Sunday, August 11, 2013
400 PPM CO2 Update!
Atmospheric CO2 levels have now reached a level that was supposed to bring on disastrous warming. How does reality match that prophecy? The facts:
Coldest summer on record at the North Pole
Highest August Arctic ice extent since 2006
Record high August Antarctic ice extent
No major hurricane strikes for eight years
Slowest tornado season on record
No global warming for 17 years
Second slowest fire season on record
Four of the five snowiest northern hemisphere winters have occurred since 2008
The CO2 scam is a thing of the past!
The killing of ‘Giggles’ and global warming
By John Stossel
Did 'Giggles' deserve to die?
Global average temperature has been flat for a decade. But frightening myths about global warming continue.
We’re told there are more hurricanes now. We’re told that hurricanes are stronger. But the National Hurricane Center says it isn’t so.
On "Stossel," my Fox Business TV show, meteorologist Maria Molina said it’s not surprising that climatologists assumed hurricanes would get worse. “Hurricanes need warm ocean waters,” but it turns out that “hurricanes are a lot more complicated than just warm ocean waters.”
Computer models have long predicted nasty effects from our production of greenhouse gasses. But the nasty effects have not appeared. As far as hurricanes, more hit the United States in the 1880s than recently.
Why do people believe that global warming has already created bigger storms? Because when “experts” repeatedly tell us that global warming will wreck the Earth, we start to fit each bad storm into the disaster narrative that’s already in our heads.
Also, attention-seeking media wail about increased property damage from hurricanes. And it’s true! Costs have grown! But that’s because more people build on coastlines, not because storms are stronger or more frequent.
Also, thanks to modern media and camera phones, we hear more about storms, and see the damage. People think Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,800 people, was the deadliest storm ever. But the 1900 Galveston hurricane killed 10,000 people. We just didn’t have so much media then.
Climatologist Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, says humans don’t have as much impact on global temperature as the doomsayers feared.
“Forecasts of global warming -- particularly in the last two years -- have begun to come down,” he says. “We’re seeing the so-called ‘sensitivity’ of temperature being reduced by 40 percent in the new climate models. It means we’re going to live.”
Michaels is tired of dire predictions. “I have lived through nine end-of-the-world environmental apocalypses, beginning with (the 1962 environmental book) ‘Silent Spring,’ and, you know, we’re still here.”
As a consumer reporter, I fell for dire predictions about cellphones, Y2K and pesticides.
Maybe the new scare will be killer bees, flesh-eating bacteria or bird flu. The media always hype something.
Since this is hurricane season, let’s at least debunk one specific myth about preparing for hurricanes: the idea you should use masking tape to put X’s on your windows. Government brochures did recommend that in the 1930s, but now the National Hurricane Center calls it a mistake.
It won’t stop glass from shattering, says Molina, but “now you have larger pieces of glass -- potentially deadlier pieces of glass -- flying around. ... What you should be doing during a hurricane is be in a room with no windows and in a lower part of your home.”
I’m a global warming skeptic not because I don’t believe the world will get warmer. It may. Climate changes. It always has. Man’s carbon output might make it worse.
But just because humans sometimes damage the environment doesn’t mean government is competent to fix the problem. That’s the biggest myth of all.
Government is the same institution that takes over forests to “protect” them -- but then builds logging roads into forests to cut down trees that unsubsidized, private roads might never have reached. The forests end up smaller, but people still assume they’re safer in government hands than in greedy private hands.
Government is the institution that puts itself in charge of caring for wildlife but recently sent a dozen armed agents into a Wisconsin animal shelter to seize and kill a baby deer named Giggles who was being nursed back to health there, since Giggles wasn’t in the right type of approved shelter.
When government screws up, we’re supposed to say, “They meant well.” When individuals pursuing their own interests screw up, we’re supposed to feel ashamed of industrial civilization and let government punish and control us all. If we let it do that, government will do to the economy what it did to Giggles.
Obama in center of fight over bald eagle deaths
Wildlife conservationists are battling an Obama administration rule that would give wind energy companies lengthy permits for wind farms that end up killing bald and golden eagles.
Hundreds of thousands of birds are killed every year after they fly into gigantic wind turbine blades.
It’s unclear how many of them are eagles, but wildlife groups say that birds of prey on the lookout for food often ignore the blades.
Existing permits allow green energy companies to put up wind farms as long as the Fish and Wildlife Service declares they use “advanced conservation practices” to protect birds. The Obama administration is considering a rule that would extend the permits from five to 30 years.
Wildlife groups met with White House officials in July and pressed them to not sign off on the rules, which the green energy industry has lobbied for furiously.
