Sunday, March 10, 2013
A tipping point that can't tip
Absolutely essential to global warming alarm are tipping points. An extrapolation of the gentle warming we experienced in the last 150 years ago would not alarm anybody. So something that will derail the existing trend in a big way has to be predicted. And the usual prediction is that water vapour will build up and thus cause accelerated warming. But what if water vapour is actually declining? A paper by Ken Gregory shows that it is -- under the heading: "Water Vapor Decline Cools the Earth: NASA Satellite Data". I have a letter from Bill Gray supporting the conclusions. I present just the introduction and conclusions below -- JR
An analysis of NASA satellite data shows that water vapor, the most important greenhouse gas, has declined in the upper atmosphere causing a cooling effect that is 16 times greater than the warming effect from man-made greenhouse gas emissions during the period 1990 to 2001. The world has spent over $ 1 trillion on climate change mitigation based on climate models that don't work. They are notoriously poor at simulating the 20th century warming because they do not include natural causes of climate change - mainly due to the changing sun - and they grossly exaggerate the feedback effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
Most scientists agree that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, which takes about 150 years, would theoretical warm the earth by one degree Celsius, if there were no change in evaporation, the amount or distribution of water vapor and clouds.
Climate models amplify the initial CO2 effect by a factor of three by assuming positive feedbacks from water vapor and clouds, for which there is little direct evidence. Most of the amplification by the climate models is due to an increase in upper atmosphere water vapor.
The Satellite Data The NASA water vapor project (NVAP) uses multiple satellite sensors to create a standard climate dataset to measure long-term variability of global water vapor. NASA recently released the Heritage NVAP data which gives water vapor measurement from 1988 to 2001 on a 1 degree by 1 degree grid, in three vertical layers.1 The NVAP-M project, which is not yet available, extends the analysis to 2009 and gives five vertical layers. Water vapor content of an atmospheric layer is represented by the height in millimeters (mm) that would result from precipitating all the water vapor in a vertical column to liquid water. The near-surface layer is from the surface to where the atmospheric pressure is 700 millibar (mb), or about 3 km altitude. The middle layer is from 700 mb to 500 mb air pressure, or from 3 km to 6 km attitude. The upper layer is from 500 mb to 300 mb air pressure, or from 6 km to 10 km altitude.
Climate models predict upper atmosphere moistening which triples the greenhouse effect from man-made carbon dioxide emissions. The new satellite data from the NASA water vapor project shows declining upper atmosphere water vapor during the period 1988 to 2001. It is the best available data for water vapor because it has global coverage.
Calculations by a line-by-line radiative code show that upper atmosphere water vapor changes at 500 mb to 300 mb have 29 times greater effect on OLR and temperatures than the same change near the surface. The cooling effect of the water vapor changes on OLR is 16 times greater than the warming effect of CO2 during the 1990 to 2001 period.
Radiosonde data shows that upper atmosphere water vapor declines with warming. The IPCC dismisses the radiosonde data as the decline is inconsistent with theory. During the 1990 to 2001 period, upper atmosphere water vapor from satellite data declines more than that from radiosonde data, so there is no reason to dismiss the radiosonde data.
Changes in water vapor are linked to temperature trends in the upper atmosphere. Both satellite data and radiosonde data confirm the absence of any tropical upper atmosphere temperature amplification, contrary to IPCC theory.
Four independent data sets demonstrate that the IPCC theory is wrong. CO2 does not cause significant global warming.
Some strange religious fanatics
"The 11th Hour" Completely Debunked
Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2007 documentary The 11th Hour is about the collapse of our natural environment due to disharmonious human activities and the struggle for a sustainable way of living. The intention of the speakers are sincere and honest, I have no problem with that. However, it’s the implementation of that intention that I take issue with. The implementation, like so many, involves the complete manipulation of viewers. And even if the documentary leads to positive end results in changing the Earth, to do so through manipulative tactics is unethical.
The 11th Hour starts off with images of famine, animals dying, drought, severe malnutrition and extreme weather. Later on as the speakers talk about sustainable ways of living the images change to beautiful sceneries of nature and people working together. This is a clear manipulation ploy: choose either oil and death or solar/wind/water and natural beauty. The 11th Hour presents the images as if they no longer exist, like a past time of natural beauty. This isn’t the case though, all the beautiful scenes and images are still here today. Connecting images of life with sustainability and the opposite to global climate catastrophe is a low blow to the viewer’s sense of intellect. Every image and statement is carefully timed and edited to evoke a particular feeling from the viewer. This isn’t like a movie where there are filler lines. All of the elements (images, statements, sound bites) in The 11th Hour advocate the position that we’re on the brink of destroying the planet; or as Tom Linzey says, “it’s the 11th hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds.” This is complete and utter nonsense.
I’ll structure this article by pointing out the errors of the speakers.
Thom Hartmann says the biosphere is sick, it’s hurting, and acting like an infected organism. Seriously? Does Hartmann have a deep connection with the planet that no one else has? Does he know that if a tree is cut down the Earth feels pain? Does he know that when nature unleashes a hurricane it’s in retribution for the pain people are causing it? Making analogies of our everyday observations to the health of the planet is erroneous and misleading. Many climate change “experts” take this kind of approach, where they’re somehow more in-tune with nature and understand it better than the mass public. While I believe that nature is a living being and the planet is the body or shell I won’t take the position that I have a deep connection or any connection at all to understand why it does what it does. When a hurricane takes place in the US, what does it mean? What’s the purpose of it? Does it somehow help the planet? I don’t know any of these answers, but apparently climate experts like Hartmann, and almost every speaker in The 11th Hour believes they know the answers. A bit too much ego and PhD’s cloud their judgments in my opinion.
Hartmann goes on to talk about ancient sunlight (oil, natural gas, coal) stored in the earth, and if we don’t use it the planet can only support 0.5 - 1 billion people. I don’t buy it. I can understand it for the pre-industrial age, but definitely not today. If oil disappears overnight, people can utilize solar energy panels and store the energy for later, operating with more than the available sunlight in a given year. But the truth is that oil is not in low supply or disappearing anytime soon because oil is a renewable resource, just like wind, water and solar. For Hartmann and Brock Dolman to depict oil as, “a fossil fuel death cycle” is erroneous. The purpose in writing my book, Oil, The 4th Renewable Resource is to dispel these myths and bring a sense of reason to the debate.
James Hillman (a psychologist) says that to think of yourself as separate from nature is a thinking disorder; excellent, another disorder for the DSM to be cured by prescription drugs or outdated theoretical models of the mind. But the point leads to a question without an answer from any of the speakers: what is the definition of nature? Is it the planet? A blade of grass? Dirt? A micro-organism? A hurricane? A butterfly? If it’s any one of these answers than yes I am a separate being from nature. If the definition is a carbon based life form, then no I’m not separate from the planet, we’re both carbon buddies for life. Many speakers in The 11th Hour talk about how we can’t think of ourselves as separate from nature, to do so would be foolish. But making these kinds of broad philosophical statements doesn’t help in clarifying anything; it only shows a lack of intellect in understanding the aspects and dimensions of what it means to be human. Does a butterfly, micro-organism or a blade of grass experience reality as humans do? No, so why is it wrong to think that we’re separate beings?
Paul Stamets says he has dreams of future generations screaming that we’re at a critical point and to continue our way of life is suicide. This is another over the top dramatic statement that manipulates people into action. He goes on to say the planet is resilient but if we screw it up with a dramatic climate shift it may become like Mars. Stephen Hawking sings the same tune with the worst case scenario due to manmade climate change is the Earth becoming like Venus. Is this a documentary on facts or a science fiction movie? No credible scientist believes our atmosphere is shifting to become like Mars or Venus due to climate change, and for those that do, it’s another scare tactic to spur actions. I don’t have a problem with people reducing their carbon footprint or living a more sustainable lifestyle. I have a problem when they do so out of manipulation and scare tactics. Yes, the end result may be the same, but it’s not genuine action, it’s a farce that implies the public can’t differentiate genuine action from manipulated action.
David Orr and Ray Anderson make the claim we’re at the tipping point and that Hurricane Katrina events will become the norm. This inference is very dangerous and one that environmentalists use on a daily basis: any type of extreme or even common weather is all due to manmade climate change. A hurricane in the south...climate change, a flood in the midwest...global warming, a bad crop season in developing countries...climate change. This scapegoat tactic is not only erroneous but causes the public to misperceive natural events in nature.
But this gets into something worse. The most dangerous ideology in this documentary is about nature and/or God sending messages to humanity through these events. Nathan Gardels says, “in the past there’s revenge of the gods or nature and that we’re now seeing it in our time.” I can’t overestimate how dangerous this thinking is because it posits that every natural disaster is nature’s vengeance on humans for inflicting pain on it. This is not the case and can never be proven; it’s just conjecture and interpretation from speakers with particular ideologies. But statements like this convey the feeling of biblical authority, that if we’re not good humans we’ll be snuffed out by a vengeful God/planet. We tell these kinds of stories to kids to keep them in line, using the threat of punishment.
David Suzuki says that we’ve forgotten an ancient truth, that if we offend nature we’ll have to pay a price. Again, this gives the perception of “the wrath of God/nature” exacting vengeance on humanity. This type of punishment ideology doesn’t belong in this debate and only fuels the flames of fear based actions. For Gardels, Suzuki and other environmentalists to use this to spur action, is one of the strongest manipulation ploys to keep the public on a short leash.
New York’s ‘Sustainability’ Plan: aka ‘Agenda 21’
by MARY KAY BARTON
"Agenda 21" was first introduced to the world at the 1992 UN-sponsored "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro. It addresses virtually every facet of human life and describes in great detail how the concept of "sustainable development" should be implemented at every level of government.
"Agenda 21 proposes an array of actions which are intended to be implemented by every person on earth.... It calls for specific changes in the activities of all people.... Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all humans, unlike anything the world has ever experienced."
"The Sustainable Development Challenge Grant program is also a step in implementing Agenda 21, the Global Plan of Action on Sustainable Development, signed by the United States at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. All of these programs require broad community participation to identify and address environmental issues." Environmental Protection Agency, 63 Fed. Reg. 45157 (August 24, 1998).
On January 26, 2012, I attended the final meeting in Batavia, NY for the Finger Lakes "Regional Sustainability Plan," part of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's $10 million statewide program to have regional Planning Departments orchestrate "sustainability" plans described in NYSERDA's "Cleaner, Greener Communities" Program. Following is my take on what is going on across New York State in regard to these extensive plans in the making.
As those who have studied the United Nations' "Agenda 21" plan know, "Sustainability" is a key buzzword that is part-and-parcel of the UN's Agenda 21 agenda. It's also meaningless and malleable - allowing activists and planners to bend and shape it to serve their agendas.
There is no doubt that the "Sustainability" Plan currently being devised by Planning Departments across the state, all of which are acting "under NYSERDA's thumb" (as one planner phrased it at their first meeting in Batavia), is Agenda 21, under development and in practice (think carbon taxes, "green" energy transfer-of-wealth schemes, and one-world governance). No wonder the Hollywood crowd loves sustainable development, Agenda 21 and Al Gore.
At the "open-house style" meeting in Batavia, folks were asked to read the poster boards relevant to each part of the overall plan: Land Use, Water Use, Agriculture, Forestry, Waste Management, Economic Development, and Energy - and then use sticky notes to post their comments on the boards for each particular segment of the plan.
Free-market economists sharply differentiate between central government planning and decentralized market planning (See F.A. Hayak's, Road to Serfdom, pages 34 - 35). Thus, while many see little wrong with developing an overall plan, remember that their coercion crowds out your own planning. And while different aspects of the extensive plans look good at first glance, the devil is in the details.
The fact that NYSERDA is the bureaucracy overseeing this process is the tell-tale warning sign, as the development of renewable energy across the state and ways to regulate hydrocarbon use and carbon dioxide emissions is the overarching goal in each area of the plan.
This should leave everyone very wary about the remaining $90 million - which came from the Northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) ratepayer dollars, and which will be offered as "grants" (the proverbial "carrots" used to lead the sheep) to guide our communities into "compliance" with the overall underlying agenda - that of Agenda 21.
Who knows where the money will come from for Governor Cuomo's proposed billion-dollar "Green Bank" and $1.5 Billion dollar Solar fund? Remember when Obama President Obama said there were other ways of "skinning the cat" besides cap-and-trade?
One of the biggest warning flags I noted at the meeting (besides the "green" energy push and carbon regulation goals) was on the chart regarding "Land Use." I noted one line that said, "Home Rule" interferes with inter-municipal cooperation...." The obvious subliminal message here is that "Home Rule" is a bad thing.
Our municipalities' long-held, Constitutional right to "Home Rule" is being progressively undermined through this whole process of State-led planning. We are unwittingly, slowly and methodically giving over total control to unelected bureaucrats, planners and activists, who are devising these "green" "sustainability" plans - which are part and parcel of Agenda 21 (which many officials and bureaucrats insist they still know nothing about).
The sad reality is that most of these planners are not at all educated about energy and power. As I was getting ready to leave the meeting, one of the FL Planners asked me what I had thought of the display.
I told him straight out that the obvious push for "unreliables" (aka "renewable") like wind is a complete waste of our tax- and rate-payer dollars. I told him that while I am certainly all for scientifically-vetted, economically-sound energy-innovation, industrial wind was the biggest scam to ever come down the pike.
Sadly, he responded with the decades-old propaganda line, "Well, we have to do something. Oil is responsible for so much of our pollution."
I responded, "I'm not talking about oil - which is used for transportation. I'm talking about unreliable wind power - which is used for electricity!"
He tried to argue that eventually we would end up going to all electric vehicles. I just laughed, and said, "Sir, I'm afraid you've drank the Kool-Aid! I couldn't even make it home and back in an electric car." And imagine trying to recharge car batteries using expensive, intermittent, bird-killing wind turbines!
Thankfully, a local guy who does get it stepped in and said, even if electric vehicles became more prevalent, they could never be used to do the kind of heavy work required on our farms.
As our conversation proceeded, we had the attention of the entire small crowd that was in the room - which played out great, as the facts totally destroyed this planner's entire argument.
Not one of the five planners who were there knew what "Capacity Value" was, nor that wind provided virtually NONE. I told him that wind is not the future, and in all actuality, there is a direct correlation between RELIABLE, AFFORDABLE power, and increased health and longevity in this country, which he could verify by doing a little research.
I ended up leaving a copy of John Etherington's The Wind Farm Scam: An Ecologist's Evaluation and Robert Bryce's Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future with one of the head planners there.
Hopefully, they will actually read them and reverse course, so that New York State can cut its budget, preserve the environment, and safeguard our neighbors' quality of life and property values - all at the same time. As it is now, the energy-illiterate planners guiding the development of (UN-initiated) "Sustainability Plans" in New York State (Governor Andrew Cuomo and his cohorts at NYSERDA) are not basing their decisions on sound science, but on politics surrounding the UN's "New World," state-supported religion of "Environmentalism."
As Paul Driessen stated so well: "Climate alarmism and pseudo-science have justified all manner of regulations, carbon trading, carbon taxes, renewable energy programs and other initiatives that increase the cost of everything we make, grow, ship, eat, heat, cool, wear and do - and thus impair job creation, economic growth, living standards, health, welfare and ecological values."
Whether the "Sustainability Plans" are in New York State or Timbuktu, there is nothing at all that is "sustainable" about any of this.
Eco madness and how Britain's future is going up in smoke as we pay billions to switch from burning coal to wood chips at Britain's biggest power station
Back to the third world. Enough to give any Greenie an orgasm
There could be no better symbol of the madness of Britain’s energy policy than what is happening at the giant Drax power station in Yorkshire, easily the largest in Britain.
Indeed, it is one of the biggest and most efficiently run coal-fired power stations in the world. Its almost 1,000ft-tall flue chimney is the highest in the country, and its 12 monster cooling towers (each taller than St Paul’s Cathedral) dominate the flat countryside of eastern Yorkshire for miles around.
Every day, Drax burns 36,000 tons of coal, brought to its vast site by 140 coal trains every week — and it supplies seven per cent of all the electricity used in Britain. That’s enough to light up a good many of our major cities.
But as a result of a change in Government policy, triggered by EU rules, Drax is about to undergo a major change that would have astonished those who built it in the Seventies and Eighties right next to Selby coalfield, which was then highly productive but has since closed.
As from next month, Drax will embark on a £700 million switch away from burning coal for which it was designed, in order to convert its six colossal boilers to burn millions of tons a year of wood chips instead.
Most of these chips will come from trees felled in forests covering a staggering 4,600 square miles in the USA, from where they will be shipped 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to Britain.
The reason for this hugely costly decision is that Drax has become a key component in the so-called ‘green revolution’ which is now at the heart of the Government’s energy policy.
Because it burns so much coal, Drax is the biggest single emitter in Britain of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas supposedly responsible for global warming.
The theory is that, by gradually switching to wood — or ‘biomass’ as it is officially known — Drax will eventually save millions of tons of CO2 from going every year into the atmosphere, thereby helping to prevent climate change and save the planet.
Unlike coal, which is now demonised as a filthy, planet-threatening pollutant, biomass is considered ‘sustainable’, because it supposedly only returns back to the atmosphere the amount of CO2 it drew out of the air while the original tree it came from was growing.
The truth remains, though, that coal is still by far the cheapest means of creating electricity. But the Government is so committed to meeting its own and the EU’s targets for reducing Britain’s ‘carbon emissions’ that it is now going flat out to tackle the problem on two fronts — both of which forced the changes at Drax.
First, the Government wants to use a carbon tax to make burning fossil fuels such as coal so expensive that, before too long, it will become prohibitive for power companies to use them.
A new carbon tax will be introduced in three weeks’ time, and applied to every ton of carbon dioxide produced during electricity production. The tax will start at a comparatively low level, but rise steeply every year so that, within 20 years, the cost of generating electricity from coal will have doubled and it will no longer be economical.
Second, the Government is determined to boost all those ‘carbon neutral’ — but currently much more expensive — means of making electricity, such as wind farms, nuclear power and burning biomass. It hopes to achieve this by offering a host of subsidies, paid for by every household and business through electricity bills.
What forced Drax to embark on the switch from coal to ‘biomass’ was ministers’ decision last year to give any coal-fired power station which switched to ‘biomass’ the same, near-100 per cent ‘renewable subsidy’ that it already gives to the owners of onshore wind farms.
When the experts at Drax did their sums, they could see how, if they stayed with coal, they would gradually be priced out of business by a carbon tax which will eventually make their electricity become twice as expensive.
In terms of hard-headed realism, the Government was giving them little choice.
But it is hard to overstate the lunacy of this Drax deal. To start with, some of those environmentalists who are normally most fanatically in favour of ‘renewable’ power are among those most strongly opposed to the burning of wood as a means of producing electricity.
Campaigning groups, such as Friends of the Earth, scorn the idea that wood chips are ‘carbon neutral’ or that felling millions of acres of American forests, to turn trees into chips and then transporting those chips thousands of miles to Yorkshire, will end up making any significant net reduction in ‘carbon’ emissions.
Their criticism chimes with the view of Sir David King, formerly the Government’s chief scientific adviser, who this week told Radio 4’s Today programme that when the full ‘life cycle’ of these wood chips is factored in, he doubted there would be any real saving in carbon dioxide emissions.
Drax disagrees with this, although what King had in mind was all the additional emissions arising from the laborious processes required between the growing of those millions of trees in America and the moment they go up in smoke.
The trees must first be felled, then turned into wood chips in two dedicated plants that Drax is building in America. The chips have to be transported in huge ships thousands of miles across the ocean to Yorkshire ports, then ferried in huge railway trucks to the power station.
Even then, before being pulverised into powder ready for use, the wood chips must be stored in giant purpose-built domes, where they need to be humidified in order to prevent spontaneous combustion — to which wood is 1,000 times more prone than coal.
This has already given rise to disastrous fires in other power plants that have converted to biomass, such as one which recently caused millions of pounds’ worth of damage to Tilbury power station in London.
As Drax admits, all this means that to generate nearly the same amount of power from wood as it does from coal will cost between two and three times as much, meaning that its fuel costs will double or treble — so that the only thing to make this possible will be that massive subsidy, which will eventually be worth over £1 billion a year.
This is hardly good news for us electricity users. We have already seen bills go up by over £1 billion a year because we are being forced to subsidise the use of wind farms. In the years to come, with these vast subsidies going to Drax, they will soar ever higher.
Yet while consumers are being hammered, government ministers are delighted by Drax’s decision to convert to wood chips. This is because it will result in a significant contribution towards meeting an EU-imposed target, which commits Britain to producing nearly a third of our electricity from ‘renewables’ within seven years.
At the moment, we produce only a fraction of that figure, way behind almost every other country in the EU.
Despite the huge subsidies that have been spent on wind farms, their contribution is negligible. On one windless day this week, for example, the combined output of the UK’s 4,300 wind turbines was just one thousandth — a mere 29 megawatts — of the electricity we need.
But when Drax has completed its conversion to biomass, it will be capable on its own of generating 3,500 megawatts, reliably and continuously, and contributing more than a quarter of our entire EU target for the use of renewable energy.
Yet the very fact that the Government is so desperate for this switch away from CO2-emitting fossil fuels brings us face to face with another devastating and much more immediate consequence of its energy policy.
This month sees the closure of several of our remaining major coal-fired power stations. Plants such as Kingsnorth in Kent, Didcot A in Oxfordshire and Cockenzie in Scotland (capable of generating nearly 6,000 megawatts a year — a seventh of our average needs) will stop production as a result of an EU anti-pollution directive. This means that, to keep Britain’s lights lit, we’ll soon be more dependent than ever on expensive gas-fired power stations.
The trouble is that our gas supplies are becoming ever more precarious. Only this week we were told that Britain has just two weeks’ worth of gas left in storage — the lowest amount ever.
So quickly have our once-abundant supplies of gas from the North Sea dwindled that we are increasingly dependent on expensive imports from countries such as Qatar and Algeria and, to a lesser extent, Russia — supplies on which we cannot necessarily rely at a time when world demand for gas is rising fast.
Given this fact, it is hardly surprising that Alistair Buchanan, the retiring head of our energy regulator Ofgem, recently warned that our electricity supplies are now running so low and close to ‘danger point’ that we may face major power cuts. Some of us have been warning about this for years, having watched the reckless hi-jacking of our energy policy by the environmentalists’ hostility to fossil fuels.
Crucially, what many people forget is that if we do have major power cuts, this will not be like the ‘three-day weeks’ Britain had to endure in the early Seventies.
Back then, the country managed to get by, as people lived and worked by candlelight or huddled over coal fires. But, today, 40 years on, we live in a world almost wholly dependent on constant supplies of electricity.
Computers power everything from our offices and factories, to cash machines, to the tills and freezers in our supermarkets, to the traffic lights and signalling systems which keep our roads and railways running.
It is all very well for Government ministers to be obsessed with wind farms and other ‘renewable’ energy sources, but the fact is that the wind is often not blowing — so we need the constantly available back-up that will soon only now be available from gas-fired power stations.
And the great irony on top of all this is that gas itself will be subject to that rapidly escalating new carbon tax because, like coal, it is a fossil fuel — although, admittedly, it produces less carbon dioxide when burned.
The result of this dog’s dinner of an energy policy is that, on the one hand we can look forward to ever-soaring energy bills, while on the other hand we will have crippling power cuts.
The tragedy is that, listening to our politicians such as Ed Davey, the Lib Dem Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, it is only too obvious that they haven’t the faintest idea of what they are talking about.
They live in such a la-la land of green make-believe that they no longer connect with reality — and seem unable to comprehend the national energy crisis now heading our way with the speed of a bullet train.
The fact that Drax, our largest and most efficient power station, is having to go through these ridiculous contortions to stay in business is a perfect symbol of the catastrophic mess our politicians of all parties have got us into — all in the name of trying to save the planet by cutting down our emissions of carbon dioxide further and faster than any other country in the world.
Germany, which already has five times as many wind turbines as Britain, is now desperately building 20 new coal-fired stations in the hope of keeping its lights on. The first, opened last September, is already generating 2,200 megawatts; nearly as much as the average output of all of Britain’s wind farms combined.
China, already the world’s largest CO2 emitter, is planning to build 363 more coal-fired power stations, without any heed of the vast amount of emissions they’ll produce.
India is ready to build 455 new coal-fired power stations to fuel an economy growing so fast that it could soon overtake our own.
If these countries deigned to notice what we are up to in Britain, where this week we lost yet another of our handful of remaining coal mines, they might find it difficult to stifle a disbelieving smile.
But the sad truth is that we ourselves should be neither laughing nor crying. We should be rising up to protest, in real anger, at those politicians whose collective flight from reality is fast dragging us towards as damaging a crisis as this country has ever faced.
Conservationists beat Greenies -- after plans to build 430ft wind turbines near historic estate are thrown out
Conservationists scored a major victory over the wind farm lobby yesterday after plans to build giant turbines near one of the nation’s finest surviving Elizabethan gardens were halted.
A High Court judge ruled preserving historic settings was of greater importance than renewable energy targets.
Mrs Justice Lang said the bid to build four 430ft high turbines on farmland owned by the Queen’s cousin the Duke of Gloucester was legally flawed.
She ruled the planning inspector had failed to ‘accord ‘special weight’ or considerable importance to ‘the desirability of preserving the setting’, and said the case must now be reconsidered in light of her judgement.
The case, which was brought by the National Trust and English Heritage, alongside East Northamptonshire Council, was hailed as a significant victory by conservationists, who had warned approval would undermine protection of other historic sites.
The giant turbines at Barnwell Manor, would have overshadowed the historic gardens at Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire. It is described as one of England’s oldest garden landscapes and features an unfinished 17th-century Tudor garden lodge, ‘steeped in Catholic symbolism’.
National Trust director of conservation Peter Nixon, said: ‘Of course we are pleased. The National Trust’s mission is to preserve what is very special to so many people. It is a huge judgement in favour of conserving of our historic landscapes.’ The charity is currently opposing or monitoring around 25 applications for wind farms due to concerns over their impact on the surrounding countryside or heritage sites.
Mr Nixon said yesterday’s ruling would strengthen the Trust’s hand when it came to future opposition. ‘It sends an important signal that area of outstanding beauty or national significance need protecting and are unsuitable for these types of developments,’ he said. ‘Although it is not a legal precedent, this can only help in the context of preservation.’
Earlier this week, the Trust’s chairman Sir Simon Jenkins said communities were complaining on an almost daily basis of a wind farm or housing development proposed in a sensitive landscape.
He said that far from stimulating the economy, the reforms ‘will produce not more housing, but more conflict’ and spark ‘warfare’ in Britain’s countryside.
Plans for the Barnwell Manor wind farm were rejected by the district council in the first instance in 2010, after strong local opposition. But the developers appealed and in March last year public inquiry inspector Paul Griffiths allowed its construction.
The inspector said he recognised the case had wide implications for listed buildings and conservation areas, but said the Government’s green targets - to produce 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 - must come first.
Yesterday, Mrs Justice Lang ruled the inspector had failed to ‘properly interpret and apply the relevant planning policies on the effect of development on the setting of heritage sites’ and quashed the decision.
She said the planning inspector was wrong to treat the ‘”harm” to the setting and the wider benefit of the wind farm proposal as if those two factors were of equal importance.’
Reacting to the ruling, English Heritage chief executive Simon Thurley said: ‘We are very pleased with the judgment. We brought our joint challenge because we felt the planning inspector’s decision did not strike a proper balance between the conservation of outstandingly important historic sites and wind energy.
‘The effect of the proposed turbines on one of the most important, beautiful and unspoilt Elizabethan landscapes in England would be appalling.’
While Europe Goes Green, Russia Muscles In On Mediterranean Gas Boom
A new deal by Russia’s Gazprom energy giant to market Israeli liquefied natural gas puts Moscow firmly in the burgeoning and contentious east Mediterranean energy sector, and shows that it’s again emerging as a player in the strategic region.
The 20-year LNG contract between Gazprom subsidiary Gazprom Marketing and Trading Switzerland and Levant LNG Marketing Corp. also provides a major boost for Russia’s drive to rebuild its Cold War influence in the Middle East that collapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union.
The deal, signed Feb. 26, is a direct consequence of a ground-breaking visit to Israel, the United States’ most valuable strategic ally in the region, by Russian President Vladimir Putin last June.
With U.S. interest in the Middle East seemingly diminishing, in part because of vast shale oil and natural gas deposits that lessen dependence on Persian Gulf oil, Putin clearly has ambitions of filling the vacuum.
“The Bill Clinton-era in the geopolitics of Caspian energy, which ran through the George W. Bush presidency, imbued with a great sense of rivalry over Russia’s status as an energy powerhouse, is giving way,” said veteran Indian analyst M.K. Bhadrakumar.
“This is one of the messages to be pulled from the … 20-year deal for Israel’s Tamar offshore gas field in the Mediterranean.
“Without doubt, the Tamar deal rewrites the ABC of the geopolitics of energy security,” Bhadrakumar wrote in an Asia Times Online analysis.
“This is an important milestone for strengthening Gazprom’s position in the global LNG market” and in particular “Gazprom’s hand in the booming Asian LNG market.”
The Tamar field, discovered in 2009, contains an estimated 9 trillion cubic feet of gas. Together with the smaller Dalit offshore field nearby, it constitutes the Tamar LNG Project due to be commissioned in 2017.
It’s expected to produce around 3 million metric tons of LNG a year.
This will likely involve an $8 billion floating LNG terminal, probably off Cyprus, that will also funnel gas from the island’s Aphrodite field, still being developed but thought to contain at least 7 tcf, for export.
Moscow’s also seeking partnerships with the Greek-controlled sector of Cyprus, and has provided a three-year, $3.5 billion loan to help it avoid economic meltdown after the collapse of the Greek economy.
The Greek Cypriots have approached the Kremlin for another $5 billion and may well get it because they share the Orthodox faith.
Moscow, which has long had close banking ties with Greek Cyprus, also sees the island, divided since a 1974 Turkish invasion, as a future regional energy power, just as it does Israel.
Moscow, which has little time for the Turks who are trying to block the Greek Cypriots’ gas bonanza, is thus maneuvering to get a slice of the Israel-Cyprus action.
It’s clearly anticipating Israel’s largest offshore field, Leviathan, with an estimated 25 tcf of gas, coming onstream in a couple of years.
But there’s a wider, and infinitely richer, energy bonanza developing in the region.
Lebanon, whose waters border both those of Israel and Cyprus, is expected to start issuing tenders to international companies to explore its maritime exclusive economic zone.
Seismic surveys of its southern sector, which overlaps Israel’s Leviathan, indicate reserves of at least 7 tcf, with further deposits in the north for a possible total of 25 tcf.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the Levant Basin, encompassing Syria, Lebanon. Cyprus, Israel and the Gaza Strip, contains 123 tcf of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.
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Posted by JR at 5:58 PM