Thursday, December 19, 2013

Los Angeles Becomes First Major City To Require ‘Cool Roofs’

Highly reflective roofs are the coolest but not mentioned below is that highly reflective roofs, silver-coloured ones in particular, are banned in some jurisdictions because they create  glare problems.  The definition of "cool" below however is very loose and leaves even red roofs OK so this would appear to be a regulation that is merely for show and which would catch very few people

On Tuesday the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a building code update that will require all new and refurbished homes to have cool roofs, which use sunlight-reflecting materials. Los Angeles is the first major city to require such a measure, which was pushed for by the local organization Climate Resolve. Climate Resolve works throughout Southern California to prepare the region for the impacts of climate change.

UCLA research has suggested that temperatures in the area will increase between 3.7°F and 5.4°F by 2050. Southern California also already relies on outside sources of water to meet demand. With the state experiencing one of the driest years on record, climate change will make many different kinds of conservation measures far more critical.

According to the Climate Resolve press release, cool roofs, “can be more than 50°F cooler on the surface of the roof during a hot summer day and can cool the interiors of buildings by several degrees Fahrenheit, reducing chances of heat-related injuries or deaths.”

“Cool roofs are a win-win-win for the people of Los Angeles,” said Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Climate Resolve. “Keeping temperatures down on Extreme Heat Days will protect lives; energy efficiency will save millions of dollars; and cool roofs will help Los Angeles combat global climate change at the local level.”

According to the Global Cool Cities Alliance, reflective roof surfaces do not need to be white, but can come in shades of grey and even red. These surfaces reflect more sunlight than traditional dark-colored roofs, thus turning less of the sun’s energy into heat and minimizing the urban heat island effect in which urban areas are far hotter than surrounding rural regions.


Greece shows what Greenie pressure on energy prices could lead to among the poor worldwide

Hard-pressed families in Athens have been lighting open fires in their homes to keep warm as energy prices soar.

Millions of Greeks have been forced to burn wood in their homes after the country agreed to increase the price of heating oil by 48 per cent.

The move, which was under the terms of an EU bailout, was meant to see the price rise on a par with diesel and raise revenues.

However, the Times reports the plan has backfired and has cost the treasury £422million in lost income as low income families turn to raw materials to heat their homes.

The city now has dangerously high toxicity levels and health and environment officials have warned people to limit the use of open fires.

Alexandros Papayiannis, a physicist from Athens Polytechnic University, said: 'The toxicity levels are becoming dangerous. It's turning Athens into a gas chamber.'

EU regulations say countries have to keep air pollution under 50 microgrammes a day but this weekend saw the levels in Athens double that limit.

Temperatures in the country are set to drop still further and officials are now looking at shutting down industrial units to limit the pollution and families on low incomes will be given free electricity in a bid to stop them lighting open fires.

Athens-based consumer watchdog Inka says four out of five apartment blocks in the city have refused to pay for heating oil.

A 13-year-old girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning earlier this month at her home in northern Greece.

Panayiotis Behrakis, a professor in respiratory medicine at Harvard, said: ' Every citizen must show responsibility and restraint, or else all will suffer the dire consequences.'


Half of Britain to be offered for shale gas drilling

Fracking could take place across more than half of Britain under plans announced by the Government to “step up the search” for shale gas and oil.

Ministers said they would offer energy companies the chance for rights to drill across more than 37,000 square miles, stretching from central Scotland to the south coast.

Every county in England except Cornwall could have shale gas exploration, according to a map showing areas the Government plans to offer to energy companies.

A Government-commissioned report released on Tuesday said as many as 2,880 wells could be drilled, generating up to a fifth of the country’s annual gas demand at peak and creating as many as 32,000 jobs.

Michael Fallon, the energy minister, said that shale was “an exciting prospect, which could bring growth, jobs and energy security”.

However, the report warned that communities near sites where drilling took place could see a large increase in traffic.   Residents could face as many as 51 lorry journeys each day for three years, the Government-commissioned study by consultancy Amec said.

It also warned of potential strain on facilities for handling the waste water generated by hydraulic fracturing, the process known as fracking which involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into rocks at high pressure to extract gas.

There were also concerns over the the potential environmental impact on the countryside.

The areas to be offered to companies for fracking include several National Parks, numerous Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and sites deemed of “international importance” for conservation and wildlife.

So far companies have rights to drill in 176 “licence” areas across 7,300 square miles of Britain, mostly concentrated in and around Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Sussex.

The addition of the areas mapped out on Tuesday means more than half of Britain, and about two-thirds of England, will be open to fracking.

Oil and gas companies will be invited to apply for access in a “licensing round” next summer. Companies will then need a series of planning and environmental permits before they are allowed to drill.

Mr Fallon said it was unlikely that companies would apply for licences in every area, but admitted that the area in which licences are taken up could roughly double. The report suggests up to 150 licences could be granted.

Communities where fracking takes place have been promised £100,000 in benefits by shale gas companies during initial exploration, and then a one per cent share of the revenues if fracking succeeds and gas is produced.  Amec said this could be worth up to £4.8m per drilling site over the lifetime of the well. Total community benefits from fracking across 150 new licences could reach £600m.

Ministers are keen to encourage exploration for shale, which they believe could help to bring down energy prices.

A report earlier this year by the British Geological Survey suggested there could be enough gas in the north of England alone to supply the UK for more than 40 years.

“We have seen the enormous impact that shale gas extraction in the States has had on its economy, both on household bills and industrial prices. It has had a strong impact there and it has the potential to have an impact here,” Mr Fallon said.

“It will reduce our dependence on liquid natural gas. We import over half our gas at the moment and we face the prospect of having to import 70 per cent of our gas by 2030 if we haven’t found any shale by then.

"If we do find shale that will obviously reduce our dependence on those imports and reduce our dependence on wholesale gas prices. That in turn will be good for the economy”.

However the scale of shale production is highly uncertain. Amec’s report shows that in a “low” scenario there could be as few as 180 wells drilled in the new areas, creating as few as 2,500 jobs.

The report said that fracking could “have an adverse impact on traffic congestion, noise or air quality” . There could be between 14 and 36 lorries a day for up to 13 weeks of exploratory drilling, and then between 17 and 51 a day for a production period of up to 145 weeks.

Mr Fallon said lorry movements were “matters for each individual site”. He added: “Planning authorities have the power to impose conditions so the impact on the local quality of life will not be unacceptable.”

Peak annual gas production from the new licence areas could be as much as 706 billion cubic feet a year.

Britain’s current annual gas demand is 3.52 trillion cubic feet, and the total amount of gas produced from 150 new licences through the 2020s and into the 2030s could reach about 8.6 trillion cubic feet, Amec said.

A similar volume could be expected from the existing areas, Government officials said.

More than 650,000 cubic feet of waste water could be produced by each well, which could “place a substantial burden on existing waste water treatment infrastructure capacity”, Amec warned, although co-operation with water companies and local planning authorities could address this problem.

The report also warned there could be a “significant negative effect on climate change” at a local level.

The RSPB criticised the Government for failing to exclude environmentally-sensitive areas.

Harry Huyton, RSPB head of energy and climate policy, said: “The licensing area that is being considered covers many important natural areas, from Liverpool Bay to the Thames Estuary.

“We asked that the most ecologically sensitive parts of the country, such as protected areas, be excluded from licensing. Sadly, this scenario is not even considered in the documents released by the Government today because it might have the 'unintended consequence’ of restricting fracking activity.

“We believe that the impacts of commercial shale gas exploitation on the climate and on wildlife should fully assessed and that the industry should be strictly regulated to minimise any potential impact. Today’s announcements have done nothing to reassure us that Government will deliver this.”

The majority of the 37,000 square miles that will be offered in the so-called “14th licensing round” was offered up five years ago in the 13th round.

At the time, very little was known about Britain’s shale potential and so most of it was snubbed by oil and gas companies.

But since then shale gas has since transformed the energy landscape in the US and ministers hope it could do the same here.

Only a handful of shale gas exploration wells have so far been drilled while early attempts at fracking by Cuadrilla near Blackpool in 2011 caused two earth tremors that led to an 18-month ban on fracking.

Cuadrilla on Tuesday announced it was abandoning the Preese Hall site where the earthquakes were caused and would concentrate on drilling elsewhere instead.

