Monday, April 29, 2013

Greenhouse gas levels highest in 3m years

And yet temperatures are not rising!  Funny, that!

Carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere are on the cusp of reaching 400 parts per million for the first time in 3 million years.

The daily CO2 level, measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, was 399.72 parts per million last Thursday, and a few hourly readings had risen to more than 400 parts per million.

''I wish it weren't true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400 ppm level without losing a beat,'' said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US, which operates the Hawaiian observatory.

The 450 ppm level is considered to be the point at which the world has a 50 per cent chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. Any higher and the odds of avoiding searing temperature rises of 4 or 5 degrees by the end of the century become prohibitively risky.

The rise in greenhouse gases corresponds with the extra amount of CO2 known to have been emitted by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests. More greenhouse gases means more heat builds up at the Earth's surface.

The last time CO2 reached the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere - in the Pliocene era - temperatures rose by between 3 and 4 degrees and sea levels were between five and 40 metres higher than today. Carbon dioxide levels have been rising steadily since constant measurements began at the Hawaiian observatory in 1958, when the level was about 317 parts per million.

Levels of more than 400 parts per million have been recorded at a few polar monitoring stages in the past year but the Mauna Loa Observatory readings are considered the most definitive.


British Ministers 'not totally committed' on carbon

A parliamentary advisory committee has accused the Government of being only "half-committed" to low-carbon energy generation, warning that the UK is likely to miss emissions reduction targets as a result.

David Kennedy, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said Britain needs a huge investment in renewable, or clean, power infrastructure if it is to hit its target of a 50 per cent cut in CO2 emissions by 2025 on 1990 levels.

Emissions are currently a fifth lower than in 1990. While the recession has caused emissions to fall, the underlying trend in CO2 output is flat when it should be declining, Mr Kennedy said. "We won't be able to meet that target without significant measures – and they have to be taken now if it's going to happen by the mid-2020s."

He said potential investors in low-carbon energy – from wind-turbine blade makers to nuclear-power project developers – "need to know there is a market" for clean power. Unless they are confident about their likely returns – for example through guaranteed subsidies and the Government's commitment to hitting renewable energy targets – they are unwilling to risk investment.

"We don't know how the low-carbon technology market will look in the 2020s because the Government will not commit, and that uncertainty is stopping investment," Mr Kennedy added. "The Government is only half-committed to the future, and that is the worst of all worlds. This report reinforces the fact that there is a lot more to do to reduce our footprint, and the Government should not be patting itself on the back."

The CCC has published a report showing that Britain's carbon footprint has grown by 10 per cent in the past two decades, as a rapid rise in CO2 emissions generated by making the UK's imports outweighed reductions in those produced in this country.

Britain is the second biggest net importer of carbon emissions, after Japan, because much of its manufacturing industry has moved abroad.


British big brother to switch off your fridge: Power giants to make millions - but you must pay for 'sinister' technology

Fridges and freezers in millions of British homes will automatically be switched off without the owner’s consent under a ‘Big Brother’ regime to reduce the strain on power stations.

The National Grid is demanding that all new appliances be fitted with sensors that could shut them down when the UK’s generators struggle to meet demand for electricity.

Electric ovens, air-conditioning units and washing machines will also be affected  by the proposals, which are already backed by one of the European Union’s most influential energy bodies. They are pushing for the move as green energy sources such as wind farms are less predictable than traditional power stations, increasing the risk  of blackouts.

Last night critics:

*    Condemned the principle that outside forces should be allowed to control appliances.

*   Warned the new sensors would add £40 to the average price of white goods for consumers.

*   Hit out at the energy giants who would make millions of pounds extra profit under the scheme, as it would save them from firing up reserve generators or paying  factories to switch off furnaces to quell demand. There is no suggestion that consumers will be compensated for having their appliances shut down.

The sensors will automatically detect spikes in demand for power that the grid is struggling to  meet, and temporarily shut off  the appliances.

Viktor Sundberg, energy strategy manager at Electrolux, warned: ‘This is Big Brother technology on a grand scale. The device inside the fridge or freezer will automatically change the way the appliance operates in response to the output of the grid.

‘This method of shutting down household appliances could to be carried out almost instantly, saving the energy companies millions because they won’t have to start up the turbines or pay huge industrial companies to cut production. Consumers are not benefiting at all and will be left paying more when they buy the appliances, as well as having their private goods controlled by outside forces.’

David Davis, the former Tory leadership candidate, said: ‘There is a Big Brother element to this – and it also shows the energy suppliers passing down their incompetence to the customers. They should be supplying energy as customers need it, not the when they want to give it.

‘There is something Soviet about this. It’s a ridiculous idea and it should be opposed. I hope the Government puts its foot down.’

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This sinister plan smacks of over- the-top intrusion into people’s houses. It should be the choice of consumers  if they want to sign up to it, not slipped into our homes through fridges  and freezers.’

The  National Grid – a private company that made £2.6 billion profit in 2011 – is required by law to balance supply and demand in the network.

However the EU has set a target that 20 per cent of all electricity will be generated from green sources by 2012 – but these are unreliable, making the task more difficult.

The solution proposed by the National Grid, along with its counterparts in 34 European countries, is to install the controversial devices.

The National Grid supplies alternating current to homes at 240V and an frequency of 50 hertz (Hz). But because electricity cannot be stored in bulk, there are fluctuations in this.

When demand starts to outstrip supply, the frequency drops – when there  is more power than needed, it rises.

Sensors in domestic appliances would check this frequency every 0.2 seconds, and if it fell to 47Hz – a level that would risk blackouts – the devices would kick in and shut fridges, freezers and ovens down. Across millions of homes, this would cut demand significantly and so restore the balance.

Presently, the National Grid can shut down power to industrial firms to balance the grid. They are compensated in such cases, but there is no proposal to pay consumers if they face similar interruptions

The sensors could also be used if supply of electricity outstripped demand, putting power stations in danger of ‘tripping’ and shutting down temporarily. If the frequency of the supply nudged towards 52Hz, the devices could make fridges become cooler, increasing demand and balancing out the system.

The move comes on top of separate initiatives to put ‘smart meters’  for gas and electricity in all British homes by 2019, giving energy firms real-time information on individual households’ usage.

The proposals were contained in a 63-page document drawn up by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E). It has been agreed by the EU-wide body of energy regulators and was sent to the European Commission on March 27.

It is set to deliver its verdict on the proposals within three months, and they could then go to the European Parliament to be turned into legislation that would force manufacturers to install the monitors.

Appliances containing the sensors could be in shops within three years.

In its proposal, ENTSO-E stressed that shutting off appliances would only be a last resort, but admitted it could happen.

It argued: ‘The accumulated effect of switching off a large number of temperature-controlled devices will give a substantial reduction of load in the system.

‘In this way it should be able to prevent ..... large scale blackouts.’

The authorities insist appliances would only cut out for a few seconds, and that consumers will be able to set acceptable temperature ranges so fridges would not be switched off if they were already warm, and therefore food would remain fresh. But if ovens are switched off temporarily, it could affect the cooking time of meals.

Presently, the National Grid can shut down power to industrial firms to balance the grid. They are compensated in such cases, but there is no proposal to pay consumers if they face similar interruptions.

Experts believe household bills would not be affected because the scheme would just alter the time at which appliances are used, not their total energy consumption.

Adam Scorer, of Consumer Focus UK, said: ‘There is a lot more work that needs to be done before these proposals become acceptable for consumers. The costs and benefits need to be clear, the right consumer protections in place, people’s privacy assured and arrangements made so that consumers get paid for any services they provide to networks.’

Consumer groups throughout Europe have expressed ‘serious concern’ in a letter to ENTSO-E.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change admitted last night that the Government was unsure how the new technology would work.

He said: ‘There could be benefits to consumers, it could open up  new ways to save on energy bills, but we also need to consider all other factors before responding to the Commission.’

A spokesman for National Grid said: ‘One of the proposed requirements is for a limited number of [future] temperature controlled devices such as fridges and freezers to have the capability to assist  the real time balancing of electricity supply and demand by automatically switching off devices for  short durations.

‘This should result in benefits to consumers as it will lead to a reduced requirement for additional back-up electricity sources.

‘It will have no material impact on the operation of fridges and freezers switching will be for a few  seconds and only occasionally.  ‘Consumers’ produce will remain cool in their fridges and frozen in their freezers.’


Brainwashed Berkeley senior  student shows appalling ignorance in her Global Warming Essay

But that's UCB

Every now and again, magazines and papers will let some enthusiastic young writer loose on the burning issues of the day. Kind of a “voice of the future” thing. Of course, the essays submitted are almost always excruciating; full of wild generalisations, logical fallacies, and naive suggestions of the “Why don’t we just make everything better?” variety, as though no one had ever thought of that before. A recent op-ed in The Daily Californian by Cody Dunitz, a senior at UC Berkeley, provides an instructive glimpse into how the global warming propaganda campaign has succeeded in foisting some dubious claims on to unquestioning young students.

Cody’s thesis is that global warming presents an imminent threat to the food supply because – get this – global warming is making winters warmer. “Sure, it’s nice that it’s sunny and warm in the winter now,” she argues, “but global climate change is negatively affecting agriculture around the world”. And for Californians that means warm winters where pests aren’t killed off, according to Cody.

Fact Check: as the UN’s FAO reported recently, it is expecting a “record wheat harvest” this year, and notes that prices for grains and sugar are “plummeting” because of availability.

Fact Check: As The Huffington Post reported, Californians have been shivering through  ”very unseasonable freezing temperatures”. Outside of heated university dorms, it was a cold winter for most of California.

She warns that one result of the warmer winters caused by global warming is increased pesticide use as farmers battle an increase in pests. These pesticides, she tells us, “can stay on food even once they have reached the grocery store, may cause people to become sick”.

Fact Check: Recent figures from California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation show that none of the samples of fruit and vegetables had dangerous levels of pesticide residue. In fact, most fruit and veg checked had “no detectable pesticide residues” at all! So even if you subscribe to the “run to the hills” branch of pesticide scaremongering, you can’t argue that there’s a problem when the latest liquid chromatography mass spectrometry techniques show no pesticide residue whatsoever.

But (non-existent) pesticide residues are only one of Cody’s concerns. There’s the threat that global warming poses to the cherry supply for one. Oh yes. And avacodos, almonds, and even potatoes -

    "Do you like cherries? Well, get ready to kiss their juicy deliciousness goodbye. You see, cherries need time to chill in order to grow. And to chill, they of course need cold weather. Since temperatures have grown warmer, there has been less chill time for cherries. This means that cherries have not been growing as well. If this continues, it could severely deplete the cherry supply. And no cherries to grow means no cherries for us to eat . . .

    In California alone, the amount of almonds, walnuts, grapes and avocados are predicted to decrease significantly because of climate change. And not only that, scientists say that the crop yield for almost every single crop grown in California’s Central Valley will plummet nearly 30 percent in the near future."

I’m not even sure what to say about this. Cherries are going to disappear because of global warming? Then how was it that last year was a “bumper harvest” for cherry growers in Queensland, Australia, where the average winter temperature is around 86 Fahrenheit? Some varieties of cherry need a chill in the winter, some don’t. But cherries are grown all around the world, even in semi-tropical areas which don’t have a “winter” to speak of at all

In response to the demise of the cherry, and the reduction of other crops by a third “in the near future” Cody says that there are no easy solutions. She recommends only buying local food rather than those “vine-ripened tomatoes from Mexico”.

Fact Check: Even the Worldwatch Institute notes that local food isn’t more environmentally friendly than food shipped in. This is because the final delivery from the producer or packer to the supermarket or store accounts for a very low percentage of greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production – around 4% according to a study by Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews, of Carnegie Mellon University.

So local food isn’t going to help, contrary to what our eager young correspondent asserts. But not to worry, because buying local food was only the first part of her prescription. The kind of action Cody really wants to encourage in her readers is “getting involved in your local climate change organization, educating yourself on agricultural policies, voting for change and emailing your congressional representative to let them know you care about our food”.

So, after all the wild claims, the unfounded assertions about disappearing cherries, after all that, the only real, tangible idea Ms Dunitz has is to join a local global warming group, “vote for change” (whatever could that mean?) and writing to politicians to tell them that you care about food (I’m sure they’ll be fascinated). In short, this is about pushing a political ideology under the guise of environmental urgency.

Don’t mistake me: I’m absolutely sure that Ms Dunitz earnestly believes that she’s advocating for the environment. What this undergraduate essay shows is the way in which global warming is a political and cultural ideology, not a scientific theory, for those who espouse concern over it. It’s become a meme, an idea that is self-replicating, being used to draw impressionable young people into a set of political beliefs and ideas which don’t stand up even judged by their own claims.

In summary, then, this is the result of allowing activism into academia and the classroom, of allowing organisations to push simplistic messages of environmental catastrophe to trusting children. Dunitz’s essays shows no critical thinking at all. There’s no questioning of what she’s obviously been told, or imbibed from pamphlets and websites of climate change groups, no grappling with the issues. Instead, there’s a loose handful of vague suggestions such as buying fair-trade bananas (from the Carribean or Africa one assumes, both thousands of miles away) and not tomatoes from Mexico, literally just across the border from California. More critical thinking needed, less unquestioning acceptance of what lobby groups and well-funded organisations spoon-feed you.


From Hunters & Fishermen to Greenies on Earth Day: “You’re Quite Welcome!”

“More than four decades after the first Earth Day,” declared President Obama in an address this week, “millions of Americans have answered the call to protect the environment. Today, let us do so again by joining together, raising our voices, and standing up for our planet and our future.”

But only last week, when millions of these very Americans “raised their voices,” an angry President Obama insulted them as “willful liars.” I refer, of course, to the defeat of the President’s pet gun-control bill at the hands of the so-called gun-lobby, made up (mostly, but not exclusively) of American sportsmen.

During his first presidential campaign Obama insulted many of these Americans as bitter yahoos who “cling to guns and bibles.”

Now stand back for an item willfully unknown or willfully ignored, by greenie-granola types:

For the last couple of decades hunters and fishermen have contributed over $1.5 billion per year towards environmental protection in the most genuine sense. To date, hunters and fisherpersons have shelled out over $20 billion for this worthy cause. A study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that for every taxpayer dollar invested in wildlife conservation, American hunters and fishermen contribute nine.

The Pittman-Robertson Act (1937), you see, imposed an excise tax of 10 per cent on all hunting gear. Then the Dingell-Johnson act (1950) did the same for fishing gear. The Wallop-Breaux amendment (1984) extended the tax to the fuel for boats. All of this lucre goes to “protect the environment” in the form of buying and maintaining National Wildlife Refuges, along with state programs for buying and maintaining various forms of wildlife habitat.

So please note: to "preserve nature," they don’t tax Birkenstock hiking boots and Ying-Yang pendants – but do tax my shotgun. They don’t tax Yoga manuals and Tofu tid-bits wrapped in recycled paper – but do tax my 30.06 deer rifle. They don’t tax binoculars or birding Field Guides with cutesy photos of the red-cockaded woodpecker and spotted Owl – but do tax the shotgun shells I blast at Mallards before arraying on my grill as Duck-K-Bobs (cooked rare and lovingly basted with plenty of butter, Cajun seasoning and teriyaki sauce).

Going further, they don’t tax Kayaks and rock climbing picks and ropes – but do tax my compound bow and rifle scope. They don’t tax the plastic water bottles on Mountain bikes (or the mountain bike itself, come to think of it) or the cutesy spandex shorts these yo-yos wear – but do tax my duck decoys and camo pants. They don’t tax Yanni and Enya CDs – but do tax the arrows I fling at Bambi before he sizzles on my grill as Bambi-burger (lovingly draped with thick bacon slices that dribble their appetizing fat into the meat while cooking. Then a chunk of cheddar cheese melted on top.)

You talk about a "Cheeseburger in Paradise," Jimmy Buffet! Try one from Bambi!

Ten cents of every dollar I spent on my hunting and fishing toys (I'd cite the total but my wife might read this) funds Federal and State "conservation" programs. From my guns and ammo to my duck calls and decoys, from my rods and reels to my lures and gaffs, from my trolling motor to the very fuel for my outboard – ten cents of every dollar in this ghastly expenditure funds habitat for Spotted Owls, Red Cockaded Woodpeckers, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Manatees, Snail darters, Black-Footed Ferrets, California Condors, Florida Panthers and Sea Otters.

None of these creatures (from what I hear) make a decent Gumbo or even a passable Chili. I must be crazy. But I have no choice. And this avalanche of tax dollars comes on top of those I fork over for the stacks of licenses, and permits, and stamps I'm required to have before I set a foot afield or set my boat afloat. Last season these totaled $500. (But sweetie! There are huge fines for hunting and fishing without them!)

And all the above is on top of my voluntary dues and assorted donations to such as Ducks Unlimited. (But snookums! I thought you loved the duck print I brought home at 2: 45 AM from the DU Banquet/auction? And especially the picture of me with the nice Hooters girl who worked the keg in her camo bikini?) According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation these donations to such as DU, Pheasants Forever, etc. total $300 million a year.

As mentioned, just last year, hunters and fishermen (not birdwatchers, not rock-climbers, not kayakers, not nature-hikers) "contributed" $1.5 billion "big ones" “dollarinies,” “donuts” (to quote Steve Martin as The Jerk) to purchase and maintain places for greenie-weenies to frolic and nature-watch.

You'd think some thanks might be in order from these freeloaders – from the smarmy crowd not forced to buy any "Bird-Watching stamp" or "Hiking stamp," or "Kayaking stamp", or "Rock Climbing Stamp," or Yanni-Listening Stamp," or "Quartz-Crystal-Gazing-Stamp." You'd think Tofu-munchers might appreciate us hunters' funding habitat for their spotted owls, kangaroo rats, snail darters and louseworts, and bankrolling the scenery on their "nature trails" as they self-righteously plod along in their "earth-friendly" Birkenstocks and granola-flecked frocks., quartz crystals rattling in their pockets en route to a hillside Sunrise worship, crystal-gaze and Enya-listen.

We pay our way – in fact, we pay the hikers and bird-watchers way too. But rather than going afield as passive voyeurs, rather than regarding nature as a Disney cartoon, we accept nature's diktats. We revel in our role as full-fledged participants in her cycle of fang and claw (but add bullets, buckshot, broadheads, treble hooks and gaffs to the primal drama.)

You'd think the voyeurs might throw us a bone every now and then? Well, think again. Here's the Sierra Club's official position: "Wild animals should not be valued principally in terms of whether they can serve as targets. As members of the family of life, we should respect the moral right of all creatures to exist, to be free of unnecessary predation.”

Good because my family and friends regard my predation as absolutely necessary-- for family meals and dinner parties (Gumbo, steaks, burgers, nachos, fajitas, Chili, Po-boys, and on, and on…)

Anyway, you’re quite welcome, Greenies!


A fevered Leftist imagination: 'Capitalism is trying to kill the planet, but the people are rising up’

From the Socialist Worker:

    "Among them was the first featured speaker, Jill Stein, the Greens’ presidential candidate in 2012. “This is an incredible outpouring of support of those not going forward with Obama, but forward with the 99 Percent for system change and fundamental justice,” she said. “Capitalism is trying to kill the planet, but the people are rising up.”

    Her remarks reflected the view of many participants that organizers of the February 17 mass demonstration had weakened the protest’s impact by presenting it as an expression of support for Obama, echoing his “forward” and “clean energy” slogans, for example. As several speakers noted, the Democratic administration now seems very likely to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

    The February 17 action thus showed both the power of environmental protest and the futility of relying on the Democrats. As Jill Stein said, “The demonstration told Obama, ‘We’ve got your back,’ and then he stabbed us in the back.”




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


No comments: