Sunday, August 07, 2005


(Most mercury in the environment is from natural sources)

An effort by environmental groups to block the Bush administration from implementing regulations on mercury pollution power plants was rejected by a federal appeals court. Without comment, Judges David Sentelle and Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a motion to halt immediately the regulations adopted in March by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The rules set a nationwide cap on mercury emissions from about 600 coal-burning power plants and puts a ceiling on allowable pollution for each state beginning in 2010. Individual plants, however, can avoid cleanups by buying pollution allowances from plants well under allowable limits.

Environmental and health advocacy groups plus 14 states have asked the appeals court to order EPA to rewrite the regulations to require that all plants install within the next three years the best available technology for cutting mercury pollution. In the meantime they asked the judges to set aside the regulations until the case can be heard. Sentelle and Brown refused to do that in an order filed late Thursday.

"The court's denial in no way diminishes the strength of our appeal," said Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the New Jersey attorney general's office. "We do expect to prevail on the merits." Other states challenging EPA's rules are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin. Advocacy groups Environmental Defense, National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club say EPA's regulations, written with the help of industry lobbyists, should force power plants to install technology to capture mercury emissions.

EPA officials maintain that the agency's approach will reduce mercury pollution from power plants in half by 2020, from 48 tons a year now to 24.3 tons, and eventually by 70 percent. "Obviously, it's a big win for us and means we can proceed with our rule," said Jeff Holmstead, EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation. "It's the first time any country has regulated mercury emissions from power plants." EPA estimates 300,000 babies born each year may have more risk of learning disabilities because of mercury concentrations in the blood of their mothers from eating fish from all over the world. "There's virtually no relationship between the number of children born with potentially elevated levels of mercury and U.S. power plants," Holmstead said. "It's only a very, very small number of people who are affected by local mercury depositions."


Way, Way Beyond Kyoto

In a surprise move that caught Europe's smug moralists and the environmental movement's noisy extremists flatfooted, the United States announced in Vientiane, Laos, last week that it was joining five other nations - China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia -- in a new pact that offers a refreshing and effective alternative route to tackling the problem of climate change.

While given short shrift by the puzzled media, this is a big deal, in many ways. First, it breaks the climate-change deadlock. This is the agreement that responsible scientists and public officials have been seeking since the failure of the Kyoto Protocol became evident at the global warming conclave in Delhi two years ago. Call it "Beyond Kyoto" - Way Beyond Kyoto.

Second, the new deal was negotiated and settled without the involvement of the United Nations or the European Union - a clear message from the United States that multilateralism does not have a single definition. In fact, according to The Guardian newspaper, the agreement - called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate -- was kept secret by President Bush from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an uncompromising champion of Kyoto, during last month's G8 meeting" in Scotland.

Third, the agreement comprises countries that account for 45% of the world's population and about half the world's economic output and greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, implicated in raising surface temperatures. More Asian countries may soon join the pact.

Fourth and most important, it takes a pro-growth approach to combating the possibility of global warming in the century ahead. The new Beyond Kyoto agreement focuses on innovative technology as the antidote, not only to carbon-dioxide emissions but also to dirty air and economic deprivation. The very first statement in the pact is: "Development and poverty eradication are urgent and overriding goals internationally."

That's a stark contrast with Kyoto's preference for hard CO2 targets, met through government directives, to reduce energy use. Development is an afterthought. Even its staunchest supporters now recognize that Kyoto, signed in 1997 and officially ratified last year, has no future. Many of the world's most prolific emitters of greenhouse gases, including China, India and South Korea, were exempt from the requirements of the protocol. The US and Australia have rejected it. And even noisy advocates, like France, Italy and Canada, are nowhere close to meeting the treaty's targets. The EU's emissions rose 3.6% between 2001 and 2004 (those in the US fell). To reach Kyoto's drastic goal of cutting emissions by 2012 to levels 5% below those of 1990, developed nations have no choice but to slash energy use. That means slower growth, even widespread recession, with especially dire consequences not just for rich nations, but, worse, for poor nations that rely on demand from the developed world for their goods and services.