Green energy groups have also met with the White House in recent weeks to press their case.
A decision could be coming soon. The White House received the rule from the Fish and Wildlife Service in April, for what was supposed to be a 90-day review. Wildlife groups say the 30-year permit is far too long, even if the eagle deaths are unintentional.
They argue the administration should give a more comprehensive review of the effects massive wind farms have on the environment, including birds and other wildlife. Science on how to prevent eagle deaths and injuries has not been conclusive, the groups say, so the government should not give wind farms a 30-year pass for eagle killings — known as “takings.”
“The question is what is the science telling us about how to prevent eagle takings, and we’re still waiting for the science to tell us how that works,” said Julie Falkner, the Defenders of Wildlife’s senior director of renewable energy programs.
She added that the permitting system in general needed to be better examined, and that the timeframe should not be adjusted on its own.
The permits are available for many different industries, but wind energy companies specifically pushed for the extended timeframe when the permits were first unveiled in 2009.
President Obama’s administration has sought to bolster investments in wind and other renewable energy sources, and the new rules would make it easier to build wind farms by providing more regulatory certainty.
Under his administration, the wind energy sector has grown by about 30 percent each year. The Fish and Wildlife Service argued when it proposed the rule that the longer permits will help a growing industry while protecting wildlife.
“This change will facilitate the responsible development of renewable energy and other projects designed to operate for many decades, while continuing to protect eagles consistent with statutory mandates,” it said.
Wind energy proponents deny that the longer permits give energy firms a free pass. They will have to meet additional measures to protect birds, and the permits could be updated to account for new science or if more eagles are killed than expected.
“This isn’t just, ‘Hey here’s a 30-year permit and go off and have at it,'” said John Anderson, the director of policy with the American Wind Energy Association. “It’s a very contemplative process that is based on conservation of the species with a strong focus on conservation measures that will ensure stable or increasing eagle populations nationally.”
Similar permits exist that allow for the “incidental” death or disturbance of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. Those permits vary in length but can last for decades.
“We really saw this as bringing the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act permitting into consistency with the Endangered Species Act, which by its very nature is addressing species that are far more imperiled than the eagles,” said Anderson.
The bald eagle was considered endangered for decades but was removed from the list in 2007 because the species had rebounded. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act protects the birds, which have naturally low reproduction rates, regardless of whether they are endangered.
The wind power industry also argues that only 2 percent of documented golden eagle deaths are caused by wind farms each year. Newer wind turbines are designed not to encourage birds to perch on them.
Finally, they contend that the Fish and Wildlife Service can’t wait forever to finalize their rules.
“There’s always going to be people that want more science,” said Anderson. “At some point you need to take the best available science and make reasoned decisions.”
EUROPE PULLS THE PLUG ON ITS GREEN FUTURE
As country after country abandons, curtails or reneges on once-generous support for renewable energy, Europe is beginning to realise that its green energy strategy is dying on the vine. Green dreams are giving way to hard economic realities.
Slowly but gradually, Europe is awakening to a green energy crisis, an economic and political debacle that is entirely self-inflicted.
The mainstream media, which used to encourage the renewables push enthusiastically, is beginning to sober up too. With more and more cracks beginning to appear, many newspapers are returning to their proper role as the fourth estate, exposing the pitfalls of Europe’s green-energy gamble and opening their pages for thorough analysis and debate. Today, European media is full of news and commentary about the problems of an ill-conceived strategy that is becoming increasingly shaky and divisive.
A study by British public relations consultancy CCGroup analysed 138 articles about renewables published during July last year in the five most widely circulated British national newspapers: The Sun, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, which enjoy a combined daily circulation of about 6.5 million.
“The analysis revealed a number of trends in the reporting of renewable energy news,” the study found. “First and foremost, the temperature of the media’s sentiment toward the renewables industry is cold. More than 51 per cent of the 138 articles analysed were either negative or very negative toward the industry.”
More than 80 per cent of the articles appeared in broadsheet titles The Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, the report says, “but 55 per cent of these articles were either negative or very negative about the industry”.
EU members states have spent about €600 billion ($882bn) on renewable energy projects since 2005, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Germany’s green energy transition alone may cost consumers up to €1 trillion by 2030, the German government recently warned.
These hundreds of billions are being paid by ordinary families and small and medium-sized businesses in what is undoubtedly one of the biggest wealth transfers from poor to rich in modern European history. Rising energy bills are dampening consumers’ spending, a poisonous development for a Continent struggling with a severe economic and financial crisis.
The German Association of Energy Consumers estimates that up to 800,000 Germans have had their power cut off because they couldn’t pay the country’s rising electricity bills; among them, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported last October, are 200,000 long-term unemployed.
As The Washington Post writer Charles Lane observed at the time: “It’s one thing to lose your job because a competing firm built a superior mouse trap; it’s quite another, justice-wise, to lose it because a competitor talked the government into taking its side.”
Two weeks ago, the Czech government decided to end all subsidies for new renewable energy projects at the end of this year. “The reason for this law amendment is the rising financial burden for electricity consumers,” Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said. “It threatens the competitiveness of our industry and raises consumers’ uncertainty about power prices.” In recent years, almost all EU member states also have begun the process of rolling back and cutting green subsidies.
Spain is a particularly cautionary tale. By failing to control the cost of guaranteed subsidies, the country has been saddled with €126bn of obligations to renewable-energy investors.
Now that the Spanish government has dramatically curtailed these subsidies, even retrospectively, more than 50,000 solar entrepreneurs face financial disaster and bankruptcy.
Germany, however, is the nation that has pushed the renewables agenda furthest and is struggling most with the unintended damage of the green energy shift, its so-called Energiewende.
Germany’s renewable energy levy, which subsidises green energy production, rose from €14bn to €20bn in just one year as a result of the fierce expansion of wind and solar power projects. Since the introduction of the levy in 2000, the electricity bill of German consumers has doubled.
German households will pay a renewables surcharge of €7.2bn this year alone. In addition, consumers will be affected by indirect costs because industry, trade and commerce pass on their rising energy costs in product prices. And because green energy subsidies are guaranteed for 20 years, the costs threaten to rise exorbitantly as more schemes are being agreed. Energy bills are going through the roof, fuel poverty is rising and renewable energy policies face a growing public backlash. What is more, governments are increasingly concerned about the threat to Europe’s industrial base.
Germany has the most expensive electricity in Europe, with an average price of 26.8 euro cents (40c) a kilowatt hour. No wonder Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the rapid expansion of green energy programs is weakening Germany’s competitive advantage in the global economy.
The EU also is quietly rolling back its renewable agenda, which EU leaders now recognise has been raising energy prices across the Continent. At their summit in Brussels in May, leaders indicated that they intended to prioritise the issue of affordable energy over cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The EU summit signalled Europe intended to restore its declining competitiveness by supporting the development of cheap energy, including shale gas, while cutting green energy subsidies.
However, EU environment ministers are alarmed at the prospective rollback. They are seeking to prevent the development of EU shale resources by trying to introduce EU-wide environmental barriers.
Until recently, Europe had positioned itself as the global leader in climate protection and renewable energy, with Germany leading the way with ambitious targets and generous subsidies that boosted solar power and wind energy.
More than half of the world’s solar panels are installed in Germany. On June 6, Germany’s solar power production touched a new record of 23.4 gigawatts, meeting almost 40 per cent of the country’s entire peak electricity demand. But to understand that this record is quite meaningless, consider the grid’s narrow escape last winter. For many weeks in December and January, Germany’s 1.1 million solar power systems generated almost no electricity. During much of those overcast winter months, solar panels more or less stopped generating electricity. To prevent blackouts, grid operators had to import nuclear energy from France and the Czech Republic and power up an old oil-fired power plant in Austria.
Subsidies are extremely generous and guarantee investors an almost 10 per cent annual return for 20 years. Given such an unparalleled offer, it is not surprising that more than a million families already have installed solar panels. This solar boom, however, has saddled the country with obligations of more than €130bn in subsidies, leading to ever increasing energy prices.
As wealthy homeowners and businesses owners install solar panels on their homes and commercial buildings, low-income families, living in rented apartments, have to foot skyrocketing electric bills. Many can no longer afford to pay, so the utilities are cutting off their power.
To stop the solar boom, the government has reduced feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic schemes in the past few years. Since 2010, however, more than 5000 companies involved in the solar business have closed, shedding tens of thousands of green jobs.
Germany’s biggest companies, such as Siemens and Bosch, are abandoning the industry too. Their renewable energy strategies resulted in costly debacles. Siemens, Europe’s largest engineering company, announced in June that it would close its entire solar division, at a loss of about €1bn. Last month the Siemens board fired its chief executive, Peter Loescher. His dramatic dumping was seen in the context of a catalogue of disastrous misinvestments in the green energy sector he presided over.
For Bosch, another German giant, its move into solar ended in disaster too, costing the electronics company even more than Siemens: about €2.4bn.
During the past year, the wave of bankruptcies in solar has devastated the entire industry, while solar investors have lost almost €25bn on the stockmarket.
Now Germany plans to phase out subsidies altogether, its solar industry is likely to disappear by the end of the decade.
Most observers were convinced the energy gap caused by Germany’s decision, two years ago, to phase out nuclear power would be filled by wind and solar power. Hardly anyone realised that the extraordinary boom in renewable energy construction would generate a coal boom too.
In fact, German CO2 emissions have been rising for two years in a row as coal is experiencing a renaissance. But CO2 emissions in the EU as a whole are likely to rise because of increased coal burning at power stations. The revelation has embarrassed the German government and dumbfounded the public, which cannot understand how a nation that has expanded renewable energy more than any other country is building 20 coal-fired power stations.
In much of Europe, coal has become much cheaper than natural gas for power generators. The reason is the collapse of the EU’s emissions trading scheme and the subsequent decline in carbon prices, which make coal plants more economical than gas-fired power plants.
So far Europe’s emissions trading scheme has cost consumers more than €300bn. Massive amounts of green investments originally projected on the back of a high carbon price have been shelved and are no longer feasible. There can be little doubt Europe’s flagship climate policy has turned into an utter failure. In a realistic assessment of Europe’s policy shift, the International Energy Agency recently noted that “climate change has quite frankly slipped to the backburner of policy priorities”.
Of all the unintended consequences of Germany’s Energiewende perhaps the most extraordinary is the detrimental effect of wind and solar schemes on the price of electricity generated by natural gas. Almost 20 per cent of gas power plants in Germany have become unprofitable and face shutdown as renewables flood the electricity grid with preferential energy. To avoid blackouts, the government has had to subsidise uneconomic gas and coal power stations so that they can be used as back-up when the sun is not shining, the wind does not blow and renewables fail to generate sufficient electricity.
The mess is forcing struggling utilities to contemplate even more radical solutions. E.ON, Germany’s biggest energy company, is thinking of dismantling some of its European gas power plants, mothballed because they are no longer profitable, and relocating them outside the EU. Such farcical considerations become symptomatic of the unintended consequences caused by the rapid expansion of renewable energy.
Europe’s manufacturers are rapidly losing ground to international competition. Instead of putting money into the energy-expensive EU, investors are pouring money into the US, where energy prices have fallen to one-third of those in the EU, thanks to the shale gas revolution.
The naive assumption of policymakers that Europe’s main competitors would follow the shift from cheap fossil fuels to expensive green energy has not materialised. Europe, The Washington Post recently warned, “has become a green-energy basket case. Instead of a model for the world to emulate, Europe has become a model of what not to do.”
Europe’s strategy was founded on two fears: first, that global warming was an urgent threat that needed to be prevented imminently and at all costs; and second, that the world was running out of fossil fuels, which meant oil and gas would become ever more expensive. Both conjectures, however, turned out to be wrong.
The result of a fear-driven gamble with the Continent’s industrial future is a costly shambles that threatens to undercut Europe’s economic and political position in a world that is sensibly refusing to follow its lead.
Germany’s green energy strategy is likely to change significantly after federal elections on September 22; Merkel has promised voters to drastically curtail the €20bn burden they have to pay renewable energy investors every year should she win.
British wind farms paid £30 million a year to stand idle because the grid can't cope with all the energy they produce
Wind farms are being given around £30million a year in compensation to switch off or slow down their turbines because nearly half the electricity they make is not needed.
The cash, which comes from household bills, is paid when the National Grid is unable to cope with the extra power produced during high winds or periods of low demand.
Known as ‘balancing’, the arrangement is intended to compensate firms for energy they are unable to sell.
But as the number of wind farms grows, the rates have hit record levels. Firms are often paid more to turn off their giant turbines than for the electricity they produce.
Last weekend alone, householders handed £3.1million to energy firms for doing absolutely nothing as up to 30 wind farms were paid to switch off.
The energy that could have been produced between Friday and Sunday would have powered up to 12,000 homes for a year.
At one point, 40 per cent of all the wind energy set to be transmitted to the National Grid was instead discarded, with the loss being blamed on maintenance work and breezy conditions.
More than 95 per cent of payments to energy firms last Saturday were to constrain energy produced by wind farms in Scotland because there is limited network capacity between Scotland and the rest of Britain creating a bottleneck of supply.
The amount of wind energy discarded that day was almost twice as much as any other day on record, and cost families £1.9million. It was one of three days since May when wind farms were told to cut their output by more than a third.
In total, payments worth almost £15million have been made this year – more than double the amount given in all of 2012. If the trend continues, the bill for the year will be around £30million.
The figures only relate to giant turbines connected to the national distribution network, which make up 70 per cent of wind power.
There are 5,000 giant turbines across the country, with another 1,000 planned. Under EU law, Britain’s energy consumption from renewables needs to reach 15 per cent by 2020.
Payments known as ‘forward trades’ are also made to energy operators by the National Grid. This is where it agrees a payout in advance when the weather is expected to be stormy.
In 2011, £18.6million was paid in forward trades, although the figure is likely to be much lower this year.
Both payments make up about 1 per cent of a typical household’s electricity spend, according to National Grid.
A spokesman said costs were being driven down and the energy lost last weekend was ‘slightly above average’ owing to a combination of planned summer maintenance and high winds.
But Dr John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said: ‘The increasing volume of discarded wind energy presents a very strong case for revising UK’s ambitious commitment to EU green targets. Allowing subsidised generators to name their price to stop causing problems is a lousy solution.
‘They are abusing their position by holding a pistol to the head of Government and effectively saying we will not get off the grid unless you pay handsomely. Ofgem must do something about this.
‘It’s already a record year and it’s set to be a bumper one looking at the costs. We are on track to spend more on constraining wind than all of the previous years combined. And the problem just seems set to be getting worse.’
Generous taxpayer-funded subsidies for wind farms are set to continue until at least 2020.
Onshore wind farms have been guaranteed at least £100 per megawatt hour, which is a unit of energy equal to using a million watts of power in one hour. This is double the current wholesale rate of £50. Offshore wind farms receive £150. Last weekend, two Scottish windfarms charged £200 per megawatt hour to shut off.
With greater wind production becoming available all the time, experts warn the overall cost of these payments is set to rise.
Energy analyst Mulu Sun said the spikes in constraint payments may be partly due to a lack of capacity, adding: ‘National Grid’s infrastructure should be keeping pace with the building of wind farms, but that is not necessarily the case. This can cause bottlenecks.’
A spokesman for Ofgem said: ‘We have powers to take action against licensed generators if we consider they are gaining excessive benefit when constraints occur.’
British ex-minister Tim Yeo accused of harming public's health with new 'green' London taxis which pump out harmful fumes
Eco-taxis championed by former Environment Minister Tim Yeo pump out more harmful nitrogen dioxide than the ageing black cabs they replaced.
The six-seater Mercedes-Benz Vitos were hailed as a greener alternative to London’s famous LTI cabs, long derided for being among the capital’s biggest polluters.
Mercedes has gained a strong foothold in the taxi market since the beginning of last year when London Mayor Boris Johnson ordered that all black cabs over 15 years old – a total of 3,000 LTI vehicles – had to be taken off the road.
The Vitos are marketed as a greener alternative and have been shown to emit less carbon dioxide.
But a report released last month by the Department for the Environment revealed that they are actually emitting much higher levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) than taxis built before 2005.
It adds: ‘Given the intensity of taxi operations in the centre of London, the increase in levels of NO2 emissions from the newer taxi fleet is a matter of concern.’
NO2 can decrease lung function and increase the risk of respiratory problems, particularly among children.
Until last year, Mr Yeo was on the board of directors of Eco City Vehicles (ECV) – the firm which supplied the London Vitos.
The MP for South Suffolk received a fee of £40,000 per year and £750,000 in share options as the company’s chairman between 2007 and 2012.
And he highlighted the success of ECV when it received its first order for the Mercedes-Benz Vito model from one of London’s largest licensed black cab operators, Computer Cab PLC.
Speaking at ECV’s annual meeting in July 2011, Mr Yeo said: ‘This is the first ever contract placed by ComCab with ECV and represents a significant breakthrough for the Vito.’
Last night, Mick Small, from the RMT transport union, which campaigned against the introduction of the black cab age limit, criticised Mr Yeo and Mr Johnson.
Mr Small said: ‘The person who had most to gain from these new taxis was Tim Yeo – he had his fingers in Eco City Vehicles.
‘Thousands of cabs had to come off the road and as a result hundreds of taxi drivers were laid off.
And Boris comes out of this as a liar because he said he was going to clean up London’s air quality and now it seems that hasn’t happened.’
Jenny Jones, London Assembly member for the Green Party, blamed the Government for the ‘unacceptable’ levels of NO2 being emitted.
In June this year Mr Yeo stepped down as chairman of the influential Energy and Climate Change Committee over claims he abused his position to help a private company.
He denied the allegations but stepped aside to ensure the ‘smooth running’ of the committee.
A spokesman for Mr Johnson defended the decision to take older cabs off the road. He added: ‘The Mayor remains determined to reduce all emissions from taxis.’
Mr Yeo said: ‘My financial interest in ECV has been correctly disclosed in the Register of Members’ Interests at all times.’
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Posted by JR at 7:02 PM