Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scientists reject Sandy/Climate Link -- Round Up of Hurricane Sandy Reactions

'The 'new normal' for climate activists is their ever shifting claims as they morph the entire AGW argument to focus on extreme weather. They are exploiting any weather event to promote their religion-like cause

NOAA's Martin Hoerling rejects 'Frankenstorm' climate link: 'This is not some spell conjured upon us by great external forces....unless you believe in the monster flicks of Universal Studios fame!' -- Meteorologist Hoerling of NOAA: 'The immediate cause is most likely little more than the coincidental alignment of a tropical storm with an extratropical storm. Both frequent W. Atlantic in Oct....nothing unusual with that'

Frankenscience: 'Sandy doesn't tell us anything about climate change' -- Prof. Pielke Jr.: 'We've done long-term trends with respect to hurricane damage in the United States, and it's very safe to say that regardless of how [Sandy] plays out, there's a century-long time series with no trend in it — and that's in damage, the number of landfalls, or the intensity of storms at landfall. So, if you are looking for signals of long-term climate change, focusing in on any one storm is the wrong way to go about it to begin with'

Sandy caused by global warming? 'The science of climate change & hurricanes does not support this conclusion' -- It's 'just not supported by science at this time' -- Houston Chronicle's Science guy Eric Berger: ' is a big stretch to go from there to blaming Sandy on climate change. It's a stretch that is just not supported by science at this time'

Climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels on Sandy: 'It's also consistent with a planet with colder temperatures as well as one with warmer ones' -- Michaels: 'More important, events like this are inevitable on a planet that has an ocean with the geography of the Atlantic (meaning a Gulf Stream-like feature), a large north-south continent on its western margin without a transverse mountain range to inhibit the merger of tropical warmth with polar cold, and four seasons in the temperate latitudes'

German Meteorological Expert Says: 'No Evidence Showing Link Between Storms And Global Warming' -- Meteorologist Dr. Karsten Brandt: 'Brandt said that by looking back at the global data available over the last decades, there's 'no indication or evidence showing there's been an increase in storm activity. The data don't show it.' He added: 'Luckily we don't need to worry much about increasing storms in the future'

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr.: 'Remarkably, the U.S. is currently experiencing the longest-ever recorded period with no strikes of a Category 3 or stronger hurricane'

Hurricane Expert Chris Landsea: Any connection between AGW & hurricanes is 'almost certainly undetectable' -- '...and that this view is not particularly controversial among tropical cyclone climatologists. He concluded that hurricanes should not be the 'poster' representing a human influence on climate...Chris responded that asserting such a connection can be easily shown to be incorrect and thus risks some of the trust that the public has in scientists to play things straight'

Prof. Judith Curry on Sandy: 'Kevin Trenberth frequently says that global warming is affecting all of weather' -- Curry: 'Trenberth s probably right, but apart from the relative magnitude of the effect, this begs the question as to whether the effect is good or bad; arguably in terms of Atlantic hurricanes, the warming is resulting in FEWER U.S. landfalls'

More HERE  (See the original for links)

Shale rescues America while Europe sucks its thumb

The wonders of US shale gas continue to amaze. We receive fresh evidence by the day that swathes of American industry have acquired a massive and lasting advantage in energy costs over global rivals, demolishing assumptions about US economic decline.

Royal Dutch Shell is planning an ethane plant in the once-decaying steel valley of Beaver County, near Pittsburg. Dow Chemical is shutting operations in Belgium, Holland, Spain, the UK, and Japan, but pouring money into a propylene venture in Texas where natural gas prices are a fraction of world levels and likely to remain so for the life-cycle of Dow's investments.

Some fifty new projects have been unveiled in the US petrochemical industry. A $30bn investment blitz in underway in ethelyne and fetilizer plants alone.

A study by the American Chemistry Council said the shale gas bonanza has reversed the fortunes of the chemical, plastics, aluminium, iron and steel, rubber, coated metals, and glass industries. "This was virtually unthinkable five years ago," said the body’s president, Cal Dooley.

This is happening just as other clusters of manufacturing - machinery, electrical products, transport equipment, furniture, etc - are "re-shoring" back from from China to the US. A 16pc annual rise in Chinese wages over the last decade has changed the game. PricewaterhouseCoopers calls it the "Homecoming".

The revival of the chemical industry is a spin-off from the greater drama of America’s energy rebound, though a very big one. As many readers will have seen, the US energy department said last week that the country will produce 11.4m barrels a day (b/d) of oil, biofuels, and liquid hydrocarbons next year, almost as much as Saudi Arabia.

America looks poised to become the world’s biggest producer in 2014. It will approach the Holy Grail of "energy independence" before the end of the decade.

This is largely due to hydraulic fracturing - blasting rock with water jets - to extract shale gas and oil, though solar power and onshore wind are playing their part.

Europe is going in the opposite direction, drifting towards energy suicide. So is Japan as it shuts down its nuclear industry after the Fukushima disaster. China is more hard-headed, as it needs to be. The country is adding 20m cars a year. Chinese oil imports are rising by an extra 0.5m b/d annually.

As of last week, US natural gas prices were roughly one third of European levels. The German chemicals group BASF said it had become impossible to match the US on production costs.

Asia is facing an even greater handicap as Japan soaks up supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to offset the closure of its nuclear power stations. Prices on the Pacific rim are near $15 per million British thermal units (BTU), compared to $3 in the US.

The US cost of ethane - the raw material for polymers and much of what we use - has collapsed by 70pc since 2008. It is why Exxon and Westlake Chemical are building new ethane plants in America, while loss-making Mitsubishi is closing its unit in Japan, and Mitsui may follow soon. Credit Suisse said ethane production is barely viable in Japan, Korea or Taiwan.

The gas differential with Europe and Asia will narrow gradually over time but there is no genuine global market for gas. Prices are local, dictated by pipelines. In Europe’s case they are dictated by Vladimir Putin’s Gazprom. Germany imports 36pc of its gas from Russia. Dependency rises to 48pc for Poland, 60pc for Hungary, 98pc for Slovakia, and 100pc for the Baltics.

While LNG helps plug shortages, it requires shipping at minus 116 degrees and at great expense in molybdenum alloy hulls. It then needs an elaborate infrastructure at the docking port.

Shale has made the US self-sufficient in gas almost overnight. The new twist of course is shale oil. Output has jumped to 2m b/d from almost nothing eight years ago. The Bakken field in North Dakota is twice as big as the conventional Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska.

America produced 81pc of its total energy needs in the first six months of this year, the highest since 1991. Citigroup thinks US ouput of crude and eqivalents will top 15.6m b/d by 2020, adding up to 3.6m jobs through multiplier effects. North America as a whole will reach 27m b/d - with Canada’s oil sands and Mexico’s deepwater fields - making the region a "new Middle East".

The implications are momentous. America will no longer need a single drop of oil from the Islamic world. The strategic burden will fall on Europe, which is meekly disarming itself to meet Wolfgang Schauble's austerity targets. Russia and China will be pleased to help.

What is staggering is the near total failure of Europe’s leaders to face up to this new world order, or to prepare for their energy crunch ahead. They have spent the last decade wrangling over treaties that nobody wants, endlessly tinkering with institutional structures, and ultimately holding 22 summits to "save" EMU, largely oblivious to the bigger danger ahead.

Germany is to shut down its nuclear plants by 2022, reluctant to admit that this can be replaced only by coal - and even then with great difficulty. It is opting instead for the romantic quest of a politically-correct grid. The goal is to raise the share of renewables from 20pc to 35pc by 2020 at a cost of €200bn, and then to green supremacy by mid-decade for another €600bn.

Germany seems to think it can power Europe’s foremost industrial machine from off-shore wind in the Baltic, without the high-voltage wires running from North to South yet built or on track to be built. "It is a religion, not a policy," said one German official privately, warning that his country is already "very near blackouts". He fears an almighty national disaster.

"There is huge fear about the energy switch," said Volker Treier from the German Chambers of Industry. "We have no realistic plan to replace nuclear power. Electricity costs are already very high. Everybody is complaining about this."

The risk is that Germany will hit its aging crunch later this decade with no viable power system in place, having discovered that the contingent liabilities of EMU rescues are real liabilities - and bigger than German citizens were led to believe. You could scarcely devise a more certain way to ruin a nation. My sympathies to German friends watching this unfold with horror.

France has shale but has imposed a drilling moratorium It will shut down a nuclear plant for good measure to appease the Greens. Italy has banned nuclear power, yet has little else.

Britain has been sauntering slowly towards a debacle for nearly fifteen years. Eight coal plants are to close by 2015 as they burn up their EU carbon allowances. Much of the UK’s nuclear industry is on its last legs. No new plant has yet been commissioned.

What we have is a very big gamble on off-shore wind, a very long way from where most people live. It will supposedly supply 17pc of UK electricity by 2020, equal to all other off-shore wind projects in the world combined. Let us pray that it works.

As the years recede from the credit crash of 2008, it is becoming clearer that America suffered less damage than supposed. The Great Recession was certainly a shock. The debt-load is frightening, but the US can at least hope to outgrow that debt.

What is remarkable is that Euroland is not cutting its combined public and private sector debt any faster than the US - as a share of GDP - by asphyxiating its economy. It is doing so more slowly. That is the difference between growth and recession.

They look only at public debt in Euroland, fixated myopically on one variable, ignoring the lessons of balance sheet recessions. Such is policy architecture of Europe.

Four years on we can seen that the epicentre of destruction has in reality been right here in the Old World. We may look back and realize that the last decade - the Merkel decade, the EMU distraction decade, and in its way the Brown decade - was the turning point when Europe finally lost its global footing.


Ground Breaking Paper Refutes the Greenhouse Gas Theory

International team of researchers confirms peer-reviewed new paper refutes the greenhouse gas theory, the cornerstone of science that claims human emissions of carbon dioxide dangerously warms the Earth. Principia Scientific International (PSI) today issues a press release for Joseph E. Postma’s astonishing game-changing publication  ‘A Discussion on the Absence of a Measurable Greenhouse Effect.’

PSI are adamant that what they have here compellingly debunks what a generation of government climatologists  incorrectly assumed i.e. that the flow of radiation in Earth’s atmosphere is indicative of the flow of heat. They endorse Postma’s findings and confirm that the issue was never really about whether radiation moves freely about in the atmosphere (it does), the  big question should have been whether once it has arrived at the surface: does it get more than one go at generating heat (i.e. “back radiation” heating)?

Along with other critical debunks beside this one, Postma and his colleagues say “no” because a) no such phenomenon as “back radiation heating” is cited in any thermodynamics textbooks and b) nor has any such effect been measured empirically. As the debate has raged in the blogosphere believers in the GHE were shown to be incapable of determining whether  to support the “back radiation” heating or the “delayed cooling” (i.e. “blanket effect”) argument for the GHE. But as Postma’s paper proves,  each of the ideas is a contradiction in terms and may separately be shown to not have any empirically proven basis. The Laws of Thermodynamics probably play a part in this.

Texan engineer, Joe Olson, speaking on behalf of his colleagues said this morning, “This paper has been assessed by a multi-disciplinary group of dedicated and trusted colleagues, we see there is so much original material here to establish a watershed.”   Climatologist Dr. Tim Ball is among those who assisted in developing the paper. Like the other 120 members of PSI (known in the blogosphere as the ‘Slayers’) Ball accepts that his and his colleagues’ credibility are at stake. Nonetheless, Ball and co. are adamant that if Postma’s findings are widely confirmed then future climate researchers may well be discussing the science in terms of “pre-Postma” and “post-Postma” analysis.

Hans Schreuder, who along with Alan Siddons, provided the core science upon which Postma’s paper was built, has laid down a bold challenge to the critics, “If they can demonstrate we are cranks then all power to them.”

Below is Postma’s summary as it appears on Page 54 of his paper:


The surface of albedo is not the ground surface, and so it never was correct to associate the radiative temperature of -180C with the ground surface in the first place when devising GHE equations, since the albedo is what determines the equilibrium temperature and the albedo is not found with the physical surface.


Even as the climate models show, an increase in cloud height causes an increase in temperature at the surface. This is not due to a backradiation GHE but due to the lapse rate of the atmosphere combined with the average surface of equilibrium being risen further off of the surface.


A real greenhouse doesn’t become heated by internal backradiation in any case, but from trapped warm air which is heated by contact with the internal surfaces heated by sunlight, and then physically prevented by a rigid barrier from convecting and cooling. The open atmosphere doesn’t do what a greenhouse doesn’t do in the first place, and the open atmosphere does not function as a rigid barrier either.


The heat flow ordinary differential equation of energy conservation is a fundamental equation of physics. It combines the fundamental mechanics of heat flow together with the most venerated law of science, conservation of energy. This equation predicts what should be observable if backradiation or heat-trapping is introduced to the equation, in accordance with the main idea of the atmospheric GHE, that a higher temperature than the insolation will be achieved. A higher-than-insolation temperature is not achieved in experimental data, and we make it clear how one could test the postulate with even more surety by using the “Bristol Board Experiment”.


An important factor for why the introduction of backradiation into the equation fails to match the real world is because radiation cannot actually increase its own Wien-peak frequency and its own spectral temperature signature; radiation cannot heat up its own source. The Laws of Thermodynamics are real and universal.


The rate of cooling at the surface is enhanced, rather than retarded, relative to the entire atmospheric column, by a factor of 10. Therefore, backradiation doesn’t seem to slow down the rate of cooling at the surface at all. Backradiation neither causes active heating, nor slowed cooling, at the surface. (Given Claes Johnson’s description of radiative heat transfer, radiation from a colder ambient radiative environment should slow down the rate of cooling, and we agree with that. What we didn’t agree with was that “slowed cooling” equated to “higher temperature” because that is obviously sophistic logic. And now in any case, it is apparent that sensible heat transfer from atmospheric contact at the surface dominates the radiative component process anyway, leading to ten times the rate of cooling at the surface relative to the rest of the column.)


Given the amount of latent heat energy actually stored (i.e. trapped) within the system, and that this energy comes from the Sun, and considering the Zero-Energy-Balance (ZEB) plot, it is quite apparent that this energy gets deposited in the equatorial regions and then shed in the polar regions. This trapped latent heat prevents the system from cooling much below 00C, which keeps the global average temperature higher than it would otherwise be and thus leads to an “interpreted appearance” of a GHE caused by “GHG trapping”, when the only trapping of energy is actually only in H2O latent heat.


Subsoil readings prove that a large amount of energy is held at a significant temperature (warmer than the surface) overnight, and because this soil is warmer than the surface, and the surface is warmer than the atmosphere, then the direction of heat flow is from the subsoil to the atmosphere. And as discussed, the atmosphere seems to enhance surface cooling rather than impede it.


The heat flow equation can be modeled to show that the Sun is capable of maintaining large amounts of water under the solar zenith at about 14 degrees C. This is very close to the surface average of +150C. The Sun can maintain a liquid ocean at +140C because it takes a long time for heated water to lose its thermal energy. This is also in combination with the surface of albedo being raised off the surface where the lapse rate will maintain a near-surface average of +150C in any case.


The issue has never been about whether radiation moves freely about in the atmosphere (it does), the question is whether once it has arrived at the surface, does it get more than one go at generating heat (i.e. “back radiation” heating)? We say “no” because a) no such phenomenon as “back radiation heating” is cited in any thermodynamics textbooks and b) nor has any such effect been measured empirically. GHE believers are left not knowing whether to support the “back radiation” heating or the “delayed cooling” (i.e. “blanket effect”) argument for the GHE; this is because each is a contradiction in terms and may separately be shown to not have any empirically proven basis. The Laws of Thermodynamics probably play a part in this.


As Alan Siddon’s has explained [41], it isn’t actually clear, and there seems to be a plain logical contradiction, when we consider the role of non-GHG’s under the atmospheric GHE paradigm. If non-GHG’s such as nitrogen and oxygen don’t radiate, then, aren’t they the ones trapping the thermal energy which they sensibly pick up from the sunlight-heated surface and from GHG’s? If on the other hand they do radiate, then aren’t they also GHG’s? If a GHG radiates, and the others gasses don’t, then doesn’t that mean that GHG’s cause cooling because they provide a means for the atmosphere to shed thermal energy? If the GHE is caused by trapping heat, then aren’t all non-GHG’s contributing to the effect since they can’t radiatively shed the thermal energy they pick up? Isn’t how we think of the GHE therefore completely backwards? In any case, everything with a temperature is holding heat; the only place trapping can be thought to be occurring is in latent heat.


Meghan McCain to GOP after Sandy: Do you still doubt climate change?

Megan and her fellow believers are out of their depth.  How can a storm or anything else be a result of global warming when there has been no warming for 16 years?
Political analyst Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is challenging widespread GOP skepticism about climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“So are we still going to go with climate change not being real fellow republicans [sic]?” McCain wrote, via Twitter, around midnight as the storm was slamming ashore.

McCain’s father has advocated for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and co-sponsored cap-and-trade bills several years ago.

However, substantial numbers of Republicans now dispute widely held scientific views about global warming and the extent of humans’ contribution.

As Sandy menaced the East Coast, some climate activists and scientists used the storm to point out links between climate change and extreme weather.

Scientists urge caution about attributing specific weather events to climate change. But experts warn that warmer ocean waters, greater atmospheric moisture and other factors are fueling the intensity of storms, and that rising sea levels will make coastal impacts worse.

A number of science writers in recent days have pointed to research on Atlantic cyclones published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by the University of Copenhagen’s Aslak Grinsted.

He concludes that warm years are more active, the largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and that there’s a “statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events” over the last 90 years.


British Conservatives' Nightmare: Monster Power Bills Are A Guaranteed Vote-Loser

Consumers are having to bear the cost of big green subsidies. Rising bills are a guaranteed vote-loser, but the government is forging ahead with policies that make them unavoidable

Vincent De Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, hunched over the microphone, nervously thumbing a sheaf of papers.

“We are on the brink of delivering an infrastructure project similar in scale to the London Olympics,” he told the panel of MPs. “But like all investors in capital-intensive infrastructure projects, we need to have a compelling business case . . . We must be honest. We must expect the unit price of electricity to increase.”

It was not the first time de Rivaz had made a pitch for higher household energy bills. His appearance last week before the Commons energy and climate change committee was the latest in a long-running campaign to secure Britain’s first new nuclear plant in more than two decades.

EDF plans to spend £14 billion on two reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset. The quid pro quo demanded from the government is a guarantee that EDF will be able to charge well over double the current electricity price to ensure it makes money.

Negotiations about the final figure are in their closing stages and there could be an announcement by Christmas.

The nuclear guarantee is one of a raft of new charges being added to household bills. From carbon taxes to solar subsidies, the costs of Britain’s much-vaunted efforts to clean up the energy industry are feeding through to the customer.

It is a point the energy companies, including British Gas and Npower, were at pains to emphasise when they revealed another round of price increases this month. EDF announced a 10.8% rise last week, pushing the average annual dual-fuel bill to £1,334. Cue public outrage.

Seeking to quell the unrest, David Cameron made a rash pledge to force utilities to put households on their lowest-priced deals. John Hayes, the energy minister, quickly softened that stance.

The mixed messages are a sign of the wider conflict in Whitehall. Rising bills are a guaranteed vote-loser, but the government is forging ahead with policies that make them unavoidable.

Consider the case of British Gas. The average annual bill from Britain’s biggest utility rose by £183 between 2007 and 2011. Nearly one-third of that, £56, was a result of green taxes and related government-imposed charges. The rise in low-carbon fees represented a 60% jump — twice the rate of increase in the wholesale gas price, the biggest component of power bills.

That trend is gaining momentum. Andrew Horstead of Utilyx, the energy consultancy, said: “At the moment, about 55% of the bill is the commodity price, while the rest is green taxes and related costs. By 2020, you’ll see those percentages flip as the new charges feed through.”

The government’s controversial solar power subsidy is a good example. Greg Barker, the climate change minister, was forced into an embarrassing U-turn last year after the government was overwhelmed by interest in the feed-in tariff, which guarantees rates for electricity produced by solar panels.

Barker slashed the payout by more than 70% for large installations and by half for the smaller ones found on homes. Several solar panel producers and installers have sued the government over the cut. Even so, tens of thousands of people got in before the change took effect.

