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 March, 2016

Arctic news

Sea ice was down a bit for most of March but it has now popped back up to a level similar to that in other recent years.  The graph tells all:

2016 is the black line

How awful for the Warmists.  The Arctic is all they've got.  I imagine they will console themselves by saying today is the 15th lowest or some such.  You have to be creative with the truth to be a Warmist -- which mostly means taking refuge in trivialities

SOURCE for the graph


The following is amusing.  It looks like the upswing began on 25th.

"Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)  said that the sea ice cover attained an average maximum extent of 14.52m sq km (5.607m sq miles) on 24 March, the lowest winter maximum since records began in 1979. The low beats a record set only last year of 14.54m sq km (5.612m sq miles), reached on 25 February 2015".


No matter how warm or cool a year is, it always proves global warming

As we all know, Warmists have seized on the slight warming in 2015 as "proving" Warmism to be right.  El Nino is ignored. So the year 2011 must have been hard for them.  I downloaded the 2011 chart from CRU in 2012.  It is below.  That was only the 12th Warmest year on record.  So did such a dismal figure shake their faith in Warmism at all?  No way!  They went on proclaiming their twisted gospel as before

Why renewable energy is a worse option than nuclear

Comment from South Africa

THERE is a strange belief in the new green religion that "renewable" always means "good". It doesn’t. Slave labour is a form of renewable energy but is far from good. Wood is renewable but the burning of trees for firewood is causing environmental calamity in Africa. Solar and wind energy are both excellent for many applications such as solar water-heating, windmills on Karoo farms and the provision of small amounts of electricity in remote households, clinics and schools. But they are bad for generating grid electricity — bad for the environment and bad for the economy.

The Western Cape provides a good demonstration of energy realities. About 30km north of Cape Town is Koeberg Nuclear Power Station; a further 30km north is the Darling Wind Farm. A comparison of the two is instructive.

Koeberg consists of two units of 900MW capacity each. It was built in nine years, which included a long delay for sabotage, and completed in 1985. Its average electricity production is about 12,600 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year.

The Darling Wind Farm consists of four wind turbines of 1.3MW capacity each. It was built in eight months and completed in 2008. According to its website, it is estimated to produce 8.6GWh a year. Wind farms typically produce less electricity than predicted, but let us accept this figure.

The "load factor" or "capacity factor" of a power plant tells what the plant actually generates compared with its capacity. If it has a capacity to generate 100MW but over a period of time actually produces an average of 70MW, its load factor is 70%.

On these figures, Koeberg has a load factor of 80%. This is not bad but it is by no means the best for nuclear stations. In the US, the load factor for nuclear power is 90%. The Darling Wind Farm has a load factor of 18.9%. This is pretty good for wind. In Germany, Europe’s biggest generator of wind power, the load factor is 17%.

It would require 5,860 Darling wind turbines to generate the same amount of electricity as Koeberg. Imagine 5,860 of these huge machines, each 81m high, compared with Koeberg’s two reactor buildings, each 57m high. Imagine the thousands of kilometres of transmission lines. Imagine the colossal, wasteful, inefficient use of the earth’s resources (wind requires 10 times more concrete and steel than nuclear per kilowatt hour, or kWh).

Wind turbines elsewhere are even bigger than Darling’s, looming over local landscapes like Goliaths. "Gigantic is beautiful!" could be the slogan of wind power.

If these 5,860 wind turbines were built at the same rate as the Darling Wind Farm, it would take 970 years. If they were built in the same time as Koeberg, it would mean building more than 12 wind turbines every week for nine years. It is a fallacy that wind turbines can be built more quickly than nuclear power plants.

But this does not tell half of wind’s problems. With nuclear (or coal or gas), the electricity is generated when you want it for as long as you want it. It is reliable and predictable. With wind, the electricity is produced only if the wind happens to be blowing at the right strength, which is seldom and unpredictable. Because of this, one kWh of wind electricity has far less value than one kWh of nuclear electricity, if indeed it has any value at all. (In 2008, our gold mines shut down because Eskom could not guarantee electricity supply. Unreliable electricity was worthless to them.)

Wind for grid electricity depends completely on governments. Because it is so expensive and unreliable, nobody will put a single cent into it unless the government forces taxpayers or consumers to pay huge operating subsidies for it. Governments compel utilities to buy wind electricity at very high prices, whether they want it or not, whenever the wind happens to be blowing. With nuclear, coal and gas, the generator serves the customer. With wind, the customer serves the generator.

The UK has more than 3,000 wind turbines with a capacity of more than 5,000MW. Because of its latitude, the UK has relatively good wind conditions. But a study by the John Muir Trust (which looked only at the records of electricity production) showed that on 124 occasions from November 2008 to December 2010, the total generation of wind power was less than 20MW. The load factor over these periods was less than 0.4%.

This exposes another fallacy of wind power, that "the wind is always blowing somewhere". In recent cold winters in northern Europe, when electricity was desperately demanded, the wind turbines from Ireland to Germany were producing next to nothing.

If you look at any graph of a nation’s electricity demand, you will see a fairly predictable curve that peaks at breakfast and supper time on weekdays and dips on weekends and at night. The difference between minimum and maximum demand is about two to one. Now look at a graph of wind electricity production. It shows violent, unpredictable fluctuations. The difference between minimum and maximum production is hundreds to one or more.

Nuclear power has by far the best safety record of any energy technology, much better than wind.

The Fukushima nuclear accident last year provided a spectacular demonstration of nuclear safety. A monstrous earthquake and tsunami, which killed 25,000 people, hit old-fashioned Japanese nuclear plants run by a negligent and corrupt utility; four were severely damaged and thousands of people were evacuated, yet the radiation from the accident has killed nobody and is unlikely to do so.

Meanwhile, in recent years, thousands of people have been killed in accidents in coal, gas, hydro, oil and wind.

Because of the vast amounts of uranium and thorium on earth, nuclear power is sustainable for the remaining life of the planet. Nuclear waste, tiny in volume, solid and stable, is easy to store so that it presents no danger to people or the environment.

The waste from wind includes the toxic, long-lived wastes from the mining of neodymium, used in wind generators, which are causing death and disease in Chinese mining communities. (It is literally true that every single energy technology, including wind and solar, produces "deadly waste that lasts for thousands of millions of years" but with proper care we know how to deal with it from generation to generation. Nuclear waste presents nothing new, including plutonium and fission products.)

Solar energy, especially in sunny South Africa, seems better than wind but, for grid electricity, it is even more expensive and with even lower load factors.

Nuclear versus renewable energy boils down to this simple question: do you want to work with nature or against it?

Nature has made nuclear energy highly concentrated and reliable, allowing us to generate large amounts of electricity from small amounts of materials, very economically and with the least disruption to the environment. Nature has made wind and solar power diluted and unreliable.

It would be stupid to build a nuclear reactor plant in your attic to heat your water; solar power is far better. Similarly it is stupid to use solar or wind for grid electricity; nuclear is far better.


New Study Debunks Polar Bear Scare

If past predictions are any indication, enough ice should have melted by now as a result of anthropogenic global warming to threaten the existence of polar bears. That’s not to say Arctic sea ice is doing exceedingly well or even that it’s near average. For the record, ice extent appears to have registered a new record low this winter, though any alarm is dampened by the fact El Niño and an overall warm Pacific ocean contributed to more heat across the globe, and likely significantly so. On the flip side, it’s true also that the Arctic has not experienced the death spiral that was predicted by so many. That goes for both ice and polar bears. A new study conducted by scientists at Lakehead University in Canada should help alleviate any concerns we might have that polar bears are nearing extinction.

The authors write, “[W]e suggest that the current status of Canadian polar bear subpopulations in 2013 was 12 stable/increasing and one declining (Kane Basin). We do not find support for the perspective that polar bears within or shared with Canada are currently in any sort of climate crisis.” They continue: “We show that much of the scientific evidence indicating that some polar bear subpopulations are declining due to climate change-mediated sea ice reductions is likely flawed by poor mark–recapture (M-R) sampling and that the complex analysis models employed to overcome these capture issues apparently fail to provide accurate estimates of the demographic parameters used to determine subpopulation status.”

These findings are more or less in line with other studies, including one by Dr. Susan Crockford of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Last year she wrote, “On almost every measure, things are looking good for polar bears. Scientists are finding that they are well distributed throughout their range and adapting well to changes in sea ice. Health indicators are good and they are benefiting from abundant prey.” Moreover, other estimates show that the polar bear population has increased significantly over the years and now sits in the tens of thousands, perhaps as high as 30,000.

Paradoxically, alarmists may be looking at the situation totally backwards — and again we turn to Crockford for explanation. As The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch writes, “Shrinking Arctic sea ice may not be the real threat to polar bears. Veteran zoologist Susan Crockford argues that thick spring ice is a bigger problem for polar bears than sparse summer ice.” Crockford says, “Thick spring ice near shore drives seals to give birth elsewhere because they cannot maintain their breathing holes in the ice. This leaves mothers emerging from onshore dens with newborn cubs with nothing to eat at a time when they desperately need food: cubs die quickly, mothers more slowly.”

We conclude by noting the Lakehead University researchers aren’t what we would label climate “deniers.” In the report, they write, “We see reason for concern, but find no reliable evidence to support the contention that polar bears are currently experiencing a climate crisis. We suggest that the qualitative projections for dramatic reductions in population numbers and range are overly pessimistic given the response of polar bears, climate, and sea ice to the present.” In other words, they’re demonstrating an objective approach to the scientific evidence. And that’s something the entire climate community should emulate.


The EPA Is Using Private Emails to Talk to Lobbyists

A recent report from the Daily Caller highlights how the Environmental Protection Agency frequently uses private email accounts to communicate with environmental lobbyists, ducking the transparency and record-keeping requirements that are supposed to bind the agency.

One characteristic email from a lobbyist for green advocacy groups, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), explicitly requested that EPA Senior Counsel Joe Goffman forward an email to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's private account.

“Joe," the email begins, "Would you please send this email to Gina for me? I would have sent it to her directly with a cc to you but I don’t have a private email address for her and would prefer to not use an office email address,” Following that introduction is a message outlining specific concerns about a pending regulation, and how it would impact the author's clients.

Upon seeing the report, Executive Director of FreedomWorks Foundation Curt Levey, who heads the organization’s regulatory reform project, commented: "Under the best circumstances, the growth of the regulatory state is a threat to the constitutional limits on the power of the federal government. The cronyism and contempt for accountability at these executive branch agencies only makes the problem worse. Not only are the regulatory agencies run by unelected bureaucrats, with no incentive to do right by the American people, but they continue to act in ways that indicate that they think they are above the law."

While the private email server used by Hillary Clinton when she served as Secretary of State may be the most outrageous example, it appears that this type of behavior is far from an anomaly in Washington. Transparency guidelines exist for a good reason; government is uniquely positioned to impose burdens on businesses and individuals, and enforce them with any legal means necessary. Such power is dangerous if unchecked, and so the American people have a right to know what regulators at the EPA are up to. By using private email accounts, the agency robs the public of that ability.

Private communications with lobbyists indicate a desire to cut deals or trade favors far away from the watchful eyes of the citizenry, a motivation that can't be good for freedom of any kind. The EPA is doing this in more than a few cases, and who knows what other federal agencies are doing the same or worse. So long as government bureaucrats sufficiently cover their tracks, even FOIA requests are unlikely to uncover the truth.

Al this underscores the need for restoring the separation of powers originally intended by America's Founding Fathers and enshrined in the Constitution – that is, Congress makes the laws and the executive branch executes them. Federal bureaucrats, who have little accountability to voters in the best case and even less when they evade transparency requirements, must be prevented from writing de facto laws under the guise of interpreting legislation.


Health Officer Gets Migraines When Visiting Wind Project

DENMARK, WI - Brown County appears to be digging a deeper and deeper hole for itself as more facts come to light surrounding Duke Energy’s Shirley Windpower. After an unusually long almost 3 month delay in satisfying a resident’s open records request, the records ultimately provided expose that former Brown County Health Officer Chua Xiong feels ill when visiting the Shirley Wind facility. In an email to her intern Carolyn Harvey she states:

“Carolyn the times I have been out there by the Wind Turbines, l get such migraine headaches. I think I should take some preventative Tylenol before I head out there.”

Despite this admission, approximately one month later Ms. Xiong went on to make her declaration that “Currently there is insufficient scientific evidence-based research to support the relationship between wind turbines and health concerns.” She then went further in saying that this was her “final decision” and that she would only monitor the situation “on an annual basis”. In this decision she completely ignored the real world health impact of Duke Energy’s wind turbines on Brown County families as evidenced through their sworn affidavits and their documentation of past and continued suffering, not to mention her own repeated migraines when in proximity to Duke’s turbines.

So what has happened between Ms. Xiong’s declaration and the March 18th release of the open records showing that Brown County’s Health Officer Chua Xiong suffers migraines when she is by the Shirley Wind turbines? On March 4th, Ms. Xiong submitted her resignation to County Executive Troy Streckenbach. He did not share this with County department heads until just two days prior to March 18th, Ms. Xiong’s last day. This date also coincides with Executive Streckenbach’s announcement of Brown County Corporation Counsel Juliana Ruenzel’s resignation.

Ms. Ruenzel served as head legal counsel who participated in all closed sessions meetings regarding Shirley Wind, and was in charge of reviewing open records requests. The facts of her resignation have not been disclosed. According to sources, Ruenzel opted to not state why the sudden departure.

It is high time that Brown County and its Health Director follow the lead of its own Board of Health who unanimously declared Duke’s wind turbines in Glenmore a “Human Health Hazard”. They need to recognize that residents are sick, homes have been abandoned, that outsiders (even the County’s own Health Director) feel ill while in the project area, and FINALLY do whatever is necessary to protect the health and safety of southern Brown County residents. Brown County does not need Shirley Wind to become its Flint, Michigan. Until the County does the right thing and takes action, families will continue to suffer, the County’s inaction will escalate their legal liability, and this issue will not go away.


Australia: Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching at 95 per cent in northern section -- attributed to global warming

What bulldust!  For a start, coral bleaching is NOT coral death.  It is a stress response that leads to the expulsion of symbiotic algae.  There are about half a dozen things that can cause it.  And the ONE thing that can be excluded as a cause is anthropogenic global warming.  Why?  Because there has been none of that for nearly 19 years.  Things that don't exist don't cause anything. 

The ocean waters MAY have warmed but that will be due to natural factors such as El Nino.  The 2015 and early 2016 temperature upticks were DEMONSTRABLY due to El Nino and other natural factors, as CO2 levels were plateaued at the relevant time.

And it is not at all certain that a small temperature rise causes bleaching.  An ancient coral reef specimen now on display at the Natural History Museum in London is instructive.  It goes back to  160 million years ago.  The exhibit is proof that ancestors of modern corals somehow thrived during the Late Jurassic period when temperatures were warmer and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide higher than they are today.

And if that's ancient history, how come corals survive in the Persian Gulf today at temperatures up to 8 degrees hotter that what we see in the tropical Pacific?

Bleaching may even be a positive thing. In recent years, scientists have discovered that some corals resist bleaching by hosting types of algae that can handle the heat, while others swap out the heat-stressed algae for tougher, heat-resistant strains.

And a recent study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science showed that warming in Australian waters actually INCREASED coral growth over the 20th century.

I could go on but I think I have said enough

All the points I have made above could have been made by any competent marine biologist  -- and I can provide references for  them all.  But I am not a marine biologist.  I am a psychologist.  What a harrowed world we live in where a psychologist has to give the basic information that marine biologists dare not give.

An aerial survey of the northern Great Barrier Reef has shown that 95 per cent of the reefs are now severely bleached — far worse than previously thought.

Professor Terry Hughes, a coral reef expert based at James Cook University in Townsville who led the survey team, said the situation is now critical.

"This will change the Great Barrier Reef forever," Professor Hughes told 7.30.

"We're seeing huge levels of bleaching in the northern thousand-kilometre stretch of the Great Barrier Reef."

Of the 520 reefs he surveyed, only four showed no evidence of bleaching.  From Cairns to the Torres Strait, the once colourful ribbons of reef are a ghostly white.

"It's too early to tell precisely how many of the bleached coral will die, but judging from the extreme level even the most robust corals are snow white, I'd expect to see about half of those corals die in the coming month or so," Professor Hughes said.

This is the third global coral bleaching since 1998, and scientists have found no evidence of these disasters before the late 20th century.

"We have coral cores that provide 400 years of annual growth," explains Dr Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

"We don't see the signatures of bleaching in reduced growth following a bleaching event until the recent 1998/2000 events."

Environment Minister Greg Hunt flew over the reef just eight days ago, before Professor Hughes' aerial survey, and announced some additional resources for monitoring the reef.

"There's good and bad news — the bottom three quarters of the reef is in strong condition," he said at the time.

"[But] as we head north of Lizard Island it becomes increasingly prone to bleaching."

The northern part of the Great Barrier Reef is the most pristine part of the marine park — and that is one possible glimmer of hope.

"On the bright side, it's more likely that these pristine reefs in the northern section will be better able to bounce back afterwards," Professor Hughes said.

"Nonetheless we're looking at 10-year recovery period, so this is a very severe blow."

Professor Justin Marshall, a reef scientist from the University of Queensland, said the reason for these bleaching events was clear.

"What we're seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change," he told 7.30.

"The world has agreed, this is climate change, we're seeing climate change play out across our reefs."

Professor Hughes said he is frustrated about the whole climate change debate.

"The government has not been listening to us for the past 20 years," he said.

"It has been inevitable that this bleaching event would happen, and now it has.

"We need to join the global community in reducing greenhouse gas 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


30 March, 2016

Arctic sea ice reaches a record low: Scientists say 'disturbing' data points to a long-term trend in global warming

Arrant nonsense.  Arctic temperatures increased FAR more than global temperatures.  So this is a local effect, not a global one.  It is Arctic-specific with no demonstrable relevance to CO2 emissions or the alleged effects of CO2 emissions. Since CO2 emissions were in fact flat overall in 2015 and into 2016, it is DEMONSTRABLE that they did not cause the Arctic warming. Non-change doesn't cause change.  The warming could have been caused by oscillations in ocean currents, oscillations in air currents or subsurface vulcanism.  Nobody knows

The growth of Arctic sea ice this winter peaked reached another milestone.

It recorded the lowest maximum level of ice on record, thanks to extraordinarily warm temperatures.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center says ice covered a maximum of 5.607 million square miles of the Arctic Ocean in 2016.

That's 5,000 square miles less than the old record set in 2015 — a difference slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. 

It's also some 431,000 miles less than the 30-year average. That difference is the size of Texas and California combined.

Records go back to 1979 when satellites started measuring sea ice, which forms when Arctic Ocean water freezes.

This year's ice didn't break the record by much, but it's 'an exclamation point' on a longer-term trend, said Nasa scientist Walt Meier, who helped calculate the data.

The sub-par showing doesn't necessarily mean that the minimum extent this summer will also break a record, scientists said.

The summer minimum is more important for affecting Earth's climate and weather.

Data center scientist Julienne Stroeve says winter temperatures over the North Pole were 16 degrees warmer than normal, while other parts of the Arctic ran 4 to 11 degrees warmer than normal.

Data center chief Mark Serreze said: 'I have never seen such a warm, crazy winter in the Arctic.' 'It was so warm that the Barents Sea was 'pretty much close to ice -free for almost the whole winter, which is very unusual,' Meier said. Stroeve said early indications show that the sea ice is thinner than last year.

A leading but still controversial theory says loss of sea ice in the Arctic may change the jet stream and bring more extreme weather to the US, Stroeve said.

The new report reveals 'just the latest disturbing data point in a disturbing trend wherein climate changes are happening even faster than we had forecast,' Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said.

However, Nasa adds that the cap of sea ice over the Arctic Ocean is always changing.

Each winter it grows dramatically, usually reaching its maximum in March.It melts just as dramatically each summer, reaching its minimum in September.

In 2015-16, that winter growth got off to a leisurely start due in part to a month of unusually warm weather in the region.

They link this to a phenomenon known as the Arctic Oscillation. This involves differences in air pressure over the Arctic and lower latitudes.

Scientists say a shift in the Arctic Oscillation likely weakened the atmospheric barrier between the polar latitudes and the mid-latitudes


More than global warming afflicts endangered Shishmaref

The village of Shishmaref is as much a global symbol as an Alaska town. Located on Sarichef Island off the northern coast of the Seward Peninsula, the tiny community is remote even by Alaska standards. The population, which hovers around 560 residents, is almost entirely Inupiat and the economy primarily built around subsistence rather than cash.

What brought Shishmaref international renown is its precarious state. Sarichef is eroding in no small part due to the pernicious effects of climate change. There’s no question that the village will be abandoned at some point in the relatively near future. This impending fate has brought researchers and reporters from all over the world into town, and their consensus is that the residents of Shishmaref will soon be among the world’s first people to become climate refugees in the truest sense of the term.

The reality is somewhat more complicated.

“Fierce Climate Sacred Ground” is a brief book by Oregon State University-Cascades anthropology professor Elizabeth Marino. Based on her ethnographic studies of the people of Shishmaref, it places their plight in a broader context than just global warming. Drawn from her doctoral dissertation, written while she was a graduate student at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, it’s a somewhat academically oriented work, but one that remains accessible. It is essential reading for the heightened perspective it offers on a situation too often simplified for the purposes of those with differing political objectives.

The popular version of the story, Marino explains, is that Shishmaref is a small village of people living a deeply traditional lifestyle who are in danger of losing everything to forces far away and beyond their control. This understanding is true to an extent, but it overlooks the history of the community. 

Government role

What has caused Shishmaref to stand out for many is the somewhat mistaken belief that unlike climate refugees elsewhere on the planet, residents of this village are losing their homes entirely to climate change. This differs from climate crises in developing nations, where a combination of political ineptitude, economic failures and environmental challenges created vulnerable populations and where rising temperatures are simply the final blow to fragile communities. 

As Marino explains, in America we like to think that our own government didn’t play a role in creating problems like the one in Shishmaref. She doesn’t explicitly say it, but this view is useful to both environmentalists and economic conservatives. For environmentalists it means the entirety of the situation can be blamed on human carbon emissions, while conservatives can insist that since the government didn’t place the village on Sarichef, it shouldn’t be responsible for relocating it.

In truth, the government did play an important role in locating the town. Shishmaref has on one level existed hundreds of years, but historically it was a seasonally occupied settlement used by people who migrated across the landscape seeking the best places to gather food. 

Early in the 20th century the U.S. government pursued a deliberate policy of ending all nomadic lifestyles among Native Americans. The people of Shishmaref weren’t forcibly collectivized in the way that Natives were elsewhere in the country in the 19th century, but the government’s opening of a school in Shishmaref, coupled with the onset of compulsory education, had the same effect. 

For the traditionally mobile Inupiat who settled there, Shishmaref made a certain amount of sense. It’s ideally located for winter hunting on sea ice and close enough to the mainland to access traditional subsistence grounds in summer. It was, however, always tenuous ground to build on. 

Desperate situation

Erosion has been impacting Sarichef for a very long time, and as early as the 1970s there was already talk of moving Shishmaref to the mainland. 

The problem is that the village itself lacks the resources to do so, while neither the state of Alaska nor the federal government is eager to pick up the tab, and the bureaucratic hurdles are enormous.

Compounding residents’ woes, since it is considered temporary even by some of the people who live there, the village has not seen the sort of upgrades other rural communities in Alaska have received. Instead a series of mostly failed stopgap measures have been taken to try to ward off erosion while the decision of where and when to move the town keeps getting studied and discussed into oblivion. Meanwhile, the steadily lengthening ice-free season has left shorelines exposed to storms that themselves are aggravated by climate change, speeding the pace of erosion and consistently thwarting efforts at maintaining the ground beneath the town.

For residents of Shishmaref, it’s a desperate situation. As a people they have lived in the region for centuries, and they see remaining there as integral to their cultural identity. If, as many have suggested, they simply integrate into other towns, they lose their sense of who they are. For the people of Shishmaref, Marino explains, this would be cultural genocide. Their lands and subsistence lifestyle define them. Everything else about their culture has already been taken away. That they live in a town rather than nomadically was entirely due to decisions made in Washington, D.C., and Juneau. Their present dilemma springs from a history over which they were often deprived of a say. What they want most this time is a voice in their own fate.

Midway through her book, Marino asks, “Is the risk posed to Shishmaref the product of climate change or the product of a history of development that ignored local knowledge and removed local adaptation strategies?” While much of the reporting on Shishmaref has focused on the former cause, Marino’s important book shows us that, in her own words, “the simple equation that anthropogenic climate change = erosion = relocation is not an accurate analysis of this complex sociological system.” 

History, she demonstrates, shows us why this is. 


The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

Pick up a research paper on battery technology, fuel cells, energy storage technologies or any of the advanced materials science used in these fields, and you will likely find somewhere in the introductory paragraphs a throwaway line about its application to the storage of renewable energy.  Energy storage makes sense for enabling a transition away from fossil fuels to more intermittent sources like wind and solar, and the storage problem presents a meaningful challenge for chemists and materials scientists… Or does it?

Guest Post by John Morgan. John is Chief Scientist at a Sydney startup developing smart grid and grid scale energy storage technologies.  He is Adjunct Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at RMIT, holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and is an experienced industrial R&D leader.  You can follow John on twitter at @JohnDPMorgan. First published in Chemistry in Australia.

Several recent analyses of the inputs to our energy systems indicate that, against expectations, energy storage cannot solve the problem of intermittency of wind or solar power.  Not for reasons of technical performance, cost, or storage capacity, but for something more intractable: there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization.

The problem is analysed in an important paper by Weißbach et al.1 in terms of energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI – the ratio of the energy produced over the life of a power plant to the energy that was required to build it.  It takes energy to make a power plant – to manufacture its components, mine the fuel, and so on.  The power plant needs to make at least this much energy to break even.  A break-even powerplant has an EROEI of 1.  But such a plant would pointless, as there is no energy surplus to do the useful things we use energy for.

There is a minimum EROEI, greater than 1, that is required for an energy source to be able to run society.  An energy system must produce a surplus large enough to sustain things like food production, hospitals, and universities to train the engineers to build the plant, transport, construction, and all the elements of the civilization in which it is embedded.

For countries like the US and Germany, Weißbach et al. estimate this minimum viable EROEI to be about 7.  An energy source with lower EROEI cannot sustain a society at those levels of complexity, structured along similar lines.  If we are to transform our energy system, in particular to one without climate impacts, we need to pay close attention to the EROEI of the end result.

The EROEI values for various electrical power plants are summarized in the figure.  The fossil fuel power sources we’re most accustomed to have a high EROEI of about 30, well above the minimum requirement.  Wind power at 16, and concentrating solar power (CSP, or solar thermal power) at 19, are lower, but the energy surplus is still sufficient, in principle, to sustain a developed industrial society.  Biomass, and solar photovoltaic (at least in Germany), however, cannot.  With an EROEI of only 3.9 and 3.5 respectively, these power sources cannot support with their energy alone both their own fabrication and the societal services we use energy for in a first world country.

Energy Returned on Invested, from Weißbach et al.,1 with and without energy storage (buffering).  CCGT is closed-cycle gas turbine.  PWR is a Pressurized Water (conventional nuclear) Reactor.  Energy sources must exceed the “economic threshold”, of about 7, to yield the surplus energy required to support an OECD level society.
Energy Returned on Invested, from Weißbach et al.,1 with and without energy storage (buffering).  CCGT is closed-cycle gas turbine.  PWR is a Pressurized Water (conventional nuclear) Reactor.  Energy sources must exceed the “economic threshold”, of about 7, to yield the surplus energy required to support an OECD level society.

These EROEI values are for energy directly delivered (the “unbuffered” values in the figure).  But things change if we need to store energy.  If we were to store energy in, say, batteries, we must invest energy in mining the materials and manufacturing those batteries.  So a larger energy investment is required, and the EROEI consequently drops.

Weißbach et al. calculated the EROEIs assuming pumped hydroelectric energy storage.  This is the least energy intensive storage technology.  The energy input is mostly earthmoving and construction.  It’s a conservative basis for the calculation; chemical storage systems requiring large quantities of refined specialty materials would be much more energy intensive.  Carbajales-Dale et al.2 cite data asserting batteries are about ten times more energy intensive than pumped hydro storage.

Adding storage greatly reduces the EROEI (the “buffered” values in the figure).  Wind “firmed” with storage, with an EROEI of 3.9, joins solar PV and biomass as an unviable energy source.  CSP becomes marginal (EROEI ~9) with pumped storage, so is probably not viable with molten salt thermal storage.  The EROEI of solar PV with pumped hydro storage drops to 1.6, barely above breakeven, and with battery storage is likely in energy deficit.

This is a rather unsettling conclusion if we are looking to renewable energy for a transition to a low carbon energy system: we cannot use energy storage to overcome the variability of solar and wind power.

In particular, we can’t use batteries or chemical energy storage systems, as they would lead to much worse figures than those presented by Weißbach et al.  Hydroelectricity is the only renewable power source that is unambiguously viable.  However, hydroelectric capacity is not readily scaled up as it is restricted by suitable geography, a constraint that also applies to pumped hydro storage.

This particular study does not stand alone.  Closer to home, Springer have just published a monograph, Energy in Australia,3 which contains an extended discussion of energy systems with a particular focus on EROEI analysis, and draws similar conclusions to Weißbach.  Another study by a group at Stanford2 is more optimistic, ruling out storage for most forms of solar, but suggesting it is viable for wind.  However, this viability is judged only on achieving an energy surplus (EROEI>1), not sustaining society (EROEI~7), and excludes the round trip energy losses in storage, finite cycle life, and the energetic cost of replacement of storage.  Were these included, wind would certainly fall below the sustainability threshold.

It’s important to understand the nature of this EROEI limit.  This is not a question of inadequate storage capacity – we can’t just buy or make more storage to make it work.  It’s not a question of energy losses during charge and discharge, or the number of cycles a battery can deliver.  We can’t look to new materials or technological advances, because the limits at the leading edge are those of earthmoving and civil engineering.  The problem can’t be addressed through market support mechanisms, carbon pricing, or cost reductions.  This is a fundamental energetic limit that will likely only shift if we find less materially intensive methods for dam construction.

This is not to say wind and solar have no role to play.  They can expand within a fossil fuel system, reducing overall emissions.  But without storage the amount we can integrate in the grid is greatly limited by the stochastically variable output.  We could, perhaps, build out a generation of solar and wind and storage at high penetration.  But we would be doing so on an endowment of fossil fuel net energy, which is not sustainable.  Without storage, we could smooth out variability by building redundant generator capacity over large distances.  But the additional infrastructure also forces the EROEI down to unviable levels.  The best way to think about wind and solar is that they can reduce the emissions of fossil fuels, but they cannot eliminate them.  They offer mitigation, but not replacement.

Nor is this to say there is no value in energy storage.  Battery systems in electric vehicles clearly offer potential to reduce dependency on, and emissions from, oil (provided the energy is sourced from clean power).  Rooftop solar power combined with four hours of battery storage can usefully timeshift peak electricity demand,3 reducing the need for peaking power plants and grid expansion.  And battery technology advances make possible many of our recently indispensable consumer electronics.  But what storage can’t do is enable significant replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy.

If we want to cut emissions and replace fossil fuels, it can be done, and the solution is to be found in the upper right of the figure.  France and Ontario, two modern, advanced societies, have all but eliminated fossil fuels from their electricity grids, which they have built from the high EROEI sources of hydroelectricity and nuclear power.  Ontario in particular recently burnt its last tonne of coal, and each jurisdiction uses just a few percent of gas fired power.  This is a proven path to a decarbonized electricity grid.

But the idea that advances in energy storage will enable renewable energy is a chimera – the Catch-22 is that in overcoming intermittency by adding storage, the net energy is reduced below the level required to sustain our present civilization.

BNC Postscript

When this article was published in CiA some readers had difficulty with the idea of a minimum societal EROI.  Why can’t we make do with any positive energy surplus, if we just build more plant?  Hall4 breaks it down with the example of oil:

Think of a society dependent upon one resource: its domestic oil. If the EROI for this oil was 1.1:1 then one could pump the oil out of the ground and look at it. If it were 1.2:1 you could also refine it and look at it, 1.3:1 also distribute it to where you want to use it but all you could do is look at it. Hall et al. 2008 examined the EROI required to actually run a truck and found that if the energy included was enough to build and maintain the truck and the roads and bridges required to use it, one would need at least a 3:1 EROI at the wellhead.

Now if you wanted to put something in the truck, say some grain, and deliver it, that would require an EROI of, say, 5:1 to grow the grain. If you wanted to include depreciation on the oil field worker, the refinery worker, the truck driver and the farmer you would need an EROI of say 7 or 8:1 to support their families. If the children were to be educated you would need perhaps 9 or 10:1, have health care 12:1, have arts in their life maybe 14:1, and so on. Obviously to have a modern civilization one needs not simply surplus energy but lots of it, and that requires either a high EROI or a massive source of moderate EROI fuels.


A New Study Shows How Climate Science Could Be All Wrong

What could the theory of “ego depletion” possibly have to do with global warming?

Ego depletion is the idea in psychology that humans have a limited amount of willpower that can be depleted. It’s been largely accepted as true for almost two decades, after two psychologists devised an experiment in self-control that involved fresh-baked cookies and radishes.

One group of test subjects were told they could only eat the radishes, another could eat the cookies. Then they were given an unsolvable puzzle to solve. The researchers found that radish eaters gave up on the puzzle more quickly than the cookie eaters. The conclusion was that the radish eaters had used up their willpower trying not to eat the cookies.

Daniel Engber, writing in Slate, notes that the study has been cited more than 3,000 times, and that in the years after it appeared, its findings “have been borne out again and again in empirical studies. The effect has been recreated in hundreds of different ways, and the underlying concept has been verified via meta-analysis. It’s not some crazy new idea, wobbling on a pile of flimsy data; it’s a sturdy edifice of knowledge, built over many years from solid bricks.”

But, he says, it “could be completely bogus.”

A “massive effort” to recreate “the main effect underlying this work” using 2,000 subjects in two-dozen different labs on several continents found … nothing.

The study, due to be published next month in Perspectives on Psychological Science, “means an entire field of study — and significant portions of certain scientists’ careers — could be resting on a false premise.”

Engber laments that “If something this well-established could fall apart, then what’s next? That’s not just worrying. It’s terrifying.”

Actually, it’s science.

As Thomas Kuhn explained in his 1962 book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” this kind of event is typical in the course of scientific progress.

A “paradigm” takes hold in the scientific community based on early research, which subsequent studies appear to confirm, but which can later collapse as findings that don’t fit the paradigm start to accumulate. Kuhn found several such “paradigm shifts” in history.

The ego depletion findings also come as scientists are starting to realize that much, if not most, of what gets published is essentially bogus because it can’t be reproduced by subsequent studies.

“By some estimates,” notes an article in Quartz, “at least 51% — and as much as 89% — of published papers are based on studies and experiments showing results that cannot be reproduced.”

The Quartz article says one reason is a bias in scientific journals to produce “exciting studies that show strong results.”

“Studies that show strong, positive results get published, while similar studies that come up with no significant effects sit at the bottom of researchers’ drawers.”

So what does any of this have to do with global warming?

Democrats routinely accuse Republicans of being “anti-science” because they tend to be skeptical about claims made by climate scientists — whether it’s about how much man has contributed to global warming, how much warming has actually taken place, or scary predictions of future environmental catastrophes.

There’s a scientific consensus, we’re told, and anyone who doesn’t toe the line is “denier.”

Yet even as deniers get chastised, evidence continues to emerge that pokes holes in some of the basic tenets of climate change.

Evidence such as the fact that actual temperature trends don’t match what climate change computer models say should have happened since the industrial age. Or that satellite measurements haven’t shown warming for two decades. Or that past predictions of more extreme weather have failed to come true.

It is certainly possible then, that today’s climate change paradigm — and all the fear and loathing about CO2 emissions — could one day end up looking as quaint as Ptolemy’s theory of the solar system or Galen’s theory of anatomy.

It’s possible. And anyone who believes in science has to admit that.


Calls for Fracking Bans Ignore Sound Science

Some politicians and environmental activists have been quick to call for blanket bans on hydraulic fracturing under claims that the process is poisoning America’s drinking water. Scientific evidence, from both government agencies and independent analyses, proves otherwise.

For instance, The Environmental Protection Agency’s last study, released in June of 2015 and the most comprehensive government study on fracking’s impact so far, clearly states that “we did not find evidence … [of] widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

The EPA’s analysis is hardly the first study to refute the oft-repeated myth that fracking poses a serious threat to American drinking water. In 2009, the Department of Energy conducted a report that declared fracking “safe and effective.” In 2014, the Department of Energy released another study of the Marcellus Shale that found no evidence of fracking contaminating water supplies.

Again in 2014, the National Academy of Sciences released a a report finding that the contamination of water resources in Pennsylvania and Texas were attributable to well leaks, not hydraulic fracturing.

Groundwater aquifers sit thousands of feet above the level at which fracking takes place, and energy companies construct wells with steel-surface casings and cement barriers to prevent gas migration If any leaks or contamination does occur, companies should pay for the economic and environmental damages they cause from such well leaks. But these leaks are not a systemic problem of the industry, much less something that causes widespread polluted water.

Such statements by progressives and environmental activists, manifestly in conflict with actual experience and the science of the issue, pose a serious threat to the vast economic benefits of fracking. Scholars of all stripes agree that fracking is excellent for the economy, providing Americans with jobs, communities near fracking wells with economic booms, and U.S. households with significant energy savings. According a recent Energy Information Administration report:

Wholesale electricity prices at major trading hubs on a monthly average basis for on-peak hours were down 27 to 37 percent across the nation in 2015 compared with 2014, driven largely by lower natural gas prices.

Prices at the pump are down significantly, too, allowing American families to keep more of their money to use for other purposes. The current average price of regular gasoline is less than $2 per gallon. Many factors contribute to the price of gas, but domestic supply is a key component.

We save money not only through lower energy bills and cheaper gasoline, but through cheaper goods and services, because energy is a necessary component for just about all we do. Lower gas prices also reduce input and transportation costs for businesses around the country, savings that are also passed on to consumers through reduced prices in other sectors of the economy.

Moreover, hydraulic fracturing benefits low-income families most of all, which is why the Wall Street Journal termed fracking “America’s best antipoverty program.” Such an energy revolution should be embraced, not rejected out of hand.

Anti-fracking rhetoric not only conflicts with experience and science, but ignores the effective state-based regulatory system in place. The process has been regulated successfully at the state level for decades.

States have the most to gain when they permits fracking to take place, but also the most to lose if the process is done irresponsibly. The states’ effective regulation underscores the need for members of Congress to prevent duplicative federal intervention that would unnecessarily stall the oil and gas boom and drive up costs for producers and therefore consumers.

Fracking has safely provided a much needed boon to the American economy. Attacking it with unfounded rhetoric is an assault not just on the industry itself, but on American businesses and families who benefit from the influx of domestic natural gas and oil fracking companies supply. Congress should resist the demands of the environmental lobby and put more authority in the hands of the states, not less.


Some fun with a Leftist genius

I don't get a lot of emails or blog comments from Leftists but those I do get are invariably abusive.  Most conservative bloggers have that experience, I gather.  But sometimes the abuse is unintentionally amusing.

I recently got an email from an apparently Australian person named Leigh Williams ( who gave his mobile phone no. as 0405205252.  He started his first email with something I certainly believe: "I don't know anything about the specifics of climate change science".  But there was no rational argument or presentation of facts after that.  It was just abuse. So it was solid "ad hominem" abuse. 

But here's the funny bit:  What did he accuse me of?  He accused me of "ad hominem abuse"!  That good old Leftist projection cut in good and hard!

He appeared to be upset that I had spoken ill of someone but did not say whom.  Since he mentioned climate however, I imagine he might be referring to my comments on writings by Warmism acolyte  Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick.  I put up her university picture and called her "gorgeous" in a subtitle to it.  That is abuse? Calling someone "gorgeous" is abuse?  Leigh Williams is certainly in a mental fog.  But most of the Green/Left seem to be in a permanent mental fog.

In any case, there is no reason why Leftists should have any monopoly of criticizing others.  If you offer facts and arguments in criticism of somebody else's claims that is a reasonable and routine thing to do.  When you offer no facts and arguments but proceed straight to abuse that is what is called "ad hominem abuse". And I did offer facts and figures in support of my disagreement with Ms. Perkins-Kirkpatrick. Strictly speaking, an "ad hominem" argument is one where you accept or reject a claim SOLELY because of who made it.  But that was all too deep for the foggy one.


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


29 March, 2016

Medical researchers embrace open access to research data

Will Warmists follow suit?  Not likely

Warmist "scientists" regularly disgrace themselves by refusing to make publicly available their raw research data.  What was once a routine courtesy has been destroyed by Warmist crookedness.  But the recent uproar in the social and biological sciences about unreplicable findings makes the issue more critical than ever.  It is clear that researchers regularly sift through their data and report only the bits that they like for whatever reason.  And from a statistician's viewpoint the regular practice in the medical literature of reporting only extreme quintiles is simply laughable.  Who knows what relaationships are obscured by throwing away three fifths of your data?  So there is clearly much to be gained by having the analysis of a dataset open to all comers.

And the medical literature is coming onboard with that.  Below are two scans from the latest issue of JAMA.  The point of the second scan is that even those evil old drug companies are making their raw research data generally available.  So Warmists are less ethical than drug companies.  Drug companies are a favorite hate-object of the Green/Left so  that contrast would embarrass them if they were real scientists.

A vegan who loves nukes

There is a HUGE rant by Geoff Russell on "New Matilda" about  global warming being caused by farm animals.  It bemuses me to see how many words the Green/Left usually take to make their points and this is an example of that. The article seems to go on forever.  The Green/Left must be boiling with rage to pour out so many bile-filled words. 

And despite all those words absolutely nothing is said about how humans have evolved to be omnivores and that any attempt to take meat off our dinner tables would be so widely and strongly resisted as to make the attempt futile. He seems to think it is only a "conspiracy" that keeps us eating meat.  What a wacko!

He also dosn't question global warming orthodoxy but that is unsurprising. It gives him a hook to hang his vegan crusade on.

That he is actually capable of critical thought is revealed by the second oddity about him.  He likes nuclear power.  That's perfectly rational if you believe in the evils of CO2 and CH4 but is rare on the Green/left.

And speaking of CH4, the usual swipe that Warmists take at farm animals is at their farts, which do have a lot of CH4 in them.  But CH4 intercepts warming in certain wavelengths only and water vapour also absorbs those wavelengths so the theoretical effect of CH4 on global warming translates in practice to a nil effect. So that part of Mr Russell's argument is a washout. 

It's amusing, though, that Mr Russell aims primarily at fellow Greenies.  He thinks they are conveniently overlooking  a major source of global warming. Just a few excerpts:

The makers of the US eco-ethical-documentary “Cowspiracy” are attempting to explain why the world’s largest environmental organisations have ignored the role of meat in both climate change and more generally in trashing the planet.

They use the well-worn tactic of simply asking them… or trying to. When it comes to slandering people for buggering the planet, Greenpeace apparently thinks it’s more noble to give than to receive, so they aren’t keen on being asked inconvenient questions.

This doco has lots of Michael Moore moments. People knocking on doors, asking pointed questions and getting sheepish looks. All the big US players get a mention: The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, NRDC, Rainforest Action Network, Amazon Watch, and more.

These groups all love asserting the high moral ground and aren’t used to being questioned about their submersion in a deep trench of cattle excrement.

The inconvenient truth is that none of these environmental icons care enough about their beloved planet to order the vegan option, let alone make the whole menu vegan.

In the case of Greenpeace, their PR people did the old “turn that camera off” shuffle and refused to be interviewed; … priceless!

But after all the fun and games… does Cowspiracy actually explain the inaction of at least the US environmental movement on the meat and dairy industries? Is it really a conspiracy? Is it organised and funded?

US Professor of Nutrition, Marion Nestle blew the whistle years ago with “Food Politics” on how the meat industry stacked and bullied US Government nutritional advice committees.

Cowspiracy lacks Nestle’s academic rigor, but still delivers a few hits.

When asked if the meat and dairy industries donate to environmental organisations, the Animal Agriculture Alliance spokesperson looked like a kid caught with both hands and feet in the cookie jar, and said she couldn’t comment. She refused to answer a direct question about funding Greenpeace.

In Australia, the funding link is clear and a matter of public record. As is the lack of any major campaign against meat by the big green groups (ACF, FOE, AYCC, Greens to name but a few) getting this funding. Tim Flannery is also a recipient of pastoral largess from the bovine broverhood.

Let’s be clear here: different meats have different impacts. It gets tiresome to differentiate constantly, so I’ll do it once now.

Ruminants are the primary climate culprits by way of methane and deforestation, while pigs and chickens primarily pollute air, water and other foods while diverting deforested land from food to feed, while also killing people directly via new diseases (e.g. Swine Flu) while adding to our risk of losing antibiotics.

The cattle barons supporting our big green groups obviously don’t care that their funding is common knowledge. Why? Probably because our mainstream media don’t give a damn. Aussie BBQ culture is at least as strong here as in the US; and don’t forget meat industry advertising.....

Environmental tribalism has our environmental groups automatically anti-GM and anti-nuclear as a matter of ideology. This illustrates a profoundly anti-science bias. They simply don’t get it.

You can’t credibly accept climate science but reject any other science which contradicts your policies. All the science of the last 30 years on the causes of cancer and the mechanism of DNA repair contradict the radiophobia behind green anti-nuclear policy.

When science conflicts with your policy, you may wait a little to make sure the science is solid and well supported, but if it is, then you change your policies. Any high school student can understand this, except perhaps those in AYCC.

When your science is shallow and you don’t really understand the process, you tend to pick and choose what you like. But science isn’t like that.

The human population, even the 9 billion of us expected by 2050, could actually live without doing too much environmental damage if we ate at the bottom of the food chain (vegan) and used nuclear power for all our energy needs.

Energy doesn’t have to have a large adverse footprint on the planet, unless we go with sources having a low power density, like wind, solar and biofuels. It is ironic that our environmental movement has opted for the sources of energy that will have the most impact on wildlife habitat, and therefore biodiversity.


Global warming will dump rain on dry areas – but not in a helpful way (?)

Some unwarranted journalistic enthusiasm below. The Donat study simply showed that there will be more big storms.  It showed nothing about how helpful or unhelpful or how useful or unuseful they would be.  Donat speculated about that but his study had no way of showing it

New research challenges the view that drier areas will get drier with global warming. Climate scientists suggest that as the world warms, dry regions will get more rain. Drought-stricken farmers, rejoice!

Hold the champers. While there will be more rain overall on populated areas, it's unlikely to be useful, and may make life harder for those unused to regular drenchings.

In a study published in Nature Climate Change, climate scientists from Sydney's University of New South Wales and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at 60 years of climate observations and modelled future rainfall.

They found the tropics will receive more rain with climate change – as will arid areas such as western and central Australia, California, central Asia and southwestern Africa.

Most of the rainfall will be tied up in massive storms that could lead to flash floods. Areas used to little rainfall may not be able to handle such deluges.

"The concern with an increased frequency and in particular intensity of extreme precipitation events in areas that are normally dry is that there may not be infrastructure in place to cope with extreme flooding events," lead author Markus Donat says.

And when it's not pouring, the added heat in the atmosphere will lead to more evaporation.

While climate modelling studies have suggested that wet parts of the world will become wetter while dry parts of the world will become drier, this, the authors argue, holds for large-scale simulations over oceans, not land.

To determine how wet and dry parts of the world will fare under climate change, the researchers decided to steer clear of comparing wet places to dry and try to work out the complexities between the two. Instead, they compared like with like.

When the modelling was extended into the late 21st century, he saw that rate continue for arid regions.

They took the most extreme rainfall (as in, the most that fell in a day in a year) from similarly dry land in Australia, Asia, Africa and elsewhere from 1951 to 2010. They repeated it with similarly wet regions across the world.

They averaged, separately, the extreme rainfall events across the wetter and drier areas. Over the 60-year period, they saw the fraction of annual rain that falls on the wettest day of the year matched what's known as the Clausius-Clapeyron rate.

Named after German Rudolf Clausius and Frenchman Benoît Clapeyron, both physicists known for their work in thermodynamics, the Clausius-Clapeyron rate predicts those days of extreme rainfall should increase by 6 to 7% per 1°C of warming.

Donat's simulations, using a general climate model, of that period matched the observations. When the modelling was extended into the late 21st century, he saw that rate continue for arid regions.

And while the tropics will receive more rain, Donat admits exactly how much is as yet unclear. This could be because there's simply less historical data from those areas.

William Ingram, a climate scientist at Oxford University, writes in a News and Views article that while the work won't help local meteorologists forecast days of extreme rainfall, it tells us "how risks will change – which is precisely the information needed by emergency planners".


Bees: What happened on Oahu didn’t stay on Oahu

Scientific detective work stopped cholera – now it needs to separate myths, mites and neonics

Paul Driessen

If modern activist groups held sway in the mid-nineteenth century, countless multitudes would have died from typhoid fever and cholera. The “miasma” paradigm held that the diseases were caused by foul air arising from putrid matter – and only dogged scientific work by William Budd, John Snow and others finally convinced medical and health authorities that the agent was lethal organisms in drinking water.

Ultimately, the investigators’ persistence led to discoveries of Vibrio and Salmonella bacteria, the use of chlorine-based disinfectants for drains, water purification and hand washing, programs that kept sewage away from drinking water supplies, and steady advances in germ and virus theories of medicine.

Parallels exist today, with activist politics driving the science, rather than solid science guiding informed public policy decisions. One such arena is neonicotinoid pesticides and large-scale bee deaths.

Europeans introduced domesticated honeybees to North America in the early 1600s. They helped foster phenomenal growth in important food crops like tomatoes and almonds. Indeed, over 60% of all U.S. beehives are needed each spring just to pollinate California’s extensive almond groves. By contrast, staples like wheat, rice, corn and most citrus fruits do not require animal pollination at all (by bees, hummingbirds, hover flies, butterflies and bats); these crops are self-pollinating or wind-pollinated.

Commercial beekeeping grew steadily, and today about 1% of all beekeepers manage nearly 80% of the 2.7 million U.S. honeybee colonies. The system generally functioned well until 1987, when a vicious new pest arrived. As the appropriately named Varroa destructor mite spread, beekeepers began reporting major to total losses of bees in Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin hives in spring 2006, and later in Florida, the Dakotas, southern states, both U.S. coasts, Europe and elsewhere.

Dubbed “colony collapse disorder” (CCD), the problem led to scarifying news stories about a “bee-pocalypse” and the imminent demise of modern agriculture. However, inexplicable bee colony losses had been reported in 1898, 1903, the 1960s and 1970s – even as far back as 940 AD in Ireland!

Explanations included an undefined “disappearing disease,” organophosphate pesticides, cell phone towers, GM crops that embed Bt insect killers in their genetic makeup, climate change (of course), and even a lack of “moral fiber” in bees, Paradigms and Demographics blogspot editor Rich Kozlovich notes. A psychic, he adds, claimed she was communicating with domesticated bees, who told her they were tired of being enslaved by humans and were leaving their hives to protest their crowded, inhumane conditions!

Mounting evidence suggests that today’s die-offs are primarily due to Varroa mites, along with parasitic phorid flies, Nosema fungal parasites, the tobacco ringspot virus – and even beekeepers misusing or over-using pesticides in hives to control disease outbreaks, by killing tiny bugs on little bees.

However, anti-pesticide activists and some news stories continue to blame colony deaths and other bee problems on neonicotinoid insecticides. This new class of chemicals protects crops primarily (97% of the time) by coating seeds, letting plants incorporate the pesticide into their leaves and stems, to target insects that feed on them, without harming beneficial bugs. The regular rotation of different neonic products is also the only means currently available to kill the Asian psyllids that spread “citrus greening disease” (HLB), which is decimating citrus groves in Florida and is now spreading to Texas and California groves.

This is where solid scientific detective work becomes vital. Without it, the wrong conclusions are drawn, the wrong “solutions” are applied, and the unintended consequences can be serious. For example, banning neonics will likely mean farmers are forced to use insecticides that truly are dangerous for bees.

Over the past 50 years, Varroa mites have killed off millions of honeybee colonies around the world, scientists note. Among the diseases the mites carry is deformed wing virus, which results in short, twisted or otherwise deformed and useless wings. Like many other viral infections, DWV had long been present in hives, but was generally considered harmless before Varroa became ubiquitous. Disease-carrying mites bite through the bees’ hard shell (exoskeleton) and inject viruses and infections directly into the bee blood (hemolymph). The mites’ saliva also carries an enzyme that compromises the bees’ immune systems, making the diseases far more toxic. Modern transportation methods disperse the problems far and wide.

Making the beekeepers’ challenge even more daunting, female Varroas often lay eggs in the same hexagonal beehive cells where the queen lays newly fertilized eggs, before worker bees “cap” the incubator cells. New honeybees then emerge with an infected mite already attached. And to top it off:

Trying to kill vicious bugs you can’t even see, in a box filled with some 40,000 buzzing bees that you don’t want to hurt, using chemicals that could easily become toxic – and that the Varroa mites quickly become resistant to – is a devilishly complicated business, beekeepers like Randy Oliver attest. In fact, they are already on their third generation of miticides, and Varroa have become resistant to all of them. So the battle rages on, as pesticide companies again try to gain the upper hand against the crafty pests.

Varroa was discovered on Oahu in August 2007. By spring 2008, 274 of 419 honeybee colonies on Oahu had collapsed, and wild bees had disappeared from its urban areas. Despite quarantine measures, by late 2010 the mite spread throughout the island of Hawaii. Now even effective Varroa control cannot eradicate DWV, since the disease is in their hemolymph and transmitted through feeding and sexual activity.

Studies in the United Kingdom and New Zealand found similar mite, DWV infection and CCD patterns.

Another nasty plague on honeybee houses involves parasitic phorid flies, which have now been found in California, Vermont and South Dakota hives. The flies stab bee abdomens and lay their eggs inside. When they hatch, fly larvae attack the bees’ bodies and brains, disorienting them and causing them to fly in circles and at night – giving rise to stories about zombie bees, or “zombees.” As the larvae mature into new flies, they exit the bees at their necks, decapitating them. Not surprisingly, phorid flies also carry DWV, Nosema parasites and other bee diseases.

Meanwhile, in the real world where bees interact with nature, agriculture and pesticides (rather than with artificial laboratory conditions and egregious over-exposure to those pesticides), multiple studies in Canadian and other countries’ canola and corn fields have concluded that neonicotinoids do not harm bees when used properly. And in equally good news, U.S. Department of Agriculture, StatsCanada, EU and UN data show that bee populations have been increasing over the past several years, with American and Canadian colony totals reaching their highest levels in a decade or more.

And yet, news stories still say neonics threaten domesticated and wild bees with zombee-ism and extinction. That’s partly because anti-pesticide groups are well funded, well organized, sophisticated in public relations, and aided by journalists who are lazy, gullible, believe the activist claims and support their cause, or simply live by the mantra “if it bleeds, it leads.” A phony bee-pocalypse sells papers.

The activists employ Saul Alinsky tactics to achieve political goals by manipulating science. They select and vilify a target. Devise a “scientific study” that predicts a public health disaster. Release it to the media, before honest scientists can analyze and criticize it. Generate “news” stories featuring emotional headlines and public consternation. Develop a Bigger Government “solution,” and intimidate legislators and regulators until they impose it. Pressure manufacturers to stop making and selling the product.

Too often, the campaigns are accompanied by callous attitudes about the unintended consequences. If banning neonics means older, more toxic pesticides kill millions of bees, so be it. If a DDT ban gives environmentalists more power and influence, millions of children and parents dying from malaria might be an acceptable price; at least they won’t be exposed to exaggerated or fabricated risks from DDT.

When activism and politics drives science, both science and society pay dearly. The stakes are too high, for wildlife and people, to let this continue. The perpetrators must be outed and defanged.

Via email

EPA Chief: Climate Regs Meant To Show ‘Leadership’, Not Fight Global Warming

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted her agency’s signature regulation aimed at tackling global warming was meant to show “leadership” rather than actually curb projected warming.

McCarthy admitted as much after being questioned by West Virginia Republican Rep. David McKinley, who pressed the EPA chief on why the Obama administration was moving forward with economically-damaging regulations that do nothing for the environment.

“I don’t understand,” McKinley said in a Tuesday hearing. “If it doesn’t have an impact on climate change around the world, why are we subjecting our hard working taxpayers and men and women in the coal fields to something that has no benefit?”

“We see it as having had enormous benefit in showing sort of domestic leadership as well as garnering support around the country for the agreement we reached in Paris,” McCarthy responded.

McKinley was referring to EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan, which forces states to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. The CPP is expected to double the amount of coal plant closings in the coming years, and even EPA admits it won’t have a measurable impact on projected global warming.

EPA has long argued the point of the CPP was to show the world America was serious about tackling global warming in order to galvanize support for United Nations delegates to sign a global agreement to cut emissions. Nearly 200 countries agreed to a U.N. deal last year.

“But even then no one is following us,” McKinley said. “Since that Paris accord China has already announced that they’re going to put up 360 [coal plants]. India has announced that they’re going to double their use of coal since the Paris accord.”
China has made promises to curb its coal use in order to tackle the country’s horrible air pollution problems, but China still plans on using more coal in the future. Likewise, India promised in December to double its coal production by 2020.

EPA, however, has bigger problems than global concern over warming. The Supreme Court forced the agency to stop implementing its rule in February, siding with a coalition of 29 states and state agencies suing to have the CPP thrown out.


Tasmania is on the brink of an entirely avoidable power crisis

Because of Green bribery for "renewable" power from the former Gillard government, Tasmania ran down its big hydro dams.  So the water is not now there when it is needed to cover a drought

Tasmania appears to be on the brink of a crisis, with the island state only weeks away from serious blackouts if there is no significant rainfall.

The seriousness of the issue at hand isn’t suggested by Techly as being down to mismanagement by Tasmanian officials, simply a sequence of unforeseen problems.

Multiple sources in Tasmania and the mainland describe the situation as dire.

Tasmania has just two months supply of water to feed its hydroelectric dams, unless there is significant rainfall. Energy storage, or the level of water available to generate hydro-power, is at historic lows. Rainfall into catchment areas in the past 12-months has been around one-third of projected rainfall, based on thirty-year modelling. Without hydropower, Tasmania’s energy demands at normal peaks far exceed current generation.

Dam levels were reduced during the carbon tax era, where hydroelectric or carbon neutral power generation was extremely valuable. Hydro Tasmania, the body who maintain and run a series of 55 major dams and 30 hydropower stations within, was very profitable during this time, as it drained water for great revenues.

Indeed, in the quirks of the carbon tax arrangements, the sale of renewable energy certificates or RECs accounted for more than 70 per cent of revenue inflows. (It is not suggested that reducing dam levels during this time was malfeasant.)

Basslink. Tasmania is supplied both power and data connections via the Basslink submarine cable. That cable is no small matter – it runs for 370 kilometres undersea, it is rated to 500MW and cost over a half a billion dollars to install between 2003-06, including testing and commissioning.

However, on 21 December 2015, it was announced the Basslink was disconnected due to a faulty interconnector. Given the cable is underwater, and the fault was located as around approximately 100 kilometres off the Tasmanian coast, the Basslink controlling body called Basslink first announced that it would be repaired and returned to service by 19 March 2016.

That date has since fallen into the abyss as more than 100 experts, including 16 or more from Italy, plus a specialist ship, try to fix the cable. Basslink advised on March 13th that the cable would be fixed by late May.

Normally, a Basslink outage isn’t a big deal. The mainland has to adjust how it distributes power across the Eastern Seaboard, and given the cable supplies an absolute peak of 500MW, it doesn’t shoulder the entire load, but provides greater flexibility for operators, and reduces the average cost of power. It also helps to balance peak and off-peak loads across the grid.

Additional power from non-renewables in Tasmania includes three significant gas turbine and thermal power stations which provide 535 MWh of power at full capacity.

But Tasmania has far more hydroelectric power – more than 2300MW of hydropower at full capacity.

Techly understands that if Basslink can’t be fixed for an economic cost, it may not be fixed at all, depending on the assessments currently underway.



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 March, 2016

The Next Great Global Warming 'Hiatus' Is Coming!

A strange argument from astrophysicist Ethan Siegel below.  He admits the recent influence of El Nino and says that recent temperaure upticks therefore prove nothing by themselves.  But he adds that the long term trend measured over a century or more is upwards and that THAT is what we should worry about. 

He says "But the fact that the global average temperature is rising — and that it continues to rise — is a real long-term problem facing the entire world". 

But how does he know that?  There has been NO steady rise in temperature in C20.  All we can factually say about the 20th century temperature record is that there were some periods of warming and other periods of cooling or stasis.  Whether we will have more periods of warming is completely unknown.  We could have more periods of cooling that will undo past warming.  Nobody knows.  He has a sort of paranoid certainty about him that is supported by no data

UPDATE:  I must say that I found Siegel's reasoning fascinating -- fascinating in a psychiatric sort of way.  I suspect that he may be manic. The file picture of himself that he puts up would be unusual in a well person.

But I will do him the courtesy of taking him seriously and will add a few more comments.

You can certainly put a rising trend line through the C20 temperature record and it appears that Siegel has taken that for reality. It isn't.  It is a statistical artifact only.  And it does not describe the data well.  Perhaps the most striking feature in the data is the long stasis between 1945 and 1975 -- 30 years, almost a third of the record.  That totally busts any tale of continually rising temperatures.  It makes the C21 "hiatus" of nearly 20 years look ephemeral in comparison.

Warmists of course dismiss the C21 stasis as in some way not meaningful.  But how long does it have to be for it to be meaningful?  Warmists don't say these days but when the C21 stasis was young, they  said it would have to be 15 to 17 years long to represent anything.  Now that it has exceeded that mark they no longer put a number on the matter, which reveals their argument as unscientific.  If they had any basis for accepting or rejecting meaningfulness, they would be able to put a number on it.

So in that context the 30 year stasis tells us nothing either.  But it does.  It tells us that the temperatures are unpredictable.  It tells us that we do NOT know what the future may bring.  But since we are at the end of a warm interglacial, my bet would be on future cooling

Global warming has been occurring at a steady rate for many decades now — possibly for over a century, depending on how you interpret the temperature records — with the past few years setting unprecedented temperature records around the globe. If you go back to 1948-49, the earliest time we’ve had global temperature maps for the entire world, you’ll find that over the vast majority of the Earth, there are more locations seeing the warmest temperatures right now than at any other time. But in terms of “cause for alarm,” what does this actually mean?

