect, the findings of Risbey et al. (2014) are pointless.

Additionally, their claims that the very-small, cherry-picked subset of climate models provides good estimates of the spatial patterns of warming and cooling in the Pacific for the period of 1998-2012 are not supported by the data and model outputs they presented, so Risbey et al. (2014) failed to deliver.

There are a number of other curiosities, too.


The Risbey et al. (2014) abstract reads:

"The question of how climate model projections have tracked the actual evolution of global mean surface air temperature is important in establishing the credibility of their projections. Some studies and the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report suggest that the recent 15-year period (1998–2012) provides evidence that models are overestimating current temperature evolution. Such comparisons are not evidence against model trends because they represent only one realization where the decadal natural variability component of the model climate is generally not in phase with observations. We present a more appropriate test of models where only those models with natural variability (represented by El Niño/Southern Oscillation) largely in phase with observations are selected from multi-model ensembles for comparison with observations. These tests show that climate models have provided good estimates of 15-year trends, including for recent periods and for Pacific spatial trend patterns."

Curiously, in their abstract, Risbey et al. (2014) note a major flaw with the climate models used by the IPCC for their 5th Assessment Report—that they are “generally not in phase with observations”—but they don’t accept that as a flaw. If your stock broker’s models were out of phase with observations, would you continue to invest with that broker based on their out-of-phase models or would you look for another broker whose models were in-phase with observations? Of course, you’d look elsewhere.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any other climate “broker” models to choose from. There are no climate models that can simulate naturally occurring coupled ocean-atmosphere processes that can contribute to global warming and that can stop global warming…or, obviously, simulate those processes in-phase with the real world. Yet governments around the globe continue to invest billions annually in out-of-phase models.

Risbey et al. (2014), like numerous other papers, are basically attempting to blame a shift in ENSO dominance (from a dominance of El Niño events to a dominance of La Niña events) for the recent slowdown in the warming of surface temperatures. Unlike others, they acknowledge that ENSO would also have contributed to the warming from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, a period when El Niños dominated.


The fifth paragraph of Risbey et al. (2014) begins (my boldface):

In the CMIP5 models run using historical forcing there is no way to ensure that the model has the same sequence of ENSO events as the real world. This will occur only by chance and only for limited periods, because natural variability in the models is not constrained to occur in the same sequence as the real world.

Risbey et al. (2014) admitted that the models they selected for having the proper sequence of ENSO events did so by chance, not out of skill, which undermines the intent of their paper. If the focus of the paper had been need for climate models to be in-phase with obseervations, they would have achieved their goal. But that wasn’t the aim of the paper. The concluding sentence of the abstract claims that “…climate models have provided good estimates of 15-year trends, including for recent periods…” when, in fact, it was by pure chance that the cherry-picked models aligned with the real world. No skill involved. If models had any skill, the outputs of the models would be in-phase with observations.


5 million Scottish trees felled for wind farms

ONLY a fraction of Scottish forests felled to make way for wind farms have been replanted, figures show, sparking calls for a ban on new developments.

Forestry Commission statistics reveal that about five million trees – almost one for every person in Scotland – have been cut down to clear space for turbines in the past six years but less than a third of them have been replaced.

Of the 2,510 hectares stripped of woodland to make way for turbines since 2007, just 792 hectares were reforested after construction was completed.

The Scottish Conservatives, who obtained the figures through a Freedom of Information request, claimed the figures are evidence that the Scottish Government is “destroying nature” in a bid to meet its own climate targets, which aim for all the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.

MSP Murdo Fraser, energy spokesman for the party, said: “The SNP is so blindly obsessed with renewable energy that it doesn’t mind destroying another important environmental attribute to make way for it.

“It’s quite astonishing to see almost as many trees have been destroyed as there are people in Scotland.”

The government has hit back at the claims, saying the figures do not represent the full picture.

Environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “We have replanted nearly 800 hectares and have restored significant areas of important open habitat where this is best for the environment. The result is that, of the area felled for wind farms, only 315 hectares of land suitable for another rotation of trees has not been replanted.”

He also pointed out that 31,400 hectares of new forestry was planted around the country in the same six-year period. “That’s a staggering 62 million trees in the ground across Scotland,” he said.

“Scotland is also shouldering the vast majority of tree-planting in Britain, with nearly two and a half times more in Scotland compared to south of the Border.”

Mr Fraser, who has previously voiced his opposition to wind farms, is calling for a year-long moratorium on planning applications for new developments.

The regional MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife said: “The contribution of trees to our environment has been well established through the ages.

“I’m still waiting to see compelling evidence of the contribution wind farms make. They are an expensive, intermittent and unreliable alternative, and not one that it’s worth making this level of sacrifice to ­accommodate.

“If the Scottish Government cooled its ludicrous renewable energy targets, we wouldn’t see this kind of wanton destruction and intrusion on our landscape.”

Mr Wheelhouse defended Scotland’s planning rules, which he said require developers to plant new trees to replace any cut down to make way for wind farms.

He added: “It was the Scottish Government that took a proactive role in protecting Scotland’s forests and woodlands. In 2009, we tightened up the guidance around felling from wind farm developments.

“A key component is to keep any felling to a minimum and compensatory planting undertaken where suitable. Every energy company building wind farms has to comply with this policy. All renewable developments are subject to environmental scrutiny through the planning process and this manages any impacts on the natural environment, landscape and communities.”


Smart Growth Facts vs. Ideology

Debates over smart growth–sometimes known as new urbanism, compact cities, or sustainable urban planning, but always meaning higher urban densities and a higher share of people in multifamily housing–boil down to factual questions. But smart-growth supporters keep trying to twist the arguments into ideological issues.

For example, in response to my Minneapolis Star Tribune article about future housing demand, Thomas Fisher, the dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, writes, “O’Toole, like many conservatives, equates low-density development with personal freedom.” In fact, I equate personal freedom with personal freedom.

Fisher adds, “we [meaning government] should promote density where it makes sense and prohibit it where it doesn’t”; in other words, restrict personal freedom whenever planners’ ideas of what “makes sense” differ from yours. Why? As long as people pay the costs of their choices, they should be allowed to choose high or low densities without interference from planners like Fisher.

Another writer who makes this ideological is Daily Caller contributor Matt Lewis, who believes that conservatives should endorse new urbanism. His weird logic is conservatives want people to love their country, high-density neighborhoods are prettier than low-density suburbs, and people who don’t have pretty places to live will stop loving their country. Never mind that more than a century of suburbanization hasn’t caused people to stop loving their country; the truth is there are many beautiful suburbs and many ugly new urban developments.

Lewis adds, “Nobody I know is suggesting that big government–or the U.N.!–ought to mandate or impose these sorts of development policies.” He apparently doesn’t know many urban planners, and certainly none in Denver, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, the Twin Cities, or other metropolitan areas where big government in the form of regional planning agencies (though not the U.N.) are doing just that. If new urbanism were simply a matter of personal choice, no one would criticize it.

The real issues are factual, not ideological.

Fact #1: Contrary to University of Utah planning professor Arthur Nelson, most people everywhere prefer low-density housing as soon as they have transport that is faster than walking. While a minority does prefer higher densities, the market will provide both as long as there is demand for them.

Fact #2: Contrary to Matt Lewis, American suburbanization did not result from a “post-World War II push for sprawl” coming from “the tax code, zoning, a federally financed highway system, and so on.” Suburbanization began before the Civil War when steam trains could move people faster than walking speed. Most American families abandoned transit and bought cars long before interstate highways–which, by the way, more than paid for themselves with the gas taxes collected from the people who drove on them. Nor did the tax code promote sprawl: Australians build bigger houses with higher homeownership rates in suburbs just as dispersed as America’s without a mortgage interest deduction.

Fact #3: Contrary to Thomas Fisher, low-density housing costs less, not more, than high-density. Without urban-growth boundaries or other artificial restraints, there is almost no urban area in America short of land for housing. Multifamily housing costs more to build, per square foot, than single-family, and compact development is expensive because the planners tend to locate it in areas with the highest land prices. The relative prices in my article–$375,000 for a 1,400-square-foot home in a New Urban neighborhood vs. $295,000 for a 2,400-square-foot home on a large suburban lot–are typical for many smart-growth cities. Compare these eastside Portland condos with these single-family homes in a nearby Portland suburb.

Fact #4: Contrary to Fisher, the so-called costs of sprawl are nowhere near as high as the costs of density. Rutgers University’s Costs of Sprawl 2000 estimates that urban services to low-density development cost about $11,000 more per house than services to high-density development. This is trivial compared with the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars added to home prices in regions whose policies promote compact development.

Fact #5: Contrary to University of Minnesota planning professor Richard Bolan, the best way to reduce externalities such as pollution and greenhouse gases is to treat the source, not try to change people’s lifestyles. For example, since 1970, pollution controls reduced total air pollution from cars by more than 80 percent, while efforts to entice people out of their cars and onto transit reduced pollution by 0 percent.

Fact #6: Contrary to Lewis, suburbs are not sterile, boring places. Suburbanites have a strong sense of community and are actually more likely to engage in community affairs than city dwellers.

Fact #7: Smart growth doesn’t even work. It doesn’t reduce driving: After taking self-selection into account, its effects on driving are “too small to be useful.” It doesn’t save money or energy: Multi-family housing not only costs more, it uses more energy per square foot than single-family, while transit costs more and uses as much or more energy per passenger mile as driving. When planners say smart growth saves energy, what they mean is you’ll live in a smaller house and have less mobility.

Fact #8: If we end all subsidies and land-use regulation, I’ll happily accept whatever housing and transport outcomes result from people expressing their personal preferences. Too many planners want to control population densities and transport choices through prescriptive land-use regulation and huge subsidies to their preferred forms of transportation and housing.

These planners think only government can know what is truly right for other people. Even if you believe that, government failure is worse than market failure and results in subsidies to special interest groups for projects that produce negligible social or environmental benefits.

If urban planners have a role to play, it is to ensure people pay the costs of their choices. Instead, it is planners, rather than economists such as myself, who have become ideological, insisting density is the solution to all problems despite the preferences of 80 percent of Americans for low-density lifestyles.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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, 2014

Mega pesky:  Deep Oceans have been Cooling For The Past 20 Years

In polite scientific language, this study demolishes the Warmist explanation for "missing heat".  At every point of the warmist explanation, the data show the opposite of what that explanation requires.  In addition, and as even I have repeatedly pointed out, the authors note that there is no known mechanism that would cause ocean heat to move in the paradoxical way that Warmists theorize.  It's all BS, to put it in layman's terms

Two of the world’s premiere ocean scientists from Harvard and MIT have addressed the data limitations that currently prevent the oceanographic community from resolving the differences among various estimates of changing ocean heat content.  They point out where future data is most needed so these ambiguities do not persist into the next several decades of change.

As a by-product of that analysis they 1) determined the deepest oceans are cooling, 2) estimated a much slower rate of ocean warming, 3) highlighted where the greatest uncertainties existed due to the ever changing locations of heating and cooling, and 4) specified concerns with previous methods used to construct changes in ocean heat content, such as Balmaseda and Trenberth’s re-analysis (see below). They concluded, “Direct determination of changes in oceanic heat content over the last 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing, but the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize e.g., the apparent “pause" in warming.”

Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) humbly admit that their “results differ in detail and in numerical values from other estimates, but the determining whether any are “correct" is probably not possible with the existing data sets.”

They estimate the changing states of the ocean by synthesizing diverse data sets using models developed by the consortium for Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, ECCO.   The ECCO “state estimates” have eliminated deficiencies of previous models and they claim, “unlike most “data assimilation" products, [ECCO] satisfies the model equations without any artificial sources or sinks or forces. The state estimate is from the free running, but adjusted, model and hence satisfies all of the governing model equations, including those for basic conservation of mass, heat, momentum, vorticity, etc. up to numerical accuracy.”

Their results (Figure 18. below) suggest a flattening or slight cooling in the upper 100 meters since 2004, in agreement with the -0.04 Watts/m2 cooling reported by Lyman (2014).6 The consensus of previous researchers has been that temperatures in the upper 300 meters have flattened or cooled since 2003,4 while Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) found the upper 700 meters still warmed up to 2009.

The deep layers contain twice as much heat as the upper 100 meters, and overall exhibit a clear cooling trend for the past 2 decades. Unlike the upper layers, which are dominated by the annual cycle of heating and cooling, they argue that deep ocean trends must be viewed as part of the ocean’s long term memory which is still responding to “meteorological forcing of decades to thousands of years ago”. If Balmaseda and Trenberth’s model of deep ocean warming was correct, any increase in ocean heat content must have occurred between 700 and 2000 meters, but the mechanisms that would warm that “middle layer” remains elusive.

The detected cooling of the deepest oceans is quite remarkable given geothermal warming from the ocean floor. Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) note, “As with other extant estimates, the present state estimate does not yet account for the geothermal flux at the sea floor whose mean values (Pollack et al., 1993) are of order 0.1 W/m2,” which is small but “not negligible compared to any vertical heat transfer into the abyss.3   (A note of interest is an increase in heat from the ocean floor has recently been associated with increased basal melt of Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier. ) Since heated waters rise, I find it reasonable to assume that, at least in part, any heating of the “middle layers” likely comes from heat that was stored in the deepest ocean decades to thousands of years ago.

Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) emphasize the many uncertainties involved in attributing the cause of changes in the overall heat content concluding, “As with many climate-related records, the unanswerable question here is whether these changes are truly secular, and/or a response to anthropogenic forcing, or whether they are instead fragments of a general red noise behavior seen over durations much too short to depict the long time-scales of Fig. 6, 7, or the result of sampling and measurement biases, or changes in the temporal data density.”

Given those uncertainties, they concluded that much less heat is being added to the oceans compared to claims in previous studies (seen in the table below).  It is interesting to note that compared to Hansen’s study that ended in 2003 before the observed warming pause, subsequent studies also suggest less heat is entering the oceans. Whether those declining trends are a result of improved methodologies, or due to a cooler sun, or both requires more observations.

No climate model had predicted the dramatically rising temperatures in the deep oceans calculated by the Balmaseda/Trenberth re-analysis,13 and oceanographers suggest such a sharp rise is more likely an artifact of shifting measuring systems. Indeed the unusual warming correlates with the switch to the Argo observing system. Wunsch and Heimbach (2013)2 wrote, “clear warnings have appeared in the literature—that spurious trends and values are artifacts of changing observation systems (see, e.g., Elliott and Gaffen, 1991; Marshall et al., 2002; Thompson et al., 2008)—the reanalyses are rarely used appropriately, meaning with the recognition that they are subject to large errors.”3

More specifically Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) warned, “Data assimilation schemes running over decades are usually labeled “reanalyses.” Unfortunately, these cannot be used for heat or other budgeting purposes because of their violation of the fundamental conservation laws; see Wunsch and Heimbach (2013) for discussion of this important point. The problem necessitates close examination of claimed abyssal warming accuracies of 0.01 W/m2 based on such methods (e.g., Balmaseda et al., 2013).” 3  

So who to believe?

Because ocean heat is stored asymmetrically and that heat is shifting 24/7, any limited sampling scheme will be riddled with large biases and uncertainties. In Figure 12 below Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) map the uneven densities of regionally stored heat. Apparently associated with its greater salinity, most of the central North Atlantic stores twice as much heat as any part of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Regions where there are steep heat gradients require a greater sampling effort to avoid misleading results. They warned, “The relatively large heat content of the Atlantic Ocean could, if redistributed, produce large changes elsewhere in the system and which, if not uniformly observed, show artificial changes in the global average.” 3

Furthermore, due to the constant time-varying heat transport, regions of warming are usually compensated by regions of cooling as illustrated in their Figure 15. It offers a wonderful visualization of the current state of those natural ocean oscillations by comparing changes in heat content between1992 and 2011. Those patterns of heat re-distributions involve enormous amounts of heat and that make detection of changes in heat content that are many magnitudes smaller extremely difficult. Again any uneven sampling regime in time or space, would result in “artificial changes in the global average”.

Figure 15 shows the most recent effects of La Nina and the negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The eastern Pacific has cooled, while simultaneously the intensifying trade winds have swept more warm water into the western Pacific causing it to warm. Likewise heat stored in the mid?Atlantic has likely been transported northward as that region has cooled while simultaneously the sub-polar seas have warmed. This northward change in heat content is in agreement with earlier discussions about cycles of warm water intrusions that effect Arctic sea ice, confounded climate models of the Arctic and controls the distribution of marine organisms.

Most interesting is the observed cooling throughout the upper 700 meters of the Arctic. There have been 2 competing explanations for the unusually warm Arctic air temperature that heavily weights the global average. CO2 driven hypotheses argue global warming has reduced polar sea ice that previously reflected sunlight, and now the exposed dark waters are absorbing more heat and raising water and air temperatures. But clearly a cooling upper Arctic Ocean suggests any absorbed heat is insignificant. Despite greater inflows of warm Atlantic water, declining heat content of the upper 700 meters supports the competing hypothesis that warmer Arctic air temperatures are, at least in part, the result of increased ventilation of heat that was previously trapped by a thick insulating ice cover.7 That second hypothesis is also in agreement with extensive observations that Arctic air temperatures had been cooling in the 80s and 90s. Warming occurred after subfreezing winds, re-directed by the Arctic Oscillation, drove thick multi-year ice out from the Arctic.11

Regional cooling is also detected along the storm track from the Caribbean and along eastern USA. This evidence contradicts speculation that hurricanes in the Atlantic will or have become more severe due to increasing ocean temperatures. This also confirms earlier analyses of blogger Bob Tisdale and others that Superstorm Sandy was not caused by warmer oceans.

In order to support their contention that the deep ocean has been dramatically absorbing heat, Balmaseda/Trenberth must provide a mechanism and the regional observations where heat has been carried from the surface to those depths. But few are to be found. Warming at great depths and simultaneous cooling of the surface is antithetical to climate models predictions. Models had predicted global warming would store heat first in the upper layer and stratify that layer. Diffusion would require hundreds to thousands of years, so it is not the mechanism. Trenberth, Rahmstorf, and others have argued the winds could drive heat below the surface. Indeed winds can drive heat downward in a layer that oceanographers call the “mixed-layer,” but the depth where wind mixing occurs is restricted to a layer roughly 10-200 meters thick over most of the tropical and mid-latitude belts. And those depths have been cooling slightly.

The only other possible mechanism that could reasonably explain heat transfer to the deep ocean was that the winds could tilt the thermocline. The thermocline delineates a rapid transition between the ocean’s warm upper layer and cold lower layer. As illustrated above in Figure 15, during a La Nina warm waters pile up in the western Pacific and deepens the thermocline. But the tilting Pacific thermocline typically does not dip below the 700 meters, if ever.8

Unfortunately the analysis by Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) does not report on changes in the layer between 700 meters and 2000 meters. However based on changes in heat content below 2000 meters (their Figure 16 below), deeper layers of the Pacific are practically devoid of any deep warming.

The one region transporting the greatest amount of heat into the deep oceans is the ice forming regions around Antarctica, especially the eastern Weddell Sea where annually sea ice has been expanding.12 Unlike the Arctic, the Antarctic is relatively insulated from intruding subtropical waters (discussed here) so any deep warming is mostly from heat descending from above with a small contribution from geothermal.

Counter-intuitively greater sea ice production can deliver relatively warmer subsurface water to the ocean abyss. When oceans freeze, the salt is ejected to form a dense brine with a temperature that always hovers at the freezing point. Typically this unmodified water is called shelf water. Dense shelf water readily sinks to the bottom of the polar seas. However in transit to the bottom, shelf water must pass through layers of variously modified Warm Deep Water or Antarctic Circumpolar Water. Turbulent mixing also entrains some of the warmer water down to the abyss. Warm Deep Water typically comprises 62% of the mixed water that finally reaches the bottom. Any altered dynamic (such as increasing sea ice production, or circulation effects that entrain a greater proportion of Warm Deep Water), can redistribute more heat to the abyss.14 Due to the Antarctic Oscillation the warmer waters carried by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current have been observed to undulate southward bringing those waters closer to ice forming regions. Shelf waters have generally cooled and there has been no detectable warming of the Warm Deep Water core, so this region’s deep ocean warming is likely just re-distributing heat and not adding to the ocean heat content.

So it remains unclear if and how Trenberth’s “missing heat” has sunk to the deep ocean. The depiction of a dramatic rise in deep ocean heat is highly questionable, even though alarmists have flaunted it as proof of Co2’s power. As Dr. Wunsch had warned earlier, “Convenient assumptions should not be turned prematurely into ‘facts,’ nor uncertainties and ambiguities suppressed.” … “Anyone can write a model: the challenge is to demonstrate its accuracy and precision... Otherwise, the scientific debate is controlled by the most articulate, colorful, or adamant players.”

To reiterate, “the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize e.g., the apparent “pause" in warming.”

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)


Warmist paper was just being wise after the event

 Dr David Whitehouse

This new paper allows great headlines to proclaim that the warming “pause” in global surface temperature is explainable by climate models. As is often the case in climate reporting the details do not back up the headline.

Risbey et al (2014) in Nature Climate Change is yet another paper suggesting that the global surface temperature hiatus of the last 15-years or so is due to changes in the character of the ENSO. But they go a little further and say that once the observational timing of ENSO changes is included in climate models they do a good job. Unfortunately, whilst an interesting and thought provoking paper, it does not support its own conclusion that “climate models have provided good estimates of the 15-year trends for recent periods.”

Climate models have many uses and are essential tools to discover what is going on and, with major caveats, suggest future possibilities. It is well-known that as a whole the CIMP5 ensemble of models does not represent reality that well with only two models coming anywhere near reflecting the hiatus in global surface temperature seen in the last 15-years or so.

With a climate model ensemble that is mainly unrepresentative of reality there are several possibilities for further action. One is to have faith in the models that over longer timescales realities departure from them is temporary. Another is to select those models that best simulate reality and concentrate on them, and the other is to refine the models. Risbey et al (1014) carry out both the latter options.

They selected 18 out of 32 CIMP5 models choosing the ones that had sea surface temperature as a model output. In itself this introduces a selection effect whose influence on subsequent selections of “suitable” models is unknown. Out of those 18 they selected the four best and four worst. The best included ENSO parameters that are in phase with observations. They argue that when the phase of ENSO is got right climate models do represent reality. Unfortunately the evidence they provide for this is not convincing.

If the ENSO with El Nino dominant is having the effect of flattening the global surface temperature of the past 15 years or so then the converse must also be true. ENSO with La Nina dominant would have contributed to the warming seen since about 1980. [Pesky!]

Our lack of understanding of the ENSO process also affects the stated conclusions of this paper. We cannot predict these events with any certainty and we cannot simulate them to any degree of great accuracy. So while there are ENSO components in a climate model, to say that those in the right phase do better could mean nothing. In addition there are other semi-regular changes such as the Atlantic oscillation that might, or might not, be in phase with the observations.

Supplementary information would have helped understand this paper, especially the selection of the models, but unfortunately there are none. This means that given the information in this paper alone it would not be possible to retrace the author’s footsteps.

This paper allows great headlines to be written proclaiming that the “pause” in global surface temperature is explainable by climate models. As is often the case in climate reporting the details do not back up the headline.

What this paper has really done is to draw attention to the limitations of the climate models. One can select subsets of them and argue that they are better than others but the real test is if the Risbey et al (2014) paper has predictive power. In science looking forward is always more powerful than looking back and adjusting models to fit the data.

Risbey et al (2014) say they expect the observed trend to bounce back. So do many others for different reasons. If it does how will we know who is right?


Deficient Chicago infrastructure blamed on climate change

Since there has been no climate change for 17 years, we can KNOW that to be false

Sewage gushed up Lori Burns’s toilet. It swept the floor. It wrecked the water heater, the deep freezer, her mother’s wedding veil.

This basement invasion was the third in five years. Burns, 40, could no longer afford to pay a cleanup crew. So she slipped on polka dotted rain boots, waded into the muck, wrenched out the stand-pipe and watched the brown water drain.

The South Side native, a marketing specialist, estimated damages at $17,000. And that did not include what she could not replace: the family heirlooms, the oriental rugs, her cashmere sweaters. The bungalow had flooded four times from 1985 to 2006, when her parents owned it. Lately, it flooded every other year. Burns felt nature was working against her. In a way, it was.

As Washington still fights over whether or not climate change is real, people across the country are already paying costs scientists ascribe to it — sometimes in unexpected places. You might think about climate change in terms of rising sea levels threatening coastal cities. But all over the Midwest, from Chicago to Indianapolis and Milwaukee, residents face just as many difficult issues as changing weather patterns collide with aging infrastructure. The costs — for governments, insurance companies and homeowners — are measured not only in dollars, but in quality of life.

In Chicago over the past century, downpours that force human waste up pipes and into homes — storms that dump at least 1.5 inches of rain in a single day — have struck the city more often. Annual precipitation in the Midwest grew about 20 percent during the past century. Rains of more than 2.5 inches a day are expected to increase another 50 percent in the next 20 years. That means more flooding — and more clean-up costs for people like Burns.

As the April rain poured, she texted her brother: How much bleach do you have?

On came the snowsuits, goggles and face masks. They dumped bleach on the floor, mopped and reminisced about what they had survived in this basement: a midnight home intruder, the occasional pop-pop of neighborhood gunfire, their parents’ divorce. Here they played Monopoly and watched “The Cosby Show” and learned the truth about Santa Claus.

Soon the silt, as Burns euphemistically called it, was gone. Fans would dry the dampness. The worst was over, it seemed.

In May, a year after sewage swamped Burns’s basement, an insurance giant took to an Illinois courtroom for what might have been a publicity stunt, or what might be a preview of a nationwide battle over who foots the bill for extreme weather events linked to climate change. Farmer’s Insurance Co. sued the city of Chicago for failing to prepare for the effects of global warming.

The city “should have known,” the lawsuit alleged, “that climate change in Cook County has resulted in greater rainfall volume … than pre-1970 rainfall history evidenced.” The storms are not an act of God, the suit claimed, but a carbon-driven reality outlined in Chicago’s own Climate Action Plan, published in 2010.

Last April, sewage water flooded roughly 600 Chicago buildings, according to the lawsuit: “Geysers of sewer water shot out from the floor drains, toilets, showers. … Elderly men and women and young children were forced to evacuate.” That could have been prevented, the company claimed, if Chicago would have remedied an underground storm-water storage that has become, over time, “obsolete.”

“Farmers has taken what we believe is the necessary action to recover payments made on behalf of our customers,” spokesman Trent Frager said in a statement, “for damages caused by what we believe to be a completely preventable issue.”

Two months later, the company dropped the suit — “We hoped that by filing … we would encourage cities and counties to take preventative steps,” Frager said — but not before raising issues that are sure to return to the courts if current climate trends persist.

“The debate we have entered now is: Why does it seem more and more disasters are happening?” said Erwann Michel-Kerjan, executive director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “And, as a nation, who’s supposed to pay for them?”

The National Climate Assessment, released by the Obama administration in May, predicts that the “frequency and intensity” of the Midwest’s heaviest downpours will more than double over the next hundred years. A handful of heavy spring and summer storms, the kind that flood homes, can supply 40 percent of the region’s annual rainfall, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

If weather patterns follow projections, that means trouble for aging urban infrastructures and the cities, like Chicago, that rely on them: “Designs are based upon historical patterns of precipitation and stream flow,” the climate assessment says, “which are no longer appropriate guides.”

The link between climate and flooding in Chicago, however, can’t be summarized with, It’s warmer out, so this storm happened. Inherent uncertainties in science make it difficult to disentangle just what forces play Rainmaker.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which calls itself the world’s largest non-government group science advocacy group, released a report this year called “What We Know,” which offers a nuanced look at climate change and its effects. The report concludes that natural disasters, like floods, are striking harder and more often. But, beyond anecdotes and weather projections, it adds,  it’s hard to link one specific flood to carbon emissions.

Increased storm frequency is particularly problematic in Chicago, where the sewer system was designed to absorb rain nearly 120 years ago. The city’s storm water systems were built on the assumption that the biggest storms happen only once each decade, at a time when the population was much smaller, said Robert Moore, who leads a climate preparation team at the Natural Resources Defense Council in downtown Chicago. “Climate change will only amplify an existing issue.”

The combined sewer system overflows when an inch of rain soaks the city, directing waste into the Chicago River. If more than 1.5 inches of rain fall city-wide in a day, Moore said, it floods basements across town, disrupting lives and bank accounts.

District engineers agree the problem is serious, and they’re building heavily to address it. They’ve seen the data and the changing weather patterns, but don’t think it suggests any particular cause. They don’t blame a man-made Apocalypse.

“Climate change is a political term,” said David St. Pierre, head of Chicago’s Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.“But you can’t ignore that our weather has changed drastically in the past five years.”

The city’s underground storm and wastewater storage can now hold about 2.7 billion gallons of overflow. By 2015, storage should total 7.5 billion gallons, St. Pierre said. By 2029, 17.5 billion gallons.

“I don’t see any overflows happening when that’s done,” he said. “We’re getting this under control, maybe more than any other city in the U.S.”


Britain Won’t Sign New Climate Treaty Unless China, India Agree CO2 Caps

Britain will not sign a global deal on climate change unless it includes commitments from China and India on reducing emissions, the energy and climate change secretary said on the eve of visiting the two countries.

China is the world’s highest emitter of greenhouse gases and India the third. Neither has agreed any cap on emissions. In an interview with The Times, Ed Davey said that there was little point in Britain making great efforts to cut emissions if other countries did not. “If I looked around the world and no one was doing anything I would have to ask myself the question: is it worth us doing anything if no one else is?” he said.

Speaking before meetings in Beijing and Delhi this week to discuss contributions to a global climate deal due to be signed in Paris next year, Mr Davey said: “We won’t do a deal unless these countries come on board. We need a deal that’s applicable to all — that’s what we didn’t get at Kyoto [the 1997 conference in Japan at which binding targets were set for the emissions of industrialised nations].” Mr Davey said that developing countries should be allowed to carry on increasing their emissions for a few years but at a lower rate and with clear targets for when the level should peak and start declining.

“We expect the rich, developed countries to cut aggressively, emerging economies to peak and then decline and the developing countries and the poorest to increase but hopefully at low rates and have a more sustainable development model than we had.”

On China, he said: “The key for them and the world is when they will peak. The earlier the better. I would like it to be 2025 or earlier. If the Chinese were to say ‘we are not going to commit to a peaking point’, I’m not sure you would get a deal.

More HERE 

A Great Plan to Replace the EPA

By Alan Caruba

For years now I have been saying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be eliminated and its powers given to the fifty states, all of which,have their own departments of environmental protection. Until now, however, there has been no plan put forth to do so.

Dr. Jay Lehr has done just that and his plan no doubt will be sent to the members of Congress and the state governors. Titled “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency” it should be read by everyone who, like Dr. Lehr, has concluded that the EPA was a good idea when it was introduced in 1971, but has since evolved into a rogue agency threatening the U.S. economy, attacking the fundamental concept of private property, and the lives of all Americans in countless and costly ways.

Dr. Lehr is the Science Director and Senior Fellow of The Heartland Institute, for whom I am a policy advisor. He is a leading authority on groundwater hydrology and the author of more than 500 magazine and journal articles, and 30 books. He has testified before Congress on more than three dozen occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the federal government and with many foreign countries. The Institute is a national nonprofit research and education organizations supported by voluntary contributions.

Ironically, he was among the scientists who called for the creation of the EPA and served on many of the then-new agency’s advisory councils. Over the course of its first ten years, he helped write a significant number of legislative bills to create a safety net for the environment.

As he notes in his plan, “Beginning around 1981, liberal activist groups recognized EPA could be used to advance their political agenda by regulating virtually all human activities regardless of their impact on the environment. Politicians recognized they could win votes by posing as protectors of the public health and wildlife. Industries saw a way to use regulations to handicap competitors or help themselves to public subsidies. Since that time, not a single environmental law or regulation has passed that benefited either the environment or society.”

“The takeover of EPA and all of its activities by liberal activists was slow and methodical over the past 30 years. Today, EPA is all but a wholly owned subsidiary of liberal activist groups. Its rules account for about half of the nearly $2 trillion a year cost of complying with all national regulations in the U.S. President Barack Obama is using it to circumvent Congress to impose regulations on the energy sector that will cause prices to ‘skyrocket.’ It is a rogue agency.”

Dr. Lehr says that “Incremental reform of EPA is simply not an option.”  He's right.

“I have come to believe that the national EPA must be systematically dismantled and replaced by a Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental protection agencies. Those agencies in nearly all cases long ago took over primary responsibility for the implementation of environmental laws passed by Congress (or simply handed down by EPA as fiat rulings without congressional vote or oversight.”

Looking back over the years, Dr. Lehr notes that “The initial laws I helped write have become increasingly draconian, yet they have not benefited our environment or the health of our citizens. Instead they suppress our economy and the right of our citizens to make an honest living. It seems to me, and to others, that this is actually the intention of those in EPA and in Congress who want to see government power expanded without regard to whether it is needed to protect the environment or public health.”

Eliminating the EPA would provide a major savings by eliminating 80% of its budget. The remaining 20% could be used to run its research labs and administer the Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental agencies. “The Committee would determine which regulations are actually mandated in law by Congress and which were established by EPA without congressional approval.”

Dr. Lehr estimates the EPA’s federal budget would be reduced from $8.2 billion to $2 billion. Staffing would be reduced from more than 15,000 to 300 and that staff would serve in a new national EPA headquarters he recommends be “located centrally in Topeka, Kansas, to allow the closest contact with the individual states.” The staff would consist of six delegate-employees from each of the 50 states.”

“Most states,” says Dr. Lehr, “will enthusiastically embrace this plan, as their opposition to EPA’s ‘regulatory train wreck’ grows and since it gives them the autonomy and authority they were promised when EPA was first created and the funding to carry it out.”

The EPA was a good idea when it was created, the nation’s air and water needed to be cleaned, but they have been at this point. Since then, the utterly bogus “global warming”, now called “climate change”, has been used to justify a torrent of EPA regulations. The science the EPA cites as justification is equally tainted and often kept secret from the public.

“It’s time for the national EPA to go,” says Dr. Lehr and I most emphatically agree. “All that is missing is the political will.


The EPA takes aim at Tesla, electric cars

The cornerstone of personal independence and commerce in the modern world is motorized mobility — the car. Ever since Henry Ford’s Model T revolutionized travel in the United States over a hundred years ago, people have relied on the automobile for virtually every personal interaction and business expenditure. Today, the car may very well be at the precipice of its evolutionary leap into the 21st century, and Obama’s regulatory state could kill it on arrival.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, has been a pioneer in the development of electric cars that are as practical as they are attractive. Tesla cars are inherently American: efficient, sleek, fast, and, well, sexy. Everything we look for in the vehicles that represent such an enormous part of the American experience.

Recent stories have revealed Musk’s plan to release a $35,000 Tesla model with the capability of traveling more than 200 miles per charge — or about double what the unattractive, euro-like Nissan Leaf can travel — said to possess the amenities and attractiveness of the current, far more expensive Tesla models. A top-end electric car for the every-man. If achieved successfully, this may mark the beginning of the commonly used exhaust-free, electric automobile. What a glorious achievement for the environmentalist left! … Right?

Well, not quite.

As one can easily deduce, the electric car requires electricity. For electricity to be a more efficient way to power said electric car over, say, petrol fuels, it needs to be available in inexpensive abundance. That’s the non-starter for the EPA and the environmental extremist allies of the Obama administration.

Most American energy is generated by coal and natural gas. Coal is already on its way out. Regardless of the resource’s ability to power the nation for over 500 years at current energy usage rates, the EPA has recently laid down a regulation forcing all plants to reduce emissions by 30 percent — a crippling blow to an already suffering industry. The regulations may actually work far better, and worse, than expected. They very well reduce emissions from power generated by coal by 100 percent when the industry is unable to afford the amazing costs of retrofitting plants with new government-regulated technology. They may also, ironically, kill an industry that actually lures the American public away from the gasoline-fired automobile that the same regulatory clear-cutters want to do away with.

If energy prices skyrocket, as Obama said would be an inevitable outcome of his environmental policies, there is no practical purpose to investing in an electric car at any price point.

The free market could be ready to be rid of the carbon-puffing car and the alarmist, reactionary left may have already killed it upon arrival.

What exactly does the Obama administration want for the future of American energy? The market knows what it wants, the people know what they want. But it seems like the environmentalist radicals behind the Obama administration’s energy and environment public policies have an indiscriminate taste to destroy, rather than build for the future.

Progress is just over the horizon, only the self-titled “progressives” stand in the way.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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23 July, 2014

Record high global temperature in June a lie

Drawing on NOAA data, it is asserted below that we did have a record high global temperature in June.  But the "record" temperature exceeded the previous high by only one twentieth of one degree, a figure that would be non-trivial only if it were repeated frequently.   More importantly, it is well outside the accuracy inherent in the data.  Temperature measurement is very spotty worldwide with large areas such as China, Russia and Africa having very few data sources. So a great deal of the "data" used to calculate world temperature is in fact "interpolations", in plain language guesses.  So one immidiately suspects that the guesses were simply more expansive in June.

And the U.S. temperature data strongly supports that suspicion.  The USA by far has the best temperature record.  The measurements are not perfect.  They are affected by siting problems in many cases but there are so many meassuring stations that interpolations are rarely needed.  So what does out best source of uninterpolated data show?  You can see it on the map below.  The USA was mostly one big COOL spot!  QED, as they used to say.  The global data is fudged

A minor source of amusement is that the NOAA report that formed the basis for the article below tabulates national temperatures for a number of nations, including such places as Latvia,  but does NOT give U.S. average temperatures!  I wonder why?

Last month was a scorcher for global temperatures with warmth over land and sea breaking records for June while sea-surface temperatures posted their largest departure from long-term averages for any month.

Combined average temperatures over land and sea were 0.72 degrees above the 20th century average of 15.5 degrees, making it the hottest June and adding to the record May and equal record April, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

More striking for climatologists, though, were the sea-surface temperatures. These came in 0.64 degrees above the 20th century average of 16.4 degrees – the first time any month had exceeded the long-run norm by more than 0.6 degrees.

Parts of all major ocean basins notched their warmest June, with almost all the Indian Ocean and regions off south-eastern Australia the hottest on record.

An El Nino event remains about a 70 per cent chance of forming during the northern summer, which could see more records tumble. The weather pattern sees the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean becoming relatively warm compared with western regions, and typically brings hotter, drier than usual conditions to south-east Asia and Australia.

Climate scientists say man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are trapping more solar heat and leading to the global warming that increasing the likelihood that hot rather than cold records will be broken.

The first half of the year tied 2002 as the third-warmest on record for land and sea-surface temperatures, NOAA said.


Myths Busted at Climate Change Conference

Attendees of The Heartland Institute's 9th International Conference on Climate Change held in Las Vegas from July 7-9, "Just Don't Wonder About Global Warming, Understand It," heard some of the world's leading climate scientists and researchers discuss the latest state of global warming science, including questions of whether manmade global warming will harm plants, animals, or human welfare. Eight hundred participants gathered to hear 64 speakers from 12 different countries despite the fierce summer heat of Las Vegas. At one point 4,000 individuals were listening to the conference as it was streamed live from Las Vegas.

Speakers addressed myths of climate alarmism, specifically refuting the often-repeated assertion that 97 percent of scientists disagree with so-called global warming skeptics. On the contrary, speakers noted, only 0.5 percent of the authors of 11,944 scientific papers on climate and related topics over the past 21 years have said they agree most of the warming since 1950 was manmade, and that is only one of the necessary preconditions for an asserted global warming crisis. Speakers also cited  the Remote Sensing Systems satellite record which shows there now has been no global warming for 17 years and 10 months.

Busting Myths

During the opening dinner, meteorologist Joe Bastardi explained extreme weather events are not becoming any more frequent or severe as the planet warms. To the contrary, Bastardi documented how hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other extreme weather events are declining in frequency and severity. To the extent there are short-term increases in extreme weather events at some places within the overall global decline, Bastardi showed those follow weather and climate patterns that existed long before recent global warming.

During the breakfast session on Day 2, Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore chronicled the radicalization of once-noble environmentalist groups. Standing before photographs of himself leading environmental protests and provocative actions against whalers and other corporate entitites, Moore explained how Greenpeace and other environmental activist groups are now harming human health and welfare by demanding so many resources be dedicated to the fictitious global warming crisis. True environmental progress would be made fighting for land conservation and other real environmental concerns rather than trumped-up global warming claims, Moore explained.

Patrick Michaels, a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and former program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society, explained during the Day 2 luncheon how government research grants are promoting the false notion of an alarmist consensus. Large government research grants are handed out almost uniformly to scientists who will promote the idea of global warming crisis, which ensures more budgetary dollars for government agencies addressing the topic and subsequently more research grants for the participating scientists, he noted.

Presenting the Science

The breakout sessions featured additional dozens of compelling presentations.

Howard Hayden, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Connecticut, demonstrated how all energy sources have environmental drawbacks. Hayden, moreover, showed scientifically how wind, solar, and other renewable power sources simply cannot meet the nation’s energy demands. Wind and solar power require tremendous amounts of land to produce even a very small amount of electricity. Although there may be room for expensive renewable power at the margins, global warming strategies that aim to shut down conventional power will not find enough replacement renewable power to keep the lights on, Hayden demonstrated. True land conservationists, said Hayden, are among the most vocal opponents of wind and solar power facilities.

Dr. John Dunn, a medical doctor, attorney, and advisor for the American Council on Science and Health, debunked EPA assertions that restrictions on power plant emissions will save lives and benefit human health. Dunn documented that human mortality rates are much higher during cold spells and winter months than during heat waves and summer months. Addressing EPA’s claims that tangential reductions in particulate matter and other emissions will save lives, Dunn showed that EPA’s assertions are totally unsupported and defy comprehensive health and mortality data. Also worth noting, EPA reports power plant emissions of the Six Principal Pollutants have already declined 70 percent even without EPA’s proposed carbon dioxide restrictions. Existing rules and regulations will reduce those emissions even further, with or without the proposed carbon dioxide restrictions.

Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James M. Taylor provided a concise and compelling summary of the scientific evidence for modest instead of severe global warming. Taylor’s presentation, along with all of the ICCC-9 presentations, was videotaped and is available online. Taylor gave a lively 10-minute talk with visual-friendly charts and graphs to share with family, friends, and acquaintances who would like to learn more about the global warming debate.

Denying Blessings of Modernity

At the final panel discussion, "Panel 21: Global Warming as a Social Movement," on Wednesday afternoon, the distinguished panelists included E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., founder and national spokesman of the Cornwall Alliance; Paul Driessen, J.D., a senior advisor to the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise; and Peter Ferrara, J.D., a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute. Serving as moderator was Minnesota State Rep. Pat Garofalo.

Panelists Beisner, Driessen, and Ferrara all argued climate alarmists tend to be radical environmentalists who view people primarily as polluters and consumers who use up Earth's resources and poison the planet in the process, never seeing free people as voluntarily being good stewards of natural resources. Through the manmade global warming alarm, activists have used governments to deny affordable and reliable energy and other modern blessings to the developing world, panelists noted.


Only 20% Think Debate About Global Warming Is Over

Voters strongly believe the debate about global warming is not over yet and reject the decision by some news organizations to ban comments from those who deny that global warming is a problem.

Only 20% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the scientific debate about global warming is over, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Sixty-three percent (63%) disagree and say the debate about global warming is not over. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters think there is still significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming, while 35% believe scientists generally agree on the subject.

The BBC has announced a new policy banning comments from those who deny global warming, a policy already practiced by the Los Angeles Times and several other media organizations.  But 60% of voters oppose the decision by some news organizations to ban global warming skeptics. Only 19% favor such a ban, while slightly more (21%) are undecided.

But then 42% believe the media already makes global warming appear to be worse than it really is. Twenty percent (20%) say the media makes global warming appear better than it really is, while 22% say they present an accurate picture. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

Still, this is an improvement from February 2009 when 54% thought the media makes global warming appear worse than it is. Unchanged, however, are the 21% who say the media presents an accurate picture.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 7-8, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Consistent with earlier polling is the finding that 60% of voters consider global warming a serious problem, with 37% who describe it as a Very Serious one.  Thirty-five percent (35%) disagree and don’t believe global warming is that serious a problem, with 14% who say it is Not At All Serious.

But even among those voters who consider global warming a Very Serious problem, 57% say the debate is not yet over. These voters by a 49% to 34% margin also oppose the decision by some news organizations to ban global warming skeptics.

The older the voter, generally speaking, the more likely they are to believe that the debate about global warming is not over.

Most voters across all demographic categories say the debate is not over. Most also oppose the decision by some media outlets to ban global warming critics.

Men and those over 40 are more skeptical of the media’s coverage of global warming than women and younger voters are.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of Republicans and a plurality (45%) of voters not affiliated with either major political party believe the media makes global warming appear to be worse than it really is. Just 22% of Democrats agree. But Democrats also believe much more strongly than the others that global warming is a serious problem.

Twenty-seven percent (27%) of voters in President Obama’s party think the scientific debate about global warming is over, a view shared by only 12% of GOP voters and 16% of unaffiliateds.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of all voters say they have been following recent news reports about global warming at least somewhat closely, with 33% who are following Very Closely.

Because congressional Republicans oppose most of the initiatives he has proposed, the president has signaled that he is prepared to take whatever actions he can alone to deal with a problem he attributes largely to certain human activities. However, just 30% of voters think the president should take action alone if necessary to deal with global warming.  Twice as many (59%) say the federal government should only do what the president and Congress jointly agree on.

While most voters have expressed concern about global warming for years, only 41% are willing to pay more in taxes or in utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming. That includes 23% who are willing to pay no more than $100 extra a year.


Understanding of ice age still developing

Brand new research published today (Friday 27th June 2014) in the journal Nature Specific Reports has provided a major new theory on the cause of the ice age that engulfed large parts of the Northern Hemisphere 2.6 million years ago.

The study, which was co-authored by Dr Thomas Stevens, of the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, discovered a previously unknown mechanism by which the joining of North and South America changed the salinity of the Pacific Ocean and caused substantial ice sheet growth across the Northern Hemisphere.

This change in salinity encouraged ice to form, which caused a change in wind patterns, leading to intensified monsoons. The monsoons provided moisture that enabled an increase in snowfall and the growth of major ice sheets, some reaching 3km thick.

The team of researchers analysed deposits of wind-blown dust known as red clay that accumulated between six million and two and half million years ago in north central China, adjacent to the Tibetan plateau, and used them to reconstruct changing monsoon precipitation and temperature.

“Until now, the cause of the Quaternary ice age had been a hotly debated topic”, said Dr Stevens. “Our findings suggest a significant link between ice sheet growth, the monsoon and the closing of the Panama Seaway, as North and South America drifted closer together. This provides us with a major new theory on the origins of the ice age, and ultimately our current climate system.”

Astonishingly, the research team discovered there was a strengthening of the monsoon during global cooling, rather than the intense rainfall that has usually been associated with warmer climates.

Dr Stevens added: “This led us to discover a previously unknown interaction between plate tectonic movements in the Americas and dramatic changes in global temperature. The intensified monsoons created a positive feedback cycle, promoting more global cooling, more sea ice and even stronger precipitation, culminating in the spread of huge glaciers across the Northern Hemisphere.”


Australia shoots down climate lobby’s scare mongering

By Marita Noon

Thursday, July 17 was a big news day. The world was shocked to learn that a Russian-made missile shot down a Malaysian Airlines jet with 298 on board as it flew over Ukraine en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. Though flight 17 eclipsed the news cycle, there was another thing shot down on July 17.

Almost a year ago, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott won a landslide election with a nearly single-issue campaign: repeal the carbon tax. On July 17, he made good on that promise, as the Australian Senate voted, 39 to 32, to abolish the “world’s biggest carbon tax”—a tax that was reported to “do nothing to address global warming, apart from imposing high costs on the local economy.”

Australia was one of the first major countries, outside of the European Union, to adopt a carbon price—first suggested in 2007 and passed under Labour Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2011. Gillard’s campaign promised: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” While she attempted to brand it a carbon price, not a “tax,” Sinclair Davidson, a professor in the school of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT University, said: “The electorate had a very specific understanding of her words” and perceived it as a broken promise.

Australia’s carbon tax, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), was “recognized by the International Energy Agency as model legislation for developed countries.” The WSJ reports that when Australia’s carbon tax was passed, the Brookings Institution “described Australia as an ‘important laboratory and learning opportunity.’”

So, what do we learn from the “laboratory” the now-failed “model legislation” offered?

First, the WSJ states: “The public hates it.” The (UK) Telegraph calls the tax: “one of the most unsuccessful in history” and points out that it is “unique in that it generated virtually no revenue for the Australian Treasury due to its negative impact on productivity; contributed to the rising costs that have taken the gloss off the country’s resources boom; and essentially helped to bring down Ms. Gillard’s former Government.” The Telegraph, in an article titled: “Australia abandons disastrous green tax on emissions,” adds that the tax failed in “winning over voters who faced higher costs passed on by the companies that had to pay for it.” In Slate, Ariel Bogel claims the 2011 bill required “about 350 companies to pay a penalty for their greenhouse gas emissions.”

While Australia is, as the WSJ put it: “the world’s first developed nation to repeal carbon laws that put a price on greenhouse-gas emissions,” it is not the only one to back away from such policies. New Zealand has weakened its emissions trading scheme; Japan has retreated from its pledges to cut greenhouse emissions and instead committed to a rise in emissions; Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol in 2011; England, where “the bill for green policies is rising,” has “so far resisted calls to expand tax on carbon emissions”; the European Union carbon emissions trading scheme­—the biggest in the world and the heart of Europe’s climate-change program—is in dire straits; and, just the day after Australia’s news was announced, South Korea—whose planned 2015 emissions trading market launch would make it the world’s second largest—hinted at an additional delay due to projected costs to businesses.

The Telegraph offers this summary: “Carbon trading mechanisms and green taxes have largely been a failure elsewhere and especially so in Europe where they have dragged on investment and threatened long-term energy security.”

These are important lessons in light of the renewed push for a carbon tax in the U.S.  Consider the partnership of President George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, who are, together, who are calling for a climate tax.

According to the WSJ, the World Bank called Australia’s repeal “one of the biggest international threats to the rollout of similar programs elsewhere.” The climate lobby is concerned as “Australia’s vote shows that the real obstacle to their dreams of controlling more of the world’s economy is democratic consent.”

In the U.S., similar efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by increasing costs to emitters, and therefore consumers—in our case, cap and trade—failed to achieve “democratic consent” even when

Democrats had control. The people didn’t want it. So, the Obama Administration now is trying to go around Congress with onerous rules and regulations on emissions.

As in the U.S., a carbon tax—or cap and trade—is not the only policy increasing energy costs to Australian consumers. In the U.S., we have the Renewable Portfolio Standard; Australia has its Renewable Energy Target (RET). Both require the addition of expensive wind-and-solar energy.

Jennifer Marohasy, Ph.D., who worked for 12 years as a scientist for the Queensland government, told me: “Of course while the carbon tax needed to be repealed, its abolition will go only some way to reducing pressures on Australian businesses and households. The so-called Clean Energy Act 2011 is part of a tsunami of regulation and legislation introduced over recent years that has seen the average electricity price in Australia increase by 70% in real terms. Next in line must be the mandatory RET, a government-legislated requirement on electricity retailers to source a specific proportion of total electricity sales from renewable energy sources including wind and solar, with the extraordinary costs serving as a hidden tax—paid by all electricity users.”

In the Australian Financial Review, Alan Moran, an economist specializing in regulatory matters, in particular covering energy, global warming, housing, transport, and competition issues, and Director of the Institute of Public Affairs’ Deregulation Unit, agrees that the carbon tax is just one of the burdens holding down the Australian economy. He sees a cascade of programs for support of high-cost renewables and penalties for fossil-fuel use and “a bewildering array of subsidies and programs.”

Both see the RET as the bigger issue. Marohasy says: “In short, repeal of the carbon tax is a big symbolic win. But it’s mostly just window-dressing: to appease the masses. In the background, proponents of anthropogenic global warming who dominate our political class still very much control the levers of government and intend to continue to terrorize the population with claims of catastrophic global warming, while consolidating their rent-seeking through the RET.” She explained: “Money collected from the carbon tax went to government, money collected through the RET largely goes to the global warming industry.” Which is why some in the Australian Senate agreed to vote for the repeal—as long as the RET isn’t touched.

However, Abbott has stated: “All of us should want to see lower prices and plainly at the moment the renewable energy target is a very significant impact on higher power prices.” Time will tell how Abbott fares in the RET battle. But for now, he’s given the world a “learning opportunity” on climate change and energy policy.

Meanwhile, the climate lobby resorts to hyperbole to push its scare-mongering tactics. In closing her piece in Slate, Bogle whines: “As someone who has to live in the quickly cooking world Abbott leaves behind…” Perhaps she’s missed the data that the planet’s predicted warming hasn’t happened—despite ever-increasing CO2 emissions. According to satellite records, there has been no warming in almost 18 years.

May America learn from, as the Brookings Institution observed, the “important laboratory” of Australia’s foray into climate schemes.


'Sure Hope So': Harry Reid Wants to Pass Carbon Tax Bill After Midterms

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was asked Monday if Democrats will move a carbon tax bill after the midterm election.

"I sure hope so," he told a "clean energy" conference call.

The reporter asked Reid what would change after the midterm to put carbon tax legislation back on the table:

"Well, I think what's happening in the world," Reid replied. "I mean we have -- as we speak, we have wildfires raging in five or six different states in the west. I mean raging.

"I heard in a briefing I had this morning, a big fire in Washington is zero percent contained -- zero. You can see the fires burning in the west from satellites miles above the sky. It's -- so there are lots of reasons why we need to take another look at this."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is among the Democrats pushing for a carbon tax, which would raise the price of energy for everyone.

In a speech on the Senate floor last month, Whitehouse said the federal tax code should be used to address climate change:

"I believe carbon-driven climate change hurts our economy, damages our infrastructure, and harms public health," Whitehouse said on June 25. "Yet those costs are not factored into the cost of fossil fuels. That means the cost of the pollution has been borne by the public.

"I believe we should adopt a carbon fee to correct this market failure and return all its revenue to the American people..."

A carbon tax bill won't advance unless Democrats retake the House and retain control of the Senate in November. With that goal in mind, President Obama was heading west on Tuesday to raise money for his party.



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22 July, 2014

This weathercaster has earned farmers’ trust. He also believes climate change doesn’t exist

This is a rather idiotic reporter from WaPo --  A business reporter.  Seems to think every Warmist believes any bad weather is part of AGW trend.  Reporter goes to absurd lengths to make skeptic look like lone extremist.  Despite all peer reviewed studies and data showing extremes having no trend or declining

Bledsoe has cultivated a strong following among the tough men and women with whom he’s able to identify.

“We give this guy a little more credence than we do others because he comes from a ranch family,” says Larry Fillmore, who owns some 15,000 acres of high plains, and has been pasturing his herd in South Dakota through the drought. “He knows the environment, and he knows the problems we have.” His neighbor, Dwight Watson, nods agreement. “It’s more than just a computer.”

That’s fine, when Bledsoe is telling farmers when to plant and what kind of winter to expect. But inevitably, he gets asked whether any of the withering dryness they’ve been through over the past decade has to do with that thing they’ve been hearing about on the news — global warming. His answer: Not the man-made kind.

“If you go back through history, there were droughts that lasted decades. Something drove the Anastasi out of the Southwest,” Bledsoe explains, talking about how tree ring data suggests the late 1800s were a dry time too. “If someone comes to me and says, ‘Do you believe man is changing and driving our climate and how it works?’ I’m just not there, because I see other drivers as being much bigger governors in where we go.”

Even as the rest of the nation has started coming around to the idea that human activity has contributed to the extreme weather of the past few years, Bledsoe is among the holdouts, spreading climate skepticism in person, on the air, and online — and he’s not alone. According to one 2011 survey, more than a third of weather casters deny that pumping carbon dioxide into the air has anything to do with the increasingly extreme conditions they’re reporting. And they’re as close to scientific expertise as many households get.

The meteorologist profession has cast a weather eye on the idea of anthropogenic climate change ever since the 1980s, when it was a crackpot theory in a NASA lab. Doubts really took root in the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton first invited weathercasters to the White House, to try to win their support for the U.S.’ bid to negotiate a global treaty on climate change (a trick that President Barack Obama tried recently as well). As the Columbia Journalism Review chronicled, many of them reacted negatively to the idea of a politician getting them to buy into a scientific conclusion and a policy prescription, all at once.

“Climate change and global warming are so value-laden,” says Bob Henson, a spokesperson at the Boulder, Colo.-based University Center for Atmospheric Research, who published a history of broadcast meteorology in 2010. “People think it’s not referring to the physical effect so much as it is to the policy response.”

Henson says the outright refusal to acknowledge global warming has softened somewhat in recent years. At the annual meeting of the American Meteorologists Association, the issue has been so contentious that attendees requested small group sessions to talk through it, but this year the voices of climate denial weren’t as loud. “The dialogue is much more, ‘what does it mean?’” Henson says.

That may have something to do with an outreach campaign by weathercasters able to model how to talk about climate change effectively, even in the 2-minute weekend forecast format. Since climate is a complicated and nuanced subject, broadcasters are also encouraged to take their message  to Facebook or blogs, where they can explain at more length.

When Bledsoe blogs, though, his message just becomes more anti-climate change, not less. And often, because of the pairing of climate science and the policies deemed necessary to address it, that’s what his conservative rural audience wants to hear. On his blog last November, he recounted being asked about climate change during a speaking engagement at a California Beef Improvement Association conference in Reno, Nev.

“I told them that I think it is a economic and political agenda that has nothing to do with climate or protecting the environment,” Bledsoe wrote. “I told them it has to do with taxes and control…They said it was refreshing to hear that from a scientist, as almost all of those that attended believe it is nothing but a hoax.” Bledsoe opposes Colorado’s renewable energy mandates, which he says will raise electricity costs for drought-stricken farmers, and it’s easier to do that when you don’t think there’s anything wrong with the status quo.

But Bledsoe isn’t just pandering. He also feels he’s well-grounded in the science, having closely studied ocean currents, which he says are stronger drivers of the current warming trend.

“I see both sides fudging the data. What I try to do is take all that out of the way, and show them what I believe are the natural drivers of our climate, because our climate has been changing forever,” Bledsoe says. “The misinformation campaign is being run at a high level, and a high speed, and most people are too busy to do the research for themselves.”

That’s why Mike Nelson, chief meteorologist at ABC 7NEws in Denver, thought Bledsoe was worth trying to win over. Two summers ago, he invited the younger weathercaster to meet with climate scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, so they could hash out the science. A healthy exchange of opinions followed, but both parties went home with their minds unchanged.

“Brian Bledsoe is the one I respect the most — he’s not just throwing back the normal Fox News talking points,” Nelson says. “He’s just unconvinced that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions is going to be outweighed by these deep ocean circulations.” Nelson figured they’d agree to disagree, and the two haven’t talked since.

Ultimately, Bledsoe probably isn’t harming the farmers who trust his advice — in the medium term, his forecasts look similar to those of someone who thinks the greenhouse effect is causing the longer dry spells, not ocean currents. He’s still telling people in Southeast Colorado to buckle down for another couple decades of drought, and not to have any illusions that the rainfall of the 80s and 90s will return anytime soon.

“The thing that’s got me as much traction as it has, is I’ve been right,” Bledsoe says.”I want to show you what the weather’s going to be like going forward, so you can deal with it. It’s knock-down, drag-out depending on who you talk to. And I hate that, because it really sucks the science out of it.”


Hunt for oil and gas to begin off East Coast

The Obama administration opened up the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration for the first time in nearly four decades on Friday.

The announcement from Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) allows the use of air guns and sonic sensors to search off of the East Coast.

It is a major step toward allowing future drilling in the Atlantic, which has remained off-limits for over 30 years.

While the decision doesn't guarantee that lease sales for drilling in Atlantic waters will be included in the Interior Department's five-year plan for 2017-2022, it is a step in that direction.

"After thoroughly reviewing the analysis, coordinating with Federal agencies and considering extensive public input, the bureau has identified a path forward that addresses the need to update the nearly four-decade-old data in the region while protecting marine life and cultural sites,” acting BOEM Director Walter D. Cruickshank said.

Geophysical research companies contracted by the oil and gas industry will still need to apply for individual permits before conducting tests and undergo strict environmental reviews.

Still, the decision is a win for industry, which will get a chance to prove the potential in the Atlantic for oil, gas, and renewable energy.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, expressed frustration with the administration for allowing testing, which they argue is harmful to marine life in the Atlantic.

"For more than 30 years, the Atlantic coast has been off limits to offshore drilling. Today, our government appears to be folding to the pressure of Big Oil and its big money," said OCEANA spokeswoman Claire Douglass.

Green groups say the tests could kill thousands of marine mammals, injuring dolphins and endangered whales.

The Natural Resources Defense Council called seismic testing the "gateway drug to offshore drilling."

While the decision favors the industry, oil and gas companies aren't getting everything they want.

The American Petroleum Institute said Interior is keeping in place "arbitrary" restrictions that "lack scientific support," and that will "discourage" exploration.

BOEM doesn't expect surveys to begin until early next year but will consider permit applications as they come in.

After a permit is issued, the contractor will have one year from that date to conduct tests.

The decision comes after the release of an environmental impact study in February that detailed precautions companies should take when conducting tests.


The sun has gone quiet…solar cycle 24 continues to rank as one of the weakest cycles more than a century


Ten days ago, the sun was quite active and peppered with several large spots. Now the sun has gone quiet and it is nearly completely blank. It appears that the solar maximum phase for solar cycle 24 may have been reached and it is not very impressive. It looks as if this solar cycle is “double-peaked” (see below) which is not all that uncommon; however, it is somewhat rare that the second peak in sunspot number during the solar max phase is larger than the first. In fact, this solar cycle continues to rank among the weakest on record which continues the recent trend for increasingly weaker cycles. The current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 which had a maximum of 64.2 in February of 1906. Going back to 1755, there have been only a few solar cycles in the previous 23 that have had a lower number of sunspots during its maximum phase. For this reason, many solar researchers are calling this current solar maximum a “mini-max”. Solar cycle 24 began after an unusually deep solar minimum that lasted from 2007 to 2009. In fact, in 2008 and 2009, there were almost no sunspots, a very unusual situation during a solar minimum phase that had not happened for almost a century.

Consequences of a weak solar cycle

First, the weak solar cycle has resulted in rather benign “space weather” in recent times with generally weaker-than-normal geomagnetic storms. By all Earth-based measures of geomagnetic and geoeffective solar activity, this cycle has been extremely quiet. However, there is some evidence that most large events such as strong solar flares and significant geomagnetic storms tend to occur in the declining phase of the solar cycle. In other words, there is still a chance for significant solar activity in the months and years ahead.

Second, it is pretty well understood that solar activity has a direct impact on temperatures at very high altitudes in a part of the Earth’s atmosphere called the thermosphere. This is the biggest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere which lies directly above the mesosphere and below the exosphere. Thermospheric temperatures increase with altitude due to absorption of highly energetic solar radiation and are highly dependent on solar activity.

Finally, if history is a guide, it is safe to say that weak solar activity for a prolonged period of time can have a negative impact on global temperatures in the troposphere which is the bottom-most layer of Earth’s atmosphere - and where we all live. There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The first period is known as the “Maunder Minimum”, named after the solar astronomer Edward Maunder, and it lasted from around 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the “Dalton Minimum”, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton, and it lasted from about 1790 to 1830. Both of these historical periods coincided with below-normal global temperatures in an era now referred to by many as the “Little Ice Age”. In addition, research studies in just the past couple of decades have found a complicated relationship between solar activity, cosmic rays, and clouds on Earth. This research suggests that in times of low solar activity where solar winds are typically weak; more cosmic rays reach the Earth’s atmosphere which, in turn, has been found to lead to an increase in certain types of clouds that can act to cool the Earth.


The increasingly likely outcome for an historically weak solar cycle continues the recent downward trend in sunspot cycle strength that began over twenty years ago during solar cycle 22. If this trend continues for the next couple of cycles, then there would likely be more talk of another “grand minimum” for the sun. Some solar scientists are already predicting that the next solar cycle, #25, will be even weaker than this current one. However, it is just too early for high confidence in these predictions since some solar scientists believe that the best predictor of future solar cycle strength involves activity at the sun’s poles during a solar minimum and the next solar minimum is still likely several years away.


BBC, Climate Change & Censorship: Interview With Benny Peiser

Benny Peiser is a social anthropologist best known for his work on the portrayal of climate change. The founder of CCNet, a leading climate policy network, Peiser is co-editor of the journal Energy and Environment and director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Following the BBC's recent decision to uphold a complaint against comments made by climate change sceptic Lord Lawson on the Today programme, we spoke to Peiser about scientific consensus and climate change in the media.

Q. The BBC's head of editorial complaint recently said that Lord Lawson’s views are not supported by any evidence from such things as computer modelling scientific research; thus, they should strengthen their editorial procedures to avoid misleading the public.

Do you think there is such a thing as a unanimous scientific consensus about climate change today?

A. I think this is irrelevant. I mean, there is a general agreement on CO2 and greenhouse gas: that we are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere and that this will have a warming effect. This is agreed by everyone so that is not the real issue. Even the sceptics agree to that. So, this is a red herring, because no one denies the basic physics, no one denies the basic facts.

And that was not part of the discussion at the BBC anyhow. It was about the flooding this winter and whether it was caused by climate change, as well as what to do about climate change. And, of course, there is no consensus about these issues. So, the BBC is using a red herring to deny critics of climate policies and climate alarmism a forum.

Q. A question of rhetoric then?

A. No. It's a bit like saying, “do you accept that there is a European Union?” This is the consensus, right, and because Euro-sceptics don’t accept that there is a European Union, they shouldn’t be interviewed on the BBC because they deny the existence of the European Union.

Q.I see.

A. It’s an argument that no one denies, but which is used to silence critics of the policies, and the subsidies, and the billions of pounds being thrown at the problem. So I think it is basically censorship, using a scientific argument that is standing on water. No one really questions this general consensus.

Q. So this is a problem of censorship? We know that climate change is a debate that attracts some extremely strong opinions. Why do you think this is?

A. This is not about scientific proof. It’s about how serious is it and what should we do about it, you see. It is only the BBC who claims this is about scientific proof. As I’ve just said, no one is questioning the basic physics; no one is question the basic consensus. So this is not about denying climate change or denying the effects of greenhouse gas or that there is human contribution… this is all a red herring. This is about denying anyone who criticises the green lobbyists and the green agenda from raising their criticisms. This is what is at stake. It’s not about the science.

Q. So do you think that, when it comes to the media, it is a one-sided kind of alarmist perception of risk that comes into question?

A. Of course, because they are well-known for pointing out everything that is alarming and being silent on reports that show it is not as alarming. So you have a bias in favour of alarm, and a kind of ignoring any evidence that suggests that it might not be that alarming.

It’s about people who think we are facing doomsday, and people who are thinking that the issue of climate change is exaggerated. And if you deny anyone sceptical of the apocalyptic doomsday prophecies, then you get in a position where the BBC is so biased that MPs are beginning to consider cutting the license fee, or abolishing the license fee altogether, because people are beginning to be upset by the BBC’s bias.

This is a self-defeating policy; the BBC is digging its own grave by annoying half of the population who are known to be sceptical about the alarmist claims which are not substantiated, which are not founded on any evidence. They are only based on on some kinds of computer modelling, which is not scientific evidence.

Q. So scientific evidence, such as computer modelling and research, is being used as an instrument in the rhetoric?

A. Well there is a big difference between observation, what you actually observe in reality – that’s what I would call evidence – and computer models that try to model the climate in 50 or 100 years time. I wouldn’t call that evidence. There is a difference between evidence and people saying, “if we don’t act now then in 50 or a 100 years time we will face mega catastrophe”. That’s not evidence, it is speculation.

Q. So, for example, if someone were to say, “scientific knowledge or evidence is always a requirement to express criticism toward the prevailing views on climate change as portrayed in the media,” would you agree with that kind of comment?

A. No, of course not. Because what is scientific knowledge, you know? Who decides what scientific knowledge is? Do you have to be a climate scientist to have scientific knowledge or do you have to have enough information? Who decides who’s qualified to decide what the right policy is? Because at the end of the day, the scientist cannot tell us what is the best approach to deal with climate change.

The scientists have no idea about costs and benefits; about policy and economics. The scientists only know the atmosphere, they know how the atmosphere functions. But if you want to decide what to do about climate change then the climate scientists are really the least likely to understand what policies or alternatives there are.

The climate debate is not just about the science, but also about policies, about economics, costs, benefits. That’s where the scientists are unequipped, and where the economists and policy makers are those at the forefront of the debate. The BBC makes it out as if it was all about the science, but it isn’t. There are so many other questions where the climate scientists simply haven’t got the expertise, or certainly less expertise.

Q. Do you think this is part of the reason why there was a controversy with Lord Lawson when the argument was made that he shouldn’t be censored because he had an argument more in terms of economics and policy making, rather than science?

A. Of course. And in any case, if the BBC were to adhere to this policy, they would never ever again interview Ed Miliband or any MPs or Minister or policy maker on climate change, right? For example, you mention Lord Lawson, who has written extensively about climate change issues over the last six, seven years. If he can’t be interviewed because he is not a scientist, well then you cannot interview any politician.

Q, Do you think Lord Lawson is an authoritative and representative figure of the views of climate change when it comes to critics or sceptics?

Well of course. He’s one of the world’s leading authorities who has written, as I said, extensively on climate change. He is not a climate scientist, but I just said this was not about science. It is about what to do about climate, how Britain may again be flooded in the future. So it’s not about science, it is about what are the best ways of dealing with flooding in the future.

Q. In the press, the argument has been put forward quite regularly that sceptics or critics are already over-represented in media coverage, which is said to be misleading the public. Is that a fact? Or do you think the BBC should give more air time to climate change critics/ sceptics?

A. Well they haven’t in the past. Take Lord Lawson. That was the first time ever that he’s been interviewed on climate change. And if you think about the hundreds of reports over the years by the BBC, climate sceptics are a very and increasingly rare species.

Climate sceptics are definitely not under-represented, but simply absent when it comes to the number of media outlets. However, because there is that bias in the BBC and other news organisations, they are finding their own outlets. The climate-sceptical bloggers are increasingly popular and have huge readerships, and a number of newspapers can see that there is a real market for more balanced views.

Take for instance the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. These newspapers have realized that the BBC and others are ignoring alternative views and so they are providing the half of the population who are sceptics an opportunity to have more balanced reporting. They can see the big opportunity that the BBC is ruling out.

As I said, from surveys, more than half of the British public is sceptical, so if the BBC alienates more than half of the population then they only have themselves to blame if the British public don’t anymore want to pay for the BBC.

Q. Do you think there might also be a confusion created by separating people in two strict camps: either you are a sceptic or you are a firm believer in climate change? Perhaps there could be a more constructive critic of authoritative knowledge or prevailing rhetoric?

A. When the BBC interviewed the sceptical scientists like Professor Carter they also got complaints from those who said it was wrong, so it’s not about knowledge or because you are not a climate scientist. They don’t even interview scientists who are sceptical, and on the very rare occasion – once every two years – that they perhaps have an interview with a sceptical scientist, they also get complaints. So this is not about people not being knowledgeable, it’s that people don’t want to listen to any critics. That is as simple as that, they do not want to, or do not like the idea of a debate on this issue.

Q. Do you think this is because it threatens the status quo and stability on the issue of climate change?

A. Well, they realise that ‘facts’, the simple facts of climate change do not adapt to some kind of doomsday alarming scenario. That is their biggest fear. And that is what they don’t want the public to hear. They want their message to be that we are facing global disaster and unless we act now it will be too late. They don’t want to hear anyone who says, “hold on! Look out of the window, it’s not as bad as the models predict…”

Q. So it is rhetoric of risk?

A. At the end of the day there is a big industry behind this campaign, let’s not forget. There’s a huge green energy industry which relies on billions of subsidies on government policy. All the people who own wind farms and solar panels and bio-fuel lands all rely on government support. Without the alarm there would not be that much money going into their pockets. So there are big industrial claims behind this campaign who make hundreds of millions of pounds on the back of this alarm.

Q. Why do you think that climate change discussion generally has divided largely along political lines? For example, some might associate scepticism about climate change with right wing politics etc.

A. Well in Europe this is not the case. That is the case in the U.S. and perhaps in Australia. In Europe, it is really that almost all parties have signed up to the climate agenda. There is no political divide on the climate agenda. I mean, it's beginning to look as if more and more governments, both left and right, are becoming concerned because the costs are piling up and because Europe is becoming uncompetitive as a result. So there is a growing concern that Europe, through its climate policies, is damaging the economy and making energy costs ever more expensive, and that therefore European industries are becoming increasingly uncompetitive. But that is a general concern, not a left or right issue, though in the US it is, yes.

Q.Do you think the problem of competitiveness is related to the avoidance of a more constructive debate?

A. Well initially, 10 or 20 years ago, the Europeans thought that the climate alarm would help their economy. They thought that Europe would create or produce renewable technologies which could then be exported to the rest of the world. That was the idea, but they forgot that China and other Asian countries could produce these renewable technologies much cheaper and much quicker. So now they are concerned about the Chinese selling solar panels to Europeans, and the Europeans subsidising Chinese solar panels.

So, there are all sorts of big problems in the whole concept that climate change policies could be good for the economy. In reality they have just added to energy costs and it’s a much bigger problem now for many governments around Europe, not least because the shale revolution has brought down the energy crisis in the U.S. and is making live industry in Europe very difficult. As I said, there are other issues involved aside from the science which make the climate debate so contentious, because you are talking about a multi-billion Euro industry that relies on governments to keep handing out money.

If the alarm goes, a lot of green industries that rely on subsidies will go bankrupt as they rely on people being alarmed. Without the alarm, we would not have wind and solar energy; we would not have the need for renewable energy without the climate alarm.

Q. How could the discussion about climate change be improved in the media more generally? How could we make the discussion more constructive?

A. Well, it is difficult. By and large you improve it by making it as factual, as objective, and as balanced as possible. Also, moving away from the basic scientific issues to focus on the real, big divides and problems which have to do with what we are going to do about climate change. That is where the big question mark remains. And, as you may have noticed, it is much more difficult and more complex than the simplistic way the BBC portrays the controversy.


Owen Paterson: I’m Proud Of Standing Up To The Green Lobby

Like the nationalised industries and obstructive trade unions of the 1970s, the Green Blob has become a powerful self-serving caucus; it is the job of the elected politician to stand up to them

Every prime minister has the right to choose his team to take Britain into the general election and I am confident that my able successor at Defra, Liz Truss, will do an excellent job. It has been a privilege to take on the challenges of the rural economy and environment. However, I leave the post with great misgivings about the power and irresponsibility of – to coin a phrase – the Green Blob.

By this I mean the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely.

Local conservationists on the ground do wonderful work to protect and improve wild landscapes, as do farmers, rural businesses and ordinary people. They are a world away from the highly paid globe-trotters of the Green Blob who besieged me with their self-serving demands, many of which would have harmed the natural environment.

I soon realised that the greens and their industrial and bureaucratic allies are used to getting things their own way. I received more death threats in a few months at Defra than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland. My home address was circulated worldwide with an incitement to trash it; I was burnt in effigy by Greenpeace as I was recovering from an operation to save my eyesight. But I did not set out to be popular with lobbyists and I never forgot that they were not the people I was elected to serve.

Indeed, I am proud that my departure was greeted with such gloating by spokespeople for the Green Party and Friends of the Earth.

It was not my job to do the bidding of two organisations that are little more than anti-capitalist agitprop groups most of whose leaders could not tell a snakeshead fritillary from a silver-washed fritillary. I saw my task as improving both the environment and the rural economy; many in the green movement believed in neither.

Their goal was to enhance their own income streams and influence by myth making and lobbying. Would they have been as determined to blacken my name if I was not challenging them rather effectively?

When I arrived at Defra I found a department that had become under successive Labour governments a milch cow for the Green Blob.

Just as Michael Gove set out to refocus education policy on the needs of children rather than teachers and bureaucrats and Iain Duncan Smith set out to empower the most vulnerable, so I began to reorganise the department around four priorities: to grow the rural economy, to improve the environment, and to safeguard both plant and animal health.

The Green Blob sprouts especially vigorously in Brussels. The European Commission website reveals that a staggering 150 million euros (£119? million) was paid to the top nine green NGOs from 2007-13.

European Union officials give generous grants to green groups so that they will lobby it for regulations that then require large budgets to enforce. When I attended a council meeting of elected EU ministers on shale gas in Lithuania last year, we were lectured by a man using largely untrue clichés about the dangers of shale gas. We discovered that he was from the European Environment Bureau, an umbrella group for unelected, taxpayer-subsidised green lobby groups. Speaking of Europe, I remain proud to have achieved some renegotiations.

The discard ban ends the scandalous practice of throwing away perfectly edible fish, we broke the council deadlock on GM crops, so decisions may be repatriated to member countries and we headed off bans on fracking. Judge me by my opponents.

When I proposed a solution to the dreadful suffering of cattle, badgers and farmers as a result of the bovine tuberculosis epidemic that Labour allowed to develop, I was opposed by rich pop stars who had never been faced with having to cull a pregnant heifer. (Interestingly, very recent local evidence suggests the decline in TB in the cull area may already have begun.)

When I spoke up for the landscapes of this beautiful country against the heavily subsidised industry that wants to spoil them with wind turbines at vast cost to ordinary people, vast reward to rich landowners and undetectable effects on carbon dioxide emissions, I was frustrated by colleagues from the so-called Liberal Democrat Party.

When I encouraged the search for affordable energy from shale gas to help grow the rural economy and lift people out of fuel poverty, I was opposed by a dress designer for whom energy bills are trivial concerns. [...]

Yes, I’ve annoyed these people, but they don’t represent the real countryside of farmers and workers, of birds and butterflies.

Like the nationalised industries and obstructive trade unions of the 1970s, the Green Blob has become a powerful self-serving caucus; it is the job of the elected politician to stand up to them. We must have the courage to tackle it head on, as Tony Abbott in Australia and Stephen Harper in Canada have done, or the economy and the environment will both continue to suffer.

* Owen Paterson is a former secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs.


Australia: Why is it The Greens are treated by the media as having the moral high ground?

The snobs in the Canberra press pack tend to ignore Senator John Madigan of the DLP so chances are you won't see much of this speech he gave in Parliament reported.

However, here, he raises some quite significant questions about the integrity of the Greens when it comes to what really motivates their "clean energy" commitment ..... $$$

He also joins the dots between interesting figures lingering behind the scenes of The Greens and the Palmer Party.

Senator Madigan asks a question that deserves some pondering .... why is it that The Greens are treated by the media as having the moral high ground on just about every subject?



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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, 2014

Warmists assume what they have to prove

There are a great number of models that have been put out out by Warmists  -- all with slightly different assumptions.  And the assumptions are the key.  With different assumptions you could predict cooling.  But there are only a small minority that come close to the temperatures actually observed.

So the latest effort by some well-known Warmists simply picks out those models that have done best and says:  "Aha!  The models are good after all!"

Read the abstract below and see for yourself.  They say: "only those models with natural variability (represented by El Niño/Southern Oscillation) largely in phase with observations are selected"  and then say "These tests show that climate models have provided good estimates of 15-year trends". It is just one huge cherry-picking exercise where they pick out models that have for some reason got close to the facts and then proclaim that they have predicted something.  It is a classical example of being wise after the event.  Newpaper article followed by the journal abstract below

A common refrain by climate sceptics that surface temperatures have not warmed over the past 17 years, implying climate models predicting otherwise are unreliable, has been refuted by new research led by James Risbey, a senior CSIRO researcher.

Setting aside the fact the equal hottest years on record - 2005 and 2010 - fall well within the past 17 years, Dr Risbey and fellow researchers examined claims - including by some members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - that models overestimated global warming.

In a study published in Nature Climate Change on Monday, the team found that models actually generate good estimates of recent and past trends provided they also took into account natural variability, particularly the key El Nino-La Nina phases in the Pacific.

“You’re always going to get periods when the warming slows down or speeds up relative to the mean rate because we have these strong natural cycles,” Dr Risbey said.

In roughly 30-year cycles, the Pacific alternates between periods of more frequent El Ninos - when the ocean gives back heat to the atmosphere - to La Ninas, when it acts as a massive heat sink, setting in train relatively cool periods for surface temperatures.

By selecting climate models in phase with natural variability, the research found that model trends have been consistent with observed trends, even during the recent “slowdown” period for warming, Dr Risbey said.

“The climate is simply variable on short time scales but that variability is superimposed on an unmistakable long-term warming trend,” he said.

While sceptics have lately relied on a naturally cool phase of the global cycle to fan doubts about climate change, the fact temperature records continue to fall even during a La-Nina dominated period is notable, Dr Risbey said.

The temperature forcing from the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere “is beginning to overwhelm the natural variability on even shorter decadal time scales”, he said.

“We will always set more heat records during an El Nino [phase] ... than we will during the opposite but we’re still setting records even during the cold phase because we’re still warming,” Dr Risbey said.

While climatologists are wary about picking when the Pacific will switch back to an El-Nino dominated phase, the world may get an inkling of what is in store if an El Nino event is confirmed later this year.

The Bureau of Meteorology last week maintained its estimate of a 70 per cent chance of an El Nino this year. It noted, though, that warming sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific had yet to trigger the consistent reinforcing atmospheric patterns such as a stalling or reversal in the easterly trade winds.

Even without the threshold being reached, however, El-Nino-like conditions had already contributed to the warmest May and June on record and equal-warmest April. Australia too has continued to see well-above average temperatures, with last year and the 12 months to June 30 setting records for warmth.

Data out this week from the US may confirm early readings that June's sea-surface temperatures were the biggest departure from long-term averages for any month.


Well-estimated global surface warming in climate projections selected for ENSO phase

By James S. Risbey,    Stephan Lewandowsky,    Clothilde Langlais, Didier P. Monselesan, Terence J. O’Kane & Naomi Oreskes


The question of how climate model projections have tracked the actual evolution of global mean surface air temperature is important in establishing the credibility of their projections. Some studies and the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report suggest that the recent 15-year period (1998–2012) provides evidence that models are overestimating current temperature evolution. Such comparisons are not evidence against model trends because they represent only one realization where the decadal natural variability component of the model climate is generally not in phase with observations. We present a more appropriate test of models where only those models with natural variability (represented by El Niño/Southern Oscillation) largely in phase with observations are selected from multi-model ensembles for comparison with observations. These tests show that climate models have provided good estimates of 15-year trends, including for recent periods and for Pacific spatial trend patterns.


Warmists admit that skeptics are right

There is a big sulk from "Salon" below about the fact that the NYT printed a favorable story about skeptic John Christy.  But it is hard to fathom how Warmist minds work because towards the end of their screed below they admit exactly what Christy and most skeptics are saying.  I have highlighted the passage

The New York Times missed the mark big time in its new profile of John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and prominent climate skeptic who “finds himself a target of suspicion” — and derision, and sometimes even insults — from his peers. Ostensibly, it’s an examination of the way that climate science has become politicized, to the extent that those with dissenting views are silenced or attacked by the cult of mainstream climate science. In reality, it’s an overly credulous and sympathetic portrayal of someone who, his claims having been almost completely discredited, is trying to spin the story in a way that makes him out to be a victim.

Perhaps, writer Michael Wines speculates, the reason why other climate scientists are so mean to Christy (people drew mean cartoons about him!) is because he’s “providing legitimacy to those who refuse to acknowledge” that the consequences of climate change are likely to be dire. The use of the word “legitimacy” is questionable: Unlike those who contest the scientific consensus on climate change with little or no background in climate science themselves, Christy does boast a bevy of credentials, as Wines is careful to denote. Christy’s actual research, on the other hand, along with the data that he insists, in the profile, to be beholden to — well, that’s been deflated, disproven and debunked by all manner of other, highly qualified experts. A dispute over his inaccurate climate models that Wines dismisses as a “scientific tit for tat,” meanwhile, is seen by others as a conscious attempt to misinform the public, in the interest of promoting climate skepticism.

A difference in perspective, perhaps. But in downplaying the many and legitimate issues with Christy’s research, Wines fails to treat this “skeptic” with much skepticism of his own. And worse still, the profile plays into an image that Christy has been working to build — one not of an anti-science “denier,” but instead of a modern-day Galileo, one who dares to contradict mainstream opinion and who will be vindicated by history — in this case, when the effects of climate change turns out to not be so bad, after all. See, for example, the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Christy authored this February with fellow skeptic Richard McNider. In response to comments by Secretary of State John Kerry, who accused climate skeptics of belonging to the “Flat Earth Society,” they wrote:

    "But who are the Flat Earthers, and who is ignoring the scientific facts? In ancient times, the notion of a flat Earth was the scientific consensus, and it was only a minority who dared question this belief. We are among today’s scientists who are skeptical about the so-called consensus on climate change. Does that make us modern-day Flat Earthers, as Mr. Kerry suggests, or are we among those who defy the prevailing wisdom to declare that the world is round?"

This interpretation of history, as Joe Romm pointed out at the time, is yet another misconception, as the flat Earth myth was a pre-scientific belief, disproven by — you guessed it — science. Christy and McNiders’ inflated perception of themselves only serves to further confuse the public’s understanding of the scientific consensus on climate change. Their rhetoric, while appealing, falls apart upon examination.

As for the contention, among environmentalists, that Christy may be “a pawn of the fossil-fuel industry who distorts science to fit his own ideology”? Wines dismisses that in a parenthetical comment from Christy (“I don’t take money from industries”), and leaves it at that. This, again, plays right into Christy’s desire to be seen as misunderstood — he’s been careful to avoid associations not just with polluting industries, but with most of the groups dedicated to spreading climate denial. He doesn’t attend the Heartland Institute’s annual climate denial conferences, he told the Times’ Andrew Revkin several years back, because he wants to avoid “guilt by association.”

Yet Christy’s perspective on global warming — that the effects will be mild, and potentially even beneficial — is more or less aligned with those voiced by the participants in Heartland’s most recent conference, which took place last week. Aside from a few remaining loonies, most deniers have by now conceded the two most basic facts of climate change: that the climate is changing, and that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are at least partially responsible. Christy’s not special in this regard. Instead, he’s part of a growing movement that Will Oremus, writing in Slate, describes as an effort to rebrand climate denial as “climate optimism”: the idea that climate change, while real, isn’t something worth worrying about — and certainly not worth making an effort to mitigate. In some ways, this is even more dangerous than flat-out denial, which is at least easy to shut down; climate optimism, instead, conflates science with conservative political ideology, as Oremus explains:

    "In fact, it’s not unreasonable to see the climate fight as part of a much broader ideological war in American society, says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. The debate over causes is often a proxy for a debate over solutions, which are likely to require global cooperation and government intervention in people’s lives. Leiserowitz’s research shows that climate deniers tend to be committed to values like individualism and small government while those most concerned about climate change are more likely to hold egalitarian and community-oriented political views.

    That doesn’t mean, of course, that the evidence on both sides is equal. There’s a reason the climate deniers are losing the scientific debate, and it isn’t because academia is better funded than the energy industry. All of which helps to explain how climate optimism might be a more appealing approach these days than climate denial. Models of how climate change will impact society and the economy are subject to far more uncertainty than the science that links greenhouse gas emissions to the 20th-century warming trend. The costs of mitigating those emissions are more readily grasped: higher energy bills, government spending on alternative energy projects, lost jobs at coal plants."

Accepting climate change, but not accepting that we should do anything about it: It’s that ideologically driven belief, and not a debate over science itself, that is the real way in which climate change has become politicized.

None of this is to suggest that there shouldn’t be a debate about science, or that all climate science is settled. Most of what we know about the future effects of climate change, including just how severe they will be, remains decidedly unsettled, and will remain so until they actually come to pass. Because 97 percent of scientists agree that human activity is contributing to changes in our climate, the debate now can and should be about what the evidence suggests, and what we ought to do about it. But the reason why Christy has attracted so much vitriol is because he’s on the radical fringe of both of those conversations: he’s using error-laden research and misleading claims to advocate for some adaptation and zero mitigation. The American Association for the Advancement of Science compares such a strategy to barreling down the highway without the benefit of seat belts or airbags; more colorfully, in Wines’ article, MIT professor Kerry Emanuel suggests “It’s kind of like telling a little girl who’s trying to run across a busy street to catch a school bus to go for it, knowing there’s a substantial chance that she’ll be killed. She might make it. But it’s a big gamble to take.”

Christy’s supporters are already up in arms about that one. But the comparison is apt, and it’s the reason why, even if history does turn out to vindicate Christy, he won’t be remembered as an anti-establishment hero. He’ll just be someone who, against all evidence to the contrary, got really, really lucky, and put not just a little girl, but the entire world at risk in the process.


One of the sadder examples of what the human race produces


German scientists show that constant alarmist messages about dramatic and dangerously rising sea levels cannot be confirmed by raw tidal measurements. According to expert Klaus-Eckart Puls “measurements are actually showing the opposite.” Only "mysterious" government computer models show rises in sea levels, says the report.tidal measure

Making the announcement on behalf of the European Institute for Climate and Energy Klaus-Eckart Puls says:

“Worldwide, neither tidal gauge data (200 years) nor satellite data (20 years) show any acceleration of sea level rise. That is in stark contrast to all past and current statements by the IPCC and several climate (research) institutes and climate-models. Moreover, there are indications that the satellite data (showing a higher [double] rate of increase) are significantly “over-corrected.”” [See ref 28 in the report]

‘Mysterious Case’ or Data Rigging?

The European Institute for Climate and Energy expressed their concerns about the reliability of certain official computer models adding, “Instead of adjusting the satellite data to those actually measured on the ground and correcting them downward, the discrepancy between gauge and satellite measurements continue to this date. Somehow, that does not appear to bother anyone. A mysterious case.”

Wilhelmshaven coast scientist, Karl-Ernst Behre from the Lower Saxony Institute for Historical Coastal Research (NIHK ) explains that the best evidence shows sea levels have only been rising naturally “since the end of the last ice age we have good knowledge of the sea level changes on the German North Sea coast.”

The latest German research shows that sea level has risen naturally due to global warming by more than 50 meters in the past 10,000 years, says Behre. It has been nothing to do with humans.

"The increase has increasingly slowed when one considers the overarching trend of the last 3000 years. In the "youngest" 400 years (1600-2000) there have been (without the GIA correction) an increase of 1.35 m, in the past 100 years, only one such 25 cm, thus slowing it down further."

No Evidence of Increased Floods

The European Institute for Climate are also able to confirm there is no evidence that the floods are getting worse. 'We have measured the flood levels for 100 years, during which time the mean high water is up by 25cm which fits the natural rise in sea level. There is no evidence of more frequent floods. "

Sea levels alone are not the only factor – changes in the landmass due to the rise and fall of geological movements, especially plate tectonics, volcanism and glacial processes can superficially affect sea levels (Isostasy and Eustasie).

Not helping the cause of alarmism is the fact well-known German land subsidence should be making any supposed sea level rise look even more pronounced, as the report shows.

As for the German North Sea coast Behre explains that in 2011, a work was published on the trends of 15 coastal levels in the German Bight. A graph  detailing the findings shows the actual extent of sea level rises, proving no human signal.

This was part of a wider range of studies dealing with the ongoing Holocene vertical land movements of the last millennium in southern Scandinavia, Jutland, the North Frisian Islands, the south arch over Denmark and the middle Baltic Sea. It proved:

"The North Sea basin is already a very long time an area of subsidence, tectonic subsidence and this holds true even today. The German coast lies on the upper part of this reduction area. In the area of the German Bight there is shown to be a tectonically induced mean decrease from 0.64 cm / century, in the West it is 0.54 cm / century as in the east and consequently is overall a small amount.”

As such, the authors are able to confirm there is no trend. All measured changes in sea levels can thus be attributed only to a natural origin conistent with the ongoing glacial retreat our planet has been experiencing since the onset of the Holocene Period around 11,000 years ago.



Killing marine life with ethanol

Ethanol damages your cars, small engines, food budget – and kills Gulf of Mexico animals

Paul Driessen

Ethanol and other biofuel mandates and subsidies got started when politicians bought into claims that we are rapidly depleting our petroleum, and fossil-fuel-driven global warming is boiling the planet.

Hydraulic fracturing destroyed the depletion myth. It also reminds us that “peak oil” applies only if we wrongly assume that resource needs and technologies never change. The 18-year “hiatus” in planetary warming has forced alarmists to change their terminology to climate change, climate disruption and extreme weather mantras – which allow them to continue demanding that we stop using the hydrocarbons that provide 82% of the energy that makes our economy, jobs and living standards possible.

In recent years, people have discovered that ethanol harms lawn mowers and other small engines. The fuel additive also drives up gasoline prices, reduces automotive mileage and corrodes engine parts.

Corn-for-ethanol growers make a lot of money. But meat, egg and fish producers pay more for feed, driving up family food bills. Biofuel mandates also mean aid agencies pay more for corn and wheat, so more malnourished people go hungry longer. This is not what most would call “environmental justice.”

The 10% blends are bad enough. 15% ethanol is much worse, and truckers say a highly corrosive 20% blend will be needed to meet California’s looming low carbon fuel standards.

US law mandates that ethanol production must triple between 2007 and 2020 – even though motorists are driving less and thus using less gasoline, which then means refiners need less ethanol to produce 10% blends. That “blend wall” (between what’s needed and what’s produced) is driving the push to allow 15% ethanol blends, which would void most car engine warranties.

The guaranteed income incentivizes farmers to take land out of conservation easements, pasture land and wildlife habitat, and grow corn instead. Just to meet current ethanol quotas, US farmers are now growing corn on an area the size of Iowa. Growing and harvesting this corn and turning it into ethanol also requires massive quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, fossil fuels and water.

Corn-based ethanol requires 2,500 to 29,000 gallons of fresh water per million Btu of energy – compared to at most 6.0 gallons of fresh or brackish water per million Btu of energy produced via fracking. Across its life cycle, ethanol production and use also releases more carbon dioxide per gallon than gasoline.

Now we learn that ethanol is bad for the environment in another way. It kills marine life.

A large portion of the nitrogen fertilizers needed to grow all that corn gets washed off the land and into streams and rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico, where they cause enormous summertime algae blooms. When the algae die, their decomposition consumes oxygen in the water – creating enormous low-oxygen (hypoxic) and zero-oxygen (anoxic) regions.

Marine life cannot survive in those “dead zones.” Fish swim away, but shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels, crabs, sea cucumbers and other stationary or slow moving bottom dwellers cannot escape. They just die.

Thousands of square miles of water off the coast of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas as far southwest as Corpus Christi can remain blanketed by a dead zone until fall winds or tropical storms or hurricanes come through. These events cool the water down, churn up the anoxic zones, bring in new oxygen supplies, and restore livability.

In 2012, nearly 2,900 square miles (about the size of Delaware) turned into a dead zone. Last year, because of much greater water flow from the Corn Belt, the region of animal cadavers covered nearly 8,560 square miles (New Jersey). This year, the zone of death could cover a more average Connecticut-size 4,630 to 5,700 square miles, say Louisiana State University, Texas A&M and other researchers, due to lower water flows; strong eddy currents south of the Mississippi Delta could also be playing a role.

A friend of mine recently observed vast stretches of green algae blooms in the normally “blue water” areas beyond the 15-mile-wide region where fresh Mississippi River waters mix with Gulf of Mexico salt water, in the Mississippi Canyon area south of Louisiana. The green zone extended to some 40 miles from shore, he said. As the algae die, they will create huge new suffocation zones, rising up into the water column, invisible from the air and surface, but deadly to millions of creatures that cannot swim away.

The dead zones also mean fishermen, crabbers, shrimpers and other recreational and commercial boaters must travel much further from shore to find anything, putting them at greater risk in the event of storms.

“More nitrate comes off corn fields than it does from any other crop, by far,” says Louisiana State University zoologist Gene Turner. The nitrogen drives the formation of dead zones, and the “primary culprit” driving the entire process is corn-based ethanol, adds Larry McKinney, executive director of the Harte Research Center for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi.

The US Geological Survey estimates that 153,000 metric tons of nitrogen fertilizer and other nutrients flowed down the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers in May 2013. That was 16% more than the average amount over the previous three decades. The enormous nutrient runoff is primarily the result of feeding just one crop: corn for ethanol, the USGS affirms. The lost seafood is worth tens of millions of dollars.

Fertilizer and pesticide runoff is substantially higher in wet years. But in dry years much of the excess chemical application just builds up in the soil, waiting for the next big rainy season to unleash it. The more acreage we put in corn for ethanol – and soybeans for biodiesel – the worse the fertilizer and pesticide runoff, algae blooms, dead zones and eradicated marine life become in wet years.

Water use is also skyrocketing to grow these biofuel crops. And if it weren’t for biotechnology, the problems would be far worse. GMO corn is engineered to need less water, and to kill insects that feed on the crops with far lower pesticide use than for traditional, non-biotech varieties. However, the same greens who hate hydrocarbons and promote ethanol and biodiesel also detest biotechnology. Go figure.

Some biofuel advocates tout cellulosic ethanol as a partial solution – because switchgrass requires less fertilizer, and this perennial’s roots help stabilize the soil and reduce runoff. But no one has yet been able to turn this pipedream source into ethanol on a commercial scale. Another potential manmade fuel could be methanol from natural gas produced via hydraulic fracturing, but greens continue to oppose fracking.

This algae boom, bust and dead zone phenomenon may not be an ecological crisis, and it’s been going on for decades. But why make it worse, with an expensive, engine-wrecking fuel that eco-activists, politicians and ethanol lobbyists pretend is better for the planet than fossil fuels? Why don’t biofuel boosters at least include this serious, recurring environmental damage in their cost-benefit analyses?

And why do we continue to tolerate the double standards? Environmentalists, politicians and bureaucrats come down with iron fists on any private sector damages involving fossil fuel or nuclear power. They have different standards for the “natural” and “eco-friendly” “alternatives” they advocate. Ethanol from corn is just one example. An even more grotesque double standard involves wind turbines.

Big Green activists and Big Government bureaucrats (especially Fish & Wildlife Service) let Big Wind companies kill eagles and other raptors, conduct deliberately insufficient and incompetent body counts, hide and bury carcasses, and even store hundreds of dead eagles in freezers, away from prying eyes. Using German and Swedish studies as a guide, Save the Eagles International experts calculate that the real US wind turbine death toll is probably 13 million or more birds and bats every year, slaughtered in the name of saving the planet from computer-concocted ravages of manmade global warming.

These policies are unsustainable and intolerable. The same environmental and endangered species standards must be applied to all our energy alternatives – and the ethanol quotas must be terminated.

Via email

Iowan’s USDA appointment raises concern

The appointment of Iowa’s Angela Tagtow, a controversial “environmental nutritionist” and local food activist, to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is causing more headaches for the agency, already facing criticism about politicization of federal nutrition advice and its consequences for public health.

By using the government’s official dietary guidelines as a tool to advance her well-established environmentalist agenda, Tagtow would undermine the USDA’s mandate — to provide families with science-based, impartial nutrition advice.

The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services administer the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations regarding the dietary guidelines mandated by Congress. The guidelines, now being revised, are the basis for federal food and nutrition programs and welfare benefits such as SNAP and educational campaigns, including MyPlate (formerly the food pyramid). The USDA touts them to be “authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.”

The fourth meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee started Thursday and will conclude today.

According to Politico, recent advisory committee meetings raised eyebrows because “hot-button issues, such as diet and climate change,” are being discussed in an unprecedented way. The committee has even dedicated one of five subcommittees to “food sustainability and safety” to discuss how the food we eat contributes to climate change and how the government should recommend changes to our diets based on those concerns.

Sustainable food systems and environmental protection may be important, but these issues don’t belong in discussions of healthy eating.

That hasn’t stopped the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee from delving deeply into them over the past year. In the January meeting of the committee, member Miriam Nelson gushed about the importance of promoting foods that have the “littlest impact on the environment” and invited testimony from sustainability expert Kate Clancy, who argued it would be “perilous” not to take global climate change into account when dispensing dietary advice.

In April, a USDA spokesperson seemed to back away from the row by minimizing the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s role in policy-making, saying, “The committee is still in the early stages of its work, so it is premature to guess what their recommendations might be, and even more premature to speculate about what will be included in the final dietary guidelines.”

But the appointment of Tagtow to the USDA office responsible for not only developing and promoting the dietary guidelines, but advancing prominent programs such as MyPlate, suggests that the USDA is doubling down on raising the profile of our diet’s alleged effect on the climate and other issues that have more to do with political science than nutritional science.

For instance, Tagtow boasts that the mission of her consulting firm, Environmental Nutrition Solutions, “is to establish healthier food systems that are resilient, sustainable, ecologically sound, socially acceptable and economically viable.”

This isn’t nutrition. This is code language for politically charged activism. In what amounts to her policy platform statement, Tagtow writes that we should select meat and dairy products from animals that have been fed only grass diets.

She also repeats the myth that meat is an environmentally reckless form of protein, suggesting a plant-based diet instead. She says we should reduce our consumption of meat, lean or not, not because of any potential health benefits, but in order to “conserve natural resources and energy.”

Tagtow has suggested that Iowans could improve the state’s economy by eating only food grown in the state, at least part of the year.

She touted a Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture study, claiming that ” if Iowans ate five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and Iowa farmers supplied that produce for three months of the year, these additional crops would add $300 million and more than 4,000 jobs to the Iowa economy.”

She fails to mention that in her utopian Iowa, residents wouldn’t likely enjoy the benefits of staples like oranges or pineapples for those months. Nor does she consider the devastation to Iowa’s agricultural community if her agro-protectionist ideals were implemented in other states.

Well, now she’s headed to the federal government to promote her narrow ideology.

The maxim that in government, “personnel is policy,” is especially true here, given Tagtow’s policymaking role. The priorities she’s spent her career advancing are far from the consensus among mainstream nutritionists.

Her appointment is a slap in the face to thousands of men and women in nutrition who daily work tirelessly and impartially to help Americans eat better. And it casts doubt over whether USDA is willing to dispense nutrition advice based on science rather than an activist agenda.


Australia: Greenie meat pies rejected

Meat pies are often said to be Australia's national food and I certainly am a fancier of them.  The ones I buy have chunks of steak in them and cost around $3.50

Sustainable. Organic. Locally sourced. These four words bulldoze us at every supermarket corner, on every menu and during many a MasterChef ad break. But how happy are we to pay a higher price for such produce?

A Victorian bakery has removed a meat pie from its menu because of complaints the price was too high.

At RedBeard Bakery in Trentham, about an hour north-west of Melbourne, a conversation similar to the following took place at least 10 times a week:

“One pie, thanks mate.”

“No worries. That'll be $8.”

“You're bloody kidding me! That's highway robbery!”

“Our ingredients are sourced locally and we know the farmers. The meat is grass-fed and sustainable. The pastry is made with organic butter and hand-rolled. The pie is put together by hand and cooked in our 19th century Scotch oven. It actually costs us $8 to make, so we're really providing a community service.”

“Whatever, mate. I didn't ask for a sermon.”

Fed up with explaining the price to tourists and tradies alike, RedBeard co-owner and baker Al Reid ceased making the pie in June.

“Every day there were embarrassing, stilted conversations with customers trying to justify why you're charging what is actually quite a reasonable price given the quality of the product and the labour input,” Reid says. “Customers' perceptions of what a pie should cost seem to be based on what you pay at a footy match. Pies ain't pies, just like oils ain't oils.”

Reid says cheap, mass-produced factory pies are often just gravy, corn starch and pastry made with margarine and transfats. They're cheap for a reason.

The removal of RedBeard's pie ignited a flutter of comments on its Facebook page. Most of these lamented the loss and suggested the complainers buy their frozen pies elsewhere.

But where does popular opinion lie?

An article this writer penned about Sydney's best dumplings attracted a wealth of comments on the theme that prices at high-end dumpling houses are absurd when you can purchase 12 dumplings for $4 “down the road”.

This is true. The Chinatowns of Melbourne and Sydney are rife with dumpling houses that trade potstickers by the pound. However, for the most part these little parcels of (admittedly delicious) mystery meat are in no way organic or sustainable. This is why you'll pay more “up the road”.

At Mr Wong, dim sum master Eric Koh uses Alaskan king crab in his noodle wraps (one for $12) and dumplings. It's not cheap, but then, Alaskan king crab fishing isn't easy: it takes place only in autumn; specific size requirements must be met, and only males can be kept.

“I think that in the past many dim sum chefs did not necessarily appreciate the importance of quality ingredients,” Koh says. “It required a vast amount of research to develop my knowledge about the individual ingredients and the skills needed to make the best quality dumplings possible. In the last five to 10 years more people are appreciating the value of dumplings and understanding that you pay for what you get.”

If RedBeard Bakery was selling $8 organic pies in Surry Hills or Collingwood, would it have attracted the same daily criticism? Probably not. Mary's burger bar in Newtown sells cheeseburgers for $14 – and not the type of baby-elephant-sized cheeseburgers that even a Texan would struggle to finish. They're not much bigger than one from Macca's but Mary's is packed to its exposed rafters every night with punters scoffing them down.

The price is justified: Mary's burger patties are made from a mix of high quality, house-smoked brisket, chuck and rump. But a takeaway store charging $14 for a burger this size in country NSW would be unthinkable.

Then there are the hand-cut chips at Hooked Healthy Seafood in Melbourne. Made from locally grown potatoes that are delivered fresh and unfrozen, the chips are big, fat and incredibly tasty. They will also set you back $7.95 for a large serving. That price would be laughed at in a palm-oil-using fish-and-chippery, but at Hooked (which has shops in Fitzroy, Windsor and Hawthorn) the chips have a status approaching legendary.

Despite justified prices and no shortage of customers, user review sites for Hooked host a good deal of “overpriced” and “rip-off” rants – especially comparing it to chippies (again) “down the road”.

Will Australia reach a point where we can all agree that $8 for a pie made from local, organic ingredients is justifiable? Signs are promising. But while buzzwords like "organic" and "sustainable" are bandied around without wider education on the processes and costs associated with producing organic and sustainable food, that day seems some time away.

And Coles selling four frozen pies for $4 doesn't help.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


20 July, 2014

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet; Increases in temperature, sea level and CO2 observed

The Warmists at NOAA are clutching at straws here. 

1). They say that just three countries in the Southern hemisphere had record high temperatures. But if it's GLOBAL warming, shouldn't the high temperatures have happened in more countries than that? Nothing in the Northern hemisphere? If a phenomenon is not global it is local and of no use in upholding Warmist dogma.  There are plenty of local weather influences.

2). And it's a wonder that they mention the rise in CO2 at all, now at a level that was once predicted to be catastrophic.  Where is the catastrophe?

3). And they say that the global temperature  ranked "between second and sixth depending upon the dataset used". So which is it?  The ranking is obviously far from solid.

4). And they say: "sea surface temperature for 2013 was among the 10 warmest on record".  That means that there were 9 years when it was warmer.  So it actually COOLED in 2003.

I will comment no further on such hilarious garbage

In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators—greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc.—continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet, according to the indicators assessed in the State of the Climate in 2013 report, released online today by the American Meteorological Society.

Scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., served as the lead editors of the report, which was compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries around the world (highlights, visuals, full report). It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on air, land, sea, and ice.

“These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “This report provides the foundational information we need to develop tools and services for communities, business, and nations to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of climate change.”

The report uses dozens of climate indicators to track patterns, changes, and trends of the global climate system, including greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. These indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. The report also details cases of unusual and extreme regional events, such as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia in November 2013.


    Greenhouse gases continued to climb: Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, continued to rise during 2013, once again reaching historic high values. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased by 2.8 ppm in 2013, reaching a global average of 395.3 ppm for the year. At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the daily concentration of CO2 exceeded 400 ppm on May 9 for the first time since measurements began at the site in 1958. This milestone follows observational sites in the Arctic that observed this CO2 threshold of 400 ppm in spring 2012.

    Warm temperature trends continued near the Earth’s surface: Four major independent datasets show 2013 was among the warmest years on record, ranking between second and sixth depending upon the dataset used. In the Southern Hemisphere, Australia observed its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second warmest and New Zealand its third warmest.

    Sea surface temperatures increased: Four independent datasets indicate that the globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2013 was among the 10 warmest on record. El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral conditions in the eastern central Pacific Ocean and a negative Pacific decadal oscillation pattern in the North Pacific had the largest impacts on the global sea surface temperature during the year. The North Pacific was record warm for 2013.

    Sea level continued to rise: Global mean sea level continued to rise during 2013, on pace with a trend of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year over the past two decades.

    The Arctic continued to warm; sea ice extent remained low: The Arctic observed its seventh warmest year since records began in the early 20th century. Record high temperatures were measured at 20-meter depth at permafrost stations in Alaska. Arctic sea ice extent was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. All seven lowest sea ice extents on record have occurred in the past seven years.

    Antarctic sea ice extent reached record high for second year in a row; South Pole station set record high temperature: The Antarctic maximum sea ice extent reached a record high of 7.56 million square miles on October 1. This is 0.7 percent higher than the previous record high extent of 7.51 million square miles that occurred in 2012 and 8.6 percent higher than the record low maximum sea ice extent of 6.96 million square miles that occurred in 1986. Near the end of the year, the South Pole had its highest annual temperature since records began in 1957.

    Tropical cyclones near average overall / Historic Super Typhoon: The number of tropical cyclones during 2013 was slightly above average, with a total of 94 storms, in comparison to the 1981-2010 average of 89. The North Atlantic Basin had its quietest season since 1994. However, in the Western North Pacific Basin, Super Typhoon Haiyan – the deadliest cyclone of 2013 – had the highest wind speed ever assigned to a tropical cyclone, with one-minute sustained winds estimated to be 196 miles per hour.

State of the Climate in 2013 is the 24th edition in a peer-reviewed series published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The journal makes the full report openly available online.

"State of the Climate is vital to documenting the world's climate," said Dr. Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director. "AMS members in all parts of the world contribute to this NOAA-led effort to give the public a detailed scientific snapshot of what's happening in our world and builds on prior reports we've published."


Owen Paterson to give climate sceptic group's keynote address

Owen Paterson, the sacked Environment Secretary, has signed up to deliver the annual lecture of the controversial climate sceptic group founded by former Chancellor Nigel Lawson.

Mr Paterson, who was frequently accused of climate scepticism by environmental campaigners during his tenure, was axed in Monday's reshuffle and had already warned the Prime Minister he intended to be vocal from the backbenches.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, founded by Mr Lawson in 2009, describes itself as "open-minded on the contested science of global warming" but "deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated".

Critics say it misleads people by casting doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus over manmade climate change.

Mr Paterson will deliver the GWPF's annual lecture in October, the group announced on Friday.

Last year's lecture was delivered by John Howard, the former Australian Prime Minister, who described advocates of tackling climate change as “alarmists” and “zealots”.

Asked on Friday whether he GWPF engagement confirmed he was a climate sceptic, Mr Paterson said only: "I am a realistic country person."

"I'm giving the lecture, my views will be made clear then," he told the Telegraph, while appearing at the CLA Game Fair.

Mr Paterson's speech will have the potential to embarrass David Cameron, who has said climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the UK.

Mr Paterson was criticised for his response to the floods last winter, which Mr Cameron said he "strongly suspected" were linked to climate change.

Environmental groups suggested that Mr Paterson had failed to take the increasing risk of floods seriously because he was sceptical of climate science.

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth energy campaigner, tweeted that Mr Paterson was revealing his "true colours" while Ben Stewart, Greenpeace UK's head of news, tweeted "that didn't take long".

Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner said: "This is beyond satire, and confirms that Owen Paterson was never fit to hold the post of Environment Secretary.

"Liz Truss must make a clean break with her predecessor by backing urgent action to slash emissions, and by speaking to scientists and experts - not the climate quacks at the GWPF."

Mr Paterson said he was “disappointed” to lose his job on Monday night after being summoned to the Prime Minister’s Commons office, and said he wanted to push his “clear ideas” about the future of the country.

“At this critical moment in our nation’s history, I have clear ideas on the future of the UK and its place in the world. I intend to continue to serve my country and constituents from the backbenches,” he said in a letter released by Downing Street.


The Prince Really is Potty – Dangerously So!

By Rich Kozlovich

Prince Charles has been criticized a lot over the years, including for claiming how ‘crucial’ it is to talk to plants. He claims, "I happily talk to the plants and trees, and listen to them. I think it's absolutely crucial," "Everything I've done here, it's like almost with your children. Every tree has a meaning for me."
I’m willing to bet the ancient Druids felt the same way.

One thing we must come to understand about these ‘green’ loons is this.  The issue is now and has always been, the battle between nature worshipers and worshipers of God. Modern environmentalism is nothing more than a neo-pagan nature worshiping movement that is irrational, misanthropic and morally defective, dressed up to appear modern and science based in its approach and thinking.

I’ve been reading R. Mark Musser’s Nazi Oaks, which outlines the historical accuracy of my statement. The policies, philosophy and programs promoted by the Green movement in the West, including the Prince’s, originated in the dark mist covered forests of ancient Germania and the nature worship of the ancient Celtic religion of the Druids, who were the educated, professional class, whose function was to be the intermediaries between the gods and mankind. They would make the decisions for their people.  Sound familiar?

In the mid to late 1800’s German philosophers attempted to define these pagan originated concepts into a modern philosophy, and people like Martin Heidegger, who promoted his green claptrap well into the 20th century, helped to develop it into codified law under the Nazis. Everything the green movement has espoused in modern times is nothing more than a carbon copy of Nazi green laws, including the Precautionary Principle.

It has been claimed that the Precautionary Principle originated in the 1970's, with the German green movement and the influence of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. That may have been a strong influence for adopting it in the Maastricht treaty, but while the origin is clearly German, the philosophy goes back much further. According to Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen in a chapter which appeared in the book “Interpreting the Precautionary Principle” edited by Tim O’Riordan and James Cameron, the Precautionary Principle;

“evolved out of the German Socio-legal tradition, created in the heyday of democratic socialism in the 1930’s, centering on the concept of good household management. This was regarded as a constructive partnership between the individual, the economy and the state to manage change so as to improve the lot of both society and the natural world upon which it deepened for survival.

 This invested the precautionary principle with a managerial or programmable quality, a purposeful role in guiding future political and regularity action.

In short, under the concept of Precautionary Principle – which no matter what is claimed is virtually indefinable in the real world, or if you will, unendingly re-definable according to someone's whim - was codifying central planning for everything by elitists bureaucrats that “know best” for everyone and who would make all the decisions using ‘saving the planet’ as a theme to justify tyranny. Remember who ran Germany in the 1930’s? Adolph Hitler! A monstrous incompetent who’s “Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick considered those who were mentally ill, incurable sick or handicapped to be useless eaters”. He was one of the primary authors of Nazi euthanasia law. Accordingly his contribution to “Nazism was to envisage the monstrous and cloak it in law”.
Please keep that sentence in mind as we go along.

The Prince has been quoted as saying, "I got a lot of flak for a lot of things”….."I mean, potty this, potty that, loony this, loony that." Well, maybe there’s a reason for those expressed views.  They're accurate!

This is a future monarch who privately ‘consorts’ with government ministers to promote his pet policies, including his views on climate change, modern agricultural practices, genetically modified organisms, which he claims, “despite all evidence to the contrary, will lead to mass extinction of our species”. One journalist, Jeff Randall, suggested to the Prince that the future of farming perhaps should be with industrial-scale production, the Prince 'exploded' saying 'That would be the complete destruction of everything!' And he’s frustrated because no one in government will go along with his ‘potty’ views on 'complementary medicine’, which would include coffee enemas as a cure for cancer.

Quite frankly, I never understood why the British has a Constitutional Monarchy that’s not permitted to express opinions, privately or publically. If that’s the case just dump them, but that’s another issue.

It’s claimed the Prince isn’t an unkind man, in fact it appears just the opposite according to one writer, but that truly calls the caliber of his mind into question. It’s been said, “If you are waiting to be the King of the United Kingdom, and you’ve waited a very long time, you genuinely have to engage with something or you’d go spare.” Well, perhaps that’s the problem. This is man who has lived an amazingly privileged life, for which he did nothing to earn, and desperately desires to be meaningful.

Well, he chose poorly and he’s failed!  One writer noted;

“Everything that Charles holds dear, certainly. While he is always accorded the reputation of being a 'progressive', in fact, he is a spectacularly reactionary figure, whose ideal vision of Britain is a kind of pre-industrial paradise — which never existed.“
There are a number of things we know for sure. The policies the Prince promotes such as; “renewable energy only, no pesticides, no industrial-scale farming — would lead to a crippling increase in the prices of everything from home heating to the cereal we feed our children.” “The point is that all the technological advances the Prince detests have been designed to reduce the cost of living for the public. Yes, the companies that make those breakthroughs are motivated above all by the desire to increase profits — but that does not make their achievements contemptible. “

As for Nobel-Prize winner Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution which saved untold millions in India - the Prince denounced it. Truth is the sublime convergence of history and reality, and the ‘self sufficient and sustainable’ practices the Prince promotes “slaughtered millions of populations on the subcontinent”. Is it possible he can’t be aware of that? That’s a historical fact he must be aware of.  The Prince is, as all the world’s leaders, at the center of the information world.  How can he be unaware of the history of what occurred before modern agriculture?

Norman Borlaug was what Prince Charles would love to be. A truly great man, and may have been the greatest man to live in the 20th century for his “Green Revolution”, possibly saving the lives of a billion people from starvation. A man who earned all the accolades accorded to him including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and India’s second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan.

When Borlaug's work has been challenged by these prominent pampered people like the Prince he states:

'They have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they'd be outraged that fashionable elitists were trying to deny them these things.”

Of course the Prince and his cohorts make the claim they’re saving the planet, but the reality is they’re codifying or attempting to codify laws that would be monstrous to billions of people. They’re not saving the planet they’re attempting to impose a worldwide government that will plan and execute laws at the expense of the people living on it. The number one thought that's shared by all these greenies is there are too many people on the planet.  The 'moderates' among them wish to eliminate between four and five billion people.  The minority wishes for mankind to cease to exist.

The Prince is dangerous in a number of ways because he has a platform on the world's stage, and he’s is either historically ignorant- or chooses to be.  He is intellectually and scientifically ignorant – or chooses to be.   And he must be morally clueless - and chooses to be - because he’s chosen to ignore the history and science showing all his views are irrational, misanthropic and morally defective.


An eco-friendly Harley Davidson – worst idea ever?

Within a year, an eco-friendly, electronic version of the famous motorcycle will be on sale – without the va-va-vroom which gives us such a thrill.

The idea of an electronic version of the Harley Davidson is the worst idea in commercial history – after Cherry Coke and the autobiography of Michaela Biancofiore, the Italian politician. The Harley Davidson is akin to a garish bimbo - and yet the whole essence of such a bimbo is her very appearance.

To deprive the Harley Davidson of its infamous noisome rumble, and to replace it with an electric alternative, is not only an awful idea, it’s just weird. It’s like taking away the chug-chug sound from an espresso machine, or the school bell from playtime, or the fanfare of a military parade. These are unrivalled sounds, and the vulgar, bombastic noise of a Harley is also historic, it being the only motor sound to be protected by copyright.

That’s not all. Women say that a Harley’s roar is the last bastion of true virility, a hallmark of authentic masculinity. You feel and even know that a heterosexual male is driving one. Even if it’s a bit boorish, the bike is still masculine.

My fear now with this metrosexual version of the Harley is that your typical biker will soon adapt himself to it. Before you know it, we’ll be finding hordes of these one-time ex-centurions of the road dressed in dyed skinny-jeans and moccasins.

You can’t ride a Harley that makes no noise. You can’t ask for a ride in a contraption that makes the same sound as a golf cart or a child’s toy. Be gone with your puny, eco-Harley Davidson, I implore you. Perhaps the planet won’t be grateful to us for saying as much, but women will be. And how!


People, your TVs are too big!

Earlier this year, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat secretary of state for energy, hit a new low in proposals to deal with Britain’s inadequate and pricey energy supply. In a startling new insight, he declared that the government would pay factories to shut down at times of peak demand, that no economic activity would be curtailed by such a measure, and that it was ‘cheaper than building new power stations’.

Now he has gone one worse.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have just published a report with the oxymoronic title Powering the Nation 2: Electricity use in homes, and how to reduce it. It pretty much does to households what Davey’s earlier scheme proposed for factories. True, the government won’t pay you to switch off the TV, lights and other appliances in your home; but, to save on Britain’s consumption of energy, it would like you to buy smaller TVs, if you’re a working-class telly addict. And, if you’re middle class, it would like you to stop buying big fridges.

‘We cannot make informed decisions about electricity generation’, the report pompously declares, ‘without also understanding the potential for efficiencies and savings from households… This relies on robust data and analysis.’ What the authors – researchers at Loughborough University and consultancy firm Cambridge Architectural Research – mean by this turns out to be simple. Manufacturers of household appliances need to improve the energy efficiency of their machines – despite the fact that, according to DECC itself, they have been doing exactly this.

Old people and poor people (or members of Britain’s ‘claimant culture’, according to the classification quoted from the market research company Experian) need to stop using electricity to heat their homes, and switch to gas instead. And everyone should cut back, so that, in sum, energy savings equivalent to ‘more than the annual output of two large (1.5 GW) power stations’ can be made.
Related categories

As Nicola Terry, a co-author of the report, put it: ‘Why do we need a bigger TV, and why do we need a bigger fridge? [The trouble is that] when people go to the shop they think, that’s bigger it must be better.’

The disdain felt by the authors for the populace is all too palpable. The possibility that people might want a bigger screen to enjoy the World Cup does not seem to occur to our learned experts. And have they never considered the possibility that dispensing with big freezers and, instead, making a daily visit to get your super fresh in-season organically-grown pesticide-free victuals could actually use a lot of petrol?

No, they haven’t. They know better than the plebs. Just keep on with fruitless efforts to lower demand for energy. Anything, anything but build new power stations!


Australian carbon price helped curb emissions, ANU study finds

As something of a coincidence with Australia's repeal of the carbon tax, a study has come out claiming that the tax did have the effect intended.  A report of the study plus the journal abstract is given below.  There is no intrinsic problem with that conclusion.  Taxing something does generally reduce demand for it.  I nonetheless think that the report is pure guesswork.  I cannot see how they can separate out the effect of the tax from other  factors bearing down on electricity generation. 

For most of the period surveyed the Labor government was in power, energetically pressing a variety of policies designed to have the same effect as the tax.  The winding back of brown coal powered generation in Victoria is the most obvious example of that.  Shutting down the cheapest power generators in the country took some time but it did eventually happen to some extent in the latter phase of ALP rule. 

And if you read the abstract, it is clear that estimates (guesses) were involved.  Their admission:  "There are fundamental difficulties in attributing observed changes in demand and supply to specific causes" is very much to the point

Australia cut carbon dioxide emissions from its electricity sector by as much as 17 million tonnes because of the carbon price and would have curbed more had industry expected the price to be permanent, according to an Australian National University study.

The report, due to be submitted for peer-reviewed publication, found the two years of the carbon price had a discernible impact on emissions even assuming conservative responses by consumers and businesses.

“We see the carbon price doing what it was meant to do, and what it was expected to do, namely dampen demand and shift the supply from dirtier to cleaner sources of electricity,” said Associate Professor Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, and a co-author of the report with the centre’s Marianna O’Gorman.

The paper comes as the Senate voted on Thursday to bring almost five years of Coalition campaigning against a price on carbon to an end by repealing the tax. Labor and the Greens say they will continue to push for a price on emissions.

The ANU report, which used official market data to the end of June, found the drop in power demand attributed to the carbon price was between 2.5 and 4.2 terawatt-hours per year, or about 1.3 to 2.3 per cent of the National Electricity Market serving about 80 per cent of Australia’s population.

Emissions-intensive brown and black coal-fired power generators cut output, with about 4 gigawatts of capacity taken offline. The emissions intensity of NEM supply dropped between 16 and 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of supply, underscoring the role of carbon pricing rather than slumping demand in curbing pollution, the paper said.

However, investors’ doubts that the carbon tax would last – fostered in part by then opposition leader Tony Abbott’s “blood oath” to repeal it if the Coalition took office - meant high-emissions generators were mothballed rather than permanently closed.

“We’d expect the impact of the carbon price would have been larger, perhaps far larger, if there had been an expectation that the carbon price would have continued,” Professor Jotzo said.

Falling demand

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has said repeatedly that the carbon tax was ineffective, stating Australia’s total emissions fell 0.1 per cent in the first year.

More recent figures, though, show the emissions drop accelerated, with 2013’s 0.8 per cent economy-wide fall the largest annual reduction in the 24 years of monitoring. In the power sector, the industry most directly covered by the carbon price, emissions fell 5 per cent.

“As confirmed by Origin Energy managing director Grant King, there are other factors resulting in lower emissions in the electricity sector – including lower demand, the impact of the [Renewable Energy Target], flooding at the Yallourn power station and increased hydro output,” a spokesman for Mr Hunt said.

However, the ANU paper takes those factors into account in estimating the carbon price impact, Professor Jotzo said.

Rather, the impact of the carbon price is probably understated. The highly politicised debate preceded its implementation by about a year, prompting energy consumers to focus more on electricity costs – and presumably to begin making savings – well before the tax began.

“We would expect politically motivated talk ... may well have had a large impact on people’s power usage patterns,” Professor Jotzo said....

“The only thing that went wrong in Australia was the politics of climate change policy,” Professor Jotzo said. “There was nothing inherently wrong with scheme.”


Impact of the carbon price on Australia’s electricity demand, supply and emissions

Marianna O'Gorman, Frank Jotzo


Australia’s carbon price has been in operation for two years. The electricity sector accounts for the majority of emissions covered under the scheme. This paper examines the impact of the carbon price on the electricity sector between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2014, focusing on the National Electricity Market (NEM). Over this period, electricity demand in the NEM declined by 3.8 per cent, the emissions intensity of electricity supply by 4.6 per cent, and overall emissions by 8.2 per cent, compared to the two-year period before the carbon price. We detail observable changes in power demand and supply mix, and estimate the quantitative effect of the effect of the carbon price. We estimate that the carbon price led to an average 10 per cent increase in nominal retail household electricity prices, an average 15 per cent increase in industrial electricity prices and a 59 per cent increase in wholesale (spot) electricity prices. It is likely that in response, households, businesses and the industrial sector reduced their electricity use. We estimate the demand reduction attributable to the carbon price at 2.5 to 4.2 TWh per year, about 1.3 to 2.3 per cent of total electricity demand in the NEM. The carbon price markedly changed relative costs between different types of power plants. Emissions-intensive brown coal and black coal generators reduced output and 4GW of emissions-intensive generation capacity was taken offline. We estimate that these shifts in the supply mix resulted in a 16 to 28kg CO2/MWh reduction in the emissions intensity of power supply in the NEM, a reduction between 1.8 and 3.3 per cent. The combined impact attributable to the carbon price is estimated as a reduction of between 5 and 8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions (3.2 to 5 per cent) in 2012/13 and between 6 and 9 million tonnes (3.5 to 5.6 per cent) in 2013/14, and between 11 and 17 million tonnes cumulatively. There are fundamental difficulties in attributing observed changes in demand and supply to specific causes, especially over the short term, and in this light we use conservative parameters in the estimation of the effect of the carbon price. We conclude that the carbon price has worked as expected in terms of its short-term impacts. However, its effect on investment in power generation assets has probably been limited, because of policy uncertainty about the continuation of the carbon pricing mechanism. For emissions pricing to have its full effect, a stable, long-term policy framework is needed.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


18 July, 2014

Global Warming Reaches New Records

If you look up the Japanese records concerned, you find that the exciting temperature concerned is in fact only three tenths of one degree Celsius above the 30 year average.  Such a tiny rise would  excite only a Warmist and if real, could easily be just a natural fluctuation

And since the temperature concerned is for June only, the rise could well be cancelled out over the rest of the year.  Attaching any weight to just one month is cherrypicking

Scientific evidence about the rising of average global temperatures seems to be piling up.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, average global temperatures in April, May and June this year were the highest since the beginning of official records, in 1891.

The Japanese records, released on Monday, show that this year’s second quarter was about 0.68 degrees Celsius warmer than the average for the whole 20th century.

U.S. space agency NASA uses different method for calculating average temperature, but its records, released Monday, show almost identical results.

In addition, the U.S. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Mauna Loa Observatory reports that the monthly average of carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere reached 400 parts per million, the highest in the last 800,000 years.


U.S. Amb. Blames 'Climate Change' for Hotel That Collapsed 12 Yrs Ago on African Beach

Against all the evidence.  About what you would expect of Samantha Power

 U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power posted photos on Twitter Wednesday to illustrate the purported effects of climate change on a West African nation’s coastline, but the pictures show a hotel that collapsed into the sea 12 years ago, the victim of erosion blamed largely on years of illegal mining of coastal sand.

“Had sobering meeting with Benin’s U.N. Ambassador, who described the devastating effects of climate change on his coastal country,” she tweeted. “Showed me chilling photos of eroding coastline, said ‘that’s climate change – a daily life of falling in the sea.’”

Although not identified by Power, the two photos posted with the tweet are of the remains of the Palm Hotel in Cotonou, the largest city in Benin, a small, narrow country tucked between Nigeria and Togo. The building collapsed in 2002, 20 years after it was built.

A Nexis search of news reports going back almost two decades shows that Benin, like its Gulf of Guinea neighbors, has long struggled with coastal erosion, a problem recorded since the 1960s.

The earlier reports, however, say nothing about climate change, rising sea levels or melting icecaps.

Instead, the erosion is attributed largely to activity by locals and poor decision-making by authorities in the affected countries, and in Cotonou’s particular case to the city’s location on a narrow strip of low-lying land, between a large lake and the sea.

A 1997 Pan African News Agency (PANA) report blamed Benin’s coastal erosion on a “lack of coherent environmental policy, high population growth and over-exploitation of natural resources.”

Another PANA report the following year quoted an Organization for African Unity (now African Union) scientific commissioner as saying in a speech on Benin’s coastal erosion that the causes were both local human activity and natural phenomena, including “very low coastal topography, intense waves and high winds and weak soils.”

In 2001, a report by the United Nations’ Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) news service referred to disruptions of natural sand movement along the West African coast, including Benin, caused by the construction decades earlier of the port of Lome in neighboring Togo, which included the construction of a 1.1 mile-long protective jetty

An IRIN report in 2003 noted the collapse of Cotonou’s Palm Hotel the previous year, but made no reference to global climate change or rising sea levels.

“Environmentalists say the building of a new port [in Cotonou] 40 years ago, the construction of dams on rivers near the coast, the removal of sand from beaches to make cement, and other human activities are partly responsible for the coastline’s rapid retreat,” it said.

“The city began to suffer coastal erosion in 1962 after the construction of breakwaters for new deep-water port interrupted the wave-driven movement of sand along the coastline,” the report said. “For the next 25 years the waterfront to the east of the breakwaters, deprived of new sediments to make up for those being washed further down the coast, retreated by 15 to 20 meters a year.”

The report quoted a Port of Cotonou coastal management expert as saying that more than one million cubic meters of sand are removed from Benin’s beaches each year.

A 2005 BBC report on erosion in Cotonou referred to plans to build levees along the coast to protect the city from “the invasion of the ocean.”

But it, too, did not refer to rising sea levels or climate change.

“It is claimed that the taking of sand from the beaches is, in effect, digging the city’s grave,” the report said.

A U.N. Development Program (UNDP) project started in 2008 points to another contributor to Benin’s erosion problems – the harvesting of oysters in ways that damage mangrove trees by chopping healthy branches. Encouraging more sustaining methods of removing the oysters, the UNDP noted that the mangrove trees help to “protect the coastline from erosion.”

‘All due to climate change’

Only in more recent years have references to climate change started to appear in news reports on Benin’s erosion problems.

An IRIN report in Aug. 2008 quoted a German environmental activist as saying coastal erosion along the Gulf of Guinea “is all due to climate change – the greenhouse gas emissions result in global warming and subsequent melting of the Greenland ice cap.”

A month later, another IRIN report said, “Coastal erosion in the Gulf of Guinea, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, has been linked to climate change, and in turn to rising sea levels, flooding, and waterborne diseases.”

However, the same report also reported on the sand removal problem.

“Until recently, it was legal for companies in Benin to pump sand from the beach for construction projects, further shrinking the coast,” it said. “The government banned this practice in September 2007, but locals say they still see companies hauling away sand.”

(Another IRIN report, in Oct. 2008, said the ban had in fact been put in place 15 years earlier, but that “coastal sand mining is still common in Benin.”)

A 2011 Inter Press Service report on coastal erosion in the area blamed both local human activity and global climate change.

“Climate change-induced rises in sea levels are part of the problem, but other activities such as unregulated sand mining and the destruction of coastal mangrove forests have also played a role throughout the region,” it said.

Benin, a country with a population of around 10 million, is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania.


EPA ‘Changes the Rules in the Middle of the Game', Congress Told

 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "changes the rules in the middle of the game" by vetoing previously issued dredge-and-fill permits, representatives from multiple business associations told members of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment at a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday.
“The developer enters the permitting process believing that once it proves it can meet every condition imposed by the government, that it will hold the permit for a specific number of years to both complete and operate the project,” William Kovacs, vice president of the environment, technology, and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, testified at the hearing.

Kovacs stated that it often takes several years and costs developers “millions of dollars” to get a permit, only to have it revoked, creating "great uncertainty” for developers that discourages them from pursuing new projects.

“A permit has value only as long as the administrator believes it should not be revoked,” Kovacs said, adding that "seeking a permit becomes an expensive gamble with company and stockholder assets."

Harold Quinn, the president and CEO of the National Mining Association, echoed Kovacs’ remarks, stating that permit certainty is an “essential and highly valued commodity.”

“We need to be able to rely upon the fact that the permits conditions will not change,” agreed Nick Ivanoff, senior vice chairman of the American Roads and Transportation Builders Association. He stated that developers “could lose permits through no fault of their own, but simply because EPA changes the rules in the middle of the game.”

“If EPA has its way, every permit will forever remain subject to modification and even revocation at literally any time, simply because EPA unilaterally changes its opinion of information that it has long possessed,” said Leah Pilconis, senior environmental advisor to the Associated General Contractors of America.

According to a summary by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to issue dredge-and-fill permits with EPA oversight under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act of 1972.

However, Patrick Parenteau, a professor at Vermont Law School, who worked as a regional counselor with the EPA for over 40 years, stated that the agency has every right to retroactively veto permits, but added that it has rarely chosen to exercise this option.

“This law [Clean Water Act] authorizes EPA to exercise this very rare, last resort, very carefully crafted authority before, during, or after the issuance of a 404 permit,” he said, adding that the EPA has only exercised its veto authority 13 times out of 2 million permit activities.

“404(c) is not broken,” Parenteau told subcommittee members. “It should be retained.”

In 2011, the EPA vetoed a 404(c) permit for Arch Coal on its Spruce Mine, located in Logan County, West Virginia. According to the Transportation Committee’s summary, Arch Coal conducted an extensive 10-year environmental review prior to receiving its permit in 2007 and had complied with all provisions of Section 404 following authorization.

In March 2012, a U.S. District judge overruled the EPA’s use of its retroactive veto, calling it “a stunning power for an agency to arrogate itself when there is absolutely no mention of it in the statute.”

But this decision was overturned in 2013 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up the case at this time.


Wind turbine fires 'ten times more common than thought', experts warn

Wind turbines may catch on fire ten times more often than is publicly reported, putting nearby properties at risk and casting doubt on their green credentials, researchers have warned.

The renewable energy industry keeps no record of the number of turbine fires, meaning the true extent of the problem is unknown, a study backed by Imperial College London finds on Thursday.

An average of 11.7 such fires are reported globally each year, by media, campaign groups and other publicly-available sources, but this is likely to represent just the “tip of the iceberg”.

There could in fact be 117 turbine fires each year, it argues, based on analysis showing just 10pc of all wind farm accidents are typically reported.

Fires tend to be “catastrophic”, leading to turbines worth more than £2 million each being written off, because the blazes occur so high up that they are almost impossible to put out, it warns.

Turbines are prone to catching on fire because their design puts highly flammable materials such as hydraulic oil and plastic in close proximity to machinery and electrical wires, which can ignite a fire if they overheat or are faulty.

“Lots of oxygen, in the form of high winds, can quickly fan a fire inside a turbine,” it says. “Once ignited, the chances of fighting the blaze are slim due to the height of the wind turbine and the remote locations they are often in.”

It warns: “Under high wind conditions, burning debris from the turbine may fall on nearby vegetation and start forest fires or cause serious damage to property.”

The main causes of fires are lightning strikes, electrical malfunction, mechanical failure, and errors with maintenance, it finds.

The academics used data compiled by the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (CWIF), an anti-wind lobby group, which records 1,328 accidents involving wind farms globally between 1995 and 2012. Of these, 200 – 15 per cent - involved turbines catching on fire, implying 11.7 fires per year.

But the report, published in the journal Fire Safety Science, also back CWIF’s view that the true number is far higher.

It points out that the wind industry body, Renewable UK, has admitted there were 1,500 wind farm accidents and incidents in the UK alone between 2006 and 2010 - while just 142 individual accidents in the UK were documented in CWIF’s database over the same period.

This implies that less than 10pc of incidents are publicly reported.

Dr Guillermo Rein, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial, said: “Fires are a problem for the industry, impacting on energy production, economic output and emitting toxic fumes. This could cast a shadow over the industry's green credentials. Worryingly our report shows that fire may be a bigger problem than what is currently reported.”

He told the Telegraph he believed it was “the responsibility of the industry” to keep a proper database and believed the industry itself had been “surprised by the magnitude of the problem”.

UK cases highlighted in the report include a 100-metre tall turbine that caught fire during hurricane-force winds at Ardrossan in North Ayrshire in December 2011, reportedly due to a lightning strike. The wind turbine was completely burnt out and debris scattered over large distances due to the strong wind.

In 2005, a turbine at the Nissan factory in Sunderland was engulfed in fire before falling onto a nearby A-road, causing traffic disruption. The blaze was believed to be caused by a loose bolt jamming a mechanism, causing it to overheat.

Dr John Constable, director of Renewable Energy Foundation, which has published research showing that wind turbine performance declines sharply with age, said: “This new study on wind turbine fire hazards is an important reminder that there are hidden operation and maintenance costs affecting the economic lifetime of what is after all very expensive equipment. Just because the wind is free doesn’t mean that it is a cheap way of generating electricity.”

A spokesman for Renewable UK said it did “not have numbers of fires as in many cases these do not need to be formally reported”.

Renewable UK’s director of health and safety, Chris Streatfeild, said: “The wind industry welcomes any research that will help reduce maintenance times and improve safety standards. However, the industry would probably challenge a number of the assumptions that are presented in the research, which include the questionable reliability of the data sources referenced and perhaps more importantly a failure to understand the safety and integrity standards for fire safety that are in effect standard practice in any large wind turbine.”

He said: “Fire is a very important issue for the industry in terms worker and public safety as well in reducing costs through minimising any operational down time. However the operational practices and design standards are such that the actual safety risks associated fire are extremely low. No member of the public has ever been injured by a wind turbine in the UK.”


Though Scorned by Colleagues, a Climate-Change Skeptic Is Unbowed

John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, says he remembers the morning he spotted a well-known colleague at a gathering of climate experts.

“I walked over and held out my hand to greet him,” Dr. Christy recalled. “He looked me in the eye, and he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Come on, shake hands with me.’ And he said, ‘No.’ ”

Dr. Christy is an outlier on what the vast majority of his colleagues consider to be a matter of consensus: that global warming is both settled science and a dire threat. He regards it as neither. Not that the earth is not heating up. It is, he says, and carbon dioxide spewed from power plants, automobiles and other sources is at least partly responsible.

But in speeches, congressional testimony and peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals, he argues that predictions of future warming have been greatly overstated and that humans have weathered warmer stretches without perishing. Dr. Christy’s willingness to publicize his views, often strongly, has also hurt his standing among scientists who tend to be suspicious of those with high profiles. His frequent appearances on Capitol Hill have almost always been at the request of Republican legislators opposed to addressing climate change.

“I detest words like ‘contrarian’ and ‘denier,’ ” he said. “I’m a data-driven climate scientist. Every time I hear that phrase, ‘The science is settled,’ I say I can easily demonstrate that that is false, because this is the climate — right here. The science is not settled.”

Dr. Christy was pointing to a chart comparing seven computer projections of global atmospheric temperatures based on measurements taken by satellites and weather balloons. The projections traced a sharp upward slope; the actual measurements, however, ticked up only slightly.

Such charts — there are others, sometimes less dramatic but more or less accepted by the large majority of climate scientists — are the essence of the divide between that group on one side and Dr. Christy and a handful of other respected scientists on the other.

“Almost anyone would say the temperature rise seen over the last 35 years is less than the latest round of models suggests should have happened,” said Carl Mears, the senior research scientist at Remote Sensing Systems, a California firm that analyzes satellite climate readings.

“Where the disagreement comes is that Dr. Christy says the climate models are worthless and that there must be something wrong with the basic model, whereas there are actually a lot of other possibilities,” Dr. Mears said. Among them, he said, are natural variations in the climate and rising trade winds that have helped funnel atmospheric heat into the ocean.

Dr. Christy has drawn the scorn of his colleagues partly because they believe that so much is at stake and that he is providing legitimacy to those who refuse to acknowledge that. If the models are imprecise, they argue, the science behind them is compelling, and it is very likely that the world has only a few decades to stave off potentially catastrophic warming.

And if he is wrong, there is no redo.

“It’s kind of like telling a little girl who’s trying to run across a busy street to catch a school bus to go for it, knowing there’s a substantial chance that she’ll be killed,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “She might make it. But it’s a big gamble to take.”

By contrast, Dr. Christy argues that reining in carbon emissions is both futile and unnecessary, and that money is better spent adapting to what he says will be moderately higher temperatures. Among other initiatives, he said, the authorities could limit development in coastal and hurricane-prone areas, expand flood plains, make manufactured housing more resistant to tornadoes and high winds, and make farms in arid regions less dependent on imported water — or move production to rainier places.

Dr. Christy’s scenario is not completely out of the realm of possibility, his critics say, but it is highly unlikely.

In interviews, prominent scientists, while disagreeing with Dr. Christy, took pains to acknowledge his credentials. They are substantial: Dr. Christy, 63, has researched climate issues for 27 years and was a lead author — in essence, an editor — of a section of the 2001 report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the definitive assessment of the state of global warming. With a colleague at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Dr. Roy Spencer, he received NASA’s medal for exceptional scientific achievement in 1991 for building a global temperature database.

That model, which concluded that a layer of the atmosphere was unexpectedly cooling, was revised to show slight warming after other scientists documented flaws in its methodology. It has become something of a scientific tit for tat. Dr. Christy and Dr. Spencer’s own recalculations scaled back the amount of warming, leading to further assaults on their methodology.

Dr. Christy’s response sits on his bookshelf: a thick stack of yellowed paper with the daily weather data he began recording in Fresno, Calif., in the 1960s. It was his first data set, he said, the foundation of a conviction that “you have to know what’s happening before you know why it’s happening, and that comes back to data.”

Dr. Christy says he became fascinated with weather as a fifth grader when a snowstorm hit Fresno in 1961. By his high school junior year, he had taught himself Fortran, the first widely used programming language, and had programmed a school computer to make weather predictions. After earning a degree in mathematics at California State University, Fresno, he became an evangelical Christian missionary in Kenya, married and returned as pastor of a mission church in South Dakota.

There, as a part-time college math teacher, he found his true calling. He left the pastoral position, earned a doctorate in atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois and moved to Alabama.

And while his work has been widely published, he has often been vilified by his peers. Dr. Christy is mentioned, usually critically, in dozens of the so-called Climategate emails that were hacked from the computers of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Center, the British keeper of global temperature records, in 2009.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
“John Christy has made a scientific career out of being wrong,” one prominent climate scientist, Benjamin D. Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, wrote in one 2008 email. “He’s not even a third-rate scientist.”

Another email included a photographic collage showing Dr. Christy and other scientists who question the extent of global warming, some stranded on a tiny ice floe labeled “North Pole” and others buoyed in the sea by a life jacket and a yellow rubber ducky. A cartoon balloon depicts three of them saying, “Global warming is a hoax.”

Some, including those who disagree with Dr. Christy, are dismayed by the treatment.

“Show me two scientists who agree on everything,” said Peter Thorne, a senior researcher at Norway’s Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center who wrote a 2005 research article on climate change with Dr. Christy. “We may disagree over what we are finding, but we should be playing the ball and not the man.”

Dr. Christy has been dismissed in environmental circles as a pawn of the fossil-fuel industry who distorts science to fit his own ideology. (“I don’t take money from industries,” he said.)

He says he worries that his climate stances are affecting his chances of publishing future research and winning grants. The largest of them, a four-year Department of Energy stipend to investigate discrepancies between climate models and real-world data, expires in September.

“There’s a climate establishment,” Dr. Christy said. “And I’m not in it.”


Man Sentenced to 30 Days for Catching Rain Water on Own Property Enters Jail

Gary Harrington, the Oregon man convicted of collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his rural property surrendered Wednesday morning to begin serving his 30-day, jail sentence in Medford, Ore.

“I’m sacrificing my liberty so we can stand up as a country and stand for our liberty,” Harrington told a small crowd of people gathered outside of the Jackson County (Ore.) Jail.

Several people held signs that showed support for Harrington as he was taken inside the jail.

Harrington was found guilty two weeks ago of breaking a 1925 law for having, what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property. He was convicted of nine misdemeanors, sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined over $1500 for collecting rainwater and snow runoff on his property.

The Oregon Water Resources Department, claims that Harrington has been violating the state’s water use law by diverting water from streams running into the Big Butte River.

But Harrington says he is not diverting the state's water -- merely collecting rainwater and snow melt that falls or flows on his own property.

Harrington has vowed to continue to fight the penalty, stating that the government has become “big bullies” and that “from here on in, I’m going to fight it.”

“They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies, Harrington said in an interview two weeks ago with

"We as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he said.

His release is expected in early September.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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17 July, 2014


Australia has just abolished its carbon tax.  It has now passed both houses and awaits only the formality of Royal Assent

Australia's conservative Prime Minister, Tony Abbott today


Climate Change Quackery

“He who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.” – Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince,” 1532

A truly scientific case for man-made “climate change” has yet to be made, but never underestimate the ability of the “climate changers” to hide that reality – and nowhere does that lack show up more tellingly than in their “Appeal to Authority” campaign to convince lay-people that it’s all “settled science.”

NASA itself, for example, has been stating for years that “97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities” (“Consensus: 97 percent of climate scientists agree”).

Wow. No kidding? And 100 percent of the people that lived in 1542 believed the Sun orbited the Earth. Believing it, however, just didn’t make it so, as Copernicus was able to demonstrate with his heliocentric theory a mere year later. Need I point out that scientific truth is not determined by the number of a postulate’s adherents?

But this oft-parroted statistic of NASA’s, used to bludgeon any legitimate dissent in the climatology arena, actually merits a little research of its own.

 *  And, upon engaging in such research, one will find that the major source for this figure, W.R.L. Anderegg’s “Expert credibility in climate change,” conducted his research in the following fashion:

“We compiled a database of 1,372 climate researchers based on authorship of scientific assessment reports and membership on multisignatory statements about anthropogenic climate change (ACC).” And, after that, researchers imposed a criterion “that a researcher must have authored a minimum of 20 climate publications to be considered a climate researcher, thus reducing the database to 908 researchers”… And, then, after that, Mr. Anderegg found that “97percent of self-identified actively publishing climate scientists agree with the tenets of ACC.” (National Academy of Sciences,” April 9, 2010.)

So… “97 percent of scientists agree”… Unless you’ve only written 19 or less papers. How convenient.

 *  Another leading source of the “97 percent” figure is John Cook’s “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” (Environmental Research Letters, May 15, 2013).

Well, here’s how Mr. Cook reached his conclusions: He analyzed “11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming.’ We find that 66.4 percent of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6 percent AGW, 0.7 percent rejected AGW and 0.3 percent were uncertain about the cause of global warming.”

And, surprise! “Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1 percent endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.” I guess we’ll just ignore the fact that more than two-thirds of those papers promoted no position at all.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for scientific “research” today. “It is on the basis of this kind of stuff that you are being pushed into a new Dark Age.” (Ayn Rand, “The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” 1971.)

Now, since this entire “debate” (as well as the EPA regs that will soon completely hamstring Wyoming’s economy) is being driven by the impact of “greenhouse gases” in general and carbon dioxide in particular on the Earth’s average temperatures, let’s present the actual facts regarding such supposed correlations.

 *  “There have been many warmings and coolings in the past when the CO2 levels did not change. A well-known example is the medieval warming, about the year 1000, when the Vikings settled Greenland… This warm period was followed by the ‘little ice age’ when the Thames would frequently freeze over during the winter. There is no evidence for significant increase of CO2 in the medieval warm period, nor for a significant decrease at the time of the subsequent little ice age.” (William Happer, “Happer on the truth about greenhouse gases,” Watts Up With That, May 21, 2011.)

 *  And, indeed, as Happer continues, when significant correlations between temperature and CO2 levels do exist, such as correlations discovered by examining the ice-core records of glacial and interglacial cycles, the evidence quite clearly shows the exact opposite effect: That “changes in temperature preceded changes in CO2 levels, so that the levels were an effect of temperature changes.” (Emphases mine.)

Oops. Gee, do you think there might just be something wrong with climatology models? “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”

But let’s just forget about all of this. We’ll just rush, like lemmings off cliffs, to impose ridiculous “standards” regarding CO2 emissions that will have the sole impact of closing power plants, throwing thousands of Wyomingites out of work and jacking everybody’s utility bills sky-high. And all in the name of environmental “science” that is anything but science.

And more: The fact that you, the American taxpayer, are funding nearly all of this garbage whether you like it or not, with thanks to the collectivization and control such “science” breeds, can only be described as criminal.


Keep the EPA's Hands off Your Wages

The EPA wants to pick your pocket

The Environmental Protection Agency, apparently not content with the obscene amount of power it already possesses, has announced a new rule that further distances itself from the traditional checks and balances in government.

The rule would give the agency the power to garnish the wages of private citizens, without a court order, if it is deemed that a violation of the EPA’s Byzantine environmental regulations has taken place. It’s the same power the IRS has when dealing with tax evasion, with the key difference that environmental regulations are not laws passed by Congress, and most people have no idea what these rules actually comprise.

After imposing a fine for a violation, which can total hundreds of thousands of dollars per day, the EPA claims the right to unilaterally seize up to 15% of a person’s wages without any due process of law. Until now, people have been able to contest rule violations in court before having to submit to fines. The new rule will place the burden of proof on the accused, who is punished as if guilty until he can demonstrate otherwise.

There has always been a concerning lack of accountability in regulatory agencies. Now, the EPA wants to circumvent the courts and just do whatever it wants. It has assumed the role, not only of lawmaker, but of law enforcement as well. It is wrong for one agency, run by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, to both make the rules, determine punishments, and carry out those punishments without any check from the other branches of government.

Several Republican senators, including David Vitter (R-LA), have penned a letter opposing the rule asking that it be withdrawn, and citing the case of a woman who was fined $37,500 per day because rain water running across her property had come in contact with dust, feathers, and manure. These type of fines do not just affect big corporations, but individual farmers who lack the resources to comply with such outrageous demands.

You can read the full text of the rule here. The period for public comment is open until August 1st, and the EPA has indicated that, with enough public opposition, they may reconsider the rule. We need every American to push back against these intrusive regulations that allow government bureaucrats to take your money without court approval.


A “Smart-Growth” Revolt in California

 Larkspur City Council voted unanimously to kill a high-density “smart-growth” development plan for this community of 12,000 people 16 miles north of San Francisco.

The plan called for building 39,500 square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of hotel space, 77,500 square feet of retail space, and up to 920 residential units in a half-mile radius around a proposed Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station in Larkspur. The goal was to jam future residents into high-density housing and high-intensity commercial space near a future rail station to purportedly decrease greenhouse gas emissions. But local residents weren’t buying it.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, about 325 people attended the city council meeting, and all but a handful of speakers opposed the Station Area Plan, as it’s called, and cheered the city council for an “historic” no vote.

The plan was created after Larkspur received $480,000 in 2011 from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). The city of Larkspur and other agencies, such as the Transportation Authority of Marin, also kicked in $120,000 to complete the plan — money wasted to develop a rejected plan.

Unsurprisingly, the MTC and ABAG bankrolled the Larkspur “stack-and-pack” blueprint. These two unelected regional-government bodies also approved Plan Bay Area in 2013, a master plan for high-density housing, rail-intensive transit, and restricted land use in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area through 2040. Larkspur City Councilman Dan Hillmer has called Plan Bay Area “fundamentally flawed.”

The resident outcry and vote by the Larkspur City Council point to the public’s unwillingness to passively accept Plan Bay Area and its vision of tomorrow, which unelected regionalists want to impose on local communities.

Hopefully, this vote is the opening shot of widespread revolts in the Bay Area and throughout California against similar “smart-growth” plans. But expect the MTC, ABAG, and other unelected regionalists to retaliate.

As reported by the Marin Independent Journal, during the city council meeting, Larkspur Councilwoman Catherine Way asked if “Larkspur could be at a disadvantage when seeking future transportation-project funding because of the council’s decision to stop the Station Area Plan.”

It is almost certain that the MTC will retaliate, withholding transportation funding for Larkspur and other communities that refuse to go along with Plan Bay Area. But preserving local control over communities is more important than accepting MTC bribes.


NASA’s Children’s Climate Change Website, and the book 1984: Creating Spies One Child at a Time

What would you say if your child accused you of a thought crime, and turned you in to the thought police?  Would you say it was ridiculous?

Perhaps you would say, “There is no ‘thought crime’ in the United States.”

Surely your children would never try to accuse you of a crime or try to change your behavior.

Well, think again, because that is exactly what websites like NASA’s Climate Kids intends to do, except they won’t accuse you of thought crime, they will accuse you of a climate crime.

This colorful, fun website has two serious flaws. First, it teaches “pseudo facts” about climate change in a childlike manner that is easy to understand. “Facts” such as

Eleven of the last 12 years have been the warmest on record. Earth has warmed twice as fast in the last 50 years as in the 50 years before that. (Actually, there hasn't been global warming in almost 18 years, and climate alarmist scientists know this.)

Climate change is causing unusual, extreme weather, some places are suffering long droughts and others are getting far too much rain in a short period. (Actually, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there is no evidence that global warming has increased the frequency or severity of extreme weather events.)

"We don't know enough about Earth's ice to know just how many meters sea level is likely to rise as ice melts in various locations." (Actually, sea-ice melt makes no difference in sea level, and land-ice melt doesn't appear to have accelerated during the period of recent, allegedly manmade global warming. As a result, there's been no increase in the rate of sea level rise, which has been happening ever since the end of the Ice Age.)

All that carbon stored in all those plants and animals over hundreds of millions of years is getting pumped back into the atmosphere over just one or two hundred years. (Actually, there is good evidence that putting it there is not causing dangerous global warming, but it most certainly is causing improved plant growth all over the world, including of agricultural crops, adding $3.2 trillion worth of crop yield 1960–2011 and a projected $9.8 trillion more by 2050.)

...Since 1979, ice has been getting smaller and smaller and thinner and thinner. Check out the Climate Time Machine and watch the ice shrink. (Actually, both land and sea ice expand and shrink over time in cycles in response to largely natural influences.) [Update, July, 2014: NASA's own National Snow And Ice Data Center show record ice levels at Antarctica currently.]

This is a really interesting slideshow of images across time on various climate topics. The blue image represents 1885 (when humans supposedly weren’t putting out so much CO2), and the red, frightening image represents 2007 when humans have burned the dinosaurs (The CO2 section tells how dead dinosaurs are part of what created the fossil fuels we burn.) in their cars and caused anthropogenic global warming.

There is of course no mention of the fact that the prosperity made possible in large part by converting those fossil fuels into electricity and liquid fuels for transport has raised human life expectancy since that time from under 48 in 1885 to near 80 today. That would reveal to these impressionable children that there are tradeoffs involved. No, the message must be clear, simple, and hideously unbalanced. Fossil fuels are evil. And those who use them are evil.

The entire site is full of “facts” of climate alarmism, scaring children with lies while they have fun “learning” and playing games with NASA.

Of course these children will feel indignation once they learn that their space ship (the metaphor for the Earth) isn’t being properly cared for. “Whatever shall we do!?” They will say. “We must stop evil eco-terrorist man and his dinosaur burning machines!”

Thus we proceed to the “What Can We Do to Help?” section. This contains the second serious flaw, for instead of just teaching bad science, NASA here encourages children to act on that bad science in a way that brings to mind the specter of poor Mrs. Parsons and her two indoctrinated children.

There are, of course, the typical suggestions: plant a tree or a garden; unplug appliances, etc. but there are other suggestions as well.

NASA wants children to grow up and drive energy-efficient cars, put solar panels on their houses, and go into a green career to help prevent climate change. (“Green” careers are the way to help people now, not traditional careers like becoming a doctor or a nurse, or a pastor or a teacher, or a farmer or an inventor, or just a helpful person). Some of these suggestions are good things to do, while some aren’t helpful to the environment at all. But what are really disturbing are the suggestions that children should attempt to control the behavior of the adults in their lives (which means their parents).

According to NASA, a child who cares about the environment is encouraged to:

“... ask your driver to park the car and let you walk inside (at a fast-food restaurant), rather than sitting in a line of cars with the engine running and polluting.”

“Walk or ride your bike instead of taking a car everywhere.”

“Ask your parents to buy reusable grocery bags. Help them to remember to get them out of the car and take them into the store.” (Never mind the risk of disease from the contamination of these bags.)

“BYOM.” Bring your own mug. That’s what you can tell your parents when they stop to buy their morning coffee.”

At face value these suggestions may seem innocuous, but at their deepest level they suggest to the child that their parents are guilty of wrongdoing, and that it is the child’s responsibility to correct them. In effect, the government is attempting to coerce parents through their children to further this pseudo-science agenda, and it doesn’t mind driving a wedge between parent and child to accomplish its goal.

The environmental lobby and your government (this is a government website after all) want to use your children against you. They want to indoctrinate your children into envirospies watching your every move and harassing you until you change your behavior.

“Mommy, don’t forget the reusable grocery bags.”

“Daddy, how dare you use a paper cup for your coffee!”

“You are hurting our Space Ship!”

Just further evidence that no federal agency, once created, cannot continue to justify its need for greater and greater power and money, no matter how far removed from its original purpose.

Your tax dollars at work!


Climate change is good for you

Human Evolution Rewritten: We owe our existence to our ancestor’s flexible response to climate change

Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. A large brain, long legs and the ability to craft tools along with prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage as African grasslands expanded and Earth’s climate became cooler and drier. Now a paper published in Science today outlines a new theory that the traits that have allowed humans to adapt and thrive in a variety of varying climate conditions evolved in Africa in a piecemeal fashion and at separate times.

These fossil skulls, representing pre-erectus Homo and Homo erectus, exhibit diverse traits and indicate that the early diversification of the human genus was a period of morphological experimentation. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. (Kenyan fossil casts – Chip Clark, Smithsonian Human Origins Program; Dmanisi Skull 5 – Guram, Bumbiashvili, Georgian National Museum)
These fossil skulls, representing pre-erectus Homo and Homo erectus, exhibit diverse traits and indicate that the early diversification of the human genus was a period of morphological experimentation. (Photos: Kenyan fossil casts – Chip Clark, Smithsonian Human Origins Program; Dmanisi Skull 5 – Guram, Bumbiashvili, Georgian National Museum)

New climate and fossil evidence analyzed by a team of researchers suggests that these traits did not arise as previously thought, in a single package in response to one specific climatic trend. Rather, these defining Homo traits developed over a much wider time span in response to a much more climatically variable environment, with some traits evolving in earlier Australopithecus ancestors between 3 and 4 million years ago and others emerging in Homo significantly later. The research team includes Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts, Susan Antón, professor of anthropology at New York University, and Leslie Aiello, president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

“The traits that typify our own species Homo sapiens weren’t there right at the beginning of the evolution of the Homo genus; instead, humanness evolved in much more of a mosaic pattern,” explains Potts, curator of anthropology and director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

“Climate instability we have found would have translated to major shifts in resource availability including fresh water and food. This instability favored genetic traits and behaviors that promoted the evolution of flexibility in how well early humans responded to change. This is quite different from the idea of adaptation to a particular ancestral habitat and is a very important change in our thinking” Potts added.

A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage in response to the Earth’s changing climate; however, scientists now have evidence that these traits arose separately rather than as a single package. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. ((Image courtesy Rick Potts, Susan Antón and Leslie Aiello)
A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage in response to the Earth’s changing climate; however, scientists now have evidence that these traits arose separately rather than as a single package. (Image courtesy Rick Potts, Susan Antón and Leslie Aiello)

To reach these conclusions, the team took an innovative research approach, including developing a new climate framework based on the Earth’s astronomical cycles from 2.5 million to 1.5 million years ago. This paleoclimatic data was integrated with new fossils and understandings of the genus Homo, archaeological remains and biological studies of a wide range of mammals (including humans). However, it was the recently discovered skeletons of Australopithecus sediba (~1.98 Ma) from Malapa, South Africa, that really cemented the idea for Potts that the evolution of the Homo genus involved a period of evolutionary experimentation and mixing of traits.

“A. sediba possesses a bizarre combination of features. It has a really small brain, the size of a chimpanzee’s, but also a human-like hand. It also has aspects of the face that resemble the genus Homo but has a foot that doesn’t look anything like the genus” Potts explains. “This makes sense from the standpoint of the environment at the time, where habitats were fluctuating between more wooded and more open grassland landscapes due to shifting intensity of wet and dry periods. Small populations would have become isolated at times and later merged, which would have lead to a novel evolutionary combinations of traits.”

This chart depicts hominin evolution from 3.0-1.5 million years ago and reflects the diversity of early human species and behaviors that were critical to how early Homo adapted to variable habitats, a trait that allows people today to occupy diverse habitats around the world. In July 2014, Smithsonian paleoanthropologist Richard Potts and a team of researchers analyzed new scientific data and concluded that the ability of early humans to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. (Image courtesy Rick Potts, Susan Antón and Leslie Aiello)
This chart depicts hominin evolution from 3.0-1.5 million years ago and reflects the diversity of early human species and behaviors that were critical to how early Homo adapted to variable habitats, a trait that allows people today to occupy diverse habitats around the world. (Image courtesy Rick Potts, Susan Antón and Leslie Aiello)

We live today in a very unusual period where there is only one species that exists in our evolutionary tree. Multiple species of Homo are known to have lived concurrently during the earlier time of morphological experimentation. Along with the climate and fossil data, evidence from ancient stone tools, isotopes found in teeth and cut marks found on animal bones came together in this research to depict how these species may have coexisted.

“Taken together, these data suggest that species of early Homo were more flexible in their dietary choices than other species,” Aiello said. “Their flexible diet—probably containing meat—was aided by stone tool-assisted foraging that allowed our ancestors to exploit a range of resources.

Evolutionary and historic climate studies not only shed light on how we came to be, says Potts, but also give us a broader view of current climate change problems.

“These kinds of studies show that we do live on an unstable Earth in terms of its climate, however, humans are adding totally new influences to the environment in ways perhaps more precarious than we even thought.”

“Human features were selected for adaptability, but our earlier ancestors show there have always been limits to that. Our astonishing ability to adjust to new and changing circumstances is something that I think gives us some hope for the future,” Potts says.

“The question ahead for human beings is whether we can use our capacity for technology, culture and social interaction to a sufficient extent to avoid the kinds of precarious situations even members of our own evolutionary history faced in their past,” he added.

The team concluded that the flexibility demonstrated by our ancestors to adjust to changing conditions ultimately enabled the earliest species of Homo to vary, survive and begin spreading from Africa to Eurasia 1.85 million years ago. This flexibility continues to be a hallmark of human biology today, and one that ultimately underpins the ability to occupy diverse habitats throughout the world.

Future research on new fossil and archaeological finds will need to focus on identifying specific adaptive features that originated with early Homo, which will yield a deeper understanding of human evolution.


Ban Ki-moon’s New Climate Envoy Supports Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies

Another reason to ban Ki-moon.  Targeting companies despite absolutely no proof that they have done anything wrong o0r even done anything anti-Greenie.  Most are in fact Greenie donors

A new “special envoy” on climate change appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – the fourth in seven months – has voiced support for divestment from the fossil fuel industry, which she accuses of helping to fund global warming denialism.

Pushing ahead with a drive to achieve a global climate change agreement by late 2015, Ban announced this week that Mary Robinson, a former Irish president and former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, will become his “special envoy for climate change,” effective immediately.

Robinson’s new task is to interact with world leaders in the run-up to a climate summit Ban is hosting on September 23 in New York. There he hopes leaders from governments, businesses and civil society will help to lay the groundwork for a global deal to be finalized at the next in a long series of U.N. climate megaconferences, in Paris, France in November 2015.

Robinson is an enthusiastic climate activist, who set up a foundation in late 2010 called the Mary Robinson Foundation–Climate Justice, focusing on human rights- and development-related aspects of the climate issue.

“Our work on climate justice emphasizes the urgency of action on climate change from a people’s perspective, and I intend to take this approach in my new mandate as special envoy for climate change,” she said in a statement after Ban announced her appointment.

Robinson has voiced support for divestment from the fossil fuel industry, which she accuses of helping to fund global warming denialism.

“I know there are deniers, and there’s money supporting these deniers to try to confuse us,” she told the left-wing Democracy Now news program last October. “But we can’t be confused anymore because actually the impacts of climate are undermining human rights all over the world.”

Asked about the source of that money, Robinson replied, “I think a lot of it is coming from those who benefit at the moment from selling fossil fuel, so the coal and oil communities.”

“We can no longer invest in companies that are part of the problem of the climate shocks that we’re suffering from,” she said.

“So I speak openly and encourage students and colleges to be part of that,’ Robinson continued. “It’s to me a little bit like the energy behind the anti-apartheid movement when I was a student. We were all involved because we saw the injustice of it. There’s an injustice in continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies that are part of the problem.”

Robinson is not the only prominent person Ban has recently recruited to the cause.

Last January he announced that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would be his “special envoy for cities and climate change,” helping to mobilize support and action from cities to advance climate change efforts at the September summit and beyond.

A month earlier, Ban appointed former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and former Ghanaian President John Kufuor as “special envoys on climate change,” saying the two would help to mobilize political will and action ahead of the September summit.

“As part of their work, the special envoys will assist the secretary-general in his consultations with leaders to raise the level of ambition to address climate change and to accelerate action,” the U.N. secretariat said at the time.

It’s not clear why Ban needs multiple special envoys to fulfil this function, although Stoltenberg was recently named NATO’s next secretary-general, a post he will take up from October.

Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, said Robinson succeeds Stoltenberg and will “work closely with special envoys John Kufuor and Michael Bloomberg in her new role.”

Robinson has served since March 2013 in another U.N. role, as Ban’s special envoy for the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. She now relinquishes that post, which dealt with efforts to bring a lasting peace to the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding areas.

‘Time is not on our side’

The U.N. has high hopes for the summit Ban will host on Sept. 23.

“The summit will be an important milestone to mobilize political commitment for the conclusion of a global agreement by 2015, as well as to spur enhanced action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilient communities,” it said.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, has long voiced anxiety about the need for a far-reaching global agreement to combat and mitigate the effects of the emission of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) blamed for climate change.

As an earlier U.N. climate conference loomed – in Copenhagen in late 2009 – Ban hosted a summit in New York aimed, like this year’s one, to build momentum. In a speech that August, Ban warned that the world had “just four months to secure the future of our planet.”

In the event, Copenhagen came and went without the result activists wanted so badly – a global agreement on binding GHG emission-reduction targets.

Last week Ban was again warning darkly of the threats of climate change.

“[U.N.] member-states have agreed that we cannot exceed two degrees celsius above pre-industrial temperatures,” he said at an event at U.N. headquarters introducing a new report on ways major industrial economies can reduce their GHG emissions.

“Beyond this limit, science indicates that we may face dangerous and irreversible climate disruption,” he said. “We know that we are not on track, and time is not on our side.”



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16 July, 2014

Big Green’s lethal agenda

The outstanding presentations at this Ninth International Conference on Climate Change clearly demonstrate that activist climate science is increasingly devoid of evidence … increasingly removed from the scientific method – and yet is increasingly being used to devise, justify and impose policies, laws, and regulations that govern our lives.

Indeed, rules formulated on the basis of “dangerous manmade climate change” allegations control the hydrocarbons that power America and the world, improve and safeguard our lives, lift billions out of abject poverty, and allow us to achieve technologies and dreams never before thought possible.

Put simply, those who control carbon control our lives … our livelihoods, liberties, living standards, and even life spans. It is therefore essential that climate science reflects the utmost in integrity, transparency, and accountability.

Sadly, the opposite is true. As we have seen, far too much of the supposed science used to justify IPCC, US, EU, and other actions is distorted, exaggerated, even fabricated. If it were used to market private sector investments, products or services, the perpetrators would be prosecuted for fraud.

The latest White House claims are no better. The assertion that shutting down affordable, reliable coal-based electricity will somehow reduce asthma and protect children’s health is as baseless as any other arguments advanced in support of claims that we face an imminent manmade climate change catastrophe.

A primary reason for the fervor and longevity of these claims is that global warming is a social movement – or more accurately one manifestation of a social movement. It is a major part of a near religious Deep Ecology movement that is anti-energy, anti-people, and opposed to modern economies, technologies, and civilizations. In its determination to impose its worldview on the rest of humanity, it is dogmatic, imperialistic, and authoritarian.

It is also a Big Green and Big Government movement – with tens of billions of dollars at its disposal: over $13 billion per year just in the United States for Big Green organizations.

Global warming, climate change, climate disruption, and extreme weather mantras are almost interchangeable with sustainable development. When ClimateGate, fizzled confabs in Copenhagen and Durban, and a then-15-year pause in Earth’s warming made the world weary of climate change disaster demagoguery – Rio+20 Summit organizers simply repackaged climate crisis claims under the sustainability mantra. Fossil fuels, they intoned, must be replaced because we are running out of them, and their use is unsustainable.

Like climate change, sustainability is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable.

For other times and audiences, climate and sustainability are replaced – in whole or in part – with over- population, resource depletion, the precautionary principle, mass species extinction … or chemical contamination. That’s why the White House is now talking about carbon pollution and asthma.

Think of the T-1000 android in the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This vastly improved villain had the ability to morph into any shape it desired, giving it previously unimaginable powers and near indestructibility – all with the goal of controlling the future of humanity.

And so we have Alexander King, co-founder of the Club of Rome and its concept of Limits to Growth. “When DDT was introduced for civilian use,” King wrote, within 2 years Guyana had almost eliminated malaria. “But at the same time the birth rate had doubled. So my chief quarrel with DDT in hindsight is that it has greatly added to the population problem.”

The Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich likewise blamed DDT for the “drastic lowering of death rates” in underdeveloped countries. He suggested that, because those countries were not practicing a “birth rate solution” – they needed to have a “death rate solution” imposed on them. Ban DDT.

Global warming, sustainability, and attacks on fossil fuels and biotechnology must therefore be understood as other components of their “death rate solution” and their intense desire to control all human endeavors.

In his 1973 Human Ecology book with Paul Ehrlich, President Obama’s chief science advisor John Holdren put it this way:

“A massive campaign must be launched to … de-develop the United States [and bring] our economic system … into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation…. Once the United States has clearly started on the path of cleaning up its own mess, it can then turn its attention to the problems of the de-development of the other [developed countries] and the ecologically feasible development of the [underdeveloped countries].”

“Limits to growth,” “the global resource situation,” and “ecologically feasible development” of course are synonyms for “resource depletion,” “peak oil,” “sustainable development,” and “dangerous manmade global warming” – with radical Deep Ecologists in and out of government making all the decisions.

Never mind that fracking has obliterated their “peak oil and gas” mantra. Never mind that human ingenuity and innovation – Julian Simon’s ultimate resource – has and will always discover new ways to find and extract the energy and other materials needed to make new technologies that will continue improving lives, living standards and planetary health.

For eco-imperialists, whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. Whatever they support complies with the “precautionary principle.” Whatever they disdain violates the principle. Or as Competitive Enterprise Institute founder Fred Smith once put it, “For radical environmentalists, ‘sustainable development’ means don’t use it today, and the precautionary principle means don’t produce it tomorrow.”

The precautionary principle always focuses on the alleged risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – such as coal-fired power plants – might cause, but ignores the risks that the technology would reduce or prevent.

That is a major part of the reason why over 700 million people and 300 million Indians (three times the population of the U.S. and Canada combined) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people – nearly a third of our Earth’s population – still lack electricity or have access only to little solar panels or unreliable networks.

That means they must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in widespread lung diseases that kill 2 to 4 million people every year. It means they also lack refrigeration, safe water, and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that kill another 2 million people a year.

But when anyone points out these cold-as-grave realities, the Terminator 2 ideological android morphs yet again – shifting the topic to “global cataclysms” of manmade global warming and unsustainable development. The Deep Ecologists’ callous indifference to these intolerable and immoral death tolls is stunning.

To the extent that they do want to improve these people’s lives, they advocate wind turbines in villages and solar panels on huts – but never abundant, affordable, reliable electricity from large-scale coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, or nuclear facilities. Their opposition to a gas-fired plant in Ghana, coal-fired plant in South Africa, and hydroelectric projects in China, India, and Uganda underscores their inhumane worldview.

So Big Green activists shift the topic again: to mass global species extinctions. But these claims are based on completely irrelevant examples of predators introduced into island populations. Moreover, the true threats to wild plant and animal species are the very technologies that Deep Ecology/Climate Chaos ideologues love the most: biofuels and wind turbines.

Both of these “eco-friendly alternatives” blanket vast acreage that would otherwise be wildlife habitats – and wind turbines slaughter millions of birds and bats annually, nearly wiping out some species across broad areas near industrial wind turbine facilities.

The key point to remember is this. Climate change, sustainability, and these other mantras give Mr. Holdren and his ideological soul-mates the justification and power to determine the fate of nations … to decide how much development each should be allowed to have … to compel rich countries to de-develop and reduce their living standards … and to force poor countries to accept whatever the Deep Ecologists decide is the proper, sustainable, climate-stabilization level of development, population, poverty, disease, malnutrition, and premature death.

On and on it goes, with “climate justice” yet another weapon that these wealthy, powerful, arrogant, intolerant, immoral, mostly white elites are using in their crusade to control the rest of humanity – regardless of the human and animal death tolls. As Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”

Their double standards … secret science … morphing mantras … and vicious attacks on anyone who dares to disagree with them – are all designed to seize power over the energy that powers modern civilization … and to control every aspect of our lives, livelihoods, living standards, fundamental liberties, health, welfare, dreams, and aspirations.

These mantras are truly weapons of mass destruction in a movement war on modern civilization. It is a war that pits wealthy elites against poor, minority, elderly, and working classes – and rich nations against poor nations. And in those poor nations, it is a war on women and children, for they are the most vulnerable, and they die in the greatest numbers from malaria, lung infections, malnutrition, and severe diarrhea.

