Saturday, January 07, 2012

Climate change 'will boost British farmers’

Coming from official Britain, this mention of positives is quite amazing

Climate change will be good for British farming, according to Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, with exotic crops such as melons already thriving.

In a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, she said that, although problems such as droughts would become more frequent, warmer weather would also mean a longer growing season and less frost damage, allowing the introduction of crops such as peaches, maize and sunflowers. Already 10,000 melons are expected to be harvested in Kent this year.

Mrs Spelman said farmers must “seize the opportunities” of increased production as well as preparing for more droughts and floods by building reservoirs and drains. “Climate change could mean reduced water availability. Also, soil moisture deficits, heat stress on animals, floods, droughts and the loss of some of the best agricultural land,” she said. “It could also bring longer growing seasons, reduced frost damage, and the opportunity to introduce new crops and livestock species.”

An advice service for farmers wll offer tips on how to adapt to climate change such as the kind of crops they can plant and new breeds of sheep and cows that do well in a warmer climate. Farmers are also being encouraged to use water more efficiently through new irrigation methods and produce their own energy through solar power and from animal waste.

A study commissioned by the conference from the Scottish Agricultural College even suggested that the boost from a warmer climate could help Britain compete in the global market as production was reduced elsewhere.

Mrs Spelman warned that British agriculture would struggle in the future against emerging economies such as Brazil and China, but expertise in food safety, technology and adapting to climate change could be exported.

Last year was the second warmest year on record in the UK, with droughts in the South East and Anglia lasting into December. The Met Office predicts that the number of households under “water stress” will increase to almost a quarter of the population by 2100 as the average temperature rises by up to 3C in the South. Over the same period, an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land will become more suitable for crops.

A presentation by the English Wine Producers association warned that so many vineyards were being planted because of warmer weather that there was a risk that England would lose its reputation for only high quality wine.


In the battle of man vs. nature, give me man

Welcoming the new year contemplating the sunset comfortably ensconced on a cliffside balcony high above the manicured banks of the Miami River, it’s hard not to marvel at the hand of man. Behold as lights defeat the growing darkness, lending sparkle to a condo canyon that was once a malarial swamp. Yes, the pristine wilderness is a wonderful place to visit, but most rational people would rebel if forced to live there.

All living beings transform the environment to suit their needs, but none as thoroughly as man. This virtue is essential to progress and civilization, yet today it is under assault as never before.

The impetus for this assault is fundamentally religious, though its practitioners present a scientific pose. To understand how the new religion is structured one need only replace the deity with Mother Nature, the messiah with Al Gore, the devil with carbon, carnal sin with consumption of non-renewable resources, and blasphemy with global warming denial. The result is a neo-Puritanism that denigrates the accomplishments that separate man from beast. The neo-Puritans yearn for a return to a harmonious Eden where humans are just another animal that knows its place.

How did we get here? The birth of environmentalism is actually quite laudable given the extent to which we despoiled our surroundings on the way to becoming both rich and aware enough to start cleaning up after ourselves. Despite some foot dragging, we’ve done a magnificent job of doing just that over the past 40 years—making our air more breathable, our water more drinkable, and our surroundings less cluttered with the cast-off detritus of our material progress. The Chinese will no doubt do the same over the next 40 years as they grow tired of marinating in their own effluvia.

So just as many elements of Judeo-Christian ethics can be adopted as an aid to virtue without a need to accept the extreme dogmas of organized religion, so can many elements of environmentalism aid us in caring for the planet without having to buy into the original sin that derides man as a form of pollution.

If getting along with these people were only a matter of religious toleration it would be manageable, but it is not, as they have supplanted the real threats posed by water and air pollution with the ineffable mystery of opaque computer simulations forecasting doom. And what is the only way to avoid Judgment Day, according to the high priests of our new world order? Surrender the economy. Now!

The political problem, as stated by British blogger James Delingpole, is that, “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, regulation.” As progressive polemicist Naomi Klein points out in her recent must-read attack on both capitalism and climate change skeptics in The Nation, the inconvenient truth about critics who warn that global warming alarmism is being used to lay the foundation for one-world socialism is that, “[T]hey are not wrong.”

After an ad hominem attack on several pro-free market organizations—including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, for which I write—Klein describes the progressive master plan quite clearly.
Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. … In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda.

Indeed, global warming alarmism packs so much power to propel political and economic transformation in a statist direction that if it didn’t already exist, leftists would have to invent it.

So, where does this leave us now? Combine religiously based environmentalism with ideologically driven progressivism, blend in the mindless street agitation of the Occupy movement, use it to slap a fresh coat of paint on a failed president grasping for relevance in the midst of an economic meltdown, and you get a combustible mixture primed to explode some time before November.

The question is: In whose face will this blow up? Will we give a clear mandate to leaders who celebrate man’s exceptionalism, understanding that the incidental problems created as we harness technology to bend nature to our will can be solved using more technology? Or will we cede power over every aspect of our lives to an elite that claims to speak for the inanimate environment and seeks to command us to live with less, redistribute our property, and empower politically appointed central planners to scale down and reshape civilization to appease Mother Nature’s wrath?

The choice will be yours. You have ten months to make up your mind.


Pike Research survey shows decline of consumer interest in plug-in electric vehicles

Yes, contrary to all the green writers and readers out there, and just in time for the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit , Pike Research’s latest survey shows consumer interest in plug-in electric vehicles has declined in the past two years. Question may be, why? Bet you can guess.

Nonetheless, the latest news release by Pike research indicates 2012 will be an important test of the commercial viability of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Two automakers, Chevrolet and Nissan, ended 2010 with the launch of their first highway-capable PEVs for the mass market; and many other auto manufacturers are working to electrify their lineups with new models. Toyota especially plans to launch the PEV Prius in January 2012 and other manufacturers have plans to launch plug-in electric models in the near future.

However, as public awareness of electric vehicles continues to build with the increase in model launch activity, the new survey from Pike Research finds that consumer interest in purchasing PEVs has gradually declined over the past two years. In late 2011, the cleantech market intelligence firm conducted the third annual edition of its Electric Vehicle Consumer Survey using a nationally representative and demographically balanced sample of 1,051 adults in the United States. In the first edition, conducted in 2009, 48% of respondents stated that they would be “extremely” or “very” interested in purchasing a PEV. In 2010 that number declined moderately to 44% and in 2011 it fell further to 40%.

Can you guess the reasons?

“Price is the most significant barrier to consumer interest in electric vehicles,” says research director John Gartner. “About two-thirds of our survey respondents who stated they would not be interested in purchasing a PEV said that they felt such a vehicle would be too expensive. Others said that they would want to wait a few years until the technology is more proven, and almost half said that a PEV would not have sufficient driving range for their needs. These are all key issues, both real and perceived, that automakers will need to address if PEVs are to move successfully out of the early adopter phase.”


A new "green revolution" in Bangladesh

With floods, droughts and other calamities battering deltaic Bangladesh regularly, farmers need little prompting in switching to climate-resistant varieties of rice, wheat, pulses and other staples.

The crop diversification, actively supported by the government’s research institutions, is already benefitting the 145 million people of this densely populated, predominantly agricultural South Asian country.

Mosammet Sabera Begum, 38, a farmer in Purbadebu village, Rangpur district, about 370 km from the capital, earned Bangladeshi taka 14,000 (177 dollars) last summer selling paddy cultivated on two acres of land leased from a local landlord.

"I’d planted ‘paijam’ (an early maturing rice breed) which is ready for harvest about 30 days earlier than traditional varieties that take 150 days. It is superior in quality, has higher yield and fetches better pric," said Sabera, mother of two teenage girls.

The rice variety that Sabera resorted to, developed last year by the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA,) withstands floods, drought and pest attacks and gives 4.5 - 5.5 tonnes per hectare compared to regular varieties which yield a maximum of three tonnes per hectare.

"The ‘BINA Dhan-7’ variety holds extra benefit for farmers. It can be sown during the monga (lean season beginning September) or while regular varieties are still maturing in the fields. So, in a sense, it is an additional crop harvested in shorter duration," Abdus Salam, head of research at BINA, told IPS.

"BINA Dhan–7 has good economic, social and ecological acceptance. The biggest advantage of this variety is that it takes a shorter time to grow even during extreme drought conditions."

In fact, BINA Dhan–7 combats seasonal food shortages by creating job opportunities for farm labourers who would wait for, on average, two extra months before the regular variety of rice would ripen.

Far in the southwest, 43-year-old Nargis Ara Begum dries harvested paddy in an open courtyard that she and her husband, Mukul Miah, had cultivated on highly saline soil.

"We never expected to get such a good harvest in salty soil," said Nargis who owns the small granary next to her home in the Chaukani village of Satkhira district, located some 320 km southwest of Dhaka.

Nargis and her husband had cultivated a rice variety developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) named, ‘BRRI -47’, which survives highly saline and water-logged conditions.

Farmers who had given up hope of growing crops in salty soil are keen to follow Nagis’s example and ready to invest in the new rice variety.

Not very far from Koyra lives Asma Begum, 32, a woman farmer in the Boro Nawabpur village of coastal Bagerhat district, who borrowed 914 dollars from a local non-government organisation to cultivate rice in saline soil, is confident of recovering her investment.

"I trained at the agriculture extension department learning to handle saplings. I heard that farmers in other districts successfully raised BRRI-47 and earned good profits," said Asma, who now trains other local farmers, mostly women, to cultivate BRRI-47 rice.

Last summer, in Raghunathpur village in the Birampur sub-district of north-western Dinajpur district, Raxmi Mayaboti, 39, and her husband, Kailash Sarker, cultivated a new variety of wheat on three acres of land in the arid Barind Tract – a desertified region spread over 8,000 sq km.

The environment here is dry and hot during summer and growing crops in such conditions is considered impossible, except for ‘BARI Gom 25’ a new variety of wheat developed by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council(BARC).

"We had no problem raising wheat on the dry soil," said Mayaboti. "Unlike traditional varieties of wheat, BARI Gom-25 requires water only in the initial stages and once the plants mature there is no need for further irrigation and nurturing."

Other climate-proof varieties of crops developed in Bangladesh and available in the market include tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onion, pulses, mustard oil and sugarcane.

But Bangladesh’s agricultural institutions have been most successful with cereals. They have developed some 190 varieties of wheat and rice capable of withstanding drought, salinity, flooding or temperature extremes also come up with six salt-tolerant pulses.

Despite such advances, experts feel that Bangladesh needs better cooperation from international agriculture research agencies to help farmers adapt to climate change.

Wais Kabir, executive chairman of BARC, told IPS: "We need more skilled scientists, the latest biotechnology equipment and, above all, better international collaboration to deal with the climate crisis."

The anxiety is understandable. Bangladesh’s ministry of agriculture estimates that about 80,000 hectares of arable land are lost every year due to natural disasters, prolonged floods, saline water intrusion and extended drought.


Nothing new about "extreme weather"

Not even the godfearing could escape the wrath of the storm. The Bishop of Bath and Wells was tucked up in his four-poster bed when the wind blew in the roof of his episcopal palace. He tried to flee but it was too late.

The chimney stacks came crashing down, plunging bishop and wife through the floor, burying both in the rubble.

He was found, it was reported, ‘with his brains dash’d out’ while she had wrapped herself in the sheets out of sheer terror and suffocated. They were the most eminent victims of the most catastrophic and destructive storm ever recorded as hitting the shores of Britain.

The country has trembled this week, rocked by 100mph-plus winds which caused injuries and two reported deaths, but these were relatively endurable conditions compared with the tiger of all tempests, the Great Storm of 1703.

It is often overlooked. Historians acknowledge the bad weather that almost stopped William the Conqueror in 1066 and the ‘protestant wind’ saw off the Spanish Armada in 1588. The epic snow-bound winter of 1947 and the forest- felling ‘hurricane’ of 1987 have both passed into legend.

But the daddy of all these disasters — the one against which this week’s heavy winds can justifiably be measured — was three centuries ago, in the reign of Queen Anne.

As an area of low-pressure tracked its way across the centre of the country on the Friday night and Saturday morning of November 26/27, 8,000 lives were lost, a large swathe of the Royal Navy was wiped out and the Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth was obliterated.

‘Never was such a storm of wind, such a hurricane and tempest known in the memory of man,’ wrote a chronicler of the times, ‘nor the like to be found in the histories of England.’

Gusts in the English Channel topped 140mph. So fierce was the wind that a ship torn from its moorings in the Helford River in Cornwall was blown helplessly, its cowering crew still on board as mountainous seas tossed it, for 200 miles before grounding on the Isle of Wight eight hours later.

The low pressure system causing all this was astonishing. Daniel Defoe, writer and political commentator (and later the renowned author of Robinson Crusoe) could not believe how low the mercury in his barometer had sunk, and suspected at first that his children had been messing about with the instrument.

What was actually taking place was what historian Martin Brayne terms ‘the most terrifying and catastrophic storm this island has ever known’. The hurricane-force winds caused havoc on land.

Trees were uprooted and reduced to mere matchwood. Hundreds of the windmills that dotted the landscape were destroyed and at least one burst into flames from the friction as the sails whizzed round at extraordinary speed — an uncanny precursor of the modern- day wind turbine that caught fire at Ardrossan in Scotland during high winds last month.

Church spires — which a combination of religious piety and architectural technology had been making ever higher — toppled. A curate in Kent was distraught to see his landmark spire, close to 200ft and the tallest in the county, dashed to the ground.

Lead was stripped from roofs, simply rolled up like scrolls by the unstoppable force of the wind. Tons of it were torn from the roof of Queen’s College, Oxford, and then sent hurtling through the window of the church opposite.

At Cambridge, pinnacles were blown from the top of King’s College Chapel. Gloucester, Ely and Bristol cathedrals took batterings, and the godly were convinced that the biblical proportions of what was happening meant Judgment Day was upon them.

Homes were just as vulnerable,with falling chimneys a widespread hazard. A moralising chronicler recounted the tragic tale of a child asleep in a cradle a foot from its parents’ bed. ‘The fall of a chimney beat out the infant’s brains and mashed the whole body, in the father’s and mother’s sight. ‘From whence we may observe that, in a general calamity innocency suffers with the guilty, and the poor babe is destroyed with a stroke of divine vengeance while the sinful parents are permitted to stretch out their lives.’ ....

Much more here

Green movement out of gas

In 2012, three years into President Barack Obama’s first term, green activists are asking, “What went wrong?” Where are all the new laws and regulations regulating energy use and the natural resource production? Where are the public-private partnerships signalling a new era of enironmentalist problem-solving? Where’s Al Gore? Shouldn’t he be lurking over President Obama’s shoulder, smiling, as the President signs yet another green jobs bill into law?

The question is a good one but one not easily answered. In the decades since the birth of the environmental movement, something’s clearly gone wrong. Other movements pushing for political and social change have altered the national discussion and elected candidates at every level of government.

Look at the Tea Party. Born only in 2009, it’s pushed back against the agenda of Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, forcing Congress to heel and almost sending the federal government into default. But the environmental movement seems dead in the water.

Environmentalism Fails: Legislation

In late 2010 Al Gore offered three reasons why the U.S. Senate failed to enact into law a cap-and-trade bill: Republican partisanship, the recession, and the influence of special interests. He had a point. Despite endorsements from such Republican senators as John Warner, John McCain and Lindsay Graham, every effort to pass comprehensive climate change legislation during the preceding five years had floundered in the Senate.

In 2007 Connecticut senator Joseph Lieberman (Independent) and Virginia Republican John Warner introduced a cap-and trade bill called the Climate Security Act. Their Lieberman-Warner bill was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee and sent to the floor by the committee chairman, Barbara Boxer of California. The bill’s advocates said “prompt, decisive action is critical, since global warming pollutants can persist in the atmosphere for more than a century.”

The Lieberman-Warner bill aimed to cap greenhouse gas emissions, lowering emission levels each year until 2050, when emissions were supposed to be down to 63 percent below 2005 levels. To achieve that goal, the federal government would issue right-to-emit permits to electric utilities and plants in the transportation and manufacturing industries. The bill also provided financial incentives to companies and families to reduce emissions.

The bill was doomed. Full Senate debate took place in the summer of 2008, when the average price of gasoline was well above $4 per gallon. Republican opponents successfully labeled it the biggest tax hike in history, one that imposed an enormous tax and regulatory burden on industries that would pass the cost burden onto consumers already struggling to pay for gasoline at the pump.

Republicans beat the 2007 climate change bill because they argued that it would raise gas and home heating prices, cost jobs and cripple the economy. It didn’t help that 31,000 scientists rejected the notion of man-made global warming in a letter signed and circulated two weeks before the start of the Senate debate.

The Movement Runs Out of Gas

Americans’ interest in taking action against global warming is waning, but environmental groups insist that public opinion plays no role in explaining Congress’s failure to enact comprehensive climate change legislation. Instead, green groups attribute the failure to achieve their goals to the money and power of their opponents. According to their reckoning, environmental groups are stymied by what amounts to a conspiracy of the oil industry, global warming deniers, and the Koch brothers’ vast right-wing network.

In the summer of 2011, Dr. Matthew Nisbet of American University released a pioneering 80-page report, which undermines this argument. Nisbet’s report, “Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate,” rejects the argument that the environmental movement has been outspent by right-wing donors like the Koch brothers. It says the data is inconclusive on how much supporters and opponents of a cap-and-trade bill are spending to affect the outcome. For instance, Nisbet compared the budgets of the conservative movement (think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations) to national environmental organizations. He found that in 2009, major conservative outlets took in a total of $907 million in revenue, and spent $787 million. By comparison, green groups took in $1.7 billion that year and spent $1.4 billion. Another $394 million went specifically to climate-change related programs.

Nisbet also looked at lobbying. In the aggregate, conservatives spent a bit more: $272 million vs. $229 million. But in election spending, they far outspent environmentalists in 2010. For instance, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $33 million, the Karl Rove-advised American Crossroads spent $22 million and its affiliated Crossroads GPS spent $17 million in political contributions. By contrast, the League of Conservation Voters spent $5.5 million, Defenders of Wildlife spent $1 million and the Sierra Club only $700,000.

However, state ballot initiatives tell a different story. California’s Proposition 23 is a case in point. The 2010 initiative, heavily funded by Texas-based oil companies, would have halted California regulations on greenhouse gas emissions until there was a decline in the state’s rate of unemployment. Supporters of the measure raised about $10.6 million. But opponents raised $25 million, with significiant sums from environmental groups. The National Wildlife Foundation reported spending $3 million, the National Resources Defense Council $1.67 million, and the League of Conservation Voters $1.1 million.

Nisbet also looked at foundation funding for climate change projects. What he found confirmed a 2007 study, “Design to Win: Philanthropy’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming,” which noted that philanthropists are strategic funders of environmental causes and seek to achieve specific policy goals.

It’s clear that overall, the environmental movement does not have a money problem. So what’s the problem? One prominent environmentalist, Daniel J. Weiss of Center for American Progress Action Fund, argues that the recession has played an outsized role in thwarting environmental goals. “It makes people more sensitive to the argument that various proposals will cost jobs,” says Weiss. “Oil and coal industries have made these arguments every time…but they’re falling on more receptive ears now.”

Tom Borelli, a climate-change skeptic at the National Center for Public Policy Research, agrees that a weak economy explains environmentalism’s downward spiral. “All along they were riding the wealth of our nation,” says Borelli. “Now the whole green bubble is exploding.” He points out that the movement’s energy agenda—the war on fossil fuels and the push for renewable energy—have always been unsustainable. “That’s where they failed.”

Much more here


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1 comment:

Tez said...

The Green movement is running out of gas because it was based on and feulled by bullshit in the first place!!!!!