The Beyond Kyoto pact, by contrast, seeks to "address energy, climate change and air pollution issues within a paradigm of economic development." Specifically, the deal will concentrate on the technology that will help China and India, especially, to increase the efficiency of their energy use. Currently, these countries produce twice as many emissions as the US for each unit of GDP. A major focus will be clean-coal technology. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal, with the world's largest supply, and China and Australia are also large producers and users. The deal also seeks more alternatives to fossil fuels with both low emissions and high efficiency - not just nuclear, wind, even biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Many professional environmentalists, for whom Kyoto is a matter of religious fervor, are disarmed and dismayed. "There's really nothing new here," said Jeff Fielder, an analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York. Fielder is right in one respect. The Bush administration has been quietly signing bilateral agreements for technology sharing for years now. But Vientiane is, absolutely, a new comprehensive approach to climate, and the Greens don't want to acknowledge its clear validity. "I think this is aimed at complicating the Montreal talks," Fielder added, referring to the 11th annual conference on global warming four months from now.

I've been to four of these extravaganzas - huge wastes of money and time. I am looking forward to Montreal, though. With the future-fearing Europeans bypassed by growth-loving Americans, Australians and Asians, there's a whole new world opening Beyond Kyoto.



Effects of Elevated CO2 on Forest Leaf Damage Produced by Insect Herbivores

Increases in per capita consumption of foliage by insect herbivores in CO2-enriched air have periodically been observed in laboratory and greenhouse studies (Bezemer and Jones, 1998; Coviella and Trumble, 1999; Hunter, 2001), leading to periodic claims that earth's forests will suffer severely at the mandibles of ravenous hordes of leaf-chewing insects in the years and decades to come, unless, of course, something is done to stop the ongoing rise in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration. However, as Knepp et al. (2005) have recently pointed out, these observations do not necessarily imply there will be increased insect herbivory in native forest communities in a CO2-enriched world of the future, citing the findings of Hamilton et al. (2004) in support of this contention; and they go on to describe the results of a study they conducted in just such a community using free-air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE) technology to further explore the subject.

In the Knepp et al. study, leaf damage by chewing insects was quantified on saplings of twelve species of hardwood trees growing in the understory of a 17-year-old (in 2000) loblolly pine plantation in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, USA, where three 30-m-diameter FACE plots have been continuously enriched with an extra 200 ppm of CO2 and three identical control plots have been similarly exposed to ambient air since 1996. Leaf damage was measured on seven species - Acer rubrum L. (red maple), Cercis Canadensis L. (redbud), Liquidambar styraciflua L. (sweetgum), Prunus serotina Ehrh. (black cherry), Quercus alba L. (white oak), Quercus phellos L. (willow oak), and Ulmus alata Michx. (winged elm) - in 2001, 2002 and 2003, while five additional species - Acer barbatum Michx. (sugar maple), Liriodendron tulipifera L. (yellow poplar), Quercus rubra L. (red oak), Quercus velutina Lam. (black oak) and Robinia pseudo-acacia L. (black locust) - were included in 2001 and 2003.

The six scientists involved in the work report that "across the seven species that were measured in each of the three years, elevated CO2 caused a reduction in the percentage of leaf area removed by chewing insects," noting that "the percentage of leaf tissue damaged by insect herbivores was 3.8% per leaf under ambient CO2 and 3.3% per leaf under elevated CO2." Greatest effects were observed in 2001, when they report that "across 12 species the average damage per leaf under ambient CO2 was 3.1% compared with 1.7% for plants under elevated CO2," which was "indicative of a 46% decrease in the total area and total mass of leaf tissue damaged by chewing insects in the elevated CO2 plots."

What was responsible for these highly positive results? Knepp et al. say that "given the consistent reduction in herbivory under high CO2 across species in 2001, it appears that some universal feature of chemistry or structure that affected leaf suitability was altered by the treatment." Another possibility they discuss is that "forest herbivory may decrease under elevated CO2 because of a decline in the abundance of chewing insects," citing the observations of Stilling et al. (2002) to this effect and noting that "slower rates of development under elevated CO2 prolongs the time that insect herbivores are susceptible to natural enemies, which may be abundant in open-top chambers and FACE experiments but absent from greenhouse experiments." In addition, they suggest that "decreased foliar quality and increased per capita consumption under elevated CO2 may increase exposure to toxins and insect mortality," also noting that "CO2-induced changes in host plant quality directly decrease insect fecundity," citing the work of Coviella and Trumble (1999) and Awmack and Leather (2002).

So what's the bottom line with respect to the outlook for earth's forests in a high-CO2 world of the future? In their concluding paragraph, Knepp et al. say that "in contrast to the view that herbivore damage will increase under elevated CO2 as a result of compensatory feeding on lower quality foliage, our results and those of Stiling et al. (2002) and Hamilton et al. (2004) in open experimental systems suggest that damage to trees may decrease."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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