Monday, April 24, 2017

Solar ovens and sustained poverty for Africa

African families and hospitals cannot rely on limited solar power, instead of electricity

Steven Lyazi

Solar technology in Africa, including my country of Uganda, would bring good news to millions of people who today must use firewood, charcoal and dung for cooking. Millions of Africans die from lung infections caused by breathing fumes from these fires, millions more from eating spoiled food, drinking contaminated water and having spoiled medicines, because we don’t have electricity, sanitation or refrigeration. What we do have in abundance is extensive, sustained poverty.

Solar technologies could help Africa, because this multi-purpose energy can cook food, light homes, charge cell phones and even power tiny refrigerators. Even simple solar ovens can help reduce our deadly traditional ways of cooking. Renewable energy from wind turbines can deliver even more electricity to billions around the world who still don’t have this amazing, essential energy.

Those are huge benefits, and I applaud them. In addition, we can install little wind and solar systems faster than we can build big power plants and transmission lines to remote areas.

However, we must not look at wind and solar as anything more than short-term solutions to fix serious, immediate problems. They do not equal real economic development or really improved living standards. Our cities need abundant, reliable electricity, and for faraway villages wind and solar must be only temporary, to meet basic needs until they can be connected to transmission lines and a grid.

Only in that way can we have modern homes, heating, lighting, cooking, refrigeration, offices, factories, schools, shops and hospitals – so that we can enjoy the same living standards people in industrialized countries do (and think is their right). We deserve the same rights and lives.

That is why I react strongly to people and organizations that think wind and solar electricity and solar ovens should be enough, or the end of our progress, and everyone should be happy that their lives have improved a little. I do not accept that. But I see it all the time.

At least a dozen companies are selling solar ovens and other solar technologies in Uganda. There’s Blazing Tube Solar from Hawaii and Home Energy Africa, which sells Dutch products. Green Energy Africa is registered in Kenya. It says its renewable energy systems “provide electricity without depleting the earth’s limited resources.” (Of course, those systems generate very limited electricity and require raw materials that are limited in quantity and must be dug out of the earth and turned into products using fossil fuels. But we’re not supposed to think about that.)

There’s also Solar point Uganda Limited, Energy Made in Uganda, New Age Solar Technologies Ltd, New Sun Limited, Solar Assembly Plant for African Villages, and other companies.

Some just want to make money, and leave. Others plan to stay for years. They can help solve some of our electricity, cooking and indoor air pollution problems. But these are all just short-term solutions. We need real energy, real electricity – a lot of it, reliable and affordable. What we are offered is very different.

I watched a Blazing Tube Solar demonstration and asked some questions. Their system has a long shiny metal trough that holds a tube filled with vegetable oil. The hot oil heats up a small oven at the top, to bake bread and cook other food. It has handles and wheels, so it can be moved easily. The cooker is mostly metal, so it should last a long time. But it can take 45 minutes to boil some eggs, and it costs $260.

Most African village families live on a couple dollars a day and can hardly afford food for their children. They cannot afford $260, or even $100 for some other systems. So they watch the sales presentations and admire the cookers. But they are frustrated or angry that they cannot afford them. I saw this when I traveled to the northern, eastern and central parts of Uganda.

Another problem is the sunlight. Even in Uganda, which is on the equator, the best sun comes from October through February. Other times of the year, it’s not as good because of clouds and rains. So the solar companies mostly come around when the sun is best and their ovens perform the best.

When it’s cloudy for several days, families cannot cook at all, unless they have solar cookers that actually run on electricity from photovoltaic panels on their homes. But those systems are even more expensive, and the battery power only lasts a couple days. Then families have to go back to wood, charcoal and dung. (Small diesel generators would be a huge improvement, but they too are unaffordable for most.)

Parents are very aware of the deadly respiratory diseases. But they have no choice. And many just prefer the cheaper traditional means of cooking and surviving than the fancy, expensive solar innovations.

A major local preacher for solar energy stoves is a Ugandan native who now resides in Chicago, Mr. Ron Mutebi. He used part of the $100,000 he won at the African Diaspora Marketplace competition at an Africa Infrastructure Conference in Washington. The conference was sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa, Western Union, USAID and President Obama’s Forum with Young African Leaders. Mr. Obama often said Africans should use wind, solar and biofuel energy instead of fossil fuels.

But I worry that Mr. Mutebi has forgotten how many people are starving, have no money, try to earn a living by digging metal ores with their hands, and almost have to feed their children with grass and dirt. Uganda’s New Vision newspaper recently reported that over 10 million Ugandans in seven districts are starving and many animals are dying of hunger. This sustained poverty and starvation cannot continue.

Many people also don’t know that Africa has some big dreams. One is a Trans East Africa railway that will link Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Horn of Africa countries. This will be a first of its kind electric railway, some 750 kilometers (466 miles) long, and it will need tremendous amounts of energy that cannot come from wind turbines and solar panels.

It will have to come from nuclear power plants – or coal or natural gas generating plants. Africa has these resources in great abundance. But so far we are barely developing or using them, except maybe to export oil to wealthy nations. We should use them. Right now, most of our natural gas from oil fields is just burned and wasted right there. Why not build gas pipelines to power plants to generate electricity for millions? Why not build nuclear and coal plants, and hydroelectric projects like the Bujagali and Karuma Dams on the Nile River in Uganda? Mostly because powerful environmentalist groups oppose these projects. They care more about plants, animals and their own power, than about African people.

What is an extra degree, or even two degrees, of warming in places like Africa? It’s already incredibly hot here, and people are used to it. What we Africans worry about and need to fix are malnutrition and starvation, the absence of electricity, and killer diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness and HIV/AIDS. Climate changes and droughts have been part of our history forever, and modern energy and technology would help us cope with them better in the future. We must stop focusing on climate change.

African governments are not doing enough to build the energy, transportation and communication systems we desperately need. They are not standing up to Europeans, global banks or environmentalists who oppose big power plants in Africa. They need to do better at helping their people.

Our leaders also need to remember that Europe and the United States did not have a World Bank or other outside help when they modernized and industrialized. They did it themselves. National and local governments, groups of citizens and businesses, and various banks and investors did it. They invented things, financed big projects, and built their cities and countries. China and India have figured this out.

Now Africa needs to do the same thing – and stop relying on outsiders, bowing to their demands, and letting them dictate our future. We have the energy and other natural resources, and the smart, talented, hardworking people to get the job done. We just need to be set free to do it.

Via email

UK: Plugging in six electric cars may cause local power cuts

What fun!

Electric cars could cause local power shortages if just six vehicles are plugged in to charge on the same street, a leading think tank has warned.

Britain’s energy networks are unprepared for the growing numbers of electric cars and solar panels and ministers must intervene to prevent a “disaster” of “rising bills, blackout risk and angry consumers”, the Green Alliance said.

Uncontrolled charging of electric vehicles could cause “brownouts” at evening peaks in half of the UK by 2023, where the voltage drops and some household appliances stop working. Even now “as few as six closely located vehicles charging together at peak time could lead to local brownouts”, the report warned.


California again leads list with 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities

All their ponderous Greenie regulations would appear to have had no effect

California's smoggy reputation appears to be deserved: Six of the USA's 10 cities with the worst air pollution are in the Golden State, according to a new report.

Bakersfield, Calif., again holds the dubious distinction of having the USA's most days of highly polluted air, based on data from 2013-2015, the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report released Wednesday found.

In addition to the worst spikes of short-term pollution — led by Bakersfield — the report also lists the cities with the worst overall year-round pollution — led by Visala/Hanford, Calif.— and the worst ozone pollution, led by the Los Angeles/Long Beach area.

California's soaring population and topography allow air pollution to overcome the state's strict environmental laws, said Paul Billings of the American Lung Association. The boom in people brings with it an increase in cars and trucks on the roads, and many of those people live in valley and basins, right where pollution tends to settle.

Nearly year-round sunny skies also don't help: Those picture-perfect days are a major factor in high levels of ozone pollution, he added.

The state would be far worse off without its strict laws on tailpipe pollution and eliminating coal-fired power plants. "They've done more than any other state to counteract air pollution," Billings said.

Overall, the report is a mixture of good and bad news: While year-round pollution has improved, short-term spikes of intensely polluted air have increased.

"While most of the nation has much cleaner air quality than even a decade ago, many cities reported their highest number of unhealthy days since the report began" 18 years ago, it found.

Some 125 million Americans nationwide live with unhealthful levels of air pollution, the report said, placing them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm.

"Even with continued improvement, too many people in the United States live where the air is unhealthy for them to breathe," the report said.

Only six metro areas recorded no days when pollution reached unhealthy levels, according to the report: Burlington, Vt.; Honolulu; Wilmington, N.C.; Fort Myers / Naples, Fla.; Melbourne, Fla., and Elmira, N.Y.

Billings said he's concerned about Trump's plans to slash the Environmental Protection Agency's budget. "We have to keep the environmental cop on the beat," he said.

Trump's budget proposal contains a 31% cut to the agency, including weakening or eliminating the Clean Air Act, which the report says has been the most important tool in the fight for healthy air by driving emission reductions for more than 47 years.

“Everyone has a fundamental right to breathe healthy air," said Harold P. Wimmer, the president and CEO of the American Lung Association said.


British Tories make energy costs a central issue

Theresa May will attempt to capture the political centre ground by slashing £100 from the energy bills of 17m families and granting new rights for workers.

The prime minister will use the Conservative manifesto, to be published on May 8, to cap the gas and electricity bills for the seven out of 10 households that pay standard variable tariffs — dubbed a rip-off by watchdogs.

The policy is a centrepiece of a manifesto that will set out a bold social vision for Britain that parks Tory tanks on terrain usually occupied by Labour.


Australia: March for Science participants hoping to send strong message to political leaders

I heartily endorse this march.  We do need more science in public life.  More attention to the scientific fact that there is no correspondence between global temperature levels and global CO2 levels would be a start

Thousands of people have rallied across Australia as part of a global movement calling on political leaders to focus more on science.

Crowds gathered in cities and towns including Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Perth, Brisbane and Townsville as part of the inaugural March for Science, which is taking place in 500 locations worldwide.

The movement was started by scientists sceptical of the agenda of US President Donald Trump, but Stuart Khan, one of the organisers of the Sydney march, said it quickly went global.

He said marchers were calling on politicians to take note that the public wanted policy based on fact.

"The gaps that we see between what science tells us and what we actually see being translated into policy is very large, particularly when you look at things like climate change and the Great Barrier Reef," Professor Khan said.

"We're calling on politicians to make laws that are based on evidence that are appropriate for our future … Australians want to understand how science and how evidence is being incorporated into policy.

"Disease, famine, communicable disease, pollution of the ocean, climate change, all of these challenges are addressable by science."

Professor Khan emphasised that the march was not for scientists, but for anyone. "I'm participating as a community member, I'm participating as a dad," he said. "It is very important that the March for Science is a community-led march, it's a statement that is coming from the community.

"It's not led by the academics, it's not led by eminent scientists because it's not about them, it's about the community saying 'This is what is important to us'."

Among the thousands attending the Sydney rally was former Liberal leader John Hewson, who told AM ahead of the march he was concerned about "the lack of evidence being used as the basis of public policy".

"I think science is probably more useful and more relevant to society today than it's probably ever been. But there's been a widening gap between science and the public," he said.

"We need to stop and recognise the significance of science and the importance of funding it properly and using the evidence that it produces as the basis of good public policy."

Scientist and Macquarie University Associate Professor Josh Madin attended the Sydney rally with his young family and said politicians needed to pay attention to scientific evidence.

"We do a lot of work on the Great Barrier Reef and we've seen first hand the devastation up there and I just think there are some decisions being made that don't have the best interests of our children's future in mind," he said.

Among those throwing their support behind the March for Science is Luke Briscoe, chief executive of Indigi Lab, which works to get more recognition for Indigenous science.

Ms Briscoe said Indigenous science, a form of science in its own right, needed to be better understood in Western culture.

"The honeybee dance from where I'm from in Kuku Yalanji country in far north Queensland, that dance talks about how the bees are sustaining our ecologies," he said.

"It's passing on those customs and traditions that our sciences are embedded in and … it's hard to really put value and monetise the importance of that in a Western world."

Mr Briscoe said having Indigneous participation in the decision-making process would be the only way to ensure better recognition of Indigenous science.

"I think it's important that we ensure that Indigenous voices are heard in the science sector and are at the table in decision-making processes for how we roll out science programs," he said.

"In terms of the workforce, making sure that that it's not just a one-way science understanding — it's looking at two ways of learning and two ways of teaching science and practicing science."



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Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Other Poison Gas Killing Syrians: Carbon Dioxide Emissions

"If Trump and his cronies really cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn’t be trying to spew ever more CO2 into the atmosphere"

Prof. Juan Cole goofs again below. The Leftist "expert" on the Middle East (a  professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History in the History Department at the University of Michigan), Juan Cole, gets shown up for the know-nothing he is here. And there is another scathing takedown of him here.  For more on that see Mark Kleiman.  We also read  here that Cole thinks  Iraq is on the Mediterranean!  And if  you read here you will see that the wacky Prof. Cole does not even know that a large part of what is the USA today was taken from Mexico!  

But his identification of CO2 below as a noxious or deadly gas is a low point even for him. Does he realize that he himself breathes out a noxious gas every minute? Cole calls his blog Informed Comment, in the fine old Leftist tradition of calling a thing by its opposite

And  it's just guesswork that attributes the severity of the Syrian drought to global warming.  The Sahara 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 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

The gas attack in Syria on April 4 consumed the world’s attention and galvanized the Trump White House, leading to the launch of 59 cruise missiles on a small airport from which the regime of Bashar al-Assad has been bombing the fundamentalist rebels in Idlib province. The pictures of suffering children, Trump said, had touched him. Yet the president and most of his party are committed to increasing the daily release of hundreds of thousands of tons of a far more deadly gas—carbon dioxide. Climate scientist James Hansen has described our current emissions as like setting off 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs each day, every day of the year.

The Syrian civil war has left more than 400,000 people dead, among them graveyards full of children and innocent noncombatants. About half the country’s 23 million people have been left homeless, and of those, 4 million have been driven abroad (some of them contributing to Europe’s refugee crisis and its consequent rightward political shift). The war occurred for many complex reasons, including social and political ones. The severest drought in recorded modern Syrian history in 2007–10, however, made its contribution.

The mega-drought drove 1.5 million farmers and farmworkers off the land to the seedy bidonvilles ringing cities such as Homs and Hama. In the northeast, 70 percent of the farm livestock died in those years. These displaced and dispossessed day laborers, who seldom found remunerative new work in Syria’s stagnant urban economy, joined in the demonstrations against the regime. Some were later drawn into the civil war as militiamen. Others in the end fled their country.

A team of scientists found no natural explanation for how rapidly Syria has been drying out over the past century.

Of course, Syria has had milder periodic droughts all through history. Moreover, some countries in the region, such as Israel, have been much better at water management than the decrepit Baath state in Syria. It matters how such crises are handled. A team of scientists writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, however, found no natural explanation for how rapidly Syria has been drying out over the past century or for the withering severity of the latest drought. Human-caused climate change, which has raised the temperature of the planet 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, they concluded, made this Frankendrought as much as three times more likely to happen than if our coal plants, factories, and automobiles had left Mother Nature alone.


EPA begins Trump's process of weeding out workers

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with President Trump's plan to begin cutting staff at the agency by the end of the fiscal year, according to an internal memo.

A special task force has been created to oversee the process, with workforce reductions, including an employee buyout program, slated to go into effect by the end of September, according to a memo issued by EPA Deputy Administrator Michael Flynn.

"Streamlining and reorganizing is good government and important to maximizing taxpayer dollars," said EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman. "This includes looking at developing opportunities for individuals to retire early."

Bowman said it is a process "that mirrors what the Obama administration EPA did about four years ago." It was done "to ensure that payroll expenses do not overtake funds used for vital programs to protect the environment," she said.

Flynn sent the memo this week to guide regional administrators and other branches of the agency on complying with a separate April 12 memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The OMB memo "requires all agencies to begin taking immediate actions on near-term workforce reductions," Flynn wrote. "In light of this guidance, we will begin the steps necessary to initiate an early out/buyout ... program."

He said the "goal is to complete this program by the end of fiscal 2017," which is Sept. 30.

EPA employs about 15,000 workers, 3,200 of whom are targeted to be cut under Trump's budget blueprint.

Flynn noted that the EPA would not be ending a hiring freeze at the agency, despite the administration lifting the government-wide freeze this month.

"Given our resource situation, we will continue a freeze on external hiring," the memo read, adding that "limited exceptions to this external hiring freeze may be permitted on a case-by-case basis."


Earth Day and the divestment campaign against humanity

The constant warnings about the adverse impacts of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, apart from being utterly inconsistent with the evidence, are similar to the ancient interpretation of destructive weather as the gods’ punishment of men for the sins of Man.

Is it confusion? Or is it malevolence? “It” is the driving force underlying the loud clamor for divestment from fossil fuel assets, a political pressure campaign that is growing in sound and fury—and international jet-setting—even as actual government actions to reduce the production and use of fossil fuels are proving futile.

The answer: It is both, so that divestment will be a central theme of Earth Day 2017. Note that current world oil consumption and production are around 98 million barrels per day (mmbd). The International Energy Agency projects global consumption over 103 mmbd by 2040, despite some dubious assumptions. The projection from the Energy Information Administration is almost 121 mmbd by 2040. Even BP and Exxon, driven by political pressures to be politically correct, project global oil consumption and production at 110 mmbd in 2035 and 105 mmbd in 2040, respectively.

So the campaign to “leave it (fossil fuels) in the ground” shows few ongoing signs of prospective success. As Pravda in its glory days would have put it: This inverse relationship between government action against fossil fuels and the divestment movement is no accident, Comrade, as there would be no need for the latter were the former meaningful.

Let us begin with confusion as a significant but lesser source of the divestment argument, as exemplified here. The argument used to be that high oil prices would suppress demand and thus make many investments in fossil fuel reserves uneconomic. Let me be blunt: That argument—high oil prices make divestment the wise choice—is rather silly, frankly, as reserves that can developed and produced in the context of high prices are an investor’s dream.

That silliness seems to have dawned on the divestment advocates because their new argument is that low oil prices will make it uneconomic to produce many fossil-fuel reserves. Low prices will “strand” those reserves, that is, make them unprofitable to produce, and those who invested in them will suffer losses. Better for investors to get out now before the coming crash. Note that this argument has been combined with the assertion that international action against (anthropogenic) climate change will reduce investment in fossil fuel reserves: “Oil companies must avoid destroying shareholder value by investing in resources that could be forced to the sidelines in a carbon-constrained world.”

Where to begin? It is dangerous to begin a conceptual experiment with a price assumption or change because the price is an outcome rather than a parameter. High oil prices might result from strong economic growth and resulting increases in the demand for energy, in which case the “demand suppression” assumption would be the opposite of reality. High oil prices, in other words, are not necessarily caused by supply disruptions or by analogous supply conditions yielding a reduction in consumption. But even in that case—a supply reduction yields high prices—existing and new reserves that can offset the adverse supply condition would be viewed as a godsend by the market, which would reward investors in these substitute sources of energy.

Similarly, low oil prices might result from an expansion of supply conditions—fracking and horizontal drilling perhaps?—in which case some reserves might prove unprofitable to produce, but which must result in an increase in oil output for the market as a whole. It is that overall increase in supply conditions that results in the lower price, which certainly might make some high-cost reserves uneconomic to produce, but which cannot result in an aggregate decline in oil consumption, and which is inconsistent with “international action” to “keep it in the ground” in any case. New discoveries, technological advances—tell any story you choose—low prices resulting from a supply expansion must have the effect of increasing consumption.

Let us turn to the malevolence dimension of the divestment campaign, equally confused in ways more subtle, but darker in its implicit but clear anti-human character. The global divestment campaign advertises itself as on a roll, having received pledges from about 700 institutions and 58,000 individuals to divest approximately $5.2 billion in fossil-fuel assets, in particular the 200 or so oil, gas, and coal producers with the greatest “carbon” content of their reported reserves.

“Divest” is a curious term; a simpler verb is “sell,” and it is a source of some interest that the divesting institutions and individuals are pledging to do so within three to five years. Why not just give the assets away immediately on a first-come/first-serve basis? The obvious answer is that those divesting—selling—the fossil-fuel assets prefer to get the highest prices that they can, an objective rather inconsistent with the purported moral imperative underlying a shift out of fossil fuels and toward the “new energy economy,” about which more below.

For now let us consider the implications of the divestment stance. The fossil-fuel sector is huge—about $5 trillion in market capitalization—because other sectors demand energy and fossil fuels overwhelmingly are the most efficient forms with which to provide it. To say that “other sectors” demand energy is to say that people demand it. So if investment in fossil-fuel sectors engenders some sort of moral quandary, does the same principle apply to investment in industries that use energy? After all, they are responsible for the very existence of the energy producers. Will the divestment campaign expand to agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, retailing, the household sector, and all the rest? Is investment in government bonds the only moral course? Well, no: Government too uses vast amounts of energy.

And let us not stop there: Precisely why do all sectors demand energy? Obviously, it is because people demand the goods and services made affordable by fossil fuels. Notice that the correlation between energy consumption and household income is high and rises as income increases; for the bottom three U.S. income quintiles, the respective correlations are about 0.75, 0.85, and 0.91. If fossil fuels are evil, so are rising incomes, as the latter drive up the demand for the former.

