Monday, March 24, 2014
Unsettling “Settled Science”
I was making a Costco run with my friend George on Friday, and the subject of the weather came up. It was a nice day, relatively speaking, but Saturday was going to be nicer – nearly 70 degrees. This was a nice change of pace from the polar vortexes and dump trucks full of snow we’ve been hit with here in Maryland for the past three months. Then I looked at my iPhone and noted the forecast calls for another possible large snowstorm Tuesday.
George said that seemed a little far away to predict such things with any certainty, and he’s right. Considering meteorologists rarely can tell you with any accuracy what happened yesterday, why should they be believed on what will happen next week? The fact is they shouldn’t.
What drives me nuts, as I told George, isn’t that they’re wrong so often. It’s the certainty with which they make predictions knowing they don’t truly know and so often are so off-base. It’s at this time that George, a medical doctor with a master’s degree in biology, a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and minor in chemistry, laughed, saying, “Nothing is absolute in science, except maybe in physics.” (Another area he spent a lot of time studying. He’s an over-achiever.)
It’s true: We know very little about the world in which we live or even our own bodies.
The Earth was flat and the sun revolved around it. Bleedings were prescribed for healing at one point by science. But we don’t need to go back that far to find confusion and contradictions in “settled science.”
Smoking causes cancer, but not in everyone and we don’t know why. Why eating a diet of fried foods makes one person fat but with normal blood pressure and someone else can be incredibly fit with a healthy diet but have high blood pressure remains an unknown. Science, at it’s most certain, is probability – sometimes extremely high, but still not 100 percent. And it’s changing all the time.
A few years ago, we were told saturated fat caused heart disease, and polyunsaturated fat was a “good fat” that was great for the heart. Labels were changed to highlight the absence of one and the presence of the other. Diets were launched. Cookbooks were written. Lives were altered. And it may all have been for naught.
The UK Telegraph reported this week, “Scientists have discovered that saturated fat does not cause heart disease while so-called ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated fats do not prevent cardiovascular problems.” This wasn’t just a 180-degree turn from what we “knew” to be true, it’s a full 540-degree loop from what used to be orthodoxy.
The fact is we don’t know which fats are good, if any, and which are bad, if any, with any certainty. What two months ago was known to be true, beyond any doubt, is now known to be false.
The true nature of science is truth-seeking, rarely finding. But in that seeking, some truth can be found. That smoking is unhealthy, even if it doesn’t cause cancer in someone, is beyond question. That a bleeding is not the best treatment for pneumonia seems obvious, even though it once was the treatment for it. It was the consensus, it was “settled science.”
The concept of “settled science” based on majority vote is the mantra of the climate change industry. Were pro-lifers to flood the field of biology, become the majority and vote that life unequivocally begins at conception, they’d reject the notion by a show of hands.
Science, by its very nature, requires proof. And proof is the one thing the hierarchy of the environmentalist movement hasn’t provided. Newsweek once wrote, “There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth.” (Emphasis added.) Quite a few qualifiers in that sentence, don’t you think?
This was from an article in 1975 entitled, “The Cooling World” about the consensus among scientists that we were on the verge of a new ice age. (Read the whole thing here.) The science was settled. The vote had been taken. We were doomed. Only someone forget to tell the planet because the ice age didn’t happen.
Yet the solutions proposed then – more government control of the economy and us, higher taxes, less freedom, etc. – are nearly identical to the “solutions” proposed for global warming decades later. Since the planet hasn’t warmed in 18 years, despite consensus that it would, the catch-all term has been updated to “climate change.” This empowered progressives to blame anything on it – cold, hot, storms, droughts. But the solutions are constant – the same governmental power expansion they’ve been seeking for nearly a century.
Their faith, if not their facts, remains unwavering.
They believe in “science” – just ask them – but they hide their data from skeptical scrutiny and coordinate efforts to “hide the decline” in temperatures. Science is the seeking and understanding of provable fact – it’s knowledge, precisely what these progressives and academics seek to keep from the masses.
Ironically, the very people who attack anyone who dares question their faith is labeled a shill for “big oil.” Meanwhile those progressives control the bureaucracy that oversees the government spigot from which flows billions of dollars in grants to academics to study more “climate change.”
This leads to an obvious questions: If temperatures are rising, and it’s an irrefutable fact that humans are to blame, why does it require hundreds of millions of dollars to continue to prove it each year?
The answer is simple – scientists and academia is every bit as addicted to the money that flows to the belief in manmade climate change as they accuse skeptics of being to money from oil companies.
Progressives have their agenda. The American public rejects it – at the polls, when they run on it in campaigns, or later when they are again found to have concealed it. But they don’t care. What they can’t get at the ballot box, they seek from the courts.
What they can’t get in the courts, they seek through regulation. When they can’t win an argument, they create a moral imperative to justify it (ironic considering they’ve spent decades telling conservative “you can legislate morality”).
“Save the planet,” “For the children,” and so on have been the battle cry of the greatest affronts to liberty this country has ever seen. And it’s all funded by the very taxpayers who oppose the end result – against their will and without their knowledge.
It’s the ultimate article of faith, a religion based not on a Supreme Being, but the supremacy of certain beings – progressives. But while there’s no proof God doesn’t exist, there’s ample proof their agenda does not work. Undeterred, they press on … ever “forward.”
The Holy Church of Global Warming (a wholly owned subsidiary of Climate Change, Inc. and its bureaucratic and political clergy in the progressives movement) are every bit as much a religion as any church you can name. It’s a religion based on faith not in a higher power but in a better, smarter group of people who know better how you should live your life than you do.
Just like those who tell you what’s good to eat, drink, etc., progressives would like people to believe science is on their side, and that once a vote is taken it is settled. Of course, science isn’t consensus. It’s not about a majority vote. And unlike the reality of their failed agenda, it rarely, if ever, is settled.
Lawmakers looking to renew the wind production tax credit that just won’t die
Unfortunately, we knew this was coming. The wildly generous wind production tax credit that provides 2.3 cents/kilowatt-hour of energy during the first ten years of a project’s operation, as well as the investment tax credit worth up to 30 percent of the costs of developing wind turbines, have been allowed to lapse multiple times over the years, only to be resurrected — zombie-like — shortly thereafter. The well-monied wind lobby has its hands full with the industry-wide freakout that ensues every time the tax credits near their expiration dates, since wind energy is so thoroughly reliant on federal special treatment for survival, and credits’ expiration at the end of 2013 resulted in a whole lotta’ wind project proposals making it in under the wire during last year’s fourth quarter.
But that expiration was never going to be allowed to stand for long. Via The Hill:
A group of 144 members of the Congress sent letters Friday urging their colleagues to renew tax credits that help the wind energy industry. …
“Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability so that long-term project decisions and investments can be made,” said the letter signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), along with 24 other senators.
“Without that stability, we once again risk losing many of the jobs, infrastructure and investment that the wind industry has created,” they wrote.
Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) sent a similar letter along with 116 of their colleagues. …
“We look forward to Congress, in particular the Senate Finance Committee, acting quickly to extend the PTC and ITC so that the U.S. remains a global leader and our businesses can continue building, expanding and hiring,” Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a Friday statement.
Dear Tom Kiernan and wind’s Congressional apologists (Democrats and “small government, free-market” Republicans): Since, as you say, the wind industry cannot “continue building, expanding and hiring” without these tax credits in place, maybe you are in the wrong industry. At this stage, by your own admission, wind energy cannot yet compete with alternative sources like natural gas — so maybe instead of throwing gobs of taxpayer money at building political preferred energy infrastructure that has yet to achieve competitive price efficiency, you could maybe throw some of that cash into R&D, or at least just stop wasting it? I absolutely agree that the wind industry needs some stability to work with, which is precisely why these subsidies should be eliminated once and for all instead of going along in this costly, torturous shame cycle of special-interest pandering.
Job Creators Sue Federal Government
For years environmentalists have usurped individual private property rights and thwarted economic development. Now, thanks to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, it appears that the job creators may have finally learned something from the extreme tactics of groups, like the Wild Earth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which have been using the courts to their advantage by filing lawsuits against the federal government.
On Monday, March 17, on behalf of the state of Oklahoma and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance (DEPA), Pruitt filed a lawsuit against the federal government, specifically the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The lawsuit alleges the “FWS engaged in ‘sue and settle’ tactics when the agency agreed to settle a lawsuit with a national environmental group over the [Endangered Species Act] listing status of several animal species, including the Lesser Prairie Chicken.”
The Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) is especially important, as the FWS is required—based on the conditions set forth in the settlement of a 2010 lawsuit—to make a determination, explicitly, on the LPC by March 31, 2014. A “threatened” listing would restrict the land use in the bird’s 40-million-acre, five-state habitat: Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas. The affected area includes private, state, and federal lands—lands rich in energy resources, ranch and farm land—plus, municipal infrastructure, such as water pipelines and electric transmission.
Understanding the negative impact a listing would have, industry (oil and gas, electric transmission and distribution, pipelines, agriculture and wind energy), states, and the FWS have collaborated to develop a historic range-wide plan (RWP) to demonstrate that the LPC and its prairie habitat can be protected without needing to list it. The RWP includes habitat management goals and conservation practices to be applied throughout the LPC’s range. According to a press release about the Oklahoma law suit, the cooperative effort has spent $26 million dollars on the voluntary conservation plan—which would be more than enough to protect restore LPC habitat, as well as to develop an elaborate state-of-the-art LPC hatchery. RWP enrollees are optimistic the FWS can cite the conservation commitment as justification for a decision not to list the LPC as a threatened species.
A DEPA spokesman states: “this designation could disrupt drilling and exploration on hundreds of thousands of very promising oil and gas lands in this part of the country.” The CBD has made no secret of their disdain for oil and gas extraction and has filed many successful lawsuits specifically to block development.
Pruitt says: “the sue-and-settle timelines force the FWS to make determinations without a thorough review of the science. This violates the original statute requiring sound science before listing species.”
Stephen Moore, formerly with the Wall Street Journal, explains: “Under the Obama administration, the feds have entered into a consent agreement with the environmentalists to rush forward a judgment on an unprecedented number of species. A 2012 Chamber of Commerce study found record numbers of such ‘sue and settle’ cases under Obama.” Pruitt adds: “Under President Obama, we have had sue and settle on steroids.”
The “rush” as Moore calls it, is being driven by the desire to get the decisions made under the friendly Obama Administration—which may appease the environmental base while, unwittingly, hurting Democrats in the 2014 elections and handing the Senate to Republicans.
The LPC decision impacts five western states, from which even Democrat Senators, aware of the potential economic impact, sent a letter to the FWS asking to delay listing the LPC as threatened. The next big listing is the Greater Sage Grouse (GSG) with a habitat covering eleven western states. If the LPC is listed, after the groundbreaking efforts to preserve its habitat, there will be no similar cooperation on the GSG. The GSG will surely be listed—triggering a modern Sage Brush Rebellion and costing Democrats the Senate (and some House seats, too).
The Democrats are in a bind. The rushed listings are being forced by the environmental base, which is myopically focused on the anti-fossil-fuel (job-killing) agenda of restricting oil-and-gas development on western lands and isn’t looking at the bigger political consequences.
It appears the decision has been made. Sources tell me that Dan Ashe, Director of the FWS, has called a meeting on Capitol Hill to brief the stakeholders prior to Thursday’s announcement. If he decides to list the LPC, Pruitt’s lawsuit could be just the first shot that ignites the new rebellion pushing states to take control of the lands within their borders.
Kent Holsinger, a Colorado-based attorney specializing in Endangered Species Act (ESA) issues, told me: “State wildlife management is much more efficient and effective than federal listings. Oklahoma and DEPA should be commended for pushing back on these issues.”
The environmentalists are looking at the end, but not the political means.
Revised global warming
The issue of global warming was revitalized for me when I made a statement that the current global temperature is 58 degrees Fahrenheit and this has only risen by half a degree in the past century. This stimulated a wonderful friend of mine, Josh Gnaizda, to challenge me to provide the data . The two of us together discussed and investigated the data.
What I concluded, and I think Josh joins me, is that the thermometer data which goes back at least a hundred fifty years is not very reliable because it probably covered less than 15 percent of the globe and was derived from a changing sample of thermometers.
3-23 satellitesIt didn't include oceans, the poles and most of the uninhabited world of Russia, China and Africa as well as mountain ranges. Furthermore there is strong evidence of changing and backdating numbers for different stations. This was evident in the disclosures about the Hadley Center at East Anglia University and my own records of the data. (It was a Russian computer college that publicly disclosed the email evidence of the fraud.)
Fortunately, at the very same time that a rise in global temperature was occurring according to thermometer data, it was the first year the United States put a satellite in orbit to measure global temperatures.
Since that time we have gathered 34 years of satellite data from at least five different satellites. There are two extraordinary advantages of the new data.
The first is that we do not have to deal with selecting thermometer stations to be added or subtracted from the data . The satellites circle the globe roughly every 90 minutes and they cover the entire planet so that the number they come up with after each circumnavigation is a reliable number. We have data now from 12,400 days.
The second thing that we have is observations of the most rapid increase in temperature for the globe, that occurred between the beginning of 1996 and late Spring of 1998. We know that that rapid rise occurred and was accurately measured.
Now that we have the data you can manipulate it by going to our Google Documents page here, and take the data to use for your own purposes.
This is important because the conclusions you come to are your own. They probably won’t match many other people’s observations of the same data.
My personal conclusion on the basis of this 34 years of reliable data is that if you take the full 34 years we will see a roughly 1.2 degree centigrade increase in global temperature for a century if it continues exactly as it did for the 34 years. That is considerably lower than the IPCC’s lowest estimate.
However I see two different global temperature patterns in the satellite data. One period was stable from 1979 to 1996. Then there was a global disruption between 1996 and 1998 that set the new global temperature level .3 degrees centigrade higher. It has been stable again for the period 1998 to 2014. If we project the pattern from the past 16 years forward we see virtually no increase in global temperature for the rest of the century.
I need not make any strong statements about global warming. If you want to take the full 34 years of reliable satellite data you will get a 1.2 degrees centigrade warming over the next century. If you want to take the most recent (roughly) half that amount of data, you will find virtually no global warming trend.
Its up to you. You have the data.
If temperatures don’t rise, the hype must..
If the temperatures don’t increase like the IPCC claimed, then there’s only one option left - to increase the hype:
UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed.
A draft of their report, seen by the news organisation AFP, is part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, likely to shape policies and climate talks for years to come.
Strange, given the IPCC only last year conceded that much of the predicted disaster wasn’t actually happening.
In fact, according to one of the most important climate-related measures of all, we are doing brilliantly:
US electricity system in regulatory and terrorist crosshairs
EPA and other agencies pile on costs and delays, as saboteurs reveal acute vulnerabilities
Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek
Government agencies are forcing us to spend countless billions on illusory risks and anti-fossil fuel mandates, while ignoring real threats to our livelihoods, living standards and lives.
America runs on electricity. Our lights, refrigerators, air conditioners and furnace controls, computers and internet, social media, radios and televisions, banks and ATMs, cell phone chargers and transmitters, electric cars and gasoline pumps, hospitals and schools, offices, factories, refineries, farms and water purification systems – all run on electricity. 68% is generated by fossil fuels, 20% by nuclear and 7% by hydropower.
Electricity reaches its billions of destinations through a complex, interconnected system of power lines, substations and transformers called the power grid. The entire United States is divided into just three separate grid segments: East, West and Texas
Without abundant, reliable, affordable electricity, America would sink into Third World status. If our electricity were cut off for a prolonged period, the nation would collapse into survivalist chaos.
And yet President Obama insists that electricity prices must “necessarily skyrocket” and the United States must be “a global leader in the fight against climate change.” Secretary of State John Kerry calls climate change “the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says there is “no more urgent threat to public health than climate change.”
In response, using faulty computer models and secretive pseudo-science, federal agencies are imposing “social cost of carbon” analyses, carbon dioxide emission limits and “carbon capture and storage” standards. They are implementing stringent pollution, drilling, mining and other regulations – and requiring costly power grid upgrades to accommodate expensive, unreliable, intermittent electricity from wind and solar installations. They are compelling the early closure of efficient, low-cost coal-fired power plants, with many remaining years of productive life, thereby raising electricity prices for businesses and families, and forcing ratepayers to pay for mothballed plants and new ones to replace them.
They are spending 20 billion taxpayer dollars a year just on climate change initiatives, while forcing the electric power industry to spend billions of dollars every year to comply with a plethora of rules. The Heritage Foundation calculates that EPA’s proposed climate regulations alone will cost our economy $2.2 trillion between 2015 and 2038.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is ignoring real threats.
On April 16, 2013, saboteurs attacked a power substation near San Jose, California, the Wall Street Journal reported on February 5. They cut fiber optic cables in a manner designed to maximize repair time and shot up 17 transformers, causing them to leak their oil coolant, overheat and fail.
It took them less than an hour, after which they disappeared into the night, leaving no fingerprints on more than 100 cartridges. It took 27 days to get the substation back online. Thankfully, grid operators were able to reroute power and avoid blackouts. Otherwise we could have repeated the 2003 transformer failure that triggered a cascading blackout affecting 50 million people in the eastern USA and Canada.
Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) director Jon Wellinghoff called the attack “purposeful, extremely well planned and executed by professionals who had expert training.” Other utility experts said it could have been a “dress rehearsal” for much bigger operation. One called it “preparation for an act of war,” in which a few terrorists with cheap bolt cutters and bullets unleash a real weapon of mass destruction – not an imaginary one – as calamitous as what an electromagnetic pulse or hacker-initiated computer system meltdown could inflict.
Many substations are in rural areas, with no human staff, protected only by cameras and chain-link fences. On a hot summer day, experts fear, by destroying or disabling a dozen carefully chosen interconnection substations and transformers, terrorists could set off cascading blackouts, taking down much of the US or even North American power grid for an extended period.
Communications, jobs, food, fuel, safe drinking water and other benefits of modern civilization would quickly disappear. The United States could be plunged into darkness, chaos, crime, anarchy and widespread deaths. Even smaller, less coordinated attacks could be devastating across entire regions.
Replacing these huge, 40-ton, high-voltage, multi-million-dollar transformers could take weeks, months, a year or more, depending on many factors. Few American companies make the big transformers, and those factories could be affected by the blackout. Replacing one behemoth recently took nearly two years and a 7,000-mile journey from Korea. Bringing one of these monsters in on rush basis could require a jumbo cargo plane that only one country builds: Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Who could launch such an act of war? Al Qaeda, Iran and North Korea certainly come to mind. Even Mexican drug cartels are suspects, after an attack on power installations in Mexico’s Michoacan State.
Nevertheless, within weeks of the first WSJ article, Russia invaded Crimea, Secretary Kerry said the “aggression” would bring “serious repercussions,” President Obama worked on his short game and March Madness “bracketology,” and 28 Senate Democrats held an all-night gabfest to rant and obsess about – climate change! None of them mentioned the threat of terrorist attacks on our grid and nation.
Just as maddening, responsibility for protecting the grid is apparently not in the job description of any US government agency. Homeland Security says it is the utility industry’s job, and FERC recently gave the industry until early June 2014 to propose new standards for securing critical facilities against threats of this nature and magnitude.
Thankfully, the industry is taking the challenge very seriously and is examining ways to improve both site security and the equipment replacement process. Mr. Wellinghoff says “there are probably less than 100 critical high-voltage substations that need to be protected from physical attack. It is neither a monumental task, nor would it take an inordinate sum of money to do so.”
Defining “inordinate” is not easy, however, especially in the context of other regulatory demands. Utilities will have to find the money, while also spending billions to comply with countless environmental rules of dubious value. The Congressional EMP Commission estimates the cost of hardening the national grid will be about $2 billion. But all the necessary precautions will likely run into the tens of billions.
Virginia’s Dominion Resources alone plans to spent up to $500 million over the next seven years to harden its facilities, the WSJ reports. Multiply that and 24/7/365 monitoring times numerous other utility companies, facilities and weak points, and the price tag is significant. But the Obama Administration and many members of Congress are intent on spending billions for climate change “prevention” and health and environmental rules that will bring minuscule benefits, because the risks are exaggerated to illusory.
Responsible federal and state legislators, utility companies and citizen groups need to make protecting America’s electrical transmission system and civilization against terror attacks a high priority – and a central topic in the 2014 campaign debates and elections.
If others want to make “dangerous manmade climate change” their central them, voters will decide which issues truly merit our uppermost attention.
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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Posted by JR at 4:37 PM