Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bacteria outbreak in N. Europe due to ocean warming, study says

Since there has been no global warming for about 15 years, this is at most an effect of local warming. If the scientists involved has been worth feeding, they might have inquired into what made the Baltic warm so much more rapidly than anywhere else. Is Sweden teeming with SUVs?

Manmade climate change is the main driver behind the unexpected emergence of a group of bacteria in northern Europe which can cause gastroenteritis, new research by a group of international experts shows.

The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday, provided some of the first firm evidence that the warming patterns of the Baltic Sea have coincided with the emergence of Vibrio infections in northern Europe.

Vibrios is a group of bacteria which usually grow in warm and tropical marine environments. The bacteria can cause various infections in humans, ranging from cholera to gastroenteritis-like symptoms from eating raw or undercooked shellfish or from exposure to seawater.

A team of scientists from institutions in Britain, Finland, Spain and the United States examined sea surface temperature records and satellite data, as well as statistics on Vibrio cases in the Baltic.

They found the number and distribution of cases in the Baltic Sea area was strongly linked to peaks in sea surface temperatures. Each year the temperature rose one degree, the number of vibrio cases rose almost 200 percent.

"The big apparent increases that we've seen in cases during heatwave years (..) tend to indicate that climate change is indeed driving infections," Craig Baker-Austin at the UK-based Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, one of the authors of the study, told Reuters.

Climate studies show that rising greenhouse gas emissions made global average surface temperatures increase by about 0.17 degrees Celsius a decade from 1980 to 2010.

The Vibrio study focused on the Baltic Sea in particular because it warmed at an unprecedented rate of 0.063 to 0.078 degrees Celsius a year from 1982 to 2010, or 6.3 to 7.8 degrees a century.

"(It) represents, to our knowledge, the fastest warming marine ecosystem examined so far anywhere on Earth," the paper said.


More on the "First Solar" Swindle

As we dig deeper in the green-energy crony corruption-story, it begins to sound more and more like the making of a big-budget Hollywood thriller. Today’s installment on First Solar includes billionaire investors, corporate welfare, favoritism, threats, exaggerations, lawsuits over inferior quality, layoffs and outsourcing, and even a romantic dalliance. The screenplay would be riveting. Too bad it is not fiction. The film would have to be a documentary.

The trailer would open: “What do Goldman Sachs, several Goldman executives, and quite a few billionaire investors have in common? Add in millions of campaign donations followed by billions doled out of the 2009-stimulus package along with a ‘who’s who’ list of high-powered energy connections. Throw in a lead lobbyist with frequent White House visits and an active, yet connected board member.” Dark clouds would roll in as the music comes to a crescendo. The narrator continues: “Along the way, drama and trouble emerge. The CEO sells his own stock, jobs are going overseas. Accusations of money laundering materialize, and inside investigations point to a shady scheme within a solar energy company. The firm in question is implicated—as well as the Department of Energy.” Bold text pops up on the screen: “The First Solar Swindle” Smaller text: “Opening in theaters nationwide…”

Yes, all of this drama can be found in one company with interconnected ties to the Obama White House!

Last week, we wrapped up Senator Harry Reid’s connection to four firms—representing billions in taxpayer money—also part of the green-energy, crony-corruption story. Three of the four are in Reid’s home state: Nevada Geothermal, Ormat Nevada, and SolarReserve; while both SolarReserve and BrightSource Energy have multiple and significant ties to the President.

Now, we move on to the next three of our Special Seven series––those that received the Department of Energy loans (even though the companies were rated as “non-investment” grade) and grants, as a part of the stimulus spending spree. Additionally, these seven companies received “special” Department of Interior (DOI) treatment through a March 11, 2009 Secretarial Order, which the Washington Free Beacon described as a means “To fast track the siting of renewable energy projects on public lands managed by the agency.”

This chapter exposes First Solar.

From the introduction of this serialized book, the thumbnail says:

First Solar manufacturers “thin film” solar modules and is now moving into project development. While First Solar is not in the “junk bond” list, they do hold the unique distinction of being the single worst performer in the SPX in 2011. Additionally, they are linked to three junk-bond projects: Aqua Caliente (AZ), BB+; Antelope Valley Solar Ranch (CA), BBB-; and Desert Sunlight (CA), BBB-. First Solar was an early green investment of Goldman Sachs—which gave more than $1 million to the 2008 Obama campaign. Goldman Sachs executives sat on Obama’s 2008 Finance Committee and others were bundlers. In Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer reports on First Solar investor Paul Tudor Jones, who was a 2008 Obama bundler, and First Solar CEO Michael Ahearn, who “gives generously (and exclusively) to Democrats.”