So let us be very clear that one central implication of the divestment campaign—remember, it is a moral imperative—is the desirability of poverty as a tool with which to dampen energy demands and thus incentives to invest in fossil-fuel sectors. This is separate from the impoverishing effect of substituting expensive energy in place of conventional energy produced with fossil fuels.

Accordingly, the divestment campaign has slipped into the anti-human trap that is the hidden but essential core of modern environmentalism: Far from being a resource, ordinary people are a scourge on the planet. They prefer cheap energy, strongly, but the moral imperative of divestment is diametrically opposed, and investments in people—education, health, etc.—make matters worse by increasing human capital and wealth, and thus the demand for energy.

Therefore, the moral imperative of the divestment campaign—its very logic—leads to disinvestment not only from virtually all economic activities, but also from investments in people, in particular in a third world desperate to emerge from grinding poverty.

Consider also one central dimension of what it means to be human: the application of intelligence to overcome the obstacles that define life outside the Garden of Eden. From backbreaking toil by hand to the use of animals and tools to the evolution of energy from wood to whale oil to coal to oil and gas to nuclear power to new technologies yet to be invented or proven competitive, the history of energy is a fundamental component of mankind’s evolution, reflecting the inventiveness that is uniquely human, a process utterly at odds with the underlying imperatives of the divestment campaign.

Supporters of divestment might respond that they too favor inventiveness in the form of the “new energy economy,” which means such unconventional technologies as wind and solar power. Let us therefore examine the “moral” dimension of that investment shift. Because unconventional energy sources are unconcentrated, they are expensive and cannot compete without large subsidies and guaranteed market shares. Because they are intermittent—sometimes the wind blows and sometimes the sun shines, and sometimes not—they must be backed up with conventional power units, which must be cycled up and down depending on wind and sunlight conditions. In a word, they must be operated inefficiently, yielding an increase—yes, an increase—in the emissions of conventional pollutants.

Even an impossible 20–30 percent decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions would reduce temperatures in 2100 by only about half a degree. Would an enterprising journalist somewhere please ask the supporters of divestment about the morality of a campaign that would (1) impoverish millions of people, (2) increase conventional pollution, (3) yield zero offsetting environmental benefits, and (4) forcibly extract resources from ordinary people, while (5) providing the environmental left with a rationale for moral preening?

Despite the constant appeals of the divestment advocates to climate “science” and their poor use of economic analytics, the reality is that the divestment campaign, like modern leftist environmentalism more generally, is essentially a religious movement. The constant warnings about the adverse impacts of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, apart from being utterly inconsistent with the evidence, are similar to the ancient interpretation of destructive weather as the gods’ punishment of men for the sins of Man. Just as the pagans for thousands of years attempted to prevent destructive weather by worshipping golden idols, so do modern environmentalists now attempt to prevent destructive weather by bowing down before recycling bins. At a more general level, consider the basic theological stance of the divestment campaign: In the beginning, Earth was the Garden of Eden. But mankind, having consumed the forbidden fruit of the tree of technological knowledge, has despoiled it. And only through repentance and economic suffering can we return to the loving embrace of Mother Gaia.

Let us not fail to take note of the breathtaking hypocrisy of some members of the current generation of Rockefellers, announcing loudly their decision to divest the fossil-fuel assets of their charity, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, while maintaining a deafening silence about the fossil-fuel investments of the far-larger family investment and wealth management firm Rockefeller & Company. Nor have we heard that they will divest themselves of the lavish lifestyles engendered in past Rockefeller generations by the historical growth of the oil and gas sector. Their central objective is loud applause at the upper-crust cocktail parties for a divestment that will have no effect on the fossil-fuel sector, that will cost them literally nothing, and that is part of a leftist campaign that views ordinary people as a liability.

Such are the dimensions of moral cowardice.


Your Choice: A Green America Or A Brown America


In celebration of Earth Day this Saturday, let’s review how the Sierra Club sold its soul and screwed the Earth for a $100 million donation. They must hate themselves for it, so why shouldn’t we hate them, too?

After Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 immigration act began dumping millions of Third-Worlders on the country, the Sierra Club talked of little else besides reducing immigration.

In 1970, the club adopted a resolution complaining that the country’s growing population was polluting the “air, water and land” — to the point that “our very survival (is) threatened.”

In 1978, the Sierra Club adopted a resolution urging Congress to “conduct a thorough examination of U.S. immigration laws,” noting that the United States, Canada and Australia were the only countries admitting “more than a handful of permanent immigrants.”

In 1980, the club dropped its promotion of birth control, in order to focus on immigration. “It is obvious,” the club said, “that the numbers of immigrants the United States accepts affects our population size and growth rate,” even more than “the number of children per family.”

In 1989, the club’s Population Report expressly called for reducing the number of immigrants.

In 1990, the club’s grassroots leaders voted overwhelmingly to launch a major national campaign on the immigration problem.

Even people who don’t live in yurts can’t help but notice the environmental damage being done by hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans clamoring across the border every year, setting fires, dumping litter, spray-painting gang signs in our parks and defacing ancient Indian petroglyphs.

The problem isn’t just the number of people traipsing through our wilderness areas; it’s that primitive societies have no concept of “litter.” That’s a quirk of prosperous societies. The damage to our parks shows these cultural differences.

Writing in an environmental journal at New York University, Rosa P. Oakes described the “reprehensible” damage being done to “towering cactus, Joshua trees, flowering cactus varieties, colorful wildflowers and rock formations” by illegals. With accompanying photos, she noted that the immigrants’ litter included “abandoned vehicles … used needles, drug paraphernalia, plastic grocery bags, paper products, empty water containers, blankets, clothing, used disposable diapers, among other things.”

The Mexican cultural trait of littering is apparently well known to everyone — except American journalists.

As usual, when it comes to anything that reflects negatively on Third World immigrants, you have to be Agatha Christie to get at the truth. If the media can hide Hispanic child rape, it’s child’s play for them to ignore the Hispanic littering problem.

The best way to find out about garbage being dumped all over by our vibrant recent immigrants is to look at local news stories from any town that contains a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Here are three from last year:

Local politicians in heavily Hispanic Allentown, Pennsylvania, wanted to suck up to their constituents by renaming Seventh Street “Calle Siete.” Then it turned out that the Hispanic merchants on “Calle Siete” had no interest in this idea. Their No. 1 issue? Litter.

Dorcas Derivera, an immigrant from Guatemala, said in perfect English that if politicians wanted to do something useful, they would deal with the litter problem on Seventh Street, which she said she must pick up from the sidewalk before clients arrive.

“It’s embarrassing,” she told a local newspaper. “How am I going to do business?”

Also last year, in a classic MSM Hide-the-Mexican story, there were media reports of “racist” graffiti targeting “Hispanics and African-Americans” in San Leandro, California’s Marina Park. Obviously, graffiti directed at “Hispanics and African-Americans” could only have been left by one of those white supremacist gangs so prevalent on “Law and Order”!

Nope. It was Mexicans, again: The Nortenos, a Mexican gang. By “Hispanics,” the media meant “Hispanics other than the ones doing the graffiti.”

Then last October, the parks and recreation department in Decatur, Alabama, was again forced to remove goals from the soccer field because of the mountains of garbage routinely left behind. In the past decade, the soccer games had become “an increasingly popular social event among the Hispanic community.”

Would any of this be of interest to an alleged environmental group? It used to be — until the early 2000s.

That was when the Sierra Club was given $100 million by hedge fund billionaire David Gelbaum in exchange for never opposing immigration again. The club said, How dare you ask us to abandon our principles for filthy lucre!

Just kidding! It said, SURE! Did you bring the check?

Mass Third World immigration is a triple whammy for the environment because:

1) Millions more people are tromping through our country;

2) The new people do not share Americans’ love of nature and cleanliness; and

3) We’re not allowed to criticize them.

One big advantage of taking white Western European immigrants is that we’re permitted to complain about their grating cultural habits without being accused of “racism.” (Also, there aren’t that many of them.)

The Sierra Club didn’t anticipate the PC reasons for preferring non-Third World immigrants, but simply wanted to stop so many people pouring into our country and stepping on the flowers. Which is why the club used to be nearly monomaniacally focused on reducing immigration.

By now, it’s been a quarter-century since the Sierra Club cared about the environment. As is the fate of most groups that stick around long enough, today it’s just another left-wing, hate-America interest group. Unfortunately, among the things the Sierra Club hates about America are its rivers, mountains, hiking trails, parks and wildlife.

Give me your tired, your poor, your empties and pizza boxes, your Cheetos bags, your soiled diapers and abandoned couches …



By Isaac Orr

When it comes to renewable energy, there truly are numerous myths that perpetuate throughout the media and culture that are not supported by any fair reading of the available data.

Over the past year “alternative facts” and “fake news” have become regrettable buzzwords used to dismiss any viewpoint that does not support one’s own preconceived notions.

But when it comes to renewable energy, there truly are numerous myths that perpetuate throughout the media and culture that are not supported by any fair reading of the available data.

Renewable-energy advocates often argue that we don’t need jobs in the fossil-fuels industry because solar and wind have become “engines for green and sustainable jobs.” As evidence, many groups have cited a report published by the U.S. Department of Energy that purportedly shows more people are working in the solar industry than in fossil-fuel power generation.

According to the report, 374,000 people are employed by the solar-generation industry, approximately 102,000 are employed by wind, and just 187,000 people are employed generating electricity from oil, coal, and natural gas. On its face, it seems as if wind and solar truly are the job creators and fossil fuels are dinosaurs awaiting extinction. That’s not the case.

It’s true the DOE report says approximately 374,000 people work in the solar-energy industry, but this number isn’t just full-time jobs. It includes part-time. Only about 260,000 spend at least half their time working in the solar industry.

Economists, to compare competing industries, typically estimate how many full-time equivalent jobs exist or are being created. Unfortunately, the study did not use this metric, and the report is missing citations for footnotes 32 and 33, which are supposed to support their claims about jobs in the solar industry.

Another interesting “alternative fact” about the jobs created by wind and solar power is that a large portion of these jobs are construction jobs, the same kinds of positions that were routinely denigrated by renewable-energy advocates during debates about the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines. In 2016, 36.7 percent of jobs in the solar industry and 37.2 percent of jobs in the wind industry were construction jobs.

All we can truly conclude from the report is solar creates part-time, temporary jobs that come at a massive expense to taxpayers and consumers.

Many renewable-energy advocates claim solar and wind are cost-competitive with fossil fuels, but the facts show otherwise. A study from the Brookings Institution found electricity generated from wind costs at least twice as much as coal or natural gas, and solar costs at least three times as much as conventional sources. The only reason the wind and solar industries are still in operation, or were even built up in the first place, is because they receive more subsidies than every other form of energy combined.

According to data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2013, wind received $5.9 billion in taxpayer handouts, mainly in the form of the Wind Production Tax Credit. Solar receives $5.3 billion annually, mostly from a 30 percent federal tax credit. Additional federal and state incentives for solar systems make buying these panels virtually free. These subsidies have continued to grow every year.

Even with all these subsidies, solar and wind provide just 0.4 and 1.8 percent of the United States’ total energy use, respectively. On the other hand, coal provides 18 percent of total energy use, natural gas provides 28 percent, and oil generates 35 percent of total energy consumption.

Wind and solar should be required to compete on a truly level playing field with other forms of energy, which would mean repealing the 30 percent federal tax credit for solar power and the other handouts keeping renewable energy afloat.



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   main.html 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


Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day Dopes

John Stossel
Expect more craziness this weekend. Earth Day is Saturday. This year’s theme: Government must “do more” about climate change because “consequences of inaction are too high to risk.”

They make it sound so simple:

1) Man causes global warming.

2) Warming is obviously harmful.

3) Government can stop it.

Each claim is dubious or wrong.

This weekend at a movie, I was surprised to be assaulted again by former Vice President Al Gore. In a preview, a puffy-looking Gore suddenly appeared, attacking Donald Trump and mocking critics of his previous movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” the deceitful documentary that spreads fear in classrooms today. Yes, teachers play it in class.

Now Gore claims “the most criticized” part of the film was his assertion that the 9/11 memorial site would flood. Then, during Hurricane Sandy, it did!

But Gore creatively misremembers his own movie. He had claimed the World Trade Center would flood because of a permanent 20-foot sea-level rise. Actual scientists called that nonsense. It would take hundreds of years for such a thing to possibly happen.

But since the area flooded, briefly, Gore spins that as confirmation of his exaggerations.

This preview was the first I learned that theaters will soon show a sequel to Gore’s film. Google tells us that “An Inconvenient Sequel” got a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. Trendy Hollywood is so dumb.

At least critics who’ve watched it gave it poor reviews.

Let’s go back to points 1, 2 and 3:

1) Man’s greenhouse gases contribute to warming, but scientists don’t agree on how much. Of 117 climate models from the 1990s, 114 overpredicted warming.

2) Warming is harmful. Maybe.

But so far it’s been good: Over the last century, climates warmed, but climate-related deaths dropped. Since 1933, they fell by 98 percent. Life expectancy doubled.

Much of that is thanks to prosperity created by free markets. But some is due to warming. Cold kills more people than heat.

Carbon dioxide is also good for crop growth. Even The New York Times admits, “Plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years.”

But what if Al Gore is right? Maybe our greenhouse gases will eventually cause Greenland’s icecaps to melt and flood our cities. Shouldn’t government act now? No.

3) Nothing we do today will stop global warming. The Obama regulations that Trump recently repealed, horrifying the Earth Day crowd, had a goal that amounted to a mere one percent reduction in global CO2. And that was just the goal.

Of course, some think any cut is better than nothing. But cuts are costly. They kill jobs, opportunity. All to accomplish… nothing the earth will notice.

If warming does become a problem, we’re better off if our economy is very strong when the science tells us clearly that action will make a difference.

We should be especially wary of expensive government projects given how often alarmists were wrong in the past.

As Cato’s Pat Michaels says, “I’ve lived through eight environmental apocalypses … overpopulation … resource depletion … Silent Spring … global cooling … acid rain … the ozone hole … global warming … the next one is going to be ocean acidification.”

In the ‘70s, environmentalist Paul Ehrlich won fame with his book “The Population Bomb.” Ehrlich predicted: “I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”


Ehrlich now admits: “When you predict the future, you get things wrong.” But he says there’s a grain of truth in his prediction, because: “If you look closely at England, what can I tell you? They’re having all kinds of problems.”

Give me a break.

Saturday’s Earth Day nonsense will include a “March for Science.” The media will hype it, claiming Trump’s proposed budget will poison the earth.

It won’t.

The alarmists claim they’re marching for “science,” but they’re really marching for a left-wing religion.

Instead of celebrating Earth Day Saturday, I’ll celebrate Human Achievement Hour. The think tank behind it, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says Human Achievement Hour pays tribute to “our basic human right to use energy to improve everyone’s quality of life.”

Some ways to celebrate:

—Use your phone or computer

—Drive a car

—Take a hot shower

Good idea! Let’s celebrate progress instead of attacking it.


Federal Ethanol Policies Make Prairies Go to Seed

The prairies of the American Midwest are a vanishing “species” of ecological habitat. Although many blame its demise on the rise of industrial civilization, some of the worst culprits are products of the modern state: ethanol subsidies and mandates. As Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II explains in an op-ed for Investor’s Business Daily, the prairie has fallen victim to massive cultivation of corn for ethanol, fueled by federal policies such as the renewable fuel standard, “a congressional mandate requiring refiners to mix renewable fuel (mostly corn-based ethanol) with U.S. gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil products.”

The renewable fuel mandate—and the federal subsidy to corn farmers—arose from two concerns: fear of fossil fuels and fear of energy scarcity. The latter arose during the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74—long before the shale revolution that has unlocked vast reserves of shale oil and natural gas. The former is a by-product of environmentalism, most recently of climate alarmism. Ironically, it has also taken a toll on the environment, including its destruction of prairieland for the sake of corn ethanol.

“Currently, roughly half of the entire U.S. corn crop—which topped more than 15 billion bushels last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture—winds up in biofuels,” Shughart writes. Partly as a result, the vanishing prairie now covers only about 5 percent of the land area it once inhabited. “The ethanol mandate has triggered an environmental disaster,” Shughart continues. “Kicking the ethanol habit should be as much of a no-brainer as buckling up before starting the car.”


Coal's Colossal Comeback
Buried in an otherwise-humdrum jobs report was the jaw-dropping pronouncement by the Department of Labor that mining jobs in America were up by 11,000 in March. Since the low point in October 2016, and following years of painful layoffs in the mining industry, the mining sector has added 35,000 jobs.

What a turnaround. Liberals have been saying that Donald Trump was lying to the American people when he said that he could bring coal jobs back. Well, so far, he has delivered on his promise.

There’s more good news for the coal industry. Earlier this month, Peabody Energy — America’s largest coal producer — moved out of bankruptcy, and its stock is actively trading again. Its market cap had sunk by almost 90 percent during Barack Obama’s years in office. Arch Coal is also out of bankruptcy.

It turns out that, after all, elections do have consequences. The Obama administration and its allies, such as the Sierra Club, tried to kill coal because of their obsession with global warming. Regime change in Washington has brought King Coal back to life.

Donald Trump pledged to coal miners in small towns across America that he would be a friend to American coal and fossil fuels. As promised, Trump has lifted the so-called Clean Power Plan regulations and several other EPA rules that were intentionally designed to shutter coal plants, which it accomplished with ruthless precision. Hillary Clinton had promised her green allies that she would finish off every last coal-mining job in America.

The coal miners weren’t too happy about this, and her arrogant disregard for a leading American industry that hires tens of thousands of union workers contributed to her losing almost all the coal states — many of which were once reliably Democratic.

America was built on cheap and abundant coal. Fossil fuels powered the U.S. into the industrial age and replaced windmills and wood burning, which were inefficient, as the primary sources of electricity. America currently has access to 500 years' worth of coal — far more than any other nation. Despite the last decade’s war on coal, the U.S. still derives about one-third of our power from coal, making it second only to natural gas.

Liberals have argued that coal could never make a comeback, because of cheap natural gas. Clearly, the shale gas revolution — with prices falling from $10 to $3 per million cubic feet — has hurt coal producers.

But economic necessity is the mother of invention, and coal companies, including Peabody, have figured out how to become far more efficient in production. What’s more, clean coal is here. Emissions of lead, sulfur, carbon monoxide and other air pollutants from coal plants have fallen by more than half, and in some cases 90 percent, in recent decades.

The climate-change industrial complex pontificates that the U.S. has to stop using coal to save the planet. But even if the U.S. cut our own coal production to zero, China and India are building hundreds of coal plants. By suspending American coal production we are merely transferring jobs out of the U.S.

Renewable energy is decades away from being a major energy source for the world. Until that happens, coal and natural gas will compete as low-priced, super-abundant, domestically produced energy sources for 21st-century America. Nuclear power will, I hope, continue to play an important role, too. Meanwhile, for all the talk of the growth in wind and solar industries, they still account for less than 10 percent of our energy. Almost 70 percent comes from natural gas and coal.

Coal isn’t dead in America. It is unleashed. As a Washington Times editorial put it very well recently, “The left gave up on the 100,000 coal workers in America more than a decade ago. Donald Trump has not.” Remember this the next time Elizabeth Warren or Nancy Pelosi lectures us about how much they care about the working class in America.


ALG Foundation releases ‘Shedding Light on Solar Electricity’

Americans for Limited Government Foundation released a report today entitled “Shedding Light on Solar Electricity.” The report covers a number of problems that the solar industry has been causing its customers. It also makes a number of recommendations to state legislators about how to protect consumers and improve transparency in the solar industry.

Americans for Limited Government Foundation Director of Research Richard McCarty, who authored the study, stated in the report’s conclusion: “Consumers have a right to know the facts before they decide to have solar panels installed on their homes. Too many times, unscrupulous solar industry employees have omitted these facts or, intentionally or unintentionally, misled potential customers. That is why state legislators should enact sensible laws that require solar companies to be open and transparent with their potential customers about the advantages and disadvantages of solar panels. Even after legislators address these problems, it will still be necessary for consumers to do their own research to ensure that solar panels are the right choice for them; but until consumer protection laws are strengthened, this research will be even more vital.”

The report covers some of the ways in which solar customers have been scammed as well as problems customers have experienced. For example, some solar customers have not received the government rebates they were due because they were stolen by their contractor. Others have paid deposits on solar panels that were never installed. Many customers have not seen the savings on their utility bills that they were promised. A number of customers who have signed solar leases have experienced problems with selling or refinancing their homes. Those leasing solar panels and trying to get a reverse mortgage have learned it is simply impossible. Of course, all too often, these customers were not told of these risks.

To reduce the number of these cases and improve consumer protection laws, the report includes a list of recommendations for state legislators to consider. This list includes requiring solar contractors to provide customers with a written contract; requiring contracts to include the amount of any monthly payments and what, if anything, could cause them to rise; requiring that any promised savings must be written into the contract; and requiring that contracts specify who is to receive any solar incentives.

It is hoped that this report will be of use to consumers considering having solar panels installed and to state legislators and regulators concerned with consumer protection.


Why This Scientist Won't Be Attending The 'Science March'

A much-discussed "Science March," which germinated on the social news site Reddit and then experienced a meteoric rise on all social media in the past two weeks, now has an official date: April 22nd. While a march to support science sounds like a good idea, given the agenda, this scientist will not be attending.

I wrote previously of my concern that the Science March would be hijacked by the kind of political partisanship it should instead be concerned about – and that has indeed come true. This fear was based on not-so-subtle hints provided by its Twitter feed, such as embracing "intersectionality" (a concept taught in classes on feminism) as a core principle. To its credit, the march's Twitter account has stopped dropping hints; now, it's openly stating what its agenda actually is:

If you're wondering what this has to do with science, you're certainly not alone. The answer, of course, is nothing. These issues are the primary concern of revisionist historians and social justice warriors, not empirically-minded scientists.

The group's updated website* sheds no new light on its cause. The front page is full of trite platitudes, such as: "We are scientists and science enthusiasts... Our diversity is our greatest strength." This screenshot is from the diversity page:

It's curious that a website that seeks to include everybody conspicuously left men, whites, and Christians off the diversity list. Similarly, the site's mission statement is odd:

The march supports publicly funded science. That's good, but what about privately funded science, where the majority of basic research and the overwhelming bulk of applied research, is done? Non-academic science makes up the vast majority of research in America. According to R&D Magazine, last year the U.S. spent $514 billion on research and development, 64% of which ($328 billion) came from industry. Why don't those scientists count? Despite an enigmatic commitment to "diversity," the march leaves out the majority of scientists. And the private sector is actually far more diverse in science than universities are.

Claiming to support evidence-based policies is nice, but it's ultimately hollow if it doesn't specify which policies. Surely, we could learn something about the real intention of the march if we knew who the organizers are. Alas, no transparency is to be found. For privacy reasons, the site won't tell us who they are:

In summary: The Science March has now selected a date. But we don't know what they're marching about, who the organizers are, or what scientific policies they support. The only consistent message of substance from the group so far is an insistence on diversity, albeit a version that doesn't include white men or scientists who don't get government funding.

Is it too soon to conclude that the organizers never really intended this march to be about science in the first place?



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   main.html 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


Thursday, April 20, 2017

For the first time in the recent past, human-caused climate change has rerouted an entire river (?)

That old apostle of Warmism, Chris Mooney, makes a muckle out of a mickle below. Glaciers advance and retreat all the time.  Where is the proof that this retreat is caused by global warming?  There is none.  It's all just the usual theory and modelling

A team of scientists have documented what they're describing as the first case of large-scale river reorganisation as a result of human-caused climate change.

They found that in mid-2016, the retreat of a very large glacier in Canada's Yukon territory led to the rerouting of its vast stream of meltwater from one river system to another - cutting down flow to the Yukon's largest lake, and channelling freshwater to the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, rather than to the Bering Sea.

The researchers dubbed the reorganisation an act of "rapid river piracy," saying that such events had often occurred in the Earth's geologic past, but never before, to their knowledge, as a sudden present-day event. They also called it "geologically instantaneous."

The process that would ordinarily take thousands of years - or more - happened in just a few months in 2016.

The scientists had been to the edge of the Kaskawulsh glacier in 2013. Then the Slims River was "swift, cold and deep" and flowing fast enough that it could be dangerous to wade through, lead study author Daniel Shugar of the University of Washington, said. They returned last year to find the river shallow and as still as a lake, while the Alsek, was deeper and flowing faster.

Most of the water gushing from the large glacier last year suddenly switched from one river to another.

That changed the Slims River from a three-metres deep, raging river to something so shallow that it barely was above a scientist's high top sneakers at midstream.

The river wasn't what we had seen a few years ago. It was a faded version of its former self," said Shugar of the Slims River, which lost much of its flow due to the glacial change. "It was barely flowing at all. Literally, every day, we could see the water level dropping, we could see sandbars popping out in the river."

The study was published in Nature Geoscience. Shugar conducted the study with researchers from six different Canadian and US universities.

The precipitating event for all of this happened in summer 2016, when meltwater from the retreating Kaskawulsh glacier burst through a channel of ice, suddenly draining a glacial lake that had fed Slims river and directing waters into a different river that ultimately heads south toward the Gulf of Alaska. Previously, these waters had ultimately fed into the vast Yukon river, which empties on Alaska's west coast.

The researchers found only a minuscule probability that the retreat of Kaskawulsh glacier - which retracted by nearly half a mile from 1956 to 2007 - could have occurred in what they called a "constant climate." They therefore inferred that the events in question could be attributed to human-caused climate change.

The beneficiary of the change, in hydrologic terms, is the Alsek River, known for its whitewater rafting. It saw far higher flows than normal as a consequence - and empties eventually into the Gulf of Alaska, which should now be seeing a new infusion of freshwater.

These events have occurred in a relatively sparsely populated wilderness area, and so will not have ramifications for large human populations - but they give a sense of just how dramatic and sudden climate-linked changes can be. Similarly, recently mountain glacier changes in the Bolivian Andes have created the risk of dangerous outburst floods that could imperil communities below them.

The current study represents "a great example of a threshold response to warming over the last century-and-a-half," said Ken Tape, an Arctic ecologist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who was not involved in the research. "The glacier has been retreating gradually, but at a threshold encountered in summer 2016, the drainage abruptly changed in a matter of weeks and completely reorganised downstream ecosystems."

Tape cautioned that "most glaciers, when they retreat, do not have downstream consequences as dramatic as in the case presented here. Flows increase or decrease commensurate with glacier mass balance, but rivers are not usually lost or gained in the process, and change is more gradual."

The Kaskawulsh glacier, at only 60 degrees north latitude, is in a relatively temperate region well below the Arctic circle, helping to make it particularly susceptible to climate change. The researchers provided measurements suggesting that just before the river reorganisation, the glacier was experiencing quite warm temperatures for the springtime, which seems to have triggered a large burst of meltwater.

Shugar said that the researchers do not expect the glacier and the river system that depends on it to flip back - rather, it has entered a new state.

"We did some preliminary estimates of what it would take for the Slims River to be reestablished," said Shugar, "and it seems unlikely to occur in the current climate."


White House Floats Excuses to Break Trump’s Promise to Cancel Paris Climate Treaty

This week, White House senior advisers will meet to discuss the future of U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Treaty. During campaign speeches, President Trump repeatedly promised the American public that if elected, he would cancel U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments to United Nations global warming programs. Since the agreement was signed in December 2015, CEI has made the constitutional, political, economic, and moral case for why the United States should withdraw from it.

The Paris Climate Treaty casts a long shadow on America’s energy producers and job creators as it keeps in place a framework for promoting a regulatory assault on affordable energy and supporting the EPA as the nation’s unlawful climate legislator.

Withdrawing the United States from this treaty would put a stop to Obama’s attempted end-run around the constitutional treaty process, and ensure that elections, not U.N.-organized, political pressure campaigns, determine the direction of U.S. domestic economic and energy policy. If President Trump fails to do this, domestic and foreign opponents of Trump’s energy policies and possibly activist courts can continue to invoke this “international commitment,” and any future U.S. administration will have free rein to pick up where Obama left off. ​

President Obama negotiated the Paris Climate Agreement to confer a treaty-like status on his domestic climate policies—often called the “war on coal” but effectively a war on affordable energy—without actually going through the treaty process, an acknowledgement that all parties knew would doom such a pact. The ultimate aim of the agreement is to make coal, oil, and natural gas increasingly uneconomical to produce, export, and consume. Remaining a party to the Agreement thus endangers the energy price edge underpinning the U.S. manufacturing renaissance President Trump seeks to launch.

Even when Democrats held the majority in Congress, President Obama knew any proposal to adopt new international climate commitments would be dead on arrival. To avoid the Senate’s constitutional role to “advise and consent” on treaties, Obama simply claimed the agreement was not a treaty. This end run around the constitutional treaty process is unlawful and reason enough to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Failure to reverse this move, as candidate Trump promised, will entrench a constitutionally damaging precedent, encouraging future executives to avoid constitutional review of unpopular treaties just by deeming them to be non-treaties.

Above and beyond the unconstitutional manner of its adoption, the Paris Climate Treaty is inherently toxic to American institutions of self-government. The agreement provides a framework for a global, political pressure machine to exist for decades. The agreement is designed to gin up diplomatic and political “blowback” not once—as would happen if Trump withdraws—but incessantly. The Agreement is designed to organize political protest and diplomatic pressure any time U.S. policymakers fail to keep Obama’s “commitments” to de-carbonize the U.S. economy, pony up billions in “climate aid” for developing countries, and make increasingly “ambitious” emission reduction promises every five years, in perpetuity.

Failure to withdraw also invites climate policy litigation, because joining the Paris Agreement tacitly affirms the preferred narrative that climate change is humanity’s greatest peril and “inaction” threatens millions of lives. A Dutch court in The Hague recently ruled that these so-called “non-binding” climate pacts are no such thing but instead affirm an obligation to impose regulations consistent with their assertions of responsibility to do so. It likely will not be the last to engage in such activism, from which we have no guarantee we are immune.

Three “arguments” have been reported in recent weeks as being preferred among White House and administration staff, none of which make any sense. Each argument represents no more than an effort to rationalize breaking President Trump's campaign promise and stay in the Paris Climate Treaty:

    Avoid “diplomatic blowback” – Except that the Paris agreement actually builds this in as its “naming and shaming” means of obtaining U.S. submission every five years.

    The Trump administration can just adjust our (first) promised emission reductions – This undermines the concurrent pro-Paris talking point that the United States can just ignore its promise because it's “voluntary.” The Paris agreement is no more or less enforceable or voluntary than the Kyoto treaty.

    Membership in the Paris treaty offers an opportunity to argue for more carbon capture and storage (CCS) funding – this suggests we should sign the death warrant for the U.S. treaty process in exchange for the prospect of seeking a new subsidy or special interest scheme.

None of these new rhetorical inventions is an argument. Each is instead a tacit admission that there is no argument in support of breaking this very explicit campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Treaty.


Exiting the Paris Climate Agreement: Scant evidence of expected benefit

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared on “Fox & Friends” April 13 and said, “Paris is something we really need to look at closely, because it’s something we need to exit, in my opinion.”

Why? “It’s a bad deal for America. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030, we front-loaded all of our costs, at the expense of jobs.”

That’s a good start. It should resonate well with Americans who use electricity at home or work and gas or diesel in their cars — i.e., pretty much all of us.

But if Mr. Pruitt wants to expand public support, he needs to make six other important points.

First, Bjorn Lomborg, accepting climate-change advocates’ assumptions about how much warming comes from carbon dioxide, showed in a peer-reviewed study that implementing all provisions of all signers to Paris would prevent only 0.306 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming by 2100.

What would it cost? Unofficial estimates by the United States, European Union, Mexico and China amount to $739-$757 billion per year.

