Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lost photos prove Greenland's ice was melting FASTER 80 years ago than today

They can spin this how they like but it is clear that natural changes rival or exceed any changes attributed to global warming -- which makes the causes of all changes moot

A stash of 80-year-old photo plates in a Danish basement has proved that Greenland's ice was melting even faster then that it is now.

In the thirties, Greenland's ice was melting rapidly, then there was a cooling period in the middle part of the twentieth century, and now it is melting again, accelerating in the 2000s.

Images of ice shelves from the pre-satellite era are extremely rare, so it's often difficult to assess the scale and speed of Arctic ice melting today.

Researchers at the National Survey and Cadastre of Denmark had been storing the glass plates since explorer Knud Rasmussen's expedition to the southeast coast of Greenland in the early 1930s.

In this week's online edition of Nature Geoscience, Ohio State University researchers and colleagues in Denmark describe how they analyzed ice loss in the region by comparing the images on the plates to aerial photographs and satellite images taken from World War II to today.

Taken together, the imagery shows that glaciers in the region were melting even faster in the 1930s than they are today, said Jason Box, associate professor of geography and researcher at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State.

A brief cooling period starting in the mid-20th century allowed new ice to form, and then the melting began to accelerate again in the 2000s.

‘Because of this study, we now have a detailed historical analogue for more recent glacier loss,’ Box said. ‘And we've confirmed that glaciers are very sensitive indicators of climate.’

Pre-satellite observations of Greenland glaciers are rare - but some are available.

Anders Anker Bjørk, doctoral fellow at the Natural History Museum of Denmark and lead author of the study, is trying to compile all such imagery. He found a clue in the archives of The Arctic Institute in Copenhagen in 2011.

‘We found flight journals for some old planes, and in them was a reference to National Survey and Cadastre of Denmark,’ Bjørk said.

As it happens, researchers at the National Survey had already contacted Bjørk about a find of their own.

‘They were cleaning up in the basement and had found some old glass plates with glaciers on them. The reason the plates were forgotten was that they were recorded for mapping, and once the map was produced they didn't have much value.’

Those plates turned out to be documentation of Rasmussen's 7th Thule Expedition to Greenland. They contained aerial photographs of land, sea and glaciers in the southeast region of the country, along with travel photos of Rasmussen's team.

The researchers digitized all the old images and used software to look for differences in the shape of the southeast Greenland coastline where the ice meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Then they calculated the distance the ice front moved in each time period.

Over the 80 years, two events stand out: glacial retreats from 1933-1934 and 2000-2010. In the 1930s, fewer glaciers were melting than are today, and most of those that were melting were land-terminating glaciers, meaning that they did not contact the sea.

Those that were melting retreated an average of 20 meters per year - the fastest retreating at 374 meters per year.

Fifty-five percent of the glaciers in the study had similar or higher retreat rates during the 1930s than they do today.

Still, more glaciers in southeast Greenland are retreating today, and the average ice loss is 50 meters per year.

That's because a few glaciers with very fast melting rates - including one retreating at 887 meters per year - boost the overall average.

But to Box, the most interesting part of the study is what happened between the two melting events.

From 1943-1972, southeast Greenland cooled - probably due to sulfur pollution, which reflects sunlight away from the earth.

Sulfur dioxide is a poisonous gas produced by volcanoes and industrial processes. It has been tied to serious health problems and death, and is also the main ingredient in acid rain. Its presence in the atmosphere peaked just after the Clean Air Act was established in 1963. As it was removed from the atmosphere, the earlier warming resumed.

The important point is not that deadly pollution caused the climate to cool, but rather that the brief cooling allowed researchers to see how Greenland ice responded to the changing climate.

The glaciers responded to the cooling more rapidly than researchers had seen in earlier studies. Sixty percent of the glaciers advanced during that time, while 12 percent were stationary. And now that the warming has resumed, the glacial retreat is dominated by marine-terminating outlet glaciers, the melting of which contributes to sea level rise.

‘From these images, we see that the mid-century cooling stabilized the glaciers,’ Box said. ‘That suggests that if we want to stabilize today's accelerating ice loss, we need to see a little cooling of our own.’

Southeast Greenland is a good place to study the effects of climate change, he explained, because the region is closely tied to air and water circulation patterns in the North Atlantic.

‘By far, more storms pass through this region - transporting heat into the Arctic - than anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. Climate change brings changes in snowfall and air temperature that compete for influence on a glacier's net behavior,’ he said.

SOURCE (See the original for graphics)

The day British villagers blew wind turbines away: Victory for the little man as High Court rules in favour of preserving the landscape

Villagers scored a major victory over the wind farm and green lobby yesterday.

A High Court judge ruled their right to preserve their landscape was more important than the Government’s renewable energy targets.

Mrs Justice Lang said building four 350ft turbines would harm the character and appearance of a beauty spot on the edge of the Norfolk Broads.

The proposal from Sea & Land Power and Energy had already been rejected by both council and government inspectors.

In what will be seen as a landmark ruling, the judge agreed, saying lower carbon emissions did not take ‘primacy’ over the concerns of the people of Hemsby.

Maria Ellis, a landscape gardener who petitioned against the turbines, said: ‘This has been hanging over us for ages because the company kept proposing it over and over again which just smacked of arrogance.

‘Norfolk is renowned for its open skyline which has inspired stories and poetry and literature. The site is on a hill between two villages and we already have wind turbines to the north, west and east.

‘It is overdevelopment, you can’t cover the hills and dales in turbines.’

Tory MP Brandon Lewis, who lives in Hemsby, said: ‘This decision should really set a precedent for planning officers, inspectors and courts to give weight to the feelings of local people in protecting their environment. It really shows that local people who are organised and feel passionately can have an impact and make a difference.

‘In Great Yarmouth, we have several wind farms nearby, and renewable energy is a huge part of our economy. Wind energy is important but it has to be in the right place and should not have a negative impact on the community or the countryside we love.’

The proposed wind farm was fewer than 300 yards from the edge of the Broads national park and around 800 yards from homes in Hemsby.

Villagers said they feared over-development because there were already three wind farms within three miles.

Ministers have made onshore and offshore turbines a central plank of their plans to plug Britain’s looming energy gap. At least 340 farms are up and running with many more planned.

Suffolk-based Sea & Land had said their four turbines could supply 5,500 homes – or around 14 per cent of the energy needs of the Great Yarmouth borough council area.

But the local planning inspector kicked out the bid, saying: ‘The development would result in material harm to the character and appearance of the area because of its scale and location and the cumulative impacts of other similar developments.’

The inspector said the existing wind farms were ‘visually prominent in this simple, attractive, tranquil landscape with its scattered villages and farmsteads’.

Sea & Land took the case to the High Court in London, insisting that the East of England had failed to meet its energy targets for 2010 and was unlikely to meet the Whitehall target to generate 17 per cent of energy from low-carbon sources by 2020.

Yesterday Mrs Justice Lang backed the inspector, saying Sea & Land’s point about its 2009 proposal was ‘unarguable’.

‘I do not accept that the inspector ought to have disregarded the local landscape policies in the light of the national policies,’ she said.

‘As a matter of law it is not correct to assert that the national policy promoting the use of renewable resources ... negates the local landscape policies or must be given primacy over them.

‘This is simply a case of policies pulling in different directions: harm to landscape and the benefits of renewable energy. The inspector was required to have regard to both sets of policies and to undertake a balancing exercise.’

Yesterday Roy Pinnock, an expert in planning law at the firm SNR Denton, said the case may bolster other villagers fighting wind farm projects.

‘It shows planning is all about balancing competing interests, and there will be a complex web of considerations in each case,’ he added.

‘There is a great emphasis on renewables, but this shows no one can claim that any particular outcome is preordained and it’s crucial that developers make an irresistible case for their development.’ Sea & Land can now take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Cally Smith, of the Broads Authority, said the turbines would have had a ‘significant and adverse impact on the protected landscape of the Broads’. She added: ‘This is not acceptable. There are other places which are better suited to accommodate development such as this.’

But Robert Norris of Renewable UK, the trade body for the wind industry, said the judge was wrong to suggest the case would have a wider impact.

‘It is absolutely vital for any developer to look at the impact on the landscape and wildlife before they can even think about going ahead with a project, but planners also have to consider the need to keep the lights on by generating electricity from sources that are clean and meet our carbon targets.’


'First nuclear station for 30 years': British government 'on cusp' of signing new deal

Ministers are ‘on the cusp’ of signing a deal for Britain’s first new nuclear power station for almost 30 years, the Government said last night.

Lord Marland, its energy spokesman in the Lords, said a final deal to build a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, in Somerset, would be sealed within months.

Plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations were rocked this month when German firms RWE and E.ON, which had each been expected to build a new plant in the UK, announced they were pulling out because of concerns the projects were not commercially viable.

The BBC reported last night that French firm EDF had delayed plans to announce the winner of the main £1billion contract to build the new Hinkley Point plant.

A spokesman said the company was ‘on track to deliver what is needed for the UK’.

Lord Marland said: ‘It has been 27 years since a new nuclear power station was commissioned and we are on the cusp of commissioning one in this country at Hinkley Point.’

It will then be up to Energy Secretary Ed Davey to apply for planning permission to install new reactors at the plant.

But Labour’s Lord Davies of Stamford criticised the Government for not acting quickly enough, telling peers that ‘not a single firm commitment’ had been made to build a new nuclear power station.

Last week it was revealed that the contract to run Britain’s next generation of nuclear power stations could be awarded to an arm of the Chinese government.


Climate "Deniers" Winning the War

“We are winning the war,” was a phrase I heard repeatedly this week. Congressman Sensenbrenner, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, said: “We won on these issues because we were right.”

Which war? The war that brought together more than 60 scientists from around the world—including astronauts, meteorologists, and physicians; politicians—comprising the Congressman, a head of state, and a member of the European Parliament; and policy analysts and media for two-and-a-half days in Chicago, in a battle over climate change and the belief that there needs to be real science—more “about honest debate than ideological warfare.”

Assembled by the Heartland Institute, the seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7) provided the second opportunity for Congressman Sensenbrenner to address the group. In his opening comments, Sensenbrenner said, “We’ve come a long way.”

He recounted: “When I last spoke, the House of Representatives was poised to pass the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill; the United Nations was promising the extension and expansion of the Kyoto Protocol; and President Obama was touting Spain as our model for a massive increase in renewable energy subsidies. Three years later, cap-and-tax is dead; the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire; and Spain recently announced that it eliminated new renewable energy subsidies.”

