Sunday, February 17, 2013

Climate Change’s Hypothetical Links to Conflict

Schellnhuber is a nasty little creep.  He seems unaware (to be charitable) that when Indians talk of the monsoon "failing", they don't mean a total failure of it to appear.  It always appears but in "failing" years the rain starts later in the year and delivers (say) 10% less  rainfall overall.  And with greater prosperity, the tendency is for such "failures" to be much less disastrous than they were

Imagine India in 2033. It has overtaken China as the most populous nation. Yet with 1.5 billion citizens to feed, it’s been three years since the last monsoon. Without rain, crops die and people starve.

This is one of the scenarios Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, presented today to members of the United Nations Security Council in New York to show the connection between climate change and global security challenges.

Either rich nations will find a way to supply needy nations suffering from damaging climate effects “or you will have all kinds of unrest and revolutions, with the export of angry and hungry people to the industrialized countries,” Schellnhuber said in an interview yesterday.

In the Marshall Islands -- site of U.S. nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s and now being lost to a rising Pacific Ocean -- global warming has “threatened our very existence,” said Tony deBrum, minister-in-assistance to the president of the island state. In the future, the 68,000 inhabitants of the low- lying coral atolls could become stateless.

“Our roads are inundated every 14 days,” he told reporters in New York after the meeting. “We have to ration water three times a week. People have emergency kits for water. We can no longer use well water because it’s inundated with salt.”

Serious Consequences

The Security Council session was evidence of the increased focus on the link between climate change and global security.

Climate change is a “reality that cannot be washed away,” according to notes prepared for diplomats at today’s session. “There is growing concern that with faster than anticipated acceleration, climate change may spawn consequences which are harsher than expected.”

Yet, today’s discussions were not held as a formal meeting of the council because China and Russia, two of the larger emitters of the greenhouse gases that scientists tie to climate change, raised objections, said two UN diplomats who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the subject. China was the largest gross emitter of carbon dioxide in 2011, followed by the U.S., the European Union, India and Russia, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.

Informal Talks

Instead, the informal, closed-door discussion was kept away from the council chamber and led jointly by the U.K. and Pakistan, where floods have left millions of people homeless in a foreshadowing of the extreme weather scientists say will result from a warming planet.

“Before it was always an issue of the developed world, so the involvement of Pakistan is a very interesting sign,” said Schellnhuber, a climate change scientist who is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top adviser on the issue.

Representatives from nations not on the 15-member Security Council were invited to the session, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon participated. In 2011, the council agreed to a statement expressing “concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.”

“It was OK, but it was rather vague,” said Schellnhuber.

With 2012 one of the world’s hottest years on record, the implications for both domestic and foreign policy of wildfires in Australia and Russia, floods in Asia and hurricanes in the Americas gave today’s discussion an added sense of urgency.


Stealing Valentine Candy from Babies

Wasn’t I just saying yesterday that, everywhere we turn, someone nags us about the environment? That it’s inescapable? That you can’t spend a single day without being beaten over the head by greens?

One of the reasons green nags are so irritating is that a large percentage of what they say is unadulterated nonsense. It’s based on shoddy analysis. Appearing to do something for the planet, feeling pious seems to be more important than actually accomplishing something meaningful.

Far too many green ideas appear to have been dreamed up by people sitting around singing Kumbaya. The same individuals who claim to care so deeply about the environment apparently can’t be bothered to invest a few hours researching the implications of what they’re proposing before foisting their latest green idea on the rest of us.

As if to demonstrate my point, there’s a story in today’s Calgary Herald about elementary schools banning kids from exchanging Valentine’s cards. According to the school’s newsletter, if every child gives 30 cards to their classmates why, that would be just horrible:

    "it adds up to 3,000 cards! Imagine the trees we are saving by not exchanging cards in our school."

I’m not sure what happens in other parts of the world, but here in Canada it has long been a tradition that parents purchase a package of small, inexpensive cards decorated with hearts and puppy dogs, that children address them to their classmates, and then exchange them at school on February 14th.

As far as traditions go, this is not an overly important one. It could disappear tomorrow and little harm would be done.

But it’s the principle of the matter. If people are prepared to ban innocent childish pastimes on the flimsiest of environmental excuses, what else are they prepared to ban? What other aspects of our public and private lives will the green police intrude on?

Of course it’s dumb to outright waste anything. But trees are a renewable resource – a crop much like any other. Once we’ve ensured that foresters are following sensible practices, saving trees makes no more sense than saving turnips or cabbages.

(If the real objection is that Valentine’s cards are frivolous, so are a lot of other things. It is not the business of schools to cleanse the world of frivolity.)

There’s no sound environmental reasoning behind this decision. This is about people abusing their power.

This is about little kids being conditioned to make meaningless sacrifices for Mother Earth.


Cars may explode in crashes if EU forces firms to fit 'highly flammable' green coolant, warns Mercedes

New cars sold in Britain and Europe risk catching fire and exploding in a crash because of EU rules to impose a controversial 'green' air-conditioning coolant from the start of this year, German car giant Mercedes-Benz has warned.

The luxury car-maker says the new 'climate-friendly' air-con chemical is 'highly flammable', poisonous and poses a danger both to occupants and rescue services – and German government officials now agree.

Mercedes-Benz is refusing to put the controversial new gas refrigerant into its latest vehicles, sparking a major confrontation with Brussels and the firms who make it  - both of whom deny any safety risks.

Today, Mercedes-Benz and its parent company Daimler received backing from Germany's Federal Environment Agency UBA.

It asked the EU to 'compromise' by granting them and other car-makers – including Volkswagen and Audi - an  extension from the mandatory rules until 2015 if they agree to  introduce an alternative green refrigerant based on carbon dioxide, which experts say is safer because it doesn't burn.

If Daimler is correct, around 2 million new cars sold in the UK each year are potentially at risk. Photographs from the firm's own simulated crash tests on cars showed that a mix of the refrigerant and air-conditioning compressor oil released under a car's hood could ignite a heated engine.

This would mainly be a risk if the car crashes, but it is also possible if the coolant leaks for any other reason.

The row centres on the new coolant with the codename 'R1234yf' which Daimler argues can start a fire in the car and release toxic hydrogen fluoride gas. It is the replacement for the long-time industry standard, which EU legislators in Brussels have ordered to be phased out from January because of concerns about greenhouse gases.

The new 'green' refrigerant is produced by US giant Honeywell and is currently the only one if its kind that meets new EU climate guidelines. The firm denies categorically that there is any safety risk.

Car makers are supposed to phase in the change from the start of this year, but by 2017 every single one of the estimated 14 million a year air-conditioned vehicles that rolls off assembly lines for sale in Europe  will be filled with about £43 worth of  the new coolant. This will not include the million Mercedes-Benz's built each year, of which 90,000 are sold in the UK.

Urging the EU to compromise, Jochen Flasbarth, president of Germany's  Federal Environment Agency UBA said: 'We have been warning about the dangers (of HF0-1234yf) for years. Daimler's internal tests proved not only that our own fears were justified but also that we may even have underestimated the risks.'

But he added: 'It's just not possible to switch to a CO2-based system within six months or even a year, though, so I would propose giving carmakers until the end of 2015 to make the switch.'

Mr Flasbarth noted:'If you switch to CO2 then you reduce your global warming potential by 75 per cent over HFO-1234yf, so I think that justifies permitting a longer transition time for those carmakers that commit to the switch,'

Earlier this month, BMW joined Daimler and Volkswagen's Audi in resigning from an industry research group looking into the safety of HFO-1234yf, due to concerns over the scientific thoroughness of the investigation.

Mercedes-Benz  executives said  they watched in horror when engineers at a test-track in Sindelfingen in Germany simulated a leak in the air-conditioning line of a Mercedes B-Class tourer using the new coolant.

After releasing a fine mixture of the refrigerant and air-conditioning compressor oil which sprayed across the car's turbo-charged 1.6 litre engine, they watched it ignite in 'a ball of fire' before their eyes.

The substance caught fire as soon as it hit the hot surface, releasing a toxic, corrosive gas as it burned. The car's windshield turned milky white as lethal hydrogen fluoride began eating its way into the glass, said the firm.

Stefan Geyer, a senior Daimler engineer who ran the tests said: 'We were frozen in shock, I am not going to deny it.'

A Mercedes-Benz  source said: 'In over half the tests, a significant fire occurred, which could endanger the lives of passengers and rescue teams.

'It doesn't explode like in the movies. But there is a boom and a ball of fire.'

'In over half the tests, a significant fire occurred, which could endanger the lives of passengers and rescue teams.

Walter Pütz, director of vehicle certification and regulatory affairs at Mercedes-Benz Cars said: 'The whole vehicle can catch fire and the burning refrigerant generates acutely poisonous hydrogen fluoride which poses a severe danger to both passengers and rescue workers.'

