As you read the amusing exercise in unbalanced reporting below, keep in mind Cryosphere's latest graph (below) of the Antarctic ice cover -- which shows that the sea ice extent in the Antarctic is very nearly 1 million square KM above the 20 year normal... Mustn't laugh! Only a Warmist would pretend not to know that as bits of the Antarctic ice break off, other bits grow. There's nothing static in nature
Retreat of glaciers in Antarctica due to climate change is happening more rapidly than expected, according a report by the USGS and the British Antarctic Survey release last Friday. The findings come on the heels of a study published last week in Geophysical Research Letters finding that Arctic sea ice could be completely gone in September by the late 2020’s — three times more quickly than previous estimates. (See this post in CEJournal for more information about that study.)
USGS geologist Jane Ferrigno and her colleagues are using satellite images, aerial photography and other data in an ongoing effort to map coastal areas of Antarctica. Their report, the first of several, examines Antarctica’s Larsen and Wordie Ice Shelves, and glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula.
A total of 7,264 individual measurements on 174 changing ice coastlines using data from 1940 to 2005 reveals dramatic changes: 82 percent of the ice coastlines studied have been in retreat, ranging from hundreds of meters to kilometers in extent. Only 18 percent have been static or have advanced.
In addition, Ferrigno and her colleagues documented for the first time that the Wordie Ice Shelf has completely disappeared. They also report that the Jones Ice Shelf has vanished, and the Mueller Ice Shelf is in retreat.
The most dramatic changes, however, have been the calving of an iceberg measuring more than 6,000 square kilometers from the Larsen C Ice Shelf; the rapid retreat between 1986 and 2000 of the Larsen B Ice Shelf; and the quick breakup of the remaining northern part of Larsen “B” in 2002.
The researchers pin the blame on dramatically rising temperatures. They cite research showing that the Antarctic Peninsula has been warming at a rate of 3.7~1.6°C per century, which is “an order of magnitude larger than the global mean warming rate of 0.6~0.2°C.”
“This continued and often significant glacier retreat is a wakeup call that change is happening in our Earth system and we need to be prepared,” Ferrigno, lead author on the study, said in a statement released by the USGS. “Antarctica is of special interest because it holds an estimated 91 percent of the Earth’s glacier volume, and change anywhere in the ice sheet poses significant hazards to society.”
The retreat of ice shelves is a possible precursor to the deglaciation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the researchers say. If that were to happen, sea level could rise 5 meters with catastrophic consequences for coastal areas around the world that are home to many tens of millions of people.
Ice shelves are believed to hold back glaciers, thereby slowing their march to the sea. So the worry is that with their disintegration, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could begin to collapse. Indeed, the researchers on the report point out that after the collapse of adjacent ice shelves, many tributary glaciers began flowing to the sea faster, and the glacier surface began to drop, “confirming the buttressing role of the ice shelves.”
A paper published recently in Nature said the process could actually take a thousand or more years. So it will be interesting to see how the observations described in the USGS/BAS report square with the modeling in the Nature paper. (See this post in CEJournal for an analysis of news coverage of the Nature paper.)
The researchers conclude with one of the most astonishing warnings I have read in a paper of this kind: “The map portrays one of the most rapidly changing areas on Earth, and the changes in the map area are widely regarded as among the most profound, unambiguous examples of the effects of global warming on Earth"
Plants and trees are growing faster because of rising carbon dioxide levels
This may well be true and I hope it is but it is also irrelevant -- because although CO2 levels are rising, temperatures are not, sadly for the Warmists. Reality is busting their most central belief
Plants and trees are growing faster because of rising carbon dioxide levels, potentially buying Earth more time to address global warming, according to scientists. The phenomenon has been discovered in a variety of flora, ranging from tropical rainforests to British sugar beet crops. It means they are soaking up at least some of the billions of tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere by humans that would otherwise be accelerating the rate of climate change.
Plants survive by extracting CO2 from the air and using sunlight to convert it into proteins and sugars.Since 1750 the concentration in the air has risen from of CO2 278 parts per million (ppm) to more than 380 ppm, making it easier for plants to acquire the CO2 needed for rapid growth. A study by the University of Leeds, published in the science journal Nature, measured the girth of 70,000 trees across 10 African countries and compared them with similar records made four decades ago. On average, the trees were getting bigger faster and researchers found that each hectare of African forest was trapping an extra 0.6 tons of CO2 a year compared with the 1960s. If this is replicated across the world's tropical rainforests they would be removing nearly 5 billion tons of CO2 a year from the atmosphere.
Scientists have been looking for a similar impact on crop yields and the experiments generally suggest that raised CO2 levels would boost the yields of mainstream crops, such as maize, rice and soy, by about 13 per cent.
Professor Martin Parry, head of plant science at Rothamsted Research, Britain's leading crop institute, said: "There is no doubt that the enrichment of the air with CO2 is increasing plant growth rates in many areas."The problem is that humans are releasing so much that plants can remove only a fraction of it," he said. Humans are believed to generate about 50 billion tons of the gas each year.
However, scientists have warned against drawing false comfort from such findings. They point out that although levels will boost plant growth, other factors associated with climate change, such as rising temperatures and drought [Drought?? Then what's all that thunderous rainfall I keep hearing outside my window?], are likely to have a negative effect. Fred Pearce, environment consultant for New Scientist, said: "We know that trees do absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and about half is taken up from nature and half of that is by forests. But it doesn't change the story greenhouse gases are accumulating more than 2 per cent a year. It won't buy us much time as humans are releasing much more CO2 into the air, but it is useful information if it helps to protect existing forests."
No Wonder Climate Alarmists Refuse to Debate
When you hear the names Al Gore and James Hansen in the same sentence you immediately assume the subject to be manmade global warming panic. But there’s another distinction which links these two – they both steadfastly refuse to defend their positions in formal debate. And a recent performance by one of their own in just such a venue reminds us why.
Roll Call TV has just posted video of the March 27th debate they hosted between Marc Morano, former communications director for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), and Climate Progress's Joe Romm. Part one begins here at about the 3:45 mark and Part two begins here directly. The two philosophical adversaries arguing the heated subject of “Green Politics” makes for a fabulous show -- a must-see for all, particularly those still unsure why it is that the overwhelming majority of climate alarmists always find some excuse not to directly confront opposing opinion. And Romm wasted no time leaving no doubt, issuing these clumsily over the top words almost out of the gate: [my emphasis]
“On our current emissions path we are going to warm the United States 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century and sea level rise will be 5 feet or higher and a third of the planet will be desert.”
And just moments after grossly exaggerating the already hyped predictions of his fellow climate hysterics, he actually summoned the insolence to say that “the thing you have to understand about Marc Morano is that he basically makes stuff up and misrepresents science.” An accusation he’d later repeat and broaden to include Morano’s ex-boss and, ultimately, anyone else not buying the hype Romm and his accomplices have been selling door-to-door these many years.
Granted, self-reflection has never been an inherent trait amongst climate alarmists, but consider Romm’s own blatant fabrications and misrepresentations in the three predictions of his opening salvo.
Even the overly venerated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) predicted that climate sensitivity (change in mean global temperatures resulting from a sustained doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration) would likely range between 2 and 4.5°C, and would most probably border on 3°C.
Based on his syntax, Romm implies future warming -- which translates to a 90 year period. Yet to achieve Romm’s lowest warming figure of 10°F (5.8°C) even at AR4’s highest sensitivity figure of 4.5°C, would require more than doubling the current level of 386ppm in just 9 decades, which is beyond absurd. Keep in mind that in the 50 years between 1958 and 2008, atmospheric carbon dioxide, as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, rose only 70ppm.
Sure, Romm repeated his Bizzaro World claim that the politically-motivated IPCC predictions are actually “watered-down.” But does he really believe there’ll be a greater than fivefold greenhouse gas acceleration in less than a century, even after all that capping-and-trading Europeans have selflessly suffered through to save the planet? And yet – he charges -- it’s people like Marc Morano who simply make stuff up.
And from what sci-fi flick did Romm draw his assertion of a 5 foot or higher sea level rise? Referring again to AR4, even the IPCC’s intentionally alarm-biased models only projected figures running from 0.18 to 0.59 meters by 2100. But people like Marc Morano misrepresent science in order to spread their bogus gospel.
Now we come to the final eight words of Romm’s fantastic sentence. A third of the planet will be desert. This one is either intentionally vague, just plain dumb, or both. For starters, only one-third of the planet is landmass, and that’s before much of it is drenched by Romm’s fantasy waves of runaway sea elevation. Is he suggesting that in a mere 90 years the entire landmass of the planet will be an arid, hostile, lizard infested wasteland?
On the other hand, perhaps I’m being unfair and misunderstanding his meaning. Perhaps he actually meant that one-third of dry land will be reduced to desert by 2100. Of course, that would still be horrible news because ……. Wait a minute, according to the US Geological Survey, approximately one-third of the Earth's land surface already is desert. So Romm is either predicting no change whatsoever or a complete Terradeformation in a time-span even Star-Trek engineers would be proud of. Unless, of course, he hasn’t given it much thought at all but hopes the media and most citizens will continue to ignore what truth hides beneath the shocking imagery.
Morano couldn’t help laughing at Romm’s unrelentingly silly exaggerations. Indeed, after coming out hurling pejoratives and 41 words of utter nonsense early in the opening round, you’d expect Romm to drop the hyperbole and smug manner and put up his intellectual dukes once Morano began scoring point after rational point. But while Marc calmly cited contrarian scientists and the perils of fraudulently inspired policy, Joe continued to make extraordinary claims, including that wind power produces more new jobs than coal mining, as though oblivious that they fuel 2 versus 50 percent of America’s energy, respectively.
And so it went -- virtually every cogent point made by Morano was met not with reasoned retort but rather polemical blather and name calling. And from Dr. Joseph J. Romm -- one the alarmists’ most revered minds.
Watching them squabble, it’s impossible to ignore just how many times Romm put his hysterical size 10 in his mouth as Morano calmly cleaned his clock. But let’s give the guy kudos for showing up – for that alone distinguishes him as unique to his breed.
Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Marlo Lewis once noted: “The alarmists claim all the evidence supports their theory, but the only way they can prove that is to actually show up for a debate and win. If they are afraid to publicly debate and scientifically defend their assertions, it is a good indication who they fear will win the debate.”
Exactly the reason that Gore and Hansen have both declined invitation after invitation to defend their imminent climate catastrophe assertions. And a decade of zero-discernable warming, recent reliable predictions of multi-decadal cooling and Joe Romm’s gutsy but clumsy losing performance will surely do little to persuade them otherwise.
But will the public abide additional financial hardships based on projections by so-called experts and policy makers who insist that “the debate is over” yet have never actually managed to win a single one? Last week’s heavily bi-partisan Senate vote to deny Obama’s carbon tax plan fast-track status suggests that most lawmakers don’t believe they will. And as public acceptance gradually fades, which polls continue to assert, so do the specters of both national and America-constrained international cap-and-trade. Of course, many will find that debatable.
CHINA HAS OBAMA BY THE GOOLIES
Top Chinese negotiator Tuesday urged developed countries to give more commitments and support to developing countries in fighting climate change. Su Wei, Chinese delegation chief to the UN climate change talks in Bonn, made the call in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. The Bonn conference, which started on March 29 and will last till April 8, is the first of a series of UN climate change talks this year, which is aimed to pave the way for an ambitious and effective international climate change deal to be reached in Copenhagen in December.
Su said the success of the Copenhagen summit lies in whether or not the developed countries would make "substantial arrangements" for transferring climate-friendly technologies to and providing funds for developing countries. Su noted the establishment of three international "mechanisms" is very important among the "substantial arrangements." "The first is to set up an international mechanism on climate-friendly technology development and transfer, to eliminate barriers hindering technology transfer, so that developing countries can get access to such technologies," he said.
"Secondly, we should set up an effective financing mechanism to ensure the developed countries provide adequate funds for developing countries in their bid to cut emissions and fight climate change," he added.
Thirdly, Su said an "effective supervision mechanism" should beset up to monitor the above-mentioned technology transfer and funding.
Su said the time for the UN climate change talks is "pressing" as the Copenhagen conference is just eight months away. According to Su, the Copenhagen conference has two tasks. One is to set the mid-term emission reduction targets for developed countries, that is, developed countries as a whole should commit to making 25-40 percent cuts below 1990 levels by 2020. The other is to make substantial arrangements for the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in accordance with the Bali Roadmap.
Su said during the past two centuries, developed countries have made unbridled emissions of green-house gas, a major cause of global climate change, and developing countries are major victims of climate change. Hence, developed countries have the duties and responsibilities to cut emissions and offer help to developing countries, he said, noting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has notified the responsibilities of developed countries, but they failed to make progress in the implementation over the past decade. Su also pointed out the key to striking a deal in Copenhagen lies in the "political will" of developed countries.
During the current talks in Bonn, the U.S. delegation had presented the position of the Obama administration on climate change, promising to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by roughly 15 percent from current levels by 2020. "It is an encouragement and we welcome it. This means substantial policy change on climate change by the new U.S. administration," said Su. However, Su said the targets set by the White House is still far shy of the goals set by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which asks the United States to reduce the emissions to the 1990 levels by 2000. Su also said the positions of the European Union (EU) and Japan were "positive" in the Bonn talks.
As for China, Su said the Chinese government attaches vital importance to fighting climate change and a series of substantial measures have been put into practice. In 2007, a national leading group on climate change, headed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, was set up to oversee all issues relevant to climate change. On the same year, the Chinese government issued the National Climate Change Program, the first of its kind ever issued by China, which works out the strategies and measures to tackle climate change. "The Chinese government has actively participated in international talks on climate change and we have presented our own proposals on nearly every relevant issue," Su said. "China has played and is playing a positive and constructive role in international talks on climate change," Su added.
Benny Peiser comments:
I'm afraid Obama’s climate policy is likely to turn into an extremely damaging lose-lose situation for the U.S. – both in terms of economic and political liabilities. Why? Because unless the U.S. is prepared to transfer $100 billion or more in cap-and-trade revenues to the developing world (p.a.), neither China nor India will agree to join any climate treaty. No matter what unilateral climate targets the U.S. Senate is ready to approve, the developing world will never give up on its demand for recompense, hard cash and free technology. Why? Because Western governments, by hyping up a global warming frenzy, have fully accepted their historical culpability and the “carbon debt” they owe the rest of the world. If, on the other hand, the Obama administration rebuffs developing countries and refuses to pay up, the U.S. is almost certain to further erode its international standing and influence.
Let me repeat what I wrote a year ago about the inevitable consequence of this self-destructive entanglement: “As a result of promoting environmental alarmism, Western governments find themselves trapped in a perilous, yet largely self-constructed catch. As long as climate change is elevated as the principal liability of industrial countries, as long as Western CO2 emissions are blamed for exacerbating natural disasters, death and destruction around the globe, green pressure groups and officials from the developing world will continue to insist that the West is liable to recompense its exorbitant carbon debt by way of wealth transfer and financial compensation. Ultimately, there is now a growing risk that the whole global-warming scare is creating more anti-Western hostility and further loss of influence on the international stage.”
Auntie’s Tall Tale Of Daddy Long Legs
It’s always fun to trace the chain of Chinese whispers between primary research and scary news stories about the ravages of climate change. Many BBC science stories are particularly easy to trace back to source, based as they are on a single scientific paper, from which they are separated by only a single press release. But even when the whisper chain is a short one, there is plenty of room for the distortion of sobre science to alarmist headline, especially when the press release contains everything you need for the job. So it was with the BBC’s ‘Bid to aid daddy longlegs numbers’ published on Thursday:
Climate change is killing off cranefly and in turn threatening the survival of upland wild bird species that feed on them, RSPB Scotland has warned.
The Telegraph also reported the story:
Daddy longlegs decline could spell extinction for golden plover
So did the Daily Mail, which isn’t even supposed to believe in this new-fangled climate change business:
Warmer summers ‘killing off daddy long legs and beloved British birds’
And Science Daily:
Drop In Daddy Long Legs Is Devastating Bird Populations
All the stories drew entirely from a press release issued by RSPB Scotland, which they have simply condensed and bolted on their own introduction and headline. (Science Daily also spliced in an extra quote from a co-author of the research paper). Here’s the headline of the presser:
Warmer weather pummels plovers
Craneflies - better known in the UK, at least, as daddy longlegs - are gangly insects that appear en masse in temperate regions for a few weeks in spring, providing a bonanza food source for breeding birds and other predators. Judging by the news stories, climate change is killing them off by drying out the soil in which their larvae live, which is in turn killing off the birds that rely on them.
But according to the research paper, published in the journal Global Change Biology, it is far from clear that golden plovers are even declining, let alone being ‘killed off’, ‘pummeled’ or ‘devastated’, as shown in the paper’s Figure 5:
The data represent just a single, small population. But neither is there much evidence that golden plovers are undergoing a national, European or global decline. Lead author of the paper, Dr James Pearce-Higgins of RSPB Scotland, confirmed this when we spoke to him on the phone.
The population studied by Pearce-Higgins and his colleagues sits on the southern edge of the species’ range in the English Peak District. This was by design, in that the intention was to examine how global temperature rises might affect species distributions. While evidence is accumulating that many species expand their ranges northwards in response to a warming trend (in the Northern Hemisphere), evidence for predicted contractions at the southern limit of species’ ranges is sparse. But even in what might be expected to be a particularly sensitive population, there is no downward trend in plover numbers over the last 35 years, despite a local rise in mean August temperatures of 1.9C over that period.
That is not to say, however, that temperature rises are not having an effect on the population. Pearce-Higgins et al have developed a model that does seem to explain much of the variation in plover numbers over the 35-year period. The model integrates previous work by the group, which found that plover mortality rises in cold winters, with new data showing that high August temperatures kill off cranefly larvae leading to fewer adults emerging the following spring when the birds are feeding their chicks. So, rising temperatures are a double-edged sword for plovers. Mild winters increase survival, but hot summers reduce breeding success. The model suggests that there might have been a switch in the relative importance of these two effects in recent years, with spring food availability becoming a more important determinant than winter temperature of population size.
There remains, of course, a lot of unexplained variability in the system, and Pearce-Higgins is reticent to attribute any short-term population fluctuations to specific effects:
From about the mid-’90s to mid-2000s, when the time series stops, there’s actually - although we don’t put this in the paper - there’s actually a significant decline in golden plover numbers [...] I guess I was being cautious really, in terms of attributing the decline to what’s going on, particularly as, if you look across the whole of the UK, there isn’t much evidence of a golden plover population decline, and I’m very well aware that lots of other factors are affecting their population [...] If you take the trend from the mid-90s through to when we finish about 2005, there is a decline there, but obviously that’s an arbitrary cut-off.
So, all the news stories - and, indeed, the RSPB’s own press release - are wrong to suggest that climate change is reducing plover populations. While they all treat the issue in the present tense, as if golden plovers are being devastated by climate change in the here and now, the only evidence of population decline presented by paper comes from the application of the model to future population trends.
The researchers take the 1.9C local temperature rise over the past 35 years and extrapolate it over the next 100 years. The resulting rise of 5.2C above the 1971-2005 mean would, according to their model, result in a 96% chance of extinction of the population. A 1.9C local rise in August mean temperatures would seem very large, however, when global temperatures have increased by 1C over the past century, and it’s certainly much bigger than the rise in temperature experienced by central England over the same period.
The researchers also apply their model to a range of other temperature scenarios:
In other words, things have to get pretty warm before even a small population on the edge of the species’ range starts to feel the heat. And yet it is only the extrapolation of the 1.9C rise that makes it into the press release and, therefore, the news stories.
Not only have news reports confused current declines with possible declines in the future, but they deal only with an apparently unrepresentative worst-case scenario, and they apply data from a single population at the southern extremity of the species’ range to the species as a whole to announce that a species that isn’t even declining is being driven to extinction.
Given that all the news coverage of the paper was based almost verbatim on the press release, it is perhaps surprising that Pearce-Higgins is happy with how the RSPB presented the research:
I don’t think the press release is particularly misleading really
‘That’s the challenge’ he says,
to try to get across what is quite a complicated message, but with an important underlying message, in a way that is acceptable to the media, but that also does justice to the science.
Readers can make up their own minds whether the RSPB press release does justice to the science. But it certainly seems to have been acceptable to the media, who didn’t need to look any further to get their alarmist climate stories. One particular quote in the RSPB press release proved particularly attractive, being used by the BBC, Telegraph and Daily Mail. It’s from Pearce-Higgins:
This is the most worrying development that I have found in my scientific career to date.
Perhaps that’s what he means by the ‘important underlying message’.
THE RED AND BLUE OF CALIFORNIA AB 32 - ALL POWER CORRUPTS, BUT WE NEED THE ELECTRICITY (AND CLEAN AIR)
Ambrose Bierce in The Devil's Dictionary satirically defined electricity as the power that causes all natural phenomena not known to be caused by something else. This definition seems apt for California Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32, which mandates shifting to much costlier forms of green energy, is not about Global Warming or Green Power at all. It would not have a chance of success in greenie California without its environmental mythology.
What AB 32 is all about is passing along the costs of cleaning the air in California by restructuring the regional political economy of western Red versus Blue states and creating new government energy enterprises similar to Fannie Mae and Indy-Mac Bank in the financial sector.
The provisions of AB 32 are broad and include creating a carbon market with a cap and trade scheme. Additionally it mandates that public and municipal utilities must gradually ramp up to provide a third or more of their energy from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal power rather than imported coal-fired power.
AB 32 has nothing to do with "global warming" contrary to both its proponents and opponents. To understand what AB 32 really is one must go back in time to understand air quality regulation in California . For air quality has been the apparent driver of many of California 's environmental and electricity regulatory disasters, such as the contamination groundwater with the chemical MTBE and the Electricity Crisis of 2001.
