Monday, April 08, 2013

The Terminator terminates the facts

Schwarzenegger: ‘Over the last 100 years, sea levels have risen about 7 inches’ in SanFran Bay; Reality: No sea level rise in last 70 years

Arnold needs to stop reading the propaganda and get some facts.  In his LATimes op-ed, Ah-nold says:

"This report spells out many other negative effects that rising temperatures will cause in California. Over the last 100 years, sea levels have risen about 7 inches, and the San Francisco Bay Area is already feeling the effects. A sewage system there was flooded with saltwater, and the 101 Freeway has seen flooding. This isn’t a distant threat."

Check out the data for yourself. Show us the sea-level rise.


A brief on the canard that Warmists are more credible because they have out-published skeptics

Warmist Greg Laden offers this graphic to marginalize confidence in climate skeptics:

[The author of the graphic can't even spell "consensus".  The URL for the graphic names it as "global warming concensus".  Warmists are not the best of minds -- JR]

Without quibbling about precise numbers, why has comparatively little research been published by skeptics?

1. No government funding. With few exceptions (Spencer and Christy come to mind), the federal government (the overwhelmingly largest funder of climate research) doesn’t fund skeptics. But it has funded warmism to the tune of tens of billions of dollars since at least the Clinton administration. Without money and access to expensive data and instruments, original climate research is nearly impossible.

2. Journal bias. Many (most? virtually all?) relevant journals refuse to publish skeptics — even letters to the editor. Indeed the publishers of these journals (like the NAS, AAAS and Nature publishing) are highly partisan when it comes to climate research.

3. Warmist-enforced journal bias. As discussed here, journals are policed by warmists such as Michael Mann to make sure that skeptics aren’t published. Those that dare to publish skeptics are targeted and punished.

4.Being a skeptic is a career damaging. If you want to end your career as a climate researcher, announce your skepticism. This is most likely the case because of #1. If the only significant funder of climate research favors warmism, then that’s what you do (or at least your institution will, with or without you). Consider how Penn State was willing to degrade itself to keep its cash cow (Michael Mann).

Why doesn’t it matter that skeptics have published many fewer papers?

Just like you don’t need to be Steven Spielberg to figure out whether a movie is any good, you don’t need to be a professional climate researcher to figure out that, say, the hockey stick is hokey. As long as science is not a black box (which is what Mann’s hokey stick was until McIntyre and McKitrick began their work), it can be evaluated.


From what I can see, ALL academic fields are clubs of the like-minded that adamantly reject anything that might seriously question the accepted ideas.  To do otherwise would damage too many childish egos -- JR

Smart Money Abandoning Renewable Energy

British Petroleum is still one of the world’s biggest oil companies. But as early as the late 1990’s they didn’t want you think of them that way. CEO Lord John Browne of Madingley argued that “the transition to alternatives could be accelerated by changing industry practices today.” While other oil companies eschewed climate change alarmism, BP embraced it. In 2002, Lord Browne declared: “Climate change is an issue which raises fundamental questions about the relationship between companies and society as a whole, and between one generation and the next,”

As a result, Mother Jones reported in 2006: “BP vowed to cut its own CO2 emissions and invest heavily in solar, wind, and other alternative technologies; it even supported … the Kyoto climate treaty.”

BP jumped into renewables and their moniker underwent an evolution from British Petroleum to BP, then to Beyond Petroleum. Between 2000 and 2005 BP invested $500 million into solar power and $30 million on wind and have invested more than $4 billion in alternative energy in the US since 2005. At the time, according to the Wall Street Journal, BP turned a profit on its solar business but not on wind. In 2005, Browne “decided that the energy giant should enter unknown territories of wind, solar and hydrogen power” which began a “re-branding” designed to “capture public affection” by positioning “themselves as environmentally friendly enterprises.”

The switch seemed to be sound strategy. ExxonMobil didn’t agree.

Comments from a 2008 blog post on ExxonMobil’s position as “obstructive over climate change” included the following: “Given that oil isn’t going to last a whole heck of a lot longer, would not a good business strategy be to start investing in renewable energy?” and “Just from a corporate survival perspective, better start learning, and fast. Carbon is the low-hanging energy fruit and soon to become an economic dead end. What company wants to keep going down a dead end?” BP thought it was “prudent to start diversifying now as a kind of insurance policy.”

ExxonMobil took a different course. In 2005, then-CEO Lee Raymond, said: “What all these people are thinking about doing, we did 20 years ago—and spent $1 billion, in dollars of that day, to find out that none of these were economic.” “In the late 1970s, as oil prices skyrocketed, Exxon diversified into an array of fossil-fuel alternatives, including nuclear and solar energy.” “After several years, Exxon still couldn't see prospects for renewable energy turning into a money-maker, especially since oil prices were falling in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the company decided to get out of the business.”

Raymond had “an unabashed skepticism about the potential of alternative energy sources like wind and solar.” He saw “Spending shareholders’ money to diversify into businesses that aren't yet profitable—and that aim to solve a problem his scientists believe may not be significant” as “a sloppy way to run a company.”

Wall Street agreed. According to Mother Jones, in 2006, Wall Street “worried that even a small increase in investment in non-oil alternatives would distract BP’s focus from its core business—oil.” Commentators and analysts began mocking BP as being “Beyond Profits.”

Yet, critics of Exxon’s approach, in 2008, feared “that the company’s reluctance to explore alternative energy will prove to be bad business judgment in the long run.”

Andrew Logan of Ceres, a Boston-based environmental group, sees two possible scenarios: “One is that all the scientists in the world are wrong, in which case there’s no climate change, in which case Exxon will do well.” He then says: “But if the scientists are correct and we have to find a way to transform the way we use energy, then Exxon is going to lag significantly behind its competitors.”

It is obvious now, nearly a decade later, which was the sound strategy. Global warming is not the manmade crisis it was predicted to be in the mid-2000s and we know that oil is “going to last a whole heck of a lot longer.” Today, innovation and imagination are producing record quantities of domestically produced oil and gas. Robert Bryce reports: “we won’t hit peak oil until we hit peak imagination.” And, Exxon’s Raymond made the right choice to get out of renewable energy.

On April 3, BP announced that it was selling its US wind assets—estimated to be worth $1.5-3.1 billion. The announcement stated that BP has decided sell the US wind energy business “as a part of our continuing effort to … re-position the company for sustainable growth” and that it would “unlock more value for shareholders.”

In a speech in late 2012, BP’s general manager for global energy markets, Mark Finley, praised the rapid growth of renewable energy—claiming it had increased by 18% last year, “the tenth year in a row for double-digit growth.” Though, he acknowledged that “renewables make up such a small slice of the world’s energy portfolio now—only about 2%—that even at such a blistering growth rate they are unlikely to significantly displace fossil fuels in the next two decades.”

Addressing renewables growth, Finley said it was happening “most typically in places where the governments can afford the subsidies needed to help these fuels compete. The key challenge going forward is: when things grow fast, subsidies get expensive fast. So can these forms of energy achieve economies of scale that will allow them to compete without subsidies?”

“That is the real question.”

Yes, that is the real question, and apparently, BP got the answer. Without subsidies, renewables cannot compete—BP is bailing. Addressing wind energy’s future, Amy Grace, a New York-based analyst at New Energy Finance, said: “There’s limited visibility beyond 2014 about what the assets will be worth as a tax credit supporting turbines is set to expire at the end of this year.”

Additionally, having now actually lived with the presence of industrial wind turbines, people no longer want them “imposed on their communities.” On April 4, the Falmouth, MA, Board of Selectmen and the Falmouth Finance Committee held a joint meeting and unanimously stood by the selectmen’s prior vote to remove the town’s wind turbines. Residents say: “they're suffering headaches, dizziness and sleep deprivation and often seek to escape the property where they've lived for more than 20 years."


British bird charity makes a killing... from windfarm giants behind turbines accused of destroying rare birds

The RSPB is making hundreds of thousands of pounds from the wind power industry – despite the turbines killing millions of birds every year.

Golden eagles, hen harriers, Corn Buntings and other rare and threatened species are especially at risk, conservationists say.

Yet in its latest ‘partnership deal’, the bird charity receives £60 for every member who signs up to a dual-fuel account with windfarm developer Ecotricity.

It also receives £40 each time  a customer opens an account  with Triodos Bank, which finances renewable industry projects including wind turbines.

In a previous partnership with Southern & Scottish Electricity (SSE), which invests in wind and other renewable energy, the RSPB admits to having made £1 million over ten years.

The charity claims that windfarms play an important role in the battle against climate change, which ‘poses the single greatest long-term threat to birds and other wildlife’, and that wind turbines caused only ‘significant detrimental effects’ when poorly sited.

But critics argue there is no such thing as a well-sited windfarm and that the charity has been taken over by green zealots.

Conservationist Mark Duchamp, whose international charity Save  The Eagles monitors bird deaths caused by wind farms, said: ‘The fact that such an organisation [the RSPB] is not taking this problem seriously is scandalous.

'They are supposed to  protect birds. Instead they are advocating on behalf of an industry which kills birds. What could be more wrong and absurd than that?’

Dr John Etherington, former reader in ecology at the University of Wales and author of The Wind Farm Scam, said: ‘It seems to me that for some time now a green faction has penetrated a whole range of bodies and that the RSPB is one of them.

‘For an organisation that supposedly protects birds to team up with an industry that kills birds on the basis of unverifiable predictive models about climate change is just bizarre.

‘We are many years into discovering that these bloody machines kill birds in large numbers. Why is the RSPB still sticking up for them?’

Some members have complained that the RSPB isn’t nearly as active  as it ought to be in fighting turbine applications – even in sites of ornithological value.

‘Instead of giving the turbine people hell, they usually end up giving them the green light,’ said Peter Shrubb, an RSPB member of  30 years, who is particularly appalled by the organisation’s plans to erect a 330ft turbine at its own headquarters in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

As an example of the danger, two hen harriers were killed by turbine blades in April last year at the Griffin windfarm at Aberfeldy in Scotland, run by the RSPB’s former partner SSE.

The charity waited eight months to announce the news but made no criticism of its former partner. Instead it said: ‘It is important to remember that climate change still poses one of the biggest threats to birds and other wildlife.’

It added that ‘windfarm collisions ...... remain very rare indeed’.

BUT according to research  by the ornithological society SEO/Birdlife, each wind  turbine kills between 110 and 330 birds a year.

This means that worldwide, wind turbines kill at least 22 million birds  a year.

The RSPB has disputed these figures, insisting: ‘Our own research suggests that a well-located wind farm is unlikely to be causing birds any harm.’

A spokesman for Ecotricity said that at one of its test sites near the Bristol Channel, the turbines had killed no more than four birds in five years.

Conservationists claim the wind industry has a vested interest in  covering up the true extent of bird deaths.

Wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand recently wrote that the industry has known since the early Eighties that ‘propeller-style turbines’ could never be safe for birds of prey.

Mr Wiegand added: ‘With exposed blade tips spinning in open space  at up to 200mph, it was impossible. Wind developers also knew they would have a public-relations nightmare if people ever learned how many eagles are actually being cut in half.

'To hide this awful truth, strict windfarm  operating guidelines were established – including high security, gag orders in leases and other agreements, and the prevention of accurate, meaningful mortality studies.’

Anecdotal evidence from the US and Australia also suggests that windfarm operators often hide the bodies of dead birds in order to avoid being fined

Another trick, described by Wiegand, is for windfarm developers to confine their searches to limited areas directly below the wind turbines – leading to official body counts that grossly underestimate the true extent of bird mortality.

‘Wind turbines are always going to kill a disproportionately high number of birds of prey because they tend to be built in areas – uplands, mainly – where the best thermals are: in other words where the birds hover, perch and feed,’ said ecologist Clive Hambler, lecturer in biological and human sciences at Hertford College, Oxford.

The RSPB has objected to only six per cent of all new windfarm developments. But the charity’s conservation director Martin Harper claims it will always fight windfarm developments where birds are particularly threatened.

Henry Thoresby, an ornithologist who has fought several  turbine applications, said that in his experience the RSPB is far too quick to withdraw its objections.


New EPA Rules Won't Help Environment, May Raise Gas Prices, Industry Says

New regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at eliminating sulfur emissions from cars and light trucks would have little benefit for the environment and could raise gas prices, according to a study produced for the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Conducted by the energy consulting firm Environ International, the study finds that EPA’s new rule would have little impact on the environment.

“Simply put, as proposed, the Tier 3 regulation will impose significant costs on making gasoline.  And a study we commissioned by the environmental consulting group Environ concludes that ozone benefits touted by EPA would be only marginal at best,” API Group Director for Downstream and Industry Operations Bob Greco said on a conference call Thursday.

The regulations – published March 29 – call for the near elimination of sulfur from gasoline used in cars and light-duty trucks, cutting it from 30 parts-per-million (ppm) to 10 ppm by 2017.

EPA claims that the new standards, known as Tier 3, would save lives and clean up the environment.

“Over 158 million Americans are currently experiencing unhealthy levels of air pollution which are linked with adverse health impacts such as hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and premature mortality,” EPA said in its regulatory announcement.

“By 2030, the Tier 3 standards would annually prevent: Between 820 and 2,400 premature deaths; 3,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits; 22,000 asthma exacerbations; 23,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms in children; 1.8 million lost school days, work days and minor-restricted activities.”

API, which represents all sectors of the petroleum industry, disputes EPA’s claims of environmental benefits, saying that because the reduction in sulfur content is so low, the environmental benefits will be few and the cost could be high.

“EPA’s new Tier 3 gasoline proposal is a prime example of what happens when regulators ignore facts and hard science,” Greco said Thursday.

The Environ study modeled the effect on the atmosphere from the EPA’s 10 ppm sulfur standard, which it called LEV [Low-Emission Vehicle] III, finding very little positive impact even during summertime, when air pollution is at its worst.

“[N]ationwide implementation of more stringent LDV [light duty vehicle] emissions standards similar to LEV along with further reductions in gasoline sulfur content would yield only very small additional improvements in 2022 summertime ozone concentrations,” the study found.

In other words, the study found that overall there would be only a 0.7 percent reduction in peak air pollution from implementing the stricter sulfur standards.

API said that if EPA further strengthens regulations – adding a proposed vapor pressure reduction requirement – it could result in as much as a $0.25 per gallon increase in the cost of gasoline. Vapor pressure determines the volatility of gasoline and is regulated to control how quickly it evaporates to control emissions.

API’s Greco said that Americans should not have to bear the cost of EPA’s poorly-designed regulations, no matter how well intentioned they might be.

“Americans shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of EPA regulations that lack a basis in science and will, at best, yield negligible environmental benefits,” he said. “These rules typify a troubling disconnect between EPA’s regulatory agenda and the everyday reality of America’s energy consumers.”


Europe’s Cap-And-Trade: ‘A Big Flop’

Europe's cap-and-trade system for reducing the release of greenhouse gases is broken, but not everybody wants to fix it. Industry has profited immensely from the plummeting prices of CO2 emissions certificates, and from lax checks on questionable environmental projects undertaken overseas.

Saving the climate? It doesn't seem all that difficult at first glance. All you have to do is fly from Germany to Zambia once in a while, as the German energy giant RWE's environment protection team does. It has made frequent trips to the capital Lusaka in recent years to distribute a total of 30,000 small stoves -- RWE's contribution to a good cause.

