Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Sea levels 'will continue rising' regardless of greenhouse gas treaties, warn scientists

This is arrant nonsense. The ocean deeps are COLD. There is no reserve of heat down there. Heat rises

Rising sea levels may not stop for several hundred years, even if global average temperatures drop, scientists have warned.

Rising sea levels threaten about a tenth of the world's population who live in low-lying areas and islands which are at risk of flooding, including the Caribbean, Maldives and Asia-Pacific island groups.

Measures to limit sea rises have focused on lowering temperatures - but this may not be enough.

Even if global average temperatures fall and the surface layer of the sea cools, heat would still be mixed down into the deeper layers of the ocean, causing continued rises in sea levels.

This is because as warmer temperatures penetrate deep into the sea, the water warms and expands as the heat mixes through different ocean regions.

If global average temperatures continue to rise, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers would only add to the problem.

Global average surface temperatures have risen about 0.17 degrees Celsius a decade from 1980-2010.

Sea level rise of about 2.3mm a year from 2005-2010 as ice caps and glaciers melt.

How much of this has been caused by 'greenhouse gases' is still being debated by scientists.

More than 180 countries are negotiating a new global climate pact which will come into force by 2020 and force all nations to cut emissions to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius this century - a level scientists say is the minimum required to avert catastrophic effects.

But even if the most ambitious emissions cuts are made, it might not be enough to stop sea levels rising due to the thermal expansion of sea water, said scientists at the United States' National Centre for Atmospheric Research, U.S. research organisation Climate Central and Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research in Melbourne.

‘Even with aggressive mitigation measures that limit global warming to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial values by 2100, and with decreases of global temperature in the 22nd and 23rd centuries ... sea level continues to rise after 2100,’ they said in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The scientists calculated that if the deepest emissions cuts were made and global temperatures cooled to 0.83 degrees in 2100 - forecast based on the 1986-2005 average - and 0.55 degrees by 2300, the sea level rise due to thermal expansion would continue to increase - from 14.2cm in 2100 to 24.2cm in 2300.

If the weakest emissions cuts were made, temperatures could rise to 3.91 degrees Celsius in 2100 and the sea level rise could increase to 32.3cm, increasing to 139.4cm by 2300.

‘Though sea-level rise cannot be stopped for at least the next several hundred years, with aggressive mitigation it can be slowed down, and this would buy time for adaptation measures to be adopted,’ the scientists added.


North Africa : Ground Zero For Global Warming

According to Phil Jones, Algiers has warmed at a shocking rate of 0.00 degrees per year since 1850.


Obama’s Green-Energy, Crony-Corruption

Marita Noon

Everyone who pays any attention to the news knows the name Solyndra. It has become synonymous with the overall failed green energy program administered by the Obama team. Politicos know there are many other companies that have received loan guarantees for various green energy projects that have since become a source of ridicule for the White House. Some might even be able to name a few. There is the now-bankrupt company that made batteries for electric cars: Ener1. The plug-in electric sports car company, Fisker, that made its cars in Finland and has troubles too numerous to cite. And, of course, we know about the Chevy Volt—that our taxpayer dollars bailed out only to have demand so low that Chevrolet had to pull the plug on the production line and lay off workers for five weeks earlier this year. But few know the full story.

Connecting the dots will make your head hurt. There are various programs and special tax breaks and different kinds of companies that received green energy loans: solar, wind, and geothermal; and car companies, battery manufacturers, and biofuel producers. While the projects differ, they have several startling similarities. The vast majority of the green energy loan guarantees were given to companies that could not obtain enough financial backing from private investors. Their “junk” or “speculative” grade kept people from putting their own money into them —yet your money and mine was given to them, and we had no say in the matter. Of the 27 loans issued through the 1705 Loan Guarantee Program to 21 firms, virtually all of them have “connections” to either President Obama or other high-ranking Democrats—or both! The loans were made to fill a market created not by free-market demand, but by government mandates. And, all of the “special seven” got fast-tracked approvals through the Department of Interior with little scrutiny over environmental damages that would have taken any other energy company months, if not years, to get, and EPA regulations were applied selectively.

Many of the companies that received the funds had involvement with large donors and/or bundlers for the Obama campaign, and there is an amazing revolving door through which the players pass many times. They worked, for example, for Senator Harry Reid. Then they are on the staff of an investment firm that invested in one, or more, of the companies. Next you find he or she is on some White House commission—or worse, became part of the Obama Department of Energy team. Some 460 companies applied for DOE loans, but only 27 projects, 21 companies, got the funds. And 85% of these have been found to have “connections.” The remaining 15% may well have connections too, albeit more guarded or hidden.