We Were Running Out of Sky, Not Energy
In the 1960's, smog was so bad in Southern California that you couldn't even see the mountains from the foothills on a hot August day. Home builders knew they eventually couldn't sell new tract homes in the future in places like Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga , which were regional cul-de-sacs for regional smog, unless air quality was improved.
In 1960, the Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board was established. In 1963, the Federal Clean Air Act was enacted providing grants, and de facto control, over pollution control districts.
In 1966, auto tailpipe standards were established for the first time in the nation. In 1967, the Federal Air Quality Act was adopted and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was created by merger of other departments. 1970 heralded the first Earth Day and the Federal Clean Air Act Amendments granting statutory authority to control air pollution. Most importantly, in 1972 California 's Air Quality Implementation Plan was rejected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Oil Embargo of 1973 brought about smaller, more efficient cars and relatively lower air emissions. By 1975, catalytic converters were mandated on all vehicles.
In 1974, the Southern California Edison Company and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California bought 5000-acres of the ocean floor off the former oil field at Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach to jointly build a nuclear power plant and water desalting plant on a man-made island. The project was abruptly abandoned due to the reaction of the newly growing environmental movement. NIMBY ocean views and wetlands became more important than electricity, water, or oil extraction. Is it any surprise that California periodically has energy and water crises as everything must pay homage to the clean air god. Like the ancient religion of the Roman Empire, it is how the elites, the professionals and the specialists stay in power.
In order to meet air quality standards in the mid 1980's, many cities in Southern California shut down or downsized old fossil fuel power plants and shifted to reliance on imported electricity from out of state coal and gas-fired power plants. Much of that natural gas was supplied from gas fields and pipelines from Texas . The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, together with other cities (Pasadena , Glendale , Burbank , Anaheim , etc.) facilitated the construction of the Intermountain Power Coal-Fired Power Plant in Utah . This outsourced power production shifted air pollution elsewhere. The price of improving the air quality was the outsourcing of money, jobs and air pollution to surrounding (mostly Red) states.
In 1984, Smog Check went into place on most vehicles.
All importantly, in 1996, the Clinton-run EPA mandated that California clean up smog by no later than 2001, or it would cut-off Federal funds for highways, schools, etc. to the state.
California had only one real option available to meet the 2001 EPA clean air deadline: mothball old polluting fossil fuel power plants or sell off old plants and allow new investors to retrofit them with cleaner natural gas power. However, the mortgages (bonds) on the old power plants now had no way of being paid off. This triggered so-called electricity deregulation as a scheme to pay off the stranded debt.
In the year 2000, Southern California had for the first time in ten years only one Stage 1 Smog Alert. As a result of the shut down of old polluting power plants, the mountains became visible for the first time in a decade.
CARB mandated in 1999 that a chemical, MTBE, be added to gasoline to reduce automobile emissions and improve air quality. MTBE leaked from underground gas tanks and contaminated groundwater supplies resulting in costly clean ups and the mothballing of old independent gas stations until double-walled gas tanks could be installed. As of April 1, 2009, CARB is threatening to shut down independent gas stations again. This time it is for failure to install new low vapor emitting nozzles at a cost of $8,000 per nozzle!
In 2001 California experienced an historical electricity crisis involving rolling blackouts and sky rocketing electricity rates. Finally, new Governor Schwarzenegger rolled the stranded debts on the bonds of the old decommissioned power plants into a $40 billion bond issue to be paid from the revenue stream of over-market prices on long-term electricity contracts. Enron was scapegoated as the cause of the 2001 energy crisis originally caused by air quality regulation in response to public demand to eliminate smog.
The Global Warming Solutions Act
By 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger had signed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. Today, public and municipal utilities are scrambling to enter contracts with wind and solar farms and geothermal power plants to meet the AB 32 deadlines. Most of these new sources of power are located within California.
Clean hydropower and nuclear power, and relatively clean natural gas, were not considered Green Power under AB 32 because that would mean out-of-state power producers could simply shift from dirty coal power to cleaner sources of power to export electricity to California. And California could not tolerate having clean and cheaper conventional sources of power qualify as Green Power because that would not stop the hemorrhaging of money and jobs to nearby (Red) western states.
What AB 32 is all about is the restructuring of the electricity market in Blue-State California so that it is no longer as dependent on cheap imported sources of energy from Red States ( Utah , Arizona , Oregon , Idaho , Nevada , Texas , etc.).
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