Sensenbrenner told about the behind the scenes wrangling that went on to get the Waxman-Markey bill passed. “I was on the House floor on June 29, 2009, when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi desperately pulled Members aside to lobby, beg, and bargain for votes for the Waxman-Markey bill.” It did pass. But “the electoral consequences for the proponents of these policies was severe.” Just 16 months later, in the 2010 elections, “over two dozen of the Members she convinced to vote ‘yes’ lost their jobs.”

It wasn’t just the Members who suffered harsh political ramifications for their support of the Waxman-Markey bill—which was supposed to nullify the impact of manmade global warming through a cap-and-trade scheme. Sensenbrenner contends that support of the manmade (anthropogenic) global warming position (AGW) also cost Al Gore the presidency back in 2004. He explained: “West Virginia’s 5 electoral votes would have tipped the election for Gore, and Gore’s near-evangelical support for climate change easily cost him the 42,000 votes he would have needed to win there.”

While there is little debate that the climate does change, there is debate as to what causes it. The camps are divided into two general groups along the line of human’s role—with Al Gore’s camp believing that the “science is settled” concluding that man’s driving of SUVs burning petroleum products that emit CO2 (and other symptoms of the developed world) is the cause, and the other disagreeing. The “other” is who gathered in Chicago last week amid the thousands of NATO protestors. The “other” not only disagrees with Al Gore’s AGW position—but they disagree with each other.

I attended session after session where sunspots were addressed, deep ocean circulation changes were discussed, the CO2 contribution of volcanoes was brought up, and the health impacts of a warmer planet were touted—just to name a few. I brought home reams of documentation, some of which are, frankly, beyond my comprehension.

Whether or not the documentable climate change—cooler in the seventies, warmer in the nineties, stable for the last decade (just to point out some recent changes)—is due to the sun or the sea, or myriad other causes, the key take away is that the science is not settled.

Four former NASA employees presented at ICCC7—two astronauts: Walter Cunningham (Apollo 7) and Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt (Apollo 17). They talked about a letter sent to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr., in which they requested that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) “refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites.”

The March 28 letter, signed by 49 former NASA employees, declares that they “believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

“The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.”

It is the “unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change” that should concern you and me—and, it is not just coming from NASA. It is coming from the White House and the EPA, from environmental groups and protestors.

The belief that CO2 is causing catastrophic climate change is the driver for today’s energy policy.

Based on a supposed “consensus,” politicians, and the nonelected bureaucrats they appointed, have, and are, making risky investments with taxpayer dollars (think Solyndra, et al); subsidizing “alternative” energies such as wind and solar that are not effective, efficient, or economical; blocking access to resources that are abundant, available, and affordable—which raises gasoline prices and punishes those who can least afford it; and regulating America’s most cost-effective electricity out of commission. The increasing energy costs are hurting all of America—individuals and industry—and our competitive edge.

Roger Helmer, a member of the European Parliament, offered these comments regarding wind energy and the entire green project in his presentation at ICCC7: “Wind plus gas back up results in virtually zero emissions savings. So, we are desecrating the countryside, we are wasting huge amounts of money, we are impoverishing our children, we are choosing poverty over prosperity—and after all that, we are not even achieving what we set out to achieve. This is madness, madness, madness writ large.”

Once you remove the manmade climate change/CO2 concerns, the foundation for expensive, intermittent “renewable” energy goes away—and there is a huge investment, emotional, ideological, and financial, in keeping the ruse alive.

In comparing the manmade climate change scheme to the European single currency, Helmer said: “Both of the projects are falling apart before our very eyes. But, as they fall apart, the true believers, especially the people with a financial interest—let’s not forget that these projects have attracted vast political and intellectual capital, but they’ve also attracted vast numbers of rent seekers and hangers on, and people whose jobs depend on these projects, and these people do not want to see them go away so these people are coming forward and—are thinking of every possible excuse which might explain what has gone wrong with the projects.”

No wonder there is a war. One side wants to “defend its findings,” while the other wants to “find the truth.”

While America is in an economic war, “advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers, is inappropriate.” In this election season, all candidates would do well to remember the fate of Al Gore and his many AGW supporters. Sensenbrenner offered these wise words on energy policy: “Going forward, we must continue to oppose bad ideas and continue to support technological development the only way it works—by allowing markets to determine the technological winners and losers.”

Echoing the war theme, Helmer offered encouragement in his closing remarks: “This is a battle that we must win. We must win it for America. We must win it for Europe. We must win it for our children and grandchildren. And, we must win it for all mankind. I’ll tell you why we will win it, because, we have two weapons in our armory that the bad guys don’t have. The first weapon is the truth, and the second weapon is the climate.”

Whether scientist or politician, policy analyst or media, one message that came through loud and clear at the ICCC7 is that we’ve come a long way in the climate change war, and we are winning, but we haven’t won yet! The climate change battle is at the center of global energy policy, and the countries that have the ability to develop their natural resources to produce cheap energy will be the victors.


Despite Solyndra, Obama still trying to reshape energy industry

"The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra," President Obama declared two years ago this past weekend. That statement was already doubtful in May, 2010, when Obama visited the solar panel manufacturer's Fremont, Calif., headquarters between political fundraisers, to celebrate the $500 million it had received in taxpayer-funded stimulus cash.

Today, with Solyndra's operations shuttered, its employees laid-off and its assets (including those paid for by taxpayers') divvied up among creditors in bankruptcy, Obama's statement from two years ago makes for a good laugh. Unfortunately, it isn't so funny for the operators of America's real economic engines -- the businesses out there that use energy and do not require government handouts for their day-to-day survival.

Even as he has shoveled stimulus cash into green losers like Solyndra, Beacon Power and others, Obama's EPA has been working hard to keep his 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket" for winning businesses that employ Americans.

If you wonder how Obama could perform so poorly in his primaries against non-entity challengers in Appalachian states like Kentucky and West Virginia, look no further than the president's war on coal. A number of recent EPA rules issued by the Obama administration are shutting down coal-fired power plants, to the delight of environmental extremists in his base. The left-wing group Beyond Coal has gleefully posted a tally online of how many coal-fired plants have shut down so far -- 110 out of 522, or 13 percent of all coal-based electric capacity in the United States. Two rules in particular -- the Utility MACT rule and a rule on coal ash -- will place a $31 billion annual burden on the U.S. economy, according to EPA's own estimates, which will ultimately be borne by consumers and ratepayers.

The consequences of this regulatory demolition go far beyond the coal industry itself. Fox News Online last week noted the recent 2015 capacity auction held by PJM Interconnection, which operates the electric grid for 13 states, mostly in the lower Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. As a result of new EPA regulations that take effect in 2015, the market-clearing price was $136 per megawatt of capacity, or "eight times higher than the price for 2012." Generation capacity makes up only part of your utility bill, so don't expect to see a 700 percent rate increase in 2015 -- but do expect it to go up. Such a spike will have consequences for job creation, especially in energy-intensive fields like manufacturing, and it will come at a time when the job market should be regaining the ground it has lost since 2008.

The lesson of Solyndra's bankruptcy goes beyond one failed company whose investors bought influence in the Obama White House. It speaks more broadly to a president who knows little about industry, yet is determined to re-shape it in his own politically correct image and likeness. Ordinary working people will pay the price for his attempt to placate an ideological base consumed by hatred of coal and fear that global warming will soon send tidal waves through the streets of New York City.


Nicola Scafetta: The Theory Is Very Simple

Nicola Scafetta is a scientist at Duke University and at the Active Cavity Radiometer Solar Irradiance Monitor Lab which is associated with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. He claims that "at least 60% of the warming of the Earth observed since 1970 appears to be induced by natural cycles which are present in the solar system.” As his theory is controversial, we asked him to outline it. For the near future he predicts a stabilisation of global temperature or cooling until 2030-2040.

Q. What is your solar system cycles theory?

A. The theory is very simple in words. The solar system is characterized by a set of specific gravitational oscillations due to the fact that the planets are moving around the sun. Everything in the solar system tends to synchronize to these frequencies beginning with the sun itself. The oscillating sun then causes equivalent cycles in the climate system. Also the moon acts on the climate system with its own harmonics. In conclusion we have a climate system that is mostly made of a set of complex cycles that mirror astronomical cycles. Consequently it is possible to use these harmonics to both approximately hindcast and forecast the harmonic component of the climate, at least on a global scale. This theory is supported by strong empirical evidences using the available solar and climatic data.

The closest analogy is given by the harmonic model currently used to predict ocean tides.

Q. What is the physical mechanism?

A. There are three major mechanisms acting together: gravity, nuclear fusion - luminosity production, magnetism.

1) The planets act on the sun mostly via gravitational tidal forcings that are characterized by the astronomical harmonics in the same way that the tides on the Earth are regulated by lunar/solar gravitational harmonics.

2) The sun is in a state of almost perfect balance between gravitational forces and nuclear fusion luminosity production. This balance is very sensitive to gravitational or luminosity changes. If, for example, gravitational forces make some additional work (relative to a given average) on the sun, the sun responds by increasing its luminosity production to restore the balance, and vice-versa. The planetary tides slightly modulate the gravitational work balance inside the sun, and the sun responds by modulating its luminosity production. Because the luminosity production is energetically around 1,000,000 times the gravitational work released into the star, the solar core should work as a great amplifier of the planetary gravitational tidal energy. Thus, solar luminosity and all dynamical solar processes end up oscillating with a set of frequencies related to the planetary frequencies. This is the theory I propose in my last published paper, just last week.

3) The oscillating sun induces equivalent magnetic oscillations in the heliosphere. Magnetic oscillations have numerous effects: they modulate the incoming cosmic ray flux and modulate other electric currents in the heliosphere, that is, they regulate the space weather which is mostly made of electric phenomena. These phenomena occur together with the luminosity oscillations.

The Earth system is very sensitive to these electric changes because they cause ionization of the upper atmosphere and regulate cloud formation. Thus, the cloud formation will approximately follow the astronomical harmonics and make the albedo oscillate by about 1-3% . An oscillating albedo causes oscillations in the amount of light reaching the surface of the Earth, which is what causes the oscillations observed in the surface temperature.

Of course at the moment not all single physical mechanisms are understood, quantified or modeled.

Point 1 has can be easily quantified

Point 2 has been quantified, at least I made a proposal, but a full model also needs empirical modeling because solar physics is not so advanced.

Point 3 needs the understanding of how clouds form in details and the relation with cosmic ray etc. that is still under study. The modeling can be empirically done.

Q. How are your forecasts comparing with global temperatures?

A. The astronomical harmonic temperature model has been tested in its hindcast/forecast capabilities and performs quite well.

For example I calibrated the model in the period 1850-1950 and was able to reproduce all decadal multidecadal variation observed from 1950 to 2012, and vice versa. A full model that also included a possible anthropogenic component has been calibrated from 1970 to 2000 and was able to accurately forecast the temperature trend from 2000 to 2012.

About the solar harmonic model: it has been constructed by using physical information obtained in the period 1750-2010 and was able to hindcast all major solar and climatic variability observed during the Holocene (12,000 years). For example the model approximately hindcast the little ice age, medieval warm period, Dark Age cold period, roman warm period etc. The model reconstruct all secular scale oscillations observed in temperature and solar records for 2000 years at least: these include the Maunder minimum, Dalton minimum and other grand solar minima. Of course the model predicts the current warm period and a 60-year major modulation observed in the temperature since 1850. Thus the model may give some good idea about the future too. The sun is entering in a gran minimum that will reach the lowest level around in the 2030s and reach a new maximum in 2060s, the temperature will be partially regulated by this cycle.

Q. What is the reaction from other scientists?

A. The theory that I am proposing is relatively new and somehow revolutionary. Four major papers have been just published since January 2012. A real reaction can be measured only in the future.

The few scientists that have spent sufficient time in really studying my paper with an open mind were quite impressed and interested.

Unfortunately, the mainstream climate community and also the solar community is very closed because of their almost religious assumption that the science is settled and/or that climate (or the sun) is regulated by internal mechanisms alone.

So, it is easy for many to simply dismiss what I say without really understanding it. But, as I said major papers have been just published. So, I do not have really significant reaction yet.

However, the fact is that I can hindcast major properties observed in climate and solar records for decades, centuries and millennia, as my papers demonstrate while the mainstream climate community cannot do it. My models overcome any IPCC GCM for accuracy that is also demonstrated in one of my recent peer review publications just published.

Evidently, there is the need to wait some time for a full acknowledgment of the entire scientific community.

Q. Is a rational debate possible?

A. Yes, but there is the need to study the results that I am finding well. A rational debate requires the willingness to understand what the other person would like to say and how he is making the arguments: understanding what are his findings and so on. All this is time consuming, of course.

The issues are evidently complex, many physical details are of course still unknown and what is known needs to be understood in the way it can be understood, not just in the way one wishes to understand it.

A rational debate needs to be based on data analysis and their careful study, that is, people need to look at the data and at the results "carefully". People should not have the pretense that everything should have been clearly understood and explained already: we are talking about frontier science where it is normal to have open issues, etc.

Indeed, it is not difficult to understand the concept of "cycle" and if well presented the message is indeed quite simple and understandable.

By the way, people have always understood climate as partially/mostly influenced by astronomical cycles since antiquity up to the 20th century. From Ptolemy to Kepler, that was how climate change had to be understood. So, the theory I propose continues a long tradition, although right now it is an almost forgotten tradition.



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


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Warmists are still trying to "hide the decline"

Steve McIntryre's blog is in my opinion the most scholarly climate site on the net. I rarely quote from it, however, because it rapidly descends (as it should) into technicalities that are well beyond the lay reader. I am quoting the article below, however, both because it should be within the comprehension of lay readers and because it reveals clearly the low intellectual calibre of Warmist "scientists". Myles Allen is head of the Climate Dynamics group at the University of Oxford's Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics Department but he is either a very poor communicator or is utterly confused.

Myles Allen has written here blaming Bishop Hill for “keeping the public focussed on irrelevancies” like the Hockey Stick:

"My fear is that by keeping the public focussed on irrelevancies, you are excluding them from the discussion of what we should do about climate change"

But it’s not Bishop Hill that Myles Allen should be criticizing; it’s John Houghton who more or less made the Hockey Stick the logo of the IPCC. Mann was told that IPCC higher-ups wanted a visual that didn’t “dilute the message” and they got one: they deleted the last part of the Briffa reconstruction – Hide the Decline.

If, as Allen now says, it’s an “irrelevancy”, then Houghton and IPCC should not have used it so prominently. And they should not have encouraged or condoned sharp practice like Hide the Decline.

In the run-up to AR4, I suggested that, if the topic was “irrelevant”, as some climate scientists have said, then IPCC should exclude it from the then AR4. Far from trying to keep the topic alive in AR4, I suggested that it be deleted altogether. I guess that there was a “consensus” otherwise. If Allen wants to complain, then he should first criticize IPCC.

Bishop Hill links to a presentation by Myles Allen to a 2011 conference on Climategate, which like every other such handwringing introspection by climate “communicators”, notably failed to invite any of the major CRU critics – people who might actually have given them some insight into Climategate.

In his presentation to climate communicators, Allen gave his own version of Hide the Decline. Allen showed the graphic below, sneering that the entire effect of Climategate was 0.02 deg C in the 1870s.

Needless to say, Allen’s graph has nothing to do with Hide the Decline and the Climategate dossier. Allen’s graph shows the CRUTEM temperature index from 1850, not the 1000 year reconstructions in which Hide the Decline occurred.

CRUTEM was only mentioned a couple of times in the Climategate dossier. Climategate was about the Hockey Stick, though this point was misunderstood by Sarah Palin and now, it seems, Myles Allen.

In contrast, here’s a graphic from Richard Muller’s 2011 lecture. Unlike Allen, Muller understood Hide the Decline, which is shown here in one of its manifestations. (This is the WMO graphic; the more important Hide the Decline was in the IPCC Third and Fourth Assessment reports.)

Hide the Decline is not 0.02 deg C in the 1870s; it was Briffa, Mann and Jones deleting the inconvenient portion of the Briffa reconstruction after 1960. And it wasn’t a microscopic difference. This difference is large enough that it might well have “diluted the message” that Houghton and others wanted to convey.

While one would hope and expect that Myles Allen would have had a better factual grasp on Climategate issues than Sarah Palin, it seems that we’ve been disappointed.

Allen’s decision to show temperature data rather than Hockey Stick reconstructions cleverly draws attention away from the problems of those reconstructions. The Climategate emails have a apt phrase for Allen’s technique. Showing an unrelated dispute about a temperature graphic rather than the decreasing Briffa reconstruction is itself just another …. trick to hide the decline.

Update: Lucia responded to Myles ALlen in the comments as follows:
[Myles Allen said]

"I appreciate that people like yourself who have devoted a lot of time to the analysis of paleoclimate data find it irritating when scientists who don’t work in that area dismiss it as uninformative."

First: communication tip: You need to learn to post complete thoughts. Uninformative about what? Everything? Climategate? Or the thermometer record? Or the strength of evidence for AGW?

Depending on how I read your mind, you may be saying something true or utterly false. If you are going to lecture people on communicating science you might want to stop making readers guess which you mean.

Second: It seems to me you are misunderstanding what SteveMc writes. He’s not saying he is irritated that someone thinks paleo data is uninformative. He is saying that you suggest the “whole affair” (i.e. climategate) is an argument about the thermometer record. The fact is: climategate is not merely or even mostly about the thermometer record.

And I stand by the assertion that, thanks to the sloppy coverage the affair received in the media, it wasn’t just Sarah Palin who got the impression that the instrumental temperature record was seriously compromised

I would suggest that the main reason for this “sloppy coverage” was that reporters turned to people trying to rebut those discussing climategate at blogs and in forums. Some people people who (like you) might prefer to discuss the thermometer record rather than misbehavior of scientists or what “hide the decline” meant, diverted the discussion to the thermomeber record.

I strongly suspect the behavior of the scientists who wanted to suppress discussion of climategate succeeded in giving the media the incorrect impression that climategate was about the thermometer record is one of the reasons much of the media, some politicians, and Sarah Palin developed the impression climategate is about the thermometer record.

That you can show they were confused about what people at blogs and forums were posting about merely shows you don’t know what it was about.

I would also suggest the only thing that can come of you continuing to try to convince people it was about the thermometer records is for people to explain that which you do not wish to be discussed: The Hockey Stick, misbehavior or scientists and the various whitewash investigations.

OTOH: If you simply wish to communicate that the topics that are central to climategate are not important to our understanding of climate change- that would be fine. But if you wish to make the case that the hockey stick doesn’t matter, then you need to make that clearly. Unfortunately for you, clear exposition requires discussion of the hockey stick!

A proper exposition might be to

a) Discuss what the hockey stick “is” with a little history.(Accuracy would be useful here. Mention it was used as background at IPCC meetings, and in Gore’s talk.)

b) Discuss why this shape is not important to our understanding of climate change. Show versions with and without the decline– and explain why even if the decline exists we do believe the world is warming. Do this by

c) Explaining the thermometer record.

Don’t try to take the tack of inaccurately claiming that climategate is actually about the thermometer record. If you take that tack, you’ll find yourself trying to defend your position– downgrading much of what you seemed to present rather strongly as your opinion, and burying your arguments in favor of your opinion deep in comments at a blog. (I’d note: I think much of your argument amounts to “changing the subject”– but that’s another matter.)

Moreover, I would like to point out that unless say what paleo is uninformative about your claim that paleo is not important (at all) seems a bit thin. Climate blog addicts can easily see see that on May 26, 2012 you are chiding Bishop Hill for discussing the Hockey Stick and providing lengthy explanations of its lack of importance while Real Climate’s front page is simultaneously running a post on discussing Hockey Sticks (See
Fresh hockey sticks from the Southern Hemisphere, May 22).

It’s quite likely some will suspect that your opinion that the hockey still is uninformative (about something you don’t quite spit out) is maybe not entirely correct.

Third: Returning to “first”. When I watched your talk, I was struck by your tendency toward vagueness. Based on what you write in your defense in comments, I learn that the allusion to “the data” at minute 2:37 likely meant “the thermometer record” and “impact of the whole affair” (i.e. climategate) must have meant “impact of portions of the climategate discussions that relate to the thermometer record”.

Your talk is riddled with these types of vague ambiguities. The consequence is that– on the whole– what your talk appears to communicate is false. If the audience comes away thinking you are suggesting that climategate was not about the paleo records, and that you think the only impact of climategate is a small tweak on the thermometer record, then the fault for their misunderstanding you falls on you for communicating rather badly.

Next time you want to make a presentation telling reporters that they shouldn’t focus on the paleo record but rather the thermometer record, you might be wise not to try to turn that into a talk about how the media got climategate wrong.

Try to bite off less– stick to just discussing the thermoter record and why you think it tells us that the world has warmed and it’s because of man.

If you want to discuss climategate and how scientists failed to communicate their position, you have a hard row to hoe. Much of the reason scientists communicated the issues in climategate badly is they didn’t want to talk about them.

Scientists' mistake was to respond to journalists by trying to change the subject; others with plenty of ink keep talking. All the whining in the world isn’t going to get people to stop discussing the topic.

You can keep trying to do that: it isn’t going to work any better in 2012 than it did from 2009-2011.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

More Coal, More Gas, More Nuclear: German Government May Abandon Green Energy Transition

The German government no longer believes in the green energy transition. Doubts are growing in the ruling coalition government that the ecological project can succeed.

The project, which involves shutting down Germany's nuclear power plants and an increase of the share of renewable energy to 40 percent, was a very ambitious goal, the parliamentary leader of the Free Liberal Party (FDP) Rainer Bruederle told "Welt am Sonntag". "We will have to build a whole range of new gas-and coal-fired power plants - perhaps more than we first thought. It cannot be that we are shutting down our nuclear power plants and then import nuclear electricity from France or the Czech Republic," he said.

The former minister accused the federal states of ignoring the consequence for climate change and energy security instead of focusing on a transition to an ecological energy systems.

Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan (CDU), told the paper that wind and solar energy were the long term goal, but that the target could only be achieved gradually. Along the way, however, gas and coal-fired power plants would have to fill the gaps.

The deputy leader of the parliamentary Conservative Party, Michael Fuchs (CDU), is now considering a delay of the nuclear phase-out. "So far, the green energy transition has been limited to the idea that we switch off our nuclear power plants, but the consequences have not been thought through," he said. "We haven't got the costs under control at all."


Furore in Britain over EU's new 'green' fuel drive that will force 4p a litre rise in petrol [gasoline]

Bureaucrats in Europe could push the price of petrol up in the UK by 4p a litre by dictating 'green' fuel targets to member states.

Under tough energy targets in a Brussels directive, 10 per cent of the energy used in the transport sector across the EU will have to come from biofuels or other 'renewable' energy sources rather than fossil fuel by 2020.

But campaigners argue that the green initiative will just penalise motorists and taxpayers in Britain who are already struggling to keep their head above water in the current economic climate.

Peter Carroll, of the FairFuel UK campaign, said: 'The absolute priority at the moment is getting petrol and diesel to an affordable level and anything that stops that from happening should be resisted.

'Many of our supporters have the environment at heart but before we can concentrate and invest in more environmentally friendly forms of transport, such as electric cars and better public transport, we need a secure economy that is stable and growing.

'Environmentalists do themselves a lot of harm by beating motorists with a stick on price. All this does is harm the hardworking individual without bringing in any realistic form of long-term change.

'How does this help the nurse who needs to dig in to her own pocket to pay for petrol to visit patients in rural areas because her fuel allowance won't cover the cost of the journeys? It's very naive.'

He added that as well as campaigning against the EU directive, FairFuel UK is also calling for the government to scrap the planned 3p price hike in August.

Mr Carroll argued that the level of duty on fuel in the UK should be brought down to the significantly lower level of other European countries - around 26 per cent - before any further costs are landed on motorists.

He added: 'Adding 3p per litre when the economy is on its knees, families are struggling to survive week by week and UK businesses are struggling borders on economic madness.

'A cut of just 2.5p per litre would boost growth by a much needed 0.33 per cent, create 175,000 jobs and crucially not harm Treasury revenues – the tax take on the stimulated economic growth compensates for the loss of Fuel Duty.'

Biofuels come from a range of sources including plants, fermented organic matter, bacteria and bio waste and it is considered to be the most viable way of cutting down greenhouse gas emissions. But the process is also very costly.

A Brussels directive in 2003 first insisted that 5.75 per cent of the energy used in the transport sector across the 27 EU member states should be 'green' by 2010 but it then increased the target again in 2009 to 10 per cent by 2020.

EU officials hope the tough targets will reduce dependency on oil-based fuels and help encourage an increased use of more environmentally friendly fuels. But critics still argue now is not the time to be putting more pressure on EU member states that are trying to revive their economies.

The move was described as 'insanity' by a leading campaigner for cheaper fuel Tory MP Robert Halfon. He told the Daily Express: 'This is insanity. This stupid directive would force the Treasury to put another 3 or 4p on a litre.

'The Government is trying to keep fuel duty down, but now we have these European bureaucrats meddling to force up the price. Frankly, the Government should tell them where to go. 'How can we get our economy moving again when Brussels keeps inventing new taxes to destroy growth and jobs?'


U.S. Senate panel reins in Pentagon on "clean" energy

The Pentagon's investment in green energy requires too much green paper for some in Congress.

A sharply divided Senate Armed Services Committee voted this week to prohibit the military from spending money on alternative fuels if the cost exceeds traditional fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil. The move underscores congressional concern about the greater expense of clean energy sources such as biofuels as the Pentagon wrestles with smaller budgets. The committee, in crafting a sweeping defense budget for next year, also voted to block Pentagon construction of a biofuels refinery or any other facility to refine biofuels.

Both efforts passed on 13-12 votes that were disclosed Friday.

"In a tough budget climate for the Defense Department, we need every dollar to protect our troops on the battlefield with energy technologies that reduce fuel demand and save lives," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "Spending $26 per gallon of biofuel is not consistent with that goal. The committee's action corrects this misplacement of priorities."

The moves by the Senate panel follow even tougher steps in the Republican-controlled House challenging the Pentagon's investment in clean energy. That version of the defense bill would bar the military from buying alternative fuels if the cost exceeds traditional fossil fuels. The bill also exempts the Pentagon from some requirements under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which is designed to increase production of clean renewable fuels.

The law stipulates that if a federal department or agency uses alternative fuels, they cannot produce more greenhouse gases than regular petroleum.

In threatening to veto the House bill, the White House said it objected to provisions that would affect the Defense Department's "ability to procure alternative fuels and would further increase American reliance on fossil fuels, thereby contributing to geopolitical instability and endangering our interests aboard."

The department is the nation's largest consumer of energy, spending about $15 billion last year on fuel for tanks, ships, aircraft and other operations. In Afghanistan, the military uses more than 50 million gallons of fuel each month.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said higher fuel costs have hit the Pentagon hard, creating a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion.

The Navy and Air Force have pushed to use more biofuels to operate its aircraft and ships, with military leaders suggesting a greater reliance on alternative sources in the next decade to ease dependence on foreign oil.

The Pentagon is pushing for $1.4 billion in next year's budget for investments in clean energy, including hybrid electric drives for ships, more efficient engines, better generators and solar power.

"As one of the largest landowners and energy consumers in the world, our drive is to be more efficient and environmentally sustainable," Panetta said in a speech earlier this month to the Environmental Defense Fund. "We have to be able to have the potential to transform the nation's approach to the challenges we are facing in the environment and energy security. We've got to look ahead to try to see how we can best achieve that."

Panetta went as far as to suggest that environmental threats stand as threats to national security.

"The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security: Rising sea levels, to severe droughts, to the melting of the polar caps, to more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," he said.

Days later, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe challenged Panetta's comments.

"Secretary Panetta has a real war to win, and he should not be wasting time perpetrating President Obama's global warming fantasies or his ongoing war on affordable energy," said the Oklahoma lawmaker. "At a time when the defense budget is being significantly reduced and the Pentagon is forced to make every dollar stretch even further, it is ludicrous for the DOD to spend billions of dollars on green energy projects. Instead, they should be using those funds on people, training and equipment."

It was Inhofe and McCain, who successfully pushed for the amendments limiting Pentagon investments in clean energy.


India May Ban European Airlines on EU Emission Rules

China has already hit back by blocking orders for new European aircraft. It takes a lot to get through the thick skulls of Green EU bureaucrats

NEW DELHI – India may ban European carriers from flying into the country if the European Union includes airlines in its emissions control system, a senior Indian government official said Friday.

"We will take retaliatory actions to counter steps taken by [the] EU. If Europe bans our carriers we will ban theirs as well," the official told reporters.

India and 26 other nations have protested against the EU's planned rules requiring all airlines to hold permits that allow them to emit carbon dioxide during any flight landing at or taking off from any airport in the region.

The potentially costly procedure will be an additional burden for Indian carriers, already reeling from huge financial losses. India has already barred its carriers from participating in the EU system.


"Death threats" to Australian climate scientists were all hokum

Scorn is not a death threat

The death threat saga has reached parliament, with questions being asked at a Senate Estimates Committee of Prof Ian Chubb, current Chief Scientist, but Vice Chancellor of the ANU until March 2011. Most amazingly, Chubb confirms there were no death threats until the journalists got hold of the story!

The Australian reports that Liberal senator Scott Ryan questioned Chubb, who responded that, in 2010: "A senior member of his staff came to him with concerns from the institution's climate scientists over emails they had received and said they had also had "a couple of visits from people who had walked in off the street".

The staff member expressed a desire to have the climate scientists moved from their then-location, Professor Chubb said. "We looked at what we could do and we moved them. Senator, we did not make a fanfare, we did not go public. We simply moved them and got on with our business,"

Basically they were given swipe card access. So does this incident refer to the "kangaroo cull" incident, or another? He goes on to confirm he never read the emails: "They were at least abusive but let me be clear . . . I didn't read the emails. I trusted the man who came to me, he was a senior member of the staff and he represented concerns of the staff to me," Professor Chubb said.

Yes, it has been accepted all along that the emails were offensive. However, Chubb saves the best until last: "For the record, there were no alleged death threats except when journalists picked up the story."

So is this a media beat up? Can we now assume that this means that during Chubb's watch as Vice Chancellor, which ended in March 2011 with the appointment of Ian Young, there were no death threats to climate scientists at ANU? If so, why are the ANU still insisting, through the ABC correction, that they did, in fact, receive such threats?

The window during which such threats must have been received is closing rapidly, and is now restricted to the period March - June 2011. I am still awaiting a response to the questions I sent to the ANU's media office on Friday, seeking clarification.

Time, I think, for the ANU to finally come clean on this mess.



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


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Death by a thousand regulations: Britain's new Energy Bill

The Bill is designed primarily to implement the government’s proposed electricity market reforms (EMR) (which were discussed in previous Oxford Energy Comments

Return of the P-word in July 2011 and Back to the Future of December 2011

It contains provisions to implement Contracts for Differences (CfDs), the Capacity Market and so-called Investment Instruments, which are intended to prevent delays in investment as the other measures are being developed.

What is noteworthy in the Bill is that despite the words “contract” and “market”, all these provisions are designed around the same pattern – a power for the Secretary of State to make regulations by means of which obligations would be imposed on electricity generators and all suppliers. In other words, what will underpin both decarbonisation and security of supply in the future electricity industry will not be a market or private contracts but a complex set of government regulations – an ironic outcome for a process originally described as one of “deregulation”.

That is, however, deliberate. The government believes that the risks of investment (and along with them required rates of return) would otherwise be too high to be acceptable to investors and consumers; the regulated approach is designed to reduce risks and costs. But it also entails a massive and unprecedented degree of centralisation and detailed decision-making by the government.

For instance, the regulations on CfDs can specify:

* The means by which electricity is to be generated

* Generating capacity

* Plant location

* Location of supply

* Duration of the CfD

* Requirements to enter into agreements with third parties

* Setting the strike price

* Setting the market reference price

* Setting maximum overall costs

* Penalties, enforcement and many other administrative matters.

Similar provisions apply to the other instruments, and it is this complex web of regulation which will govern the future operation of the industry.

Other provisions in the draft Bill

Other provisions in the Bill are less radical but generally point in the same direction. For instance, one new power is for the Secretary of State to issue a Strategy and Policy Statement setting out its energy policy priorities. Ofgem will then have to act in the manner best calculated to further the delivery of these policy outcomes. Again (although the government does not admit it) this is a significant change. Originally Ofgem’s duties focused exclusively on economic regulation – the promotion of competition and consumer protection. There was a clear demarcation – the government was responsible for energy policy; the regulator for the operation of markets.

This distinction can no longer be drawn. It started to become blurred in the early 2000s. The regulator’s duties were amended to include the promotion of sustainable development and a requirement to have regard to the effect on the environment in carrying out its functions. Under the Utilities Act 2000, it also had to have regard to social and environmental guidance issued by the government.

By the late 2000s “E-Serve” (which implements the environmental aspects of the regulator’s functions) constituted the bulk of Ofgem’s spending. The latest development is the outcome of the recent Ofgem review. Ofgem will not just have to take account of the government’s policy goals; it will be expected to set out annually how it plans to deliver its contribution to each policy outcome. In other words the job of the regulator will be as much to help deliver the government’s policy goals, as to police markets.

Much more HERE


I have commented before about the political problems of the scientific community, which are typically being turned around against Republicans. In a post last month I recalled the 2004 remark by Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin in the New York Review of Books that “Most scientists are, at a minimum, liberals,” and the caution of MIT’s Kerry Emanuel about the dangers of “group think” and the “shocking lack of political diversity among American academics.” He concluded that “Until this profound and well-documented intellectual homogeneity changes, scientists will be suspected of constituting a leftist think tank.”

Well, this week the National Academy of Sciences had a chance to do something about this, and . . . completely blew it. A two-day symposium on science and public policy featured a panel of presidential science advisers, but the panel included only advisers to Democratic presidents, including Obama’s science adviser, the egregious John (sterilize the public) Holdren. The others were two advisers for Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter’s science adviser, the 87-year-old Frank Press.

Conspicuously missing from the panel was President Reagan’s science adviser Jay Keyworth, who is a spry 72. (He turns out to be the only living GOP science adviser.) When asked why Keyworth wasn’t invited, NAS president Ralph Cicerone said, “We didn’t want to go back that far.”

So let’s see: having Jimmy Carter’s 87-year-old science adviser apparently isn’t “going back that far,” but having Reagan’s still active 72-year old science adviser would be? And please tell me again why we shouldn’t regard scientific elites with suspicion?

Maybe the NAS should put together a panel to explore the strange bubble around the scientific establishment that distorts its outlook on the world. I used to respect Cicerone, in part for staring down the enviros when they tried to prevent an NAS panel on geoengineering. But no more. These people deserve every calumny thrown their way.


Obama taps Yucca Mountain critic to lead nuclear agency

Moving quickly to stem a controversy, President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated an expert on nuclear waste to lead the federal agency that regulates the nation's nuclear power plants.

Allison Macfarlane, who served on a presidential commission that studied new strategies to manage nuclear waste, would replace Gregory Jaczko as head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Jaczko announced his resignation Monday after a tumultuous three-year tenure in which he pushed for sweeping safety reforms but came under fire for an unyielding management style that fellow commissioners and agency employees described as bullying.

A White House spokesman said Obama believes Macfarlane is the right person to lead the commission, calling her a highly regarded expert who has spent years analyzing nuclear issues.

Macfarlane "understands the role that nuclear power must play in our nation's energy future while ensuring that we are always taking steps to produce this important energy source safely and securely," White House spokesman Clark Stevens said.

Stevens called the NRC crucial to protecting public health and safety and said Obama hopes the Senate considers her nomination quickly.

Macfarlane, 48, an associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., wrote a book in 2006 that raised technical questions about a proposed nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is the leading congressional opponent of the Yucca site, praised Macfarlane as someone who will make nuclear safety a top priority. Macfarlane's education and experience, especially her service on the blue-ribbon commission on nuclear waste, make her qualified to lead the NRC "for the foreseeable future," Reid said in a statement.

Reid said he continues to have concerns about Republican Kristine Svinicki, who has been nominated by Obama for a new term on the commission, but added that he believes Svinicki and Macfarlane should be considered together, continuing a recent Senate tradition of considering NRC nominees from opposing parties at the same time.

Svinicki, a nuclear engineer and former Senate GOP aide, was among four NRC commissioners who publicly criticized Jaczko's management style last year. The commissioners - two Democrats and two Republicans - sent a letter to the White House last fall expressing "grave concern" about Jaczko' s actions, which they said were abusive and "causing serious damage" to the commission.

No disciplinary action was taken against Jaczko, who has strongly denied the allegations.

Jaczko, a Democrat, announced his resignation ahead of a potentially blistering report due out soon from the agency's inspector general, which has been investigating Jaczko's actions for more than a year.

A former Reid aide, Jaczko led a strong response to the nuclear disaster in Japan and was a favorite of industry watchdogs, who called his emphasis on safety a refreshing change from previous agency chiefs who were close to the nuclear industry or who came from it.

But scientists, fellow commissioners and many rank-and-file staffers said Jaczko had created a chilled working environment at the NRC, which oversees safety at the nation's 104 commercial nuclear reactors.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, called Macfarlane "an active contributor to policy debates in the nuclear energy field for many years" and urged the Senate to confirm her nomination as soon as possible.

"It would not serve the public interest to have her nomination linger," the group said. "We urge the Senate to confirm both Commissioner Svinicki and Professor Macfarlane expeditiously."

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Environment Committee, said Macfarlane's background and experience demonstrate a strong commitment to safety - a commitment she called especially important in the wake of the nuclear disaster at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

Boxer said she will schedule a joint hearing on the two NRC nominees in June.

Per Peterson, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of California, served with Macfarlane on the nuclear waste commission, which was appointed by the Obama administration to make recommendations on how the nation should store and dispose of more than 71,000 tons of radioactive waste at dozens of sites across the country.

"I think she will be effective in leadership" of the NRC, "mainly because she listens," Peterson said of Macfarlane.

In a 2009 interview with Technology Review, Macfarlane acknowledged that most of the objections to the never-completed Yucca Mountain site were political, but added: "The technical objections are serious and real."

The area near Yucca Mountain is seismically and volcanically active, she said, adding that spent nuclear fuel could be stored safely at nuclear plants for decades.

The presidential panel recommended that the government start looking immediately for an alternative to Yucca Mountain. The report also recommended that responsibility for managing nuclear waste be transferred to a new organization, independent of the Energy Department.


Green Energy Transition: Germany Fears De-Industrialisation

As a result of Germany's green energy transition, electricity prices are exploding. Consumers and businesses are paying the price while Germany faces gradual de-industrialisation. Economists estimate that the cost of the green energy transition will total 170 billion Euros by 2020. This is more than double of what Germany would have to write off if Greece were to withdraw from the monetary union.

In June 2011, Angela Merkel said: "German companies just as citizens of Germany have to be supplied with affordable electricity, also in the future."

Today it is obvious that Merkel has promised too much. Energy prices in Germany are increasing dramatically - by 57 percent in just the past ten years - and not least because the state is one of the biggest drivers of cost. Taxes and duties on electricity prices have now risen to 23.7 billion Euros p.a. - an increase of just over 1,000 percent within 15 years. The levies on electricity look more like a special energy tax, which is higher than the revenue from tobacco and motor vehicle taxes combined.

This figure is the result of an electricity price analysis by the Federal Association of Energy and Water Industry (BDEW). It should have been a wakeup call for the Chancellor who met with the Prime Ministers of the German states in the Chancellery this week to discuss the green energy transition. The results of the meeting were meagre: the Federal Government and state governments will work together more closely in the future. Merkel announced that summit meetings will be held every six months.

"The green energy transition is a big task to which we are committed together," said the Chancellor. A Federal network planning law to expand the electricity grid should be agreed before the summer break and adopted by the end of the year.

According to Merkel, it was also agreed to harmonise the further expansion of renewable energy “with the need for base-load capable power plants." The Federal Government will soon make a suggestion towards this goal. The Chancellor also expressed the hope that there would be an agreement in the mediation process for the energy renovation of buildings and the planned cuts in solar subsidies by the government until the summer.

For industry and consumers, this is only a small consolation. Experts agree that renewables subsidies must be cut quickly. The promotion of renewable energy has become the largest single item of green taxes and levies. This year, the subsidies will increase to the highest ever annual figure of 14.1 billion Euros.

German industry, in particular, is suffering from high electricity prices. Most affected are the chemical, metal and paper industries. In the aluminium industry, the electricity costs amount to about 40 percent of total costs.

All industries complain; some companies have already closed down: the aluminium smelter Voerdal in the Lower Rhine town of Voerde recently filed for bankruptcy because of high energy prices. The U.S. chemical giant Dow Chemical currently operates 17 plants with more than 5,000 employees in Germany. "Because of the green energy transition I get increasingly critical questions from our corporate headquarters in the US about whether energy supply in Germany is still possible at competitive prices," said Germany boss Ralf Brinkmann.

Germany's de-industrialization has already begun

"The de-industrialization has already begun," Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has warned in an interview with the Handelsblatt. Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, President of the Steel Trade Association, complains: "The levels of industrial electricity prices are higher here than in most other countries."

Within the Federal Government, the concerns are growing: "The price of electricity has become the Achilles’ heel of the energy revolution. We must design it in such a way that electricity prices remain affordable," says Thomas Bareiß, energy policy coordinator of the Parliamentary Christian Democrats (CDU). Experts estimate that the cost of the green energy transition will total 170 billion Euros by 2020. This is more than double of what Germany would have to write off if Greece were to withdraw from the monetary union.

What is of particular concern is that Germany’s industry has helped the country to more economic growth compared to other countries during the recent years of crisis. Countries such as Britain envy Germany for the 22 percent share of industry in its GDP.

Therefore, policy makers face a dilemma. On the one hand, industry has to be relieved from energy costs in order not to jeopardize its international competitiveness, says CDU expert Thomas Bareiss. On the other hand, the burden should not unilaterally end up with households. "The only solution is to make the green energy transition as cost effective as possible," says the conservative politician. In this context, he criticised the federal states that had recently rejected a cut in solar subsidies by a two-thirds majority.

At the Chancellor’s energy meeting with the prime ministers of the German states, the issue of electricity prices will be high on the agenda. Merkel initially only wanted to talk about the expansion of the national grid. Maybe she did not want to be reminded of her promise from last June that the price of electricity would be affordable for industry and consumers.

Yet, the figures tell a different story. At the beginning of the liberalisation of the electricity market in 1998, government taxes and levies for all electricity consumers amounted to 2.28 billion Euros. In 2012 the figure is about ten times as high. The 14.1 billion in subsidies for the promotion of renewable energy is also the single largest item of government taxes and levies on electricity.

Taxes and levies already make up 45 percent of the electricity bill of an average private household with three people. The average household is charged 75 Euros per month, of which only 41 Euro are derived from the procurement, transportation and distribution of electricity, i.e. the actual service. 34 Euros are taxes and duties.

The tenfold increase in taxes represents only the beginning of a trend that will further accelerate significantly in the opinion of many experts. The reason: the green energy transition. If the Federal Government wants to achieve its ambitious goals, it will have to redistribute a lot of money, which it has collected from consumers. The share of renewable energy in electricity generation is supposed to increase from currently 20 percent to 35 percent by 2020 and to 50 percent by 2030.

That will incur additional costs. There are now a number of calculations and scenarios on the subject. In a report presented in early May, the management consultancy McKinsey comes to the conclusion that the total cost of the green energy transition will amount up to 175 billion Euros between 2011 and 2020. In 2020, Germany’s electricity consumers would have to bear costs of 21.5 billion Euros, costs that are caused entirely by the switch to renewable energy.


The worldwide crash of green energy companies

The RENIXX® (Renewable Energy Industrial Index) World is the first global stock index, which comprises the performance of the world´s 30 largest companies of the renewable energy industry

The RENIXX Index of the 30 largest renewable energy companies in the world is trading at an all-time low today and has lost over 90% of its value since 2008.

A partial listing of green energy companies that have already filed bankruptcy or are teetering on the brink is below. Many of these companies were financed by taxpayers.

Filed Bankruptcy:

Beacon Power
Range Fuels
Solar Trust of America
Evergreen Solar
Eastern Energy
Bright Automotive
Olson's Crop Service
Energy Conversion Devices
Mountain Plaza

Teetering on the Brink:

Abound Solar
A123 Systems
Brightsource Energy
Fisker Automotive
First Solar
Nevada Geothermal
The Bard Group
NRG Energy
Alterra Power
Enel Green Power
Sunpower Corp


Trying to supply a growing population with water without building any new dams has been a costly disaster in the Australian State of Queensland

Rather than build the new dams needed to cope with a rising population they grabbed at any and all alternatives -- too bad about what they cost. Dams are of course anathema to Greenies

THE LNP Government is struggling to meet a key election commitment to bring down water charges as miserly Queenslanders scarred by a decade of drought save every drop.

The state's refusal to squander water will cost the Government about $400 million in the next five years as water revenues dry up. The LNP had also inherited a water debt of about $9 billion rather than the $7 billion it was prepared for. The annual interest on the debt now exceeds half a billion dollars.

Premier Campbell Newman is trying to hammer out a plan to manage the water debt while still honouring his commitment to bring down water costs for Queenslanders by about $80 a year. "This is going to take a bit of working through," a Government spokesman said. "But the Government remains committed to reducing water bills for Queensland households."

The previous Labor government ran up a huge debt attempting to drought-proof Queensland with large-scale projects, including the Gold Coast desalination plant and the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project.

The Western Corridor was the largest such project in the southern hemisphere and included 200km of large-diameter pipe as well as advanced water treatment plants at Bundamba, Gibson Island and Luggage Point.

Revenue forecasts on the capital works program, completed when the state consumed more than 300 litres a day per individual, have proven wildly inaccurate.

The latest figures show daily residential water consumption across southeast Queensland for the 14-day period ending May 9 was 151 litres per person.

With water usage well below forecasts, about $400 million is predicted to be lost by 2016-17.

The LNP is examining a plan flagged during the election campaign that involves spreading the debt repayment plan over 40 years rather than 20 years.

A plan to restructure the state's water infrastructure involving the handing back of water distribution and retailing to councils is expected to go before Cabinet soon.

The plan will also involve amalgamating the four bulk water entities into one entity to reduce the cost of supply.

The Local Government Association of Queensland says it expects the pre-election pledge to lower water costs to be honoured.



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


Monday, May 28, 2012

Elites: Stop Reproducing – You’re Ruining the Planet

Today, there are more than 7 billion people living on earth. For the global elite, that is problem number one. The vast majority of us don't spend much time thinking about global population issues, but for many among the elite it is an absolute obsession. Many of them truly believe that you are ruining their planet and they desperately want you to stop reproducing so much.

Among the elite, the belief that the world is grossly overpopulated and that this is causing most of our major global problems crosses all political, cultural and social boundaries.

This philosophy is taught as gospel at the vast majority of all colleges and universities on the planet, and it is being relentlessly pushed by the United Nations, the WHO, the World Bank and national governments all over the globe.

When most people think of "overpopulation", they think of places such as India, but the truth is that those of us living in America are considered to be the worst offenders because our lifestyles are "polluting" the planet so rapidly. In fact, one scientist recently estimated that a child born in the United States has a "carbon legacy" 55 times greater than a child born in India.

The elite are convinced that if they can reduce the global population far enough and get the remaining people living on earth to switch over to "sustainable lifestyles" that they will be able to save "their" planet. But the draconian measures that would be necessary to achieve this dystopian dream would not be very palatable to the vast majority of us. In fact, if the most radical population control advocates get their way, we will experience global tyranny on a scale never seen before.

Right now, most of us living in the western world are not prepared to accept "forced" population control measures and the global elite know this. But the truth is that they absolutely love what is going on right now in places such as China.

In China today, a one child policy is strictly enforced, and women are literally pulled from their homes and taken to abortion clinics when they are found to be in violation. The following example comes from a recent CNN article
When Ji Yeqing awakened, she was already in the recovery room. Chinese authorities had dragged her out of her home and down four flights of stairs, she said, restraining and beating her husband as he tried to come to her aid.

They whisked her into a clinic, held her down on a bed and forced her to undergo an abortion. Her offense? Becoming pregnant with a second child, in violation of China's one-child policy.

So does the international community condemn China for such actions? No, in fact the United Nations gives China awards for their population reduction policies.

In the western world, there are also great efforts underway to reduce family sizes and to get women to choose not to have children. But these efforts are always "voluntary". We are told that if women are "empowered" that they will always choose to have fewer children.

But many radical environmentalists are openly complaining that these voluntary methods are not getting the job done fast enough.
For example, the following is from a recent article by Julia Whitty for Mother Jones
The only known solution to ecological overshoot is to decelerate our population growth faster than it's decelerating now and eventually reverse it-at the same time we slow and eventually reverse the rate at which we consume the planet's resources.

Success in these twin endeavors will crack our most pressing global issues: climate change, food scarcity, water supplies, immigration, health care, biodiversity loss, even war.

On one front, we've already made unprecedented strides, reducing global fertility from an average 4.92 children per woman in 1950 to 2.56 today-an accomplishment of trial and sometimes brutally coercive error, but also a result of one woman at a time making her individual choices. The speed of this childbearing revolution, swimming hard against biological programming, rates as perhaps our greatest collective feat to date.

But it's not enough. And it's still not fast enough. Faced with a world that can support either a lot of us consuming a lot less or far fewer of us consuming more, we're deadlocked: individuals, governments, the media, scientists, environmentalists, economists, human rights workers, liberals, conservatives, business and religious leaders.

For radicals such as Whitty, things are never moving fast enough. They truly believe that humanity is destroying the planet and that they are literally attempting to "save the world" by pushing for global population control.

But this kind of thinking is not just reflected in the writings of a few radicals. The truth is that "scientific reports" advocating global population control are regularly featured in the most important newspapers all over the planet. The following example comes from a recent article in the Guardian
World population needs to be stabilised quickly and high consumption in rich countries rapidly reduced to avoid "a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills", warns a major report from the Royal Society.

Contraception must be offered to all women who want it and consumption cut to reduce inequality, says the study published on Thursday, which was chaired by Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston.

The assessment of humanity's prospects in the next 100 years, which has taken 21 months to complete, argues strongly that to achieve long and healthy lives for all 9 billion people expected to be living in 2050, the twin issues of population and consumption must be pushed to the top of political and economic agendas.

When was the last time that you saw an article that was 100% opposed to global population control featured in an important newspaper?

Sadly, this population control agenda has a complete stranglehold on the scientific community. The philosophy that the earth is massively overpopulated and that this overpopulation is causing most of our biggest problems is considered to be gospel at most of our colleges and universities today. If you question this orthodoxy, you risk being academically blackballed.

Not only that, but the scientific community considers the biggest offenders of all to be Americans because of our "excessive" lifestyles. For example, just check out what statistician Paul Murtaugh of Oregon State University said a while back
"Using United Nations projections of fertility, and projecting statistically through the lifespan of the mother's line-some lineages being short-lived, others indefinitely long-an American child born today adds an average 10,407 tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of her mother. That's almost six times more CO2 than the mother's own lifetime emissions.

Furthermore, the ecological costs of that child and her children far outweigh even the combined energy-saving choices from all a mother's other good decisions, like buying a fuel-efficient car, recycling, using energy-saving appliances and lightbulbs. The carbon legacy of one American child and her offspring is 20 times greater than all those other sustainable maternal choices combined."

Murtaugh also believes that a child born in the United States has a "carbon legacy" that is 55 times greater than that of a child born in India.

This helps to explain why the elite are so obsessed with abortion and "family planning". The elite are desperate to convince you to stop reproducing. They truly believe that they are helping to "save the world" when they convince us to have less children.

In fact, the amount of money that is being spent to promote "family planning" around the globe is absolutely staggering. For example, according to a recent MarketWatch article Bill and Melinda Gates plan to spend 4 billion dollars to get contraceptive devices into the hands of 120 million more women by the year 2020.
Melinda Gates recently announced a "new crusade" for her $32 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A recent Newsweek interview with Michelle Goldberg says it's a "decision that is likely to change lives all over the planet."

Gates has "decided to make family planning her signature issue," by investing "billions to revolutionize contraception worldwide," with substantial economic consequences.

The Gates decision will "be hugely significant for American women." She's "pouring money into the long-neglected field of contraceptive research, seeking entirely new methods of birth control," a "whole new class of drugs," some that could even work without hormones, and others, might be implantable devises that never need to be removed, can even be turned on and off by the woman.

While Bill and Melinda Gates portray their population control efforts as "humanitarian endeavors", others among the global elite are more open about what they consider the "endgame" to be.
The following examples are from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson
- Finnish environmentalist guru Pentti Linkola, publicly called for climate change deniers be "re-educated" in eco-gulags and that the vast majority of humans be killed with the rest enslaved and controlled by a green police state, with people forcibly sterilized, cars confiscated and travel restricted to members of the elite.

- Another Finnish environmentalist writer, Martin Kreiggeist, hails Linkola's call for eco-gulags and oppression as "a solution," calling for people to "take up the axes" in pursuit of killing off the third world. Kreiggeist wants fellow eco-fascists to "act on" Linkola's call for mass murder in order to solve overpopulation.

- In 2010, James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia hypothesis, told the Guardian that "democracy must be put on hold" to combat global warming and that "a few people with authority" should be allowed to run the planet because people were too stupid to be allowed to steer their own destinies.

There are a surprising number of people out there that actually advocate for mass murder and mass enslavement for the good of the planet. Dave Foreman, the co-founder of Earth First, once stated that reducing the global population to 100 million people is one of his three main goals
"My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it's full complement of species, returning throughout the world."

Sadly, this philosophy has even infected the U.S. government. The truth is that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been spent to promote population control around the globe, and it hasn't mattered much whether Republicans or Democrats were in the White House. The following is an excerpt from an article entitled "The Population Control Holocaust" by Robert Zubrin.
Of the billions of taxpayer dollars that the U.S. government has expended on population control abroad, a portion has been directly spent by USAID on its own field activities, but the majority has been laundered through a variety of international agencies. As a result of this indirect funding scheme, all attempts to compel the population control empire to conform its activities to accepted medical, ethical, safety, or human rights norms have proven futile.

Rather, in direct defiance of laws enacted by Congress to try to correct the situation, what has and continues to be perpetrated at public expense is an atrocity on a scale so vast and varied as to almost defy description. Nevertheless, it is worth attempting to convey to readers some sense of the evil that is being done with their money.

If you have not read the rest of that article yet, you really should. You can find the rest of that article right here.

At this point, nearly every major international organization is involved in these population control efforts to at least some degree. For example, a recent article by Jurriaan Maessen detailed how the World Bank is actually using "financial assistance" as leverage to get developing nations to conform to the global population control agenda

According to two subsequent documents put out by the World Bank, its guidelines dictate that in order to qualify for World Bank lending, sovereign nations must implement population reduction objectives as outlined by the World Bank and UN Population Fund. If they refuse, lending will be withdrawn.

Already pre-tested and implemented in Yemen and Niger, these guidelines are destined for global implementation within the next decade, says the World Bank.

Isn't that sick?

Later in that same article, Maessen discusses how the UN, the WHO, the World Bank and many other international organizations all work together to move this twisted agenda forward
Returning to the essence, the intention and the strategy leave little for the imagination: a global consensus is in place between all the major transnational institutions and banks: the earth's population must be brought down, with all means necessary. The World Bank uses financial tools to bring nations on their knees, demanding they cull their numbers; the UN guarantees the political legitimizing for these depopulation policies (Agenda 21); the Foundations develop the anti-fertility vaccines and GM Food, the World Health Organization takes care of the "health-standards" and distribution. With the help of this global construct, carefully coordinated from the top-down, the scientific dictatorship has circled the wagons around all of free humanity.

Sadly, there is so much more that could be said about all of this. If you are interested in learning more about the disgusting population control agenda of the global elite, the following are 10 more articles I would recommend checking out


More fraud: Sea-level rises are due to global "adjustments"

Frank Lansner’s first graph surprised me. It’s well known and often quoted that sea levels have been rising by 2-3mm a year every year for the last 20 years. But it’s not well known that the original raw satellite data doesn’t show that at all.

Fig 1 The data for recent years has gone through significant changes. In Morner 2004 the raw satellite data for sea level rise was shown with the original slope (the grey line with dots named “Topex/Poseidon as of 2001” above).

What astonished me was the sea levels first recorded by the Topex Poseidon satellite array showed virtually no rise at all from 1993-2001. Surely not, I thought. I asked sea-level expert Nils Axel-Morner, and he confirmed: “Yes, it is as bad as that.“ Now, given that Envisat (the European satellite) showed no rise from 2003-2011 (until it was adjusted) that means we have almost 20 years of raw satellite data showing very little rise.

We thought satellites would finally give us a definitive answer on sea levels. Instead, like the tide gauges, and every other tool available to mankind, apparently satellites systematically underestimate the rising trends. And despite the speed of light being quite quick and all, it can take years for the data to finally arrive. Sometimes 4 or 5 (or 10 years) after the measurement was made scientists “discover” that it was wrong.

Now of course, any one of these adjustments could be for very legitimate reasons and give us results closer to the truth. But the adjustments always bring data closer to the modeled trend. It’s decidedly non-random. Either there is a God who thinks teasing climate scientists is spiffy, or else there is something fishy going on, and some investigative journalists need to ask some investigative questions. Is that sea-level rise due to global warming or is it due to global adjustments?

Much more HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

America’s Real Climate and Environmental Crisis

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says we face serious threats to human health, welfare and justice. She’s absolutely right. However, the crisis is not due to factory or power plant emissions, or supposed effects of “dangerous manmade global warming.”

The crisis is the result of policies and regulations that her EPA is imposing in the name of preventing climate change and other hypothetical and exaggerated environmental problems. It is those government actions that are severely impacting Americans’ health, welfare, and pursuit of happiness and justice.

After Congress rejected cap-tax-and-trade, President Obama said there are “other ways to skin the cat.”

By hyper-regulating carbon dioxide, soot, mercury, “cross-state air pollution” from sources hundreds of miles away, and other air and water emissions, EPA intends to force numerous coal-fired power plants to shut down years before their productive life is over; block the construction of new coal-fired power plants, because none will be able to slash their carbon dioxide emissions to half of what average coal-fired plants now emit, without employing expensive (and nonexistent) CO2 capture and storage technologies; and sharply reduce emissions from cars, factories, refineries and other facilities, regardless of the cost.

EPA has also issued 588 pages of rules for hydraulic fracturing for critically needed oil and natural gas, while the Obama Administration has vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline and made 95% of all publicly owned (but government controlled) lands and resources off limits to leasing, exploration, drilling and mining.

These actions reflect President Obama’s campaign promise to “bankrupt any company that tries to build a new coal-fired power plant,” replace hydrocarbons with heavily subsidized solar, wind and biofuel energy, make energy prices “necessarily skyrocket” – and “fundamentally transform” America’s constitutional, legal, energy, economic and social structure.

Energy is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy, jobs, living standards and civil rights progress. Anything that affects energy availability, reliability and price affects every aspect of our lives. These diktats put the federal government in charge of our entire economy – and impair our health and welfare.

Moreover, the anti-hydrocarbon global warming “solutions” the Obama Administration is imposing will bring no real world benefits – even assuming carbon dioxide actually drives climate change. That’s largely because China, India and other developing countries are increasing their use of coal for electricity generation, and thus their CO2 emissions – far beyond our ability to reduce US emissions. These nations rightly refuse to sacrifice economic growth and poverty eradication on the altar of climate alarmism.

Even worse, the health, welfare and environmental justice benefits that EPA claims will result from its regulations are equally exaggerated and illusory. They exist only in the same dishonest computer-generated virtual reality that concocted its alleged climate change, health and environmental cataclysms, and in junk-science analyses that can only be described as borderline fraud.

Implementing EPA’s regulatory agenda will inflict severe economic dislocations and send shock waves through America’s factories, farmlands and families. Far from improving our health and welfare – they will make our economy, unemployment, living standards, health and welfare even worse.

EPA’s new automobile mileage standards alone will result in thousands of additional serious injuries and deaths every year, as cars are further downsized to meet its arbitrary 54.5 mpg requirements. Its anti-coal rulings and anti-fracking attitudes will severely impact electricity generation, reliability and prices; factory, office and hospital operations and budgets; American industries’ competitiveness in global markets; employment, hiring and layoffs; and the well-being of families and entire communities. Especially for areas that depend on mining and manufacturing – and the 26 states where coal-based power generation keeps electricity rates at half of what they are in states with the least coal use and toughest renewable energy mandates—it will be all pain, for no gain.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a White House letter to House Speaker John Boehner inadvertently acknowledged that EPA alone is still working on new regulations that the agency itself calculates will impose $105 billion in additional regulatory burdens and compliance costs. Win or lose in November, the Administration will likely impose these and other new rules after the elections. We, our children and grandchildren will pay for them in countless ways.

Utilities will have to spend $130 billion to retrofit or replace older coal-fired units, says energy analyst Roger Bezdek – and another $30 billion a year for operations, maintenance and extra fuel for energy-intensive scrubbers and other equipment, to generate increasingly expensive electricity.

Duke Energy’s new $3.3 billion coal gasification and carbon dioxide capture power plant will increase rates for its Indiana customers by some 15% the next two years. Hospitals, factories, shopping malls and school districts will have to pay an extra $150,000 a year in operating expenses for each million dollars in annual electricity bills. That’s four or five entry-level jobs that won’t be created or preserved.

Nationwide, 319 coal-fueled power plants totaling 42,895 megawatts (13% of the nation's coal fleet and enough for 40 million homes and small businesses) are already slated to close, the Sierra Club joyfully proclaimed. Illinois families and businesses could pay 20% more for electricity by 2014, the Chicago Tribune reports. Chicago public schools may have to find an extra $2.7 million a year to keep the lights and heat on and computers running.

Higher electricity prices will further strain refineries already struggling with soaring electricity costs and EPA’s sulfur and other regulations, restrictions on refinery upgrades and construction, constraints on moving crude oil to East Coast refineries, and other compliance costs – all of dubious environmental or health benefit. Three East Coast refineries have already closed, costing thousands of jobs and causing the Department of Energy to warn that pump prices are likely to soar even higher in Eastern states.

When we include discouraged workers who have given up looking for jobs and people who have been forced to work fewer hours or at temporary jobs, our unemployment rate is a whopping 19 percent – and double that for black and Hispanic young people. America’s labor force participation rate is at a 30-year low, its 2011 economic growth rate was a dismal 1.7 percent.

Well over a million US workers age 55 and older have now been out of work for 27 weeks or more. Not only do prospects plummet for re-employment of older workers. The longer they are unemployed, the more they are disconnected from society, the further their living standards fall, the more their physical and emotional well-being deteriorates, and the more likely they are to die prematurely.

The cumulative effect is that families have even less money to buy food, pay the rent or mortgage, repair the car or house, save for college and retirement, take a vacation – and keep people comfortable (and alive) on frigid winter nights and sweltering summer afternoons. Health and welfare, family relationships, future prospects and psychological well-being plummet. Because they spend the highest proportion of their incomes on energy, poor and minority families suffer disproportionately.

And yet EPA’s regulations, regulatory agenda and horse-blinder definition of health, welfare and justice ignore these realities – and ensure that this intolerable situation will only get worse. In fact, the only welfare EPA’s rules will ensure is the expansion of our welfare rolls, our unemployment lines and our already record-setting food stamp programs.

Worst of all, our Congress and courts have completely abdicated their obligations to provide oversight and control of this dictatorial agency and Obama Administration. If this is the hope, change and future we can look “forward” to, our nation’s health, well-being and justice will be bleak, indeed.


OMG! LA Bans Plastic

You can reuse them, you can recycle them, but if you own a store in Los Angeles, you had better not get caught with them. I’m talking about plastic bags which the LA City Council voted to ban on Wednesday.

“Handle less” bags that hold produce are exempt. Depending on the size of the store, merchants in the City of Angels have either six or twelve months to start selling reusable bags- or start providing them for free.

LA will have four Environmental Compliance Inspectors who will traverse the city enforcing the ban, which will cost $418,075 just to implement. Plastic bag scofflaws will first receive a warning, followed by a fine of $100. Should that fail to convince the storeowner, a fine of $200 will be levied. After that, retailers face a $500 fine for each day that they continue to show contempt for Mother Earth.

One great thing about plastic bags is that one can use them over and over again. I pack my lunch in them and there is nothing better for holding dirty clothes while traveling. And if I remember the propaganda correctly, plastic bags were going to be recycled into useful things like homes, bottles, and more plastic bags.

Another nifty thing about plastic bags is that people are needed to make and distribute them. According to CNS News, the American Progressive Bag Alliance employs 30,800 workers across the country, a figure that does not include those people who work in recycling centers.

But why should the environmental lobby meet the industry part-way on recycling, when it can get everything it wants handed to it in a bag? Or more appropriately without a bag?

So now Los Angeles merchants can look forward to increased costs, unannounced inspections, more government overhead, and the possibility of fines. All of which dovetail nicely with Governor Brown’s threat to hike taxes.

No wonder businesses are fleeing the Golden State for almost anywhere else. Just as long as they pack light. No telling when the plastic suitcase ban will go into effect.


Obama’s unreal world

Chairman Doc Hastings’s House Resources Committee released secret audio in which an Obama administration Interior Department official stunningly states, in connection to their rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Rule, “this is not the real world, this is rulemaking” as a justification for not considering actual “conditions on the ground.”

“This is not the real world, this is rulemaking” should be the new slogan of Obama’s Committee to Reelect the President.

The ivory-tower approach that has led this administration to engage in an all-out war on mining has born the fruit of Obama losing 40 percent of the Democratic vote to a guy in prison in West Virginia, 42 percent of the Democratic vote in Kentucky to a blank spot on the ballot, and 40 percent to a guy who scraped together the cash to pay the $3,300 filing fee in Arkansas.

Take heart, Obama lovers, the myopic, destroy-the-resource-industry green approach that caused an EPA official in Texas to resign after his almost three-year-old “crucify” enforcement policy came to light is still alive and well.

The EPA just released a predetermination on the Pebble Mine Project in Alaska that far exceeds its authority and is designed to prejudice other regulators who actually are responsible for determining the viability of the project.

Even the EPA’s report admits that it did not provide an in-depth assessment of any mining project, yet it continues on to engage in a scare campaign about the Bristol Bay watershed that looks like an Environmental Defense Fund legal brief. No facts, just rhetoric and fear.

While the “assessment” might affect the proposed Pebble Mine Project, which coincidentally is on state land that is designated for mining and has the support of the state, the real danger is the EPA effectively destroys and usurps the entire NEPA process for getting projects approved. The EPA was so anxious to weigh in before the radicals in charge are turned out in January that they did not even wait for a mining plan to be presented, or evaluate the $130 million worth of environmental assessments done by the company to ensure that any mining plan met all legitimate environmental concerns.

The real danger in the EPA assessment is that it sets the dangerous precedent that the agency can effectively submarine any and all resource development in the country based upon political pressure without regard to the science, logic or needs of our nation.

In a world where Obama talks jobs, while his administration’s regulatory regime actively seeks to destroy them, it is reasonable to expect that one of his minions would declare that reality is completely disconnected from rulemaking.

Because in Obama’s world, it seems that the only thing that matters is the destruction of America’s private-sector natural resources production — consequences be damned. After all, consequences are real, and Obama’s regulators just don’t need to be bothered with them.


Studies indicate minimal health risks from radiation in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear disaster

Around 170 of Fukushima’s workers have a slightly elevated risk of cancer due to their radiation exposure, says "Nature" magazine below

Few people will develop cancer as a consequence of being exposed to the radioactive material that spewed from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last year — and those who do will never know for sure what caused their disease. These conclusions are based on two comprehensive, independent assessments of the radiation doses received by Japanese citizens, as well as by the thousands of workers who battled to bring the shattered nuclear reactors under control.

The first report, seen exclusively by Nature, was produced by a subcommittee of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) in Vienna, and covers a wide swathe of issues related to all aspects of the accident. The second, a draft of which has been seen by Nature, comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, and estimates doses received by the general public in the first year after the accident. Both reports will be discussed at UNSCEAR’s annual meeting in Vienna this week.

The UNSCEAR committee’s analyses show that 167 workers at the plant received radiation doses that slightly raise their risk of developing cancer. The general public was largely protected by being promptly evacuated, although the WHO report does find that some civilians’ exposure exceeded the government’s guidelines. “If there’s a health risk, it’s with the highly exposed workers,” says Wolfgang Weiss, the chair of UNSCEAR. Even for these workers, future cancers may never be directly tied to the accident, owing to the small number of people involved and the high background rates of cancer in developed countries such as Japan.

Scientists involved in producing the UNSCEAR report hope that their independent summary of the best available data could help to dispel some of the fear about fallout that has grown over the past year (see Nature 483, 138–140; 2012). As well as providing a preliminary assessment of workers’ exposure, the UNSCEAR report concludes that the Japanese government’s estimate of the radiation released was correct to within a factor of ten, and that further study is needed to fully understand the impacts of the accident on plants, animals and marine life near the power station. When a final version of the report is approved by the full UNSCEAR committee next year, it should provide a useful baseline for future studies.

The Fukushima crisis began on 11 March 2011, when a magnitude-9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami off the coast of Japan. A 14-metre wave flooded four of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, knocking out emergency cooling systems and leading to meltdowns and explosions that released radioactivity into the air and ocean. In the year since the accident, the plant has been stabilized, and radioactive emissions have largely stopped.

From last autumn, UNSCEAR has been reviewing all the available data on Fukushima’s radiation — just as it did to produce what was then the definitive report on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. In particular, it scoured anonymized medical data for 20,115 workers and contractors employed by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant. It found that 146 employees and 21 contractors received a dose of more than 100 millisieverts (mSv), the level at which there is an acknowledged slight increase in cancer risk. Six workers received more than the 250 mSv allowed by Japanese law for front-line emergency workers, and two operators in the control rooms for reactor units 3 and 4 received doses above 600 mSv, because they had not taken potassium iodide tablets to help prevent their bodies from absorbing radio­active iodine-131 (see ‘In the zone’). So far, neither operator seems to have suffered ill effects as a result of their exposure.

Most of the workers who received high doses were exposed in the early days of the crisis. In those first hours, they were huddled in darkened control rooms, while small teams made forays inside the reactor buildings to survey the damage and manually operate valves and other equipment. Often, they did not know how much radiation was present — the report says that an automated system designed to monitor their radiation levels was not operating properly. By mid-April, basic access control and monitoring had been restored on the site.

Experts agree that there is unlikely to be a detectable rise in thyroid cancer or leukaemia, the two cancers most likely to result from the accident. “There may be some increase in cancer risk that may not be detectable statistically,” says Kiyohiko Mabuchi, who heads Chernobyl studies at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland. In Chernobyl, where clean-up workers were exposed to much higher doses, 0.1% of the 110,000 workers surveyed have so far developed leukaemia, although not all of those cases resulted from the accident.

The risk to the roughly 140,000 civilians who had been living within a few tens of kilometres of the plant seems even lower. Because detailed radiation measurements were un­available at the time of the accident, the WHO estimated doses to the public, including radiation exposure from inhalation, ingestion and fallout. The agency concludes that most residents of Fukushima and neighbouring Japanese prefectures received a dose below 10 mSv. Residents of Namie town and Iitate village, two areas that were not evacuated until months after the accident, received 10–50 mSv. The government aims to keep public exposure from the accident below 20mSv per year, but in the longer term it wants to decontaminate the region so that residents will receive no more than 1mSv per year from the accident.

The WHO’s calculations are consistent with several health surveys conducted by Japanese scientists, which found civilian doses at or below the 1–15-mSv range, even among people living near the plant. One worrying exception is that infants in Namie town may have been exposed to enough iodine-131 to receive an estimated thyroid dose of 100–200mSv, raising their risk of thyroid cancer. But data collected from 1,080 children in the region found that none had received a thyroid dose greater than 50mSv. Chernobyl’s main cancer legacy in children was thyroid cancer.

Fearful and angry

The large population involved could mean that the eventual number of radiation-induced cancers among the public will actually be higher than among workers, even though the risk to each individual civilian is tiny, says David Brenner, a radiologist at Columbia University in New York city. But he doubts a direct link will ever be definitively made. Under normal circumstances, “40% of everybody will get cancer”, he says. “It doesn’t seem to me that it’s possible to do an epidemiological study that will see an increased risk.” Still, it may be valuable to conduct studies to reassure the population that they are not being misled, he adds.

A far greater health risk may come from the psychological stress created by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. After Chernobyl, evacuees were more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the population as a whole, according to Evelyn Bromet, a psychiatric epidemiologist at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. The risk may be even greater at Fukushima. “I’ve never seen PTSD questionnaires like this,” she says of a survey being conducted by Fukushima Medical University. People are “utterly fearful and deeply angry. There’s nobody that they trust any more for information.”

Overall, the reports do lend credibility to the Japanese government’s actions immediately after the accident. Shunichi Yamashita, a researcher at Fukushima Medical University who is heading one local health survey, hopes that the findings will help to reduce stress among victims of the accident. But they may not be enough to rebuild trust between the government and local residents. Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the radioisotope centre at the University of Tokyo and an outspoken critic of the government, questions the reports’ value. “I think international organizations should stop making hasty reports based on very short visits to Japan that don’t allow them to see what is happening locally,” he says.

UNSCEAR’s working committee of roughly 70 scientists still has much to do before the final report is completed. Committee members will continue to independently validate sources of data from the accident and work on models of the flow of radio­isotopes from the reactors into the environment. For the workers, “individual medical follow-up is more important than the statistical follow-up”, Weiss says. “People want to know whether what we say is true.”



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