Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dormouse craziness in Britian

Development blocked because dormice MIGHT be there -- even though there is no sign of any

The humble dormouse is potentially standing in the way of the development of a £12m Morrisons supermarket in Wadebridge, Cornwall.

Morrisons, one of three retailers proposing sites around the town, wants to build a store on the local football club ground. To gain permission it has offered to provide a replacement ground at nearby Bodieve. But the possibility that dormice, a European Protected Species, are inhabiting that site has led planning officers to recommend the council refuse permission.

The local planning officer said the football club development should be refused as "there is a reasonable likelihood of dormice being present".

Although no dormice have been found, they have been spotted 2km away. The local planning committee meets to rule on Morrisons' application on Thursday.

Stephen Frankel, a spokesman for campaign group Love Wadebridge, said: "These companies are very powerful. They want to ignore us, but it seems they cannot ignore our dormice."

Morrisons said it had commissioned a local ecologist to carry out a dormouse survey. It said it had asked Cornwall Council to defer its decision on its planning application until the survey had been completed.

A spokesperson said: "At this stage, no evidence has been produced to show there is a dormouse presence on the site. However, our scheme, should it be granted consent, would provide for a significant amount of new dormouse habitat."


British businesses facing a wave of green taxes

Thousands of British businesses will be liable for significant fines and charges under a new government “green tax” scheme. Companies that fail to register their energy use by next month will be hit with fines that could reach £45,000 under the little-known rules.

Those that do participate in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) initiative by declaring their energy use will face charges for every ton of greenhouse gas they produce. These payments are expected to average £38,000 a year for medium-sized firms, and could reach £100,000 for larger organisations.

Surveys have shown that thousands of businesses are unaware they are supposed to be taking part, or even that the scheme exists at all.

The imposition of new charges and fines will put pressure on firms at a time when economists are warning of a “double dip” recession as companies, consumers and the public sector all cut their spending.

Business leaders criticised the CRC — which was created by Labour but implemented by the Coalition — as “complex and bureaucratic”. One accused ministers of swinging “a big hammer” at companies and questioned whether it would have any environmental benefits.

Under the scheme, any company or public sector organisation that consumes more than 6,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy a year – meaning a power bill of about £500,000 – must register its energy use by the end of next month. From April, firms will need to buy permits for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted. For those using 6,000MWh, that could mean £38,000.

The scheme is intended to create a financial incentive to cut energy use, and those organisations that record the biggest reductions will get bonuses, funded by penalties imposed on those with the worst record.

Of about 4,000 organisations estimated to qualify for the scheme, only 1,229 have registered to date, leaving thousands at risk of fines. Missing the Sept 30 deadline will mean an immediate £5,000 fine, and £500 for each day after that, up to a maximum of £45,000.

Another 15,000 smaller organisations are also required to register and could be expected to buy permits in the future. If they miss the September deadline, they face fines of £500.

WSP Environment & Energy, a consultancy firm, estimated that a total of 7,500 businesses would miss the deadline.

Greg Barker, the energy and climate change minister, who is overseeing the scheme said yesterday: “I understand the original complexity of the scheme may have deterred some organisations and I want to hear suggestions as to how we can make the scheme simpler in the future.”

Executives and business groups said that the scheme had been poorly communicated and publicised, leaving many companies in the dark.

One recent survey suggested that 53 per cent of executives had not even heard of the CRC and did not know whether their firm was affected.

The Environment Agency, which will run the scheme for the Government, has refused even to publish a list of the companies that are required to register, citing the Data Protection Act.

The Coalition is pressing ahead with the CRC despite Conservative pledges to cut red-tape on businesses.

Business groups said the paperwork and costs involved in complying with the CRC scheme could put a significant new burden on companies already struggling in an uncertain economic climate. The Bank of England is expected to underline fears about the economy today with forecasts for faltering economic growth and persistent inflation.

Yesterday, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply reported a slowdown in British manufacturing exports to Europe.

Bob Jarrett, of the BHF-BSSA Group, a trade body that represents thousands of independent shops, said ministers had not done enough to explain or justify the CRC. “We’ve only come across this in the last few weeks, and yet the deadline is at the end of next month. The Department for Energy has not given this nearly enough publicity,” he said.


What the Chinese really think of 'Man Made Global Warming'

One of the great lies told us by our political leaders in order to persuade us to accept their swingeing and pointless green taxes and their economically suicidal, environmentally vandalistic wind-farm building programmes is that if we don’t do it China will. Apparently, just waiting to be grabbed out there are these glittering, golden prizes marked “Green jobs” and “Green technologies” – and if only we can get there before those scary, mysterious Chinese do, well, maybe the West will enjoy just a few more years of economic hegemony before the BRICs nations thwack us into the long grass.

This is, of course, utter nonsense. The Chinese do not remotely believe in the myth of Man-Made Global Warming nor in the efficacy of “alternative energy”. Why should they? It’s not as if there is any evidence for it. The only reason the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming myth has penetrated so deeply into Western culture is… No. I’m going to save that stuff for my fairly imminent (Nov?) book on the subject which I hope you’re all going to buy.

What do the Chinese think about CAGW? Well, until now it was largely a question of educated guesswork, based on inferences like the fact that it was the Chinese who derailed the Copenhagen negotiations. But thanks to a new book called Low Carbon Plot by Gou Hongyang we know exactly what the official view is.

Ozboy – one of the finest commenters in this parish as well as proprietor of the Liberty Gibbet website – sets the scene nicely:
The argument [that China leads the world in renewable energy technology investment] rings a little hollow when you consider Beijing plans to build coal-fired power stations at the equivalent rate of one Australia, per year, for the next twenty-five years. The reputed Chinese fascination with renewable energy looks at best, a very long-term fallback position; at worst, a façade.

That’s what makes what you’re about to read even more startling. It’s a book called Low Carbon Plot, by Gou Hongyang and, as it’s freely available in China’s government-controlled bookstores, carries Beijing’s nihil obstat. No English translation is currently available, but our own China correspondent, Locusts, has translated the introduction from the original Mandarin, and (not entirely without risk to himself) has asked me to make it publicly available on this forum. At four thousand words, it’s a little long to insert onto a blog page, but you can navigate to it from the Rare Scribblings menu option at the top, or just click here.

It’s not so much an eye-opener as it is a bombshell. If true, it shows the Chinese government as rejecting CAGW in its entirety, believing it a conspiracy between Western governments and business to protect their own way of life, at the expense of the entire developing world—in other words, 80% of the world’s population.

Ozboy does not exaggerate. Here, for example, is the author’s damning verdict on the Climate Change industry. Noting the irony of the spate of freezing cold weather that greeted the Copenhagen summit, the author wrily notes:
It was as if the freezing cold winter was having a laugh at all of these “Global Warming” theories. If the world was warming at an ever quickening pace, as all of these environmentalists say, then whence from such extreme cold? Whenever there are any doubts about Global Warming, it is almost as though environmentalists turn everything around and claim that this is too, a result of Global Warming. The Greenhouse Effect has turned in to a big basket, no matter what bad thing it is, just chuck it in.

He is even more damning about solar power in which, let it not be forgotten, China is supposed to be the world’s most shining example of just how well it can work. First, he neatly captures the wishy-washy, John-Clare-esque pastoral utopianism which drives greenies to throw commonsense out of the window and pursue “renewable energy” regardless of all the facts:
Isn’t this the most beautiful thought possible, no pollution, everywhere is just greenery mountains and rivers, people won’t need to worry about coal mines collapsing, no need to worry about forests being chopped down, no need to worry about rising sea levels submerging island nations. It is as if, if only humanity could adopt clean energy, then all of our problems would be resolved with one sweep of the knife. But is the result really thus?

There is a very real problem staring everybody in the face. Solar power, wind power, can they be implemented on a large scale? Can they provide large scale industries with enough electricity? Can they supply trains with the power to fly along the tracks?

It is obvious, that the answer is in the negative.

He then – rather daringly, I think – weighs into the environmental unsoundness of this supposedly clean energy source:
Is solar power really clean? Investigations show that the base silicon that solar panels rely on is extracted via a energy intensive, heavily polluting industry. And where is this industry based? China.

China has already become the world’s biggest photovoltaic industrial market. The most important ingredient in solar power is polycrystalline silicon. The efficiency of manufacturing the panels is rather low, and a lot of pollution is generated as a by-product. When local industries started producing polycrystalline silicon, they were mostly reliant on outdated technology. Apart from high energy consumption, for every ton of pure polycrystalline silicon created, there were also more than 8 tons of ammonium chlorid[adized] silcon as by-product, as well as [other shit that a cursory look at google translate doesn't answer].

The prosperity of China’s solar power industry, at the price of the environment of those rather weak distant regions, in order to attract commerce and investment, in order to collect tax revenue, very many environmental appraisal programmes have not yet been strictly implemented.

Here is the author eloquently demolishing the Carbon = Poison meme:
Will the increase in Carbon Dioxide definitely lead to the planet warming? Although there have been many many reports published by research institutes that verify this, but from the viewpoint of the history of man, and scientific method, the theories have not yet achieved scientific proof.

But, after many years of repeated indoctrination from every kind of propaganda machine, and the mixing together of environmental pollution and the exhaustion of natural resources, people have already formed a conditioned reflex, when the wind blows, the grass bends with it, and quickly hang these things on the hook of “carbon”, and attempted to get rid of carbon at a faster rate. We need to start peeling, and get back to the real world, and cannot stick labels everywhere. “Carbon” is the same “carbon” it was before, we must not get in to too much of a fluster. It is with polluted water/effluent, acid rain, destructive logging and waste with which we must struggle over the long term.

And here he is concluding that it is a fiendish plot – a new Cold War to all intents and purposes – by the West to suppress the economic growth of the BRICS nations.

Behind the back of the demonizing of “carbon”, we must recognize that it is the sinister intention of the Developed Countries to attempt to use “carbon” to block the living space of the Developing Countries.

There is only one Earth, natural resources are limited. If according to current technological conditions, and Developing Countries had the same living standard as Developed Countries, then we’d need at least 3 to 5 Earth’s to satisfy our appetites. This is what Developed Countries are most afraid of, the development of the Developing Countries poses an enormous threat to their way of lives.

In 2008, the price of foodstuffs substantially increased, a certain President actually said that the primary reason was because suddenly, one day, 300 million Indians started to eat two bowls of rice, and one billion Chinese started to drink milk.

In the eyes of some Westerners, the many developing countries have absolutely no right to enjoy the same standard of life as them.

If we really are equal, are of one mind, and together protect the Earth – our garden, we really can see a beautiful utopia in the future. But the Developed countries do not in the slightest wish to take any responsibility, they have set up double standards over “carbon emissions”, everywhere reflecting their arrogance and selfishness.

Behind “the Carbon Plot” is national interest, it is the bitter struggle for the right to existance for every country.

At this time, we again see the struggle between two camps, Europe, the USA and other developed countries, and China, India, Brazil, and Russia as the representatives of the Developing Countries, owing to their common interest, now walking closely together.

Personally, I think his conclusion says more about BRICs chippiness and paranioa than it does socio-political actualite. The CAGW scam owes much more to an attempted power grab by the left in order to achieve “environmentally” in the 21st century what it couldn’t achieve economically in the 20th Century, viz: total state control of the means of production, in the guise of ecological correctness.

But it doesn’t really matter whether the author is right or wrong in what he thinks. What matters is simply that this IS how the Chinese think, which, whether you love China or loathe it is fantastically good news for those of us in the realist/sceptics camp. China, after all, is the world’s future dominant economic power and, this being so, it makes an absolute nonsense of attempts by the EU and the US to hamper our industrial growth by imposing on our economies eco-taxes and eco-regulations which the Chinese intend to ignore completely.

This truth hasn’t hit home yet: not in the EU; not in the Cleggeron Coalition; not in Obama’s USA. Here’s my bet. The first to see sense on this will be whichever Republican administration takes over from Obama’s one-term presidency in 2012. From that point on – by which time we’ll have had two more exceptionally cold winters to concentrate our minds – British and European environmental policy will look increasingly foolish and irrelevant.


Australia: "Glare" stops solar panel plan

How dare the sun be so glary?

A STATE Government-backed scheme to use the sun to power towns in Queensland's scorched Outback has run into the dust due to concerns about the light. Cloncurry in the state's northwest was meant to be the centrepiece of a radical $30 million plan to use solar energy to heat water and generate electricity, cutting carbon emissions and reliance on diesel – and eventually taking the town off the grid.

But The Courier-Mail can reveal that three years after its launch, instead of a forest of 8000 mirrors the project consists only of four test panels and a fake tower behind a locked gate.

It was forecast that by now, a "groundbreaking" 10-megawatt solar thermal power plant would be using steam from water heated in a graphite block to drive a turbine to generate electricity. It should have been supplying power to the homes of 4828 residents.

The Government, which faces criticism over a series of expensive infrastructure blunders, is blaming the project's failure on concerns about light pollution. Boffins are now looking into concerns that residents could be exposed to blinding light from the plant.

Energy Minister Stephen Robertson has broken the official commercial-in-confidence line of the state's commercial partner, Sydney-based Lloyd Energy Storage, to reveal the technological glitch. "There was a glare issue exceeding what they consider to be appropriate levels," he said. "If the glare issue cannot be addressed the project will be moved somewhere else in Cloncurry or it will not proceed."

The State Government earmarked $7 million for the project. Of that, $900,000 had been spent so far, he said. "We are talking about a sunrise industry here, no pun intended," Mr Robertson said. "Sometimes we've got to take a risk with taxpayers' money to prove up this new technology."

He admitted the "timelines had blown out", and said the University of Melbourne had been commissioned by Ergon Energy and Lloyd Energy to prepare an independent report into "glare issues". He said the report would be finalised and publicly released later this month.

He could not say if it was the four panels on the outskirts of Cloncurry that had been deemed "too glary" or those of another project. The company is trialling the same technology at Lake Cargelligo in NSW.

Premier Anna Bligh touted the project for Cloncurry in November 2007, aiming to take a personal interest. Lloyd Energy and the SMEC Group were to contribute $24 million. Subject to feasibility studies, the system was expected to be suitable for any remote town or towns on the fringe of grid power, such as Thargomindah, Quilpie, Cunnamulla, Normanton, Charleville or Julia Creek.


Ye're all going to dieeee

Die, I tell you, die ... ye're all going to die, die a most horrible death ... die, yes you ... die. And so reports the BBC: "Many more people will die of heart problems as global warming continues, experts are warning," they tell us.
"Climate extremes of hot and cold will become more common and this will puts strain on people's hearts, doctors say ... A study in the British Medical Journal found that each 1C temperature drop on a single day in the UK is linked to 200 extra heart attacks."

"Heatwaves, meanwhile, increase heart deaths from other causes, as shown by the events in Paris during summer 2003."

The worst of it is that these people are serious and so is the BBC. They cannot see how stupid they look, how stupid they sound, and how stupid they are. In fact, they are beyond stupid. They are barking mad.

Amongst other things, I wonder if any of them know what a Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate is [The higher up you go, the colder it gets], and what thus happens when you drive from the coast (altitude 0ft) to my home, altitude a smidgin short of 1000ft? Are they really saying that this puts people at risk of a heart attack?

It is these people that are the real health hazard – they sap our life energy with their constant, sterile diet of scare stories. But if they are so in love with the idea of death, they should embrace it and save us leading them there. I am sick to the back teeth of them.


Invasion of the invasive species!

Local biodiversity is increasing

Here’s a fact that I suspect most people don’t know: Wherever we humans have gone in the past two centuries, we have increased local and regional biodiversity. Biodiversity, in this case, is defined as increasing species richness. Yet, “the popular view [is] that diversity is decreasing at local scales,” Brown University biologist Dov Sax and University of California, Santa Barbara biologist Steven Gaines report [PDF].

Ample scientific evidence shows that this popular view is wrong, however. For example, more than 4,000 plant species introduced into North America during the past 400 years grow naturally here and now constitute nearly 20 percent of the continent’s vascular plant biodiversity.

The fear among opponents of "invasive species" is the aggressive outsiders will cause a holocaust among the native plants. That might initially seem reasonable because there are a few species, like kudzu, purple loosestrife, and water hyacinth, that grow with alarming speed wherever they show up. But that doesn't mean other species are in danger. “There is no evidence that even a single long term resident species has been driven to extinction, or even extirpated within a single U.S. state, because of competition from an introduced plant species,” Macalester College biologist Mark Davis notes [PDF]. Yet this spurious threat of extinction persists as one of the chief reasons given for trying to prevent the introduction of exotic species.

Meanwhile, there are plenty more examples in which local and regional species richness has been increasing. Introduced vascular plants have doubled the species richness of the plant life on most Pacific Islands. In fact, the species richness of some islands has increased so much that they now approach the richness of continental areas. In New Zealand 2,000 introduced plant species have taken up residence with the islands’ 2,000 native species and only three native plant species have gone extinct. The opening of the Suez Canal introduced 250 new fish species into the Mediterranean Sea from the Red Sea which resulted in only a single extinction.

Researchers find increases in species richness on the local level as well. Sax and Gaines cite studies [PDF] which find that a corner of West Lancester in Britain has seen a dramatic rise in plant species diversity over the past two centuries, gaining 700 exotics while losing 40 natives. They note that reptile and amphibian diversity has increased slightly in California. Mammal diversity has increased on many oceanic islands, and in Australia and North America. Freshwater fish diversity has increased significantly in many drainages throughout the U.S.

Birds are different. Many species, especially those endemic to isolated islands, have gone extinct, largely due to habitat loss and predation from humans or introduced predators such as rats. Nevertheless, Sax and Gaines note that “net bird diversity (in spite of large changes in species composition) has remained largely unchanged on oceanic islands.” In other words, despite extinctions of endemic species, the number of avian species on any given island remains about steady because new species are introduced to them.

So why then are so many ecologists and environmentalists on a jihad against introduced species? Of course, some introduced species do cause harm to the environment. They become pests (which means they set up shop where we don’t want them to) or cause disease in people or creatures we care about. But the vast majority of introduced species blend in more or less unobtrusively with the natives. The main objection to spreading non-native species seems to be aesthetic.

For example, Birmingham University biologist Phillip Cassey and colleagues respond to the evidence of rising local and regional biodiversity by complaining that many of the birds that a visitor from the U.K. would encounter in New Zealand are the same species found back home. “The same is true for floras and faunas around the world,” lament [PDF] Cassey and colleagues. “It is the biological equivalent of flying from Seattle to Paris and going to Starbucks for your coffee.”

Fair enough. But this is not a scientific argument. Sax and New Mexico University biologist James Brown correctly observe that whether the impacts of introduced species “are considered to be positive or negative, good or bad is a subjective value judgment rather than an objective scientific finding. Scientists are no more uniquely qualified to make such ethical decisions than lay people.” Cassey may wish to quaff his café au lait at Les Deux Magots while others enjoy their Venti Café Misto in the familiar purlieus of a Parisian Starbucks.

Nevertheless, aesthetic reasons are still reasons and science can be validly deployed in their service. Some people may prefer landscapes restored to a condition prior to the introduction of outside species. As Davis and his colleague Stony Brook University biologist Lawrence Slobodkin point out [PDF], architecture uses mathematics, physics, and engineering to achieve aesthetic and social goals. “Perhaps ‘ecological architecture’ might be a more apt characterization of the work of ecological restoration,” they suggest. “Because the term acknowledges the central role played by both values and science.”

Ultimately, Davis argues that the good news from biology is that the “globalization of the Earth’s biota will not lead to a world composed of zebra mussels, kudzu, and starlings.” Instead, while in the future different regions of the world will be more similar in their floras and faunas, Davis concludes, “At the same time, they will become more diverse, in some cases much more diverse.”



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1 comment:

Joseph said...

If dormice can stop a supermarket, what would Mad Hatters do?