Some of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies such as the French energy giant Total now want to join the search for shale in Britain. Centrica, the owner of British Gas, and France’s GDF Suez have bought into existing licence areas.


Senator to Obama: 'Stop Stalling' on Keystone XL Pipeline

"It is time for the president to keep his word, stop stalling, give us his answer on the Keystone XL pipeline and approve the Keystone XL pipeline for the jobs that it will create," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on Tuesday.

When President Obama met with Republicans on Capitol Hill last March, Barrasso says he "specifically asked him about approving the Keystone XL pipeline."

"And the president said his decision would come in a matter of months and certainly by the end of year. Since that time, we've heard nothing from the president other than criticism and ridicule when he talked about the Keystone XL pipeline. But the end of the year is here now."

Barrasso noted that President Obama's own State Department has said that construction of the pipeline would create 42,000 jobs.

On Tuesday, the same day Barrasso spoke, White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama "is focused every day" on growing the economy, expanding the middle class, and "bringing jobs back home to the United States so that we can have the kinds of industries and businesses that create good jobs, that sustain secure middle-class lives. That's his focus," Carney said.

So if the Keystone XL project creates jobs, what's taking so long for the Obama administration to make a decision? A reporter asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest about that last week. "I mean, this has been going on for years," the reporter said.

Earnest said the Keystone approval process was "slowed down" by concerns raised by the Republican governor of Nebraska about the proposed route of the pipeline.

"So I think that demonstrates the commitment of the administration to get this right. It demonstrates that there is -- that there are people in both parties who have a range of views on this topic. And, you know, what the State Department is doing is they're reaching a determination of national interests."

Because the pipeline crosses the border with Canada, the State Department must approve it before construction begins.

The reporter asked Earnest if this is a case of the Obama administration "running out the clock" -- delaying a decision so the pipeline will never be built.

"That's not how I'd characterize the ongoing policy process," Earnest responded.

As reported, President Barack Obama said this past June that the Keystone XL pipeline would not be built if it created more carbon pollution.

“Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest, and our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” the president said. “The net effect of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward."

In that same speech, Obama said, “Our energy strategy must be about more than just producing more oil, and by the way, it’s certainly got to be about more than just building one pipeline.”

The recent hiring of John Podesta as President Obama's energy and climate-change adviser has some Keystone supporters worried. Podesta is on the record as opposing the Keystone project, but he has said he will stay out of any decisions on whether to proceed with pipeline construction.

Secretary of State John Kerry, with whom the Keystone decision now rests, is also a true believer in climate change.

In his first major foreign policy address last February, Kerry called for the United States to work with other nations to "develop and deploy the clean technologies that will power a new world."

If  it's ever completed, the Keystone XL Pipeline would run 1,179 miles, carrying crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Neb. From there, the pipeline extends to midwestern and Gulf Coast markets.

Because the pipeline crosses an international border, it falls to the U.S. State Department to decide whether the project is in the national interest. It's then up to the president to say yes or no.

In August 2011, the State Department issued a supposedly "final" environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL, saying the pipeline extension would not have a significant impact on the environment.

But following an outcry from environmental activists, the State Department three months later decided to seek additional information on alternative routes through the  Nebraska Sand Hills.

Then in January 2012, President Obama denied Keystone's application for a permit, blaming Republicans for imposing a "rushed and arbitrary deadline" for him to make a decision.

TransCanada filed a new application for a permit in May 2012, starting the State Department's review process all over again.

Now, five years after Keystone first applied for a permit in 2008, there is still no final decision on the job-creating project


Death by renewables

“Even green projects have an impact on their surrounding environment.” Green energy, specifically so-called renewables, has been sold to the American public as the answer to a host of crimes against the planet. But, as Lex Berko points out in her post on Motherboard, “even green” has its downside. Biomass may be “renewable,” but burning it releases CO2. Then, it’s expensive: “A 100 percent renewable-energy mix from in-state sources could cost up to five times more,” reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). And, energy from wind and solar sources kills birds.