The stoves were intended to help poor families cook in a more environmentally friendly way. Biomass was to replace charcoal as cooking fuel. In an advertising brochure for RWE, the company that "travels around the world to help our climate" touts the campaign with the slogan "New Cooking Pots -- Less CO2." But RWE doesn't seem to have included such factors as air travel and the production of the stoves in its calculations.

Besides, the project wasn't entirely altruistic, because RWE will receive credits for its effort. The stoves in Lusaka are expected to save 1.5 million tons of CO2 by 2020, and in return, RWE's coal-fired power plants would be allowed to emit 1.5 million tons elsewhere. This sale of indulgences is called a "Clean Development Mechanism" (CDM). With such questionable projects in emerging and developing countries, which even include the renovation of coalmines in China, European companies can simply calculate away about 20 percent of their emissions.

In the end, the flood of such projects undermines the entire emissions trading system. "The most important tool of climate protection no longer works," says Eva Filzmoser of Carbon Market Watch in Brussels. Four years ago, the Austrian national began a solo effort to take a closer look at the emissions trading market. She still believed in the idea at the time. But Filzmoser found herself confronted with an industry that had grown to a volume of $90 billion almost overnight, an industry complete with certifiers, forecasters, dealers and hackers, who trafficked in certificates and created more and more absurd projects.

'A Big Flop'

They included the supposed cleanup of African garbage dumps, as well as the retrofitting of old coolant factories in China, which only seemed to be in operation because they yielded climate certificates.

It is because of Filzmoser and her staff of five employees that, starting in May, at least the most questionable of these projects will no longer be approved by the United Nations Climate Change secretariat. "The trade has turned into a big flop," she says, "a system of fraud."

The European Commission estimates that 1.7 billion tons in excess pollution rights were on the market in late 2012. Because of this oversupply, the price of emitting a ton of CO2 plummeted to only €4. The CDM projects were not the only reason for the price drop. Because of overly optimistic economic forecasts prior to the economic crisis and the correspondingly generous allotments, many of the 11,000 power plants and factories in Europe required to participate in emissions trading are now sitting on a mountain of unused certificates.

In recent years, they were allowed to save their certificates for the so-called third trading period, during which emissions reduction allowances are to slowly be reduced. This third period began in early 2013 and is supposed to last until 2020. The emissions trade, as well as the simultaneous gradual capping of emission rights in every country, is designed to reduce CO2 emissions in energy-intensive industries by 21 percent from 2005 to 2020. In the entire EU, this step is expected to achieve a 20 percent reduction relative to 1990 emissions levels.

To reach the target, however, many companies don't have to do anything at all, and not just because the cushion of their accumulated certificates often keeps them going for years. The EU will soon have reached its not overly ambitious emissions reduction targets because of the economic slowdown. As production dropped, many smokestacks were simply shut down.

Given such conditions, coal is seeing a renaissance that was hardly thought possible. Because certificates are so cheap, it is much more cost-effective to pollute the air with coal-fired power plants than switch to more environmentally friendly energy generation technologies.

Industry Outraged

To address the problem, European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard has proposed a drastic step: She wants to temporarily cut supply by remove 900 million emissions certificates from the system. The proposal is known as backloading. Not too long ago Hedegaard, from Denmark, was still convinced that the system was working "very well," but now she says: "It is not wise to deliberately continue to flood a market that is already oversupplied."

The industry lobby in Brussels is making a show of being outraged. The general director of BusinessEurope, one of the most powerful lobbying groups, wrote to European Parliament President Martin Schulz to demand a debate on backloading. For each of its counterproposals, the industry also presented supporters from the parliament, most of them liberal and center-right members from Germany and Poland.

The lobbyists' fight doesn't seem to be lost yet. While the Environment Committee voted in favor of backloading, the Industry Committee opposed it. The critical vote is planned for mid-April.

But industry's anti-backloading front in Brussels doesn't seem to be unanimous. Some companies have changed sides, like Düsseldorf-based energy giant E.on. In a joint memorandum with the non-profit public policy group Germanwatch, the company said it supported backloading. "Emissions trading is dead," E.on CEO Johannes Teyssen said last year. Nothing, he added, shows more clearly that the system has lost its effectiveness than the fact that brown coal is currently winning out in the competition with other energy sources.

Unlike pure production operations, energy groups like E.on could pass on almost any price to their customers, says Gordon Moffat of the European Confederation of Iron and Steel Industries. "Emissions trading seems tailor-made for the energy sector."

E.on's environmental forays are merely "industry interests disguised as climate protection," says Holger Krahmer, a member of the European Parliament for Germany's pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP). But German industry could hardly find a more fawning supporter than the Leipzig liberal, who is also his party's environmental policy spokesman.

A Deathblow to the System

Krahmer believes that climate protection threatens "civil liberties" and "fundamental human rights." What exactly those rights are isn't quite clear, not even in his booklet on the politics of climate policy. Backloading, at any rate, will be nothing but another deathblow to the poorly designed emissions trading system, says Krahmer.

Krahmer, however, questions even the assumption that CO2 emissions can in fact cause the earth's temperature to rise. There is, he says, simply no reason to price emissions.

Both Krahmer and FDP Chairman Philipp Rösler are unimpressed with government arguments that low prices for emissions certificates have threatened funding for many projects associated with the country's shift away from nuclear power and toward green energy, known as the Energiewende. "Ongoing interventions discredit the emissions trade," says Krahmer.

Green Party politician Bas Eickhout, however, believes that the system has already been discredited by lazy compromises with lobbyists. "What we get is typically European, a Swiss cheese perforated with compromises," says the Dutch politician. Letting a little air out of the inflated certificate trade isn't enough, he adds. Instead, he argues for a tightening of climate targets and, like Commissioner Hedegaard, wants to remove at last 900 million certificates from the market. But Eickhout wants them removed permanently.

That's because a new flood of emissions rights is about to hit the market, this time from Russia and Ukraine. European countries are also allowed to trade their certificates with these countries. The compensation options in Ukraine have developed phenomenally, says a local analyst. From January 2012 to March 2013 alone, he says, inspectors issued 185 million certificates for extracting coal from old waste heaps.

Spontaneous Combustion

In return for that many certificates, the Ukrainians would have had to extract an improbable five million tons of high-quality coal from scrap heaps in the last five years, the Ukrainian edition of Forbes calculated. The dubious climate argument is that the extracting activity (which had often been planned years in advance and, therefore, not actually eligible for certificates) prevents spontaneous combustion of the waste coal.

According to the Ukrainian analyst, the TÜV Rheinland technical inspection organization likes to certify these supposed climate-protection projects. One such case is in the Donetsk region, where TÜV retroactively certified a few million certificates for one of these waste-heap projects in late 2012. TÜV employees traveled to Ukraine from China to perform the inspection. A spokesman said that they had experience with Chinese Clean Development Mechanism projects that are "closely related" to the Ukrainian projects.

TÜV claims that performing a "retroactive" inspection within a few weeks in December 2012 covering the period from 2008 to 2012 is completely normal. Questions regarding the validity of the assumption that much of the coal in the waste heaps would have spontaneously combusted absent these measures went unanswered by TÜV Rheinland.
RWE's Zambia project is similarly dubious. Eva Filzmoser of Carbon Market Watch heard about it again recently. Employees with the project had reported to her that almost two-thirds of the stoves could no longer be found. In addition, the farmers hired to provide combustible biomass were only able to harvest a ton of bushes per months, and not the 1,000 tons needed.

Nevertheless, the TÜV Süd technical inspection organization credited the project with more than 43,000 tons in CO2 savings. The Munich-based inspectors, who had already been temporarily suspended by the UN because of lax inspections, characterize their work as "successful verification." But a former employee on the project says that no more than 10,000 tons are realistic. Perhaps RWE senses that the former employee is right, because the company has only sold a small share of the certificates so far. They fetched significantly more than the normal trading price -- because of the special quality of the project.




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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