Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Help! Is There A Scientist In The House?

During the last couple of years, Florida was getting snow because warm air holds more moisture – which naturally causes frozen precipitation to fall on Orange groves in sub-tropical regions.

I’m confused though, because this year we are told that the lack of snow in the East is caused by warm air. Also, the record east coast snow in October was due to warm air.

This has me a tad confused. Can anyone help?


Peregrines NOT saved by DDT ban

Greenie lies never stop

Dr. William Hornaday of the New York Zoological Society referred to [peregrine falcons] as birds that “deserve death, but are so rare that we need not take them into account” — in 1913.

In a story about the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count, the Sacramento Bee writes,
… Even more incredible is the story of the falcon’s recovery from near-extinction, a story the Christmas Bird Count has helped document.

Decimated in the 1960s by the pesticide DDT, the peregrine was put on the endangered species list in 1973.

Harper, who has participated in the Christmas Bird Count for four decades, said one year in the 1970s created a stir when a counter thought she saw the first peregrine to return to the area. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a ceramic rendering.

After DDT was banned, the peregrine began a slow recovery. It was removed from Endangered Species Act protection in 1999, and now there are more than 2,000 known nesting sites across the nation…

Except as pointed out in “100 Things You Should Know About DDT“:

78. The decline in the U.S. peregrine falcon population occurred long before the DDT years. [Hickey JJ. 1942. (Only 170 pairs of peregrines in eastern U.S. in 1940) Auk 59:176; Hickey JJ. 1971 Testimony at DDT hearings before EPA hearing examiner. (350 pre-DDT peregrines claimed in eastern U.S., with 28 of the females sterile); and Beebe FL. 1971. The Myth of the Vanishing Peregrine Falcon: A study in manipulation of public and official attitudes. Canadian Raptor Society Publication, 31 pages]

79. Peregrine falcons were deemed undesirable in the early 20th century. Dr. William Hornaday of the New York Zoological Society referred to them as birds that “deserve death, but are so rare that we need not take them into account.” [Hornaday, WT. 1913. Our Vanishing Wild Life. New York Zoological Society, p. 226]

80. Oologists amassed great collections of falcon eggs. [Peterson, RT. 1948. Birds Over American, Dodd Mead & Co., NY, pp 135-151; Rice, JN. 1969. In Peregrine Falcon Populations, Univ. Of Wisconsin Press, pp 155-164; Berger, DD. 1969. In Peregrine Falcon Populations, Univ. Of Wisconsin Press, pp 165-173]

81. The decline in falcons along the Hudson River was attributed to falconers, egg collectors, pigeon fanciers and disturbance by construction workers and others. [Herbert, RA and KG Herbert. 1969. In Peregrine Falcon Populations, Univ. Of Wisconsin Press, pp 133- 154. (Also in Auk 82: 62-94)]

82. The 1950′s and 1960′s saw continuing harassment trapping brooding birds in their nests, removing fat samples for analysis and operating time-lapse cameras beside the nests for extended periods of time), predation and habitat destruction. [Hazeltine, WE. 1972. Statement before Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, March 16, 1972; Enderson, JH and DD Berger. 1968. (Chlorinated hydrocarbons in peregrines from Northern Canada). Condor 70:149-153; Enderson, JH.. 1972. (Time lapse photography in
peregrine nests) Living Bird 11: 113- 128; Risebrough, RW. 1970. (Organochlorines in peregrines and merlins migrating through Wisconsin). Canadian Field-Naturalist 84:247-253]

83. Changes in climate (higher temperatures and decreasing precipitation) were blamed for the gradual disappearance of peregrines from the Rocky Mountains. [Nelson, MW. 1969. Peregrine Falcon Populations, pp 61-72]

84. Falconers were blamed for decimating western populations. [Herman, S. 1969. Peregrine Falcon Populations, University of Wisconsin Press]

85. During the 1960′s, peregrines in northern Canada were “reproducing normally,” even though they contained 30 times more DDT, DDD, and DDE than the midwestern peregrines that were allegedly extirpated by those chemicals. [Enderson, JH and DD Berger. 1968. (Chlorinated hydrocarbons in peregrines from Northern Canada) Condor 70:170-178]

86. There was no decline in peregrine falcon pairs in Canada and Alaska between 1950 and 1967 despite the presence of DDT and DDE. [Fyfe, RW. 1959. Peregrine Falcon Populations, pp 101-114; and Fyfe, RW. 1968. Auk 85: 383-384]

87. The peregrine with the very highest DDT residue (2,435 parts per million) was found feeding three healthy young. [Enderson, JH. 1968. (Pesticide residues in Alaska and Yukon Territory) Auk 85: 683]

88. Shooting, egg collecting, falconry and disruption of nesting birds along the Yukon River and Colville River were reported to be the cause of the decline in peregrine falcon population.
[Beebe, FL. 1971. The Myth of the Vanishing Peregrine Falcon: A study in manipulation of public and official attitudes. Canadian Raptor Society Publication, 31 pages; and Beebe, FL. 1975. Brit Columbia Provincial Museum Occas. Paper No. 17, pages 126-144]

89. The decline in British peregrine falcons ended by 1966, though DDT was as abundant as ever. The Federal Advisory Committee on Pesticides concluded “There is no close correlation between the declines in populations of predatory birds, particularly the peregrine falcon and the sparrow hawk, and the use of DDT.” [Wilson report. 1969. Review of Organochlorine pesticides in Britain. Report by the Advisory Committee on toxic chemicals. Department of Education and Science]

90. During 1940-1945, the British Air Ministry shot about 600 peregrines (half the pre-1939 level) to protect carrier pigeons.

91. Peregrine falcon and sparrow hawk egg shells thinned in Britain prior to the use of DDT. [Redcliff, DH. 1967. Nature 215: 208-210; Redcliff, DH. 1970 J Applied Biology 7:67; and Redcliff, DH. 1967. Nature 215: 208-210]


£10m cost of turning OFF British wind farms

Wind farm operators are on course to earn up to £10 million this year for turning off their turbines.

Official figures disclosed that 17 operators were paid almost £7 million for shutting down their farms on almost 40 ­occasions between January and mid-September. Continuing to make payments at that rate would lead to householders paying out £9.9 million in 2011 for operators to disconnect their turbines from the National Grid.

The scale of the payments triggered a review of the rules on so-called constraint payments. The payments are made when too much electricity floods the grid, with the network unable to absorb any excess power generated. The money is ultimately added on to household bills and paid for by consumers.

Last year, only £176,788 of such payments were made, but changes in the way the National Grid, which supplies energy to retail companies, “balances” the electricity network have meant a huge expansion in their use.

The rules meant that some renewable energy companies were paid more to switch off their turbines than they would have received from ordinary operations.

In September, it was disclosed that £1.2 million would go to a Norwegian company that owned 60 turbines in the Scottish Borders, thanks to a period of unusually high wind during the spring. Because of the rising cost, the National Grid “balancing” system could now be overhauled to reduce the use of constraint payments.

Constraint payments have added to political and public hostility to onshore wind farms. A growing number of Conservative MPs are opposed to Coalition plans to increase the number of wind turbines. Ministers say Britain needs more “renewable” energy generation to reduce the dependence on gas imported from Russia and the Middle East.

Chris Heaton Harris, a Conservative MP, said the unpopularity of wind farms was eroding support for all sorts of renewable power. “I know from my mailbag and from the number of emails I receive every day on the matter that people are turning against renewables of just about every type because wind turbines are, among other things, so badly sold,” he said.

“Onshore wind generation requires a 100 per cent back-up of carbon-burning technology or nuclear energy, should the wind not blow, and in addition to the devastation of the visual environment there are the problems of noise and flicker. They are the wrong renewables choice.”

The turbine industry says that constraint payments are a sign of problems with the National Grid, and not the turbines themselves. Charles Hendry, an energy minister, confirmed the latest payments, and said the system the National Grid used to calculate the fees was being reviewed.

“Reducing or increasing the output of generators is a normal part of National Grid’s role to balance supply and demand, and it will pick the most cost-effective way to deliver what is required,” he said. “However, the recent requirement to use wind farms to manage the system has raised questions as to whether the current market-wide balancing arrangements for wind are appropriate. “National Grid has launched a consultation to seek views on the issues involved.”


OSU Fracking Study Misrepresents Natural Gas Benefits

Amanda Weinstein and Mark Partridge, two Ohio State University economists, have published a report titled “The Economic Value of Shale Natural Gas in Ohio.” The report’s primary emphasis is on statements made by industry-funded studies related to the employment benefits of natural gas extraction from the Marcellus and Utica Shales.

While I think their analysis understates the employment benefits of responsible natural gas development, the larger issue with their report occurs when the authors step outside of their expertise to analyze the costs and benefits of natural gas more generally. This section systematically understates the benefits of natural gas, selectively cites literature without acknowledging recent research, and misrepresents the industry’s current response to chemical disclosure.

No Effect on Energy Security?

The report views energy security as being solely a problem of oil imports, but this viewpoint is simplistic and does not account for the greater energy security benefits attained through global supply shifts.

A Department of Energy-funded study produced by the Baker Institute for Public Policy Energy Forum addressed this very topic in depth in July 2011. Some of the most significant energy security findings were that shale development:

* Reduces competition for liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies from the Middle East, thereby moderating prices and spurring greater use of natural gas, an outcome with significant implications for global environmental objectives.

* Combats the long-term potential monopoly power of a “gas OPEC” or a single producer such as Russia to exercise dominance over large natural gas consumers in Europe or elsewhere.

* Reduces the opportunity for Venezuela to become a major LNG exporter and thereby lowers longer-term dependence in the Western Hemisphere and in Europe on Venezuelan LNG.

* Reduces Iran’s ability to tap energy diplomacy as a means to strengthen its regional power or to buttress its nuclear ambitions.

These benefits have been recognized by the Shale Gas Production Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, a multi-stakeholder panel convened by the Obama administration, and have led MIT researchers to suggest greater market liquidity as a result of shale gas extraction will “contribute to security by enhancing diversity of global supply and resilience to supply disruptions for the U.S. and its allies.”

For the authors to understate such a significant benefit so flippantly suggests a lack of knowledge or a desire to direct attention away from the benefits of natural gas.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fracking

Weinstein and Partridge cite the highly discredited Howarth 2011 study without any reference to the numerous, substantive critiques that emerged following its release. I wanted to discount this as a review error; things emerged later in the publishing process that the writers may have missed. But the following paragraph references EPA’s recent allegations of Wyoming water pollution, which suggests the paper was updated very recently. Their statement insinuates the same conclusions as the Howarth study, without directly validating it. The authors would have been better off citing one of the many alternatives that have emerged since.

Fracking Fluid and Voluntary Disclosure

Somewhat in passing, Weinstein and Partridge make accusations about unknown toxic chemicals that are present in hydraulic fracturing fluid that companies “have continually refused to disclose for proprietary reasons.” This may have been the case in years past, but industry groups, such as the Marcellus Shale Coalition, have pledged to voluntarily disclose their chemicals through According to the most recent records, Chesapeake Energy (the largest player in the region) has already voluntarily disclosed the contents of its fracturing fluid in all of its horizontal wells that are either completed or producing natural gas.

I’m not saying chemical disclosure is not warranted, but to stoke fears of chemical contamination without recognizing voluntary initiatives as well as the current regulatory trajectory, serves only to suggest sinister motives that have not proven to be true.

Final Thoughts

The economic analysis of Weinstein and Partridge is important in providing another data point into the projected employment benefits of hydraulic fracturing, but their skewed analysis in placing those benefits within the larger context is lacking and should be revised to reflect a higher standard of research.


Siberian methane researchers reject Greenie panic and urge caution about jumping to conclusions

Semiletov and Shakhova:

We would first note that we have never stated that the reason for the currently observed methane emissions were due to recent climate change. In fact, we explained in detail the mechanism of subsea permafrost destabilization as a result of inundation with seawater thousands of years ago. We have been working in this scientific field and this region for a decade. We understand its complexity more than anyone. And like most scientists in our field, we have to deal with slowly improving understanding of ongoing processes that often incorporates different points of views expressed by different groups of researchers.

Yes, modeling is important. However, we know that modeling results cannot prove or disprove real observations because modeling always assumes significant simplification and should be validated with observational data, not vice versa. Much of our work includes this field validation. Last spring, we extracted a 53-meter long core sample from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, to validate our conclusions about the current state of subsea permafrost. We found that the temperatures of the sediments were from 1.2 to 0.6 degrees below zero, Celsius, yet they were completely thawed. The model in the Dmitrenko paper [link] assumed a thaw point of zero degrees. Our observations show that the cornerstone assumption taken in their modeling was wrong. The rate at which the subsea permafrost is currently degrading largely depends on what state it was in when recent climate change appeared. It makes sense that modeling on an incorrect assumption about thaw point could create inaccurate results.

Observations are at the core of our work now. It is no surprise to us that others monitoring global methane have not found a signal from the Siberian Arctic or increase in global emissions. [This refers to the work of Ed Dlugokencky and others; see his comments in my Dot Earth post.] The number of stations monitoring atmospheric methane concentrations worldwide is very few. In the Arctic there are only three such stations — Barrow, Alert, Zeppelin — and all are far away from the Siberian Arctic. We are doing our multi-year observations, including year-round monitoring, in proximity to the source. In addition to measuring the amount of methane emitted from the area, we are trying to find out whether there is anything specific about those emissions that could distinguish them from other sources. It is incorrect to say that anyone is able to trace that signal yet.

All models must be validated by observations. New data obtained in our 2011 cruise and other unpublished data give us a clue to reevaluate if the scale of methane releases from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf seabed is assessed correctly (papers are now in preparation). This is how science works: step by step, from hypothesis based on limited data and logic to expanded observations in order to gain more facts that could equally prove or disprove the hypothesis. We would urge people to consider this process, not jump to conclusions and be open to the idea that new observations may significantly change what we understand about our world.


The great global climate con

A comment from India

India must eschew the global climate deal that was recently proposed in Durban as it will infringe on the economic freedom of Indians. The proposal seeks to raise money for a global climate fund by setting up an international license-raj for industries and imposing shipping and carbon taxes. The taxes and fees will result in the transfer of wealth from India and China to the West as the two countries will contribute the most to global economic activity in coming years.

The shipping tax will increase the cost of various goods while the carbon tax will reduce India’s competitiveness by retarding the growth of its industries.

While India potentially faces these hardships, supporters of the fund have prepared themselves to reap a windfall. The licences, known as carbon credits, will be traded on financial exchanges resulting in billions of dollars in transaction fees and profits for the European Climate Exchange and financial firms like Goldman Sachs.

A former adviser of the American presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama has even patented a carbon trading plan.

As the creation, supply and demand of the licences depend on legislation, it is certain that lobbyists will pressure governments to pass laws favorable to them. This is already the case with Al Gore, whose London-based firm, Generation Investment Management, has hoarded up carbon credits from the scheme implemented in several countries. The prices of these credits have crashed as troubled east European industries have flooded the market with the credits after getting them for shutting down manufacturing units. Investors left holding these carbon credits can be bailed out only if an international treaty forces Indians and Chinese to shop for carbon credits.

Other lobbyists include associates of American politicians who have invested in expensive, unprofitable and inefficient technologies that they have labeled ‘clean tech.’ They seek subsidies and legislation to create a market for their products by outlawing goods like incandescent light bulbs.

The proposed climate fund will be similar to other international funds that award contracts and grants to corporations and non-profit groups based in the US and Europe. Many members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will receive huge grants. It is little wonder, then, that despite claims of helping poor countries, it is the politicians in the West who are eager to set up the fund.

The rationale behind the fund too is unconvincing. Proponents of the fund claim that global warming is underway and warn of a catastrophic flood of biblical proportions if they are not given money. Supporters of the claim have been likened to members of a doomsday cult. In the 1970s, they predicted the onset of an ice age due to smoke from stoves in India blocking out sunlight. At that time, India was forced to purchase so-called ‘clean stoves’ from the World Bank for millions of dollars. In recent times, Al Gore, the messiah of global warming believers, has accused India’s poor of heating up the earth by using kerosene stoves to cook food. Ironically, Al Gore’s private jet plane burns up thousands of gallons of aviation grade kerosene on each flight.

Data related to the global warming claims too have not been without controversy and some scientists have invited ethics investigations due to scientific misconduct. Jairam Ramesh, as the environment minister, countered claims originating at NASA’s Goddard Center by pointing out that Himalayan glaciers had not shrunk but grown in size.

In recent years, NASA has also quietly lowered its baseline long term global average temperature from 15 to 14 degrees Celsius, allowing it to claim higher temperature deviations. Despite the change, collating NASA’s press releases over several years shows a decline in global temperature. NASA now puts out numbers from a computer software model instead of actual temperatures.

Indians who oppose corruption should also fight it at the global level. The desperation of the proponents of the climate fund to clinch the deal is seen from their wooing of Indian politicians at conferences organised at Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban. It is important for India to reject the climate deal and ensure that its interests are not sold by politicians for personal gains.


Australian Leftist government's pandering to the Greens costs the country a fortune

THE Labor government's tenuous hold on power has already cost taxpayers almost $15 billion.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard spent $65 for every Australian in order to keep the Greens and independents happy - and her party in government - all while facing global financial turmoil and a wafer-thin budget surplus, The Daily Telegraph reported.

An analysis shows the costs extended beyond deals struck after the election, with Labor forced to extinguish political spot fires and buy votes for policies such as the carbon and mining taxes.

The $14.95 billion bill after less than half Labor's term is in contrast to a $950 million revenue windfall after a Greens campaign to adopt its fringe benefits tax to encourage a reduction in driving.

NSW independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott strengthened their positions as major powerbrokers, involved in deals worth $4.2 billion compared to the $364 million of Andrew Wilkie.

Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan defended Labor's economic record, pointing to the regional focus of much of the funds as returning the proceeds of the mining boom.

But the opposition attacked the greener initiatives as wasteful and evidence that Ms Gillard was unable to stand up to Greens leader Bob Brown.

University of Melbourne professor Mark Considine said there were only minor positives in what he called an "inefficient form of democracy".

"It's very similar to what has happened in the American system where every bill has to contain inducements across the board for bringing people on board," he said. "There is a high cost in the time spent bringing people on board and the exaggerated power of some minority groups and electorates that distorts everything."

The Greens have won $10.275 billion - headlined by the $10 billion clean energy fund - while Queensland independent Bob Katter scored a $335 million renewable energy promise a day after backing the Coalition.

In one vote-buying spree last month, Labor spent $320 million securing three lower house votes to allow its mining tax package to pass.

At least one promise has blown out, with the $75 million pledged to Mr Oakeshott to expand Port Macquarie Hospital rising to $96 million.

Mr Windsor, who was promised $20 million for Tamworth Hospital but has since scored another $120 million, said his efforts had won important money for the regions and improved the outcome of key policies. "Very little is local (in my seat)," he said. "I don't think the punter in the street would object to much of this."

A spokesman for Mr Swan defended the deal-making, insisting the federal government still had a strong economic record on jobs, interest rates and maintaining the AAA credit rating.

"Regional Australia - where one third of Australians live - has every right to decent government services and to enjoy the benefits of the mining boom," the spokesman said.

Opposition government waste spokesman Jamie Briggs said while he did not object to regional initiatives such as health and road, he claimed many of the billions demanded by the Greens was a waste.

"Gillard's lack of courage to stand up to the Greens is costing taxpayers," he said.



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: