Thursday, August 29, 2013
Another Paper Blames ENSO for the Warming Hiatus
Finding "natural" explanations for a cooling influence forces the question: Maybe there are natural explanations for all observed temperature variations. If oceans these days are absorbing heat as part of a cycle, that surely means that the warming of the 80s and 90s (so relied on by Warmists) was in large part due to ocean giving off heat. What the oceans giveth, the oceans taketh.
The recently published climate model-based paper Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling [Paywalled] by Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie has gained a lot of attention around the blogosphere. Like Meehl et al (2012) and Meehl et al (2013), Kosaka and Xie blame the warming stoppage on the recent domination of La Niña events. The last two sentences of Kosaka and Xie (2013) read:
Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling. Although similar decadal hiatus events may occur in the future, the multi-decadal warming trend is very likely to continue with greenhouse gas increase.
Anyone with a little common sense who’s reading the abstract and the hype around the blogosphere and the Meehl et al papers will logically now be asking: if La Niña events can stop global warming, then how much do El Niño events contribute? 50%? The climate science community is actually hurting itself when they fail to answer the obvious questions.
And what about the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)? What happens to global surface temperatures when the AMO also peaks and no longer contributes to the warming?
The climate science community skirts the common-sense questions, so no one takes them seriously.
UK GOVERNMENT MAY ABANDON UNILATERAL CO2 TARGETS
The coalition is heading for a bitter new row over green energy as senior Tories seek to unpick carbon targets which stand in the way of Britain building more than 40 gas-fired power stations.
Ministers struck an agreement in 2011 to reduce emissions by half by the mid-2020s, compared with 1990 levels, as part of Britain’s attempt to cut its share of global warming.
But George Osborne, chancellor, secured a potential opt-out if a December 2013 review by the Climate Change Committee, the statutory body which advises the government on emissions, proved that Britain was moving faster than the rest of the EU.
The Engineering Employers’ Federation has been urging the chancellor to kill off the carbon targets, saying the review will be a “real test” for the government.
“The other EU states haven’t stepped up to the mark and we believe that means the rip cord needs to be pulled on these targets,” said Gareth Stace, head of climate at the EEF. “If we go ahead we will be locked into tougher targets than the other members states.”
However, the Climate Change Committee wrote to the government in July, warning that the largely failed efforts to toughen EU-wide climate targets were not a reason for Britain to change its domestic goals.
The EEF accused the committee, which is chaired by Tory peer Lord Deben, of effectively “pre-empting” its own review, and predicted that the committee was on track for an “almighty battle” with the government.
The Green Alliance, an environmental think-tank, will this week urge the government to cancel the review to reassure nervous investors in the sector.
“Investors had planned to spend £180bn in the UK’s low carbon infrastructure, but they now wonder if their money is wanted here,” said Alastair Harper, spokesman for the Green Alliance. He said many were looking at the review “as the final test of whether the UK government is serious about attracting their investment”.
Mr Osborne privately hopes to use the results of the review to unpick the carbon budget, which he fears could undermine manufacturing and prevent the construction of a new fleet of gas-burning power stations.
DOT Plans to ‘Enhance the Quality of Life’ by Reducing ‘Car-Dependent’ Development
Creating "livable communities" is one of five objectives for the U.S. Department of Transportation, as it updates its 2014-2018 strategic plan.
The draft plan, released this week, notes that President Obama "has made place-based policy a key component of his domestic agenda." And as part of that agenda, DOT says it will "enhance quality of life in all communities" by spending taxpayer dollars on transportation projects that discourage "car-dependent, dispersed development."
"U.S. transportation investments over the last 50 years have often been poorly coordinated with other investments such as housing and commercial development," the plan says. "These development patterns have provided many American families of all income levels with unprecedented choices in where they can live, and the ability to own a single-family home. However, the reliance on car-dependent, dispersed development is not without costs."
DOT says those costs include long commutes and vehicle maintenance: The average American adult between the ages of 25 and 54 drives over 12,700 miles a year and the average American household spends $7,658 annually to buy, maintain, and operate personal automobiles.
"Alternatives to auto travel are lacking in many communities," DOT says, vowing to change that:
"We will enhance the economic and social well-being of all Americans by creating and maintaining a reliable, integrated, and accessible transportation network that enhances choices for transportation users, provides easy access to employment opportunities and other destinations, and promotes positive effects on the surrounding community."
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is inviting organizations and individuals to comment on the initial draft from now until September 6. "Your input will ensure that we consider the perspectives and ideas of all stakeholders as we draft the final version of the plan to be released in early 2014," he said.
"We encourage you to submit your ideas and suggestions early and often. We will review each idea and suggestion that is submitted and summarize how we used your feedback in the final version."
“Livable communities” is just one of DOT’s five objectives for 2014-2018: The others are transportation safety (the "top priority"), "good repair” (infrastructure maintenance), economic competitiveness (strategic investments to serve the traveling public and facilitate freight movement) and "environmental sustainability" (reducing greenhouse gas emissions).
Pedestrian and Bicyclists
DOT, under its "Safety" objective, says there are too many roads, especially in urban areas, that don’t provide adequate safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and disabled people.
It notes that pedestrian fatalities increased 3 percent and bicycle fatalities were up by 9 percent, respectively, between 2010 and 2011.
Given greater demand for pedestrian and bicycling options, "more attention needs to be placed on how pedestrian and bicycling options can be more effectively and safely integrated into existing transportation networks,” the strategic plan says.
DOT says “complete streets” -- roads that accommodate all users -- help reduce fatalities and injuries. These roadway designs include features such as sidewalks, raised medians, turn lane controls, better bus stop placement, better lighting, traffic calming measures, accessible sidewalks, curb cuts, accessible signage for sensory and cognitive disabilities, and other accommodation for travelers with disabilities.
Instituting policies that accommodate all roadway users has the “added benefit of making walking and biking more attractive options and of enhancing the aesthetic quality and commercial activity on local streets,” DOT says.
To reduce fatalities and injuries for pedestrians, bicyclists, and older drivers – an increasing population -- DOT says it will (among other things):
-- Establish a new clearinghouse of information on determining medical fitness to drive as a resource for state licensing agencies;
-- Encourage states to adopt policies and programs that improve pedestrian, and bicyclist safety;
-- Develop and promote training programs for motorists, children, pedestrians and bicyclists for use in schools and other venues;
-- Work to increase accessible sidewalks, curb cuts and signage, to increase safety for people with disabilities, older adults, novice drivers, and young children;
-- Distribute community-oriented material for people with disabilities, that offers technical guidance on improving pedestrian and bicycle safety;
-- Consider adopting vehicle standards to make vehicles less likely to harm the pedestrian and by providing driver warnings or automatic braking to prevent a pedestrian crash.
New federal rule allows economic costs to be hidden
By Rick Manning
The federal government is considering setting aside almost 14 million acres, a land mass larger than the combined states of New Hampshire and Vermont, as critical habitat for the northern spotted owl. Using a highly controversial method of determining economic costs of regulations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared that, “only a fraction of the overall proposed revised [land] designation will result in more than incremental, minor administrative costs.”
Environmental law firm, Marten Law, argues in a review of the new economic analysis approach that if the government, “were forced to do a full analysis, they would be forced to consider the economic impacts of the entire listing process, not just the additional impacts that occur from designating critical habitat.”
Now, due to a recent rule published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency will be able to make partial economic analysis the norm in determining the impact of designating land as critical habitat for threatened or endangered species.
Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee is concerned that the new rule will disregard the true impact of federal regulations stating in a release reacting to the rule, “Designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act creates massive financial burdens for private property owners and state and local governments. Friday’s rule allows the Agencies to avoid doing a full economic analysis of these financial burdens and allows them to hide the true costs of a species listing.”
The northern spotted owl is a real life example of the massive impact that the Endangered Species Act can have on communities and the people who live there.
Jim Geisinger, the head of the Northwest Forest Association recently explained the impact of the early 1990s Northern Spotted Owl decision to Oregon Public Television saying, “…our industry is not what it used to be. Hundreds of mills closed, and tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, and those jobs haven’t been replaced.”
Hardly a “minor impact” but under the new rule approved by the Obama Administration, impacts can be explained away, in order to justify a rule.
Ironically, the proposed expansion of the Northern Spotted Owl’s habitat is both harmful to the bird and unnecessary.
It is harmful to the bird because studies have shown that the Northern Spotted Owl actually does best in managed forests where timbering operations occur, rather than in pristine, uncut environments.
Instead, failure to allow the cutting of dead and dying trees in the bird’s habitat not only hurts its capacity to find food, it also subjects the entire forest to an increase risk of fire, as the uncut dead which serves as the fuel that makes forest fires burn hotter, spread faster and kill everything in its path.
In essence, the expansion of the northern spotted owl’s critical habitat by 14,000,000 acres or more than 21,000 square miles, will harm the bird, and destroy jobs in the effected area related to timber production, and the new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule will effectively allow the Agency to stick its fingers in its ears and yell na na na na na, I can’t hear you, to anyone who dares complain.
The people who live in the areas that are about to be blighted by a dramatic increase in declared northern spotted owl habitat know the economic destruction that awaits them. Unfortunately, their government has decided that it not only doesn’t care, but doesn’t even want to hear about it.
And the northern spotted owl is just one well known example where habitat expansion is pending with the future impact on private property rights certainly to be even more devastating.
As Senator Vitter says, “This rule change is another example of this Administration moving forward with a dangerous precedent to ignore economic impacts when implementing expensive rules and regulations. They are pulling wool over our eyes and hoping we won’t notice.”
Unfortunately, no one speaks for the destroyed dreams of those who once lived and thrived in the northwestern United States logging ghost towns which were victimized by the first spotted owl plan. Environmentalists on the other hand will gladly destroy the livelihoods of thousands of others in their ill-conceived plan to force an owl to thrive in a habitat that is not suited to.
It would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
Russian officials board environmentalists' vessel
The environmental group Greenpeace says that Russian authorities have boarded their ship which is in the Arctic to protest against oil drilling.
The group is protesting offshore oil exploration conducted by state oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the Russian section of the Arctic Ocean off western Siberia.
Greenpeace said in a statement on Monday that Coast Guard officials boarded the ship without permission after the group launched inflatable boats with banners reading "Save the Arctic" near an oil exploration vessel working for Rosneft.
Russia has denied permission for the Greenpeace ship to enter the Kara Sea, but the ship entered the waters on Saturday morning.
Campaigners have been warning of high risks of oil blowouts and spills in this pristine and hard-to-reach area.
Yes, We Can Drill Our Way Out of This Problem
Perhaps you read the USA Today editorial on August 19 that concludes with: “the most important gains could come from radical shifts that are as unanticipated as was North America's emergence as an oil and gas powerhouse.” It points out “that free enterprise has a way of solving problems that is beyond the capabilities of government.” And continues: “The surge in domestic oil and gas production—spurred on by such new techniques as hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) did not come about as the result of government energy polices, but largely in spite of them.”
Other oil producing countries are taking note.
Mexico has huge oil-and-gas reserves— estimated at 115bn barrels of oil equivalent, comparable to Kuwait’s—but lacks the technology to develop non-conventionals, such as shale gas and deep-sea crude. President Pena Nieto is looking to make reforms that would allow foreign companies to partner with the state-owned oil company, Pemex, to bring the wealth to the surface.
The Saudi Prince Alwaleed recently warned: “the kingdom's oil-dependent economy is increasingly vulnerable to rising U.S. energy production.” Alwaleed’s comments were penned before Mexico announced its intended energy reforms. The thought of Mexico’s resources flowing on to the global market has got to make the prince increasingly nervous.
The reality of North America becoming an “oil-and-gas powerhouse” threatens more than just OPEC nations. In response to the USA Today editorial, Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), wrote an “opposing view” proclaiming: “Increasing domestic oil and gas production is no panacea for our nation's energy needs or economy.”
Energy and the Economy
Apparently, she is not aware that regions with oil-and-gas development have some of the lowest unemployment in the country—states with resource extraction such as Texas, Montana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming all have unemployment rates below the national average and North Dakota has the lowest in the country at 3.9%. My home state of New Mexico shares the rich Permian Basin with Texas. There, they tell me: “Anyone who can pass a drug test can get a job.”
Due to the increasing domestic resource development, President Obama’s stated 2010 goal of doubling exports by 2015 has already been met—though not through his initiatives, and in fact, in spite of them. Alan Tonelson, an economist at the US Business and Industry Council, says: “When the president talks about trade, when he talks about creating middle class jobs, when he talks about turning the US economy into an economy that lasts, he usually talks about manufacturing, those are the classic American living wage jobs. There’s no chance that he’s been thinking mainly about petroleum.”
Rayola Dougher, a senior economic adviser at the American Petroleum Institute, sums up the economic impact of oil and gas on the economy: “We have been a real engine of growth at a time when other industries have been languishing.”
Next, Beinecke states: “U.S. oil production may be up 44% since 2008, but so are prices. The costs of crude oil have risen 6% in that time.” While this claim appears to be accurate on the surface, it ignores the fact that the Federal Reserve has driven the value of the dollar down. In his Forbes article, “The rising price of the falling dollar,” contributor Charles Kadlec, explains: “The real price of the on-going debauchery of the dollar is measured by the loss of our prosperity and the debasement of our liberty.” Similarly, Paul Streitz, in American Thinker, draws the connection between our national debt and the price of oil: “excessive spending means monetizing our debt, which means printing money, which means foreign oil producers want more of it for the same barrel of oil.”
Of course, Beinecke resorts to the environmentalists’ standard claim: “The fracking that is driving our oil and gas surge has grown at breakneck speed.” She continues: “states have responded with weak rules and limited enforcement.” Environmental groups, like Beinecke’s NRDC, want federal government to add regulation on fracking—which will increase the cost and slow the growth of drilling.
Friday, August 23, was the deadline for public comment on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) draft rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt and attorneys general from four other states sent a letter to the BLM, objecting to the agency’s intent to duplicate the state’s long-standing regulation of hydraulic fracturing. “States have been regulating hydraulic fracturing for more than 40 years with great success. This proposed rule is just another layer of unnecessary regulation that will cause significant delays and hinder natural gas production,” General Pruitt said. “The Supreme Court has made it clear that regulation of water and land use is a state and local power, and no law gives an agency such as the BLM the authority to pre-empt state regulations.”
Environmentalists’ hyperbole about the use of hydraulic fracturing would lead the general public to believe that the practice is new. In fact it has been successfully used to extract oil and gas for more than 60 years—and, over the decades, it has been refined and made giant technological leaps. Attempts to link fracking to water contamination have repeatedly been disproven.
Then her “opposing view” takes the climate change tack: “more oil and gas production will only exacerbate climate change … Last year alone, Americans suffered $140 billion in crop losses, wildfires, storm damage and other impacts of extreme weather made worse by climate change.” Once again, baseless charges.
The $140 billion in crop losses pertains to the 2012 drought, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Drought Task Force, put together to examine whether or not “human-caused CO2-fueled global warming” was the cause, said, in a report, dated March 20, 2013: “natural variations in weather patterns caused this sudden ‘flash drought,’” and “The report rules out global ocean conditions as well as human-induced climate change, as major culprits.”
Additionally, as I addressed last month, Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., from the University of Colorado, at the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee hearing on climate, testified to the effect that Weather Related Disaster losses globally as a percentage of GDP had actually decreased by about 25% since 1990, while droughts have “for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U S over the last century.” Other figures of merit, hurricane frequency, intensity, damages, landfalls, and ‘accumulated tropical cyclone energy’ have shown no trends over long periods of record. Floods have not increased, flood losses have gone down significantly, while tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity, or normalized damage since 1950, and there is some evidence to suggest they have actually declined. Beinecke is either ignorant of the facts, or guilty of deliberately misstating information.
The wildfires Beinecke mentions are connected to the drought and add drama to her comments as we are currently fighting wildfires in 11 western states. However, the true blame falls squarely on the forest management plans as enacted by the US Forest Service, which has allowed the forests to be overgrown and unhealthy. Keeping the forest healthy through thinning costs about $600 per acre, but fighting a forest fire can cost nearly four times more.
One of her last assertions is: “Our new 54.5 mpg fuel standards will cut oil imports by one-third and save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump.” The 54.5-mpg figure is a standard that Obama announced in 2009 and it applies to the fleet average a company must have. Because Americans continue to purchase more trucks and SUVs with much lower mpg, a company must produce cars like the Volt or the Leaf that are measured at 93 and 99 mpg equivalent. Overall the average might come out in the mandated range. BMW recently announced the introduction of its first electric car, the i3. They are moving into electric cars, not because of customer demand, but “to meet regulatory requirements.” The Wall Street Journal reports: “The car will earn emissions credits for BMW in markets such as California, reducing the likelihood that BMW will have to pay fines for failing to comply with carbon dioxide restrictions and giving BMW headroom under those rules to keep selling its more profitable internal combustion models.” While electric cars may slightly reduce gasoline use, they really still run on fossil fuels—namely coal.
I close my examination of Beinecke’s “view” with this: “True energy independence means reducing our reliance on oil and gas by investing in America’s abundant clean energy resources that can power our country and boost our economy without endangering our health and climate.” I believe that we all want to end US dependence on oil imports from countries that wish to destroy us. But nebulous “clean energy resources” will not do that. When environmentalists refer to “clean energy,” they are most often referring to wind and solar—which produce electricity, albeit ineffectively, inefficiently and uneconomically. Only a tiny fraction of electricity in the US is produced from oil. The oil we import goes toward the transportation fleet. Until there are quantum leaps in technology, there will never be a massive shift from petroleum-based vehicles to electric. So Beinecke’s dream of “clean energy resources” will not reduce our “reliance on oil and gas.”
The title of Beinecke’s USA Today post is: “More oil and gas ups our addiction.” In reality, the true addiction is the clean energy she touts. Alternative energies such as wind, solar and biofuels are addicted to government money and the junkies’ dealers are those with close ties to President Obama and other high ranking Democrats engaged in crony corruption.
Let’s give the Saudi prince something to really worry about. Let free enterprise solve problems that are beyond the capabilities of government. Let’s build the Keystone pipeline and work with Mexico to use techniques, perfected in America’s oil fields, to bring its wealth to the surface. North America can be an oil-and-gas powerhouse—but government energy polies have to change. Then prosperity and liberty can be restored.
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.
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Posted by JR at 4:01 PM