The first thing we have to realize is that there are two things at play here: long-term trends, which is the gradual warming we’re seeing over generational timescales, and short-term variations, which are due to things like the seasons, volcanic eruptions, and weather events like El Niño and La Niña. The record-breaking temperatures we’re seeing across the globe are due to a combination of all the short-term and long-term variations superimposed atop one another, and so although last month — February of 2016 — was the hottest month ever recorded, that isn’t necessarily a reason to freak out.

You see, we’re currently experiencing an El Niño event. If you take a look back through the temperature record, many of the largest upward “spikes” you see are due to El Niño years, such as the famous one in 1998. In fact, if you take a look at global average temperatures throughout Februaries, we haven’t had one warmer than the one in 1998 until now.

This peak in temperatures that we’re seeing now, the one that spans from 2015-2016, isn’t due to global warming. That is to say, most of the anomalously high temperatures we’re seeing are due to these short-term variations. But what should be far more concerning to anyone who wants to know the truth about climate change is this: the long-term rise in temperatures is continuing at a steady rate. The fact that temperatures appear to be rising at a rate of between  0.40-0.80 °C (0.72-1.44 °F) per century, unabated, is the real cause for concern. That’s what global warming really is, the slow, long-term rise in temperatures. That’s also the component that humans — through emissions reduction, energy efficiency, renewable power, policy changes and (possibly) geoengineering — can do something about.

But there’s an insidious argument that’s going to come up over the coming years (and possibly the next decade or two), once the current spike in temperature subsides: the idea that global warming will have stopped. Global warming doesn’t just stop. It won’t stop unless there’s a causative reason for it to stop, and — at present — there isn’t one. But because the long-term rise (i.e., the “global warming” component) is gradual, and the short-term variations (i.e., the fluctuations above an below the trend-line) are large, it’s going to appear, over 13-to-17 year timescales, that global warming has ceased.

This is because the long-term rise can be easily masked by short-term variations, and the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study — the one conducted by global warming skeptics that reached the same conclusions as the rest of the climate science community — reached the following conclusion:

"Some people draw a line segment covering the period 1998 to 2010 and argue that we confirm no temperature change in that period. However, if you did that same exercise back in 1995, and drew a horizontal line through the data for 1980 to 1995, you might have falsely concluded that global warming had stopped back then. This exercise simply shows that the decadal fluctuations are too large to allow us to make decisive conclusions about long term trends based on close examination of periods as short as 13 to 15 years"

There are prominent climatologists who have made these arguments before (who will likely make these arguments again), and they will be quoted in a great many news outlets and by numerous science writers. If you see an article that cites one of them claiming global warming has stopped and it isn’t yet 2033, the 17 years from now that we’re required to wait to see if the rise continues, please refer them back to this article.

Temperature spikes, like the one we’re experiencing now, are temporary, and in all honestly are part of the normal variations we experience over the short term. But the fact that the global average temperature is rising — and that it continues to rise — is a real long-term problem facing the entire world. Don’t let dishonest arguments that gloss over the actual issue dissuade you from the scientific facts. We can fool ourselves into believing that there isn’t a problem until it’s too late to do anything about it, or we can own up to what the science tells us, and face this problem with the full force of human ingenuity. The choice is ours.


Fracking, methane and Bill McKibben

Well-known Warmist preacher Bill McKibben has an article out under the heading: "?Global Warming’s Terrifying New Chemistry".  He is easily terrified in the hope that we will be too. Like a lot of articles in Leftist publications, it is VERY long-winded.  I sometimes wonder about that.  If they had purely factual statements to make there would surely be no more than a few paragraphs needed.  Readers will note that my posts are very short.  If you know what you are talking about, it doesn't take long to say it.

Anyway, I will not attempt to reproduce any of the huge rant concerned.  The point of the article can indeed be presented with great brevity.  McKibben says that fracking releases methane into the atmosphere and that methane there will soon fry us with global warming.  So he wants to stop fracking!

Such a simple story and so wrong.  It's probably true that atmospheric methane levels have increased as a result of leaks from fracking but does that matter?

No.  It is true that methane can absorb some heat from the electromagnetic radiation that we get from the sun.  And molecule for molecule, it absorbs a lot more heat than does CO2. 

Warmists normally stop the discussion there.  But the atmosphere is a complex thing and we have to look at methane in the context of what normally goes on in the whole atmosphere. And it so happens that water vapour absorbs the same wavelengths that methane does.  And there is a heck of a lot more water vapour in the atmosphere than methane.  So the water vapour will already have intercepted most or all of the wavelengths that methane might -- leaving no heating effect due to methane. The effects of CH4 are completely masked by H2O.  So methane is a POTENTIAL warming gas but not an ACTUAL one.  No foreseeable increase in methane would generate any increase in warming.

Isn't it strange that in his long article Bill McKibben found no space to discuss that matter?  Just another climate crook.

Coral Reefs Bounce Back Despite Warming Of Oceans

This study is one of many to find that corals are very resilient

Coral reefs have managed to bounce back, despite being under constant threat of extinction. However, marine scientists caution these fragile ecosystems are still being threatened by global warming, pollution and human activity.

The discovery of a large number of coral reefs in excellent health has been quite a joyous occasion for the researchers who routinely deal with ominous news like mass die-offs, worldwide bleaching events, oil spills, and such other calamities which have been pushing the coral reefs towards extinction, reported The Washington Post.

A decade-long study of remote islands in the Central Pacific has indicated that these coral reefs might survive despite threats posed by global warming brought on by climate change and warming of the oceans due to increasing amounts of carbon dioxide introduced by burning of fossil fuels.

In a large scale study covering 56 islands, researchers studied 450 locations that were once teeming with coral reefs. Researchers looked at regions spanning from Hawaii to American Samoa. They even investigated locations in the remote Line and Phoenix Islands as well as the Mariana Archipelago. To their surprise, they realized there are quite a few locations where coral reefs have defied the odds and bounced back to life. Smith’s report was published recently in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The researchers wanted to investigate the impact of climate change as well as a 1998 El Nino event that led to widespread bleaching. Since 1998, coral reefs had been increasingly banishing the symbiotic algae that gave them their brilliant colors and welcoming seaweed, which encroaches on the real estate once occupied by the corals. Study leader Jennifer Smith, a professor at Scripps’ Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation said the following.

    “After a bleaching event, it really matters what happens to all those dead skeletons. Do they get colonized by big seaweeds, or do they get covered by coralline algae, which are providing settlements for baby corals and providing an environment that facilitates recovery.”

Majority of the reefs that have shown signs of regaining their structure are located near far-flung islands. They are significantly healthier as compared to the reefs near islands that are heavily populated and frequented by humans. In other words, human influence, coupled with coral reef bleaching event — fueled in part by El Niño-driven Ocean warming — has had its detrimental effect on the delicate undersea ecosystem. Such was the impact and scientists had painted a very gloomy picture stating up to 70 percent of coral reefs would vanish before 2050.

It now appears the fear that these reefs were on their way to extinction, has been largely alleviated. The coral reefs that have clearly bounced back strongly indicate that such features won’t fade from existence in the coming decades, as previously feared. Speaking about the discovery of such healthy coral reefs, Smith explained its significance for the researchers.

    “There are still coral reefs on this planet that are incredibly healthy and probably look the way they did 1,000 years ago. The scientists were practically in tears when we saw some of these reefs. We’ve never experienced anything like it in our lives. It was an almost religious experience.”

Smith seems justifiably euphoric because just like environmental science, coral-reef researchers have been dealing with dying and degraded ecosystems, which can be a traumatic and rather depressing experience. However, the sight that greeted the researchers is certainly a breath of fresh air, continued Smith.

    “It’s hard to fathom. I would jump into the water and there would be so much coral, so many different species of fish, so much complexity and color. I would find myself underwater, shaking my head, looking around in disbelief that these places still existed.”

Though coral reefs occupy less than 0.1 percent of the ocean floor, they shelter close to 25 percent of all marine species, reports Los Angeles Times. Besides helping oceanic life, coral reefs also offer food, tourism and flood protection to human settlements along the coastline.


New Survey Casts More Doubt On The ‘97% Consensus’ On Global Warming

A recent survey conducted by George Mason University of more than 4,000 American Meteorological Society (AMS) members found about one-third of them don’t agree with the so-called global warming “consensus” that humans are the cause of most recent warming.

The GMU survey of AMS members found “14% think the change is caused more or less equally by human activity and natural events; and 7% think the change is caused mostly by natural events.”

“Conversely, 5% think the change is caused largely or entirely by natural events, 6% say they don’t know, and 1% think climate change isn’t happening,” according to the GMU poll.

“Fully 33% either believe climate change is not occurring, is mostly natural, or is at most half-natural and half-manmade (I tend toward that last category) … or simply think we ‘don’t know,’”

Dr. Roy Spencer a climate scientist who compiles satellite-derived temperature data at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, wrote in his blog. “For something that is supposed to be ‘settled science’, I find that rather remarkable,” wrote Spencer, who is a prominent skeptic of claims of catastrophic man-made global warming.

GMU found that 29 percent of AMS members thought global warming was “largely or entirely” caused by humans and another 38 percent believe warming is “mostly” due to humans. It should be noted, however, only 37 percent of AMS respondents considered themselves climate “experts.”

“But what I find interesting is that the supposed 97% consensus on climate change (which we know is bogus anyway) turns into only 67% when we consider the number of people who believe climate change is mostly or entirely caused by humans,” Spencer wrote.

Spencer is referring to claims from politicians and environmentalists that 97 percent of climate scientists think humans are causing global warming.

“Ninety-seven percent of scientists, including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest,” President Barack Obama said in 2013. “They’ve acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.”

The 97 percent figure has largely been cited by activists looking to squash public debates about climate science. The figure is based on a now debunked study 2013 study by Australian researcher John Cook.

“Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on [anthropogenic global warming] is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research,’’ Cook and his fellow authors wrote in their study which was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

But the definition Cook used to get his consensus was over-simplified. Only 41 out of the 11,944 published climate studies examined by Cook explicitly stated that mankind caused most of the warming since 1950 — meaning the actual consensus is 0.3 percent.

“It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97% climate consensus when on the authors’ own analysis the true consensus was well below 1%,” Dr. David Legates, a geology professor at the University of Delaware, said about a study he and four other prominent researchers authored debunking Cook’s consensus claim.

The new AMS survey, however, does show that most of the science group’s members believe global warming “is happening,” according to the GMU poll. The disagreement, however, is over what is the driving force behind global warming: is it mostly caused by humans or mostly due to natural variability?


Scientists Say Obama’s Global Warming Plan Will Fail

The efforts of President Barack Obama and other world leaders to prevent global warming will almost certainly fail, according to a new study published recently by Texas A&M scientists.

“It would require rates of change in our energy infrastructure and energy mix that have never happened in world history and that are extremely unlikely to be achieved,” Glenn Jones, a professor of marine sciences at Texas A&M who co-authored the study, said in a Wednesday statement on Science Daily. “For a world that wants to fight climate change, the numbers just don’t add up to do it.”

The study modeled the projected population growth and per capita energy consumption, as well as the size of known reserves of oil, coal and natural gas, and greenhouse gas emissions. It determined that it would be essentially impossible to meet the global warming goal of 2 degree Celsius by 2100 set by the December Paris agreement.

“The latest study just adds to what everyone other than those with their heads in the clouds already knows: the combination of a growing demand for energy and a growing population will lead to continued growth in the most practical form of energy production—one reliant on fossil fuels,” Chip Knappenberger, a climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller Caller News Foundation. “Unless a technological breakthrough in non-carbon emitting energy production occurs in the very near future, the global production of energy and the global emissions of carbon dioxide will stay pretty tightly coupled for the remainder of the century.

Significant reductions to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are extremely difficult to achieve due to the immense costs involved according to the scientists. They estimate that simply limiting global warming to the Paris agreement targets would require the annual installation of 485,000 wind turbines by 2028. Only 13,000 turbines were installed in 2015, despite the enormous tax breaks and subsidies offered to wind power.

“The costs of reducing emissions are enormous, while the reductions in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are non-existent,” Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It is nice to see scientists in the alarmist community realizing what has been obvious for decades.”

The likely costs of the kind of wind and solar power program the scientists say would be necessary to actually slow global warming would be measured in the tens of trillions of dollars, and even then success would be far from assured. The scientists conclude that other methods of reducing CO2 emissions, such as significantly increasing the number of nuclear reactors, would run into political opposition from environmental groups.

“Current efforts, like US EPA regulations or the UN’s Paris Agreement may chip away at the tightness of the gross world product/global CO2 emissions relationship but, they probably won’t be successful in breaking it so long as they are relying on current technologies (with perhaps the exception of a rapid build-out of nuclear power plants—something that doesn’t seem to be in the cards),” Knappenberger concluded.

The study’s conclusions are mirrored by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy comments during a Tuesday hearing that the Clean Power Plan (CPP), her agency’s signature regulation aimed at tackling global warming, was meant to show “leadership” rather than actually prevent projected warming.

EPA repeatedly has long argued the point of the Clean Power Plan was to show the world America was serious about tackling global warming in order to galvanize support for United Nations delegates to sign a global agreement to cut emissions. Nearly 200 countries agreed to a U.N. deal last year.


Shades of "Smart Growth" in Australia: Busybodies want to limit other people's choices in apartment sizes

A small, low-cost inner-city "pied-à-terre" might be just what is needed for someone who works in the city during the week but who spends the weekend at a pleasant rural property.  Many men work away from their families during the week.  My father did

THEY’VE been labelled “crappy” and “dog boxes in the sky”, apartments so small and badly designed there’s barely enough room to swing a cat — let alone a pooch.

There’s no space for luxuries like, you know, a dining room table, while some rooms don’t even sport windows.

The tiniest units in Australian cities are so small they would be illegal in crowded Hong Kong and New York.

But far from being spurned, compact flats are being heralded by some as the solution to the growing demand for city living.

However, there are moves afoot to clamp down on so-called “micro apartments” with calls for a minimum size for flats to stop developers squeezing more people into ever smaller spaces.

Earlier this month, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle criticised developers who were sacrificing design for density.

“I am pro-development but some of the developments that have been put before us are shameful”, he told the Urban Development Institute in Adelaide.

Talking to he reeled off a list of developer requests he was outraged by, including windows separated from the rooms they were supposed to illuminate by a corridor so long it was “like something out of Alice in Wonderland”, glass walls whose role it was to filter light into windowless bedrooms but actually created “little caves”, and fridge doors that couldn’t open because of the cramped space.

There was even the builder who created a micro apartment without a kitchen with the reason that it would be ideal for someone who enjoyed eating out.

A critic of unchecked development, Mr Doyle said good design needed to be at the centre of new apartments to prevent “building the slums of tomorrow”.

Yet, for 24-year-old public relations consultant Elena Eckhardt, her tiny Sydney apartment, which she shares with her partner, is a bijou beauty.

“The apartment has a double bedroom, bathroom, laundry, joint kitchen and living room and balcony,” she told

“Despite it being so small I’ve decorated it so it feels very personal.”

At 48sq m her flat is skirting the regulations in NSW, known as SEPP 65, that set a minimum apartment size. One bedroom units can be no smaller than 50sq m but studio apartments can go down to a super snug 35sq m.

Ms Eckhardt’s bedroom is partially separate with openings in the wall letting some natural light “borrowed” from the living room which has large windows.

“It’s the smallest place I’ve lived,” she said of the unit in the city fringe suburb of Chippendale. “We wouldn’t be able to afford a big apartment in the CBD so I do definitely like being here at this stage in our lives.”

Ms Eckhardt said she could walk to work and any number of pubs and shops were in the local area. The couple are out most nights, so see the flat as less a place to linger and more somewhere to bed down in.

Nevertheless, they’ve had to make compromises. “We decided not to have a kitchen table because it’s too cluttered so we only have a table on the balcony and eat there or on the couch”.

“But having a separate bedroom was really important because there is two of us so it doesn’t feel like we’re sharing one room.”

Ms Eckhardt’s 48sq m are an indulgence of open space compared to an apartment advertised for rent in Melbourne CBD that was just 20sq m, or roughly the size of two car parking spots, the Age reported.

In Victoria, unlike NSW, there is no minimum apartment size. In the Victorian Government’s ‘Better Apartments’ consultation, Planning Minister Richard Wynne raised the prospect of a new apartment code which could see minimum sizes alongside a raft of other measures around natural light, noise and outdoor space.

The consultation found daylight and space were the top concerns for apartment dwellers with 76 per cent of respondents calling for a minimum apartment size.



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 March, 2016

The BPA scare again

This has been rumbling on for decades now.  It's part of the aversion some people have for "chemicals".  That all foods are full of chemicals just cannot get into certain heads.  BPA is used to make sturdy, clear plastic, as in babies' bottles.  It is very weakly soluble in water and has estrogen-like effects in the human body.  So you can imagine all the twitching over that. 

What the twitchy ones are probably incapable of recognizing is the old truth that the toxicity is in the dose.  Depending on the amount absorbed, a thing can be good for you, bad for you or neither.  Even drinking too much water can kill you, for instance.  It can bring on hyponatremia. And the low levels (typically only a few molecules) of BPA found in food and drink kept in BPA containers has repeatedly been found by all sorts of research and official enquiries to be harmless

But every now and again you get some finding that gives encouragement to the paranoid ones.  One such is below

The original acdemic journal article is "High bisphenol A (BPA) concentration in the maternal, but not fetal, compartment increases the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery".  So just from the title we know that BPA had no effect on the baby. And from the Results section we learn that three quarters of the women showed no effects from the BPA in their blood. It was only women with very high levls of BPA who were slightly more likely to deliver pre-term.

And given those very marginal findings, we may well be looking here at one of the many unreplicable findings that infest the social and biological research literature.  Such weak effects are exactly those which do normally fail to replicate.  And an unreplicable finding is a non-finding

A chemical commonly found in plastic wrapping is linked to preterm births, scientists have warned. Preterm birth occurs when an infant is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

It is the greatest contributor to infant death – and one of the leading causes of long-term neurological disabilities in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pregnant women with high concentrations of the chemical Bisphenol A – or BPA – are more likely to deliver their babies early, revealed experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Study author Dr Ramkumar Menon said: ‘Women are continuously exposed to BPA because it's used in the construction and coatings of food containers and its release into food is increased by microwave or other heat sources.  ‘In fact, BPA is so widely used that nearly all women have some level of exposure.’

For the study, Texas scientists analysed blood samples from pregnant women admitted to the hospital for labor and delivery.

They also tested the amniotic fluid of the fetus collected during labor. They found that pregnant women with higher levels of BPA in their blood had a higher chance of delivering a baby preterm.

The samples were obtained by the Nashville Birth Cohort Biobank, according to the study, which was published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine.

BPA is structurally similar to the female hormone estrogen. The chemical binds estrogen receptors within the body – including those responsible for inflammation.

The study was the first to investigate the role of BPA levels on preterm birth.


Credulous woman believes the doomsters

Leftism sure messes up minds.  A small excerpt below.  An apparently normal woman hesitated for years before getting pregnant because of all the doom that Warmists predict.  She apparently had no natural skepticism so didn't think to doubt the predictions.  So she felt she did not want to bring kids into a world plagued by natural disasters.  And, by the time she allowed her natural instincts to take over, it was pretty late and all she has had so far is a miscarriage.

The article below is very long.  She obviously wrote it to soothe her feelings.  But on the whole I support the decisions of fruitcake women not to have children.  It means that those like them will tend to die out. It's called natural selection

By Madeline Ostrander

The librarian was nondescript in the way that everyone standing behind a counter is, probably in her 30s, with straight, fox-colored hair. When she took my stack of books, I noticed the way her sweater draped over a conspicuous melon-shaped belly, and I felt a tug in my chest and warmth rise in my stomach. It took a moment to recognize this sensation as envy. Then came another feeling: shock. I had never been jealous of any woman for carrying what looked like an uncomfortable load, or for what would come next: the messy, exhausting job of mothering an infant. Something unfamiliar had come over me.

In my late 20s and early 30s, I was terrified of becoming the sort of woman who was “baby crazy,” afraid motherhood would circumscribe my life. I politely admired but didn’t gush over my friends’ new babies. Compared with many women, I was under little pressure to procreate; neither my nor my husband’s parents had ever expressed more than a tentative longing for grandchildren. But six years ago, when I first held my 2-month-old niece, wrapped in a flower-print onesie and murmuring delicious baby noises, I felt a rush of joy, an indescribable feeling of human closeness.

My husband and I had made a home in Seattle for several years, and my friends of childbearing age tended to be writers and activists, scientists and scholars. When considering kids, they weighed not only their desires and finances but the state of the world. Many of them had read grim prognoses of what climate change would do to life on Earth. Even in the restrained language of science, the future holds unprecedented difficulties and disasters. For many people, these problems were an abstraction, but as an environmental journalist, I knew enough to imagine them in front of me. Driving across the bridge to my house, I pictured city beaches drowned by the rising sea. Watching the news, I wondered when the next colossal hurricane would strike the Gulf of Mexico or the mid-Atlantic. These thoughts are not paranoid. According to scientists’ predictions, if society keeps pumping out carbon dioxide at current rates, any child born now could, by midlife, watch Superstorm Sandy–size disasters regularly inundate New York City. She could see the wheat fields of the Great Plains turn to dust and parts of California gripped by decades of drought. She may see world food prices soar and water in the American West become even scarcer. By 2050, when still in her 30s, she could witness global wars waged over food and land. “It does make me wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have kids,” one of my friends whispered to me.

More HERE 

Arctic ice waxes and wanes

The post below from 2013 should be a good antidote to claims that Arctic ice has recently shrunk a little.  Sometimes it shrinks; Sometimes it grows

Earth has gained 19,000 Manhattans of sea ice since this date last year, the largest increase on record. There is more sea ice now than there was in mid-September 1990. Al Gore, call your office.

A 2007 prediction that summer in the North Pole could be “ice-free by 2013” that was cited by former Vice President Al Gore in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech has proven to be off . .. by 920,000 square miles. But then Democrats have never been good at math — or climate science.

In his Dec. 10, 2007, “Earth has a fever” speech, Gore referred to a prediction by U.S. climate scientist Wieslaw Maslowski that the Arctic’s summer ice could “completely disappear” by 2013 due to global warming caused by carbon emissions as the seas rose to swallow up places like the island of Manhattan.

The inconvenient truth is that planet Earth now has the equivalent of 330,000 Manhattans of Arctic ice, Steve Goddard notes in the blog Real Science. Even before the annual autumn re-freeze was scheduled to begin, he says, NASA satellite images showed an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretched from the Canadian islands to Russia’s northern shores. No polar bears were seen drowning.

As the Daily Mail reports, “A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year — an increase of 60%.” The much-touted Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific froze up and has remained blocked by pack ice all year. More than 20 yachts that had planned to sail it have been left ice-bound and a cruise ship attempting the route was forced to turn back.

This is a far cry from those iconic pictures, taken at a low point one particularly balmy Arctic summer, of polar bears clinging to slivers of pack ice lest they drown. The bears, who can swim up to 200 miles, and whose numbers are increasing, are doing fine, much better than a U.S. economy under assault by a needless war on fossil fuels, particularly coal, all in a futile effort to head off nonexistent climate change.

This summer was supposed to bring an ice-free Arctic with not so much as an ice cube for Santa to land on. Oh, and the Himalayan glaciers were supposed to disappear, according to computer models that have so far been unable to forecast either the past or the weather for the weekend barbecue.

“We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped,” Professor Anastasios Tsonis of the University of Wisconsin told the Daily Mail.

A recent study by German researchers Hans von Storch, Armineh Barkhordarian, Klaus Hasselmann and Eduardo Zorita of the Institute for Coastal Research and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology found that claims of all 65 climate-model computers used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to predict the future impact of carbon dioxide on climate had failed to foresee this lack of temperature rise.

Climate is affected by an infinite number of variables. Their relative importance and the complexity of their interactions are not fully understood. Put too much weight on one and not enough on the other, and you have the computer phenomenon known as GIGO — garbage in, garbage out.

U.S. climate expert Judith Curry suggests computer models place too much emphasis on current CO2 levels and not enough on long-term cycles in ocean temperature that have a huge influence on climate and suggest we may be approaching a period similar to 1965 to 1975, when there was a clear cooling trend.

Warm-mongers such as Gore still say it’s a question of when and not if. They may be walking on thin ice, but the polar bears are not.


Extreme weather events DECLINED in the second half of the 20th century

New, Vast Body Of Literature Shows Rates Of Glacier Retreat, Sea Level Change, Now Significantly LOWER!

According to recently published scientific papers, the current sea level highstand, as well as the rate of glacier retreat and sea level change, are now significantly lower than they have been for much of the last 10,000 years — back when CO2 concentrations were stable and considerably lower (at about 265 ppm).

The most recent IPCC report (2013) indicates that sea levels have been rising at a rate of 1.7 mm/year, or 6.7 inches per century, since 1901 (through 2010).  This rate occurred synchronously with an approx. 100 ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 levels.

In contrast, scientists Hodgson et al., 2016 have determined that sea levels rose at rates of 1.2 to 4.8 meters per century (47 to 188 inches, or about 4 to 16 feet per century) between about 10,500 and 9,500 years ago near East Antarctica.  This sea level rate change occurred while CO2 levels were stable to modestly declining *.

In the paper: Rapid early Holocene sea-level rise in Prydz Bay, East Antarctica, the authors write:

"Prydz Bay is one of the largest embayments on the East Antarctic coast and it is the discharge point for approximately 16% of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. […] The field data show rapid increases in rates of relative sea level rise of 12–48 mm/yr between 10,473 (or 9678) and 9411 cal yr BP [calendar years before present].”

The recently published scientific literature also indicates that not only was the historical rate of sea level rise significantly higher than it has been since the 20th century began, glaciers and ice sheets continued to rapidly retreat during the late Holocene, or within the last few thousand years.  During the Medieval Warm Period, for example, scientists Guglielmin et al., 2016 determined that glacier retreat rates in the Western Antarctic Peninsula were as high or higher than they have been in recent decades.

In the publication here, the authors write:

"Here, we present evidence for glacial retreat corresponding to the MWP [Medieval Warm Period] and a subsequent LIA [Little Ice Age] advance at Rothera Point (67°34?S; 68°07?W) in Marguerite Bay, western Antarctic Peninsula. … Based on new radiocarbon dates, during the MWP, the rate of glacier retreat was 1.6?m?yr?1, which is comparable with recently observed rates (~0.6?m per year between 1993 and 2011 and 1.4?m per year between 2005 and 2011).”

Prior to the Medieval Warm Period, scientists Yokoyama et al., 2016 indicate that “the world’s largest ice shelf” collapsed due to a warming ocean and atmosphere, with ice shelf retreat rates of 100 km within a thousand years.

In the publication Widespread collapse of the Ross Ice Shelf during the late Holocene, the authors write:

"The Ross Sea is a major drainage basin for the Antarctic Ice Sheet and contains the world’s largest ice shelf. … Breakup initiated around 5 ka [5,000 years ago], with the ice shelf reaching its current configuration ?1.5 ka [1,500 years ago]. In the eastern Ross Sea, the ice shelf retreated up to 100 km in about a thousand years. … [I]ce-shelf breakup resulted from combined atmospheric warming and warm ocean currents impinging onto the continental shelf.”

According to other scientists Bradley et al., 2016, the melt water from the Antarctic ice sheet continued to contribute up to 5.8 meters of sea level rise equivalent until about 1,000 years ago.

In another recent paper here the authors found:

"…a slowdown in melting at ?7 kyr BP associated with the final deglaciation of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, followed by a continued rise in ESL [Holocene ice volume equivalent sea level] until ?1 kyr BP of ?5.8 m associated with melting from the Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

Due apparently to the high glacier-melt rates and warmer ocean temperatures (Rosenthal et al. [2013]** indicate that 0-700 m Pacific Ocean temperatures were still ~0.65° C warmer than present ~1,000 years ago), recently published scientific papers document that sea levels stood from 1 to 4 meters higher than now as recently as a few thousand years ago (see citations below).

The big mystery

These scientific conclusions beg the question: If CO2 is a primary determinant of changes in sea level, why is it that sea level highstands (and sea level rise and glacier melt rates) were significantly greater when CO2 concentrations were stable and low than they have been in recent decades?

Publications to read:

The configuration suggests surface inundation of the upper sediments by marine water during the mid-Holocene (c. 2–8 kyr BP) [2,000-8,000 years before present], when sea level was 1–2 m above today’s level.

"….a [sea level] highstand at ~ 5000–3500 cal yr BP. The berms [raised land embankments] are presently at ~ + 6 m above [present] sea level, 2–3 m above the beach ridges. Human settlements were common on the ridge crests before and after the highstand. Regression to present-day sea level commenced after the highstand, which is when the sabkha began forming.”


We present a sea level change curve for mid Holocene in Uruguay.
Sea level reached 4 m amsl[above mean sea level today]between 6000 and 5500 yr BP [years before present].

A rapid sea level fall to about 1 m amsl was inferred for 4700-4300 yr BP.

A further sea level increase to about 3 m amsl [above mean sea level today]was inferred after 4300 yr BP

* Epica Dome C ice core data [Antarctica] indicate that CO2 levels declined slightly from 268 ppm 10,458 years ago to 264 ppm 9,399 years ago.

** Rosenthal et al., 2013

We show that water masses linked to North Pacific and Antarctic intermediate waters were warmer by 2.1 ± 0.4°C and 1.5 ± 0.4°C, respectively, during the middle Holocene Thermal Maximum than over the past century. Both water masses were ~0.9°C warmer during the Medieval Warm period than during the Little Ice Age and ~0.65° warmer than in recent decades.”

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

Punishing Climate-Change Skeptics

Some in Washington want to unleash government to harass heretics who don’t accept the ‘consensus.’

Galileo Galilei was tried in 1633 for spreading the heretical view that the Earth orbits the sun, convicted by the Roman Catholic Inquisition, and remained under house arrest until his death. Today’s inquisitors seek their quarry’s imprisonment and financial ruin. As the scientific case for a climate-change catastrophe wanes, proponents of big-ticket climate policies are increasingly focused on punishing dissent from an asserted “consensus” view that the only way to address global warming is to restructure society—how it harnesses and uses energy. That we might muddle through a couple degrees’ of global warming over decades or even centuries, without any major disruption, is the new heresy and must be suppressed.

The Climate Inquisition began with Michael Mann’s 2012 lawsuit against critics of his “hockey stick” research—a holy text to climate alarmists. The suggestion that Prof. Mann’s famous diagram showing rapid recent warming was an artifact of his statistical methods, rather than an accurate representation of historical reality, was too much for the Penn State climatologist and his acolytes to bear.

Among their targets (and our client in his lawsuit) was the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank prominent for its skeptical viewpoint in climate-policy debates. Mr. Mann’s lawsuit seeks to put it, along with National Review magazine, out of business. Four years on, the courts are still pondering the First Amendment values at stake. In the meantime, the lawsuit has had its intended effect, fostering legal uncertainty that chills speech challenging the “consensus” view.

Mr. Mann’s lawsuit divided climate scientists—many of whom recognized that it threatened vital scientific debate—but the climate Inquisition was only getting started. The past year has witnessed even more heavy-handed attempts to enforce alarmist doctrine and stamp out dissent.

Assuming the mantle of Grand Inquisitor is Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.). Last spring he called on the Justice Department to bring charges against those behind a “coordinated strategy” to spread heterodox views on global warming, including the energy industry, trade associations, “conservative policy institutes” and scientists. Mr. Whitehouse, a former prosecutor, identified as a legal basis for charges that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, the federal statute enacted to take down mafia organizations and drug cartels.

In September a group of 20 climate scientists wrote to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch encouraging them to heed Mr. Whitehouse and launch a RICO investigation targeting climate skeptics. This was necessary since, they claimed, America’s policy response to climate change was currently “insufficient,” because of dissenting views regarding the risks of climate change. Email correspondence subsequently obtained through public-records requests revealed that this letter was also coordinated by Mr. Whitehouse.

Reps. Ted Lieu (D., Calif.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D., Calif.) followed up with a formal request for the Justice Department to launch an investigation, specifically targeting Exxon Mobil for its funding of climate research and policy organizations skeptical of extreme warming claims. Attorney General Lynch announced in testimony this month that the matter had been referred to the FBI “to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for what we could take action on.” Similar investigations are already spearheaded by state attorneys general in California and New York.

Meanwhile, Mr. Whitehouse, joined by Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), sent letters to a hundred organizations—from private companies to policy institutes—demanding that they turn over information about funding and research relating to climate issues. In his response to the senators, Cato Institute President John Allison called the effort “an obvious attempt to chill research into and funding of public policy projects you don’t like.”

Intimidation is the point of these efforts. Individual scientists, think tanks and private businesses are no match for the vast powers that government officials determined to stifle dissent are able to wield. An onslaught of investigations—with the risk of lawsuits, prosecution and punishment—is more than most can afford to bear. As a practical reality, defending First Amendment rights in these circumstances requires the resources to take on the government and win—no matter the cost or how long it takes.

It also requires taking on the Climate Inquisition directly. Spurious government investigations, driven by the desire to suppress a particular viewpoint, constitute illegal retaliation against protected speech and, as such, can be checked by the courts, with money damages potentially available against the federal and state perpetrators. If anyone is going to be intimidated, it should be officials who are willing to abuse their powers to target speech with which they disagree.

That is why we are establishing the Free Speech in Science Project to defend the kind of open inquiry and debate that are central to scientific advancement and understanding. The project will fund legal advice and defense to those who need it, while executing an offense to turn the tables on abusive officials. Scientists, policy organizations and others should not have to fear that they will be the next victims of the Climate Inquisition—that they may face punishment and personal ruin for engaging in research and advocating their views.

The principle of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court recognized in Dennis v. United States (1951), is that “speech can rebut speech, propaganda will answer propaganda, free debate of ideas will result in the wisest governmental policies.” For that principle to prevail —in something less than the 350 years it took for the Catholic Church to acknowledge its mistake in persecuting Galileo— the inquisition of those breaking from the climate “consensus” must be stopped.



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


25 March, 2016

Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick (?@sarahinscience) makes a brave attempt to prove that February heat was caused by CO2

There she is.  Isn't she gorgeous?  She looks fairly young -- which may be why she has stepped in where wiser heads have not.  She works in the climate change department of an Australian university.  There's good gravy in global warming for some.

Old campaigners like James Hansen and Michael Mann have claimed the February temperature uptick as a sign of anthropogenic global warming.  They admit that El Nino had something to do with it but just dismiss the El Nino contribution as "minimal" with a wave of the hand.  They don't argue for a particular number, as a real scientist would.

But Sarah has risen to the challenge.  She has attempted to give a figure for the El Nino influence!  And the way she does that is fine in principle.  She takes the rise due to El Nino in 1998 and uses that to reduce the 2016 figure.  So she gives a quarter of one degree as the El Nino contribution -- which still leaves a fair bit of warming available for explanation as caused by a CO2 rise.

Just how your derive the 1998 figure for the influence of El Nino is not totally clearcut.  It depends on what you compare the 1998 figure with.  But I will not cavil about that.  I just want to point out the observed warming COULD NOT have been caused by a CO2 rise.  Why?  Because CO2 did not rise in the relevant period.  Cape Grim shows CO2 levels stuck on 398 ppm for the whole period of late 2015 and early 2016.  Sorry, Sarah!  You should have looked that up.

Now it may not be El Nino only that caused the temperature rise.  There are other possible natural factors that could have had an effect. And Sarah points to one:  The Arctic.  She is enough of a scientist to know that melting sea ice does not raise the water level but she points out that less ice may lead to more heat absorption from the sun.  Fair enough.

But what caused the Arctic melt?  In the absence of a CO2 rise we know it cannot be that.  It was partly El Nino and partly subsurface vulcanism, probably.  A few years back it was  discovered that there was furious underwater volcanic activity in the Arctic, particularly along the Gakkel ridge.  But volcanoes are uneven in their eruptions so they should give rise in random ways to melting in the ice above them.  And that accounts for the uneven pattern of Arctic melting and its lack of synchrony with temperatures elsewhere.  But Warmists act as if the volcanoes cause NO melting.  They need to be that crooked.

And here's some other pesky news 2015 was only the SECOND hottest year on record for Europe.  They must not have got much effect from El Nino -- which is as you expect.  Europe is a long way from the Pacific, where El Nino reigns.  Give up, Sarah!  What you have been taught is WRONG.  You are living off a lie!

Most people know by now that last month was the hottest February since modern records began. It was also the hottest overall month on record, and by the largest margin.

The global average temperature anomaly was 1.35ºC above the 1951–80 average and 1.21ºC above the entire twentieth-century average. For temperatures over land, the deviation almost doubles to a whopping 2.31ºC above the twentieth-century average. Other records broken by February 2016 include the fact that it was the tenth consecutive month in which the global average monthly record was broken and that it completed the hottest three-month period on record (December 2015 to February 2016).

Normally, climate scientists don’t get too anxious over a single month; our blood pressure tends to rise a bit more when record-breaking temperature anomalies are consistently smashed. But February is a special case – not only did it set a new record in an increasingly concerning upwards trend, but the magnitude of the record is terrifying.

So what led to this monster of a month?

First, let’s take a look at the possible influence of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. The 2015–16 El Niño was one of the earliest and strongest on record, easily comparable to its brother in 1997–98. At the global level, El Niños can cause measurable increases in temperature. We saw this in 1998, in our hottest year on record at the time: thanks to climate change, 1998 would have been a warm year without the El Niño, but the record set would have been smaller.

While the latest El Niño is weakening, its legacy is likely to have had a similar effect on our most recent hottest year on record (2015) and the monster February – increasing the anomaly by just a little bit more than what climate change could achieve on its on. But there is no possible way that an observed El Niño, however strong, could solely explain such a huge monthly temperature deviation. Past El Niños have only intensified global average temperatures by up to 0.25ºC, though the measured influence is usually smaller.

The second factor is the state of the Arctic, where the sea ice extent was more than 7 per cent below the 1981–2010 average, and the ice coverage the smallest since records began in 1979. Over relatively short timescales (monthly-seasonal) a lack of sea ice drives up temperatures. Ocean water is much darker than ice, so radiation from the sun that is normally reflected by the sea ice is absorbed, thus increasing temperatures.

Over longer timescales (years and decades), this sea ice/temperature interaction drives itself – increasing temperatures melt more ice, driving further increases in temperature – through a process known as a positive feedback. Record-low Arctic sea ice during February 2016 and the associated extreme temperatures are consistent with the positive feedback interaction triggered by anthropogenic climate change.

This basic physical interaction drove regional temperatures to well over 11.5ºC warmer than the 1951–80 average. These alarmingly warm conditions were not just confined to the Arctic waters. Because of the influence of sea ice (or the lack of it) on atmospheric circulation, similar temperature extremes were measured well south of the Arctic Circle – over Northern Europe, Russia, Alaska and western Canada.


Arctic ice variations in February

Warmists have made much of the low levels of Arctic ice last February. And within the years examined, it WAS low.  But HOW low was it?  Not much lower than several previous years.  The graph below helps to show how close the various years have been to one another

Bigger graph here

The extent seen in February 2016 was 14.22 million sq km. This is definitely below the 1981- 2010 average by 1.16 million sq km, but only 200,000 sq km below the previous low for that month which was set in 2005.

This means that another headline for the same story could have been that this February’s ice extent is essentially the same as it was a decade ago!


Analysis Finds No Correlation Between Glacier Melt And CO2, Melting Much Slower Today Than 1930s!

According to the below graph (Fig. 2 a) found in Gregory et al., 2013 in Journal of Climate (“Twentieth-Century Global-Mean Sea Level Rise: Is the Whole Greater than the Sum of the Parts?”), there was a very substantial increase in the glacier and ice sheet melt contribution to sea level rise in the early 20th century, reaching up to 2 mm/year sea level rise equivalent.

In recent years, the documented rise in sea levels contributed from glacier and ice sheet melt has not come close to reaching the high levels attained during the 1920s and 1930s period as documented by Gregory et al., 2013.

For example according to Shepherd et al., 2012 (see below), the total ice sheet melt contribution from the Antarctic (AIS) and Greenland (GIS) ice sheets combined was 0.59 mm/year (~2.3 inches per century) during the 1992-2011 period and the total ice sheet or glacier melt from all other land sources (not the AIS or GIS) was 0.41 mm/year (~1.6 inches per century) for 2003 to 2010 according to Jacob et al., 2012 (see below).

Together, the total melt contribution from global land ice was about 1 mm/year (~4 inches per century) through the first decade of the 21st century, which is still well below the melt rates achieved during the 1920s and 1930s.

Interestingly, during the 1920s to 1930s period of very high glacier melt rate contributions to sea level rise, human CO2 emissions were flat and only averaged about 1 GtC/year (see graph below).

In contrast, during the 1990s to 2010/2011 period, CO2 emissions rates reached 6 to 9 GtC/year.

Unanswered question

If anthropogenic CO2 emissions are truly driving ice sheet and glacier melt contributions to sea level rise, why was the melt contribution significantly higher during the 1920s and 1930s when CO2 emissions rates were flat and about 1/6th to 1/9th of what they’ve been in recent years?

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

Ozone hole a non-existent problem

That's what the academic journal article below implies

Latitudinally Weighted Mean Global Ozone 1979-2015

Jamal Munshi

Mean global total ozone is estimated as the latitudinally weighed average of total ozone measured by the TOMS and OMI satellite mounted ozone measurement devices for the periods 1979-1992 and 2005-2015 respectively. The TOMS dataset shows ozone depletion at a rate of 0.62 DU per year on average from 1979 to 1992. The OMI dataset shows ozone accretion at a rate of 0.48 DU per year on average from 2005 to 2015. The conflicting and inconsequential OLS trends may be explained in terms of the random variability of nature and the Hurst phenomenon. These findings are inconsistent with the Rowland-Molina theory of ozone destruction by anthropogenic chemical agents because the theory implies continued and dangerous depletion of total ozone on a global scale until the year 2040.


How Global Water Shortages Threaten Jobs and Growth

Ho Hum!  This old chestnut again.  Israel has basically a desert climate but it is now a water superpower.  It has ample water. And no miracle about it.  They just used existing technology intelligently.  The whole world could do the same.

And the galoots below are overlooking the obvious.  Global warming would evaporate more water off the oceans, which would come down as increased rainfall.  Do they believe in global warming or not?

An estimated three out of four jobs globally are dependent on water, meaning that shortages and lack of access are likely to limit economic growth in the coming decades, the United Nations said.

"There is a direct effect on jobs worldwide if there are disruptions in water supply through natural causes, such as droughts, or if water doesn't get to communities because of infrastructure problems," said Richard Connor, the report's editor-in-chief.

Demand for water is expected to increase by 2050 as the world's population is forecast to grow by one-third to more than 9 billion, according to the United Nations.

This in turn will lead to a 70 percent increase in demand for food, putting more pressure on water through farming, which is already the biggest consumer of water.

As climate change contributes to rising sea levels and extreme weather, at least one in four people will live in a country with chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water by 2050, the United Nations estimates, making it more important to focus on expanding rainwater harvesting and recycling wastewater.

Connor said funding for projects was still often based on "investment in pumps and pipes" rather than a more holistic view, taking into account water's key role in building a sustainable economy as part of the new global development goals.

More investment in renewable energy such as solar and wind, which use very little water, is also crucial in reducing demand for water, Connor said.


BLM Cancels Long-Standing Oil and Gas Leases in Montana; ‘Every Lease At Risk,’ Critics Say

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced last week the cancellation of a long-standing oil and gas exploration lease on federal land in Montana.

Louisiana-based Solenex LLC has held the lease since the early 1980s in a remote area of Montana’s Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, where oil and gas leasing has since been banned by the federal government.

The Department of the Interior (DOI), of which BLM is a part, said in a March 17 press release that it has the authority to cancel leases.

“In 1982, absent of tribal consultation and a thorough review of environmental and cultural studies, the U.S Forest Service granted 47 oil and gas permit leases in and around the Badger-Two Medicine area,” a press release issued on March 17 stated.

“For over two decades the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and many non-Native conservation and historical preservation groups have sought the cancellation of these permit leases,” it stated.

“While a number of these leases were subsequently cancelled through Congressional action and other measures, the Blackfeet Tribe has sought the cancellation of the remaining leases that would cause irreparable damage to Badger-Two Medicine,” BLM added.

But critics of the cancellation said the unilateral move by a federal agency puts all such leases at risk.

"It's a sad day in the United States when a government agency can unilaterally cancel a paid mineral lease especially after numerous approved exploration permits had previously been issued,” Alan Olson, executive director of the Montana Petroleum Association, said in a March 17 statement. “The current federal administration is going out of their way to decimate the natural resource industries in this state as well as the nation.”

“They just put every oil and gas lease at risk,” Steve Lecher, attorney for Solenex LLC, told the Great Falls Tribune. “If you can cancel one oil and gas lease after 32 years what makes any lease safe?”

The Solenex lease cancellation is the culmination of a longstanding effort by the Blackfeet Tribe and environmental groups to cease exploration in the Badger-Two Medicine area, which was once part of the Blackfeet reservation until it was ceded to the federal government in 1896, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

“To the Blackfeet, [the land is] the ‘Backbone of the World’ where they were created, and associated with culturally important spirits, heroes and historic figures central to Blackfeet religion and traditional practices,” the Great Falls Tribune story stated. “Today, it’s part of a designated Traditional Cultural District.”

“Today’s cancellation of the lease held by Solonex LLC signifies a major victory in the tribe’s 34-year struggle to protect this sacred place from development that would have caused irreparable damage to the Badger-Two Medicine,” Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), said in the DOI press release.

NCAI began working with the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana in early 2016 and wrote a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, urging the cancellation of any oil and gas leases, the press release stated.

The Great Falls Tribune reported that Solenex is deciding whether to challenge the decision.



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 March, 2016

The BS never stops:  "New York and London could be underwater within DECADES"

And pigs might fly. It's all just theory -- and all Warmist prophecy has been wrong to date so this will be too.  Note that even Michael Mann does not believe this one

And the theory is extreme.  It starts out: "Researchers claim the initial melting of the great ice sheets will put a cap of relatively fresh water on the ocean surfaces near Antarctica and Greenland"

Maybe so but where is there any evidence of "melting of the great ice sheets"?  It hasn't happened and Antarctic ice is in fact growing

And what's this business about fresh water putting a "cap" on salt water?  Salt diffuses very rapidly in water so any cap would be very temporary -- lasting only a few days at most.  I would like to see any argument or evidence to the contrary.  It's just another implausible theory as far as I can tell but I am open to enlightenment

Most scientists agree that sea levels will rise, but some say it won't happen for centuries.  Now, a new study suggests sea levels will increase several feet over the next 50 years.  It claims the world's coastal cities, including New York and London, could be underwater by the end of the century.

'We're in danger of handing young people a situation that's out of their control,' James E. Hansen, a retired Nasa climate scientist who led the new research, told The New York Times.

The paper was released this morning by a European science journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

'Current assessments place emphasis on practical effects such as increasing extremes of heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, floods and encroaching seas,' reads the study.

The consequences would include killer storms, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets and a rise in sea levels that would exceed that worlds coastal cities before the end of this century, claim researchers.

The paper talks about a specific mechanism that will provoke this abrupt climate shift.

Researchers claim the initial melting of the great ice sheets will put a cap of relatively fresh water on the ocean surfaces near Antarctica and Greenland.

This will slow down or even close the system of the ocean currents that provides heat throughout the planet, allowing some of it to escape into space.

The deeper areas of the ocean will experience warming, which will ultimately accelerate the melting of the part of the ice sheet that sits above sea level.

And the extreme temperature difference between the tropics and the poles will produce powerful storms, which will mirror those that happened 120,000 years ago when Earth experienced a natural warming, according to the paper.

Some experts see this paper as a step in the right direction to understanding when the climate experienced sudden, drastic shifts.

But others still remain hesitant about the claims made in the draft paper, released last year, and are still on the fence with the final version. 'Some of the claims in this paper are indeed extraordinary,' said Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University.  'They conflict with the mainstream understanding of climate change to the point where the standard of proof is quite high.'


#Brussels: Conservatives Bash Obama For Calling Global Warming Our Biggest Security Threat

Conservatives shocked by the terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium Tuesday have taken to Twitter to bash President Barack Obama and other prominent Democrats for saying global warming, not terrorism, is the U.S.'s biggest national security threat.

The Obama administration has been heavily criticized in the last year or so for stepping up rhetoric surrounding man-made global warming, in particular the claim that warming "poses immediate risks to our national security."

Secretary of State John Kerry even blamed global warming, at least in part, for the Syrian civil war, the refugee crisis and the rise of the Islamic State.

"It is not a coincidence that immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced the worst drought on record," Kerry said in an October speech. "Now, I'm not telling you that the crisis in Syria was caused by climate change," but it "clearly made a bad situation a lot worse."

Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made similar claims linking global warming to terrorism.

"In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism and if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you're going to see countries all over the world," Sanders said.

"This is what the CIA says," Sanders said. "They're going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops and you're going to see all kinds of international conflict. But, of course, international terrorism is a major issue that we have got to address today."

Now, conservatives with Twitter accounts are throwing these remarks back in their faces.


New paper: "Reassessing the Climate Role of Carbon Dioxide"

by Martin Hertzberg and Hans Schreuder


The authors evaluate the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "consensus" that the increase of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere is of anthropogenic origin and is causing dangerous global warming, climate change and climate disruption. They conclude that the data do not support that supposition.

Most of the currently accepted scientific interpretations are examined and the given impression that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide will increase the earth's surface and/or air temperature is questioned.

New insight is offered drawing a conclusion that no additional warming is possible due to the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Acceptance of that IPCC paradigm is incurring costly and draconian efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, tax such emissions and replace fossil fuel combustion by alternative energy systems whether such alternatives will achieve the desired results or not.

The totality of the data available on which that theory is based is evaluated here, from Vostok ice-core measurements, to residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere, to more recent studies of temperature changes that inevitably precede CO2 changes, to global temperature trends, to the current ratio of carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, to satellite data for the geographic distribution of atmospheric CO2, to the effect of solar activity on cosmic rays and cloud cover.

Nothing in the data supports the supposition that atmospheric CO2 is a driver of weather or climate, or that human emissions control atmospheric CO2. Furthermore, CO2 is not a pollutant, but an essential ingredient of the Earth's ecosystem on which almost all life depends via photosynthesis.

This paper rejects the new paradigm of "climate science" and asserts that the traditional, century old meteorological concepts for the factors that control weather and climate remain sound but need to be reassessed.


UN Claims `Alarming Rate' Of Global Warming, Ignores `Hiatus'

The head of the United Nations' meteorological body warned the world was going through an "alarming rate" of global warming due to rising carbon dioxide emissions - but his statement ignored the 15-year "hiatus" in warming, and 2016's incredibly strong El Ni¤o.

"The alarming rate of change we are now witnessing in our climate as a result of greenhouse gas emissions is unprecedented in modern records," Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said March 21 in a statement on the release of the group's' new climate report.

WMO's new "State of the Climate" report says the global average surface temperature was 0.76 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average because of man-made global warming and the current El Ni¤o - something Taalas glossed over in his remarks.

Taalas also neglected to mention the recent rise in global average temperature, spurred by El Ni¤o, came after a 15-year or so "hiatus" in global warming. During this period, from 1998 to 2012, global surface temperatures rose at a much slower rate than in previous decades.

The "hiatus" in warming was recently reaffirmed in a study by a group of climate scientists. "[T]here is compelling evidence that there has been a temporary slowdown in observed global surface warming," Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading and co-author of the paper, wrote in a blog post on the new research.

Satellite-derived temperature records showed there was a more than two decade-long "hiatus" in global warming. Though, the recent El Ni¤o caused temperatures in the mid troposphere to rise enough to end the "hiatus" in satellite datasets.

Taalas, however, wasn't alone. David Carlson, the head of the WMO-sponsored World Climate Research Programme, claimed climate scientists have been shocked by how much temperatures spiked so far in 2016 - again, while a naturally-occurring El Ni¤o warmed up the tropical Pacific.

"The startlingly high temperatures so far in 2016 have sent shockwaves around the climate science community," Carlson said in a statement, echoing Taalas' alarm.

Climate scientists were sounding the alarm earlier in March after National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released new data showing the global average surface temperature for February was the highest ever recorded for that month, at 1.35 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1951 to 1980 average.

"We are in a kind of climate emergency now," Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, told The Sydney Morning Herald. "This is really quite stunning" and "it's completely unprecedented."

Ignored or brushed aside in the conversation is that February's record high temperatures were ratcheted up by what's been called the strongest El Ni¤o in 18 years. El Ni¤o is a naturally-occurring warming phase across the span of the Pacific Ocean along the equator. It occurs fairly regularly, about every two to seven years, and is often followed by a La Ni¤a cooling phase.

Weather models say it's likely the world is headed for a La Ni¤a later in 2016, but it's unclear how strong it will be. It's further unclear if these amazed climate scientists will give equal measure to any sort of La Ni¤a cooling period.

"Water temperatures just below the surface across the entire Pacific Ocean have turned net cool, and this massive, cold blob is now lurking below the surface waiting for its chance to turn up," journalist Karen Braun wrote in a Reuters column. "The colder the anomaly becomes, the bigger the potential for La Ni¤a becomes."


Shining Sunlight on Solar Power

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, built by Bechtel, is a joint effort of NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy and Google, and is said to be the largest state-of-the-art renewable energy production project of its kind. So how stands this Great Green Hope?

Ivanpah is a $2.2 billion solar project financed in part by $1.5 billion in federal loans. It consists of three solar thermal power plants on a 4,000-acre tract of public land near the Mojave Desert and the California-Nevada border. The facility utilizes more than 170,000 mirrors mounted to the ground that reflect sunlight up to three 450-foot-high towers topped by boilers that heat water to create steam, which in turn is used to generate electricity.

The green energy and climate change lobbies are, of course, excited about this dream-come-true example of how the U.S., and eventually the world, can survive and thrive without pollution-causing coal-burning and natural gas-burning electricity production facilities.

But their hopes have exceeded reality, as is so often the case with these idealistic dreams. The project has three major problems, one of which has produced a huge rift between the Left's internal factions. While green energy folks are ecstatic over the huge solar plant, other environmentalists are outraged that the plant has killed thousands of birds, many of which are fried to death.

The second problem is that the so-called green energy plant is not as green as you might expect: It burns vast quantities of fossil fuels and produces pollution. Ivanpah burns natural gas each morning for start-up, and reportedly burned 867,740 million BTU of natural gas, which is enough to power the annual needs of 20,660 Southern California homes. On top of that, it emitted 46,084 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014.

Furthermore, it has so far failed to produce the expected power it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp. As a result, the solar plant may be forced to shut down unless the California Public Utilities Commission gives permission for PG&E to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems. It began operating in early 2014.

Spokesmen for Ivanpah's operator, BrightSource, and NRG reportedly declined to comment on its future, but NRG said it has taken more than a year to adjust equipment and learn how to best run it. Naturally, Barack Obama's Energy Department supports giving the plant more time.

Advocates also paint an over-positive picture of solar energy job creation. The Solar Energy Industries Association touts spectacular job growth in the solar industry, boasting "the solar industry continues to support robust job growth, creating 35,052 new jobs in 2015, a growth rate of approximately twelve times greater than that of the overall economy."

Fast job growth during new industry "booms" is not unusual, and touting such growth is good PR, even when it exaggerates reality. For the sake of contrast, however, 35,000 jobs still doesn't offset the job losses from Obama killing the Keystone Pipeline, much less those in the coal industry against which he's waging war.

But when you analyze this solar project, it quickly becomes clear that government has more to do with engineering this jobs increase than does the actual market demand for workers in solar energy. You, the taxpayer, heavily subsidized this industry, and when taxpayer money pays the bills, an industry can and does create jobs without a real demand for them.

Under Obama, the federal government has wasted billions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayer money on green energy efforts that failed or under-performed, even as it enacted policies that punished Americans working in the coal industry and related businesses with substantial unemployment, created revenue problems in the economies of coal producing states, and burdened all Americans with higher energy prices - by design, we might add. The administration's tunnel vision on reducing the effects on the environment of fossil fuel energy production that have powered the U.S. and most of the world for decades has caused untold misery.

The heralded Solyndra solar company quickly became a debacle that put 1,100 people out of work when it closed down, wasting $535 million in government loans in the process. And, the Abound Solar plant, which received $400 million in federal loan guarantees in 2010, when the Obama administration sought to use stimulus funds to promote green energy, filed for bankruptcy two years later. That facility sits unoccupied, is littered with hazardous waste, broken glass and contaminated water, and it will require an estimated $3.7 million to clean and repair the building for use.

None of this pain and suffering was necessary. The normal progress of technological advancement would have gradually replaced fossil fuels as the primary source of electricity, when those less polluting methods were up to the task, like the automobile replaced the horse and buggy.

Once the Left gets an idea, however, it dives in head first, eyes closed, with a "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" approach that generally produces more harm than good.

Obama lets nothing get in the way of his ideological fantasies, least of all reality. Any harm and destruction that occurs is regarded as necessary collateral damage on the way to his socialist utopia.


The dangerous narcissism of Earth Hour

We should not be demonising electricity - we should be celebrating it

On 19 March every year, millions of people in developed countries spend 60 minutes of their lives reeling in collective guilt over the evil of fossil fuels. But when people turn off the lights for Earth Hour, they only hold a candle to their own ignorance.

Earth Hour is exactly the type of feel-good event today's environmentalists seem to relish. It provides a readymade opportunity for people to flaunt their social conscience by denouncing industrialisation, electricity, fossil fuels and the other `excesses' that make 21st-century life worth living.

But what these candle-waving, middle-class do-gooders forget are the 1.3 billion people who will spend all of 19 March in the dark - not out of some desire to be close to nature, but because that's how they spend every other day of the year.

How long without electricity would today's Earth Hour enthusiasts last before their warm inner glow turned to despair? Perhaps if people were forced seriously to contemplate life off the grid, they'd come to accept the empirical fact that nothing has done more to advance the plight of humanity than cheap, reliable electricity.

The problem with Earth Hour isn't that burning candles actually emits more carbon than using a lightbulb, nor that large numbers of households simultaneously going dark disrupts the power grid and actually increases emissions.

No, the problem with Earth Hour is that it makes a villain out of electricity provision, the very thing that's allowed humanity to rise out of abject poverty and reach the standard of living we enjoy today. So, since you probably won't hear it anywhere else, here are just a few of the tremendous benefits of cheap, reliable electricity:

    It feeds the world

    Worldwide poverty is at its lowest rate in human history. This is in large part because of the modern methods of mass food production that depend on cheap electricity. Industrial farming practices, including irrigation, mass food storage and transport, would all be impossible if environmentalists had their way. In the Middle Ages over 90 per cent of Europe's workforce worked on farms; today, less than five per cent does. This has freed millions of people from backbreaking labour to develop their own skills and talents, which in turn have enriched our lives.

    And once this mass-produced food reaches our homes, it is electricity that allows us to cook it quickly and safely, without exposing ourselves to health risks from chronic smoke inhalation. Two million people in developing countries still die each year from noxious fumes caused by traditional indoor heating and cooking practices. This gives some insight into what cheap electricity has meant for human welfare.

    It saves lives

    Electricity has made possible the advances and wide availability of modern medicine, from vaccines to antibiotics and surgery. According to the World Health Organisation, the measles vaccine alone has saved over 17million lives worldwide since 2000. This wouldn't have happened had there not been cheap, electrically powered refrigeration for the storage and transportation of the vaccine.

    It creates prosperity

    As Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, points out, the electricity available to people in wealthy countries is roughly the equivalent of having 56 servants working for you in pre-industrial times. It's easy to forget this if you have the luxury of boiling a cup of tea and sitting down to watch a digitally recorded episode of MasterChef once your annual 60 minutes of environmental self-flagellation is up. But for the people of, say, Liberia or South Sudan or Sierra Leone, every hour is Earth Hour. Life is short and illness often deadly. People spend most of their waking hours fighting a neverending struggle for basic necessities like food and shelter.

There is no doubt that our prosperity has come at a cost to the natural world. But if we care about making the world a better place, the last thing we should be doing is turning off the lights. If what we want is a genuine accommodation with Mother Nature, we should be concentrating humanity's collective energies on finding cleaner and cheaper ways of sustaining modern life, not harking back to some pre-industrial fantasy.

Contrary to the delusions of eco-pessimists, cheap electricity is exactly the kind of innovation we need more of. London's air quality today is the best it's been since coal became a common fuel for lime burners in the early Middle Ages. Why? Because thanks to electricity, factories are no longer run on coal power. Nor do households have to burn it to cook and stay warm.

The idea that human progress actually helps the environment flies in the face of everything today's environmental zealots hold dear. In their eyes, humanity must repent for daring to industrialise. That means putting an end to the wealth and material excess that characterise our daily lives.

If people are actually interested in saving the planet, they'd be better off lighting their houses with electricity, not mourning human progress in the dark.


Australian Government to strip $1.3 billion from renewables

Below is an enraged whine from the vested interests created by the global warming nonsense.  At a time of budget difficulties, PM Turnbull is to be congratulated for cutting useless expenditure
The Turnbull Government has today announced plans to strip $1.3 billion in renewable energy budget funding, according to the Australian Solar Council - the peak body for the solar industry.

"Malcolm Turnbull's Clean Energy Investment Fund is like an exquisitely decorated Easter Egg. It looks great on the outside, but inside it's a rotten egg".

"The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has $1.3 billion in allocated and unspent funds between 2016-2022.  The Government has announced it will replace this with $1 billion in funds between 2016 and 2026, taken from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation's existing $10 billion budget."

That amounts to $1.3 billion in funding stripped from ARENA and $1 billion reallocated from within the CEFC.

"The governments `beautiful $1bn renewables Easter Egg' is actually a $1.3bn cut in funding for renewables overall."

Further the Turnbull Government has announced that early stage renewable R&D and commercialisation will now be majority funded by debt and equity.

"By its very nature early stage research is speculative.  Almost no projects will be fundable under this model.  This will rip the guts out of renewables innovation in Australia".

 "The Turnbull Government has  tried unsuccessfully to abolish ARENA and the CEFC. This is a backdoor way to gut ARENA."

 "ARENA has played a critical role in supporting research and development and early stage commercialisation of renewable energy projects through grant funding. Stripping its budget, taking away funding for early stage commercialisation, and directing the money be spent on non-renewables projects, achieves its goal through other means."

Press release


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


23 March, 2016

Will plants' response to increased CO2 make heatwaves more intense than thought?

The report by Peter Hannam below seemed like a possible real concern if ever we do get global warming.  But I somehow knew that they would have ignored something important so I looked up the underlying journal article -- abstract thereof also reproduced below.  It is all just modelling rubbish.  When Warmist models show predictive skill will be the time to take notice of them.  It hasn't happened yet.

But there is something amusing in the article nonetheless. They seem to base their claims on how an individual leaf stoma reacts to higher CO2 but forget to look at  the whole plant.  That higher CO2 levels will produce bigger plants and hence more stomata seems to be overlooked.  With more stomata the overall water release may remain unchanged.

Warmists are such a laugh!  Junk science all the way.  It's such junk that even a humble social scientist like me can see through it.  And shifty old Peter Hannam swallows it all hook, line and sinker.  He must never ask any questions

Peter Hannam

Heatwaves in the northern hemisphere may become as much as 5 degrees warmer than previously estimated by mid-century because plants' response to higher carbon dioxide levels has been miscalculated, according to new research by Australian scientists.

As atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas increase, plant stomata – the tiny pores on leaves that open to take in CO2 and let out water vapour – won't need to open as much.

"There's less water vapour being lost so you have a net warming effect," said Jatin Kala, a lecturer from Murdoch University and lead author of the paper that was published Monday in Nature Scientific Reports.

The researchers used data from 314 plant species across 56 field sites to examine how plants responded. Existing climate models had assumed all plants would trade water for carbon in exactly the same way.

Needle-leaf forests, tundra and agricultural land used for crops would likely suffer the biggest temperature increases. Heatwaves from Europe to China were likely to become 3-5 degrees hotter than the already higher base expected from global warming, Dr Kala said.

"These more detailed results are confronting but they help explain why many climate models have consistently underestimated the increase in the intensity of heatwaves and the rise in maximum temperatures when compared to observations."

The results do not necessarily apply to southern hemisphere regions to the same extent. "We don't have an observation of how Australian vegetation will respond to rising CO2," he said.

CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science developed the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) model used in this study.


Impact of the representation of stomatal conductance on model projections of heatwave intensity

Jatin Kala et al.


Stomatal conductance links plant water use and carbon uptake, and is a critical process for the land surface component of climate models. However, stomatal conductance schemes commonly assume that all vegetation with the same photosynthetic pathway use identical plant water use strategies whereas observations indicate otherwise. Here, we implement a new stomatal scheme derived from optimal stomatal theory and constrained by a recent global synthesis of stomatal conductance measurements from 314 species, across 56 field sites. Using this new stomatal scheme, within a global climate model, subtantially increases the intensity of future heatwaves across Northern Eurasia. This indicates that our climate model has previously been under-predicting heatwave intensity. Our results have widespread implications for other climate models, many of which do not account for differences in stomatal water-use across different plant functional types, and hence, are also likely under projecting heatwave intensity in the future.


Humans are releasing carbon 10 TIMES faster than ever before

They may be but so what?  All the evidence is that CO2 is NOT linked to warming.  In fact the PETM (discussed below) seems to be a good example of that.   Global temperatures in the PETM increased by 5–8°C. But the findings below are that CO2 release rates then were much LESS than what we see today.  So LOW CO2 levels apparently went with high temperatures.  No wonder the author below made the rather despairing comment I have highlighted below

The Earth's climate is entering 'uncharted territory' and the rate at which carbon is being released is said to be to blame.

By studying deep sea sediments, researchers have discovered humans are releasing carbon 10 times faster than during any event in the past 66 million years.

And in 2014, carbon release rates from human sources reached a record high in 2014 of about 37 billion metric tons of CO2.

The earliest instrumental records of Earth's climate, as measured by thermometers and other tools, start in the 1850s.

To look further back in time, scientists investigate air bubbles trapped in ice cores, which expands the window to less than a million years.

But to study Earth's history over tens to hundreds of millions of years, researchers examine the chemical and biological signatures of deep sea sediment archives.

New research published today in Nature Geoscience by Richard Zeebe, professor at the University of Hawai'i M?noa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), and colleagues looks at changes of Earth's temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) since the end of the age of the dinosaurs. 

The research team developed a new approach and was able to determine the duration of the onset of an important past climate event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, PETM for short, 56 million years ago.

Their new method allows them to extract rates of change from a sediment record without the need for an actual sediment age model.

Applied to the PETM, they calculated how fast the carbon was released, how fast Earth's surface warmed, and constrained the time scale of the onset, which was at least 4,000 years.

The rate of carbon release during the PETM was determined to be much smaller than the current input of carbon to the atmosphere from human activities.

Carbon release rates from human sources reached a record high in 2014 of about 37 billion metric tons of CO2.

Whereas large climate transitions in the past may have been relatively smooth, there is no guarantee for the future.

The climate system is non-linear, which means its response to a forcing (such as our CO2 emissions) is a complex process involving a whole suite of components.

The research team developed a new approach to determine the duration of the onset of an important past climate event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, PETM for short, 56 million years ago.

'As far as we know, the PETM has the largest carbon release during the past 66 million years,' said Zeebe.

Zeebe and his team combined analyses of chemical properties of PETM sediment cores with numerical simulations of Earth's climate and carbon cycle.

Their new method allows them to extract rates of change from a sediment record without the need for an actual sediment age model.

Applied to the PETM, they calculated how fast the carbon was released, how fast Earth's surface warmed, and constrained the time scale of the onset, which was at least 4,000 years.

The rate of carbon release during the PETM was determined to be much smaller than the current input of carbon to the atmosphere from human activities.

Carbon release rates from human sources reached a record high in 2014 of about 37 billion metric tons of CO2.

The researchers estimated the maximum sustained carbon release rate during the PETM had to be less than 4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year - about one-tenth the current rate.

'Because our carbon release rate is unprecedented over such a long time period in Earth's history, it also means that we have effectively entered a 'no-analogue' state.

'This represents a big challenge for projecting future climate changes because we have no good comparison from the past,' said Zeebe.

Whereas large climate transitions in the past may have been relatively smooth, there is no guarantee the same will happen in the future.

The climate system is non-linear, which means its response to a 'forcing' - such as our CO2 emissions - is a complex process involving a variety of components.

'If you kick a system very fast, it usually responds differently than if you nudge it slowly but steadily', said Zeebe.

'Also, it is rather likely that future disruptions of ecosystems will exceed the relatively limited extinctions observed at the PETM,' Zeebe added.

'In studying one of the most dramatic episodes of global change since the end of the age of the dinosaurs, these scientists show that we are currently in uncharted territory in the rate carbon is being released into the atmosphere and oceans,' says Candace Major, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research.

Scientists like Zeebe also study the PETM to better understand long-term changes in Earth's future climate.

Most of the current climate debate concentrates only on this century but the PETM suggests that the consequences of our massive fossil fuel burning will have a much, much longer tail.

'Everyone is focused on what happens by 2100. But that's only two generations from today. It's like: If the world ends in 2100 we're probably OK!' said Zeebe.

'But it's very clear that over a longer timescale there will be much bigger changes.'

Zeebe and his colleagues continue their work on the PETM to study other aspects of the event - for example, determining how severe ocean acidification was during the PETM and what impact it had on calcifying organisms in the ocean.

This may provide insight about what to expect in the future as Earth's climate continues to warm and oceans keep acidifying.


Highway death tolls will skyrocket as 54.5 mpg standard takes effect

The Environmental Protection Agency in June will begin its multistep midterm review of the fuel economy standards it wants cars and light trucks to meet by the 2025 model year.

Put in place in August 2012, the EPA standards would require new American-made cars and light trucks to average 54.5 miles per gallon less than 10 years from now. The standard today (for model year 2016) is 34.5 mpg.

Enacted in 1975 following the Arab oil embargo, the corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards were first sold to voters as a way of reducing American dependence on imported oil.

Today the standards are sold as an uncontroversial means of reducing fossil fuel consumption to save the planet from climate change Armageddon.

But it’s important to recognize that fuel economy standards are mostly the stuff of fiction.

Because the standards are based on averages, few motorists will be driving 54.5-mpg vehicles anytime soon. Automakers can still produce gas-guzzling SUVs as long as they also produce gas-sippers.

Further, the fuel efficiency ratings posted on the side windows of new vehicles are determined by running the engines of various with ethanol-free gasoline in an indoor factory laboratory.

Consequently, mileage ratings gathered on the highway by vehicles burning blended fuels predictably fall short of EPA marks - much as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton missed the mark when she claimed in a May 2008 speech at the North Carolina Democratic Party’s 2008 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Raleigh, N.C., that automobiles getting between 100 and 150 miles per gallon would be in our garages “in a couple of years.”

What EPA bureaucrats appear not to understand - or refuse to acknowledge - is that improved fuel efficiency also can generate rebound effects.

Because the cost per mile of driving a 54.5 mpg car is lower than that of a 34.5-mpg car, consumers rationally may respond to tougher standards by driving more miles, offsetting the standard’s intended effect.

The main problem with the mandated fuel economy standards is that the least expensive way for automakers to comply is by making vehicles lighter.

Replacing steel with aluminum and fiberglass is cheaper than re-engineering already highly fuel-efficient engines. In fact, that may be the only way to meet the latest rules, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Lighter cars and trucks are less crash-worthy than heavier ones. Stricter mileage standards therefore will lead to more injuries and deaths on the nation’s highways.

So while Washington politicians and EPA bureaucrats focus on being green, they ignore the death and destruction their mandates trigger.

Another way to meet tougher mileage rules, of course, is to produce more hybrid or plug-in cars and trucks. That strategy may have made sense to automakers when the retail price of gasoline was $4 per gallon, but not when a gallon of gas costs less than $2 in many places.

It is no surprise that President Barack Obama wants to curry more favor with environmentalists before leaving the White House, but the administration’s micromanagement of the auto industry will, as usual, fall on the backs of American consumers.

Designed in D.C. for a world fearing that crude oil would soon run out, the CAFE standards mean that cars and light trucks will carry much bigger price tags and offer their occupants less protection in crashes than the gas guzzlers of a bygone era.


‘Green’ — the status symbol the affluent can afford that costs the poor

Researchers have found that some buyers are willing to pay for environmentally friendly products because those products are “status symbols.” A report in the Atlantic states:

“Environmentally-friendly behaviors typically go unseen; there’s no public glory in shortened showers or diligent recycling. But when people can use their behavior to broadcast their own goodness, their incentives shift. The people who buy Priuses and solar panels still probably care about the environment—it’s just that researchers have found that a portion of their motivation might come from a place of self-promotion, much like community service does good and fits on a résumé.”

With “green” having become a status symbol, the affluent can afford it. Yet, their desire to “broadcast their own goodness” actually results in higher costs to those who can least afford it.

Solar power is a great example. On the website for SunRun, a solar panel leasing company, through the story of customer “Pat,” they even encourage the “green status symbol” as a sales feature. While Pat may be happy with her solar panels and “hopes that all her neighbors will go solar, too,” her “green status symbol” costs all the utility’s customers who mostly can’t afford to “go solar.”

As I’ve written on many times, the idea of solar leasing works because of tax incentives and a system called “net metering.” First, those tax incentives are paid for by all taxpayers.

Anytime the government gives something away, everyone pays for it. Net metering is a little harder to understand. In short, the utility is required by state laws to purchase the extra electricity generated by rooftop solar panels at the full retail rate—even though they could purchase it at a fraction of the cost from the power plant. As more and more people sign up for these programs, it increases the overall cost of electricity.

Remember, however, those with solar panels could have a zero dollar utility bill but they are still using electricity from the utility company at night and generate additional customer service costs such as transmission lines. Ultimately, the cost of electricity goes up on the bills of non-solar customers.

Due to this “cost shifting,” many states are changing the net metering policies so solar customers cover the unpaid grid costs. However, as has happened recently in Nevada, the revised programs change the economics and make it unprofitable for companies to operate in the state.

This is clear to see in overall rising electric costs—about 34 percent per year according to the Institute for Energy Research—despite the main fuel costs (coal and natural gas) being at all-time lows.

Earlier this month, Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) addressed another interesting angle: “Green energy can’t compete with $30 oil.” The only way for “green” energy to survive,” it says, is: “by the government forcing people to buy them and jacking up electricity and heating prices to families and businesses.”

A new study from the University of Chicago, referenced by IBD, concludes that for an electric vehicle to be cheaper to operate than the modern internal combustion engine, “the price of oil would need to exceed $350 a barrel.” The IBD states: “without massive additional taxpayer subsidies to companies such as Tesla, the price of oil would have to not just double or triple, but rocket more than 10-fold before battery-operated cars make financial sense.”

Yet, sales for the Tesla Model S, the International Business Times (IBT), reports: “actually rose 16 percent last year, in part because they serve as status symbols or appeal to the environmental concerns of well-to-do drivers.”

On March 11, in the Wall Street Journal, columnist Holman Jenkins writes: “Voters should be mad at electric cars.” Why? Because, as he explains: “how thoroughly Tesla’s business model depends on taxpayer largess.” Jenkins states: “Tesla’s cars have status cachet, yes. Even some middle-class customers might be attracted, notwithstanding low gas prices, as long as helped by an enormous dollop of taxpayer favoritism.”

As he lays out for the reader the “absurdity of their subsidy regime,” Jenkins concludes: “And you wonder why, on some level voters sense that our political class has led America into a dead-end where the only people doing well are the ones who have subsidies, regulation and political influence stacked in their favor.”

Alternative fuels have also taken a hit with low oil prices. According to IBT: “corn ethanol and algae-based diesel need oil prices at around double today’s levels—or higher—to compete with fossil fuels.”

Another fixture of the “green” social movement that has taken a toll in the low oil-priced environment is, surprisingly, recycling. Calling recycling a “$100-billion-a-year business,” National Public Radio reporter Stacy Venek Smith, points out: “Plastic is made from oil, so when oil gets cheap, it gets really cheap to make fresh plastic. When the price of oil gets really low, using recycled plastic can actually be more expensive because it has to be sorted and cleaned.”

In Salt Lake City, KUTV reported: “Many businesses are finding it cheaper to manufacture new plastic than to use recycled materials.” In Montana, according to the Philipsburg Mail, plastics are no longer being picked up for recycling “because the price per pound was so low, it didn’t cover the cost of gas and mileage to make the trip.”

The problem is international. Germany has a reputation as a recycling model with a goal of 36 percent of its plastic production coming from recycled materials and “German consumers finance recycling via licensing fees, which are added on to the price of the products they purchase,” says Deutsche Welle, Germany’s leading organization for international media development, in a report titled: “Low oil prices threaten Germany’s plastics recycling.” It states: “For manufacturers with eyes firmly fixed on costs, opting for cheaper new plastics would be the more economically attractive option.”

However, many companies, wanting to appear “environmentally friendly” will still “pay up for recycled plastics, despite higher costs”—meaning higher consumer prices for the plastics they produce.

Addressing the recycling problem, the Guardian states: “Recycling only works when there’s someone on the other side of the equation, someone who wants to buy the recycled material.”

Fortunately for the recycling industry, but bad for consumers who pay higher prices for plastic products, the Philipsburg Mail concludes: “A lot of Fortune 500 Companies still want to purchase recyclables to meet sustainability goals.”

Despite claims of “green prosperity” that implies such policies can “fight poverty and raise living standards,” the opposite is true. Everyone pays more—even those who can least afford it—so the elites, seeking green status symbols, can feel good and appear to be community leaders.


Wildlife Preservation and the ‘Balance of Nature’ Myth

Government programs often entail contradictions. The classic type is a policy that goes against the original justification for a program, such as anti-poverty policies that penalize people when their incomes rise. The National Wildlife Refuge System, which turned 113 years old on March 14, exemplifies a contradiction pervasive in environmental policy, according to Ryan M. Yonk, co-author of Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy vs. the Environment. What’s the contradiction?

On the one hand, many government-designated wildlife preserves and wilderness areas were created to prevent humans from upsetting the “balance of nature”—the notion that a natural eco-system represents an ideal equilibrium with just the right proportion of plant and animal species so that they can sustain their populations indefinitely. On the other hand, left to their own devices, flora and fauna work ceaselessly to push each other out of the equation, unbalancing the supposed “balance of nature.” Thus, letting nature “do its thing” can be good for some species and bad for others, sometimes to the point of reducing another vaunted environmental goal: biodiversity.

There are variations on this theme. Conservation managers at Idaho’s Minidoka Wildlife Refuge, for example, had a policy of protecting migratory pelicans—an effort to maintain the “proper” number of pelicans. But such favoritism has been “unbalanced,” leading to diminished numbers of cut-throat trout. Now the refuge personnel are trying to save the trout. “Continuing to manage using the notion of a balance of nature will continue to lead to perverse outcomes like those presently occurring in Idaho,” Yonk writes in a recent op-ed. “Because as long as ‘balance’ itself is the goal, what we will see are simply men’s ideas of what balance should look like. After all, a ‘human-less’ reality would be one that did not even include wildlife management.”


Australia: Earth hour skepticism

The Sydney skyline during Earth Hour in Sydney over the weekend

THE organisers of Earth Hour have hit back at criticism that the now nine-year-old campaign is a “silly fad” that should be “ignored”.

On Sky News’ Viewpoint program last night, host Chris Kenny joined social media naysayers and called out the campaign for being a “pet rock”.

Meanwhile, Earth Hour organisers have criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for not switching off over the weekend “despite countless requests…to protect the places we love” and despite international momentum including support from the United Nations.

Today, Earth Hour Australia’s Manager Sam Webb responded to the criticism, calling out Australian leaders - namely PM Turnbull - for “still dragging their feet”.

“There are some very cynical people in the world,” Ms Webb told

“There are also those who have very closely held interests that are threatened by the move away from fossil fuels on to clean, renewable energy. Sadly, a small number of powerful people make a lot of money from creating the pollution that is causing global warming and they are doing all they can to keep polluting, with no regard for the devastating impact this is having around the world.”

Ms Webb said Australian leaders aren’t keeping “up with the demands of the Australian people by putting strong policies in place to transition Australia as a whole away from dirty fossil fuels that are causing rising temperatures and more extreme weather, and onto clean, safe, renewable energy”.

Opponents have long fought against the campaign since its inception in 2007, arguing that switching off for an hour one day a year will make no difference to the planet’s fragile ecosystem, and in fact, could cost the planet more by switching your lights on and off.

“We need something more. Much more. An hour is just a gimmick,” wrote the Australian Business Review’s Daniel Palmer in a 2013 editorial.

“It’s a bit like the Valentine’s Day of the environmental movement. Aside from the strident environmentalists, most people who commit to it are ‘guilted’ into it. Flowers on Valentine’s Day can’t make up for 364 days of selfishness, just as turning the lights off for an hour can’t make up for 8,759 hours of lazy energy inefficiency (or 8,783 in a leap year).”

But Ms Webb says the awareness that Earth Hour generates does more for the planet than not doing it at all.

“One of the most valuable things about Earth Hour is that it is a catalyst for millions of people to have a conversation about climate change, what this means for us in Australia in particular, and why it is so important that we take action now to ensure we avoid the worst impacts of rising temperatures and extreme weather that we are currently facing,” Ms Webb said.

“We need moments like Earth Hour each year to ensure that climate change stays at the top of the agenda and so that we can continue to demonstrate to our leaders that there is huge support in the Australian community for transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas that are causing the impacts of global warming and onto clean, renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, that Australia has in abundance.”

Earth Hour could not confirm to how many Australians participated in the event this year, citing its most recent figures dating back to 2014, which “found that 1 in 3 Australians, or over 7 million people, took part in Earth Hour Australia”.

The campaign began in 2007 when 2.2 million Sydneysiders switched off their lights. By 2014, they told, over 7 million Australians had joined the switch across the country.



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


22 March, 2016

Dear Naomi revisited

I had a very nice Naomi in my early life -- Naomi Holbeck. I sometimes wonder where she is now.  But the Naomi I want to talk about here is a much less pleasant Naomi:  Naomi Oreskes, one of the many climate frauds.

Something that often gives liars away is that they exaggerate.  They seem to believe Dr. Goebbels' dictum that big lies are more credible than small ones.  The classic example of that is the many elections that various Communist dictators ran in the 20th century.  They would always claim that  they won 98% or thereabouts of the vote.  Nobody believed them of course.

So when Warmists claim that 97% of scientists believe in global warming, historically aware people know how to view that.   It's not even a sophisticated lie.  Some industrious person has put together a list of 97 published rebuttals to John Cook's 97% claim but it was hardly necessary. One wonders how Cook feels to have his work so swingeingly attacked. I suppose he just wears the usual Leftist carapace of Freudian denial.

But the biggest liar of all was Naomi Oreskes. What she claimed in 2004 was TOTALLY unbelievable. In an article in "Science" magazine she claimed to have done a study of the scientific literature on climate change and found that "none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position".  In other words she claimed 100% agreement.  She was less truthful than even a Communist dictator.  There were already known in 2004 some prominent scientists who were vocal climate skeptics such as Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer.  So Oreskes was plainly wrong in claiming that she could find none of them.

The reason I am raking over such old history now is that her work falls neatly into a modern area of scientific concern.  In both the social and biological sciences there has been lately a lot of heartburn about unreplicable results.  Replication is the test of a scientific claim and it is the central reason why academic articles are so turgid.  A believable scientific claim has to go into great detail about how it reached its conclusion so that others can do exactly the same thing to test those conclusions.  If someone repeats exactly what an author did and gets DIFFERENT conclusions, a great lightning bolt falls from the heavens and incinerates the original author.  Just joking!  But the effect is not much less than that.  Nobody believes the original claim any more.

And in recent times there have been many attempts to do such exact replications.  And the results have been terrible.  Around two thirds of established scientific findings in the social and biological sciences have been found to fail replication.  Much of what we thought we knew is false.

And the Oreskes claim failed replication.  Benny Peiser was one of many who found the Oreskes claim laughable but he was the one who put his money where his mouth was and actually made an attempt to replicate the Oreskes procedures.  He got vastly different results.  So by modern scientific standards, the Oreskes findings are wrong and should not be quoted as support for anything.

So if anybody now quotes the Oreskes finding without attaching the word "unreplicable" to it, they thereby show that they are out of step with modern scientific standards.

But Warmists abandoned science long ago, of course.  In their major papers they withheld details that would allow replications of their work.  And when other scientists asked for the withheld details, the Warmists refused point blank to assist.  They branded such reqeusts as "harassment".  Their response actually made replication unnecessary.  It revealed that they themselves knew their work to be fraudulent.

But Naomi has won great honor and glory for her work.  Far from being discredited, she has risen greatly in the world.  She is now a professor at Harvard.  With almost total Leftist control of the media, the bureaucracy and the educational system, the modern world floats on a sea of lies and Naomi is just one of many frauds -- which is why you get Donald Trump, the only prominent figure bold enough to trash completely the Left-led consensus.

Leftist scientists advocating secrecy

They believe in transparency  -- for others

The group has been a fierce advocate for transparency, regularly championing investigations that rely on public documents to hold government officials accountable.

But over the past year, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Cambridge-based advocacy group that represents thousands of scientists around the country, has campaigned to limit the scrutiny of scientists who work for public universities and agencies through public records requests.

These scientists, the group says, are increasingly being harassed by ideological foes who seek to unearth documents that would derail or sully their work with evidence of bias.

“We don’t want to work in an environment where every keystroke is subject to public records,’’ said Michael Halpern, who oversees strategy at the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, founded at MIT in 1969. “We’re trying to protect the deliberative nature of science. . . . Scientists need space to come to new knowledge, and to give critical feedback.”

But the group’s efforts have sparked tensions with other open-government advocates, who have argued that it risks opening loopholes that could make it easier for officials and agencies to hide information from the public.

“It’s just gibberish to say these laws stifle research,” said David Cuillier, director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists’s freedom of information committee. “These are government scientists funded by taxpayers, and the public is entitled to see what they’re working on.”

The dispute centers on the proper balance between academic freedom and the transparency of public institutions, and has escalated as a growing number of scientists, typically those who research controversial topics such as climate change, receive public records requests.

The requests often seek e-mails between scientists in hopes of exposing ideological bias or a political agenda. While open records laws vary from state to state, the controversy primarily affects researchers at public universities or those involved in projects that receive public funding.

Critics say that many of the requests abuse the spirit of open records laws and threaten to stifle research. They also make it harder for public universities to conduct controversial research and attract top faculty, compared with private universities where scientists aren’t generally subject to open records laws, they say.

“Our role is to raise awareness about how scientists are being harassed,” Halpern said.

Halpern wants exceptions made for scientists in public information laws, and has argued for new standards at federal institutions, such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, that would shield e-mails with fellow scientists, research notes, primary data, and other correspondence they consider confidential.

In a 2015 report titled “Freedom to Bully: How Laws Intended to Free Information Are Used to Harass Researchers,” the Union of Concerned Scientists cited a host of examples of researchers who said they had been harassed by public records requests.

A climate scientist, Michael Mann, who had taught at the University of Virginia and now teaches at Penn State, described how a conservative group called the American Tradition Institute used Virginia’s open records law to seek all his e-mail correspondence with other scientists.

He resisted, and after a lengthy legal battle, the Supreme Court of Virginia rejected the request in 2014, ruling that Mann’s e-mails were exempt from the state’s public records law.

He described the request as an “attack” and said it reflected how public records requests are being used “in a way that they were never intended to be used.”

“What groups like ATI are looking for is a weak link, some institution that, rather than asserting its rights . . . will simply take the path of least resistance (and expense), and cave,” Mann wrote in an e-mail. “That’s why they continue to probe, filing vexatious open records requests against climate researchers in state after state.”

The report also cited the case of Steve Wing, an epidemiologist from the University of North Carolina.

Wing said he was targeted with “extensive and burdensome” public records requests by the North Carolina Pork Council, a trade group, after he released a study in the 1990s linking neighbors’ illnesses to hog farms. The group sought all materials associated with the study, including the names of the study’s participants.

Wing said a university administrator told him he could be subject to criminal prosecution if he failed to comply, and he eventually negotiated a compromise to turn over documents that were redacted to protect the participants’ confidentiality.

But open government advocates note that public records requests have helped expose conflicts of interests involving scientists, such as Wei-Hock Soon, a physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has argued that global warming can be explained by variations in the sun’s energy, rather than increased carbon emissions from pollution.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, environmental groups obtained documents showing that Soon had failed to disclose he had accepted more than $1.2 million from the fossil-fuel industry.

Michael Macleod-Ball, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union who specializes in open records laws, said about two dozen states have some type of exemption to their public records laws for researchers at public universities.

The federal freedom of information law, he said, has no such protections unless the records involve national security, trade secrets, or several other exempt categories.

In Massachusetts, the open records law includes no exemptions for the communications of researchers at public universities. Proposed changes to the records law, slated for debate this year, would not add any.

But state officials, as well as those at public universities, have often cited other exemptions to deny requests or redact records, or only make them available at exorbitant fees. For example, the law allows the University of Massachusetts to exempt “trade secrets or other proprietary information” from public records requests.

The debate has intensified in recent weeks. In a New York Times opinion piece in January, Paul Thacker, a journalist and former congressional investigator, wrote that adding exemptions to public records laws would set a “dangerous precedent.”

“When research is paid for by the public, the public has a right to demand transparency,” he wrote. “Scientists who profess agreement with transparency only when it is on their terms are not for transparency at all.”

Halpern responded on the group’s blog, calling Thacker’s arguments “hollow” and saying they misrepresent the union’s campaign.

“The suggestion that scientists are hypocrites for supporting transparency while opposing absolute disclosure does not hold water,” he wrote.

Halpern said the union supports keeping all correspondence between scientists and government officials open to the public, and acknowledged the challenge in finding the proper line between transparency and confidentiality.

“We have plenty of work to do to increase transparency in science, and rid it of inappropriate influence,” he wrote. “But that doesn’t mean we should scan every handwritten note, record every phone call, or publish every e-mail.”


The "pause" lives on!

An industrious graph-maker (Australian, Ken Stewart) has just turned the latest UAH (satellite) data into a series of graphs, with different graphs for various regions of the world.  That supposedly "global" warming was not showing up in his local area was what got him blogging.

So his latest graphs follow on neatly from something I pointed out yesterday:  That it is absurd to speak of "global" warming at a time when some parts of the globe are in fact cooling.  I offered only the authority of my Crepe Myrtle trees for that observation but our industrious blogger offers the satellite evidence on that.  He shows that the trend lines differ from one another in the 11 areas he singles out.

I reproduce below only three of his graphs but I think they are the ones of greatest interest:  Graphs for the globe, the USA and Australia. He shows that the pause has lasted 18 years and 10 months in the USA but in Australia it has lasted 20 years and 11 months.

UAH v6.0 data for February have been released. Here are updated graphs for various regions showing the furthest back one can go to show a zero or negative trend (less than +0.1C/ 100 years) in lower tropospheric temperatures.    Note: The satellite record commences in December 1978- now 37 years and 3 months long- 447 months.  12 month running means commence in November 1979.

Despite the record TLT for February, I am sorry to disappoint GWEs that The Pause has not disappeared.  In some regions it has lengthened, in others it has shortened, and in the Northern Extra-Tropics it has disappeared (by my criterion)- but mostly it has remained at the same length.


Pesky! Analysis Finds No Correlation Between Glacier Melt And CO2, Melting Much Slower Today Than 1930s!

According to the below graph (Fig. 2 a) found in Gregory et al., 2013 in Journal of Climate (“Twentieth-Century Global-Mean Sea Level Rise: Is the Whole Greater than the Sum of the Parts?”), there was a very substantial increase in the glacier and ice sheet melt contribution to sea level rise in the early 20th century, reaching up to 2 mm/year sea level rise equivalent.

Source: Gregory et al., 2013 in Journal of Climate

In recent years, the documented rise in sea levels contributed from glacier and ice sheet melt has not come close to reaching the high levels attained during the 1920s and 1930s period as documented by Gregory et al., 2013.

For example according to Shepherd et al., 2012 (see below), the total ice sheet melt contribution from the Antarctic (AIS) and Greenland (GIS) ice sheets combined was 0.59 mm/year (~2.3 inches per century) during the 1992-2011 period and the total ice sheet or glacier melt from all other land sources (not the AIS or GIS) was 0.41 mm/year (~1.6 inches per century) for 2003 to 2010 according to Jacob et al., 2012 (see below).

Together, the total melt contribution from global land ice was about 1 mm/year (~4 inches per century) through the first decade of the 21st century, which is still well below the melt rates achieved during the 1920s and 1930s.

Interestingly, during the 1920s to 1930s period of very high glacier melt rate contributions to sea level rise, human CO2 emissions were flat and only averaged about 1 GtC/year (see graph below).

In contrast, during the 1990s to 2010/2011 period, CO2 emissions rates reached 6 to 9 GtC/year.

Unanswered question

If anthropogenic CO2 emissions are truly driving ice sheet and glacier melt contributions to sea level rise, why was the melt contribution significantly higher during the 1920s and 1930s when CO2 emissions rates were flat and about 1/6th to 1/9th of what they’ve been in recent years?


Britain's crazy energy policy just got madder still

Until last week, the greatest collective flight from reality in the history of British politics was that brought about by Ed Miliband’s 2008 Climate Change Act
Just when we think the world can’t get any madder, along comes something to show that we haven’t yet seen the half of it (who, three years ago, could have predicted the rise of Isil or Donald Trump?). Another such moment came last Monday when our energy minister Andrea Leadsom told MPs that the Government now believes that we should “enshrine” in law the “Paris goal” of cutting our emissions of CO2 to “zero”.

"This 80 per cent figure was at the last minute plucked from the air by Mr Miliband, on the advice of a young lady called Bryony Worthington..."

As we know, arguably the greatest collective flight from reality in the history of British politics was that brought about by Ed Miliband’s 2008 Climate Change Act, which committed Britain, alone in the world, to cutting its “carbon emissions” by 80 per cent. Anyone with a shred of common sense would have known that, with fossil fuels still providing (according to the latest government figures) 84 per cent of all our energy – including 70 per cent of our electricity and pretty well 100 per cent of our transport – while renewable wind, sun and hydro supply less than 2 per cent, it was not entirely rational to set ourselves a goal that could only be reached by closing down virtually our entire economy.

Yet this 80 per cent figure was at the last minute plucked from the air by Mr Miliband, on the advice of a young lady called Bryony Worthington, previously the climate change campaign director for Friends of the Earth, who had been invited to draft an Act which was then supported by all but five of our MPs.
When Mrs Leadsom announced that the Government now wishes to raise that 80 per cent figure to 100 per cent, she offered fulsome thanks to Ed Miliband and the now Baroness Worthington for suggesting it.

She was promptly congratulated by the Green MP Caroline Lucas, whose only reservation was that the Government should also commit itself to producing 100 per cent of our electricity from “renewables”. But even Mrs Leadsom realises that there are times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine – so that to keep our lights on, it might be advisable, as a “transitional approach to decarbonisation”, to build a few more gas-fired power stations. But no one is any longer willing to do this, because it would scarcely pay to invest in plants the Government would soon wish to see closed down anyway.

So it seems that Mrs Leadsom is also still pinning her hopes of keeping our economy functioning on two more pipe dreams. One is that plan to get the French to build easily the most expensive nuclear plant in the world at Hinkley Point, which seems to get more dodgy with every month that passes.

The other is the even more costly plan to bribe a few gas-fired power stations to continue running, so long as all their CO2 emissions are piped off to be buried in holes under the North Sea, by a technology not yet developed and which almost certainly never will be.

So carried away into cloud cuckoo land have been all those responsible for our energy policy that Mrs Leadsom now proposes that we should go literally for broke. If our existing policy is like committing suicide by taking ever larger doses of paracetamol, she now wants us to make doubly sure by knocking back a cup of cyanide.

What makes this even more bizarre is that, in doing so, she somehow believes that our “world-leading Climate Change Act” will set an example for all other countries to follow. She wants Britain to be the first to meet that wholly fictitious “Paris goal”, by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to zero. She conveniently forgets that the Paris agreement committed no one to anything.

China, India and many other countries are planning to build hundreds more coal-fired power stations (of which we will soon have none at all), in a way that will guarantee a further huge leap in the world’s “carbon emissions”, to which our own contribution is now only 1.2 per cent. At least when lemmings jump over a cliff, they are all supposed to do it together. Mrs Leadsom and the rest of our politicians seem happy that we should be the only one.


Crazy German Greenies

The world's first "Green" political party to come to power was the Nazi party so I suppose we should not be surprised at the craziness.  The latest example: German PV Power Costs 50 Cents To Produce, Gets Less Than 4 Cents On The Market!

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Commerce And Energy (BMWi) presents a brochure every year with the feed-in act in figures. The brochure lists the costs of the Energiewende (energy transition) in detail. Germany’s EEG feed-in act total subsidy for supporting the Energiewende and expanding renewable energies in 2014 cost approx. 24 billion euros. In 2015 the cost is projected to be some 27 billion euros. From the BMWi figures, it is clear that the major cost driver in Germany’s Energiewende is photovoltaic power.

The following table lists the photovoltaic (PV) power produced in the years 2000-2015 (which was subsidized by the EEG), the average EEG subsidy per kilowatt-hour of solar energy 2000-2015, and the total EEG subsidy for solar energy for PV power ín billions of euros 2000-2015.

The total EEG subsidies paid for PV power rose from 0.015 billion euros in 2000 to almost 11 billion euros in 2015! This is increase is completely due to the installation of total PV capacity shown by the blue bars in the following chart.

The red bars in the above chart show the total subsidies paid each year for PV power. 2015 will see close to 11 billion euros paid in subsidies to support solar power. The heavy black line shows the amount of new installations. New PV installations have trailed off since subsidies for solar energy were scaled back in 2012.

Total installed photovoltaic capacity in Germany has risen from 1 GW in 2003 to almost 40 GW today. The average EEG subsidy for PV power has fallen from 50 cents per kilowatt hour to 30 cents today. Thus the addition of PV capacity continues to surpass the significantly reduced EEG subsidy for PV power, which means total subsidies doled out continue to rise.

With 11 billion euros, PV is the major cost driver of the Energiewende, and accounts for 40% of the total EEG subsidies of 27 billion euros to be paid out this year.

For the 11 billion euros in subsidies, about 1 billion euros of power is actually marketed. That means the subsidies cost a net 10 billion euros annually, which power consumers are forced to pay. That turns out to be about 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. For an average household that means about 90 euros per year in extra costs.

For the photovoltaic producers, it’s a great business: Many get 50 cents per kilowatt hour (guaranteed 20 years) while the same kilowatt gets sold for only 3 to 4 cents on the market.

Read here to see the impact this has had on German CO2 emissions (none). Is this insanity, or not?



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 March, 2016

Woe is me!

I forgot that it was Earth Hour in Australia on 19th.  You "save the planet" by turning off all your lights for one hour, allegedly.  In my evil planet-destroying way, I normally make a point of turning on every light in the house on Earth hour but missed doing that this time.  I had some lights on but not enough

Another personal gripe I have mentioned a few times concerns the fact that Warmists are having orgasms about the recent rise in average temperature in some places on earth.  This has been translated to give a global average that is higher than usual.  But that higher temperature is NOT global.  How do I know that?  My Crepe Myrtle (botanically "Lagerstroemia") trees tell me that.  Crepe Myrtles produce a great mass of blossom in various colors when they flower and Brisbane people really like flowering trees.  They are everywhere in Brisbane: Jacarandas, Poincianas and Crepe Myrtles, plus others.

The catch is that Crepe Myrtles originate in warm regions of India and are heat sensitive.  They blossom reliably only in the tropics.  When I lived in the tropics, we called them Christmas bushes because they came out just before Christmas in December.  In the subtropics where I now live, however, the warm weather is slower to arrive and they normally blossom in January.  And this year my eight trees did not blossom at all. So my locality experienced COOLING at the same time that global warming was being proclaimed.

So does that show anything?  It does.  It shows that the "smashing" temperature rise proclaimed by Jim Hansen was in fact so weak that it coincided  with cooling in some places.  It was not a "global" temperature rise at all.  It was only a rise in some places.  That is all one can accurately say about it

Below is part of what I saw when I looked out my backdoor in January, 2015:  17 metres of blossom right across my backyard

How to explain the LACK of extreme weather events?

Warmists model their little hearts out trying to link various extreme weather events to global warming.  But what about the extreme weather events that have become LESS frequent?  How do we explain them?  Is the loss of extreme events caused by global warming too?  I'm guessing that Warmists  will indeed say that.  After all, EVERYTHING is explained by global warming.  Paul Homewood below sets out what a big task lies before them

Unable to persuade the public that a slightly warmer world is a bad thing, the climate establishment has turned to peddling the myth that global warming is leading to more extreme weather.

There have been a number of studies which have attempted to connect the two. Even then, as I showed with the above AMS attempt a few months ago, most extreme events cannot be linked, and those that are claimed to be are extremely tenuous.

Of course, weather is an impossibly complex affair, and it is inevitable that some weather events may be made more likely or more intense in a warmer world. But, equally, the opposite is also true – that some events are less likely. Naturally, we never hear the absence of extreme weather analysed in this way by the likes of the AMS or Met Office.

So, I invite them to have a go at these examples:


US land falling hurricanes have been at record low levels in recent years, and it is now more than ten years since a major hurricane hit.




There has been a long term decline in both the number of tornadoes, and particularly, the frequency of stronger ones.




Droughts were much more commonplace, prolonged and severe prior to the 1970s.


Summer Heatwaves

There has been a marked absence of extreme heatwaves in recent years, and nothing approaches the run of intensely hot summers in the 1930s.


Bitter Winters

According to NOAA’s albeit highly adjusted data, extremely cold winters are a thing of the past in the US.



As with drought indicators, US rainfall has tended to be greater since the pre 1970 period.  There is no indication, however, of precipitation becoming more extreme since then. The wettest year was 1973.


Regional Precipitation Extremes

National totals can, of course, cover up regional imbalances.The NOAA chart below shows the balance of extremely wet and dry areas. As with PDSI, very dry areas are much less common, while the area of very wet weather is stable.

(NOAA’s graph is not well presented; although it says “December”, it is in fact for all months since 1895. Each bar represents a single month)



Pushing Back Against the EPA

Coal waste can be converted to useful energy, if the EPA would just get out of the way.

Lately, Congress has been taking some significant steps to push back against federal regulatory agencies. Regulations cost our economy $2 trillion a year, and are written and enforced by unelected bureaucrats with no accountability to voters. They undermine property rights, representative government and the rule of law, and its high time someone did something about it.

Yesterday, I wrote about Joni Ernst’s bill to put a moratorium on new regulations between the election and the swearing in of the new Congress, a time when lawmakers are notoriously unaccountable to voters and uninterested in fighting any difficult fights. Today, the House of Representatives voted on a bill authored by Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12) to rein in some of the EPA’s emissions standards on coal refuse plants.

Coal refuse plants work by using the discarded remnants of coal production, transforming them into steam energy. From both an environmental standpoint, and based on consumer needs, this is preferable to simply letting coal refuse sit around and take up space. However, the EPA has issued strict emissions standards on coal refuse plants that make them difficult to operate, and in many cases, unprofitable.

Rothfus’ bill, known as the SENSE Act, would loosen emission requirements on these types of plants, would clarify that plants can only be forced to comply with one standard, as opposed to several competing simultaneous standards, and allows alternative means for plants to comply.

Supporters of the bill argue that it will save jobs in the energy sector, and will help the environment by allowing for a productive use of coal refuse, which was previously nothing more than useless waste.

All this may seem like a relatively small advance in the battle against overregulation, but the mere fact that Congress is starting to wake up to the need to take action is encouraging. THe nature of regulations is that agencies rarely put forward sweeping packages that enact major changes all at once. It happens, of course, but far more often, agencies promulgate dozens of small rules that it’s difficult for individuals to really care about. It’s a fiendish strategy designed to neutralize grassroots action and make the messaging war for small government advocates more difficult.

That’s why it’s so important for Congress to remain vigilant, and exercise its constitutional power of the purse to rein in these agencies and protect the American economy from overregulation. THe House passed Rothfus’ bill by a vote of 231-183, and it will now be transmitted to the Senate.


Beware! Your emails, SMS’ are adding to global warming

This appears to be seriously meant -- JR

The dozens of e-mails we send every day and the text messages from our smartphones are contributing to global warming. And we are not even aware how.

In isolation, these discrete units of our virtual existence seem weightless and without cost. A short email, for example, is estimated to add about four grammes (0.14 ounces) of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) into the atmosphere.

By comparison, humanity emits some 40 billions tonnes of CO2 every year.

But as the digital era deepens, the accumulated volume of virtual messages has become a significant part of humanity’s carbon footprint. “Electricity consumption related to the growth of digital technologies is exploding,” notes Alain Anglade of the French Environment and Energy Management Agency.

In France it already accounts for more than 10 percent of total electricity use, he said, a percentage that holds for many developed countries.

Sending five dozen of those four-gramme emails in a day from your smartphone or laptop, for example, is the equivalent of driving an average-size car a kilometre (0.6 miles).

The culprits are greenhouse gases produced in running the computer, server and routers, but also include those emitted when the equipment was manufactured.

Add a 1-megabyte (MB) attachment -- a photo or invitation, say -- and the energy consumed would be enough to power a low-wattage lightbulb for two hours.

If that email is sent to a mailing list, multiply by the number of recipients.

Email tips for the energy-conscious include avoiding unnecessary recipients, slimming the weight of attachments, emptying your trash box.

Even not being too verbose is helpful -- the carbon counter is running as someone reads your long-winded missive about that trip to Disney World.

And then there’s spam, the notorious canned ham that became a byword for unsolicited advertising.

Anti-virus software maker McAfee estimated that upward of 60 trillion spams are sent each year, generating the same greenhouse gas emissions as three million cars using 7.5 billion litres (two million gallons) of petrol.

Even no-frills SMS text messages -- like the tiniest of atoms -- are not without mass, weighing in at about 0.014 grammes of CO2e.

And e-readers are not necessarily more eco-friendly than old-fashioned books.

It takes about a kilo of CO2e to make an airport paperback, but at least 200 times as much to manufacturer an e-reader.

That means you would need to read no less than 70 books a year for three years on a digital device to be “carbon neutral” compared to a book.


Philippine church groups believe in global warming so it must be right

The Third world is very much  at the mercy of First world fads

Church groups in the Philippines called on environmental advocates to seriously work for a "productive environment and climate justice" to address the roots of global warming and to bring about strategic and lasting solutions.

"People rise up, speak out and take concrete actions," read the March 16 statement from the group Stewards of Creation.

The group issued the statement following this week's Climate Reality Project event led by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in Manila.

The Stewards of Creation noted that the Philippines has been on the receiving end of extreme weather conditions resulting in super typhoons and long droughts.

In the 2016 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, released by risk analysis company Verisk Maplecroft, the Philippines ranked 13th among the most climate-vulnerable countries.

With the onslaught of this year's dry season, the country expects crop losses and lower livestock and poultry production.

Jose Arnel Aguilar, spokesman of Stewards of Creation, noted that world leaders have failed to address the root causes of climate change.

"After more than two decades of climate summits ... the poorest and most vulnerable people remain at the margins, experiencing not only an inconvenient truth but a harsh and dangerous reality," said Aguilar.

In the central Philippine city of Cebu, environmental groups band with the church and educational institutions to amplify their call for discussion of environmental agendas during the election campaigns of presidential candidates for this year's elections.

The Concerned Cebuanos for the Environment, a newly formed group, said the environmental issue is an "urgent and important cornerstone platform and agenda."

"It's high time that politicians prioritize a green agenda and ensure implementation," said Sister Virgie Ligaray of the Association of Women Religious of Cebu.


Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton should apologize for coal comments

Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday called on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to apologize for questionable comments she recently made about killing coal industry jobs:

    “I think she should apologize. She should apologize to every Kentucky worker that’s lost their job in recent times because of her policies,” he said in a video, which was uploaded by Kentucky news site CN2. “I’m calling today for Hillary Clinton to apologize for all of Kentucky for these outrageous comments.” ...

    Paul added that her remarks were a “brazen comment” that showed “casual disregard for hardworking Kentucky coal miners — for them losing their jobs because of Hillary Clinton’s policies.”

At a CNN town hall on Sunday, Clinton proclaimed that she’s “going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business” in her effort to move America toward “clean renewable energy.” The remark has drawn criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike who represent Appalachian communities reliant on the coal industry.

Clinton tried to clarify her position in a letter sent to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) earlier this week.


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 March, 2016

Blame global warming, New Zealand is losing glaciers

More lies below, and obvious ones at that.  From Wikipedia: "The Franz Josef glacier ... exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the névé.  The glacier advanced rapidly during the Little Ice Age, reaching a maximum in the early eighteenth century. Having retreated several kilometres between the 1940s and 1980s, the glacier entered an advancing phase in 1984 and at times has advanced at the phenomenal (by glacial standards) rate of 70 cm a day"

New Zealand is renowned for its wondrous scenery, and among the country's top tourist attractions are two glaciers that are both stunning and unusual because they snake down from the mountains to a temperate rain forest, making them easy for people to walk up to and view.

But the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers have been melting at such a rapid rate that it has become too dangerous for tourists to hike onto them from the valley floor, ending a tradition that dates back a century.

With continuing warm weather this year there are no signs of a turnaround, and scientists say it is another example of how global warming is impacting the environment.

Tourism in New Zealand is booming and nearly 1 million people last year flocked to get a glimpse of the glaciers and the spectacular valleys they've carved. But the only way to set foot on them now is to get flown onto them by helicopter.

Tour operators offer flights and guided glacier walks, although logistics limit this to 80,000 tourists per year, half the number that once hiked up from the valley floor.

Up to another 150,000 people each year take scenic flights that land briefly at the top of the glaciers.

Flying in the Unesco World Heritage area comes with its own risks, highlighted in November when a sightseeing helicopter crashed onto the Fox Glacier, killing all seven aboard.

Sitting near the base of the Franz Josef Glacier, Wayne Costello, a district operations manager for the department of conservation, said that when he arrived eight years ago, the rock he was perched on would have been buried under tons of ice. Instead, the glacier now comes to an end a half-mile (800 meters) further up the valley.

"Like a loaf of bread shrinking in its tin, it's gone down a lot as well," Costello said. "So it's wasted away in terms of its thickness, and that's led to quite a rapid melt."

Because of that melt, the valley walls that were once braced by the glaciers have been left exposed and vulnerable to rock falls, making hiking up too dangerous. Tour operators stopped taking guided hikes onto the Franz Josef in 2012 and the nearby Fox in 2014.

A 2014 paper published in the journal Global and Planetary Change concluded the two glaciers have each melted by 3 kilometres in length since the 1800s, making them about 20 percent shorter.

The glaciers have recently been melting at a faster pace than ever previously recorded, the authors said.


More evidence that the recent global temperature uptick is not the result of human activities

The Cape Grim figures show that CO2 levels have been static during the recent temperature uptick and these new figures below show the same thing.  But if CO2 figures have been static, they cannot have been driving a temperature uptick. These latest CO2 emission figures are probably a bit shaky, but no more so than other climate-related figures.  At least there seems to be no evidence that they are massaged, unlike temperature data from NOAA and GISS

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions held steady for the second year in a row while the economy grew, according to the International Energy Agency.

In a simple, two-column spreadsheet released yesterday, IEA showed that the world’s energy sector produced 32.14 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide in 2015, up slightly from 32.13 metric gigatons in 2014. Meanwhile, the global economy grew more than 3 percent.

Analysts credited the rise of renewables—clean energy made up more than 90 percent of new energy production in 2015—for keeping greenhouse gas emissions flat.

“The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol in a press release. “Coming just a few months after the landmark COP21 agreement in Paris, this is yet another boost to the global fight against climate change.”

IEA, an energy cooperative and research firm with 29 member countries, has tracked global greenhouse gas emissions for 40 years and in that time witnessed only three other periods when global emissions fell, each associated with an economic recession.

The findings challenge assumptions that billowing smokestacks are harbingers of growing economies. They also indicate that a similar report last year was not a fluke but part of a larger trend of decoupling emissions from growth.

Mixed reactions greeted the findings.

Doug Vine, a senior energy fellow at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said IEA’s announcement echoes past trends within many developed nations in which gross domestic product grew much faster than greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is the first time it’s showed up at the global level,” he said.


Why does Inhofe back Kasich?

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) held a large snowball during a Senate floor speech early last year to parody believers in global warming. In 2012, his book was titled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”

So it might be surprising that in the 2016 Republican presidential primary Inhofe announced this week he is behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Even when the field was 17 strong, Kasich was the only GOP candidate who said climate change is a problem and humans have something to do with it.

In a debate in March, Kasich said, “I do believe we contribute to climate change.”

Last month, campaigning in South Carolina, Kasich asked rhetorically, “Am I not a conservative because I think human beings affect the climate? I’m for the environment.”

Kasich has made similar comments numerous other times but has never supported cap-and-trade legislation backed by Democrats.

So what could prompt Inhofe to back Kasich for president when the senator doesn’t believe the science is settled?

“[Inhofe] believes the climate is changing, as it always has been, but he does not believe man is the driver of that change,” Inhofe spokesman Donelle Harder told TheBlaze. “Gov. Kasich has said time and again that the ‘EPA is too punitive’ and that he would ‘scrap’ the Clean Power Plan.”

Further, Harder notes that Kasich believes fossil fuels would always be part of the American economy.

“Inhofe, having a personal relationship with Kasich, knows he is a man of his word and believes Kasich would follow through on his plans to rein EPA in and overturn economically harmful climate regulations,” Harder said

The personal relationship, which began when the two men served together in Congress, seems to have played a key role in the endorsement.

“During this time, I also attended a weekly Bible study with him for eight years,” Inhofe said in a statement announcing the endorsement. “You learn a lot about a person when you attend a Bible study together, so I can tell you personally that he is a man of his word. When he talked, people listened. Now the country is listening to his message of optimism and results.”

Kasich is generally characterized as a moderate in the race against front-runner Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. However, Inhofe has scored well in conservative rankings, with a 92 percent score by the American Conservative Union and a 74 percent liberty score by Conservative Review.


Global Warming Hiatus To Be Investigated In Multidisciplinary Research Project

A bit hard to know what to make of this but it appears that some govrernment scientists have kept an open mind

After recent research pointed to data discrepancies as the cause of the global warming hiatus that many in the field debate, scientists from the U.K.'s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) are planning to investigate the issue and determine why the global warming trend varies from decade to decade. The NOC will work alongside researchers from nine other organizations, which marks the start of a major new multidisciplinary research project.

The NOC claims that a slowdown has been observed in the global warming of the Earth's surface over the last decade, although they note that despite this decrease, heat is still increasing in other parts of the climate system, such as the deep ocean.

The new project, called Securing Multidisciplinary Understanding and Prediction of Hiatus and Surge events (SMURPHS), will investigate the potential causes of this slowdown including volcanic activity, solar radiation and greenhouse gases, among others, and determine the impacts that each of these factors have on the variation in global warming.

NOC scientists previously observed that the absorption of heat by the North Atlantic, Tropical Pacific and Southern Oceans plays a key role in the recent global warming slowdown. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the team plans on continuing to investigate the role of the ocean in global warming variability

Global warming is viewed by most environmental scientists as one of the Earth's most important problems, but so far, effective policies to address it have had mixed results. The new study aims to uncover why the rate of surface warming varies so much by the decade and use the findings to better inform government policies regarding climate change adaptation.

Despite the global warming slowdown observed over the recent years, some claim that the "hiatus" has been broken by the weather phenomenon El Niño, pointing to the recent warm surge as evidence.


Maine: LePage opposes compromise to rapidly expand solar power

A compromise proposal to boost solar power development in Maine 12-fold over five years is being opposed by Gov. Paul LePage, casting a shadow over the hopes of clean-energy advocates and setting the stage for a fight in the Legislature.

The proposal, which is being drafted into a bill, has won the support of interest groups that don’t often see eye to eye. They include solar installers, Maine’s Office of Public Advocate and the state’s two investor-owned utilities, Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine. They are backing a plan that they say would create an estimated 800 jobs and help all ratepayers.

But staffers at LePage’s energy office who have participated in negotiations on the compromise have reached a different conclusion. They say the plan maintains subsidies for homeowners who install solar-electric panels on their rooftops at levels that hurt other ratepayers.

“We’re not opposed to solar,” said Lisa Smith, a senior planner in the energy office. “But we’re looking out for the cost to all ratepayers. We were in favor of a mechanism that went in a market-based direction, but this isn’t it.”

Critics and backers are preparing to make their cases next week, at a yet-to-be-scheduled public hearing before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.

Government support and falling equipment prices have sent solar installations soaring across the country. The federal Energy Information Administration estimates that large, utility-scale solar projects being proposed this year will exceed the generation of any other single energy source.

New England is sharing in this movement, particularly in states where policies encourage solar energy. But in Maine, clean-energy advocates lament the lack of rebates and incentives, driven by LePage’s view that homeowners who can afford the upfront cost of installing solar panels are benefiting from the rates that power companies charge all of their customers to maintain the grid.

Advocates counter that the governor isn’t taking into account how all Mainers would benefit from solar power because of things such as cleaner air and job creation.


"Divestment" mania comes to Australian National University

Several hundred academics and staff members at Australian National University signed an open letter requesting the school jettison its oil and gas assets, even as the school promises to table the measure, citing the need to keep the school financially stable.

The ANU letter calls on the university to make its fossil fuel assets transparent, as well as ending whatever oil assets the school currently has by 2021.

Activist with Fossil Free, a group associated with the controversial environmentalist Bill McKibben, delivered the letter signed by 450 staff and academics to the school’s vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt.

The University currently has $43 million sunk in fossil fuel assets, according to Fossil Free spokeswoman and ANU student Zoe Neumayer, which would place it among a handful of universities gathering more than $40 million in fossil fuel assets.

Among those rebuking the divestment charge are Harvard University, which has $107.8 million in fossil fuel assets, as well as Yale University, with a lofty oil and coal asset portfolio of $51.09 million.

"(We believe) the ANU needs to divest from fossil fuels in order to properly be a global climate leader," Neumayer told reporters Tuesday, noting also that nearly 82 percent of students voted for divestment

The University Council’s decision to table the open letter comes two years after the school divested shares in 7 mining companies.

ANU moved in 2014 to purge assets from Australia mining companies Santos and Iluka Resources, following calls from independent groups for the school to become more socially responsible.

Officials condemned the move at the time.

"Sadly, no, the universities govern themselves. But I think to suggest that companies like Santos and Iluka, which are both excellent companies, are somehow not ethical investments is a bizarre decision," Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, told reporters.

That was then, this is now.

Schmidt, an astrophysicist who was recently appointed the school’s vice chancellor and an avowed proponent of fighting the advent of man-made global warming — said he still recognizes the school has responsibilities to its faculty and staff.

"The council has to balance both its fiduciary responsibilities to provide the funds for students and staff needs, such as superannuation payments and student scholarships, with that of socially responsible investments," he said.

Schmidt added: "It is a complex issue, and both the council and I welcome the views of staff and students."  He said the school would continue to fight global warming despite ANU’s decision to table requests to divest.



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 March, 2016

February global temperature rise proves nothing

The shrill article below is panicking over February temperatures so I suppose I should point out a few obvious things.  I have really dealt with this nonsense before but a few comments anyway. 

For a start, hanging anything on the figures for one month is dumb.  You can have unusually hot months in a year where there is no overall change.  Even figures for one year are rubbery.  Figures for years can go up and down but still show no overall trend.  You need a trend over a period of years to conclude anything.  2015 was a touch warmer but 2016 could be a touch cooler overall.  If we get an early return of La Nina, the later months of 2016 could be cool in the same way that the early months were warm.  That's all elementary stuff -- even if it is conspicuously overlooked below.

It was a bit boring writing all that freshman-level stuff above but I was listening to some Stravinsky while I wrote it so that kept me alert and happy

But now to get onto the specifics about February 2016:  According to NOAA (See here) The February 2016 temperature was 5.69°F above the C20 average.  That seems a lot.  One can understand it being called "whopping".  But wait a minute.  2005 was 4.12°F above the same average.  Was that "whopping" too?  Did that presage climate catastrophe?  Ten years later we can say that it clearly didn't.  And February 2015 was -0.85°F -- BELOW average.  Did that warn of an oncoming ice age?  Clearly not.  Hanging your hat on one month is brick thick. I really shouldn't have to point out what excreta the article below is.  Temperatures fluctuate but there is no statistically significant long-term trend.

So Feb 2016 was a bit higher than 2005. Why?  Easy:  El Nino. Despite what is said below, it was in fact TOTALLY due to El Nino. How do I know that?  Because it was NOT due to a rise in CO2.  The recent temperature rises did not fit neatly into any one year.  They were concentrated in late 2015 and early 2016,  And that is PRECISELY a period over which CO2 levels plateaued.  From August 2015 to February 2016, CO2 levels have been stuck on 398 ppm, according to the Cape Grim data.  CO2 levels over that period only varied by less than one part per million.  Annual changes before that were around 2 parts per million.

The big Warmist story is that warming is due to CO2 levels.  If that were so, the recent rise in temperature would be a mirror of rising CO2 levels.  But the CO2 levels belie that. They didn't rise.  Once again temperature and CO2 are disconnected. So El Nino is the only explanation left for the recent temperature uptick.  It is an entirely natural fluctuation with nothing to do with human actions.  That's what the data tells us.  Do look up the Cape Grim data yourself to check it

February shattered climate records, scientists worried we could see 2C warming within months.

Does everybody still believe global warming is a hoax? Yet more data confirms what scientists have feared for a long time, the planet is warming, and it may have passed a tipping point. The latest data now reveals that February 2016 was the hottest February on record, and it blew that record by a wide margin.

February is a cold month, especially in the northern hemisphere, so it's surprising to see that it was so hot. And hot is the right word to use. According to climate data, the entire northern hemisphere was 2.43 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than average, and a full  third of a degree hotter than the record.

Whens peaking of climate records, it is common to deal in tenths or even hundredths of a degree. To see a third of a degree, or, in this case, nearly two-and-a-half degrees, overall, is literally unprecedented. February 2016 is the first month in history that global average temperatures exceeded the 1.5 degree (Celsius) average.

Scientists also noted that the warmth was unusually concentrated in the Arctic, contributing to record ice melt and likely weather anomalies.

While El Nino can be blamed for some of the weather anomalies for 2015-2016, global warming also has a major role to play in both El Nino and overall temperature rise. Also, EL Nino, despite its hype, is  only responsible for a tenth of a degree Celsius rise in years when it occurs, which means the additional 1.2C degrees of warming cannot be attributed to the Pacific weather phenomenon.

The heart of the problem is simple thermodynamics. The planet is absorbing more radiation from the Sun than it is putting back out into space, resulting in a slow warming trend. The additional radiation is stored as heat, both in the atmosphere and in the oceans. Part of the reason for this imbalance appears to be rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, which traps heat. The increased heat increases evaporation, and water vapor is an even better store of heat energy, which causes yet more warming.

Scientists are alarmed because it has taken over a century to see the planet warm a full 1 degree Celsius. Now, in the past five months, the planet has warmed another half degree. Will we see 2 degrees before the summer is though? It's an alarming thought.

According to the most pessimistic global warming hypothesis, once the planet sees 2 degrees Celsius of average global warming, the climate trend will be virtually irreversible. The polar ice caps will melt, resulting in sea level rise and destroying cities. Shifts in weather patterns, as well as more extreme weather will destroy food crops and render some regions nearly uninhabitable. Mass extinctions of many species could occur.

These changes will impact humanity by forcing mass human migration, while also disrupting food and water supplies. This means more conflict and chaos overall.

Indeed, we have already seen the beginning of polar ice melts with Arctic ice now the lowest it has ever been recorded for a winter season. Animals, especially in the Arctic, are facing famine as food supplies run low. Polar bears are dying off in large numbers. And people are being impacted too. The warmer temperatures mean less snow and ice, which is hurting people whose lives depend on the snow and ice. As coastal villages thaw, erosion as well as a lack of food available for hunting is creating challenges all around the Arctic.

In the tropics, scientists are alarmed because around the world, they're observing the single greatest coral bleaching event in history.

Despite these well-documented changes, a hardcore of deniers continues to dispute that anything unnatural is happening, insisting that either humans are blameless, or that nothing unusual is happening at all. However, to believe this requires the denial of the nearly unanimous consensus of the scientific community.

Even climate skeptic Roy Spencer characterized the warming as "whopping."

Thousands of climate scientists around the world have no reason to lie about this basic truth: humans are pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere with predictable effect. If we are to survive the future without extreme climate disruption and mass extinctions, we need to curtail emissions. Scientists are not getting rich off these discoveries. However, the fossil fuel lobby, has been implicated in pushing climate change skepticism. The scandal is such that authorities in the U.S. have even discussed bringing suit against prominent deniers, much the same way the government sued those who claimed cigarette smoking wasn't harmful.

While few Americans would support such harsh action against climate deniers, their work is producing a discernible harm, as our nation fails to decisively tackle its own problems with CO2 emissions.

How hot does it have to get for us to see that the scientists are right? How many species need to go extinct before we start to care? How high does sea level need to rise before we act? How bad does global warming have to impact your life before you change your attitude?


Up to 70 Percent of Northeast U.S. Coast May Adapt to Rising Seas

Much of the coast from Maine to Virginia is more likely to change than to simply drown in response to rising seas during the next 70 years or so, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. The study is based on a new computer model that captures the potential of the Northeast coast to change, driven by geological and biological forces, in ways that will reshape coastal landscapes.

In a paper published Monday in Nature Climate Change, the researchers reported that 70 percent of the Northeast Atlantic Coast is made up of ecosystems that have the capacity to change over the next several decades in response to rising seas. For example, barrier islands may migrate inland, build dunes, change shape, or be split by new inlets as tides, winds, waves and currents sculpt their sands. Marshes trap sediment and break down decaying plants into new soil, which may elevate them sufficiently in some areas to keep pace with sea-level increases.

While most sea-level rise models that cover large areas show low-lying coastal land converting to open water in coming decades, many of these inundation models over-predict the land likely to submerge. The USGS model, developed in collaboration with Columbia University’s Earth Institute, produces a more nuanced picture of sea level rise as a mosaic of dry land, wetlands, and open seas, rather than as a uniform response across the landscape.

The USGS model is the first to factor in natural forces and make detailed predictions from the 2020s through the 2080s over a large coastal area, some 38,000 square kilometers (about 9.4 million acres). It is an advance over most regional models, which project drowning as the only outcome as the oceans rise. These are often referred to as “bathtub models” and assume the coast is progressively submerged as sea levels rise.

Projections from inundation models are straightforward: some coastal land will remain above the levels of the rising seas and some will drown. The new model includes the potential for dynamic coastal change and shows where in response to future sea levels, coastal lands fall on a continuum between dry land and open water.

“Geologists have always known that the coast has some potential for give and take,” said lead author Erika Lentz, a research geologist at the USGS Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “But the standard bathtub models of sea level rise don’t reflect that. This approach couples what we do know about these systems with what we still need to learn—how different ecosystems may respond to different sea-level rise scenarios— to estimate the odds that an area will persist or change instead of simply drown.”

By casting results in terms of odds, the new model provides a more accurate picture of sea-level rise vulnerability for informing adaptation strategies and reducing hazards, the USGS researchers say. They make it clear, however, that just because an area is less likely to drown might not mean it is less vulnerable. “Our model results suggest that even natural changes may pose problems,” Lentz said. “For example, the likelihood that barrier islands will change could impact the infrastructure and economies of coastal communities, and the barrier islands or marshes may not protect coastal communities in the same way they do today.”

In fact, the outcome is uncertain for the Northeast’s low-lying developed coastlines, where seawalls, buildings and other immovable structures thwart some natural processes. The model found the region’s developed coastal lands lying 1 meter (about 3 1/2 feet) or less above sea level will likely face a tipping point by the 2030s, when humans’ decisions about whether and how to protect each area will determine if it survives or drowns.

A 2012 USGS study identified the densely populated region from Cape Hatteras to Boston as a hot spot where seas are rising faster than the global average, so land managers urgently need to understand how their coastal landscape may change, said John Haines, coordinator of the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program.

“The model allows us to identify vulnerable areas, and that information can be very valuable to land managers as they consider whether to protect, relocate or let go of certain assets,” Haines said. “Even when the results are uncertain, it’s useful to know there’s a 50 percent chance that an important habitat or infrastructure project may be lost in a few decades.”

To come up with their model for the Northeastern United States, the researchers mapped all coastal land between 10 meters (about 33 feet) above sea level and 10 meters below it, from the Virginia-North Carolina line to the Maine-Canada border. They factored in a variety of forces that affect coastal change, from planetary phenomena like the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates to local ones like falling groundwater levels that cause land surfaces to sink. Looking at parcels of 30 meters by 30 meters—about the size of two NBA basketball courts side by side—they weighed the balance of forces on each parcel.

Using scenarios that assume humans will continue adding moderate to high levels of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere through the 21st century, the team projected global sea level rise for the 2020s through the 2080s, and applied that to the coast. The model then estimated the likelihood, from 0 to 100 percent, that each parcel will persist above sea level at the end of each decade.

Predictions for many parcels fell close to 50 percent in the first few decades, a tossup between drowning and surviving. The uncertainty was greatest when the researchers had to wrestle with more than one question that can’t yet be definitively answered. Among them are, how fast will seas rise, can coastal marshes make new soil quickly enough to stay above the waves, and what engineering strategies will people use to protect some shorelines?

“By building in our understanding of the sea level rise response of the coastal landscape, we’re providing a more realistic picture of coastal change in the Northeastern U.S. over the next several decades,” Lentz said.


Plant carbon dioxide may not make global warming worse, study suggests

Plants may be better at acclimatising to rising temperatures and contribute less to carbon dioxide in a warming world than some have previously thought, a new study suggests.

"Maybe some of our models are over-predicting the degree to which plant respiration will cause accelerating feedback that speeds up climate change," said Professor Peter Reich, an ecologist and plant physiologist from the University of Minnesota who led the study published today in Nature.

Plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and release it when they burn sugar to produce energy in a process known as respiration.

For every 10 degrees Celsius of temperature increase, plants are known to double their rate of metabolism, which has led to fears that global warming will trigger a positive-feedback loop, switching plants from being a net carbon dioxide sink — absorbing more carbon dioxide than they release — to becoming a net source of the warming gas.

According to Dr Reich, however, the jury is still out on how big this problem is.  "The best models on the planet disagree wildly about what will happen in 40 or 50 years, with some saying that the land surfaces will still be a strong sink, but others saying they will become a big source," he said.

Part of the problem is there is a lack of basic science on plant respiration, especially how plants acclimatise to changing environments.

As temperatures increase, the enzymes involved in metabolism work faster so fewer enzymes and resources are needed to obtain the same amount of energy, and less carbon dioxide is produced.

How well this acclimatisation occurs will determine when, and if, plants switch from becoming a net sink to a net source of carbon dioxide.

To find out, the Dr Reich and his colleagues studied 10 North American tree species exposed to temperatures that are 3.4C above normal over several years in the field.

Experiments on North American trees

The researchers kept plots warm using above-ground infrared lamps and wires carrying electricity buried in the soil to simulate normal forest conditions. Temperature sensors connected to a computer controller ensured plot temperatures were kept stable.

In their extensive analysis, which involved supplementary lab experiments, Dr Reich and colleagues compared the respiration rate of trees acclimatised to "warm" plots and controls acclimatised to "ambient temperature" plots.

They found that for the given 3.4C above normal, plants that had experienced the warming treatments increased respiration by only 5 per cent, while the controls increased respiration by a whopping 23 per cent.

Dr Reich said the findings reduce the likelihood that increased respiration in plants in a warming world would make global warming worse. "This turn-around from plants providing net sequestration to becoming a net source of carbon dioxide will take a lot longer, if it happens at all," he said.

Dr Reich said research with colleagues at the Western Sydney University Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, where he is a scientific adviser, has found that Australian eucalypt trees also acclimatise at the same rate as the North American species.

He said the findings should apply to rainforest species, which have the same "machinery" for respiration, however to be sure these species would need to be tested.


Obama administration cancels plan for oil drilling off coast

The Obama administration withdrew its plan Tuesday to permit oil and gas drilling off the southeast Atlantic coast, yielding to an outpouring of opposition from coastal communities from Virginia to Georgia but dashing the hopes and expectations of many of those states’ top leaders.

The announcement by the Interior Department surprised many. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the move was chiefly driven by the widespread concerns of coastal communities, as well as the military’s reservations about permitting drilling near some of its largest installations. The move also comes as oil prices have plunged to near record lows, which could ease some of the political backlash.

“We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast,” Jewell said. “When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years.”

The decision represents a reversal of President Obama’s previous offshore drilling plans and comes as he is trying to build an ambitious environmental legacy. It could also inject the issue into the 2016 presidential campaigns, as Republican candidates vow to expand drilling.

The Obama drilling plan, once completed, would be in place from 2017 to 2022, but a future administration could draft a new plan to allow Atlantic drilling after that.

In January 2015, Obama drew the wrath of environmentalists and high praise from the oil industry and Southeastern governors after the Interior Department put forth a proposal that would have opened much of the southeastern Atlantic coast to offshore drilling for the first time.

The proposal came after governors, state legislators and senators from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia all expressed support for the drilling. Lawmakers in the state capitals saw new drilling as creating jobs and bolstering state revenue.

But the offshore drilling proposal, which was still in draft form and was not to be finalized until later this year, provoked a backlash from coastal communities including Norfolk, Va., which supports the world’s largest naval base; Charleston, S.C.; and tiny tourist towns around Myrtle Beach, S.C., and on the Outer Banks of N.C. More than 100 of those coastal cities and towns signed resolutions asking Obama to shut down plans for new drilling.

In addition, more than 80 East Coast state legislators and the owners of about 1,000 coastal businesses have signed letters to Obama opposing the drilling.

Interior Department officials said Tuesday that the Pentagon had expressed reservations about allowing drilling in the vicinity of the naval base.

The coastal opposition and inland support of the drilling was regional, rather than partisan. In prominent coastal communities such as Charleston, conservative Republicans such as Representative Mark Sanford, a former governor, helped lead the vocal opposition to the drilling. But inland in state capitals, Democrats such as Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia have supported it.

Environmental groups and the oil industry have spent the past several months lobbying in town halls and statehouses throughout the Southeast. Officials from environmental groups such as Oceana also met with top White House energy and environment officials to press their case.

Environmental groups and many coastal residents fear that opening the Atlantic to drilling could lead to a repeat of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 people and sent millions of gallons of oil to the shores of nearby states.

“It’s a great day for the Atlantic coast, our beaches, and the coastal economy that depends on it,” said Rachel Richardson, director for the drilling program at Environment America. “This moment has come because Atlantic coast communities, businesses, and citizens have all spoken up to protect their beaches, treasured marine life, and President Obama listened.”

“If the Atlantic is taken out, that means there’s less of an opportunity to invest in the US, and those dollars will flow overseas, and we’ll hear more and more of that in the presidential election,” said Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association.

In a statement, the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, said: “President Obama is so intent on solidifying his radical climate legacy that he has backed out of his commitment to a large, bipartisan coalition of state leaders. These states simply want to explore their own energy potential, but the president’s reversal has disenfranchised them of this chance. This is a lost opportunity for new jobs and economic growth in these coastal states, not to mention much-needed revenues for the federal Treasury.”

However, administration officials noted that the move to block drilling comes as oil and gasoline prices have plunged to near record lows, and as onshore oil and gas development has rapidly expanded.


Masters of disguise

‘Green’ evangelicals disguise anti-life policies as pro-life, perpetuating suffering and death

By E. Calvin Beisner, Janice Shaw Crouse and Austin Ruse

The evangelical “creation care” movement professes to be pro-life and, for the most part, rightly so. But some creation care advocates give reason to wonder.

Case in point: the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) recently launched a “Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign,” promising to “organize half a million pro-life Christians to participate” in efforts to curb pollution by demanding a switch from fossil fuels to wind and solar. It calls this campaign “pro-life” and says it will “free our children from pollution all across America with 100% clean electricity from renewable resources by 2030.”

Even if it were true that pollution from generating electricity from fossil fuels endangers children—and modern pollution control technologies and actual emission levels make this assertion questionable—the reasoning is ethically fallacious.

The Bible makes a stark and fundamental distinction between intentional and accidental killing. When God instructed Israel to provide “cities of refuge” in the Promised Land, He said:

If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past—as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he may flee to [a city of refuge] and live, lest the avenger of blood … strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past. …

But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. [Deuteronomy 19:4–6, 11–12]

Most legal systems today incorporate this fundamental ethical distinction, as by distinguishing accidental killing from negligent deaths, and intentional but not premeditated from premeditated homicide. They typically inflict no criminal penalty on the first and graduated penalties on the rest.

Some American evangelicals fail to make this distinction today. That failure weakens the pro-life movement and their pro-life arguments.

Like most ethics professors, when Dr. Beisner taught ethics in seminary, he made sure his students understood that proper ethical judgment considers carefully both the intent and the outcome of our acts. EEN’s campaign ignores that distinction and twists the facts about the outcomes.

The campaign morally equates fossil fuel electricity generation with abortion. However, the ethical differences between abortion and pollution are glaring.

First, the intent differs. In abortion, the intent is to kill a baby. In energy production, the intent is to provide energy that people need to sustain life and health. Any pollution that is a byproduct of energy production is an unintended risk—like the risk of an axe head flying off while cutting wood.

Second, the factual outcomes differ. In abortion, the outcome of every “successful abortion” is a dead baby. In energy production, the outcome of the energy produced is enhanced human health, living standards, and life spans. The effect of any pollution byproducts may be a slight reduction in some people’s health—but certainly not enough to outweigh the intended beneficial outcome. By contrast, the result of denying people access to affordable electricity is often to reduce their living standards, health, and life spans.

The term “pro-life” was coined in the 1970s to designate those who sought to restrict abortion. That has been its primary meaning ever since. To apply it to efforts to reduce the relatively small risks from pollution from electricity energy generation in the United States is to cheapen the term.

Moreover, EEN’s campaign does more than cheapen the term. Expanding on efforts that it began four years ago with its “Mercury and the Unborn” campaign, EEN’s current campaign continues the organization’s practice of disseminating erroneous information about pollution.

EEN’s previous campaign claimed that mercury from power plant emissions put 1 in 6 American infants at risk of “devastating … permanent brain damage.” In reality, the number exposed to enough mercury to have detectable effects was closer to 1 in 1,000; the risk was a delay in neurological development so slight as to be detectable only by trained specialists; and even that risk disappears in most children by age seven. In no case does it exceed about a half-point reduction in IQ, a difference common in identical twins raised in the same household. Further, less than 5% of mercury in US air comes from power plants.

Ironically, implementing EEN’s demand for “100% clean electricity from renewable resources by 2030” would likely impair human health or even kill more people than the pollution it prevented. By raising the cost of electricity, the mercury regulations alone are calculated to cost about 2,500 to 4,250 deaths per year. Getting 100% of our electricity from “renewable sources” (basically wind and solar) would cost multiples more. (The US Supreme Court ultimately struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury regulation, for these and other reasons, but EPA had already implemented it.)

Nonetheless, by morally equating the risks from power plant emissions with abortion, EEN justified applauding members of Congress who supported EPA’s proposed mercury regulation as “sensitive to pro-life concerns”—and chastening members who opposed it as not “sensitive to pro-life concerns.”

Whom did EEN applaud? Among the 13 members named, Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin (both D-MI) both had 100% pro-abortion voting records  in the 110th Congress (2007–2008), and Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (both R-ME) and David Pryor (D-AR) all had 78% pro-abortion voting records. Only two of the 13, Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) and Cong. Bob Latta (R-OH), had 100% pro-life voting records.

By broadening the definition of “pro-life” as it does, EEN obscures its meaning. By describing people with 100% pro-abortion voting records as “pro-life” solely because of their environmental views, EEN divides the pro-life movement, extols suspect health claims, and ignores the benefits of fossil fuels.

As a result, EEN makes it more difficult to identify and elect truly pro-life people to office, and thereby postpones or prevents victory in the long struggle to end the intentional slaughter of hundreds of thousands of babies every year in the United States (over 52 million since the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973).

Further, by presenting its environmental concerns as “pro-life,” EEN draws activists away from truly pro-life work into environmental causes tightly tied to the population control movement, which promotes abortion all around the world. It also delays bringing reliable, affordable electricity to billions who do not yet enjoy its wondrous benefits, and thus prolongs their poverty, disease, and premature deaths. These consequences are now so obvious and undeniable that promoting anti-fossil fuel policies in poor nations amounts to reckless disregard for human suffering and death—hardly a pro-life position.

Four years ago, more than 30 pro-life leaders signed a statement repudiating EEN’s deceptive mercury campaign. Now concerned citizens can join many more in signing a new statement condemning EEN’s deceptive “Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign” for the same reasons.

By all means, let us be good stewards of God’s creation. Let us seek ways to reduce risks posed by pollution, while still providing the abundant, affordable, dependable energy that is indispensable to lifting entire societies out of abject poverty and enabling them to enjoy the health and living standards we do.

And in seeking to reduce relatively small and unintentional risks, let us not undermine the efforts of truly pro-life people to end the killing of millions of babies here and abroad every year.

Via email

Another Climate Scientist Indicted for Financial Fraud

Here we go again. Daniel Alongi, a researcher/racketeer with the Australian Institute of Marine Science — though he’s no longer listed on its website — is facing trial for using a scheme to erroneously pocket half a million dollars in taxpayer money that was supposedly being used on climate change research. According to The Heartland Institute, “Alongi has been indicted by the Australian government on charges of defrauding taxpayers out of $556,000 in false expenses since 2008. Alongi has already admitted to creating false invoices, credit card statements, and e-mails to cover his misappropriation of funds.” As you might expect, “Alongi’s indictment raises serious questions concerning the credibility of his research,” Heartland adds. Meteorologist Anthony Watts says, “If Alongi falsely claimed to have spent half a million dollars on radioisotope testing, it would look pretty strange if he didn’t produce any false test results, to justify the expenditure of all that money.”

Any of this sound familiar? It should. Last October, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology chairman Lamar Smith opened a probe into Institute of Global Environment and Society president Jagadish Shukla. Mr. Shukla, you may remember, implored the White House to prosecute climate dissenters. Not only was it an attack on free speech, it also violated laws on government-funded institutions. As Rep. Smith pointed out, “IGES appears to be almost fully funded by taxpayer money while simultaneously participating in partisan political activity by requesting a [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] investigation of companies and organizations that disagree with the Obama Administration on climate change. In fact, IGES has reportedly received $63 million from taxpayers since 2001, comprising over 98% of its total revenue during that time.” The climate lobby is all about taking care of the earth — after they’ve taken care of their wallets.



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 March, 2016

A libertarian Warmist?

Isn't he pretty?

It seems that Jerry Taylor is one.  He must be the only libertarian advocating a new tax.  He advocates a carbon tax in exchange for wiping all other State and Federal Warmist regulations.  And he states clearly that he believes in urgent action to limit CO2.  He is a Warmist.

When he was at Cato he was a climate skeptic.  He once compared Warmists to Maoists. Now he calls skeptics "denialists". So how come the big change?  He set up his own thinktank in 2014 called the Niskanen center.  It's stated objectives give the game away.  An excerpt:

Established in 2014, the Niskanen Center is a libertarian 501(c)(3) think tank that works to change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process: developing and promoting proposals to legislative and executive branch policymakers, building coalitions to facilitate joint action, and marshaling the most convincing arguments in support of our agenda.  The Center’s main audience is the Washington insiders – policy-oriented legislators, presidential appointees, career civil servants in planning, evaluation and budget offices, congressional committee staff, engaged academics, and interest group analysts – who together decide the pace and direction of policy change

He is getting on in years and he wants to be an insider.  Warmists are in power so he wants to be in there.  The sniff of power is what he wants.  He wants to feel significant before he dies.  He wants to feel important.  Ego has got the better of him.

His proposal to wipe all other Warmist regulations in exchange for a carbon tax  sounds like something that could be attractive to the Left and there may even be some sense in it but since we know what he really thinks it would seem that he has sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver.

There's some background on Taylor here and an interview with him here

New EPA Methane Regs All for Nothing. Literally

You can’t make this stuff up. Last week the federal government removed all exemptions related to its regulation of methane emissions for no other reason than sheer incompetence. For starters, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expanding its crackdown on methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling to all existing wells,” writes the Houston Chronicle’s Fuelfix blog. “The announcement from the White House Thursday came as part of a joint agreement with Canada on climate change, curbing methane emissions from North America and taking steps to protect the Arctic region from rising temperatures and oceans.”

Just one problem. The EPA evidently either forgot to ask for or simply ignored the counsel of government scientists. How’s this for ironic timing? “Just one day after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it will regulate methane emissions from existing sources of oil and natural gas in order to ‘combat climate change,’ scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have released a new study finding that oil and natural gas producers are not to blame for a global increase in methane emissions,” Energy In Depth reports. “In fact, according to the researchers, the increased emissions are instead coming from wetlands and agriculture.”

And what was the point of tightening methane regulations anyway? As Hot Air points out, “The energy industry didn’t need anyone to tell them to reduce methane leakage at drill sites. Why? Because it’s a primary component of natural gas. In case that’s not sinking in yet… it’s the stuff they are drilling for. When they let it slip out into the atmosphere that’s literally money going up in smoke.” Unlike Socialism, industries competing in a capitalist system can’t survive without making every dollar count (i.e., conservation). That sound you hear? It’s the collective groan of the estimated 30,000 polar bears currently living in the Arctic. Wait, didn’t the climate lobby also predict they’d go extinct? Was that before or after the ice age scare? Science — it’s so confusing. Maybe, just maybe, the government should stop forcing ill-advised rules on us, particularly when the feds can’t even agree on the science.


The Left Is Embracing Orwellian Policies to Go After ‘Climate Deniers’

Just when we thought liberalism can’t get any more authoritarian, the Obama administration reminds us that it can.

    Yes, that’s right. If you happen to disagree with the administration’s views of global warming, you could face a civil suit accusing you of fraud and corruption.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently confirmed that she had “referred” the “matter” of whether climate change “deniers” should be brought to court on racketeering charges to the FBI.

Yes, that’s right. If you happen to disagree with the administration’s views of global warming, you could face a civil suit accusing you of fraud and corruption.

This represents a breathtaking corruption of the law. Laws designed to catch mafia figures on corruption charges could be twisted to punish Americans whose only crime is to contest the Obama administration’s view of climate change.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who asked Lynch about climate change at last week’s hearing, has been at this game for some time. He has long accused the fossil fuel industry of falsifying scientific research. He wants to target oil companies with Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, or RICO, laws, in the same way they were used against the tobacco industry.

Where to begin? First of all, it was a travesty to apply RICO laws to the tobacco industry. They were designed to catch murdering mafia bosses, not scientists or private companies engaged in research.

Even so, there is a huge difference between the health impacts of smoking and climate change.

The former is well documented, while the latter is not even remotely established as a scientific fact. What is more, where do Whitehouse and the others get off assuming that funding influences only one side of the argument? They argue that scientists supported by oil companies are corrupt, but why is a pro-global warming scientist receiving funds from a pro-global warming organization any less corrupt? The climate change world is awash in millions of dollars of politically motivated research in favor of global warming. What is the difference?

Might the answer be that Whitehouse prefers funding only for his side of the argument?

Whitehouse is not alone in waging an official crusade against so-called climate change “deniers.” Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., a ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, once demanded information on the financial records of certain professors who were skeptical of climate change orthodoxy.

Let’s pause a moment to reflect on what this means. A government official demands the private records of an American citizen solely on the basis of where that person stands on a political issue. The professor has committed no crime, but merely holds a scientific view opposed, for political reasons, by a congressman.

So who is manipulating science here? A scientist who has the credentials to draw a scientific conclusion, or a congressman with no scientific credentials at all questioning the integrity of a scientist?

And then there are the actions of the attorney general’s office in New York. It has launched a sweeping probe of ExxonMobil to determine whether ExxonMobil hid risks of climate change from investors. Using a broad interpretation of the state’s consumer protection and securities laws, the attorney general is also investigating a leading coal company, Peabody Energy, for the same reason.

All of this is truly Orwellian. As I explain in my forthcoming book, “The Closing of the Liberal Mind”:

    "The intent could not be clearer: the state should suppress any questions about the reliability of climate change findings or data. In other words, a court should be invited to silence one side of a public policy debate".

This is official harassment, pure and simple. It is intended to stifle free and open debate and inquiry.

Thus do threats by federal officials, congressmen, and state prosecutors to silence people join campus radicals in the closing of the liberal mind. It’s a sad day not only for freedom of thought and expression, but for the rule of law.


Clinton Admits Her Energy Plan Will Destroy Jobs

Hillary Clinton is now on record admitting her “green” energy policies will “put a lot of coal miners” out of their jobs. The politician who benefits from playing divisive politics went too far: she told the truth. What a gaffe!

“I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country,” Clinton said. “Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

But never fear, coal-stained workers in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky (all contested states in the coming general election). While Clinton wants to destroy your jobs, she might offer you new ones in the heavily subsidized fields of green energy. We’re sure your skills of working decades underground translate well into working on a solar panel field or wind farm. Remember: Clinton cares.

“Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health [and] often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories,” Clinton continued. “Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.”

Who does the Democrat Party serve? Not the blue-collar workers that used to be the backbone of the party. Under Barack Obama, the government waged a war on coal, and Clinton vows to continue to pick the winners and losers of the nation’s energy economy, courting the ecofascist vote. Clinton betrays a disregard for how her environmental policies harm ordinary Americans.



Three current reports  below

Droughts and flooding rains: it takes three oceans to explain Australia’s wild 21st-century weather

It's not global warming after all!  Tim Flannery will be surprised.  He and many others have long attributed any adverse weather event in Australia to global warming

Australia is a land of extremes, and famously of “droughts and flooding rains”. That’s been truer than ever in the 21st century; since 1999 the country has see-sawed from drought to deluge with surprising speed.

There was the millennium drought, which lasted more than a decade and culminated in disasters such as Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. Then, in 2011, Cyclone Yasi struck Queensland and a large swathe of Australia exploded under a green carpet of grasses, shrubs and trees.

Filming of the movie Mad Max: Fury Road was moved from outback Australia to Namibia after the big wet of 2010-11, because Australia’s luxurious growth of wildflowers and metre-high grasses didn’t quite match the post-apocalyptic landscape the movie’s producers had in mind. In Alice Springs, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta was almost cancelled in 2011 because there was water in the normally dry river.

Globally, the big wet on land caused a 5 mm drop in sea levels as large amounts of rain were deposited on Australia, South America and Africa. This coincided with an unprecedented increase in carbon stored in vegetation, especially in arid and semi-arid regions of the southern hemisphere. The greening of Australia in particular had a globally significant impact.

Meteorologists have struggled to explain these wild variations in Australia’s weather. Dry years with disappointing crops have been linked to the Pacific Ocean’s El Niño phase (part of a cycle called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)). But despite its huge influence, not even ENSO can fully account for Australia’s extreme rainfall patterns.

Our research, published this week in Nature’s Scientific Reports, offers an explanation. We found that conditions in the three oceans that surround Australia – the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans – combine to amplify each other’s influences on Australian weather.

Extraordinarily wet and dry years occur when the ENSO phase is in sync with two other cycles, called the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM).

The three have been synchronised since 1999, which explains why things have been so volatile this century.
Weather engines

ENSO is the biggest driver of global climate and associated rainfall patterns – unsurprisingly, given that the Pacific is the world’s biggest ocean. The IOD is generated by a gradient in sea-surface temperatures along the equator in the Indian Ocean, while the SAM represents a north-south oscillation in Southern Ocean sea-surface temperatures.

By comparing sea-surface temperatures in the three oceans with rainfall data and satellite images of vegetation growth, we have shown for the first time that abnormally large fluctuations in rainfall across Australia are due to the synchronisation of these three ocean cycles.

For instance, both La Niña and negative IOD bring rain to Australia. When they co-occur, one amplifies the other. This is reinforced still further by a negative SAM, which helps to create the Continental Low, which can interact with the monsoon depression over a large area of the continental interior.

When all of this happens together, it results in extraordinarily heavy rainfall over large parts of Australia, transforming deserts into vast oases teeming with life.
Withstanding the switch

When the rain arrived in 2010, it was abrupt – coming straight after one of the driest years this century. In 2009, only 139 mm fell at the Bureau of Meteorology’s Territory Grape Farm station. The heart of the monsoon depression had been pushed north of Darwin, high pressure blocked rain from central and western Australia, and green plant growth was restricted to a small strip of land from Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory, into Queensland.

Green plant growth across Australia, compiled via satellite observations. Nature Scientific Reports, CC BY

Too much or too little rain can each be problematic. When both happen in quick succession, it is hard to profit fully from the wet or to remain solvent through the dry. In natural ecosystems, bushfires become more likely as the plants swing between exceptional growth and subsequent drying and death, leaving behind huge amounts of fuel. Farmers may need to diversify their livestock numbers and crop types to provide extra resilience to the changing conditions.

Understanding how Australia responds to these extremes offers a barometer for emergency services, farmers and everyone else on the land who will need to adapt to Australia’s lean times as well as the times of plenty.


NSW government's crackdown on Coal Seam Gas opponents brings out protesters

NSW imports most of its domestic gas for heating and cooking because mining opponents obstruct it from mining its own gas

More than 60 per cent of NSW voters oppose the Baird government's plans to crack down on anti-mining protests, according to an exclusive state-wide poll.

The news comes as about 1000 environmentalists, unions, civil libertarians and the Reverend Fred Nile shut down traffic on Macquarie Street as parliament prepared to vote on the controversial bill on Tuesday.

A NSW government source said it was possible the bill would be passed into law by the state's upper house on Tuesday night. Its passage appears guaranteed with the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party.

But a new poll shows less than 20 per cent of all voters support the measures, while 60 per cent are opposed.

In a troubling sign for the coalition government, more than half of those who declared support for its parties also said they opposed the measures.

"These measures may pass but they will have no social licence," said Greens MLC David Shoebridge. "We will break these laws on the street".

Two lanes and later all traffic on Macquarie Street near the NSW parliament was shut down by the protests despite heavy rain.

Bogaine Spearim, a Gamilaraay man and activist, said: "This proposal is going to deny [our] people access to our sacred land.  "[But] we can't think about the risk of getting arrested. We have to think about the risk of a generation that doesn't have access."

Both the NSW Bar Association and the Law Society have also issued statements condemning the plans to increase ten-fold some fines levied upon anti-mining protesters.

Police would also be given greater powers to search protesters without a warrant and to "move them on".

The law society said the changes did not "appear to be either necessary or proportionate" as police in NSW already had extensive powers to search and detain people.

The bill would also broaden the scope of existing anti-mining-protest laws to expose a wave of coal seam gas protesters  - such as those who chain themselves to machinery - to up to seven years' jail.

"We can't afford a $5000 fine on our pensions," said Anne Thompson, a farmer from Eltham in northern NSW and one of the founders of the Knitting Nannas anti-mining movement. "We're already making jailbird outfits".

The Nannas have been cited by green groups as examples of the kinds of non-violent protesters who may fall foul of the legislation.

But the NSW government argues the laws will simply update existing laws, which have already criminalised the offence of hindering activity on mining, to cover coal-seam gas mining.

The government notes that protests have led to more than 800 interruptions for the operations of one miner, Santos, on its Narrabri site since 2013.

The telephone poll of about 1200 NSW voters was conducted by Reachtel on March 14. The poll was commissioned by the NSW Conservation Council.

A concomitant plan by the state government to reduce drastically fines levied upon mining companies, in some instances from a maximum of $1 million to $5000, is even more unpopular. 80 per cent of voters oppose the move including those who identify as supporters of the coalition parties.

"Mr Baird's decision to push these laws through parliament without community consultation reinforces the perception that he is doing the bidding of coal and gas companies," said the CEO of the conservation council, Kate Smolski. "We would have lost many our most cherished natural areas to mining and logging if Mr Baird's anti-protest laws were in place during key environmental battles in NSW's history".

The NSW Unions movement, which is considering a High Court challenge to the laws also joined the protest.  NSW Labor frontbencher Adam Searle declared the laws "unnecessary".


Opposition in NSW to ethanol mandate legislation

The legislation is just Greenie nonsense

Liberal MLC Peter Phelps "went berserk" during a partyroom meeting and vowed to not support legislation to force small petrol retailers to sell an ethanol blend.  Opponents of the legislation say it will drive up petrol prices by as much as 8¢ a litre.

Mr Phelps - a self-styled libertarian - upbraided the minister with carriage of the legislation, Victor Dominello, during the meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Phelps told the minister it was "illiberal" to force companies to sell a product that "people don't want", according to the source.

He detailed Mr Dominello's publicly available diary summaries, which show he has met with ethanol producer Manildra five times as Minister for Better Regulation.

The NSW Greens have previously pointed out that Australia's largest ethanol producer, Manildra, has donated $4.3 million to the Liberals, Nationals and Labor since 1998.

Mr Phelps then told the partyroom he would not be supporting the legislation when it came into the upper house. He has been approached for comment.

In NSW, the law says major retailers must try to ensure ethanol accounts for 6 per cent of all petrol sold, via the E10 blend. Retailers with fewer than 20 sites are exempt.

But ethanol accounts for only about 2.7 per cent of all petrol sold in NSW.

The government's legislation is expected to force smaller retailers which sell three or more types of automotive fuel to sell E10 for the first time to reach the 6 per cent mandate, with some exemptions.

Small retailers warn they will be forced to increase the price over three years to recoup the cost of upgrades if their current exemption from having to sell ethanol-blended fuel is scrapped without compensation of up to $326 million.

They say this could drive up the price of petrol by as much as 8¢ a litre.

But Mr Dominello has said the changes are aimed at "creating a competitive biofuels industry in which E10 is a cheap and attractive option for motorists, while maintaining choice among other regular and premium unleaded fuels".



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


16 March, 2016

Cherrypicking is bad  -- except when I do it

That seems to be the Warmist idea.  The amusing Phil Plait has praised to the skies a long article by Tamino, an inveterate Warmist, which sets out incontrovertible evidence that global warming is real.  So I had a look at that article.  Tamino says:

"The satellite data for temperature in the troposphere is what senator Ted Cruz likes to use when he claims global warming isn’t happening. But he doesn’t show all of it — just the part after 1997. That way, he can start his graphs with that big fluctuation in 1997-1998, so that fluctuation will look like it’s part of the trend. It isn’t. But Ted Cruz wants you to think it is, so he won’t show you what happened before that — proper context would reveal how shallow his argument is."

So it's bad to choose  your starting points for a graph.  But Tamino himself does exactly that. His first graph starts from 1880 and his next one starts in 1970.  And so it goes.   He has many graphs and many different starting points for them.  They start wherever he needs them to start to make his case.  I won't reproduce anything further from his article but you can log on and see for yourself. 

Tamino is very good at lying with statistics.  It would be amusing to see him start all his graphs from 1880.  In fact, if you look at his graph that does start from 1880, you can clearly see that warming levelled out from around the year 2000.  There was a rise last year but that was  due to the El Nino weather cycle. So there was some slight warming in C20 but none in the present century.  Will it resume?  Nobody knows.

Global warming levels masked by aerosols: study

This is just a whole heap of modelling, guesswork in other words

There was a silver lining to the sulfur pollution in our atmosphere late last century – it offset some of the warming effects of greenhouse gases. And now we're cleaning up our act, the Arctic has suffered. Amy Middleton reports.

High levels of aerosols, spewed from coal- and gas-powered power plants, cooled our atmosphere, masking up to a third of global warming caused by greenhouse gases last century.

And when Europe cleaned up its sulfur emissions, it inadvertantly gave Arctic warming a boost.

A study led by geoscientist Trude Storelvmo at Yale University and published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience bypassed climate modelling and instead observed temperature, greenhouse gas levels and surface radiation from 1,300 surface sites from across the globe from 1964 and 2010.

For the first 30 years or so, less sunlight reflected from Earth back into space, a phenomenon known as “global dimming”.

Sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere pointed the finger at human involvement. When coal is burnt, for instance, sulfur dioxide (SO2) molecules released into the atmosphere form tiny aerosol particles. These particles are particularly effective at bouncing sunlight back into space.

But around the turn of the century, this global dimming eased, gearing instead towards “global brightening”. Today, European sulfur emissions are less than a quarter of their peak in the 1970s, writes Thorsten Mauritsen, a climate scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, in an accompanying News and Views article.

The researchers then analysed changing temperatures in relation to levels of solar radiation and greenhouse gas concentrations.

The findings suggest “about one-third of potential continental warming attributable to increased greenhouse gas concentrations has been masked by aerosol cooling during this time period”.

A second study in Nature Geoscience looked at the effects of European air pollution on Arctic warming.

Researchers at Stockholm University used regional models of aerosol levels to highlight a reduction in Europe’s air pollution since 1980, and SO2 in particular. But the Arctic warmed faster during this period.

“Our study shows that the SO2 emission reductions in Europe since the 1980s have contributed significantly to the enhanced Arctic warming,” the paper reads.

The paper suggests that, in light of ever-fewer aerosols, “the recent trend of amplified Arctic warming will be further strengthened”. The focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is more important than ever.


Progressives Admit Global Warming Alarmism Is Fading

TV news cares less about global warming than ever before.

Despite all the hype around the United Nations conference in Paris last December, TV news airtime devoted to global warming by major news networks fell by 5 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to research published Monday by liberal outlet Media Matters.

The research found that ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox collectively aired approximately 146 minutes of global warming coverage on their evening and Sunday news shows in 2015, which was eight minutes less than the networks aired in 2014.

The network with the most significant decline in coverage was ABC, which devoted a mere 13 minutes to discussing global warming in 2015. This is a 59 percent decline from 2014 and far less coverage than any other network provided in 2015. Global warming coverage from CBS dropped from 56 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, the only channel which substantially increased coverage of global warming was Fox, which is mostly skeptical of the issue.

The majority of global warming coverage that did occur was about the Paris conference, the Pope’s actions or the Keystone XL oil pipeline — all of which will likely not be significant issues going forward. Even the potential investigation of Exxon for its skeptical stance on global warming couldn’t make headlines.

Of particular concern to Media Matters are arguments that global warming is causing terrorism haven’t been picked up by mainstream TV networks or other media outlets. Even Vermont Sen. and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders blaming the rise of ISIS on global warming failed to generate coverage and was even labelled “mostly false” by the liberal fact-checking site PolitiFact.

Other progressive and green outlets, such as Climate Home, are openly worrying that other issues have “knocked global warming off the front pages”or that “[c]limate change has dropped off the political radar.” The effect isn’t limited to media either. Yale University’s Climate and Energy Institute is shutting down. Even the internet isn’t a safe-haven for alarmists, with websites such as starting to go offline.

Green stalwarts, like former Vice President Al Gore, have sold off media assets because the public simply isn’t interested in global warming anymore.


Cancer Rates Spiked After Fukushima. But Don’t Blame Radiation

Bjorn Lomborg

Some people actually might have had to worry about radioactive iodine being sucked up into their thyroids: the families (especially kids) living near the Fukushima Daiichi plant. And indeed, kids in the region were screened for thyroid cancer in the years following the disaster. A piece in Science last week walks through the history of this screening, and the lessons it offers are instructive—for any human being who ever requires medical care.

On its face, as Dennis Normile describes, the initial finding from screenings in Japan was super alarming. Almost half (half!) of those screened had nodules or cysts (which can potentially be or become cancerous) on their thyroids.

Nuts, right? And a Japanese epidemiologist named Toshihide Tsuda published a paper in 2015 saying that the rate of thyroid cancer in those Fukushima kids was more than 600 per million—way higher than the 1 to 3 cases per million kids that you would expect. But! As Normile writes, that comparison wasn’t quite fair. The Fukushima survey used advanced ultrasound devices that can detect tiny growths, while the older data came from plain old clinical exams. Oops. You have an apples to oranges thing going on there, in terms of your diagnostic instruments.

Indeed, when other scientists screened kids elsewhere in Japan using the fancy ultrasound devices, rates of cancer were anywhere from 300 to 1,300 per million. What the ultrasound devices find, then, is a whole lot of turtles.

Turtles are part of what H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, calls the barnyard pen of cancers. The barnyard has three animals, turtles, birds, and rabbits. “The goal of early detection is to fence them in,” he says.

You can’t fence in the birds. They’re the super aggressive lethal cancers that are beyond cure. The rabbits, you can maybe do something about if you can spot them and treat them. (Treatments that, by the way says Welch, have gotten better and better.) “But for the turtles,” he says, “you don’t need fences because they’re not going anywhere anyway. And the thyroid is full of turtles.”

The breast and the prostate are full of turtles too, and just as the thyroid-scanning ultrasound devices are more likely to find little nodules there, an upsurge in mammography has led to a corresponding upsurge in something called ductal carcinoma in situ. Basically cancers that most of the time would just sit around and do nothing if you left well enough alone. In other words, they’re indolent (great word), not malignant. Whether or not we treat them (or even look for them) has been a matter of great debate in recent years.

It’s very hard to know when upticks and outbreaks are quite what they appear. Even infectious disease outbreaks can sometimes be attributed to more-sensitive screening methods. The rise in whooping cough cases has multiple causes of course, but one of them is improved screening methods. Gene-based tests called PCR assays can inflate the number of actual diagnoses, according to a piece by epidemiologist James Cherry in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Which is to say, if you start looking for something carefully, and if you use better methods to see what you’re looking for, you will often find it.

Welch points to an example from the ’70s, when some employees at Lawrence Livermore National Labs (who deal with nuclear stuff all day long) were diagnosed with melanoma. Cancer cluster! But no—it was something else.

What happened, Welch writes in his book Should I Be Tested for Cancer, is that one person probably got sick. Then, other people in the lab started getting checked for moles. Some were funky, so that leads to biopsies, which leads to, in some cases, an actual diagnosis. Then people start really getting worried. The lab kicks off an awareness campaign, so more people go in for checks, leading to more biopsies. “The whole epidemic looked subsequently like it was a pseudoepidemic,” he says. “It was an epidemic of diagnosis.” The melanomas were mostly turtles.

In South Korea, checking more thoroughly has absolutely led to more diagnoses of thyroid cancer. In the late ‘90s, doctors in South Korea started screening people for thyroid cancer (it was an add-on test to the national cancer screening program), and cancer cases took off. “There was a 15-fold increase,” says Welch. “There was nothing like it in the world!” Now, he says, thyroid cancer is the most common cancer in Korea—more common than breast, and colon, and lung.

Here’s the really pernicious part. People get checked for thyroid cancer, doctor finds a little nodule, does a biopsy, there’s some cancery stuff in there, so they remove the thyroid, and the person—saints be praised!—the person lives. (Because of course they lived, they just had a little thing that would never have been a problem in the first place.) They live (without their thyroid) and now they are a survivor and the survival rates for thyroid cancer in South Korea are now really high. Great, right? No. “Once you understand the problem of turtles, you understand you’re giving credit to finding the cancers that don’t matter,” says Welch.

How did South Korea combat this surge in cancer cases? A group of doctors (including Welch) wrote a letter in 2014 discouraging screening with ultrasonography. Poof. Thyroid operations dropped by 35 percent in a year. Because the best test “isn’t one that finds the most cancer,” he says. “The best test is one that finds the cancers that matter.”

So, will the kids who lived near the Fukishima plant suffer more thyroid cancer than their peers elsewhere? Well, yes. Probably. They are going to be screened more than most other kids, after all, and those screenings will turn up more thyroid cancer, just by virtue of the fact that people are looking for it. And even though a paper in the Journal of the American College of Radiology recently suggested that thyroid nodules below a certain size should be left alone, clinicians might not pay attention. Yes, it would be comforting to think that doctors and patients could resist the temptation to look for problems … or in some cases (when the data supports it) to ignore or merely watch what they find.


Energy Wasted on “Efficient” Energy

A trade association calling itself Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) has petitioned the courts to side with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed restrictions on carbon dioxide. The agency’s edict, a feature of its “Clean Power Plan,” would favor “low-emission, energy-efficient” companies at the expense of traditional energy producers—benefitting the former by up to an estimated $20 billion per year through 2030. The trade group’s efforts are both harmful to the economy (especially to energy innovation) and morally outrageous, according to Strata Research Associate Michael Jensen and Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II.

“This politically bestowed windfall comes as coal and even some natural gas electricity producers get booted to the sidelines by the visible foot of government rather than by the invisible hand of the market,” Jensen and Shughart write.

The basic unfairness of AEE’s efforts, Jensen and Shughart argue, is akin to salad vendors lobbying city officials to ban hot dog sales on city sidewalks. You might agree that people should eat more salads and fewer hot dogs, but you would likely recognize that banning hot dogs would have numerous undesirable consequences—including constituting an assault on the principle of individual choice. As for favoring green energy at the expense of fossil fuels, Jensen and Shughart write: “Unfettered competition, not heavy-handed government intervention, is what will best address our energy needs and climate change concerns.”


California Democrats Brutalize Their Own Over Global Warming
A man dressed as a polar bear stands ot the front of thousands of protesters at the "Walk Against Warming" march through the streets of central Sydney December 12, 2009. Thousands took to the streets of Australia  

California Democrats have launched a campaign to dislodge an incumbent state lawmaker who refused to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to cut oil use in half by 2030.

Cheryl Brown, a democratic state lawmaker from San Bernardino, fought Brown’s global warming plan to sharply increase taxes on gasoline. California’s EPA claimed that the tax increase would reduce gasoline use and help fight global warming. Brown argued that the governor’s agenda would cause harm to low income families by increasing energy costs. She ultimately succeeded in watering down the legislation.

“That’s fine if you live in San Francisco and can afford a Tesla,” John Husing, an assemblywoman Brown supporter and economist, told The Los Angeles Times. “It’s not fine if you’re a poor family living in downtown San Bernardino.”

Brown’s events have been disrupted by protesters wearing polar bear costumes who held up signs reading “People over Profits” and calling her a “corporate hack.”  She has even been attacked for her links to the oil industry by an online campaign.

The assemblywoman is now facing a brutal reelection slug-fest from a progressive challenger, attorney Eloise Reyes. Reyes has been endorsed by key members of California’s Democratic establishment. Labor unions that previously endorsed Brown have seemingly switched their allegiance and renounced the lawmaker’s policy stances.

Reyes has capitalized on this by making global warming and environmentalism  a centerpiece of her campaign, even though polls show that voters in the district don’t care much about those issues.

“There is a difference between Cheryl Brown and myself, and the future I see for my district,” Reyes told The Los Angeles Times. “I want a safer environment, I want a cleaner environment, I want protections for our workers.”

The California Democratic establishment takes global warming extremely seriously. Last July, Gov. Jerry Brown has even claimed that global warming could cause humanity to go extinct.



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 March, 2016

February spike in global temperatures stuns scientists

Rubbish.  The recent temperature rise was a long expected effect of the cyclical El Nino weather process. 

Global temperatures leapt in February, lifting warming from pre-industrial levels to beyond 1.5 degrees, and stoking concerns about a "climate emergency".

According to NASA analysis, average temperatures last month were 1.35 degrees above the norm for the 1951-1980 period.

They smashed the previous biggest departure from the average - set only in the previous month - by 0.21 degrees.

"This is really quite stunning ... it's completely unprecedented," said Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany's Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and a visiting professorial fellow at the University of NSW, noting the NASA data as reported by the Wunderground blog.

The blog's authors, Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, described February's spike as "a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases".

The monster El Nino event had contributed to the current record run of global temperatures by increasing the area of abnormally warm water in the central and eastern Pacific.

Compared with the rival record giant El Nino of 1997-98, global temperatures are running about 0.5 degrees hotter.

"That shows how much much global warming we have had since then," Professor Rahmstorf said. [Rubbish.  There is no proof of that.  It is easily attributable to natural variation. Records of El Nino processes are quite recent]

The first half of March is at least as warm, he added, and it means temperatures "are clearly more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels".

"We are in a kind of climate emergency now," Professor Rahmstorf said, noting that global carbon dioxide levels last year rose by a record rate of more than 3 parts per million. [More nonsense.   Mauna Loa shows monthly CO2 levels in 2015 just oscillated up and down around the 400 mark with no overall trend.  See here]

The most northerly latitudes of the planet were the most abnormally hot regions in February, with large areas reporting temperatures 12 degrees or warmer than average, the NASA data shows.

The unusual heat in the far north means the Arctic sea ice will be thinner and more vulnerable to melting as the region heads into the warmer months, Professor Rahmstorf said.

Arctic sea ice is already at its smallest extent for this time of year on record. The relatively warm seas are contributing to a warmer atmosphere, reinforcing the long-term trend.

As the Wunderground blog noted, the impacts of the unusual global heat have been felt far and wide, including in severe droughts in Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Fiji, meanwhile, continues work to recover from Cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm recorded in the southern hemisphere.

"[This warming] is not harmless," Professor Rahmstorf said. "It has quite a negative impact on society and the biosphere."

While February's global heat spike is unlikely to be sustained as the El Nino winds down, the latest indicators "are all symptoms of the general warming trend", Professor Rahmstorf said.


Climate Change Deniers, Loretta Lynch, and the Government War on Free Speech

Ron Paul comments:

During her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitted that she asked the FBI to examine whether the federal government should take legal action against so-called climate change deniers. Attorney General Lynch is not responding to any criminal acts committed by climate change skeptics. Instead, she is responding to requests from those frustrated that dissenters from the alleged climate change consensuses have successfully blocked attempts to create new government programs to fight climate change.

These climate change censors claim that the argument over climate change is settled and the deniers' success in blocking congressional action is harming the public. Therefore, the government must disregard the First Amendment and silence anyone who dares question the reigning climate change dogma. This argument ignores the many reputable scientists who have questioned the magnitude, effects, and role of human action in causing climate change.

If successful, the climate change censors could set a precedent that could silence numerous other views. For example, many people believe the argument over whether we should audit, and then end, the Federal Reserve is settled. Therefore, the deniers of Austrian economics are harming the public by making it more difficult for Congress to restore a free-market monetary policy. So why shouldn't the government silence Paul Krugman?

The climate change censorship movement is part of a larger effort to silence political speech. Other recent examples include the IRS's harassment of tea party groups as well as that agency's (fortunately thwarted) attempt to impose new rules on advocacy organizations that would have limited their ability to criticize a politician's record in the months before an election.

The IRS and many state legislators and officials are also trying to force public policy groups to hand over the names of their donors. This type of disclosure can make individuals fearful that, if they support a pro-liberty group, they will face retaliation from the government.

Efforts to silence government critics may have increased in recent years; however, the sad fact is the US Government has a long and shameful history of censoring speech. It is not surprising that war and national security have served as convenient excuses to limit political speech. So-called liberal presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt both supported wartime crackdowns on free speech.

Today, many neoconservatives are using the war on terror to justify crackdowns on free speech, increased surveillance of unpopular religious groups like Muslims, and increased government control of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Some critics of US foreign policy have even been forbidden to enter the country.

Many opponents of government restrictions on the First Amendment and other rights of Muslims support government actions targeting so-called "right-wing extremists." These fair-weather civil liberties defenders are the mirror image of conservatives who support restricting the free speech rights of Muslims in the name of national security, yet clam to oppose authoritarian government. Defending speech we do not agree with is necessary to effectively protect the speech we support.

A government that believes it can run our lives, run the economy, and run the world will inevitably come to believe it can, and should, have the power to silence its critics. Eliminating the welfare-warfare state is the key to protecting our free speech, and other liberties, from an authoritarian government.


The bully pulpit of climate change

According to a spokesman from ExxonMobil, the company has spent 40 years doing climate research in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the company has made that research publicly available. But since the company exercised its right not to reach definitive conclusions on climate change — despite the fact that, at the same time, many of the world’s experts were also exercising that same right — ExxonMobil says it has been the target of environmental activists, who have been deliberately distorting materials from the company’s archives in an attempt to get the government to investigate ExxonMobil.

Sadly, their efforts were successful.

As reported by Kate Sheppard of the Huffington Post, Reps. Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier, House Democrats from California who were persuaded by environmental groups’ smear tactics, approached the Department of Justice last fall to look into whether ExxonMobil violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or any other federal laws. The company was allegedly “organizing a sustained deception campaign disputing climate science and failing to disclose truthful information to investors and the public.”

Rep. Lieu says he believes the company was working publicly to undermine climate science, and that its actions are on par with tobacco companies who were guilty of “lying to the American people” by denying the link between smoking and cancer in order “to better sell their product.” Just as the DOJ used RICO law to prosecute tobacco companies in the late 1990s, Rep. Lieu says he would “would hope for a prosecution” of ExxonMobil if the facts warrant it.

While there is no clear indication of how seriously the DOJ is considering the congressmen’s witch hunt, the agency has at least humored the congressmen by announcing that it has forwarded the case to the FBI in order to determine the validity of such an investigation — an investigation that the environmental lobby and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fully support.

If the FBI decides to open an investigation, the move would be motivated entirely by political considerations. The last time we checked, there is no crime in being skeptical of climate change or advocating for policies that aid ExxonMobil’s interests. An investigation would simply be Democrats and the environmental lobby seeking a big scalp.

Furthermore, such an investigation is a trampling of First Amendment rights. ExxonMobil is under no obligation to worship at the altar of climate change, nor is any other company or individual. There is no constitutional rationale for punishing the company for its actions relating to dubious climate change claims, and the FBI shouldn’t humor Democrats or environmental lobbyists any longer on this issue. There should be no further investigation.


Five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, India and China have embraced nuclear power

Other countries in the region also want to build more plants - even in high-risk areas prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.

When Sun Qin talks about the future of nuclear power, his eyes light-up. In China alone, there are 31 nuclear power plants and another 24 are under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Now, the president of the China's National Nuclear Corporation wants (CNNC) wants to build 30 additional nuclear power stations - not only in China, but also in the neighboring states along the so-called "New Silk Road." CNNC has already exported six reactors abroad, but the Chinese want to expand further.

"We face very strong competition in the international nuclear market," says Sun Qin, adding that "countries like Russia, South Korea, Japan and the United States are all exploring the global nuclear market aggressively."

Following the Fukushima disaster, China's government initially suspended the construction of additional nuclear power plants. Instead, comprehensive security policies were adopted. But in the autumn of 2012, Beijing lifted the moratorium on future development - and since then, has pursued a more ambitious nuclear program.

China needs to restructure its massive energy sector. Currently, the country produces some two-thirds of its total energy from outdated coal power plants. The Chinese people complain of air pollution and other environmental damage, which is why the government in Beijing will shut down about 1,000 coal plants by the end of this year.

Nuclear power, on the other hand, is considered a relatively "clean" alternative to coal. In daily congressional meetings, the Communist Party has been discussing plans for a massive expansion of nuclear energy. By 2030, a total of 110 nuclear power plants will be in operation.

With this, China would overtake the US as the country with the most nuclear power plants connected to the grid. Greenpeace nuclear expert Heinz Smital views the speed at which the reactors are being developed as problematic: "The Chinese safety authorities do not have the capacity to examine the buildings properly," said Smital. "They will likely wave things through, rubber-stamp everything and not mess with the state-run construction consortiums. There is a big security risk."

Energy-hungry India

India's economy grows at a rate of about six percent per annum. But its ailing energy infrastructure inhibits economic development. Large areas of the country suffer from regular blackouts and obsolete infrastructure.

Like China, India's renewable energy sector needs to be massively expanded. But the country's political elite are convinced that India must exhaust all possibilities of electricity. Therefore, Delhi is planning a far-reaching expansion of nuclear power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to build dozens of new reactors in the next 15 years.

The technical know-how is sourced internationally. Over the past decade, India has reached civil nuclear agreements with the United States, Canada, France and Russia. 21 nuclear power plants are already in operation. Two of the plants are in Kudankulam and Kalpakkam, located on the southeast coast of the country – areas prone to tsunamis. In December 2006, a tsunami hit Kalpakkam causing extensive damage, but not to the nuclear power plant, according to its operator.

Pakistan: Reactors in flood-prone areas

India's neighbor, Pakistan, is also struggling with blackouts and outdated infrastructure. The country currently operates three small reactors, with the nuclear plant west of Karachi - located in a flood-prone area - being one of the oldest in the world.

The remaining two reactors are situated in an earthquake-prone area some 300 kilometers (186.4 miles) south of the capital Islamabad. The government is planning to build two other reactors in the same area. According to Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission, Islamabad wants to build a total of seven new reactors by 2030 - with assistance from China.

South Korean expansion

Although South Korea is about the size of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), the country boasts 25 active nuclear plants. Three additional ones are under construction, while two others are set to be completed by 2029. The government plans to increase the share of nuclear power in the country's overall energy mix from currently 30 to 40 percent.

Still, South Koreans are becoming increasingly skeptical about nuclear energy - and not just because of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. In 2012 and 2013, a scandal related to the use of fake safety certificates rocked the country's nuclear industry lobby. State-owned (KHNP) had thousands of small components featuring falsified certificates fitted into the country's nuclear plants. As it turns out, large amounts of bribe money changed hands between KHNP employees, construction firms and politicians.

This led not only to Korean media speaking of a "nuclear mafia," but also to a massive drop in the approval ratings for nuclear energy - from 70 percent before the Fukushima disaster to 35 percent. In spite of this, Seoul is sticking to its plans to expand the use of nuclear power in the East Asian country.


No drought in Israel

Warmists are always moaning about present and future droughts.  Israel shows how hollow that scare is

"Israel is a water superpower." So wrote Renaissance man and entrepreneur-commentator Seth M. Siegel in his recent bestselling book "Let There Be Water: Israel's Solution for a Water-Starved World."

This fascinating volume analyzes the amazing pioneering story of how a once-poor, parched Israel became a prosperous, high-tech startup nation, offering solutions unto the countries of an increasingly water-starved world.

Siegel presented Israel as a laboratory for a growing global population endangered by impending socioeconomic and national security water crises examined by official top-secret American studies. "Sixty percent of Israel is desert, and the rest is semiarid," he noted, adding that Israel's "annual rainfall, not generous to begin with, has dropped by more than half."

 Nonetheless, this former third-world country at its independence in 1948 "now has one of the world's most rapidly growing economies. Middle-class life is the norm in Israel."

Siegel said that "despite its challenging climate and unforgiving landscape, Israel not only doesn't have a water crisis, it has a water surplus." Prior to World War II, British economists gloomily predicted that the territory of the British Palestine Mandate on which a Jewish national home was to emerge could sustain no more than 2 million people. By contrast, the "geographic area of Palestine today is home to more than 12 million people" in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and Israel exports annually water-intensive produce worth billions of dollars.

Siegel examined in detail the various elements contributing to Israel's life-giving liquidity in a once barren wilderness where pre-Israeli Zionist pioneers in the Yishuv depended upon simple wells. Completed in 1964, the National Water Carrier - which transports water in pipes from the Sea of Galilee in Israel's north to the southern Negev Desert - symbolizes Israel's national commitment to water infrastructure planning and development. Per capita, the NWC costs far more than American iconic public works like the Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam or Panama Canal.

The author noted that unique Israeli mindsets concerning water complement material hardware, such as a rejection of water property rights common in other countries. In Israel, "all water ownership and usage is controlled by the government acting in the interest of the people. [Israelis] have surrendered private ownership and the benefits of a market economy in water for a system that offers universal access to high-quality water."

On the other hand, this nationalized water system began charging real water prices in 2008, a dramatic contrast with enormous water subsidies enjoyed by consumers around the world. "The promise to the public was that water fees would henceforth be spent exclusively on the nation's water needs "with nothing diverted to help balance other parts of municipal or national budgets," Siegel said. This dedicated spending has procured modern water technology such as pipe-checking robotic cameras, reducing by 2013 Israel's rate of lost municipal water to under 11 percent; by comparison, Chicago's rate is about 25 percent.

Real water pricing caused an immediate decline in Israeli household water use by 16 percent, but Israelis have a longstanding national culture of water conservation. Signs reading "Every Drop Counts" in Hebrew permeate a country that was the first to make dual-flush toilets obligatory. Similarly, Israel treats and recycles more than 85 percent of its sewage for agricultural and other non-drinking uses, while the reclaimed water rate is under 10 percent for most developed countries like the United States.

Yet, as Siegel pointed out, farmers around the world - including in Israel - are the largest water consumers, making water savings in this sector especially significant. Israel has pioneered drip irrigation with pipes on or in the ground delivering water directly to plant roots, saving 40 percent of the water used in traditional irrigation methods, as well as doubling harvest yields. "Around the world today, only about 5 percent of the irrigated agricultural fields utilize drip irrigation or other micro-irrigation techniques," he wrote, adding that 75 percent of Israel's irrigated fields use drip irrigation. While approximately 80 percent of irrigated fields globally "still use some form of the ancient, and wasteful, flood-irrigation method," usually wasting more than 50 percent of the used water, "not one farm in Israel has used flood irrigation in several decades."

Israel has also exploited its global leadership plant research for water savings. New plant types thrive on diluted, brackish water that changes their cell structure, reducing water while releasing sugars to create sweeter produce with better texture. Because of Israel's unique agricultural technological adaptations, the "best place in Israel to grow crops today is in the desert," an Israeli scientist told Siegel.

Necessity has been the mother of invention domestically in Israel, and the country's water technology has gone global in the marketplace. Siegel noted that 200 Israeli water-based startups in about the last decade constitute some 10 percent of such startups worldwide; Israeli firms helped build the Western hemisphere's largest desalinization plant near San Diego. They drew upon Israel's experience with the largest and most energy efficient desalinization plant in the world near Tel Aviv, along with four others on Israel's short Mediterranean coast.

Water is good diplomacy as well as good business for Israel. Solving water problems helped improve Israel's relations with once-unfriendly nations like China and India, while closer to home, Jordanians and Palestinians receive Israeli water exports often at discounted prices. "While it is still impossible to create new land or to return refugees to villages where cities or highways now stand, Israel has shown that it can produce new water," Siegel wrote, about Israel's conflicts with its Arab neighbors. Approximately 96 percent of some 2.4 million West Bank Palestinians access piped running water, thanks to Israeli infrastructure improvements following the 1967 war.

In his book, Siegel showed how this small Jewish state gives hope for gargantuan global water challenges, a modern David versus Goliath story. "Israel is the only country in the world which has less area covered by desert today than 50 years ago," he noted. While often associated with conflict, Israel offers technological fountains of life.


'Living near a power station WON'T damage your health': Leading scientist busts myths about the dangers of radiation - and says being FAT is more likely to kill you

With it's bright yellow and black, wasp-like warning symbol, it's hardly surprising there is some level of fear and trepidation when it comes to radiation.

It's lethal potential overshadows its other vital role as a life-saver, providing cancer treatment and X-rays to those in need.

Today marks five years since a magnitude nine earthquake triggered a triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor on the north-east coast of Japan.

Although making the headlines as the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, radiation expert Professor Gerry Thomas, says there have been no radiation-related deaths from the accident.

Professor Thomas, who works at the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London, says the public have got radiation all wrong – and think it is much more dangerous than it actually is.

She argues radiation saves far more people every year than it kills but is still perceived as a great danger.

Professor Thomas goes as far as to compare it to other toxins - alcohol and even salt - saying it is safe in small doses but dangerous in high amounts.

Here, she addresses the most common radiation myths and explains why your waistline poses a greater danger to your health than radiation.


Studies have shown that an operational coal-fired power station releases three times more radiation than an operational nuclear power plant.

This is because fossil fuels naturally contain radioactive elements, which is released when they are burnt.

However, the levels of radiation emitted would not pose any danger to health.

Many people still believe there were radiation-related deaths following the Fukushima accident when in fact there have been no radiation-related deaths from the incident.

This was because the clean-up workers were on a strict rotation pattern, which kept their doses well below the level at which any direct effects would be seen from radiation exposure.

Doses to the population at large were kept low by sheltering, evacuation and removing contaminated food from the food chain.

These actions meant the doses to members of the general population were kept to below that of a single whole body CT scan – and in more than 90 per cent of cases to less than a tenth of a CT scan.

We learnt the lessons from previous accidents such as Chernobyl, and put them into action.


Many people believe any exposure to radiation is dangerous - yet we are exposed to radiation every moment throughout our lives.

Every year we are exposed to a dose of radiation of 2 milli Sieverts (which is a measure that adds our exposure from different types of radiation).

By comparison one X-ray delivers 0.2 milli Sieverts.

We receive radiation from space - so called cosmic radiation - which is why we receive higher amounts of radiation when we fly (around 0.1mSv for a return flight from London-Tokyo), and why astronauts receive high levels of radiation in space.

Radiation is all over the planet, released from natural sources including soil and rocks due to the naturally occurring element Radon.  And it is released in the soil and from rocks such as granite.

If you measured radiation levels in Aberdeen, which is built on granite, there would be higher background levels of radiation than in Fukushima.

And in comparison to other lifestyle factors, the risk of radiation to our health is tiny.

Research has suggested that being close to the nuclear bomb when it detonated in Hiroshima would be less of a threat to your health than being severely obese.

Research published in 2007 calculated a person would lose 2.6 years of life if you were 1.5 km from the atomic bombs when they detonated.  In comparison, if you're severely obese you lose 10 years of your life.


Many people believe that once someone has been exposed to radiation they are somehow contaminated, and can cause people around them to be harmed

However, being exposed to radiation beams - for example during an X-ray or when a patient is receiving conventional radiotherapy for cancer, does not leave any lingering radiation.

This is because the radiation passes straight through the body. If someone ingests radiation, their body can remain radioactive.

But, crucially, it is not their actual body that remains radioactive - but their bodily fluids such as sweat, saliva and urine.

An example of this is when medics give patients with thyroid cancer a drink that contains radioactive iodine. Following surgery to remove the thyroid gland, patients are given radioiodine to kill any remaining thyroid cells that remain in the body.  The thyroid cells absorb the radioiodine, and this kills the cells.

However these patients must remain in isolation for around 24 hours until they have excreted all the radioactive iodine from their body.

We all carry a small amount of radiation, because the food we eat, such as fruit and vegetables, contain radioactive chemical elements absorbed from the ground.

The radioactive elements from food cause our body to emit small amounts of radiation in our sweat and bodily fluids.

So if you sleep next to somebody you'll receive greater amounts of radiation at night than if you sleep alone.


Medical scans, such as X-rays and CT scans, and security scanners at airports deliver very small amounts of radiation.

If a doctor suggests you have an X-ray or CT scan the benefits to your health far outweigh any risks.

And airport scanners only deliver 0.00002 mSv.

However, 'leisure scans' should be avoided.

I sometimes see adverts for private CT scans, offered to people who are fit and healthy but just want to check whether they have anything lurking. Almost like a yearly check-up with your doctor.

I personally wouldn't opt for these, as you are exposing yourself to radiation to 5 years’ worth of background radiation (around 10mSv) for no clear benefit.



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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14 March, 2016

Australian Greenies trying to crawl to the workers

After their attacks on coal companies have caused big problems for those companies, Greenies are trying to shield themselves from the fallout of that.  If the companies go broke, it will be bad news for their employees. And the Greenies don't want to be the target of unhappy employees.  So the press release below is an appeal to the corporate regulator to "do something" about the financial health of the companies concerned.  What the regulator could do is unknown

Environmental Justice Australia and Greenpeace International today alerted the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to a number of Australian creditors who would be at risk should Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company, file for bankruptcy.

Many of Peabody’s senior lenders are calling for the company to file for bankruptcy in the U.S. However, this could risk Peabody’s Australian employees’ redundancy entitlements, while Australian state governments could be left to foot the bill for rehabilitating mines if Peabody’s financial assurance is insufficient.

Peabody owns nine operating coal mines in Queensland and New South Wales seemingly via a subsidiary registered in Gibraltar. Peabody's Australian assets secure, in part, a financing facility worth US$1.2 billion for the company. Not only will Peabody's likely bankruptcy impact whether its operations in Australia will continue, but the company’s complicated structure may determine if Australian creditors get a fair deal.

David Barnden, a lawyer from Environmental Justice Australia specialising in finance and climate change, said:

"Peabody is in poor financial health. It has a complicated holding structure and is highly leveraged. Bankruptcy appears imminent. ASIC has been asked to investigate whether Australian creditors will get a fair deal if and when bankruptcy occurs. Potential creditors include workers who may have redundancy entitlements and the New South Wales and Queensland state governments which might need to pay for rehabilitation costs beyond any financial assurance held for Peabody's mines. It is a matter of public interest that Australian creditors are protected to the full extent of the law."

Marina Lou, lawyer from Greenpeace International, said:

"Regulators in the U.S. have already raised concerns that taxpayers could be left on the hook for coal mine reclamation obligations as the coal industry declines, and a Peabody bankruptcy would significantly exacerbate these risks. Australian regulators should also be investigating the risks to protect taxpayers and the environment from a potential Peabody bankruptcy.

"Australian taxpayers have already heavily subsidised this industry during its decline and now they may also need to bail it out and clean up its mess after it finally closes down too.

"We need ASIC to act because this isn’t a one-off. There are many other struggling mining companies in Australia and unless proper plans are made for when they go bankrupt, the overall cost to the country and mining workers could be far greater."

EJA and Greenpeace have identified a number of potential creditors of Peabody's Australian operations. They include workers at Peabody's mines who may miss out on entitlements, and the governments of New South Wales and Queensland, which may become creditors if Peabody's financial assurance is insufficient to rehabilitate its mine sites.

In this scenario, either the taxpayer will foot the bill for rehabilitation costs or sites may never be rehabilitated. Unfortunately, the long-term nature of environmental issues associated with voids from open-cut coal mines, such as acid mine drainage, means liabilities may not crystallise until long into the future.

As a result of these public interest concerns, ASIC has been asked to investigate the relationship between Peabody and its Australian subsidiaries.

Press release from EJA

Banning fossil fuel benefits

Does their abysmal grasp of energy and economics make Hillary and Bernie unfit to govern?

Paul Driessen

"Natural gas is a good, cheap alternative to fossil fuels," former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously intoned. (Psssst. Ms. Nancy, natural gas is a fossil fuel.)

"If I thought there was any evidence that drilling could save people money, I would consider it. But it won’t," President Obama said in 2008. "We can’t drill our way out of the problem" of high energy prices and disappearing supplies, he still insisted two years later. How shocked he must be now.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing – aka, fracking – has unleashed a gusher of oil and natural gas, sent oil prices plunging $100 a barrel since 2008, dropped US oil imports to their lowest level in 45 years, and saved American families tens of billions of dollars annually in lower energy costs.

But if price and "peak oil" rationales fail, there is always "dangerous manmade global warming" to justify carbon-based energy and fracking bans, and renewable energy mandates and subsidies.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton contend that climate change is an "existential threat" to people and planet. Senator Sanders says bluntly, "I do not support fracking." He also wants legislation that would keep America’s abundant oil, gas and coal "in the ground."

Mrs. Clinton opposes all fossil fuel energy extraction on federal lands. She rejects fracking if "any locality or state is against it," any methane is released or water contaminated, or companies don’t reveal "exactly what chemicals they are using." Under her watch, there won’t be "many places in America where fracking will continue." She will "stop fossil fuels" and ensure 50% renewable energy by 2030.

One senses that these folks inhabit a parallel universe, cling like limpets to anti-hydrocarbon  ideologies, or perhaps embody Mark Twain’s admonition that "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you’re a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

One also senses that as president the two Democrat candidates will continue Mr. Obama’s imperial practices. If Congress resists their policy initiatives, they will simply issue more Executive Branch diktats, and ignore their impacts on jobs and the economy, the absence of evidence that fracking harms human health or water quality, the reality that renewable energy "alternatives" also cause serious problems – and scientists’ continuing inability to separate human from natural influences on climate and weather events and trends that are essentially the same as during the twentieth century.

Officially, 7.8 million Americans are still unemployed. But add the long-term unemployed, those who looked for a job once in the past year but not in recent weeks, and those who are working involuntarily in low-pay, part-time positions – and the total swells to 16.8 million. Over 46 million are on food stamps.

The federal debt hit $19 trillion in February and is projected to reach $23 trillion by 2020. In FY2015, the US Treasury collected $3.2 trillion in taxes and other revenues, but spent $3.7 trillion. Profligate state and local spending has swollen these deficits by tens of billions more, for the same reason: politicians are in cahoots with unions, crony capitalist rent seekers, and assorted grievance, victim and welfare groups.

Mountains of federal regulations cost businesses and families $1.9 trillion annually – half of our national budget. They drag down investment, job creation and tax revenues. State and local rules add more pain.

To borrow the Greens and Democrats’ favorite term, this is unsustainable.

Oil, gas and coal account for 82% of all US energy and 68% of US electricity generation – reliably and affordably. Producing this abundant energy also generates positive cash-flow: fossil fuel bonuses, rents and royalties from federal lands totaled $126 billion between 2003 and 2013; corporate and personal taxes resulting from the jobs and activities powered by that energy added tens of billions more.

Wind, solar and biofuel programs, by contrast, are black holes for hard-earned taxpayer subsidies – and rarely work unless consumers are required to use that energy, and pay premium prices for doing so.

Even getting to 50% "carbon-free" energy fifteen years from now will require: vastly more subsidies and mandates; turning entire forests into fuel; blanketing croplands and habitats with enormous biofuel plantations, wind farms and solar installations; and killing millions of birds, bats and other wildlife in the process. However, biomass and biofuels are also carbon-based and also release carbon dioxide – and their energy per volume is paltry, their energy efficiency deplorable, compared to hydrocarbons.

A renewable energy future means scenic, wild and agricultural lands become industrial zones and high voltage transmission corridors – feeding urban centers where people will have lower living standards.

Environmentalists used to tell poor countries they could never have the lifestyles of people in developed nations, as it wouldn’t be sustainable. Now they say our living standards are unsustainable and aren’t fair to the world’s poor. Therefore, their lives should be improved a little via wind, solar and biofuel energy, while ours are knocked down a peg via climate and sustainability regulations (except for ruling elites).

Environmentalists and other liberals are also hardwired to be incapable of acknowledging the countless health, welfare and technological blessings that creative free enterprise capitalism has bestowed on humanity – or to recognize the dearth of innovation by repressive socialist regimes.

Liberals like to say Republicans want to control what you do in your bedroom. But Democrats want to control everything you do outside your bedroom – but for the noble, exalted purpose of changing genetically coded human behavior, to Save the Planet for future generations. That means unelected Earth Guardians must control the lives, livelihoods, living standards, liberties and life spans of commoners and peasants, especially in "flyover country."

Fossil fuel and fracking bans are part of that "fundamental transformation." They will force us to use less oil and gas, but they also mean we will import more petroleum from Saudi Arabia and Iran, though not from Canada via the Keystone pipeline. Energy prices will again climb into the stratosphere, more jobs will disappear, manufacturing will shrivel, and royalty and tax revenues will evaporate.

The billionaire bounties that Hillary, Bernie and their supporters also need to pay for all the free college, ObamaCare, renewable energy subsidies, income redistribution and other "entitlements" will likewise be devoured quickly, while millions more people end up on welfare and unemployment rolls. The bills will simply be forwarded to our children and grandchildren.

Meanwhile, despite any US bans, other countries will continue using fossil fuels to create jobs and grow their economies. So total atmospheric CO2 and greenhouse gas concentrations will continue to rise.

Of course, "climate deniers" and other members of The Resistance will have to be dealt with. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will pave the way on that. In the process, as Obama and Clinton mentor Saul Alinsky put it in his Rules for Radicals, the ruling elites will pick, freeze, personalize and polarize their targets. They will repeat their allegations and maintain their pressure until all resistance crumbles. Facts will be irrelevant. Power and perceptions will rule.

Blue collar, middle class and minority families feel they are fighting for their very survival, against policies and regulations that profoundly impair their jobs, incomes and futures. Indeed, the governing classes are actively harming the very people they claim to care the most about – and actually killing people in the world’s poorest nations, by denying them access to energy and other modern technologies.

That’s why Trump, Cruz, Carson and other "outsider" candidates have resonates. People are fed up.

Perhaps it’s time to borrow a page from Alinsky – Rule Four, to be precise – and make "the enemy," the ruling elites, live up to their own rules. Watching them scream and squeal would be most entertaining.

Via email

State Environmental Officials Say Obama’s EPA Has Overstepped Its Authority

The EPA, one state regulator says, has been "bypassing the guidelines under the federal environmental statutes on how to implement changes." (Photo: Jim Urquhart /Reuters/Newscom)
The Environmental Protection Agency has overstepped its legal authority by imposing a regulatory agenda on the states, environmental officials at the state level testified Wednesday to a Senate committee.

Randy Huffman, cabinet secretary at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, testified that the EPA’s flood of environmental regulations since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 chipped away at the Founding Fathers’ intent of "cooperative federalism" between the national and state governments.

Instead of consulting state regulators when establishing new policies, Huffman said, EPA bureaucrats increasingly are imposing regulations through what is called federal guidance.

"There’s two problems with this: EPA guidance further eliminates state discretion, and it allows them to avoid the accountability and transparency of rulemaking," Huffman testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

When Congress passed the Clean Air Act more than 40 years ago, Huffman said, lawmakers put states in charge of establishing procedures to meet federal standards. In fact, over 95 percent of the environmental regulatory duties in the U.S. are carried out by the states, he said, citing the Environmental Council of the States.

The West Virginia official said Congress placed the primary responsibility with the states because lawmakers knew that state authorities would be more knowledgeable of local environments than D.C. bureaucrats. Rather than following congressional intent, he said, EPA regulators seized authority from the states.

"In the past seven years, states have been forced to digest more of these federal takeovers … than were ever served in the prior three federal administrations combined 10 times over," Becky Keogh, director at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, testified.

Keogh said the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, regulations on the coal industry designed to cut carbon emissions, is illustrative of the diminishment of state sovereignty.

"The reality is that states are more pawn than partner," she said.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who chairs the Committee on Environment and Public Works, noted that the amicus brief he and 33 other senators along with 171 House members filed against the plan last month at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the court papers, the lawmakers argued that the plan violates the Clean Air Act by coercing states to implement the EPA’s policies.

In early February, the Supreme Court halted the EPA’s implementation of the Clean Power Plan until legal challenges from more than two dozen states, four state agencies, and dozens of industry groups made their way through federal appeals court.

Deborah Markowitz, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, lauded the EPA’s hand in establishing federal baselines for environmental policies.

Without minimum standards, she said, states that put more effort toward creating environmental policies still would bear the consequences from neighboring states that choose to do less.

"National environmental regulations establish an even playing field between states, helping to prevent a regulatory race to the bottom in a misguided attempt to attract economic development," Markowitz testified.

West Virginia’s Huffman agreed that federal standards should be recognized, but said currently states are not given enough flexibility to determine how to meet those standards. Further, he said EPA creating those regulations through executive "fiat" imposed on states without local input.

"The real problem for me as a regulator is the way [EPA] is going about implementing these standards," he said. "They are bypassing the guidelines under the federal environmental statutes on how to implement changes."


Solar power: a waste of energy

Solar power is still more expensive and less efficient than fossil fuels

Employment in the US solar-energy sector is booming. More and more workers are being employed to help build and maintain this lean, clean and green technology. According to the latest figures from the Solar Foundation, solar companies are employing workers nearly 12 times faster than the overall US economy. Of all the jobs created in the US in 2015, a total of one per cent were in the solar sector. Now, more than 208,000 Americans work in the solar industry, marking a 20 per cent surge in a single year. If you track the figures as far back as 2010, the increase in employment is a whopping 123 per cent.

Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm celebrated the new figures. ‘Americans want good-paying jobs, and solar jobs are growing 12 times faster than the rest of the economy’, she said. ‘Our citizens are making and installing those solar panels, and, with the right policies, the US can create hundreds of thousands more solar jobs here at home. What more needs to be said?’

A recent report by the Solar Foundation found that solar was employing more people than other energy sectors: ‘The solar workforce is larger than some well-established fossil-fuel generation sectors, such as the oil and gas extraction industry, which shed 13,800 jobs in 2015 and now employs 187,200 people.’ The report also boasted that ‘the solar industry is already three times larger than the coal-mining industry, which employs 67,929 people’.

However, these figures are misleading. It is important to note that, as a relatively new energy industry, a lot of the new jobs created in solar are in installation – 120,000 out of the 208,000, in fact. To create a fairer comparison with other energy sectors, those involved in the installation of solar panels must be subtracted from the overall figure, leaving 88,000 people employed in the maintenance of solar-energy equipment. The figures quoted in the Solar Foundation report merely underline how inefficient and expensive solar is in comparison to fossil fuels.

This has been proven by the Energy Information Administration, which notes that, as of 2014, only 0.4 per cent of the US’s electricity production came from solar energy. In contrast, natural gas provided 27 per cent of US electricity and coal provided 39 per cent. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 180,000 are employed in oil and gas extraction, while coal employs roughly 68,000. Despite having high employment numbers, solar energy provides a pitiful amount of energy. Similarly, when compared to the oil and gas extraction industry, the return on energy created per worker in the solar industry is tiny.

The crude Keynesian might say that solar power is producing more jobs, and surely that is a good thing? But this is only true in the same way that paying people to dig holes in the ground also creates jobs. The problem is that it also creates costs. If more people are employed to produce much smaller amounts of energy, the cost of energy goes up. Put simply, more workers equals higher energy costs. A surge in solar employment isn’t a one-off attempt to stimulate the economy. After all, proponents of solar energy argue that it is the future of energy provision in the US. If this is the case, the average American will end up paying for more expensive energy, either at the point of consumption or through the use of their taxes.

While the promise of higher employment rates may sound progressive, increasing the amount of labour required to produce energy is a step backwards. Throughout human history, the quest has been to find sources of energy that reduce necessary human labour, from the early use of waterways to the domestication of beasts of burden to the steam engine and our short-lived nuclear age. Technology might one day make solar energy more cost efficient, but the amount of jobs needed to produce it at the moment suggests that it won’t happen any time soon.


CANADA: What's the REAL story behind the CBC's changing coverage of that climate change poll?


According to Esther Enkin, the current Ombudsman of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), she "has a mandate to determine whether information content the CBC has produced fully respects CBC's journalism policy."

With that thought in mind, let’s consider whether Enkin did her job concerning a complaint I lodged on February 27 about the way in which CBC radio covered a recent public opinion poll about climate change. Here is the background.

In an apparent attempt to provide cover for the federal/provincial global warming summit last week in Vancouver, a study authored by researchers from University of Montreal and three American universities was released on February 15. Entitled "The Distribution of Climate Change Public Opinion in Canada," the study was reported on at about 10:00 am on February 22 by CBC on their web site.

However, Australian science presenter Jo Nova pointed out that apparently the CBC later edited both the headline and the story to make it more politically correct (see the CBC's explanation for those changes here).

As Nova points out, at first the CBC headline read, "Climate change: Majority of Canadians don’t believe it’s caused by humans," with appropriate text to support this conclusion.

But, as Nova writes:

"The original message revealed a sacred truth that must not be spoken. How would most Canadians feel about being forced to pay money to change the weather if they knew most other Canadians also thought it was a waste of billions?"

So, after the survey researchers complained, the headline was changed to "Canadians divided over human role in climate change, study suggests," and significant parts of the piece rewritten, presumably to give more of the message needed by politicians meeting in Vancouver.

So it appears our national broadcaster acted as a cheerleader for the global warming crusade. Nothing unusual about that.

What was different this time, however, was that, about mid-day on February 22, Adam Stroud, Associate Producer of Toronto-based CBC Syndicated Audio, reached out to me -- someone who vehemently opposes the CBC’s belief that the science of climate change is "settled" in favour of alarmism -- to comment on the meaning of the poll.

Stroud apparently did not know of my position and wanted local CBC radio show hosts across Canada to speak with me about where scientists and educators were "falling short" in popularizing the point of view CBC holds dear.

I was also asked to discuss how they could do better "in informing the public on climate change."

It did not seem to occur to Stroud that many Canadians are skeptical of the CBC’s stance because, as is well demonstrated by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), it is not supported by the science.

NIPCC does not pull its punches, concluding in its November 2015 report "Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming":

"Probably the most widely repeated claim in the debate over global warming is that ‘97% of scientists agree’ that climate change is man-made and dangerous," the authors write. "This claim is not only false, but its presence in the debate is an insult to science."

(Note: Joe Bast, CEO of the Heartland Institute, the publishers of the NIPCC, discussed this valuable report on line on March 9, 2016 here.)

I accepted Stroud’s request, only to have him drop me later when one of the researchers of the original poll became available for the interview. (Or was is because he discovered my position on the issue?)

Hoping (naively it appears) for fair coverage of the survey, I nevertheless sent Stroud information to help CBC interviewers properly quiz the survey researcher. I explained:

"The first question in the poll is a trick that should be exposed by CBC interviewers, I suggest. It was:

"From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades?"

Besides the fact that temperatures do not quote get warmer unquote; they increase (or decrease); picking the last four decades is deceptive. All scientists on both sides of the debate agree it has generally warmed in the past 40 years. However, in the last 19 years, temperatures have generally stayed stable, with the variation generally staying within the uncertainty (see attached). The answer to the question, is it getting warmer entirely depends on the time interval chosen.

In this video, Professor Carter shows that it has warmed since 16,000 years ago

He shows it has cooled since 10,000 years ago

He shows it has cooled in the last 2,000 years

He shows it has neither warmed nor cooled since 700 years ago

He shows it has warmed in the past 40 years

But not in the last 8 years (now 19 actually)

But, Prof. Carter also shows, the last two temperature intervals are not statistically significant and "absolutely not unusual."

So Carter concludes, "Is it warming or not - it depends on the time interval chosen."

I suggest the CBC point this out to the researchers. Alternatively, I would be happy to discuss this on air."

Stroud responded, "Thanks for that. We'll look into this further." .......

No one responded so, on February 27, I complained to Ombudsman Enkin, about the situation. She replied that she had "no say in day-to-day decision-making" concerning CBC programming and described her mandate as above.

So, I sent to Enkin samples of where On the Coast’s coverage of the climate survey violated CBC's journalism policy and asked her:

"Are you saying then that, in your opinion, the situation I described below adequately fulfills the standards laid out in CBC's journalism policy? A quick glace at CBC's journalism policy shows many places, a small sampling of which I list below, where the situation described in the e-mails below clearly violates CBC's journalism policy. Are you saying that, in your professional judgement as CBC Ombudsman, these standards were indeed followed in the circumstances I describe?"

Enkin did not answer my questions and again asked me to explain my concerns.

"Editorial judgement about what research is done or who is approached is generally beyond the mandate of this office," she concluded.

So, I wrote to her: "If you want to just focus on one of these policy violations, I suggest you take the following: Science and Health; Implications and validity of results of scientific research

The CBC Vancouver interview obviously did not "reflect the true implications" of the research and did not raise any of the problems with the work that I sent to CBC Toronto (since CBC Toronto did not share the information with CBC Vancouver even though they had many hours to do so).

Back and forth it went, Enkin asking for me to explain my concerns, me explaining them and then her asking again. I eventually gave up.


Beware Greens in progressive clothing

No amount of spin can hide environmentalism's miserablism

There are two main ways in which the relationship between man and nature can be understood. Some contend that humans should reshape the natural world for their own benefit, while others argue that humanity should respect natural limits.

The first view can be traced to Francis Bacon (1561-1626). The brilliant English philosopher, statesman and scientist ushered in the Enlightenment view that humans should seek to dominate nature. By this he did not mean that nature should be destroyed, as is sometimes alleged by greens, but rather harnessed to meet human needs.

Many key Enlightenment figures, including the French encyclopédistes Jean le Rond d’Alembert and Denis Diderot, recognised the key contribution Bacon made to modernity. Immanuel Kant, the great German Enlightenment philosopher, hailed Bacon in the preface to his Critique of Pure Reason (1781).

There is a strong argument that Bacon created the preconditions for the idea of progress. Writing in his classic study, The Idea of Progress (1920), John Bagnell Bury said that, for Bacon, ‘the true object… of the investigation of nature is not, as the Greek philosophers held, speculative satisfaction, but to establish the reign of man over nature; and this Bacon judged to be attainable, provided new methods of attacking the problems were introduced’.

In retrospect, Bacon’s supporters were right to recognise the importance of his insights. By reshaping and harnessing nature for our own benefit, we have created a far more prosperous society. It is hard to imagine the whole panoply of aircraft, cars, computers, electricity grids, hospitals, schools, railways, roads, telephones, universities and the like without it. Yet Bacon is virtually forgotten, except by the green and feminist authors who deride him for allegedly advocating the rape of nature.

In fact, mass prosperity and economic progress have brought enormous benefits to humanity. There are many ways in which this improvement can be measured, but perhaps the most striking is average life expectancy. It has increased from about 30 in 1800 to over 70 today. That increase alone – which it should be remembered is a global average – gives the lie to the claim that only the wealthy have benefited from mass affluence. An average of over 40 extra years of life is a considerable feat, worthy of huge celebration.

Yet this view that humans should strive to dominate nature has fallen out of favour. Since the 1970s, an alternative conception of man’s relationship to nature has become dominant. This perspective holds that humans should be constrained by natural limits. If they do not accept such limitations, so the argument goes, we will suffer all sorts of nasty consequences.

Historically, this view was most commonly associated with Thomas Malthus (1766-1834). For Malthus, these limits were expressed in the form of overpopulation. His Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in 1798, argued that if the human population was not kept in check, then there would be famine and war. Malthus’s essay has influenced conservatives, miserablists and misanthropes ever since.

As it happens, Malthus’s argument was not original. Many had argued before him that humans were constrained by natural limits. He gained prominence because his views were a direct riposte to the optimism of Enlightenment thinkers such as Nicolas de Condorcet, William Godwin and Adam Smith. He restated the case for pessimism when it was on the defensive, and sought to undermine faith in the power of human reason.

Over the past two centuries, Malthus’s predictions of doom have fared terribly. The global population is over seven times the size it was in his day, and yet people are far better off. Although the world is far from perfect, the average person lives a longer, better and healthier life than ever before. Under such circumstances it should not be a surprise that Malthusians have been on the defensive for over a century and a half.

Sadly, similar ideas have come to the fore again, albeit in a modified form, since the 1960s. The emphasis this time around is not so much on population – although that preoccupation has not disappeared – but the idea of overconsumption. Contemporary green thinking has reinvented the idea of a natural limit in a slightly different guise.

This notion is not confined to campaigning groups or self-proclaimed green political parties. Since the 1970s, it has become mainstream among Western governments and international organisations. Often the discussion is posed in terms of the need for sustainability – essentially a codeword for permanent austerity. From this starting point, the green-minded deride popular consumption and argue that the economic development of poor countries needs to be constrained for the sake of the environment.

One of the main goals of Andrea Wulf’s widely acclaimed The Invention of Nature is to rewrite the history of green thinking with the dashing Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) as its founder. Although he is little-known in the English-speaking world – or at least he was until Wulf’s book became a bestseller – the German scientist and explorer was a much more attractive figure than Malthus.

He was perhaps the best-known scientist of his age – comparable in fame to Napoleon – and a renowned explorer. He met and influenced a tremendous range of historical figures, including German literary giants such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, US president Thomas Jefferson, and the South American revolutionary Simón Bolívar. Charles Darwin, writing in his autobiography, credited Humboldt with giving him the ‘burning zeal’ to study the natural sciences. Humboldt’s best-known expedition was a six-year trip to Latin America, where, despite facing many hardships, he did a systematic botanical study of tens of thousands of plants in the region. Humboldt was also staunchly anti-slavery and opposed to colonialism.

If Wulf’s book was a straightforward biography of an unfairly neglected historical figure, it would deserve all of the plaudits. But its many admirers seem either to ignore or fail to recognise the significance of the ill-advised second goal the author set herself. In the prologue, she states that she aims to ‘understand why we think as we do about the natural world’. But, in that respect, the book is a failure. For one thing, to achieve that objective it would be necessary to write an entirely different book. Rather than focus on Humboldt, she would need to examine critically the changing perspectives of the natural world. On an even more basic level, the discussion of Humboldt’s life leads to a neglect of green ideas that existed before him.

The main focus of Wulf’s study is what Humboldt called his Naturgemälde (which can be roughly translated as his ‘painting of nature’). This was a sketch drawn by Humboldt that showed that nature was a complex web in which everything is connected. In that respect, it anticipated the idea that contemporary greens sometimes refer to as Gaia.

Yet Wulf, rather than drawing out its significance, more or less asserts that this is a foundational idea for green thinking. She fails to point out that the claim that humans are merely part of nature, rather than playing a special role, is a key element of anti-humanism. From a green perspective, it is reasonable to see humans as fundamentally on a par with any other animal. Indeed, from this vantage point, humans can be seen as worse than any other animal as they are viewed as destroying the world’s natural balance. In this way, the idea that humans are simply a part of nature is just another way of arguing that humans should respect natural limits.

As it happens, Humboldt himself was an empiricist rather than someone with a broader interest in philosophical issues. His Naturgemälde was simply an attempt to describe nature as he saw it. Unlike Malthus, he did not draw out any overt political views from his conception of nature. Wulf is essentially reading history backwards when she classifies Humboldt as a green thinker.

This unfortunate tendency of projecting the present on to the past is also apparent in the several references she makes to climate change. She may be right in arguing that Humboldt was the first scientist to recognise that humans can alter the climate. However, this claim shows that she fails to recognise what is distinctive about the contemporary debate. Even most of those derided today as ‘climate deniers’ would accept that human action can modify the climate. The distinctive feature of the current green orthodoxy is that it contends that a rapacious humanity is laying the ground for catastrophic climate change. It overestimates the extent to which humans cause problems and underestimates our capacity to devise solutions.

The Invention of Nature therefore works as a fascinating biography, but it is a total failure in its second stated goal of exploring how humans understand the natural world. It is a misguided attempt to rewrite the history of green thinking with the adventurer and scientist Humboldt as its founder. It fails to understand what is distinctive about green thinking or appreciate that its intellectual antecedents predate Humboldt.

The multi-authored Ecomodernist Manifesto represents an alternative attempt to put a positive spin on environmentalism. Its writers concede that economic progress has brought enormous benefits, but contend that it is right to hold on to an environmentalist ideal.

To maintain this position, they essentially split the idea of natural limits in two. They argue that humans should reduce their impact on nature, but they do not need to live in harmony with it: ‘We affirm one long-standing environmental ideal, that humanity must shrink its impacts on the environment to make more room for nature, while we reject another, that human societies must harmonise with nature to avoid economic and ecological collapse.’

It is hard to see how such a position is tenable. Economic and social progress depend precisely on humanity increasing its impact on nature. We need to enhance our control over the natural world, rather than step back from it. Hunger, disease and even straightforward scarcity still present formidable challenges. Even tackling climate change, to the extent it is a problem, will demand enhancing the technological powers of humanity, not scaling back.

The Ecomodernist Manifesto’s writers attempt to square this circle by advocating what they call a ‘decoupling’ of human development from environmental impacts. That means allowing humans to flourish, while protecting nature at the same time. But couching the arguments in this way blurs a key distinction. It may be that humans decide, for example, that they want to leave some of the planet as wilderness. But that should be on the basis of what is in the interests of humanity, rather than a belief in the need to respect natural limits.

By couching the manifesto in such pragmatic terms the authors manage to avoid the overt miserablism of much green thinking. However, there are clear signs that anxiety about economic progress is lurking not far beneath the surface. For example, the manifesto talks of the need to bolster resource productivity – the efficiency with which raw materials are harnessed – but it avoids any mention of labour productivity. Yet it is labour productivity – the amount that can be produced for each hour or day of human labour – that is key to economic progress. To abolish scarcity on a global scale – in other words, to make everyone affluent – would require a huge boost to average levels of labour productivity.

A related problem is indicated by the references to alleviating poverty. At first sight, this seems unobjectionable. Who could be against such a goal? But the manifesto focuses on reducing the most extreme forms of material deprivation and, by implication, eschews the goal of prosperity for all.

Ecomodernism cannot work as a coherent vision because green thinking is fundamentally opposed to modernity. A truly modern vision has to be based around the needs of humanity. It makes no sense to talk about the planet – which, when it comes down to it, is basically just a lump of rock – as if it has its own independent interests. The planet is not, and cannot, be a conscious being.

The ecomodernists are simply trying to give green thinking a makeover. They are playing down its anti-human premises and blurring its negative consequences. They are repackaging a miserablist and misanthropic outlook in a bid to make it seem palatable.

Now, more than ever, it is important to insist on a humanist conception of the relationship between man and nature This means insisting that humans should not constrain their ambition and creativity for the sake of the natural world. On the contrary, we owe the enormous gains we have made to our success in bolstering our control over nature. If anything, we need to take this process even further, rather than scaling back.

Perhaps it is also time to rehabilitate the reputation of Francis Bacon and his immense contribution to modernity. Without his insight, that humans should strive to dominate nature, we would all be far worse off.



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 March, 2016

New Report Says Science Can Estimate Influence of Climate Change on Some Types of Extreme Events

"For years scientists have given almost a rote response to the question of whether an instance of weird weather was from global warming, insisting that they can't attribute any single event to climate change. But "the science has advanced to the point that this is no longer true as an unqualified blanket statement," the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has reported".  So says good ol' Seth Borenstein of AP.  The Academy press release below tells more.

But the whole thing is just climate theology: untestable guesswork.  The most basic element of science is testability. If a proposition is not testable, it is not science.  When the Warmists can make accurate predictions, their propositions will have been successfully tested, but they have never managed to do that. The estimates below can be challenged by other estimates but that is still proof of nothing

It is now possible to estimate the influence of climate change on some types of extreme events, such as heat waves, drought, and heavy precipitation, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  The relatively new science of extreme event attribution has advanced rapidly in the past decade owing to improvements in the understanding of climate and weather mechanisms and the analytical methods used to study specific events, but more research is required to increase its reliability, ensure that results are presented clearly, and better understand smaller scale and shorter duration weather extremes such as hurricanes and thunderstorms, said the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report.

"An increasingly common question after an extreme weather event is whether climate change ‘caused’ that event to occur," said committee chair David W. Titley, professor of practice in meteorology and founding director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at the Pennsylvania State University.  "While that question remains difficult to answer given all the factors that affect an individual weather event, we can now say more about how climate change has affected the intensity or likelihood of some events."

Extreme event attribution is a fairly new area of climate science that explores the influence of human-caused climate change on individual or classes of extreme events compared with other factors, such as natural sources of climate and weather variability.  The science typically estimates how the intensity or frequency of an event has been altered by climate change and provides information that can be used to assess and manage risk, guide climate adaptation strategies, and determine greenhouse gas emissions targets.  For example, in the wake of a devastating event, communities may need to make a decision about whether to rebuild or relocate and need input on how much more likely or more severe this type of event is expected to become in the future.

Some extreme event attribution studies use observational records to compare a recent event with similar events that occurred in the past, when the influence of human-caused climate change was much less.  Other studies use climate and weather models to compare the meteorological conditions associated with an extreme event in simulated worlds with and without human-caused climate changes.  The report finds that results are most reliable when multiple, different methods are used that incorporate both a long-term historical record of observations and models to estimate human influences on a given event.

The most dependable attribution findings are for those events related to an aspect of temperature, for which there is little doubt that human activity has caused an observed change in the long-term trend, the report notes.  For example, a warmer climate increases the likelihood of extremely hot days and decreases the likelihood of extremely cold days.  Long-term warming is also linked to more evaporation that can both exacerbate droughts and increase atmospheric moisture available to storms, leading to more severe heavy rainfall and snowfall events.  However, temperature alone does not fully determine the probabilities of extreme events.  Attributing specific extreme events to long-term climate change may be complicated by factors such as natural long-term fluctuations in the ocean surface temperatures.

Statements about event attribution are sensitive to the way the questions are framed and the context within which they are posed, the report says.  For example, choices need to be made about defining the duration of the event, the geographic area impacted, what physical variables to study, what metrics to examine, and what observations or models to use.  These assumptions and choices can lead to large differences in the interpretation of the results, and should be clearly stated. 

The committee supported continued advancements in weather and climate modeling, and noted that focused research on weather and climate extremes would improve event attribution capabilities.  In addition, community standards for attributing classes of extreme events would make it easier to compare results from multiple studies.  Objective event selection and definition criteria could reduce potential selection bias and help elucidate how individual events fit into the broader picture of climate change.

Event attribution is retrospective, but the report calls for the development of predictive weather-to-climate forecasts of future extreme events that account for natural variability and human influences.  This could be based on concepts and practices within the Numerical Weather Prediction framework, including routine verification of forecasts using observations and rigorous approaches to improving the forecast system.


Rubio: No Law Can Change the Weather

"There's never been a time when the climate has not changed," Sen. Marco Rubio said at Thursday night's Republican debate in Coral Gables, Florida.

"I think the fundamental question for a policy maker is, is the climate changing because of something we are doing, and if so, is there a law you can pass to fix it?"

Rubio, addressing concerns about flooding in Miami, said it's caused by two things: "Number one, south Florida is largely built on land that was once a swamp. And number two, because if there is higher sea levels or whatever -- it may be happening -- we do need to deal with that through mitigation. And I have long supported mitigation efforts.

"But as far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there's no such thing."

Rubio said current and proposed legislation addressing climate change "would be devastating for our economy."

He also criticized the Obama administration's "war on coal."

"Let me tell you, who is going to pay the price of that? Americans are going to pay the price of that. The cost of doing that is going to be rammed down the throats of the American consumer, the single parent, the working families who are going to see increases in the cost of living, the businesses who are going to leave America because it's more expensive to do business here than anywhere else.

"And you know what passing those laws would have -- what impact it would have on the environment? Zero, because China is still going to be polluting and India is still going to be polluting at historic levels.

"So, I am in favor of a clean environment. My children live in South Florida. My family is being raised here. I want this to be a safe and clean place, but these laws some people are asking us to pass will do nothing for the environment and they will hurt and devastate our economy."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he believes that humans do contribiute to climate change. He advocates "all the sources of energy," including solar, wind and renewable energy.

"Battery technology can unleash an entirely different world," he said.


Nevada's home solar business is in turmoil as the state's Public Utilities Commission starts to phase out incentives for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels

"Sustainable" needs lots of taxpayer money -- or it isn't sustained

Some of the largest solar companies have stopped seeking new business in the state and laid off hundreds of workers.

Even for small solar installers, this once-booming business has slowed to a trickle. The warehouse at Robco Electric in Las Vegas was filled to capacity with pallets of solar panels stacked high last year. Now, it's nearly empty.

"The PUC made a decision and it just devastated our industry," says Robco President Rob Kowalczik. He's all business when talking about how the PUC sided with the utility and pretty much killed off residential solar in Nevada. But when it comes to his workers, he chokes up.

"The hardest thing is to lay people off," says Kowalczik. So far, his company has let 25 people go. The solar division of his company is down to a few salespeople and one installation crew.

One of the 25 is Connie Berry. She was just a few months into her job as an installer for Robco. Now, she's looking for work in the construction business, but she holds out hope her solar job will come back.

"It's been two months now since I got laid off, and I was hoping to get a call back. ... I got my tools. I'm ready to go," says Berry.

In front of Robco Electric, you're more likely now to see the company's sales cars parked in the middle of the day. Sales and marketing manager Tim Webb says last year they would have been out chasing down new leads all day. He says there were a lot of other solar companies on the road, too.

"It was kind of like the solar gold rush here. All these companies flocked into town, set up an office and sold systems. Now they're gone. There's just a few of us remaining," says Webb.

Companies like SolarCity say they were left with no choice but to stop doing business in Nevada when the PUC changed the rules for something called "net metering."

Net metering allows homeowners with solar panels to sell excess electricity they generate to the utility at retail rather than wholesale rates. It's a great deal for homeowners because they can do something good for the environment and save money on their energy bills.

But every kilowatt generated on someone's roof is one less the local utility sells. And utilities use that ratepayer money to maintain the electrical grid.

In this case, the local utility, NV Energy, is owned by Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway. During an interview with CNBC last month, Buffett echoed an argument utilities across the country have been making: When solar customers don't pay to maintain the power grid, that leaves everyone else to pick up the tab.

"We do not want the nonsolar customers, of whom there are over a million, to be subsidizing the 17,000 solar customers," Buffett said, talking about NV Energy's customers in Nevada.

Buffett said NV Energy can produce solar power from large, centralized plants for less than it costs to buy electricity from rooftop solar customers under the old net metering rules.

"We do not want our million plus customers who do not have solar to be buying solar at 10.5 cents [per kilowatt hour] when we can churn it out for them at 4.5 cents," he said.

SolarCity co-founder and CEO Lyndon Rive says utilities like NV Energy are just trying to protect their monopolies.

"They want to deploy the infrastructure. They do not want to let consumers deploy that infrastructure because then they don't get a regulated rate of return on that infrastructure," says Rive.

Rive wants big changes for the country's power grid. Instead of central generators delivering electricity out to customers, he imagines a grid where customers produce their own power and compete with the local utility. Under Rive's vision for the grid, there's a smaller role — and less profit — for utilities.

"We need them to manage the lines and let the rest be a competitive market. Competition will drive innovation, which will then create products that we couldn't even think of today," he argues.

The big solar companies haven't given up completely on Nevada yet. SolarCity and others plan to challenge the changes to net metering, first in the courts and then with a ballot referendum in November.

The question now is whether Nevada's experience will spread to other states. Solar advocates successfully preserved incentives next door in California. Now they're focused on another sunny state, Arizona, where the next battle over residential solar incentives appears to be heating up.


AG Lynch: DOJ Has Discussed Whether to Pursue Civil Action Against Climate Change Deniers

Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged Wednesday that there have been discussions within the Department of Justice about possibly pursuing civil action against so-called climate change deniers.

"This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on," Lynch said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Justice Department operations.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) raised the issue, drawing a comparison between possible civil action against climate change deniers and civil action that the Clinton administration pursued against the tobacco industry for claiming that the science behind the dangers of tobacco was unsettled.

"The similarities between the mischief of the tobacco industry pretending that the science of tobacco’s dangers was unsettled and the fossil fuel industry pretending that the science of carbon emissions’ dangers is unsettled has been remarked on widely, particularly by those who study the climate denial apparatus that the fossil fuel industry has erected," Whitehouse said.

"Under President Clinton, the Department of Justice brought and won a civil RICO action against the tobacco industry for its fraud. Under President Obama, the Department of Justice has done nothing so far about the climate denial scheme," Whitehouse added.

"A request for action by the Department of Justice has been referred by you to the FBI. My question to you is other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?" he asked.

"Senator, thank you for raising that issue, and thank you for your work in this area. I know your commitment is deep. This matter has been discussed. We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on. I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time," said Lynch.

"I will look into that and get back to you, but I’m not aware of a civil referral outside of the one that you just raised," added Lynch.

"Are there any civil cases with the United States as plaintiff within DOJ’s civil division in which the FBI is preparing the case for the civil division?" Whitehouse asked.

"Are you regarding climate change issues?" Lynch asked.

"Regarding any matter," Whitehouse asked.

"I couldn’t give you that information right now in terms of whether or not—" Lynch responded.

"I will take that as a question for the record," Whitehouse said.


Clinton's Ecofascist Fracking Play

People on the Left may think they see a difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as the two duke it out for the Democrat nomination, but those of us with common sense and constitutional principles only see two peas from the same pod.

Sanders has made no bones about his desire to grow the government to such an extent that it basically runs the means of production in this country. He’s a socialist, and that’s how socialists think. Clinton has pretended to embrace a (slightly) more laissez faire view of the economy that would allow business to take more care of itself. But that’s coming from a candidate who advocates lavish corporate welfare through the Export-Import Bank. Poor Boeing can’t compete without massive taxpayers subsidies, don’t you know.

Sunday’s debate was a good example of the commonality that exists between the two leftists. Sanders was asked about hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" — the process by which American energy companies have produced a glut of oil and natural gas, thereby saving individual consumers hundreds of dollars a year. Sanders didn’t miss a beat, saying he does not support fracking and would ban the practice outright. Clinton’s answer was more nuanced on its face, but came out the same way.

Take a gander at this tripe from candidate Clinton: "You know, I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it — number three — unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using. So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place. And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated."

In short, after a bizarre and half-hearted paean to federalism, Clinton went on to conclude she intends to regulate fracking out of existence just like Barack Obama has done with the coal industry. But that is an utterly foolish move.

The low gas prices that Obama has taken credit for are largely a result of fracking. Again, the practice makes natural gas and oil cheaper to extract and energy more affordable. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average price of natural gas dropped close to 60% between 2008 and 2012. Furthermore, consumers have saved between $63 and $248 billion in 2013 alone, according to the Institute for Energy Research, and the savings continue to add up. The IER reported that without fracking, crude oil would cost $12 to $40 per barrel more. Not to mention that we’d be paying foreign countries for more oil.

These savings have been most beneficial to the poorest families in the country because they spend a larger part of their income on energy and transportation than wealthier families do. At a time when energy prices, like health care costs, are rising so fast they threaten the financial well-being of millions of families, any relief is welcome. And that’s particularly true of the relief at the gas pump coming from fracking.

Even the EPA, the ungodly monster that has become the principal tool for the Left’s forcible conversion of the American economy, has obliquely supported fracking. A draft report the agency published in June last year states, "We did not find evidence that [fracking] mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water sources in the United States."

Clinton is having none of it. She has decided to go after the ecofascist vote and drive yet another clean, economical energy source into oblivion. Her proposals will drive up energy costs, but she doesn’t care. After all, it suits her politically, and she’s not exactly dead broke either. When was the last time she drove herself anywhere or filled up her gas tank? Or worried about whether she could pay her heating bill?

She remains shockingly unconcerned about the impact her policies would have on one of the constituencies she is supposedly looking out for. But, then again, it’s not about how Clinton can help. It’s about what her supporters can do to help her.


Britain: The Heathrow 13 are far from heroic

They aren't political activists, they're climate snobs

A group of 13 climate protesters, who broke into Heathrow airport and occupied a runway to stop planes from taking off, have narrowly avoided jail. The six women and seven men were given suspended jail terms of six weeks, meaning they will avoid prison completely if they stay out of trouble for 12 months. In a video on the court steps, the protesters, known as the Heathrow 13, promised they ‘would be back’, and suggested they were victims of a miscarriage of justice, even though the group had tweeted photographs of themselves in the act of committing the crime.

One thing that was immediately noticeable was just how posh they all were. Almost all of them had master’s degrees and PhDs. One was a lawyer working for a climate charity, who managed to obtain a character reference from Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party. These were well-connected, educated people who made a decision to cause a major disruption that affected a large number of people. Their demonstration meant that 25 flights had to be cancelled.

Now, I would not have celebrated if the protesters had been jailed. But I do think that this contemptuous, sneering expression of elite climate snobbery was criminal. These were not downtrodden political prisoners being abused by the system – they were foppish middle-class climate snobs who thought that the law should not apply to them.

They did not want to accept responsibility for what they had done. They thought that their particular mode of politics was so important, so vital, that it had to be imposed on ignorant holidaymakers for their own good. And they even argued during their trial that their actions were ‘reasonable, proportionate and necessary to prevent death and serious injury via air pollution and climate change’. In other words, their defence was that they should be able to do what they think is right no matter how it impacts on the nasty people who want to go on holiday.

So if these protesters had been jailed, this would not have been any kind of miscarriage of justice. They were guilty. And this was not the first time some of the protesters had been up before the courts in relation to climate protesting: one had a previous conviction for aggravated trespass and others had cautions and warnings relating to climate protesting. While Oxfam announced that the sentences were ‘harsh’, they were in fact remarkably lenient. This is especially true given that many of the group had previous convictions.

The contemptuous nature of the protest made it all the more galling that the protesters received high-profile support. Bennett tweeted that avoiding jail was ‘justice’. Others called the 13 ‘heroic’, and said we should all be grateful for their ‘sacrifice’. Considering the demonstrations of this tedious middle-class mob were aimed squarely at us, the cheap-flight-hopping masses, it’s hard to imagine a more brash expression of contempt.

No doubt this won’t be the last we see of the Heathrow 13, who will probably continue to find new and equally stupid ways to disrupt the lives of normal people. No doubt they will continue to rely on their posh mates and gangs of earnest supporters to bail them out of trouble. No doubt they will continue to try to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. So, as a society, perhaps we should impose our own punishment: to become stronger in our resolve to defend the things these people despise. We should fly more, and fight for the right for more people to be able to fly more. Maybe then the Heathrow 13 will finally get the punishment they deserve.



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


11 March, 2016

Earth's 'delicate balance' has shifted: Emissions now far outweigh the amount of CO2 the planet can absorb, study finds

What is claimed below may well be true but there is no demonstration that it has any effect on global temperature

Despite claims and reports blaming global warming on human activity, it has reached a point where Earth is itself contributing to climate change.

Until now, the Earth's landmass had been considered a 'sink' for carbon dioxide, soaking up some of the emissions of the greenhouse gas from human activity.

But after being overwhelmed by other greenhouse gas emissions, scientists now believe the land has reached saturation point and the emission of gas from plants, for example, is contributing to global warming.

In a new study, an international team of researchers has demonstrated that emissions of methane and nitrous oxide have 'overwhelmingly' surpassed the land's ability to soak up carbon dioxide.

They suggest that this saturation means the land may now actually be contributing to climate change, instead of slowing it down.

The scientists looked at the 'biogenic fluxes' of the three main greenhouse gases over the last three decades, and subtracted out emissions that existed in pre-industrial times.

These biogenic sources include gas emitted by plants, animals, and microbes, such as methane produced by wetlands, and nitrous oxide released by soil.

But the amounts of these gases have been changed by human activity, plus new sources created by sewage, fertilisers, and cattle.

The scientists added up all the biogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, then subtracted those that occurred naturally.

The study did not include gas emissions from fossil fuel burning or natural gas production.

The surprise finding in the report is that human impact on biogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions far outweighs the impact on the uptake of carbon dioxide.

In other words, they say this so-called terrestrial biosphere is now contributing to climate change rather than mitigating climate change - and it's all because of human action.

Scientists at the Carnegie Institute's department of global ecology in Washington DC acknowledge that this runs counter to conventional thinking.

They said that previous studies had focused only on carbon dioxide rather than considering methane and nitrous oxide, and had emphasised the mitigating effect of carbon uptake.

Lead author Hanqin Tain, director of the International Center for Climate and Global Change Research at Auburn University, said: 'This reveals for the first time that human activities have transformed the land biosphere to become a contributor to climate change.'

They added that reducing the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture, particularly in southern Asia, could help to mitigate climate change.

The findings have been published in the journal Nature.

If the land is losing its ability to soak up carbon dioxide as the scientists claim, then it marks a worrying trend.

Researchers have previously suggested that the world's oceans are losing their ability to absorb greenhouse gases.

This points to a shift in the fine global balance, where carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere by the land and oceans.

Alongside increased atmospheric concentration of the gas, the warming oceans are not able to store as much carbon, meaning they are able to soak up less carbon dioxide.


Record Warm Winter: What Alarmists Overlook

Meteorological winter is now in the books, and if you live anywhere in the U.S. you won’t be surprised to learn it was a warm one. Virtually every region experienced warmer, and in many cases much warmer, than normal conditions. In fact, persistent intrusions of mild air, promulgated by a super El Niño, pushed Winter ‘15-16 temperatures to their seasonal warmest in at least 121 years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the mean temperature for December, January and February was an impressive 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average, and satellite measurements confirm that February’s warmth dwarfed all previous records. However, that’s not to say it was “America’s year without a winter,” as stipulated in a Washington Post headline.

For example, numerous cities in the Mid Atlantic broke record snowfall during January’s epic blizzard — humorously nicknamed “Snowzilla” — and in February the Boston Globe reported, “Valentine’s Day in Boston was the coldest on record for more than 80 years, as temperatures plunged to levels that could even keep an intrepid Cupid indoors. Sunday morning, the temperature plummeted to minus 9, with a windchill of minus 36, shattering the record by 6 degrees.” That’s a remarkable feat in any winter, but even more so considering the strength of El Niño. And let’s not forget history. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang notes, “The warmth of this winter marked a stunning reversal from the previous year in New England, when it witnessed one of its harshest winters on record.” Extreme temperature swings are more common than we realize. Yet how quickly we forget them…

There’s no question El Niño drove much of this past winter’s warmth. The question, as always, is to what extent. Meteorologist Joe Bastardi stipulates that we’re now in a test period. What comes up must come down, and with La Niña looming, these trends should go the opposite direction in the years ahead. But regardless of what the next few years bring, what we’ll never know conclusively is how today’s trends compare to the past thousands of years. Are we experiencing climate change? You bet. Is it something to be so concerned about that we rearrange the entire economy to combat it? Probably not.


Senator Slams State Dept. for $500M Payment to Green Climate Fund

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday slammed the administration’s handover of $500 million to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, asking a State Department official how the “handout to foreign bureaucrats” could be justified at a time when there were “real problems” that need to be addressed at home.

Barrasso told Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom he viewed the payment to the “new international climate change slush fund” – the first installment of a $3 billion pledge – as both a misuse of taxpayer dollars and a violation of legislation that prohibits federal agencies from spending federal funds in advance or in excess of an appropriation.

“It appears to be latest example of the administration going around Congress because the American people don’t really support what the president is doing with this initiative,” he said.

Higginbottom, appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, confirmed that an agreement for the $500 million had been signed on Monday.

“We have reviewed our authorities and made a determination that we can make this payment to the Green Climate Fund,” she said. “We do not believe we are in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, and clearly our lawyers and others have looked at our authorities and our abilities to do this.”

“I firmly oppose what the president is doing here and this misuse, I believe, of taxpayer dollars, I think completely in violation of the law,” Barrasso told her.

“The United States’ national debt currently is $19 trillion. We have struggling communities across this country in need of help,” he said.

“There was a debate in Flint the other night and I just think it’s hard to explain to taxpayers in struggling communities across our country – even places like Flint – that the president and this administration is willing to give $500 million as a handout to foreign bureaucrats instead of addressing real problems here at home.”

The GCF is designed to help developing countries curb greenhouse gas emissions and cope with challenges attributed to climate change, such as floods, drought and rising sea levels. President Obama in November 2014 pledged $3 billion for the initiative, which aims to raise $100 billion a year globally from public and private sources by 2020.

Barrasso noted that Congress has not authorized or appropriated any funding for the GCF, and that the most recent fiscal year appropriations bill also “specifically prohibited the transfer of funds to create new programs.”

He asked Higginbottom how the administration was able to divert and reprogram funds to meet Obama’s pledge.

“We reviewed the authorities and opportunities available to us to do that, and believe we are fully compliant with that,” she said. “I’ll be happy to follow up with you and your staff.”

‘Nothing is overfunded’

Barrasso asked what accounts had been overfunded to the extent that allowed the State Department to divert $500 million away from them, to the GCF.

Higginbottom pointed out that the administration asked for funding for the GCF in both its FY 2016 and FY 2017 requests.

“As we do our budgeting process we didn’t look around and say ‘Where are excess funds we can put in this?’ We built it into our budget request,” she said.

“What exact accounts were then overfunded to be able to move the money out?” Barrasso pressed.

“Nothing is overfunded,” Higginbottom replied. “We looked across the appropriations bills and made allocations based on what our budget was and what resources were provided to us.”

The GCF currently has $10.3 billion in pledges from more than 40 governments. Aside from Obama’s $3 billion pledge, the next biggest ones have come from Japan ($1.5 bn), Britain($1.2 bn) and Germany ($1.0 bn).

Last year, Republican lawmakers threatened to block funding for the fund unless the U.N. climate agreement reached in Paris last December was submitted to the Senate for ratification.

Barrasso and 36 other GOP senators warned the president that they would block taxpayer funds for the GCF “until the forthcoming international climate agreement is submitted to the Senate for its constitutional advice and consent.”

The administration maintains that the agreement reached in Paris does not require additional Senate advise and consent.

Nonetheless, when Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill days after the Paris deal was finalized, the package neither blocked nor included funding for the GCF.

Asked at the time whether the administration would as a result be able to repurpose funds for the GCF under the omnibus, White House press secretary Josh Earnest replied that, “based on what we have reviewed so far, there are no restrictions in our ability to make good on the president’s promise to contribute to the Green Climate Fund.”


Climate change isn’t starving us

A paper published today in the Lancet claims that, thanks to climate change, more than half a million people per year will die due to lower food availability in 2050. It’s a shocking figure. But a bit of digging quickly reveals that such claims should be treated with a whole tub of salt.

The paper is the result of entering estimates into a model on a variety of factors: how much temperatures and rainfall will change, the ability of the world to grow more food and the health impacts of eating one kind of diet over another. The headline results are that global food production will be 3.2 per cent lower thanks to a warming world than it would otherwise have been, with falls of four per cent in fruit and vegetable consumption and 0.7 per cent in red meat consumption. The world will produce a lot more food in 2050 than it does now, but not quite as much it would have done if global temperatures had remained the same. Or at least, that’s the claim.

First, a bit of perspective, with a few things we know. Currently, the global death rate per year is estimated at 7.8 deaths per every 1,000 people, or 0.78 per cent per year. It is also estimated that the world population will be around nine billion by 2050. So, if the death rate remained the same, by 2050, roughly 70million people would die each year. If the paper is correct, then based on these back-of-an-envelope figures, climate change would increase deaths by less than one per cent compared to a steady-temperature scenario.

Given that the figure of half a million is based on a whole host of assumptions and estimates, and that computer models are always imperfect, this tiny relative outcome is meaningless. The potential inaccuracies far outweigh the end result. But it gets worse. The biggest cause of death found (amounting to more than the final result) came from a decline in fruit and vegetable consumption – 534,000. The increased number of deaths from being underweight was cancelled out in the model by the fall in deaths from obesity and being overweight, presumably because chubby people would have less to eat. This assumes that eating a certain amount of fruit and veg, or being obese, are huge risk factors in and of themselves for health. These are contested ideas, to say the least.

In any event, the paper doesn’t seem to have considered the proper counterfactual – not just zero climate change, but the policies that could achieve zero climate change. What would happen to food availability in the future if we quickly dispensed with fossil fuels for transport, agricultural machinery, fertilisers, pesticides, etc? Surely that would reduce food production and raise prices? How does the world’s diet look in that scenario?

But the purpose of this paper is not to give us a sensible guide to the future. The aim is to produce a scary headline in order to galvanise action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet a dash for low-carbon alternatives would be much more likely to result in poorer diets and mass malnutrition. What’s healthy about that?


The Green/Left’s Fuel Economy Regulations Could Cost You $3,800

As Michigan voters head to the polls on Tuesday, they should ask candidates whether they will leave in place costly regulations that have added thousands to the price of new cars and depressed sales for the state’s iconic industry.

Federal regulations that force ever-increasing automobile fuel economy standards cost consumers thousands of dollars more than what they save on using less gas. These burdensome regulations also reduce new car purchases and, therefore, auto worker employment.

How much more expensive are the gas mileage gains?

Scholars estimated that the new standards would add at least $3,800 to the cost of a car in 2016 and at least $7,200 in 2025. This cost includes the gasoline savings. Empirical Heritage Foundation research supports those estimates. You get only what you pay for, and you have to pay for what you get.

Getting cars to meet the tighter efficiency standards means deploying expensive technology instead of using cost-effective engineering.

High prices are bad for consumers and bad for auto workers. At higher prices, consumers demand fewer vehicles, and automakers hire fewer workers.

Thus, fewer U.S. auto workers are employed now than in 2007 despite a drop in wages. Although the regulations may not hurt many corporations as much (because they can lay off workers and pass higher costs on to consumers), consumers and auto workers have been the lab rats of this failed environmentalist experiment.


Australia’s record-breaking heatwaves haven’t convinced its ruling party of climate change

Nor should they.  Below is just another exercise in cherrypicking by hack journalist Steve Mollman.  The BoM says 2015 was only Australia's 5th hottest year so it's unlikely that much has changed in two months. 

An average implies events both above and below the average so determined cherry pickers can always find some places that are above average.  It does seem that parts of Southern Australia have had a lot of unusually hot weather in recent months but some parts of Northern Australia have been unusually cool -- creating a balance that produced the BoM figure. 

And if it's only anthropogenic global warming that could have created the unusual highs in some places, how come it was so hot in Sydney in 1790 (yes: 1790; not 1970) that birds were falling out of the trees with heat exhaustion?  Watkin Tench recorded it all.  See here and also here for a confirmation of Tench's observations

The guff below is just another example of the famous but illogical Warmist dictum that hot weather proves global warming but cold weather does not prove global cooling

The guff appeared in an online business magazine called "Quartz".  They claim that they publish "bracingly creative and intelligent journalism with a broad worldview".  On the basis of the guff below I would say that they publish unintelligent hack journalism with no originality and a conventional worldview

It’s late summer/early autumn in Australia, and few can remember the weather being so persistently hot this time of year.

Mildura, a small town about six hours to the northwest of Melbourne, has suffered through eight straight days of extreme heat, with temperatures of around 40 °C (104 °F). Sydney, meanwhile, has had a record 30-plus straight days above 26 ? (79°F), breaking the previous record of 19 set in 2014. Melbourne, a famously drizzly city, yesterday (March 8) endured the hottest night on record for March, with temperatures lingering around 30 °C (86 °F) and residents tossing and turning in their beds.

Climate change has been politicized all around the world, but perhaps nowhere so intensely as Australia, where the previous prime minister, the Liberal party’s Tony Abbott, was adamant in his denial of it, and his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, is under pressure to hold hearings on it.

Scientists are seizing on the heatwaves now hitting southeastern Australia as proof that something is seriously amiss. They “have the fingerprints of climate change all over them,” Will Steffen, a climate science professor at Australian National University, told the Guardian.

Andrew King, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne, told the heatwave could be attributed to climate change. “The future is not looking good,” he said. “We’ll continue to get future record-breaking heat extremes, and there will be hotter summers with bigger impacts in Australia.”

In politics, however, there remains stiff resistance to the very idea of manmade climate change. Many in the ruling center-right Liberal party agreed when Abbott famously said in 2009, “The argument [on climate change] is absolute crap… however, the politics of this are tough for us… 80% of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

Although the current prime minister, Turnbull, was seen as a repudiator of Abbott’s position when he took office last September, conservative members of his Liberal party warned him not to abandon the party’s stance of questioning the reality of climate change. Turnbull favors cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions—for which he has been heckled by members of his own party.

Today (March 9) conservative members of the Liberal party in the state of New South Wales formally called upon the Turnbull government to organize a series of public debates to test climate scientists’ claims about global warming.

The opposing Labor party has warned against the move. “If Mr. Turnbull now bends to the will of the NSW Liberals and conducts public debates about climate change,” said Mark Butler, a Labor MP, “he will solidify his party as one of climate change skeptics.”

Victoria, meanwhile, is suffering from both blistering heat and a drought. “It’s just hotter than normal,” one farmer and sheep rancher told the Age, “and that might be the way we’re going, given climate change.”



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 March, 2016

Another coverup: NOAA Radiosonde Data Shows No Warming For 58 Years

In their “hottest year ever” press briefing, NOAA included a  graph, which stated that they have a 58 year long radiosonde temperature record. But they only showed the last 37 years in the graph.

Here is why they are hiding the rest of the data. The earlier data showed as much pre-1979 cooling as the post-1979 warming.

I combined the two graphs at the same scale below, and put a horizontal red reference line in, which shows that the earth’s atmosphere has not warmed at all since the late 1950’s

(Bigger graph here)

The omission of this data from the NOAA report, is just their latest attempt to defraud the public. NOAA’s best data shows no warming for 60 years. But it gets worse. The graph in the NOAA report shows about 0.5C warming from 1979 to 2010, but their original published data shows little warming during that period.

Due to Urban Heat Island Effects, the NOAA surface data shows nearly one degree warming from 1979 to 2010, but their original radiosonde data showed little warming during that time. Global warming theory is based on troposphere warming, which is why the radiosonde data should be used by modelers – instead of the UHI contaminated surface data

More HERE. (See the original for links and more graphics) 

The Charade of Industrial Wind

Maine abounds in natural beauty. Historically there have always been practical and impractical uses of the Maine geography and waters. In recent years we have been brow beaten by a corrupt government philosophy into allowing an ever increasing degree of impractical destruction of Maine by the industrial wind industry, related power companies and businesses.

The majority of Mainers have no idea how it has been happening, and they are being told over and over that this is all needed to “combat climate change,” and therefore it is all a “virtuous argument.” You don’t agree? You’ll be demonized as a “denier” or worse. Never mind that the record through emails shows that the proponents have colluded beyond public purview for years to achieve their aims.

Big Wind — how did it happen here? May 8, 2007 our then-Gov. John Baldacci foisted on Maine both a “Task Force on Wind Power Development in Maine,” and eventually what became known as the (never debated by the legislature!) “Expedited wind legislation,” LD 2283 in 2008, making possible a flood of practically unstoppable industrial wind projects planned for Maine. The industry began to ally with environmental groups to push this mantra of “renewables & green energy,” and showered some organizations and communities with funds to cement their allegiances.

According to Greenwashing, money does a great job at quieting potential critics when they see their agendas being funded by all this “green,” and they have their virtuous argument — it is to save the planet from “climate change.” Just ignore the thousands of dead eagles, and other birds and bats … and as long as the tax breaks and DOE grants keep rolling in to the developers.

Since 2000, we’ve been treated to the separation of electric power generation from the transmission line side of the business because it was said to be unfair and monopolistic to control both and it looked good politically at the time.

After the expedited wind law (LD 2283) in Maine was passed, it needed to be massaged into shape by the very industry it would benefit even more with the help of their lawyers and cronies in the legislature. A depressing 171 pages of this record is available to read online.

Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting did an excellent investigative work on this back in 2010, which demonstrates the pervasive corruption of these special interests in Maine.

In the 171 pages of documents, one sees how then-Senate President Justin Alfond worked with the wind industry lawyers to concoct, and then try to pass additional legislation that they wanted through LD 1750. Amazingly, they failed to get the votes to pass it. A rare victory for citizens and common sense.

Gov. Baldacci’s Public Utilities Commission chairman, Kurt Adams, receives over a million dollars of stock options from First Wind while still at the PUC. This gets little to no consideration the Maine media.

While still at the PUC, Adams is reported by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting to have been interviewing at First Wind for employment. Shockingly, he then transitions to First Wind as their new Director of Transmission.

Attorney General Janet Mills investigates Kurt Adams apparent conflict of interest stock options, and decided — surprise — nothing to see here either.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the PUC begins to consider the $1.4 billion transmission facilities upgrade at CMP. This request was the largest the PUC had ever handled to date, which they grant CMP. The transmission upgrade is needed, according to CMP, to provide transmission capacity and reliability to get power from Northern Maine wind projects (extant and proposed) to out-of-state markets. A kiss for the wind industry, financed by the ratepayers.

In the legislature, the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, known as EUT, helps out the industry and delays consideration of virtually any citizen initiated bills opposing Industrial Wind, calls for a study of wind energy issues, and then ignores it. The co-chair at the time, John Hinck, squelches citizen wind bills while his wife, Juliet Browne is the wind industry’s top attorney in Maine. One supposes that could be just coincidence.

In 2009, Gov. Baldacci attends a trip to Europe, hosted by energy giant Iberdrola (who now owns CMP), to gain a better understanding of the useful intersection of government policy and the wind industry there. He appears to very impressed and enthusiastic upon his return to Maine, commenting then that current Maine laws prevent entities such as Iberdrola that own transmission grids, which they do, from also owning generation projects — wind — which they want to now. This is a problem that he plans to work on getting resolved. No matter that in 2000 it was dogma that this combination led to a monopoly.

Currently, the EUT is discussing this exact issue: LD 1513 An Act to Clarify Laws Relating to Affiliate Ownership of Electric Generation (Rep. Dion of Portland), with the proponents pushing for legitimizing generation and transmission under one owner yet again.

Fast forward to 2016, with the quite unforeseen (and unjustifiable) Congressional extension of tax breaks and production tax credits to economically unsound wind and solar industries (see SunEdison and Solyndra as paltry examples), the rush is on to nail those permits, get the projects unstoppably blessed, and get government funds flowing from the 1603 grant program.

Now more industrial wind projects are proposed for Maine to supply the “green energy” demands of states south of us that don’t want — or allow — wind turbines. Who in Maine really needs eagles or those pesky “visual impact statements?”

Finally, congratulations to former Gov. Baldacci. In December, it was announced that he is now the Vice Chairman of Iberdrola’s Wind Division, Avangrid. What a surprise.


Nature Unbound Uproots Environmental Policy Myths

What if what we think we know about ecology and environmental policy is wrong? What if U.S. environmental laws often make things far worse? What if there were a better way to improve our natural (and human) environment? Answering these questions and drawing out the implications is the achievement of the new Independent Institute book, Nature Unbound: Bureaucracy vs. the Environment, by Randy T Simmons, Ryan M. Yonk, and Kenneth J. Sim—a detailed and hard-hitting critique of hallowed, major U.S. environmental policies enacted since the 1960s.

The most celebrated environmental laws of the past fifty years, Nature Unbound argues, have blocked a much better approach to conservation and environmental quality. The Clean Water Act has slowed down progress at state and local levels. The Endangered Species Act has undermined the protection of threatened species. Policies to shield wilderness areas from all human activities (even conservation management) undermine biodiversity. And renewable energy legislation has mostly wasted resources rather than conserved them.

These deeply flawed environmental laws, the authors argue, rest on two faulty pillars: an outdated theory about ecosystems (the “balance of nature” doctrine) and a mistaken view of the political process (a childlike naiveté about electoral politics and government bureaucracy). But Nature Unbound offers more than a critique of false assumptions and flawed policies. It also offers a pathway toward sensible policies: six bold principles to help us rethink environmental objectives, align incentives with goals, and affirm the notion that human beings are an integral part of the natural order and merit no less consideration than earth’s other treasures.


Democrat folly in Virginia

As a governor, if your state was given the chance to defer millions, possibly billions, of dollars in burdensome and unnecessary energy mandates, would you accept it? Even some liberal governors would likely answer in the affirmative, and happily at that. Unfortunately, in states like Virginia, the opposite is true. Last month the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the EPA’s power-grabbing Clean Power Plan (CPP). But while the ruling was applauded by more than two dozen states, Democrat Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe decided to ignore the warning signals and overhaul his state’s energy sector anyway.

Writing in the Washington Examiner, attorney Terry M. Jarrett says, “Virginia, for some reason, has chosen to move forward with the task of rebuilding its entire power generation sector. This means the state will still undertake the construction of new grid infrastructure, including the many new transmission lines and towers needed to carry electricity from planned wind and solar assemblies.” It’s a curious decision — one, because CPP’s legal requirements were nullified (albeit temporarily but hopefully permanently at a later date), and two, renewable technology is nowhere near prime time. And keep in mind, nearly 30% of the state’s electricity comes from coal. “The question,” Jarrett posits, “is why Virginia would bear this cost when it is currently under no legal obligation to do so.” Is it ostensibly to address “climate change”? If so, consider that by the EPA’s own estimates the regulations would slow global warming by just 0.02 degrees Celsius.

A court will eventually decide whether or not to strike down the Clean Power Plan, but Gov. McAuliffe is looking beyond that. And he’s willing to extract a hefty amount of tax dollars from Virginians to enact a flawed energy policy. Since Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, voters have ousted 11 Democrat governors. If McAuliffe isn’t careful, he could become the 12th.


Fuel Standards Belong in the Junkyard

Far too often, government regulations are proven to be costly, ineffective and of no benefit to economic growth — worse, they hamper it. Yet bureaucrats in Washington wield their power to influence markets and industries and for the most part, they get away with it because either too many Americans don’t care or they just don’t know how much these regulations cost.

Take fuel standards for instance. Government regulations on the auto industry and on those who supply the fuel to run those cars have not helped but hurt our nation’s economy. Furthermore, many in Washington have used the agenda of combatting climate change as cause for continuing or implementing more regulations — without any concern for the economic ramifications of doing so.

Of the many regulations foisted upon our economy, one of the most costly is the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. In a detailed report, The Heritage Foundation offers some keen insight into the government’s involvement with regulating the fuel standards by which auto manufacturers must abide or pay hefty fines.

For starters, the intent of the federal government regulating fuel standards was to decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil. Good intentions, but the consequences have been staggering. The cost-to-benefit ratio is unreasonable and even if the sole purpose of the CAFE standards were to fight climate change there are miniscule results.

(And it’s worth noting we’ve reduced our dependence on foreign oils by something leftists hate — drilling for our own oil.)

In 2009, the Obama administration implemented regulations required by Congress and as a result raised the CAFE standards by approximately nine miles per gallon through model year 2016. Many economists warned of the costs of regulating fuel standards. Yet despite their warnings, the government opted for regulations. The pervasive argument seems to be if you can’t tax it, regulate it. But regulation is just another form of taxation. The fact that it’s harder for consumers to see is precisely why government likes it so much.

With the increase in CAFE standards, there is a higher cost for consumers. According to several economic scholars, the standards will cost consumers an estimated $3,800 more per new vehicle. On top of that, the average price of a vehicle in the U.S. is about $6,200 above trends in new vehicle purchases in other parts of the world. The rise in costs alone should arguably be enough to scrap the CAFE standards, but the Environmental Protection Agency has stepped in and is now using the fuel standards as a tool to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in an effort to fight climate change.

Obama recently boasted that the change in fuel standards, which mandates that the average fleet of new vehicles meets the 49.6 miles per gallon mark by model year 2025, will reduce global temperatures by a whopping .007 degrees Celsius by the end of 2016. By the year 2100, our great grandchildren should see a decrease in temperature of .018 degrees Celsius. In other words, like nearly every other climate change regulation, the fuel standards won’t make a dent in the overall temperature of our planet. Just ignore the mounting costs and move right along.

There are several unintended consequences of the CAFE standards as well, which essentially counters any reason for making them permanent to fight climate change.

First, there is what is called the “rebound effect.” According to The Heritage Foundation, “When consumers are forced to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, the cost per mile falls (since their cars use less gas) and they drive more. This offsets part of the fuel economy gain and adds congestion and road repair costs. Similarly, the rising price of new vehicles causes consumers to delay upgrades, leaving older vehicles on the road longer.”

Second, there is a high probability that millions of consumers will be forced out of the new car market altogether simply because people will not be able to afford the higher priced cars due to the fuel standards.

Finally, there is also the probability that the American Big Three automakers — Ford, GM and Chrysler, the latter two of which taxpayers bailed out a few years back — will see their corporate profits decline, while foreign auto manufacturers' corporate profits increase.

Keep in mind that these CAFE standards are not the only hindrance to American consumers. Requiring consumers to pump more ethanol into their fuel tanks is another federal regulation on our transportation that is both hurting consumers and harming the environment.

It’s past time that the government scrapped the fuel standard mandates (among a host of other damaging regulations), but until we have a new administration that values constitutionally limited government, little will be done to change anything for the better. So consider this issue when casting your vote.


The War on GMOs: Coming Soon to a Kitchen Near You?

Leave it to Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders' home state of Vermont to demonstrate another case of government ineptitude. Beginning July 1, the state will “require labels on all genetically modified foods produced or sold within the state,” notes a Wall Street Journal editorial. And for what? Despite there being thousands of positive studies on GMOs, “consumers who see a ‘No GMO’ label near a ‘No TransFat’ mark might think there is reason to avoid GMOs, though no evidence supports that conclusion,” adds the Journal. Here’s something else to chew on:

    “The Vermont scheme is more expensive than pasting a sticker on a box of crackers. Ingredients would need to be segregated from the grain elevator to the grocery store. No brand could label only what sells in Vermont, lest an illicit bag of Cheetos cross the New Hampshire border and incur the $1,000 a day fine.”

Like every regulation, the cost is actually passed down to consumers. Companies may decide to ditch GMOs completely, which means resorting to pricier ingredients. That in turn results in higher costs at the grocery store. The Journal wryly notes, “Among the law’s defenders is Democratic presidential unhopeful and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and it’s rich to see the guy who rails against the 1% defending Vermont’s 0.2% of the U.S. population dictating food prices for the other 99.8%. Another irony is Sen. Sanders’s supposed loathing for special interests: The Vermont law exempts milk and cheese, which is great news for the state’s large dairy industry.”

The fear is this scheme will go mainstream: “Enter Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who is moving a bill to establish a voluntary federal program for labeling GMOs. His proposal would pre-empt Vermont and direct USDA to create a standard label that companies could choose to put on products. This is unnecessary: USDA already runs a voluntary GMO-labeling program, and it’s called the organic seal. But some 20 state legislatures are considering labeling bills, and the Roberts plan would thwart a patchwork of state regulation — and might win 60 votes in the Senate.” What’s worse — that lawmakers can’t find more important things to fix, or that they believe Americans are too stupid to make their own choices? If they are truly worried about hunger and poverty in America, they would stop waging a war on a harmless process that makes food cheaper and more readily available.



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 March, 2016

Hooray!  A study that comes to a logical conclusion about warming

Warming causes more rain!  Who woulda thunk it?  The journal article is "More extreme precipitation in the world’s dry and wet regions".  The findings run counter to the usual Warmist claim that dry regions will get drier

The latest climate predictions show that both wet and dry places will experience more rainfall in the future

The study was carried out by Dr Markus Donat and his team at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Using a combination of observations and climate models, Dr Donat found that extreme daily precipitation over the last six decades shows 'robust increases' in both wet and dry areas.

He found that precipitation extremes have increased by about 1 to 2 per cent per decade since 1950, in both wet and dry regions, and there are 'statistically significant' trends towards wetter conditions for both total precipitation and extreme events.

Critically, the steady increases in rainfall were found to be directly related to the rise in global temperature.

With temperatures expected to rise further, according to climate models, this will mean more rainfall everywhere - including places that have historically been dry.

This surprise finding overturns what was previously expected.

When analysing local rainfall patterns, Dr Donat reports that 'a wet-get-wetter, dry-get-drier pattern was not seen over most global land areas.'

Projections show the trend of increasing rainfall is expected to continue until at least the end of the 21st century.

The researchers said this is due to the increased moisture content the atmosphere can carry as it becomes warmer.

While increased rainfall in the world's drought zones may be welcomed, the researchers say this may not lead to more water being available because it could evaporate quickly.

It might, though, lead to many more cases of flooding because these regions do not have the right infrastructure to cope with extreme rainfall.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Climate Change. 


It’s Coming….’Climate Hustle’ film hits Theatres May 2nd! One night national theater event! – Watch New Trailer

Watch Now: Hannity on Fox News features exclusive clips of ‘Climate Hustle’: First Time Broadcast of Select Clips

“Climate Hustle” assembles an impressive group of experts in climate science and policy, many of whom worked on the UN’s climate assessments, but left after the UN ignored overwhelming evidence that contradicts its position.

Nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas calls Climate Hustle “tremendous” and says “anyone who still believes in ‘climate change’ after watching this film needs the type of reprogramming given to cult members.”

Noted climatologist Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who is featured in the film, adds “Climate Hustle is a refreshing and entertaining antidote to the sillier and alarming claims about climate change and its impacts that people regularly hear from politicians and the media.”


House Natural Resources Chairman: EPA’s Removal of Gold Mine Plug Was ‘Done On Purpose’

The chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources stated that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) removal of a natural plug sealing the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado last August was “done on purpose,” challenging Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to retract her previous testimony that the resulting blowout was “an accident.”

Jewell, whose agency conducted an independent review of the environmental disaster that affected three states, testified on Dec. 9, 2015: “We did not see any deliberate attempt to breach a mine. It was an accident.”

But committee chairman Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) pointed out at a congressional oversight hearing on Monday that according to a subpoenaed email from one of Jewell’s own employees, EPA workers had deliberately been removing parts of the Gold King Mine’s natural plug when the blowout occurred.

“There was nothing unintentional about EPA’s actions with regard to breaching the mine. They fully intended to dig out the plug and breach it. It was a major mistake and due to a lack of engineering planning, but it was done on purpose,” Bishop charged.

The Associated Press reported that a June 2014 EPA work order acknowledged the possibility of a blowout at the abandoned mine that “could cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine.”

The subpoenaed email was sent from Brent Lewis, the Abandoned Mine Lands program lead at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to senior BLM officials on August 7, 2015 – two days after the disaster that sent three million gallons of bright orange toxic wastewater rushing into Colorado’s Cement Creek and Animas and San Juan Rivers.  

Lewis had prepared a summary of the incident after talking to Steven Way, EPA’s on-scene coordinator at the mine, who told him that EPA employees were removing “small portions of the natural plug” from the long inactive gold mine at the time of the blowout.

“On 8/5/2015, the EPA was attempting to relieve hydrologic pressure behind a naturally collapse[d] adit/portal of the Gold King Mine. The EPA's plan was to slowly drain and treat enough mine water in order to access the inner mine working and assess options for controlling its discharge. While removing small portions of the natural plug, the material catastrophically gave-way and released the mine water,” Lewis’ email stated.

The email was one of thousands of heavily-redacted documents released on February 11 by the Department of Interior - the same day the committee released its own investigative report highly critical of both EPA and DOI for a “morass of errors, half-truths, and outright falsehoods” regarding the spill.

“The Committee’s oversight of the Gold King Mine disaster has revealed that each of the three reports issued by EPA and DOI in 2015 contains numerous errors and omissions and demonstrably false information,” the committee report stated, including the “false claim that the EPA crew was digging high when the plug somehow eroded on its own.

“Nevertheless, the EPA’s Internal Review concludes that the EPA crew ‘followed standard procedures of a well thought out work plan’ and that ‘the Adit blowout was likely inevitable.’ Cast in the most favorable light, the EPA Internal Review sets forth the best possible explanation from EPA’s perspective, but it is not the truth,” the committee report stated.

Among many other omissions, DOI’s independent Technical Evaluation of the blowout does not “explain how or why EPA failed to test for hydrostatic pressure” in the abandoned mine before removing “the top four feet of the plug,” the report added.

“The many problems with the Technical Evaluation...make Secretary Jewell’s statement that she is proud of the report all the more astounding.”


Obama’s climate change legacy to be determined by next president

After months of debate and public comments, President Obama’s controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP) was issued in August 2015 and published in the Federal Register on October 23, 2015. But that is hardly the end of the story. Instead the saga is just beginning — with the ending to be written sometime in 2017 and the outcome highly dependent on who resides in the White House.

The CPP is the newest set of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that the Atlantic states: “anchors the Obama administration’s climate-change policy. It seeks to guide local utilities away from coal-fired electricity generation, and toward renewable energy and natural gas” —  with a goal of reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. States are required to submit implementations plans by September 6, 2016 with emission reductions scheduled to begin on January 1, 2022.

Immediately following the rule’s publication, a coalition of 24 states and a coal mining company, led by West Virginia Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, filed a lawsuit to challenge the CPP. Morrisey called it: “flatly illegal and one of the most aggressive executive branch power grabs we’ve seen in a long time.”

The Hill reports: “They are asking the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn the rule. They also want the court to immediately stop its implementation while it works its way through the courts.” Differing from the Cincinnati-based Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that in October issued a stay for the Waters of the U.S. rule, on Jan.  21, 2016, the federal court refused to put a hold on the CPP while the litigation proceeds. It did, however, agree to expedite the case with oral arguments beginning on June 2.

Days later, Jan. 26, in an unusual move, the petitioners — which now include 29 states (Nevada is the latest to oppose CPP, to protect “Nevada’s vital tourism industry.” On Feb. 24, Attorney General Laxalt filed a brief to highlight the federal agency’s overreach and disregard for the rule of law associated with CPP.) and a large group of utility companies and energy industry trade groups — turned to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). Morrisey acknowledged: “While we know a stay request to the Supreme Court isn’t typical at this stage of the proceedings, we must pursue this option to mitigate further damage from this rule.” Knowing that SCOTUS has never before engaged in a case before a federal court even heard the initial arguments, CPP supporters, like Sierra Club Chief Climate Counsel Joanne Spalding, apparently felt confident, calling the appeal: “another ‘Hail Mary’ challenge to the Clean Power Plan.”

Citing SCOTUS’ 2015 ruling that reversed the Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, petitioners argued that the damage from MATS had already been done by the time the decision came down. In a Client Alert, international law firm Milbank — which works in the energy space — said: “The EPA itself acknowledged that the ruling had virtually no impact, as states had already largely complied with the regulation by the time the Court’s order was issued.”

Despite the historic nature of the request, on February 9, in a 5 to 4 majority, SCOTUS granted an emergency stay of CPP. Milbank states: “The issuance of stay signaled that five of the Supreme Court justices had significant reservations about the EPA’s attempt to regulate emissions from power plants in the way the CPP is currently designed. To grant the stay, the Supreme Court must have found that there was a ‘fair prospect’ that a majority of the Court would vote to reverse a judgment if the D.C. Circuit were to uphold the CPP.” Morrisey agrees: “the decision reinforces confidence in the broader challenge as the Supreme Court found the coalition’s arguments strong enough to stop the EPA even before the lawsuit concludes.” The victory means the EPA is prohibited from implementing or enforcing the CPP until the D.C. Circuit issues a decision on the challenge — which is expected as early as this fall. FuelFix reports: “The conventional wisdom is the three-member court panel will rule favorably for the White House.”

As 18 states opposed the application for the stay, whatever decision the lower court reaches, most experts agree SCOTUS will eventually hear the case — likely in 2017.

CPP opponents saw the stay as a sign SCOTUS might strike down the rule. Seth Jaffe, a former president of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, according to the Atlantic, sees it as an “ominous sign for the regulations.” Jaffe said: “One has to conclude that five justices have decided that the rule must go.”

Confidence ebbed, however, with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — just four days after the court’s unprecedented stay order. As a conservative voice on the court, Scalia had a history of limiting government regulation and was a scathing critic of EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on who fills the empty seat, and when, the court’s decision could go one way or the other.

Regardless, the EPA is continuing to move forward and is encouraging states to take voluntary steps toward compliance and is supporting those who do.

States have reacted differently to the stay. Many states, such as Massachusetts, Arizona, and Virginia are moving ahead with their plans. Some are already well into their CPP compliance plans, with California expected to submit its plan ahead of schedule. Ohio Public Utility Commissioner Asim Haque, reports that they were “already close to completion,” but the commission has put analysis on hold for now.

Texas, whose Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) shared the lead with Morrisey on requesting the stay, is in a holding pattern. Toby Baker, a commissioner on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to FuelFix, said: “I’ve watched states get in front of their skis on federal regulations, and then the regulations come out and they don’t match. I do feel like the [clean power plan] will change from what it is right now.”

Following the SCOTUS decision, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from doing any work to prepare for the CPP until the stay expires. Citing “undue burden” on state ratepayers and manufacturers, he argued that the rule could have a “devastating impact.”

Because the SCOTUS stay halts enforcement of the CPP until the court challenge concludes, and delays the EPA’s deadlines, Morrisey and Paxton, in a February 12 letter to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, encouraged them to “put their pencils down.” They point out: states “have no legal obligation to continue with spending taxpayer funds on compliance efforts for a suspended and likely unlawful Power Plan. …Any taxpayer dollars spent during the judicial review process are unnecessary and likely to be entirely wasted.”

Pennsylvania Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy, a leading advocate for the coal industry in his state, argues that there are “serious concerns regarding the resources that will be wasted attempting to develop a compliance plan, at the expense of the taxpayers, for a rule that may be significantly altered or thrown out by the Federal Courts.”

With the court challenge coming up in a few months, last week, February 23, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate EPW Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.), 34 Senators and 171 Representatives filed an amicus brief urging the Circuit Court to “block the EPA’s attempts to transform the nation’s electricity sector.” As the press release states, the lawmakers believe the rule “goes well beyond the clear statutory directive.” It points out: “States will face unprecedented new regulatory burdens, electricity ratepayers will be subject to billions of dollars in compliance costs, and American workers and their families will experience the hardship of job losses due to power plant shutdowns, higher electricity prices, and overall diminishment of the nation’s global economic competitiveness.”

Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) says he joined his colleagues in filing the brief because “The EPA’s actions are clearly illegal and violate the expressed intent of Congress.” He sees that his state has been singled out. The initial proposed rule required South Dakota to reduce emissions by 11 percent, but the final rule required a “detrimental 45 percent.” Cramer concludes: “North Dakota’s electricity producers provide some of the most affordable electricity and maintain some of the cleanest air, but this Admiration’s focus on implementing a radical environmental agenda threatens our economic future.”

Now, we wait for the CPP to make its way through the courts — first the D.C. Circuit Court and then, in 2017, the Supreme Court. But, since the CPP is on hold until at least 2017, its future will really be decided by the next president. Milbank states: “the next administration could seek to alter, cease or continue efforts to implement the existing CPP. Should a Republican reach the Oval Office, this could result in a permanent halt of the EPA’s implementation of the plan altogether, or a significant departure from current emission reduction targets. Yet, should a Democrat be elected, the new administration could push forward with the CPP while exploring additional provisions of the Clean Air Act.”

Of course, as things stand now, the next president will be appointing Justice Scalia’s replacement. “If a Republican wins the White House, the Atlantic observes, “their nominee would almost certainly join the Supreme Court’s conservative wing. That justice would be unlikely to vote to support the Clean Power Plan — but it wouldn’t matter, because no remaining Republican supports Obama’s climate policies, anyway, so they’d likely be reversed administratively.”

With a Republican president, there’ll be other changes that could impact the CPP. The EPA, should it not be eliminated, will have a new Administrator. Gina McCarthy will no longer be in charge and influencing policy. If the CPP were actually argued before the court, it would be under the guidance of new leadership and could be presented in a very different way.

Since the CPP will not be argued in the Supreme Court until 2017, when the next president will be in office, it really is the winner on November 8, 2016, who determines the legal battle of the CPP — which will either embrace or eradicate Obama’s climate change policies and the Paris Agreement. Considering the CPP will, as Morrisey pleads, cause “even more destruction of untold number of jobs, skyrocketing electricity bills and the weakening of the nation’s electric grid,” the stakes couldn’t be higher.


The laughable idea that renewable energy is or ever will be 'least cost'

The Utilities Commission has approved Duke's plan for converting one of its coal plants to natural gas. Duke will build two combined cycle turbines with an option to seek a third (the commission rejected the third but left the option open). Capacity at the plant will go from 376 megawatts to 560 megawatts.

Environmental activists are peeved, apparently. A Sierra Club representative quoted in the Asheville Citizen-Times was not only upset, she was spouting demonstrable nonsense:

    Emma Greenbaum, North Carolina organizing representative for Sierra Club, said she is pleased the commission turned down the third turbine but "disheartened that the approved plan allows for this oversized natural gas project to go forward.

    "It is unfortunate that we're being forced to continue on a climate-polluting path when energy efficiency and renewables continue to be the best, least cost solution for consumers and the environment. We will continue to advocate for the expansion of clean energy in our region and across the state as a transition to clean energy is the only responsible long-term solution to our energy needs," she said.

No, really: "the best, least cost solution for consumers and the environment." Let's examine that further, because renewable energy sources are not even close to being cost-competitive, let alone "least cost."

Cost-competitiveness is the hallowed deception of the renewables industry. They are very dedicated to inducing people into somehow thinking renewables are actually cheaper for consumers. But that is absolute rubbish.

Throwing "energy efficiency" into the equation is one way they try it. As economists at the Beacon Hill Institute showed in their peer review of the renewable energy lobby's report purporting to show great gains from the renewable energy portfolio standards,

    Hidden in the text, tables, and charts is that there is little to be said for the renewable energy subsidies themselves. The cost savings will be the result of "energy efficiency," not renewable energy. Everything else is trivial. But by giving the impression that "not using energy" counts towards "renewable energy," they claim renewable energy is cheaper.

Think of it this way. It's like a marshmallow-laden high-sugar kids' cereal advertising itself as part of a healthy breakfast. Which means if you eat a little with a healthy breakfast, it would be part of it. But by itself it's rather unhealthy.

Renewable energy is part of lower energy costs when you have a little with, well, not using energy at all. By itself, however ...

Well, let's consider:

It's not least-cost now.

When you're not looking, the same renewable energy lobby telling politicians and ratepayers that your electricity bill is "Better off with REPS" urges the Utilities Commission not to allow lower rates because lower rates would be bad for renewable energy sources.

It certainly can't be least-cost if you shutter working coal plants to start up replacement renewable plants.

As it is, electricity generation from new plants is more expensive than electricity from existing plants; that'll be worse when you replace an existing plant generating electricity from an efficient source like coal with ones relying on vastly inefficient sources.

It's definitely not least cost when you fully account for the realities of nondispatchable renewable energy.

Those would include their well-known inefficiencies and flat-out inability to work when either the sun isn't shining enough or the wind isn't blowing.  Nature, economics, simple math, and physics all work against nondispatchable renewable energy sources with respect to whether they can ever be cost-competitive with traditional sources.

Showering renewable sources with far more federal subsidies than other energy sources get hasn't helped, either.

It can't even be cost-competitive in the near future, let alone least-cost.

Renewable energy sure hasn't become cost-competitive despite four decades' worth of promising it'll be cost-competitive in the near future. Six years ago the Institute for Energy Research felt prompted to ask "Will renewables become cost-competitive anytime soon?" and found the "almost there" keep-subsidies-flowing rhetoric going back to the 1970s.

Meanwhile, new MIT research is advocating an adjustable carbon tax to deal with the inescapable reality that renewables will never be cost-competitive with traditional energy sources on their own. They want cost-competitive renewable energy so badly they are willing to artificially spike traditional energy prices to cause that to happen by default (take that, poor ratepayers!).

This approach to competition is like Commodus secretly stabbing Maximus in the back before they fought, thinking that was the only way he might win their duel.

Furthermore, as Daily Caller reports,

    The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently investigating how green energy undermines the reliability of the electrical grid. FERC believe there is a "significant risk" of electricity in the United States becoming unreliable because "wind and solar don't offer the services the shuttered coal plants provided." Environmental regulations could make operating coal or natural gas power plant unprofitable, which could compromise the reliability of the entire power grid.

It is far from least-cost even when you try to factor in the environment.

A Brookings Institute study tried to incorporate the "social cost" of carbon dioxide emissions along with nondispatchable renewable energy sources' need for backup baseload generation and levelized costs. The study found that "solar power is by far the most expensive way of reducing carbon emissions" and that "Wind is the next most expensive."

Attendees of the joint John Locke Foundation and NC WARN energy policy forum will remember that the panelists all agreed (see the end) that trying to generate a "social cost" measure of carbon dioxide emissions was futile.

Not to mention, trying to account for all social costs would require having to account for the many ecological impacts of the highly land-intensive facilities as well, and the hazardous materials they require.


Australian Scientists Claim Human-Caused Global Warming in The 1930's

This is just modelling nonsense.  Amusing that they found an effect in the 1930s, though.  The usual Warmist story is that the human effect did not start until the LATE C20.  But that discrepancy will be dismissed with an armwave, no doubt

The last 16 record-breaking hot years globally clearly show the influence of human caused climate change with the first signs appearing as far back as the 1930s, according to new Australian research released today.

“Globally all the record-breaking hot years we’ve had since the 1990s are so much outside natural variability that they would be almost impossible without climate change caused by humans,” said Dr Andrew King, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

But even at country and regional scales, where it is often much harder to detect global warming signals, the influence of human caused climate change still became unmistakable in many regions in the 1990s and for Australia as far back as 1980.

“In Australia our research showed the last six record-breaking hot years and last three record-breaking hot summers were made much more likely due to global warming,” said lead author, Dr King.

“We were able to see climate change more clearly in Australia because of its position in the Southern Hemisphere in the middle of the ocean, far away from the cooling influence of high concentrations of industrial aerosols.”

Previous research has shown that aerosols in high concentrations over specific regions had a cooling effect, reflecting more heat back into space. However, when those aerosols were removed from the atmosphere, the warming returned rapidly.

This cooling impact was seen very clearly by the researchers when they looked at five different regions, Central England, Central Europe, Central US, East Asia and Australia.

Cooling periods, likely caused by aerosols, occurred in Central England, Central US, Central Europe and East Asia during the 1960s and 1970s before accelerated warming returned. These heightened aerosol concentrations also delayed the emergence of a clear human caused climate change signal in all regions studied except Australia.

“In regards to a regional human caused climate change signal, Australia was the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the world. The signal appeared there first and then over the coming years it became apparent elsewhere,” Dr King said.

“Recent increases in aerosols over East Asia has started to slow the rise in the number of the region’s record hot years and summers, again masking the clear climate change signal we are finding in other areas.

“High aerosol concentrations also significantly delayed the climate signal in the Central US.”

To get their results the researchers took a new approach. In the past, most researchers searching for a human caused climate change signal selected specific events and then tried to determine the role of climate change in those events.

By contrast, this study looked at when events started exceeding the range of natural variability. Using climate models, they looked at a world without human produced greenhouse gases and compared it to a world where the composition of the atmosphere corresponded with those found over time in the real world.

Where real world observations rose above the range of natural variability produced in climate models showing temperatures in a world without industrial activity, this indicated the unequivocal influence of human caused global warming.

“Everywhere we look the climate change signal for extreme heat events is becoming stronger. The key now is to determine how much warmer the climate will continue to get, so we can respond to the impacts this will inevitably bring,” said Dr King.

“This is particularly true for Australia, which appears to have one of the strongest climate change signals for a populated country. As a nation, it will need to respond more quickly and understand clearly what future climate change brings.”



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 March, 2016

NASA study shows worst drought in 900 years may be behind Middle East upheaval

This is actually a rather old story but this time we are relying on dendrochronology.  Amusing that tree rings in other Warmist studies are said to represent temperature but below are said to represent water shortage. Versatile!  I wonder which button you push to get the two different readings? Obviously, what you make of them is very much open to interpretation -- and we can expect only one interpretation from Warmists: Doom!

But even if we take the study seriously, it's just guesswork that attributes the severity of the drought to global warming.  The Saharah was once lush but went into drought.  Was that because of all those ancient Egyptians running around in SUVs when they weren't building pyramids?  Climates certainly change but nobody so far has been able to predict it

And right in the middle of it is Israel, which has NO water shortages these days.  Clearly politics is the crucial difference in providing water to farmers.  Has Israel seized everybody else's water?  No. Only Israel desalinates

I am actually rather peeved at the moment over the cooling that has gone on in my neck of the woods. In January, I normally have a 17 metre long solid expanse of blossom from my eight Crepe Myrtle trees.  But they missed out entirely this year.  No blossom. They are temperature sensitive.  They need solid high temperatures for weeks to bloom.  And we just did not have that this year.  So does that indicate global cooling?  No.  Any more than drought in the Middle East indicates warming.  It just indicates unpredictable natural variability

And drought usually goes with cooling, not warming.  Warm oceans give off more water vapour which brings rain.  So are we saying that the Middle East has been really cool in recent years?  Could be

And are we allowed to mention that it's actually ISIS causing all the trouble over there -- and not global warming? 

THE incredibly complex chaos of Islamic State and the upheavals of Syria and Iraq may have a very simple cause: The region’s worst drought in 900 years.

A NASA study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres shows the Middle East is in the grip of a mega-drought that began in 1998. It has taken hold in Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.

The water shortage has been taking a steadily increasing toll on farmers and the region’s ecology, with crop failures, dust storms and record-breaking heat now an annual event.

But the true extent of the drought is only now becoming clear.

“The range of how extreme wet or dry periods were is quite broad, but the recent drought in the Levant region stands out as about 50 per cent drier than the driest period in the past 500 years, and 10 to 20 per cent drier than the worst drought of the past 900 years,” a NASA statement reads.

NASA climate scientists have been mapping a database of the Mediterranean and Middle East’s tree rings — the pattern in which a plant’s new growth is laid upon itself each season — spanning several thousand years.

Tree rings are a kind of ecological fingerprint.  Each band reveals how much water the tree has been taking in, and how optimal conditions were for growth.  When a tree goes through a period of drought, the bands get thinner. The more thin bands, the longer the drought.

Mapping when — and where — these trees were suffering water starvation offers an opportunity to understand the natural variation in the areas weather.

“If we look at recent events and we start to see anomalies that are outside this range of natural variability, then we can say with some confidence that it looks like this particular event or this series of events had some kind of human caused climate change contribution,” says lead author of the study Ben Cook.

In the case of the Middle East, a wide-reaching drought spanning more than 15 years has not been seen for more than 900 years.

Historical documents dating from 1100AD were used to corroborate the accuracy of the tree-ring map.

The flood of refugees out of the Middle East and into Europe is a natural consequence of the conditions, the study infers.

Historically, when there is drought in the Eastern Mediterranean, there is no escape to the west. Both ends tend to suffer at the same time. Which generates cause for conflict.

“It’s not necessarily possible to rely on finding better climate conditions in one region than another, so you have the potential for large-scale disruption of food systems as well as potential conflict over water resources,” says co-author Kevin Anchukaitis.

But the patterns established over thousands of years do suggest refuge: To the north.

When eastern North Africa is dry, Greece, Italy, France and Spain tend to be wet. And vice-versa.

From these patterns, the NASA scientists were able to identify the engines behind the Middle East’s weather: The North Atlantic Oscillation and the East Atlantic Pattern.

These regular wind patterns over the Atlantic are themselves driven by oceanic currents and temperatures. Periodically they push rainstorms away from the Mediterranean, instead causing long dry winds to circulate in their place.

The NASA research shows that this time, however, the drought is different. Its behaviour does not match the patterns clearly established over the past thousand of years.

“The Mediterranean is one of the areas that is unanimously projected as going to dry in the future [due to man-made climate change],” climate scientist Yochanan Kushnir states in the NASA release.


There were disastrous climate changes long before the 20th century

Climate change, weather, and agricultural cycles all played their part in religious history. On occasion, disasters drove paranoia and persecution – see my columns on the years around 1680. My discussion of the c.1740 era suggested how a deep crisis might create an audience open to revivalism. No less fundamentally, catastrophe could decide something as basic as the world’s religious map, of where different faiths found their main centers of strength.

In my Lost History of Christianity, I wrote about the dreadful years of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish persecutions around 1320. To over-simplify a lengthy story, that coincided with a massive change in climate and the onset of the Little Ice Age. Populations had swelled during the warming period between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. Europe’s population more than doubled during these prosperous times, forcing settlers to swarm onto marginal lands. In the late thirteenth century, however, Europe and the Middle East entered what has been described as the Little Ice Age, as pack ice grew in the oceans, and trade routes became more difficult both by land and by sea. Summers became cooler and wetter, and as harvests deteriorated, people starved. Some accounts date the crisis to a full decade, roughly 1315-25.

As another author wrote, the weather went all medieval.

Just how bad was that era? Finnish historian Timo Myllyntaus writes that

In north-central Europe and the British Isles torrential rains and floods caused a famine between 1315 and 1322 that turned out to be the severest of the medieval period. Historians regard this Great Famine as one the most catastrophic subsistence crises ever to strike northern Europe. For centuries afterward it haunted the minds of Europeans, who recalled tales of widespread starvation, violent social conflicts, tax revolts, ruthless crimes, epidemic diseases, and terribly high mortality.

In 1306 and 1323, the Baltic Sea was completely ice-bound.

I have already referred to a recent atlas mapping drought in European history. This offers a superb visual of the year 1315, with most of Europe overwhelmed by heavy rains that made farming all but impossible. Only the tip of Italy escaped.

One good book on this era is William Rosen’s The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century (2014). As a reviewer summarizes his conclusions:

With the rains, not only were crops ruined, but wood was too wet to use for fuel, which in turn made producing salt almost impossible. Salt was the period’s food preservative. Without it, every commodity that depended on salt was in turn ruined: salted herring and cod, and cheese. In addition to the rains, the weather change brought colder, longer winters, which froze the waters. The frozen oceans demolished the fishing trade. It also made wool production plummet, decimating the wool and textile trade on which much of the English and northern European economy depended. Animal epidemics added to the suffering, killing off most of the animals used for plowing, meat, milk and wool.

The world could no longer sustain the population it had gained during the boom years. Europe suffered its horrific Great Famine between 1315 and 1317, with reports of widespread cannibalism in 1318–20. Here is a contemporary English account from Johannes de Trakelowe:

The dearth began in the month of May and lasted until the feast of the nativity of the Virgin [September 8]. The summer rains were so heavy that grain could not ripen. It could hardly be gathered and used to bake bread down to the said feast day unless it was first put in vessels to dry. Around the end of autumn the dearth was mitigated in part, but toward Christmas it became as bad as before. Bread did not have its usual nourishing power and strength because the grain was not nourished by the warmth of summer sunshine. Hence those who ate it, even in large quantities, were hungry again after a little while. There can be no doubt that the poor wasted away when even the rich were constantly hungry…. Four pennies worth of coarse bread was not enough to feed a common man for one day. The usual kinds of meat, suitable for eating, were too scarce; horse meat was precious; plump dogs were stolen. And, according to many reports, men and women in many places secretly ate their own children….

Populations contracted sharply across Eurasia. Weakened populations were exposed to epidemic diseases, and the coming of the Black Death in the 1340s proved the coup de grace.

Those changes rewrote the history of religions, as terrified societies sought scapegoats, and launched persecutions on a scarcely precedented scale.

Around 1320, Middle Eastern Christians suffered a general cataclysm. Muslims targeted Christians who had long enjoyed broad tolerance. In Egypt, many Coptic churches and monasteries were destroyed, with 1321 a notoriously violent year. Meanwhile, the once-powerful Christians of Iraq/Mesopotamia were subject to brutal pogroms, and forced conversions became commonplace.

Throughout these conflicts, violence was repeatedly driven by paranoia, by suspicion of plots launched by minorities against the mainstream society. In the Middle East, that meant labeling and demonizing Christians. At one point in Egypt, Christians were blamed for setting fires across Cairo, allegedly aided by Byzantine monks armed with ingenious incendiary bombs. When some of the accused confessed under torture, the authorities were forced to support the popular movement. At one point, the sultan faced a mob some twenty thousand strong, all calling for the suppression of Christians and the destruction of chucrhes.

By midcentury, Muslim writers had access to a whole catalog of anti-Christian charges that bear close resemblance to scabrous anti- Jewish tracts like the later Protocols of the Elders of Zion. According to writers like al-Asnawi, Christians were spies ever on the lookout for opportunities to betray the Muslim cause; and cases in both Egypt and Syria proved they were serial arsonists. Given modern-day stereotypes of Islam in the West, it is ironic that Christian minorities were so feared because they were allegedly plotting terror bombings against prestigious symbols of Muslim power.

The Christian world too now became massively less tolerant, and acquired a lengthy list of demonic enemies plotting against its survival. This was indeed the era in which the great European witch persecutions began. The papacy formally listed witchcraft as a heresy—that is, as an evil alternative religion—in 1320, and women were soon being accused of the familiar package of crimes, including devil worship, poisoning, and black magic. The Irish case of Dame Alice Kyteler was one of the first of the classic witch trials. In 1320–21, southern France and Aragon suffered two outbreaks of hysterical violence, the Shepherds’ Crusade and the Lepers’ Plot. The world was changing, and definitely for the worse.

The main European victims were the Jews, who were regularly blamed for disasters of all kinds, and especially for epidemics. Pogroms and massacres surged from the 1320s. The Shepherds’ Crusade was mainly directed against Jews, and it was at this time that we hear charges of Jews and lepers conspiring to poison wells. In 1321, the King of Castile forced Jews to wear a yellow badge, and the following year the King of France ordered Jews expelled from his realm. That order was not revoked until 1359. Attacks reached new heights during the Black Death. Across Western Europe, Jewish communities were uprooted and destroyed, leading to mass migrations to the East, to lands then controlled by Poland and Lithuania.

All this, by the way, is over and above the purely secular revolts and disasters that raged in these years, such as the extensive baronial revolts against Edward II in England in 1321-22. In 1321 similarly, a civil war erupted in the Byzantine Empire.

The result of the climate-driven catastrophe was the religious world that we know in more recent times. Christians were reduced to the status of a small minority in the Islamic world, while Europe’s Jews mainly concentrated in the eastern parts of the continent – where they remained until the new massacres of the Holocaust. And Europe’s witch-panic endured for four more centuries.


Climate change resistant crops needed (?)

Dr Fowler is quite wrong.  He would only have to think 5 minutes to see that global warming will NOT bring food shortages. Let me say it all again:

Greenies have been making false prophecies of food shortages for years now.  Even Hitler did it. And I have often rebutted them. In brief: The world's internationally-traded food problem has for a long time been glut;  Warming would open up new agricultural land in Canada and Russia; Warming should cause more evaporation from the oceans, thus giving MORE rainfall, not less.  A prediction of flood might make some sense but a prediction of water shortage makes no sense at all

The modelling crap below is a laugh a minute. If global warming DID exist, it would be INCREASING food-crop yields. Plants gobble up CO2. It is their basic food. And a warmer world would be a wetter one -- again giving plants a boost. The increased level of CO2 now in the atmosphere has already benefited plant growth, with the greening of the Sahel the most vivid example of that

Aside from Greenie folly and basic biology, however, there is China. China was a food-importer under Mao and any Greenie wisehead would see that as inevitable given that an area about the same as the contiguous United States has to feed 1.3 billion people with primitive technology. Poop is their main fertilizer.

But under capitalism China feeds the world. It is a huge exporter of food and exports to most countries on the globe. For instance: "By value, China is the world's No.1 exporter of fruits and vegetables, and a major exporter of other food products ranging from apple juice to garlic and sausage casings. Its agricultural exports to the US surged to $US2.26 billion last year". And that quote was from 2007!

And have another look at Russia.  How many people know how big Siberia is?  It is roughly 5 milllion sq. miles, compared to about 3 milion sq. miles for the continental USA.  It's BIG.  So if warming opened up Southern Siberia to agriculture, the potential for new food production would be enormous.

Politics and economics are the main constraints on the food supply, nothing else. Capitalism is its friend. Greenies are its enemy

More investment is needed to develop climate change resistant varieties of crops to prevent paying the ‘ugly’ price of food shortages, an expert has warned.

Rising temperatures are set to hit key crops, damaging food supplies and sparking national security and geopolitical threats, according to Dr Cary Fowler, former head of the Crop Trust and member of the board advising US government aid agency USAID on agriculture.

Investing in developing varieties of crops that are resistant to drought, floods or high temperatures, were ‘low-cost investments with a big pay-off’, he suggested.

But a failure to do so could prompt starvation, malnutrition and war or unrest.

Dr Fowler was speaking as the Crop Trust’s ‘doomsday’ Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, which provides a back-up for gene banks of seeds in countries around the world, received more key varieties of crops including sunflower, squash, tomato, watermelon, carrot and barley.

He said it was important to preserve the diversity of crops grown worldwide, many of which were being lost as farmers moved on to new varieties, but which could have traits to help develop more resistant types of grains, seeds, fruit and vegetables.

An example, he said, was yams, which tens of millions of people relied on for food across sub-Saharan African countries that face temperatures well above historic growing conditions. But there are just six plant breeders working on new varieties of yams.

‘We need to make more investment in these types of crops which have a big pay-off,’ he said.

‘If we don’t, we pay a very different price, a very ugly one, a high one,’ he warned.  ‘We know from a number of studies there is a high correlation between growing seasons with abnormally high temperatures and war and civil strife.’

Pointing to the Arab Spring, which began in the wake of drought and food price spikes, he said: ‘We only have to look to that to see it’s not a problem that’s just a food security, but a national security, geopolitical, issue as well.’


The Debate Over Global Warming Is Just a Big Misunderstanding, Says Study.  Or is it?

Ronald Bailey

A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 63 percent of Americans think climate change is a serious problem—down from 69 percent last June. Among Democrats, 80 percent thought global warming is a serious problem, 65 percent wanted more federal government action to stop it, and 57 percent believed most scientists agree on whether global warming is happening. In contrast, 60 percent of Republicans said climate change is not a serious problem, less than 25 percent wanted more government action, and two-thirds thought there is "a lot of disagreement among scientists" about the issue.

What accounts for this partisan divide? According to a new study by the Princeton psychologist Sander van der Linden and his colleagues, Republicans doubt man-made global warming largely because that they don't know most climate scientists think it's a real and urgent problem. Once conservatives, liberals, and moderates are informed that a scientific consensus on climate change exists, the study concludes, they lay down their debating points and come together in a climatic kumbaya of political harmony and depolarization. The climate change political fight is just one big misunderstanding that can be cleared up simply by telling Americans what scientists think about the issue.

It would be good news indeed in these contentious times if simply providing people with information about what scientists think would dispel intense conflicts over public policy issues. But the study's data don't do much to support the authors' bold claims.

The researchers conducted a survey of more than 6,000 Americans, who were divided into two groups. One group was told that "97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening" and then asked about climate change issues; the other was not given the 97 percent figure. That statistic was most likely drawn from a 2013 review of the scientific literature; the number is, to put it mildly, somewhat controversial. In any case, the researchers report that only 10 percent of Americans "correctly understand that the scientific consensus ranges between 90 percent to 100 percent." Twenty-five percent of liberals shared this understanding; just 5 percent of conservatives did.

Van der Linden and company claim that their new study replicates findings in a similar study they did in 2015. In that earlier paper, they surveyed more than 1,000 Americans about their beliefs concerning climate change and then told them about the 97 percent consensus among scientists. Did that change their beliefs about climate change? Very marginally.

Using a 100-point scale, they found that all respondents increased their "belief certainty" about the occurrence of climate change from 73.08 points to 77.01 points after being told about the consensus. Correspondingly, human causation belief certainty went from 63.98 to 68.02; worry rose from 62.84 to 67.32; and support for government action increased from 75.19 to 76.88 points.

The researchers also claim that providing information about the consensus resulted in greater belief certainty increases among conservatives than among liberals. (Oddly, they do not provide the raw survey data.) From these results, they concluded that "effectively communicating the scientific consensus can also help move the issue of climate change forward on the public policy agenda." Drawing this conclusion from a one-shot survey that shifted the strength of opinions about climate change by less than 5 percentage points seems a bit of a stretch.

The new study is no stronger. Again they leave out the raw survey data. But using a 7-point scale this time, they report that conservatives' belief that global warming is happening measures 4.57 points. (Just for comparison, moderates score 5.38 on that question and liberals 6.16.) Once conservatives are informed about the scientific consensus, their score increases to 4.81 points. Conservative support for government action on climate change increases by .08 points after they're told about the consensus.

The researchers also claim that they do not find any evidence for conservative "belief polarization"—that is, a counter-reaction to claims about the consensus that would lead them to believe less strongly in man-made global warming. They do find that conservatives, even after being told about the scientific consensus, still express lower acceptance that global warming is caused by humanity, less worry about it, and less support for government action than do similarly informed moderates and liberals.

Overall, the authors espouse what they call the "gateway belief" model of persuasion: If Americans are told that most scientists think man-made climate change is happening, they will think so too. Not only that: They will become more worried about it and start demanding government action to stop it. And so the study essentially endorses more science education as the way to resolve climate change rows.

These findings contradict previous research from the Yale Cultural Cognition Project, which concluded that beliefs about politicized areas of science are generally treated as cultural signals telling fellow partisans that you are a good person who is on their side. According to the Yale researchers, getting people to change their minds about a politicized issue amounts to trying to persuade them to betray their tribe. This dynamic makes them highly resistant to attempts to bombard them with alleged widely agreed-upon facts. Contrariwise, the folks at the Cognition Project find that the smarter a person is, the easier it is for them to find "proof" for his or her beliefs.

Do the results reported by van der Linden and his team show the way to a political consensus on climate change? Not hardly, says the Cognition Project researcher Dan Kahan. In fact, recent polling data from the Cognition Project and the Annenberg Public Policy Center aimed at measuring "ordinary science intelligence" show that as the science comprehension of both Republicans and Democrats goes up, they become more, not less, polarized on climate change. (See below.)

In addition, as the science comprehension of both conservatives and liberals increases, so does the perception by both that there is scientific consensus on climate change. But scientifically literate conservatives don't believe that the consensus is right.

"As relatively 'right-leaning' individuals become progressively more proficient in making sense of scientific information," Kahan reports, "they become simultaneously more likely to believe there is 'scientific consensus' on human-caused climate change but less likely to 'believe' in it themselves!" He adds, "One thing that is clear from these data is that it's ridiculous to claim that 'unfamiliarity' with scientific consensus on climate change 'causes' non-acceptance of human-caused global warming."

The slim statistics supplied by van der Linden and his team don't change that much. Constantly hammering on the message that there is a consensus among climate scientists does not seem to be a fruitful route toward depoliticizing the issue.


House Acts to Save American Brick Industry from the EPA

The House took a stand Thursday against an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that threatens the survival of the small companies that make up the bulk of the American brick industry. The EPA's Brick Maximum Achievable Control Technology (Brick MACT) rule will require brick plants to install costly new emission reduction equipment, after first tearing out the expensive equipment they installed to comply with a previous, less stringent version of the rule. The new equipment will cost about $2.2 million per kiln, yet will eliminate only a negligible amount of mercury emissions per year, far less than is in the teeth of the American population.

The bill passed by the House Thursday, H.R. 4557, the Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns (BRICK) Act, would delay enforcement of the onerous new EPA regulation until the courts can resolve legal challenges to the rule. That seems like common sense—don't force Americans to comply with a rule before it's determined to be lawful—yet 163 members of the House (all Democrats) voted against the bill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) praised passage of the bill, noting that “The brick industry is the latest target of the Obama administration’s regulatory assault on American manufacturing. The EPA’s burdensome emission standards are another breach of executive power that may well be struck down by the courts, but not before jobs are lost and the industry suffers."

Jobs have already been lost, as the American brick industry was reduced from 209 plants to 131 plants during the last twenty years, due to the costly regulations already imposed on it by the federal bureaucracy. The new rule further threatens the survival of many of the small brick companies that still exist along with the livelihood of their workers. As the president of a small Ohio brick company testified to Congress last week, "Many of our employees have never graduated from high school and would have great difficulty finding similar employment without significant additional training."


Last-ditch assaults on affordable energy

Obama and allies double down on biofuels and climate, and against carbon-based fuels

Paul Driessen

Separating reality from ideology and political agendas is difficult, but essential, if we are to revitalize our economy and help the world’s poorest families take their rightful places among Earth’s prosperous people. Energy reality is certainly in our favor. But ideological forces are powerful and persistent.

Right now, 82% of all US energy and 87% of world energy comes from oil, natural gas and coal. Less than 3% is non-hydroelectric renewable energy – and globally half of that is traditional biomass: wood, grass and animal dung that cause millions of respiratory infections and deaths every year. Thankfully, the transition to fossil fuels and electricity continues apace, replacing biomass and lifting billions out of abject poverty, with wind and solar meeting basic needs in remote areas until electricity grids arrive.

In the USA, hydraulic fracturing has taken petroleum production to its highest level since 1972, and oil imports to their lowest level since 1995. America now exports crude oil, natural gas and refined products.

The fracking genie cannot be put back in the bottle. In fact, it is being adopted all over the world, opening new shale oil and gas fields, prolonging the life of conventional fields, leaving less energy in the ground, and giving the world another century or more of abundant, reliable, affordable petroleum. That’s plenty of time to develop new energy technologies that actually work without mandates and enormous subsidies.

So much for the “peak oil” scare. Indeed, in some ways, the world’s current problem is too much oil.

In the face of this global abundance and tepid American, European, Chinese and world economies, Saudi Arabia has increased its oil production, to maintain market share and try to drive more US oil companies out of business. Oil prices have plummeted from $136 per barrel in 2008 to less than $35 or even $30 today. Natural gas has gone from $13.50 per million Btu in 2009 to $3 or less today.

Those low prices are saving families billions of dollars a year, and spurring investments in new US petrochemical and other manufacturing facilities. However, they have also cost thousands of oil patch jobs, left many energy companies near bankruptcy, and sent shockwaves through states and countries that depend on energy production and revenues for their tax base, government programs and public assistance. Prices will eventually rise again, but nowhere close to those record highs.

Amid this turmoil, as if to ensure more petroleum industry bankruptcies, President Obama wants to slap a $10.25 tax on every barrel of produced oil, and use the revenues to bolster his climate change and renewable energy agenda. Under her presidency, says Hillary Clinton, a ban on oil, gas and coal production from federal lands would be a “done deal” and the United States would have “at least 50% clean or carbon-free energy by 2050.”

Such policies would kill millions of jobs, torpedo the manufacturing renaissance, eliminate the assumed revenues by strangling the oil production that generates them, impact croplands and wildlife habitats, and prolong America’s economic doldrums. They would hammer poor, minority and blue-collar families, which spend much higher portions of their budgets on energy than do wealthy households.

Renewable energy schemes defy the laws of nature and economics. Government commands cannot make apples fall upward from Newton’s tree – or turn economic losers into success stories.

As a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study explains, without government mandates and massive taxpayer subsidies, “green” energy simply cannot compete with conventional fuels and power plants. Wind, solar and biofuel “alternatives” work only when traditional energy prices are extremely high – which in the absence of a major Middle East or global war is not likely to happen for some time.

Similarly, a brand-new University of Chicago study found that oil prices would have to top $350 a barrel before Tesla and other electric cars become cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered vehicles! That’s because battery and charging costs are $325 per kilowatt-hour for plug-in models. No wonder Americans bought only 116,099 electric cars in 2015 – out of a record 17,500,000 cars and light trucks sold – despite huge rebates, free charging stations and single-occupant access to express lanes for electric cars.

Nevertheless, renewable energy mandates have a lot going for them. They reward political cronies. They put unelected, unaccountable activists and bureaucrats in charge of our energy decisions and living standards. They redistribute wealth: from taxpayers to politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, wealthy investors, and workers and senior management in lucky greenback green industries and corporations.

By virtue of their wealth, political power, or employment by government agencies that operate under different rules than those they enforce on citizens and businesses, these chosen few are also shielded from the consequences of policies and decisions they impose on the rest of us.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Tom Steyer, Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio, Elon Musk, EPA and DOE officials, and climate researchers who receive millions in taxpayer funding insist that manmade global warming threatens the world, and renewable energy is the solution. But for them to lecture us and dictate our livelihoods and living standards – while enjoying their mansions, yachts, limousines and jet-setter lifestyles – strikes many as hypocritical and intolerable.

Moreover, less developed countries signed the Paris treaty to get trillions of dollars in climate change “adaptation” and “compensation” funds; they have no intention of curbing their economic growth, fossil fuel use or CO2 emissions anytime soon. Non-elite Americans’ energy and economic sacrifices will thus bring no global benefits. It is also true that a then healthier oil industry generated the only economic and employment bright spots that (in conjunction with lies about Benghazi) got President Obama reelected.

But none of this is preventing the president from launching a final regulatory assault, to carve his policy agenda in stone, reward his allies, and pummel states and companies on his “enemies of nature” list. Nor does it prevent him from telling Africans to develop only to the extent enabled by “sustainable” wind, solar and biofuel energy because, if each of you “has got a car and a big house, the planet will boil over.”

While bridges and defense languish, he dedicates billions of dollars in his last budget for “clean” energy research, such as E. coli bacteria for next-generation biofuels; billions for climate cataclysm studies; and $2 billion for “vulnerable” Alaskan and Lower 48 communities “threatened” by oceans that are rising at barely seven inches per century. (He ignores the fact that Arctic warming and cooling cycles go back centuries, and scientists still cannot differentiate between natural and human factors in climate change.)

Mr. Obama wants his BLM, EPA, USFS, USFWS, BOEM, OSHA and other alphabet-soup agencies to implement dozens of costly but environmentally meaningless rules on energy production from federal lands. That will further cripple western state economies, just as his administration did to West Virginia.

Meanwhile, in another rubberstamp of heavy-handed government actions, the post-Scalia Supreme Court just ruled that EPA may continue forcing states and utility companies to spend billions of dollars trying to comply with coal-fired power plant rules, while lower courts spend years reviewing challenges to them.

And still erudite “experts” ponder why the US economy is stagnant. Here’s part of the answer: Crushing tax rates and an impenetrable Tax Code. Regulations that cost companies and families nearly $2 trillion a year. Bureaucrats who impose costly agendas with no accountability for blatant incompetence, outright fraud or intentional harm. Too many programs that reward people for not working, not looking for work, not finishing school, and having children they can’t care for with guys who can’t bother to be fathers.

The 2016 election year stakes are huge. Candidates need to end the insults, and start focusing on issues that matter, amid Mr. Obama’s ongoing efforts to “fundamentally transform” the United States. Voters need to ask tough questions – and demand to know exactly how candidates intend to “make America great again,” control the federal behemoth and pay for all these “essential” government programs.

Via email


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7 March, 2016

A late night thought

I am close to ROFL (Rolling on the floor laughing) about the revision of his RSS satellite temperature record by Carl Mears.

His revised figures show a temperature rise of one hundredths of one degree Celsius per annum.  A straight-line projection of that (Warmists are big on straight-line projections) produces a 2115 temperature rise of only one degree Celsius.  Until the Greenies started shrieking, nobody noticed the nearly one degree rise between the late 19th century and the late 20C so why should we expect our great-grandchildren to be bothered by a similar rise?  I am sure that they don't need our concern!

The third attempt to erase the global warming "hiatus"

The fact that the global temperature record was showing a "hiatus" (was not showing any rise) was first pointed out some years ago by the late Bob Carter.  Scorn and contempt was heaped on him for his pains.  Warmists said it was just a "blip".  Not unreasonably, they pointed to previous hiatuses -- such as the long hiatus of 1945 to 1975 (30 years!) -- and noted that temperature rises re-started after that.

A 30 year temperature hiatus while CO2 levels were rising strongly did not seem to embarrass them, despite it being totally contrary to their theory.  They just explained it away as due to "special" factors.

But as the current hiatus got longer and skeptics got increasingly irritating about it, they had to do something.  And in the best Green/Left tradition, their first response was to lie.  They started to declare that various years were warmest, warmer etc.  We got such declarations annually.  The fact of the matter is that the fluctuations in the 21st century were tiny,  differences in hundredths of one degree only -- so were statistically non-significant and hence non-existent from a scientific point of view.  But who cares about science when an ideology is at risk?

Riding differences so tiny must have got irritating however, at least to the scientists among Warmists.  They knew about statistical significance so ignoring it was undoubtedly embarrassing.

Then Tom Karl of NOAA rode to the rescue.  He made large "corrections" to the ocean temperature record and thus erased the hiatus.  That attracted such a lot of criticism, including Congressional criticism,  that even the Warmist establishment in the Fyfe paper eventually disowned it and reaffirmed that there was a 21st century temperature slowdown, which they again explained as due to "special" factors.

The next attack on the hiatus was by  crowing about the unusually large temperature rise in 2015.  It actually amounted to 13 hundredths of one degree.  Exciting! That it was just the expected effect of the El Nino weather phenomenon was pooh-poohed.  But it was ENTIRELY due to El Nino and other natural causes because CO2 levels did not rise in 2015

All the fun so far had been with the surface temperature record, always a slender reed to lean on.  In the background was the pesky satellite record showing no warming trend at all.

There has been a slight reprieve from that glowering satellite record recently in that it now shows some rise in early 2016.  El Nino has not run its course yet, however, so there is no reason to think that that rise is anything but an El Nino effect.  Additionally, El Nino should be followed by La Nina, which brings cooling, so the record for 2016 is likely to rejoin the hiatus. So the Warmists know they can't crow too loudly.

So we come to the latest erasure attempt: by Carl Mears, proprietor of RSS, one of the satellite records.  As he himself admits, he has been mightily irritated by people accusing his temperature record of supporting the climate skeptics.  He has in fact been expressing irritation with that for quite some years.  He has declared several times that he still supports Warmism despite what his own data show.

So he has finally devised a solution to his embarrassment.  He has "adjusted" his data.  He said his old data had errors in it and he has now corrected the errors, to show some warming  -- a warming of 18 hundredths of one degree over nearly 20 years, no less!  One hundredth of a degree per annum! If there had been errors in it, one wonders why he rode with the "erroneous" data for so long but let that be by the by.

And the explanation he gives for his adjustments is reasonable in principle, but, as always, the devil is in the details.  And the details do contain devilry, as Roy Spencer has pointed out.  Carl's adjustments were so bad in fact that the paper in which he described them was rejected as unpublishable by a major climate journal, eventually being accepted by a meteorological one.

So Warmists seem to be back where they were when they first heaped contumely on Bob Carter, saying that the hiatus is just a blip due to "special" factors  and warming should resume "real soon now".  That is faith, however, not science.  Geologically, we are at the end of a warming period so cooling is in fact somewhat more likely.  But nobody knows and nobody can know.

The fourth word in Seth Borenstein's article below amuses me: "may".  Even faithful old Seth clearly had his doubts about how strong Carl's arguments are

Climate change doubters may have lost one of their key talking points: a particular satellite temperature dataset that had seemed to show no warming for the past 18 years.

The Remote Sensing System temperature data, promoted by many who reject mainstream climate science and especially most recently by Sen. Ted Cruz, now shows a slight warming of about 0.18 degrees Fahrenheit since 1998. Ground temperature measurements, which many scientists call more accurate, all show warming in the past 18 years.

"There are people that like to claim there was no warming; they really can't claim that anymore," said Carl Mears, the scientist who runs the Remote Sensing System temperature data tracking.

The change resulted from an adjustment Mears made to fix a nagging discrepancy in the data from 15 satellites.

The satellites are in a polar orbit, so they are supposed to go over the same place at about the same time as they circle from north to south pole. Some of the satellites drift a bit, which changes their afternoon and evening measurements ever so slightly. Some satellites had drift that made temperatures warmer, others cooler. Three satellites had thrusters and they stayed in the proper orbit so they provided guidance for adjustments.

Mears said he was "motivated by fixing these differences between the satellites. If the differences hadn't been there, I wouldn't have done the upgrade."

NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M, said experts and studies had shown these problems that Mears adjusted and they both said those adjustments make sense and are well supported in a study in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate.

The study refutes the idea of a pause in global warming, "but frankly common sense and looking at how Earth was responding over the past 18 years kind of makes this finding a 'duh' moment," wrote University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd.

Chip Knappenberger of the Cato Institute, who doesn't doubt that human-caused climate change is happening but does not agree with mainstream scientists who say the problem is enormous, said this shows "how messy the procedures are in putting the satellite data together."

The other major satellite temperature data set, run by University of Alabama Hunstville professor John Christy, shows slight warming after 1998. But if 1998 is included in the data, it sees no warming. But that should change with a warm 2016, Christy said. In fact, Christy used his measurements to determine that February 2016 was 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for the month — the largest such disparity for any month since records were first kept, in 1979.

As far as what this means for people claiming no warming, scientists don't expect them to change.

"I don't know what Cruz, et al., will do now," Dessler said in an email. "I think it will be increasingly difficult for them to claim that the satellite data show now warming, although it may be possible to say that it shows 'no significant warming.'"


The doctored science of global warming

Fraud in pursuit of politics undermines trust in government everywhere

Pure science undertaken for science’s own sake is as rare as a rainbow. It’s certainly scarce in Washington, where the quest for knowledge is vulnerable to the bias of politics. Skeptics of President Obama’s climate change agenda say they see new evidence of fraud. If administration officials are colluding with scientists to cook the evidence, such as it might be, to demonstrate that the planet is warming, the skeptics deserve everyone’s thanks.

Whistleblowers within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) complained last year that a major study by agency researcher Thomas Karl, refuting evidence of a pause in global warming, had been rushed to publication. The implication was that the study was coordinated with Obama administration officials to add to the urgency of the president’s climate change agenda in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology issued a subpoena of records of NOAA communications dealing with the study

The inquiry began afresh last month when Rep. Lamar Smith, wrote to NOAA expressing disappointment “with the slow pace and limited scope of the agency’s production [of such records],” which had yielded only 301 pages. Mr. Smith directed officials to broaden their search for relevant documents. He said the committee had received a letter signed by 325 scientists, engineers, economists and other scholars questioning whether the agency had properly peer-reviewed the “quality, objectivity, utility and integrity” of the data used in the Karl study.

Data consist of facts, and facts can be cherry-picked to yield a desired effect. In the NOAA study, researchers found that ocean temperatures measured by ships were warmer than those recorded by buoys anchored in place, and scientists “developed a method to correct the difference between ship and buoy measurements.” Ship’s engines, however, can heat nearby water and produce false readings. By including those values, critics contend, the agency may have effectively erased evidence of the global warming pause.

President Obama’s efforts to “re-engineer” the American energy industry is based on the argument that combustion of fossil fuels endangers the planet, and a rapid transition to renewable power sources is essential. The argument was the basis for the Paris climate change agreement, endorsed by nearly 200 nations. If documents were to emerge suggesting temperature data was doctored to reach an expedient conclusion in the NOAA study, and if White House officials were part of such a scheme, that would be proof that science had been recruited to serve politics. Trust in government would be further eroded.

This would not be the first instance of Obama-era back-channel scheming. Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee issued a report last summer accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of colluding with the Natural Resources Defense Council and other “green” organizations to develop the president’s landmark Clean Power Plan, which will saddle Americans with billions of dollars in higher energy bills for decades to come. EPA officials quietly schemed with environmentalists to write regulations reinforcing their shared climate change agenda. The agency has denied the accusations.

Science must be free from pressure to validate political goals. If findings and measurements are altered to serve a political agenda, the findings are flawed. It’s called fraud, and should be punished.



Take in this abstract from the obviously mis-named journal Progress in Human Geography:

Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research

Mark Carey, M Jackson, Alessandro Antonello, Jaclyn Rushing


Glaciers are key icons of climate change and global environmental change. However, the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers – particularly related to epistemological questions about the production of glaciological knowledge – remain understudied. This paper thus proposes a feminist glaciology framework with four key components: 1) knowledge producers; (2) gendered science and knowledge; (3) systems of scientific domination; and (4) alternative representations of glaciers. Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.

Yes, I too was sure this was a parody, but in fact the lead author is the associate dean at the University of Oregon. Do they really sit around and say, “Gee—the gender of that glacier is uncertain to me. It might be a trans-glacier, perhaps reversing course in the next cycle. I’ll have to cross-reference it with my post-colonial epistemology thesaurus.”

Well why not? I notice the recent Paris Agreement on climate change has, among other nonsense, this paragraph:

Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity. . .

This is why you get Trump.


Opec has failed to stop US shale revolution admits energy watchdog

The current crash in oil prices is sowing the seeds of a powerful rebound and a potential supply crunch by the end of the decade, but the prize may go to the US shale industry rather Opec, the world's energy watchdog has predicted.

America's shale oil producers and Canada's oil sands will come roaring back from late 2017 onwards once the current brutal purge is over, a cycle it described as the "rise, fall and rise again" of the fracking industry.

"Anybody who believes the US revolution has stalled should think again. We have been very surprised at how resilient it is," said Neil Atkinson, head of oil markets at the International Energy Agency.

The IEA forecasts in its "medium-term" outlook for the next five years that US production will fall by 600,000 barrels per day (b/d) this year and 200,000 next year as the so-called "fracklog" of drilled wells is finally cleared and the global market works off a surplus of 1m b/d.

But shale will come back to life within six months - far more quickly than conventional mega-projects and offshore wells - once crude rebounds to $60. Shale output is expected to reach new highs of 5m b/d by 2021.

This will boost total US production of oil and liquids by 1.3m b/d to the once unthinkable level 14.4m b/d, widening the US lead over Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said this alone will not be enough to avert the risk of a strategic oil crisis later in the decade, given the exhaustion of existing wells and the dangerously low levels of spare capacity in the world.

"Even if there were zero growth in demand, we would have to produce 3m b/d just to stand still," he said, speaking at the IHS CERAWeek summit of energy leaders in Texas.

Mr Birol said investment in oil exploration and production across the world has been cut to the bone, falling 24pc last year and an estimated 17pc this year. This is a drop from $520bn to $320bn a year, far below the minimum levels needed to keep up with future demand.

"It's not good news for oil security. Over the past 30 years we have never seen oil investment dropping two years in a row," he said.

"It is easy for consumers to be lulled into complacency by ample stocks and low prices today, but they should heed the writing on the wall: the historic investment cuts raise the odds of unpleasant oil security surprises in the not too distant future," he said.

The warnings were echoed by Opec's secretary-general, Abdalla El-Badri, who said the current slump will lead to serious trouble when the cycle turns. "It sows the seed for a very high price in the future," he said at the CERAWeek forum.

Mr El-Badri said he had lived through six oil cycles over his career but the surge of shale oil supply from the US has made this one of the most vicious. "It is a supply bubble. This cycle is very nasty," he said.

The Opec chief admitted that the cartel has been caught badly off guard by crash, blaming the wild moves on speculative forces with control over 5m "paper barrels" on the derivatives markets. "The fundamentals have not changed that much," he said.

But Mr El-Badri sent mixed signals about the real problem in the crude markets, letting slip that Opec and the US shale industry may not be able to "live together" and that frackers will take advantage of output cuts intended to stabilize the market. "If there is any increase in price, shale will come back immediately," he said.

Contrary to widespread assumptions, the IEA report said Saudi Arabia and the Opec club will lose market share, treading water as North America and Brazil's "pre-salt" basin in the Atlantic account for most of the growth in global output by the early 2020s. Algeria, Venezuela, Nigeria and Indonesia are all going into decline.

Iran's grand plan to reach 5m b/d and regain its place as the cartel's number two is dismissed as "aspirational". It will struggle to add much once it has recaptured its pre-sanctions level of 3.6m b/d. Iran's major fields are 70 years old and need sophisticated technology, yet foreign investors are wary of taking the plunge.

Outside Opec, there will be a steady erosion of output in China, Mexico, Colombia, Egypt, Oman and the North Sea, all chipping away at global supply and leaving the world vulnerable as demand rises by an average of 1.2m b/d each year - hitting 100m b/d by 2020.

China's demand will ratchet upwards by an accumulated 2.5m b/d even as its own output slips, a scissor effect likely to tighten the global market relentlessly from 2017 onwards.
A table showing selected sources of non-Opec supply changes

The IEA report implicitly calls into question Opec's strategy of flooding the market in order to cripple of the US shale industry. Asked if the policy had failed, Mr Birol deflected the question diplomatically.

"I wouldn't could call it failure of this group or that group, but there is a new fact of life: we can produce oil at $50-$60. It is the success of oil industry," he said.

While the Opec strategy is finally forcing frackers to shut down, it has taken far longer than expected and may prove fleeting since private equity groups armed with a $60bn war chest are waiting to buy up the assets of failed shale companies.

The strategy has been prohibitively costly for Opec itself. Annual revenues have dropped from a peak of $1.2 trillion to around $400bn at today's prices, and a large part of this is a result of Opec's own actions.
A graph showing US oil production

The IEA said US frackers have been able to cut costs by 25pc-30pc and even more in the Permian Basin of West Texas. "A year ago it was widely believed that this would happen by the end of 2015 but that view has proved to be very wide of the mark. In 2014 and again in 2015 supply exceeded demand by massive margins," it said.

Much of the confusion is over the US "rig-count", which has dropped from 1,500 to 440. "Oil production has not fallen nearly as quickly as the rig-count alone would suggest," it said.

Russia is perhaps the biggest casualty, given that it is trying to fund a superpower military status and cover half its budget comes from oil and gas revenues. Its output will fall by 275,000 b/d as the old Soviet fields in western Siberia go into decline.

The Vankor, Uvat and Verkhnechonsk fields all boosted growth last year but there is little else new on the horizon. "Russia is expected to see the steepest output declines," said Mr Birol.
A table showing the Chinese oil demand

Ultimately, a fresh oil price spike or just a return to prices of $80 sows the seeds of its own destruction for the industry. It is likely to accelerate the shift to electric cars as the technology comes of age, and the COP21 climate accords start to bite.

That is a story for the 2020s. Mr Birol said it is a "heroic task" to interest anybody in the Houston oil fraternity in climate change


Scientists are ‘exaggerating carbon threat to reefs and marine life’

The article below points out something that I have often reported, that coral reefs are not easily damaged, bounce back well from damage and can be found in a wide range of water temperatures.  One lot even bounced back after being hit with a thermonuclear detonation

I have for some time now been collecting on one site all the stories I see about coral reefs and a browse through that site will show you what I mean.  The academic journal article underlying the report below is here

An ‘inherent bias’ in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification.

Claims that coral reefs are doomed because human emissions are making the oceans more acidic have been exaggerated, a review of the science has found.

An “inherent bias” in scientific journals in favour of more calamitous predictions has excluded research showing that marine creatures are not damaged by ocean acidification, which is caused by the sea absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It has been dubbed the “evil twin of climate change” and hundreds of studies have claimed to show that it destroys coral reefs and other marine life by making it harder for them to develop shells or skeletons.

The review found that many studies had used flawed methods, subjecting marine creatures to sudden increases in carbon dioxide that would never be experienced in real life.

“In some cases it was levels far beyond what would ever be reached even if we burnt every molecule of carbon on the planet,” Howard Browman, the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, who oversaw the review, said.

He added that this had distracted attention from more urgent threats to reefs such as agricultural pollution, overfishing and tourism.

Dr Browman, who is also principal research scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, found there had been huge increase in articles on ocean acidification in recent years, rising from five in 2005 to 600 last year.

He said that a handful of influential scientific journals and lobbying by international organisations had turned ocean acidification into a major issue.

“Such journals tend to publish doom and gloom stories ... stated without equivocation,” he said. The bias in favour of doom-laden articles was partly the result of pressure on scientists to produce eye-catching work, he added.

“You won’t get a job unless you publish an article that is viewed as of significant importance to society. People often forget that scientists are people and have the same pressures on them and the same kind of human foibles. Some are driven by different things. They want to be prominent.”

Dr Browman invited scientists around the world to contribute studies on ocean acidification for a special edition of his journal. More than half of the 44 studies selected for publication found that raised levels of CO2 had little or no impact on marine life, including crabs, limpets, sea urchins and sponges.

Dr Browman said that the edition had demonstrated that there was “a body of work out there that people had difficulty publishing elsewhere” and that “not every study shows that Nemo is going to be doomed”, a reference to the reef-dwelling clownfish in the Disney film Finding Nemo.

The term ocean acidification was also a misnomer, he said, because it suggested that the oceans could become acidic instead of alkaline.

“The oceans will never become acid because there is such a huge buffering capacity in the oceans. We simply could never release enough CO2 into the atmosphere to cause the pH to go below 7 [the point in the pH scale at which a solution becomes acidic].

“If they had called it something else, such as ‘lower alkalinity’, it wouldn’t have been as catchy,” he said.

Dr Browman, a marine scientist for 35 years, said he was not saying that ocean acidification posed no threat, but that he believed that “a higher level of academic scepticism” should be applied to the topic.


Hoagy strikes back -- rejecting the above claims

Hoagy is the go-to man about coral at the University of Queensland -- and a fervent Warmist.  He has come out of his shell in order to hype up alarm about Australia's Great Barrier Reef.  He went quiet for a while when his own research showed the reef to be very resilient but he seems to have recovered from that blow, as he has returned to the fray a few times in recent years.

Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

I was born a short distance from the reef in Far North Queensland so I have heard about it off and on for most of my life.  And for most of my 72 years, I have heard  of imminent doom facing it.  But the doom has not happened. All that has happened is that the reef has gone through periods of death and rebirth that differ from human cycles of death and rebirth mainly in that the coral deaths have never affected the whole reef.  And so the reef is still thriving.  It is still a major tourist attraction.

Hoagy's reply is below.  As you can see it actually does nothing to refute the many research findings about coral survival in all sorts of settings. He just skates around them.  Hoagy is losing it.

But maybe he lost it long ago. As I have often pointed out, corals are at their most prolific in the Torres Strait area, Queensland's warmest waters.  So how is warming harmful to them?  Hoagy has never answered that as far as I can see.  The most that warming would do would be a slight alteration to the distribution of species -- and I am sure Hoagy knows that

If you read The Australian or Britain’s The Times this week, you might have concluded that concerns about ocean warming and acidification are all a big beat-up.

Based on a study of the expert literature, the newspapers ran with a line that the marine science expert community has a penchant for “doom and gloom stories which has skewed academic reporting” because we only report the bad bits and rarely the good.

Given that the majority of scientists in this area (including the hundreds working in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process) do not feel this is the case, what is going on?

Newsflash: the dog isn’t barking

Reporting that a dog isn’t barking can sometimes be as important as reporting when it is. However, if we were to follow the newspapers' rationale, the scientific community should be pumping out endless scientific papers that report that nothing has happened. This would lead to numerous and repetitive studies showing that there is no significant effect (if that were indeed the case).

Print space in science journals is in short and coveted supply. To publish in a respected journal, you need to have something new, significant and well supported to say. In the case of the impacts of ocean acidification, it would indeed be newsworthy if a study reported that a set of organisms was unaffected by ocean acidification (to use our analogy, a newsworthy non-barking dog).

Indeed, some studies have shown precisely that, in the case of some invertebrate and fish species. These studies have received considerable attention given their departure from a literature that is finding a vast number of species that are affected.

This is not surprising. But after several studies have convincingly documented how one group of organisms responds, the novelty, significance and appeal of publishing further papers about those organisms quickly falls away. That doesn’t mean that the observations of no effect have been discarded or demoted in importance. The conclusion of “no effect” will remain until credible studies demonstrating the opposite come along. That is, until a study finds a dog that is barking.

Of course, once we have established that dogs bark, there are likely to be many papers to produce about the significant nuances of dogs and their barking such as the effect of size on barking, how important evening light might be for stimulating juvenile dogs to bark and so on. Again, this the way science produces detailed insight into significant issues like ocean warming and acidification.

Paper weight versus significance?

The importance of an idea is not a simple function of the number of papers. We don’t rate an idea or conclusion solely on the weight of the pages on one side versus another. This is where the newspapers and the original study wrongly assumed that the smaller proportion of “no effect” papers on the subject of ocean acidification was an indication of “skewed academic reporting”.

In reality, the massive and growing proportion of studies showing that ocean warming and acidification have real effects on ocean life shows that there is much to learn and be concerned about when it comes to these issues.

If the headlines from The Australian and The Times were correct, then conclusions about risks associated with ocean warming and acidification could be refuted at every turn. Our projections of the future of coral reefs, based on our allegedly distorted scientific literature, could be safely ignored.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over the past year or so, many marine scientists like myself have been watching a very large blob of ocean water, up to 2? warmer than normal, across the equatorial Pacific and Atlantic oceans. We have been predicting substantial mass coral bleaching across the planet as 2016 unfolds.

At first, you might question our hypothesis and projections – these changes seem to be small changes in sea temperature. Yet we know these small variations can have huge implications. An increase of as little as 1-2? on top of regular summer temperatures can mean the difference between life and death for coral reefs.

However, the past, plus a rich and valuable scientific literature, has taught us that these changes are serious. The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, has lost up to 10% of its corals to these warming events over the past three decades. Over the past 25 years, relatively short periods of anomalously high sea temperatures have killed up to 95% of corals on some reefs.

The evidence suggests that we are likely to lose most corals worldwide in as little as 30 to 40 years if we continue to warm the climate at current rates.

Science works

The ultimate test is whether the elevated sea surface temperatures (the “warm blob”) translates into impacts on the ground. True to expert predictions, Hawaii and many other parts of the Pacific, including Australia, have begun bleaching on cue – hardly evidence of biased and unreliable science.

And as the year rolls out, we should see mass coral bleaching and mortality across the western Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and, later, the Northern Hemisphere as the year progresses and the third global bleaching event rolls out around the planet. We should also see the significant loss of corals from many parts of the world.

There is no doubt that this type of information sounds alarming. It is not, however, a consequence of biased or skewed science. Rather, it is a function of the careful build-up of significant ideas to which we would be well advised to pay attention.



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6 March, 2016

"Old sooty material"!  A change off CO2

Warmists are always telling us that Greenland ice is melting and it's all due to CO2 in the air.  But below we read that "Old sooty material" in the ice is the culprit

Greenland's snowy surface has been getting darker over the past 20 years, absorbing more heat from the sun and increasing snow melt.

That's the conclusion of a 30-year study of satellite data, which found that the darkening and melting have accelerated due to 'feedback loops'.

The trend is set to continue, with the surface's reflectivity - or albedo - decreasing by as much as 10 per cent by the end of the century, researchers said.

The findings have global implications, because fresh meltwater pouring into the ocean from Greenland raises sea levels and could affect ocean ecology.

While soot blowing in from wildfires contributes to the problem, experts were surprised to find they are not driving the change.

Professor Marco Tedesco, a researcher at Columbia University and adjunct scientist at Nasa Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said the darkening is caused by old sooty material locked below the surface of the ice sheet.

As the ice starts to melt in summer, dust and soot are exposed and darken the pristine snowy surface. Then, as the snow refreezes, the grains get larger because they become stuck together.

Both the old dark material and the new grainier snow decrease the reflectivity of the ice sheet – a property called the albedo – particularly in the infrared range.

This means that more solar radiation is absorbed, leading to faster melting in a potentially-disastrous feedback loop.

The study used satellite data from 1981 to 2012 and found that, at first, there was very little change.

But from about 1996, the darkening increased and the ice began absorbing about two per cent more solar radiation per decade.

At the same time, summer temperatures in Greenland increased by about 0.74°C per decade, due to the effects of the North Atlantic Oscillation.

This is a natural large-scale weather cycle bringing warm, moist air from the south.

The pattern shifted back again in 2013 to 2014, but by then the ice sheet had become more sensitive and surface melting spiked again in 2015.

'It's a complex system of interaction between the atmosphere and the ice sheet surface,' Professor Tedesco said.

'You don't necessarily have to have a "dirtier" snowpack to make it dark.

'It might look clean to our eyes but be more effective in absorbing solar radiation.'

'Overall, what matters, it is the total amount of solar energy that the surface absorbs. This is the real driver of melting.'


Are wind turbines killing whales?

Environmentalists say navy sonar hurts whales, but ignore impacts of offshore wind farms

Paul Driessen and Mark Duchamp

Between January 9 and February 4 this year, 29 sperm whales got stranded and died on English, German and Dutch beaches. Environmentalists and the news media offered multiple explanations – except the most obvious and likely one: offshore wind farms.

Indeed, that area has the world’s biggest concentration of offshore wind turbines, and there is ample evidence that their acoustic pollution can interfere with whale communication and navigation.

However, Britain’s Guardian looked for answers everywhere but in the right place. That’s not surprising, as it tends to support wind energy no matter the cost to people or the environment. After consulting with a marine environmental group, the paper concluded: “The North Sea acts as a trap.… It’s virtually impossible for [whales] to find their way out through the narrow English Channel.”

No it’s not. These intelligent animals would naturally have found their way to and through the Channel by simply following the coast of England or continental Europe. But the author seems determined to pursue his “explanation,” even when it becomes increasingly illogical. “The [trapped] whales become dehydrated because they obtain their water from squid,” he argues, before acknowledging that “the dead Dutch and German animals were well-fed,” and that the North Sea’s squid population has increased in recent years.

The article discards Royal Navy sonar and explosives, because “big naval exercises in UK waters are unusual in midwinter.” Finally, the author concludes with this quote from his purported expert: “When there’s a mass stranding, it’s always wise to look at possible human effects. But, at the moment, I don’t see anything pointing in that direction.” He should look a bit harder. Not everyone is so blind.

Indeed, “researchers at the University of St. Andrews have found that the noise made by offshore wind farms can interfere with a whale’s sonar, and can in tragic cases see them driven onto beaches where they often die,” a UK Daily Mail article  observed.

It is certainly possible that permanent damage to the cetaceans’ middle and inner ears, and thus to their built-in sonar, can result from large air guns used during seismic surveys and from violent bursts of noise associated with pilings being rammed into the rock bed. Wind promoters themselves admit that their pile-driving can be heard up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) underwater, and can be harmful to whales that happen to be nearby. But unless these injuries cause external bleeding, they are very difficult to detect.

Natural phenomena such as seaquakes, underwater volcanic eruptions and meteorites crashing into the oceans have likely been the cause of whale beachings throughout history, by injuring the animals’ inner ears and sonar organs, frightening and disorienting them, and causing them to seek refuge in shallow waters. In more recent years, “military exercises using mid-frequency sonar have been linked quite clearly to the disorientation and death of beaked whales,” says The Guardian.

Low frequency sonar can be even more dangerous, the Natural Resource Defense Council asserts. “Some systems operate at more than 235 decibels,” the NRDC has said, “producing sound waves that can travel across tens or even hundreds of miles of ocean. During testing off the California coast, noise from the Navy’s main low-frequency sonar system was detected across the breadth of the northern Pacific Ocean.”

The U.S. Navy itself has recognized the danger that sonar systems represent for marine mammals. As reported in Science magazine: “In a landmark study, the U.S. Navy has concluded that it killed at least six whales in an accident involving common ship-based sonar. The finding, announced late last month by the Navy and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), may complicate Navy plans to field a powerful new sonar system designed to detect enemy submarines at long distances,” despite how important that system and its submarine and surface ship counterparts are for national security.

It has been said the “low-frequency active sonar” from this system would be the loudest sound ever put into the seas, The Guardian states. But wind turbines also emit low frequency noise, including dangerous infrasound. At sea, these vibrations are transmitted via the masts to the water, and via the pilings to the rock bed. They can travel up to 31 miles (50 kilometers).

Granted, the acoustic pollution caused by sonar – particularly powerful navy systems – is greater than that from wind turbines. But wind turbine noise and infrasound are nearly constant, last as long as the turbines are in place and come from multiple directions, as in the areas where the whales were recently stranded.

On land, although the wind industry continues to deny any culpability, evidence is mounting that low frequency and particularly infrasound waves emitted by wind turbines have significant adverse effects on local residents, including sleep deprivation, headaches, tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rates) and a dozen other ailments. Underwater, a milieu where sound waves travel much farther, it would be irresponsible and unscientific to argue that whales are not affected by operating wind turbines, all the more because cetaceans use their sonar to “see” what’s around them

As scientists have pointed out, “It is likely that acoustic masking by anthropogenic sounds is having an increasingly prevalent impact on animals’ access to acoustic information that is essential for communication and other important activities, such as navigation and prey/predator detection.”

“Blinded” by this masking, whales and dolphins could seek refuge in shallow waters, away from big ships and killer whales. There, low tides could surprise them, as large pelagic species have limited experience with tidal flows.

In September 2012, 19 pilot whales, a minke whale and a large sei whale beached on the coast of Scotland opposite an area where air guns were being used by ships surveying the ocean floor, as a prelude to installing offshore wind farms. “A second pod of 24 pilot whales was spotted in shallow water by Cellardyke around the same time, but [it] returned to sea without beaching,” the article noted.

Offshore turbines were also associated with “many” stillborn baby seals washing up onshore near the UK’s Scroby Sands wind farm in June 2005. “It's hard not to conclude the wind farm is responsible,” the author concluded.

Many more similar deaths may well have been caused by wind farms at sea. The scientific and environmental literature abounds in warnings about risks to marine mammals from man-made noise.

Modern 8-megawatt offshore turbines are 656 feet (200 meters) above the waves; their rotating blades sweep across a 538-foot (164-meter) diameter. Those enormous blades create powerful pulsating infrasound and exact a toll on many species of marine birds, and even on bats that are attracted to the turbines as far as 9 miles (14 km) offshore.

In a February 2005 letter, the Massachusetts Audubon Society estimated that the proposed Cape Cod wind project alone would kill up to 6,600 marine birds each year, including the roseate tern, which is on the endangered list.

Do we really want to add marine mammals to the slaughter of birds and bats, by expanding this intermittent, harmful, enormously expensive and heavily subsidized energy source in marine habitats?

In addition, having forests of these enormous turbines off our coasts will greatly increase the risk of collisions for surface vessels, especially in storms or dense fog, as well as for submarines. It will also impair radar and sonar detection of hostile ships and low-flying aircraft, including potential terrorists, and make coastal waters more dangerous for Coast Guard helicopters and other rescue operations.

The offshore wind industry makes no sense from an economic, environmental, defense or shipping perspective. To exempt these enormous installations from endangered species and other laws that are applied with a heavy hand to all other industries – and even to the U.S. and Royal Navy – is irresponsible, and even criminal.

Via email

The Inconvenient Facts the Media Ignore About Climate Change

Rep. Lamar Smith

Americans in large numbers are turning off TV newscasts, canceling subscriptions to newspapers, and seeking other sources of news. Distrust of the national media has hit an all-time high.

According to a recent Gallup poll, six in ten Americans now have little or no confidence in the national media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 65 percent of Americans believe that the national news media have a negative effect on our country.

Americans are frustrated because they know that many of the “news stories” they read are only opinion columns in disguise. If the story does not fit the liberal worldview, then facts are ignored, dissent is silenced, and Americans are told what to think. Perhaps one of the worst examples of one-sided, biased reporting involves global warming.

Those who reject the liberal viewpoint that climate change is the greatest threat to our country are ridiculed and ignored. For example, the Associated Press recently amended its stylebook to recommend that those who question the science behind global warming be called climate change “doubters” instead of “skeptics.” But this is inaccurate, since many “skeptics” don’t doubt that climate change has occurred.

Liberal groups continue to attempt to silence debate. The repeated claims that “the debate is over” and that “97 percent of scientists agree that human-caused global warming is real” are false and mislead the public. In testimony before the Science Committee, a lead author of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the 97 percent estimate “just crumbles when you touch it.”

The source of this “97 percent” myth is a discredited study that attempted to categorize scholarly articles on climate change by the position the papers took on the issue. But most of the papers never took a position on climate change at all. This has not stopped the liberal national media from touting this illegitimate statistic.

Silencing debate is contrary to the scientific method. If these groups were confident about their arguments, they would welcome more debate to test their theories. However, some media outlets, such as the Los Angeles Times, have changed their policies and no longer accept letters to the editor from those who question human-made climate change. That this would happen in a democracy where free speech is enshrined in the Constitution is unbelievable.

Scientists who are not alarmists agree that climate change is a complex subject with many variables. But the liberal national media instead chooses to focus on human contributions and usually fails to provide both sides.

For example, the national media hyped NASA’s finding that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Ignored was the footnote that revealed that NASA was only 38 percent certain this was accurate. Less than fifty-fifty. Americans would have been better served by a coin toss.

Too often, these alarmist announcements are based on manipulations of existing data. And when Congress or independent researchers question federal agencies about the data, they are criticized as “attacking scientists.”

Particularly regrettable is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fails to include all relevant data sources in its monthly temperature news releases. Atmospheric satellite data, considered by many to be the most reliable, has clearly showed no warming for the past two decades. This fact is well documented, but it does not fit the liberal politics of the administration or the national media.

NOAA also published a controversial study last year where scientists altered global surface temperature data and widely publicized their results as refuting the two-decade pause in global warming. This week, a new peer-reviewed study was published in the journal Nature that, according to one of the authors, shows “reduced rates of surface warming” and “essentially refutes” NOAA’s study. Shouldn’t the media acknowledge that their alarmist headlines are based on incomplete information?

Americans will continue to distrust the liberal national media until the media provide objective coverage of the news. Americans deserve all the facts that surround climate change, not just those that the national media want to promote.


Roberts Undermines Last Year's Rebuke of EPA

It's become a stretch to call Chief Justice John Roberts a conservative justice, or even a consistent one. On Thursday, Roberts rejected a plea by the State of Michigan and 20 other states to block the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's new air pollution rules.

The states reasoned that the EPA should be blocked from enforcing regulations on power plants because the Supreme Court ruled last June in Michigan v. EPA that the rule was illegal. In that original ruling, the late Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, "[The] EPA strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants."

But despite those strong words issued less than a year ago, Roberts denied the states' petition. The EPA had argued its rule — though declared illegal by the high court — was being revised, and the states wouldn't be harmed by enforcement in the meantime. "He never even turned it over to the rest of the court for a decision," wrote Hot Air's Jazz Shaw. "Roberts just flatly and unilaterally rejected the case on his own. ... I don't see this decision going down in Supreme Court history on the same level as Roberts' botched Obamacare ruling, but it's certainly one more straw piled on the camel's back when it comes to his conservative bona fides."

In response to Roberts' action, the EPA said its now-protected standards will help protect "millions of American children" from pollution. Even though it lost last year, thanks to Justice Roberts, the EPA won and is encouraged in its hyper regulation of America.


Greenies love rattlesnakes too

Anything but people.  Charie Baker is what passes for a Republican in Massachusetts but we read of him: 

"Renewable energy and climate change were a major theme in Governor Charlie Baker's State of the Commonwealth speech, as he highlighted his support for "ambitious goals" to reduce our state's carbon pollution through a "diversified, sustainable, and affordable approach."

MOST POLITICIANS would be loathe to be associated with anything slithery and potentially deadly.

But Governor Charlie Baker must feel his sky-high approval rating leaves him some points to play with. Baker, who has been shy to endorse a candidate in the Republican presidential primary, has endorsed a plan to populate a perfectly good island, in the Quabbin Reservoir, with 150 poisonous rattlesnakes.

According to the state’s website, the endangered timber rattlesnake, aka Crotalus horridus, is a large, heavy-bodied snake in the pit-viper family. Adults grow anywhere from 36 to 60 inches long. The state’s science experiment would involve breeding these creatures at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, in Rhode Island, and, when they’re nice and big, releasing them on Mount Zion Island.

But don’t worry, says Tom French, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife: The snakes will be implanted with radio transmitters so we can know where they are at all times. That way, in the event one of these snakes survives the swim — oh yes, they can swim — to the mainland, the state will be able to grab them before they threaten an unsuspecting hiker.

Sorry, but that’s supposed to be a comforting thought? If anything, the idea of a bionic snake doubles the freaky factor.

If the state’s Fisheries and Wildlife officials are in the mood to bring things back, there are dozens of other species on the endangered list that may be a better pick for revival. For example, there’s the “tiny-flowered buttercup,” an “inconspicuous, spring-flowering member of the buttercup family.” Or if you really want to go the reptile route, how about the bog turtle?

At least the threatened piping plover — the bane of Massachusetts beachgoers, who are banned from large swaths of prime sand every summer to protect the birds — have some notion of cuteness about them. That, and you know, the fact that they aren’t poisonous to said beachgoers. There is nothing cute about a giant snake with two venom-conducting fangs in the front of its mouth.

If you’re not freaked out by the snake itself, perhaps this will do it: State officials will reportedly visit the island up to eight times a month to check on the slithery new residents. (I’m picturing Governor Baker as the star of one of those wildlife documentaries: “Crikey, it’s a giant poisonous rattlesnake!”)

In other words, your tax dollars will be paying for snake baby-sitting. As much fun as this Jurassic Park-like experiment sounds, perhaps those snake supervision resources would be better spent on something like full-day kindergarten for our human residents.

I have no doubt that the good people at Fisheries and Wildlife are well-intentioned. Their stated mission is “conservation — including restoration, protection and management — of fish and wildlife resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.”

But I do doubt how many Bay Staters are going to benefit from, and enjoy, having more snakes slithering around.

You’ve got to hand it to the snakes. Everyone dreams of having their own private island to live on someday. That’s exactly what the rattlers are getting, and they don’t even have to pay taxes.

Maybe they have one heck of a lobbyist. Even General Electric didn’t get that good a deal.

Or, maybe, this plan is just a ridiculous waste of the state’s time and resources.


Greenie crook

Congressional investigators have obtained an internal audit from George Mason University that suggests that one of its professors—a major proponent of man-made climate change—mismanaged millions of dollars in taxpayer money by “double dipping” in violation of university policy.

The professor, Jagadish Shukla, received $511,410 in combined compensation from George Mason University and his own taxpayer-funded climate change research center in 2014 alone, without receiving required permission from university officials, the audit found.

The audit looking at more than a decade of Shukla’s finances is disclosed in a letter sent this morning from Rep. Lamar Smith,  R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, to the inspector general of the National Science Foundation.

“The committee’s investigation has revealed serious concerns related to Dr. Shukla’s management of taxpayer money,” Smith writes in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Signal.

Since 2001, Shukla used his research center to pay himself and his wife more than $5.6 million in compensation, “an excessive amount for a nonprofit relying on taxpayer money,” Smith writes.

In the letter, Smith offers to assist Allison Lerner, the National Science Foundation’s inspector general, in any investigation she “may deem appropriate” in response to the GMU audit.

The Daily Signal previously reported that the Texas Republican began making inquiries last fall about reports that Shukla had received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants to study climate change in addition to his publicly funded salary.

Shukla, 71, who specializes in atmospheric, oceanic, and earth studies at GMU, is also the founder and president of the Rockville, Md.-based Institute of Global Environment and Society, or IGES, a nonprofit outfit that is now the focus of congressional scrutiny.

Smith writes:

    "IGES has apparently received $63 million from taxpayer funded grants since 2001, comprising over 98 percent of its total revenue. These grants were awarded by the NSF [National Science Foundation], National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  Since 2001, as president of IGES, Dr. Shukla appears to have paid himself and his wife a total of $5.6 million in compensation—an excessive amount for a nonprofit relying on taxpayer money. This information raises serious questions about Dr. Shukla’s financial management of IGES"

Steve McIntyre, a statistician noted for challenging the data and methodology used in United Nations reports on climate change, offers a detailed analysis of Shukla’s compensation and how it squares with university and government policies in his Climate Audit blog.

The India-born Shukla, who joined the faculty of Fairfax, Va.-based George Mason University in 1993, drew a salary there of $314,000 by 2014, according to Climate Audit.

Smith also raised concerns about the relationship between Shukla’s “partisan political activity” and taxpayer funds in a letter he sent to the professor in October.

Shukla’s name appears on top of a list of 20 signers of a letter sent to President Barack Obama; Attorney General Loretta Lynch; and John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy asking them to investigate corporations and other groups skeptical of climate change under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Federal prosecutors typically use that law, known as RICO, to pursue organized crime.

Some who hold that man-made climate change is not established scientific fact say Shukla’s “RICO 20” letter essentially calls for the federal government to prosecute companies and scientists who dissent from the Obama administration’s views on climate change.

However, signatories who spoke with The Daily Signal said they advocated RICO investigations only if it could be demonstrated that certain climate change skeptics had “knowingly deceived the public.”

No such RICO investigations appear to be under way. But by putting his signature at the top of the letter to Obama and Lynch, Shukla drew scrutiny and attention to his own activities.

In the new letter, Smith details key findings of the George Mason University audit. He writes:

    "It appears IGES may have improperly commingled taxpayer funds with private charitable contributions when it shifted $100,000 to an education charity in India founded by Dr. Shukla, the Institute of Global Education Equality of Opportunity and Prosperity Inc.  This raises concerns that taxpayer money intended to be used for climate research was redirected to an overseas organization favored by Dr. Shukla".

The Texas Republican adds:

    "The recent audit conducted by GMU appears to reveal that Dr. Shukla engaged in what is referred to as “double dipping.” In other words, he received his full salary at GMU, while working full time at IGES and receiving a full salary there. This practice may have violated GMU’s university policy, his employment contract with the university, and Virginia state law.

    For example, according to GMU’s Faculty Handbook, ‘outside employment and paid consulting cannot exceed the equivalent of one day per work week without written authorization from the collegiate dean or institute director.’ Dr. Shukla violated this policy [in] five different time periods from 2003 to 2015 because he failed to receive approval for paid consulting in excess of one day per week. This allowed Dr. Shukla to double dip by receiving his full salary from GMU while receiving an excessive salary for working 28 hours per week at IGES.

    In another instance, in 2014, Dr. Shukla received $292,688 in compensation from IGES for working 28 hours per week while simultaneously receiving 100 percent of his GMU salary.  In total, Dr. Shukla received $511,410 in compensation from IGES and GMU during 2014, without ever receiving the appropriate permission from GMU officials, apparently violating university policy."

Instead of serving the public interest with his nonprofit research center on climate change, Smith concludes in the letter, Shukla put taxpayers in a position where they “picked up the tab for excessive double dipping salaries, nepotism, and questionable money transfers.”

‘Serious Risks’

“The irony here is over the top,” said Marlo Lewis Jr., a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who writes on global warming and energy policy, among other issues.

“First, Shukla appears to have made millions from taxpayers through funding improprieties,” Lewis said. “But Shukla also led the call for a RICO investigation of organizations challenging climate orthodoxy—a campaign which his co-ringleader at GMU admits aims to impose financial penalties on political opponents while yielding payouts to further underwrite the climate alarm movement.”

Last year, CEI asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Shukla’s nonprofit research center, the one now the subject of the House probe.

“We hope Congress’s progress spurs the IRS to turn a serious eye to our November complaint,”  Lewis said, adding:

    "Shukla and his comrades … accuse fossil fuel companies of hiding climate risks from the American people, an impossible offense given the billions in annual government, pressure group, and media spending on climate advocacy. Yet, they refuse to acknowledge that their agenda, which would put an energy-starved world on an energy diet, poses serious risks to the world’s people, especially the poorest of the poor. By hiding climate policy risk, Shukla and his allies have deceived the American people. By his own logic, he should be the target of a RICO investigation".



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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4 March, 2016

If I were religious, I would believe that God had a sense of humor

I am the most utter atheist you can imagine.  Following Rudolf Carnap, I believe that metaphysical statements are meaningless. So the statement "God exists" is meaningless.

But I would like to believe otherwise and Warmists encourage me in that.  There was some slight global warming in the late C20  and alarmists promptly assumed that would go on forever.  So God taught them a lesson in humility.  He made C21 a time of utter climate stasis.  There were no statistically significant temperature changes during C21.  In some years the temperature idled upward and in some it idled downwards.  But no overall trend

But his latest wheeze is the best of all.  He finally allowed a slight global temperature rise in 2015 but ensured that it coincided with a period of of ZERO CO2 rise.  See below.

So he got them for their frauds going and coming.  If there was a CO2 rise there was no temperature rise and if there was a temperature rise there was no CO2 rise.

I am tempted to say: "Allah Akhbar" ("God is great!")

Total and utter crooks

Pesky CO2 stasis

Despite its utter triviality, the 2015 temperature rise produced by NOAA of 13 hundredths of one degree has been hailed with gladsome hearts by Warmists. Their enthusiasm has however been tempered by the well-known fact that 2015 hosted an El Nino event, a natural climate oscillation that is known to produce a rise in termperatures.  So it is perfectly clear that the 2015 temperature is no proof of anthropogenic warming.  Warmists don't like having their toys taken off them, however, so Jim Hansen and others have dismissed the El Nino contribution as slight. 

So how great or small was it?  They do not say.  They offer no calibration or adjustment.  The adjustment kings don't do that adjustment! Yet an adjustment as good as any other they use would be to take the spike observed for the previous El Nino and simply subtract it from the 2015 temperature.  Not hard!  Warmists often found fault with skeptics who did not correct for the effects of the 1998 El Nino so it is quite a travesty that they are not  making any corrections for the current El Nino. 

But something that needs no inferences at all is the CO2 record. If the temperature rise was anthropogenic, global warming theory tells us that CO2 was responsible.  It tells us that the temperature spike should have been preceded by a spike in CO2 levels in the atmosphere.  So did that happen?  Was there an unusual rise in CO2 levels during 2015?

For information about CO2 levels I like to turn to the Cape Grim figures, as it is much better located than Mauna Loa, which is near an active volcano.  So I first looked to Cape Grim, in Northern Tasmania.  And the last 4 months they had up showed exactly the opposite of the Warmist story. The levels were drastically plateaued.  They showed variations only in the decimal points of CO2 ppm.

I was rather pleased with that finding but I was vexed that CSIRO had still not put up the figures from December 2015 or January 2016.  February 2016 would have been nice too but I could cut them some slack on that one.  And WHY were they so behind with their posting?  Were the more recent figures even more devastating?

So I turned to Mauna Loa.  And my first look at the Mauna Loa site was an instant laugh.  They showed that the difference between January 2015 and January 2016 was only 2.56 ppm.  But I still wanted the monthly data and I was pleased to see that they do have the whole of 2015 plus January 2016 up.

And the picture was crystal clear. The 2015 figures as a whole just oscillated.  It was up and down around the 400ppm mark for the whole of the year.  Threre was nothing to explain the 2015 temperature change. It's only the January 2016 figure that edged up a bit.

So even that headline figure that gave me an immediate laugh did not represent 2015.  They got a CO2 rise only by courtesy of January 2016.  They must be steaming with frustration.  I always go back as far as I can into the source data when I think something is fishy and did I find stinking fish this time!

How steaming were they? The following footnote on their site probably covers it:  "The last year of data are still preliminary, pending recalibrations of reference gases and other quality control checks. The Mauna Loa data are being obtained at an altitude of 3400 m in the northern subtropics, and may not be the same as the globally averaged CO2 concentration at the surface".  They don't like their own data.

So the 2015 temperature rise was WHOLLY due to El Nino or some other natural effect.  What a come-down!  Once again we see the Green/Left need lies and deceptions to support their narratives.

Be Prepared For Latest UAH Satellite Global Temperature Data

At last El Nino has shown up in the satellite data.  Warmists will say it was due to CO2 but since the 2015 temperature rise was WHOLLY due to El Nino and natural influences (see above), we must expect the same for this rise too.  We don't have the CO2 figures for February yet but January showed only a tiny rise.

The media will be spreading catastrophic global warming news from the latest satellite temperature data from March 1, 2016.

The University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) posted its latest satellite global temperature data that spans until the end of February 2016.  This is a data set from 1979 until present when satellite temperature measurements were first made.  The data follows:

Latest Global Average Tropospheric Temperatures

Due to the super El Nino weather system along the Equator on the Western side of South America, this February was the hottest global temperature measured over the history of satellite temperature measurements from 1979.

The ocean temperature of the El Nino for December 2015 surpassed the highest temperature for the 1998 super El Nino.  Ocean cooling started January 2016.  What is in store for the rest of 2016 remains to be seen.

As seen for the 1998 El Nino, rapid cooling took place after the peak temperature early 1998.  This was caused by the El Nino turning into the ocean cooling La Nina.  Possibly the same temperature drop may take place in the future for 2016.  This remains to be seen.

The satellite temperature data shows a temperature rise since 1979 of 0.12 degree C. per decade; or 1.2 degrees per century which places the earth's warming below the recommended limit on global warming of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

Data over thousands of years have shown approximate 500-year cycles of planet warming and cooling.  We are currently in the Current Warming Period which commenced approximately 1850.  This was preceded by the Little Ice Age from approximately 1350 to 1850.  Thus continued global warming should be anticipated until after the start of the 22 century.

Email from James H Rust, professor of nuclear engineering and policy advisor The Heartland Institute

This food shortage BS never stops

Greenies have been making false prophecies of food shortages for years now.  Even Hitler did it. And I have often rebutted them. In brief: The world's internationally-traded food problem has for a long time been glut;  Warming would open up new agricultural land in Canada and Russia; Warming should cause more evaporation from the oceans, thus giving MORE rainfall, not less.  A prediction of flood might make some sense but a prediction of water shortage makes no sense at all

The modelling crap below is a laugh a minute. If global warming DID exist, it would be INCREASING food-crop yields. Plants gobble up CO2. It is their basic food. And a warmer world would be a wetter one -- again giving plants a boost. The increased level of CO2 now in the atmosphere has already benefited plant growth, with the greening of the Sahel the most vivid example of that

Aside from Greenie folly and basic biology, however, there is China. China was a food-importer under Mao and any Greenie wisehead would see that as inevitable given that an area about the same as the contiguous United States has to feed 1.3 billion people with primitive technology. Poop is their main fertilizer.

But under capitalism China feeds the world. It is a huge exporter of food and exports to most countries on the globe. For instance: "By value, China is the world's No.1 exporter of fruits and vegetables, and a major exporter of other food products ranging from apple juice to garlic and sausage casings. Its agricultural exports to the US surged to $US2.26 billion last year". And that quote was from 2007!

And have another look at Russia.  How many people know how big Siberia is?  It is roughly 5 milllion sq. miles, compared to about 3 milion sq. miles for the continental USA.  It's BIG.  So if warming opened up Southern Siberia to agriculture, the potential for new food production would be enormous.

Politics and economics are the main constraints on the food supply, nothing else. Capitalism is its friend. Greenies are its enemy

The academic journal article is: "Global and regional health effects of future food production under climate change: a modelling study", continuing a long tradition of British medical journals involving themselves in politics

At least half a million people will die in the year 2050 as a result of the impact climate change will have on food production, according to experts.

The stark forecast is expected to occur because of changes in diet and bodyweight from reduced crop productivity.

Most of these additional deaths will be in China, India, and other low-income countries in the Pacific and Asia, but the effects on food availability will also reach into richer countries.

Writing in The Lancet, Dr Marco Springmann from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food at University of Oxford claimed climate change could cut improvements in food availability by about a third by 2050.

This would lead to around 3.2 per cent less food being available for the average person.

In particular, this will include reductions in fruit, vegetables, and red meat amounting to about 99kcal fewer calories per person per day.

These changes in food availability will also increase non-communicable conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer, said Dr Springmann.

It's not all bad news, however.

The reduction in food availability is being predicted to cut obesity-related deaths by 260,000, but even this is slightly less than the 266,000 extra deaths predicted as a result of people being underweight.

Springmann and colleagues used an agricultural economic model with data on emission predictions and possible climate responses to evaluate the effects on global food production, trade, and consumption for 2050.


Good old Graham Readfearn from Brisbane is doing damage control

The recent Fyfe et al. paper which repeatedly referred to a "warming slowdown" in recent years was curious in its non-use of numbers.  The authors said that there was a slowdown but not by how much.  By slowdown they meant that the rate of warming was notably reduced but it did not vanish altogether.  Curiously for a scientific paper (and I have read it right through) they made no attempt at quantifying exactly how much warming went on during the "slowdown".  They said there was some but not how much.  Instead they waffled about all the natural events which could have caused the slowdown.  So the paper was just a reluctant admission that the numbers ran contrary to global warming theory.

Graham Readfearn below has picked up that ball and run with it.  He is basically just re-running the paper in a form suitable for a non-technical audience.  It's all just a big apology for failed  prophecy.  That they can't put a number on how much warming there was in recent years is really rather amusing and a big step backwards for them

Did global warming really slow down for a decade or so in the 2000s and does it really matter if it did?

New analysis written by a group of well regarded climate scientists appeared in a journal a couple of weeks ago, arguing that global warming did slowdown.

Those first two sentences are about as straightforward as this post gets. So I suggest that you either get out now while you can or you buckle in.

That’s because for us to understand this issue properly, we need more context than you could shake a contextual stick at, we need to have a bit of respect for the scientific process and we also need to embrace some nuance – three things the public conversation on climate change isn’t particularly known for.

We also need to ask the authors of the analysis some questions, which I’ve done (don’t you dare just scroll).

First, the analysis appeared in the journal Nature Climate Change and it basically argued that between 2001 and 2014, the rate of global warming slowed down a bit.

This is where we need our first injection of nuance. When we say “global warming” what we’re actually talking about here are the air temperatures which, as one of the authors told me, is a relatively “fickle” measure of climate change.

The amount of heat going into the oceans, the rate of sea level rise and the increasing heat extremes are more reliable or more relevant measures.

The authors, led by Dr John Fyfe, of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, wrote that some climate models over this period also tended to overestimate the rate of warming at the surface.

The authors say this “slowdown” was caused by a combination of natural ocean cycles, volcanoes going off, less energy coming from the sun and changes in the amounts of tiny particles in the atmosphere, mainly from industrial pollution.

Now, climate science denialists have welcomed the paper as a great big serving of “I told you so” with smug sauce and an overbearing garnish of self-satisfied rodomontade.

British climate science denier James Delingpole also delivered a pudding of chilled vexatious abuse with lumpy custard (Delingpole attacked “pause deniers” on the back of a paper that expressly says ‘we do not believe that warming has ceased’).

So as is the norm, many of those commentators have either not read the paper, have misinterpreted the paper, have cherry-picked the bits of the paper that they like, ignored context or failed to ask the authors the most simple follow-up questions.

What’s more, the analysis is extremely unlikely to be the final word on the matter in the peer reviewed literature. Criticism of the statistical methods and choices used in the paper has already begun to surface, and you can be confident there will be more to come.

Two previous papers in particular have argued that statistically and practically, the slowdown didn’t happen.

In the journal Science in June 2015, Thomas Karl and colleagues from the US government’s National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration argued the slowdown was an “illusion”.

Once biases in the data were corrected, mainly concerning ocean temperature readings taken by ships, the slowdown disappeared, the paper said

Research published in the journal Scientific Reports and led by the University of Bristol’s Stephan Lewandowsky also argued any so-called “hiatus” did not exist in the context of longer-term trends (17 years or more). Both these papers are discussed in the latest analysis.

So the most obvious question for the authors of this latest analysis is, what does this actually mean for long-term projections of climate change, especially if we keep loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels?

Dr John Fyfe, of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, told me:

    Climate models did not generally simulate the slowdown because the slowdown was mainly due to random internal variability. As for policy makers, they should be aware that once the recent phase of internal variability flips – which we think is about now – global surface temperatures will rapidly rise.

    It would be very wrong to interpret our paper as suggesting that global warming has stopped. Our findings show that the rate of human-caused warming over the early-2000s was about the same as before.

    However, over the early 2000s human-caused warming was masked by a cooling influence from internal variability combined with cooling from a sequence of small volcanic eruptions.

In an interview with me last year another of the authors, Prof Michael Mann, described the period of an alleged slowdown as the “faux pause”, saying that “global warming hasn’t stopped, even though you still hear those contrarian talking points.”

Mann told me he had not changed his mind and the distinction between global warming stopping or experiencing a temporary slowdown was “critical”.

    Moreover, the slowdown is now very likely over. It was at most a temporary respite, and as we have argued in our other recent work there is a good chance we will now see the flipside.

    Internal variability will begin to work against us, and lead to even faster warming in the decade ahead. The Faux Pause may have led to False Complacency, when it comes to climate change

All this talk of a “slowdown” period, remember, overlaps a period when we saw 14 of the 16 hottest years on record all happening since 2000.

Prof Matt England, of the University of New South Wales climate change research centre, another co-author on the analysis, told me:

    The last thing we want out there is confusion in the community about what this all means. None of this calls into question the rate of global warming.

    People need to understand that long-term projections are not affected in any way by decadal variability.

    This is a very important point. This is only the global average surface temperature and it’s only one measure of the climate system – and it’s a very fickle measure.

    What I mean by that is that it bounces around from year to year. People don’t wake up and say ‘oh gee, that global average air temperature that’s gone up by point zero one of degree from last year has really affected my life’.

    They are instead affected by extreme temperature change, sea level rise and all those other metrics that really matter to society. There’s an over-emphasis on the surface air temperature.

    In the earlier 20th century there has been no slowdown at all in the instances of extremes. We are really exposed to these events and they have been on the rise.

    Global warming in terms of the net energy in the system has continued unabated. It’s important to point out to people that there was no pause at all in global warming when you measure it as the world’s climate system. If you look at ocean heat content, that’s gone up almost monotonically.

    So really this slowdown has been a real distraction for action on climate change. But the mere fact that there are scientists looking at the record is a normal scientific debate.

    We are still sucking energy into system that goes into melting ice and sea level rise and that’s why it’s a false pause.


After Admitting He Has No Evidence about Dimock and fracking, Tony Ingraffea Hides and Runs

By Phelim McAleer

Professor Tony Ingraffea has never been shy about speaking to the press about fracking. He has been in both Gasland documentaries, given hundreds of press interviews, and spoke at rallies with anti-fracking celebrities Mark Ruffalo, Sean Lennon, and Yoko Ono.

But over the past few days, his advocacy has come back to haunt him and left him literally hiding and running away when it comes to answering difficult questions.

It has been a rough few days for Professor Ingraffea, the anti-fracking movement’s favorite scientist. Finally, he was under oath and had to tell the truth. When he didn't, he had to face his lies being exposed. He was giving evidence in the Dimock Water Trial where the Hubert and Ely families from Pennsylvania are accusing Cabot Oil and Gas of polluting their water during fracking.

Under skillful cross-examination, Professor Ingraffea was forced to admit that he's an anti-fracking and anti-fossil fuel "advocate." He denied being an activist, but his face fell when lawyers for Cabot asked to show the jury photographs of him speaking in front of anti-fracking signs and participating in an Artists Against Fracking press conference alongside Ruffalo, Lennon, and Ono.

Even the lawyer for the families, Leslie Lewis, blurted out in open court that she "wasn't thrilled" that the photos existed.

But the hits to Professor Ingraffea's credibility kept coming. He admitted that his theory contradicted the plaintiffs’ own timeline. Under Ingraffea's theory, the "contamination" could only have started in late 2008/early 2009 because that was when the gas drilling started; however, the plaintiffs have stated repeatedly that their water allegedly deteriorated in the summer of 2008 before the drilling Ingraffea has been blaming for the past 8 years.

Then Ingraffea shockingly admitted that after eight years of claims and multi-million dollar lawsuits, he had no proof that Cabot had contaminated any water in Dimock.

So yesterday, after he finished giving evidence, he was outside the courthouse. I decided to ask Professor Ingraffea some difficult questions. Suddenly the professor, possibly for the first time since he became a prominent anti-fracking activist advocate, didn’t want to talk to the press. In fact, he wanted to hide--behind a woman's coat.

I wanted to know if, after admitting under oath that he had no evidence to back up his claims that Dimock's water was contaminated, he would now take the opportunity to apologize to the people of Dimock. He didn't. He ran away.

It's sad that people such as Professor Ingraffea can make so many damaging claims, scaring people, telling them their water is poisoned, and all these years later admit in a court that he never had any evidence to back up his scaremongering.


Green Industry Drowning in Economy Awash With Cheap Oil

For an industry with its own problems, the oil industry sure is eating the green industry for lunch. For a little over a year now, the price of oil has skimmed at a low $30 a barrel, making everything from gasoline to plastic manufacturing cheaper than it has in a while. The development of fracking brought this about. It was a development the government nor the investors of Tesla anticipated. Government poured subsidy after subsidy into solar energy, ethanol, etc., in preparation of the day when the price of oil would climb higher than an oil geyser. But that day won’t come for a while, and Tesla is left with an electric car that only makes economic sense to drive if a barrel of oil goes for $350 a barrel, according to an editorial by Investor’s Business Daily.

If the United States was a completely free market, it would quickly correct itself. But because the government wanted to incubate the fledgling green energy industries, Americans are left on the hook, both as taxpayers and consumers. Investor’s Business Daily’s editorial board writes, “The Institute for Energy Research points out that electricity costs have been rising about 3% per year, even as the prices of coal and natural gas (which provide about 70% of our electricity) have been falling. The reason for the discrepancy is that electricity production from wind and solar power are two to three times more expensive.”

Meanwhile the recycling industry, which sorts plastics, papers and aluminum cans and sells the products back to manufacturers, also finds itself struggling in a commodities market where it’s cheaper to use pure products in manufacturing than reuse a city’s waste. The oil industry has steadily lost jobs in 2015, but it has also opened up the possibility that we will have enough oil to last decades, even centuries — and regulators are left behind.



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 March, 2016

MIT fossil fuel protesters settle in for long haul

This is just a self-righteousness display entered into to get praise from their equally ignorant peers.  It's a sort of party.  There is of course no way that getting their demands met would affect climate.  What it would affect is the funding of their college.  The price of coal sttocks on the stockmarket is way down so MIT would get only pennies if they sold up.  If they hang on to their stocks, however, they will at least get some dividends.  And energy companies could well be miffed enough to cease coming to MIT with research grants for projects that interest them.  So MIT is resisting a sell-off for good budgetary reasons. But the Green/Left like to impoverish anyone they can so it all fits.  Students who attack their own college should have their enrollment cancelled

They have become a familiar sight lining the wide hallway outside the stately second-floor offices of MIT president L. Rafael Reif.

For the past 116 days, students, professors, and alumni who are pressing the college to shed fossil fuels from its investment holdings have been calmly occupying this slick, hard stretch of the Infinite Corridor.

By all accounts, it is a very MIT protest. Students coordinate shifts with a shared spreadsheet; they bring textbooks and doctoral theses; and a computer program reminds them to stand and stretch every 30 minutes.

Oh, and they don’t plan to give up.

For 116 days, students, professors, and alumni have been holding a sit-in to press MIT to shed fossil fuels from its investment holdings.

