Friday, July 12, 2013
EVERYTHING is caused by global warming
There was a recent claim that warming will shrink all animals and make dwarves (hobbits) of us. Below we read the opposite
Fossils of a giant lizard discovered in Burma have led scientists to believe a rise in temperature 40 million years ago caused plant-eating lizards to grow to the size of the 10ft dragons.
Scientists previously thought that large meat-eating dragons grew larger than their herbivore cousins because of a lack of predators.
These findings now from from the University of California and University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggest that a warmer climate is needed for large lizards to grow - and that global warming could cause this to happen again.
Fossils of the giant lizard were originally discovered in Myanmar in Burma by scientists from University of Iowa and Duke University in the 1970s, yet paleontologists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln only recently began studying them.
The lizard king was dubbed Barbaturex morrisoni, which means Bearded Morrison, and was named after The Doors' frontman Jim Morrison.
It had ridges along the inside of its mouth that suggest the animal may have a had a skin flap in its throat, this means the lizard was likely a plant-eater.
It is thought to have been around six-foot long from nose to tail.
Scientists believe it would have weighed about 68lbs and could have resembled the modern-day bearded dragons, but around six times the size.
The original findings were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B last month.
Temperatures at the time the lizard roamed the earth - thought to be around 40 million years ago - are believed to be significantly hotter than the current climate.
And now, following further analysis of the fossils, paleontologists from the UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology suggest this warm climate helped these cold-blooded animals grow larger.
They even believe that some modern-day reptiles may grow larger as global temperatures continue to rise.
'What's cool is that this is an example of gigantism in herbivorous lizards, which tells us that if you're a reptile and vegetarian, you have to have a warm environment,' said vertebrate paleontologist Patricia Holroyd of UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology.
'These guys were nearly six feet long and weighed about 60 pounds, bigger than the antelopes in the area.'
Because today's largest lizards, like the carnivorous Komodo Dragon of Komodo Island, Indonesia, are found solely on mammal-free islands, scientists have suggested that lizards can grow large only in the absence of large mammals that compete with them or eat them.
The new fossil find suggests that a warmer climate is also necessary for cold-blooded animals like lizards to grow large on a nutrient-poor leafy plant diet.
'We think the warm climate during that period of time allowed the evolution of a large body size and the ability of plant-eating lizards to successfully compete in mammal faunas,' Jason Head, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, added.
He noted that if global temperatures were to rise at a natural pace that preserves natural, healthy habitats, Earth could evolve giant lizards, turtles, snakes and crocodiles.
Britain's backing fracking, says the "Sun", a British red top (popular newspaper)
SHALE gas won the overwhelming support of Sun readers yesterday as the answer to the UK's energy crisis.
A poll we ran found almost three-quarters of you were in favour of mining the massive reserves - using technology known as fracking - which lie under many parts of the country.
Sun readers signalled, "We're backing fracking" by 71 per cent to 29 per cent after experts estimated there are 1.3trillion cubic feet of gas lying buried between Blackpool and Scarborough.
It is thought roughly a tenth of that could be accessed - enough to last the UK for over 40 years.
A total of 2,502 votes in our website poll showed 1,776 in favour and 726 against.
Chris Davies, Lib Dem MEP for North West England, said: "I've spoken to residents around the exploration sites who have concerns, as people near any industrial development would do.
"But yes, I am supportive subject to the right controls."
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: "Shale gas is a great opportunity for Britain. It could provide secure energy, generate investment and create jobs."
But Friends of the Earth's Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: "Shale gas has been hugely over-hyped. "It pollutes the atmosphere, it threatens communities and there's plenty of evidence that it won't drive down fuel bills."
ENERGY minister Ed Davey and Environment Agency chairman Chris Smith last night hit back at Lord Lawson.
The ex-Tory Energy Secretary called the pair "ugly sisters" harming chances of a UK shale gas boom.
But Lord Smith said: "Our approach is that fracking can be a major part of Britain's future energy needs."
Mr Davey said: "Lord Lawson perpetuates the myth we need to choose renewables or gas. We don't."
Britain can't afford to surrender to the greens on shale gas
If we give in to the green lobby, Britain will drift into an energy crisis
The scandal of official reluctance to develop Britain's shale gas potential is at last beginning to surface. It may prove to be the dress rehearsal for the ultimate drama - the inexorable collapse of our whole energy strategy.
Most of us have by now heard about the US shale gas revolution. In little more than six years, shale gas has reduced America's gas prices to a third of what they are in Europe, increased huge tax revenues, rebalanced the economy, created tens of thousands of jobs, brought industry and manufacturing back to the country's heartlands, and given rise to a real prospect of American energy self-sufficiency by 2030.
Britain may well have comparable shale resources. Indeed, the Bowman shale in Lancashire is a mile thick, whereas most US shale plays are just 300 to 500 feet thick - a strangely unpublicised piece of good news. If shale gas proves abundant it could help the government meet three key objectives: rebalancing the public finances by generating large tax revenues, rebalancing the economy by boosting manufacturing, and rebalancing the north/south divide by creating jobs and a whole new industry in the north.
We will only know for sure how much is there, and can be economically extracted, by drilling. So you might assume governments would be forcing the pace. Far from it. In 2011, the government imposed an 18-month moratorium. Since that ended, Cuadrilla - the only company which has drilled in the UK - has suffered further delays because of bizarre environmental obstacles. Department of Energy and Climate Change ministers have consistently talked down the industry's prospects. When the British Geological Survey recently dramatically revised up their estimates of Britain's shale potential, the department's chiefs allegedly told them to redo the figures - further delaying the publication of their findings until the summer. There is still no date for the next licensing round to open up more acreage for drilling.
Why is Britain dragging its feet? It is all the more puzzling because there is a widespread belief that governments are putty in the hands of Big Oil. The surefire way to win a burst of applause on Question Time is to assert, when anyone mentions the Iraq and Afghan wars, that `the real reason we went to war was oil'. Yet the petroleum industry has been singularly unsuccessful in galvanising the British government to open up its own shale resources.
Whatever the power of Big Oil in the past, it has been eclipsed by `Big Green'. The green lobby is in control of the Department for Energy (to the Treasury's dismay), its objectives are enshrined in law, it dominates the EU, and it is institutionalised in Whitehall via the Climate Change Committee. These state bodies are egged on by powerful environmental NGOs, which are heavily financed by the EU (WWF receives _600,000 and Friends of the Earth Europe _1.2 million) and our government (we pay WWF œ4.1 million) to create the semblance of popular support. These NGOs can deploy any uncorroborated scare story in their war against fossil fuels.
There is a legitimate argument that the world should phase out fossil fuels to minimise global warming. The power of that argument has weakened recently. Global temperatures have failed to rise for 16 years. Recent measures of how much global temperature rises as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases are far lower than is built into climate models. The case for unilateral action to decarbonise the EU economy has weakened because China, India, USA et al won't do likewise. Even EU solidarity is crumbling now that Germany is shutting its nuclear plants and building 20 new coal ones. So the idea of Britain going it alone is risible.
The green lobby has changed tack and adopted three separate arguments to put us off exploiting our shale gas potential. First it asserts that there isn't much there anyway, and what may be there will be impossible to extract technically, economically and socially. When the PM received a briefing on shale, Cuadrilla was excluded. The select committee instead had to listen to an array of bodies from the Committee on Climate Change to the WWF - none best known for their geological expertise. We would not ask British Gas how to protect pandas, so why we are consulting WWF about shale beats me.
Without evidence from drilling, all estimates of shale gas reserves are merely educated guesses. The answer, then, is to get on and drill, not listen to these Cassandras. If they believed their own downbeat assessments about the potential of shale, they would have nothing to worry about. They argue instead that we should not drill because we might find so much that we would be tempted away from the path of righteousness, which is to abandon fossil fuels.
They have a second, more plausible argument: that even if we find enough shale gas to meet UK needs it would not bring down the gas price here as it has in the US. We are linked into the EU gas grid, so prices are set by the cost of supplies to Europe. But if gas prices don't fall as much here, the tax revenues will be far higher than in the US - allowing Britain to reduce other costs correspondingly. (Incidentally, this makes tax breaks for shale proposed in the budget look unnecessary: why give concessions to Big Oil as well as Big Green?)
When pessimism about reserves and prices fail, the green lobby deploys scare stories with a reckless disregard for the truth comparable to the MMR scare. They claim fracking will harm the water table and trigger earthquakes. The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering has dismissed fears about water contamination. It concluded that any `health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing. can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced'. The British Geological Survey debunked the earthquake scare by pointing out that Britain annually experiences 150 natural or mining-related shocks of similar or greater strength without complaint, campaigns or moratoria on mining. But green campaigners - who denigrate anyone who queries the `scientific consensus' on climate change - reject out of hand the evidence of our official scientific and geological bodies when it refutes their position.
`They say if you can remember the Sixties, talk to the police.'
`They say if you can remember the Sixties, talk to the police.'
Fracking simply means pumping water under great pressure into shale beds several kilometres underground; tiny fissures open up which are then kept open by grains of sand so that the gas can flow out. Fracking itself lasts a few days - thereafter the field pumps gas much like any conventional field. Fracking is a tried and tested technology, used since 1947. More than 100,000 wells have been fracked in recent years. Before being ousted from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, John Hayes acknowledged that not a single person had been poisoned by fracking contaminating the water table. Nor has a single building been damaged by the almost imperceptible seismic tremors. Moreover, where UK shales are a mile thick, a single rig may be able to access shales that would require up to 20 drilling sites in the USA.
Ignoring facts, greens have preferred to pay heed to the propaganda film Gaslands, which shows tapwater bursting into flame. Yet its producer, Josh Fox, has been completely discredited. The documentary Fracknation filmed Fox admitting that he knew (but chose not to mention) that gas flowed from taps decades before fracking reached that area.
Sadly, Energy Secretary Ed Davey gave credence to these scare stories by ordering an unnecessary moratorium on drilling, when a fortnight's visit to the US would have confirmed that they were nonsense. Environmentalists don't want safer shale gas. They want no shale gas. Professor Kevin Anderson, former head of the Tyndall Centre and ayatollah of the green movement, frankly states that `from a climate-change perspective, this stuff simply has to stay in the ground'.
In this respect, the battle over shale gas is only the prelude to the impending energy crisis if we continue to pursue the government decarbonisation agenda. Greens in and out of government imagine that if shale gas can be kept in the ground or little is recoverable, decarbonising the British economy will be plain sailing. As imported gas becomes ever more expensive, the alternatives will grow cheaper by comparison.
Even if UK shales prove unproductive, it is inconceivable that fracking technology will only work in the US and be incapable of extracting huge quantities in other provinces - unless, as the pessimists clearly believe, God is an American. A worldwide shale revolution will dramatically change the supply and price balance in favour of gas.
In any case, a new report by Liberum Capital warns that `moving from a largely fossil-fuel-based power system to one dominated by renewables and nuclear in just a decade and a half, whilst keeping the lights on and consumer bills affordable, may simply be impossible'. It continues: `EU policy makers have grossly underestimated the difficulties and risks of their drive to decarbonise the power sector. A crisis in UK energy policy looks increasingly likely.' As a result, investors may refuse to fund Britain's œ430 billion programme of decarbonisation.
Other than nuclear power, which is painfully slow and increasingly expensive, there are simply no affordable renewable technologies available to replace fossil fuels. Wind, solar, tidal - all need fossil fuel back-up for the substantial periods when wind, sun and tide are not available. And the lowest-carbon fossil fuel is gas. That is why DECC's central projection actually shows Britain using more gas in 2030 than it does now.
Maybe it is the realisation that Britain is rapidly approaching a crisis of our own making that explains the sudden resignation of Jonathan Brearley, the civil servant who masterminded the Energy Bill currently going through Parliament, followed by the DECC's director of strategy, Ravi Gurumurthy. The Department for Energy and Climate Change is in disarray. With luck this will prompt ministers to question the direction in which they have been heading.
Some day, viable alternatives to fossil fuels will become available. But any policy based on the assumption that this is imminent is doomed to fail. The sooner we wake up to that fact and throw off the thrall of Big Green, the better.
California Senate Rejects Plastic Bag Ban
The California Senate rejected a bill that would ban the distribution of single-use plastic grocery bag. The ban failed despite spirited support from celebrities such as Bette Midler, Jackson Browne, and Rita Wilson.
This was the third time since 2010 the state legislature rejected a bill to ban the grocery bags. If passed, it would have banned the bags from large retailers beginning in 2015 and from smaller stores in 2016. Stores would have been expected to sell or give recyclable paper bags and reusable plastic or cloth grocery bags to customers.
Celebrity Throws Temper Tantrum
After the ban was rejected, Midler excoriated the lawmakers who voted against the measure: "Plastic bags are a scourge to the planet and everything that tries to live on it," Midler told the Los Angeles Times. "Shame on them all for caving," Midler added.
Kevin de Leon, a Democratic state senator from Los Angeles, said he voted against the bill because his district would lose 500 jobs as a result of the ban. He noted he had been inundated with phone calls by people who live in Malibu and stars who live in Hollywood, whom he chided for opposing public access to beaches in Malibu.
"Plastic bag bans are really about the Hollywood elite who don't shop in grocery stores vs. everyday people who rely on them for their strength, light weight, and convenience," said H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "Plus, people frequently reuse the plastic shopping bags for a variety of purposes, which addresses one of the alleged concerns of environmentalists."
Exaggerated Environmental Impact
Burnett said California's legislators made the right decision in rejecting the ban. The ban would have provided few if any net environmental benefits but would have destroyed California jobs, he explained.
"Political leaders have exaggerated the plastic bag problem, using figures that are unsubstantiated," said Burnett.
"Plastic bags make up only 0.5 percent of the waste stream-only half of one percent. So bag bans won't reduce waste appreciably, and what we've found is that in border cities, people shop in other cities without the bans because of the convenience," he explained.
A statewide ban would send jobs to other states and overseas to China," Burnett added.
Plastic Bag Benefits
Seton Motley, president of Less Government, a public policy organization that advocates free market solutions to societal issues, says bag bans are an unnecessary restriction that imposes inconvenience.
"The bags have multiple uses and easily meet the definition of `recyclable' in theory and practice," Motley said. "So why do a bunch of rich Hollywood leftists who don't even shop for their own groceries get to inconvenience the rest of us?
"More importantly, by banning plastic bags, California cities are waging germ warfare on their own citizens," Motley observed, noting food residue-and meat residue in particular-facilitates the growth of harmful bacteria in reused grocery bags.
A nasty organic hepatitis outbreak
Despite what apologists and promoters say, organic foods are not safer, and can be deadly
A recent hepatitis outbreak in USDA "certified-organic" frozen berry mix has people worrying and wondering what steps are being taken to ensure that organic food is safe. Unfortunately, not many.
A remarkably similar case occurred in Germany three years ago. Forty-four people died and 3,700 fell ill after eating E. coli-contaminated certified-organic bean sprouts. Hundreds of survivors will require kidney dialysis the rest of their lives. The cause was never definitively determined, although a nearby cattle operation was suspected of contaminating water used to sprout the organic sprouts.
All this raises critical questions. What measures were taken to ensure that water used on this organic sprouting operation was safe? Was there any testing? Is there any organic field testing now in response to that German tragedy? What about numerous other outbreaks in certified-organic food - like outbreaks of listeria, E. coli and salmonella in organic spinach for instance?
Have such incidents provided incentives for organic industry leaders to recognize the need to test crops in the field, to ensure that they're safe? Have they prodded government safety inspectors to require such tests? Are organic crops already tested to ensure that these kinds of things don't happen again?
Sadly, the answer to all these questions is no or nothing. Instead, with steady media help, incidents that should spur the organic industry to take action invariably become mere bumps along the road toward expanding a food system that organic promoters hope will eventually replace conventional farming.
Meanwhile, the organic industry and news media promote regular stories about speculative (and even ludicrous) claims that genetically-modified (GM) crops might pose risks to human health. Recent articles about minute traces of GM wheat getting into a Japan-bound shipment represent just one example.
Reuters and Washington Post stories might make you think people in Japan had died from consuming this wheat, or at least fell ill. But no one did. Nor did anyone even get a headache when minute traces of unregistered GM flax got into Canadian shipments to Europe. And yet, Europe closed its market to all flax shipments from Canada in response to finding as little as one GM seed in a million.
In fact, no one has ever gotten sick from GM foods. And yet, when consumers get seriously sick or even die from eating certified-organic food, both the outbreaks and their probable causes are largely ignored.
Every "mainstream" media outlet is reporting that hepatitis might have gotten into certified-organic berries due to a person-to-person cause; perhaps a field or production line employee with hepatitis didn't wash his hands. But then why wasn't this person found? With 131 people infected (and 59 hospitalized) across eight states, how could one person possibly cause so much harm?
Far more likely is the feces-to-person route - which is exactly what analysts are finally saying. When thousands of pounds of improperly-composted manure are spread on a field, thousands of pounds of crops get contaminated. If not by animal feces, how about human? Organic farmers in many developing countries - such as Turkey, the apparent origin of this outbreak - still use rawhuman sewage to fertilize crops! In many people's opinion, that practice qualifies as "organic" - whereas using safe modern fertilizers and insecticides does not! Even worse, feces contamination cannot be washed off. It's embedded in the plant.
Moreover, in any modern nation, a person known to have hepatitis is not even allowed to work near food. This makes it even more likely that this contamination resulted from improperly-composted feces - and that the US Agriculture Department's "organic-certification" system failed again, for lack of field testing.
And yet, organic activists continue to attack modern agriculture, while demanding that the organic industry get what many consider a "free pass." After a quarter century on the market and trillions of servings containing biotech products, GM crops are still vilified for posing some sort of risk to human health - even as known risks from natural pathogens on organic crops are routinely brushed aside, even when they cause hepatitis, listeria, E. coli, salmonella, deaths and lifelong health problems.
Most people are shocked that record-keeping, record-checking, and "certified as organic are" all that "ensures" feces don't get into organic food. Meanwhile, safe synthetic ammonium nitrate is banned in organic production, forcing organic farmers to rely on composted manure. Of course, manure is safe too, as long as it's composted properly. But when it isn't, people get sick or even die.
"Organic" with manure is how we farmed for millennia, before the brilliant German scientist Fritz Haber discovered in 1917 how to extract limitless nitrogen from the Earth's atmosphere to make nitrate, the key ingredient in fertilizers that spur plant root, stem and food growth. However, organic farming tautology rejects ammonium nitrate fertilizer and insists on old-fashioned manure.
This was a minor problem when the organic movement consisted of a few Berkeley drop-outs who ran communal farms. But with sales in the billions of dollars annually, the global organic-industrial-complex must take steps to ensure that improperly composted fecal matter (animal or human) does not get into our food chain. Instead, there is a complete absence of field testing and other true safety measures.
It's ironic that environmentalists think everything "industrial" should be thoroughly, routinely and repeatedly tested, including in the modern agricultural sector. But when their preferred "organic" food production system is involved, they want us to rely on the proverbial wing and a prayer. There's no need to test organic crops, to ensure they're safe, since they're "certified" organic - say those who promote or profit from this multibillion-dollar business.
Unprecedented summer snow in Norway
That cooling sure is getting global
Snow fell on highway 7 over Hardangervidda on Saturday.
Kari Varberg (50), who owns and operates Dyranut Fjellstov, sat at the breakfast table when it started snowing on Saturday morning.
Shortly after, she was called upon to take care of two British campers who ended up in the ditch.
As long Varberg can remember, there has not been snow on the mountain lodge at the end of June.
Security Operator Morten Hansen at the Traffic surveillance reported on slush and snowy roads at 800 meters on the Hardangervidda Saturday morning.
Almost below freezing
We have a station at Finse, where the temperature is 0.9 degrees (33.6F), says Halldis Berge, the local meteorologist.
According to the Norwegian met office, temperatures should normally be around 5C (41F).
Not since NVE measurements began in 1971 has more snow been registered midway through June.
More snow is in the forecast.
For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.
Preserving the graphics: Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here
Posted by JR at 3:59 PM