Sunday, January 02, 2011

It's official: Britain's December WAS the chilliest in 120 years

The benchmark Central England Temperature plunged to an average of -0.6c (30.9f) over the month, making it the second harshest December since records began in 1659.

It was beaten only by the -0.8c (30.5f) average for December 1890, weather historian Philip Eden said last night. It was also the chilliest individual calendar month since February 1986.

As snow, ice and frost brought chaos to roads, airports and homes, there were ten nights in December 2010 when the temperature fell below -18c (-0.4f) somewhere in the UK. Altnaharra in Sutherland, Scotland, experienced the coldest conditions, with the mercury plummeting to -21.1c (-6f) early on December 1.

This bitter end to this year was the result of an unusually large area of high pressure squatting over Greenland – combined with low pressure over the UK. Normally, westerly winds from the Atlantic keep the British Isles mild during the winter.


Wind farms becalmed just when needed the most

Wind farms in Britain generated practically no electricity during the recent cold spell, raising fresh concerns about whether they could be relied upon to meet the country’s energy needs.

Despite high demand for electricity as people shivered at home over Christmas, most of the 3,000 wind turbines around Britain stood still due to a lack of wind.

Even yesterday , when conditions were slightly breezier, wind farms generated just 1.8 per cent of the nation’s electricity — less than a third of usual levels.

The failure of wind farms to function at full tilt during December forced energy suppliers to rely on coal-fired power stations to keep the lights on — meaning more greenhouse gases were produced.

Experts feared that as the Government moved towards a target of generating 30 per cent of electricity from wind — while closing gas and coal-fired power stations — cold, still winters could cause a problem in the future.

The wind turbines may even use up electricity during a calm period, as they were rotated in order to keep the mechanical parts working. There are more than 3,000 turbines in Britain and the Department of Energy and Climate Change planned to have up to 6,000 onshore and 4,000 at sea by 2020.

Charles Anglin, of Renewable UK, which represented the wind energy industry, said that over a normal year wind turbines were working about a third of the time. He said future energy plans took into account periods when wind turbines were still, just as current models had backup available for when nuclear or coal plants were down. “There are periods, of course, when it is not windy but year on year we are seeing growth,” he said.

Britain had 2 per cent of electricity from renewables in 2002, but that figure was now almost 10 per cent, with wind providing about half.


Warming tea

The latest attempt to swindle the public into believing the Global Warming/Climate Change myth comes in the form of an article titled “INDIAN TEA TASTES DIFFERENT DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE" appearing on Yahoo news and other internet sites. In a nutshell tea growers in the state of Assam, India are said to blame rising temperatures over the last several years for both the change in taste and reduced annual yield of production.

As usual on the surface it sounds iron clad that warming temperatures are to blame for their problems. However investigation into the mechanics of these claims shows a completely different scenario.

The area in question is next to Bangladesh that has a tropical climate and vigorous monsoon season. There have been variations in temperatures and precipitation in this area since records first became recorded in 1945, but overall the climate of the area hasn't changed at all. What has changed is the population of this area. The state of Assam had a population of around 22 million in the early 1990s, but now stands at over 35 million.

What has affected the tea and other crops in this area is urbanization. Now there is much less land to grow tea than ever before, and much more pollution putting stress on area crops. I refer to real pollution such as carbon monoxide and other chemical pollutants, as well as inadequate ways of disposing sewage and factory waste, not so-called greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide which really isn't a pollutant, but a necessary gas for every plant species on the planet. The farming industry in Assam could use the help from a little CO2 right about now.

Environmentalists are mostly to blame for dwindling yields and quality because of restrictions on what pesticides growers are allowed to use. Thus a large portion of tea is lost each year from uncontrolled pests, and quality is drastically reduced because insect infestations degrade the overall health of the plants themselves. In a tropical area pests are the main contributor the degradation of any crop.

This and other stories that come out on a daily basis are geared for those who read and accept them as gospel truth without question.


Malthusians wrong again -- this time on oil prices

The New York Times' John Tierney explains why those who predict doom and gloom on commodity prices and scarcity are almost always wrong:
Five years ago, Matthew R. Simmons and I bet $5,000. It was a wager about the future of energy supplies — a Malthusian pessimist versus a Cornucopian optimist — and now the day of reckoning is nigh: Jan. 1, 2011.

The bet was occasioned by a cover article in August 2005 in The New York Times Magazine titled “The Breaking Point.” It featured predictions of soaring oil prices from Mr. Simmons, who was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the head of a Houston investment bank specializing in the energy industry, and the author of “Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy.”

I called Mr. Simmons to discuss a bet. To his credit — and unlike some other Malthusians — he was eager to back his predictions with cash. He expected the price of oil, then about $65 a barrel, to more than triple in the next five years, even after adjusting for inflation. He offered to bet $5,000 that the average price of oil over the course of 2010 would be at least $200 a barrel in 2005 dollars.

You can probably guess who won the bet. But Tierney's column is both a delight to read and a good reminder that human innovation is perhaps our most abundant resource. It's amazing how many smart people forget that when they're trying to predict the future.


The Key New Year's Resolution: Stop the EPA

Rolling back Obamacare will be at the top of many to-do lists for 2011, but a far more significant power grab is underway at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and blocking it should be the first priority of incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Fred Upton.

The good news is that Upton agrees and has already begun planning to stop the EPA before it can begin the process of asserting effective control over every business and many millions of households in the United States.

In an op-ed Upton co-authored with Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, in Monday's Wall Street Journal and again on my radio show yesterday, Upton promised vigorous action by his committee to halt the EPA's attempt to accomplish via backdoor regulation what the Congress could not pass in 2009 or 2010 --a global warming-inspired, job-killing array of federal rules and commands on any operation or system that emits carbon dioxide.

This is cap-and-trade or cap-and-tax by another name and via an extraordinary power grab sanctioned by President Obama and his environmental "csar" Carol Browner and being executed by one of the most determined of all of Team Obama's big government disciplines, Lisa Jackson, administrator of EPA. The Obama-Browner-Jackson plan is to talk moderately and act radically using the thinnest of legal rationales --a 5-4 2007 Supreme Court decision that did not even present the question of whether EPA had authority to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions of refineries and power plants, which is phase one of the EPA's enormous regulatory plan.

EPA has declared that carbon dioxide endangers the health of Americans, and the agency is using this "finding" to justify regulating anything that emits carbon dioxide. As Upton and Phillips note in their piece, many businesses have recovered from their shock at such a naked grab for power and are fighting back in the courts, but EPA is rushing forward with regulations to try and put its radical overlay on America's private sector before the courts can even respond to the claims. President Obama gets no questions on this somewhat complicated subject from his cheerleaders in the White Hous e press corps and so the largest grab for regulatory control unsupported by explicit legislation in our nation's history moves forward.

Obamacare is a malignancy, yes, and it was a jam down done in defiance of easily recognized voter opinion.

But at least it did pass both houses of Congress and was signed by the president. It was a rotten exercise in constitutional government, but it was the way the laws are supposed to be passed.

This is not the case with the carbon dioxide regulations which claim the Clean Air Act as their legislative authority though the ideas of global warming as a threat and the regulation of carbon dioxide as a solution did not exist in the public consciousness much less on the floor of Congress when the Clean Air Act was first passed or later amended.

The carbon dioxide rules are thus a threat not just to the economy but also to the whole notion of self-government, and are the prime example of where bureaucratized administrative states move when allowed to assert authority unchecked by popularly-elected representatives.

This is where Chairman Upton comes in, and his committee will almost certainly pass blocking legislation and hopefully the Appropriations Committee will defund the EPA's efforts here and in other areas of the agency's operations as well as punishment for such blatant disregard of the people's representatives.

A Senate dominated by two dozen endangered Democratic incumbents should help bring the out-of-control EPA to heel. An agency this radical needs gutting and overhaul, not tweaking, and Administrator Jackson needs to be in front of House committees for days on end, under oath and answering the toughest questions about her views on the agency's plans and legal authorities. Ms. Browner needs a subpoena as well backed up by legal action to compel testimony if she asserts executive privilege as President Obama has radically expanded the Office of the Presidency in an attempt to avoid the sort of balance and oversight on which separation-of-powers was premised.

If the EPA is not tamed in 2011, its regulatory reach will grow and grow. The agency has shrewdly begun its government-by-decree via diktats issued to power plants and refineries, obviously hoping that most Americans won't recognize that the precedent being set by these rules will apply to every business or operation in the U.S. that emits carbon dioxide. The fight to stop the EPA from crippling the power grid has immediate consequences to consumers but even greater consequences down the road for every citizen.

The president's willingness to indulge and indeed encourage such radical behavior should be a huge issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. President Obama closed out his disastrous 2010 by talking a moderate game, but the leadership of the GOP Congress should act to focus and keep the spotlight on this expression of the president's deepest instincts about centralized and powerful government rule over the lives of its citizens, whether or not the legislature has approved of the moves.

The GOP presidential candidates who help stop the EPA will also greatly improve their standing across the political spectrum, including among the millions of blue collar Democrats who see in the rise of radicals like Jackson the repudiation of the old New Deal agenda of jobs and economic growth in favor of the rule of technocrats behind desks, writing rules and issuing commands through an army of civil servants.


Australia: "Green" police cars are too small

QUEENSLAND Police have been left red-faced over its choice of new "green" patrol cars. The service boasts it is going green, taking delivery of 100 hybrid Toyota Camrys. Shame no one checked the boot size. Frontline officers say the boots of the new patrol cars are too small to carry all their essential equipment, including flak jackets and emergency equipment.

They can't put it on the back seats - that's where the criminals go - leaving them little option but to ditch it, or keep it under their feet in the front.

And the front seats are already a tight squeeze for officers wearing accoutrement belts and cargo pants.

The police union said the decision showed how far removed top brass were from the frontline that they could approve cars that aren't big enough to be useful.

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) boasts about its green car choice in this year's annual report, saying its "smarter vehicle purchases" meant it had "the most operationally suitable vehicles". It goes on to say "green technology continues to be introduced" with "noteworthy development" the Toyota Camry Hybrid being used as a general duties patrol vehicle.

"As part of the Government's policy, the QPS is also required to reduce its production of carbon dioxide by 10 per cent by 2010, 25 per cent by 2012, and 50 per cent by 2017. "Fleet Management Branch is actively pursuing this through smarter vehicle purchases and the QPS has already achieved the 2010 target," the report said.

In June, the police fleet numbered 2316 vehicles, including 97 motorcycles.

The green car debacle comes after a January audit ordered by senior officers and obtained by The Sunday Mail found 294 police vehicles were doing less than 50km a day. Vehicles uncovered in the audit included a Holden Commodore sedan on general duties that had done only 7833km in two years, a Ford Falcon sedan with just 18,663km since 2006, and a Mitsubishi Lancer averaging 17km a day.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


No comments: