Friday, October 11, 2013

Serial Demolition of Some Eco-Nuttery - an 18 minute video by Ivo Vegter‏

Watch the 18-minute video below for a serial demolition of one piece of eco-nuttery after another by Ivo Vegter in South Africa:

The 'environmental exaggerations' of which he speaks are so mainstream now, and such a distortion of reality, that it would be wonderful if every high school teacher in the world decided to show this, or a subbed /dubbed version, to their senior pupils.

Maybe as an antidote to all the eco-guff they will have been exposed to in their schooldays. Maybe as a last chance to steer them towards helping humanity rather than harming it with facile 'environmentalism', and the curse of 'sustainable development' - both examples of what Vegter would call 'excessive risk aversion'.  They harm the poor.  They harm the planet.  They diminish our humanity.


Armageddon hits in 2047!

Some Warmists have apparently invented a new "Green" version of the SimCity game -- and they're having a lot of fun with it.  When do we all get to play?  -- JR

With egg all over the faces of global warming alarmists given the halt in temperature increases the past fifteen years, you would think media outlets would be a little gun-shy concerning "studies" predicting environmental doom with the help of climate models.

Not the Associated Press's Seth Borenstein who actually published a piece Wednesday about a study having the gall to predict the exact year when "temperatures go off the charts" for cities around the world:

 "Starting in about a decade, Kingston, Jamaica, will probably be off-the-charts hot — permanently. Other places will soon follow. Singapore in 2028. Mexico City in 2031. Cairo in 2036. Phoenix and Honolulu in 2043."  And eventually the whole world in 2047.

"A new study on global warming pinpoints the probable dates for when cities and ecosystems around the world will regularly experience hotter environments the likes of which they have never seen before.  And for dozens of cities, mostly in the tropics, those dates are a generation or less away.

"This paper is both innovative and sobering," said Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was not involved in the study."

And here's the money paragraph:

"To arrive at their projections, the researchers used weather observations, computer models and other data to calculate the point at which every year from then on will be warmer than the hottest year ever recorded over the last 150 years."

Now wouldn't it be prudent of the AP given the failure of climate models to accurately predict the halt in rising temperatures the past fifteen years to be skeptical of new studies reliant upon them?

Quite the contrary, Borenstein didn't even mention this recent lull in advancing temperatures, nor did he advise readers that as a result, one should look upon such studies with at least the tiniest grain of salt.  Instead, he actually presented doomsday dates for American cities:

"By 2043, 147 cities — more than half of those studied — will have shifted to a hotter temperature regime that is beyond historical records.  The first U.S. cities to feel that would be Honolulu and Phoenix, followed by San Diego and Orlando, Fla., in 2046. New York and Washington will get new climates around 2047, with Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, Austin and Dallas a bit later."

And here's the second money paragraph:

"The 2047 date for the whole world is based on continually increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gases. If the world manages to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, that would be pushed to as late as 2069, according to Mora."

So, if the world manages to reduce carbon emissions, we'd only gain 22 years before the world ends.

You know what that means, don't you? Drill, baby, drill!

As readers might imagine, this piece has elicited some of the loudest online laughs I've experienced in years.

Climate Depot's Marc Morano said, "Global warming activists have finally committed to a Mayan calendar like deadline for the planet's doom. Kudos to the warmists for finally shaming Nostradamus. He never allowed his prognostications to get this specific."

Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That asked, "Has Harold Camping approved the date yet?"

Real Science's Steve Goddard answered, "Ehrlich will be angry. He finished off Earth 30 years ago, and this study just isn't taking his past work seriously."

Dr. Tim Ball added, "If the accuracy equals Phil Jones estimate of global temperature in the 2001 IPCC Report the accuracy will be ±33 percent."

But the best line in my view came from University of Alabama-Huntsville's Roy Spencer who offered this gem: "I'm gonna plan for 2046, just in case they are off by a year."

I think that's wise, Roy.


Sanity where you least expect it: Obama Energy Secretary says  Fracking is ‘climate friendly, environmentally safe, and economically stimulating’

On the very same day that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) announces: “U.S. Rises to No. 1 Energy Producer” — thanks to the shale boom made possible through a technology known as hydraulic fracturing — an environmental group released a report calling for a complete ban of the practice, which would effectively shut down the oil-and-gas industry (and all of the jobs and revenues it creates) and increase dependence on foreign oil. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

You probably haven’t heard about either, as most news coverage, on October 3, centered on the government shutdown—eclipsing all else.

Why would Environment America (and its executive director, Margie Alt) choose to release a report, that they call “the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking,” on a day when it would likely receive little attention? The answer is found in the WSJ: “the shale boom’s longevity could hinge on commodity prices, government regulations, and public support.” (italics added)

Americans support the concept of energy independence. We don’t like the fact that we’ve been funding terrorists because we buy oil from people who hate us and who happily slaughter our citizens.

The Obama Administration is the most anti-fossil-fuel in history, yet within the past month, three Obama cabinet members — two former, one current — have declared fracking a safe technology for extracting oil and natural gas:

At a speech in Columbus, Ohio, former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said that fracking “is something you can do in a safe way” and dismissed a study critical of fracking by saying: “we didn’t think it was credible.”

At the Domenici Public Policy conference in Las Cruces, New Mexico, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stated: “I would say to everybody that hydraulic fracking is safe.”
In a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz asserted: “Fracking for natural gas is climate-friendly, environmentally safe, and economically stimulating” and added: “Which is just what America and New York need.”

Then, in the same month, in the greenest state of the Union, against strong opposition, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a hotly contested bill that reflects the fact that he favors some level of fracking.

These pro-fracking news items, along with several recent reports pointing to the safety of hydraulic fracturing, have the anti-fracking crowd resorting to desperation. And, then the WSJ announces America’s energy dominance on its front page. I suspect that Environment America had its little report ready to go and was just waiting for the right time to release it — probably after the shutdown, when the news cycle had some space.  But, when the WSJ heralded the U.S. energy comeback, they just had to spring it — hoping to shift public opinion.

The environmentalists’ advertising efforts have had an impact—even though, as Secretary Chu noted, the anti-fracking argument isn’t “credible.” A September Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that opposition to increased use of fracking rose to 49 percent from 38 percent in the previous 6 months.

Why, when hydraulic fracturing has brought America to the brink of energy independence, been the biggest driver of job growth, lowered utility bills, and positively impacted the trade deficit, are people opposed to it?  Because they don’t really know what it is, and, therefore, are gullible to the old adage: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

A University of Michigan report on hydraulic fracturing found: “The public tends to view the word ‘fracking’ as the entirety of the natural gas development process, from leasing and permitting, to drilling and well completion, to transporting and storing wastewater and chemicals.” In fact, fracking is limited to the process of injecting fluids into a well — just a few days of a multi-month operation (not counting leasing and permitting).

This widespread misunderstanding explains why the repeated lies have taken hold.

One of the most rampant lies about fracking made by the environmentalists is about water. The press release about the “fracking by the numbers” report, claims: “Of particular concern are the billions of gallons of toxic waste created from fracking, which threaten the environment, public health and drinking water.”

On page 5, “Fracking by the Numbers” states: “Fracking operations have used at least 250 billion gallons of water since 2005.” Which sounds ominous until you get some perspective. For example, over that same period, car washes have used more than twice as much water: 600+ billion gallons. In the state of Colorado, where water supplies can be constrained and oil-and-gas development is high, water used for fracking amounts to less than one-tenth of one percent of the state’s total water demand.

Also on page 5: “While most industrial uses of water return it to the water cycle for further use, fracking converts clean water into toxic wastewater, much of which must then be permanently disposed of, taking billions of gallons out of the water supply annually.” And: “Farmers are particularly impacted by fracking water use as they compete with the deep-pocketed oil and gas industry for water, especially in drought-stricken regions of the country.” These statements are just plain false. The oil-and-gas industry is now often using water that is not suitable for farming or drinking and then reusing the water over and over.

Mike Hightower, a hydrologist at Sandia National Labs, adds: “Five years ago fresh water was used for each frac job; now they are using frac fluids that are 5 times saltier than sea water. That allows more reuse of waters and is putting less strain on water resources in many western states.”

Dexter Harmon, Exploration Manager at Fasken Oil & Ranch, says his company is using 88 percent produced water and Santa Rosa water that has been treated to remove harmful components and 12 percent fresh water to frac its Wolfberry wells near Midland, Texas. It cost about $1.75 to $2.00 per barrel to treat the produced water to get it ready to re-use on a frac job.

Plus, the industry is continually being revolutionized by technological advances. For example, GE has a new energy-efficient process that could cut the cost of water treatment in half, eliminate the need to transport the water for treatment, and decrease the chances of spills. MIT Technology Review, September 24, 2013, reported: “Based on pilot-scale tests of a machine that can process about 2,500 gallons of water per day, GE researchers say they are on track to cut the costs of treating salty fracking wastewater in half.  The system needs to be scaled up for commercial use, but a full-sized system could treat about 40,000 gallons per day.”

Another lie repeated in the report (page 9): “There are ‘more than 1,000 cases’ of groundwater contamination.” Yet, the three major investigations of water contamination that were conducted by the EPA—Pavillion, Wyoming, the Range Resources case in Texas, and Dimock, Pennsylvania (made famous by the Gasland movie)—have all been cleared.

Additionally, three different environmentally aligned Obama Administration members have made statements regarding an absence of evidence of fracking contaminating groundwater:

At an August 1 breakfast, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, stated: “To my knowledge, I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater.”

Ken Kopocis, President Obama’s nominee to be Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, was asked recently in testimony before Congress if he was aware of any cases of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing. His answer? “No I am not.”

Lisa Jackson, President Obama’s former EPA chief, said: “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the [fracturing] process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.” This comment follows her previous testimony before Congress, when she explained that she is “not aware of any proven case where [hydraulic fracturing] itself has affected water.”

We could go on picking apart the 47-page report, but these lies, untruths, and deceptions on water give you the idea. Energy In Depth has a more thorough review of Environment America’s “Fracking by the Numbers,” in which it says the anti-fracking group consists of “professional activists bent on preventing responsible energy development from taking place.”

The budget these activists have to produce propaganda and advertising campaigns to change public opinion seems unlimited. Environment America’s IRS Form 990 for fiscal year ending 06-30-2011, shows it has 210 employees with revenues of $3.7 million.  In the acknowledgements, Environment America thanks the “Park Foundation for making this report possible” — The Park Foundation funded the anti-fracking movie Gasland and other anti-fracking activities. And they call the oil-and-gas industry “deep-pocketed.”

Thanks to hydraulic fracturing America is on the brink of energy independence, it has provided the biggest driver of job growth, lowered utility bills, and positively impacted the trade deficit.  Yet one small, well-funded, and vocal segment of the population is opposed to it — using false scare tactics to sway pubic opinion. When you think about why they would want to ban this single, effective economic stimulus, it should make you shudder and cause you to commit — with me — to spreading the truth.


Axe green tax or energy bills will go up every year for a decade, says British energy chief

Ministers are urged to initiate an immediate review of Britain’s entire green energy strategy or risk forcing household gas and electricity bills up every year for the rest of the decade

The chief executive of the energy giant Scottish & Southern Energy said on Thursday night it was time for a national debate about the country’s green agenda after unveiling an 8.2 per cent price rise for customers.

The company said annual gas and electricity prices would fall by £110 per household overnight if the Government opted to pay for green energy subsidies and other environmental costs, such as free loft insulation, through the tax system. Alistair Phillips-Davies on Thursday told The Telegraph that green levies imposed by the Government were responsible for a third of the increase being imposed by SSE.

On average, dual-fuel bills for millions of its customers will rise by £111 to £1,465 a year, the highest price ever seen in the country.

British Gas and Npower are both poised to increase bills in the next few days.

Mr Phillips-Davies said: “A price rise is never a good thing to do, but if it focuses everyone on to a debate about what we as a nation should be spending money on, then in one way it will be helpful.

“We need to think about what people really want to pay for; maybe it’s time to retreat from decarbonisation and focus more on the cost of living. I think we have to have a debate about it.  “Do we want to be replacing one bit of [energy] generation that we can keep going for a bit longer with a new bit of generation that’s going to cost more? He added: “I doubt the public like price increases of this magnitude, but if we carry on firmly behind the green agenda we will continue to have price increases like this.”

He added that SSE, which made a £1.4 billion profit last year, would be stopping all investment in offshore wind and new power plants until the 2015 election because of the acute political uncertainty around energy since Ed Miliband promised a price freeze if Labour wins power.

The row threatens to intensify tensions in the Coalition, with speculation growing that the Tories want to react to the Labour leader’s pledge by funding some green levies through tax rather than passing the cost on to households through bills.

On Thursday, David Cameron said green levies to subsidise renewables would not be on bills “for a moment longer than is necessary”.

But Michael Fallon, the energy minister, went further by insisting that the Government was “looking hard” at what could be done to reduce green costs to both industry and households. He said: “I’m as green as the next man, but I’m a cheap green.

“We still have to deal with a legacy of underinvestment and we still have legal obligations under climate change regulations, we need to build new power stations, but within that, we are looking.”

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem Energy Secretary, said that wholesale energy costs were the real reason SSE was putting up prices and that customers should react by switching to a rival supplier.

National Grid earlier this week warned that the huge push to “go green” and take ageing coal-based power plants out of commission meant Britain was at a greater risk of winter blackouts this year than at any point since 2007. Britain is signed up to producing 30 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2020.

Experts believe more than £100 billion will have to be spent for the country to have any chance of reaching the target, and all of this would have to be recouped from household bills.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said at the weekend that it had calculated that £22 billion of subsidies would be handed to “green” energy generators over the coming six years to pay for new wind farms and hydro power plants, with the entire cost passed on to consumers through bills.

The UK Independence Party joined the debate on Thursday by blaming Mr Miliband for bringing in the Climate Change Bill in the last Labour government.

Responding to SSE’s price rise on Thursday, Mr Miliband said it was proof the Government was letting energy companies “get away with it”. Caroline Flint, Labour’s shadow energy secretary, added: “When times are tough, energy companies should be helping their customers not hitting them with more price rises to boost their profits.”

Watchdogs said it was inevitable SSE’s rivals would follow suit with price rises of their own. As well as British Gas, industry sources said npower was to announce a price increase as early as Monday.

Ann Robinson, the head of the price comparison website uSwitch, said there were now real concerns that millions of vulnerable customers would be forced to turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating altogether over the winter.

She said: “It’s a crippling blow. We all knew increases were coming, but when you actually see them, well, it’s devastating.
“Last year, 70 per cent of households were rationing fuel at some point, 35 per cent turned their heating down at some point. How many more people are going to freeze to death this winter?”

SSE said it had held off from announcing an increase as long as it could. The new higher prices will take effect on Nov 15. The company said government-imposed levies on energy bills to pay for everything from free loft insulation and new wind farms, had gone up by 13 per cent in the past year, three times more than wholesale energy costs.

Will Morris, the SSE group managing director for retail, said: “We’re sorry to have to do this. We’ve done as much as we could to keep prices down, but the reality is that buying wholesale energy in global markets, delivering it to customers’ homes, and government-imposed levies collected through bills — endorsed by all the major parties — all cost more than they did last year.”
The SSE increase will affect seven million homes in the UK. Customers in the South East, former Seeboard customers, will have an 9.7 per cent increase, compared with a rise of 7 per cent in the North.

The company blamed the different transmission costs charged by regional power networks.

In addition, about 150,000 SSE customers will be hit with a new standing charge that could increase costs if they are low-users of energy. The company is also scrapping prompt payment discounts and loyalty discounts. Off-peak rates on the Economy 7 tariff will rise by 18 per cent in Scotland as SSE restructures its unit charges.

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, added: “This price rise will be a blow for stretched budgets. The hike comes at a time when some working households are turning to food banks to feed their families as they struggle to cope with the rising cost of living.

“I hope other energy firms show an understanding of their customers’ financial situation by not raising their prices.”


Cold War Escalates Over Europe's Energy Fiasco

EU Parliament Votes To Block Shale Development In Europe

The European Union has been accused of killing off the prospect of cheap energy from shale gas by trying to impose with expensive and “reckless” regulation of fracking.

The European Parliament on Wednesday voted for new EU laws requiring that exploration for potential deposits of shale gas to face the same environmental regulation as a full-scale oil drilling.

Struan Stevenson, a Conservative MEP who sits on the European Parliament's environment committee, warned that the plan could strangle the nascent fracking industry in Britain.

Fracking, which involves fracturing rocks deep underground with water, sand and chemicals to extract natural gas, has dramatically cut energy bills in the US, and Conservatives ministers hope that it could do the same in the UK.

With as many as 40 permits for fracking expected to be granted in the next two years, ministers are also anticipating significant tax revenues from operators.

Mr Stevenson warned that all those hopes could be dashed if the European Parliament’s demand for full Environmental Impact Assessments for fracking projects is met.

“This would be a huge burden and will prevent the exploitation of Britain's massive shale reserves,” he said.  “Targeting exploration in this unnecessary way amounts to stifling the potential benefits at source. We must stop this over-zealous attempt to place a dead hand on the process of exploration before it even gets going.”

The MEPs’ plan to regulate fracking will be discussed by Europe’s environment ministers next week.

The use of fracking technology means that the United States is paying half the European price for wholesale gas, driven up by expensive imports at a time when state subsidies for renewable energies are pushing up energy costs across Europe.

The average household energy bill in Britain is now £1,300 a year, twice what it was 10 years ago and shale gas exploitation is regarded as crucial to pushing prices down.

Alessandro Torello, of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, said the MEPs’ rules would create a costly and cumbersome regulatory process that would make industry think twice about exploration.

“The text adopted today would require undertaking long and complex environmental studies at a very early stage in the exploration phase, undermining - without bringing additional environmental benefits - the efforts to develop domestic oil and gas opportunities, such as gas from shale," he said.

“This would erode EU attempts to encourage future economic growth and create new jobs while simultaneously depriving policy makers of one key tool they could use to reduce Europe’s dependence on energy imports.”

François Hollande, France’s Socialist president, has banned fracking his country. The MEPs’ vote was welcomed by Greens and Socialists.

Jos Delbeke, the director-general of the commission’s “climate action” department, hinted that the EU would use the regulations to defend renewable energy against cheaper shale gas.

“A minus scenario is that shale gas then drives out renewables,” he said, last week. “If ever shale would become as cheap as in the US, we really would have a problem. We are strong defenders of renewables. It is very important we keep investing in renewable technologies.”


Is the world getting better or worse?

 by Bjørn Lomborg

We can settle the debate on global challenges such as climate change with an objective scorecard, says a sceptical environmentalist

FOR the past half century, a fundamental debate has raged between optimists and pessimists over the state of the world. Pessimists build their case on overpopulation, starvation and depletion of resources. Optimists stand for the infallibility of the market economy.

In 1970, arch pessimist Paul Ehrlich, a population biologist at Stanford University in California, predicted that by 1999 the US population would be decimated to 22 million people living on 2400 calories a day – less than the 2560 calories the average African gets today. Economist Julian Simon, his opposite number from the optimist camp, cheerfully claimed that everything was getting better.

The debate still runs deep in our collective consciousness. We all have an immediate instinct of whether we align with the pessimists or the optimists, and with an almost infinite selection of statistics available, anyone can cherry-pick evidence to confirm their position.

Wouldn't it be nice to remove the darkened or rose-tinted spectacles for once, and try to quantify how the world really has done and will do in future? I asked some of the world's leading economists to do just that. The result is a groundbreaking book, How Much Have Global Problems Cost The World? A scorecard from 1900 to 2050.

The basic idea was to measure the damage inflicted by various problems on a comparable scale, without the opportunity to focus on particular areas or statistics that reinforce one point of view or the other.

For each problem, contributors quantified the damage done to humanity and the planet from 1900 until today, and also that projected to happen by 2050. Take air pollution. How much death and destruction did it cause in 1900 or in 2013? And what do we project its damage to be in 2050?

We then translated this into dollars, using standard estimates for the value of a human life. While this concept can seem alien, it is regularly used as a way to guide policy – for example, does the value of human lives saved outweigh the cost of installing safety barriers on a highway? To get the relative size of a problem, we compared it with the total resources available to tackle it, to arrive at a percentage of GDP per capita for each.

Of course, GDP is by no means a perfect measure. Yet it is a widely used and robust indicator. It is strongly correlated with most desirable measures, including education, health, democracy, lack of corruption, lack of poverty and the United Nations Human Development Index.

We were not able to evaluate all the challenges facing humanity, but I think most would agree that our list includes 10 of the most important: air pollution, climate change, conflicts, education, gender inequality, health, loss of biodiversity, malnutrition, trade barriers, and water and sanitation.

For many of these, ours is the first economic evaluation of the entirety of the problem. I hope this will inspire others to cover other areas such as resources, infrastructure and corruption.

So what does this research show? Neither the pessimists nor the optimists are entirely right. But the optimists win on points – the majority of indicators are going in the right direction.

Some of these are obvious, such as health and education – we live much longer and are much better educated. The cost of poor health in 1900 was a phenomenal 32 per cent of global GDP. Today, it is about 11 per cent and by 2050 will have halved again.

Some are not so obvious. Take air pollution. Outdoor air pollution has got worse in the developing world but better in the developed world, not least because of environmental legislation. A bigger problem, however, is indoor air pollution from using dirty fuels to cook and keep warm, mostly in the developing world. This has been decreasing rapidly, meaning that, overall, damage from air pollution has been falling. In 1900 air pollution cost 23 per cent of GDP; today it is at about 6 per cent, and will probably be reduced to 4 per cent by 2050.

Global warming is mixed. Right now it is a net benefit, largely because increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has boosted agriculture. This contributes a positive impact of 0.8 per cent of GDP. Moderate warming prevents more deaths from the cold than it causes deaths related to the heat. It also reduces the demand for heating more than it increases the cost of cooling. Together these add another 0.4 per cent.

On the other hand, warming increases water stress at about 0.2 per cent of GDP and negatively impacts ecosystems like wetlands at about 0.1 per cent. As warming increases further, the benefits are decreasing and the costs increasing. As agricultural benefits decline, cooling costs rise and ecosystem impacts increase, the total effect will turn negative, though outside of the 2050 time frame.

Biodiversity is tricky. From 1900 to 2000 there was a definite loss because of increasing human encroachment on nature. This was partly offset by the increase in agricultural production, but not nearly enough. The total loss is about 1 per cent of GDP.

However, our prediction is that for the next 50 years, humans will damage and encroach less while agriculture becomes more productive. Many richer parts of the world will reforest. In total, it is likely that there will be a very small, net benefit.

Of course, the grand debate between optimists and pessimists won't be settled by a single book. But getting comparable numbers for the first time across some of the most important issues might make it a bit easier for realists to focus the conversation on what really matters.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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


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