Equally revealing and frightening is the fact that this Big Green/Big Government movement refuses to budge an inch in its opposition to fossil fuels, fracking, and reliable electricity – even when confronted by the turmoil and destruction we are witnessing in Ukraine, the Middle East, Libya, Nigeria, and other parts of the world … many of them energy-rich, and with the prospect of Al Qaeda controlling countless billions of dollars in oil wealth.

The eco-imperialist movement’s focus on distant, conjectural, fabricated risks a century from now remains unchanged. It is truly the great moral and ethical battle of our time.

That is what we’re up against.

We have struck a blow here at this conference for honest, evidence-based science … for transparency and accountability, and open, robust debate … for the freedom and courage to stand up to the forces of tyranny, darkness, and death. But our work is not yet finished.

Like the Thirty Years War and other religious and ideological confrontations of the ages, this battle will go on, and the global death toll will rise.

However, I am heartened by the knowledge that we here gathered today will fight on – for honest science, affordable energy, accountable government, and better lives for billions of people … and against the dark forces of climate fanaticism. I also know we are being joined by more and more countries, as they increasingly understand the true nature of this ideological conflict.

In the immortal words of Sir Winston Churchill: “We shall fight in the fields, in the streets and in the hills. We shall never surrender. We shall fight on until victory, however long and hard the road may be. For without victory, there is no survival.”


Greenpeace showcases its anti-human side

Greenpeace activist confirms every negative story you’ve ever read about this activist group

Paul Driessen

It was a surreal experience. As the Heartland Institute’s hugely successful Ninth International Conference on Climate Change ended, I agreed to let Greenpeace activist Connor Gibson interview me.

I’d just given a presentation on Big Green’s lethal agenda, describing how “dangerous manmade climate change” is just one of many mantras invoked by the Deep Ecology movement to advance an agenda that is anti-energy, anti-people, and opposed to modern economies, technologies and civilizations. As readers of my book and articles know, this unaccountable movement inflicts lethal consequences on millions of people every year – the result of malaria, malnutrition, lung and intestinal diseases, and other afflictions of rampant poverty imposed or perpetuated by unelected and unaccountable eco-imperialists.

“I read your book,” he told me, and attended some of the talks by globally renowned experts on climate, weather, species extinction, human health and other topics. If so, he obviously hadn’t listened, or had simply chosen to ignore every fact and explanation presented, as not in accord with his ideologies. That would certainly include the keynote address by Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore, explaining how he left the organization over its increasingly bizarre, irrational and inhumane attitudes and actions.

Gibson’s “interview” quickly became a prosecutorial interrogation, marked by ignorance or denial of basic facts and repeated interruptions to contest my observations. He insisted that hurricanes are more frequent and devastating than ever before (though not one Category 3 or higher ‘cane has made US landfall in eight-plus years, breaking a century-long record, as a panel discussion I had chaired that day made clear); wildfires are worsening (though their number and acres burned are down significantly, and could be driven lower via more intelligent forest management and fire suppression policies); and rising seas will soon drown coastal communities (hardly likely at the current rate of seven inches per century).

He likewise denied the 18-year pause in global warming, even though the IPCC and other alarmists have finally admitted it is real. My references to conference participants and the exhaustive NIPCC report were met with claims that it had not been peer-reviewed. Perhaps not by the closed circle of well-funded IPCC scientists, bureaucrats and activists who rubberstamp one another’s work – while refusing to share data and methodologies, allow outside experts to review their work products, attend Heartland conferences, or debate NIPCC scientists in any forum. (Alarmists know their data, claims, conclusions and economy-killing demands cannot withstand scrutiny.) However, the NIPCC reports and the studies they laboriously analyze and summarize were fully peer-reviewed by numerous scientists.

(Alarmists say twenty years of warming proves Earth is at a “tipping point” for runaway climate chaos, requiring the end of fossil fuels. They say the subsequent 18 years of no warming, and even a slight cooling, is irrelevant and meaningless. Whom do you believe, they ask? Us alarmists and our computer models, or a bunch of “fringe” scientists who cite actual temperature and other evidence?)

After twenty minutes, Gibson got to his real issue: money. Where does CFACT get its funding? The Koch brothers and ExxonMobil? That would be nice, to compliment the cash that Exxon gives to radical green groups. But no, they don’t support us. My mention of Chesapeake Energy’s $26 million to the Sierra Club, to fund anti-coal campaigns, did force him to admit this is a problem for Big Green’s social responsibility mantra. But when I noted Tom Steyer’s billions from hedge fund investments in coal mines and power plants, Gibson insisted that this money was second-hand and thus pure – whereas Koch money was earned directly (via producing energy and creating jobs) and thus was tainted by “self-interest.”

That “ethical” distinction without a difference would also apply, I suppose, to the tens of millions of dollars that Greenpeace and the Greenpeace Fund have received from fat-cat liberal foundations that are heavily invested in fossil fuel and other corporate securities.

Gibson also brought up his organization’s attempted 2003 anti-chemicals rally in New Jersey’s Liberty Park. The event turned into a resounding protest against Greenpeace, when scores of black and Hispanic demonstrators from the Congress of Racial Equality completely flummoxed the Rainbow Warriors with stilt walkers, bongo drums and chants of “Hey hey Greenpeace, what do you say? How many children did you kill today?” He dropped his inquisition when I pointed out that I’m a life-member of CORE.

Indeed, what Gibson really did not want to discuss were the destructive, even lethal effects of Greenpeace policies and campaigns. Some 2.5 billion people still do not have electricity or get it only sporadically, and so must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in widespread lung diseases that kill two to four million people every year. No electricity also means no refrigeration, safe water or decent hospitals, which means virulent intestinal diseases kill another two million annually.

Worldwide, some two billion people still live in malaria-infested areas, 500 million get the disease every year, and nearly a million die. A primary reason is their inability to acquire insecticides to kill mosquitoes and DDT to keep the flying killers out of homes. Another billion people face malnutrition and Vitamin A deficiency that causes blindness and death in children. In fact, eight million children have died from Vitamin A deficiency since Golden Rice was invented and made available at no charge to poor farmers.

But the Rainbow Warriors and other callous eco-imperialists wage well-funded campaigns against Golden Rice, insecticides and DDT, and coal-fired, gas-fueled, hydroelectric and nuclear power generation – perpetuating poverty, malnutrition, disease, misery and death. To them, a planet free from the wildly conjectural and exaggerated dangers of these technologies is far more important than the billions of lives improved and millions of lives saved by them. It is a vicious war on dark-skinned women and children, who die in the greatest numbers from malaria, lung infections, malnutrition and severe diarrhea.

Greenpeace actions are akin to denying chemotherapy to cancer patients or antibiotics to pneumonia sufferers. Their anti-technology campaigns are eco-manslaughter and should no longer be tolerated.

Personally, I cannot imagine life without modern technologies. I can’t imagine living in electricity-free, disease-ridden, malnourished, polluted poor nation squalor. As my grandmother used to tell me, “The only good thing about the good old days is that they’re gone.”

But of course, Gibson has an air-conditioned malaria-free home, fine food, access to affordable, reliable electricity and transportation, a refrigerator, video camera and cell phone. He would never give them up, nor would I ask him to. However, some of my African friends would gladly let him “enjoy” a few months in a state-of-the-art, mosquito-infested hut, rely solely on a bed net, drink parasite-infested water, breathe polluted smoke from cooking fires, and walk miles to a clinic when he gets malaria, TB or dysentery – hoping the nurse has some non-fake medicines to treat him. I’d gladly help make the arrangements.

Financially motivated innovators, entrepreneurs and companies have worked wonders to improve and save the lives of billions. Yes, there have been accidents, some of which have killed hundreds of people or thousands of animals. However, the real killers are governments and anti-technology nonprofit activist corporations. Their death tolls are in the millions – via wars and through misguided or intentional policies that institute or perpetuate starvation and disease from denial of food and life-saving technologies.

Gibson is a bright guy. Perhaps one day he will understand all of this, hopefully before the death toll rises much higher. To that end, he and his alarmist colleagues would profit mightily from reading my Eco-Imperialism book and new report Three Faces of Sustainability; the new book About Face: Why the world needs more carbon dioxide; and several recent studies: Climate Change Reconsidered: Physical Science; CCR: Biological Impacts, and Climate Catastrophe: A superstorm for global warming research.

Countless jobs, living standards and lives hang in the balance. The eco-imperialist crimes against humanity must end.

Via email

Murdoch on global warming

Report from Australia

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has dubbed Prime Minister Tony Abbott an admirable, honest and principled man, and said Australians should not be building windmills and "all that rubbish".

In an interview on Sky News on Sunday, Mr Murdoch spoke candidly about climate change, Australia's political environment and its relationship with China.

If the temperature rises 3 degrees in 100 years, "at the very most one of those [degrees] would be man-made," he said.

"If the sea level rises six inches, that's a big deal in the world, the Maldives might disappear or something, but OK, we can't mitigate that, we can't stop it, we have to stop building vast houses on seashores.

"We can be the low-cost energy country in the world. We shouldn't be building windmills and all that rubbish," he said.

"The world has been changing for thousands and thousands of years. It's just a lot more complicated because we are so much more advanced."

On Mr Abbott, Mr Murdoch said he had met him "three, four times, and the impression is that he is an admirable, honest, principled man and somebody that we really need as Prime Minister who we can all look up to and admire.

"However, how much does he understand free markets and what should be happening? I don’t know. Only time will tell. It's too early to make a judgment on this government."


The big All-Star chill: Is the hockey stick broken?

Baseball fans across the nation will be turning their eyes to Minneapolis, Minn. for the next couple of days as the stars of the game congregate to showcase their skills.

But one thing will be missing — summer weather.

Almost as if the Michael Mann hockey stick had been turned upside down, Minneapolis is expected to see record low temperatures on Monday and possibly Tuesday nights as temperatures dip down into the low 50s in another so-called polar vortex. High temperature readings in the Twin Cities for the two days range between the low 60s and 70s Fahrenheit.

With all eyes on Minnesota for two days in July, it suddenly became fall football weather. Is this just some cruel joke by Roger Goodell and his all-powerful NFL shield to cause baseball viewers to pine for the opening of training camp?
Is it an anti-Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce plot designed to keep visitors away from the beautiful and friendly northern city?

Or is it just bad luck for baseball and Minnesota that Arctic air has chosen to put a chill over the festivities for all America to see.

Weather is weather, and obviously no climactic lessons can be derived by the big All-Star chill as a stand-alone event. However, the exact logic that dictates not jumping to conclusions based upon an unfortunately timed bout of mid-July cold weather should also be used to combat those who use each and every tornado or hurricane to somehow justify their global warming theories and the economy-destroying solutions they offer.

President Obama used episodic, individual weather events as the backbone justification for his Climate Action Plan to crush carbon-emitting industry, citing Hurricane Sandy as a pretext. He did so in spite of meteorologists telling us that we haven't had a major hurricane hit the United States in a record period of time (Sandy was not a major hurricane by National Weather Service definitions.)

While Minneapolis is cold for this time of year, it also should be noted that so is Antarctica. The South Pole sea ice hit record wintertime levels with more than 2.1 million square miles more ice than normal this time of year. To put that into perspective, the entire subcontinent of India is only 1.2 million square miles.

What's more, this dramatic growth of Antarctic sea ice is in spite of massive volcanic activity on the ocean floor of the western part of the continent that threatens the collapse of a major glacier system by warming the water beneath it.

Given all the predictions of rising tides, melting polar ice caps, and the decade-long fear campaign used as justification for regulations designed to destroy the U.S. coal and fossil fuel industries, perhaps this cold weather baseball event will remind Americans that the one thing government-grant-driven climate scientists haven't actually delivered is warmer weather.

A point the big All-Star chill is likely to drive home to baseball lovers everywhere.


Renewable Fuel Standards Are a Pain In the Gas

Washington has a long-standing fascination with the nation's energy markets that generates an endless stream of legislation and regulation in pursuit of a wide range of policy objectives, from energy independence to climate change. For almost a decade, the government has been struggling to implement renewable fuel standards with the aim of increasing the role of ethanol and other biofuels. New mandates have been established, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that the law has created more questions than solutions. Problems first began to emerge when the economy collapsed, and with it, demand for fuel. What seemed like easily attainable targets in a rosy economy were now out of reach. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office released a study highlighting the ongoing problems with the renewable fuel standard program, raising serious concerns about the viability of the program.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 created the first renewable fuel standard, a mandate that required 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into gasoline by 2012. Practically, this meant increasing the quantity of ethanol used in gasoline. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 revised the standard with a 15-year plan, requiring an increase in ethanol use to 9 billion gallons in 2008, with the ultimate goal of 36 billion gallons of ethanol in the gasoline supply by 2022. Not content with simply expanding the use of biofuel, the new law also created mandates for specific types of biofuels: conventional, advanced, cellulosic and biodiesel.

Washington's ambitious plans to wean the nation off fossil fuels quickly failed the market test. The 2008 economic downturn eviscerated the targets and timetables for introducing renewable fuels. Gasoline consumption declined, which meant that there was less gasoline that needed ethanol. At the same time, cars were becoming more fuel-efficient, which also put downward pressure on gasoline consumption. With less gasoline being used, the amount of ethanol needed fell well below the mandated level.

The problem is exacerbated by the technical limitations defined by the blend wall. Ethanol is corrosive, and too much ethanol, particularly in older cars, can lead to engine troubles. Consequently, E10, or 10-percent ethanol, is the limit for safely blending ethanol. The exception is more recent flex-fuel cars, which are rated for an E85 blend, or 15-percent ethanol.

At the same time, the new mandates for subcategories of renewable fuels have also been problematic. As the CBO report notes, "the supply of cellulosic biofuels is limited because such fuels are complex and expensive to produce." In fact, there is a huge discrepancy between Washington and reality with respect to this particular mandate. As of 2013 there were no commercial plants producing cellulosic biofuels, and the Energy Information Administration estimates capacity in 2022 to be only 327 million gallons - far below the EPA's 16-billion gallon mandate.

With the mandate for renewable fuels relegated to a failing academic exercise, the market for fuel is being increasingly displaced by centrally planned prices contrived in Washington, D.C. Tacitly acknowledging the infeasibility of its regulations, the EPA has been exercising its waiver authority to delay implementation of the mandates. Just recently, the EPA delayed compliance with the 2013 standards until September 2014 while it attempts to establish the 2014 standards.

With such ad hoc and arbitrary changes, it is discretionary decisions in Washington rather than market forces that are shaping America's energy future.

In recent years federal regulations have supplanted market forces in vast swathes of the economy, including health care, financial services and the energy sectors. All too often, federal courts defer to agency expertise when these regulations are challenged. Yet the renewable fuel standard raises serious questions about such expertise. As Friedrich Hayek argued more than 50 years ago, regulators are incapable of incorporating the "particular knowledge of time and place" that markets so effectively exploit. As a result, regulations fall short, disrupting markets and misallocating economic resources.

In the case of renewable fuel standards, the government's forecasts woefully missed their mark with respect to both the demand and supply in energy markets. The government also assumed the existence of technologies that have yet to be proved commercially viable. And finally, technical limitations of ethanol given the composition of the current vehicle fleet were ignored. With the EPA scrambling to keep the program afloat and the CBO acknowledging the "significant challenges" of compliance, Congress should revisit the Energy Independence and Security Act and repeal the renewable fuel standard.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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, 2014

Is Australia drying out because of global warming?

The usual Warmist dishonesty.  They carefully note that it is Southern Australia that has been experiencing lower rainfall but then fail to say what is going on in Northern Australia!  All that has happened is a normal oscillation whereby the rain has moved North.  It is raining outside as I write this (in the North),  during what is normally the driest month  of the year.  The rain will move South again in its own good time

And note that The Australian bureau of statistics says:  "Australia's most severe drought periods since the beginning of European settlement appear to have been those of 1895-1903 and 1958-68".  So the claims below are garbage to the core

The devastating droughts that are plaguing southern Australia are caused by greenhouse gases and ozone depletion - and they will only get worse.

This is according to a new high-resolution climate model by a U.S. government-based organisation which warns the cause was not due to natural events but man made.

Southern Australia has seen a decline in the amount of autumn and winter rain since the 1970s with the decline increasing in pace over the last four decades.

Climatologists claim droughts are predicted to get much worse with a further 40 per cent decrease in rainfall in the southwest around Australia's fourth city Perth by the end of the century.

'This new high-resolution climate model is able to simulate regional-scale precipitation with considerably improved accuracy compared to previous generation models,' said Tom Delworth of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

'This model is a major step forward in our effort to improve the prediction of regional climate change, particularly involving water resources.'

The study by the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted several climate simulations using the global climate model to study long-term changes in rainfall in various regions across the globe.

Simulating natural and man made climate drivers, scientists showed that the decline in rainfall is largely a response to man-made increases in greenhouse gases as well as a thinning of the ozone caused by man made aerosol emissions.

Several natural causes were tested with the model, including volcano eruptions and changes in the sun's radiation.

But none of these natural climate drivers reproduced the long-term observed drying, indicating this trend is due to human activity.

The model predicts a continued decline in winter rainfall throughout the rest of the 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources.

The drying is most severe over southwest Australia where the model forecasts a 40 per cent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century.  [S.W. Australia has always had water shortages]

Mr Delworth said: 'Predicting potential future changes in water resources, including drought, are an immense societal challenge.

'This new climate model will help us more accurately and quickly provide resource planners with environmental intelligence at the regional level.

'The study of Australian drought helps to validate this new model, and thus builds confidence in this model for ongoing studies of North American drought.'

Parts of Australia have been gripped by devastating drought and heatwaves in recent years.

In March, the World Meteorological Organisation said record high temperatures in 2013 would have been 'virtually impossible' without human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The 2013-2014 summer saw sweltering temperatures in Perth, in the southwest, and Adelaide, in the south, while Sydney went through its driest summer in 27 years, an independent watchdog, the Climate Council, said.  [There was a similar heatwave in 1790!  Yes. 1790, not 1970]


BBC Wobbles On Ban For Sceptics

Climate change sceptics 'must be heard on the BBC'
BBC shouldn't "squeeze out" climate change sceptics just because scientists say they're wrong, says editor of Today programme

The BBC must air the views of climate change sceptics even though they are in the minority, the editor of Radio 4’s Today programme has said after he was criticised for allowing Nigel Lawson to feature in a debate.

Lord Lawson, the former chancellor, now heads a think tank casting doubt on the science of global warming.

Appearing on the programme in February, Lord Lawson questioned whether extreme weather events - including flooding in the UK - had any link to climate change. Some listeners complained, and the BBC's editorial complaints unit ruled tha his views had been given undue prominence in the debate.

Lord Lawson claims the "Stalinist" BBC has now banned him from appearing on the programme because his views clash with the corporation’s “own party line”.

But Jamie Angus, editor of Today, said Lord Lawson deserved to be heard despite holding a minority view.

“The BBC can’t say, ‘We aren’t going to put that point of view on air because scientists tell us it’s not right’,” Angus said.

“People always raise flat earth at this point, but if you go into a pub on Oxford Street you won’t find anyone who says the earth is flat, but you will probably find a couple of people who are unconvinced by the science of climate change.

“Clearly the BBC has to reflect what is a relatively settled view of the majority of scientists… but absolutely should not squeeze out alternative points of view, and we haven’t.”

A BBC spokesman insisted Lord Lawson had not been banned, but said implying that his views were on “the same footing” as those of the climate scientist who featured in the debate had created "a false balance".


The BBC sings a very different tune when Al Gore is speaking

Paul Homewood points us to this incredibly soft BBC interview with Al Gore, who is in Australia promoting his pet climate project. The powers that be at the corporation seem to have decided that they want to put their considerable weight behind Mr Gore's campaign and interviewer Paul Donnison is right on message, apparently viewing his role as providing the maximum PR opportunity for Mr Gore:  most questions are along the lines of "are your opponents dishonest or irresponsible" and there is litte by way of challenge to the great man.

Not that there weren't opportunities to do so. When An Inconvenient Truth was mentioned, it would have been a great opportunity to question Mr Gore about the UK judicial ruling on the film's "errors", something I don't think Mr Gore has ever discussed. However, a BBC interviewer is never going to tread on the toes of a prominent environmentalist and Gore was left free to propagate some wholly new errors, declaring that we have seen nothing like recent Australian droughts before. This position is, I think, probably without any scientific support whatsoever.

We can now begin to see how the BBC's editorial policy is going to pan out. Sceptics are wrong even when they are right; politicians who question alarmism will therefore be introduced as being "wrong" and will be challenged on everything they say. Greens are right even when they are lying; they will be given a free pass and no challenge of their views is to be permitted.


The key to that 97% consensus:  Scientific publishing is a licence to print money, not the truth

Publicity-hungry journals have created a climate in which dishonest scientists can thrive

Earlier this year, newspapers reported on the discovery of a simple protocol that could turn any kind of cell into a super-pluripotent stem cell – referred to as a Stap cell. The discovery, published in two articles in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, held out the promise that scientists could develop simple procedures to create patient-matched stem cells. These stem cells would then be used to repair damaged or diseased organs.

The story was too good to be true. The Stap phenomenon pushed the envelope of biological plausibility a bit too far, yet its appearance in Nature granted a hefty advance of credibility. Immediately, numerous labs all over the world set out to reproduce the amazing technique and failed, without exception. As the evidence for insidious data manipulation and falsification grew, it was believed that Stap cells never existed in the first place.

Misconduct and even data falsification are much more common in science than one would hope. It's likely that the banal motivation behind this is money, in this case (Stap) public funding. Though it is hardly ever pocketed (there are cases), a scientist is always as big as his funding is.

What turns scientists into money-magnet bigwigs? It's all about where they publish their work. In life sciences, it is the big three: Nature, Science, and Cell, followed by several other, slightly smaller journals, often from the same publisher. The pledge these journals claim to sustain their influence and the tremendous cashflow is that they select only the most relevant and top-quality research.

A licence to print money

For scientists, a publication in the big three is basically a licence to print money. Easily impressed by journals' respectability, the funding bodies throw cash after the big name authors, mistaking their talent for storytelling for great science. In the end, science publishers, combined with eminence- and applicability-obsessed funding agencies, have created a rather unhelpful climate for dishonest and greedy scientists to thrive in.

The scientific quality of a publication is supposed to be ensured by the peer review, where equally-qualified colleagues anonymously examine the research results submitted to the journal by the authors. However, the final decision lies with the journal's editors, who sometimes drop even the basic scientific and editorials standards. Occasionally, such stories are reported to be false or even fake, such as Hwang's never-cloned human embryos.

However, when confronting misconduct, journals tend to lose all enthusiasm. Retractions, which permanently remove an unreliable or fraudulent study from the annals of science, are prestige-damaging and something journals tend to avoid at all costs.

Beginners' blunder

Just as a bad film can boost its audience with a famous actor, so can a scientifically weak study from a bigwig attract attention from big journals. After the Stap crash, these scientists look like gullible dupes. Yet the authors committed a huge beginners' blunder by portraying their Stap method as simple. It took just some days in the lab for people to start getting suspicious.

That is why many studies refer to complicated, time-consuming and knowhow-demanding methods when their reproducibility in other labs is questioned. Now, even Nature sees no way to avoid retracting Stap.

From talking to other scientists I learned the stem cell community has hardly ever really believed the Stap story. However, even now they do not show any anger or indignation.

Researchers have become accustomed and indifferent to results in top-tier journals that can't be reproduced. The only thing that counts is to have published. In this respect, Stap was almost a success for its authors. If they could have resisted retraction for a couple of years, the storm would have blown over.

In one sense, the closed system of research works quite well for the purpose of enabling those who publish in prestigious journals to get funded.

Getting caught on suspicious data or retraction is bad, but there are enough examples that even this is not the career death one might expect.


Boat-owners fight ethanol increases that could damage boat motors

BoatUS is opposing increases in ethanol blends in gasoline, claiming they are damaging outboard motors.

"Ever since 10 percent ethanol gas has been on the market, boaters have experienced problems with engine and fuel systems," said David Kennedy of BoatUS, the Alexandria, Va.-based boating group with more than a half million members. "Now, with higher blends like 15 percent ethanol (E15) coming to the pump, consumers need to be really careful about misfueling."

Gas stations are required to post on the pump that a gasoline contains ethanol, and the list the percentages. Some gas stations in boating areas, such as the Mickey Mart station in Marblehead, Ohio, now advertise non-ethanol fuel being sold at its station.

The BoatUS announcement was made last month after the Missouri Corn Growers Association blaming volatile markets for high gasoline prices. The MCGA called for more corn-based ethanol at the gas pump to lower gas prices.

"On a boat, bad fuel can escalate quickly to a stopped engine, placing those aboard and the boat itself in jeopardy," said Kennedy. "Boaters know higher ethanol blends, such as E15, will only cause more damage to outboard boat engines. The EPA has specifically prohibited the use of E15 in marine engines."


Excellent, so that’s climate change entirely sorted then

Tim Worstall applies some badly needed logic to Warmism

I take this to be exceedingly good news. Our struggles to contain climate change are entirely over and we can all go back to sleep:

Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete

As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it’s used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over.
It’s true that we don’t normally believe The Guardian on matters environmental. But let us just take them seriously here.

As we all know the predictions of future climate change are based upon economic predictions of the future. How many people will there be, how rich will they be and what technologies will they be using to generate the power to create that wealth for that many people. And of the models that are used the one that tells us that we’ve a serious problem with climate change insists that we’ll still be using coal for 50% of our power needs in 2080 or so.

We don’t actually have to believe that in order to be able to observe that that is the central point of the alarmist case.

Excellent, so, if no one is going to be using coal in the future then we’ve not got a problem with climate change, do we?

Do note that this is not to take as being true, nor even seriously, any of the predictions that are being made by anyone. It is, rather, just to point out an important piece of logic. If solar is now, or will be imminently, cheaper than coal so that we all start to use it purely on economic grounds then the problems with climate change are over. For all of the models and predictions insist that we only get major problems if we don’t stop using coal.

It cannot be true that solar is wholly (and unsubsidised) competitive, or cheaper, than coal and we still have a problem. Alternatively, it cannot be true that we still have a problem in hte future if we believe what we are being told about the imminent cost competitiveness of solar.

It’s an either or thing.

Looking at the true numbers, rather than those provided by the boosters of solar power, it’s probably a little early, 2018, to be saying that solar will be truly competitive. But by 2025 (as Bjorn Lomborg has long been saying) it almost certainly will be. Meaning that we don’t actually have a problem and that we can indeed all go back to sleep.

The only way that this cannot be true is if solar doesn’t become so competitive. In which case we shouldn’t be working so hard to install it either, should we?



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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, 2014

Six bucks a gallon? Where gas prices might be without the U.S. energy boom

If you think the price of gas is high, imagine paying up to $6 a gallon.

That’s what energy expert Dan Steffens thinks the price could be if not for the domestic oil boom.

“With what’s going on the Middle East, I think it would five or six bucks (a gallon),” said Steffens, president of the Energy Prospectus Group out of Houston. “If it wasn’t for the shale revolution, you’d be in big trouble.”

Technological breakthroughs in recent years have led to an explosion in the energy industry in the United States.

Just how did fracking save American drivers from $6 gas?

Extraction from shale rock formations in places such as the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford Formation in south Texas and the Permian Basin in west Texas and eastern New Mexico has been so dramatic that, last month, the International Energy Agency announced the U.S. surpassed Russia and even Saudi Arabia in oil production.

A report from the commodities division of Bank of America says daily output in the U.S. exceeded 11 million barrels in the first quarter of this year.

“If we didn’t have the oil industry and oil and drill activity, the economy would be much, much slower,” Joseph Dancy, investment partner at LSGI Advisors, Inc., based in Dallas, told New Mexico Watchdog.

Drivers have been grumbling about the increase in the price at the pump. Here’s a look at the average price per gallon for the Fourth of July in the U.S. since 2008:

But the message from energy experts? It could have been much worse.

Violence in Mideast nations such as Syria, Iraq and Libya, as well as political unrest in the oil-rich nations of Nigeria and Venezuela, might have sent the price of gasoline through the roof. But benchmark U.S. crude was at $104 a barrel Monday and Brent crude, a benchmark for the international market, was down 33 cents last week to $110.91 a barrel in London.

“There’s no question that this his new-found abundance of oil from shale plays is having a significant impact on the global market,” said Bernard Weinstein, associate director at the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University.

“We’d probably be at $150 oil with this thing in Iraq going on,” Steffens said.

“While the situation in Iraq seems to be getting worse, oil prices have actually fallen (in some sectors) because the markets now understand that Iraq could go totally off the market and there’s still plenty of oil going around, not just here in the United States,” Weinstein said. “The world is swimming in oil right now.”

The political irony is that President Obama is a beneficiary of relatively stable gas prices, even though the energy explosion is happening in red states such as North Dakota and Texas, where Obama lost to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 by nearly 20 points and more than 15 points, respectively.

“It’s a wild boom and it’s all generating economic activity for a president who really does not favor the oil and gas sector at all,” Dancy said. “It is really ironic.”

But environmental organizations lament, rather than celebrate, the shale boom because energy producers use hydraulic fracturing — fracking — to get to the oil and natural gas under the earth’s surface.

“We can’t afford to support the extractive industries,” said Eleanor Bravo, senior organizer for Southwest Food and Water Watch. “The earth and the environment cannot afford to be burning any more fuel. Plus, the fracking process, when you count in the amount of methane that escapes during the extraction process, it’s as dirty or dirtier than burning coal.”

But there’s little indication the boom will stop anytime soon.

According to Weinstein’s statistics, there’s been a 60 percent increase in domestic oil production in the past six years, and Dancy cites figures showing global demand increasing 1 percent per year.

“If you look at the amount of refining exports that are going out of the United States, they’re hitting 20- and 30-year highs,” Dancy said.



by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser

Certain western governments and their science advisers think that alternative energy sources (like wind and solar power) and biofuels in particular are the salvation from “climate change,” previously called “global warming.” biofuels

They view “carbon pollution” (a misnomer, as they actually mean carbon dioxide, CO2) as the root cause of the current economic and environmental malaise in general. That’s why they blessed the nation with the “Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).”

I think the opposite is true; neither CO2 nor the “carbon footprint” is the cause of today’s many problems. In fact, the world today would be much better off if that (scientifically proven) nonsense had never become a political football.

If anything, the world today is not suffering from excessive “carbon footprints” but from excessive “carbon think” by politicians in cahoots with all kinds of NGO (non-governmental organization) “experts.” The “grow-your-fuel” idea is just one of those NGO-driven and politician-embraced problems that do more harm than good. Let’s look at biofuels more closely.

The push to have a large proportion of corn converted to bio-ethanol for admixture into the nation’s gasoline supplies came from then Vice-President Al Gore as a means to garner votes in his home state of Tennessee. Then termed “global warming” was perceived as the number one threat to mankind’s survival and prosperity on the planet.

Agitators like Maurice Strong, Al Gore, David Suzuki and others promoted the idea of CO2 as a “global evil” that would cause runaway global warming, the starvation of millions of people and, ultimately, the wholesale destruction of life on earth. Thus was born the idea of growing fuel.

The farmers in the corn-growing areas were very receptive to that idea as they could foresee rising demand for their product, supported by the biofuel mandate and government handouts. Since its inception in 2005 this mandate has been expanded at least twice, from an initial 5% ethanol in gasoline to the current 15% (with seasonal and geographical variations) on average. That represents a lot of corn; in fact somewhere in the order of one third of what is grown in the U.S.


But the biofuel mandate goes further than just ethanol in gasoline. Even the U.S. military was compelled to use biofuels for the powering of ships and airplanes. Those types of biofuels come from oil plants like canola that were previously also grown strictly for human consumption. Of course, the canola farmers on the continent were equally receptive to such ideas.

Bio-diesel and bio-jet fuel can certainly be made from plant-derived oils. Chemically, such oils differ from normal diesel or jet fuel by having some oxygen atoms in their structure, but are comparable in many physical properties. However, the cost of growing and refining such oils for use in jets is prohibitive at ten to twenty times the cost of traditional fuel made from fossil oil. So why does the mandate persist? Does it prevent “climate change” or preserve the natural environment?

Are Bio-Fuels Good?

Less CO2?

Whether you believe CO2 to be a “greenhouse gas” or not (it certainly is not) is entirely irrelevant in this context. The question here is only if growing (bio)-fuels and manipulating them to be used for powering various engines will reduce the CO2 output relative to the use of fossil resources. The unequivocal answer to that question is NO.

Every study performed that includes the often hidden costs of plowing the fields, sowing, fertilizing, irrigating, harvesting, drying, storing, transporting, converting, and distributing the fuel shows clearly that there is no energy gain at all but rather a loss. That energy loss automatically translates into a higher “carbon footprint” than otherwise necessary.

Good for nature?

Perhaps you think that pressing the (nearly) last piece of marginal land into agricultural production will enhance the local wildlife like the Monarch butterflies or protect the polar bears in the Arctic or be good for the penguins in the Antarctic.

Unfortunately, none of these is the case. The Monarch butterflies are close to being wiped out by conversion of marginal land which is the prime habitat for the milkweed plant (the preferred food for their caterpillars) and both the bears and penguins don’t give a hoot; they live off the other species in the oceans.

Good for the economy?

If you are a consumer of fuel like gasoline or diesel the biofuel mandate is certainly a part of increased fuel costs in recent years. Those increased costs come out of your pocket and largely go to the governments and biofuel producers by way of direct and indirect transfers. Of course and despite all protestations to the contrary nearly all levels of government are quite happy to see higher fuel prices as such automatically raise the revenue from cost-based taxes. Any claim to the contrary is a bold-faced lie.

Good for your mileage?

If your engine needs to deliver energy output at a certain level, the ethanol biofuel mandate is actually diminishing the available energy output from the ethanol-type fuel. The reason is easy to understand: both bio-ethanol and bio-diesel are, energetically speaking, already partly combusted hydrocarbons. Therefore, they cannot possibly deliver the same amount of energy as “un-combusted” fuel. Your fuel consumption will increase to compensate for that. Even if that were not a critical issue, ethanol in fuel can cause other problems in your vehicle.

Good for your vehicle?

Anything but. In fact most car manufacturers have clearly stated that using gasoline with more than 10 or 15% ethanol will void any and all warranties. Even small amounts of water, for example from the air humidity can lead to phase separation, particularly so for two-cycle engines and in colder weather. Apart from that, ethanol is an excellent solvent that can dissolve many different materials that are fully resistant to pure gasoline.

Very simply, it is bad for your engine.

Good for business?

A considerable part of the bio-ethanol and other biofuel consumed in the U.S. is either imported directly from Brazil or produced in the U.S. from sugar imported from Brazil. For example, at least one U.S. company produces fuels from sugar. Without various government subsidies and mandates in support of such “green” enterprises, none of these alternative energy suppliers would have ever come about at all and most depend on the continuation of these incentive programs.

In reality, the cost for all that green comes right out of taxpayers’ wallets. Too many of such enterprises have gone bust soon after they received their last government “pay check.”

Good for farming?

While many farmers welcomed the original ethanol mandate as it supported demand for their products, new findings show an unexpected flip side: Some weeds are becoming resistant to herbicides, such as glyphosate, that are widely used to increase corn yields, For example, the magazine Nature reports that in the U.S. alone some 60 million acres of farmland are infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Indirectly, the biofuel mandate is also to blame for the increased resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides because it spurred reduced crop rotation. All in the name of “saving the climate” from a non-existent “greenhouse gas” effect by the 0.04% CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere,

The EPA is now seeking comments and direction from users on how to cope with the problem they have helped to create in the first place. Their assessment and new regulations to be forthcoming will likely introduce substantial new requirements on corn and soybean farming that will entail additional costs for the farmers in several ways.

I think the time may not be far off when even farmers will come to realize that the biofuel mandate is more of a curse than a blessing.


In apologising for having Nigel Lawson on to discuss climate change, the BBC has breached its charter

Rational debate is poisonous to Warmists

It is only a matter of time before Nigel Lawson — if he is allowed on the BBC at all — has to have his words spoken by an actor in the manner of Gerry Adams at the height of the IRA’s bombing campaign during the 1980s. In the case of Mr Adams, whose voice was banned from the airwaves by the government, the BBC stood up for free speech. But it is quite a different story with Lord Lawson. The BBC has effectively banned the former chancellor (and former editor of this magazine) from appearing on its programmes to debate climate change, unless he is introduced with a statement discrediting his views.

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Department this week ruled that the Today programme broke BBC guidelines in February by inviting Lord Lawson to a debate with Sir Brian Hoskins, chairman of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change. It bizarrely claimed that his views are ‘not supported by the evidence’ — though he had pointed out, correctly, that the planet has not been warming for the past 17 years. Nevertheless, the BBC politburo warned, listeners should have been warned that Lord Lawson is in a minority and, therefore, his words ‘should not be regarded as carrying equal weight to those of experts such as Sir Brian Hoskins’.

Lord Lawson is, of course, not a scientist. But a great many people speak on the BBC on subjects in which they do not have any formal qualifications: Al Gore, for example. Or Rajendra Pachauri, a railway engineer by training, who now runs the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). Neither does the BBC seem to be worried about non-scientists addressing scientific issues when it comes to such things as fracking or GM crops, on which any green activists are welcome to speak, however bizarre their scaremongering theories.

What Lord Lawson is, however, is chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a think-tank that has no quarrel with the idea of global warming. Its aim is to appeal to reason, and to engage in mature argument rather than hysteria. Lord Lawson is advised by scientists who until recently included Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading. Professor Bengtsson was hounded off the GWPF board by his fellow scientists.

When people try to close down debate rather than engage with it, there is a pretty clear conclusion to be drawn: they lack confidence in their own case. The suppression of debate was shown again this week when Vladimir Semonov, a climate scientist at the Geomar Institute in Kiel, Germany, revealed that a paper he wrote in 2009 questioning the accuracy of climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was effectively censored by the scientist to whom it was sent for review. Their reasons for demanding passages be removed seems rather less than scientifically rigorous: one wrote that the offending material would ‘lead to unnecessary confusion in the climate science community’ and another said that ‘this entire discussion has to disappear’.

The process of peer review used in the scientific press is often held up as a mark of quality, which enables poorly conducted scientific research to be weeded out before it reaches the eyes of readers less qualified to judge the rigour of the work. This may to some extent be true, even if peer review failed to spot weaknesses in the now discredited Fleischmann-Pons cold fusion experiments of 1989 or stop the MMR scare.

But the peer review process is also open to abuse. Just as the social sciences became infected by political correctness 20 years ago, climate science has become governed by climatic correctness. To question the consensus that the world is facing fire and tempest as a result of anthropocentric global warming is, in the eyes of some working in the field, simply not allowable. That is something which was revealed in the Climategate scandal of 2009 when leaked emails from the University of East Anglia caught out scientists who had been withholding data, trying to keep rivals’ papers out of journals and in one case threatening violence against a sceptical scientist.

The BBC at first declined to go into the content of the emails, preferring to treat the story as a case of data theft. The fact that the emails contained material of extreme public interest seemed to count for nothing. The unknown individuals who leaked the emails can only dream of the hero worship afforded to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange; attitudes on the left towards release of information seem to swing dramatically depending on what information is being released.

The same is true of the BBC’s attitude towards balanced debate — something which is supposed to be guaranteed by its charter. The BBC has decided that it is allowable to debate such issues as whether benefit cuts are causing distress or whether sports-women are being discriminated against by male-dominated bastions — something the Today programme does virtually every morning. But dare to question whether it is wise for the country to embark on the economic experiment of abandoning fossil fuel on the back of some far-from-robust scientific models, and you will have to find another media outlet.


Frack to the Future

"I think it’s appropriate that George Osborne is dieting,” Nigel Lawson says, with a knowing smile.“Controlling public expenditure is about saying ‘No’ and sticking to it. And dieting is exactly the same.”

As a former chancellor of the exchequer and the author of his own best-selling diet book, Lord Lawson of Blaby knows whereof he speaks on the issue of belt-tightening. And with a sprightliness and energy that belie his 82 years, one of the Tory party’s biggest of big beasts is relishing his role as a troublesome éminence grise.

The recipient of The House magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year, he’s helped redraft the UK’s banking regulation, runs a thinktank on climate change and is a constant critic of HS2 and the EU. A regular attendee in the House of Lords, Lord Lawson appears to be more politically active than at any time since his departure from Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet 25 years ago. Far from resting on his laurels, he’s as focused on the future as any new intake MP.

Energy policy is one of his chief passions, not least since the creation of his own Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2009. But his keen interest in the issue stretches back to the early 1980s, when he was Margaret Thatcher’s energy secretary. With the coal strike looming, Lawson sought to redefine the way the UK bought and sold energy. Given the way the subject has soared up the political agenda of late, does he think he was ahead of the game?

“I do, if I may say so,” he says. “If you want an impartial witness, the leading energy economist in this country is Professor Dieter Helm, who has written the definitive account of British energy policy since the war. He says that the 1982 speech which I made to a meeting of the International Association of Energy Economists in Cambridge was the most important speech ever made by an energy secretary and it defined the whole of our energy policy for a long time to come.”

The main thrust of that speech was to say there is no reason to treat energy any differently from any other area of policy, despite the habit of British governments to interfere in the largely state-owned industry. “A sensible energy policy should be part and parcel of our economic policy,” Lawson says. “And just as our economic policy was to give the state a reduced role and to give market forces a greater role, so that should apply to energy as well.” Crucially, he prepared the ground for the gas and electricity privatisations to come.

The former chancellor has long defied the conventional wisdom on climate change too. When the world was congratulating itself on the Kyoto Treaty in 2004, Lawson was among those who wrote a letter to the Times warning of uncertainties in the science. Last year, he won a bet with Oliver Letwin that Kyoto would expire without any successor in place.

“I was not the first, but I think that certainly I realised very early on that this had been accepted as gospel by people who had not done any proper analysis,” he says. “It’s a new religion. That is why it is so difficult to change people’s minds, because they are not interested in the facts – it’s a belief system.” The Treasury still strong in his bones, he says the real issue is not so much the science as the policy response and a proper cost-benefit analysis. “What is the extent of the damage? And how does it compare with the benefits from warming? Because there undoubtedly are benefits, even the IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] accepts that; it’s where does the balance lie?

“Then there is also the political issue that because it’s an extremely costly policy, it means we go from relatively cheap and reliable energy to relatively expensive and unreliable energy. And you’re not getting any benefit on the climate front because there isn’t a global agreement.”

One Cabinet minister who was brave enough to voice claims that there could actually be benefits from global warming was Owen Paterson. The Environment Secretary’s remarks to a Tory conference fringe last year caused uproar among some green groups. But Lawson is a big fan and says Paterson should not be moved in the coming reshuffle.

“I would be disappointed to see him moved out of government, not just because of this issue but because I think he’s one of the best ministers in the Government. I think he did a very good job in Northern Ireland and I think that he understands the countryside and farming very well, but he also has a very good mind. It would be a great loss to the Government, which needs all the talent it can get.”

He points out that conservation is a key Conservative belief. “Owen Paterson is very conscious of that. The green issue is not just one issue. If you get hung up on the evils of fossil fuel and as a result you litter the countryside with wind farms, not only is that economic nonsense in energy terms, but it is not environmentally friendly either. Solar farms, too, they are appalling environmentally. Wind turbines kill really serious numbers of birds.”

Of course, one of David Cameron’s first acts as Tory leader was to underline his ‘green’ credentials with his infamous trip to the polar ice cap. Lawson understands why David Cameron felt the need to ‘rebrand’ the Conservatives, but clearly feels it was misguided. “Margaret Thatcher, even though she was a really great prime minister, I think the country had got tired of her, as it gets tired of almost anybody after a long period of government,” he says. “But it was largely about her manner, not her policies. So there was no need to get a whole new raft of different policies in a great rebranding exercise. But the ‘hugging huskies’ and all that was part of the rebranding and of ‘going green’ in general.

“I think it was a great mistake. I think that, without really admitting it, I think they are trying quite hard to row back from that. But of course it’s always hard to row back from anything you’ve made a big splash about, but it’s all the harder because of the Coalition.”

Given his own enthusiastic backing for the expansion of the City during the Thatcher years, it’s perhaps not surprising that the former chancellor is not over-keen on the Coalition’s rhetoric about “rebalancing the economy” at the expense of financial services. “I think that is foolish and unwise,” he says. “The only sort of rebalancing I would like is to see the north of England share more in the economic success. But the way to do that is not by building this absurdly expensive High Speed 2, for which there is no sensible case at all.

“The way to do it is by developing shale gas resources in the north of England, particularly in the north-west,” he adds. “We need to go for that. If you look at what’s happened in the United States, it has completely transformed the economies of some of the poorest parts of the United States. We could have that here.”

George Osborne is resolutely behind HS2, but he does appear to have listened to people like Lawson and others who strongly support fracking. How often do the pair of them talk? “I do see him from time to time, but George sees quite a lot of people so I have no special locus,” he explains. The informal ‘council of former chancellors’ (Howe, Lawson and Lamont) no longer meets Osborne, however. “When I see him, which is only infrequently, I see him just à deux.”


The Real Climate Dogmatics

Some people find climate change ‘deniers’ the most irritating people on God’s green earth. On her Telegraph blog Martha Gill equates them with flat-earthers, which says a lot for the depth of her analysis. She points to a piece on the Huffington Post by Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (funded by billionaire Greenpeace contributor Jeremy Grantham, who also sponsors an $80,000 prize for environmental reporting – which this article will stand no chance of winning) and says it demolishes the deniers’ arguments. The problem is that it doesn’t.

Those who think ‘deniers’ are a problem and seek to put them down are in doing so misrepresenting the science they want to uphold. Once they said ‘deniers’ did not believe that carbon dioxide was a greenhouse gas or that mankind was pumping it into the atmosphere, or even that the globe had warmed in recent decades. And so-called deniers never took issue with any of this. Their questions were at a deeper level, but it took years for the media to notice.

You can make a strong case that all this ‘denial’ has been good for climate science. Some of these ‘deniers’ actually found that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s supreme icon – the ‘hockey stick’ graph showing a recent alarming rise in global temperature – was wrong. Then they pointed out that the global annual average surface temperature was not rising as predicted. To some it was an obviously fictitious, mischievous ploy to cast doubt on climate change, a misinterpretation of a minor recent blip in what is obviously an upward trend in global surface temperature that has been going on for well over a century.

But the ‘deniers’ were right. The non-publicity seeking real climate scientists who published their thoughts in peer-reviewed literature knew something was going on with global surface temperatures, and debated its significance and possible causes in unreported papers that only the ‘deniers’ seemed to read. Eventually the pause was recognised for what it is. The journal Nature called it the biggest problem in climate science, and so it is. Something that was said to be a denier’s ploy has now more than a dozen serious scientific possible explanations. The so-called deniers were closer to the science and far ahead of media commentators.

But there is still trouble with climate change ‘denial’ according to Bob Ward. He criticises Lord Lawson for saying that he denies any link between climate change and the weather events of earlier this year. Bob Ward said the Met Office has laid it out. Yes they have, and this is what their report said:-

‘As yet, there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change to the recent storminess, rainfall amounts and the consequent flooding. This is in part due to the highly variable nature of UK weather and climate.’

Bob Ward also cherry-picks his answer to counter Lord Lawson’s statement that the effect of carbon dioxide on the earth’s atmosphere is probably less than was previously thought. That is actually a fair and scientifically reasonable standpoint to take and were it made amongst scientists at a conference there would be sober discussion. It is significant that the latest IPCC report on climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide does not cite a best estimate, whereas the previous one did. The latest report notes a substantial discrepancy between observation-based estimates of the effect of carbon dioxide and estimates from climate models. This is not settled, there is room for debate.

Regarding the freezing of the Thames in the 17th century and the occurrence of Frost Fairs, Bob Ward says it is a ‘sceptic canard’ that this was due to a cold climate. He believes the narrowness of bridges and not the so-called Little Ice Age was to blame. Actually both had an influence, as did the building of embankments. The Little Ice Age – once thought to be confined to Europe but now recognised to have occurred worldwide – was a definite period of colder climate that had devastating consequences. We still cannot explain what happened.

Few scientists would say that scepticism is not a good thing in science, but somehow those who ask valid questions of climate science are different. Motives are impugned, qualifications questioned. The problem lies not with their questions but with the inflexible and dogmatic way that some commentators and indeed some scientists regard climate science. There is also a major problem with the quality of the scholarship of many commentators who are all too quick to dismiss sensible questions as ‘obviously fantastical rubbish supported only by anecdote and untested assertions.’

Climate science is important. We must deal with it and we must understand it. But it’s complicated. Not everything fits or is settled or consistent. Today’s obvious answers may not be tomorrow’s. Things change, values are revised up and down, and people have different opinions about the same data. Simple answers are seldom totally waterproof. It’s science and science is all about the awkward questions. The ‘deniers’ know this. Some others seem not to.


Holding Greenpeace accountable

Poor countries should hold Big Green groups and directors liable for deaths, ravage they cause

Paul Driessen

Fossil fuel and insurance company executives “could face personal liability for funding climate denialism and opposing policies to fight climate change,” Greenpeace recently warned several corporations. In a letter co-signed by WWF International and the Center for International Environmental Law, the Rainbow Warriors ($155 million in 2013 global income) suggested that legal action might be possible.

Meanwhile, the WWF ($927 million in 2013 global income) filed a formal complaint against Peabody Energy for “misleading readers” in advertisements that say coal-based electricity can improve lives in developing countries. The ads are not “decent, honest and veracious,” as required by Belgian law, the World Wildlife ethicists sniffed. Other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) make similar demands.

These are novel tactics. But the entire exercise might be little more than a clever attempt to distract people from developments that could create problems for thus far unaccountable Big Green organizations.

I don’t mean Greenpeace International’s $5.2 million loss a couple weeks ago, when a rogue employee (since fired) used company cash to conduct unauthorized trades on global currency markets. Other recent events portend far rougher legal and political waters ahead for radical eco-imperialists, especially if countries and companies take a few more pages out of the Big Green playbook.

India’s Intelligence Bureau recently identified Greenpeace as “a threat to national economic security,” noting that these and other groups have been “spawning” and funding internal protest movements and campaigns that have delayed or blocked numerous mines, electricity projects and other infrastructure programs vitally needed to create jobs and lift people out of poverty and disease. The anti-development NGOs are costing India’s economy 2-3% in lost GDP every year, the Bureau estimates.

The Indian government has now banned direct foreign funding of local campaign groups by foreign NGOs like Greenpeace, the WWF and US-based Center for Media and Democracy. India and other nations could do much more. Simply holding these über-wealthy nonprofit environmentalist corporations to the same ethical standards they demand of for-profit corporations could be a fascinating start.

Greenpeace, WWF and other Big Green campaigners constantly demand environmental and climate justice for poor families. They insist that for-profit corporations be socially responsible, honest, transparent, accountable, and liable for damages and injustices that the NGOs allege the companies have committed, by supposedly altering Earth’s climate and weather, for example.

Meanwhile, more than 300 million Indians (equal to the US population) still have no access to electricity, or only sporadic access. 700 million Africans likewise have no or only occasional access. Worldwide, almost 2.5 billion people (nearly a third of our Earth’s population) still lack electricity or must rely on little solar panels on their huts, a single wind turbine in their village or terribly unreliable networks, to charge a cell phone and power a few light bulbs or a tiny refrigerator.

These energy-deprived people do not merely suffer abject poverty. They must burn wood and dung for heating and cooking, which results in debilitating lung diseases that kill a million people every year. They lack refrigeration, safe water and decent hospitals, resulting in virulent intestinal diseases that send almost two million people to their graves annually. The vast majority of these victims are women and children.

The energy deprivation is due in large part to unrelenting, aggressive, deceitful eco-activist campaigns against coal-fired power plants, natural gas-fueled turbines, and nuclear and hydroelectric facilities in India, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and elsewhere. The Obama Administration joined Big Greeen in refusing to support loans for these critically needed projects, citing climate change and other claims.

As American University adjunct professor Caleb Rossiter asked in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Where is the justice when the U.S. discourages World Bank funding for electricity-generation projects in Africa that involve fossil fuels, and when the European Union places a ‘global warming’ tax on cargo flights importing perishable African goods?”

Where is the justice in Obama advisor John Holdren saying ultra-green elites in rich countries should define and dictate “ecologically feasible development” for poor countries? As the Indian government said in banning foreign NGO funding of anti-development groups, poor nations have “a right to grow.”

Imagine your life without abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and transportation fuels. Imagine living under conditions endured by impoverished, malnourished, diseased Indians and Africans whose life expectancy is 49 to 59 years. And then dare to object to their pleas and aspirations, especially on the basis of “dangerous manmade global warming” speculation and GIGO computer models. Real pollution from modern coal-fired power plants (particulates, sulfates, nitrates and so on) is a tiny fraction of what they emitted 40 years ago – and far less harmful than pollutants from zero-electricity wood fires.

Big Green activists say anything other than solar panels and bird-butchering wind turbines would not be “sustainable.” Like climate change, “sustainability” is infinitely elastic and malleable, making it a perfect weapon for anti-development activists. Whatever they support is sustainable. Whatever they oppose is unsustainable. To them, apparently, the diseases and death tolls are sustainable, just, ethical and moral.

Whatever they advocate also complies with the “precautionary principle.” Whatever they disdain violates it. Worse, their perverse guideline always focuses on the risks of using technologies – but never on the risks of not using them. It spotlights risks that a technology – coal-fired power plants, biotech foods or DDT, for example – might cause, but ignores risks the technology would reduce or prevent.

Genetically engineered Golden Rice incorporates a gene from corn (maize) to make it rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent blindness and save lives. The rice would be made available at no cost to poor farmers. Just two ounces a day would virtually end the childhood malnutrition, blindness and deaths. But Greenpeace and its “ethical” collaborators have battled Golden Rice for years, while eight million children died from Vitamin A deficiency since the rice was invented.

In Uganda malnourished people depend as heavily on Vitamin A-deficient bananas, as their Asian counterparts do on minimally nutritious rice. A new banana incorporates genes from wild bananas, to boost the fruit’s Vitamin A levels tenfold. But anti-biotechnology activists repeatedly pressure legislators not to approve biotech crops for sale. Other crops are genetically engineered to resist insects, drought and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and allowing farmers to grow more food on less land with less water. However, Big Green opposes them too, while millions die from malnutrition and starvation.

Sprayed in tiny amounts on walls of homes, DDT repels mosquitoes for six months or more. It kills any that land on the walls and irritates those it does not kill or repel, so they leave the house without biting anyone. No other chemical – at any price – can do all that. Where DDT and other insecticides are used, malaria cases and deaths plummet – by as much as 80 percent. Used this way, the chemical is safe for humans and animals, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes are far less likely to build immunities to DDT than to other pesticides, which are still used heavily in agriculture and do pose risks to humans.

But in another crime against humanity, Greenpeace, WWF and their ilk constantly battle DDT use – while half a billion people get malaria every year, making them unable to work for weeks on end, leaving millions with permanent brain damage, and killing a million people per year, mostly women and children.

India and other countries can fight back, by terminating the NGOs’ tax-exempt status, as Canada did with Greenpeace. They could hold the pressure groups to the same standards they demand of for-profit corporations: honesty, transparency, social responsibility, accountability and personal liability. They could excoriate the Big Green groups for their crimes against humanity – and penalize them for the malnutrition, disease, economic retractions and deaths they perpetrate or perpetuate.

Actions like these would improve billions of lives and bring some accountability to Big Green(backs).

Via email


For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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13 July, 2014

Pop musician creates skeptical video

According to, founding OVERKILL drummer Lee "Rat Skates" Kundrat has written ad directed a new ad that uses graphic Holocaust footage in an apparent attempt to downplay the idea of global warming. Check it out below.

Skates, who grew up in a middle-class household in New Providence, New Jersey, has reportedly been making short videos for conservative causes for the last few years. The 53-year-old former musician raised eyebrows last December when he created a seemingly pro-Christian ad dubbed "War On Christmas" (see below) which was described by one site as "freakish and a bit disturbing." Skates also wrote and directed a short video in 2012 featuring teens puzzling over the policies of President Obama. The clip, which can be seen below, was described by Skates as "the boldness of Bill O'Reilly meets the encouragement of Joel Osteen in this street-level documentary and study guide."

Rat has been professionally involved in the filmmaking industry since 1999, writing and producing a wide variety of projects, from corporate advertising and television commercials to the performing arts. He also worked with director Rick Ernst as associate producer on the documentary "Get Thrashed".

SOURCE  Videos at link

Informing a Slate Reporter (politely) About Heartland’s Climate Skeptic Conference

by Jim Lakely

Slate reporter Will Oremus reached out to me on Tuesday afternoon seeking comment about Heartland’s climate conference in Las Vegas this week. We talked for about 20 minutes and I tried to fill in what he might have missed while he watched the conference from home.

Oremus was cordial enough — as was I — but the information I tried to impart didn’t take in his story for Slate. Below is the email I sent Ormeus to correct the record:


After wrapping up The Heartland Institute’s 9th International Conference on Climate Change, I saw your piece in Slate titled “The Climate Optimists.” That term has a good ring to it, and is a pretty accurate description of the views expressed at the world’s leading conference of scientific “skeptics” of man-caused global warming. Considering all the doom and gloom the media has reported about the climate over the last couple of decades, the optimistic and data-based truth needs quite a bit more play in the media.

As I explained over the phone to you, the term “denier” is a calumny the eco-left has long employed to equate skepticism of catastrophic man-caused global warming with Holocaust denial. It is shameful, and I’m disappointed to see you employed that slur in your story. Nonetheless, I appreciate your efforts to write a story about Heartland’s latest climate conference remotely by watching some of the live feed.

You would have served yourself and Slate’s readers better, however, if you had come to Las Vegas in person. Your understanding of the data and viewpoints of the speakers and scientists would have been greatly enhanced by a chance to talk to them on the side between sessions, as other journalists did. Since you were not able to do that, let me correct some errors, and fill in some of the facts and context your story lacked.

For starters, a lot more than “several” of the speakers at the conference were scientists. Twenty-eight of the 61 presenters have earned PH.Ds, while others have masters degrees. Also, you note that many of the scientists who presented aren’t “climate scientists.” But what is a “climate scientist”?

Bob Carter, Ph.D., is a paleogeologist. His expertise allows him to closely examine the historical climate record. Is understanding that climatic history irrelevant to examining what’s been happening since the Industrial Revolution? Of course not. So he is a “climate scientist.”

Willie Soon, Ph.D., specializes in solar activity. Indeed, he is among the world’s leading scientists in that field. Sebastian Lüning, Ph.D., is a geologist who has also been keenly focused on how the sun affects the climate and is a leader in this field. Is solar activity irrelevant to the earth’s climate? Of course not. So they are “climate scientists.”

