Thursday, May 24, 2018

Groundbreaking assessment of all life on Earth reveals humanity’s surprisingly tiny part in it as well as our disproportionate impact

This is a very silly article, replete with implicit but unargued assumptions  -- such as the implicit claim that "we" are in some way responsible to make good -- or at least apologize for -- all the damage that all humans throughout history have ever done.

From Trilobites to the dinosaurs, extinctions are what nature does.  Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. And, of all the extinctions that ever happened, most by far happened long before human beings were on the scene. Humans were NOT reponsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, for instance.

And even in the human era, modern sensitivities were virtually unknown.  The megafauna of Australia were extinguished by Australian Aborigines, for instance.  I feel no guilt over that. Primitive people are often hard on the environment (pace the fictional Chief Seattle) but how am I responsible for that? It's a basic principle of natural justice that I am not to blame for the deeds of others.

Nonetheless, I am enough of a modern man to feel some regret about some recent extinctions (passenger pigeons anyone?).  But should I?  That leads us into very rarefied areas of moral philosophy that are not all congenial.  Peter Singer, for instance, is an eminence in that field and his cogitations lead him to some very objectionable conclusions, like the permissibility of infanticide.

So feeling that recent extinctions are bad is just that: feelings. A more intellectual justification for concern awaits.  Excerpts only below:

Humankind is revealed as simultaneously insignificant and utterly dominant in the grand scheme of life on Earth by a groundbreaking new assessment of all life on the planet.

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

The transformation of the planet by human activity has led scientists to the brink of declaring a new geological era – the Anthropocene. One suggested marker for this change are the bones of the domestic chicken, now ubiquitous across the globe.

The new work reveals that farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are human and just 4% are wild animals.

The destruction of wild habitat for farming, logging and development has resulted in the start of what many scientists consider the sixth mass extinction of life to occur in the Earth’s four billion year history. About half the Earth’s animals are thought to have been lost in the last 50 years.

But comparison of the new estimates with those for the time before humans became farmers and the industrial revolution began reveal the full extent of the huge decline. Just one-sixth of wild mammals, from mice to elephants, remain, surprising even the scientists. In the oceans, three centuries of whaling has left just a fifth of marine mammals in the oceans.

The researchers calculated the biomass estimates using data from hundreds of studies, which often used modern techniques, such as satellite remote sensing that can scan great areas, and gene sequencing that can unravel the myriad organisms in the microscopic world.

The researchers acknowledge that substantial uncertainties remain in particular estimates, especially for bacteria deep underground, but say the work presents a useful overview.


Ordinary British motorists face being priced out of driving if the Government goes ahead with proposals demanding that by 2040 every car can cover 50 miles on electric power.

The warning came from Toyota to the business select committee as it heard from car chiefs about the future of electric vehicles.

A leaked government consultation called “Road to Zero” proposes the 50-mile zero emission requirement for cars in 22 years’ time.

However, Toyota Motor Europe managing director Tony Walker warned such a measure could put driving beyond the budgets of most people, saying that batteries capable of hitting the 50-mile requirement are too expensive.

“The point is that every car, from the biggest to smallest, whether it costs £10,000 or £250,000, for every car to be able to do 50 miles [on electricity] is not wise, it is reckless,” Mr Walker. “It will price the ordinary customer out of the market.”

Toyota introduced hybrid cars to the mass market with its Prius. However, Mr Walker said the company’s current hybrids are not capable of doing 50 miles on the batteries currently used, and could be wiped out by the proposal.

To meet the target he said a more expensive battery used in plug-in hybrid cars would be required - and the economics do not stack up.

“It would make the hybrid vehicles we make in the UK currently unsaleable in the UK,” he said, adding that it would be “very difficult” to keep building cars and engines in Britain if government policy had made them impossible to sell here.

Mr Walker also questioned the government arbitrarily picking dates for targets the industry must achieve.

“Are you are saying somehow you know battery costs will come down?” he asked the committee. “How come you know that and we don’t? It’s too academic and not so practical on battery cost.”

Professor David Bailey, a car industry expert at Aston University, warned that the 50-mile requirement could kill off hybrids. “Electric cars are still expensive and will remain so for at least the next 10 years, when they will start to compete with petrol and diesel,” he said. “If Government is serious about improving air quality it needs to get drivers into hybrid cars as an interim measure rather than kill them off early.”

MP on the committee were told a “technology neutral” approach should be implemented, where Government sets targets to improve air quality for the car industry to achieve and lets them find ways to achieve it, without proscribing how they should do it.

The approach was backed by BMW, with Ian Robertson, the company’s UK representative, warning consumers are “sitting in the sidelines”, with many of them afraid to buy an electric car because of uncertainty about it.

He pointed to research saying that 90pc of drivers do short trips which are easily manageable on current electric technology.  Mr Robertson called the 50-mile zero emission target for 2040 “probably achievable” for a majority of drivers.

However, he added: “But it’s against a backdrop of some customers who need to do a 500-mile drive.

“Rather than take certain technology step that says we will have no combustion engines, let’s go for the target which we all agree on which is having a very low emission target and for majority of customer a zero emission target.”

Nissan, which builds the electric Leaf car at its giant Sunderland plant, said that the biggest challenge to battery vehicles was infrastructure. Gareth Dunsmore, the company’s electric vehicles director, said there was a “chicken and egg situation” with electric cars at the moment with people worried about whether they will be able to charge them.

However, with a comprehensive recharging infrastructure he said the 2040 target would be achievable. “If you get to wherever you park and there’s charging points the discussion about whether it is a challenge to move to electrification might be a moot point,” Mr Dunsmore said. “Customer demand could take over.”

The Government said it was “categorically untrue” it plans to ban vehicles incapable of meeting the 50-mile zero-emission target, saying the Road to Zero strategy was “yet to be finalised” and that it “would not comment on leaked draft documents”.


Yes, a Drop in Global Temperatures, But...

A recent editorial from a typically reputable conservative publication touted a sharp global temperature drop between February 2016 and February 2018. There's no disputing the fact that records indicate a temperature drop on a global scale during that time. However, the editorial — the purpose of which was to lambast the nefarious mainstream media for purposefully ignoring this inconvenient fact — did not explain fully what is actually happening. Here's why:

Global temperature drops are typical after El Niños, which naturally warm the globe. La Niñas do the opposite. Moreover, the last El Niño (2015-16) was exceptionally strong — a.k.a. a Super Niño. Therefore, it only makes sense that a significant global temperature drop would follow, as we've just registered back-to-back La Niña years. That being the case, the fact of the matter remains that global temperatures remain above normal two years after the last El Niño and above where they were two years after other El Niños. A higher threshold is seemingly being established following each Super Niño. Before 2015-16, the last one occurred in 1997-98. A pause ensued, but that baseline was higher than the average temperature over the previous 20 years. This doesn't prove ecofascists' rationale (not to mention justify their "solutions") for global warming, but it also doesn't do conservatives any favors to borrow from the Left's playbook by cherry-picking statistics simply for the benefit of aiding a narrative.

The cause may have to do with the immense amounts of water vapor that are released during Super Niños. These events result in a longer-lasting effect in Arctic regions years later, as tiny amounts of water vapor most affect temperatures where they are climatologically lowest and the air is driest. A glance at temperatures where most life occurs reveals that temperatures have returned to near normal, but the warmer polar regions are leading to the above-normal global temperatures, primarily during the coldest times of the year. It's still very cold, but even slight warming there can skew the entire global temperature a few tenths of a degree higher. Regardless, global temperatures are still higher than they were after previous El Niños.

To its credit, the editorial in question does note that the latest temperature drop could be entirely meaningless. However, a little basic research would have precluded the editorial altogether. As meteorologist Joe Bastardi said in an email to The Patriot Post, "This is like saying you scored a couple of touchdowns and instead of being down 56-0 you are now losing only 56-14." He added, "The point is that until temperatures return to or below normal, what is all the hoopla about? The other side can rightly point to a two-year post-El Niño record high." The mainstream media should be criticized for how it handles reporting global warming. Conservative media should avoid falling into the same trap.


Now's the Time to Restore Integrity to EPA Regulatory Science

For decades the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has gotten away with creating regulations that lack sound scientific basis, costing Americans hundreds of billions of dollars without solid evidence that those costs were justified.

It’s done this in two ways.

Sometimes it’s simply thrown out scientific results and regulated to satisfy a political pressure group. That was largely the case when in 1972, contrary to its own scientific findings but under heavy pressure from environmentalists, it banned the use of DDT, the most effective, least expensive, safe pesticide by which to control or eradicate disease-carrying insects like mosquitos and lice.

The U.S. had already largely eliminated malaria by widespread spraying of DDT from the 1940s into the 1960s, so the ban didn’t have immediate, large-scale negative consequences here. But it has made it more difficult to combat the recent spread of other insect-borne diseases like West Nile Virus, Zika, Lyme, and spotted fever, and even malaria is making a comeback.

The greater impact of the DDT ban has been in developing countries. The EPA persuaded other federal agencies to withhold foreign aid from countries that used DDT. Most developing countries complied. The result has been hundreds of millions of cases of malaria every year and tens of millions of malaria-caused deaths over the last 45 years.

At other times the EPA has built new regulations on “secret science” — studies whose authors refuse to grant other scientists access to the data, computer code, and methodology behind them. Such studies are not subject to replication by other scientists. Yet replication is the acid test of scientific research.

“Secret science” has been especially common as the basis for pollution regulation dependent on dose/response relationships and for regulation related to anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Last month EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt requested public comment on a new rule, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” (STRS), designed to solve that problem.

STRS provides that “When promulgating significant regulatory actions, the Agency shall ensure that dose response data and models underlying pivotal regulatory science are publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation.” It codifies what was intended in the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 and the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017 (HONEST Act), both of which passed the House but never came up for a vote in the Senate.

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation — a network of scientists, economists, and religious leaders dedicated to environmental stewardship and economic development for the poor — has issued and is gathering signatures to an open letter supporting the STRS that calls the proposed rule “badly needed to assure American taxpayers that the EPA is truly acting in their best interests.”

Opponents of STRS raise three common, and at first sight credible, objections.

The first is that peer review ensures the quality of studies published in refereed journals. But there is actually no empirical evidence that peer review works well. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and intellectual father of the international congresses of peer review held quadrennially starting in 1989, has said, “If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed on the market.” In fact, as John P.A. Ioannidis demonstrated in a celebrated article in PLOS/Medicine, “most scientific research findings are false.”

The second common objection is that the rule would prevent the EPA from using studies that involved confidential information, such as personal health data or corporate proprietary information. In an open letter to Pruitt, the leftist, political-activist Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) argued, “There are multiple valid reasons why requiring the release of all data does not improve scientific integrity and could actually compromise research, including intellectual property, proprietary, and privacy concerns.”

Yet Section 30.5 of the rule expressly states: “Where the Agency is making data or models publicly available, it shall do so in a fashion that is consistent with law, protects privacy, confidentiality, confidential business information, and is sensitive to national and homeland security.” Section 30.9 allows the administrator to make exceptions when compliance isn’t feasible.

A third common objection, also expressed in the UCS letter, is that “many public health studies cannot be replicated, as doing so would require intentionally and unethically exposing people and the environment to harmful contaminants or recreating one-time events (such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill).” But what need to be replicable in studies of such events are not the events themselves but the procedures used to collect and analyze data and make inferences from them.

Consider, for example, a study that used tree rings as proxy temperature measurements and purported to find that neither the Medieval Warm Period nor the Little Ice Age had occurred but that a rapid and historically unprecedented warming had begun in the late 19th century. The study became iconic for claims of dangerous AGW driven by human emissions of carbon dioxide.

No one needed to use a time machine to return to the 11th through 20th centuries and regrow trees to recognize that the authors had committed confirmation fallacy by excluding certain data and misused a statistical procedure, resulting in false results. All anyone needed was access to the raw data and the computer code used to analyze it.

Yet the lead author’s long refusal to allow access to raw data and computer code delayed discovery of these errors for years, during which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the public, and governments all over the world were led to believe its claims and formulate expensive policies based partly on them.

The UCS letter asserted that concerns about transparency and certainty raised by supporters of the rule “are phony issues that weaponize ‘transparency’ to facilitate political interference in science-based decision making, rather than genuinely address either.” But the irreproducibility crisis is real, not phony. Furthermore, enhanced transparency works against politicization, not for it. This objection is so patently invalid as to suggest that those who offer it are themselves weaponizing confidentiality to facilitate their own political interference in science-based decision making.

STRS will improve, not harm, the EPA’s mission to protect Americans from real environmental risks. It will also reduce the risks caused by unjustified but costly regulations. It should be adopted.

Via email from E. Calvin Beisner

Seventh Largest River Still Covered In Thick Ice. Blame Your SUV

News from Siberia

By this time of year, boats are usually plying the ice-free Ob, but in 2018, while the winter covering the river has begun to move like a giant monster – but it has not cleared.

Far from it. Here the thick ice is slowly drifting downstream in a northerly direction towards the Arctic yet with temperatures still of an unseasonal -5C, this could go on a while.

As our remarkable videos show, this is an awesome and eerie sight, magnetic to those lucky enough to be in the vicinity.

In Surgut, people come here before work just to glimpse the natural wonder and listen to the gentle creaking and cracking of the shifting ice. Then they come back again after work.

‘Sometimes it sounds like a rustle,’ said Anya, an enthusiastic Ob-watcher. ‘Then you hear a rumble as the ice breaks. Often it is a calm silence.’

At one moment this week, ice from the Ob literally broke out of the river from the sheer force of this natural annual pilgrimage to the direction of the end of the world (the Ob flows up the eastern coast of Yamal, a gas-rich peninsula the name of which literally means the ‘end of the world’).

It smashed the railings in Surgut with its phenomenal power. It was as if a column of ice was making an escape bid from the mighty Ob, intent on invading this famous oil city. Or as a local newspaper put it: ‘If you fail to go and watch the Ob River, the Ob will come to you!’

Not all cities on Siberia’s major rivers are so lucky with such sights. Upstream on the Ob, Novosibirsk  – the largest metropolis in Russia between Moscow and the Pacific – does not get such spectacular scenes because of a dam which tempers the water so that, although it freezes, the ice is not as thick as elsewhere.

Similarly, in Krasnoyarsk, the impact of a hydro-electric plant and huge dam on the Yenisei River – the world’s fifth longest including its tributaries – acts to take the chill out of the water. So much so it doesn’t even freeze.

The ice is closely monitored by the authorities because if it gets trapped and clogs the rivers as the melt starts and floes move downstream, a frozen dam is formed. Then flooding hits riverside settlements.

Explosives are regularly used to avoid such circumstances, but as we have seen this week on the Lena River – the planet’s 11th longest – even 17 tons of TNT is not enough.

For now, though, the folks of Surgut astride the Ob are the lucky ones.

As Eldar Zagirov, a business coach, marveled: ‘We’re in the age of new technologies – super-fast internet, Instagram, and much more. ‘And yet the inhabitants of Surgut … every day after work are rushing to the embankment, families with kids, couples, just not to miss the great ice drift. ‘It’s like the first inhabitants of these places for many centuries ago.

‘And there is something here. Something primordial, real, strong and sincere …’




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


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Media laments Trump/North Korea summit ‘could have a negative effect on global warming’ – Would increase coal exports

Sounds like they fear global warming more than nuclear war.  What monomaniacs!

The May 21, 2018 article in E&E News by Jean Chemnick, reports:

“The anticipated meeting between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un could put the former real estate tycoon eye to eye with a reviled autocrat who appears more in line with global thinking on one issue: climate change. North Korea is a party to the Paris Agreement, the 2015 pact that Trump plans to withdraw the United States from despite an uproar from allies around the world.

That’s because if sanctions against North Korea are lifted, the hermit nation’s coal could flow onto the world market, with the bulk of it ending up in South Korea, Japan and China.

The E&E article notes that North Korea is making very impressive commitments to reduce it’s CO2 emissions and featured Kim hurling insults at Trump for not staying in the UN Paris agreement:

E&E News: North Korea — whose carbon emissions rank in the bottom half of nations worldwide — put forward a hefty commitment to cut its greenhouse gases 37.4 percent compared with 1990 levels. And as Trump was pulling the United States out of the agreement last June, Kim described Trump’s decision as “the height of egotism.’

Of course, it is not surprising that Kim supports the UN Paris agreement which purports to control the climate of the earth.  Kim believes he can control the weather:

According to North Korea’s state media, Kim Jong Un controlled the weather when he scaled a sacred mountain…The state media claimed that it was snowing because the mountain wanted to give a “warm welcome” to Kim Jong Un. According to the report, Mount Paektu wanted to “show joy at the appearance of the peerlessly illustrious commander who controls the nature.”


Tom Steyer Spends $2 Million To Force Expensive Green Energy On Mich. Power Customers

Michigan residents will likely be paying more for their electricity after a well-funded ballot initiative prompted the state’s largest utilities to adopt higher renewable energy usage.

On Friday, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy — Michigan’s two biggest utility companies — announced a compromise with a ballot committee to dramatically increase their renewable portfolio standards.

DTE and Consumers have agreed to establish a goal of at least 50 percent clean energy by 2030, which includes a pledge that 25 percent of their electricity sales originate from renewable sources by that same year.

In return, Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan will essentially drop its campaign to require at least 30 percent of a provider’s electricity sales come from renewable energy by 2030.

The agreement raises the bar for electricity providers in Michigan. Under the state’s current mandate, utilities were expected to reach 15 percent renewable energy by the end of 2021.

Environmentalists launched Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan in February to collect enough signatures to bring the ballot initiative to voters. The group was prepared to submit over 350,000 signatures it had collected over the past few months.

Assuming enough petitions were valid, the measure would have gone to Michigan Legislature then the November ballot if lawmakers did not act.

Under pressure, DTE and Consumers agreed to the slightly more flexible mandate of 25 percent.

The compromise comes as a major win for billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. NextGen Climate Action, an organization he funds and operates, burned over $1.8 million in direct and in-kind contributions into the initiative.

“The agreement between Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan and DTE Energy and Consumers Energy is a win for the people of Michigan,” Steyer said in a statement Friday. “Every American deserves the right to clean air and water. With this agreement, Michigan has become a national example of how consumers, public interest advocates, and energy companies can work together to find real solutions to combat climate change.”

Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan is led by John Freeman, a former Democratic state legislator and union organizer who has led other progressive initiates in the past — such as leading a failed attempt in 2008 to put a universal health care proposal on the Michigan ballot. Freeman will continue to push renewables in the state, he said.

However, the sweeping agreement is being set without input from Michigan lawmakers, the Michigan Public Service Commission or even Michigan voters, critics argue.

“It’s disconcerting that Michigan’s monopoly utilities have become so confident in their ability to independently establish energy policy for the state that they don’t appear to have sought approval for this groundbreaking agreement from the Michigan Public Service Commission before going public with it,” Jason Hayes said in a statement to Detroit News.

Hayes serves as director of environmental policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, a free market group. “I am left wondering: who granted Steyer, [Consumers] and [DTE] the authority to single-handedly set Michigan’s energy policy in this fashion, especially when the people of Michigan are the ones who will have to foot the bill for all of this?”

Over 62 percent of voters in the state already rejected a 25 percent renewable standard ballot proposal back in 2012, Hayes also noted.

Beyond spending his fortune on climate change initiatives all across the country, Steyer is also leading a campaign to impeach President Donald Trump.

His Need to Impeach campaign aims to elect enough Democrats in 2018’s midterms in order to flip the House of Representatives and begin impeachment proceedings.


Someone in Asia (guess who!) is making a banned chemical that destroys the ozone layer, scientists suspect

Emissions of a banned, ozone-depleting chemical are on the rise, a group of scientists reported Wednesday, suggesting someone may be secretly manufacturing the pollutant in violation of an international accord.

Emissions of CFC-11 have climbed 25 per cent since 2012, despite the chemical being part of a group of ozone pollutants that were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

“I’ve been making these measurements for more than 30 years and this is the most surprising thing I’ve seen,” said Stephen Montzka, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who led the work. “I was astounded by it really.”

It’s a distressing result for what’s widely seen as a global environmental success story, in which nations – alarmed by a growing “ozone hole” – collectively took action to phase out chlorofluorocarbons.

The finding seems likely to prompt an international investigation into the mysterious source.

Officially, production of CFC-11 is supposed to be at or near zero – at least, that is what countries have been telling the United Nations body that monitors and enforces the Protocol. But with emissions on the rise, scientists suspect someone is making the chemical in defiance of the ban.

“Somebody’s cheating,” said Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and an expert on the Montreal Protocol, in a comment on the new research. “There’s some slight possibility there’s an unintentional release, but . . . they make it clear there’s strong evidence this is actually being produced.”

But for now, the scientists don’t know exactly who, or where, that person would be. A U.S. observatory in Hawaii found CFC-11 mixed in with other gases that were characteristic of a source coming from somewhere in east Asia, but scientists could not narrow the source down any further.

Zaelke said he was surprised by the findings, not just because the chemical has long been banned, but also because alternatives already exist, making it hard to imagine what the market for CFC-11 today would be.

The research was led by researchers with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with help from scientists in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Their results were published in the journal Nature.

There is a small chance that there is a more innocent explanation for the rise in CFC-11 emissions, the scientist say.

They considered a range of alternative explanations for the growth, such as a change in atmospheric patterns that gradually remove CFC gases in the stratosphere, an increase in the rate of demolition of buildings containing old residues of CFC-11, or accidental production.

But they concluded these sources could not explain the increase, which they calculated at about 13 billion grams per year in recent years. Rather, the evidence “strongly suggests” a new source of emissions, the scientists wrote.

“These considerations suggest that the increased CFC-11 emissions arise from new production not reported to UNEP’s Ozone Secretariat, which is inconsistent with the agreed phase-out of CFC production in the Montreal Protocol by 2010,” the researchers wrote.

CFC-11, used primarily for foams, can lasts up to 50 years in the atmosphere once it’s released. It is only destroyed in the stratosphere, some 9 to 18 miles above the planet’s surface, where the resulting chlorine molecules engage in a string of ozone-destroying chemical reactions. That loss of ozone, in turn, weakens our protection from UV radiation at the Earth’s surface.

The chemical is also a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

The paper’s findings are “environmentally and politically quite serious,” said Robert Watson, the former NASA scientist who organized bracing flights high into the Antarctic stratosphere to study ozone depletion in the 1980s, in an emailed statement.

“It is not clear why any country would want to start to produce, and inadvertently release, CFC-11, when cost effective substitutes have been available for a long while,” Watson continued.

“It is therefore imperative that this finding be discussed at the next Ministerial meeting of Governments given recovery of the ozone layer is dependent on all countries complying with the Montreal Protocol (and its adjustments and amendments) with emissions globally dropping to zero.”

Watson suggested that aircraft flights might be necessary to better identify the source of the emissions.

Keith Weller, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program, which administers the Montreal Protocol, said the findings will have to be verified by the scientific panel to the Protocol, and then would be put before the treaty’s member countries.

“If these emissions continue unabated, they have the potential to slow down the recovery of the ozone layer,” Weller said in a statement. “It is therefore, critical that we take stock of this science, identify the causes of these emissions and take necessary action.”

Unreported production of CFC-11 outside of certain specific carve-out purposes in the treaty would be a “violation of international law,” Weller confirmed, though he said that the Protocol is “non-punitive” and the remedy would probably involve a negotiation with the offending party, or country.

But Zaelke thought the finding could promote tougher action.

“This treaty cannot afford not to follow its tradition and keep its compliance record,” he said.

“They’re going to find the culprits. This insults everybody who’s worked on this for the last 30 years. That’s a tough group of people.”

Overall, it is important to underscore that the ozone layer is slowly recovering and ozone-depleting substances are still declining. But the apparent increase in emissions of CFC-11 has slowed the rate of decrease by about 22 percent, the scientists found. This, in turn, will delay the ozone layer’s recovery, and in the meantime leave it more vulnerable to other threats.

“Knowing how much time and effort and resources have gone into healing the ozone layer, and to see this is a shocker, frankly,” said Montzka.


Owner seeks extra charge to keep Massachusetts power plant running

They can't compete with subsidized "renewables"

Think your electricity bill is high now? Another charge could be on the way, but it’s one that might be crucial to keeping the lights on.

That’s because the massive Mystic power plant in Everett is on track to be shut down. Its owner, Exelon, says it’s no longer economical to run. But ISO New England, which oversees the region’s electric grid, fears that supplies could be compromised on frigid days — think rolling blackouts — and it has asked Exelon to keep the fires burning beyond a projected closure date in mid-2022.

The Chicago-based company says it needs more money to do so. So this week it sought approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an extra charge that could be baked into electric bills to cover its costs, if necessary — one that the company says probably won’t exceed $1 a month for a typical residential customer in New England. The goal: to keep its two main gas-fired Mystic turbines operating through mid-2024, with the hope that reforms to electricity market rules could keep Mystic operating beyond that date.

Exelon says it can’t calculate its revenue for that time period, so it’s impossible to know the size of any operating shortfall now.

The two Mystic units together can generate about 1,400 megawatts of power, or enough electricity for more than 1 million homes. Exelon plans in 2022 to retire a third turbine, with 575 megawatts of capacity, and a much smaller oil-fired unit used only at peak times.

A spokeswoman said Exelon is already in talks with developers to acquire most of the 69-acre property, land it won’t need when the plant is reduced to two turbines.

The Mystic plant is integral to the region’s grid. It’s the largest in Massachusetts and is in a strategic position, at Boston’s doorstep.

There’s something else that makes the two units at Mystic so unusual: Their fuel comes directly from imported liquefied natural gas that arrives by ship, not pipeline. This reliance is a liability because LNG is often much more expensive than domestic gas. Exelon recently decided to buy the nearby Distrigas terminal to avoid a protracted contract dispute. But the LNG fuel is also an asset: On chilly winter days, much of the region’s pipeline gas gets consumed for heating purposes, not electricity. LNG acts as a hedge, an insurance policy of sorts, during cold snaps.


Birds are dropping dead off Australia's coast, and it's all our fault (?)

There is no doubt of the problem but its real cause is getting the Nelson's telescope treatment.  The marine plastic debris does NOT come from developed countries such as Australia.  Such countries have efficient waste collection systems (garbage trucks) which take the waste to a place where it can be dissposed of responsibly. So the debris is not from Western countries.  It comes from AFRICA and ASIA -- where people dispose of their rubbish by tossing it into their local river -- whence it flows to sea.

But reforming Africans and Asians is "too hard" so the do-gooders pretend that the problem is where it is not.  To admit its real source would be politically incorrect.

If they could bear for any length of time to admit reality, they MIGHT be able to do something useful for the problem -- putting garbage collection barriers across the mouths of the major African and Asian rivers.  But that would be too practical, of course.  Much more attractive to go around finger-pointing and criticizing your own society.

Deep in their burrows, hungry shearwater chicks on Lord Howe Island await a meal. Their parents have been scouring the sea in search of fish and squid. Instead, they return to feed their babies clothes pegs, bottle tops and Lego pieces.

The flesh-footed sheerwater population at Lord Howe Island is dwindling due to a tidal wave of marine plastic being mistaken for food.

After 90 days the fledglings emerge from their burrows, stomachs bulging with plastic. They prepare for their first flight. Many are so malnourished they die outside the nest. Others make it to the beach, but their undeveloped wings flap in vain and waves engulf them.

Ian Hutton, a naturalist and museum curator on Lord Howe Island, pulls the bodies off the beach. Researchers slice open their stomachs to confirm the cause of death. Once, they found 274 plastic fragments.

“It’s so upsetting to think this bird has been reared by its parents, it’s been fed and it should have a chance to go to sea but it’s died,” he said.

‘When you cut the stomach open and pull out the plastic, some people actually cry when they see it.”

The flesh-footed shearwaters embody what the United Nations has called a “planetary crisis” posed by an unremitting tide of marine plastic.

In the few decades since mass production began in the 1950s, plastic waste is overwhelming rivers and oceans – tossed into waterways, carried by stormwater and winds, and lost overboard from boats.

In Australia 1.5 million tonnes of plastic were used in the year to June 2013 - about 65 kilograms for each person. Only 20 per cent was recycled [The rest went to a proper tip]

Brisbane City Council this week committed to banning plastic straws, single-use plastic bottles and helium balloons from all council events. Environmentalists say other federal, state and local governments can do much more.

University of Tasmania marine eco-toxicologist Jennifer Lavers said the birds “are not picky eaters” and easily tricked by ocean plastic. She said the birds’ numbers are declining due to a range of pressures.

NSW Greens MP Justin Field, who travelled to Lord Howe Island this month, said single-use plastic items such as straws or utensils were often unnecessary and could be limited through stronger regulation.

“It is going to require much more than a recycling mentality. It might even include banning single-use plastics,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago that food courts had ceramic plates and stainless steel knives and forks. We need to return to that type of thinking.”

A Senate report in 2016 presented 23 recommendations, including developing alternatives to plastic packaging and urgently putting marine plastic pollution on the Council of Australian Government agenda.

The federal government has not responded to the report. It is developing a threat abatement plan to reduce the impact of debris on marine life – a draft version of which Mr Angel described as “unbelievably weak”.

A NSW Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said the government’s Return and Earn scheme will help meet the state goal of reducing litter volumes by 40 percent by 2020, and 320 million drink containers had so far been returned.

Most major supermarkets will voluntarily phase out lightweight plastic shopping bags this year and NSW was taking part in a national microbead phase-out. The mass release of gas filled balloons is against the law in NSW.

The federal Department of the Environment and Energy said a recent meeting of environment ministers agreed all Australian packaging should be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier, that Australia’s recycling capabilities be increased and waste reduction be encouraged through consumer awareness, education and industry leadership. A national waste policy will be updated this year and government agencies will prioritise projects that convert waste to energy.




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


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Activists try to disrupt Chevron Play

Dear Friends,

So we have had the opening weekend of the The $18-Billion Prize and what a weekend it has been.

At Friday night's preview two activists sat in the crowd heckling the actors trying to disrupt the performance. Thankfully they were far enough away as not to be able to throw the actors off their performance.

Afterwards they created disruption in the lobby. A member of the audience managed to catch this video of the end of the confrontation.