The upshot is that the government is locked in to paying hundreds of millions in solar subsidies for the next 25 years. That is the equivalent of an extra £2.19 on the £45 per megawatt hour (MWh) wholesale power price — a charge that did not exist a few years ago.

There are others. In April, the carbon price floor will kick in. This new emissions tax will require industrial plants, manufacturers and power producers to pay at least £15.70 for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. The levy will rise every year, reaching £30 by 2020.

For householders, the carbon floor will translate into an estimated £2 per MWh of electricity. By 2020, that will rise to at least £14, according to Utilyx.

Next year will also see the main subsidy for pricey renewable technologies such as wind and biomass — renewable obligation certificates — rise slightly to £8.70 per MWh.

All of the above, of course, will be added to bills on top of any additional surge in the gas price, which has risen by a third in the past two years.

The government has done its best to play down the impact. Indeed, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has predicted the measures will actually lead to savings. It argues that widespread implementation of energy efficiency measures will reduce demand and therefore bills.


Blackout Britain is back

Memories of WWII.  Now it's the Green Nazis behind it

Huge swathes of Britain are being plunged into darkness as more and more streetlights are switched off by councils and roads authorities.  Lights are being turned off on motorways and major roads, in town centres and residential streets, and on footpaths and cycle ways, as councils try to save money on energy bills and meet carbon emission targets. The switch-off begins as early as 9pm.

They are making the move despite concerns from safety campaigners and the police that it would lead to an increase in road accidents and crime.

The full extent of the blackout can be disclosed following an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph - which comes on the day that clocks moved back an hour, making it dark earlier in the evening - and found that:

*    3,080 miles of motorways and trunk roads in England are now completely unlit;

*    a further 47 miles of motorway now have no lights between midnight and 5am, including one of Britain’s busiest stretches of the M1, between Luton and Milton Keynes;

*    out of 134 councils which responded to a survey, 73% said they had switched off or dimmed some lights or were planning to;

 *   all of England’s 27 county councils have turned off or dimmed street lamps in their areas.

The vast majority of councils have chosen to turn lights off at night, at times when they say there is less need for them, while others have installed lamps which can be dimmed.

Local authorities say the moves helps reduce energy bills, at a time when energy prices are continuing to rise. Several of the big energy companies have unveiled price hikes in recent weeks, including British Gas, npower and EDF Energy - which this week said it was increasing its standard variable prices for gas and electricity customers by 10%.

Some councils expect to save hundreds of thousands of pounds by turning off lights at night or converting them to dimmer switches.

However some councils admit they may not see savings for another four or five years because of the cost of installing new lights, dimmer switches and complex control systems.

And some councils - as well as the Highways Agency, responsible for motorways and major A roads - say that the lights are being turned off to meet “green” targets to cut carbon emissions, by reducing electricity use.

Critics say that spending money to meet the targets is a poor use of public funds in a time of recession.

The increasing black-out was criticised last night by safety and motoring organisations, who said the economic and environmental benefits were being over-stated and warned that less street lighting would lead to more accidents and more crime.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “The presence of lighting not only reduces the risk of traffic accidents but also their severity. Surveys have show that the public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety and that, if anything, it needs to be improved in some areas.

“There are economic and environmental reasons why some organisations may wish to reduce the amount of lighting. However there are safety reasons why lighting needs to be available.”

Paul McClenaghan, commercial director at Halfords, said: “Poor lighting or none at all can make it very difficult for motorists to see hazards or objects clearly at night. Added to this Government figures show that road accidents increase in the week after the clocks change, so it is clear that extra vigilance is needed at this time of the year, from motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said: “We do know that most accidents happen in the dark, its also comforting for people, especially if they arrive back from somewhere in the night, when they have got a late train. There are also suggestions that it increases crime. So it may save money in terms of energy but then you have to look at the cost in terms of security, safety and accidents, it may actually be more. We have even heard that some milkmen are having more trips and falls, so it has had some implications you might not think about.

“Motorway drivers don’t like changing situations, from light to dark and dark to light, but I don’t think we would argue for no lighting at all. It is extremely comforting for drivers, especially in bad weather.”

The switch-off of motorway lights means that 70 per cent of the network is now unlit at night. Sections of the M1, M2, M27, M4, M48, M5, M54, M58, M6, M65 and M66 are now unlit from midnight.

One of the sections of the M1 is a 15-mile stretch from just north of Luton to the outskirts of Milton Keyns, one of the heaviest-used sections of any british road.

The Highways Agency said the full-switch off had saved it £400,000 last year, while reducing carbon emissions, and said it planned further blackouts.

Meanwhile 98 councils said they have switched off or dimmed lights, or planned to in the future.

In Shropshire, 12,500 - 70 per cent of the area’s lights - are now switched off between midnight and 5.30am, while Derbyshire County Council plans to turn off 40,000 lights at night. In Lincolnshire, some are turned off from as early as 9pm.

Leicestershire County Council expects to save £800,000 a year in energy bills by adapting one third of the country’s 68,000 street lights so that they can be dimmed or turned off at night.

Caerphilly in Wales no longer lights industrial estates overnight and Bradford dims 1,800 of its 58,000 street lights between 9.30pm and 5.30am.

However Worcestershire County Council postponed plans to switch off and dim lights after it found it would cost more money to implement the scheme than it would save. The authority currently pays £2 million a year to run 52,000 street lights but it found that to reduce that bill by £600,000 a year it would need to invest £3.4 million first. It is now running a trial to dim some lights before a final decision is made.

In many areas councils have received complaints from residents.

Caroline Cooney, an actress who complained to Hertfordshire County Council when the lights near her home in Bishop’s Stortford were switched off after midnight, said she faced a “black hole” when she returned home from working in the West End of London.  “My street is completely canopied by large tress and I could not see my hand in front of my face,” she said.

Mrs Cooney, who appeared in Gregory’s Girl and who has also appeared in Casualty, said it was putting people in danger and the council was effectively imposing a “midnight curfew on residents who do not want to take the risk of walking home blind”.

“When I came out of the train station it was just like a black hole,” she said.  “I simply cannot risk walking home in what is effectively pitch blackness.”

However the council told her it could not “provide tailored street lighting for each individual’s particular needs”




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


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Warmists embellish the truth

Yesterday, before heading back to the National Hurricane Center to help deal with Sandy, Chris Landsea gave a great talk here at CU on hurricanes and climate change (we'll have a video up soon). In Chris' talk he explained that he has no doubts that humans affect the climate system through the emission of greenhouse gases, and this influence may affect tropical cyclones. He then proceeded to review theory and data from recent peer-reviewed publications on the magnitude of such an influence. Chris argued that any such influence is expected to be small today, almost certainly undetectable, and that this view is not particularly controversial among tropical cyclone climatologists. He concluded that hurricanes should not be the "poster" representing a human influence on climate.

After his talk someone in the audience asked him what is wrong with making a connection between hurricanes and climate change if it gives the general public reason for concern about climate change. Chris responded that asserting such a connection can be easily shown to be incorrect and thus risks some of the trust that the public has in scientists to play things straight.

This exchange came to mind as I came across the latest exhibit in the climate science freak show, this time in the form of a lawsuit brought by Michael Mann, of Penn State, against the National Review Online and others for calling his work "intellectually bogus" and other mean things (the actual filing can be seen here). I will admit that for a moment I did smile at the idea of a professor suing a critic for lying (Hi Joe!), before my senses took back over and I rejected it as an absurd publicity stunt. But within this little tempest in a teapot is a nice example of how it is that some parts of climate science found itself off track and routinely in violation of what many people would consider basic scientific norms.

In Mann's lawsuit he characterizes himself as having been "awarded the Nobel Peace Prize." Mann's claim is what might be called an embellishment -- he has, to use the definition found at the top of this post, "made (a statement or story) more interesting or entertaining by adding extra details, esp. ones that are not true." An accurate interpretation is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did win the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and the IPCC did follow that award by sending to the AR4 authors a certificate noting their contributions to the organization. So instead of being a "Nobel Peace Prize Winner" Mann was one of 2,000 or so scientists who made a contribution to an organization which won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here we might ask, so what?

I mean really, who cares if a scientist embellishes his credentials a bit? We all know what he means by calling himself a "Nobel Peace Prize Winner," right? And really, what is an organization except for the people that make it up? Besides, climate change is important, why should we worry about such things? Doesn't this just distract from the cause of action on climate change and play right into the hands of the deniers?  Really now, is this a big deal?

Well, maybe it was not a big deal last week, but with the filing of the lawsuit, the embellishment now has potential consequences in a real-world decision process. A journalist contacted the Nobel organization and asked them if it was appropriate for Mann as an IPCC scientist to claim to be "Nobel peace prize winner." Here is what the Nobel organization said in response:
Michael Mann has never been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mann's embellishment has placed him in a situation where his claims are being countered by the Nobel organization itself. Mann's claim, rather than boosting his credibility actually risks having the opposite effect, a situation that was entirely avoidable and one which Mann brought upon himself by making the embellishment in the first place. The embellishment is only an issue because Mann has invoked it as a source of authority is a legal dispute. It would seem common sense that having such an embellishment within a complaint predicated on alleged misrepresentations may not sit well with a judge or jury.

This situation provides a nice illustration of what is wrong with a some aspects of climate science today -- a few scientists motivated by a desire to influence political debates over climate change have embellished claims, such as related to disasters, which then risks credibility when the claims are exposed as embellishments. To make matters worse, these politically motivated scientists have fallen in with fellow travelers in the media, activist organizations and in the blogosphere who are willing not only to look past such embellishments, but to amplify them and attack those who push back. These dynamics are reinforcing and have led small but vocal parts of the climate scientific community to deviate significantly from widely-held norms of scientific practice.


Science Or Propaganda from Britain's official meteorologists?

The UK Met Office display the above graph prominently on their website. It is the temperature plot, based on the long running CET (Central England Temperature series).

The message is clear. Temperatures suddenly started climbing rapidly around 1980, a classic hockey stick.

If you look closely, you will notice that the graph begins just before 1780. Yet the CET series actually began in 1659, so why did not the Met show the full graph?

I have used exactly the same data, which is available on the Met Office website here, to produce the graph below for the full period.

I have used the same temperature scale , with a six degree range. Even with this scale, there is very little sign of any hockey stick. Certainly there was a bunch of warm years around the turn of the century, but they were only slightly warmer than earlier periods, notably the 1730’s. And in recent years there has been a decline in temperature, which the running five year averages illustrate on the graph below. Indeed the average temperature over the last five years is no higher than several years during the 1730’s.

By the way, so far this year, the CET anomaly is running at 0.28, which would give an annual temperature of 9.76C. This would certainly not be unusually high by 20thC standards, and would bring the five year average down another notch. (You may just be able to make out the green line at the end of the Met graph, which represents this year).

Which brings us back to the question I posed at the start. Why did the Met not show the graph in full?

It seems to me that to produce a partial graph, which begins at an abnormally cold period, can only have been done in order to mislead.


Self-contradictory European energy policy

Governments are erasing the environmental "benefits" from expensive renewables by allowing coal use to increase

Andrew Brown, one of Shell’s most senior executives, also warned that shale gas would not have the same impact in the UK as it has in the US, where is has been heralded as a new era of cheap energy.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Brown, Shell’s upstream international director, said the UK and Europe were “missing a trick” in their policies.

“There are a lot of subsidies going towards renewables. Gas and coal are having to compete to be taken into power generation,” he said.

Because cheap gas is reducing coal demand in the US, there is “a lot of cheap coal in the marketplace”. As a result, Europe is burning more coal, while demand for gas – which emits much less CO2 than coal – is declining.

“You have this ridiculous situation where cash-strapped Europe is putting a lot of money into renewables to reduce CO2, meanwhile allowing ... the power generators to take much more coal and back out gas,” he said.

“All the benefits you’re getting from the renewable energy are being counteracted by far too much coal.”

Mr Brown said the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), designed to reduce emissions by placing a price on carbon, “doesn’t work”. “CO2 is priced at such a low level it’s meaningless,” he said. “We want a higher CO2 price. Power generators would then make the right economic decision for Europe, for gas. Renewables and gas work very well together.”

Germany is one of the most high profile cases of a country that has invested heavily in renewables to curb carbon emissions – but is now burning increasing volumes of polluting coal.

The UK has also seen an increase in coal-fired generation as the economics have become more attractive than burning gas – although many of the most polluting coal plants will be forced to close over the next three years.

Many within Government are enthusiastic about gas and believe UK shale gas will ensure cheap supplies. The Chancellor has said he is mulling shale gas tax breaks “so Britain is not left behind as gas prices tumble on the other side of the Atlantic”.

But Mr Brown cautioned: “There is potential here but it won’t change the UK gas market as has happened in America.” Shale gas could however “play an important role in helping the UK with its energy security”, he said.

The Government is expected to allow controversial “fracking” for shale gas in the UK to resume within weeks.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it agreed that “the EU Emissions Trading System needs to be strengthened” and so was pressing for Europe to adopt a 2020 emissions reductions target.

This was also why it had introduced the carbon price floor in the UK, which will push carbon costs above current ETS levels, he said.


Denmark Won’t Support wind company through Financial Hardship

The Danish government won’t provide direct support to Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) should the world’s biggest maker of wind turbines need a bailout to stay afloat.

Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas, which has been hurt by higher-than-budgeted costs to develop its V112 turbine and cuts in green energy subsidies, said in July it agreed with its banks to defer a so-called test of financial covenants, delaying loan payments after losses eroded its cash flow. The government is now saying it won’t step in to bridge any periods of financial distress at the company to prevent it going bankrupt.
Enlarge image Denmark Says Won’t Support Vestas If Turbine Maker Needs Bailout

Vestas in 2012 announced two rounds of job cuts that hit more than 3,700 employees, or a sixth of its workforce, to reduce fixed costs by more than 250 million euros ($323 million). The company is struggling to stay competitive as it faces declining demand in Europe and the U.S. Photographer: Ken James/Bloomberg

“We cannot and will not support a single company,” said Martin Lidegaard, Denmark’s Energy Minister, in an e-mailed reply to questions. “It is against the government’s general state aid policy.”

Vestas in 2012 announced two rounds of job cuts that hit more than 3,700 employees, or a sixth of its workforce, to reduce fixed costs by more than 250 million euros ($323 million). The company is struggling to stay competitive as it faces declining demand in Europe and the U.S.

The world’s largest wind turbine maker would consider selling about 500 million euros in shares to existing investors if talks on a strategic cooperation with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011) fail, said two people with knowledge of the matter last month.

Shares in Vestas sank as much as 2.5 percent to their lowest since Aug. 16, and were 2 percent down at 30.12 kroner as of 9:47 a.m. in Copenhagen. The stock has lost 51 percent this year, versus a 26 percent increase in the OMXC20 benchmark index of Danish companies.
No Discrimination

Denmark, which is also home to the wind power division of Europe’s biggest engineering company Siemens AG (SIE), has set itself a goal of becoming a hub for new developments in green energy technologies, Lidegaard said.

Still, the government won’t favor local suppliers in tenders and will base any decisions solely on competitive considerations, the minister said.

“Price will be the determining criterion,” in Denmark’s plan to tender new offshore farms with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts,” Lidegaard said. “There will be no discrimination.”
Austerity Effect

Shares in Vestas rose earlier this month after Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said tough economic conditions shouldn’t deter investment in renewable energy. Denmark plans to get half of its energy supply from wind by 2020, installing 3300 megawatts of new turbines with 1,500 MW offshore and 1,800 onshore.

Outside Denmark, austerity is weighing on subsidies for renewable energy in crisis-stricken Europe and the outlook for turbine makers is hampered by the expiration of tax breaks in the U.S. Increased supply of natural gas is also hurting demand for wind energy.


Windmills Overload East Europe’s Grid Risking Blackout

Central and Eastern European countries are moving to disconnect their power lines from Germany’s during the windiest days. That’s when they get flooded with energy, echoing struggles seen from China to Texas over accommodating the world’s 200,000 windmills.

Renewable energy around the world is causing problems because unlike oil it can’t be stored, so when generated it must be consumed or risk causing a grid collapse. At times, the glut can be so great that utilities pay consumers to take the power and get rid of it.

“Germany is aware of the problem, but there is not enough political will to solve the problem because it’s very costly,” Pavel Solc, Czech deputy minister of industry and trade, said in an interview. “So we’re forced to make one-sided defensive steps to prevent accidents and destruction.”

The power grids in the former communist countries are “stretched to their limits” and face potential blackouts when output surges from wind turbines in northern Germany or on the Baltic Sea, according to Czech grid operator CEPS. The Czechs plan to install security switches near borders by year-end to disconnect from Europe’s biggest economy to avoid critical overload.

Wind Farms

The bottleneck is one of many in the last eight years as $460 billion of wind farms were built worldwide on plains, hills and at sea before networks were fully expanded to deliver the power to consumers. Upgrading Germany’s system alone to address capacity and technical shortfalls will cost at least 32 billion euros ($42 billion), its four grid operators said in May.

Germany installed more than 8,885 megawatts of wind energy since 2007, mostly in the north. Now it’s studying how to build the power backbone to connect to the industrialized south, home to hundreds of factories such as those of chemicals manufacturer Wacker Chemie AG (WCH) and Siemens AG. (SIE) The electricity detours through the Czech Republic and Poland when German cables can’t handle the load as the countries’ grids are interconnected.

The problem may intensify with the approaching winter. With an insufficient north-south connection, Germany’s power network came close to a collapse last February when high winds in the Baltic sea flooded it with power and the Czech Republic and Poland threatened to disconnect their grids. The coming winter can be critical, German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said last week.

Aging Plants

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to shut down aging atomic plants and exit nuclear power by 2022 following last year’s reactor meltdowns in Fukushima, Japan, exacerbated the power imbalance. Germany more than ever will have to rely on power generated in the more windy north.

“We do understand that the Czech and the Polish grid operators are concerned about market and system security,” Volker Kamm, a spokesman for grid operator 50Hertz Transmission GmbH, said in a phone interview from Berlin. “We are seeking a constructive solution.”

Lack of grid connections, such as in China, or oversupply as in Texas have made wind energy’s global rollout a lumpy process. Wind farms in West Texas earlier this year were paying utilities to use their electricity on particularly gusty days because they can still earn $22 a megawatt-hour in federal tax credits.

Excess Flows

Utilities like Prague-based CEZ AS (CEZ) and Warsaw-based PGE SA (PGE) are occasionally forced to disconnect some coal-fired plants in the western parts of the Czech Republic and Poland because of excess power flowing from Germany. CEZ’s Prunerov plant is often a casualty of the unplanned flows, CEPS said.

“Measures we’re using are costly and at times not sufficient,” said Jerzy Dudzik, an executive from Poland’s grid operator PSE. PGE had to adjust generation schedules at its Dolna Odra and Turow plants, he said.

Both Poland and the Czech Republic are planning to install so-called phase-shifter transformers in the trans-border area with Germany to regulate power flows and protect their transmission networks. While the Czechs are still negotiating with Germany on other short-term solutions and pushing for a creation of smaller power-trading areas with realistic capacity allocation, they’re already counting on installing four transformers by 2017, CEPS said.

‘Free Lunch’

“The Germans are using our infrastructure in an excessive manner,” CEPS board member Zbynek Boldis said in an interview in Prague. “At this point they’re getting a free lunch.”

Germany’s eastern neighbors have also said that the common German-Austrian power market puts them at a disadvantage since they must reduce cross-border transmission capacity because of trades between the two nations and have to take costly measures to protect their grids.

Southern Germany imports power from Austria’s pumped- storage hydroelectric power stations in the Alps during peak periods, again using the Czech grid while excluding the Czechs from the benefits of trading within a single-border area.

“Traders within the Austrian-German common zone don’t need to bid for capacity in auctions even though they’re using up the capacity of its neighbors, who do have to pay,” CEPS’s Boldis said. “That’s discrimination.”

The German-Austrian common market’s physical transmission capacity doesn’t correspond with the volume of transactions between the two countries, so they end up using the Czech, Polish, Slovak and Hungarian grids, Boldis said. The four countries want Germany and Austria to redraw the power-trading map, creating smaller areas that would better reflect electricity flows.

“Electricity follows a path of least resistance in the grid, according to the laws of physics,” Boldis said. “The result is that our transmission system is overloaded, we have security threats.”


Obama’s ominous EPA Plans for 2013

The November elections will determine the direction of US climate policy—and therefore also energy policy and the pace of economic growth: jobs, standards of living, budget deficits and inflation. Obama has already promised to make climate change the centerpiece of his concern—with all that implies: “Green” energy policy, linked to loss of jobs (Keystone pipeline disapproval), rising gas prices (ethanol mandates), and crony capitalism (Solyndra).”

By contrast, Romney is a climate skeptic—and Ryan has been quite outspoken: the perfect anti-Gore. The science supports Romney-Ryan—notwithstanding the UN-IPCC, and the bulk of the climate scientists living high on the hog on government grants.

All of this emerged from campaign rhetoric—but it needs to be spelled out more clearly. Note that Obama no longer promises to “heal the Earth and stop the rise of the oceans.” He has also been uncharacteristically quiet about his efforts to “make electricity prices skyrocket.” But there is more in store if he is re-elected and unleashes the full regulatory apparatus of the EPA.

Senate report

Earlier this month, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla. ), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released a new EPW Minority Report entitled, “A Look Ahead to EPA Regulations for 2013: Numerous Obama EPA Rules Placed On Hold until after the Election Spell Doom for Jobs and Economic Growth.”

This report enumerates the slew of environmental regulations that the Obama-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has delayed or punted on before the election while President Obama is trying to earn votes; but the Obama-EPA plans to move full speed ahead to implement this agenda if President Obama wins a second term. As this report reveals, these rules taken together will inevitably result in the elimination of millions of American jobs, drive up the price of gas at the pump even more, impose construction bans on local communities, and essentially shut down American oil, natural gas, and coal production.

President Obama has spent the past year punting on a slew of job-killing EPA regulations that will destroy millions of American jobs and cause energy prices to skyrocket even more,” Senator Inhofe said. “From greenhouse gas regulations to water guidance to the tightening of the ozone standard, the Obama-EPA has delayed the implementation of rule after rule because they don’t want all those pink slips and price spikes to hit until after the election. But President Obama’s former climate czar Carol Browner was very clear about what’s in store for next year: she told several green groups not to worry because President Obama has a big green ‘to-do’ list for 2013—so they’ll get what they want. As a result, hard working Americans will lose their jobs and be subjected to skyrocketing energy prices

This report also importantly puts the spotlight back on an Obama-EPA that has, as the Washington Post said, earned a ‘reputation for abuse.’ It serves as a stark reminder that President Obama has presided over a green team administration that works every day to ‘crucify’ oil and gas companies and make sure that ‘if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem.’

Rules Delayed or “Punted” until 2013 by Obama-EPA:

Greenhouse Gas Regulations: These regulations—which President Obama himself warned would be worse than global warming cap-and-trade legislation—will be an enormous burden on the American people. These rules will cost more than $300 to $400 billion a year, and significantly raise the price of gas at the pump and energy in the home. It’s not just coal plants that will be affected: under the Clean Air Act (CAA), churches, schools, restaurants, hospitals and farms will eventually be regulated.

Thus far, EPA has issued regulations governing permit programs and monitoring requirements. Earlier this year, EPA proposed the first source-specific greenhouse gas regulations—emissions standards for new power plants. The proposal paints an ominous picture for rate payers: the requirements are so strict, they virtually eliminate coal as a fuel option for future electric power generation. In a thinly veiled political move, the agency has put off finalizing the proposal until after the election. Similarly, EPA has punted on standards for existing power plants as well as refineries—standards which will further drive up electricity and gasoline prices. Once these regulations are in place, EPA will proceed to issue regulations, industry by industry, until virtually every aspect of the American economy is constrained by strict regulatory requirements and high energy prices.

Take for example, farms: under federal permitting requirements, sources (i.e., a farm whose aggregate emissions exceed CAA permitting thresholds) would be required to comply with costly permitting mandates and pay an annual fee for each ton of greenhouse gas emitted on an annual basis. Known as the “cow tax”, there would be a cost-per-animal outcome. EPA itself estimates that in its best case scenario, there will be over 37,000 farms and ranches subject to greenhouse gas permits at an average cost of $23,000 per permit annually, affecting over 90% of the livestock production in the United States.

Ozone Rule: As the New York Times reported last year, President Obama punted on tightening the ozone standard until after the election, admitting that the “regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty” would harm jobs and the economy—but he still pointed to the fact that it will be reconsidered in 2013. EPA itself estimated that its ozone standard would cost $90 billion a year, while other studies have projected that the rule could cost upwards of a trillion dollars and destroy 7. 4 million jobs. By EPA’s own projections, it could put 650 additional counties into the category of “non-attainment,” which is the equivalent of posting a “closed for business” sign on communities. Affected counties will suffer from severe EPA-imposed restrictions on job creation and business expansion, including large numbers of plant closures. The Times concluded: “The full retreat on the smog standard was the first and most important environmental decision of the presidential campaign season that is now fully underway. An examination of that decision, based on interviews with lobbyists on both sides, former officials and policy makers at the upper reaches of the White House and the E. P. A. , illustrates the new calculus on political and policy shifts as the White House sharpens its focus on the president’s re-election.”

Hydraulic Fracturing: Today the Obama administration—through no less than fourteen federal agencies, including the EPA, the Department of Energy (DOE), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)—is currently working to find ways to regulate hydraulic fracturing at the federal level, so that they can limit and eventually stop the practice altogether.

In order to curtail hydraulic fracturing on public lands, BLM, under Secretary Salazar’s control, will be finalizing new regulations sometime after the election, which will have serious impacts on domestic energy production. According to one study, “The total aggregate cost for new permits and well workovers resulting from this rule would range from $1. 499 billion to $1. 615 billion annually. This is a conservative estimate of the delays and costs associated with the proposed rule which equates to about $253,800 per well, and $233,100 per re-fracture stimulation.”

The Obama Administration’s anti-hydraulic fracturing agenda doesn’t stop there. In the months following the election, we can expect the EPA alone to: issue guidance for the usage of diesel fuels during hydraulic fracturing, which will strip states of the primacy granted to them through the Safe Drinking Water Act; complete a study—highly criticized and unsupported by multiple state and federal agencies—desperately attempting to link hydraulic fracturing to water contamination in Pavillion, WY; answer countless petitions filed by radical environmental organizations potentially leading to the back-door regulation of hydraulic fracturing through the Toxic Substances Control Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and Clean Air Act; and potentially introduce Effluent Limitations Guidelines for both shale gas extraction and coal-bed methane.

Florida Numeric Nutrient Criteria: As the Associated Press reported, “When the Obama administration agreed to set the first-ever federal limits on runoff in Florida, environmental groups were pleased [. . . ] Nearly three years later—with a presidential election looming and Florida expected to play a critical role in the outcome—those groups are still waiting.” In 2009, EPA issued a Clean Water Act (CWA) determination that it would set federal numeric nutrient water quality standards for Florida. The proposed standards EPA unveiled in 2010 were criticized for being technologically and economically infeasible. Florida established its own nutrient criteria, and in 2011, petitioned EPA to withdraw the agency’s January 2009 determination that numeric nutrient criteria are necessary in Florida, repeal federal rulemaking completed in 2010, and refrain from proposing or promulgating any further numeric standards.

In June 2012 a Florida administrative law judge ruled that the state acted within its authority by establishing Florida-specific numeric nutrient standards for the state’s inland waters. Florida certified its standards on June 13, 2012 and submitted it to EPA for approval. EPA had 60 days from this date to approve the rule or 90 days to disapprove it. EPA has only sent back an “initial response” that gives no indication whether or not EPA will approve the Florida rule. EPA has thus far punted both on enforcing their own standards and on responding to Florida’s petition to establish their own standards.

EPA’s Water Guidance: EPA’s proposed new guidance document for waters covered by the CWA, proposed in April 2011, reinterprets recent Supreme Court decisions to allow EPA to expand federal control over virtually every body of water in the United States, no matter how small. EPA’s own analysis of the document estimated that up to 17% of current non-jurisdictional determinations would be considered jurisdictional using the new guidance. Further, the guidance applies to the entire CWA, which will result in additional regulatory responsibilities for states. This dramatic expansion has received tremendous push-back from the regulated community, states, and municipalities who do not want to have extensive new federal authorities and the costs associated with additional CWA compliance pushed through in guidance. As Inside EPA reported in the spring of 2012, the guidance looks to be delayed until after the election. This guidance, much like greenhouse gas regulations, failed to pass as legislation when Democrats enjoyed overwhelming majorities in the House and the Senate.

Storm-water Regulation: In 2009, EPA announced, as part of the Chesapeake Bay Settlement Agreement, that the agency would propose new nationwide storm-water rules by September 2010, with final action by November 2012. EPA’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking proposed to expand the universe of federally regulated storm-water; establish a first-time standard for post-construction storm-water runoff; require first-time retrofit requirements on storm-water systems—which could include mandates on cities to change existing buildings, storm-water sewers, and streets; and mandate the use of “green infrastructure” techniques (like “green roofs,” rain gardens, permeable pavement) to replace conventional stormwater management practices. All this will put enormous cost burdens on states and municipalities and on anyone who owns property or wants to develop property. If the final rule does everything EPA has proposed, it could be the most expensive rule in EPA history. According to EPA’s website, the proposal has been punted until June 2013, and the final rule is due in December 2014.

Tier III Gas Regulations: EPA is preparing to propose a rulemaking called Tier III, which reduces the content of sulfur in gasoline from 30 ppm to 10 ppm. The cost of this rule could be up to $10 billion initially and $2. 4 billion annually, and it could add up to 9 cents per gallon in manufacturing costs; these costs would inevitably be passed on to consumers at the pump. As a recent Energywire article explained, many on the far left believe that political motives caused President Obama to delay this rule until after the election.