Those parties account for about 80 percent of signatories’ emissions reduction pledges. Other pledges would have similar costs per unit, implying something in the range of $185-$189 billion.

All told, $924-$946 billion. Per year. Every year from 2030 to the end of the century. “And that’s if the politicians do everything right. If not, the real cost could double,” Mr. Lomborg said.

So, for $65-$132 trillion, we might — if the alarmists are right — reduce global average temperature by a third of one degree by 2100. That’s $212-$431 billion per thousandth of a degree of cooling.

Second, if carbon dioxide’s warming effect is smaller than alarmists allege, two things follow: First, there’s not as much warming ahead to fear. Second, the cooling effect of reduced emissions will be less than thought, and the cost per unit higher.

Empirical evidence is mounting that the climate models on which climate-change advocates rely overstate carbon dioxide’s warming effect.

As University of Alabama climatologist John Christy testified before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee March 29, the models call for warming of 0.389 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. But weather balloon measurements find only 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, satellite measurements 0.211 degrees Fahrenheit and re-analyses of data from major weather centers around the world 0.221 degrees Fahrenheit.

Observed warming is about one-half to three-fifths what the models predict.

It’s not just “climate skeptics” who see this. Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, in an article meant to refute “climate skeptics,” reported that global temperature has been rising at 0.072-0.144 degrees Fahrenheit per decade — one-fifth to one-third the modeled rate.

This implies two things: First, carbon-dioxide emissions will drive only one-fifth to three-fifths as much warming as the models predict. Second, implementing the Paris agreement will reduce global temperature in 2100 by only one-fifth to three-fifths what Mr. Lomborg calculated, or 0.061-0.184 degrees Fahrenheit.

That raises the cost per thousandth of a degree of warming prevented to $353 billion to $2.16 trillion.

That’s money that could instead be used to provide electricity, drinking water, food, sewage sanitation, infectious disease control, health care, improved housing, expanded industry and other services to help the world’s poor far more than an imperceptible reduction in global warming.

Third, other empirical studies give even more reason to think carbon dioxide’s warming effect is even smaller.

The calculations above assumed that all observed warming 1979-2016 was caused by rising carbon-dioxide concentration. But carbon dioxide is probably not the sole or even primary driver.

In a peer-reviewed research report last fall, “On the Existence of a ‘Tropical Hot Spot’ and the Validity of EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding,” Mr. Christy teamed up with meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo and econometrician James P. Wallace III to show that “there is no statistically valid proof that past increases in Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations have caused the officially reported rising” temperatures.

Their analysis showed that, after separating out the impacts of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, changes in solar activity, and the 1977 “Pacific Shift,” no additional warming trend occurred over the relevant period.

Consequently, no correlation remained between carbon dioxide (rapidly rising) and global temperature trends (flat except those driven by El Nino-Southern Oscillation).

Fourth, that study implies that the “Tropical Hot Spot” implied by computer climate models does not exist. Since that was crucial to EPA’s carbon dioxide “endangerment finding,” the finding was unjustified and should be reversed.

Fifth, whatever the risks from its tiny warming effect, adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere has positive effects.

Plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. On average, every doubling of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentration causes a 35 percent increase in plant growth efficiency.

Consequently, plants increase their ranges and make food more abundant. The world’s poor benefit most. One survey of hundreds of studies concluded that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide 1960-2012 added $3.2 trillion in crop yields and would add nearly $10 trillion more through 2050.

Sixth and finally, since the endangerment finding was wrong, the EPA should reverse it. There is no reason to call life-giving carbon dioxide a pollutant, and the Paris climate agreement really is “something we need to exit.”


Ignore the Critics: If Trump Withdraws from Paris Climate Agreement, He Will Demonstrate U.S. Leadership

Donald Trump made opposition to the Paris Agreement crystal clear during his Presidential campaign. Some supporters of the Paris Agreement are urging President Trump to break this promise.

Having other countries know that the U.S. President is resolute is valuable diplomatic currency.

In December, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. That signature did not come cheap. To satisfy its Paris commitments, the Obama Administration announced plans to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions anywhere from 26 to 28 per cent below what they were in 2005—plans that would steeply raise energy costs on American households and businesses and impede job growth.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, made opposition to the Paris Agreement crystal clear during his Presidential campaign: “We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.”

Now some supporters of the Paris Agreement are urging President Trump to break this promise. But they can’t really argue that the Agreement is an effective way to address climate change; MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change projects that, even if every country followed through with its promises, the Paris agreement would reduce warming by only 0.2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.

Instead, the argument is that honoring the Paris Agreement is all about U.S. leadership.  As Timmons Roberts and Caroline Jones wrote in a recent Brookings Institution paper : “To renege on our commitments … in support of the Paris Agreement would weaken America’s ability to muster enthusiastic support on important international policies we might care about.“

This is fantasy. Gratitude is a rare commodity in international affairs – just look at the vast majority of U.S. foreign assistance recipients. They routinely vote against the U.S. most of the time in the U.N.

Those arguing for the U.S. to remain in the Paris Agreement are less interested in bolstering U.S. leadership than in ensuring that they have means to criticize Trump when he fails to follow Obama’s other ineffectual climate policies.

Repudiating the Paris Agreement would be akin to ripping off a Band-Aid – a small pain in the form of anger from the U.N. and other governments committed to the agreement, but after that, nothing.

How do we know this? Because President George W. Bush lived through discarding the Paris Agreement’s predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The Clinton Administration signed the Protocol in 1998, despite unanimous Senate resistance. President Bush correctly concluded the Protocol would be ineffective in addressing the problem and impose heavy economic costs on the U.S economy, particularly to the manufacturing sector.

Despite strong pressure from the U.N. and European governments, Bush held firm by announcing that he would not ratify or implement the agreement.

What was the impact of Bush’s actions on American leadership role? Foreign governments criticized the decisions, but continued to cooperate and work with the U.S. More importantly, they learned that the U.S. was willing and able to resist diplomatic pressure in order to protect American interests.

Having other countries know that the U.S. President is resolute is valuable diplomatic currency, not recklessness.

There are broader U.S. constitutional and security interests to consider too. The Paris Agreement is a supplementary agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). President Obama misused the UNFCCC framework to avoid seeking Senate advice and consent for the Paris Agreement under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

Conservatives should insist that the President repudiate the Paris Agreement to correct that action alone.

But in addition, the Palestinian Authority is a party to the UNFCCC. As was the case when the Palestinians joined the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2011, this event should trigger a U.S. law prohibiting any future U.S. funding to the UNFCCC.

The Obama administration continued funding the UNFCCC based on the absurd argument that the UNFCCC is a treaty, not an international organization. In fact, the UNFCCC is a treaty-based international organization, just like UNESCO –and the United Nations.

So, in addition to the issues surrounding the Paris Agreement, if the Trump administration does not end funding for the UNFCCC in accordance to the law, it would signal to U.N. organizations that there will be no consequences if they grant membership to the Palestinians prior to a negotiated peace with Israel.

In fact, to prevent the accrual of financial arrears, it makes sense for the U.S. to withdraw from the UNFCCC, which would also lead to withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

U.S. presidents rarely face easy choices, but this one comes close.

Other governments will carp, but withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC would fulfill a campaign promise and send a welcome signal that, unlike the previous Administration, President Trump respects the treaty process outlined in the U.S. Constitution and will stand firmly with Israel.


POLL: Americans See Dems As The Party Of Global Warming And Abortion

Americans overwhelmingly point to the environment and abortion as two policies areas Democrats “do a better job” than Republicans, according to newly-released polling data.

“More say the Democratic Party could do a better job than the GOP when it comes to dealing with the environment (59% to 28%), abortion and contraception (53% to 33%), health care (54% to 35%) and education policy (52% to 36%)” than Republicans, according to Pew Research Center data.

Pew reported Democrats were also “favored over the GOP on foreign policy (49% to 36%), immigration (50% to 39%) and government spending (48% to 40%),” but none of these policy areas had nearly as wide a margin as environmental issues, like global warming, and abortion.

The Democratic advantage on environmental issues grew from plus 23 percent in December 2015 to plus 31 percent in April 2017.

One reason for this perception could be that Republicans are seen as the party of business and less government, which voters see as incompatible with environmental protection or fighting global warming.

Other recent polls suggest Americans are becoming more worried about global warming and air quality with President Donald Trump in control of regulatory agencies.

A recent Gallup poll found that half of American adults are “concerned believers” of global warming, while the other 50 percent of Americans are in the “mixed middle” or ‘cool skeptics” category when it comes the issue.

“That contrasts with most years from 2001 through 2016, when Gallup found the majority qualifying as Mixed Middle or Cool Skeptics on the issue,” Gallup found.

The percentage of “believers” shot up from 37 percent in 2015 to 47 percent in 2016, which rose again in 2017 to 50 percent. Climate scientists declared 2014, 2015 and 2016 the warmest years on record.

In regards to air quality, American attitudes are interesting given the air has gotten much cleaner in the last 15 years, according to Environmental Protection Agency data. Though messaging from liberal groups has gotten much more dire on the issue.

The Trump administration has made a conscious effort to paint economic growth and environmental protection as going hand in hand. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said in almost every public appearance there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between industry and environment.

“It’s been said that you can’t have your cake and eat it too, and I’ll tell you, whoever says that doesn’t know what you’re supposed to do with cake,” Pruitt told Pennsylvania coal miners Friday.



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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Climate Change Speech Donald Trump Should Give (?)

U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis is a Republican who has drunk the global warming Kool-Aid. Below he offers a rather clever imitation of a Trump speech in which he proposes that old chestnut, a carbon tax.  The only new wrinkle in it seems to be that he proposes to levy the tax on imports only.  A small detail he omits to mention is that only 15% of the U.S. GNP is imports so the  "bite" of the tax would be small. But governments love taxes so that's OK.  Any tax is better than none.

There is however in the speech not one word about evidence of global warming.  Inglis is arrogant enough to think that he doesn't need to prove his case. Since there IS no evidence of anthropogenic global warming his omission is unsurprising.  It is as totally political as anything coming from Democrats.  We are supposed to take the word of our "higher-ups" on important matters

Many Trump voters have rejected climate action because they’ve figured that it would grow a government that can’t be trusted. Donald Trump could show them a small government way to beat climate change. Here’s how he could say it at one of his rallies:

You know that I was joking when I tweeted that climate change is a hoax and a Chinese conspiracy. But it has some truth in it, right? I mean, look at it. American factories gone. China polluting like nobody’s business. They took our jobs, and they’re gushing pollution. Meanwhile, Obama wanted to regulate our industries more. Think of it! More! More regulation! Hillary would have done the same thing--even worse. They don’t get it. They just don’t get it.

Beating climate change means beating the people who are ruining the air. And that’s not us. It’s China. It’s India. Have you heard about their air. They can’t breathe. They’re dying. Literally. Dying.

We want clean air. Crystal clean air. The best air.

The losers said they were going to fix it—with regulations. How stupid is that? Regulate more? Industries—the few that we have left—pick up and move from here to there. They go there, and they’re allowed to pollute. Are you kidding me? We lose jobs, and it does nothing to clean up the air?

If we’re going to do this, we’ve got to make it work for America. AMERICA! Rex Tillerson has told me that he had the best people study this at ExxonMobil. They said the answer is a simple thing. Just calculate the damages that pollution causes, and then price that cost in to the products that pollute.  But don’t stop there. If you do that through a carbon tax—and that’s what Rex Tillerson’s folks told him was the best way—you’ve got to give that money back to the people. To the people! Not to the government! If we’re going to add the cost of pollution to products through a carbon tax, you’ve got to give all of that tax money back to the people. All of it. Every bit of it.

And here’s the best part. China is going to pay. No more of them getting away with taking our jobs and polluting our air. They’re gonna pay. They’re gonna pay at the border—the AMERICAN border. They’re gonna pay our carbon tax. China will take us to the World Trade Organization. They’ll say it violates the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade. GATT. Wrong. Wrong. My trade people tell me—and I’ve got the best trade people, believe me—my trade people tell me we’d beat them in the WTO. Imagine that: America winning again. Winning.  After we beat them in the WTO, China would have a choice to make. They could keep on paying our carbon tax on entry of their goods into the United States, or they could do their own carbon tax. Either way is fine with us. Either way. If they want to keep on paying our tax on entry, tell them to go right ahead. We’ve got a deficit, and we could use their money.  But they’re not suckers like the losers who’ve been running our government. No, they’d impose our tax—our tax—internal to China and remit to Beijing. Fine. That would mean that our companies wouldn’t pick up and move to China. There’d be no reason to move to China, because they’d be paying an American-set price on pollution here or there. And we’d have cleaner air. Beautiful air. The best air. And we’d have jobs. Companies wouldn’t be leaving us anymore. We wouldn’t have the disastrous Clean Power Plan driving them overseas. We’d be un-regulating, not regulating.

This would be the American solution. The AMERICAN solution. There would be no international agreements. No sucking up to the UN. No hopelessly complicated agreements. Just a bold move by the United States. We’ve got the market power to pull this off. We’re the only country—the only country—strong enough to beat climate change. All the rest are waiting for us to act. They had hoped that we would be played for the patsies again. No way. No way. This time it’s on our terms. We’re going to beat climate change our way—the AMERICAN way. We’re getting rid of the Clean Power Plan. It’s gone. It’s gone. It was a bad deal for America.  We’re getting rid of cap and trade. It’s gone. Gone. We’re going to simply price-in the cost of pollution to products. China is going to pay. And we’re going to win. America is going to beat climate change.

More diplomatically, it’s a revenue-neutral, border-adjustable carbon tax that’s GAAT–compliant. With negative externalities internalized worldwide, 7 billion customers would drive innovation. America would win. The whole world would win.


Trump Takes on the Obama "Climate Change" Agenda

The leftist mainstream media are outraged that President Donald Trump appears to be sticking to his campaign promise to "cancel" U.S. participation in the Paris climate accord. The headline in The Washington Post is "Trump's energy review blocks Group of Seven from consensus." Politico's headline is "Trump's climate demands roil U.S. allies." This follows Trump's recent actions to rescind the foundation of Barack Obama's climate change obsession.

Once again President Trump is being called a radical, when he is, in fact, restoring common sense to government policy. As Forbes reports, Trump's recent seven-page executive order "lays the groundwork for rescinding" Obama's Clean Power Plan, which is currently "suspended by the Supreme Court while a Washington appeals court considers its fate." While Obama was known for his executive overreach (he lost in the Supreme Court more than any other president, including a record number of unanimous defeats), Trump is scaling back government interference in the marketplace that had been justified in the name of battling climate change.

"And so what President Trump did was he instructed the EPA to begin the process, through the regulatory process, of undoing something that should have been done through the legislature but wasn't," argues Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner in a recent radio appearance. "This is the meta issue for the left," he added. "It gives them what they have been demanding in the name of so many things, in the name of saving the planet."

As Horner remarked in a 2010 Accuracy in Media Take AIM interview discussing his book, Power Grab: How Obama's Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America, climate change is "the latest vehicle to organize society."

"The left's objective never changes, that is to ‘organize society' in that creepy Orwellian rhetoric they've mastered," he said. The threat of climate change, thus, is used to rationalize central planning.

Far-left activist Michael Moore tweeted in response to Trump's executive order that "Historians in the near future will mark the day the extinction of human life on earth began, thanks 2 Donald Trump." The reception from The New York Times carries similar vitriol; an editorial describes Trump as "anti-science" and "strip[ping] America of its hard-won role as a global leader on climate issues." This position as global leader was, of course, earned by former President Obama. The editorial is titled, "President Trump Risks the Planet."

The media are overwhelmingly convinced of climate change's veracity-or at least they claim to be-often abandoning objectivity in their reporting in order to defend climate science. The Washington Post defended the Democrats' choice to testify before the House Science Committee last month, climatologist Michael Mann, as "clear and articulate but outnumbered by foes." In contrast, the Post reports that at the hearing "political theater upstaged almost all productive discussion of science."

The media have been complicit with radical climatologists such as Mann, calling anyone who opposes the climate change agenda a "skeptic," a "denier,"-or worse. And it has become popular to compare energy companies to big tobacco, or hype that each year was warmer than the last. This is shaky science, at best.

"The warming trend is over," said Horner in 2010. "It could resume, but it's turned to cooling and is predicted to be cooling for several decades now."

Horner's comments hold true today. As Marc Morano points out on his Climate Depot website, satellite data indicates that we are in a temperature pause. "The fact that there has been no warming for the last 18 years is a massive blow to the credibility of climate science," he writes. Other scientists point out that there is little statistical difference between the allegedly warmest years and other years: Morano quotes Dr. David Whitehouse as calling 2016 temperatures "statistically indistinguishable from 2015." Claims that we are experiencing the hottest years on record are blatantly bogus, and rely on statistically insignificant temperature changes.

Obama's own appointed undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy for the first two years of his administration, Steven E. Koonin, said that "The Obama administration relentlessly politicized science and it aggressively pushed a campaign about that politicized science." is an indispensable website that keeps track of all relevant global warming news, and provides both sides of the debate. One very useful service it provides is the names and quotes from environmentalists, including former "warmists"-global warming believers-such as physicist Freeman Dyson: "An Obama supporter who describes himself as ‘100 per cent Democrat,' Dyson says he is disappointed that the President ‘chose the wrong side.' Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere does more good than harm, he argues, and humanity doesn't face an existential crisis. Climate change, he tells us, ‘is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?'"

Then there is Nobel Prize Winning Physicist Dr. Ivar Giaever: "Global warming is a non-problem," he argues. "I say this to Obama: Excuse me, Mr. President, but you're wrong. Dead wrong." He says that "Global warming really has become a new religion," and that "We have to stop wasting huge, I mean huge amounts of money on global warming."

Even if the Trump administration kept Obama's commitments to climate change policy, such measures would have been unlikely to affect global temperatures. Yet the media lauded Obama as keeping the world safe from climate change.

"Addressing climate change has been a core goal for the president and netting the Paris climate deal is considered a critical part of his environmental policy legacy," reported NBC News and Reuters in 2016, in a piece titled, "Obama: Paris Climate Accord Best Possible Shot to ‘Save' Planet." This is nonsense. It was just another phony Obama legacy item to check off his list that in reality is far more about the U.S. and other developed nations transferring $100 billion per year to developing countries that make no binding commitments. In addition, it would transfer significant regulatory powers to the UN and other international bodies, none of which would amount to anything measurable or provable in terms of tweaking the global temperature to reach some desired environmental utopian goal.

According to Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), "The Paris agreement also created a United Nations climate slush fund, largely underwritten by American taxpayers. In his final year in office, President Obama contributed $500 million from the State Department to this fund on two separate occasions. He did it without authorization from Congress."

Also, adds Barrasso, "According to National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting, if the United States met all of its commitments as part of the Paris climate accord, it would cost the American economy $3 trillion and 6.5 million industrial sector jobs by 2040."

Obama designed his climate agenda in a way that touched each facet of the bureaucracy. "There is no single list of those programs or their cost, because President Barack Obama sought to integrate climate programs into everything the federal government did," writes Christopher Flavelle for Bloomberg. "The goal was to get all agencies to take climate into account, and also make those programs hard to disentangle, according to former members of the administration." Obama, Flavelle writes, tried to make "climate programs hard for Republicans in Congress to even find." To that end, an estimated $77 billion was spent from 2008 through 2013, spread over 18 federal agencies.

With this recent executive order, Trump is dismantling another of Obama's key legacy items, a policy that the media desire to protect from the new Republican president. As with Obamacare and the unsigned Iran deal, the test will be to see whether Trump continues Obama's disastrous policies or undercuts them. But you can expect that the media will fight every effort to roll back Obama's legacy.


The greed of green: PACE’s predatory lending on solar

By Peter Hong

Remember the raging predatory lending scandals that led to the mortgage crisis of the late 2000s? You couldn’t avoid reports of unscrupulous lenders and brokers exploiting the subprime market and offering adjustable rate mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them. As the housing bubble burst, the financial industry and the economy nearly went with it.

Facing an economic meltdown, Washington responded as it always does — in a frenzy.  The first decade of the new millennium ended with a taxpayer bailout (the ill-conceived Troubled Asset Recovery Program) and regulatory overreach (Dodd-Frank Act) — the consequences of which we are still paying today.

Good times.

Well, predatory lending is back. But this time, lenders aren’t just prowling for green; they’re wrapped in it under the fa├žade of environmental “do-goodism.”

This latest scam is the so-called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) lending industry, which provides financing for energy efficiency or renewable energy upgrades, like solar panels and window insulation. PACE loans are placed on a homeowner’s property tax bill as an assessment. Rather than make a monthly loan payment, borrowers typically pay the assessment on an annual or semi-annual basis; local governments then pass these payments on to the lenders.

Because the loans are based on the value of the assessed property, the borrower’s creditworthiness is of little interest to PACE lenders. Also, the industry uses as its brokers plumbers and repairmen who pitch financing schemes to customers as a means of soliciting contracts and earning referral fees on the side.

Like their predatory lending brethren of the past, these lenders and their contractor-brokers appear to prey on vulnerable and unsophisticated homeowners — particularly the elderly.

A report by Elder Law & Advocacy, which offers legal services to senior citizens in the San Diego area, cited numerous accounts of misleading tactics being used by PACE lending brokers and sales personnel. One case cited a 79-year old widower who was offered new energy-efficient, noise reduction windows at a 1.5 percent financing rate with no payoff penalty, only to receive poorly insulating, noise amplifying windows — at a 26.99 percent interest rate!  Another account documented an 82-year old man who was never told that he would lose his ability to refinance his home if he took on a PACE loan.  And the horror stories don’t end there.

Complicating matters is the entanglement of government at all levels to promote the PACE lending industry. Local governments in PACE communities effectively serve as the industry’s collections agency for the payment of assessments, which the government distributes to the lenders. Also, because PACE loans are technically property tax assessments, they generally get creditor priority status in case of non-payment or default.

Yes, you read that correctly: in case of default, a loan for residential solar panels gets paid first — even before a homeowner’s mortgage. Non-payment of a PACE loan can result in a home or property being seized as collateral and sold to repay the PACE lender.

In other words, you could lose your home, not because you defaulted on the mortgage you assumed to buy the house, but to pay off a loan for solar panels or attic insulation or LED lighting.

In 2016 — the final year of the Obama Administration — the federal government fully bought into the PACE industry’s lending “green scheme.” In coordination with the Obama strategy to promote green industries, the Federal Housing Administration announced that it would begin using tax dollars to insure mortgages with PACE financing liens attached (so long as those liens did not have super priority creditor status).

And the Obama-Clinton influence games did not end there. A Washington Free Beacon article detailed an undercover lobbying campaign launched by PACE lender Renew Financial — and aided by a deep-pocketed Democratic donor and liberal environmentalist groups — to allow mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to guarantee mortgages with PACE-financed loans. This would have reversed the policy of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates the government-sponsored enterprises.

While the FHFA did not appear to change its policy, the PACE lending industry did get a Presidential plug promoting this high-interest, private lending industry.

The meetings with President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and top campaign and government officials came to light through the hacked emails of former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta that were exposed by Wikileaks.

Finally, we are talking about big money.  While the PACE lending industry paints itself as warm, fuzzy, and green, it is projected to make off with nearly four billion dollars in 2017 alone — making it the fastest growing source of financing in the country. That business is booming should come as no surprise, given the industry’s political influence and the scant level of oversight it is paid by any level of government.

This will change on the federal level if Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has his way.  Cotton just introduced legislation (S. 838) requiring that PACE lenders be treated under federal law like traditional mortgage lenders — including oversight by a federal regulator, such as the much-feared Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to Cotton, “[R]equiring disclosure will reduce the advantage that PACE loan sharks have over hard-working Americans. It’s just the accountability we need.”

Measures like the Cotton bill are a sign that the Obama era of political favoritism toward “green” industries may finally be coming to a halt. And with good reason: it shouldn’t be easy being green — and greedy.


Victory in Vermont: Community Defenders Crush Wind Power Outfit’s Plan to Destroy Pristine Mountain Range

Thanks to the hard work of local people, everyday Vermonters who love the land and, in particular, Annette Smith and Justin Lindholm, two people who worked like hell, we have a huge parcel of prime property in which to “ramble,” a large chunk of land that, if those people “hypnotized” by profits had their way, the mountain tops of that wild land would forever be marked by the languid swoosh-swoosh-swoosh of 60 giant windmills.

Instead, the forested tract of land that totals about 2,870 acres has been designated by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources as a rare and irreplaceable natural area. Fortunately, it is connected to the Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area, about 770 acres, to bring the new, yet unnamed WMA to more than 3,640 acres.

In all, the land that makes up the new WMA encompasses three Rutland County towns — Ira, Poultney and Castleton.

Smith, the executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, said that, in order to preserve the values and purposes of the wildlife management area, no residential, commercial, industrial or mining activities will ever be permitted. “This is a valuable gem of a property to be held for the public in perpetuity,” Smith said.

Smith said that after the VCE worked with community members to save the land from development, it was conserved through the efforts of the Conservation Fund (Nancy Bell) and Vermont Fish & Wildlife (commissioners Patrick Berry and Louis Porter), along with donations from individuals and the federal Pittman-Roberson Act fund. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Land Trust are also participants in the purchase of the land.

So, what is the moral to this tale, this story about how people stood up to preserve what Lindholm, a Mendon resident who serves on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board, has described as a precious tract of land that is both “fragile and wild?”

Paraphrasing a quote from Margaret Mead, Smith said in an interview, “Never underestimate the impact one person can have. One person can make a difference.” She went on to say, “The one thing that Vermonters have in common is they love their mountains.”

She was so instrumental in preventing a series of ridgelines in Rutland Country from becoming littered with windmills that the Burlington Free Press, in January of this year, named Smith its “2016 Vermonter of the Year.”

The newspaper’s editorial board wrote: “As executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, the Danby resident has organized communities, testified before government boards and advised residents who felt powerless in the face of state bureaucracies and big business … A common thread among those who have sought out Smith is that she helps better the odds against a wealthier, more knowledgeable and better funded adversary.”

Lindholm and Smith teamed up early on because both of them had been involved in the proposed large-scale wind turbine project in Lowell. Today, 21 wind turbines, each 459-feet tall, have sprouted from the ridgeline of the Lowell Mountains.

“We learned from Lowell,” Smith said According to Lindholm, Smith does her homework and then goes after a cause with a fierce determination.

“When they wanted to put up those wind turbines, she gave them a voice,” Lindholm said of the landowners and property owners in Ira, Middletown Springs, Poultney, Castleton, Tinmouth, Clarendon and West Rutland who were affected by the wind turbine proposals. “She gives them a voice in the process, the whole process of figuring out whether they ought to be there. She finds weaknesses in the opposition. She becomes informative. Information is power, and that’s what she specializes in. She organizes. She organizes the town, informing the people. She puts everything on the table so that informed decisions can be made.”


Australia: Leftist leader's stance on new coalmine doesn’t stack up

Just because you’re spending other people’s money doesn’t ­excuse you from making choices.

Should the government lend $900 million to help lay 189km of heavy rail track in central Queensland capable of transporting 60 million tonnes of premium thermal coal a year?

Or would it be better to splash out on a 12km tram line to convey beret-clad Canberrans between coffee shops on Northbourne ­Avenue?

The carbon fearmongerers are implacably opposed to the first ­option but are crazy about the Gungahlin tram, a green vanity project adopted by the ACT Labor government that will fleece an ­estimated $937m from taxpayers during its lifetime.

It is the type of project that ticks all the boxes for the modern Labor Party, satisfying the romantic yearnings of its progressive base and the anti-competitive tendencies of its union sponsors. Construction work on Capital Metro is effectively a Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union closed shop — inflated pay packets, fanciful allowances and abundant rostered days off.

Fixed point-to-point transport projects are unlikely to “stack up”, as Bill Shorten would put it, in a city with a population 12 times smaller than Melbourne and one of the highest car ownership rates in the country.

Even on the most optimistic ­assumptions the line is expected to generate less than $340,000 a month in revenue across its first 20 years, meaning that for every dollar a passenger pays, the taxpayer will be throwing in a tenner.

If there were a prize for egregious public investment, the Gungahlin tram, cruising at a stately 29km/h across broad acres of Canberra’s median strips, would be hard to beat.

Enter Shorten, the leader of what was once called the workers’ party, who raves about public transport but is unsure if the business case for the Adani Carmichael line “stacks up”. “I am not convinced the taxpayer of Australia should underwrite the risk of the project through a billion-­dollar loan,” he told reporters in Brisbane last week.

Shorten’s decision to align himself with the fanciful claims of the fruitcake fringe and against the interests of private industry is a seminal moment for the ALP.

Labor’s ideological journey from a socialist party that merely wanted to take over the means of production to a deep green party that wants to close down the whole lot is complete.

Construction of the Carmichael mine would boost sluggish ­regional economies from Gladstone to Townsville, lifting wages and employment. A concessional government loan for the rail link would mean that up to five more mines might follow.

Yet Shorten is content to let the green reactionaries triumph and leave the Galilee Basin coal ­reserves untouched. The interests of the workers are sacrificed for environmental populism.

Labor’s flirtation with the green movement began in the early 1980s when Bob Hawke ­decided to stand with Bob Brown in opposing the Franklin Dam. It was a popular move on the mainland, where Hawke won the 1983 election with a 4 per cent swing. There was a 4 per cent swing against Labor in Tasmania, however, where the dam meant pro­gress and jobs.

Hawke’s finance minister, Peter Walsh, warned that no good would come from trying to satisfy the insatiable demands of ecological activists. Labor, he wrote in his memoir, had knowingly put Tasmanian blue-collar workers out of work “to appease the bourgeois left and middle-class trendoids in the gentrified suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne”.

What Walsh and others did not predict was that the workers would eventually be squeezed out by the middle-class trendoids, just as they were squeezed out from the workers’ cottages in inner-Sydney Chippendale.

Nor could anyone have foreseen in 1983 that the kayak-paddling nature lovers blockading the Franklin would spawn a protest industry with a nine-figure turnover, or that demonisation of dams would be eclipsed by the ­demonisation of coal, a combustible sedimentary rock that gave us modernity.

By the mid-1980s, the green movement, radicalised by its own success, was congratulating itself on locking away every hectare of untamed wilderness and was looking for new targets for its righteous anger.

The marginal, drought-prone pastures of the Galilee Basin ­became a cause worth fighting for once the Greens had succeeded in portraying coal as public enemy No 1.

The anti-coal campaigners met their match in Gautam Adani, a university dropout from India’s Gujarat state who set up his own diamond brokerage at 20 and traded his way to become a multi-billionaire.

The Adani Group’s stubborn refusal to let green spoiling tactics stop its plan to open Australia’s largest coalmine makes its tenacious chairman a true Aussie hero.

There is far more at stake in this fight than the fate of one coalmine, just as more rested on the Franklin campaign than the ­future of one dam. It is a test of strength between ideology and pragmatism, a choice between deep-green dogma and progress.

If the environmentalists were to win this fight it would put an ­effective moratorium on the ­expansion of coal for the next 30 years, just as Franklin put a stop to large-scale water storage.

By ­refusing to offer material support to the project, Shorten, on behalf of Labor, has effectively thrown in the towel. He presumes to know better than private sector ­investors prepared to risk billions of dollars of their own capital in the project by declaring that the project doesn’t stack up.

He is prepared to fight Malcolm Turnbull over the allocation of money from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility, controlled by an independent board charged with offering concessional loans to projects that pass a public interest test on which they can reasonably expect a return.

In his 2016 book, For the Common Good, Shorten dismissed the future of thermal coal and instead declared his ambition to make Australia a “clean energy superpower”. The growth in mining ­exports is fading, he declared. ­Renewable energy is “the biggest business opportunity in the history of business”, and Labor, in time, will be shown to be “on the right the side of history”.

Now that Shorten has revealed his intention to put the kybosh on Adani, the portent of his extravagant rhetoric is a little less opaque.



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