“When we do something at MIT, we do it thoroughly,” said Nina Lytton, a 1984 graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management who comes every day and passes the time knitting. She has finished 62 furry Hawaiian leis so far.

Organizers believe this is the longest-running divestment sit-in for a college, breaking Swarthmore College students’ 32-day record several months ago. That Pennsylvania protest was one of the many divestment campaigns that erupted across the world last year, including at Harvard University.

The group organizing the protest at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fossil Free MIT, has asked that the school divest its endowment from coal and tar sands and make the campus carbon neutral by 2040. It is also pressing for the institute to create an ethics advisory council to combat “disinformation” about climate change.

The school in October released its five-year plan to confront climate change, which did not include divestment. Reif said maintaining the institute’s ties with oil and energy companies, who fund research at MIT, is a more effective way to tackle the problem.

Fossil Free MIT members began meeting with administrators just a few days after the sit-in began Oct. 22 and think they might be close to an agreement for more action by the college.

Until then, they’re enjoying camaraderie and the quiet exhilaration that has come from making a stir.

By now, administrators and secretaries know them well.

“Hey Karla,” one student said Friday as Karla Casey, Reif’s executive assistant, passed by. Casey waved back and smiled. One day, an administrator brought them scones.

Across from the door Casey carefully shut behind her, graduate student Michael DeMarco sat on a yoga mat as yellow pieces of paper, dotted with equations, escaped his stack of legal pads.

“You sort of wish that you didn’t need to be here,” said DeMarco, who studies physics. He brought along a computer, two textbooks, and a binder.

Usually, DeMarco sits the night shift, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. In the evening, employees are relaxed, he said.They ask how his day was, he asks what they’re doing with their kids that weekend. It’s all genuine, but it’s also part of the strategy.

“We develop the more mundane relationships that are crucial for bridging the gaps,” DeMarco said.

The administration did not respond to a request for comment about the negotiations.


OBL believed in global warming

Worried about "harmful gases"

Osama bin Laden wrote a letter calling on the American people to help President Barack Obama fight 'catastrophic' climate change and 'save humanity', newly released documents show.

The letter was among materials that were seized in the May 2, 2011, U.S. raid on bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan that killed the al Qaeda chief and which were released on Tuesday by the Obama administration.

The undated, unsigned letter 'to the American people,' which U.S. intelligence officials attributed to bin Laden, appeared to have been written shortly after Obama began his first term in 2009, based on the letter's references to events.

Bin Laden's preoccupation with climate change also emerged as a theme in the first tranche of documents from the raid that was declassified in May 2015, as well as in an audio recording released via the al Jazeera network in January 2010.

In the rambling letter made public Tuesday, bin Laden blamed the 2007-8 U.S. financial crisis on corporate control of capital and corporate lobbyists, and the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He called on Americans to launch 'a great revolution for freedom' to liberate the U.S. president from those influences.

That would enable Obama to make 'a rational decision to save humanity from the harmful gases that threaten its destiny,' bin Laden continued.

In a separate letter, bin Laden urged a close aide to launch a media campaign for the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks that included a call for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.


Mr. President, you owe America an apology. We did drill our way to $2 gas

“We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” President Obama told an audience four years ago at the University of Miami.

Like this year, it was an election year and Obama was running for re-election. Later in his speech, he added: “anybody who tells you that we can drill our way out of this problem doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or just isn’t telling you the truth.” He scoffed at the Republicans for believing that drilling would result in $2 gasoline — remember this was when prices at the pump, in many places, spiked to more than $4 a gallon: “You can bet that since it is an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas. I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill, step three is drill.”

Well, Mr. President, you owe America, and the Republicans, an apology. Your snarky comments were wrong. The Republican’s supposed three-point plan, which you mocked, was correct.

I don’t expect our presidents to be energy experts, but they should be advised by the brightest minds in the business. Obviously, Obama surrounds himself with ideologues.

Today, on the four-year anniversary of another of Obama’s inaccurate predictions, we have drilled our way to $2 gas — despite the fact that he has supported the anti-fossil-fuel movement’s efforts to impede and block oil production. In fact, due to American ingenuity and initiative that successfully combined horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, we are producing so much it has resulted in a global glut of oil and a national average gasoline price of $1.70. According to AAA, the cost per gallon has been below $2 for 25 days.

In his message in Miami, he bragged: “under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.” Yes, that is true. But it is not because of Obama’s support. A Congressional Research Service report released last year found that since fiscal year 2010 oil production on federal lands is down by 10 percent, while it up 89 percent on state and private lands. Obama aligns himself with those who want to “keep it in the ground” — who count his “no” decision on the Keystone pipeline as their biggest victory to date.

Funny, in the 2012 speech he said: “Over the last three years, my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada.” That was then.

He then launched into his requisite rhetoric on renewables: “The United States consumes more than a fifth of the world’s oil. But we only have 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. That means we can’t just rely on fossil fuels from the last century. … Because of investments we’ve made, the use of clean renewable energy in this country has nearly doubled. … As long as I’m President, I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China.”

Wait! Wind and solar do not reduce our need for foreign oil. Wind turbines and solar panels do produce electricity — albeit ineffectively, inefficiently and uneconomically. But we do not have an electricity shortage. We do not import electricity. We do not make electricity from oil. Automobiles run on gasoline made from oil — for which the president’s new budget includes a $10 a barrel tax that translates to about 24 cents per gallon.

Four years ago, in Miami, he said: “…high gas prices are like a tax” straight out everyone’s paycheck. Yet today, he wants to increase the nearly $.45 a gallon we currently pay in taxes to $.69.

Obama’s false “We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices” prediction was made during an election year. During this election year, is a good time to be reminded that, without government “investment,” we did drill our way to lower gas prices. At the same time, taxpayer-supported renewable projects continue to go bankrupt and be shuttered — taking with them our money and the jobs they promised to create.

Yes, Mr. President, you owe America an apology.


What the Defeat of a Wind Energy Project Means for Harry Reid’s Hometown

Grassroots conservationists and property rights activists in Nevada stand poised to secure an unprecedented legal victory over government-backed wind energy proponents that could reverberate across state lines.

If they prevail, they will have handed a rare defeat to the U.S. Senate’s top Democrat, Harry Reid, in his hometown.

A federal District Court judge ruled against the development of an 87-turbine, 200-megawatt wind farm in tiny Searchlight, Nev., and the company behind the project joined with the U.S. Interior Department to file an appeal.

The case, which now sits before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, could stretch out for at least another year.

Even so, the Searchlight Wind Energy Project, as it is officially known, appears to be stalled permanently. 

If the court decision in October had gone the other way, it would have provided the federal government with the legal “right of way” to press ahead with installing wind turbines that would cut across almost 19,000 acres of public lands.

“For at least the time being, the District Court ruling means that people in Searchlight can continue to enjoy the spectacular mountain views they presently have, and can avoid the dust storms that follow when large areas of the desert are stripped of vegetation,” Judy Bundorf, one of the town residents who filed suit against the project, says.

Searchlight, a former gold mining center in Clark County, is perhaps best known today as the birthplace of Reid, now Senate minority leader and one of the Democrats’ leading national advocates of green energy.

Searchlight is part of the southern tip of Nevada, about 58 miles south of Las Vegas.

Bundorf and others filed suit to halt the Searchlight Wind Energy Project in an effort to preserve the bucolic desert regions in and around their community.

Bundorf’s home in the town of under 600 residents is about a mile from where wind turbines as tall as 428 feet were to be located. But the court ruling is a much bigger victory, she says in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Americans across the country, Bundorf says, confront “well-connected special interests and their allies in government” such as Reid, who favor “inefficient and expensive renewable energy plans” that “degrade and burden the environment.”

The fact that District Judge Miranda Du decisively vacated the Interior Department’s March 2013 “record of decision” on the Searchlight wind project while also rejecting Interior’s environmental impact and biological conclusions could set a legal precedent for future renewable energy initiatives, Bundorf and other plaintiffs suggest.

In her ruling, Du concluded that the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, both divisions of the Interior Department, produced a flawed analysis of the likely impact of the wind turbines on wildlife such as golden eagles, desert tortoises, and bats.

Du found “analytical gaps” in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Biological Opinion that she said the agencies must rectify.

“One issue that was never addressed was the potential for people getting valley fever, or coccidioidomycosis,” Bundorf tells The Daily Signal. “This is a fungal infection that is not uncommon when the desert crust is destroyed by grading. The spores are carried by the wind, and the infection can be fatal to elderly people or people with compromised immune systems.”

Bundorf, who is married but has no children, cites the “thousands of boaters, fishermen, hikers, and campers” who visit the area, particularly those who travel in and around Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave, just 14 miles east of Searchlight.

The turbines were set to be erected on both sides of the road for much of the distance to the lake, she says. In addition, a large electrical substation would have to be built adjacent to the entrance to Lake Mead National Recreation Area and, along the road, an operations and maintenance building with laydown yard for storing heavy equipment.

“People come to the desert to enjoy the solitude, not to drive through a heavy industrial zone to get to their destination,” Bundorf says.

Reid, the Searchlight native who had been a vocal supporter of the wind energy project, has gone silent on it since the October court ruling.


Be Like the Beaver - BUILD MORE DAMS

Viv Forbes

Water is essential for all life, and happily it is abundant on our blue watery planet.

However, salty oceans cover 70% of Earth’s surface and contain 97% of Earth’s water. Salt water is great for ocean dwellers but not directly useful for most life on land. Another 2% of Earth’s water is tied up in ice caps, glaciers and permanent snow, leaving just 1% as land-based fresh water.

To sustain life on land, we need to conserve and make good use of this rare and elusive resource.

Luckily, our sun is a powerful nuclear-powered desalinisation plant. Every day, solar energy evaporates huge quantities of fresh water from the oceans. After a stop-off in the atmosphere, most of this water vapour is soon returned to earth as dew, rain, hail and snow – this is the great water cycle. Unfortunately about 70% of this precipitation falls directly back into the oceans and some is captured in frozen wastelands.

Much of the water that falls on land is collected in gullies, creeks and rivers and driven relentlessly by gravity back to the sea by the shortest possible route. Allowing this loss to happen is poor water management. The oceans are not short of water.

Some animals and plants have evolved techniques to maximise conservation of precious fresh water.

Some Australian frogs, on finding their water holes evaporating, will inflate their stomachs with water then bury themselves in a moist mud-walled cocoon to wait for the drought to break. Water buffalo and wild pigs make mud wallows to retain water in their private mud-baths, camels carry their own water supply and beavers build lots of dams.

Some plants have also evolved water saving techniques – bottle trees and desert cacti are filled with water, thirsty humans can even get a drink from the roots and trunks of some eucalypts and many plants produce drought/fire resistant seeds.

Every such natural water conservation or drought-proofing behaviour brings benefits for all surrounding plants and animals.

People have long recognised the importance of conserving fresh water – early settlers built their homes near the best waterholes on the creek and every homestead and shed had its corrugated iron tanks. Graziers built dams and weirs to retain surface water for stock (and fence-crashing wildlife), used contour ripping and good pasture management to retain moisture in soils, and drilled bores to get underground water. And sensible rules have evolved to protect the water rights of down-stream residents.

Rainfall is often a boom and bust affair. Much fresh water is delivered to the land surface suddenly in cyclones, storms and rain depressions. But “The Wet” is always followed by “The Dry”, and droughts and floods are normal climatic events. People who fail to store some of the flood must put up with the drought.

Greens should learn from the beavers. Strings of dams can moderate flood risk, as well as creating drought sanctuaries and secure water for graziers, towns, irrigators and wildlife. Modern cities could not survive without large water storages for drinking water, sanitation, gardens and factories.

Fresh water is also necessary to produce fresh food. We can have fresh milk, butter, cheese, meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit; or we can irrigate the oceans and import fresh food from more sensible countries. And without fresh water and fresh food, there will be no local food processing.

Those infected with the green religion believe we should waste our fresh water by allowing it all to return as quickly as possible to the salty seas. They fight to protect beaver dams and natural lakes, but persistently oppose human dams and lakes. Some even want existing dams destroyed, while wasting billions on energy-hungry desalination and sewerage re-treated plants, pumps and pipelines.

They also want to prohibit man’s production of two drought-defying atmospheric gases, both released by the burning of hydrocarbons – carbon dioxide which makes plants more drought tolerant, and water vapour which feeds the clouds and the rain.

Green water policies are un-sustainable, even suicidal.

Humans must copy the beavers and “Build more Dams”. And help the biosphere by burning more hydrocarbons.


Australia: Great Barrier Reef suffers 'tragic' coral bleaching event

This is utter rubbish.  Bleaching events are poorly understood but one thing we know is that they are NOT a response to warmer water.  Corals are at their most prolific in Torres strait, the part of Australia nearest to the equator, and hence the warmest East coast waters.  And in any case even NOAA's "adjusted" figures showed only 13 hundredths of one degree global  temperature rise in 2015

Fears of a mass coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef have prompted federal authorities to issue an urgent warning on the natural wonder, which is *under threat from climate change*.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on Tuesday said patchy bleaching had been detected on multiple reefs in mainly shallow areas, and weather forecasts of upcoming hot conditions posed a dangerous threat over the next few weeks.

In a statement, the authority said the conditions had triggered "level one incident response" involving more in-water field surveys and monitoring by authorities and researchers.

Climate action advocacy group said the bleaching was "tragic" and the Turnbull government should block what would be Australia's largest coal mine, by Indian mining giant Adani, and commit to halting new fossil fuel projects nationally.

The authority said the bleaching had occurred in mainly shallow areas where corals are often exposed to high levels of sunlight.
Chairman Russell Reichelt said February and March were the highest risk periods for mass coral bleaching on the reef because of hot, dry El Nino conditions and high sea surface temperatures, adding "the next few weeks will be critical".

"Bleaching is a clear signal that living corals are under physiological stress. If that stress is bad enough for long enough, the corals can die. Corals generally have a temperature limit, and the bleaching indicates they're outside of their comfort zone," Dr Reichelt said.

"At this stage, there appears to be low rates of coral mortality restricted to a small number of reefs, and most of the corals affected by bleaching are those that are particularly vulnerable to this type of event such as plate and branching corals."

The authority says the most common cause of coral bleaching is sustained heat stress, which is occurring more frequently as the climate changes.

Dr Reichelt said the Bureau of Meteorology and the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had forecast a high probability of heat stress that would cause further bleaching.

While sea surface temperatures were fluctuating across the 345,000 square kilometre marine park, in some areas they had reached 2.5 degrees above the summer average, which was exacerbated by lack of cloud cover, he said.

"What happens now will be entirely dependent on local weather conditions. If we're fortunate enough to receive plenty of cloud cover, which will effectively provide shade, it will go a long way to reducing heat absorption by the ocean and alleviating thermal stress on corals," he said.

Dr Reichelt said the bleaching event was less severe than that which has occurred across the Pacific during the current global bleaching event. The authority says past bleaching events show coral reefs can recover if thermal stress does not last for prolonged periods.

If mass bleaching does occur, the authority would study its extent and impacts, alongside coral reef scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University, the University of Queensland and the CSIRO.

Blair Palese, chief executive of said the "tragic coral bleaching" showed coal and gas were "warming the planet and destroying the places we love most".

The authority says bleaching occurs when stress causes corals to expel tiny marine algae called zooxanthellae, which live inside their tissue and provide corals with much of their food and colour.
Without zooxanthellae, the coral tissue appears transparent, revealing the coral's bright white skeleton.



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


2 March, 2016

The climate crew, alienating potential allies and worshipping false idols

Featuring the brainless DiCaprio

So last night was the Oscars and, as expected, Leo DiCaprio won the best actor award and, as expected, he took time during his acceptance speech to discuss climate change. Now Canadians are aware of how knowledgeable Leo is on weather-related topic following his laughable outburst last year when he informed the world that a run-of-the-mill winter Chinook was something that had never happened before. Last night was no exception when he exclaimed “our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow.”

 For folks not familiar with Alberta weather, a Chinook is a warm wind that can roll in from the west and change the temperature by up to 30 degrees Celsius in four hours. Winter Chinooks are common with written records of them going back as far as 1877.

Now anyone familiar with the climate statistics for southern Alberta  (let’s use Calgary as an example) will notice a trend in Alberta weather. Alberta winters tend to be pretty darn cold and can be pretty darn dry. In particular, come late January and into February the precipitation goes way down. So if it is late January and you have just had a Chinook run through that melted your snow, you may go for several weeks until a storm system comes through to give you new snow. It is still cold as hell, but there simply isn’t any precipitation. Thus, when a “dramatic” event melted the snow that late January, it probably made a lot of sense to head somewhere else since apparently the production company was unwilling to wait until the late season snows of March and April returned the conditions to a white backdrop suitable for filming.

Now Albertans understand this and so when Dr. Michael Mann posted a comment about the Oscars:

One of the few people not blocked by Dr. Mann, a gentleman by the name of Dr. Andrew Leach, had the temerity to point out that Mr. DiCaprio was mistaken and that the weather after that year’s Chinook was actually quite cold.

Needless to say Dr. Mann decided to Mannsplain  Dr. Leach and then insult him

and then, not surprisingly, he decided to block Dr. Leach.

When it was pointed out to Dr. Mann who he had blocked Dr. Mann, the person who had just called the man a “troll”, subsequently complained that Dr. Leach was often “irritating/rude on social media”.

Pot meet kettle.

Now many folks have been blocked by Dr. Mann, (myself included) , that is not a big deal. What is a big deal is that Dr. Mann managed to alienate a potential ally. You see, Dr. Leach isn’t just another anonymous commenter on Twitter, Dr. Leach was the Chair of the Province of Alberta’s Climate Change Advisory Panel.

Dr. Leach and his panel produced the Climate Leadership Report (caution large .pdf file) that served as the basis for the Alberta Climate Leadership Plan. Dr. Leach and his panel spent three months of their lives travelling the province doing the consultation necessary to build up the technical support and political and social goodwill necessary to enact the policy.

Besides Premier Notley, Dr. Leach is likely the most important reason Alberta is creating a program to put a price on carbon to fight climate change. Can you imagine a more important ally if you are trying to build a consensus for a change in climate policy across North America than the man who helped convince Alberta that it needed to control its carbon emissions?

Turning Dr. Leach into your friend should be a no-brainer for climate activists and a couple polite words is all it would have taken to smooth the waters. Instead, out comes the insults and then the block and another potential ally is stomped. Gotta love the climate crew, they pull out their shotguns at the drop of a hat; proceed to point them directly at their own feet; and then let go with both barrels.

Going back to Leo for a moment, I really don’t understand why so many in the climate change community lionize the man? Here is a man whose opulent lifestyle, love of private jets  and carbon profligacy should get him scorned by these same activists. Instead he says the right things every now and again and he is cast as their champion?

This morning I had a fascinating exchange with Vox writer David Roberts on the topic. Mr. Roberts is a solid writer who, along with Brad Plumer, have written some of the smartest, data-driven pieces on climate change to appear in the mainstream media but on the topic of Leo he has a huge blind-spot and this morning he was taking on all comers:

As you can see, the basis for his support of Mr. DiCaprio appears to be that as long as he says the right things in interviews and speeches, then everything he does in his private life should be ignored. I, of course, disagree because unlike most of us Leo flaunts his “private life” for all to see and what we have seen shows his behaviour to be at odds with his words. Our exchange was brief with Mr. Roberts ending with a drive-by insult and then he was off.

What was more interesting was watching Mr. Roberts explaining to climate change activists in Alberta why they should ignore both what Mr. DiCaprio has said and done because only a handful of people would notice the error.

The funny thing is this was all derived from a CBC article on the topic.

I’m not sure how familiar Mr. Roberts is with Canadian politics but when you are a progressive and you lose the CBC you have lost whatever battle you were trying to fight. Moreover, as Mr. Turner was trying to explain, Alberta activists tend to care when Leo spews his ignorance on one topic because it has a way of tainting his arguments on every other topic. How can anyone take seriously an activist who, a year after being corrected on the topic of Chinooks, is still making the same ridiculous statements? For activists in Alberta Leo is simply poisoning the well and will make their lives immeasurably harder.

I don’t want to go on too long tonight, but I simply wanted to ask the activists out there a simple question:

Why are you making it so hard on yourselves?

Outside of your progressive enclaves there are a lot of people who still need to be convinced about the importance of action and you are not making it easier. How hard would it have been for Dr. Mann to simply have been be civil to an esteemed colleague? A colleague with a lot more green cred than Dr. Mann himself in much of Canada.

Regarding Mr. DiCaprio, why are so many activists lionizing a man who’s carbon footprint really does make him a one-percenter in the field? Sure he has said some nice things but his actions don’t appear to back up his words. There are so many really deserving people out there to carry the flag and instead you rely on celebrities and celebrity-scientists? That is probably why in a recent major study only 44% of Canadians believed that humans were the primary cause of climate change?  You guys have had 25 years doing this and you can’t even convince half of Canadians that humans as the primary cause of climate change? Why do you never learn from your mistakes because, as the polls clearly indicate, your opponents certainly do.


Some cold facts on global warming

Climate change alarmists ignore data that contradict their agenda

Yesterday it was still February, but the high temperature hit 64 degrees here in Washington, with snow drifts still melting from last month’s massive East Coast blizzard. So what are we to make of the weather and the climate change controversy? Is it getting warmer or colder?

It’s not even a question worth asking, as far as the analysts at NASA are concerned. Before the blizzard hit, they had already announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record. Not that this is anything new for most Americans. We hear dire global warming proclamations on a near-daily basis, and it’s always just been the hottest day, week, month or year — no matter what the weather’s like outside.

Yet, as climate expert David Kreutzer recently pointed out, NASA is fairly selective about which information you’re supposed to believe. The agency’s own satellite data shows that while last year was indeed warm, it wasn’t as warm as 2010 or 1998.

But wait, some may say. You can chalk up this discrepancy to the difference between what the satellite data says and what the surface temperatures are (which NASA gathers from thousands of sites worldwide, with a few “adjustments” thrown in). But it doesn’t matter. Neither data set supports the wild predictions being bandied about by global warming alarmists.

Search all the data for evidence of the accelerated warming projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and you come up empty-handed. Sometimes temperatures go up, but not always. There’s no constant warming. Indeed, the data show a significant moderation of the warming trend. At times it appears to have leveled off or even cooled a bit.

Should we be surprised? Not really. When you throw in variables such as measurement errors, as well as El Nino and La Nina, it makes sense that the average temperature for some years will be higher even if the overall trend is flat.

“Will the trend stay flat? Probably not,” Mr. Kreutzer writes. “The Earth has been recovering from the Little Ice Age for a couple of centuries and recovering from a real ice age for thousands of years. So there is a reasonable chance that we will revert to an overall warming trend, but there is no guarantee. Who knows? We might even be headed into another ice age (as was predicted in the 1970s).”

None of this is to say that human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions haven’t contributed to some warming. They likely have. But the bottom line is that, one way or the other, there’s no reason to believe that the sky is falling. Or, to be more exact, that the earth beneath it is warming up to levels that should frighten us.

No data points to catastrophic warming, hysterical predications aside. And, it should be noted, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that there have been no upward trends in hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts.

Small wonder then, that liberal groups who are vested in global warming alarmism often ignore data that contradict their agenda. They tell us repeatedly that the debate is over, as if there is an expiration date on free speech. Unfortunately, too many in the media comply. Some outlets, such as the Los Angeles Times, won’t even accept letters to the editor that question the gospel of man-made climate change.

Hence we get very selective reporting. “For example, the national media hyped NASA’s finding that 2014 was the hottest year on record,” writes Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. “Ignored was the footnote that revealed that NASA was only 38 percent certain this was accurate. Less than fifty-fifty. Americans would have been better served by a coin toss.”

There’s a lot of hot air circulating, all right. Fortunately, it’s more political than scientific. Leonardo DiCaprio may have been taken in, but the rest of us can ignore the overheated rhetoric.


Climate activists threaten to shut down world's major coal sites

Reclaim the Power says it will use direct action at a dozen international sites in May, including the UK’s largest opencast coal mine in south Wales

The dozen international sites facing civil disobedience from the Break Free 2016 campaign span the globe from the US to Australia and South Africa to Indonesia.

The Ffos-y-fran opencast mine, near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, is about halfway through extracting 11m tonnes of coal. Ellie Groves, from the Reclaim the Power network, said: “The only way we can stop catastrophic climate change is taking action to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

“The local community have battled Ffos-­y-­fran for nearly a decade and now face the threat of a new mine next door at Nant Llesg,” said Groves. “Enough is enough. We need a ban on opencast coal mining across Wales, and the rest of the UK.”

Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel and scientists estimate that 80% of current reserves must remain in the ground in order to avoid dangerous climate change. The UK government intends to phase out coal burning by 2025 but the International Energy Agency still forecasts growth in the global demand for coal.

A statement from Reclaim the Power said: “Hundreds are expected to set up camp nearby and take part in a mass action to close the mine. The action will take place a few days before the Welsh assembly elections on May 5.”

The Reclaim the Power network has held annual camps since 2013 and has conducted a series of direct actions, including blockading a World Coal Association conference and a fracking company. Ffos-y-fran supplies the Aberthaw power station, whose illegally high levels of pollution have led the EU to take the UK to court. Miller Argent, the company running Ffos-y-fran, and the local Labour MP Gerald Jones both declined to comment on the planned protests.

Campaign group, which had led the fossil fuel divestment movement, is helping to coordinate the international actions. “We’re mobilising to shut down the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects and support the most ambitious climate solutions,” says the Break Free 2016 website.

“We want to ensure there continues to be momentum to keep fossil fuels in the ground and to confront fossil fuel companies,” said Will Bates, global campaigns director for

Bates emphasised that, while involving civil disobedience, the protests would be peaceful. “Our actions must reflect the scale and urgency of this crisis,” says the website. The protests are likely to emulate a protest in Germany in August 2015 which shut down the large Garzweiler opencast coal mine for a day.

“We need to be disrupting business as usual if governments will not put in place the policies that will get the job done,” said Bates. “It is what is necessary. We think it is in everybody’s best interest.”



In the early days of global warming hysteria, the alarmists understandably warned that warmer temperatures would cause, among other things, less snow. Jim Steele reminds us:

"[Kevin] Trenberth’s 1999 paper framing the effects of global warming on extreme precipitation declared, “With higher average temperatures in winter expected, more precipitation is likely to fall in the form of rain rather than snow, which will increase both soil moisture and run off, as noted by the IPCC (1996) and found in many models.” The 2001 IPCC 3rd Assessment repeated those expectations stating, “Northern Hemisphere snow cover, permafrost, and sea-ice extent are projected to decrease further.” Soon climate scientists like Dr. Viner proffered alarming scenarios that “children would no longer know what snow was”. Similarly in 2008 politicians like RFK Jr. warned DC children would be deprived of the fun of sledding due to global warming."

It all sounded plausible, but nature refused to cooperate:

"But our climate naturally oscillates and by early February of 2010 Snowmageddon was blanketing the USA’s eastern seaboard with record snows, making global warming predictions the butt of many jokes. The heavy snows didn’t disprove CO2 had caused any warming, but it definitely highlighted failed predictions."

If the alarmists were scientists, they would acknowledge that a theory that generates false predictions is wrong. But they aren’t doing science, they are doing politics. So they retrospectively revised their predictions. Any port in a storm:

"In 2011 Chris Mooney writing for the DeSmog blog noted heavy snowfall had become a “communications nightmare” for global warming theory and urged, “We need to move the public to a place where drawing a warming-snowstorm connection isn’t so challenging”.

Good luck with that.

"Kevin Trenberth was already on point. Just two weeks after the 2010 Snowmageddon, Trenberth appeared in a NPR interview flip-flopping to a new climate change framework in which a “Warming Planet Can Mean More Snow”. Now he argued, “The fact that the oceans are warmer now than they were, say, 30 years ago means there’s about on average 4 percent more water vapor lurking around over the oceans than there was, say, in the 1970s”. Thus “you can get dumped on with more snow partly as a consequence of global warming,” A year later the Union of Concerned Scientists held a press conference asserting global warming was no longer causing less snow, but causing heavier snow. And now, every year as heavy snowstorms approach, Trenberth and his well-groomed media outlets bombard the public, urging them not to be misled by their senses, but trust that cold and snowy days have worsened due to global warming"

The alarmists’ new, improved global warming theory was that warmer temperatures caused the atmosphere to be able to hold more moisture. Therefore the total precipitable water vapor increases with CO2, and–presto!–more water vapor means more snow. All earlier predictions were conveniently forgotten.

There are several problems with this theory, including the fact that total precipitable water vapor has not increased in parallel with atmospheric CO2:

It is true that warmer temperatures allow the air to hold more water, so the lack of any significant increase in TPW implies that the Earth hasn’t been warming as required by the alarmists’ theories. Needless to say, this isn’t the conclusion they draw. But as we all know, consistency is not their strong point. Trenberth is famous for writing privately to his political allies: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

The point of this amusing story is that for the alarmists, almost everything is negotiable. More snow? Less snow? No problem! No matter what happens, they tweak their models and pretend that they saw it coming all along. There is only one constant, one fixed star amid the models’ constant fluidity: the need for government control over the world’s economies. This is why governments pay billions to the climate alarmists, and are utterly indifferent to their laughable record of failed predictions. Climate alarmism has nothing to do with science.


Again:  Warming may bring cooling!

The British Met office is having it both ways

Our atmospheric scientists are predicting a dramatic change in high altitude winds 50km above the ground and the imminent occurrence of an event known as a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) in early March.

Professor Adam Scaife, Head of Monthly to Decadal Prediction explains: “Sudden stratospheric warming events occur high up in the atmosphere and involve a complete reversal of the high altitude polar jet stream – they can even affect weather at the surface, and for the UK a sudden stratospheric warming increases the risk of wintry weather.”

The phenomenon begins with a wave-like disturbance which travels up into the high-altitude jet stream. Scaife said: “This disturbance can grow to a point where it turns over and breaks, just like a wave on a beach.”

Normally the jet stream flows from west to east with some north and south oscillation, but the force from this high altitude disturbance pushes against the jet stream until the winds actually reverse and flow from east to west instead. Air then falls into the Arctic and is compressed so that it starts to warm: the temperature can rise by as much as 50C in just a few days.

Professor Scaife added: “This reversal of high altitude winds can also burrow down into the lower stratosphere. Once it is within reach of weather systems in the lower atmosphere the Atlantic jet stream often weakens and moves south. This allows cold air from the east into northern Europe and the UK.”

Sudden stratospheric warming events occur on average every couple of years and our long-range forecasts have consistently suggested an increased risk of sudden stratospheric warming towards the end of this winter. The last big event was in early 2013 and was followed by a cold end to winter. Although the impact of the current event is unlikely to be as severe, it increases the risk of cold north easterlies and wintry weather for the UK over the next few weeks.


7 Reasons the Dimock Water Case Is Looking Very, Very Shaky as the Trial Enters Its Second Week

The Ely and Hubert families in Dimock, Pennsylvania are suing Cabot Oil & Gas alleging they have polluted their water. In various court filings and in countless documentaries and comments to journalists, the Ely family have claimed fracking/drilling has destroyed their life, damaged their health, and caused their children to be ill--serious allegations. They attracted international publicity with anti-fracking activists describing Dimock as the “ground zero” of fracking pollution. But after eight years of allegations and one week of the trial, here are seven reasons the the case looks very, very shaky.

1. Testing the Truth
The plaintiffs’ case was collapsing long before they entered the court in Scranton. Their original complaint contained alarming allegations that Cabot and fracking caused neurological, gastrointestinal, and dermatological damage to the plaintiffs and their children. They also claimed that a blood study showed results consistent with toxic exposure to..heavy metals. But in the run up to the hearing, they failed to produce ANY evidence to back up these claims. No doctor’s report, no blood test, nothing. The evidence was so lacking that the judge prevented them from even raising the possibility in the court that their health was affected.

2. Legal Eagle
The plaintiffs’ lawyer is truly awful. Leslie Lewis is so bad that it’s possible that she’s looking for a sympathy verdict from the jury. She is disorganized, doesn't seem to understand the science, and constantly tries to put words in witnesses’ mouths when she doesn't get the answer she wants. She also has the habit of blurting out statements that damage her clients’ case. It was Ms. Lewis who early in the case memorably and unnecessarily told the jury that the central allegation of anti-fracking activists across the planet had no scientific basis. There was absolutely no evidence that fracking fluids had ever contaminated Dimock's water. “We don't have proof of that. This is not about fracking fluid appearing in the water. Hydraulic fracturing materials, we don't have proof of that,” she told the jury.
But don't take my word for it. Ms. Lewis hasn't impressed the judge, either. Judge Martin Carlson criticized her, stating that her attempts to introduce an enormous amount of “evidence” at the last minute was “extraordinary, unprecedented, unexplained and [a] profoundly troubling development.”

3. McMansion
And her clients aren’t much better. It's difficult to know if the Ely family are bad parents or bad liars or both. Despite claiming that they and their children were suffering from a raft of medical conditions after being poisoned by fracking fluids and other chemicals, the Elys never, ever took their children to a doctor to discuss the illnesses--not once. And the Elys are not unsophisticated people who would not have had access to medical experts. Monica Ely is a dentist who would have friends and colleagues who could help her access the best tests and best experts available. But they didn't even bother having their children tested--despite the fact that the Elys kept telling their children and the world's media that they had been poisoned. In fact, the Elys were so unconcerned with the state of their water on the property that after they claimed it was poisoned they went ahead and built a $1 million mansion on the property.

4. Superhuman
Scott Ely was a shifty and very unimpressive witness. But perhaps the lowest moment was when he tried to fix a problematic timeline (that he set up) but fatally undermined his credibility. Scott had told three different people--a doctor, a hydrologist, and in a handwritten statement to his own lawyer--that the water problems started in August 2008. However, his lawyer has also told the court that they all accept drilling did not start on nearby gas wells until late September/October 2008. So on the witness stand, Scott suddenly remembered--eight years after the case started--that in June/July 2008 he remembered a massive gas leak at a gas well that he was claiming must have affected his water.

“I pulled up on that location. The location was shut down. Gas was spewing out of ground....It stunk like crazy everybody was evacuated from the location....You can see the gas up around the rig,” he told the jury. Except that he was then forced to admit that natural gas is invisible and odorless. So the jury will have to believe Scott Ely has superhuman powers, or they will have to assume that he is a dishonest witness.

5. Mother of the Year
 Monica Ely has been shown to be an extremely dodgy witness also. Apart from neglecting to bring her children to the doctor--even though she thought they had been poisoned by fracking--Ms Ely also portrayed herself as someone who tried to shield her children from the politicking and contentious debate around fracking. She testified that she tried “not to involve our kids with this.” Then the Cabot lawyers pointed out and produced photos (see above) that showed far from sheltering her children Ms Ely had in fact “brought them to press conferences, rallies with people like [actor] Mark Ruffalo, taken them to the Tribeca Film festival,” and had allowed them to be featured in the highly contentious documentary Gasland. Monica Ely: no time to take her children to the doctor even though she thought they were poisoned but plenty of time to take them to rallies with actors and activists.   
6. Expert Witness
The the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses are pretty awful also. Hydrologist Paul Rudin gave evidence on Friday where, after posing as a neutral scientist, admitted that he had “come into this case with a bias against non-renewable energy exploration.” That’s right. The first expert witness the plaintiffs were able to produce admitted he was biased against fossil fuels and fossil fuel companies. Science at its purest, obviously.

7. Outsourcing
And Paul Rudin’s methodology is unorthodox to say the least. Despite wanting to find out if Scott Ely's property was affected by gas drilling, he did no tests on the property, but instead went to a quarry 2,700 ft away and concluded that was sufficient examination of the property's geology. And in breach of every acceptable international standard, he allowed Scott Ely to collect the water supplies that he analyzed with no checks or attempts to ensure that the water was collected properly.



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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1 March, 2016

More harm done by the Green/Left

Tens of thousands of people are dying every year because repeated warnings about the dangers of diesel cars and wood-burning for heating were ignored by successive governments trying to make Britain ‘greener’, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Ironically, the policies have only made our air dirtier. They are accused of triggering a ‘public health disaster’, with the huge shift to diesel vehicles to try to cut greenhouse gas emissions denounced as a ‘con’.

Last week, a devastating official report said the drive for diesel and wood-burning are directly responsible for needlessly high incidences of a shocking list of conditions including diabetes, autism, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, learning difficulties, asthma, low birth weight and kidney disease.

Professor Jonathan Grigg, vice chair of the report by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, told this newspaper that the move to diesel vehicles in the mistaken belief this would cut greenhouse gas emissions is having catastrophic consequences.

The two worst types of pollution that diesel engines produce are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and tiny particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter – called ‘PM 2.5’ particulates – that lodge deep in the lungs and can even cross into the bloodstream.

Prof Grigg said NO2 and the particulates are produced by a range of sources, which together are reducing the average life expectancy of every man, woman and child by a shocking eight months and causing 40,000 to 50,000 early deaths each year. He said a substantial amount of that pollution is caused by diesel and wood. Official figures show that diesel cars and vans alone are currently responsible for about two-thirds of roadside pollution.

‘This is a public health disaster,’ said Grigg, who is professor of paediatric respiratory and environmental medicine at Queen Mary University in London. ‘The tragedy is that people have bought diesel cars thinking they are protecting the environment, whereas toxic emissions from diesel engines are causing death and disease. It is understandable that buyers now feel they were conned.’

Former Chancellor Gordon Brown cut vehicle excise duty for fuel-efficient diesels in his 2000 budget. Since then the proportion of cars sold that are diesel has surged from 14 per cent to more than 50 per cent, with 14 million now on the road.

Last week Labour MP Geraint Davies launched a Bill to give the Environment Agency powers to curb diesel use in periods when the risk is highest, saying that successive governments, Labour included, had ‘ignored the warnings’ because of their ‘over-focus’ on cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air.

He added: ‘Using diesel to combat climate change is no better – indeed, it is arguably worse – than petrol, but we are passively smoking diesel emissions that are costing £20 billion and 40,000 lives a year. Taxation levels on diesel and petrol are on a par and do not reflect the cost to the environment and to health.’

Meanwhile almost £400 million has been paid in subsidies to homes and businesses which install ‘biomass’ wood-burning boilers under the Government’s 2012 ‘renewable heat incentive’. These also emit large quantities of PM 2.5 pollution. Experts say wood smoke is already costing between 1,000 and 3,000 lives a year.

Prof Grigg said: ‘The idea that wood smoke pollution is somehow less toxic than fossil fuel is simply not tenable. The warnings were always there. But the narrative was, “We have to reduce CO2 in order to meet our targets – and here are ways we can do it”.

As a result, the warnings were overwhelmed.’

Those warnings started as early as 1986, when lung expert Dr Robin Russell-Jones, who successfully campaigned to remove toxic lead from petrol, gave evidence to a House of Lords select committee that diesel pollution was linked with asthma, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.

Three years later, Margaret Thatcher’s Government was starting to become concerned about global warming. For the first time it considered creating cash incentives for drivers to switch to diesel cars, on the grounds that because they travelled more miles per gallon, their CO2 emissions would be lower.

Dr Russell-Jones wrote to Sir John Fairclough, her chief scientific advisor, saying he had ‘read with amazement that the government is thinking of introducing a tax break in favour of diesel fuel on the grounds that it is environmentally friendly.’ This might be true so far as global warming was concerned, he wrote, ‘but from every other point of view it is a disaster.’

Diesel was ten times more carcinogenic than petrol, he added: ‘I only hope it is not too late to prevent this lunatic proposal.’

As Dr Russell-Jones pointed out yesterday, Mrs Thatcher had been a scientist: ‘You could get through to her: perhaps that’s why the idea – then – was dropped.’

The dangers were hammered home at the end of 1993 in a major report for the Department of the Environment by an expert panel, the Quality of Urban Air Review Group.

The report said that other policies, such as the ban on coal burning introduced by the Clean Air Act, had been slowly reducing PM pollution. If the proportion of diesels on the road stayed the same, then by 2005 the level of disease-causing particulates in the atmosphere would halve. But if the proportion of diesels rose to 50 per cent then there would be no reduction. Now the proportion of diesels is 50 per cent, that is exactly what has happened.

The 1993 report laid out the consequences in stark terms: ‘Diesel emissions are a potential health hazard. They contain compounds known to be carcinogenic and may cause impairment of respiratory functions. There is evidence that an increase in mortality and morbidity may be associated with an increased concentration of particulates in urban air.’

The 1993 report’s lead author, Prof Roy Harrison of Birmingham University, revealed yesterday that in the closing years of John Major’s government in 1996 and 1997, he sat on another committee that advised Whitehall on diesels and the environment.

He said: ‘We recommended that because of the health issues around diesel, instead of giving it tax breaks, duty on diesel fuel should be increased relative to petrol. The Government responded by saying it would be better to do this through vehicle duty. So when I discovered that its successor had done the reverse by effectively cutting duty for diesels, I was very concerned.’

The New Labour government decided to do that in the wake of a 1998 EU directive, which compelled Britain to cut CO2 emissions from vehicles by 25 per cent by 2020.

The warnings continued. In 2002, the American Cancer Society issued a major study suggesting diesels were so carcinogenic that, in the UK, they could be expected to cause 4,000 cases of lung cancer a year.

Britain’s Medical Research Council had planned to say that diesels caused a third of all lung cancers, but, according to reports at the time, toned down its warning to say only that diesels were a ‘relatively minor’ cause compared to smoking.

In 2007 came yet another major report. The Air Quality Expert Group showed that the aim of cutting carbon emissions by boosting diesels wasn’t working.

It said any gains were insignificant as diesel engines tended to bigger, refining diesel led to high emissions, and the other toxic substances pumped out from diesels’ exhaust pipes enhanced the fuel’s greenhouse effect.

The new Royal Colleges’ report supports this, saying that Japanese petrol technology has reduced carbon far more effectively.

Yet still the damage continued. In 2009, the Labour Government set out plans for what was to become the Renewable Heat Incentive subsidy for wood burning boilers.

Amazingly, in a parliamentary answer, Energy Minister Jim Fitzpatrick revealed that the Government’s own assessment showed this would cost lives – between 240,000 and 1.75 million ‘person years’ would be lost each year by 2020. Prof Harrison said yesterday that recent studies suggest that wood smoke in the atmosphere is costing up to 3,000 lives a year.

Working out exactly how many of the needless deaths due to pollution are the direct result of policies designed to curb carbon dioxide is difficult, but it is clear that their contribution is substantial.

Meanwhile, the new report’s conclusions are devastating: the air quality crisis is a ‘major public health problem deserving of multiple measures to drive down exposure in as many ways as possible… when our patients are exposed to such a clear and avoidable cause of death and disability, it is our duty as doctors to speak out’.


Warren Buffett on climate change

The American investor also dismissed the possibility climate change could prove a large risk to the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio. Berkshire is one of the world's biggest property insurers and insurers against catastrophic risks but given insurance policies are written for one year and repriced upwards to reflect growing risks, climate change may actually increase the firm's profitability.

"Worries might, in fact, be warranted if we wrote ten- or twenty-year policies at fixed prices," says Mr Buffett, who points out climate change has not produced more frequent weather-related events covered by insurance.

"As a citizen, you may understandably find climate change keeping you up nights," writes Mr buffett. "As a homeowner in a low-lying area, you may wish to consider moving. But when you are thinking only as a shareholder of a major insurer, climate change should not be on your list of worries."

That said, the firm has poured $US16 billion into renewables in recent years, and according to Mr Buffett, the company's electricity portfolio now consists of 7 per cent wind and 6 per cent solar.


Mosquitoes must be protected

One of the greatest fictions ever perpetrated on the American people is that liberals care about helping the poor. Indeed, they seem determined to advance policies that limit opportunities created by economic expansion and growth. The latest example of this can be seen in retail giant Ikea's decision to cancel plans for a 366,500-square foot store outside of Cleveland, due to environmental impact concerns. The store has no plans to pursue other locations in the Cleveland area.

After investing more than a year of effort in preparing for the store, Ikea chose to withdraw due to an anticipated rejection from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, charged with stewardship over the proposed building site, which includes 15 acres of wetlands. The Clean Water Act severely limits the private sector's ability to develop such land, as Ikea is finding out to its cost.

In the midst of one of the weakest economic recoveries in U.S. history, environmental concerns about the well-being of a patch of swamp (a perfectly good word the left has abandoned in favor of the banal euphemism "wetlands.") should take a backseat to the economic development created by hugely successful companies like Ikea.

Cleveland's economy remains fragile, its crime rate high; any efforts to grow the local economy should be met with open arms, not obstructed by government bureaucrats more concerned with protecting the habitats of potentially-deadly mosquitos than with helping actual human beings. It pains me personally to see these lost jobs.  I may not live in Cleveland, but I still have Browns seasons tickets and love my hometown.

Meanwhile, Ikea employs more the 120,000 workers worldwide and stands as one of retail's greatest success stories, contributing more than $33 billion to the U.S. economy. The chain is not only good for workers, but for consumers as well, offering affordable furnishing options that otherwise may not exist. In fact, while inflation is making many consumer goods more expensive each year, Ikea has a history of lowering its prices by 2 to 3 percent annually on account of its increased efficiency.

This may seem like a small issue — after all, it's only one store — but it reflects the deeper problem of the restrictive regulatory climate gripping the whole country. In recent years, environmental regulators have attempted to seize greater and greater control over private property, the most egregious example being the expansive Waters of the United States rule that would give the Environmental Protection Agency jurisdiction over small ponds, gullies, ditches, and streams on privately held land. Last year, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the rule, but that could easily change, especially given the recent passing of Justice Scalia and the ensuing vacancy. Such environmental overreach would add to the already $2 trillion cost of federal regulations nationwide.

Human civilization has flourished due to millennia of people mixing their labor with the land and building things; agriculture, manufacturing, research facilities, yes, even the humble retailer, raising the standard of living for consumers everywhere. Without these things, the amount of progress we have made as a species in terms of wealth, longevity, and knowledge would have been impossible.

Progressive squeamishness over mankind continuing to do as we have always done, build, helps no one, least of all the citizens of Cleveland. If we're truly interested in helping people succeed, instead of training them to depend on handouts, we have to get government out of the way and start building things again.

Next year, Ikea plans to open a store in Columbus, Ohio. When Clevelanders see the benefits of economic development enjoyed by that city, they will no doubt regret the missed opportunity to improve their own community. Swamps may be pretty, but they don't employ people, don't grow the economy, and are notoriously unreliable sources for flat-pack furniture.


Abolish the EPA and leave environmental protection to the States

Amid prolonged bickering with his rivals, Donald Trump outlined a fairly radical proposal during Thursday’s Republican debate: to scrap the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Typically there was little policy detail. But it was clear that the EPA – and its $8bn budget – would be on the chopping block should the Republican frontrunner become president.

“Environmental protection – we waste all of this money,” he said. “We’re going to bring that back to the states. We are going to cut many of the agencies, we will balance our budget and we will be dynamic again.”

The promise was an echo of recent statements from Trump on the EPA. He has said there is “tremendous cutting” to be done because the EPA “aren’t doing their job, they are making it impossible for our country to compete”.

He has also accused the EPA of “going around causing damage as opposed to saving damage”, leading to “a tremendous amounts of money, tremendous fraud, tremendous abuse”.

Trump’s plan to dissolve the EPA and hand environmental protection duties to the states goes further than his main rivals for the GOP nomination, but anti-EPA sentiment appears to run deep in both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Cruz has called the EPA a “radical” agency that has imposed “illegal” limits on greenhouse gases from power plants. “I think states should press back using every tool they have available,” the Texas senator has said. “We’ve got to rein in a lawless executive that is abusing its power.”

Rubio has said the EPA’s plan to curb emissions would have a “devastating impact” on jobs; he has also vowed to scale back the Clean Water Act.

“Regulations in this country are out of control, especially the Employment Prevention Agency, the EPA,” Rubio said in January.

Trump would appear to have some support for abolishing the EPA within Congress – Iowa Republican senator Joni Ernst, for example, has said the regulator should be scrapped because “the state knows best how to protect resources”.

Scrapping the EPA, however, would cause an unravelling of basic protections of air and water. Environmental law experts argue it would also be difficult to achieve anyway.

The agency, formed in 1970 under Richard Nixon, is empowered to administer federal standards under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. It has also been responsible for controlling or banning chemicals such as the pesticide DDT.

Robert Percival, director of the environmental law program at the University of Maryland, said ditching the EPA was a “ridiculous idea”.

“It reflects a lack of understanding over the US legal system, you’d have to fundamentally repeal or change all our environmental laws,” he said.

Trump is demagoguing. It plays to the far-right base but it would have enormous consequences for people’s health

Robert Percival, University of Maryland

“The EPA sets national standards and then the states come up with a plan on how to implement them. One reason this is done is to avoid a race to the bottom, so that states don’t relax regulations over air or water to attract industry.

“California could do a decent job maybe because it has such a large environmental agency but smaller states wouldn’t be able to perform those functions.

“Trump is demagoguing. It plays to the far-right base but it would have enormous consequences for people’s health.”

Supporters of the EPA point to evidence that the agency has helped save a huge amount of money, as well as prevented many deaths. A 2012 study estimated that the Clean Air Act alone has saved $22tn in healthcare costs during its lifetime.

“The EPA pays for itself and our environmental laws have been enormously successful,” said Percival.

“We don’t have the environmental problems China does, with its smogs and its polluted drinking water. China doesn’t have a centralized regulator like theEPA, with 15,000 employees to enforce national standards. We’d be setting ourselves up for an environmental disaster.”

EPA “overreach” has been a long-held bugbear of some Republicans, some of whom believe the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is evidence that the agency is failing.

Congressional hearings into Flint are being used to put pressure on Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s administrator. But the idea of shutting down the entire agency may be a step too far for some Republicans.


No traction for climate change

Tom Steyer’s priorities are at odds with America

Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer has spent millions of dollars trying to make climate change a major issue on the 2016 campaign trail. But neither the candidates nor the voters seem to notice.

After one of the Democratic presidential debates, Mr. Steyer issued a statement lamenting that the focus on climate change was “far too brief.” Following a Republican debate, he expressed outrage that “not a single Republican presidential candidate took this threat seriously,” to which he added, “And that’s why not a single one of these candidates is qualified to get anywhere near the Oval Office.”

To be fair, Mr. Steyer does appear to hold sway over the Democratic presidential candidates. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have, at Mr. Steyer’s insistence, pledged to achieve at least 50 percent “clean” energy by 2030. Mr. Steyer, who has yet to throw his support behind a candidate, appears to be dangling his wealth and endorsement over the Democratic candidates to cajole them to do even more.

Just days before the New Hampshire primary, Mrs. Clinton was asked if she would support banning the extraction of natural gas, oil, and coal on public lands. “Yeah, that’s a done deal,” was her reply. Clarifying her position to another activist, she said, “No future extraction. I agree with that.” Similarly, Mr. Sanders has co-sponsored legislation in the Senate that would block the development of these resources on federal lands. According to a recent study commissioned by the Institute for Energy Research, of which I am president, these “keep it in the ground” proposals would forgo millions of jobs, trillions of dollars in higher wages, and $20.7 trillion in economic activity.

Fortunately, on the whole, Mr. Steyer’s campaign to restrict affordable and reliable energy isn’t getting many converts. Mr. Steyer spent $73.7 million of his own money in a failed effort to make climate change a major issue in the 2014 elections. He wasted millions of dollars on ads that often didn’t even address climate change and whose truthfulness was disputed by fact-checking organizations like Poltifact and After his nearly yearlong campaign, climate change actually dropped as a priority among voters, ending up near the bottom of their list of concerns.

Mr. Steyer shouldn’t be entirely surprised if presidential hopefuls aren’t jumping through his hoops with enthusiasm. In a recent Gallup poll of the most important problems facing the United States, climate change was not even listed. The broader “Environment/Pollution” was in 18th place as a concern of just 2 percent of the respondents. The political reality is that candidates must attract the mainstream electorate, who prioritize the economy, jobs and poverty — issues that are in direct conflict with Mr. Steyer’s goals.

Mr. Steyer’s own state of California is ripe with examples of his agenda clashing with the people’s needs. Due in part to regulations that require non-hydroelectric renewables to represent 33 percent of the state’s electricity supply by 2020, residential electricity bills are nearly 40 percent higher than the national average and the ninth highest in the nation. Nevertheless, last year, Mr. Steyer testified in favor of legislation that would have bumped the current 33 percent renewables target up to 50 percent by 2030.

Mr. Steyer also supports California’s cap-and-trade program, which could raise gasoline prices by anywhere from 16 cents to 76 cents per gallon. Meanwhile, he’s pushing a ballot measure that would impose a 10 percent tax on oil extraction. This tax would, of course, raise gasoline prices for the state’s motorists, who already pay a 59 cents per gallon gas tax — one of the nation’s highest and about 11 cents more than the national average. Even without new taxes, California already has some of the highest gasoline prices in the country.

Higher energy costs have created a serious problem in California. According to a report by the Manhattan Institute, one million California households live in energy poverty, which is defined as a household in which 10 percent or more of the residents’ income is spent on household energy costs (excluding gasoline and other transportation-related costs). Higher energy costs leave these families with less money to spend on other necessities like groceries or proper healthcare.

Candidates seeking the presidential nomination — particularly in the Democratic camp — can’t square their rhetoric with their policies. They claim to help the poor, but they support energy policies that will make it harder for low-income families to make ends meet. Meanwhile, poll after poll shows Americans are more concerned about growing the economy and creating jobs than sacrificing their economic futures at the altar of Tom Steyer’s climate agenda.


Australia: Green/Left waste followed by Green/Left self-indulgence

Centuries from now future citizens will pick through the remnants of 21st century Australia. Some discoveries may puzzle them.

Why, for example, did Australians spend so much time and money building facilities for the purpose of turning salt water into fresh water?

Presumably these future folk will know that Australia didn’t actually need these devices at the time, given our usual abundant rainfall. So what was the use of all those desalination plants? Were they merely experimental? Did they have another, more practical application?

Or, like Stonehenge or Egypt’s pyramids, were they quasi-religious or spiritual monuments to some form of mystical deity?

The last answer will be close enough. Australia’s desalination plants were built in panic following warnings from former Climate Commission chief Tim Flannery that we were in danger of running out of water. “In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months,” Flannery claimed in 2007.

A couple of years ago, at the 2014 Mudgee Readers’ Festival, Flannery recalled those warnings. “Here in eastern Australia we’ve got much more variable rainfall, and I remember being asked about this at times, even by the government. I said, ‘what you should do is build a desalination plant; that’s really your last resort. Build it as an insurance policy’.

“Instead, treasury departments across eastern Australia said, ‘That’s a waste of money’.”

If only.

Desalination plants were constructed in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, the Gold Coast and a couple in Perth, at a total cost of around $12 billion. Most of that money was completely squandered, because — just like Flannery’s government-funded Climate Council — half of our nation’s desal plants have since been shut down, or at least reduced to standby status. Perth’s are still supplying water, and so is Adelaide’s, although it doesn’t need to following dam-filling rains. As of last month, the plant is running at just 10 per cent of capacity — at a cost of $1 million per day.

Sydney’s desal plant hasn’t spat out a drop since it was put on standby in 2012, only two years after it was opened. It is presently costing more than half a million dollars per day just to sit there like the world’s fattest disability pensioner while Sydney’s dams remain at more than 90 per cent of their capacity. The Gold Coast’s desal plant opened in 2009 and closed in 2010.

Thanks for all that, Professor Flannery. Undaunted by the outcome of his ridiculously expensive water worries, the great global warming hysteric has lately moved on to another field. He’s swapped desal for diesel — thousands of litres of the stuff.

Recently the Climate Council — a privatised, donation-funded version of the old Climate Commission, still with Flannery at the helm — invited concerned Australians to join the professor on a cash-raising cruise along Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast. “As part of this adventure, you will join renowned scientist and former Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery — the Climate Council’s Chief Councillor — on the adventure of a lifetime,” the Council promises.

“Over eight days you’ll sail the breathtaking Kimberley coast in the award-winning charter vessel, Kimberley Quest, on an expedition of archaeological discovery. Best of all, by taking part in this expedition, you’ll be stepping up to help provide Australians with a vital source of correct and informed information on climate change.”

There’s no better information than informed information. As part of their climate crusade, Flannery’s ecotourists will also be supplied with a “courtesy vehicle to/from your Broome accommodation”, a “light aircraft from Broome to Mitchell Plateau” and a “return helicopter flight from Mitchell Plateau to Hunter River”, which is what you’d expect for a total cost north of $7500.
Lap of luxury and a fuel bill to boot with a scenic flight returning to the Kimberley Quest. Picture: Supplied

All of that fossil fuel incineration doesn’t exactly sit well with Flannery’s climate change message, however. And then there’s the vessel he and his mates will travel aboard. The Kimberley Quest II, to give the ship its full name, is “equipped with a helipad, spa, [and] large en-suited cabins” that “feature private ensuites, individual air-conditioning, viewing windows, mini-refrigerators and are serviced daily by your hostess.”

This sucker’s carbon footprint must be sensational. All of those airconditioners, spas and fridges don’t run on wind chimes, so the Kimberley Quest II is fitted with no fewer than four diesel-burning engines — two massive 450 horsepower Caterpillar 3406Es for propulsion and a couple of smaller Cat generators to keep the champagne chilled as you discuss the terrible threat of global warming. Get them all cranking at once and the diesel consumption rate might be around 320 litres per hour, which is why this floating Gaia-eater needs a total fuel capacity of 36,000 litres.

To put that fuel capacity into perspective, 36,000 litres of diesel is enough to run a poor African village’s electricity generator for nearly five years. The fastest Audi at last year’s Le Mans 24 hour race made it all the way to the podium after using less than 1500 litres of diesel during the entire event.

Still, I suppose Flannery’s diesel drainage is all worth it. You can never put a price on the “correct and informed information on climate change.” Unless that price is more than $7500 per customer, not including return flights to Broome, personal expenditures for laundry and tipping, compulsory travel insurance and meals not outlined in the itinerary



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



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This Blog by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.), writing from Brisbane, Australia.

I am the most complete atheist you can imagine. I don't believe in Karl Marx, Jesus Christ or global warming. And I also don't believe in the unhealthiness of salt, sugar and fat. How skeptical can you get? If sugar is bad we are all dead

Global warming has now become a worldwide political gravy-train -- so only a new ice-age could stop it. I am happy however to be one of the small band who keep the flame of truth alive

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. Greenie policies can in fact be actively bad for the environment -- as with biofuels, for instance

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. Scientists are Warmists for the money it brings in, not because of the facts

The world's first "Green" party was the Nazi party -- and Greenies are just as Fascist today in their endeavours to dictate to us all and in their attempts to suppress dissent from their claims.

"When it comes to alarmism, we’re all deniers; when it comes to climate change, none of us are" -- Dick Lindzen

The EPA does everything it can get away with to shaft America and Americans

Cromwell's famous plea: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken" was ignored by those to whom it was addressed -- to their great woe. Warmists too will not consider that they may be wrong ..... "Bowels" was a metaphor for compassion in those days

Warmism is a powerful religion that aims to control most of our lives. It is nearly as powerful as the Catholic Church once was

Leftists have faith that warming will come back some day. And they mock Christians for believing in the second coming of Christ! They obviously need religion

Global warming has in fact been a religious doctrine for over a century. Even Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses, believed in it

A rosary for the church of global warming (Formerly the Catholic church): "Hail warming, full of grace, blessed art thou among climates and blessed is the fruit of thy womb panic"

Pope Francis is to the Catholic church what Obama is to America -- a mistake, a fool and a wrecker

The plight of the bumblebee -- an egregious example of crooked "science"

Inorganic Origin of Petroleum: "The theory of Inorganic Origin of Petroleum (synonyms: abiogenic, abiotic, abyssal, endogenous, juvenile, mineral, primordial) states that petroleum and natural gas was formed by non-biological processes deep in the Earth, crust and mantle. This contradicts the traditional view that the oil would be a "fossil fuel" produced by remnants of ancient organisms. Oil is a hydrocarbon mixture in which a major constituent is methane CH4 (a molecule composed of one carbon atom bonded to four hydrogen atoms). Occurrence of methane is common in Earth's interior and in space. The inorganic theory contrasts with the ideas that posit exhaustion of oil (Peak Oil), which assumes that the oil would be formed from biological processes and thus would occur only in small quantities and sets, tending to exhaust. Some oil drilling now goes 7 miles down, miles below any fossil layers

As the Italian chemist Primo Levi reflected in Auschwitz, carbon is ‘the only element that can bind itself in long stable chains without a great expense of energy, and for life on Earth (the only one we know so far) precisely long chains are required. Therefore carbon is the key element of living substance.’ The chemistry of carbon (2) gives it a unique versatility, not just in the artificial world, but also, and above all, in the animal, vegetable and – speak it loud! – human kingdoms.

David Archibald: "The more carbon dioxide we can put into the atmosphere, the better life on Earth will be for human beings and all other living things."

Warmists depend heavily on ice cores for their figures about the atmosphere of the past. But measuring the deep past through ice cores is a very shaky enterprise, which almost certainly takes insufficient account of compression effects. The apparently stable CO2 level of 280ppm during the Holocene could in fact be entirely an artifact of compression at the deeper levels of the ice cores. Perhaps the gas content of an ice layer approaches a low asymptote under pressure. Dr Zbigniew Jaworowski's criticisms of the assumed reliability of ice core measurements are of course well known. And he studied them for over 30 years.


"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." --- Richard P. Feynman.

Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough - Michael Crichton

"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

Was Paracelsus a 16th century libertarian? His motto was: "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself." He was certainly a rebel in his rejection of authority and his reliance on observable facts and is as such one of the founders of modern medicine

"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

“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.“ – Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Leftists generally and Warmists in particular very commonly ascribe disagreement with their ideas to their opponent being "in the pay" of someone else, usually "Big Oil", without troubling themselves to provide any proof of that assertion. They are so certain that they are right that that seems to be the only reasonable explanation for opposition to them. They thus reveal themselves as the ultimate bigots -- people with fixed and rigid ideas.


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.

A Warmist backs down: "No one knows exactly how far rising carbon concentrations affect temperatures" -- Stefan Rahmstorf, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Jimmy Carter Classic Quote from 1977: "Because we are now running out of gas and oil, we must prepare quickly for a third change, to strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power.


Today’s environmental movement is the current manifestation of the totalitarian impulse. It is ironic that the same people who condemn the black or brown shirts of the pre WW2 period are blind to the current manifestation simply because the shirts are green.

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

97% of scientists want to get another research grant

Hearing a Government Funded Scientist say let me tell you the truth, is like hearing a Used Car Salesman saying let me tell you the truth.

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.

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.

After fighting a 70 year war to destroy red communism we face another life-or-death struggle in the 21st century against green communism.

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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