However the weekend has turned out to be a huge success. The $18-Billion Prize was chosen as one of the must-see plays of the weekend by the chief drama critic of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Don't forget during rehearsals one of the actors walked out because he couldn't bear to be in a play that told the truth about the environmental movement.

There are so many things to tell you. The cast were in top form and the audience loved the show. We had a great opening night party afterwards. The best part of the party was the realization that we had a special guest in the audience. Randy Mastro, Chevron's lawyer is the joint lead in the show and it turns out that sitting in the audience watching himself being play on stage was the real Randy Mastro.

Ilo Orleans, the actor playing Randy Mastro meeting the real Randy Mastro was a laugh. I've enclosed a photo below. The Real Randy said he liked his portrayal and thoroughly enjoyed the play. He also had some wonderful behind the scenes stories about the trial that the play is based on. The $18-Billion Prize is mostly verbatim - taken directly from the trial and deposition transcripts - so I told Mr Mastro that he and Donziger deserved writing credits. He politely declined the offer.

I should point out we have sent invitations to the play to Steven Donziger, Mastro's opponent in the case, and the lawyer who led the lawsuit. Donziger and his spokeswoman did respond initially but have not responded to my invitation. The invitation still stands. We'd love to hear their thoughts on The $18-Billion Prize.

So it's been busy. One of my favorite parts of the day is meeting audience members at the "Playwrights Table" in Johnny Foley's Irish pub just yards from the theater. I've attached a photo of the audience members who have gathered for some pre-show Guinness and eats and conversation.

Hope to see you there and don't forget to please send the link to anyone in San Francisco you think might like to see The $18-Billion Prize and also send it to anyone who might like to contribute to ensure the play is able to keep going. This is the link:

Thank You
Phelim McAleer

Via email

Australian University Professor Sacked for Telling-the-Truth about coral

Jennifer Marohasy

BACK in 2016, when I asked Peter Ridd if he would write a chapter for the book I was editing I could not possibly have envisaged it could contribute to the end of his thirty-year career as a university professor.

Considering that Peter enrolled at James Cook University as an undergraduate back in 1978, he has been associated with that one university for forty years.

Since Peter was fired on 2 May 2018, the university has attempted to remove all trace of this association: scrubbing him completely from their website.

But facts don’t cease to exist because they are removed from a website. The university has never challenged the veracity of Peter’s legitimate claims about the quality of much of the reef science: science on which billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded research is being squandered. These issues are not going away.

Just yesterday (Friday 18 May), Peter lodged papers in the Federal Court. He is going to fight for his job back!

If you care about the truth, science and academic freedom, please donate to help bring this important case to court.

It doesn’t matter how little or how much you donate. Just make sure you are a part of this important effort by donating to Peter’s GoFundMe campaign.

Peter deliberately choose to frame the book chapter about the replication crisis that is sweeping through science.

In this chapter – The Extraordinary Resilience of Great Barrier Reef Coral and Problems with Policy Science – Peter details the major problems with quality assurance when it comes to claims of the imminent demise of the reef.

Policy science concerning the Great Barrier Reef is almost never checked. Over the next few years, Australian governments will spend more than a billion dollars on the Great Barrier Reef; the costs to industry could far exceed this. Yet the keystone research papers have not been subject to proper scrutiny. Instead, there is a total reliance on the demonstrably inadequate peer-review process.

Ex-professor Peter Ridd has also published extensively in the scientific literature on the Great Barrier Reef, including issues with the methodology used to measure calcification rates. In the book he explains:

Like trees, which produce rings as they grow, corals set down a clearly identifiable layer of calcium carbonate skeleton each year, as they grow. The thicknesses and density of the layers can be used to infer calcification rates and are, effectively, a measure of the growth rate. Dr Glenn De’ath and colleagues from the Australian Institute of Marine Science used cores from more than 300 corals, some of which were hundreds of years old, to measure the changes in calcification during the last few hundred years. They claimed there was a precipitous decline in calcification since 1990

The LHS chart suggests a problem with coral growth rates – but the real problem is with the methodology. When corals of equivalent age are sampled, there has been no decline in growth rates at the Great Barrier Reef

However, I have two issues with their analysis. I published my concerns, and an alternative analysis, in the journal Marine Geology (Ridd et al. 2013). First, there were instrumental errors with the measurements of the coral layers. This was especially the case for the last layer at the surface of the coral, which was often measured as being much smaller than the reality. This forced an apparent drop in the average calcification for the corals that were collected in the early 2000s – falsely implying a recent calcification drop. Second, an ‘age effect’ was not acknowledged. When these two errors are accounted for, the drop in calcification rates disappear, as shown in Figure 1.2.

The problem with the ‘age effect’, mentioned above, arose because in the study De’ath and colleagues included data from corals sampled during two distinct periods and with a different focus; I will refer to these as two campaigns. The first campaign occurred mostly in the 1980s and focused on very large coral specimens, sometimes many metres across. The second campaign occurred in the early 2000s due to the increased interest in the effects of CO2. However, presumably due to cost cutting measures, instead of focusing on the original huge coral colonies, the second campaign measured smaller colonies, many just a few tens of centimetres in diameter.

In summary, the first campaign focused on large old corals, while, in contrast, the second campaign focused on small young corals. The two datasets were then spliced together, and wholly unjustifiable assumptions were implicitly made, but not stated – in particular that there is no age effect on coral growth…

Dr Juan D’Olivo Cordero from the University of Western Australia collected an entirely different dataset of coral cores from the Great Barrier Reef to determine calcification rates. This study determined that there has been a 10% increase in calcification rates since the 1940s for offshore and mid-shelf reefs, which is the location of about 99% of all the coral on the Great Barrier Reef. However, these researchers also measured a 5% decline in calcification rates of inshore corals – the approximately 1% of corals that live very close to the coast. Overall, there was an increase for most of the Great Barrier Reef, and a decrease for a small fraction of the Great Barrier Reef.

While it would seem reasonable to conclude that the results of the study by D’Olivo et al. would be reported as good news for the Great Barrier Reef, their article in the journal Coral Reefs concluded:

Our new findings nevertheless continue to raise concerns, with the inner-shelf reefs continuing to show long-term declines in calcification consistent with increased disturbance from land-based effects. In contrast, the more ‘pristine’ mid- and outer-shelf reefs appear to be undergoing a transition from increasing to decreasing rates of calcification, possibly reflecting the effects of CO2-driven climate change.

Imaginatively, this shift from ‘increasing’ to ‘decreasing’ seems to be based on an insignificant fall in the calcification rate in some of the mid-shelf reefs in the last two years of the 65-year dataset.

Why did the authors concentrate on this when their data shows that the reef is growing about 10% faster than it did in the 1940s?

James Cook university could have used the chapter as an opportunity to start a much-needed discussion about policy, funding and the critical importance of the scientific method. Instead, Peter was first censored by the University – and now he has been fired.

When I first blogged on this back in February, Peter needed to raise A$95,000 to fight the censure.

This was achieved through an extraordinary effort, backed by Anthony Watts, Joanne Nova, John Roskam and so many others.

To be clear, the university is not questioning the veracity of what ex-professor Ridd has written, but rather his right to say this publicly. In particular, the university is claiming that he has not been collegial and continues to speak-out even after he was told to desist.

New allegations have been built on the original misconduct charges that I detailed back in February. The core issue continues to be Peter’s right to keep talking – including so that he can defend himself.

In particular, the university objects to the original GoFundMe campaign (that Peter has just reopened) because it breaches claimed confidentiality provisions in Peter’s employment agreement. The university claims that Peter Ridd was not allowed to talk about their action against him. Peter disputes this.

Of course, if Peter had gone along with all of this, he would have been unable to raise funds to get legal advice – to defend himself! All of the documentation is now being made public – all of this information, and more can be found at Peter’s new website.

Together, let’s fight this! Go fund ex-professor Ridd at:

The Institute of Public Affairs published Climate Change, The Facts 2017, and continues to support Peter’s right to speak the truth. For media and comment contact Evan Mulholland on 0405 140 780, or at

Buy the book if you haven’t already: this is another way of showing your support.

The most important thing is to not be silenced, shout about this! I received an email last week: “Bought Climate Change, The Facts 2017, as requested, to support Peter Ridd. I’m not making any friends at dinner parties at the moment. Stuff ’em.”


Tell the Energy Department What You Think about Your Dishwasher

Thirty-five years ago, dishwashers cleaned dishes in about an hour. Sadly today, due to federal government regulations, there are no dishwashers that do so. This isn’t progress—it’s the failure of government to allow consumer choice.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to change these regulations, and they are currently considering doing so! Thanks to CEI’s petition, the DOE opened a public comment period to decide if the regulations should be changed.

Federal regulators have been so focused on forcing people to decrease energy usage that they have lost sight of the other features that Americans value. Even the DOE now recognizes that because of their regulations, manufacturers “typically increase the cycle time.” The DOE is required by law to make sure that such features continue to be options for consumers, but has failed to do so.

Due to the increase in cycle times many consumers have complained. Here are just a few examples:

“The cycles run FOREVER - Plan on letting it run all afternoon before your dishes are ready so you can use them for dinner!!”
“It doesn't clean well, but has a very long cycle, well over two hours.”

One consumer described a cycle time of one and a half hours as “extremely long,” but sadly this is the shortest cycle time on the market.

“The cycle time is way too long, running for 4 hours and still not cleaning the dishes. I am currently in the process of hand washing a number of dishes that did not clean in last night’s 4-hour cycle.”

“It spontaneously starts beeping, non-stop, the cycle takes FOREVER. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.”

When one consumer called a technician to complain of a 4.5 hour cycle time, she was told that the new machines just take longer than the old ones.

Dishwashers are just one of many consumer appliances harmed by federal regulations. Traditional incandescent light bulbs are banned by federal regulations in favor of compact fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury, have worse color rendering, and cost three to 10 times as much.

Traditional top-loading clothes washers with a central agitator are banned in favor of front-loading washers that cost twice as much and some of which, according to Consumer Reports, leave clothes “nearly as dirty as they were before washing.”

It is time to stop these irresponsible actions and restore the quality of dishwashers that have been reduced by federal regulations. There is no reason DOE cannot add a new category that would take no more than an hour to complete cleaning and drying dishes. This would restore Americans’ choice to buy the product they want, while those who like their dishwasher as it is, would be able to still purchase them.

It is time to start reversing the damage that federal regulations have done. If you wish to have faster dishwashers, unconstrained by unneeded burdensome regulations, please submit a comment to the DOE.

>> Submit your comments about the need for faster dishwashers by June 25 here: Just a sentence or two about the need for faster dishwashers can help persuade the agency.


Real Russian collusion the Dems and MSM ignore,/b>

Putin pals fund radical groups that interfere with US elections, energy, agriculture and economy

Paul Driessen

Robert Mueller’s politicized investigation into allegations that President Trump or the Trump campaign or some Trump associate somehow colluded with Russians continues unproven but unabated. Many think partisan politics ensure it will not be concluded or terminated before the fall 2018 elections.

Federal District Court Judge T. S. Ellis may have rebuked Mueller for attempting to wield “unfettered power” and actually being motivated primarily by a desire to hurt the President. But Mr. Mueller seems determined to find collusion somewhere – except where it seems blatantly obvious: in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s dealings with Putin oligarchs and the Clinton Family Foundation, her presidential campaign’s ties to Russia in funding and utilizing the Steele-Fusion GPS dossier that launched the Mueller probe, a host of top Obama Administration and Democratic National Committee officials who connived to spy on and disrupt the Trump campaign and transition, and multiple other activities.

Moreover, Putin cronies and agents have long colluded with Obama- and Clinton-allied organizations in yet another area to impact election outcomes and drive important public policies. Congress, journalists and others have investigated this collusion and bankrolling – but their detailed reports have been ignored by Mueller, Democrats and the “mainstream” media. They need to open their eyes.

The US Senate “Billionaires’ Club” and Environmental Policy Alliance “From Russia with Love” reports, articles by investigative journalists like Ron Arnold and Lachlan Markay (here and here), studies by the US National Intelligence Director and Iowa State University, and a March 2018 report by the US House Science Committee reveal money laundering by Putin cronies and ongoing propaganda efforts by Russian media groups to undermine American drilling, fracking, pipeline and agricultural programs. They found:

One of the most clandestine and devious arrangements involves firms owned or controlled by Nathaniel Simons and his wife. Tax records reveal that their Sea Change Foundation gives tens of millions a year to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Climate Action Network, League of Conservation Voters, Center for American Progress, Progressive Policy Institute, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club and others.

Extensive Sea Change funding comes through Bermuda-based Klein, Ltd., a shell company whose apparent sole purpose is to channel money covertly to Sea Change, which passes it on to environmental advocacy and “educational” groups. Klein’s only officers are employees of Bermuda law firm Wakefield Quin, its address is the same as WQ’s, and its registered business agents work for Wakefield.

Hefty portions of Klein funds come from Russia: Rosneft, the Russian-government-owned oil and gas giant that is one of Wakefield’s largest clients; Spectrum Partners, a Moscow-based energy investment firm with major assets in Russian oil and gas; the IPOC Group, an international growth fund owned by Russian minister of telecommunications and Putin friend Leonid Reiman; and other Russian companies. (Other Sea Change donors include the Gates Foundation, eBay’s Omidyar Network Fund, David Rockefeller’s personal foundation, the Walmart Foundation and the extended Simons family.)

The Science Committee Report explains how the Russian government funnel money through surrogates to US environmentalist organizations to fund attacks on the fossil fuels industry. It also reveals how Russian operatives create and spread propaganda on US social media platforms, to manipulate American opinions about pipelines, fossil fuels, fracking and climate change.

Before and after the 2016 elections, Russian agents also promoted protests to block pipeline construction and prevent oil and gas production projects, using Twitter and Facebook accounts created by the Russian government-linked Internet Research Agency, Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) noted.

Russian operatives use similar tactics to undermine hydraulic fracturing and pipelines in Europe, which depends on Russia for a third of its natural gas. In fact, several countries get 100% of their gas from Putin-controlled companies, creating serious risks of high prices, transmission interruptions and blackmail. Even more troubling, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have revealed that Russian hackers were behind cyber intrusions into America’s electricity grid – and might have been setting the stage for hack attacks that could cause widespread blackouts in the USA and other nations.

On the agriculture front, the Iowa State study found that Russian agents have orchestrated campaigns to disparage genetically engineered (GE) crops that American farmers utilize to produce more food, from less land, using less water and fewer pesticides, and with greater resistance to droughts, floods, insects and climate shifts, than is possible with conventional or organic farming. Precise modern GE technologies also created Golden Rice, which prevents malnutrition, blindness and death in Third World children; heat-resistant wheat; and the corn (maize) US ethanol producers use as their feed stock.

However, radical groups like Greenpeace and Food & Water Watch are determined to eliminate every form of agricultural biotechnology. They are just as virulently opposed to pesticides and herbicides.

Financed by organic and natural food companies – and by the Russia-Sea Change Laundromat – they are adept at devising and conducting their own anti-GE/GMO, anti-glyphosate, anti-pesticide and other campaigns. All are eagerly and uncritically covered by print, electronic and social media. But US activist groups and news outlets also parrot or expand on Russia’s RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik propaganda stories that likewise falsely portray these technologies as risky for people and planet.

Why do they do all this? US fracking operations, oil and gas exports, miraculous agricultural output, and corn, wheat and other crop exports have hurt Russia’s income, economy, ruble and military. By supporting radical green groups, Russian agents impair US energy and agricultural exports, increase export opportunities for Russian companies, advance their nation’s economic and geopolitical ambitions, especially regarding Europe – and (they hope) make Russia stronger by making America weaker.

Foundations, government agencies, rich liberals like Michael Bloomberg, corporations and other donors agree with the green agenda, want to avoid activist attacks, or just can’t see past utopian assertions to recognize what Hard Green agendas really do, especially to working class and Third World families.

Radical greens gladly take Russian funds because they can never have too much money to advance their domestic and international ambitions. As Ron Arnold notes in our book Cracking Big Green: just the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace and ten other major US eco organizations raked in $2.1 billion in 2012. Total revenue for all US environmentalist groups exceeds $6.5 billion a year. Over a 12-year period, they received more than $21 billion from major foundations; countless millions in taxpayer money from US government agencies during the Obama era; and billions from other sources.

All this cash is fungible. Even if these shady, secretive Russian contributions aen’t used directly to fund anti-energy and anti-technology campaigns – or to air political ads, support candidates (some 99.9% of them Democrats) and influence elections – they free up other funds that do exactly that. And the donors and recipients are fundamentally in sync philosophically on totalitarian socialism, global governance, wealth redistribution, disguised but real disdain for the less fortunate, and detesting America (especially under President Trump) and free enterprise capitalism.

All of this is illuminating and disturbing, but hardly surprising. It’s yet another example of greens and other leftists demanding ethics, responsibility, transparency and accountability – except for themselves.

So if Mr. Mueller and Judge Ellis ultimately decide there actually are no limits to the scope of these “Russian collusion” investigations and interrogations, perhaps they can focus some of Mueller’s staff and seemingly bottomless budget on the HRC activities noted above; the suspicious funding and spending practices of the Clinton Foundation; and the ongoing transfer of countless millions of dollars from Russia through secretive laundering outfits to radical environmentalist groups that are deeply involved in US policy-making, pressure campaigns, shareholder actions, and political elections of every description.

That investigation into Russian collusion would be an eye-opening service to America and the world.

Via email



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


Monday, May 21, 2018

Actor Storms Out of Chevron Play Over Politics

Dear Friends,

I'm just going to the airport to catch the plane for the opening weekend of "The $18-Billion Prize" but I wanted to let you now about the very depressing reports circulating about the production.

According to some reports the lead actor has walked out because he doesn't like the politics of the play. You can read the full report HERE.

I don't want to comment on the report but I want you to know that the show is going on as planned and we will have preview tonight and opening night tomorrow night.

We have replaced the leading actor and the truth will be told. It's just like the Ferguson play in LA when nine of the actors walked out because they didn't like the script. This is crazy because both scripts are overwhelmingly verbatim - using eyewitness testimony. What the actors are saying is that they don't like the truth - it seems they would rather promote a fairytale that supports their politics. This has not been the only problem we have faced in the production. It was almost impossible to get a venue in San Francisco and not one publicist or lighting designer in the whole city would work on the production.

It has been a tough few days as we struggle to get a show on the stage but it has been worth it. The $18-Billion Prize is a great story of how one of the world's biggest frauds was carried out by an environmentalist. And it was all aided and abetted by the mainstream media and Hollywood actors. They almost got away with $18 billion.

But we are exposing the fraud on the stage despite the attempts to disrupt the show. Thats why I need your help. It has not been cheap bringing people in from out of town and dealing with all the disruption. I'm crowdfunding the project because the theatrical establishment don't want the truth to be told.

So please give whatever you can - you can donate at

It would be great if you could come to a performance but if you are from out of town think about buying the script or a poster of the play.

It is a stunning tale of malfeasance but also exposes Hollywood celebs going wild in the jungle.

So please go to and give what you can.

Phelim McAleer Via email

A lady with delusions of grandeur

Wild assertions instead of facts and logical reasoning.  And she no doubt wonders why men say women are too emotional.

What the world would be like without fossil fuels needs no imagining. There are many parts of the third world that already do without fossil fuels -- But you wouldn't want to be like them. Their lives are nasty, brutish and short.  So her  claim that women will rid the world of fossil fuels is particularly dumb. She offers a nightmare

At the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in New Orleans last December, Sarah Myhre, PhD, joined with other scientists on a panel presenting and fielding questions on the science, economics, and politics of climate solutions.

Myhre (pronounced my-ree) delivered a message that may have been startling to some in the audience – that climate change cannot fully be addressed without also grappling with the misogyny and social injustice that have perpetuated the problem for decades. Myhre characteristically delivered her talk with a sense of urgency, confidence, and polish.

After the presentations, an audience member directed a comment to panelist Stefan Rahmstorf, PhD, of the Potsdam Institute. Rahmstorf had illustrated just how quickly the world will need to stop burning fossil fuels if warming is to be kept to no more than 2 degrees C, about 3.6 degrees F.

“You show that we’ll need to drop all the way to zero fossil fuel use within the next few decades,” the commenter said. “But I have a hard time even imagining a world without fossil fuels.”

As Rahmstorf prepared to answer, Myhre leaned over to the microphone. “Imagine a world where women are in charge,” she said wryly, “And then you’ll imagine a world without fossil fuels.”

Laughter echoed through the room – some of it no doubt nervous laughter. But Myhre’s comment was more than just a witty comeback. Myhre later mentioned that her intent was not to disrespect men, but to emphasize that only an entirely different leadership could bring about the radical change she says is needed to reverse reliance on fossil fuels.

Her retort appeared to resonate because it acknowledged the potential of women as creative leaders at a time when there’s little optimism for “politics-as-usual” to get a handle on climate change.

Fast forward a few months, and Myhre spoke more about her work over a video call. She recounted that moment at AGU and filled in the backstory.

“I remember that very clearly, it was a laugh line. I was not saying, let’s take every man out of power,” she said. She switched from a tone of conversation to one of oration in explaining the reasoning behind her comment.

What if women were in charge for a decade? Just 10 years – and we would hand it all back to you after 10 years. I’m going to guarantee that after 10 years, you would be in a better place. You, man, would be in a better place if all of us women were running the show. Cause you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to give you health care. We’re going to give you education. We’re going to empower your communities. We’re going to work on affordable housing, we’re going to work on diversity and inclusivity so that your queer son can go to an institution and not be, you know, bullied and harassed. Like … it’s gonna be good for you.

Myhre argues that addressing climate change requires a humanist perspective. In other words, one empathizing with people who are marginalized by the effects of climate change but lacking a powerful voice in brokering solutions. She points to “indigenous people, people from small island nations and polar communities, and the global population of the poor and vulnerable. And to people living in the future – our descendants.”

Women, Myhre posits, are leaders in extending empathy to different populations, in part because many women, particularly women of color, have experienced discrimination themselves.

But Myhre also described the darker side of that AGU moment. “Afterwards, I received two messages from men. Both of the messages were, ‘I was on board with your presentation until you made that joke.’ One was a threatening note: ‘You need to watch your back because people are paying attention to you, and they’re ready to take you down.'”

“It shows you that women making jokes are unpalatable,” Myhre said.

So, here’s what some might see as an inevitable dilemma: On one hand, Myhre fiercely wants the world to be a better, more equal, more caring place. And on the other hand, she finds herself embroiled in controversy for saying so.


In Attacking ‘Uncertainty,’ King County Climate Lawsuit Undermines Fellow Litigants

Last week King County, Washington, became the latest municipality to sue the oil and gas industry in an effort to extract monetary damages for climate change. Like San Francisco, Oakland, and New York City, King County hired the Seattle-based plaintiffs’ firm Hagens Berman to represent it.

Curiously, even after facing heavy skepticism and criticism of its past lawsuits, Hagens Berman doubled down on some of its weakest arguments, and in doing so, may have thrown its fellow plaintiffs under the bus.

King County’s lawsuit criticizes fossil fuel companies for acknowledging the uncertainty inherent in attempting to predict the future. Here is one example from the King County complaint:

“Until approximately early 2017, Exxon’s website continued to emphasize the ‘uncertainty’ of global warming science and impacts: ‘current scientific understanding provides limited guidance on the likelihood, magnitude, or time frame’ of events like temperature extremes and sea level rise. Exxon’s insistence on crystal-ball certainty was clear misdirection, since Exxon knew that the fundamentals of climate science were well settled and showed global warming to present a clear and present danger.” (emphasis added)

It’s an accusation opponents of the oil and gas industry have made before, but it now serves to cast doubt on the lawsuits brought by King County’s fellow climate plaintiffs in California, who recently released a report that praises their own efforts to emphasize the uncertainty of climate projections.

It could also create additional legal headaches for King County and other plaintiffs.

In January, one of the defendants of these climate lawsuits filed a petition in a Texas District Court suggesting that the California municipalities’ claims of climate damages were either exaggerated in their lawsuits or downplayed in their municipal bond disclosures. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was later asked by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Association of Manufacturers to investigate the municipalities’ bond disclosures for possible securities fraud.

Seeking to clear their name, five of the municipalities (all represented by Sher Edling LLP) hired a former SEC official to review their bond disclosures. That former SEC official’s conclusion emphasized that the effects of climate change were too far away to have any noteworthy impact on the municipalities, and praised them for emphasizing the uncertainty of climate change modeling. Discussing the bonds of one of the plaintiffs, the report states:

“Furthermore, the disclosure documents for the bonds San Mateo County issued in 2014 and 2016 included general disclosures regarding potential risks from sea level rise and included appropriate cautionary language about the uncertainty of whether or when flooding from sea level rise might occur and of the County’s inability to predict whether such future events would have a material adverse effect on the financial condition and business operations of the County or on the local economy.” (emphasis added)

As Energy In Depth noted at the time, the former SEC official’s report was almost certain to cause headaches for the plaintiffs’ lawsuits, whose very premise relies on the idea that these municipalities have already been harmed by climate change and that the energy industry was inappropriately acknowledging the same uncertainty noted by the municipalities.

So when ExxonMobil acknowledges the uncertainty of climate projections, it’s “clear misdirection.” But when San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Marin Counties and the Cities of Imperial Beach and Santa Cruz do the same, they were acting appropriately? That is a textbook example of hypocrisy.

Further ignoring the former SEC official’s report and throwing caution to the wind, King County’s lawsuit begins with:

“Global warming is here and it is harming King County now as King County is already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate: warming temperatures, acidifying marine waters, rising seas, increased flooding risk, decreasing mountain snowpack, and less water in the summer.”

In its first line, King County’s complaint contradicts the report paid for by the California municipalities, which stated: “in the case of sea-level rise and certain other climate impacts, municipal entities generally will not be greatly affected for decades…”

It is also clear that Hagens Berman has not updated the language in its lawsuits to reflect recent events. In fact, much of King County’s complaint is copied over from the San Francisco and Oakland complaints, with minimal alteration.

The copy of the complaint available on King County’s website is even titled “Template that creates a custom pleading,” providing some of the strongest evidence yet that Hagens Berman is shopping these lawsuits as an off-the-shelf deliverable. The firm stands to make tens of billions of dollars in contingency fees should any of the plaintiffs find success in the courtroom.

But the firm’s inattention to detail and its history of bringing “baseless” cases that give a “new meaning to ‘frivolous’” – as one judge put it – may ultimately prove a legal headache for the firm and the cities and counties it represents.


Here's why Congress and think tanks think a carbon tax would be disastrous

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., recently introduced a resolution that explains why a carbon tax would harm the economy and why it should not be enacted. A similar resolution, introduced by Scalise in 2016, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 237 to 163. Six Democrats joined the entire Republican caucus in supporting the resolution.

I applaud Scalise and McKinley’s unswerving effort to prevent a carbon tax in the U.S., and you should as well. The resolution is important and timely because a group of old-guard, “swamp” Republicans, including Reagan-era luminaries like James Baker and George Shultz, have joined with anti-fossil-fuel zealots such as Obama Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to push a new federal carbon tax.

In addition, a number of states have considered or are still considering carbon taxes in their most recent legislative sessions. In Washington State, for example, activists were unable to con voters into passing a carbon tax initiative in 2016, and, despite support from billionaire Tom Steyer, a carbon tax proposal died in the legislature in March. Despite repeated failure, anti-progress environmentalists are back again, gathering signatures to put another carbon tax initiative on Washington’s ballot.

Scalise and McKinley’s resolution would put Congress on record again opposing the carbon tax, which President Trump also opposes.

The resolution states any carbon tax would result in myriad harms, including an “increase [in] energy prices, including the price of gasoline, electricity, natural gas, and home heating oil.” It would also “mean that families and consumers will pay more for essentials like food, gasoline, and electricity,” causing the most harm for “the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes.” The resolution also claims a carbon tax would “lead to more jobs and businesses moving overseas.”

Scalise says his resolution is meant to combat those “special interests” working to stop Republicans’ plan to make America energy dominant again. McKinley has said that a carbon tax "will take money out of the pockets of middle-class families" and "lead to a decrease in the production of America’s abundant energy resources that would result in lost jobs" and higher energy costs.

A group of 29 research institutes, legal foundations, and grassroots-activist groups, including The Heartland Institute, submitted a letter to Congress expressing support for the anti-carbon-tax resolution.

The letter noted multiple independent analyses have concluded a carbon tax would cost jobs, reduce economic growth, and disproportionately harm the poorest Americans. For instance, the signatories write, “a 2014 Heritage Foundation report found that a $37 per ton carbon tax would lead to a loss of more than $2.5 trillion in aggregate gross domestic product by 2030 … [or] more than $21,000 in income loss per family. In addition, a carbon tax would cost over 500,000 jobs in manufacturing and more than one million jobs by 2030. According to a 2013 CBO report, a carbon tax is highly regressive.”

Neither a carbon tax nor domestic regulations will do anything to prevent global climate change, even if human carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to it. However, carbon taxes will, ironically, increase pollution overall. Facing higher energy costs, some or even many American companies will be forced to move operations overseas to remain profitable. Countries such as China and India, where many companies are likely to relocate to, have weaker environmental standards and less efficient methods of production than in the U.S. As companies fleeing the carbon tax shift production overseas, additional air pollution will spew into the atmosphere.

There is never a good time to enact bad policy, and a carbon tax is one of the worst policies we could adopt.


Climate Derangement Syndrome: Al Jazeera Abandons Science For Dogma And Fake News

THIS Al Jazeera article demonstrates beautifully how belief and dogma have infected much of the mainstream media and the global warming climate change orthodoxy, where groupthink doctrine insists that man-made climate change is responsible for all weather events, regardless of facts, data, empirical evidence or ‘science’.

THIS particular article also displays a troubling shift in climate change reporting where the narrative has progressed from ‘might climate change be affecting the weather?’, to ‘what impact is climate change having on X (cricket)’. There’s a big difference, with the latter presuming that man-made climate change is now a foregone conclusion…

“As recently as the summer of 2012, three of England’s 13 One Day International events were abandoned due to rain, while no result was possible in two of their seven Test matches with West Indies and South Africa.

That’s why the sport must take notice of a report published by Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest climate change action group, in February."

The document names cricket as the sport that will be hardest hit by climate change in England, stating that “wetter winters and more intense summer downpours are disrupting the game at every level”.”

LET’S check the latest Met Office data to see if “wetter winters and more intense summer downpours are disrupting the game at every level”…

ACROSS England, there is no trend, at all, for “wetter winters and more intense summer downpours.”

AL Jazeera is making up climate change falsehoods based on a strange ‘report’ that does not even exist…

CLASSIC fake news that will not be corrected and has already achieved its purpose of further brainwashing the masses into the belief that man-made ‘climate change’ is a foregone conclusion.

WHO are the real science “deniers”, propagandists and deceivers?




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


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Earth just had its 400th straight warmer-than-average month thanks to global warming (?)

This is a classic example of how to lie with statistics.  The 400 month figure is presented as an apparent proof of continued global warming.  It is equally consistent with continued plateauing or anything in between. It is in fact consistent with global warming having stopped. Judging by the satellite data, some initial annual warming was followed by plateauing.  So global warming has in fact stopped.  The annual temperature average rose slightly from about 1975 to 2000 and is now back at about the 2000 level

Amusing that they rely heavily below on monthly temperature levels.  Even in a year with an unchanged annual average temperature, monthly temperatures will vary greatly.  There is this thing called the "seasons", for a start.

It must be embarrassing for them that they have to report "the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year".   Only the 5th?  The earth must be COOLING!

Also interesting that in North America the temperature COOLED.  America has a dense network of temperature measuring stations so the temperature there is much harder to "fiddle"  LOL.  As in Orwell's "1984", Warmists revise history a lot, as that disrespectful climate archivist Tony Heller often documents

It was December 1984, and President Reagan had just been elected to his second term, Dynasty was the top show on TV and Madonna's Like a Virgin topped the musical charts.

It was also the last time the Earth had a cooler-than-average month.

Last month marked the planet's 400th consecutive month with above-average temperatures, federal scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

The cause for the streak? Unquestionably, it’s climate change, caused by humanity's burning of fossil fuels.

"We live in and share a world that is unequivocally, appreciably and consequentially warmer than just a few decades ago, and our world continues to warm," said NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt. "Speeding by a '400' sign only underscores that, but it does not prove anything new."

Climate scientists use the 20th-century average as a benchmark for global temperature measurements. That's because it's fixed in time, allowing for consistent "goal posts" when reviewing climate data. It's also a sufficiently long period to include several cycles of climate variability.

"The thing that really matters is that, by whatever metric, we've spent every month for several decades on the warm side of any reasonable baseline," Arndt said.

NOAA's analysis found last month was the 3rd-warmest April on record globally. The unusual heat was most noteworthy in Europe, which had its warmest April on record, and Australia, which had its second-warmest.

Portions of Asia also experienced some extreme heat: In southern Pakistan, the town of Nawabshah soared to a scalding 122.4 degrees on April 30, which may have been the warmest April temperature on record for the globe, according to Meteo France.

Argentina also had its warmest April since national records began there in 1961.

North America was the one part of the world that didn't get in on the heat parade. Last month, the average U.S. temperature was 48.9 degrees, 2.2 degrees below average, "making it the 13th-coldest April on record and the coldest since 1997," NOAA said.

For the year-to-date, the Earth is seeing its 5th-warmest start to the year.

A separate analysis of global temperature data from NASA also found last month was the third-warmest April on record.

Another milestone was reached in April, also related to the number "400": Carbon dioxide — the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming — reached its highest level in recorded history at 410 parts per million.

This amount is highest in at least the past 800,000 years, according to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.


“Evil” GE foods and “eco-friendly” organics

Misrepresentations by radical greens promote myths of GE dangers and organic benefits

Paul Driessen and Vijay Jayaraj

Across the globe, genetically engineered (GE) crops face opposition from environmental and organic food activists, who claim the crops harm the environment and endanger human health.

How factual are their claims? The evidence strongly supports GE over organic crops.

Not long ago, Vijay visited the Sprouts organic food store in San Jose, California. To his surprise, organic vegetables that had shorter shelf-life and higher risk of bacterial contamination and thus serious illness were priced two to ten times more than their GE and conventional food alternatives. The store is famous among millennial techies in the Silicon Valley and enjoys reasonable sales. One possible explanation would be the false notion that GE foods are risky or injurious to health; another is that buyers incorrectly believe organic produce have fewer pesticides, are more nutritious or better protect the environment.

But in science, neither a belief nor even a general “consensus” determines truth. A thousand people could claim the theory of gravity is wrong, but one simple scientific proof would prove their consensus false. Similarly, the safety of genetically modified foods cannot be determined by the increasingly vitriolic voices of anti-GE groups. It requires robust scientific testing by actual experts in various fields.

All the major GE foods currently on the market have been exhaustively tested and found to be safe for people, animals and the environment. Moreover, to date, Americans alone have consumed more than four trillion servings of foods with at least one GE ingredient – without a single documented example of harm to a person or the environment.

That is why more than 100 Nobel Laureates in chemistry, medicine and biotechnology have said GE foods are safe for human and animal consumption. That’s not an uninformed assertion or “consensus.” It is a professional, scientific conclusion based on thousands of risk assessment studies over several decades, as well as numerous real-world experiences.

Anti-GE activists typically use the term “genetically modified organisms” or GMOs, a pejorative coined simply to disparage the use of the most modern techniques. In fact, genetic engineering with molecular techniques is merely a more modern, rapid and precise way than traditional crop breeding methods to change or improve the genetic makeup of plants. It also enables scientists to enhance crops by introducing helpful properties like resistance to droughts, standing water or insects from one organism to another.

For example, corn varieties that integrate the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) gene right into plant tissue greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for spraying or dusting the crops with pesticides. Golden Rice incorporates two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes (Vitamin A precursors), one from daffodils, one from a soil bacterium, so that even malnourished people get sufficient Vitamin A to prevent blindness and death.

Organic farming prohibits modern manmade pesticides. But some are used surreptitiously anyway – and many organic farmers employ “natural” but still toxic pesticides like copper sulfate and neem oil. Though they oppose Bt-engineered crops, many spray live Bt bacteria on crops, killing good and harmful insects.

Studies by Stanford University and other researchers have found that “organic” fruits and vegetables actually have lower yields and are no more nutritious than conventional or GE alternatives.

However, certain organic practices, such as fertilizing with manure, have led to contamination with dangerous fungal toxins or listeria, salmonella or E. Coli bacteria. These problems are far more common in organic produce and can lead to serious intestinal illness, kidney failure, brain damage or even death.

It can fairly be said that the anti-GE war has reached levels that are ignorant, deceptive, and even fraudulent and lethal. Activist claims about the dangers of GE foods are baseless and without bona fide evidence. They ignore the many benefits of GE crops. Moreover, many of the groups and campaigns are funded, directly or indirectly, by the organic and natural food industries and allied foundations.

GE crops are environment friendly and promote sustainable agriculture, while potentially meeting the daily food demand of seven billion people globally. They allow farmers to produce more food, from less land, using less water and fewer pesticides, and with greater resistance to droughts, floods and climate change, than would be the case with conventional crops – and certainly with organic crops. They enable farmers to grow Golden Rice and other crops that prevent malnutrition, blindness and death in children.

By contrast, organic crops require more land, more water, more labor and higher farming expenses to generate the same produce. Expanding organic farms will thus cause additional loss of wildlife habitats in a time when we are trying to nurture and protect what is left of Earth’s natural habitats.

Tuskegee University professor, dean and biotech expert C.S. Prakash points out that the percentage of land used to grow crops has increased dramatically during the past 200 years, as humanity worked to provide nutritious foods for rapidly growing populations. The ideal solution to avoid deforestation, he says, is to use GE crops, which produce much more food per acre than their non-GE counterparts.

An ardent proponent of GE in the fight against poverty and disease, Dr. Prakash worries that the anti-GE campaigns will impede our efforts to provide sufficient, affordable food in many developing countries. Moreover, non-GE crops are susceptible to many insects and diseases that GE crops are resistant to.

Much of the most important work to improve food crops genetically was done by Norman Borlaug, using pre-molecular techniques. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for developing crop variants that helped billions avoid certain death during the food crises of the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, much of the wheat, maize (corn) and rice now consumed globally are Borlaug’s crops, which are disease resistant and high yielding.

GE crops are also more climate adaptive. New variants of rice and wheat are being designed to withstand extreme climatic and geographical conditions. One important example is wheat variants that withstand a whopping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which was practically unimaginable just a decade ago. This can make wheat cultivation far more productive in the 40% of world’s dryland surface where conditions are hostile to normal wheat varieties.

Health Canada and the United States Department of Agriculture recently approved Golden Rice and High Fibre Wheat, respectively, thereby continuing to embrace GE crops, as they have done for years. This pro-GE stance has been echoed by international governing institutions such as the United Nations and governments of major technologically innovative countries like Israel, China and India.

Although the number of organic farms is increasing in India, its food markets are largely dominated by crops that cannot be considered organic. Organic madness has nevertheless invaded parts of India. The Indian state of Sikkim recently branded itself “organic” by banning the entry and sale of more than 25 non-organic horticultural and agricultural products. That decision has caused widespread chaos, leaving families unable to afford cereals, fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be their staple foods.

It is time to progress from unfounded fears about GE foods – and begin educating government leaders and regulators, as well as domestic and global journalists, about the safety and benefits of GE crops.

Let us begin by asking: What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do environmentalists and organic food producers and advocates have that organic foods are safer, more nutritious or more eco-friendly than conventional or genetically modified varieties? What actual, replicable, peer-reviewed evidence do they have that GE crops have harmed people or the environment in any way?

Neither we nor Dr. Prakash nor any other agricultural experts we have spoken with can find any such evidence. If environmentalists and organic food proponents cannot provide solid evidence, they should end their deceitful pro-organic, anti-GE campaigns – or be compelled to do so by government agencies and courts of law that deal in facts and sound science, instead of allegations, innuendo and intimidation.

The billion dollars spent by radical environmentalists and the organic foods industry on campaigns against GE plants would have been far better spent on approving more GE crops, upgrading agricultural practices, providing more nutritious, affordable food, and improving lives all over the world.

The lies, demagoguery and destructive tactics of anti-GE groups are poisonous to the century-long effort to eradicate food poverty across the globe. These inhumane, lethal tactics can no longer be tolerated.

Via email

Fossil Fuel Funds Have Unlikely Investors: Environmental Icons

The latest dive into the Paradise Papers by U.S. reporters has discovered nonprofits making contradictory investments.

From a 34-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton to a herd of taxidermy elephants forever poised to charge, the American Museum of Natural History is a celebration of nature. Through its exhibits, website and other public education efforts, the New York City institution regularly encourages conservation and protecting the planet from climate change.

But, at least since 2009, the museum’s endowment fund has quietly invested millions in the oil and gas industry through an undisclosed stake in a private equity fund, reveals a report by NBC News, which joined the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a new Paradise Papers investigation examining the offshore investments of nonprofit organizations.

The museum invested $5 million in a fund run by Denham Capital, a private equity firm that invests in oil and gas, mining and power plants. That fund has pumped money into fracking for shale oil in Ohio and Pennsylvania and made an unsuccessful bid to invest in coal in Mongolia.

The museum is one of several prominent environmental nonprofits and foundations, including the World Wildlife Fund, whose investments in fossil fuels were uncovered by NBC and other partners in a collaboration with ICIJ in a new look at the Paradise Papers, a leaked trove of 13.4 million documents, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ. The files revealed how endowments, foundations and other nonprofits use offshore companies and undisclosed investments to obscure where their tax-exempt dollars are flowing.

The investigation showed nonprofits repeatedly making investments that contradict their missions and lobbying in state legislatures to increase the secrecy surrounding their investments.

NBC’s findings are part of a collaboration, dubbed Alma Mater, organized by ICIJ to examine the offshore investments of U.S. tax-exempt charitable organizations. Originally designed to investigate more than 100 universities whose endowments appeared in the Paradise Papers, the project expanded to include nonprofit museums, foundations and advocacy groups. It includes reporters in California, Montana, New York and Tennessee, working for outlets ranging from national television networks to city newspapers to an independent university publication.

Among the most striking findings were the investments by environmental groups in the fossil fuel industry. Not only the American Museum of Natural History, but also World Wildlife Fund, which states publicly that “we must urgently reduce carbon pollution,” invested in the Denham Capital fund, NBC News found.

The museum told NBC News that the investments represent “a small part of our overall program for managing the Museum’s endowment” and has noted in the past that it holds no direct stock in fossil fuel companies. It has been working since 2014 to reduce its fossil fuel investments. The World Wildlife Fund told NBC News that it is trying to unwind investments in oil and gas, and that, in the meantime, it has put money into a counter investment offered by a Deutsche Bank financial instrument which loses money when fossil fuel stocks rise and earns money when they fall.

While the museum and the World Wildlife Fund are working to cut back their investments in fossil fuels, other nonprofits have resisted.

A major foundation that supports environmental causes, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, has also turned to the energy sector. The Packard Foundation invested $50 million in a fund managed by U.S.-based private equity firm Energy Capital Partners that invests in oil and gas-related operations, NBC News found.

The Packard Foundation, which states on its website that it “invests in policies and projects to transform the use of fossil fuels around the world” with its grants, told NBC News that when it comes to its endowment it seeks to maximize gains on its investments and does not avoid fossil fuels.

Universities that have taken public stances in the fight against climate changes have also behaved differently when it came to investing their endowments. Earlier this year, the University of Washington was one of 13 universities that formed the University Climate Change Coalition, an initiative to reduce carbon emissions. Yet it invested $9 million in the Denham Capital fund, NBC News noted.

The University of Washington told NBC News that it had resolved in 2015 to divest from coal, but not from other fossil fuels.

The University of Montana, which has not made similar public pronouncements about climate change, also has invested in fossil fuels. The University of Montana Foundation sent $5 million in 2007 to a fund operated by private equity firm Coller Capital, which in turn invested in a joint venture including Royal Dutch Shell, reported the Montana Kaimin, the University of Montana’s independent student newspaper.

In a previous interview with the Montana Kaimin, University of Montana President Seth Bodnar declined to commit to divesting from fossil fuels but expressed openness to considering social responsibility in judging investments.

The University of Montana Foundation has invested more than $30 million in offshore funds, the Montana Kaimin reported.

Universities go offshore

Investments in private equity firms that finance the oil and gas industry are part of a broader shift in how universities manage their endowments. The search for higher returns has led universities to move away from traditional stocks and bonds and focus on “alternative investments,” which include hedge funds, private equity funds and venture capital.

The University of Tennessee’s turn to offshore alternative strategies includes shares in at least 19 funds with a combined value of more than $200 million as of June 2017, reported ICIJ’s partners at the Memphis Commercial Appeal. These investments represent about 20 percent of the endowment, while its investments in U.S.-based stocks and bonds has dropped to about 5 percent, the Commercial Appeal found.

Overall, the percentage of university endowments in alternative investments jumped from 20 percent in 2002 to 51 percent by 2014, according a 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service.

The push for secrecy

As they have embraced alternative investments and tax havens, some universities have also pushed to keep the activities of their endowments secret. Public universities, which are subject to Freedom of Information laws, have taken some of the strongest steps.

Last year, the Board of Regents of the University of Montana System, comprised of sixteen universities and colleges across the state, signed a new contract between the system and the foundation that manages its endowment. The contract included language allowing the foundation 20 days to block public records requests to the university system in order to seek a protective order, the Montana Kaimin reported.

The University of Tennessee also acted last year to keep its endowment’s activities secret. The university successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass a law allowing the university not to disclose the fees that it pays to the funds that invest its money or the identity of the companies that these funds ultimately invest in, reported the Commercial Appeal.

University of Tennessee Chief Investment Officer Rip Mecherle told the Commercial Appeal that its offshore investments were above board and “plain vanilla.” He said that he had personally helped draft the secrecy provision at the request of the university’s money managers and that some of the best investors insist on such secrecy rules as a condition of accepting a client.

Even without new secrecy provisions like those in Montana and Tennessee, universities and other nonprofits face little scrutiny as they seek to maximize returns on holdings as large as tens of billions of dollars. Sometimes the investments conflict with goals the tax-protected institutions have publicly embraced, the Paradise Papers revealed. More often, the destination of these tax-exempt investments remains hidden from view.


Pruitt’s latest move is making the EPA more efficient in the permitting process with civil service reforms

By Natalia Castro

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been plagued with inefficiency for years. The Partnership for Public Service has ranked the EPA 22 out of 23 ineffective leadership for a mid-sized agency for the last two years in a row. The Resource for the Future, an environmental, energy, and natural resource research institution, found that the average EPA permit process takes 420 days to complete.

But now, under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA is committed to fixing itself. Pruitt is taking the necessary steps to increase accountability and set clear guidelines for action. The EPA has already established over 400 metrics across all EPA programs and regional office that track monthly goals, created standardized methods of communicating monthly targets, integrated monthly business reviews for all senior leaders to review their office’s performance, and initiated new employee training.

Pruitt is also looking to hold the career employees at the agency accountable. The newly created Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) will ensure the policies that work in some areas of the department are implemented across the agency, and hopefully, act as a model for other agencies.

In a May 14, 2018 press briefing, EPA Chief Operating Officer Henry Darwin explains, the purpose of the new office is to coordinate the agency-wide implementation of the new EPA Lean Management System (ELMS).

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers noted in March 2016 ELMS has its roots in the automotive industry, Toyota created the Lean Management system to eliminate waste from manufacturing operations. Today, engineers and manufacturing leaders use Lean Management to create clear standards of quality and expedite timelines.

The OCI will universalize these ELMS standards across the agency and oversee their success with the goal of instituting full ELMS in 80 percent of agency units by September 30, 2020 and will require programs within the EPA to submit timelines for action and engage in monthly reviews of both regional and national programs to ensure deadlines are being kept.

While this might seem like an ordinary accountability standard in the private sector, Pruitt explained in the press briefing that the EPA has failed to conduct these program reviews for years.

Pruitt further explained, until this year, the EPA did not track the time it took to complete permit requests, did not track legal deadlines set by Congress, did not measure correction and compliance rates following known violations of agency guidelines, and did not measure the number of drinking water systems out of compliance with EPA rules.

Essentially, EPA management has had little to no accountability for when projects must finish or how actions must be corrected when projects are completed inadequately. Pruitt notes, this caused vast inconsistencies between regional branches, created a disengaged workforce, and fueled mismanagement.

The Office of Continuous Improvement will give the EPA the opportunity to rebuild their reputation of waste and inefficiency, and if successful, can be used across the federal government to improve agency efficiency. Our civil service employees must be held accountable for their work the way employees in the private sector are, and what better way to do that than implement a system that has worked for private manufacturers?


Poor People Are Getting Air Conditioning — Some Say That’s Bad For Climate Change

The number of air conditioners across the world is expected to triple by 2050, stoking fears that increasing indoor climate control will spur global climate change.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a Tuesday report, “The Future of Cooling,” on increasing demand for in-home cooling in the coming decades. Currently, 10 percent of the world’s energy is used for keeping buildings cool, but that amount is expected to rise as hot, developing countries gain access to air conditioners.

“As incomes and standards of living increase, more people will naturally want to buy and use air conditioners to keep cool,” the report states. “Wider access to cooling is necessary, bringing benefits to human development, health, well-being and economic productivity.”

“But it will have a significant impact on countries’ overall energy demand, putting pressure on electricity grids and driving up local and global emissions,” the report states.

The IEA proposes instituting performance standards on air conditioning units to make them more energy efficient. The cooling revolution can continue simultaneously combating the worst of the increase in emissions.

Instituting standards compliant with the Paris Climate Accords — a non-binding international agreement to cut emissions and combat climate change — could double the efficiency of the world’s fleet of AC units.

The standards may adversely impact those who need air conditioning the most. Implementing energy efficiency standards may cut the cost of energy over time but increases the up-front cost of installing new appliances, according to an April 2017 Heritage Foundation report.

“The up-front costs of a more expensive light bulb or appliance may not acutely impact a wealthy or middle-income family’s budget, but the real-world implications of regulations that increase energy costs and take choices away are nothing to dismiss — especially for the poor, who could be disproportionately and severely affected through these higher up-front costs,” the report states.




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