The Soviet-style Royal Society
Their support for global warming is widely quoted. Interesting to see how they arrive at their conclusions
Last week, the Royal Society announced the list of new appointments to the fellowship for 2013. For climate geeks the only familiar name that of Imperial's Joanna Haigh, who specialises in the solar influence on climate and who, to the best of my knowledge, has not been associated with any kind of activism. I've spotted one other climate scientist, but not one I've come across before.
Unfortunately, the society seems to have got itself into a bit of a pickle over its decision to elevate Prince Andrew to the fellowship too.
Jonathan Leake, who broke the story in the Sunday Times (paywalled), noted that the election involved a ballot paper that only allowed existing fellows to vote in favour or to abstain. Apparently only 11% of the electorate voted in favour of the prince, with "a huge number" abstaining.
Leake has also got a choice quote from Lord May, who expresses his "dismay" at the vote and says that: "This is not the way to run an election. A ballot where you can only say yes is a bad idea and should be changed."
This takes a certain amount of chutzpah from the noble lord, who chose to retain this "bad idea" of an electoral system when he was in charge of the Royal Society.
Such Soviet-style shenanigans were mentioned in my Nullius in Verba report in connection with the election of Lord Rees as president, with Rees's the only name on the ballot paper. The electoral practices of the society have no doubt been central to its corruption by political activists.
Update: Christopher Booker notes the appearance of Joanna Haigh in his report on the BBC:
"Another BBC documentary about which the Climategate emails are very revealing was one called Meltdown: A Global Warming Journey (2006). When this was being shot, its producer Jonathan Renouf emailed Keith Briffa, one of Jones’s senior colleagues at the CRU, clearly expecting to be filming him the following day for what was intended to be a key sequence in the programme. He explained that his presenter Paul Rose, a scientist, was going to pose as someone dubious about the warming theory because he was troubled by talk of the Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. What Renouf wanted was a sequence in which Briffa would explain how climate history had been dramatically rewritten by Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ graph, all but eliminating the MWP and showing how in recent years, in a way which could only be due to man-made global warming, temperatures had soared to levels quite unprecedented in the past 1,000 years.Briffa’s job, the producer went on, would be to "prove" to Paul that what we're experiencing now is NOT just another of those natural fluctuations we've seen in the past. The hockey stick curve is a crucial piece of evidence because it shows how abnormal the present period is - the present warming is unprecedented in speed and amplitude, something like that. This is a very big moment in the film when Paul is finally convinced of the reality of man made global warming.
In fact, for whatever reason, Briffa did not appear in the finished programme (which can still be seen on YouTube). Instead his part as the ‘talking head’ climate scientist was played by a young professor from Imperial College, Joanna Haigh. She went through precisely the routine Renouf had outlined to Briffa, enabling Rose to pose initially as something of a sceptic who, after hearing the argument, at last finds the evidence for man-made global warming wholly convincing. This is a formula with which we have become familiar in these pages; but rarely do we get such an insight into how calculatedly the BBC is prepared to stage such a charade, to put over the point the programme makers have wanted to make all along"
Does Big Green care about people or nature?
It's nothing new to see Big Green figures deploring the fact that people exist. Back in 1974, the elite Club of Rome published "Mankind at the Turning Point" with its infamous motto, "The Earth has a cancer and the cancer is man."
Today it has become routine for some well-funded Big Green group to block life-saving projects supposedly to save some allegedly threatened creature. In a previous column, I detailed a particularly outrageous example: a campaign that stopped an approved life-saving gravel road between two remote Alaska towns because it might annoy some geese.
The towns are Kings Cove, with the state's largest salmon processing plant, and Cold Bay, which has the only reliable medical evacuation airport in the region. Lack of an all-weather road between them has contributed to 11 deaths. Congress and President Obama had approved a carefully crafted Kings Cove-Cold Bay road plan and a gift of land for a wildlife refuge for the geese.
The culprits that killed the road were led by Rodger Schlickeisen (2011 compensation: $364,000), former president of Defenders of Wildlife (2011 assets: $35.3 million). Defenders spent $4 million on direct mail and $899,000 on telemarketing for a "get out the comments" campaign that cowed the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service into stopping the road.
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, had only one parting word for them: "Shameful."
Last week, Montana rancher Bill Hoppe awoke one day, walked to a river bank, and "all I could see were dead sheep," he told a reporter. There were 19 in all, five ewes and 14 lambs killed by two wolves, according to the evidence. "The grandkids, those were their sheep, their lambs," Hoppe said. "They had a lot of them named, could catch them,"
Hoppe has lived in Paradise Valley his whole life. Wolves had never attacked his livestock before. Hoppe blames the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for caving in to Big Green pressure groups to stop controlling wolf populations.
Steve Kelly of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies said, "Anyone in the sheep business knows it's not a good place to raise sheep."
I spoke about Kelly's crass remark with Frank DuBois, who was a deputy assistant secretary of interior under President Reagan.
DuBois told me, "The Hoppe family has been around for five generations, but this guy comes hippity skipping in with the audacity to tell him how to run his business and doesn't give a twit about the grandkids' sheep. Somebody needs to tell Kelly the Paradise Valley is not a 'good place' to raise little enviros. There are better places, although I can't think of one right now."
There is a saying that wildlife's worst predator is wildlife biologists. That has certainly been the case with jaguars in the American Southwest, where the big cats, largest in the Western Hemisphere, have long been considered extinct because settlers pushed them back to their core range in Mexico.
The last known female jaguar in the U.S. was killed in 1963, attracted by a predator call and shot by a Fish & Wildlife contract sniper, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Then, on Feb. 18, 2009, a male jaguar known as Macho B (Macho A had disappeared years earlier) was captured in a wire snare set by Emil McCain, a subcontractor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Game and Fish personnel tranquilized Macho B, attached a radio collar to him, and released him.
Twelve days later, the jaguar was observed ailing, was recaptured, diagnosed as terminally ill from kidney failure, and euthanized. McCain pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act and his superior in Arizona Game and Fish was fired for lying to federal investigators.
Congress working to strip presidential land grab power
If you think national monuments are statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, welcome to the crazy catalog of federal land grabbing tools.
These "monuments" are actually large areas that are supposed to be small, and can be created out of thin air by the president with the stroke of a pen.
This extraordinary power has been abused by presidents of both political parties time and again to bypass Congress in creating national park-size units -- a congressional power -- at his own whim to satisfy his Big Green constituents.
But parks are expensive to operate and monuments are budgeted like second-class citizens -- and they block resource use.
Members of Congress last week held a hearing on nine separate bills to rein in the president's national monument proclamations by requiring congressional approval or requiring a public National Environmental Policy Act comment process before taking effect.
National monuments are the brainchild of Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Rider, who, as president, peddled his idea to Congress by pleading with members to stop the looting, desecration and destruction of Native American sites in the Southwest such as Chaco Canyon and Cliff Palace.
Congress fell for it and gave the president proclamation power in the Antiquities Act of 1906, an intentionally broad piece of legislation to set aside "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest."
So TR rode roughshod over Westerners far and wide by designating 18 national monuments that should have gone through Congress as national parks, such as the Grand Canyon and Washington State's Mount Olympus (which Congress later designated parks), and only six of the 18 were major Native American sites.
Private property captured in national monument boundaries was not seized, but owners could sell to the feds if they wanted to -- and the caretaker National Park Service had ways to make them want to do so.
However, the private property rights to grazing, logging and mining within federal lands were seized. This enraged the locals, who were not consulted.
President Obama recently proclaimed five new national monuments without much local objection. Congress seems OK with that, but fears waiting for his other shoe to drop, largely because of a very bad experience with the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton.
Clinton established 19 national monuments covering more than five million acres and expanded three others, all except one designated in Clinton's last year as president.
He made last-minute designations of more than a million acres as national monuments, but had created the 1.7 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah in 1996 during his re-election campaign against Republican Bob Dole.
Clinton didn't know about the Utah area before he was scheduled to make the proclamation -- in Arizona, at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, to keep Utah's Republican members of Congress in the dark until it was too late.
The president was blindsided by White House official Kathleen McGinty, who colluded with Big Green advocates to pass off a fake letter making it look like the president wanted Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to help prepare the designation -- isolating its enormous deposit of privately owned low-sulfur coal.
The fraud was not discovered until after Clinton made the proclamation, when House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Don Young, R-Alaska, obtained a subpoena and federal marshals seized Katie McGinty's documents and email records. I covered the story at the time in a report available here.
Is there some similar Machiavellian plot afoot in the bowels of the White House today? Better to strip the power before Big Green pulls some strings and makes us sorry we didn't.
Scottish wind farms paid £1 million to SHUT DOWN down for one day
Wind farm companies operating in Scotland were paid more than £1 million to shut down their turbines for a single day last month, it has emerged.
A total of £1,146,614 was handed out to the operators of 13 Scottish wind farms, including almost £300,000 for a development built on land owned by the Duke of Roxburghe.
The money, which ultimately comes from electricity consumers’ bills, was given to wind farm companies to compensate them for not producing power during periods of high generation and low demand.
This can happen when it is too windy so as not to overload the National Grid. Anti-wind farm campaigners fear the payments will only increase thanks to Alex Salmond’s drive for a large expansion in the number of turbines north of the Border.
According to figures provided by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a charity that publishes information on the energy sector, more than £1 million in such “constraint payments” were paid out on April 29.
The largest sum paid out on that date was £348,349, which was to shut off the Crystal Rig II wind farm operated by energy company Fred Olsen in East Lothian.
However, the second-largest beneficiary was the Fallago Rig Wind Farm run by EDF on land it rents from Roxburghe in the Lammermuir Hills. The French energy firm was handed more than £296,000 to shut down the turbines, which only started generating electricity at the end of January.
Murdo Fraser, a Conservative MSP and a prominent wind farm critic, said: “People struggling with rising electricity bills and growing levels of fuel poverty will be astonished to learn that millions are being paid to companies for power which isn’t even being used.
“This illustrates yet again the folly of the SNP government’s wind energy policy.”
Dr John Constable, the REF's director, said: “Constraint payments to wind are well in excess of the lost subsidy income, suggesting that the industry is taking advantage of the difficulties that they cause on the network.
“While perfectly legal, this is clearly unfair, and the regulator Ofgem needs to step in to protect the consumer.”
According to the REF figures, enough wind-generated electricity to power 10,000 homes was “dumped” by the National Grid last month. A total of £3.6 million of constraint payments were made to wind farm companies in April, the highest monthly total since September 2011.
EDF charged between £89 to £149 for every megawatt hour (MWh) of energy that was not produced, compared to £50 per MWh the company would have received for selling it.
Although the Duke of Roxburghe will not benefit from the constraint payments, a recent book by Struan Stevenson, a Tory MEP, suggested the landowner could receive up to £1.5 million per year in rent.
A spokesman for EDF said the constraint payments reflected the costs and lost revenues from shutting down the turbines.
He added: “All generators are required to have commercial agreements in place with the National Grid. These agreements cover periods when the Grid instructs generators to temporarily decrease the power they generate.”
A spokesman for the National Grid said the payments spiked while maintenance was carried out. A spokesman for Roxburghe refused to comment on its "commercial agreement" with EDF.
Sacrifice! Give all your meat to the great god
In case you missed the news, humanity spent the Earth Day week reaching another sad milestone in the history of catastrophic climate change: For the first time, measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million—aka way above what our current ecosystem can handle.
Here's the good news, though: The fastest way to reduce climate change shouldn't seem impossible, because it requires no massive new investments, technological breakthroughs or long-term infrastructure projects. According to data compiled by former World Bank advisers Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, it just requires us all to eat fewer animal products.
In their report, Goodland and Anhang note that when you account for feed production, deforestation and animal waste, the livestock industry produces between 18 percent and 51 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Add to this the fact that producing animal protein involves up to eight times more fossil fuel than what's needed to produce an equivalent amount of non-animal protein, and you see that climate change isn't intensified only by necessities like transportation and electricity. It is also driven in large part by subjective food preferences—more precisely, by American consumers' unnecessary desire to eat, on average, 200 pounds of meat every year.
If you find it demoralizing that we are incinerating the planet and dooming future generations simply because too many of us like to eat cheeseburgers, here's that good news I promised: In their report, Goodland and Anhang found that most of what we need to do to mitigate the climate crisis can be achieved “by replacing just one quarter of today’s least eco-friendly food products”—read: animal products—“with better alternatives.” That's right; essentially, if every fourth time someone craved, say, beef, chicken or cow milk they instead opted for a veggie burger, a bean burrito or water, we have a chance to halt the emergency.
In light of that, I'm sure some conservatives will read this column and send me email smugly pledging to eat even more meat than they already do, just to make some incoherent point about freedom. What they will really be proving, though, is that no matter how straightforward a climate change solution may be, we will never be able to combat the crisis until everyone is willing to sacrifice just a little bit, and nobody pretends ecological survival is anything other than what is: an apolitical, transpartisan priority.
Environmentalists Killing US Economy
Last month, Earth Day came and went. Perhaps you missed hearing about it. For 2013, the theme was “The Face of Climate Change.” Other than a change in the Post Office cancellation mark on your letters from the usual wavy lines, to the four stick-like wind turbines and a sun symbol, there was little note of what was once an event celebrated by 20 million Americans. Tim Wagner, Utah representative for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign, groused: “Media coverage of global warming has virtually disappeared.”
According to EarthDayCentral.com, one of the goals of Earth Day is to help you “Discover what you can do to save the environment.”
Perhaps, people no longer see the need for planetary salvation.
The Christian Science Monitor offered an Earth Day 2013 report card on global warming. The author starts with: “When Earth Day observances first began in 1970, Cleveland had recently doused a pollutant-fueled fire on a section of the Cuyahoga River. Cities were often shrouded in thick blankets of smog. And large portions of Lake Erie were so fouled by industrial, farm, and sewage runoff that sections of the 241-mile-long lake were pronounced dead.” And later, he reports: “Since that first Earth Day, the air over major cities is cleaner. Lake Erie is healthier. So is the Cuyahoga River, which groups in Cleveland would like to turn into a centerpiece of urban life. The improvements have come with ‘yes, but...’ as other environmental challenges have elbowed their way to the fore. But for the most part, tools are in place to deal with them.”
As Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, explains, the ‘80s ushered in the age of environmental extremism. The basic issues, for which he and Greenpeace fought, had largely been accomplished, and the general public was in agreement with the primary message. In order for the environmentalists to remain employed, they had to adopt ever more extreme positions. Moore says: “What happened is environmental extremism. They’ve abandoned science and logic altogether.” Their message today is “anti:” anti-human, anti-science, anti-technology, anti-trade and globalization, anti-business and capitalism, and ultimately, anti-civilization.
Moore’s view helps understand how the environmental movement has gone from trying to save the planet to killing the US economy.
The American economy has some basic problems. We need more well-paid jobs, increased revenue, and our trade balance is out of whack. Each of these issues could be easily addressed, but environmentalists are doing everything they can to kill potential solutions. Three such examples are coal mining and exporting; natural gas extraction and conversion to liquefied natural gas (LNG) that can then be exported; and the Keystone pipeline—all of which face extreme opposition from environmentalists.
The US has the world’s largest economically recoverable coal resources—with more than one-fourth of the world’s reserves. Unfortunately, our policies have stymied growth in the mining industry. Bill Bissett, President of Kentucky Coal Association, told me: “Our industry is accustomed to market fluctuations and competition with other fuel sources, but having a federal government place additional regulations on one geographic region (Eastern KY and WV) and one industry (coal mining) is absolutely unfair.”
Last month, environmental groups (including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace) sent a letter to newly-confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calling for a moratorium on the leasing of federal lands for coal mining in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Montana and Wyoming—which accounts for about forty percent of US coal reserves. The results of a recent lease sale in Wyoming, offers insight regarding the economic importance of leasing these federal lands for coal mining. Peabody Coal paid nearly $800 million to the US Government for the rights to expand an existing coal mine and maintain their current workforce. The $800 million was a “bonus payment” and gives them the right to lease the coal and pay 12.5% of the sales price as a royalty. According to data from the Bureau of Land Management, 13 active coal mines in the Wyoming portion of the PRB alone, employ more than 6800 workers.
While, as Bissett addressed, policy under this administration has harshly singled out coal and the coal miners for punishment, coal’s low cost and abundance continues to make it a highly preferential fuel for power generation in developing countries like China and India. And, as I’ve previously written, even Europe is increasing its use of coal for electricity generation, as they’ve discovered the prohibitively high cost of renewables. In 2011, exports to European and Asian markets represented 76% of total US coal exports—up 31% compared to 2010.
Currently, US coal is easily shipped to Europe from ports on the east coast, but the US is missing out on the important Asian market—now being met by more expensive Australian competitors—due to infrastructure opposition from environmental groups. In the Los Angeles Times (LAT), Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and a legend in the world of climate activism, wrote: “Those exports can’t really take off, however, unless West Coast ports dramatically expand their deepwater loading capacity. …. Environmentalists are trying desperately to block the port expansion.”
Addressing the situation, the Wall Street Journal states: “there are now no major coal exporting facilities on the US West Coast. Washington State, with its proximity to coal-rich Wyoming and Montana, is seen as the best place to start.” PRB coal is being shipped to China and India through Vancouver. Additionally, the countries’ needs are being filled by Australian and Indonesian coal—so environmentalists’ fears that shipping US coal will undermine “everything we've accomplished,” as Sierra Club spokesman David Graham-Caso says, are wrong.
The coal is being shipped and used—but the US is losing out on the jobs (which would be mostly union jobs), the revenue, and the benefit to the trade deficit. The LAT/McKibben piece cites KC Golden, policy director of Seattle’s Climate Solutions group: “Can you imagine standing at the mouth of the Columbia River, watching ships sail in from Asia carrying solar panels and electric car batteries and plasma TVs, passing ships from America carrying coal?” Worse, can you imagine all those goods coming in—manufactured using Australian coal-fueled electricity, and nothing going out? That’s what we have now.
A report from the Energy Policy Research Foundation states: “US production will merely replace higher cost production. … Neither net world coal combustion nor GHG emissions will change as a result of an expansion of US coal exports.” The report concludes: “The higher net value received is in effect a wealth transfer from foreign consumers to US producers and the national economy. This net gain to the national economy shows up in higher returns to invested capital, greater employment opportunities from expanded investment, higher revenues to state, local and federal governments, and higher lease values on coal reserves from federal and state lands.”
But environmental groups don’t want this “net economic gain to the national economy.” Apparently, they’d prefer that we continue to borrow from China’s Australian coal-fueled economy.
LNG faces a similar problem. Natural gas was once the favored choice of environmentalists—until privately funded hydraulic fracturing (or high pressure drilling) advancements made it plentiful and, consequently cheap. The low-cost fuel snatched away the fossil fuel-free dream that seemed to be almost within reach. Now environmentalists oppose natural gas as well. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas site claims: “Increasing reliance on natural gas displaces the market for clean energy.”
Many countries want US natural gas. Unlike coal, natural gas cannot just be put on a ship and sent to the awaiting customer. It must first be liquefied—hence the term LNG. The liquefaction process requires costly facilities, which, for economic reasons, need a large customer base—many with which the US does not have free trade agreements (though the Energy Department can permit them, provided it determines that such ventures are consistent with the public interest). The International Business Times, on March 1, 2013, reports that: “As of this date, 17 applications for multibillion-dollar facilities to turn the commodity into liquefied natural gas, or LNG, for export are under review by the Energy Department.” Let’s hope they don’t take as many years and as many reviews as the Keystone pipeline.
LNG exports could have a tremendous positive impact on the US economy. A recent IHS global insight report concluded that LNG exports would “result in the creation of over 100,000 direct, indirect, and economy wide jobs and have an immediate economic impact resulting in $3.6 to $5.2 billion in potential annual revenues.”
And, LNG exporting would not only create jobs and increase revenue, it would also reduce trade deficits. A just-released report from the Rio Grande Foundation states: “The United States currently runs a $6 billion trade deficit with Japan. That nation is particularly eager to import LNG from the US due to the nuclear accident at Fukushima.”
Once again, environmentalists oppose jobs, revenue, and trade-deficit reduction. Earlier this year, more than 40 groups and individuals took out a half page ad in the New York Times that said: “Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to overseas markets will mean more drilling and fracking on US land, which are dirty and dangerous practices.”
Like coal mining and export, natural gas extraction, liquefaction, and export, the Keystone pipeline would create thousands of union jobs and increased service employment in supporting communities; benefit local and state economies, and provide additional revenues to the federal coffers; and help balance the trade deficit, as some of the refined product would be exported. But once again, environmental opposition has targeted the pipeline—causing delay after delay that has now postponed the economic benefit of the pipeline.
Last week, Russ Girling, TransCanada, CEO, said: “I believe that those that are fundamentally opposed to our pipeline are getting louder and more shrill as we move towards a decision.” He announced that the potential start date must be moved from the previously planned late 2014 or early 2015 to late 2015.
The Keystone pipeline saga is the same song, another verse.
These are just three current examples of how the influence of environmental organizations is driving policy in the name of planetary salvation that is, in reality, resulting in economic devastation that could lead to humanity’s ultimate starvation. Environmental motivations are less about saving the planet and more about killing the global economy—while enriching themselves at taxpayers’ expense.
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