Boiler MACT Rule: EPA’s Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) standards are so strict that not even the best-performing sources can meet them, so many companies will have no choice but to shut their doors and ship manufacturing jobs overseas. The rule has been projected to reduce US GDP by as much as 1. 2 billion dollars and will destroy nearly 800,000 jobs. Because of bipartisan Congressional opposition to the standards, the agency is now reconsidering certain aspects of the rule. In what can only be seen as another politically calculated move, the new rule is now being held by the White House, presumably until after the election. Not only is this creating uncertainty among the regulated community, it is also fueling speculation that very few changes have been made to the rule and that the White House would prefer that it not be made public until after the election.

Cement MACT Rule: EPA’s Cement MACT rule could cause 18 plants to shut down, throwing up to 80,000 people out of work. As more and more cement has to be imported from China, concrete costs for the construction of roads, bridges, and buildings that use cement could increase 22% to 36%. As with Boiler MACT, due to Congressional opposition, EPA is now reconsidering certain aspects of the rule, which will not be seen until after the election.

316(b) Cooling Towers Rule: EPA is planning to require the use of strict protections for fish in cooling reservoirs for power plants under the Clean Water Act. EPA’s own estimates put the draft rule costs between $384 million and $460 million per year and have benefits of just $17 million—a cost benefit gap of more than 22 to 1. As the Washington Guardian noted about the delay, “In its latest election-year delay of regulations, the Obama administration said Tuesday it will defer until next year acting on a Clean Water Act rule that could require expensive new construction at power plants to lower fish deaths. The postponement by the Environmental Protection Agency was not unexpected, with the agency having only recently completed a public comment period on its latest data. Still, the move to add another 11 months to the rulemaking marks the latest step by the administration to delay potentially controversial environmental rules until after the November election.”

Coal Ash: EPA’s proposed coal ash rule could cost $79 to $110 billion over 20 years, destroying 183,900 to 316,000 jobs; this will have disastrous impacts in states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Missouri. As the Charleston Gazette reported, “Despite initial tough talk on the issue, [EPA administrator Lisa] Jackson issued a regulatory proposal that did not settle on a particular strategy.” Politico also noted, “EPA is sitting on proposed regulations to declare coal ash to be a hazardous substance. . . Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the agency will issue a final coal ash rule by the end of the year, but environmentalists and coal ash recyclers aren’t convinced.”

Farm Dust Regulations: EPA has been regulating farm dust for decades and may tighten the standards as part its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for coarse particulate matter (PM10). Tightening the PM10 NAAQS would have widespread implications for rural America, as it could be below the amount of dust created during normal farming operations, and therefore be impossible to meet. If the standard is tightened, the only option for farmers to comply will be to curb every-day farm activities, which could mean cutting down on numbers of livestock or the tilling of fields, or they may have to shrink or even end their businesses altogether.

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule: EPA’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule would require farmers and ranchers to develop and implement costly oil and gasoline spill prevention plans, placing a tremendous burden on the agricultural community. The original deadline was set for November 2011, but the rule was delayed due to pressure from Congress. EPA set a new SPCC deadline of May 10, 2013.


This lengthy catalog of EPA horrors does not include schemes being hatched but not yet disclosed. Nor does it include initiatives by “junior EPAs”—such as the cap-and-trade planby CARB (Calif Air Resources Board).

Clearly, if Romney-Ryan are elected, they will have their hands full just reining in the EPA—an essential step in restoring economic growth. They will need all the help they can get from the next Congress.




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


Monday, October 29, 2012

Push for climate consensus counter-productive

Atmospheric scientist Judith Curry  and her colleagues have just had a paper accepted for publication which takes a look at claims of consensus about climate.  The conclusions are below:


The climate community has worked for more than 20 years to establish a scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.  The IPCC consensus building process arguably played a useful role in the early synthesis of the scientific knowledge and in building political will to act.

We have presented perspectives from multiple disciplines that support the inference that the scientific consensus seeking process used by the IPCC has had the unintended consequence of introducing biases into the both the science and related decision making processes.

The IPCC scientific consensus has become convoluted with consensus decision making through a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach.

The growing implications of the messy wickedness of the climate change problem are becoming increasingly apparent, highlighting the inadequacies of the ‘consensus to power’ approach for decision making on the complex issues associated with climate change.

Further, research from the field of science and technology studies are finding that manufacturing a consensus in the context of the IPCC has acted to hyper-politicize the scientific and policy debates, to the detriment of both.

Arguments are increasingly being made to abandon the scientific consensus seeking approach in favor of open debate of the arguments themselves and discussion of a broad range of policy options that stimulate local and regional solutions to the multifaceted and interrelated issues of climate change, land use, resource management, cost effective clean energy solutions, and developing technologies to expand energy access efficiently.


United Nation’s Climate Summary Elevates Political Activism Over Scientific Findings

It's a parody of science

In 2014, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its “fifth assessment” report on the influence human activity has on the environment. A “multi-stage review” of early draft versions is already underway, according to a U.N. news site. In the first stage, “scientific experts” review the draft, then “government experts get their shot. This all culminates with a “final round  of government” comments in the “Summary for Policymakers.” This is important because the Summary will be released to the news media in September of next year before anyone actually sees the final full version of the fifth assessment.

Richard Lindzen, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been sharply critical of this approach because it essentially means the U.N. is issuing a conclusion before producing the actual evidence for this conclusion. Lindzen specialized in the study of clouds and water vapor for the IPCC’s third assessment report released in 2001.

The Summary, which is typically about 20 pages long, is mostly the work of political operatives, not scientists, Lindzen has said. Moreover, the rules are such that changes and modifications can be made to the body of the report to bring in line with what government officials want in the Summary, Lindzen has explained.

“If you were doing this with a business report, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would be down your throat,” he has said.

Harvard University physicist Lubos Motl is just as blunt.

“These people are openly declaring that they are going to commit scientific misconduct that will be paid for by the United Nations,” Motl has written on his blog. “If they find an error in the Summary, they won’t fix it, instead they will adjust the technical report so it looks consistent.”

Another key player here exposing the perfidy behind the U.N.’s IPCC is Donna Lafamboise, an investigative journalist based in Ontario, Canada. She has just written a book entitled: “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert.” After probing into the IPCC over a two year period, she found that many of the lead authors were not well-credentialed  scientists and that some were closely linked with environmental pressure groups.

During a recent forum hosted by the Friends of Science in Calgary, Canada, she presented photos on screen of lead authors, who were under 30, and lacking in scientific and academic credentials.

There is Richard Klein, for example, a Greenpeace activist, who was 23 when he finished his MA in geography. Two years later, he was tapped to be a lead author for the IPCC. There is also Sari Kovats, who in 1994, was selected to work on the first IPCC chapter. But she didn’t earn her Ph.D. until 16 years after she was selected a named as one of top environmental experts by the U.N.

As part of her investigation, Laframboise also performed an audit to see if the IPCC actually relies on peer-reviewed research as its top officials have claimed. She concluded that 21 out of 44 chapters in the 2007 report drew from less than 60 percent of material that was peer reviewed.

In her book, LaFramboise also makes note of conflicts that comprise the objectivity of the IPCC. For example, Jennifer Morgan, a lead spokesperson for the World Wildlife Fund, helped craft a portion of the IPCC reports back in 2010. In fact, two-thirds of the  the fourth assessment includes at least one scientist connected with the WWF, according to the book.

Meanwhile, the run-up to the fifth assessment, actual scientific findings continue to debunk the idea the human activity is responsible for catastrophic man-made global warming. A new scientific study published in the journal “Climate of the Past” concludes that the Earth was much warmer 1,000 years ago, and that warming cycle for the late 20th Century was not unprecedented.


Hurricane Sandy's Message to America

By Alan Caruba

When Mother Nature demonstrates her extraordinary power, I always hope that people will draw a lesson from it, but they never seem to. Hurricane Sandy is just the latest example of the futility and foolishness of thinking that humans can do anything about a hurricane or similar demonstration of who is really in charge. It is the planet. Not us.

This suspension of common sense is worsened when our President goes on television, as he did last Friday on MTV, to say “I believe the scientists, who say that we are putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and it is heating the planet and it is going to have a severe effect.” This is literally junk science, long since debunked by legions of scientists who know that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with the Earth’s temperature. The planet has been in a cooling cycle since 1998.
I keep hoping, too, that lacking the vital lifeblood of our nation--electricity—millions of people sitting around in the dark will ask themselves where it comes from, what generates it, how does it get to their home, and perhaps even why its cost keeps increasing even though the U.S. sits atop enough coal and natural gas to provide affordable power for two hundred years at current consumption rates.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in March of this year electricity from coal has fallen from 50% production to less than 40% by the end of 2011. Other sources include natural gas at 26%, nuclear at 22%, hydroelectric at 7% and “other” was said to be 6%. It should be noted that oil is a transportation fuel and not used to generate electricity. I believe that the amount that solar and wind produces is more likely closer to three percent. It is unreliable and uncompetitive and requires a traditional plant as backup when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun is obscured by clouds and, of course, at night.

Not surprisingly, the environmental organizations such as Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club are already beating the drums about “climate change”, asserting “unpredictable, extreme weather.” The planet is always in a state of climate change if for no other reason that it is subject to the seasons. Blaming extreme weather on “climate change” is just a code for keeping the “global warming” hoax alive. The only reason President Obama talks about climate change is his hope that a carbon tax can be imposed to raise more money for the government to waste.

Electricity is not magic. Some form of energy must be burned to generate it and then it must be transmitted by a huge, very old grid to consumers.

In January of this year, The North American Electric Reliability Corporation warned that the reliability of the grid was in jeopardy. Thanks to the Obama administration’s (i.e. EPA) relentless attack on coal, the NERC noted that beyond the 38 gigawatts of electricity capacity that has already been announced to retire, it estimated that another 35 to 59 gigawatts will come off-line by 2018 depending on the “scope and timing” of EPA regulations. If you think the downed lines that Hurricane Sandy will produce are a problem, consider a future in which the electricity they are supposed to distribute will be significantly reduced.

What most Americans don’t know is that coal is the fuel of choice to generate electricity in many other nations of the world. Just five years ago it produced fifty percent of our electricity, but today it is less than forty percent, the lowest share since data began to be collected in 1949.  For example, China’s coal consumption grew 9.7% between 2010 and 2011. Last year China consumed 49% of the world’s coal supply. India’s coal consumption increased 9.2%

While the President blathers on MTV about CO2 emissions, my friend Dr. Jay Lehr, the Science Director of The Heartland Institute, dispatches that nonsense noting that “A simple volcanic eruption will cancel a decade of effort” to reduce emissions.

“Today,” says Dr. Lehr, “it is our government that is attempting to thwart our energy independence by blocking nearly every effort to develop our resources through completely unreasonable restrictions placed on us by the EPA and the Department of the Interior, and horrible policies of the Department of Energy which choose to throw unconscionable sums of money at renewable energy projects…”

Ultimately, while millions of Americans light candles in the dark or hope their flashlight batteries hold out, we have to ask WHY the Obama administration has waged a war on the provision of electricity.

This is a deliberate policy to weaken the nation’s capacity to function at every level and yet we are days away from an election where millions of Americans will vote to reelect Obama and send his Democratic Party minions to Congress.

It is in line with the Obama administration’s deliberate policy of reducing our military capacity on land, sea and air.

The only silver lining in the distress and disruption of Hurricane Sandy may be the awakening of voters to the critical need for more, not less, production of electricity, for improvements to the national grid, for more oil production for our transportation needs, and concurrent with this, the hundreds of thousands of jobs that such efforts would produce and billions it would generate to begin to reduce the national debt, now in excess of $16 trillion.
Long ago, the cartoon character, Pogo, famously said, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

The enemy, I would suggest, is President Barack Hussein Obama, his many shadowy, unaccountable “czars” influencing energy policies, his Cabinet Secretaries of Energy and the Interior, and the rogue Environmental Protection Agency that is set to unleash regulations that will destroy the economy, aided and abetted by the nation’s environmental organizations.

That’s Hurricane Sandy’s message to America.


Election Campaigns Prove Global Warming Crisis Skeptics Won The Climate Debate

Evidenced by public cooling towards global warming peril as a hot campaign issue, it is apparent that the Democrat party has been encountering a political climate change. The subject obviously hasn’t been viewed as a winning issue, nor has the anti-carbon “alternative energy” rationale supported by that contrived hysteria.

Nope, you’d hardly know from the presidential and V.P. debates that, as the 2012 Democrat party platform warns: “We know that climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation…an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making.” In fact, it mentions global warming 18 times, stating that: “We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution [carbon dioxide plant food] that causes climate change, and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies [i.e., plug-in cars] that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits [to favored fund-raisers and companies]. President Obama has been a leader on this issue.”

Could it be that the Democrats believe that, like defeating terrorism, their climate battle has already been won? After all, remember Barack Obama’s victory speech on the night he won the 2008 Democrat presidential primary when he said “[T]his was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal”? Well he does deserve some credit on quelling the ocean terror. Under his watch, they apparently haven’t risen at all. However, the rising debt does have the economy under water.

And just like the oceans, the climate and greenhouse pollution concerns that Dems emphasized in their platform never rose to gain much attention on their 2012 DNC podium in Charlotte either. Unlike 2008, when Al Gore blew onto the stage like a man-caused hurricane, he was nowhere in sight. Nor were the authors of their failed cap-and-trade bill, Henry Waxman or Ed Markey. The only mentions of  these “threats” were voiced in a reference  to “increasing climate volatility” in an obscure speech by Advanced Energy Economy co-founder Tom Steyer, a passing comment about “reducing greenhouse gases” in Bill Clinton’s address , and John Kerry’s statement  that “an exceptional country does care about the rise of the oceans and the future of the country.”

Even Senator Kerry seems finally to have gotten the message that that “less is more” now applies to this tiresome topic. Frustrated over what he called “the flat-Earth caucus” of global warming skeptics, he recently said: “Even amid the ‘Tuesday Group’…a bi-partisan block of lawmakers, mostly Democrats, who are interested in energy issues… you can’t talk about climate now.  People just turn off. It’s extraordinary. Only for national security and jobs will they open their minds.”

You gotta feel his pain. He and Independent Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman had worked hard to push a global climate crisis-premised 2010 carbon cap-and-trade bill, only to see its prospects for passage swept away in a Republican House cleaning. Kerry then charged that opponents to the legislation “made up their own science. They made up their own arguments. The Republicans created this idea of [carbon credit] trading because it avoided command and control by the Federal Government. Then they just decided to pick up and brand this a negative.”

He might very well be right about that negative branding, and not just only by Republicans. Egregious ClimateGate and related U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scandals have prompted many to rethink which side of the climate/energy issue “has made up their own science and arguments”.

An August 2011 Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American adults showed that 69% said it is at least “somewhat likely” that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs, including 40% who said this is “very likely”. (The number who said it’s likely is up 10 points since December 2009.)  And while Republicans and adults not affiliated with either major political party felt stronger than Democrats that some scientists have falsified data to support their global warming theories, 51% of the Democrats also agreed.

This skeptical trend is likely to continue. While no sane scientists doubt that climate changes, or that our planet has been warming, at least from the time the last Ice Age and much more recent “Little Ice Age” ended, there’s no evidence that alarm-premised economy-ravaging carbon regulation schemes are warranted. Despite elevated atmospheric CO2 levels, there actually hasn’t been any significant warming over more than one and one-half decades. Records show that global temperatures have been up and down since 1997, but are now at the same place they were at the beginning of that year.

So does this mean that they won’t rise again? No, as generally recognized, climate changes are measured in multi-decadal timescales.  Yet this routine standard didn’t inhibit Al Gore his acolytes from declaring that a previous warm period following 40 years of flat temperatures that lasted from 1980 to 1996 signaled a man-made disaster.

Perhaps there is actually little mystery as to why climate concern hasn’t been featured by Dems as a debating point. It might just be because they recognize that lots of voters are weary of witnessing many billions of tax dollars squandered on phony climate alarm-premised green subsidy fiascoes and empty promises of energy security and employment benefits.

In January 2009, President Obama pledged: “We will put Americans to work in new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced—jobs building solar panels and wind turbines.” Then, undeterred by dismal experiences here and abroad, he renewed a commitment to “double down” on this agenda in his 2012 State of the Union speech.  So just how well is that approach working so far?

Well, about 20 of those government-backed energy companies have run into financial trouble, ranging from layoffs to bankruptcies. Seventy-one percent of those Energy Department green energy grants and loans have gone to projects involving major presidential campaign money bundlers including members of his National Finance Committee, or those who contributed to the Democratic Party… donors who raised $457,000, then received taxpayer-supplied project grants or loans totaling nearly $11.35 billion.

In fact, a report issued by the Government Accountability Office, the investigatory arm of Congress, raised concerns last year about favoritism in awarding some stimulus loan guarantees. The Energy Department’s own inspector general admitted to Congress that there might be reasons for such suspicion— that some contracts may have been steered to “friends and family.” Accordingly, the Energy Department’s inspector general is launching more than 100 criminal investigations into its own green energy program awards.

Maybe it has been a smart idea for the Democrats to go a bit light on the president’s record on climate and energy achievements after all, and concentrate their message on really critical matters…like switching from subsidies for green energy to subsidies for Sesame Street and contraceptives for female law students. And hey, why not let the planet heal itself just as it always has, even before Obama took charge?

In any case, one thing appears very clear. According to the presidential campaign priorities they emphasized, Democrats no longer seem to believe that global warming is an urgent subject warranting debate.


A disaster that science brought upon itself

The jailing of scientists for failing to predict an earthquake is the sad conclusion to the scientific community’s depiction of itself as soothsayer

The jailing of six Italian scientists and a government official for failing to predict an earthquake has caused uproar in the scientific community. The men were convicted of manslaughter on the basis that they failed to give an adequate risk assessment of the 2009 earthquake in the central Italian city of L’Aquila, which killed 300 people. Outraged by the court’s verdict, the CEO of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science wrote to the president of Italy to tell him ‘there is no accepted scientific method for earthquake prediction that can be reliably used to inform citizens of an impending disaster’. The verdict is ‘perverse’ and ‘ludicrous’, says the science journal Nature.

That’s true - the verdict is perverse. It has a strong whiff of the Middle Ages about it, except instead of dunking witches for bringing about a harsh winter and destroying crops, we lock up scientists for failing to foresee a fatal earthquake. But at the same time, isn’t the verdict also the tragically logical conclusion to the scientific community’s feverish adoption in recent years of the role of soothsayer, predictor of the world’s end and proponent of solutions for how to prevent it? Over the past decade, leading scientists have repositioned themselves as modern-day diviners, particularly in the climate-change debate, where they insist that not only can they tell us what the world will look like in 50 years’ time, but also what minute changes all of us must make now if we want that future world to be different. And their predictions are treated as unchallengeable credos, as all those awkward, anti-green question-askers who have been branded ‘deniers’ will know.

In such a climate, is it really surprising that scientists who fail to predict a natural disaster, who do not fulfil the role of saviour of mankind that the science community has carved out for itself, can be demonised? If scientists play God, it’s also possible for them to be treated as the Devil.

Of course, outrage about the verdict is justified. These men should never have been arrested, never mind jailed. The trial effectively criminalised uncertainty, with the prosecution arguing that the men’s information about the earthquake was ‘generic and ineffective’ and ‘incomplete, imprecise and contradictory’. The crux of the case was that 29 of those who died in the quake had intended to leave L’Aquila, following a series of small tremors, but they were persuaded to stay by a statement given by the government official who has been jailed, Bernardo De Bernardinis. He said during the tremors period, ‘The scientific community tells me there is no danger because there is an ongoing discharge of energy’. This was incorrect - the scientists had actually told De Bernardinis that the tremors pointed to an increased risk of a quake but it was impossible to be precise about where or when such a quake might strike. This was clearly an instance of bad communication between officials and scientists, and between officials and the public, and it’s highly unfortunate that, in L’Aquila’s attempts to find someone or something to hold responsible for the devastating quake, it has all been dragged before a court and held up as something fatally sinister.

Fundamentally, the criminalisation of people for failing to predict an earthquake, and potentially lessen its impact, speaks to Western society’s discomfort with the idea of accidents or disasters, with the the idea that some things just happen and no one is responsible. Ours is an era in which we find it very hard to accept that some events have no logic behind them. And so we continually go on Medieval hunts for a malevolent force or person who might be blamed for various terrible things that occur.

Whether it’s quakes in Italy, flooding in England or tsunamis in Asia, there’s a blame game after every natural disaster. Religious believers blame sinful mankind, claiming he brought God’s violent or watery judgement upon us; environmentalists blame polluting mankind, arguing that our temerity to be industrious has upset ‘Gaia’s balance’; others blame government officials, accusing them of failing to safeguard every aspect of society from the whims of nature. In each case, the impulse to blame is a backward, pre-modern one, fuelled by a belief that some sentient, probably wicked force either caused a natural disaster or exacerbated its effects. It is not unlike when, between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, eccentric old women were branded witches and held responsible for, as one author describes it, ‘[bringing about] years of extreme hardship, in particular the type of misery related to extreme climatic events’ (1). Today, too, we seek out individuals or institutions we can blame for extreme events.

Indeed, it is worth comparing Italian officials’ response to the L’Aquila quake with the response of Enlightened thinkers to the Great Lisbon Earthquake of November 1755. That quake, which killed up to 100,000 people, became a key reference point for Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Kant. They wrote about and argued over it for years. Kant in particular challenged the idea, then a given, that quakes such as this were acts of divine providence, punishment from on high for mankind’s errors. That simply didn’t make sense in relation to Lisbon, a devout Catholic city, in which virtually every church was toppled but the notorious red-light district was left standing. Kant posited that earthquakes ‘are not supernatural events’ but rather are natural disasters, over which we have no control (2). This was a radical, and radically reasoned, reading of natural events, which challenged the idea that mankind was at the mercy of some external, watching force. Where the Lisbon quake generated heated Enlightened debate, the L’Aquila quake gave rise to a rush to apportion blame - signalling what a crisis of Enlightened thought there is today in comparison with 250 years ago.

But even as we condemn the Italian court for jailing these scientists, and Western society for failing to accept that sometimes disasters just happen, we should also ask whether the scientific community itself bears some responsibility for how these men have been treated. Because today, scientists are at the forefront of depicting natural events as being easily blameable on the behaviour of human beings. Through its fulsome and ceaseless promotion of the climate-change agenda, the global scientific community (as it has fashioned itself) continually makes a simplistic causal link between what men do now and what will befall the planet in the future - just as a link was made between the behaviour of those Italian scientists and the quake deaths that followed.

Also, the scientific community is forever depicting itself as soothsayer, as an almost all-knowing force, whose predictions of future calamity must not be challenged. When radical green activists march behind banners declaring ‘We are armed with peer-reviewed science’, and critics of the environmentalist agenda are slammed for being ‘anti-science’, you can clearly see that science has become a kind of unquestionable gospel of the future, a respectable version of what Nostradamus used to do. It isn’t only that court in L’Aquila that demonises uncertainty, lambasting those seven men for saying things that were ‘incomplete, imprecise, contradictory’; through the phrase ‘the debate is over’, the scientific community does the same thing in relation to climate change, frequently slamming those who seek to inject some healthy uncertainty about the future into proceedings.

Today it is those who pose as pro-science who are most likely to treat natural events as being caused by individuals’ behaviour, and who are most likely to argue that catastrophes can be predicted and potentially offset through a secular form of eco-penance. They even claim that earthquakes are caused by climate change, as evidenced in recent headlines such as ‘Climate change will shake the earth’. They would probably have blamed the Lisbon quake on consumerism, just as religious folk blamed it on sin. In such an increasingly unhinged, pre-Enlightened climate, is it so shocking that scientists who fail at being seers can be ruthlessly punished?


Perverse environmentalist oil sands ethics

The duplicity and hypocrisy of environmental pressure groups seem to be matched only by their consummate skill at manipulating public opinion, amassing political power, securing taxpayer-funded government grants, and persuading people to send them money and invest in “ethical” stock funds.

In the annals of “green” campaigns, those against biotechnology, DDT and Alar are especially prominent. To those we should now add the well-orchestrated campaigns against Canadian oil sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Oil has been seeping out of Northern Alberta soils and river banks for millennia. Native Americans used the bitumen to waterproof canoes, early explorers smelled and wrote about it, and “entrepreneurs” used it in “mineral waters” and “medicinal elixirs.”

Today, increasingly high-tech operations are extracting the precious hydrocarbons to fuel modern living standards in Canada and the United States. Enormous excavator/loading shovels and trucks used in open pits during the early years are giving way to drilling rigs, steam injection, electric heaters, pipes and other technologies to penetrate, liquefy and extract the petroleum.

The new techniques impact far less land surface, use and recycle brackish water, and emit fewer air pollutants and (plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide every year. Water use for Alberta oil extraction is a tiny fraction of what’s needed to grow corn and convert it into ethanol that gets a third less mileage per gallon than gasoline. Affected lands are returned to forest and native grasslands at a surprising pace. And the operations are removing oil that would otherwise end up in local air and water.

Instead of requiring perpetual subsidies, á la the “renewable” technologies that President Obama intends to redouble if he is reelected, the oil sands generate vast sums in royalties and taxes: an anticipated $690 billion into federal and provincial coffers all across Canada over the life of the project. That’s on top of tens of thousands of jobs of every description, including nearly 2,000 Native Canadians (Aboriginals), whose communities have enjoyed soaring living standards since the operations were launched. In fact, the oil sands project will ultimately generate 11,219,000 person-years of high-paying employment from Alberta to British Columbia, Ontario and the Maritime Provinces, say government sources.

This North American oil is displacing millions of barrels of annual US oil imports from some of the least savory countries on Earth, while adding billions of barrels a year to planetary petroleum production, and thereby keeping world oil prices lower than they would otherwise be.

These are huge benefits. The oil sands project is hardly perfect. It causes environmental impacts, just as all human enterprises do, especially those that provide energy. Indeed, even fantasy fuel projects – wind, solar and biofuel boondoggles that provide comparatively minuscule amounts of energy, but require billions in taxpayer subsidies – have enormous ecological impacts.Here’s the most important point:

Canada’s oil sands (and the Keystone Pipeline that will bring their petroleum to the United States) must be evaluated on environmental and ethical grounds that compare them to real world alternatives to them – not to some utopian energy resource that exists only in the minds of idealists, ideologues and special interest environmental pressure groups.

These critics viciously attack Alberta and the oil sands industry – accusing them of “blood oil,” environmental devastation and unethical practices. In reality, oil sands petroleum is among the most ethical and ecological on Earth, especially when compared to real-world alternatives like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Sudan, Russia, Ecuador and Venezuela, whose human rights violations, terrorism sponsorship and reckless environmental records are legendary. And yet oil sands critics give them a free pass, while heaping opprobrium on Canada.

Whole Foods says oil sands fuel “does not fit our values.” Perhaps the grocer and its “ethical” colleagues prefer values espoused in alternative oil-supplying nations on rights of women, children, gays and foreign housekeepers; stoning, lashing and lopping off hands and heads; treatment of civilians during wars in Chechnya and Darfur; massacres and environmental degradation in the Nigerian delta region; rigged elections and Swiss bank accounts for oil proceeds; or treatment of aboriginals, minorities and Christians.

Perhaps Whole Foods, Sierra Club, NRDC, Obama’s EPA and allied critics prefer to look toward China, which provides 95% of the rare earth metals that are essential for wind turbines and solar panels. Those operations have brought unprecedented air and water pollution, cropland and wildlife habitat wastelands, widespread radiation contamination, and cancer and lung disease in workers and local residents.

28% of Canadian oil industry jobs held by women is “not enough,” intones Kairos, a left-leaning coalition of churches. Compared to what? Women’s jobs in Saudi Arabia or Iran? The 3.5 million more American women who have ended up on poverty rolls since President Obama took office?

Some 1,600 ducks died after landing in an oil sands waste pit several years ago. A repeat of this isolated incident is increasingly unlikely as open pit mining and oil-water separation pits are replaced by in situ drilling and steam. Nevertheless, using analytical methods that only  IPCC climate alarmists would appreciate, the “respected” Pembina Institute conjured up the fantastical “calculation” that “more than 160 million birds would die from oil sands development” over the coming decades.

The claim is not merely wild fear-mongering. It ignores the growing impact of wind turbines on raptors, and attempts by industrial wind developers to get US Fish & Wildlife Service “programmatic take” permits: 007 Licenses to Kill thousands of eagles, hawks, whooping cranes and other protected birds every year without fear of prosecution.

Greenpeace routinely pillories oil sands companies as “climate criminals,” while the US Environmental Protection Agency uses their oil sands CO2 emissions to justify denying Keystone Pipeline permits. (Greenpeace lost its Canadian tax-exempt status, but still manages to con contributors out of vast sums, to retain its status as a $340-million-per-year pressure group. EPA conducts illegal experiments on humans, to justify regulations that are killing thousands of coal mining and utility jobs.)

These positions reflect adherence to the shaky hypothesis of catastrophic manmade global warming and unsupportable claims that the oil sands contribute disproportionately to a looming climate Armageddon. However, Alberta environment office show that “greenhouse gas” emissions from oil sands plummeted 38% between 1990 and 2009, and are now 5% of Canada’s total GHG emissions – and equal to or lower than CO2/GHG emissions from petroleum operations in Nigeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

So-called “ethical funds” likewise excoriate oil sands developers like Total, Syncrude and Imperial Oil, while promising investors that their money will purchase shares in “responsible” companies that don’t produce fossil fuels, do nuclear power or contribute to climate change. Co-operative Bank’s is one of those modern day snake oil “entrepreneurs.” Its über-ethical Sustainable Leaders Trust (don’t you love that name?) makes that pitch – and then invests client cash in Third World coal mines … and oil sands!

The rogues’ gallery of oil sands critics and their shady dealings is so vast that someone could write a book about them. In fact, Ezra Levant did exactly that. His Ethical Oil is an eye-opening companion to my own Eco-Imperialism, which chronicles the often lethal misdeeds of other self-righteous pressure groups.

Their misrepresentations, double standards, questionable practices and perverse ethics would get them brought up on fraud charges, if they were oil companies or non-“ethical” investment “trusts.”

It’s time to apply the same legal, ethical and credibility standards to these “socially responsible” outfits that they insist on applying to the corporations they denounce. Keep that in mind the next time you see EPA, Greenpeace, Co-operative Bank or anyone else taking pot shots at oil sands or Keystone.




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