Monday, August 22, 2011

Only one year left for the polar bears

Or so the WWF says. Quote below from 2004

"Assuming the current rate of ice shrinkage and accompanying weight loss in the Hudson Bay region, bears there could become so thin by 2012 they may no longer be able to reproduce, said Lara Hansen, chief scientist for the World Wildlife Fund"


Gov. Christie: Watch his hands, not his mouth

Politicians like to keep everyone happy if they can and Gov. Christie of NJ has his own way of doing that. At the same time as he vetoed Warmist legislation, he gave cautious lip service to Warmism. NJ is a strongly Warmist State so he has to deal with that. He has sunk his chances of being the GOP Presidential candidate next year, though

In case anyone had any doubts on where Gov. Chris Christie stands on climate change, he made his position crystal clear this afternoon: It's real and it's a problem.

In vetoing a bill (S2946) that would have required New Jersey to stay in a regional program intended to curb greenhouse gases — a program Christie plans to leave by the end of the year — the governor said "climate change is real."

He added that "human activity plays a role in these changes" and that climate change is "impacting our state."

Christie's words are his strongest to date in regards to climate change, a hot-button issue among the same conservatives nationwide who are clamoring for the governor to enter the 2012 presidential race.

Christie's come full circle on the issue. Last year, he told a town hall audience in Toms River he was skeptical climate change is the result of human activity. He backed off those comments at a conference of environmentalists in May and agreed to meet with climate scientists for a lesson in global warming.

Later that month, during a news conference announcing he would pull the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state partnership intended to curb power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, Christie took another step.

"I can’t claim to fully understand all of this," he said. "Certainly not after just a few months of study. But when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role it’s time to defer to the experts."

He added that climate science is complex and "we know enough to know that we are at least part of the problem."


The Sierra Club Fails An Environmental Consistency Test

What if there was a power source that, compared to the inexpensive coal that powers nearly half the nation’s electricity, emitted only half the carbon dioxide, emitted less than 20% of the principal pollutants tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is projected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to soon be less expensive than coal? Most Americans would celebrate the news, but the Sierra Club and other environmental activist groups are protesting it.

The power source is a very real one — natural gas — but opposition to natural gas production by the Sierra Club and other environmental activist groups makes one wonder whether they truly believe their global warming and air pollutions claims, or whether they are simply anti-energy and anti-business.

Recent discoveries of vast natural gas deposits in the U.S. in the form of shale rock, together with technological advances allowing inexpensive recovery of shale-trapped natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, are rewriting America’s domestic energy outlook.

The EIA reports that as a result of these new developments we now have large enough domestic natural gas reserves to last us for centuries without relying on any imports. Importantly, the EIA projects that over the lifetime of newly constructed power plants going into operation in the year 2016, natural gas power will be 33% less expensive than what is currently the least expensive power source, coal.

Natural gas power promises substantial environmental improvements over coal. For important pollutants monitored by the EPA, natural gas power cuts carbon monoxide emissions by 81%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%, sulfur dioxide emissions by 99%, mercury emissions by 100%, and particulates by 99%. Natural gas also cuts carbon dioxide emissions — if you are worried about global warming — by 44%.


The Lack of Recent Warming not China's doing

Boston University's Robert Kaufmann and colleagues recently published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examining the causes of the recent dearth of "global warming." They concluded that it's simply natural variability, augmented by increasing sulfate emissions from dramatically growing coal consumption by China.

Of course, it is the latter conclusion that has drawn all the attention, for it allows the possibility that greenhouse gases are continuing to impart an as-expected warming influence on the global climate. And then once China gets its air pollution under control (and we are talking about true air pollution here, i.e., not carbon dioxide), global temperatures will rise rapidly. Thus the dream of alarming climate change lives.

If China's sulfate emissions are not having much of an impact of global temperatures, then, the dearth of warming in recent years supports the hypothesis — now made by many (unpopular) folks in the climate business — that the "sensitivity" of temperature to carbon dioxide has been guessed (we choose our words carefully here) to be too high by climate modelers. In this scenario, we wake up from the alarmist nightmare and resume our normal lives.

There are two reasons why we think it is wrong for Kaufmann et al. to attribute a reduced rate of global warming to Chinese sulfates:

1) China's cooling sulfates do not readily make their way into the Southern Hemisphere, yet, from 1999-2010, temperatures actually fell there, while they rose in the Northern Hemisphere. This is exactly the opposite of what should have happened if sulfates are exerting a relative cooling primarily in the Northern Hemisphere

2) Chinese coal consumption increased in 2009 and 2010 (in fact, 2010 had the biggest year-over-year increase recorded) — yet, the global temperature rose sharply in 2009 and in 2010. Because Kaufmann's climate model responds instantaneously to sulfates (as opposed to a decades-long lag to adjust to carbon dioxide changes) this is contrary to his hypothesis.

Let's look at the first one.

The link below shows the march of weather systems around the globe for several months. Notice that the weather systems passing through China quickly move into the north Pacific Ocean, and don't mix into the Southern Hemisphere. Since sulfates only have an atmospheric lifetime of about a week or so, they are hard pressed to cause any cooling impact beyond the areas to the immediate east of China.

So, if a dramatic increase in Chinese sulfur emissions during the past decade or so has been responsible for the observed slowdown in the rate of global temperature increase, then the Northern Hemisphere should be doing most of the work — that is, the rate of warming in the Northern Hemisphere should have slowed by much more than the rate of warming in the Southern Hemisphere. This situation is easy to check.

Figure 1 shows the Northern and Southern Hemisphere temperature history from 1980 through 2010 according to the surface temperature data set compiled and maintained by the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. During the period of time during which Chinese sulfate emissions rose (1998-2010), the warming in the Southern Hemisphere went negative (i.e. became a cooling) while the Northern Hemisphere warmed. From Figure 1 it is obvious that the Southern Hemisphere is driving the global temperature slowdown, not the Northern — a result completely contrary to Kaufmann et al.'s Chinese sulfate hypothesis.

Now let's turn to our Reason #2. Simply put, during the past 2 years (which were not part of the Kaufmann et al. dataset), global temperatures rose as did Chinese coal consumption. According to Kaufmann et al.'s hypothesis, the increase in Chinese coal consumption should act to drive down the rate of global temperature rise, but that is not what happened. Again, temperatures are behaving in an opposite fashion, compared to what the hypothesis predicts.

The top panel in Figure 2 shows Chinese coal consumption from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy from 1998 through 2010. Notice that it increased substantially in both 2009 and 2010 — two years not included in the Kaufmann et al. analysis. The year-over-year increase from 2009 to 2010 was the highest annual increase on record. If Chinese coal consumption were having a large impact on global temperature, we would expect that global temperatures would remain suppressed in 2009 and 2010. But the bottom panel in Figure 2 shows what really happened — global temperatures rose in both 2009 and 2010, contrary to the Kaufmann et al. hypothesis.

It is clear that natural variability, not sulfate emissions, is the cause of the lack of recent warming. We arrived at this very same conclusion several years ago, however, despite repeated attempts, we were unable to find a journal even interested in considering our work for publication.

More HERE. (See the original for links and graphics)

EPA’s Ongoing Assault on the Economy

Affordable energy is critical for a prosperous economy. Yet, despite the fact that the U.S. is still in the middle of a pronounced economic slump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of proposing or finalizing a number of air-quality regulations that would limit energy choices and increase energy prices, thus seriously retarding the economic recovery.

Economists estimate that just four of these dozens of rules could alone cost the economy trillions of dollars annually. In addition, the rules will cost millions of jobs and raise energy prices, and all with little or no public-health benefit.

On July 6, 2011, the EPA finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule which will require power plants in 27 states to significantly reduce sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions. By 2014, power plants will need to cut their sulfur-dioxide emissions 73 percent and nitrogen-oxide emissions by 54 percent below 2005 levels.

A second rule concerning mercury and air toxics would require existing coal- and oil-fired power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other air pollutants to the average level of emissions of the least polluting 12 percent of plants currently operating using the same type of fuel.

The EPA is also proposing a new, more restrictive ozone standard. Though the current primary standard of 0.075 parts per million (ppm) was only set in 2008 — and is just now being implemented — the Obama administration’s EPA decided to create a new, even stricter standard — somewhere between 0.060 ppm to 0.070 ppm. Finalization of the new standard has been delayed several times and no firm date has been set for a decision.

Finally, despite little if any provable health effects from current emissions, the EPA has decided to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants.

What does it all mean?

Just looking at the proposed restrictions on ozone, most monitored counties — many in urban areas — will not meet the new standard. In fact, up to 76 percent of the 675 U.S. counties where ozone is monitored would not meet a 0.070 ppm standard, according to a 2010 Congressional Research Service report. Up to 96 percent would not meet a 0.060 ppm standard. These so-called non-attainment areas will be subject to additional regulation and EPA oversight, making business expansion difficult and encouraging businesses to move to counties that do attain the standard or to leave the country entirely. Communities in non-attainment areas could also lose federal highway funding.

Estimates vary, but researchers agree that complying with a new ozone standard will be costly. Indeed, a 0.070 ppm standard could cause a $14.8 billion decline in production and the loss of 91,700 jobs by 2030 in the Cincinnati-Dayton, Ohio, region alone, according the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Other analysts place the costs far higher — at more than a $1 trillion.

In 2007, when the U.S. Supreme court opened the door to the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants, I, along with a host of others, predicted costly mischief — and now we’ve got it. Regulating greenhouse gases as pollutants will increase the number of emissions sources that need operating permits from approximately 20,000 at present to roughly 6 million. At a cost of up to 2.5 million jobs lost and a decline of economic output of nearly $7 trillion (in 2008 dollars) by 2029.

Unfortunately, the EPA’s efforts will be futile. Even if the entire Western Hemisphere suddenly eliminated all carbon dioxide emissions, the effect on global emissions would likely be offset within a decade by the growth of China’s emissions alone.

Combined the Cross-State Air Pollution rule and the new Mercury and Air Toxics standards have been estimated to lead to an additional 1.4 million jobs lost and will result in a shuttering of more than 5 percent of the nation’s electric power supply. The North American Electric Reliability Council, the government’s watchdog responsible for ensuring the nation’s electricity supply and transmission, notes that this forced shutdown — with no way to replace the losses in a timely fashion — will lead to inadequate supplies, power shortages, and instability in the national grid.

These regulations, taken individually, or as a set, are arguably unnecessary since, as I detail in a recent NCPA report, at current levels American air is so clean that there is little benefit to additional pollution reduction.

The economy is still struggling and many people remain unemployed. The loss of more than 8 million jobs and soaring energy costs over the next decade will stifle economic recovery. Current clean air standards and technological improvements are already improving air quality. Accordingly, Congress should rein in the EPA’s ongoing assault on our already weakened economy.


South Australia: Plastic bag ban backfires

Bin liner sales in SA have doubled since free plastic shopping bags were banned more than two years ago. And most bin bags are made of thicker plastic than traditional bags, which means they take longer to break down in the environment.

Woolworths says SA sales of plastic kitchen-tidy bags of a similar size, capacity and shape to single-use plastic shopping bags, are now double the national average. At Coles, sales of kitchen tidy bags increased 40 per cent in the year following the ban in May 2009.

Bin bag manufacturer Glad reported a 52.5 per cent jump in kitchen-tidy bag sales in the first year of the ban, compared with a 5.5 per cent increase nationally.

In SA, 48 million Glad bin bags were bought in 2008, rising to more than 73 million in 2009 and 84 million last year.

The figures have raised concerns about whether the plastic bag ban has been effective in reducing waste sent to landfill. In 2009, South Australia led the nation with a ban on lightweight, checkout-style plastic bags.

The Northern Territory and ACT are now introducing their own bans.

Zero Waste SA chief executive Vaughan Levitzke claimed in January 2009 the ban would not lead to a significant rise in the number of bin bags bought. "Research shows purchase of bin liners will not increase significantly, compared with the reduction of plastic shopping bags," he said.

Yesterday, the government agency said it did not have any current information about sales of bin bags.

Opposition environment spokeswoman Michelle Lensink said the situation was "fairly predictable". "We said at the time that it was tokenistic, just about having a headline, being able to say we're the first to ban the bag in Australia," she told The Advertiser.

Supermarket chains now charge 15c at the checkout for thicker "reusable" bags that Ms Lensink suggests are going straight to landfill.

Samantha Lang, 20, from Craigmore, yesterday said the bag ban had not changed her behaviour. "We do buy bin bags because we need plastic bags to line bins," she said. "But we always forget our green bags so we're always stuck paying the plastic bag surcharge at the supermarket."



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


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