Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wildlife tragedies lie at the feet of the Greenies and the food freaks

The food freaks tell food manufacturers that saturated fats and trans fats are harmful to health (both claims are a fantasy but tell a big enough lie often enough ....) so many manufacturers have moved to the next workable possibility -- which is palm oil. But now that's no good either! Using palm oil harms wildife. But it is the fanatics that have created the problem, not the food manufacturers.

If Greenpeace were a serious organization (I will wait for the laughter at that idea to subside), it is the food freaks they should be attacking. But food freaks and Greenies seem to be largely the same people so there is not much hope of that.  The Greenies themselves  want palm oil as "biodiesel".  It's "sustainable", you see.  "Green" Germany is particularly big on using palm oil as a biofuel.  If Germany stopped its environmentalist nonsense (some hope!) elephants and Orang Utans would get a big break

I find it rather despicable that the writer below blames food manufacturers without a whisper about WHY food manufacturers use palm oil.  But he is a Greenie too, you see.  There's no such thing as a happy Greenie.  He would probably now stop the palm  oil craze fostered by his fellow Greenies if he could but humpty dumpty is now well and truly off his wall

By Mark Shand

In all the 30 years I have been working in Asian elephant conservation, I thought I had seen it all – blatant corruption, the rape and total disregard of our beautiful planet and sickening wildlife atrocities, to name but a few. All due to the most dangerous animal of all: homo sapiens.

Not much shocks me any more, but something happened in recent weeks that shook me to the core when the charity Elephant Family and the Ecologist Film Unit set out to document the environmental genocide that is out of control on the island of Sumatra,  Indonesia.

Sumatra is special to me because I spent a lot of time there on expeditions when I was younger. It was a paradise – vast pristine forests, intact coral reefs and abundant wildlife.

All this has changed now and their elephants are the most endangered on the planet. In a single generation, the population has been cut in half, with countless other animals disappearing at breakneck speed.

During the filming, a helpless, emaciated baby male elephant called Raja, who was barely a year old, was found in a village, shackled with heavy chains to a tree. He had been taken hostage by the villagers, who were demanding compensation from the Sumatran  government for the damage his family had done to their crops.

Can you believe that we are now  living in a world where people are actually holding baby elephants to ransom? It is almost unthinkable. But just look at the photographs – look at Raja, as he strains against his chains, waving his little trunk for food and reassurance. He is bellowing in desperation for his mother.

I have heard that sound of distressed calves many times in my life. It never fails to haunt me. But it is his eyes that haunt me more than anything – pleading for help – innocent, desperate and helpless.

A war is being waged across Asia. In the face of relentless deforestation, elephants are being forced out of their natural habitats and they have no choice but to share their living space with humans. As the elephants’ forest home is destroyed, stressed and starving herds flee from the chainsaws straight into villages.

They demolish everything in sight, trampling crops, flattening houses and often killing people. Frankly, you really cannot blame the villagers for taking such drastic steps in the sheer desperation to survive and feed their own families.

Capturing a baby elephant and holding it to ransom is grisly and depressing, but it is reality as humans and elephants fight for space.

People need to know why this is  happening. They need to understand what is driving this madness.

The cause is an innocently named product called palm oil. It’s a constituent part of almost everything that we use and consume – biscuits, margarine, ice cream, soap, shampoo. The list is endless.

And the blame lies firmly with the greed of the large corporations in the East that produce it as a cash crop to fuel the insatiable consumerism of the Western world.

The thirst for palm oil is apparently unquenchable and its cultivation is  ripping out the last great rainforests.

Although forest destruction and its lethal impact on endangered species are plain to see, palm oil is practically an invisible ingredient, listed under the generic term ‘vegetable oil’.

April, Duta Palma, Sinar Mas and Sime Darby may not be household names, but these are just some of  the companies producing palm oil in Indonesia and selling it on to the  market for about £500 per ton.

L’Occitane, Ferrero, Cadbury, Ginster’s pasties, Clover margarine, Pringles, Kellogg’s, Haribo, Nestlé and Mars are just a few of the more familiar names of those that use palm oil.

All the major supermarkets use palm oil in their own-brand products. Some are better than others in getting palm oil from responsible sources, but the point is that it is everywhere and in everything. It is a silent assassin. Not until 2014 will there be a legal requirement for manufacturers to label palm oil on their products.

And, to make matters worse, the only certification body to monitor the production of so-called ‘sustainable’ palm oil is immensely flawed. Consumer industries are hiding behind a fallacy.

The verdant rainforest of Aceh in North Sumatra is one of the largest left in South-East Asia. It is the only place in the world where elephants, tigers, orang-utans and rhinos all still live together – a real life Jungle Book.

But, right now, the Aceh government is close to adopting a plan that would see hundreds of thousands of hectares of this forest opened up for the cultivation of palm oil. This ironically titled ‘Spatial Plan’ is nothing more than a deforestation plan – an extinction plan, seeking to legitimise the illegal felling that is already happening.

Environmentalists agree that we need to protect about 65 per cent of Aceh’s forest if we are to save its biodiversity. The government plan would allow for only 45 per cent to be protected – that’s a difference of way over a million hectares, or more than a million football pitches. The result would be a death blow for wildlife.

Not only will these iconic species be pushed to extinction, the local communities that rely on this forest will be even more exposed to natural disasters. Devastating landslides have already washed away buildings, including entire schools.

They will become unrelenting and vast areas of land will flood.

Wildlife will be forced into ever greater conflict with people, and elephants like Raja won’t stand a chance.

Sadly for him, it is too late. He died alone, still chained to that tree, though Elephant Family worked tirelessly for a week to negotiate his release.


Greens don't like fracking because they don't like prosperity

You'd think Greens would be delighted by the shale gas bounty under our feet. Here is a plentiful energy supply which does not emit soot (as coal does), nor jam estuaries (as tidal turbines do), nor starve Africans (as biofuels do), nor slaughter rare birds (as wind farms do). It does not require public subsidies (as both nuclear and renewables do). On the contrary, it will generate a healthy stream of tax revenue for the Exchequer. It will diminish our reliance on nasty regimes, from Tehran to Moscow – precisely the sorts of regimes that Greens march against. Oh, and it will reduce our carbon emissions, by displacing coal in electricity generators.

What, then, is the problem? Some campaigners talk of water pollution; others, a touch histrionically, of earthquakes. If either was a remotely serious prospect, we'd know by now. There has been a great deal of fracking in the United States, but not a single instance of groundwater being contaminated. As for earthquakes, well, yes, technically any tremor qualifies as an earthquake, but the kind caused by fracking is, according to the most comprehensive report to date, “about the same as the impact caused by dropping a bottle of milk”. The process has been pronounced safe by the Royal Academy of Engineering and by the Royal Society.

Of course, people are more prepared to believe the worst when they live in the areas likely to be affected. And, there's no denying it, fracking will cause some disruption in the early stages, as all construction projects do. There will be lorries and workmen and general bustle. These things, though, are never as bad as opponents claim – just as, to be fair, the jobs are never as numerous as supporters claim. In any event, both the jobs and the disruption will be temporary. The gains will outweigh the inconveniences a thousand times over – and I say so as MEP for a region that will be more affected than most.

This morning's headlines warn us of electricity rationing and coming blackouts. Fracking won't just solve that problem; it will drag us back to growth, much as it has the United States. The find has come, fortuitously, at the very moment that North Sea oil and, especially, gas reserves deplete. We already have the gas infrastructure in place. Now it turns out that we are sitting on the largest shale hoard in Europe. It seems almost providential.

In much the same way, our distant fathers found a way to access almost unlimited amounts of coal just as Britain was beginning its eighteenth century expansion. In consequence, the industrial revolution happened here rather than in, say, China or Italy. We became the greatest and wealthiest nation on Earth. Coal is why the world speaks our language.

But here's the difference. Despite the horrible dangers of eighteenth-century coalmining – pit collapses, floods, explosive gas – the industry was allowed to develop, gradually becoming safer and cleaner. In our own age, by contrast, an industry safer and cleaner than even the safest and cleanest coalmines is threatened by a coalition of envious Eurocrats and Greens.

I can just about see what's upsetting the Eurocrats: they don't like capitalism, they don't like fossil fuels and they don't like Britain. Green objections are harder to understand: here is a clean, secure supply of power that will benefit everyone, but will disproportionately benefit the least well off, who spend a higher proportion of their income on energy bills. When I spoke in the European Parliament in support of fracking, most of the negative comments I received did not focus on specific safety concerns. Rather, they complained in general terms that fracking would 'poison the planet' or 'bleed Mother Earth' for no higher cause than 'greed'.

What is meant here by 'greed' is the desire for material improvement that has driven every advance since the old stone age. Someone sees an opportunity to offer a service that other people will pay for and, in consequence, wealth is created where none existed before. What happened with coal in the eighteenth century could happen again now: prices will fall, productivity will increase, and people will be released to new jobs, raising living standards for everyone. 'Greed', in this sense, is why we still have teeth after the age of 30, why women no longer expect to die in childbirth, why we have coffee and computers and cathedrals. 'Greed' is why we have time to listen to Beethoven and go for country walks and play with our children. Cheaper energy, on any measure, improves our quality of life.

But this is precisely what at least some Greens object to. What they want, as they frankly admit, is decarbonisation, deindustrialisation and depopulation. They regard the various advances we've made since the old stone age – the coffee, the computers, the cathedrals – with regret. What society needs, they tell us, is not green consumerism, but less consumerism. Which is, of course, precisely what most Western countries have had since 2008. The crash brought about all the things that eco-warriors had been demanding: lower GDP, less consumption, a decline in international trade. Yet, oddly, when it happened, they didn't seem at all satisfied. There's no pleasing some people.


  Obama throws down green gauntlet

By Rick Manning

The President’s Climate Action Plan was released in an obvious attempt to change the subject away from the various scandals that have engulfed Obama to something where he hoped to get favorable press.

The plan itself outlines Obama’s determination to push the limits of his Executive branch power through bypassing Congress and instituting policies through a series of regulations and Executive Orders.

With the Environmental Protection Agency expected to be the point of the spear in this war on American energy production, the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head that agency becomes an important test of the Senate’s support for the now declared war.

McCarthy is an EPA veteran who has come under fire for incompetence in her running of the radiation detection system, when it was discovered during the Japanese nuclear power plant meltdown that the U.S. system was largely inoperative.

She also has approved plans to actively encourage the use of a new refrigerant in vehicles that the Daimler Corporation found to be so dangerous that they voluntarily spent millions of dollars recalling vehicles in Europe that contained it.  Now, McCarthy is trying to get this coolant into every American new car under the guise of climate change.

On the coal front, McCarthy has been at the forefront of efforts to impose regulations that are designed to drive electric utility providers away from burning coal toward other fuels, particularly natural gas.

The decision by Obama to release his “Climate Action Plan” prior to an anticipated vote on the McCarthy nomination in early July, turns the already contentious confirmation into a referendum on Obama’s plan to by-pass Congress and impose draconian measures through executive fiat.

This puts two senators squarely on the hot seat.

West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who won election largely due to a brilliant ad where he shoots a copy of the cap and trade environmental legislation, now with the McCarthy vote, will be voting on whether he wants to approve the implementation of much of that regime.  But for Manchin, it is not enough to just oppose McCarthy, he needs to convince other energy state Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota to join him.  If he fails, his case that he can make a difference in the War against Coal will be lost.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is the other member with the most at stake in the McCarthy battle.

If McConnell fails to hold his Conference together in opposition to McCarthy and allows Obama to claim bi-partisan support for his Kill Coal campaign, it becomes very difficult for him to claim an us-against-them argument as he seeks re-election in Kentucky’s coal country.

McConnell needs to explain in no uncertain terms to his colleagues Kelly Ayotte, Lisa Murkowski, Mark Kirk, Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker, Lindsay Graham and Susan Collins that if they choose to support McCarthy’s nomination, they are putting a knife through the heart of Senate Republican hopes to gain a majority in 2014.  Failure in this D.C. battle has real consequences in Kentucky, and if McConnell doesn’t hold his Republican colleagues together, one can bet that coal miners across the state will know about it before the week is out.

While nomination battles in D.C. are often strictly “inside the Beltway” affairs, the Gina McCarthy nomination is so much more.  If confirmed, Obama will claim a three year mandate to move his job killing environmental agenda.

And that would be disastrous for our nation’s economic future.


Obama's Climate Five-Year Plan

The president proposes ecological central planning to solve global warming

The central planners in communist governments were notorious for issuing massively detailed top-down five-year plans to manage every facet of their economies. The accumulating inefficiency and waste produced by this sort of rigid planning led eventually to the demise of those regimes.

Speaking at Georgetown University on Tuesday, President Barack Obama outlined his “new national climate action plan,” which amounts to a federal top-down five-year plan—although he has only four years to implement it. Obama’s plan ambitiously seeks to control nearly every aspect of how Americans produce and consume energy. The goal is to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases and thus stop boosting the temperature of the earth. The actual result will be to infect the economy with the same sort of sclerosis seen in other centrally planned nations.

Let’s take a look at four aspects of the Obama five-year plan: rationing carbon, boosting renewable energy and energy efficiency, subsidizing climate resilience, and negotiating international limits on emissions.

Rationing Carbon

Way back in January 2008, when he was just a senator running for the presidency, Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle that he “was the first to call for a 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter.” That way, he explained, “if somebody wants to build a [conventional] coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Five years later, Obama is doing what he said he’d do. His plan directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “to work expeditiously to complete carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.” The EPA is still formulating those standards, but in their current draft form they would limit new power plants to emitting 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity generated. Since conventional coal-fired plants typically emit around 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour generated, the new rule would essentially be a ban on building new coal-fired power plants.

If the EPA were to establish a uniform 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour standard, that would eliminate nearly all coal-fired plants in the United States, which generated about 37 percent of the country’s electricity last year. In comparison, natural gas plants generated 30 percent, nuclear 19 percent, hydropower 7 percent, wind 3.5 percent, biomass 1.4 percent, petroleum 1 percent, geothermal 0.4 percent, and solar 0.1 percent.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Obama did say in 2008 that he supported the development of clean coal technologies. The president’s new national climate plan includes $8 billion in loan guarantees for “advanced fossil energy projects,” presumably including clean coal technologies involving carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). The Department of Energy is currently supplying $1 billion in a stimulus grant to the FutureGen CCS project in Illinois.

The FutureGen project proposes to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by its 200-megawatt plant and inject about a million tons annually underground. If it works, the overall emissions from a coal-fired plant using CCS would certainly meet a 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour standard. However, the Energy Information Administration’s 2013 analysis of the levelized costs (including capital, fuel, and operation and maintenance) of new power generation sources reports that in 2018 CCS would boost the cost of coal-fired electricity by about 35 percent over conventional generation. Assuming coal still accounted for 37 percent of generation, a quick calculation implies that monthly household electricity bills could jump from an average of $110 to more than $124.

The president’s national climate plan also sets “a goal to double renewable electricity generation once again by 2020.” That would mean that wind power would produce 7 percent and solar power 0.2 percent of America’s energy by then. For what it’s worth, the Energy Information Administrtion estimates the levelized costs in 2018 for conventional coal would be $100 per megawatt-hour; conventional natural gas $67; nuclear $108; wind $87; and solar photovoltaic $144.

In his Georgetown speech, President Obama declared, “Countries like China and Germany are going all out in the race for clean energy.” The president did not note that German electricity prices have soared as the country subsidized the installation of solar and wind power. German households in 2012 paid an average of 35 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared the U.S. average of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. If Americans were paying for power at German rates, our households' monthly power bills (at 940 kilowatt-hours) would average $330 instead of $110, or an additional $2,640 per year for household electricity.  The president also neglected to mention that China’s much-lauded and much-subsidized solar panel industry is going through a bit of a financial rough patch.

The president plans to mandate improvements in the energy efficiency of appliances and buildings. This makes a kind of central-planning sense. Since his new regulations will raise the cost of electric power to consumers, he wants to lower the amount they use so that their monthly bills don’t go up. The hope is that consumers won’t notice that they are paying more for less energy.

In any case, thanks to market incentives, American consumers and businesses are already engaged in continually improving their energy efficiency. The amount of energy it takes to produce a dollar of GDP has fallen by more than 50 percent over the past 40 years, mostly without the help of central planners. That’s not enough for the president, who wants to double energy productivity between now and 2030.

Despite the spectacular flameouts of numerous federally subsidized "green energy" companies—Solyndra, Ener1, Abound Solar, Beacon Power, Fisker Automobile, Range Fuels, and others—the president still thinks that wise federal bureaucrats can profitably invest about $8 billion annually in “clean energy research, development, and deployment.” He also reiterated his support for the “renewable fuels standard” that requires refiners to add billions of gallons of bioethanol made from corn to gasoline. Due largely to the mandate, 43 percent of America’s corn crop ended up in our gas tanks last year. Surely, plowing up the extra farmland to grow corn for fuel ethanol can’t be good for the natural environment.

And the president commended Republicans in Congress for supporting $12 billion in tax credits for wind energy manufacturers and producers. If bioethanol and wind power really could compete with conventional power sources, they wouldn’t need mandates and subsidies.

The president’s plan proposes to aid communities to get ready for the deleterious effects of future global warming. Planners, businesses, and citizens should indeed take into account the increased possibility of floods, droughts, and rising sea levels. But it is questionable that they need a proliferation of federal rules and bureaucrats to help them.

Interestingly, the national climate action plan failed to mention two proposals that wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime and yet would strongly encourage people to take account of how the weather might affect them. One is to eliminate federal flood insurance. The program encourages people to destroy natural flood defenses such as swamps and dunes and to build in places that are prone to inundation; we'd be far better off without it. Second, in order to help communities cope better with droughts, cut all federal irrigation water and irrigation efficiency subsidies and establish water markets.

International Limits

The president did offer two good ideas on the international front. One is for the countries of the world to eliminate $500 billion in annual subsidies to fossil fuels. Another is to begin World Trade Organization negotiations toward free trade in environmental goods, such as products used for managing pollution or harvesting renewable energy. He should take the second idea further, and eliminate trade barriers for all goods. Not only would that likely increase gobal GDBP by as much as $1 trillion per year, but the added wealth would enhance community resilience to whatever climate change occurs.

His other international ideas are less inspiring. As Obama noted approvingly, United Nations negotiations are supposed to result in some kind of legally binding global treaty by 2015 to cut greenhouse emissions, a kind of global 50-year climate and energy plan. Given the utter failure of the Kyoto Protocol, the predecessor accord, there is little reason to believe that most of the rest of the world will agree to pay substantially more for energy.

At Georgetown, the president warned that "the special interests and their allies in Congress" will say his plan "will kill jobs and crush the economy, and basically end American free enterprise as we know it." I don't think Obama’s national climate action plan is going to kill American free enterprise. But its costly patchwork of programs, directives, regulations, grants, and initiatives will surely wound it.


America at War: Coal replaces Terrorists as Enemy Number One

Bob Beauprez

While the "hope" portion of the original campaign theme continues to be elusive, the evidence of what kind of "change" Barack Obama envisioned continues to mount.

For example, the "War on Terror" is no more.  Last month the President all but took a victory lap and declared it over and done.  Al Qaeda and all those other radical Islamist groups that have vowed "Death to America" no longer matter so much.

Obama's State Department turned on a dime this week and declared that Hezbollah's extensive network in Central and South America is just "confined to fundraising" activities. The new wishful thinking stands in stark contrast to volumes of intelligence data including Congressional testimony from Robert Noriega, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States in 2011:

"The more broad implication for U.S. homeland security is that Hezbollah – via Iran and Venezuela – has engaged the United States in an offensive strategy of asymmetric warfare on our doorstep. It is aiming to win the mental battle of attrition and the moral battle of legitimacy – particularly with the youth in Latin America. Unless our government recognizes and responds to their efforts, our ability to protect our interests and our homeland will be gradually and dangerously diminished."

Terrorists may have gotten a reprieve of sorts, but Obama has identified a new enemy.  Tuesday he declared a "War on Coal" – which according to a top adviser to the President is "exactly what's needed" in this country.

Obama's new War is a war against ourselves.  Virtually all of the coal isdomestically produced supporting American jobs, families and communities, and providing a huge portion of the affordable energy necessary to support citizens and businesses throughout the nation.  The U.S. also has more coal reserves than any nation in the world.

The day after the "War on Coal" speech, the Commerce Department reported a "dramatic" downward revision in first quarter GDP growth to just 1.8%.  Economic analysts saw this as an indication of "substantial weakness in the U.S. economy" even as the nation enters the fifth year of a painfully sluggish recovery.  Economists say around 3.0 percent growth is needed just to create enough jobs to keep pace with population increases.

It is anyone's guess how a "war" against the industry that is responsible for producing 40 percent of the nation's electricity makes any sense with an economy struggling, 2.5 million fewer jobs than before the recession, nearly 12 million Americans unemployed and 5 million more so distraught that they left the workforce.

It only makes sense if this is actually the kind of "transformational change" Obama wants to bring to America.  This is not all just some accident, nor the result of a couple of bad policy decisions.  It is quite intentional and quite by design.  That's the worst part.


Risk of UK blackouts has tripled in a year, British regulator  warns

"Green" policies to blame

The risk of future blackouts has trebled in the last year as Britain is facing an energy crunch that will push up bills, the energy regulator has said.

Ofgem warned there could be energy shortages in the middle of this decade as the UK has failed to build enough new wind farms and nuclear powers stations to replace old fossil fuel plants.

It also believes demand for energy may not fall as much as originally expected, as fewer households are insulating their lofts and switching to green appliances than predicted.

Ministers are so concerned that factories and large businesses may be asked to switch off their power during energy emergencies in return for compensation from bill-payers.

"Without timely action there would be risks to security of supply,” Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary admitted.  "If we didn't do anything, if we allowed this supply crunch to happen, we would see spikes in power prices and that would be very damaging for the consumer. This intervention is meant to keep the lights on, which it will, but it's also meant to protect consumers from those price spikes.”

The supply crunch is the result of Britain forcing old coal and oil plants to switch off in favour of new green wind farms and nuclear plants.

Ministers are trying to encourage companies to spend more than £100 billion on new green energy infrastructure by offering huge subsidies.  However, the new powers stations will not have arrived in time to avert the possible squeeze in 2015.

Ofgem said that the risk of blackouts in that year has trebled from the one-in-12 it estimated in October to just one-in-four, if Britain's energy demand remains at current levels.

It said any “tightening” of the electricity market would lead to an “increase in wholesale prices”.

Over the past year the situation has deteriorated as power companies have announced that they will mothball more gas-fired power plants because they are currently not profitable to keep open.  Ofgem says that no new gas-fired power plants are expected until 2016 and it expects the equivalent of just one to start generating before the end of the decade.

If Britain substantially reduced its energy demand, in line with new National Grid forecasts, then the risk of blackouts could remain close to Ofgem's previous estimates at around one-in-12.   However, Ofgem cast doubt on those forecasts, saying there was "uncertainty over projected reductions in demand".

National Grid's revised estimates would require big improvements in energy efficiency through programmes such as the Green Deal, which has seen just four households sign up since it was launched earlier this year.  One industry source described National Grid's assumptions of energy efficiency improvements as "heroic".

The attempt to prevent blackouts would involve handing National Grid new powers to pay factories to switch off and pay mothballed power plants to come back online.

National Grid said one of the new proposals involved "seeking large consumers to reduce electricity use during times of high demand [between 4pm and 8pm on weekday evenings in the winter] in return for a payment".

Manufacturing group EEF said it could cost big industrial users millions of pounds to switch off and that for the largest energy consumers the process would take several days.

The other National Grid proposal would see the company "contracting with generators that would otherwise be closed or mothballed" to keep them available as back-up reserves.




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


Friday, June 28, 2013

Obama’s Radical Climate Agenda

It is remarkable that when the scientific consensus on global warming is at its weakest state in years, President Barack Obama has decided to make the issue a new focus of his troubled presidency — and, indeed, that he intends to use the issue as the launching pad for a radical extension of federal power even more significant than his health-care takeover.

President Obama campaigned as a man of science, though he himself has no scientific training. He lambasted his critics as being anti-science Luddites and even enjoyed an endorsement from Bill Nye the Science Guy, who allowed his name to be associated with dishonest and unfair attacks on Republicans. Barack Obama, of course, is not a science guy. For example, he has flattered far-left conspiracy theories about common vaccinations, saying, “The science right now is inconclusive,” which is a position about as scientifically defensible as claiming that the dinosaurs went extinct because Fred Flintstone ordered too many bronto-burgers.

Global warming, contrary to the predictions of the best climate models, is not accelerating. It is slowing, and some estimates show it having been reversed. The warmest year on record was 1998, and there has been significantly less warming in the last 15 years than there was in the 20 years before that. The Economist, which supports measures to control greenhouse-gas emissions and has been a reliable hotbed of warming alarmism, conceded: “There’s no way around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, such as carbon taxes and emissions treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases. . . . They will become harder, if not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.”

If only President Obama simply had cried wolf. Instead, the president announced that, on behalf of “all of humankind,” he is in effect directing the EPA to take over the American economy. New power plants will be subject to emissions controls, and existing plants will have to be retrofitted to comply with new standards. New restrictions on heavy trucks will affect the movement of freight and goods across the country. New subsidies will be handed down for politically connected energy firms, and federal lands will be set aside for their use. New federal impositions will affect the construction of factories, commercial buildings, and private homes. The president says that this is all enabled by the “overwhelming judgment of science.”

It certainly has not been enabled by something so mundane as the law. We rather suspect that the overwhelming judgment of Congress would be against the president’s program of regimenting the entire American economy under the management of a newly empowered EPA. But the president has made it clear that he intends to act largely through administrative fiat, subverting the democratic process and the people’s elected representatives. Unhappily, the Supreme Court has abetted this ambition by misconstruing the Clean Air Act as a warrant of action on global warming.

Every economic activity involving energy or transportation — which is to say, every economic activity — will be affected by the president’s global-warming program.

Consider the president’s thinking: While the value of vaccinations is undisputed among scientists, he believes that it requires more research, because people who are prone to lunatic theories about vaccines vote Democratic. But when it comes to the climate, he acts not only as though there were no scientific questions in dispute but as though capital-S Science had corporately blessed his policy agenda. Even if the scientific consensus on global warming had not been weakened by the past 15 years’ worth of data, the policies the president proposes would not necessarily logically follow from that consensus.

Limits on greenhouse gases in the United States are likely to have no effect at all on the atmosphere of a planet that includes China, India, and their factories and people. Even the most radical changes in the United States would likely have a negligible effect on climate change, which is if nothing else a global phenomenon by definition. Even if we had absolute scientific certainty, we would also have another kind of certainty: that China and India, and many other countries, are not going to radically reduce their peoples’ standards of living to accommodate Barack Obama’s policy preferences.

But the science is not there, either. Even our friends at The New Republic admit as much, writing of the warming slowdown: “Scientists themselves aren’t entirely sure what the evidence means. If scientific models can’t project the last 15 years, what does that mean for their projections of the next 100?” Uncertainty about the amount of warming over the next century entails uncertainty about the size, character, and cost of its effects. But the next century is not what Democrats are thinking about: They are thinking about 2014 and 2016.

But there are immediate concerns, too. Most significant, the president telegraphed his intention to torpedo the Keystone XL pipeline project, which has long been ready to go but has been snarled up by politics. President Obama has offered any number of excuses for not approving the project, and his newest one is that the pipeline and the energy it contributes to the economy must not “significantly exacerbate” the emissions of greenhouse gases, which the president likes to call “carbon pollution.” That term is itself an attempt to confuse the debate: It refers not to traditional kinds of pollution such as carbon monoxide, the stuff that comes out of your exhaust pipe, but to carbon dioxide, the stuff that comes out of your nose.

In any case, the State Department long ago concluded that the pipeline would not be a significant new contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions, which should suggest a speedy approval. (We are not inclined to take Obama’s State Department at its word, but that is no reason the president shouldn’t.) Instead, what this likely presages is another round of dilatory studies designed to hold the project hostage while Democrats studiously avoid annoying their small but generous environmental-extremist constituency.

The United States is poised for an energy renaissance, which is already under way in places such as Texas and Pennsylvania. The new energy economy stands ready not only to put millions of Americans to work and bring billions of dollars of new wealth into the economy but also to significantly change the balance of power in the world: Oil is the top contributor to our trade deficit, and energy supplies from the Middle East, Venezuela, and other unstable areas are a key security and economic vulnerability. Rather than develop what we already have, the Obama administration is threatening to hamstring our most likely source of economic growth and new jobs for the coming generation in the hopes that fads such as solar power will pay off. That is not justified by science, by economics, or by sensible policy analysis.

What it is, in fact, is an attempt by a foundering administration to change the subject from scandal to sunshine.


The Carbonated President

Obama unveils a war on fossil fuels he never disclosed as a candidate

President Obama's climate speech on Tuesday was grandiose even for him, but its surreal nature was its particular hallmark. Some 12 million Americans still can't find work, real wages have fallen for five years, three-fourths of Americans now live paycheck to check, and the economy continues to plod along four years into a quasi-recovery. But there was the President in tony Georgetown, threatening more energy taxes and mandates that will ensure fewer jobs, still lower incomes and slower growth.

Mr. Obama's "climate action plan" adds up to one of the most extensive reorganizations of the U.S. economy since the 1930s, imposed through administrative fiat and raw executive power. He wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020, but over his 6,500-word address he articulated no such goal for the unemployment rate or GDP.

The plan covers everything from new efficiency standards for home appliances to new fuel mileage rules for heavy-duty trucks to new subsidies for wind farms, but the most consequential changes would slam the U.S. electric industry. These plants, coal-fired power in particular, account for about a third of domestic greenhouse gases.

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency released "new source performance standard" regulations that are effectively a moratorium on new coal plants. The EPA denied that similar rules would ever apply to the existing fleet, or even that they were working up such rules. Now Mr. Obama will unleash his carbon central planners on current plants.

Coal accounted for more than half of U.S. electric generation as recently as 2008 but plunged to a mere 37% in 2012. In part this tumble has been due to cheap natural gas, but now the EPA will finish the job and take coal to 0%.

Daniel Shrag of Harvard, an Obama science adviser, told the New York Times Monday that "Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed." At least he's honest, though in truth Mr. Obama's target is all forms of carbon energy. Natural gas is next.

The higher costs will ripple through the energy chain, which is precisely Mr. Obama's goal. Only by artificially raising the cost of carbon energy can he make even heavily subsidized "renewables" competitive.

In general every $1 billion spent complying with an EPA rule threatens 16,000 jobs and cuts GDP by $1.2 billion—and the agency is now writing scores of multibillion-dollar rules. Keep in mind that last month the Administration quietly raised the "social cost" of carbon by 60% in a regulatory filing related to microwave ovens. That means the EPA can jack up costs by 59.99% and still justify them by claiming the higher benefits.

This regressive burden won't merely be borne by average American consumers and utility rate-payers—especially in the Midwest and Southern regions that use the most coal. This also threatens one of the few booming parts of the economy, the energy revolution driven by shale gas and unconventional oil. The return of manufacturing to the U.S. depends on this cheap abundant energy, and it could as easily re-relocate overseas as the U.S. becomes less competitive.

For good measure, Mr. Obama also declared that he will approve the Keystone XL pipeline "only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." Yet the oil in Alberta won't stay in the ground if Mr. Obama blocks the route to the Gulf of Mexico. It will be shipped by rail and boat to China and elsewhere. The only question is whether America will benefit from this shovel-ready project that will create tens of thousands of jobs.

Speaking of futility, Mr. Obama's ambitions will have no effect on global atmospheric carbon concentrations. Emissions are already falling in the U.S., thanks primarily to the shale gas boom, but emissions are rising in the developing world. Mr. Obama pandered to the climate-change absolutists by saying "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society." But he never explained how his plan will reduce warming, or why climate models have failed to predict the warming slowdown of the last dozen or so years even as more CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere.

Most striking about this Obama legacy project is its contempt for democratic consent. Congress has consistently rejected an Obama-style "comprehensive" anticarbon energy plan. That was true even when Democrats ran the Senate with a filibuster-proof majority in 2009-2010 and killed his cap-and-trade energy bill. The only legislative justification for Mr. Obama's new plan is an abusive interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which was last revised in 1990 and never mentions carbon as a pollutant.

So instead Mr. Obama will impose these inherently political policy choices via unaccountable bureaucracies, with little or no debate. Mr. Obama might have at least announced his war on carbon before the election and let voters have a say. Instead he posed as the John the Baptist of fossil fuels in locales such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia—taking credit for the shale fracking boom he had nothing to do with and running ads attacking Mitt Romney as anticoal.

Now safely re-elected, Mr. Obama figures he can do what he pleases. The Americans who will be harmed will have to console themselves with 99 weeks of jobless benefits, food stamps and ObamaCare.


Climate vs. Climate Change

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding in the difference between climate and climate change.

This is on very public display in the president’s recently unveiled Climate Action Plan, which details a series of executive actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to control the future course of the climate.

In justifying the need for these actions, and why he doesn’t have time to wait for Congress to act, the president points to numerous recent examples of extreme weather disasters while linking weather extremes to climate change brought about by anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions.

In doing so, he goes awry of the best science.  Here’s why.

The natural climate of the U.S. includes all manner of extreme weather events—hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, heatwaves, cold outbreaks, derechos, and virtually every other type of bad weather you can dream up.

This is true now, just as it was 100 years ago, before greenhouse gases were being emitted to the atmosphere in large quantities from human activities—primarily the burning of fossil fuels to produce energy.

Human-caused climate change is an incremental pressure to slightly alter the character of weather events, for example, their frequency and/or magnitude. This includes weather events both extreme and otherwise. The nature of this alteration, if it occurs at all, is scientifically uncertain for most types of weather.

In other words, every time there is some sort of weather “disaster” you don’t need to invoke climate change to explain it. A simple climate explanation will usually suffice. In fact, bringing climate change into the explanation usually runs afoul of our current scientific understanding. It is as easy to argue that climate change mitigates (or even averts) weather disasters as it is to argue that it augments them.

But folks pushing for greenhouse gas regulations don’t often let the facts get in the way.  This includes the president, as well as many of his federal advisors.

For example, Roger Pielke Jr., a leader in the field of weather disaster trends, tweeted this about the president’s speech on Tuesday:

    @RogerPielkeJr “Will be interesting to see if anyone on the side of climate action will care that Obama’s plan begins w/ false claims about disaster trends”

And in our recent review of the draft version of the government’s latest National Assessment report, we point out the pervasive confusion between climate and climate change within the report. For example, regarding impacts on the transportation sector, we note:

    "It is not climate change, but the vagaries of the climate itself that have the greatest impact on U.S. transportation. Climate change, to the degree that it is detectable and identifiable, contributes a mix of impacts, some positive and some negative, and the net impact has never been reliably quantified or monetized.

    The impacts of climate and climate change are confused and thus used interchangeably, however, such usage is incorrect and misleading."

Perhaps the biggest reason why it is easy to confuse climate and climate change, is that it appears that the weather is getting worse—that is, there are more, and more costly, extreme weather events. The climate must be changing to make this happen, right?

Wrong.  What is changing, besides increased media (both mainstream and social) coverage, is that there are more people, with more (valuable) stuff, in harm’s way.

So, even in a constant climate, the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events—such as those included in the government’s annual list of “Billion Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters”—will increase.  Yet the president points to this increase and links it to human-caused climate change.

This is wrong, and this is what Roger Pielke Jr. was referring to in his tweet.

And Roger should know. He has jus published a paper examining trends in tornado losses in the U.S. from 1950 through 2011. It shows that while raw damage has been on the rise, when adjusted for socioeconomic changes (like population, income, housing units, GDP), there has actually been a sharp decline. Further, the decline in damages may in fact be related with a decline in strong tornado events, although the data are not robust enough to know for sure. Quoting from the conclusions of is paper:

    "The analysis presented in this paper indicates that normalized tornado damage in the US from1950 to 2011 declined in all three normalization methods applied (two are statistically significant one is not). The degree to which this decrease is the result of an actual decrease in the incidence of strong tornadoes is difficult to assess due to inconsistencies in reporting practices over time. However, an examination of trends within sub-periods of the dataset is suggestive that some part of the long-term decrease in losses may have a component related to actual changes in tornado behaviour. Further research is clearly needed to assess this suggestion."

Roger has also studied losses from hurricanes and floods and in both cases found that once demographics changes are taken into account the upward trend in losses disappears.

So the science shows that increasing losses from extreme weather events is caused by more people and more wealth, but the president tells us that it is a result of human-caused climate change and invokes executive action to try to stop it.

His efforts are doomed to fail from the outset (assuming his Climate Action Plan doesn’t drive down the population or the economy).


Parents Driven to Distraction and Death by Climate Scares

It is well known that climate agitators have been using children as a means by which to influence their parents.  Some are quite happy to deploy Schneiderian Scenarios (scary, simplified, dramatic) to help that along.  But it is not just children who are being scared by tall tales of a climate crisis caused by people. Some parents are succumbing to them as well, and it seems all too likely that this means more stress for their own children.   In one case reported on below, suicide and child murder was the result, and in another, both of these are being contemplated.

Some parents are seized with pessimistic thoughts.

Example 1.  Here is an extract from a letter to an agony aunt by a mother clearly being driven to distraction by here fears about population and climate in the year 2013:

“I love my family dearly, and my children bring me great joy.  So what’s the problem then? I worry that I’ve brought them into a world whose future holds overpopulation (for which I myself feel a bit responsible) and global warming. My children have such bright futures ahead, which may be completely devastated by these global crises.”

Example 2. Here is a father also driven to distraction by his imaginings in 2013:

“When Ian Kim imagines the world his 7-year-old daughter will be living in 20 years from now, he says, it keeps him up at night. Images of ever more frequent super storms like Sandy, along with rising seas, or drought and heat waves wreaking havoc with crops haunt his waking hours.”

Example 3.  Another letter to an agony aunt in 2013, one that comes across as more temperate until she gets to the bit about going up in flames:

“My issue is that now that we have a baby, all the other moms drive their kids all over the place, shopping and taking cute little day trips. I would prefer to drive only in emergencies, but our entertainment options near home are severely limited. Is it better to leave a smaller carbon footprint and make a moral statement my son might be proud of one day, or to have additional experiences with him/relationships with kids and moms across town that I will treasure until we all go up in flames?”

Example 4.  Unicef has, like so many other organisations, enthusiastically jumped on the climate alarm bandwagon and has no doubt boosted its funding as a result.  Here are the words of an actor doing a promotion for them in 2013:

“As a dad to a 14 year old daughter, I worry about what climate change means for her future and her children’s future. Extreme flooding, colder, longer winters and harsher summers; it’s causing chaos in the developed world and it’s threatening children’s very survival in poorer countries.”

For Some Parents It is Even More Serious

Example 5.  It is only anecdotal, and it comes via another woman who is herself seriously disturbed by climate scares, but it is sadly by no means far-fetched as the next example shows:

“Should we stockpile cyanide? You think I'm exaggerating, but a close friend of mine, who has four children, said she plans to kill herself and them when it comes to it.”  [The ‘it’ refers to some kind of climate catastrophe she has in mind]

Example 6.  April, 2010: “BUENOS AIRES – A 7-month-old baby survived alone for three days with a bullet wound in its chest beside the bodies of its parents and brother, who died in an apparent suicide pact brought on by the couple’s terror of global warming, the Argentine press said Saturday.”  As reported in Latin American Herald Tribune and the Daily Telegraph

Meanwhile ...

Meanwhile 1, the UK Met Office, a leading light for climate alarmists everywhere, has held an unscheduled get-together to see how they can best cope with the fact that the climate system is behaving just as it might if the extra CO2 was having a negligible impact on it.  Given how misleading their computer models have been for them, they need to brainstorm to help them cope with ‘weather as normal’.

Meanwhile 2,  the eco-organisations and others who have all helped disseminate the fears which have so disturbed parents and children, continue to harm the environment and force needless suffering and even starvation on to the world.

 These two 'meanwhiles' illustrate two realities.  The first reality is that the climate system is behaving much as it might if human impacts on it have been of minor consequence.  The second reality is that those who screech and preach and politicise as if the opposite was the case, are themselves the major cause of concern and of suffering linked to climate change.

As Willis Eschenbach noted yesterday at WUWT:

"I say that history will not look kindly on those people and organizations who are currently impoverishing the poor and damaging the environment in a futile fight against CO2, even if the perpetrators are wealthy and melanin-deficient and just running over with oodles of good intentions …"

And in the big meantime before that happier day, we are faced with trying to stop that 'futile fight' and all the harm it is bringing to people and to the environment across the world.


British wind farms get generous subsidies for another six years

Wind farms will get generous subsidies for at least another six years, after ministers signed a deal to give them double the market rate for the electricity they produce.

The Government said onshore wind farms should get at least £100 per megawatt-hour, when the market rate for electricity is currently less than £50 per mega-watt hour.

Offshore wind farms will get triple the market rate at £155 per megawatt-hour in a deal described by City analysts as "astonishingly expensive".

The difference will be met by a subsidy from the taxpayer, which is potentially more generous than the current regime that hands developers more than £1 billion a year.

Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said new costs were "broadly comparable" wih 2013 prices but his department said it had not worked out whether consumers wil be paying more or less for wind power under the new system.

The subsidies will continue despite David Cameron's promise this month to "think very carefully" about green subsidies for energy sources such as wind farms and solar panels, as they "end up on consumer bills".

It is likely to anger backbench Tories, after 100 MPs campaigned to stop the spread of onshore turbines blighting the British countryside.

George Osborne ordered a 10 per cent cut in subsidies for onshore wind farms last year and senior Conservatives had hinted that there would be more to follow.

Developers have promised that they can reduce the cost of generating energy from wind substantially over the next few years to make it more affordable.

However, under the plan, subsidies will only be cut slightly in 2017 by five per cent for onshore wind and 13 per cent for offshore wind.

Peter Atherton, analyst at Liberum Capital, said the cost of offshore wind turbines in particular looks "astonishingly high".

"The costs are actually rising, rather than coming down as we'd been led to believe," he said.

The renewables industry said the level of subsidies would still mean it is "challenging" for them to make a profit.

"The most important ingredient remains investor confidence and that will take time to land," said Maria McCafferty, chief executive of RenewableUK.

"The secret is consistent long term support and investors seeing that Government is behind renewables and low carbon generation for the long term."


British birdwatchers see rare swift killed by wind turbine

Dozens of birdwatchers who travelled to a Scottish island to see an extremely rare swift have been left distraught after it was killed by a wind turbine.

Around 40 people were watching the White-throated Needletail, the world's fastest flying bird, on the Isles of Harris when the tragedy happened.

Sightings of the bird have only been recorded eight times in the UK in nearly 170 years, most recently in 1991, prompting around 80 ornithologists to visit the island in the hope of catching a glimpse.

David Campbell, from Surrey, told BBC Scotland the incident took place late on Wednesday afternoon. Speaking as he made his way home, he said: “We just watched the whole thing with dismay."

Josh Jones, of Bird Guides, a specialist website for ornithologists, said he had spoken to witnesses, who had seen the bird fly straight into one the turbine’s blades.

He said: “It is ironic that after waiting so long for this bird to turn up in the UK it was killed by a wind turbine and not a natural predator.

“More than 80 people had already arrived on the island and others were coming from all over the country. But it just flew into the turbine. It was killed instantly. The corpse will be sent to a museum but obviously this is just terrible.”

Experts said they thought the bird had got lost migrating from Siberia and it should have been as far away as Australia or Japan instead of Tarbert on the Isle of Harris.

It was spotted by chance on Monday by two birdwatchers from Northumberland holidaying on the island. Steve Duffield, a Western Isles wildlife expert, said: “The bird in Harris was hanging around for its third day – it was attracting a lot of attention from the birding community with people travelling from southern England to see it.”

During the 1991 sighting, a single bird was spotted four times in Kent, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and finally Shetland.

The White-throated Needletail, also known as the Needle-tailed Swift or Spine-tailed Swift, is known to fly up at speeds of up to 69mph, although there are unconfirmed reports of them reaching 105mph.

The birds have very short legs, which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces, and they build their nests in rock crevices in cliffs or hollow trees. They spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks.

They breed in rocky hills in central Asia and southern Siberia but migrate south to the Indian Subcontinent, southeast Asia and Australia.

The SNP administration at Holyrood is pressing ahead with a rapid expansion in the number of wind farms after setting a target to generate the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.




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


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blowing Smoke: Obama Climate Speech Riddled With Lies

A dangerous, arrogant, fact-free tirade

King Canute, attempting to teach his people a lesson regarding his abilities, supposedly went to the sea and commanded the tide to stop. Twelfth-century English historian Henry of Huntington wrote that Canute took his throne to the seashore, but the tide, “continuing to rise as usual dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person.”

President Barack Obama’s naïve and error-riddled speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday clearly demonstrated that he is serious about trying to stop global climate change. However, like the tide, climate change is a natural event of such proportions that it is largely unaffected by human activities. Obama ignores that the “official climate science” on which he bases America’s climate and energy policies has been washed away by 17 years without global warming, despite atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) — the gas Obama blames for rising temperatures — continuing to increase primarily due to the emissions of China and India.

Unlike America’s hopelessly misguided president, the reasons behind Canute’s action were sensible. He wanted to reduce unrealistically elevated expectations of him. Canute’s goal was to show fawning courtiers that there were things over which he had no control. He knew the facts about tides. Sadly for our American friends, and indeed for the whole free world — which depends on a strong America — Obama lacks Canute’s humility and knowledge about nature. The president’s misunderstanding and his apparent disinterest in real climate science is leading the United States into an economic black hole from which it may take generations to recover.

Obama also seems oblivious to real-world economic evidence that the policy path on which he is setting the U.S. has already been tried and has failed in other countries. It is not surprising that when he launched his most recent climate change initiative last week in Berlin, the German public response was less than enthusiastic — they are already suffering the economic and energy consequences of “going green” in a hopeless attempt to stop climate change. Many Germans are also aware of the implications of the Climategate scandal, through which the corrupted science of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was exposed through leaked emails.

In foisting many of the same policies on America that have already failed in Europe, the president appears to be counting on U.S. media to continue to hide the significance of Climategate and the recent halt in planetary warming.

In telling Georgetown students on Tuesday that he doesn’t “have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real,” Obama reveals his ignorance. Nobody is denying that climate change is “real” and that coping with such changes can be challenging. What skeptical scientists do question, however, is the degree to which human activity causes those changes. Saying that “ninety-seven percent of scientists” “acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it,” as Obama did in his speech, is both wrong and meaningless.

As ICSC policy advisor Lord Christopher Monckton just showed, the study that backs this claim is fatally flawed. First, science is never determined by a show of hands. If it were, the Earth would still be considered flat and the center of the universe and space travel impossible. Second, the only statistic that could be interesting would be the fraction of scientists who study the causes of climate change and support the idea that our CO2 emissions are causing serious climate problems. There has never been a reputable survey that asked experts this question.

As we have come to expect from this president on global warming and energy, yesterday’s presentation included many basic science mistakes and inappropriate cherry picking of data. For example, Obama’s assertions about abnormally high temperatures and the extent of Arctic sea ice melt are either meaningless or simply wrong. Last July, new average U.S. temperature records were set by one-fifth of a degree Fahrenheit. This is meaningless since the measurement uncertainty in most of the record is one-half degree Fahrenheit. Similarly, last July’s record temperature was not based on the highs of the day. A record was set merely because the nights were slightly less cool in July 2012 than those experienced in the 1930s. So, when the high and lows of the day were averaged, a record average was established. Nevertheless, the highs of the day in the 1930s still exceeded anything experienced in July 2012.

Obama also neglected to mention that Arctic sea ice coverage records began only three decades ago, when we first started to monitor the Arctic by satellite. Land-based measurements indicate that it was warmer in the Arctic in the 1930s and so ice melt was likely greater then as well, although no one knows for sure.

Obama used the erroneous phrase “carbon pollution” a total of twenty times in his Georgetown speech.

He is, of course, really speaking of CO2, an odorless, invisble gas essential to plant life and in no way a pollutant. Yet the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still designates CO2 a “harmful substance” so as to allow greater bureaucratic control of industry under the Clean Air Act. In Tuesday’s address, the president promised to expand the EPA’s CO2 regulations to cover existing power stations, an action sure to cost billions of dollars and millions of jobs for no environmental benefit. EPA’s claim is based on three lines of evidence that a recent amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court shows are invalid. Regardless, calling CO2 “carbon” helps Obama politically since it encourages people to think of CO2 as associated with soot, something that is pure carbon and is clearly dirty and undesirable.

Of course, we can and should reduce the amount of soot going in to the atmosphere, and apart from China, significant advances have occurred. Scrubber technology for coal-fired power plants has been available for a long time. If Obama really wants to help people’s health and the environment, he should encourage all possible use of scrubbers.

The “carbon pollution” mistake is often used by activists to focus negative attention specifically on coal-fired electricity generation, since “carbon” comes from the Latin carbo, meaning coal. Over 40 percent of U.S. energy comes from coal, and so killing this energy source is fundamental to the president’s apparent goals of expanding government control and redistributing wealth. Obama wants to end coal use entirely in the U.S., no matter how clean it can be made. Obama even told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008: “What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as an ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.”

Aside from his support for climate change adaptation measures, actions that make sense if carried out properly, Obama’s Georgetown speech appears to be mostly oriented towards accomplishing political objectives unrelated to environmental protection. This is very much in line with former Colorado Democratic Senator Timothy Wirth, who in 1993 summed up the strategy well: “We’ve got to ride to global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing.”

It is ironic that Obama would equate his unscientific campaign to “fight against climate change” with NASA’s trips to the Moon. Unlike Obama’s dogmatic approach, always focused on reducing greenhouse gases no matter what science demonstrates about the real causes of climate change, NASA learned from their mistakes and made necessary changes.

For example, when Apollo 1 went up in flames, killing all three astronauts in 1967, engineers ended the use of high oxygen atmospheres in manned space vehicles. But, when climate models on which the global warming scare is based fail to forecast what actually happens in the real world, when cyclones and strong tornadoes diminish, when ice cover in Antarctica increases, Obama and his fellow alarmists simply raise the rhetoric.

Trying to scare us away, he labels scientists who want to base policy on real-world observations as members of “the Flat Earth Society.” Such name-calling merely strengthens our resolve to expose the most serious climate threat we face — the exploitation of public ignorance by alarmists such as Obama.

The president was, however, right to say: “This is not just a job for politicians. So I’m going to need all of you to educate your classmates, your colleagues, your parents, your friends. Tell them what’s at stake. Speak up at town halls, church groups, PTA meetings. Push back on misinformation. Speak up for the facts. Broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future.”

Yes, that is exactly what we will continue to do. Because you are wrong, Mr. President, dangerously wrong. America is too important for anyone, even those of us who are not U.S. citizens, to let it die because of a lie. And much of what you told Georgetown students on Tuesday was indeed a lie.


How Much Warming Will the President’s Plan Avert? (Hint: It’s way too small to be detected or verified)

President Obama unveiled his Climate Change Action Plan at Georgetown University today. As expected, the President advocated carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for new and existing coal-fired power plants, tough new energy efficiency standards for homes and appliances, and federal support for private renewable energy investment on public lands.

Congress’s failure to approve his plan would have “a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren,” Mr. Obama contended.

The President’s plan, however, provides no specifics on the EPA’s pending power plant emission standards, nor does it estimate how many tons of CO2 emissions those standards will avoid or reduce.

Surprisingly, the 21-page plan contains only four emission reduction estimates. The administration’s fuel economy standards are projected to avoid 6000 million tons of CO2; appliance efficiency standards, 3000 million tons; heavy truck fuel economy standards, 270 million tons; and improved forestry practices, 140 million tons. The grand total of itemized CO2 reductions is 9,410 million tons.

How much climate change will that avert? Too little to be detected or verified.

Cato Institute climatologist Chip Knappenberger provides a plausible way to calculate the global warming mitigation effect of any CO2 reduction proposal. He describes the underlying methodology here.

Suffice it to say, the key factors one must nail down are (1) the relationship between CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations, and (2) the relationship between concentrations and global temperatures.

Using both empirical correlation (how atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global temperatures have changed over time) and the mid-range of climate model sensitivity assumptions, Knappenberger deduces that it takes 1,767,250 million metric tons of CO2 (mmtCO2) to raise the global temperature by 1.0 degree C.

Thus, to estimate how much global warming the Obama plan (or at least the quantified portion of it) will avoid, we divide the emission savings — 9,410 mmtCO2 – by 1,767,250. The plan will avert 0.0053°C of global warming. Planet saved!


Climate alarmism’s 10,000 commandments            

EPA fiats threaten American lives, livelihoods, living standards and life spans

Paul Driessen

The United States will “do more,” before it’s “too late” to prevent “dangerous” global warming, President Obama told Berliners last week. If Congress won’t act, he will, by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, increasing subsidies and reduce environmental overview for wind and solar projects on federal lands, and issuing other rules that will adversely affect economic growth and job creation.

Indeed, his Environmental Protection Agency is already devising new rules that will sharply curtail carbon dioxide emissions, by regulating thousands of facilities that use hydrocarbon energy – and thus ultimately almost everything Americans make, grow, ship, eat and do.

However, the manmade global warming “disasters” exist only in computer models and assertions by scientists who are addicted to billions in government Climate Armageddon grants. Moreover, the “preventative measures” are far worse than the disasters EPA claims to be preventing.

Even the most diehard alarmists have finally recognized that average global temperatures have hardly budged since 1997, even as atmospheric levels of plant-fertilizing CO2 climbed steadily. For many areas, the past winter was among the coldest in decades; the USA and Britain just recorded one their coldest springs on record; and satellite data show that Earth has actually cooled slightly since 2002.

The frequency and severity of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts are no different from observed trends and cycles over the last century. 2012 set records for the fewest strong tornadoes since 1954 and the number of years with no category 3 or higher hurricane making US landfall. (The vicious tornadoes of recent weeks underscore how quickly the weather can swing back to normal patterns.) Arctic sea ice is within a few percentage points of “normal” levels for the past fifty years, and the rate of sea level rise is not accelerating.

These facts completely contradict computer model predictions and alarmist claims. Moreover, as Climategate and numerous studies have shown, the “science” behind EPA’s ruling that carbon dioxide “endangers” human health and welfare is conjectural, manufactured, manipulated and even fraudulent.

EPA is supposed to protect our environment, health and welfare. Instead, it “safeguards” us from exaggerated or illusory risks – by issuing mountains of costly, intrusive regulations that endanger our health, wellbeing and wildlife far more than any reasonably foreseeable effects from climate change.

This accumulation of anti-hydrocarbon restrictions and penalties is putting EPA in control of nearly every aspect of our lives. Fuel, compliance and business costs will soar. Companies will be forced to outsource work to other countries, reduce work forces, shift people to part-time status, or close their doors.

Poor and minority families will be unable to heat and cool their homes properly, pay their rent or mortgage, buy clothing and medicine, take vacations, pay their bills, give to charity, and save for college and retirement.

With twelve million Americans already out of work, and another eight million working multiple lower-paying, part-time jobs, EPA’s global warming and 1,920 other rules over the past four years translate into unprecedented sleep deprivation, lower economic and educational status, and soaring anxiety and stress. That will mean greater risk of strokes and heart attacks; higher incidences of depression, alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse; more suicides; and declining overall life expectancy.

EPA’s new 54.5 mpg fuel efficiency standards will force more people into smaller, lighter, less safe cars – causing thousands of needless additional serious injuries and deaths every year – in the name of preventing illusory climate and oil and gas depletion crises.

Federal regulators use the same phony climate change and energy depletion arguments to justify letting wind turbine operators slaughter millions of birds and bats every year – including bald and golden eagles, hawks, condors and whooping cranes. They continue to promote and subsidize $50-per-gallon biofuels, to replace oil and natural gas that the world still has in abundance – thanks to new exploration, drilling and production technologies. This focus on biofuels also means more rainforests and other wildlife habitats are being cut down in the name of “renewable” energy.

EPA and President Obama never consider any of this, in calculating the supposed “benefits” of their onerous regulations. They refuse to recognize that their hysterical claims of climate cataclysms are increasingly indefensible. They ignore the damage that their heavy-handed rules impose on our health, welfare and environmental quality.

EPA finds, punishes and even targets anyone who violates any of its ten thousand commandments, even inadvertently. The agency’s climate change actions, however, are not inadvertent. They are deliberate, and their effects are harmful and far reaching. They will affect every American and 100% of our economy.

And yet, these increasingly powerful bureaucrats – who seek and acquire ever more control over our lives – remain faceless, nameless, unelected and unaccountable. They operate largely behind closed doors, issuing regulations and arranging sweetheart “sue and settle” legal actions with radical environmentalist groups, to advance ideological agendas, without regard for their impacts on our lives, livelihoods, living standards, health, welfare and environment.

They know that, for them, there is rarely any real transparency, accountability or consequences – even for gross stupidity, major screw-ups, flagrant abuses or deliberate harm.

We need to save our environment from environmentalists and EPA – and safeguard our liberties, living standards and lives against the arrogance of too-powerful politicians and bureaucrats. How we achieve this, while protecting our lives and environment from real risks, is one of the greatest challenges we face.


Yawn....  Not another food shortage scare!

These false prophecies have been going on since Malthus.  Dodgy estimates combined with dodgy estimates are all we see below.

Just to put one perspective on what is possible foodwise, note that Cape York Peninsula in Australia is about the size of Britain yet is totally undeveloped agriculturally.  It is not generally a high rainfall area but wheat is not a high rainfall crop.  The soils are rather poor but Chinese market gardeners in the goldrush days got plenty out of them.  One could go on ...


Several studies have shown that global crop production needs to double by 2050 to meet the projected demands from rising population, diet shifts, and increasing biofuels consumption. Boosting crop yields to meet these rising demands, rather than clearing more land for agriculture has been highlighted as a preferred solution to meet this goal. However, we first need to understand how crop yields are changing globally, and whether we are on track to double production by 2050. Using ~2.5 million agricultural statistics, collected for ~13,500 political units across the world, we track four key global crops—maize, rice, wheat, and soybean—that currently produce nearly two-thirds of global agricultural calories. We find that yields in these top four crops are increasing at 1.6%, 1.0%, 0.9%, and 1.3% per year, non-compounding rates, respectively, which is less than the 2.4% per year rate required to double global production by 2050. At these rates global production in these crops would increase by ~67%, ~42%, ~38%, and ~55%, respectively, which is far below what is needed to meet projected demands in 2050. We present detailed maps to identify where rates must be increased to boost crop production and meet rising demands.

Citation: Ray DK, Mueller ND, West PC, Foley JA (2013) Yield Trends Are Insufficient to Double Global Crop Production by 2050. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66428. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066428


Global Cooling Causes Extreme Weather too!

Anything will do for an attention-geting scare

In an interview with Science News in 1975, C C Wallen, Head of the Special Environmental Applications Division of the World Meteorological Organization, had this to say about the consequences of the cooling trend since 1940:-

The principal weather change likely to accompany the cooling trend is increased variability-alternating extremes of temperature and precipitation in any given area-which would almost certainly lower average crop yields.

During cooler climatic periods the high-altitude winds are broken up into irregular cells by weaker and more plentiful pressure centers, causing formation of a "meridional circulation" pattern. These small, weak cells may stagnate over vast areas for many months, bringing unseasonably cold weather on one side and unseasonably warm weather on the other. Droughts and floods become more frequent and may alternate season to season, as they did last year in India. Thus, while the hemisphere as a whole is cooler, individual areas may alternately break temperature and precipitation records at both extremes.


Batty Euro ruling that's threatening churches: Directive giving protection to bats could see dozens of religious buildings closed because of damage animals cause

Medieval churches that survived the ‘ravages of the Reformation’ are under threat from a Brussels directive giving blanket protection to bats, MPs were warned yesterday.

Sir Tony Baldry, who represents the Church of England in the Commons, said dozens of parish churches were facing potential closure because of the crippling cost of dealing with bat infestations.

He told MPs that bat droppings were causing serious damage to medieval wall paintings, sculptures and wooden effigies - as well as posing a potential health hazard that has already forced the closure of one parish church.

But under the EU Habitats Directive, bats are given sweeping protections, making it impossible for the church authorities to deal with them.

Appealing to the Government to licence the destruction of bat nests, Sir Tony said: ‘Many of the churches affected by bat infestation are approaching a situation where their buildings may be unsustainable as a place of worship.

‘Now it is sometimes said that excluding bats from churches will render the bats homeless. But actually there is every chance that church congregations will find themselves homeless and without a place of worship with listed buildings left unoccupied and that is surely a solution which is undesirable for both bats and people.”

He went on: ‘I cannot believe that the European Commission would want a situation in which it was not possible for congregations to worship in churches that go back to the time of the Conqueror, because of bat infestations.

Citing an example in his constituency in Banbury, Oxfordshire, he added: ‘The church of St Peter ad Vincula at South Newington in my own constituency has some very fine, almost unique, medieval wall paintings which seem to have been spared Thomas Cromwell’s men.

‘But having survived the ravages of the Reformation they are now threatened by bat urine.

‘And these are irreplaceable parts of our natural heritage.’ Under the terms of the EU Habitats Directive, destroying the breeding sites or resting places of bats is a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of six months in prison.

The situation has left many churches facing huge cleaning and repair bills, and even forced them to take additional measures to accommodate their unwanted guests.

For example, the small parish church of Wiggenhall, St Germans, was forced to fit a ‘bat flap’ when replacing a small broken window pane, pushing up the cost from £5 to £140.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon acknowledged that churches faced serious problems from bats, but warned that issuing licences would lead to lengthy and costly legal challenges.

He suggested that concerned congregations should contact the ‘National Bat Helpline’ for advice on minimising the damage caused by bat colonies.

The Government is focusing on making sure that guidance issued by the helpline and by conservation body Natural England is ‘clear, proportionate and unambiguous’.

The Government is also funding research looking into bat deterrents and alternative roosting sites such as bat boxes.

Mr Benyon said so far acoustic devices are providing the best hope and further trials will be rolled out this year to prove that bats will not get used to them.

He said: ‘Since this has been brought to my attention, it’s rather changed the way I look at churches, and occasionally my mind strays from the sermon now and I look up to see the impact bats may be having in my own church and elsewhere.”

Mr Benyon went on: ‘Like you, I simply do not believe that it was the intention of those who drafted the Habitats Directive to render places of worship unusable to congregations or to impose unreasonable financial burdens to those congregations.’




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


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Weak solar cycle 25 means keep your Long Johns

If the notion of global warming has gotten you all hot and bothered, here’s something to really worry about. What if just the opposite is occurring and global temperatures not only continue to remain flat, but get much colder for a very long time? In fact, that’s exactly what some highly credentialed and well-informed scientists are predicting.

Yes, and what if carbon dioxide, particularly that 3 percent of total atmospheric CO2 we humans produce, winds up being a bit player, at the very most, on the stage of climactic scene changes? Instead, imagine that the leading roles are performed by other actors, principally the Sun and oceans who follow scripts written, produced and directed by none other than that incomparable impresario, Mother Nature herself.

Where, Oh Where, Has that Global Warming Gone?

For starters, while it should be understood that climate really does change, it’s also appropriate to recognize that global temperatures have been essentially flat since at least 1998. Recent readings taken from more than 30,000 measuring stations and released in 2012 by the U.K.’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia University Climate Research Unit show that world temperatures hadn’t warmed over the past 15 years.

In fact, about half of all estimated warming since 1900 occurred before the mid-1940s despite continuously rising CO2 levels since that time.

The past century has witnessed two generally accepted periods of warming (although whether or not the second can be proven will be debated by experts in an upcoming article…so stay tuned). The first occurred between 1900 and 1945. Since CO2 levels were relatively low then compared with now, and didn’t change much, they couldn’t have been the cause before 1950.

The second possible warming, following a slight cool-down, may have begun in the late 1970s lasting until 1998, a strong Pacific Ocean El Niño year. Yet even if global temperatures actually did rise very slightly during that second period, the U.K. Hadley Center and U.S. NOAA balloon instrument analyses fail to show any evidence, whatsoever, of a human CO2 emission-influenced warming telltale “signature” in the upper troposphere over the equator as predicted by all UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global circulation models.

Climate change has been going on for a very long time…dating back to always. It actually began to occur even before the advent of flatulent dinosaurs, industrial smoke stacks and SUVs. And although temperatures have been generally mild over about the past 150 years (since the end of the last “Little Ice Age”…not a true Ice Age), we should remember that significant fluctuations are normal.

Spotlights on the Sun

Many scientific studies indicate that the global climate will soon enter a substantial cooling phase attributable to a weak new solar cycle. This is predicted due to important modulating cloud-forming influences of cosmic rays throughout periods of reduced sunspot activity. More clouds tend to make conditions cooler, while fewer often cause warming.

Solar output typically goes through 11-year cycles, with high numbers of sunspots seen at their peak. We are currently approaching the peak of “Solar Cycle 24,” yet sunspot numbers are running at less than half of those observed during other 20th century peaks. A paper released by the Met Office, the U.K.’s national weather office, projected a 92 percent chance that both Solar Cycle 25, and those taking place in following decades, will be as weak, or weaker than, a “Dalton minimum” of 1790 to 1830. That’s when average European temperatures fell by 2º Celsius.

Some prominent U.S. and Russian solar physicists predict that Planet Earth may very well be heading into a period of protracted cooling due to a lengthy spell of low sunspot activity … potentially entering another Little Ice Age. The last event of this type, which occurred in the middle of the 16th century, wasn’t broadly regarded as a good time. That period, lasting about 150 years, killed millions in Europe, ending soon after Washington’s troops suffered brutal winter temperatures at Valley Forge in 1777, and Napoleon’s experienced a bitterly cold retreat from Russia in 1812.

Matt Penn and William Livingston of the U.S. National Solar Observatory and U.S. Air Force Laboratory believe that the Earth is entering a cooling phase based upon three different analyses of the Sun’s recent behavior. It is now in the final stages of Solar Cycle 24, “the weakest in more than 50 years.” They predict that by the time Solar Cycle 25 soon arrives, “magnetic fields on the Sun will be so weak that few sunspots will be formed.”

Scientists at Russia’s prestigious Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg have stated that solar activity is waning to such an extent that the global average yearly temperature will begin to decline into a very cold and protracted climate phase. Observatory head Habibullo Abdussamatov, one of the world’s leading solar scientists, member of the Russian Academy of Science, and director of the Russian segment of the International Space Station, believes that the deep freeze will last until the end of this century. He predicts that: “after the maximum of Solar Cycle 24, from approximately 2014, we can expect the start of the next bicentennial cycle of deep cooling with a Little Ice Age in 2055 plus or minus 11 years” (the 19th to occur in the past 7,500 years).

Dr. Abdussamatov points out that over the last 1,000 years deep cold periods have occurred five times. Each is correlated with declines in solar irradiance much like we are experiencing now — with no human influence. “A global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions. The common view of Man’s industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect.”

Many solar experts challenge Met Office claims that the greenhouse effects of man-made carbon dioxide are sufficiently strong to overwhelm potential solar cooling, much less to produce net warming. They point out that the Met’s assessment is based upon highly theoretical climate models that exaggerate CO2 influence, while failing to account for numerous other more important contributing factors.

Judith Curry, a well-known climatologist who chairs the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, finds the Met’s confident prediction of a “negligible” solar impact “difficult to understand”. She has stated that “The responsible thing to do would be to accept the fact that the models may have severe shortcomings when it comes to the influence of the Sun”. As for a predicted warming pause, she said that many scientists “are not surprised”.

Curry also notes important contributions of 60-year Pacific and Atlantic Ocean temperature cycles, observing that they have been “insufficiently appreciated in terms of global climate”. When both oceans were cold in the past, such as from 1940 to 1970, the climate cooled. The Pacific “flipped” back from a warm to a cold mode in 2008, and the Atlantic is also thought likely to flip back in the next few years.

How Oceans Make Climate Waves

As pointed out in my recent article, “Meteorologist Joe Bastardi: Blaming Turbulent Weather on Global Warming is Extreme Nonsense,” changing climate and fluctuating weather consequences are driven primarily by natural changes in solar cycles, ocean temperatures and “stochastic events” such as volcanoes. The first two occur on various long-term cycles; decades and centuries with the Sun, and decades for the oceans. The stochastic events are random wild cards.

Right now we’re seeing the same kind of major events on a regional scale that occurred in the early 1950s. That was the last time the Pacific Ocean shifted its temperature phase from warm to cold when the Atlantic was in a warm phase, and globally, the Earth’s temperatures have fallen about 0.05° C in the last four years. The European and Far East winters also look very similar now to those in the 1950s. Alaska has once again turned much colder, just as it did then when the Pacific temperatures cooled and sea ice expanded.

Here in the U.S., a drop in tropical Pacific temperatures causes less moisture to be present in the atmosphere than when that ocean is in its warming state. That causes conditions to be drier, especially near and east of the Rockies, as well as in the Deep South. This is when we see hotter, drier summers; winters tend be warmer earlier, and colder later. We’re also seeing colder spring temperatures caused by a multi-decadal warming temperature shift in the Atlantic which has greatest influence in the late winter and spring, forcing what is called a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

Based upon ocean temperatures alone (not including solar influences), springs like this year in the lower 48 U.S. states, although not as extremely cold, can be expected to be more common during the next 5 to 10 years. We can also expect to witness increased tornado activity which is linked to the cold decadal Pacific shift and a cooling globe. This happens when cool air in northwest North America trying to find a pathway southeast collides with warm air coming from the south in a clash zone right in the center of our nation.

As Joe Bastardi observes, “Mother Nature is always searching for a balance she can never fully achieve because of the design of the system. It’s not unlike Aquinas’s search for the unmoved mover. We rotate around the Sun on an axis that tilts, with more land in the Northern Hemisphere than Southern Hemisphere. [Climate and] weather is a movie, so we have to keep an eye on what the director is up to.”

So while some alarmists have screamed about the northern ice cap melting due to warming, a condition actually caused by the Atlantic’s multi-decadal phase, the southern ice cap has increased to record levels. This is even a more impressive feat because, since being surrounded by water, it requires more cooling to freeze that ice than it does to warm cold dry air on continental surfaces that surround the Arctic Ocean. But as soon as the Atlantic goes into its cold mode, the northern ice cap will expand again as the southern ice cap shrinks. This is but one example of how the back-and-forth mechanism works.

Climate of Fear and Foreboding

Keep in mind that recent global warming alarmism has centered upon a temperature trend that began in the 1980s, occurring less than a decade after our planet came out of a three-decade cooling trend that led many to fear a coming Ice Age. As the late world-renowned atmospheric scientist Reid Bryson, formerly a leader in voicing Ice Age concern in the 1970s, said: “Before there were enough people to make any difference at all, 2 million years ago, nobody was changing the climate, yet the climate was changing, okay?” He went on to comment “You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide.”

Also consider, as David Whitehouse at the Global Warming Policy Foundation points out, if current global temperature trends remain flat or become cooler, “it will mean that no one who has just reached adulthood, or younger, will have witnessed the Earth get warmer during their lifetime.”

Vladimir Bashkin and Rauf Kaliulin from the Institute of Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences state that warming during our past century is something we should have expected when coming out of a the Little Ice Age rather than resulting from any changes caused by human activities. Cold causes more disruptions for people than warming, and humanity has always prospered most during warmer periods.

Whether cooling continues or not, is there any reason at all to panic? No, but by the same token if, for any reason, global warming resumes as it probably will, again and again following intermittent cool-downs, let’s be grateful for the many human health and welfare benefits it brings. Let’s celebrate times when CO2-dependent agriculture flourishes over extended growing seasons, and when cold-related death rates decline. Also, in the unlikely event that we humans can and do have any influence on climate, let’s really hope that the good ol’ plant-nourishing CO2 we release will help rescue us from a truly chilling alternative.

In the meantime, however, it might be a good idea to hedge your bets. If I were you, I wouldn’t discard those flannel Long Johns just yet. There’s a very good chance that you are going to need them over the next many years.


Obama unveils his climate plan

Declaring that the world does not have time for “a meeting of the flat earth society” before it acts on climate change, US President Barack Obama has unveiled a package of measures to reduce American carbon emissions, lead global moves towards clean energy and prepare for the impact of climate change.

The President said questions about the cause and potential impact of climate change had been put to rest by the “overwhelming judgment of science”.

Mopping his brow as he spoke in 33 degree heat at Georgetown University in Washington DC, Mr Obama announced he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to draft emission standards for new power plants this year and existing power plants next year.  “Power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air for free,” he said. “It needs to stop.”

The plans are part of the effort to meet a previously stated goal to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The President said he would direct the State Department not to approve the controversial Keystone pipeline, planned to pipe oil from Canada’s vast tar sands oil reserves to America’s Gulf Coast, if it was shown the project would lead to “significantly” increased emissions.

And he has announced increased funding for clean energy technology with a view to doubling wind and solar production by 2020.

“The question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements, has put all that to rest,” said Mr Obama. “So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late.”

He said 12 of the hottest years on record had been in the past 15 years and argued that gradually moving away from a carbon economy should not necessarily cost jobs.

Though the President called for an end to the partisan debate over climate change, he tacitly acknowledged that bipartisan action in Washington was impossible by creating a set of measures he could implement through administrative order rather than by trying to drive new laws through Congress.

He announced an end to US public financing of dirty coal fired power stations internationally and an end to tax subsidies of fossil fuels within the United States.

Tackling climate change has long been a goal of Mr Obama, though it has been delayed by his first term focus on healthcare reform and the Democratic Party’s loss of control in the House of Representatives in 2010.

The measures announced on Tuesday fulfill a promise – or threat - made in State of the Union address earlier this year, in which the President said, “if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will."

“I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

The President said the United States should deepen its reliance on natural gas as a bridging fuel for the move away from dirtier energy sources.

The Republican Party’s Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell who represents the coal-rich state of Kentucky, said the plan was "tantamount to declaring a war on jobs. It's tantamount to kicking the ladder out from beneath the feet of many Americans struggling in today's economy."

Even before the White House had the announced the details the Republican House Speaker John Boehner said “I think this is absolutely crazy, why would you want to increase the cost of energy and kill more American jobs at a time when American people are asking, 'Where are the jobs.' "

Before the White House had even posted a transcript of the speech on its website the President’s political machine, Organizing for Action had begun emailing its members calling on them to begin activism in support of the package.

What Obama announced:

 *    Cutting Carbon Emissions: Order the EPA to finish carbon pollution standards for new power plants this year and existing power plants in 2014. [Carbon pollution from power plants is currently unlimited.];

 *    Renewable Energy: Double electricity fueled by renewable energy by 2020 nationally and increase federal government use of renewable energy from 7.5 percent currently to 20 percent by 2020;

 *    Coal: End U.S. public financing of coal-fired plants overseas, exempting only those using the cleanest technology available in those countries;

 *    Taxes: End tax subsidies for fossil fuels;

 *    Autos: Develop post 2018 fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles;

 *    Conduct first Quadrennial Energy Review and Climate Data Initiative to gather climate and energy data and make it publicly available;

International: Seek ambitious U.N. climate change treaty by 2015 and lead multilateral emission reduction efforts.


Green rules will leave Europe importing even dirtier fuel from elsewhere

Draconian green regulations risk putting European refineries out of business, leaving the continent importing more fuels from dirtier plants elsewhere in the world, Essar Energy has warned.

Volker Schultz, head of Essar’s Stanlow refinery, said the group was “really concerned about and will lobby hard against” a raft of EU measures that will disadvantage European refiners.

“If the EU goes out on a limb and imposes quite draconian measures on European refineries, forcing refineries to shut and therefore less environmentally friendly refineries elsewhere will have to take up slack, you don’t help local communities and you don’t help the global environment,” he warned. “We need a level playing field.”

Refineries are already struggling with overcapacity and Mr Schultz said that more refineries would close, potentially in the UK, even without the burden of green rules.

Mr Schultz was speaking as Essar Energy finally delivering some cheer for shareholders with full year results beating analyst expectations, helping the group’s share price rise 3 to 122p.

Essar also revealed that it was in early stage talks with companies exploring for "coal bed methane" gas in the north-west of the UK over possible supply arrangements for its Stanlow refinery. The site recently underwent a conversion to being powered by natural gas from the grid.


Climate Expert von Storch: Why Is Global Warming Stagnating?

Climate experts have long predicted that temperatures would rise in parallel with greenhouse gas emissions. But, for 15 years, they haven't. In a SPIEGEL interview, meteorologist Hans von Storch discusses how this "puzzle" might force scientists to alter what could be "fundamentally wrong" models.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Storch, Germany has recently seen major flooding. Is global warming the culprit?

Storch: I'm not aware of any studies showing that floods happen more often today than in the past. I also just attended a hydrologists' conference in Koblenz, and none of the scientists there described such a finding.

SPIEGEL: But don't climate simulations for Germany's latitudes predict that, as temperatures rise, there will be less, not more, rain in the summers?

Storch: That only appears to be contradictory. We actually do expect there to be less total precipitation during the summer months. But there may be more extreme weather events, in which a great deal of rain falls from the sky within a short span of time. But since there has been only moderate global warming so far, climate change shouldn't be playing a major role in any case yet.

SPIEGEL: Would you say that people no longer reflexively attribute every severe weather event to global warming as much as they once did?

Storch: Yes, my impression is that there is less hysteria over the climate. There are certainly still people who almost ritualistically cry, "Stop thief! Climate change is at fault!" over any natural disaster. But people are now talking much more about the likely causes of flooding, such as land being paved over or the disappearance of natural flood zones -- and that's a good thing.

SPIEGEL: Will the greenhouse effect be an issue in the upcoming German parliamentary elections? Singer Marius Müller-Westernhagen is leading a celebrity initiative calling for the addition of climate protection as a national policy objective in the German constitution.

Storch: It's a strange idea. What state of the Earth's atmosphere do we want to protect, and in what way? And what might happen as a result? Are we going to declare war on China if the country emits too much CO2 into the air and thereby violates our constitution?

SPIEGEL: Yet it was climate researchers, with their apocalyptic warnings, who gave people these ideas in the first place.

Storch: Unfortunately, some scientists behave like preachers, delivering sermons to people. What this approach ignores is the fact that there are many threats in our world that must be weighed against one another. If I'm driving my car and find myself speeding toward an obstacle, I can't simple yank the wheel to the side without first checking to see if I'll instead be driving straight into a crowd of people. Climate researchers cannot and should not take this process of weighing different factors out of the hands of politics and society.

SPIEGEL: Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, outside Berlin, is currently Chancellor Angela Merkel's climate adviser. Why does she need one?

Storch: I've never been chancellor myself. But I do think it would be unwise of Merkel to listen to just a single scientist. Climate research is made up of far too many different voices for that. Personally, though, I don't believe the chancellor has delved deeply into the subject. If she had, she would know that there are other perspectives besides those held by her environmental policy administrators.

SPIEGEL: Just since the turn of the millennium, humanity has emitted another 400 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, yet temperatures haven't risen in nearly 15 years. What can explain this?

Storch: So far, no one has been able to provide a compelling answer to why climate change seems to be taking a break. We're facing a puzzle. Recent CO2 emissions have actually risen even more steeply than we feared. As a result, according to most climate models, we should have seen temperatures rise by around 0.25 degrees Celsius (0.45 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 10 years. That hasn't happened. In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) -- a value very close to zero. This is a serious scientific problem that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will have to confront when it presents its next Assessment Report late next year.

SPIEGEL: Do the computer models with which physicists simulate the future climate ever show the sort of long standstill in temperature change that we're observing right now?

Storch: Yes, but only extremely rarely. At my institute, we analyzed how often such a 15-year stagnation in global warming occurred in the simulations. The answer was: in under 2 percent of all the times we ran the simulation. In other words, over 98 percent of forecasts show CO2 emissions as high as we have had in recent years leading to more of a temperature increase.

SPIEGEL: How long will it still be possible to reconcile such a pause in global warming with established climate forecasts?

Storch: If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models. A 20-year pause in global warming does not occur in a single modeled scenario. But even today, we are finding it very difficult to reconcile actual temperature trends with our expectations.

SPIEGEL: What could be wrong with the models?

Storch: There are two conceivable explanations -- and neither is very pleasant for us. The first possibility is that less global warming is occurring than expected because greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have less of an effect than we have assumed. This wouldn't mean that there is no man-made greenhouse effect, but simply that our effect on climate events is not as great as we have believed. The other possibility is that, in our simulations, we have underestimated how much the climate fluctuates owing to natural causes.

SPIEGEL: That sounds quite embarrassing for your profession, if you have to go back and adjust your models to fit with reality…

Storch: Why? That's how the process of scientific discovery works. There is no last word in research, and that includes climate research. It's never the truth that we offer, but only our best possible approximation of reality. But that often gets forgotten in the way the public perceives and describes our work.

SPIEGEL: But it has been climate researchers themselves who have feigned a degree of certainty even though it doesn't actually exist. For example, the IPCC announced with 95 percent certainty that humans contribute to climate change.

Storch: And there are good reasons for that statement. We could no longer explain the considerable rise in global temperatures observed between the early 1970s and the late 1990s with natural causes. My team at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, in Hamburg, was able to provide evidence in 1995 of humans' influence on climate events. Of course, that evidence presupposed that we had correctly assessed the amount of natural climate fluctuation. Now that we have a new development, we may need to make adjustments.

SPIEGEL: In which areas do you need to improve the models?

Storch: Among other things, there is evidence that the oceans have absorbed more heat than we initially calculated. Temperatures at depths greater than 700 meters (2,300 feet) appear to have increased more than ever before. The only unfortunate thing is that our simulations failed to predict this effect.

SPIEGEL: That doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Storch: Certainly the greatest mistake of climate researchers has been giving the impression that they are declaring the definitive truth. The end result is foolishness along the lines of the climate protection brochures recently published by Germany's Federal Environmental Agency under the title "Sie erwärmt sich doch" ("The Earth is getting warmer"). Pamphlets like that aren't going to convince any skeptics.

It's not a bad thing to make mistakes and have to correct them. The only thing that was bad was acting beforehand as if we were infallible. By doing so, we have gambled away the most important asset we have as scientists: the public's trust. We went through something similar with deforestation, too -- and then we didn't hear much about the topic for a long time.

SPIEGEL: Does this throw the entire theory of global warming into doubt?

Storch: I don't believe so. We still have compelling evidence of a man-made greenhouse effect. There is very little doubt about it. But if global warming continues to stagnate, doubts will obviously grow stronger.

SPIEGEL: Do scientists still predict that sea levels will rise?

Storch: In principle, yes. Unfortunately, though, our simulations aren't yet capable of showing whether and how fast ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica will melt -- and that is a very significant factor in how much sea levels will actually rise. For this reason, the IPCC's predictions have been conservative. And, considering the uncertainties, I think this is correct.

SPIEGEL: And how good are the long-term forecasts concerning temperature and precipitation?

Storch: Those are also still difficult. For example, according to the models, the Mediterranean region will grow drier all year round. At the moment, however, there is actually more rain there in the fall months than there used to be. We will need to observe further developments closely in the coming years. Temperature increases are also very much dependent on clouds, which can both amplify and mitigate the greenhouse effect. For as long as I've been working in this field, for over 30 years, there has unfortunately been very little progress made in the simulation of clouds.

SPIEGEL: Despite all these problem areas, do you still believe global warming will continue?

Storch: Yes, we are certainly going to see an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or more -- and by the end of this century, mind you. That's what my instinct tells me, since I don't know exactly how emission levels will develop. Other climate researchers might have a different instinct. Our models certainly include a great number of highly subjective assumptions. Natural science is also a social process, and one far more influenced by the spirit of the times than non-scientists can imagine. You can expect many more surprises.

SPIEGEL: What exactly are politicians supposed to do with such vague predictions?

Storch: Whether it ends up being one, two or three degrees, the exact figure is ultimately not the important thing. Quite apart from our climate simulations, there is a general societal consensus that we should be more conservative with fossil fuels. Also, the more serious effects of climate change won't affect us for at least 30 years. We have enough time to prepare ourselves.

SPIEGEL: In a SPIEGEL interview 10 years ago, you said, "We need to allay people's fear of climate change." You also said, "We'll manage this." At the time, you were harshly criticized for these comments. Do you still take such a laidback stance toward global warming?

Storch: Yes, I do. I was accused of believing it was unnecessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is not the case. I simply meant that it is no longer possible in any case to completely prevent further warming, and thus it would be wise of us to prepare for the inevitable, for example by building higher ocean dikes. And I have the impression that I'm no longer quite as alone in having this opinion as I was then. The climate debate is no longer an all-or-nothing debate -- except perhaps in the case of colleagues such as a certain employee of Schellnhuber's, whose verbal attacks against anyone who expresses doubt continue to breathe new life into the climate change denial camp.

SPIEGEL: Are there findings related to global warming that worry you?

Storch: The potential acidification of the oceans due to CO2 entering them from the atmosphere. This is a phenomenon that seems sinister to me, perhaps in part because I understand too little about it. But if marine animals are no longer able to form shells and skeletons well, it will affect nutrient cycles in the oceans. And that certainly makes me nervous.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Storch, thank you for this interview.


Energy Politics

 Just a week after China agreed to buy $270 billion worth of oil from Russia over the next 25 years, America is ready to stick a knife into the ailing coal industry while teeing up regulations that will severely hamper natural gas. When the deal is announced, up to 280 coal-fired units could be forced closed, taking more than 40,000 megawatts of power offline.

If you think it's going to be replaced by wind and solar you are greatly mistaken. The coal plants affected by the unleashing of the EPA are mostly in the following states:

> Pennsylvania
> Ohio
> Georgia
> West Virginia
> North Carolina
> Kentucky
> Indiana

Those states have no solar or wind projects in the works, and it really wouldn't make a difference since only 3,000 megawatts of power is in the offing for all solar projects. Moreover, these projects have come at an immense expense to taxpayers while yielding very few benefits. It's mostly crony capitalism at its best. Take for instance the Topaz Solar project in California. After being penciled in for $1.9 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantees, a series of critical management mistakes caused the loan to be pulled ... in steps Mr. Buffett.

Warren Buffett and his Mid America Energy bought out ownership from First Solar and cut a 24 year deal with Pacific Gas and Electric to purchase overpriced solar power at above market prices. PG&E has no choice since California has mandated utilities must generate one third of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This mandate is another tax on ratepayers, including taxpayers and home and business owners.

In fact, it is estimated the sweetheart deal California Valley struck with the state will result in PG&E paying $463 million above rate over the lifetime of its existence. This project received a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee and will have to pay no property tax. So, when President Obama says electricity has to go higher to fulfill his goal it wasn't a lie. On the contrary, this is going to be extraordinarily painful to average Americans. So, what are the benefits? The industry will tell you solar savings around the world have thus far been equivalent to taking 1.1 million cars off the road and planting 138.3 million trees.

Before we dethrone Johnny Appleseed, let's be clear, no trees have been planted and not a single car has been replaced.

The biggest insult is the lack of permanent jobs being created from all our taxpayer dollars ... or, as the White House calls it: "investment."Current solar projects, manufacturing, bio fuels, and wind development cost American taxpayers $17.2 billion and will yield a grand total of 1,188 permanent jobs


Obama's "war on coal"

Did the New York Times Scrub ‘War On Coal’ Quote By Obama Advisor?

Looks that way — first up, in the Weekly Standard this morning, Daniel Halper wrote:

    "Daniel P. Schrag, a White House climate adviser and director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, tells the New York Times “a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” Later today, President Obama will give a major “climate change” address at Georgetown University.

    “Everybody is waiting for action,” Schrag tells the paper. “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

    Obama’s speech today is expected to offer “a sweeping plan to address climate change on Tuesday, setting ambitious goals and timetables for a series of executive actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and prepare the nation for the ravages of a warming planet,” according to the Times."

Here’s the full context of Schrag’s quotation:

        "Daniel P. Schrag, a geochemist who is the head of Harvard University’s Center for the Environment and a member of a presidential science panel that has helped advise the White House on climate change, said he hoped the presidential speech would mark a turning point in the national debate on climate change.

        “Everybody is waiting for action,” he said. “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”

If you follow the link provided by Halper, the quote by Schrag — and indeed any mention of his name — is missing, though it shows for the moment in the cached version in Google

The revised version of the article however, has been de-Schrag-ed, despite at least one early commenter referencing the quote:

Ever since current editor Jill Abramson famously said in 2011, “In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion. If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.” — only to have that quote airbrushed out hours later, it seems like the Times’ touch-up artists have gone into overdrive, removing doubleplusungood crimethink remarks, even after they’ve been quoted by dozens of blogs and Websites — and in this case, the Drudge Report  and Instapundit — before the Gray Lady has tossed the original quote down the Memory Hole.  But then, each time they airbrush an article, the original quote becomes magnified that much more.




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