Jennifer Marohasy, Ph.D., specializes in analyzing and interpreting historical rainfall data. Is an examination of precipitation patterns over a long period of time irrelevant to the earth’s climate? Of course not. So she is also a “climate scientist.”

I could do that all day with only the 28 Ph.D.s who presented at our conference. As I explained in our phone interview, gaining the full picture of what is happening to our climate requires bringing together experts in various disciplines to share their data and analysis. Any single person who claims to be strictly a “climate scientist” — and suggests he has definitive authority — is merely preening for the sake of PR. Understanding the climate is a team effort, as the scientists who presented at The Heartland Institute’s latest conference would attest.

You write: “Still, the Heartland crowd is careful to frame its arguments in terms of science and skepticism rather than dogma.”

The “Heartland crowd” was not being “careful” about that. It just happens — because the scientists who speak at our conferences actually do frame their arguments in terms of science. You really should have come to or watched more of the conference, which you can still do here by clicking on the links below the “live feed.”

You write: The nearly 18-years of no global warming “has been a godsend for those looking for holes in the prevailing models of catastrophic future warming.”

Another way to write that sentence would be:

“The lack of global warming for almost 18 years pokes holes in the prevailing models of catastrophic future warming.”

The models the IPCC and alarmists rely upon to make policy have been wrong for decades. (See Dr. Roy Spencer’s presentation at our conference here.) If they couldn’t accurately predict what’s happened for the last 30 years, why should we trust them to be right in predicting the next 100 years? You should have a little more healthy skepticism about that, and be asking the alarmists why their models have failed so spectacularly.

You write: “Many are still focused on disputing the basic link between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. As I watched the conference, it became clear that some have little trouble flipping between the two viewpoints.”

As I explained to you over the phone, unlike the alarmists — who all sing in perfect harmony about man-caused climate calamity from the group-think hymnal — the scientists who speak at our conferences don’t all agree on everything. That’s the nature of bringing together scientists who study the climate from diverse disciplines. That’s healthy for science, as well as the goal of advancing greater public understanding of what is actually happening to the climate.

Also, there is no “basic link” between CO2 levels and global temperatures. As I mentioned to you on the phone, global human-caused CO2 emissions have increased over the last 17 years and 10 months, but global temperatures have not risen along with it. Yet 95 percent of the UN IPCC’s climate models said temperatures would. Doesn’t that tend to disprove the “basic link”?

As Patrick Moore showed in his presentation at the conference — and others did in their turns at bat — the long-term historical record shows no causal connection between CO2 and global temperature. Correlation is not causation, and there isn’t even a strong correlation — as we’ve seen for the last 17 years and 10 months.

You write: “That doesn’t mean, of course, that the evidence on both sides is equal. There’s a reason the climate deniers are losing the scientific debate, and it isn’t because academia is better funded than the energy industry.”

This is a non sequitur that presumes the climate realist side is swimming in “energy industry” money. As I told you on the phone, Heartland’s conference was not funded by the energy industry, and no skeptic scientist is getting rich. To the contrary, many of the scientists at our conferences suffer professionally because they do not toe the alarmist line, but instead concentrate on the data that contradicts the alarmist, always-wrong computer models. That level of basic scientific and personal integrity has cost the skeptic scientists plenty. There’s an excellent story for you in that fact, shared often during the conference.

You single out Patrick Michaels, and dismiss him as receiving “fossil-fuel industry” money. Dr. Michaels was past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He was a professor at the University of Virginia for 30 years. His credentials are impeccable. Michaels’ presentation this year focused on how science has been corrupted because anyone who dares to apply the scientific method to the alarmist conclusions is blackballed from science journals — and also doesn’t receive university support or grants. You really ought to watch Michaels’ presentation. There’s another story just in that.

Academia is better funded than the “energy industry” in the only aspect that matters: funding to support climate research. The federal grants flow only to university professors who will toe the alarmist line. Exxon, which stopped donating to Heartland in 2006 (two years before our first climate conference) donates generously to green groups. Chesapeake Energy has donated (as of 2012) $26 million to the Sierra Club. There are scores more examples of the “fossil fuel industry” supporting alarmists and green groups a whole lot more than any skeptic scientist.

One last thing on the idea that the skeptics are “losing the scientific debate.” A Rasmussen poll released July 9, the last day of Heartland’s conference, showed that only 20 percent of Americans “think the global warming debate is over.” Sixty-three percent said “the debate about global warming is not over” and another 17 percent is “not sure.” That means this: Decades of media and academic alarmist indocrination have left only 20 percent of Americans agreeing with Al Gore, various climate alarmist groups, Hollywood, and the mainstream media’s insistence that “the debate is over” about the hypothesis that human activity is causing a climate crisis.

The Heartland Institute is proud to have played any part in that poll result. For what it’s worth, a Gallup poll from January showed that 23 percent of Americans identify themselves as “liberal.” Most liberals believe in man-caused global warming and have little interest in hearing the other side of the scientific argument. While I’m not a fan of correlation studies, the data match is interesting and something to explore.

You write: “Touting the recent slowdown in global average surface temperatures, for example, implies that such temperatures do in fact tell us a lot about the health of the climate. That will become an awkward stance in a hurry if the temperatures soon resume their climb.”

Again, isn’t the “recent slowdown in global average temperature” a much more troubling problem for the alarmists? None of them predicted it. But for them, the rising temperatures from about 1950 forward in the 20th Century was “proof” that AGW is a “fact” — a huge problem that requires massive, government-directed reorganization of the energy economy. As Patrick Moore and others pointed out at our conference, we’re actually not all that warm today from a long-term (epochal) perspective. And even if you want to shrink that perspective down to the dawn of human history, the earth has still often been significantly warmer in the past than it is today. Those periods of warming, by the way, have been beneficial to humans, plants, and animals.

Indeed, many of the scientists at our conference agree with what Patrick Moore stated in his plenary address: Living things on Earth would benefit from even more CO2 in the atmosphere, not less. You surely think that is a radical statement, but the science backs it up. Again, watch Moore’s presentation.

Finally, “extreme weather events” are not on the rise. Category 3 hurricanes striking the US are at an all-time low since record-keeping began — which means tomorrow and the next day set a new record for major hurricanes not hitting the US. Tornadoes, especially the number of strong ones, are significantly fewer these days than the most recent 20th century peak in the 1970s. And Joe Bastardi was right: Wildfires have burned up less acreage of land in 2013 than in many years past.

That is all directly opposite of what climate alarmists predicted. Maybe you should ask them some questions.


Climate Change, Human Health, and Adaptation

Panel 11 of the 9th International Conference on Climate Change was on the subject of “Climate Change, Human Health, and Adaptation.” The panel was primarily concerned about how climate change, and government responses to it, might affect the quality and extent of human life in the future.

The featured speakers in this panel were Dr. Craig Loehle, Dr. John Dale Dunn, and Myron Ebell. These three panelists argued that the negative health effects touted by the IPCC and the federal government are not realistic and that the real threat people face is regulatory overreach.

In his talk, Dr. Loehle, an ecologist, asks the question at the beginning of his talk: “Will warming increase disease?” This is what the IPCC and the Obama administration’s 2014 Climate Assessment Report contend. But is that the case?

Contrary to the IPCC narrative, Loehle argues that an historical survey of the diseases in question will reveal that warming is not so great a threat as is believed. He explains that most diseases have been fought by improvements in infrastructure and general welfare, not environmental.

In the case of malaria particular, Loehle challenges some of the prevailing narratives. The contention of the IPCC and various public health organizations is that increased temperatures will increase mosquito populations, warm the water and increase the incidence of flooding. Loehle says that malaria is not prevalent because of temperature, but because of other factors. Indeed, he says that malaria was endemic in Russia and Scandinavia until very recently.

The defeat of malaria in the Western world was thanks in large part to elimination of standing water, particularly in rain barrels, in favor of piped water. By denying mosquitoes their breeding grounds near humans, the disease was eradicated. Loehle suggests that the same could be accomplished in the developing world by focusing on economic development over environmental issues. He also favors the widespread use of DDT to control mosquito populations.

Dr. Dunn, a physician, carries the torch of public health further in his presentation. He contends that warmer temperatures tend to be better for humans, as their cardiovascular and circulatory systems tend to be overtaxed in winter. He points to the fact that deaths in winter are 10% higher than in summer. Climate change may thus provide some positive public health benefits to people.

Myron Ebell turns the panel toward the subject of regulations and other responses to the perceived threats of climate change. Ebell argues that the dominant paradigm in which the issue of climate change is viewed is misguided, saying that, “We should not be talking about mitigation of climate change. We should be talking about adaptation to environmental change and environmental challenges.”

Ebell shows particular concern for the Obama administration’s plans to beef up the EPA and policies that will radically increase the scope of the Endangered Species Act. As government projects will be required to take into account climate change impacts before being undertaken, and as “habitat corridors” are carved out of the nation’s landscape, individuals’ freedoms look sure to be curtailed.

The problem with regulations of such a sweeping sort as the Obama administration is rolling out is that they do not allow for much nuance, and invariably stifle the economic development that is at the core of America’s prosperity. It does not seem like the administration realizes the full extent of the damage it might do to the economy. We can only hope they wise up before it’s too late.


EPA Is Desperately in Need of Budget Cuts. Here’s a Few Places to Start

Of late, it seems the Environmental Protection Agency has been acting like a misbehaved child—recklessly doing what it wants at the expense of others without any supervision. And just as parents punish children by taking away their allowance, Congress should do the same to the EPA and cut its budget.

Cutting the EPA’s budget does not mean a world of unchecked polluters and environmental degradation in America. Tightening the agency’s purse will rein in the EPA’s heavy-handed, unilateral reach into the economy.

EPA’s $8 billion-per-year budget has remained steady through the last decade, (see table 5.1) with some significant peaks from the Obama stimulus package. But the EPA has a disproportionately large impact on Americans in terms of both freedom and economic burden that is passed on to states, localities and individuals. It issued 21 major regulations with annual compliance costs of $37.8 billion in President Obama’s first term alone.

Shrinking the EPA budget, then, is more about returning the federal government to a more acceptable size and empowering states and individuals to once again take care of the environment, as they have proven they can do successfully.

Reducing the EPA’s budget and regulatory reach isn’t a question of choosing between clean or unsafe air, water and lands. It’s about putting management back into the right hands. States have unique incentive to manage the environment and have networks that are much bigger and more varied than EPA’s, especially given the size of the area EPA is trying to manage compared to individual states.

Innovation and the free market promote prosperity and improve environmental quality, not command and control under the premise of “partnerships” with and “flexibility” for the states.

Congress should prevent the EPA from implementing regulations that will drive up living costs for American families for little, if any, environmental benefit. These include:

    Regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, including regulations for vehicles, power plants and other major emitters.

    Federalizing all of America’s “navigable waters”, which poses enormous risk to individual freedom, property rights and economic growth

    Implementing more stringent National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

    Imposing a new Stream Buffer Zone rule that fundamentally changes the federal–state relationship in protecting the environment from coal mining and reclaiming abandoned mined lands. Rather than tailor regulatory requirements to regional and local needs, the EPA approach would usurp the role of states.

    Garnishing wages and creating difficult and flawed procedures to collect from those who violate EPA regulations.

    Administering any new regulations on hydraulic fracturing.
Implementing Tier 3 gas regulations to lower the amount of sulfur in gasoline beginning in 2017. More stringent sulfur regulations could add 6 cents to 9 cents per gallon to the cost of manufacturing gasoline—and the EPA has declared no measurable air quality benefits would occur.

    Eliminating New Source Review that stifles innovation and prevents businesses from making major upgrades that would reduce emissions.

    Prohibiting funding for the Renewable Fuel Standard, which has been an economic and environmental boondoggle, and artificially raises the price of gasoline.

Further, Congress should cut back EPA spending and eliminate programs that are either wasteful, duplicative or simply not the role of the federal government. A first cut at the EPA’s budget would save $1.38 billion from the FY2013 Continuing Resolution numbers. Programs that Congress should cut immediately include:

    Oil spill programs (Savings from FY2013: $15.3 million). The onus to prepare, prevent and clean up oil spills should be on oil companies, not taxpayers. In fact, the fines received from the Deepwater Horizon spill should offset some of the need for taxpayers to foot the bill for the EPA. According to the agency’s budget support document, the EPA obtained $1.1 billion in federal administrative and civil judicial penalties in FY 2013—a record $1 billion of it from Transocean for its liability in the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s 1/8th of the agency’s entire budget. Some money may be necessary to enforce and administer laws and for immediate response, but the large majority of oil spill cleanup activities should be devolved to the state and local level.

    Climate Protection Program (Savings: $47.8 million) The Air, Climate and Energy program spends money on climate reporting, assessing climate impacts, state and local technical assistance programs and on biofuels research. We shouldn’t have a biofuel program to begin with, and the EPA definitely does not need one since the Department of Energy operates several. Moreover, the EPA’s budget justification says money is available to enable “the EPA to investigate the impact of a changing climate on air pollution emissions at a reduced level.” In other words, the EPA not only wants to impose regulations that cost Americans billions but reduce global temperatures by less than a degree, it wants more money to measure that change.
Leasing Underutilized Space (Savings: approximately $21 million) According to a 2013 EPA Inspector General report, the agency could save more than $21 million by leasing underutilized space.
Grant programs and Information Exchange/Outreach: (Savings: $1.14 billion) The EPA should not be funding Environmental Education Grants and other grant programs such as job training grant programs. EPA has allocated taxpayer money to projects that educate and increase awareness about stewardship. Previous education money has gone toward funding for poster contests that have included contests on sun protection, asthma awareness and radon. The majority of grants have been awarded to nonprofits with schools being a distant second, and the most popular topics are biodiversity and general “environmental literacy.” Even the Obama administration has recognized a need to cut back on revolving state grants, reducing its FY2014 budget request by $581 million.
Clean Diesel Program (savings: approximately $30 million) Only $30 million was authorized for the EPA’s clean diesel program in 2012, but hundreds of millions have been spent over the years to develop more than 60,000 pieces of clean diesel technology, such as “emissions and idle control devices, aerodynamic equipment, engine and vehicle replacements, and alternative fuel options.” If these technologies are economically viable and consumer demand exists, these products will be developed without the help of taxpayers.
Regional programs that state and local governments should own and manage ($124.5 million). The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of the Interior, Department of State, Department of Transportation … and the EPA. Both the Obama administration and Republicans support cuts for GLRI, the entirety of which should be phased out and/or transitioned fully to state ownership.
Environmental Justice (Savings: $7.3 million) The EPA’s environmental justice program is unnecessary and spends money superfluously, such as the $1.6 million it spent on a hotel for a conference this June or the $1.2 million for the “Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program.” Congress should eliminate this program.

The proposed cuts outlined here merely scratch the surface of a rogue agency that has wildly spent and regulated outside its purview. It’s time for Congress to step up and rein in the agency, and a healthy round of budget-cutting is a good place to start.


EPA easing radiation restrictions

Raising the EPA Radiation Limit Will Save Thousands of Lives and Billions of Dollars. Radiation limits were far more restrictive  than science justified and caused hundreds of billions of dollars of economic loss to America and the world

The EPA is raising the radiation threat level by a factor of 350. That may sound unbelievable but it is assuredly a good thing: The previous limits were far lower than science justified and caused hundreds of billions of dollars of economic loss to America and the world.

The trigger for the change was the government recognizing the ramifications of two things. The first is the reality of nuclear terrorism. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has recently insisted that the EPA establish realistic limits in accordance with the latest science. Under the old limits, a tiny “dirty bomb” explosion in an American city would have meant evacuating hundreds of thousands of people.

The second is Fukushima. After the catastrophic meltdown at the Japanese nuclear power plant in 2011, some 130,000 people were forcibly removed from their homes in accordance with strict radiation standards. This resulted in the unnecessary and unfortunate deaths of some 1600 elderly and ill persons. Yet no residents died—or even became ill—from the radiation. Even so, Japan closed down 48 nuclear plants and Germany announced it would close all of its plants. The cost to their citizenry in higher electricity prices—and higher carbon emissions—is staggering.

The cost to U.S. citizens is staggering as well. Ultra-low limits have delayed and prevented the construction of new nuclear power plants, added billions to the cost of refurbishing old reactors and Superfund clean-up sites, scared Nevada residents into opposing the opening of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facilities, and triggered panic whenever there has been a slight increase in radiation almost anywhere for any reason. One remembers the Three Mile Island nuclear leaks, where residents were exposed to less radiation than they got from the granite building blocks at the Senate hearing room when they testified.

Fortunately, the EPA is making changes that acknowledge the shortcomings of ultra-low radiation limits. The EPA has now asked for public comment on changing its standards for nuclear power plants.  The deadline was June 4.

Further, in Florida, the EPA has given up on enforcing a very expensive radiation cleanup under the old rules. This is a tremendous move that has nevertheless come under attack from environmental extremists who promised to resist the new rules even if “health effects prove reliable.” Some 100 watchdog groups have joined the attack.

Much of the reason for the EPA’s prior low exposure fears comes from a theory in computer models that the cancer risk is directly proportional to the dose of radiation. This is untrue below the 10 REM threshold of exposure as is well detailed in a Forbes article. Yet the theory, called LNT (linear no-threshold model), has done untold damage to America. (Further explanation and links are available in my earlier article Terrorism and Radiation.) The EPA change specifically refers to one time events, although its historic 15 millirem limit barely distinguished between short and long term exposure. Nuclear workers with prolonged exposure face a different risk. The first ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) recommended a “tolerance dose” of no more than 70 REM per year (0.2 roentgen per day), but more research needs to be done in this area, e.g. a 40 hour work week of exposure compared to continuous exposure. EPA’s limit was a maximum 5 REM over a full year.

The new nuclear limits should prompt the EPA to modify the extreme 15-25 millirem limits in other areas under its jurisdiction. Specifically, these should include allowing new nuclear electric plants to follow the same rules. Clean-up of past nuclear waste disposal sites would be another area of multi-billion dollar savings. The difference in cost is astronomical. Southern California Edison has now shut down its San Onofre nuclear plant because of the high cost of replacing steam generators. Higher radiation limits might make the repairs economically viable. The Yucca Mountain storage site costs should be recalculated from the past 15 millirem limit using the new risk numbers. However, the EPA has also specifically stated that the new guide “will not affect the agency’s Superfund authorities, existing cleanup regulations or current health and safety standards.” Currently the EPA’s Superfund clean up standards are based upon a risk factor of 1 person in 10,000 possibly developing cancer under LNT models. LNT theory does not distinguish between one-time exposure and continuous exposure.

Then there is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Using the same old EPA limits, it fanned the flames of panic in Japan by urging Americans up to 50 miles away to flee Fukushima. It should also update its risk analyses.

What’s missing now are some reliable analyses of the billions of dollars in savings that will result from using the new limits. In the nuclear weapons programs, the new limits should be analyzed and new safety rules put in place. Canadian nuclear physicist Jerry Cuttler, to whom I am indebted for much of the above information, suggests that the ALARA limits (as low as reasonably achievable) should be changed to AHARS (as high as reasonably safe).

Equally important, the EPA change brings attention to the issue that economic costs can be considered in its rulings. Historically, EPA denies this premise based upon its original mandate, which does not call on the agency to consider economic costs, it claims. The EPA has won in court with this argument. Most recently, Politico reported that “a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s rule, known as MATS, denying challenges from states, utilities and industry groups which argued the rules came out of a flawed regulatory process and illegally imposed exorbitant costs on power producers that will force dozens of power plants to close down.” The industry argued that this decision would substantially raise electricity rates for consumers in much of the nation. EPA decisions are based on the same linear no-threshold models that any minimal exposure will cause cancer or asthma among some proportion of the population. But under this theory, even tiny amounts of sunlight are a threat to some human beings. As science advances to allow measuring parts per billion or even per trillion, EPA has proceeded to continuously tighten its limits.

Other skeleton in the EPA’s closet are environmental limits caused by its policy of “chasing the last molecule.” If EPA could be forced to modify its radiations limits, what about its other extremes? Take sulfur, for example. Its prevalence has already been reduced by 90 percent. Still, using its now discredited LNT theory, EPA is has ordered refiners to eliminate the last 10 percent. This will add between 6 and 9 cents per gallon to the cost of gasoline.

There is another major implication. Many if not most of the EPA's other limits on pollutants and carcinogens are also deduced from the faulty LNT theory. Eliminating 90 percent of some chemical or dust is often easily accomplished, however, eliminating the last 10 percent can cost billions more than the first 90 percent. For example, a Wall Street Journal report on ozone explains that new EPA limits reducing ozone from today’s 75 parts per billion to 60 to 70 ppb would cost industry some $90 billion, according to the EPA itself. These are the costs that many industries are howling about and a real reason that Americans’ standard of living has stopped increasing. Much analysis, beyond the scope of this report, needs to be researched for dozens of other excessive limits imposed by Washington, D.C.

The yearly cost of unnecessary EPA regulations is in the many hundreds of billions of dollars, reducing wages and hurting the world's standard of living. And yet these positive modifications are under severe attack from green extremists. Rather than fighting sensible and cost-saving reforms, they should help rescue the legitimate environmental movement from far-left activists whose hysterical opposition to logical standards truly threatens world prosperity.


Australia: So-called protectors the real marine polluters

LISTEN to the Greens, Labor or their broadcast arm, the ABC, and you might think the biggest threats to the pristine waters of north Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef came from the mining industry and the ships that serve our export industry.

Dig a little deeper though and you will find it is the ecoterrorist group Sea Shepherd, a darling of the Leftist media, that has been fouling our northern waters.

Not that you would know about it if you were wedded to the taxpayer-funded broadcaster, Fairfax or the other news services which pander to the group. Yet it was Sea Shepherd Ltd, whose Australian arm is chaired by former Greens leader Bob Brown, which was found guilty of pouring up to 500 litres of diesel into the Trinity Inlet, the mangrove-lined estuary which serves as the port to the city of Cairns, and fined $15,000 last month for marine pollution.

Another case of do what I say, not what I do, for the global green movement. According to court records, Sea Shepherd’s ship New Atlantis pumped diesel fuel into the harbour as the ship was moored alongside the Cairns wharf on October 13, 2012.

It was claimed that a crew member failed to manually flick the “low level” switch during a fuel transfer, despite being aware the switch was faulty.

The court was told Sea Shepherd Australia, which had only recently taken possession of the ship and brought it from Japan a week earlier, had yet to translate signage and manuals or repair the switch.

Crew members had been given basic handover information but the chief engineer had to work out the ship’s systems “by his own devices” due to instruction manuals and other materials all being in Japanese.

All crew members were volunteers and were either German, Dutch or American. Fortunately, a member of the public noticed diesel flowing into the sea and after unsuccessfully attempting to alert crew members notified the master of a ship moored alongside who boarded the New Atlantis and notified its crew.

“She noticed a strong smell of diesel fuel and saw liquid running from the New Atlantis into the water,” the court document read.

“The smell was so strong the passer-by had to put a jumper over her nose ...”

Magistrate Kevin Priestly called the amount “not insignificant” and questioned why a crewmen carried out the fuel transfer and not the chief engineer. No conviction was recorded against Sea Shepherd and the group was given six months to pay.

While Sea Shepherd’s polluting activities were not reported by some, every accusatory claim made by the Greens about the development of the deep water Abbot Point harbour has been unquestioningly repeated, even though they have been baseless



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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11 July, 2014

Warmer Climate Could Mean More Kidney Stones?

Crap!  The underlying journal article is Daily Mean Temperature and Clinical Kidney Stone Presentation in Five U.S. Metropolitan Areas: A Time-Series Analysis.  The findings are correlational ones so do not enable inferences about causes.  And the elevation of risk associated with temperature was very slight anyway.  Relative risks were around 1.3.  The Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition says (p. 384): "the threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual's disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0."

The consequences of global warming and climate change isn’t just limited to the decline in population of endangered species. A new study has now linked warmer climate to an increased risk of kidney stones among the individuals residing in the area.
Rising temperatures, it is believed, may be linked to an increase in the number of people who fall prey to kidney stones and other painful urinary tract obstructions.

“These findings point to potential public health effects associated with global climate change,” study leader Dr. Gregory Tasian, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, explained.

The researchers examined medical records of over 60,000 patients who were diagnosed with kidney stones between the years 2005 to 2011, and also compared the information so obtained with the daily temperature data. The patients recruited for the study lived in cities with different climates- Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Careful observation revealed that as the annual temperature rose above 50 degrees, the number of individuals affected by kidney stones rose. Also, the number of kidney stone diagnosis rose within three days of rise in temperature.

“Although 11 percent of the U.S. population has had kidney stones, most people have not,” Tasian added. However, he believes that “it is likely that higher temperatures increase the risk of kidney stones in those people predisposed to stone formation.”
While the exact reason behind this strange relation is not very well understood, researchers believe that warmer temperatures contribute to dehydration, which in turn, cause calcium and other minerals to deposit in the urine, which can spur kidney stone formation.

“Kidney stone prevalence has already been on the rise over the last 30 years, and we can expect this trend to continue, both in greater numbers and over a broader geographic area, as daily temperatures increase,” Tasian concluded.

The results from this study are now published in the journal Environmental Health.


Power grab: EPA wants to garnish wages of polluters

Accused violators of pollution laws would have little recourse

The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and threatening individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules. In one case, the agency has threatened fines of up to $75,000 per day on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property.

“The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said when he learned of the EPA’s wage garnishment scheme.

Others questioned why the EPA decided to strengthen its collection muscle at this time.

Critics said the threat of garnishing wages would be a powerful incentive for people to agree to expensive settlements rather than fight EPA charges.

EPA officials did not respond to repeated questions by The Washington Times about why they thought it was necessary to garnish people’s wages.

The EPA announced the plan last week in a notice in the Federal Register, saying federal law allows it “to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.”

The agency cited authority under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 that centralized federal collection operations under the Treasury Department, which oversees garnishments of wages or tax refund checks.

Under the law, every federal agency has the authority to conduct administrative wage garnishment, provided the agency adopts approved rules for conducting hearings where debtors can challenge the amount of debt or terms of repayment schedule, a Treasury official said.

Still, the rule would give the EPA sweeping authority to dictate how and whether Americans could dispute fines and penalties, even as the amount of EPA fines collected from individuals, businesses and local governments steadily increase.

The amount of fines raked in by the agency has jumped from $96 million in 2009 to $252 million in 2012, a more than 160 percent increase, according to EPA annual reports.

Putting the collection powers on a fast track, the agency announced it in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would take effect automatically Sept. 2, unless the EPA receives adverse public comments by Aug. 1.

The EPA said it deemed the action as not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore not subject to review.

The negative reactions began almost immediately.

In a comment letter submitted to the EPA, the conservative Heritage Foundation faulted the rule for giving the government “unbridled discretion” in controlling the process for challenging fines and wage garnishment, such as dictating the site of a hearing without consideration of the time and travel expense placed on the accused debtor.

The rule allows the EPA to decide whether a debtor gets a chance to present a defense and then picks whomever it chooses to serve as a hearing officer, even someone not trained as an administrative law judge, wrote David S. Addington, group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation.

It also puts the burden of proof on the debtor, not the EPA, he said.

The EPA has been on the front lines of the battle over Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, including issuing proposed rules that would require coal-fired power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent over 15 years.

Critics say it will cause massive increases in the cost of electricity, lead to power shortages and eliminate jobs, while making scant impact on the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted worldwide.

The agency has been a magnet for criticism over new rules on things such as wood-burning stoves and small streams or ponds on private land, including waterways on farms and golf courses.


The EPA’s New Water Rule Leaves the Economy High and Dry

When the Clean Water Act was first conceived, the EPA could only restrict entrepreneurs when they attempted to pollute bodies of water that were used by their fellow businesses, or what the EPA calls ‘navigable waters.’ However, its original mission is far too modest for modern-day bureaucrats.

In March the EPA unveiled their proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule. If finalized, this rule would expand the federal government’s regulatory authority over millions of acres of wetlands and millions of miles of streams. It would place virtually all bodies of water, no matter how small their size or impact on commerce, under EPA authority.

Thankfully, legislators are taking action against this agency’s extraordinary power grab. Last week, 31 senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, introduced The Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, a bill that would prevent the EPA from expanding their authority under the CWA.

In the words of Senator Cruz, “The EPA is following in the footsteps of our lawless President. The EPA's unilateral expansion of the Clean Water Act to include regulation of puddles and temporarily flooded areas is an abuse of power that would allow the EPA to march into the backyards of many Americans. Congress must exercise its power to strictly define what the EPA may do under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation's landowners, farmers, and homeowners from undue harassment by the EPA."

In the House of Representatives, the Appropriations Committee approved a bill on June 18 that would fund the Army Corps of Engineers, but with a provision that bars the agency from enforcing the Waters of the US rule, a move in the right direction.

The way the agency justified this exponential expansion of their powers over bodies of water traditionally regulated by states and localities was by making the case that all bodies of water in one way or another flow into these larger navigable waters. In a study published last September, the EPA made the case that because all bodies of water have a connection to one another, pollution in a single stream could flow to the rest. Coincidentally, this study was released to the public the very same day that they proposed the rule.

If the EPA were to expand its authority over even more of America’s waters, its damaging effect on the economy would only grow. A business or property owner who simply wishes to move soil from one area of a body of water to another must apply for a permit, since this movement is considered to be polluting. The average permit can cost upwards of $271,000 and take 788 days to be processed which leads to private companies and municipalities annually being forced to pay $1.7 billion to the EPA for the right to develop or build over bodies of water. And if a developer fails to secure the proper permits, $37,500 in fines can be incurred every day for unlawfully developing a stream or wetland.

This is not the first time that the EPA has overreached in its authority. In 1986 the agency claimed that any body of water that a migratory bird landed in was under its jurisdiction. Its blatant and repeated abuse of its authority was checked first in 2001 and again in 2006 when the Supreme Court ruled in Rapanos v. The United States that the EPA could not block a developer from filling in a wetland in order to build a mall even though it was connected by a stream to a larger body of water. As Justice Kennedy wrote in his decision, the EPA must prove that a “significant nexus (connection)” exists between the body of water the agency claims jurisdiction over and navigable waters. So rather than accept the court’s decision, the EPA concocted a study last year that claims that all bodies of water have a significant connection to navigable waters, and thus should be under its authority.

At a time when it is still unclear if the country is on the road to economic recovery, we can’t afford additional burdensome regulations that inhibit entrepreneurs and farmers from working and investing on their own property.


Bast: If There’s No Global Warming, There’s No Climate Change Problem

  With satellite data showing no global warming for 17 years and 10 months, and even the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledging a “pause” in rising temperatures, it’s time to stop talking about a climate change problem, says Joe Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Foundation.

"Global warming is still at the heart of climate change. All the climate changes are attributable to the increase in temperature in the climate, so even if they might want to talk about sea level rise and heat being stored in the lower ocean and all these indirect climate effects, the engine for that, the cause of all that is global warming,” Bast told

“And if there is no global warming, or if it’s paused, or if it’s less than what they thought, or if the human impact is less than they thought, then that whole paradigm collapses. Whether you call it climate change or global warming, if there’s no warming going on, it’s not a problem.”

“I would say two years ago, we could have concluded that,” Bast added. “NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said 15 years was the cut-off date in an influential [2008] report…. But even the alarmists said that if there was no warming for 15 years, that that would invalidate the models that they were using. So it’s rare that the other side puts a date on something like that, but they did it this time, and I think we ought to hold them to it.”

Noting that the behavior of prominent climate change scientists is “characteristic of a movement that’s about to crash,” Bast pointed out that the “alarmists” invited to debate the “skeptics” at Heartland’s 9th Annual Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas this week declined to defend their contention that the Earth is facing catastrophic warming and that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are to blame.

“We invited scores of scientists who are on the alarmist side of this debate to attend and present their ideas,” Bast told “In the past, we’ve had one or two willing to do that, and they’ve always been treated with great politeness and allowed to debate. But none of them this time agreed to take us up on our offer.”

“Why do you think that is?” asked Bast.

“I think they’re afraid to debate. They’re just afraid,” he replied. “They know in front of an audience of their peers that they will lose.”

On June 25, President Obama mocked those who challenge the theory that man-made global warming is causing catastrophic climate change, telling the League of Conservation Voters that it is a fact despite 17-plus years of evidence to the contrary.

"You can ignore the facts; you can't deny the facts," the president said.

But Bast criticized the Obama administration for doing just that by promulgating energy policies based on flawed computer models’ predictions of global warming, which actual temperature data have since proven to be wrong.

“I don’t think this administration’s policies are based on science at all, which is why they just ignore every report and every scientist who says they’re wrong on this,” Bast told

He also criticized Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) for claiming that “97 percent of scientists agree that [carbon dioxide] is leading to dangerous climate change that is affecting our families” at a June 18 hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee.

“The scientific community is deeply divided on some of the underlying science issues, like whether or not models can forecast future climate, and what the trade-offs, the feedbacks are in the environment, so there’s just tremendous uncertainty,” Bast said.

“This is one of the big unsolved scientific issues of our day, and for politicians to be saying 97 percent of all scientists agree on this is absurd.”

“Frankly, the science doesn’t matter to President Obama or to any of those Democratic senators. They’ve decided that they want to wage a war on fossil fuels, they’ve decided that they want to subsidize and promote a new energy industry, renewables, and global warming is just a handy excuse, or smoke and mirrors, that they can use to sell this agenda," Bast told

Asked whether most Americans are aware that the Earth has not warmed for close to 18 years, he replied:

“I think the people who are paying attention have figured this out. The American people see prominent left-wing politicians talking about this issue and the more they talk about it, the more the public understands that this is a political issue, not a science debate.”

Now that actual temperature data has confirmed the skeptics’ view that carbon dioxide is not causing catastrophic global warming, Bast says it’s time to move on, especially since billions of dollars have already been spent trying to stop a non-existent threat.

“I think the other side is just going to double down on ad hominen attacks and outrageous lies, like the 97 percent consensus and claims about the weather. They’re going to try to keep the focus away from what the real issue now should be,” he said.

“Going forward, the issue is: what do we do legislatively?  How should public policy be changed, now that we know global warming is not a crisis, now that we know the costs of trying to reduce emissions are enormous and would cause lots of negative consequences?”

“I would love to have that debate,” Bast continued. “We tried to start that debate a good 10, 15 years ago and people were so concerned about the science that they didn’t want to discuss how much it would cost to try to stop this thing. Now that the science has been thrown out, we need to be having a debate about what we should be doing.

“And that debate, I think, logically leads to we should start getting rid of all the subsidies to wind and solar and ethanol, we should start looking at ways of adapting to climate change regardless of whether it’s natural or man-made, and probably encourage innovation, both in the energy sector and manufacturing, because that’s where we have win-win solutions."

Meanwhile, he pointed out, more and more scientists are quietly backing away from their prior claims that the Earth has a “fever,” as former vice-president Al Gore once put it.

“I think the IPCC in its last report kind of hit a dead end, and some very prominent folks are saying that. The editors of Nature editorialized that this should be the last report from the IPCC,” Bast said, characterizing the reports as “massive compilations of obsolete research” trying to prove “a broken paradigm.”

“Now the folks at Nature are still committed alarmists, although I think they’re walking that back, admitting that it’s more complicated, or that it might take longer, or that reducing emissions might not be the way to try to respond to the possible problems,” he said.

Even groups that have been “sitting on the sidelines, not willing to challenge the science,” are now speaking out publicly, he added, noting that the Heartland Institute has done so since its founding in Chicago in 1984.

“We took a lot of bullets, a lot of arrows for doing that,” Bast said. “But it’s great. I love the company.”


Missouri Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Halt All EPA Regulations

For one Missouri lawmaker, fighting individual Environmental Protection Agency regulations — like the recent rule on carbon emissions from power plants — isn’t enough.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would halt all EPA rules that are currently in the works and prompt a review of all previous EPA regulations. H.R. 5034, titled the Stop the EPA Act, would also require Congress to approve all previous and new regulations that cost $50 million or more. Under the bill, any that aren’t approved by Congress won’t become law.

“My legislation will give the American people a voice in the regulator’s room when the President and the EPA try and go around Congress,” Graves said in a statement. “EPA aggression has reached an all-time high, and now it must be stopped.”

Graves’ legislation was prompted by the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” proposal, which aims to clarify what streams and rivers are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, under the Clean Water Act. It’s also aimed at the EPA’s new rule on carbon emissions from power plants, a proposal that multiple other lawmakers have attempted to undermine or overturn in recent months. House Republicans introduced an EPA funding bill this week that would block the agency’s new power plant rule, and nine states have signed on to coal company Murray Energy’s lawsuit against the agency, claiming that the new rule constitutes EPA overreach.

The EPA has long been the target of attacks from industry and lawmakers, however.

“The Obama EPA has waged an all-out War on Coal, promulgating a series of rules and regulations seeking to eliminate the United States coal industry, and the very good jobs, and low cost electricity, which it provides,” Murray Energy said in a release after filing its lawsuit against the EPA. “Indeed, the lives and livelihoods of entire families in many regions of America are being destroyed.”


Super pollutants

Joe Romm ups the ante below.  CO2 causes only 60% of warming, he says.  We have to fight the 40% caused by "super pollutants" too

Some confusion has been generated on this issue by a Tuesday New York Times piece, “Picking Lesser of Two Climate Evils,” which frames our optimum climate strategy as a choice between targeting CO2 and targeting super pollutants like methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon, that together cause some 40% of the warming we’re experiencing now.

But that is a “false choice,” as longtime NASA climate scientist Drew Shindell explained to me. We have to do both to maximize lives saved and minimize the chances of dangerous warming. That’s a point Climate Progress has made consistently.

The New York Times piece builds off an analysis by climatologist Raymond Pierrehumbert on “Short-Lived Climate Pollution” (SLCP). He concludes that an “implementation of SLCP mitigation that substitutes to any significant extent for carbon dioxide mitigation will lead to a climate irreversibly warmer than will a strategy with delayed SLCP mitigation. SLCP mitigation does not buy time for implementation of stringent controls on CO2 emissions.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


10 July, 2014

High quality NOAA Data Show U.S. in Decade-Long Cooling

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s most accurate, up-to-date temperature data confirm the United States has been cooling for at least the past decade. The NOAA temperature data are driving a stake through the heart of alarmists claiming accelerating global warming.

Responding to widespread criticism that its temperature station readings were corrupted by poor siting issues and suspect adjustments, NOAA established a network of 114 pristinely sited temperature stations spread out fairly uniformly throughout the United States. Because the network, known as the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), is so uniformly and pristinely situated, the temperature data require no adjustments to provide an accurate nationwide temperature record. USCRN began compiling temperature data in January 2005. Now, nearly a decade later, NOAA has finally made the USCRN temperature readings available.

According to the USCRN temperature readings, U.S. temperatures are not rising at all – at least not since the network became operational 10 years ago. Instead, the United States has cooled by approximately 0.4 degrees Celsius, which is more than half of the claimed global warming of the twentieth century.

Of course, 10 years is hardly enough to establish a long-term trend. Nevertheless, the 10-year cooling period does present some interesting facts.

First, global warming is not so dramatic and uniform as alarmists claim. For example, prominent alarmist James Hansen claimed in 2010, “Global warming on decadal time scales is continuing without letup … effectively illustrat[ing] the monotonic and substantial warming that is occurring on decadal time scales.” The word “monotonic” means, according to Merriam-Webster Online, “having the property either of never increasing or of never decreasing as the values of the independent variable or the subscripts of the terms increase.” Well, either temperatures are decreasing by 0.4 degrees Celsius every decade or they are not monotonic.

Second, for those who may point out U.S. temperatures do not equate to global temperatures, the USCRN data are entirely consistent with – and indeed lend additional evidentiary support for – the global warming stagnation of the past 17-plus years. While objective temperature data show there has been no global warming since sometime last century, the USCRN data confirm this ongoing stagnation in the United States, also.

Third, the USCRN data debunk claims that rising U.S. temperatures caused wildfires, droughts, or other extreme weather events during the past year. The objective data show droughts, wildfires, and other extreme weather events have become less frequent and severe in recent decades as our planet modestly warms. But even ignoring such objective data, it is difficult to claim global warming is causing recent U.S. droughts and wildfires when U.S. temperatures are a full 0.4 degrees Celsius colder than they were in 2005.

Even more importantly than the facts above, the USCRN provides the promise of reliable nationwide temperature data for years to come. No longer will global warming alarmists be able to hide behind thinly veiled excuses to doctor the U.S. temperature record. Now, thanks to the USCRN, the data are what the data are.

Expect global warming alarmists, now and for the foreseeable future, to howl in desperation claiming the USCRN temperature data are irrelevant.

Of course, to global warming alarmists, all real-world data are irrelevant.


Less than Half of Americans Say Humans Causing Global Warming

A newly released poll by the Pew Research Center reveals a majority of Americans believe either there is no solid evidence of recent global warming or recent global warming is caused by nature rather than human activity. According to the poll, merely 40 percent of Americans believe there is solid evidence of recent global warming and such warming is caused primarily by humans.

Looking more closely at the numbers, 61 percent say there is solid evidence the Earth is warming while 35 percent say there is no such solid evidence. Within the 61 percent saying there is solid evidence of warming, 40 percent say humans are likely the cause, while 18 percent say nature is the cause and 3 percent are unsure.

According to Pew, political liberals constitute the only group saying global warming is occurring and humans are the primary cause. The poll’s results show those same political liberals believe by overwhelming margins that politicians should “do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”

The same poll shows Americans support building the Keystone XL pipeline by a margin of 61 percent to 27 percent.


Salvation and Conservation, or Ruination and Confiscation?

“I’ve preserved more than 3 million acres of public lands for future generations, and I am not finished,” President Obama proudly declared before signing a proclamation newly designating the 500,000-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico in mid-May. “I’m searching for more opportunities to preserve federal lands where communities are speaking up, because wherever I see an opening to get things done for the American people, I’m going to take it.”

In the perfect centrally-planned fantasy world inhabited by Obama and his fellow Big-Government progressives, politicized and top-down bureaucratic control really is the smartest and most effective means for ensuring proficient environmental stewardship and preserving our natural heritage for future generations.

But back here in the real world, Big Government simply isn’t getting the job done.

Passed at the height of the progressive movement in 1905, the Antiquities Act empowers the executive to unilaterally declare public landmarks and assign the federal government with the seemingly simple and innocuous task of environmental preservation.

Back in March, the president used the act to designate more than 1,600 acres along the Northern California coast as the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. And in March of last year, he used the act to “protect” more than 240,000 acres as the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, also in New Mexico. And all of this despite the fact that the National Park Service (which only directly manages about 15 percent of all federal lands) already has an estimated deferred maintenance backlog of at least $12 billion.

Deferred maintenance projects include repairs for roads, bridges, hiking trails, sewer systems, and pollution controls which go unaddressed while the fate of our national parks and natural resources are often left to await the mercy of political and fiscal decisions in Washington, D.C.

The federal government already owns almost a third of the entire surface area of the United States, but is constantly in a position to acquire more through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a funding mechanism derived mostly from offshore oil and gas leases and used as a means for the federal government to grab more land without having to also provide for the funds to steward its existing lands. Obama’s 2014 budget asked that Congress fully fund the LWCF to the tune of $900 million, never mind that it is egregiously irresponsible for the federal government to be in the business of growing the federal estate when it cannot even properly manage the land that it already owns.

It can be quite politically difficult for opponents to argue against any executive action that gets to use something as apparently innocuous as environmental conservation as its ostensible mission statement, and don’t progressive environmentalist know it!

For decades, litigious environmentalist groups have used the growing reams of regulations governing the federal estate to go to court to steer public-land management and policy decisions in the direction that they prefer. That direction reliably means pushing land-use policies away from the sort of dynamism and innovation that allows for diversified, productive uses like cattle grazing, timber harvesting, energy development, and even recreation, and usually toward shutting off entire areas from human use on the supposed behalf of the desert tortoise or the sage grouse or some other almost-approaching- endangered species.

Clinton-era U.S. Forest Service chief Jack Ward Thomas once noted that court battles have tied the agency into a

“Gordian knot” that creates a “vicious cycle of increasing costs, time delays, and inability to carry out management actions.” As a result, the Forest Service is severely limited in their forest- thinning and other fire-suppression activities. This has led to catastrophic wildfires that have ravaged the arid West.

Instead of bringing still more lands under the inept umbrella of top-down management, the federal government needs to start selling off federal lands, both for the sake of the environment and the budget (and if that seems a bridge too far for too many, then the Obama administration can at least open up the federal estate to innovative, more free-market techniques like commercial leasing or public-private park partnerships that can actually generate revenue and court management decision from the people on-the-ground with the most complete knowledge).

Big-Government-loving environmentalist types are all too happy to accept on faith that the federal government is the best possible steward of environmental quality across the American landscape, rather than the hotbed of inefficiency, incompetence, and increasing costliness that ruins ecosystems, restricts access, dampers rural economies, and runs up the national deficit that it actually is



The corporation now seems to take its orders from the green lobby and is generating alarm over the environment

The BBC’s behaviour grows ever more bizarre. Committed by charter to balanced reporting, it has now decided formally that it was wrong to allow balance in a debate between rival guesses about the future. In rebuking itself for having had the gall to interview Nigel Lawson on the Today programme about climate change earlier this year, it issued a statement containing this gem: “Lord Lawson’s views are not supported by the evidence from computer modelling and scientific research.”

The evidence from computer modelling? The phrase is an oxymoron. A model cannot, by definition, provide evidence: it can provide a prediction to test against real evidence. In the debate in question, Lord Lawson said two things: it was not possible to attribute last winter’s heavy rain to climate change with any certainty, and the global surface temperature has not warmed in the past 15 to 17 years. He was right about both, as his debate opponent, Sir Brian Hoskins, confirmed.

As for the models, here is what Dr Vicky Pope of the Met Office said in 2007 about what their models predicted: “By 2014, we’re predicting that we’ll be 0.3 degrees warmer than 2004. Now just to put that into context, the warming over the past century and a half has only been 0.7 degrees, globally . . . So 0.3 degrees, over the next ten years, is pretty significant . . . These are very strong statements about what will happen over the next ten years.”

In fact, global surface temperature, far from accelerating upwards, has cooled slightly in the ten years since 2004 on most measures. The Met Office model was out by a country mile. But the BBC thinks that it was wrong even to allow somebody to challenge the models, even somebody who has written a bestselling book on climate policy, held one of the highest offices of state and founded a think-tank devoted to climate change policy. The BBC regrets even staging a live debate between him and somebody who disagrees with him, in which he was robustly challenged by the excellent Justin Webb (of these pages).

And why, pray, does the BBC think this? Because it had a complaint from a man it coyly describes as a “low-energy expert”, Mr Chit Chong, who accused Lord Lawson of saying on the programme that climate change was “all a conspiracy”.

Lawson said nothing of the kind, as a transcript shows. Mr Chong’s own curriculum vitae boasts that he “has been active in the Green party for 25 years and was the first Green councillor to be elected in London”, and that he “has a draught-proofing and insulation business in Dorset and also works as an environmental consultant”.

So let’s recap. On the inaccurate word of an activist politician with a vested financial and party interest, the BBC has decided that henceforth nobody must be allowed to criticise predictions of the future on which costly policies are based. No more appearances for Ed Balls, then, because George Osborne’s models must go unchallenged.

By the way, don’t bother to write and tell me that Lord Lawson is not a scientist. The BBC also rebuked itself last week for allowing an earth scientist with dissenting views on to Radio 4. Professor Bob Carter was head of the department of earth sciences at James Cook University in Australia for 17 years. He’s published more than 100 papers mainly in the field of paleoclimatology. So bang goes that theory.

The background to this is that the BBC recently spent five years fighting a pensioner named Tony Newbery, including four days in court with six lawyers, to prevent Mr Newbery seeing the list of 28 participants at a BBC seminar in 2006 of what it called “the best scientific experts” on climate change.

This was the seminar that persuaded the BBC it should no longer be balanced in its coverage of climate change. A blogger named Maurizio Morabito then found the list on the internet anyway. Far from consisting of the “best scientific experts” it included just three scientists, the rest being green activists, with a smattering of Dave Spart types from the church, the government and the insurance industry.

Following that debacle, the BBC commissioned a report from a geneticist, Steve Jones, which it revisited in a further report to the BBC Trust last week. The Jones report justified a policy of banning sceptics under the term “false balance”. This takes the entirely sensible proposition that reporters do not have to, say, interview a member of the Flat Earth Society every time they mention a round-the-world yacht race, and stretches it to the climate debate.

Which is barmy for two blindingly obvious reasons: first, the UN’s own climate projections contain a range of outcomes from harmless to catastrophic, so there is clearly room for debate; and second, this is an argument about the future not the present, and you cannot have certainty about the future.

The BBC bends over backwards to give air time to minority campaigners on matters such as fracking, genetically modified crops, and alternative medicine. Biologists who thinks GM crops are dangerous, doctors who thinks homeopathy works and engineers who think fracking has contaminated aquifers are far rarer than climate sceptics. Yet Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth spokesmen are seldom out of Broadcasting House.

So the real reason for the BBC’s double standard becomes clear: dissent in the direction of more alarm is always encouraged; dissent in the direction of less alarm is to be suppressed.

I sense that some presenters are growing irritated by their bosses’ willingness to take orders from the green movement.


Liberal Mega-Donor Wants to ‘Penalize People’ Who Add to ‘Climate Risk’

Speaking in New York City last week, Wall Street billionaire Tom Steyer outlined his vision for penalizing people whose actions may contribute to climate change.

“We need to reward people whose behavior reduces climate risk and penalize people who add to it,” Steyer said. “If we can get this right, I think there’s no doubt that our economy is going to continue to do very well.”

Steyer’s comments came at an event with several wealthy businessmen—such as former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former bankers and government officials Hank Paulson and Robert Reich—to unveil a report from Risky Business, an economic analysis of the financial impact to be caused by climate change.

Deemed the “liberal answer to the Koch Brothers,” Steyer is one of the richest businessman in America and played a key part in raising millions of dollars to elect President Obama in 2008 once Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination.

Steyer met with Obama this week to discuss what the White House could do to tackle climate change, and the “insurance industry’s role in helping American communities prepare for extreme weather and other impacts of climate change,” according to Reuters.

That points to a plan to allow insurance companies to begin assessing for “climate risk” in certain industries, a more market-focused approach to discourage industries from emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Some of the people who may be “penalized” for adding to climate risks, however, are workers in plants and factories all over the rust belt of the United States. Although they recognize the need to mitigate the effects of climate change, some believe this shouldn’t come to the detriment of industries and traditional blue-collar workers.

“It is a fact that global warming threatens our planet. Scientists are as certain of this as they are of the dangers of smoking or riding in a car without a seatbelt,” said Tony Montana, spokesman for the local United Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh. “Declaring ‘war’ on entire industries, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, however, is not the answer. These industries created and supported a way of life for workers and their communities for generations.”

If the idea of penalizing carbon emitters eventually makes it to the political process, Steyer has assured he will have allies in the fight.

NextGen Climate Action, a multi-million dollar political action committee funded by Steyer, has already beefed up the Democratic Senate Majority PAC with more than $5 million in hopes of guaranteeing the issue of climate change remains a political issue in many key states. Key union groups have similarly received funding by Steyer.


More taxpayer dollars for green energy?

There is an intentional tension in Washington. Our founding fathers planned that opposing views would balance each other out — a push-pull takes place. Spend. Don’t spend.

This tug-of-war is seen, perhaps most obviously, in the so-called renewable energy field. After Solyndra, and the more than fifty other stimulus-funded green energy projects that have failed or are circling the drain, the public has grown weary, and wary, of any more spending on green energy. The money isn’t there to spend and the motive behind the 2009 rush to push billions of taxpayer dollars out through the Department of Energy has been tainted by corruption and illegal activity.

The green-energy emphasis was sold as a job creator for unemployed Americans, as a cure for global warming, and a way to slow a perceived energy shortage. It sounded so positive in the many speeches President Obama gave as a sales pitch to the American public.

Today, Americans know better.

They knew about Solyndra — which took millions and then folded. Thanks, in large part to my exposé, many now know about Abengoa and the Solana solar project—which took billions of tax-payer dollars and is now functioning and producing electricity but does so by breaking immigration and labor laws, giving foreigners hiring preference, and stiffing American suppliers.

Watching multiple predictions fail and proponents get rich, Americans instinctively know that the whole global warming agenda doesn’t add up — as evidenced by this week’s International Conference on Climate Change where more than 600 “skeptics” from around the world gather to discuss real science and policy.

With headlines heralding: “North Dakota has joined the ranks of the few places in the world that produce more than a million barrels of oil per day,” people know there isn’t an energy shortage. And America’s new energy abundance is on top of our rich reserves of coal and uranium that can provide for our electrical needs for centuries to come.

Yet, the White House keeps pushing the green-energy narrative and, on July 3, 2014, “The Energy Department Just Announced $4 Billion For Projects That Fight Global Warming,” as the headline reads at

Wind Energy and the Production Tax Credit

Simmering just below the headlines is the push-pull over the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Wind energy that expired at the end of 2013.

A recent study from the Institute for Energy Research (IER) that examined the state-by-state burden of the PTC, called the PTC “an amazing subsidy” because it can “effectively give a utility a bigger subsidy than the actual market price. It would be as if Uncle Sam allowed car dealers to knock off $60,000 from their tax bill for every $50,000 car they sold. Indeed, the PTC is so generous that it can result in negative wholesale electricity prices.” The “Sharing the Burden of the Wind PTC” report shows which states benefit most from the federal subsidy and which lose—with Texas being the biggest winner having received $394 million in the form of PTC credits.

Texans might be elated at their good fortune, however the IER study points out that individual consumers “still lose from the existence of the wind subsidies.” It states: “it’s not as if the IRS takes the population of Texas and divides $394 million among them, evenly. Rather, the wind subsidies are concentrated in the hands of a small group of wind producers.” As a result, wind serves as a tax shelter for large corporations.

On June 26, wind energy proponents — including pages of signatories who benefit financially from the tax credit — sent a letter to the top Congressional leaders urging them to “support the immediate passage of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.”

On the other side, citizens, like Mary Kay Barton of New York, are sending their elected federal representatives letters asking them not to support a PTC extension as proposed in EXPIRE. She sent a letter to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and he sent one back to her.

Schumer opens: “Thank you for writing to express your opposition to tax credits, and subsidies for alternative energy. I share your opposition to unsuccessful and unnecessary subsides.”

He then goes into a long paragraph about his effort to put an “end to subsidies for huge oil companies” and brags about being a “cosponsor of S.940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would roll back huge subsidies and tax credit for large oil companies.” Green energy supporters, such as Schumer, like to mix the terms “subsidies” and “tax credits” with “tax deductions” — when they are completely different. A subsidy, or loan guarantee, and tax credit involves taxpayer dollars being doled out—or taxes not collected — to incentivize a favored activity. This is not how America’s oil-and-gas producers are treated. They do, however, receive tax deductions — like any other business — that allow them to write of losses and the cost of doing business against income. Additionally, as the New York Times, in a story about corporate tax rates, reported last year: “Large oil companies typically pay high rates.”  It shows that the average tax rate among companies is roughly 29 percent, while “large oil companies” are paying 37 percent and utility companies that “benefited from the 2009 stimulus bill, which included tax breaks,” have an “overall” rate of 12 percent.

In response to Barton’s letter about ending the PTC for industrial wind, Schumer continues: “I believe that it is necessary to balance our country’s increasing energy needs with the need to protect the environment. We must also focus on renewable energy and energy conservation in order to meet our growing energy demands. According to one study, if the U.S. increases its efficiency by 2.2 percent per year, it could reduce foreign oil imports by more than 50 percent. Such actions would not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil but would also safeguard the environment.”

Barton told me: “You’ll note that Senator Schumer still seems to think that subsidies for wind energy (electricity) will somehow ‘reduce foreign imports,’ and then references increasing ‘efficiency’ in response to a letter about inefficient, unreliable wind?” She’s picked up on one of my favorite soapboxes: we could cover every available acre with wind turbines and solar panels and it would do nothing to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” or increase America’s energy independence. Wind and solar produce electricity and, through our coal, natural gas, and uranium supplies, we are already electricity independent. We import oil to fuel our transportation fleet.

As the fight over the PTC points out, wind energy cannot survive without the tax credits.

High Cost, Low Benefit

Wind energy is also more expensive than almost all other electricity sources — only solar is higher. A new study from the Brookings Institute on the “best path to a low-carbon future,” assumes that CO2 emissions are causing climate change and therefore must be reduced. It analyzes the costs and benefits of the most common solutions. The study found: “Adding up the net energy cost and the net capacity cost of the five low-carbon alternatives, far and away the most expensive is solar. It costs almost 19 cents more per KWH than power from the coal or gas plants that it displaces. Wind power is the second most expensive. It costs nearly 6 cents more per KWH.” The study puts these additional costs in context: “The average cost of electricity to U.S. consumers in 2012 was 9.84 cents per KWH, including the cost of transmission and distribution of electricity. This means a new wind plant could at least cost 50 percent more per KWH to produce electricity, and a new solar plant at least 200 percent more per KWH, than using coal and gas technologies.” The study concludes: “renewable incentives that are biased in favor of wind and solar and biased against large-scale hydro, nuclear and gas combined cycle are a very expensive and inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

Wind energy proponents cling to the idea that we must reduce fossil fuel use and believe, therefore, that the extra cost is worth it. However, because of the intermittency issues with wind and the reliability demand from the consumer, it requires fully dispatchable back-up power generation. Natural gas is the best form of back up because it can be easily adjusted to produce more or less electricity — however the constant adjustment results in less efficient use and more CO2 emissions.

I like to explain the preference for natural-gas back ups this way. Suppose you are going to cook a hamburger. You can cook it over charcoal or natural gas/propane. To use charcoal, you mound up the charcoal in the grill, soak it in lighter fluid, and toss in a match. You then wait 30 minutes for the coals to get nice and hot. Once hot, you put on your burger and cook it for 5-8 minutes. You remove your burger and leave the coals to die down — which could take several hours. On natural gas/propane, you simply turn it on and light the grill. After giving it 5 minutes to heat up, you toss on your burger. When your burger is cooked, you turn off the grill, and it is cool in minutes.

Natural gas is the preferred back up for wind (and solar) energy because, as in the burger example, its production can more easily be increased and decreased to follow the needed output — even though it operates most efficiently at a consistent level. Coal-fueled electricity generation cannot be simply turned up and down.

By way of answering the question: “Why are the costs of wind and solar so much higher, and the benefits not much different from other low-carbon alternatives?” the Brookings study states: “The benefits of reduced emissions from wind and solar are limited because they operate at peak capacity only a fraction of the time.”

It’s Not Just About the Money

If cost issues weren’t enough to make you a wind energy opponent, think of the health issues.

In late June, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) took President Obama up on his “so sue me” challenge and filed a lawsuit over his administration’s modification of the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act that now allows wind energy producers a thirty year permit to kill the majestic birds. According to ABC spokesman Bob Johns, “the Obama administration has gone too far with incentives for the wind industry.” The Washington Times quotes Johns: “Since the 1980s, wind turbines have killed an estimated 2,000-3,000 eagles, but the industry has paid only one fine.”

Wind turbines hurt more than birds. On June 16, a Michigan judge agreed with residents who live near the 56-turbine Lake Winds facility and who complained of health problems that began just after the turbines began operating. A lawsuit filed on April 1, 2013 argued that noise, vibrations, and flickering lights emanating from Lake Winds were adversely affecting their health.

Cape Wind

Despite these, and other harmful impacts — which include a loss of property values when wind turbines are installed in a neighborhood — and opposition from environmental groups and local fisherman, the Department of Energy has just approved a stimulus-funded $150 million loan guarantee for the controversial Cape Wind project planned to be built in the Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind, scheduled to begin construction in 2015, will be the first utility-scale wind facility in U.S. waters.

Addressing the loan guarantee announcement, the Boston Globe states: “Now, with a large portion of financing in place, regulatory approvals in hand, and most legal challenges resolved, the project has finally reached a threshold where it is likely to get done.” Validating my earlier point of higher cost, the Globe says the two largest utilities in Massachusetts “agreed to purchase a total of 77.5 percent of the power generated by Cape Wind at a starting price of 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour—well above typical wholesale prices.”

Like other wind energy projects, Cape Wind is dependent on the PTC extension. It is time for everyone who opposes government intervention in markets to contact his or her representatives — as Mary Kay Barton did — and voice opposition to the PTC extension. Call and say: “Stop supporting wind energy. It is an inefficient system that leads to perverse outcomes. The massive expansion of wind energy that we’ve seen in the past six years would not survive on a level playing field.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


9 July, 2014

Climate Science Paper Censored By American Meteorological Society Journal

Research that questioned the accuracy of computer models used to predict global warming was “censored” by climate scientists, it was alleged yesterday.

One academic reviewer said that a section should not be published because it “would lead to unnecessary confusion in the climate science community”. Another wrote: “This entire discussion has to disappear.”

The paper suggested that the computer models used by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were flawed, resulting in human influence on the climate being exaggerated and the impact of natural variability being underplayed.

The findings could have profound implications. If correct, they could mean that greenhouse gases have less impact than the IPCC has predicted and that the risk of catastrophic global warming has been overstated.

However, the questions raised about the models were deleted from the paper before it was published in 2010 in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. The paper had been submitted in July 2009, when many climate scientists were urging world leaders to agree a global deal on cutting emissions at the Copenhagen climate change summit in December that year.

Vladimir Semenov, a climate scientist at the Geomar institute in Kiel, Germany, said the questions he and six others had posed in the original version of the paper were valid and removing them was “a kind of censorship”.

He decided to speak out after seeing a former colleague, Professor Lennart Bengtsson, vilified for questioning the IPCC’s predictions on global warming.

Professor Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading, resigned from the advisory board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lord Lawson of Blaby’s climate sceptic think-tank, in May after being subjected to what he described as McCarthy-style pressure from fellow academics.

Dr Semenov said some seemed to be trying to suppress suggestions that the climate was less sensitive to rising emissions than the IPCC had claimed.

“If you say there are some indications that the sensitivity is wrong, this breaks the stone on which the whole building is standing,” he said. “People may doubt the whole results.”

Dr Semenov said the reviewers who objected to the questions were technically correct because they “were not explicitly based on our results”. However, he said: “We had a right to discuss it . . . If your opinion is outside the broad consensus then you have more problems with publishing your results.”

A third reviewer was much more supportive of the paper, saying its “very provocative” suggestion that climate models were flawed was “so interesting that it needs to be discussed more fully”.

However, almost the entire paragraph was deleted, along with the conclusion that “the average sensitivity of the IPCC models may be too high”.

The journal chose to publish only the opening sentence: “We would like to emphasise that this study does not question the existence of a long-term anthropogenic warming trend during the 20th century.”

A spokesman for the American Meteorological Society said: “It is a natural part of the review process for the author to be asked to make changes, edits, and rewrites . . . The changes that are made in response to the peer review ensure that the research results are as accurate as possible.”


How Green Activists Were Allowed To Draft Obama’s White House Energy Policy

President Barack Obama’s aggressive and controversial Climate Action Plan grew out of a draft proposal from one of America’s richest environmental activist groups, it emerged Monday.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which spent $41 million of its $210 million nest egg last year pushing for changes in energy policy, circulated a 110-page document in 2012 that outlined what would become the president’s latest salvo in the global-warming wars.

Now that the Obama administration has adopted the green-group’s plan, the NRDC’s insider status is widely seen as an in-your-face response to oil, gas and coal companies that had a seat at the table 13 years ago when then-Vice President Dick Cheney convened meetings in secret to chart future energy policy.

While the Bush administration focused on extracting as much energy out of the ground as legally possible, the current White House’s policy is to erect roadblocks in the path of ‘big coal’ while rewarding alternative energy speculators with loan guarantees and other sources of public funds.

The NRDC’s proposal departed from the green movement’s previous one-size-fits-all approaches, allowing states to determine how to meet stringent carbon-emission targets while drawing them all toward the central goal of squeezing coal-generated electricity to the margins of the U.S. national power picture.

As with the Obamacare law, however, state-based solutions could result in a patchwork quilt of crisscrossing rules that aggravate tensions between businesses and the White House, while opening up the floodgates for a wealth of legal avenues by lawsuit-waving opponents.

Environmental Protection Agency regulators were among a narrow group of stakeholders who got private briefings on the proposal beginning in 2012, and based their eventual written rules on what they heard.

‘Once enacted,’ The New York Times reported on Monday, the new EPA regime ‘could do far more than just shut down coal plants; it could spur a transformation of the nation’s electricity sector.’

Such a wholesale shift is high on the list of NRDC’s priorities, and its three activists who wrote the proposal – and frequently advocate for green policies with government agencies – had all the resources they wanted to pull it off, according to an NRDC insider.

‘This was the most talked-about thing going on inside the organization,’ the veteran D.C. activist told MailOnline. ‘Nothing else we were doing – not pollution control or ESA [Endangered Species Act] work or marine protected areas – nothing had as much juice behind it.’

‘Of course, fundraising was always a trump card, but other than that, the carbon policy team got everything it wanted and pretty much had a blank check.’
The statistical analysis alone coast ‘a few hundred thousand dollars,’ NRDC lawyer David Doniger told the Times.

Doniger wrote the document along with fellow lawyer David Hawkins and Daniel Lashof, an activist described by the Times as a ‘climate scientist.’

Lashof holds a Harvard bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics, and a Berkeley Ph.D. from an ‘Energy and Resources’ program that describes its goal not in research terms but as a policy outcome: ‘a sus­tain­able envi­ron­ment and a just society.’

Before co-authoring what became the Obama White House’s latest climate rules, he helped draft the U.S. Senate’s failed ‘cap and trade’ carbon emissions bill.


Data Deleted From UN Climate Report Highlight Controversies

A chart removed from the IPCC summary but published in Science shows that much of the growth in recent greenhouse gas emissions comes from Asia

When the United Nations' last major climate change report was released in April, it omitted some country-specific emissions data for political reasons, a trio of new papers argue, sounding a warning bell about the global politicization of climate science.

Written by thousands of science, policy, and economics experts from around the world, the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports represent a synthesis of existing climate research knowledge, focusing on the evidence of a warming climate ("virtually certain"), the global impacts, and the ways we might avert its most catastrophic effects. The Summary for Policy-makers draws on the detailed technical report and offers recommendations on cutting carbon emissions and preparing for climate change.

Although the underlying technical material in the IPCC's fifth major report was widely agreed upon and published intact, "heated negotiations among scientific authors and diplomats led to substantial deletion of figures and text from the influential 'Summary for Policy-makers,'" writes Brad Wible, an editor at the journal Science, in the introduction to three papers published Thursday.

Wible notes there is "some fear that this redaction of content marks an overstepping of political interests, raising questions about division of labor between scientists and policy-makers and the need for new strategies in assessing complex science."

On the other hand, some observers have suggested that the policy summaries be even more explicitly co-produced with national governments, says Wible.

This discussion was sparked just days after the publication of the IPCC report in April, when report co-author and Harvard environmental economics professor Robert Stavins released a controversial open letter to the IPCC leadership. Stavins criticized the last-minute intervention by several governments in the approval process of the IPCC report in Berlin and called the resulting policy summary document "a summary by policy-makers, not a summary for them."

"Over the course of the two hours of the contact group deliberations, it became clear that the only way the assembled government representatives would approve text for SPM.5.2 [the Summary for Policy-makers] was essentially to remove all 'controversial' text (that is, text that was uncomfortable for any one individual government), which meant deleting almost 75 percent of the text," Stavins wrote on his blog on April 25.

Scientists vs. Diplomats

Wible points out that the stated intention of the IPCC since it was founded in 1988 has always been to "balance governmental and scientific input."

That mandate is unlikely to change, says David Victor, one of the lead authors of the policy discussion in the April IPCC report and the head writer of one of the papers published Thursday in Science, called "Getting Serious About Categorizing Countries."

"I think in an ideal world there would be a firmer separation between the diplomats and the scientists" when it comes to the IPCC process, says Victor, who is a professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego.

However, Victor adds that he "can't imagine" the national governments from around the world that participate in the IPCC process agreeing to any substantial reforms in that area.

The best that can be hoped for are small changes that streamline the report process, says Victor. "Intergovernmental bodies that require consensus are very bad at handling politically difficult topics," he says. "I don't see a way to fix that problem."

Instead, the public should look more to individual governments and organizations and national climate assessments (such as the one released by the Obama administration May 6) for more concrete action on controversial topics like emissions caps and geoengineering. (See "Climate Report Provides Opportunity for Bridging Political Divide.")

But the second paper in the Science series, "Political Implications of Data Presentation," disagrees. Written by other authors of the last IPCC report, led by Navroz Dubash of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, the paper suggests that what is needed are more and earlier discussions between scientists and policymakers in development of future reports.

"Claiming government overreach and calling for greater insulation of the process come from a misleadingly simple interpretation" that would hinder the effectiveness of IPCC reports in actually influencing policy, Dubash and co-authors write. The fact that governments must approve the policy summary gives it more weight than other technical reports, which is a "process worth preserving."

Victor calls that argument "overly optimistic" and says he doubts earlier conversations between scientists and diplomats would have made a difference. In the 38,000 comments received and evaluated over the IPCC report's development, almost none hinted at the battle over individual country data that erupted in Berlin just days before the document was released, he says.

When governments hold the power to approve the policy document, "they are going to use that power to avoid having anything in the summaries that is politically inconvenient," says Victor.

IPCC co-author Charles Kolstad, a Stanford economist who was not involved with any of the papers released in Science, tells National Geographic that there is a "perception that the main product was the summary for policymakers and that it appeared to be a censored version of what we wrote." Kolstad says it would be better if the public had a clearer distinction of the two sides of the report and says "it would be a mistake to move the policymakers away from the process."

Kolstad adds that it was gratifying "how much the diplomats seemed to care about what was in the IPCC product" and says "remaining relevant is of paramount importance."

Value of Individual Country Data

When the IPCC met in Berlin in April to approve the latest report, representatives from several countries objected to a section in the summary that listed emissions by nation and classified countries according to their economies, says Victor. Those objecting countries included Brazil, China, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia, he says.

Victor and colleagues wrote in Science that growth in a country's income was the strongest correlating factor with emissions. Developed countries continue to produce the highest emissions on a per capita basis, but most of the growth in global emissions over the past few decades has occurred in developing countries.

A chart removed from the IPCC summary but published in Science shows that much of the growth in recent greenhouse gas emissions comes from Asia, with smaller contributions from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Emissions in developed countries have continued to rise, but at a much slower rate.

To Victor, the logical conclusion of this trend is that "developed countries should be doing more to address climate change, but it is also the case that it is not mathematically possible to stabilize the world's climate unless developing countries are involved."

If the IPCC were to classify countries by their economies, it would "set the stage for political discussions" about what each country's responsibility might be, he says.

However, some governments worried that classification "could be disadvantageous in upcoming negotiations for a new international climate regime," IPCC authors Ottmar Edenhofer and Jan Minx write in the third policy paper in Science, called "Mapmakers and Navigators, Facts and Values."

Still, when all country data was stripped out of the policy summary, other useful information was lost, Victor and colleagues argue. For example, without that data it is harder to understand the impact of trade on emissions.

Reaching Consensus?

Although Dubash and colleagues suggest that the IPCC process can be improved with more collaboration between scientists and policymakers, Victor argues that the fundamental international nature of the group makes it unlikely to be able to reach consensus on controversial topics. "The IPCC is an inherently conservative body," says Victor.

Edenhofer and Minx write that "the real challenge is how the IPCC conducts assessments and deals with entanglement of facts and values at the science-policy interface." They suggest that future reports attempt to allow for different perspectives on policy questions and introduce analysis of how past climate policies have worked.

The IPCC has a choice, say Edenhofer and Minx. It can produce more sanitized reports that are even less relevant to policy or attempt to take on policy questions more directly, with a rational approach that acknowledges different viewpoints.

Stanford's Kolstad says he prefers the latter, although he acknowledges that it can be challenging because "any diplomat can veto any sentence." He adds that colleagues at Stanford and Harvard and their European counterparts are planning a workshop in February on how the IPCC might work better, in preparation for the next round of work.

Despite the most recent report's shortcomings, "when the IPCC says something declarative, such as that humans are responsible for most of the changes to the climate we are seeing, that means there is tremendous consensus around that," says Victor.


There's No Place Like Foam

Washington, DC, being the seat of the U.S. Government, has a higher than average tendency to exert legislative control over its citizens. For some reason, the issue of food storage seems to be a particularly high priority, as evidenced by the city's abhorrent 5 cent tax on plastic grocery bags.

In the latest effort to choke off just a little more freedom from DC residents, the government has announced a ban on single-serving styrofoam containers - the kind used for take out food or to hold inexpensive beverages. In a town where busy workers rely heavily on food trucks and where home cooking is a time-consuming luxury few can afford, this is going to be a major blow to the city’s hungry.

The ban is being justified on environmental grounds. Styrofoam is famously durable, not able to be broken down by the ordinary bacteria that helpfully take care of the rest of our waste. This, it has been decided, poses an unacceptable risk to our planet, and must be stopped, without much - if any - consideration for the costs.

When a business makes a decision to use a certain type of product, it is calculated to be in that business’ best interest. This means not only inexpensive, but providing the customer with a value that will keep them coming back for more. There are very good reasons, apart from mere greed, that so many food service businesses rely upon styrofoam rather than alternative materials. As mentioned above, it’s durable. Food doesn’t leak out of it or gradually render it useless, as tends to happen with plain paper containers. It’s lightweight, it doesn’t impart an alien taste to its contents, and yes, it’s cheap. Simply put, it’s ideally adapted to food service.

So what will be the consequences of a ban on this most perfect of containers? Lower quality products for consumers at a higher price. A basic understanding of supply and demand shows that any kind of cost increase on business will be shared between the customer and the business owner, depending on how responsive consumer demand is to price changes. This means that not only will customers be paying higher prices, but business owners will be making less money. This might not be a problem for national chains like McDonalds and Starbucks, but for businesses on the margin - and a great many of DC’s food trucks are undoubtedly operating on the margin - increased costs could mean the difference between entrepreneurial life and death.

There are further unintended consequences to these kind of bans, as when cities like Los Angeles banned single--use plastic grocery bags in favor of reuasable cloth ones in an effort to be eco-friendly, not realizing that these bags turned out to be breeding grounds for dangerous diseases.

A cost-benefit analysis is only useful, however, once you accept that there is a role for government intervention in the market in the first place. Economic theory, recognizing the benefit of free markets, dictates that a market failure be demonstrated before government gets involved. Let's take a moment to see whether this criterion is met in the case of styrofoam containers.

The argument traditionally offered by economists is the problem of externalities, situations where the full cost of a good’s use is not borne by those who use it. The customer pays for the production of the styrofoam in the price of his food, but the costs to the environment are borne by everyone. Thus, there is a market failure resulting in overproduction of styrofoam, and the government must intervene to correct it.

There are problems with this argument, most notably the tenuous claim that styrofoam results in externalities at all. When someone finishes using a styrofoam container, assuming they don’t violate existing anti-littering laws, they typically contract with a private company to carry the trash away and store it on land designated for that purpose.

If the owners of that land decide they want to store styrofoam there, they are free to refuse (no pun intended) and consumers will have to find another way of dealing with the waste. However, if they are willing to store the trash, then what is the problem? Where is the externality? The environmental cost is borne entirely by landowners voluntarily accepting waste. There is no market failure, and no justification for government intervention.

If the issue is that many landfills are classified as public land, Congress is free to make a law prohibiting the storage of styrofoam on public land, but to outright ban a privately made product that satisfies the needs of consumers and businesses alike simple because it is durable is an unacceptable violation of individual rights from a city that makes a habit out of that sort of thing.


Lord Lawson, The Climate And The BBC: Who’s The Real Expert?

Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, is now the [Chairman] of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. So when global warming policy is debated, he has sometimes been invited to debate the issue on television and radio, often with climate scientists.

Last week it was revealed that the Radio 4 Today Programme has been rebuked over a particular exchange between Lord Lawson and Sir Brian Hoskins, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, London. In the exchange in question, Lord Lawson contended that nobody knows the extent of climate change and that 2013 was unusually quiet for tropical storms. The BBC’s Editorial Complaints unit accepted that it was not made sufficiently clear that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change are not accepted by the majority of climate scientists.

If the debate is about how many storms there were in a particular year, and Lord Lawson got his facts wrong, that is obviously a mistake on his part. But the affair points to a more general issue.  Lord Lawson has no extensive scientific training or track record of peer-reviewed research into climate change science. So when he is invited on to debate climate change policy with some established mainstream climate scientist, is it genuinely a debate between peers, or is it a matter in which viewers and listeners should be clear that one of the debaters is a established expert with a long track record of productive work in the relevant area and the other is, at best, a semi-informed amateur?

I say the latter – it is not a debate between equals. Let’s see why.

A debate about climate change policy is a debate about what policies should be introduced to respond to the consequences or risks of human-induced climate change.  What does that involve and which of the components of the discussion are matters on which Lord Lawson has any relevant knowledge or expertise, and which are those on which his climate scientist adversary is really the expert?

Well, first, we need insights into how humans have induced and/or will  in the future induce climate change (absent any policy change or other human response – e.g. via market forces). The first part of that is an economic model. All models of human-induced climate change include, at their core, economic models – otherwise how would we forecast the human contribution without a model of how much output there will be, how much energy will be used in producing that output, and so on. Who, out of Lord Lawson, former Chancellor the Exchequer and before that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and before becoming an MP for many years an economics writer, and a climate scientist, do you suppose might have the more relevant expertise in the assessment of economic models or forecasts for the future of the economy?

Maybe some climate modellers do in fact have knowledge of the relevant economic models, but many others will actually be experts in the physics of the atmosphere and related matters. Normally, Lord Lawson will have the advantage here.

Next, we need a model of how carbon emissions will affect the climate (absent any automatic equilibrating mechanisms of the earth responding to carbon emissions). On this the climate scientist will clearly have the advantage. But then again, Lord Lawson is most unlikely to disagree with the climate scientist about anything to do with this, since the science on this point is pretty much undisputed by anyone sensible (and certainly not disputed by Lord Lawson).

Third, we need a model of how the earth might respond to changes in CO2 or other greenhouse gases. This is a point on which the climate scientist will undoubtedly have more direct expertise than Lord Lawson. It is also the non-human aspect of the issue that climate science understands the least. For example, see this transcript of the American Physical Society climate change statement review workshop of January this year. The very limited increase in global surface temperatures over the past fifteen years now goes well beyond anything that could be written off as “noise” in climate change models – it simply wasn’t initially predicted.

It obviously in no way follows that climate change is not real or not human-induced. But what does follow is that our models of how the earth responds to increased CO2 could be improved materially. Some researchers have been seeking to explain the current hiatus for a number of years, but the conclusion a number of perfectly respectable mainstream scientists draw is, as per the American Physical Society workshop transcript (p105): errors in current models “raise serious questions about the ability to simulate processes and feedbacks that are temperature dependent“. So, to be sure, the climate scientist will probably understand more about the detailed drawbacks of such models than Lord Lawson does, but it is a hotly debated topic (genuinely hotly debated, not 99pc vs 1pc) with each climate scientist having her own pet theory and no consensus at this time. Let’s score this one to the scientist.

Since government policy interventions only become an issue if market processes or other forms of natural ingenuity would not address climate change automatically, the next element we need is a view about how market processes and ingenuity might respond to climate change. That’s obviously again an economics question, on which Lord Lawson will be fairly expert and most climate scientists almost nowhere. [...]

So, overall, I agree. Given that how, if at all, we should respond to climate change is a matter of economics and political judgement, not (emphatically not) atmospheric physics (for nothing whatever follows from any climate change model about what policy should be adopted in response to its findings), I entirely agree that when Lord Lawson debates climate change policy with climate scientists there is only one person there with relevant expertise and the other party is, at best, a semi-informed amateur. The relevant expert is Lord Lawson.

The sooner people grasp that climate change policy is not a scientific question, the sooner our debate on this matter will become a whole lot more rational and balanced.


The Rage of the Climate Central Planners

The conversation with a good friend — brilliant man but a head full of confidence in the planning state — was going well. We’ve agreed on so much, such as war, civil liberties, the dangers of religious intolerance and so on. We’ve always argued about points concerning economics and property rights but it has always been polite.

Then the other day that changed. For the first time ever, the topic of climate change and policy response came up. I casually dismissed the idea that mandatory steps away from industrialization plus global regulatory controls could accomplish anything. Plus, how can we really know the relation between cause and effect, cost and benefit, problem and solution?

These are not radical points. The same crew — tax-funded experts and functionaries — that claims to be able to fix global temperature and save humanity from melting ice caps decades from now also said 25 years ago that they would bring peace, happiness, and understanding to Iraq. They spent $2.4 trillion and smashed a civilization.

This is what bureaucrats do. They always pretend to know what they cannot really know, and are more than happy to squander other people’s money and liberty in order to realize their dreams. When they screw up, no one pays the price. This is why government almost always, make that always, gets it wrong.

Whatever the problem, government is not the answer. Hardly any proposition concerning life on earth strikes me as more obvious.

So, my tossed-off, slightly dismissive comments on the global warming crusade didn’t seem so outlandish to me. I was merely extending F.A. Hayek’s “knowledge problem.”

We can’t know with certainty whether, to what extent, and with what result, and in light of possible countervailing factors, how climate change (especially not 50 years from now) really affects life on earth. We can’t know the precise causal factors and their weight relative to the noise in our models, much less the kinds of coercive solutions to apply and whether they have been applied correctly and with what outcomes, much less the costs and benefits.

We can’t know any of that before or after such possible solutions have been applied. Science requires a process and unrelenting trial and error, learning and experimentation, the humility to admit error and the driving passion to discover truth. In other words, real science requires freedom, not central planning. The idea that any panel of experts can have the requisite knowledge to make such grand decisions for the globe is outlandish and contrary to pretty much everything we know.

Plus, throw politics into the mix and matters get worse. From everything I’ve read, I’m convinced that fear over climate change (the ultimate public goods “problem”) is the last and best hope for those lustful to rule the world by force. Some people just want to run the world, and this entire nightmare scenario that posits that our high standard of living is causing the world to heat up and burn is the latest and greatest excuse. And that remains true whether or not everything they claim to be true is all true or all nonsense.

In my conversation with my friend, I didn’t say all of this; I just hinted at it vaguely. It was enough. He began to shake. He turned white and began to pace. He called me a denialist. He was horrified to discover that his good friend turns out to be some kind of extremist weirdo who disparages science. He began to accuse me of believing in things I never said, of failing to read the science (though later admitting that he hadn’t read the science).

I stood there stunned that I could have so quickly and inadvertently changed the whole dynamic of our conversation and even friendship — all for having suggested that something seemed a bit out of whack with mainstream opinion on this topic.

This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, I should have come to expect it by now. Every time this subject comes up with anyone who favors government action on climate change, the result has been the same. We seem to be unable to have a rational conversation. It’s like an article of faith for them, and I’m suddenly the dangerous heretic who believes the world is flat.

Now, in light of this, I read Paul Krugman this morning. He writes in his column: “Read or watch any extended debate over climate policy and you’ll be struck by the venom, the sheer rage, of the denialists.”

The denialists? My whole experience has been the opposite. By denialists, I’m assuming he means people who doubt the merit of his grand central plan for the world economy. Among them, I’ve found a vast range of views, an open mindedness, and curiosity about the full range of opinion, and, quite often, an attitude that seems to me — if anything — to be far too quick to defer to all main conventions of this debate.

I have no interest in taking on the science of climatology but every time I’ve looked into this in depth, I’ve found that the consensus is far more loose than people like Krugman would suggest. Real scientists do not have the intensity of certainty that the politicians and pundits demand they have.

Discerning cause and effect, cost and benefit, problem and solution, in a field that touches on the whole of the social and natural science — come on. We are kidding ourselves if we think there is just one way to look at this.

If you want tolerance and humility, and a willingness to defer to the evidence and gradual process of scientific discovery, you will find it among those who have no desire to manage the world from the top down.

What can we say about those who want to empower a global coterie of elites to make the decision about what technologies we can use and how much under the guise of controlling something so gigantically amorphous and difficult to measure, detect, and precisely manage as earth’s surface temperature?

This is a level of chutzpah that surpasses the wildest fantasies of any socialist planner.

Even without knowing anything of the literature, without having read any of the best science on the topic, anyone with knowledge of the politics of science and the politics of public policy can know this much: this is not going to end well.

And perhaps this explains the incredible intolerance, belligerance, and stunning dogmatism of those who are demanding we shut down the free market in order to accommodate their wishes.

They really can’t allow a debate, because they will certainly and absolutely and rightly lose.

When that is certain, the only way forward is to rage.

Which is precisely what I expect to happen in the wake of what I’ve just written.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


8 July, 2014

Could Consuming MORE Energy Help Humans Save Nature?

By John Horgan

Even before I arrived at the annual “Dialogue” of the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland, California, think tank that challenges mainstream environmental positions, I was arguing about it.

"Ecopragmatists" contend that higher energy consumption may help us "decouple" from, or reduce our impact on, the environment. Photo: Breakthrough Institute.

When I explained some of the institute’s positions to two green friends, they were aghast that I would hobnob with a group that favors nuclear power, natural gas, genetically-modified food—and, more generally, the notion that environmentalism is or should be compatible with rapid economic growth.

My friends agree with ethicist Clive Hamilton that the Institute’s “ecopragmatist” policies (other common descriptors are ecomodernist, neogreen and techno-utopian) “will lead us to disaster.” Hamilton argues in Scientific American that Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, founders of the Breakthrough Institute, “do not deny global warming; instead they skate over the top of it, insisting that whatever limits and tipping points the Earth system might throw up, human technology and ingenuity will transcend them.”

Like environmental journalists Andrew Revkin and Keith Kloor, who are friends, I admire the work of Shellenberger and Nordhaus. We share (I think) several basic assumptions, which for me are emotional as well as intellectual. First, optimism about the future is reasonable, given how much progress humans have already achieved in the realms of medicine, human rights, prosperity and even the environment. Second, optimism, even wishful thinking, are more conducive to achieving further progress than alarmism and despair. Third, we can solve our problems by being more open-minded and creative–and scrutinizing all our assumptions.

Take, for example, the provocative agenda of the 2014 Dialogue, which was held in Sausalito, California, June 22-24, and was titled “High-energy Planet.” (See also the institute’s recent report “Our High-Energy Planet.”) Here is how the Dialogue brochure introduces the agenda:

"For the past 40 years, rising energy production and consumption have been widely viewed as inherently destructive of nature. A steady stream of government, United Nations, and environmental proposals have identified lowered energy consumption as the highest goal of climate and environmental policy. But during that same period, global per capita energy consumption has risen by 30 percent. And over the next century, global energy consumption is anticipated to double, triple, or more. The reality of our high-energy planet demands that we rethink environmental protection. The question for Breakthrough Dialogue 2014 is, ‘How might a high-energy planet save nature?’

Universal energy is a fundamental requisite of development. The transformation of natural energy assets into usable energy services allows not just for household lighting and electricity, but also modern infrastructures and societies. Affordable energy is used to power tractors, create fertilizers, and power irrigation pumps, all of which improve agricultural yields and raise income. Cheap and reliable grid electricity allows factory owners to increase output and hire more workers. Electricity allows hospitals to refrigerate lifesaving vaccines and power medical equipment. It liberates children and women from manual labor and provides light, heat, and ventilation for the schools that educate the workforce.

A world with cheaper and cleaner energy could be a world where humans tread more lightly, leaving more space for other species while reducing pollution. Cheap, clean energy could power advanced water treatment plants that remove phosphorus from livestock effluents, returning clean water to rivers and recycling phosphorous as a fertilizer. Desalination could spare aquifers, rivers, and lakes, while rehabilitating freshwater ecosystems. Materials recycling and incineration could make landfills a thing of the past. And vertical agriculture could spare more land for nonhumans.

There is no guarantee that a high-energy planet will be a better place for nature. While land used for agriculture has grown only modestly, frontier agriculture continues to devastate old-growth rainforests in Indonesia and Brazil. Coal continues to be the fastest-growing fuel, and the carbon intensity of the global economy has been increasing in recent years. And while consumption of some key resource inputs such as wood and non-agricultural water appear to have peaked, demand for others is still growing rapidly.

Ultimately, what will determine whether our high-energy planet is better or worse for nature will be the ways in which our technologies, our economies, our values, and our politics evolve. What are the ways that we might shape the trajectory of the current transition and what are the ways that we won’t? What does an ecomodernist politics look like that is simultaneously realistic and aspirational about the future of the planet?

Agricultural innovations have boosted the productivity of farmland over the last 50 years, sparing enormous swathes of land, according to a 2012 analysis by Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and co-authors. Other energy-consuming innovations could help further reduce humanity's impact on nature, according to Ausubel."

Breakthrough speakers did not all find the concept of a sustainable, high-energy planet plausible. Far from it. The vision of a prosperous, green, “high-energy planet” was supported by some speakers, notably environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University, who received the 2014 “Breakthrough Paradigm Award.”

Ausubel emphasized that energy-consuming advances such as tractors and synthetic fertilizers already enable humans to produce food far more efficiently, using less land and water. Ausubel asserted that our technologies are allowing us to “decouple” from nature–that is, to meet our needs with much less impact on the environment. Environmental researcher Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado argued, moreover, that large increases in energy consumption are required to eradicate the poverty that still afflicts a large proportion of humanity.

But key tenets of the high-energy proposal were criticized by other speakers. Energy analyst Arnulf Grubler of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis questioned whether nuclear energy will ever be as economically viable as proponents hope. Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity feared that by the time humans achieve their green, high-energy utopia, much of the planet’s biodiversity will have already been wiped out.

I saw these disagreements as productive. The conference fulfilled its goal of “achieving disagreement,” defined as “overcoming misunderstandings to get at genuine disagreements.”

I have one suggestion for the Breakthrough Institute: I hope it considers how militarism can exacerbate our environmental problems, and, conversely, how reducing militarism can benefit environmentalism and other social causes. Perhaps a topic for a future Dialogue?


“Demand-side management”: Blackouts by another name

UK: In a recent speech Ed Davey announced that energy intensive companies would be paid to switch off their machinery during times of high demand. As many have noted, this not what happens in healthy energy markets. Although this policy is called ‘demand-side management’, jargon does not disguise what is still a blackout. But simple economics can determine a much better approach to energy policy than the managed decline preferred by the deeply unpopular minority party in the coalition.

The problem of the UK’s diminished capacity is caused by energy policies, (not shortages of fuel), largely but not entirely driven by EU directives to reduce CO2 and other emissions from power stations.  Much of the UK’s generating capacity has been forced to close by the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), followed by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), both of which are intended to reduce the emissions responsible for pollution. Nobody is against clean air, but the combination of these policies has compounded the UK’s energy problems, leaving an energy gap which threatens wide-spread blackouts.

The LCPD and IED force the operators of coal-fired power stations either to shut down within a given time (17,500 operational hours between 2016 and 2023), or to add systems to comply with the standards they set out.  Retro-fitting older but still serviceable plants may not be economically viable, so the operational lifespan of these plants is reduced by a decade or more.  Somewhat late in the day, the Department for Energy and Climate Change commissioned a report on the feasibility of building new gas and coal-fired capacity and extending the life of the UK’s existing power plants by making them compliant with the IED.

The existence of the report demonstrates that the current and previous governments’ plans for a greener energy sector have not materialised, and cannot now be achieved. No amount of wind turbines and domestic solar PV installations can replace the capacity that has already been lost to the LCPD and will be lost to the IED. So the government is now forced to face the consequences: begging energy companies to keep remaining coal and legacy gas plants operational for as long as possible in order to avert a deeper crisis.

Along the way, the report shows some interesting things about the history of the UK’s fleet of power stations. The following graph shows two main periods of building. Approximately 3.3GW a year of coal plant between 1965-75 and 2.5GW a year between 1990 and 2000, under different economic regimes.

This demonstrates that relatively rapid deployment of conventional plant is technically feasible. In contrast, the UK’s onshore wind fleet expanded by an average of just 0.5GW a year between 2004-12, equivalent to just 0.15GW when we take into account the variability of wind energy. At this rate, it would take nearly 80 years for onshore wind to replace the 11.8GW of coal and gas-fired capacity that will have been shut down by 2020, by the LCPD and IED. If we include the 6.1GW of nuclear capacity that will have been closed by 2020, the current rate of onshore wind farm construction will take 120 years to replace what took fewer than 6 years to build in the 1960s. So much for green economic ‘progress’.

And the cost? The report rules out building new coal-fired plants, but more interestingly finds that new gas-fired plants can be built for around £500 per KW of capacity – £500 million per GW at a build rate of up to 6GW a year. This is consistent with DECC’s own estimates, which includes onshore wind at £960 per KWh of capacity, or £3,300, when we take into account wind variability. That’s £3.3 billion per GW.  So to close the energy gap with gas-fired capacity would cost around £9 billion, and take three years. But closing the gap with onshore wind energy would cost £59 billion (not including the cost of extensive changes to the Grid to cope with intermittent sources like wind) and take longer than a century. And we’d still need to spend the £9 billion on gas-fired back-up anyway.

It is remarkable, given these facts, that the government should ever doubt the need to keep the legacy power stations open. According to research by The Tax Payer’s Alliance, green energy subsidies will amount to £5.8 billion a year by 2018-19. That could pay for the energy gap to be closed in just 18 months.

These are of course, rough calculations. And they don’t take into account the cost of fuel. But the cost of financing £59 billion worth of wind farms – interest payments – would be far greater than the cost of fuel for gas plants, which is one reason why wind farms need to be so heavily subsidised. No wonder green campaigners are so violently opposed to fracking, and so resistant to a second ‘dash for gas’. The argument for closing down coal and gas-fired power stations, and replacing them with wind farms and other renewables is factually, empirically and morally bankrupt. And no wonder the government is so worried about keeping the lights on that it is asking factories to shut down. It is policies, not technical, economic or environmental challenges, that have caused the energy gap to open up.


U.S. Fracking Has 'Cut Carbon More Than The Whole World's Wind And Solar'

Fracking in the US has led to a greater reduction in carbon emissions than all the wind turbines and solar panels across the entire globe put together. This is the stark fact presented at a meeting at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg last week.

Chris Faulkner, who is chief executive of Breitling Energy Corporation based in Texas, explained: "Fracking has succeeded where Kyoto and carbon taxes have failed. Due to the shale boom in the US, the use of clean burning natural gas has replaced much more polluting coal by ten per cent. In 2012, the shift to gas has managed to reduce CO? emissions by about 300 megatonnes (Mt).

"Compare this to the fact that all the wind turbines and solar panels in the world reduce CO? emissions, at a maximum, by 275 Mt. In other words, the US shale gas revolution has by itself reduced global emissions more than all the well-intentioned solar and wind in the world.”

The economic impacts of fracking and shale gas are also indisputable: as natural gas prices in the European Union have doubled since the year 2000, US prices have fallen by about 75 per cent in the past few years. Annually, the global solar and wind subsidies cost $60B, whereas the US is saving at least $100B from cheaper energy

The Economist predicts that by 2020 the fracking revolution will have added 2 to 4 per cent ($380–$690B) to American GDP and created more than twice as many jobs as car makers provide today. US GDP today is about $16T, and US car makers employ about 800,000 people.

Chris Faulkner continued: "Many countries in Europe, and across the world, have similar opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint, and to experience the same economic benefits.”

"These are not opportunities governments should overlook, or discount, as carbon reduction targets will not be achieved through renewables or any other current energy generation technology.

"But shale is not a silver bullet, it is a stop-gap fuel while other energy generation technologies are developed, which will replace carbon-based fuels in the coming years.

"Opponents of fracking and shale exploitations cite various risks. Yet a million and a half wells have been fracked in the US since 1947 and 95 per cent of all wells in the US are fracked today. It is a very safe method of exploration and production. Fracking occurs at several thousand feet below freshwater aquifers. It is virtually impossible for any of the fracking fluid to climb back up through the rock formations between the shale gas deposits and the aquifer.

"As with any energy source,” added Chris Faulkner, "there are risks. But if there is proper regulation and enforcement, those risks can be managed and minimized. In many states in the US there are effective regulations and monitoring in place.”

Chris Faulkner was invited to present at the Council of Europe by UK MP David Davies. The 'fringe' meeting was attended by over 30 Council of Europe members from across Europe, including eight UK MPs.

"The UK is the only country in Europe which is progressing with shale exploration,” added Chris Faulkner. "The rest of Europe is watching the UK very closely to see what happens.

"The UK government is making every effort to get this right, albeit without much help from the shale industry which has spectacularly failed to properly engage with governments and, more importantly, with the public at large.

"The handful of companies operating in the field have not made any real effort to engage with local communities around sites, enter into proper discussions with local councils, or discussed fracking with environmentalists, allowing them free range to influence public perceptions using inaccurate, misinterpreted or exaggerated information mainly from the US experience.

"The industry has also failed to come forward with any suggestions for compensating landowners and local communities, seemingly leaving it to government to regulate.

"The UK government has suggested a lump sum payment and then 1 per cent of revenue going forward. This is very limited compared to the model that operates in the US where landowners can get over 20 per cent of revenue over the life of a well.”


UK: Green ‘smart meters’ are plain stupid

Ideology is a bad guide to action in the real world. It makes otherwise sensible people ignore important facts and pursue policies which are obviously flawed.

The current Green dogma is constantly pushing governments, businesses and much of the media into policies and actions which we will later regret.

The plan for ‘smart meters’ is one such mistake. Even those who now promote them do not fully understand them. Experience in other countries shows they will not fulfil their optimistic official targets and that they are fraught with risks.

They do not work properly in several types of building. Their complex technology could take years to bed down.

Yet the policy is to be implemented anyway, publicised at great expense with a launch event starring Bob Geldof. And we, the actual consumers, will pay for it for many years ahead in higher charges, even if we opt not to have the new equipment in our homes.

This is a classic example of starting with a theory and trying to force reality to fit. Similar attitudes led to the sclerosis and ultimate collapse of the old Communist systems, which promised utopia and produced poverty, concrete-headed official obduracy and rust.

The Green fashion has gone unchallenged long enough.

It is time for Ministers, MPs and the media to re-examine the claims of a belief system which has so far brought nothing but higher prices, diminished efficiency and ugly blights on the landscape.


Report from a British summer

By the end of this week, the Met Office is predicting it will be Phew, What A Scorcher! time again. It’s called the British summer.

Not according to the Government, it isn’t. Officially, we don’t have weather any more.

We have ‘climate change’, a catch-all excuse for everything from raising taxes and refusing to empty the bins to exploding manhole covers.

That’s right, exploding manhole covers. The Health and Safety Executive has warned pedestrians to be on the alert after a series of manhole cover explosions in London’s West End.

There have been 64 such incidents already this year, compared with just nine in 2011. ‘Experts’ blame the ‘wettest winter on record’ for rainwater damaging underground electric cables.

The heavy rainfall, which brought flooding to many parts of the country, is naturally attributed to ‘climate change’, which is also allegedly responsible for last week’s hot weather and the subsequent deluge at the weekend.

Today’s political class thinks the answer to unpredictable weather is to close perfectly serviceable coal-fired power stations, litter the landscape with useless windmills and jack up the cost of fuel to meet ‘green’ energy targets.

They also assume the right to lecture us about our behaviour. An outfit called ‘Public Health England’ has taken it upon itself to draw up a ‘Heatwave Plan 2014’ to be distributed to all homes.

I only became aware of this patronising drivel when Mail reader Tony Singleton sent me a copy of a leaflet which had been pushed through his letter box by Devon County Council’s ‘Emergency Management’ team.

It begins: ‘Although many of us enjoy the sunshine, as a result of climate change we are increasingly likely to experience summer temperatures that may be harmful to health.’

We are instructed to obey a shopping list of precautions to keep us safe. For instance: ‘Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm. If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat and light scarf.

‘Eat cold foods, particularly salads. Take a cool shower, bath or body wash. Sprinkle water over the skin or clothing or keep a damp cloth on the back of your neck.’ (I never leave home without one.)

As if this isn’t sufficiently insulting to our intelligence, we are also told how to act in our own homes.

‘Close curtains that receive morning and afternoon sun. However, care should be taken with metal blinds and dark curtains, as these can absorb heat. Consider replacing or putting reflective material in between them and the window space.’

What? Covering your windows with Bacofoil is normally associated with lunatics who are convinced they are being targeted by invisible death rays from alien space ships. It’s the kind of thing which gets people sectioned.

Now, though, it appears to be official Government policy. After reading this rubbish, I presumed it couldn’t be confined only to Devon.

I was right. The Heatwave Plan 2014 has been adopted by councils and NHS Trusts all over Britain as part of a national action plan.

I’ve stumbled across websites called ‘Norfolk Prepared’ and ‘Staffordshire Prepared’ giving identical advice.

The author of this extraordinary 45-page document is Professor  Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health.

She has drawn on the expertise of a wide range of healthcare ‘professionals’ from across the public sector. It even contains advice to Muslims on how to avoid becoming dehydrated in the event of a heat wave coinciding with fasting during Ramadan.

They think of everything, don’t they? It was only a matter of time before the ‘climate change’ and ‘diversity’ agendas collided. Goodness knows how much all this madness is costing us.

Meanwhile, in other news, the BBC has decided to stop giving airtime to ‘unqualified climate change deniers’ and the EU is issuing new recycling rules and demanding higher petrol taxes to ‘combat climate change’.


‘Energy Independence’: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

    “Unfortunately, at the first sign of political and economic trouble most people are spontaneously inclined to put the brakes on international trade and to increase local production of critical things such as food and energy. This stance often has dire consequences.”

As some apparently inexplicable behaviour illustrates (say, being a die-hard fan of the Chicago Cubs), humans are profoundly territorial creatures. According to evolutionary psychologists, this is because for approximately 90% of their time on this planet, modern humans belonged to small groups that were constantly fighting each other over the possession of land and resources. Deep down, most people’s behaviour is not all that different from that observed on Animal Planet’s Meerkat Manor…

Peace and Open Trade

As recent events in the Ukraine remind us, sometimes the other tribe is still out there to get us. By and large, however, the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker demonstrates in his book The Better Angels of our Nature that we are living “in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence,” a relatively blessed state of affairs made possible through ever greater international trade and the worldwide exchange of ideas and culture over the last few centuries.

More than two centuries before Pinker, the French philosopher Montesquieu had similarly observed:

Commerce is a cure for the most destructive prejudices; for it is almost a general rule, that wherever we find agreeable manners, there commerce flourishes; and that wherever there is commerce, there we meet with agreeable manners… Peace is the natural effect of trade.” In the immortal words of another French thinker of the time, Voltaire: “Go into the [Stock] Exchange in London, that place more venerable than many a court, and you will see representatives of all the nations assembled there for the profit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian deal with one another as if they were of the same religion, and reserve the name of infidel for those who go bankrupt.

Unfortunately, at the first sign of political and economic trouble most people are spontaneously inclined to put the brakes on international trade and to increase local production of critical things such as food and energy. This stance often has dire consequences. As the old saying goes, if goods don’t cross borders, armies eventually will.

Less dramatically though, these policies typically deliver lower standards of living (after all, no one would bother moving good over long distances if they did not provide better and cheaper alternatives to local productions) and greater insecurity (for instance, promoting “food security” through increased local production essentially amounts to putting more of our agricultural eggs in one regional basket, a recipe for disaster when droughts, floods and other unavoidable natural calamities strike).

Energy No Exception

Energy security is no different. Policies in this respect typically involve a combination of reduced dependence on any one foreign supplier by increasing their number, ramping up domestic production and reducing overall demand through energy conservation measures. While none of these things are inherently bad when they occur spontaneously (such as when new profitable local energy sources are developed), they are counterproductive when they occur solely as a result of government subsidies, mandates or barriers to trade, as the history of U.S. energy markets abundantly illustrates.

Over a century ago, the United States was the most important oil producer in the world with significant drilling operations in states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and California. The country’s only serious global rival back then was Russia whose large oilfields around the Caspian sea (in what is now Azerbaidjan) had been developed largely at the instigation of Robert and Ludvig Nobel, brothers of the better known Alfred (of Nobel Prizes fame). In later decades though, the rapid development of the American economy and the discovery gigantic petroleum reserves in the Middle East, Venezuela, Canada and other places turned the USA into a net importer.

Greater dependence on foreign imports was not problematic until the energy crisis of the early 1970s that prompted President Nixon to launch the Project Independence whose goal was to make the United States self-sufficient. Similar policies were later embraced by many politicians. As many readers know, one of the main goals of the Obama administration was to create millions of well-paid, abundant, stable, unionized (with full benefits), healthy, environmentally beneficial, and geographically dispersed “green jobs” in everything from electric cars to wind turbines.

Unfortunately, overturning the laws of physics and economics proved more challenging than herding free-range and grass-fed unicorns. Try as they might, no visionary policy maker found a way to convert the Green Job Kool-Aid into an affordable, convenient, and reliable energy drink.

But while green schemes were falling apart, production of the much-maligned hydrocarbons soared to such an extent that, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, US crude oil imports peaked in 2005, while in 2013 the country became the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Of course, the sheer size of the U.S. economy means that its petroleum consumption still depends for about 40% on imports of crude oil and petroleum products, but BP’s Energy Outlook now forecasts that the U.S. will produce 101% of its energy needs by 2035, making the country de facto energy independent. While such forecasts should be taken with a grain of salt, the possibility of an energy “Independence Day” is now, for the first time in several decades, eminently plausible. This type of self-sufficiency is desirable, for it rests on superior local alternatives to those that the rest of the world could provide.

If history is any guide, however, something completely unexpected could emerge in energy markets in the coming two decades and foreign alternatives might again become more desirable. If that was the case, the U.S. would be ill advised to cling to less desirable local alternatives. As was the case before the fracking boom, energy security would be best achieved not by reducing the physical volume of imported oil, but by diversifying supplies and letting creative people in the private sector come up with better alternatives.

Risk Management 101 tells us to diversify our investment portfolio. The same is true from the perspective of energy consumers and national governments. If energy security is the goal, then strengthening energy interdependence the world over is the way to achieve it. The more suppliers you depend on, the more secure you will be. As Andy Grove put it, out true goal should be energy resilience through adaptability and substitutability.  In fact, resilience is one of the best features of market processes as individual buyers and sellers can adapt, each in their own way, to changes in supply and demand conditions conveyed through market prices.


World markets not only deliver cheaper and better goods, but they also make countries and consumers more secure and resilient. Now as in the past, for most of the world more energy security means less energy independence. The U.S. is now in the unique position of benefitting from a significant local energy boom and should enjoy it while it lasts, but this should not detract from this greater truth.



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7 July, 2014

Lame, lame, lame

There's some lame stuff written about global warming but the nonsense below takes the cake.  Hair colour is determined by your genes, not by the temperature.  The only way the frequency of a particular gene can be reduced in nature is for that gene to be  selected against in mating.  And why a slight increase in temperature would make redheads less desirable in bed is not explained

Global warming could lead to the extinction of Scotland's redheads, expects have claimed.

Experts believe that Scotland’s gloomy climate has led to a red hair emerging as a genetic adaptation to help exploit rare sunny days and boost Vitamin D production.

But as the world warms up, some predict that the change in climate will lead to more sunny days for the Scots - meaning they will no longer be so well adapted to their environment.

Only about 1-2 per cent of the world’s population has red hair but in Scotland the figure is much higher, with about 13 per cent, or 650,000 people, with flaming locks.

Alastair Moffat, managing director of genetic testing company ScotlandsDNA, said the country’s dull weather was responsible for a larger number of flame-haired men and women being born.

Dr Moffat told the Daily Record: 'We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and the north of England is adaptation to the climate. We do not get enough sun and have to get all the vitamin D we can.

'If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.'

Red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16, which causes a mutation.

That means a person who does not have red hair can still produce red-haired children if they and their partner is a carrier of the gene.

Despite concerns that red hair dying out, many experts say it is likely to continue for many generations.

Research publised last year by BritainsDNA found that 20million people in the UK and Ireland have ginger genes.

The most red-headed part of Britain and Ireland is the South-East of Scotland with Edinburgh as a red-hotspot where 40 per cent carry one of the three common red hair gene variants.

But the biggest surprise revealed by the research is just over 34 per cent of the population of parts of the north of England are carriers, making Yorkshire and Humberside as red-headed as Ireland.


Global warming computer models confounded as Antarctic sea ice hits new record high with 2.1million square miles more than is usual for time of year

The levels of Antarctic sea-ice last week hit an all-time high – confounding climate change computer models which say it should be in decline.

America’s National Snow And Ice Data Center, which is funded by Nasa, revealed that ice around the southern continent covers about 16million sq km, more than 2.1?million more than is usual for the time of year.

It is by far the highest level since satellite observations on which the figures depend began in 1979.
In statistical terms, the extent of the ice cover is hugely significant.

It represents the latest stage in a trend that started ten years ago, and means that an area the size of Greenland, which would normally be open water, is now frozen.

The Antarctic surge is so big that overall, although Arctic ice has decreased, the frozen area around both poles is one million square kilometres more than the long-term average.

In its authoritative Fifth Assessment Report released last year, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admitted that the computer models on which scientists base their projections say Antarctic ice should be in decline, not increasing.

The report said: ‘There is low confidence in the scientific understanding of the observed increase in Antarctic sea ice extent since 1979, due to… incomplete and competing scientific explanations for the causes of change.’

Some scientists have suggested the Antarctic ice increase may itself be caused by global warming. But Professor Judith Curry, head of climate science at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, said the arguments were not convincing.

She added: ‘We do not have a quantitative, predictive understanding of the rise in Antarctic sea ice extent.’ She said it was becoming increasingly apparent that long-term cycles in ocean temperatures were responsible for a significant proportion of the ice decline in the Arctic – a process that may be starting to reverse.

Prof Curry also revealed that because of the ‘pause’, in which world average temperatures have not risen for more than 16 years, the Arctic ice decline has been ‘touted’ by many as the most important evidence for continued global warming.

But in her view, climate scientists have to consider evidence from  both Poles.  She added: ‘Convincing arguments regarding the causes of sea-ice  variations require understanding and ability to model both the Arctic and Antarctic.’


It's politics, not science, driving climate mania: Why are environmentalists and scientists so reluctant to discuss long-term increases in southern hemisphere sea ice?

For years, computer simulations have predicted that sea ice should be disappearing from the Poles.  Now, with the news that Antarctic sea-ice levels have hit new highs, comes yet another mishap to tarnish the credibility of climate science.

Climatologists base their doom-laden predictions of the Earth’s climate on computer simulations.

But these have long been the subject of ridicule because of their stunning failure to predict the pause in warming – nearly 18 years long on some measures – since the turn of the last century.

It’s the same with sea ice. We hear a great deal about the decline in Arctic sea ice, in line with or even ahead of predictions.

But why are environmentalists and scientists so much less  keen to discuss the long-term increase in the southern hemisphere?

In fact, across the globe, there are about one million square kilometres more sea ice than 35 years ago, which is when satellite measurements began.

It’s fair to say that this has been something of an embarrassment for climate modellers. But it doesn’t stop there.

In recent days a new scandal over the integrity of temperature data has emerged, this time in America, where it has been revealed as much as 40 per cent  of temperature data there are not real thermometer readings.

Many temperature stations have closed, but rather than stop recording data from these posts, the authorities have taken the remarkable step of ‘estimating’ temperatures based on the records of surrounding stations.

So vast swathes of the data are actually from ‘zombie’ stations that have long since disappeared.  This is bad enough, but it has also been discovered that the  US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is using estimates even when perfectly good raw data is available to it – and that it has adjusted historical records.

Why should it do this? Many have noted that the effect of all these changes is to produce a warmer present and a colder past, with the net result being  the impression of much faster warming.

They draw their conclusions accordingly.

Naturally, if the US temperature records are indeed found to have been manipulated, this is unlikely to greatly affect our overall picture of rising temperatures at the end of the last century and  a standstill thereafter.

The US is, after all, only a  small proportion of the globe.

Similarly, climatologists’ difficulties with the sea ice may be of little scientific significance in the greater scheme of things.

We have only a few decades of data, and in climate terms this is probably too short to demonstrate that either the Antarctic increase or the Arctic decrease is anything other than natural variability.

But the relentless focus by activist scientists on the Arctic decline does suggest a political imperative rather than a scientific one – and when put together with the story of the US temperature records, it’s hard to avoid the impression that what the public is being told is less than the unvarnished truth.

As their credulity is stretched more and more, the public will – quite rightly – treat demands for action with increasing caution…


Climate Scientist Who Got It Right Predicts 20 More Years of Global Cooling

Dr. Don Easterbrook – a climate scientist and glacier expert from Washington State who correctly predicted back in 2000 that the Earth was entering a cooling phase – says to expect colder temperatures for at least the next two decades.

Easterbrook’s predictions were “right on the money” seven years before Al Gore and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for warning that the Earth was facing catastrophic warming caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide, which Gore called a “planetary emergency.”

“When we check their projections against what actually happened in that time interval, they’re not even close. They’re off by a full degree in one decade, which is huge. That’s more than the entire amount of warming we’ve had in the past century. So their models have failed just miserably, nowhere near close. And maybe it’s luck, who knows, but mine have been right on the button,” Easterbrook told

“For the next 20 years, I predict global cooling of about 3/10ths of a degree Fahrenheit, as opposed to the one-degree warming predicted by the IPCC,” said Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University and  author of 150 scientific journal articles and 10 books, including “Evidence Based Climate Science,” which was published in 2011. (See EasterbrookL coming-century-predictions.pdf)

In contrast, Gore and the IPCC’s computer models predicted “a big increase” in global warming by as much as one degree per decade. But the climate models used by the IPCC have proved to be wrong, with many places in Europe and North America now experiencing record-breaking cold.

Easterbrook noted that his 20-year prediction was the “mildest” one of four possible scenarios, all of which involve lower temperatures, and added that only time will tell whether the Earth continues to cool slightly or plunges into another Little Ice Age as it did between 1650 and 1790.

“There’s no way to tell ‘til you get there,” he told But he lamented the fact that governments worldwide have already spent a trillion dollars fighting the wrong threat.

“How does it feel to have been right?” asked Easterbrook.

“To be really truthful, it’s wonderful. There’s nothing that makes you feel better than to be right and be able to say, ‘I told you so,’” replied Easterbrook, who was also an official reviewer of the IPCC reports. “But I’m not gloating about it because it’s not good news. It’s bad news.

“And in many respects, I hope that I’m wrong. And the reason I hope that I’m wrong is because it’s going to cost several million people their lives if I’m right. In Third World countries where food and water are a problem right now, it’s going to get worse. Cold is way worse for humanity than warm is.”

Easterbrook said he made his earlier prediction by tracing back “a consistently recurring pattern” of alternating warm and cool ocean cycles called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that occurs naturally every 25 to 30 years. He discovered that the PDO corresponded with a similar temperature cycle demonstrated by isotope ratios found in Greenland ice cores going all the way back to 1480.

“We don’t know what the driving mechanism is, but it’s very consistent. It’s happened five times a century and every time it’s happened, there’s been a corresponding change in global temperature, either warm or cool,” Easterbrook told

“What I did was I projected this same pattern forward to see what it would look like. And so in 1999, which was the year after the second warmest year on record, the PDO said we’re due for a climate change, and so I said okay. It looks as though we’re going to be entering a period of about three decades or so of global cooling.

“And so in 2000, I published a paper with the Geological Society of America in which I predicted that we were going to stop warming and begin cooling for about 25 or 30 years, on the basis of taking the temperature records that go back a century or more and simply repeating the pattern of warming and cooling, warming and cooling, and so on.

“And that in fact has happened. We have now had 17 years with no global warming and my original prediction was right so far. But we have still probably another 20 years or so to see if the cooling trend continues, and if it does, then my prediction will be right and my methods will be right. And so what it boils down to is, so far so good.”

Easterbrook added that his long-term prediction until the end of century is “a lot more nebulous” due to the still-unknown effect of the sun, which has entered a “grand solar minimum” occurring every 200 years.  “Everything we think depends on what’s going to happen with the sun.”

But based on past climate data, he says the most likely scenarios are “either deep cooling, or a return to another 25-year cycle of light warming/cooling, but nothing even approaching the 10 degrees warming the IPCC folks are predicting.”

When asked Easterbrook if anybody from the IPCC, which “ignored all the data I gave them,” ever admitted that he had been right, he laughed.“No, every time I say something about the projection of climate into the future based on real data, they come out with some modeled data that says this is just a temporary pause, like a tiger waiting under the rug.”

Easterbrook noted that 32,000 American scientists have signed a statement that there’s no correlation between climate change and carbon dioxide levels. “I am absolutely dumbfounded by the totally absurd and stupid things said every day by people who are purportedly scientists that make absolutely no sense whatsoever….

“These people are simply ignoring real-time data that has been substantiated and can be replicated and are simply making up stuff,” he told Driven by a quest for money and power, he added, “what they’re doing in the U.S. is using CO2 to impose all kinds of restrictions to push a socialist government.”

“One thing many people don’t realize is that CO2 by itself is incapable of causing significant climate change. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 39/1,000ths of one percent. It’s nothing. Ninety-five percent of the greenhouse effect is water vapor, and water vapor is not changing. …

“No doubt CO2 has been climbing, but the total change in atmospheric composition [since 1945, when CO2 levels began to increase] is one 9/1,000ths of one percent. So how are you going to have a 10 degree climate change by changing this tiny amount? You can’t do it,” he says, which is why the trillion dollars already spent worldwide on reducing carbon dioxide has had little effect.

“The people who are climate deniers are the people who are denying global cooling," Easterbrook told "We haven’t had any global warming in 17 years, and they are denying that. And so we’re not the deniers. They’re the deniers.”


Humidity and the Greenhouse effect

A study done by John Christy (IRRIGATION-INDUCED WARMING IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA?) has been touted by some as being “proof” that humidity causes an enhanced “greenhouse effect”.

The conclusions drawn in the paper are based on the following two graphs (the red trend lines were added for clarity):

At first glance the increase in the daily minimum temperature (just before sunrise) exceeds the decrease in daily maximum temperature (~2:30PM) giving the impression that there was an over-all increase in the daily mean temperature from 1930-2000, but look at the scale. Each line in the TMin graph is 2 °C while each line in the TMax scale is 4 °C.

So, as you can see the daily minimum temperature increased about 2 °C while the daily maximum temperature decreased by about 2 °C meaning that the overall affect of irrigation on the daily mean temperature was nil. Rather, the affect of irrigation in this study shows that ground water decreases the diurnal temperature swing. This is not surprising since water has a higher specific heat than does dry soil. As a result the specific heat of wet soil is nearly double that of dry soil.

Specific heat water = 4.179 j/g/°C

Specific heat dry soil = 0.19 j/g/°C

Specific heat wet soil = 0.35 j/g/°C

Ergo, wet soil both warms and cools more slowly than does dry soil given the same thermal input/output. Thus any assertion that this study demonstrates that irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley during the 19th century caused a net increase in average daily temperature is false unless you both milk the data and ignore the warm temperatures present in the 1930’s. For example, if you were to start the nighttime minimum trend line in the 1940’s instead of the 1930’s then the nighttime warming trend would appear to have increased about 3 °C compared to the actual nighttime warming trend of about 2 °C, which is cancelled out by an equivalent amount of daytime cooling.

It is interesting to note that the original paper does not quantify the total increase in the daily minimum nighttime temperatures over the time period studied, but only says that it was “positive”. It was a commentary on his paper that quantified the increase to have been ~3 °C, which, if true, would suggest that the study showed a ~1 °C net increase in daily mean temperatures from 1930-2000. In other words, whether the data shows a nil effect on the daily mean temperature or a slight increase depends upon where one arbitrarily places the trend line on the graphs.

Let’s keep something else in mind. Water vapor at a global average of 70% R/H is said to increase the global mean temperature by some 22 °C all by itself (2/3rds of the total 33 °C of “greenhouse effect” warming that is said to exist.)

This is roughly 3 °C for every 10% increase in humidity. If therefore the irrigation of this otherwise desert landscape caused even a doubling of the R/H from about 35% to 70% (70% is the current yearly mean humidity in the San Joaquin Valley) then a water vapor enhanced “greenhouse effect” should have been around 10 °C! Instead the data has to be milked and the daytime cooling ignored in order to suggest that the 35% increase in the San Joaquin Valley’s humidity has caused a significant increase in the daily mean temperature via an enhanced “greenhouse effect”.

What is odd about this paper is that it purports to assess the affect of humidity on the nighttime temperature increase within the San Joaquin Valley yet fails to report what the humidity actually was in that valley prior it being irrigated to grow crops or even when the irrigation reached sufficient levels to affect the regional climate.

All that it says is, “With very low humidity, such an environment saw diurnal temperature ranges of over 15°C in the dry season. Additionally, the hard, dry natural surface had little heat capacity and relatively high albedo.” Curiously in this statement Christy accurately attributes the change that the regional climate has experienced to 1) a change in the ground’s heat capacity [as mentioned above] and 2) to a change in the ground’s albedo.

Yet within his summary statement he drops mention of the change in heat capacity and adds the “greenhouse effect” to his list of hypothetical causes of the increased nighttime temperatures measured within the San Joaquin Valley during the 20th century.

So, let’s jump to the summary of the paper that again ignores the daytime cooling trend and bases its conclusions exclusively on the increase in nighttime minimum temperatures. “Our hypothesis at this point is that irrigation has altered the surface energy balance of the valley floor, causing nighttime temperatures to remain warm.” The paper then advances three possible reasons why irrigation might be the cause an increase in the nighttime temperatures seen in the San Joaquin Valley.

1) “The additional water vapor supplied through evaporation, not present formerly, enhances the downward flux of thermal radiation.” In other words increases the “greenhouse effect”.

2) “Second, the additional vapor allows aerosols to reach the swelling point at which they become very active in the thermal spectrum.”

3) “Last, the moist ground and vegetation absorb solar energy during the ubiquitous cloudless days, and release the energy in the evening.”

Since Christy only hypothesizes about the cause of the increase in nighttime temperatures and ignores in his summary the concurrent decrease in daytime temperatures, he is only looking at one half of a dampened diurnal temperature swing. Do the laws of physics change when the sun goes down? Why a doubling of the humidity wouldn’t also cause an enhanced “greenhouse effect” during the day is not explored.

To be fair to Christy, this question is never explored because doing so would not support the meme being advanced. It is an observable phenomenon that both up going long-wave radiation and the absolute humidity are the highest during the daytime hours yet the daytime temperatures in humid climates are seen to be significantly less than the daytime temperatures in arid climates.

This would suggest that the hypothetical “greenhouse effect” is only a mirage and that something else is causing the increased nighttime temperatures in humid climates.


James Cameron wants you to eat all the plants to stop global warming

Bad news: Plants can hear themselves being eaten

Remember, this is the same guy who dove to the bottom of Challenger Deep, so he probably knows something about, er… something. Apparently, one of the next big projects for James Cameron has nothing to do with 100 year old wrecks or ten foot tall blue people who plug their pony tails into their dragons. The director and his wife are ready to convince all of you to eat nothing but plants. For your health? Not just that… it’s also to stop global warming, of course.

Film director James Cameron and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, an actor and model, are planning a global campaign to persuade people to move towards a plant-only diet (where no animals or animal products are consumed) in order to sharply reduce global carbon emissions and improve their health…

“The project will include many different modes of communication that will reach as many different demographics as we possibly can from children to 90-year-olds. We want to bring awareness around the connection between livestock production and our environment to leave the planet a better place for our future generations to grow up in.”…

As they delved further into the subject, they recognised that the meat and dairy industry is also the elephant in the room when it comes to climate change.
I suppose this is a topic that’s drawing all sorts of attention around the world. Cameron is no doubt interested in the results of a recent study from across the pond with the rather unfortunate name, Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.

The production of animal-based foods is associated with higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than plant-based foods. The objective of this study was to estimate the difference in dietary GHG emissions between self-selected meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Subjects were participants in the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. The diets of 2,041 vegans, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 fish-eaters and 29,589 meat-eaters aged 20–79 were assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire…

In conclusion, dietary GHG emissions in self-selected meat-eaters are approximately twice as high as those in vegans. It is likely that reductions in meat consumption would lead to reductions in dietary GHG emissions.
Throughout the summary of the study results, the authors stubbornly refuse to hone in on the one detail that I’m sure we’re all wondering. Are they talking about the average carbon output from beef farming when divided by the number of people who eat steak? Because both the title and the descriptions in the following paragraph make it sound like they’re measuring the personal, er… gaseous emissions of the meat eaters in the study.

I know the climate warriors are a dedicated bunch and can find an angle to tie climate change into virtually every discussion, but this may have been a bit above and beyond the call here. I mean, who is it that was doing the “measuring” of these “emissions” and how was that managed? Inquiring minds want to know! (Okay… most of us probably don’t, actually.)



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6 July, 2014

This is what happens when you express global temperature in simple degrees Fahrenheit instead of as an "anomaly"

Calibrated in whole degrees

And here it is in Celsius:

Odd that Warmists always use "anomalies", isn't it?

The Trouble With Climate Change Denial (?)

Bob Ward below must get tired talking about global warming.  It's the same old story from him over and over:  Appeal to authority, abuse, Appeal to authority, abuse, Appeal to authority, abuse.  No room for the facts about global warming  -- such as we see above.  Odd that skeptics are always using graphs but Warmists rarely do.  The graphs are just too pesky

Over the past few months, the Global Warming Policy Foundation has been strongly pushing a campaign pamphlet on 'The trouble with climate change', written by its founder and chair, Lord Lawson of Blaby. It provides a fascinating demonstration of the trouble with climate change denial.

The pamphlet is a grumpy polemic by Lord Lawson in which he complains bitterly about being subjected to "extremes of personal hostility, vituperation and vilification" because of his views on climate change, while also condemning "climate scientists and their hangers-on who have become the high priests of a new age of unreason".

It shows that he is still filled with the same intense dislike of climate scientists that he felt when he first produced an essay on the issue for the Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing lobby group, in 2006.

That essay, which provided the basis for his book 'An Appeal to Reason', suggested that "the new religion is eco-fundamentalism", which he compared with "the supreme intolerance of Islamic fundamentalism", and "the new priests are scientists (well rewarded with research grants for their pains) rather than clerics of the established religions".

Like his first contribution, Lord Lawson's latest pamphlet is imbued with contempt for climate scientists, and depends on denying their findings about the scale of the risks that are being created by unmanaged climate change.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has no scientific training or qualifications, accepts the undeniable fact that "by burning fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas - we are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus, other things being equal, increasing the earth's temperature". But beyond this, he presents a distorted account of the science, apparently based on whether it is in line with his ideological opposition to climate change policies.

For instance, Lord Lawson claims that "the effect of carbon dioxide on the earth's temperature is probably less than was previously thought". This is simply false. The most authoritative review of the scientific evidence, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in September 2013, found that the long-term sensitivity of the climate to a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was likely (66 per cent chance) to cause global average surface temperature to rise by between 1.5 and 4.5 centigrade degrees.

This compares with the previous assessment in 2007 which concluded that the value of the long-term climate sensitivity is between 2.0 and 4.5 centigrade degrees. So although the lower bound is slightly lower in the new assessment, it is not true that the value is "probably less than previously thought".

And as the new report shows, if atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continue to grow at the current rate, even assuming a low value of climate sensitivity, global warming will substantially exceed two degrees by the end of this century, resulting in a global average surface temperature that, as the IPCC points out, has not been experienced for a sustained period on Earth since the Pliocene Epoch about 3 million years ago, when the polar ice caps were much smaller and global sea level was up to 20 metres higher than it is today.

However, 82-year-old Lord Lawson seems unperturbed by the prospect of creating a prehistoric climate for future generations to deal with. He argues that "over millennia, the temperature of the earth has varied a great deal". That may be so, but human civilisation has developed over the past 12,000 years since the end of the last Ice Age during a period when global average temperature has only varied by a couple of centigrade degrees at most.

Lord Lawson offers proof of our resilience against climate change by citing the Little Ice Age in the 17th century, "when the Thames frequently froze in winter and substantial ice fairs were held on it". This is a 'sceptic' canard. The River Thames froze over only 23 times between 1408 and 1814, and was due to the old London Bridge restricting tidal flows. After the Bridge was replaced in the 1830, the river did not freeze over even though London experienced many colder winters.

Finally Lord Lawson argues that even if the Earth is warming, the consequences are nothing to worry about. He claims that it is "still uncertain whether there is any impact on extreme weather events as a result of warming", yet the IPCC concluded that "changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950", and, for instance, "the frequency or intensity of heavy precipitation events has likely increased in North America and Europe".

Lord Lawson also denies any link between climate change and the floods that hit the UK earlier this year during the wettest winter on record, even though the Met Office has laid out the evidence for a connection. Instead, he accuses the Met Office of "weasel words" and accuses its chief scientist, Professor Julia Slingo, of being "publicity-hungry".

The pamphlet provides stunning proof that the arguments put forward by Lord Lawson and other climate change 'sceptics' require not just a dogmatic rejection of the expert views of climate scientists, but also a denigration of their professional competence and integrity.

That is the trouble with climate change denial.


BBC staff told to stop inviting cranks on to science programmes

The Vatican of Global Warming

BBC journalists are being sent on courses to stop them inviting so many cranks onto programmes to air ‘marginal views’

The BBC Trust on Thursday published a progress report into the corporation’s science coverage which was criticised in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues.

The report found that there was still an ‘over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality’ which sought to give the ‘other side’ of the argument, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed.

Some 200 staff have already attended seminars and workshops and more will be invited on courses in the coming months to stop them giving ‘undue attention to marginal opinion.’

“The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,” wrote the report authors.

“Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.”

The Trust said that man-made climate change was one area where too much weight had been given to unqualified critics.

In April the BBC was accused of misleading viewers about climate change and creating ‘false balance’ by allowing unqualified sceptics to have too much air-time.

In a damning parliamentary report, the corporation was criticised for distorting the debate, with Radio 4’s Today and World at One programmes coming in for particular criticism.

The BBC’s determination to give a balanced view has seen it pit scientists arguing for climate change against far less qualified opponents such as Lord Lawson who heads a campaign group lobbying against the government’s climate change policies.

Andrew Montford, who runs the Bishop Hill climate sceptic blog, former children’s television presenter Johnny Ball and Bob Carter, a retired Australian geologist, are among the other climate sceptics that have appeared on the BBC.

The report highlighted World at One edition in September of a landmark UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) research project which found concluded with 95 per cent certainty that the climate is changing and that human activity is the main cause.

The programme’s producers tried more than a dozen qualified UK scientists to give an opposing view but could not find one willing to do so – so they went to Mr Carter in Australia.

Pitted against Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Mr Carter described the findings of the most authoritative report ever undertaken into the science of climate change – put together by hundreds of scientists around the world – as “hocus-pocus science”.


There is zero evidence that plastic bags kill fish, birds or the planet

The British government should be ashamed of itself, says Jill Bell, of the Marine Conservation Society, for letting supermarket chain Tesco hand out plastic bags for free.

Prime minister David Cameron has apparently heeded the message since he now proposes to use some of his limited remaining time in power passing a law that will oblige customers to pay five pence per bag.

Why? Because ‘animals are dying from ingesting plastic and it is entering the food chain’, Bell told the Daily Mail, a newspaper that has become an evangelist for the bob-a-bag cause. Seabirds and marine mammals have died from ingesting and being entangled in disposable shopping bags, we are told.

The number of creatures polished off by plastic in, say, the last 12 months is impossible to establish, so environmental campaigners are obliged to make up the stats. The fatalities are ‘countless’, says Greenpeace, ‘numerous’ in fact. ‘An increasing number’, says the United Nations Environmental Programme; ‘thousands’, reports the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Between 100,000 and 500,000’, says the Winterlife Cooperative in Seattle. The death toll for seabirds alone is ‘around one million’, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), plus ‘100,000 marine animals’.

Chris Davies MEP, the environment spokesman for the UK Liberal Democrats, confidently assures the Mail that ‘discarded plastic bags are killing millions of marine animals each year’, which is why the European Parliament has declared jihad, or as they prefer to call it, a ‘Binding European Union Target’ on plastic bags. Shoppers in Britain face the prospect of a five-pence polybag tax because ‘it’s become a massive problem across Europe’, says Davies, ‘one we must deal with together’.

The phantasmal qualities of discarded plastic pouches have become part of modern folklore. Plastic bags are seen as the harbinger of wider eco-calamity that strikes fear into our hearts, much like the dreaded medieval Welsh king Gwynn ap Nudd, the Lord of the Dead, with his powers to summon the souls of unbaptised children. ‘We must change our habits’, say the sages at the AMCS, ‘and break the deadly cycle’.

For advice on matters of impending doom, the ancient Assyrians turned to the soothsayer, ‘the frenzied woman from whose lips the god speaks’. Her prophecies were self-evidently beyond question; to deny her word was tantamount to apostasy. Today we ascribe environmentalists with the omniscient virtues of the soothsayer. Their wild claims on the deleterious qualities of plastic, like their wild long-term weather forecasts, are seldom questioned.

Plastic sceptics are assumed to be in the pay of Big Checkout and lacking in compassion for our suffering airborne and aquatic friends. When Tesco says it has reduced the number of bags it gives away, its claims are regarded as dubious, since it has a ‘vested interest’ in lining its own pocket. Not-for-profit campaigners, on the other hand, are afforded great respect in media interviews. As valiant campaigners against callous slaughter, they are immune to baser motives, like raising money for a cause that allows them to pay their mortgage.

Curiously for a newspaper that has shown admirable scepticism towards climate claims, the Mail appears to have swallowed the checkout catastrophe theory hook, line and sinker. The tabloid and its readers are understandably fed up with Eurocrats who presume to impose national law, yet Westminster’s craven response to this particularly moral crusade is treated with indifference. The Mail, an organ that presents itself as a supporter of consumer rights, seems unconcerned at this regressive impost on supermarket shoppers. Five pence a bag will be of little, if any, consequence to the average merchant banker; it is a tenth of the price of Waitrose gourmet pork sausages with black pepper and nutmeg. For the price-conscious shoppers in Morrisons, however, a shilling is half the cost of a banger.

Those who make a virtue of their compassion for the poor and vulnerable have been notably silent on this point, for turtles trump people in the ecological hierarchy of concerns. Looking for logic or consistency in the arguments of the bob-a-bag vigilantes, however, is a futile exercise. This is public policy based on gut instinct rather than evidence.

The Productivity Commission, the Australian government’s independent policy research body, considered the case for regulating plastic bags in 2006 and concluded: ‘The case for proceeding with the phase out of plastic bags appears particularly weak.’ Plastic bags accounted for a mere 0.2 per cent of solid waste in landfill disposal. The inert nature of plastic meant its environmental impact was low and there was some evidence that it helped stabilise landfill and reduce leaching and greenhouse gas emissions. An Australian government report in 2002 concluded: ‘Actual numbers of animals injured or killed annually by plastic-bag litter is obviously nearly impossible to determine.’

The most commonly-quoted death toll – 100,000 – came from a 20-year-old Canadian study on fishing nets and tackle. ‘A more cost-effective approach to addressing the underlying issues of concern would be to target plastic-bag litter directly’, the Productivity Commission recommended. Anti-littering and anti-dumping laws should be enforced. Community education and action schemes should be encouraged. Tidy-town awards and volunteer clean-up days have a double benefit; they produce a healthier environment and healthier communities.

Under Australia’s federal system, the state of South Australia is the equivalent of the crash-test dummy when it comes to appraising the efficacy of nanny-state legislation. It is the state that banned smoking in mental hospitals to ‘provide a clear message to the community’ but still allows smoking in prisons.  It is the state that set up a Cat and Dog Management Board to lecture citizens about responsible pet ownership and gives free surfing lessons to graffiti vandals to try to wean them off aerosols. And it is home to the parliament that passed the Plastic Shopping Bags (Waste Avoidance) Act 2008 because it could not trust its citizens to throw them in the bin.

Under the legislation, a South Australian shopkeeper who fails to charge for a lightweight plastic bag, ‘as a means of carrying goods purchased, or to be purchased, from the retailer’, faces a $5,000 fine. The retailer can gain exemption if ‘he or she believed on reasonable grounds that the bag was not a plastic shopping bag’. The law comes down hard, however, on a person who attempts to present a plastic shopping bag as something other than a plastic shopping bag. Section 6 of the 2008 Act is clear: ‘If a person sells, supplies or provides a bag to another knowing that it is a plastic shopping bag; and… represents to the other that the bag is not a plastic shopping bag, the person is guilty of an offence. Maximum penalty: $20,000.’

The South Australian government claims that it ‘leads the nation’ in the crusade against lightweight, single-use, disposable bags, and that there will be 40million fewer of them as a result. That figure, like every other statistic in this field, is dubious to say the least.

The inconvenience to customers has been considerable and there are unintended consequences; householders are running out of bags to line the bin. Zero Waste SA, one of South Australia’s many statutory authorities, has stepped in with a handy factsheet titled ‘The Bin-Liner Dilemma’. It notes that abandoning the bin liner altogether would reduce the volume of solid waste entering landfill, but would introduce other problems. Water use increases, since bins require washing more frequently. The use of bin-cleaning products has increased, along with the associated environmental impacts.

Plastic bags, it transpires, have their good points after all. Plastic-lined dustbins are odourless and discourage vermin. Naked bins, on the other hand, pose health risks for garbage collectors, and burden them with additional work. The risk of accidental littering increases, the factsheet notes, particularly ‘if waste is collected in windy conditions’. Zero Waste concludes: ‘There remains no clear “environmental impact-free” solution to the bin-liner dilemma.’

And in any case, is the consumption of plastic bags really that bad, or is our aversion to them just another food fad? It may seem a flippant question, but a recent report in the Mail suggests it is not. ‘Man addicted to eating plastic bags’, reads the headline. ‘They’re delicious’, says Robert, 23, from Oakland, Tennessee, who claims to have been eating plastic bags since he was seven years old. We are led to believe he has eaten 60,000 in his lifetime and cruises the neighbourhood when he gets peckish in search of a discarded bag. His fiance persuaded him to see a doctor, but ‘even though eating plastic can cause liver damage and intestinal blockages, Robert’s tests come back OK’.

It’s a story that just about sums up everything the Mail has published about plastic bags. Hard to swallow. 


Cellulosic alcohol hits a rock

Contrary to popular ‘green’ beliefs, a study funded by the US federal government argues that corn-based biofuels are actually worse for the environment than gasoline, as they emit more greenhouse gasses and deplete soil carbon.

The $500,000 peer-reviewed analysis by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, published in an issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, claims that cellulosic biofuels like ethanol, produced from residue, the byproduct of harvested corn (left-over leaves, cobs etc.) lead to a 7-percent increase in emissions, as well as 62 grams above the 60-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions stipulated in the law on energy targets of 2007.

This is a setback for those lobbying for cleaner fuels, who wish to combat climate change. The federal government has been trying to push through mandates for increasing ethanol production to promote the idea of clean alternatives to gasoline. They invested over $1 billion in federal funds to support cellulosic biofuel research. But ethanol-based fuel alternatives have so far been a more expensive, cumbersome venture.

This should make farmers happy, as soil erosion has always been a problem, as well as the issue of retaining residue for nourishing and preserving soil quality.

According to experts in the field, the research is long overdue and is the first attempt to quantify the effect of ethanol-based biofuel on carbon depletion in soil. It looked at production in 12 Corn Belt states.

The key conclusion is that when left to be absorbed naturally by the soil, the leaves, stalks and cobs are more beneficial for the soil than when it is later burned as fuel and the residue gives off carbon into the atmosphere. As a result, the study concludes the process contributes to global warming.

"If less residue is removed, there is less decrease in soil carbon, but it results in a smaller biofuel energy yield," Adam Liska, the professor in charge of the study said, adding that the results of the study were in line with his expectations and that he’s “amazed [the findings have] not come out more solidly until now.”

As a preventive measure against depriving the soil of carbon it gets from corn residue – and to reduce carbon emissions - the research suggests planting more crops to give the earth the carbon it needs; it also talks of using alternative feed stocks and sources of residue, as well as harnessing more electricity from carbon-fuel stations, as opposed to coal-operated ones.

The study received a swift response from government officials and oil businesses, who say the research is flawed, as it uses scenarios that are firstly too simplistic, because they don’t account for variations in carbon depletion from soil in a given field; secondly, they are seen as too extreme in overestimating how much residue is removed.

According to Jan Koninckx, who is the global business director for bio refineries at DuPont, a chemical company, “no responsible farmer or business would ever employ [the study’s suggestions], because it would ruin both the land and the long-term supply of feedstock. It makes no agronomic or business sense.”

But Liska believes that this is, in fact, the first study that got the carbon depletion math as close to the truth as possible.

And, as professor David Tilman of the University of Minnesota said in support of the study: “It will be very hard to make a biofuel that has a better greenhouse gas impact than gasoline using corn residue,”


Germany Shelves Shale-Gas Drilling For Next Seven Years

Planned Regulations Come Amid Political Standoff With Russia, Germany's Main Gas Supplier

Germany plans to halt shale-gas drilling for the next seven years over concerns that exploration techniques could pollute groundwater.

"There won't be [shale-gas] fracking in Germany for the foreseeable future," Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said Friday.

The planned regulations come amid a political standoff with Russia, Germany's main natural gas supplier, and following intensive lobbying from environmentalists and brewers concerned about possible drinking-water contamination.

The production of shale gas requires the application of the hydraulic fracturing technology known as fracking, which involves using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to break apart rocks to release the gas. The government plans to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing technology for drilling operations shallower than 3,000 meters (1.9 miles) and hopes to get a bill ready early next year.

The government will reassess the ban in 2021.

"Protecting drinking water and health has the highest value for us," Ms. Hendricks said.

Fracking technology has been used since the 1960s in Germany, allowing the industry to maximize the output of conventional gas fields. Although there is currently an oversupply of natural gas in Europe, prices in Germany are much higher than in the U.S. where fracking is used extensively.

But Germans are suspicious of fracking, fearing that it could pollute drinking water. Shale-gas carrying rock formations tend to be closer to the surface, and therefore closer to groundwater deposits.

While fracking for conventional gas deposits will remain permitted, the government will tighten rules aimed at preventing water contamination from fluids released during the fracking process.

A ban on fracking for shale gas is consistent with previous comments from leading lawmakers, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. In its coalition agreement, the government last year stated that it "rejects the application of toxic substances" in oil and gas extraction. The coalition, which groups Ms. Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats, has said fracking should pose no risk to water supplies.

It has said, however, that it could change its mind if the energy industry were to improve its environmental track record and replace toxic substances with harmless ones.

While the new regulations are aimed at cementing an effective moratorium on shale-gas production in Germany, they also pave the way for a reinvigoration of conventional gas production.

Public opposition to fracking had prompted state regulators to restrict almost all gas extraction that involves fracking. And the gas industry has blamed dwindling domestic gas production on the authorities' restrictive approval practices.

German domestic gas production declined by around 10% in 2012 and again in 2013, due partly to the fracking ban, according to Wintershall AG, Germany's largest gas and oil producer.

Declining gas production has already hit public budgets. Before the fracking ban, Germany's gas industry contributed roughly €600 million ($816 million) annually in taxes and other income to Lower Saxony's budget. In the coming years, the state is projecting income of around €400 million, the state government has said.

Fracking proponents in Germany have said it could boost the country's economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The West's rising tensions with Moscow over Ukraine has also prompted calls for more indigenous gas production to reduce reliance on Russian energy supplies.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


4 July, 2014

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Hoax

A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could mean bad news for environmental doomsayers. Forget all those warnings about the million tons of plastic debris floating in the ocean. Ignore the photos that you think show the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Andres Cozar of the University of Cadiz in Spain is the man who once extrapolated the 1 million-ton estimate. Since then, however, he has led research that collected samples at 141 ocean sites. Cozar's new estimate: Between 7,000 and 35,000 tons of plastic are floating in the ocean.

Cozar's team didn't find country-sized islands of plastic bags strangling baby birds and sea turtles. It found "micro plastics." What people think of as a dump doesn't look like floating junk. Instead, ocean current "convergence zones" are swirling with flecks of plastic -- like a snow globe a half-minute after you shake it -- and with considerably less plastic trash than expected.

Not that plastic in the ocean is a good thing, but it's looking to be less of a peril to the planet than once suggested.

As I read about the Cozar study, I could not help but think of California state Sen. Alex Padilla and his Senate Bill 270, which would ban single-use plastic bags. San Francisco started the plastic bag ban craze in 2007. More than 100 cities in the state have followed as bag ban proponents have shopped two images -- of bags in the ocean and of dead marine life.

The thing is that you don't find whole shopping bags in convergence zones. Peter Davison, an oceanographer with California's Farallon Institute for Advanced Ecosystem Research, told me he frequently has seen plastic bags littering harbors, but in the ocean, one is likelier to come across debris from a fishing fleet and bits of plastic from many sources.

In support of bag bans, the Surfrider Foundation has posted a video that asserts, "Plastics kill 1.5 million marine animals each year."

"I have no idea where they got that number," Joel Baker, environmental science professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma, told me. He has assigned students to track down that number, and "the trail goes cold."

Surfrider now uses a different number -- 100,000 marine animals. As for the 1.5 million figure, Surfrider senior staff scientist Rick Wilson referred me to a United Nations paper with no specific sourcing. Then he said, "I will admit it's difficult to track down a definitive scientific study source for it."

Factoids are almost as indestructible as plastic.

Both Davison and Baker can think of animals that have died from plastic; you can see photos on the Internet. But from bags? Davison found chunks of plastic in about 10 percent of 150 ocean fish he dissected. "We don't know if it kills them or not."

Neither Davison nor Baker likes the idea of plastic in the ocean, and neither would say it is not a problem. As Baker put it, "we don't know what effect it's having on organisms."

We do know, however, that single-use plastic bags require fewer resources than reusable bags -- which you have to wash -- and paper bags. Plastic bags litter harbors but also represent less than 1 percent of the U.S. municipal waste stream. It's a mistake to believe that what might replace them would have no downside.


BBC spends £500k to ask 33,000 Asians 5,000 miles from UK what they think of climate change

The BBC has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money asking 33,000 people in Asian countries how climate change is affecting them.

The £519,000 campaigning survey by little-known BBC Media Action is designed to persuade the world to adopt more hard-line policies to combat global warming.

It was immediately condemned yesterday as a flagrant abuse of the Corporation’s rules on impartiality and ‘a spectacular waste of money’ by a top academic expert.

Every year, BBC Media Action gets £22.2?million from the taxpayer via the Foreign Office and Department for International Development.

Its climate survey, published this month, is called From The Ground Up: Changing The Conversation On Climate Change. In it, farmers and villagers in India, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Pakistan and Indonesia were asked how climate change was ‘affecting their lives already’ and about their future concerns.

They described less predictable rainfall, droughts, declining harvests and an increase in respiratory disease caused by dustier soil, and blamed them on global warming.

The survey does not clarify whether these descriptions are supported by data, nor whether climate change is indeed the cause. It also includes graphs showing a steep rise in global temperatures – but they end abruptly in 2000, when temperatures stopped rising at all.

The report ends with advice, apparently written for climate activists: ‘Do not talk about scientific or technical abstractions. Talk about the problems they face in their daily lives… Speak in language that makes sense to people in terms of how they experience climate change.’

Its website states it ‘belongs to the BBC’, and ‘builds on the fundamental values of the BBC  to guide its work’. Its chairman is Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service Group. Trustees include newsreader George Alagiah.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Media and Culture, said last night he was ‘astonished’ to see the BBC involved with a survey of this kind.

He added: ‘The BBC brand carries with it a huge reputation for impartiality and objectivity. Even though this is not a mainstream, licence-fee-funded activity, for the BBC to attach its label to something which is so politically controversial is unwise.

The BBC has already been attacked for paying too little attention to climate change sceptics, and this bears those criticisms out.’

Richard Tol, professor of economics at Sussex University and a leading authority on climate change impacts, said the BBC ‘would have been better advised to invest this money in proper research’.

He said the survey’s assertions are often contradicted by more reliable sources. He said: ‘Objective data  do not corroborate the survey’s reported impacts on health, droughts, predictability of rainfall, and crop yields. Attribution of any of these effects to climate change  is by and large beyond the current level of scientific knowledge.’

Prof Tol was one of the ‘co-ordinating lead authors’ of a report on the consequences of warming by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in March.

UN figures show harvests have been rising across Asia for decades. The March IPCC report stated: ‘The worldwide burden of ill-health from climate change is relatively small compared with effects of other stressors and is not well quantified.’

On rainfall, it stated: ‘There is now low confidence in the attribution of changes in drought since the mid-20th Century to human influence.’

Prof Tol said the survey results were academically worthless: ‘Interviewing 30,000 people across six countries is expensive, and cannot tell us much – previous research has shown people’s recollection of past weather and climate is very unreliable, and people’s attribution of observations to causes is worse.’

The BBC survey’s campaigning intention is suggested by a chapter entitled The Policy Context which tells readers that next year, world leaders will meet at a UN summit in Paris to hammer out a new treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

‘2015 is a propitious moment for reorienting the way that we talk about climate change,’ the survey report says. The Paris talks will ‘open a window of opportunity… to articulate a climate change perspective rooted in people’s needs’.

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which argues that the threat from climate change is overblown, said it seemed Media Action was ‘the campaigning arm of the BBC, [its] propaganda bureau’ and the survey is ‘a blatant abuse of the BBC charter’.

A spokesman for BBC Media Action confirmed the survey’s £519,000 cost but declined to comment on its alleged lack of impartiality.


Death by Delay

by Viv Forbes

There was a time, before the baby-boom generation took over, when we took pride in the achievements of our builders, producers and innovators. There was always great celebration when settler families got a phone, a tractor, a bitumen road or electric power. An oil strike or a gold discovery made headlines, and people welcomed new businesses, new railways and new inventions. Science and engineering were revered and the wealth delivered by these human achievements enabled the builders and their children to live more rewarding lives, with more leisure, more time for culture and crusades, and greater interest in taking more care of their environment.

Then a green snake entered the Garden of Eden.

Many of the genuine conservationists from the original environmental societies were replaced by political extremists who felt lost after the Comrade Societies collapsed and China joined the trading world. These zealots were mainly interested in promoting environmental alarms in order to push a consistent agenda of world control of production, distribution and exchange – a new global utopia run by unelected all-knowing people just like them.

The old Reds became the new Greens.

They used every credible-sounding scare to recruit support – peak resources, acid rain, ozone holes, global cooling, species extinction, food security, Barrier Reef threats, global warming or extreme weather to justify global controls, no-go areas and international taxes to limit all human activities. However the public became disenchanted with their politics of denial, and their opposition to human progress, so they have adopted a new tactic – death by delay.

“We are not opposed to all development, but we want to ensure all environmental concerns are fully investigated before new developments get approval.”

In fact, their goal is to kill projects with costly regulations, investigations and delay. Their technique is to grab control of bureaucratic bodies like the US EPA which, since 2009, has issued 2,827 new regulations totalling 24,915,000 words. A current example of death by delay is the Keystone Oil pipeline proposal which would have taken crude oil from Alberta in Canada to refineries on the US Gulf Coast – far better than sending it by rail tankers. It was first proposed in 2005, and immediately opposed by the anti-industry, anti-carbon zealots who control the EPA and other arms of the US federal government. The proposal was studied to death by US officials and green busybodies for nine long years.

This week the Canadians lost patience and approved an alternative proposal to take a pipeline to the west coast of Canada, allowing more Albertan oil to be exported to Asia. Jobs and resources that would have benefitted Americans will now go to Asia. Naturally the Green delayers will also attempt to throttle this proposal. Over in Europe, shale gas exploration is also being subject to death by delay. In Britain, the pioneering company, Caudrilla, has been waiting for seven long years for approvals to explore. In France, all such exploration is banned.

No wonder India recently accused Greenpeace and other delayers of being “a threat to national economic security”.


Turning off street lights to save money blamed for six deaths

Switching off street lights to save money has contributed to at least six deaths in five years, the AA has warned.

Five pedestrians and one cyclist have been knocked over and killed on roads where councils turned off the lights, according to the motoring group.

It said accident investigators at the inquests ruled drivers had little or no chance of avoiding the collisions on unlit streets with speed limits of 40mph or higher. And it  predicted the problem would ‘get worse’ as councils continued to black out lights.

Road safety campaigners have long warned of the dangers of unlit streets as councils continue to dim or turn off their lights to make savings and meet climate change targets. The AA said some town halls were failing to ‘recognise the dangers’.

In one of the most alarming cases, a coroner blasted a council over its trial of switching off street lights following the death of a 76-year-old widow.

Margaret Beeson was hit by a car on the A40 between Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, in the early evening of January 21, 2009.

The inquest exonerated driver Phillip Galligan, who was travelling below the speed limit, as the darkness meant he had ‘no chance at all’ of avoiding her.

In another case, father-of-five Dr John Bendor-Samuel, 81, died after being hit by a car while crossing the road in Studley Green, Buckinghamshire, on January 6, 2011.

Collision investigators told his inquest the vehicle appeared to be travelling within the speed limit.

Police said street lighting, which had been turned off along the 40mph stretch of road by Buckinghamshire County Council as part of a cost-cutting exercise, could have saved his life.

AA president Edmund King said: ‘There is growing evidence that cost savings from councils turning off street lights are being paid for with lives. Inquests point to a particular danger on roads with speed limits of 40mph or higher.

‘For that reason, drivers have no choice but to slow down and switch to full beam on faster town roads where late-night street lighting used to make roads and streets safer places to travel.

‘Many of these inquests clear the drivers of blame, which means these tragic deaths are accidents waiting to happen. With many more councils switching off their street lights for at least part of the night, the tragedy will just get worse.

‘At what point will the Government take action or help councils to finance the switch to energy-saving street lights: 10, 15, 20 inquests later?’

The AA investigation followed research in April which showed there were fewer accident reductions between 2007 and 2012 on 40mph roads where street lights had been switched off.

Last year, a survey found that a third of councils have switched off street lights to save money, while nearly half are making streets darker by dimming bulbs.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England found that of 71 local authorities which responded, 23 switched off street lights - typically between midnight and 5am - and 32 dimmed lights.

Councils were mainly motivated by a desire to save energy and money, with the reduction of light pollution ‘an additional benefit’.

Bradford council is running a dimming scheme designed to save £400,000 a year and reduce power consumption by 25 per cent. Essex County Council expects to save £1million per year by introducing a part-night lighting scheme.

A Local Government Association spokesman said: ‘Councils always consider the safety implications before turning off street lights, monitor subsequent safety statistics and act if presented with evidence of a public safety risk.’


UK green taxes hit record high of £43 billion

UK households and businesses paid a record £43 billion in green taxes last year, new official figures show.  The Treasury’s revenues from environmental levies increased by £1.7 billion last year, from £41.3 billion in 2012. They have soared from £30.4 billion in 2003.

The total green tax revenues for 2013 are the equivalent of £1,629 for every household - up from £1,564 in 2012 and £1,221 per household in 2003.

However, the ONS said that the majority of the bill was paid by businesses, not domestic consumers.

More than £500 million of the increase in the green taxes last year was due to rising renewable energy levies to subsidise the construction of wind and solar farms and other green technologies

These levies accounted for £2.4 billion of the total last year, up from just £382 million a decade ago, reflecting the huge expansion of heavily-subsidised green technologies to meet climate change targets.

Each UK household paid a £30 levy on their energy bill to subsidise such large-scale renewable energy projects through the Renewable Obligation in 2013, according to energy department figures.

The cost to consumers of such green taxes has become increasingly controversial. Ministers have pledged to roll back green levies on bills to help ease the burden for consumers.

However, the Treasury has already approved a significant increase in such levies, to £7.6 billion in 2020. By that point subsidies for large green energy projects could cost £71 per household.

Of the £43 billion green tax revenues last year, the biggest chunk was £26.7 billion paid in taxes on fuels such as petrol and diesel. Revenues from this kind of tax have risen from £22.5 billion in 2003.

Over the decade, tax revenues from petrol decreased, as rising prices prompted motorists to economise or switch to diesel vehicles. Takings from diesel rose significantly.

Motoring groups have long complained that takes on fuels in the UK are some of the highest Europe.

Other transport taxes have also soared from £5.6 billion a decade ago to £10.3 billion.

The introduction of a banding system for vehicle excise duty in the mid-2000s contributed to this increase, as did a big increase in revenues from air passenger duty - reflecting both a higher levy and rising passenger numbers.

The ONS was unable to say how much of the £43 billion each household would pay but said that “commercial and industrial revenue would account for the majority of this total”.

“This doesn’t mean each household is paying £1,629,” they said.

“Revenue from environmentally related taxes (in current prices) has gradually increased over the past two decades, peaking at £43.0 billion in 2013.

“This represented 7.5 per cent of total revenue from taxes and social contributions in the UK and was equivalent to 2.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” it said.

The figures are all expressed in today’s prices, which strip out the impact of inflation.


Australian Greens in turmoil over fuel tax

You would think that Greens would welcome a fuel tax increase but this lot show their complete lack of principle by opposing it.  To them hate of the conservative government comes first

Continuing anger within the Greens over the party's "perverse" decision to block inflation-based adjustments to the federal petrol tax rate could spell fresh trouble for its leader, Christine Milne.

The Abbott government wants to restore indexation to the excise, which has been frozen at 38¢ a litre for 12 years.

The move would add between 40¢ and 60¢ a week to the average household fuel bill.

Senator Milne, who first flagged supporting the change and then announced her party's opposition after losing the debate in her party room, could now face pressure for a second U-turn, this time led by a grassroots members' revolt.

NSW senator Lee Rhiannon is pushing to overturn the stance amid what one Greens member called "despair" across the green base.

A meeting has been called for Saturday at the Sydney Mechanics Institute, where NSW branch members are expected to advocate a return to the party's original position in the interests of policy integrity.

In a sign of the intense divisions over the issue, Senator Rhiannon has invited members to have their say, even though the policy has been finalised, setting up a situation in which the party room has one policy and the membership another.

The Greens' constitution in NSW means Senator Rhiannon could be compelled by the membership to vote contrary to her leader, although that would have to come from a formal council meeting.

Despite that risk, Senator Rhiannon used a party-wide email to declare she was "interested to hear from members" about the issue.

Last week Senator Milne said the party would block the increase because the government would not use the money raised to invest in public transport, or to cut fuel subsidies for large mining companies.

But Greens inside the party room and in the broader movement conceded that the main reason for opposing the increase was "political".

The main advocates of the change were Deputy Leader Adam Bandt, Ms Milne's fellow Tasmanian senator Peter Whish-Wilson, and West Australian senator Scott Ludlam.

A senior Greens source called it politics over policy.  "They just can't come at giving Tony Abbott a win, even where it is consistent with our own policy," the exasperated member complained.

The decision appears to have doomed the $4 billion budget measure because the Coalition had been relying on support from the Greens to get it through the Senate.

It was not an unreasonable expectation. Historically, the Greens have favoured higher relative prices for polluting fossil fuels.

Greens senators have received "stacks" of emails from disappointed constituents over the reversal, as well as official correspondence from at least one state branch protesting against the decision.

The fight over petrol comes as some in the renewable energy sector expressed concerns over the Greens' handling of the Clive Palmer compromise to ditch the carbon tax but keep the renewable energy target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Climate Change Authority



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


3 July, 2014

Goddard was right after all

Anthony Watts climbs down below. A climate record that people rely on to justify billions of dollars  of panic spending is now admitted to contain extensive "zombie" data.  Watts is still apologizing for the Warmist "scientists" as he obviously wants to be loved.  But he has no explanation for the fact that most of the "errors" are in the Warmist direction.  If you are aware of the extensive exposition of crookedness at NOAA by Roger Pielke Sr., you would be much less optimistic about the Warmist "scientists" than Watts is

Sometimes, you can believe you are entirely right while simultaneously believing that you’ve done due diligence. That’s what confirmation bias is all about. In this case, a whole bunch of people, including me, got a severe case of it.

I’m talking about the claim made by Steve Goddard that 40% of the USHCN data is “fabricated”. which I and few other people thought was clearly wrong.

Dr. Judith Curry and I have been conversing a lot via email over the past two days, and she has written an illuminating essay that explores the issue raised by Goddard and the sociology going on. See her essay:

Steve Goddard aka Tony Heller deserves the credit for the initial finding, Paul Homewood deserves the credit for taking the finding and establishing it in a more comprehensible way that opened closed eyes, including mine, in his post entitled Massive Temperature Adjustments At Luling, Texas.  Along with that is his latest followup, showing the problem isn’t limited to Texas, but also in Kansas. And there’s more about this below.

Goddard early on (June 2) gave me his source code that made his graph, but I couldn’t get it to compile and run. That’s probably more my fault than his, as I’m not an expert in C++ computer language. Had I been able to, things might have gone differently. Then there was the fact that the problem Goddard noted doesn’t show up in GHCN data and I didn’t see the problem in any of the data we had for our USHCN surface stations analysis.

But, the thing that really put up a wall for me was this moment on June 1st, shortly after getting Goddard’s first email with his finding, which I pointed out in On ‘denying’ Hockey Sticks, USHCN data, and all that – part 1.

Goddard initially claimed 40% of the STATIONS were missing, which I said right away was not possible. It raised my hackles, and prompted my “you need to do better” statement. Then he switched the text in his post from stations to data while I was away for a couple of hours at my daughter’s music recital. When I returned, I noted the change, with no note of the change on his post, and that is what really put up the wall for me. He probably looked at it like he was just fixing a typo, I looked at it like it was sweeping an important distinction under the rug.

All of that added up to a big heap of confirmation bias, I was so used to Goddard being wrong, I expected it again, but this time Steve Goddard was right and my confirmation bias prevented me from seeing that there was in fact a real issue in the data and that NCDC has dead stations that are reporting data that isn’t real: mea culpa.

But, that’s the same problem many climate scientists have, they are used to some skeptics being wrong on some issues, so they put up a wall. That is why the careful and exacting analyses we see from Steve McIntyre should be a model for us all. We have to “do better” to make sure that claims we make are credible, documented, phrased in non-inflammatory language, understandable, and most importantly, right.

Otherwise, walls go up, confirmation bias sets in.

Now that the wall is down, NCDC won’t be able to ignore this, even John Nielsen-Gammon, who was critical of Goddard along with me in the Polifact story now says there is a real problem. So does Zeke, and we have all sent or forwarded email to NCDC advising them of it.

I’ve also been on the phone Friday with the assistant director of NCDC and chief scientist (Tom Peterson), and also with the person in charge of USHCN (Matt Menne). Both were quality, professional conversations, and both thanked me for bringing it to their attention.  There is lots of email flying back and forth too.

They are taking this seriously, they have to, as final data as currently presented for USHCN is clearly wrong. John Neilsen-Gammon sent me a cursory analysis for Texas USHCN stations, noting he found a number of stations that had “estimated” data in place of actual good data that NCDC has in hand, and appears in the RAW USHCN data file on their FTP site

What is going on is that the USHCN code is that while the RAW data file has the actual measurements, for some reason the final data they publish doesn’t get the memo that good data is actually present for these stations, so it “infills” it with estimated data using data from surrounding stations. It’s a bug, a big one. And as Zeke did a cursory analysis Thursday night, he discovered it was systemic to the entire record, and up to 10% of stations have “estimated” data spanning over a century:

And here is the real kicker, “Zombie weather stations” exist in the USHCN final data set that are still generating data, even though they have been closed.

Remember Marysville, CA, the poster child for bad station siting? It was the station that gave me my “light bulb moment” on the issue of station siting.

It was closed just a couple of months after I introduced it to the world as the prime example of “How not to measure temperature”. The MMTS sensor was in a parking lot, with hot air from a/c units from the nearby electronics sheds for the cell phone tower:

Guess what? Like Luling, TX, which is still open, but getting estimated data in place of the actual data in the final USHCN data file, even though it was marked closed in 2007 by NOAA’s own metadata, Marysville is still producing estimated monthly data, marked with an “E” flag:

There are quite a few “zombie weather stations” in the USHCN final dataset, possibly up to 25% out of the 1218 that is the total number of stations. In my conversations with NCDC on Friday, I’m told these were kept in and “reporting” as a policy decision to provide a “continuity” of data for scientific purposes. While there “might” be some justification for that sort of thinking, few people know about it there’s no disclaimer or caveat in the USHCN FTP folder at NCDC or in the readme file that describes this, they “hint” at it saying:

"The composition of the network remains unchanged at 1218 stations"

But that really isn’t true, as some USHCN stations out of the 1218 have been closed and are no longer reporting real data, but instead are reporting estimated data.

NCDC really should make this clear, and while it “might” be OK to produce a datafile that has estimated data in it, not everyone is going to understand what that means, and that the stations that have been long dead are producing estimated data. NCDC has failed in notifying the public, and even their colleagues of this. Even the Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon didn’t know about these “zombie” stations until I showed him. If he had known, his opinion might have been different on the Goddard issue. When even professional people in your sphere of influence don’t know you are doing dead weather station data infills like this, you can be sure that your primary mission to provide useful data is FUBAR.

NCDC needs to step up and fix this along with other problems that have been identified.

And they are, I expect some sort of a statement, and possibly a correction next week. In the meantime, let’s let them do their work and go through their methodology. It will not be helpful to ANYONE if we start beating up the people at NCDC ahead of such a statement and/or correction.

And there is yet another issue: The recent change of something called “climate divisions” to calculate the national and state temperatures.

Certified Consulting Meteorologist and Fellow of the AMS Joe D’Aleo writes in with this:

"I had downloaded the Maine annual temperature plot from NCDC Climate at a Glance in 2013 for a talk. There was no statistically significant trend since 1895. Note the spike in 1913 following super blocking from Novarupta in Alaska (similar to the high latitude volcanoes in late 2000s which helped with the blocking and maritime influence that spiked 2010 as snow was gone by March with a steady northeast maritime Atlantic flow). 1913 was close to 46F. and the long term mean just over 41F.

Seemingly in a panic change late this frigid winter to NCDC, big changes occurred. I wanted to update the Maine plot for another talk and got this from NCDC CAAG.

Note that 1913 was cooled nearly 5 degrees F and does not stand out. There is a warming of at least 3 degrees F since 1895 (they list 0.23/decade) and the new mean is close to 40F.

Does anybody know what the REAL temperature of Maine is/was/is supposed to be? I sure as hell don’t. I don’t think NCDC really does either."

In closing…

Besides moving toward a more accurate temperature record, the best thing about all this hoopla over the USHCN data set is the Polifact story where we have all these experts lined up (including me as the token skeptic) that stated without a doubt that Goddard was wrong and rated the claim “pants of fire”.

They’ll all be eating some crow, as will I, but now that I have Gavin for dinner company, I don’t really mind at all.

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

What a nit!

"There is no such thing as right and wrong"  -- except when it suits Leftists, of course.  And climate change is WRONG!


The prominent Australian earth scientist, Tim Flannery, closes his recent book Here on Earth: A New Beginning with the words “… if we do not strive to love one another, and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves, then no further progress is possible here on Earth”. This is a remarkable conclusion to his magisterial survey of the state of the planet. Climatic and other environmental changes are showing us not only the extent of human influence on the planet, but also the limits of programmatic management of this influence, whether through political, economic, technological or social engineering. A changing climate is a condition of modernity, but a condition which modernity seems uncomfortable with. Inspired by the recent “environmental turn” in the humanities—and calls from a range of environmental scholars and scientists such as Flannery—I wish to suggest a different, non-programmatic response to climate change: a reacquaintance with the ancient and religious ideas of virtue and its renaissance in the field of virtue ethics. Drawing upon work by Alasdair MacIntyre, Melissa Lane and Tom Wright, I outline an apologetic for why the cultivation of virtue is an appropriate response to the challenges of climate change.


Swapping Climate Models for a Roll of the Dice

One of the greatest failures of climate science has been the dismal performance of general circulation models (GCM) to accurately predict Earth's future climate. For more than three decades huge predictive models, run on the biggest supercomputers available, have labored mighty and turned out garbage. Their most obvious failure was missing the now almost eighteen year “hiatus,” the pause in temperature rise that has confounded climate alarmists and serious scientists alike. So poor has been the models' performance that some climate scientists are calling for them to be torn down and built anew, this time using different principles. They want to adopt stochastic methods—so called Monte Carlo simulations based on probabilities and randomness—in place of today’s physics based models.

It is an open secret that computer climate models just aren't very good. Recently scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) compared the predictions of 20 major climate models against the past six decades of climate data. According to Ben Kirtman, a climate scientist at the University of Miami in Florida and IPCC AR5 coordinating author, the results were disappointing. According to a report in Science, “the models performed well in predicting the global mean surface temperature and had some predictive value in the Atlantic Ocean, but they were virtually useless at forecasting conditions over the vast Pacific Ocean.”

Just how bad the models are can be seen in a graph that has been widely seen around the Internet. Generated by John Christy, Richard McNider, and Roy Spencer, the graph has generated more heat than global warming, with climate modeling apologists firing off rebuttal after rebuttal. Problem is, the models still suck, as you can see from the figure below.

Regardless of the warmists' quibbles the truth is plain to see, climate models miss the mark. But then, this comes as no surprise to those who work with climate models. In the Science article, “A touch of the random,” science writer Colin Macilwain lays out the problem: “researchers have usually aimed for a deterministic solution: a single scenario for how climate will respond to inputs such as greenhouse gases, obtained through increasingly detailed and sophisticated numerical simulations. The results have been scientifically informative—but critics charge that the models have become unwieldy, hobbled by their own complexity. And no matter how complex they become, they struggle to forecast the future.”

Macliwain describes the current crop of models this way:

"One key reason climate simulations are bad at forecasting is that it's not what they were designed to do. Researchers devised them, in the main, for another purpose: exploring how different components of the system interact on a global scale. The models start by dividing the atmosphere into a huge 3D grid of boxlike elements, with horizontal edges typically 100 kilometers long and up to 1 kilometer high. Equations based on physical laws describe how variables in each box—mainly pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind speed—influence matching variables in adjacent ones. For processes that operate at scales much smaller than the grid, such as cloud formation, scientists represent typical behavior across the grid element with deterministic formulas that they have refined over many years. The equations are then solved by crunching the whole grid in a supercomputer."

It's not that the modelers haven't tried to improve their play toys. Over the years all sorts of new factors have been added, each adding more complexity to the calculations and hence slowing down the computation. But that is not where the real problem lies. The irreducible source of error in current models is the grid size.

Indeed, I have complained many times in this blog that the fineness of the grid is insufficient to the problem at hand. This is because many phenomena are much smaller than the grid boxes, tropical storms for instance represent huge energy transfers from the ocean surface to the upper atmosphere and can be totally missed. Other factors—things like rainfall and cloud formation—also happen at sub-grid size scales.

“The truth is that the level of detail in the models isn't really determined by scientific constraints,” says Tim Palmer, a physicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom who advocates stochastic approaches to climate modeling. “It is determined entirely by the size of the computers.”

The problem is that to halve the sized of the grid divisions requires an order-of-magnitude increase in computer power. Making the grid fine enough is just not possible with today's technology.

In light of this insurmountable problem, some researchers go so far as to demand a major overhaul, scrapping the current crop of models altogether. Taking clues from meteorology and other sciences, the model reformers say the old physics based models should be abandoned and new models, based on stochastic methods, need to be written from the ground up. Pursuing this goal, a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A will publish 14 papers setting out a framework for stochastic climate modeling. Here is a description of the topic:

"This Special Issue is based on a workshop at Oriel College Oxford in 2013 that brought together, for the first time, weather and climate modellers on the one hand and computer scientists on the other, to discuss the role of inexact and stochastic computation in weather and climate prediction. The scientific basis for inexact and stochastic computing is that the closure (or parametrisation) problem for weather and climate models is inherently stochastic. Small-scale variables in the model necessarily inherit this stochasticity. As such it is wasteful to represent these small scales with excessive precision and determinism. Inexact and stochastic computing could be used to reduce the computational costs of weather and climate simulations due to savings in power consumption and an increase in computational performance without loss of accuracy. This could in turn open the door to higher resolution simulations and hence more accurate forecasts."

In one of the papers in the special edition, “Stochastic modelling and energy-efficient computing for weather and climate prediction,” Tim Palmer, Peter Düben, and Hugh McNamara state the stochastic modeler's case:

"[A] new paradigm for solving the equations of motion of weather and climate is beginning to emerge. The basis for this paradigm is the power-law structure observed in many climate variables. This power-law structure indicates that there is no natural way to delineate variables as ‘large’ or ‘small’—in other words, there is no absolute basis for the separation in numerical models between resolved and unresolved variables."

In other words, we are going to estimate what we don't understand and hope those pesky problems of scale just go away. “A first step towards making this division less artificial in numerical models has been the generalization of the parametrization process to include inherently stochastic representations of unresolved processes,” they state. “A knowledge of scale-dependent information content will help determine the optimal numerical precision with which the variables of a weather or climate model should be represented as a function of scale.” It should also be noted that these guys are pushing “inexact” or fuzzy computer hardware to better accommodate their ideas, but that does not change the importance of their criticism of current modeling techniques.

So what is this “stochastic computing” that is supposed to cure all of climate modeling's ills? It is actually something quite old, often referred to as Monte Carlo simulation. In probability theory, a purely stochastic system is one whose state is non-deterministic—in other words, random. The subsequent state of the system is determined probabilistically using randomly generated numbers, the computer equivalent of throwing dice. Any system or process that must be analyzed using probability theory is stochastic at least in part. Perhaps the most famous early use was by Enrico Fermi in 1930, when he used a random method to calculate the properties of the newly discovered neutron. Nowadays, the technique is used by professionals in such widely disparate fields as finance, project management, energy, manufacturing, engineering, research and development, insurance, oil & gas, transportation, and the environment.

Monte Carlo simulation generates a range of possible outcomes and the probabilities with which they will occur. Monte Carlo techniques are quite useful for simulating systems with many coupled degrees of freedom, such as fluids, disordered materials, strongly coupled solids, and weather forecasts. Other examples include modeling phenomena with significant uncertainty in inputs, which certainly applies to climate modeling. Unlike current GCM, this approach does not seek to simulate natural, physical processes, but rather to capture the random nature of various factors and then make many simulations, called an ensemble.

Since the 1990s, ensemble forecasts have been used as routine forecasts to account for the inherent uncertainty of weather processes. This involves analyzing multiple forecasts created with an individual forecast model by using different physical parameters and/or varying the initial conditions. Such ensemble forecasts have been used to help define forecast uncertainty and to extend forecasting further into the future than otherwise possible. Still, as we all know, even the best weather forecasts are only good for five or six days before they diverge from reality.

An example can be seen in the tracking of Atlantic hurricanes. It is now common for the nightly weather forecast during hurricane season to include a probable track for a hurricane approaching the US mainland. The probable track is derived from many individual model runs.

Can stochastic models be successfully applied to climate change? Such models are based on a current state which is the starting point for generating many future forecasts. The outputs are based on randomness filtered through observed (or guessed at) probabilities. This, in theory, can account for such random events as tropical cyclones and volcanic eruptions more accurately than today's method of just applying an average guess across all simulation cells. The probabilities are based on previous observations, which means that the simulations are only valid if the system does not change in any significant way in the future.

And here in lies the problem with shifting to stochastic simulations of climate change. It is well know that Earth's climate system is constantly changing, creating what statisticians term nonstationary time series data. You can fit a model to previous conditions by tweaking the probabilities and inputs, but you cannot make it forecast the future because the future requires a model of something that has not taken form yet. Add to that the nature of climate according to the IPCC: “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

If such models had been constructed before the current hiatus—the 17+ year pause in rising global temperatures that nobody saw coming—they would have been at as much a loss as the current crop of GCM. You cannot accurately predict that which you have not previously experienced, measured, and parametrized, and our detailed climate data are laughingly limited. With perhaps a half century of detailed measurements, there is no possibility of constructing models that would encompass the warm and cold periods of the Holocene interglacial, let alone the events that marked the last deglaciation (or those that will mark the start of the next glacial period).

Economists had been forced to deal with this type of system because the economic system of the world is not static but always changing (see “Econometrics vs Climate Science”). They have developed a number of tools that can provide some insight but not a solution to this situation. While economists have led the way for climate forecasters, look at how untrustworthy economic forecasts remain. The sad truth is that this effort will also not work for long-range prediction, anymore than economists can tell us what the economic outlook is for 2100. It is time for climate scientists to get out of the forecasting game and go back to doing real, empirically based science.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.


Jim Hansen's 400,000 Hiroshima bombs worth of heat per day produces RECORD Antarctic sea ice

Amid much wriggling by the Warmists

The sea ice surrounding Antarctica, which, as I reported in my book, has been steadily increasing throughout the period of satellite measurement that began in 1979, has hit a new all-time record high for areal coverage.

The new record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice, the ice encircling the southernmost continent, is 2.074 million square kilometers and was posted for the first time by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s The Cryosphere Today early Sunday morning.

It was not immediately apparent whether the record had occurred on Friday or Saturday. Requests for comment to Bill Chapman, who runs The Cryosphere Today, were not immediately returned.

The previous record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice area was 1.840 million square kilometers and occurred on December 20, 2007.

Global sea ice area, as of Sunday morning, stood at 0.991 million square kilometers above average. (The figure was arrived at by adding the Northern Hemisphere anomaly and the Southern Hemisphere anomaly. A graph provided by The Cryosphere Today showed the global anomaly as 1.005 million square kilometers.)

Although early computer models predicted a diminishment of both Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere sea ice due to anthropogenic global warming, subsequent modeling has posited that the results of warming around Antarctica would, counter-intuitively, generate sea ice growth.

A freshening of the waters surrounding the southernmost continent as well as the strengthening of the winds circling it were both theorized as explanations for the steady growth of Antarctica’s sea ice during the period of satellite measurement.

A number of prominent climatologists have discounted the growth of Antarctic sea ice, arguing that it is less significant to global circulation than ice in the Arctic basin.

Walt Meier, formerly of the National Snow and Ice Data Center and currently of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has previously said that Antarctic sea ice, which has little ice that survives year to year, is less significant than Arctic sea ice to the climate system.

“While the Arctic has seen large decreases through the year in all sectors, the Antarctic has a very regional signal – with highs in some areas and lows in others,” Meier said in 2013. “And of course, the Arctic volume is decreasing substantially through the loss of old ice. The Antarctic, which has very little old ice, hasn’t much of a volume change, relatively speaking.”

The new Antarctic record anomaly was more than 10 percent greater than the previous record.

The steady growth of Antarctic sea ice and its influence on global sea ice appeared to provide a public relations problem, at a minimum, for those warning of global warming’s menace. According to Meier and some other climatologists, global sea ice area is simply not a metric to consider when examining the climate system.

“A plot of global sea ice is just not informative or useful,” Meier said.

Global sea ice, during the course of the last year and a half, has seen its most robust 18-month period of the last 13 years, maintaining, on average, a positive anomaly for an 18-month period for the first time since 2001.

Phil Jones, of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, waded into the global sea ice analysis in 2013 as well.

“Adding the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extents doesn’t make that much sense as the two regions are at opposite ends of the world, and the seasons are opposite,” Jones said at the time.

As I also reported in Don’t Sell Your Coat, the temperature at the South Pole has been declining during the past four decades as well.


What Is The Right Level Of Response To Anthropogenic Induced Climate Change?


What Is The Right Level Of Response To Anthropogenic Induced Climate Change?

Held at The Royal Society on 16th June, 2014

Chair: The Earl of Selborne GBE FRS
Chairman, The Foundation for Science and Technology


Sir Mark Walport FRS FMedSci
Government Chief Scientific Adviser

David Davies MP
MP for Monmouth

Professor Jim Skea CBE
Imperial College London and Committee on Climate Change

The Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP
MP for Hitchin and Harpenden

THE EARL OF SELBORNE opened the debate by explaining that the Foundation welcomed the opportunity to provide a neutral platform for both sides of the climate change debate to come together. He hoped that the debate would help to identify common ground.

SIR MARK WALPORT said that it was clear that climate change was happening; the question was ‘what should be our response?’ The physics was accepted; the changing concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) was leading to warming of the atmosphere. We know levels of carbon dioxide are higher than ever before and that global emissions are rising. 36 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted in 2013. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)1 report discusses the decline in Arctic ice extent and thickness, the rise in sea levels and indications that there is an increasing likelihood of extreme weather patterns and temperatures, such as intense rainstorms and periods of excess temperatures.

We can respond to climate change through mitigation, adaptation or enduring suffering. In all probability we will need all three. We can mitigate through reducing GHG emissions, and physical works; we can adapt - but there are limits of resources available, security issues, and human will, and we can change lifestyles. We cannot accurately predict regional effects of global warming, but are sure that most effects will be negative. Limiting the rise in atmospheric temperature is vital - if the temperature range were an increase from 2 oC to 5 oC it could, at the upper end of the range, lead to the extinction of many species. Above 2 oC it was possible that “tipping points” such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, could occur over a very long period. So we must try to limit global GHG emissions to keep temperature rises below 2oC. Many countries are legislating in an effort to do this, but international agreement is important. As a contribution to meeting the global 2oC target the UK has set a target of reducing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

We need an urgent debate between scientists and politicians about how to do this at affordable cost, while maintaining sustainability and security. There is no magic single bullet - we need greater energy efficiency, reduction of emissions from all carbon fuels wherever used - in transport or industry or domestically - and development of low carbon supply options and increased research and innovation in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

We cannot wait and see; this generation must choose what to do now to safeguard the planet for future generations.

DAVID DAVIES said that he knew no one who denied the fact that climate was changing, because of the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The activities of mankind and society lead to carbon dioxide emissions but it does not follow that the observed increase in atmospheric temperatures in the last 150 years comes from human activity.

There is great variability in global temperature arising from natural causes, as the effect of ice ages throughout history makes clear. Even within historical memory we know that there were warmer and colder periods (the little ice age of the 17th century) and it may be that we are moving from a colder period to a warmer one simply through natural variation. So how can we be sure that the observed 0.8 oC global temperature rise over the last 150 years comes from anthropogenic sources?

There is no clear correlation between temperature rises and carbon dioxide emissions. There was no correlation in the early 20th century and since 1997 there has been no global temperature rising trend.

There are many other causes which can effect temperature changes, such as volcanic emissions. We need to be able to distinguish increases in temperature due to human activity from changes from natural causes. This we cannot do; so to base policies on the need to reduce emission from human activities is unsound.

The precautionary principle is often evoked - we must do something in case disaster might otherwise happen. But this ignores the possibility that disasters can happen in other areas – pandemic disease or financial meltdown for example. What response should be made to these or other possible disasters? By pursuing policies which raise energy costs, the government is driving manufacturing abroad, where manufacturing facilities will continue to emit just as much carbon dioxide.

The UK is being expected to pay the equivalent of an insurance premium for risks which other countries are also responsible for. He did not accept that the increase in emissions from developing countries will be disastrous for them because these countries will become much wealthier and will be able to spend their increased wealth on coping with climate change.

He welcomed the debate because he doubted whether scientists were as open as they should be about the data they held and their models. Environmental groups should be challenged for pursuing contradictory agendas - wanting to limit carbon emissions, yet opposing nuclear new build and the development of shale gas. Gas could displace coal in power generation reducing carbon emissions.

PROFESSOR SKEA said he sat on Working Group III of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The principal concern of Working Group III was to address the options to mitigate climate change. A key concern was how to respond to the upward trend of the change in temperature rise in the 20th century.

More than 190 countries have signed up to agreements to the UN goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2 oC. This meant according to the IPCC report reducing global emissions by 40% to 70% by 2050 compared to 2010 levels. This could only be done by a massive increase in low carbon energy production through developing nuclear power, renewables or deploying cost effective carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems, and promoting energy efficiency, particularly in transport.

This meant a change in investment priorities, away from fossil fuels towards other energy options. We do not have sufficient information about costs to judge between expenditure on mitigation and adaptation, but overall, if the 2 oC target is to be reached, we will need to forego 1% to 4% of consumption by 2030. But these estimates do not take into account the reduced impacts and benefits from better air quality and greater energy security.

Climate change is a global problem; dealing with it is a common responsibility. The UK is not alone - consider the actions taken in the US and China. Of course economic development is good - but it brings unwelcome side effects which need government action. The policy response should be based on scientific evidence. He cited the early resistance to the passing of the Public Health Acts after the cholera epidemics in the 19th century and the Clean Air Act of the 1950s which eventually gained wide acceptance. Climate change is one of the biggest global challenges. The UK is right in its response.

PETER LILLEY said that he did not doubt the science of climate change, but he was concerned about the refusal of those committed to the environmental cause to engage in debate about the economic consequences of proposals. He was particularly concerned about the effects premature decarbonisation would have on the poor and in developing countries. He had voted against the Climate Change Act because he had read the cost benefit analysis provided when the Bill was debated in the House. The analysis showed that the potential cost was twice the benefit from global warming. No one wanted to discuss the cost; they simply wished to demonstrate moral superiority.

He particularly doubted the way that models had been used to forecast the future path of global average temperatures. He showed a chart of 50 model plots of global temperature versus time. Only two models in his diagram correlated with historical date. But all 50 were cited as evidence. In short, we do not know the path of future long-term temperature trends. Asked if the current pause is temporary or long-term, a scientist’s reply was that they would only know in 50 years what were the long term trends.

The poor in developing countries were vulnerable because they were poor, not because they suffered from the weather. If their energy costs rise - because of renewables- they will consume less energy and remain poorer than they would otherwise be. They would be less healthy as a result. Lord Stern in his report to HM Treasury in advocated spending now, so that our descendants would have to spend less in the future. But this meant in practice, sacrificing the poor - the great multitude - in Africa and Asia.

We do not know what the effects of a 4 oC rise will be - whether it will mean the extinction of the human race, or great inconvenience. Society can adapt to a great deal of change; and knowledge of how to respond increases continually. Global warming has benefits; it will reduce temperature variability between the poles and tropics; which might be a benefit. Our policies should be to focus on promoting energy efficiency, innovative energy storage and developing shale gas and drop expensive uncertain technologies such as biofuels, wind and solar generation. Above all we should link any increases in carbon tax to actual increases in global temperatures.



'The unaffordable energy capital of the world': Tony Abbott blames green companies for increasing power prices in Australia

Three current articles below

Tony Abbott has hit out at the green energy sector claiming the renewable energy target (RET) is the cause of rising energy prices in Australia.

The Prime Minister said the country is well on its way to being 'the unaffordable energy capital of the world' and that's the reason for the government's review of the RET, report The Financial Review.

'We should be the affordable energy capital of the world, not the unaffordable energy capital of the world and that’s why the carbon tax must go and that’s why we’re reviewing the RET,' he told the publication.

Clean energy companies have responded to these claims saying Mr Abbott completely exaggerated the impact that the target would have, and in the long run the nation would be better off financially and environmentally from the scheme.

The RET currently states that by 2020, 20 percent of energy should come from renewable sources, however this could be subject to change under the government's upcoming review.

In the Senate next week the government will try to abolish the carbon tax, but opposition leader Bill Shorten has vowed to continue the crusade for action against climate change.

Clive Palmer is set to block the government from lowering or abandoning the RET until after the election in 2016.

Infigen, Pacific Hydro, Senvion and the Clean Energy Council are all among the companies who have disagreed with the Prime Minister's comments, and a spokesperson for Senvion said if the RET is kept in place the price of power bills will drop off by 2020.

Clean Energy Council director Russell March agreed, claiming the only other alternative to the target is a switch to gas-fired power, but the price of that resource is on the up.

The consensus in the renewable energy industry is that power prices will drop as more forms of renewable energy are being utilised, with some companies citing the decrease in power bills around the $50 mark.

This week saw the Crawford Australian Leadership Forum take place in Canberra, and economists from around the world including Nobel Prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz and former Reserve Bank of Australia board member Warwick McKibbin were among the experts calling for Australia to have a price on carbon, according to AFR.

Professor Stiglitz described putting a price on carbon as a 'no-brainer' and said it is more practical than taxing labour or capital, plus it would set Australia up for the future.

By pricing carbon now Australia would be taking a step forward to combating climate change he said, and the world would soon follow.

Aluminium refineries are also a big player in the RET debate, which are currently said to be 90 percent exempt from paying for renewable energy.

The government is expected to make a move from the backbench to completely clear the refineries from paying for any form of green energy.


Australia: Power price hikes bite in Queensland

QUEENSLANDERS face a dramatic hike in power bills with the start of the new financial year, and households with solar panels are also likely to take a hit to the hip pocket.

The average power bill is expected to rise by $191, or 13.6 per cent, pushed up by green policies and the increasing cost of poles, wires, and electricity generation.

However, prices will only go up by about 5.1 per cent if the federal government's carbon tax is repealed.

Queensland's Energy Minister Mark McArdle has blamed much of the hike on the former Labor government's over-investment in the power distribution network.

"Every power bill that is issued, 54 per cent of that bill relates to the cost of poles and wires - the gold-plated legacy of Labor that we're now having to unravel," Mr McArdle told ABC radio.

Pensioners and seniors will be able to apply for an electricity rebate of $320 after the government upped concessions to $165 million for this financial year.

"The Queensland government promised to lower the cost of living wherever we could and we're making sure that pensioners and other vulnerable Queenslanders get some relief on household costs," Mr McArdle said.

Consumers are forking out 50 per cent more for electricity than they did three years ago, and shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt says price hikes under the Newman government total $560.

"Campbell Newman arrogantly promised to lower Queenslanders' electricity bills, yet ever since he's become premier they've just gone up and up and up," he said.

This financial year, about 50,000 homeowners who have solar panels will no longer be guaranteed a feed-in tariff of eight cents.

Government-owned distributors will no longer be responsible for paying the tariff and households will have to negotiate directly with electricity retailers for the price they are paid for the solar power they generate.

The 44 cent tariff, paid to some 284,000 people who were first to sign up to the scheme, will remain unchanged.

Australian Solar Council chief executive John Grimes says consumers need to shop around, or join forces to negotiate as a block with electricity retailers.

"As an independent customer, with an average-size system on your roof, you really have little leverage when talking to a utility," Mr Grimes told ABC radio.


Motorized climate change??

ADVOCATES for action against climate change do themselves few favours when they turn legitimate concerns into outright political propaganda.

Current editions of the official NSW government handbook for learner drivers carry a bizarre warning about the future risks of climate change, claiming that a changed climate could cause "unpredictable weather events” due to "greenhouse gas emissions”.

The excuse for including this information is that drivers should beware of taking to the roads in extreme conditions brought about by climate change.

This is more than a little absurd. If this approach was taken to logical extremes, we could see government climate change warnings attached to almost every conceivable human activity.

Impressively, state Coalition government roads minister Duncan Gay recognises the warning for the political sloganeering that it is and has vowed to cut the lines in future editions of the handbook.

The public might be more inclined to listen to climate activists if the activists’ messages were more realistic and less evangelical.

Which brings us to Scott Ferguson of Haberfield, who brought this to The Daily Telegraph’s attention after a copy of the handbook was given to his young daughter Riley.

"I haven’t been this annoyed since Riley’s old primary school made her sit in scripture class,” Mr Ferguson said. That’s a very good comparison. When climate change activists take their views to extremes, they sound more like religious zealots than like advocates for a better planet.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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2 July, 2014

Breaking EPA’s climate science secrecy barriers

FOIA request seeks hidden data and analyses that agency claims back up its climate rulings

Paul Driessen and Lawrence Kogan

Can you imagine telling the IRS you don’t need to complete all their forms or provide records to back up your claim for a tax refund? Or saying your company’s assurances that its medical products are safe and effective should satisfy the FDA? Especially if some of your data don’t actually support your claims – or you “can’t find” key data, research and other records, because your hard drive conveniently crashed? But, you tell them, people you paid to review your information said it’s accurate, so there’s no problem.

Do you suppose the government would accept your assurance that there’s “not a smidgen” of corruption, error or doubt – perhaps because 97% of your close colleagues agree with you? Or that your actions affect only a small amount of tax money, or a small number of customers – so the agencies shouldn’t worry?

If you were the Environmental Protection Agency, White House-operated US Global Change Research Program and their participating agencies (NOAA, NASA, NSF, etc.), you’d get away with all of that.

Using billions of our tax dollars, these government entities fund the research they use, select research that supports their regulatory agenda (while ignoring studies that do not), and handpick the “independent” experts who peer-review the research. As a recent analysis reveals, the agencies also give “significant financial support” to United Nations and other organizations that prepare computer models and other assessments. They then use the results to justify regulations that will cost countless billions of dollars and affect the lives, livelihoods, liberties, living standards, health, welfare and life spans of every American.

EPA utilized this clever maneuver to determine that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases “endanger” public health and welfare. It then devised devious reports, including national climate change assessments – and expensive, punitive regulations to control emissions of those gases from vehicles, electrical generating plants and countless other sources.

At the very least, you would expect that this supposedly “scientific” review process – and the data and studies involved in it – should be subject to rigorous, least-discretionary standards designed to ensure their quality, integrity, credibility and reliability, as well as truly independent expert review. Indeed they are.

The Information Quality Act of 2000 and subsequent Office of Management and Budget guidelines require that all federal agencies ensure and maximize “the quality, objectivity, utility and integrity of information disseminated by Federal agencies.” The rules also call for proper peer review of all “influential scientific information” and “highly influential scientific assessments,” particularly if they could be used as the basis for regulatory action. Finally, they direct federal agencies to provide adequate administrative mechanisms enabling affected parties to review agency failures to respond to requests for correction or reconsideration of the scientific information.

EPA and other agencies apparently think these rules are burdensome, inconvenient, and a threat to their independence and regulatory agenda. They routinely ignore the rules, and resist attempts by outside experts to gain access to data and studies. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said she intends to “protect” them from people and organizations she decides “are not qualified to analyze” the materials.

Thus EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee reviews the agency’s CO2 and pollution data, studies and conclusions – for which EPA has paid CASAC’s 15 members $180.8 million since 2000. The American Lung Association has received $24.7 million in EPA grants over the past 15 years and $43 million overall via a total of 591 federal grants, for applauding and promoting government agency decisions. Big Green foundations bankrolled the ALA with an additional $76 million, under 2,806 grants.

These payoffs raise serious questions about EPA, CASAC and ALA integrity and credibility.

Meanwhile, real stakeholders – families and companies that will be severely impacted by the rules, and organizations and experts trying to protect their interests – are systematically denied access to data, studies, scientific assessments and other information. CASAC excludes from its ranks industry and other experts who might question EPA findings. EPA stonewalls and slow-walks FOIA requests and denies requests for correction and reconsideration. One lawyer who’s filed FOIA cases since 1978 says the Obama Administration is bar-none “the worst” in history on transparency. Even members of Congress get nowhere, resulting in testy confrontations with Ms. McCarthy and other EPA officials.

The stakes are high, particularly in view of the Obama EPA’s war on coal mining, coal-fired power plants, businesses and industries that require reliable, affordable electricity – and families, communities and entire states whose jobs, health and welfare will suffer under this anti-fossil fuel agenda. States that mine and use coal will be bludgeoned. Because they pay a larger portion of their incomes on energy and food, elderly, minority and poor families are especially vulnerable and will suffer greatly.

That is why the House of Representatives is moving forward on the Secret Science Reform Act. It is why the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development is again filing new FOIA requests with EPA and other agencies that are hiding their junk science, manipulating laws and strangling our economy.

The agencies’ benefit-cost analyses are equally deceptive. EPA claims its latest coal-fueled power plant rules (requiring an impossible 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030) would bring $30 billion in “climate benefits” versus $7.3 billion in costs. Even the left-leaning Brookings Institution has trashed the agency’s analysis – pointing out that the low-balled costs will be paid by American taxpayers, consumers, businesses and workers, whereas the highly conjectural benefits will be accrued globally.

That violates President Clinton’s 1993 Executive Order 12688, which requires that agencies “assess both the costs and benefits” of a proposed regulation, and adopt it “only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits … justify its costs.” EO 12866 specifies that only benefits to US citizens be counted. Once that’s done, the EPA benefits plummet to between $2.1 billion and $6.9 billion. That means its kill-coal rules cost Americans $400 million to $4.8 billion more than the clearly inflated benefits, using EPA’s own numbers.

Moreover, the US Chamber of Commerce calculates that the regulations will actually penalize the United States $51 billion. Energy analyst Roger Bezdek estimates that the benefits of using carbon-based fuels outweigh any hypothesized “social costs of carbon” by orders of magnitude: 50-to-1 (using the inflated SCC of $36/ton of CO2 concocted by EPA and other federal agencies in 2013) – and 500-to-1 (using the equally arbitrary $22/ton estimate that they cooked up in 2010).

Even more intolerable, these punitive EPA rules will have virtually no effect on atmospheric CO2 levels, because China, India, Germany and other countries will continue to burn coal and other fossil fuels. They will likewise have no effect on global temperatures, even accepting the Obama/EPA/IPCC notion that carbon dioxide is now the primary cause of climate change. Even EPA models acknowledge that its rules will prevent an undetectable 0.018 degrees Celsius (0.032 deg F) of total global warming in 100 years!

Fortunately, the Supreme Court recently ruled that EPA does not have the authority to rewrite federal laws to serve its power-grabbing agendas. FOIA requests seeking disclosure of EPA records that could reveal a rigged climate science peer review process – and legal actions under the Information Quality Act seeking correction of resultant data corruption – could compel courts to reconsider their all-too-common practice of deferring to “agency discretion” on scientific and regulatory matters. That clearly scares these federales.

The feds have become accustomed to saying “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.” The prospect of having to share their data, methodologies and research with experts outside their closed circle of regulators, collaborators and eco-activists almost makes them soil their shorts.

Bright sunlight has always been the best disinfectant for mold, slime and corruption. With America’s economy, international competitiveness, jobs, health and welfare at stake, we need that sunlight now.

Via email

High Energy Costs Kill Manufacturing Jobs In Wales

Around 400 jobs are to go at the Tata steelmaking plant in Port Talbot, the company has announced.  Chief executive Karl Koehler said the changes were vital if the company was to remain competitive.

He pointed to the UK's high business rates and "uncompetitive" energy costs as factors in the decision.

In 2012, 600 jobs went from Tata sites in Wales. It still has 7,000 staff with just over half working at Port Talbot.

The Welsh government said the news would be of concern to Tata staff, but was encouraged that the company planned to make the redundancies through voluntary means.  A consultation process lasting at least 45 days will begin shortly.

The company said in statement the job losses would reduce costs and enable it to compete in an era of lower market demand.

Mr Koehler said: "Steel demand and prices are likely to be under pressure for some years. Our business rates in the UK are much higher than other EU countries' and our UK energy costs will remain uncompetitive until new mitigation measures come into effect.

"These proposed changes then are vital if we are to build a competitive future for our strip products business in the UK."

The company spends £60m on electricity in Wales alone, and pays about 40% more for the electricity than competitors in continental Europe.

The government introduced measures in the last budget to reduce energy costs for heavy industries but they do not come into force until 2016.

Steel has been produced on the current site for over 60 years
Mr Koehler said they would do everything possible to support staff "through this unsettling time".

He added the company had invested over £250m in the past two years in state-of-the-art technology and were making further investments in its hot strip mill in Port Talbot and at a site in Llanwern in Newport.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "This is understandably a difficult time for the workforce at Tata Steel in south Wales as the company tries to weather challenging market conditions.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "Tata has demonstrated its commitment to Wales by investing nearly £400m in the strip business over the past two years. Despite this investment it is clear that the industry is still being adversely affected by high energy costs in the UK.

"We continue to work with Tata to ensure we create and sustain a thriving steel industry in Wales but repeat our calls for the UK government to implement measures to reduce the burden faced by energy intensive companies in Wales."


Ethanol mandate Is One Reason the Price of Gas Will Increase

Not thinking things through is a chronic problem with policy-makers in Washington. Superficial and easily sound-bite-able policies dominate the thoughtful-but-complex ones. For instance mandates for biofuel use would seem to be driven by basic supply and demand—more domestic fuel would lead to lower fuel prices for consumers. But the reality is more complex.

On June 26, the Congressional Budget Office released a study on the impacts of the Renewable Fuels Standard and found that, if unchanged, the RFS will increase gasoline prices by 13 to 26 cents per gallon and increase the price of diesel fuel by 30 to 51 cents per gallon by 2017. Part of the popular, bi-partisan and totally misguided Energy Independence and Security Act, the RFS promoted increased production of various forms of ethanol and biodiesel with a host of mandates and subsidies.

The failure of advanced biofuels—especially cellulosic ethanol—to meet targets,along with the constraints of blend walls and consumer rejection of E85 gasohol, would force the oil industry to pay fines for producing fuels consumers do want and take huge losses on forced production of fuels consumers don’t want.

The chart below, from the CBO report, illustrates how miserably the mandate-it-and-they-will-make-it energy policy is failing. Proponents assured Congress and the president that commercially viable production of cellulosic ethanol made from non-edible plant material was just around the corner. Not only were they wrong, but as we see from the chart, there is no end of the tunnel in sight.

On the other hand, the corn-ethanol producers responded so vigorously to production incentives that they have been meeting targets but produce more ethanol than can be blended into regular gasoline. In the industry jargon, refiners have hit the 10-percent blend wall established by the EPA to prevent damage to engines and fuel systems not designed for the moisture-attracting higher-blend levels.

Lower energy content per gallon makes ethanol fuels unattractive to most drivers. To a certain extent, this weakness was hidden because most gasoline contains only 10 percent of the lower-energy ethanol. But refiners cannot legally add any more ethanol to E10 gasoline—the most common gasoline sold, which is comprised of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol—and cannot get consumers to buy E85 (a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol) without selling it below cost of production.

The CBO estimates that to induce enough consumption of E85 to allow refiners to meet the targets set by Washington, they would have push down the price of E85 by as much as $1.27 per gallon. The necessary losses on the E85 are what, in large part, would drive up the cost of E10 gasoline used by the vast majority of drivers.

The failure of cellulosic ethanol to meet the fantasy-world targets set years ago means that the ethanol burned in our vehicles primarily comes from diverting food to fuel—nearly 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop goes to ethanol production. So, the net effects of the RFS are to drive up farm commodity prices (and subsequently food prices), drive up the cost of diesel fuel, drive up the cost of the gasoline used by the vast majority of drivers, and provide little, at best, environmental benefit. It’s not a simple case of supply and demand where more ethanol means lower fuel costs. Understanding the complete picture is more complex. But one thing is clear: The RFS is simply a bad idea whose time to go has come.


NOAA Reinstates July 1936 As The Hottest Month On Record

Good to see that Anthony Watts has stopped apologizing for NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, criticized for manipulating temperature records to create a warming trend, has now been caught warming the past and cooling the present.

July 2012 became the hottest month on record in the U.S. during a summer that was declared “too hot to handle” by NASA scientists. That summer more than half the country was experiencing drought and wildfires had scorched more than 1.3 million acres of land, according to NASA.

According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in 2012, the “average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during July was 77.6°F, 3.3°F above the 20th century average, marking the warmest July and all-time warmest month on record for the nation in a period of record that dates back to 1895.”

“The previous warmest July for the nation was July 1936, when the average U.S. temperature was 77.4°F,” NOAA said in 2012.

This statement by NOAA was still available on their website when checked by The Daily Caller News Foundation. But when meteorologist and climate blogger Anthony Watts went to check the NOAA data on Sunday he found that the science agency had quietly reinstated July 1936 as the hottest month on record in the U.S.

“Two years ago during the scorching summer of 2012, July 1936 lost its place on the leaderboard and July 2012 became the hottest month on record in the United States,” Watts wrote. “Now, as if by magic, and according to NOAA’s own data, July 1936 is now the hottest month on record again. The past, present, and future all seems to be ‘adjustable’ in NOAA’s world.”

Watts had data from NOAA’s “Climate at a Glance” plots from 2012, which shows that July 2012 was the hottest month on record at 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit. July 1936 is only at 77.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watts ran the same data plot again on Sunday and found that NOAA inserted a new number in for July 1936. The average temperature for July 1936 was made slightly higher than July 2012, meaning, once again, July 1936 is the hottest year on record.

“You can’t get any clearer proof of NOAA adjusting past temperatures,” Watts wrote. “This isn’t just some issue with gridding, or anomalies, or method, it is about NOAA not being able to present historical climate information of the United States accurately.”

“In one report they give one number, and in another they give a different one with no explanation to the public as to why,” Watts continued. “This is not acceptable. It is not being honest with the public. It is not scientific. It violates the Data Quality Act.”

Watts’ accusation of NOAA climate data manipulation comes after reports that the agency had been lowering past temperatures to create a warming trend in the U.S. that does not exist in the raw data.

The ex-post facto data manipulation has been cataloged by climate blogger Steven Goddard and was reported by the UK Telegraph earlier this month.

“Goddard shows how, in recent years, NOAA’s US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has been ‘adjusting’ its record by replacing real temperatures with data ‘fabricated’ by computer models,” writes Christopher Booker for the Telegraph.

“The effect of this has been to downgrade earlier temperatures and to exaggerate those from recent decades, to give the impression that the Earth has been warming up much more than is justified by the actual data,” Booker writes. “In several posts headed ‘Data tampering at USHCN/GISS,’ Goddard compares the currently published temperature graphs with those based only on temperatures measured at the time.”

“These show that the US has actually been cooling since the Thirties, the hottest decade on record; whereas the latest graph, nearly half of it based on ‘fabricated’ data, shows it to have been warming at a rate equivalent to more than 3 degrees centigrade per century,” Booker adds.

When asked about climate data adjustments by the DCNF back in April, NOAA send there have been “several scientific developments since 1989 and 1999 that have improved the understanding of the U.S. surface temperature record.”

“Many station observations that were confined to paper, especially from early in the 20th century, have been scanned and keyed and are now digitally available to inform these time series,” Deke Arndt, chief of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring Branch, told TheDCNF.

“In addition to the much larger number of stations available, the U.S. temperature time series is now informed by an improved suite of quality assurance algorithms than it was in the late 20th Century,” Deke said in an emailed statement.

But NOAA has apparently not just been adjusting temperatures downward, but also adjusting them upwards.

“This constant change from year to year of what is or is not the hottest month on record for the USA is not only unprofessional and embarrassing for NOAA, it’s bullshit of the highest order,” Watts wrote. “It can easily be solved by NOAA stopping the unsupportable practice of adjusting temperatures of the past so that the present looks different in context with the adjusted past and stop making data for weather stations that have long since closed.”


India & Developing Nations Defeat Obama’s Green Agenda

India will strengthen its climate change negotiation team and will do "better homework" before discussing with all stakeholders, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday.

Fresh from India's "success" at the Nairobi environment conference, Javadekar said the country has decided to "reposition" its role in the global stage on climate change issues by intensely "lobbying" for a "good strategic relationship" with like-minded nations on the matter.

"And we will do more meaningful representation in the world events," Javadekar said.

He was speaking after leading the Indian delegation in the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Programme held at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi last week.

He said the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Paris in 2015 was "very important" and it is one year window in which the post Kyoto Protocol will be decided.

"From 2020, the new protocol will start....We will strengthen our Climate Change negotiation team," the minister said.

Javadekar said unlike the past UN Climate Conferences, India will organise side events and dinner meetings to highlight the world's largest democracy's role in tackling the Climate Change.

"There will be big preparation....Dinner, breakfast meetings and exhibitions to strengthen the lobbying. On international forum we have to put forth our points very strongly and take everyone along and we are working out plans for that," he said.

Speaking about the Nairobi Environment Conference, he said India lobbied with Arab countries, G-77 plus China and BRICS to defeat the US position that Rio principles should not be made part of its final outcome document, official sources said here today.

"In negotiations, we were active this time. America was saying that don't refer to Kyoto Protocol, CBDR, Rio principles.

We resisted that...we lobbied...all Arab countries, BRICS, G-77 plus China...all came together to oppose America's position and ultimately Rio principles were part of the final outcome document," he said.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development met at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 had proclaimed 10 principles which include human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development and they are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.


Bill Gates gets the need to stop shafting poor countries

For years, I took energy for granted. There’s no telling how many times I walked into my office, flipped a light switch, and powered up a PC without thinking at all about the magic of getting electricity any time I wanted it. But then I started traveling to poor and middle-income countries, and I had a very different experience.

I remember going to Buenos Aires and seeing where the government had run big wires to distribute electricity. But people couldn’t afford it, so they tapped their own power cables into the government’s and stole the electricity. This is a very common experience—according to the United Nations, some 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity, and a billion more only have access to unreliable electricity networks. I’ve talked to women in rural Africa who spent hours every day hauling wood so they could cook food and light their homes. Others buy fuel to run a generator, which pumps out pollutants that cause asthma and lung cancer and, at 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, is more than twice as expensive as what the average American homeowner pays for electricity. Another example of the high cost of being poor.

Here is a picture of some students in Conakry, Guinea. They’re studying under street lamps, because they don’t have reliable lights at home. This is one of the most vivid examples of life without electricity at home that I’ve seen.

Think about what it has meant to America to have access to affordable, reliable energy. Electricity powers the streetlights that make our cities far safer than they were a century ago. The American construction industry never would have taken off if we didn’t have lots of affordable energy for making cement and steel.

Our farmers became much more productive when they replaced their plows and oxen with tractors—but only because they had fuel to run these new machines. The historian Vaclav Smil found that in the 20th century the average American’s energy use jumped roughly 60-fold. At the same time, the price we pay for electricity fell by roughly 98 percent.

That’s why I think any anti-poverty agenda has to look at giving more people access to affordable energy. For countries to lift themselves out of poverty, they need lights in schools so students can study when it’s dark out. Refrigerators in health clinics to keep vaccines cold. Pumps to irrigate farmland and provide clean water.

In the rich world, we are right to worry about conserving energy, but in poor places, people need more energy.

There is also a demand side to this equation. As people get richer, they want more energy-consuming goods, like computers and refrigerators, and energy-hungry services like health care. We’ve seen it already in Brazil, India, China, and other countries, and it’s a trend that will continue well into the future. The U.S. government estimates that the world’s energy needs will increase by more than 50 percent by 2040, but I think it could go even higher as the global population grows and incomes continue to rise. We want to provide this energy as efficiently as possible, but that’s no reason to deny the poor access to the services that rich countries enjoy.

What about climate change?

It’s a huge problem, one of the biggest we face today. The more energy we produce with today’s technology, the more carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere. While there is some uncertainty about the exact impact, there is nearly universal scientific agreement that these effects will be bad. And they will be worst for the poorest people on earth, who have done the least to cause the problem. Energy can’t just be affordable—it also has to be clean.

That’s why it’s so important for the United States and other rich countries to invest more in research into clean energy. A few years ago, I shared a few thoughts on this subject in a TED talk about developing energy sources that produce zero carbon. And I’m investing in a number of projects to develop cleaner, more affordable sources of energy. I hope to have more to share about them as they move through the R&D cycle.

These days, I don’t take energy for granted. I know what a difference it can make in the lives of the poorest, and I’m committed to helping them get it.



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1 July, 2014

The Global Climate Status Report (GCSR)

SUMMARY CLIMATE ASSESSMENT REPORT June 10, 2014, A product of the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) Orlando, Florida, USA

After a thorough review of the selected climate status parameters up through June 10, 2014, the current status and predicted climate assessment for the Earth is as follows:

1. Current Climate Status

a. Overall Climate Status. The Earth is presently in a strong and sustained phase of GLOBAL COOLING. Though there is new evidence of moderation in this rate during the 2013- 2014 period, the rate of temperature decline on a 100 year trend line is the steepest seen during that time frame going back to 1914. We conclude that the past period of global warming, as a natural phase of climate variation caused by the Sun, has ended, and a new cold climate epoch has begun.

b. Two Hundred Year Solar Cycle Continues to Dominate Global Climate. The most recent multi-centennial climate epoch which began around 1830, has begun to reverse direction from a global temperature standpoint. The past period of generally increasing warmth for the Earth, which was caused by the Sun’s natural and regular cycles of activity, reached a peak of warming between 2007 and 2008 as measured by global atmospheric temperatures in the lower troposphere. This change was observed in oceanic temperatures as early as 2003.

Acting primarily under the influence of a repeating 206 year solar cycle, a new “solar hibernation” has begun, and is marked by a significant decline in the Sun’s energy output. Starting with solar cycle #24, this energy reduction has initiated an expected reversal from the past warm era to a new cold era.

c. Near Term Trends. Major features of the Earth’s current climate status include the following sustained trends:

(1) There has been no effective growth in global temperature for seventeen (17) years. Temperatures in the lower troposphere have temporarily stabilized from a previously declining short term trend because of 2013-2014 warming. This trend is expected to revert to cooling in the next year or two.

(2) Integrated Global Atmospheric Temperatures continue to show a long term COOLING trend that began in 2007. (100 year trend). The Tropics which are an especially important indicator, continue their steep drop in temperatures which began in 2004.

(3) Integrated Global Oceanic Temperatures continue to show a long term COOLING trend that began in 2003. The rate of oceanic temperature decline has been slightly reduced over the past year but is expected to continue its long term decline. Though the Indian Ocean continues its warming trend, the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean temperatures down to the first 100 meters depth are experiencing rapid reductions that began in 2005.

2. Climate Prediction for the Next Thirty Years.

Based on the SSRC’s Relational Cycle Theory (RC Theory) using natural cycles as a means for climate prediction and in view of the trends demonstrated by the twenty four global climate parameters, the following climate prediction is believed to be the most accurate available for the period of 2014 to 2044:

a. Highly variable and extreme weather events are expected during the transition from the past warm period to one of rapid global cooling.

b. This next climate change to a long and deep cold era is expected to last for at least the next thirty to forty years.

c. The extent and depth of the cold weather produced in this new climate era is estimated to be the worst in over two hundred years producing a global temperature reduction of 1.0 to 1.5 degrees centigrade.

3. Likely Future Climate Scenarios.

The SSRC believes existing climate change indicators support the assessment that a new potentially dangerous cold climate age has begun. It should be emphasized that unless a significant unexpected and rapid change in the present declining ocean and atmosphere temperature trends occurs, there are only two climate scenarios that appear likely at this time over the next forty years. Each scenario results in a new cold climate era:

a. Scenario 1. A solar hibernation similar to the Dalton Minimum (1793-1830). This would result in routine establishment of new 200 year cold weather records. b. Scenario

2. A solar hibernation similar to the one during the Maunder Minimum (1615- 1745). A climate period like this would see 400 year temperature records and widespread climate and weather extremes.


Obama Continues his Attack on U.S. Energy

By Alan Caruba

The delay of the Keystone XL pipeline is a perfect example of the way President Obama and his administration has engaged in, not just a war on coal, but on all forms of energy the nation has and needs. Even his State Department admits there is no reason to refuse its construction and, as turmoil affects the Middle East, there is an increased need to tap our own oil and welcome Canada’s.

The latest news, however, is that Canada has just approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, a major pipeline to ship Canadian oil—to Asia.

The pure evil of the delay is compounded by the loss of the many jobs the pipeline—that will not require taxpayer funding—represents to help reduce the nation’s obscene rate of unemployment and to generate new revenue for the nation. That’s what oil, coal, and natural gas does.

Less visible has been the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency that has, since Obama took office on January 20, 2009, issued 2,827 new final regulations totally 24,915,000 words to fill 24,915 pages of the Federal Register. As a CNSnews article reported, “The Obama EPA regulations have 22 times as many words as the entire Harry Potter series which includes seven books with 1,084,170 words.” Every one of the EPA regulations affects some aspect of life in America, crushing economic development in every conceivable way.

The worst part of the EPA regulation orgy is the fact that virtually all of it is based on a hoax. As reported by James Delingpole, a British journalist, “19 million jobs lost plus $4,335 trillion spent equals a global mean temperature of 0.018 degrees Celsius. Yes, horrible but true. These are the costs to the U.S. economy, by 2100, of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory war on carbon dioxide, whereby all states must reduce emissions from coal-fired electricity generating plants by 30% before 2005 levels.”

Citing a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Delingpole reported that the new regulations will cost the economy another $51 billion annually, result in the 224,000 more lost jobs every year, and cost every American household $3,400 per year in higher prices for energy, food, and other necessities.”

This is an all-out attack on industry, business, and the use of electricity by all Americans.

There is absolutely no reason, nor need to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas on which all life on Earth depends because it is to vegetation what oxygen is to all living creatures. It is the “food” on which every blade of grass depends. More CO2 means more crops and healthier forests.

The EPA’s regulations would yield“Less than two one-hundredths of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.

Disastrously, even the Supreme Court—the same one that signed off on Obamacare as a tax—has not ruled against the EPA’s false assertions about CO2. In late June, however, it did place limits on the EPA’s effort to limit power plant and factory emissions blamed for a global warming that does not exist. The Earth has been cooling for seventeen years, but the Court ruled that the EPA lacked authority in some cases to force companies to evaluate ways to reduce CO2 emissions.

As Craig Rucker, the Executive Director of the free market think tank, CFACT, points out, “The Court served notice that the Executive Branch cannot unilaterally write its own laws. This is an important principle. However, the United States still remains fated to suffer most of the economic damage EPA’s regulations will cause. True reform will require congressional action.”

Thanks to the lies that have been taught about “global warming”, now called “climate change”, in the nation’s schools to a generation of Americans, and the deluge of lies about the environment that have been repeated in the nation’s media, too many Americans still do not make the connection between the use of the nation’s vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas, and their personal lifestyles and the nation’s economic growth.

The attacks on the energy industries by environmental organizations have been attacks on all Americans who turn on the lights or drive anywhere. Their mantra has been “dirty coal” and “dirty oil” along with lies about the way energy industries contribute billions to the nation’s revenue in taxes.

An example of these attacks have been those directed against “fracking”, the short term for hydraulic fracturing, a technology that has been in use for more than a half century and whose development has generated a boom in natural gas these days. Claims about fracking pollution have no basis in fact.

A new book, “The Fracking Truth—America’s Energy Revolution: The Inside, Untold Story”, by Chris Faulkner is well worth reading for the extraordinary way he explains fracking and the facts he provides about energy in America. It is published by Platform Press.

America has huge reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. “This phenomenon of energy abundance and efficiency,” says Faulkner, “makes it almost a certainty that the cost of powering our nation—already a bargain by international standards—is going to become even less of a burden for our economy for many decades to come.” But not if the EPA and other Obama government agencies such as the Department of the Interior have their way.

One example: “According to the American Petroleum Institute, at least 87% of our federal offshore acreage is off-limits to drilling. API commissioned the consultancy Wood Mackenzie to assess the foregone offshore opportunity in specific terms. The upshot: Increased access to oil and gas reserves underlying federal waters could, by 2025, generate an additional 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, add $150 billion to government revenues, and create 530,00 jobs.”

“In fact, since 2007, about 96% of the increase in America’s oil and gas production occurred on private lands in the United States. Meanwhile, oil and gas production on federal lands declined to a ten-year low in fiscal years 2011-2012.”

Who is forcing coal-fired electricity plants to close? The Obama administration. Who is denying access to vast reserves of coal, oil and natural gas on federal lands? The Obama administration. Who continues to lie about “climate change” pegged to carbon dioxide emissions? The Obama administration. And this is happening as China and India cannot build new coal-fired plants fast enough and Europe abandons wind and solar energy.

Who is the enemy of energy, current and future, in the United States? Barack Obama.


Climate change: The moment I became a climate skeptic

By Zev Chafets

I got my first lesson on the subject of climate change more than 10 years ago. My tutor was an internationally famous climate scientist at a major Ivy League university. Unlike most lectures I have heard from professors, this one was brief, to the point and extremely enlightening.

At the time I was a columnist for the New York Daily News, recently arrived in the United States after more than 30 years in Israel. I had heard about global warming, of course, but I hadn’t thought much about it. Israel has other, more pressing issues.

In May 2001, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its third report, which got a lot of media attention. I looked through it and realized immediately that I had no chance of understanding the science.

I was in good company – I doubt there are half a dozen journalists in captivity who can actually understand the mathematical and chemical formulas and computer projections. That’s what press releases are for.

One item got my attention. It said: “Projections based on the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios suggest warming over the 21st Century at a more rapid rate than that experienced for at least the last 10,000 years.”

I called the professor, one of the authors of the report, for a clarification (he remains nameless because we were off the record). “If global warming is caused by man-made emissions,” I asked, “what accounts for the world warming to this same level 10,000 years ago?”

There was a long silence. Then the professor said, “Are you serious?”

I admitted that I was.

The professor loudly informed me that my question was stupid. The panel’s conclusion was indisputable science, arrived at after years of research by a conclave of the world’s leading climate scholars. Who was I to dispute it?

I told him I wasn’t disputing it, just trying to understand how, you know, the world could have been this hot before without the help of human agency. Maybe this is just a natural climate change like ice ages that once connected continents and warming periods that caused them to drift apart or …

At which point I heard a click. The professor hung up on me. At that exact moment I became a climate skeptic. I may not know anything about science, but I have learned over a long career that when an expert hangs up in the middle of a question, it means that he doesn’t know the answer.

This isn’t shocking. Experts, even on subjects less complicated than what the world’s temperature will be in 200 years, are often wrong. One tip-off is when they argue by assuring you that everybody smart already knows they are right.

I was reminded of this encounter the other day while reading a Time Magazine cover story titled, “Eat Butter: Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.” The article chronicled the decades-long consensus, backed by official U.S. government policy as well as a militant (and self-interested) scientific establishment, that fat was a killer. According to Time, this was “so embedded in modern medicine and nutrition that it became nearly impossible to challenge the consensus.” Scientific journals refused to publish data challenging this orthodoxy. People who did, like Dr. Robert Atkins, were derided as quacks.

Now that consensus has flipped (Time Magazine doesn’t publish articles outside any current consensus). It may flip again someday as we learn even more about nutrition and health. But for now, the danger of eating fat – once an unshakable tenet of settled science – is out of intellectual fashion. People who have virtuously deprived themselves of t-bones, ice cream and cheesecake are now left with egg on their faces. It is a reminder that bad science, backed by a politicized posse of experts, can have distasteful consequences.

Another recent article, this one in the New York Times, also caught my eye. It reported that a submerged forest in Wales has suddenly re-emerged, revealing traces that humans had lived there before the sea rose after the last ice age. “About 10,000 years ago, temperatures warmed sharply, by eight to ten degrees Fahrenheit,” said Dr. Martin Bates, a geoarcheologist called in to examine the situation. The footprints found in the sediment belonged to “refugees of prehistoric climate change,” he said (happily, Wales has since been repopulated).

Dr. Nicholas Ashton of the British Museum, a participant in the project, was philosophical. “We can reconstruct the climate and climate change nearly one million years ago,” he said. “The big lesson is, we have to adapt. Whether we like it or not the climate will change – it always has.” He quickly added that human beings were now “accelerating that change.” The Times reporter didn’t ask him how much the change was accelerating, or what, besides people, might be causing an eons-old phenomenon. Perhaps she didn’t wonder. Or maybe she didn’t feel like getting hung up on by an expert.


Prince Charles 'consorted with Labour on climate change and grammar schools'

The Prince of Wales “consorted” with Labour ministers to get tougher Government policies on climate change, it has been claimed.

The prince also helped persuade Tony Blair to turn against genetically modified food, Michael Meacher, the former environment minister, said.

The Prince also tried to push the Labour government into expanding grammar schools, it is claimed.

The claims were made in a BBC programme that sheds new light on how far the Prince is said to have gone to lobby ministers to adopt his pet policies on health and the environment.

It comes amid a legal battle between the Guardian newspaper and the Government over the release of so-called “black spider memos” – hand-written notes sent by the Prince to ministers. Ministers say the letters should remain private as releasing them would be “seriously damaging to his role as future monarch” because it means he could “forfeit his position of political neutrality as heir to the throne.”

Mr Meacher said the Prince helped him push Tony Blair for more radical action on climate change and to block GM foods.

“We would consort together quietly in order to try and ensure that we increased our influence within government. There were always tensions within government. And I knew that he largely agreed with me and he knew that I largely agreed with him,” Mr Meacher told BBC Radio 4’s The Royal Activist.

“I know he spoke to Tony Blair, obviously he would regularly speak to the Prime Minister, and I’m sure he told him his views, so we were together in trying to persuade Tony Blair to change course.”

Asked whether such lobbying caused a “constitutional problem,” Mr Meacher said: “Well, over GM I suppose you could well say that. Maybe he was pushing it a bit. I was delighted, of course.”

Peter Hain, the former Northern Ireland secretary, said the Prince encouraged him to introduce complementary medicine on the NHS – a position Mr Hain shared.

“He had been constantly frustrated at his inability to persuade any health ministers anywhere that that was a good idea, and so he, as he once described it to me, found me unique from this point of view, in being somebody that actually agreed with him on this, and might want to deliver it.”

Mr Hain allowed it to be introduced in Northern Ireland – a move that delighted the Prince.


British consumer energy bills to rise to keep power plants open

To subsidize standby power for when the wind isn't blowing  -- or for when it is blowing too hard!

Households will fund retainer payments to keep more than 53GW of power stations ready to fire up when needed

Consumer energy bills will rise in order to pay retainers to dozens of power stations to guarantee they are available to keep the lights on, ministers have announced.

Under a so-called “capacity market”, ministers plan to recruit more than 53GW of power stations - enough to meet 80 per cent of Britain’s peak demand – to ensure they can fire up when needed.

Households will each pay an average of £13 a year to the power plants, to guarantee they are ready on the system from 2018-19.

The Government has previously described the system, which will be paid for through levies on household bills as an “insurance premium against the risk of blackouts”. It hopes the scheme will keep existing gas and coal power plants from mothballing and encourage the construction of dozens of new gas plants by helping to guarantee their profitability.

Building new gas plants is otherwise unattractive, because as Britain builds more wind farms, gas plants may only run for short periods of time when the wind isn’t blowing.

Ed Davey, the energy secretary, said that the policy would add £2 to consumer bills.  However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change later clarified that the £2 impact was compared with a future scenario in which there was no capacity market, rather than compared with today's prices.

DECC said it forecast that the new capacity market would cost consumers about £13. However, it also predicts that it will also save consumers about £11 by preventing future power price spikes that would otherwise occur in the event of shortages, giving the net forecast impact of £2.

DECC had previously estimated that the policy would have a net impact of £13-£14 to bills, again compared with a future scenario with price spikes and blackouts. It has since significantly changed its modelling, predicting far more severe price spikes in the absence of the policy, resulting in the £2 net impact.

Mr Davey said: "There was a real risk back in 2010 that an energy crunch would hit Britain in the middle of this decade and lead to damaging power cuts.  "But the excellent news is that with [this] announcement we have the final piece of the jigsaw of our detailed energy security plans and can now say with confidence that we have defused the ticking time bomb of electricity supply risks we inherited."

Analyst Peter Atherton at Liberum Capital said that total payments to energy companies under the scheme could be in the region of £1.6bn, implying payments of at least £20 per household.



The BBC has ruled that a radio debate about climate change involving former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson should have been censored. Fraser Steel, head of the BBC complaints unit, said a Radio 4 Today programme about the causes of last winter’s storms should never have been broadcast.

Here is the transcript of the debate on the BBC Today Programme from 13 February between Sir Brian Hoskins and Nigel Lawson.

Justin Webb, BBC: Is there a link, Sir Brian, between the rain we have seen falling in recent days and global warming?

Sir Brian Hoskins: There’s no simple link – we can’t say yes or no this is climate change. However, there’s a number of reasons to think that such events are now more likely. One of those is that a warmer atmosphere that we have can contain more water vapour and so a storm can bring that water vapour out of the atmosphere and we’re seeing more heavy rainfall events around the world. We’ve certainly seen those here.

Justin Webb: So it’s the heavy rainfall; it’s the severity of the event that points us in this direction?

Sir Brian Hoskins: Well, in this event we’ve had severe rainfall but we’ve also had persistence, and that’s where I say we just don’t know whether the persistence of this event is due to climate change or not. Another aspect is sea level rise – the sea level has risen about 20cm over the 20th Century and is continuing to rise as the system warms, and that, of course, makes damage in the coastal region that much greater when we get some event there.

Justin Webb: But can a reasonable person – possessed of the evidence as it is known to us at the moment – say look at the rain we’ve had recently and say “I do not believe that the evidence exists that links that rain to global warming?”

Sir Brian Hoskins: I think the reasonable person should look at this event – they should look at extremes around the world: the general rise in temperature that’s well recorded, the reduction in Arctic sea ice, the rise in sea level, the number of extreme rainfall events around the world, the number of extreme events that we’ve had – we’ve had persistent droughts, we’ve had floods, we’ve had cold spells and very warm spells. The number of records being broken is just that much greater.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson, it’s joining the dots isn’t it?

Lord Lawson: No, I think that Sir Brian is right on a number of points. He’s right, first of all, that nobody knows. Certainly it is not the case, of course, that this rainfall is due to global warming – the question is whether global warming has marginally exacerbated it. Nobody knows that. He’s right too to say that you have to look at the global picture, and contrary to what he may have implied, people have done studies to show that globally there has been no increase in extreme weather events. For example, tropical storms – perhaps the most dramatic form of weather event – the past year has been unusually quiet year for tropical storms. And again going back to the “nobody knows,” only a couple of months ago the Met Office were forecasting that this would be an unusually dry winter.

Justin Webb: Do you accept that, Sir Brian, just on that important point about the global picture  – do you accept that we haven’t seen the extreme conditions that we might have expected?

Sir Brian Hoskins: I think we have seen these heavy rainfall events around the world. We’ve seen a number of places breaking records – Australia with the temperatures going to new levels.

Justin Webb: The trouble is we report those, and we’re interested in them, but there is an effect that is possibly an obfuscatory effect on the real picture, and you accept that that might be the case?

Sir Brian Hoskins: Absolutely, and we have to be very careful to not say “oh there’s records everywhere therefore climate is changing.” But we are very sure that the temperature has risen by about 0.8 degrees, the arctic sea ice has reached a minimum level in the summer which hasn’t been seen for a very, very long time, the Greenland ice sheet and the west Antarctic ice sheet have been measured to be decreasing. There are all the signs that we are changing this climate system. Now as we do this – as the system warms – it doesn’t just warm uniformly, the temperature changes by different amounts in different regions. That means that the weather that feeds off those temperature contrasts is changing and will change. It’s not just a smooth change – it’s a change in the weather. It’s a change in the regional climate we can expect.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson?

Lord Lawson: I think we want to focus not on this extremely speculative and uncertain area – I don’t blame the climate scientists for not knowing. Climate and weather is quite extraordinarily complex and this is a very new form of science. All I blame them for is pretending they know when they don’t. Anyhow, what we ought to focus on is what we’re going to do. I think this is a wake-up call. We need to abandon this crazy and costly policy of spending untold millions on littering the countryside with useless wind turbines and solar panels, and moving from a sensible energy policy of having cheap and reliable forms of energy to a policy of having unreliable and costly energy. Give up that. What we want to focus on – it’s very important – is making sure this country is really resilient and robust to whatever nature throws at us, whether there’s a climate element or not. Flood defences, sea defences – that’s what we want to focus on.

Justin Webb: Can I just put this to you? If there is a chance – and some people would say there is a strong chance that man-made global warming exists and is having an impact on us; doesn’t it make sense whether or not you believe that’s a 95% chance or a 50% chance or whatever, does it not make sense to take care to try to avoid the kind of emissions that may be contributing to it? What could be wrong with that?

Lord Lawson: Everything. First of all, even if there is warming – and there’s been no recorded warming over the past 15, 16, 17 years.

Justin Webb: Well, there is a lot of controversy about that.

Lord Lawson: No there’s not, that’s a fact. That is accepted even by the IPCC.

Justin Webb: There’s no measured warming.

Lord Lawson: Can I continue my sentence?

Justin Webb: Well alright, we’ll get back to that.

Lord Lawson: No measured warming, exactly. Well that measurement is not unimportant. But even if there is some problem, it is not going to affect any of the dangers except marginally. What we want to do is focus with the problems there are with climate – drought, floods and so on. These have happened in the past – they’re not new. As for emissions, this country is responsible for less than 2% of global emissions. Even if we cut our emissions to 0 – which would put us back to the pre-industrial revolution and the poverty that that gave – even if we did that, it would be outweighed by China’s increase in emissions in a single year. So it is absolutely crazy this policy. It cannot make sense at all.

Justin Webb: Sir Brian?

Sir Brian Hoskins: I think we have to learn two lessons from this. The first one is that by increasing the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, to levels not seen for millions of years on this planet, we are performing a very risky experiment. We’re pretty confident that that means if we go on like we are the temperatures are going to rise somewhere between 3-5 degrees by the end of this Century, sea levels up to half to 1 metre rise.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson was saying there that there had been a pause – which you hear a lot about – a pause of 10 / 15 years in measured rising of temperature. That is the case isn’t it?

Sir Brian Hoskins: It hasn’t risen very much over the last 10-15 years. If you measure the climate from the globally averaged surface temperature, during that time the excess energy has still been absorbed by the climate system and is being absorbed by the oceans.

Justin Webb: So it’s there somewhere?

Sir Brian Hoskins: Oh yes, it’s there in the oceans.

Lord Lawson: That is pure speculation.

Sir Brian Hoskins: No, it’s a measurement.

Lord Lawson: No, it’s not. It’s speculation.

Justin Webb: Well, it’s a combination of the two isn’t it? As this whole discussion is…. Lord Lawson and Sir Brian Hoskins, thank you very much.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


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."

Calvin Coolidge said, "If you see 10 troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you." He could have been talking about Warmists.

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

Something no Warmist could take on board: "Knuth once warned a correspondent, "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it." -- Prof. Donald Knuth, whom some regard as the world's smartest man

"To be green is to be irrational, misanthropic and morally defective. They are the barbarians at the gate we have to stand against" -- Rich Kozlovich


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

Update: After 8 years of confronting the frankly childish standard of reasoning that pervades the medical journals, I have given up. I have put the blog into hibernation. In extreme cases I may put up here some of the more egregious examples of medical "wisdom" that I encounter. Greenies and food freaks seem to be largely coterminous. My regular bacon & egg breakfasts would certainly offend both -- if only because of the resultant methane output

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"

Cook the crook who cooks the books

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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