In sharp contrast, the existing refrigerant 'was proved to be safe under identical testing conditions, he said.

Daimler said in a statement: 'Due to the new findings of this study and the high safety demands at Mercedes-Benz, this chemical will not be used in its products.'

German carmaker Volkswagen has also announced it is looking at an alternative carbon-dioxide (CO2) based coolant to the new 'green' version.

But MEPs said parent company Daimler were putting cost-cutting ahead of climate change remedies – charges the firm denies.

Liberal MEP Chris Davies told European magazine EurActive that the firm was trying to 'frustrate' the directive's ambitions: 'Daimler are evil and I think their CEO should be summoned to the European parliament and humiliated.'

A spokesman for Britain's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it was taking seriously Mercedes-Benz's concerns, adding: 'At the forefront of all members thoughts is the safety of drivers and passengers in the vehicles they are putting on the market.  'The additional research is welcome and members will be looking at the outcomes of that research closely.'


True-believing environmental journalist mourns the glory days at CNN

He appears to have no insight into the fact that constant Greenie evangelism  was largely responsible for making his network BORING  -- and thus a loser in the ratings

With former NBC chief Jeff Zucker now in charge at CNN, the network reportedly has big changes planned.

The overhaul presents an opportunity for CNN to reverse a decline in environmental coverage that one former top environmental producer at the network blames on an obsession with beating Fox News.

Peter Dykstra, who oversaw the CNN environmental beat from 1995 to 2008, recalled top CNN executives describing environmental stories as "elite issues or liberal issues" that would not draw a Fox News crowd.

"For the last 10 years, CNN has been battered by competition, primarily by Fox. They have incurred huge losses in ratings to Fox and like just about anyone in cable television, they have altered their programming far more in the direction of entertainment and amusement as opposed to information with redeeming value. That of course does not bode well for covering science," Dykstra said in a recent interview. "CNN has looked obsessively at how many viewers they've lost to Fox." ...

"The biggest issue is that what we covered were perceived to be either elite issues or liberal issues that were of little value if your goal in life is to compete head to head with Fox News," Dykstra recalled about his CNN days. "You do not need science and technology to compete with Fox."

Ironically, a recent report at the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage ranked Fox News 9th out of 30 national news outlets in the amount of environmental stories, with CNN ranked near the bottom at 25th. The report noted, however, that "Fox's environmental coverage has often been documented and criticized for being biased and misleading."

Dykstra said that former CNN President Jonathan Klein, who served in that role from 2004 to 2010, was one of several executives who called for a reduction in environmental coverage in order to compete with Fox, even though he believed climate change existed.

"I will give him credit for looking me in the eye and telling me to my face, and he was not the only CNN boss who did this, that he did not consider science and environment coverage to be a high priority," Dykstra said of Klein, later adding, "It never was hostility, it was more an attitude of 'that doesn't work for us, that doesn't help us beat Fox.' There was very little if any political push back. In fact, Jon Klein, I recall him saying in editorial meetings on more than one occasion 'it's obvious that this is for real, it just didn't necessarily have a place in CNN's coverage.'"

Dykstra said CNN had been a leader in environmental coverage in the early 90s as it ramped up coverage at the time.

Asked when and why the shift changed at CNN to less coverage, Dykstra said: "Much of it can be attributed to the response to Fox [which launched in 1996]. Gradually, through the 90's and dramatically after 9/11 and then in a very final sense after the economy tanked [in] 2007, 2008. In the midst of a real focus [post-9/11], we did no environmental coverage. There was really no coverage of anything other than Al Qaeda and 9/11 here."

But Dykstra said the lack of coverage is almost worsened by the way CNN has handled climate change today. He cited the recent appearance on Piers Morgan's show of Marc Morano, who oversees the climate change denial site

"That means they are comfortable with allowing utterly discredited crackpots on the air like Marc Morano, who has been on there twice in the past six weeks," Dykstra said. "If you let Marc Morano have half of a show on climate change, someone who was utterly discredited, who was involved in the swift boat story, who worked for Rush Limbaugh... if you took that same standard that they used for this environment story and applied it to a medical story you would have to pair Sanjay Gupta up with a faith healer or a witch doctor every time he went on the air."

Jonathan Klein could not be reached for comment and CNN did not respond to requests for comment.

"What has happened particularly in the cable news business is that the competition particularly between MSNBC and Fox and CNN has prompted all three to strive for the lowest levels," he said. "With Fox in the lead and MSNBC and CNN playing catch-up, there has been a tendency to present over-simplified versions of the news and often to have them presented on the air by the real-life equivalent of cartoon characters."

He said his efforts to focus coverage on climate change and even evolution versus creationism were often blocked in the later years of his CNN stint.

"It obviously does not fit the political portfolio of Fox and a place like CNN is terrified of alienating viewers with progressive coverage and driving them to Fox. Climate change stories were not my most difficult sell at CNN," he said. "I could get absolutely nowhere with relevant stories about the science and politics of creationism versus evolution."

"When I was there, of course it was long before [Hurricane] Sandy this year and all of the horrendous weather stories of the past year, extreme weather was an easy sell," he explained. "Katrina made climate change a bit easier sell ... people tend to forget there were at least four major hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004. Those issues where there was reason and immediate on the ground self-evident reason to ask questions about climate, it was an easier sell."

He later added, "Now we see it rising again and it is rising again on the occasion that we've just gone through tremendous drought, a huge melt back of the arctic ice pack, Sandy and other storms... and the public is responding again. TV news often reacts to that response. There's at least a sliver of hope that there will be some comeback in climate reporting at CNN and other networks."

Dykstra offered some hope that CNN would improve its environmental coverage, praising most of the reporters there. But, he stressed, the striving for ratings and push for personalities does not help.

"There was and still is enough journalistic sensibility at CNN that they will never move to the right like Fox, but they will give Glenn Beck his first [TV hosting] job, which CNN did about 5 years ago. They will tolerate Lou Dobbs becoming this Howard Beale-like populist crackpot at the point in his career when Lou Dobbs was denying climate change and promoting birther stories about Obama."

Dykstra said ratings are not always the driving force, sometimes it is getting advertisers who want a certain audience, even at the detriment of proper news coverage.

"Lou Dobbs' business show never really had high ratings, but business-oriented sponsors, people who might be selling Cadillac Escalades or jewelry to wealthy viewers, would pay a premium price even if it's a smaller numerical audience to reach a richer audience," he explained. "The eternal challenge [for environmental coverage] is that we are not linked to a personality, there is no star environmental reporter out there."

Dykstra said the CNN environmental and science team reached 24 people -- with up to a dozen on the environment alone -- in the 1990s. By 2000, it was down to 12 staffers across both beats.

Dykstra was among seven environmental journalists laid off in 2008, with five having been let go during 2004-2007.


Al Gore too is rowing back from global warming

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore uploaded a new video to YouTube – the first video on his YouTube channel – in which he announced a new company, Earth Inc.

The video has attracted more than 1,000 viewers in three days. Well, it was probably 200 viewers seeing it 5 times but it's still impressive for a former vice-president and a major party's presidential candidate in a country with 300 million people. We may be going to double the number of views. ;-)

Al Gore advertises printers that may print whole houses within a day as well as new Al Gore Rhythms that increase the efficiency of law firm assistants 500 times. He seems to partially take credit not only for the Al Gore Rhythms but maybe for the 3D printers, too. If you told him about plans to 3D print buildings on the Moon, he would take credit for them, too.

His company Earth Inc. will also struggle to balance opportunities and new perils arising from the new technologies. Blah blah blah.

Needless to say, what I find most remarkable is that this 76-second video doesn't mention the climate, climate change, global warming, greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide, emissions, or anything of the sort. They have already sold his and pals' Current TV to the Arab oil sheikhs for half a billion dollars so he may have changed his focus, right. The closest words to the "planetary emergency" that we hear in this video are the words "truly sustainable economy" which can mean anything and everything. Maybe the sheikhs bought what this jerk would be talking about, too: they bought his mouth.

If you're thinking about buying his new book about The Future, Six Drivers of Global Change, you may want to know the table of contents. There are chapters on Earth Inc; the global mind; power in the balance; outgrowth; reinvention of life and death; the edge; conclusion. It seems to me that this top leader of the climate hysteria has largely abandoned it.


What a nutcase!

Obviously a desperate need for attention

It was protest time at the White House on Wednesday.

Environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr., actress Daryl Hannah, civil rights leader Julian Bond and dozens of others were arrested for chaining themselves to the White House gate in protest of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

"It's unfortunate that civil disobedience is the only recourse against a catastrophic and criminal enterprise that will enrich a few while impoverishing the rest of humanity and threatening the future of civilization," said Kennedy, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

President Obama is getting it from both sides on Keystone.

Republicans accuse the administration of obstructing the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, costing the nation jobs and new oil supplies.




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


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