Wind farms DO hit British house prices: Government agency finally admits that thousands can be wiped off value of homes

Wind farms can wipe tens of thousands of pounds off the value of homes, a government agency has admitted for the first time.

The Valuation Office Agency has been forced to re-band homes into lower council tax categories, confirming what most residents who live near the giant turbines already know: they are detrimental to property prices.

The move will make it harder for the wind farm industry to dismiss public concerns over the impact of their turbines.

At least five homeowners have seen their properties officially downgraded by the VOA because of their proximity to windfarms.

But only cases that go to appeal are made public by the agency, suggesting many more applications have been received for council tax discounts.

In one case, a couple saw the value of their home near the Fullabrook wind farm site near Braunton, Devon, fall from £400,000 to £300,000 when they asked estate agents to value it.

The home is 650 yards from three of the turbines and the couple feared that the noise and visual dominance of the turbines would not only de-value their home, but make it impossible to sell.

The VOA agreed to put the home from council tax F to band E, saving the couple £400 a year in council tax.

Families living in the seaside Suffolk village of Kessingland have also applied to be put into a lower council tax band as many of their homes are near 400ft turbines.

When one resident, Sue Price, put her home up for sale last year for £460,000, she found a buyer. But they pulled out when local papers reported that the wind farms were about to be erected and estate agents told her to drop her price, she told the Sunday Times. ‘We went down to £360,000 and still could not sell so now we have taken it off the market,’ she said.

Waveney Council which covers the area has admitted that the constant swooshing noise does constitute a ‘statutory nuisance’, and is working on a technical solution with the wind farm operators, Triodos Renewables.

Recent council-tax rebandings by the Valulation Office are the first admission by an arms-length government body that house prices can be dented by wind farms.

This is despite other studies pointing to their detrimental effects, including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors who pointed out in a 2007 report that homes within one mile of wind farms would lose value.

One in five prospective buyers rate peace and quiet as their number one priority when looking at a house, according to an Alliance and Leicester survey.

Val Weedon, the honorary president of the UK Noise Association, said wind farms would have an impact on people’s quality of life and therefore house prices.

She said: ‘These re-valuations will set a precedent which the wind farm industry does not want. Wind farm noise is like road and airport noise, it has an impact on property prices.’

‘Noise is also associated with headaches and nausea as it is a form of stress, so it can also have a detrimental effect on your health.’

It was revealed last week that every home in Britain will pay £88 to build a vast network of pylons in a £22billion project to link wind farms to the national grid.

Bills will start to rise next year under the controversial plans revealed by industry regulator Ofgem. An average of £11 will be added annually for eight years, making £88 in total on top of any other increases.

The industry was recently dealt a blow by Chancellor George Osborne, who demanded huge cuts in government aid for wind farms.

The Chancellor told the Treasury to draw up plans for a reduction of 25 per cent in subsidies for onshore wind farms.

A VOA spokesman said: ‘The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is responsible for keeping council tax bands up to date in England and Wales. We do not record the number of occasions where a band challenge is made by a taxpayer due to the proximity of a wind turbine/farm.

‘If a taxpayer believes that the value of their home has been reduced by a substantial physical change to their locality, then they may be entitled to make a proposal to alter their band.

'The proposal will be considered by the VOA, which may or may not result in a band change. If the taxpayer disagrees with the decision of the VOA, there is a right of appeal to an independent Valuation Tribunal.’


British government plans to encourage nuclear and wind power 'will add £110 to electricity bills'

The planned shake-up of the electricity market could raise householders’ bills by more than £110 and put off investors, MPs have warned.

In a damning report, they say the Government’s planned revolution in how we produce energy – announced two months ago – will not benefit consumers and needs an ‘urgent rethink’.

The reforms are intended to guarantee high electricity prices for firms who invest in building nuclear power stations and wind farms to meet Britain’s green energy targets.

But the Energy and Climate Change Committee claims the decision to allow energy firms, rather than the Treasury, to guarantee these prices risks higher charges for bill-payers.

Committee chairman Tim Yeo, a former Tory environment minister, said the current plans would increase the power of the Big Six energy companies and ‘will not work for consumers in their present form.’

Ministers hope to put strict controls on coal-fired power stations and imported energy, while boosting renewable energy like wind, wave and solar power.

The Government’s climate advisers said last year that energy bills would rise by £190 by 2020 – with £110 of this down to renewable energy policies.

Barry Gardiner, a former Labour environment minister on the committee said: ‘We will lose a fifth of our generating capacity by 2020 and these reforms will not keep the lights on.

‘These plans do not reassure investors, and if there is pressure on supplies, it will drive up consumer bills. It’s vital the Government back a scheme which will incentivise investment and stop moving the goalposts.’

Last year David Cameron ordered the Big Six – whose profits per customer have soared – to do more to help customers onto cheaper tariffs.

Mr Yeo said: ‘Nobody wants to see a blank cheque written out for green energy, but the Government must provide investors with more certainty about exactly how much money will be available.’

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: ‘The Energy Bill will enable us to make radical changes to the electricity market that deliver investment in secure, low carbon, affordable energy. We are determined to…develop a robust and effective Bill with the interests of both consumers and investors at the heart.’


The Climate Control mirage

Last week, during an entertaining display of comedic jujitsu about the Obamas’ awkward “kiss cam” moment, Jon Stewart managed to subtly relitigate the 2000 Election, saying that had Al Gore won, the “Earth’s temperature would be maybe a few degrees cooler.”

It is tempting - and perhaps comforting - to dismiss Stewart’s snark-infused banter solely as sour grapes, both with a bygone election and President Obama’s failures. That, however, would be a mistake.

Stewart’s lightly disguised political commentary reflects a reinvigorated radical environmentalist movement that hopes to leverage the summer heatwave and drought into legislative action on global warming...er, climate change...er, global climate disruption.

Just for fun, let’s imitate Joe Biden by taking Stewart’s joke “literally.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the first six months of 2012 was about 0.94 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, making it the 11th warmest on record. By Stewart’s climate calculations, if we were living in the hypothetical aftermath of an Al Gore administration, the first six months of 2012 would have been 2.06 degrees Fahrenheit BELOW the 20th century average.

What would the “enlightened class” have said about below average temperatures?

A Newsweek article from April 28, 1975, which declared “earth’s climate seems to be cooling down,” gives us an idea:

“If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. ‘A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,’ warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, ‘because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.’”

The thought experiment and historical déjà vu raises interesting questions about Earth’s “proper” temperature and climate. It also gets to the inherent assumption made by folks like Jon Stewart, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Barack Obama and many others that we can, in fact, control the climate.

Last week, as if to prove Stewart’s pop culture routine is intimately tied to current policy discussions, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog highlighted two of many “zany geoengineering schemes” designed to control earth’s climate: artificial volcanoes and growing plankton in the ocean.

Ironically, this is a mirror image of the 1970s when scientists proposed “spectacular solutions” to global cooling “such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers.”

But as the infamous Newsweek article goes on to note, geoengineering solutions “might create problems far greater than those they solve.”

For those that accept the premise that we must act to prevent the climate from changing, they should apply that same caution to policy proposals. Whether they seek to limit carbon emissions through EPA regulations, cap-and-trade or carbon tax, they must ask whether they are creating problems far greater than they hope - emphasis on hope - to solve.

Even that question is premature, though.

First, they should tell us what they consider to be an appropriate global average temperature. I suppose a compelling case could be made for a similar temperature to the earlier 1940s, which was before the “grim reality” of global cooling. Or perhaps temperatures in the 1850s, before the Pennsylvania “oil rush,” are preferable.

Regardless of what the experts decide, they then have to tell us what atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (co2) is necessary to achieve their temperature goal. The disgraced Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wants to keep the atmospheric concentration of co2 under 550 parts per million (ppm), and various literature cites 450 ppm as necessary to “stabilize” the climate.

Yet, neither number directly addresses the temperature question - and for good reason.

A 2009 analysis found even aggressive action by the United States - an 83% reduction in co2 emissions by 2050 - would result in a “temperature reduction” of 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit. That is a far cry from Stewart’s vision of Al Gore’s America. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson confirmation that “U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels” essentially renders the next question - how do you achieve the goal - meaningless.

So, when it comes to global temperatures, any U.S. plan to reduce carbon emissions is meaningless; and therefore there must be an ulterior motive. Remember that the next time you hear someone talking about a carbon tax.


The Greenies' War on Green Chile Peppers

New Mexico’s best known export, the green chile, is being threatened by the “greens.” It is not just the green chile habitat that is in danger, it is also the cultures and customs of generations of New Mexicans—farmers and ranchers.

The famous chiles are grown exclusively in Hatch, NM. People come from far and wide to buy bushels of fresh green chiles, have them roasted, and take them home to freeze for use throughout the year. In New Mexico, McDonald's even serves a green chile cheeseburger.

This past week, a vote was cast that could signal the end of a multi-generational battle to save the land.

The original fight started in the 1940s with the first of the modern land grabs. Hundreds of ranch families were evicted from the Tularosa Basin—an area that had been home to the Butterfield Trail and many Hollywood Westerns including the John Wayne classic Stage Coach. The families got there first and were “notoriously hard to uproot.” In the name of national defense, the seized land became Fort Bliss, McGregor Range, White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base, San Andres National Wildlife Refuge, the Jornada Range, and the New Mexico State University Ranch. All of this adds up to 4.7 million acres that are generally off limits to the very people who pay the bills—the taxpayer.

In 1948, another wave of evictions impacted an additional 40 families. Again, they tried to halt the federal onslaught. At a public meeting, the feds reminded folks that this was for the “public good. The ranchers had to go.” Unprepared for the scope of the battle, these hard-working people were evicted and Washington took their land.

These siezed lands are in New Mexico’s Doña Ana Country—home to the iconic Organ Mountains. Before the turn of the 21st century, Congressman Joe Skeen attempted to designate the mountains as a National Conservation Area (NCA) which would have included existing Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) and the Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) on the Organs to form a 58,012 acre unit—but the plan didn’t get traction. The greens wanted more.

The WSAs existed as a result of the Federal Lands Policy Management Act (FLPMA) signed into law in 1976. FLPMA required that the Bureau of Land Management embark on a study to define lands that had wilderness characteristics. Additionally, FLPMA made several promises to the western states as a part of the management agreement. One of the most significant was “coordination”—which meant that local governments would be in on the initial discussions and kept in the loop on federal land planning measures that affected their community. What has happened, however, is that environmental groups with agendas have commandeered the spot promised to local government. Instead of being part of the concept, steering and planning, the locals only find out when a plan is introduced in the press—and, by then it is already a plan to be fought, not an idea to be discussed. Those with duties, responsibilities and/or investments on the lands were not included in the process. The only way the locals get an alert is to diligently follow the Federal Register—which they do not have the staff or time to do with seven-day-a-week farm and ranch responsibilities.

The 58,012-acre unit proposed by Congressman Skeen grew to 217,500 acres, when the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance approached Senator Domenici to designate the area as “wilderness.” The story at the time was that the local community was on board—which he quickly learned was false. Domenici pushed back.

When Senator Domenici announced retirement in 2009, Senator Bingaman became New Mexico’s senior senator. Once again the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance got involved. This time, they partnered with the Senator when they delivered their plan: S.1689—now 259,000 acres with designated wilderness and NCA buffers. The word in the press was that everyone was really on board this time. The Democrats were in control of virtually every level of government involved from the local county, to the state governor, on up to the House, the Senate and the President. It appeared that their dream was about to come true.

But, by now, the locals were engaged. They had learned from the Tularosa Basin evictions—just being there first didn’t matter, and impassioned pleas for the continuation on their lands didn’t work. But as they found, objective rationale of what the community faced with the passage of the bill did work. For example, the proximity to the Mexican border became a huge issue. The border ranching community knew the harsh reality of life without protection. They knew that the eastern half of the New Mexico bootheel was without electronic monitoring; the BLM had forced the Border Patrol to remove an important transmitter from Big Hatchet Mountain because it was affecting the mating of the big horn sheep. Rancher Rob Krentz, whose ranch spans the Arizona-New Mexico border, was killed on his own ranch. Mexican rancher Alejandro Garza was killed when he took a stand against the Zeta gunman who crossed his property. And later, Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed—long before the DOJ got involved. The lands were dangerous and filled with trash, stashes and drug mules.

Without help from government officials such as the Department of Homeland Security, these local citizens embarked on a study of what made the area so attractive to the smugglers. They found that the smuggling corridors had six common elements:

1. They have East/West highway access north and south of the corridors

2. They have rugged and complex North/South mountain and drainage orientation which provides channels of movement.

3. They are almost entirely, or heavily dominated by, federal agency land management.

4. The concentration of American private property rights at risk is limited, as is the presence of resident American habitation. (Americans at risk will defend their investments; federal agents are not so motivated.)

5. All corridors have high, strategically placed points of observation.

6. Each and every one has designated wilderness or de facto wilderness safe havens where the Border Patrol has only conditional entry due to the restriction of motorized patrols and the bad guys have full and unencumbered access without observation.

These local citizens also found that the watersheds would be impacted with a wilderness designation. Armed with this information, S.1689 was successfully beaten back, and died at the end of 2010. The local citizens had a few moments to catch their breath before the next onslaught—which came in the form of S.1024. This time the land grab was even bigger: nearly 400,000 acres! The local communities found out about it from the front page of the newspaper. No coordination with the local conservation district was even hinted at. They brought the fight to a new level and exposed a problem with farmland attrition in the Rio Grande Valley. A map of Doña Ana County, New Mexico, shows that private lands exist only in very narrow strips along the river channel. Without allowance to grow into federal lands, development had to impact farmland. In essence, the federal government, using taxpayer money against the taxpayers, has underwritten the disappearance of farmland throughout the West—removing land from economic production and preventing contribution to the tax base/encouraging more national debt.

Bingaman’s legacy bill, S.1024, was in trouble. Republican Congressman Steve Pearce, who represents the district and didn’t support the bill, was not about to let it through the, now, Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Perhaps this ever-increasing federal land grab would finally go away!

Then on March 9, 2012, the BLM office was alerted to a new plan. They were not part of the process, nor was the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District and neither were the local citizens with duties, responsibilities and investments on the lands. Headlines heralded a 600,000-acre National Monument—which can be put into place with the stroke of an executive order pen—authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906. The proposal intends to eclipse the epic six-year battle between undefended Americans and their government.

This new proposal will disallow the full and unencumbered access by the common taxpayer to yet more lands—86% of the landscape of Doña Ana County. Implicit in that is a private ownership base of just 5% of the land. It would also triple the national monument lands in New Mexico. Additionally, some of the other impacts include:

· Land lock between 60-75 private land parcels.

· Land lock 80+ sections of State Trust lands dedicated solely to school revenues.

· Land lock the domestic water system to the village of Hatch.

· Force Hatch to grow into farmland, the very land that has created the world famous Hatch green chiles.

· Impede storm-water and watershed management systems.

· Overlay 38 of the county’s 64 ranches or 70% of the county’s cattle.

· Close other important economic centers.

· Disallow mining, fluid extraction, and disposal.

· And, on and on…

On Monday, July 16, the Las Cruces City Council approved a resolution in support of the national monument proposal.

Senatorial candidate and former Congressman, Heather Wilson, opposes the action because “it would compromise border security and hurt the economy.”

Steve Wilmeth, a local rancher whose family has ranched in the area for 132 years, says the proposal will impact him directly. “Our private property is involved. Our future in terms of our ability to continue to ranch is in jeopardy and a great deal of custom and culture, as well as the value of history is in involved,”

The City Council has no jurisdiction over the county lands, and the resolution is non-binding. Yet, the ranchers' history of coming up against the federal (and now the local) government has come to no good end.

Why would someone, such as Senator Bingaman, come back time and time again, with ever-larger efforts to close off federal lands and private property? Are the people of New Mexico clamoring for more national monuments? Or do they want jobs, economic development, and freedom?

Perhaps the truth lies in the smuggling corridors: Bingaman’s illegal immigration super-highway.

With a president with a proclivity for executive orders, what can be done to save the green chiles and the cultures and customs of generations of New Mexican farmers and ranchers while securing the borders?



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 blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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