Thursday, October 11, 2012

Good news about polar bears suppressed, but guesswork is fine

This article from yesterday (Oct 09, 2012) caught my eye: “How many polar bears live in the Arctic?” by Jill Burke

Buried deep within this article (page 3, in the default format) is this statement by US Fish & Wildlife polar bear biologist Eric Regehr:
“In 2009, when the PBSG [Polar Bear Specialist Group] issued its population status reports, it listed the Chukchi Sea population, which Alaska shares with Russia, as being of unknown size, but one thought to be in decline because of anecdotal reports about possible over-harvesting in Russia. But now, newer research yet to be published has scientists reconsidering the status designations of the Chukchi population, Regehr said. It appears the bears in this area are reproducing well and maintaining good body condition.“

[Indeed, the latest PBSG report (Obbard et al. 2010:63) lists the Chukchi subpopulation status as “reduced” and current trend as “declining” even though the population size is "unknown." It also states that “The trend is believed to be declining and the status relative to historical levels is believed to be reduced based on legal/illegal harvest levels that were thought to be unsustainable. Sea ice loss is one of the highest levels in the Arctic.”]

So, it turns out that what these expert polar bear biologists “believed” to be the case – without any data to back it up – is not actually true. Even with “sea ice loss [at] one of the highest levels in the Arctic,” polar bears are doing just fine. Sort of makes you wonder what else polar bear experts “believe” to be true but actually isn’t.

However, what really popped out at me was the tossed-off comment that the results of this potentially game-changing study for US polar bears (since the Chukchi subpopulations is shared between the US and Russia) have not yet been published. Nor are we told who did the study or when, even though it is complete enough for Regehr to be discussing the results with a journalist.

Finally, some good news to report, but no peer-reviewed study to quote or examine.

Again, results are in but we are not allowed to see the data. Sound familiar? See my earlier post on the critical evidence for western Hudson Bay polar bears that is also unpublished.

Really makes me wonder how many polar bears live in the Chukchi Sea? Sounds to me like they still don’t have an estimate but I suspect when they get one, we might be surprised by how big it is.


An example of what complete socialist control means for the environment

Socialists are only "green" if it doesn't hobble their power

If you're looking for a lakeside retreat on a budget, it's likely you could easily pick up a villa near to Russia's beautiful Lake Karachay and still have change left for a new sofa.

But it's probably worth bearing in mind that in 1990 just standing on the shore for an hour would give you a radiation of dose of 600 roentgen.  In case you were wondering, that's more than enough to kill you.

The lake, in Russia's south-west Chelyabinsk region, close to the modern border with Kazakhstan, is located within the Mayak Production Association, one of the country's largest — and leakiest — nuclear facilities.

Built in the Forties as Soviets moved armament production east to avoid the Nazi invasion, Mayak was one of the Russia's most important nuclear weapons factories and was off limits to foreigners for 45 years.

It was only after President Boris Yeltsin signed a 1992 decree opening up the area that Western scientists were able to gain access - and promptly declared it the planet's most polluted area.

In their long decades of obscurity, the nuclear engineers at Mayak spent their time mainly having nuclear meltdowns and dumping radioactive waste into the river.

The watered-down waste was a cocktail of radioactive elements, including long-lived fission products such as Strontium-90 and Cesium-137–each with a half-life of approximately thirty years.

When their facility's existence was finally acknowledged, the Chelyabinsk region had seen a 21 per cent increase in cancer, a 25 per cent increase in birth defects, and a 41 per cent increase in leukaemia.

The nearby Techa river, on which several villages relied for water, was so contaminated that up to 65 per cent of locals were stricken with radiation sickness.

Prevented from mentioning radiation in their diagnoses, doctors treating those who had fallen ill termed the sickness 'special disease'. Even then, these notes were classified until 1990.

The rural communities surrounding the nuclear facility suffered greatly from their government's nuclear arms race with the U.S.

Eager to catch up with the technological development of Western weapons, the Mayak engineers didn't worry too much about safety and the facility suffered several major accidents in the Fifties and Sixties.

By the mid-Fifties they decided, belatedly, to cease dumping nuclear waste into nearby lakes and rivers, instead pumping it into a row of vats. Then in September 1957 they exploded with a force equivalent to about 85 tons of TNT, spewing about 70 tons of radioactive waste a mile high.

The dust cloud spread isotopes of cesium and strontium over 9,000 square miles, affecting some 270,000 Soviet citizens and their food supplies.

With their waste storage system obliterated, authorities decided to direct Malak's constant flow of radioactive effluent into Lake Karachay, which lacked any surface outlets making engineers optimistic that anything dumped there would be entombed indefinitely.

This worked okay for ten years, until a severe drought struck the whole of Chelyabinsk. Lake Karachay gradually began to dry up, exposing the radioactive sediment in its basin. The spread of toxic dust peppered about 900 square miles of land with Strontium-90, Caesium-137 and a host of other unpleasant elements.

Today, huge tracts of Chelyabinsk remain uninhabitable as a result of the river contamination, the 1957 blast and the 1967 drought. Lake Karachay's surface is now more concrete than water, but its contamination is still not contained.

Estimates suggest approximately a billion gallons of groundwater have been contaminated with 5 megacuries of radionuclides and even today, the local population still does not know the actual levels of radioisotopes in its home grown products.


'Soviet-style’ wind farm subsidies to face the axe in Britain

“Soviet-style” green subsidies for wind farms must be scrapped because turbines are blighting local communities, the new Environment Secretary said on Tuesday.

Owen Paterson, who took on the role last month, said wind developers should “stand on their own two feet” instead of asking for money from the state.

He said green technologies such as wind farms might actually have a worse impact than climate change, because they are causing “public insurrection”.

“There are significant impacts on the rural economy and the rural environment, all of which probably weren’t intended when these things were thought up,” he told an event at the Conservative Party conference. “It is not very green to be blighting the economy in one area.”

Mr Paterson said he would write to the Department of Energy with his view on ending green subsidies as part of a Government review of support for renewable energy.

“If you start having subsidies you end up with a Soviet-style system, where politicians make decisions that might actually be better made by the market,” he added.

Mr Paterson said he believes humans are contributing to climate change but “some of the steps we are taking might actually cause more damage than the original problems itself”.

His comments came as Greg Barker, the climate change minister, promised that the Government was dealing with the “never-ending gravy train of green subsidies” to bring down energy bills.

The Conservative minister insisted the party was “not abandoning its green pledges” or “scaling back” its commitment to tackling climate change.

But he acknowledged the green industry needed to “tighten their belts, do more for less and make subsidies go further” to get a better deal for the taxpayer. Mr Barker promised that the Coalition would “cut subsidy where we can and put value for money at the heart of our policies”.

The Government is facing mounting criticism for sending out mixed messages on energy policy and climate change. Some companies are concerned after David Cameron appointed two ministers who are critical of wind farms, cut subsidies for renewable energy and unveiled a tax break for the gas industry.

The insulation industry also claims that the Coalition’s decision to end grants for green home improvements will lead to 16,000 job losses before a new regime comes in next year.

Seven power firms this week threatened to leave Britain over fears they will not get enough Government support to invest in low-carbon technologies like nuclear and wind farms.

After weeks of division on green issues, Conservative sources said there is a new push within the party to “get back on the same page”.

Conservatives are split between pro-green modernisers, those worried about the cost of subsidies and back-bench MPs angry about the blight of wind farms in their constituencies.

The senior source said there would be a drive re-invent the Conservatives’ green agenda as a pro-business policy that will help boost growth and create jobs.

The Department of Energy is led by Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat, who won a battle against George Osborne to stop deep cuts to green subsidies this year. In return, the Chancellor introduced tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, including new measures to help controversial “shale” extraction.

On Tuesday night, Mr Paterson described shale gas as a “God-given” windfall that would help Britain solve its energy problems.


California’s self-inflicted gas shortage

By Rebekah Rast — In September 2008, before Barack Obama was elected president and Steven Chu appointed Department of Energy Secretary, Chu stated, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

Thanks in large part to strict pollution limitations and refinery and pipeline misfortunes, one state is now much closer to those levels.

Gas prices hit an all-time high in California at an average of $4.6140 a gallon, due to a reduced supply and a volatile market.

California has some of the most stringent fuel regulations in the nation; making it so no other energy markets can step up to take some of the burden off consumers needing to fill up their gas tanks. Therefore, if a refinery goes down, Californians are left with little choice but to pay a premium price for gasoline.

Unfortunately this is just one more crisis—of a very long list—that California has brought on itself by its own unabashed actions.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “over the last two decades four refineries in the state have shut down rather than invest in expensive upgrades to comply with fuel regulations.”

As refineries come back online in the state, prices should lower and stabilize.  However, it may not last long.

The Wall Street Journal continues: “Any relief Californians feel will be short-lived. The state’s cap-and-trade program, which charges businesses for emitting carbon, will take effect this November. Oil companies warn they’ll pass on the costs to consumers.”

The carbon trading market opens in California on Nov. 14.  The Sacramento Bee summarizes the cap-and-trade program:

“Under the program, more than 400 big industrial users will be subject to an emissions ceiling, or “cap.” They will receive tens of millions of emissions allowances, each one representing the right to emit a ton of carbon. The total amount of available carbon credits will decline slightly each year.”

Though a similar market is used in Europe to try and cap greenhouse emissions, it hasn’t been used in the U.S. on such a broad scale.  Ten percent of the carbon credits will be sold at an auction, while the rest will be given away for free. Big companies and businesses that buy up the 10 percent will be able to sell them to others.

The Sacramento Bee explains that in the first year the burden of buying these credits will be $1 billion and is set to increase each year.

A small business doesn’t stand a chance of competing in this market.  Likewise, consumers of these businesses will also take a hit as products, including gasoline, become more expensive.

While it may be comforting in the short term to know that California Gov. Jerry Brown instructed the California Air Resources Board to increase the fuel supply by allowing the immediate sale of cheaper and readily available winter-blend gasoline, which the state typically sells after Oct. 31, he is capable of doing much more. He could just as easily request the very-Democrat California Assembly and Senate to roll back the regulations that got California into this mess of exorbitantly higher gas prices on average than the rest of the nation.

Furthermore, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) requested the federal government investigate the high prices afflicting the state and wonders whether gasoline companies are illegally raising gas prices.

The Hill quotes a letter from Sen. Feinstein to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, which states, “California’s consumers are all too familiar with energy price spikes which cannot be explained by market fundamentals, and which turn out years later to have been the result of malicious and manipulative trading activity.”

Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG), says the answers to these high prices are easily found in the state’s strict regulations and lack of supply. “It would seem California’s overzealous attempt to rid the world of all greenhouses starting in its backyard by overtaxing and overregulating the energy market, thus limiting supply, might be a market fundamental being overlooked by Sen. Feinstein.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy, under the direction of Secretary Chu is working on new energy alternatives like biofuels and electric vehicles to get Americans off their addiction to oil.

However, The Wall Street Journal warns that very limited biofuels qualify under California’s strict pollution rules—corn ethanol is not one of them—and could result in the closing of even more oil refineries.

It’s hard to find a state that heaps more trouble on itself than California.  As it further kowtows to the wishes of Secretary Chu and the Obama administration it should expect a lot more than just higher gas prices.

And the rest of the country should take note of where America’s leaders would like to steer the nation—directly down the Golden path currently being paved with high energy prices and even more soon-to-be failing businesses.


Romney Campaign Should Take Note of European Fatigue with Green Energy

Both Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have expressed support for green energy initiatives throughout the campaign. But in their debate last Wednesday, Romney quickly pivoted away from the concept when he was asked to discuss tax policy. Obama has accused the former Massachusetts governor of favoring large tax breaks for oil companies and individual wealthy Americans at the expense of the middle class. In response, Romney seized upon the political favors Obama has extended to costly and ineffective green schemes that subtract away from genuine job opportunities for unemployed Americans.

In just one year, Obama “invested” $90 billion worth of breaks into the “green energy world,” Romney informed audience members. By comparison, Romney noted, the oil companies received about $2.8 billion in tax breaks each year and most of this is directed to small companies. Here is Romney’s complete statement.:

“Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives. And you say Exxon and Mobil. Actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth. But, you know, if we get that tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent, why that $2.8 billion is on the table. Of course it’s on the table. That’s probably not going to survive you get that rate down to 25 percent. But don’t forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this — this is not — this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.”

This is the right touch of potent, forceful rhetoric, rooted in objective facts that will keep Romney on offense. But going forward he should reject the premise of green energy and green jobs. If they are losing their luster in Europe, it’s a sure sign they have very little political staying power in America. No less than European Union Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger is now advising against new climate targets. He is also lobbying in favor of pro-industrial policies and against global warming initiatives.

“I strongly advise against more stringent targets after 2020”, Oettinger said in comments to the European Parliament. During the years 2007 to 2009, there had been too many “do-gooders” in the European Parliament and climate policy enthusiasm had become excessive,” he added. It was useless “to go to Greenland and hug polar bears.”

Back in Britain, a power regulator now warns of impending blackouts and higher electricity prices, compliments of stringent environmental regulations.

“Coal fired-generation is likely to close earlier than expected under EU environmental legislation and the risk of a shortfall in electricity is highest in 2015/16,” Ofgam says in a report.

This is a remarkable turnaround from just a few years ago and sure sign that the Romney campaign is in position to mount a vigorous assault against anti-energy policies.

Back in America, even former Vice-President Al Gore seems to be taking a walk away from green energy. The Street reports that Gore’s company has refrained from making any substantial investments in wind, solar and biomass. But he is investing in a natural gas pipeline.

“If these green energy projects were viable investments with the real potential for profitable returns that could power our nation, they would not need one cent of subsidies from taxpayers,” Americans for Limited Government Bill Wilson said. “It’s time to pull the plug on these subsidies, not to pander to the supporters of a failed idea.”

It would seem that Romney has been advised to offer up accolades to green energy. That may have been understandable going back a few years when the concept was political fashionable.  That no longer holds. Out of work Americans would like to hear more about the opportunity cost of the $90 billion that Obama is putting into green energy at expense of new job opportunities.


EPA's ‘Science’ Evokes Nazi Death Camp Memories

The "EPA has admitted to a federal court that it asks human guinea pigs to sacrifice their lives for regulatory purposes-and $12 per hour." That was a recent news item reported by's founder, Steve Milloy.

"EPA has responded to our emergency motion for a temporary restraining order against its ongoing human experiment (called ‘Captain') involving the air pollutant" known as "fine particles."

In a declaration to the court by an EPA clinical research studies coordinator he said that participants were provided with information about them, noting that "if you are a person that for example lives in a large city like Los Angeles or New York" where on a hot summer day one can often see a haze in the air "and you have an underlying unknown health condition, or, you may be older in age, chances are you could end up in the emergency room later on that night, wondering what's wrong, possibly having cardiac changes that could lead to a heart attack; there is the possibility you may die from this..."

"You may die from this." That did not, however, deter the EPA from conducting the study in which participants were exposed to such particles.

Milloy points out that "Every law, regulation and code developed since World War II strictly prohibits human sacrifice (i.e., significant injury or death) for no health benefit to the patient" and the $12 per hour payment is not deemed a benefit. "Moreover," said Milloy, "EPA has repeatedly stated in numerous regulatory documents and public statements that there is no safe level of exposure to particulate matter", and that any exposure can kill within hours or days.

A Wall Street Journal article on June 16th and titled "EPA Seeks Tighter Standard on Soot" reported that "The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday proposed tighter national standards for soot pollution" deeming it "the latest chapter in a long-running battle between the Obama administration and industry over environmental restrictions."

"Particulate matter forms in the atmosphere as a result of smokestack and tailgate emissions" and the EPA wants to set a new level of 12 to 13 micrograms per cubic meter." The current standard is 15 micrograms. We are talking about things so small it would take an electron microscope to measure them. The notion of protecting people about anything at this level is absurd. Next thing to go would be children's sandboxes.

In practical terms, tightening the standards would make it even more difficult for industrial facilities to get permits to operate. Milloy warns that "The EPA is a government horror story that is responsible for trillions of dollars in lost economic growth, trampled rights and liberties and perverted science."

There is, however, something far more ominous about the EPA's particulate study.

In an article, Mark Musser, the author of "Nazi Oaks", a book about the environmental zealotry of the leaders of the Nazi regime, connected the sweeping Nazi environmental legislation that preceded the racially charged anti-Semitic Nuremburg Laws that led ultimately to "the final solution"; the deliberate murder of millions of Europe's Jews and millions, too, deemed enemies of the state.

Referencing Milloy's exposure of the EPA human experimentation in which diesel fumes were piped from a running truck mixed with air into the lungs of participants. In his commentary Musser noted that "They even had a gas chamber set up to accommodate the environmental research project that shockingly recalls the death camps of Poland."

"The whiff of the Jewish holocaust is thus unmistakable," notes Musser. "When the Nazis found out how difficult it was in practice to shoot so many Jews on the Eastern Front at the outset of the war, they switched to gassing them in mass at death camps with engine fumes. Such gassing methods became infamous at Treblinka where almost one million Jews were killed."

The commandant of Auschwitz, another death camp, was Rudolf Hoess. He belonged to the SS whom Musser describes as "the greenest faction of the Nazi Party. It was run by Heinrich Himmler who was an animal lover, vegetarian, and organic farm enthusiast" and Musser says it was the environmentalism that was "at the heart of the holocaust at death camps like Treblinka."

There is a very thin line between the EPA's particulate experiments and the death factories of Treblinka and Auschwitz, and it is more than just a hint of the kind of thinking at the EPA that would condone it.

Environmentalism is synonymous with a hatred of humanity, an oft-stated wish that millions must die to protect the Earth.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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