Thursday, October 31, 2013
In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks Greenies were deliberately invented to plague us
In classic Leftist style, failed Presidential candidate blocks out what he doesn't want to know
Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his frustration Tuesday with the fact that even in the United States, “a very educated country,” there are those who do not recognize the urgency of combating global warming.
Addressing the D.C. Greening Embassies Forum, which encourages the “greening” of foreign mission in Washington, Kerry took aim at those who challenge the notion that the science is settled when it comes to climate change.
“I am amazed after all these years that we’re still struggling here in a very educated country to get a lot of people to embrace and understand why this is not a matter of theory, a matter of mere policy, but a matter of urgency for life itself on the planet as we know it.”
Kerry said that 6,000 peer-reviewed reports say that “we [human beings] are responsible for what is happening, we are contributing to it very significantly through human choices.”
“Zero – zero peer-reviewed reports say no, or contribute to the theory of denial,” he added.
“And yet, we have people, even in the United States Senate, who stand up and deny. So we have work to do and we have to undertake to try to do whatever we can – without legislation, if that’s what it takes – through executive authority, through our own decisions, to try to make the choices that will make a difference in this.”
(Frustrated by “partisan gridlock” in Congress, President Obama took the executive authority route last June, announcing that he was instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.)
Kerry did not elaborate on the 6,000 reports, but he was likely referring to the studies used in the preparation of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments on climate change.
The latest report, released in September, concluded that global warming is “unequivocal,” and that it is “extremely likely” that human activity has been the main cause of the temperature rise since the 1950s.
Pointing to that report, Kerry said it documented that “everything that scientists predicted 20 and 30 years ago is now coming true at a faster rate and to a greater degree than was predicted.”
He gave several examples, including shifting migration patterns of species, melting of Arctic ice, and “the continuing diminution of glaciers” in the Himalayas.
The IPCC’s previous report, in 2007, referred to the strong chance of the Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner.”
As hundreds of millions of people depend on water from major rivers whose sources are in the Himalayas, including the Indus and Ganges, the issue is of major importance for India and Pakistan especially.
The U.N. panel was forced to retract the claim three years later, however, acknowledging “poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.”
Kerry concluded his speech by looking ahead to future U.N. climate conferences, including one in Warsaw next month.
“I can assure you this department will be and I will be laser-focused on how we are going to step up our response to the reality of the threat that climate change poses to all of us,” he said.
Earlier this year the journal Organization Studies – which is peer-reviewed – published the results of a survey of 1,077 professional engineers’ and geoscientists’ views on climate change.
Based on a breakdown of their views, it placed the respondents into five category groups. Only one of the five, accounting for 36 percent of the total, “express[ed] the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”
“They are the only group to see the scientific debate as mostly settled and the IPCC modeling to be accurate,” the survey found.
All four of the other groups, with slight variations, expressed varying degrees of skepticism about the asserted causes of climate change, the extent of public risk it poses, and the accuracy of IPCC modeling.
Recently, a team of scientists operating as the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) – an independent group which says it receives no government or corporate funding – released the second in a series of reports called Climate Change Reconsidered.
The authors of the 1,000-plus page report say it provides “the scientific balance that is missing from the overly alarmist reports” of the IPCC.
“Although the IPCC claims to be unbiased and to have based its assessment on the best available science, we have found this to not be the case,” the summary states. “In many instances conclusions have been seriously exaggerated, relevant facts have been distorted, and key scientific studies have been ignored.”
A key conclusion reached in the NIPCC report is that the IPCC “has exaggerated the amount of warming likely to occur if the concentration of atmospheric CO2 were to double, and such warming as occurs is likely to be modest and cause no net harm to the global environment or to human well-being.”
The NIPCC says its report was assembled by three lead authors, nearly 50 chapter lead authors as well as contributors and reviewers from 15 countries, and “was subjected to the common standards of peer-review.”
California's latest Green pipedream
By Alan Caruba
If you live in California, I have a bit of advice. Get out now while you can afford the gas to load up the van and head north or east. You won’t be alone.
According to “Crazifornia: How California is Destroying Itself and Why It Matters to America”, about 150,000 Californians have been fleeing the state each year of late. “In fact,” wrote Laer Pearce, “Los Angeles alone has lost more households than New York, Miami, and, incredibly, the economically decimated city of Detroit…combined.”
The tide of traffic leaving the state is likely to increase. According to a news release from Earthjustice, one of the innumerable environmental organizations bent on destroying every form of energy that has fueled the growth of the American economy, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has “finalized a groundbreaking decision to build innovative high-tech energy storage systems that will lead California toward a future of clean, renewable energy and away from dependence on fossil fuels.”
You remember fossil fuels, oil, natural gas, and coal. The “clean, renewable” energies are wind and solar because, of course, the sun shines all the time and the wind blows all the time. Or not.
By definition, energy “storage systems” can use mechanical, chemical, or thermal processes to store energy; these processes range from battery technologies to energy storage within compressed air or molten salt. If that sounds bizarre, it is.
According to Will Rostov, an Earthjustice attorney, “Clean, renewable energy sources will shape our future, whether the dirty antiquated fossil fuels industry likes it or not, so it’s excellent to see California getting there first. It took years by environmental advocates and state regulators to reach this point.”
Actually, Europe has been there for some time now. In England’s Yorkshire Dales, they’re tearing down four wind turbines that have been around for twenty years and “have not worked in years.” Indeed, across Europe there is a lot of buyer’s remorse for having embraced wind and solar. As Marc Morano, the editor of ClimateDepot.com, noted in an October 17 article, “Wind and solar mandates are breaking Europe’s electric utilities.”
“Last week the CEOs of Europe’s ten largest utilities finally cried uncle and called for a halt to wind and solar subsidies. Short of that, they want subsidies of their own. They want to be paid, in essence, not to produce power.” Thanks to mandates to use electricity from wind and solar Europe’s energy costs increased 17% for consumers and 21% for industry in the last four years.
California, in addition to requiring comparable use of wind and solar power while pushing to close coal-fired plants and keep some nuclear plants shuttered, will require its utilities to purchase 1.3 megawatts of “energy storage” power by 2020.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that “The first-in-a-nation mandate is expected to spur innovation in emerging storage technologies, from batteries to flywheels. Once large quantities of energy can be stored, the electric grid can make better use of solar, wind and other technologies that generate sporadically rather than in a steady flow, and can better manage disruptions from unpredictable events such as storms and wildfires.”
This is another very expensive Green pipedream that, like other California initiatives, would prove impossible to achieve and will be abandoned or ignored.
Since neither wind nor solar produce electricity in a steady, predictable fashion that enables utilities to ensure a flow of electricity to consumers, “energy storage” is the new, idiotic, alternative way of providing electricity that has been in effect since Edison first invented the turbines to produce it.
There is, simply put, no reason to require “energy storage” if “dirty, antiquated fossil fuels” were used. Wind and solar provide just over 3% of the electricity used in the U.S.
According to the Western Region Deputy Director of the Sierra Club, Evan Gillespie, “Fossil fuels like natural gas are a dead end for the people of California, the power companies, and the entire planet.” If you listened to Strela Cervas, Coordinator at the California Environmental Justice Alliance, fossil fuel use is a conspiracy against “low income communities and communities of color overburdened by pollution, in particular from power plants. California does not need any new gas-fired power plants.”
Those low income communities might not agree, along with all the rest of the Californians, in the wake of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. While California strives to save the state from a warming that has not been occurring for more than 15 years, the new mandate that 33% of the state’s energy come from wind and solar is estimated to cost $114 billion, all of which will come out of the pockets of energy consumers.
According to Pearce, “Legislators, regulators, lawyers and environmentalists have driven up the cost of doing business in the Golden State until it has become 30% greater than in the neighboring states.” The result of 40 years of anti-business (and anti-energy) policy has caused a decline in the state’s standard of living. “California’s median household income plummeted by 9%--nearly twice the national average between 2006 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
This is the kind of environmental insanity that has been at work at the federal level since Obama was elected in 2008. Billions have been lost in loans to wind and solar companies that went bankrupt within months and years. Think Solyndra. Now apply that same insanity to the whole of the nation as the administration continues its “war on coal” and actually laments the growing access to natural gas and oil due to hydraulic fracking technology.
The U.S. will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia this year. It has several centuries’ worth of affordable coal, scads of natural gas, and could expand its nuclear power generation if it wanted.
California is leading the way as it drives out its citizens and businesses, leaving behind only those too poor to leave; those dependent on a range of welfare programs that “redistribute” money from “the rich” and the middle class. They are turning the entire state into Detroit.
It is a war on the provision of electricity; the lifeblood of the nation’s capacity to function.
The Keystone Fight Is a Huge Environmentalist Mistake
By Leftist Jonathan Chait
“To an increasingly disillusioned environmental movement,” environmental activist Bill McKibben writes in the Huffington Post, “Keystone looks like a last chance.” It may be a last chance for the movement McKibben has helped lead — he has spent several years organizing activists to single-mindedly fight against approval of the Keystone pipeline — but Keystone is at best marginally relevant to the cause of stopping global warming. The whole crusade increasingly looks like a bizarre misallocation of political attention.
My view, which I laid out in a long feature story last spring, is that the central environmental issue of Obama’s presidency is not Keystone at all but using the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate existing power plants. That’s a tool Obama has that can bring American greenhouse gas emissions in line with international standards, and thus open the door to lead an international climate treaty in 2015. The amount of carbon emissions at stake in the EPA fight dwarf the stakes of the Keystone decision.
Estimates differ as to how much approval of the Keystone pipeline would increase carbon emissions, but a survey of studies by the Congressional Research Service found that the pipeline would add the equivalent of anywhere between 0.06 percent to 0.3 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions per year. By contrast, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s proposal for EPA regulations would reduce U.S. emissions by 10 percent per year – 30 times the most pessimistic estimate of Keystone’s impact.
Of course, it’s far from clear Obama will settle on a regulatory proposal as aggressive as the NRDC’s. But that’s just the point. Even slight gradations in the strength of possible EPA plans matter more than the whole fate of the Keystone pipeline. And yet McKibben and tens of thousands of his followers are obsessed with a program that amounts to a rounding error at the expense of a decision that really is the last chance to stop unrestrained global warming.
How did they arrive at such a strange choice? The answer can be found in my friend Ryan Lizza’s deeply reported account in The New Yorker last month. Lizza’s fascinating story does not explicitly support the anti-Keystone movement, but it structures the narrative in a way that generally accepts the movement’s assumptions and casts them in a heroic light. Nonetheless, the facts in his account show how environmental activists stumbled onto the Keystone issue, then clung to it even as the rationale for their decision collapsed.
In the spring of 2011, James Hansen wrote, in a brief blog post, that developing the Canadian tar sands would amount to “game over” in the fight to contain climate change. Hansen’s post came out in the wake of the collapse of cap-and-trade legislation, when environmentalists were searching for an issue around which they could build a grassroots movement. McKibben read and was deeply influenced by Hansen’s conclusion, which helped inspire him to build an environmental movement centered around blocking the Keystone pipeline.
Sprinkled throughout Lizza’s story are statements by various supporters of the anti-Keystone movement to the effect that they seized on Keystone because they needed something to rally environmentalists on. John Podesta, an adviser to Tom Steyer, who has helped finance and organize the movement, tells Lizza, “People were beginning to doubt the president’s commitment.” Keystone “became the test of the question: Are we going to do anything long term about climate change?” Kate Gordon, another Steyer adviser, tells him, “The goal is as much about organizing young people around a thing. But you have to have a thing.” Lizza himself writes, “For many activists, the opposition to Keystone isn’t really about the pipeline … they want Obama to use Keystone as a symbolic opportunity to move America away from fossil fuels.”
Lizza doesn’t frame these observations as a damning indictment, but they do amount to one. The logic of the decision was the opposite of what it appeared to be: Rather than build a movement as a means toward the end of stopping Keystone, Keystone was the means toward the end of building a movement. Cap and trade was dead, Keystone was the best thing they had, so they went with it.
Later in the piece, Lizza notes as an aside that the back-of-the-envelope calculation undergirding Hansen’s “game over” warning turns out to be wildly incorrect:
"Hansen’s dire warning about Canada’s unconventional oil deposits was based on the assumption that every ounce of oil in the sands would be burned. (Only a small fraction of the total estimated reserves is recoverable, and doing so will take decades.)"
Oh! So developing the Canadian tar sands isn’t Game Over, or anything close to Game Over? While framed in the story as a minor detail, this seems like an enormously damning fact. In much the same way that conservative Republicans initially decided to shut down the government on the mistaken belief that doing so would defund Obamacare, and had to stick with their strategy once they had rallied millions of followers to the cause, environmental activists appeared to have built a strategy upon what was at best a rickety factual premise.
The other accident at work here is one of timing. The Keystone movement developed in 2011, when environmentalists needed a cause to replace the failed cap-and-trade bill. It was only immediately following the 2012 election that the NRDC laid out a plan by which the EPA could effectively tackle existing power plants, the last big repository of unregulated emissions. The road map to solving climate change is far from certain: It involves writing a regulatory scheme to reign in existing power plants, surviving a legal challenge, and then, having credibly committed the U.S. to meeting Copenhagen standards, wrangling India, China, and others into a workable international treaty.
That plan is far from certain. But Keystone won’t affect the outcome much one way or the other. If Obama pulls off the EPA plan, then the U.S. can hit its emissions target even if it builds the pipeline. If he doesn’t, it won’t hit the target, even if it kills the pipeline.
Real risk of a Maunder minimum 'Little Ice Age' says leading scientist
It’s known by climatologists as the ‘Little Ice Age’, a period in the 1600s when harsh winters across the UK and Europe were often severe.
The severe cold went hand in hand with an exceptionally inactive sun, and was called the Maunder solar minimum.
Now a leading scientist from Reading University has told me that the current rate of decline in solar activity is such that there’s a real risk of seeing a return of such conditions.
I’ve been to see Professor Mike Lockwood to take a look at the work he has been conducting into the possible link between solar activity and climate patterns.
According to Professor Lockwood the late 20th century was a period when the sun was unusually active and a so called ‘grand maximum’ occurred around 1985.
Since then the sun has been getting quieter.
By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, he has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years.
Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.
He found 24 different occasions in the last 10,000 years when the sun was in exactly the same state as it is now - and the present decline is faster than any of those 24.
Based on his findings he’s raised the risk of a new Maunder minimum from less than 10% just a few years ago to 25-30%.
And a repeat of the Dalton solar minimum which occurred in the early 1800s, which also had its fair share of cold winters and poor summers, is, according to him, ‘more likely than not’ to happen.
He believes that we are already beginning to see a change in our climate - witness the colder winters and poor summers of recent years - and that over the next few decades there could be a slide to a new Maunder minimum.
It’s worth stressing that not every winter would be severe; nor would every summer be poor. But harsh winters and unsettled summers would become more frequent.
Professor Lockwood doesn’t hold back in his description of the potential impacts such a scenario would have in the UK.
He says such a change to our climate could have profound implications for energy policy and our transport infrastructure.
Although the biggest impact of such solar driven change would be regional, like here in the UK and across Europe, there would be global implications too.
According to research conducted by Michael Mann in 2001, a vociferous advocate of man-made global warming, the Maunder minimum of the 1600s was estimated to have shaved 0.3C to 0.4C from global temperatures.
It is worth stressing that most scientists believe long term global warming hasn’t gone away. Any global cooling caused by this natural phenomenon would ultimately be temporary, and if projections are correct, the long term warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would eventually swamp this solar-driven cooling.
But should North Western Europe be heading for a new "little ice age", there could be far reaching political implications - not least because global temperatures may fall enough, albeit temporarily, to eliminate much of the warming which has occurred since the 1950s.
Atlantic hurricane season quietest in 45 years, experts say
The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season looks set to go down as a big washout, marking the first time in 45 years that the strongest storm to form was just a minor Category 1 hurricane.
There could still be a late surprise in the June 1-November 30 season, since the cyclone that mushroomed into Superstorm Sandy was just revving up at this time last year.
But so far, at least, it has been one of the weakest seasons since modern record-keeping began about half a century ago, U.S. weather experts say. Apart from Tropical Storm Andrea, which soaked Florida after moving ashore in the Panhandle in June, none of this year's cyclones has made a U.S. landfall.
That meant relief for tens of millions of people in U.S. hurricane danger zones. But 2013 has been a bust for long-range forecasters who had predicted a stronger-than-usual burst of activity in the tropical Atlantic.
It has been "a very strange sort of year" in the unpredictable world of cyclones, said Jeff Masters, a hurricane expert and director of meteorology at Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com).
"We've been in this multi-decadal pattern of activity but it just didn't happen this year," Masters said, referring to the prolonged period of increased hurricane activity that began in 1995.
That period is still playing out, fed primarily by warm ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic that fuel hurricanes. But instead of increased activity, 2013 almost seems like a year when an enormous tranquilizer dart was fired into the heart of the main breeding ground for hurricanes.
A confluence of factors, including abundant sinking air and dry air, and possibly dust flowing out of North Africa's Sahara desert, kept a lid on hurricane formation in 2013, according to many cyclone experts.
That wreaked havoc with most leading seasonal forecasts like the one issued by Colorado State University on August 2. The errant forecast said 2013 would see above-average activity, with eight hurricanes and three that would develop into major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.
An average season has six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. But an August 8 outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called for six to nine hurricanes, three to five of which would become major hurricanes.
There were two short-lived Category 1 hurricanes this year, making it the first Atlantic season since 1968 when no storm made it beyond the first level of intensity, according to the National Hurricane Center.
It has also been a year marked by the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982 and the first since 1994 without the formation of a major hurricane.
In terms of so-called "Accumulated Cyclone Energy" (ACE), a common measure of the total destructive power of a season's storms, 2013 ranks among the 10 weakest since the dawn of the satellite era in the mid-1960s, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.
"The ACE so far in 2013 is 33 percent of normal," he said.
Long-range hurricane forecasts are eagerly awaited in U.S. financial and energy markets, which quiver every time a storm bears down on the U.S. oil and gas-producing region of the Gulf of Mexico.
Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University climatologist, readily admits that the forecasts are based on statistical models that will "occasionally fail," since the atmosphere is chaotic and subject to fluctuations that cannot be predicted more than a week or two in advance.
But Klotzbach and other experts say the models, and seasonal forecasts, still provide useful insight into something as unpredictable as extreme weather even if they do not always pan out.
"Obviously, individuals should not plan differently for a specific season based upon a seasonal forecast," Klotzbach told Reuters by email. "They are purely there to satisfy the public's curiosity based on our best knowledge of how large-scale climate features impact tropical cyclone seasons."
Despite the season ending with a whimper, Masters said long-range forecasts are still worth betting on. "They have a point, as long as you understand their limitations," Masters told Reuters.
"You expect that they will have bust years, like this year. That's part of the game," he said. "But if you consistently bet the way they're going, then eventually over the long run they'll pay off."
Green/Left lies over British energy bills
The phoney 'ordinary folk' in Labour's TV broadcast: Millionaire restaurateur and Guardian journalist among interviewees saying they cannot afford fuel bills
They were supposed to be ordinary people appearing on a Labour political broadcast, venting their fury at energy price hikes.
But closer inspection reveals that, far from being average citizens, the participants actually included a millionaire restaurant owner and a Guardian journalist.
The party broadcast last night featured interviews with people struggling to pay fuel bills.
One of them was Beresford Casey, owner of a posh burger chain, who lives in the plush Primrose Hill area of north London – half a mile from Ed Miliband’s childhood home.
And another was Jack Monroe, a campaigner and journalist who has written for the Guardian and the Independent.
Last night a Tory MP slammed Labour for using left-wing activists to masquerade as ‘ordinary people’ for political attack campaigns.
Priti Patel said: ‘Labour’s party political broadcast would be a lot more effective if they used real people rather than their own coterie of left-wing campaigners and champagne socialists.
‘Under this Government, unemployment is down and the economy is growing – these are real measures to help with the cost of living, but Labour have opposed them.
‘This is same old Labour – instead of standing up for hardworking people, they’d rather scaremonger.’
Ed Miliband announced at the Labour conference last month that if he wins the next election he will freeze energy bills until 2017.
The Conservatives have derided this as a ‘con’.
Mr Casey met Mr Miliband earlier this month, when the Labour leader visited the Camden branch of his restaurant. The pair discussed the party’s policy on energy costs and business rates, according to local newspaper the Ham & High.
Miss Monroe is a food blogger and freelance journalist. She writes about her experience of living on benefits after giving up her job in 2011, saying the commuting and childcare costs were unsustainable on her £27,000 salary.
In the broadcast, she says: ‘Hot water and a comfortable living environment are things that you should be providing for your child. ‘You know in your head it’s not normal to put your child in a fleecy babygro and a jumper to go to bed, or to go to bed at 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening because you’ve got nothing else to do, nothing to entertain yourself with and the flat is cold and dark.
‘They’re making huge profits for their shareholders but people are turning off their heating and unscrewing their light bulbs.’
Beresford Casey is co-founder of the Hache Burger Connoisseurs, a chain of hip restaurants in trendy parts of London with prices at the upper end – £10.95 for a ‘Hache scotch beef steak burger topped with the celebrated Reblochon cheese’. The restaurants also sell champagne for £54.95 a bottle.
According to Companies House records, Mr Casey lives on Waterside Place in Primrose Hill, where the average property price is more than £1.5million. In the broadcast, he says: ‘You’ve got this industry which is very unprofessional … doing their very best to rip you off.
‘There are about six enormous companies and when ministers talk about competition it’s a bit of a joke really – because it looks very much like a monopoly.’
It also emerged that a mass email sent out by Labour from someone complaining about the impact of bills this week, was written by a council officer who has accused the Conservatives of being like the BNP.
Russ Tennant tweeted in August: ‘Be better if the Conservatives stopped using the BNP’s divisive tactics and language.’
Last night a Labour source defended the inclusion of Miss Monroe, who blogs about cheap meals, saying: ‘Like millions of people around the country struggling to make ends meet, she is showing how to make a little go further during these tough times.’
She insisted she was an ‘ordinary person’ but was also ‘proud to call myself an activist’. Mr Casey said he had ‘no affiliation’ to Labour, adding: I am just an independent business guy.’
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Posted by JR at 9:11 PM