Monday, June 18, 2012

A suppressed truth

Greenies mainline on ice-core records -- but are those records on their side? Some findings have just leaked out in New Zealand which say not

Al Gore’s movie and book, “An Inconvenient Truth” convinced John Key and many other New Zealand politicians that catastrophic climate change was real and happening in their time, thanks largely to a now discredited temperature graph known as “the hockey stick”.

But now a real temperature graph using ice core data from Antarctica shows just how much the public and politicians were conned. The Law Dome ice core study has been languishing unpublished for more than a decade, and the picture below, featuring global temperatures on the vertical axis and the years in AD on the horizontal, shows modern temperatures are cooler than they were a thousand years ago.

How, you may ask, does an ice-core at -70 below in Antarctica measure global temperatures? Certain Oxygen isotopes are more prevalent in warmer climates, and less prevalent in the cold, and after adjusting for the known location scientists can establish – from when the oxygen was captured in the ice – how warm the circulating global atmosphere was at the time.

In comparison, the discredited “Hockey Stick” tries to suggest modern temperatures are hotter than ever.


It's no wonder the world's cooling on climate change

By James Delingpole, writing from England

They used to call it ‘Flaming June’. Nearer the mark today would be ‘Flaming ruddy awful June’. We are on the cusp of the Summer Solstice (starting on Wednesday evening), in the wake of the wettest April on record and in the midst of what promises to be a June that is both record-breakingly damp and 1.4C cooler than average. Out of our rain-streaked windows we spy leaden skies, louring clouds and oily puddles.

Of course, you are not supposed to ask yourselves: ‘Whatever happened to global warming?’

Not even if you say it particularly quietly, or as a joke. If you do, chances are you will be sharply reminded that ‘weather is not the same as climate’.

This is true. But it’s also a bit of a cop-out. After all, as most of us are now aware, there has been no ‘global warming’ since 1998, which is when the curve on the graph goes flat.

In the eternally moving battlefield of claim and counter-claim in the great climate change debate, even the fervently warmist Professor Phil Jones – of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – concedes that there has been no ‘statistically significant warming’ since 1995.

In the simplest, human terms, therefore, no one younger than 14 years old has experienced global warming.

So why does our Government go on acting as if it’s a major problem? Why all these hugely expensive commitments to ‘decarbonisation’ and ‘renewable energy’? Why all the eco-taxes on our holiday flights and wind-farms – if the supposed threat they were designed to avert now turns out to be unsupported by real-world evidence?

It is not just ‘deniers’ who are asking these questions. Last week, in London, the Global Warming Policy Foundation hosted a lecture by a leading German green – former activist and Hamburg state environment senator Prof Fritz Vahrenholt.

The evidence for man-made global warming is looking shakier by the day, Germany’s answer to Jonathon Porritt or George Monbiot admitted. Far more likely a culprit is the sun.

Vahrenholt isn’t the only green guru to recant. Earlier this year, Prof James Lovelock graciously conceded his doomsday claims about climate change – for example his prediction that 80 per cent of all humans would be wiped out by 2100 – had been somewhat overdone.

‘The world has not warmed up very much since the Millennium,’ he said. ‘The problem is that we don’t know what climate is doing. We thought we did 20 years ago.’ Indeed we did.

But as a reminder of just how very much things have changed between then and now, we have the Rio +20 Summit opening in Brazil this week. Staged by the United Nations to mark the 20th anniversary of the world’s first Earth Summit (also held in Rio), it is turning out to be a pale imitation of the original.

The 1992 Rio Earth Summit was the greatest political gathering the world had ever seen – attended by politicians from 172 countries, including no fewer than 108 presidents and prime ministers.

At the end of it, 154 nations signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) committing themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth’s climate system’. In fact, symbolically, it was rather humbling – an example of how humanity coalesced in the face of a common enemy.

Alas, two decades on, about the best Rio +20 can manage is Nick Clegg. President Obama is not going, nor is Angela Merkel, nor David Cameron. Global warming no longer seems to be quite the urgent threat it was after a succession of bitingly cold winters and miserable summers.

Like the disastrous Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban summits before it, the Rio event looks set to be another damp squib, beset by bickering, achieving nothing other than a few vague, non-binding commitments to do something serious some time in the future.

How much simpler things were in the early Nineties. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had just produced its first Assessment Report in which the world’s most expert scientists all apparently agreed that the world was doomed to burn in hellfire unless man amended his wicked ways.

The three IPCC reports since then have confirmed this prognosis with increasingly shrill certainty. But, unfortunately, no one outside the Government and the green movement takes them very seriously any more, because the real world has stubbornly refused to act in accordance with all the climate scientists’ scary predictions.

Sea levels have not risen dramatically. ‘Threatened’ regions such as Tuvalu, the Maldives and Bangladesh have not drowned. Polar bear populations continue to thrive. Arctic sea ice is recovering while the Antarctic ice is expanding. But, most damningly of all, global warming stopped at the end of the last century.

And if we’re to believe Fritz Vahrenholt in his bestselling book Die Kalte Sonne (The Cold Sun) it’s in no danger of starting any time soon.

Vahrenholt’s thesis – based on the observations of increasingly respected scientists such as the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark – is that the main agent of climate change is not CO2 but solar radiation.

Much of the mild global warming we’ve experienced in the past 150 years (a rise of about 0.8C) was, it would appear, the result of solar activity (detectable in the number of sun spots) which is now slowing down.

We are entering a period of ‘weak’ solar cycles, and this decline in activity is expected to continue until about 2040, by which time – according to some pessimistic predictions – global mean temperatures will have fallen by 2C.

For many of us, in other words, ‘global warming’ is something we will never experience again in our lifetime. From now on we can expect drabber, wetter summers and colder winters.

And as if that weren’t depressing enough, here are our political leaders regulating and carbon taxing our economies as if the non-existent global warming problem was still something to fear.

This is madness – and one day future historians will see it as such. They will gasp in astonishment that in 2011 the global carbon trading market climbed to a record $176 billion (£113 billion) – about the same as global wheat production.

They will ask how CO2 could be valued as highly as the essential foodstuff that supplies 20 per cent of the calories consumed by the seven billion people on the planet.

A good place for them to start would be the hysteria and optimism of that original Earth summit, in which a mix of panic and good intentions were allowed to override common sense. In short, blame it on Rio.


Influence Peddling with a Shade of Green

Do I need to say how this will end up?

Everybody has heard about Solyndra and the many other failures of the DOE green energy grant and loan program replete with scandalous political paybacks to Obama supporters. Now there's another one. It involves the largest single loan guarantee of the entire $16 billion program, a current Cabinet Secretary and a former Chief-of-Staff to Vice-President Joe Biden.

BrightSource Energy spent two years and half a million dollars lobbying the Obama Administration to approve a $1.6 billion loan guarantee for the gigantic Ivanpah solar-power plant in California's Mojave Desert. Facing what the company called a "do-or-die deadline" in early 2011, BrightSource pulled out all the stops and further leveraged their considerable political connections to the max.

Bernie Toon, former Chief-of-Staff to Joe Biden in the Senate, was hired to ramp-up lobbying efforts with top Administration officials. On March 9, 2011, just days after being hired, Toon escorted three BrightSource executives to the White House for a meeting with Alan Hoffman, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation. Hoffman was Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice-President according to White House personnel reports.

On March 15, there was a meeting with officials at the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

BrightSource also leveraged the influence of company Chairman John Bryson by sending a "proposed letter" to the DOE green-energy loan program director, Jonathan Silver, threatening to call on Bryson's close personal friend White House Chief-of-Staff William Daley for intervention. Silver apparently got the message, and within hours Silver sent an email saying there was no need for Bryson to contact Daley. "Mr. Silver assured BrightSource that its deal was 'on track'" according to the WSJ.

The $1.6 billion loan guarantee was approved on April 5, and Toon's lobbying contract ended. He clipped a cool $40,000 for barely a month of his service. The next month, May 2011, Obama nominated John Bryson to be Secretary of Commerce. Bryson recently took a medical leave of absence after being involved in two hit-and-run accidents in southern California.

Regardless of all the meetings and influence peddling at the highest levels, the White House maintains that the DOE made the BrightSource loan guarantee decision "based on the project's merits" completely independent of White House pressure or political considerations.

But, they also made sure that the DOE's John Silver "didn't respond to messages seeking comment" by the Wall Street Journal about this latest messy disclosure of how business really gets done in the Obama White House.


Paper, Plastic or Cloth: Which Bag is Best for the Environment?

Which is the most earth-friendly: paper bags, plastic bags or cloth bags?

The answer to the question depends upon whether or not you really believe in science, because as they say in certain environmental activist circles, the "science is settled"! Here's the summary description of the bag found to be the best for the environment, which is defined as being the bag with the least negative impact upon the environment, as found in a very recent and thorough study on the topic:
The conventional HDPE bag had the lowest environmental impacts of the lightweight bags in eight of the nine impact categories. The bag performed well because it was the lightest bag considered. The lifecycle impact of the bag was dictated by raw material extraction and bag production, with the use of Chinese grid electricity significantly affecting the acidification and ecotoxicity of the bag.

Yes, the convential High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) (aka "plastic") bag had the least impact upon the environment of all the bags considered in the study, which considered a number of bags made from different plastics, as well as both paper and cotton-based materials!

But that's only considering using each type of bag just once. For many eco-oriented people, the whole point is to reuse other kinds of bags to counteract the perceived environmental hazards posed by the conventional plastic bag.

Fortunately, the study revealed how many times the alternatives to the conventional plastic bag would have to be reused to overcome their own negative impacts to the environment:

Here, we find that if a consumer only uses a conventional HDPE plastic bag just once (say to carry their groceries home before throwing the bag away), a paper bag would have to be reused 3 times, a heavy-duty plastic bag made from Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) would have to be used 4 times, a plastic "bag-for-life" made of non-woven Polypropylene (PP) would have to be used 11 times, and a cotton (or canvas) bag would need to be re-used 131 times!

The study reports that a canvas bag is expected to last for 52 trips (Table A.3.1). With that as a reference, a cotton/cloth canvas bag user does over twice the damage to the environment that a plastic bag using grocery shopper who throws away every plastic bag they get immediately after each shopping trip, as they will likely have to replace their more environmentally-destructive bag at least once long before they reach 131 uses!

However, if a consumer reuses 100% of their conventional HDPE plastic bags (say as trash bags), the number of uses needed for the other bags to have a lesser environmental impact than the conventional HDPE plastic bag rises by a factor of anywhere from 2.2 to 2.5, which we see in the table above. For example, that re-usable canvas bag would need to be used at least 327 times to be less damaging to the environment!

Which makes the eco-friendly canvas bag user over six times as destructive to the environment as the conventional consumer who simply re-uses all the plastic bags they get from the grocery store just once.

If only those anti-plastic bag advocates cared more about the environment....


New hope for shale oil in Utah

People in Parachute, Colorado remember all too well the Black Sunday on May 2nd 1982 when Exxon suddenly closed its oil shale development there. Over 2,000 people found themselves out of work.

People still don’t trust oil shale, and given the story of Parachute, Colorado, one can understand why. Heretofore, oil shale has been too difficult to extract and required too much energy and water to make it viable energy source.

In recent years, a company called Enefit American Oil, based out of Estonia has moved into Utah and plans on setting up shop to extract oil from the shale. Enefit and its supporters point to Estonia as a country where oil shale has been in use for a hundred years, and also claim that the company has developed a method by which the oil can be extracted from the shale with almost no water. The company also points to its track record on reclamation in Estonia and to the fact that its emissions exceed the stringent requirements of the European Union.

The company appears to have found the Rosetta Stone that will allow it to crack the shale code in the United States. Its arrival will mean energy jobs in the State of Utah and will also add another alternative to the energy options box. By all indications, the company is a bright spot in the difficult history of oil shale development in the America.


Republicans who think that Greenies can be appeased

When will they learn that there's no such thing as a happy Greenie and that no Greenie will ever vote GOP anyway?

Support for available, abundant, and affordable energy generally falls along party lines—with Republicans supporting “responsible” energy (the stuff that really works) and Democrats pushing “renewable" energy (the stuff they hope will work someday). But when an elected official, or spokesperson, makes foolish choices, he or she needs to be called to task.

I’ve encouraged people to tweet about Karl Rove’s contrarian position backing the extension of the wind energy subsidy, known as the PTC, which is set to naturally expire at the end of this year. Rove’s PTC extension support puts him at odds with most of the Republican Party. We can’t vote Rove out, but we can shame him for supporting a subsidy at a time when we have to borrow from China to do it. He should know better.

I’ve asked people to call or email Tennessee’s Republican Senator Lamar Alexander to pressure him to join his party—and coal state and vulnerable Democrats—in supporting Senator Inhofe’s resolution (SJ 37) that would neuter President Obama’s regulatory war on coal. Despite the known increase in electricity prices and the hardships the regulations will put on working families, Alexander is resolutely siding with the President.

Now, it is time to call out Republican Governor Bob McDonnell—whose actions on energy more closely resemble those of the Obama administration than his Republican colleagues.

While campaigning, McDonnell vowed to make his state of Virginia the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.” His campaign website states: “Bob McDonnell’s plan for ‘More energy, More Jobs’ takes an ‘all of the above’ approach to solving our energy crisis. His administration will continue to support the traditional sources of energy that provide thousands of jobs to Virginians and help keep our electricity costs fairly low. He will also expand investments in renewable energy sources and incentivize green job creation so that the future of Virginia remains bright.”

Governor McDonnell has made some strides—that parallel President Obama’s—toward investments in renewable energy. Though his heralded pilot offshore wind turbine project has been put on hold, in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, McDonnell touts his record: “During my term as governor, we have focused on making Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. In just two years our state has taken aggressive actions to harness the power of offshore wind and promote greater utilization of solar energy. Had the president not stopped Virginia's offshore oil and gas efforts, a portion of the revenue from those efforts would have gone—under a law passed during my term of office—to renewable energy research.”

Notably missing is any mention of nuclear power and the important fuel that makes it possible: uranium—both of which are abundant in Virginia. The state has four nuclear reactors and one of the world’s largest uranium ore deposits. Discovered in the late 1970s, the Coles Hill deposit has yet to be tapped—despite the fact that Virginia gets 40% of its power from nuclear and 92% of the uranium comes from outside our country.

In 1982, legislators imposed a temporary moratorium on uranium mining until the state could conduct an independent environmental study and state agencies could develop an appropriate regulatory program. After all, Virginia knows how to mine coal, but they have no experience with uranium. The study was completed in 1984 and determined that “uranium development in [in Pittsylania County] can be undertaken with minimal risks.” Based on the study, the legislature's Uranium Task Force concluded that “uranium development activity can be undertaken with an acceptable level of risk and with economic benefits to the state,” and recommended, by a 15-2 vote, that the General Assembly lift the moratorium and task state agencies with developing a regulatory and permitting program. Before the moratorium was lifted, the bottom fell out of the uranium market and the company that had leased the mining rights moved on. Interest in developing the regulatory framework dissipated.

But that was then and this is now. The global uranium market is surging. With 430 nuclear power plants worldwide and 65 new reactors under construction—with more planned, more uranium is being consumed than is being mined. The difference is being made up by depleting inventories of Cold War weaponry.

The timing couldn’t be better! The economy is in shambles. People need jobs—good paying jobs. The American trade deficit is higher than ever. And, right there in one of Virginia’s most economically depressed counties—a region formerly known for tobacco farming—is a natural resource, owned by a consortium of local folks, that would create 1000 jobs—325 of which will be directly hired by the company with wages in excess of $65,000 per year for 30+ years.

Yet Governor “Energy Capital” is, according to an April 6, 2012 Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper headline, “mum on mining”—the subtitle reads: “McDonnell will pass along uranium study but won’t weigh in.” Similarly, the Danville Register headline reads: “On uranium, Gov. to stay silent.”

No one is asking McDonnell to “weigh in” based on 30-year-old data. The Virginia Coal & Energy Commission engaged the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct an 18-month study of the public health and environmental impacts of uranium mining. They also hired Chmura Economics to do a socioeconomic study.

Both studies were completed in December 2011, just weeks before the 2012 General Assembly. Most people expected a bill to lift the moratorium would be introduced. Instead of touting the positive economic impacts the socioeconomic study predicted—1,000 jobs, $5 billion in new revenue for Virginia companies, $110 million in local and state tax revenue or praising the major advances in best practices and regulations made in uranium mining over the past 30 years that drastically improve the industry’s environmental performance and mitigate the environmental problems experienced during the early Cold War days of the industry, as demonstrated by the NAS study—Governor “Energy Capital” followed President Obama’s Keystone Pipeline model.

Refusing to take a decisive stand on one side or the other, McDonnell kicked the can down the road and “issues a directive to state agencies to analyze scientific and legal issues and report back prior to 2013.” This Uranium Working Group (UWG) is expected to produce another report: a “draft statutory proposal and regulatory framework” by December 1.

It is important to understand that, in addition to the 30-year-old studies and the two recent ones, members of the administration have personally been to the Coles Hill deposit site, and they have visited successful Canadian uranium mining operations. Lifting the temporary, 30-year-old moratorium would not allow one shovel of dirt to be extracted. Lifting the moratorium would allow the process of creating the rules and regulations necessary for uranium mining to begin. Actually extracting the resource would still be years down the road once the “regulatory framework” is in place.

Governor “Energy Capital” could come out with encouragement, “I eagerly await the release of the UWG’s report. I believe we can learn from successful mining operations in Canada and replicate their positive socioeconomic impact for Virginia. Assuming the report green lights the project, I look forward to issuing a recommendation that the moratorium be lifted so the state can begin layering in a regulatory regime, gathering public comments, and refining the oversight mechanism needed for future uranium mining.” Instead, he is “mum.”

Even worse, McDonnell has dodged any position. He recently expressed his lack of commitment by saying he’d reserve the right to either recommend lifting the moratorium, recommend not lifting the moratorium, or to recommend nothing at all and let the General Assembly handle it. (Perhaps his all-purpose position is to avoid having a stand for which he can be held accountable should he get the VP nod.)

A May 29 radio interview offers a clue to his motives. Like President Obama on the Keystone pipeline, he’s been pressured by environmentalists who don’t want to see any mining (or any energy development for that matter). I’ve encountered the same type of obstructionists while fighting for uranium mining in New Mexico.

All is not lost.

McDonnell seems to be waking up to the fact that no matter how many studies they do, no matter how safe uranium mining is proven to be, no matter how many jobs will be created, and no matter how much producing a product in demand on the global market will help the American economy, the environmentalists will never approve.

During the May 29 radio interview, he expressed his exasperation with them: “These people don't want us to even study it. They've made their decision. They've made up their mind that they don't want us to look at it. They don't want us to study it. They don't want us to have any mining going on. That's just ridiculous. What I want to do is just get the facts. I don't have a decision made. They do. Our job—at the direction of the General Assembly—is to get the facts and to determine ‘can we mine it safely?’”

The UWG is holding a series of four public meetings during the next six months as they draft a statutory and conceptual regulatory framework. The UWG will hear public comments following their presentation. The environmentalists have historically been activated—filling hearings with “anti” rhetoric. People, who support the prosperity a project like Coles Hill can create, sit them out.

Often the only public comment received is from the obstructionists—leaving commission or board members to conclude that the vocal minority is the majority. The first of the four meetings is being held Monday, June 18, beginning at 6:00 PM at the Chatham High School, 100 Cavalier Circle, Chatham, VA. Anyone within range is encouraged to show up, stand up, and speak up on behalf the safe extraction of uranium. Additionally, comments can be made through the UWG website.

Will McDonnell keep his campaign promise and move Virginia toward being the “Energy Capital” or will he be kowtowed by the environmentalists who don’t want “any mining going on”—making Virginia an “energy prison” with the natural resources locked up? We know he’s been pressured from the left. Perhaps he just needs pressure from the right.



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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