Friday, January 17, 2014

EPA chief unable to say if the world has gotten warmer

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy wasn’t able to definitively say whether the world has gotten warmer in Senate testimony.

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions asked McCarthy to confirm a statement made by President Obama last year that global temperatures were increasing faster in the last five or ten years than climate scientists had predicted.

McCarthy couldn’t answer the question, saying that she only repeats what the climate scientists tell her. Sessions was not satisfied with her response.

“Do I not have the right to ask the Director of EPA a simple question that is relevant to the dispute that is before us?” Sessions angrily asked. “Is the temperature around the globe increasing faster than was predicted, even 10 years ago [as the President claimed]?”

“I can’t answer that question,” McCarthy said.

“You are asking us to impose billions of dollars of cost on this economy and you won’t answer the simple question of whether [temperature around the globe is increasing faster than predicted] is an accurate statement or not?” Sessions shot back.

“I just look at what the climate scientists tell me,” said McCarthy.

The hearing was meant to examine President Obama’s climate agenda and featured two panels of environmentalists, climate scientists and federal officials. Last summer, Obama pledged to use his executive powers to fight global warming. His main effort so far has been focused on banning the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

The EPA recently published its carbon dioxide emissions limits for coal plants. In order to comply with such limits, coal plants must install costly clean coal technology that is not commercially proven.


World may have to suck gases from air to meet climate goals-UN

Should be fun.  Very bad for plants, though.  They're made of carbon

Governments may have to extract vast amounts of greenhouse gases from the air by 2100 to achieve a target for limiting global warming, backed by trillion-dollar shifts towards clean energy, a draft U.N. report showed on Wednesday.

A 29-page summary for policymakers, seen by Reuters, says most scenarios show that rising world emissions will have to plunge by 40 to 70 percent between 2010 and 2050 to give a good chance of restricting warming to U.N. targets.

The report, outlining solutions to climate change, is due to be published in Germany in April after editing by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It will be the third in a series by the IPCC, updating science from 2007.

It says the world is doing too little to achieve a goal agreed in 2010 of limiting warming to below 2 degrees (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, seen as a threshold for dangerous floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

To get on track, governments may have to turn ever more to technologies for "carbon dioxide removal" (CDR) from the air, ranging from capturing and burying emissions from coal-fired power plants to planting more forests that use carbon to grow.

Most projects for capturing carbon dioxide from power plants are experimental. Among big projects, Saskatchewan Power in Canada is overhauling its Boundary Dam power plant to capture a million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

And, if the world overshoots concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere consistent with the 2C goal, most scenarios for getting back on track "deploy CDR technologies to an extent that net global carbon dioxide emissions become negative" before 2100, it says.

Temperatures have already risen by 0.8C (1.4F) since the Industrial Revolution. A tiny amount


Canada moves to Plan B on Keystone

Where crude oil is concerned, Canada waits for no country. It doesn’t matter how wealthy or how friendly that country is -- or whether that country is the United States.

With the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline stuck in limbo on the U.S. side, Canada’s Energy Board recently gave a thumbs up to a $6.5 billion pipeline designed to carry 525,000 barrels of oil per day from the oil sands of Alberta to ships on the British Columbia coast. The final destination is most likely Asia.

The development has the U.S. oil industry attacking the Obama administration over its drawn-out process.

“It’s taken longer to approve the Keystone XL pipeline than it did to win World War II, longer than it took us to put a man in space, and almost as long as it took to build the Trans-Continental railroad 155 years ago,” said Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute.

The U.S. State Department received the Keystone application in September of 2008. The 1,700-mile project is projected to create thousands of jobs and lessen the need for OPEC oil. Even with domestic production booming, the U.S. still imports about half the crude it uses.

The department says it is still working on the pipeline approval process. “The decision will be made after consideration of the full range of issues, including environmental, economic and safety issues, energy security and compliance with relevant state and federal regulations," the department told Fox News in a statement.

A spokeswoman said the department is working on a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Once it’s done, eight federal agencies will review it and issue comment.

Meanwhile, environmentalists in Canada, worried about an Exxon Valdez-style spill and climate change, are still hoping to block the proposed Enbridge pipeline to British Columbia.

“The decisions we make in terms of infrastructure set a course for decades into the future,” said Ben West, of Forest Ethics in Vancouver. “So the question is, do we want to be on a path to reduced consumption or increased consumption?”

Oil is Canada’s most valuable export commodity, and analysts predict a nearly tripling of production in Alberta by 2013. Many say that with a pro-oil prime minister in Stephen Harper, the country seems determined to get that oil to market, whether it’s with the U.S. or not.


EU retreats on global warming while US pushes ahead

The European Union is on the verge of rolling back much of its climate agenda, even as the United States is moving full speed ahead.

Europe will likely not require member states to expand renewable energy production beyond 2020, reports the German-based EU-Info News.

“It is becoming obvious that Europe’s unilateral climate policy, the whole green agenda of the last 20 years, has turned into an unmitigated fiasco,” Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the UK-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Even EU leaders are beginning to accept reality.”

The EU’s climate chief Connie Connie Hedegaard and EU environment commissioner Janez Potocnik remain “isolated in their push for a new target to promote green energy,” according to EU-Info News. Not even Germany’s energy commissioner Günther Oettinger supports expanding renewable energy production.

The European experience with renewable energy has been fraught with high costs and mixed results. In Germany, renewable energy policies are driving up electricity costs, leading one of the country’s foremost newspapers to declare that electricity had become a “luxury good”.

The country was attempting to get 25 percent of its power from renewables by 2050, but skyrocketing power prices have forced Germany to rethink its renewables goals. German consumers already pay the highest power prices in Europe, according to Der Spiegel, and generous renewable energy subsidies cost them about $26 billion in taxes last year.

“The promotion of green electricity costs will cost our citizens ($32.5 billion) next year, which is a lot of money that could otherwise be spent on buying new cars, furniture or on restaurant visits,” said Michael Fuchs, deputy leader of the Christian Democratic Union.

Not only Germans are demanding renewable energy reform, but EU businesses as well. The EU wants to generate 20 percent of its power from renewables by 2020 to fight global warming. But top EU business leaders are saying that renewable energy subsidies are raising power costs and putting the continent at risk for blackouts.

“We’ve failed on all accounts: Europe is threatened by a blackout like in New York a few years ago, prices are shooting up higher, and our carbon emissions keep increasing,” said GDF Suez CEO Gérard Mestrallet.

Committed EU officials want to make sure fighting global warming plays a major policy role in Europe. Currently, the only binding European-wide target on the table is requiring members to cut emissions by 35 or 40 percent by 2030.

EU-Info News reports that “the EU Commission is far removed from the European Parliament. Two committees are promoting three binding climate targets for 2030: 40 percent for CO2 emissions reduction and for improving energy efficiency, and 30 percent for renewable energy.” Though many EU countries reject the idea of Brussels-imposed climate targets.

“The old guard of green EU commissioners, however, are trying to salvage their green legacy before they leave office in the autumn,” Peiser said. “These green bureaucrats will be replaced later this year by a new set of commissioners who almost certainly will be less green and more concerned about Europe’s economic future and competitiveness.”

“The chances of the green lobby to push through any new binding renewables or climate targets are near zero,” he added.


Warmist propaganda coming to a TV near you

Where's Leni Riefenstahl when you need her?

This April, Showtime will start airing its ground-breaking climate change TV series on the experiences and personal stories of people whose lives have been touched by climate change. Years Of Living Dangerously is an 8-part series produced by the legendary storytellers and film-makers James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Weintraub -– together with three former 60 Minutes producers who have 18 Emmys between them.

While reviewing the segments for technical accuracy as Chief Science Editor, I’ve been blown away by just how visually and narratively compelling the show is. It is not just going to be a landmark climate change series, it is going to be a landmark television series, like Ken Burns’ The Civil War.

Much as the best, most innovative long-form drama has moved from film to TV, in shows like the Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Homeland, and Breaking Bad, so too with documentaries.

You are going to want to subscribe to Showtime for this one, as I’m confident it’s what everyone is going to be talking about from April to June.

Nothing like this 8-part series has ever been put on TV before, a collaboration between the amazing storytellers mentioned above and top-flight journalists (like Chris Hayes, Lesley Stahl, and Tom Friedman) and some of Hollywood’s biggest stars (like Matt Damon, Ian Somerholder, Don Cheadle, Olivia Munn, and Harrison Ford). They provide gripping reports of people affected by, and seeking solutions to, climate change.

As readers know, climate change is happening right here, right now — in America and around the world. It is the biggest story of our time, and it needs a big platform to tell it.

In a front-page New York Times story Sunday on why so many of the best TV shows seem to get aired on that evening, David Nevins, Showtime’s president of entertainment — the architect of hits like Homeland and Masters of Sex — explains that he puts a show on Sunday night “because I want to signal to the audience: This show matters. This is a big show”:

    "So, this April, when Showtime introduces its climate change documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” whose high-profile producers include James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Weintraub, the network will schedule it for Sunday nights. “It deserves the big platform,” Mr. Nevins said. “You’re not sending quite the same signal if you put it on Friday or Monday or Tuesday.”

Years Of Living Dangerously is going to be a very big show.


Australia:  Time to scrap Lord's Prayer in Parliament: Greens

The Leftism of Greenies is very blatant in Australia

The Lord's Prayer in Federal Parliament is an anachronism, according to Greens senator Richard di Natale, who is calling to have the prayer scrapped.

The acting Greens leader announced on Tuesday that when Parliament returns in February, he will move to end the reading of prayers at the start of each sitting day.

He will ask the Senate's Procedure Committee to amend the standing orders and look to his Greens colleague Adam Bandt to do the same in the Lower House.

"We have a very clear separation between church and state in this country and the fact that we say the Lord's Prayer in the Australian Parliament, it is an anachronism," he told reporters in Canberra.

Senator di Natale said that "modern" Australia was made up of people who had different ideas about religion.

"We are here to represent everybody. We're here to represent people of all faiths. People who don't have a strong religious faith," he said.

Senator di Natale, who describes himself lapsed Catholic, says he had had an issue with prayers in Parliament since his first day as a senator in 2011. "It was quite jarring," he said.

But he has been prompted to comment this week after government curriculum reviewer Kevin Donnelly argued that schools were too secular.

"When you look at parliaments around Australia - they all begin with the Lord's Prayer. If you look at our constitution, the preamble is about God," Dr Donnelly said on Saturday.

Senator di Natale has not yet talked to Labor and Liberal MPs about his proposition but said he was looking forward to discussing the issue with his colleagues.

"[When the prayers are read] there are a lot of people who are silent or who are thinking of other things," he told Fairfax Media.

Federal Parliament has been reciting prayers at the start of each sitting day since 1901. Today, this includes a preamble and then the Lord's Prayer. Since 2010, sittings have also begun with an acknowledgement of country.

This is not the first time the issue of parliamentary praying has been raised. In 1997 former Greens leader Bob Brown unsuccessfully tried to remove the preamble and Lord's Prayer.

In 2008, former speaker Harry Jenkins led a similarly failed bid.

The Greens' idea did not gain support from practising Christian MPs on Tuesday.

Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss said the government had "no plans to change the standing orders".

Government Senate leader Eric Abetz said he strongly supported keeping the Lord's Prayer, arguing it was "a very rich part of our cultural tradition [and] a humble acknowledgement by the Parliament collectively of its responsibilities".

"The latest Green attack is part of their ongoing attempt to rewrite our history and deny our heritage," he said.

"Our nation's freedoms and wealth have been built on our religious underpinnings making us the envy of the world. The Greens’ refusal to acknowledge their country's own heritage and rich traditions and beliefs is as sad as it is divisive."

A spokeswoman for Labor's Senate leader, Penny Wong, indicated her party did not appreciate the lack of consultation on the issue so far.  "We don't intend to negotiate with other senators through the media," the spokeswoman said.

Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus, who is Jewish, pointed to the US model where the House and Senate's opening prayers can be lead by guest chaplains of many faiths.

"Many Australians have religious beliefs. Rather than abolishing the Lord's Prayer we should consider adopting the practice of the US Congress," he said.



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.  

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