These are not wild assertions. I have the data to back them up.

Following the publication of my column a couple of weeks ago on crony capitalism, I was connected with Christine Lakatos. She’s a private citizen and a single mom with a nose for research. Beginning in 2009, she was hired to work on investigative projects, following the green energy money. But when those projects were completed, she didn’t stop digging. She kept finding more and more. With no outlet for her work, she started a blog where she “brain dumps” her findings—which for a total unknown has received an impressive number of readers. For anyone but the most stalwart, her Green Corruption Blog is like getting a drink of water from a fire hydrant.

On Sunday, some of Lakatos’ research was presented in my weekly column. The response prompted us to begin a collaboration.

For each of the next 17 weeks, we will expose one green-energy, crony-corruption story after another (though my travel schedule may require me to skip a week here and there). It will be a “book” released chapter-by-chapter. If you like what you find, we hope you’ll let us know and come back the following week for the next installment.

Some single stories of what we’ll expose are “out there”—though surely not covered by the mainstream media and not all in one place or all connected as we’re doing. If you made a study of the green-energy, crony-corruption story your passion, you likely found out a lot of what we’ll share. If you read the report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (HOGRC) on the Obama Administration’s green energy gamble word-for-word, or watched the incriminating hearings, you’ll already know some of what we’ll present. Or, if you’ve read the chapter in Peter Schweizer’s book Throw Them All Out that addresses alternative energy and “how the game of funneling taxpayer money to friends has exploded to astonishing levels in recent years,” you have a good idea of the big picture. If you have made this your passion, have studied the report, and have coordinated with Schweizer, as Lakatos has, you are encouraged to help make these reports as complete as possible. Together, we’ll connect the dots and present it here in bite-sized pieces.

Each of the energy projects we will profile in the “special seven” section were recipients of billions of taxpayer dollars through the 1705 Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) and many will be receiving millions more through the 1603 Grant Program. The 1705 LGP is an expansion of the 1703 program that was approved in 2005 under President Bush—increasing the expenditures from $17.9 billion in 2007 to $37.2 billion in 2010. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act significantly expanded the DOE’s authority, under Energy Secretary Steven Chu, through the newly created 1705 LGP. (Under the Recovery Act, $86 billion—approximately 10% of the stimulus package—was earmarked for green energy projects.) The LGP means that companies get risk-free money. If the company succeeds, the low-interest loan gets paid back. If they fail—as many have—we, the taxpayers, lose. In contrast, the 1603 Grant Program—implemented as part the Obama stimulus––is administered by the Treasury Department, with the goal of reimbursing eligible applicants for a portion of the costs of installing specified energy property used in a trade or business or for the production of income. Basically 1603 gives billions in favored businesses tax-free cash gifts that do not have to be paid back.

While we can prove that cronyism has run amok within the majority of 1705 LGP, we'll stay focused on the Special Seven. Here, in Part 1, we present a complete overview of the connecting dots on one project: SolarReserve, LLC. With this introduction made, we’ll likely address several companies, with a common denominator, in subsequent releases.

In Sunday’s column, the following thumbnail was presented: “SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes project is a solar thermal power tower plant utilizing the advanced molten salt power tower technology with integrated storage located in Tonopah, NV. The company's Fitch rating is BB, yet in September 2011, it was the recipient of $737 million in DOE loan guarantees. Obama’s law school buddy and 2008 Obama campaign bundler, Michael Froman, was managing director of alternative investments at Citigroup—which became a major investor in SolarReserve. Froman currently serves on the White House staff. Additionally, other high profile Democrats are involved with SolarReserve.”

But there is more.

More about Michael Froman. Peter Schweizer reports that “When Obama ran for president, Froman helped raise large sums of money on Wall Street” for the 2008 campaign. The HOGRC report (page 47) confirms Peter’s findings and adds that Froman was a $200,000 bundler: “Michael Froman currently serves as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs. He was a friend of President Obama’s from law school, and supported his political career by bundling over $200,000 for his 2008 presidential candidacy. Prior to his arrival at the White House, Froman was the Managing Director of Alternative Investments at Citigroup, where he managed infrastructure and sustainable development investments. Citigroup became a major investor in SolarReserve, which ultimately received a $737 million loan guarantee in September 2011.”

The Citigroup connection is tighter. Richard Parsons was Chairman for Citigroup from 2009 until he announced stepping down in March 2012. Citigroup was a top Obama donor in 2008. Parsons served on the Obama Transition Team and on the Economic Advisory Board. In 2011, Parsons was appointed to the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness.

Next, David Sandalow—who is currently “the Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at DOE, where he acts as Secretary’s Chu’s principal adviser on energy policy, as well as coordinating DOE’s foreign policy involvement.” (HOGRC report page 49) “Sandalow’s ties to the White House date back to the Clinton Administration, during which he worked with President Clinton on environmental issues. After having gained this experience, Sandalow became the influential Chair of the Energy & Climate Working Group of the Clinton Global Initiative. He went on to advise President Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Sandalow was a senior advisor to Good Energies, Inc., an energy-focused venture capital firm. Good Energies is an investor in SolarReserve.”

Other SolarReserve connections to the Democratic Party include:

Ronald Pelosi—Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law, Ronald Pelosi, holds a leadership position with Pacific Corporate Group Asset Management—which is an investor in SolarReserve. Additionally, his colleague, Jasandra Nyker, has served as a member of SolarReserve’s board of directors.

George Kaiser—Argonaut Private Equity is an investor in SolarReserve. Argonaut Private Equity is owned by major Democratic fundraiser and a 2008 Top Obama bundler George Kaiser, who also invested in Solyndra. Kaiser made multiple visits to the White House in the months before the company was granted a $535 million loan from the government. The Managing Director for Argonaut Private Equity, Steve Mitchell, serves on SolarReserve's Board of Directors.

Tony Podesta—OpenSecrets.org shows that SolarReserve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to the Podesta Group. Tony Podesta is the principal at the Podesta Group—which he started with his brother John. John Podesta ran Barack Obama’s presidential transition team and is the Director of the Center for American Progress—which is “reportedly highly influential in helping to craft White House Policy.” Both Tony Podesta and his wife Heather (a Washington power couple) are frequent White House visitors that share high ranks in "lobbying power," and Democrat bundling as well.

Lee Bailey—SolarReserve’s Chairman of the Board is Lee Bailey, a Managing Director with U.S. Renewables Group, who holds a significant financial stake in SolarReserve. Bailey has donated $21,850 since 2008 to Democratic candidates, including President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, California Sen. Barbara Boxer and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

James McDermott—SolarReserve board member James McDermott is also a Managing Director with U.S. Renewables Group. He contributed $61,500 to various Democratic campaigns since 2008, including $30,800 to Obama’s presidential election campaign. U.S Renewable Energy Group has ties with Senator Harry Reid.

If there were only one connect-the-dots story, it would be easy to dismiss it as coincidence. But here, with just one company, you can see the dots connect, and connect, and connect. As you will continue to see, they keep on connecting. In this case, connect-the-dots is no innocent childhood game. It is a high-stakes gamble and only those with connections get to play. Obama and his Democratic friends are the winners. We, the taxpayers, the losers. We lose the financial investment of our tax dollars and our electricity rates go up—all to support the discredited ruse of man-made climate change.


Keystone is a winning issue

Romney should tour pipeline route and meet with Democrat and union leaders who support it

Deroy Murdock

With his recent swing-state bus tour behind him, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should plan his next road trip. Romney should ride along the envisioned route of the Keystone XL pipeline. Along the way, he should invoke, meet, and even appear with Democrats and labor leaders who agree with him on Keystone and are frustrated with President Obama’s obstructionism on this vital, job-rich energy venture.

Romney should remind voters of their stark choice this November: The former Massachusetts governor favors the 2,480-mile pipeline. Each day, the completed Keystone system would deliver up to 1.4 million barrels of friendly oil from Hardisty, Canada, to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas. America’s northern neighbor is a NATO ally whose brave soldiers stormed Normandy Beach beside U.S. GIs. Canada’s 950 military trainers serve in Afghanistan along with Americans in uniform.

President Obama opposes Keystone, preferring instead to continue undiminished U.S. shipments of greenbacks to Middle Eastern tyrants whose subjects have murdered Americans by the thousands and conspire to do so again.

As Romney’s bus follows Keystone’s path to the Gulf of Mexico, he should tell Montanans what their Democratic U.S. senator, Jon Tester, said about this endeavor.

“I am disappointed in the president’s decision,” Testor stated after Obama on January 18 killed TransCanada’s application to build Keystone. He added: “I have long supported responsibly building this pipeline with the highest safety standards and with respect for private property rights.”

In North Dakota, Romney should cite former state attorney general Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee. She called Keystone a “jobs program” and lamented that Obama’s decision created “a missed opportunity to put Americans to work.” Her campaign website promises: “As Senator, Heitkamp will fight alongside anyone who agrees that it’s time to move the Keystone pipeline forward – even if it means upsetting members of her own party.”

Rolling into South Dakota, Romney should invite rank-and-file members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 620 to join him near Keystone’s prospective course. These construction workers, whose industry peers endure 14.2 percent unemployment nationwide, likely would echo LIUNA general president Terry O’Sullivan.

“We are completely and totally disappointed,” O’Sullivan said after Obama scotched Keystone. “This is politics at its worst. . . . The administration and environmentalists have blown the whistle on workers trying to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Instead of celebrating their victory by hugging a tree, they should hug a jobless construction worker because they’re the ones who are going to need it.”

Oklahoma boasts several Democratic state lawmakers who concur with Romney on Keystone. They should welcome him to the Sooner State.

“With unemployment stubbornly high throughout many parts of the country, the pipeline is expected to create approximately 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs in the United States,” Democratic state representative Steve Kouplen noted as he pleaded with Obama to authorize this initiative. “It could also generate more than $5.2 billion in tax revenue to the Keystone XL corridor states.”

“Because the pipeline will travel through Oklahoma, the safety of the pipeline is a top concern,” state senator Susan Paddack, Democratic Caucus vice chair, similarly argued. “TransCanada has agreed to meet an additional 57 safety requirements not required for any other pipeline project – making it the safest pipeline ever constructed in the United States.”

After crossing into the Lone Star State, Romney should emphasize that Texas congressmen Henry Cuellar, Charles A. Gonzalez, Al Green, Gene Green, Ruben Hinojosa, and Sheila Jackson Lee were among 22 U.S. House Democrats who wrote Obama last fall in a quixotic bid to secure his endorsement of this “shovel-ready project,” as they called it. As they observed, “Keystone XL Pipeline will inject $20 billion of private sector investment investment into the American economy, create 20,000 direct jobs, spur the creation of 118,000 spin-off jobs, pay out $5 billion in taxes to local counties over the project’s lifetime, bolster America’s energy security, and strengthen our national security.”

As he finally reaches Port Arthur, Mitt Romney should stand atop his bus and shout: “Barack Obama will not approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. But I will!”


Leftist hate erupts over Colorado wildfire disasters

Wildfires have become much worse as a result of Greenie opposition to precautionary burns. But instead of a more responsible attutude all we get is hate

Michelle Malkin

Did you know that President Obama has been incommunicado with Colorado's governor for more than two weeks as the nation's worst wildfires rage across the state? Maybe he thought we were all "doing fine." After an embarrassing Beltway press briefing revelation about our out-of-touch White House, the administration finally decided to divert the campaigner in chief from his nationwide fundraising frenzy for a quick look-see at our devastated city on Friday. It's "leadership from behind" you can count on.

As Obama sightsees overhead in this key swing state and surrounds himself with first responders for campaign-ready photo-ops, his supporters on the ground are busy spewing excuses, attacks and death wishes on their political opponents. I know. I've received countless numbers of them hoping that firefighters let my "mansion" burn down and gloating that God is punishing Colorado's conservative population. Liberals took to Twitter to bash local GOP officials as "fire retardants" who should be dropped over the blaze. And jokes about Colorado social conservatives like this proliferated: "If this Colorado fire takes out the Focus on the Family campus, then God really exists."

The sniping isn't limited to social media. Obama strategist Rahm Emanuel said in 2008: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." On cue, Hickenlooper mocked limited-government watchdogs who questioned the Obama administration's decision to cancel a key aerial tanker contract last summer. (It was the topic of my June 20 column last week, "How Obama Bureaucrats Fueled Western Wildfires.") The Denver Post reported Wednesday:

"Asked about criticism from the right over the Obama administration's canceling of the contract, Hickenlooper offered an uncharacteristically strong defense of the president. 'Were these the same conservatives that were so worried about the Obama administration spending too much money, or were these different conservatives?' Hickenlooper said. 'Quite honestly, in a situation like this where over 30,000 people have been evacuated, I don't think that (criticism of Obama) is appropriate,' the governor said. 'We should be focusing our support on them and on the people out there risking their lives to fight these fires.'"

Spare us the sanctimony, and lay off the firefighter human shield strategy. The conservatives in Congress and libertarians at MonkeyWrenchingAmerica.com and elsewhere on the right who called attention to the U.S. Forest Service's aging, neglected and undercapitalized aerial tanker fleet are the same conservatives who have doggedly called attention to the Obama administration's serial squandering of taxpayer dollars on nonessential, ineffective, crony-driven spending. We are the conservatives worried about dumping billions of dollars into bankrupt federal green boondoggles like Solyndra, Abound Solar, Beacon Power, Ener1 and LightSquared at the expense of fundamental services -- like fighting fires.

It is entirely appropriate and possible to question this administration's policy decisions while supporting frontline emergency personnel at the same time. And it is entirely logical and rational to express gratitude for firefighters and police officers -- while working to ensure the long-term financial viability of their departments through tough but necessary budget and public employee union reforms.

But don't look to Obama to put out the flames of politically expedient and inflammatory rhetoric. He may be slow on the uptake to respond to national crises, but when it comes to exploiting them, he's an industrial-grade accelerant.


Higher Levels of CO2 are greening the planet (even if they are not warming it)

A new study published today in “Nature” by authors from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Goethe University Frankfurt suggests that large parts of Africa’s savannas may well be forests by 2100. The study suggests that fertilization by atmospheric carbon dioxide is forcing increases in tree cover throughout Africa. A switch from savanna to forest occurs once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, yet each site has its own critical threshold. The implication is that each savanna will switch at different points in time, thereby reducing the risk that a synchronous shock to the earth system will emanate from savannas.

Tropical grasslands, savannas and forests, areas the authors call the savanna complex, are expected to respond sensitively to climate and atmospheric changes. This is because the main players, grasses and trees, differ fundamentally in their response to temperature, carbon dioxide supply and fire and are in an unrelenting struggle for the dominance of the savanna complex. The outcome of this struggle determines whether vast portions of the globe’s tropical and sub-tropical regions are covered with grasslands, savannas or forests. In the past such shifts in dominance have played out in slow motion, but the current wave of atmospheric changes has accelerated the potential rate of change.

Experimental studies have generally shown that plants do not show a large response to CO2 fertilization. “However, most of these studies were conducted in northern ecosystems or on commercially important species” explains Steven Higgins, lead author of the study from the Biodiodversity and Climate Reseach Centre and Goethe-University. “In fact, only one experimental study has investigated how savanna plants will respond to changing CO2 concentrations and this study showed that savanna trees were essentially CO2 starved under pre-industrial CO2 concentrations, and that their growth really starts taking off at the CO2 concentrations we are currently experiencing.“

The vegetation shifts that the Higgins and Scheiter study projects are an example of what some theorists call catastrophic regime shifts. Such catastrophic regime shifts can be triggered by small changes in the factors that regulate the system. These small changes set up a cascade of events that reinforce each other causing the system to change more and more rapidly. The study demonstrated that the savanna complex showed symptoms of catastrophic regime shifts. “The potential for regime shifts in a vegetation formation that covers such vast areas is what is making earth system scientists turn their attention to savannas” comments Higgins.

Knowing when such regime shifts will occur is critical for anticipating change. This study discovered that locations where the temperature rise associated with climate change occurs rapidly, for example in the center of southern Africa, are projected to switch later to forest as the high rate of temperature increase allows the savanna grasses to remain competitive for longer in the face of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration. This means that even though a single location may experience its catastrophic regime shift, the vegetation change when averaged over a region will be smoother. Such gradual transitions in regional vegetation patterns will reduce the potential for shocks to the earth system. “While this may seem reassuring, we have to bear in mind that these changes are still rapid when viewed on geological time scales”, says Higgins.

The practical implications of the study are far reaching. For example, the study identified a belt that spans northern central Africa where fire suppression would encourage savannas to transition to forests. “So if you wanted to sequester carbon as part of a carbon mitigation action, this is where you should do it” explained Higgins “with the caveat that where this will work is shifting as atmospheric conditions change.” A worrying implication is that the grasslands and open savannas of Africa, areas with unique floras and faunas, are set to be replaced by closed savannas or forests. Hence it appears that atmospheric change represents a major threat to systems that are already threatened by over-grazing, plantation forestry and crop production.



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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