Wind turbines chop up bald and golden eagles, and other endangered species, like a Cuisinart — the taller turbines with longer blades (which produce more energy, and, therefore, is where the trend is heading) have a predicted annual ten-fold mortality increase. The authors of  a new study on bird collision mortality at wind facilities concludes: “Given that we found evidence for increased bird mortality with increasing height of monopole turbines along with a move toward increasing turbine size, we argue that wildlife collision risk should be incorporated with energy efficiency considerations when evaluating the ‘greenness’ of alternative wind energy development options.” If the Department of Energy were to meet its 2030 goal of having 20 percent of the nation’s electricity generated from wind, they project: “a mean annual mortality estimate of roughly 1.4 million birds.”

Hundreds of acres of photovoltaic solar panels confuse migratory water birds, such as the “once-critically endangered brown pelican whose lifestyle involves fishing by diving into open water,” to veer miles out of their way to dive toward what they perceive are lakes or wetlands — only to die from “blunt force trauma.” At the largest solar thermal plant in the world, Ivanpah, owned by BrightSource Energy, the 170,000 reflecting mirrors — designed to “superheat liquid in boilers”—literally fries feathers. The USA Today reports that the intense radiation — called solar flux—has singed some birds, melted feathers, and denatured the protein in their wings as they fly through the intense heat. Unable to fly, the injured birds drop out of the sky and die.

The federally Endangered Yuma clapper rail, the dramatic-looking black-crowned night heron, double-crested cormorant, red-breasted merganser, American coots, warblers, goldfinches, a common raven, and a barn owl — just to name a few, may get a reprieve from being lured to their death by solar power plants.

USA Today references a “solar-industrial corridor” along I-10 in Riverside County, California,

which was to have 80 percent of its 148,000 acres covered with solar panels or mirrors. However, it reports: “Today, that seems unlikely. Industry trends are toward smaller solar projects and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan-guarantee program has ended.” (Remember, last week, I reported on the crony corruption behind the loan approval process for BrightSource’s Ivanpah project.) Additionally, Friday, December 13, was unlucky for the solar industry — but lucky for the birds. Giving official recognition of the threat solar power tower projects pose to wildlife, The California Energy Commission announced that it is “likely to deny approval to a major Riverside County solar power project that has been criticized for posing an unacceptable risk to birds and other wildlife.”

The bald and golden eagles aren’t so lucky. The Friday before, December 6, the Obama Administration announced an extension of the existing five-year eagle take permit. Effective immediately, the new rule issued by the Department of Interior (DOI) will grant 30-year permits allowing wind farms to “accidently kill federally protected eagles.” The “rule” is in direct violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act passed by Congress in 1940. Once again, executive action trumps the law. The DOI decision prompted this response from Mike Daulton, vice president of government relations for the National Audubon Society: “This is going to lead to more dead eagles — plain and simple.”

To encourage Interior Secretary Jewell to reverse the decision, the National Audubon Society has set up a direct email option with a customizable letter to Secretary Jewell that states: “The 30-year permit rule is a blank check for the wind industry and provides no comfort or confidence at all that you will be protecting America’s majestic Bald and Golden Eagles and safeguarding their populations.”

Like the expiration of the DOE loan guarantee program has increased the likelihood populations of migratory birds will survive death by renewables, the pending expiration of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy could help the eagles and other raptors that are attracted to the towering turbines.

A December 12 WSJ editorial, Powering Down the Wind Subsidy, points out, as the subtitle states: “How Congress can achieve something by doing nothing.” The WSJ is encouraging Congress to “do nothing” and allow the PTC to expire as scheduled on December 31 — which would save taxpayers $18 billion over the next five years. Expire it may, as the current budget deal takes away last minute negotiations that got it extended last year—but that doesn’t mean it is really gone. The PTC has expired several times in its twenty-year history and has always been extended retroactively — which is what we may be facing this year. The WSJ states: “The wind lobby is now trying to get the subsidy included in a January ‘tax extender’ package and made retroactive.”

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on December 13, for the first time hinted, according to, that he may push the Senate to consider a tax extenders package. Wyden said: “If you didn’t have tax reform and you didn’t have extenders, you’d do crushing damage to solar, wind and renewables.” No mention was made of the “crushing damage” to America’s migratory bird population or to the bald and golden eagles.

Wyden will likely have his way. While, as I’ve written previously, Republicans generally oppose government subsidies and support the energy that actually works, and Democrats, like Wyden, tend to favor government giveaways and support the energy that they “hope” will “change” and actually work — there are plenty of Republicans who will help him push the “extenders” package and give the PTC back (despite the probable expiration on December 31). Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, where the PTC extension originates, and he recently predicted a PTC extension. With just a handful of Republicans, such as Orin Hatch (UT), Pat Roberts (KS), John Thune (SD), and Mike Crapo (ID) — all of whom voted for the extension in 2012, the PTC could be hailed a “bipartisan victory.”

Think of the millions of birds being killed by renewables. Think of the billions of taxpayer dollars that have gone down the drain in “the quest for the holy grail of cheap renewable power.” Whether you oppose death by renewables for avian or economic reasons isn’t important. But what does matter is making your opposition heard. Send your customizable National Audubon Society letter to Secretary Jewell and contact the Republican Senators listed above and tell them to stop supporting wind welfare.


Reddit has banned climate change deniers, and ripped its own reputation to shreds

Reddit, the massively popular links-sharing website where users post stories, pictures or info that they find interesting, prides itself on being open and liberal. It describes itself as “passionately dedicated to free speech”. In which case, why has it banned from its forums anyone who raises awkward or annoying questions about the science of climate change?

In a move that has been described by one British academic as “positive censorship”, a Reddit moderator has announced that Reddit is becoming “increasingly stringent with deniers”. The Reddit moderator says climate “contrarians” were too often expressing “uninformed and outspoken opinions”, and so the site decided to adopt a much more “proactive moderation”. Now, whenever a user makes a “potentially controversial submission” on climate change, the moderators issue that user with a “warning”. If the user persists in posting “potentially controversial submissions”, he’s “banned from the forum”.

Reddit’s moderators are really happy with the results of their war against the expressers of “outspoken opinions” on climate change. They found that by “negating the ability of this misguided group to post to the forum” (a long-winded way of saying “banning them”), there has been a “change in the culture within the comments”. “Where once there were personal insults and bitter accusations, there is now discussion of the relevant aspects of [scientific] research”, we are told. In short, having expelled outspoken, controversial “deniers” from its forums, Reddit now finds that its discussions of climate change are more measured – that is, on-message, conformist, uncontroversial.

This is pretty shocking stuff. Of course, all online forums – including Telegraph Blogs – moderate their discussion threads, removing libellous, racist, homophobic, and gratuitously offensive material. That is absolutely fine. Such moderation often helps to keep debates on track.

But Reddit is talking about something quite different. It’s talking about removing specific political opinions; it’s talking about targeting the expression of a particular idea – that the case for climate change is overblown – and squashing it. This is political censorship, designed to silence the expression of dissent about climate-change alarmism on one of the internet’s most popular user-generated forums. This is clear from the Reddit moderator’s description of what is being targeted – not just libellous or hateful stuff, but “outspoken opinions”, “potentially controversial” views, and “contrarianism”. In short, critical or eccentric thinking, stuff that doesn’t fit with what the overlords of Reddit consider to be politically proper.

Not content with having purged from its own site the wicked people who deny climate change, Reddit now wants newspapers to do likewise. One of its moderators says that if Reddit can prevent its pages being used as “a microphone for the anti-scientific”, then “is it too much to ask for newspapers to police their own editorial pages as proficiently?” So let’s remove so-called climate change deniers from all forums and finally deny them the oxygen of publicity.

That one of the supposedly most free-speechy sections of the World Wide Web can be so upfront in demanding the “positive censorship” of controversial viewpoints is shocking. It shows just how successfully beyond the pale criticism of climate change alarmism has been put, and how even the young, funky overseers of modern, open discussion forums are willing to rein in free speech if they see or hear something that offends their Greenish sensibilities.

Society is becoming increasingly intolerant of the expression of dissent on climate change. Anyone who raises sticky questions about the politics or science of climate change is branded a “denier” – echoing the victims of the Inquisition, who were likewise accused of “denial” – and risks being expelled from polite society. Reddit might now feel very happy and smug about the fact that its science forums have become much more polite places following the expulsion of certain “contrarians”. But it should bear in mind the great liberal John Stuart Mill’s point that The Truth, including about climate change, can only be established through having the freest and frankest public debate possible: “Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action.”



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


No comments: