Monday, May 20, 2013
Bob Carter shreds the myths
Even High School kids could follow this. Carter is an earth sciences professor at an Australian university so the talk does include some Australian references.
The Climate Lessons blogger says: "This should be recommended viewing for every teacher in the world.
I also think there are seeds in this video for ideas that could be used as and when the 'authorities' get round to creating a decent curriculum on climate for schools. That might have to precede publishers willing to risk new books aimed at the young, and suitable for schools, with a more realistic and optimistic view of our climate system and our impact on it.
That might include the fact that we have never been in a stronger position than we are now to cope with climate variations. So parents might like to take the initiative and tell their children that. There will be troubles ahead from climate, just as there have been in the past. But we are more ready than ever before to handle them. Our abundant supplies of affordable energy are part of that."
A bee in their bonnet
Anti-pesticide activists falsely blame new pesticides for bee colony problems
Paul Driessen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chemophobic anti-pesticide groups are at it again. This time they’re attacking a widely used and safe new insecticide, but their assertions and real agendas are nothing new.
Radical environmentalism rose to ascendancy on opposition to pesticides, specifically DDT. “If the environmentalists win on DDT,” Environmental Defense Fund scientist Charles Wurster told the Seattle Times in 1969, “they will achieve a level of authority they have never had before.” Using Rachel Carson’s often inaccurate book Silent Spring to drive a nasty campaign, they succeeded in getting the Environmental Protection Agency to ban US production and use of DDT in 1972, leading to a de facto global ban even to combat malaria.
Trumpeting illusory or manufactured dangers of DDT and callously indifferent to the deaths of millions from this horrible disease, radical greens still battle its use, even to spray only the inside walls of primitive homes to keep most mosquitoes out, and keep those that do enter from infecting people.
Attacking a new class of insecticides for equally spurious reasons is thus no big deal, even if the chemicals are safe and vital for modern agriculture. Their real goal is to raise more money and acquire more power. As Saul Alinsky taught, they have picked their new target, personalized and polarized it, and attacked it relentlessly.
The target now is a widely used new class of safe pesticides – neonicotinoids – that Beyond Pesticides, Pesticide Action Network, Sierra Club and other “socially responsible” groups are blaming for bee population declines in various countries. But the real danger is a phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder,” which poses a serious threat to bees, crop pollination, flowers and food crops in many areas.
CCD and other bee die-offs are not new. What we now call colony collapse was first reported in 1869, and many outbreaks since then have turned scientists into Sherlock Holmes detectives, seeking explanations and solutions to this mysterious and scary-sounding problem. Fungi, parasitic mites and other possible suspects have been implicated, but none has yet been arrested or convicted.
That’s created a perfect Petri dish for anti-pesticide groups. They’re pressuring the United States and other countries to ban neonic pesticides, by blaming them for bee population declines. Their fear-mongering assertions are pure conjecture, but that hasn’t stopped activists – or news outlets – from promoting frightening stories implicating the chemicals.
“Neonics” are derived from naturally-occurring nicotine plant compounds and have been hailed as a low-toxicity pest treatment. They are often applied to seeds or on soils during planting, become part of the plants’ physiology, and work by giving treated plants internal defenses against invasive pests. That means neonics are toxic only to insects that feed on crops, which dramatically reduces the need to spray entire fields with other, less safe pesticides. It also curtails risks to farm workers and beneficial insects.
Claims that these insecticides could kill bees appear plausible at first blush, and laboratory studies have shown that high doses can affect bees in minor ways. However, doses that bees receive in lab studies “are far above what a realistic field dose exposure would be,” says Dr. Cynthia Scott-Dupree, environmental biology professor at the University of Guelph. The difference is akin to an 81 mg aspirin tablet versus a full bottle of 200 mg tablets, or light rainfall on a bee versus throwing it into a bucket of water.
Scott-Dupree helped coordinate a Canadian field study that compared hives exposed to neonics to those that weren’t exposed – and found no difference in colony health between the two groups. Another study by Britain’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs reached the same conclusion.
The DEFRA evaluation of studies purporting to link neonics to bee harm found that the lab work was conducted under extreme scenarios which would not occur under real-world conditions. “Risk to bee populations from neonicotinoids, as they are currently used, is low,” the scientists concluded.
That’s hardly surprising. Plant tissues contain only tiny amounts of neonics, bees are not feeding on the plants, and pollen contains barely detectable neonic levels.
Nevertheless, several beekeepers and activist groups have sued the Environmental Protection Agency, demanding that EPA immediately ban all neonicotinoids.
The lawsuit is not merely ill advised. By blaming pesticides, activists are ignoring – and deflecting attention from – a very real and serious threat to bees. The aptly named parasitic mite “Varroa destructor” threatens honeybees directly, while spreading and activating previously dormant or harmless bee viruses, which then become dangerous. The mites are not easy to eradicate.
“You can imagine how hard it is to kill a bug on a bug,” says John Miller, President of the California State Beekeepers Association, and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Treating Varroa requires insecticides that can be toxic to bees at levels high enough to be effective. Well-intentioned apiarists trying to combat Varroa can accidentally overdose hives with miticides.
Various neonicotinoids are widely used in Canada to protect its vast canola fields, and Canadian bee populations are thriving, notes science writer Jon Entine. Varroa-free Australia is likewise one of the world’s prime users of these pesticides, and its bee colonies are among the planet’s healthiest. By contrast, bee populations have been severely impacted by Varroa mites in areas of Switzerland where neonics are not used.
Multiple studies point to still other factors that explain why bees are struggling. They include bees developing resistance to antibiotics, funguses like Nosema, multiple bee viruses and parasites, bacterial infections like foulbrood, exposure to commonly used organophosphates, bee habitat loss, and even long-term bee inbreeding and resultant lack of genetic diversity.
Activists aren’t asking for investigation into these problems – which calls their science, sincerity and integrity into question. Their track record on DDT and malaria underscores this modus operandi. The activists get money, publicity, power and phony solutions – and end up hurting the very things (bees and people) they profess to care so much about.
Right now, no one knows why bees aren’t thriving. Studies have shown that neonicotinoids are innocent, and reflexive bans will harm farmers, whose crop yields will fall; consumers, whose food bills will rise and food safety will decline; and environmental values, as older, more toxic insecticides will have to be reintroduced to protect crops. The detective work needs to continue, until real answers are found.
The prudent, precautionary approach would be to avoid eliminating vital, low-toxicity neonicotinoids, while continuing to study their potential effects on bees, and other potential causes of die-offs and colony collapses. Right now we don’t have an equally low substitute for neonics. Sound, replicable science – not pressure group politics – must underpin all pesticide policies, or the unintended consequences will be serious, far-reaching, and potentially devastating to agriculture and food supplies.
We need to let science do its job, not jump to conclusions or short-circuit the process, as the media did in accusing Richard Jewell of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing.
The Green Enemies of Humanity, Science and the Truth
By Alan Caruba
Among the greatest liars on Earth today is the international organization called Friends of the Earth (FOE). It has engaged in the most scurrilous fear-mongering for decades, along with Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the World Wildlife Fund, while all the time they pulled in billions in funding.
In May 2012, the Daily Caller noted that “The Congressional Research Service estimates that since 2008 the federal government has spent nearly $70 billion on ‘climate change activities.’” The leading critic in Congress, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) asked at the time, “Which would you rather have? Would you rather spend $4 billion on Air Force base solar panels, or would you rather have 28 new F-22s or 30 F-25s or modernized C-130s?”
“Would you rather have $64.8 billion spent on pointless global warming efforts or would you rather have more funds put toward modernizing our fleet of ships, aircraft and ground vehicles to improve the safety of our troops and help defend the nation against the legitimate threats that we face?’
On May 9th, I received an email from Friends of the Earth that repeated all the lies we have heard for years. Painting with a very broad brush that completely ignores the fact that the U.S. climate has always had highs and lows of temperature, FOE complained that “Last year the U.S. experienced record-breaking weather all over the country. But, the nightly news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC barely talked about what was fueling this extreme weather—climate change.”
What FOE failed to mention was a record that was set in 2012-13; as of May, according to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, the U.S. had its longest stretch in recorded history—2,750 days—without a major hurricane landfall. The many claims of “extreme” weather are classic fear-mongering. I might also add that, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, the number of wildfires is at a ten-year low. Glaciers are not melting and seas are not rising, unless a millimeter or two worries you.
“Climate change” is the replacement name for “global warming.” Climate is measured in centuries. The weather is whatever is happening anywhere in the nation on any given day. Around the world, however, there has been a significant increase in cold weather and many are still waiting for spring to arrive.
Typical of the hyperbole that is representative of the lies we have heard from so-called environmental organizations, FOE fumed that “the nightly news programs at the major broadcast networks have largely ignored what is fueling this extreme weather—climate change.” Citing a Media Matters for America study, FOE noted that “ABC’s nightly news program did only one segment about climate change last year. Meanwhile NBC’s news show did only four and CBS just seven segments to this critical issue.” Perhaps this is because these notably liberal news organizations have concluded it is not a critical issue?
It gets better, FOE was angry, saying “What’s almost worse is that when these networks have covered global warming, they have often treated climate change as a ‘two-sided debate’ rather than what it really is; an issue in which there is overwhelming scientific consensus.” These are people who do not want to have a debate because, based on the facts, they would lose. As for scientific consensus regarding either global warming or climate change, there is NONE. If anything, leading scientists around the world have been debunking global warming now for years.
One of the leading think tanks in the effort to end the global warming hoax has been The Heartland Institute. It has sponsored several international conferences in which scientists and others have offered papers and addressed the topic. I recommend you subscribe to its national monthly, Environmental & ClimateNews. Its Managing Editor, James M. Taylor, J.D., provides the latest information on the environmental organizations greatest villain, carbon dioxide (CO2).
Two recent dispatches by Taylor noted in one that “Climate models supporting predictions of rapid global warming during the next century have performed miserably predicting global temperatures during the past two decades”, citing a comparison of computer model predictions and real-world temperatures by climate scientist Roy W. Spencer. In another, Taylor noted that “New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, but global temperatures are not following suit. The new data undercut assertions that atmospheric carbon dioxide is causing a global warming crisis.”
Undismayed by the facts, FOE could only cite the taxpayer-funded PBS News Hour that “devoted 23 segments to covering climate change.” When the President is telling everyone that the climate is the greatest threat to the nation, PBS bureaucrats who know where the money comes from can be depended upon to broadcast his lies.
Ironically, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion by Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer on the same day the FOE email arrived. It was titled “In Defense of Carbon Dioxide.” Schmitt was an Apollo 17 astronaut and a former U.S. Senator from New Mexico. He is an adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Happer is a professor of physics at Princeton University and a former director of the office of energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy.
“The cessation of observed global warming for the past decade or so has shown how exaggerated NASA’s and most other computer predictions of human-caused warming have been—and how little correlation warming has with concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide.”
No wonder FOE is upset that even the mainstream media networks no longer want to report on a global warming that does not exist. There’s real science and there’s the fulminations and lies of Friends of the Earth.
German newsmagazine trashes Australian climate survey
German flagship news magazine Spiegel Online today has an article authored by Axel Bojanowski which takes a close look at the recent John Cook survey. German alarmists like the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research hailed it as proof that climate science was settled and done.
But Spiegel draws a different a totally conclusion.
First Bojanowski describes how a large number of Americans have serious doubts when it comes to man-made climate change, and so surveys get conducted with the aim of trying to sway public opinion. The latest was carried out by John Cook of the University of Queensland in Australia, and the results were published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters: 97% of thousands of papers surveyed agree that climate change is man-made, it asserted.
But Bojanowski trashes the findings:
"There’s an obvious discrepancy between the public perception and reality. The authors speak about ‘consensus on man-made climate change’ – and thus this threatens to further increase confusion within the public. The survey confirms only a banality: Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that man is responsible for at least a part of the climate warming. The important question of how big is man’s part in climate change remains hotly disputed.
In the draft of the next UN report that will summarize climate science knowledge in September, it is stated: ‘It is extremely likely that human activity is responsible for more than half of the warming since the 1950s.’ The estimations from scientists on the exact extent vary vastly – here the consensus ends.”
Bojanowski then gives Spiegel readers the results produced by Cook: “About two thirds took no position on the subject – they remained on the sidelines. 97% of the rest supported man-made impact.
Also in an additional step, 35% of the authors who took no position were left out of the survey results altogether.
A new German survey produces similar results: no consensus!
Bojanowski then reports on another still unpublished German survey conducted by the University of Mainz in Germany. Senja Post told SPIEGEL ONLINE that “123 of 292 climate scientists asked participated in the study“. The result (warmists may want to sit down before reading):
"Only 5% of those responding believed natural factors played the main role in the warming. However, Post then asked about the extent of the man-made warming. The result looked very different. Only 59% of the scientists said the ‘climate development of the last 50 years was mostly influenced by man’s activity. One quarter of those surveyed said that human and natural factors played an equal role’.”
Only 10% of German scientists say computer models are sufficiently accurate
Bojanowski then writes that skepticism is even far more widespread when it comes to the reliability of computer models. ”Only 10% said climate models are ‘sufficiently accurate’ and only 15% said that ‘climatic processes are understood enough’ to allow climate to be calculated.”
Bojanowski sums up: “There’s plenty of fodder there to continue the ideologically influenced debate about climate – no matter what is said about consensus.”
Global warming is freezing the Welsh
Government figures uncovered by the WalesOnline reveal that three areas of Wales were among the top five local authorities areas showing the biggest drops in electricity use between 2010 and 2011, while councils have slashed consumption of gas by up to 9.2% in a year.
The figures – which track energy consumption between 2005 and 2011 through a survey of meter readings across the UK – show Powys (6.3%), Ceredigion (5.4%) and Pembrokeshire (5.2%) were ranked among the top five areas in the UK for the biggest cutbacks in electricity use.
Newport also saw the fourth biggest fall in gas usage – down 9.2% in a year – while Denbighshire and Ceredigion are 9th and 10th with 8.9% falls.
The statistics come after energy giant Centrica posted profits of £602m.
Rising energy bills amid a squeeze on household incomes are prompting “thousands” to cut back on energy use, a consumer group warned in reaction to the figures, with fuel poverty now affecting one in three in Wales.
Despite huge cutbacks from some councils, Gwynedd registered the most expensive electricity bills in Wales with an average of £804 a year – £150 above the UK average – but had the smallest gas bills in Wales at £561.
Blaenau Gwent had the cheapest average in Wales, and third-cheapest in the UK, at £514 for electricity, but the biggest for gas at £707, against a British average of £649.
The figures came as Wales Office Minister Stephen Crabb and Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon met with leaders of high-energy use industries in round-table talks in Cardiff about how business can cope with soaring prices.
The discussions in Cardiff Bay included Tata Steel, Valero, Toyota and Celsa, and concentrated on a consultation on the impact of energy costs on businesses’ operations, as well as complying with climate change obligations.
Lindsey Kearton, policy manager at Consumer Futures in Wales, said it was not a surprise that “thousands” are cutting back on their energy use.
“People are struggling to pay their bills against a backdrop of salary freezes, concerns about job security and rising food bills,” she said.
“Fuel poverty affects around a third of households in Wales. Those who are fuel poor are more likely to turn their heating down below the level adequate for their well-being, and more likely to live in energy inefficient homes which are poorly insulated and prone to dampness.”
William Powell, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on energy matters, said Welsh families were facing “increasingly unaffordable” energy bills, despite the cutbacks.
He said: “In order to tackle this problem effectively and protect people from fuel poverty we have to take further steps to ensure that our homes become more efficient, and that our energy network becomes less dependant on increasingly expensive fossil fuels such as gas – the rising cost of which is responsible for the majority of the recent price hikes we’ve been forced to endure.”
He added: “The British energy economy is getting close to a tipping point – in terms of energy production – where renewable technologies are likely soon to be cheaper to develop, install and operate than traditional fossil fuel alternatives.
“When this transition occurs, it is essential to the Welsh economy that we are on the right side of this decisive shift.”
Tory Shadow Communities Minister Mark Isherwood said suppliers had a responsibility to manage tariffs so consumers were getting the lowest one possible.
“Energy prices clearly have a huge impact upon households and recent hikes were another blow to many families already tightening their belts,” he said.
He added: “While the UK Government – through the Energy Bill – does all it can to support communities here, there is far more that Welsh Labour Ministers can – and should – be doing.
“Wales remains the only part of the UK without a fuel policy advisory forum and its reinstatement has been recommended by the UK Fuel Poverty Monitor.”
Plaid Cymru’s energy spokesman Llyr Gruffydd said: “Heating and energy costs are often higher here than in other parts of the UK due to older housing stock which contributes to the problem.
“Wales is an energy-rich nation and so it seems particularly unjust that Welsh families are finding themselves struggling to pay energy bills.
Scottish land owners to lose wind farm gravy
The green eyes of envy are positively fluorescent in Scotland
THE leader of the Scottish Government review of landownership yesterday pledged to examine ways of redistributing the cash wealthy lairds make from wind farms to benefit the less-advantaged.
Alison Elliot, chair of the Land Reform Review Group (LRRG), said the issue would be investigated amid concerns that aristocrats are benefiting from the renewables revolution while the poor grapple with fuel poverty.
Dr Elliot, a former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “We have got to the stage where this is one of the things which we will be looking at – investigating if the benefits people derive from large-scale renewable projects are distributed as well as they might be.”
She had been struck, she said, by a document submitted by the Kirk to the LRRG, which criticised the “inequitable” situation and the “unacceptable” levels of rural fuel poverty.
The Kirk’s response to a consultation launched by the LRRG was critical of a system that has seen landowners such as the Duke of Roxburghe and the earls of Moray and Glasgow earn large sums for renting their land to wind-turbine energy firms. Critics point out that landowners rent their land to renewable generators, whose wind farms are subsidised by extra levies on ordinary electricity consumers.
Tory MEP Struan Stevenson’s estimates suggest that the Duke of Roxburghe could net £1.5 million a year from a wind farm on the Lammermuir Hills. The Earl of Moray is estimated to receive £2 million a year from a wind farm near Stirling. The Earl of Glasgow could be earning upwards of £300,000 a year from turbines on his Kelburn estate.
In its submission, the Kirk said such figures represented a “significant transfer of income from domestic electricity consumers, including those living in fuel poverty, to landowners”.
It said: “The Church is concerned this redistribution of income is tending to promote inequality. The ownership of land in Scotland remains deeply inequitable and the new landed income from wind power entrenches that inequality.”
It added: “A paradox of life in rural Scotland is that the rapid growth of renewable energy is matched by a growth in fuel poverty… This is unacceptable and if landowners are gaining financial rewards from renewables while a growing number of households are living in fuel poverty, then the strong case for re-examining land reform to ensure the financial benefits of renewables are shared more equitably is strengthened further.”
Dr Elliot said the Kirk’s submission was a “very creative” way of looking at land reform. She added that the LRRG, which will produce a final report next April, could make a contribution to overcoming fuel poverty, producing affordable housing and improving diet. The issue of wind farms, she said, would be looked at in the second phase of the LRRG’s review, which is about to begin.
The group was established by the Scottish Government to consider the further redistribution of land by extending right-to-buy legislation.
In an interview for Newscast magazine, published yesterday, Dr Elliot told Sir Robert Clerk of Penicuik, a consultant for Smith Gore and a landowner at the centre of a storm over plans for wind turbines on his estate: “Land is implicated in providing food, space for housing and in overcoming fuel poverty.
“We are an energy rich country so why do we have fuel poverty? That’s another lens through which to look at land reform and I think that the land and the people who own it can make a contribution to the better good of society through that lens as well.”
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
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
Posted by JR at 6:53 PM